Midnight stroll part 6

My apartment is not what one would expect of an Undying. It is Spartan to say the least. On the small side, but I don’t need much. I sleep on a mattress, my taste in food is simple. I have a room I use as a dojo and another as a work shop and armory.

The collecting bug never really took hold. Many of the undying fund their lifestyle by holding onto things then unloading them when the trend swings back the second or fourth time. I once caught a tengu smashing Georgian furniture so as to drive up the value of his complete set, well the copies of his complete set he had made.Tengu are a mystery even to the undying. Nobody can figure out what their angle is. It is almost as if they get the big joke that the rest of us only hear in whispers. Fighting them is a losing game, Only Tokugawa ever managed to kill one. Legend has it that the tengu’s last words were to call the hunters of the twilight dream a pack of dumb ass flower sniffers and that he would be seeing them real soon. In my time I have sent four of them too meet the tengu. Here’s hoping he is laughing.I was lying in bed awake and thinking about what to do about the hunters and Lyle. Not to mention Marianne. The British used to call the maintenance of their influence in India and Afghanistan the great game. It is a fitting way to look at the interaction of the undying. A great game with out end, every player a master by virtue of survival. What else do we have other than the game of survival? Cards, checkers, twister? Cards are only as much fun as the wager. High stakes is often life an death, or putting an emotional memory on the table. Loose and it’s gone, eaten by some one just as empty. Watching two vamps play poker with all powers running including telepathy is a experience. it’s not enough to bluff, you have to believe.That’s what I am playing now. A high stakes game of survival except I don’t have a good hand at all. It comes down to the rock and hard place scenario, Kill Marianne and maybe the hunters will not dismantle my life, but Lyle will take the next century to pluck out my fur and leave me screaming for death. Then again I could let her live and earn Lyles appreciation for a time, but the flower sniffers will savage my life and kill everything I hold dear. Then there is the reality that they will all kill me any way. Reality also says that she is dead as well. Lyle will get bored and drain her, Fey blood makes vamps very very happy. The hunters will most likely make an example of her as an abomination. They are kinda touchy about mixing with dead, or anyone else for that matter. Drawing and quartering is kind by comparison. If I did it ,it would be quick and as painless as possible. If I leave or go through seppuku to make the hara kiri, they will savage everything. They want me to suffer, and incur the wrath of Lyle, if I cheats it is open season.

The knock at my front door snapped me back to the present. A nice polite knock, a tapping at my chamber door. Half dressed already I put on the happi with the crest of a long dead samurai family I used to work for. Truth be told I was actually in the employ of their rivals, but the lady loved what I did with her garden. I spent five years with that family, when the end came I made sure the lady and her children were no where near when the genin came for the rest of them.

The opened door revealed George standing politely with a note. A nice normal piece of hand made paper folded and tied with a blue ribbon. No Glamour or magic of any kind. George simply passed the note to me and stood there with his hands behind his back.“Do I tip you?”He smiled at me and nodded at the note in my hand. I liked how his mannerisms were relaxed and happy. A rare quality in man. Opening it quickly and scanning it’s contents. Unbelievable, Marianne was simply unbelievable. It was a non optional invitation to tea and a trip to the zoo.“George this is just too much.”“Does the lieutenant intend to resist?” He grinned and cracked his knuckles like a happy child about to jump off a very high swing. He was enjoying his moment of bravado.“No George the lieutenant does not intend to resist. Just give me a moment to dress” I said with a long sigh.“Pity” he actually looked disappointed.I padded off to my room leaving the shoji open. I just stripped down and tossed my cloths on the floor, my tail flicking quickly against my skin. George got a good look at me, scars, tail, and all. No need to frisk me later, he saw what I put on. This was a day for the nice linen suit with a band collar. Mostly white with an stitched pattern in it that was barely perceptible. A practical choice since in a pinch it’s pattern is just as good as a handful of rice on the ground. Vamps have an odd OCD need to count to minutia. Drop the jacket in front of one and they will start counting the patterns.

Walking back into the room I reached for my gun, knife and baton.

“The lieutenant won’t need those.”

I stared at him blankly and took the baton and knife.

“The lieutenant just spent a week in the hospital and is perfectly capable of knowing what is or is not needed.”

George and I walked to the waiting car. I will admit my jaw hung down around my toes. It is not every day you see a vintage rolls in Buffalo. She was sitting in the back seat. Elegant as always. He at had a tasteful black veil and her clothing was really out of date as usual, but she wore it with a bearing that made you just want to indulge her.

George opened the back door and she held out her hand to me which I took and brought near my forehead as I bowed, in a gesture of semi formal greeting. She nodded her head and smiled.

“Thank you for coming.”“Madame Chardon how could I refuse such an elegant invitation? George is so very persuasive.”She smiled and looked out the window.“I could not take the risk of a refusal.”George by now had pulled out into traffic. The seats were soft and the ride smooth even with that I could see her wince slightly as the car shifted and moved. A brief flash across her face. Looking harder at her I could see that she was sitting in a way to minimize pressure, her legs were straining slightly to keep her from sinking too far into the seat. Her cheek was a bit flushed and there was the faintest tinge of a bruise on her neck. The veil obscured her face just enough that with make up no one would know unless they really looked that some one had worked her over.She looked at me with that reassuring smile of hers and brought her hand to the choker at her throat. it had a beautiful wire wrapped stone attached. her fingers brushed over it as she went back to looking out the window. It made her look distant and lost in thought.“I never wear the leather one out or in mixed company.” she turned and smiled at meThe message was loud and clear she was more than Lyle’s wife she was his property. A captive. Rather arrogant of him taking the daughter of a fey noble house as his prize, and I thought I was playing for high stakes. Even the Undying find kidnapping and rape to be distasteful and aberrant. The courts would see Marianne as sullied and untouchable, forever tainted by Lyles touch. The vampires and the Fey are basically on opposite ends of the spectrum. Forever rotting vs. forever living and never shall the two meet, let alone see eye to eye. The mere presence of the hunters of the twilight dream spoke volumes about how high a crime this was.The park gently rolled by.“If you don’t mind me asking, have you ever been in love or is it true what they say about your kind, that to love one of you is to invite disaster?”Everyone asks this because of a Japanese admonishment to never marry a woman in a rain storm, because she is most certainly a fox and will eventually leave or worse dishonor you. True we marry after the rain, but it is an auspicious time. The rest of it is just man bitching cause they often have no idea how to get past their inherent jealousy of some one who will outlive them by eons. They also have this silly idea about ownership. It is rare to meet one who can see you for what you are and revel in it. I have shown my tail to a few who were open minded enough to deal with me.“I have been in love many times Madame Chardon.”The stereotype would be that I am a tortured soul who is just waiting for revenge or to die because my family was killed four hundred years ago. It would be a lie to say I don’t think about them near every day. It would also be a total lie to say that life stopped for me. Even when I was in the midst of being Yosei Satsujin -han I had a life that kept going in spite of everything.“Can you call me Marianne?”“I do not think that is wise, in light of who you are with.”“You know he is no more a monster than you are, Lyle can be kind and dear. He has a way about him that exists inspire of….”“Him being a predator?” my voice snapped at her like a whip.“I was going to say inspire of a hard life, but I suppose your view is correct to a degree. Even though it is biased and skewed. "

Her comment was sharp and tinged with a hint of anger, but overall she held onto her composure. The admonishment was clear. My past precluded me from making and judgments on the predatory condition of another. Lyle and I were both monsters. Lyle less so in her eyes.

“Please accept my apologies for being forward and rude. I tend to speak my mind when silence is a better tact.”Her expression softened as she looked at me as if I was some curiosity under glass. While not a reproachful look, it was some what disappointed.“Aka-i your not at all what I expected. At first I was surprised to see one of you so far from home. I thought your kind were more bon vivant, but you are so distant and serious all of the time. You resist any attempt at building familiarity. Hence my question about you ever being in love. Part of me doubts that you can let yourself go long enough to feel. Another part of me wants to crack the shell, to coax you out into the sun. Most likely my efforts would just get me pushed away as some sort of test to see if I was genuine. You must be incredibly lonely.”

She slid across her seat and onto the floor and made the short crawl to me resting her arms on my legs, looking up into my eyes with a slight smile. The car felt incredibly small at this point. I tensed involuntarily as my brain registered her movement and the intent behind it. I don’t like it when people misinterpret survival as a cry for help. Especially when that some one is the owned prized of a master killer.

“Even now your silent and stiff. It must be hard having such a narrow view of the world. Good and bad with no room for anything else. Can anyone ever meet your expectations?”She rose up still kneeling and kissed my cheek. Then sank back down. The kiss it’s self was not what you could call romantic, more sarcastic or ironic. It was obvious her intent was less than romantic, but I am sure Lyle would not see it that way. It was hard to tell what her game was, but it was the last thing I wanted or needed. Lyle if he read this on my stray thoughts would most likely gut me where I stood. Maybe that was it, a set up of panic to keep me from quelling my thoughts around him.“I trust that people have their own agenda, their own needs and that those needs are not often compatible with mine.”She smiled softly at me“So you trust your self enough not to get pulled into the games of others. Strong, cunning, willful and so distant, never fully engaged enough to get caught. "The car pulled into the parking lot of the zoo, the musky scent was heavy in the air. I was having one of those moments where I was acutely aware. The car moved to the front entrance and stopped. The sound of George moving to get out was loud along with the rustle of Marianne’s dress. Still woefully out of date.She grabbed both of my hands pinning them to the seat and rose up on her knees. George was stepping toward the car door. She bit my ear. Georges hand was on the door. the scent of her was subtle. No glamour. The door started to open slowly as time just hung there. I could hear he words and feel them on her breath warming my ear as she whispered to me.“I want to feel the furry of Yosei Satsujin -han on my skin”The door opened fully letting in the mid morning sun, its warmth and light mixing with the flush i was feeling as Marianne hit me with her master stroke. I took a deep breath of the crisp autumn air, watching the falling leaves past George’s head. Today will be a good death.

Midnight stroll part 6


Syracuse, United States

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