Author Topic: Surprise Visit  (Read 429 times)

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Offline Saiketsu

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Re: Surprise Visit
« Reply #15 on: August 07, 2019, 10:41:36 AM »
She cocked an eyebrow at him and huffed a sigh through her nose. Saraekiel had been the last person to ask for her help in securing the North. They had agreed on certain terms, including her support becoming a District Leader in exchange for his pursuit of McCloud. After tonight, she was reconsidering their alliance, seeing that the other dark angel had no political tact at a District Meeting. Zoheret glanced at Kerr, considering his presence in the background of this political plot. She didn't particularly care for Kerr Galvin, especially now that he was no longer her superior, but there certainly wasn't the same animosity for him as there once was - nearly two years of time passing after his supposed death helped with that - but she couldn't completely trust him either. A weak man with no conviction to stand up when things were hard. Zoheret did not forget how he had essentially abandoned the Oligarchy once the Mimic demons disappeared. Neither did she forget that he was one of the few men who had allowed her the floor to speak without disregarding what she had to say. Ambivalence was not her strong suit, and yet here she was.

She saw the potential for success with Ben; she saw peace of mind. But she also saw his youth, his emotional attachment to his own feelings. His floundering mistakes. "That depends on what it is. I have my own position to consider too, you know." Zoheret rolled her lips together, refreshing and moving the mauve pigment around on them. "But I'm not opposed to helping you."

Offline Satyr

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Re: Surprise Visit
« Reply #16 on: August 07, 2019, 10:49:35 AM »
He looked at her, assessing the harsh expression on her beautiful face, the intensity of her gaze. He remembered the casual insults she'd thrown his way and the hostility in her tone. But he believed her, because actions spoke louder than words. She didn't have to come up here and talk to him, didn't have to offer her private support, didn't have to give him advice even though it came with a verbal smack upside the head.

She was the last person he'd thought would invest herself in the outcome of the campaign, especially after the meeting downstairs, but because of their meeting up here... he'd mentally positioned her above Zeus. (But not as high as Charon).

"Thank you. I'll do my best to keep you out of it," he said, not wanting to taint her opinion of him further. He would only ask her for help if he absolutely had to, and he would keep his requests (if he made them) as miniscule as possible. But it was good to hear she was open to it.

Offline Saiketsu

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Re: Surprise Visit
« Reply #17 on: August 07, 2019, 11:41:17 AM »
Zoheret nodded stiffly and dug inside her purse for a business card. She pulled out a metallic gold and white business card, her name in a royal purple script in the center. She closed the bag and handed it off to Ben, expecting him to take it. When she spoke her voice had dropped its poison and sounded to her ears tired. "Just send anything you need to my receptionist, Michelle. I will see what can be done. Now let's hope some of the lessons you've learned tonight actually stick." She turned and covered the distance to the lift in a few strides, her heels making her tracks known to all.

She pressed the button to open the doors and the doors slid open and she was thankful that the cabin was empty now. "Now, I'm off to find a very stiff drink. Gentlemen, goodnight." She nodded at both of them and stepped into the elevator, pressing the button to close the doors. "Oh, and Ben," she called after him with a cruel smile as the doors closed between them. "Greece was wonderful."

Offline Satyr

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Re: Surprise Visit
« Reply #18 on: August 07, 2019, 12:06:52 PM »
Obediently he accepted her card with a softly spoken thanks and nodded, making a mental note about 'Michelle'. He would make a written note later so he wouldn't forget her name. He trailed after her when she went to the lift, which would take her downstairs without fuss - it always prioritised its destination after picking up someone from the penthouse.

At her parting statement about Greece, he looked appropriately contrite, shame of his waspish comment failing to colour his cheeks for he hadn't slaked his thirst since before the meeting. His expression spoke volumes of his embarrassment and knew that she had him on that one. He forced a smile and nodded - she would know that her words had hit home.

With his own words lobbed back at him, that was at least one lesson that would stick.

He waited until he could see the tendril of light of the elevator descend, then turned to Kerr, flipping Zoheret's card between his fingers. His muscles relaxed - he could feel his shoulders dropping and his posture deflating. He'd held himself straight upright when speaking to her and the difference was startling.

"Her exits are as grand as her entrances," he said to Kerr, glancing back quickly to make sure the elevator really had gone down before looking back at his sire with a sheepish smile. "That went better than expected."

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Surprise Visit
« Reply #19 on: August 07, 2019, 05:46:13 PM »
Kerr lifted his eyebrows and nodded in acknowledgement of Ben's words but his expression quickly returned to a frown, his teeth tapping around the bar of his tongue stud while he tried to decide what he was feeling about Zoheret's visit. His hands remained in his pockets as he stared sightlessly at Ben's hands flicking her card, his thoughts turned inward and to the past.

True to form, the dark angel had led with fire and attacked... with an offer of support and assistance? It was most unexpected. What could she be playing at? No doubt she was serving her own interests, yet her stabs at Ben had followed a general theme of concern for the city, which left Kerr gobsmacked. Kudos to her; she never ceased to impress. He'd always suspected there was something more buried beneath her hackled exterior beyond an incising intellect. Who knew it might be something approximating a heart?

He'd wanted to argue that he hadn't let the Oligarchy fail; he'd had every intention of returning from Austria after two nights and pooling everyone's resources in an effort to keep it going, in its own fashion. With a little redoing and rebranding, he'd have worked it out. He recalled mentally co-ordinating everyone and compiling a list of expectations as he'd flown through the night, away from what really mattered to complete a task only he could perform. He'd done it for the Mimics, not expecting to return some six hundred nights later to find his tentative mental co-ordinations of defences, artillery and supernatural resources had all been for nought.

Naturally, she'd never considered that he might have been as gutted by the Oligarchy's inability to prevail as she. 'Take precautions and batten down the hatches,' he'd said, anticipating they might face unknown challenges when the supernatural community realised their position was undefended. Instead, they'd hacked their legacy into convenient chunks and squatted over their greedy territories like stone demons on a building. It had gouged him almost as deeply as discovering the effects of Ben's and Ichabod's mourning. He would not have allowed the city to become divided if he'd been here, he'd have insisted on co-operation.

Despite her disparagement of him, he knew he'd have got it, too, because back then they'd been aligned with the interests of all. Now they were beholden only to themselves and their squalling districts, so loathe to risk anything that they hadn't even spoken in a fucking meeting. When had silence and furtive looks become a way to resolve anything?!

"Hard to know what to expect with her. She's certainly of the 'treat 'em mean to keep 'em keen' school of thought," Kerr chuckled, coming out of his reverie and focussing his gaze on Ben with a soft smile. "You held your own admirably," he complimented, kissing Ben's cheek and touching his waist almost dazedly. He couldn't quite believe he'd put on underwear for that. His mind was still racing. "She's never been a fan of Jake's but he's definitely top of her shit list, now," Kerr chortled in wonder.

Offline Satyr

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Re: Surprise Visit
« Reply #20 on: August 08, 2019, 01:56:59 PM »
Ben smiled crookedly at the 'treat 'em mean' comment but it straightened into something more natural when Kerr praised him for keeping up with Zoheret. His wheels had been spinning a little initially, he thought, but she was much easier to deal with one on one than she'd been in the meeting. He lamented his decision not to see her before the meeting. He hadn't wanted to approach her and then be accused of wasting her time.

"Yeah, I wish I'd known what they'd talked about after I left," Ben said, shrugging off his suit jacket finally and folding it over his arm. He moved towards the wrap-around lounge but dawdled beside the circular aquarium, a 500 gallon tank that held a range of aquatic life - reef fish, a couple of bimac octopi, jellyfish and a few seahorses. It was his favourite thing in the apartment.

"Did you ever have trouble with her as an Oligarch?" Ben asked. Funny how they'd talked about Zoheret a number of times but had never discussed Kerr's working relationship with her. He was still racking his brain about what he could do for the city that Jake wouldn't be able to jump on and promise as well.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Surprise Visit
« Reply #21 on: August 08, 2019, 08:43:03 PM »
Kerr strolled up behind Ben, wrapping his arms about his waist and linking his fingers in front of Ben's stomach, looking into the tank over his shoulder. "I'm sure Charon will tell us. I didn't get the impression he was happy, so I doubt it went well," Kerr breathed a laugh.

"And Zoheret was always... well, night to night was generally fine. She led the angels professionally and dealt with any conflicts efficiently. In person, she always talked down to me but she did listen when I asked her to do anything. It was mostly in group meetings that she was trouble. She couldn't hide her disdain and frequently spent the entire time insulting all the different species and their methods and generally caused unrest until it was time to finish. She usually walked away laughing," he muttered darkly, remembered frustration seeping through him.

Offline Satyr

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Re: Surprise Visit
« Reply #22 on: August 10, 2019, 07:45:11 PM »
"Yeah, I'm not getting a great vibe. I feel like she was... gaslighting me," Ben said, holding Kerr's hands in place. "And I had this scolded child kind of emotion when talking to her. Even when I'm being reprimanded by Charon I don't feel like that. Her treatment of me was very much like..." he paused, not meaning to give the name dramatic effect, but because he knew the power of the name he was about to mention he couldn't help but pause. "Themba," he breathed. "Like... who I am now isn't good enough, will never be good enough, only he - and she - are the best judges for how I should behave. That I have this potential, they want to develop it for whatever it is they want me for, and my purposes are not as important as theirs."

He huffed a sigh but cuddled Kerr's arms a little tighter, glad for his sire's comfort and presence, even though he could feel the thrum of his negative emotions as well as the positive ones.

"I get it's not a perfect world, that I have to play a different game for this leadership position, but they're not making it better by being secretive and underhanded, by never showing their cards." He straightened his spine. "When I win Central, I'll make a little mini-Oligarchy. She can scoff at having advisors all she likes. It's just a different name for what you used to have."

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Surprise Visit
« Reply #23 on: August 10, 2019, 10:15:29 PM »
A sick feeling of trepidation clenched Kerr's gut when Themba's name was mentioned and he responded to Ben pulling him tighter by squeezing back and rubbing his cheek against the side of Ben's head. The explanation of not being good enough to fulfil his own purposes made complete sense and had Kerr nodding his agreement. Zoheret really did treat everyone like her divinity gave her a direct line to the future and the right to dictate all present actions according to her own decree. The accuracy of Ben's assessment left him tingling.

Ben straightening forced Kerr to do the same. He pulled his head away from Ben's and looked at his profile in surprise.

"A mini-Oligarchy? You'll run the district with representatives for each of the species? Would you delegate power to them or just use them to advise? And you'd have the Ward enforcing things or are you planning on hiring an independent force? You know... I anticipated an unfillable void when the Mimics left," Kerr mused, sighing as he unwound his arms from around Ben and paced a step away, running a hand across his hair in frustration.

"Yet everyone carved up the city into districts while I was gone and... everything's fine. I was a fool when I anticipated the Oligarchy would come under attack. I - somehow - gave them the idea that chopping it all up and squabbling over it like vultures was best for the city. I can't forgive myself for that," he sighed, shaking his head ad scratching at it again, his other hand perched on his hip. "Hopefully you can go some of the way to rectifying my mistakes," he said, his mouth tight and turned downward at the corners.

Offline Satyr

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Re: Surprise Visit
« Reply #24 on: August 11, 2019, 10:56:23 PM »
The questions came hard and fast and Ben was pleased to hear them. He caressed Kerr's arms around him and smiled at the fish in the tank, adjusting his focus to see his partner in the mirror. Before he replied he was surprised when Kerr removed his hold and stepped away. Ben turned to look at him, shaking his head when Kerr blamed himself for something others had decided.

"It wasn't your mistake. The only thing you're guilty of is being ignorant of the vault you inherited, and you never got an instruction manual for it or anything," Ben said, reaching for Kerr's hands and gripping them in his own. "You can't blame yourself for them doing something when you weren't even here. All it proves is that you were the glue binding them together. You were successful in keeping them aligned and in order. Without you, they crumbled and fought each other and are fighting still. They're not so interested in what they can do for the city so much as the status they get."

He didn't want to address the other questions until Kerr acknowledged his agreement that he'd been the best leader the city had seen - even better than Halen, who'd had the idea in the first place, because Halen had been unfair in tearing Ben and Kerr apart.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Surprise Visit
« Reply #25 on: August 11, 2019, 11:30:11 PM »
Kerr allowed Ben to take his hands, listening to his defence and loving him for it, even if it couldn't wipe away his guilt. "I suppose so," he conceded broodily, staring at where their hands were connected. He gave them a squeeze with strength that would break bones if Ben were mortal, allowing an outburst of emotion to accompany the pressure.

"They infuriate me! Maybe they do the right thing by their constituents but put them in a room together and they act like children, trying to outdo one another! How is that productive? They know their roles are more than just that of figureheads, that they're there to serve, yet they're petty and small-minded and selfish."

His gaze lifted and he glowered into Ben's eyes, loosing his grip in order to hold Ben's face in his hands instead, his thumbs caressing Ben's lower lip. "And what happens if you lose this election?" he asked softly, his expression troubled. "Jake remains in charge and we live in his district. He's not going to rectify my mistakes, be open to reviving past successes. It'll just be more of the same," he frowned, admitting, for the first time, that there was a possibility their endeavour could fail.

He didn't want to think negatively and there was a sense of shame in voicing the notion, because it was almost like he was encouraging defeat. But Ben's treatment in the meeting tonight didn't bode well and the fact that voting would be restricted to the district where Jake had a very strong base didn't help. Ben could lose and the realisation sat like a stone upon Kerr's heart. Everything they'd done had been aimed at success, every move they'd made designed to bring them the win. It was painful to contemplate but necessary to prepare for, just in case; what if the election didn't work out in their favour?

Offline Satyr

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Re: Surprise Visit
« Reply #26 on: August 12, 2019, 05:58:50 PM »
The strong grip on his hands hurt him but he blocked the pain from echoing back at Kerr, not wanting him to feel bad about anything else. They moved soon enough to take Ben's face and when Kerr's thumbs were at his lips he pooched out his lips to kiss them.

At the suggestion of loss, something that Ben had considered on multiple occassions, he gave a sour smile. "If that happens, let's hope Jake likes you more than he hates me."

No need for you to upset him, he thought. He didn't really send it all the way but it floated out, pressing gently against Kerr's consciousness like a wish rather than an instruction.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Surprise Visit
« Reply #27 on: August 12, 2019, 07:01:38 PM »
Kerr frowned lightly at Ben, hearing his words but... distracted by a thought that he had to seek and nab. No need for you to upset him?

What does that mean? he asked, carrying the tendril with his thought so as to connect their mental bond with it and through it. The only emotion surrounding it was curiosity from Kerr.

Offline Satyr

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Re: Surprise Visit
« Reply #28 on: August 12, 2019, 08:14:49 PM »
"If I lose and if he hates us both we'll be at his mercy. I don't think he'd show us any. He won't think twice about steamrolling us and fucking us over. I know you think better of him than I do, so..." he shrugged. Use that, he thought again, but this time the connection was firm.

Kerr's history with Jake was a means to an end, in Ben's opinion. Their safety net in case things went wrong and he lost the district. It was looking more likely now that he was forced to find his votes in Central alone. If Jake remained leader he could see a few different ways the asshole could punch holes into their operations. Quietly vindictive, he'd probably wait three to six months after resettling his throne before making a move on them.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Surprise Visit
« Reply #29 on: August 12, 2019, 10:09:58 PM »
Kerr frowned, knowing Ben was right but not comforted by it. Would his relationship with Jake trump Ben's if it came down to it? Did they even want to risk it? This was becoming an even more miserable conversation than the one about the meeting.

"That's a terrible plan," he said wryly, emitting a bitter exhalation that may have passed as a laugh if it weren't for the concerned expression on his face. "Even I wouldn't feel safe gambling our businesses, our home, our livelihood on my past with Jake. I mean, I'll try but... it's not like we were lovers, we just worked together. If it happens - if you lose... I think we'll need to relocate. Out of the district at the least... out of the city at the most," he proposed, trying to sound certain but failing.

It wasn't much of a plan and it wouldn't even be that if Ben didn't agree. He hoped like hell it wouldn't come to that, he didn't want to leave the district, let alone the city, but he was afraid Ben was right. Jake could make their lives very, very uncomfortable.

"Either that or we accede everything to Jake in an effort to appease his enormous ego and continue as we are, with his boot on our necks."