Author Topic: The Brass Quarter  (Read 151 times)

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Offline Existentially Odd

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The Brass Quarter
« on: October 09, 2019, 07:12:14 PM »
Harm saved and closed out of the chart he'd been updating on the computer, lifting his arms like he was about to do a chest press and arching his back in a luxuriant stretch. Six sutures, cleaned and dressed and one sorry skateboarder dismissed. The night wasn't that old but he'd been at the clinic since four that afternoon and he'd be lucky to get out at midnight. It was time for a break. Unfortunately, he doubted the patients would agree. He got up off his wheeled stool and tidied the exam room, binning the paper liner off the chair, spraying and wiping it down with disinfectant and doing the same for the floor. His teal scrubs only had a couple of spots of blood on them; not enough to change.

His microfibre mop placed back in its cupboard and the room singing with the fragrance of rose-scented ammonia, Harm left to collect his next patient. It was a luxurious night, with three doctors in, so he hadn't had to do too much prelim or support work for them, he'd been able to attend to the nurse station-only stuff. When he got to the clerical window just inside the coded security door, he found his wish was granted but not in the best way. Mrs Warburton was in to have her foot ulcer dressing changed. She was a darling old thing, really, but the ulcer didn't get dressed daily, as it should, and Mrs Warburton's expansive figure was rarely washed fastidiously. The crazy old diabetic more often than not wheeled herself in in her squeaky wheelchair with her grubby cardigan stained with chocolate she definitely shouldn't eat.

Stretching his ID card from his lanyard reel towards the scanner, Harm waited until he heard the heavy-duty locking mechanism within disengage - and a loud beep sound - before he pulled the huge door open. He poked his torso through the opening and scanned the brightly-lit waiting room, sighting six patients. Mrs Warburton's wrinkled peach of a face lit up when she saw him and she waved but movement by the door caught Harm's eye before he reacted. The person who'd just walked in did not belong in a free clinic in this part of the city. He caught Harm's eye mostly because of the way he carried himself, like he was trying to be unobtrusive but failed spectacularly. He was too good looking, too well-dressed, too clean to need this clinic's help. That wasn't what drew Harm in for a second look, though.

Harm recognised him. He was Central District Candidate Ben Samson.

Ever since Luke had begun revealing details of the supernatural world to him, Harm had been desperate to know more. Luke would only feed him little pearls of information at a time, however, so Harm had sought more on his own. His joy had known no bounds the night he'd stumbled upon a selection of supernatural print media available at the night markets right near his apartment. The news agent had given him a funny look when he'd gawped at them but he hadn't stopped him buying one of everything available. Harm had read them all voraciously, disappointed to realise that they didn't have regular print runs when he went back every night since but ecstatic when any of them had a new edition. The most prominent articles had been about Ben Samson and Jake McCloud (which had been extra thrilling for Harm, because Jake was Luke's boss) and they'd all included photos.

Realising a vampire had no need for the clinic's services, Harm slipped through the security door and closed it behind him. He had to know what was going on! Now was his chance to get close to a real supernatural - and not just any supernatural, a famous one! Ignoring the hopeful looks being thrown his way from all the actual patients, Harm approached the blond with a nervous smile stretching his mouth. It felt artificial, like his teeth were made of glass and his lips were made of plastic. His skin felt too tight and hot and his heart was thundering wildly in his chest - he wasn't sure whether it was with fear or excitement. Even his hair felt hypersensitive right now.

A vampire, he's a vampire and he's here, holy shit!

It wasn't the first vampire he'd met nor even the first in the clinic but it was the first since he'd begun to understand how this city really worked. As he paused in front of him, Harm decided that Ben Samson was even more handsome in real life. His eyes were hypnotic, his face beautiful and his skin was just ridiculous. What fucking pores? He made sure his tongue and lips were wet before he spoke because he didn't trust himself not to end up croaking hollowly at their imposing visitor and scaring him away. That would be very, very bad. "Uh, h-hello Mister Samson. Is there anything I can do for you?" he asked politely. His voice was a little squeakier than usual but he was proud of himself for getting a complete sentence out, in front of such an overpowering presence. He hoped the vampire wouldn't be able to tell his body was under such sudden strain that his fingers were tingling from inconsistent blood flow.

Oh fuck, what if I pass out? Keep it together, Harm, fuck!

Offline Satyr

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Re: The Brass Quarter
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2019, 07:10:28 AM »
The streets of the Quarter had assorted trash against the corners of the buildings, like they were outlines of rubbish. Empty crisp packets, cigarette butts, discarded papers of the book, magazine and news varieties, fruit skin waste from oranges, bananas and watermelons, and so much more. He wondered why they were in a line like that, didn't the street sweepers pick them up? The streets here were pretty narrow, so maybe the large trucks couldn't get down here. When he'd turned down the first street, he'd seen a couple of small trucks exiting the Quarter with a skip each on the back - the slightly parted lids revealing they were over-full of rubbish. Guess the city's huge trash trucks with their tipping mechanism couldn't pick up the skips either.

The difference between walking down the outside of the Quarter and then turning down an alley to walk the inside of it was stark. It was like being back in his residential area of New York - tiny apartments with fire-hazard barred windows, buildings that looked like they needed new maintenance, people loitering on the streets because they had nothing else to do. There was a stale smell that came with the area that likely prevented most people from entering the Quarter... and the fact that he was propositioned for sex three times in his short walk down the alley and into another street. He turned the first two down firmly but politely but the third got a snappy 'I'm not a rentboy, fuck off,' because he'd been so vulgar with his suggestion. It was weird how that worked - usually the customers weren't the ones standing there, but walking through. Guess they did it back to front in the Quarter... oh, unless they were there to scare off people who didn't belong? He hadn't been game to scan their minds.

The streets were a little better than the alleys - the people were just people, living their lives. A lot of them had that dead-eyed look that came with the territory for some, while others looked determined. He recognised the look. It was the same look he'd had when he'd lived north of the city in a rundown house with two other renters. Determination to get out and be something better. Well, he'd got out and become a vampire, but it wasn't like he'd earnt a living for himself, he'd just managed to be sired by someone rich. It wasn't exactly TED talk material.

When he was close to the end of the first street, he spied another alley that would take him into the next part of the Quarter. There were no people hanging around this one. When he went down it, a piece of graffiti caught his eye. It was hot pink and looked fresh, standing out from all the other tags. A wolf head, a stick figure of a person where the brain should be, and a circle around the whole picture. He would've thought it was a shifter tag if not for the circle. He interpreted it as the moon. Werewolf, then. Some of the pink circle was covering what looked like an old plaque. It was a big one - big enough for Ben to wonder what it was, but it was so grimy. He looked around and spied half a shirt on the ground. It was dirty as well, but not terrible. He used it to wipe the plaque and clean it as best he could. It was still dirty and hard to read because it was rusty, but his vision picked it up.

'THE BRASS QUARTER' written in large capital letters along the top, with two paragraphs of information in sentence case beneath. He read enough of it to realise that this area of the city - at one point - was supposed to provide housing for the homeless. A project from one 'Peter A. Brass' who'd had a scheme for ten blocks but had only raised enough money for four. It was something that had happened in the 1920s. All of the residential buildings had been rent-free for five years and were then designated to be cheap rent for the rest of their lifetime. The charity organisation keeping them maintained was 'Helpful Housing' and there was a logo of it in one corner and Peter A. Brass' signature in the other. Ben remembered that particular charity. It had become defunct in the sixties. Not enough people had supported it so they'd sold building after building until the money ran out. They'd limped along with two buildings until the early eighties and then they'd folded. He knew about it because his mother had told him she lived in the city as a little kid, in one of those last two buildings, and then they'd had to move because after it was sold the rent went up.

Sighing, Ben moved down the alley and spied a bright glow in the next street. It advertised itself as a free clinic. Huh. He hadn't realised that they were still around. A thought occurred to him that maybe they knew about supernaturals and helped them too? He loitered around the front, looking in. None of the people in the waiting area looked supernatural but the triage nurse behind the counter was extremely pale. With her glossy black hair she could be a goth, not a vampire though. He would only know if he got closer. Intrigued, he opened the door and entered.

He kept his gaze averted from everybody else in the waiting room, not wanting to advertise his shiny blue eyes more than the usual. There was a pamphlet display near the reception desk where the triage nurse sat. Ben turned to those and focussed on the nurse. Ah, a heartbeat. So, a goth nurse, not a vampire. He was looking at a pamphlet, a cheap one advertising a soup-kitchen in the Quarter, when someone walked into the waiting room from the back. A nurse or doctor judging by the clothing.

When the nurse/doctor came straight up to him, Ben looked his way. The expression on his face was hard to place. Shock, maybe? Ben thought maybe he'd made a mistake; perhaps the guy thought he was anaemic. Ben could just pass himself off as a goth. A blond goth. Eh. But then the guy said his name and Ben did a micro double-take. He'd been recognised? It had happened enough times recently that he knew it was from the campaign posters around the supe areas and the ads in the papers. It had been different when he'd been a model - they hadn't known his name.

"Ah, yeah. Can we talk in the back or are you too busy?" he asked, wanting to get away from all the staring people. If the nurse/doctor was too busy, then he would come back later.


Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: The Brass Quarter
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2019, 10:40:49 PM »
"No!" Harm cried, his expression showing how surprised he was by the request. The fact that he stayed there staring a beat too long also made it obvious but he soon snapped out of it and shot Ben an excited smile. "I can make time. Absolutely. Come this way," he beckoned, backing up a few steps before he spun around and headed for the door.

After a few steps, the grumbles of dissent rose in the waiting room, alerting Harm to the fact that it looked like he'd come to personally collect a guy that didn't appear to need help and who hadn't been waiting as long as any of them. Feeling bad, he veered towards Mrs Warburton in her wheelchair, put his hand on her shoulder and bent towards her briefly. "I'll be right back, okay, darlin'? You alright for a little bit longer?"

"I'm alright, Harm," the old woman agreed, beaming worshipfully up at him.

"Okay, lovely. I won't be long," he smiled, straightening up and sharing that last sentiment with the room at large. Most of them needed to see doctors not him, anyway, they were just so used to missing out, they bitched out of habit more than anything. The grumbles dwindled into mutters and dirty looks that Harm felt fine with ignoring. He swept back towards the security door, raising a finger towards Kiyani, the receptionist trapped behind her screen of thick bulletproof glass, indicating he just needed a short time before he got back to work. She nodded, staring curiously at the man he had in tow.

Harm reeled his ID card from the lanyard hanging around his neck out towards the scanner while his other hand held the coded door handle, his thumb a blur as he typed in his security number. The lock disengaged with a beep and Harm's ID card retracted to his chest as he ushered Ben into the sterile corridor beyond. It was lined with a few sample carts, scales, IV stands and machines situated against the walls in between the twelve doors. A very tall, broad security guard turned their way from his position towards the other end of the hallway, his body language broadcasting that he was poised to enter the exam room he was outside of if he heard the slightest noise that worried him but he lifted his chin questioningly when he saw Harm, looking past him at Ben. Harm smiled and shook his head minutely, telling Mack he wouldn't need his help.

He led his VIP guest into the nearest empty exam room, holding the door open for him to enter before he closed it behind them. The room held the standard supply cupboards and sink against the far wall and a procedure chair in the centre of the room. It could become a flat exam bed but had been left in an upright state, close to the floor for ease of sitting. A computer sat on the desk against the side wall, a wheeled stool in front of it. "Please, feel free to sit," Harm invited, gesturing at the padded procedure chair and pulling up the stool for himself. Whether Ben sat or not, Harm swivelled towards him and smiled expectantly. "What brings you to our little slice of paradise tonight?"

Harm took a steadying breath, trying to calm himself down as he pulled his latex gloves off and laid them across his thigh. It was so weird to not only be looking at a vampire but an important one. He knew more about the upcoming election from the tabloids he'd read than from Luke and he knew he was going to be allowed to vote. He lived in the district! His invitation to the upcoming carnival had only confirmed it for him. Truthfully, not knowing a whole lot about any of it, he'd pretty much assigned his vote to Ben's opponent based solely on the fact that Jake McCloud was Luke's boss. They hadn't talked about it but he'd figured loyalty by association would please his... whatever the hell Luke was (lover? Friend? Associate?).

Either way, he was highly impressed to see Ben Samson in the clinic. His opponent hadn't been anywhere near the place and he was currently the District Leader. Maybe he was secure in his position and didn't feel the need to check out the district's dirtiest secret - while Samson was new and needed to suck up - but it was hard not to be persuaded by his handsome presence. At least he'd bothered to visit. Harm couldn't wait to hear what he had to say.

Offline Satyr

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Re: The Brass Quarter
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2019, 04:12:35 PM »
Ben picked up the soup kitchen pamphlet and followed Harm past the people in the waiting room, pointedly ignoring their stares because he didn't want to feel guilty. If the nurse/doctor said that he was free when he was really busy, then that was on him and not Ben's fault. The old woman caught his attention when Harm addressed her, but Ben only paused and was on Harm's heels again.

In the private room, Ben chose to sit on the padded chair though he looked uncomfortable doing so. He would've preferred the stool. Slice of paradise? Ben took a moment to collect his thoughts, thinking that this doctor/nurse guy had a way about him that wasn't easy for him to get a read on him. There had been recognition and adoration in his eyes initially, Ben had thought, but that was gone and now he only saw curiosity. There was probably more there but all he could feel was the doctor/nurse's interest in him and his answer. Ben paid more attention to the name badge on the other's scrubs, and whether it came with a title.

"I don't know a lot about the Quarter. I never felt safe to step foot in here as a mortal. Have you worked here long? Do you know if it's just regular folk who come in here or do you have, um... other services?"

Ben's gaze left Harm's eyes and bounced around the room to see if there was any evidence of it being supe friendly. He couldn't see anything that stood out.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: The Brass Quarter
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2019, 08:25:54 PM »
"Interesting question," Harm commended, pulling a wry face as he tilted his head and thoughtfully rubbed the area behind his square jaw and up under his ear. The rusk of new beard coming in was a soft whisper when his nails scraped the blond fuzz. The sound centred him as he gathered his thoughts to answer. It was a strange thrill to hear the vampire so casually refer to 'when he was mortal' and so many personal questions blossomed in his mind that he had to really think before he spoke. "I'm Harm, by the way," he began, flashing a smile and dropping his hand from his jaw to his ID badge, lifting it and holding it up for Ben's perusal. He dropped it when he got an indication that Ben had read it. It had his full name and identified his role as a Registered Nurse. He figured the vampire had noticed it but it was more polite to identify himself, considering his companion needed no introduction.

"I've been in the city, uh, about four years. I'm a nurse at one of the hospitals in the CBD but I volunteer here on my days off - when I can manage it. Sometimes my actual job wipes me out too much to come here but they appreciate all the help they can get. I've been coming here for almost three years. It took a year before anything untoward happened. Looking back, I remembered signs - looks exchanged between the doctors and the office manager, Mack the security guard getting particularly antsy with some patients and not others, weird procedures with weirder outcomes that no-one would explain to me - but hindsight, y'know?" Harm shrugged, smiling almost apologetically into Ben's amazing eyes.

"That night - the night I figured it out - was crazy. Three GSWs, multiple stabbings and a fight in the waiting room. In the middle of all that, this guy comes in, shouting and crying, carrying what I thought initially was a body. He's screaming, 'Help me! Somebody help my boyfriend, please!' and in the middle of all that chaos, I just grabbed him and brought him through. Turned out the guy had a pulse but it was thready and the guy - the one that brought him in - starts babbling about being a vampire and he's only new and he didn't mean to drink so much, he just couldn't stop. I didn't have time to listen to him, I thought he was just another crackhead making weird shit up but I put about four bags of blood into his boyfriend and, you wouldn't believe it, he woke up, got up and just left! With a vampire!"  Harm laughed, his expression recreating the incredulity he'd felt on the night.

He sobered, looking sheepishly at the vampire he was with. "A few months after that there were a couple of bro-dudes that came in on one of the days during a full moon and they were pretty fucked up; fractures needing splints, cuts needing stitches, a dislocated shoulder on one and a finger on the other. They were going on about the wild time they'd had the night before and where they'd woken up once they 'changed back', pissed off they hadn't healed better but not surprised after what they'd done. So I figured werewolves were a thing as well as vampires. I've learnt more since then - and I can't wait for the carnival you invited me to next weekend! - but there's always more to know. I said your question was interesting because of those nights. We don't offer any particular services for the supernaturals but they still come here. They're in our patients' lives, they're around all the time. We keep the blood locked in the vault with the meds, just in case. So, no extra help but... kind of yes?" he answered with a guileless smile, his blue-green eyes wide with interest as he waited for Ben's verdict on his answer.

Offline Satyr

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Re: The Brass Quarter
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2019, 09:29:57 PM »
Ben was horrified but not surprised about the supes coming into the clinic. When the Luminary had been overhauled, he and Kerr had arranged for a clinic and a doctor and nurse fulltime on staff to look after the donors and the guests that stayed with them. It was a private, well-stocked clinic and it suited their purposes. Ben considered that the Luminary's clinic could be made available to all supernaturals - instead of coming here they could go to the Luminary, which was still in the city central albeit the other side of it. The Quarter was closer to the White Rabbit... so people from the Quarter probably wouldn't even want to enter a flashy building, feeling like they didn't belong or that it wouldn't accept them. And what kind of problems would they attract? Fights in the waiting room? The Luminary couldn't afford a reputation for brawling, the VIP suites came with a high price tag because of the dedicated donors. They were only just starting to get some momentum with paying guests, he didn't want them scared away because of the clinic attracting violence. So no, their clinic had to stay private.

"That is all kinds of wrong," Ben said steadily after his quick consideration of what Harm had said. "Weres are supposed to transform in secure facilities so they don't pass on their curse to others, and there's some kind of presence of a were-gang in the Quarter, which doesn't ease my mind any. I saw some graffiti before coming in here. Do you mind if I show you?"

Perhaps Harm would think that Ben would show him by drawing it on a piece of paper, but as soon as Ben had consent, he reached out to touch Harm's mind before sending the image of what he'd seen and then pulling back.

"The vampire thing is a separate issue. It sounds like we need a place for our wounded to go so they don't reveal themselves in hospitals or clinics like this one." Ben considered what that would cost and how it would run. That was just one issue the Quarter had, but at least he had the solution for one problem. There were so many in here that he couldn't look at the Quarter as a whole. It was certainly the kind of place that needed a lot of attention and no easy fix.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: The Brass Quarter
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2019, 10:13:50 PM »
Harm eagerly agreed to Ben sharing the gang sign, expecting him to show him a picture on his phone. He wheeled his stool a little closer. When a foreign image appeared in his mind, however, Harm cocked his head, frowning. He opened his mouth to say... something that didn't come, shocked to realise Ben had just showed him the picture in his mind. To say he was stunned would be a severe understatement... but then the absolute coolness of Ben putting something in his fucking mind overwhelmed him and sent tingles of excitement through his whole body.

"That is so cool, man!" he gushed then realised he needed to start paying attention to what Ben was saying. Something about vampires not showing up at the clinic and the hospital? It was kind of too late for that. Harm shrugged. "If you say so. It doesn't happen often enough to worry the folks that work here. I've only had those two obvious incidents in three years. Do you guys get many injuries?" he frowned, thinking it was more likely the humans that interacted with the supernaturals that needed help, not the other way round.


Offline Satyr

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Re: The Brass Quarter
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2019, 10:33:12 PM »
Ben was looking around the room when Harm asked his question, his gaze falling on foreign pieces of equipment and machinery, trying to remember what it was like to be human and need those things. He'd not gone to doctors a lot when he'd been living because he hadn't had insurance. Doctors were expensive and now he had no use for them.

"I'm young. If I get wounded badly I'd need blood to help me heal," he said, thinking of how Themba had beaten him so badly he hadn't been able to move for most of a night. He shifted on the chair before he returned his gaze to Harm. "The difference being I'd just drink it."

He stared at the nurse, wondering what else he'd seen that he hadn't identified as a supernatural. "You give your time to the clinic to help these people. What else would help?" Ben pulled the folded up pamphlet out of his jeans pocket and opened it up to look at it. "Soup kitchens are great, but humans who aren't in the know are not my constituents. At the same time I don't know that I should ignore them, either." Another thought occurred to him. "So you've known for two years? Do you know about the earlier setup? The Oligarchy?"

Harm had recognised him from the current media around the place. He might've picked up some more historical tabloids from someone or somewhere else - or maybe there were articles about the way things used to be. Who knew?

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: The Brass Quarter
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2019, 11:04:27 PM »
Harm was delighted as another bit of information about vampires was dropped casually before him. Ben was young and if he was badly injured, he'd need blood to help him heal. "Yeah," he agreed to Ben just drinking the blood he'd need, his thoughts drifting. He wondered how much blood would be needed and, as usual, thought about what it would feel like to be the one being drunk from. He'd heard good things... how good could it be, though? He imagined what would happen if he asked Ben to drink from him, right here and now and licked his lips as he thought of those pretty lips on his throat. Would it hurt before it got better? Could it really be as good as Jude - one of his colleagues - had implied?

Blinking, Harm pulled himself out of his imagination as some sticky questions were asked. Here, he'd have to tread lightly. His lips pressed gently closed and his tongue prodded into the side of his cheek as he considered how much to say. He'd be honest, he decided. "Well... the thing is, folks around here, they're proud. I mean this is a free clinic, no questions asked, but you'd be stunned by how many people pay for their consults. Like, most of them. They're proud people down here. They're not interested in charity. They might only pay five dollars but to most of them, that's a lot and it gives them their dignity.

"You're not going to be able to help them easily. Money's not the answer; giving them dignity is. Jobs are what a lot of them need - jobs that pay more than eight dollars an hour. That'd stop them doing illegal shit to make their cash and all the trouble that comes with that; too many drugs, gangs, fights. It's a systemic problem and I admit, I get fucking frustrated with putting band aids on wounds I can't heal but sometimes... it's what's needed and all that can be done. Maybe most of them aren't your constituents but they're in your district, whether you like it or not. You shouldn't ignore them," he agreed, his passion for his topic rousing two red spots of ardour in his pale cheeks. They grew into a blush as he heard himself getting ranty at someone he didn't know - and who was good enough to ask the question in the first place.

"Sorry. I don't mean to... it's just hard. I see so many people suffering. I want better for them but I don't have answers for you. As for the Oligarchy... I've read about it. I... I'm seeing a guy that... uh, well, he works for your opponent, actually," Harm admitted, scratching an itch that had sprung up on the back of his neck. "Luke. He's Jake McCloud's... Sheriff, I believe he's called. He's told me some things about your government, answered a few questions for me - but he mostly tries to steer me away from any of the... monsters, he calls them. He doesn't want me hurt. I know the Oligarchy was the previous government arrangement for supernaturals but now you have the districts. I dunno when or why it changed," he admitted with an affable shrug.

Offline Satyr

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Re: The Brass Quarter
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2019, 11:21:48 PM »

Ben listened to Harm's impassioned speech, knowing that the nurse cared about the people here and didn't want them forgotten, but Ben couldn't help everyone and if these people - who were also not his responsibility - didn't want his help, then why should he bother at all? He wasn't going to argue that, or mention that they had a Mayor and their own political forum to turn to. It was failing them but Ben had other, bigger, supernatural issues to deal with first.

When Harm apologised, Ben gave him a small smile and shrugged, shaking his head to indicate it didn't matter. He liked that this guy had an opinion and wanted to share it. He wished he had more of that. But then he dropped a bomb. A really big bomb. He was 'seeing' Jake McCloud's Sheriff. Luke. Ben knew him because he'd been placed in Jake's hole beneath the Rabbit. Charon's idea of putting Ben there had opened him up to being violated but had also given him a greater understanding of Jake's people and how he operated. It was an ace up the sleeve.

It also meant that Harm wouldn't be winning any more snippets of information from Ben. His gaze cooled and he said: "Is that so?"

There was a beat where the conversation stilled - like it was holding its breath, then Ben realised it could work in his favour. Harm was chatty, and if Ben wasn't suddenly hostile, they could keep talking. Or rather, Harm could.

"I've met Luke. He doesn't say much." Not that Ben and Luke were even allowed to converse. Jake had funny ideas about them, not that Ben could see himself befriending Jake's muscle for any reason anyway. He'd heard whispers that Luke had become Jake's Sheriff. Guess that was true then. He hadn't been told anything directly himself, until now. "How does he steer you away from monsters if you work at a free clinic? It seems I found you anyway."

He gave Harm one of his modelling smiles.

I made a joke, called myself a monster, isn't that funny?
Hope you're starstruck enough to laugh
And talk some more


Now that he wanted Harm to chat, he was second-guessing his words. At least he'd always had the knack of sounding calm and collected even while feeling anxious on the inside. Only Saraekiel had shaken that - obviously lust and anxiety weren't two sides of the same coin.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: The Brass Quarter
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2019, 11:49:58 PM »
Harm laughed and nodded at Ben's assessment of Luke being the strong, silent type. Yep. Harm could get him to talk but that wasn't anyone's business but his. There was a special kind of warmth and pride he felt in knowing he saw a side to Luke no-one else did. Not even his dick of a boss.

"Well, I did say he tries," Harm quipped, grinning cheekily. "He wants me to move out of the city and never look back, basically. It's more than where I work; I live in Chinatown and I'm pretty sure all my neighbours are vampires. Well, except for this one guy, Murphy, but I haven't seen him round in a while so I'm not actually sure he still lives there and counts," he shrugged casually, dropping the name of the neighbour he'd only ever waved at and said casual hellos to (but whose name he knew because it was on his mailbox). They'd been at the apartment complex longer than anyone, so Harm had formed an imaginary bond with him.

He was learning the names of his newer neighbours gradually - keen to do so in case the opportunity to get bitten by one of them one night might eventually arise - but it was tricky to get to know them because they were rarely ever out at the same time as him. He'd only ever seen any of them at night so he was pretty sure his vampire assessment was right. Either that, or they all just worked crazy shifts like he did. That was the far-less-sexy option.

Offline Satyr

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Re: The Brass Quarter
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2019, 08:50:03 AM »
At first Ben was going to repeat the line, 'He wants you to move out of the city and never look back?' but he never got that far. That Luke guy sounded intense and very much like a controlling asshole. This was the guy Harm was 'seeing' - whatever that meant; it sounded less than dating, but could be a casual sex setup too.

But then Harm dropped another bomb. Murphy. The name stunned Ben into silence. The city started feeling smaller and smaller, shrinking to the size of this very room in fact. He stared at Harm as he started talking about how many vampires lived in his Chinatown residence. Ben knew he lived at the Mei Jia Apartments now, because he'd visited Murphy there a few times. Early last year had been the last time, when they'd lain on top of Murphy's bed talking about how Ben would sire him once the Academy was finished. It felt like a millennia ago.

He didn't know whether to mention Murphy's whereabouts or the fact he was a vampire now. Was Harm one of the friends Murphy had left behind? Ben had sent a text message to Murphy every other day but got either nothing back or a very short reply. He thought Murphy was either mad at him or busy. He'd asked if Murphy was upset and he'd only received a two word reply: Just processing.

"Yeah, I know Murphy, he's..."

My best friend?
I don't think I can say that anymore.


Ben's heart fell but he managed to finish his sentence with only the slightest pause. "...staying with some friends."

And then there was the other thing. He thought he better warn Harm about it. "Most of the vampires you see in Chinatown aren't actually vampires, so they won't like you calling them that. They're called Kuei-Jin. They're their own people."

He took a moment before circling the conversation back. "So, the guy you're seeing wants you to leave the city? That sounds drastic."

Did Luke know about something big going down? Was he trying to warn his - whatever Harm was to him - away? Was something going on that Ben didn't know about? If it was something that had come up at the meeting, Charon hadn't told him about it.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: The Brass Quarter
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2019, 09:51:59 AM »
Harm’s eyes widened when Ben said he knew Murphy. “Wow, small world!” he offered but refrained from saying any more because of that hesitation over Murphy ‘staying with friends’. It sounded off, to his ears, but Harm was also expecting to hear falsehoods in this place. Many of the people that came in here were working some sort of angle, usually to get prescription drugs. Even if he was right and Ben was spinning him, it wasn’t his business to know why. It wasn’t like he was super invested in chatting with his absent neighbour, just because he was the only other Caucasian in the place or anything.

“Kuei-Jin,” Harm repeated, tasting the exotic term. He said it again just to imprint it into his brain - maybe he could use it in a future conversation to show he was respectful of their species - but, ultimately, he was just disappointed that they weren’t vampires so his chances of getting them to bite him were gone. He’d seen advertising for a club called Venture... but he wasn’t game to go there because Luke would get seriously pissed at him for seeking it out, putting himself in danger on purpose. He’d thought the same thing when he’d read about the Lovebite app in the supernatural papers. He’d stared at the invite code long and hard before shutting the paper determinedly. It was too premeditated. It had to be incidental... he looked at Ben thoughtfully.

“Oh, yeah,” he shrugged and waved a dismissive hand. “He’s just really paranoid in general and convinced I’ll get hurt, somehow. He’s crazily protective. Pretty sure he’d prefer I stayed home wrapped in cotton wool, speaking to no one and doing nothing to keep me safe. I haven’t told him I’m going to your carnival... or how interested I am in being bitten by a vampire. He’d freak,” Harm laughed but it died quickly and then he was staring intently at Ben, wondering what he’d do with his hint. His heart started pounding faster at the thought it could happen.

Offline Satyr

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Re: The Brass Quarter
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2019, 10:17:14 AM »
Ben smiled politely when Harm echoed his thoughts, as if he was the mind reader. There wasn't a lot to say about knowing the same human being - except Murphy wasn't a human being anymore.

He liked when Harm repeated the word 'Kuei-Jin' a few times to cement it. It was the same technique Ben used and sometimes felt self-conscious about if people gave him an odd look.

Ben was surprised that Luke had that kind of perspective. He supposed being a Sheriff meant he only ever saw the bad stuff that happened.

"It's just not like that anymore. If you want to be in control, you can download the Lovebite App, or visit Venture." Ben didn't think Harm would want to be bitten here and now, in this sterile room. "Somewhere you can choose who you like and where your wishes would be respected. Things have changed so much since the first time I offered myself for the bite. It was this place called 'Risk', like you took your life into your hands every time you went there. I'm glad it's shut down, it was pretty sleazy. Nowadays it's a whole different scene. Not where Luke hangs out at Jake's place of business. The White Rabbit isn't much different to Risk, but Venture is classy. I have something similar set up at the Luminary, but so far it's just a place to meet up not a place to hang out. Well, not yet."

He didn't care that he'd dissed Jake in his chat with Harm. There was a reason he was running against the guy after all. That Luke guy sounded like a controlling asshole. Instead of commenting on that, he said something that he hoped Harm would consider more poignant.

"Your life, your decision."

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: The Brass Quarter
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2019, 10:47:23 AM »
Harm nibbled on the inside of his lower lip, nodding his acknowledgement of everything Ben said. He was so torn. The way Ben told it, it all sounded clean and safe and so fucking easy and all his questions would be answered!

But nothing with Luke was easy or straight forward and although Ben had met Luke, he clearly didn’t know about his history. Or theirs. Harm’s past emotions tangled with their current situation and uncommitted status, sitting like a lead ball in his gut that he labelled ‘just casual’ but wasn’t sure he believed. Ultimately, Luke was not his dream guy. He was just a guy for now... so why did he follow Luke’s rules and warnings so adamantly?

Well, there was the whole ‘vulnerable mortal’ factor to consider... but Ben made it sound so safe! His mind just kept circling back to that, persuaded by him. Harm could see two clear choices for progressing their conversation right now. He could say that Luke agreed with Ben’s assessment of his home and place of work - hinting he should never go there - and discuss the angst of Jake forbidding Luke from coming to Chinatown to visit him. Or he could go for what he wanted and take a risk. Risk. Funny.

“Would you bite me?” he propositioned, an army drumming in his chest again.