Logs:A Question of Trust

From NOLA: The Game that Care Forgot
Jump to: navigation, search

A Question of Trust

Characters: Muse and Nikola
Date: 2020-06-18
Summary: Tensions mount.. actually, tensions blow the eff up.
Disclaimers: Some violence

Out in the Bayou...

Is there even such a thing as a 'quiet night' for the Band of Savages? It seems less and less likely with each that passes.. and this one finds Muse sitting alone in the shadows. Not unusual. She is, at least, actually visible now, having spent the majority of the previous evening wreathed in darkness, wandering the halls in some sort of furious solitude. Only the occasional fleeting presence of her Beast let her coterie-mates know she was there at all. So, the fact that she's 'back' in the real world is.. probably a good sign? One can only hope.

Seated atop the railing that encircles the expansive porch of the plantation house they call haven, her slender back settled against the cold comfort of a stone pillar and her hands folded passively in her lap, the Shadow seems content to partake of the peace and quiet offered by the surrounding undergrowth and night sky, tilting her face upward a touch toward the latter as a stray breeze lifts her heavy tresses back a little. The combat boots are back, crossed at the ankle where her long legs outstretch, a pair of dark-wash skinny jeans disappearing beneath the aged leather cuffs and a simple black racerback showing off the svelte musculature of her bare shoulders. Chill isn't much of a concern, in the grand scheme of things.

Muse's feline Beast is.. it's an odd conflict, at this precise moment. Languidly predatory and detached as ever but.. still with a trace of lingering disquiet. And something else. An idle sense of belonging, as if something has at last tethered her to this plane, albeit tenuously. She's making no attempt to disguise herself or to bother with such meaningless niceties as restraining that lurking persona beneath her facade. Suffice to say, the brunette is in a dangerous mood; mercurial and restless. Common sense and self preservation might suggest it wiser to keep a distance.

But then, her coterie-mates aren't blessed with an overabundance of either.

Nikola hadn't lingered in the Swamp House the night before; once the others were settled in, he had excused himself, presumably to go hunt. The Ventrue, energy expended in a series of long bursts of effort, had not spoken much at all on the drive out to the Bayou. And when Muse and Seth were safely at home? He'd turned the vehicle around again and left. Polite as ever, but voraciously hungry. Now, with the new dusk upon them, he has returned to the Swamp House. It's in a different vehicle, a battered Ford pick-up, not one he has driven out here before.

He parks at the very end of the long approach to Swamp House, kills the lights, eases out of the vehicle. And then, finally, he begins to approach. The Ventrue is dressed in jeans and a plain white T-shirt. A pair of flip flops, rather than dress shoes, provide protection from the mud and gravel. He walks through the darkness with the arrogant ease of a Lord, however, as though he were wearing a suit and cape, carrying a cane, bearing a top hat. As though he were the plantation's master, come home at last.

His Beast, too, is restless. Not at all the usual warm creature that lifts its head in the presence of his Coterie-mates. Instead, it prowls around him protectively, not so much greeting Muse as warding her off. And yet, Nikola seeks her out, following his sense of her directly to that railing. He stands below, in the grass, looking up. After a moment, the Ventrue jumps, grabs the edge of the porch, hoists himself up onto it and sits down beside his dangerously-conflicted Coterie-mate.

He doesn't speak, doesn't directly make eye contact. Nor does he pull out his phone, distract himself with the harvest that Google might bring. Instead, he simply waits, much like a man might approach a dangerous animal.

For her part, Muse observes this arrival and approach without so much as batting an eyelash; gold-flecked irises of verdant green unabashedly levelled upon the Pirate Lord as he draws closer, all genteel arrogance and quiet displeasure. Well, what more could one expect. For the barest fraction of a second, a memory teases at the periphery of her mind.. but it dissipates like smoke when she tries to grasp it. Perhaps nothing more than a fleeting resemblance to some long-forgotten visitor to her house. But the sight of Niko strolling down the long avenue of trees stirs something within her. How frustrating that she can't quite remember why.

At first, as her companion comes closer, there's a flicker of relieved recognition from the Shadow's Beast.. but it swiftly turns wary, withdrawing back to a safe distance behind incorporeal bars. It's perhaps even discernible in Muse's own expression, the way she brightens just for a second, only to retreat behind her mask of polite indifference. She's not so expressive, here and now, as she can be found in other circumstances. Quite literally a shadow of her true self. But Niko knows that, it doesn't require elaboration.

As the Ventrue draws to a halt on the grass below - wherefore art thou? - she holds his gaze with an overlaid impression of calm. Until he begins avoiding it, anyway. She doesn't move when he cat-leaps his way up to seat himself beside her, merely regarding him thoughtfully in profile, silent a while longer. Then she begins. There's nothing else for it, really. "..whatever that thing was? She compelled me with the need to feed. I couldn't have stopped if I'd tried." Pause. "I'm sorry I wasn't of much use, as a result. But.. perhaps it was best she chose me, rather than either of you." It's probably a fair point.. Seth or Niko under such a powerful compulsion? They'd certainly not have caught their prey. And that'd be the very least of their concerns.

Her companion's own thirst, following the previous night's exertions, hadn't gone unnoticed. Muse eyes him now with a softer gaze, taking in his overall appearance and uncharacteristically defensive aura. "You're alright?" Yes, she cares. The wellbeing of the coterie is paramount.. and the Elder Lord is one she shares a certain inexplicable affinity with.

Nikola notes that flicker of pleasure, that sudden relief -- and the sudden withdrawal from his own Beast, which is unsurprising. He sees it in the moment before he begins to climb up to sit beside her, files it away. His Beast prowls protectively around him, a creature guarding itself from wound -- or perhaps one that is already wounded, flashing its teeth and claws to keep others away. But Muse is never easy to read in this waking world, never fully engaged in this waking world. He keeps his own thoughts to himself.

Easing down beside her, gazing into his lap, Nikola can't hide the faint smile when he finally forces Muse to speak first. There is a hint of pleasure, as ever, at the successful play. Drawing her out is never a simple thing. A success is something to be cherished, filed away. But his expression grows more somber as he listens. "I suspected it would be something like that," he answers quietly. "You are not insane, Muse. You do not act without cause. Attacking Seven, in the presence of our enemy? No. I did not think that you would do such a thing." He considers her further point, finally glancing aside to take in Muse's profile. The Ventrue flashes a brief, tight, smile. "You might be right," he equivocates. "But I am not at all certain of that." He doesn't quite elaborate on why that might be, looking back out into the darkness.

The Ventrue lifts his shoulders in a faint shrug as Muse examines him. Her question elicits another brief sideways glance. "I am trying to decide that," he says quietly. He reaches up to brush at the corner of his scarred lip, absently rubbing at that scar with his thumb. "I am deeply concerned," he finally says, "About what happens next."

Nikola reaches aside to touch Muse's hand, just for a moment, without turning his head toward her. His Beast raises its head warningly, but the Vampire strives to clarify his own thoughts. "I did very little to assist last night, and I had no compulsion to excuse me. And...what happened complicates matters between the three of us."

The only accurate description to summarise the brunette's expression, as Niko replies, is sulky. That's ever-present in the natural set of her mouth, of course.. but it's enforced further now by the way she averts her gaze from the Ventrue with a frown, looking out across the eerie surroundings of the plantation.

Once, not even so long ago by the standards of their kind, this was a thriving business; home to a multitude of slaves, an affluent noble family, overseeing the advantageous production of sugar cane. It's strange to consider how times have changed.. now that it's home to a coterie of anarchist vampires.

"You're displeased." Well, that goes without saying. It rolls off his shoulders in waves.. and frankly it has the Shadow on edge. Her advantage, one of the few, is in stealth. The light touch to her hand only serves to remind her that she is both present and tangible. And, as such, provoking the vicious, sadistic monster sitting quietly by her side is probably unwise. "..I didn't exactly have a lot of options, Niko. Seven had already done.. something to me." The frown darkens further, a hint of elongating canines peeking from between her lips as she continues. "Would you have preferred I lose control entirely? Or perhaps she could have helpfully set me ablaze. Because that wouldn't have caused a problem, in a majority group of vampires." There's a sardonic edge to her words that she can't quite temper.

Catching the habitual motion as Niko thumbs at his scarred lip, the brunette reluctantly raises her gaze back toward him. Forcing her tone back to one of quiet civility, she ventures a question after a few beats. "..really. What would you have had me do. I've no words of comfort for you, Niko.. save that, if anything, all I've done is bind myself to our coterie ireevocably. You know many do that as standard..?" Is that a spark of mutinous challenge in the depths of those eyes? The simultaneous, silent rumble of a growl from her Beast says so, yes. But again, she does her best to quell whatever urge is arising. Turning her hand palm upward, she curls her fingertips in gently in an attempt to ensnare his. "..I trust you both. Implicitly. You know that. We're a family. But I had to make a choice. One that none of us could have foreseen nor avoided. Hate me for it if you must.. but it's done. And it's not as though I'm some fucking blood doll." An unexpected smoulder of fury is palpable beneath the surface as this, the idea that the Ventrue would have such an opinion of her, elicits a powerful response. "Is that what you think? That I'm to become some swoonin' harlot, incapable of a coherent thought of my own?"

Nikola sits in silence as Muse's expression turns sulky, watching her with a distant objectivity, measuring her with his dark gaze. There is a haughtiness to him now that truly screams his bloodline, though the Ventrue would doubtless be enraged to hear it. He purses his lips thoughtfully as he considers her, then glances out over the grounds of the plantation, their home.

"I am displeased at the situation," he says gravely. And perhaps the man cannot hide his frustration, cannot conceal his agitation despite the cold composure he drapes around himself. The words have a bite to them that he doesn't intend; he clenches his free hand into a fist, relaxes it subtly, clenches again. Nails drive into dead skin, leave no mark -- no blood to pool there, no crescents to form. The skin is too malleable, when he makes no pretense at living. "I know that you did the only thing you could. I know that none of us had any choices last night. I can hold two contradictory thoughts in my mind -- they say that it is the sign of a genius." This weak jest, delivered without much energy, signals a brief pause as he considers Muse. "I couldn't find you to stop you," he says simply. And there it is -- a signal that at least some of the anger is self-directed, reproach for hiw own failure to keep the Coterie whole and safe.

When Muse looks back at him, Nikola holds her gaze steadily, watching her force herself back into a civil tone. "You are inferring blame that I am not laying at your feet," he says mildly, even gently. The Ventrue cants his head faintly, watching Muse with that strangely objective stare, the monster lurking beneath his habitual mask of jokes. "I could bind myself to you," he says in answer to the standard pacts. "And Seth could bind himself to me. The three of us, then, would indeed be bound so tightly that nothing could divide us." Is he serious? There is no glint of humor in his expression. "That is what you are referring to, is it not? I am not opposed." When Muse's Beast raises its head, growls a mutinous warning, Nikola does not move. But his own Beast comes forward, teeth bared, even as he lightly coils his fingers inside Muse's. "I know that you trust me, Muse. I know that you care for me, as you do for Seth. And it was even best that you chose him over me. My own Vitae carries consequences for those that drink it. I am not blaming you for your choice." And there, even as he says it, is the frustration rising to meet her own fury. "What I think, Muse, is that you and Seth are going to be done with me someday soon unless I find a way to connect with him as you and I connect. You are not some blood doll -- but nor are you a bridge, and asking you to be one is unfair." His voice is level again, hand tightening around Muse's, hard enough perhaps to trap hers in place.

"What I want is very simple, Muse. I want to keep my family." He cants his head faintly as he stares at the other Vampire, unblinking, holding eye contact. She knows him well enough to know that, if he wanted, this would be the moment he would try to force his will upon her. But he doesn't. Would never. Even in the face of that fury, Nikola simply grips. "Did you think that I simply want you for myself? That I do not fear losing you both? Shall we fight now, dearest? Would that make you feel better?"

"Well, of course you couldn't find me." There is a vague touch of amusement in this response, with the brunette looking askance at her coterie-mate for a split-second.. only to hesitate. "Is that what's bothering you? Niko.. if you were able to that on a whim, I'd be a sorry excuse for a shadow, now wouldn't I?" There's a subtle shake of her head, her free hand then rising to sweep back the resultant swathe of dark hair that slides forward over one eye. "You cannot blame yourself for.. well, any of it, really. For what it's worth.. I didn't plan on actually killing the girl. And let's face it.. she's plenty strong enough to fight back without resortin' to.." This train of thought she shuts down abruptly, literally snapping her jaws closed in audible annoyance but not pushing the matter. For now.

Weaving a touch of shadow around herself, seeking reassurance in nothingness, Muse keeps her gaze cast out over the avenua; aware of her coterie-mate's eyes upon her and not quite deigning to meet them again. Yes, he's a Lord. Yes, he does have this infuriating righteousness about him. But she can affect haughty just as well, when the need arises. That entitled pride was ingrained long before she was Embraced, of course. She simply draws on it now as reflex.

Night suits the Mekhet, unsurprisingly. It lends her fair skin an otherworldly mien, casts facets of dark through her intense eyes, streaks of ebon through her bronze-chestnut tresses. But it's the sudden air of melancholy about her, in this moment, that is perhaps most striking. For one who generally appears to delight in all the sensations Unlife has to offer, it's a rare glimpse, perhaps a falter and nothing more, that reveals a faint wistfulness. A longing for.. something. Is she considering his offer? Is she listening to him at all..? It's difficult to tell. Until, of course, she answers.

That honeyed voice is soft, audible enough to Kindred senses. "If that is somethin' you desire.. it's probably somethin' all three of us should discuss, in regard to a pact. I won't speak for Seth. Hell, I wouldn't presume to speak for anyone, on the matter of being bound." Eventually, those dark-lashed eyes slide toward Niko, calmly searching his features. "You, of course, are free to make up your own mind. If it would make you feel more connected.." There remains a wariness about the Mekhet, her Beast likewise pondering over the ramifications.. and still glaring, staring down that of the Ventrue beside her.

"I, for one, have no intention of discarding you in the manner you seem to anticipate. We are, in my opinion, already bound. All of us. By our beliefs and the strength in unity. You and Seth are very different, yes.. but hasn't that always been so? Clearly you found common ground enough, long before you ever awoke me." The tightened grip on her hand prompts a downward flit of a glance, before her eyes rise to meet Niko's gaze in the murky dark and backdrop of midnight chatter from the swamp. It is, indeed, a risk to hold that gaze. Perhaps that's why she does, unwaveringly. To prove her unshakeable faith in her coterie-mate. In truth, the Rotgrafen is by far the most sadistic of the trio; delighting in inflicting hurt upon others in a way the Mekhets do not possess.. or not so flagrantly. "That is precisely what I thought." she answers, with unhesitating honesty, as she tries and fails to flex her fingers a little within his grasp. "You are the epitome of swaggering masculine ego and you know it. That you would take it as an affront in some way that I bound myself to another seemed a perfectly reasonable assumption.. regardless of circumstance." That ire is stoked again, though overall the vampire begins to seem mollified. "And if you're of a mind to vent some of that frustration, darlin'.. then by all means."

Toe to toe, she stands no chance at all against the Lord. But when does Muse ever play fair? The slow curve of a smirk across her lips certainly doesn't offer much in the way of reassurance, in that regard.

Nikola sits still, allowing Muse her moment of amusement as she looks over at him. He smiles in answer, a slightly rueful expression. The Ventrue watches her brush back the hair from her forehead, something warming in his own expression. The objectivity -- the sense of being scrutinized -- fades from the arrogant creature. Left behind is something more vulnerable, even as Muse absolves him of blame. This is another side of the creature, of course -- the loneliness that lurks beneath even his savagery, the constant sense that from one moment to the next, he might be gone. Either of his own will, or simply drawn away by the tide. A sailor's fate -- the implausibility of permanence, when the moon becomes involved. Clearing his throat softly, Nikola says "I do not think she understood what was happening. But if you wish, I will kill her for hurting you. Or break her." It's a genuine offer, made with only a hint of regret at the idea of losing his plaything.

As Muse summons shadow around herself, Nikola continues to watch. It's a means of hiding her own insecurities; he knows this by now. Perhaps his own anger has unsettled her more than he intended. And just as with the shadow, she masks herself with the summoned pride, wearing it too like a cloak. Nikola smiles at this, like recognizing like.

He watches the beauty beside him, letting himself drink in the kinship between the pair, noting the tiny details of her melancholy appearance. If it were a portrait, this would be one that hung in a private place, where a watcher could come and sit, and contemplate. He measures that yearning as he measures everything about Muse, everything about everyone he encounters. It is how the Ventrue survives his more reckless moments -- filing away the weaknesses and the wants of others, like a squirrel hoarding nuts for the inevitable winter. But he has made a proposal, and now.. now she answers.

"No one should speak for any other," he says quietly. "But I needn't discuss it with Seth to know the answer. He would never put himself in my power, Muse. Still, let's talk it over with him. See how the conversation goes." A brief, wistful smile of his own. Nikola meets her gaze when she turns toward him, canting his head faintly as he meets it. His fangs rest, just evident, on his lower lip. "If it were simply me, bound to you? It would just make me your slave, Muse. More than I already am, to both of you." A shocking admission, from a Carthian.

As she continues her train of thought, he falls silent, considering each word with the air of a jeweler examining a diamond for flaws. There is a brief flicker of irritation across his own features, masked and subdued. His Beast is reined in, drawing against him and lying down as if he has yanked it by a leash. "I want to be included in the conversations, Muse." He shrugs subtly, meeting her gaze as she meets his own, entrusting her safety to him. And he does not betray her, though the temptation -- the urge to simply assert his will in this matter, end it entirely -- must be strong. Especially for a creature of his temperament, living and dead. But he does not.

When he feels her hand flex against his, Nikola doesn't release it, but he does glance down in acknowledgement, loosening his grip just slightly. He rises suddenly, still gripping Muse's hand, stepping around to face her. "Come on, then. Let's...change the subject."

"She's useful." Muse's curt response is succinct and dismissive both; her own coiled annoyance set aside for the good of her coterie when it comes to the notion of repercussions for Niko's new toy. With a shake of her head, she renders it a footnote, not worth mulling over any longer. "Amuse yourself to your heart's content, Darlin'.. but not on my account." In fairness, if the shadow actually desired to inflict hurt and horror.. she does have her own methods. And they're not so overt as those of her companion. He of all people knows this.

Once again, the brunette permits the Ventrue his opportunity to look, to study her practised expressions as well as the occasional lapse of same that reveals the inherent darkness beneath. She can't help what she is, anymore than he can.. but there's an undeniable appeal in knowing one another. In the familiarity with those sharp edges. They each see and understand aspects of one another that are kept hidden from the rest of the world. That, in itself, ought be a measure of trust between them.. and it undeniably irks Muse that her coterie-mate thinks to question it, try as she might to keep that reaction from breaking the surface.

"So which is it?" Having kept her gaze demurely away while Niko appraises her, she lifts it now in challenge. "One moment you desire to be bound.. the next you indirectly imply that I am somehow enslaved to Seth. Don't play the fool. Much as it suits you, we both know it's not the case. And no.. I don't imagine he would willingly put himself in anyone's power. But then, until last night, neither would I. We play the hands we're dealt, don't we." He's pushing her, whether he intends to or not. And her Beast is responsive.. in fact, it seems almost to relish a point of contest between them. What better way to clear the air than some unadulterated violence? Muse doesn't withdraw her hand, despite the temptation.. but her dark eyes are infused with blatant menace the longer she remains. "Do you trust us or not?" Exasperation. That's what laces her tone. Nothing more, despite the instinctive urge to lash out. "If you can take me at my word, then what purpose, all this talk of pacts? You are infuriatingly obtuse, do you know that?"

She knows he needs to let loose, to savor some of the pent-up bloodlust yet lingering. The best way to ensure that? Push back. He may claim disgust at the notion of nobility, but he is every inch the Lord of old, in his own way. She can pratically taste the desire to assert his dominance.. as well as the incredible restraint he displays in not succumbing to it. "Involve yourself in all the conversations you want. You are a part of this coterie, as much as Seth or myself. Your problem is you're restless. You itch to pillage and plunder, to flay your victims with carefree delight as you did centuries ago. Well.. the fact is you can't." Tough love. As the Ventrue moves to face her, the Mekhet tilts her jaw up a fraction in order to maintain their locked gazes. "You'll have to make do."

She can't vanish. He still has her anchored by that grip. So this is either particularly brave or outrageously reckless of her.

"She's entertaining," Nikola replies, a hint of amusement flavoring his own tone. He watches Muse force her irritation downward, swallow it, with something like admiration. If Nikola could do that as well as Muse, this discussion wouldn't be happening. And it's true, in any case -- Muse is far more dangerous to a mortal's sanity than Nikola, at least if they want that mortal to ever be able to serve them in the future. When Nikola breaks a thing, it tends to be shattered completely. When Muse inserts her own hot wires into a creature's brains, she has the ability to rewire it.

There is something there, beneath the surface, as Nikola continues to study his companion. They do know one another, sharp edges and soft points both, and he can sniff out the irritation -- and the hurt -- lurking beneath her words. The Ventrue reaches out with his free hand, his other still imprisoning hers, and touches Muse's cheek lightly. It's unprecedented on the Ventrue's behalf, the most intimate gesture he has made in the waking world. "I didn't intend to call you a slave, Muse. I said that I would be your slave. Perhaps you should ponder on what that says about you, and about me." But he doesn't pursue the topic any further. Both of them are volatile tonight, and Muse needs this outlet as much as he does.

Nikola senses the shift, watches the menace fill her eyes. "Do I trust you?" There is genuine surprise in his voice. He doesn't answer in words, simply looks at Muse for a long few beats, his lips pursed. "Yes." he finally says. And then she is pushing at him, tearing at him with her words, and he actually gapes for a moment. "Very well," he says quietly. "I shall make do, then." He still has her in his grasp -- the Ventrue isn't reckless enough to allow her to fade into oblivion. He's seen what can happen. With a sudden coiling of his strength, Nikola yanks Muse in an attempt to whip her off the porch toward him, his other hand coming around to grab her free arm, try to keep her from getting to the knives that he knows she has concealed on her person.

 Muse rolls 10 Dice (Nightmare)
 Roll: Presence + Intimidation + 2 + 1
 Result: Exceptional Success! (8) -- (9 3 10 1 1 1 10 9 10 10 8 3 9 1)

The affectionate gesture, as Niko's hand strays upward to her cheek, is initially met with distinct uncertainty from the Mekhet; her gaze drifting between his fingertips and his shadowed features several times before his touch comes to graze her cool cheek. One might have the distinct impression of seeking to pet a feral cat, glaring at you from the back corner of it's cage. In addition, the Shadow knows precisely how lethal those hands are. But she allows it, distracted perhaps by the riddle her coterie-mate puts forth, the suggestion of what she ought be ruminating upon. What does that imply..? With the ghost of a frown, she searches his striking eyes and finds no answer.

Not that she'd really expected one.

It's this splitsecond of contemplation, in the end, that proves ill-advised. 'Quiet' from Niko never, ever bodes well.. and she barely notes the subtlety of that danger in his softer tone before she's jerked forward, down from her perch on the railing and unceremoniously to her booted feet, landing lightly in front of him. Before there's time to verbally protest, he's seeking to pin her other arm; something she fights against with a sudden wriggle in an attempt to escape. Yes, she has knives. Of course she does. In this proximity they're perfectly apparent, even strapped smoothly down as they are against her ribs beneath her attire. And yes.. her instinct would almost certainly have been to reach for them. This is the downside of familiarity, of course.. and the brunette is not the combatant her fellows are.

What does she have, though? Will Niko recall in time? Or perhaps seek to overpower her before she musters it? ..too late for that. The Shadow goes very still, halting her futile attempts to free herself.. and instead, the Ventrue can likely sense the baleful glare offered upward by her usually heavy-lidded eyes, about the level of his jaw. It's not an inviting sensation. Not at all. There's a slithering sensation of creeping dread that caresses across his nape, coaxing an involuntary shiver should he fail to steel himself against it. She's drawing that darkness into herself rather than merely around.. and the sense of impending danger actually seems to rob the warmth from the very air around them.

Don't. Look. Down. Meeting that gaze seems like a very bad idea.. but her presence alone, as it takes on this serpentine, threatening persona, no doubt provokes his Beast. As was her intent. You have to play to your strengths, after all.

 <OOC> Nikola says, "Okay! Niko will Lash Out in response."
 Nikola rolls 4 Dice (Lashing Out: Monstrous)
 Roll: Strength + 1
 Result: Success (1) -- (4 10 1 4 5)
 <OOC> Muse says, "Fighting back.."
 Muse rolls 2 Dice (Lashing Out: Monstrous)
 Roll: Strength + 1
 Result: Failure -- (4 3)

 Nikola rolls 7 Dice (Dominate)
 Roll: Intelligence + Expression + Dominate
 Result: Success (3) -- (1 10 4 6 10 4 4 10 4 1)
 Muse rolls 4 Dice
 Roll: Resolve + 1
 Result: Failure -- (3 7 7 6)

Nikola smiles in faint amusement at his skittish companion's reaction to his touch, but she does not flee from the gesture, and that is...something. Something for him to keep in mind -- she truly does trust him, as much as she demands trust from him. That's a reassuring thing, something to keep a chilly creature warm in the depths of the night. But he withdraws his hand as quickly as he brought it up, not forcing her to endure the danger for any real length of time. She's seen his claws, seen what he can do with them. Meeting her gaze with the placid stare of a born liar, the eye of the hurricane, Nikola doesn't so much as acknowledge her puzzlement. He's said his piece. If she's awake days trying to figure it out, well...

One takes their pleasure where they can, after all. He has to make do.

And then the violence begins. Really, Muse ought to have seen this coming. When has Nikola ever wanted to hold hands with her? Let alone keep her this tightly within his grasp. The Ventrue has, in every other interaction, always been as respectful as a gentleman-caller. But here and now, the battle was apparently joined before either of them knew it. He grips her arm tightly as she whiplashes into his chest, struggling to keep ahold of her, to end this contest before it really begins. But -- but he makes eye contact.

The fear that washes over him is met with a raging Beast, fangs extended, snapping back at Muse with the ferocity of an attack dog or a cobra. The terror is driven away, leaving Nikola steady on his feet in the face of such an assault. He sees the night grow darker all around them. He sees the shadows rise up to surround them. He feels the chill in the air.

And he smiles.

Nikola, still smiling, looks down into Muse's half-lidded eyes, studying the gold flecks, drinking deep of her essence. When he speaks, his voice is strangely altered. There is a deeper resonance to the words, though he hasn't raised his voice. There are almost echoes, overtones and undertones commanding obedience, summoning forth the tiny part of Muse that wants to obey. He has her. He could have anything, if he phrased it properly. What does Nikola Senjan want?

"Punch my face in," he instructs. Take away her knives, take away her desire to disappear. Sever her reason -- leave only the bestial anger that his own Beast has snapped to the fore.

 <OOC> Muse says, "Frenzy check"
 Muse rolls 3 Dice (Resist Frenzy, with -2 modifier from Bestial Condition)
 Roll: Resolve + Composure - 2
 Result: Failure -- (6 1 4)
 <spend> Muse spends 1 point of her Willpower pool.
 Muse rolls 4 Dice (Face Punching)
 Roll: Strength - 1 (untrained brawl) + 1 + 3
 Result: Success (1) -- (9 2 4 1)

The opportunity for hand-holding is certainly over.

There's a matter of moments as each of them wrestle with their natures, frozen in time as those inner voices rebel, snapping and snarling at one another, gazes locked. And then comes the subtle shift. A flicker of something far more bestial in the depths of the Shadow's darkened eyes. A spark.. that swiftly kindles to an inferno at the provocation offered in the next breath.. or lack thereof.

That leonine presence within the brunette crashes through the restraints that ordinarily keep it in check, surging to the fore and manifesting, unshackled, upon those angelic features; contorting them with long suppressed fury and the primal, instinctive need to hurt. To rend and tear and feed. It roars to the surface, quite literally in fact as a full-throated snarl escapes Muse.

Lunging at Niko, freeing one slender arm with a newfound strength, the brunette arcs back swiftly, actually using his hold upon her for leverage, before snapping an inexpert but still solid right hook at his jaw with an audible crack of impact.

It's not enough. That impulse renains, spurring her onward to still greater violence. It'll take more than a well-deserved punch in the face to sate her appetites now.

The Shadow fights still harder, striking, clawing, kicking.. every inch the enraged predator and not happy about being constrained. Drawing back her upper lips fully, eyes blazing, she hisses and growls at the Ventrue, revealing her horrifically long fangs. That chilling aura continues to emanate from her.. only now it's accompanied by the tangible desire for blood.

Nikola takes some bashing and is now bruised.

 <OOC> Nikola says, "Okay! Niko's going to try to move her somewhere safe for the night."
 Nikola rolls 7 Dice (Hold)
 Roll: Strength + Brawl
 Result: Success (1) -- (6 10 4 4 4 2 4 7)
 Muse rolls 0 Dice - Chance
 Roll: Strength - 1 (untrained brawl)
 Result: Failure -- (8)

That first hook strikes him clean on the chin, knocking Nikola's head sideways. Nikola is a trained martial artist. At this range, with Muse lashing out wildly, he fends off the majority of her blows; his elbows and knees work like metronomes, deflecting and gently redirecting force away from himself. He takes a kick on his shin, pushes her leg wide, never lets her go as Muse rages. The Ventrue's expression is void of emotion, his eyes alive with focus as he evades the majority of her strikes.

Carefully, carefully, he swings her into a headlock, freeing one of his own hands. He reaches into the back pocket of his jeans, unsnaps something, comes out with a pair of heavy police-issue handcuffs. A blow is sent toward his head -- he redirects it gracefully, snapping the cuff around that wrist. A few confusing moments of flailing later, and Nikola has both of Muse's hands cuffed behind her. He doesn't speak to the Beast that's raging at him, doesn't bother with empty assurances. It wouldn't believe him anyway.

Nikola dips down in a smooth motion, and suddenly Muse is up over his shoulder, his arm tight around her waist, the back of her head dangling against his chest. Smiling suddenly, the Ventrue begins to hum, a sea shanty from the days of his mortal life. He smacks Muse lightly on the belly as he walks into the Plantation, heading down toward the tomb.

Someone is cranky and needs to be put to bed.

He draws open the door toward the tomb, pulling it closed behind him and walking forward in the darkness. Without much gentleness -- Muse won't remember, if he's lucky -- he tosses her down in the same spot that he and Seth, some time ago, found her. Nikola backs up a few steps, eases down into a squat, gazes at her for a few moments. Then he turns and walks for the door, hopefully before his monstrous Coterie-mate can come to her feet and attack him once again.

There's nothing quite like being skillfully restrained to really infuriate a wild animal.. and that is precisely what the Mekhet has been reduced to; snarling and writhing in her attempts to break free of Niko's undeniably greater strength. At finding her hands locked behind her? The frantic effort redouble. At being hoisted with ease onto the tall Ventrue's shoulder? A furious roar splits the otherwise tranquil night. All she wants, all she can think about is hurting him, sating her Beast in violence. Some small part of her, unable to speak in the presence of this overwhelming fury, knows that it's wrong. Knows that she'll despise herself for this weakness when she can rid herself of the red mist. For now?

For now, as Niko strides toward the building, the brunette is fixated on the line of his throat; twisting and lunging in a futile attempt to reach it.. and rip it out, judging by the continued growling and gnashing of teeth.

They descend into the cool darkness. Something about that, at least, is a balm to her heightened senses. Likewise the vaguely familiar scent of old earth and cold stone. But these things do nothing to calm her as yet. And when the Ventrue drops her to the unyielding surface of the plinth upon which they found her, she's immediately scrambling for purchase with her heels.

He'll have time enough to make it through the door. Barely. But there's a shudder of impact a splitsecond later as the enraged creature now trapped within throws herself bodily against the other side, howling her furious protest. Fortunately, the structure is solid, being crafted as it is from heavy stone. But it's probably best to let her ride out the frenzy in peace. It's not as if any amount of placation or reasoning is going to affect her now.