Logs:Hello Again

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Hello Again


Characters: Tris and Odile
Date: 2019-11-20
Summary: Past lovers meet again after the span of a couple of years, with one drastically changed.
Disclaimers: {{{disclaimers}}}

The colors of New Orleans' rich nightlife pervade even in the interior of Thibeaux's whenever Demitrius steps inside, the hubbub of a hundred conversations accompanied by the ringing of silverware against fine china, and the clink of crystal glasses. There are many reasons why Odile frequents this establishment - not just the fact that it serves great French cuisine, or because the rigors of its clientele weed out undesirable company, but rather because of its aethetics. The building boasts an old world charm reminiscent not just of Paris, but Paris in a time in which she grew up.

And for all of the woman's casual dismissiveness of anything that disturbs her, she has always had a complicated relationship with Memory.

He'd find her easily enough; even with her preference for neutral palettes, the ex-prima ballerina manages to stand out - every space she manages to occupy appears to have been transported from the annals of time to be brought to the present. She is dressed in classic Chanel, fabric as black as night, the form-hugging creation bared at the shoulders and making the most out of the graceful frame they make with her throat and jawline, visible from underneath the wide-brimmed hat she wears that never fails to obscure her eyes from view. Only the shape of her nose and the bold scarlet color of her mouth can be glimpsed, hovering above a layered choker of South Sea pearls, a matching cuff on her wrist. Her skirts never rise above the knee, even in the earliest days of their acquaintanceship, pale calves crossed by the knee, each foot topped with heels high enough to make the act of walking a dangerous prospect; that never seems to bother her either, but then again, she has spent many years on her toes.

Her table's arrangement is pristine; either she has finished eating, or has not partaken in dinner just yet. There is, however, a glass of rich and robust red wine by her elbow - she was never fond of white, head tilted as she looks out the window where bodies continue to mill and engage in the mysteries and festivities of the evening.

--

Tris has always cut a fine figure, but where before it was with the bolster of fresh faced barely adulthood, now his good looks have aged, slightly, but finely and dressed in his classically black, Valentino suit from the most current line, he may never have looked sharper. Where once he made good arm candy, now he makes excellent, the tailored cut perfectly fitted over his leanly muscular frame. Aside from the charming effects age has had on his natural good looks, the only sign that he's had more than mundane years are those traceries of gossamer stitching under his jaw, down his neck and around his ears. The subtly twined thing catches the light from the crystal chandeliers and echoes it with the subtlety of starlight, though slightly golden in hue.

The truth is that Tris has never been terribly good with time, but for Odile, he's no doubt made a concerted effort as he arrives only five or so after rather than fifteen or even thirty as some other acquaintances might be made to wait. At least when he arrives, he arrives with not only the gift of himself, but also a beautiful but understated bouquet of roses in one hand. The roses aren't an apology, but they're a compliment to fond memory. He exchanges words with the maitre d' as the man guides him in the direction of his dinner companion, but Tris dismisses him with a nonchalant hand gesture and brief smile once his dark gaze settles on Odile. This is one path he can take alone.

"Odile," his voice might be the hook needed to draw her out of her reverie, but even if she's already looking at him, he has one of his more charming smiles for her. "Picture perfect. I should have brought my camera." There's humor in his voice and since the often omnipresent camera bag is not in evidence, that may be more flattery than real regret.

--

Her tastes have always lent towards tried and true classics, to the point that most would consider them stereotypical: roses, diamonds and champagne, if the woman didn't constantly complain about white wine of any stripe tasting like feet. Hidden eyes catch the ghostly impression of the fine figure Demitrius cuts through the crowd, following his reflection with the quiet, but intense scrutiny of a practiced observer - necessary now, in these times. Keepers tend to be obsessive when it came to their Lost charges, but her own is something else entirely. Love can move mountains, but it can also poison deep wells.

Odile pretends not to notice until he's standing by her table with his bouquet of flowers, their subtle scent reaching her nose and triggering past memories, of laughter and flashing lights, smiles exchanged in the dimness of his studio and their bodies twisted on his bed. Many say that youth is wasted on the young - if that were truly the case, this one had successfully defied the old addage. Her elegant head tips towards him, her smile ready and touched by threads of remembered affection.

She doesn't stand, she is a lady, after all, but she does extend a graceful white hand towards him, pearls flashing in the low ambient lighting. "Demitrius," she greets. "I have to say, the years have been very kind." Her shadowed gaze tracks to the roses. "I'm endeared that you remembered. Unless they're not for me, for all I know, some lucky strumpet might be waiting in line in the hours past midnight. In which case..." Mischief plays over the line of her mouth. "...I'm taking them anyway."

--

It's really only in a place like this, with a bill like the one Tris flashes to draw the attention of a nearby server, that the well-dressed man can expect a request like, "See to these for the lady, won't you?" to result in the bouquet being whisked away in anticipation of a vase for the table, and see it done in short order. It's not so quick that there isn't time for the brunette to reach down and claim her hand, his Summer hot, for a brief press of heated lips to, not her knuckles, but the inside of her fingers in just that same spot, lady permitting.

"The strumpet gets her own flowers," is a reply that has humor dancing in his eyes. It's really not entirely implausible for the old Tris to have made such an arrangement, but this is not the old Tris, and he adds, "I'm all yours tonight," before caressing the back of her hand with his thumb and relinquishing it so he can settle himself into his chair.

One thing that hasn't changed is habitual sprawl, a gesture that takes up more space than a man of his size really needs. Tall and leanly muscular though he is, he's not especially large. What he lacks in size, however, is always made up for with a notable presence. "Nice place," he observes, though his dark gaze doesn't leave Odile's face. "Do you come often?"

--

The server bows low at the request, taking the bouquet before it's taken to the back where a crystal vase would surely be prepared, to be presented at the table along with their meal. Odile doesn't even turn her head when the uniformed man makes his exit, her attention resting solely on her companion this evening. Supple softness - the result of her vanity and the painstaking regimen she indulges in every day to care for her skin - meets his waiting mouth, wrist turning and fingers opening just a touch for the tips of them to brush on the high ridge of his cheekbone when he presses his kiss on the inside of her palm. The turn of her visible mouth changes then, but only subtly, noting the changes wrought on him and the gossamer lines that mark where he has been pulled apart, and stitched back together again.

"Grand," she quips, her curving mouth implicative of bright, but silent laughter; her skin reacts to his touch, faint goosebumps rising at that brief caress, reacting once again to memory - she has always been acutely sensitive physically. "You know how I feel about sharing. Selfish and greedy creature that I am." Her banter, as usual, comes effortlessly to her; conversation usually does. She is just as much of a talker as she is a listener.

The years have taught her enough about its passage to impress upon her the simple truth that while humans are capable of great change, they do not change completely. The spectres of the past lurk persistently in the way he arranges himself across her, and she doesn't quite hide that shifting smile, pressing it against her wine glass. "One of the only places worth regularly patronizing in the city," she tells him. "Though my biases are as insistent as always - there are dishes that Louis executes better. Has he ever cooked for you, while you were in New York?"

--

Odile is not the only one taking in the changes wrought by time spent away from this world. She may be used to her mien, and Tris' artist's eyes aren't rude in their assessment, but they do linger on not only her face, but on what must be that shadowing haze. It might even be the first topic up for conversation, with his easy, "So you haven't changed a bit is what you're telling me?" That, with it's edge of playfulness to the tone and the light lift of his dark brows, could be a deeper question or simply the surface exchange it might appear. Where he was youthful and perhaps a little naive in his pleasure-seeking before, now there's hidden depths to this man, hidden perhaps behind his dark blue eyes. Aside from the quip, he doesn't comment on the ways in which she looks different to his opened eyes.

"I'm not going to be one to hold your excellent taste against you." Obviously despite the way his eyes had to have practically rolled out of his head from attending more high society affairs than anyone might like to admit to, there are some skills that have rubbed off: such as pairing honesty with flattery. It's a better bang for the buck and words are cheap anyway. "You'll have to make me recommendations. I've been wrapped up in settling in and haven't gotten out much as yet." It's a simple favor he's asking, but since it is a favor, he pairs it with a winning smile.

The question about Louis gets a vague roll of his shoulders, noncommittal in the extreme, but then Tris never has done terribly well with commitments to anything that isn't his camera, car or cash. "We were more casually acquainted. He helped me with some matters of business after my parents passed. After..." He might've gone on, but a slight frown takes his lips and he just shrugs. After the return. Death of his parents. There are at least two reasons he might not have just gone on, but the other might be that he shifts slightly forward in his chair to cant his head at her, "When was the last time we saw each other? 20..16?" He hazards a guess. It would've had to be before the fall. Before he went missing. Before his media mogul parents used the publicity of his disappearance to leverage obscene profits in sympathy of their family trauma, even going so far as to launch an entire magazine line for young men in his honor, if thankfully not his name.

--

The shadows that bathe her hidden form slip and slide over her silhouette as if alive; they highlight as much as they conceal, a slip of a luminous, reflective surface now and then. The shapes change, drawing the eye; sometimes they embrace her like jealous, ephemeral lovers, sometimes they web outwards, cloaking her in a fitted gown made of them. Sometimes, they spread out behind her back like wings, only to fold back up again. The only consistent thing about her mien, in the end, is a single visible eye that peeks out, or the shape of her mouth as plumes of smoke caress the line of her jaw.

"After everything, I thought my apparent consistency would be a comfort," Odile replies; this time, an audible laugh does unspool from her, leaning back in her seat as she regards him from under the brim of her hat, tilted just so that he would almost be able to make out the fine alabaster lines that make up the face underneath, eyes like blue diamonds glittering past the veil. "But yes, I suppose. I've been like this for as long as you've known me. Unless you've somehow discovered the secrets of reincarnation. That isn't to say that I don't remember the years when I was mortal." She can't, in fact, escape from them. A contemplative finger traces the curve of her wine glass.

"And how are you settling in?" she wonders. "Or is it too early in the evening to ask you why you've decided to abandon New York and shift gears down south, instead?"

It's her air that changes when he touches on the tragedies that have befallen him after he's managed to claw himself out of the thorns and brambles. "Perhaps a drink, before we venture into those paths," she suggests, already waving for a server. "And yes, thereabouts. Before I left for Europe again. Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow," she quotes, before falling silent. Hadn't she left, perhaps she could have prevented it - a rare foray into altruism, and no small measure of regret. "Where have you settled, in the city?"

--

When Tris shifts in his seat this time, it's to lean in, all the way in, as one sharing a confidence. His voice pitches lower, but maybe half the allure is that she'll have to make an effort to listen as he murmurs just barely audible over the din of conversation in the world outside their immediate bubble. "I try not to tell myself comforting lies anymore." There's something dangerous underlying the velvet of his voice; it's not a threat, not for Odile, simply the embrace of what's true, and strong feelings about it. Given the heat that is his constant companion, it doesn't take much to guess the general direction that those feelings take.

As he leans back again, the glow from his skin must catch some kind of light that's a little different than what it's entrapped before because the gold becomes entwined with a hazy violet, just on the side of his face that's turned to the window - maybe the gift from a passing headlight?

"I appreciate truth when I can have it," which might be the photojournalist in him speaking. "But then, you know that." These words, that probably speak to memories of those moments when he begged her indulgence in candid photographs and the topics they discussed while he snapped his amateur shots, have him pausing to look at her all over again, expression shadowed.

His lips open again, but judging how they close and settle into a smirk, there's a good chance that these once-lovers are on the same page again, and he waits for the server. It might keep her waiting for more of an answer, but he orders a glass of wine with a complimentary nod to what the lady's chosen, watching the attendant walk away before he speaks again. "My people got me an apartment in the Aquitane." That swanky, twenty-storey building in the central business district designed with people with just his kind of cash in mind. "Nice view," seems to be the best he can come up with to describe it just this moment. "What about you?" It's easier to speak of these things, these present things, at least until there's more to drink, and maybe it's still easier even then.

--

She indulges him, but that is her all over, too, echoing the times that she had playfully rebuffed him when he's clearly being teasing, and offering him tokens of her better self whenever intensity and seriousness cut through his casual veneer. Odile shifts on her seat, the angle of her chin finding the heel of her palm, to lean in as she listens, the angle of ambient light shifting to brush over the slant of her cheek, just as pale as the rest of her - against such dark colors, it looks almost white, but nothing so devoid of glow that it looks unhealthy. The effect is just as luminous as her mien, spiced by traces of cinnamon and cloves, of chilly air and the earthen notes of falling, vibrant leaves.

"Arcadia peddles in beautiful lies, though don't be too quick to discard the advantages of a well-placed one," is what she says in reply, unsurprising for a woman who has made her vast fortune in deception. "Sometimes they're necessary, if not just for survival - of the self, and of the mind. And yes." Her smile returns, laden with spectral traces of that remembered affection. "I know." Memory is a draw, it always has been, dancing over those past entreaties in the hopes of unveiling some manner of mystery, be it something related to their circumstances, or herself. "Do you still use your studio as an interrogation chamber?" This last an open tease.

She straightens when the waiter arrives with a cart full of bottles, where Demitrius can pick and choose his poison, doled out once he makes a decision before he is away again. Like any good staff, the man knows when to arrive and when to part, and intimacy of any stripe is a thorny thing to intrude upon.

"Presently, the penthouse suite at Le Maison de la Luz," she tells him. "Though I intend to vacate it shortly once I review the papers Louis sent me by courier this morning. His people found me a place with a river view, here in the French Quarter. It doesn't come cheaply, as anything that reflects quality and is visibly worth the investment, but it has a private terrace, and room to dance in. Old world charm and modern amenities and conveniences - it'll cost me a little over a million, but the expense is nothing compared to a like property in New York. As you very well know."

--

Tris is not always the sharpest knife in the drawer, but when he's on his game, little gets missed and that applies frequently to social interactions. His dark blue gaze takes in not only the physical beauty of her, but all the subtle ways she comports herself, noting when (and not) she chooses to give him a piece of the past, or play on familiar themes. He cannot, naturally, begin to guess those deeper motivations or necessarily tell a truth from a cleverly crafted fiction, but he does pay attention to Odile, even as he speaks, even as she responds with that lean and her mien shifts.

Tris' low chuckle has a sinister edge, but it's not for her. Anger can show even in laughter and it blazes briefly here, perhaps even making his heat seem like something tangible, but that might just be the fancy of an active imagination and who that has escaped Arcadia can't help but have one of those? "I said I don't tell them to myself," he replies with a smile that doesn't reach his eyes. That means no one else is necessarily safe from finding a false tongue where a silver one might normally be.

"I haven't set up a studio yet," sounds candid as he makes himself comfortable in that characteristic sprawl again. "My camera and I are still learning to be extensions of one another now that it sees something different than I do. I have a few experiments in mind if I can find willing models, though." If his eyes linger along the enchanting lines of Odile's face and the mystery that her mien encourages, who can blame him? Many things have changed, but apparently the true sight of her hasn't changed his reactions to her, much if at all. "Would you care to be interrogated once I have a space?"

He draws a glass of wine to his lips, long after that helpful server has departed, to take a sip and consider the woman. "Or perhaps you'll invite me by to see your new view once you're settled. I think I'm interested in a change of scene too, but I haven't wrapped my head around what it needs to be, yet. Maybe Louis can help me there. I'm intending to get 'round to Salome's later this week." He toys with the stem of his glass a heartbeat before adding in a way that is both dismissive and probing at once, "A million should be nothing for you," right?

--

He would have to be, and it is a testament as to how much he has actually learned in his durance, even without speaking openly of such experiences. Odile has always played on layers; to openly dismiss her as a vain socialite with an overinflated sense of importance and places too much emphasis on style over substance is a dangerous folly not many have recovered from once she finally struck. The courts of Spring may have tried to lure her for her ability to be a more than capable seductress, but she has stayed with the waning seasons for a very good, very tangible reason. Either that, or she naturally commands attention - equal odds, really.

She's not completely inured to the changes in him just yet; Summer's wrath blazes in a wild inferno before her and if there's any hesitation in her engagements with him, it is brief to the point of non-existence. "I also mean to oneself," she tells him. "We're changed, but some part of us is human, still. The mind has its ways of defending what's precious, but we're both grown adults - we can have a difference in opinion without it getting in the way of a good meal, and engaging company." She plucks her wine glass off the tablecloth, taking a nursing sip and leaving the faint imprint of her lip lacquer upon the crystalline surface.

The prospect of being interrogated parts her mouth, mischief in the revealed pearls of her scarlet smile. "You know the bargain," she tells him simply. "Only if I get copies. I do have walls to adorn, eventually, with pieces of art. I'm looking forward to seeing how the years have refined your technique."

It's an expression that blossoms further, not just at the appreciative way his eyes linger on the hidden nuances of her countenance, but the audacity of his suggestion. She did always like the bold ones, who never fail to express their desires at a given moment, and bull forward in the attempts to claim them. "Once it's ready," she tells him. "You know me. I'm quite particular and far be it for me to extend an invitation when a place is less than what it's meant to be." His later remark brings forth a grin. "Money is easy," she tells him simply.

Silence falls afterward, though there is nothing uncomfortable about it. The hat and what it hides softens her scrutinizing regard; perhaps she is still marveling at the changes in him, or perhaps she is simply stepping on the seeds of a growing sort of displeasure, crushing them unforgivably with a dainty pressure from her stiletto. Perhaps it is appreciative, too, when he looks older, and bathed with the scorching heat of deep-seated ire. Perhaps it is something else. Neither, or all of the above.

"What happened, cher?" The endearment is rare, but softly intoned and paired unfairly with the subtle kiss of Paris in her accent. "It couldn't have been long after I left you the last time."

--

"Some part of us is human..." Tris' murmur is quiet, perhaps so quiet that the words are really to himself more than her. He takes another sip of his wine that might resemble more of a gulp, though not taken so crassly, not in this setting, not in front of this woman in this setting. His manners are present and accounted for as he settles the glass back onto the table and adjusts his seat closer, abandoning the sprawl in favor of a more conversational distance as topics turn more intimate.

"I'm not completely sold on that, but I'm willing to be convinced." The words come out playful enough to suggest the kinds of circumstances that he'd find most favorable for such conversations without needing to be crude about the continued flirtation with the idea of taking up some semblance of prior liaisons. The photographer's smile tugs up into something rakish as he adds, "If we didn't disagree, however could we make the excuse to need to resolve our differences...? Or not." 'Not' was always fine with him. Every kind of casual liaison once upon a time floated his very youthful boat. Maybe that much hasn't changed either. Still, though he's making titillating remarks, there's no sense of pressure to his advances. He does have a habit of taking what he wants, but what Beast doesn't? Summer surely doesn't help those bold tendencies, but as yet, there's no need to rush the hunt.

Long fingers stroke the handle of his fork idly, his eyes thoughtful on the reflective surface a moment before his dark gaze is back on Odile's face, watching her lips, drawing up to her eyes - eye - whatever is visible in this moment. "Of course. Copies are a fair trade." That Tris doesn't prefer to be indebted to anyone is easily common knowledge through routine interaction, but he's always been fine with a fair trade: modeling for pictures, for example. Goods for services. Cash for... whatever the cash buys. "It might be that specifics would be better suited to the secret-keeping a studio can afford. I'll see what I can do about setting up a space, if you'd indulge me with a visit once it's done?" The man's lifted brows are an invitation, even if the longish locks of his hair have fallen forward at long last to sweep down half over his eyes.

Just because he doesn't want to get into specifics here and now doesn't mean that he will leave her wanting, full stop. What Tris offers is simple and straightforward, "I was chasing a lead." Of course. "I got something else." There's a long pause in which it might shortly seem like he won't say more, but he does add, "I don't remember everything. It was... decades, at least." Centuries, maybe? "I found my way back. With scars." Can she guess based on the physical evidence? A single eyebrow twitch challengers her try.

"My parents died. New York was too full of memories. So I came here to start again." He contemplates her a long, long moment of silence before murmuring, "And I've found you." Is there suspicion in that gaze? If so, it might be only briefly there, "So it's not all bad, is it." He tries for levity but the tone falls flat. "What do you want to tell me about...?" He trails off and leaves it at a slight gesture of his hand to indicate herself, but the implication is clear.

--

She makes room for him, when he adjusts his seat closer to her own; the subtle scrape of a chair leg and the graceful arrangement of her own person to account for his taller frame and broader shoulders - the shadow he casts over dim lighting, and how it could easily swallow hers. His earlier audacity seems to be inspired the further their conversations fall in the line of remembered intimacy, and her smile broadens all the more for it. His playfulness is returned in spades, along with a slight tipping of her head, but not enough that he could see her eyes and how they burn like sapphirine fireflies at his flirtations. "You know very well that I could be very convincing no matter the circumstance," she tells him with a laugh, good-humor visible on mask and mien. "With clothes, without clothes." The turn of her mouth becomes shamelessly suggestive as she adds, with a lowered tone, "Through clothes." She remembers those, too, instances where youthful impatience gets in the way of elegance and propriety, telltale cries smothered by a hungry mouth or teeth raking into a shoulder swathed with impeccable tailoring.

Plans for a studio space underway, she takes in his lifted brows and the blue eyes they frame. "It'd be cruel to propose it and not deliver," she tells him; the words may be delivered in half-jest, but while she may be Fairest in facade, she is a Darkling by nature, transformed out of the brilliance she had held in life out of the desire to survive, and forever drawn to the possibilities the play of dark and light affords. "I'll visit once it's ready."

These flirtations come easily to her, but they give way, eventually, to a subsumed sort of intensity that Odile tends to save when something truly captures her interest. "Found your way back?" she prompts at the end of it; he would easily get the sense that she is much the same. It isn't just his face, or the way his mouth shapes the words and implies the horrors he doesn't tell her, but every shift of his shoulders and the way heat emanates from him in waves - that, too, seems alive, and ever-changing based on the severity of his moods.

"Or fought your way back?" Her head eases in a backwards angle enough that he'd be able to see her eyes tracing the gossamer rainbows that keep his mien stitched together. She seems agreeable enough not to hear the details in public, but there's a slight tightening at the hinge of that pale, delicate jaw, where it meets the elegant line of her throat. Every durance is different, but the effects are always the same.

If she catches that suspicious turn, she doesn't show it. The low remark has her hat brim lowering again, her index caressing the curve of her glass. "The world is smaller than we would like, sometimes," she tells him. "I was in France before I arrived here, pursuing my own leads."

And for what she's willing to tell him? Her smile changes in its quality, the turn of it bittersweet and equal parts hatred and longing. "Captivity wasn't kind," she tells him. "And my Keeper's love is torture and addiction, both. It's insidious, non? How poison can be so sweet, when delivered correctly, even as it ravages you from the inside out." A sudden, soft laugh leaves her. "I benefited tremendously from my pride, and my unwillingness to be so possessed."

--

"When you put it like that," Tris drawls, letting his eyes roam quite purposefully across her this time, and lower than just her face, "It's hard to think of anything else." It's meant to be flattering, that flicker of desire in his eyes, but the game is still on and he's not one, now, to appear over-eager, however unbridled his desires might have been in more youthful days. He smiles at her when his eyes return to her face, "But I do remember feeling very convinced. Very sure of you." Maybe that's why it's easier to let go of that flicker of suspicion (or just bury it better).

He takes on an affronted air that's all show and no substance. "Why, Miss Devereaux, do you mean to imply that I would ever not deliver on my half of a bargain?" There's something there, a brief flash of volatile passion that has little to do with the discussion at hand, but it's there and gone so swiftly it might be easy to miss. "I would never," is the completion of this small drama played out for pleasure, but it's a pleasure based in fact. Tris is a man of his word whenever it's possible to be, and circumstances would have to be wildly impossible for him to not try his damnedest. It's also why a real gift of his word is a rare, rare thing. "I will hold you to that," if not as formally as anything more than an agreement between friends.

Friends? There's something that dances around the edge of his smiles that plays at the idea, or something else. Maybe it's all just flirtation and games, a hunt for the pleasure of it, for the loss of sensibilities in the seeking. It was always attractive to him, the hunt, but there used to be as much pleasure in the completion, the win. One might wonder if there is anymore, given how unexpectedly patiently he's being with playing this game.

"Found, fought. A few letters make all the difference to the word. Which of us managed to find this world who didn't have to fight to gain it?" It's a rhetorical question since the answer is all, if not most. The exceptions might be the reason why suspicion isn't an unexpected reaction among the Lost, even when dealing with their own kind.

Tris toys with his napkin this time, his brow creasing in a moment of introspection before he looks back to the woman across from him. "I don't mind the size of the world these days. I've yet to find a face I regret making reacquaintance with. If my other girlfriends start showing up though..." He effects a humorously horrified expression. "You'll just have to frighten them off for me," he suggests, but likely with no real intent behind it. Tris has never had a problem handling his various affairs before.

The humor ebbs away. It has to. Dark blue eyes express an empathy that goes deep, deeper, maybe even deepest. He lets that look speak volumes for him for his words are soft and few, "I can relate." It's a story for another time, but it doesn't stop him from extending a hand across to her, turning it palm up, the cuff of his shirt riding up just enough to reveal a line which immediately grabs up the light of something and reflects a wink of burnished gold up at the woman.

--

She isn't one to submit herself to anyone's inspection, but his trailing, playful note earns him another glimmer of that bright, uninhibited laughter, a bob of her hatted head before plucking her wine once more off the tabletop. "Memory can play cruel tricks, even to those long-lived," Odile banters back. "It makes refreshing oneself of the details all the more imperative, given the right circumstances." With that, a flick of that elegant wrist raises her glass higher to him in a silent toast.

The play on being offended, though, ensures that the resulting fruit of that earlier laughter remains on the visible half of her face. "I'm fond of saying put your mouth where the money is," she tells him gamely; for such an elegant creature, she prefers, clearly, to be a playful one, even to those she doesn't know well. It's an overt bastardization of the American idiom, but it's deliberately made despite whatever convincing excuses she could make about not having been born in the United States, or even raised there. "But yes, let me know. You know how to reach me." And his number is in her phone, given the plans they've made this evening, under 'Demitrius' and never by his preferred moniker, for reasons she has yet to explain to him.

She's no mind reader; the more cryptic turn to his expression affords him a tilt of her head, as inquisitive as a bird's - but this is brief, and tabled for now when they foray back into shared experiences and the scars they've left. His question may be a rhetorical one, but she answers anyway, replies drawn out by experience. "The lucky ones," she tells him. "I hear that they're few and rare in between, but they exist. Largely hearsay, but I have my ways of verifying. Though..." She turns a more amused look towards him, framed by her hat. "I think that's definitely a suggestion where the old warnings apply. Be careful what you wish for. The courtiers of Autumn take those entreaties quite seriously, though if you are serious, be heartened that it'll definitely work."

She's clearly teasing him, however, laugher imbued in her visible mouth.

He can relate, he claims, but there's no doubt in her features there. "Plenty of our brethren can," she reminds; her tone is absent, almost dreamy, if not just to smother the strains of dangerous longing that lingers in the battered marrow of her bones. Attention drawn to his gesture, her head lowers to glimpse the gilded line that encircles his wrist.

Her touch is light, when her fingertips find the sensitive hollow of the inside of it, the pads of her index and middle sliding under the cuff, to push it up even further to expose what she glimpses, and feel the rush of his blood through his veins. She makes these gestures seem effortless, as if even now performing in front of hundreds of rabid, hungry eyes, that one slip or misstep could consign her again to unbelievable punishments.

--

Some things are, in the end, practice made deeply ingrained habit. Both her effortlessness and his shudder when her finger passes over the raised ridge of something that feels, inexplicably, like flexible crystal fall into this category. As that sleeve nudges up, the edge of a tattoo might just be seen. She might even remember that tattoo, a thorny rose now occupying the softest part of his forearm. Maybe, just maybe, it's a copy of the one she would remember, the one that was on his shoulder... or maybe... not. Tris briefly seeks to catch her hand and squeeze it gently before he withdraws his arm, reaching to tug the sleeve self-consciously back into place, not that it really moved much in truth.

The flow of conversation resumes but only after those habits have their way, so the flow necessarily changes course. In fact, when he speaks it's introducing a whole new topic, "What do you think of all this freehold nonsense?" Or is it? "Several of our brethren seem to think it's the best way to relate. To find one another." Given his Summery nature and the verbiage he's opened with, it might hint that he holds a differing opinion on the matter.

"I suppose a freehold could have its uses. It would allow us to find those lucky ones." He pins her momentarily with a serious look. "If you find any, I would enjoy a conversation." He means an 'interrogation,' of course, probably with his camera in hand. "Though more mundane than what I wish with you." It's not that he's out to sleep with the world anymore, although from this blunt remark, he doesn't seem to be overly eager to let Odile pass him by in this new walk of life, if he can help it.

The photographer picks up his glass and murmurs over the rim, "If we always put our mouth where the money is, we might need to get tested for very unpleasant things." Given his successful career after college as a full-time paparazzo and photojournalist submitting to the juiciest gossip rags and social media sights, he would know a thing or two about how the rich and famous choose to spend their time and money and what the hazards there might be for anyone bringing their mouth close enough (figuratively or literally) to contract something. Still, with the way he phrases it and the humor that warms his voice, it all adds up to being more or less a joke.

He has to sober a little over the sip of his wine and the brief search of the red liquid for something that really couldn't be there before he comments in a way that isn't nearly as offhandedly as he'd probably prefer, "Memory is one of the cruelest companions, or one of the sweetest. Or both at once. Some nights, I prefer not to keep its company." With that, he'll lift his glass again, but not in toast as she did, but rather to polish off the remainder in a few swallows.

--

There's no resistance when he catches her hand, the rigors of her vain regimen making themselves known by that more solid grip, but she knows the gesture for what it is. That searing warmth savagely chases away her cooler temperatures like the sun drives away the moon once it's its turn to hold sway over the sky. For the briefest of moments, he'd find both her eyes locking into his - the face behind it remains impenetrable, whatever pain behind the memory kept secure through the steel blast doors of her. Her displeasure is a reckless thing, her hate even moreso and for a moment, every breath in her ceases in an effort to strangle her temper back into place. There's no sign of it, save for the glowing flush that creeps up from the hollow of her throat. She longs for Arcadia, in a way, but it doesn't take much to remind her that it is a desire born from artifice, burned away by the grim determination to see it all to cinders, and her Keeper hanging by his neck.

Overall an impossible dream, but she was never one to balk from a challenge.

When the conversation turns to a possible freehold, there's a quiet sigh. "It has its risks and rewards," Odile replies with barely a pause. What makes her seem so imperious and easily the most untouchable thing in the room, with her polished veneer and cold, almost regal beauty, is largely due to the fact that she is so decisive about everything, and hardly ever hesitates indulging her whims. "There's safety in numbers, but as I told Louis, it only takes one blithering idiot to get us all killed. It's something that can be circumvented with the right oaths and sealings, but as you may know already, loopholes exist and are there to be exploited. I think in the end, its success will be determined on those the others choose to wear the crown in each turn of the season." She finishes her wine, also, savoring the last drop before setting it aside.

"You should be aware that the reason why New Orleans has been closed to us for quite some time is because of a rumor that one of Them was a signatory of its Shadow Accords." Her words are a soft murmur. "I've yet to verify that information, but if true, if we managed to form a cohesive collective, there may be ways to shut Them out as participants, leaving this city free from Their influence and the prospect of a Hunt a dicey one. That's one point in favor of creating a freehold here. It's something that ought to be explored with due care, however. Like I said, the veracity of such claims requires exploration."

Her fingers trace absent patterns on the tablecloth in front of her. "I'll send them your way if I find one, as it stands I've already come across another who found his freedom not too long ago. I directed him Louis' way - he could use a good tailor, on top of everything else."

That blunt remark surprises her, stilling the absent gestures of her fingers. "Are you certain?" Equal parts teasing and serious. "Any degree of involvement with me could be dangerous." Now that he knows what she is, now that he might have some inkling as to what she could bring to the table, and the sort of trouble she attracts by simply breathing.

His last but astute observation does draw another laugh, head tipping towards him as she nods her concession there. "Well, I was leaning more towards a more allegorical comparison to money but that doesn't prove your commentary false." She leans forward then, every line of her suggesting a disconcertingly convincing, innocent vibe. He can practically see the way her eyes glitter at him. "Memory can be either those things," she allows. "I wonder, however, if I qualify for cruel or sweet."

--

If Tris' durance had been different, had left him with mechanisms instead of flesh as it has done some others, it might be possible to hear the ticking of weighty consideration with which he collects and considers each piece of information the astute Autumn has to offer about the formation of a freehold, the Accords and all things political. But then, one of Summer's failings is too frequently a hot response without enough consideration to the facts.

The rumor of Their involvement has him strangling his napkin one-handed, within an inch of its fine-fibered life. His expression darkens to a black hatred that isn't hidden in the slightest. Keeping himself composed was never one of Tris' strengths and that doesn't seem to have changed. He reaches for the crutch of a drink, but his is empty and so in paltry exchange for what he really wants, he makes a demanding snap of his fingers in the air and a point to the glass without even looking to see who it is that comes so quickly to do his bidding.

When he manages to speak, his voice is rough but at least he doesn't need to speak through gritted teeth when he says, "I'm keenly aware of the tactical disadvantages of a court. My time in New York was well spent." Maybe that's why he's so hot (if not why he's so hot). Several swallows from his refreshed glass later, he can go on. "Still, if that information proves itself, it may be reason enough to try." He can't help but wrinkle his nose slightly about the whole affair, but then he's shaking it off, shaking off the anger, shaking off his rise to a dangerous edge, something deeper and darker than he ever had Before. "I'd be interested to hear if you learn anything more," he adds before taking another swallow.

There's tension in the lines of his muscular frame now, and he tries to ease it with the gesture of rolled shoulders, but it's obvious the labor of maintaining a civil mask is quickly wearing away his will. Perhaps distraction will do the trick and dark eyes settle on Odile again, on her lips this time. "I think the risks go two ways at this point. I've never shied from risk. I've even been known to seek it out," far more often than is healthy, but who's counting?

Risk. That might prove a better distraction by far. He slips out of his chair on impulse and reaches into his suit jacket to withdrawal his wallet. He's guilty of the 'throw money at it crime,' and he commits it again now, by dropping more than a sufficient amount of bills on the tabletop before tucking the wallet away. He extends a hand to his companion in potentially intoxicating invitation. "Come for a drive with me, Odile." The entreaty holds a smoldering edge that muddles needs of one sort with needs of an entirely other ilk. She might remember that he likes to drive when things get tough. He likes to run. To move.

--

There was a time when such recklessness would have been fuel for her passions, when Demitrius had been mortal. The more inundated he was with lust or some heightened emotion, the more she seems to burn, freely immolating herself with it. But he is as Lost as she is, now, and those remembered tastes will forever be out of her reach. Reminded of it so starkly with him sitting in front of her, with his changes and roused temper, she can't help but miss these pieces of him fondly. Another thing that she could never reclaim. It is enough to keep those determined, angry pyres burning.

Odile says nothing just yet, simply watching him as he attempts to rein in his fury, lashes hooding low over those blue-diamond eyes. "Information is an exceedingly dangerous trade to operate in," she tells him delicately. "But I've made it my business to go where the brighter ones fear to tread. Chances are that I will, I'll pass on what I manage to unearth." If it is dangerous, nothing about her air shudders at it, incapable of radiating anything less than her regal, unshakeable confidence. She was always a woman who knew precisely what she wants, and how to get it - the years have not dulled these sharper edges of her to any degree.

The crimson mouth he focuses on curves upwards. "I remember," she tells him. "But I can also acknowledge the possibility that prior experiences elsewhere has dispensed a certain wisdom in not jumping into the chasm without a parachute. I'm not one to talk, however." She is inured to playing dangerous games professionally - it's half the reason why she's so successful.

She doesn't move when he does, her regard following him, as silent and silken as the shadows that jealously keep her in their clutches. There isn't a lick of hesitation, either, when a white hand lifts to rest in his offered one, to rise from the table and set her napkin on the surface, forgotten, her touch playing lightly over his rougher own. "I'll allow it," she says, with that dignified air, and the challenging angle of her jaw. But there's a smile on her mouth, a teasing flicker in eyes like blue embers. "Provided that you aren't shy about the gas pedal." It's as non-serious as they come; she knows he never is. "I noticed in Jules' fete that your taste in cars hasn't much changed, either."

--

Though Tris is often careful to temper his language to a more cultured and refined state around this woman who lives and breathes and embodies everything that is that along with everything else that she appears to be to people like Demitrius, it's an unusual moment, and maybe a sign of his devolving mental state that he grins wildly at her as he says, "Who the fuck needs a parachute?" Not he.

He... probably took in what she said of her work, of her time in the shadows where those steeped more in light dare not go, but it's entirely likely that the deeper meanings are lost to him as primal powers are chafing at the tenuous bonds that hold them in check. Maybe he'll unpack the memory later, process it later, like the images taken from the tiny card that contains them until they're unloaded onto a machine that can interpret all the raw data, create something not only worthwhile but even promising or downright amazing. Maybe he'll never really wrap his head around these moments. Only time will tell. That time isn't now, and to the Beast, now is what matters most.

Laughter comes with abandon as Tris takes in her tease, though his eyes don't question that things occur here and now in this way because she allows it. Will she allow herself to be drawn in against him as his hand giving a brief and rough tug to draw her closer, perhaps for no other reason than that he wants her nearer for a few heartbeats? Maybe there's more reason than that, "I'm not shy about anything." Except he's already provided evidence during this meal that that is not the case, or didn't seem to be anyway.

Maybe he says it because it's just what he wants to believe, or maybe it's because he's never met a gas pedal he didn't need to press for more. He doesn't press her for more, not here, not now, but he does turn to hasten toward the door. It's not quite a run, but it's the kind of movement that is a throwback to an age he wasn't born for, a time when men and women should only be in solo company when in motion and the faster the better, so as to justify the contact of joined hands, for unless she protests, he's not letting her go.

--

It's his boldness and unfettered manner whenever he unchains himself that charms her in the end, lips tilting upwards in a broader smile. She doesn't say it, but the line of it is suggestive enough of the return retort: Who, indeed?

If her words find themselves lost in the moment, there's no chagrin from the refined Darkling; if he forgets it, Odile might actually prefer it. As she has noted, the trade is dangerous and it is only her deference to their sordid history together that allows her to impart that much, though it is less an enticement to revisit what they had before, and more a warning as to the state of things now. But he is as reckless as she remembers, and some part of her does nurse a gem or two of worry in that regard.

Her heels are high enough to make swift movement dangerous, but she has spent hours on her toes; classical ballet is an imposing and almost impossible discipline. She is accustomed to following her whims, but to dance means to sometimes move with a partner, and as he tugs her closer for whatever motivations or reasons he keeps to himself, she glides in that direction, as seamless as a diverted stream. Her hand does come up, to prevent herself from colliding fully into his chest, to flatten over where the relentless engine of him beats, and warms her cool fingertips. He almost manages to see her whole face when it tilts backwards to meet his eyes, to levy upon him the full, merciless brunt of one of her Cheshire smiles. "I know," she murmurs, tone indicative of all the methods how she knows that about him. Followed by an apparent, and equally truthful, "Neither am I." With a casual flick of her thumb against one of his shirt's buttons, smile growing all the more feline.

What does surprise her is his turn, and the loping stride he adopts, tugging her along like a rudderless vessel. That is when she nearly lists sideways, but she recovers with that omnipresent grace - like some manner of sleek jungle cat that always lands on her feet. Unable to help herself, there's a laugh, and an exclaimed, "Demitri, really!" drifting and coloring the darkness that invites them as the doors part and the men operating them bow at their departure.