Logs:Joie de Mort

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Joie de Mort


Characters: Nikola and Muse
Date: 2020-06-02
Summary: Muse visits The Regas and passes some time with her Captain.
Disclaimers:

Captain's Quarters - The Regas - New Aurora

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In the tradition of the great Age of Sail, the captain's quarters are located to the aft of the steamship and are, it must be said, quite roomy. The state rooms double doors open into a wide reception area and living room, replete with a curved-screen television mounted on one wall and a long couch of pale blue leather bolted to the floor. The walls and ceiling are all pale oak, varnished to a golden hue, and kept scrupulously polished. A small dining area has been established off to one side, the fiberglass table actually mounted to the wall and hinged, to be raised whenever it is not in use. A dumbwaiter's hatch is visible behind the head of the table. The walls are covered with nautical art -- pictures of galleys, ships under sail, steamships cruising up the Mississippi, great cruise liners cutting through the Atlantic.

The actual sleeping quarters take up the entire rear half of the state room, separated by a series of pine panels that act as a faux-wall. A magnificent gallery window allows views of the Mississippi below, lit by faux-gasoline lanterns on the exterior. Unusually, sliding metal plates have been mounted to the ceiling and run down along heavy-duty tracks, ready to be lowered at the press of a small white button. The captain's bed is, actually, rather modest - attached to the portside bulkhead, it is queen-sized, with a slight lip to prevent the sleeper from rolling out, but is conspicuous in its plain sheets and weighted blanket. The rest of the space is taken up with a rather nice Persian carpet, upon which sit four chairs in a companionable circle around one small coffee table -- clearly a private reception area. A single painting decorates the wall, an image of an eastern-looking galley with one huge lateen sail, cutting through the sea. A bronze cannon can be seen on its bow.

Even aboard a vessel that caps three hundred feet by some distance, the movement of the Mississippi can be felt like a live thing, a subtle back-and-forth movement as the powerful river rushes along the hull of the flat-bottomed steamboat. And even here, in the midst of the tranquility preserved by the captain's cabin, the casino's garish music can be dimly heard, a not-unpleasant counterpoint to the soft classical music playing in the stateroom. The captain himself, dressed in a pair of fitted jeans and a T-shirt that reads Twilight Bites in blood-dripping font, lounges on the lovely leather couch.

There is a decanter of a ruby-red liquid sitting on the small coffee table before him, moisture glistening on the glass as whatever is within begins to warm to room temperature. Two glasses sit beside the decanter. Apparently, he is expecting a visitor. Through the massive stern window, the dark waters of the Mississippi can be seen rushing off to the north as the incredibly-powerful tide surges inward from the ocean. The window is open, allowing in a warm, salt-scented breeze. Leaning forward to pour himself a glass of alcohol-infused Vitae, Nikola glances over toward the door.


It's perhaps a pleasant middle-ground on the water, this vessel. Muse is, despite her keen and unabashed desire to learn and adapt, still struggling on occasion with the sheer volume of the city, not to mention the glare of neon and fluorescence so abundantly in use along its streets. Even with the guidance of her coterie-mates, things can - and do - get overwhelming to her vampiric senses. That probably explains her choice in wearing an enormous pair of dark-tinted aviators. Indoors. At night.

Having been invited, and already acquainted with the steamboat and its layout, the newest member of the coterie slips unobtrusively through the door, not bothering with a knock to announce her arrival. He's expecting her, after all; it should come as no surprise. She's even dressed almost like a normal person tonight, seeing as there's a chance of crossing paths with fine folks. No sense in besmirching the Captain's reputation before he has opportunity to establish himself.. he'll no doubt be running that risk all on his own, if that debonair flair can't be reined in at least a little. That, if nothing else, is a quality he can consider shared with the slender Mekhet; a general distaste for rules and authority, and the constant urge to flout tradition merely for one's own amusement. Anyway. This evening's ensemble comprises, along with those dark shades, a blouse of gauzy, near sheer black tucked neatly beneath the high waist of dully gleaming ebon leggings. And, of course, the combat boots. Though she has cleaned the swamp mud from them, prior to her arrival. So that's something.

"Good evenin', Cap'n Flint." Honestly, introducing Muse to the world of streaming services maybe wasn't the best idea, in hindsight. She insists on making use of quotes from whatever show or movie has most recently been stumbled upon. Last week it was Peaky Blinders and, as it turns out, she really can't do that accent. Affecting a curtsey with the skirts of a non-existent gown, the brunette flashes one of those habitual half-smiles before approaching one of the empty chairs. "Made anyone walk the plank yet? Stocked up on rum and saucy wenches?" Drawing the weight of her long tresses forward over one shoulder, she eases down to a seat, leaning back and crossing her legs comfortably at the knee; oddly regal despite her appearance and manner. It's impossible to assume just where her gaze may be wandering behind those lenses, but a subtle tilt of her head and a further quirk of her lips in smirking amusement precedes explanation, in that regard. "..Seth caught me watching Twilight the other night." Ahh, the t-shirt, then. "That Bella girl really only got one oar in the water, huh? What tripe."


If Nikola is surprised by Muse's arrival, it may be because she actually came through the door rather than that stern window. He looks up as she closes the door behind herself, absently reaching for the decanter and filling the second glass. The bearded Ventrue watches Muse with open appraisal, gaze drifting up and down her frame. "Did someone take you shopping? You look lovely, Muse. And a bit... well, frankly, more frightening." His smile is teasing, but there is a hint of an edge there. There's always a hint of an edge where Nikola is concerned. His Beast rises in greeting, a warmth that cannot be masked from the other predator. Welcome, pack-mate.

He reaches up to brush at his beard, smile broadening a touch. "Captain Flint, eh? You discovered Black Sails already? I thought we had weeks of Peaky Blinders left before it came to this. I want to watch Season 2 with you." Teaching Muse to stream may have been the most brilliant decision of his unlife, a constant flood of enjoyment for the elder Vampire. Pulling out his cell-phone, Nikola presses a few buttons and suddenly, the bright lighting in the room dims to something that may be more manageable for his companion. Of course, she may choose to keep those Aviators on for the sheer devilry of keeping him guessing. Her curtsy draws a smile from the man and he rises, offering a gracious bow in response. From the grace of the movement, it is one that he has had cause to use before.

"I'm afraid I haven't forced anyone to walk the plank, though I did have to eject a card-counter earlier this evening. Are you familiar with counting cards? Fascinating means of cheating the odds." Such small talk -- is Nikola nervous, beneath that polished exterior? He gestures around the oak-paneled room, smiling again. "Welcome to our home away from the Plantation. I thought we might go into New Aurora tonight, if you're interested, and drain a few Bougies. But first..." He leans forward and grabs a remote from the coffee table, flicking on the massive television. "Twilight might be absolute tripe, and Bella is the least-fun victim I can imagine... but I had a suggestion. Has Seth shown you Queen of the Damned yet?"


"Frightening? Me?" Muse places a hand lightly upon her chest, looking suitably scandalised by such an accusation for all of ten seconds before relenting back to that unreadable almost-grin. "How dare you, sir. I am the walking epitome of innocence and purity." Pause. "So kiss my go-to-hell." Well, that's that taken care of. Now she can lean forward, collecting her drink in one hand as the other rises to deftly remove and fold her sunglasses, setting them on the table's polished surface. "Thank you." The murmured gratitude for the dimming of the light seems genuine enough.. she moves so swiftly through impressions and facades it can be difficult to consistently discern what's real. But she does so abhor the light, Niko can probably guess at the sincerity, on this score. Frankly, she sees better in pitch black. Mekhet are creatures of the shadows, after all. "You like it, though?" Back to the matter of her attire, over which she casts a contemplative glance as she settles back once more in the comfortable armchair, newly freed palm sweeping across the front of her blouse. "I thought I had best look the part of 'respectable', aboard your fancy new floating palace." Her gaze, now no longer hidden, wanders the decor of the cabin in open appraisal, green-gold eyes gleaming in the scant illumination. "I confess, I do feel safer on dry land, myself.. but I imagine this appeals quite greatly to your inner seafaring ruffian. Interestin' to think, isn't it, of how circumstances have brought us all together, when we ought never have crossed paths.. or rather, if we had, in life I rather expect I'd have been the damsel you attempted to pillage." Pause. "That sure wouldn't end well for you now, darlin'."

In idle response, Muse's own beast, that languid feline presence ever simmering and prowling just beneath that angelic facade, stirs with the impression of a wide yawn, greeting his familiar one in kind with perhaps a rumbling growl of a purr. It's always rather akin to how one might expect to feel if a lion offered an affectionate butt of their head.. all well and good until they tire of seeking petting and praise.

Is the Ventrue nervous? How delightful. The brunette regards him from where she sits, dangling her glass between a thumb and forefinger and allowing that maddeningly unreadable smile of hers to play across her lips as she does so. Has she noticed? Does she intend to press some unspoken advantage? She could.. but there's an agreement, an understanding, between the coterie. Yes, she may amuse herself in teasing or taunting, but she would never deliberately demand some contest of will. They have their places, and she has hers. Quite what that is, of course, might be something of a mystery to those outwith the know. "Gamblin' was still a thing, even when I was last awake.. though I can't claim any real knowledge. Ladies weren't expected to play. Only to look pretty and keep their waists tiny." She takes a sip, at last, of her drink; not thinking to question Niko on the safety of doing so. "Maybe you can teach me? Somethin' tells me I'd have a talent for poker."

As for the matter of the movie, she merely arches a brow, rolling her mouthful around gently before swallowing, finding the taste to her liking. "Mmm. She'd have been more fun if they'd actually drained her, of course.. it was the constant awkward exhaling passing for 'acting' that really left me bewildered. Well, that and the notion of vampires sparklin'." A soft chuckle escapes her at this. "Anyway.. I'd be delighted to accompany you into town later, of course. And no.. he hasn't shown me that one, as I recall." That sweet Southern lilt is so at odds with.. well, literally everything else about the Shadow. "We did watch Interview with the Vampire. I liked Lestat. Louis was a misery. Why do these silver-screen depictions always paint our kind as so tormented while at the same time romanticisin' everything about their imaginin's of our existence? Do humans so badly want to be mopin' outcasts?"


"Frightening? You. One monster to another, my dear, you are exactly as scary as you think you aren't." Again, the teasing. Again, the slight overlay of truth. Nikola is no fool, as arrogantly as he presents himself on occasion. He's not bothering to pretend to breathe, here alone with another Vampire -- and a coterie-mate at that. But in a remarkable impression of life, his own pupils dilate slightly as Muse removes her sunglasses, allowing him a glimpse of what lurks behind the oversized mask of those mirrored lenses. "You're welcome," he acknowledges her gratitude. Gazing at Muse for a thoughtful moment, the lean Vampire lounges lazily onto the couch and drapes an arm across its back. He studies Muse's expression with the intensity of a scholar, or perhaps an archaeologist, seeking clues as to the emotion Muse might have felt at some point in the near past -- even a Vampire can't help but be a beat or two behind the dance, in this case. "I do like it," he remarks, giving Muse a lazy once-over again. His smile grows wicked. "You look like you could run this place with me. Whereas, I dressed to match you. I feel a bit silly." He glances down at his own T-shirt and grins. "About the sensation of dry land," he says after a few beats. "I have an idea about that. Have you ever found dry land beneath the water?" A glance toward that bank of stern windows. "We could make quite a splash together, if you like." He considers her sharply-worded warning and tacks on, "I won't attempt to pillage you, my dear. If I do decide to attempt some pillaging, I think it'd be more fun to bring you along for the ride. Show you some of the wicked delights of modern times." A slow rise of his eyebrows. "There's a cocktail waitress that I just hired. We could invite her in for the movie."

Picking up the television remote again, the lean figure flicks on Amazon. The movie is already cued up, a large block warning indicating that he has thirty days to view it before the rental expires. "Queen of the Damned is more a celebration of our freedoms than a miserable prodding at our loneliness." Is Nikola lonely? It seems as likely as his nervousness. His Beast nudges at Muse's, greeting its purr with one of its own -- glint of teeth, figuratively speaking, just behind the warm sound.

It isn't necessary for Muse to press her advantage, not really -- if Nikola is nervous, or even lonely, the big Ventrue leans into it with a slow sip from his Vitae. He closes his eyes for a moment, holding the blood on his tongue as it warms, and then swallows it. Relishing the bouquet, apparently. He opens his eyes with a slow, cat-like stretch, and presses 'play' on the movie, letting the opening credits provide yet another layer of background noise. "I could teach you to play poker," he agrees easily. "It wouldn't take long. A simple game. Far more to the point is your ability to read the other players -- and I don't think I have much to teach you, on that score." A slow sidelong glance at Muse. "If you'd like to learn, I have a few decks of cards somewhere around here. In one of the cabinets."

"That vampire family was an odd group, weren't they? Twinkling, walking around in the daylight, bothering to listen to their kine..." He waves expansively with his wine glass, clucking his tongue softly. A moment of silence follows. "I've been wondering," he says abruptly, shifting tones, "How you feel about nunneries. Did Seth tell you about what we found?"


The repetition of her formidable qualities, oddly enough, seems to actually mollify the Mekhet; her smile turning lazy and feline once more. Kicking off her heavy boots, she gets comfortable, drawing her legs up beneath herself within the comfort of the chair. "And you are twice as capable as you pretend, behind that jester's mask. Oh, it's a masterful impression, don't take me sayin' so as impugnity." Muse takes another small sip, providing herself a momentary pause before continuing. "I simply know better. That smile hides a thousand sins from most everyone but me." His thoughts have been her playground on more than one occasion. Her words, therefore, are neither metaphor nor fancy.. but nor do they threaten. If he's hiding darkness behind that easygoing smile and devil-may-care flamboyance, it would seem she enjoys it. "Beneath the water.." Giving this notion some thought, tilting her head a little to one side in open curiosity, the brunette eventually offers an actual answer. "No, not to my recollection.." She follows the pointed glance toward the windows, the inky darkness of the waters beyond, and begins to grin slightly. "..though it does sound intriguin'.."

Having settled herself, eventually having slung her long legs over the arm of her chair instead of beneath herself, Muse catches the description of the forthcoming movie and offers Niko a sidelong glance, surreptitious beneath those dark lashes. She's not always the sort for subtlety.. not in certain company. Namely that of her coterie-mates. "Are you lonely, Nikola?" For once there's no hint of mirth in the question. She's not making fun of him. Rather, there's the suggestion that such a possibility had never occurred to her. But then, the darkling is perfectly content in her own company. As the music begins, underscoring the narrative of the film's opening sequence, she flits her eyes in the direction of the screen for a moment, before returning her attention to her companion. "For what, exactly?" The idea of poker is set aside, in lieu of this more revealing subject. Though, when he elects to bring up the investigation, she cannot help but allow the diversion. For now.

"He did." she confirms, softly. "He also forbade me to go looking around the place, until things are more thoroughly investigated." Is that the hint of petulance about that lower lip? Well, of course it is. Muse is emphatically not a fan of being forbidden anything, as the darling of the coterie. But she will accept it, begrudgingly, from Niko and Seth both. "He told me what you discovered, showed me the photos.. explained about the casket girls and what befell the journalists who went traipsin' about where they oughtn't. I think the only further questions I could add were 'could it be that the blood's more important than the bodies' - as that'd explain their careless disposal after the fact - and 'were all the victims Catholic'. That one was wearin' a cross, right? But I understand y'all don't have your hands on all the materials quite yet." She takes another calm sip of vitae, swiping the crimson from her lips with the tip of her tongue, legs swinging a little where they dangle as she studies Niko for his response. The entire grisly affair doesn't seem to ruffle her in the slightest.. but then, it'd be difficult to tell, with Muse. The very fact that it has Seth on edge is reason enough to take the matter seriously. "You ever hear of anythin' other than one of our kind drainin' blood like that..?" Yes, on some matters she'll unabashedly defer to the Elder Ventrue.


Odd, how quickly Muse can be mollified simply by acknowledging her as an equal, or even a superior in certain areas. Stealth, for instance, is not the habitual forte of a creature who 'grew up' storming the enemy's decks from the eye of the wind, cutting bloody crosses into Ottomans, tying their screaming comrades to a mast, soaking bread with their blood. And that was before he was Embraced. The Mekhets prefer a subtler approach, one that might truly be more terrifying than his own savage forthrightness. And if Muse has seen his dreams, has walked the decks of those enemy ships, she knows that even in life Nikola enjoyed that bloody action just a little too much for the comfort of his crewmates. If she has walked his dreams, has participated in his nightmares, she would have seen the vivid glee as he swept up over an enemy's rails. Monster, indeed -- and a thousand deadly sins hidden behind the smile that he now turns on Muse. He kicks off his flip-flops as she removes her boots, half-turning to face her on the couch more comfortably. "Walking on the river-bottom, Muse... Imagine your hand closing around an unsuspecting ankle. Pulling them down into the murk with you. Down where the most ancient predators wait. Imagine their screams turning to bubbles. Their friends searching, calling out, the sound echoing down into the depths..." He trails off, subsiding with another sip of Vitae. "It's rather special. We could skip the movie."

When Muse turns her attention onto him, discarding her fascination with the modern movie world for a more sensitive topic, Nikola meets her gaze steadily. Gazing at her gold-flecked eyes with his own dark ones, the Ventrue opens his mouth to answer, fanged teeth evident as his lip curls back. But he hesitates, closing it again as he thinks. When he speaks next, there is a hesitant note, almost embarrassed. "I'm always a touch lonely," he admits. He sits quietly, unnaturally still -- or so it would seem to a Mortal, used to the subconscious rhythm of breath. But her next question seems to stymie him for a moment, a single furrow creasing his brow. "I suppose I'm lonely for you. For the Coterie." The admission doesn't seem to discomfit the strange creature. He speaks with a frank bluntness that implies a certain degree of courage. "I grew unused to having a true crew, over the centuries. It's remarkable how quickly I have come to depend on the company of those who understand me."

And then the subject changes again, to a subject a touch less...esoteric. A vampire's emotional state, the constant battle against ennui, is one thing. A mysterious murder spree is quite another. Something you can literally sink your teeth into. "Interesting question," he responds affably, "About their faith." It's as though the mask is suddenly slapped back into place, pressed tightly to his face. He comes to Unlife before Muse's eyes, his smile sharp and wicked. "Personally, I think we ought to go and investigate the nunnery immediately. But Seth pretended not to hear me when I suggested it. So I suppose he's forbidden us both." There is a hint of amusement in his voice, matching the hint of poutiness in Muse's. His gaze drops to her lower lip for a moment, a wicked glint apparent in his dark eyes. But he doesn't tease her about it. Yet. "I like the thought about the blood, too. That's a notion that I don't think anyone else has explored yet." Nikola considers for a few beats, considering the question gravely before shaking his head. "Not a creature specifically, no. But I can think of a number of religions that depend upon blood as a catalyst. Did he tell you about the footprint we found? It showed signs of Celerity, or a similar effect. Very, very, fast-moving."


"I think you've perhaps forgotten the actual implication intended for 'gettin' a girl wet', Cap'n." opines the Mekhet, in that airy tone that blatantly warns, too late, of the sarcasm to lace her words. "But I shan't lie, that does sound awful amusin'. Just.. perhaps not in this shirt." She indicates the scandalously sheer fabric with an absent-minded gesture of her free hand and a twist of her lips in a smirk. Returning to her thoughtful consideration of her companion, the brunette is quiet for a long moment in the wake of his description. "..you miss it, don't you. The thrill of sweeping over enemy rails." It's not a question. It's a dreamy, soft-spoken fact. One that she appears to pluck from the ether. Well, could be a lucky guess. It's not as though Niko takes any pains to hide his true nature. He, as she, prefers to revel in it more often than not. Speaking of..

There's the fleeting hint of motion, a subtle stirring of the salt air within the cabin, a fractional jolt of motion to the couch. And then Muse is simply seated beside her coterie-mate, rather than in the distant armchair; wine-glass still in hand for a genteel sip, legs now flung comfortably over the arm of this furnishing and her shoulder pressed lightly back against Niko's upper arm. "How can you be lonely for us? We're right here." she points out, even as she offers, without hesitation, the comfort of proximity. Or so he can assume it to be. Her speed might well be off-putting to those not assured of their safety around her. Once again licking her lips free of the sanguine traces of vitae, the brunette glances up and aside to the Venture, a blithe smile upon her sweet features.

When the conversation moves onward, as they are wont, the Mekhet serenely keeps pace, returning her focus to the tv screen as the new Lestat introduces himself to his new friends. "He's pretty." The remark is offhand. "And if Seth forbids us both, there is good reason for it. Whatever this creature is, he is of the opinion that fighting it in close quarters would be unwise.. and I'm inclined to agree. Gather some cannon-fodder first, at the very least." Yes, she's allowed to pout about it. She'll still support their de-facto leader, insofar as Carthians can tolerate such, even in his absence. And especially when, alas, he is right. Which is most of the time. "Celerity or something like it.." This is pointed out gently. "I'm not convinced our culprit is Kindred at all. Not yet. What reason would one of our own have for decapitation..?" She presses at a sharp canine with her tongue, punctuating her point as it were. "Or for etching little caskets, for that matter? Bah, who knows. We haven't enough to go on yet. But now that the two of you are 'officially' appointed.." The smirk is apparent in her tone, even if he fails to note it upon her lips. "..that should change."


"Oh, believe me, my deadly little slaughtrix, I haven't forgotten. I rather think I can serve up two birds with one well-placed slingstone." Nikola smiles aside at the Mekhet, as blithely unbothered by her sarcasm as she herself. The amusement continues to glint in his eye. "I have T-shirts in those cabinets, though I was intending to go a little more bare." And there doesn't seem to be any sexual connotation in the suggestion -- merely a practical notion, tossed out as easily as an observation on the weather. "The tide is right, as well -- it will carry us closer to the more populated areas without our having to work." Of course he would know about the Mississippi's tides without even looking at a chart. No doubt the Rotgrafen can sense the shifts of the moon. When she shifts topics, Nikola grows a touch more serious, the amusement fading. "I do miss it," he says, a little more softly. "Their fear, when they saw me off their bows -- eating the wind right out of their sails -- oh, Muse. There will never be anything like the thrill of peeling away your enemy's hope layer by layer." As she knows full well, and not just from his own dreams.

And suddenly -- in literally less than a blink -- Muse is alongside him, curling up against him. He smiles, his arm resuming its drape over the back of the couch, not quite touching her. She can lean against him at her will, but Nikola is entirely aware of her dislike of being touched -- he doesn't force the contact. It's a strangely deft gesture from a man whose self-professed joy is exploring the pain, emotional and physical, of his playthings. He watches Muse lick her lips, contemplating her question with a gravity that belies his habitual smile. "You are right now," he concurs after a few moments. And then he grins, wicked and dark, lowering his head to gaze at Muse from beneath his eyebrows. "Anyway, my fears of redundancy are irrelevant to the subject at hand. New-Lestat is far superior, don't you think?"

And then they're back to the more serious subject at hand. "I know that he has the right of it. If this is a creature we haven't anticipated, stumbling in blindly might be dangerous. Even for us." Man, that must really chafe for him to have to admit. "As for the cannon fodder -- I have some really talented muscle on call. We could probably stack the nunnery with meals." He scratches at his temple with an index finger, considering the next point. "I don't know that it's Kindred, necessarily. There are certainly other possibilities. Perhaps one of the Lost? I met their Primogen the other night." A beat passes. "Fascinating creature. So submerged in her own pain." Deliberately, he licks his lips before taking another sip of his own Vitae. "And now that we're Hounds, I expect our beloved Sheriff will hand over all the evidence immediately. He cannot be too interested in the case, or he'd have.. you know.. solved it." As easy as that, right? Right.


Ahh, but there it is. Muse is no plaything. Nor does she apparently have any intention of hurling herself into the Mississippi to satisfy Niko's whim. Well, not right now, anyway. So says the long-suffering, blatantly sardonic look she levels upon him as he idly makes mention of available t-shirts as alternative attire. Raising her free hand, the waifish brunette counts off on her fingers. "Movie. Hunt. Then play, Pirate." Yes, his reminiscence on the joys of terrorising the high seas are well met; she never pretends ignorance of just who and what Niko is, anymore than she disguises her occasional lapse into the sort of command only a society darling would believe herself entitled to. Habits. Days gone by. A splitsecond later and it's dismissed, replaced with an amused upward quirk of one brow before she draws her gaze at last away from her coterie mate and back to the tv screen. "Ohh.. so you miss us when we're gone." A satisfied nod implies she finds this perfectly reasonable, even if it's not a trait they share. Is in intended to irk him, this casual disregard of his formidable nature? Or does she obligingly play along with the jester as he dances through the endless nights?

"Superior? Mmm." The Mekhet shakes her head after a moment of serious contemplation. "No. Prettier. But not superior. Look, he's whining already." Well, perhaps she herself would find complaint in her Embrace and the circumstances thereof.. if only she could recall them. Much of her energy goes into the avoidance of that very thing. Introspection simply isn't worth the nightmares.. or daymares.. in her humble opinion. Is that why the fae Shadow seems suddenly restless, shifting her weight and fidgeting with her wine glass when before there had been only tranquil stillness? She quiets herself - and her ponderings - with a sip of vitae.

Then it's on to the matter of just what manner of creature they may be tasked with overpowering.. and the mention of Niko's encounter with one of the Lost. "I've always imagined them to be somewhat melancholy.. that or tricksy. But I expect if anyone can charm them into bein' reasonable, it's you." Well, he is a Ventrue. She and Seth have their own airs and graces, but nothing quite beats the self-proclaimed Lords when it comes to seeing their will done. Far be it from her to proclaim otherwise. With her attention rapt upon the moving pictures, their reflection gleaming across the surface of those heavy-lidded eyes, Muse traces a fingertip around the rim of her glass idly, lapsing into further thought. "And you assume the Sheriff has any evidence to give. He's barely been appointed any longer than you two. And frankly, he didn't exactly seem keen to 'sink his teeth' into the case, from what I could gather. Then again, maybe he just couldn't follow my simple Southern charms to where I was tryin' to lead." Tilting her head, the brunette halts to regard the shirtless 'vampire' on screen. "..do you intend to sleep mostly here now, Niko?" It's an abrupt swerve in the discussion.. and with a disarming, plainitive note within that sweetly-accented voice.


Ah, well. No swimming tonight -- a shame, really. Cool water and darkness, the mysteries of a river which flows so quickly that its banks, its bars, and its eddies all shift from year to year. The sort of challenge that a raider like Nikola must cherish -- and it must be said that he has adapted quite nicely over the centuries, from ship-borne to ship-optional. But he bears up well when Muse lays down the law. He could argue, could perhaps even win the argument -- he is a Ventrue, after all, though never a Lord even in his own thoughts -- but... why bother? The movie was his idea, after all. And so was the hunt, come to that. Perhaps he is simply dangling options in front of Muse, baiting her to see which shiny object she will seize first. "I feel lonely because occasionally, I feel as though I am the outsider pressing his nose to the glass. And, yes, I miss you when we are separated." He answers Muse without shame, shrugging subtly and sipping from his own glass of Vitae.

"All these television Kindred are whiners," the bearded Ventrue notes, his tone lightening as Muse turns her attention back to the film for now. He gazes at the screen thoughtfully, watching Lestat with a slight cant to his head. "But if I recall correctly, he does tend to grow in this film. Become a touch more at home with the modern world." A glance aside at Muse, a hint of knowing alertness in his gaze as he feels her shift against him. Just for a moment, the palm of his hand touches her shoulder, then withdraws to the back of the couch.

"Mingzhu was a touch melancholy under the guise," he acknowledges thoughtfully. "And quite sensitive about whatever the True Fae -- the Gentry, they call them -- did to her. I think it's a soft spot." There is a trace of satisfaction in the creature's voice. Just for a moment, his Beast lifts its head and smiles at Muse's, its own satisfaction evident. Not every hunt needs to result in Vitae, after all. "Sometimes," continues Nikola, "It is quite pleasant to press into the soft spots and see what bubbles up. She warned me not to continue my inquiries into her own servitude." He smiles at Muse then, features suddenly as monstrous as the sensation of his Beast, fangs glinting in the dim light. "I wonder if she meant to paint such a vivid target for me. She warned me that all the Lost share this particular nerve." But the subject is shifting slightly to the Sheriff, and he nods his head. "Lord Malcolm," he says in a deceptively gentle voice, "Wants to ennoble us all. Make us good people." His expression is opaque, but his eyes glitter wickedly as he speaks. "Bizarre murders must seem quite beside the point to His Grace. Regardless, we'll take whatever scraps of information he has bothered to collect during his short tenure."

Muse's final question seems to take Nikola off-guard. He glances at her, peering down at her features for a long few moments before answering. "I could stay here," he says slowly. "So could you, if you like. Not in this room, if it is objectionable. There are others suitable for us. But if it troubles you, Muse, I can also return to the plantation most evenings. Is that what you would prefer?"


Can she somehow sense the bitten-back protest? It's not as though the svelte Mekhet rules with an iron fist, if indeed she rules at all.. and to be perfectly honest, she's quite evidently relished the few occasions in which she and Niko have had cause to go toe to toe. They've surprisingly similar Beasts, in many ways, which might surprise most of their kind.. that idle reverence for and unabashed joy in the hunt, the layers of playful indifference draping the silhouette of a nightmarish entity beneath. All Kindred have their wiles, of course.. but there's enough Majesty in the Shadow and just enough 'joie de mort' in the Ventrue that they coexist as indulgent connoisseurs of debauchery. Particularly when the eyes of the Praxis are not upon them. Muse in particular finds maintaining her innocuous guise increasingly frustrating as the coterie are forced into 'polite society' in order to find the means to their ends. Regardless. The carrot and stick approach to tempting her whims, which are barely leashed at any given moment as it is, provokes a belated response. A compromise, even. "Isn't it a little late for the kine to be swimming..?" Her head tilts a touch, silently betraying her return to contemplation, silhouetted in the dancing light of the television. "Unless perhaps we stumble upon some amorous sorts even less properly attired for the occasion.." Skinny dippers? Well.. yeah, maybe. That notion seems to amuse her.

Ignoring the momentary brush of contact - which is actually a compliment, if one stops to consider it properly - the fae brunette at last abandons any pretense of continued interest in the movie, seeming bored as the titular anti-hero refrains from snapping the neck of the feisty American pestering him. Shifting her fragile weight, she seats herself cross-legged on the couch and turns to better face her companion. "You think I'm reluctant to become acquainted with the modern world?" A reproving 'tsk' is offered in obvious jest, her lips sardonic. "I arguably walk it more easily than you." Given that she can quite literally drift through the crowds of the streets without notice, compared to the predatory appeal of the towering Ventrue, that's a rather unfair comparison. But baiting him is one of unlife's readily available sources of entertainment.. and the glimmer of sharp canines as he mulls over the potential infliction of suffering upon another rouses her interest still further. "Hunting has become so.. clinical, for want of a better phrase. Borders on borin', far as I can see." The Mekhet's own Beast is unperturbed by the other in close proximity, stirring only as the prospect of something stronger, sweeter than the concoction in her wine glass. "When's the last time any of us took our time to savor it.."

Torture? The drawing out of the kill. No, Muse doesn't pretend any remorse over her nature, nor has she ever shied away from the intoxicating, sadistic savagery of her coterie-mates. Dark delights are not to be denied.. and her own tastes have occasionally flirted with the already blurred line of sanity. Indeed, a slow curve begins to play across her lips at the thought, fangs lazily extending until they indent the lower. Alas, the mention of the Lord elicits a curve of that cupid's bow in distaste. Having found herself leaning toward Niko, braced on one knee, the Mekhet now withdraws, shaking her head with a soft snort, as if genuinely recoiling from a displeasing scent. "I don't want to be good." The retort is unthinking.. but just for a moment one can clearly imagine the young lady she once was. All that's missing is a petulant stamp of a foot. Quite horrific, when one considers the thing she has become...

"The Hell with this. Let's go." Setting the wine glass on the coffee table, the brunette rises without further ado, striding purposefully toward the windows; gaze out upon those dark waters with a telling hunger smouldering in their depths. Great. He's gone and got her blood up. So to speak. "You can stay wherever you desire, Niko." There's an edge of impatience lacing her sweet tone. "It's just easier for all of us to stay.. close.. when we sleep in the same area. It's of no concern." Dismissive. She has more pressing matters in mind, now.. and those intentions radiate from her like a coiled serpent.


On the surface of things, Muse is a hard creature to read -- deceptive innocence, belied by the wicked gleam in those gold-flecked irises. But Nikola has an unfair advantage. After all, he has known her since her most recent 'rebirth.' And just as importantly, his Beast has inhaled her scent, drawn her into him, tasted her nature just as she has tasted his. He knows exactly what lurks beneath those layers of playful innocence. 'Joie de mort,' indeed. At her question, Nikola raises his eyebrows slowly. He smiles a wicked, fanged, smile. "You know that there are young couples in that despicable little community down the way, don't you?" His grin widens. "Paint this particular portrait, my dear... A lovely young woman, naked, treading water as she coaxes her adoring boyfriend out of his blue jeans. Her breasts bobbing just beneath the surface, she teases him until he finally enters the water. And as he performs a sidestroke, preparatory to a breast stroke..." With sudden speed, he reaches out and grabs at an imaginary ankle, yanking downward. Gaze twinkling, he begins to hum the iconic Jaws tune.

As Muse shifts to face him more fully, he mirrors the movement, turning and folding his legs beneath himself. As she baits him, the Ventrue draws himself up, ready to dive into the debate. "Come now," he says mildly, "While your understanding of modern dress sense is certainly superior to my own, I have an edge that you fail to fully grasp." He waits a few beats, his lips quirking upward once more. "Unlike some, Muse, I know how to Tweet. In fact, I've been meaning to show that platform to you." But as the brunette moves on to the topic of Hunting, and the rather disappointing medium that it has become, Nikola drops his teasing. There is an answering eagerness, even a thrill, rising from the man as she asks her hypothetical. "It's been since I arrived here that I really had a whole night to just...play," he answers.

Savagery, in all its forms, awakens a lust in Nikola, as Muse knows very well. Though apparently, by his own admission, he has not had the chance to truly indulge his artistic temperament since meeting Muse. In five centuries of life, what exotic tastes have developed and been discarded? How many different paths of debauchery has Nikola walked down, attempting to keep himself engaged with the world around him? But as Muse leans backward in distaste, Nikola gazes avidly at the visceral reaction. His pupils dilate as he takes in her disgust, her petulance. When he speaks, his voice is smooth, almost sultry. "Don't worry, Muse. I won't ever ask you to be good. I am eagerly anticipating my opportunity to educate our Mal on the realities of who we are."

She suddenly rises to her feet, and he grins in sharp triumph. Leaning forward to grab the remote, he turns off the television and tosses back his Vitae. Rising to his feet, the tall Ventrue tugs off his shirt as he walks toward the window after Muse. Though his pace is controlled, there is a wild eagerness rising off his Beast, like the musky scent of a tiger. His blood, too, has been aroused. "I'll stay with you," he promises softly as he touches the edge of the window. "Are you ready to see my world?"