Logs:Museum of Art Patron Holiday Gala

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Museum of Art Patron Holiday Gala


Characters: Odile, Hudson, Marshall and Louis, who is also ST
Date: 2019-11-24
Summary: The New Orleans Museum of Art holds a holiday gala for all of its discerning wealthy patrons, but weirdness happens when one of the hired bartenders attempts to sacrifice an appendage to one of the stone figures in the exhibit.
Disclaimers: {{{disclaimers}}}

The theme of the night is Snowflakes and Satin. Projected on the imposing stone front of the Museum are snowflakes in a variety of colors and artistic styles, while slick, satin curtains billow at the entrance, embroidered with the names of top Museum donors. Inside, the stark white lobby has been transformed with ribbons and hangings in holiday colors: silver, gold, crimson, and hunter green. The two sweeping staircases to either side, and the doorways to the galleries, are flanked by docents in museum jackets - not to guard these entrances, but to serve as tour guides for donor groups who wish to explore the collections with help. They are also on hand to provide earbuds and show independent explorers how to download the museums tour app. There IS security, mostly at the front doors, and several of the higher level officials of the police force are here in dress uniforms.

The company is glittering. Three piece suits and tuxedos are the order of the day for men, while women are in full length dresses of every color and style, with thousands of dollars of jewels on almost every one. Black-clad-and-gloved servers carry silver trays of drinks and canapes to and fro, and theres a carving station and buffet table in a side room for those who seek something a little more substantial. A five-piece classical musical group is playing instrumental holiday music and although there is technically a space cleared for dancing, the politicians, business moguls, and other notable figures are much more concerned with talking and networking than with cutting any rugs. The room is already quite full, and only likely to get more so during the night, the murmur of conversations forming a more constant background noise than the music.

--

Louis is already here; he tends to eschew the concept of 'fashionably late' for 'helpfully early', or at least 'respectfully on time'. He's wearing a formal tuxedo, complete with gloves and green satin cumberbund, and a sharp black bowtie. He's not alone; an attractive woman in her late twenties with her hair done in neat cornrows, in a dark green silk dress is on his arm, but curiously enough, although the two exchange pleasant conversation, the woman just gives him a light kiss on the cheek and disappears into the crowd, her expression downright gleeful. She almost bumps into one of the waitstaff in her eagerness, and the two do the 'which way you going' dance until she finally slips by and heads off. Louis watches this with great amusement.

--

One of the good things about events like these is that they are usually happy enough to hire on some extra temp staff to help out with running things. Hudson is an especially fresh-faced addition to the crowd, who strictly speaking should probably not be involved in serving drinks. But here he is anyway, positioned near the main entrance with a tray filled with glasses of Champagne, which he offers to each new arrival with a winning smile. The smile is probably needed to make up for the fact that he only had half an afternoon of training for the job and that there is about as much champagne on the tray as in the glasses already. Still, he seems eager!

--

She is neither a politician, business mogul, or notable figure, but what she is may be more relevant to the present surroundings than what is actually known about her, at least for the moment. If ever asked, she would be the first to opine that Odile Devereux is a dedicated patron of the arts; at least, this evening, she is determined to put her money where her mouth is.

In spite of the hall's festive trappings, she hasn't shied from her preference for neutral palettes. Black satin swathes her slender figure in a custom black Alaia - all the more valuable now considering the legendary designer's death around two years ago, and while modest in cut, follows every long, sleek line and flaring curve of her in a hug that borders of sheer, unmitigated jealousy. It's sleeveless, and paired with matching black stilettos with heels high enough to make dancing a challenge, and thin enough to stab through an unfortunate partner's femoral in the doing. Overall, it's the perfect canvas for what an elegant alabaster neck and shoulders showcase today - diamonds frost the hollow of her throat, alternated now and then by rubies. A similar cuff encircles her dainty left wrist.

She is never without a hat, even indoors, wide-brimmed that tilts up in a curling slope, and pulled low enough to obscure most of her face and leave it in shadow, leaving only the point of her chin and lips painted with bold red lacquer visible. She moves through the doors with her coat draped over her shoulders, smiling when she finds the welcome committee. "I don't know you," she tells Hudson with her faint accent - French, distinctly Parisian to any locals. "Do you have anything other than bubbly?" She doesn't drink white wine of any stripe.

Her head tilts - she easily finds Louis in the crowd, and wiggles her fingers in that direction.

--

Louis has paused to chat with a dignified, gray-haired man and his wife, speaking lightly of topics like jazz and how lovely it all is this evening, and how important it is to support the arts. He catches Odile's finger wiggle out of the corner of his eyes, and murmurs to them, "Councilman, it has been a pleasure, as always. I hope to see you and Ellen at Salome for our Holiday event. I've engaged a magnificent pianist. For now, I'll leave you to enjoy yourselves." He flashes a smile, and wanders over towards Odile, his eyes widening as he sees who - or perhaps what - she's standing with. The lights under his skin bubble and flare, spilling rainbow tear patterns where his skin is visible. "Odile," he says, warmly, "don't tell me you're harassing this fellow." A smile towards Hudson. "Mind if I--?" a wave towards the champagne. Hudson looked at you.

--

"Oh...err..." Hudson looks a little confused when Odile asks after what else they might have, not least because Odile is some FREAKY-OMFG-WHAT-THE-HeLL-IS-THAT smokebeast. Dark eyes widen, then blink once, and then again, the hair on the back of the young Irakka's neck standing on end as he is confronted with the sudden onslaught of weirdness. "Right...I can go ask." a long pause "What do you like?" he asks. Several seconds go by before he adds "Err...ma'am" with the awkward inflection of one not used to using the word. That rabbit in the headlight expression only intensifies with the sudden arrival of Louis.

--

"I'll have you know, dear Louis, that I never harass, I cajole." The woman might even have a sixth sense as to where the hired help is, because she doesn't even look at the uniformed person moving near her, slipping her coat off and hand it off in that direction. All of her attention, at the moment, is on her friend, a familiar envy rising from somewhere within her when she espies those brilliant auroras of color whirl over his mien. But the man is a friend, and earns from her gems of her affection that she rarely bestows to anyone in public. Lips purse in the air by his cheek; cinnamon and citrus subtly lace her skin. "How many new friends have you made this evening? Have you taken a look at the exhibits, yet? What should I shameless covet first?"

If she notices that Hudson is a werewolf, she doesn't show it. In fact, Odile practically basks at his derailment - as if something to be savored and fed upon. Her scarlet mouth pulls higher on the corners, a hint of her teeth visible past the seam. She even shifts, leaning closer to the young Irraka as she simply observes him - the silence lasting a touch too long. Finally, she speaks, "Pinot Noir, if you have it. And if you do not, kindly inform me so I can give the event organizer a piece of my mind." After all, what formal function doesn't offer red wine to go along with white? It's protocol!

--

Louis returns the air kiss with one of his own, his expression indulgent. "Oh, just a couple. I might lose them, for that matter - my dear companion was planning to ask a local business owner about his racist practices. If she's able to get close to him, it should be /vastly/ entertaining." A pause. "From a distance." He grins as he studies Hudson. "It's alright," he tells him, leaning forward to make it a stage whisper as he plucks a glass from the tray, "we don't bite." A longer, more contemplative silence. "I don't, anyway. I probably shouldn't speak for Odile. I'm Louis." He lifts his glass in a toast.

--

"Pee-no nuh-wah" Hudson sounds the words out in response, eyeing the strange creatures warily. There's sort of a nervous glance about the rest of the area, as tohugh he is suddenly expecting the place to be infested with these strange whatever-they-are's, though he seems relieved to find that Louis and Odile are the only ones apparent, with neither presenting an immediate threat. "I can...err, I'll go ask" he responds, another small pause before he adds "Ma'am and Sir" before turning and scurrying aay in the direction of the bar as quickly as he can without completely spilling the remainder of his tray of drinks.

The bar is busy with servers going in and out, although it takes only a question to one of the caterers to discover that yes, they do have Pinot Noir, and a glass of it is made available. There's a slightly odd thing, though - at the other length at the bar, another young server, introduced at training with Hudson as Josh, is chopping lemon slices for cocktails. Except that there's an odd, vacant look in his eyes, and that nicely sharp knife is rising over his pinky finger. No one else seems to notice, because they have work to do.

--

"Your dear companion? Do I know her?" It matters little if the hat is in the way, those around her would sense the distinct impression of a brow arching imperiously. "Still, if there's entertainment to be had, point me in the right direction, please." No comment on racist practices, though her mouth takes on a curious bent, silently prodding her companion for an answer. "Though I'm very fond of your attempt to derail me from my last question. Is this your subtle way of telling me to 'stay good'?"

There's nary a blink or returned tension when Hudson demonstrates his wariness; his continued apprehension seems to sustain Odile somehow when the more worried he becomes, the more satisfied she gets. "Please do. Ask," she tells him, watching him scurry off hurriedly. There's a slight lean, murmuring to her fellow Changeling. "His neverousness is adorable," she teases. "Can we keep him?" There's mischief in her, plainly evident, making it difficult to tell whether she's serious. There's always equal odds, either way.

--

"You know I don't deal in art," Louis points out, another deflection - so the answer to her question is probably 'yes'. He grins at her. "And you don't. She works for the Louisiana Weekly. She wanted to come, so..." A light shrug. "Lovely woman." Who now owes him a favor. As she murmurs low, he chuckles, and returns in the same soft voice, "If he follows you home, I won't tell." A sip of his drink. "I advise against it, though."

--

Spotting Josh across the way, Hudson's eyes widen when he realises the other guy is about to slice off his pinky finger. "Dude!" Hudson calls across, setting his tray down on the counter. Hudson's voice rises into a more insistent "DUDE!" when he notices the oddly glazed look in his coworkers eyes. Nimbly avoiding tripping over the barstool, Hudson races around the bar to try and snap the other guy out of it before the poor guy slices into his finger.

--

Josh jerks in place as heads turn at the Dudes - the knife wobbles in his hand, starts to fall - and then Hudson is there, and is able to divert it from the guy's finger. Josh blinks at him a couple of times, blankly. "Hey. Man. What are you doing? I was just cutting some lemons." He sounds sleepy, like he'd dozed off.

The caterer clears her throat. "Gentlemen? Is there a problem here?" She doesn't seem to know whether to frown at Josh or Hudson, so they're both getting a helping.

--

"A pity. But worry not, I deal with enough art for the both of us," Odile tells him, that brilliant razor's-edged smile growing further, framed by the shadows cast by her hat. The words are playful, but indicative of an underlying meaning. "But as always, you're ever so charming. If something so entertaining does occur, I'll have you to thank." She turns her head to regard the young man as he ventures towards the bar. "As for the pup following me home, you know better than that." A brief flash of those lightning-blue eyes as she laughs. "I prefer to do the following, but thankfully for everyone involved, I wasn't serious."

Darklings. You really can't take them anywhere.

The commotion by the bar isn't lost on her. "Something tells me that my wine might be a lost cause," she observes.

--

There's a noise from Louis. The kind of noise that says I know you do in regards to her dealing with art, but Louis' smile never falters. "It's easy to be charming when in close proximity to such a fountain of charm as yourself, Odile." He has no shame when it comes to using the over the top flattery, but the shout at the bar draws his attention as well.

"Mm. Shall we inquire? An evening without a decent glass of wine would be a tragedy." He offers his arm to escort her in the direction of the bar, with a playful sort of flourish.

--

"Dude you were about to cut your finger off!" Hudson explains to the dazed-looking Josh, pointing out the other server's finger and the knife he had in hand with a concerned sort of frown. All seems to be going well until the uppity looking caterer is on the scene, frowning at them both. "Oh, err....nothing boss..." Hudson responds awkwardly, lifting a hand to rub at the baack of his neck with a nervous laugh. There's a sharp inhalation as the young wold draws air through his teeth and he tries to duck out the way explaining "Errr...Mrs freaky-deaky needs her peanut noir..." with a bashful sort of look.

--

"Why would I cut my finger off?" Josh asks, with a puzzled frown at Hudson.

The caterer's stony gaze settles on Josh. "Are you on drugs, young man? We made the requirements clear."

"No! I haven't smoked all daaaaaa, I mean, never. I never do drugs," Josh self-corrects hastily.

The caterer rolls her eyes, and reaches out to practically snatch the knife from his hand. "Switch with Orlando, serve one of the trays." Under her breath, she adds, "...have to do drug tests next time..."

Hudson gets a grumpy look. "Don't call guests freaky. And it is /pinot noir/. I swear to God--" luckily, she's interrupted by the crash of someone dropping a glass. She casts her eyes to heaven and bustles off.

--

"Oh, my darling. If all it takes is to be a charm vampire, it's a pity I hadn't stumbled onto your secret a decade ago. It would've made my life infinitely easier." Odile's bright laughter escapes her then, before curling her pale fingers on Louis' offered elbow. "Let's," she tells him with a sigh. "Really, my dear, isn't this so typical? If you want something done..."

Her voice trails off; dangerous heels click in the direction of the bar, hidden eyes bouncing off its details. And while her senses are acute, she thankfully misses because called a Missus.

--

"Careful," Louis murmurs to Odile, "that line of thinking ends with you taking up one of those trays and trying your hand at serving for the evening. It might do you a little good." He waggles his eyebrows at her, but his attention turns more thoughtful as they approach the bar and watch Josh stomp off resentfully with his tray. Louis takes a sip of his glass, and tilts his head towards Hudson. "Something wrong, Mr...I don't think I caught your name?"

--

Hudson grumbles to himself when he doesn't even get a thank you from Josh and the caterer gets all snippy at him, making his way back in the direction of his discarded tray with a briefly sullen look. He's just turning to try and locate Odile when he sees her approaching the bar with a very 'can I speak to your manager?' sort of look that draws a slight groan. Hopefully he manages to look as though he is -just- on his way back with Odile's glass by the time she arrives. "Your pinuhsoir, ma'am" Hudson offers Odile the glass with his most dashing of smiles! He flashes teeth! There are dimples! How could you be snippy at such a smile! Right? Right?!

--

Another light laugh, and a wicked smile angled Louis' way. "I may have to remind you, one day, that I'm not above anything." If it's a threat, it's playfully made. Odile's perfectly manicured fingers squeeze his arm gently up until they end up at the bar, with her companion already inquiring after the young pup's name. She says little, for now, watching the head caterer's exeunt with the detached interest so perfected by indolent socialites everywhere, before her attention is captured by the put-upon young werewolf again.

That smile, those dimples! Graceful fingers from her free hand catch the offered glass. "Merci," is all she says, something humored and amused playing over the visible scarlet line of her mouth, curving up further. "My dear Louis was curious as to who you are," she reminds. "I am Odile. I would have given a proper introduction earlier, but the wine got in the way." That visible good humor grows. "As it always does."

--

Louis only laughs, and gives Odile a cheerful little wink. He also follows the caterer's departure, although it's with more than a touch of sympathy. "Organizing an event like this and making sure that it goes as smoothly as possible is a bit of a nightmare," he says, quietly, and a shadow passes over his features for a moment. At least, until the glass is handed over to Odile, which causes him to refocus. "Oh, he doesn't have to share if he'd prefer not. But I was curious about the shouting. Are you alright?"

--

"Oh..." it takes a second for Hudson to figure out what Louis was referring to, at which point he laughs a little and gestures to the half chopped lemon on the counter. "One of the guys was stoned and nearly sliced his finger off..." Hudson explains with a laugh. He seems a little more at ease once Odile has got her drink, and though he isn't really paid to stand around, the caterer is nowhere to be seen for the timebeing, so he pauses to introduce himself. "Hudson Jones. Hud." with a touch of the hand that isn't holding a tray to his chest. There's still a slight wariness as he considers the two rather strange figures in front of him, though he seems less obviously on edge, at least for the moment.

--

Mention of drug use in the function does inspire the return of Odile's huffy imperiousness. "Really." The single word brings with it mild disbelief and exasperation, though the shadows that perpetuate itself on Louis' expressive features gives her pause before she can opine on it further. She must know the root of it, or at the very least, some idea as to the cause, because her fingers gently squeeze his arm. It's warm. but also very brief - as if reluctant to introduce to the public air that she could be sympathetic when she wants to be.

"Mister Jones." Introduction taken in stride, the woman's smile returns full-flush. "Well met. I have to say I'm somewhat heartened by the idea that common sense and decency seem to have prevailed on that end."

--

"Hud, a pleasure." Louis seems to mean it - his smile is sunny, and radiates gold and red lights from it in brief ripples under his skin. He doesn't seem as exasperated as Odile about the drug use, only laughs, and shakes his head. "That's always a danger; it's a boring job," he admits. "I'm inclined to--" his gaze had shifted towards the lemon station and he pauses, looking puzzled. "Where'd the knife go?" he asks, idly.

It's not at the station. And the caterer can be seen snarking at the server who dropped the glasses, and although she certainly took the knife, she doesn't have it any more.

It's probably fine.

--

"Yeah...sure..." Hudson responds with a nervous chuckle when Odile and Louis introduce themselves, the young wold not used to making conversation with the rich and famous and especially not used to -- whatever the hell Louis and Odile are. Conversation is cut short by Louis remarking on the disappearance of the knife, however, and Hudson's brow furrows with concern when he spots it's gone. "Something doesn't smell right about that" Hudson says immediately, eyes darting this way and that as he looks for whatever happened to Josh. Looking back to Odile and Louis, Hudson explains. "Josh was really out of it while he was chopping those lemons. I want to look for him."

--

On first glance, Josh doesn't seem to be around. However, the gala is a crush, and all the serving staff are dressed similarly, so it's hard to make out one man in the crowd. He might be just behind that knot of state representatives, or that cluster of art pieces. Louis frowns. "You think the young man might hurt himself?" It's the first thing all evening he's sounded like he disapproves of. He finishes off his glass of champagne, and places it on the bar top. "We can come along and help out, if needed." It's not /quite/ a suggestion. More a politely worded statement of intent, with a cheerful undercurrent of certainty that poor Hudson wants the help.

As they look more closely, both Odile and Hudson spot a flash of a server's outfit disappearing into one of the doorways leading to the less occupied galleries. In his hand, Hudson notices the flash of a knife, and no tray at all.

--

'We'? "Oh, I suppose," Odile remarks cheerfully; for all of her designer threads and killer heels, she looks more a liability than an asset in whatever dangers the gala might hold, considering the missing knife. Hidden eyes sweep over the crowd, spying the uniform that darts through the crowd only to vanish into one of the doorways. "Oh, Louis. This city is more interesting than I remember." She nods towards where the figure had disappeared.

--

"....sure" Hudson nods to the offer-not-offer of help from Louis and Odile, though he's not really focussing on them much. Keen eyes scan the crowd, and those observing closely may even observe a twitch of hud's nostril as he scents the air, wolflike. Spotting that figure darting down the hallway with knife in hand, Hudson's brow furrows with concern as he takes off through the crowd in the direction of the doorway Josh has disappeared through. "C'mon" he calls vaguely over his shoulder to Louis and Odile, all thoughts of being 'on duty' suddenly far behind him.

--

"Isn't that a wonderful thing? To be continually surprised even by what you thought you knew?" Louis' reply is absent and thoughtful, most of his attention on Hudson, and then Odile when she nods towards one of the doorways. He sees nothing, but has no reason, apparently, to doubt either of his companions, so he follows along. The caterer sees Hudson, and her eyes narrow. As she starts to storm over, Louis breaks off smoothly, waving the other two on. With his best charming smile, he launches into a recitation of how /very pleased/ he is that this young man agreed to help his friend in need, and he's just escorting her to a quieter powder room, as she is /sensitive/.

--

The docents on the doorway look bored; one is checking his phone, and the other is staring after the canapes tray with longing in her eyes. Past them is a series of collections from Africa and the Middle East. It's a little darker here, with fewer guests. The guests that are here mostly have earbuds in, and are listening to their phones tell them about the exhibits.

Josh can be seen up ahead, moving with purpose.

--

With Louis running interference, Odile doesn't even break her stride; to the observant, the implication is clear enough - this isn't the first time that the two Changelings have worked together. But as Hudson lopes on, the young, determined wolf that she is, his elegant, feminine shadow, while she isn't far behind, walks rather unhurriedly. Her own silhouette follows in her breezy wake, inclining her head and flashing a smile towards those at the doorway. "Monsieur, mademoiselle," she says as she moves on - she, too, attempts to pull their attention, while Hudson moves past.

Stepping into the darker halls of the Middle Eastern and African collections, she pauses to bask in it, shadows faintly reacting to the presence of one of its favorites. "Go on," she tells Hudson softly. "We'll catch up." There's a step or two towards one of the darkest walls of the room, running perpendicular from the straight path that her more youthful companion has towards his coworker.

Once she reaches it, pivoting around, she leans against the darkness, and lets it embrace her. She sinks into it, slivers of pale skin catching the dim light...before she seemingly vanishes completely.

--

Glancing over his shoulder, Hudson's eyes widen as he spots Odile merging into the shadows like that. "What the...." he begins, though his focus soon returns to Josh, who is still a little bit ahead. That frown from before returning, Hudson's top lip peels back slightly, teeth flashing with a snarl as he forgoes propriety altogether and breaks into a full sprint in the direction of his coworker. He's pretty fast! "Josh! Dude!" Hudson calls across the space, weaving between guests and pieces of artwork as he tries to catch the other guy up.

--

It only takes a few moments of bullshit to have the caterer on Louis' side; indeed, she's mostly just happy that a guest isn't making a FUSS, and once she's been sent on her way, he follows with a long-legged stride. Because unlike SOME FANCY SHADOW PEOPLE he has to walk.

Meanwhile, Josh looks back at the sound of his name. He frowns back at Hudson. "Jesus, dude. Leave me alone. I gotta...there's something I gotta do." His eyes unfocus for a moment, and he abruptly turns down a hall and into a large gallery. This gallery is deserted, and it is filled with large stone effigies. The stones are about three feet tall, and carved with representations of long-dead people on their top halves, and strange symbols on their lower. The sign on the hall says 'Ankwanshi Gallery - Ancestors Made Immortal'.

--

Keeping up with Josh fairly easily, Hudson rounds the corner into the strange gallery and glances around with a quiet "Whoa..." at all of the weird stone statues. It's only a momentary pause, before he is back on Josh's tail, calling after him. "Dude, fucking stop. The hell are you doing?" Hudson asks with a mixture of concern and aggravation. "Just at least gimme back the knife or whatever." Hudson frowns, extending his hand out to take it.

--

Hey, Josh stops! Good job. But his grip tightens on the handle of the knife, which still has little bits of lemon pulp and juice clinging to it. He shakes his head, and mumbles something under his breath. More loudly he says, "Nah, man. I need the knife. I'll give it back in just a sec. Chill, okay?" He frowns at one of the exhibits, and steps forward to place his hand on the wall. He raises the knife over his fingers, his expression going fixed and set. Meanwhile, Louis is hurrying to catch up, nearly losing the two when they duck into the gallery. He follows behind, and studies the effigies with interest. Although the sight of Josh and knife provoke a worried, "Oh dear, let's not be hasty here," from him.

--

Hudson, probably unsurprisingly, does not look much put at ease by Josh's assurances. It's not as though the two of them are best friends, they only met this afternoon, but something weird s most definitely up. When Josh looks as though he is about to slice one of his fingers yet again, the frown deepens. "Jeez...what is it with you and fingers dude?" Hudson asks, edging closer and closer to Josh with the intention of trying to either grab the knife or tackle the guy to grab it off of him. "Look, just tell me what's up and we can figure it out" Hudson offers.

--

A tendril of darkness seems to elongate from one cast by the nearest Akwanshi effigies, one that appears marked with details of a warrior. "What do you think, Louis?" He wouldn't see Odile, but he would hear her, as if a patch of darkness had slid close to him along the wall, her voice finding his ear in a low, private whisper. "I'm inclined to let him do what he's about to do if not just to see what this is about. I doubt the poor boy has his wits at the moment to explain it." Unfortunately, Hudson is already on the move, running the risk of depriving her of the demands of her curiosity. There's a quiet sigh.

--

Louis pauses, concentrating. There's a sense of bloom around him, a spectral flower unfolding in his shadow for a moment. "The young man is under some sort of...spell?" he says, with a frown. "Or something. Something wrong." Thanks Louis, no one could tell, what with him trying to cut off his finger and all. "I don't know that this is truly his choice."

Josh is ignoring the weird people chattering in the back, and his back is turned so he can't see the shadows bearing their fruit. Instead, he's totally going to try and cut his pinky off.

Until Hudson tackles him, bearing him to the ground. He's a lightweight, and goes down on the marble floor with a pained OOF! "Getoff! Getoff of me!" He flails. "I gotta. I gotta...let me go!"

--

As far as werweolves go, Hudson is definitely built more for agility than raw strenth, but he manages to overpower Josh and wrestle him to the floor. "Dude! Snap out of it!" Hudson near enough snarls. Not exactly angry, but definitely frustrated, he's pretty caught up in what he's doing and doesn't exactly hear Odile and Louis as they discuss the situation. He's got his hands wrapped around each of Josh's writs as he keeps him pinned to the ground, and he bangs the wrist of the hand holding the knife against the marble flooring a couple of times, trying to get Josh to let go of it.

--

At one of the other Awkwanshi statues, Odile emerges from it, melting from the black veil as if something fluid, but alive. A long leg steps out of it first, peeling herself away from the smoke it leaves behind, obsidian tendrils caressing frame and form until she looms somewhere past the struggling bodies of Hudson and Josh. Hidden eyes burn blue pinpoints as her head angles down to watch, before she shakes her head and turns to look at the exhibit that had caught the boy's attention. Hudson seems to have it well in hand...as expected from a proper werewolf.

"Keep him from harming himself long enough and he should regain his wits, eventually," she tells Hudson. "But I am admittedly guessing - if I am correct, however, you might simply have to sit on him until he ceases fighting you. I don't suppose you know how to break enchantments a little more quickly, Louis?"

She doesn't venture close while the knife is still in play, but she does quietly inspect what Josh had been looking at before he had decided to try and sacrifice his finger to it. Her attention falls on the plaque in an attempt to discern what the piece of art is called, and how old it is.

--

Josh thrashes under Hudson's grip, but the angle is bad, and after a couple of hard bangs on the stone, his hand flops open and the knife comes free. He glares up at Hudson even as he goes limp. "Why are you stopping me? There must be a sacrifice of flesh, and they who sacrifice will be rewarded. You just want it for yourself!" He struggles again, a sudden surge of anger rushing through him before he thumps his head with frustration on the floor. "C'mon, man. Just...just let me go."

The statues are all similar: they are Awkwanshi stones from around what is now Nigeria, dating from between the 14th and 16th centuries. There's a stylized representation of a male face on most of stones - all of them seeming to stare with unblinking disapproval at the four living figures in the room. According to the plaque, they're supposed to represent a memorial for ancestors, and the markings on the lower abdomens have largely not been deciphered, although they may represent ritual scarification, or perhaps one of the many lost languages.

Louis approaches to reach for the knife, and gently move it away from Josh's grasping hand. "Do we know how long that would be? Someone's going to come looking, eventually. Or visit this gallery. This looks awkward."

--

"Dude. Something is up with you. I'm not letting you up until you tell me everything that happened since you got here today." Hudson persists, adjusting his position until he is quite comfortably on top of Josh and will prove difficult to dislodge. "Sorry man..." Hudson does actually look guilty at banging the other guy's hand against the stone floor so hard, but when Josh drops the knife "Hudson casts a glance over his shoulder at Louis and Odile and asks "Can one of you get that?" before looking back to Josh. "I don't think this is on the level man. There's something wrong with you."

--

"Nary a clue, my darling. It depends on too many factors - if he insists upon it, we may simply need to cock a fist back and punch him into submission, then drag him out and pretend he's had too much to drink. It may get him fired, but the alternative may be a lot worse." Those curious eyes draw back to the effigies around the room, marking the similar or same male, stylized face among them. She's unable to help her open curiosity - she belongs in the court she does for a reason.

"Fascinating," Odile murmurs. Moving towards the stone that seemed to capture Josh's attention enough to give up an appendage to it, she reaches out and touches it, leaning to whisper one of her secrets to it. She has to know, must know.

--

Louis picks up the knife and waggles it as he steps away. "I have the weapon," he says, cheerfully, although his expression is uncharacteristically worried. He makes a glance towards the door of the gallery, but they're still alone, for the moment.

Josh reacts...badly to Hudson's attempt to be firm and reasonable. "Nothing's WRONG with me you ASSHOLE!" He explodes into impotent fury underneath the other man, lunging forward with his teeth to snap and try and bite at Hudson's pretty face. "LET ME GO LET ME GO LET ME GO!" he starts to shriek. /That/ is going to travel.

Louis hisses. "Just toss him over your shoulder and let's get out of here," he suggests. "We can dunk him in the reflecting pool or something, see if it sobers him up."

Meanwhile, the stone absorbs the whispers Odile sends it, and reflects its own back - but the vision isn't particularly helpful. Just a generic white guy in expensive clothes frowning at workers as they lift the stone along with several others into straw packed crates. "Don't scratch them," he orders. "Those are irreplacable. You're not." It's probably the guy listed on the plaque, and he's probably a douche.

--

"Jesus fuck..." Hudson responds, barely keeping his oh-so-pretty face out of the reach of Josh's teeth. "Fucking chill dude. You don't wanna see what happens when I bite back." he frowns. A glance is given over Hudson;s shoulder toward the door of the gallery, and then to Louis, at whom Hudson nods in urgent agreement. "Yeah, let's get him outta here..." Hudson nods, struggling to drag Josh to his feet. "Can you guys see a fire exit anywhere?" Hudson asks, glancing between Louis and Odile.

--

"Hnh." Odile reluctantly pulls away from the effigies before turning to Louis and the knife in his hand; there's relief in her aura, though nothing but that blase confidence appears in the visible parts of her expression or her body language. Another turn of that hat-head towards Hudson as he muscles Josh upwards, but his shrieking is starting to become a problem. With Louis keeping an eye out for the entrance, she makes a quiet noise and strides forward. A pale hand and its dexterous fingers snap forward, as quick as a viper, in an attempt to seize the man's chin and direct him to look into the shadows of her hat, and the blue, bottled-lightning eyes within.

"You had just tried to deface a rather important exhibit to the museum and that particular one happens to belong to someone important and a very dear friend of mine," she says softly, but it is deceptive - the delivery cuts like a whirling blade from her crimson mouth. "If you don't cease your infernal screaming immediately, he will discover this and have you arrested for vandalism and attempted destruction of property. Do you hear me, monsieur? If you don't want to spend a few weeks with persons who think you have a pretty mouth or fined to kingdom come, it really is in your best interests to be quiet and come quietly, d'accord?"

--

Louis blinks at Hudson's question. "I...yes, actually. I saw one down the hall as I was catching up. I'll spot for you." He crosses over to the door of the gallery and peeks around it. Holds up his hand. "Docents," he hisses back at them. "We'll need another--over there!" He waves at the corner. His angle through the room is different from theirs, but presumably where he's pointing, around a couple of exhibit walls, is probably a fire exit. Meanwhile, under Odile's words, Josh goes grey in the face and his teeth close with a click, cutting off the screaming. From Louis' expression and excited gestures, there are probably people coming, drawn by the noise, but at least they won't be able to track them by Josh's wailing.

--

Hudson lets out a sigh of relief when Odile manages to make Josh shut up, though his eyes widen with concern when Louis seems to indicate thier most obvious escape route is cut off. Looking from Louis and then over to the more distant corner he is indicating, Hudson growls a "C'mon" into Josh's ear and starts to frogmarch him in the direction that Louis is pointing. "This would've been a great evening for tips" Hudson grumbles as they walk. "But nooooo. You had to try and sacrifice your finger to some kind of statue god." he continues. "That uppity catering chick will probably fire us both anyway!"

--

A brief flash of concern toys with the visible part of Odile's face, but with the Hudson moving and dragging Josh with him, she follows quietly with that straight-backed, confident stride. She is disconcertingly silent, however, as she follows, but then again, there's really no hiding it from the werewolf now - the company that he had managed to fall into really are strange creatures. "Don't tarry too far behind, Louis," she murmurs towards the dark-skinned man, before she takes a few more rapid strides to the fire exit, and opens the door for Hudson and Josh when she gets there. The young pup has his hands full, after all.

...but when she does reach her hand to the door in an attempt to open it, one of those expensive stiletto heel breaks, and she's unable to prevent a loud squawk from leaving her lips as it makes her elegant self crash into the door, landing on her knees and the fire exit swinging open with a bang.

Lips part in a small 'oh'.

OOPS.

--

And...being a fire exit? The alarm goes off. "Oh son of a bitch," Louis says, under his breath. But it doesn't stop him from stopping to offer Odile a hand up and a shoulder to lean on. Just as the docents come through the main gallery door, hands up to their ears. They look towards the offending fire exit. "Hey! Hey, you two! Stop!"

They did not see Hudson, at least. He is like a shadow as he passes out into the night and the chilly grounds. Ahead of him looms the sculpture garden, its many works of art made sinister and strange by the shadows and lighting.

--

Hudson comes bursting through the fire door right as the alarm goes off. There are two other figures behind him, and a good deal of shouting from somewhere inside the building that indicates there is probably some form of ongoing security incdent taking place. Hudson is dressed up as a waiter, and is wrestling with a scrawny young man of a similar age, who he is clearly dragging along against his will. It's a sudden eruption of pendemonium right in the middle of the sculpture garden, basically.

--

"Merde," Odile hisses under her breath, biting back a more scathing invective at her stinging knees. Theres a grateful look cast up at Louis as he helps her up, grasping his offered hand. Thankfully, there's no leaning necessary - she didn't break anything, and hadn't sustained anything but a few bruises. There's a mournful look cast at her broken Jimmy Choo, but at least the fall hadn't torn a hole in her valuable Alaia, before she simply slings her heel off of her other foot, letting them dangle on a pair of fingers as she runs off with her party, at the moment? Currently aiding and abetting a kidnapping.

"Lovely," she tells her companions, a touch breathlessly, as they hurry into the sculpture garden. "I don't think I've seen this yet upon my return."

--

Louis and Odile come out on Hudson's heels, but once out, he stops supporting her for a moment, and reaches up to untie his bowtie, which is NOT a clip on, and he starts to twist the long length of fabric in his hands. If anyone happens to be looking, they'll notice that when he twists it, the fabric emerges as steel wire rather than twisted cloth. He closes the fire exit and loops the wire around the outer handle and a convenient outcropping of stone, tying it tight just as the first person on the other side tries to open the door. It holds, and he makes a satisfied sound. "They'll probably go around," he admits, then says, "let's find a place to hide."

--

Marshall is dressed to kill. Well, just impress, rather. Standing just outside the fire escape, amidst the sculpture garden, he's smoking a detective's pipe and wearing a tuxedo, an Indiana Jones hat, and bright red Nikes. Nothing says rich like not caring, one supposes. When the fire alarm draws his attention, he looks towards the confusing commotion around the door, brow lifting. There's the classy snoop, the mysterious club owner, and... A waiter hauling a man outside against his will. Typical New Orleans party, it seems.

Marshall taps the weed out of his pipe and hides it so he can wave an aporoach, calling out cheerfully, "Hi! It's me. Marshall." He glances at the now bound door and Louis, then at the grappled figure, unquestioningly smiling.

--

"Nice to meetcha!" Hudson returns the greeting, flashing Marshall a bright smile as he continues to wrestle with Josh, who is contining to struggle, if very quietly now. "Hudson Jones. Hud." he introduces himself. "I'd shake your hand, but errr..." Hudson glances from Marshall, to Josh, and then back again. With that, Hudson gives Josh a sharp little shove and starts directing him onward through the sculture garden as fast as he can possibly go while being frogmarched so unceremoniously.

--

"Where do you get all those wonderful toys?" the woman asks the Jazz club owner lightly, though there's always a touch of awe in her whenever he manages to simply create gold from straw, or whatever they need with what's on hand. She seems to be in agreement that they ought to hide, however, and proceeds to continue on.

Despite the fact that she's presently carrying her shoes with one hand, Odile stops when another figure approaches them with a familiar easy smile. There's absolutely no tension, instead, "Ah, Mister Scott. Lovely party, though it seems that you've ended up in the stranger end of it. You remember my dear friend, Louis Verte, don't you? And this poor, possessed soul is...Mister Josh. I believe we're about to throw him in one of the reflective pools once we've eluded our pursuers."

--

"Ah, Mister Scott. A pleasure," Louis murmurs, not willing to entirely abandon politeness even when fleeing with a resisting person. "Hope you're having a good evening. I'm reasonably certain I was joking about the pool," he says, with a sidelong look to Odile. He doesn't stop walking, but he doesn't try to dissuade Marshall from following, either.

Josh's struggles seem to slow down as they leave the vicinity of the museum, and by the time they reach the giant skull sculpture, looming in the dark near an ornamental pond, and providing some shelter from anyone who might be looking from the impressive, looming building of the museum, Josh has gone quiet and compliant. Actually, looking at his expression, he seems - confused, and a little woozy, like a man shaken out of a dream.

--

Marshall murmurs, "Possessed." Unequivocally obssessed with the supernatural of late, Marshall can't help but follow along, beginning his barage of questions at Louis, "Wait, really possessed? Demon, ghost, body-hopper? Does the reflecting pool banish the possessor? Do you need ritual components?" A sudden frown, as he glances over his shoulder in search of their pursuers, "Do you need help? You're not gonna hurt him, are you?"

--

Hudson keeps a tight grip on Josh until they make it as far as the giant skull sculpture, when it becomes lear that whatever had been affectng the guy seems to be wearing off and he is struggling less and less. He eventually seems confident enough to let go of Josh altogether and flops down on the grass with a laugh. "Holy fuuuuuck, you were like a greased up eel or something dude." he laughs, apparently fairly confident of being out of earshot of any pursuers. There was ultimately nothing stolen or damaged after all, so how much of a chase are they likely to give?

--

There's nothing broken or damaged, but Odile is still curious; occasionally, her eyes will dart to the locked fire exit, secured there by Louis' jury-rigging of his bowtie. "Louis believes the poor man is being influenced by something, so I don't know what. Compelled to give up an appendage to whatever dark gods are still connected with the effigies inside of the museum. Either way, I think he's on the tail end of it." She gives the other young man a scrutinizing look from where she stands. He looks a little dazed.

Louis may have been reasonably joking about the pool, but given that the suggestion is already out, and there's still the question as to what this is all about, the elegant woman gives a glance towards her friend, Hudson who is laughing on the ground, and the newly-arrived Marshall Scott, lifts bare shoulders in a shrug and delicately hikes up her skirt so she could lift a leg, plant the heel of her foot on Josh's backside and attempts to boot him into the pool so he could sober up.

--

Louis scowls a bit at the 'dark gods' remark, running a hand over his bald pate. "I don't think they had anything to do with gods. The sign said ancestors. Essentially gravestones that some asshole colonizer yanked out of their native land and decided to display elsewhere." His voice, for once, is sharp and unhappy. "Surely, possession is more forcible than this? It seemed like a compulsion, which could have been /anything/!" A sidelong look at Marshall's battery of questions.

But before he can get up a good head of steam about any of this, Odile goes to kick the guy into the pool. Josh yelps and dodges by instinct, flailing as he does. But his hand catches her ankle, and knocks her off balance. Before she can do anything to balance herself, gravity asserts itself, and...well. There is a TREMENDOUS splash, and that beautiful, rare, one of a kind outfit from the dead designer? There are now tiny fishes wriggling in it from where she's sitting, soaked, in the pond.

--

Marshall bursts into laughter, then immediately tries to suppress it, covering his mouth with his hand, "Oh boy. Ms. Odile." He slips off his tuxedo jacket and moves to help Odile out of the water. He asks both Josh and the drenched woman if they're okay, still giggling a little. Surely it's just the pot. When she's up and out of the water, Marshall offers her his much less swanky, but much nore dry, tuxedo jacket. "Seems like it was an awesome party."

--

Sitting up once he's done laughing and has caught his breath somewhat, Hudson is almost immediately drenched by the almighty splash Odile creates as she goes crashing into the pool. There's a surprised yelp, and the young wolf springs back to his feet, though he takes it in good humour. "At least I didn't have to buy the stupid uniform" he chuckles to himself, stripping off his now very wet jacket. "This gig fucking blows. I'm never doing hospitality again!" he declares affirmatively.

--

There is a blink when her ankle is snatched, and before Odile can squawk an order, she's pulled into the pond with a loud splash. Cold water gets in everywhere, soaking into her expensive, and terribly valuable, Alaia evening gown and not just that, but her carefully coiffured hair. The water even makes the jaunty brim of her hat droop in the corners as moisture collects at the brim, water cascading in the ends. Drip. Drip. Her headgear is making the very best impression it can make of a mighty sad face, with how low it pulls over her head.

Those ever-present smiles are presently gone. If the 'retired' con artist is apoplectic with rage, however, it is carefully contained. What she does say is "I knew we should have just punched him!" Nevermind that Josh is still there, her opinion will be heard, damn it. Marshall's laughter gets a slow turn of her head and even if he can't see them, he'd be able to feel it, those hidden blue eyes shooting lightning bolts in his direction. Slender fingers reach into her decolletage, where the squirming tail of a fish that has managed to get caught in that pale, alabaster valley can be seen flicking spastically in an attempt to get out oh my god, pulling it out and tossing it off her shoulder to return to the water. The poor fish. It probably thought it was going to die.

It doesn't stop her from taking Marshall's hand when it's offered to her, however, forgiving him for his laughter at his assistance and the offered jacket. "Louis, I need the number of your finest garment restoration expert," she declares; at least she recovers from embarrassment quickly, emerging from the pond with wet silk clinging to every part of her, modesty achieved once again once she slips into Marshall's waiting jacket. "Thank you, Mister Scott. You." She points to Josh. "Your coworker risked the integrity of his body in an attempt to keep you from mutilating yourself, the least you can do to make it up to him is explain to him the hows and whys."

--

Louis does not laugh. It takes everything that he has to not laugh, but he keeps his expression as still and quiet as a dark, non-Odile-containing pool, showing only concern as Marshall helps her out of the pool. "Of course," he murmurs with apparent concern. "You can drop the garment off with me as soon as you change into something else, and I'll do my best." He doesn't dare show any dubiousness about the likelihood of success. He does, however, say, "You can owe me a favor on it."

Meanwhile, Josh is flapping his hand. "Fuck yeah, man." This to Hudson. "This shit is crazy. Why the fuck did that lady just try to kick me into the pool? What was she..." he shakes his head. "No. Wait, there was a voice. It said that if I sacrificed I'd get...something. Something really important?" He reaches up to grab at his head, like he might catch the fleeting memory.

--

Marshall gives Odile an apologetic smile, and he meekly nods his head, murmuring obliviously, "It's a nice dress." What does Mr. Red Nikes know about fashion? His smile widens a little, as he listens to the group, chuckling at Hudson's remark.. Until Josh mentions a sacrifice. And then he's all in, stepping closer, "Wait, which piece of art was this? And did it tell you what you needed to sacrifice?" Louis is a man of answers occasionally, so Marshall looks to him, "What was he gonna cut off?"

--

"Duuude" Hudson begins, grinning at Josh now he's come around to his senses. "Something in there totally got in your head, you were all about chopping off your pinky finger to make some kinda 'flesh sacrifice' to this weird old statue." Hudson explains with unusual (given the circumstances) cheerfulness. Louis and Odile seem perfectly nice, of course, but it is clear that Josh is much more 'Hudson's People' than the wealthy changelings. "Did you see anything freaky? Or like did you go somewhre weird? Or *do* something weird?" he asks.

--

The line of her mouth softens at Marshall's indulgence. "Thank you, it's one of a kind." She is not saying was. A grateful look is once again cast to Louis when he offers to take her dress to someone who might be able to restore it. "Alright, a favor," she tells him with a faint smile - and somewhat exasperatedly with her affection. Always a favor.

With the other two men asking the addled Josh their questions, she sinks further into the jacket - it's much bigger than her, it practically engulfs her upper half. But she listens intently to what the other waiter might say, while sadly picking at the fabric clinging to her. Her poor dress!

--

"Weird?" Josh frowns, shakes his head. "I don't...I don't think so? I just got to the site a little early, and I walked around, listened to the tour app. I heard..." he frowns. "I think there was a voice. On the app. Said to sacrifice flesh and blood, and bring it...bring it..." He falls into silence. "Fuck. Don't remember. Maybe someone slipped me something in my fucking coffee. And I was trying to stay clean for this job. My friends are complete choads. I bet it was Bill. Asshole." He grimaces at them all. "Thanks, I guess. For stopping me from cutting off my finger?" He gives Odile a wary look, sidling away from her and towards Hudson. "Uh. Can I go now? I should get out of here."

He nods towards the Museum - the alarm has stopped, but a big public building and a fire alarm? Yeah, the party is over, and everyone had to vacate. The garden is starting to fill with disgruntled rich folks waiting for the Fire Department to finish inspecting the building so that they can all go get their coats.

Louis listens, thoughtfully. "I think you should go," he murmurs, glancing at the others. "And just try to avoid the Museum for a while." A sympathetic look is given to Odile, and he reaches into his jacket to pull out a handkerchief and offer it to help with the dripping.

--

Marshall nods along, listening to Josh intently, but he seems to have had his fill when he hears 'On the app'. He sticks his hands in his pockets, chuckling lightly, "Well this was interesting." He checks his phone, then flashes the group a quick smile, "See y'all later. And for God's sake, be safe." There's a special wave and a wink for Odile, "Keep the jacket. It's a rental." Does he know what kind of feea they'll impose? Regardless, he turns to make a beeline straight towards the museum.

--

"Hold up!" Hudson says to Josh as the other server turns to go. Hudson glances back to Louis and Odile and offers the both his most absolutely dashing of smiles. "I don't suppose you fancy tipping?" he suggests hopefully.

--

Pale fingers reach for the handkerchief Louis lends her, Odile reaching underneath her hat to pat it against the cold water that's left glistening drops on her skin. Marshall's wink has her inclining her head at him, her smile unwavering and visible in spite of the terrible fate that had befallen her dress. "Good evening, Mister Scott," she murmurs as he departs.

And when Hudson asks for a tip? She exhales a breath, rolls her head dramatically backwards. But she does move, rewarding the young pup more for his audacity than his service, her small purse emerging from the folds of her dress and deposits a sodden bill in the man's waiting hand. It's a tip for one drink.

"See to your friend, Mister Jones," she tells him.

--

"Goodbye, Mr. Scott. It was nice to see you," Louis says, cheerfully. He adds, as an aside to the other two, "He is absolutely going to go download the museum app." At Hudson's charming smile, he offers a smile - less charming, but still warm and sincere - back. "Well, I suppose it is true that you've gone above and beyond the call of duty tonight." He reaches into his inner jacket pocket, and brings out a hundred dollar bill, folding it around a business card, with his name (Louis Verte), a phone number, and the address for a jazz club, Salome. "Hope to see you again, soon."

Hudson cheers happily when Odile, and then Louis tip him for what really was outstanding service. Arguably. "Thanks!" he beams at the both of them, before turning his attention to Odile and adding "Sorry about your dress. You looked really pretty in it." with another of those smiles. He doesn't stick around long though, calling after Josh "Hey! Josh! You want IHOP?" and charging off after the other server, with a wave behind to Louis and Odile.

--

Marshall pauses, glancing back at Hudson and Josh. Sure he was about to go be compelled and lose a pinky, but it's not like he can get inside this exact moment. And the valiant server who saved someone('s appendage) just asked for a tip. Taking a lesson in style from Louis, Marshall pulls out several, hundred-dollar bills and spends longer than one should wrapping it around his own card. He hands the wad to Hudson, then tilts his Indiana Jones hat rakishly, pointing a finger at the brave waiter. "Marshall Scott P.I., at your service."

--

Hudson cheers happily when Odile, Louis and then Marshall tip him for what really was outstanding service. Arguably. "Thanks!" he beams at the three of them, before turning his attention to Odile and adding "Sorry about your dress. You looked really pretty in it." with another of those smiles. He doesn't stick around long though, calling after Josh "Hey! Josh! You want IHOP? I'm buying!" and charging off after the other server, with a wave behind to the trio of wealthy art snobs.

--

"He will." Her smile is out, exasperated but amused, at Louis' remark about the museum app. She, herself, doesn't download it, though. She has had enough fun today, she's not about to get compelled to lose anymore pieces of her. Did any of them even know how many hours she invests to look the way she does every day?! Quite a lot! But she does seem rather appeased when Hudson apologizes for the dress. "Yes, well. Louis will find someone to set it right, I'm sure." Don't break her heart today, Louis. She only looks slightly mollified at the compliment, undoubtedly mourning the state of her Alaia.

She folds Louis' handkerchief back up carefully and returns it to him. "Well, I think I've had my fill of this evening's excitement. Thankfully my phone is waterproof." She finds it, and texts her driver. "Walk me to my car, mon ami?"

--

Louis extends his arm to Odile, and never mind the drippy wetness - and is that a bit of /lilypad/ on her elbow?? - for he is a gentleman. "I would be delighted, my dear. And I think it can be salvaged." A critical eye on the fabric. "With effort." Pause. "A good deal of effort." If he's teasing her, it's deadpan as they start to walk towards her car.