Logs:No Good Deed

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No Good Deed


Characters: Michael and Axle
Date: 2020-03-11
Summary: Do-Gooder Axle comes upon Michael stranded in his broken wheelchair and finds out that Good Samaritans sometimes come to a bad end.
Disclaimers: {{{disclaimers}}}

Soundtrack: Buffalo Springfield - For What It's Worth

MichaelStare.jpg

The sun has set on the little village of Pines, still in eternal recovery from the depredations of that mad dog Katrina. Once bustling, only a little over half the residencies have been repaired and reintegrated into the New Orleans daily life, others still abandoned due to economic hardship and hard-forgot memories of trauma. But still, as befits the indomitable spirit of man, life and cheer have returned, if in more subdued a fashion.

Our story tonight takes place in a little local park, near a little local church, around an area where many of the former residentials have become resident-nots. The weeds are a little taller than they ought to be, the pavement a little more cracked, fissures in the asphalt like some great demon be underneath ready to belch up fire and fury. It is one of those damnable cracks that has caught the wheel of poor Michael's chair as he eases himself down the street, taking in the nocturnal sights of God's creation. The abrupt shift in elevation has near dislodged the unfortunate bastard, his rickety wheels rickety-splitting lickety-split as he overcomes that abominable hump. There's a grunt, and a rattle as he continues on, loosened and uneven and struggling to maintain a straight course. He slows, near a patch of fence bordering said park, dull and gray and iron-wrought, and settles with a euphemistic curse or two, the blankets upon his crippled lap spilling to the ground in a bundle.

--

"Hey, man. You can't park that here," Axle has the nerve to cheerfully tell the poor bastard as she comes upon him at the side of the causeway, near the fence, near the park, near the devastated area that once flourished before the government dropped the ball after the Gods cast down the rains. And so on, and so forth. The curly-haired wolf-blood is clad in a pair of bib overalls, motorcycle boots, and a blood red tank top, a hoodie tied by its sleeves around her hips.

There's a messenger bag slung over her shoulder and worn at her hip, bulging with various items of unknown makeup and origin. There's a smear of grease on her cheek, her hands similarly dirty. Whoa, those hands are kind of extreme; her nickname isn't Monkey Fingers for nothing. There's a couple of band-aids wrapped around a finger here, there, one of her knuckles barked with a few little scabs. Serious hands that have been doing serious work of some kind.

--

"You must forgive my break here," the obviously homeless man remarks, lifting his gaze to Axle's as the grease-monkey comes upon him. His old cap fits loosely on his shock of black-and-silver hair, his camo jacket and sweatshirts stained and too big for him, exaggerating his size. His eyes flit across the wolf-blood's body to take her in, and then lift to her face, where he offers a wide, clean-toothed smile. "But if even the moon can laze about to watch your eyes, I think an old man can be forgiven a bit of the same." He reaches down and thwacks the right wheel of his chair, which jingles and jangles precariously. "And I may be in a spot of trouble, between you and me."

--

Axle raises both hands to rake back her hair, unmindful of the fact she is transferring grime from fingers to follicles and every strand in between. She takes a step back; not out of fear or consternation or anything else silly like that. So she can look down and take in the sight of the wheelchair. "Yeah. She looks a mite beat up. You need a hand getting her back on her feet? Baby needs a healer," she muses, a hand disappearing into the front left pocket of her overalls and coming out with a folded multi-tool of no known brand; a real hardware store product, at least, not one of those piece of crap Harbor Freight dollar deals jobbies.

Giving it a fancy flick like she's opening a butterfly knife or maneuvering nun-chucks, she uses the right hand to flip open her messenger bag, delving inside for a 12" long combination flashlight and billy bat; a $5 everyday deal at your local Menards. (Save big money at Menards!)

--

Indeed, why would anyone fear Michael? From Axle's vantage point, his weakness is laid bare; a legless, dirtied, broken man, who has only by luck of genetics been spared sore and soured gums. There are no weapons or drugs to be found in the accumulated paraphernalia mixed in with his blankets, and the pouch under his wheelchair has naught but a few bottles of a local booze called Spitfire, sold by the lovely Ms. Mae.

A few unopened bottles, never even touched, never even opened. The man makes for as poor a drunk as he does everything else.

"Bless your kindness, missus," he drawls, as plantation south as ever, voice thick and warm with a certain exuberance. "Blessed is she who waters, for she shall be watered. If you could spruce this old girl up some, I'd be much obliged." He rattles the wheel again with a hand. "Are you going to need me to stand up and get out your way?"

--

She unslings the messenger bag and sets it down quietly on the ground beside where he is 'parked' beside the fence. Axle drops to a crouch and then to one knee, settling her weight and flicking on the flashlight to give the wheel a once over, as well as the interconnecting parts of the chair, leaning over so she can examine the other side, too; one must see what the sound side looks like in order to know what the broken one *should* look like, after all.

"Naw, if I need, I can just dump you out of it onto the ground," Axle gently teases. She's never been one to shy away from humor as a means to deal with unfortunate things -- whether it's racism, evangelism, or amputeeism. While the light is shining on the chair, she pokes her fingers here and there, checking the lay of the parts.

--

"Just push me into the grass, first, if you please," the southern gentleman replies, good-humored and kind. "The landing's softer, and I could pretend to watch the stars through all these street lights." Michael laughs to himself, slapping his thigh, hazel eyes sparkling as he looks down at the kneeling Axle. "Oh, but where are my manners? My name is Michael, beautiful, and I am delighted to make your acquaintance. I was out for a stroll to absorb the neighborhood ambiance, and thought a bout of misfortune had struck me. I see now it was prelude to good luck." He flirts with a casual, noncommittal ease, as though to treat a young lady kindly is as second nature as breathing.

The wheelchair is old, let's make that clear. An outdated thing decades old, with rust in parts, loose pieces and screws, shoddy construction. Even repairing it won't make it good, just the bare minimum of functional, but that surely beats broken down. A few tightened screws, the straightening out of a rim here and there, and it'll be as well-polished as a turd could be.

And while Axle's down there, she might notice that, tucked amidst the unopened bottles is an open wallet, with a few wads of twenties sticking out of it. From where he sits, Michael surely cannot see what goes on down there.

--

The flashlight is set down in the wake of his introduction, freeing up her right hand so she can offer it to him by way of a greeting. Eye contact is fleeting at best, when it is made. She's a creature used to dealing with Alpha Werewolves who don't like to be challenged by extended eye contact, and so she tends to avoid it, herself. "Nice to meet you, handsome. My name's Sofia, but my friends call me Axle. Some of them call me worse things, but we won't go into that," she jokes.

She's a thief, but she doesn't steal from the downtrodden; just from the wealthy and only things that those folks shouldn't miss. That is to say, she wouldn't steal a rich man's prosthetic leg. Just the cash out of his wallet. And St. Michael of the Battered Wheelchair does not appear to be rich -- unless he's one of those eccentric billionaires that lives in a cardboard castle.

"You're going to need more work on this baby than I can provide here. I can get you moving again, but that's only a short-term fix. I can take you back to my workshop and do some heavier duty work, but I don't want to come off sounding like a pervert trying to lure you into their van for free candy."

--

The opened wallet remains where it was, unmolested, almost as though it were there to be looked at on purpose. Almost.

"You are the sweetest little thing I have met in weeks, miss Sofia, and let the Lord pinch my tongue if I'm a liar. I don't have much to give you, or much in the means of favor I could offer; if you rifle around in my things down there, you might see a wallet. I been saving up donations, try and make a little piggy bank, but I'd be grateful if you were to take a bill as repayment for your time." The weathered man smiles, shifting in his chair to get comfortable. "And if I pay for your time, the candy isn't free. I can go with you with a clear conscience that I am not being so cruelly taken advantage of. But when I look at you, well, I don't think you're a bad sort at all." His smile widens as he watches her.

--

"Sorry, I'm afraid I can't accept money for doing a good deed; that'd blow all my karma out of the water, and I need to hang on to it. After facing off against the Grunch and two of his minions last night and getting away with all my fingers and toes, I'm going to have to keep earning up extra Good Girl Points or my luck will run out." Well, that was a mouthful of nonsense spouted from the curly-haired wolf-blood.

In the end, she picks the flashlight back up and starts to go to work with the multi-tool, then pauses and scoots over to offer him the light. "Can you hold this for me so I can use both hands? Aim it right.... here," she directs, putting it in his hand if he'll take it, and aiming it where she needs it. She basically just handed an aluminum billy club to a strange homeless man who may or may not be hiding his legs under his ass, right?

--

For a moment, there is a silence, when Axle hands over the light and Michael's eyes catch hers. A pregnant pause as that spark of human connection is established, and an olive branch of trust offered; even as the light shines in his hand, there's a moment where the streetlight above them blinks out, crackles, returns to life in a blood-red hue that lasts for one loud beating of a heart. It's there and gone so quick it can hardly be said to be a phenomenon that occurred at all.

Yet.. that feeling. Odd.

"Thank you very much, miss Sofia." He is quick to obey her directions, seizing the light and directing it as directed, to illuminate their path through the dim neighborhood. "If I might ask, what brings a young woman out by her lonesome? I realize I am in a peculiar position to say this, but the world is not safe."

--

Axle puts those special monkey fingers of hers to work, using both hands for good measure to hold this, twist that, bend this, and screw that. Various attachments on the multi-tool are folded in and out and used to their best advantage, the young woman speaking as she works on his chair, saying, "My friends and I live around here. Over in North Kenilworth. I was on my way home from visiting someone and figured it was too nice a night not to enjoy the last little bit of the Worm Moon. If you hush up and listen close you can hear them coming up out of their holes," she says, apparently speaking of the worms for which the March full moon is named. A bit of a lunatic, she.

The little bit of weirdness with the streetlight draws her attention. She looks up and around, before her eyes return to the task her fingers are performing, tongue appearing at her mouth to wet her lips. She's unbothered by the strangeness; dealing with the so-called Grunch was much more exciting than some lurid lighting.

--

"So you are a lover of the night moons, miss Sofia?" For a moment, Michael redirects the flow of the light, sending a beam up toward the dim-starred sky, though it hardly reaches. "When I was a much littler boy than I am now, my momma told me the moon made men mad, got their blood flowing black and burning red. That when it was full, and shiny, and pock-marked, it was a reflection of what was inside us, and that since no man was truly good inside, seeing it would break us." He lowers the flashlight, sweeping it across the sidewalks, the forgotten, flood-damaged buildings, and then leans his head to the side to look at her, illuminating his face from beneath the chin like he were engaged in a bit of Halloween mischief. "God rest her, for she was a kind woman, but that kindness made her cynical."

--

Axle listens to him spin his recollection of His Mother and Mother Moon, which to her is much more important than it is to most; to her kind, at least, if not her specifically. Her hands work as she listens, until she has fixed up that side of the wheelchair as best she can with the one tool and no welding torch or hammer to fix the bent and broken bits. She'll also want some WD-40 at some point to finish off the job. And maybe some old playing cards for his spokes.

When he removes the light from her work, she starts to protest -- and it lured into looking into his eyes in order to be captured by that mesmerizing gaze. She stares at him for long moments before her eyes drop back down to her work, fingers stroking along one of the bits or pieces she recently tightened up, her demeanor nice and calm. "No man is truly perfect. But there are good men," she says, with a little less passion than she might normally put behind a statement like that.

--

"Man has within him the potential to be good, sweet Sofia," Michael retorts, his voice a-fire with the truth of the Word. "For God made man in His image; man is the divine writ small, a pale tribute to the infinite Glory." He rests his hands in his lap as he works, straightening, casual-like with the flashlight, to keep abreast of any potential vagrants and miscreants that might threaten the safety of his newly-demured friend. "But Goodness must be a choice, must arise from the soul; Goodness must come when one can do Evil. Do you understand, beautiful? Your charity here means the world; but only because you chose to kneel, when you could have walked on. You chose Good, and that should be rewarded."

--

Her head cocks, a bit birdlike. "Apathy is the greatest evil of all, Mister Michael," says she, folding the unfolded tool of the generic Leatherman. It is tucked down into the lefthand pocket of her overalls. She doesn't think to ask him for the flashlight back, just remains on the one knee beside his wheelchair, her right hand coming to rest on the wheel of it, giving it a back and forth stroke. "Do you want to try out the quick-fix I put on your girl?" she asks, obviously referring to the wheelchair as the girl in question.

--

"Rise and wait," Michael commands, without so much as a look to the quick-fix girl, and there is a rightness to the words that makes obedience natural, that soothes the jagged wounds of violation. The man slides his hands to the hand rims, rusted and worn, and with a flex of a broad chest and strong arms, propels himself forward. The wheels are steadier, no longer careening back and forth, even if it requires a bit more force than is comfortable to move and halt. Michael lets out a pure and content laugh, zooming at a breakneck three miles per hour, and then turns about. "Oh, have you watered me," he declares, echoing an earlier quote. "And so shall you be watered! Come, miss Sofia. Kneel in front of me."

--

Way hay, up she rises, early in the morning. Up Axle moves, using her core strength to stand up without needing to pull herself up by his wheelchair or otherwise assist herself. She's nineteen and quite vigorously ambulatory compared to the cripple who has her in his thrall. She doesn't even look around, just keeps her eyes fixed on Michael and his chair, watches as he squeaks the chair forward; it would move so much smoother if she had her WD-40. She'll need to get a leather holster and start carrying a can on her person at all times.

At his next command, she steps forward and around him and sinks down to her knees on the ground there before the fence. Her messenger bag is right where she left it, on the ground near them, still open from having removed the billy-light. Her lips are wetted with another swipe, head cocked to one side as she looks at his face, studies it.

--

So then does the mask fall away. The shroud of impotence is torn; where once sat a broken man, weak and forgotten, is a king. How could it not have been seen before? He sits upon a throne; his hat is a crown. The words are hooks inside the girl's mind, fingers thrust deep within her that squeeze tight on the soul and synapse and spin her agency into thin strings to marionette. There is fire in his eyes but there is no Life. His skin is pale as the worm moon, contrasted against the salt-and-peppered shocks of his mane. "You have done well, miss Sofia," he declares, that southern drawl now seductive croon and imperial condescension. "Thank you very much. And so I have a gift for you."

His teeth are wolf-sharp and wolf-long, ripping open the pad of his thumb. There is no blood she can see, despite the injury. And then, slowly, so slowly, does it coalesce beneath the skin, thrum like a thing Alive, a single solitary droplet of some staggering dark crimson, blood-copper and wine-sweet in the air. He anoints her forehead, trails a marking stain down the curve of face, and then wets her lip. "You shall have one taste of the Miracle, and then I will have mine."

--

On some level in her soul there's an insurrection going on; that distant wolf part of her spirit fiercely protesting her kneeling before this false King, even as her Queen shines down, already diminishing after its most fecund night has ended, waning sliver by sliver.

Axle draws her lungs full of sweet night air, letting it out slowly once more, as calm as ever on the outside, even as the silent rebellion goes on in the subbest of sub-basements of her psyche. His thumb is pierced open, blood oozing with the slowness of the mammoth lakes' black asphalt, that taint drawn upon her flesh. Her lips part to draw in another breath, nostrils also flaring, the viscous droplet beginning its gravity pulled dribble down inside her mouth.

--

A false king or a true one, the holy monster's authority cannot be denied. Knees scrape against the rubble of the sidewalk; a mouth opens, brushed apart lips first; and that single spill of Vitae slides down her throat like communion wine. The moment it hits the tongue the world comes alive. There is a vibrancy to colors, a cleanness to the air, an energy that tickles its way down the nape of the neck and the spine and then thrills the extremities with a flood of warmth and pleasure. Whether your vice is cocaine, sex, or soul food, it means nothing next to the Blood, the power in the Blood, the unnatural highness of it.

One taste is all it takes. One taste to be satisfied beyond measure and needier than ever, if you're unfortunate.

"And there you have it," he drawls, sliding his thumb domineeringly against her tongue, pressing it down, and then withdrawing from between her lips. His digits are slick with her saliva, but he pays them no mind. "A fair trade for my locomotion, don't you think so?"

--

Sofia is far from a pure soul; she has sinned, so much sin in her heart and soul -- and she revels in it. She's also a little bit a of freak. And when those fingers push inside her mouth to graze her tongue and distribute the droplet of vitae onto her taste buds, down into the well of her throat, she moans softly, a little buzz of vibrations to accompany the sound. Eyes drift closed until his fingers leave her mouth, at which point she opens them again and returns her brown-eyed gaze to his face, those seriously thick eye brows of hers knitted into a hard to read expression. A freak wolf-blood is a dangerous toy to play with, as evidenced by the fact her hands come to rest on the King's lap.


--

Truth be told, Michael hadn't the faintest of knowings this girl was a wolf-blood; had he opened her veins, perhaps the smell of her blood, the charge of it would have stuck out to his predatory senses, aroused in him the knowledge she was Different. But for now, she is merely a girl he has blessed, a member of the human flock who earned one single drop of Grace for her kindly spirit. "Good girl," he praises her, reaching up to pat her head as her hands rest on his lap. He makes no move to separate from her, merely watching with some amusement. "But you didn't answer me. If you don't think your reward was satisfactory, do tell me, sweet Sofia. I would need to find something more appropriate to a little lady like yourself."

--

"I don't understand the reward," Axle readily admits. She is of average to above average intelligence, but when it comes to unfamiliar mysticism... She straightens higher on her knees, her hands drifting away from his lap and to the wheelchair once more. "I can fix it much better at home. I have a welding torch and lubricants and the other tools I would need there." There remains a stripe of blood upon her lower lip, a stain that lingers like the force of his mesmerism.

--

The vampire tilts his head and then laughs, loud and hard. "Well, aren't you a well-composed young woman," he declares, looking down at Axle. "To taste the Miracle and be so reserved; I expected you to praise the Lord, or fumble at my belt buckle, or simply fall back and enjoy the glow." The laugh tapers off to a chuckle, carried on the warm night breeze that stirs the tall grasses of the nearby park. "Come closer," he commands now, curling a hand to the side of her skull, threading fingers through her hair and yanking her up against him, across his lap. "And be still."

His eyes roam her with a lover's possessiveness, admiring the smooth, dark skin, the beads of sweat from the night heat that drip down her curves like honey, the tattoo that crawls along her throat like his hand now does. A caress, firm and gentle, as he controls the position of her head and holds her to him in thrall. "Like the well-bred lady you so clearly are."

His mouth is upon her neck. A prick, faint, and then a flood of pleasure, invigorating and distracting radiates through her, pulsing in tune with her heart.

--

He laughs at her and a little bit of uncertainty blossoms in her features; she's worried she has disappointed him, perhaps? It lessens to a more casual chuckle and she starts to speak, but then a new command passes his lips, his hand upon her head; short and curly locks are the perfect handhold for such a maneuver, and she comes closer even as he tugs her there, bidden to creep up on her knees until her weight is pushing at the wheelchair, causing it to creak, the wheels to turn just a little bit. Much more pressure and he'll have to set the brake.

Those striped lips part as he admires her face, and another soft sound of rapture spills from her even before he has set fang to flesh. She's tilted just so, by the pressure applied to her head's positioning, a small tremble coaxed from her, goose pimpling her flesh. The cords in her neck tighten, become visible, a throb in her neck where the veins and arteries shift and dance in their ebb and flow of her blood. Swoon she does when she is bitten, a new experience to add a notch to her metaphorical post. She's no well bred lady, just a mutt of bloodlines, with that overriding tang of the Moon and the fierce wildness of the wolf.

--

He pulls the life from her in burning mouthfuls. To feed is a vampire's ecstasy, the affirmation of their holy purpose; he clutches her to him, his fingers an iron vice that prickles her scalp with every tug of hair, as her heart synchronizes with the suckling of his hunger. A pleasing fire spins in her veins, drawn up toward her slickened neck like a poison, and it spills to redden his lips and pale chin; a suck, a kiss, like an overeager teenager bruising his first girlfriend, eager to see the mark when he's done.

It lasts forever and ends too soon. The monster stops before there'd be strain on the poor little handygirl's heart, drained but non-lethally; a little fatigued, but more exhilarated by the experience. Her blood in him and his in her, he's claimed a little bit of her insides, his will driving that warmth in her belly that spreads out to make fuzzy thoughts and feelings.

"You smell so sweet, little Sofia," he murmurs when at least he breaks away from her, his tongue sliding across her skin to seal the puncture wound and leave no evidence save the sheen of his spit upon her. "They could bottle you up for perfume."

--

She does, indeed, smell incredibly different. It's that Exciting Tell of hers; where he to mingle sweat with her, he'd feel much the same Euphoria as he bestows upon her with his Kingly, undead Kiss. She's sleepy-eyed by the time he withdraws from her, making absolutely no move to disengage from where she is all but draped across his lap. There's a tremulous quality to her breath as it is inhaled and exhaled, her flesh still stippled by those goose bumps.

Brown eyes flick here and there and refocus on his face, and she raises a hand to slowly touch her neck where his fangs were so recently embedded within that vulnerable pillar of flesh and bone, muscle and vitae. "You bit me," she marvels, a chorus of emotions mixed up in the tone of the few words.

--

His hand still upon her head, his fingers still curled through the curls of her hair, Michael sits and stares at Axle. His mouth is stained, and she is made to watch as his tongue slides lasciviously across his lips, drawing in the faint speckled traces of her life's blood so easily stolen from her. "There are wolves who walk the night, my sweet Sofia," he begins, as she stares at him in mixed disbelief and awe, "who are the chosen scourge of God, and nip at the heels of the venal and the base. The crucible on which God has seen fit to temper his misbegotten children." The man smiles, sharp-toothed, and tugs at her roots for emphasis. "Who bring pain to the wicked and the righteous, and in doing so remind them of the supremacy of God's plan. My eyes are on you now, to see how you live, how you behave."

--

A small wince tightens her features as the sting of him tugging on the roots of her hair is felt, but it's an exciting sensation to her deviant mind, one she has revelled in lovers performing on her. Which means as he preaches about the Scourge of God and his plans and evil... She blushes in the dark, her skin reddening and getting warm. Another pass of her tongue over her mouth and the lingering taste of his vitae blossoms again in her mouth like the burst of a grape being crushed between her teeth, releasing its heady juices.

Those long fingers of hers have begun to fidget, moving on his wheelchair, one tightening and relaxing on the wheel of it, the other on the armrest; it's not like she is very strong, so there's no harm done, just fingerprints and cooties spread.

--

The intoxication of the Kiss is two ways, albeit in different forms; to the Kindred, it is like drinking liquid vitality, joy, passion, the true spice that gives their immortal lives flavor. The rush of it has gone to his head, hardened his eyes, made the fire in them a brighter burn as he stares down at this kneeling creature lowered beneath him like a supplicant slave. Perhaps the pseudo-mystical sweat she exudes has played some part in it, exposed to her own emotional-altering powers in his ignorance of her true nature. Regardless, he does keep her to him, her head dragged to his lap to rest there like a stray kitten, stroking her cheek, her scalp, brushing her hair as he digests. "Does it bother you to be bitten, miss Sofia?" He sounds amused.

--

She's brought down to his lap and lets out a small, soft sigh. Arms curl around the shape of him on the wheelchair and she snuggles there with an awfully contented expression on relaxed features, eyes closed; for all the world she looks as if she feels safe at home, as if at the feet of Santa Claus or a beloved grandfather. "I wondered what it would be like," she softly says, the volume of her voice keyed to a more intimate level, rather than the more boisterous nature of before when she was fixing his chair.

"It isn't like I was warned," she proclaims.

--

The peculiar nature of that answer earns the girl a lifted eyebrow, Michael's attention roused from his reverie. "You wondered.. ?" His lips purse, gaze narrowing as he soaks in the sight of her, hand continuing to idly brush. As he ponders, his fingers curl down her cheek, slide across her lips teasingly. Yet she will notice that despite the proximity, he is cool to the touch, and despite having a pretty young girl on her knees for him, unaroused. Given that, and the biting, and the blood, and the paleness of his skin, it is reasonable to conclude vampirism, if one has any experience with it. One who has not donned the Blush of Life, and thus shows no physiological signs of it. "Do you know what I am, little Sofia?" The suspicion exists in him now, and so he asks, watching her.

--

She has met several vampires by now, though each one was as different as the next. But for him to have done what he did to her neck... She is in his Thrall but not devoid of sensibilities, and felt that nursing at her neck, the newfound tiredness, weakness... "Yes, I... think so," she murmurs. "I have met others," she provides.

Axle has probably not even noticed his lack of arousal; that's not what she is focused on at the moment. Rather it's the inexplicable affection that has developed in her in the wake of having imbibed that dark pearl of his essence. That has her hugging his lap like a supplicant at the base of a statue of her God.

--

"So you are more than a blind member of the flock," Michael reasons, continuing to amuse himself with paternalistic gestures of affection, curling and stroking and scratching. "Who are you, exactly, my sweet Sofia? I am ignorant of many things in this great world, but I will not be ignorant of this." His voice is calm, measured, but packed with all the crisp, nigh-militaristic command of the officer or the prophet -- and, indeed, he has been both, and so it flows so easily from him. One finger slides beneath her chin and lifts her head up, so she can side-eye him looming above her, his face filling her sight and limned in the pale night lights. "You will speak truth to me from now on, beautiful girl. And if you are very good, I might let you taste the Miracle again; for mine is a holy Blood, shared by no other."

--

It's not until he coaxed her chin up with that lone digit that she even considers raising her head. But she does so, eyes flicking open and fixing on his face again; she'll rue the day he ensnared her gaze that second time and fixed her in his thrall. There are levels of truth and omission and twisting the command like the devil with his favors. But it doesn't dawn on her she could be evasive. Axle readily answers, "My name is Sofia Williams-Smith. I'm a wolf-blood of the Iron Masters Tribe of the Moon. My father is an Elodoth of that Tribe; a Half-Moon."

--

To stare into the Devil's eyes is to be awash in His power all over again; unnecessary, perhaps, but as she looks at him his Beast rouses and lashes out at her again, that mesmerizing quality and the oppressive force of his will falling upon her like the blankets he wears to smother independence. To reassert himself in this way, to hold her captive, seems a cruel game Michael delights in.

He graces her a blood-red smile.

"So you are one of those werewolf children," he remarks, educated enough in the occult to know the basics, but not familiar with all the proper terminology and roles. "I heard your kind arise from when man and wolf are joined in fruitful union, a half-magic whelp bred into a fertile vessel. Is there any truth to that?"

--

"We're all the children of Father Wolf; the first and truest hunter," Axle answers without even stopping to consider her words; she's deeply ensnared in his servitude, caught in the prison of his eyes and drowning in that fathomless pool. "It's not... A wolf didn't fuck a woman," she says, as if that is what she gleaned from the words he speak. A fertile vessel, a half-magic whelp. And so on. She can be quite literal-minded at times. Hands raise up of their own accord and try to cup his face, to cradle the chill flesh between her warm palms with those oddly lengthy fingers.

--

"So it is some form of lupine spiritualism, a pagan magic," Michael decides, and he sounds content with that answer. "I have always had a respect for the wolves; while they are not God's chosen predators, there is dignity in simple purpose, in devotion to needed works and hunts." He licks his teeth, cleaning her blood off them and swallowing, pupils faintly dilated from the pleasure of it. In the distraction, she has cradled his face between her hands, feeling the scruff of his thick, well-groomed beard beneath her long fingers. "Thank you for that knowledge, my darling Sofia. You know, I am very new to this city, and unfamiliar with much of it. I would be eternally grateful..." And he leans in close, bringing his face to hers, separated by centimeters, ".. if such a clever, well-spoken girl as you could be my guide for a time, and help me familiarize myself. An opportunity to learn is to be cherished. And I would like to keep you close by for a spell."

--

Her accent is Midwestern; she's not a local girl, the wolf-blood. Her fingers delve into the depths of his beard and stroke there, scratching and petting with a mind of their own as she treads water within that gaze, eyes only dropping to watch the movement of his tongue across his teeth to swipe away lingering traces of her blood. "You have to come home with me so I can fix your chair," she insists, hands dropping abruptly to the wheels of his chair and stroking them again. She's a grease monkey; she can't be blamed for having as much admiration for his ride as for the vampire in it.

--

As their eyes meet once more, and the girl fantasizes over all the ways she might pimp his ride, Michael's gaze grows stern. The aspect of the King is in full force once more as she scratches his cheeks, his eyes plunging into her like knives. "You will bring me back to your home, and you will secure for me a room and block out the windows and sun," he commands, and within her veins now flows the corruptive chain of his Vitae; it sympathizes with his will, reaches out through her, combines to form an iron edict. It is likely, given the unnatural sentiment growing within her, she would have done all this anyway; that he has now made her Obey is mere indulgence. "Come. Push me."

--

<Intermission>

Soundtrack: AC/DC - Thunderstruck

Mesmerism.png

--

The Pink Flamingo is as snazzy as its trashy name suggests. A cheap motel frequented by broke college kids coming to the Big Easy to party; addicts; and others the City That Care Forgot has... forgotten. But the place cradled Axle and her boyfriend when they first came to Lousiana, and since she befriended the handyman (Joe, NPC) and surreptitiously copied his master key... Accessible.

Whether he wants her to push his wheelchair there or walk beside him, Axle does as bidden and makes conversation when he does, otherwise is content to remain silent until the two arrive. She lets them into Room 11, which lies beside the combination laundry, stowage for the ice machine, and a few other mechanical components of the motel. The room is spartan. A small bathroom with the usual fixtures lies at the back of the room; it has one frosted glass window. A bed that's headboard is against the lefthand wall, if one is in the doorway and facing the aforementioned lavatory. Across from the footboard, a dresser. Tucked into the near right corner, a little table and two chairs. On the righthand corner, a side table with a flatscreen television on it. The bedroom's windows flank the door and currently have half-assed vertical blinds.

"I'll check the laundry room; see if there's some cardboard," Axle suggests.

--

The class of a place is different to holy eyes; where Axle might see a run-down motel, whose halls and damaged rooms are thick with the scents of booze, cheap sex, and broken lives, whose curtains are moth-eaten and sparse carpetry leaves much to be desired..

Well, in the Anointed eyes of Michael Averns, what looms before them is a den of iniquity, a palace of sin and vice where the will of God has been forgotten. It is places like these where examples are easily made -- though not the best examples, no, for reasons he could expound upon at length, and neglects to do so only because his penchant for preaching has not yet been aroused.

Instead, content to be wheeled in by the well-meaning Axle, he rests in the room. He wheels himself toward the bathroom, seeing if it has a high-set window leading outside so many often do. The instinctual things a Kindred does when carving out a temporary sanctuary. The angle of windows, the sturdiness of doors and locks, the thinness of walls, fixtures to be hidden in or under, and all such manner of temporal concerns. It would not do for God's holy monsters to be remiss in their duties.

"This place will suffice for today, miss Sofia," he declares. "Go on for the cardboard, but don't take more than a few minutes. Worst comes, I will remain in the washroom over yonder until the sun goes down."

--

"I'll make it quick," Axle vows, an infectious smile coming to her features. Whereas she might have started out with some subconscious reluctance to his powers of Domination, her psyche's natural defense mechanism is to relax and roll with the situation as if he were a friend and not a conqueror.

She ducks out of the room and heads next door to seek out what she needs -- and then to the shed behind the motel, where she uses another copied key to open the padlock there and retrieve a couple of rolls of plain silver duct tape and some sheets of thin plywood. As it lies in the heart of hurricane territory, the motel is always prepared to board up its windows with the materials squirreled away to keep the owner's interests from being battered by debris.

If she attracts attention in her task, it is from individuals who either don't care, or remember her from her recent stay in the place, and she's able to wave at them and cheerfully go on her way, as if helping the handyman with his work.

Back at the room, she comes inside and sets the plywood on the floor, leaning it up against the window on one side while she closes the door. "We're in luck!" she burbles. "This shit's already cut to size and everything."

--

With the patience of a Saint, Michael lingers in his spot. He is precisely where Axle left him when she returns minutes later -- his chair in the same spot over the stain on the rug, his left arm partially tucked to his side, his right hand upon his lap. He has not moved a single solitary fraction of a centimeter the whole time, corpse-still and unbreathing. It is only her presence that blossoms in him some cold semblance of life, for his mouth splits wide in a smile as he soaks her in.

"With Faith, all things are possible, miss Sofia," he reminds gently, "and all Good things will come."

In the next life, if not this one, but that bit needn't be said aloud.

"Cover them windows now," he instructs, "there's a good girl. And while we labor, would you tell me a little more about yourself? It is so rare I get the chance to acquaint myself with such a beautiful flower. Are you part of a.. pack, now, is that the word?"

--

"Mmh," is her simple monosyllabic response to his reminder about the privisions when one has Faith. While she was a church-going child (a Sunday School attendee), she lacks a theologians knowledge and zealousness.

She takes a moment to unstrap her messenger bag and put it on the floor to one side, tucking the rolls of duct tape into her oversized overall pockets and picking up the outermost piece of plywood. A once-over is given the arrangement of the window -- which neither reaches all the way to the floor, nor the ceiling, just a centered portal to the outside world -- before she elects to tuck the sheet of plywood behind the vertical blinds. Eight or ten inches of excess tape is applied to the wall to the left side of the first blind, and then she applies it across the window with a familiar SHRRRRK! of adhesive being exposed from the roll, her free hand walking the tape across the way until she can repeat the excess on the other side. And then the process is repeated three more times up the height of the window, blinds and board taped down.

She works diligently, with an eye for detail, patching a knothole here and a chink there with extra pieces of tape. As she works, she talks.

"Johnny and me, that's my ex-boyfriend, we came down from Chicago. The Pure Ones up there were in an uproar and one of them had a mean on for Johnny and he sent one of his goons to try to rough me up. So we had to kill him; he was a cannibal, though, so I think don't the world will miss him. We had to leave or Throat Slicer was going to kill me and rape me and he didn't say what order."

Such is the start of her tale.

--

A zealot Michael surely is, and a theologian, besides. A mortal life spent in faith and falling accustoms one to such easy adoption of religious purpose when faced with eternal damnation.

He watches in silence as the pretty little grease-monkey works, her long and clever fingers of particular interest, the way they bend and the grace with which they flutter. There is something admirable in the exertions of the human form, a pleasure to be had in observing fine specimens operating in the capacity they are best at. Such a sight stirs the man to interest, finally shifting his stilled posture, both hands upon the rails of his chair as he watches intently.

"When you mention someone, give me their full name as you know it, and inform me if they are mortal; if not, tell me what you believe them to be," the Ventrue casually mentions, his will plucking at her heartstrings. "Begin your story again from the start."

--

She raises up to her tiptoes so she can study the higher up portion of that window's plywood, double-checking it for holes. Mustn't take a chance that a stray beam of sunlight will fry her newfound bestie!

"Johnny Begood was my boyfriend. We knew each other from when we were kids; he was my brother Carter's best friend. Carter's a wolf-blood, like me. But he's in prison right now," Axle says, her tone matter-of-fact. It's a concept with which she has had time to come to terms. Another little piece of tape is placed over a suspect section of the wood. Satisfied with this window, she moves across to retrieve another piece of plywood, moving the others out of her way, leaning them against one of the chairs at the little round corner table.

"Johnny is... Johnny is..."

She trails off in the middle of the thought and stands at the window, looking at the tape in her hands as if unsure of what on Earth is happening. After a moment she looks over her shoulder and turns around, blinking slowly, looking around the room. A small frown comes to that pretty red mouth.

"Uhm. Sorry. Someone must have slipped me an Edible at Emmet's." She trails off a second time and glances at him and then over at the first window she taped over, down at the roll of duct tape in her hands. The frown becomes a scowl. But the expression is not directed at Michael. It starts to fade and she mutters, "Fucking Rev. I bet he slipped me a mickey."

--

Well, isn't that interesting. The repetition of his name, the stammering and trailing off in both vocalization and physical deed, all are signs that some aspect of this command was deeply unsettling to little miss Sofia's psyche. Is it some form of supernatural compulsion that stills her tongue, or is her memory of him so sacred that betraying it is anathema to her? These questions linger in the back of Michael's mind as he watches.

When she finally turns to see Michael, she will see there a frightened-looking homeless man, knuckles white and clinging tight to the rails of his chair, his breathing coming in short, nervous spurts, his face flush and sweat beading on his brow. He stares at her as though she's done something terrible. "P-please don't hurt me, miss," he requests, gentle, watching her, waiting for that moment he can catch her eyes again. "I don't know why you made me come here."

--

She's a thief. An accomplice to murder. A foul wolf-blood of the wildest calibre! But she's not mean to poor, unfortunate souls. Bitch isn't Ursula!

Axle softens when she spies Michael over in his chair, and a modicum of her muddled memories claw to the surface; he needed help with his wheelchair. She looks at the tape once more -- at the windows... One of them is taped shut for God's sake! Her features drop into a moue of surprise.

"Did I... kidnap you? Jesus Christ!" she hotly blasphemes, the tape hurriedly put away in her pocket and the plywood put down on the floor, eyes flicking down to her hands as if seeing those monkey fingered bad boys for the first time.

--

The blood is flowing now like a mortal man, that deceptive cloak God allowed His monsters turning Michael into a picture-perfect vision of humanity. The pupils dilate; the odor of his body, surprisingly clean, now carries on his sweat. Beneath those lumpen, oversized clothes, his broad chest rises and falls in tune with the bellow of his diaphragm. In movement, now, the man's size is clearer, more pronounced than when he was a still and dead clump of meat. He must have been strong, once, those thick, vein-laced forearms creeping out from his sleeves, his rounded beer-gut still with a healthy bit of muscle on it. The wide shoulders, the almost-perfect V shape --

Oh, he once must have been strong, before whatever disaster crippled him and moved him to vice. But now he sits helpless, trapped by Axle, no doubt, a-frightened and a-menaced. How dare she do.. whatever she did? So cruel. So very cruel.

Michael is tempted to drag that out. But then she blasphemes, and well, that cannot be. "What a curious thing I have witnessed," he drawls, and she watches, still self-aware, as that frightened mask melts away. "Your will is stronger than I thought, my sweet Sofia."

--

The tape is put away now. She can't hurt him anymore. With duct tape. Fell monster that she is, she must have planned to tear the hairs from his forearms.

Ahem.

Axle starts to walk over to him, her chin cast down in consternation and guilt, her steps carefully chosen as if she were stalking a terrified bunny. It's not until she stops at a mite further than arm's length away that she raises her chin to tell him, "Dude, I don't know what's happening," and he'll be able to snare her again since she makes eye contact. Not meant to linger there -- as before, she's careful about trying to challenge an Alpha.

--

"I have bound you, sweet Sofia, in servitude and submission," the Kindred nakedly admits, steepling his fingers before him, elbows poised comfortable on the armrests of his chair. "You have been chained to a superior will, that I might make use of you as befits my purposes." He smiles, and curls a finger from afar. "Raise your head, girl, and look at me," he instructs, and her head rises, and she looks, and he decides that is Good and Right. "Look at me until I tell you to stop." The oppressive weight of his words demands obeisance, puppets limbs with the mind is unwilling. "I have graced you with a taste of my holy blood, and now it churns in your guts like a serpent, making your heart mine. If I wanted to, I could break your spirit in two, and make you love me more than any other; make you die for, kill for me, fall to your hands and knees to revere me and pleasure me."

He lets out a laugh, self-amused.

"But I'm not going to. Stand still, though, don't want you trying to run."

--

Her brows furrow as he speaks thusly. There's a war going on again, down deep in her psyche where it'll never make it to the surface. She's guilty. She's not guilty. He's a beloved friend. He's a conquering, fanatical monster!

That chin raises as he bids her to look at him; she does so. Those soft brown doe-eyes stare at him from below jetty lashes, comically thick brows that aren't of an inappropriate size when coupled with the rest of her sharp features. Axle, Sofia, is deeply in his spell again and she has given him further ammunition in the mere breaking of his control -- he can pinpoint just what rent his power.

She stands still; not inanimate; her chest rises and falls behind the bib of her overalls as she breathes in and out through her nostrils. Naturally dark pink lips are slightly parted as she continues to keep him locked in her gaze with all the permanence of a rubbernecker cruising past a bloody wreck.

And she's silent, too.

--

"When our time in this fine place together ends, you will not remember what happened," Michael cautions her. She can see it now, as he's animated by the blood -- the heaviness of his eyes, as he roams them across her, stripping her with his gaze with such naked and shameless force it's though his hands marched down her curves like jackbooted soldiers. Soaking her in like she's more than the blood he took, but meat, too, predatory and claiming.

But he does not move, and he does not touch her, merely looks. He lifts his gaze to hers and smiles. "I am a wicked man, miss Sofia. A monster, punished for my weakness in life, and my embracing of sin. But I have seen my purpose, and realized my wickedness was part of God's plan. For what is Good without Evil? What is the reward of Heaven without the fear of Hell? Man must not be given salvation; he must earn it! And I am the wolf that ravages the sheep, the black-hearted price of sin that all mankind knows deep in their hearts."

His voice has risen, fiery and musical, with all the cadence of a southern preacher; he speaks like he's reciting poetry, like he's conveying the Word Almighty. His eyes burn.

"I am a wicked man, miss Sofia, but God willed it so. And I am here to watch the souls of this city, to measure and to judge. But unlike the Spirit, I have but two eyes, and need recruit from the flock. And so shall I shape you, work the dumb dust and clay that animates, and render you a worthy vessel."

--

"You're not wicked," Axle chimes in, because it has been laid in her heart that he's Wise and Good and Important and all the other positive traits. (Even if she must contradict him to make this pronouncement.) She falls silent once more and continues to watch him perform for her, because that is what it is in the end, isn't it? A work of art to ensorcel her mind and spirit and bend her to his will, prepare her to be one of his spies, as part of his flock.

--

For a spell, Michael impresses his will upon miss Sofia's pliable mind. The indoctrination is a prolonged affair, though fortunately not half so long as significant memory alterations. Two commands, buried deep in her mind, so deep she does not even know they are there, could not betray their existence if forced under torture or her closest love's most desperate of pleas. A foundation erected for future manipulations, transforming the wild wolf into an obedient bitch -- at least under certain controlled circumstances.

"It is safer this way, you see, miss Sofia," he mentions at one point. "For in you I sense a great wellspring of emotion, of attachment to a certain man. And you are a wolf-girl, besides, and the Lord knows your bestial kin have a way of sniffing out oddities. As much fun as I'd have leading you to ruin and sin under my shadow, making you writhe and moan blasphemy, I suspect it would endanger my holy mission. Your friends would notice if you became an adoring, worshipful slave, wouldn't they?"

He chuckles.

"A shame for you, truly; there could be no greater satisfaction than submission to my works. You must suffer separation, sweet girl, for the greater good. Now, you are going to leave this place, and navigate yourself back home, whereupon you will tuck in to bed and sleep -- what madness keeps a girl up at this ungodly hour?"

He clicks his tongue once. "You did not come here. You repaired an old man's wheel, and then he thanked you and left. We did not speak beyond that."

--

Soundtrack: Rolling Stones - You Can't Always Get What You Want