Logs:Old Habits and New Beginnings

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Old Habits and New Beginnings


Characters: Louis and Odile
Date: 2019-11-29
Summary: Louis secures an interesting investment in Odile, and she fills him in on the break-in at Dr. Struppweiss' residence and what she and Rhys obtained from that excursion.
Disclaimers: {{{disclaimers}}}

She isn't all too worried about Louis' choices in the end, but they do require a visual inspection and so she decides to meet him in one of the properties that she had picked out - located somewhere in the French Quarter and in one of its taller buildings that would provide her with the river view that she wants. The showing is in the late afternoon, of course, right on the cusp of twilight - the earliest she could even deign to get herself out of bed.

An elegant leg steps out of her Lincoln towncar once her hired driver opens the door for her, rising in the dangerous heels that she favors. Today finds her in Ralph Lauren windowpane sheath dress with white pinstripes so thin, they look almost gray, tailored to her slender figure, the lines of it making her look taller and even more lissome than she actually is. Trust a Mirroskin to use optical illusions for devastating effect. The skirt, as always, rises no higher than below the knee. No stockings today - a military-style, double-breasted black coat with decorative epaulets is draped over her shoulders without donning the sleeves. Her signature wide-brimmed hat and pearls complete the look.

An impeccably manicured hand clutches the handle of a leather portfolio as well as a box tucked underneath her arm; the ill-gotten gains of her and Rhys' raid in Professor Struppweiss' home, long digits drumming absently against it in a pattern that only she could discern. There's barely a glance at the doorman who greets her with a smile and opens the door for her, as always relatively dismissive of hired help unless she has a reason to engage them. Otherwise, they are invisible to her...usually.

Odile's hidden eyes sweep over the lobby for her friend, and when she finds him, there is a ready smile, the air-kissed greeting; cinnamon and a hint of cloves, buttressed by the earthy notes of fallen Autumn leaves. "I have things for you, but first, shall we take a ride up top? I'm dying to see the view in person."

--

Louis is habitually early, and today is no exception. He's been around for a few minutes, at least, and has already managed to get deep into discussion with a couple of other men in the lobby. Although he is the only dark-skinned man of the trio, their suits and gravely intense expressions could be triplets as they discuss local real estate trends, and the ongoing impacts of the hurricane on population and local markets. When Odile enters, though, he makes his goodbyes with polite quickness, suggesting that he'd been keeping an eye on the door.

He approaches with a warm smile, accepting the air kiss and returning on of his own, a subtle hint of green growing and fresh blooms in the air around him. "A vision of grace, as always." He extends his arm to her in a silent offer, the things she's carrying getting a brief, interested look. He doesn't reach for them, though. Instead, he says, "But of course. I look forward to seeing your reaction. It has a lovely view." When she takes his arm, he leads them both towards the elevators, taking on the burden of doing all the tedious button pressing on the way up to the penthouse lofts.

--

There is inquisitive interest in her eyes when Odile espies her friend's tall, well-dressed figure speaking with the two others while she approaches, but she makes no move to actually engage his companions in conversation. Those hidden eyes do follow them when they move away before Louis and his auroras of beautiful color take up the lion's share of her exacting attentions. A radiant smile at the compliment, and she even gives him a performer's bow, which once never failed to produce a standing ovation back in the day. "Mon ami," she murmurs, taking a deep and appreciative whiff of the air around him. "You smell like a distant but pleasant dream. Were we in a city with a proper freehold, I would be telling you how much I look forward to your brethren presiding." Spring, after all, is very far away.

Light fingertips rest in the crook of his arm when he offers it in readiness, as always appreciative of every genteel and gentlemanly gesture. Thin heels click on the marble floors as they walk, slipping through the double doors of the private elevators with him. He would sense her assessment; not just the decor and architecture but the intricacies of access as her slender silhouette glides past reflective panels, wisps of shadow and smoke following her mostly shrouded figure, curling like a trailing black gown behind her, and unfurling like the wings and feathers she had shed a long time ago.

"I can't wait to see it," she tells him; she is always eager whenever buying something particularly expensive, with its share of risk. There's a warm squeeze in his arm as they ascend up the floors that lead to something that is inevitably grand. "And once we're there enjoying said view, I must tell you about our little adventure in the lady professor's home. Did I mention that she is recently deceased? A very tragic and ridiculously timely car accident. She was buried just this weekend. We did the only thing we could, when we heard. Or...I heard." A graceful wave of her hand. "You know me, my dear. I wouldn't be where I am if I didn't know how to do some very meticulous homework."

The elevator dings when they reach the penthouse floor, stepping with him once its doors open.

--

Louis grins at the compliments. And with a hint of eagerness underneath them. "May I confess that I can't wait for Mardi Gras? If we have a sizable contigent of my Verdant brethren, it will be a night to remember." He doesn't interrupt her assessment; there's no anxiety or eager-to-please attitude in his posture as he gestures her into the loft. He just lets her draw her own conclusions about the place - it is elegant, although still with a bit of the baroque French influence and creole sensuality in the woodwork. Newly constructed, but made to feel as if it fits in with the buildings in the French Quarter, with soundproof windows that do, in fact, have a magnificent view.

When begins discussing the professor, he turns to study her, instead of the apartment, and smiles. "And the only thing you could do was…?" He sounds amused; he's fully expecting something dramatic and possibly terrible. But also terribly entertaining.

--

"It seems as if there are more and more arriving. There must be something about New Orleans that inspires said verdant brethren to linger in droves. Not that I'm complaining, most of the time, you're all so very fun." Odile winks, letting him unlock the double doors that lead into the property before they're opened and she takes in all of the inherent design work with her usual, discerning eye. She glances down at the hardwood floors, the undoubtedly French nuances and details in its architecture. Her smile takes on a more melancholy bent when she takes in the large windows that fill the rooms with the red-gold filaments of the mostly-dead sun, and starlight that slowly overtakes it.

"I can't wait to look at the terrace," she tells him, passing a large room - empty, save for cream-colored walls. "If I mounted mirrors in there, perhaps I can dance in peace again, keep the old skills sharp. The dining room here, maybe?" She gestures to another large space. "Do I need an office, you think? Every modern woman has one these days, but what would I possibly keep in there, Louis? I might extend the master suite to envelope this room, instead, as additional closet space…"

Typical Odile that she's already rearranging everything to her liking, nevermind that she has yet to actually sign any papers, or fork over any funds. But when prompted regarding the professor, she laughs. "Why, break into her house while everyone else is out burying her and make off with a few ill-gotten gains, of course." She presents the portfolio she had brought with her and the box to him. "Voila. Rhys and I thought these could use your perusal - or rather, I thought these could use your perusal, and he agreed. Even with context, we can't make heads or tails of her data. There are dictaphone tapes in the box, as well as notes in her research - they look recent. I also viewed an interesting memory while I was teasing her personal safe to yield its secrets to me. What have you gotten mixed up in, mon ami?"

--

"Who could resist the charms of a city like this one?" Louis asks, with a bright and sunny sort of smile. "I admit that I'm surprised that so many of us came so early - I would have thought Summer would lead the vanguard, if I had to choose. But I'm not displeased." He drifts in her wake, his steps almost silent even without furniture and carpets to muffle them. "I think you should have an office. You might find something you want to become invested in. Or you might just enjoy setting it up as a decoy, and frustrate your enemies." Lightly teasing, there.

Her laughter and answer make him roll his eyes towards the ceiling, even though that's largely what he would have guessed, if he'd been asked. "At least it wasn't just a joyful diversion," he says, with a chuckle, as she proffers the portfolio. He takes it, puzzled. "What is this? And how did you find working with Rhys? Everything go all right?"

A shake of his head is the only answer to her last question, and he looks - briefly - as baffled as anyone.

--

"Of course you would say that," Odile tells him with a laugh, waving a hand in that same, effortlessly graceful way that seems part and parcel of her no matter the situation, as if embroiled in a never ending performance. Most would disregard it as frippery, just ingrained in the nature of an impossibly vain woman with an overinflated sense of importance. Not many know about the nature of her durance.

"If it was joyful, it was due to the challenge and the company. I think the vampire monsieur was surprised that I could change faces. As for these? Notes, as I said, and tapes - data that the professor was working on, but I don't particularly have a background in Academia, and neither does Rhys. You're the only one we could trust to parse it, unless you can think of someone else who could." A tip of her head, mischief flaring brief, but crystal blue under her hat. "Working with the man is interesting. He's meticulous, able to come up with creative but straightforward solutions to last-minute complications and he's not unwilling to share information. All agreeable signs of a good partner in a heist."

Her visible scarlet lips turn upwards in a more mischievous smile. "He's surprisingly playful, outside of his more professional trappings."

--

"Of course I would say that," Louis echoes, with a smile of his own, indulgent, yes, but also genuinely fond. The supposed frippery doesn't seem to bother him; Spring of all the Courts knows about hiding depth in the appearance of shallow frivolity.

He turns thoughtful as she goes on. "Hm." Louis rarely frowns, and that expression doesn't cross his face, here, either. But his brow furrows, hinting at thought more than displeasure. "I don't have much of a background in research, myself. I can take a look at it. Or…" he blinks. "What about Professor Valentine? We met her at the Thanksgiving party? She would seem to be a good person for such things." He makes to offer the portfolio back. "And, unless I miss my guess, she's got the chill of Autumn around her, too."

His eyebrows go up at her assessment. "Not too dissimilar from my own thoughts. If he wasn't dead, I'd be happy to call him a friend. As it is, I am...cautiously enthused by the possibility. He's dangerous, but if he's sadistic, it hasn't come out, yet."

--

"She also crossed my mind," Odile tells her friend simply. "But as you asked me to assist you in this endeavor, I didn't want to just expand the circle of trust to include another without your leave. I haven't had much of a chance to interact with her, however, but if she's a fellow courtier, perhaps she'll lend her assistance." With a sigh, she unfolds her fingers to retrieve the portfolio from him. "We could accost her together, you know. I know how much you like making new friends."

Her manicure draws over the fine leather of her portfolio case, turning over Louis' own assessments. "You know how I feel about Kindred in general," she tells him. "And I wouldn't say that he's completely free of his brethren's general turn towards sadism - his chosen outlet for the rougher aspects of his nature lie in different vices." Not just gambling, it seems. "But he controls it better than most. He's been nothing but obliging - if you're looking for a cautionary exception to the rule, you can do much worse."

She stops at the double doors leading into the terrace, a more contemplative expression falling over the visible half of her face. "He's been fed one of us before," she tells him. "He claims it wasn't his choice, but the effects were severe. Not likely an experience he wants to repeat again, he didn't shudder in the retelling, but I sensed it."

--

Louis smiles, briefly. "I have a high school education from Harlem in the late nineteen-thirties. I've done all right since then, reading what I can, but if this is something that neither of you could make heads or tails of, I'd rather go to someone more likely to make sense of it the first try, than delay the matter." A pause. "I could go with you, sure. I wasn't sure if you wanted to make it a Court bonding exercise or not, but I /do/ like making new friends, and she seems lovely."

A simple nod at her feelings on vampires; whatever his are, he hasn't really disclosed them. He does, however, stop when she mentions that last. "...'been fed'. What a peculiar and disturbing turn of phrase. But, yes. I gather that it can be a bit of a," he snorts, "/trip/ for those who attempt it. It might make us highly desired prey for some of their kind...but he seems to value his self-control highly, so I can't imagine embracing it."

He steps forward to open the double doors, stepping out into the chilly air of the terrace and making a grand, flamboyant gesture to welcome her through.

--

"I could try," Odile replies to Louis. "But I've read some of the woman's work before in anticipation that I would have to converse with her on equal footing, and many of her past articles have nearly driven me to my own torpor." She eases the leather portfolio down against one of the walls, bracing it upwards there before they continue on with the tour. "And I tried listening to one of her tapes, but without context and background, it was difficult to parse. What was her name again? Valentine? Did she mention where she was teaching?" There's a small laugh, though, at his words about court-bonding, flashing him a look. "With us Autumnal courtiers? We might benefit from having a buffer," she observes, dryly, reaching up to affectionately adjust the man's bowtie if he allows her. "And you're a magnificent one."

There's a slender shrug. "Disturbing, yes, but most Kindred are. I like Rhys well enough, however, and I think he's at the very least curious about me - we get along, which is saying something for all my biases. I believe he was attempting to put me at ease at the time, to reassure me that I'm not chosen prey in that manner - that isn't to say that he wouldn't if he felt the need, he strikes me as a man who would do what's necessary to achieve his aims, but he would rather not, if that makes sense."

With the doors to the terrace opening, she steps out into it, to look at the array of lights sparkling like thousands of diamonds scattered over New Orleans' landscape. She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath of the chilly air from this height, and takes in the view. "You never cease to amaze," she tells him fondly. "The view is spectacular."

--

Louis shakes his head. "We didn't get that far, I fear. But it shouldn't be too hard to find her. There are only about a half a dozen universities in the city, and she teaches math and economics. Not subjects that tend to have a lot of women faculty." He doesn't stop her from adjusting the bow tie - but he does reach up and check it afterwards. It must be JUST SO.

"I think, for a vampire, he seems like good company. When we originally met, he could have threatened me off, or when he had the opportunity, he could have let me continue to be beaten as a distraction while he made off with the young man. He intervened, instead." He laughs. "Now, I'm sure a portion of that was curiosity, and another portion was not knowing if I might be able to handle myself and then come for him. But the fact that he intervened, no matter the motive, actually does mean a lot."

He closes the door behind her, then drifts to her side. "I didn't build the city, but I don't mind taking a little of the credit." A wink, when she looks his way. "I thought you might like it. Although if it doesn't suit, we can always continue down the list."

--

"For a vampire, he's very good company," Odile says with a laugh, tone inundated by a healthy degree of feminine slyness there, punctuating it with a cant of her head; enough for Louis to see the glint of a crystal-blue eye underneath the shadows of her hat, winking at him. "And not at all terrible to look at. Which I have you to thank for, and to blame, really, by all accounting. Expanding my horizons? How dare you. I thought we were friends."

She listens intently to the rest, under certain circumstances, she prefers to be the observer, though she doesn't opine on the rest of it. Instead, there's a certain air of waiting, so palpable that he'd be able to picture the expression she wears underneath her hat; the slight hooding in her gaze at the idea of threats levied on Louis' person - by mortals or others. It's a subtle twist in the air, the taste of writhing shadows tickling at the back of every supernatural sense.

It fades gradually, however, when she returns to the conversation at hand. "I suppose all it takes to find Professor Valentine is some good old fashioned legwork," she agrees, turning her face to regard him as he ventures into her shadow.

"It does suit," she confirms at last, after surveying the landscape before her, and visualizing how they must look, dressed the way they are, engaging in conversation several feet above everyone else. "I think I'll take it."

--

"What, the vampire?" Louis throws her a startled look, and then it turns to amusement. "I suppose he does have a sort of scruffy charm. A little cold-blooded for my tastes, pun intended, but if you're enjoying it, then my work here is done."

He seems oblivious to the turn in the air, aside from the slightest flick of a gaze. "I had a plan. There was a plan! Getting beaten in the face by a couple of human thugs was a part of the plan." A clearing of the throat. "At least, once it happened, I incorporated it into the plan. No point in wasting a good opportunity."

Her approval warms him visibly, his smile a bright thing, more of May than November and flowers bloom in his aura. "I'm glad, Odile. And I'm glad you're staying. You know that, right? There are few who I'd rather have around under the circumstances. Or any circumstances."

--

"I adamantly refuse to touch him or get within such a distance of him without...what he does. That thing. Whatever sorcery allows him to be human for a time." Odile waves a hand sideways, as if to dismiss the notion with a physical gesture. "The freedom to choose has been long denied us, Louis. I don't know about the depths of your own revelations, but now that I've reclaimed it, I intend to use it as much as I can. Second chances at life come rarely, I'd rather not be reminded of how close we all came to dying." Her tone carries an edge, as sharp as an obsidian blade, but after a breath, that cool, marble control returns, head tilted back into its usual, imperious angle - easily the most untouchable thing in the room, if she was ever so inclined to be isolated in such a manner.

Her aura gentles by the increments after that. "Besides, my curiosity has burned me for less." Her smile turns slow and feline. "I wouldn't be who and what I am now if I didn't indulge it at every opportunity."

His protests about his plan earns him a bright laugh, teeth flashing like pearls under burgeoning starlight as she tips her head at him. "I'm the last person to judge when it comes to improvisation, but we already talked about how utterly imperative it is that you take care of your face, and as you know, my impulse control is very poor when I'm displeased and hungry." Her fingers lift, watching small crackles of lightning dance between those graceful appendages. "...or when I'm just displeased," she murmurs softly.

He means it, at least, when he says what he does. There's a faint, strange turn to her smile when she regards him then. "Well, of course you are," she tells him simply with a laugh. "I think you rather relish someone pestering you to wow her with your cooking once in a while. I still dream about the chicken with truffles you made for us the night we parted. You're a wonderful friend, indeed, to oblige me in such a manner." She leans in then, to press a warm kiss close to the corner of his mouth, if he allows.

"In all seriousness, I'm glad to have found you here, also. Demitrius also, in a way. Small world, that. But I suppose…" She tilts her head back in thought. "I can't help but wonder what happened. He was mortal, when I met him."

--

Louis studies Odile for a long moment. "I'm the last one to discourage someone from an illusion that makes them comfortable. Just be careful, if you decide to indulge, hm? Those folks have ways to lay chains that not even we can easily break." Then he laughs. "And, of course, I would never ask a lady to kiss and tell, but I admit to some curiosity. Before coming here, mostly I just tried to stay out of the orbit of the Kindred. Some of them are like Spring, on the surface - decadent and passionate. But it's all cold underneath."

"Have you not been harvesting, Odile?" Louis murmurs, concern touching his merry features. "You know that you should. Pick up some desire or joy or anger at the club some evening. That's one of the reasons the club is //there//, you know." He doesn't protest the kiss at the corner of his mouth - although it does highlight one of the reasons they rarely touch. His skin is odd, cool and slick like polished stone, despite the warmth beating under it, and the way it bends without difficulty. It is, perhaps, closer to the vampire's skin than he's ever comfortable admitting.

"I do relish your company, pestering or no pestering." A grin, then, and he moves to lean against the bannister, one hip casually posed on the railing as he studies her. "Is that what that was about? I had been wondering. I met him after. Helped him get a few things set up."

--

"Secrets are what they are, my dear Louis," Odile banters lightly with a faint quirk of her lips upward. "But should I decide to indulge, I'll keep your warnings to heart. Like you, I've stayed away from Kindred, mostly...they were largely hindrances to my work abroad than actual associates. Rhys is the first who's interested me over the hurdles of my omnipresent wariness, though…" There is a pause, and while brief, her friend would be able to catch the rare glimmer of uncertainty in the visible half of her face. "I can't shake the feeling that I knew him, once upon a time. Something about him is familiar."

Another moment or two before she waves a hand again; memories are complicated puzzles to her and at the moment, she is reluctant to dwell upon them when the present is so much more interesting. If Louis' complexion is one that causes her some discomfiture, she doesn't show it, and it's likely that it doesn't at all; her reasons for being physically distant despite her clear and surprisingly sincere affection are different from his own.

"Only once since I arrived," the ex-ballerina admits, the confession drawn out of her by his overt concern. "I try to give it a purpose, when I do, and you know how I prefer my sustenance to come from elsewhere. It's the curse of being extremely exacting about everything." Nothing sustains her more efficiently than Fear, and it is in many ways one of the most difficult to harvest. "But yes, I know. The next time I visit, I'll make sure to fill up. I'm not doing too badly at the moment. Have I mentioned what a fantastic idea it was? Putting Salome where it is? I managed to observe its surroundings for a while when I was waiting for you to conclude your business that first night." Blue eyes flash approvingly from under her hat. "Brilliant."

With their young mutual acquaintance caught in their crosshairs now, she lifts her slender shoulders there. She drapes a white hand on the rail, body tilted to face him fully. "He and I ran in similar social circles, his parents were quite affluent. Born with a silver spoon in his mouth, that one. I thought about marking his family, but another scheme caught my attention and things...changed. Either way, he found my company flattering. He was a budding photographer already even then, he kept asking me to be his model for a few shoots until I finally obliged him." She finds her cigarette case in her purse, drawing one out and slipping it between her lips.

"Whatever happened to him must've occurred after I left," she tells him. "I intend to get the story but I'm not certain what details he'll impart." She tilts that smile towards Louis again. "Even with the memories of his old affections intact."

--

Louis raises an eyebrow, reaches up to adjust his glasses. "It's not impossible. He said that he became a 'true bloodsucker' in the thirties, but I know careful language when I hear it. You may have met him before that." He chuckles at her talk of harvesting, and adds lightly, "You know I don't mean to hover, my dear. I just don't want to see you bereft, even if you're more than strong enough to handle it." He cocks his head at her, thoughtfully. "And while I am warmed by your praise, always, I wonder what you see from where I chose to place the club? Other than the fantastically low property values."

The last makes him shake his head. "He's a charming fellow, that's for sure. I can only imagine he was even moreso as a mortal. Well, I'm glad he has familiar faces. Don't push him too hard? He...hm. Sometimes I worry about him. He's got a temper."

--

Nothing else about what she doesn't remember, save for a quiet chuff of breath, before the woman leaves the topic entirely.

Instead: "I don't particularly mind your hovering, even if I do complain loudly about it, I hope you know that it always comes from a place of affection," Odile replies with an open laugh, lighting up her clove stick and taking a deep inhale, though she doesn't exhale the smoke once she does. Lips simply part, letting the ghostly touch of the white-gray wisps curl over the shape of them, to drift and entangle in the plumes of Arcadia's darker influence already swirling around her mien. In such a state, she rarely looks completely solid, nevermind that she feels corporeal enough, though glimpses of the feminine silhouette can be found now and then when shadows twist over her frame like something alive; as if naked were it not for the night.

"I witnessed more than a few back alley transactions occurring that night, so the low property values are quite understandable," she replies. "And as for Demitrius...a Summer now, I think. He was unseasonably warm just standing near him, even moreso when he touched me. So the temper isn't too surprising. I'll do my best not to aggravate him." A curious glance towards Louis. "You mentioned you assisted him after he made his way through?"

--

"Oh, good. Because I don't plan to stop. I just hoped it didn't bother you too much," Louis says, blithe and light of spirit. As obliging as he can be, his wants always come first in his personal priority list, and clearly, hovering over Odile when he can is something he wants.

He watches her with dark eyes, difficult to read under the near perpetual merriment that he keeps close around him. "Yes, there are certainly some opportunistic elements." A pause. "But the area is starting to get gentrified. Which is great for the property values, but usually ends up pushing out the people who don't have anywhere else to go except somewhere worse. I hire neighborhood locals, especially the ones who can't get hired because they've done a nickel or a dime along the way. And I pay them well. Insurance, the whole mess. So they can afford to stay, if they want to make something of themselves as the neighborhood turns." A pause. "It's only an opportunity. It's not charity."

That part seems important to him. "And yes, I helped him out with a few things. Putting him in touch with people who could help him out in more detail, mostly. He badly wants a wing to shelter under, and I was never much of a mother hen." Despite the hovering. And the not-charity. He pushes himself off the railing. "At any rate, my dear...I should be heading out, at least for the moment. But if this is your choice, then I'll have the papers all drawn up, and you can sign them tomorrow."

--

"You better not," Odile returns with a broader smile. "Stop, that is."

There's a quiet moment in which she does nothing but listen and watch. Any of the Lost could easily mistake her as a Fairest, but it is this propensity to observe when something or someone needs observing is when her true transformed nature becomes more overt. There's absolutely nothing but that sharp, razorblade focus up until Louis finishes his explanations, and it is only then that she reanimates, discarding her cigarette and pushing away from the rails.

"Despite the hovering and the non-charity?" his elegant companion posits with a smile. "Though there's something to be said about tough love when it's required. He'll grow faster that way." To his hopes for Salome and where he has placed it, she opines very little, but there's a faint glimmer of pride that can be detected on her aura.

"Yes, please. I'll review them once drawn up, it shouldn't take more than a day. I'll have the funds prepared also." She takes a step next to him. "We'll part at the lobby, and thank you for finding this for me. Let me know when we should accost the lovely professor, non? Certainly she can find the time to join us both for a cup of coffee."