Logs:Strategic Planning

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Strategic Planning


Characters: Louis, Rhys, Odile
Date: 2019-11-17
Summary: Odile informs Louis of the murder house's investigative duo, and Louis introduces her to Rhys, the other involved person embroiled in its events.
Disclaimers: {{{disclaimers}}}

Salome, despite not having a grand opening, is still pretty busy - curious locals and a few people who traveled after hearing about the club are in the main area. The staff is still very new at their jobs (observant people might notice that they're clearly not used to having club jobs, and would also probably notice a host of prison and gang tattoos that are being covered up by the elegant uniforms) but they're learning fast, and service is improving by the moment. Louis is currently in the front room, watching the quartet performing on the stage. They're more on the blues side than jazz, perhaps, but are close enough to the middle that he's deemed them appropriate for the club. Like the staff, they look like they're learning - this is probably one of their first gigs. They've got skill, though.

Louis is dressed in his usual evening wear - a three-piece suit that stands out for its pale jacket and slacks, while the waistcoat is black silk with green accents, and his bowtie is also green. For those who see under the Mask, his colors are pulsing bright, twisting in hypnotic spirals and bursting into small auroras of light under his skin.

--

She is a stark contrast to Louis through both mask and mien; pale in the former, perpetually shrouded in shadow in the latter. The enticing sound of the Blues would be enough to lure her in any other day, but as it stands, she hardly ever sees the man for pure social calls. Her slender, elegant form makes its way through the doors in long-legged strides, clad in black Valentino today - it hugs her form, with a high collar and no sleeves, a perfect canvas for a choker of pearls and a matching bracelet on her left wrist. Even indoors, she wears her hat, pulled low enough to keep most of her face obscured save for the twists and smiles on a mouth painted with a lurid, glossy scarlet. There's a fur stole around her shoulders, to ward away the chill of the Autumn, also in black; mink or fox fur, most likely, graceful fingers curled over a clutch purse.

"They're catching on quick," Odile observes to Louis when she finds the man; he stands out in her senses, due to familiarity and color. Visible lips turn up in an inviting smile, pressing a kiss in the air by his cheek - you can take the girl out of Paris, but not Paris out of the girl. "Where do I park myself, Louis? We do need to chat, after all."

--

A cab pulls up around the block and admits a shadow to the neighbourhood. It keeps its head down and barely a passerby recalls a thing about it, other than that it obviously belonged where it was and warranted no further inspection. It whirled around the block twice at a steady, walking clip before admitting itself through the front door. Inside, the veil of obfuscation falls away and the shadow becomes a kindred - or, rather, an apparent mortal to most sorts.

The new staff aren't the only ones concealing a background atypical of such venues. Rhys is in a wool pea coat, navy blue - nearly black in dim light. He's wearing black slacks as well, held fast by a thin leather belt - faux-oxfords on his feet, of a steel toed variety. There's a hint of a dress shirt and tie at his collar (white and black respectively). Though, he's no less scruffy than usual otherwise. He could be a roadie dressed for the venue, a security guard hired through some obscure PMC. But there is one key difference - the hue of his flesh, less corpselike. There's even a heartbeat for those with the ear to hear it. He goes to the bouncer for the VIP lounge rather than pull some invisibility trick. "Standing appointment with your boss. Rhys."

--

"Odile." Louis' smile is bright and he returns the air kiss without hesitation. An appreciative glance is given up and down her form, and he heaves a sigh. "I'd love to say 'park yourself wherever your heart desires', because anywhere you choose to land will only enhance the atmosphere tenfold. But, based on your voicemail, there's probably good cause to retire somewhere more private. Luckily, I have a back room that suits." He extends his arm with a flourish to lead her back towards the hall.

Only to see a familiar face already there. The bouncer glances over with relief when he sees Louis approaching. For his part, the club owner smiles warmly at Rhys. "Ah, wonderful. Reese." Look, he's never seen it spelled. "It's good to see you looking," a blink, "quite well. Have you met Miss Odile Devereux, yet? You should. Why don't we take a seat in the VIP room for a bit?"

--

"Perhaps I did ally myself in the wrong court after all. Sustaining myself would be all the easier if I was solely fueled by compliments," Odile banters to Louis, tipping her hat towards the direction in which he gestures, before following suit. "Then again, this wouldn't be the first time when you would be correct, and I would be less so. But yes. Discussion. And then later you can thank me properly for unbridling my curiosity just enough to stumble across this curious information." The words are brimming with confidence, but done lightly. She always sounds like she's teasing.

Her strides slow when she's introduced to... "Ah, yes. He's mentioned. Chance encounters can either be opportunities or liabilities to most, but I'm heartened to witness that the both of you seem to have elected to turn it into the former." A slim hand lifts in offerance towards the vampire. "Odile Devereux, monsieur. An old friend of Louis."

--

Rhys half-turns toward when said bouncer glances in Louis' direction, following that brief diversion in gaze - and turns the rest of the way, away from the bouncer when he notices the recipient of the look. The pays a dip of his head in response to the greeting; the most minute of nods. It's a far cry from the gestures paid between Louis and Odile. He looks toward the latter as she's introduced, his right brow quirking upward curiously. Maybe it's the Valentino dress - or, more likely, he's one of those supernatural sorts for whom a Lost's mask is pierced. Maybe it's even just the tendency toward French, in addition. "After the two of you," he replies, with concern to the VIP room.

He takes Odile's hand - his own, warm, on this public occassion. He gives a firm squeeze and shakes. Western. "A new acquaintance of the same," he replies before releasing her grasp. His countenance is difficult to gauge beyond the brow lift. Alert, yet bored, perhaps.

--

Louis has a quiet word with the bouncer - there aren't a lot of people with open invites to the VIP room just yet, but he clearly would rather none of them wander in. Then he leads the two back to the door, and opens it. This room is clearly oriented towards comfort and even a sort of understated decadence rather than the elegance-forward of the public areas. He smiles at them both, and gestures at the seating. "Wherever you're both most comfortable," he says. "And can I get anything for either of you?" Once the door is closed, he adds to Rhys, "I was speaking to Odile about some of the more interesting aspects of our excursion, and she happened to mention that she'd come across some information about this situation." A glance towards Odile. "Someone poking around, I think you said?"

--

Bands of shadow ripple over an unmistakably feminine silhouette through the mask; a sliver of luminous, reflective skin hear and there, passing over a mouth prone to smiles, but her 'true' face is somehow continuously obscured by the byplay between darkness and smoke, save for a single, glittering eye that is more silver than gray. Her own return touch is a delicate thing; there might even be some relief in her to find some facsimile of human warmth on Rhys' skin when he returns the handshake. "He's mentioned," Odile affirms. "Apparently the circumstances behind your meeting have been rather exciting, though if I'm right about the individual I'm about to tell the both of you, it's about to become all the moreso."

With the VIP room open to them, she doesn't need to be told twice to make herself comfortable. Her strides take her to the comfortable seating, unfurling her stole and folding it neatly, situating it on a place where drinks wouldn't accidentally spill on it. Crossing legs by the knee, the offerance of a drink has her smile tilting Louis' way again. "I wouldn't be opposed to a Pinot Noir," she tells him, absently smoothing her skirt over her knee. "And yes. Considering potential inquiries, I decided to look at the house and made the acquaintance of two very curious, but not all that uninformed mortals. Marshall Scott is one. You may know him as the Rotwood Reaper, the poor man who was falsely convicted of thirty-odd murders five years ago while he was a juvenile...now filthy rich due to the civil lawsuit he won regarding his wrongful imprisonment. The other is Lysander Gray." She lifts her head enough that the shadows part, momentarily, from underneath her hat, giving way to meet their gazes with eyes like blue diamonds. "A Keeper of the Accords."

--

A grunt at the notion that more excitement may follow. It's a sound that betrays very little with concern to how he feels about that. Rhys follows Louis and Odile with casual slowness, letting his gaze languidly sweep across the VIP room as they enter. He unbuttons his peacoat against the interior warmth to which his falsely alive skin is now much more sensitive and confirms that, yes, he is wearing a white dress shirt and a black tie plainly knotted in a Half Windsor. There's no holster under his arm. Though, previous experience may give Louis reason to expect that Rhys has a tendency toward pocketed compact handguns. He follows Louis' instruction and Odile's lead in finding a place to sit, and does so without much attempt at formal posture, sinking into his seat.

He looks from Louis to Odile at the reference to familiarity with said excursion, gaze sticking to her a little longer. It's a rare name, here, surely - Odile. But perhaps not in France. And back between the two at the mention of someone having been poking around. "None for me," he says, to the offer of drink. Maybe he doesn't expect anything that'll suit his tastes, present. His brows prove expressive once more, lowering as his attention returns to the subject of those poking around. By the end of it, at the mention of the latter's nature, his brows have eased back up. "Not something that needs dealing with?" he inquires.

--

Louis pours a Pinot Noir for Odile, and himself a complicated cocktail that involves twists of lime peel, mixing, shaking, and comes out in layers of color. Somehow. He takes the drink to Odile, and settles in with his own on one of the couches, although he doesn't properly lounge on it. "Why are they even interested?" he asks, with a faint frown. "I'm reasonably certain we didn't leave any signs of supernatural involvement. Are they cops, or reporters?" He takes a sip. "Do you think they're reasonable, or," a tilt of his head towards Rhys' question.

--

"Thank you, my dear," Odile murmurs, ever courteous, long digits plucking the wine glass offered to her before drawing the rim of the glass to her nose, to savor the bouquet before taking an experimental sip. "Mister Scott fancies himself to be a crusader," she tells her companions. "Understandable, perhaps. Imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit, I suppose he has more of a dedication to the truth now than he had before. He's a photographer, by trade, though my research indicates he's well known in the law enforcement sphere in the city. He's sometimes contracted to take crime scene photographs and while he's not a professional investigator, he's an able one enough to be a concern if the both of you want to keep this quiet, I think. He's surprisingly intelligent." She inclines her head towards them. "I know for a fact that he intends to speak with Mister Lorraine the moment he's recovered in the hospital, in search for an additional assailant." Outside of the ones that Louis and Rhys had encountered.

"Mister Gray's interest in the matter extends to the fact that he is considering a sponsorship for Mister Scott, as he is interested in signing the Accords - but he'll need to pass a test, given his...status." She waves a pale hand sideways. "Mister Scott is determined to pass it by his own merits, which means that Mister Gray is presently instructing him in the ways of the Occult. Those are the present connections, monsieurs. Mister Scott because unsolved crimes interest him, and Mister Gray because Mister Scott interests him. I'm not quite certain whether either will be a problem, but I believe that the situation bears monitoring. Mister Gray was able to catch onto the fact that some supernaturality was involved in the crime scene, but thankfully that is beyond Mister Scott's expertise to parse." Ice-blue eyes glint there, lips pressing gently against her glass. "For now, at least."

--

The blush of life doesn't make Rhys' gaze any more comfortable. The palest of blues and piercing - with an even greater contrast against the hue of lively color that the infusion of vitae and blood has brought out in his flesh. He looks to Odile alongside Louis' unfinished question, curious as to that same end. He watches as she prolongs the experience of her wine with the detachment of someone who has long since forgotten the full experience of the beverage - at least, firsthand. A drinker of drunkards. He listens.

"There's nothing for us to learn from Jason Lorraine," he says. There's a gravelly quality to his voice. Maybe he was a smoker before the embrace. He weighs the rest of it, internally - eyes never quite losing that alert quality, as he drifts into thought. "A crusader may be difficult. But there's room for leverage against his probably sponsor, where the Accords are concerned," he says. "We may want to know if he closes in on the other survivor - the member of the crew." A holding pattern for now. "What clued them in on the supernatural?" he asks, edge of curiosity making its way into his otherwise bored sounding tone.

--

Louis frowns over his glass. "Aside from any risk to us, there's the risk to them to be considered. I assume that a Keeper of the Accords would be relatively able to protect himself, but this photographer? One human has already been kidnapped and tortured. If whoever ordered that gets wind of people poking around, that could go badly for this Mister Scott." He sighs. "Odile, do you think the Keeper would be amenable to a meeting with me? I could attempt to explain the situation and gain his assistance in keeping Mister Scott occupied with less...endangering activities." Although Rhys' question is one he shows interest in, himself.

He adds, "I've followed the, uh, address? In the Google. It's a marketplace site with, as far as I can tell, a specialty for illegal and unusual services and goods."

--

"A 'sixth sense', if I had to guess," Odile replies, something rueful entering the twist of her mouth as her shadowed face turns to regard Rhys. "Mister Gray touched nothing in the scene, but was able to detect it. He is mortal, but not just - he looks as if he is in his twenties, but I know for a fact that he is older than he looks." She does not clarify how, nor is she inclined to explain it at the moment when she tips her glass to her mouth again and savors her wine, unwilling to waste any drop of enjoyment. "Interesting men, the both of them, and in very different ways."

There's a slight shifting in her seat, to make herself more comfortable; there's an indolence to the way she arranges herself on the couch, though whether it is by habit or design, it is difficult to tell. Her past is an imminent ghost by way of her grace, when every movement is so effortlessly performed. "I believe he would. If nothing else, he was only in this in an effort to save Mister Scott from...whatever troubles he might get into. But he's not Accorded yet, and he may very well be amenable to the idea of not losing an investment so early."

There's a pause at her wine's nursing. "Anything I might be familiar with, then, if it trades in illegal and unusual services and goods?" she wonders. "What is it called?"

--

"You didn't need Tor? I didn't think it'd be an indexed site," Rhys asks after Louis, at the mention of following the address. The corpse, having kept apparently more than just passingly familiar with the adoption of new technologies among the kine. Additionally, he seems amenable to the idea of Louis having a chat with the aforementioned Keeper - another subtle nod indicates this.

The notion of a sixth sense - and the unaging mortal - seems to satisfy his inquiry. He doesn't follow up with concern to how their involvement was detected. Rather, he asks, "Will he be an issue if you two make the effort, and his investment still needs dealing with?" His alert gaze moves from the shadows of Odile to the light of Louis as he follows the former's return question back to the latter.

--

"Hm," Louis murmurs. "How does it go? There is more in the world than is dreamt of even in our philosophies?" He flashes a grin. "They sound worth getting to know, regardless of their collision with our accidental excursion." At Odile's question, he says, "I don't know - I still do all my business through traditional channels. The anonymity is nice, but I don't really trust that anything is actually anonymous. The site was called Westbrook Community Upcycling. The, uh, front page? Is tremendously boring and suburban, claiming to be a community exchange for a small town in Wisconsin. The town exists, but I suspect any of us could examine some of the listings and find...certain irregularities. Or Wisconsin housewives are very much attracted to large shipments of meth. I don't judge." The site doesn't ring any immediate bells for Odile.

Louis, meanwhile, gives Rhys a blank look. "I don't know what any of those words mean. Except 'site'. I have a very good computer and I," he wiggles his fingers evocatively, "and then just fiddled until it worked." If he wasn't a Wizened, he probably would have left a wreckage of technology behind him. "But if you actually know how to use those damned machines, you're welcome to explore it. I didn't do more than browse, and that just to confirm it existed, in case our fled friend was deceiving us." He quiets at Rhys' last question, turning his attention back to Odile.

--

"I've never heard of it, but it sounds so ridiculously boring that it's doing stellar work in swimming under the radar," Odile laughs, her smile white and brilliant when it angles towards Louis' way. "I'm not all that familiar with technology myself - nothing to the point that could peel through the layers of code, anyway." For Rhys' benefit, she elucidates, "Like Louis, I prefer to deal with people. In similar ways, and not-so-similar." Mention of the drug trade being involved, however, gets a visible wrinkling of an elegant nose. "Well, neither do I. I suppose if you're a bored, middle-aged housewife in Wisconsin, meth might just be the thing to prevent you from murdering an ungrateful husband and noisy children."

Fingers and their perfect manicure drum gently on the table. "Lysander strikes me as a people pleaser," she allows after a moment's contemplation. "Overall, I think he would be reasonable. And honestly? I believe so is Mister Scott. If approached correctly, I believe both could be amenable to a few arrangements." She reaches into her clutch purse, opening it up and retrieving a card. This, she offers to Louis first - it bears the man's name: Marshall Scott, as well as his occupation and phone number.

To Louis, she smiles. "Is the female professor at Tulane also a trail you would still wish to pursue?" she wonders.

--

A sharp exhale. Maybe something slightly approaching a chuckle at the tenuous connection of suburban midwestern housewives and large quantities of meth. Rhys countenance doesn't give any hints there. He squints, though, when Louis mentions 'fiddling'. Familiar enough with the Lost to know them capable of strange paths. He explains, a bit, all the same, "Dark sites are dark only in the sense that you can't - or, can't usually - connect to them through a search engine or your typical browser. They're like unlisted numbers that you can't call from a standard telephone." Pause. More for effect than any need to breath (beyond having oxygen to send across his vocal chords and carry the words he speaks). "Tor is the 'telephone' you need in order to connect." He doesn't need to explain why this would be handy for less than legitimate enterprises. "I'm not that kind professional, but-" The implication being that he'll look into it, as well.

His gaze follows the showing of a card, offered to Louis. Another grunt indicates his position - cautious but amenable - where the two digging into the murders are concerned. "I think she's worth following up on," he states, with regard to the professor at Tulane, when Louis is asked.

--

Louis takes the card, giving it a look. "I'll see if I can't arrange a conversation with the young man. Feel him out, first, then see if we need to try and work through the Keeper, or if we can bargain with him directly. If he's aiming to join the Accords, then I suspect that a deal can be made. He'll want friends if he's going to play in dangerous waters." He smiles at Odile. "Unless you'd like to take point on it? You are, I admit, more charming than I when it suits you."

He puts his glass aside, stands up, and goes over to a desk where he pulls out a piece of paper. He lightly sketches the address and the e-mail that they got from the thug, and offers this to Rhys. "Here you are. I don't know what to do with the e-mail thing at all, other than send a message saying, 'Hi, let's talk about your criminal activities', and that seemed a bit vulgar." As he sits down, he adds, "I agree. Let's investigate the professor, and see if we can get an idea of what's on this flash drive that someone is willing to hire others to kill for. And do so professionally."

--

She listens to this brief primer on the 'Tor', head cocking like an inquisitive bird's when Rhys provides his explanation, though the sound of what seems like a chuckle draws a slow smile from her visible mouth. She takes a sip of her wine, though she doesn't remark any further on meth-addled housewives. She is clearly amused, however, but considering Rhys is the most able among the three of them to parse the technology, she is content to leave the issue in his hands.

Regarding the young Marshall Scott? "Oh, no, darling. I think it's your turn to put your delicate thumbscrews to him," Odile replies with another soft laugh. "Though if you would like me to keep an eye on him, I certainly can. Given his considerable wealth, these days, he might be operating in the same circles I do. That, and he wants to take pictures of me, apparently. Surveiling him would be an easy task, assuming that he doesn't wish to bargain. But I believe that he would."

Her fingernail adopts a thoughtful tapping against her glass, thoughts falling on the professor. "We might have to do that sooner rather than later, now that the attack on Mister Lorraine has made the papers. The last thing we need is for the good lady to suddenly find an excuse to take a sabbatical because she fears for her life. That is..." Eyes flash once more from the darkness of her hat. "...unless her hand in it reaches deeper and more insidiously. But we won't know unless we start looking into her."

--

Pale gaze tracking the illuminated individual from seat to desk and back. Rhys takes the paper, as offered, paying a cursory glance at the email and address before pocketing it. Something to check up on, later. "I had a thought on that," he says, with regard to use of said email. "We pose as the surviving pro. Say we have something - whatever we can learn from the professor would be useful here - and say we want to renegotiate our pay for the job. In person." He shrugs, a subtle gesture in the peacoat. "We press whoever they send for another crumb."

He doesn't comment on the plan for Marshall Scott, for now. Though his gaze takes another curious turn toward Odile at the mention of wealth. As for the professor? He seems to agree. Sooner rather than later. He nods to this end. "Better to get eyes on her now, before the disappearing act. Or, if she's properly spooked, in time to catch her running to a handler."

--

"I never use thumbscrews," Louis protests, "however delicate. I find copious amounts of alcohol work just as well, on most people." He grins, then. "I'll reach out to him. I could use some publicity shots of the club, anyway, and it'll give me a chance to get a feel for him without jumping into 'that double murder wasn't as bad as you think it was'. And keeping tabs on him is always a good idea. Even if he wasn't involved at all - he's human, and nosy. Which means things will be exciting in his vicinity."

His look encompasses both vampire and Darkling. "Would the two of you be willing to work together and reach out to the woman? Or investigate her office and home, if you prefer to avoid talking. I'd come along, but honestly, I suspect this falls into both of your skillsets more firmly than it does mine." There's no shame in his acknowledgement of that. "You'd first have to track down which female professor of anthropology is involved...but academic bias being what it is, you shouldn't have more than half a dozen suspects."

--

"I like it," the woman tells the vampire with a laugh. "Bait the trap, see if anyone bites - pun absolutely intended." There's something incorrigible that returns to the visible lower half of her face when she replies to Rhys. "It could be dangerous, but I suspect that you're quite inured to that, monsieur."

To Louis, she flicks that elegant white wrist sideways. "What is the American phrase? Tomato, tomah-toh?" Odile's Parisian accent becomes more evident there, her smile taking a turn for the winsome and innocent when she replies to her fellow Lost. "Do apprise us of your gauge of Mister Scott after luring him into your domain? I'm curious to know what you think."

The hunt for the female professor appears to be on, however, and she makes a big show of thinking about it, leaning further back in her seat. "Or less," she remarks, somewhat dryly. "The more things change, the more they stay the same, I suppose. But I am amenable, if Mister Rhys is comfortable working with someone he's just met." Those hidden eyes fall on him. "We could always inquire as to who among them intends to leave for a vacation as soon as they're able in the middle of the Fall semester, to start. And then do some planning when the most likely professor has been identified. I am staying at La Maison de la Luz, if you need to reach me in person." She reaches for her purse again, to look for her cards, though oddly enough, they wouldn't have title or occupation. Just her name and cellphone number, in stylish calligraphy.

--

"Maybe it's another hired gun. But it's another chance for them to slip up," Rhys replies to the shadowed woman's approval for the trap. Another nasal exhale that might just be the beginning of a chuckle never followed followed up on, for how accustomed he might be to danger.

"I'll send a text to the number on your card, from my current phone," Rhys remarks to Louis, following Odile's inquiry about being kept in the loop with regard to the meeting. However he's expecting that the meeting will go, he's preparing precautions. And he may seem the cautious sort - if not a touch paranoid, even for one of the Kindred.

"Fancy digs." He takes Odile's card as well. "I'll do the same for you," he promises, for his own number and how he'll get it to her. "And I've worked with one of your sort with much less introduction," he adds, the edge of something that isn't boredom intruding into his voice. Amusement maybe. He looks to Louis for emphasis, there. "There are professor review services online," he notes, adding to Odile's plan. "Could see if there's a hint of anyone getting more absent minded or paranoid, or replaced by an assistant." He sets the card in the same pocket as the earlier paper.

--

"I like it," Louis says, a touch belatedly. "The downside of hiring a mercenary is that you can never fully trust them; our mysterious employer would have to account for the possibility that they might turn on them. And if they're reading the paper, it should be easy to impersonate the third goon, and imply that either you turned on your crew, they turned on you, or that there's another competitor for the drive that you're thinking of selling out to. And I'll let you know what I think. But, you know, I do like just about everyone," he claims, cheerfully.

And the good cheer hardly falters at the hint of amusement in Rhys' voice and the pointed look in his direction. He favors the man with a wide grin. "And look at all the fun we're having! Surely you have no regrets."

--

"I don't know about both you working men, but I'm retired. Not quite a bored, midwestern housewife drowning her regrets in methamphetamine, but I'll take excitement wherever I can get it," Odile laments, a touch dramatically, in a self-deprecating fashion. Finishing the last of her wine and setting it down on the table, she continues, "I believe that makes for a solid plan, then. My dear Louis shall cover our shapely rear ends by running interference with Messrs. Scott and Gray, Mister Rhys shall attempt to bait at least someone from the other side of this transaction out in the open, and I'll attempt to whittle down our list of female anthropology professors in Tulane, and once I've identified the most likely person, Mister Rhys and I can put our heads together and determine how to approach the lady academic with the aim of obtaining information regarding the contents of the drive. Is everyone in accord?"

She reaches into her purse to retrieve a silver cigarette case, opening it up to reveal her fragrant clove sticks within...and suddenly remembers that nobody smokes indoors anymore in modern-day America. She groans softly, head tilting back and claps it shut again. "As much as I adore twenty-first century conveniences, there are aspects of the old days that I do miss."

--

"As long as our third goon continues to keep his head down, and no one uses any kind of sixth sense to bring him into the light," Rhys remarks. Another reason he might want an eye kept on the snooping duo - loose ends that are practical to leave just so, unless the context of the situation should change. He grunts at the notion of fun being had. He can't say it's just a job, or just entertainment. He's following it beyond the purview of what he was hired to do. But he doesn't have to say anything at all, either.

"The longer you live, the less the word 'retired' seems to mean," he notes. Referencing inflation, maybe. Either way, there's no reluctance, despite his cautious nature, with going forward with this. He gives another subtle nod in agreement with the plan, as it is. With it, a tension in his jaw, teeth ground tight together in silence as his gaze flickers to the the cigarette case opening up. But said tension dissipates just as swiftly when the indulgence is forgone.

--

"It is, technically, illegal," Louis points out lightly to Odile. His eyes flick sideways towards Rhys, and he breaks off whatever else he was going to say, and instead says, "So probably best not to, for the moment." He takes a sip of his drink. "And that seems to be the long and the short of it, yes. I'll do what I can to encourage my friends at City Hall to discourage official investigation of the incident, so that we don't go tripping over cops along the way if someone starts wondering why a famous individual such as Mister Scott is taking an interest."

There's a sudden, thoughtful pause. "I wonder what it is. This flash drive. Blackmail material? Some sort of espionage? Last remaining archive of dragon pornography?" He's joking at the last. Probably.

--

"Indeed," Odile replies, laughter more sensed in her words than heard, a wink directed to Rhys there. "But we all do what we must." If the sudden tension from the vampire registers, the hat and the shadows it casts obscures it, and she proceeds to reach out and retrieve her fur stole, draping it on slender shoulders. "Mister Scott if nothing else seems uncaring of his own notoriety, but he will attract attention. From my looking into the matter, he was only released very recently. His case is still a hot topic in the current news cycle."

She sighs. "As for the flash drive, I've been thinking about it - after all, what would a professor of anthropology have access to that would entice others to kill for it? Bloodline secrets, or perhaps some kind of priceless artifact? But there's no use speculating, until we figure out who she is." She rises from her seat at that, retrieving her purse. "Well, gentlemen, this has been an absolutely engaging conversation, but I'm afraid I must depart, if I want to catch tonight's production of La Traviata, though I continue to hold onto hope that there'd be someone worthy to pick up where Madame Callas left off."

--

"A big enough secret to warrant a whole lot of effort and a few dead bodies," Rhys surmises, in reply to the joke. Which may rate it somewhere above regular currency, where an unaging corpse is concerned. Especially a corpse with an unnatural affinity for shadows and what they keep. "That doesn't rule out dragon pornography." Probably also a joke. But it's a dry delivery, with his default tone. Do what they must, they will - a subtle, possibly amused nod. All sign of tension gone with the cigarette case closed.

"No one likes to be wrong. And not twice. I doubt the ex-con has many badge wearing friends. Still, though-" Same conclusion. He agrees about the added attention, and that they should watch out for it. He repays Odile's farewell in brief with a gravelly, "Bonsoir."

--

"A priceless artifact would be fun," Louis muses, lightly. "But if it's a treasure map, I'm going to assume that someone is playing an elaborate prank on us all." A prank involving murder? Well, they're all from very weird societies, so maybe he doesn't find it that outlandish. When Odile rises, so does he, to offer her a smile and, if she permits, to take her hand and bring it briefly to his lips. "Enjoy your evening, Odile, and thank you very much for the head's up. I'll have a few portfolios on the other matter to you in a couple of days."

A glance at Rhys, and a smile for the return of the joke. "What about you? Care to stay for a while? The night is young. Do you play chess?"

--

"Well, naturally. I certainly wouldn't want for this endeavor to be over before it began," Odile observes. "And uncooperative meddlers may very well do that. Might as well make sure that the way is clear. Still, my hopes are high for Messrs. Gray and Scott. But yes - do let me know, Mister Rhys. Hopefully I'll have a name for you the next time we meet." An uptilt of that curving mouth at his impeccably pronounced French. "Bien sur, monsieur."

Louis' more flourished goodbye earns him a more familiar regard, her hand easily taken for that brief kiss; underneath bands of coruscating smoke and shadows is luminous, reflective skin, and while somewhat human, still, cool to the touch. "As obliging and genteel as always, Louis. Do let me know." With a smile and a wave of dancer's fingers, she pivots on her black stilettos to head for the door.

--

If Rhys were ever the proper gentleman, it's not these nights; not without having to fit in, and play the shadow in a crowd. He doesn't stand as the others do, for the more formal farewell that Louis and Odile share. "Until then, expect my number soon," he says, in return to her. And he watches as she goes. He does sit up, prepared to leave in turn as the meeting comes to an end - another shadow drifting out into the night, to shed the facsimile of life that his vitae has afforded him. But stops when Louis asks after him. "Cards or dice," he counters, with concern to chess.

--

"How can I do other than aspire to match those very qualities in yourself?" It's a teasing aside to Odile, and Louis accompanies her to the door, to open it for her and watch her go. "Enjoy yourself until our next meeting, Odile." He turns, once she's disappeared, and closes the door gently behind her. "I play both. Most card games are a little pedestrian with only two, but I'm willing to give it a whirl if you are. I actually always travel with a pack, and I have dice as well. What's your preference?" He makes his way back to take a seat.