Logs:The Black Swan

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The Black Swan


Characters: Odile, Tris, Lilium, Peter
Date: 2019-12-04
Summary: Tris introduces Peter and Lilium to an old acquaintance, who happens to be a woman of information.
Disclaimers: {{{disclaimers}}}

If Odile Devereux, with her usual marble-cold elegance and general disdain towards anything ordinary, could ever be said to have a friend in the world, it would easily be Louis Verte, owner and proprietor of Salome, the newest and hottest ticket in a fast-developing section in New Orleans that is well on the verge of being gentrified and quickly. While the area is still considered somewhat shady, the woman is familiar enough with the man's mannerisms and predilections to guess, with some accuracy, just why he had decided to place his latest venture here. If anything, it speaks and reflects much of the Harlem he knew, back in the days of the Prohibition Era - and explains much of the club's speakeasy feel.

As Winter approaches, the nights get longer - reasons that she savors. She is never seen out and about the city until an hour past Twilight, without fail, and if nothing else, this makes at least one aspect of her day-to-day routine that is predictable and renders her easy to find by members of the Lost. With peak hours just hitting the club, the air is spiced by the vibrant colors of frenetic Jazz, before the Blues singer hits the mic and bodies are dancing on the floor. Nothing about the twenty-first century meat market has been appealing in that regard, to her - in this day and age, it is rare to find anyone born in the last two decades who can actually dance.

She occupies a table near the back, holding her silent court among the shadows, her wide-brimmed hat pulled low on her face that only the delicate point of her chin and the bold scarlet color of her lips are visible. As if half-bathed in darkness, swaths of her alabaster complexion can be glimpsed now and then, as if wearing the shadows like haute couture. Not like she is physically dressed in anything less - today's ensemble is another Alaia, this time with a high collar and leaves her back bare, all the more valuable now that the legendary designer has died two years ago, with a hemline that drops only past the knee. Heels high enough to make dancing a deadly enterprise grace her feet, legs crossed and impeccably manicured fingernails tapping with the beat. No wine today, but there is a martini glass near her, the cocktail made classic, and dirty, with three olives.

--

When Peter Vhorman enters, he does so with a quaint sort of flair. No sprinkling of rose petals, or gust of cold air. No Court Mantle accompanies the man in the fine, grey suit, but he's all too noticeable regardless. The door swings open and he strides in like a patriarch returned home, gait even and confident. In a theatrical stage voice he announces, "Peter has arrived, stage right." Beside the few odd looks he gets from some laid back patrons, there's a tension that grows among the staff. If anything, he's a known entity, already a bit of trouble in the short time he's been here, but nothing so tangible to bar him from entry.

He scans the room like a hawk on a powerline searching for prey, and beyond the Mask, his Arcadian blue eyes almost glow they are so vibrant and alive. A curled lip exposes his abattoir of fangs, legs graceful as he twists and spins to keep the door open. He bends at the waist ever so slightly, deferential even, to allow his companion to follow after him.

--

It's definitely bespoke, and probably couture, the dress of the pale elfin Lilium following hot on Peter's heels. But it's no Alaia, and in many circles might even be taken as cosplay clothing, rather than a costly hand sewn Forest Serpent ensemble by Firefly Path. The gauzy dream of silk chiffon and heavier weave clings and accentuates the slender curvature of the near six foot tall woman. The deep emerald and mossy forest hues make her look even more the Spring courtier for those who can see the lazy weep of petals in her steps. If Peter's entrance causes tension amid the staff, well, they likely don't know what to make of her, between full club dance numbers and staving off an attack with the sheer power of her song and leading the would be attacker off. You know, totally normal. Her smile is a radiant thing and she immediately starts looking for other Lost. As usual thus far, the club does not disappoint, and she stands transfixed when she spots Odile, staring at the living dark enshrouding her.

--

Where Tris frequently blends with the crowd in many locations, this jazz club is oddly not one, at least not where those elements that are neither Mask nor mien are concerned, such as his designer jeans, t-shirt and black Armani blazer shrugged over top. It's not that he's exactly underdressed so much as the style of these items would be more suited to the sort of club that vibrates with noise from bass-heavy speakers and it's too loud to hear oneself think. His hair is tousled, but then it always seems to be, brunette locks sweeping down over his dark blue eyes. It's possible with his semi-rumpled state that he just rolled out of bed (even at this hour), or maybe this just isn't his first stop tonight.

For all that his clothes are out of place, he's clean enough and attractive enough to mix with the clientele of Salome, and for those who can see something beyond the attractive man in his late 20s, well... he's no stranger than some others. The gossamer threads that scar his neck, underside of his chin and around his ears are glimmering in metallic tones tonight, a knit of copper, gold and silver that casts off a subtle light.

He's not immediately behind Peter when he enters, but close enough as he pays the cover and steps within to catch the man's words. The look of him is unmistakable to Tris' opened eyes, and that might explain why he, at least, will give Peter quiet applause as he steps past. Peter gets a bemused smile from the scarred man, and his companion gets a similar look along with a, "Lilium," before both are given a subtle 'come on' invitation with a tilt of his chin as he heads in Odile's direction, moth to flame.

--

She tends to draw the eye - unusual enough for a Darkling, but it is a delicate compromise that she has managed to build for herself, reconciling the needs of her past with the realities of her present. One could almost visualize her in a different time with the way she arranges herself on her seat, only a slight lean forward to feign interest - but a distant one - towards the stage and the singer crooning on top of it. But the Darkness whispers in her ear and she only cocks her head slightly at the sound of it, the brim of her hat angling in that direction, before attention is thus drawn to the three figures that enter the establishment. Two of them are known to her, but one...

Well. This is interesting already.

Lilium's stare in her direction is momentarily met by motes of frosted lightning under the shadows of the stylish hat, eyes that smile even though her lips do not. But the recognition spurred by the bodies accompanying her makes the lure of company easily taken. She lifts her martini glass, plucking it in a way that gives due deference to the care that Louis has expended in choosing every detail of Salome, lifting it in a silent toast towards the three Changelings, her scarlet smile lifting faintly in the corners before it graces the crystalline lip, the briefest touch of a deft tonguetip against the rim before vodka and vermouth enliven her tastebuds.

She doesn't stand whenever Tris gets close, but a subtle change ripples over her disaffected air when she offers a cool elegant hand to him. "Demitrius," Odile greets. "Making new friends already? You and Louis are alike in that regard." To Peter, a tip of her head. "Mister Vhorman. What a lovely companion you have."

--

Peter blinks, like a man slapped awake by the sound of his own name. He had followed Tris and Lilium to Odile's table, and it takes him a moment to recover, merely pulling out a chair for his companion. Though, oddly, he narrates, "Peter hadn't heard his name in so many years it reminded him he was alive, and real, and quite lost. He wanted to be stately, declare his intentions to be King, to rule, and use all his courtly arts to maneuver among the others, but now? Now he was lost again, an imposter who couldn't quite decide whether he was his Keeper's pawn, enacting another, more convoluted play, or truly free." He takes his own seat, "Peter waited, hopeful the others would fill the silence as he gathered his thoughts."

--

Deep lapis eyes fix with intrigued attentiveness on the motes of lightning flecking through Odile's dark and Lilium is, in contrast, warm and open and unguarded, in greeting. The faintest ghosts of an Eastern European infancy cling to the offered, "Good evening, mysterious beauty." Even the air about her stirs with a warmth reminiscent of the breezes of late spring, shy of the pure fire of summer's heat. She asks Tris as they approach, "How are Tiny and Tank?" If a lesser woman might be daunted by Odile's coolly elegant demeanor, Lilium, it would appear, is dauntless in the face of it. She just beams delightedly, and says, "Thank you very much. I'm Lilium." She offers Peter a grateful look as she takes the seat pulled out, reaching to lay pale slender fingers gently on the back of one of his clawed hands before asking Odile, "His dogs slobbered all over me when I bought them dinner. I'm pretty sure they are the best dogs ever. So bouncy and full of kisses, but I could not get Tank to sing. It was genuinely frustrating."

--

Perhaps Odile is the first to get a taste of Tris' habitual heat. Anyone that passes close enough to him is treated to the lingering flash of it. It makes the touch of his hand a kiss of Summer even before his draws the proffered hand up and presses his lips to her knuckles. The affectionate greeting complete, the blazered man relinquishes those elegant digits back to its owner. "You know my tendencies to take an interest, Odile," in people, in places, in stories. It's all fair game for this man's interest. "Lilium, meet Odile Devereux," the brunette can complete that half of the introduction as he unbuttons his jacket and settles into his seat. "Tiny and Tank are well," he returns to the elfin woman with a warm smile. "Just back from a stay at their favorite spa." Because of course even his dogs are treated to that one percent lifestyle.

His eyes drift to Peter and he's silent one thoughtful moment before he offers the man directly, "I don't think we've had the pleasure. I'm Tris. Do you prefer Peter or Mr. Vhorman?" He doesn't offer a hand, but he does raise one to attract the attention of the nearest server. "May I buy you a drink?" is probably for all of them since his glance sweeps across all three Lost.

--

Something softens in her air at the gallant, searing token deposited at the back of her knuckles. "A pleasure to see you, always," she murmurs to Demitrius.

It might be odd, but like Peter and Lilium, Odile had been a performer, once, and she draws a faint line across the table, lips forming odd syllables - low and arcane, a brief stirring of the Wyrd brushing past her fellow Changelings' senses. The shadows seem to flicker at it, but it could simply be the trick of the light. It's a simple blessing, nothing too complicated, to ensure that the conversation stays right within their certain vicinity. She may have been a dancer in her prior life, and while Memory teases her with its usual caprice, she has fully acknowledged the fact that necessity has turned her more into a sorceress, consigned to the dark while others burn in the light, like Tris and Lilium.

Curiosity blossoms along the line of her mouth as she regards Peter. "It would be quite the tale, indeed, should the Bard ever become King," she opines, fingernails clicking gently against the surface of the table before withdrawing. "Though if you ask me, darling, the monarchy is overrated, albeit the Crown may be a handy piece of jewelry." Her attention flits back to the Nightsinger, extending her hand for a modern day handshake, warming visibly at the compliment. "Not so mysterious as slightly exasperated, but that has nothing to do with you, my dear, and everything to do with wading in the shallows of a new city. Enchante." A pause as she listens attentively - perhaps surprising, considering her haughty veneer - to Lilium's conversation regarding the dogs, and tacks on Tris' introduction with: "I've known Demitrius on and off for a few years," she offers. "He has always been an animal lover. Drinks?" She is already waving a hand to the server, every movement imbued with effortless grace, as if always performing.

It isn't far off the mark, the discipline and remembered torture hammered into blood and bone, a twisted mirror of the glories and passions she had expended on stage. But not many know the nature of her durance, though the results are always the same, no matter how intact the Lost.

--

Peter warms to Tris' charm as well, offering a casual, rolling gesture of his hand. "Peter, please. Formality has its place, but my it can be tiring. It's my pleasure to meet you." His words seem genuine enough, but every smile of his is tipped with sharp ivory, a quirk he can't eschew. "A dog spa, that's clever." Whatever ease Tris had supplied to Peter's air evaporates almost entirely at Odile's comments on crowns and Kings.

"How much did she know, Peter wondered silently," Peter narrated aloud, as he places a hand protectively over some bulk in his chest pocket. "The Author thought it best to ignore her oddities and embrace her charm instead."

"Drinks would be lovely, the one with deer blood, please." The Fairest loosens his tie, settling more into his seat, perhaps because Odile's 'trick' for privacy left him a bit more unguarded. "Since you bring up monarchies and crowns, is their an heir apparent in New Orleans, yet? I'm working on trying to establish a place of refuge and safety for us all, myself." His brows lift inquisitively, the Mien enhancing every expression of his, almost to caricature, but not quite. "With the upset in the Protectorate, the relative invisible nature of the Pack, and all of Our names listed in several places across the city, I'm very concerned with our mutual protection." An Autumn in the making?

--

"A spa?" Lilium asks Tris, brows gathering like pale clouds above her eyes. "For dogs?" The look is borne more of incomprehension than disbelief, perhaps never really exposed to a spa in as many words. "I would not wish to be King, that would be very strange," Lilium refutes, smiling a little. If Odile's dark sorcery has made her as Morgan le Fay, the elfin woman makes an interesting counterpart of a Guinevere, replete with some intangible air of innocence despite the monsters who raised her. "Singing is more than enough to please me." She must have assumed she was the Bard in question, silently glossing past Peter's narration as if she did not hear it as the prompt of the darkling's words. "Were you named for the ballet?" she asks. "I can never remember which one is which swan, of Odile and Odette." She wrinkles her brow at Peter, "Deer blood? Is that a thing?" No judgement, just confusion. She waffles for a moment at the chance to pick a drink, and then makes an incredibly specific choice, "Alright. Um, hmmm. A shot of creme de menthe and two shots of chocolate liquer and a shot of coffee liquer, with a shot of cream, on ice. With a drizzle of chocolate syrup and two muddle mint leaves." So the girl knows what she wants, at least.

--

Tris's eyes flick toward Odile, wary for all their briefly shared affection of a moment before. The lessons life teaches inform habits and this one is not so easily lost for the Beast. His eyes narrow slightly as he watches the elegant woman and though muscles tense, he doesn't move. When there's no obvious ill effect, he relaxes slightly, though he doesn't bother to look apologetic; he isn't.

His eyes come back to Peter, pausing only long enough to place his order for a top shelf Scotch on the rocks. The study of the man's fearsome features don't seem to engender any of that variety of feelings in the scarred man, though; maybe he's seen and known far worse in his time There. "It's handy," he explains to Peter and Lilium of the doggie spa, "when one needs to leave town on short notice. A place that will care for their needs." Maybe that's too simplistic an explanation for the specialty location, but it's basic enough to be grasped, he might hope.

His eyes go to Odile another long moment and then to Peter before he drums his fingers on the tabletop. "There are a handful of Winters pursuing the formation of a freehold, and others." Another flash of a curious look in the shadowed woman's direction before he's leaning back in his seat in a habitual sprawl that takes up too much room for a man leanly muscular, but his presence makes up the rest of the need. "How do you know each other?" It might be an attempt to distract from politics, or simply curiosity as his eyes go from one to another.

--

To embrace her charm, instead. Odile's smile widens faintly, a flash of blue from under her hat. "It's probably wise to do so, Mister Vhorman," she replies with an easy laugh, slender frame leaning back into her chair and cradling her martini glass. "Secrets and a certain degree of aloofness do enhance a person's strangeness, but considering how strange the times presently are, I dare to say that we simply match them. Products of our environment." A finger touches on the crystal pick that leaves her olives soaking in the cocktail, untouched. As to what she knows, or how much? That, she doesn't say - at least, not yet.

"Were New Orleans set with a proper freehold, the Winter Court would be presiding, and if one had been established, if I had to wager a guess as to who would take the crown, it would most probably be Jules Landry, whose demeanor renders him reluctant to situate himself in any place of authority, really, but willing if nobody else is willing, or suits. I'm certain whenever a freehold is formalized, Kings and Queens will be decided but at the moment?" She brushes fingertips against the air, to symbolize nothing. "The courtiers of Spring are plentiful in New Orleans, though, but that's not surprising when it is home to Mardi Gras. There'll be no shortage of candidates there. Summer and Autumn, however? Slim pickings." There's also a contemplative turn of her mouth at the Protectorate's mention. "I'm certain the Kindred are presently in a tizzy, but I'm not without resources - if it is essential that we know about what is happening with our undead neighbors, I could reach out to a few."

Lilium's mention of ballet has her turning her head, visibly pleased at her Guinevere's identification. "Odile was the Black Swan, the daughter of von Rothbart and Odette's dark mirror in Tchaikovsky's work," she supplies, her visible mouth touched, briefly, by bone-deep melancholy that she drowns away with a sip of her martini. "It was my signature role, in a former life, though in my last performance, I was both Odette and Odile."

If Tris is wary, the elegant woman seems oblivious; in the end, it's his open curiosity that garners a reaction, her head tipping in such a way that her companions can almost see the fine alabaster lines hiding underneath the shadows, the slope of a well-formed cheek and the kiss of long lashes against skin so luminous, it is almost white. "I'm also curious to know how the two of you know one another," she says, of Peter and Lilium. "But I've not known Mister Vhorman for very long, we happened to run into each other in a nursing home facility while I was doing...homework."

--

Peter shakes his head, quickly dismissing any talk of a nursing home, "None of that's important, as we only spoke for moments." He shoots a glance towards Lilium, then picks up the next query, "As for me and Lily Anne... Well that could be a long story indeed, but I'll wait until we each have a drink in hand before I drown you in sorry prose and awful rhyme schemes." He draws a breath, gathering his thoughts, forming his definitive answer, "We had the same Keeper, whose title I'm afraid to speak. A Dragon, a Monarch, who seemed to need a lot of things to keep his castle running and himself entertained." He gestures back and forth between himself and Lilium, "Enter the fairy elf princess to keep as suitable company, and the playwright who was supposed to write great works. You know, one's where the dragon wins and that terrible Knight is defeated, the townsfolk rejoice."

The Author rests a hand over his coat pocket, "I came upon a prop, of power and dread. When I saw an opportunity, I used it to escape, and bring...." Words fail him, as he stares at Lilium, "We endured together, a bit, and escaped together. And now we have a pledge of loyalty and shelter, kindness and protection." His crystalline blue gaze flits from Odile and Tris, as if gauging their reactions.

--

"Oh," Lilium says, her eyes widening a touch at Odile's words. She gives a little nod and immediately tries to reach out to embrace her as if in a bid to squeeze the melancholy out, her little glasswing butterfly wings flagging, sagging a touch in emotive fashion as if she felt so fully and thoroughly the wistful melancholy that it would wilt her. She looks to Peter in surprise at mention of a nursing home, suddenly curious as hell and with a nonexistent poker face. "Peter is... he reminded me what it was to be human, and drew me back to this world from the Shining Lands," she says. Where with nearly everything else, she is so open, in this respect, she is quiet, reserved, touching the man's clawed hand again before leaning forward as if to search for that drink.

--

'Homework' is a word mouthed but not spoken; it's a bad habit Tris has always had of telegraphing whatever it most amusing or unbelievable to him. He can't help but flash a smile at Odile, amused, but he doesn't follow it up with a verbal inquiry. His eyes flick to Peter for the next part of their interconnected stories, expression darkening as he listens. Summer's heat begins to shimmer around the man with the glowing scars, his body growing still, too still.

He takes a long, steadying breath before he speaks, doing so with evident sincerity. "It's good that you both have each other." That's what he can manage before he has to get up, has to move. "I need to go for a drive," is excuse but not apology. He doesn't extend the invitation to Odile this time. But maybe she can explain to the rest.

"I'll see you all around. Lilium has my number," he tells Peter, before adding, "And Jules... you should meet Jules." Then he's turning to go, one hand briefly falling to Odile's shoulder, but so briefly, because that heat has kicked up toward inferno levels. For anyone watching, the grace with which he moves through the crowd is impressive, sliding past the heedless mortals as if they were merely trees in the forest. It takes him little to no time at all to vanish out the front door.

--

A server moves towards their table, to deposit their drinks, and refills Odile's martini with a proper shaker. Louis Verte, it seems, has thought of everything, including the meticulous training of those who dispense libations in the club through the night. And like a properly trained manservant, the uniformed man slips away again, leaving the Changelings to their congress.

It's the suddenness of Peter's remarks about the nursing home that makes the perceptive Darkling tip her head in a curious fashion towards Peter, but this is brief - it might very well be that she didn't notice at all. What she outwardly addresses, instead, is the tale and while there is no outward shudder or fear at the mention of the Others, there's a faint tightening at the hinge of that delicate jaw, visible where it meets the side of her white throat, a hummingbird's pulse ticking like a metronome against it. She mercilessly drowns it in her martini. "The two of you were luckier than most," she opines. "Many who have escaped their durance escaped alone."

As Peter attempts to pierce the veil, the shadows part briefly behind Odile, as if sensing the attempt, monstrous, jealous, and absolutely protective. Whatever nightmare lurks in the woman's domain shifts as if something alive, but thankfully it doesn't reach out past the wall to loom over Peter, or his lovely charge. It settles like a blanket soon afterwards.

And this is when Lilium hugs her. For a brief moment, there's a stiffening of the woman's elegant frame, unaccustomed, clearly, to freely-given affection outside of those with whom she's had a past. But she relaxes again, and gently, if not somewhat awkwardly, pats the elf princess' hand. "You're a kind soul, my dear. How it has managed to survive intact does credit to your spirit."

Tris' departure is noted with a faint nod, though her gaze follows the loping stride of the taller man as he heads out the door, the touch of the Sun's searing heat making a mark on the pale flesh on her shoulder, just above where the neckline of her expensive dress curls into her collarbones. Her skin is simply too fair to hide it, when the silken surface turns a fiery red where his fingers have landed, before fading away. His touch did not linger long enough to burn her; its own silent testament to some kind of history, when not only does he know it might hurt her, but also because she'll probably be furious if he marred her skin in such a way, the vain creature that she is.

--

After glimpsing -Something- in Odile's darkness, the Fairest Author leans away, visibly shaken. His clawed hand reaches into his Blazer's pocket and he stiffens, unsure of how to react. "Peter wanted to slip on the Crown for the terrible safety it promised, but was afraid. Afraid of revealing it, afraid of using it, afraid of hurting someone, everyone." It takes a beat, but Peter manages a smile, stating in a more casual manner, "We arrives with Tris, it seems fitting we should leave with him. I don't mean to be rude, of course, I just..." Another pause, "Me and Lilium don't have a set residence, over Here, so we should be finding a motel room." He nods, approving if his own story. "Still, I'm glad we bumped into each other again, Lady Devereux."

--

The Kindness? No coincidence. Some Changelings spin dreams, some work metal with the ease of water, some burn bright with inner fire or blossom with surreal beauty. Lilium? Lilium was made to be a companion. Designed for it as surely as some are made hounds. But it is with warmth and a smile, that she tells Odile, "You are but too gracious," her manners courtly polite. Of course, if she remembered that the Thorns stole the memory of nearly dying in the crash that killled her parents before she was stolen, she might be a whole different person. So in some ways, the blank space before her durance is a blessing. She rises, dropping into a most elegant curtsey to Odile before saying, "Good evening. Rest thee well," and reaching for the crook of Peter's arm, she lay her wrist within it delicately to be escorted out.

--

Her attention turns back to Peter and Lilium after Tris' departure. "You won't be able to catch up with him in such a state, not with his car," she tells them both with open amusement evident in the line of her mouth. "But his temper is an eruption not many can withstand, and he tends to do this because he doesn't trust himself to rein it in. Better than letting it rampage unchecked, I think." She reaches into her purse, to slip out a small card and handing it to the pair. "If you need a place for the night, seek out Le Maison de la Luz. Infinitely grander than a motel, and fitting your lovely companion's grace. I'll make arrangements with the concierge." It didn't take her long to insinuate herself in the owner's good graces, it seems. Typical Odile.

There's a smile to Lilium and her graceful curtsey. "I'm certain that I'll see you both sooner rather than later. Adieu."

She lingers in her wreath of shadows, alone once again, though she doesn't seem to bothered by it, though her eyes continue to follow them as they depart Salome with the silent and scrutinizing assessment of a woman who keeps close counsel with their kind's secrets, and the darknesses that guard them.