Logs:The Caged Canary

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The Caged Canary


Characters: Ghandara & Gio
Date: 2020-07-14
Summary: Gio pays his clan primogen a visit.
Disclaimers: Brief mention of mutilation.

The hour is late. Other shops of this variety closed some time ago. Still, the lights are on at Sinclair's Botanicals, even if there don't appear to be any actual customers inside. Not in the main part of the shop, at least. Perhaps someone's tucked away in one of the treatment rooms, indulging in a late night facial scrub or something. Out in the warmly lit lobby with its shelves of bottles and jars, there is only one person present, an employee from the looks of it. The handsome young man behind the counter works on a laptop, though the occasional smirk suggests his work might be of a more personal and entertaining nature than anything actually business-related. Maybe he just likes getting good deals? Whatever the case, he's the clearest indication that anyone's here, that there might yet be services on offer.


Gio slips into the shop. Whisper-slender, face hidden by a cowl attached to a summer sweater with overly long sleeves, wearing sleek stretch denims in shadow black, he steps inside and the point of a pale olive chin rises to appear. He's no casual browser though, which becomes obvious as he doesn't head to the apothecary of goodies on the shelves. He is however, polite, so the hood falls back and he smiles, very respectfully towards the handsome gent behind the counter. He doesn't get too close, though. Because he's creepy, you see. He may have the visage of a muse for a Waterhouse nymph canvas, but there's something itchingly unnerving about his countenance. He seems all too aware of the affect it has on others.

"Good evening." Soft voice. Alto-mezzo range. High for a man. "I was wondering if the proprietor of this establishment might be in."


It would be inaccurate to suggest that Felix might be comfortable in the consistently unsettling company of haunts, but the ghoul is certainly accustomed to the discomfort, to that prickle at the back of his neck, the reflexive tightening of his jaw. This has been his life for decades. He knows how to smile through it. And such a warm and convincing smile it is, full of all the charm of salesman who truly believes in what they're selling. If the curious dip of brown-eyed attention down along Gio's form is any indication, it might be himself he's selling. Or he's just doing a cursory search for obvious weaponry. "Might be," has all the charm of the local accent. He's lived his whole life around here. "May I ask who's callin'?"


"Ambrogio di Usignolo," Gio answers softly, his Italian patois going a bit heavier when he says his very Italian name. The corners of his lips turn up a bit higher as he's inspected, a pale effort at infusing some extra warmth into the weird fuckery of his Lonely Curse. He means it, too. He doesn't want the ghoul -- and he can of course sense him to be one -- to be umcomfortable. "I am a relation. New to Society here. Please, let her know that if I am in any way imposing on her time, I can always return later, at her convenience." He draws his hands together at his skinny sternum, lowering his chin a little, his posture going all very: I come in peace!


"Of course." Felix dips his head and murmurs a quiet, "One moment please." His attention returns to the laptop, a few keystrokes saving whatever he'd been working on before the device is closed for the moment. Then he's off down the hall to knock very gently upon one of the treatment room doors. When it opens, quiet conversation ensues. For longer than is really necessary for the exchange of a name and a situational update. A few minutes pass before the door opens more fully and then closes again, the ghoul left behind to finish whatever his mistress was working on. Ghandara, tonight, wears a lightweight dress belted in the center with strips of alternating cream-colored fabric and black lace, a low V down the front, all flowy sleeves and effortless elegance. Comfort made to appear opulent. Her smile is slight but sincere, a warm thing that doesn't quite translate as well as it might without her own unsettling presence, her intimdating stature. "My apologies for the delay." Despite her distinctly Tibetan features, her accent is wholly local if somewhat behind the times. "A late night customer, slow in their recovery." She gestures toward the cushioned seating for waiting clients and asks, "How may I help you?"


Gio is immediately stricken by her exotic beauty and it shows. There's a bit of a gobsmacked bobbing open of his lips into a soft 'O', but they up again immediately afterward because it's not exactly de rigueur to be gawking at one's own Primogen when first meeting them. "I... mi scusi. I didn't mean to interrupt you." He straightens up, slender ribs (he seems to have too many, or they're overly long or something -- his chest is just oddly proportioned), pushing against the thin membrane of his knitted top, and then he performs a little bow. "I'm Ambrogio di Usignolo. I'm Nosferatu. Second Estate. I have come to present myself to you, Great Lady, and put myself in service to you and our Clan." He rises up again, long arms sort of furling against his chest like skinny nesting ravens coming to roost.


Surely, the Galloi are used to a little bit of gawking. Ghandara's tiny smile grows in answer to that shift in Gio's expression, her ego muted, tucked behind a professional grace, but not so entirely absent as to go unwitnessed. "Ambrogio di Usignolo." She takes her time with the name, careful the shape the syllables in as near approximation to his as she can manage. "I appreciate the formality. And your eagerness." She watches to see how that word lands, a curious amusement in her dark eyes. With a light press of fingers to her chest--and a glance to how his arms wrap about his own excess of ribs--she offers what seems to be already known, "Primogen Ghandara Sinclair of Clan Nosferatu, Radiant Sage of the Ordo Dracul and Keeper of Chrysalis." Her bow is incomplete, imperfect, a dip of head and shoulders that doesn't avert her gaze from her guest. "How long have you been in New Orleans?"


Gio seems grateful for that tiny peek of ego from her, which he takes for mere recognition and perhaps, acceptance, of his simple astonishment over her. He answers her tiny smile with one of his own, a bit chagrined perhaps. He ducks his head again a little, chin tucking close to the sharp lines of his clavicle. His long, slender fingers knot themselves at his heart and remain there in a sort of cat's cradle of digits. "Forgive me, Primogen Sinclair for not seeking you out sooner. I have been in New Orleans for just under two years or so I believe, convalescing from a long Sleep. When I rose, I did sign the Accords most promptly," he's a good boy. "--but I hastened back to my haven and have remained there for these many months, struggling to regain something of my former strength. I am... well, not the most social of creatures.


"I might be biased, but I do believe your delay has been fortunate for us both." Ghandara certainly doesn't seem the least little bit troubled by the time between his awakening and his return to society. "Had you sought your primogen when you first awoke, you'd have dealt with my predecessor." Her lips purse with a hint of pity, silent commentary on the haunt who filled her seat previously. "I took some time as well to find my footing, to reestablish myself before moving to serve the Praxis." It seems there might have been more to that thought, but it drifts off into silence before she refocuses, a polite smile marking that mental correction. "What sort of creature are you, if not social? What is it you do well? What do you enjoy? What do you offer to your clan?"


"My Requiem, if need be, for any cause that serves the many over the few. I would willingly lay it down in sacrifice." Earnestly said, though he does add, "Please don't take that sentiment as an indication that I am self-destructive. I'm not. I enjoy existing very much." He may be about to expand on that, but he just moves instead to further answer her questions. "I am Sanctified, and my Faith allows me access to certain miracles that could of course be of service to any Kindred and a danger to any of our enemies. My relationship with God, or, I dare say, even Longinus, may be complicated, but it is resolute nonetheless." Chances are good though, based on what he just said, that he's not the type to show up on one's porch spreading any Gospel.

He's silent for a few moments then, seeming to think. Should he go over the menu of his few disciplines? Is that what she wants? After a moment of looking at her with those large dark eyes of his, he decides perhaps no, she's not, and he answers, "Inspiration. Humanity. I... am a musician." Pianissimo, the last few words. But something about this imposingly beautiful woman makes him feel brave.


Patient and still, Ghandara listens. A lesser being might be unsettled by that eerie absence of breath or restlessness, no twitching or blinking to turn the steadiness of her attention from Gio for even a moment. Or to express any unease with the time he requires to consider his words, how he presents himself. No attempt to guide his reply, no desire to hurry it. The answer at which he eventually arrives, the supplement to his service to the church, earns a somewhat fuller smile, a faint cant of her head. Curiosity. "I wonder, then, what might your clan provide you that you might thrive in your Requiem while there is no need for your sacrifice, while we have our peace." With a flutter of fingers low at her hip, flowy fabric shifting with the gesture. "Aside from what troubles the Sheriff is addressing. Minor things that don't require the interference of anyone but his hounds." A beat, and she rephrases, "How might I help you?"


Again, that question. How may she help him? Once more, the epicene creature before her looks a triffle flabbergasted. How may she. help... him? "I..." Maybe no one's ever asked him that before. For such a simple conversation he looks so tangled up. How should he reply? Certainly Kindred far more clever than he would have myriad arrays to display, as many as feathers in a peacock's tail. And he looks as if he's trying to be that guy, that Kindred, for a few moments but... "I have a very difficult time being around others. I am used to merely watching from the shadows. I could do with some companionship. It would help because, you see, I am friends with a Daeva of the First Estate and she is so strong and I often feel as if I do her a great injustice by always being..." A wallflower. "...quiet." A very brief pause. "I have never felt entirely right with myself, you see."


Ghandara studies Gio as he works through that uncomfortable question, through the vulnerability of addressing one's own wants and needs and how much ought to be presented. When he opts for honesty, she nods in understanding, empathy. "There is both joy and comfort to be found in the shadows, in the way the world looks from that particular vantage point, one in which we are removed until we desire otherwise. Control." Another gesture of her hand, a slight tip to one side. "And isolation." Acknowledgement that there is a price for that power. For a span of seconds, she considers him in all his odd proportions, the way he curls up upon himself, how he hides, what he shows. "Is there anything in particular that feels off, that you ache to change?"


Gio just... openly stares at her. His eyes are two open black pools, depth within depthlessness, and his regard of her is quite candid. Chances are 100% he doesn't even know how unabashedly direct he is with that there stare. He'll probably bash himself to bits about it later.

But see, she catches him unawares in perhaps every way there is to do so. He's never, never ever ever, had someone ask him that question -- despite the fact that a few he's known have actually intuited the answer for themselves. It's a shameful thing, that answer. It shows in the hold of his lips. Suddenly this has turned into a very intimate conversation, and maybe the reason why he's so dumbfounded by it is because it still feels perfectly natural, and he barely knows her! What IS she?

"It's nothing that can be changed. I'm... well, it's rather permanent, certain things about me. I think my greatest fear is that one night I'll succumb to the Beast inside of me out of a long held rage. I feel it. Inside of me." He taps at his sparrow-thin chest as if were a birdcage. "Like a trapped canary. A great anger."


Ghandara certainly finds nothing off about the conversation, about the natural rapport between one lonely creature and another, mutual admirers of strange beauty who might find something to savor in one another's company. His first words inspire a devilish glint in her own dark eyes, a slight sharpening of her smile upon her full lips. What Dragon sees anything in the world as entirely immutable, after all? Still, it is not that point which she addresses first, instead considering, "The canary is tool of warning, and you've listened to its song for so long. I can understand your fear, how your bones must resonate with alarm." Her tone threads itself between thoughtfulness and sympathy, curiosity tangled with compassion. "What do you fear would happen if you were to let it out?"


Gio chuckles. The trill of it is effete rather than the deep husk of most chuckles, and he bites the corner of his thumbnail immediately after, as if he hated the sound of his own laughter, even when so faint. Regardless, something she said touched on some irony for him. "You know... I was a performer when I was human. Opera. And one night, during a cantata, a man in the audience suffered a heart attack. I was quite famous then, so it took no time for the rumors to spread throughout Vienna. That my voice could kill if I wished it to." His gaze lowers a moment. "Nonsense of course, but... it is a proper analogy for my Beast." He sighs, leaning back against a patch of wall, looking skyward for a moment. "The priests that mutilated me are long dead," he says, returning his eyes to hers, some tenderness in them for her obvious kindness. "To answer your question, my fear is that it would not matter. Were I to let it out, it may hurt innocents, for... what? A wound made long ago? I cannot allow that to happen."


Laughter, a sigh, a lean: a short catalog of evidence of increasing comfort. Ghandara delights in these details, in the ease seeping into his demeanor as the conversation continues, in the tenderness glimpsed in that look. In the honesty in his offered answer. "It would seem, to me, that the answer is a simple one. If you fear meaninglessness, then you need only give it meaning." Another shallow gesture allows that this might be easier said than done as she goes on. "I can't tell you what form that might take as I don't know you so well as to understand where you might find meaning, but I might begin with revenge. If not for you, then for others. If not your hurt, then theirs. Soften that anger with compassion that you might hear the sweetness in its song again." With a brightening of her smile and a dip of her head that borders on apologetic, she detours, "I admit a rather selfish curiosity to hear your voice, lethal as it is rumored to be--" Teasing, to be sure, not a misunderstanding of his story. "--now that I have listened to you speak, heard the gentleness in your laughter."


Gio is affected. Deeply. She's given him much, so much, to think about. So, he's quiet again for a few moments that he spends just studying the glorious symmetry of her face. He looks at her with a regrd that is helpless to do anything other than look at her, like one may quite brazenly take in some recondite piece of art in a museum they'd haphazardly wandered to. His eyes have their own mind in the moment, it seems. "I would sing for you," he avows. "Mia cara signora, I would most decidely sing for you."

Then, he seems to become aware that he's oogling, and as if he's heard a pair of inner fingers snap to rouse him, he straightens up with purpose in his spine and says, "I should go, though. I have kept you far too long, and you were so kind to see me, unannounced. Please though, if I may request it, perhaps we could talk again sometime soon?"


Ghandara seems hardly to notice the ogling. Or, more accurately, she basks in it with effortless grace, comfortable under such steady attention. Her own, likewise, doesn't stray, as if Gio were the only other person in the whole world for the moment, nevermind the pair already acknowledged behind some door down the hall or the occasional passers-by on the other side of the shop window. None are quite so compelling as the musician before her. When Gio suddenly straightens, her own posture adjusts as well, albeit minimally, a lift of her chin that draws her up just a tiny bit taller. Until she bows her head in gracious agreement. "I would like that. Some night when I might plan for you to keep me for so long as you dare." Her dark eyes glint with fleeting mischief. "It was a genuine pleasure to meet with you, Ambrogio. I look forward to our next visit."


"Great Lady, believe me when I say that you inspire me towards much daring." And with that, he turns to go. Because he just has to. His heart is about to explode straight out of his chest and turn into a thousand trilling nightingales.

He's found his muse.