|Summary:||Alex and Rafael reunite. Alex is buying, of course.|
Rafael's suit is quite nice, but not quite /that/ nice. He's not the restaurant's core clientele, but he's the sort that sometimes gets brought along by wealthier patrons, and his suit is at least nice enough and tailored enough to pass. He certainly enters with an astounding amount of self-assurance that he belongs here, his movements graceful, his appearance impeccable. There's a coolness to his aspect until the moment that he gets close enough to the table to recognize Alex, at which point his lips pull into an effortlessly charming smile. "Alexandros! My favorite." (Wallet.) "What on earth are you doing in New Orleans?"
Alex rises from his chair and, where Rafael is composed of grace and an effortless poise, he is the opposite, tightly muscled and solid in motion. His smile for the other man is genuine, however, as he extends a rough hand at odds with the quality of his suit. At the mention of 'my favorite' he cants his head briefly, his smile tightening a moment. "Circumstances change and it was time to be somewhere else. I would have contacted you sooner, but having my assets relocated here has been an annoyance. Please, sit." He waves toward the chair opposite him at the small table and the server comes over immediately to pour. Both glasses are quickly filled and then, with a flicker of Alex' hand, the server falls back and the wait staff confine their passes to a respectful distance.
"That sounds awful," Rafael laments, dropping gracefully into his seat to a sort of controlled, catlike sprawl. "Your assets are the best thing about you." Not /entirely/ true. "Have you had to degrade yourself to /four/-star restaurants?" The HORROR.
"Things have not become quite so dire, but this is certainly not New York," Alex says with a small grimace of dissatisfaction. A glass of wine comes up to his lips, as if to offer some solace in the face of this much smaller arena, a drink of the red disappearing before he places the glass back upon the table. "And you? Have you adjusted to this... city?"
"Well. I'm surviving, anyways." Barely. BARELY. Rafael reaches for his glass of wine to take a sip, and then a larger swallow. "I'm a bigger fish in a smaller pond here, but I'd rather be a big fish in a /big/ pond. The city's not /bereft/ of merit, but -- like you said. It's certainly not New York."
"Yes, there is some interesting history here. You recall I am involved in a number of different businesses, but my passion is the collection of rare books? There have been a number of interesting possibilities that I've been exploring in my... downtime." Another grimace. Another, deeper, drink of the red. "It is actually one of the reasons I asked if you could meet with me this evening. Though I've missed your shows as well. I will need to arrange reserved seating like I had in New York."
"I'm sure that if there aren't any subscriber seats left to your liking, a large enough donation would fix it," Rafael says with a careless air. He watches Alex with close curiosity that belies his languid air. "What sorts of possibilities? I've never taken much to books. I could dance with one on my head. It's very impressive."
"Can you?" Momentary distraction before Alex settles once more on the conversation at hand. "It is less that I'm looking to get you into that business and more that I have a favor to ask. You see, there is a woman by the name of Nadine Williams who recently passed and, in her very small estate, held a true first edition copy of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. This book has passed on to her grandson who has proven reluctant to part with it." Pale green eyes shift from his wine glass to Rafael, "I do not have all the contacts down here I used to have and, while I am not adverse to taking it, there is an interesting fact I learned recently." His hands fall into his lap, clasped lightly together as he leans back slightly in his chair, "Ms. Williams' grandson is Mark Williams. An aspiring ballet dancer who happens to have found a small place in your domain."
"I think I might have seen him around a few opening nights," Rafael says, squinting as he tries to remember. "The Williams I know." Of course he does. A rich family with a scion training in ballet? Most certainly patrons of the arts. "Nadine was awful. I think that Mark would kiss my feet in a second if I glanced in his direction." He says it all with total idle carelessness and lifts his wine for another sip. "I could glance if it means that much to you. I mean, it's not a hardship to be worshipped."
Alex laughs at that, the smile lingering on his lips, "No, I do not imagine it is a terrible thing for you. He had considerably more backbone when I requested the sale of the book, even offering just on the opposite side of forty for it. A fair price, if I don't say so myself, but it seems he holds some sentimental value." A shake of his head and another drink of his wine, "At any rate, yes, I would appreciate that glance. My collection is supposed to arrive with the next couple of weeks and I will be sorely disappointed if I cannot add this book to it by then. It's the little things in life that make it enjoyable, no?"
"That sounds like kind of a /big/ thing, but whatever you say," Rafael says easily enough. "He may have had backbone with you, but you're not someone who could easily be a hero for him to worship." He wrinkles his nose. "I'm not the most fond of the brand of hero worship he's likely to have, but I can probably break him of it easily enough. I like a certain remote awe and fear, not the kind where he'll keep wanting /attention/."
"Yes, well, however you wish to make it happen, I leave to you." Alex pauses, as if considering whether he wishes to continue, his voice a bit softer, despite the distance of the wait staff. "Do you know what the situation is here? There was immediate pressure for me to sign these Accords that's being pushed upon all of Her children, but there's more, isn't there? I had to collapse my chambers in New York," a moment of true bitterness in his words, "and begin re-establishing them here. Anything you think I should know?"
"Yes, they keep a strangely tight leash on things here," Rafael says, his gaze going distant as he considers the rest of the room. "I mean, /I/ haven't found the Accords too restrictive, but I already knew I'd have to learn to behave myself a bit better." He sighs a bit forlornly at the fact. "The Apex is /very/ close with the Kindred and the Forsaken. Chummy all around. It's very different from New York."
"Yes, I've noticed the same thing. I do not think it a bad thing to be on fair terms with the others, but I did have some concerns about just how tight the leash would be." Alex slips into a thoughtful silence, "I suppose I will continue establishing my chambers and, for the time being, keep away from the connecting it to the Hive." His voice is still cautiously low, but he doesn't seem too concerned about being overheard. He reaches into his pockets and withdraws a small business card case, slipping one out and passing it to Rafael. "It has my new number."
"I have a broodmate in the city, but we're unconnected," Rafael says, reaching for the card Alex offers him and lifting it to flip between his fingers. "The sort of trouble I get into isn't generally the sort that upsets even an uptight Hive," he says. "At worst, it got me fired from my job. It's not like my hunting ends up with corpses."
"We may have some choice in the seasoning of our meals, but very little control over what satisfies," Alex responds quietly. "I try not to make anymore trouble than anyone else, but..." He lets out a sigh, "I was found in New York. A couple of heroes and a small squad of normies for each. I'd have been just another story with a 'happy' ending if I hadn't been with another Begotten when they arrived. It was a big org that found me and a dozen dead, including two heroes, makes for a mess that just doesn't give you any future anymore. It took several months to shake or kill those that came looking. So yeah, I'm looking for a little quiet right now, I think."
"Ugh. Sounds like a mess." For Alex, of course, not the mundane humans that were foolish enough to get in the way. Rafael takes another swallow of his wine. "It's difficult," he sighs. "Balancing. It's a trial, having to restrain myself so much. But it's educational in its own way. I get to explore just how small I can make my knives and just how big the proverbial wounds can end up with the tiniest of words. Human egos are so fragile."
"It has been a trial." An understatement, perhaps, but one given with feeling as Alex finishes his wine, "The lessons must be taught. If this small pond helps sharpen those knives of yours, there may be something to this place after all. It's because they fall to complacency that we exist, is it not?" A tight smile, but one shared, "It's good to see a friendly face again, but there are a few more things I must see to before I may call it a night. Will you forgive me an early departure? If you're hungry and would like to stay, I have made arrangements to settle the bill with me."
"Well, I'm certainly not leaving before I try their foie gras," Rafael declares, lounging a bit more /firmly/ in his seat. He's not going anywhere. "I suppose I'll just have to entertain myself spending your money. There are worse ways to spend an evening." His smile curves sly and feline. "I promise I won't do too much damage," he tells him.
Alex' smile is sharp at the promise, though he gives not cautionary statements as his coat is rushed to him and he's helped into it. "I wouldn't expect anything else, Rafael. Give me a call when you've got that other thing taken care of, yes?" He offers up his hand in parting, all hard lines and firm demeanor once more as he prepares to face the night outside.Rafael's fingers move in a gesture between a wiggle and a flick. "I'll take care of it," he says with breezy confidence. Teenage ballet wannabes are not exactly high in difficulty. He does watch Alex's ass as he leaves, but who wouldn't? Alas.