dsc meme ↦ [3/5] relationships: Jeremy Gilbert
Phoebe Tonkin and Paul Wesley at US Open
Paul Wesley and Phoebe Tonkin attending US Open.
Concerned is an adjective no one alive, undead or otherwise, would ever use to describe Marcus. Yet after the past several weeks, and one Stefanie Ricard seemingly in the thick of it, it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume the reason Marcus was calling his most recent prodigy was to inquire about her well being. He hadn’t gotten any more, aha, ‘alerts’ about her being in danger (a fortunate or unfortunate, depending on how you looked at it, side effect of her blood both permanently and recently in his system), but given that Stefanie actually called on a regular basis, when more time had passed than normal, he grew…
Well, concerned. Wouldn’t Rebecca be pleased?
His phone at his ear as he stood looking over the Parisian nightlife from the balcony of his hotel suite, Marcus waited still as the gargoyles that adorned, or he supposed use to, the Notre Dame cathedral.
Hearing the phone, Stefanie first had to lift her head upside down from hanging over the edge of the couch, her feet off the back of it, her hands from the book she promptly dropped and caught in a graceful oops moment humans wouldn’t have even have seen. (Though Tony would have teased her either way, but her boyfriend was locked in his study to appease his editor with a chapter ‘by the end of the day’. Pah, the sun set ten minutes ago, so he must have been caught up in some great scene of Cariah and Stefanie was bored. And hungry. But juice boxes were pitiful when there was a promise of spending the evening with Tony, so she was ignoring that — or trying to, though even Martin was…well, not working as a distraction.
It didn’t take her more than ten seconds to get over to her cell, but when she recognized the number she let out an unnecessary breath and promptly zipped from the room, then house, phone to her ear as she hit the hood of Tony’s car and popped up on top of it.
“Bonsoir, Marcus. Do you need me?” It was automatic. Stefanie might want to claim total independence from her Sire, but she wasn’t against helping him out (it only felt fair). Besides. She’d always wanted to drive Tony’s car.
“Bonsoir, Stefanie,” he greeted, a small smirk on his lips, the closest to a genuine smile he’d allow himself to a reach at this moment.
“No, nothing like that,” he assured, pleased at the subtle ready and willing tone. It wasn’t uncommon in newborn vampires towards their maker, but neither was Stefanie a common case. Him not killing her had not subverted the bond, not entirely.
“I was just growing used to your update calls, it’s been some time since I’ve gotten one.”
Stefanie nodded at once even if he couldn’t see her, though she did start biting down on her lip as she’s flushed with an odd sort of disappointment she assured herself was only out of boredom. Yet, as he then indicated wanting to know she was okay, her grin popped back up beneath bitten fingernails toying with her lips. Her other hand drums on the hood.
“Aw, you’re being sweet,” she teased gently. If she was a bit unsure how to behave with Marcus, she only behaved more…shall she put it “insubordinantly” in resentment of her own misgivings and insecurity? Marcus was only…
…haha, okay he wasn’t exactly “only human”, true, but he’d helped her when she needed it, and what was more he listened to her as the equal she physically wasn’t, but wants to be.
“Most would call that a reason for alarm, or wouldn’t believe you at all” he remarked with amusement as Stefanie called him sweet. They wouldn’t be mistaken either; rare were the times when Marcus acted charming out of any genuine intent.
“Why don’t I do you one better than a call, then, and come meet you? I would have called, only I’ve been a bit…busy.” Yeah, in the bedroom. There was a reason Tony owed his editor.
Lips quirking upwards, he tilted his head, nodding once in acceptance (out of habit rather than necessity), “I’d be delighted for your company.”
Smirking again at her simple explanation, Marcus chuckled briefly, “You can tell me all about it later, if you wish. Fancy a drink at La Fée Verte?”
About to say yes wholeheartedly, she paused again and chewed down on her bottom lip as she thought this through, casting a quick glance back at the door and drumming her fingers against the Camaro hood. Hm. The thought of being around too many humans right now was a little too…well, mouthwatering an idea, but Marcus had held her back once…
“I’d love a drink,” she said finally and popped her bottom lip free as she added, “Though I’d like to know you’re still promising to hold me back.”
“The promise still holds, Stefanie,” Marcus promised himself, and he didn’t make those idly, especially not to other vampires; it meant more to them.
“For both things, actually, blood and if I imbibe too much. Please don’t let me crash my boyfriend’s car.”
At this moment, she’s drawing Tony’s keys out of her purse with a smirk to herself at the happy memory of snatching them. There was a slight intake of breath that preluded the hesitation, another habit from being human. It reminded him of how young she was, a thought he knew would irk Stefanie to that plump upset pout she got when he pulled her away from Christoph her first day.
Eyebrows popping up at ‘boyfriend’, Marcus chuckled again, “Ah your absence is suddenly explained.”
He smirked, “Don’t worry, Antonio’s car will be in your safe, sober hands. Well, close enough to sober.”
But she cut herself off with a tiny, acknowledging groan as she is forced to admit that yes of course she does already know how it is Marcus could guess her boyfriend. Beaming to herself she let out a sigh of relief and says in the same breath, “Oh-shut-up-and-thanks, be there soon.” Then she shut off the phone before she’d dwell on the fact she was telling her Sire to shut up. Or that she was telling a vampire not known for his restraint to shut up, either or. Though in her mind, Marcus was fairly well restrained (certainly a lot more than she was to be honest) he just didn’t have exactly the same…well, affection, for humanity she did.
Smirking, Marcus doesn’t bother trying to get in a word of farewell. When the call ends he pockets the phone and heads inside to grab his jacket and wallet. Slipping it on as he headed back to the balcony. He walked, and didn’t let the ledge stop him. Swinging his legs over the railing in one swift movement,he lands on the sidewalk below with a soft thump, and keeps walking, adjusting his sleeves.
Stefanie hopped in the car, grinning to herself wide as she imagined Tony’s face to herself and contemplated exactly how cute and innocent she would look in retaliation as she drove. This was what he got for locking the study door. Not that she hadn’t been distracting him, ahem, she simply was ignoring that part as it wasn’t in her best interest.
Oh, dear she may have been living with the D’Grey’s too long. (Yeah, because she’d never been a brat before that.)
Pulling in to the city, window down and hair flapping, the scents of humanity — all crisp sweat, warm blood and salt and alcohol strike with such delectability, she was forced to pray a few passersby didn’t notice her eyes go crimson or her sharp, extended tooth. When she parked to hop out, she found herself snagging one more thing of Tony’s, though this he gave freely. Her nose was still happily inhaling the latent scent from his jacket collar when she entered the bar and began looking for Marcus.
It didn’t take her long to realize she was going to have to pull away from Tony’s scent; wherever Marcus was, he must be ensuring a certain privacy, for…activities. ‘He thinks of everything’, she muttered to herself as she closed her ears and started listening hard for any sign of him.
He reached the bar at a leisurely pace, knowing the manor was a fair distance away from the heart of the city, that if Stefanie didn’t want to cause damage to her boyfriend’s car she wouldn’t drive much over the speed limit, and that traffic wouldn’t let her go too fast anyways. Grabbing a booth close enough to the entrance of the back room but not too far away from the general entrance, Marcus had only been waiting fifteen minutes when Stefanie walked in.
He felt her first, an instinct rooted deep in his blood, smelled Antonio on her second (hybrids carried a very distinctive, alluring scent), and saw her last. Well, he saw the back of her hair, but it was unmistakeable.
“Stefanie,” he spoke, as if she were right next to him instead of across the room, knowing it would be enough to cut across every other sound in the bar.
When they made eye contact he waved.
Picking her name out, soft as though Marcus had whispered it fond in her ear, she turned and let her eyes flutter back open in a hazy smile. The man looked as coiffed and poised as the last time she had seen him — though that evening ended with fangs sprouting anew from her lips. And that suit, mon dieu! At least she knew she chose the supernatural side with fashion sense. Though, Ansel was hardly a slouch; Stefanie had always chosen friends well in that area at least. Fashion said more about you than you evee wanted it too…particularly when you didn’t care.
Waving back, Stefanie took a single step — and in an instant was at his side. The blur was like to turn heads, but chomping down on the nearest patron would have likely gathered a modicum of attention too. Stef grinned, then leaned up to kiss Marcus on the cheek in affectionate greeting, nose nuzzling a moment so he knew it was not only the European hello.
Smirk interrupted as he laughed once under his breath at her greeting, Marcus looked on at Stefanie with a certain degree of fondness he was not too comfortable with. Relationships between a vampire and his or her maker varied from case to case. As obvious as it was to say, Remington had never been affectionate (knowing the kind of man he was had made it easier to turn him back then), and Chantel’s affection was more…mature.
Stefanie, however, Stefanie was one nuzzle against his arm from appearing like a kitten and a little girl at once. The latter he was less familiar with, however; he’d had sons not daughters, at a time when fatherhood solely meant being the strict disciplinarian. (He knew that was just the excuse he told himself for never having loved them.)
“You look gorgeous, tesoro,” Stefanie added in a low hum with her hand still on his forearm from leaning in, eyes trailing, then darting up.
“And yourself beautiful, cherie, downright radiant,” Marcus complimented. It was true, she was practically beaming, and it wasn’t because of the natural vampire allure. Stefanie brightened with every word, even though the compliment was superfluous when she already knew she did. Especially (though this was her own opinion, but Tony shared it) in her boyfriend’s jacket. The thought reminded her to inhale a luxuriously deep breath.
“And yes, Tony is the one, though I’m sure that’s good news to you, as you’re hoping not to have to oppose Remington’s sons, aren’t you?”
Stefanie wasn’t entirely sure. The connection they shared went both ways, Marcus claimed, but he certainly seemed to know a lot more about her instinctively than she did of him.
“Quite right,” he admitted, knowing the instinctual knowledge was owed to their connection. If it had been someone other than Stefanie, or Chantel, someone like a certain self-righteous, vexing, raven-haired English inn keeper for example, his reaction would have been different.
“Though I’m not entirely sure they’re of the same mind,” he wondered aloud, perhaps a bit purposefully as he added, “They don’t like me very much.”
Marcus smirked at his own personal joke; no one liked him very much so it wasn’t exactly news even if all he had to go on to guess the D’Greys’ distaste was one conversation with Chantel and a brief exchange in a phone call between him and Stefanie herself.
Stefanie bounded up on her toes. Then down. Then she kissed Marcus’ cheek again and bounded with a giggle to sit down where he’d gotten them a booth. It was half a thank you for the company, half to appease whatever thought had crossed his brow. Oh, and in gratitude for admission he doesn’t want Tony as an enemy.
“They don’t,” Stef agreed with an impish little smirk, “but Oli is no fool.” Her legs cross under the table with red linen draping fashionably on her heel. “He knows he has enough enemies right now, and has always been more..uh, inclined to indulgence in his vampire half than his brother I suppose you already knew that though. I must admit I am considerably curious how it was their father spoke of them to you.”
Marcus listened and followed along with Stefanie’s quick but oddly enough congruent train of thought. He wasn’t one to pass on information when it was so freely provided about a subject he had a current piqued interest in. Marcus didn’t forget that part of what Stefanie offered in return for his turning her was information. He had yet to ask her to live up to the agreement directly and he probably never would; Stefanie disclosed to him just a little more than she realized.
“Well then, let’s not give them a reason.” Marcus nodded, even if really, the easiest thing to find was a reason for hostility and reasons to hate him were always in abundance. They could hate him all they liked, so long as they didn’t move against him they wouldn’t have a problem.
“Quite. But suffice obviously Remington did not let Oli become a fool, and he is facing quite a few…foes. One of whom is my ex, and who seems half obsessed with killing Tony.”
She only added in a murmur under her breath for effect and show, ever performing and knowing perfectly well marcus could hear her, “of course also vice versa,” in a huff.
“Yes, Ansel Dorat, correct?” Though he didn’t need to be told he was right; it was a question out of courtesy. She managed only a nod to that, busy trying too hard not to focus on the wealth of confusion in her gut at the simple mention of his name.
“He’s been naughty,” Marcus agreed. That Stefanie’s love interests were on the verge of killing each other was amusing, but not necessarily uncommon amongst their kind. Chantel usually had her string of lovers, occasionally some of them have come to blows while Theo watched with bemused interest from the sidelines.
Now Stef folded fingers under her chin and smiled in a way that was all teeth.
“I believe you mentioned drinks?” This was sweet.
Smirking as she reminded him the promise of drinks, he lifted his hand and signaled for the server.
“Elyan,” Marcus greeted with a nod, demeanor pleasant enough. Stefanie’s eyes were trailing over the man’s neck long before she noticed it, but he never seemed to. Ah, she thought, darting her gaze back up and slipping her hands to rest under her thighs on the plethor before she found herself reaching for the man.
“Will it be from the bar, or our personal selection?” By personal selection, he meant their drink of choice from the willing staff. Marcus turned to Stefanie to ask her preference. Her eyes had gone a bit wider in hunger.
“Which drink first, love?”
First, he asked, and Stefanie has to remind herself she had actually indicated she’d want to “imbibe both” on the phone to swallow a quick flash of anger at the sentiment. It was interesting to think that she was so used to Tony’s reluctant acquiescence (before rabid and ravenous) that she was actually a bit put off by the openness. She hadn’t been last time, she remembered. The first hour of her waking flew over her memory with vivid heat; a willing, compliant neck, warmth rich in her mouth. Now she bit down on her lip to stop from seeming too eager. It had been all right to her then if she drank from someone so long as they were willing. Olivier had barely held to that last addendum. Sue her if she didn’t think the Bishop and the choir director’s counted as “willing” when he was dominating their minds, even if his actions did probably save their lives when she’d been that hungry and new. Yes, before with Marcus she hadn’t ever drank a person dry, but he already knew she had done that too. She’d called him that night. Waited until she was sure she wouldn’t cry when she admitted it, but it was certainly easier to say it aloud when she’d already told Tony.
Which, had to be what changed now. If she wasn’t hesitant from fear or moral objection, she thought, it had to be because her new boyfriend was a willing neck she could share with, who had only just admitted he liked her drinking from him. It seemed fairly a poor way to repay him by turning around and doing something so intimate with someone she didn’t even know.
A quick flick of her tongue darts over her bottom lip, nearly pierces itself on a fang and she turned back to Marcus to answer as casually as she could, “Wine, merci. You can choose the color for me.”
Marcus nodded, turning to Elyan and ordering, “A bottle of your finest red Médoc.” He waved Elyan away when he asked if there was a preference to a vineyard or year. Marcus was not exactly partial to French wine, and there was simply no other option.
Stefanie waited until the Elyan had gone, sitting on her hands still and digging nails in trenches into the seat as she looked back to him and asked with some undue heat, “Is there a way to feed live where it’s not so personal?”
Maybe it was a silly question, considering the very nature of having to bite into a person’s flesh and swallow something keeping them alive, but she didn’t see Marcus followed by adoring fans ready to kill each other. There had to be some secret. And he was her Maker, so he was supposed to teach her these things, right? She only went to the D’Greys because she asked him to let her.
Marcus nodded, “There are a few methods you could employ.” Methods that correlated to her moral beliefs, that was. Drinking a person dry without a care for who they were was always impersonal, but it was not an option for Stefanie. Alas, it really wasn’t an option in Paris; vampires here tended to be more civilized than that.
“Easier in Paris, actually, where it’s been made a business. Some vampires want an intimate experience, others, like myself a good majority of the time, simply feed for nourishment rather than enjoyment. You can make them aware of that when you order, and they’ll treat it like a simple business transaction. Sitting an arm’s length away and then drinking from their wrist would help make it impersonal. And if you’re still having difficulty separating intimacy from feeding, drinking from someone you wouldn’t normally find sexually attractive helps.”
Stefanie was nodding as if she understood with every word he said, and it wasn’t until he stopped speaking she realized she actually hadn’t comprehended anything. The juxtaposition and cognitive dissonance gave her a moment’s pause, at least long enough to imagine herself sitting in a booth, biting into a wrist from someone a foot back. Somehow, she kept picturing that lasting all of ten seconds before she’d yank them in closer and rip into their neck instead in a red-eyed huff. Tony’s not wrong to call her a brat, all right?
Sheepish, she tucked a strand of hair back before she spoke drily, “Ordering. So is there a menu? Yes, I’d like a short, peevish, Eskimo teenager please? Or are you feeling Chinese right now?”
Marcus smirked as she joked, more at the fact that she didn’t know how accurate she was being, than at her tone in general.
“Something like that: gender, build, ethnicity, and blood type are a few of the more popular categories but some businesses have more availability than others. The service company Christoph works for, for example, are among the best at catering to even the most irregular of whims.”
The idea of it as a business was something that she thought sounded excellent in the abstract, but it couldn’t stop being bizarre for her overnight either. Even if she’d die (again) before she showed Tony it wasn’t just “all right cool” from the onset. Stefanie sits further back in the seat, fidgeting within the jacket and letting out a controlling sigh to keep herself in check. Her eyes soften by the time she looked back to Marcus.
“Did you always feed simply for nourishment?”
“No,” Marcus shook his head, chuckling, “you think with how you’re feeling right now you could have fed just to sustain yourself? It’s the same with all newborns. I fed because at that time it made me feel better than I had in over a decade. Then I went through a period of only feeding while fucking, and another of feeding with the sole intent to kill.”
Marcus said it so nonchalantly, someone might have guessed he was talking about the weather. Stefanie stared, torn between an odd sort of amusement that no doubt Tony would have scowled at and Olivier laugh — and a wondering somewhere in the back of her head what had happened to the girl who had signed an abstinence pledge to appease her mother (or so she told her brother, who had outright refused to explain what she was even ‘abstaining’ from).
Yet she settled in the end for a small shrug of laughter, eyes dancing with delight that Marcus was, at least, confiding truthfully with her too.
“It goes through stages, more likely than not. The less often you have to feed it either becomes more meaningful, or meaningless. For me it has been the latter.”
"I suppose that makes a certain amount of sense," Stefanie said as she wiggled her hands free, then clutched them in her lap like she used to sit at school, when keeping her head and hand down to hide the fact she knew the right answer. Now, it’s less the contrite, more the fact she still doesn’t want to jump a passing waiter. Passing may be a misnomer. After all, Marcus sat them in a secluded spot near the backroom. But wasn’t everyone passing when she could blink and be across the room?
A certain amount, of sense. A polite way of saying she didn’t think he was necessarily wrong, but still disagreed either way. Marcus would be lying if he said he was surprised.
"I’ve been very well-fed," she said irritably, "which you wouldn’t know, considering how antsy I am," she squeezes her hands, "it’s just — it’s like being full is so completely impossible that the notion of having enough must have nothing to do with nourishment. Does that make sense?" Her eyes flicker back up to hold his.
"A certain amount," he repeated her words in a tease with a simple wink. Truthfully, she was entirely correct. Being ‘full’ had nothing to do with the physical amount. But because as humans that’s what they were used to for feeding, it was difficult to abandon that notion.
"Tony didn’t want me to at first but…he also didn’t want me to die and he didn’t want me to drink from anyone else, so apart from Christoph and one excursion with Olivier, I’ve only been drinking from him. Well, and my juice boxes," she fluttered a hand, "but those don’t count. And Tony’s better. It’s not even a competition. And now he’s finally admitted he does like it. But I…can’t just live off him, right? I’ll kill him. He’s already tired easier…though," and now her grin turned sly, "that may have more to do with - oh how did he put it - rampant sexual marathons."
Sparing a bemused smile at the mention of the juice boxes (he had laughed loud enough to worry Theo, though that was still significantly quieter than most), and the description of her trysts, Marcus folded his hands together on top of the table. He had to remember to fidget like that every so often, and his stillness could be part of why Stefanie felt hyper-aware of her movements. Her eyes glance down, dart up, the corner of her mouth twitched up in gratitude.
"You could, potentially, but not yet, not as a newborn. His blood can’t replenish quick enough to feed you on a consistent basis. Especially not if you’re wearing him out, Stefanie, my my."
"You should tell him that," Stefanie groaned playfully, even though she had no intention of Marcus and Tony speaking let alone being in the same room together for her boyfriend to be scolded by anyone besides her. Nope. Not happening. And oh all right, she was the one who couldn’t get enough of him (at least as much as was true vice versa). Tony had never relished her feeding, and that was true. It was no trick, no lie he’d have preferred she never turned. But he’d accepted it now, admitted he wanted her (check that, loved her) for who she was. Didn’t that mean more? Besides, before that, he still was insisting on doublechecking she’d eaten every day and was unbuttoning his collar, demanding she drink if she showed the slightest sign of fatigue. (Or, say, of her not being human.)
"He gets a queer pleasure from knowing I’m alive because of him. Though I shouldn’t say it’s queer. I like knowing the same about him." Stephanie forced her shoulders down to relax, and smiled. There’s no abash. He’d been describing his fucking and feeding habits only a moment ago.
Marcus chuckled again as Elyan arrived with their drinks, and left the bottle at the table. With a quick merci, that was for the server’s sake as he watched Stefanie out of the corner of his eye, Elyan was off and Marcus was holding the wine glass up to clink with hers.
Stefanie took the pro-offered glass with her hand back under her skirt as she maybe batted her eyes at him, though she otherwise did not stir. Seeing Marcus caution, Stefanie thinks, maybe she just needed to have a man underestimating her to keep control, she always did do well proving them wrong. When Marcus toasts, she lifts the wine too and echoed, “Salud.”
The sip was wonderous and heady, a bit overripe in a way she liked, the grapes a narcotic on her tongue. It took her only a moment of swaying the glass to wonder, “I should mix it with wine in the juiceboxes.” She wiggled her eyebrow at Marcus before taking another sip. Then, she let out a soft complaining whine.
"Though of course, I think Oli would kick me out before he’d let you meet his brother alone, so, never mind. More’s the pity though. Oli’s dislike comes more from misguided emotions on his father in my opinion as frankly? I rather think you two have a fair amount in common. Ah," she patted her upper lip, "besides Remington."
"Do we?" Marcus asked with vague interest as he took another sip. Resemblances to him usually made people cringe; he even used them personally every once in a while to throw a few certain people off. Olivier might still consider it an insult, but Remington would have found the comparison something of an honor. He was already proud of his eldest before and that was a decade ago.
"I’d be delighted to finally meet them, I do recall an open invitation, but the timing isn’t right yet. Besides, Remington was never eager to introduce his sons to me. He had his reasons and it’s the only wish of his I find myself being able to respect." Marcus still forgot sometimes that Remington was dead. It was that news that brought him to Paris to begin with. He should have known before then; he should have felt Remington’s fear when he died.
Unless, of course, there had been no fear.
Marcus tilted his chin to look at Stefanie again, “You mentioned being curious about how Remington spoke of his sons. Do you want me to tell you?”
Why else would I ask? Stefanie almost said, before reconsidering with a head tilt. Did she really want to know? Tony and Olivier lived with their father, and were as biased as sources came – one for, the other equally against, one admitting their love, the other admitting they never were shown any. It’s not as if she could ask for better judges. Whatever Olivier said she took with a mountain of salt (and paid much more attention to what he didn’t say). And whatever Tony said, she was usually too busy cringing and trying to make him forget it. Daddy might not have loved him, but at least he was accepting that she does. Even if she’s sure that acceptance was asterick-ed with ten foot-notes, pock-marked by doubts, side-eyes and second glances – it was still acceptance.
Maybe that was why she wanted to know, though. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that the brothers were still fighting about their father, in a way they had all their lives. Ever living in contradictions, it’s also in a way they never had fought before. Of course not. Remington hadn’t died at their hand before.
She turned her eyes away from Marcus at the thought at once, took another sip as an uneasy shiver slipped up her spine. There was a reason Olivier would kill before letting Marcus and Tony in the same room, and they had nothing to do with personal dislike. It began and end with ‘Tony killed Remington’; as justice or not, for good reasons or not, her sire had been Remington’s too. As if that wasn’t enough for another shudder.
“Yes,” she said over the lip of the glass, “I’d like to know what he said to you. The brothers care more than they’d ever admit aloud.”
"And in that, they’re like their father."
The words were a knife to Stefanie’s breast, as though she had bared it without noticing and asked to have her heart sliced to shreds. Yet other than that, she didn’t move, only stared and tried to comprehend them long after they’d already hurt her.
An odd notion, that Remington D’Grey might have cared at all. He spent so long convincing everyone else of that, but every single life-altering decision Remington ever made, came from a place of emotion not logic. Marcus didn’t mean any business decisions either; the man had infallible logic for it and a mind practically born for it. In his personal life, his emotions governed him as much as any human.
"We last spoke ten years ago, after he learned of the extent of Olivier’s hybrid nature. Before that he had expressed concern that he had borne sons that were too human, too weak. When Olivier was still a child Remington also worried he had too much of his mother’s sensitivity, that he wouldn’t be able to squash it out. And when Antonio came to live in Paris, that it was too late, and had been tainted by his mother for too long. He found that Antonio worked best as an incentive, that Olivier had never been half as ruthless before his brother was in the house. That he only played at it before, a very convincing act but an act nonetheless. And when Olivier killed that man, that was the closest to happy I ever saw Remington. All his doubts assuaged; Olivier finally fit into the mold of who he wanted for a son. And Antonio? He was just there, moss on a tree; a way to keep Olivier motivated and Belle Metisse suffering."
Oh, is that all Tony was? Moss grows on trees in poor health, weighing branches until they break, choking light from leaves until they die. That moss killed you, Remington, while you were busy breaking Olivier’s heart to shove him in your mold. Stefanie thought with some heat, but she focused eyes on Marcus.
Marcus finished and lifted the wine glass to his lips once more as he took a sip, watching Stefanie over the top of it. Her eyes had fluttered, but otherwise she told herself to keep looking Marcus straight on, blinking and breathing like she’s still simply the newborn vampire who forgot she’s not human. It had to be that way. Else, she’d worry Marcus knew her first thought was how accurate his words are. Putting the glass down, she scoffed under her breath before retorting, not bothering to pretend she was a fan of the man, “Well Belle’s alive, he’s dead, so good on him.”
"You may have no love of him Stefanie, but he was still my progeny. I wouldn’t let anyone badmouth you, I won’t let anyone do the same to him." It was a notice more than warning, but one that still merited to be said aloud.
Caught, but only barely, Stefanie jerks her head in acquiescence, albeit of the bratty sort. She contemplates toying with her lip, pointing out she actually only said aloud ‘good on him’, as in “mission accomplished” and sure it had been sarcastic, but she hadn’t actually badmouthed him. Only she was too angry. Couldn’t she say she just wasn’t letting anyone badmouth her boyfriend? Even if it was from beyond the grave?
Stefanie folds her arms over her chest before looking back at Marcus as she considered: if she wasn’t hungry before, she is now, and she didn’t care if she had to have it from a wrist a foot away from her or not. Lips purse with a sigh.
“So they were just puppets to him? How can you say you think he cared at all, if all they were only toys he pushed on a chessboard, worrying about how much like their mother they might be? As if the Queen doesn’t conquer in chess.”
"You told me to tell you what he said, and I did. What he said and how he felt were two distinct things, admittedly not always but more often than anyone would think. His game wasn’t chess, Stefanie, it was cards. And Remington was the master bluffer."
She opened her mouth, then closed it as she understood: this was where Olivier was not unlike Remington. Was anyone she knew capable of conversations that only have one level? Her eyes narrow, she snaps her fingers and said, “Then I meant I wanted to know how he felt.”
Didn’t they all? Only Remington knew how he had felt, and not all too accurate either. Marcus could surmise, deduct, from a higher vantage point than most but they were still only conclusions not facts. Why the feelings of a dead vampire mattered to Stefanie was more important to him than those said feelings.
It’s that Olivier is concerned he’s as incapable of love as his father was, it’s that Tony is aware he never loved him, it’s that she wanted to know if she should be concerned the father she got from humanity, the easier it would be to behave as Remington had. But how could she say that aloud? It would be as bad as if she betrayed Tony’s fears aloud, she wouldn’t do that. How he felt about his father (read: poorly, angrily, guilty, defiant and tortured) was his business. She wasn’t about to offer the same courtesy to Remington. Even if Marcus had just made it sound as though they were foster siblings. (Ick. Maybe especially, because it just sounded like they were siblings).
“I want to know I’m not an anomaly,” Stefanie said a little softer, “that it isn’t impossible for vampires to care, even if they don’t show it or say it. I understand that Remington’s fears about Olivier were his way of…caring, only…I want to know that’s not my only option. I don’t exalt in killing, Marcus, even if I don’t demonize it as much as the cross around my neck would suggest…and I just want…to know it isn’t inevitable I will.”
Marcus smiled, the gesture genuine but also rueful. He lifted his glass and took another sip of wine.
"I’m afraid I’m going to have to disappoint you, Stefanie," he spoke after licking his lips, "You’ve come to the very worst vampire for that assurance. I can’t speak from personal experience but…I don’t believe anything is inevitable."
She should have known that would be his answer, Stefanie thought with a certain amount of childish sullenness and then, sudden as sunlight, a dry little smile. It may be only a figure of speech, but…
"Afraid, you’ll have to disappoint me?" Her smile was sweet now, as she endeavored mightily behind another gulp of wine to keep her mouth from twisting. "As you were concerned by my forgetting to call? And yet you choose words incredibly carefully to reassure me I have a chance? Marcus, I don’t believe your as bad as you think at showing you care."
"Well, you have a distinct advantage," he reminded her, even though it didn’t need to bear reminder, "though try not to tell many people. I have a reputation to uphold, after all." And reputation in Paris was almost everything. Stefanie as a model, as Austria nobility, and as a guest in D’Grey’s manor, would know very well.
"Naturally, I took that secret to my grave," She jested with an ease only a month ago would have been impossible. Fighting. constantly to tell people no, she actually hadn’t died eventually weighed you down. Speaking of weights? This glass was empty. Stefanie put it down, adjusts on the seat and looked him dead on now, smacking cherry red lips.
"All this talk of Remington and the brothers though is about to put me off my supper," She spoke without abash as if she was not the one to bring them up, "or else turn to gushing about Antonio for different vampire stamina related reasons," Stef doubted he wanted to hear that, "so could you please get the waiter and show me how this ordering thing works?"
"Well we can’t have that," Marcus agreed and lifted his hand to beckon Elyan to him after catching his eye. Elyan made his way over to them, asking what else he could provide them with.
"Your personal reserve selections, if you’d be so kind." Elyan nodded and pulled out a tablet instead of a menu, opening up to a page that looked like a list of profiles, with picture thumbnails and the basic characteristics he had described to Stefanie before: age, gender, ethnicity, height and weight, blood type, etc. Elyan then made to hand the tablet to Marcus, but he gestured for him to give Stefanie the tablet directly. She took it, albeit unsuredly and so with a jutting lip and stubborn expression, the same she used to make as a girl.
"I’ll be back shortly with your selection." Marcus nodded and tried not to chuckle. Elyan might as well have said ‘order’ instead of selection.
"This might as well," Stefanie said with wide red eyes cycling through the database of twenty names or so, "be like Facebook omly for relationships you put looking to be sucked or do the sucking…Fangbook. It’s a Fangbook. Ooh, that’s good, I should tell that to Olivier…"
Marcus chuckled as he nodded, agreeing it was something very similar to that. Sure other places didn’t go the technology route and preferred to bring them out like a line up, but this way was more efficient cost wise.
When she saw the prices, she balked even though it did make a ‘modicum of sense’. Of course these donors had to be able to pay exorbitant medical bills, potions to help iron deficiency and undergo blood transfusions regularly likely as not. How else did they pay for it? Biting hard enough on her lip as she paused on a girl, her finger hovered over the stats — twenty two with skin of copper and cornrows, type B neg, taller than Stefanie was even in her heels; ah, she was a dancer, Indian. Her mouth was already watering and she pressed the accept button before even thinking of looking for the girls name. As the profile vanished, she handed over the tablet to Marcus and giggled sheepishly, “I may be a little overeager. Your turn. Question…do we meet with our personal selection in the back room behind us…?”
"Yes," Marcus answered simply, taking the tablet from Stefanie and after a quick skim, chose almost at random, "there are several booths like this one, with privacy curtains but rarely do most use them. We’re not the bashful sort."
No, Stefanie thought to herself, you wouldn’t be. There was a reason she had felt an immediate acceptance. Vampires as a rule were inhumanly beautiful, and not unlike Greek gods and goddesses, lived to hear others remark on it. Their flattery was mouth-watering. Yet right this moment, she had the curious feeling she might use a curtain. Maybe she could ask …(yes, right, must get her name)- the girl what she’d prefer.
Marcus held out the tablet for Elyan and then handed him his credit card to pay right then. Elyan returned his credit card and hid the tablet. Clapping his hands together, he motioned for them to follow him into the back room.
Marcus stood, and offered his hand to Stefanie, “Shall we?”
With a quick lick of her bottom lip and a jerk of blonde hair over her shoulder, Stefanie took it and swept off behind the curtains, asking herself the same question. Shall she?