|Adriana 'Sal' Salazar|
Nearly holding her breath as Kenneth responds, Sal is relieved to see his smile and the warmth in his eyes. The first touch of his lips sends an electric tide through her, almost making her hair stand on end. She responds gently, almost languidly, to the first tentative kisses, but as their understanding grows and embraces become more intense, she has no need for words to inform Kenneth that yes, Sal is indeed in favor of passion.
Some time later - minutes, hours, perhaps days - Sal is jarred from her blissful haze by the scrape of a chair on the wooden floor upstairs. She finds that, somehow, she ended up perched lightly in the bard's lap, her good arm around his shoulders to avoid his pained ribs. She breaks off to catch her breath, dropping brief kisses wherever her lips happen to land between quick snatches of speech. Awareness of others in the house annoys her, as her only wish at this moment is for the two of them to be alone together.
"Kenneth, I could use some air," she whispers quite truthfully, "If I remember right, there's a bright moon out tonight. The grounds here are huge and... very private. Care to walk with me? I could show you how beautiful it is by moonlight." Seeing no point in wasting precious time together, she occupies herself while waiting for an answer by nibbling on his neck. "If your poor ribs can stand some exertion," she adds as an afterthought.
At the Club
The digital light show skitters across the haze and across walls augmenting the graceful moves of the Fey. Entranced by the motion and artistry of the event, more than a few people watch on. However the rave isn't focussed on the duo, for there are many stranger sights too. The bald 5' woman rocking out in leathers, the 400lb man in lycra doing jumping jacks to the rhythm, the twins dancing in perfect synchroncity
A quartet of Bohemian looking types walk over to the graceful pair and introduce themselves, inviting them to a local coffee shop to discuss philosophy, poetry, art.... or basically 'shoot the s~+~' as one of them eloquently puts it. However they seem genuine, thoughtful and most importantly not out of their mind on anything.
Laverna jumps at the chance and soon they find themselves in the shadow of the giant cathedral, the glow of a heater warming the outside - whilst fresh South American coffee prepared in the best Italian styles warm the inside.
Danny's first thought when the 'hip bohemian' crowd introduces themselves is to make sure they're actually human.
What can I say? Hanging with the Fae has made Danny a paranoid sumb!tch.
But he can hardly see through the fog and lights, and even the thought of opening up his Third Eye for a peek makes his aching head throb. Well, Laverna certainly seems intrigued at the prospect of 'shooting the s#%%'. The cool kids wouldn't have noticed, but the calm, cool affirmative that the Fae princess gave was the human equivalent of shouting 'What? intelligent conversation from a human? YES please!' AND jumping up and down like a 5 year old that just got herself a pony.
This once, Danny decides that the risk is on her. (Although some small part of him KNOWS he will likely live to regret that impetuous choice.)
But right now, with the brisk night air slapping his senses back into consciousnesses, and the excellent coffee helping from the inside, Danny starts to feel awake again. He might even be able to participate intelligently in the conversation, if he doesn't forget to turn his brain on first.
Danny decides against trying to steer the conversation into 'safe' territories, as he normally would when riding herd on a Fae who is likely to be insulted as something a normal person would probably find amusing. The entire point of the evening is to teach Laverna about being human. The unspoken agreement is that she will (hopefully) take any untoward comment as part of the educational experience, and not as the immediate call for the man's head, A-La The Red Queen,...
(Funny side note. Danny has found out that the Alice novels were neither drug-induced, nor a thinly-disguised condemnation of the modern government of Lewis Carroll's day. They were based on Carroll's actual experience when the author made his way to Faerie by mistake one day. But that's another story,...)
,... Fortunately, Danny's paranoia seems to be putting in overtime for no reason. The quartet of modern-day beatniks appear to be genuinely interested in actual conversation. And while the looks they give Laverna are appreciative, they refrain from any commenting on her appearance. (Other than one guy who notes, politely, that she made a bold choice with the modern-day conservative business-cut of an,... what was that again? 'pre-apocalyptic adaptation of a post-modernistic nihilistic referenced skirt in a Calvin Klein-esque draped Jacket'.
At which point Danny silently ordered another coffee. And prayed he wasn't out of his league.
From there the conversation went much better than Danny could have hoped. When asked if the lady liked sports, she responded in an enthusiastic affirmative. Then demurely apologized that she hadn't had time to keep up with the local teams in years. (Which was true, as the Lady in question preferred sports from the Medieval era or prior.)
After a few minutes Danny realized that Politics was universal. Even the poor yank from across the pond managed to keep up with what was essentially a commentary on the state of the world in general, and not any one particular leaders faults. (Although a few were mentioned, naturally.)
Danny almost had a heart attack when the most dapper of the group asked Laverna is she had seen the new Star Wars movie yet. But he managed not to spit out his coffee before waving a frantic hand.
"Spoilers mate! Sorry, but I'm pretty sure that she hasn't seen four five and six yet! You do NOT want to ruin that for her now do you?" He grinned. At Laverna's inquisitive eyebrow, Danny knew that he had just volunteered himself for Star Wars Marathon Duty for her highness.
Fortunately for Danny, Laverna HAD seen many of the older classics. And a discourse about the various film styles from the Golden Age of Hollywood was far more diverting to both Laverna and the Fab Foursome than possible Star Wars Spoilers. (Yes, Danny nicknamed the four guys in his head. He does that.)
After that Danny's bleary brain cannot recall what was discussed. But it ran the gamut, as 'good' conversation should do. Noting the time, Danny takes (another) chance, and asks the group if they would like to join them at the blues club.
|Kenneth Evander Finley|
Thus the group head to the blues club. Not a smoky bar of old, but a dimly-lit bar with booths surrounding a dance-floor before a stage. Soft smell of fire-smoke has permeated into the wooden furniture and the band upon the stage are a mismatched group.
Around the room, the few patrons that have shown up are engrossed in the intricate music that seems to soar and take twists and turns so that you never know where it's going next. As Danny and pals, sit down and take notice of blues it seems to have a bit of a jazz riff underscoring some of the melodies. Thus the unexpected roads of harmonies seems to merge with the soulful deep vocals.
Musically it pulls the emotions and you can almost feel that you're on the edge of one of the great American rivers sipping your drinks. The conversation slowly drifts away as the room is gripped by the inspired performance of those on stage - who seem to be performing a one-a-lifetime performance.
After a while Danny looks over to Laverna sat beside him, but....
All that's left on the table is a poker chip, the centre of which has a simple snowflake symbol; an ornate silver cigarette case. Open the case there's a little whoosh of frigid air and inside is a trio of 'cigarettes'. These pale blue cylinders are obviously meant to be lit from one end, however it's not certain that they're meant to be inhaled. Tucked away handily just inside the lid is a calling card;
"If you need me, just light up.L."
In the morning - at the Manor
Molly's sat at the table still looking a little sheepish and at the same time pale, she looks up as Kenneth enters; "Brother." she says with a hint of warmth and a look of contrition. That simple word and the look in her eyes reflect countless conversations left unsaid, both hers and their fathers.
Arjen puts his hand on the crook of her elbow and tells Kenneth that perhaps they'll stay out of Amsterdam for a while. He's thinking of getting a nice gite in Northern France and doing it up, that'll be best to heal their wounds. His tone implies that maybe not all the wounds are physical, but the compassion in his eyes certainly imply that their on the mend.
Spring has sprung and soon the daffodils that surround the walls of the city like a yellow army fade. However they soon fade with the warmth of summer...
April is unusually warm, whereas May proves to be full of showers especially during the holidays - but June becomes a return to a more continental temperatures; which is where we'll rejoin our players.
There's a power vacuum in York. With Lawrence dead, no-one has stepped up to take his place. In fact no-one has seen or heard of any Red Court vampires since....
The werewolves have been very subdued, as Andrew is still recovering from the betrayal of his pack-leader but not yet ready to attempt to challenge for leadership. Whilst Bunny is still working at her club - which is a trifle intriguing since Lawrence was the owner?? However she's doing alot more modelling for Andrew & internet modelling if asked.
The ghouls have been silent for the last few months, they seem to be staying out of the city as is their want. Some rumours say that they're afraid of it or maybe that they have better sense about forth-coming troubles. The ghosts of the city seems to be more prevalent, with the number of sightings going up. This is great news for the mundanes of the city, since tourism has increased too. It's said that the ghost of Dick Turpin has been seen in the streets, recreating his famous ride to London.
There's some dissension amongst the Coven of the Evil Eye. Sara and her mother seem to be having a little disagreement, whilst Tim has fallen in with the artistic crowd that Andrew hangs around with.
|Adriana 'Sal' Salazar|
Still riding the adrenaline rush from an explosive night, Sal grabs a packet of bills the next morning, dresses in her best urban chic, and, ignoring the day-after throbbing of her elbow and burned skin, boards the train to London.
She spends a couple of days in the city catching up with old friends, getting a new phone, visiting the street where she, Trip, and Axemius had stopped the dirty bomb from exploding, and trying to persuade her old clubbing companions to quit using. Their offers to bring her back into the scene are surprisingly easy to dismiss, paling in the glowing future she'd built in her head back in York.
But a couple of days' stay is enough time for the euphoria of victory to wear off and paranoia to set in. She slips out of the city on a train bound for Bristol, spends a couple of hours there, then boards another train for Manchester. Then it's Manchester to Leeds, where she buys a bicycle and pedals the half-day to Trip's manor, thanking the stars for Google Maps on phones.
Back in town, she calls her friends to see if anything has fallen out from the debacle with the Poppy Queen, checks in with Letitia and Soph Lauren about the favor Letitia had asked of her, and is pleased that they are able to wrangle a cheap apartment in York and a part-time job at the University without a lot of checking of IDs.
The job, though a cover for the favor, starts out interesting but quickly feels pointless. She tries to tell herself that it's helping educate future generations, but shoving around piles of paper seems so pointless after disarming a nuke and destroying a vampire. Boring, pointless, mundane... if it weren't for her little covert mission, she'd quit in a heartbeat.
Then evenings alone in the apartment turn out to be so very, very long. What did I do with myself in London? You shot up, went clubbing, and did whatever you wanted with whoever you wanted, an unwelcome little voice answers. But that's not what she wants to do now. Is it? She buys a TV and watches a few lurid crime shows, the only things that appeal. One shows the capture of a fugitive after decades on the run. The camera lingers on the faces of the man's wife and children as he is hauled away, unforgiven after building a decent life for himself and supporting a family. She pauses the show, staring at the shock and disbelief of his family for a long time, feeling the cozy little fantasy of a normal life starting to crumble away at its foundations. Suddenly furious, she pounds down the stairs to the street, waylays a couple of young men, and offers them the new TV (complete with cash receipt) if they would just take the damned thing away. Once they examine the receipt and establish between themselves that it's probably real, they take it away, to Sal's relief. But then there's the emptiness and silence.
She makes a few brief attempts to patrol the streets at night, clambering across the tile roofs quite easily and silently, nearly invisible in dark urban camo. But beyond drunks, couples rows, and barking dogs, there isn't much to see. The Spiderman method of fighting crime is seriously inefficient, she thinks wryly as she swings back in through her garret window. The clock says it's only 11 p.m., though she's sure it must be near dawn.
What to do, what to do? Feeling like ants are crawling on her bones, she paces around the little flat. Go drinking? Dancing? Get high? The stupid thoughts keep sneaking into her head, along with the knowledge that the better part of a packet of Poppy money is stashed in the room with her. That potion Kenneth gave me sure helped. Maybe he could make something like that again? What, trading one addiction for another? the dark voice mocks. It's not addiction, it's just... a little help to get through the night. But she has to admit that mocking little voice has a point. Maybe that's what she is doing. Maybe she should quit kidding herself and admit that the Poppy Queen won after all; that she is just a damned junkie, pure and simple.
She dresses, jams the money in her pocket, and hastens out onto the streets.
Only to find herself jog-trotting past all the places she is likely to score what she wants. She settles into the rhythm of running, breathing, booted feet pounding the pavement, and clings to the habits of discipline like the edge of a precipice. She finds herself heading east out of the city, running while she can, jogging until she can no longer lift her legs, then walking to rest up before breaking into a run again. Miles creep by as she pounds along country roads under the starlight, stopping only to plunge her face into the occasional river or stream, not caring how muddy they might be. The sky grows light ahead, but she continues, pushing past exhaustion into a numb, automatic stupor, knowing that she is safe now, she'll never make it back to town in this state. All she has to do is keep going.
Fothergill is quite surprised to see Sal stagger, red-faced and drenched, into the kitchen in the early dawn light. She grabs a pitcher of water and guzzles it in short, controlled intervals as she paces around the courtyard, cooling down. An hour later, she demolishes a breakfast worthy of three farm hands and staggers off to her former bedroom. Wisely allowing her to sleep herself out, Fothergill has more food waiting for when Sal arises, but is disturbed before that by the arrival of a decrepit automobile on a flatbed truck. His efforts to send it away are interrupted by a limping Sal, who waves them in and has them push the old thing into a vacant bay of the garage. She counts out money - not a lot - and pays the men, then disappears into the bay, emerging only to lug tools from the shop into the bay. There's a great deal of pounding, squeaking, and cursing from the garage.
When she finally returns to the house hours later to polish off what must be most of the remaining food in the place, there's a new light in her eyes. She stays at Trip's for the weekend, then goes back to the University Monday morning, begging a ride of the patient butler. That night, a new TV populates the apartement, along with an Xbox and laptop. She settles in for the evening with Battlefield 4 and a repair manual for her latest vehicular acquisition. But tonight, there's no wad of cash stashed in the apartment - just a few bucks in her pocket for food. And that's how she wants it.
Two nights later, she pauses outside the door of a ratty, rundown looking building. A woman pushes past her, then turns and scrutinizes her closely. "This is probably the place you want. Come in."
Sal enters and stands a little away from the group of people in the room as they mingle and chat before finally taking their seats. Minutes later, she screws her courage to the sticking point and answers the call. "Hi. My name's Sal, and I'm an addict."
Sal falls into the habit of staying in town on weeknights and at Trip's on weekends, working on the old car she bought for cash. She spends evenings in her apartment, at meetings, or at the weekly church service. A decent tattoo parlor is also on her routine, where the tribal armband of her former squad is transformed into a band of black foliage, adorned with five blood-red poppies. Once that is finished, she has the artist start on a design around her left wrist, where a patch of skin made it through the inferno undamaged thanks to a set of charred beads. The design looks very much like her rosary, wrapped there as it was that night, only some flight of whimsy has her request an ojo de dios in place of the original cross.
Unlike her first, solitary sojourn in York, Sal contacts people this time, getting together to eat, drink, laugh, and talk with her new friends, cajoling Morien to take her out on Mote, trying to catch her musician friends' gigs, occasionally dining with Letitia, and doing her best to fill her life with... well, life.
|Adriana 'Sal' Salazar|
|Kenneth Evander Finley|
|Adriana 'Sal' Salazar|
Sorry, I had come up with the idea for the chapter & ended up trying to do too many hooks & make it too perfect - whish is silly since my GM-strength is stupid improv, not planning :P
CHAPTER 4 - Down the River
Spring had given way to Summers delicate touch, the Viking festival was upon the city of York - celebrating it's heritage and their indefatigable spirit against the Nordic raiders. Since Lawrences death there had been an unearthly quiet than had descended upon the supernatural community, in many ways as if the locale was still in shock at the death of the immortals and the city was feeling the shock at the vacuum in power. However it must soon be filled and there were murmurings amongst the spirits that roamed this most haunted of English cities.
There were said to have been disappearances from some of the more supernatural inhabitants of the city, however today was a happier time - a festival to celebrate the past and a renewal for the future.
The sounds of pipe & tabor fill the air with upbeat Celtic-folk music, that drifts across the park. Vast tracts of greenery compose the park upon the rivers edge, the Museum Gardens are well manicured with a host of bustling tents and entertainments - each one having a host of people moving around it. However the gala isn't too outrageously busy, just enough to feel a palpable sense of excitement without the oppressive sense of throngs of humanity.
There are numerous stalls and events going on, from:
All of these is in the shadows of the museum and an ancient ruins of a castle. The midday sun is out and providing the event with a warm glow that brings out the best in the British populace, or at least the minimal amount of clothing as they rush to make the best of the rare sight of sun.
Danny stops walking to take in the view of the entire Park. He scans everything, from the Museum, to the tents of the Fair, to the ruins of the castle. Seeing the Merry-Go-Round and the Morris Men Danny shakes his head with a wry smile.
"It's the Picnic scene from Mary Poppins!" He declares to Min and Lin, who are each hanging on an arm. (Making it VERY difficult to carry his guitar case. So he slings it on his back.)
The girls do an excellent FGS (Fan Girl Squeal) and tug Danny's arms to get him moving again. He is wise enough not to try and fight them. The twins are as bright eyed and eager to get to the fun as any of the children.
"Come ON!" The girls say in perfect stereo. Laughing, Danny follows willingly. He can't help it. When the girls go into full-on Twinsies/Stereophonic Speaking Mode he knows there's no changing their minds. Although he suspects it's more because he LIKES following the twins. He certainly appreciates the view.
Shaking his head, Danny steps back in between the girls. "Alright alright! But I remind you, there will be no marathon Ball-Throw Prize winning until AFTER I get paid for the gig at the beer tent." He says in his best 'Firm-Daddy' voice.
The girls roll their eyes.
"Like money is ever a problem!" Says Min.
"We've got you covered!" Agrees Lin.
"We pay, you play."
"The Stuffed Prizes are ours!"
"We treat you, you treat us,"
"A little this, a little that,"
"A little T!t, a little Tat,"
"It's a mutually beneficial arrangement!" The twins lean into Danny at the same time.
Danny's eyes shift in surprise from side to side. The twins are Fun to joke and flirt with. (Yes. With a capitol 'F'.) And they give as good as they get. (Hence the fun!) But they are usually more, 'proper', in public at least. Daddy's orders. (The dance club is another story!) The fact that they are already acting like schoolgirls with a crush means they are in 'Fun-Time' mode. And Danny thought the fair would be nice and boring after that LAST round of excitement they had a few weeks ago.
Yep. Danny didn't need his tea leaves read to see cold showers in his future.
Danny moves his hands from the girls arms to their waists and pulls them just a smidge closer, matching his own hips to the girls swaying walk.
"Okay then ladies, Let's DO this! Those Carnies won't know what hit em!" Danny declares to all in earshot.
"BUT, If I see a nanny with a parrot-headed umbrella, I am OUTTA here! I'll face Trolls, Vampires and Werewolves, but I am NOT pi$$ing HER off!" He adds Sotto Voice, his eyes wide in mock fear.
All three laugh and skip forward together singing "We're OFF to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of OZ!"
The effect is somewhat ruined by Danny's guitar attempting to beat the back of his head with every skip, and their mutual reluctance to lose the hip contact, which turns their skip-along into more of a trip-along. Which causes them to burst into yet more peals of laughter, drawing amused glances from the other attendees as they enter the fair grounds.
|Adriana 'Sal' Salazar|
The prospect of spending a weekend in her apartment in town didn't seem nearly so dreary now that summer and the Viking Festival were here. Besides, the last time she'd worked on her "new" car back at Trip's place, she'd made such an oily mess in the kitchen that the cook had shot her a look that made her duck instinctively, accustomed to a stinging slap from her mother or grandmother when she had seen that same look in the past.
And so she had called Letitia, to see if the Warden planned to attend the festival. After the resulting yes, they made plans to meet at the festival for dinner and drinks and whatever else might strike their fancy. Sal found herself out and about early, though, unwilling to miss one minute of the beautiful day waiting around inside. Freed from the constraints of school and work, she slipped into an outfit more appropriate for Soho than the University offices: a short black dress (or long T-shirt) with a huge skull printed across the front, black hightops (also with a skull motif), and a short black leather jacket that concealed her shoulder harness and little pistol. She tossed on Goth-dark makeup and spiked her growth of new hair, just to keep in practice. Her piercings were all filled too, to keep the holes open and to go with the overall look. A few random black leather straps completed the theme. Since the fairgrounds were only a few blocks from her apartment, she put wallet and keys in the jacket pocket, and bounced down the stairs and out the door to the sunny street.
Thin and lithe, Sal has no problem slipping around the small groups making up the light early crowd scattered across the fairgrounds. She moves quickly to get the lay of the land and an idea of the exhibits and attractions, then works her way back the other way, checking out anything that caught her eye the first time through. First off, she buys a bottle of mead and sips it while meandering slowly through the fair, marveling at it being legal to carry an open bottle in public. The mead's flavor is interesting, but not altogether to her taste. Worth the try, though. Stuff could grow on ya.
She's pleased to see from the schedule of live performances that Danny will be playing in the beer tent later. Wonder if his Tong Ladies will attend. Now that's a weird situation. Not going near it. Shaking her head, she skims lightly past the children's rides, ignoring the stares of the roadies at her bare legs; she's uncertain whether they are staring at the amount exposed skin or the several large brownish patches which still mark where the burns from the night of Lord Lawrence's demise have healed. Still, her time in Soho taught her to ignore stares. To be honest, she didn't care what they were looking at or thinking.
The exhibits are familiar yet strange, diesel fumes from the rides and scent of food bringing memories of neighborhood fairs from childhood. Unconsciously, she avoids the booths set up nearest the Ouse, its sparkling wavelets looking nothing but sinister these days. The only time she feels comfortable around water is when Morien is around to make it seem less hostile; otherwise, it's nothing but a great, gaping void full of menace and debt.
The maypole and Morris dancers are all new and intriguing, but she can't help but feel the whole proceeding is a bit... well, phallic. She blushes a bit at the thought and moves along to the "battlefield", watching the combat demonstrations and mock battles with an uncomfortable mixture of curiosity and dismay. War isn't a game, she thinks, but can't help but be interested in the ancient weapons and methods, so different from her own.
The craft stalls catch her attention for the first time ever. Now that I have a place of my own, maybe I should get something to decorate it. I'm becoming so damned domestic! She meanders through the booths, the mead unexpectedly rich, warm and a bit head-swimmingly strong, goggling at the display of varied goods and unable to make a decision from the bewildering variety. Browsing some metal artwork, she glances up and, to her surprise, recognizes the couple manning the booth.
"Laura! Sven!" Sal smiles in greeting, then remembers to lift the stuffed Viking horned helmet with braided red yarn beard off her head so they would have a chance to recognize her. Slightly embarassed, she tuckes the somewhat juvenile purchase under her arm and offers her free hand. "I'm Sal. We met at that, um, eventful gallery opening a while back. It's good to see you! I hope today is somewhat less exciting." She waves at the stuffed helmet and beard a bit sheepishly. "Er... I think the mead drowned my better judgement."
|Kenneth Evander Finley|
Kenneth looks over the fairgrounds with an appreciative whistle, Ach, this isnae the mess I feared it would be... I mean, aye, 'tis chaos, but it seems tae be the fun sort ay chaos... and at least it isnae a giant pile ay cheap tourist baubles and neo-pagans that wouldnae ken a real druidic ritual if it bit them, like at that fair in Kilarney.... though I cannae say that the dancing 'round the fire wasnae a fair spot ay fun... though I cannae recall a single one ay those witches... I really did only have eyes for Cait... Though, speaking ay that, Sloane is supposed tae be here with some ay the 'special' brew..
The bard straightens his sporran then pulls himself up to his full height, trying to look over the heads of most of the crowd, scanning it for a familiar face, then suppressing a laugh when he spots Danny and the twins. That one seems tae enjoy dancing with danger e'en more than I dae, Lady. I cannae help but wonder if ye've sent me here just tae keep a mortal alive that ye find amusing, e'en if he isnae native tae your isle... He reaches back, straightening the guitar in the soft-case, 'Tis as bad as carrying a claidhmor... though, the plus side ay Laura working today is that it didnae sit between us on the bike.
The bard looks up to the sun, Still a few hours 'ere I'm tae play, and it shouldnae take all that long tae find Sloane... though as much as I might find a tankard inviting, there's a bit ay time tae kill... So, I'm thinking I'd best offer Baldur the Lady's greeting... and my own.. The thought trails off as Kenneth notices an unfamiliar green-eyed freckled beauty waking over to the games, ..a'course, Baldur's nigh-immortal and I suppose it would be untoward tae nae introduce myself... and, a'course, impress the lovely lass... in the Lady's name.
With that, the bard heads toward the overpriced game booths, a broad smile on his face, ...fortunately, I've more than a wee bit ay experience at being impressive. He looks around and then chuckles, A'sides, it seems that Sal will be keeping Baldur company for a wee spot... though I must say that it's good tae see her.
Edwyn’s opa had always warned him that smoking would kill him one day. As always, the old man knew better than him; what was more, he ended up speaking from experience. Unfortunately, stress had its way of reigniting discarded bad habits. He had not touched a cigarette in almost a decade. The good news was that he did not have to worry about it killing him anymore. The joke was on his opa, he supposed, but it was not very funny. He lets out a low chuckle anyway, for old times’ sake. Deciding that break time is over, Edwyn pulls out his pocket ashtray and puts out his cigarette; he was not about to add littering to his list of bad habits.
Stepping away from the tree he had been leaning on, Edwyn moves to wander the fairgrounds in search of his mark. After months of false starts and leads that went nowhere, he finally had something that resembled an achievable goal. Considering how long he had been on the case - longer than any he had ever taken before, certainly - it was embarrassing how little information he had managed to gather. Even more frustrating was his client, who insisted on being as cryptic as possible. If he were less pragmatic, the detective would worry about how this would all affect his reputation. Grounded as he was in reality, he knew full well that he had bigger problems on his hands. Problems that he would have to tackle when he wasn’t on the job.
While unfortunate, being a tourist was a convenient cover. Edwyn’s pallor drew the occasional odd stare, but to the common eye he was just a rather pasty foreigner. Far from flattering, but he preferred to keep it that way. To add to his cover, he occasionally stops to gawk at the nearest attraction, making sure to snap plenty of photos with his camera. For posterity, of course. To polish the illusion, he helps himself to the local cuisine, settling for a sandwich that was probably packed with a little too much protein. Despite assurances that he could eat and drink normally, Edwyn took each bite with the enthusiasm one could find in someone chewing on an old sock. It was a pitiful sight, really.
As he munches on his sandwich, Edwyn watches the picnickers without making it terribly obvious that there was someone he was looking for. The woman in the lilac summer dress, and her husband. He very much doubted that it would be difficult to find them. Since staying incognito was out of the question, he could only hope that she did not recognize him. Considering how well the last time they were in a room together went, he could only imagine how awkward things could get. He was already half-expecting a shootout, or for something nearby to burst into flames. These days, expecting the worst possible outcome did not seem so crazy.
|Adriana 'Sal' Salazar|
Sal leaves the booth with a cheery wave of her hand to the couple, clutching the horseshoe she had purchased for good luck in the other. Resuming her stuffed Viking headgear, complete with yarn beard, Sal resumes her stroll, this time deciding to definitely get nearer the river. I'm not going to let fear of that stupid water rule my life forever, she thinks, drifting down the Tower Gardens path for a dozen yards or so. Her steps gradually slow as she nears the sward bordering the river. Close enough. No point rushing things. Yeah, good time to leave now.
She turns from the sparkling water to return to the museum and the fair proper, when she spots a tall, handsome, auburn-haired man sauntering around the gaming booths, chatting up a young beauty. With a grin, she pauses to consider joining the pair, then is distracted by the sight of a pale man munching on what is apparently a sawdust sandwich meandering towards the river. There’s something familiar about him, isn’t there?
Secure in her wooly Viking disguise, she strolls closer so their paths nearly cross. Finally, a memory of a kind face from a horrible time in her life clicks in. Walking briskly, she makes a beeline for the guy and "accidentally” bumps him off the sidewalk, grabbing onto his shirt as if for balance.
”YOU!” she hisses, eyes blazing, ”What are YOU doing here, ya punk? Come to give up my name? No, of course not, because you already did, didn’tcha? DIDN’TCHA?” Fury seems to bring out her Chicago accent, which had been in a fair way to being tamed by her time in a civilized land. ”Joke’s on you, bub - they already know. They knew it in London. Knew everything. So you’re too late. Or are you just here to ID me and get the reward?” She glances around nervously, giving the hapless man a shake, then switches her grip to his forearm to be slightly less noticeable. ”Geez, buddy, put on a sweater. You’re like ice…”
Sal’s tirade trails off as she realizes how very cold Edwyn is. What the hell? She gapes at him in astonishment.
Danny was having a great time. He had forgotten how much he loved the 'playing medieval', as opposed to having to 'GO medieval' when dealing with his 'other job'.
Between just having a general good time at the fair, watching others enjoy themselves, (clueless to the darker nature of the things they laughingly played at), and the twins apparently delighting in sending him mixed messages to unravel, Danny was enjoying himself thoroughly.
The twins had devoured at least 3 power-sugar-covered pastries that Danny was fairly certain never existed way back then, they had shared a turkey leg, and had played several antiquated versions of modern carny games. They laughed far harder and louder at the puppet show and the comical sword fighting demonstrations than the jokes actually warranted, just because they could. They were walking along arm-in-arm, doing an adequate 'Dorothy, Scarecrow, Dorothy' impersonation, on their way to watch some of the jousting and open-field combat planned for the day. A glance at his watch reminded Danny that he hadn't found his tent for his small gig yet, (In his defense, the place was HUGE, and they were having fun!) but he still had time.
(He hadn't had this much fun in ages, especially with the twins. He would MAKE time!)
Off to the side he noticed a couple stumble into each other. They weren't the only ones who had enjoyed the 'authentic' ales and such the fair provided. But his gaze lingered, there was something familiar,... as the girl turned towards him slightly, seeming to hold onto the man for mutual support, Danny realized it was Sal.
'Wow. She looks good.' Danny silently observed. He watched as Sal speaks to the man. Funny, Danny thought Sal didn't drink? The guy must have stumbled into her. Danny was deciding that they must be alright whenhe was interrupted by a petite, snapping hand in front of his face. One of the twins, (He wasn't even sure which one it was. Danny had also been happily sampling the authentic beverages.) was trying to get his attention.
"Hello? Earth to Danny? Come in Danny." The girl on his right said.
"Maybe we wore him out? We don't usually have any trouble keeping his attention." Said the girl on his left.
"Oh I hope not. The day is young. We're not even to the night yet." Came the saucy reply from the right.
Danny sighed mentally. He was either going to need another drink, or a cold shower by the time this day was done. Or both.
"Ladies, please." Danny smiled, turning his full attention back to the twins.
"Only a dead man could fail to have his attention riveted by the two of you. Although trying to keep up with both of you MAY kill me."
"Only one way to find out!" Danny added in a deeper, husky voice, waggling his eyebrows suggestively.
Feigning shock, both the twins pulled away in mock alarm, but neither relinquished their grip on their respective hand of Danny's, pulling him forcefully along in their wake.
Laughing, Danny did his best to catch up before he ended up tripping and falling on his face. they continued towards the field events, Sal forgotten behind him.
Edwyn blinks at the bearded woman, sawdust sandwich still firmly held in his free hand. Seeing as she seemed more interested in yelling at him than in causing him any bodily harm, he makes no attempt to extract himself from her grasp. Instead he takes advantage of the proximity to look her up and down, looking past her ridiculous guise and discerning her true identity. It does not take long for the gears in his head to start whirring. You've got to be kidding me...
Usually Edwyn was a bit more careful about running into former clients while on the job. There was always the risk of confidentiality being breached. But even back in Amsterdam it did not happen all that often, so he sure as hell did not expect it to happen in York of all places. Yet here he is, being accosted by a woman he was rather certain that he would never see again. The woman with the vampire story. Even with all of the oddness that he was familiar with, it had sounded so crazy, so unbelievable at the time. And then the last month happened. The whole thing was just one bad joke after another. This time, Edwyn does not laugh.
The detective calmly waits until the end of the woman's tirade before cutting her off, unwilling to let her delve too deeply into his problems.
"Miss Salazar, right?" he finally replies, attaching a name to a face. How could he forget it? He was the one that gave it to her, after all. An exception to an unspoken rule. For now, he sticks with the usual spiel; professionalism, and all that. "I take client confidentiality very seriously. Especially when said client is off the books. So I can assure you, our meeting here is strictly coincidental."
Only now does Edwyn attempt to remove his arm from Sal's grasp, before she has the chance to ask any awkward questions. He looks her up and down again, noticing that she looks a lot better off than the last time he saw her. Better off enough to make him wonder what could have possibly went wrong. Still, he was not about to let his curiosity drag him off on yet another tangent. Not when he finally had a lead on this ridiculous case.
"Look, I don't know what happened to you, but I'm a little preoccupied at the moment. I'm on another job." As though to emphasize this point, he glances about, a little more exaggeratedly than he normally would.
|Adriana 'Sal' Salazar|
"You... you're brushing me off?!" Sal whispers fiercely, "After you set me up with a name that was recognized by guys who PUT A FREAKIN' NUKE IN SOHO? Who else knew besides you, me, and... a ghost? Who else could give me up? And it's Ms. Lopez now, since I had to go all the way to Edinburgh to get a new name." Not that I minded THAT trip. "Just call me Sal. It works for all of my names and it's safer than remembering my current name."
What the... a nuke? If it were not for the fact that the last crazy story Sal told him ended up being true, he would probably walk away there and then. It's not like there was a dead boyfriend to vouch for her this time. As usual however, he just could not help himself. He glances around one more time before giving Sal his undivided attention.
"Look, there are plenty of people and... things that could have figured you out," he reasons, keeping his voice just low enough to be covered up by the din. Of course, there was precious little he could do to stop anything spooky from listening in. "I don't know who exactly you managed to piss off, but if they found you even with the cover I gave you, then I don't think just changing your name is going to do much."
|Adriana 'Sal' Salazar|
"What? But we were the only ones who knew, right?" Sal glances around as if expecting Men in Black behind every tree. "How could they find out? And they tied the name you found for me to my old service records. How? Dude, I just took off my tinfoil hat and started getting comfortable here."
Sal's voice turns quieter as she scrutinizes Edwyn. "You don't look well, man. And... I never paid you or anything. I couldn't then. I have some money now; I can pay what I owe. Or if you need help here in town, I know some folks - normal and very much not - and can maybe get information if you need it. I mean, I'm pissed that my alias was blown, but I'm still grateful for your help. You got me here, at least, and that has meant everything." She looks a little abashed at her earlier outburst.
Edwyn frowns. The truth was, there were a few other people that knew about the little arrangement he made for Sal. People who he could usually count on to keep their lips sealed. There were not exactly many people asides from him they could mouth off to; they were dead, after all. I'm going to need my own g+!&n tinfoil hat at this rate.
"Not a clue," he replies, shaking his head. In situations like these, he did not feel like he was very smart. "But you know what? You look pretty well off, considering all the b%+%@$ you say you've gone through. Better than the last time I saw you. So something had to have worked out, yeah?"
As the topic of payment comes up, Edwyn initially raises a hand in objection. Money did not seem to be an object to him at the moment - the platinum card in his wallet felt almost felt like a brick to him. When she mentions information however, his arm freezes.
"I might take you up on that," he concedes, averting his eyes to the crowd once more.
|Adriana 'Sal' Salazar|
"Yeah, a lot of things have worked out, and I don't want to see them ruined. I don't have money with me, but tell me what I owe and I'll get it. Cash OK? Heck, you could come to the house for a hot meal. God knows you need it." Sal scrutinizes the man closely. She may be looking better, but he certainly isn't. He looks awful.
He'd helped when she was in trouble. She certainly wasn't going to leave the guy in the lurch.
"I can't accept payment for a half-assed job," Edwyn replies genuinely, shaking his head. It didn't show, but he was growing increasingly uncomfortable; it almost felt as though Sal could see right through him. Under ordinary circumstances, he would have been all too happy to look into what blew her cover. Follow-up appointments were always covered by company policy, after all. But the longer the two of them stayed in contact, the greater the risk of her figuring out what was going on with him.
"And look, you don't have to worry about me. I'm just... a bit ill. Nothing a few pills can't fix." Yeah, right.
|Adriana 'Sal' Salazar|
Sal had always loved her abuela, but had recognized from childhood that the woman was a terrible busybody. Her youthful resolution to never be like that weighed heavily at the moment. She was seized by an urge to shake the man and find out what the heck was going on. Common sense indicated that he wouldn't have let her blunder into him if he'd known she was here, so his visit probably had nothing to do with her. Paranoia whispered otherwise.
He did me a favor when I desperately needed it. If he had betrayed me - intentionally, anyway - he wouldn't have come anywhere near me. No way he knew I was here. Even though he's an investigator. Shut up, brain.
"OK. I know a brush-off when I get one." Sal smiles to show there are no hard feelings. "Look, here's my number. I live in town during the week and not too far out on weekends. Give me a call if you need anything or want to get together. Thanks again for the help. You saved my life." She scribbles her number on a piece of sandwich paper, tearing a corner off the wrapper before he can stop her and shoving it back once it's been numerized.
"Enjoy the fair. It's a gorgeous day for it!"
Sal takes her horseshoe and strolls off.
"Yeah... You do the same," Edwyn murmurs as Sal walks off in a totally different mood than she had approached him in. It was almost like she was a totally different person; he supposed that she was, after a fashion. He had done right (or wrong) by her, and now she wanted to help him. She had seemed so surprised to run into him, but only now does it occur to him how large of a coincidence it really was. He couldn't just brush it off and say "small world" anymore... especially now that he knew how big the world really is.
Glancing at the piece of sandwich wrapper she scrawled on, Edwyn transfers it to his pocket. I'm not sure I like this, he thinks, taking a big bite out of his sandwich. Maybe it was his imagination, but it didn't taste so bad anymore. Someone is playing at something.
|Adriana 'Sal' Salazar|
Sal quickly bebops back home to drop off the silly headgear and horseshoe, and to change into less conspicuous jeans, t-shirt, and boots. She pulls a tweed cap over her curls.
Then she heads back to the fair to see the sights, particularly if those sights include Edwyn Mulder.
She wasn't sure which Edwyn was, but she was darn sure going to find out as long as he was on her turf.