Philadelphia By Night
Last Tango in Elysium
This story takes place at the June 2009 monthly elysium gathering at Falcon’s Perch
The Ventrue ancillia paused exiting his Lexus to slip the plastic booties off his new pair of Michael Perrys. They cost four hundred dollars more than he could afford but it was important he made a good impression at Elysium tonight. Tonight he was going to come clean to Annabelle and consequences be as damned as his own decayed soul. He smiled at the irony as his fingers deftly adjusted his tie. He had been a vampire, he secretly loved the word, for almost forty years and hadn’t felt so alive since before his embrace. His soul might be decayed, no… it was beyond a doubt decayed, but his heart was afire again and for that Simon Boucher would sacrifice it all. Annabelle was just so… different. Her passion was anything but the passions of the dead. And God was she lovely. Every delicate curve of her dancer’s body. He loved her. He was sure of that now.
The plan was character assassination and it had been beautifully executed. Annabelle Isalene was chosen as the target because she was approachable and well placed with the upstarts. Smudging that image would sow weeds among the Carthians. Simon himself found that covenant distasteful at their best, dangerous at their worst. He had thought that was why Ambroise had recruited him for the scheme. He suspected now it was another layer of the onion, some plan to undermine Luchesi, Simon’s master.
Months of clandestine meetings between him and Annabelle had been meticulously photographed. Under the direction of Baron Ambroise, Simon had been feeding her tantalizing secrets of the Invictus , all relatively useless of course but it would take months if not years to figure that out. It started as a ruse. Simon was to play the lovesick fool. In truth he was grateful for the opportunity to be relevant to the covenant again. His status in Invictus had stuttered to a halt the last decade as he sank into the spiral of a debilitating depression. Ambroise had been uncomfortably blunt. The Baron pointed out that his absence from meaningful Invictus activities was what would make this charade believable. For her part, Annabelle was too quick to take the bait. Her political frustrations displaced her prudence.
Overall the trap had gone smoothly and tonight was the final placement. The reveal. But he had to stop it. He had to come clean to her. Last week Simon had met with Annabelle for the last time. He told her his superiors were getting suspicious, which was true… they were starting to question his motives as he squirmed at the deception. Simon gave Annabelle the diamond broach as he had been directed and asked her to wear it tonight at Elysium. It would be her signal that she loved him, that she would take him in from Invictus. What she didn’t know is that it was all part of the ruse. For the past month Simon had been slyly showing off the broach in the backrooms of The Black Curtain and more publically within Invictus circles. He had been bragging, as instructed, that the broach was to be payment in a bribe to be exchanged for valuable covenant secrets. Ambroise had people working overtime to control the spread of the rumor. It was circulating widely but still deep under wraps. All that was to change tonight when Annabelle arrived at Elysium wearing the broach. The Baron said the damage to her reputation among the rebels would be significant. The Carthians, baring a few notables, are mostly hot blooded riff raff. Discrediting Annabelle would be a strong blow to them. She is their most vocal advocate and in many ways their heart. He understood now why. She was so alive. Everything the stuffy undead were not. Everything he was not. He needed to save her to save himself. If he could fix this mess he had dragged her into she would forgive him and take him to her. She would see everything he was sacrificing! Her Carthian friends would protect him. Sure he might need to leave Philadelphia but perhaps she would leave with him? Or at least welcome him for visits. Simon breathed deeply and sighed, an unnecessary and pointless gesture but a habit he had recently taken up. He climbed the stairs and stepped through the doors of Falcon’s Perch nodding a bright smile at Sophe’s ghoul doorman. The suited gorilla gave him a strange look in return.
Inside Elysium, Simon was met with rank incense and smoky candles. Thick scarlet velvet drapery hung accented by huge tacky chandeliers. The rooms were dark and claustrophobic. He wandered among the gathering passing a handful of kindred dressed like gangsters and flappers feeling distinctly out of place in his Brooks Brothers suit. This added to his growing annoyance at missing Annabelle. He had arrived early to speak with her. Sophe Peregrin had been uncharacteristically unhelpful, preoccupied with that new pup he had heard was supposed to be so dangerous. She was introducing him to that Gangrel bitch that worked for Deep Throat. It was disgusting to see the way those two women doted over him. He had thought Sophe at least had more class than that. Simon didn’t see what was so good looking about his type with his short, unkempt hair and threadbare ruffian clothing. He decided he would have to find Annabelle on his own, and soon if he was to prevent her from falling into the Baron’s trap. It helped to think of the scheme that way. He was not sure she could forgive him if he was too late to stop her from wearing the broach and the thought terrified him.
Anxiously Simon pushed his way through the back door rooms and hallways of Falcon’s Perch. Most were empty this early in the evening but unfortunately not all of them. The smoldering look he got from Nickolas Bergstrom as he interrupted his conversation had chilled him to his spine. He was quite surprised to find him dealing with a member of… who was that… the memory slipped from his grasp. That Crone bastard hadn’t dared fuck with his mind had he? He was a member of Invictus and this was Elysium! No time for that now but Bergstrom would be dealt with to be sure. Unfortunately, Annabelle was not back here. Perhaps she hadn’t arrived yet. Simon exited the hall in time to hear the band transition to a swing tune. How long had he been gone? He tried to choke down a rising panic. From his right Deep Throat stepped into him forcing him back a step. Daniel Gagnier stood behind the Mekhet wearing a practiced expression of boredom. “You better calm down and stop getting distracted,” Deep Throat said. “Just keep to the plan and wait for your cue.”
What was William Blake’s prized protégé doing connected with this? “Of course, of course Master Ito… I was just looking for the lady… to prepare for my role.” Simon pushed out willing his frazzled edges to smooth and soothe.
Ito’s voice softened at bit. “She’s already on the floor, making the rounds.”
Simon’s heart caught in his throat. Had he been mortal his vision would have spun. “Ex.. excuse me gentlemen..” was all he could manage and it came out in a sputtered whisper.
Stumbling on the thick carpet he shoved past a handful of chattering Sanctum and into the central ballroom. Damn this lighting! The crowd was thick now and hidden in candle-thrown shadows that contrasted with the well lit dance floor. A flash of annoyance distracted him as he noted once again that he seemed to be the only one overdressed. He banished the foolish thought as his eyes found Annabelle’s unmistakable silhouette draped in something skin tight. A tall gangly man had her attention and was gesturing at the dance floor. Simon involuntarily smirked as he weaved through the crowd towards her squinting to catch a glimpse of her neck.
A large dusty biker stepped backwards obliviously blocking his path. Another Carthian he assumed. They were everywhere! “What the hell?” the Gangrel muttered. Simon was vaguely aware of the music shifting violently into something distinctly Latin. Ducking around the stunned leather clad thug Simon slipped between two others and scanned the room for Annabelle. The other couples were gracefully exiting the floor clearing room for the two now undisputedly dominating its space. Simon staggered to a halt staring in disbelief as Annabelle and the gangly freak spun and jerked to the tango. The two wrapped around and into each other like they were one dancer. They were having sex on the dance floor, more true in metaphor than if it were happening literally. He had watched her dance before but had only seen Annabelle move like this in his most lurid imaginings. Some part of his flaying mind checked and confirmed that she did indeed wear the broach and Simon coughed and choked spilling blood onto the scarlet carpet. He turned, took a step and everything turned red in his eyes. The rising beat of his dead heart was mercifully drowning out the lewd music and the banister he hadn’t realized he had been gripping cracked. A firm hand closed around his arm and Simon struck out furiously knocking the woman back stumbling. His fangs bared and the beast growled warning at her. Another kindred turned towards him, alerted by the sound.
Get it under control, Boucher — Deep Throat’s telepathic voice pierced his mind like a rapier. This time it was Daniel’s hands that grabbed him and they were like iron. Simon fought the beast but it took his breath from him. He felt ridiculously like he was suffocating. Rage filled him and he tore clothes and scratched the walls as he allowed Daniel and Deep Throat to lead him quickly out of Elysium. The cool air and drone of passing traffic tugged at his consciousness pulling Simon back into his skin. Silently Daniel walked the humiliated Ventrue down the block and opened the back door of a waiting black Mercedes. The interior was all shadows but for a pair of emerald eyes. Simon Boucher was helped into the seat next to Baron Ambroise. Deep Throat pushed the car door shut and the Mercedes drove off.