Denial Is Not Just a River in Egypt

by Aidan Boyle
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IC Date: February 18th, 2011 — Late Night
This scene takes place following the log entry A Flare for the Truth

Leaning back in the office chair, Aidan kicks his feet up on the desk. He tilts his head back, gaze focused on the ceiling and twirls a pen absently between his fingers. The kitchen is cleaned up and the books are closed for the night, and all those things that give the illusion of normalcy and humanity are carefully tied up in a neat little bow and can be put aside. The drumming, buzzing pulling and twisting beneath his skin is back, and though he has no need to feed, Aidan has a powerful desire to simply hunt.

He wants a true hunt, without the pretense of the pub and the drinking and the chatting up alcohol addled lust filled women like a playboy on the pull; one where he courts the dark and the shadows, where he revels in the sound of the racing heart and the tinge of adrenaline and fear that spice his prey’s scent and linger on tongue long after the blood is gone. Aidan wants to feel the panic in the flailing of arms as the body fights against him, as his victim writhes in terror while he drains the very living essence and leaves nothing but an empty vessel.

Aidan needs it. He needs something to remind himself of what he is and to regain the equilibrium that he has been fast losing all night. Certainly, he went through the motions: the congenial smiles, the helpful assistance, praise — and constructive criticism — given in the kitchen when and where needed. The disguise he wears has been sharpened and honed by years of practice, and playing human is as easy as putting on a shirt. Or taking it off.

“Karma is a bitch,” Aidan murmurs to the empty office. He has many flaws and he knows his arrogance tops the list, but he’s not so stupid as to waste time and energy lying to himself. There is not a single doubt in the Vampire’s mind what (whom) it was that ignited that hungry need to prove to himself that he is a dangerous predator and that humans are merely chattel for food and amusement.

She is just another mortal, fragile, weak human woman. Perhaps she is special (as he most definitely suspects that she is, though he cannot put the why of what causes him to feel this way into words); perhaps she is not. There is no reason that she should not have passed into and out of his attention, fading like a wisp of smoke when the night is done. (Except that his karma is coming back to bite him repeatedly on the ass, and it has chosen her as its teeth.) No reason why Aidan shouldn’t blink away the thought of her and move onto more easily obtainable prey (she reappears when he closes his eyes, softness and charm, a lovely smile, graceful neck and legs she should never hide behind long skirts) because he takes what he wants and moves on.

He should want to hunt her down. Aidan has her name now (not Grace, the joke is on him and well played too), and finding her shouldn’t prove too difficult. He should want to hunt her and toy with her and break her… but he doesn’t. Aidan has no words for it, nothing to describe what he feels, but there is something that holds him back, something that sings to him that Grace really is no normal human (she’s a hunter at her core, though what she hunts is very different from what he hunts) and that she didn’t cross his path to be taken down easily.

Jacintha Westlake is meant to be a challenge… and Aidan always rises to a challenge.

“You’re still here, then?” Kim’s voice interrupts the erratic circling of Aidan’s mind.

The Vampire drops his gaze from the ceiling to focus on her face. He lifts a brow. “So are you.”

“Yes, well, I’ve just finished locking up. I’m going to head out.” In contrast to her words, however, the woman moves into the office, settling a hip against the office desk.

Aidan watches her movement with a crook to his lips. His eyes dart from her gaze to her hip and back again. The pen does not stop twirling. “This must be some brand new definition of heading out.”

There’s a look on Kim’s face that Aidan knows too well. She’s puzzling him out, reading him as best she can (which is far better than Aidan is comfortable with anyone doing, and she only gets a pass because of what she is to him). “Are you going out tonight?” There’s an unasked question beneath the words, Are you going to feed nicely or should I be concerned?

The pen comes to a halt. Aidan leans forward and stuffs it into the pen holder. He doesn’t answer her question right away, because he’s not sure how to answer it. “I’m presently undecided.”

Kim nods as though she expected exactly that answer. Likely as not that she did because as previously observed she is bloody well skilled at reading his moods (when he lets them flow to the surface). She raises a finger and points it in his direction, circling it around, “I can tell you’re distracted. What’s it about, then?”

He considers sharing the finer details of his current mood, and not because he’s the sharing type. If he thought it might ruffle her a bit, garner a flinch or a flicker of surprise from her, Aidan would spill the detailed descriptions of the singing blood lust beneath his skin. It’s not as easy as it used to be to make Kim squirm and send the color draining, however briefly, from her face and he’s not feeling quite energetic enough to try that hard. His Kim is jaded, although not as jaded as she will be in another ten years (if he hasn’t turned her by that time, because really it would be a terrible thing to let that beauty start to fade and waste away to human mortality), and that means that messing with her head is sometimes more work than Aidan’s willing to expend.

Aidan tilts her a self-deprecating grin. It’s a rare thing, made even more so by its sincerity and lack of overt calculation. “I am apparently a victim of my own neuroses.”

“I could have told you that,” Kim laughs. She pushes off from the desk, accepting that the words — and the utter lack of anything else tangible — are the only response she’s likely to get for her concerned inquiry. “I’m off then to get a few hours sleep lest I get an early morning wake up call.” Her brows raise meaningful, so much more left unspoken between them. She raps the desk with her lacquered nails, “Have a good night, Aidan.”

“You too, Kimmy.” The childish delivery of the nickname that she so despises is worth it for the tightening around her lips and the brief narrowing of her eyes. Still, his personal assistant says nothing more, only responding with a wave of her hand over her shoulder as she departs the office.

“I found Grace,” Aidan continues before she’s completely out of the door. He rolls the name, Grace, on his tongue, tinting it with more than a small hint of frustration. “She was here tonight.”

“Here?” Kim stops in the doorway, her hand resting on the door frame. Aidan hears her surprise, can almost hear the wheels in her head spinning rapidly. “Really? I’m surprised you didn’t say anything.” Unspoken, underscored, Aidan still hears it: I thought you’d gotten that out of your system.

“I am the consummate professional,” Aidan reminds her. The frustration bleeds into a smirk, and for all that it matters, if he’s not dismissing it, he certainly isn’t dwelling. “Her real name is Jacintha Westlake. She was here on business.” A brief pause while he considers his next move, “Send her flowers. Not roses or carnations —”

“Too cliche for you?” Kim interrupts.

The interruption doesn’t bother him. He nods in agreement, “Everyone sends roses. It’s been so overdone that I don’t even think half the population of London knows how to be original about it anymore. Anyway, make them orchids. I’ll text you with what I want to put on the card.”

The curl of Kim’s mouth shows that she is amused by the request. “Why orchids?”

“Orchids are a representation of luxury, beauty, elegance and strength.” Aidan rests his elbows on the desk and laces his hands beneath his chin. He rolls his eyes dismissively, “Love as well, sometimes, but that’s not the meaning I’m hoping to send.”

“And you think she’ll get all that from a bouquet of flowers?” Kim tilts her head, a known prerequisite to teasing. In the next beat, she doesn’t disappoint, “Or maybe what she’ll perceive is stalker?”

His laughter is genuine, the mock-teasing taken well enough. “Either one works well enough for me.” Though Aidan suspects that Jacintha is just the sort of woman whose curiosity might lead her to discover the symbolism of the flowers. “It will mean she’s thinking about me.”

Kim shakes her head, but the smirk stays in place. “Fine. Orchids. By courier?”

“Wait on a florist delivery? You know me better than that.”

“Good night, Aidan.” Kim leaves then, and this time he doesn’t call her back.

Aidan does watch her departure (her ass, if he’s being truthful about it because she is an attractive woman and the dark dress almost nearly the color of drying blood is one of his favorites and he can appreciate the aesthetics even if there are certain lines that he will not cross.) He realizes that his reaction is also partly a symptom of the disease, and the cure is so very far out of reach that it makes him itch to just think about it.

“Fuck it,” Aidan growls. He turns to the small cabinet behind the desk and in a few blurs of motion he has out a bottle of Caol Ila scotch whisky and a heavy Waterford glass. “Cheers,” Aidan toasts himself, but doesn’t down the glass entirely. He’s not trying to get sauced, but simply seeking to take off the edge. It takes two glasses before he feels at all relaxed, but it’s enough that Aidan knows he’s wrestled into submission the harder, darker urges that there is not nearly enough time to explore tonight.

Leaned back in the chair again, eyes closed and Scotch cradled between his hands, Aidan makes no promises about tomorrow night and pretends that he isn’t going to think about Grace again.


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