Building a Mystery


by Aidan Boyle
1301504209|%e %b %Y, %H:%M %Z|agohover (updated 1301504561|%e %b %Y, %H:%M %Z|agohover) | 0 comment(s)

IC Date: March 17, 2011 — Early Evening
This episode takes place several days following the blog entry Shadow Dancing

Kim’s often wondered if it’s possible for vampires to have mental health issues. Certainly, Aidan makes the case for such time and again, and she isn’t referring to his sadistic and homicidal tendencies.

Given some of his other behaviors, things like torture and killing, stalking and hunting actually fall within normal parameters of acceptable behaviors for a vampire. It’s the distracted moodiness, the internal retreats, and the coiling tension that affect Aidan for days after his foray into the Undercity that make her wonder. It’s when she finds herself in the kitchen of his loft flat on an uncharacteristic day when they are both scheduled away from Flare (and she actually heeds the schedule and doesn’t become such a controlling Queen Bee that she can’t stay away), and Aidan’s spirits are in a high upswing as though someone threw a switch and fired up his manic engine that she ponders the possibility.

Tonight, the vampire is (mostly) tension free and back to his normal self. There’s a new recipe that he wants to try to cook up, and Kim has been roped into invited to serve as his guinea pig taste tester, as well as his assistant in the kitchen. The air is casual — both are dressed in jeans, a rarity for either of them — and Aidan slides around the kitchen in a tee shirt that molds to his pecs and abs (and she’s sure he would never wear out in public) and on bare feet, dancing to the eclectic mix of alternative and rock coming from the stereo system as he cuts, chops and stirs.

If Kim smiles indulgently at him over the rim of her glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s because she’s both bemused and secretly pleased to see him like this. She knows that Aidan doesn’t relax this much around anyone and that she’s one of the few who do get to see this side of the vampire. It gives her hope that Aidan might be relaxed enough, that his guard might be down enough, that she might be able to find out what’s been going on with him the past few days. And what he’s gotten himself into in the Undercity.

“You’re not dicing.” Aidan plucks the wine glass neatly from her hand and places it on the counter. Hands on her shoulders, he easily — but gently — turns her body and guides her toward the counter with celery and taro plant. “You know you have to carry your weight in my kitchen, Kim.”

She eyes him as he places a knife in her hand. “I’ve been drinking. Sure you want me cutting things? What if I cut myself?” The lift of one corner of Aidan’s mouth combined with the flash of fang and twinkle in those blue eyes tells her all that she needs to know. Kim rolls her eyes and looks away, reaching for the hand sanitizer. “You’re deviant.”

“No,” Aidan occupies the space behind her, his hands on her waist. His chest presses against her back and he rests his chin on the top of her head. “I’m a vampire.

“One doesn’t necessarily cancel out the other.” Kim pushes her elbow out behind her, nudging him back, “Need some room to work here, yeah?”

There was a time when Aidan’s moments of touchy-feely physical affection would have been misconstrued by her. But she was younger then, and halfway in love with the insufferable vampire. Kim’s older now, and while she won’t deny that the attention is pleasant, even enjoyable (humans need tactile contact, they crave it, and for all that she’s grown darker around the edges as she’s matured, Kim’s not jaded enough to deny that) she recognizes the layers and various meanings in Aidan’s touches and flirtations. The vampire is sensual, and Kim thinks that might be one part of Aidan that carried over from when he was a real boy, but he’s also territorial and possessive. Touching her is a projection of power, a softly echoing reminder that she is his; touching her is marking her, as much as he does on the rare times when he feeds from her. It’s better than being peed on.

“Ya know what we should do, Kimmy?” Aidan spins away from her. One smooth motion carries him to her side, leaned back against the counter on his elbows. The nickname earns him an acid glare, not that the vampire pays it any mind. “We should go out. Paint the town red. We don’t spend any quality time together anymore. It’s always work, work, work.”

Kim blinks at him. “Something tells me that we have two different definitions of ‘painting the town red.’” Kim doesn’t even try to hazard a guess at what Aidan would consider quality time.

“No reason that both of them can’t apply, is there?” He’s leaning in again, and again expressing that complete ignorance he has for personal space, pressed against her side with that half-twisted/half-suggestive smirk twisting up his mouth that tells Kim he’s going to try and get a rise out of her. Aidan’s voice is low, like the lulling purr of a cat. He strokes the side of his thumb ever so lightly down her bare arm. “You know that there’s a certain je ne sais quoi about the whole affair when you’re a part of it that speaks to that dark little part of you.”

Kim doesn’t immediately have a response to that. Fortunately, she’s spared as Aidan cocks his head slightly, crystal eyes sliding to the door and squinting at the corners. Before she can ask, the vampire is across the room, throwing the lock and jerking the door open before the bell has sounded completely.

“The fuck?” Aidan swears and then he’s blurring into the corridor beyond, bare feet and all. By the time Kim scrambles over to the door and peers out, Aidan is nowhere in sight. The sound of the stairwell door closing echoes down the hall and to her ears.

Her curiosity carries her forward. She pinwheels an arm, grasping the door frame to steady herself. Looking down, Kim spots the item that tried to send her into a face plant in the corridor: a plain brown wrapped package placed on the doorstep. How is it that Aidan didn’t trip over it in his mad dash?

Damn Vampire. Stupid reflexes.

“Aidan?” Kim calls quietly into the empty hall. Of course, he’s doesn’t suddenly speed up to her side. Pursing her lips, Kim leans down and scoops up the package. She examines it: it’s about as non-descript as packages can come. Brown wrapping paper, a name on the center written in black marker and large block letters: Aodhán.

By the time Kim has carried the package to the dining room table, Aidan reappears. Quite literally, he almost seems to pop out of thin air beside her. The only warning she gets of his arrival is the snick of the door opening and the click of it closing before a cool rush of air blankets her body and his voice is sounding just over her shoulder. “Dammit.”

Kim gives her head a cant. “What was that about?”

“I was trying to catch them, but they got away.” Aidan doesn’t look happy. As well he probably shouldn’t. If someone could outrun him then chances are they weren’t human. His attention shifts to the box on the table, “This is all that was left?”

“Yeah,” Kim nods. “Who’s Aodhán?” Kim has a suspicion that it’s one of Aidan’s many aliases, likely a much older one. She pronounces it Oh-dahn and the wince and look the handsome vampire throws in her direction tells her that she didn’t hit the pronunciation spot on.

“Ay-dhwan,” Aidan corrects automatically and then immediately rolls his eyes in dismissal. “Not that many people even pronounce it like that anymore. Everything’s been Anglicized nowadays.” A beat and he peers at her, “And it’s me. But you knew that. You were just looking for confirmation.”

“Maybe,” Kim shrugs and it’s as much an admission as anything else. She heads toward the kitchen to retrieve her wine glass, calling over her shoulder. “I’ve just never known you by any other names than Aidan or Connor.” The latter had been what he was calling himself when they first met.

“Most people haven’t known me by that name.” Which probably explains why Aidan is scowling at the box, fingers idly tracing the blocky black letters, rather than opening it. “It’s old. Really old and I haven’t used it for centuries.” The usually flippancy highlights his voice, but there’s something else there too, something that Kim can’t quite find a name for.

“How many? Centuries, I mean.” Kim takes a drink from the wine glass. “How many since you’ve gone by Aodhán?” She may not be able to read Celtic, but she has a good ear. Kim knows that she has managed to mimic Aidan’s tone and inflection, even the odd ‘dh’ sound that doesn’t have a phonetic equal in the modern English language.

Aidan confirms her success with the shift of his attention away from the box. Half his mouth lifts in a truly pleased smile and he gives her a nod. The moment is short lived, the smile fading though as he picks up the box and hefts it, testing its weight. “Two, three. Something like that. I officially Anglicized it myself 1770, or eighty or somewhere thereabouts.” Aidan is distracted as he answers, but Kim is surprised that he answered at all. Aidan hedges, playing things very close to the vest, even where she is concerned. She doesn’t know exactly how old her vampire master is, only that he’s older than one hundred and younger than six or seven hundred.

She watches as Aidan slides a finger beneath the flap of the wrapping. “How old are you, Aodhán?”

The long-suffering sigh is expected. His gaze lifts from the package to meet hers and Kim swears she can see his left eye twitch at what he has to think is her annoying impertinence. “Stop that. I don’t use that name anymore.” The wrapping peels away slowly, revealing a cardboard box. “Almost four hundred.”

“What?” Kim has trouble following the non-sequitor. Then it clicks. It’s his age, or as close as Aidan is probably ever likely to get to giving her his age. “Oh. Wow.” It hits home for her then how old Aidan is, how much what she sees and has been seeing all these years really is a well-crafted act.

“You were expecting a babe in vampire nappies?” Aidan’s off-beat humor tickles the words, but that’s the only hint she has of his teasing. His eyes are frowning as he opens the box and reaches in to remove the items one-by-one: two thick, leather bound journals — old, cracked leather with pages shoved in or wearing — one thin leather bound journal that looks newer than the others, but still at least a half-century or more old; an old tarnished pocket watch; a simple ring that Aidan studies for a moment before dropping it back into the box and rubbing his fingers together.

“Silver, I’d forgotten that,” Aidan mutters. At least that’s what Kim thinks he said. Her gaze follow his to his fingertips which are bright red and just beginning to blister.

Kim’s first impulse is to go for the first aid kit, but the she remembers that this isn’t the kitchen at Flare, and that Aidan doesn’t need first aid. Blood will help him heal faster, but even without he’ll heal from the injury far more quickly than any human would, though not as fast as he would with feeding. Kim learned long ago that vampires and silver don’t get along. Instead, she sets down the wine glass and steps up to him, offering up her hand. “Wasn’t expecting you to answer at all. You’re really not the sharing type, Aidan.”

“When you’re as old as I am, you’ll know why.” Aidan takes her hand in his unburned one, scraping his thumb along her palm before pressing her fingertips to his lips. Glittering blue eyes zero in and hold her gaze, and he imprints the words against the pads of her index, middle and ring fingers. “I don’t really need it. I’ll be fine, eventually.”

This is one of the aspects of their relationship of which Kim has never managed to find the rules of navigation. Aidan doesn’t feed from her with any regularity, nor does he seem to want to do so. There are times when he’s caught in a weak moment (such as that night he interrupted her evening after taking a clobbering in the Undercity) but those moments don’t come often. Kim knows that Aidan has some sort of hierarchy in his mind, some sort of rules regarding the boundaries and definitions of their relationship (which is why she thinks he’s never bedded her since she became his human servant). She tries not to spend too much time thinking about it because it would be easier to sprout wings and fly than to try to figure out the inner workings of Aidan’s mind.

“Then don’t take it,” Kim says, because really, what else can she say to that? She glances back toward the table and the items gathered there. “What’s all that — oh!” The sharp, sudden piercing prick of her index finger draws a gasp from her, that’s part-surprise, part-pain and part-something else that her brain won’t let her put a name to. There’s a delicate sucking pressure on the punctured digit, the flick and twist of a tongue around the tip that really shouldn’t get the reaction from her that it does, the soft gasp that escapes the back of her throat. Kim yanks her eyes from the sight of her finger between his lips, tracking upwards to meet Aidan’s gaze. It’s part darkly-predatory, but mostly bemused and it’s the former that’s enough to stoke a bit of annoyance from her.

Kim’s not foolish enough to rip her finger from the grasp and maw of the feeding vampire, but it’s a near thing. “You said that you didn’t want it.”

The suction to her finger increases for a the space of a few heartbeats more, before Aidan releases her imprisoned finger with a soft ‘pop.’ He licks his lips, a hint of fang showing. Brows rise and his familiar smug smirk slides into place. “No, I said I didn’t need it, but I wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth.” He flexes his burnt fingers, which Kim thinks she can see healing before her eyes, “But thanks for the pick me up.”

“You’re an ass.” It’s the only thing she can think of to say to him.

“Like I haven’t heard that before.” Aidan begins picking up the items from the box, careful to wrap the silver signet ring in a corner of paper ripped from the wrapping.

“What is -” Kim stops and stomps her foot in annoyance. The vampire is gone before she can even ask the question. She lifts and tilts her head, listening for his movements in the loft. After a bit, she narrows his whereabouts to the upstairs bedroom. Kim tosses back her wine and heads up after him, only to be stopped at the landing by Aidan in front of her. It’s only her hand on the railing and his reflexive grasp of an arm around her waist that stops her from tumbling backwards.

Kim shoves at him, embarrassed and annoyed. “You have to stop doing that!”

You didn’t have to follow me.”

“You’re not going to tell me what that was all about, are you?”

“Nope.” Aidan pops the ‘p’ on the word.

“Aidan, I can’t help you if —”

“This is nothing that you need to worry about. C’mon.” He grabs her hand and he’s bounding down the stairs leaving Kim with no choice but to follow unless she wants to be tugged along like a rag doll in the hands of a toddler. “I’m tired of being indoors. We’re going out.”

Aidan releases her at the bottom of the stairs, but it’s only to retrieve their jackets. Kim folds her arms stubbornly beneath her breasts, planting herself. “What about your recipe?”

“I’ll do it another day.” His shoulders rise in a dismissive shrug and he siddles behind her, holding out her coat.

“You’re going out … dressed like that?” A quick glance around reveals that he has added socks and dark trainers to his outfit, but jeans and tee shirt isn’t usually how Aidan dresses for an evening out.

“So are you. Just means that we’re going to do something more casual.”

“Aidan.”

“Kiiiim.”

She gives in. Kim can try, but in the end, she won’t be able to out-stubborn the vampire who’s gotten fixated on idea and doesn’t intend to let it go. He’s trying to distract her from the box that arrived, and Aidan thinks that getting her away from the flat is one way of doing it. What he doesn’t seem to remember is that Kim knows him, she knows the items are probably in the safe in his bedroom, and she has the combination.

“You do remember that I have the combination to your bedroom safe?”

Aidan grins cheekily down at her. “Do I look worried?”

He doesn’t.

Damn vampire.


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