A Tale of Two Witches

The Nameless Pub

The Nameless is a middle-of-the-road, entirely traditional English pub. Its menu is full of pedestrian English comfort foods. Its decor is absolutely the dark, low-ceilinged, close-walled, green-and-panelled drinking establishment that's been in vogue for… well, very likely centuries, now.

Its main advantages are that it's far enough off-the-beaten-path so as to not attract undue attention, but still enough on-the-beaten path so as not to be totally out-of-the-way and unknown. Therefore, it just about perfect as a non-supernatural, out-in-plain-sight sort of neutral ground.


Characters

ds01.jpg aidanboyle08.jpg
Corrie Aidan

It's been a long weekend. An extremely long weekend. After her conversation with Rhys, Corrie is making her way home. Her flat has been empty for the last five days. Her plants are likely dead, and she thanks her lucky stars that she hadn't yet bothered to get a cat.

She's not quite got the door open when she realizes she needs to head back downstairs to grab her laptop. She did try waiting for a lift but it's not coming in a timely fashion.

Which is when she heads down the dark stairwell.

-

Glamour and bribery are two things that have never failed in their usefulness to Aidan. Over the years, he's learned when to use one or the other, and discovered that sometimes a combination of both will get the most successful and quick results. His methods have proven themselves out again in the pursuit of discovering when the little witchling resurfaces from whatever depths she disappeared into. A timely text message - properly coded and which the sender would erase from their phone, remembering it only as a mis-send - alerted Aidan to Corrie's vehicle finally on the move, and he's waiting in the car park of her building.

From his car, Aidan watches her arrive and go inside the building. Getting into the flat structure isn't a problem, and he has made short work of learning the entrances and exits of the building. Procuring an invitation into Corrie's flat from the landlord was a bit more difficult, but Aidan is nothing but charming and can project an air of seductive trustworthiness that would make a nun envious. However, he's not taking advantage of that invitation — yet — and instead is going to play this her way.

He's not so much a creature of habit that he doesn't switch up his game every now and then.

Aidan waits a good clip, wanting to be certain that the witchling is all settled in before announcing his presence. He ignores the elevator in favor of the stairs, and wonders who is more startled when he rounds the corner and comes face-to-face with the object of his pursuit.

"Corrie," Aidan greets her chipperly. "Amazing coincidence. I was just coming to see you."

-

Corrie very nearly, very promptly falls down the stairs on her behind when the vampire in question is right. Freaking. There. She catches herself on the railing and just stares at him.

"What are you… how did you… why were you coming to see me? I've not got anything to say to you, Aidan."

Is she protesting too much? She looks pale. Extremely pale. Scared too. In fact her heart is racing at a pace that'd put a horse to shame at the moment.

-

Aside from a twitch of amusement at the corners of his lips, Aidan appears wholly unphased by the witch's reaction to his presence. That is until he picks up on the rapid pounding of her heart in her chest, and his eyes are instinctively - if briefly - drawn to the wild flicker in her throat. She smells … delicious actually, that sweet honey scent of fear beginning to rise up enticingly from her.

"That's disappointing. I thought we were friends." Aidan keeps his distance — for now at least. When he speaks, though, his words are calm and amiable, laced through with a very strong hint of concern. He plays his part well. "You completely disappeared, and as your friend, I was a little worried about you." Beat. "I'm glad to see that that sorceror didn't get to you." Aidan has a strong suspicion that there is a sorceror who got to the witch, and was responsible for his inability — and Elsie's — to find her.

Then again, maybe trusting that Elsie had been completely honest with him is not the best idea, given the other information she so cleverly enlightened him with regarding Corrie's family and lineage. Yes, talking to Elsie is another item on Aidan's to do list, but it will keep for now. For now, he's more concerned about the deer-in-the-headlights witch standing in front of him right now.

"I was worried that I might not find you in one piece."

-

"Friends?!?" Corrie takes a step back, careful not to plunge herself over the side of the landing. "Do friends mess with one another's mind to make someone like them? Oh yes, Aidan. I know all about that, and I'd really rather appreciate it if you didn't do it again." She's not forgiven him. Not by a long shot. But next time? She won't be so forgiving as to say 'well it's just in his nature'.

"I appreciate the concern, but I was fine. I went to the spa for a few days to clear my head." And to apparently hide from Aidan as well as Gideon. The lie comes easily to her lips though. Spa day. Two little words that were offered by Rhys, two little words that she's going to keep repeating until she can't. "Gideon Reese didn't come near me." His brother on the other hand…

"I'm fine, see? Perfectly intact. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get my laptop from the car before I turn in for the evening…"

-

Yes, the vampire is not particularly surprised that she does know. At the end of the day, he didn't trust the sorceror, but Aidan wasn't willing to make waves or start a scuffle that might end badly for him.

"I'd be more than happy to acquiesce to your demands and not do it again provided you would treat me with a bit of common courtesy as opposed to treating me like something you've walked in and have to scrape off the bottom of your shoe." Beat. "I have very limited patience with rude behavior and verbal attacks."

Aidan doesn't buy the 'spa' explanation because he dug deep enough (or had people dig deep enough) to know that she really did go to ground and it wasn't at a 'spa.' Nor does he particularly care at this moment where she was, because she's back and they do have some unfinished business.

"Yes, I might have messed with your mind, but I find you interesting enough that I decided to forgo the alternative." Which would have left him with a dead witch on his hands. "I find you to be much easier to speak with when we're on friendly terms." Beat. "And while you may have nothing to say to me, I do very much have something that I need to discuss with you."

-

"Acquiese to my demands? It's not as though I'm Kiera Knightley and this is Pirates of the Caribbean, Aidan." Corrie rolls hers eyes folding her arms over her chest. "An hour then." Beat. "Not here."

They need to go somewhere not monitored. Not watched — for she's no doubt that Rhys has someone monitoring her place.

"I'm happy that you deemed fit to not kill me. Quite happy actually. I'd rather not be dead." Beat. "And I won't tell anyone else what you are. Witch's promise." She mimics Samantha Stevens making a similar promisary gesture.

-

"No, you're not," Aidan drawls in a bored tone. "Kiera Knightly's character at least believed in parlay."

The easy acceptance though, that has him worried. He half-expects the sorceror and some goons to leap into the stairwell with spells blazing. Aidan resists the urge to go on the defensive and look over his shoulder. He lifts a brow, "That was easy. Do you have friends lying in wait for me when we leave the area?"

"I'd rather you not be dead either," Aidan admits. If only because she's far more useful to him alive, and due to the stupidity and tunnel vision of power in his youth, he can't even guarantee that such would be by his own hand. Also, she's amusing, when she's not being a complete bitch and pain in the ass.

-

"That is because she foolishly beleived that parlay with her kidnappers would mean she was safe." Corrie cannot believe that, of all things, they are discussing a Disney movie.

"No, Aidan. I'm on my own." She sighs and motions to the stairs. "I'm giving you the benefit of doubt." While she still can. "And I owe you for getting me out of the Undercity. I appreciate that you did that." She's still angry about the glamour but she can allow herself a truce for an hour.

-

It's one of Aidan's idiosyncrasies, and one that he knows makes him appear more human - being in touch with the latest in popular culture and entertainment. Though he doesn't feel the need to continue the conversation and reiterate anything. It should be fairly clear to the little witchling that he's not going to kill her. If that was the case, she would be dead - and he wouldn't have taken the time to rescue her from the sorcerer, either.

Of course, he's now faced with the problem of earning her trust, or convincing her to trust him without resorting to other measures. Not that other measures are off the table completely - the fiesty red head really would make a lovely bit of arm candy, and probably bed candy as well. Aidan might have his pick of who and what he wants, but he always wants the ones that are a bit more … challenging. They keep him amused.

Until he gets bored.

"The benefit of the doubt," Aidan repeats canting his head. It's amusing, really that she's being so controlling about the whole thing when he knows how easy it would be simply crawl into her head and turn it all around. It's gotten easier every time, and unless the sorcerer spelled her in some way, he imagines it would take no time at all. But … he resists, because this isn't the time or the place; if he's going to have her under his glamour properly, he needs to take time and do it right.

"That's generous of you," he continues after a few seconds of studying her. "You're welcome, though if that didn't convince you of my good intentions, I'm not sure what will."

-

He'll have to earn her trust because right now she's wary of him. She knows now that he won't kill her (yet), but there's still the underlying thought that might glamour her.

"Yes. It is generous of me, all things considered. It's not safe to talk here though.". Beat. "Do you know some place private that's still public?"

-

"I know many places." Aidan leans against the staircase railing, not moving yet. He's not going to look a gift horse in the mouth as they say, but he's on his guard. The red head witch is being a little too cooperative and that's not normal. Their interactions have always been abrasive and like pushing and shoving matches. The only time she is ever docile is when he's made her so. Not knowing where she's been or whom she's been talking to, his imagination is ready to suggest a multitude of reasons for her behavior.

"Did you need to get anything from your flat?"

-

"Then let's go," Corrie says, nodding toward the staircase. She can't actually go down he stairs until he moves, unless she wants to risk him grabbing her. "Because I'm tired, Aidan. I want to sleep in my own bed. I want to catch up on work."

There's a glance toward the flat door, and she shakes her head. "No. I've not been there for a few days, and I'd rather not have to invite you in if I can help it."

-

"Your trust is overwhelming," Aidan replies. Still he steps to the side and sweeps an arm down the stairs, indicating that she should precede him. As though reading her earlier thoughts, he reminds her, "I can have you in arms before you could even think about blinking, if I were so inclined. I have absolutely no intentions of overpowering you."

It's only fun to do it that way if he's hunting, or by mutual agreement. Right now is neither.

-

"It's not a matter of trust, it's a matter of preserving my home as a safehaven for myself." Corrie takes a deep breath, then quietly walks past him. When he reminds her of what he's capable of she laughs. "I know you could. So this is me, trusting you. Going with you of my own free will at the moment, to hear what you have to say."

When she reaches the bottom of the stairs, she turns to ensure he's following her. "I've caused myself a lot of problems because of you. I hope that we're beyond that now."

-

Aidan watches the woman precede him down the stairs, appreciating the view from behind while he processes her words. Again, now is not the time to ask a million questions, so he will take this as it comes. His plan for convincing her has been thrown to the side, or at least put on hold, and this way is far, far easier.

He follows, of course, at a comfortable clip, not crowding into her space to intimidate her or remind her of his presence. "Because of me?" Aidan lifts a brow at the accusation. "All I asked for was your name. You chose to lie about what it was." In the end, he found out her name anyway, through glamour and proper circumstances. It's further proof that one should only lie when one is exceptionally good at it.

Like Aidan.

-

"Note that I said I've caused myself a lot of problems because of you." Corrie exhales a sigh and then glances toward the cars. "We'll take my vehicle if you don't mind. So I don't forget to grab my laptop later."

She extrapolates on the reasoning behind what she's said. "If you and Dr. Watson weren't busy discussing interesting topics, I would never have followed, and it wouldn't have mattered when we ran into one another at Flare. I would never have had to lie about my name, which just so happens to be the relative of someone else, who was upset that I used the name, which I did not know was the name of the relative."

-

Blink.

"You do know that it's entirely possible for vampires to get head aches?" Aidan offers with a wry smirk. Which is exactly what would happen if he took any time to try to follow Corrie's convoluted line of explanation. He holds up a hand, "Let's just say that I know your name, I know your address, and you know what I want from you so … it's not really necessary for me to play those sorts of games, is it?"

Aidan is more than willing to play this her way, if it gets him what he wants. There is, as they say, more than one way to skin a cat? Or to bait a witch.

-

"Is it? I didn't know that. Then again, I know very little about vampires other than what I've read in the literature. And other than what I've read in the grimoires." Something about an Edward harassing her family for years. "I'd rather you not play games. I think I like you better this way."

Though she's still fairly certain that he's toying with her. Waiting to get her out in the open so he can glamour her? Entirely possible. Vampires are known for lying to get what they want.

-

"Yes, it is," Aidan says with a far too satisfied drawl. "We also hurt and bleed and … get hungry." The last manages to twist and lilt, hinting at all sorts of naughtiness and should probably be slapped with an NC-17 rating.

Aidan has been following her to her car this entire time, not giving a hint that he knows which vehicle is hers. The advantage is that she also doesn't know which vehicle is his. He can come back and … keep an eye on her … at any time.

Glamouring her out in public? Not hardly. Again, Aidan's promised himself to do it right next time, and that requires privacy and a little bit of time to spare.

-

"Do you? How novel." Corrie is trying to sound bored. She's trying to sound disinterested. Truth is, there's something about the danger of wandering off with a vampire that is thrilling. And she hates herself for thinking that.

When she reaches the vehicle, she opens the door and slips into the driver's seat. Then she looks back at him before closing the door. "Do I need to invite you into my vehicle?"

-

Aidan answers the question by slipping into the passenger seat with preternatural speed. He settles in, fastening his seat belt, and somehow managing to sink into the seat with a feline grace that it almost boneless. Leaning back against the headrest, Aidan rolls his head to give her a smile and a lift of brows. "Not at all necessary. For whatever reason, cars aren't considered private."

Beat.

"Do you have a GPS, or do you trust me to give you directions?" Aidan's slipped into that place where he's curiously amused by her again, which is probably a good thing.

-

"I'll keep that in mind," Corrie says as she starts to pull the car out of the parking garage. "I'll have to trust you with the directions. I know the city well enough that I've never bothered with a GPS." It's not like she every really leaves the city except to go to Devon, so it's not like she needs her car telling her where to turn.

"If you give me a general idea of where we'll going, then pin point it afterward it should be fine. If not, we'll wind up lost and talk in the vehicle."

-

"Lucky for us, I am patricularly good with directions." Aidan shifts around, clearly making himself more comfortable in the seat. He props his knees against the dashboard and folds his hands across his chest, clearly settled in comfortably for the drive. Corrie is given the general vicinity that they'll be heading towards and Aidan actually tilts his head back and closes his eyes. He looks relaxed and without a concern in the world, and oddly enough, probably far too human for Corrie's liking.

"I'm surprised at you, Miss Kavanaugh," Aidan says after a few moments of silence. "You haven't even asked for a hint of what I want to talk about."

-

Following the directions, Corrie remains silent. She doesn't say another word until they're several blocks away from her flat. When she finally does speak, she mutters a few words in Latin and then nods.

"Privacy spell. Just in case." She's not seen her car for nearly a week. Chances are it could be bugged. Via electronic device (which will come out sounding scrambled) or magical device (which will just negate each other with any luck).

"Now, what is this all about? I've already said I won't tell anyone else about you."

-

The vampire doesn't seem to be able to be bothered to open his eyes. He wishes he'd been wearing a hat so that he could pull it down over his face for a spell. No such luck though. He takes a moment before answering. "Maybe I just like your company." Beat. "You talking … more is a concern, but that's not what this is about."

Beat.

"I didn't realize it, but when I met you, you reminded me … fleetingly … of someone." If not for him speaking, he would, for all intents and purposes appear to be asleep. "A witch I knew once."

-

"That explains it then. The interest. Now that you've sussed out what it is, you've come to tell me that you won't bother anymore?" Corrie doesn't let on that she knows he probably won't bother any longer once she signs that contract. "Who?"

She snorts a little. "Who else would I tell? It's not like anyone would believe me." Except Glynis or a family member. "Those who would already pretty much know. At least those that I care about." Beat. "And I'm assuming that Mr. Reese is more than aware, considering the way you got me out of the Undercity."

-

"You're doing it again," Aidan says in a sing-song voice. "Starting to get defensive and offended. Again," Aidan's eyes open and he rolls his head toward her, blue eyes glittering almost near silver under the night lighting, "I'm not trying to trick you. I'm not messing with your mind. This is me, playing by your rules." Beat. "Do you have any idea how much I don't like to play by other people's rules?"

He keeps his gaze trained on her another few moments, unwavering and unblinking and then goes back to his quiet repose. "Funnily enough, no, I'm not going to tell you that I'm going away now that I've sussed out that you look like your great-grandmother. Rosalyn? Rosalyn … Winchester… and another one a few generations further back."

-

"Doing what again?" Corrie pulls the car over once they reach the general area, and waits for further directions. "Oh. That." Well of course it's that. She doesn't fully trust him.

"It beats kidnapping me, doesn't it? I'm sure that would go over really well with me and make me cooperative." She rolls her eyes toward the top of the vehicle, and then blinks. "You knew my great-grandmother?" Beat. "I look like my great-grandmother did at my age?" She shakes it off and then says, "No. You couldn't have. There would be something in the grimoires if you knew her. There would've been a warning."

-

Aidan shifts in his seat again, his eyes sliding open to glance out the window. It's only a brief glance and then he gives her another set of more precise directions. "We'll be there in about five minutes."

Though his eyes are closed again, Aidan smiles broadly, clearly amused and entertained by what she said. "I thought about it. Really. Carrying you off to my lair? Fascinating thought, honestly." He waits for her to take that in, gives her enough time to get wound about it and pops one eye open to say, "Joking. You would be the worse kidnap victim ever." Unless she were glamoured and/or drugged. Both have possibilities…

"I didn't know her. I knew of her." Aidan unfolds his hands and folds his arms across his chest. "That's where the story gets complicated, Halliwell. Which is why I'm so happy you suggested going somewhere to talk. I picked a pub, because I'm not having the rest of this conversation sober."

-

Corrie pulls away from the curb, starting to follow the directions. These she concentrates on until she comes out of the roundabout, then she nearly slams the brakes on with alarming speed.

"You thought about kidnapping me? Are you bloody well serious? Why? What is it that even remotely makes me so bloody intere — " Okay, the ploy worked. Corrie's a somewhat easy target tonight though, so that should be unsurprising.

"You knew of her. Which is to say she didn't know of you. Explain."

-

"Pub." Aidan says and slowly straightens in his seat. "I will explain when we get to the pub. And I've had a drink. Or several." He gives her an inquiring head tilt, "Does the drive count as part of my hour?"

Realizing that she's going to need a bit more to continue this - and as annoying as the forthcoming conversation will be, it has gotten Corrie out with him under her own auspices - Aidan feeds her a little more information. "I've been watching your family for generations, until recently when I got lax. Hence, why I didn't expect you."

-

Corrie should say yes, though that really wouldn't be fair to his story. She exhales a sigh, and shakes her head. "No, I'll start the clock when we get to the pub. According to your directions, we'll be there in just a minute."

Unless she swerves the car off the road, which she very nearly does. "You've been… watching us? My family. For years? Why?"

-

The swerving of the car doesn't affect Aidan in the least. Most humans would brace themselves against the dash, or clutch the seatbelt. Aidan just sits, casual and loose limbed. "You do realize if you hit something, only one of us is in danger of getting badly hurt or killed?"

Beat.

"Because I made a deal, and that's the last I'm saying until I have a drink in my hand."

-

"Well aware," Corrie replies through grit teeth. "Though chances are I'd live merely to spite you."

When she finally pulls in beside the pub, she stays in the vehicle for a few minutes. Mainly to calm her nerves. Partially so she doesn't just energy bolt Aidan to death. "Well get your arse inside and get a drink, then. The time starts as soon as we walk in that door."

-

"You really don't like me very much," Aidan observes, as he exits the car as gracefully as he entered. "Have you ever stopped to consider that you're maybe a little bit prejudiced?" He closes the passenger door and is already around to the driver's side before Corrie can exit, holding the door open for her.

-

"I don't." Corrie shrugs, not being shy to tell the vampire she doesn't like him much. Though it may seem that she's protesting just a wee bit too much. "And of course I'm prejudiced. I'd likely have been more so if I'd grown up with the stories I found in one of the grimoires. I'm surprised we were never told of it."

Even though she dislikes him, she still has the good graces to thank him for getting the door for her so that she can slide out.

-

"I'm really not such a terrible bloke when you get to know me." Aidan politely closes the door behind her and gestures to the pub. "Ladies first." Though it's not so much a ladies first when he actually walks along beside her.

"Do you know what I think the problem is?" Aidan opens the door to the pub for her, "I think that we got off on the wrong foot. Really a pity, because I do like you, Corrie. When you're being civil. Sometimes when you're being difficult, but that requires some moderation."

-

"Actually, we got off on the right foot. Then there was that whole attempt to keep me there, and get rid of me between yourself and Dr. Watson." Then there was the dinner at Flare, and then the glamouring. Now it's this. She'd rather be curled up at home in bed with a book, but instead? She's driving across the city to hang out with a vampire in some lesser known pub.

"I'm fairly certain the problem is that I just have an inherent distrust for vampires."

-

"Watson was trying to protect you." Aidan doesn't say that the man was wrong in doing so. He did have less than honorable intentions toward Corrie that night. Truthfully, he still has less than honorable intentions, the only difference is that now they're more long term intentions and he won't be draining her and killing her. He's very clear on the letter of his agreement, and there's nothing there that stops him from going after what he wants - no matter how he must bend and flex to get it.

"Well most of us are untrustworthy bastards, so it's a good idea to nurture that." Once inside the pub, Aidan picks a corner table, quiet and out of the way, that will allow them to talk, but still let's Corrie feel comfortable enough to be with him. Continuing on the vein of gentlemanly behavior, he does pull out her chair.

-

"I don't need protection," Corrie points out. She can hold her own, provided whatever it is that's in the Undercity doesn't happen to have clairvoyance and superspeed. "But I did thank him for his effort."

When Aidan takes the chair for her, she stares at him. "Thank you," she replies as she seats herself. "Nothing for me though. I'll just have ice water when they come around."

-

Sliding into a seat across from her, Aidan gives her an unreadable look. "Are you sure? You might want to have something on hand, just in case."

Their server arrives, beaming and all eyes at Aidan. She introduces herself as Lucy and makes it very clear that she's willing to get Aidan whatever he wants. Not being on a hunt tonight, Aidan is cordial and flirtatious as he orders a bottle — yes a full bottle — of tequila and a pitcher of ice water. While waiting, he taps his fingertips on the table top, head tilted back as he considers. "Where oh where to start?

"I told you that I knew a witch. Who liked me and to whom you bear something of a familial resemblance. Because she was your family." Beat. "Miss Gwendolyn Bishop. She would be your great-great-great …" Aidan flicks a wave to indicate the redundancy of continuing, "Grand aunt. And that my dear Corrie, is where our story starts."

-

"I'm driving," Corrie protests. She more or less wants to stay sober around him this time anyhow. Less chance of her being trapped in a glamour, right? Except when he starts to talk, she reaches for the bottle of tequila and pours herself a shot. After downing it, she reaches for the glass of water to get rid of the after taste.

"An ancestor. Of mine. Liking you. You'll excuse me if I don't believe you." She'll be verifying that information. "Was that it?"

-

"Yes," Aidan drawls in his typical, bored tone. "I came to your flat and told you that I needed to talk to you so that I could share a tiny tid bit of gossip. We could be gossiping hens in the stairwell, Corrie."

Aidan takes two shots of tequila and leans back in his seat. He takes a much unneeded breath and rolls his shoulders. "How much do you know of your family history?" Beat. "Do you know about the … vampire problem?"

-

"We could be, but you asked to come out here." Actually Corrie told him that they needed to go somewhere else. Beside the point.

"You realize you should have salt and a lime for that tequila, right? Not that it's going to effect you one way or another."

She sips daintily from the water and shrugs. "I know enough. Back a few generations. I know that we had some in our family persecuted during the witch hunt." Hence the dislike for sorcerers. "I really was never one for memorizing family history from the grimoires. Especially since many of the more interesting bits have been removed."

Beat.

"Edward? I've only just learned of it. When I was searching for what you were."

-

"No, I asked you to talk. You said we should go somwhere public and private," Aidan reminds her. He waves a hand to indicate the pub. "This is public and private, per your request." Beat. "I would have been just as happy talking on your couch." Not that she is going to invite him in or that he's going to reveal that he can already get in.

"Oh trust me, my little witchling, if I have enough of it, it will affect me." He lifts a hand and signals for their server again, even as he pours another shot. "How'd that go? Or is that how you figured out the truth about me? I did sort of wonder what made you … clue in."

A beauitific smile is given to the server, Aidan even going so far as to catch her fingertips in his. "A bowl of limes and salt, if you would, luv?"

"Yeah, sure," the woman maybe gazes at Aidan a moment longer than is fully appropriate, particularly when he is with a female companion. Not that Aidan cares because his companion isn't that sort of companion, and he does have appetites.

With the server gone, he turns his attention back to Corrie. "Yes, Edward. Edward is the reason that I met Gwen."

-

"Actually, finding out about you was a fluke. There's a Sherlock Holmes story about a vampire. When I typed in Dr. Watson and 'hundred years' into the search engine, it kept coming up. Eventually I made the assumption and went digging for proof, which is when I found Edward."

Corrie raises her brow at him. "Your little witchling?"

Beat.

"Hardly."

-

The server returns with the limes and salt and Aidan makes a point of doing two very deliberate, proper shots. He keeps those crystalline eyes focused on her the entire time, only losing contact when he tosses back the shot and then promptly re-establishing it.

"You are being willfully tedious. Do stop and let me continue. I am on a time table." Aidan points out as he pours another shot. He doesn't lift it to drink however. Not yet.

"Now, I am going to tell you a little story that starts in 1799 right in here in London. It's the end of the season, which means it's a mad dash of last minute parties for the desperate to be married types to find their perfect mates…" Aidan recounts the story for Corrie. He tells of meeting Gwen, her worry for her cousin and his chivalrous offer to recover the young lady, and his ulterior motive - to stop Edward from being stupid and outing the presence of Vampries. He even throws in Gwen's kind warning of Edward's vampirism. "And that, is when I learned that Miss Bishop's dear cousin is an unrelated chit whom she likely didn't even know. Conveniently enough, when I returned to the soiree, Miss Bishop and her true cousin, and chaperone, had departed."

-

"I am not willfully being tedious, but continue." Corrie doesn't believe him. She can't believe him. There's no way an ancestor of hers would be so bold as to — well actually, no. That's not entirely true. She was bold enough to follow him. She was bold enough to tell him exactly what she thought of him. It is entirely possible that even in the day and age where women were supposed to be meek and meager mice, one of her ancestors would be that bold. It sounds far too fantastical to not be made up, but he's recounting it with a great deal of sincerity.

Reaching for the tequila as she listens to the story, she pours herself another shot. Then she purposefully licks the back of her hand, keeping her eyes on Aidan as she does so. The salt is poured on, and she slowly licks it off before she downs the shot of tequila. Biting into a piece of lime she finally looks away from the vampire.

"Basically, she outwitted you. Duped you into doing her dirty work? I have to say that despite her apparent fault of cavorting with you, I think she's bloody brilliant."

-

Aidan wonders if it ever occurs to the witch that the amount of energy she shoves into disliking and mistrusting him could probably be better applied in other areas of her life. Truly, it takes effort to direct that sort of disbelief and contention toward him.

Or maybe she tries a little too hard?

He's in an odd mood tonight, so the vampire finds it more amusing than he would at other times. His lips lift in an appreciative smile as she goes through the motions with the salt on her hand. It's difficult to believe that Corrie might be trying to play his game, though he does give her points if that is what she's doing. It's not a game she can win; it's not a game she even wants to start, really but Aidan is willing to let the motions continue to see where this is going.

"She … was." There's only a brief hitch as Aidan forces himself to self-correct. Whatever he tells the little witchling tonight, he's not going to tell her that Gwen is still … well, not alive and well, but existing and well. That's not a path he allows his mind to go down on most nights, and this was no different. Still, it's very clear that there is a high measure of admiration and respect in his voice for the young witch who outwitted him two centuries ago.

"Then again, I was younger and less jaded, and …" Aidan trails off and dismisses the rest with a half-shrug of his shoulders and a lift of the tequila shot. He wasn't the vampire that he is today, and he's learned a lot in two hundred years.

It's terribly indecent the way his tongue snakes out to lick the back of his hand, electric blue eyes shining in a silent challenge as he pins them on the woman across the table. He adds the salt, then licks it off with a wanton decadence that shouldn't be possible for such a simple thing, before drinking the shot. With only the faintest of smiles touching upon his lips, Aidan bites into the lime as the glass returns to the table.

"I didn't, however, kill Edward, so I'd say her plan didn't quite go as she wanted." Quietly spoken, his gaze never wavering from Corrie's.

-

It's entirely possible that Corrie is protesting too much. She's gone through her 'bad boy' phase already, and while she's still drawn to them she won't allow herself to enter into anything resembling a 'polite' relationship with them. She won't do it for Aidan. She won't do it for Gideon. It's a way she distances herself from them so as not to be drawn back in.

Even so, when she looks up and he's very purposefully challenging her, she actually bites her lip. Maybe this whole thing was unwise. Maybe… actually no. There's no maybe about it. Giving Aidan the time to tell his story was unwise without an escort. Perhaps she should have contacted Rhys, or Dr. Watson, or…

Now that she's thinking about a chaperone, as it were, her mind is not thinking about that look in Aidan's eyes, and she seems to relax a little.

"I should think she would have been considering." Corrie is quite proud of her ancestor to say the least. To get one over not only on the Vampire, but a man of that time? Would have taken a great deal of spunk. Something she prides herself on.

"And less easily amused by every passing beauty, I'm sure." Perhaps not what he was going to say, but it fills the line in nicely.

"Which is likely why she left. I likely would've done the same thing had things not gone according to plan."

-

It's marked as a 'win' in Aidan's tally when Corrie gives that little bite to her lip. Because he can actually see the subtle shift in her posture that belies a bit of relaxation on her part, even if she does seem to decide that she doesn't want to play anymore. That's perfectly fine with him. Well, not perfectly fine, but Aidan really doesn't expect to have any luck with Corrie on that front without glamouring her into next week — still an option on the table whether she knows it or not — and he never has a problem finding a suitable distraction when he needs one.

"I've learned that there's nothing wrong with finding amusements where I can," Aidan corrects her with an unreadable smirk. "But … I'm a bit more selective in my long term pursuits now." Is that meant to be a hint to her? A warning? Aidan does have a very good poker face and is giving nothing away. Either way, however, it is a compliment, though perhaps a creepy-stalkerish one depending on how one chooses to look at it.

"She was … fiery and outspoken. A little like you. Or rather, you're a little like her." The words are quiet, considering almost, a tiny frown worming its way into his forehead as he seems to scrutinize Corrie anew. Another compliment, certainly less creepy, and one that Aidan is almost reluctant to impart upon the red head whose gone through such great lengths to resist and challenge him.

He raises a hand and signals for the server again, continuing his story as he does so,"I wasn't pleased, of course, and I wasn't amused. The only advantage I had over her was that she didn't know what I am. So, I decided to call on her."

-

Corrie's relaxation has nothing to do with the bite to her lip. It has everything (well not everything, the tequila is helping a bit as well) to do with thinking of a chaperone, and keeping herself 'safe' from the vampire. Really, going off with him alone is what got her in trouble in the first place, and that she's doing it again? Maybe she really is more trouble than she's worth.

"Actually, there is. I mean, there isn't but amusent doesn't offer you a whole lot except amusement. There's a lot to be said for something that's more long term." There's a little bit of romantic peeking through there, and she inwardly chastises herself for letting it shine.

The actual non-creepy compliment causes her to smile. "You speak fondly of her. It sounds as though you may have actually cared for her." Beat. Frown. "Well at least in so much as one of your kind can."

She'd been considering another shot, but it's just safer for her to sip from her glass of water at this point. She's still having to drive home, and she needs a clear mind to deal with Aidan. Watching him over the rim of the glass she comments, "I could see you fooling a singular witch, but a houseful? How'd you manage that?"

-

"Long term is certainly a lot more challenging," Aidan replies. There's another flirtatious exchange with the server as Aidan orders a bottle of scotch, and a far too amused and smug chortle as she walks away, after not to subtly sliding him her number on a napkin.

A tight smile is given at Corrie's assessment of what he might have felt for Gwen. It's neither a denial nor a confirmation, but again it's not one of those things that Aidan is going to easily or openly talk about. That sort of fondness can be easily seen as weakness, and though he could say the words and claim love for her, Aidan knows it was nothing of what humans feel when they feel love. Gwen was his for a while, and he did so respect and admire all that fire and brashness.

"Her aunt was utterly clueless. I was invited in without hesitation, and then we were sent on our way." Aidan shifts, resting his elbows on the table, hands folded one over another and his chin resting on his hands. He gazes across the table at Corrie, blue eyes wide and twinkling, the alcohol working its magic to flush his face as much as it does any human's. "And here is where the story gets really interesting."

Aidan starts from the beginning, pausing only with the delivery of the scotch, and dappling it with little details he can remember, which are significantly more than a human would — the color of Gwen's dress, the ribbon in her hair, the necklace at her throat. The dancing conversation that he shared with Gwen as they walked and Edward's interruption. "I think I defended her simply because I didn't want Edward to have her." It's not fanciful or romantic, but it is the truth.

"I don't like to share."

-

"Is that a pointed comment to me?" That being either the challenging, or the sharing. Corrie's not really certain which it is she's meaning. There's a snort as the waitress offers him her number, and a roll of her eyes. "You bleeding playboys are all the same."

The lack of confirmation or denial just allows Corrie to believe that the Vampire was fond of the woman. It is, perhaps, a bit hard for her to swallow, but it does work to show her that she doesn't know everything about the creature.

"It may have been her father's sister, which would explain it." This said, because she truly doesn't believe that an ancestor of hers would be so utterly clueless — not like she was — not if they were being constantly harassed by a vampire.

She listens with a great deal of interest, asking questions here or there about the dress, the necklace, the chaperone. "That's still a fairly noble reason, in a sense."

-

"Was that comment to you?" The vampire flashes her a mysterious smile, one that glints with a mischief and suggestiveness in his eyes. "Possibly."

Aidan taps a finger on the napkin. "I didn't ask for her telephone number." He didn't turn it away, either, but that's beside the point. He tilts a teasing smile in Corrie's direction. "Jealous?"

If Corrie wants to tell herself that Aidan's behavior was given to some sort of noble purpose, he's not going to disabuse her of the notion. It doesn't hurt his case to have her think that. It had nothing to do with nobility, but everything to do with ownership and possession and the enjoyment that came from pissing off Edward. An after fact and added bonus was having a witch beholden to him.

"Maybe," Aidan asserts with a disinterested shrug. He opens the bottle of scotch and pours himself a glass. Watching Corrie over the rim of the glass, he asks conversationally, "How much time is left on the clock?" He is playing by her rules, after all.

-

"No, but seeing as you don't like to share and apparently you've got some sort of 'plan' for me…" She may not be the jealous one.

Corrie glances at her watch and shrugs. "None. You're in overtime at the moment, but as I want to hear the story to its completion before I look into verifying it, I'll allow it." The tequila is still on the table so she quietly pours herself another shot. She eyes him again, trying to figure out his strategy.

Again, she moistens the back of her hand by slowly drawing her tongue over it. A very catlike movement with her eyes never leaving his face. The salt is sprinkled on before she laps it off with a somewhat quick, salacious lick. The shotglass is brought to her lips, she downs the liquid quickly and bites into the lime with relish.

"Go on."

-

"You're a lot of trouble," Aidan says with a full brunt of amused approval. "My only plan for you is to get you to see that I'm really not so terrible." Not the whole truth, not by a long shot, but there's no point in letting her know that. Corrie's settling into a relaxed frame of mind and Aidan is going to take advantage of it while he can. It's so much easier to get what he wants and where he wants to go when they come willingly.

He shrugs, leaning back in his seat, once again relaxed with an almost feline grace that makes the pose look both boneless and sensual. "There was a whole thing about getting into your knickers, but I think I probably have a better chance of getting invited to have dinner with the Pope." Beat. "At the Vatican."

The drinking of the shot earns her a quirked eyebrow and another one of those admiring smiles. Aidan hasn't a clue what she's trying to prove or if she's swinging that pendulum back to challenge him again, but the move deserves the half-lidded nod and lick of his lips that he sends her way.

"Where was I?" Aidan thinks back and then continues the story. He explains how Gwen gave him the stake that she produced from her boots, while she tended to the fallen nursemaid, and when all was said and done proceeded to explain that she wouldn't have manipulated him if she'd known he was a Vampire. Aidan pulls a face, "She would simply have asked me for the favor and made me a deal. I couldn't decide if she was either that bold or that stupid."

-

"I have heard something to that effect, yes." She is a lot of trouble, which begs the question as to why anyone is bothering in the first place. "Aidan you don't have a lick of humanity, so you may not be so terrible, you still can't be fully trusted."

As to the Pope and the Vatican, she laughs. "Likely. Though I'm sure I'm much more appetizing."

If Corrie is being honest, she's no clue what game she's playing or if she's volleying the challenge back to him. Really, she's just needing the alcohol to actually remain here listening to him. Otherwise she'd simply get up and walk away, unable to handle that her ancestor would be so bold, or actually fond of a vampire.

"Fortune favors the bold," she remarks. Her water glass is now empty and she slides it over for a finger of scotch. Any more tequila will likely make her pass out. "I think I would have liked her." Beat. "If she's not merely a figment of your twisted imagination."

-

"But who can be fully trusted?" Aidan asks, lifting the bottle to pour some scotch into her glass. "Can you say without a doubt, that you can fully trust anyone? Everyone has their secrets. Not everyone is physically harmful, but there are other types of hurt. Humans have done more damage to each other with hurt and lies as with anything else." It's probably one of the first and more honest and pragmatic things Aidan has ever said to Corrie. That's one of the things that amuses him about humans: set themselves up as the relative moral good and they're able to commit the most beatific of atrocities in the name of love, honor, politics and religion.

The laugh is easy going, silky though in its sound. "I'd bet money that you're far more appetizing, though I've not had the opportunity to compare."

Aidan shakes his head. "I have quite a twisted imagination. I could do some much better than this, if I was going to wind you a tale solely for the purpose of telling tales." Beat. "But that's not truly my style."

He forgoes scotch for pouring another shot of tequila. The vampire picks up the salt shaker, but doesn't lick his hand. Instead, he pins Corrie beneath a rakish grin, blue eyes dancing with challenge and invitation as he extends his hand for hers. Aidan is either calling her bluff, or upping the challenge and either one works for him.

-

"Only myself," Corrie replies with a shrug. "Or oneself I should say. It really doesn't pay to fully trust any other individual as you are not them, and would therefore never know what their motives are." Beat. "Unless one is a telepath, which I'm not." Beat. "So I'll concede that point to you."

Her brow quirks upward, and in that moment it's quite easy to tell that Corrie is perhaps a bit tipsy. "I'd offer you a chance to find out, but really I'd rather you not take my blood." Beat. "Plus that's a dangerous affair to get into, especially with…"

She lets that trail off, setting her eyes to his hand. With a forced sigh, she holds her hand out to him. Is she upping the challenge, or just continuing to play the dangerous game? It's hard for her to tell, really. But she does add, "This doesn't mean a bloody thing."
-

"Of course, it doesn't," Aidan returns with a slow, lazy stretching drawl to his tone. He holds her gaze for a bit, noting that she is not entirely sober and deciding to play this carefully close to the vest. The pub is public and 'safe,' at least in Corrie's mind, and that's not a notion he'll disabuse her of having. It's a very cunning, careful game that he's going to be playing now.

Lifting her hand and lowering his head, the two meet somewhere in the middle. His tongue doesn't so much lick her hand as it does caress it in a decadently slow fashion as though Aidan is concentrating on tasting every pore and every skin cell. His eyes are charged as he gazes at her, flickering with a swirling mix of sensuality and wantonness. Aidan manages to make a single few second act into something wickedly charged, and that's before he tilts the salt onto her hand. The tequila shot is tossed back and he lowers his mouth again, this time darting his tongue in and licking away the salt with the briefest, teasing sweep.

He's well aware that it's quite a startling, tantalizing and arousing contrast between the two.

Biting into the lime, Aidan sweeps his thumb over the spot he just licked and releases Corrie's hand.

"Now," Aidan says conversationally, "Let's see if I can recall where I was in the story …"

-

The pub is public… and safe. Corrie is well aware that she can simply call for a taxicab, or get Tristan to come pick her up if it comes to it — provided he's in the city, which he should be (she hopes).

When his tongue actually touches her hand, she's a notion just to pull the hand back and slap him. She very nearly does twice, her hand twitching and beginning to draw back to her own body as he keeps that lustful look on her. Corrie bites onto her lower lip again, closing her eyes until he's done, because if she keeps looking into those eyes she may do something entirely stupid. He could just glamour her again, though he's said he won't. But she really can't trust that.

Once he releases her hand, she yanks it back to her and makes a big show of wiping it off on her jeans, nose wrinkling as she does. Except the rate of her heart is telling another story entirely, and she very quickly excuses herself.

"You didn't want Edward to have her. But I'll be right back. I need to use the loo."

-

Aidan actually stands when Corrie leaves the table and settles back into his seat as she walks away. His gaze follows her toward the women's toilet, blue eyes trailing on her back … and her backside.

I like her sotted. She's fun.

He doesn't give into his soft rolling laughter until the witch disappears into the toilet. Her display of distrust didn't fool Aidan who was sensitized to her other reactions: the racing of her heart, the quickening of her breath, the subtle flush filling her face and the ever so slight shift in her body scent. The vampire has been seducing women for centuries; he is pretty bloody good at what he does.

In fact… Aidan thinks he might have just found another way to approach this particular prey.

-

Damn it all, Corrie, why didn't you just stay away as Rhys suggested? You could have called him when Aidan showed up, instead you went off with the vampire… again. Bloody hell, you're daft.

This is the chastisement that runs through Corrie's head as she splashes her face with icy cold water in the bathroom. She does it a few times, each time adding a new line, a new admonishment to her inner chant.

When she finally returns to the table, she looks calm. Neutral even. The only noticeable thing is that her hair is a bit damp along her forehead.

"So, yes. You didn't want Edward to have her…"

-

There is only one thing left for Aidan to do when Corrie returns to the table: strategic retreat. It's a classic attack plan, really. Slip in close, test the enemy's defenses and then retreat to safer ground while the enemy regroups and lulls itself back into a false sense of security. After all, there's really no reason for him to rush things with the witch. He's not getting any older, and evidently she's one of those whom is going to take a little — all right, a lot — of work.

"Yes, that's right," Aidan nods, giving no sign that he'd just carefully pushed so many of Corrie's buttons. He taps a nail against the side of his glass, and picks up his narrative. The conversation in the carraige where Aidan learned that Edward had been a bit of a terror to Gwen's family for a few generations. Her offer, his counter-offer. Aidan blurs the lines a little, leaving it to sound as though it was only agreed upon until she married, because he can't explain why he would hold to it after her death without explaining that she isn't dead.

"I agreed because she made me an offer that, at that time, I couldn't refuse. The services of a witch, for the rest of her natural life."

-

As the conversation picks up again, Corrie pours herself a glass of ice water. No more tequila. No more scotch. She's got to sober herself up enough so that that doesn't happen again. She's got a strong will and all, but things could very quickly spin out of control and she'd be in even more trouble than before.

Dainty little sips of water are taken as the story is told. She nods here or there, paying attention so she can try to corroborate with the grimoires once she's at home.

"So you're telling me that the deal is no longer valid? Or, I suppose, I'm really rather confused. Why would you know of my great grandmother? Surely Gwendolyn's deal was only viable during her lifetime?"

-

Aidan slouches back in his seat, and it might even be argued that there are lines of strain around his eyes, a sulk nearly on his lips. He twirls the glass of scotch before lifting it and drinking from it. "Our deal was that it would conclude when she married. My little witch went and died instead." No, Aidan is definitely not pleased about that. Corrie has no way of knowing that it's not Gwen's death that makes him better, but rather the cause of her so-called death and the fall out from it.

"There wasn't a death clause because I assumed she would marry, or if she became a spinster, I would be able to renegotiate." Not so far from the truth considering those had been the thoughts Aidan had when he first entered into the bargain with Gwen, before he found that he genuinely enjoyed being around the red-haired witch, that she was far more interesting than any other human he'd met in a long time. Once he'd peeled away all those layers of propriety and bedded her as well …

"We sealed the contract, as it were, in blood. Even if we hadn't, I gave her my word, Corrie." The words are quiet, and Aidan doesn't actually look at the witch sitting across from him as he says them. Not right away. He stares at the scotch, the way the light reflects on it and through it. Finishing off the glass, he sits up suddenly and refills it from the bottle. "Whatever you may think that you know about me, I keep my word, especially if there is blood involved. I keep it, which is why I so rarely give it to anyone."

-

"So you continue to keep an eye out for her descendants because she died and you are keeping a promise?" Corrie catches the bitterness and revisits her previous statement that he was quite obviously fond of her ancestor. Enough so that he'd stop harassing her due to the connection? Probably not, but enough so that he'll actually not try to kill her which for the moment is just as good.

"I'm certain she never meant for you to continue after her death, so I really don't understand." Beat. "I'm sorry," she says quietly, "That you lost someone whom you considered a friend."

-

"Yes, well, it isn't the first time. Humans tend to do that with amazing regularity." Now, it's Aidan who's voice has taken on a sharp and bitter edge. His eyes are cold, like ice chips and he tosses the rest of the scotch back quickly. He doesn't like that he's losing control, being affected like this, and he closes his eyes as the drink burns its way down his throat.

Slipping like this is not part of the plan.

A slow count to five is given, and then his eyes slide open. The hard edge is muted, but not gone, and his jaw is tight, but in the attempt at maintained civility, he forces a weary half-smile. "I'm sorry, now I'm being an ass." Which granted he usually is, and usually doesn't apologize for it either.

He fills his glass again and noticing the bottle is almost empty, signals for the lovely server again. When his gaze falls on Corrie again, he's almost — almost — back to his usual cocky self. "Or maybe I was just hoping to meet another of her caliber?"

-

There is a strong struggle deep within Corrie. Her instincts scream for her to comfort him. Her brain yells at her to keep her distance. She weighs the odds of each interaction, and then sighs.

Slowly, she sets her glass upon the table. Her hand begins to reach across the table to gently touch his. "We do." Beat. "It's what happens when you've not the ability to live forever. Still, you were fond of her and I'm sorry." It's likely the absolutely most genuine thing that Corrie has ever said to the vampire.

Then she's quickly drawing her hand away before he can take hold of it again.

"Something tells me that's not it, but you've not once met anyone coming close? Truly she sounds like an absolutely crazy, yet remarkable woman."

She pauses, glancing across at him. "If you need a moment, I can go to the bar rather than waiting for the server."

-

The touch of her hand draws Aidan's gaze downward, the heat and warmth of that contact hard to ignore. Considering the source? Doubly hard to ignore. The Vampire can't help himself - his mind considers a million different ways to manipulate the moment, all in the space of a single heartbeat. Restraining himself, however, he doesn't follow through on any of them. He just gives her a quiet, "Thank you." Because it's what's expected and she is evidently trying and the little witchling has no idea exactly how convoluted the whole situation is.

"Your family seems to have developed an extreme disdain for vampires over the years," Aidan remarks, a wry smile on his lips. "But I'm sure you already know that." Beat. "I really haven't gotten that close. Only been idly curious in passing."

As to her last question, Aidan lets his gaze linger on Corrie's for a long moment, "Not until recently." That answer was one part honesty and definitely, one part manipulation.

Leaning back in the chair again, Aidan folds his arms across his chest. "I think you would have liked her. Else you would have hated each other because you were too much alike."

-

"Can you blame them, all things considered?" Corrie doesn't really know the half of it, does she? But what she does know is that if this Edward was harassing her family for generations before this ancestor of hers and the deal, then chances are it's a deep rooted hatred that's not likely to just dissipate with a conversation or two.

"So it was pure coincidence then, that you retrieved my cellular?" Beat. "You had no idea, did you? I mean, surely there must have been some spark of resemblance, but you really had no idea." Were it not so unbelievable, she'd laugh at it. In all the ways she could have caught the vampire by surprise, one that wasn't even of her own doing wasn't exactly what she'd pictured.

His response causes her to glance down at the table and begin fiddling with the empty glass once more. Twisting it this way and that, she bows her head forward. Either to hide the flush in her cheeks (which he'd be able to discern anyhow) or to keep herself from laughing at the absurdity of it all.

"Possibly a bit of both."

-

"It was," Aidan nods, rocking back on the legs of the chair, leaving it tipped with the two front legs off of the floor. "When you dropped your cellular, you were simply lovely and distracted and I was being a gentleman. I was actually more interested in getting into the Undercity than anything else that night, though given enough time I would have angled for your number." A coy grin turns up his lips now, almost touching his eyes.

"Then Watson decided that I had marked you as dinner and felt like you needed protecting from me and I couldn't resist tweaking that White Knight complex." The chair drops back to the floor, surprisingly quietly and lightly, and Aidan pours a fresh glass of scotch. "I'm pretty sure that there was a spark of resemblance, but it didn't quite click for me. You would think that I should have seen neon flares going off around you, right?" It's a smokey, bemused laugh that follows the words.

-

"You'd think," she says dryly. "All things considered, that night especially I would have thought your vamp-sense would be tingling or something." Corrie fusses with the empty glass a little more before pouring herself more water. Definitely shouldn't drink herself into a stupor — she'll be additionally stupid then.

"You get a thrill out of seeing people squirm, don't you? Why? Even without doing so, you could likely have anyone you wanted… so why toy with them? Or is that some vampire thing?"

-

"It's an Aidan thing." The man answers the question without missing a beat. "I did it when I was alive too. It's just a lot more fun now."

A drink is taken, and he leans his arms on the table, offering up a half-shrug. "I like the challenges. The easy ones are … easy. Challenges are something that I have to work for. I'm old, Corrie. I have to keep things interesting."

That rather begs the question of where Corrie falls into the scheme of things, though, doesn't it?

-

Corrie watches him through the clear liquid for a very long time before she says anything else. "Why? What could you possibly gain from screwing with people to the point of their frustration?"

She takes a deep breath, then finishes off the water. Just to help sober herself up. "Tell you what then. I'll keep your secret with one caveat. You explain to someone else the whole of the reason you're not meaning any harm toward me."

Then she raises her empty glass as though to toast him. "To challenges."

-

"Gain? Nothing really," Aidan shrugs again. "It really is just a spot of sport and amusement for me." Given the other pastimes he pursues in the name of amusement? That one is as mild as they come.

There's a speculative look in his eyes as he regards the woman sitting across from him. He doesn't lift his glass right away, just tilts his head and watches her for a heartbeat or two. Then, slowly, he leans forward and lifts the glass. "Careful there, Kavanaugh, I might start to think that you're going to actually give me a chance to prove myself."

Aidan lifts his glass and toasts, "To challenges… as for the other, that depends on whom you think it is that I need to talk to."

-

"I'll be verifying as much of what you've said in the diaries and grimoires, so I'll know if you're lying to me." Even though a lot from that period is missing, she'll at least be able to find out if there was a Gwendolyn Bishop and when she died.

"A friend." At least she hopes he's still a friend. "Someone I inadvertently put into danger with that false name I gave you, and I refuse to lie to him. Beyond which, he already knows who and what you are."

Beat.

"Rhys Owens."

-

Aidan very nearly inhales the scotch he was preparing to sip from. It's seldom easy to catch the vampire off guard, least not where he shows he's been caught out. It's something that Corrie should note on the calendar, really. He lowers the glass to the table, letting a stream of expletives flow in mixed Irish Gaelic and Celtic.

When he finishes, and it's only a few seconds, Aidan taps his fingers on the tabletop. "I really, really have to think about that, Corrie. My kind and his kind don't mix, haven't for a very long time, and … I really need to think about it."

-

"My Gaelic isn't all that great," she comments dryly when he curses like a sailor. She tucks her hair behind her ears, leaning forward on the table. "Though I do understand your need to think about it. I guess everyone will be having quite a bit to think about in the coming week."

Beat.

"Because I'll be signing a contract with Reese Entertainment Media at Flare in a week. I'm giving my notice tomorrow morning. Though apparently I hardly need to be protected by them, when I'm protected by you, correct?"

She lets that sink in a second before whispering, "He thinks I'm signing to keep myself safe from you but if I'm being honest, it's to keep myself safe from his brother. The only way to ensure Gideon Reese won't retaliate against my family." Shrugging she rests her chin on her hand. "I suppose I'm really not that far from Gwendolyn Bishop as I thought I might be. The whole making a deal with the devil to keep one's family safe…"

-

He's already shown his hand twice tonight, so Aidan is not doing it again. That's why he takes the time to pick up the glass again and drink it slowly while watching Corrie from across the table. A plethora of thoughts go through his head, the first and most prominent being Well played, Owens.

Aidan is exceptionally silent, now. He drinks, his gaze occasionally lingering on Corrie and occasionally moving around the pub. Once or twice it even hovers on the television hanging in the corner of the room - tuned to a sporting event that Aidan has no particular interest in.

When the scotch is gone, Aidan pulls the bottle toward him and refills the glass. "My obligation to Gwen is to protect you and your family from vampires. That's all. I can't protect you from sorcerers." Beat. "In addition, I should say that your … employment … puts you somewhat under the umbrella of the Dynasty."

Aidan shifts from his sitting back stance to lean forward and rest his arms on the table, mimicking Corrie's earlier posture. "There's a very long history of separation between vampires and sorcerers and a very good reason for it. I've no interest in upsetting that centuries old balance that has worked so well for both sides." The glass is lifted and Aidan takes a drink. "Whatever you might have told Owens regarding your reasons for signing, Corrie, you don't trust me, you don't like me, so I'm not sure what exactly it is that you want for me to say. Seems to me that you're getting exactly what you want insofar as my … presence … in your life."

-

"For as long as you think the vampire history is with sorcerers, I can assure you, Aidan, that witches have a much longer, much more sordid one." Corrie stares at the wall, not trusting herself to look at him. Not wanting to share any part of her history with him.

But really, it's only fair, isn't it?

"Sorcerers are responsible for the witch hunts. Oh, I'm positive that they're responsible for much more than that, but when they were being eyed for their use of magic, they were the ones who gave up witches at every turn." Beat. "And I'm considering working with them. If I can push past that bias with them, given enough time I can push past the bias I have toward vampires."

Beat.

"Do I want you to go away and leave me alone? Yes. Do I want to sign on with a Dynasty to get that? Not particularly. I can handle myself insofar as vampires are concerned. You may be faster and stronger, but I have enough spell power to pack a definite punch if I need it." She may be judging herself to be far better than she is, but her sorcerer magic is definitely enough to protect her long enough so she can run.

"I'd like you to talk to Rhys." Beat. "And if what you say is true, I'd like you to continue to protect my family and I from others of your kind. They are what's important to me." She'd do anything to keep her family safe.

-

Aidan listens to everything that she says without interruption, elbow on the table, a finger tip pressed to his forehead. Suddenly, despite the casual dress, he looks every bit the professional and considering businessman, listening intently to a presentation as he weighs the pros and cons of what is being said.

Really, Aidan does know when to cut his losses. Owens clearly feels the need to find a way to lay a claim of ownership and protection on Corrie, and Aidan's not so invested in the witch that he'll put himself in danger or make an enemy out of the sorcerer.

"Your family is safe and will be," Aidan says once she's done. "I gave my word to Gwen and I'll not go back on it. But …" Another swallow of the scotch, "I think it is clear that Owens has some sort of vested, personal interest in keeping you away from me. That's a game changer." Aidan taps his lip with a single finger, pausing for a beat. "The Dynasty can protect you." Clear emphasis on it being Corrie and not her family. "From vampires and anything else."

As a business man there's no profit for him in not accepting the deal as it's been offered. Selling off a small part of the company before he's at a loss makes perfect sense.

He still hasn't said whether or not he'll talk to Owens. Again.

"However," Aidan shifts, considering the woman across from him. "That's not to say that handing over one of Gwen's descendants to a sorcerer … well, it's not exactly a contingency that she would have ever accounted for. I'll talk to Owens, but I'm making no promises and I don't know what you hope to achieve. I will not cross the Reese Dynasty, Corrie, particularly when I've been given no reason to do so."

-

"Oh, he does not. He saw an opportunity to sign me. He knows I'm good at what I do, and that I would've killed to work with my boys again is all."

Beat.

Corrie eyes Aidan with a great deal of curiosity. "He never once said I had to stay away from you. Just that it was advisable, and that I couldn't trust you. Which is nothing less than what I was already thinking."

She starts to gnaw on her lip. A little nervously. A little anxiously. "Your word, Aidan. Your promise. You'll keep my family safe from your kind?" Even if his story is absolutely false, at least she'll have his word. She'll have to trust him but the worst that can happen is that he goes after her family.

"You'll talk to him. Explain the promise. I don't expect you to go into the entire story. That's personal." Beat. "And I do appreciate you sharing it with me."

She's about to get up out of the seat, so that she can wander to the car and drive off and leave him there. Only she stops herself from just going when he agrees. Curiosity, it would seem, has gotten the better of her again.

"What would give you reason to do so?"

-

"If that's what you wish to believe, then so be it." Aidan doesn't argue the point with her. He said his piece on it, offered her enlightenment, and that's all he will do.

"I gave my word to Gwen two hundred years ago. It hasn't tarnished." Aidan taps a nail to the side of his scotch glass. "Again, it really serves absolutely no purpose for me to have made that up, particularly in light of the … new development you've just shared with me." Beat. "As well, Gwen and I we sealed that particular deal in blood. I don't think you have any interest in repeating that bargain."

Yes, giving his word again wouldn't make him beholden to anything he wasn't already, but it's a matter of stubborn pride for the vampire at the moment.

Aidan truly didn't expect her to ask. He lifts a brow as she shifts her attention to him again, "Are you truly asking me what would make me put my neck out to defend you from the sorcerers if the need should arise? When you've given me nothing but grief and mistrust and have even just reiterated moments ago that you'd like me out of your life?" Certainly she said she didn't want to have to go to the sorcerers to get it done, but the reminder still needs pointing out to her.

The vampire waits for his words to sink in, grasping the gravity of her inquiry.

"Fine." Aidan folds his hands, one on top of the other. "You." Beat. "Don't twist that around the wrong way. It's not that type of request." Though it could be at a later date, but that's hardly here or there at the moment. "A … partnership, not unlike what I had with Gwen. If I require the services of a witch — and again, please don't twist that — you will assist me." Another beat. "Also, I've extended an olive branch of friendship. Try to accept it and use a modicum of civility, and perhaps learn that I'm not the horrible monster that you believe me to be."

-

"Me."

Beat.

"A partnership."

Corrie looks quite perplexed. It's as though she's heard nothing else. She inhales a sharp breath, allows the exhalation to come slowly.

"Assit you in what?"

Beat.

"And I can't promise friendship. That will take a while, Aidan. I've got centuries of issues with your ilk, and frankly I need to ensure that I can trust what you've told me tonight before I agree to anything."

There's another pause, and then, "I don't need protection from the sorcerers, per se. I trust in a business contract to keep me safe from Gideon for the time being. However, I'd like to know that should I need an unexpected ally, I've got one." She'll definitely have to talk to Rhys about adding something in her contract in regards to Aidan if she wants to go that route.

Have the vampire protect her from his kind, and from the sorcerers… and have the sorcerers protect her from everything else?

It has its merits, honestly. But it's doubtful that she'll be allowed to have both types of protection.

"You'll talk to Rhys though? Tell him, or at least verify for him that I'm not making that story up?"

-

The little witchling's reaction is quite amusing. Aidan gives a low chuckle and shakes his head. "Really? You have to ask?" Beat. "You're a witch. What do you do best?"

He gives her a moment to process that before continuing, "I'm not asking for your friendship. I'm asking you to at the very least, accept the attempt that I am making, and give me a chance to prove myself without the constant hostility. Please?"

Aidan is more than willing to give her time to think on the matter. She's the one that seems to be clinging to his … possible alliance, and he's really not losing anything if she goes off to a corporate shotgun marriage. "Whatever you need. You asked, I provided an answer."

A nod is given to her last question. "I will talk to him, and verify." Precisely what his 'obligation' is, meaning that he still will not stand in the way of any sorcerer. Only vampires . . . and then, only if he knows about them.

-

"Spells. You want spells. Then I should warn you that I'm likely not as schooled as your other… friend." She's meaning Gwendolyn of course.

"Give me time." She can't promise that she'll be civil. She knows herself far too well. Granted, she also doubts she'll see him again after the dinner with Rhys at Flare.

Then she says the only thing she really can. It causes her to sound both absolutely sure, and absolutely weak at the same time.

"Thank you."

-

"Spells. Contacts. Aid if I should need it," Aidan points out, lest she think he is trying to pull anything over on her. "I'm not concerned about your skills at this time. If there should ever come a point where I need something that you are unable or unwilling to provide, we'll cross that particular bridge at that time."

Shifting again, Aidan rests his chin on his hands, elbows propped up on the table. "Time is certainly one thing of which I have no shortage." Beat. "You're welcome."

He's out of his chair and around the table faster than the human eye can detect. In the span of a heartbeat or less, Aidan is behind Corrie, pressed into her personal space - but his presence there is completely devoid of flirtation or suggestiveness. It's meant as a reminder. "But know this, Kavanaugh, you will be making the decision to keep me embroiled in your life. I've no need to entangle myself with sorcerers no matter how beautiful and alluring you might be, no matter what my relationship to your ancestor. You've asked for this and I will take it upon myself with all due seriousness of intent. However, I will not be your weapon to wield or your puppet on a string … and if you ever double cross me, my deal with Gwen does not mean that there will not be hell to pay."

-

There's a slight squeak when he's suddenly in her space, and she takes a step forward to keep him away from her. Corrie doubts she'll forget what he is, or what he's capable of. The reminder is unnecessary unless he's aiming to make her jumpy.

A deep sigh is issued and she spins to face him. "I'm not daft, Aidan. I know what I've said. I'm not asking you to entangle yourself with sorcerers. I'm asking you to continue keeping my family safe from your kind, which you've already stated you'd do regardless of where my affiliations lie." If Aidan continues to watch the family from afar, then she's happy. If he goes after one of her sisters, she'll show him just how capable she is… if he doesn't kill her first.

"I've no intentions of double crossing anyone, or using you as a weapon. I've got my own arsenal." She wiggles her fingers at him. "Which I won't even bother to use against you. If everything you've said tonight is true… if Gwendolyn Bishop existed and set up an agreement with you, then it's a good step toward a bridge of trust." Beat. "Though bear in mind I know you have your own agendas, so that bridge will never be completed."

-

"Then we're agreed." Aidan twists and lowers himself gracefully into the nearest chair. "Are you all right to drive? I'd hate for you to have an accident on the way home. I'll gladly pay your taxi fare as I am the one who brought us out here."

Beat.

"I'll get my own ride, don't worry." There is a server here, after all, whom Aidan is most interested in getting to know better.

-

When he lowers himself away from her, Corrie breathes a sigh of relief. He's not pushing for some blood pact, or taking a kiss. He was simply trying to reassert himself as the 'badass vampire'.

She can handle that.

Then he's going and acting concerned and it makes her blink several times.

"Oh, I…" Pulling out her cell phone, she shrugs. "I'll call for a ride. I'm obviously a little more tipsy than I thought. You actually sounded concerned for a second."

-

"See? That is exactly what I mean." Aidan waves a finger in her direction. "I wouldn't have bothered to waste the energy mentioning it if I wasn't somewhat concerned regarding you making it home safely and in one piece." Beat. "I might have 'agendas'" - and Aidan does go so far as to put air quotes around the word - "But as has been pointed out to me, you know what I am, and you don't trust me."

Waving a hand, Aidan dismisses the conversation. "Let's not ride that carousel again, yes?"

Beat. "Do have a lovely evening, Corrie."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License