Alexander and Bela meet to discuss business, but Mikhail decides to spice things up.
Richmond District, San Francisco
Sunday, October 18, 2015, Noon
Alexander scheduled the lunch meeting to take place at a restaurant named Chapeau. It was designed in a Classic style reminiscent of a Parisian restaurant and while he had never actually been there, the staff had said good things about it. He arrived early, as usual for such affairs, and requested a table in the corner. He indicated he was waiting for the other party to arrive, a woman, but left out the particulars of her appearance - she had shown up to several meetings in the past looking contrastingly different each time. Having been seated, he set his cane against the wall and opened a wine menu to begin browsing the selection while he waited.
Bela sweeps into the restaurant, looking quite like she belongs here. Expensive shoes, dress and jewelry. Her long brown hair is pulled into a French twist, even. She's done this dance before with Alexander and as soon as he sees him, she indicates to the hostess that she is the second party he is waiting for. As she moves to the table, she allows her long black coat to be taken from her and she settles into a seat with a smile. "Forgive me if you've been waiting," she tells Alexander, her British accent immediately apparent. "Though, I know how you like to be early to these things and I would have hated to deny you the opportunity to already be seated when I arrived." She waits until the hostess is gone until she adds, "How might I be of service?"
The corner of Alexander's mouth curls up faintly as Bela sits down and speaks. As different as they were, they also had many things in common. In a different life, under different circumstances, they could have been more than just business partners. Instead of responding, he reaches into his scarlet shirt pocket. From within, he Withdraws a black handkerchief which is folded around something. Setting it on the table between them, he says softly "I brought you something I came across recently. Too mundane for my tastes, but perfect in quality. I thought you might appreciate it." Within the kerchief is a perfectly cut diamond, at least five carats in size.
Folding her hands on the table - though keeping her elbows off of it, she has impeccable manners, after all - Bela gives a cat that caught the canary smile, "Oh, you brought me a present? This is why I so love our meetings." As the black handkerchief is placed on the table between them, she delicately picks it up and flips over the top part of the fabric. She's careful to ensure that she doesn't touch the actual gem. Even if Alexander has said it's mundane, that doesn't mean it truly is. She didn't get this far in her profession by trusting everything everyone says. While Bela may be untrusting, she is not quite so jaded that a five carat perfectly cut diamond won't widen her eyes. She has a weakness for expensive items. After she inspects it, she covers the diamond again and places it on the table in front of them. "It's absolutely gorgeous. Is it truly a present, or is it an advance?"
Alexander nods his head towards the kerchief and says simply "No, that one is a gift. The other has yet to be negotiated." Reaching into his right coat pocket, he pulls out a folded piece of paper. He holds it out casually to her as he says "I have need of a particular tome. I recently learned of its existence and the owner is playing cat-and-mouse with me. I don't appreciate that. If he had no intention of doing business with me, he should have said so from the start. As it stands, I have enough interest in the item and he's toyed with me to the point that I feel entitled to its ownership. He no longer has a say in the matter; the details are on the paper." Waiting for her to take the paper, he taps the wine menu with his other hand. "Shall we have a drink? I leave the choice to you, my lady."
Mikhail is hunting and felt like a higher class vintage today which is what lead him to sitting in this restaurant, vampire senses allow him to keep an eye and ear on everything around him, including hearing a rather interesting conversation going on between Alexander and Bela, maybe an opportunity for some fun? Getting to his feet he follows one of the waiters upstairs and returns a few moments later dressed in a waiter's uniform and replacing his sunglasses. Approaching the interesting table he slips a notebook out of the trouser pocket, "Good afternoon, would you like to order some drinks? Or shall I come back in a moment?"
"In that case, thank you. Your thoughtfulness is why I always enjoy our little talks." Bela tucks folded gem into her dress. Something like that shouldn't be risked in a purse where it could be stolen. "And the negotiation. It's rare to feel truly appreciated." She can't help but smirk at that. She likes negotiations and chases, it's why she's in this business, after all. Once the business talk has actually started, her smirk does not fade, but her eyes give a somewhat more serious look. Plucking the sheet of paper from Alexander, she glances over the details. Already her mind starts to think through what may be necessary. "It certainly does look like a worthwhile chase for a cat of a particular color," she tells him before folding the sheet of paper back up. Taking the wine menu, she glances at it and smiles. "I'm feeling classic today, aren't you? A red? It is fall, after all." As Mikhail arrives in his waiter get up, she studies him for a moment, the sunglasses certainly catching her attention for a fancy restaurant. However, she does not skip a beat as she orders, "A bottle of this Bordeaux. Thank you."
Alexander listens to her response and nods. "You can certainly see why I am turning to your unique expertise in a case such as this." That seems to settle things for now. The mention of the wine choice earns a nod from Alex. "Indeed, that sounds like an excellent selection." As the waiter starts to come up, he mutters softly "We always seem to come to terms when it comes to these things, we can square up afterwards if you prefer. I'm confident that we can, as always, come to an agreement." Once the waiter arrives, Alexander gives him a cursory look but doesn't pick up on anything suspicious. "The lady has decided," he says simply before waiting for the waiter to scamper off.
Mikhail smiles and continues to use a Californian accent in place of his own, "Of course Madame, excellent choice", he heads off and returns a few moments later with the wine and two glasses, pouring a small amount of the wine into one of the glasses he offers it to Bela, he assumes the lady would prefer to do the honors.
"Of course," Bela replies, slipping the sheet of paper in to the same place as the diamond went. "It seems like quite an interesting conundrum. One that I look forward to puzzling out." After placing her order, she waits for the time in between Mikhail leaving with the wine order and returning with the bottle to add in the same soft tone, "Truly. Once I have a plan in place, I shall return a quote. With something like this, I may need an advance to properly get started." That is not just a negotiation tactic. The two have worked together often enough to at least know they are both good for the money and the goods. By the time Mikhail returns, Bela smiles and takes the wine from him, inhaling deeply. If she doesn't smell anything suspicious, she takes a small sip.
Alexander nods crisply at her response. "Of course, whatever it is you need. Just let me know and I will arrange it." Upon Mikhail's return with the wine, he watches the waiter offer it to Bela to taste and leans back in his chair. He takes a longer look at the man, scrutinizing him carefully. One had to be cautious in public, but it was safer than meeting at a residence to discuss these matters. Both had their risks. He looks intently at Bela to see if she approves of the selection she made.
Mikhail uses the wait for Bela to make her decision to make sure he has all available information down and both scents memorized, while vaguely wondering if he hid the waiter's body well enough.
"I'll leave no stone unturned," Bela assures Alexander with a smirk. "And you know how I hate to get my hands dirty." Which is true in the literal sense, but she will also resort to dirty tactics in order to get her way. It's possibly why the pair work so well together. After smelling nothing off about the wine, she swallows it and nods. "Lovely, thank you," is directed at Mikhail. Delicately, she puts the glass down on the table to allow it to be refilled. "I think you'll enjoy this," she tells Alexander with a smile. "Full bodied, a little dry." Once the glasses are filled, she raises hers to clink with his. "To us."
Alexander's eyes make contact with her and he smiles appreciatively, a thin curvature of his lips, at her commitment to their latest joint venture. As soon as Bela accepts the wine, he nudges his glass to the side to allow for the waiter to fill it. "As always, madam, you have excellent taste." Once the glass has been filled, he lifts it and touches it to hers. "An excellent toast. I could not agree more."
Mikhail fills the two glasses and is about to take his leave when there’s an answer to his previous question to himself in the form of a scream upstairs, pretending to drop the waiters notebook under the table he apologizes and crouches down attempting to use vampire speed sleight of hand to slip the dead waiter's wallet into Bela's purse.
Bela takes a sip of the wine after the toast - as is polite - and then sets the base of glass down. "That is part of my charm." Still smiling, when Mikhail drops his notebook on the floor, the brunette leans over and reaches out to snatch at the man's arm as he stands up and - what she thinks - is an attempt to steal her purse. Already wary of him due to the sunglasses, she knows the 'dropped something' trick from a mile away. She may not have seen him slip the wallet into her purse, but she's certainly not going to let him walk away just yet. "Pardon me," she tells him sweetly. "I do believe you're attempting tricks on the wrong table."
Alexander hasn't even gotten to take a sip yet before Mikhail is... under the table? His eyes narrow and he looks over the edge, but doesn't see anything before Mikhail is already standing up. Bela's reaction is instant, and he watches the exchange the two quietly. "Hands a little slippery, sir? Might want to keep a better grip on your notepad in the future. You wouldn't want people thinking you were up to something, would you? I can't imagine the manager would like to hear such things." The words are delivered with a bit of a threatening undercurrent, but Alexander says nothing to rein Bela in. If the man wanted to play games, let him feel the brunt of her ire. He certainly wasn't going to intervene.
Mikhail's arm feels hard like marble, he looks at the hand holding onto his arm and considers briefly simply snapping it off at the wrist, considering the woman may be of more use to him whole he reconsiders, "Sorry Madame? What tricks?", he notes some staff making their way upstairs and responds to Alexander, "My apologies Sir, it's been a long shift".
The sunglasses and the marble arm are met with a subtle shift of Bela's demeanor. The smile is still easily in place, but she reaches down for her purse. It's still there, for one, meaning he must have taken something out of it. This is why she places valuables in various other places on her person if they're valuable enough. Setting it on the table between herself and Alexander, she gives her business partner a raised eyebrow at his remark and then looks back to the purse. The staff members starting to rush upstairs are duly noted. With her napkin, she opens it, noticing the slipped in wallet. Wait, he put something in her purse as opposed to took something out of it? The hand drops from his arm and she narrows her eyes, the smile fading. "What is this." She's dealt with dangerous artifacts and killers for quite a while, she's not about to touch it herself. It could be a mystical bomb of some sort.
Alexander, taking notice for the first time of the activity in the restaurant, looks around carefully. His gaze levels on the waiter, a tugging of his lips curling one corner up in suspicion, before he returns his focus on Bela. When she drops the purse in front of them, his eyebrows furrow in confusion. As she takes the napkin and opens the purse, spotting the wallet inside, Alexander leans over the table. Frowning, he looks curiously at it, before telling her "It's just a wallet." An eyebrow arches at the woman, the silent question - you have a man's wallet in your purse?
Mikhail hears one of the staff members upstairs calling the police, looking down at the open purse he shrugs, "It looks like a wallet Madame, may I go? I have other customers", he wonders how long the police will take to respond, a naked waiter body is probably semi-high priority, shame he's caught up with humans slightly less stupid than usual.
”It's not mine," Bela good naturedly rolls her eyes at Alexander, as if that much should be obvious. She's not the type to carry a man's wallet. And just because something is a wallet doesn't mean that it can't be something else. Using the napkin, she plucks it out and drops it on the table. Then, she pokes through the rest of her purse to make sure nothing is missing or has otherwise been slipped in. That taken care of, she puts her purse back in her lap. "The question is, how it got in here," she raises an eyebrow at the waiter. "And as you're a waiter wearing sunglasses in a nice restaurant, but do not seem to be blind in any way, it does seem a little suspicious, don't you agree?"
Alexander frowns, seeing the reasonable nature of Bela's statement. Petty larceny wasn't her thing, after all. Looking up at the waiter with the sunglasses, Alexander frowns and shakes his head. Warning bells are going off at this point. None of the elements about this little encounter were adding up, but together they definitely made something smell fishy. "I don't know what your game is, sir, but perhaps it is time you -did- attend to some of your other customers." Reaching into his pocket, he pulls out a wad of bills and drops them on the table. "The wine was superb. Thank you." Standing up, he walks around and leans over Bela, extending his hand. "I'll escort you out," he says softly to her.
Mikhail sighs as he hears police cars coming and those of interest are leaving, this wasn't much fun in the long run, just rich people stealing from rich peo... "Excuse me?", a waitress taps him on the shoulder, "Who are you? you don't work here". Mikhail looks from the waitress to Bela and Alexander, "Oops, rumbled then", he slips behind the waitress, "Bad day for you darling", and quickly snaps her neck pushing her at Alexander, "My cue to go... WHAT DID YOU DO?!", he backs away knocking over chairs before running.
As Alexander approaches her, Bela takes his hand stands up, slipping her purse over her shoulder. While she did check a coat, she's more than willing to leave it behind. She's rich enough to simply be able to buy herself another one. As Mikhail has the exchange with the other waitress she starts to move away until she hears the snap of her neck. While she's no stranger to violence or gun play, this is a restaurant in broad daylight. "//Bloody//...!" As the waitress is shoved in their direction, she quickly steps back, making no move to catch her. There's no compassion or need to catch a dead stranger falling toward her. "//Him//!" She points toward the running Mikhail, her attempt to divert attention to them.
Alexander, completely caught off guard by this sudden turn of events, doesn't catch the corpse either. When Bela steps back he moves to the side so she doesn't crash into him, affording the corpse a clear fall to the ground where it lands with a sickening thunk. Desperate times call for desperate measures as the situation is quickly going downhill. Going out the way they came in was clearly going to cause a certain degree of interrogation neither he nor Bela were prepared for. Leaning close to her ear, he mutters "My dear Bela, there comes a time in every relationship, no matter how professional, where a certain degree of trust needs to be exchanged for the sake of survival. I believe we have reached that point. Find the exit to this room with the least number of people near it. Staircase preferably and go. I'll be right behind you." He turns to grab his cane from the wall, mustn't forget that.
As the waitress' body falls onto the floor between them, Bela looks at it and then at Alexander. His words are met with a frown at the word 'trust' that's not exactly something she's totally willing to go through. However, when the rest of the plan is for her to simply leave? Well. That's certainly something she can handle. She left no fingerprints on the wallet or the waitress, only on the table and the wine glass. That could be anything. Nodding, she glances around the restaurant, starting to come up in an uproar since there may be a dead body on the floor. There's always an exit back by the kitchen. "Well, if you insist," she smirks at Alexander and then makes her way toward the back.
Whereas the commotion would make most people struggle to cast a spell, Alexander doesn't have any problem focusing. His left hand raised, a few gestures, and suddenly any onlookers would see Alexander and Bela as two more wait staff moving through the building. The transition takes place almost instantly, at the precise moment they walk through the doors to the kitchen. The glamour is cast in such a way that Bela might not even notice it, only others would. Looking around, things seem just as crazy in the kitchen as they did in the rest of the venue. However, everyone seems to be exiting -towards- them instead of -away- from them. With a sinking feeling, Alexander spots police already moving in through the back door to contain whatever the situation may be. He casually nudges Bela towards a nearby pantry with spices lining the walls.
Smiling faintly, Alexander walks to the furthest wall of spices. "It's time you learned why I got into this business, my lady. I sincerely hope you do not make me regret this." Taking a deep breath, he raises his left hand and begins mumbling something. After a few seconds, anyone with supernatural knowledge can tell it is clearly an incantation. Reaching out with his cane, he taps the surface of the spice rack wall. Ripples begin emanating along the wall from the point the cane touched. Seconds later, the entire wall vanishes into a square doorway of bright blue light. "It leads to the alley just outside," he says without any further explanation. "Quickly now, before they come this way."
Bela doesn't notice that he's changed their appearance. If it's not something she could automatically feel, she would just assume she's good at blending in. It's when she's nudged into the spice pantry that she raises an eyebrow. "I never took you for such the forward type," she teases Alexander with a smirk. "But, stress does tend to ramp up the hormones." The explanation is given with a bit of a raised eyebrow, "I thought the oodles of money and riches spoke for themselves," she assures him. Though, as he starts to chant, the other eyebrow raises. Her cocky expression turns into one of genuine curiosity as she watches the portal form in front of her eyes. She's seen and done magic before, but a portal to the alleyway is something she hasn't. There's a certain hesitation as she looks to the portal and then to her business partner. She didn't get this far by trusting other people and jumping into glowing blue portals. For all she knows this is a trap that will get her arrested instead of him. But, at the moment there are not many options. Taking a breath, she steps through.
Not waiting, Alexander steps through behind her. The portal disappears the moment he is through, leaving nothing but a spice rack for the police. Bela would feel a sensation as if she were at a great height suddenly released to freefall. After a moment, the sensation stops abruptly as she is expelled from the opposite end of the portal. True to Alexander's word, the portal leads to the alleyway outside. One of the perks of always arriving at the scene of their meetings first was being able to scope out the building's exterior for just such a situation. As a result, he knows precisely where he wants the portal to open - the furthest back wall of the alley directly to the side of the main entrance. Coincidentally, it is also the alley without the back entrance. Less police presence, to be sure. As he emerges shortly behind her, the portal closes behind him. He shakes his head to clear it and dusts himself off out of habit.
Mikhail is standing in the shadows of that alley now minus a shirt having ditched the one belonging to the waiter, he raises an eyebrow as the portal opens, "Magic? hmm that’s an interesting twist", he heard them mention a tome but he assumed it was a greed thing rather than for a spell, "Skillfully played kids, didn't see that one coming".
Bela braces herself for a fall that, really, doesn't happen. Stumbling - a rarity for her - she leans a hand against the alley wall to try and regain her balance. Luckily, her faith in Alexander is rewarded in that he was telling the truth. She glances backward toward the man she now knows as a caster to see if he did in fact follow her out of the restaurant. "That...was an odd sensation," she tells him, as idly as she can. The approach of Mikhail causes her to straighten, a hand reaching into her purse. She has a weapon stashed there - as she never tends to go to business dealings unprepared for something along those lines. "Stay a respectable distance away," she tells him. Her tone is not scared or wobbly, it's firm. He's already murdered someone in front of them, she's not going to take the chances that she will be next.
Alexander looks up at the sound of a familiar voice nearby. His features twist into a scowl as he spots the shirtless 'waiter' nearby. He didn't hear what the man said, still shaking the ringing out of his ears from the portal. "You!" he spits out. "I don't know what game you are playing at, but I do not find it amusing in the least." He has a strong suspicion what is hidden in Bela's purse, but has to wonder if it would be of any help. The way that man snapped the girl's neck, without any effort whatsoever. Something was off about him. "I think you had best walk away," he says with a low tone. "You've had your fun and now its over with. We will not be pawns in whatever sordid little adventure you are out to have today."
Mikhail removes his sunglasses showing that he is just a teenager, well a teenager with crimson red eyes, he wonders how well his natural draw will work on these two as he cracks a smile, "Just having a little fun darling, do you not feel your adrenalin pumping? all part of the game", he's still deciding wither to kill the two or not, though a magic user may be of use at a later date.
There are quite a few things hidden in Bela's purse. There is certainly a gun there, but there are a few other mystical protections that she brings along with her for exactly such an occasion. She's just unsure what occasion this is, exactly. The red eyes are something that narrows things down, but she knows enough from her time studying all things occult that it's a bad idea to look people in the eyes. Compulsions, soulgazes, any number of unwanted things are possible. "Murdering a waitress in bold daylight is not exactly a little bit of fun. And attempting to get it blamed on //us// is quite a bit beyond that." It's clear where her priorities lie. "So, I would get gone."
Alexander doesn't seem to be reacting to whatever magical influence the vampire has. "My adrenaline is hardly any of your concern. But for the record, this is not the manner in which I like to get it 'pumping' as you say." Shaking his head, he agrees with Bela and says "You murdered that girl in cold blood. There was nothing playful about that." He realizes if this creature is that dangerous, there's no way he can protect Bela. Raising his left hand, he bows his head and begins chanting. Mikhail may be fast, but Alexander is counting on his persistent barrier to protect him from any attempted attacks. Bela would note the spell's familiarity as it was the one he just cast, with a slight bent to the phrasing. With a crack, Alexander brings his cane down to the ground between his feet. Seconds later, the ground underneath Alexander and Bela disappears, replaced by a bright blue circle. They immediately drop into it, the portal sealing behind them.