I Hate to Ask
Mercurio was clearly surprised to see her. While he was clearly in the loop enough to know that she had been sent after the Elizabeth Dane two days before he wouldn't have heard anything about her business back in Santa Monica because she didn't actually have any. She had gotten the rather disheartening news that Therese finally getting her head on straight – so to speak – meant that she was joining the Camarilla but that was a concern for later.
She wondered what it said about her that she had been around for less than a week and the Camarilla hadn't been that bad to her and she was already looking longingly towards the Anarchs. Maybe she was a rebel in life. She wished she knew.
"Anything I can do for you tonight?" he asked.
"I did want to let you know that I've so far managed to avoid setting myself on fire with my beautiful new flamethrower," Satine announced.
Mercurio gave her a look that clearly said 'I can see that.' "Good to hear."
"I should probably get some more fuel for that," Satine said thoughtfully. "Though that's not why I'm here."
Mercurio's left eyebrow raised. "More fuel already? What have you been doing with that thing?"
"Well, technically I don't think I really need it," Satine told him. "It's just that I find it really useful. Instead of wasting time and energy hacking people to bits, I can just set someone on fire and half the time I give them one little hit of flame and they die."
"Isn't it dangerous to, you know, set so many people on fire? The flamethrower only has a limited range," Mercurio reminded her. He went over to his chest and pulled out the fuel containers he had on hand.
Satine shrugged and took the offered containers, handing him some money. "In the future it might be a problem if someone actually thinks to keep attacking me or panics and runs right at me. I've never met someone who wanted to kill me so badly that they'd keep trying after catching on fire. Mostly they're too busy dying in horrible agony to worry about me."
"You seem pretty, uh, sanguine about the horrible agony you're inflicting," Mercurio noted.
Satine crossed her arms. "Are you going to judge me right now? Because, trying not to be judgmental myself, I heard the kinds of things you wanted to do to Dennis and those other guys after they tried to kill you. And even if you didn't mean it, you have kind of worked for vampires for like thirty years. I'm sure you've been around."
Mercurio laughed. "Oh, be assured that I am most definitely not judging you. I'm just surprised that you seem to be so cool with it seeing as how you are so new and whatnot. I don't see a lot of baby vampires but the ones I do see tend to…take awhile to come around to their new reality."
"Well I'm not relishing being a killer if that's what you're implying," Satine said. "It's just that right after I turned LaCroix sent me out here and I didn't even get here before I wound up under attack by the Sabbat so I could either sit around dying because I was having an existential crisis or I could kill them strictly in self-defense. All the death I've dealt out is self-defense, actually."
"Really?" Mercurio asked skeptically. "I sold you five cases of lighter fuel and you burned through them in two nights or less. How can you need to kill that many people in that short a time frame in self-defense?"
"It really all depends on how you define 'self-defense'," Satine explained.
"What? You think attacking people and then killing them when they fight back is self-defense cause if you don't they'd kill you?"
"I'm not quite that bad!" Satine exclaimed. "Everyone always says that. All I'm saying is that it doesn't matter where I go, I feel I should be able to walk around not bothering anyone without getting shot at. It's like when I went to go see Dennis! I just mentioned that I knew you and wanted to purchase the Astrolite they were supposed to give you and they just went off on me. Total self-defense even if I did go up there. Or that time I went to some crazy guy's mansion and had to kill literally every living being there as they all went after me. Maybe I should have a safer lifestyle and stop going into places where I might get attacked but the fact I put myself in these situations does not let them off the hook for attacking me."
Mercurio just stared at her for a long moment. "Far be it from me to tell you how to cope with this new world of ours. It's not like your kind can really drink."
"I did hear that we can get pseudo-drunk by feeding off of drunk people but I don't see why I would need to do that since I haven't done anything technically wrong."
"Hear hear," Mercurio said, though it was pretty clear he was just humoring her. Well he hadn't been there so he was just making assumptions. It wasn't her fault everyone was so trigger-happy and when she got a chance to spare somebody she took it even when it was probably a stupid thing to do. "But why are you here if it's not to purchase that fuel?"
"Can't I just come to say hi?"
"You could," Mercurio agreed. "Most don't so why would you?"
"I've decided that I want to be friends," Satine said. "I…probably shouldn't have made that decision unilaterally but that's kind of an awkward conversation to have, don't you think? 'Hi, thanks for getting me that boat. Yeah, it's no problem me not being petty and stupidly evil by burning a bridge and telling someone something that could get you killed when I wouldn't even get anything out of it. Do you want to be my friend?' What are we, elementary schoolers?"
Mercurio chuckled. "I'm a bit far removed from that. I'm still human which might give me an edge over you, though."
"But still, it's kind of weird if one person is friends with the other but that second person isn't friends with them. Like can you even be someone's friend without their consent?" She glared at him. "I hope you know that this was perfectly nice and uncomplicated and now you're giving me some sort of crisis here."
"An existential one?" Mercurio asked sardonically.
"I don't think so," Satine said slowly. "Give me twenty minutes and I can probably work my way up to one, though. I'm probably due for one since I don't think I had one after becoming a vampire. Was kind of busy but now I kind of have a moment."
Mercurio made a face. "I would prefer that you didn't. I've seen a few in my time and if I can't get you incoherent with drink there's usually going to be a mess."
"Well then we'd best get right along to whether or not you have a problem with us being friends," Satine said.
"No I don't but I do hope you know that not having a problem with isn't exactly the same as wanting to," Mercurio told her.
Satine nodded. "Oh, I'm aware but it's really good enough for me."
"Is there any particular reason you even want to be my friend?" Mercurio asked her. "No matter how much I might like you it's not going to be able to stop me from doing what I have to if it comes down to it. Maybe it might make you hesitate but seeing as how I wouldn't be able to return the favor that's not something you want to get trapped by."
"See, that's it exactly!" Satine exclaimed.
Mercurio stared at her in confusion. "I'm telling you that I'll try to kill you under certain circumstances and that makes you want to be friends with me?"
"I just appreciate that you're honest about it," Satine replied.
Mercurio shrugged. "Don't really see the point of lying. Anyone who knows anything about ghouls would know that. My loyalty is all but written in blood."
"There's just not enough people that I know that I can trust in this world and believe me when I say that I'm going to go out and befriend the other one, too," Satine said.
"What makes you think you can trust me, though?" Mercurio demanded. "I mean, I'm not saying that you can't but you can hardly take someone's word for it."
"That is true," Satine agreed. "But I gave a Malkavian twenty bucks and she told me that I could trust 'the man on the couch' and I figured that's you."
"Even ignoring just how vague that is…you're really taking the word of a Malkavian?" Mercurio said skeptically.
Mercurio seemed to be waiting for her to go on. "Well, whatever makes you happy I guess. But you still haven't told me why you're here because you said you didn't actually want to have this conversation."
"Sorry, I guess I haven't," Satine realized. "It's just it's kind of a weird question and I know that you won't want to talk about it."
"Won't want to talk about it?" Mercurio repeated. "If it's not an, uh, loyalty issue then I don't see why I wouldn't be."
"Well I don't see why you wouldn't be either but you're the one who told me that some things you don't like talking about with women," Satine explained. "And since you were talking about Jeanette at the time I'm sure you mean sex. But I have a sex question for you."
Mercurio coughed, looking uncomfortable. "And, uh, you need me to give you some sort of talk? I know you said you don't remember lots of stuff but surely you know that."
Satine rolled her eyes. "No, I've got the mechanics of sex more or less down. It's just that the topic involves sex and I know you don't want to talk about it with me but I don't know who else I can go to."
"I would recommend literally anybody else," Mercurio said.
"Well, it's about LaCroix."
Mercurio held up a hand. "Now I really don't want to hear it."
"You don't have to answer if you don't want to. I won't try to make you," Satine assured him. "But I'm going to ask anyway. "
Mercurio sighed. "Shoot."
"You told me that vampires can't have sex. I was kind of surprised by that because I'm pretty sure I heard something weird about vampires being Victorian metaphors for sex because they were all super repressed or something. I don't know. I don't think I was ever really that into vampires. Kind of ironic, huh? But them not being able to even have sex…actually sounds pretty Victorian come to think of it," Satine said thoughtfully.
"I'm not hearing a question."
"Well I didn't try anything with Jeanette because I didn't think I could even though I'm pretty sure she would have gone for it if I gave her that necklace. Of course it's probably for the best that I didn't as that haunted house was like the worst thing ever and if she sabotaged that pendant somehow – which given the painting situation I'm sure she'd do – I would have been really pissed," Satine rambled.
Mercurio was looking at her like he wasn't sure how to react to any of that. "Uh-huh."
"But then Therese said that she had sex and was even more offended she had sex with regular humans. So I guess maybe vampire on vampire sex exists. Or I don't even know what Therese would have been less appalled by. But she was kind of…odd. So when I heard that was possible and I wasn't up for fighting zombies or walking all the way over to the Lucky Star Hotel to get a prostitute I just decided to have sex with Romano instead."
Mercurio blinked a few times taking that in. "I think you mean Romero," he offered after a moment.
Satine nodded. "Right, him."
"You decided to have sex with him when you can't even get his name right because you were too lazy to kill some zombies or take a walk?" Mercurio asked disbelievingly.
"Exactly. But that's not really the point."
"No, the fact is that I was quite capable of the mechanics of sex," Satine said. "It's just that I didn't feel anything pleasurable until I bit him. I was careful, don't worry, but after that it got a lot more enjoyable."
"You told me vampires couldn't have sex. Now I find out that, even if apparently blood is necessary for it to feel good, we can. What gives?"
"I…don't know," Mercurio admitted slowly. "I'm not a vampire myself. I just heard it from LaCroix."
Satine nodded. "I figured that but that leaves me with a few possible explanations for my difference in experience."
"Specifically?" Mercutio asked.
"It's possible it's a gender thing. I mean, I'm female and Romero isn't a vampire so that could be it. Perhaps female vampires can have sex but males can't," Satine suggested. "I will probably hate myself for putting myself in this sort of position later but I'm going to go ask Jack about that later. Or it could be that LaCroix has Therese's sort of fixation on purity and not being crass and so just outright lied. Or he could have been lied to himself and didn't think to test it. Or…"
"Well he's pretty young, right? Or at least he was when he died. So what if he just never had sex and doesn't know that much about it and…I don't actually know how this even came up between you two but he might have felt awkward about his lack of knowledge and didn't want to be asked a lot of questions he couldn't answer so he said that vampires couldn't. Who knows? He may even believe it."
Mercurio choked. "Holy hell, Satine. Are you trying to make it so that I can never take LaCroix seriously again?"
"No but it's a nice bonus," she replied.
"If he just didn't know the answer then why didn't he just tell me it wasn't any of my business?" Mercurio asked. "I would have had to accept that."
Satine shrugged. "I don't know; I wasn't there. Maybe he thought he would be seen right through. Are you going to tell me why he even had this conversation with you?"
Mercurio shook his head. "No I am not."
"I'm just saying, I've killed a lot of people and am going to kill a lot more unless I get myself killed first. I think I can handle a little sex talk even if LaCroix evidently couldn't," Satine complained.
"I just wouldn't feel comfortable," Mercurio said apologetically. "Say, you're not going to bring this up to LaCroix, are you?"
Satine laughed. "Of course not! Who knows how he'd react? I'd like to keep his attempts to kill me a little more subtle than that."
Mercurio started. "LaCroix is trying to kill you?"
"Kind of, a little. He's not happy he didn't get to kill me earlier. It's a long story and I'm sure we'll sort it out one way or another," Satine said dismissively. "Don't worry about it. I might be tempted to subtly drop it into conversation but he might notice and I'd like him to still give me money for weapons I'm not going to purchase."
"He's paying you? You're working for him? Maybe you should consider finding somebody else to work with," Mercurio suggested. "I mean, still in the Camarilla of course but – loyalties aside – I would never work with someone who actively wanted me dead."
Satine shrugged. "I'll consider it. Right now I'm kind of stuck since I think he might not…react well to news that I want to leave. But this whole sarcophagus thing can't last forever and then we'll see."
"But seriously, I am never going to be able to see LaCroix and not think about that ever again," Mercurio told her.
Satine beamed and headed for the door. "Then my work here is done. I'll be back in a few days if I don't get myself killed to tell you my theory about LaCroix actually being German and just being so obsessed with France that he impersonates a Frenchman. Badly."
"Too late, you already agreed to be friends and that comes with no take-backs," Satine said brightly.
"I'm pretty sure that what I actually said was that I don't have a problem with it and friendships end all the time. And usually with no dismembering either," Mercurio hinted.
"Sorry, I can't hear you over the strength of our friendship," Satine said. "And don't worry, I won't spend all my time here talking about LaCroix!"
Mercurio sighed, relieved. "Good."
"I'm sure you'll be equally fascinated to hear all the theories I have about everybody else that we both know!"