"Clarie!" Vanil spread his hands, pasting a warm smile across his face. "Just the person I was hoping to see!"

"Come to gloat, Bishop?" The willowy Daeva tossed her long, platinum-blonde hair. "I thought such things were beneath even you."

Vanil endeavored to look confused. "Gloat? What did I do that I'd be gloating?"

"Don't be coy. The attack on Timothy Brock's haven!"

"Oh, yes, I'd heard something about that. Terrible shame… One can't be safe in one's own haven these days. Tell me, do you have any leads on who it was?"

"We know who it was: your templars!"

"My dear, don't you think I'd know if my templars were out raiding? Lexi and Erich have been busy scheming on something else entirely this past week, and they wouldn't go behind my back like that!"

She stared down at the wide-eyed Gangrel. "Either you're a cunning bastard or a complete idiot, Vanil. The Goddess help me if I can decide which."

Vanil looked like he wasn't sure whether he had just been complimented or insulted. Waving it away, he caught her elbow and practically dragged the priestess towards a table, cheerful smile back in place.

Clarie eyed the hand on her elbow, fingers and knuckled marred by a myriad of small scars. Marks of a misspent youth, she thought to herself. Not that it looks like he had time to outgrow that youth. With his eyes alight, chattering and practically bouncing along at her side, Vanil looked for the world like a hyper six-year-old stuck in a teenaged punk's body. Must have been the charisma and boundless enthusiasm that gained him his position; it certainly wasn't his restraint.

A pat on her arm pulled her out of her musings. "Are you still worrying about that attack? Don't worry, I'll have Erich look into it. He'll find out who it was in no time." She searched his eyes for any sort of duplicity, as he gazed up at her guilelessly. Eventually she sighed and turned away. I daresay the idiot has a crush on me. A quick sideways glance showed no cunning glint; that damnable cheery smile was back. Fighting down her irritation, she suffered herself to be seated. Vanil plopped himself in the next chair. She let the inane chatter wash over her. This is going to be a long night. It'd be bad form for her to leave Elysium so early, but it was tempting. Very tempting.

0-0-0-0-0

"How was the raid?"

Lexi glared sullenly from where he was sitting with his feet on Vanil's desk. "There was no RPGs."

"The rest of it?" Vanil tossed the keys down next to the templar-priest's feet.

"RPG-free. Dammit, why can't I have just one!?"

The bishop leaned over and glared down at him. "Lexi. How. Did. The. Raid. Go?"

Sulking, the Ventrue stared at his shoes and muttered, "Fine. It went fine. Guards died, idiot fledgling number one is kissing Final Death, and Erich's got number two. Think he's becoming a hands-on experiment for Erich's little squad. And I didn't get any RPGs."

"Records? Receipts?"

"Erich and his little merry band snagged every scrap of paper and hard drive they could get their claws on. If he doesn't have it, it went boom with the rest of the building." He sighed. "It's a curse. Every time I try to get one, I get this close, and something goes wrong. Every time!"

"Oh, stop whining. Think positive. Didn't you have fun tonight? Expend lots of clips of ammo?"

"Two magazines. That's it. Two! And I didn't even finish off the second one. Pissing-ass boring raid."

"Go visit Erich, then. He can give you a lesson on interrogation techniques, or something."

"Thanks, but no." Lexi narrowed his eyes at the bishop. "Aren't you just one happy Gangrel tonight. Have fun convincing everyone you're a featherbrained idiot?"

"Quiet, you. And yes, I had fun. Our favorite witch is convinced that you and Erich are conspiring behind my back, blah blah… Also seems to think I'm in love with her."

"Probably has something to do with the big Gangrel-puppy eyes you like to give her."

"Probably," admitted Vanil cheerfully. "I'll have another target for you by next week Meanwhile, I'll be off convincing the rest of the city I'm a harmless, cuddly, violent-yet-utterly-naive punk with an illicit crush on a witch... some nights I love my job."