Sunset, Chapter Four

By scarlet (superscar)

Nathan had a front man for his criminal syndicate, but what he'd acquired in Brooke was a figurehead for his legitimate business enterprise.

The first thing purchased with her sizable starting bonus was the Penthouse of the Fogel Towers - one of the posh-est buildings in down town Seattle, practically untouched by the power of the pulse, where everyone who kept their money in a safe had moved when the stock market went belly up.

The only downside to Brooke's new job was that she had to see Nathan every day when he woke up and he'd give her that look, like he could snap and she'd run. She felt like he owned her, a whore bought and paid for. But that's how he wanted it, so she tried to stifle the reaction, to pretend it was just business to her. To do that, she had to ignore the fascination he'd held from when she was young, when he first offered her protection.

Or younger, when she dreamed about her mother.

But she didn't ask about that anymore. Brooke was a realist. She had no real shot at the life she wanted without Nathan's help and if she had to be his business partner to make a life for herself, it couldn't be any worse than some of her previous efforts to survive.

So while Nathan and the rest of the vampires holed up for the day to sleep, Brooke was waking up to the brand new world of acquisitions. Her extortionist past only helped in this brand new career.

The phone rang and she pushed off the bar she built with her new-found wealth, slid her chair back past the desk, grabbed the phone, put her feet up and hit Talk.

As far as she'd ever known, life was a bitch, but overlooking Seattle's sky scape, she thought it probably didn't get any better.

"Davis-Scott Enterprises, how can I help you?"

"You can fucking forget my number I'm never selling!"

"Ahh, Mr. Stapinski, I was hoping you'd call back."

"This is Brooke?"

"Of course, darling, I would never miss your call."

"Then I hope you won't miss that my company is not selling, young lady. My grandfather built this from the ground floor - it survived the pulse and it will survive you."

"Mmm, I love your tenacity, Mr. Stapinski and I look forward to working with you."

"If, by that, you mean, working FOR you, Ms. Davis, then I'm going to have to pass."

"And that's just the attitude we want on our team."

"Over my dead body, Ms. Davis. Don't call here again."

Dial tone.

Hmmm. Brooke tapped the antenna against her chin for a second before she got up and started pacing. The most important thing about the game was winning. To Nathan, it didn't matter how it happened, just that it did. He was paying her to make it happen in whatever way she deemed appropriate. A small fortune was passed over to the sector police every month to make sure any of the more underhanded methods were ignored.

Refusal wasn't something she could accept. If she told Nathan, he'd take it personally and quite literally, be out for blood. It was part of his nature, after all.

But Brooke was human and there were other ways of making people crumble than going after their life force.

She went after their bank account.

XXX

Tim practically skipped into Terminal City. Though Nathan had been reluctant to involve Brooke in anything other than hiding from the outside world, her presence was paying off way before he'd thought it would.

"So!" he walked through the door and plopped himself onto the couch next to Peyton, "We're even richer than yesterday - where's the love, baby?"

Peyton studied him for a minute and then started nibbling his wrist.

"Pay attention," he snapped, swatting her away from his blood, "In a second."

She glared at him and he swallowed nervously, "OK, you can snack," he gave her back his arm, "But listen!!"

Peyton smiled and inserted her fangs delicately into his wrist, motioning for him to continue.

"So I get this call today from Brooke - woke me up, but she wants me to have Johnny and the boys in Sector 12 hit a convoy in their territory. The woman's a born crime boss, you were right."

Peyton smirked against his skin.

"So they hit it - it's a mint - they raked in an easy million and that's just what they told us about. Fucking crooks. But she just paid for herself and more."

"Talking about me?" Brooke walked in the door and took a seat next to Peyton.

"What happened after we hit the truck?" Tim asked eagerly.

"Mr. Stapinski left me a very steamed voice mail," she shrugged.

"What does that mean?"

"That he caved," Brooked smiled.

XXX

There was nothing Leon Stapinski loved more than money and Brooke was in the business of knowing everything about everyone. So when it became clear that continued resistance to her plan would come with depleted finances, he decided to rebuild his empire elsewhere.

An empire that would no longer include the financial support of Seattle's Mayor and his political aspirations.

Brooke reclined back on the settee and smiled. She could get used to this kind of life.

Working for the bad guys, her conscience stung her, but she ignored it. The good guys had never been an option for her. Not in this town that wouldn't let her into school, didn't allow her a respectable job. No. This world wasn't white and black, it was dark and darker gray and she wasn't even sure which side she'd chosen.

It was hard to accept that she was the sort of woman that was intrigued by murder, power and whatnot, but it was hard not to be fascinated by Nathan. He walked like a man that had come into his own, without the swagger that tries to hard or the hesitance of insecurity.

Nathan Scott was a man that accepted himself and in Brooke's experience, this was rare. He was also a blood-sucking demon, but on the streets of post-Pulse Seattle, that was also fairly run of the mill.

And somewhere inside her was the disgusting hope that maybe he was sorry. She hated herself for even thinking about it.

So often, she wanted to ask him, but she didn't. And today would be no different.

"You ever wonder what it would be like if you were Nathan's daughter?"

Brooke slowly turned her head to Peyton, who was finished with Tim's wrist and licking blood from her lips.

"Well?" the vampire smiled and Brooke felt the weight of her power and the twistedness of the question.

"I know you probably hear it a lot, but that's sick."

Peyton laughed, "Why? Because he killed your mother? Or is there something I don't know?" she winked and Brooke blushed.

"That's disgusting."

"Is it?" Peyton turned to Tim, "Go find Jake for me."

"But he'll be here soon-"

"Go."

He ran. Peyton smiled and turned back to Brooke. "Where was I?"

"Making repulsive suggestions?"

"Ahh yes, you'd be amazed what you'll find attractive one day."

"Right," Brooke rolled her eyes.

Peyton glared at her, "I may look like a prom queen, but I'm more than twice your age and you should listen up."

Brooke shrunk a little in her chair and didn't comment.

"Do you know what it's like to be a vampire?"

"Obviously not - I'm sorry that you have to deal with it, but-"

Peyton burst into laughter. "Sweetheart, it's not a burden. It's a gift."

"Right," Brooke shook her head, "I'm glad you enjoy it."

"You're no different than I am. Before Dan bit me, I was a fucking prom queen. I had barely HEARD of vampires before I became one. I hadn't skipped a day of school. Isn't that funny?"

"You went to school before the pulse?"

"Completely different world. Everyone is so much more honest now. Being broke will do that."

"Maybe people are more honest when they're begging for their life?" Brooke suggested.

"Not really," Peyton shrugged, "They pretend they want to live, that they weren't miserably contemplating doing the job themselves just minutes before. It's a reflex. Instinct. Even a creature desperate to die will fight to live."

Brooke shrugged, "Not everyone's like you."

Peyton ran a fingernail down Brooke's wrist, along her vein. "Of course they are. Everybody has the same needs. I like to eat and fuck just like everyone else. I'm just top of the food chain in both departments."

"And what do your…needs…have to do with me? You won't touch me without Nathan's permission."

"Of course not, I'm a survivor. They have to do with you. Because we're all the same. We don't do things to be nice. Nathan protected you for a reason."

"He felt guilty."

"No," Peyton shook her head, "That'd definitely not the case."

"How could you possibly know or care about Nathan's motivations?" The know-it-all attitude was bugging the shit out of her, but Brooke didn't push it. She couldn't trust Peyton words or actions. Because no matter how interested she was in the in workings of Nathan's mind, it was Peyton's reasons for all of this that most concerned her.

"Maybe someday I'll explain it to you," Peyton shrugged, looking away from her.

The conversation was over, apparently, leaving Brooke confused about what was going on and what message Peyton was trying to send her.

"To Be Continued," the blonde muttered as the boys came back in the room.

"Miss me, baby," Jake crawled over Peyton's body and she smiled, locking him into a kiss that made Brooke blush.

Lucas looked extremely annoyed by the display, which Brooke found interesting. What kind of drama must they deal with having only one female amongst them? He caught her gaze and she glanced away quickly, not eager to be anywhere near him after the debacle with his younger brother.

She was actually relieved when Nathan stepped between them. "Could I speak with you?" he offered her a hand up and she took it gratefully.

"Sure, no problem," Brooke went the long way, swinging around Tim to avoid Lucas.

Nathan must have noticed, but he said nothing, keeping hold of her hand even after they left the room.

"I hear you bought us Seattle," the object of her consideration reclined on the seat next to him. He moved like a cat, the sinews of his muscles stretching languidly as he waited for her response.

"Not Seattle, just the Mayor. Davis-Scott is now the number one campaign contributor."

"And giving him money means we own him?" Nathan smiled.

"No," Brooke met his eyes as she said it, refusing to be intimidated, "It means I do."

He lifted her hand to his lips, "And who owns you?"

"No one," she stated firmly.

"You're sure about that?"

"I have powerful people protecting me," she reminded him.

Nathan's eyes ran along her vein to her neck, "So you do."

"Unless you think I shouldn't trust them?"

XXX

Brooke Davis absolutely shouldn't trust him.

"Of course you should," Nathan assured her.

He was a liar, for one.

"Good. I'm pretty sure I'm more valuable dead than alive."

"I wouldn't be too sure about that. The un-dead are a valuable commodity."

Brooke dropped the pretense that they were talking about other people, "Why would you need another vampire – unless you need to even out the male/female ratio?"

"Vampires are bi-sexual," he informed her and her eyes actually widened a bit.

"So you and…and Lucas?" she asked hesitantly.

Nathan grimaced, "I said bi-sexual, not tasteless."

"Not into pretty boys?"

"Not like you are," he shrugged.

"What would you know about my sexual preferences?"

Nathan didn't tell her, he just lead her into the room reserved for him, that no one entered without permission. It was decorated in mostly black with a flash red here and there.

The massive bed monopolized most of the space and Nathan couldn't help but noticed that Brooke looked everywhere but directly at it. "Nice bed, expecting lots of company?"

"Just you."

XXX

Her eyes flew to his and though she noticed his amusement, he also didn't seem to be joking.

"You can't be serious."

"I can be whatever I want to be. Or that's what my mommy said."

Imagining Nathan with a mother was ridiculous. He was probably a cute little rascal at one point, but that person was gone now. The only person that was even close to his parent was the one that turned him into what he was today.

"Okay, look, you're freaking me out and I really want to know if you are trying to seduce me, just make me feel like a whore or you have some other scheme I should know about?"

"I don't try to do anything. Trying is for people who can't achieve their goals."

Brooke was practically shaking, torn between the desire to run and the thought that maybe it would just be easier, less painful, to just give in to whatever it was he wanted.

"So is this where I'm supposed to lay down and spread 'em or did you have something more romantic in mind?"

"I want to plan our next move," he took a seat in a chair by his desk, "Did you want to take the bed?"

Oh. Plan. Brooke slid very deliberately into his reading chair. "I was thinking our next target should be the Police Chief unless you had a better idea? It's easier to acquire property when they're on your side already."

"And how do you plan on going about that?"

"Still working on that, but don't worry about it."

As they continued their discussions, Brooke tried not to be embarrassed by her earlier assumptions.

Or disappointed.

To Be Continued.