Gawd another chapter. I've been having serious writers block lately but it seems to have fucked off finally...
Enjoy the awkwardness guys, honestly though Cait's not always this pathetic :P
Thank you Rednightmare and Nofacesonlymasks for your lovely reviews :D
Cait cracked her knuckles anxiously. The socially awkward Gangrel had not wanted to return to the dingy hang out, even she wasn't exactly sure why. She had also found herself at the receiving end of a frosty welcome from the infamous Brujah before her, whose mood was decreasing further during their awkward silence. Cait had always felt intimidated by Nines Rodriguez. He had saved her neck twice and all she had done in return was cause trouble for him. She had helped the Prince frame him for the murder of the Malkavian primogen, and practically fed him to a monstrous werewolf in Griffith Park. Because of this, Cait felt indebted to him. Realising that she was to be the one to break the silence, the vampire took a nervous step forward.
"I found the stray. He was hiding out in Santa Monica, the junkyard."
Nines glared. His biceps were tense and his fists tightly clenched. His anger hadn't decreased it seemed, though Cait had tried to distract him from it.
"He was alone, looks like he went on a one man binge and disappeared before he was found. There were no witnesses and the police are looking for some other guy."
Nines spoke quickly, "Good. I'd be pleased with ya kid but I just got some bad news about two of our new blood."
Cait instinctively knew what dance was now waiting for her. Detective work, reporting back and errand after damn errand and all because she couldn't form one simple word in her useless mouth; no. Still, she found some comfort in the fact that it wasn't her Rodriquez was angry with.
"Not sure who did it but someone tore 'em up good. Sent us a little snuff film catchin' the whole damn thing, tortured the poor bastards for a half hour."
He clasped his hand around his clenched fist and let his forehead rest against it. Then Cait jumped as he brought both hands down and smacked the table he was sitting at. The thoroughly intimidated Gangrel was afraid to ask the next obvious question, but she couldn't stop herself.
"So, I'm guessing you can't see the bastard's face on the film?"
Really should have kept quiet…
Nines stood up and stepped away from the cracked and splintered lot of wood.
"If we could, I wouldn't be here wasting time with you, would I?"
If that was an insult, Cait didn't take it as such. It would have aggravated him further and she wanted to make a quick exit. She scratched behind her ear and glanced at the stairs behind her.
"You want me to find him right?"
Nines shoved a flimsy chair away from him.
"Don't put words in my mouth kid. I got a good snoop on that job already, I'm just pissed we let it happen in the first place. No I got something else that needs doin'."
I'm so not going to like this one…
"We just got wind of a meeting taking place in a few days. Funny thing is, nobody invited us and they've been trying their damn hardest to keep this info tight. Now, could just be the cam catfightin' over who gets what of Lacroix's, but I want eyes and ears in that meeting. You've been in the Nocturne before right?"
An angrily confused look appeared on the Gangrel's face. She didn't like this one at all.
"What the hell? Sneaking around is Nos work! Why are you asking me?" She had suddenly found her "no" voice.
Nine's met her glare. His was face portraying some sort of confusion as well; finally showing something that didn't scream "angry badass, don't mess with me". He took a step towards her.
"A little quick to defend aren't ya? At the moment, most of the Nos are busy licking the cam's wounds. Sneaky bastards know what I know, which is that the cam will hit back and soon. So while they're making themselves appear once again indispensable, I have to work with what I got."
Cait shrank back a little.
"You don't have to sneak into the theatre, I'm sure you got other ways of getting it done thanks to your time in the warrens. You may not realise this but you're on better speaking terms with the rat nest than I am kid."
She scratched her head, pondering how many inches she'd just lost in height. Rodriguez continued.
"Besides, I'm not going make you do it. You know how things work around here."
Is he trying to make me feel guilty?
"I wouldn't have asked but I need a favour right now. So are you in or out?"
The final nail in the damn coffin.
That was all Nines needed to do, mention the word "favour" to the young Gangrel and she would comply. As far as she was concerned, it was the only way to pay back her debt. She was almost convinced Nines knew the score too. Now she felt dumb for reacting badly to the request in the first place. She cursed herself over and over in her head and swore she'd keep her "no" voice in check for when it was actually needed.
"Sure, I'll do it." She subtly gritted her teeth. "So what time is this supposed to happen?"
I surrender, again.
"Thanks kid. It starts at nine on the back of the seven thirty show. 'Far as we can tell, it should only be about five or six kindred tops. We don't know anything about it except that we weren't invited." Nines told her, and Cait could have sworn blind that something of a triumphant smile lay behind his thankful eyes.
"If they tried to hide it from you, why would they hold it right under your nose? Did they really think nobody would notice?" If there was something Cait had learned under her embrace, it was to question everything. She had been set up by others of her kind so many times that she automatically assumed to be wandering into a trap every time she was sent on a mission.
"Well we usually don't give a shit every time a bunch of suits go the theatre. It's not totally uncommon for kindred to see a show, the Toreador eat that shit up like AB negative. The only reason we know they're having a meeting at all is because they ghouled a security guard there; apparently he didn't understand the words, "keep your god damn mouth shut". Vic overheard the dumb bastard in the Confession."
Vic, that was an unfamiliar name; one of the many new recruits no doubt. Cait took the information in and came to a simple conclusion: this was the most obvious set up since Ming Xiao spoke the words "pardon me" while posing as Nines. During the incident that factored heavily in the Gangrel's decision to side with the Anarchs, Cait had no knowledge of shape shifters or in fact the Kuei Jin themselves. She often wondered that if she had, would she have uncovered the frame much sooner? The idea that the Brujah rebel before could ever be soft spoken was ludicrous, which she had thought at the time, but the deceptive Kuei Jin had reproduced him so damn convincingly on the outside. Cait fell for it hook, line and sinker, just as she was supposed to.
Now Cait was almost certain it would never happen again. She believed she knew Nines well enough to recognise a phoney if she met one. Nines was not well spoken, only killed strategically and definitely didn't smell like Chinese incense. He was also no fool, and if Cait could figure out this meeting business was some sort of trap then so could he. Either he was testing her, or he believed that she should be smart enough to know it wasn't just "accidently" leaked to them.
"Alright." she said, eager to shake the Anarch's presence, "I'll need to go back to Santa Monica then. Can you hook me up with a ride?" She turned and took a few steps towards the stairs behind her.
Nines walked towards her, headed for the ground floor as well it seemed. She took the cue and descended.
"I'm headed there later tonight, after I answer a few house calls. Stick around for an hour and I'll drive you there."
Cait stood aside at the bottom of the stairs and let him stride past her.
"Damsel, no calls. Anybody wants me I'm dead til' tomorrow."
Damsel, now sitting near the front door with her feet resting on a table, gave a quick nod as Nines left the Last Round. Cait watched him in silence, her anxiety growing as she was now stuck in a place she didn't like, waiting for a vampire she didn't want to spend any more time with that night. She sat in a booth at the opposite end of the bar to Damsel and rubbed her forehead. Normally, the Gangrel was a confident creature. Away from the Politics, the Jyhad and the Sects she walked the night with her head high. Alone she was happy, stalking through the night with a morbid appreciation of kindred (un)life and socialising only when she fed on some hapless human. Here however, in the presence of her chosen Sect she felt nothing more than a puppet. The kindred here treated her as an equal, but each reminded her of the meaningless soldier she once was.
Shortly after her forced embrace, Cait had warmed to Nines quickly. He spoke out for her when she was hauled into trial and saved her once more when "somebody" tipped off a pack of Sabbat as to her whereabouts. She was well aware that if it weren't for him, she wouldn't exist; as Damsel would often remind her. He was inherently likeable, though his aggressive nature was a little threatening and Cait found herself in want of his approvable. Maybe that was partly why she didn't enjoy returning to him after a job was done, maybe she feared his judgement more than she would ever admit.
She glanced at a grimy clock hanging lopsidedly against the wall. It was five minutes since Nines had left.
This is going to be a fucking long hour…