Lavender Heights 
He was tempted to arrive in five minutes, close as he already was, but decided that he did not want to push her into bloodlust given the proximity of the new moon. So exactly ten it would be, punctuality an essential part of his nature in the end.

It was good that she'd moved to shared real estate. A standalone house was such an easy target.

Cozy in a lovely hunter green sweater, finding himself quite happy with the early reaches of fall. The car hummed softly and he drummed his fingers on the steering wheel before realizing that perhaps he ought to alert her of his arrival.

Outside, when you are ready.

He set into a very serious expression in anticipation of her approach. Would she be in a night gown? He hoped not.


In her rush to make herself presentable, she did not stop to think of whether or not this was some measure of Beauregard being playful, and so the idea of wearing breakable jewelry never crossed her mind. The earrings she only kept because she'd already been wearing them through her sleep.

His text came through, and she grasped for her purse and a pair of heels and carried them with her to the elevator to put on along the way down.

She came out far more composed, seeing his car and moreso feeling the magnetic draw of his presence and offering a greeting smile as she approached his car.

What could this be about.

He sensed her approach, watching her leave the building and finding himself frowning somewhat more genuinely. It was a very... businessy look for her. Perhaps she thought they might be attending some very important real estate negotiations.

Beauregard fixed her with something of a nod as she smiled, and he would wait until she'd settled into the car and closed the door before he spoke with a lingering downturn of his lips.

"I nearly went without you, but thought better of it," he said, putting the car in drive with his gaze on the road.

"How kind of you," she answered, and was rather honest about that. She did like chances to prove herself capable.

He was dressed cozily, and she did note that. It was a different look compared to his usual, and she wondered if perhaps he'd been caught unawares by whatever this important business was.

"Where is this urgent business?"

It was a small question that asked for small details. This, sincerely, made it all better. His expression remained serious, bordering on grim, and he sighed before he responded.

"All the way in Avondale, I'm afraid," he said. A quick half glance toward her revealed that at least she had taken time to put on earrings.

The car rolled to a stop at a red light, and truthfully he was looking forward to stretches of more open road in their future.

"Avondale?" she repeated with raised brows, genuinely surprised. Avondale was so far off her radar that she didn't even exactly know where it was.

What on Earth could there be in Avondale?

"I've never been there. Is someone making trouble for us?"

The light flicked to green, and they were moving again. It was a bit of a drive, but he'd been assured through some online research that this was simply the best possible choice.

Beauregard did not want to boldly lie. This was a truth-adjacent sort of matter. So now, he decided, it was best to come clean.

"Oh, no, certainly not," he said. How delightful that he would be introducing her to such a... cultured area. "But I knew if I were to go all the way out to a pumpkin patch in Avondale without bringing you along, you'd be quite perturbed."

"A pumpkin patch." With no one making trouble.

If only she might have been brazen enough to slap him, even lightly. She'd rushed to get ready for a pumpkin patch when he'd made it sound... intensely important.

"You're correct, I suppose," Raziyya sighed to his explanation, looking to her pants with a small frown. "Wouldn't want you to encounter a foe alone."

But he'd been his own brand of cruel, making this seem like it was something so serious. She wished she'd chosen the dress.

Such a lackluster response. It was all he had not to groan. Perhaps he needed to reach over and rip out a piece of jewelry.

"So downtrodden," he remarked with a somewhat exaggerated frown. "And here I thought I'd offered enough to at least earn an eye roll."

Had she some prior plans? A problematic date with a meal? It was near the new moon, maybe some last sip of her new pet.

Whatever it was, it left her very boring.

Oh, Beauregard, it wasn't about you, except it was. This was entirely your fault, and she offered him a mournfully wide eyed look.

"I am somewhat uncomfortably dressed for a pumpkin patch."

That was a mistake on her part, wasn't it. Beauregard supposed that would teach her not to choose outfits without some level of thought.

"What are you dressed comfortably for?" he asked, unable to imagine any answer beyond "secretarial work."

The look on her face was very female, at least, even if she was neither the variety of pretty nor the variety of living he was interested in.

Here she was hoping he'd be a gentleman enough to offer to turn around and allow her to change.

"Handling a problem, mostly," she protested. "Which is what you made it sound like. I may just have to throw pumpkins at you to make these pants worth it."

That was ridiculous. It was literally without sense. He looked to her somewhat incredulously.

"What, precisely, makes pants inappropriate attire for a pumpkin patch?" he asked as a man currently wearing the style of clothing in question.

Beauregard could not imagine anything more practical.

Heaven help her, except don't, because sacred things were off limits to the undead.

"It would be different if they were leggings, or jeans," she started, folding her arms. "But these are more formal. Less free."

Did that answer his question?

Her posture changed, and Beauregard found that he was very much set on this particular discussion.

"If they aren't 'free' enough for a pumpkin patch, how could they possibly be free enough for something potentially more troublesome? A scuffle?"

Her choice was increasingly impractical and Beauregard was without blame for her poor choices.

He was misunderstanding her meaning, which was possibly a result of her not making clearer the distinction between "formal" and "free."

Belatedly, she realized, she hadn't quite chosen the right word.

"Misspoke. Carefree is what I meant; it's not a matter of motion, it's a matter of feeling," she corrected, fixing him a squint. "Did you bring me out just to argue, Dominus?"

There was a measure of flattery for all she felt herself being riled up to defend her clothing preferences.

She chose her word as clumsily as she chose her clothing. Beauregard would glance from the rode to her gaze, unmoved by her explanation, though there was a lingering amusement in his eyes despite his frown.

"I brought you out because you requested to accompany me outside of territory," he said flatly. "I expressed that it was urgent because I do not manage boredom well."

Besides, it was a good test to make sure she could respond quickly if needed.

What a bratty answer. She shook her head and looked forward, though a small smile tugged at the corner of her mouth for his words.

"And how have you been managing your days then? Or are they less boring?"

Truthfully, he slept through most of his days. The hours were lonely for a vampire trapped mostly in a sealed off room.

"I spend daylight hours managing business at the planetarium. Crocheting. Trying on sunglasses."

Beauregard thought he was very funny, enough that he smirked a bit.

"Staying obediently within territory so as not to inspire my guardian into any worried nightmares."

Not that vampires could properly dream.

She very honestly could not remember a sleep with dreams in it.

"How very thoughtful of you," she commented somewhat dryly. "I hope you'll be making scarves for the entire clutch. Perhaps with silver yarn woven in?"

That would be useful, but she found herself curious on another topic.

"Do you dream now that you no longer go comatose?"

"I'm afraid it's the element, not the color that's effective on shifters," he said knowingly, as if he didn't realize it was a joke.

He did, of course, but correcting her was enjoyable regardless. Beauregard found most crocheted scarves rather unattractive, anyway.

"I do not. I suppose I don't miss it, after all this time."

She was aware it was the element, but conversation moved past it.

That was a shame that he did not dream. She gave a soft nod, and then returned to the former topic because now it was greatly more interesting.

"Silver threads do exist," she insisted — it had not been a joke. "Very thin metal is wrapped around a more pliable material. It's an old world sort of thing, but still exists today."

She could push for the impractical thing, if she wanted. Beauregard could not imagine the fibers to be anywhere thick enough. It wouldn't be yarn at all, most likely. Just wire or chain he'd be torturing with a crochet hook.

"If you'd like to buy a spool, I will happily make you anything you'd like out of it," he said. "There are all sorts of hideous patterns on the internet to choose from. I imagine they would all leave unique and fascinating scars."

A pointed look to her as he followed up immediately.

"Do you have hobbies?"

There were certainly spools of silver thread that he could weave onto yarn. She was now determined to purchase them.

She met his look with her own, wondering when it was decided that her loyalty to the clutch would withstand every pointed look and amusingly rude questioning he tossed her way. Perhaps when she landed that uppercut some time ago.

It would be nice to tussle again, even if he was leagues more powerful now.

"Do I look like the type of vampire who doesn't have hobbies?" she asked with a head tilt, as if he'd accused her of being boring. He had, of course. "I'm very fond of collecting pretty things. And dressing up in costume, too. In fact, my favorite time of the year is coming soon."

Collecting, Beauregard felt with certainty, was not a hobby. Unless she put significant time into growing or admiring her collections, he couldn't imagine it passed time very well.

"Pretty" was also a ridiculous choice of words, something better reserved for someone he'd sink his teeth into rather than an object to collect. Perhaps she kept collections of pretty humans. He imagined it would have made the fire at her prior residence much fouler.

The mention of dressing up was truthfully unexpected. He smiled.

"Thanksgiving? Christmas? You're a bit tall for an elf."

A huff. She was not too tall to be anything she wanted.

He probably didn't even dress up, the stuffed bird.

"Has anyone ever called you an ass to your face? Halloween, Beauregard."

"A confusing number of people," he said, expression briefly exaggeratedly thoughtful. Beauregard knew when he was being difficult, and amusement radiated from him as she sought to offer a correction.

"What will you be dressing up as for Halloween, Raziyya?"

Some sort of terrible harem girl costume came to mind and he nearly laughed for it.

Bastard, but his question was distracting enough.

"Oh, I don't know," she answered with the kind of fervency of someone presented with far too many options and wanting to do them all.

"I like the elaborate sort of high fantasy costumes best, or historical dresses. Though, I sometimes take a liking to contemporary culture at times too — will you be dressing for Edvin's party?"

Her answer was terrible in that it was not very interesting. High fantasy -- perhaps he hadn't been far off in his comment about elves. It was difficult not to scrunch his face in disapproval.

At least she'd stumbled in her wording enough for him to capitalize on it again.

"I do hope to be wearing clothes. I imagine it would be inappropriate, otherwise, even for a Dominus."

He'd known what she meant and yet he still mocked. "Boring," she pouted, glancing out the window. Surely he was festive enough if he wanted to drive so far away to some pumpkin patch.

Still, he wasn't killing her vibe so easily. She folded her arms and fixed him with a look. If he wouldn't choose a costume, she would choose one for him.

"I think you should dress as..." a soft gasp left her as she decided, "Captain Hook!"

He could feel that she was observing him, and as a man who liked to be observed, he smiled somewhat, eyes on the road.

Eventually there was a verdict, and he truthfully hadn't the slightest idea what she might offer. That certainly was...

Beauregard wasn't sure if he should be offended or not, and in the end, a huffed laugh broke from him.

"Cutting off a hand is a considerable commitment for a Halloween costume, don't you think?"

"Small price to pay. I can be Peter Pan, and Edvin can be the crocodile with the clock in his belly," she wagged a finger like a rhythmic metronome, excessively pleased with herself.

"I think this is all a very wonderful idea. I'll get the costumes together immediately. You'll even have a fancy silver hook!"

Taraneh's enthusiasm had the potential to be contagious, particularly for an empath. He could not claim to find the look of a woman playing Peter Pan to be especially attractive, but there was a greater prize here.

Edvin the crocodile.

"If Edvin will dress as a reptile, I will find the highest quality Captain Hook costume money can buy," he said, looking to Taraneh briefly. "But if he does not, I'm afraid I simply cannot take part."

His own amusement was audible, and he wondered if Taraneh might seek him out and compel him into it. The thought nearly sent him into some sort of giggle, and he smiled toothily.

He went for it teeth to hook, so to speak, and Raziyya could not have been more delighted. "I will simply have to sell him on the idea then," she promised with determination, giggling.

Oh, the myriad of ways she could lure him to look her in the eyes; only she had to rely on her ever faulty magic to confirm it.

"I think that red velvet coat would look especially becoming on you. Or perhaps suede would be better."

And, and, Safiya could be her Tinkerbell. Could Greta be convinced to be her Wendy?

Beauregard knew what it meant for Taraneh to "sell" Edvin on the idea. He tapped his thumb on the steering wheel in thought as she fell into flattery.

He did like her, Taraneh, but he did like Edvin as well.

Aiden might have made a delightful crocodile.

"I am afraid I am feeling something akin to guilt regarding your inevitable suggestion to Edvin that he dress as a crocodile," he said with a sigh. "Perhaps your new fledgling would make a better lizard."

Was the fun over so soon?

He dashed the idea just as quickly as he backed it, and she gave a soft shrug, coming gently down from her high as he mentioned her fledgling.

A slow creep of protectiveness welled in her.

"I'll do my best to work something out with him. But Safiya will not be a crocodile," she said firmly. "She'll be a fairy."

A fairy. He nearly rolled his eyes. Beauregard made a mental note to text Edvin about avoiding eye contact with Taraneh for a time.

"Too easy, a young girl playing a fairy," he sighed. "If I'm stretching my imagination far enough to play a villain, certainly she could push just enough to play a crocodile?"

He did not expect to win this battle, and the smirk on his face likely showed it.

But he was dedicated to irritating Taraneh.

"Is it such a stretch for you?" she asked, wondering where exactly the line was where this would cross from banter to insult for the Dominus.

Still, she felt as though she was a child shown a toy only to have it snatched from her. He likely would not keep his end of the bargain even if she did somehow convince the Second to dress as a crocodile.

"Perhaps I should be Hook. I think I'd pull it off."

Beauregard could be Smee, in her head.

"That's the joke," he said of his villainy, raising one eyebrow to her.

She fell so easily into youthfulness, something that always surprised him.

"If you'd like to take my costume, I won't stop you. I'm sure you'd look splendid with a mustache."

The last of his teasing, he told himself.

The absolute ass. She set her jaw and flicked her fingers towards him showily, sending up a gust of air to mess up his hair from behind him.

"Are you this rude to all the other women in the clutch, or am I just lucky?"

Something told her Greta was exempt from such abuse.

Beauregard did not particularly enjoy any touching of his hair, much less with what felt like some puff of breath at the back of his head. He shook his head, utterly aware that it was likely out of place. He would resist toying with it for the sake of his pride.

"You taught me to be rude," he said with certainty. "Allowing me to keep your pearls was a mistake. Positive reinforcement for bad behavior. It's irreversible now."

Every word was delivered with the mournful tone of complete, unshakable fact.

Her mouth opened first to argue, and then, silence. She was not sure how to feel at the idea that he had, in fact, kept the pearl necklace he'd torn from her. If vampires could blush, she might have sported a soft pink.

"Woe, this Dominus is so self aware," she managed to save herself, and then just plunged forward into ridiculous Shakespearean prattle to distract herself. "He knows what he does is wrong and he takes pleasure from it. Whatever shall his faithful Guardian do, to save him from his own impishness."

It was ridiculous.

But she was fond of him. That much was clear.

"You take pleasure from it too," he said, looking to her knowingly. "I'm an empath, you know. I can sense these things."

He hoped she thought it was too bold. That would only make it better.

He reacted to her ridiculous barrage of wordiness with an accusation that had her stumbling for words.

"I do not— if I enjoy playing your silly games with you then of course it's pleasure!"

Oh dear, she didn't like how any of that sounded after it was said, and it barely made any sense besides. She was not having a good time with words tonight. Flustered and slightly hating him for cornering her, she glared.

He heard her words but found he had trouble actually following them.

A quick glance to what appeared to be pouting was a delight.

"I'm not sure if you're having a stroke or simply devolving into bloodlust," he said, intending to be serious but quite sincerely giggling by the end, delighted by his own joke and what would almost inevitably be offense from her.

"Ugh!" she exclaimed, arms unfolding to raise her hands in exasperation and bring them to a slap at her thighs. "You're the absolute worst!"

He was not, by a long shot, but he still was.

The mention of bloodlust tempted her. But he could send her into dead sleep, and so she fought down any sort of desire to get truly dirty with him.

In. The fighting sense.

It was terrible. This was terrible. There was a great youthfulness to it all, and he found his laughter to continue on its own, a boyish tittering.

"The very worst?" he said, briefly composed, but it began to crack quickly. "That is quite- quite an achievement. Considering how many people you must have met in your remarkable number of years."

He stopped a tad short at a stop light, distracted somewhat by the tremendous joy of calling a pretty woman old.

"The very worst!" she outright yelled, feeling so very heated for a dead thing who was currently being giggled at by the man she was sworn to protect. But he was literally here mocking her age. A thing she was very proud of, as it denoted her own particular skill at survival. "Why do I suffer you?!"

Exasperated, she wished she could slap him, and only stopped herself because being in a car offered an awkward and unsatisfying angle. If only they were outside, she might have acted on her temper.

Her words were immensely dramatic, and Beauregard hadn't had a sincere giggle fit in perhaps a year.

He took a very deep breath in through his nose, lungs feeling almost sore for the effort, the breathed out from his mouth as one hand moved from the steering wheel to wipe the corners of his eyes.

Why do I suffer you. Goodness gracious. He nearly lost it again, but composed himself, though his voice was a tad high.

"My apologies," he said, feeling a grave threat of further laughter but subduing it. "I'm not sure what got into me."

A cry to the heavens, why do I suffer you, Beauregard Bertrand.

He kept his eyes very focused on the road, lest he lose it again.

She wasn't blind, she could see that he was very much enjoying his relentless teasing, and that his apology was yet another round of it, trying to seem reasonable in the face of her flaring emotions.

Raziyya offered a very femininely vocal huff, staring at the window and feeling vulnerable that her own feelings, whatever they were, had been dragged out so rudely.

If she was harboring anything for him, she reasoned with herself — an idea she hadn't personally delved into at all, and so would not confirm — she was certain it was nothing she intended to act on; it would only allow her to perform and enjoy her role more faithfully.

Well. Until he got under her skin like this. Then she would mostly just want to slap him.

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