Pluck out the stars

Mountainside Planetarium 

It was fucking warm today.

She'd been torn a while on which dress to wear. But there was something angelic about wearing white to a Planetarium that would be closed down for her, so she went with it! The black one could just be for another time.

She started as always in his lobby, where she was testing the strength of the heels she was wearing by twirling on them like a backwards ballerina. He was gonna be down soon, and part of her hope he caught her being a little bit of a child.

Because it was fun when he teased. Also, she was gonna call him Henry the moment they got to the Planetarium. She promised herself this.

@Henry Bertrand

Beauregard's mood had not vastly improved since his dealings with Spencer. It left him feeling serious and, somewhat unthinkingly, dressed for work. He was, in the end, going to his work place, even if it was more a more leisurely purpose.

Things were dire enough that he'd practiced smiling in the mirror, though that was an endeavor he recognized would hopefully be unnecessary once he saw her. Some deep, dark depression he would need to be in not to smile at a pretty meal.

This did not prevent him from frowning the entire elevator ride down, and even for his first few steps into the lobby. But he spotted her quickly enough, and she was... dancing? Or perhaps merely spinning. Bizarre, but charming.

"Did you turn your dance partner invisible?" he asked as he drew near enough not to shout to her.

The greeting would catch her mid spin, and Rika caught herself in whirl and gave a little gasp.

"Nope, he finally showed up!" she chirped, eyes all wide and feeling like they were going somewhere. "And in a tie, too."

Somehow her being in a dress was made more fancy by him being in a tie and having one of those little... crumple things in his pocket. Standing straight, she went to hug him.

Strange little creature.

Beauregard would step in for the hug, wrapping his arms around her in an increasingly practiced embrace. He couldn't claim it was especially soothing, but she was warm, and she was (in retrospect) wearing a dress he'd liked.

"I dressed for work without thinking," he admitted, then chuckled. "I admit the tie will come off very quickly when we get back."

No man truly enjoyed the physical sensation of wearing a tie. At least none he'd ever met.

"Your dress is even lovelier upon second look," he said as he allowed the hug to end and their walk to the car to begin.

"I've never taken off a tie," Rika thought but thankfully did not get a chance to say. Yet.

"Thank you," she accepted the compliment, moving to walk with him. "I still wonder about the neck, but... I guess we'll figure that out when we get back."

A beat as they left, mischief prodding.

"Or maybe in the planetarium. How far away is it?"

Beauregard realized, then, that he certainly hadn't swapped desks. If they were to wander back to his office, and she were to start digging for memories all over his desk...

Mm. An obstacle. He did have the couch now, and perhaps he could keep her to that. Or his chair. Ultimately, it was likely best if they found their way back here.

"A challenge I am certain we can overcome," he said. "It's only a few minutes away. It will be essentially empty, though there is a small chance we may encounter..."

He pushed open the door, surprised by the lingering warmth of the day.

"Other vampires."

A few minutes! Rika wondered if he chose his apartment based on that, and then decided — who wouldn't? She lived by Fuse after all. It made at least one commute pretty easy.

She was going to say she was pretty excited until he mentioned other vampires??

"Oh, they don't... all go home for the night?" she asked, taken off guard and sort of scared by the idea but also kind of thrilled? She'd be in his company, after all, which left her safe.

Right? Please tell her she was not about to become the object of some weird feeding orgy; one greedy vampire was plenty, she could say that from experience.

"Go home for the night." "Vampires."

"The sun hasn't even set yet," he said with a laugh, framing it as with her, but more likely at her.

"And I won't be sharing you, so you needn't worry," he amended as they neared the car and he unlocked it with a hand to the keyfob in his pocket.

"These are my vampires, meaning their behavior will range from excellent to slightly teasing."

He could imagine Raziyya nosily watching. Likely as a bat.

He laughed and she realized she'd said something dumb, enough to gape in confusion for a second before laughing at herself too.

The reassurance was very reassuring, and so Rika gave out a sigh of relief. "What happens if one of your vampires teases you?" she asked, entering the car and smoothing out her dress before sitting and handling her seatbelt.

"I strike them down where they stand," he said, punctuated by the click of his seatbelt.

That couldn't be much further from the truth, though it reminded him of Spencer, which...

Was not especially lovely.

"What else could I do in the face of insolence?"

He looked to her with a raised eyebrow before starting the car, perhaps a bit deadpan.

Even if he was joking, it was a dumb little thrill. It was hard to feel bad for other vampires, admittedly, when she had clearly met the only nice one.

"Make them feel very, very ridiculous amounts of feelings. I can help too — I'll make them all get rabies or something at the same time."

This was a terrible joke to make, but Rika delighted in it. There was an undeniable feeling of safety here in his presence even with what had nearly happened last time.

That he laughed at again, if it part for the idea of making one of his clutchmates cry for teasing him. He could only imagine what would be said behind his back for something so ridiculous.

"I'm sure a rabid, sobbing vampire is a very reasonable one," he said, narrowing his eyes at the setting sun and pawing for his sunglasses at the center console. Sunsets were charming but absolute hell to drive toward.

"Have you been practicing your powers lately?"

It felt good to be able to make him laugh. She also did at his retort, imagining... Ian as this supposed vampire, for some reason. Did he know Ian? She still felt like she could just never ask.

"I have! A lot. I think I'm even getting better at the whole clairvoyance thing. And I'm working on this new toxic plant. You'll never guess what it's called," Rika teased, leaning towards him slightly, arm against the center console.

Him wearing sunglasses made him look a little bit younger and somewhat more sharp and dangerous. It would be a lie to say she wasn't developing kind of a crush.

She was correct! Beauregard would never guess!

"Basil?" he asked thoughtfully.

He noted that she didn't mention invisibility. Perhaps she hadn't been startled enough this week.

"Nooo," Rika whined. "It's called larkspur. Which is funny because I live in Larkspur. When I found out about it I had a little nerd moment."

Look, that was kind of funny, wasn't it??? Also admitting she had nerd moments.

"You're probably too cool to have nerd moments over things," she pouted with a tease, but really she had already decided he probably nerded out over like... crochet patterns.

Oh! Interesting.

"I didn't even know larkspur was a plant. Why name a city after a toxic plant?"

Beauregard was reminded of yet another piece of unpleasant news: Pandora's group forming there. He paused that thought for a moment a she continued.

"I'm not really sure I've ever had a 'nerd moment.' I did watch the rest of that... Earth documentary. It was very compelling."

She didn't either! Know that Larkspur was a plant. She assumed it was some kind of bird, and shrugged and offered a grin.

"Did you!" she beamed proudly, happy to have introduced him to something he could enjoy. "There's a part two also, that came out a couple years ago, if you happen to want more. And there's also one called Blue Planet, it's about the oceans."

He might recall that she loved the ocean.

"You also have so many shows to watch now. I'm jealous."

He could watch something magical like Parks and Rec!

How could you have a part two? Hadn't they essentially explored the entire planet? And what could be under the ocean that required an additional series? Still, he would try to remember to watch them, if he could navigate the menu in general. He found it rather overwhelming.

"I find it a bit overwhelming," he admitted. "There's so much. It seems like it would be easy to fall into watching television for... entire days?"

That hadn't ever been an issue for Beauregard in prior decades, at the mercy of cable scheduling as he'd always been. But now, when you could choose what came next to such a grand degree?

No wonder so many humans these days were growing fat.

A somber nod. "I can recommend shows to you," she offered. "I think you'd like... Ozark, for instance. Oh! And probably House of Cards. Oh! And Making a Murderer is another documentary and it's really good. Not about the planet but about a — I'll let you see it."

Intrigue! Rika wiggled and then she couldn't help herself.

"And if you want to watch something funny you should check out Parks and Recreation."

That was entirely too much, words coming in one ear and out the other. Rika certainly liked to rattle about entertainment, and Beauregard imagined she would need to physically turn on his television and choose a show for him to ensure any chance of his watching.

"What is it you were doing before? Having a 'nerd moment'? I think you're doing it again," he teased with a smile.

The planetarium was near, so short a drive as it was. Restaurants seemed packed, signs about "MOTHER'S DAY SPECIALS!" plastered here and there. Beauregard, idly, attempted to remember his mother's face and could not.

Oh my god those words from that mouth had her giggling. Rika shook her head, feeling girlish and giddy. And they were going to a Planetarium! Which she had never (wink wink) been to before!

It would be as they found parking that she commented on the building.

"Oh my god it's such a pretty building," Rika mewled out in awe, especially of the impressive dome, but also of the weird... crescent moon-looking bronze sculpture at the entrance? "Ooh, what is that??"

She pointed, but it was rhetorical; her hands were already on the handle of her door as she waited for some kind of cue that it was okay to go dashing out to find out for herself. Like. The car getting turned off or something.

It was a gorgeous building. He was very happy with this choice, with this location. Anything that could inspire such genuine awe was an honor to call home.

"We'll have to investigate," he said simply, stepping out of the car as they parked right at the front. Beauregard rarely parked in front of the building, but it was made easier now given that it was closed. He flung his sunglasses onto the seat before closing the door behind him.

Her enthusiasm was welcome, reinvigorating his own appreciation for the space. If she went scampering, he would not chase her, but he would follow with a faint smile on his face.

Car: parked. Permission: ...granted!

Rika all but burst out of the car (politely!), spun to close the door, and flitted to it as fast as she could in heels without making a damn idiot of herself.

And when she reached it, she gasped. "It's gotta be bigger than two Rikas!" she exclaimed in earnest, as if that was a real unit if measurement, and indeed the structure was tall and wide and certainly more than "two Rikas" in all respects.

And terribly... terribly, she really wanted to sit in one of the crescents. This was an actual life goal. But what if he disapproved???

Weh. Wehhhhh. She had to ask for what she wanted, right? WEH.

"Do you think I could sit on it," she asked in a very tiny, very delicate Rika murmur when he was close to her again, and pointed to where the crescents intersected especially.

Plz, Henry.

Apparently she'd never seen any sort of museum or science center before. Beauregard watched her fondly, confused by her measurement choice to the point of chuckling.

Rika was, at times, decidedly a child. He tried not to think about it quite so much when she was writhing around against him like...

Well, perhaps a teenager. Not too great a leap.

Her request came unexpectedly, and he hummed, rubbing at his chin as he looked from her to the sculpture.

"I suppose it depends," he said. "Are your legs working? Possibly also your arms."

Enabling! Rika brightened and faltered at the same time, proving such a thing was even possible in how her eyes widened and her shoulders sank.

"I— they are! But I'm in a dress and it's so much taller than me!"

Honestly, she probably would have rock-climbed her way up it by now. The spot where she wanted to sit was roughly the height of her head, and.

"Youcouldliftmeup," she mumbled with insistent innocence.

That did indeed sound like a struggle. Perhaps she could sit on a variety of lower areas of the sculpture.

Her request was dealt with handily.

"Mm, 'fraid not," he said. "Wearing the wrong outfit for acrobatics, I'm afraid. Both of us, in fact."

Beauregard awaited pouting.

It would have worked had he lifted her up, she knew, but it was hard to argue with a vampire at his own planetarium, and.

"Guess so," she pouted, predictably. Rika leaned on the railing some, reading the plaques, finding the artist's name.

"This guy's name is Henry too. Did he make it for you?"

Was he chosen because his name was Henry.

Of course the artist was named Henry. He wandered nearer, peering over the railing as she did. Beauregard wasn't sure he'd ever read any of this in detail.

"It was here before I arrived, I'm afraid," he said. "But certainly they had good taste in artist names. Do you know any famous Rika Henriikkas?"

Highly unlikely.

Here, now, she would get to surprise him.

"Sure do!" she grinned, standing properly and withdrawing her phone. "She's standing right next to you and wants to honor you with a selfie. Make a handsome face, please!"

Had he ever taken a selfie before? She'd find out as she made an attempt to plaster herself to his side and held her phone out, camera on selfie mode.

Beauregard had a deeply reactionary response to requests for "selfies." It was good he had speed on his side, as well, because she did indeed surprise him with the request.

With terrible quickness, he turned and reached a hand out to snatch the phone away.

"Don't you know what happens when you take a photo of a vampire?!" he gasped, his free hand pressed dramatically to his chest.


"Ah- hey!" came the classic protest as he stole her phone away, and of course she tried to reach for it but it wasn't like she'd get it. "No? I —"

Did something actually happen?? But! "I don't have a picture of you for your contact info and I thought it would be a good one!"

:(((( This was a real and legitimate sadness of hers; Rika wanted to send away that lifeless "B" initial whenever he texted her and see his nice face instead.

What on Earth did she need a picture of him in her contact information for? Was she at risk for forgetting his face?

He huffed, handing back her phone with some reluctance.

"You could draw a picture. I'm sure it would be even handsomer," he said. Beauregard did not need photos of himself with some young woman floating about.

And yet he could feel some undeniable sincerity in her plea. How troublesome.

"One photo," he said. "Best make it count. And not include my uncouth hand on your waist."

He would reach an arm out for exactly that, though if she held the camera up, it would be clear he wasn't entirely sure where on it to smile at.

Rika absolutely did not expect him to fold to her wanting that, and she was very ready to protest that she was not at all any kind of artist and this was all very unfair —

But! He gave her phone back, and made her an offer, and! And! Took her by the waist, which sent her little dinner-pumping heart going and her face coloring. "O-okay!" she tried to keep up with all the feelings, but there was a delighted smile on her face.

She held her phone out, and honestly did anyone really know where to look on the screen for a selfie. She took a second to angle it as she liked it, since she only had one shot, and Rika very faithfully took a single one of said allowed picture.

There wasn't any flash or anything to blind them because who actually uses flash, really.

He came out very handsome. This was the result because Rika had been focusing on him on her screen for the selfie, so she kind of made sure of it. As far her, she looked very happy.

"Aaaah, thank youuuu," she mewled, holding her phone closer so he could see. "You should take more pictures."

If nothing else, Beauregard had spent a considerable amount of time practicing his smile. Poise was the result of deliberate effort, and he'd had years to put that in.

He truthfully had been expecting flash, and when she pulled the camera away, he was marginally surprised. A quick affair. Beauregard still felt somewhat attached to the idea of more than one photo being wasteful. Film days, he supposed.

Brows furrowing as he looked to the screen, he didn't especially care for what he saw. There was a strangeness to it, even if the quality of the photo was high. Perhaps it was that quality that struck him as uncanny.

"More photos of me would make that one less precious," he reasoned, taking his arm from her waist and looking toward the planetarium. Embarrassing, in retrospect. He hoped no one was watching. The sun had some time to set yet, which left... Edvin or Raziyya to be snooping.

"I am very mindful of my image. Photos feel like a way for it to slip from my control with ease."

Oh... precious? She blinked at it and smiled again, warmed by the fast sentimentality if it apparently not being common practice, and took the extra step of uploading it to the cloud in case anything were to happen to this phone.

"Do you feel more relaxed when you're in control then?"

She felt like it would be stressful to be so on top of herself.

Anyway, she had noticed him looking to the planetarium, and would move to start heading there, turning back only if he didn't immediately follow.

What a strange question. He supposed there were those who would be quite happy to have others managing their lives for them.

"Yes," he said simply to start, following her toward the planetarium and reaching for his wallet and keycard. "There are times, in leisure for example, where allowing someone else to manage the situation can be lovely. But those are infrequent exceptions to a general rule."

Beauregard supposed feeding was, to some extent, a loss of control. Though it was more a loss of... poise. In the end, he remained the stronger one, the one making the decision to continue, to stop, to rescue.

"What about you?" he asked as he unlocked the door with a tap of his wallet to the reader. Within, the lights were still on, music playing.

She guessed that made sense, but it also felt like it was losing the conversation a bit; she'd really just meant control over his appearance.

"Oh, I... guess I'm mostly in control of my life. That's fine. I meant more like, controlling how others see you. That bothers me less, but..."

She mulled over the very clear differences between them.

"I'm not like a... Dominus or anything. So I get that it's different."

They walked in, and her gaze immediately went up in awe.

That hadn't been what she'd said, of course. Choosing words more carefully would do her wonders. But he was willing to answer both general inquiries.

"I wasn't born a dominus," he corrected lightly. Beauregard breathed a faint laugh. "I have been mindful of my image since I was a very young man. But I imagine upbringing and... time period have much to do with that."

As they entered the lobby, he found a soothing in the space. His domain as much as his apartment was, without the lingering sense of discomfort of bringing someone too deeply into his private world.

"Where to first?"

Sure, that worked. Rika could accept that her values in the twenty first century were somewhat different.

She blinked at the lit up fixtures hanging from the ceiling, entranced by the bluish colors. What a place!

"Oh... we could just go through it in order?" she asked, looking back at him and feeling very much like royalty for getting it all closed down for her.

The first was a darkly lit area called "Mission Moon," where they talked of the Moon landings, and Rika was all sorts of entranced by it.

"I wonder if they'll make space travel for normal people possible while I'm still alive," she pondered, blinking past the glass that encased the Gemini 12.

The Planetarium was closed for normal people, but not for special undead people with key cards. Which was great because Safiya was 100% sure she had left her wallet downstairs. She’d driven here with her fingers crossed that she didn’t get pulled over, and was hurrying to get past the front door. The lock sluggishly clunked undone, and Safiya pushed against the door a bit louder than probably necessary.

Whoops. It echoed through the halls, which were dimly lit but not in a way that wasn’t usual. She could sense Beau here, which also was normal. But along with his sense, she spied the smell of something... sweet. Psychic blood. Oh, hohohoooooo.

”HelloooOooo?” Safiya singsonged, and started off down the hall that the smells and sensations seemed to be coming from.

In order, yes, if she wanted to be very boring.

Beauregard would follow, more than familiar with each and every exhibit here. Moon landings first, an affair that always left Beauregard rather suspicious as to why no one had ever gone back.

"Would you go, if it-"

He heard the sound of the front door, and not long after, someone rudely yelling into the hall. Beauregard felt himself rankling, glancing back with furrowed brows.

"That would be Safiya," he grumbled quietly. "The vampire you met in that club. Apparently she left her manners somewhere."

He'd hardly expected company so soon after dark, and this soured him. Beauregard would not call back because you didn't yell in a damn planetarium.

Turning to face her inevitable approach, he would place himself just slightly in front of Rika, something vaguely protective if mostly for the sake of wanting to protect the mood.

Beau, she would absolutely go. This she meant to say after he'd finished his statement, but both would pause to the sound of a voice calling out. It was feminine, and one that sounded awfully cheery for janitorial staff, if there were any staff still here. (Though, he'd said only vampires might be here, which begged a split second of a question — were any of his vampires janitors?)

She glanced to him in some quieted, wide-eyed freeze as he turned, unsure if she should say anything? Or maybe just let him handle it. And then he did, and he even said who it was, and Rika took a significant inhale and pipped out a small "Oh. Maybe she's looking for them?"

Some bit of, uh... uncertain humor as he angled himself in front of her and she felt really nice and safe as she looked past his arm.

No direct answer back, but her special vampire ears could pick up the sound of chatter. She heard her name and what sounded like the word ‘manners’. It helped her to pinpoint their location, and after a few, moments she was coming around the corner to the doorway of the exhibit. Beauregard stood there with Rika behind him, looking like a dog guarding his bone. A small smile spread across her cheeks as she looked them over.

”Evening!” Safiya greeted cheerily. Her eyes danced from Beau to Rika then back again to the Dominus. “Sorry to interrupt a VIP tour.” Special tours, gifts of nice jewelry... there had to be more than Beau was getting in exchange. Or maybe trying for it. And honestly? If Rika was holding out, she was an inspiration to all, getting all of this in exchange for doing something she already enjoyed. Having The Strongest Vampire shower her in gifts in hopes of more.

Damn. What a life.

He huffed a small laugh for Rika's comment. Beauregard doubted she would find them.

Safiya was chipper, an improvement from when he'd last seen her with ice thrust into her organs. (The memory was something he did his best not to glance back into.)

"I have my doubts on the sincerity of that apology considering the detour you took to come this way," he said with one brow raising, trying to be playful but struggling a bit.

There was no introduction to be had given their messy prior meeting.

Seeing the girl again was enough for Rika to purse her lips to the side, and she remembered suddenly her fake name that she'd been given at the club.

Beau called her out on her cheery apology, which Rika appreciated because hey she still hadn't really forgiven her, and also she was glad she wasn't wearing any of the jewelry from that first set of gifts that he'd apparently enlisted her help in choosing. Not that Rika didn't like them, it was just the principle of it all.

"Would VIP stand for Very Important Psychic?" she decided to quip, glancing up at him. And also she looked back at Safiya and gave a little squint and a sort of triumphant smirk. "Also — there's no sharing happening here, so I hope you're not hungry."

Maybe she wasn't ballsy enough to really try to give Safiya rabies but she could deny any hungry vampire drooling from her and imagine it instead. Mild retaliation.

Safiya was not stupid. She hadn’t forgotten how her first meeting with the girl went, and she knew that indirectly getting her jewelry wouldn’t erase that. Beau countered her apology, and he was right about that, but how could she resist being nosy? Rika’s general attitude was... actually sort of prissy.

Enough for Safiya to settle her gaze directly on the girl, looking past a visibly grimacing Beauregard. A smile grew across her lips as she spoke with a sugared voice, “I don’t think I could afford to treat you right anyway.” She said with a shrug. There were other things she could have said, but there was a Dominus standing between her and Rika right now, so. Which, she was sure, was the source of this general cockiness. Better than than about to die in the middle of a club, she guessed.

Beauregard typically did like Rika.

But in this moment, she felt like an embarrassing dog yapping and pissing on someone's shoe, and here he was holding the leash. There was an ugliness to her he did not care for, and his expression wrinkled immediately. Scolding her now would put on a show in front of Safiya. Letting it go displayed a variety of favoritism he did not care for.

Decidedly unhappy with it, he sighed.

"My, I knew the two of you were around the same age, but I hardly expected such an immediate, budding friendship," he offered flatly. "I imagine if I left to go write some emails, I'd return to you braiding each other's hair."

Now hang on. Rika was just making a quip that Safiya would have no luck with her again, but the response she got was pretty nasty. What the fuck did that mean. Was she calling her some kind of gold digger or— what the fuck?

Beauregard's scolding cut in before she could respond, and she was effectively hushed, feeling a burn of embarrassment for it on top of the indignation at what she'd said.

"Sorry," she went with instead, glancing to some exhibit off to the side. Really she was more sorry for needing to be scolded than for her words.

Beau was thankfully really good at diffusing. It was hard to tell here who was wrapped around who's finger. Maybe they were both just tangled up enough that it didn't matter. But it quieted the girl down, and let Safiya realize that being shitty to Beau's blood girlfriend was probably not the greatest idea. "I'm a better braider than I am at taking care of someone that needs it." Safiya said with a small pout to her lips as she moved to try and not have Beau so much right in between her and Rika. "I knew helping with the jewelry wouldn't be as good as a straight up apology." So, sorry.

My, look how effective that was. Perhaps Beauregard should have been a high school teacher for his ability to put an end to catfights.

Rika wilted with surprising quickness given her earlier obnoxiously bold word choice. Safiya neared an apology, though... she didn't entirely commit.

He looked to the other vampire expectantly, then waved a hand in a small circle, seeking to draw the words from her.

"I'm sorry." "I apologize." Etcetera.

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