Lavender Heights 
Beauregard was not in the best mood as he returned home. He busied himself with removing his jacket and tie and shoes, and going to Annabel's cage primarily just to admire her. She hadn't been out much since he'd received these lovely marks on his arm. There was, decidedly, an uncleanliness associated with even the neatest rodents that left him feeling as though touching her was incompatible with proper wound healing.

Beyond that effort, he paced the house, double checking that the space where he'd thrown the lovely bottle of tequila some time prior looked as was appropriate. (The apartment's facilities team had been sluggish in fixing the drywall, a focus of anxiety for Beauregard for some time.)

He had replaced the liquor, though he couldn't remember if it had been opened prior and whether its newly sealed status would be cause for questioning.

It was as he peered between two buttons in his sleeve at the stitches beneath that he heard her drawing near, snapping his attention to the door and reminding himself to be pleasant. It did not feel especially like his birthday, but that was fine, he supposed.

He'd had some number of them.

Beauregard would open the door promptly when she knocked, smiling as handsomely as he could.

As he opened the door, Rika noted he was absent something very specific and huffed. "You got too comfortable!" she accused playfully, clearly in a better mood than she had left him.

Also, she'd eaten on the way, though her breath would mostly smell of the gum she'd chewed on after. :3 Which meant she was very much ready to drink. But first, she walked in with her bag, setting it...

Uh. On the couch.

How rude! He huffed, affronted, but not sincerely upset. His right arm moved to check the positioning of his buttons, then abandoned the movement promptly because it was painful.

"Should I put my shoes back on?" he asked, shaking his head at her as he opened the door for her and closed it as she made her way in.

There was a gift, on the couch no less! He looked to it, then to Rika, one eyebrow raising.

She watched his eyes and where they went.

"It's not your shoes," she answered back, abandoning the bag purposely to waltz to his kitchen and find her way to the liquor, but she'd keep an eye on if he so much as poked it.

"But maybe I can make it work."

She reached for wine specifically and didn't even notice the tequila being brand new, because she'd remembered he'd used to like it and today was about him.

Beauregard would not touch the gift. Such indignity, being seen as too curious! Instead he followed to the kitchen, leaning on the island at the opposite side to keep the distance conversational. (It was his intention to initially lean both elbows on the counter but realized swiftly this was a poor choice.)

"I appreciate your willingness to work with my slovenly appearance," he said, knowing she'd said nothing of that nature but happy to tease her with it regardless.

And now, he supposed, it was best to confess.

"I do have something I must tell you, and I must do it today because I assume the power of my birthday means you cannot be angry with me."

He smirked to keep it light, and truly, there wasn't much for her to worry about.

Huff. It was nice to get back here after earlier, considering how much she'd wanted to run away from the entire thing.

But he had something to say, and so Rika glanced to him as she opened the wine. Something to be mad about. Maybe ...

No! No. She wouldn't guess. "Only if it goes both ways and you can't get mad at me for anything on my birthday," she squinted, but still. Go ahead, Beauregard.

"As long as you don't give me anything to be mad about on your birthday, I see no problems with that arrangement," he said, flashing a toothier smile, knowing it was unfair.

"I was, naturally, involved in that mess at the night club. I am just fine, as you can see, but-" he lifted his right arm, wiggling his fingers demonstratively "-this arm was... chewed on, a tad. As a result, if you come across any need to abruptly grab me by the arm, it would be my preference that you choose the left."

He awaited scolding and further questions, but it was much to say at once.

That was unfair. But she was left without a chance to protest as he started up, and she set the bottle slowly down.

He had been at the club. And worse, he'd.

Rika was some form of angry to hear that. All of that. It wasn't... indignant fury, so much as it was a sort of betrayed hurt? She glanced at his arm, and then his face, and searched for words.

"I... was. Really, really worried."

For hours she'd been worried as fuck, only to be all but brushed off at the very end of the night and left to assume all was just fucking fine.

Now came the game of getting back into her favor. There was something fun in that, he would admit. Beauregard continued somewhat solemnly.

"I did not neglect your message on purpose, for what it's worth." he said. "It was an ugly incident, and... if I'm being honest, there is the threat of police involvement, though no one who wasn't some variety of monster was injured. But it is not something wise to communicate about digitally."

Or, regrettably, killed. He could not remember the blonde woman's name, but the more he replayed the scenario, the more certain he was that he'd met her before.

"You would only have worried more in the meantime, had I been truthful in the moment."

He went on and on and it actually, amazingly, made it all much worse. He dared to decide for her that she would have been more angry but she was the one who had been up, wondering, waiting, watching, assuming, second guessing everything, and he was going to sit there and pile on the severity of it all just to back up the fact that he'd lied? Again? About something that had genuinely...

"You could've— you could have just told me. Called and said so. Or anything, I— I was up the entire night," she stammered, her voice rising in pitch and somehow going fainter for it.

But it wasn't fair.



They, including Rika, had a sense of entitlement that could exhaust him even on a good day. This was not an especially good one, despite it supposedly being his birthday. (Tremendous, how she made this about her!) He had not summoned her here to be insulted, and complained at, and accused. Her blood was wonderful, but there were other psychics in the world, if she kept it up.

"I should have called you at quarter to six in the morning to tell you something had bitten my arm? By then, I suppose, you would have been up the whole night already. So perhaps I should have vigilantly checked my phone earlier in the night, neglecting a wounded vampire in my care, along with my own injuries, in favor of calling you sooner?"

Truly, the issue of "staying up all night" was entirely her own. Even if he'd been entirely honest with her, calling her immediately after the incident would have been fucking absurd.

"No— I just— why even lie?" And in the way he did, to act like it had been nothing at all and he was removed from it, only to know he'd have to tell her the truth after all?

Was it because she was so very insignificant? A blip in his eternity that he owed nothing to, not even the courtesy of honesty?

She looked down at the bottle and finished opening it, angry, hurt, and deciding she was better off just getting drunk and getting him high and fucking leaving after because that was really all she was supposed to be here for anyway.

"It felt kinder," he said simply, and he watched her open the bottle like an angry child.

Increasingly, he was tempted to simply make her vanish from his life. It would be easy to look her in the eye and convince her to happily decide never to interact with him or any other vampire again. It was not Beauregard's job to be shepherd of his dinner's feelings.

"I was exhausted, and I'd had a terrible night, and if I'd waited to call you later I would have had you pounding on my apartment door. And, as I said before, it still would not have prevented you from staying up all night. You would simply then have been worried for every day to come afterwards until you saw I was absolutely just fine."

It continued. It was condescending, really.

"Fine," she answered, deciding that he was addicted to deciding how she would react. "You're right, I would have been up until morning. I actually wouldn't have come to bother you if you didn't want me to, I know how to respect space, which is why I didn't harass you with calls and texts like I wanted to. Maybe I would have been worried every day, but I would have been okay with that. But, fine."

She tipped the bottle to her lips, deciding it was better to drink straight from it than dirtying one of his glasses. It was tempting to a hurtful degree to take herself and everything home after he had what he wanted.

Her eyes went pink, and she went into the alcohol she was drinking and sought to multiply its effect and get to the point of this.

She would not play that game in his presence.

The negation would be instant, the moment he saw the pink in her guilty little eyes.

"Enough. Put that down. I don't draw any enjoyment from your drinking miserably and I have a sense you don't either."

Perhaps he would suggest her into forgetting this entire incident, but he wasn't feeling enthused enough to create a new replacement for the memory. He had time, of course, to decide how he wanted to handle it.

That was unfair, too, and it was unfair that for all her fire Rika obeyed. Barely a sip and she set it down, keeping her eyes on her hand on the neck of the bottle.

On one hand she wanted to cry, and hug him, and see how he'd hurt himself and ask all manner of questions about it. But she also wanted to yell, and have him understand and respect how much she cared, and understand that she didn't need to be fucking lied to just to not be a nuisance in his important eternal vampire life.

It was so very quick for that feeling that she was a nuisance to someone to get under her skin.

She lingered on the edge of protest and apology, unsure which way served her better.

Beauregard felt quite comfortably that he owed nothing here. She put the bottle down, ever obedient for all that she wanted to pretend she had some fiery streak.

He looked her over, knowing he could adjust her emotions, her memory, her demeanor. But there was power in watching someone grow angry with him, then using nothing but his own charm to pull them back.

"What now?" he asked quietly, deeply curious as to what it would trigger in her.

What now.

It mostly made her want to cry. She didn't even think she could blame him for it, other than that he'd sparked the hurt in the first place.

"I just. Really wanted today to go well."

It would have helped to know he was hurt. They could have even postponed until he got better; she would have gladly eaten the cost of the tickets just to be sure he would be comfortable and not... injured.

Maybe she should leave now.

"We should just do all this when you're healed up. I don't want to— hurt your arm by accident or anything. Neither of us are very sober after and I don't want... I'm sorry."

There wouldn't be a feeding during the fireworks on her birthday, but it was probably better that she didn't force him to celebrate her birthday anyway. She was just some temporary dinner date at the most, and she reminded herself of that in the empty echo of her prior anger.

The gall of her, honestly.

Beauregard did not like that either. If she wanted this to go well, she certainly knew how to do that, and she knew this was not the way to it. Rika could pretend to be vulnerable, to be sorry, but it was a cry for attention and reassurance.

"Good that I lied to have at least seen a show with you, then. I imagine I'll be healed in a few weeks, though I don't imagine there will be many fireworks to watch."

A small, polite smile, and he waited for her to break in some way.

The most unpleasant part of all of this was that Raziyya risked seeing it if the girl left in tears. No psychic bitch could ever behave in front of company.

A few weeks, and no, no fireworks. No birthday on her behalf at all. She nodded, remembering how she wanted to ask him about his promise regarding Niamh and her landlord on her birthday as a gift. Best she didn't, after all. Better to wait for it to happen on its own in September.

She glanced to her bag and blinked a few times as she abandoned the bottle and went to it. She could at least give him his gift, which he'd probably... do whatever with. Throw it away without looking, at worst. She prepared herself for this. Wouldn't ask, or wonder.

"Um. Here, I got this for you," she fished into her bag carefully, not wanting to accidentally pull out the other stupid things she'd brought.

She pulled out a giftwrapped rectangular box, set it on his coffee table, slightly regretting that there was no way to remove the note she'd written without unwrapping it all here.

Readjusting her things in her bag, she took a deep breath, wishing she was wearing something more comfortable to exit this whole mess in.

"Let me know when your arm feels better. I'm really... really sorry you got hurt."

He pictured, very vividly, how easy it would be to pounce on her with all the same ferocity that Ophelia had been subject to a few days prior. He pictured this as she took out the gift, looking away from him, and set it on the table without even attempting to bring it to him.

Beauregard watched her with incredible keenness.

She talked about his arm, apologized for his getting hurt as if it had been her nails carving into him. He gave it all a few seconds, deciding between ego and his personal desires and where they overlapped.

"Why don't you take that with you," he began. "And then come back with it tomorrow. Start fresh for your birthday, and I can take some of the attention to open my gift as well."

Spoken with more care than cheer, decisions being made as he chose each word.

Rika wasn't sure she wanted to do that. She could go shopping for a new gift. Get a less... But, no, she couldn't, he'd already seen it. The size, the shape, the wrapping. Trying to pretend it was anything else seemed stupid.

And her coming back for her birthday tomorrow seemed as equal a risk as it was just staying here tonight. What did he expect her to do when he drained too much of her and she could only curl up? What would he do when he inevitably slumped onto his injured arm and hurt himself?

Would he turn into that thing and maul her?

She found herself frozen in her thoughts, at least until she caught her stupid state and blinked back. Why did it feel like she was trapped, suddenly, when she'd been so prepared to leave a moment ago?

Perhaps infuriatingly to his directions, she moved to sit on the couch. She could not make herself come back tomorrow if today ended so poorly, despite his insistence. How fucking rude it would be.

"Can you bring me the wine," she asked with a quieted sense of emotional dizziness. Leaving suddenly seemed impossible, but if he was going to insist on taking risks anyway instead of giving himself time to heal, then maybe she had a chance of... fixing it, again. "Please?"

How absolutely maddening. He took a deep breath, trying to soothe himself, but decidedly rankled.

"Rika," he said gently, though his patience was the thing he was treating with particular care. "Tomorrow, darling. Whatever this is you're feeling, I imagine it's better to give it a bit of time. It's likely safer we don't attempt this two days in a row, regardless."

She would not be frowning and guzzling wine in front of him until it was his job to make her feel special again by slurping down her blood and talking and talking and talking in the aftermath.

Now he was going to insist. The feeling of cement around her feet increased, and she brought her hands together as she looked at them.

"I'm feeling," she started, with an inhale and exhale to steady herself. "That if I leave today, on your birthday, with things like this. That there's no way I'm coming back tomorrow just so you can spoil me on my birthday."

And he would. Because that was his M.O.

"And I would feel a lot better if, after all this mess. I could just drink a lot, and you could drink a lot too. And we could both feel a lot better. Or. Maybe you feel better already. But I don't."

"Rika," he said quietly, but with focus, and it was entirely an effort to hope for eye contact.

The likelihood that it would fail (getting her attention, or the suggestion itself) felt agonizingly high.

She really just wanted to keep looking at her hands. But it was rude not to look at him, and after a linger at his chest, she looked up at his face instead, expecting he would say something that wouldn't help at all.

Thank goodness. Now for the potential to truly drive himself mad.

"You know you will feel far better going home now to return tomorrow," he said, and thank the heavens, he was successful. There was a rush of relief for it, not having this miserable woman moping drunkenly on his couch, slurring out requests that he keep drinking, keep drinking, Beauregard!

"I have had many, many birthdays. I have never shared a birthday with a Henriikka. Let me walk you to your car, perhaps after you say a brief hello to Annabel. It has been a while."

It was incredible how much his mood could soar now that he felt he would be free.


It took root immediately, and his words became truth. She would go home, feel better, and come back tomorrow. Saying hello to Annabel felt like a better note to leave on, and she nodded, rising and feeling a little lighter for it.

"I'd like that," she answered, grateful for his kindness.

A glance to the gift and while she wasn't really in the mood for the tone of the card, she was less interested in shying from it as she was before. She reached to grab it, so she wouldn't forget it.

To Annabel, she would follow.

Thank goodness. How wonderful it felt to have fixed that.

Approaching the cage, Annabel would wake from within, rising from bedding looking a bit... frumpy.

"I thought about putting a hat on her for general birthday celebrations, but she may take off one of my arms entirely."

Annabel would come to be bars to sniff, a bit starved for attention after days of not being carried around and cooed at.

"That would have been cute — the hat, not your arm," he made her huff, a sound that tried to be a laugh but wasn't really ready yet. Here in his room, it was tempting to just...

She glanced to him and then presented him with the present. "Can I hold her?" she asked. "You should open while I do."

What if she forgot it tomorrow? Please. She wanted this off her hands now that it couldn't have led to the leadup she'd planned for. But maybe he'd find it funny, at least.


It was difficult to pass on letting her hold Annabel. Perhaps it would assist both of them in feeling less needy.

And as she continued, he supposed it would not hurt to have a single gift on his actual birthday.

Nodding, he took the package, gesturing slightly at the cage.

"Let her sniff your hand for a bit. Hold her to your chest when you pick her up. It will encourage her to stay still."

A pause, then:

"And thank you."

He smiled, holding the box and having a very good guess based on the size and weight what was inside. Beauregard moved nearer the bed to offer Rika some space with Annabel, though he resisted taking a seat.

It did not take long to open, and when he did, his smirk was undeniable as he spotted the note.

"My girl," he said fondly, glancing up to see her rodent progress.

"Okay," Rika agreed quietly. Let her sniff. And then see if she wanted to crawl into her hand. He moved aside, and to say she wasn't intricately listening to the sounds of him opening the box would be a lie.

Still, she lay her hand down, palm up against the level Annabel stood on so the chinchilla could sniff at her. This Annabel did readily, as if Rika held treats of any kind or something. But then it was a matter of seeing if she would crawl into her palm, and she... did.

Rika could have cried, but instead she only drew the round rodent close to her with a gentle adoration, holding her with an almost reverent sense of protectiveness. And there was some of that fondness coming her way too, as he opened the box and saw what was inside. He didn't laugh at it or tease her or anything like that. Just.

She glanced at him while she held his pet to her chest, smiling shyly to his words. "Your girl," she agreed quietly, feeling a strange mix of both vulnerable and forgiven. "I think she finally likes me too."

Annabel, it seemed, was doing everything Beauregard could hope of her. She was a charmer, too, and he liked to imagine she'd sensed the tension and responded accordingly.

It was a nice moment, made nicer with the knowledge that Rika would be out of his home soon.

"She has good taste," he said, looking back to the ties to lift one from the box, then the other, both held to dangle over his hand.

"These are lovely," he said, running his thumb over them to get some sense of quality. "And practical. Practicality is very important in a gift when you are old and bought all the impractical things you wanted already."

He smiled to that, placing them with care back into the box as he looked to Annabel's sweet, vacant face.

He liked them more than she thought he would, which was a kindness because of it weren't for the allusion to misbehavior Rika would have found them to be a very boring gift. But he praised the usefulness of them, and she guessed that ties were a kindness to someone who almost always liked to dress well but sometimes ended up in violent altercations.

"I'm glad you like them," she murmured, looking from him to Annabel, stroking at the round of her thigh with a gentle thumb. "This was going to be the part where I practiced, and."

She shook her head, offering a slightly blushing smile as she moved to place Annabel back before the rodent could fidget in her grasp. Rika set her down, closing the crate with care.

She did not normally enjoy leaving, but she knew when she went home she would feel much better, for all things seemed to have mellowed here.

And that would not be happening today. Beauregard was comfortable in that.

"We have plenty of days for that ahead," he said, and he did feel an aching in his gums. Slightly hungry another night for the sake of his sanity.

He would set the box lightly on the bed and prepare to walk her out.

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