Saturday, May 8, 2010

Chapter 70: Mariel Begs the Question

Weds December 2, 2074 1:23 pm-- 1023 Maple Crest Rd.; Yitzenburg, Alpinloch


“Good afternoon, nurse. Is it time for my sponge bath already?” Alexei's joke was delivered without the barest hint of a smile. When Mariel thought on it, she realized that she had never seen him smile or at least not in any pleasant way. Not once.


Mariel crossed the room and paused at his bedside while he followed her with his eyes. A bit of raisin bread and a cup of tea perched lovingly on his nightstand, no longer hot enough to give off steam. Alexei’s elder sister coddled him like a child, playing along with his caprices to the point where Mariel had to wonder which of them was truly the eccentric one. Perhaps both. But if Emilia was eccentric for the administration of thermometers, warm washcloths and breakfast in bed, then Mariel could not have been much better. She was there, after all.


“You seem to be convalescing well,” she said flatly. Alexei stretched out his arms and yawned. He scratched his midsection, his bleary eyes staring at nothing in particular.

“Nonsense. I need the sort of care that only my nurse can give me or else I may not make it.” Mariel crossed her arms over her chest. She knew what she would find when she arrived at the Garrison household but somehow she still clung to the hope that Alexei would not be so reckless as to call her home phone unless it was an emergency.


“You can go straight to hell, Alec. My father was inches away from answering when you called. You’re lucky Hannah was there.”

"No, 'lucky' would have been if Hannah had come along with you." Alexei smirked mischievously but Mariel failed to see the humor in the situation. She could not feel her expression change or her cheeks grow warm but Alexei's face softened in the wake of her disapproval. "I'm not afraid of your father, sweetheart. Nor your big bad wolf of a mother." Mariel sniffed.

"You'll get yourself killed someday," she said. Alexei looked off to the side, seeming to consider.


"Once a fellow has over-stayed his welcome, that threat starts to sound more like an invitation. Anyway I really am sick, you know. Ate something that didn't agree with me." Mariel tossed her purse by the door and walked over to the bed. Alexei followed her with his eyes, more wax doll than centenarian man. This was what had initially crumbled her defenses, what she found to be so difficult to resist about him. Most vampires that Mariel knew, her parents included, were rotting from the inside out. Mariel could see it in their eyes, almost smell it seeping through their skin. They were dying. And Alexei, he was dying too but it was a different sort of death. It was a death that never lost its luster. A death that resembled sleep.

For his part, Mariel did not have to wonder what Alexei saw in her. They had spent time together in public before and though his glances rarely lingered, she had noticed a trend in what attracted him physically. Young. Dark-haired. Short. Somewhat androgynous. But more than that, Mariel had the distinct impression that he embraced the danger of seeing one of Thea's daughters. Alexei patted the bed beside him. "Come have a seat, Miss Masters."


Mariel wrapped her legs around him, straddling his waist. The pale copper of his irises shone through the green contact lenses, making him look perhaps even more other-worldly. Mariel snaked her hand up his torso until she reached the base of his neck, pursing her lips in thought.

"I can't come to see you again. This won't bode well for your brother when they find him." Alexei tensed at the mention of Antoine. The Dissenters were seeking him out, albeit lazily. Antoine still had friends amongst their number that did not want to see him caught.

"Any sign of him?" Alexei's voice was thick and coarse in a way that Mariel had never heard from him before. Mariel studied him briefly. His smattering of freckles. His parted lips. The thin creases at the corners of his eyes.

"No," she said. Alexei leaned forward and kissed the bridge of her nose, pressing her glasses to her face. "He is a traitor but for your sake, I hope he stays missing. In any case, the damage is done."

"Don't believe it. Antoine is still a threat and I feel comfortable in telling you so. You won't find him. Or if you do find him, turn the other way-- He wants to be found." Mariel pushed herself to her feet. With anyone else, this conversation would have been politics. Mariel might have said that the Sheut would be dead within the year so who gives a flying fuck about Antoine Garrison?

It was a mistake to get involved with this man. It was a bigger mistake for her to think of him as a friend. They weren't friends and not just because he was playing for the opposition. There were things about him that made her skin crawl. Certain offhanded remarks and peculiar behaviors. Mariel had reason to believe that he was a hunter and a violent, unscrupulous one at that. Alexei rose from the bed, joining her.


Her anger instructed her to move away as he drew in close. It told her to brush his hand from her hip. Perhaps even to leave. But Mariel remained stiff as a rail, pretending that his proximity had no effect. Alexei's lips brushed her cheek, coming to rest near her ear.

"What's bothering you, kitten?" He was so close now that she could feel his pulse against her chest.

"I could have stayed home if I wanted to have a conversation about the Sheut." Alexei twined her hair around his fingers. She was so stupid, no matter how many times she tried to convince herself that she knew just what she was doing.

"Listen to me carefully—and I am only telling you this because I like you—Antoine did you all a favor. If Kvornan thought for an instant that you knew the identity of the Ib before he was ready to make that information public, you would be dead right now. Some of you worse than dead. You'd have never gotten close enough to the Ib to 'protect' her or whatever you call yourselves doing." Maybe it was his mention of the Sheut by name or maybe it was the futility of his argument but the spell was broken. Mariel pushed him away as forcefully as she could.


"Better to die a martyr than to have done nothing at all! Better to serve something larger than yourself—"

"And so Antoine has done, in his way."

"All that Antoine has done is to stall and waste time that we simply don’t have."

"No. Antoine has saved you from your own foolishness. The Ib is sacrosanct. I’d have misled you too." Mariel shifted her weight to one leg and leaned in towards him as he fell inexplicably sullen.


"What do you hope to accomplish by defending him right now? What am I supposed to say to you? ‘Antoine was right. We were wrong. I’m going running home this very minute to tell my mommy to call the whole thing off.’ Fuck you, Alec. For all we know, the Sheut is siring the Ib as we speak."

"He wouldn’t."

There is was. The loyalty. The conviction. What was she supposed to say to that? Alexei was so certain that he knew the devil as a man. And he trusted him. Mariel shook her head, narrowing her gaze.

"I don’t understand you. Why would you knowingly invite that monster into your life? And stay with him for so long?" Alexei flinched at the question. The instant that Mariel said it, she realized that she had wanted to ask for months but that she hadn't the gall. Alexei looked up at the ceiling and for a moment, Mariel thought that he would not respond.


"When I was a kid, I had this toy car that ran on kinetic energy. If you rolled it across a flat surface in reverse and let it go, it would take off just like lightning. It was a popular toy at the time—the S150. Darong Toyworks manufactured it. Everyone had one. But mine was defective. When you let it go, instead of just moving, it shot an impressive array of white and blue sparks. It was incredible to see.

My mother took it away. She was afraid that I would burn myself. I was distraught. I ended up rescuing it from the garbage. Buried it under a tree in the park. For years, I would dig it up, race it down the street and bury it again. I couldn’t give up something that remarkable just on the off chance that it might harm me. So I took a risk." Mariel was not expecting that level of honesty and knowing Alexei, she was wary.

"Did you ever get burned?" she asked. Alexei wiped his nose with the back of his sleeve.


"Was it worth it?"

"Always. But when I think about it, it isn’t really that apt of a metaphor. Any injuries that I got from the car healed a long time ago but Kvornan…" He shook his head slowly.

"Was he worth it?" Alexei exhaled deeply, as though he were laboring over something. He leaned back against the nightstand, causing the china to rattle.

"Always," he said.


  1. Is it just me, or does Alexei's type sound very much like Kvornan? :P

    In any case, it was nice to get a bit more info on the whole deal with the dissenters. Interesting bit about Antoine--can't wait until that guy makes an appearance :)

    And the vampires are rotting from the inside out? O_o

    Just read your update on BBL. Here's hoping the reinstall works :S

  2. Oh, Mariel has her suspicions for sure.

    Yay! I am excited about Antoine too. I really hope to get that far. *gulp* Stages 1 and 2 of fixing my Pleasantview failed. Going in for the full game reinstall today.

    Hehehe. Not physically rotting. Mentally, psychologically, spiritually rotting.Mariel thinks of them like week-old left-overs in tupperware. The tupperware isn't going anywhere and it is slowing the decay of the food inside but the food is still decaying. Now imagine that the food becomes caustic as it decays to the point where you can look at the tupperware and realize, "I don't know what's in there but it's so off that it's eating through the plastic."

  3. what a metaphor! I'm never going to think about tupperware the same way again!

    I wasn't sure where Mariel was going at first. And I'm not sure of her reaction after Alexei recounted his story about the car (one more thing to add to his weirdness list). I started to feel sympathetic myself.

    An incredibly complicated and fascinating situation!

  4. *hehehehe*

    Yes, that really was Alexei opening up. He left out the fact that that car was the only thing that his father ever gave him and also that this was the beginning of his hoarding tendencies. He was expecting Mariel to basically roll her eyes and say, "Whatever, dude." It made sense to him to leave out the more sensational elements of the story.

    Thank you, Beth!

  5. Oh geezus I love him.

    Okay, so Antoine is apparently a bad ass, is this correct? Every little hint and tidbit I get about this man sends me spinning. I can feel an obsession growing. Fever pitching, actually.

    How long have Alexie poo and Marial known each other? Annnnnnnnnd is it just me or does she seem to tone down his crazy just a smidge? Not that he's making any effort to NOT be crazy around her, but he's... directed? Focused in some way? I do love it. Them. And the fact that he booty called her. Heeheheeee

    And oh geezus Alexei past. HE WAS BURYING SHIT FROM THE BEGINNING, and I just looked up and see your comment to Beth about how that was the beginning of his hoarding and OH MY GOODNESS about the model and the crushed cup in his pocket we have to immediately learn Danish.

    What was I saying?

    Oh yes. This was awesome. And when will we be seeing/hearing about/drooling over Antoine next?

  6. And Mariel is playing the rebellion card by being with this dude too, she can't put all the crazy on Alec... granted his FACE is IRRESISTABLE, but that's not the point. She's a bad girl too!

  7. VeejeeReejee:

    You know, I never really thought of Antoine as a bad ass although he did pretty much give Thea and Ahriman the ol' one-fingered salute. It might be worth mentioning that the Dissenters know what Kvornan knew-- That the Ib would be born to a descendant of Jon Smith-Tricou. But the fact is that most of his descendants are unaccounted for, the Mindelsohn children included. Antoine had them thinking that Phoenix's son Conrad was the Ib and that he had this intel from Kvornan. Then he dropped off the face of the planet right before the baby was born a boy. The current Ib is male and according to the Ib-Cycle, the next one had to be female. So the Dissenters are back at square one, meanwhile they suspect that the Ib has been born and that Kvornan disappears the way that he does because he knows where to find said Ib. I am getting so ahead of myself here.

    I am glad that you're enjoying Antoine in his absence for you shall witness him in his presence when you least expect it! *cue dramatic music*

    But of course, now that I have said that, you'll be expecting him all the time.

    Mariel and Alexeipoo have not known one another very long, maybe five months or so. And they've been dating the entire time (sounds bizarre that Alexei should be "dating" but you figure that they are essentially doing just that). They met by chance. Alexei, ever the smooth flirt, intentionally crashed his shopping cart into hers at the grocery store. Neither of them knew who the other was and by the time they put two and two together, they'd already had a quickie in the adjoining department store's fitting room. ROMANCE!

    Heh, is he less crazy? He certainly wasn't in one of his spastic moods here. Nor was he in one of his, "I will eat your children while you watch" moods. The latter moods are few and far between. The former don't happen so much anymore because of his depression. Plus, he might have been watching himself just because, like you said, he was trying to get laid.


    Ha! And you're right. Mariel does what she wants. Hm. I wonder if there's more to her rebellion than just banging Alexei (OF ALL PEOPLE!). She is the baby of the family. Probably has Daddy Kiernan wrapped around her fingers. Hmmmmm...

  8. *Psst* Pen! You might want to tweak your blogroll a little. I finished This House Is Vegas a few days ago.

    Feel free to delete this comment :)

  9. Eep!!!!


  10. Okay, I'm new here and this is the first chapter I've read so I really don't have a clue what is going on or has gone on up to this point, but I was so intrigued by the dynamic between these two that I decided to chuck my obsessive need to read everything in order and dove right in. Even without knowing what is going on I can cut through the sexual tension with a knife. There seems to be a lusting divide, a love of hating the other yet wanting them on some level. What seperates them binds them in this mutual game of mental angry sex. The virtual "morning after" regrets must be a killer. Or I could be dead wrong, I don't know, but whatever it is I like it. These two are very complex characters, ones that I could find myself loving or hating which is always a good thing. Wonderfully written.

  11. Hiya Muzegoddess! Welcome to the story. :)

    Heh, this is kind of a difficult starting point. There are a lot of intersecting plots and this one in particular requires a bit of background information.

    Mariel has some conflicting feelings. She is very attracted to Alec but the two of them are (for very serious ideological reasons) enemies. Mariel is a member of a small paramilitary group with a somewhat secret list of members whose entire agenda is to kill the Sheut (a man who is considered to be a deity-- the living embodiment of Death). The group calls themselves The Dissenters and they are driven by a varied set of philosophies... It's complicated. But to understand the thrust of the chapter, it is important to know that Alexei is not a Dissenter. On the contrary, he was at one point very close to the Sheut. Then Alexei and the Sheut had a falling out involving cannibalism-- I'll spare you the details. But basically, Mariel and Alexei are playing for different teams. Other than that, Mariel can't put her finger on it but she knows that something isn't quite right with Alexei. Out here in Readerland, we all know what isn't right with Alexei-- Dude is crazy.

    Alexei is not confused in his feelings. He thinks that Mariel is attractive, yes, but that isn't why he's with her. He is using her. What he is using her for remains to be seen.

    Thanks!! I'm glad that you enjoyed the chapter.

  12. I was about to comment on this, but then realized that I had commented already... like 40 times.

    *sigh* Alexie Pooface

    And now I'm having a war with blogspot because apparently "WEEEE" and "poo" are not good enough to be my website urls. shall suffice.


    I can translate your new page for your grandfather.