[cross posted to bq_karl and blood_paris ]
Paris had not expected there to be a waiting line when he arrived at the Bistro restaurant. He had chosen this place to eat since it was near his home in the Garden District. His driver, Lornette, had asked if he wished to go somewhere else, but Paris had refused stating he wanted to go to this restaurant based on the rave reviews.
Lornette dropped him off at the entrance and Paris promised to call her back later to get picked up. With a small sigh, he walked through the front doors and politely made his way past the crowd waiting in the lobby. He spoke to the hostess who flirted with him and with a bit of charm was able to secure a table sooner than the hour long wait. She quoted him fifteen minutes and he thanked her with a coquettish grin as he made his way back toward the waiting area. There were no seats available, so he leaned against one of the walls, and checked the time on his Vacheron Constantin watch.
When Paris looked back up he sensed a were had entered the restaurant, handsome one too. Paris pretended not to notice and instead feigned interest in the painting that hung across from where he was standing.
Giving his name, Karl was moved through the crowd and escorted to his table, eyes meeting hostile glares with a bit of the were showing in his own. Coming to a stop near the podium so he could be checked ‘in’ he sensed a vampire, very very close. Scanning the gathering, his hazel gaze came to rest on a tall, lanky body leaning negligently against the wall. The few he’d met hadn’t exuded this kind of power... this kind of age.
Paris glanced over to where the were stood by the podium. Seemed he had been smart and had made reservations. Hmm, pretty with brains. New Orleans and its flock of tourists would take some getting used to, he had not been in the mood for anything too upscale and now this was the result. Paris knew better than to go to a popular restaurant next time without making a reservation. He sighed all ready bored from waiting and it had only been a few minutes since he got here, but it was then he noticed that the were was now looking at him. Paris was not sure if this was good or bad, so he smiled back in greeting.
Karl’s utter fascination with vampires was growing every day, and here before him stood one who smiled... not a flash of fangs, or a show of superiority, but a real smile. He’d also been known to be rash, and today was no different. “Ahh. I see my guest has arrived.” Nodding to the vampire, he figured at least since they were in public, he’d be reasonably safe.
Paris looked around at the people around him, uncertain if the lovely werewolf meant him. Surprised, he pointed to himself and mouthed, “Who me?” Weres didn’t usually hit on him, so perhaps there was some mistake. Okay, Paris get your head out of the clouds, he probably doesn’t mean you. That’s just wishful thinking on your part. Looking a bit embarrassed he awaited a response from the wolf.
Head to the side, Karl brushed his hair back into place - he needed a haircut badly - and smirked, “Are you going to stand there or join me?”
Shocked that the were was actually referring to him, Paris’ mouth opened, then closed. He recovered quickly, his face lighting up like someone getting a surprise visit from an old friend. He headed over by the werewolf, stopping only a moment to cancel his name on the list. Maintaining his charming smile, he introduced himself before sitting down. “I’m Paris.” he replied in soft silky accent that was also exotic in nature. He offered his hand in greeting. “I have to admit, I am a little speechless, but nonetheless honored, that you asked me to accompany you. How can I ever thank you from saving me from the dreadful ‘waiting time’?” he showed off his dimples when he grinned.
“I’m an impatient man when it comes to certain things - food is one of them.” Accepting the handshake, he blinked and looked into dark eyes, “You... feel warm.”
Paris smiled softly, “Yes, it’s one of my gifts, I am able to assimilate life. However, I also suffer the drawbacks from it. For instance, I can feel the humidity, it must be at least one hundred degrees outside, if it weren’t for the air conditioning, I am certain I would melt.” he chuckled.
Before Paris could say much more, a waiter came by to drop off their menus. After reciting the specials, he left them alone to look over the menu. Paris peeked over at Karl, “Sorry, I didn’t catch your name?”
“Oh, sorry - forgot to throw it. Karl Urban... lately from Australia.” Grinning, he didn’t bother looking at the menu, but went right for the desert listing. “You’re obviously not from around here I take it?”
“Originally no,” Paris chuckled. “I’ve lived in the states for a while, mostly Chicago, but I have been around a bit.” Thinking back on his words, he paused, laughing softly. “I should rephrase that, it sounds naughty.”
A quick lift of eyes, wink and back to the sweets, Karl grinned, “But I’ve heard naughty can be nice. Sorry - rude of me to read while conversing, but I love my deserts.”
“Not at all, deserts are the temptation we can indulge in without the guilt of regret. I do love a good hot fudge sundae with lots and lots of whipped cream.” The vampire licked his lips subconsciously. He glanced at the menu, smiled and placed it face down in front of him. “I know what I want. Have you decided on what sweet will tantalize you this evening?”
“I don’ t know why I bother; they have the most amazing German Chocolate Cake.” Shrugging, Karl finally looked at the menu with the main meals. “Think... ahhhh, something chicken tonight.” Lifting his eyes from the page, he looked at the vampire, “So, what are you having?”
“I’m going to have the garlic shrimp in angel hair pasta with sun dried tomatoes, a Long Island ice tea, and for desert...” Paris’ eyes twinkled. “A slice of lemon meringue pie. I would order the hot fudge sundae but I’m in the mood for something different this evening.” his smile turned impish.
Opening his mouth, Karl decided upon asking a different question than the one that had originally been on his tongue, “You looked kind of shocked that I asked you to dine with me..”
“Yes, I was. Not every day a were wishes to associate with one of my kind, let alone ask them to dinner...I’ve been asked to accompany them to their beds on occasion, but never to dinner. That’s a first for me.”
Crossing his arms, the muscles of his biceps stretching the material of his shirt, Karl leaned closer, “I have a secret - I’ve never met a vampire until I came to New Orleans. I’m fascinated.”
Watching as Karl’s shirt tightened around him, caught the vampire’s attention. Tiny flecks of gold momentarily sparkled in his dark eyes. Paris fought back the urge to reach out and touch Karl’s arm. “We’re simple creatures really. What exactly is it that you are curious about?”
Shrugging, Karl grinned, the look transforming his face into boyish glee, “Everything... anything really. It’s all new to me. I’ve met a few cranky ones, and a really young one - but he could be cranky too.”
“I can be cranky, but for the most part I’m driven by my lust, which does get me into all sorts of trouble.” Paris smiled as he took a sip from his drink his eyes scanning the were’s form, looking upon Karl approvingly. “I guess you could say I have a hard time keeping my knees crossed.” he winked.
“Oh, I can keep mine crossed, of course, I’m also usually upon them at the time.” Snorting at his own bit of ribald humor, Karl watched the people around them for a moment. “You’re not like some blood-lust crazed vampire are you... I meant - those are some of the things I was told while a cub... that and some other things that I think maybe were a parents way of controlling me.”
Paris laughed at the were’s bawdy remark. “No, my lust is purely sexual, not blood driven. Most of us have a very high sex drive after the change. I’ve discovered that the older I get, the more I crave it. Sex does help take the edge off.” He winked then continued. “The only time I have experienced blood-lust is when I was a fledgling, which was many, many years ago. Usually young ones have a difficult time controlling the blood-lust, that’s where a good sire comes into play, to guide you through that time. Another time where our blood-lust may manifest is if we have not feed and are near starvation. So, if you are a recently made vampire and you haven’t been taught how to feed, that could be a real concern.” Paris folded his arms on the table. “I have a few questions for you. I heard were’s are long lived, what is the average life span? Is it true that were’s mate for life? You mentioned your parents tried to control you...were you a wild one, Karl?” the vampire asked with a crooked grin.
“Wickedly wild.. never where I was supposed to be, always in trouble, didn’t listen, talked back - questioned everything. The pack elders usually shook their head as they walked away after giving me some sort of punishment.” Grinning unrepentant, he snorted. “As for our life span... I’ve heard of some living to 200, but not much beyond. And yes, we do mate for life, but that is an involvement of the heart and soul, not the body or lust.” Sitting back as the bowl of flavoured oil and breads were placed on the table, the were sniffed, “Mmm, garlic... oh bother, will it harm you?” Catching the strange look from the server, he amended his question. “Are you allergic?”
“Looks like our parents had a difficult time with us both. I was very much the same in my youth.” Paris answered with a twinkle in his eye, “Nay, I love garlic. I ordered garlic shrimp in angel hair pasta.” watching as the waiter left, the vampire added, dipping a piece of bread into the oil and slowly swirling it around. “That’s just a wives tale, I believe. Let’s see what other myths I can dispel. I can cross running water or else how would I have traveled to this country from my own? I don’t rest during the day in a coffin, I sleep on a plush king sized bed, but I have used sarcophagi or crypts in the past. I hate slumbering in a crypt, disgusting...” Paris shuddered. “So unclean, I cannot bear the thought of my naked skin against that cold stone that penetrates straight through the cotton sheets. Crypts carry a horrible stench and the rats don’t let you sleep.”
“A stake through the heart, well, that would hurt anyone I would imagine. Though honestly, I’ve discovered that the stake does kill some of us and only incapacitates others. Crosses and holy symbols, hmm, that one is tricksy. It effects some of us but not all. Can sunlight kill us? Most of us yes, but some have built a resistance to it and venture out during the day.” He popped a piece of bread into his mouth, chewed with poise then swallowed, taking a sip of his Long Island ice tea the vampire continued. “Can we shape shift? I have heard that some of us can do this, but I do not possess this talent. I would love to turn into a black wolf and roam the countryside. Let’s see, what other mythos is out there? Ah, mirrors. I can see my reflection just fine, but I have an aversion to mirrors, it makes me feel uncomfortable to stare at it for long. Not because my image is distorted or looking like a portrait of Dorian Gray, the main reason is because I can see spirits. They show themselves in mirrors all the time, it’s disconcerting. But that gift or curse, however you wish to view it, I’ve had since I was a small boy.” Paris contemplated his drink a moment, a small smile curved the edge of his lips as if he were guarding some mischievous secret. “And as for love, we are not that different. It matters not who we share our bodies with, it’s what resides within our hearts and souls that willingly binds us to our beloved.”
Karl blinked, unable to take in all the flowing words, but nodded at some of what was said, “It’s tales like these told by those who are afraid that start the troubles in this world, or any other.” Fiddling with his fork, the were added a bit of his own, “We do have problems with Silver... something in the metallurgy and composition.”
Paris smiled at Karl warmly, “Well, I have a serious problem with sunlight...I am one of those ancients that would go up like a lighted match....whoosh.” Paris shared one of his most deadly weaknesses with Karl because he felt he owed it to the pretty were since Karl shared one of his with him. “I promise never to have anything silver in your presence if you promise not to shove me out into the sunlight.” he winked. “Does white gold bother you? If so, I can remove some of my rings...”
“No - no, that’s fine. It’s more when silver touches us... like in those old Lon Chaney movies... silver bullets - things like that.” Grinning at the offer, he nodded toward them, “You’ve quite a lot there... do any have significance to you?”
“Indeed they do,” he twirled his thumb ring on his left hand, “This was given to me by my brother Hector when I first was brought back to the palace and learned my lineage. It never fit on my ring finger, so I always wore it on my thumb.” he pointed to his index finger, “This one was given to me by a Prince of Persia, I was his lover for a long time.” he moved on to his middle finger, “This one I bought in Renaissance Italy during a festival.” he skipped his ring finger since there was no ring on that one and proceeded to his pinky. “This was given to me by a Bishop whose son I saved from death in return helped me escape from the hands of the Inquisition. My brother managed to get out, but I was captured. The Bishop convinced Hector not to return to Spain for it was too dangerous and vowed that he would get me out alive. The Church had branded me a demon and I was to be tied to a stake at dawn and burned alive, I was really frightened.” he lowered his eyes as the memory surfaced.
“When I was dragged out of my holding cell and led out to the courtyard, dawn had not yet come. As they tied me up to the pyre, I looked frantically around for any sign of Hector...like that scene in Braveheart where William Wallace’s wife is about to be killed and she’s hoping he’ll show up and save her, but he doesn’t? I thought for sure I was going to die, but then the Bishop came with his guards and he saved me. The Bishop and his son escorted me to a ship where Hector awaited most impatiently.” Paris stopped because the waiter returned with their salads and quickly left.
Eyes wide, Karl focused on the rings, not so much their value, for that was held within the vampire's attachment to them, but more for long history revealed. “Wow... guess I never really thought about it, but you - vamps I mean - do see a lot of what we’d call the past...”
“Sometimes I think I’ve seen too much of the world and I tire of it all.” Paris answered with a hint of melancholy.
“But there’s always tomorrow isn’t there... or - at least I’ve heard this... you can sleep for long periods?” Picking at the salad, Karl stared at the man across from him, “Have you ever done that? Then woken to find something new and exciting?”
“I have slumbered and when I awake I find the world so changed that it’s alien to me...it’s overwhelming, really.” Paris confessed. “I can’t seem to catch up. I’ve not yet learned how to drive, though I have an appointment set up with a friend...and computers!” Paris made a face. “A friend of mine is supposed to give me some lessons, but I doubt I will ever understand the damn things, I hate them. They’re so impersonal.”
“Balance.” Shrugging as if it was of minimal importance, Karl dropped the tomato, “Equal time with each thing - computers on one side, personal interaction on the other. Make time for both.”
“It’s not that simple, my friend.” Paris scrunched his nose, “I’m lucky if I know how to answer my phone, it’s all so very foreign to me.” the vampire shook his head ruefully. “When you are as old as me, it’s not about learning, it’s about adapting to the changing world around us. Not an easy task, but one I must force myself to undertake if I am to continue surviving. A vampire who does not blend in to his environment, inadvertently calls attention to himself and that could be dangerous.” Paris gave Karl a friendly smile, “It’s sink or swim...”
Munching on a cucumber, Karl nodded, “Then learn a new stroke... challenge yourself.” For Karl it was that simple, if something didn’t fit into your life - you either changed yourself or changed it. “We all have to learn to adapt - I can’t go running down the road in my fur - I’d get shot, so I learn to control, to adapt and fit in and find when I can be the me inside. Computers are just another environment - it’s like visiting another country - soon enough you learn the customs.”
Paris giggled, “I do love your refreshing perspective on things. I suppose I tend to over think things.” he took a couple of mouthfuls of salad before continuing, daintily wiping his mouth with the cloth napkin. “I’m not sure what refrains me from adapting so easily, perhaps its my age, living over three thousand years takes its toll on the mind and mine sometimes has difficulty accepting the new technology that blooms around me. I’ve lived many centuries, witnessed the rise and fall of nations, but even after a while this existence becomes a bit...cumbersome.” Paris voice saddened.
“To continuously endure the passing of friends and lovers who have long since faded from their descendants thoughts; only their pictures remain, locked away in dusty attics, their names forgotten. That is something that I have difficulty with, I admit. Then there’s the whole changing identities which can weigh you down after a while. To change my name, move, start all over...century after century I repeat this process...only to have it all disappear in the blink of an eye...it’s overwhelming. Perhaps that is the reason I no longer care to blend in. One can only endure so much pain and sorrow in one lifetime, let alone several. Like another famous vampire once said, eternity sounds wonderful until you realize you have to spend it alone.” Paris shrugged, then sighed. “Ah, well, didn’t mean to bring the conversation to such a morbid tone. I apologize.”
“Why change your name? Just move... new place, new people - they’ll never now.” Deciding he’d had enough of the green stuff, Karl pushed it aside but did fish out the black olives - he loved those. “After a few decades you can go back - people have died or moved themselves.”
“Unfortunately in the era of computers and technology, one can no longer just move. There are paper trials that can link back to us if we are not careful. In order to survive we must produce fake documents like death and birth certificates. It’s a real pain. If I never have to move again, it would be too soon. Moving and everything that it entails is a hell unto itself, my friend. I swear to you, if there is an Underworld for the damned, that’s where I will be. Trapped; boxing and packing for all eternity.” Paris chuckled. “Still, even if I did move, the friends we make, the lovers we have...we watch from the shadows as they age and fade.”
Paris paused because the waiter had arrived with their main course; he set down a chicken plate in front Karl and the garlic shrimp in angel hair pasta by Paris.
Asking if they needed anything else, “I’ll have another Long Island Ice Tea,” Paris said.
“I’m good, thanks.” Already chewing on a piece of the moist bird, Karl gave the server a wink.
With that, the waiter left and Paris continued his talk with Karl. “Anyways, I try not to get too attached to mortals, but it doesn’t always work out that way. I’ve made two friends here in New Orleans that are humans and I adore them both.” he finished with a sigh. “But I’m going to take the good and treasure the memories, it’s all I can do.”
“Death is part of life, a child dies, a parent does... we learn, remember, love.” He wasn’t being callous, just realistic. Too many time’s he’d seen pack members shot by farmers trying to protect their animals, most had been doing nothing but out for a run. “We are human’s in some form, we learn to adjust. Is that it though? The adjusting?” He was really interested now, eyes bright and focused on the figure across the table from him.
“I like how you phrased it...we learn, remember, love.” Paris smiled warmly. “Beautifully put.” coiling the shrimp and pasta around his spoon, Paris contemplated his answer. “Yes, the adjusting time and time again can be a bit wearing. But with each new ‘life’, are new experiences and new loves.” Paris gave the were a flirty smile.
- Karl Urban and Paris ~ Garden District Bistro