Belial laughs and it is as much a touch as it is sound; soft like velvet and smooth like warm honey. ?You want our resume?, Detective? Or a short list of community services? I am not sure what reassurance I can offer you, save this?? Belial grants him a mysterious smile, those green eyes dance with impish delight. ?I will allow you free access once we?ve accomplished this DCH thing? If you find something abhorrent, then we can address it, right then and there, on the spot. In fact? I think I can sweeten our deal, Alain? Give you membership, complete unrestricted access? Will that suffice? Or have you another suggestion??
Belial is more than happy to infer that this is to appease him, but in reality his acceptance had already been granted weeks ago? No need for Alain to know that however, since it works in her favor to use it as leverage now.
"Power is tempting right now... and to be a part of the Bloods, even merely allied to one of your Houses, would be a windfall... but I need you to swear something to me - something good and pure." He opens his hand slowly. "Swear to me - swear to whatever powers you observe higher than yourself - that you will protect my sister Shannon D'Mourir when I am not capable. That you will allow none to harm or exploit her. She is the key to nothing, she has no power beyond her own cunning... but the people who will grow to hate me will doubtless try to use her against me, or hurt or kill her out of revenge."
?Protection for your sister?? Belial chuckles warmly, nodding her head. ?Of course, Alain? that?s what our primary goal is in the Bloods, to protect those we love. Yes, we?ll place her under House protection. However, if she makes an aggressive move against some of our *seeming* allies? I fear they may use her just as foully as your enemies would. Don?t you?? She gestures with her free hand as she sips from her coffee, inviting him to contemplate what she?s saying. ?I seek only honesty between us, hence?? an elegant half-shrug, ?I mention this. We place her under our banner; she becomes no less of a target than she was as your sister alone. You need to understand this? But we would have offered you this nevertheless. So yes, your sister will be protected. This I swear to you on my very essence.?
"Then I'll pay heed to my guardian angel and return to trusting you," he answers, "and ask that you forgive my little... departure." He doesn't explain the part about the guardian angel - the shadowy figure with black wings Sid had sighted in her 'dream-quest' into the young detective's mind...
He takes another bite of his pie and raises his eyebrows. "...You know, your little remark about 'community services' gives me an idea."
?Does it?? Belial too overlooks the ?guardian angel? comment, although she is very well aware of what Sid ?saw?. ?What do you have in mind, eh?? She sips from her coffee, waiting to hear what he has to say.
"Regardless of an organization's structure, mission, intent, performance, any of those things... if it does the right things for the community, the community will stand up for it. Charity. Sending volunteers to take care of neglected civil services in the West End. Fundraisers." He smiles. "Jewell Ravenlock had the right idea with her charity ball... and it's no one's fault but her own for failing to capitalize on it, really cash in on it."
Belial smiles and nods in agreement. ?Yes? I was thinking of beginning the Citizens? Council, a way to allow us to gather funds and the manpower needed to protect the city? and not have it appear to be in the control of the few and elite. And yes, the charity event was a smashing idea. I had hopes of seeing more of them, yet? alas, charity is spoken of often, yet rarely offered in our township. So, have you any specific ideas, any specific things we should be focusing on?? Bel asks curiously. ?You mention the WestEnd? Luc has his men patrolling the Northwest side of Rhy?Din, the area where Onyx House and the DeAuster?s control property. I am sure we can extend our ?services? to the WestEnd? But what about that guild you mentioned to me? The Black Wolves? Shouldn?t we find a way to ?decommission? them??
"That is a separate project I am deeply involved in," Alain replies. "I already have an army ready to fight that war when the time comes." He takes another bite of the pie. "I'm sure the Bloods do their part towards maintaining stability... and I hate to be cold, but in this particular strategy, whether or not you're truly doing your part in each action is irrelevant. What matters the most is appearances - Blood guards joining the Watch on calls, Blood informants tipping them off. Bloods renovating old buildings for one purpose or another, selling them off so the whole community can be invested and not just one elite group. And when it comes to blows, or it comes to an election when the Bloods back one candidate... the West End will back the Bloods."
Belial cants her head as she listens to Alain. She isn?t sure about the politics? The Bloods have been very quiet on that front with good reason; whispers of scandal, of corruption and the Family have always abounded. Therefore steps have been taken to pull them out of that limelight intentionally. Corwyn likes to stay in the background, preferring to play puppet master rather than take the lead as front man. Yet, the points Alain makes are sound; helping the community wouldn?t hurt and could paint a more hospitable portrait of the Family. A slow nod accompanied the thoughtful expression.
?Alright? I?m game. I shall setup an internal committee, find out from the populace what is needed most and oversee the doing?? Bel chuckles softly as she shakes her head. ?As for your army? If you need funding, you have but only to request it, Alain? But we won?t do this just for appearances, no. Let?s make real change, yes??
Belial doesn?t like doing anything half-assed, not matter what it may ?look-like? to anyone.
"I have the funding already arranged, but it could not hurt to draw up an alternative plan so the Family can arrange the finances. As far as real change goes..." He itches his chin.
"If the West End is capable of being changed by the concerted actions of any group of people, then all the better. If the West End has a will of its own stronger than ours, at least people will see that we tried."
Belial chuckles softly; she?s heard this before from Sid?s mouth. The poor cursed WestEnd, but unfortunately even that has its uses? Staying hidden and off her brethren?s radar has been a virtual blessing. Her life has never been so peaceful, at least not since her ?awakening?.
?I say we attempt real change? and see where it gets us, eh?? Belial drops Alain a playful wink, setting her cup aside. A muted sigh falls and she leans forward. ?I really should get back to the House? Things are touchy right now and much needs to be done to keep the uneasy peace. I can arrange to setup a fund for you; where would you like it? Local bank, Stars End bank, I can do it either way. So? shall we set up a new meeting date, or wait??
He chuckles softly at her wink, and says to her, "Star's End bank. Star's End has been off the radar for all our heavy hitters. If you want to hold meetings without me, I say go ahead - but if not, wait until things blow over."
?Stars End it is then? Under your name, I presume? Or have you some? Hmm? Alias you?d rather I use?? Belial slides to the edge of the booth, preparing to leave. She wishes things were different and that she could spend leisure time with Alain, but alas? until the DCH issue is completed, it would be unwise. ?I meant should we schedule another meeting between us, Detective? But until we are done with DCH, I will have no choice but to head things up? without you.? There is a hint of teasing to her tone, a playful quality. ?Shall we schedule our next meeting now? or find a way to later??
"The account is under the name Jackal," he smiles, moving to stand while she stands - because it's polite, and also he likes the body language better that way. He winks at the teasing remark, and replies, "We'll arrange it at another time. I'm sure I can figure out a creative way to get in touch." Now that he's close enough, she may suddenly catch the scent of... cinnamon, of all things. Perhaps the perfume of another woman?
Belial finds herself wanting to reach out and touch Alain. The scent of another woman, the familiar smell of cinnamon, (an aspect of her own personal scent), registers, but she doesn?t ask. It isn?t any of her business. Belial and Welv had only recently reconciled a few months past and she?s doing her best to behave after a few major sidetracks. Besides, Alain is business? best to leave things as they are, no matter how tempting it might be to consider otherwise.
Instead of stepping in closer towards him as she was inclined, she stepped back, putting distance between them. A small, seemingly fragile hand lifts as if warding off her attraction to him. In contradiction to the gesture, she smiles warmly.
?Yes, you are rather brilliant at that, Detective? Keep me updated, yes? And here?? Bel holds out the hand she?d waved him back with, it had been empty only a second ago, he is absolutely sure. The small pin is dropped into his hand. ?If you need to, use it. It?s a Members pin. Tap it three times in rapid succession, and it will teleport you to Onyx House. Keep it hidden, Alain? keep it safe and don?t hesitate to use it should you have desperate need.?
Bel turns to make her way towards the exit, pausing to look back at him over her shoulder. ?Careful Alain? I can sense it coming, can?t you? Something is going to happen? and it?s going to be big??
"I've always recognized the calm before the storm," he answers her, inspecting the pin and then looking at her as she walks away. "All you can do is prepare yourself... then enjoy the silence while it lasts."
[size=10]((Authors' Note: This happens before DCH - Trash