Fool Me Once


amato_icon.gif lucrezia_icon.gif

Scene Title Fool Me Once
Synopsis Strange what desire will make foolish people do. (Occurs concurrently with the events of Fool Me Twice.)
Date January 8, 2009

The Ritz-Carlton Central Park Hotel - The Royal Suite

While the hours of the evening come no swifter in winter than they do in the summer, the moon is far more anxious to dethrone the sun; she hastily spreads her black mantle over the sky even before six bells can chime. Lucrezia and Amato - Freyja and Tyr - had been left to their own instructed devices and found themselves confronted, one with the other, burdened by an awkward moment of silence and a look shared between them that revealed for the first time some mutual and shared weakness - doubt.

But, now was not the time to address it. Not yet. There were more pressing matters at hand - the Widow had been tasked with tapping into the hive mind and spreading all of her tangible senses into an orchestra of crickets kept in cages amongst the rafters of an establishment their mutual Master had a mind to visit. Watch. Listen. Warn. Their enemies were known to them - or so they had thought…

Lucrezia preferred to do her deed while making herself most comfortable; supine atop 700-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets, limbs slightly spread, robe open, shoes off. She kept her head turned to the side, favoring her meticulous minder with a vacant stare while she uttered her observations like a sibyl strung out in the aftermath of prophecy. "«There's a man come to have a sword repaired. It must be old. Impressive,»" she'd say, as if she were only catching glimpses of the goings-on; shadows reflected in a mirror. And then she utters, "«Dantes. He says his name is Dantes. I wonder how long he's been free the Chateau d'If…»"

It isn't a common name, no. "«He's Felix Ivanov,»" Amato says in faith, not knowing exactly why he assumes that this Dantes is the same one that turned out to be the FBI Agent with a personal vendetta against Amato. The Italian sits on the bed, not being allowed to sit elsewhere, but his posture is rigid. The glass he so eagerly drank from earlier is firmly grasped in one hand, refilled once again, and his eyes are securely affixed to the wall, his back to the woman on the bed. They may all have their parts to play, but that doesn't mean Amato has to throw himself into bed with the once-starlet-of-ill-repute passionately.

If Lucrezia can hear Amato's words right now, they don't seem to register right away; her expression remains blank and slightly slack, morbidly devoid of any real emotion at all. She's nothing but a conduit right now. "«I'm sorry, Mister Claremont,»" she echoes in a murmured and vacant voice. "«Run. Call the police.»" Uh oh. That can't be good. Perhaps in anticipation of a demanded explanation, the Sicilian seductress says softly, "«He's found him. They're going to try steel…»"

If Lucrezia were any other woman, dressed in any other (more modest) manner, and currently occupying any other (non bed-like) furnishing, Amato might be able to find some comfort by looking at her face. As it is, the only comfort he has is in his glass of water, which he polishes off rather quickly. Steel against steel, Kazimir vs. Felix? "«He's too fast,»" he murmurs to himself, unaware of any skill the Russian may have. Besides, Kazimir's body is aging. "«Too fast.»"

Several silent moments pass… a minute without a word… then two… three…

Lucrezia suddenly sucks in a hard and gasping breath as if someone had just pitched her bodily into a frozen lake. All of the color drains from her face. Pale skin erupts into gooseflesh. Blind eyes go wide. Her spine bends into a Roman arch. Something has gone horribly wrong.

It could be the refreshing liquid, or alternatively the urgency that Lucrezia conveys with such an audible gasp, but something gives Amato the courage to turn. Once he does, the immediate course of action is sealed. Concern washes over his face, and leans over the woman to try and ascertain what exactly has gone wrong. "Lucrezia, nigra anga, «what has happened?»" There is no need to ask if Kazimir is alright - the sheer idea of any physical harm coming to the man who is not quite a man in such regards is simply inconceivable to Amato.

Despite her decades of experience at manipulating the tiny brains and bodies of all God’s creepy-crawly creatures, Lucrezia has never experienced the sudden simultaneous death of a swarm that she just so happened to be inhabiting at the time. It is an overwhelmingly terrifying sensation and it leaves her temporarily deprived of her extended senses for at least a minute or two until her mind can reckon the difference between here and there. Panicked and partially paralyzed, she shudders violently in an attempt to bring a tingle to her toes and fingers and remember herself in her own body. Her limbs flail and she latches onto Amato’s shirt sleeves with a startling strength as she catches her breath enough to shriek, “«He’s dead! God help us, he’s dead!»” It’s then that her eyes regain their focus again and she’s able to actually see the face of the man she’s clutching; chest heaving, breath ragged, utterly horrified. This may very well be only the second time that the would-be priest has ever seen this woman so scared. So much for inconceivable confidence.

The proclamation that his master, his mentor of sorts - the only flesh and blood father figure that Amato has ever known that was able to live up to his incredible standard - is dead, shakes Amato. But the tremors that threaten to destroy him aren't physical like Lucrezia's, and are only visible in the widening of his eyes and nostrils, and the beads of perspiration that form on his forehead. His throat tightens, threatening to cut off air as well as speech for a moment, but Amato fights back in an attempt to keep some semblance of resolve. Thankfully thinking to grab up a portion of the luxurious sheets to act as a barrier, Amato presses a palm to the woman's fearful face. "«What did you see?»" he asks when he finds his voice, but it is a raw whisper. "«What did you see?»"

“«He -– he… opened him up at the throat. And then…»” The recollection is so fresh, her senses are still beguiled, and her heart still thuds against her chest like a great kettle drum. Lucrezia’s voice has dwindled down into something just shy of a whisper. “«…everything went black.»” She’s been given a glimpse of what it feels like when that pins and needles sensation she used to secretly enjoy is brought to bear in anger – to have the very life sucked out of your body in one long, agonizing breath. What an awful way to die.

It's likely that had Lucrezia relayed this to any other member of the Vanguard, the reaction she would have received would have been one of hurried action, either to investigate further or run for the hills. Amato's reaction is unlike either of these options. He simply stares at her for a moment before a small smile curls onto his lips. "«Have faith, dear lady. Have faith. Tell me - do you remember what happened to the Egyptians right before God sent His Angel of Death for every unguarded firstborn?»"

At last, Lucrezia’s body loses some of its terrified rigor and she relaxes, loosening her desperate grip on Amato’s arms without actually letting go. There is a small comfort to be found in feeling the warmth of his skin beneath the material of his shirt and it assuages some of the impossible chill that refuses to relinquish its hold on her senses. “«Darkness,»” she murmurs thoughtfully, raven-haired head finding purchase in the pillow it had previously been rested upon.

Amato's smile widens a bit with pride at the correct answer, and he moves his shielded hand away from the woman's face before readjusting his position on the bed to a more moral one. He still sits on the edge, but he is at least still turned toward her more relaxed form. "«We have nothing to fear, Lucrezia. Our Master existed for many, many years before ever finding either of us. One particularly speedy adversary will not get the best of him.»"

It’s somehow both simultaneously disappointing and heartening that Amato considers this turn of events to be a good thing. Lucrezia isn’t much in the mood to muddle through and overanalyze her own confused emotions, however. Nor is she apt to lay there and look helpless now that she’s regained all feeling in her fingers and toes. Instead, she draws herself up into sitting and scoots closer to the sacerdote, hooking a hand into the bend of his knee in an attempt to both keep him from fleeing and maintain some sort of tactile connection. “«Stay,»” she says, just in case he might have been entertaining thoughts of escape that he hadn’t yet found the strength to voice. “«I want you to stay… close to me.»”

Amato blinks, his smile disappearing from his face by the time the top row of his eyelashes have met with the bottom. It takes him a moment to respond, and he turns his head in order to regain some of the distance that Lucrezia has swallowed by her movement and contact with his leg. Understandably, it's a contact that makes him wish he had another glass of water. "«You had an arguably traumatic experience, after which you are feeling vulnerable…but I assure you that you are in a very expensive and thereby safe hotel. No one consequential but myself and the Master know you are here.»"

No. She’s not letting go. Yes. She’s upping the ante. The hand rested on his knee is soon replaced by a thigh as she rather pointedly brings herself hip to hip with the man while still carefully keeping them both shielded from any incidental skin to skin contact. While there may be the hint of something premeditated in her motives, she isn’t quite yet on the edge of being outright solicitous; this is just highly inappropriate intimacy between… whatever it is that Lucrezia and Amato are to one another. Not friends. Not cohorts. Not comrades. There are no words for being so close and yet so far. “«How can you be sure?»” she wonders with genuine apprehension behind her bedroom eyes.

With Lucrezia so close, Amato's only option of getting further from her would be to stand, but even that doesn't seem to be a potentially successful option. Instead, Amato gulps and tightens the muscles in his jaw and neck to communicate his awkwardness. "«You should trust me, Lucrezia,»" he says in as deadpan a whisper as he can manage. "«Would you be so kind as to get me another glass of water?»"

For a moment, the only thing that Lucrezia feels particularly compelled to do is remain precisely where she is in order to further the awkward tension mounted (literally) between them out of spite. However, she does eventually move; sliding slowly into his lap with carefully engineered precision in order to inflict maximum friction with minimum contact while keeping Amato ever in her predator’s gaze. She then follows through with one stockinged foot finding ground… and then the other, slinking out of the bedroom in pursuit of the man’s requested refreshment.

And that is how Amato found out how long he could hold his breath.

Once Lucrezia is safely out of the bedroom, he rises and relaxes the muscles in his throat and chest, sucking in life-giving air with the relish of the deprived. He rolls his shoulders back and adjusts his tie, then smoothes the front of his jacket. Of course, the logical thing to do would be to get out of this particular and foreboding room, but that may result in her asking all sorts of awkward questions regarding his comfort level. Steeling himself, Amato takes the risk and steps out of the bedroom a few minutes after his hostess, and deposits himself stiffly upon the couch.

The logical thing to do would be to get out of this particular and foreboding suite and head for the coldest climbs possible in an attempt to escape the Spider Queen’s clutches before it’s too late! But, since Amato doesn’t appear to have the sense enough to do that, Lucrezia allows him the courtesy of a few moments peace spent in relative solitude while she takes her time preparing a recipe of water plus ice. When enough time has passed, Lucrezia emerges from the kitchen and doesn’t appear too particularly surprised to find Amato occupying space outside of her boudoir. She wordlessly extends the beverage to him, expression downcast but detached.

Amato, however, looks up at Lucrezia with interest before he reaches to take the glass with the practiced skill of not touching her own fingertips in the process. "«Forgive my request,»" he says with a slightly pinched frown. "«I didn't mean to upset you. It is only…that I have certain limits - limits you are well aware of, dear lady, in addition to a moral code.»"

Instead of retreating back into the bedroom to sulk in silence, Lucrezia lingers in the living room at an uncomfortably close proximity. She lurks just on the edge of Amato’s peripheral vision, gaze baleful and unflinching as she watches him drink, almost as if she’s waiting for something to happen. Perhaps he’ll suddenly begin to clutch his throat and abruptly keel over onto the floor. Or… maybe if she eyes him up long enough, he might change his mind.

The glass is soon drained much in the same manner of the two that preceded it, and it is then that Amato turns to regard Lucrezia with suspicion, then something bordering sympathy. "«I am flattered,»" he assures her, his eyebrows furrowing upward as the corners of his lips attempt a smile. Then a decision is reached, and that point is clearly seen on his face. "«I will stay in the suite to make sure no harm comes to you.»" That must be close enough…

…but no cigar –- and Lucrezia’s oral fixation is such that she has no choice but to sate it, one way or another. Amato’s sole saving grace is found wrapped in dark brown paper and kept within a silver cigarette case occupying a corner of the coffee table near them both. She reaches for it instead of him and retrieves from within a spiced clove cigarette which is summarily inflamed and smoldering with and intensity equal to the woman who places it between her lips.

And then the pacing begins.

His words comfort her marvelous little. In fact, the more she lets them echo in her ears, the more they rub her wounded ego raw. Limits. Moral code. Excuses. No man in his right mind refuses her! Why did Amato always insist on being the exception to the rule?! Why did he always have to make her feel so… so…

In a sudden flourish of silk and smoke, she stormed her way back into the bedroom and hastily tore out of her robe, casting it aside carelessly on the floor before rampaging into the walk-in closet and hastily yanking one of her many little black dresses from the hangar and throwing it on in a huff. After picking out a pair of high-heeled shoes and placing them on her feet in flamingo fashion, she marched right back out into the living room looking every bit the part of some scorned and furious fallen angel. The butt of her spiced cigarette is summarily extinguished in Amato’s glass as she passes by en route to the coat closet kept near the door, from which she retrieves a full-length fur coat and then proceeds to literally leave the poor man slightly startled and gaping in her wake, slamming the door behind her.


January 8th: Courtesy Call
January 8th: Fool Me Twice
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