Miscellaneous Disasters

by Stratusfied247

Her foot tapped anxiously and more than a little annoyed against the floor as Frank Kohanek walked back and forth in her museum. She wasn't the one that told a gang war to carry over to the buildings rooftop. Besides, as far as she was concerned, the interior of the museum wasn't even a crime scene. The feet of the perpetrators had never touched the museum floor, so he had no business being inside, holding up her business.
"So, you didn't hear anything at all?"

Stephanie McMahon pushed her hair over her shoulder and rolled her eyes. "I told you, Detective, I didn't hear a thing. Do you really think I can hear up to the roof? There's a lot of cement between me and the roof."

"And you never went up there..."

"What reason do I have to go on the roof?" She sighed and closed her eyes for a moment. Her head started to throb and she massaged her temples. This man was being absolutely and completely aggravating. Groaning, Stephanie opened her eyes and sighed again. "I am a curator, Detective Kohanek."

"Please," he interrupted her. "Call me Frank."

"Wonderful. Frank, I am a curator. I run this museum almost completely single-handedly and I do it with joy. I give a place for artists to express themselves. I give them a place to be appreciated for what they have. Musicians have their venue and actors have Hollywood. Where do the artists of San Francisco have to go? Who will give them a chance to spread the joy of art through the city if not for me?"

Frank was quiet as she spoke. Her arms stayed folded, but her voice was more animated than anything he had ever heard. She didn't need to make excessive movements to show her joy in the world of art. She enjoyed what she did, and Frank hated to ruin it for her. However, he had a job to do.

For the first time that he could remember, he didn't have absolute proof that a crime was committed by Kindred. The fire escape on the side of the building could have easily been their way up. No one had tried to stake anyone else in the heart. There were no phospherous guns anywhere. These were just regular criminals, regular gangbangers, and they had brought their business to the top of the Museum of Modern and Cultural Art, run by Stephanie McMahon.

"Do we have to do this now, Frank?" She ran a hand through her hair and looked around the floor. Her eyes turned towards the door and there were people outside, all waiting to get back in. "I'm losing business, and those people..." She sighed. Her arm waved out towards the doors. "Those people paid to come here and see art. And..." She stopped as her head turned. "Don't touch that!"

Stephanie stalked quickly across the floor. Her movements created her own windy aura and her hair flied behind her. "Stop!" She took an officer by the arm and pulled him backwards. "That has absolutely nothing to do with your crime! That is art, and you have no business touching it!"

"Ma'am... I was just admiring the work."

"You admire with your eyes, not your hands." She stepped in front of him and turned towards the painting. The lines were straight and held in all of the oil paints inside of them. The smile on the woman was brilliant, and yet there was a sadness in her eyes.

Frank walked up behind her and his eyes narrowed. "I know that girl," he said softly. He leaned in to get a better look, and his face brushed Stephanie's hair. "That's the editor over at the Times."

"Yes. Stacy Keibler." She turned towards him and her lips were close to his cheek as she spoke. "A beautiful young woman, so gracious to give her time to pose for an artist in need of a muse."

"Her eyes look sad." His body was rigid. Her perfume was familiar, and it only took a second for him to remember what it was. Though the perfume wasn't exactly the same, it was very similar in fragrance to that which Alexandra used to wear. Her shook his head and stepped back. "Uh... How can a..." He gulped. "How can a person have such a bright smile with eyes like that?"

"Because the emotion there is not that of the subject. It is that of the artist." Her arm outstretched and her fingers hovered over the painting. "This artist has pain within him, something that he could only express through his work."

Frank looked down at the plate and frowned. "There's no name here."

"Not all of our artists are looking for fame, Frank. Some of them just want to share the beauty."

"How can you show appreciation to someone when you don't know their name?"

"I know, Frank, and I will be sure to pass your regards."

Frank started to thank her, but stopped when a uniformed officer came up to him. The building was clear. There were no other gang members hiding out inside of the museum. Frank nodded, told him to clear everyone out, then looked at Stephanie again. "Looks like you're back open for business."

"Good."

"As soon as we're all out, you can start letting people back in."

"Thank you, Frank." She extended her hand and noted his slight hesitation before he took her hand and shook it. "I hope that the next time I see you here, it won't be under such awful circumstances."

He gave a snorted laugh. "I'm not sure if museums are my thing."

"Everyone needs a little art in their lives, and you've already shown that you have enough of an appreciation to see things that others might miss." Her head turned slightly and she looked at the painting behind him. "There aren't many that would have seen the sadness in Stacy's eyes."

"I guess I'm just used to sadness."

"Well, come back sometime, and I'll help you see things that will only make you smile."

Frank pulled his hand back and nodded slowly. "I'll, um... I'll think about that." He scratched the back of his head, then turned to walk away. He stopped mid-stride and turned back. "It was nice meeting you, Stephanie."

"Nice meeting you, too, Frank." She watched him walk off and her hand rose slowly to her face. Her fingers tapped lightly against her chin as she whispered, "Very nice, indeed."

~*~

Morgana Belize laughed as she ran into the ocean and dove beneath the water. She swam out until land dropped out from under her feet then turned and popped up. As she treaded water, she watched Julian standing with his feet in the surf. She could see the smile on his face, but there was something in the way he stood that made her think that he wasn't taking his afternoon of freedom for all it was worth.

There was something on his mind that he wasn't telling her about, and it was starting to annoy her. Julian didn't keep secrets from her, and whatever this one happened to be, she was almost positive that it would be trouble as soon as it came out. And she knew it would come out, because the worst of secrets always did.

She thought this trip to the beach might help him. Morgana didn't keep secrets because there was too much work involved. She had enough responsibility as primogen. She wasn't going to take more on and kill herself trying to hide something. She didn't even want to hide things from Julian. Granted, she hadn't told him instantly about Zane's return to San Francisco, but that wasn't a secret. That was clan business, her clan, and when it had been decided she told him. She just wished he would tell her whatever was going on now.

Morgana swam back to the beach and came up a few feet from Julian. She walked slowly towards him, her body glistening with ocean water as it dripped from her hair and body. She reached out and took his hand. "Come with me, Julian," she said softly, trying to pull him with her. He moved, but it wasn't quick enough for her. "Julian, we're here to have fun. No strenuous thinking is allowed."

"Have you come to set me free?" He let her pull him even more. Slowly, the water washed over his feet and up his legs.

"Yes, if you will let me." She walked backwards until the land disappeared, and in a few moments, she and Julian were both treading water. She pushed herself forward and wrapped her arms around his waist. "Toreador and Ventrue dance when we're together, Julian. All of your problems should disappear, and if they don't, they should spill from your mouth so that I can take them away."

He touched her cheek lightly, then pressed the pad of his index finger against her lips. "And now I see why we're at the beach," he said with a gentle smile. "You want to free my lips as much as my heart."

"Your heart is always the first thing I want, Julian." She lowered her head and kissed his chest. Most of him was under water, and her lips were forced to plant just above his heart. "But, yes, I want to know what bothers you. Something keeps you from letting go and I want to know what that something is."

"I know your heart, Morgana, and this is not something you want to know. It's something I wish I could keep hidden from you forever, but I know that won't happen. So, instead, I push back the telling as far as possible."

She pushed away from him and swam backwards. Her brow furrowed as she stared at him. What could possibly be that bad? The only thing she could think of was another war on the horizon, but he would have told her as soon as he knew. Julian wouldn't have allowed her to walk blindly into a situation where they had enemies at all sides. But, if it weren't a war, she didn't know what it could be.

Morgana heard Julian's name being called and she looked pas thim to the beach. Cash stood back far enough that his boots didn't get wet. She thought that he had to be burning up under that jacket, but it was like a piece of his uniform. She couldn't remember ever seeing him without that leather jacket, unless he were inside and had no intention of going anywhere. She wished that he were inside right now, nowhere near them, probably about to destroy the moment.

"Julian, don't." He was already headed back to the shore. Morgana pushed herself past him enough to grab his arm and stop him. "Don't go back there. Whatever it is, it can wait."

He looked at her and she knew she had lost the battle before he said, "I'm sorry, Morgana. I can't."

She watched Julian swim forward and when he stood up, she swam towards him. She wanted to hear what they were saying, but she knew she wouldn't make it back before they were done. By the time she rose to her feet, Cash was already walking away. She ran up to Julian and grabbed his arm.

"What is it?" Morgana asked him. "You can't keep telling me nothing. If our hearts are truly one, then you can't hide things from me. You have to let me help you."

"There's nothing you can do, Morgana. What's done is done, and now..."

His head turned away and she pushed his face back towards her. "Tell me what it is, Julian. I don't want to see this look on your face, anymore. I don't want to see this pain in your eyes, this ache... this... uncertainty? I'll stand by you, whatever decision you've made, whether I like it or not..." She closed her eyes and pressed her forehead against his chest. "There's nothing you could say that can make me back away, Julian."

He touched her cheek lightly and she rose her eyes to look at him. "Don't say that so quickly. You haven't heard what I have to say, yet." Julian kissed her forehead. "Caitlin is Kindred, Morgana."

Her eyes went wide and she pushed away from him. She took two faltering steps backward and stared at him. "Caitlin... Byrne. As in..." She shook her head. "How? Where?"

"She was Embraced against her will in England. Everything opened up to her when she was Embraced and now... her world is open. This is the only place she felt she could go."

"To you."

"Yes."

"And you told her she could come here. That she could come to our city. Did you tell her she could come your home as well? To your paper? To your bed?"

"Morgana, no!" He moved quickly towards her and she moved backwards so fast that she nearly fell into the water. "That's not what this is. She doesn't understand and she needs help."

"And you will help her. You will help her and what... will you explain it to me as this being nothing more than what I did with Zane? That's a lie, Julian, and you know it. You also know why."

"I'm helping a Ventrue, Morgana."

"You're helping a woman that you were in love with." She stepped back to him. "We've all wondered in the past if you would love her as much if she weren't human. But I look in your eyes and I see something there for her. I saw your eyes when you said her name, and even without her humanity, I saw a flicker that I haven't seen since she left. So, Julian Luna, do not tell me that this is just you helping another Ventrue, because if that's what it was, you would have told me and we would already be past it."

"Morgana..." She wanted him to tell her that she was wrong, to tell her anything that would make her feel foolish for her rant. "All I can say is that I'll show you what I feel for you is more than what I felt for her."

His hand stretched out towards her and Morgana just stared at him. She looked up and said, "Right now, Julian, that's not good enough." She walked past him towards their setting and picked up her things. She walked off towards the car with her back straight. Knowing Julian was behind her, watching her, she veered off behind a building. No one was around to see her morph into a silver wolf, and when Julian got around there, all he would see was her belongings and a few paw prints.

TBC

This story was published in June 2002 at http://www.fantasyfrollies.net/kindred3.html.

Kindred: The Embraced and all characters are copyright © 1996 Spelling Television Inc.
Vampire: The Masquerade is © 1990-2007 White Wolf Publishing, a division of CCP North America. All rights reserved.