Keep the Change
Who: Beth and Desmond When: Friday Night -> Saturday Morning (post dated on purpose) Where: A coffee house What: Leaving an unintentional surprise Rating: G Status: Complete
Desmond couldn't help but stifle a long yawn as he walked, one foot lazily stumbling past the other one, his hand covering his mouth feeling the mist of his hot breath against it before he brought it up to rub at his eyes a little. The night time cause his vampiric blood to bristle, and caused all of his senses to come alive in a way few could understand, but it didn't stop a shiver from coming from him as the night air chilled his chest through the flimsy shirt that he wore. As he rolled his shoulders uncomfortably and attempted to right his shirt so that it was covering as much of him as possible, he glared at the man who walked knowingly in front of him.
"It's not even moon set yet, Balthazar..." Desmond said with another long stifled yawn, his mouth hanging open for what seemed nearly a full minute before shut it, gritting his teeth a little against another gust of frosty wind. Sighing, he finally started to move faster, feeling his feet sink deeper into the sand as he made his way to catch up with the other dhampir, the movement starting to get his blood moving through his heart and caused a pleasant sensation of warmth, even if it was for just a moment before he slowed down to walk at the other man's brisk pace.
"Hey, Balthazar... not even morning yet... why are we trudging through the sand dunes?" Desmond reiterated with a bit of an annoyed tone, looking at the long dark hair of the other man as it flowed down past his shoulders. Balthazar did not turn, and frustratingly did not offer him an answer, but that was not completely unexpected. The Dhampir liked to wear mystery as often as he liked to wear red, which made him stand out, even now, against the dark dunes. Desmond had once asked him about it, but the only thing that Balthazar had said, was that it was easier to not worry about staining his clothes if he had them stained red to begin with.
"You have not learned any reasoning from me, I see." Balthazar said, turning to look at him with his one good eye. The other one was covered in a thick black eye patch that was tied around his head. When Desmond stared at him challengingly, the older Dhampir snorted and shook his head, turning to look forward again. "If I was not here to teach you something, I wouldn't have bothered to wake you. You should know by now, little one, that I do not need you. You need me."
"I think it is your ego that is the one who needs me, old man." Desmond growled a little, though he didn't fight too hard against the older dhampir's statement. It was true enough, and he'd learned to realize it over his time with him. Desmond had done little in the way of doing anything for Balthazar that the dhampir couldn't have done for himself if properly motivated. But Balthazar had taught him invaluable lessons about life, and shown him how far he would really need to go if he wanted to become a true vampire hunter. "Are you planning on at least-"
But before Desmond could say another word, a shovel was tossed at him at a violent speed. He caught it before he realized that it was being tossed at him, his hand snapping on the handle as he spun it around behind him like a bo staff, his hand coming up to guard in case anything else was thrown at him. It was in one fluid movement, a matter of instinct rather than thought. Though he couldn't be sure with the shadow over Balthazar's face, Desmond thought for a moment that he saw a slow grin come over his grizzled appearance. "You are not quite as simple minded as you look, little one. Which is good, it means that you can actually be taught. I was beginning to have cause for concern. Now, it's time to dig."
Desmond eyed him skeptically, but then taking the shovel, spun it back around and began to dig in the sand, while, expectedly, Balthazar sat down on one of the dunes and watched him. This was by no means the first meanial chore that Desmond had been assigned to by the older dhampir, but rather one of a multitude, and Desmond had learned that questioning them usually meant that they wound up being more extended in their nature. Balthazar would always assure him that there was a reason for the things that he was made to do, but often Desmond couldn't help but wonder if some of it just wasn't that the man was too lazy to do his own chores.
"Let me guess, this is for upper body strength..." Desmond said sarcastically as he dug deep. At least this was at night, where his powers were at their fullest. Growling he set himself into it, taking care not to break the shovel by taking up too much sand, even though he could have lifted it. Not really expecting much of an answer, Desmond was surprised when the other dhampir rose to look at how much progress he was making, but that surprised look turned to a flat stare as the dhampir turned back and went back to sit down again without saying a single word of encouragement.
Growling a little, Desmond resisted the urge to 'accidentally' toss some sand in the direction of the dark haired dhampir, and instead just moved faster. He was almost in up to his neck when he heard a strange thump. Digging around it he managed to uncover some form of chest, and grabbing it with one hand he pulled hard, until the medium sized chest had been freed from it's confines. As he held it up to get a good look at it, it was snatched by nimble hands as Balthazar clicked his tongue a little, moving to open it outside while Desmond fought to scramble out of the hole he'd just dug.
"What the hell is that?" Desmond asked as he watched him open it. Without a word something was tossed at him, which he caught. The weight and jingle of it betrayed that it was coin. Gold coin. About 100, to be exact. Desmond had learned to tell without looking, one of the many feats which Balthazar had impressed upon him. Nothing made a client more nervous than having a greedy hunter counting his coin there. But then, the hunter that didn't know how much they were getting often found themselves without food or supplies either.
"You said that you were feeling undercompensated for your...'services'," Balthazar made it sound as if he was using the word in the lightest possible sense, which made Desmond's scowl a little deeper. "So now you can feel better about yourself." He said as he started to pocket the rest. Desmond had a hunch that there was something the old Dhampir needed to buy, and that was the whole reason behind this little trip.
"Why not just go to a bank?" Desmond asked, knowing that, like any question he asked, there was a good chance he'd be ridiculed just for asking this one.
"Because, Desmond, I have been alive for nearly two hundred years. Mortals do not know, by and large, that we exist. There are rumors of us, but they are no where near as prevalent as those about vampires. What do you think would happen if I went to a bank 100 years from now, and asked to take out the money that I had deposited? They would give me a blank stare, tell me that the man who had deposited that money was clearly dead, and I would have no gold. In addition, when you give your gold to an institution like that... you are putting your trust in others... I have told you how I feel about that one..."
"Yes, you have told me, Balthazar."
A few hundred miles from campus, Desmond walked out amidst a field. Balthazar had been right: attempting to talk to a member of a bank was fruitless in what he'd been after. While he was not surprised, what he was suprised by was how easily they demanded identification papers now. There was a day when a fellow could vouch for himself, or provide a proper form of documentation signed by someone to verify they were who they said they were. Now it was all about... having an offical fake looking thing that said who you were. Apparently the government provided it, strangely enough. But then, you also had to pay the government for it. It seemed like a very odd system.
Once you had one of these "Identification cards", however, everything went smoothely. It even had a picture on it. Desmond wondered if a picture could even be taken of him. If not, he would need to get an approximation made, perhaps by finding someone who looked enough like him for it to be passable. By hell or high water though, he would find a way. What mattered now though was counting his steps without losing track. The sun had been down for some time, which meant that he would need to be quick or else he would lose his opportunity for another day.
Finally, he got to the spot, and stared at the ground as darkness enveloped him, pressing his fingertips to the soil to feel it. It felt solid, but a few feet ahead he could feel the heavy stone that he had left. Teeth gritting from the strain, he began to draw his hands up, focusing the energies in them to pull the stone from the feet of dirt, until a few feet from him the ground exploded in a hail of dirt clots and chunks of grass. Brushing what little had fallen on him, Desmond stared down into the hole. This was the closest stash that he had, but there were others, if he needed them.
Pulling out the chest, he was glad he'd listened to Balthazar's advice about gold. It seemed that while bank notes had changed relatively broadly over the years, gold was still universally accepted. He would be able to buy what he needed with this, as soon as he converted it to current bank notes. As he stuffed the bags of gold into his pockets, feeling their weight, he examined the weathered chest beneath. It had aged quite significantly since he had buried it here, and yet to him it seemed like a few months ago since he'd seen it. It was a cruel reminder of the time he had lost.
Not caring much to clean up after himself, he was gone in the blink of an eye, mist swirling where he had once been as it settled in on the quiet, unpopulated field.
A few hours later, he had made his way to a town a few miles away from campus. It took some asking, but eventually he found a bank that would exchange currency. However, he was not quite prepared for the look that they gave him when he handed them a few gold coins, asking how much they were worth. He was told that he could go to a 'gold exchange' if he wanted, but that he might find better luck working with a collector, for the coins that he had were old. Older than they realized, he wondered.
More searching, and he wound up finding someone who claimed to be a 'buyer of all things antique'. Desmond doubted it, but he went into the store anyway. When he showed the man the gold, however, he noted the look in his eye that meant that it was unexpected, but pleasantly so. Calmly the walked to the front, put the store sign to say closed, and then ushered Desmond into the back.
Desmond inhaled lightly as he was shut off from the sun's rays in the sealed back of the store, noting the safe in the corner, and a series of equipment that while he didn't entirely understand, some seemed familiar. The man was appraising the gold to see it's value, he could understand that much. Desmond quietly waited while the process took place, mentally taking notes of what the man was doing, while he kept as far away from the man as he could, to ensure that he didn't do something that he wound up regretting.
"How much of this do you have?" The man said, seemingly casually.
"How much do you want?" Desmond replied, with equal coolness.
"I might be able to give you... I dunno, maybe a couple hundred bucks for a bag of this stuff." The man said smiling at him. But as he said it, there was that faint, subtle deviation of his heartbeat. Desmond could not read minds, but he knew well enough to hear when someone was lying, at least when his powers were active.
Sighing quietly, Desmond calmly walked up to the man and looked him deep into his eyes, watching as the man's look went from a deer in headlights to a distant, almost dreamlike look beneath his gaze. "How much is it really worth, Sir?" Desmond asked quietly, seeing the man's greed struggle against his hold on him for a moment before the power of ancient vampire blood finally overcame his senses.
"It's... worth a few hundred a piece. This gold is in equisite condition. At auction it would fetch an even higher price, but if you're looking simply to get rid of it, then I can't-"
"How much... how many dollars do you have here?" Desmond asked, annoyed that he didn't know the exact terminology for it.
"Fifty thousand, there was a deal that just recently went down, and-" The man started, before Desmond cut him off again.
"I don't care how you came by it... you're going to give me that money, in exchange for enough of my gold that you will make a profit, barely, at auction. Think of it as a premium charged for... not being up front about your business practices..." Desmond said simply.
By the time he was done, Desmond was carrying a briefcase filled with money. There were still other things to do, it seemed as if the bank required that he have identification, which he would need to track down, but right now, he needed to focus more on classes, which while not starting until the afternoon, he would definitely need to attend. Thus, he didn't have the time to start tracking down his documentation, for fear he'd never finish with it. After an hour or two of walking back, he hid most of the money under his bed in his dorm room, taking a few stacks of it with him as he went out.
He still had some time to kill before classes, and without thinking much on it he began to wander, though he paused as he started to smell something on a street corner that smelled... sublime. And almost instantly, he remembered what it was. Coffee. It had been a rather strong drink, but an exhilirating one. Back when he had remembered it, it had been an ethnic drink, primarily in the middle east. Clearly, it's popularity had caught on, and by the smell, he could tell why. He wondered if it had smelled as good back then.
Standing in line the way that the rest of the people did, he looked up at the menu, his eyes widening. There was something called a 'House Blend', and then a variety of what looked like itallian words that he didn't really understand. He knew what the words were, but they didn't make very much sense in terms of a coffee, which they were clearly supposed to. Frowning, he'd been about to step out of line when he heard a girl at a table near the line start talking about how wonderful the drink she had ordered was. He could see it on the menu there.
When the man stepped up, Desmond watched as he put a 5 dollar bill on the table, and proudly told the serving girl to keep the change. He couldn't see her face, but he thought he saw her bounce a little at that, clearly happy. Tipping was not an uncommon thing, in america, if memory served. Coming up to the counter, he didn't bother to glance at the face of the girl who served him, just quietly spoke his order. "I will have a White Chocolate.. uh... Mocha, please." He waited until the cup was placed in front of him before he placed a crisp $100 bill on the counter and said softly: "Keep the change."