longterm: (6 copy)
Cesare Borgia ([personal profile] longterm) wrote in [community profile] undergrounds2017-04-20 09:28 pm

I Know What You Did Last Century (closed to Natasha)

It had all been a surprising coincidence. Cesare had merely been chatting about the political climate as he always did, when he mentioned Natasha in passing. Someone happened to know about Natasha. Know a lot, in fact. And eventually, as more drinks were poured and they had some discussions, so did Cesare.

Now, part of Cesare thinks he should keep this information to himself. After all, he might need it at some point. But another part of him, the more persuasive part, is too tempted to watch Natasha squirm. She's always been so composed and stoic. Cesare is curious to find out if, all in good fun, he can make that facade crack.

He invites her to afternoon drinks, as he's grown accustomed to doing. (After all, it's always helpful to keep the door to fellow vampires open when they've chosen to sit on the wrong side). For Natasha at least, it seems like any other day.

"How have you been?" he asks politely, standing when she enters because he's a gentleman like that. And also because he's old as sin.
outstandingbalance: (pic#10792662)

[personal profile] outstandingbalance 2017-04-21 04:16 am (UTC)(link)
It's not unusual for Cesare to invite Natasha over. Usually it meant he was hoping she'd changed her mind about joining the nest, though she suspected he also wanted to keep their connection open in case she had any more intelligence for him—though it's been a while since she had news for him, it was always good to keep those contacts fresh.

She smiles, sitting across from him so he can join her.

"No complaints. The last couple of months have been going pretty well for me." She assumes he already knows about Evie. "And you?"
outstandingbalance: (wirada tijuca)

[personal profile] outstandingbalance 2017-04-21 02:02 pm (UTC)(link)
That answer disillusions Natasha instantly. So this isn't a pleasant social invitation. He learned something. And he wants her to know it, whether to gloat or for a more specific purpose remains to be seen.

She leans back slightly in her chair.

"I try to avoid gossip. Notoriously unreliable."
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[personal profile] outstandingbalance 2017-04-22 07:34 pm (UTC)(link)
"I'm sure I'd be shocked by the things they say about her." Natasha deadpans her response. She's been here before, and she knows she doesn't like it. People thinking they know her because they know her reputation. Whatever he's heard, about her time with the KGB, her time as an attack dog for the Red Room, her political rivalries.
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[personal profile] outstandingbalance 2017-04-23 10:21 pm (UTC)(link)
"Does it matter?" Natasha says. Her expression remains stoic, but there's a tension in her posture, behind her eyes, that belies the front. She's not sure where he's going with this. If he's just toying with her, or if he intends to try to leverage this information to some end he hasn't yet revealed. "Some woman you don't even know? Maybe she has. Maybe she hasn't. All you can really really know is what she's done and what she's doing now."
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[personal profile] outstandingbalance 2017-04-24 07:57 pm (UTC)(link)
Is that what they're doing? That's what he wants to play? Natasha's expression changes subtly, but the effect is chilly. If he thinks he will invite her here to needle her, then try to shame her because her past gives him trust issues, then he has another thing coming.

Natasha might be at a disadvantage here in most respects, but she will not scrape and reassure in response to his attempt to lord his new intel over her.

"You should always watch your back, Signore. That's just a good habit to get into."
outstandingbalance: (cerocida strigosa)

[personal profile] outstandingbalance 2017-04-30 09:51 pm (UTC)(link)
Natasha tilts her head, her her eyes assessing behind a stoic face. She would never for a moment entertain the notion that Cesare doesn't know exactly what he's doing, and it's a dominance play that she finds she has less patience for than she expected. This kind of game is common within nests, but outside of them, and with Jean-Claude now in power, she finds her stamina on short supply.

It's not that she can't see the reasons to play along.

It's that he called her here to specifically to put her off balance, to make her uncomfortable by alluding to the fact he'd learned about her past and saw it as shameful, and now he postures as though he is the injured party. As though he is in need of reassurance. As though she's a puppy who will rush to show her belly and lick his fingers if she's scolded.

After a brief moment, she leans toward him slightly, the angle of her chin just short of defiant.

"If you know about me, you ought to know that I never betray my friends," she says it evenly and with a cold certainty that dares him to contradict her. "As long as we're friends, you don't have anything to worry about. So you tell me, does this conversation seem friendly to you?"
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[personal profile] outstandingbalance 2017-05-05 08:10 pm (UTC)(link)
It would be a mistake to believe that his pivot puts Natasha at ease, or that the change in her posture meant that she was relaxed. She does ease back a little, letting the moment of confrontation pass. She doesn't want a fight out of this.

She would much rather continue a civil relationship with Cesare, if she can.

Though he makes it hard.

"Wine. The Malbec, thank you." To the waiter, but her attention stays on him.
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[personal profile] outstandingbalance 2017-05-06 10:34 pm (UTC)(link)
"Not that she's told me," Natasha says, both an honest answer and one that commits to very little. Sylvia hasn't confided any more in her than that, and it casts anything Natasha says after it as based on little more than her own casual observation.

"I think her role is changing, but she's not the type to give up all her work for... I don't know, crochet? Baking pies?"

Whatever it was women were supposed to do when they inevitably retired from public life.
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[personal profile] outstandingbalance 2017-05-08 04:51 am (UTC)(link)
"Winding down," Natasha repeats as though tasting the words, settling into the conversation. She weighs her response to that carefully. "That might be. I think she wants to give Samantha space to take on her role without the old Mother of Witches breathing down her neck."
outstandingbalance: (tidarren sisyphoides)

[personal profile] outstandingbalance 2017-05-10 07:46 pm (UTC)(link)
"Things are always changing." She doesn't say it to be dismissive. It's a fact of reality, in their world as much as any other. She's not nearly as old as him, but she's lived long enough for most human careers to have become short. And she's grown used to the idea that as long as she can manage not to die, she'll outlive most regimes. "Sometimes they change faster than others, but..."

She shrugs. "I do wonder if you're not overestimating the depth of Sylvia's control. She had a lot of influence. Still has some. But she's not quite the boogieman some people make her sound like. She's still just human."
outstandingbalance: (cerocida strigosa)

[personal profile] outstandingbalance 2017-05-16 04:38 am (UTC)(link)
"Not so surprising, given the context. It's not what you'd call a normal situation." Natasha shrugs it off, as though Sylvia's influence doesn't impress her much. If Cesare thinks that's her naivete showing, that doesn't hurt her much.

"Where else could that even happen?"
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[personal profile] outstandingbalance 2017-05-16 05:11 pm (UTC)(link)
Natasha blinks slowly, not rising to this bait. She's recovered her composure enough to be ready for this, and while he may be older than her, Natasha has experience in this area. She remembers Stalin. Sylvia Redbright is no Stalin.

"Don't you think you're being a little over-dramatic about this? She never had control of all parties, and she's already abdicated her position with Daybreak. Peaceful exchange of power and all."
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[personal profile] outstandingbalance 2017-05-22 03:17 pm (UTC)(link)
"If Sylvia were pulling Samantha's strings, I wouldn't expect her policies to be such a sharp departure. Would you?" Natasha keeps the tone light, her skepticism rooted in no special information.

If he wants to stir suspicion, he'll need something more than suggestions.

"But I suppose you're right about that." Softening her push back.
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[personal profile] outstandingbalance 2017-05-26 08:40 pm (UTC)(link)
"I would say we are." If Natasha were in a relationship with anyone else, this might feel like a veiled threat. Evie is very capable of taking care of herself, though, and she doesn't think Cesare would be that brazen with another member of the nest. "I'm very lucky."