Mercurial Ends Ch. 04byTalyisBagley©
Chapter 4 – Asserting Oneself
The shallow stairs of the Metropolitan Museum were littered with people, even on a fall afternoon. Tabor kneeded her hands nervously as she stood awkwardly in her leg brace in front of the Gothic, monolithic Museum.
"Shy, this is the worst museum. There are too many people."
Shy quickly captured her elbows, not only to usher her out to the entrance but also to stop her from attempting escape. Tabor's beautiful, pleading brown eyes would not sway him; today, he was determined.
"Shy, I haven't been on a subway, outside your apartment or even to the store on your not-so-busy block. I was hermatiaged in your house in the mountains, for months. Isn't this..." she gestured to the infestation of energy zappers, "...a bit much, don't you think?"
Shy tousled her hair playfully and gave her a reassuring squeeze, "You'll be fine. You've been soaking in my nature for three months; it's time to get you back in the waking world. Plus, I want to go."
"Urgh," she trudged her feet along with his careful steps at her side. Tabor declaratively pointed her finger in the air and arched a warning eyebrow at Shy. "This is the worst place in all New York City. If I see one obnoxious Upper East Side or West Side parent pointing out any painting to their spoiled-pricey-private school preschooler, by inconspicuously really announcing to the entire gallery that her silverspooned, snot-nose kid tried to mimick Starry Night --I am leaving!"
Shy smirked, his silver eyes glinting mischievously. "I can't promise that, but if you'd like, I'll take a little nip at the mother for you."
"Oh, and sully her Kennedyesque sailing ensemble with blood splatters. Oh, it'll be the scandal of the society pages." Tabor's eyes brightened with that idea that he would actually snack on the parent if she asked him to do so and secretly hoped the opportunity would present itself.
"Come on," Shy chuckled and gracefully bounded up the shallow stairs, three steps at a time. He quickly paid for the tickets but Tabor rolled her eyes.
"You know, you just paid the tourist price; this museum is pay-what-you-can."
Shy arched an eyebrow looking down at her. "I did pay what I could, and we are not only helping this cultural institution; trust me, we will get our money's worth."
Tabor shrugged and followed him, rounding the crowded information vestibules, skipping past the long coat-check lines, and heading straight to the main entrance staircases to the galleries.
"Wait, Shy. I want to look at the Greco-Roman wing; it's on the first floor." But Shy had already bounded up to the top of the stairs, his palm open waiting for her to take it, thus answering her--no. Tabor sighed as she followed him, dragging her feet up every stair.
"I want to look at the Impressionists first." Shy's fingers curled around her hand possessively the instant she was in reach.
She mumbled to herself.
"What's that, darling?" He arched an eyebrow.
"Nothing. Lovely date, dear," she said through the side of her mouth, not caring to mask her feelings. Shy rolled his eyes endearingly and guided her to the warm hollow under his arm. His carefree, caring dimples charmed her enough to grin and bear it -- the Impressionists.
"I'm glad we're getting some mileage out of your new leg."
Tabor softened and tugged on his zip-up sweater to pull him closer to her.
For a vampire, Shy looked remarkably like an average, 30-something New York hipster. He effortlessly pulled off a carefree collegiate style, complete with a grey zip-up hoodie that was frayed at the cuffs and waist. Tabor loved stealing it when she could. It smelt like him -- ambrosia and woods by the sea. An azure t-shirt peeked from underneath it, perfectly accenting both the icy silver-green specks in his eyes and his jeans, which perfectly showed off his strong lean legs and ass. No one in the stuffy, bright museum would have mistaken him for a dangerous vampire that had been stopping human heartbeats for centuries. And right now he was as innocuous as the quiet students sitting in front of the paintings and sketching. Too bad the same couldn't be said for the annoying mothers - the art mom vultures.
Shy chuckled and squeezed Tabor tighter to him as their eyes followed a skinny, loud, red-haired woman and her six-year-old child, who had a matching mope of curly hair and orange freckles splattered across his entire face. She pointed at a Cézanne fruit-in-a-bowl still-life.
"I'm afraid you'll try to beat me to her before I can have my lunch," Shy joked as he purposefully took Tabor's delicate hands into his own. He imagined the veins in these seemingly harmless small hands alight with a blue glow, preparing to strike the woman.
"For some reason I just don't like redheads."
Even worse, the mother started rattling off facts about the painting that not even historians cared about. Tabor's expression could have literally curdled milk, and she wanted to scream.
"Let's look at the Van Goghs." Shy kissed her forehead, which was conveniently tilted up towards him.
"Is it true Ilsino knew Van Gogh?" Tabor whispered; she didn't care to broadcast her art knowledge to the entire gallery, unlike 'some' people.
"Oh come on, I can see you becoming one of those mothers." Tabor brought their entwined hands to her mouth and playfully nipped him hard. He winced through his teeth hard and watched as the impression of her teeth disappeared. "Don't worry; I won't let you get away with that."
Tabor pursed her lips, wagging her eyebrows and beckoning a challenge.
"Your question -- the answer is yes; he did know Van Gogh."
Tabor hummed, trying to take in the information with a measured amount of disinterest, but she crossed her arms to stop herself from lunging into a pool of questions. Van Gogh was her only favorite Impressionist artist, but she liked him more for the drama behind the artist than his artwork itself. She could relate to the sickly Van Gogh, who was so poor he couldn't buy new canvases. She often wondered how painstakingly awful it had to have been to decide to paint over one painting that could have been a masterpiece and then end up with the worst painting ever because you were poor.
She bit the inside of her bottom lip to keep her mouth from saying what she was thinking: she couldn't wait to see Ilsino again to ask about his "friend" Vincent.
Shy guffawed. "I would hardly call them friends. That's like your grammar school bully wanting to clamber onto your fame by saying you were friends after watching your missing person ads on the television, Tabor."
Tabor kicked her foot and looked away.
"I would not be surprised if that Chaldean had something to do with that poor man losing his ear."
"He chopped it off because he was artistically frustrated—" Tabor piped.
"So we are to believe," Shy, exhausted on the conversation, flexed his back, ignoring Tabor staring with disenchantment at Van Gogh's self-portrait. She knew what that meant: a world of lies built by manipulative vampires.
They drifted from one room to the next of large paintings with the delicate, sweeping and articulated brushstrokes that made the Impressionist movement so wildly popular. Tabor was nearing the end of her patience with the same old boring paintings she had been studying since her childhood art classes.
She wanted to stick it to the art goers, the art mom vultures and the museums that were fanatical about Impressionism. She purposely stopped in front a Pierre Bonnard oil painting of a family having a picnic in a park with the baby which was the focal point of the characters' interests.
Tabor snorted in art mom vulture volume, "The baby looks like a troll." Shy came over and tilted his head, neither agree nor disagreeing. "All of his work looks pedantic. Can we go?"
"No," Shy pulled her into the next room but was struck silent, gazing over more paintings by Henri. Memories flooded him when he spotted the series of paintings of his Henri's firstborn, Margarette. Henri's named her after a woman that had died long ago. Shy introduced Margarette to Henri and immediately the artist was smitten with the woman who pretended to be Shy's sister.
Margarette had been Shy's only true vampire friend and, like the human Margarette, life was difficult for her. Vampire Margarette was like a sister to them both, but before she met Shy and Henri, she had already been struggling with living the solitary life of a vampire, a cloud of melancholy covering her.
Their friendship gave her the strength to pull her muscles to form a smile, or even laugh at times, yet it was not enough to push away the heavy night that she was forced to live in. The endless nights continued to crush her spirit; no matter how happy she was with the "family" she made with Shy and Henri's friendship, it was never enough. So she decided to show her true self to Henri.
That night after waking up alone in their dark home without Margarette, Shy had felt the burn in the air of loss immediately, even before he'd run into Henri, hoping to find his beloved sister.
Henri was already standing in the door waiting for Shy; the yellow glow of his home behind was forever burned into Shy's memory. Henri looked like he had been painting all day, inspired in a fernetic desire to capture whatever it was, his smock was covered with fresh wet paint.
Tears would have burned his eyes, if he could weep, an painful, heated breath would have burned his nostrils if his lungs took in air, yet he felt it nonetheless. He knew she was gone. Shy had stumbled and fallen into the dust of Henri's threshold; he had buried his face in his best friend's shoes, weeping.
"She wanted to go, Shy," Henri said simply, a tear trickled down Henri's check. "She said it was beautiful." Her last words.
Henri had held Margarette close to him, sitting on the rolling Catalan hills of South France as he spent his last moments with her on earth by honoring her last wish to watch the sunrise with her -- her suicide. Henri had held onto Margarette while the chariot pulled the accursed sun higher into the sky, taking another love from Shy's life with every excruciating moment. It burned her skin, marrow and soul, reducing everything that was so dear to Shy to ash. She gritted her teeth to prevent her pain from affecting Henri. She knew his feelings for her ran deeper than the brotherly love she shared with Shy, her brother through the bloodthirst.
On that day Shy had lost Margarette, the only family he had pretended and almost believed he had after his change. Henri had lost his first unrequited love and because she revealed their true nature, Shy had also lost his best friend. He couldn't imagine what would have happened to Henri if he'd stayed. He loved his friend dearly; if only he could have watched the sun rise and set with his friend, and watch him paint, and drink wine with him when the sun was high in the sky.
As Shy walked away from the painting, he stopped dead and shook his head, chuckling. Tabor was where he'd left her, still clinging to a Picasso where the artist had used African tribal influences; it was the least Impressionistic painting in the room. He pulled her into her arms, delighted that it was the afternoon, the sun was warming his skin, but most of all comforted by knowing she was his. He kissed her long and hard on the lips. She blinked rapidly and smiled at him, not knowing what to make of his sudden mood. He only chuckled and tapped her nose lightly with his finger. He loved how everything about her contradicted his own nature: her sensibleness, her shyness, his fate and her body. Her small frame huddled against his tall lean body, he felt proud to protect her, his strong arms covering her.
His cheeky grin made Tabor blush. She heard his thoughts teasing her when he heard her admonish her body for revving up with warm sensual thoughts in a crowded museum.
She took in her handsome boyfriend who was unabashed about a little PDA. She wanted him; just imaging his tall trim body draping over hers, every muscle exuding his lust, yet also his confident patience and control to tease her every nerve with his ministrations -- his cock pushing into her warm depths -- filling her completely. Her pussy pulsated in anticipation. She was ready to end this stupid museum trip to simply "add mileage" to her healed leg. She wanted to go home to test out wrapping her leg around his waist as he impaled her on his sex against their kitchen counter. She couldn't wait to lay her eyes on the sexy line of his throat that travelled down his taunt chest, to the juncture 'V' of his hips – a teasing prelude to his manhood. She longed to drag her soft lips along that line.
"Later, I promise, my sweet." Shy winked; he wanted to throw her against the wall and forcefully take advantage of her flowy skirt and lack of tights. His eyes glinted mischievously as he wickedly planted the image of him pushing her in-between the paintings she complained about, shoving his fingers against her willing-drenched clit, daring her through their connected eyes to utter a single word of apprehension against this perversion. Yet her hips would writhe against the walls.
Roses blossomed under Tabor's skin as she shied away from him to simply catch her breath. A gratifying blush came upon his own face as he smirked, Let's see how much you complain about the art after that.
They turned the corner, to Tabor's relief, leaving the Impressionist galleries to look at the French sculptures. It was a narrow hall with sculptures ranging from the size of an average child to those that could fit in the hand of a child. It was a forgettable gallery, mostly used by patrons eager to get to the modern art wing or to stop and take cellphone calls in what appeared to be just a hallway of insignificant art, despite the fact a Rodin anchored it.
"Ahhh, the Dionysian Henri," Shy said to himself aloud.
He couldn't help but allow a nostalgic smile to slide across his face. He forgot all about these little pieces now behind glass in a display case.
Henri was so tactile and that's perhaps why they'd gotten on so well. They couldn't just sit in a tavern and look at the beautiful women with a tall lager; they had to be either eagerly trying to conquer them or preparing to woo them with a trick. Henri's favorite trick was to make a three-minute portrait of the women he flirted with. He was masterful; pen in one hand, beer in the other, and his mouth ran with the most deliciously naughty words that made the girls blush and wet-to-a-pant at the same time. He said he only needed three minutes to get under any French woman's skirts; which was always twelve minutes faster than Shy's personal best.
Shy smirked; if only those women knew how much these little three minute tricks would be worth today. But he was unknown then, a nobody, and he enjoyed play more than the drudgery other French artists lived, slaving away to sell their work.
Many times Henri and Shy would just sit in the tavern getting drunk, Henri fiddling with the clay in his pockets, not taking it out--just secretly petting it. He would once in a while take it out, construct something absentmindedly, and then shove it back into his pocket once Shy spotted their next woman for the evening. Shy rolled his eyes, remembering he often got bored with sitting with Henri when he was in an introverted mood with his art. Shy would use women just to lure Henri into having fun by ignoring his introspection. In those days women were pawns to skillfully manipulate to get what he wanted, and he enjoyed the acute game of bending women's emotions to his will without using his vampire powers.
"Tabor," he called her over, "Which one do you like?" He pointed to a case of black statuettes, one of which was Shy's rendering. He scoffed at Henri not wanting to be patronized when his friend insisted it was good. He never thought he would actually go home and make a real sculpture out of his idea.
"Let's go to the modern art gallery," Tabor grabbed his hand and pulled him away from the case, but he forcefully pulled her back to him.
"Come on, tell me."
Tabor shifted her weight to her good leg, jutting her hip to the left and huffed. "Matisse. Bronze. Kind of cold war of art between Picasso and Matisse, both moving from painting to sculpture." Tabor rattled off in an uninterested monotone and then looked down the hall towards the modern gallery.
"Tabor, I asked you which do you like, not what I can read on the wall placard." Shy said sharply.
"Come on. Humor me."
"I've humored you this entire time. I look foolish walking around here with this leg brace."
"You are fine. You've healed better than any human could. Now, what do you think?" Shy's expression was pinched but yet his flawless romantic smirk still slipped through.
"I like that one. It's the most sensual." She pointed to the little black bronze of a flirtatious nude curling her leg under the other, throwing her hair back with her arms seductively giving to the curves of her breasts and hips.
Shy licked his lips through a beaming smile and his silver-grey eyes glittered with amusement.
"I did that." Tabor cocked her head and gave him a sideways glare. "I did. I started it and then, I guess, years later he finished it." Tabor shifted her eyes away from Shy, not wanting to fall for his joke. "Henri was my best friend."
Tabor ran her hands through her hair and gave an exasperated chuckle. "And Ilsino caused Van Gogh to lose it." Shy shrugged his shoulders with his hands buried in his pocket. "You know you make museum trips... interesting--to say the least." Tabor stared steadily at the little figurines and her body ran cold. "Is this beautiful to you?" Tabor imagined Shy had a muse to help him sculpt the women that leaned back on her pedestal.
"It's just an idea, Tabor; and yes, you match my ideal of sensuality, grace and beauty." Shy had read her dysmorphic thoughts but Tabor just waved her hand, dismissing his praise.
"Can we go to the modern art area?" Shy rolled his eyes.
He glanced toward the end of the hall and could see the space-aged sculptures that more resembled the contraption that made the lunar landing than art. Tabor pulled him down the hall as he playfully groaned.
"If it looks like a ten-year old could do it in the new millennium and have enough marketing engines behind him, does that mean it's art?" He balked again, a few steps into the gallery, once he saw a single color splashed digitally on canvases. "This is not art." His voice was calculated.
"Impressionists are boring!" Tabor countered.
"And that-" he pointed to a cellulous mass of sequence and beading on a messy Styrofoam painting that was over 20-feet high of golds, peaches, and red blotches of paint. "is a mess."
Tabor only shrugged and then walked over to the blob he abhorred. Up close the work was a massive wavy textile with woven cooper wire, plastic discs sculpted to look like flowers or shiny aluminum sea creatures caught in a Grecian sea net.
"Come on, even you have to appreciate that," Tabor smiled, proud that Shy read her mind. Shy reluctantly pulled his lips to an appreciative smile of the African artist's work – she was right. It was kinda magical like the sea.
Shy meandered around the museum, letting Tabor enjoy the galleries. He sat down like a husband waiting for his wife to finish shopping, but Tabor felt bad that he was not enjoying himself and so she joined him on the bench. She was actually relieved to sit for a while and just relax. Shy leaned back, anchored by his arms, and kicked his long legs out in front of him like he was lounging at the beach on a sunny day. He was indeed basking in the waves of Tabor's aura that always hit him when she was thinking about him or wishing to make him happy.