"It's a cake, not poison!" Jezebel insisted as she retracted the fork from it's location a few inches near flattened lips. "Why would I try and poison you?" Her eyes laughed at him with garnet glee, her lips curled in the prettiest of smiles. The Princess shook her head, Emerald locks gently slinking around her shoulders as she promptly ate the bite she had attempted to feed the man across from her. "Why are you so stubborn?"
Artemis smiled a little as he appreciated the petite form in front of him. His hand reached out to gently caress her thigh, just above the knee, his thumb stroking the soft flesh he had grown to love so dearly. "First of all," He began. "I don't eat. I don't need to, and I don't really enjoy doing so. Second of all, I would rather watch you enjoy it."
Jezz looked back to him with an endearing smile. "Artemis," She sighed. "I wish you would hurry up and marry me, already." Her smile grew as she watched the man shift uncomfortable. "I know, I know. My brother would have none of it." She laughed softly. "But what Thanatos doesn't know, wont hurt us?"
A laugh escaped Artemis at that. "The mere idea that he doesn't know anything is hilarious" He laughed, leaning over to steal a kiss, shortened by the Princess' look of dismay at his laughter towards her comment. It was true, after all. If Thanatos didn't know, there would be no trouble. "How often do things get by your brother? We can get away with being together as long as he is in the belief that it is nothing more than a fling; a phase you are having that you will grow out of. If we secured our unity while I am still so heavily employed, forced to be away so often that we can not possibly leave to start our lives together, you know we have to wait."
Jezebel looked away, crestfallen at the truth in his words. His heart hurt to think about how they couldn't possibly secure their unity alone, and the look on her face broke it. Artemis reached over to gently caress her cheek, sliding his hand down to grip her chin and turn her face towards him so crimson orbs could meet garnet ones. "I promise you, my love," his words were steady, if but a breath. "One day we will wed, we will build and we will have a family of our own. Our lives will be tied to one another for the rest of eternity and we will never have to break our union. We just need to be patient."
Her lips pressed to his, arms thrown around his neck in desperation. Cake completely forgotten as she pulled back a little, eyes misted, Artemis noted the smile that touched her lips and he couldn't help but match it. Waiting would suck, it would be difficult and neither of them were happy about it; but the pay off would be worth it. A century of pain would even be worth the millennia of happiness.
"Speaking of work," Jezebel suddenly began, pulling back to reach behind herself and pull her hair over her shoulder, beginning to play with it absently. "when will you begin to receive a lesser load?"
The question brought a heavy sigh from Artemis. Work was such a constant thing, that when he managed to steal away for moments with his beloved, he tried to forget it existed. Every one could live for ten minutes at a time, every few days to a week (depending on the season, of course. Occasionally the other Horses made his job harder...), so that he could visit. He refused not to steal time for Jezzy. "It's complicated." He shrugged lightly; he really didn't have a way to know for sure. "Once the Death toll raises far enough above the Life toll I will be able to inspire a Reaper to be born. Once they live their life and I collect their soul, they will be permitted to learn to perform most of my duties for me."
Jezebel nodded quietly in understanding, a small frown gracing her lips as she nibbled the bottom one. "So it could be a while... " Suddenly a smart smile replaced the frown. "More time to plan, then!"
"Ah, this is where you ran off to." A voice interrupted. The two looked up to see the male twin standing in the doorway. "Jezebel, we have business to attend to." Thanatos smiled lightly his own garnet eyes flicking between the two. "Duty calls. Besides, wouldn't want to keep Artemis too long, would we?"
Artemis and Jezebel exchanged a look of knowing despair; he wasn't wrong. "Til next time." Jezebel sighed unhappily.
"Have patience." Artemis whispered, referencing the promise he had made not long prior. Death stood and looked to Thanatos with a light smile. He bowed before the king, a brief and light bow of respect. "Until next time, sire."
Thanatos nodded his head in acknowledgment, but said nothing as Artemis vanished from the room.
Pubs were always one of his favorite places. Aside from finding easy Marks to take with him, Artemis enjoyed the chance to socialize with people. Some times hanging around mortals helped remind him to live life; being immortal, it was easy to accidentally lose track of time...for a very long time. At one point, he had lost five mortal years without realizing it. It wasn't as though he were having fun and time flew by, nor was he so miserable had he buried his head and let time fly passed him! He simply had lived in his life of immortality where it didn't matter what time it was, what year it was or when it was for so long that when he had returned to those he knew and held dear, they had been certain him dead.
But mortals didn't have that leisure; they were confined to the sands of Time himself, forced to live day to day lives, watch themselves growing frail with age and forced to produce offspring at a set time before it too late in order to not just carry on their species, but to carry on their lineage. It was a frailty to life he genuinely endeared. It made those lives special.
"Th' mistress wan'ed me 'ome by sun-fall." The man sitting at the bar beside him mumbled, his face half buried in his cup as he began to black out from too much drink. This Mark he had seen the second he walked in; at the time it was only a prospective, but he was certain now that it would follow through. "Whoops!" The cackling giggle of a drunken man unwilling to return home to his wife, children and everything Artemis, himself, desired made him sick.
It was enough to make him wish to reach out and grab the man by the throat, feel his fingertips dig into the soft flesh so close to his precious jugular and let his nails pierce his skin. He wanted to crush his trachea ever so slightly until he grew blue with desperation only to release him, reach over and let his Touch take the man's life in pain and assurance of life.
But he wouldn't; it was neither his job to abuse a man choosing to live his life how ever he wished, nor to pass judgment. The man would be passing soon, either way; it was his time. Almost.
Artemis smiled knowingly to the drunk. "Oh? You must feel ass though you have escaped." He remarked to which the man nodded slowly. Artemis allowed a chuckle to escape him. A few moments more and his job would be done. "Too bad you will never know your Hell is another Heaven." He couldn't help but remark bitterly.
It was the last words the man would ever hear. A look of puzzlement crossed his features before, finally, his heart stopped. Cardiac Arrest, a term not yet used by this time, had taken him by his Life's Route Design.
Artemis stood as the drunken man flopped over, likely resumed asleep by those around, and stepped away with his Ail. He spotted a young man sitting alone in the dark corner and a small smile curved his lips. "You look out of place." He mused as he stood beside the young...man.
Blue eyes lifted from the mug in hand to peer at him mistrustfully. "And what would you know of my placement?" He demanded in a strange accent that Artemis was certain he knew, but could not place. So many different speech patterns had grown, how could he keep track?
"I am simply going by looks alone, good sir." Artemis quickly took a more subdued tone at the other's instant aggression and disdain towards him. "You look as though you should be in a library, not a pub." He chuckled. "I feel as though I could have a unique conversation with you regarding the stars, not blathered chat of drunken babbling."
The man regarded Artemis, clearly no where near eager to trust him, yet his guard slowly dropped and he took a much more friendly tone. "You wouldn't be wrong." And yet he took another drink from his mug of beer. "But, then again, you can not judge a book by it's cover. I have done many a things in my life. More than you would believe." His lips turned to a smirk. "At one point, this is exactly where I belong." A brief pause as he glanced around. "Still do, periodically."
Artemis smiled in amusement and sat at the table across the other. "So what brings some one who has lived this life once back? Something troubling your mind?" Artemis guessed as he sipped his ail, allowing it to remain at his lips so he could look the other over a moment more without him noticing too much.
"What matter is it of yours?" the mug was set down, and Artemis mirrored the act to display a calm smile.
"A fair question. Call me curious as to what would drag a married man back into this life." A pause. "And perhaps curiosity about how marriage has treated you."
The man eyed him, once more judging whether he should speak to this stranger or not; how had he known him married? Ah. Blue eyes glanced to his finger and he fiddled with the ring there, a smile touching his lips. "Observant, aren't you? I am guessing you deducted the marriage from this?" He chuckled. "We have had a few," a pause. "she has a hard time with an illness I have." He confessed.
"She doesn't know what you are." Artemis guessed, his smile quirking a little in a sly fashion.
The man practically spat his own ail out, his blue eyes fixing on Artemis. A dangerous aura came about what seemed like such a gentle person so suddenly, that eve people around them minding their own business looked up and around anxiously, unsure of why they suddenly found the desire to return home. "What, ever, do you mean by that?" His voice remained calm, but the edge around it was clear.
Artemis raised a hand, palm towards the other, in gentle submission of harmless meaning. "Don't worry. Your secret is safe with me, as are you." He assured.
"How do you know it, then?" A low growl had added to what had been such a calm voice.
"Because you have no natural lifespan." Artemis explained, hand dropping back to his mug with a calm smile on his face. "You see, normally humans have a natural lifespan that I can feel; it tells me who is going to be ready to cross over soon. You, however, have nothing. You are immortal, just as I am."
The words caused the hostility in the immortal across from him to drop as a confused look crossed his face. Those same blue eyes that had held so much now only looked confused as they searched over Artemis. "Who are you? What are you?" He demanded. "You aren't a vampire; I would know it." He hissed.
"No." Artemis nodded slowly. "My name is Artemis, and I am Death himself." He mused, sipping his ail as he watched this slowly cross through the vampire's mind, sink in and disbelief cross his features for a moment before a frown appeared.
"Let us say I believe you." The man started. "What do you want from me?" It was a natural reaction, Artemis felt; if Death came to speak with you, wouldn't you assume he wanted you? That it was your time?
"Relax. I was here for some one else. I just noticed you sitting here. I rarely find Vampires in the presence of mortals, unless it regards their diet." He chuckled softly. "I was curious what brought you here. So your wife doesn't know you're a vampire, then?" He repeated.
The vampire eyed him suspiciously before shaking his head slowly. "No. She thinks I am out to collect my medicine." His blue eyes scanned the bar, landing on a larger man at the bar. "She isn't wrong..."
"so you are married to a mortal..." Artemis realized, his brow knitting together. "Why? Isn't that short lived?" He asked oddly.
"Yes. It will end almost as soon as it has begun; we have been together for twenty years, now. She has grown to change so much in time." the soft smile on his features made Artemis feel as though the other was watching the changes in his mind's eye once again.
"Aren't you worried of the day she wakes up and realizes that you have not, and will not, age? What then?" He asked quietly, genuine concern in his voice.
"I am more afraid of the day she doesn't wake up at all." Blue eyes pierced straight through Artemis' crimson ones, and he felt the ache in his heart for this vampire. The way this man spoke of his wife...it reminded him of Jezebel. She had been only thirteen the day they had met. Still just a child. In the following centuries, he watched her grow as he returned to visit and spotted her here and there and, eventually, realized she had grown into a woman. He had never intended to fall in love. But who did? "That is the day I fear most. I will deal with her discovering my secret when the day comes, but until then I can not find myself to care so long as she is still with me, by my side."
Artemis nodded slowly, his hand gripping his mug tighter yet. "I understand." He managed in a some what broken voice. "I have been holding out on making my own beloved my wife." He admitted quietly. "She is an immortal, and thus we have more time. My fears of life being too rocky to support us well enough keeps me at bay. I can only imagine-"
A cool hand rested on his own hand that had a death grip on the coffee mug. "It is not worth holding these things at bay." The vampire said quietly. "Even if I had an eternity with my wife, I would marry her just as soon. If there is one thing I must implore on you, it is to make her your wife if that is what you want, because counting down the minutes has taught me you never know what tomorrow brings. She may be immortal as we are, but that does not mean she can not be taken away some other way." The hand was removed as the vampire stood. "I need to go."
Artemis blinked his crimson eyes as blue tore from them, noticing the larger man having just left the Pub. He nodded in understanding, unable to clear the small frown from his lips. "What is your name, friend?" He asked as the vampire grabbed his coat and abandoned the remnants of his drink in pursuit of his prey.
The vampire looked back to him as he opened the door only a short distance away. He paused to offer his hand to shake. "Audrea."
Artemis grasped his hand firmly, finally managing a small smile. "I reckon we will meet again, Audrea. Enjoy your dinner."
"Thank you. I hope we will meet again soon- for pleasantries. Perhaps you can meet Glorie." He smiled lightly, glancing over his shoulder towards his prey. "Good night."
Artemis smiled as the door clicked shut behind the vampire, closing off the pub to the crisp night. He finished his ail and stood. That, it would appear, settled it, then. He knew what he had to do. He had lived many years, but never had he had a chance encounter that had impacted him as strongly as this.
But, for now, it was time to go back to work.