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Hapsburgers Syndrome
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PostSubject: Unlikely Attendees   Unlikely Attendees EmptyThu Jun 21, 2012 1:41 am

Therese had originally said she didn't want to be noticed. She had picked out dusty, pale, purple fabric just for that purpose. She wanted to blend into the shadows or hide behind some more brightly colored curtains. But she had made a deal with Annelie to let Lev stay (there was only so much nonsense Annelie would take before she didn't freely tolerate it anymore), and now she would have to think brilliantly for a new plan to be able to go unnoticed. The bland purple was kept, but covered and draped over the last few days with deep purple organza and lace flounces that made her nearly get a nervous rash. Even if she did, it wouldn't have been seen from under all of the jewelry. Pearl pins and an emerald tiara kept her hair steeled down. It hadn't stopped her from fidgeting with the feather in her hair until it was all fuzz. When she'd mentioned she thought she looked like a peacock, her maid had winked, saying, "That's the plan, now keep your head still or this pin's going in your eye."

Another condition of Lev being strictly there to get well was to only talk to him in the amount of time she would have to pass him in a hallway. So she hadn't had the chance to hear more about the cave. And her maid certainly wouldn't approve of talking to him even more at the party. She'd promised him that everyone that went to these parties always ended up talking about philosophy (not totally untrue), and hoped there would be a way to hear what she thought was certainly the key to her mental salvation.

So, for once she was looking forward to the party.... but the coach ride had been unpleasant.

They had made it to their seats without an incident, and when she sat down, Therese breathed a small sigh of relief, as much relief as she could, from a corset. People were already dancing, like clockwork, practiced, restrained. She preferred to just watch-- the certainty of the steps was quite calming. Really, she was afraid of actually dancing. It required getting a little too close for comfort. Still, at these things, there was a wistfulness about her-- she always sort of wished to be whisked off her feet and run away with someone she really loved-- but live at the same level of comfort, of course... and she'd take Annelie with them, too. So maybe whisking wasn't a very practical way to travel.

Yet despite all of Annelie's trouble, she wasn't noticed hardly at all at parties... which in a way, was just how she liked it. Sure, maybe it did mean something about her looks, but she was perfectly content with watching the dancers and daydreaming, falling into a sort of champagne-induced hypnosis.

Just at the moment she was daydreaming, she broke out of that hypnosis at the sight of a man fleeing uncoordinatedly through the cloud of dancers like a marble in a pinball machine. Through her glass, he looked like a mirage. But when he stopped at her table, and spoke and grinned (albeit very oddly), she realized he wasn't.

"...Pardon me?"

"I said," He seemed a bit exasperated, but his tone changed, and he became charming (again, oddly) again. "I was told the lovely Comtesse Von Steyr was in attendance, is that not you?"

Was it? Oh, I was. She blinked like a deer in headlights. "Yes. I mean y-yes, it is m-m-me--"

He took off his hat, and bowed, looking... expensive. "I'm surprised I have little renown here-- Well, allow me to introduce myself: I am the Duc de Richelieu," (Did he shoot a look at Annelie?) "And I have come here for the sole purpose of having a dance with the lady."

She tried to say something, but no sound was coming out. Did she even know what she was going to say? Shaking with a mix of emotions (she was noticed! But.. she was noticed...), she downed the rest of her glass and looked for an answer in her companions.
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PostSubject: Re: Unlikely Attendees   Unlikely Attendees EmptyThu Jun 21, 2012 10:15 pm

This was the worst. He'd agreed to go only because she'd promised philosophy discussions, but why did he have to be there? Just being in this environment made him slightly sick--and not only because he was in the final recovery days from his illness. And he felt like a sitting duck, in this nest of aristocracy, just waiting for someone to rat him out as a dissident. 

Even the fact that he'd been getting far more sleep than normal did nothing to dispel his worries, or improve his outlook on the social gathering. Though it had helped somewhat in clearing up the normally dark circles under his eyes, which, along with the shave, enforced bathing and hair-combing, had done something to make him look more presentable. He hated the party clothes they'd stuck him in, though. They were so stiff and restricting, and...bourgeois. He'd almost rather go naked. Almost.

Like his friend, he was watching the dancers, but hardly while in a daydream. Rather, he was brooding quite heavily over his drink (which wasn't really a very good drink for brooding--didn't they have any vodka? This party was terrible), and squinting suspiciously at anyone who looked at him funny...or just plain looked at him. One of them was a rat, he could sense it.

And just as he was thinking this, a stranger approached them--more specifically, approached Therese. And the second he spoke, the hairs on the back of Lev's neck stood up.

He was no expert in regional accents, but it was unmistakably some kind of Russian. Certainly not French, as was claimed, which only set off more alarms in the already paranoid revolutionary's head. Assumptions were quickly jumped to: a Russian trying to conceal his identity, asking after his friend? He was most probably trying to lure her away, where he could get information out of her about Lev so that he could be shipped off to Siberia. He had to act quickly, and luckily the neurotic comtesse hesitated just enough for her sassy maid to leap to her feet indignantly, pointing at the faux-Duc.

"You--!" But before she could make any accusations, Lev jumped up as well, and, without a word, took both of their hands and clasped them together, before pushing them out onto the dance floor. He didn't trust the maid that much, but she would have to serve as a distraction for the time being.

Taking Therese's arm, he urged, "Come on!" And pulled her away around the room, past a crowd--so that the Okhrana-agent-in-a-French-disguise couldn't see where they'd gone--and behind a large pillar. Only once they were out of sight did he let go, while revealing to her in a hushed tone, "He's not French--that was definitely a Russian-speaker's accent, I could tell..." And he was about to warn her about the Okhrana monitoring Russian revolutionary activity in other countries (well...he definitely knew they were in Paris, so he therefore concluded that they were everywhere), when a thought struck him. 

Stopping mid-breath, he paused to consider that his very impulsive actions had probably already made her nervous, and that telling her that an undercover policeman was there to arrest him likely wouldn't help. He needed to not freak out his only ally.

"...So I'm worried he might be that man your maid mentioned the other day: the charlatan," he concluded--he had, after all, been in the tub listening to that whole conversation. And his assumption may have actually been true; if they knew he was staying in Therese's house, they may have tried to get to her maid first for information. They must have been watching him closer than he realized.

Feeling decidedly freaked out himself, he nearly shouted in surprise when another person approached them, "Excuse me, miss, is this man bothering you? Care to dance with me, instead?"

Another one! They were everywhere!

Looking positively mad, Lev snapped at him irrationally, "Who asked you!? Go away, you're the only one here being bothersome! I know who you really are!" As the other man backed off, clearly disturbed, the Russian's eyes began to flicker to every guest as he became visibly more on edge. Were they all in on it? Who was watching him--how could he know if they had eyes in the backs of their heads? What if the walls had eyes??

Spinning around, he checked the pillar behind him, his expression one of sheer panic. He couldn't see anything, but that didn't mean that nothing was there. Swiveling around again, bracing himself against it, he stared at all the people that he was sure were staring right back. They were going to turn him in. Drag him away. Lock him up forever. In clothes that were way too stiff.

He had to get out of there.

"Fresh air--I need to get away from here," he grabbed her shoulders, as if he were about to shake her, sounding ever more dismayed, "Where's the doors? The windows?? This is your house, isn't it? Where am I!?" Was he already in a prison?

--

Pushed out onto the dance floor before she even knew what was going on, Annelie narrowly avoided falling over, no thanks to that lunatic Russian. Straightening up and snatching her hand away, she turned to confront him about it, but both he and Therese had disappeared. "Mistress?" She looked around in alarm, before spotting the two of them disappear into a crowd. She didn't trust the philosopher that much, but she would have to leave him with the young comtesse for the time being.

At the moment, she had another problem to deal with. Facing the fishy 'Frenchman', she snapped at him instead, waving a threatening finger in his face, "What do you want with the mistress, you sneak? I'll have you know that she's engaged, so don't start getting any funny ideas!"
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PostSubject: Re: Unlikely Attendees   Unlikely Attendees EmptySat Jun 23, 2012 3:01 am

Before she could be whisked off her feet by the sudden appearance of the supposed Frenchman, she was pulled away by Lev. Which wasn't how she'd planned, but maybe she could sneak in a talk with him. Or not... his eyes were a bit crazy (as were hers, by that point, so there was really no helping either of them).

Therese was already trembling with all the new information. "What...? B-but he sounded French, to me, his name--" Therese had never been outside of Austria, so he could have been Brazilian for all she knew. She was also gullible-- extremely so. "Now, stop it...! He said he's a d-duke--" She was cut off when someone who wasn't a paranoid Russian or a supposedly French aristocrat had given her a choice to dance... and was snapped at. Her eyes looked as if they were ready to fall out of her head.

Especially when she was grabbed. If she was a louder person, she might have screamed. As it was, she could only clutch at her corset and gasp and hiccup, eyes wide. What an opportune moment to have a panic attack. She could only point with her other free hand down a hallway (hadn't he ridden in the coach with them? He must have still been sicker than she thought) while everything around her neck, head, and waist seemed to be slowly suffocating her-- she could almost see them constricting, in her panic.

Zeff-- or, the Duke... he hadn't even figured out what his fake first name was-- was decidedly more easygoing. Quickly taking a look at the footwork of the other dancers, he took the hand that she shook at him in his and started coaxing her out to dance. "I've been all over Europe trying to find a beautiful wife and when I do, she's already engaged?" Grinning, he added with a shrug, "Well, engagements are made to be broken, right? Otherwise she'd be married already." He looked after the two, only seeing the tail end of her dress before it disappeared. "Who's she engaged to, that man? He's awfully fresh in public, huh?" This place had never seen the real meaning of the word.

Still holding onto her hand, his other hand reached into his vest pocket to mockingly bring out a shining pocketwatch. "And why are you so accusing me? I'm not here for you, am I?" It seemed like more of an open ended question than a statement.
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PostSubject: Re: Unlikely Attendees   Unlikely Attendees EmptyTue Jun 26, 2012 1:03 am

He was prepared to head in whatever direction she indicated, even if it lead straight into a wall, so eager he was to get out of there. Without sparing anything another thought, he let go and made a run for it, effectively ditching her to have her panic attack, alone. Normally, he wouldn't have cared--or even have thought to care. In moments of high paranoia, he was hardly thinking rationally enough to look out for anyone other than himself. Especially since he was usually convinced at those times that anyone other than himself was out to get him.

The doorway was in sight. However far he was prepared to run was beyond him; he might have made it halfway or more across town before he calmed down enough to stop. As it was, though, he didn't even make it halfway down the hall. Because at that point, something made him stop.

He looked back. He could still see her from there.

Acting on impulse as always--though for once, he was moving impulsively against his first impulse--he went back and pulled her away for a second time that evening. Pushing people aside rudely as they got in the way, he practically burst through the doors to get out into the open air. The smell of freedom.

...Almost. As they were the front doors, there were still people around: latecomers to the party. Without even pausing to assess the situation, he took off along the side of the building and away from it, until they reached some grass and trees. Then, and only then, did he stop.

"Okay," he said shakily, coming down somewhat from his near-manic state, "We're safe here."

--

She nearly yanked her hand out of his again, but they had already joined the ranks of the other dancers. Wonderful. Gritting her teeth, she followed his lead stiffly--it wasn't that she couldn't dance, but neither was it an activity she regularly partook in. It was too frivolous for her tastes.

"Oh please," she scoffed, "She isn't married yet because her fiancee is in Portugal; she'll be going there to live with him." And then Annelie would be left behind, without a job. She tried not to think about that. She didn't have to, though, when it was suggested that Lev may have been the gentleman in question. She actually laughed at the idea, "Don't be ridiculous, he's practically a tramp!" Quickly stilling her mirth, she returned to a stern manner, "And my gut instinct would tell me that you are, too, if not for this get-up. If you try anything with the mistress, I'll pull your ear off of your head." Her deadly serious expression suggested that that was a promise.
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PostSubject: Re: Unlikely Attendees   Unlikely Attendees EmptyTue Jun 26, 2012 4:14 am

Her head was swimming from the lack of oxygen, and she was hyperventilating-- not that anyone in the preoccupied room would have noticed. All because someone had touched her uncovered shoulders (someone that wasn't family or worked for them), and she was already nervous, before then. Lev had left her alone there-- and where was Annelie? She was always there when Therese was in trouble, but suddenly she was gone. And Therese felt like she was about to die of suffocation-- but... the thought struck her: soon, she wouldn't have anyone to calm her down. Annelie would be gone for good. Her breathing accelerated, she felt the dark creeping into her vision, and was almost certain she was about to die. In a way, she was glad she didn't have to jump off of something. She just would have rather not passed on wearing the gaudy dress.

As if her minor prayer was answered, she was pulled away and outside to the cold...by Lev? The low temperature shocked her out of her panic, and once he'd stopped running, she dropped to her knees in the grass, laying her head on the tops of her knees and curling into a ball to try and steady her breathing. After a few moments, she looked up, and still breathless, looked to him incredulously... and angrily. "You... You were just going to leave me there...?!"

After she'd dragged his limp, sick body all the way to her home and had begged her brother and her maid to let him stay. He couldn't even first think to help anyone but himself when he saw what was happening to her, and suspected a charlatan trying to get to her for unknown reasons.

Suffice it to say, she was very upset. At least she hadn't died in that dress.

------------------------------------------------------

What was Portugal? Didn't matter. "Oh, please," He mimicked her. He'd read the sensational stories in the newspapers in Odessa. Nobody rich ever valued fidelity. But he was supposed to be a rich person tonight, and just barely caught himself from mentioning that he'd only read it in newspapers. "My father himself had a lotta mistresses, and my mother...more than that o' male friends..." He himself had almost no romantic experience except for hanging around in brothels where he eavesdropped on conversations while the prostitutes treated him like a precious spoiled child. "You can't deny that he must've taken advantage of my showing up to pull her away... for what, I'm sure you can imagine." He couldn't.

He faked looking affronted. "Well, clearly now I won't try anything, apparently she's tied down by commitment-- to that man out there," He pointed to the direction Lev had disappeared to. "To you, apparently, and to her 'fiancée'." He sighed. "It's a shame, I'm not s'posed to go home 'til I'm married." That was probably the biggest lie he'd told that day.
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PostSubject: Re: Unlikely Attendees   Unlikely Attendees EmptySat Jun 30, 2012 1:56 am

He himself was still recovering from the paranoia attack, checking around the trees in their immediate area, squinting against the darkness, to make sure no one had somehow tailed them. They'd probably find him soon; there was no guarantee that he'd gotten away. He needed to go into hiding...put some distance between them and him, at the very least...

Inner monologue interrupted, he snapped back, equally upset, "I'd already be out of town by now if I had!" She was weighing him down--no, he checked himself. The chill in the air was stunning the hysteria out of him, as well, and he reconsidered that train of thought. If he'd left her there, they might have taken her in for questioning, as they undoubtedly knew they were acquainted, by now. For the time being, it was best if he kept an eye on her. It would have been simpler to explain it to her so she'd know to keep her mouth shut, but no doubt it wouldn't go over well if he informed her that she could be in danger, just for knowing him. 

But then, he himself might have been a worse threat than the okhrana to her safety. He'd already made the hasty decision that, if there were signs that she were going to be taken in for questioning, he would just kidnap her first. And then what, he didn't know. But he was more than willing to arbitrarily uproot her life in order to save his own.

That said, he wasn't completely selfish, or mean-spirited. He hadn't, after all, revealed to her the reason for his sudden flight, and so naturally it would look very much like he'd just tried to ditch her, for which he didn't exactly feel great about. "...Sorry," as per usual, he lacked tact even when it mattered. "Maybe I had a momentary lapse in judgment," he conceded, frowning, "To be fair, it's not really a rare occurrence." He wasn't stupid, he could figure that much out. ...Occasionally.

Now what? It was bitter out, even in the considerably warmer clothes they'd stuck him in. And she didn't even have anything around her shoulders--he only noticed it because he'd grabbed them not moments ago. Perhaps another thoughtless move, but at least it facilitated him realizing she might be cold. 

Shrugging off his jacket, he held it out for her, "Here--unless you're fond of doing mental exercises to not acknowledge things like the cold. I do that, sometimes. ...But it's not always very enjoyable, so you probably ought not to."

--

"Well," she sounded scandalized that he had the nerve to compare Therese to anyone like that. A single affair was one thing--and scandalous enough, in itself--but multiple ones? Even if he was being completely honest, how could he be so shameless as to admit it? "The mistress is not that sort of young lady; she would never do anything of that nature." Maybe not so much because she didn't dream of it, as because she didn't dare to try. 

Her new philosopher friend definitely would have dared, though, if he were inclined to. But Annelie had the impression by that point that he wasn't--it was perhaps the only thing he had going for him, in her eyes. Which she rolled. "I certainly could imagine. He's probably filling her head with some nonsense about Sherlock Holmes and Descartes, right now." Or whoever. She didn't know or care, honestly.

"Hmph," she clicked her tongue, "Well, you're one-third right." She had a commitment to her fiancee. Hopefully none to the Russian. And certainly none to Annelie. Not out of malice; she didn't doubt that they were friends. But in the end, she was really only a servant, to be replaced by a Portuguese one, who knew the Portuguese fashions, customs, language, and important people. Who would all-around be more beneficial to her. It was just a fact. Annelie told herself that she accepted it, even if she didn't like to think of what would happen to her, afterward.

"I'm very sorry to hear that you'll never see home again," she quipped briskly in response to his supposed woes. Albeit with a hint of a smile.
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PostSubject: Re: Unlikely Attendees   Unlikely Attendees EmptyMon Jul 02, 2012 9:45 pm

Once one leaves someone in a panic, someone who believes they are going to die, the fragile trust they held is shattered. Like his own creeping paranoia, she had started to think that he was incapable of doing any good at all, and was just out to cause as much chaos and havoc as he could on people who were stupid enough to care. She thought he was an intellectual, but he was a bum like any other, who happened to have an extensive vocabulary. If she had wanted to hear about the cave before, she nearly had no desire to then. He had left her for dead-- it didn't matter that he had come back. She had been left alone and he had only remembered her moments after, becoming everything she was afraid of about the world. That she was something so insignificant no one would care if she was alive or dead-- her parents were sending her all the way to the coast after all, presumably never to see her again, to a man she'd never met who could decide on a whim to toss her out on the street and there there would be no Annelie to do anything about it.

If she'd known the reason he had bolted off so quickly, she would have questioned why he thought he was so important. They'd sent his friends to prison or the gallows and yes, that was something frightening-- but if he was out of the country (so far out), then he was as much of a problem as they were. Her idealism had worn thin with him. A disenfranchised Therese was a jarringly unsettling thing. As if the weather had responded to her newfound coldness, it started to snow. Noticing, she took the jacket out of his hands (maybe if it was actually his, she wouldn't have), and muttered icily, "You don't have to lie to me; you've always stood by your convictions up to this point. Why is this anything different?"

If she was as worthless to him as she believed he thought she was, then she would offer the same deal to him. She pulled the jacket over her shoulders and turned. "I'm going inside." Let him leave town if he wanted to, leave the city, leave the country. "There's no walls around Vienna anymore-- if you start running, you won't have to stop."

-----------------------------------------------

"Ah, Descartes--" Zeff grinned. "I went to school with him." Descartes was a french name, right?

He scoffed at her defeatedly. She was unbudgeable. He loved to get shocked reactions from people-- right before making them laugh, of course. But she wasn't doing either... except when she was making fun of him.

[i]"I'm very sorry to hear that you'll never see home again,"/i]

For a long moment, he looked at her, horrified. As if she knew, until he realized there was no possible way she could. It was a shock to his system, someone giving him condolences (albeit fake) that he would never see his mother or family again-- that they had no idea he was gone, and never going back.

He laughed it off shakily. "Well, you know, I suppose that's what I deserve for having too much love for just one woman."
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PostSubject: Re: Unlikely Attendees   Unlikely Attendees EmptyWed Jul 04, 2012 1:08 pm

If her trust was best likened to something fragile--like a globe of blown glass, a crystal heart made for sitting on a shelf, never touched for fear of falling and breaking--then his was comparable to a dandelion seed. Constantly wavering, constantly blown about in the wind, equally fragile. Equally fearful. Not of breaking, but of the fall coming to an end. If he set root somewhere in Siberia, there was no possible way he could grow--he didn't want to set root at all. He wanted to fly. The wind and the gravity were his enemies, and he had to be constantly vigilant of them.

So when she coldly announced that she was going back in, something 'clicked', as he (to his mind) narrowly avoided a particularly strong gale. Of course it had been this way, the whole time.

"You don't want me to lie to you?" He repeated with a short, high-strung and humorless laugh, "Alright--" Spinning her around, once again by the shoulders, he glared at her, "I've got it figured out; did you think I wouldn't recognize that that man in there is really a Russian? An okhrana agent? It was obvious, I could hear his accent. And it figures that the liar here is actually you," he accused, looking disgusted. Of course they were in cahoots. Of course, it all made sense now, why else would she drag him to this stupid party? To turn him over at the opportune moment! Whatever kindness or willingness to listen she'd showed him before that, was clearly a ruse just to get more information on him. And he almost fell for it.

"You want the truth?" This time he really did shake her, "I'm a revolutionary, yes, but do you even understand why I'm here? Why I'm on the run? Do you know what 'propaganda of the deed' is?" He let go, pushing her away from him lightly, "There's more to spreading ideas than just throwing around fliers and lecturing people. I'm a terrorist--I belong to a terrorist organization. Narodnaya Volya. There, now you can go back in and tell that man everything he wants to know."

It didn't matter, though, because as far as he was concerned, he was already gone. She had his old clothes, his papers, and it was too unsafe to go back to his apartment, now. He would have to leave everything behind. Trade or sell these awful clothes for some more practical ones, catch a ride out of the country, find a quick job to do for quick money, change his name, his appearance... And if he'd considered kidnapping her before, he certainly didn't want anything to do with her, now. She was no longer a friend unwittingly caught up in his problems. She was an enemy. A backstabber.

"I thought you were different, but you're all the same," he muttered darkly, before turning to escape into the night.

People who lived in the dark were all the same.

--

She snorted, "He's dead. Been dead a long time." Even she, a housemaid, knew that. Surely a Frenchman of any social standing would. "Where are you actually from? You might as well just cut the nonsense and say so." It wasn't as if she cared enough about this man to care enough to know, but lies bothered her, and she could smell through most of them. And his were especially ridiculous, which only fueled her desire to get to the truth.

His reaction to her prodding, though, had been unexpected. Apparently she'd struck a nerve. Feeling bad--she was prickly, yes, but at her core, she was a mothering type...of the overbearing variety--she almost apologized, but he laughed it off before she could. Raising an eyebrow, she struggled with the temptation to interrogate him further.

But it seemed to be a touchy subject, so she dropped it, and instead remarked frankly, "You make no sense at all."
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PostSubject: Re: Unlikely Attendees   Unlikely Attendees EmptySat Jul 07, 2012 9:35 pm

She would take as much emotional abuse as one could dish out, but she had too many convictions (for someone who knew so little of the real world) to be called a liar. Maybe her mind should have registered the word "terrorist", but as it stood she was too angry. And she was too angry to understand that for once she had showed an emotion besides fear and trepidation.

Deciding to not quite head inside, she still made her way towards the building, and looked up at it-- the jacket found its way to the ground in the process. Taking a deep breath, she took off her uncomfortable shoes and began to scale the building. It wasn't so difficult, as long as she took large steps. She was going far-- she even looked up at the sky and smiled. Nowhere to go but up.

Then she looked down. And all of her plans went to hell as her mind shut down in sheer, freezing terror.

She clutched onto a ledge with her fingers and toes rapidly growing numb. For a while she couldn't even speak-- only squeaks would come out. "Lev...?" Was he still even there? "I'm n-not a liar, I swear...!" She meant everything she said about wanting to be a different person... but he had left her halfway through her transformation and she was halfway up a building. She could practically hear Annelie berating her already.

-------------------------------------------

He went through a myriad of emotions before he simply looked defeated-- was he supposed to mourn Descartes? How long had this mystery person been dead? Should he say it was just a joke?-- and blew a curl off his forehead, spinning them out of the crowd of dancers and finally letting her go. "My name is Zeff Mendelstam. I'm a jew, and I'm not from France." He threw up his hands, as if to say 'surprise!'
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PostSubject: Re: Unlikely Attendees   Unlikely Attendees EmptyTue Aug 14, 2012 12:42 am

Lev, in perfect contrast, had decided precisely to head right back inside, despite making what had overtly seemed like a break for it. After doubling around the long way, he reentered the opera house, looking just as deranged as he did disheveled. That okhrana agent was still in there, and he needed to know what he knew. In all likeliness, he knew too much, and if that was the case, the Russian terrorist wasn't about to let him get away. Even if it meant that this night had to be someone's last.

Snatching a long, decorative pin out of a woman's hair as she was turned away, he shoved past people around the dance floor and to locate the still-dancing imposter and maid. Grab him from behind, press the pin into his jugular, threaten to stab him to death, drag him away... He was preparing himself to make a move when the couple suddenly spun away. Cursing under his breath, he ducked back into the crowd and approached them again from a new angle as they stood still, snippets of dialogue and scenery registering in his mind as if from a badly damaged film reel.

"...name is Zeff..."

The maid's furrowed eyebrows...

"...not from France..."

...a look of consternation or dismissal...?

A shriek of surprise as he leapt out and caught the man in a headlock. But before he could utter a single crazed threat, he froze and stared past the horrified maid, eyes bugged out as far as they could go. In the window behind her, he caught a glimpse of what were unmistakably Therese's skirts disappearing upwards.

For a moment, he did nothing as time seemed to stand still. He had no idea how to react, not even on sheer impulse. What on earth was she doing? Finally, he pushed the man away, letting the maid catch him. The hair pin fell to the ground with the faintest of clatters. He was running for the stairs, heart pounding wildly with fear--for what? Was he afraid that she was doing something to compromise his safety or her own? He didn't know. He didn't have the faintest idea of what was happening, not even a wild conjecture. He only knew that it was something bad.

Flying up two flights of stairs, he burst into what he assumed was the room directly above the spot she had been in and tore open the windows, letting in a flurry of snowflakes. Leaning over the windowsill, he saw that he has overestimated how high she had gone. She seemed to have stopped.

"Lev...? I'm n-not a liar, I swear...!"

His breath caught in his throat. How did she know he was there, when she hadn't even seen him? With one girl's fate in his unreliable hands and no inclination towards what to do with it one way or the other, he found himself shouting to her desperately over the howl of the wind, hand extended but just out of reach, "Give me a good reason why I should trust you!"

He wasn't sure if he was commanding or begging.
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PostSubject: Re: Unlikely Attendees   Unlikely Attendees EmptyWed Aug 15, 2012 2:38 am

Apparently Zeff wasn't the one doing the surprising. He didn't know who was locking his head, but he knew he was trapped and that there would be no reason to attack him unless he'd been found. But he was not as paranoid as Lev, and knew it was more likely that someone had recognized him as the man who had stolen their wallet.

He didn't have to flail for long before he was freed, breathless and shoved (as well as Annelie, but he didn't quite notice at the time that he'd broken her fall) into a table. Struggling to catch all the tumbling glassware as not to draw attention to himself, he only had two hands... and ended up doing it anyway. Looking disheveled, he looked at the near silent crowd like a boy who had pretended to be a man and was found out. He'd never been anywhere away from home before. He'd never been rich before. Looking wide-eyed at Annelie, he bolted just as Lev did, but erratically, running into tables and servers and dancers, completely unlike how fluidly he approached the world prior.

He didn't know where he was going, he just knew he went-- just as he had when he left Odessa. Clearly this was the wrong place to end up. Stopping finally when he'd reached the now empty theatre, he sat on the stage, feet dangling over the edge into the orchestra pit, trying his best not to cry. Sure, no one was in the theatre, but it was also a place made for acoustics.

---------------------------------------------

Therese very nearly let go when his voice startled her. The wind had confused her ears-- with her face pressed up against the side of the building, not daring to look down or up, to what was surely a long way to go. She thought he had come back, and was waiting at the ground for her (Oh, God, could he see up her dress??).

"You said...!" She squeaked, hoping she was heard, "You said that people were all the same...! But look-- would everyone... do this...!?" She laughed sadly and breathlessly. "No...! Only a crazy person... I'm a crazy person, Mr. Morozov, and you can trust me because you're a crazy person too...!!! And I climbed this building" She was gaining enthusiasm in her voice with every time her feet slipped on the ledge. "because once you stood on my balcony and weren't afraid... and I want to not be afraid too..." But it didn't work. "If... If I fall, will you catch me?" She had hardly a choice in the decision to fall or not to fall, anyways, so she hoped he agreed.
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