Twenty Questions


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Summary: Gwen gives Grant twenty questions, hoping enough information to satisfy his curiosity will make him go away.

Date It Happened: December 21, 2001

Log Title Twenty Questions


It's evening and Caritas has a crowd. This is not surprising, because honestly, Caritas frequently has a crowd. Presently on stage a pair of vampires are performing 'Seperate Lives' from White Nights. What's particularly funny about it is that they're both men and obviously queer as two dollar bills. Ahh, eternal love. They're not even half bad.

Gwen sits on a stool at the bar, drinking her Redcoat and absently twirling the swizzle stick around in a clockwise motion. Her hair's tied back in a bun at the nape of her neck, her red silk cocktail dress reminiscient of a kimono, her arms, up past the elbows, clad in white silk gloves. She has no intention of getting up and singing, but there's a pair dancing together slightly off to one side, and she spends a bit of time just watching them, not allowing her envy to show on her face.

Despite his latest research project, Grant didn't actually follow Gwen here. Not really. He's not an unfamiliar face around Caritas, but he's certainly no frequent either (karaoke is really not his cuppa). He just happened to be in the right place at the right time, right? No stalking involved. Mabye. Whatever the case may be, the bartender soon shows up in front of Gwen with another Redcoat containing another swizzle stick, double vodka. "From the gentleman at the end of the bar," he explains, pointing down the way to Grant. The man is dressed well in his typical suit ensemble, but it's fairly casual as it lacks a tie and the coat and top buttons of his shirt are undone. He offers a faint smile.

Gwen turns her head to look down the bar, and the expression on her face is both evident and eloquent: Jesus god, didn't I get rid of you? Still, she manages a tight smile and lifts the glass in salute, then gets about the task of drinking, turning on her stool to watch the bar. One hand holds the drink, the other arm is arched back to rest against the bar rail. Maybe if she pretends he's not there, he'll go away.

Fat chance. Though he doesn't approach right away, it's only a minute or so before Grant is nudging his way onto the stool next to Gwen, sliding his glass forward for a refill. As the bartender goes to fetch that, he turns his attention to Gwen — and the dance floor she was watching earlier. "How anyone could dance to that squawking is anyone's guess," he remarks offhandedly.

Gwen gives a little shrug of her shoulders. "Let the kiddies have their fun. Thanks for the drink." she adds, because being polite in public is generally a good idea. Keeping her gaze toward the tables in front of the stage and the patrons seated there, she inquires, "Look, is there something you want? Because really, for a guy who claims he's not stalking me, you sure are well, stalking me."

"Says the woman who broke into my house not last week," Grant chuckles dryly. "Don't flatter yourself. I was here and you happened to walk in." He gives a grateful nod to the man behind the bar as his refill is delivered, then turns around on the stool, adopting much the same position as Gwen. His gaze, however, sweeps over the 'singers' onstage, then back to the dance floor. "But since you asked, I wouldn't be opposed to a dance." And down goes a sip of brandy.
"I didn't." Gwen points out patiently, "And I don't. Dance, that is."

"I know, which is a crying shame. I'm sure you would look enchanting on the floor." Grant turns his eyes on the woman beside him and once again sizes her up — though this one is not quite as subtle as the other moments. "The way you were mooning over that pair over there, however, would suggest that you would like to dance." Or she's envious of the contact, but he refrains from mentioning that one.

Gwen turns around to the bar and sets her redcoat down. "Why are you bothering me?" she asks bluntly. "I don't have anything you want. Trust me on this, you have enough money, you don't need mine. Are you just tomcatting around me because it amuses you?"

The simple answer is 'yes', but Grant doesn't like simple answers. They're dull. So he goes for the extended version: smiling, he shrugs just a little and takes another sip from his drink. "Perhaps. Truthfully, I find you fascinating, and that's a rare thing for a man such as myself. Is it a crime to enjoy someone's company without wanting something from them?"
Gwen openly laughs, as if Grant has told an extraordinarily funny joke. "Everybody wants something." she says. "It's pretty much the basis for human interaction." Her gaze turns to a slime demon nursing a Sex on the Beach. "Well, person interaction, at any rate."

"It's true, we're selfish creatures. But not every 'something' is malicious. I just want to satisfy a bit of curiosity." Grant downs more brandy, then turns on his stool to rest his elbows on the bar and smile sidelong at Gwen. "And a dance." That too.

"I don't dance." She sips her drink, swirls the stick. "You can have twenty questions. I refuse the right to answer any of them. Then you can satisfy your curiosity." And leave her alone.

Hmm. Grant considers a moment before finally turning on the stool to fully face Gwen, leaning with one elbow on the bar. It's a lot easier to watch her this way, which aids in the process of reading subtle physical cues — but it also serves the more diabolical purpose of making his own inherent abilities easier to use. It's not full-force, but Grant is slowly turning up the heat. His eyes are just the tiniest bit brighter, though it's not really noticeable. "Do you not dance because you never learned, or because you're prevented from dancing for obvious reasons?"

Of course, unless she's fully facing him, he has her profile. Which he does. "I am not so obviously, I should think, prevented from dancing, and as such I've never learned." Gwen's mouth, very red from expert application of lipstick, curves in a smirk. "That's one."

But Grant isn't letting up. The subtle dazzling continues, increasing gradually in intensity. It would be more effective if Gwen were looking at him, but it doesn't need eye contact to work. "What's your name?"

Gwen looks momentarily uncomfortable, licking her lips and darting him a sidelong look. "Gwen." She shifts in her seat, the arch of one foot rubbing against the ankle of the other. "And that's two." She keeps her eyes on her cocktail glass.

That gets a smirk, but Grant doesn't press it. He already knew her first name. "Animal, vegetable, or mineral?" As he said once before, he much prefers to figure things out for himself. Interrogation has its place, but this is not it — and still the heat continues to rise. He finishes off his brandy and pushes the glass back toward the bartender before asking for water. After two glasses, he's done with the alcohol for one night.
"Mineral, of course. I like shiny things." Three gloved fingers indicate how many he's gotten so far, and then close around the swizzle stick, the end of which is worried with those red lips. She doesn't even seem she's aware of doing it.

But Grant is, and it only causes his smile to grow. He takes in a breath of air discreetly through his nostrils — perhaps an exercise in futility in such an odious place, but hopefully the proximity affords a whiff — and shifts his weight just a hair: a nice, subtle way to tip just a fraction of an inch closer to her. "Where did you get the forgery you gave me?" Yes, he knows it's a forgery.

Gwen pauses in the midst of worrying that little swizzle stick - Gwen may be a novice at some sports, but she understands all about the preliminaries. That red smirk remains in place. "I'll have to pass on that one." She sets the swizzle stick down. "But I'm sure you realize it's the thought that counts. Four."

"Does it work through clothing, or is it … skin-to-skin contact?" Grant remains where he is, not pressing the proximity, but not drawing away either. He lowers his voice on the last question, still upping the ampage. His eyes are noticeably brighter now, but it could be a trick of the light, couldn't it?

It's warm in here, and absently Gwen's gaze drifts sidelong, the bare arch of her neck exposed. A few vampires briefly look her way, but don't even bother making an effort to walk over. The rules in Caritas are strictly enforced. "Silk helps." she says. But prolonged contact through it can be a problem if I'm not careful." She lifts her hand, waggling all five fingers. "Getting bored yet?"

Grant is also eyeing that bare patch of skin, but not because he would like to bite it — or at least not in the same way a vampire might want to bite it. "Not quite." It's only a fleeting glance anyway, before his attention returns to Gwen's face, the smirk creeping back onto his lips. "Then you could dance. There are several dances that have only a little contact." The corner of his lips goes up even further, as does the effect of the dazzling. "But it's not brief contact you really want, is it?"

"Casual touches are just as dangerous as deliberately being held in someone's arms." Gwen points out. "Even if I were to get out on a dance floor and make with the boogie wonderland, bumping into someone, or someone getting the idea that a bump and grind might be fun could potentially end badly." Passing on his question would be just as bad as answering, and so, "Given my situation, of course. But you can't always get what you want." Especially when you're a freak. "Six questions, you're going on at a pretty good clip."

"I don't like to waste time." One could take that to mean several different things, and Grant doesn't add anything to fix that. "Are you in control of the intensity?" Like he is right now, keeping things carefully in the realm of 'noticeable signals'. "Is a shock through silk less intense than one from bare skin?"

"The silk provides insulation." Gwen says. "But only so much. It serves my purposes for getting by day to day." She takes another sip of her redcoat, puts it down frowning, and flags the bartender to switch her to water.

That gets a grin from Grant, but he directs it somewhere over her shoulder. It's not the alcohol, but she doesn't have to know that. His attention is soon back on her. "Will you touch me?" He even phrases it as a question so that it counts.
"Nope." is her succinct reply. Her drink is traded, but she keeps her swizzel stick, absently using it to stir the water.

"Why not?" There's another one. "Would it help if I were grounded or touching metal?" And another. They're not persistent, asked more in a casual sort of tone. He could be asking for the time.

"Because I'm not sure if Caritas' mystical ordinances from violence would prevent me from killing you accidentally. And metal's a conductor so that would be a bad, bad idea." Gwen shakes her head at that. That's basic science, really. "You're halfway through your questions, Mr. Galton. Or did you think I was losing track?" She fires off a grin.

Which is returned in kind. "Not at all. And we could always go outside, you know." The last is offered with a spike in vibes, hopefully lending a little more weight to the suggestion. Unless she's not really a killer at heart. It would rule out the 'assassin' part of his 'thief-and-assassin' theory. "Think of it this way: if it kills me, I won't bother you again — and if it doesn't, then maybe I'll lose interest and leave you alone."

Gwen shakes her head. "I'm not particularly interested in having to deal with a corpse, thanks. And you're lucky that was a suggestion, and not a question. Though I have a question for you." Her eyes regard him sharply. "Why wouldn't it bother you?"

Grant is wholly unruffled by the question or the sharp look. He merely returns it with something much less cutting. "Why wouldn't what bother me?" Oops, another question.

"What I can do." Gwen says, and then, there's a slowly spreading smile. "You haven't figured it out," she said delightedly, "Have you? My god, a highly educated lawyer complete with shiny shoes and ridiculous figure salary can't put together basic science concepts."

"You mean your ability to electrocute others with a touch?" Another. Do rhetorical questions count? He cocks his head to one side slightly, but he keeps his brightened eyes fixed on Gwen. "I've figured it out. Now I want to know what it's like."

"Twelve, and no. You work for Wolfram and Hart. Electrocuting one of their lawyers is not on my itinerary of things to do or high on my list of people to piss off." Gwen's pretty firm about that. "If you know what I can do, why would you assume I can't effect you? Unless you're a freak too."

There's that F-word again. Grant keeps his reaction to it carefully controlled, but it does still cause an internal flinch. "I don't assume it won't affect me, as I'm sure it would. I'm only human, after all. But I am curious as to how much power you can generate, and if it only affects the people you touch, then there is only one way to test that, isn't there?"

"I'm not interested in being your lab rat." Gwen says, bridling. The world's sexiest man is not going to keep her from getting peevish about that. And the way she says 'freak'? Almost possessive, like a badge. Daring him to make something ill of it. "Thirteen. Seven left."

"I'm not interested in making you one," is Grant's flat, neutral response. "I apologize if it came across as such." That one's less neutral and more sincere. "Would you be interested in a job?"

"Maybe." she says. "It would depend on the details, and the fee. Down to six." Gwen's watching him carefully.

Grant smiles again and withdraws a pen and notepad from an inner pocket of his jacket. "I have a friend who is a wine aficionado, and there is a rare bottle I have been trying to find for him. I managed to locate one, however the owner is not interested in selling." As he speaks, he jots down an address, tears off the page, and extends it toward Gwen between the tips of his index and middle fingers. "It would be the perfect Christmas present. I will pay whatever you feel the job is worth."

Gwen peers at the page, and looks back at him. "Are you kidding me? I'd need to know any and all security details regarding his property in general and the wine in particular, what wine bottle I'm looking for, and a net worth on it. And believe me when I say I do verify the research on the latter."

"All that is easily discussed over dinner," responds Grant smoothly, giving the slip of paper a little inviting lift with his fingers, "at this address tomorrow night. I'll have blueprints and security details then." As before, the suggestion is accompanied by a push in the ongoing dazzle. "Interested?" Fifteen.

Gwen is still visibly leery of Grant. "Maybe. You're a player, and I can't help but assume there's more to this for you then just my scoping a bottle of wine that you're willing to throw an infinite amount of money on." She looks down at the address to see where it is. "You want to have dinner there and have me steal something from the same location?"

"Don't be ridiculous. The address is for a nice little Italian restaurant on the Westside. The target house is different." Grant grins at being called a player. What a funny word! "I wouldn't call myself a 'player', but regardless of my promiscuity or lack thereof, it should be of no concern to you. I obviously can't touch you."

"A player isn't just someone who's promiscuous. It's someone who likes to play games." She rests her elbow on the bar, her chin in her hand. "You know…a player. But I won't turn down a free meal." Provided of course, he doesn't show up with a van of WRH black ops mercs that she'll have to kill. That would damage her calm. "You have five more questions."

Grant smirks, dropping the address on the bar and taking up his water. "I do enjoy games, however this is legitimate." Even if it happens to be part of his own little game. It's still a real job with real money. "I think I'll save my remaining five questions until dinner. Still such a pity about the dance, though." He really does regret that one.

"Do you have some kind of electrocution kink?" she asks, bemused. "And the twenty questions are a one night only offer. Use them or lose them. At best, you'll get a nasty electrical burn. At worst, I'll stop your heart." She could restart it again, but doesn't mention that.

"I have never been electrocuted before," says Grant with a grin, "so I could hardly have a kink. But I would be willing to risk it. Call it morbid curiosity. Besides, if you wanted to, I'm sure you could defibrillate a stopped heart." She doesn't need to mention it. "And you made no mention of the twenty questions being limited to tonight."

"It's a woman's perogative to change her mind, and the rules." Gwen says. "I could decide you don't get anymore beyond the fifteen you've gotten. Not that I intend to change my mind about electrocuting you, because I won't."

"Even if it's the only thing that will get me to leave you alone?" Sixteen. "You must not be desperate enough." He takes a drink from his glass before lowering it to the bar again. "Who was the last person you touched?"

Gwen lifts a brow. "You take exception to the fact that I don't want to kill you?" She shrugs. "It's been so long…I honestly don't remember."

Grant shakes his head, nudging his glass away from himself with the tips of his fingers. "Not quite. It tells me that you don't enjoy killing, which means you are not also an assassin as I had first thought. You're merely a thief. Your prickly front and hesitance to get close to others could be a side-effect of this mentality, but it could also be indicative of abandonment sometime during your life and fear of having it repeated. Perhaps a lover or family member, but you are human, so naturally you still want a certain closeness to someone else." He casts a glance at her from the corner of his brilliant eye. "Am I close?"

Gwen grins. "I'm not merely a thief. I'm a damn good thief. And no, I don't enjoy killing - which is why I hesitate to get close to others, on account of the making people dead. I got the clue right around the third gardener, or maybe the fourth nanny." She takes a sip of water. "You're down to three."

"No doubt owing to your abnormally fast reflexes and your ability to bypass electrical security systems." He folds his hands in front of him and turns his head to regard Gwen again. "Nannies and gardeners, but not your parents. They must have been distant. What if I were to tell you that I am … different?" He doesn't use the word 'freak'. It's a foul word.

"I might believe you. Wolfram and Hart isn't exactly LA Law." Gwen replies. "But depending on just how different you are, I might show you mine if you show me yours."

Now there's a slippery slope. "Mine is subtle: higher intelligence, and an ability to pick up on the smell of human pheromones. I also have a certain … charm, shall we say? You might not have noticed it, but I've been showing you mine since I sat down." And just to emphasize it, Grant sends another spike in the vibes. "Though this is very low-key in comparison to what I can actually do."

"And what is it that you actually do?" asks Gwen, arching a brow. Her tone is slightly challenging, with a hint of 'impress me'.

Grant grins again. It's a very amused expression, almost disbelieving. Then again, he's never told anyone about what he can do and had them ask to be hit full-tilt. "You really want it full force?" Even as he says it, he's already heating things up further. It's a dramatic leap, perhaps even a little dizzying and most definitely uncomfortable in places.

Gwen abruptly sucks on the corner of her lip, a hand gripping the bar. "Wait," she says, shaking her head as if to clear it. "That's you? This…" she trails off, willing herself to focus. It's just hormones, Gwen! "That's two left." She looks at him, or more particularly, his mouth.

"Mm-hmm." Grant can't help but smile. It's not his fault if he enjoys the results of his little hormonal manipulation. He didn't ask to be born with this nose. He once again shifts his weight, this time to the elbow nearest Gwen — another subtle tilt in her direction that allows him to lower his head and his voice still further. He's still at an acceptable distance, however, and as quickly as the rise in temperature occurred, it starts to drop again to its previous level. "Now, then, let's see yours."

"Caritas may interfere." she says. "It's protected against violence, so it might protect you some." But with the languid air of a burlesque dancer, she reaches for the top of one glove and starts to slide it off. The bare hand is lifted, blue-white electricity arcing along it in shimmery shockwaves. "Are you sure?"

To say that Grant isn't the slightest bit nervous about this would be a lie, however it's overwhelmed by sheer curiosity and easily quelled. Why should he fear a woman's touch anyway? "If Caritas is going to protect me, then this is the best place to try it," he utters. Caritas might not protect him. It's not like she's being violent on purpose.

"Then I guess you better pay my tab so we can step outside. And you still have two." Gwen gets up from her stool and starts heading for the door.

Another smirk from Grant, but he doesn't protest. Never one to pass up a good view, he glances over his shoulder to watch Gwen walk away as he reaches into his pocket for his wallet. It's only a matter of shelling out a few bills and some polite chatter before he's following after her. Quite an adventure this will be.

As soon as they're outside, past the guards and in the street, Gwen turns. "Give me your hand." she says. "I can't believe I'm letting you do this. If you die, it is so not my fault."

"Just bring me back afterward and I'll explain everything was my idea," Grant assures rather dryly. There's only the slightest bit of hesitation on his part before he smirks and extends his hand toward her in the manner of a gentleman asking a lady to dance, complete with a bend in the waist and a bow of his head. "Milady." The humor makes it easier. No, really.

Gwen just shakes her head. This is crazy. But she seizes his hand, and gritting her teeth, the electricity, not metaphorical but very, very literal, flows between them.

But there's nothing on Grant's end. No convulsions, no jerking backward in pain or alarm, nothing. So there he stands, silent a moment as he expects some sort of delayed reaction, but there is none. Just a hand. Save for the unusual heat, Gwen's hand is no different than any other woman's hand. After a couple seconds' silence, he straightens with an inquisitive frown and gives that hand a gentle pull in an attempt to bring it closer for examination. "Your hand is very warm," he remarks casually.

Gwen looks completely thrown off. "Why aren't you toast?" she demands, withdrawing her hand, even as there is a visible crackling of electrical energy surging between their connected skin. "What kind of freak are you?" she demands.

That word again. "One that is apparently unaffected by this," Grant states flatly, though some edginess peeks through. He's distracted momentarily by smoke emitting from his pocket and, after a less-than-dignified scramble, he comes up with his cell phone. The battery is shot, the circuit boards fried, and it's hot to the touch, so he quickly drops it to the asphalt. "I seem to conduct well."

Gwen stares at him a moment, looks down at the destroyed cell, and then back to him. "I have to go now." she says abruptly, and turns to walk away. This is freaking her out, and kind of badly.

What. Grant glances up from his fried phone to find Gwen walking off. "Wait a minute," he grunts, moving forward and reaching out to grab her arm and stop her, "what's wrong?"

"What's wrong? Are you kidding me? This is wrong! This is acres and heaps and leagues of wrong. I shouldn't be able to touch you. What the hell are you?" She jerks her arm away, pretty forcefully. She may not shock him, but the electrical stimuli to her nerves makes her incredibly strong.

Grant doesn't try to hold on. His goal was to stop her, not grab and hang on. "I told you what I am," he grunts, annoyance evident in his tone and face — something that doesn't happen often. But then he shakes his head and releases a deep breath. "My father was an incubus."

"Like the kind that sneak up on women in the middle of the night to get all jiggy with it like in Rosemary's Baby?" she asks, and then her eyes widen. "So that's how you were able to rev my engine without actually doing anything but flashing a smile." And then they narrow. "Good to know."

Grant's lips purse at that, and his own eyes narrow. Such implications. "Or the sort who pose as fertility doctors and use that as an excuse to impregnate their patients," he intones darkly. "Yes. That sort. But that's not what I do."

"I'm not interested in being a baby mama." she tells him bluntly. "It's entirely probable I can't even have kids, even if I wanted to, which I emphatiallly do not. So look, I'll meet you at the restaurant and depending on the information you have, I may or may not take the job you're offering, but let's not waste each other's time, alright?"

Up go Grant's eyebrows, then down again abruptly in disbelief. Tightly pursed lips curve upward into an amused little smile. "Baby mama? I want nothing of the kind from you. I told you that's not what I do." Then he just shakes his head. "I'll see you tomorrow night, then." And with that, he turns to go.

Gwen is relieved at that. She also turns and walks in the opposite direction, not even bothering to find any reason to be insulted.

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