1963-10-13 - Not So Quiet Lunch
Summary: Lily visits the object of her Father's affections.
Related: Once Upon a Hellmouth Plot
Theme Song: None
pepper lilith 


Lunch hour is either totally insane, or dead quiet. Today, it's dead quiet. Tony's out dining some catch of the week, which mean's he'll be gone the rest of the day. Most of the other executives went to a long lunch 20 minutes ago. The rest of the secretary pool generally works on other floors, this was specifically meant to be Tony's grand sanctum and she the gate keeper. So, she's alone. She doesn't really seem to mind, especially half asleep as she feels.

Pepper's got her 4th cup of coffee of the day on her desk and a small salad that she's picking at as she goes over budget reports. It's taking longer than usual, tired eyes not quite wanting to focus on the small print and long lines that require an exacting attention to detail. Perhaps the most telling thing about Pepper not quiet being herself is the fact her hair is simply pulled back in a boring old pony tail. No beehives or bumps today. She's in a pink, skin tight, mod-styled sweater dress that hugs her slender frame and JUST covers enough to pretend to be work appropriate, so at least that looks cute. But she's definitely not quite herself.

*

The dark haired woman that enters the office is impeccably dressed. Pale skin, dark hair, green eyes, and blood red lips (what is that lip colour, anyways) all speak to the woman's style. A small wristlet is clutched in one of her hands, and she, rather carefully pads towards the reception area. "Hello," her eyes flit to the salad and the papers Pepper is working at.

She studies Pepper for several beats and then manages a tight-lipped, ridiculously-polite smile. "I'm afraid I might be lost." She reaches out a hand towards Pepper, "Or," her head cants to the side as she watches Pepper with rapt attention, "maybe not?" Her eyes narrow slightly and the smile eases some —towards something more genuine. "My, my, you do look like her…"

*

For a moment, Pepper doesn't even look up from her papers. She can smell a touch of perfume and hear high heels, so she automatically slots the woman into the 'Tony's lovers' category. "Mr. Stark isn't in right… now…" And then she hears the comment about being lost. Pepper actually bothers to turn pale eyes up from her budget work, blinking a bit as she actually takes the stunning woman in. (Seriously, where DID she get that lipstick?) While Lilith is beautiful, she wasn't exactly Tony's type.

"…Ah… Well, this is a strange place to get lost, I'm sorry, there's no one in to meet with you right now. And…" Suddenly, something stiffens in Pepper's back. She's too smart to entirely miss the implication of 'who she looks like', but she gives a blink that is trying to be innocent about it. Maybe she's wrong. "…Pardon? Look like…whom? I don't believe I know you, ma'am, and you really shouldn't be on this floor…"

*

Lilith's eyes flit upwards and she reaches her gloved hands to tug at a chair opposite Pepper's desk. She slides into the seat and, rather politely, crosses her ankles. Her hands fold in her lap, and her tongue clucks. "I have no interest in your Mister Stark." Her dark eyelashes flutter lightly. "No, I have interest in you, it seems."

She delicately reaches out a hand — if she aims for a handshake, this is hardly the way most would do it. "I'm Lily Drake." Her eyes narrow slightly and her head cants to the side, "I assume — " she starts and then stops. "He's already found you, I take it? I can hear him calling you. It's quiet, but certainly there."

*

Pepper's tired blue eyes are already just a touch too wide. Wide with paranoia, with the kick of adrenaline that is just trickling into her system at this woman's intrusion in her office, wide with someone who has simply seen far too much in the last weeks compared to her previously sheltered life. She stiffens a bit as Lily sits, but doesn't yet shoo her away. Her eyes flicker to the buzzer for the downstairs desks. She can call for help if she needs.

"…Lily…I am… Pepper. Ah… I don't… really know what you are talking about. I think you have the wrong person." Pepper lies, though she does awkwardly take the woman's hand, shaking it a bit even if the angle is all wrong. Pepper shows few marks from her one stay with him, but her slender throat still bares the pink, healing skin of where she had been bitten. It's probably confirmation enough for Lilith.

*

The handshake is rather odd — almost like Lily is going to break with too much contact, thanks to her demure, exceedingly delicate, build. "Of course he found you first. It's like his imperative. You call him whether or not you intend to," Lily's eyes roll emphatically. "Poor human woman destined to Vlad's consistent, yet troubling, obsession."

She returns her hands to her lap, folds them, and watches Pepper carefully. "You're taller than the last one, I think," she hums quietly. "Perhaps some obsessions evolve with time as do populaces." Her eyebrows lift, "Of course, he requires you to want to go with him. And, considering he spent time with you already, I suspect you haven't been particularly… receptive," her smile turns feline, "to Vlad's affections?"

*

No matter *how much* Pepper tries to live in denial about this all, as the woman uses a name, she can't pretend she doesn't understand any more. Subconsciously, her fingertips go to the side of her neck, where that bite wound was, the smallest of trembles through her hand. She doesn't even realize she's doing it. But, for all Pepper's competence and fire, right now she looks like a scared child or puppy. All of this overwhelms her.

"… He… It… It's over. He tried to take me but… I fought. My boyfriend, Jack… he got me out. He had special guns. He found me. It's over now. It… it's just bad dreams. Just dreams. I'm never going back there." Pepper states too harshly, the tone of a woman who is trying to convince herself, over and over, using the same mantra. SHe's never going back. It's working less and less.

*

Lily hums quietly and her chin drops in silent acknowledgement. "He's very… incorrigible. Hundreds of years, and his obsession remains the same." She raises a hand dismissively, "Of course, dear, you wouldn't know that." Her lips purse. "But the obsession will not relent. Nor will his pursuit long-term. He wants to you want him, which means the small compulsion, that silent-draw, the pang of curiosity that tugs your mind when you are most vulnerable — in that place between waking and sleep — will not cease. In fact, it will only grow until it becomes adequately," her lips turn upwards again, "satiated."

Lily plucks a piece of fuzz from her skirt, and shakes her head slightly. Sloppy. "You could, of course, make a choice in that. It would require great censure, and skills that," she lifts her fingers and shakes her head. "Never mind. I can see you are just moving on from whatever ordeal he put you through, as best you can."

*

The woman swallows back tightly, her heart now in her throat as Lily speaks about the obsession, the curiosity, the fact it's growing. While Pepper doesn't admit it out loud, the crumpled, exhausted look on her face would only be a confirmation for Lily that it's gotten that bad already. It says something about Pepper's actual strength of heart that she's managed to fight it this long. "…I..I just want it to go away. I don't know how to make it stop…" She confesses quietly, blinking against a sudden sting behind her eyes. She is NOT going to cry at the office!

Then the offer of a choice comes and she stares, confusion on her face. "…If you know how I can move on… that's all I want to do. I'll do anything just to make it stop, please. Yes. I want to move on. I want this to be over."

*

"Of course you do," Lily returns softly as she reaches for the box of kleenex on Pepper's desk, which she draws a single tissue from to offer Pepper. "Take a deep breath, darling. This business isn't for the weak of heart. Wills may be strong, but Dracula," yes, she did just call him that, "is not one to be resisted. Not easily."

Her eyebrows lift. "He can, however, be defeated. With some work." Her chin lifts. "I've seen it. I've seen it many times. Wood to the heart works well on his kind." Her lips press into a line, "Or, of course, there's the formula. I've only heard of that in legend though, and suspect you need to be acquainted with someone in the mystical arts willing to help you."

*

The offer of the tissue, though embarrassing, is taken. Pepper accepts it and very gently dabs at her eyes before any of her make up runs. Goodness forbid she look tired AND not made up properly. It just wouldn't be acceptable. She draws in another slightly shaking breath and gives Lily a bittersweet smile. "…Why…why are you telling me all of this? How do you *know* this?" She asks, eyes narrowing just a bit, suspicion overcoming the relief of seeing someone who might know how to finally fix it all.

"…And what do you mean by…Formula? I work for a very brilliant scientist. He's good with such things. Maybe he could make it…" Mystical arts makes her frown as that isn't her purview at all. Pepper still seems a bit suspicious, but her eagerness to finish this seems to be overcoming her paranoia.

*

Lily's lips purse. "The Formula is a thing of legend. And while I've never seen its effects personally," her tongue clucks, "I've heard it works wonders on anyone vampiric. Like Vlad. Like those in his company." Pause. "Like me." She lifts her fingers. "I have no interest in biting or otherwise turning you, madam."

Her lips press into a thin line. "You see, Vlad and I have been… rather connected long-term. He's my father. And believe me, he deserves to be dusted… in whatever way he meets that fate."

*

The moment Lily says 'like me', Pepper's heartrate skyrockets. If adrenaline was trickling into her system before, it now dumps in fully, eyes too wide, body instinctively pushing back in her chair. But then she stares from Lily, to the sun outside, back to Lily, "Y-you?? But…but it's daylight out? I thought I was… s-safe in daylight?" This adds a whole slew of new nightmares to Pepper's worries now! She tries to swallow her heart back down her throat, but the panic is still threatening.

"…What… what is this formula? Why would you tell me about it if it could hurt you too? I…I don't know anyone mystic. I… I just want this to end. He's so strong. I'd get a stake but… I… I think he'd over power me. He did before."

*

A small cant of Lily's head and shrug of her shoulders hint to her overall attitude about daywalking. "Well, not all rules apply to all of the undead." A small smile tugs at her lips again.

She actually chuckles at the question. "The formal was developed by someone many many millennia ago. I don't understand much about it aside from its deadliness for our kind." She hmmms, "You could persuade him, perhaps. Get close to Vlad and then drive the stake into his heart. It doesn't have to be big — just wooden." Her smile fades and she offers, "Some things are more important than others. My deaths inconsequential. Vlad's? He deserves no breath. No immortality and yet…"

*

"M-maybe… Jack, my boyfriend…Maybe he could. He's good at those things. He fought in the war." Pepper states that last part proudly, as if it makes up for all the very strange, very accurate, deadly fighting her boyfriend can do. "He's got a… well, the arm is real neat and metal. He lost his. But it's a lot stronger than regular arms and maybe he could do it… If he hid, somehow…" Pepper's mind is now racing with possibilities, even if she's still scared. This is giving her all a bit of hope.

"You don't know anything else about this formula? Who made it? What….goes in it? I've never heard of it before, even in story books. And… yes. He's… insane. He killed a lot of people already. Well…he and his followers. It was awful. He… he needs to go away. I just don't know if I can do it. I'm not… when I'm around him it's hard to fight."

*

"It's recorded in an ancient book. I don't know where the Darkhold currently is," Lilith replies softly. "But whoever has it, has the formula locked within its pages. Again, I'm only familiar with it in legend. I've never encountered anyone who has managed to develop it, but I've been told that it is incredibly effective."

She nods once at the notion of the boyfriend. "Indeed. Defeating Vlad is the key to your mental and emotional freedom from him. He is vastly powerful. I have seen many a woman — who looks like you — fall prey to his machinations long term, despite whatever resistance they'd had for him early." She lifts her fingers and inspects her fingernails. Evidently this is all part the course.

*

"The 'Darkhold'…" Pepper echoes, making certain she's got the proper name of the book entirely. Her eyes are still rather too wide, too panicked, but she's managing to contain her fear to keep on with the business. It's old habit, business over riding all emotions. Sometimes it's a healthy habit, often it isn't. She takes a slow breath and looks from Lily back out to the sun, as if it's betrayed her just by the fact she's having this conversation during the day.

"…I…I'll tell Jack. Maybe he can help find the book, or develop something to.. to make a stake which will go into his heart. I take it that his heart is in the… traditional area?" The young, innocent redhead really doesn't seem to know much about vampires. But she's smart enough to ask.

*

"Possible," Lily replies quietly and then nods. "His heart is, indeed, where a human heart would be. But only wood will work. Stakes are best. Bullets," she waves her hand back and forth. "It's unclear. Their effect has come with mixed reviews, and to my knowledge, Vlad has never had a wooden bullet to the heart." Again her head shakes, "This does not mean, however, that it won't work. Just because it hasn't been done doesn't mean it won't work."

*

"W-well…well maybe Jack can do something that fires a stake. Or an arrow, or something…" Though if they get it wrong and Pepper is that close, well, the thought of the danger is clear on her features. She takes another deep breath, trying to stay calm, but this is clearly all far above her pay grade. For a moment, her eyes shut against those panicked tears which she's still refusing to cry. Closed eyes means the voice in her head just gets stronger. "…I still hear him…dammit…why is he still there? The sun is up. I…I just want the voice to go away…"

*

Peggy arrives from Financial District.

*

Peggy has arrived.

*

Peggy leaves, heading towards Stark Industries - Executive Office [EO].

*

Peggy has left.

*

"It won't, not until Vlad is either dead or gone," Lily replies. "But until then — " her eyebrows lift " — you're going to hear him. He's strong. Compelling. Charismatic." Her lips turn up into a grim, but weirdly polite, smile, "Deadly."

*

The redhead drags a hand across her forehead, as if she could push it out with her fingertips alone. She knows she can't. Another heartbeat and she opens her tired eyes, staring up at the beautiful, put together woman across from her. SHe feels like something drug out to the curb in compare. "…that's all you can offer to help me? A stake or a formula you've never seen and aren't even sure exists? Why come in the first place? I…I'm just a secretary. I don't know if I can do this…I don't fight vampires. I just… just want to live my life."

*

"Because he needs to die, madam," Lily answers curtly. "My father," her gaze rests heavily on Pepper, "cannot be permitted to continue his machinations. His appetite will not be satiated. Unlike present company he requires people for sustenance. He draws on others' lives to sustain his own." Her eyebrows lift. "Unfortunately, the curse upon me means that I cannot be the one to drive the stake into his heart. It removes us from one another. For better or worse. That said, I can advise."

*

"Then *advise*! Tell me more than a wooden stake! Let me know his…his mental tricks, weaknesses, ways I can defend my mind! I… I'm just a secretary! He'll kill me before I get through his sternum!" Pepper half snaps those words, fear and irritability finally getting to her enough that she just breaks into snippy mode. It won't last long, but she's now staring at Lily with defiance and disbelief in her gaze. Disbelief that this woman would ASK her such things, think her capable in any way!

*

Lily's jaw tightens, and her eyes turn to slits. "You don't know, do you, my dear? You are his weakness. His biggest one, from my perspective. Obsession is Dracula's flaw. And it is, unfortunately, quite singular, my dear. Generations and it resumes."

*

"But…I'm just a secretary! I…I don't know why he thinks this about me! He thinks I'm someone else, it's not me! And… I… I don't know how to fight it! Do I pretend to agree? Won't he think something is wrong if i'm not fighting it? What if he finds the stake on me? What if I'm not strong enough?" While Lily's jaw gets tighter and her expression a bit more angered, Pepper's gets more panicked, more young. She really was painfully young, well educated or not. She was just so sheltered up until now.

*

Doom has disconnected.

*

Doom has connected.

*

"Because you have her face, dear," Lily replies softly. "Every generation there's another one like her. And anyone with her face.. well," she shrugs. "You do pretend to agree. He's got enough hubris that you could, potentially, pull it off. Be gentle, complicit, singularly taken with him, and he'll believe it. All of his cronies are taken with Vlad. It's his winning personality," her eyes roll, "clearly." Her lips press together tightly, "And, if he finds the stake on you," her tongue clucks, "he will likely be impressed, to be honest. Such is Vlad's way. He may reprimand you, but he will always be gentle with you, dear."

*

Those reassurances slightly calm Pepper, even if there is still the panic of a little rabbit behind her eyes. Pepper was not a woman built for massive, dramatic fights or heroic feats unless it was with a budgeting book or in a corporate boardroom. She takes in a slow breath through her nose, trying to center herself. Finally, she just nods. "I…I guess I must. If… I ever want to be sane again… I must. I… I'll do what I can, ma'am. I can't promise anything, though. And Jack won't be happy…he'll think it's too dangerous."

*

Lily slips off the chair and brings herself to a stand. She tugs on the bottom of her skirt and grants Pepper a small nod. "I'll be in touch. If you hear anything of the Darkhold, well, I'd be happy to help recover that." All in the name of defeating Dracula. She offers Pepper another nod, "You are well on your way. And you do have the upper hand in many respects. Truly."

*

"…T-thank you, ma'am. I…" Pepper forces a smile, one of her almost glowing, business like smiles. A smile she uses around Tony's people a lot, "I appreciate it, I do." Pepper then stands, offering her hand once more for a brief almost shake. "I…I'll see you to the elevator. Wait. How…How can I find you? If I get information about this Dark Hold and need help?" Pepper inquires, as she smoothly walks with Lily to the door. Pepper was lovely, graceful in her own way, even when tired and overwhelmed. It shows in her steps alone.

*

"Of course." The woman's eyebrows lift. "And you should call me Lily. Or, if you prefer, Lilith," her eyelashes bat. "You don't have to worry about finding me. I'll be in touch. Believe me. I will touch base. I have my own ways of keeping an eye on things that are of interest to me. And believe me, madam, you are most certainly of interest."

*

That last assertation makes Pepper tense again. She does not seem like she's a woman who wants to be of interest to ANYONE. She gives a mute, quiet nod before realizing that she should *probably* speak up. "Y-yes, yes… Lily. I'll remember that. Thank you. And…be… Be safe out there." A last, weak smile is given in Lily's direction and she bows her head as the elevator opens, letting her strange visitor go. So much for a quiet lunch.

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