Moving On...

Patricia and Beverly and Elliot Mantle had been at the Mantles' apartment for a day and a half, now. Their brief time together had been consumed by conversations and cleaning up, as Patricia tried to explain the situation to her newly created childer.

Things were going well. Patricia had expected a lot of difficulty with Beverly and Elliot Mantle. She had expected a tantrum of ill-will at their Embrace, but at the moment they were distracted by another problem that made a greater demand of their attention: withdrawal. Now that the twins were coherent, Trish had learned precisely which drugs they were abusing and she was amazed that they hadn't died weeks ago. She hoped their strength and tenaciousness would see them through the next few days.

Beverly, clad in sweatpants and a grimy shirt, was cleaning up the trash-strewn apartment, muttering to himself about the mess, while Eliot was busily light-proofing several rooms with supplies Trish had bought earlier the previous evening. Patricia was glad for both efforts, as the smell of garbage was turning even her hardened sensibilities and she didn't want to spend another day sleeping in a closet. She hoped these tasks would help keep the brothers occupied during the quieter moments of detox. As for the anticipated rougher moments, well, Patricia would cross that bridge when she got to it.

Patricia glanced at her watch and spoke to Beverly. "I have to go out." she announced.

Beverly looked up, startled. "Where are you going?"

"I've got to get you some blood." Because I can't give you any more of mine, she didn't add.

"What about you?" Beverly asked curiously.

"I can take care of myself." Trish shrugged. "But you two have to stay here. It's no damn good if we go to the trouble of faking your deaths and then you're seen on the streets two days later." she reminded him.

Much to Patricia's relief, it had been very easy to anonymously tip off the police to the doctors' "suicide" and then retreive them from the morgue. How the Toronto police were going to explain the disappearance of their bodies didn't bother Patricia at all. In her previous experience, the police would quietly bury the incident and strongly discourage any questions.

Beverly realized the sense of what Trish said, and nodded. Patricia noticed his slightly trembling gait as he moved around the room. "Are you feeling alright?" she asked.

"He's feeling bloody awful." Elliot replied for his brother as he strode into the living room. "But he's not going to admit it." Patricia nodded, her expression thoughtful.

Elliot took Beverly by the arm and forced him to sit down in a nearby chair. Patricia, seeing nothing wrong with eavesdropping, heard Beverly quietly insisting, "We said we were going to kick, and we are. I'll be alright, damn it."

Patricia was reassured by what she heard. Despite her own weaknesses, she didn't want to share them with her newest childer.

Elliot glanced at Patricia. "When will you be back?" he asked.

Patricia thought for a moment. "With luck, an hour. I'm sure you'll be fine." She assessed the pair. "Take a break, talk to each other." she suggested.

"We have been." Elliot shrugged. Patricia wanted to pursue that comment, but she didn't have time.

"Alright." She pulled on a jacket, headed for the door. "See you later."

Patricia returned, aggravated by human stupidity and traffic jams, two hours later. Upon entering the apartment, two sights greeted her. One was the Mantle twins, who were casually pasting blackout foil to the windows overlooking their apartment's living area. The other was a familiar woman, bound and gagged on a chair next to the dining table.

Patricia looked back and forth, from the twins to the bound woman and waited for an explanation. Elliot glanced at the cooler over Patricia's shoulder and told her, "You may as well put that away first. We wouldn't want it to spoil."

Trish could only sigh at that, and she did as Elliot rightly suggested. Once the blood was safely stowed in the fridge, she returned to the dining table and sat in a vacant chair, adjacent to the captive woman. Patricia looked at her for a moment and confirmed that it was indeed Claire Niveau. She had been roughly gagged with a wrapped-up dish towel, and a variety of electrical cords held her in place. Patricia could see that Claire had struggled quite fiercely, earlier, but had apparently realized it was futile some time ago.

Patricia beckoned the twins towards her and bade them to sit down.

"You want to explain, now?" she asked wearily.

Beverly smiled, almost mischevious. "It's rather obvious." he replied.

Elliot continued. "Our beloved ladyfriend, here, showed up, awash with grief. Or something." His distaste for Claire was plain. "And, naturally, she didn't expect to find us."

"We didn't know what to do with her." Beverly stated. "Except this." he indicated their handiwork. "We thought you might have some suggestions."

Patricia regarded the three of them, not knowing whether to laugh or scream. When in doubt, she decided, play it straight. "Well, I'm glad you didn't kill her."

The thought of killing caused the pair to frown. "Why should we?" Elliot asked simply. "Besides, we have to keep to that 'blasted Masquerade'." Patricia smiled at Elliot's mimicry of her tone. She had been rather rushed and tired when explaining the Traditions to the pair.

"Yes, you do." Patricia nodded. "And keeping her here was the smartest thing you could have done." she congratulated them. Childer should always know when they do well, Patricia reminded herself. "I'll have a little word with her, and everything will be fine."

"Ah. Are you going to alter her memory?" Beverly asked curiously.

Patricia nodded. "Now, hush, I need to concentrate." She thought for a moment, keeping in mind that witnesses may have seen Niveau enter the building, earlier.

A minute or two later, Patricia caught Claire's terrified gaze and held it. "Claire, you decided to come here tonight, for whatever reason you had earlier." Claire nodded awkwardly, reassuring Patricia that her suggestion was taking hold.

"But once you got to the apartment - before you came in - you chickened out." Patricia continued. "Your guilt was just too much to bear." An idea occurred to Trish. "And, in fact, you feel so guilty about getting the Mantles hooked on drugs, you're going to spend the rest of your life campaigning against drug abuse." Patricia ignored the quiet chuckle from the twins beside her. "I'm going to untie you, now, and you're going to cooperate with me. Once I take you into the hallway and close the door, you'll remember everything as I told you." she concluded. "Alright?" Claire nodded.

Patricia did as she said, and, once she had returned from depositing the docile Ms. Niveau outside, Patricia allowed herself a long sigh of relief. She sat down on a sofa with a thud and wished fervently for a cigarette, even though she hadn't smoked in decades.

Beverly approached her and sat down next to her. "Will it work?" he asked. "What you did to Claire?"

Patricia nodded. "Almost certainly. Fortunately, she's such a pharmacological mess that even if she did tell someone the truth, she wouldn't be believed."

Beverly nodded at that, his face thoughtful.

Eliot, still working at the window, spoke. "We're going to have to leave Toronto, aren't we?" It was something that had occurred to the twins the night before, and this incident with Claire confirmed it.

Patricia nodded. "Yes, I'm sorry."

Elliot shrugged. "It's alright. We were already thinking about it." he admitted.

Trish spoke to Beverly, asking a question that had been bothering her for two nights. "Have you two been, ah, talking without speaking much?"

Beverly nodded. "Sometimes. Not all the time."

"At the moment, I can't hear a thing from him." Elliot added.

"But I know how he's feeling, generally." Beverly finished. Elliot nodded in mutual confirmation.

Patricia was surprised by this, but not entirely. Stranger things have happened, she thought. "How about when we were in the clinic?" she asked.

The pair exchanged a glance. "That was different." Elliot admitted, "But I can't remember it too clearly."

"I see." Actually, Patricia didn't, but she had several theories. "Well, I think we'll have to put my curiousity off for a while." she stated reluctantly. "Back to the matter at hand. Yes, we're going to have to leave. I've got some legal jiggery-pokery in the works - about four days ago, I became your heir -" the twins looked startled by that. "It took a large application of cash and other things to several people, but it should hold." It had damn well better hold, Trish thought fiercely. "I'll be receiving the money from the sale of this property, and the dissolution of the rest of your estate, which I'll return to you. But you're too well known in this city."

The Mantles nodded, not in unison, Trish noticed with relief. "Could we go to Vancouver?" Beverly asked, a moment later.

Patricia brightened. "That was precisely where I had in mind..."

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