15192/Thank You, But No Thank You.

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Thank You, But No Thank You.
Date of Scene: 09 June 2023
Location: Hellfire Club Reception
Synopsis: Dick goes to the HFC, speaks with Tessa, says no.
Cast of Characters: Tessa, Nightwing

Tessa has posed:
These early hours of the morning were not prime time for the Hellfire Club. Very few people ever attended. It was generally more in the evenings, after people finished their workload for the day. They would come, spend a few hours being social, network a bit, then head back to finish off or to turn in for the night.

There were perhaps two people in the club currently. The public facing area of the club was a fancy foyer to begin. It showed off the opulence that would be found within through the warm woods used on the walls to the lavish comfortable seating. From there, people would enter to the Main Hall. That branched off for the parlor, ballroom, sitting rooms, and a few other more casual areas for people to converge. Further back, off some of the more private rooms, were the doors that led to the areas of the club that were off limits to all but the most elite. The criteria to become an elite was unknown quantity to the members themselves.

To those in the know, being the Inner Circle, those areas were theirs to prowl. And the criteria to join was to be preferably a mutant or other type of powered being who had their goals aligning with those of the Black King, Sebastian Shaw. Though, there had been others who had been allowed to join on the other side of the game board, taking up the opposite colors for their roles. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement and, outside the Black Queen, most tried to work together for their own reasons.

There was a young woman manning the main desk at the entrance hall today. She was dressed in a lovely business suit with a pencil skirt and matching jacket. Casual reasonable heels on her feet. She looked more like she should be in a boardroom instead of a place called the Hellfire Club.
Nightwing has posed:
    Time was always at a premium, and for Dick Grayson it felt like he was always on his back heel meeting his priorities and obligations. Partially that was due to the hectic pace of his life, but also it was partially due to his time being raised by Bruce. Some things were given to him as important. Maintaining ties and connections with other parts of influential society was one of those things and when he had received a personalized invitation to join the Hellfire Club, Dick's intitial response was negative...
    But he realized that if he was going to say no, he should at least do so in person, to minimize the risk of insult given.
    Which was why he had drawn himself back home after the evening's patrol. Somet time spent changing, cleaning himself up, putting a bandage over a small laceration over one rib, then getting dressed to pay a call on that social club.
    An hour later and he was darkening their doorway, and the young man introduced himself. "Hello, Dick Grayson. I was sent an invitatoin by Mr. Shaw I believe."
Tessa has posed:
The young woman gave him a bright smile and nodded. "A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Grayson." Then she tapped a few keys on the keyboard, looking at a screen that was set so it would not be visible to anyone coming into the establishment. A moment later she titled her head ever so slightly, looking a little puzzled. "Please give me one moment?" And she picked up the receiver for the telephone sitting on her desk. A push of a couple of buttons then she spoke in a lowered tone. "Yes, ma'am. There is a Dick Grayson here to see Mr. Shaw? I do not see an appointement."

A moment pause and a nod of her head, as though the person on the other end might hear it. Yet, apparently she recognized the rocks that might be in her head were not that loud and added a verbal response. "Of course. Thank you." She hung up and smiled to Dick again.

"Please step into the main hall. Tessa, Mr. Shaw's assistant, will meet you there." And she would then go back to her work on the computer again after making sure he did follow the instructions.

The Main Hall was even more ornate, with large staircases leading up to the next floor on either side. Particularly obstentatious to be honest. Yet, that was what the club was all about. More chairs and seating were about though unoccupied at this time of the morning.

Then he might hear the click of heels approaching on the marble floor. And should he look that direction, he would spot Tessa approaching. She was dressed in an outfit that would not be seen in a boardroom. Perhaps a bedroom, though the cloak and rather older hairstyle sort of harkened back to another era perhaps. Though the lack of clothing beneath, being only a bikini bottom and a bustier that covered all the important bits but left a lot of flesh visible. Thigh high boots, full length gloves. All in black. With a red rose at the clasp in front of her left shoulder.

Tessa gave her most professional smile and offered her hand. "Mr. Grayson. It's an honor to meet you in person. Your reputation obviously proceeds you," she said with a soft chuckle. "I apologize but Mr. Shaw is not currently on the premises but I have the authority to speak on his behalf. How may I assist you today?"
Nightwing has posed:
    The young man who had spent the last of his formative years in Wayne Manor gave the place a once-over look sa he strolled into that main hall. His eyebrows rose, impressed with some of the omre ornate decor and the subtle and not so subtle signs of money that went into the furnishing of the club itself. He walked along, dressed in what some might consider business casual, while others would consider it weekend gear at the Hamptons. For him it was a pair of brown loafers, chinos, and a loose blue button-down shirt that had the top two buttons undone to give that 'informal' look to it.
    He entered the hall, eyes sweeping across the room and then settling on the features of the young woman approaching across that marble floor. His lips rose, that slight smile alighting on his face. Then once she was near enough and spoke, he answered in kind.
    "Tessa?" He says first, recalling the name the receptionist had given. "I hope not to trouble you too terribly long, but I just thought I should swing by and give my thanks for the invitation. I know it's not often such a thing is given, and I felt it important to stop by at the least and pay my respects."
Tessa has posed:
As he confirmed her name, she did nod to verify she was indeed Tessa. She maintained the polite smile as he offered his explanation. Then a little wave of her hand into the air to dismiss his concerns. "It's no trouble at all, Mr. Grayson. It is, after all, my job," she said in that light tone, trying to keep everything at ease.

But the phrasing he used had already given her an indication where this might be going. She motioned to the side with her hand. "Would you like to take a tour with me before you make your decision?" Because that sounded like there was a rejection coming. She didn't want a rejection. More correctly, Shaw didn't want a rejection. He wanted Wayne and all his wards to be part of the club so that they could be monitored more closely. "We recently purchased two bottles of Old Rip Van Winkle bourbon." One of, if not the, most expensive bourbon in the world at this time. Only 710 bottles ever released, aged 24 years, costing more than most automobiles. Well, not the type of automobiles most of the people who were members of the Hellfire Club owned but for a normal person, so to speak. "I've been looking forward to giving it a taste and would love for you to join me."
Nightwing has posed:
    He had accepted her hand and gave a polite shake, then smiled a little as he started to move with her through that main hall, letting her lead them in their casual walk and talk along in this morning. His hands slip behind his back, holding his wrist thoughtfully as he strolls along and gives his full attention to the woman in the curious period clothing beside him.
    "Certainly, no harm with a tour." He gives a nod as he walks along. "Though please, don't open a bottle for me. I very rarely drink and I should admit that I don't believe I'll be joining primarily because my schedule is rather tight these days."
    His smile was given with a hint of remorse to it, then he said. "Though Bruce suggested that if we'd be welcome we could come to any large public gatherings your club might be organizing. Charitable drives or benefits are usually the main things that get us to dress up for a time. Albeit grudgingly." His smile warmed a little with that hint of humor.
Tessa has posed:
As he joined her, she turned and started to lead him through the building at a casual pace. The cloak would float behind her a bit as she moved, showing it was a thinner material and more for show than for actual warmth of any sort. Of course, the clothing beneath wasn't made for cool weather either. First she led him to the parlor, which was a little more cozy. Sofas and chairs that begged to be indulged in, promising to be the most comfortable that one ever sat upon if given the opportunity. There was that old world feel to the entire place, since it was built many decades ago and had been maintained to an optimal level since.

"Perhaps something else if you prefer not to drink alcohol. Tea, water, soda?" Ever the hostess after all. But then she considered the explanation for why he wasn't choosing to join and that had her brow furrowing ever so slightly. Not that she was confused. But that is what a person should do in this situation and thus she performed her role appropriately.

"There are no attendance requirements for the Club. In fact, some members we haven't seen in years. Others make an appearance about once a year, generally for a charitable function to show how they are such philanthropists and care. Though in truth, they do it to maintain face and nothing more."

She smiled, glancing up at him as she paused before a door. "Does smoke bother you? If so, we can skip the cigar bar. Not that anyone is here currently but the smell does permeate the room, despite the air cleansers that work overtime."

Though she did continue with the other part of her conversation once the decision is made. "Yes, I am aware of the fallicies of our members, as is Mr. Shaw. But the Club offers a unique opportunity for networking with others in order to work toward goals one might have in common." And a little smile, with a flash of something in her eyes. "All while lavished in all the comforts that the world has to offer."
Nightwing has posed:
    "Tea would be wonderful, thank you." Dick said with that same politeness as he was given even as they moved along that hallway. Though as they passed one of the conversation nooks he paused long enoug hto rest a hand on the back of one of the chairs, body language giving claim that this is the place they should chat and conduct their business, though he says naught toward it.
    "I don't begrudge people their vices usually, and if the smoke is too much for me I'm perfectly capable of moving elsewhere should it prove bothersome." He looks to one of the servers nearby and seems about to place an order, but then defers to Tessa, since it is her people and her club as it were.
    "Also I understnad that your policies can be very lenient. I just would hate not to hold my end of the social contract. I think Bruce might be more likely to do so than myself. He's busy, true, but he has... a penchant for playing hooky now and then." His smile eased again. Then he finally settled into the chair.
Tessa has posed:
"Some Bai Mu Dan, please," Tessa asked the server who approached. The server was a youmg man, dressed in a fancy sort of livery for a costume. There were female servers as well and they wore either the same sort of livery, though tailored for them, or opted for something more risque as Tessa was wearing. It was their choice, of course. The Hellfire Club had come into the modern age a few decades back, after all.

"Please. Feel free to order anything you like. Food, drink, cigars." The room was pleasant, with much leather involved in the furnishings since they didn't hold onto the smoke scent as much as regular cloth would. And the air wasn't completely unpleasant but there was that undercurrent of old smoke that had soaked into the walls of the place. For some, that was horrifying. Others? It was like coming over to visit a grandparent's house where they enjoyed their pipe.

"I am not sure what social contract you feel you would be agreeing to," Tessa admitted. "You would be able to use the social standing of being a member of our club, which is regarded with high esteem. In return you ..." She paused a moment, pursing her lips in consideration. Then that smile again. "Do nothing. Unless you wish to. Certainly you could enjoy time away from life at times? The burden of all your responsibilities weighing on your shoulders. Having to always be so upstanding and maintaining the reputation of, not only yourself, but the family that took you in." Meaning the Wayne legacy.
Nightwing has posed:
    "It is exactly that social contract that I mean," Dick says with that easily given smile, his eyes loewring slightly then returning to hers. His eyes lift with a hint of warmth as he murmurs, "I just know myself, and I tend not to do things in half-measures."
    The young acrobat settles back into his chair, crossing a leg over his knee and looking thoughtful toward her as he speaks, his left hand resting casually upon the tabletop. "If I accepted a membership soon enough I'd find myself needing to apply my efforts to making sure I do all I can to not disappoint the people who gave of themselves so to offer me that membership. One thing would lead to another and after a month's time we'd be co-workers or such."
    His lip curls up a little more, clearly making a little light, but doing so as best he can. "But I should admit, there is a temptation."
Tessa has posed:
"Ahh." A short sound of illumination, the proverbial light bulb going off for Tessa. "I see. So it is less the social contract and more your personal drive for perfection in all you do and the crushing weight of feeling you cannot ever disappoint anyone or you have failed." A little shake of her head, a moment of sadness showing on her face. "Such demons you struggle with, Mr. Grayson."

Then she looked up toward the door the server had left through, an instant before the woman appeared with a tray. Upon it was a traditional Japanese tea service which was placed on the table and each item removed and placed carefully in front of them. Then a moment to look between them, to see if there would be anything else. A particularly longer look at Dick, a moment of appraisal in the woman's pale eyes, then the server would be on her way. With an order or without, being all in the hands of the visitor.

Tessa began the process of preparing the tea now, carefully pouring their cups. Even as she smiled, cutting her eyes his direction. "I believe that might be an understatement, Mr. Grayson. The Hellfire Club /is/ temptation. That is what we are built upon. Else they would have named it Heaven instead and I would be dressed very differently," she added with a laugh.
Nightwing has posed:
    "Indeed, and perhaps part of me enjoys seeing if I can endure such a temptation. Thus why I came here in person." As Dick offers that response he sits there in his seat, awaiting the tea to be tended to, no rush nor hurry in his manner, simply accepting of the moment.
    When she finishes with the process he gives a nod of thanks then murmurs it as well before claiming his cup. He inhales the aroma first, then smiles and takes a sip.
    "Lovely, thank you."
    He eases back into his chair. "So how did you come to find yourself working here, Tessa?"
Tessa has posed:
The white tea was very light in color and had a subtle aroma and flavor. A hint of citrus notes with a touch of honey though none had been added to the cup. It was simply the beauty and clarity of the straw colored liquid itself.

She held her cup balanced upon her fingers to sip carefully before she set it back down with a certain precision. A respect for the service itself and the history of sharing tea with another.

"I do not work for the Club itself," Tessa said as she turned slightly in her seat to be able to face him more properly, legs crossed beneath the table. "I am employed directly by Mr. Shaw, as his personal assistant. He has a vested interest in the Club and is the de facto leader of this branch." For the Club did have branches all over the world. "Thus, it has become something that I am vested in as well, seeking to be certain that it continues to grow."
Nightwing has posed:
    The young heir to the Wayne fortune conducts himself well in the moment, mindful of his manner and so very polite. He listens to her, following along with the movement of her lips, then nodding near the end of the words she gives him.
    "Oh that's interesting," Dick lifts his chin slightly, a faint touch of curiousity lighting in his blue eyes. He gestures with his free hand to the side, "So Mr. Shaw brought you with him to the club, or was it more he hired you to work directly for him when you were first seeking employ with the Hellfire club?"
    Another sip of tea is taken, Dick's eyes slipping to the side when one of the other servers passes nearby.
Tessa has posed:
"The former. He was seeking an assistant. I have some very specific abilities that were well suited to such a position. My mind is ...different from most people. It allows me to remember the most minute details with perfect clarity. Thus, I can recall a contract detail that may come up years after the fact without having to revisit the physical documents." It was a nice way to sum up her memory without giving away too much detail about where such an ability came from. Her mutancy, as was the mutancy of many of their members, was of utmost secrecy.

Though that was by far not the only secret that members of this place had.

"Mr. Shaw was already heavily involved in the club before I came to his employ. It was only natural that my abilities would serve well here and I help with many of the Club's business associations due to that. Though all in the service of Mr. Shaw."

She sipped more of her tea then nodded to the room in general. "When we finish, we can continue the tour. Perhaps I can find...something to draw you fully into that temptation. Then I can have your membership papers drawn up and presented before you go about the rest of your day."
Nightwing has posed:
    "I would hate to put you to all that effort, Tessa." Dick says as he takes another sip of his tea, but then he sits up a little. "Though I admit to being curious. So if you'll accept that I'll likely say no, then I would enjoy that tour. Assurdly."
    That said he sets the tea to the side, sweeps a hand down over his shirt as if making sure it sits right, then he'll rise once she seems ready to depart. Hopefully the tour will not be too entirely tempting. But that remained to be seen.