Cobalt Ridge Please oblige less antagonistic rendezvous

early afternoon

Executive privilege; he was driving. One of the vehicles, the second unmarked car which trailed them piloted by a uniformed officer. It helped, having the physical activity. Fingers digging into the faux leather cover on the wheel, foot forcibly steady on the accelerator. It kept his knees from shaking.

There was the hope there'd be no violence, that this could be a routine interview to be followed up upon later. Nothing he'd heard of the man they were seeking had bestowed much confidence in that outcome. A seasoned, venerable shifter, not necessarily given to violence but certainly willing to employ it. Old guard, as it were, perhaps seeing no alternative than murder to protect his secret.

The pistol holstered under Tiffer's left arm leaned heavy into his ribs.

Nerves had never made him talkative, and it was in silence he pulled to a stop in the lodge's parking lot. In silence he left the vehicle, shading his view with one hand as he looked to the highest level of the impressive, rustic building.

"Wait here," he instructed their tertiary backup. "Keep the channel open." Someone else at hand if things went south immediately, but mostly there to call in a full squad if need be.

In silence he nodded to Dakila and strode toward the front entrance.
The wolf sensed those nerves, the weakness and vulnerability of a creature on edge. But Dakila was not without apprehension of his own, and so the judgement fell short of predatory and merely made him more acutely aware of what it was they were walking themselves into.

Everything that could be done prior to this had been done. Their evidence at hand being thin but not nonexistent. A murder had occurred on these very slopes. A man named Indra Mehta. The owner of the lodge was a known shifter. Dakila could personally confirm he the man was a bear, if not a polar bear. Another known bear had made testimony as to the nature of the lodge owner, their shared grudges, the predilection for violent solution. Two bears against one, the third a friend of a human witness who had summoned him. No body, an abandoned truck.

It painted a picture that seemed to have an obvious conclusion, but the image was still blurry, a few key details that would have made it all very certain simply missing, likely unattainable.

Truthfully, he did not know how they were going to have to handle this. He was prepared for the very worst, but hoping for much better. He was capable of protecting himself, but even as a detective he didn't feel much of a fighter, his solutions erring toward words rather than physical reaction whenever possible. And it wasn't just about protecting himself. He could take a serious hurt from the bear king and end up back on his feet before too long. If Tiffer got so much as scratched--

Opting not to think about it, knowing he was as prepared for that as he could ever hope to be, Dakila focused on the present and working through this a step at a time.

In this case, getting into the lodge and locating their suspect.

It was a three story building. He knew from past interviews and speaking with various people who worked here that Orlovsky lived alone on the top floor. He glanced up as they neared the building as if he would see the bear king watching them through the windows, but he didn't see much, the light reflecting too heavily off the surface of the glass.

Inside, on official police business, going straight up the stairs to the third floor door--inevitably locked--was the plan.
The glare of the sun off those large windows was cut some by the equally opaque sunglasses he wore. Tiffer expected to face no vampire, no poorly understood mind powers, but he was as prepared as he knew how to be. More than anything this meant the coin, the cuffs, and the bullets.

Three responses in increasing severity, all of them hopefully unnecessary.

He led as he must, first to the door and holding it open until Dakila could grip the handle in turn. He'd not hide behind the wolf, however pragmatic that may have been. The lower level was sparsely populated, most of the attraction this time of year located out in the sun. Still he peered uncertainly at each face; Dakila'd assured him they'd not be blindsided by any other bears, but...

Up the stairs, and up again. One last breath before the physical commitment. A tight fist rapped against the wood of the door, a triple sharp staccato. "Mr Orlovsky. It's the RPD. We need to have a word with you, sir."
Dakila didn't especially like Tiffer taking lead. But it was arrogant to insist on putting himself first. Tiffer was not blind to the risks, did not act without purpose. An as the man in charge, the man who would inevitably shoulder all responsibility here, he had to be able to make these calls and be heeded. But as they stood in the narrow hall at the top of these wooden stairs, the prickle of unease grew steadily, almost physical.

He could sense a bear beyond that door. It was more than scent, more than mere territory presence. It was a real and palpable awareness of another. It wasn't the sound of movement or breath that told him this, it was something else entirely that he struggled to put to words. A feeling that was more like knowledge, a secret his own brain whispered to him insistently.

Standing just behind and to the side, he waited, forcing himself to patience and calm. Maybe the stories were simply misunderstandings or exaggerations. Surely, surely he could not be completely without reason if he had held territory as long as he had.

But he remembered his own time under Alina, the things he should have protested but hadn't because they were wolves and it was all too easy to justify things among kin. Nothing could be ruled out.

With the knock there was a slightly muffled, more distant sound of barking. Two canine voices, at least, but nothing that rushed the door. A non-threat as far as the wolf was concerned, but even less so after they were hushed by a voice moments later. Footsteps toward the door, now, confirming what was essentially already known. He glanced back down the hall to make sure nothing was approaching from the back, but they were alone.
It was the wolf who had alerted him first. Felt him coming up the canyon, well aware of him. He was too aware of everything lately, it was exhausting. Waiting for the other shoe to drop, for either another bear to come for him, or the police to arrive and decide they had the guts to be smart about this, or even waiting for Esperanza to return like he dared to believe would happen. His upper hand on the situation was only slight, and even after all this time and a new bear among his ranks, he felt uneasy. It all wore at the edges of him.

A wolf did not mean police, though. Or so he'd thought until he'd felt the powerful presence of another king draw near and peered out from his lofty castle to see something that soured him. He had not put two and two together before this moment, watching the pair of men walk toward his building, infringe on his space.

He put the dogs away. He did not want to see them get caught in the middle of anything that might happen. They would be a distraction that Levka decided he could not afford or want. So they were shut away in his bedroom as he stayed to wait in the common area, looking at the door he expected to be breached at any moment. And increasingly he realized he had been betrayed by a wolf, an individual he should have counted on as an ally.

Levka could not decide if he regretted not reaching out to the new wolf king before now or not. It was clear the man was not to be trusted, but could he have befriended him first? It was too late for any of it, and with the knock and the cacophony of the dogs realizing they'd been shut away from visitors--their favorite--he felt his mood sharpen to irritation. The voice, declaring themselves RPD, but he knew it was much more than that. They were a task force and he knew they knew what he was.

He did not curse Asha, but he did immensely regret not at least managing to kill Sayed in light of the price he'd paid that night. Jabbing the first holes into the walls of secrecy and security with his insistence at being a perpetual pest.

A low command to the dogs to be quiet was heeded and then he made his way to the door. An entryway that very few made it past, and certainly not humans or unwelcome weres. And yet... here he was. Too arrogant to go snarling at them from behind the door, to cower and warn them away while it was still safe for them all, he opened the door and fixed the human man just beyond it with a hard look. A man at the end of his patience. He didn't have a very good poker face and didn't make much effort to pretend he thought this was just another layer of the conversations they'd already had with his staff.

"What word?"

Didn't mean he had to make this easy for them. Didn't meant he was going to be his own undoing by giving himself away with premature defense. But that didn't stop him from ignoring the traitorous wolf on his doorstep and focusing on the man who had taken point.

For now, anyway. He did itch to discipline a king who seemed to have betrayed his own kind.
Dogs. Something to note. Probably not kept for defense, trained to attack interlopers. Not with what Tiffer understood of their master. But something to be aware of.

Breaths carefully controlled, he blinked discreetly before making a small show of removing the sunglasses and tucking them away. "I think you can help with a missing person case," he explained with professional cordiality, gaze held steady at the taller man's. Statist6icalluy and otherwise it was probably a murder investigation, but he didn't strictly have the evidence to label it as such and didn't see much gain in immediately casting aspersions.

"The details are a sensitive matter, so out of respect for your privacy it's better discussed where nothing can be overheard. May we come in?" If this came to nothing, he wasn't looking to out the bear. Even otherwise, he didn't favor the potential pubic outcry about a murderous shifter. It'd be kept relatively quiet.

Like the last one.
And there he was. A face he knew but had never spoken to directly. Dakila was looking forward toward the door again, everything coming into a sharper focus. Wolf, very aware of the bear he could sense more than see, a presence that big in every sense. One the werewolf did not relish going toe to toe with, but knew he could stand against if he needed to.

But as there was no immediate hostility, they were past the first hurdle. In one mental scenario he had imagined that Orlovsky would deny them outright, laying siege in his own home against the intrusion of authority. There was every chance a man in this deep would behave foolishly and violently with little more to lose. But so far it seemed he had better sense than that.

The slightly older man wasn't outright intimidating. Without supernatural senses or forewarning and reputation this could have been knocking on the door any wary expat. But it was not so and two words felt on the cusp of threatening merely for lacking basic hospitality. Come on in, officers, what is this about?

Ignored, Dakila let Tiffer have his words, his method of approach. Benign as possible but not so bland as to be untrue. Getting inside was definitely step one. Orlovsky would be doing himself a favor if he didn't stubbornly refuse.
Missing person. He wanted to scoff at the lack of teeth in the statement. Levka failed to be impressed by the softness of American police procedure. So much talk, no action. Even as that tactic favored him and his own agenda, he did not admire it. He'd have at least been impressed if they'd come in here and given him no room to doubt they knew what they knew. He knew for a fact that he was a problem for both of these men, and you did not solve problems like him through talking.

But he'd see what he could get from their cordiality, their efforts to stretch for his faltering privacy. The damage was already done with them here but if they wanted to pretend otherwise he would run them ragged, around and around the proverbial bush.

And for a moment in time all he did was look at the human, unable to act nonchalant about the request. No doubt a solid part of him wanted to be horrid about it, bullish. No, we can have the conversation on the doorstep, coward. But... no, it was the smart move for all of them. Spiteful as he felt, Levka didn't want any version of this conversation rolling down the stairs. This was still his home, still a part of what kept his bears safe.

So he stepped back to make room, a vague gesture toward the interior space as he never removed his gaze from the speaker.

The common room would have been welcoming in better circumstances. Large windows on the side looking out over the parking lot and the mountain beyond, warm wooden walls, a fireplace, several couches and low tables. A place meant for gathering--though their numbers had never risen to a point where this much space was even necessary. Levka didn't think about that now, or really often at all as of late.
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