“Not needing to lie to people, to be able to be who you used to be… it’s necessary.”
Thursday night, 17 March 2016, AM
GM: At 4 AM, she’s back at Pete’s office in the Evergreen. She knocks and comes in to find the detective changing out of a torn and bloodstained shirt into a fresh one.
Celia: She doesn’t mean to let her gaze linger, but it does. She’d be lying to herself if she said she’d never thought about it. Even the faint whiff of blood is enough to lengthen her fangs; she keeps her lips closed until the bloody shirt is disposed of. No need to give the detective the wrong idea.
Not really the wrong idea when there’s some kernel of truth in there somewhere.
GM: Pete’s shirtless frame isn’t as buff Roderick’s, who looks to Celia like he spent a lot of time at the bench press before Coco Embraced him, carefully sculpting his body to the point he wanted it to stay at forever. Pete has muscle, but he’s more wiry. Harder-seeming, in a way. More gristle and grit than sculpted excellence.
“A night,” he says as he takes his seat.
Celia: Maybe he’ll let her touch him up next time she… touches him down? Unfixes his face? Whatever he wants to call it where she makes him older and uglier. The thought of Roderick absurdly makes her think of her sire and how buff he is by comparison (or at least what she’s seen of him, one whole forearm), but she tries not to let her thoughts wander down that path.
Celia closes the door and takes the seat across from him. She fishes through her purse for the thermos.
“Maybe this’ll make it better?”
GM: She tries, but they still do, until Pete opens the thermos. He doesn’t need to take a whiff.
He looks at it, then up to her.
“Celia, I overreacted last night,” he says with a sigh.
Celia: “Why do you say?”
GM: “Because I thought I was in love with your mom.”
“I’ve only spoken to her, what, once, twice, seven years ago.”
Celia: Denial, she thinks, but she simply nods.
GM: “I was in love with the idea of her.”
Celia: Her lips twist.
GM: “A cop’s work isn’t honest work in this city. Everyone is on the take. I can count on one hand the number of cops I’ve known who aren’t on the take.”
“I’m on the take, just to maintain my cover.”
“And that’s just the baseline. The normal joes clocking in to work every day, not thinking about it beyond that.”
“The real pieces of work. The Ricky Moutons. The Rich Gettises. The things they do and get away with. I’ve known cops who shoved pregnant women down flights of stairs. Who shook down old ladies for their social security checks. Who sold drugs on the streets. Who rape and steal and terrify and murder because they can get away with it, with near impunity. Thugs, animals, with badges.”
“Brass doesn’t care.”
“If you live in a posh place in the Garden District and an escort overdoses in your bedroom, or you just decide it would be fun to strangle her and not let go until the light goes out in her eyes, the right thing to do is call the cops.”
“Because they’ll sweep it up.”
“They know who butters their bread.”
Celia: Is he trying to convince her that he isn’t a good person because other people in the same occupation aren’t good people? That, what, her mom is a breath of fresh air because she’s pure an innocent and good, and it’s that ideal woman that he wants so he can take a break from the rest of the horrible world?
She’s quiet while he talks. She knows all about being in love with the idea of someone.
“But you’re not that person.”
GM: “I try not to be. But this isn’t about me and that.”
“We put on a uniform hoping to protect and serve, to make a difference in our communities. I did, at least.”
“I knew it wouldn’t be a bed of roses, when I signed up. I knew enough of how the world worked.”
“I still wanted to be the good guy. There are so few times, you get to just be the good guy.”
“Then your family called 911. And I got to be the good guy. I got to help a sweet mother and daughter get out from under their almost comically evil ex-husband and father.”
Celia: Sweet. That girl doesn’t exist. Not anymore. Maybe not even then.
And they hadn’t called 911. They’d called one of those “real pieces of work” because her grandmother had told her to call him, not the cops, someone who would actually do something.
She doesn’t interrupt.
GM: “How much I actually helped is debatable, but I got to be the good guy who did gentlemanly things like pick up a gaggle of kids in his car.”
“And that’s it.”
“The girl became a vampire and I didn’t see or speak to her mother again.”
Celia: “That’s not really it. You called me when you hadn’t heard from her the next night. You… explained everything to me when I got in over my head. You went to the hospital with me to get her, to move her. You took me to the doctor to fix her.”
He’d ponied up a fair amount of cash for it, too.
GM: “We can amend that to ’didn’t speak to her mother again.’ The point being, Celia, I was fixated on who I got to be to her. I loved who I got to be, for that brief moment. But past that, we’re practically strangers to each other.”
“She’s your mother and your ghoul. Do whatever you think is right with her. It’s not my business.”
Celia: She doesn’t know what he wants from her. He’s lying to her. Lying to himself, too, if he really thinks that it’s all that is. He’s been carrying a torch for her for years. And sure, maybe it’s unrequited, maybe it’s doomed, maybe she’s wrong and it is just the idea of being a hero and who he gets to be around Diana that he’s in love with… but isn’t that what love is? Being who you are inside, letting the other person bring out the best version of you? Isn’t that why she loves Roderick, because, like she’d explained to her mom, she can still be Celia around him? And why, in a less rose-tinted version of unlife, she loves her sire? Because she can be Jade around him?
…is she Jade? Or is she Celia? She can’t be both.
Is Jade just who she thinks her sire and Veronica want her to be, and Celia is… who she wants to be?
Maybe she doesn’t know who she wants to be.
Maybe she is a—
She stops that thought before it finishes.
She doesn’t argue the point with him. She doesn’t tell him he’s wrong. It brings up too many questions about herself, and if she’s not ready to deal with those demons then she doubts that he’s ready to deal with his.
“I don’t want her to be my ghoul,” she finally says. “I just want her to be my mom.”
GM: A bald man could tell her what she is.
Paul could tell her what she is.
Roderick is happy to tell her what she is, even if his answer probably isn’t the same as theirs.
Could her sire tell her too?
Savoy can. Her mom can. Dani can. Maybe Pete can.
Isn’t that the problem, that everyone all has such different visions for the Jade or Celia they want their Jade or Celia to be?
“It’s a little late for that,” says Pete.
Celia: If all of them know, then somewhere inside of her she knows too.
“It’s not,” she says to Pete.
“I might have found a solution.”
Celia: “I mean, the problem is the Masquerade, right? If someone finds out she knows, they’ll put her down, use it against me, whatever the case may be. But… what if they don’t?”
“What if no one ever finds out?”
GM: “Then that’s that. If she can keep a secret.”
Celia: “It’s more than that. There’s a… there’s a ritual.”
“No one would even look at her then.”
GM: “‘Ritual’ can have an infinitude of possible effects. That doesn’t narrow things down.”
Celia: “She’d be lucky. Lucky enough that anyone who wanted to investigate her would be sidetracked. Lucky enough that if someone were to fire a gun at her it’d misfire, or ricochet off a conveniently placed thing and hit them instead. Lucky enough that she wouldn’t suffer the effects of withdrawal when I stop giving her blood.”
GM: Pete frowns. “What’s powering it?”
Celia: “I don’t know if there’s a name for what they are. But there are people out there that are—” how had Marcel put it?—‘“blessed with good fortune.’ And I found one. Earlier tonight. And if I help someone with a big favor, he said he’d do the ritual for me and transfer the luck to a person of my choice."
GM: The Tremere’s frown deepens. “I’ve not heard of something like this.”
Celia: Neither had she. But there’s a lot she hasn’t heard of.
“I saw it in action, Pete. This guy walked out in front of cars and they all missed him. People tripped when they tried to punch him. He got out of handcuffs that had him tied to a bed. The bullet thing? I watched that happen.”
GM: “I believe you. There’s a lot of strange stuff out there.” His frown doesn’t abate. “I’m just wondering if that’s all it is.”
Celia: “He said they were human. Just lucky. Blessed by stars or fates or gods or something.”
GM: “All power has an origin. And side effects.”
Celia: She’s seen those side effects in play.
“It’s worth trying, isn’t it? I can always re-ghoul her if things go sideways.”
GM: Pete chews his lip.
“I think it’s an avenue worth looking into. But I’d advise looking it into before you go ahead with it.”
Celia: “Bit of a time crunch. He said the luck is going to start running out in about a week. And I have to figure out the favor before then.”
GM: “Who’s ‘he?’”
Celia: “Marcel Guilbeau.”
GM: Pete grunts. “Guy who runs a business where luck is king. Suppose it makes sense he’d know.”
“One concept that’s fairly universal in occult traditions is sympathy. Like draws like. It’s why you make voodoo dolls with somebody’s hair.”
“Do you consider your mother an already lucky person?”
Celia: Does she? She’s never really thought about it.
“I don’t think she’s unlucky,” she says at length. “I think some not so good things have happened to her but she’s managed to persevere. I think it’s lucky that I’m her daughter, that I… that I died for her. That Lucy has turned out like she is. That she found a good lawyer when she needed one. That she’s happy and healthy, besides the leg. That she’s lucky the same daughter can find the tools to fix said leg, or when your friend gets back into town learn to do it myself.”
The more she thinks about it, the more it seems likely that Diana is maybe a little bit lucky.
“Lucky that you were the cop to show up. That you helped. That you knew a doctor to fix her.”
GM: Pete grunts. “Could do worse, it sounds. But like I said. I’d advise looking further into this before you go ahead with anything.”
Celia: “I planned on it. I still just also have to get the favor out of the way.” A hopeful glance.
“I’m not going to let him do it to her without further research. Just, you know, time crunch.”
GM: “All right. Was there anything else tonight?”
Celia: Not even a nibble? Damnit, Pete.
GM: He waits expectantly.
Celia: “There’s a few things,” she hedges. “If you have a minute.”
GM: “Spit it out, Celia.”
Celia: So she does.
“Do you know anything about demons?”
GM: “More than your average Camarilla lick, I expect, but I’m not an expert.”
Celia: “But your sire is,” she presses.
“Krystin said maybe he is,” she amends.
GM: “It’s not an area he’s a specialist in either. But I expect my sire does know more about demons than me.”
Celia: And he’s less murder-y than Pete’s grandsire.
“Oh. Is there an expert in the city? Or could you… introduce me? For a favor, or whatever he needs? Or you.”
GM: “I could introduce you. The Sanctified are usually the experts when it comes to demons. There are some Tremere who make a more dedicated study of demonology, but it’s a black art.”
Celia: She’ll just ask her sire than, shall she?
“I thought this would be a more accessible route.”
GM: “Could be. Depends what you want to know.”
“I think I met one.”
Celia: Celia pulls the library papers out of her bag.
“Do you remember the thing that bugged my spa? So I followed it and it led here,” she points at the photo from the newspaper of the condemned house, “and this thing inside tried to eat me but I got out and I think we’re kind of friends now and I saw this lady come out tonight when I went back and she did this weird magic vanish-y trick with this, like, tainted blood that made her teleport out of the area. Not like vanish, like actually teleport, and she didn’t smell like vitae or anything but she did magic so I went to the library and it says right here that the guy wasn’t in his right mind, but that he was cooking his girlfriend but they didn’t find anything in his stomach so he didn’t eat her but this thing inside the house I think is what ate her, like he was feeding it maybe, and then you see right here how there’s this lack of remorse and empty feeling and hacksaw and I… met with someone who was like that but had an exorcism and said it was a demon.”
GM: Pete blinks for a moment to process that all.
“…all right, so what’s your interest in that? You think this possible demon bugged your spa?”
Celia: “Sort of? Also I was wondering if what this other person said is true?”
“Because I don’t know why a demon would bug my spa.”
GM: “I’d be at a loss to say why either. So you think the woman bugged your spa?”
Celia: “I have no idea who she is, though.”
“Or why they’d target me.”
GM: “What’d she look like?”
Celia: “I thought maybe it’d be like… hunters. Or Setites. Or honestly I thought it was Duke since it was kind of a botch job but it wasn’t, so…”
Celia describes the woman.
GM: “Hm. Can’t say I recognize. If you obtained an object she’s touched, I could get a look at her face. Having that would give some leads to run down.”
Celia: She could poke around the house. Maybe.
Or the bug.
GM: “Alternatively, bug the place in case she comes back.”
“Review the security around your spa, too.”
Celia: “I will.”
“I’d still like to learn more about them. This is pressing, of course, but so is the other person’s claim.”
GM: “Then as I said. I can introduce you to my sire, or I’d ask a priest like your Benson pal.”
Celia: Celia doesn’t think it’s going to be that easy with Benson, but she nods anyway.
GM: “Is that a yes or a no to him?”
Celia: “Yes, please.”
GM: “All right. I’ll ask.”
Celia: “Thank you. Any word on that stake?”
“I hit a wall with how I was looking into it. Fake name. Hate the idea of the hunters running around unchecked, though.”
GM: “On any given night there are who even knows how many hunters doing just that.”
Celia: “Then I hate the idea of hunters who went after my boyfriend unchecked.”
“And would like to find out who and what and why.”
“Since you said they seem… off.”
GM: “Hunter with the stake hasn’t said anything I want to make any moves over yet. Off or not, spying on hunters tends to be a lot like drug stings. Lot of waiting.”
Celia: “I s’pose I’ll learn to be patient, then.”
“Let me know, yeah? I’d like to assist.”
GM: “I will.”
Celia: “Thanks,” she says, tucking her papers back into her bag.
“Hey Pete,” she ventures after a moment, “do you need anything from me? You’ve been really helpful lately with everything and I just… you know?”
GM: “Yeah. I’ll let you know there, too, once there’s something.”
Celia: She nods. She’d told him the other night—anything.
“I’ll get out of your hair, then.”
She can figure out the rest of it on her own, she’s sure.
Thursday night, 17 March 2016, AM
GM: Roderick and Dani meet Celia back at her haven.
If he’s plotting to kidnap her, it looks like he’s planning to do that later.
Celia: All those terrible thoughts for nothing.
“How was your night?” she asks the pair.
GM: “It was good,” smiles Roderick, squeezing his sister’s shoulder. “We stopped off at Waffle House, then walked if off at City Park.”
“Stephen said we didn’t actually need to, because he’s pretty sure I can’t get fat,” says Dani. “I said we’d beat him up if I do.”
“There aren’t a lot of healthy places open 24/7,” says Roderick.
“He ate so much food,” says Dani. “A Texas cheesesteak melt, bacon, egg breakfast, triple chocolate pie…”
“Hey, it was all coming back out.”
Celia: “Might as well make it worth the purge.”
The thought of eating makes her nauseous.
GM: “City Park was nice,” says Dani. “Isn’t really anyone else there this late. We just walked for a while, and… caught up. Or started to.”
“I’ve been gone for a lot of years,” says Roderick, giving his sister another squeeze.
“I’d never have wished the Embrace on her, or anyone, but… it’s just such a weight off. To have someone else who knows me as Stephen. Who I can be honest around.”
Celia: That’s what she was afraid of.
“I’m happy for you two. Glad you were able to work things out.”
“Not needing to lie to people, to be able to be who you used to be…” She curls against Roderick’s side. “It’s necessary.”
GM: “Me too,” says Dani, closing her eyes a moment to lean against her brother’s other side. “Just to have someone else who I can be open with, who doesn’t mind I’m duskborn…”
Roderick smiles and gives both women’s shoulders a squeeze.
“You were right, too, that he knows a lot,” says Dani. “But we tried not to talk too much about Kindred stuff, tonight.”
Celia: She doesn’t like this sharing thing.
“I told you he’s a good source. Better than me, I bet, with the history.” She tries for a wry smile but it ends up closer to a grimace.
Her eyes find any other spot in the room to rest on. She should be happy for them.
GM: Roderick rubs her back.
“Luck of Embrace, there. So much of what you can learn comes down to who you know. It’s not like we publish history books.”
“I’m glad she has us both, though. It sounds like she’s learned a lot of valuable things from you already.”
Celia: Lucky him. With his perfect sire. And his perfect Requiem. And his perfect job as the perfect scribe.
“Glad I could help.”
GM: “She mentioned the experiments you did to explore the limits of her powers. Good thinking with those.”
“He said he had some ideas too,” says Dani. “But like I said. We tried to limit tonight to personal stuff.”
Celia: She’s glad that while she was being molested by skinheads they were able to enjoy a stroll in the park. And chocolate pie.
“We should probably compare notes, see what we can find out.”
GM: Roderick nods. “I’ll consult what sources I can, too. We’ll find out everything we can. I want Dani to be the most knowledgeable duskborn in the city.”
“Speaking of more personal things, though…” says Dani, looking between the other two. “I just want to say, if you guys want to get married… go for it. I’d love to be your sister too, Celia.”
“I can’t imagine a better match. For either of you.”
Celia: Her lips form a smile.
Inside, though, she thinks how wrong the girl is.
She’ll ruin Roderick. And Dani. And everyone else who gets too close.
“Thanks,” she says, ignoring the pang. “He promised a super extravagant, romantic proposal.” She nudges him with her elbow. Finds another smile.
“I’m sure Mom will be thrilled.”
GM: Roderick smiles at the two.
“I’ll make it good. Enough to make up for the spoiled surprise.”
“And thanks, Dani. It means a lot to have your blessing.”
Celia: “Still probably a small ceremony,” she says with an effected sigh.
GM: “I’d rather have a small one, anyways,” says Roderick. “Big weddings are such a hassle. And I think you wind up inviting a bunch of people who honestly aren’t that meaningful in your life.”
Celia: “I know. Just…” She trails off. “It doesn’t matter, anyway.”
GM: “I want ours to be something intimate. With the people we love, not just co-workers and casual friends and distant relatives we haven’t seen in forever.”
His face falls a bit.
“I just wish Dad could come and know it’s me.”
Celia: He could.
Two ghouled parents.
Celia glances at Dani.
GM: Dani meets her gaze, then says,
“We could tell him the truth…”
Roderick just shakes his head.
“But would that be so bad?” she asks. “Stephen, it’d… it’d heal such a big hole in his heart, knowing you’re still alive…”
“That’s the temptation every lick faces,” Roderick answers heavily. “But if I tell Dad, why shouldn’t Celia tell Emily and her mom?”
“But they don’t think she’s dead,” says Dani.
Celia: “Emily would be a terrible renfield, anyway.”
GM: Roderick shakes his head. “I think making any family member into a renfield is a terrible idea.”
“You don’t have to make him a ghoul,” says Dani. “You could just tell him the truth.”
Roderick shakes his head again. “That’s almost as bad an idea.”
Celia: “What if no one found out…?”
GM: Roderick looks between them. “Dad’s a crusader. If we told him about this… he wouldn’t leave it alone.”
“It’s not in our family’s nature.”
“He wouldn’t just sit on the sidelines.”
“He’d take whatever action he thought was right.”
“And he’s a powerful, connected man. A Masquerade breach like that… you can’t just clean it up with a one-time boon to a lick who can mindfuck people.”
Celia: Like putting down his son if he found out that he’s an undead abomination?
Is that what she saw in the vision? What she heard—the pounding of a gavel? Is it a court?
GM: “Emily’s just a med student. Celia’s mom is just a dance teacher. If either of them came forward, people would try to commit them, and that would be that. Dad could do god knows what in his position.”
Celia: “You think he would? Turn on you? Expose it? Expose us?”
GM: “I don’t think he’d turn on us,” says Roderick. “All I know is that leaving things alone isn’t in his nature.”
“And that once the genie is out of the bottle, there’s no putting him back in.”
Celia: “It was a nice thought, though.”
GM: Dani sighs.
“Well, Lucy will be an adorable flower girl, at least.”
Celia: “She will,” Celia agrees. “And we can invite him even if he doesn’t know it’s you, Rod.”
GM: He gives a sad smile. “True enough. I just wish… I just wish I could make him whole, and that it’s not just his dead son’s ex he’s seeing get married. Thinking the whole time if this could have been me walking down the aisle.”
Celia: If he even shows. He thinks Celia cheated on his son. Why come to the wedding?
GM: “I’m not sure he’ll even want to come, honestly. Especially if he’s gotten less social, like you’ve said,” he says to Dani.
Dani frowns. “Well, maybe if the dinner goes well, we can swing it.”
Celia: “He thinks I cheated on you,” Celia says bluntly.
“I doubt he’ll be happy to see me or accept an invitation.”
GM: “We can fix that,” says Dani.
“We can tell him… enough of the truth, without lying. We can say you were basically forced to break up. That you were under a ton of pressure, and you believed this was the best thing for Stephen.”
Celia: “I was planning on talking to him privately, before the dinner. If he’ll listen.”
GM: “What would you tell him?” asks Roderick.
Celia: “A version of the truth. That I was raped. That you and I had a pregnancy scare and you told me you weren’t ready to be a dad. That my conception was because of rape, and I wouldn’t do that to a child, but I wouldn’t force you into something you didn’t want. That I… told you I cheated on you so you wouldn’t stick around, so I didn’t ruin your life.”
GM: “With the idea you were raped by… your dad, and that’s how Lucy came to be?” says Roderick.
“I don’t think he needs to hear that much detail,” says Dani.
“He shouldn’t,” says Roderick, “it’s just important to have a guiding narrative in mind.”
Celia: “I was just going to leave the guy blank. It’s not as if there’s—”
Well, that doesn’t matter.
GM: “Okay. So Lucy was a product of rape. We had a pregnancy scare. I wasn’t ready to be a dad. All of this happened at a terrible time. You told me you cheated, to push me away. All of that is actually true,” considers Roderick.
“Okay. I think that’ll work. It means… a lot to me, that we aren’t actually lying to him, just not telling the full truth. It’s the closest thing we can be to honest.”
“That’s really smart, Celia.”
Celia: The words are almost foreign to her.
“Thanks,” she says after a minute.
GM: He smiles and rubs her back.
“We should get back to my place, if we’re still going to have time for your lesson.”
“He’s going to teach me, too,” smiles Dani. “But he said we’re at different levels, so different lessons would be best for now.”
Celia: “Makes sense. Maybe you can learn with Logan. Apparently Emily’s boyfriend handed him his ass earlier.”
“Did I tell you that he already likes you more than Randy because you know how to fight?”
GM: “You mentioned him. HEMA guy, right?” says Roderick. “I’m not surprised. I doubt Logan had any training with swords.”
Celia: “He was a real brat about it.”
GM: “If you’ve not had training, prepare to get handed your ass. If I were still a breather, I might lose to Emily’s boyfriend. I’ve probably spent less time handling swords than he has.”
Celia: “It was more the attitude that I find amusing.”
GM: “Still, it’s flattering. Call me old-fashioned, but guys should know how to defend their women.”
“Oh my god, so sexist,” Dani says exaggeratedly.
Celia: Like her sire pulling her from the Dollhouse?
…does that make her his woman?
She tunes out the siblings, lost in the thought.
“He’ll be real upset when I hand him his ass,” she tacks on belatedly.
GM: “I’d like us to get to that point, actually,” Roderick answers seriously. “I’d feel more confident in your safety knowing you can go toe to toe with me.”
Dani’s smile dips a bit.
Maybe Celia could do that, some night.
Celia: “Hey,” she says to Dani, “there’s more to vampires than being a meathead like your brother. We’re taking another step tomorrow night, okay? You’ll get there. We’ll figure it out.”
They always do.
Thursday night, 17 March 2016, AM
GM: Back at Roderick’s new haven, Luna’s owner gives her lots of pets and belly rubs before Celia’s ready to come back. As he reminds her.
“We should get into a routine. The more times we practice, the harder the routine will be to break.”
They spend some time sparring. Roderick says she’s coming along well. “Maybe tomorrow night we can mix things up, and have you teach me those claws.”
“We should have you practice with those out too, come to think, if they’re your favored means of fighting.”
Celia: “You said they might make you lose it. That they’d actually hurt. How are you going to wake me if we both slip into the red?”
GM: “I’ve been thinking about that. I could get some arm guards.”
“Or could you dull them?”
Celia: She can’t help but think of the pair she gave her sire. They’d stop her claws. A knife. A sword. They were built for it.
“I can try.”
She hasn’t had much of a reason for dull claws. But she’s adept at shifting the rest of herself as needed, why not those?
GM: “Sounds good,” he smiles as they make their way to bed. He pulls off his sweats, then ‘helps’ Celia remove hers, and is true to his word about fucking her silly before dawn comes.
Celia: It’s the perfect time to strike.
He’ll never know. All she has to do is use the trick her alleged sire taught her, pull the cloud over his eyes, spill a little blood. Break the hold his sire has over him. It’ll pull him right into her arms. It’ll prevent any nonsense about Dani getting between them; she’ll be his rock, not the little thin-blood bitch.
All she has to do is slip the collar around his throat.
It’s afterward, while she lies pressed against his side, her boyfriend decidedly not fully bound to her, that she says what’s on her mind.
“You called me smart tonight.”
GM: “You are smart,” he smiles, his arms contently wrapped around her.
“It runs in the family. Your grandma’s a respected legal mind.”
“Your mom attended college with a family and career to balance.”
“Even your dad, much as I hate to admit it, isn’t an idiot.”
Celia: He’s not her dad, though. The words stick in her throat.
GM: “A scumbag rapist wifebeating child abuser, but not an idiot.”
“I’m sure the ways he belittled you aren’t possible to just get over, though. I’m sorry.”
“But he is wrong. Objectively wrong. You are smart.”
Celia: “Not as smart as you, though.” A higher pitch at the final word turns it into half a question.
GM: Her lover shakes his head.
“There are countless metrics by which to quantity intelligence. Even IQ scores are just an average of a panoply of separate, distinct tests. People tend to forget that part. A high IQ score is well and good if you get a consistently high score across all tests, but most people score higher on some tests and lower on others. Most people are good at different things.”
“Saying ’you’re smarter’ is like saying ’you’re more knowledgeable’. It’s an almost meaningless statement by itself. Smarter at what? More knowledgeable about what? I’m more knowledgeable than you about law, but you know more than I do about medical science. I don’t have a degree in that field like you do.”
Celia: The words are a balm to years-old wounds.
Why had she thought he’d just say yes? Why had she thought he’d take an opportunity to kick her while she’s vulnerable?
Because she expects it from everyone else.
But he’s not everyone else. He’s Stephen and she’s Celia and they love each other and even though the rest of the world sucks, theirs doesn’t have to. They can build a(n un)life together and be happy, and no one can take that away from them.
GM: Perhaps not.
But Celia’s last thought before daysleep takes her is of her sire’s face.