“She lied to me.”
Friday night, 18 March 2016, AM
GM: The pair drive back to Flawless. Dani and the brothers are there, in Jade’s suite. Carolla lies on the central table with a stake pounded into him. Somewhat needlessly, given his torpid state.
Celia: Better safe than sorry, though.
“Where’s the ghoul?” she asks Dani.
GM: “You need him for anything? ‘Cuz to me he sounded like a giant headache she couldn’t work up the stones to take care of,” answers Reggie.
Celia: Surely he’s not talking about her.
Jade gives him a sharp look.
GM: “Well, that’s too bad. I already killed him.”
Celia: “You what?!”
GM: Dani’s mouth falls open.
Roderick seizes the ghoul by the throat and slams him back-first into the wall.
Celia is at his side in an instant, hands on the arm holding up the ghoul, pulling him back.
Or attempting to.
GM: She finds the Brujah’s grip quite implacable. Randy yells, “Hey!” and tries to pry him off too, but Roderick just shoves him hard enough to send the ghoul sprawling over his face. Reggie gives a pained grunt past the vice-like hand around his throat, but doesn’t struggle.
Celia: “Rod! Stop it!”
There’s not much room between the pair, but she worms her way in what space exists all the same, shoving at Rod with the flats of her palms.
“Stop it. Stop it! Let him go.”
GM: “I could… read this whole thing…” grunts Reggie. “Princess throwin’ a fit… ‘oh, no, don’t be the bad guy!‘… pissed at you, if you did it… but scared shitless he’d remember… giant fuckin’ liability…”
He manages a grin.
“So Mr. Bad Guy took care of it…”
Celia: He’s right.
GM: “Go on… Mr. Tough Guy… you gonna kill me instead?”
Celia: “Shut UP, Reggie!” Celia snaps at him. She turns back to Roderick.
“Roderick, please, let him go.”
GM: Roderick doesn’t answer. His fangs are distended, his eyes wide and furious. A choked half-growl escapes his throat.
Dani turns from staring daggers at Reggie to looking Celia with fear. She starts to edge away.
“Is he gonna lose it…?”
Celia: “Get out, Dani. Go. Randy, go. Now.”
Celia waits until she hears the door close, then reaches for Roderick, hands on either side of his face.
“Stop it,” she says to him. There’s no fear in her voice or face, just a gentle command. Soft, like the rest of her, but there’s steel in her spine now. She’s not going to let her boyfriend become a murderer. “Reel it in. You don’t want to hurt him. You don’t want to be like him. Let him go. Let him go, and we’ll deal with this. You are not a murderer.”
GM: The ghoul and thin-blood give the two vampires a long look, but edge their way out.
Roderick squeezes Reggie until his smirk is completely gone and he starts to turn blue. Survival instincts overtake the smugness in his eyes as he starts to fight back. The Blood enhances his muscles too, and for a moment it looks like he might throw Roderick off before the Brujah clamps a second hand around his throat. The two struggle for several moments, but in the end, it isn’t physical strength that decides Reggie’s life, but Celia’s gentle yet unwavering implorations. The burgeoning fury in Roderick’s eyes wavers like a torch under heavy rain, then finally gutters out as he drops the ghoul to his feet. Reggie gags and massages his neck.
Roderick stares down at him.
“Get out of my sight, you trash.”
The ghoul silently picks himself up, hand still to his neck, and retreats from the room.
Celia: Celia helps him to his feet if he lets her, moving with him to the edge of the room to see him out. He doesn’t need her, but she needs him; she needs to make sure he’s okay, that he’s breathing, that he isn’t about to keel over. She locks the door behind him and turns to face the Brujah.
GM: Roderick slowly shakes his head.
“I’d have killed him if you hadn’t talked me down.”
“He should have known better.”
Celia: “He should have. And he didn’t. And you didn’t.”
GM: “I do know better. That’s what’s so fucking awful about it.”
“Because it doesn’t matter.”
Celia: “It does matter. We don’t judge other people by their intentions, just by their actions. And you didn’t do anything. That is what matters.”
GM: “This time.”
Celia: “Yeah? So you’re going to mope about it because you might maybe one day lose it again?”
“You’re going to beat yourself up about it because this time you didn’t but you have the potential to?”
“You know what, Roderick? So do I. Every time I go out and feed I have the potential to murder someone, and I don’t, and I’m not going to sit here being mad about it because I might.”
GM: He shakes his head again. “I’m not going to mope. I’m just wondering how long I’ll last before I lose it.”
“Really lose it.”
“Your clan likes to say they don’t have a curse. Mine finds that harder to spin.”
Celia: “Of course we have a fucking curse. We all do. And we all have a Beast.”
GM: “Ours is worse. But that’s nothing new.” He looks at the door. “Your ghoul needs to face justice.”
“He murdered a defenseless man.”
Celia: “Yeah? What do you propose I do to him?”
GM: “I’m sure he’s done a lot of illegal things. Let him go to prison.”
Celia: “He’s a ghoul. You know that’s a terrible idea.”
GM: “Abandoned ghouls exist. Independents. But I suppose he might come after you,” Roderick relents.
“Trade him to another domitor.”
GM: “Because I doubt they’ll be as kind as you.”
Celia: “Hand him off to get abused. Do you hear yourself?”
“Why, knowing what I’ve been through, do you think that I would willingly do that to someone?”
“You think smacking him around some is going to make him a better person?”
“You think it worked on my mom, Roderick? Made her better when my dad hit her?”
“Think it made me smarter when he knocked me around?”
“You think that time he beat me until I could barely walk was for my benefit?”
GM: “My god no, Celia! But there was a critical difference. He’s a murderer. You and your mom weren’t. Should he just get away with that? Should there be no accountability? He obviously doesn’t regret what he’s done.”
Celia: “Of course he doesn’t! You think I don’t know that? That he absolutely thinks he did the right thing? You heard him. And he’s right. He did do the right thing. He got his hands dirty so I didn’t have to. So you didn’t have to. That guy was absolutely a liability.”
“He did what he did to protect me.”
“To protect you.”
GM: Roderick shakes his head. “I won’t ever condone murder, Celia, except in direct self-defense. We could have found another way, like we have with Carolla. Maybe gotten a lick good at mind control to erase his memories. That’s off the table now.”
Celia: “Yeah. So is finding out what he knew. So are all of the answers I’d have gotten from him. It sucks. I’m mad at him too. And I can’t bring him back to life. So unless you can, we’re moving on.”
“Because unless you’re secretly friends with the prince or someone else who can erase years worth of memories, Reggie isn’t going anywhere. He knows everything about me. I will deal with him.”
GM: “Your ghoul can’t just get away with murder, Celia. There needs to be a consequence for his actions.”
Celia: “And, as his domitor, I will handle it.”
“I don’t tell you what to do with your ghouls. Don’t tell me what to do with mine.”
GM: “I hope you would tell me, actually, if they did something awful and my response seemed inadequate.”
“But fine. He is your ghoul. I trust you’ll handle it.”
Celia: Celia stares at him a moment longer, as if waiting for another argument. When it doesn’t come she finally nods.
“I’ll get rid of it.” The body, she means.
GM: “Okay.” He raises no objection.
He looks at Carolla.
Celia: “His, too.” She jerks her chin at the torpid lick.
GM: “I have things I’d like to ask him. But our blood isn’t strong enough to revive him.”
Celia: “No,” she agrees.
GM: “And I don’t want to bring in anyone else.”
Celia: “I was thinking the same.”
GM: “I’ll take care of him. Bury him somewhere no one will ever unearth him.”
Celia: Celia shakes her head.
“I have a better idea.”
GM: Roderick thinks.
“Wait. Could you change his body?”
Celia: “…for what purpose?”
GM: “Hiding who he is when we transport him. Just in case someone gets a look.”
Celia: “I mean, yeah. Skin is skin. I can change it.”
GM: “Extra layer of security.”
“Maybe take away his muscles, too.”
Celia: “Yeah? Graft them on you?”
GM: “God, no. I’m happy with mine. I don’t want anything from his body on me. I just like the idea of a tough Mafia thug being made weak.”
“Further helps conceal who he is, too.”
Celia: “Yeah. I can. Ask Randy to get me a cup. And a bag.”
GM: “Too bad he’s not awake. I’d like to see how he reacts to being the weak and helpless one.”
“Granted, I suppose you can’t take away his super-strength.”
Celia: “Probably not. Just his regular strength. I think.”
“I guess I’ve never tested that.”
“Just the other way.”
GM: “Perfect time to find out, then.”
Celia: “No, I mean, we won’t know without him being up.”
“Obviously I can take it.”
GM: “Ah. True. What was your idea, anyway?”
Celia: “There’s an apron in the next—oh.”
“I found the hunters that tracked me. I have a way to contact them. I was sending the boys undercover. Tomorrow, actually. We’d hatched the plan. Works better if they bring a body, though.”
“Find out what they know. Who else they’re targeting. Keep people safe.”
GM: “So your ghouls as ostensible hunters are bringing the body to trade to other hunters?”
Celia: Celia nods.
GM: “Only reason I can think of they’d want a staked lick is for interrogation and perhaps research purposes.”
Celia: “Not like they can revive him.”
GM: “Yeah, I was about to say.”
“If they even know how that works.”
Celia: “The ones who grabbed me were pretty clueless.”
“They’d heard of the mindfucking, kept me blindfolded or gagged by turns, but I’m not a fucking stiff.”
GM: “Most hunters don’t know a lot. And you’d need fairly potent blood to revive another lick, anyway.”
“So it gets us some intel. And gets rid of him.”
“Drain him first, so they don’t create independents or anything.”
GM: “Okay. Your cover will probably be blown after the handoff, though. Or they’ll at least be pissed.”
Celia: “I’ll deal with it if it is.”
GM: “They’ll have paid for a staked vampire that’s effectively just a corpse. I’d feel ripped off if I was a hunter.”
Celia: “Sucks for them.”
GM: “Main question. What do they do with his body when he seems for all intents and purposes to be dead?”
Celia: Celia shrugs.
“We’re all technically dead.”
GM: “That’s semantics here.”
Celia: She can’t help but smile.
GM: He smiles back. “I suppose they might dispose of the body. Or perhaps vivisect for study, if they’re a more scientific bunch.”
Celia: “You know what’s fucked?”
“Like what’s really fucked?”
Celia: “I keep thinking that the best way to find out who they are and what they want is to let them deliver me.”
“Then get out.”
GM: “What if you make Carolla here look like you?”
“Then the hunters believe you’re tagged and bagged.”
Celia: “Yeah, but then I’m not actually there.”
“Someone bugged the spa. Looking for Jade. Shortly after I got caught as Celia and said the name Jade.”
“Said she was my sire.”
GM: “Right. So, let them think they’ve got Jade.”
“It’s not foolproof, but who knows, it might throw them off your trail.”
Celia: “That’s not a bad idea.”
GM: “It’s not like hunters go to Elysium to see you up and about.”
Celia: “I don’t know for sure that it’s connected, but maybe…”
“You know they thought that killing your sire would cure it?”
GM: “Huh. That’s how it is in some vampire media.”
Celia: “They believe all sorts of weird shit.”
GM: “I’ve also heard that rumor from some duskborn.”
“That killing your sire undoes your Embrace.”
Celia: “Couldn’t happen, though. Any time an elder dies you’d have like dozens of licks just going mortal.”
“Plus look at Max and Hennesy. His sire’s ash.”
GM: “The people circulating that rumor probably don’t know just how widespread Kindred bloodlines are. Or maybe they figure it only affects the killer.”
“I suppose Carolla is going to get a set of tits.”
Celia: “Nice tits.”
GM: A faint smile. “I can attest. If his sacrifice makes you safer from hunters, I’m all for it.”
Celia: “We should cover his disappearance more. I don’t want his uncle coming after me or my family. Or you.”
GM: Roderick nods soberly.
Celia: “Wear his face around a little, maybe.”
GM: “That’s why I was pretty paranoid about this.”
“I could wear his face, though. I know enough of how the Mafia operates.”
Celia: “…wonder if you could infiltrate.”
GM: Roderick considers.
“That’s not a bad plan at all.”
Celia: “You think you could act enough like him?”
GM: “That might be harder. What I have is the knowledge.”
Celia: “Worth thinking about, anyway.”
GM: He nods. “Very much so. For now, let’s just get rid of the real Carolla. We already did good letting two licks see him after he disappeared.”
Celia: Celia nods. She sets about gathering the supplies she’s going to need: a bowl, to drain him into. A cup, so she can use his own blood against him. A garbage bag for the spare parts. An apron for herself, a second for Rod.
“You gonna watch?” she asks him, using her claws to cut a hole in the side of his neck. A second later her hand punches through his chest to find his heart, squeezing the blood from his veins into the waiting bowl.
GM: “I’d be interested,” he nods, tying on the apron. He watches her initial work. “Geez. What’s that part for?”
Celia: “Heart is literally just a pump that moves the blood through the body. You can’t usually drain someone the whole way just through feeding, but you can this way.”
“Waste not and all that.”
GM: “That makes perfect sense.”
“Hmm. I bet a sorcerer would know all sorts of things to do with his blood.”
GM: “What do you want to use it for?”
Celia: “Drink it, mostly. I burned through enough keeping him from murdering the two of us.”
“Fucker can pay me back.”
GM: “That works. I’m getting munchies too.”
Celia, however, doesn’t find much blood to squeeze. The horribly savaged Brujah was clearly burning through a great deal over the course of the fight.
Celia: She eyes the amount she’s able to squeeze out of him. Enough to share?
More than enough to share.
“Microwave in the next room. Unless you like it cold. Can each have a hit now, save some for later?”
GM: “That works.” Roderick fills up some containers and carries them away.
He’s back a few minutes later.
“Well, cheers.” He raises his.
Celia: Celia tucks away the rest of it for later. She lifts her glass, clinking it against his.
GM: Roderick downs the blood.
Then he doesn’t move.
The glass shatters over the floor, spilling its remaining blood as it falls from slack fingers.
Celia: Celia follows suit, swallowing it down. She’s absorbed in drinking—god, she loves Brujah blood—and only glances his way when the glass hits the ground. She looks at it, then up at him, and then at the glass in her hand.
GM: Roderick leaps upon Carolla’s vivisected body with a choked roar, bringing his fists down over and over and over as he smashes bones and pulverizes flesh with mindless, ravening fury.
Celia: Celia darts backwards, away from the angry vampire. She readies a stake in case he comes at her.
GM: He doesn’t. He mindlessly savages and rips apart Carolla’s already torpid form.
Celia: She doesn’t interrupt. She remembers too well what happened last time she’d tried to do something when he’d been raging inside a confined space with her.
Better Carolla than her.
GM: He smashes in Carolla’s ribs. Rips out arms and leg from sockets. Snaps them apart. Snaps the spine. Caves in the skull.
He just keeps going.
Celia: Years as a lick has afforded her some emotional detachment to watching a body get torn apart. She’s done it enough times herself. She’s already cataloging what she’ll need to put back together. Whether she’ll be able to put him back together. How many extra parts she’ll need to fix.
But with his attention focused as it is on the Brujah, maybe he doesn’t notice her crouching near the table to get a look at the guts and parts that fly off.
You can tell so much from the flesh once it leaves a lick’s body.
GM: Roderick doesn’t cease or pause in his furious assault. His fists smash and smash and smash into Carolla’s, reducing it to no more pulp. Every part of his body—including the skull.
Celia: Maybe she’d thought there was some part of her boyfriend left. Some part of Stephen. Something that would make him not absolutely destroy the body on the table in front of him despite his rage at what he found.
But he goes for the skull, and her brief investigation comes to a halt when she sees what he’s about to do.
It’s just like at Elysium. He was going to goad Garcia into saying something that would prompt a duel. And now, here, he’s going to destroy what’s left of Carolla.
He’s going to do the one thing that he doesn’t want to do, no matter how mad he is right now.
He’s going to ash him.
The roar is torn out of her as soon as she sees it and she moves more quickly than she has this evening, bursting forward to launch herself at him. Her claws come out. He’s stronger than her, she knows that, but maybe they’ll give her the edge that she needs.
She will not let him destroy the fucker—not matter how much he deserves it—and further blacken his soul. Not on her watch.
Her Beast, riding high from its victory earlier in the night, roars its approval. It rattles the cage. It wants out.
GM: She has plans enough to blacken her own soul, anyway.
Souls for power, like she said to Caroline.
The torpid Brujah is so much closer than L.A. is.
Celia: But she’s stronger than her Beast.
She always has been.
She’s not the helpless, doe-eyed damsel she pretends to be. This entire night proved that. She’d torped Carolla. Taken out him and his goon. Hatched a plan to frame someone else. Laid plans to infiltrate both the Mafia and the hunters. Told Roderick to fuck off when he thought he could tell her how to discipline her ghouls.
No, she’s not a damsel.
Just an angry lick that isn’t going to let everything she has worked so hard for be ruined by a guy with a rage issue.
GM: Celia streaks into Roderick, knocking him off the table. The frenzying Brujah smashes a fist into her face, crunching in her nose and sending teeth flying as he scrambles back towards his clanmate’s torpid form. Celia sweeps a leg underneath his, tripping her lover onto his chin. He flips around and delivers a rib-shattering kick to her torso, then scrambles to his feet. He’s too fast to stop from rising, but not so fast that she can’t still throw herself onto his back, knocking him to the floor again. Another furious fist smashes into her face. On and on and on, Roderick tries to set upon his helpless clanmate, and Celia heedlessly throws herself in his path. He shatters bone and bruises skin and worse. But Celia will not be denied. She must maintain the proper order—him the better man, her the monster. She cannot let the vision come to pass. She just has to hold out. She just has to hold him at bay until the fury passes, no matter how much it hurts, no matter how much precious blood it costs her—until, finally, it does. Roderick collapses to his knees, coated in his lover’s lifeblood, red tears welling from his own eyes.
Celia: There’s little enough vitae left in her when it’s over.
She can feel it. Gnawing. Twisting. Hungry.
She’s always so hungry.
How much of her is broken? What had he done to her? How many bones? How much of her face?
God, not her face.
Bones rejoin. Flesh rights itself. His fists don’t leave a permanent mark on her. Not anymore.
No. Not a damsel at all.
She moves to him when it’s over, sinking onto her knees beside him, pulling him into her arms. Her lips find his neck. Chaste. Brief. Her hand presses against the back of his head, holding him to her. Her fingers slide through his hair.
“I’ve got you,” she whispers. “I’ve got you.”
GM: Her lover weeps in her embrace. Tiny streams of runs over her arms, hot and furious, but undeniably grief-stricken.
“C-Celia,” Roderick rasps out, “h-e’s… he’s…!”
Celia: “Your brother,” she says for him. She leaves Coco’s name out of it. “I could taste it. Taste you.”
GM: Roderick closes his eyes for a moment. He doesn’t swallow. The physiological need is long past.
But he repeats the words himself. As if it’s important for him to say the truth aloud. To not shirk from it, in even this moment.
“He’s… my… BROTHER!”
She has never heard his voice so broken. So raw. So crushed.
Since he died.
For a moment, she’s Celia Flores, newly-Embraced fledgling again, with a mortal boyfriend she can’t stay together with. She’s telling him, the man whose children she wanted to bear, that they’re through. Because she cheated on him. Because she was broken inside and his love wasn’t enough to fix her. Because he loved her and trusted her and he made a sucker’s bet, and she twisted all of that love and trust like a knife in his gut. To hurt him like only someone you’ve opened your heart and soul to can ever hurt you.
That’s what his voice sounds like.
That moment from 2009.
When he begged her to get help.
Celia: She blinks and it’s there in her eyes: pain. The pain that she caused. Continues to cause. Now. Then.
She did this.
She made this happen.
To please someone else. To make her sire happy. To make her grandsire happy. Their goals, not hers, never hers. She doesn’t want him to hurt like this. Once is enough.
Isn’t it better, some part of her asks, that he knows? Better that found out? Better that he didn’t continue his Requiem ignorant to the fact that his sire lied to him?
That’s what it all comes down to, isn’t it. The difference between them:
He has gotten his truth and it has broken him.
The red runs down her cheeks. She doesn’t try to stop it. She doesn’t want it anymore. She doesn’t want to be this person anymore. She doesn’t want to play their games and ruin people because she, too, knows the truth: they’re all fucking terrible. Every single one of them. Except for him. He’s not. He’s not, but they’re going to ruin him. He’s not, but they’re going to blacken him. They’re going to twist him, to tear him apart, to leave him nothing but an empty, hollow corpse, because that’s what they do. That’s what they are.
And she hates them for it.
Every single one of them.
What do you do when you find out your life is a lie?
She had abandoned her mom. Left her in the hospital. Broken. Bleeding. Hurting. Isolated.
Nothing had helped.
He had. Eventually. When she’d found him, he’d been there for her. Put her back together. Let her tell him everything on her time. When she was ready. Didn’t push.
So she doesn’t push now. She keeps her arms around him, touch soft against his skin, holding him to her like she wished someone would hold her.
GM: She holds him.
Holds him as he holds the burden of his truth.
Holds him as it crushes him.
Holds him as it grinds his bones.
Holds him as it squeezes the tears from his ducts.
Holds him as he raises his head, his eyes lost and confused, like a newborn beholding the world for the first time.
And not liking what it sees.
“She lied to me,” he whispers.
“She,” he repeats, each word falling from his lips like a stone, “Lied. To. Me.”
He looks around, as if not recognizing the spa. He repeats the words again. There’s a strange, almost lyrical cadence to them, as if he can’t understand them. As if in saying them aloud, he might come to realize what they mean. They sound almost innocent.
“She… lied… to me.”
Celia: She did.
Celia doesn’t say it, though. He doesn’t need to hear it from her. There’s enough bad blood between them about his sire.
GM: He laughs. It’s a light sound. Almost a giggle.
“She lied to me.”
“She… lied to me.”
He runs a hand through his hair and bursts out laughing. His smile is huge. Far too huge for his face, like a cracked mirror being crammed into a too-small frame.
“I’m the stupid one!"
“Ah ha! Ah ha ha ha! AH HA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!”
He cannot contain the laughter. It bursts from his dead lungs, filling the room, jubilant and exalting as a cyanide pill in a birthday cake it rings off the walls.
“I see now!”
“I SEE now!”
Celia: He’s hysterical.
Celia swallows. She doesn’t know what to say.
GM: “I’m not stupid anymore, Celia!” he grins at her. He seizes her cheeks between his hands, crushingly hard.
“They all said it was you, but it was me!”
“I was stupid!"
“But not anymore!”
“Oh no! Oh no, oh no, not anymore!”
“I won’t be stupid EVER AGAIN!”
Celia: She tries to talk around the grip he has on her cheeks. But it hurts to try to move her jaw. She pulls at his hands, backpedaling.
GM: “I GET it now, Celia!” he yells, shaking her back and forth. Her skull slams into the wall hard enough to make spots blossom across her sight if she were mortal, but he doesn’t seem to notice. He throws back his head and laughs.
“I GET it! How it all really works!”
“How THEY all really work!”
“How the world really works!”
“Oh, I’m so smart, like they all said I was! I finally get it!”
Celia: She doesn’t.
She doesn’t have any idea what he’s talking about. What he thinks he gets.
Maybe it’s her head slamming into the wall. She keeps herself quiet, pulling away from him.
GM: “YOU got it!” he declares, thrusting a finger at her.
“And they all said you were so stupid.”
“Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha haha haaHAHAHAHAH!”
Celia: “Stop it, Roderick.”
GM: “You’re not stupid! You GOT IT, Celia! You got it YEARS before I did!”
“Years and years and YEARS!”
Celia: “Got what?”
GM: He throws up his hands.
“How it all works!”
He laughs again.
Celia: She doesn’t like this. It’s scaring her. He’s going to do something crazy. He’s going to do something stupid. He’s going to go cause problems somewhere.
He’s broken. They broke him. She broke him.
GM: “Took me long enough, with a brain as big as mine!”
“Well. Well, well, well, well, well. It’s time I stopped acting so stupid.”
Celia: “Roderick. Stop. Just… just take a minute, okay?”
GM: “Take me to Savoy, Celia.”
“He can be the second to see, just how smart I am now.”
Celia: Celia presses her lips together.
GM: He smiles like it’s the most obvious thing in the world.
“Take me to Savoy, so I can sell out Coco and stab her in the back like she stabbed me.”
Celia: Celia reaches for her phone. She sends a text to Mel that she’s stopping by and bringing a friend. The ghoul will know what it means.
GM: “She fed me lies for years.”
“Well, I will feed her lies right back.”
“I will feed her plenty of lies indeed.”
“I think I’m going to be very good at lying, with a big brain like mine.”
Celia: It’s what she wanted.
What she’s been working towards. What everything she’s done these past weeks has been for.
Why, then, does victory ring so hollow?
Friday night, 18 March 2016, AM
Celia: She asks him if he wants to change his face. But the lie he’s wearing right now works better. No need to tip anyone off. They keep it.
She asks, too, if he’s hungry. They take the edge off if he is. And she finds the blood she’d drained earlier to feed herself. Just in case.
She tells the boys to stay put, that she’ll be back for them, and tells Dani to get some sleep. “Something came up,” is all she says, “I’ll explain later.”
They wash off the blood and find new clothes. Celia turns herself into Jade. Then they’re in the car, driving toward the Evergreen.
GM: He waves off the offered blood. He’ll impose upon Lord Savoy. He’s sure the Toreador elder will be happy to satisfy his thirst.
“I’m going to squeeze him for everything he’s worth,” he declares.
Dani wants to talk to her brother. He tells her things are fine. He’ll see her later.
They drive to the Evergreen. He doesn’t talk along the way. Fabian receives them cordially and states Lord Savoy is due to return shortly. In the meantime, he bids the lovers to slake their thirst upon a few of Mélissaire’s girls. They feed together in one of the upstairs Louis XIV-themed sitting rooms. Roderick drinks thirstily from the attractive escort on his lap without making small talk. He licks the blood from his lips when she’s gone. He waits, patiently.
Celia: Jade doesn’t turn down the offer of free blood. They drink together. The girls are attractive; they have to be, they go to Flawless. She enjoys the way they writhe when she sinks in.
But they’re just a distraction to their real purpose this evening.
She waits with Roderick. Silent. She doesn’t force her company on him if he doesn’t want it. But she’s close, and she hopes that he does.
GM: He sits by her while she feeds, and even shares the same vessel at one point, eyes meeting as they drink. But he doesn’t seem to feel like talking once it’s done.
It’s not an overly long wait later before Antoine Savoy sweeps into the room, grinning from ear to ear. He’s trailed by Preston, Mélissaire, and a redheaded girl Jade hasn’t seen before. He warmly kisses his grandchilde upon both cheeks and greets a stonier-faced Roderick with a simple handshake.
“We have a great deal to discuss, Lord Savoy,” says the Brujah.
“Yes, I’m certain we do,” grins Savoy, clapping the taller man on the back and following him to the elevator with Preston.
“I’ll send for you in short order, my dear,” he says to Jade. “In the meantime, we’ll put Mélissaire and Theoline here at your disposal. Anything you might desire, they will arrange.”
The redhead looks no older than a teenager. Her milk-pale features are beautiful and unblemished, while her gaze is placid and tranquil. She’s garbed in a flowing white gown that strikingly contrasts her waist-length red hair and gives her an almost ethereal appearance. Jade’s seen them before, silently attending various elders. The casquette girls.
:: Use the time to think of what rewards you’d like. Don’t be modest! :: Savoy’s voice chuckles in her mind. :: I’m very, VERY pleased with you, Celia. I knew you’d come through on this one. I have good instincts for people—and so do you, to flip Coco’s childe! We’ll talk more about what kind of expanded role you might serve in my court going forward. ::
Celia: Jade halts in her tracks as the group disappears into the elevator. She’d thought that she would go with them. Would be part of it. Could listen in, learn at his side like Roderick got to with his sire.
She doesn’t let it bother her. Rewards, he’d said. Part of his court. That can be part of it.
She reaches for the tether that links their minds together, sending back wordless affirmation filled with affection. Like a cat rubbing up against his thoughts, purring, its tail flicking in quiet contentment. He’s pleased. And she’s pleased that he’s pleased. And she can’t help but think of the pair of them in that hot tub together upstairs, no Preston to be found. There’s a giggle, the suggestion of a wink, and finally a :: Yes, grandsire. ::
Don’t be modest indeed.
GM: There’s an image of the two of them lazily reclining in the pool’s bubbling water together. Preston isn’t anywhere to be found.
Or their clothes.
Her fangs lengthen at the image.
GM: “Just let us know what we can do for you, ma’am,” smiles Mélissaire as the old-fashioned wrought iron elevator coveys the other Kindred to the roof. “Lord Savoy is VERY pleased.”
Celia: Celia’s eyes stay on her boyfriend’s face until the doors close and they disappear to the floors above. She knows what she wants.
Back the way he was.
In love with her. Happy. Stressed, maybe, but happy. Working for good. Talking about a wedding.
Not this damaged, broken, cracked version of himself. Not this vengeful, spurned childe.
She wants what they had. And she’s afraid that it’s out of reach. Afraid that it wasn’t the hunters who had set him down the path to the Dark Roderick she had seen in her vision, but the betrayal of his sire.
Celia knows what she wants. But Celia is a liability in this place, and it’s not something they can do. She drowns.
Jade is there to pick up the pieces. She’s so good at her role. What had she once said? “I keep her safe.” She turns her gaze to the women.
What can they do for her? An elder ghoul and, if she’s not mistaken, a casquette girl. She’s seen them around before, and she’s heard of them, but she’s never had one at her disposal. She runs through a list of what she’s working on in her head: the hunters, the Setites, the demons.
VERY pleased, is he? She’ll see how pleased. How far that good will goes; whether or not the exiled prince is worth more to him than a viper who scurries through the Quarter.
“I need a cottonmouth,” Jade says to the ghoul. “Staked and delivered to me prior to Elysium tomorrow.”
“Failing that, a combat-trained shadow dancer for a pickup during the day.”
“Pierre, if he’s available,” she adds as an aside. He’d already made contact with the same group. Maybe he’ll give the boys an edge. It’s a bonus that she doesn’t need to change his face.
She tries to ignore the fact that she is very certain he is the one who had accosted her in the shower and received a taste of her claws for the effort.
Perhaps he shouldn’t have tried to use her without her consent.
Perhaps they’ll go for round two.
GM: “Lord Savoy will need to authorize a request like that first one,” answers Mélissaire, “but I can check and see, so far as Pierre.”
“Where and when is the pickup?”
Celia: “Tomorrow.” Jade gives her the time she’d worked out with the boys. “He’ll be with two of mine.”
A pause, then, “Let Lord Savoy know that the cottonmouth is to secure another friend for him.”
GM: Mélissaire nods and asks for a meet location or contact number so the other ghoul can know where to go.
“I think he’ll want to receive the details of that first request from you in person, ma’am. Friends don’t stake friends without a good reason, after all,” Mélissaire declares with an amused smile.
Celia: Better she tell him in person, anyway.
She gives Mel a contact number for Randy.
GM: “Very good, ma’am. Will there be anything else?” smiles the ghoul.
Theoline stands silently nearby with a placid expression.
Celia: “For tonight?” Jade considers. Something for her instead of furthering her grandsire’s goals and influence. Something personal and selfish.
She can think of dozens of things. None of them seem right.
She shifts her gaze to the casquette girl. Curiosity gnaws at her.
GM: The casquette girl meets her gaze calmly as she considers.
“Very good, ma’am,” Mélissaire repeats with another smile as she and Theoline show Jade downstairs. “Lord Savoy will be free to see you soon; he can swing tomorrow at 4 or Saturday at 3. Which of those nights would work better for you?”
Celia: “Not tonight?” She’d thought he meant tonight.
GM: “He expects dawn not to be too far off when he’s done with Mr. Durant, ma’am. He wants to give your meeting plenty of time as well.”
Celia: “Neither of those times work for me.”
GM: “I’ll check when a later time might be arranged, in that case.”
Celia: She wonders if he’s used to nobodies like Jade telling him that she’s busy.
“Let his guest know I’m going home for the evening.”
GM: Indeed, Jade could simply reschedule for the elder.
“I’ll do just that, ma’am. Have a very good night—you’ve been of great help to Lord Savoy,” wishes Mélissaire, bowing low.
Celia: She’s already had her meetings bumped. His own fault for only being free when she has other people to meet.
It’s like he did it on purpose.
Jade nods to the pair of ghouls and sees herself out.
Friday night, 18 March 2016, AM
Celia: A text to Randy on the way out of the Evergreen assures that everything she needs is waiting for her when she gets back to Flawless. It might mean he has to take a trip to pick up the thin-blood she’d given them earlier to hold onto, but whatever; it’s there when she arrives.
She should probably have a separate site where she can butcher people, she thinks. Somewhere that no one can connect to Jade or Celia.
Not that she plans on butchering very many people. Right?
Just in case, though.
GM: Randy does not respond to the text. Jade finds both ghouls sound asleep when she gets back. Dani shoots her a text on the way back, though, and is still there. She asks what happened with her brother. “Where is he? I just, have a bad feeling with him losing it and not coming back… and what’s happening to the Mafia guy?”
Celia: Dani and her both, Celia can’t help but think.
“He got some bad news and had to handle it. I dropped him off, but he’s going to be a while. Close to dawn. I’d rather let him tell you what happened, if that’s okay.”
GM: “Okay…” Dani says slowly. “I’d just like to be there for him. Do you know where he’s gonna be?”
Celia: “He’s with another lick in a private meeting while they figure out a game plan.”
“You won’t be able to get in.”
“I wasn’t able to get in.”
“Nothing like feeling useless when someone you love is going through a hard time.”
GM: “I just have a bad feeling about this, Celia.”
Celia: Celia effects a sigh.
“Me too, Dani.”
“Do you have school tomorrow? You can come with me tonight and spend the day if you want. Maybe he’ll meet up with us before dawn.”
GM: “I do have school. But I’d love to!” she nods. “That’ll be before it starts anyway.”
Celia: “You getting enough sleep?”
GM: “I kind of wish we’d thought to ask Edith about that. Sometimes I’m pretty tired.”
Celia: “I’m sure she’d trade more information for blood.”
GM: “God. She, Rampart Street, all of that, was just…” Dani shivers.
“And then this. The same evening.”
“At least I had a gun this time. Stephen gave me one to keep in my purse.”
Celia: “Good. You know how to shoot?”
GM: She nods. “I have a permit. He and Dad showed me when I was younger.”
“We’d sometimes all go to the gun range together.”
Celia: “Won’t stop a lick. But might slow them down.”
“Good to know, in any case.”
GM: “I saw that firsthand, yeah.”
Celia: “Did he get hit? I was kind of… distracted.”
GM: “Carolla didn’t really seem to feel the rounds I put into him.”
“But I shot his ghoul.”
“Before Reggie murdered him.”
Celia: “Yeah, Rod and I talked about it.”
GM: “So did Randy and I. After I yelled at his brother.”
Celia: “How’d that go?”
GM: “About as well as you might expect.”
“He’s a pedophile murderer. You should do something about him.”
Celia: He’s not a pedophile. It’s not like he has sex with kids. He just likes the taboo of being with their moms.
“Hey, do you think it’s weird if I get Roderick a dog? He mentioned he misses Ajax, and I think maybe he could use some non-human, non-Kindred companionship.”
GM: “We talked about that, when I told him about Ajax. He said he was concerned about tamers.”
Celia: “He could learn, though.”
“Maybe I’ll wait.”
GM: “Maybe until he does. Good surprise present, though.”
Celia: “Dogs don’t much like me, anyway.”
GM: “Yeah, your mom says her cats hate you too.”
Celia: “Can’t please everyone.”
GM: “Well, I guess that’s one advantage to being duskborn. They seem to like me fine.”
Celia: Licks hate her, though. But Celia doesn’t point it out.
She knows which one she’d rather be.
GM: “Are we gonna be here a while, anyways? Is there a good spot I can get some shut-eye if so?”
Celia: “Take one of the massage rooms. Tables are pretty comfortable, just don’t roll off the edge. Or there’s chairs in them.”
GM: “Thanks. Feels weird being in a spa after hours like this.”
Celia: She laughs.
“Yeah. You get used to it.”
GM: Dani smiles faintly and shakes her head. “Just one of those places I never figured I was gonna be.”
“But I guess so was gunfights in a public park.”
Celia: “And friends with a vampire.”
GM: “And being a vampire. Are you going to do something about Reggie?”
Celia: “I already had this conversation once tonight, Dani. I’m not doing it again.”
GM: “With Stephen? I’ll grant he can’t exactly be prosecuted for murder, but he can’t just kill someone without some kind of consequence.”
Celia: Celia fixes her with a look.
“I will decide how and what for my ghouls are punished. That is no one else’s decision or business except for mine.”
GM: “Uh, I’m sorry, is there some kind of etiquette I’m missing here?”
Celia: “My ghouls are my business. What I do to them is my business. If I ask for input, fine. Otherwise, every lick who has a ghoul is in charge of what they do to theirs. You don’t tell someone else that they need to do something, or what it is you think they need to do.”
“So yes, that’s a complete breach of etiquette.”
“Politely, it’s like telling someone how to handle their child.”
GM: Dani frowns. “Your mom’s your ghoul. So how does that factor into it?”
“I never intended for my mom to be my ghoul.”
GM: “So, what, is she ‘your child’ too? And if not, why not? What’s the criteria that makes them only accountable to you?”
Celia: “Dani, I’d love to explain this to you, but I’m going to ask that you wait. I have a fuck ton of stuff to do right now before I get home and have had a very trying night where I was smacked around by a mafiosa and watched him try to murder my boyfriend.”
GM: “I had one where I was almost raped by homeless people and killed by two mafiosos, who I also saw try to murder my brother, and was largely helpless to do anything about it. Stephen looks like he’s letting things with Reggie be for now, so, fine, I’ll trust his judgment. And ask him about this. But I’m not letting it drop forever.”
Celia: “My ghouls, my business.”
GM: “We’ve already established there’s at least one exception to that rule.”
Celia: “Do you want to know,” she suddenly says, “what your brother wanted me to do to him?”
Celia: “He wanted me to trade him to another domitor. Someone who is less ‘nice’ than me. He wanted me to hand him over to be beaten, abused, and otherwise defiled because to our kind, they’re nothing.”
GM: “He’s a pedophile murderer who’s apparently unaccountable to our justice system. There has the be some kind of consequence! If that’s the only one Stephen thought he could face, well, fuck, Celia, he killed someone in cold blood! That wasn’t self-defense!”
Celia: “So no, Dani, I’m not going to sit here and let the two of you tell me how to punish him for what he did. I am his domitor. I will handle it. My mother is a different story because she is my mother. Most licks don’t ghoul their mothers.”
“I said,” Celia repeats, “that I will handle it.”
GM: “And I said I’d leave this alone tonight. But I’m going to ask Stephen about it.”
Celia: “Stephen and I,” Celia repeats, “already spoke about it.”
GM: “Then I guess he’ll talk with me about it too, because this ‘etiquette convention’ makes absolutely no sense. If your mom killed someone in cold blood, does she get to be prosecuted for it, or does she fall under ‘domitor justice’ too?”
Celia: “Jesus Christ,” Celia mutters.
“Licks don’t answer to the same justice system that you do. That’s all there is to it. Talk to Stephen if you want to, he’s going to tell you the same thing.”
“I said I’d handle it. I’m handling it.”
GM: “I know licks don’t answer to our justice system. You and Stephen explained the Traditions and how those are vampire laws. What’s inconsistent is where, apparently, ghouls fit into that, and why exceptions are made for ones who are immediate relatives to a vampire.”
Celia: “You’re missing the point.”
GM: “Well, I said I was going to drop this. So I will.”
“I’ll ask Stephen more.”
GM: “And let your mom know she can kill people if she ever feels like it, I guess.”
Celia: “That’s literally not what I said at all.”
“Stop twisting my words because you’re pissed at Reggie.”
“I said my mom was an exception to the parent/child dynamic. That was literally it.”
“If you took further meaning from it that’s on you.”
GM: “I’m going to get some shut-eye,” Dani says shortly. “Let me know when you’re done.”
Celia: She should have wiped her fucking memories.
Another fucking liability.
Celia snarls at the door once it closes. Maybe a night on Rampart Street would do her a world of good.
Nip that attitude right in the fucking bud.
This is why.
This. Right here.
This is why you’re not nice to people who are below you.
Because they get fucking uppity.
Friday night, 18 March 2016, AM
Celia: Jade reheats the blood she’d taken from herself earlier once Dani sees herself out, downing two hits of it to slake her thirst before she even begins, and sets the other two aside. No doubt she’ll need them before the evening is out. She still has the blood from the pathetic half vampire, too; thin though it is it will still serve a use if she needs it to.
She starts with Randy, turning him into the hunter she’d killed. Then the thin-blood, turning him into “Jade.” Then Carolla, turning him into a nameless nobody with whatever parts she can salvage that Roderick hadn’t destroyed, though she has no intention of handing his body over. She keeps him staked. She’ll need a secure place to keep him while she figures out… well, while she figures out what to do with him.
That thing Caroline had told her is tempting.
So very, very tempting.
But she’ll keep him around until she meets with her grandsire, she thinks, in case he needs… what?
Whatever. Maybe she’s just not ready to drain someone of their soul.
Jade takes stock of her Beast after each transition, drinking as she needs to. No need to ride the edge when she has a surplus of blood this evening.
She finds she doesn’t need to. Her Beast is happy to watch her tear apart carcasses and sculpt them to her will. It’s pleased that she’s finally taking steps to end the threat to herself. Pleased that her grandsire is pleased, regardless of her role as taxi driver this evening. Pleased that maybe her lover won’t scoff at her for her actions here now that he’s had a taste of this life. It doesn’t fight her when she starts her work.
The ghoul’s body needs to be drained as well, then she can strip it down to parts she can use and parts she can’t. She has Reggie see to the first bit while she works on the rest of it, and when they’re both done it’s his turn on her table. She starts by checking him for any lasting injuries from Roderick’s hands.
GM: Randy groggily wakes up when Celia rouses him and requests a sedative. He stares at his new face in the mirror when she’s done and mutters, “I’ll never get used to that.”
The thin-blood, a middle-aged homeless man with stringy hair, bad teeth, and a haggard face marred with the telltale signs of years-long drug addiction, is soon a smoking hot 20something woman. He doesn’t even respond to the agonizing process of having his entire body re-sculpted from face to genitals. Just stares blankly up at the ceiling.
Jade could make a joke about doing him a favor.
Celia: Less of a favor since she’s getting rid of him.
But at least he’ll die pretty.
GM: Reggie guffaws with laughter after he comes in and asks.
“Damn. Upgrade for that guy.”
“I’d stick my cock in that if I wasn’t worried about catching something.”
Celia: “I bet you would.”
GM: Jade finds his throat to still have some telltale red abrasions, but her ghoul otherwise looks fine.
Celia: Good. She’d be pissed all over again if Roderick did any lasting damage.
“Next time,” she tells the ghoul, “don’t announce you killed someone in front of people.”
“And maybe wait until I have a chance to question him.”
GM: “Yeah, that probably woulda been smarter. Mainly wanted to get your friend’s panties in a wad.”
“Which it did.”
“Good point on the questioning, though.”
“I just saw what a huge fucking problem this guy was gonna be if we did anything else.”
Celia: “You did the right thing.”
“I would have killed him too.”
GM: “Yeah, I figured.”
Celia: “But them getting their panties in a wad means I have to listen to them bitch.”
“And they’re really fucking annoying.”
GM: “You want, I can punish her for you.”
Celia: “I want you to leave her alone and pretend I punished you.”
GM: “Okay, like, how?”
“Oh, maybe you made me fuck your double here without a rubber, before he got the sexy treatment.”
“Tell them I beat you or something. I doubt they’re going to ask.”
“Then again, maybe forcing you to fuck something you don’t want to fuck would work for them. They think you’re a pedophile.”
GM: Reggie rolls his eyes.
He walks up to the double and pulls down its pants and panties.
“Goddamn. That is a real fucking cunt,” he declares with a low whistle.
Celia: “Nice, isn’t it?”
She does good work.
GM: Reggie laughs again.
“HUGE upgrade for this guy.”
“Will he have any idea?”
“Or I guess, she at this point.”
He pulls up the blouse and starts appreciatively squeezing the breasts.
“Oh yeah. Definitely ‘she’.”
Celia: “She’s pretty much dead at this point. You’re just using the body to get in and nab them.”
GM: “I dunno, she doesn’t look all dead to me…”
Celia: “You’re more of a slut than I am, Reg.”
GM: Reggie starts removing the double’s clothes.
Celia: “Tell you what. Bag those hunters for me and bring them back—alive—and I’ll turn someone into whatever you want them to be.”
GM: He gives in mid-undressing to give Jade a very dirty grin.
“Anyone I want, you say?”
Celia: Jade arches a brow at him.
GM: “You might regret that promise.”
Celia: “You going to ask for my mom?”
GM: He laughs.
Celia: “…my sister?”
GM: “My mom.”
Celia: She just nods.
GM: “Although… yours if I was banging you at the same time would be really hot too.”
Celia: “I kind of want to watch you fuck your mom, not gonna lie.”
GM: “Mmm, how’s this. I’ll put on a show for you with my mom, then we fuck each other and your mom together.”
Celia: “Bring me the hunters, Reg, and we’ve got nothing but time to play out our fucked up fantasies.”
GM: “I want you to have the same hair color,” he grins. “Bigger family resemblance.”
“I can’t really picture her with black hair. But you’d be a sexy blonde.”
Celia: She’d be a sexy anything.
GM: “Meantime,” he says, peeling off the last of the lookalike’s clothes, then hoisting up Jade on top of the torpid body,
“I’ve always wanted to do twins…”
Friday night, 18 March 2016, AM
GM: The sex with the staked double isn’t much, with their partner literally just lying there like a wooden board. Reggie still seems to find it really hot. He and Jade do each other on top of ‘her’ in a variety of positions. Reggie tries to finish with a blowjob from the double (“you never want to give those”), but eventually makes do with rubbing his cock back and forth along the double’s tongue. Jade has to hold ‘her’ mouth open and occasionally assist Reggie with her hand. The ghoul blows his load all over ’Jade’s’ face.
“Fuck, that was hot,” he pants.
“You know, I bet the hunter REALLY won’t want to look like my mom.”
“Or to fuck me.”
“Or to fuck me looking like my mom.”
“So it’ll be like I’m raping my mom.”
His cock is already getting firm again.
Celia: She doesn’t judge him for it. Really.
But she does tell him that he’s going to have to wait before he gets off again.
As, uh, punishment.
Yeah. Punishment. Now she can say she punished him without lying. She makes him clean the thin-blood, too, and they rinse off together, and maybe she lied when she said he had to wait again because something about black dudes fucking her in the shower really does it for her and she has him take her again.
But now it’s starting for real this time.
She goes over the plan with him one more time when they’re done, after she changes his face and body to be something nondescript. Pierre will contact them. He’s met them before, he knows what’s up with them. Make sure they’re not being tracked or anything silly.
She asks if he has any questions.
GM: He doesn’t.
He’s eager to “go pick up my mom.”
But for now he needs “my fucking beauty sleep.” He and Randy drive home. Dani and Celia drive back to her haven. Things still feel tense and they don’t talk much.
The night sky starts to turn navy blue, but Roderick doesn’t come home.
Celia: She sends him a text to see if he’s okay, though she doesn’t really expect an answer.
GM: She doesn’t get one.
“What if something happened to him?” Dani finally asks, breaking the pair’s near-silence. “It’s going to be dawn soon, but I could go look.”
Celia: “I think he’s just angry,” Celia says quietly. “I don’t think anything happened to him.”
She reaches for Dani’s hand.
GM: Dani gives it a squeeze.
“Is he gonna be okay…?”
Celia: “I don’t know,” Celia admits. “He found out someone he trusted betrayed him.”
GM: “A lick?”
GM: “He didn’t take it well. After you guys broke up.”
Celia: Celia wets her lips with her tongue. “What happened? What did he do?”
GM: “I don’t think I ever saw him with another girl.”
GM: “I mean, he had girlfriends before you. But not after.”
“That I saw.”
Celia: “Did he have anywhere he used to go?”
GM: “I don’t know. He just… shut down. Stopped responding to calls or texts or emails.”
“So I guess this isn’t new.”
Celia: “He might be at one of his other places…”
GM: “My dad got really worried after a while. Went to his apartment to see if he was okay.”
“They had a huge argument.”
“Which was so weird, because they normally get along so well.”
“Got along so well.”
“He’s… like our dad, I guess. He also shuts down when he’s mad.”
“He also called up our mom to yell at her.”
Celia: Maybe Savoy staked him to keep him from doing anything stupid.
GM: “Screamed about walking out on the family and being a traitor and all sorts of… out there shit.”
“She told me about it later.”
Celia wipes at her eyes.
“He sounded like that tonight.”
“The way he sounded when I broke up with him.”
GM: Dani’s quiet for a while.
“I stopped by his place too, a few days after Dad. He wouldn’t answer the door.”
“I finally started yelling at him and that got him to open up. He looked like he hadn’t been taking care of himself. And he yelled at me and told me I was a loser and that I’d always be second best.”
Celia: Celia presses her lips together.
“That it happened because of me.”
GM: Dani just looks sad for a moment.
“He chose to say that. It was on him.”
“He said sorry later.”
“Really apologized. Said how much he wished he could take it back.”
She shrugs helplessly. “I don’t know. I don’t want to see him like this.”
“I feel like I just got him back.”
“And we have dinner tomorrow, with our dad and your family…”
Celia: “I know,” Celia says quietly. “I know. I feel the same. That I just got him back. And now this. And I don’t… I don’t know if there’s any coming back from this.”
GM: “I guess I won’t be asking him about the legal standing of ghouls after all.”
The attempt at levity doesn’t even deserve to be called a joke.
Celia: She tries to smile.
GM: “Does this sound like the whole… vision you had of him?”
“Well, were told about him, rather?”
Celia: “Sort of, yeah.”
GM: “Is there anything we can do?”
Celia: “Stem the tide. Keep it from getting worse. I kept him from killing two people tonight because he wouldn’t want that if he were thinking clearly. Find him. Bring him home.”
GM: “He got angry when Dad and I tried to get in his face.”
“But I guess that Stephen couldn’t kill people.”
Celia: “I don’t mean getting in his face.”
“Just… being there for him.”
GM: “I guess that’s all we can do.”
Jade feels herself growing sluggish. Sol’s harsh eye rises above the city.
Celia: “I guess our talk will have to wait for another night, too.”
Celia leans against Dani as the sun starts to rise. Not long before she goes under.
“I’m sorry I got snippy with you.”
GM: “I’m sorry I got… belligerent. I could have asked less argumentatively.”
Celia: She starts moving up the bed, burrowing beneath the blankets.
“…izzit weird if I ask you to sleep wi’ me?”
GM: Dani helps her to the bedroom. She’s quiet for a moment at Celia’s question, as she looks at the bed, then finally replies,
“I’d… I’d feel safe with you.”
Celia: Celia pulls Dani close beneath the blankets, curling her body around her almost-sister-in-law. She takes what comfort she can from the girl in her arms. Not who she wants, no, but someone at least with whom she can share the burden of missing Stephen. Maybe together they can keep him from spiraling down into that dark place.
Her eyes close.
“We’ll fin’ him, Dani.”
“Not gonna… lose ’im… ’gain.”
GM: Dani feels tense at first, when Celia touches her. But it’s not after too much longer, doubtless aided by the bond, that she relaxes, and eventually, reciprocates. She wraps her arms around Celia and leans her head against her shoulder.
“This feels nice…”
Celia: “Mm,” Celia agrees. “Warm.”
GM: “You, too. I thought licks would be cold.”
Celia: “Special.” A long pause, as if searching for the words to explain. “Blood. Make warm. Pass as ’live.”
GM: “Oh. So most are cold.”
Celia: “Cold bad. Means bad. Beast.”
GM: Dani nuzzles her beneath the covers.
“Knew there was a reason I didn’t like them as much as you.”
Celia: Celia giggles. It’s a slower sound than normal.
“Love him,” she says after a quiet moment. “Love you.” She rubs her cheek against Dani’s chest.
GM: Dani gives her arms around Celia a squeeze.
“I love you too. You’re gonna be my sister.”
Celia: Celia nods in agreement.
She likes the sound of that.
GM: There’s a short laugh.
“Oh. We’re still in our clothes.”
“But I don’t really feel like getting pajamas.”
Celia: Celia fumbles for her shirt. Her fingers feel fat, barely responding to her commands.
She gives up after a minute.
GM: Dani giggles.
“Okay. Guess not.”
Celia: “Too hard,” Celia complains. “Tired. Sun up.”
“You do it.”
GM: Dani pauses a moment, then starts to pull off Celia’s clothes.
Celia: She helps where she can. Mostly it’s moving as she needs to.
“Don’ tell Steph you saw me naked.”
GM: “I won’t.”
Dani looks at her for a while. Her clothes are still on.
“You’re really pretty.”
“Prettier than me.”
Celia: “Nigh’ doc. Cheated.” Celia touches a hand to her face. It’s a lot of effort to make that move, but this seems important. “You pretty.”
GM: “I don’t have a boyfriend, though.”
“Didn’t when we met either.”
Celia: “Boys dumb.”
“More t’life than pretty.”
GM: “Yeah. But it helps.”
Celia: “Can show you. Tricks. Makeup.”
“D’centra help if you wan’.”
GM: “I haven’t really had much luck at relationships.”
“Oh. That’d be nice, yeah.”
Celia: “Have you?”
“Been with… someone.”
“Not that night.”
GM: Dani blushes and looks away.
Celia: Celia touches a hand to her cheek, gently pulling her face back towards her.
“S’okay. Nothin’ to be ’shamed of.”
GM: “I just… I think guys can tell I have… esteem issues.”
Celia: “We’ll fix.”
GM: “And the only ones who don’t care are… I have pride.”
Celia: “Wha’bout girls?”
GM: “Oh. I haven’t really thought about girls.”
Celia: “We don’… see genders, us’lly.”
“Dead, so, who cares.”
GM: “Oh,” repeats Dani.
GM: “Like. Is it a social thing, that ‘all vampires are gay,’ or is it biological?”
Celia: “Prince is ‘gay.’”
GM: “You’ve seemed…” She clears her throat.
GM: “Just… y’know.” Color tinges Dani’s cheeks again.
GM: “Um, open?”
Celia: “Flex’ble. Both ways.”
GM: “Oh. I just meant… how pretty. I’ve noticed.”
Celia: “Oh. Though’ y’were callin’ me whore.”
GM: “What? Oh, no, no, never!”
Celia: “Steph’d be mad if I kiss you.”
GM: “Oh. You’re his girlfriend, I wouldn’t… I wouldn’t want that.”
GM: “Well. I mean. You’re very pretty.” Dani’s cheeks start to redden again. “But you’re his.”
She is, isn’t she.
She nods slowly.
“S’okay. Y’like… boys anyway.”
“Coul’ show you… good firs’ time. Redo. But his.”
GM: She nods back. “Yes. Boys.”
“Redo, you mea… oh.”
Her flush deepens.
“I’m sorry, I’m… talking crazy. Just stressed.”
Celia: “Goo’ stress ’lief.”
GM: “Well. I wouldn’t… know.”
Celia: “N’ver go’ off?”
“Dani.” Celia clicks her tongue.
GM: “Oh. I would. I’m not a total prude.”
“There’s a couple times I could’ve gotten laid. It just… made me feel cheap.”
“Natural. Par’ of life.”
“Dani,” Celia says when the girl seems too tongue tied to continue, “you hol’ me? I dun’ like bein’ ‘lone. C’n ge’ nake if y’wan’. Skin touch goo’ for moo’. Studies ‘bout i’.”
“But tired. Sun says go sleep.”
“Hol’ me, Dani.”
GM: Dani holds her. She doesn’t take off her own clothes. But she wraps her arms around Celia, lays her head against her brother’s paramour, and closes her eyes.
Celia: Before she falls asleep Celia sighs loudly, reaching for her phone.
“Fuck,” she mutters as she sends the text to Mel.
Then she’s out, her problems on pause for the day.
Monsters only exist at night.