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Blood & Bourbon

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Celia VI, Chapter II


“I’m stupid.”
Celia Flores

Saturday night, 19 March 2016, AM

GM: Celia has a decent while to pray. The car drives on for a while. She has no idea where they’re going. No idea what will happen when they get there.

Eventually, the car comes to a stop. The ignition dies. The trunk opens up. Roderick stares down at her. They’re in a parking garage.

Without a word, he picks her up and slings her over his shoulder. The stake pushes a little deeper. He closes the trunk, locks the car, looks around, then takes the stairs up. All Celia can see is floor.

“Whoa, hey, she all right?” asks an unfamiliar male voice.

She can’t see the speaker.

“Don’t worry about her,” says Roderick.

“She just did something dumb.”

“She’s lucky I’m here.”

Celia: Lucky.

Lucky he staked her. Kidnapped her. Put her in a trunk.

She can’t speak. Maybe she’d cry for help if she could. Or agree with him.

It could be worse, right? He could have done to her what he’d done to his brother.

GM: “She on something?” asks the other man.

“I’ve been pretty tolerant of her shit up until now,” Roderick says.

“But, you know, this evening…”

“She just doesn’t get it. She just doesn’t learn.”

“I think tonight may be an eye-opener, though.”

Celia: Stupid can be taught.

It just takes longer.

GM: Daddy knew that.

“Oh?” asks the other man.

“Yes,” says Roderick.

“Well, this has been a good talk, getting all of that off my chest. But I trust you’re going to keep what you’ve seen to yourself.”

“Hey, man, if she’s been outta line…” says the other man.

Celia: Run, she thinks.

GM: “You could drop her off in my place.”

The other man sounds like he’s grinning.

“We could tie her to the bed. When she wakes up, I could fuck her. Tied down. Then you could come in, ‘rescue’ her, and say this is what she gets when she pulls shit.”

Celia: She recoils at the thought.

He wouldn’t.

Would he?

GM: “That would probably be very instructive,” Roderick answers thoughtfully.

“But… I’m sorry, I didn’t get your name.”

“Elijah,” says the man.

“Elijah,” repeats Roderick.

“Well, Elijah, that’s very thoughtful of you to offer.”

In an instant, Roderick’s voice becomes venom.

“Except for how it makes me want to bash in some fucking heads.

There’s a sharp cry, and then a brutally hard crack before something heavy hits the ground.

There’s movement under Celia as Roderick turns around.

Then a heavy thump, thump, thump, thump.

Like a body rolling down a flight of stairs.

Celia: She wishes she could close her eyes. That she could close her ears. That she wasn’t here to witness this. There’s not even satisfaction. Just terror tinged with dismay, hot and sour in the back of her throat.

Is he dead? He can’t be dead. Please don’t be dead. Don’t let Roderick be that far gone.

GM: A door opens and closes.

She sees floor underneath her as Roderick keeps walking.

She hears some keys getting pulled out. A door opening.

He steps inside. Turns. Closes it. There’s more movement.

Roderick for a moment. Opens a cabinet or something. There’s a metallic sound.


More movement.

White tile, now.

Roderick hefts her off, then drops her in a bathtub.

Not hard. But not gentle.

He takes out two pairs of handcuffs, snaps them around her wrists, then snaps each around the tub’s railings. He closes the door, turns back, then pulls out the stake.

He stares down at her. There’s no smile on his face.

“The window is securely closed, but turn into a cat or a bird and you’ll regret it.”

“So what do you have to say for yourself, Celia?”

Celia: The same wide eyes stare up at him from her new position in the tub. She can only imagine that, if she’s here, it’s going to get messy. The scent of blood stopped bothering her after her Embrace, but all she sees now is a dark hallway, a large form, a hacksaw. She has no stomach to clench. No bile to rise up her throat. No uneven breathing, no hammering of her heart against her ribcage, no cold sweat.

Just dread. Formless, overwhelming, all consuming horror.

What is he going to do to her?

“I’m…” Her voice comes out in a rasp. She swallows, but her mouth is dry. It’s always dry. She’s dead. “I’m sorry. I should have asked.”

GM: “You should have asked,” he repeats back.

Maybe he’s agreeing.

Maybe he’s mocking.

“That’s your problem, Celia.”

“Well, one of them.”

“You’re always going around behind my back. Weaving your little webs of lies.”

“I remember saying that to you, one time. How you’d told so many lies and changed your story so many times I couldn’t even keep the details straight anymore.”

“Now, though?”

He’s silent for a moment. His eyes sweep her shackled form.

“Do you know what a ‘Gordian knot’ is, Celia?”

Celia: Celia shakes her head.

GM: “Figures,” says Roderick.

Celia: It’s worse than a slap in the face.

GM: “It’s a Greek legend.”

“The legend goes, the people of an ancient city were without a king. An oracle at Telmissus decreed that the next man to enter the city driving an ox cart should become their king.”

“So one day, a peasant farmer named Gordias drove into town on an ox cart. He was immediately declared king.”

“Out of gratitude, his son Midas dedicated the ox cart to the Phrygian god Sabazios, whom the Greeks identified with Zeus. Midas tied the ox cart to a post with an intricate knot of cornel bark.”

“The knot was impossibly complex. No one could even tell how it was fastened. No one was clever enough. An oracle declared that any man who could unravel this ‘Gordian knot’ was destined to become the ruler of all of Asia.”

“Now, it’s unclear exactly how long the Gordian knot went unsolved for, because this is a legend, but it was probably a very long time. Long enough that enough people tried and failed for the knot to gain a reputation as being unsolvable.”

Roderick offers a cold smile.

“Like your lies, Celia.”

“They were so complex and convoluted and tugged so many of my heartstrings, that even I couldn’t solve them. You tied your own Gordian knot around me.”

“But returning to the story. One day, a young conqueror came to the city. Some say this young conqueror was the son of a god. Seers foretold a very special destiny for him. He, too, wanted to rule the world.”

“So, of course he tried to solve the Gordian knot. He expected he could. Greatness was his destiny. He had been schooled as a youth by Aristotle himself! But the knot was unsolvable, even for him.”

“So what do you suppose this brilliant young conqueror and son of a god did to solve the unsolvable knot, Celia?”

Celia: She doesn’t know. She doesn’t want to know. She doesn’t want to learn how he’s going to solve the knot.

“…cut it?” Her voice is faint.

GM: “That’s exactly what he did, Celia,” Roderick smiles.

“He drew his sword and cut the knot in half with a single stroke.”

“It seems crude, until you think about it.”

“The prophecy never said how someone had to unravel the knot, if they wanted to rule Asia. They just had to unravel it. There was no requirement beyond that. Only our young conqueror was smart enough to come at the problem from another angle. To have the awareness to choose the path of least rather than maximum resistance.”

“In the end, all of the knot’s complexity was illusory.”

Celia: He’s going to kill her.

Tears leak from the corners of her eyes. He’s going to kill her. She’s going to die here. In this bathtub. Cuffed to the railing.

GM: “The knot was only an obstacle to people who were blind and shortsighted enough t… now why are you crying, Celia?”

Celia: “Don’t,” she whispers. “Please, don’t.”

GM: He yanks her hair almost hard enough to rip it out. Her scalp screams.

“Stop pleading.”

“I’ve had just about fucking enough of the scared woman act.”

Celia: The words die. She bites her lip to keep from making any noise, eyes squeezed tightly shut against the flow of red while she nods again and again.

GM: “Now, the way the story ends, that was that. The young conqueror cleaved the knot in half.”

“So you know what he did?”

“He went on to conquer all of Asia. From Asia Minor, which is modern-day Turkey if you didn’t know, all the way to the Indus and the Oxus. Those are rivers in India.”

“And his name was Alexander. Alexander the Great.”

“You do know who that is?”

Celia: She nods again.

GM: “Good.”

“I think the comparison between the legend and our relationship is very obvious, don’t you?”

“How there’s actually a very simple way to deal with all of your lies. All of your manipulations. All of your tears.”

“I was so fixated, for so long, on working through problems and dramas you’d created, and working through them on terms you’d set.”

“I thought if I was just smart enough I could solve them all.”

Celia: He’s going to kill her.

And she can’t even cry about it.

No one will know. No one will miss her. He’ll damn himself. Forever. Kill the girl who loves him, how do you come back from that?

Celia can’t move. She can’t breathe. She’s afraid to even look at him and she can’t let him see that. She shoves it down. She finds the edges of the fear and tries to smother it before it consumes her.

But she stays silent. She doesn’t trust herself to speak. She doesn’t know if there’s anything she can even say.

GM: “We have two options here, Celia. Two ways we can help you learn your lesson.”

“One. I can beat you into torpor. I’ll drop you off at the Evergreen, since Savoy and I are such good pals now. I doubt he’ll even mind I did that, so long as we stay pals.”

Roderick smiles.

“But I’m not a brute like your father was, Celia. I’m not going to just do that to you without your consent.”

“No, I’m still considerate enough to give you a choice. Multiple choices. Which brings us to your second one.”

“I help you cut through a Gordian knot of your own. I’ll drop one of my lies. I’ll tell you a truth.”

“You’re not going to like it, though. You’re not going to like it at all.”

He smiles down at his handcuffed lover.

“So. What’s it going to be, Celia?”

Celia: “What about… what about after? After I pick. After you tell me, or beat me.”

She hates that she’s asking. Hates that she’s clinging so desperately to who he once was.

“What then?”

GM: “That will be up to you, Celia. If you’ve learned your lesson, and stop whoring around with mobster scum—or whoring around with anyone, for that matter—I don’t see any reason why things can’t go on like before.”

“So that’s a question to ask yourself, more than me. Will you mess things up?”

Celia: She shouldn’t be relieved.

She shouldn’t be thinking about going back to before.

She should be running and screaming as far and fast as she can.

But she can’t help the tears that drip down her cheeks. The desire for him to touch her gently, to put his arms around her, to hold her and let her cry and tell her… that he forgives her. That he loves her.

She’d never understood, but now she does, and her heart cracks for herself, for her mother, for Roderick.

“Which one will hurt more,” she finally asks.

GM: “You must decide for yourself, Celia,” her lover explains patiently.

“That rather defeats the purpose of offering you a choice if I tell you one choice is better, doesn’t it?”

There’s an almost amused smile.

One that says ‘of course she didn’t get it.’

Celia: “I don’t want the better one.”

GM: He smiles and strokes her cheek.

“That’s good, Celia.”

“That shows me you’re sorry.”

His hand feels so gentle against her skin.

There’s no tautness to it.

“But you still need to decide for yourself.”

Celia: Her eyes close at the touch. She turns her face into it. For just a moment she lets herself pretend they’re in bed together. She pretends that he doesn’t have her cuffed to a tub, that he isn’t going to beat her senseless or break her heart the moment she opens her mouth to decide.

Her sire had beaten her. He hadn’t left her unconscious. He’d given her blood afterwards, fed her from his own vein, slipped the collar around her neck. She still disappointed him this evening. Roderick has beaten her before as well. And they’re here. Because it hasn’t sunken in.

“I’ll heal. The bones. The muscles. It will hurt, but I’ll heal. You have to… have to live with what I did. Every night. Have to make the conscious decision to stay. It hurts more, in the end.”

She searches his face with her eyes.

“The knot.”

GM: Roderick nods.

He strokes her cheek some more.

“So. You want the truth?”

Celia: No.


GM: Roderick nods again and kneels down, closer to her level.

He moves his hand. Rests it on her shoulder.

He cups her face with his other hand. Turning it to meet his eyes.

Turning it so she cannot look away.

Celia: She doesn’t want it.

She doesn’t want it.

She doesn’t want it.

GM: That’s why she asked for it.

Then Roderick says:

“I was embellishing earlier. Yes, there are different kinds of intelligence. Different kinds of knowledge. Obviously, you know more than I do about medicine and biology. About cosmetics. About dance. But there was something else I omitted, and a lie by omission is still a lie.”

“The thing I omitted was the concept of averages. You add up the total value of something’s constituent parts, then you divide that value by its number of constituent parts. Which is a somewhat long-winded way of saying, the sum total of my knowledge and the value of that knowledge is greater than yours.”

“Unlike you, I didn’t drop out of college to half-ass my way through a joke ‘degree’ online. I earned a real college degree. I was raised in a household by two highly successful and academically and professionally accomplished parents, rather than a football brute and a ballet dancer. Every box I could tick in high school to academically distinguish myself, I ticked—did you know I was accepted into Yale? I declined, because I wanted to stay close to my family, and I knew my career would stay in New Orleans. I knew my life’s goal was to destroy the Mafia here.”

“I went to law school for three years and graduated top of my class. I received an informal but extremely comprehensive education from my sire that eclipsed any of my prior educational experiences. She taught me history, philosophy, political theory, warfare, and more subjects than you probably even know the names of. I went to London to study under my grandsire, who’s even more learned than my sire is.”

“And against all of that, Celia, you have… makeup.”

He gives her a patronizing smile.

Then he says it.

Two words.

Two bullets right to the brain.

“You’re stupid.”

Celia: The impact shatters what’s left of her.

A thousand tiny pieces of her float away. They find the cracks in the window and wriggle through, dancing on the wind once they’re free. They swirl down the drain and land in sodden heaps in the sewer until they’re flushed out to the sea. They kiss his cheeks, his lashes, his lips, then settle in his lungs. More of them catch the draft beneath the door and spread through the apartment, the hall, the stairwell. They stick to Elijah’s blood on the cement steps.

They travel, the little tiny pieces of her that he breaks with two casual words, through space and time, through air and sky. They see.

They know.

She knows.

A wooden face stares up at him. The blood stops circulating through her veins. Her mask disintegrates. Hollow eyes, sunken cheekbones, porcelain skin.

Dropout, dropout, dropout.

Like a dog walking on its hind legs.

Your dad’s right. You’re stupid. Pretty, but stupid.

This is all you’ll ever be good for.

She giggles.

Say you’re stupid, Celia.

I’m stupid, Daddy.

There’s my girl.

Her cheek rubs against his hand.

The laughter doesn’t stop.

She knows.

He knows.

Everyone knows.

The monster stares out at him from a lover’s eyes. It seethes. It hates. Him. Maxen. Preston. Isabel. Roxanne. All of them. It watches. It waits. It knows. The truth. The thing behind the mask. It calls the pieces of itself back. It makes a new mask.

The girl hurts. She’d wanted pain. She’d gotten it. Her giggle turns hysterical.

GM: The girl does hurt.

The girl hurts so much.

Control snaps like a flimsy leash. The Beast tears out, to visit that hurt upon its source.

Celia sees pure red. She hears the Beast’s frenzied screams. She feels pain. Pain around her cuffed wrists. Pain around her heeled feet, as she madly kicks and flails and throws herself against her bonds, screaming her hurt to the world. To the bathroom. To the author of all her hurt.

Then, just like that, it’s gone. Her lover is calmly pinning her down, one hand around her throat, another around one of her legs.

Waiting until her tantrum is over with.

Until her Beast exhausts itself, because she is unable to control it.

“Are you calm enough for me to remove my hands, Celia?” he asks patiently.

Celia: No.

She wants to go back to the red. She wants to go back to the haze. She wants it to stop hurting. She wants to stop knowing. She wants him to lie to her. She wants him to tell her he made it up, that he said what he knew would hurt her like she’d hurt him. She wants him to tell her that he loves her, that it doesn’t matter, that he’s sorry, that he forgives her. She wants him to ask if she can forgive him, if she can still love him, broken as he is, if they can move on from this. She wants his hand between her legs and his mouth at her throat and her fingers in his hair.

She wants to be human again.

She wants someone else to carry the weight for a while.

She wants to not be afraid to look into a mirror because the face staring back at her isn’t her own.

She wants to go home, but there are so many that she doesn’t even know what that means now, and she’d thought it was with him but there’s no home here, just hurt, just pain, just tears. She wants to stop hurting. But it’s still there. Raw. Red. Angry. She pokes at the wound and wants to disappear inside of it.

But she doesn’t. Her Beast stays quiet.

The girl in the tub moves her lips to answer his question, her voice as hollow as the rest of her:


GM: He removes her hands.

Then he undoes her handcuffs.

Then he spreads his arms.

Spreads them wide to embrace her.

His face isn’t hard anymore.

There’s… it’s not sadness.

It’s sympathy.


But he doesn’t lean it to hug her. He lets her accept his offered embrace. If that’s what she wants.

Celia: She sits up in the tub. Her eyes stay down, like a dog beaten one too many times. The movement of his arms draws her attention; maybe, for a moment, she thinks he means to hit her anyway. She stays still. And then she looks. And her face crumples. And she tucks herself against him, burying her face in his chest so he doesn’t see what he’s done to her.

GM: His strong arms envelop her.

Hold her close.

Hold her tight.

Hold her safe.

“It’s okay, Celia,” he murmurs in her ear.

“It’s okay.”

“I still love you.”

“Very much.”

Celia: Why?

GM: “You were scared that I wouldn’t, were you?”

“It’s okay.”

He holds her close. Like there’s no one in the world but them.

“I understand you. I accept you. I love you.”

“I think this could actually be a very good thing for us.”

“We can be honest. We can tell the truth. It can’t hurt us, now that it’s out.”

“You don’t need to be smart, Celia. You can leave the heavy thinking to me. I’m here for you. I can be smart enough for us both.”

There’s a smile in his voice as he rubs her back. Strokes her hair.

“Does that sound good to you?”

Celia: She doesn’t want to be stupid. She wants him to be proud of her. Not like a parent with their child’s macaroni art, but like an equal. So she asks, quietly, when her voice is steady, if he’ll teach her.

GM: “Teach you to be smart, Celia?” he asks.

Celia: She starts to nod… then thinks better of it. She doesn’t want him to tell her it’s impossible.

GM: “The operative question, of course, is how smart. It’s easier to gain 5 lbs of muscle than 50 lbs. How much intellectual ‘weight’ do you want to put on?”

Celia: “Smart enough to not be stupid.”

GM: “Okay,” he says.

“We can do that.”

“You need to get a college degree.”

“A real one, at a brick and mortar school.”

“You need to major in something more intellectually challenging than dance, too.”

Celia: “How? It’s during the day.”

GM: “There are evening classes, Celia.”

Celia: Not all of the classes are offered at night. But she doesn’t argue with him.

GM: “Plenty of working adults who take those.”

Celia: “Where?”

GM: “Tulane is the best school in the city. I’d go there. You can disguise yourself to hide from the sheriff’s agents.”

Celia: “Okay.”

GM: “Stealth mode on top makes you as hard to ferret out as any neonate can realistically expect to be. It also helps that you actually went to Tulane for a while and know the campus. You can blend in.”

He smiles. “Blending in is something you’re pretty good at.”

Celia: It’s lying and makeup. She doesn’t point it out.

GM: He finally pulls back and lays a hand on her shoulder.

“Now, Celia, there’s something else.”

Celia: She doesn’t know how much more she can take from him tonight.

But she doesn’t interrupt.

GM: “Letting Mafia scum put his arm around you is completely unacceptable. But there’s some measure of redemption for you in that.”

“You were acting out of stupidity rather than malice, weren’t you? You wanted to help me and just didn’t think it all the way through.”

Celia: Celia nods her head.

GM: “Good. Now tell me what you did wrong, in your own words, and what lesson you’ve learned from tonight.”

Celia: “I… let the Mafia scum touch me. I walked in with him. I made a scene. I didn’t ask you before I did it. I didn’t think about how it looked to you. I learned… I learned that… the knots. That I’m… what you think of me. That I was wrong. That you’re smart enough for both of us. That you can do the thinking for me. That when I’m wrong you’ll… give me a choice, and Savoy won’t care if you hurt me, and that you… still love me.”

Her eyes move to his face, searching for the answer to that question.

GM: “You’re right about everything up until ‘the knots’, Celia. ’ That doesn’t tell me what you’ve learned. That isn’t even grammatically correct.” His tone isn’t critical, but calm. Patient. “Try again. What did you learn there?”

Celia: Celia swallows. “You told me about the knot. The Gor… Gorgon…? Gordian Knot. The Gordian Knot. I learned the story behind it, and how it was solved, and you solved mine for me.”

GM: “What was your Gordian knot, Celia? How did I solve it?”

Celia: “You told me that you were sparing my feelings when I asked the other night. That there’s different kinds of intellect, but there’s still average intellect, and you know more than me. You told me you went to London with your grandsire. Did you fly? Or take a boat?”

GM: “That’s not germane right now, Celia. I’ll answer your questions after we’re finished here,” Roderick says, his tone mildly chiding.

Celia: Celia drops her gaze.

“You told me that I’m stupid.”

GM: “Good,” he says with a slight smile. “Specificity in language is important. I was also going to correct ’I’m what you think of me.’ But ‘Roderick told me I’m stupid’ isn’t a direct answer to my question either, Celia.”

“So tell me: what did you learn?”

Celia: Her eyes, still on his chest, go vacant.

“Tell me you’re stupid, Celia.”

“I’m stupid, Daddy.”

“There’s my girl.”

GM: He waits. Patiently.

But he doesn’t back down.

Celia: Her hands twist on her lap. The pointy edge of a ring cuts into her skin when she rotates it over and over and over again.

“He broke her arm. She went out the window and he broke her arm. The guards took her back. She cried, but they didn’t care. He broke the other one.”

“She wouldn’t tell him what he wanted.”

“He put a leash on her. He punished her for lying. Eat it. Eat it. All of it.”

“You’re my cute little bunny.”

“There’s a blue dress with yellow sunflowers.”

“I heard him hiss.”

“There were two.”

“All I wanted was a pony.”

“I’m sorry I asked for the pony.”

“The Wish Bringer was my grandpa. But he cursed us.”

“Tell me you’re stupid, Celia.”

“I’m stupid, Daddy.”

“They don’t send girls there for being stupid.”

“He wants me to say I’m stupid. But I never did.”

Her finger bleeds.

GM: Roderick frowns.

“This is not a direct answer to my question, Celia.”

“I have no reasonable basis to conclude you’ve learned your lesson if you can’t tell me what the lesson was.”

Celia: Celia’s not here anymore.

Whoever else is tells him what he wants, though.

“I’m stupid.”

GM: “Good.”

There’s a content smile as he touches her shoulder.

The two words her father never got her to say.

Two words she bled and suffered and screamed over his knee to avoid saying.

Because all he used to extract them was pain.

Physical pain.

But she knows from Elyse, doesn’t she?

Soothing balms make hurtful things hurt so much deeper.

Pleasure and pain, rewards and punishment.

Kindness and cruelty.

One must exercise both for optimal results.

And Roderick is that smart, isn’t he?

Celia: “He’s smart enough for both of us.”

GM: “‘Roderick is smart enough for both of us,’” her lover corrects. “Specificity in language is important, Celia.”

Celia: Who is Celia?

She died years ago.

GM: “Everything else you said you learned is correct. And the answer to your implicit final question is yes.”

“I do still love you.”

“I love you very, very much.”

Celia: He’s the second monster to say that to her.

GM: He cups her face in his hands, then leans in to plant a soft kiss upon her lips.

He pulls away, then hoists her up out of the tub in a classic bridal carry, holding her effortlessly aloft in his grasp.

He smiles at her.

“Now how does some makeup sex sound?”

Celia: Whoever she is likes the sound of that. She snuggles closer, her lips at his neck.

Here, at least, she excels.

Saturday night, 19 March 2016, AM

GM: The makeup sex is good. It’s different than normal, too. Roderick is more forceful, this time. More direct. He pins her down a lot, holding her tight in his implacable grip. He decides what positions they assume. When they change them. When and where Celia (or whoever is now here) can bite.

But he’s gentle, too. Tender. Soft. They go slow, until she begs to go fast. He asks if this or that feels good. He does more, when she says yes. He kisses her. He embraces her. He brushes her hair. He smiles down at her, blue eyes shining.

There’s more blood, this time. Their Beasts are closer to the surface. They hurt each other. But it’s the gentlest of hurts. The best of hurts. He lets her know where she will hurt, and tells herself to make herself ready, and hurt blossoms into pleasure.

So much pleasure.

Pleasure over which he is in full control.

And when they’re done, when they lie spent and finished and bloody in each other’s arms, he pulls her close into spooning, and wraps his arms around her. He leaves in close and nuzzles her neck as he whispers,

“That was exquisite, Celia.”

“I love you so much.”

Celia: The girl in the shell surrenders herself to him. She doesn’t want to think. She moves how he shows her to, bites when he tells her to, hurts how he wants her to. It aches. But it’s the good sort of ache. The necessary sort of ache. She gives up control, letting him take what he wants, give what he wants. It’s what she wants, too.

He never penetrates her. She doesn’t ask him to. He’d do it, if he wanted, which means he doesn’t want. Another part of her dies, but fangs in her neck, her chest, her back, her wrist—they distract from the sharp pain of it.

This can be beautiful too.

She holds his arm when it’s over, her fingers soft against the back of his hand. His large hand. They dwarf hers; he can press his palm to her belly and touch the undersides of her breasts. They ache for it, but she doesn’t ask.

“I love you, Roderick,” she echoes.

GM: He smiles and does just that, slowly stroking his palm across her belly.

“What would you think about sharing a haven together?”

“Permanently. In the Quarter. A new one.”

Celia: “As Roderick and Jade?”

GM: “I’d say someone else and Jade, but no one except us should know.” He frowns. “And some of our ghouls. How much they should know is another question.”

“Your ability to change my face will come in handy, either way. Roderick can’t be seen spending so much time in the Quarter.”

Celia: “Roderick?”

GM: “Yes?”

Celia: “I forgot to tell you something. Earlier. Can I tell you now?”

GM: He pulls her closer, nuzzling his nose against her neck.

“You can tell me anything, Celia.”

Celia: “…anything?” she asks.

GM: “Anything,” he repeats.

Celia: “I was afraid when you followed me earlier. I wasn’t thinking straight. I was talking to the Mafia scum about your sister. He runs the block where she was found. You asked me to find her sire. I thought I could ask him. I’m sorry I forgot.”

GM: “Ah, that’s a good idea, Celia,” he says approvingly. “You should have asked me first, to get my input. But it’s a good idea.”

“Here’s my input now. We change our faces, ambush him, and hurt him until he tells us everything he knows. Then we dispose of him.”

Celia: “He’s important to Lord Savoy.”

GM: “That’s immaterial.”

Celia: “Can I… can I pose a… a question?”

GM: “Of course.”

Celia: “The war is heating up. You said that they’re prepping? Lord Savoy will need all of his people, won’t he? When the fighting starts? Can we take him out after?”

GM: “The war is bigger than Reynaldo Gui. He isn’t the fulcrum upon which Savoy’s success rests.”

Celia: “I was working on a plan to take down Agnello with him. And he offered… he wants to take me to Chicago. To meet his sire. I thought we could… his sire is Capone, allegedly, I thought it would be good insight to the entire organization..?”

GM: “No,” Roderick says shortly.

Celia: “No,” she echoes.

GM: He says nothing further.

But he does hold her.

Celia: She’s quiet for a time.

“Roderick,” she whispers, when she has had her fill of silence.

GM: “Yes?” he murmurs back.

Celia: “The other night… I wanted to talk to you. To tell you things. About me. If… if you love me, even though I’m… stupid… can you love me for the rest of it?”

GM: He nuzzles against her head some more.

“Of course, Celia. I’ll always love you.”

Celia: “…do you still want to get married?” she asks in a small voice.

GM: “Of course I do,” he smiles, running a hand along her belly.

“Who else would I want to spend the rest of my Requiem with?”

“There are going to be some changes in our relationship, but I think you’ll be on board with them.”

Celia: “Changes?”

GM: “I’m in charge,” he says simply.

“Most couples don’t like to acknowledge this sort of thing. But you know how much I believe in honesty.”

Celia: “What does that… entail?”

GM: “Not much that’s different. I’ll listen to your input and seek it as appropriate. I want you to feel valued and listened to. You’re the most important thing in my Requiem, Celia. That’s why it’s essential we do things right. We’ve had so many conflicts in the past. We made our own Gordian knot.”

“But tonight made me see.”

“When I cut through it, things go much better. For both of us.”

“I expect you to seek my input on everything of significant consequence to you. I will make the final decisions in our relationship. When you misbehave, I will correct the misbehavior, like I did tonight.”

“You will not be corrected arbitrarily. I will always tell you what you did wrong and why you are being corrected. You will tell me afterwards what you did wrong and what lesson you learned.”

“When you are well-behaved, you will not be corrected. When you are well-behaved, you will be rewarded. When you are well-behaved, we will both be happy.”

“I will protect you from anything and anyone that tries to hurt you. You will be safe with me. You will be loved with me.”

Celia: “Even… even if I mess up?”

GM: “Even when you mess up,” Roderick echoes.

“Hate the sin. Love the sinner.”

He gives her a squeeze.

“I believe in you, Celia. You’ll learn. I will be patient with you.”

Celia: “What are the sins?”

GM: “Associating with Mafia scum is one of them.”

“But in so many words, anything which I judge to put our well-being or the well-being of our relationship at risk.”

“That’s why it’s so important for you to consult with me before making significant decisions.”

“If you’d done that, tonight wouldn’t have happened.”

Celia: Tonight…

“I have a meeting,” she whispers, frantically looking for a clock.

GM: He guides her head back towards his.

“With whom and over what business?”

Celia: “Primogen Poincaré. About a missing person.” She’s sure she missed it by now. “And the Tremere. Occult studies.”

GM: “That first meeting sounds beneficial. What do you want to learn about the occult for?”

Celia: “My dad. There’s a…” he’s going to tell her she’s dumb. “…I wanted to look into demons. You told me they’d be a good source.”

GM: “Ah, yes,” he considers. “That could be productive too. Just know they’re probably going to ask a boon in exchange for significant knowledge.”

Celia: “Is that okay? Can I give them one?”

GM: Roderick thinks. “What do you want to learn about demons for? Suppose your father is being influenced by one, and that his actions weren’t fully his own. That’s the best case scenario. What then?”

Celia: “Defeat it? And… it’s good to know. If they’re out there. What they can do. And… I think I… met one.”

GM: “Okay. You can pledge them a boon. If you can, make it towards Lebeaux, or Bornemann if you can’t.”

Celia: “Roderick? My spa was bugged. I followed the trail and I think I met something… other. I think it’s the demon. I looked into it a little. Can I show you my research later?”

GM: “Absolutely. I’ll help however I can.”

Celia: “Thank you.”

GM: “When are your meetings?”

Celia: She tells him the times.

GM: Roderick lets her look at the clock.

“You have a good amount of time, then. Benefits of leaving Elysium early.”

“Enough time to fit something else in, probably.”

Celia: She doesn’t know how long they’ve been here. How long she was in the trunk. The tub. How long sex took. She’s glad that it wasn’t as long as she thought.

“My ghoul was supposed to tell me about the hunters,” she offers.

GM: “Then you should see him.”

Celia: She nods.

“Is… is my car far?”

GM: “Your car is where you left it. I can give you a lift.”

Celia: “Okay.”

GM: He turns her around and tilts her chin up in his hand.

“You’re okay, too, with how things are going to be now?”

Celia: “I’ve wanted to tell you everything for a long time.”

GM: “I know you have. We can whenever you’re ready.”

“But I need to hear, first, that you’re okay with these new ground rules.”

Celia: “What if we disagree?”

GM: “My decisions are final, Celia.”

Celia: “But you’ll listen, if I tell you something?”

“And you’ll consider it?”

“And you won’t… I won’t be hurt for asking?”

GM: “Of course. I’ll always listen to you and consider what you have to say. What you say is very important to me.”

“You’ll never be hurt, Celia. You’ll be corrected.”

“But there’s nothing to correct about questions.”

Celia: “…even if they’re stupid?”

GM: “There’s no such thing as a stupid question. All questions seek to correct ignorance. All questions are acolytes at the temple of knowledge.”

Celia: “Oh,” she says.

“Your decisions are final. I’ll tell you before I do anything significant. You’ll correct misbehavior.”

GM: “Good,” he nods.

“I’d like to hear now, in your own words, how this will benefit our relationship and benefit each of us.”

Celia: “You’re smarter than me. You see things I don’t. You have more training from your sire, your grandsire, and school. I’m important to you, so you want what’s best for me, and you’ll keep me safe. We love each other. It shows trust. And commitment. Corrections won’t be arbitrary, and you’ll seek my input because you value me. You’ll guide me down a better path and lift the weight from my shoulders.”

GM: “That’s perfect, Celia,” he smiles, and kisses her head.

“I’m proud of you. Tonight went very well.”

Celia: “You helped me see.”

GM: “Helping you is what I want to do.”

Celia: Celia rests her cheek on his chest.

“I know. I love you for it.”

GM: He hugs her close in his strong arms.

“I love you too, Celia. With all my heart.”

“Things are going to be better now.”

“I promise.”

Saturday night, 19 March 2016, AM

Celia: They clean themselves up in the same tub he’d cuffed her in. Conscious of the time, they don’t linger, and soon they’re dressed and out the door. Celia offers to turn into Luna for the trip through the building, and sits on the floor if he needs her to when she switches back. She wouldn’t switch, but a question has been weighing on her mind, and she wants to ask before the night progresses.

“It’s about sex,” she says, growing steadily more flustered by the topic until she finally asks if they’re going to continue to do it like they did tonight. Her cheeks burn for the asking. If he wants to know why, she quietly admits that she “has a hard time focusing in the evenings without it.” She finds a roundabout way to ask if sex with kine is okay, both for its own merit and during feedings. There’s shame in her eyes when she asks. She doesn’t like admitting her shortcomings to him. And if he doesn’t want to do it like that anymore she doesn’t want to ask him to. Their time together should be enjoyable, not a chore.

But she doesn’t want to lie or cheat. She wants this to work. Their relationship is important to her. He is important to her.

GM: Roderick thinks turning into Luna is a good idea.

“We’ll continue to have sex,” he answers. “I’ll use my cock as a reward for when you’ve been especially good.”

He considers her next question for some time, silent as he drives.

“Bring home the next vessel you want to have sex with, so I can see, participate, and evaluate.”

“I’ll make a decision based on how that goes.”

Celia: Home. Where is that anymore?

“What about Alana?” she eventually asks.

GM: “Do that for her too. No sex until then.”

Celia: “She’s waiting for me. Tonight. She’s… I do with her what you’re doing with me. Sex as a reward. No sex as punishment. I’ve been putting her off, but she showed up at my mom’s house today, freaking out…”

GM: “Then that’s a good pretext over which to have no sex with her.”

“She shouldn’t expect rewards after she’s been bad.”

“It’s also a good time to tell her you’re going to potentially reevaluate your relationship based on her performance with me.”

“Don’t tell her you’re on the same system she is, though.”

“You are her domitor and should appear a fully dominant figure in her eyes.”

Celia: “We sleep together sometimes. During the day.”

GM: “We’re going to sleep together now. We can decide on what days we’re going to include Alana, if any.”

“That should be a privilege for her rather than a guarantee.”

Celia: “What about today?”

GM: “She’s been bad, Celia. No privileges today.”

“But if you mean us, yes, we can sleep together.”

Celia: “Where?”

GM: “My haven, for now, until we find a new one.”

Celia: She nods, is quiet for a moment, and finally asks about what sort of corrections she should expect. If they’ll all be like tonight. If torpor is something she should learn to expect.

GM: “It depends upon the nature of the infraction,” says Roderick. “Some will require more significant correction than others.”

“But I will always offer you a choice when torpor is on the table.”

“I’m not going to be your father and just beat you without your consent.”

Celia: There’s more she wants to talk to him about. More she wants to know now as opposed to later. She asks if they can have a longer conversation later. She understands the rules, what he expects, and accepts that. But there’s still more she wants to discuss.

GM: He answers of course. He’s happy to answer whatever questions she might have.

He tilts her chin up in his hand to meet his eyes.

“It feels good, doesn’t it, Celia, to have someone in the driver’s seat?”

Celia: “I know you want what’s best for us. I’ll feel better when I tell you everything. So you understand.”

GM: “Telling the truth is for the best, Celia.”

“It comes out either way. We might as well do it on our terms.”

“Truth always comes out.”


Ugh, that quote choice. Why you gonna do me like that.


She broke him. But they can still be beautiful. Thought Harley had some decent advice about this. Shame it, uh, didn’t really work out that way. Maybe it still can. Who knows.

Didn’t forget about Josua coming to the party. Just trying to figure out the logistics of making that work so Jade’s not coming in and out of the Alystra all the time. Also other things that you and I can talk about. I guess it also kind of depends on how things work out with Marcel & Accou, since that scene hasn’t finished yet.

I’m mildly amused by how Celia unlocked the passenger side for him but he pulls her out of the driver’s side to pin her against the car by the throat. Was kind of hot, not gonna lie. Kept thinking, as Celia went into Elysium, that she shouldn’t show up with Gui like that. And then I did it anyway. Lul.

I mean, so, technically she wasn’t lying here when she told him that she’s using Gui to take down Agnello. Glad I went for the reroll with Advantage anyway. The original botch made me think I was going to get frenzied on, and I was already planning “how the fuck do I beat him off this time.” Granted, at the time I had more SP & lower Hunger, but damn if fighting my way out of that one was not appealing. Was actually very worried he was going to kill her.

Roderick Scene

Playing a staked body is, uh, interesting. Mostly introspection since there’s not much else she can do.

Thought the conversation with Elijah was a nice touch. You do the whole “PC can’t see beyond their line of sight” well. The movement. The floor. Sounds. Nothing else. It’s good stuff. Makes being staked like that feel more real.

Legit though as he was explaining the Gordian Knot to Celia I was like, “oh my god he’s going to cut her in half and call it a day.”

What’s kind of amusing to me is how he’s all “stop the scared woman act,” but since he found out about his brother she hasn’t been acting around him. He changed, she’s unsure of him / watching her footing, actually afraid to set him off now, etc.

Pretty sure that you knew I wouldn’t pick the torpor. Who knows when she’d actually be woken up. Have/had too much to do to risk it. Kind of curious how he’d have done it, though. Left her tied like that? Beat her while she was handcuffed in the tub? Or let her up and give her a fighting chance? What if she’d rolled well enough that she beat him up, though? That would be funny. Doubtful, considering her pools, but funny.

Less emotional reading through this than it was playing it. I was pretty upset when he said that to her. It’s uh… I mean it’s a big admission. He knows how much it hurts her to have someone say that about her, has seen the effect that is had on her before when it’s even implied. Not sure if he’s actually lying to her here about it, like he doesn’t actually think she’s stupid and wants to hurt her, or if he really does think she’s stupid and has been sparing her feelings this entire time. Dani told her that Stephen was really mean to her when he was in his funk after they broke up, told her stuff like she’d never be as good as him etc, which is kind of objectively true, so… I dunno, I guess I doubt that he’s lying to her. Which is probably the worst thing he could have ever said, since now even if he apologizes it’s going to be in the back of her mind forever. Not going to say it “ruined” the relationship, but definitely did a lot of long term damage to Celia. Will have more to say once we get to the second part of their interaction this evening. No spoilers, etc.

Had fun with the “pieces of her floating away” lines and imagery. I’m not like 100% sure that this is what Harlequin meant but it kind of felt like it, so I figured I’d play up the mask thing a little bit. Enjoyed the callbacks to other people saying mean things to her, added a new one as well. Both before the frenzy and afterward, when she disassociates pretty hard. Had a lot of fun with it. Wasn’t sure how “crazy” I could get away with making her (which I also struggled with during the Harlequin scene), but think I found an okay balance.

Honestly pretty pleased with this writing for the most part.

His response to after her frenzy (opening his arms for an embrace, then everything he says about it being okay / him still loving her) was pretty spot on. Exactly what she needed to both find comfort and to crack further, because even though she hates what he said to her she’s still in love with him and looking for his approval. Deftly done.

And Roderick is that smart, isn’t he?

Celia:“He’s smart enough for both of us.”

Thought that was a nice touch, Celia responding to “voices” that aren’t there. I guess less voices than ambient thoughts. Not sure who this mask is yet. Too beaten to be Leila. She’s happier than whoever this broken woman is. Didn’t enjoy that he got Celia to admit she’s stupid, but at the time I was pretty emotionally exhausted and didn’t see a way out of it.

The description of the makeup sex was good. Different than normal. Very enjoyable to read.

His vernacular changes, too. It’s an… interesting shift. I get a lot of Hallway!Donovan and Paul vibes from it. It’s uh… I dunno, kinda hot, kinda sad.

Not opposed to his shared haven idea. Kind of like it, actually. Some details to iron out but otherwise I think it could be a good thing. Not sure if Celia will actually spend every night there, though. Which reminds me that I need to figure out Sat night since I don’t really wanna get jumped by the guard or found sleeping w/ Dani.

“Can I give [the Tremere a boon]?” “Yeah man go for it.” Four boons later. Whoops.

Conversation about sex went better than I thought it would. He’s open to her messing around with kine for feeding, anyway, and with Alana for funzies. Just wants to watch and judge and enjoy himself too. Honestly I’m kind of looking forward to that. Not sure if we’re going to play it out due to time constraints but I kind of want to. Figured asking about Reggie was a bad idea so I didn’t.

So. There’s been some OOC discussion on the way she’s acting with him later when she goes home for the day and how she “caves” and tells him everything, but even here she’s letting him know already that she wants to tell him everything, that she’s wanted to for a long time. But more on this later, I guess.

Celia VI, Chapter II
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