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Blood and Bourbon

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Story Thirteen, Celia XXI

“She needs to die.”
Diana Flores


Saturday evening, 19 March 2016

GM: Night falls. Celia wakes up on the floor. There are no aches or pains.

The thirst burns within her.

She is ravenous. She is so empty. She must be filled.

She doesn’t recall rising to her feet, but the next moment, she’s staring down at Roderick. Asleep in the bed. His body full of blood. Brujah blood. Hot. Delicious. Thick. So much stronger than mortal piss. She remembers its taste.

The Beast’s roars drown out all rational thought as the red haze descends.

Celia: The Beast wakes on the floor. Above her, the body of her sleeping lover. Blood runs through his veins. Thick. Warm. Potent. It tasted like love once. Like safety.

She wonders how bitter the taste now.

Payback for the way he has treated her. Payback for hurting her last night and thinking that a stray “good girl” is enough of a balm to soothe her hurts.

He has so much to learn about breaking people.

The Beast is up on the bed, teeth at the boy’s throat before seconds have passed. He doesn’t deserve his blood. He is not worthy of it.

It will sustain her.

GM: An eyeblink passes.

Celia comes to with bedding against her face. Vice-like pressure around her throat. Her arms twisted and pinned down behind her. His legs against her belly.

She’s being held down over his knee.

“Pathetic, Celia,” sounds a scornful voice.

“Do I need to chain you up during the day to keep this sort of thing from happening?”

Celia: Nothing.

Not a drop.

Not a single taste of the red. She snarls, thrashing against him, bucking her body to throw him off of her, reaching out with her claws—

She’s still so hungry.

She stills as the words reach through the fog in her brain to wake the girl. The Beast retreats, leaving its mess behind for her to clean up. Ice already cracked, this sort of thing just splinters it further.

But she can’t speak with his hand crushing her windpipe. She doesn’t know why he bothers to ask her questions.

GM: His grip relaxes after he feels the tension depart her body.

Most of it, at least.

Celia: Oh? He doesn’t want to throw her around some more?

Hasn’t he heard she likes it like that?

The expected apology wheezes past her lips, rasping out of her dry throat.

GM: “You need to be corrected for this, Celia. But physical correction will make you an even greater danger to others than you currently are.”

Celia: Corrected.

For being hungry.

For being hungry because he injured her and her body needed the blood to mend because he’s too stupid to know to fix what he breaks.

The girl behind the mask pulls the string on her head, nodding it up and down like the puppet she has become.

She asks if he’ll cuff her, so she doesn’t start something again.

GM: “Tonight, we will sleep apart,” sounds the voice above her head. “You won’t come back to my haven with me. That seems a fitting correction, wouldn’t you say?”

Celia: Good.

Fuck him.

“Yes,” she hears herself say. “That is fitting.”

GM: “You’re a danger to others in your current state. This won’t do. We do not harm innocents.”

He lifts her up from his knee, sitting her by his side on the bed.

Then he holds out his wrist.

“You will be corrected again if you lose control again.”

Celia: He could be good at it, she thinks. If he learned. If he was more ruthless. He is strong enough for it. Smart enough for it.

But weak where it matters.

The girl in the body only nods again, head bobbing up and down, up and down, and falls upon the offered wrist with a flash of her fangs.

GM: All it takes is one taste.

It hits her tongue like an explosion.

Control burns away as the Beast bursts its chains yet again—and when the red haze clears, she’s bent over his knee with a hand around her throat and arms twisted behind her back yet again.

His taste lingers on her tongue.

He’s so generous to her.

So kind to her.

So mindful of her.

He’s making the best decision, in her own interests, in the public’s interests.

He knows what’s best.

He kept her. Even after last night.

Even after all she confessed to.

Celia: He knows what’s best.

He loves her. He wouldn’t correct her if he didn’t want her to be better. He wouldn’t waste his time on her if he didn’t think she had potential.

And she’s grateful for the blood. Grateful that he is able to control her rage so that she doesn’t hurt anyone else.

She stops struggling when the Beast has finished taking what it wants.

GM: “You lost control again, Celia,” he says patiently after he releases her.

“This will be corrected. Additionally, I don’t believe in rewarding bad behavior. So those hits won’t be free.”

“We will spend the next five nights apart—one for every hit I gave you, two for both losses of control. But for every hit you bring me, we will reduce your sentence by one night. Bring me five hits, and we can even spend tonight together. Does that seem fair?”

Celia: Her heart wrenches at the words.

Five nights.

Blood seeps from her eyes at the thought. She curls her body in on itself once she’s free, knees drawn up to her chest. Her hair falls into her face to hide it from his view when she nods.

“Y-yes, Roderick.”

GM: “Good,” he says.

He rises from the bed.

“I’m going to shower now. That’s a sexual activity, so we can’t do that together until we resolve our outstanding relationship issues.”

He smiles.

“But you’ve been good in accepting your corrections tonight. So how would you like to pick out my clothes for me?”

Celia: “I don’t know what you have planned tonight,” Celia says from behind the curtain of her hair, “and I don’t want to pick the wrong thing.”

GM: “Hmm. I’ll tell you what, then. You can pick out my clothes for the dinner with your father on Sunday. I don’t enjoy the thought of listening to his lies and excuses for several hours, but I think attending may be worthwhile after all.”

Celia: “I’ll let my mother know you’re coming.”

GM: “Good,” he smiles. “I’ll look forward to seeing her and the rest of your family.”

Celia: Maybe she’ll take it away from him if he steps out of line.

GM: He heads off into the shower.

Celia: Celia moves toward his closet. Maybe there’s something interesting inside.

GM: Just clothes, as far as she can see, trending towards the preppy style he prefers.

It’s a much smaller closet than her own.

Celia: Her father used to throw out her clothes when she misbehaved. Maybe she can tell Roderick so he can do the same.

GM: Average number of clothes for a guy in his.

Celia: She looks for a dresser.

GM: She finds one.

Celia: She checks that, too.

GM: More clothes, all neatly pressed and folded, each sock rolled up with its matching sibling.

Celia: She quickly loses interest in the snooping. No doubt he’ll catch her. No doubt he put everything away when he knew she was coming over.

Maybe there’s nothing interesting to find, anyway.

It doesn’t take her long to find an outfit for him suitable for Sunday’s dinner. That’s one thing she has always been good at: fashion. Looking presentable. She has it set aside for him when he comes back from the shower, hanging separately from his other clothing on the bar in the closet so he doesn’t need to search for it tomorrow. No doubt he’d make her put it away if she were to have pulled it out for him and cite that only slobs keep clothes laying out.

Dark slacks, a button down shirt, a v-neck sweater to go over it with the cuffs of his sleeves and collar exposed. A thick leather belt (no part of her thinks about him bringing it to bear on her exposed bottom, or how her flesh would jiggle with every blow, or how her pale skin would turn red) that matches the plain toe bluchers she has picked out from a distant spot in his closet. Form fitting, it will hug his shoulders and tapered waist, showing off his physique.

It’s missing something. She knows exactly what. She’ll rectify that before she meets him.

She waits on the bed for him when he’s done in the shower, still in the sheer teddy from the night before. She’d thought about changing, but then he’d ask why she doesn’t want a shower, though now she wonders if it’s presumptuous of her to assume he will let her use his.

The rules are ever changing in this game of theirs. She needs to learn them quickly.

She’s not lounging, not splayed out like some sort of pinup girl, just sitting on the edge of the bed with her hands tucked beneath her thighs. Waiting.

GM: Roderick comes back after a brief shower. He’s got a towel wrapped around himself. Perhaps ‘no looking’ also falls under ‘no sex.’ He looks over the clothes approvingly.

“Good choices, Celia. These are very appropriate for a dinner with my girlfriend’s family.”

Celia: “You’ll need a new wardrobe,” Celia says without inflection once she sees the towel. “For your new identity. It’s something people don’t think about until it gets them into trouble. I never wear the same clothing as Jade that I do as Celia. The two have distinct styles. Yours will need to as well.”

“You should also give some consideration to which clan you’d like to pose as. Generally it’s easier if you have some talents of the clan you wish to emulate. Caitiff is easiest of all, but they have zero respect and I would advise against it. You could do Brujah again if you’d like. You’re fast and can use star mode, so Toreador is on the table, but I’d advise against it if you don’t plan on pursuing any artistic endeavors, as they lack remorse and compassion to anyone they think is a poseur.”

GM: “Yes, I’d put some thought into my clan and lineage. That’s also a very good suggestion, Celia. I wouldn’t have used my favorite clothes, but a completely different personal style will help keep the identities distinct. Buying a new wardrobe hadn’t occurred to me.”

He sits down next to her.

“I think you should get a reward for that suggestion. What would you like?”

Celia: “I can teach you to shift,” she continues, “but Jade wouldn’t date a Gangrel long term. I told you about Veronica’s reaction to my krewe.”

GM: “Yes, but that’s because they had multiple Caitiff. Gangrel are about as respected as Brujah, given how far so many of us have fallen these nights. How you comport yourself and what lineage you claim matters more than your clan.”

“If you’re a Camarilla clan, anyway.”

Celia: “Jade doesn’t date long term. Not for years. She has flings, gets bored, and moves on. It’s an image I’ve projected for years. A shift overnight will look askance and draw unwanted questions and attention, insofar as much as anyone cares about what goes on in my bed. I haven’t been caught because I haven’t been sloppy.”

Except that one time.

GM: “Then my new identity won’t have a public relationship with Jade. You can give me other faces for when we want to do things in public together.”

Celia: “It’s a lot of juice to continue to change your face,” she says frankly.

“But my curiosity extended towards what you’d like me to do with others.”

GM: “We’ll split the costs and not do it every night.”

Celia: “Nights ago you said you’d cover your end.”

GM: “For Kindred-related activities. If we want to be seen in public together for dates, you can cover that. I may also cover the costs when you’ve been good.”

Celia: She bristles.

“My cover,” she says through teeth that may soon become clenched, “is just as important as yours.”

GM: “You’re starting to sound like you’re arguing with me, Celia,” Roderick says calmly. “We don’t have arguments anymore.”

Celia: “I am not arguing. I am seeking accommodation and agreement on something that will protect us both.”

GM: “I will pay the costs when you change my face to my new Kindred identity. I may pay the costs on other occasions when you are well-behaved. This discussion is over.”

Celia: Her claws itch to make themselves known.

She breathes, searching for the edges of her mask. She pulls it more tightly around herself, securing the girl inside.

“Yes, Roderick. I understand. Thank you. I was overwhelmed by the amount that I feel I owe you, but you have made me realize that this is fair.”

GM: “Good,” he says.

“Now, I said you were due a reward for the good suggestion you just made. What would you like?”

Celia: Sex.

With him. Or with someone else. She’s not particular.

She doesn’t say it, though.

He’d only turn her down.

And she can only handle so many rejections.

GM: So he waits.

“Take your time, Celia.”

Celia: “I want to go on a date,” she finally says. “I want… I want to be how it was for a night. Or I want you to put your arms around me and tell me that it’s okay because I don’t think it is right now and I’m afraid I’m going to fall apart and I need… I need you.”

GM: Roderick hugs her. She feels his strong arms around her, holding her close. One of his hands strokes her hair and she hears the smile in his voice.

“Oh, Celia.”

“You don’t need to spend rewards on that.”

“It’s going to be okay, Celia. We have a plan. We are going to make things right. Our relationship will be stronger than ever once it’s done, and we’ll move ahead politically, too. We’re going to be partners. We’re going to rise high in Savoy’s court and we will never stop loving each other. Nothing will stop us. Nothing.”

“I love you very much. I want the best for us.”

Celia: It’s enough to make her crumble. She clings to him once his arms are around her, burying her face against his chest, eyes leaking once more. She’s silent as she cries. There’s no uneven breathing, no shoulders shaking, no noisy hiccups or snot running down her face. Just the red. He can smell it, she can smell it, the coppery tang of her broken emotions streaking down her cheeks to stain his skin. She’s tiny in his arms.

“I’m sorry,” she whispers, voice cracking on the words. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

Why, she wants to ask him. Why do you love me?

But she doesn’t want to know it’s because she’s a night doctor. She doesn’t want to know it’s because he likes her family. She wants to think that it’s for her. That this one time something in her Requiem is for her, not for her connections, not for what she can do, but for her.

GM: “I know you are, Celia,” he answers, hugging her close. “It’s okay. I know you want to make things right. We will make them right. I have so many plans for us. Things won’t just be okay. Things will be better than ever. I’m looking forward to our future together. I know you are too.”

Celia: She nods her head at his words, up and down, down and up, like a bobble-head on someone’s dash. She wants it to be back to normal. She wants a future with him. She’d begged her sire to leave him alone when he’d wanted to kill him.

But that was before she realized the extent of his damage.

Before he told her she’s stupid.

Before he put her in the microwave.

But she asks, in a faltering, stuttering way, if he’ll tell her about the future he imagines. About them.

And if he doesn’t want to, if he thinks she won’t understand, she asks if he’ll sleep with her. Now. Before the rest of their night begins. Just once. To take the edge off. To help her focus.

GM: “I think you will understand the essential pieces of it,” he answers her. “But it will take time to explain, and we have more things to discuss, as well as other things to do tonight.”

“Sex is off-limits until we resolve the biggest outstanding issues in our relationship. We will have sex again once those are resolved.”

“But if you would like to spend your reward on sex right now, we can have sex right now.”

Celia: “It’s not a chore?” she asks quietly, desperately. “You want it, but not right now, not because of what happened, what I did? It’s not me, it’s what I did?”

GM: “That’s right, Celia,” he answers, rubbing her back. “I do want to share blood with you. I enjoy it very much. It hurts me as well when we can’t.”

“But I’m willing to go without so that you can learn to do better.”

“So that things get better for us later by making sacrifices now.”

Celia: She wants it. She wants him. Now. She wants him, wants his blood, wants his body. Wants to pretend that everything is okay for just a moment.

“Please,” she says to him, “please, I want you.”

GM: “Of course, Celia,” he answers, stroking her back again. “You’ve earned your reward by offering a very good suggestion. I’m happy to have sex with you now.”

Celia: He makes it sound so romantic.

Her desire fizzles.

She’s left empty. Numb.

She had a chance and she ruined it. He had a chance and he ruined it.

GM: “Hmm?” he asks, stroking her back again. “How would you like to do it? You get to pick.”

“You’ve been a good girl.”

Celia: A good girl.

Like a dog.

Her heart withers. She’ll never be his equal again. He’ll never see her as anything but a weight stone around his neck. An anchor that drags him down. Holds him back. He’ll resent her. Forever.

Like Maxen.

Like Paul.

She wants her sire. She wants his arms. His lips. His fangs.

Celia doesn’t respond, not verbally. She leans in to press a kiss against his jaw, his cheek, the corner of his mouth. His lips.

GM: His lips meet hers, hungrily, forcefully. Dog or not, the desire is there. His hands swiftly move to peel her out of the teddy and discard his towel. He pushes her back-first onto the bed, then trails his mouth down her neck, down her chest, nipping and kissing and drawing coppery pintpoints of blood. His mouth moves over her left breast as he sucks her nipple. Strong hands hungrily caress her body, feel her naked flesh against his palms.

Celia: She’d almost told him no. Almost told him that she wants something else. Another reward. Something that doesn’t make her feel like sleeping with her is a chore.

It’s never a chore. She’s Celia Flores. Jade Kalani. Men and licks alike fall to their knees to worship her like the goddess of pleasure that she is.

But the desire is there. And the way he strips her from her clothing tells her how he wants it. Her nipples stiffen beneath his touch; some part of her mind thinks the word pervert, but he hadn’t said anything last night, and he hadn’t said anything yet tonight, and she isn’t going to pretend to be someone she isn’t. Not around him. Not when she has spilled the rest of herself to him. Liquid pools between her thighs. Her back arches, lifting her body into his touch, and the soft sighs and needy gasps leave her mouth as his hands and fangs move down her body.

GM: He pleasures her nipples, alternating between long sucks from each one as his fangs leave bright pinpricks of blood over her breasts. But his hands and fangs descend ever lower. He squeezes her firm and shapely ass checks as he plants nips and kisses down her stomach, down her belly, down her groin. He alternates between her inner thighs, drawing steadily closer to her wet and eager sex. His tongue flecks out again as he lowers his head between her legs.

Celia Flores, Jade Kalani, twin masks of the goddess of pleasure, each demand her due.

Her worship.

Perhaps he thought once to deny her. To refuse her.

Foolish man. Foolish lick.

None can deny the goddess her due.

Even when they think they are in charge.

The bedroom is her temple, her body her altar, and anyone with a working dick between their legs an eager postulant, whether they know it or not.

The goddess demands her due.

She receives it.

Roderick worships her.


Saturday evening, 19 March 2016

GM: Eventually, the lovers are finished, and lie spent and bleeding and satiated upon the coppery- and sex-smelling sheets. Roderick turns to regard her with a hand resting against his head.

“Now where were we?”

Pillow talk.

Another chamber in the goddess’ temple.

Celia: She takes the advantage when she can, and the bedroom has long been her domain.

“Identities,” Celia says. “Protecting ours by keeping up appearances.”

GM: “Yes,” he says. “That should be easy enough. We’ll continue taking precautions and not be seen together.”

Celia: “Mm,” she says idly, stretching her arms above her head. Her back arches with the movement. Just like it had when he’d buried his face between her thighs, lapping at blood and sex alike.

There’s no delicate way to ask, not for most people. But sex is Celia’s forte and she has just shown him how marvelous it can be. She brings up Josua and Marcel in a roundabout way, taking care to mention her ruse as Veronica’s childe and how bringing the exiled prince over will serve them in the long term and turn a potential foe into a friend. It’s a small amount of seduction for a large long term benefit. Surely that big brain of his sees how it benefits them and Savoy both.

GM: A dark look passes over his face at her initial request.

He doesn’t like it.

Another lick touching Celia.

Being intimate with her.

He doesn’t like that at all.

But Celia asks so very nicely.

The bedroom is her temple.

“As long as I’m also there for it,” he answers.

His voice is very slow.

Celia: Celia considers the request.

It’s not a no. And he’d said the same thing about her taking kine lovers. Taking ghoul lovers. He wants to be there. To monitor. To watch, to enjoy, to experience.

How could he not? She’s shown him what it’s like to be in bed with her. How good she can make him feel. He said it hurts to not be with her, which might have been a line, but her little reminder here only served to hammer home how much he’s going to be missing out on while they fix their relationship.

It’s a step in the right direction, isn’t it?

And she does so enjoy being shared.

She gives him a shy smile, as if she hasn’t had three threesomes in a single night, and nods her head.

“I’d like you to be there, too. It doesn’t mean anything when I’m not in love with them. It might be harder with the prince, but I’ll find a way to make it work. For you. For us.” She takes advantage of his offered reward to nuzzle his neck, trailing a line of kisses from jaw to collarbone. “I love you, Roderick. I love that you’re gracious enough to work with me on everything.”

“I was scared you wouldn’t accept me if you knew. About my sire. My dad. The multiples. The sex. I was so afraid I’d lose you forever. I shouldn’t have been. I should have just told you everything from the beginning. I don’t want to hide things from you anymore, even if they’re awful things. Can you forgive me?”

GM: “I love you too, Celia. I can always forgive the truth,” Roderick answers, stroking her cheek.

“Your father deserved what you did to him.”

“So did your sister.”

Celia: Oh. She’d never really considered it like that.

GM: “She set up your mother to get raped and mutilated by your father. It’s poetic justice that she should experience the same treatment. At the same man’s hands, no less.”

“Your father is an even bigger scumbag than she is. He deserves even worse.”

Celia: “Roderick? My mom is worried that he’s going to take Lucy.” She tells him about the vision her mother had had. The falling, which came true, and then Maxen stealing Lucy. She doesn’t remember if she’d already told him, and she apologizes if it’s a repeat. She’d shared so much with him lately that it’s blurring together.

GM: “You’d mentioned,” he said.

“He has ample motive to.”

Celia: “Sorry,” she repeats. “I’m worried about it is all.”

GM: “A wife and granddaughter would be good props on the campaign trail. And he will need a first lady.”

Celia: “I’d wondered if that’s why he reached out. It seems like he took the time to set up things, with the adoption and medical options for Mom and all, but reconciling with his estranged wife and daughter will look better than not. And if not, he could find out about Lucy and say she’d been stolen from him… Make himself look like a victim, maybe? Sympathy.” She doesn’t know if that’s what he is or was planning.

But it’s something he could have thought about.

GM: “Their remarriage would offer more opportunities to see him. On the other hand, a governor’s daughter can already see him, and we haven’t established how we can use him or towards what ends.”

“There are obviously many things a governor can do, but ‘mere’ neonates like us are not able to leverage those opportunities as effectively. It’s like giving a million dollars to a man off the street versus a Wall Street banker. The latter will be able to do more with it.”

Celia: “Marcel still has dealings in Baton Rouge and the political world, I think. So does Defallier. Or… it’s possibly an opportunity for Lord Savoy..?”

Or her sire.

“But, um, you said to think about it, and we can revisit.”

GM: “I wonder if it would be more productive to simply charge other licks favors for access to him,” Roderick muses. “That already happens in real life. Special interests try to woo the sons and daughters of politicians. Invite them to sit on corporate boards, invest in their projects, buy things from their companies, and the like. So Junior will put in a good word with dear old Dad. It’s essentially how modern bribery works.”

“There aren’t really any laws to speak of regulating that sort of thing. Unlike giving politicians briefcases of cash or other direct gifts.”

“I’d expect Flawless to see an uptick in business when people know it’s owned by the governor’s daughter.”

Celia: She’d been wondering the same but had thought it was a stupid idea. So she hadn’t brought it up. But she nods along with his, because he explains it better than she can.

“There’s still the Baton Rouge licks to deal with. And the Nosferatu. They might want to muscle in on him.”

And her sire, though she’d never charge him favors for this sort of thing. Maybe he’ll have a better suggestion for her. She’s been meaning to talk to him about it.

“Yes,” she says about Flawless. “He and I had spoken about doing some social media content together, as well.”

GM: “The Nosferatu are the difficult part,” Roderick frowns. “If Jade goes around using Celia to make connections between the governor and other licks’ prize pawns, the sewer rats will eventually find out.”

“What would you do then if you were Lawrence Meeks?”

Celia: “You said they probably snooped on my spa. I’m concerned they already know everything. The archon said the same.”

GM: “Yes, they snoop everywhere. When was the last time you swept it for eavesdropping devices?”

Celia: “Um. The time with Randy when we found the bug and the thin-blood.”

GM: “There you go. People will plant bugs in places they know you regularly spend time at.”

Celia: “I thought about having Pete put some wards in or something for me, I don’t know if it would cover that large an area or if there’s anything like that to keep out licks.”

GM: “You’d have to ask him. Only real solution I know is periodic mundane sweeps.”

“Which you should do regardless of whether wards are possible or not.”

Celia: “I’ll need another security guy,” Celia says with a long sigh. “Randy usually handled it. I don’t suppose there’s a little signal jammer that will affect bugs but not phones or other devices like they have in movies. I can check with Rusty.”

GM: “There are jammers that make electronics usage impossible. Cletus Lee Boggs had that set up in his haven when I visited Slidell. Telecommunications there simply don’t work.”

Celia: “Oh. Maybe I can talk to him about it then.”

GM: “Do that. Don’t get all of your input just from Rusty.”

Celia: “But you asked what I’d do if I were Lawrence Meeks, and I’d take out the ghoul or pawn or lick interfering in my business, or tell the lick whose pawn it is about it so they can deal with it too. Send a message. Find who they are, what they care about. Destroy it. Rip it out root and stem.”

There’s a pause, then,

“I could go as Isabel.”

Easy enough to pass as Isabel, isn’t it? Just be a cunt.

GM: “But you run into the same issue if you want to arrange access for other licks’ pawns with the governor.”

“The Nosferatu eventually finds out that a lick uses Isabel to help other licks.”

“Two options I see. One, don’t involve other licks. Leverage favors and enrich ourselves through just breathers. Two, cut a deal with Meeks.”

Celia: “As Jade, or as an older lick?”

GM: “The Nosferatu are very well-informed. You might be able to fool them. You also might not.”

Celia: Celia nods.

“I’ll think about it, then, and we can revisit my father and Baton Rouge. I like the suggestion, though. Thank you.”

GM: “The third option would be to bring in Savoy and negotiate as his representatives,” Roderick muses. “He gets a cut of whatever deal we reach, but we have a stronger bargaining position.”

Celia: “He might not want to talk to me about my father.”

GM: “And why would he not want to talk about your father in this context, Celia?”

Celia: “Because I failed to take him out before and Preston told me that he isn’t inclined to waste his time on the same subject.”

GM: “You’re being stupid again, Celia.”

Celia: Any remnants of afterglow from their time together slip away. She’s left cold. Hollow. Wooden.

“I’m sorry.”

GM: “The circumstances were different. There’s profit in this for him.”

Celia: “Yes, Roderick. I understand. Thank you for explaining.”

GM: He smiles and strokes her cheek.

“That’s what I’m here for, Celia. To help you understand. To help you.”

“This is another way you could demonstrate usefulness to him.”

Celia: Celia leans into the touch, eyes closing briefly at the contact. Just a girl in love with a boy who wants to better herself and build a future together.

“I’d like to be useful to him.”

GM: “I’ve had so many good ideas, haven’t I? Becoming his new party organizer, and now this.”

Celia: “Yes, Roderick. You’ve given me a lot to think about. You’re very intelligent and I have so much to learn from you.”

GM: “Regardless of how we proceed with your father, I don’t think enacting large-scale policy changes through him is immediately feasible or in our interests,” Roderick considers. “We can just use his position to enrich ourselves and advance our personal projects. The way children of politicians and the significant others of those children already do.”

“If you wanted to turn Flawless into a larger business with three or more locations, he can facilitate that.”

Celia: “He mentioned assisting with the second location and cutting through whatever red tape I needed help with,” Celia confirms.

GM: “It’s not simply what he can directly do for you, Celia. It’s other people wanting to do you assorted favors and help you get richer in order to get closer to him.”

“This is how political bribery works in the 21st century.”

Celia: Celia doesn’t bother explaining that she’d meant it was an immediate thing he could do for her and that his real estate connections could help her build her domain into better feeding grounds. She just nods her head.

Smile and nod. Just smile and nod.

GM: “We need to establish an identity for me as Celia’s mortal boyfriend,” Roderick says. “A long-term one. Better, her husband.”

Celia: “I’ve begun mentioning a new boyfriend as Celia. I haven’t given him much identifying information yet, I didn’t know what you’d want to do there. It’s usually good to stick to something you’re familiar with in case it ever comes up in conversations, but something useful in the breather world as well. Influential. There will be some attention on her new boyfriend and husband because of her online presence, and the possible connection to the governor. It can be better to assume someone else’s identity if they’re no longer using it since that comes with connections and friends and a background built in.”

GM: “Yes, I’d still want to be a lawyer, for a variety of reasons,” Roderick answers. “Falsifying a law degree and bar association membership is a lot of trouble, though. It would be simpler just to assume another lawyer’s identity.”

Celia: “Do you have someone in mind? I can look for possible candidates. Would you prefer to be from here or elsewhere?”

“There are advantages to both.”

GM: “I need to be someone who’s passed the bar exam in Louisiana,” Roderick answers. “Lawyers generally aren’t allowed to practice law in multiple states without passing the bar in each state. Louisiana will provisionally admit some out-of-state lawyers if they have the right connections or jump through enough hoops.”

Celia: “Oh. You need to retake the bar exam if you ever move? It can’t just be transferred? You can transfer medical degrees.”

GM: “It varies. Some states have reciprocity agreements with other states, which means lawyers can essentially transfer their bar association status. California offers a shorter bar exam for lawyers who are admitted in other states and who have been in good standing as an attorney in those states for at least four years prior to their application.”

“Louisiana has no reciprocity agreements, or shorter exam like California. Out-of-state lawyers get admitted to the bar association on a largely arbitrary case-by-case basis.”

“But it’s more than some states do. Arizona simply won’t let anyone practice law who hasn’t passed the Arizona bar exam.”

Celia: “So someone in Louisiana,” Celia muses. “I have a connection at a law office. I’ll see if I can find someone for you. I suppose we’ll need to do this quickly since you’re coming tomorrow.”

“Dani might be able to help. Are we going to tell her everything?”

“About us, I mean.”

GM: “These restrictions also aren’t without valid basis. Human bodies are human bodies regardless of what state you’re in. But most law in the U.S. is state law rather than federal law. Approximately 90% of all criminal law is state law. Laws can vary significantly between states.”

“But yes. We will need to do this quickly. By Sunday.”

“Look into your connection there. I’ll look into things too. If there isn’t a suitable option, we can create a new identity and I can just take the bar again.”

Celia: Celia wonders when she’s going to possibly fit it into her schedule this evening. She nods all the same. She’ll figure it out.

GM: “Or we could reschedule the dinner. Or cancel it. We don’t actually need the rest of your family.”

Celia: “It was mostly to figure out Maxen. But I’ll see what we can find tonight and talk to my mom if I need to about it.”

“Speaking of degrees, though… I found a few at Tulane that might be interesting. But you mentioned you wanted to talk about the multiples. And my sire. And the demons.”

GM: “Tell your mom to cancel the dinner if we can’t decide on a suitable identity tonight. This dinner is basically for her anyway, since you said Emily doesn’t want to be there and Lucy won’t be there.”

“And yes. We can discuss degrees after tonight.”

“Dani doesn’t need to know anything beyond that we’re together.”

Celia: “She knows about Celia and Jade. Will she know about Roderick and your new face and your new Bourbon face?”

“I don’t want to accidentally tell her something I shouldn’t.”

GM: “Is there a reason she needs to know? Is there a benefit to her knowing?”

Celia: “No benefit besides not lying when I speak with her about things, and inviting her to the wedding, et cetera. Social ease. I can keep it to myself.”

GM: He considers. “Roderick can’t get married to Celia or Jade. The mortal identity will the one we marry under.”

“Dani can know about the mortal identity. She won’t know about the Bourbon identity.”

Celia: “Roderick? Are we going to have a Kindred and kine wedding? Or just the kine?”

GM: “Kine. There’s no Kindred I trust enough to invite. Not anymore.”

The words have some bitterness.

Celia: “I’m sorry,” Celia says quietly. Gently. “I’m sorry about… about everything with her.”

GM: “It’s opened my eyes.”

“To so much.”

Celia: Celia nods. She holds him, if he lets her, but otherwise lapses into silence.

GM: He lets her. But continues to talk.

“You suffer from dissociative identity disorder, Celia. You’re clinically insane. We need to treat this.”

Celia: Clinically insane. The words hammer home, echoing inside of her mind. Clinically. Insane.

Insane.

CraaaaAaAAAAZZzzyyy, someone giggles.

She could have stayed with the dolls. She would have had a place there. Would have been accepted there.

They keep me safe, she’d said.

They let her pass as who she needs to be. They fill in the cracks and missing pieces so that she’s whole again.

“There’s no fugue state,” Celia offers.

“How can you love me if I’m insane,” she asks him, leaning back far enough to see his face, to search for an answer in his eyes. “How can you love me like this?”

GM: “Can you love someone in a wheelchair? Someone with cancer? Someone with a missing arm?” Roderick asks, taking her hand in his. “It’s a disease of the mind rather than a disease of the body. Nothing more or less. We will overcome this, Celia. We will fix you.”

Celia: “Wha… what if they don’t want to be fixed? What if they help? What if they… they let me do things I can’t without them?”

“Harlequin… Harlequin said it’s just masking. And I’ve read that people who grew up like I did… people with abusive situations… they disassociate, and it helps them… helps them cope. And it helps them learn how to blend in. And that helps me with who I need to be in our society, so I can be Celia, or be Jade, or be Donovan’s childe, or Veronica’s childe, or Roderick’s lover.”

GM: “‘They’ are constructs of your mind, Celia,” Roderick answers patiently. “‘They’ do not exist without you. ‘They’ are you. ‘They’ have no wants or powers that you do not have yourself. Everything you ascribe to ‘them’ is already part of you. Do you want to be fixed?”

Celia: “I… I don’t know. I don’t know what it looks like without all the pieces of me. My mom… she had something cut out of her, and she’s… she’s different than she was. What if I’m different? What if I’m weak? What if I’m still stupid and no longer have anything that makes me able to adapt and fit and thrive and I become a burden? What if you don’t love me anymore?”

GM: “Your mother was tortured by a Malkavian who did God knows what to her, Celia. You were not. Nothing in you is missing. You are whole. Everything in your secondary personalities is part of who you already are. We must re-incorporate them back into your primary personality.”

Celia: “I don’t… I don’t want you to kill people. Or hurt people. You’re not that person. But I already am. You said so. That I’m corrupt. I want to be able to… to do that for you, if you need me to, to keep you pure, and what if I can’t..?”

GM: Roderick smiles, but there’s little warmth in it.

“I’m quite willing to hurt or kill a corrupt person, Celia.”

“I’m over those hunters.”

Celia: “That’s what I’m afraid of.”

GM: “They tried to kill us. They reaped what they sowed.”

Celia: “You’re a good person, Roderick.”

GM: “Of course I am.”

“But I’m not a pacifist any longer, Celia.”

“If I wake up again with a stake over my heart, I’ll happily kill whoever is pointing it there and dump their body in the Gulf.”

Celia: “It eats at you. Every time you kill. Every time you hurt. Every time you torture. It eats at your soul until things like that no longer faze you.”

GM: “There is nothing I would ask of you that I am unwilling to do myself, Celia.”

“We can hurt and kill the corrupt. We spare the innocent.”

“It’s such a simple distinction many Kindred don’t care enough to even make.”

Celia: “Maybe they did. And maybe at some point they stopped caring. I don’t want you to stop caring.”

GM: “I am guided by principles and convictions. I will not abandon those.”

Celia: Until he does.

GM: “Now. We are going to cure your insanity. We are going to fix this.”

Celia: “How?”

GM: “With an expert’s help, of course. We need to consult a mental health professional. I’m no more qualified to treat this myself than I am to perform surgery.”

Celia: “A lick?”

GM: “Potentially. Or a ghoul. I don’t think a breather is qualified to treat you. It’d be like a surgeon operating on a lick they’re assuming is human.”

“I will look into things and search for a suitable mental health professional.”

Celia: All of the different parts of her rebel at the thought. But the puppet master pulls the strings and the girl’s head bobs up and down, and she says it again, the same phrase she’s been using since she was a child:

“Yes, Roderick.”

GM: “Tell Dani and your mother about your multiple personalities. The first step to fixing a problem is acknowledging its existence. They can also lend emotional support.”

Celia: “Mom knows.”

GM: “Good. Tell her anything you’ve left out.”

Celia: Another pull. Another head nod.

GM: “You will also need to stop spending time with Malkavians. They will make your problem worse.”

Celia: “I don’t generally spend time with Malkavians anymore.”

GM: “You mentioned seeing Harlequin tonight. Don’t do that. He’s probably the most harmful of them all to talk to.”

Celia: “I was hoping he could help me fix my mom.”

GM: “How?”

Celia: “The librarian told me that he knows what happens to masks and multiples when they die.”

“And Lucy has things to say.”

“I wanted to know what she has to say.”

GM: Roderick frowns.

“How do you know ‘Lucy’ is real and not a projection?”

Celia: “She speaks to me.”

“She saved me.”

“She told me to run.”

GM: “I mean a literal projection. She could be a Malkavian-created figment.”

Celia: “My mother was sent to the dollhouse by her mother. For acting out. Stealing a car. And guns? I think guns. Mom said Lucy has been with her since birth. But Lucy said her birthday is nine months before mine. She told the librarian. We got her a library card. She likes the same books Mom likes. But the dolls aren’t supposed to drink, and Mom was drinking, and that’s why I’m here.”

GM: Roderick slowly shakes his head.

“I don’t doubt that a Malkavian did awful things to your mother. But I am very skeptical you can fix them with more help from Malkavians.”

“It’s like putting out a fire with gasoline.”

Celia: “The crystal ball said the Giovannini could help.”

GM: “You mean the fortune-teller?” Roderick frowns. “The Giovannini are… distasteful. But I suppose they’re sane, at least.”

Celia: “The fortune teller told me you’d put me in chains and rip out my tongue,” Celia says with a nod.

GM: “I wouldn’t do that, Celia, unless you did something truly awful. Like cheating on me again.”

Celia: “But also you still had sex with me. So that’s something.”

GM: “Actually, I’d probably just end our relationship.”

Celia: “She said you’re—”

Celia cuts off at the words.

“Oh.”

GM: “So that prediction seems baseless.”

Celia: “Grandsire implied he wanted to have sex with me this evening.”

GM: “No.”

Celia: “No.”

GM: “Do I need to use a shorter word?”

Celia: “No? I confirmed your no. I confirmed I heard. I confirmed I understood.”

GM: “Good.”

Celia: “Good,” Celia echos. “I’ll be good.”

“Good girls get rewards. Bad girls get corrected. Badder girls get left.”

GM: “That’s exactly right, Celia. Good girls get rewarded too. I don’t want our relationship to only consist of corrections and ultimatums.”

“I want you to be good. I want to reward you. I want to reward you all the time.”

He pulls her into his arms.

“It’s a reward for me too, to make you happy.”

He kisses her head.

“One of the best in my unlife.”

The best in my unlife.”

Celia: “Leila thinks you’re very romantic,” Celia murmurs against his skin. “She loves you like I do. I want to be the best in your unlife. I want to be rewarded. I want to make you happy.”

GM: Roderick pulls away.

“Leila isn’t real, Celia. You make me happy when you acknowledge this. You make me unhappy when you don’t.”

Celia: “Leila isn’t real,” Celia repeats.

GM: He hugs her again.

“I know you’re trying, Celia.”

“I’ll help you every step of the way.”

Celia: “We’ll do it together. You love me. I love you. We’re together. Always.”

GM: He plants a tender kiss on her lips.

“Always.”


Saturday night, 19 March 2016, PM

GM: Time doesn’t wait for the lovers. They check the clock to find they’ve spent over an hour in bed together. Roderick says they need to get going. Celia takes a quick shower (by herself). Roderick helps dress her when she’s out, tells her to become a cat again, and tells her to fit inside his briefcase this time. “I shouldn’t be seen carrying my cat everywhere.” He hails a Ryde from her phone and drops her off outside of Mid-City in cat form.

“The driver will take you where you need to go. You have several texts and voicemails. I love you. Good luck with tonight.”

Celia: Celia tells him that she loves him as well and waits until he’s out of sight to check her phone.

GM: There’s a text from Dani, asking how she is and when they can hang out again.

There’s another text from her mom, asking if she wants to stop by for dessert.

There’s a voicemail from Ron, asking her to swing by sometime to talk about her audition.

There’s a voicemail from a professional-sounding woman who says she works for a company called Delta Medical Systems and that Celia Flores has been listed as a job reference for a one Emily Rosure. Celia can give Delta a ring back anytime at her convenience.

Apparently, Delta actually follows up on its references.

Celia: Weird.

Celia handles the texts while she’s in the back of the Ryde.

Dani gets a quick response and an invitation for a sleepover this evening, if she’s free.

Her mother gets an approximate time Celia can stop by.

She sends a text to Emily about the Delta place to make sure she actually applied and that this isn’t some weird “fishing for information” sort of thing. Or a stalker.

She checks the time to see how long she has before she’s expected at the Evergreen.

GM: Dani responds back equally quickly that she’d be thrilled to.

Her mom’s answering text sounds just as happy to see her.

Emily does not immediately respond.

Celia: She’s probably busy having sex with her boyfriend.

GM: She has a moderate window of time.

Celia: Moderate enough to meet with her real dad and the Baron’s girl? She does the math on the expected conversations.

GM: If she’s quick about both.

Celia: She still doesn’t know what she’s going to do about Deja’s contact this evening. And she needs to finish setting up things for Randy’s death.

Savoy won’t care if she’s late. But she’d missed last week. And she told Pete she’d see him before the party.

She has too many friends, she decides. Way too many friends.

Celia waits until the car drops her off to call Ron and find out if she can swing by Monday or Tuesday, or if it’s more pressing than that.

She leaves a voicemail if she can’t get ahold of him directly.

GM: Ron doesn’t immediately respond either.

Maybe he’s having sex too.

Celia: Probably.

She would be, if she were him.

All those ladies all over his dick.

She leaves a voicemail, anyway, asking about Monday or Tuesday, and mentions maybe tomorrow if it’s pressing, and he can call or text to let her know but she might not be available the rest of the evening.

She’s not quite sure what to do about Randy. She doesn’t necessarily need an excuse to go after Edith; she can just tell Reggie to pick her up and he probably will. The girls will make good experiments for her to try the reverse aging process, and Reggie will have fun with Cinderella until she cuts her throat to slake her thirst. Roderick will understand why she is going to take out Edith, won’t he? What she’s done to those girls is monstrous. Who ghouls a child? And to keep the thin-blood there, letting her savage the ghouls, kill all those innocents…

She could let him help her. Grab Edith together. But who knows what he’d think of her if she told him the real reason. Say she’s giving Edith to the hunters, maybe. There’s an idea. It worked with his brother, hadn’t it?

What about Randy, though. What is she going to tell his brothers? “The sheriff killed him” is true, but it puts the blame at Jade’s feet for not preventing it. For not retaliating. For pissing him off in the first place.

They’ll want her to do something. They’ll want someone to blame. They’ll want a body.

Celia huffs a sigh. It’s a problem for another night, isn’t it. No one even knows he’s missing yet.

She can stop by her mom’s, at least. For dessert. Then go meet the Baron’s girl. Then the party.

GM: For all the dilemmas and moral (or at least practical) quandaries surrounding so many other people Celia is close to, her mother’s house is always welcoming. The cats, Lucy, and Emily are all gone. Diana greets her at the door with a tight hug. She looks genuinely happy to see Celia. The Toreador may wonder if her mother now has another reason to be thankful that Celia feeds off her: it lets the woman see her daughter every night.

“How are you tonight, sweetie?” she smiles.

Celia: It’s not like Celia was ignoring her mother prior to this arrangement. She just… didn’t make her a priority. But she returns the hug, holding her close to feel the beat of her heart against her chest, to absorb some of the warmth that Roderick no longer has.

How is she? Awful. Truly, truly awful.

“I’m okay,” she says instead. “How are you, though?”

GM: “I’m okay, too,” her mom answers with another smile as she leads Celia inside. “I didn’t feel very good after last night. So I slept in and ordered room service with Lucy and Emily. We snuggled in bed together and let someone else do the cookin’. It was a very nice morning!”

“I guess Friday night was the best night for us to do that, no work or church to be up for on a Saturday.”

Celia: She can’t help but wonder if her mother is lying, too. If she’s hiding the truth about what Lucy did to her.

“That does sound nice,” Celia says with a smile. It dims after a moment. “I got into a fight with Stephen.”

GM: That would make two Flores masking their hurts.

“Oh, no,” her mother exclaims as she sits down on the living room couch. She pulls up her feet onto the cushion and wraps an arm around Celia’s shoulder. “What happened, sweetie?”

Celia: He told me I’m stupid and put me into a microwave and turned into Daddy and now wants to control every aspect of my life.

“We had a disagreement about some of my friends. We said some harsh things.” He said some harsh things, anyway. “He’s being kind of controlling.” Kind of. Yeah. That’s the word.

GM: Her mom nods.

She knows all about controlling men, at least.

“You think you could reach a compromise, now that you’ve both had some time to cool off?”

Celia: No. He’s made it very clear he wants to control her forever.

“Maybe,” Celia says. “We’re going to spend the next few nights apart. But he wants to come to dinner tomorrow. But we’re still working on his identity and… actually I don’t know if I’m supposed to tell you that.”

Whatever, he’ll correct her for it later.

GM: “Oh, I’d be thrilled to have him over, sweetie!” her mom beams. “Maybe that’s what the two of you need. I’m just sorry he won’t be able to enjoy dinner, so…” She trails off. “Would he appreciate it if I let him, ah, drink from me, you think? And would you be okay with that?”

Celia: “We always appreciate blood,” Celia says with a smile. “I… I guess I don’t mind sharing… I’ll have a hit before I come over…”

Sharing her mother. Letting Roderick drink from her. She wouldn’t have minded once, but this new Roderick… she’s not sure if she loves that idea.

Maybe it’ll put him in a better mood. Maybe it’ll count as one of those five hits he wants. Maybe she can get a different reward, like him not being mad if she does end up on Savoy’s lap with his lips at her throat.

“You have school the next day, don’t you? I don’t know that we could both have you, but I’ll ask. He’d probably appreciate it.”

GM: “I do,” her mom nods. “But, I bounce back pretty fast, like we’ve found. I might be a little slower at work, but nothin’ I can’t handle. It’s worth it to me if I can make your beau feel welcome. Especially if he can’t enjoy dinner!”

Celia: “I’ll talk to him. Thanks, Mom.”

GM: Her mom smiles and nods. “Is it okay with you if we do that after dinner, too? My feeding you, that is. And Stephen. I just… want to be at 100%, for when your father is over.”

Celia: “Of course, Mom.”

“Do you remember what happened last night? Are you okay?”

GM: “Ah… I do, sweetie. I didn’t feel too good, after you dropped me off, but snuggles and breakfast in bed was a good cure for that.”

Her mom lets her arm fall away and looks down at her knees.

“I’m sorry I was such a… scaredy cat. I know you don’t like it when I’m cryin’. And scared.”

Celia: “Mom, stop. Feel your feelings. It’s okay. I don’t expect you to face everything head on like some sort of gladiator. That’s not who you are. I love who you are. I love you like this. I don’t need you to change for me.”

“I’m not going to… to demand you suddenly act like someone else or tell you that you aren’t good enough the way you are.”

GM: “I just… I just wish I was stronger, for you. That I’d been stronger for you. When you were growin’ up. Emily’s called me a doormat a few times, and she’s… she’s right.”

Celia: “I’m happy with how things turned out. I love who I am now. I love what I am. You’re more than strong enough. You don’t have to beat your fists on your chest and wear war paint to be strong. Loving me the way I am, accepting who you are, being there for our family now… that’s what matters, Mom. You can’t change the past. You have to stop beating yourself up about what already happened and move forward instead of backwards.”

“You’re not weak. Anyone who says so is a jackass and I’ll rip their throat out.”

GM: Her mom looks up and offers a wan smile. “I am weak, sweetie. I think we both know that. That’s what… she made me to be.”

She hugs Celia. “But it means so much, that you’re happy, that you’re okay with who I am. And you’re right, we can’t change the past. All I can do now is be the best mom I can to you and your brothers and sisters.”

She winks. “Lucy’s been hintin’ she’s going to make me another ‘mom of the year’ award, so I’ll take that as a good sign.”

Celia: Celia laughs.

“She’s got good taste, that kid. Do you want to… talk about the other one?”

GM: The mirth on her mom’s face dims somewhat. “Ah… okay, sweetie, what about?”

Celia: “You were tipsy last night. It looked like she was hurting you. I didn’t want to push her on you, and I wanted to be sure that’s what you want.”

GM: “Oh. Yes. I was tipsy. I felt… my lord, Celia, that was the strangest feeling. I’ll be happy not to do that again.”

Celia: “So you don’t want to rejoin her.”

GM: “Oh. N… no. I just don’t want to get tipsy again.”

“I don’t think it sets a good example, for Lucy or Emily.”

“Emily especially.”

Celia: “Oh.”

GM: “She’s been drinking a lot less since we adopted her, I know we’ve discussed. I don’t think she enjoys being the only person in the house who drinks, so she just doesn’t, as much. Only really does it with Robby now.”

Celia: “Mm. Yeah. You’re right. You don’t need to do it again if you don’t want to.”

GM: “Sorry, sweetie? Drink again?”

“I’m definitely not drinking again. I really didn’t like how it made me feel.”

Celia: “Right. That’s what I mean.”

GM: “I’m just not a drinker, but you know that.”

Celia: “Guess it’s a good thing I didn’t drink from you, since it would have transferred to me. That’s the only way we can get high or drunk anymore.”

GM: “Oh. All the more reason, then!” her mom exclaims with an alarmed look.

“And you don’t need to worry about getting high, sweetie, ever. You know I don’t do drugs.”

Celia: “Of course, Momma. I’m not worried about it with you. Just the club scene. That one, uh, dinner with Randy…”

GM: “Ah, yes. Emily said you were high.”

Celia: “We didn’t realize the girl was, uh, on ecstasy.”

GM: “Oh.”

“Well, that explains a good deal.”

“You’ll be careful, won’t you?” she asks, holding Celia’s hands. “You lived, thank goodness, but… just be careful, okay?”

Celia: “Of course. I will be.”

GM: “Good,” her mom smiles. She lets go of Celia’s hands but gives them a pat. “And while we’re on the subject, is there anything I could do more of, or maybe less of, so that drinking from me is… ah, what’s the word… better for you?”

Celia: Celia shakes her head.

“You taste wonderful, Mom. Like love. Like a warm hug.”

GM: “Oh, that’s just so sweet of you, Celia,” her mom says with a heartfelt look. “Good, wonderful, that’s just how I’d… this feels funny to say… I’d, ah, like to taste?”

Celia: “Dani told me I taste like makeup,” Celia says with a wry smile.

GM: Her mom laughs.

“Well! That would be appropriate, I suppose. I guess, in fact, now that you mention…”

Her eye wanders towards Celia’s wrist.

Then back up.

But she doesn’t say anything.

“Say, sweetie, you brought up… Lucy,” she remarks instead.

Celia: She doesn’t need to. Celia watches the movement of her eyes. She almost opens her mouth, but her mother beats her to it.

“Yes. Now that you’re sober I wanted to ask what you’d like to do.”

GM: Her mom looks unsure for a moment.

“Yes, ah… I want to do it, sweetie,” she finally nods.

“It felt… it felt hard, but… right.”

Celia: “Then we’ll do it.” Celia reaches for her mother’s hand. “You’ll… still love me, right? She won’t change you that much that you won’t?”

GM: “Always!” her mom exclaims immediately, throwing her arms around Celia instead.

“You are the brightest joy in my life, sweetie. You are the most important person in my life. You are my baby. Nothing is ever going to change how much I love you.”

Celia: Celia clings to the woman like the child she once was, seeking and finding comfort in her embrace. After everything that’s happened… she’s glad for this ray of brightness in her Requiem.

“I love you, Mom.”

GM: Sensing her child’s need for comfort, Celia’s mother holds her tight against her breast and slowly rocks her back and forth, stroking her hair.

“I love you too, Celia. I will always love you. I know your life is hard. I want to help you, and make you happy, and keep you safe, however I can. Anything you need, anything you want to tell me, I will be there for you.”

Celia: Celia blinks back the blood that threatens to seep from her eyes. But only for a moment. Only for a moment before someone other than Celia, someone who doesn’t mind giving up control, clambers onto her mother’s lap and lets them fall.

“He wants to get rid of us.” The voice isn’t quite Celia’s. It’s younger. Softer.

GM: “Who?” her mom asks, still hugging Celia close. “Who wants to get rid of us, sweetie?”

Celia: “Roderick,” she sniffs. “He said we’re crazy. He said insane. He said he’s going to find a doctor and that we’re not real and he got mad when she said I love him. I don’t love him anymore. He’s mean. He put Luna in a cage.”

GM: “Oh, we’re not crazy, Celia!” her mom exclaims, giving her a tighter squeeze. “We have our issues, yes, but guess what, so does everybody else. Him too. And what does he mean, we’re not…”

She pauses for a moment, then pulls away. She’s still hugging Celia, and gives a reassuring squeeze as if to say she’s not letting go, but meets her daughter’s gaze.

“Am I talking to Celia, still?”

Celia: “No,” the girl says, “I’m Leilani. Leila. Joshy calls me Lani but that’s too close to Lana and she’s not me and I only met him once besides so he doesn’t get to give me nicknames.”

“Luna is the kitty,” she adds helpfully.

GM: “Oh,” says Diana.

She’s quiet for a moment. Leilani can see the fear in her eyes before she asks, her voice small,

“Am I… still your mom?”

She remembers Jade.

Celia: “You’re my mommy.”

GM: Diana gives a sniff and throws her arms back around Leilani, hugging her extremely tight.

“Okay. Okay. Thank god. Okay.”

Celia: “You’re warm,” Leila says, snuggling closer.

GM: Her mom gives a relieved, half-sniffed laugh.

“Yes, sweetie, I am warm. Would you like me to get a blankie, so we can be warmer?”

Celia: Leila shakes her head.

“No. I hafta meet someone later and Celia’s gonna be mad if we’re late. But she won’t talk about Roderick being a meanie but you said we could tell you anything and I don’t wanna go away. And he said I can’t see the masked man anymore but I like the masked man, he sees us. All of us. And he said we could dance at the party tonight. And Roderick isn’t gonna be there anyway so how will he know?”

“And the cop said he’s a… a bad word.”

GM: “That’s a lot to think about, Leila,” says her mommy, rubbing her back.

“Well, as far as dancing, is that all it’s gonna be, just dancing? No… kissing, no more? If so, I’d say it’s okay for you to dance! That’s what people do at parties. Dancing and parties go together like PB&J.”

Her mommy pulls back enough so that Leila can see her smile.

“Dancing is a wonderful thing, sweetie. I dance with lord knows how many people every day at work. Dance is happiness. Dance is joy. Dance is how you smile with your whole body. Now your beau should get your first dance, if he were there, and your last one too, if you really want to remind him that he’s your #1. But he’s not! It’s okay to dance with other people, it’s beyond silly only to dance with your beau. It’s not kissing, it’s smiling! Smiling with your whole body, like I said. Smiling to lots of people makes them happy. Dancing with lots of people makes y’all happy.”

“So go dance at that party. I’m a dance expert, remember, and I’m sayin’ you’re officially cleared to go dance,” her mom declares with a wink.

Celia: Leila nods along while her mother talks.

“He can’t go because he doesn’t have the right face. An’ Celia didn’t offer to give him the right face,” Leila confides in a whisper, “because she doesn’t want him there tonight. An’ she’s gonna spend the night with Dani instead of him because he’s a meanie and he said it’s punishment but she was relieved but _you can’t tell him.”_

She wipes at her eyes.

“He said the masked man is gonna make me crazier and their whole clan is crazy and we’re crazy but I talked to masked man about it and he said that people just don’t understand but that their clan will be my family but I have a family and how come he doesn’t love all of us?” Leila looks at Diana with wide eyes. “Why doesn’t he get it? He keeps saying he’s smart but he’s a dummy about this.”

GM: “I won’t tell him, sweetie. I won’t tell him a thing,” Diana nods.

“Ah, who is the masked man? What makes their family… crazy?”

Celia: “They’re fishies.” Leila puckers her lips like a fish. “It’s their clan curse. They’re crazy. Except the one lady with the bun but I think her crazy is she’s mean. But then grandpa said something about being a stiff so maybe she’s not really crazy but I dunno I didn’t ask, she thinks we’re dumb and spoiled.”

“The masked man is in charge of the Masquerade. They see everything. And clean up messes. He says he knows masks. One of his librarians gave us some books, but Celia hasn’t read them to me yet. I think she was gonna ask Rod but he’s a jerkface.”

“But he said we should tell you about us but then also said he’s gonna get rid of us so I dunno it didn’t make sense. I think he doesn’t know what he’s talking about and just likes the sound of his own voice.”

“Don’t tell him I said that, though. It’s secret.”

GM: “I see,” Leila’s mommy says thoughtfully. “Well, Leila, that’s very useful for me to know. The bun lady sounds like she’s the craziest of them all, to me! You aren’t dumb and spoiled. You’re smart and nice. Very nice.”

She nods again. “Roderick sounds more than a little full of himself, if you ask me. But we’ll keep that just between us. Nobody who’s not Leila, Celia, or their mommy gets to know.” She draws an invisible zipper over her mouth in emphasis.

“Hey,” she then exclaims with a wide smile as she takes Leila’s hands, “you wanna do something fun, Leila?”

Celia: Leila nods eagerly.

GM: “How about…” her mommy starts in a low voice, like it’s a secret surprise just between them, “…we let Luna out to play? I bet being in a cage wasn’t much fun for her. There’ll be no cages here! Just lots of loves and pets and belly rubs!”

Celia: Leila considers the request.

“Are you gonna put her in the microwave?”

GM: “Oh my lord, no!” Diana laughs. “That is a very bad idea! Only thing that goes in the microwave is food.”

Celia: “I knew he was a dumdum,” Leila mutters. Then she’s gone, disappearing as if she had never existed, and a gray cat meows at Diana.

GM: “Hewwo, Luna!” Diana exclaims in her kitty voice. She doesn’t waste a second. Practiced hands start to scratch the cat along the sides of her chin and pet down her back.

“Hewwo, Luna! Hewwo hewwo!”

Celia: The cat is more than happy to let this woman scratch, rub, and pet her. She purrs, body vibrating against the gentle hands, and arches her back into the touch. It’s a nice change from the heat and the water.

GM: “Oh, yes, that is a purr! Confirmed, we have a purr goin’!” Diana exclaims, smiling widely. She showers the cat with loves. Scratches behind the ears. Scratches under the chin. Scratches alongside the neck. Pets down the back. She hits all the pleasure points. She closes her eyes and rubs her cheek along the cat’s head, but doesn’t let up for a second with the scratches.

“Who’s a good widdle kitty, huh? Who’s the best widdle kitty in the whole wide world?”

“Youuu are! Youuu are!”

Celia: Luna is more than happy to accept the loves from Diana. She meows at the question of who’s a good kitty as if to say, “I am,” and purrs again when Diana answers in the affirmative. She is a good kitty. She’s the best kitty. She rolls onto her back to present her belly, pawing at Diana’s hands.

GM: Diana is more than happy to give the best kitty lots of loves along her belly too. Her hands move up and down, alternating between pets and scratches, clearly basking in the feeling of the cat’s furry underside against her palms.

“And you’re not even scwatching me! No, you’re not! You are SUCH a good kitty, Luna! The best kitty in the whole wide world!” Diana exclaims.

She gives the cat more loves for a while, clearly enjoying herself just as much as Luna. Eventually, though, Diana’s scratching the kitty’s ears when she leans in and whispers,

“Okay, Luna. I had a very nice time, with the best kitty in the whole wide world. You think Celia wants to come back out, now?”

Celia: The cat meows a final time, rubbing her face along Diana’s cheek. Then she’s gone, and Celia has once more appeared before her mother, her expression somewhere between apprehension and appreciation.

She clears her throat unnecessarily, then lifts her shoulders in a helpless sort of shrug.

“So that’s, um… so you met Leila.”

GM: Her mom nods.

“I was wondering if ‘switching between’ Luna, so to speak, would let you come back out.”

“You know, serve as a bit of a reboot.”

She smiles. “Plus I really did love getting to pet a kitty.”

Celia: “You didn’t, ah, didn’t like Leila? She’s pretty harmless. A bit mouthy. But sweet.”

“He thinks I have DID. But I’ve looked it up before. That’s not how it works.”

GM: Her mom nods. “I thought so too. Sweet and harmless, like you say. I was just worried that it might be hard to get you back.”

“So, glad we were able to do that.”

Celia: Celia nods.

GM: “Is turning into Luna the only thing that does it?”

Celia: “No. I can… there’s some modicum of control there. It’s not like the textbook definition. They’re just… pieces of me, I think, that have grown into their own thing, but I’m not unaware while they’re out. They fill in the gaps.”

Celia looks down at her hands, then back up at her mother.

“I’m not crazy, Mom.”

GM: Her mom hugs her.

“I don’t care how many personalities you have inside you. I love you just as much.”

Celia: Celia hugs her tightly.

“Thanks, Mom. That really means a lot to me. People don’t always… we fear what we don’t know sometimes, and they’re just… they’re just me, but different.”

GM: She nods.

“So if this isn’t DID, what do you think this is?”

“I took some psych classes in college, though I’ll admit that was a while ago.”

Celia: “Oh Lord, I have no idea. Masking. Regression, with Leila. Roleplay. I don’t know. It just doesn’t fit the definition of DID. There’s no fugue state.”

“Acting, maybe.”

Ron always said she’d be good at it.

GM: “Is this what Jade was?” her mom asks.

Celia: That’s a delicate question.

“I don’t know,” Celia says with a sigh. “Jade just started as a name when I died. Now she’s… that. I started referring to her as a different person to keep my lives separate and she just… grew.”

GM: Her mom nods. “How do you think Leila came to be, then?”

Celia: “I think she’s… I think she’s been there since Dad… you know. Changed. And she’s what could have been. What should have been. She’s been around more since I met a fairy.”

GM: “…a fairy?” her mom asks, eyebrows raised.

Celia: “What, you thought vampires were the only supernaturals in the world?”

GM: “Well, ah, I suppose I did, now that you mention it.”

“Are fairies… good?”

Celia: “They’re… interesting.”

That’s one way to put it.

“I don’t think that they’re inherently good or bad. They’re people, like us, so it’s all a spectrum. There are good people and bad people. Good vampires and bad vampires. We lean bad, but I think that’s because we literally feed on humans and live forever and get jaded. Demons are bad. Ghosts are pretty much whatever they were like in life, I think, but I haven’t met all that many. Loops are…” Celia considers. “Furry.”

GM: “Loops?” her mom asks.

“But okay, that’s… that’s actually somewhat comforting to hear, sweetie. That they’re basically people. Good and bad.”

Celia: “Werewolves.”

“Loup garou. Someone thought you pronounced the P and it kind of stuck.”

GM: “Oh, that’s French. Literally, ‘werewolves.’”

“Do they feed on humans, too?”

Celia: “No. Not like we do. They don’t drink blood. I mean they’re… they don’t really like vampires.”

GM: “Ah, okay,” her mom nods. “Anyway, sweetie, we got distracted. We were talking about you.”

“You and your other, ah, selves.”

Celia: “What, you don’t want to meet my werewolf boyfriend?”

GM: “Oh? You have a werewolf boyfriend?” her mom asks, eyebrows raised again.

“I thought you had a boyfriend already, with Stephen…?”

Celia: “Each of the multiples gets their own boyfriend, Ma. It’s the twenty first century.” She grins. It fades after a moment.

“You want to talk about them, though? The others?”

GM: Diana seems to consider whether Celia is kidding, then nods.

“Are there any besides Leilani and Jade?”

“And Luna, if she counts…?”

Celia: “I… I’m not sure. I think so, but she’s not fully out yet. I just feel someone… else. I have other identities, other masks, but they’re not quite the same. I don’t know if that makes sense.”

GM: “Well, not the same, how?”

“Who are they?”

Celia: “Just different people. I use them to blend into society, go places I can’t as Celia or Jade. Some are more clear than others. I don’t really know how to explain it. Like I’m there, but I’m committed to the role. But it’s a commitment so deep that it’s not a role anymore. But I’m still… present. Just like watching over their shoulder, maybe?”

“Like I can autopilot, but still correct course if needed. Like uh… like I put in the coordinates on the map already and they just follow the path I set.”

GM: “Okay, that makes some sense,” her mom nods. “With Leilani, what does it usually take, for her to… I guess, go dormant?”

“Luna seemed to do it, I’m just wondering if that’s all.”

Celia: “She’s easily distracted. Josua just told her it was bedtime and that did the trick. Or just say you want to talk to Celia, maybe.”

“I haven’t done a lot of experimenting with her because no one really knows.”

“So I’m sorry to say I don’t have a concrete answer.”

GM: “It’s okay. I just want to be sure you stay safe, sweetie,” her mom answers. “Safe and happy. I guess, do Leilani and the other… personalities you can ‘course correct’, interfere with that? Are you okay with them?”

Celia: “They don’t cause problems for me. I like them. They keep me safe.”

GM: “Okay,” her mom nods. “They are a little funny to wrap my head around, but next to being a vampire… well, I guess it’s small potatoes. If there isn’t a problem, with the ones besides Jade, I guess there isn’t a problem.”

Celia: “You don’t think I should see a doctor?”

GM: “I might do some research into DID anyway, just to understand them better.”

Her mom pauses. “What about… Jade?”

Celia: “What about her?”

GM: “She’s evil, Celia,” her mother says quietly.

“Just… pure evil.”

Celia: “She’s not welcome here. She knows that.”

GM: “I know. But I’ve still… I’ve thought about that scene a lot, Celia.”

“I’ve had… dreams about it.”

Celia: “I’m sorry, Mom. I… I don’t know what else to say. I’m sorry.”

GM: Her mom holds her hand. “I know you are. You did… you did walk back from it, sweetie. Before it could poison, twist, our relationship, into something…. horrible.”

Celia: “It sounds like that wasn’t enough.”

GM: “You mean it, when you say you love me,” her mom answers. “Believe me, Celia. Believe me… every night, since then, when I’ve said my prayers, I’ve thanked God on my knees that he gave you the strength to… to overcome her.”

“I’ve thought a lot, about what our relationship, about what my life, would look like if you hadn’t.”

“I don’t think I’m going to drop ‘thank you for giving my daughter strength when she needed it most’ from my prayers anytime soon.”

“I know we dodged a… a hell of a bullet.”

Celia: “We did,” Celia says quietly. “I don’t know what would have happened to us, but it wouldn’t have been ‘us’ anymore.”

GM: “No, it wouldn’t. Or Lucy.”

“I thought about how… about your father, when he was cruel to me, hurt the children too. What that did to you and the others, for your mother to be living in fear.”

“And I just thought… how would that have affected Lucy. If her mom was living in fear.”

“I thought about that a lot.”

“And Emily. I think she’d have noticed something was wrong. She’s got a good… bullpoo detector.”

Celia: “She is. It would have destroyed the family.”

GM: “It would’ve poisoned us, Celia. Even if no one noticed, for a while. It would’ve poisoned Lucy. Jade would have hurt Lucy.

Her mom’s hands clench at those words.

Celia: “Do you… do you not want me to come around anymore?”

GM: Her mom looks up in alarm.

“Oh, no, sweetie! I want you to stay in this family, more than anything!

Celia: “I can’t do anything about Jade. She’s part of me. She’s not going to come out around you again. I won’t let that happen.”

GM: “But she’s still there,” says her mom.

“Doing the makeup for those… those victims… was that her, too?”

Celia: Celia nods.

GM: “I thought so.”

“She needs to die.”

Celia: Celia rises to her feet.

“Right. Well. Something to think about.”

GM: Her mom looks at her in confusion.

“Celia, don’t tell me you want her.”

Celia: “She’s part of me. Killing her kills me. There’s no cutting her out. And even if I did find a way to surgically extract her, I’m still Jade to the entire city of licks.”

GM: “Is Jade a person you want to be?”

Celia: “Jade is a person I need to be to fit in with the rest of the assholes that I associate with.”

“We’re not good people, Mom. We’re a society of raging dicks. The strong bully the weak. We take what we want. And if we can’t hold onto what’s ours, we lose it.”

GM: “Those were the most hurtful words someone ever said to me,” says her mom. “That I wasn’t your mom anymore. That I was your slave.”

“More hurtful than anything your father ever said. Because I had, because I have, nothing but love for you.” Her mom’s voice sounds like it’s starting to tear up.

Celia: “I said I was sorry.”

GM: “You don’t, you don’t need to apologize, sweetie. I forgave you. The slate’s clean.”

Celia: “You’re still talking about it. It’s clearly not clean.”

“You want to kill part of me.”

“The part that made a deal for power to save you from Dad.”

“The part that haggled with a monster to put you back together again.”

“The part that tore herself open to save you when you were thrown off the roof.”

“The part that looked a demon in the eyes and told him that his prize pawn had better leave you alone or I would slaughter him.

GM: Her mom opens her mouth, emotions swimming in her eyes, then finally closes it.

She looks at her feet.

Celia: “She killed herself for you. And she’d do it again. She fucked up. She’s sorry. I’m sorry. We both make mistakes. What she did to you was a mistake that will never happen again. But she is not going anywhere. She’s me. I’m her.”

GM: Diana looks back up at her daughter’s words. There’s some color in her cheeks, but her eyes look moist too. She sniffs and runs a hand across them, then stands up to take Celia’s hand.

“Can… can we please not fight, sweetie. I don’t want to fight you. I want this home, our home, to be a welcoming space for you.”

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry I brought it up again. I’m sorry I didn’t understand.”

Celia: She doesn’t have a home anymore. Jade broke this one, and Roderick destroyed the other.

But she hugs her mother because that’s what she’s supposed to do. And she runs a hand down her back because that’s what she’s supposed to do.

And the words break her heart. The apology. Like hers to Roderick.

It’s like looking into a fucking mirror, and Celia hates what she sees.

“Can we table this discussion, Mom? I need to… talk to someone else about this who knows more than I do.”

She wants her sire. He’s the only one she wants anymore with the way Roderick has been treating her. But she can’t talk to him about this. About any of it. They don’t have that sort of relationship.

“I’m sorry. I don’t want you to be scared of me. Of her. She’s not evil. She’s just…”

“She’s just her.”

“She was following some really bad advice. And when she’s afraid she gets angry and mean because we’re not allowed to be scared. She shows teeth.”

Celia lifts her hand to tuck a stray hair behind her mother’s ear.

“She loves you too. She’s just… terrible at communicating. If you knew what the rest of them are like you’d see the difference.”

GM: Celia’s mom hugs her close and sniffs against her shoulder, oblivious to the dark and despairing thoughts coursing through her daughter’s head. She guides Celia back onto the couch and listens intently.

“Well, I was… I was going to ask, sweetie.”

“How she could love me and then do… what she did.”

“I guess that makes… more sense.”

“She’s really not that bad?”

Celia: “She’s really not that bad. I promise. She’s done some questionable things, but she loves you. And Emily. And Lucy. She’s just… she’s like a… a kicked puppy, right, that grows into a mean dog because all it knows is the feel of a boot on its ribs, and it doesn’t know better. She thought what she was doing was right because that’s how she’s always done it. But she learned. You helped her learn.”

“Maybe she can… write you a letter. And explain.”

GM: “I just… I don’t understand, Celia,” her mom admits. “I said sorry to her. After I asked for something I shouldn’t have. I took it all back. I said I didn’t want it anymore. I thought that was enough, I thought that would fix things. But she kept saying I needed to call her master, that I wasn’t her mom, and that… that’s what she hit me for…”

Celia: “She’s confused, Mom. She didn’t have a mom. She just appeared when I was lost in the dark and took my hand and guided me out. Her first experience was an impossible test, a cruel test, and watching your rape and torture. That’s what she woke up to. That’s what she saw.”

“People don’t love Jade. They fuck her. They flirt with her. They use her.”

“She doesn’t have a family. She doesn’t have friends. Not like Celia does.”

GM: “So is that what she needs? Do I just need to show her love…?” her mom asks slowly.

Celia: “I… maybe?”

The more she thinks about it the more sense it makes. Show the stray cat enough love and it’ll eventually let you pet it.

GM: “Jesus says to turn the other cheek,” Diana nods.

“If I can forgive your father, after all, why not Jade too?”

Celia: “I don’t deserve a mother as good as you. You’re just… you’re just incredible, Mom.”

GM: Her mom smiles and squeezes Celia’s hand in hers.

“I’m sorry I hurt her, too. Maybe there was a better way.”

Celia: “Maybe. Maybe when you’re both ready you can start fresh.”

GM: “You mentioned writing a letter. I think that sounds like a good start.”

Celia: Celia nods.

“I’ll let her know.”

GM: “Okay. I think she should write it someplace… someplace not here. Lucy is here. I don’t think we are ready for that.” Her mother’s voice sounds hopeful but wary.

Celia: “I’ll have her write it elsewhere and I’ll deliver it for her.”

GM: “Okay,” her mom nods. “That sounds… safe.”

Celia: “No direct contact. Not until you ask for it. Promise.”

Celia squeezes her mother’s hand.

GM: Her mom nods. “I guess the biggest thing I’m wondering is… why. Why did she hurt me because I called her sweetie. Why did she want me to call her master so badly. Why did she say I wasn’t her mom.”

“Because I’d stopped asking about… you-know-what. I’d stopped. I’d said sorry. I thought that would be enough. So why did she… did she not let up?”

Celia: “I… I don’t know, Mom. I can have her explain it, maybe, but I think it’s… about control. Knowing she’s in control. Knowing you accept that she’s in control.”

“Bad advice from someone else, mostly, I think.”

“But hey… do you want to trade, Mom? Like you said? I can take two and give you one, and you should be fine for tomorrow..?”

GM: Her mother’s eyes shine.

“Yes… yes, sweetie! I’d love that so much!

Celia: “Come on, then, let’s grab a cup.”

GM: Celia’s mother all but leaps from her seat. She grasps her leg for a moment with a pained inhalation, but doesn’t slow. She just makes for the kitchen.

Celia: They need to get that fixed. Soon. If she can’t get ahold of her teacher then she’ll reach out to E. Or Xola. One of them should be able to help, dangerous though the latter is. Pete might go with her again now that Diana knows about everything. Maybe this summer, during her break, so it’s not an abrupt change at school…

GM: Diana throws open the cupboard and grabs the first cup she can get her hands on, a Disney princess-themed plastic one. She doesn’t even limp and favor her good leg for the walk back. She just gets back to Celia, as fast as she can without running. The only sign of pain is the way her face repeatedly twists.

“Here we go, sweetie, here’s a cup…”

Celia: Celia lets her mother hold onto the cup for her for a moment. She says she’s going to drink first, just to take the edge off, and leans in to bring her mother into her arms. Like a hug. Only this time her mouth opens, fangs extending so she can sink them into her vessel’s neck, piercing her flesh to bring forth the flow of blood into her waiting maw.

She drinks.

She drinks the freely offered blood, the source of love and life (or unlife) that her mother parts with so readily, the flavor of it dancing across her tongue. Like a warm hug, she’d said earlier, and it’s true. It tastes like comfort. Like affection. Like a mother’s knowing smile. Like a meal made with her in mind, and she enjoys every second of it. She basks in the divine nectar.

Celia licks the wound closed when she’s had her fill. Two hits for her. Then the points of her fangs dig into her wrist and she bleeds into the plastic princess cup, waits for it to cool long enough to avoid a bond, and finally offers it to her mother.

GM: Her mother tastes like all of those things and more.

She tastes like love.

Celia has yet to drink from another breather vessel that compares.

True to Celia’s expectation, drinking so deeply from her mother takes some of the woman’s nerves off. This is deeper than they’ve done before. Diana moans softly beneath her daughter’s kiss. Her eyelids droop and Celia can feel the slowing of her heartbeat. She looks thoroughly tuckered out by the time the Toreador pulls away, and sleepily accepts the cup without her prior animation. She drinks slowly at first, but her eyes widen with the taste. Color returns to her cheeks. She closes her eyes again, taking a long, slow draught, and Celia can see the smile spreading across her face. There’s a blush to her cheeks when she sets the cup down and looks at her daughter with shining eyes.

“Oh, sweetie, that felt… heavenly…”

She runs her finger along the cup’s inside, then licks it off.

Celia: “Slowly, Momma,” Celia says as she lifts the cup to her lips, pleased that she’s taking her time with this feeding. “Savor it. Good…” Celia rubs a hand up and down her back while she feeds, nuzzling against her once it’s gone. Like she does with Alana, she realizes, only this isn’t sexual, just intimate. The sharing of blood.

“How do you feel?” Celia asks when she’s done.

GM: Her mom wraps an arm around her and cuddles up against her.

“Oh… I feel you inside me, Celia… spreadin’ all through me… you are sweet, very sweet, and kind of like makeup…”

Celia: Celia giggles at the description.

“You’re sweet too, Mama. Like love. Just… like you’ll always love me. Comfort and security and warmth. Nothing else has ever tasted as good.”

GM: “Good,” Diana murmurs, nuzzling against her. “I’m glad I taste so good. That’s how I want to taste, for you. I want you to feel warm and safe and loved when you’re home.”

Celia: “I do, Mom. You’ve always taken good care of me. I’m glad I can share this side of myself with you.” Celia touches a hand to her cheek. “I love you, Momma.”

GM: Her mom leans against her.

“I love you too, sweetie. With all my heart. I’m so glad you can share yourself, all of yourself, with me.”

Celia: “It definitely makes everything easier,” Celia says with a wry smile.

GM: “Or, yourselves, I suppose,” her mother says with a chuckle.

Celia: “Oh. Speaking of. I want to move forward with fixing your leg. I don’t know if or when the colleague I mentioned will be back in the city, but there are others I can speak to, and I can reach out to my old teacher as well. I’d like to do it this summer, so you don’t look suddenly better overnight at school. Is that okay?”

“We can say that the physical activity with fencing has helped, maybe. Or have you ‘see a physical therapist’ or something. Emily might be hard to fool, but we’ll make it believable.”

GM: “Yes… I was goin’ to bring her up,” her mom says thoughtfully.

“She is a doctor, and she knows my ‘case’ really well, at this point.”

“She doesn’t believe all that much in alternative medicine, either. I think Dr. Crawford’s really rubbin’ off on her.”

Celia: “It’s not for everyone. Hard to believe in something you don’t witness for yourself, even if it’s been around for thousands of years.”

“I bet she doesn’t believe in vampires, either.”

GM: “I don’t think she does,” her mom says wryly. “It just seems to get under her skin a lot more, this last year of med school. What she calls ‘quackery.’ I think one of your girls at Flawless was talking about energy crystals a few months ago and, my lord, I love Emily dearly, but she would not close her mouth!”

Celia: “Mm, she’s rather opinionated.”

“She applied for a new job, though. So I don’t know how much longer she’ll even be at Flawless.”

GM: “Oh, she did?” her mom asks. “She didn’t mention that to me.”

Celia: “Delta Medical… something. Systems?”

“I dunno, they called for a reference. Left a voicemail.”

“I texted her about it but I assume she’s busy with Robby.”

GM: “She is,” Diana nods, then taps her chin. “Delta. Hmm. Have I heard of them somewhere…?”

“I think she might have mentioned them once, but I didn’t know she was applying for a job.”

“Does she need to finish med school, before she can…?”

Celia: “I’m not sure. We, uh, got into a little bit of an argument last night and I think she was kind of upset, but I doubt that’s what this is about. Usually takes longer to apply and hear from a company. But if she’s just doing clerical work or something she might not need the degree. A lot of people work in medicine without a degree, all sorts of other positions they can fill. Even some research based things.”

“Could also be an internship or assistant position.”

GM: “Oh. Are you two still mad at each other? Could I help?” her mom asks.

Celia: “I don’t think so. It was just about Stephen. Whether or not she slept with him. I… don’t know why it bothers me so much.”

GM: “Oh,” says her mom. “Well, I can understand wantin’ to feel like your beau loves only you. That is a little weird to think of him bein’ intimate with your sister.”

Celia: “Yeah. Also like… who introduces their ex to their new friend as a potential boyfriend?”

GM: “I mean, okay, I can accept you might not’ve been Stephen’s first, even if things would’ve been better that way, but that’s…. messy, I guess, to also be with Emily? I don’t quite like it.”

“Well, then again, maybe nothin’ happened. Dani said they only went on, what, one date?”

Celia: “It’s not even about being his first, he was twenty-two when we met. So I didn’t assume he was a virgin or anything. And he showed me a good time, and it was great. You know? No awkward vibes. But… just the thought of them together… everything I’ve ever said to her about him…” Celia trails off. “Two dates. But I guess I’m just being… silly. It shouldn’t matter, right? We’re both dead now.”

“I’ve been with other people, too.”

GM: “Hmph, well, I suppose that is what it is,” her mother says at all the mentions of outside-marriage sex.

“I guess there’s nothin’ much to be done for it either way, though. I mean, Stephen clearly loves you, hasn’t been in Emily’s life for years… you two can either stay mad at each other or not, you know? There’s nothin’ to do about it at this point.”

“If anythin’ even happened past two dates.”

“Maybe it’d be better just to let sleeping dogs lie.”

Celia: “That’s the plan. Pretty sure he’d tell me if I asked, but I don’t really want to know.”

GM: “That sounds like a good plan,” her mom nods. “As far as Emily, that is tricky, though. About my leg.”

“Maybe I could take a vacation or something, away from her? Or she could go on one with Robby? Just some time apart, so she doesn’t notice an immediate shift?”

Celia: “I was thinking something similar. Vacation for one of you.”

“I, uh, might be going to LA soon, maybe you could visit..?”

GM: “Oh, you’re going to LA?” her mom smiles. “Vacation there, too?”

She wiggles her eyebrows.

“Are you bringin’ your beau?”

Celia: “Ha. I mentioned it to him but he hasn’t said anything yet. I’d like to, since he runs with the kind of people that run LA, but he’s got a lot going on here.”

GM: “Hm. Well, if he doesn’t, I could go with you? I don’t want to be a third wheel between two lovebirds,” she declares with another smile, “but if things don’t work out there, we could say I saw a specialist or something in L.A.?”

Celia: “That’ll work. I’ll probably be there a while if things work out. Movie deal. Maybe. I have to follow up.”

“Plus, you’ll need to be nearby so we can trade, or you’ll end up going through withdrawal.”

GM: “Oh,” her mom says with some alarm. “I guess if it’s like a drug…”

“You could always… give me an advance, if you’re goin’ to be gone for a while? If that’s how it works?”

She shakes her head.

“Maybe you’re right, though. Maybe it’s better that I come. How long would this be for? You said you’re doin’ a movie deal, sweetie?” she smiles.

Celia: “I could leave some,” Celia says thoughtfully. “Or have someone else take care of it while I’m gone. I just know it’s… we talked about it being addictive, and I don’t want you to be tempted to take it early or because you had a bad day or something. It’s not that I don’t trust you, Mom, I just have heard that some of them can OD, and it’s not easy for me to travel. If Stephen doesn’t come, maybe he wouldn’t mind. Or Pe—er, my other friend.”

Who else does she trust with her mom? No one.

“I’m not sure how long it takes to shoot, or even if I have a part. I have to talk to the guy. And his friend. But I’ve got a leg up since I know people. There’s auditions, all sorts of things. Maybe a month, maybe two or three. I’ll probably fly out to do some auditions, come back and wait to hear from them, then go back out once I hear if I got anything.”

GM: “Oh. I don’t know I could manage two or three months, sweetie,” says her mom. “Summer break at McGehee is about two months. And I want to spend a good chunk of that with Lucy!”

She thinks.

“Or maybe we could take her, too? Med school’s break is about eight weeks, so that’s the longest Emily can take care of her, anyway. And I figure this summer is goin’ to be even busier with her residency starting.”

Celia: Celia shakes her head.

“I didn’t intend for you to be there the whole time. And of course we could take Lucy. Hell, Emily could even come if she wants.”

“For a bit. After your, uh, ‘surgery.’”

GM: “Hm, I love the thought of havin’ Emily along, but I’m just worried how much she’d suspect. Me goin’ to L.A. and back for the summer seems like it’d be easier to swallow.”

“If she isn’t there to see any of it.”

Celia: “Probably. Plus I’ll be… not me.”

GM: “Oh. You mean… Jade?” her mother asks warily.

Celia: “Not necessarily. I’ll look like her, but I’m still me. It’s just that movies generally shoot during the day, so ’Lana will be Celia.”

“I could use a different identity out there, though. No reason to be Jade if no one knows me anyway.”

GM: Her mom nods. “Yes, I’d prefer that, sweetie. I know we talked about the letter. Just… makin’ plans to be alone with her, in another city, for months, doesn’t feel safe to me.”

“Especially with… Lucy.”

Celia: “She wouldn’t hurt Lucy,” Celia says quietly, “but I’ll make sure she doesn’t stay around. No reason for Jade to go to LA, anyway. I’m going to try to divorce her from Celia to see how things go with Dad and running and everything.”

GM: “She almost did hurt Lucy, sweetie, through me,” her mom reminds her seriously. “But, okay, that sounds good. Baby steps with her. Goin’ to L.A. with you and Lucy sounds like a wonderful summer.”

Celia: Celia beams at her mom. “Perfect. I’ll start getting plans together.”

GM: “Great!” her mom smiles back. She lets Celia know the dates when school ends and resumes at McGehee. The latter is somewhat earlier for teachers.

Celia: Worst case scenario her mom comes back before her. But it should be a fun summer if things work out.

She’s looking forward to a vacation from New Orleans.


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Comments

Was more than happy to roll for frenzy to attack Roderick here. Twice. Like Celia says, “Payback for the way he has treated her. Payback for hurting her last night and thinking that a stray ‘good girl’ is enough of a balm to soothe her hurts. He has so much to learn about breaking people.”

I was gonna say something about how it being his fault, but it looks like Celia covers that too: “For being hungry because he injured her and her body needed the blood to mend because he’s too stupid to know to fix what he breaks.”

Idiot.

Enjoyed the puppet and mask imagery throughout.

Picking out clothes. Like a maid. Yes, Roderick, what a fucking privilege. Thank you, sir, for your generosity.

Prob could have snooped harder. Didn’t really feel like getting caught, though.

Outfit is kind of cute, though. Not really into male fashion so I actually had to look for something instead of making it up. Couldn’t find something I loved so I combined some stuff. It’s missing something. She knows exactly what. She’ll rectify that before she meets him. Celia has a gift planned, in case that isn’t obvious. Doubt he’ll appreciate it, though. He’s a dirtbag like that. Fuck these two logs really make me hate him.

Glad she finally bit back about the juice, anyway. Didn’t win the argument, but she’s clear in what she says and expects.

Kind of hate how dismissive he is / has been when she asks about his plans for the future. Like. She wants to help. She’ll fuck it up if she doesn’t know things. “We have other things to discuss.” They still didn’t discuss some of them. They talked about her dad a lot, but not her sire (which is one of the issues he wanted to talk about), and only slightly touch on the multiples. I guess it’s probably because of [redacted] so it might have felt like a waste of time?

Him holding her is finally what makes her crack. Not completely, but enough. Needed more of that last night and she wouldn’t be as angry with him as she is now. Notice how desperately she seeks confirmation that he actually wants to have sex with her and isn’t just doing it because she wants it.

And then he ruins it. Oof.

Pretty sure if she’d have tried to hide her “human” desire from him he’d accuse her of lying. Was waiting for him to call her a pervert for it but he didn’t so I guess that’s a plus. Imagine at some point he’s going to tell her it’s gross and it should stop, but he also mentioned he hasn’t been with that many people so maybe he doesn’t realize or think it’s gross. Yet.

Enjoyed the way he is shown to worship her, anyway. She gets a little bit of power back afterwards. Dunno if you lowered the DC because she blew his mind with sex (you told me DC was 7 when I asked about it), but figured it was good timing regardless. Not opposed to the idea of bringing Roderick with her when she goes to see Josua and Marcel since she already told him about what she’s trying to do there. Have some plans on how to incorporate him into the threesome and possible orgy. Same thing with bringing a breather back to feed/fuck and doing stuff with Alana.

Honestly kind of surprised by what he said about Maxen and Isabel deserving what she did. Celia clearly was too. I think, uh, with Roderick’s acceptance she might be able to forgive herself for that.

Ayy, look at that reason to talk to Clete. Thanks Rod.

And then immediately ruins her mood by calling her stupid. Can’t he just correct her assumptions and thoughts without making fun of her, too? Christ.

“Yes, Roderick. You’ve given me a lot to think about. You’re very intelligent and I have so much to learn from you.” LOL. This reminds me of the scene with her other contact. I literally snorted when I reread this.

Telling him she doesn’t want him to kill again didn’t really go the way I wanted it to. Will have to revisit when they’re not in the middle of another discussion. I think I tried too hard to force it into their talk because it was something I wanted to address.

“I will look into things and search for a suitable mental health professional.” Oh hey I wrote part of a story about this. You never told me what you thought. Rude. Probably because literally nothing happened yet, BUT STILL. Need to stop sending you incomplete stuff, I never end up finishing them once I do.

He has kind of a good point about Lucy/Diana and the Malkavians not being able to help (adding gasoline to fire and whatnot), but he’s also not really on the crazy spectrum so he doesn’t understand. I’ve had a hard time with Malkavians when I tried to play it too straight with Celia; as soon as she was open about the multiples and others inside of her things got much easier for her. Roderick doesn’t have a crazy side so he literally just doesn’t understand. And like yeah okay maybe Lucy IS a projection. Or maybe Lucy is the Jade to Diana’s Celia.

And telling her who she can and cannot hang out with is a HUGE yikes. Crazy doesn’t spread like that.

I guess it ended kind of positively. I dunno. Why was he checking her phone, anyway? Douche. Does that mean he went through it or just glanced at her lock screen? She literally doesn’t keep private stuff there.

Still didn’t get to the demon chat they were supposed to have. Awkward. Was kind of time sensitive. Guess it means she didn’t tell him about the Oven Monster, at least.

Have some thoughts so far as his identity, but no idea how he expects them to pull it off in one night. Figured I’d have her do some research or get Rusty to do some research before the party or maybe when she’s with Dani. Would like to do the writeup for those but not sure how you wanted to handle it since you told me I should talk to him about both identities.

Roderick Takeaways

Suppose now is a good a time as any to drop the lines about Roderick. So I kind of broke it up into what I thought worked / didn’t work (IC) so far as their new relationship dynamic. Either physical things that reinforced stuff, things he said, or just ways of being. Kind of just a rough list so hopefully it makes sense in this format.

What worked:
-Offering choices for correction
-Telling her she didn’t do anything wrong when putting Luna in the cage
-Height difference in seating with him on couch and her on the floor, literally “above” her
-Patting the couch so she can join him, then asking if she wants to sit on his lap
-Assurances that he’ll be fair when she confesses / not being corrected when she comes to him with something she should be corrected for
-Not correcting her when she confessed
-The patient way he explains things
-“Ugly enough truths may require correction, but it will always be gentler correction than more lies.”
-Assuring her that he wants sex just as much as she does / that he loves her
-Telling her he loves her and wants to marry her and she’s important to him. Telling her that he’ll protect her. Giving her additional ideas for spa / Maxen.


What didn’t work:
-No aftercare with the microwave. He put her in water, but even Donovan fed her so she could heal after breaking all her bones. Yes, it was because she’d taken the collar too, but like… if you hurt someone, and then you fix them, it cements the power dynamic. “I can hurt you. But I can make it better too. I care enough about you to make it better.” That’s what being “in charge of the relationship” means.
-The cruelty and purposeful misunderstanding of things she says to him. His open derision. “You wouldn’t understand it anyway.” “This is why I need to talk to smart people.” “You’re my inferior and will never be my equal.” Like. Just straight up kicking her while she’s already down. This is the kind of situation where it would have been better for him to build her up / assure her that she can still be useful and value and respected in their relationship while reinforcing that he’s in charge. Like he asks if it’s going over her head, she says she doesn’t want to question him, he berates her. But he’d have berated her if she’d questioned him, too.
-Further on the above, the entire talking down to and belittling is just straight up abusive. I know that he’s angry right now and had a bad week. I get it, I really do. But holy shit, taking it out on Celia in the awful way that he has is completely uncalled for. He can’t say “I love you, you’re important to me” and then also say “You’re stupid and will never be good enough for me” every five minutes. Which is it? Do you love her? Then why are you hurting her? I was fine with what happened in the scene following Elysium and the dynamic they had and him being “in charge” and talking to her about things, but this second meeting with him took things way too far.

If you kick a dog enough times eventually it stops hoping you’ll pet it instead. Celia is NOT the doormat that she pretends to be in these scenes. She was hurt by him calling her stupid, but he did the exact right thing afterward and she could have accepted taking a “submissive” role in their relationship if that were as far as it went. She’d be happy to share things with him and get his input. He does offer a different perspective and is relatively intelligent. But she’s not going to sit around hoping things change and that he treats her better. She’s not going to stick with someone who constantly berates her if there are no redeeming qualities. Like these logs makes me wonder why he bothered sticking around with her and why he still says she’s important to him when he spends the majority of the time being abusive. He hates her dad because of how he hurt people he was supposed to protect and he’s literally doing the same exact thing.

Already told you I plan on having Celia talk to him about it. I guess we’ll see where things go from there and if it helps at all. Still need to find an outlet for his anger that isn’t Gui. I’d ask my fellow players but I think I’ve been bugging them too much lately, whoops.

Definitely regret taking Roderick as a Touchstone with the changes made to the rules about them. He doesn’t really offer anything anymore that she wouldn’t get elsewhere, and removing the WP/SP given for “wholesome scenes with a Touchstone” give him zero net (mechanical) benefits to Celia. Kind of just a lodestone around her neck now. Yes, I realize they haven’t had wholesome scenes lately so she wouldn’t be getting SP anyway, I’m just pointing it out.

Rather too numb to talk further about Roderick right now, gonna move on.

Diana Scene

Overall, enjoyed the scene with Diana. Glad she’s okay after the events of last night. Cuddling and room service sounds fun. It’s nice to be able to talk to Diana about vampire problems and boy problems, even if she’s not being totally honest about what he’s doing to her. Celia is trying to be like “yeah I can share,” when Diana asks about feeding him but like Diana is HERS and I feel like she shouldn’t share or want to share. She wouldn’t offer her mother to anyone else, but she’s so lost with what to do with Roderick (or at least I was at the time) that she’s grasping at straws for how to put him in a good mood. Maybe it’ll work, and maybe he’ll be mad. Who the fuck knows with him anymore. Kind of want to take out the line about her smiling when she tells him about Diana (from prior log) because it gives her emotion when she’s supposed to be wooden, but maybe that humanizes her a little bit.

Regardless, she has no intention of sharing her Herd or Domain if he’s not giving her something in return. Dating isn’t good enough, sorry bro. Not with the relationship as it is.

LOL I just flipped open my notebook to my “Roderick” page and one of the things I’d wanted to talk to him about prior to playing these scenes are what he got from Savoy and if he wants to share her Domain or if he’ll get his own. Hard pass on sharing now.

Gonna move forward with rejoining Lucy and Diana.

Leila

So. Leila came out here. I was thinking about her and how come she appears to be both wise and childish and mature and naive. I think Leila isn’t a specific “person,” so to speak, but a concept. She’s Celia’s innocence. Around Diana, she’s a child. Around Josua, she’s a virgin. Around Roderick, she’s a romantic. Around Dahlia Rose, she’s a Disney princess. So she’s way more fluid than “Jade” because she’s not a person, just an idea. If that makes sense? Kind of like how Celia masks, it’s Leila. Masking but not masking because that’s just who she is. Here she’s childish because she’s with Diana and it was her mother’s comfort that brought her out, and so she’s acting like she’s younger and speaking in a completely different way. “I don’t love him anymore,” she decides, with all the intensity of a child declaring they don’t like broccoli. “He’s mean. He put Luna in a cage. Joshy doesn’t get to give me nicknames.” Etc.

Feel bad that seeing another alter scared Diana, but I was glad she played along at least. And when Rod gets mad at her for hanging out with Harley she’s just gonna say her momma told her to. He can’t be mad at her momma. Maybe he’ll say Diana is stupid and she can rip his throat out. Love the way she described dancing.

“He can’t go because he doesn’t have the right face. An’ Celia didn’t offer to give him the right face,” Leila confides in a whisper, “because she doesn’t want him there tonight. An’ she’s gonna spend the night with Dani instead of him because he’s a meanie and he said it’s punishment but she was relieved but you can’t tell him.” All true! Celia was going to bring Rod to the party tonight but he was a douche so she didn’t bother offering. Fuck ‘im.

“They’re fishies.” Lol.

Honestly I love Leila. She’s super fun. The entire exchange with Diana was amusing. Same thing with Luna. Luna is more than happy to be snuggled by Diana. Diana def knows how to show a cat a good time.

Diana Scene (Cont’d)

Really not sure how much feedback I have for this, the light hearted scene was very much needed after Roderick’s bullshit. I don’t think there was any part of it that I didn’t enjoy. Celia got to vent, they had a good conversation about multiples, she has a way to move forward with her mother and Jade, they made plans for LA. Some light humor. Was fun explaining the other supernaturals, vague though I made it. Also enjoyed writing about Leila’s appearance and how she came to be. Probably always around but less willing to come out because of how tough Celia’s life / Requiem was. Meeting the fairy made her believe in magic again. Being around Josua, who she trusted not to hurt her, let her come out. Being around Harlequin, who she trusted to understand, let her come out. Being around Diana, who she trusted to love her, let her come out. There aren’t a lot of people that bring her out or situations where she can flourish, so it makes sense that she’s kept pretty tightly under wraps most times. Shame that Rod doesn’t want to meet them.

As an aside, looking forward to talking to Harlequin at the party. Let the crazy shine and stuff.

Diana’s comment here about Jade being evil and wanting to kill her and Jade hurting her more than Maxen ever had really hit me hard, man. That’s one of my biggest concerns with combining Lucy and Diana, that Lucy is going to try to kill Jade. Celia tries to explain Jade’s origin to her mother but she doesn’t really seem to get it. Jade is mean because she has to be. Celia was too soft to be a vampire. Jade was literally born from rape and corruption, spiraled hard enough to get Donovan to Embrace her, is used by literally everyone, has to be a cunt or lose what she has, etc. Jade does what she needs to do. No one loves Jade. Maybe she wouldn’t be as bad if they did. Maybe that’s what makes her so angry, and maybe that’s why Someone Else is finally coming out: Jade/Celia realizes that they can’t be on a hairpin trigger like Jade, that they need to be more cool / calm / collected. Someone Else is a Celia that doesn’t believe in love anymore. Someone Else is a Celia that doesn’t need anyone else. Someone Else is Donovan’s childe. Looking forward to seeing how she develops when [redacted].

Celia finally just offers blood to change the subject. Ha. I mean also I wanted to get to the other meeting but ended up not having time anyway. No big. This is kinda sex. Whoops. She’ll have Rod correct her for it later. They are definitely cuddling here. Like beyond what’s normal with a mom/daughter. Oh well.

LA plan to “fix her leg” sounds do-able. Honestly not sure who would have been able to feed the ghouls while she’s gone. Alana gonna be with her, but the idea of flying back and forth every two weeks was not appealing. Reg probably coming too. Just have to figure out Rusty I guess. Pete prob would have fed Diana if Celia had cut a deal with him, and he’s really the only one she trusts enough to ask. Notice how Celia avoids telling her mom that he’s a vampire even though she 100% wants to. Not sure how she’s going to sway the whole “I’m not connected to Celia” thing if Jade disappears at the same as Celia. Ah well.

Delta Medical Systems actually sounds really cool. Definitely something I could see Celia wanting to get further into that from what you told me about them.

Looking forward to LA. :)

Story Thirteen, Celia XXI
False_Epiphany False_Epiphany

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