“Easy to think of what might have been, what could have been, how we could have changed things.”
Thursday night, 10 March 2016, AM
GM: Ayame’s phone rings. The caller ID isn’t familiar to her.
Ayame: Ayame jumps at the noise. She has been deeply involved in the outlining and planning of her next novel, and the chime of her phone has pulled her from the pages upon pages spread out in from of her, ink-stained fingers clutching a black ball-point pen.
She doesn’t often give her number out, and for a moment she looks in suspicion at her phone. Her mother had once said “no good news comes at night,” and even now, despite her undead status, she hasn’t been able to shake the thought.
She doesn’t have the number saved, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. She doesn’t save most numbers. Safer that way. Still, she’s wary as she answers.
GM: “Hi, Ayame. This is Roderick,” sounds a male voice.
“I had some business I wanted to discuss with you. When would be a good time for us to talk in person?”
When are other licks good news?
Might be her mom was righter than she knew.
Ayame: “Hello, Roderick.” Now there’s a surprise.
Her eyes slide toward the clock on the wall. It’s late, but not so late that she can’t squeeze him in if she wants to. Does she want to, though? He’s been cool to her since that night five years ago when she’d pulled Max from the circle.
“I am in the middle of a project at the moment…” She glances down at the leather notebook open in front of her, her slanted, cramped writing scrawled across the page. A reference journal or completed manuscript of some sort, as no longer does it contain blank space in which to write. A slew of highlighters in various colors sit perpendicular to the edge of her desk.
“But I can be free in an hour or so, if it is urgent.”
Always make them wait, that was another rule from Mom.
GM: “Okay. How’s our club’s usual meet spot?”
Cypress Grove. The Anarchs didn’t stop using it.
Ayame: “Certainly. I will see you there.”
Must be urgent, then. Or he simply enjoys the privileged position of primogen’s childe and is used to getting his way immediately. She doesn’t let her attitude color her voice, though, simply wishes him a good evening and hangs up. She’ll need a moment to get dressed, she supposes, and with a sigh sets aside her notebook. Her outline can wait.
GM: An hour later, she’s there at the cemetery. The rows and rows of mausoleums stretch on for as far as the eye can see. It feels like an appropriate enough place for a massacre to have occurred. Or at least like it’s been despoiled less.
Roderick’s there in an overcoat, with an umbrella in one hand to ward off the steadily pattering rain.
Ayame: An hour later, to the minute, Ayame strolls into the cemetery. She’s dressed for the weather, with black boots that rise to her knees and a raincoat on over a dark hoodie and jeans. She, too, has brought an umbrella with her, and it keeps off the worst of the almost-spring rain as she traverses the ground towards where Roderick waits for her.
Apprehension gnaws at her. Not only for the lick waiting, but for the chosen location as well. She had never said anything to any of the Anarchs about how she feels for this place, but she wonders if he can guess. If he knows about the shame that she has carried with her since that night in 2011 when she all but bowed before the sheriff and his retinue of executioners. If that is why he chose such a location for their impromptu meeting.
She says none of this as she approaches the dark figure in his suit, stopping some feet away to look him over. She cannot help the glance she makes past him with stormy-gray eyes, as if searching for his co-conspirators.
GM: None are immediately apparent to the novelist’s sight.
But the thick rain and fog hides what the darkness alone can’t.
The seemingly lone Brujah nods as he sees her.
“Glad you could make it.”
Ayame: “You implied it was urgent.”
GM: “I did.” He looks around at the walled structures where there’d normally be gravestones. “I feel bad for my part in what happened here.”
“I’d been one of the licks to suggest Cypress Grove instead of Delgado, for where to meet.”
“Dunno how much of a difference it would’ve made in the end, but it might’ve been harder for the Sanctified to surround us there.”
Ayame: “Perhaps,” she says neutrally. “Though perhaps they would have simply brought more with them. It did not seem as if they happened upon us by chance; I have no doubt that they would have adapted to the locale.” She pauses briefly, considering her words.
“For what it is worth, I do not think that anyone blames you for what happened.”
Not like they do her.
Her mouth twists, bitterness hardening her features.
GM: “You’re probably right, on both those counts. But it’s natural to think about what we could’ve done differently, and to blame ourselves.”
“For what it’s worth, I don’t think as many licks might blame you as you think, either.”
Ayame: She doesn’t know what to say to that. Of course they blame her.
“I folded. I was the first. It would have been different had I not been concerned about the threat posed by the sheriff, the scourge, and that… harpy.”
GM: “Veronica and Pietro had made up their minds to stake Max and Jonah. They were heading behind Sanctified lines whether you folded or not. They already had.”
“And once they did, with all the ringleaders staked, everyone else would’ve folded too.”
Ayame: “I should have removed the stake. I made a mistake, thinking that to pull Maxzille to safety was the right call. I did not wish to see her perish for a technicality.”
“But I thank you, regardless.”
GM: “I think if you hadn’t, there might’ve been bloodshed. A lot of Anarchs might have died.”
“Or at least Max might’ve.”
Ayame: He would have been safe, dragged behind enemy lines as he was. His Blood protects him, unlike the rest of them. But she doesn’t say this. She inclines her head, acknowledging the acknowledgement.
“Perhaps,” she allows. “If it came to an all-out brawl, I have no doubt many would have perished. On both sides. It would not have been a decisive victory for the Sanctified.”
She has spent many a long night thinking about it. She cannot help but sweep her gaze past him once more, toward the spot where it happened. Their kind do not leave physical remains behind, but she will always remember the screams of those who died.
“All the same, I regret my part in it. I have no wish to see our duskborn cousins slaughtered.”
“I think, sometimes, what would have happened had I been quicker to shove you aside when he came for you as well, and how that might have ended for us all.”
GM: “The sheriff?” Roderick gives a wan smile. “I don’t know if you could’ve stopped him. I’d definitely lose in a one-on-one.”
Ayame: “Stop him?” She shakes her head. “No. But should he have missed his mark, taken down the wrong lick?” Her shoulders lift, hands spreading wide.
“As you say, easy to think of what might have been, what could have been, how we could have changed things. The butterfly effect, as it were.”
GM: “True. Just denying him a quick win and the psychological impact there might’ve been enough.”
“But there’s other licks who could’ve tried to do something and didn’t. Pietro’s pretty damn fast, too.”
Ayame: “I believe, as you said, they made up their mind already as to which side they were on. Even when they spoke they said nothing of merit.”
GM: “And they barely spoke at all.”
“Veronica could’ve ran that rant, if she’d wanted to. She sure was able to whip a bunch of Anarchs into doing something when she decided Savoy was the horse to back.”
Ayame: “She does what she believes is best for her. As do most of them.” The corners of her lips lift in a wry, sad smile. “Though given the allegations leveled against the one she thought to harm her childe… well, they were simply heinous. It is no wonder she could not support someone who denied such accusations. Would yours have done the same, do you think?”
GM: “That’s a hard question, in some ways.” Roderick smiles faintly. “If I say yes, it’s admitting Veronica was right to do what she did, and the only thing that makes the situation different is who rather than what.”
Ayame: The corners of her eyes crinkle, and though the motion does not reach her lips it is, possibly, the closest anyone has seen her threaten to smile in some time.
“Your profession keeps your words neutral. Not so easily trapped, I see.”
GM: The Brujah still smiles back.
“My profession and my bloodline. But maybe the trap here isn’t so dangerous. You stuck with us instead of jumping ship to Savoy.”
Ayame: “Was it your bloodline that made you do the same?”
GM: He shakes his head. “I’m my own man, or at least Kindred. But I’ll grant that a lot of people with my advantages say similar things.”
Ayame: “Privilege. It is a catchy term among the kine these days. They speak of white or male… but you have that and more.” Her head tilts to one side beneath the cowl of her hood, eyeing him sharply.
“How easy it must make things on both sides of the fence. We say we do not care about such things, and yet look at those who run the First Estate. A drop of black or yellow in your white and you are ruined.”
GM: “I remember a couple Anarchs yelling at you for being Chinese. Sorry. It probably feels isolating to be the only Asian face in a crowd.”
Ayame: “I am Korean.”
GM: “Sorry again. I guess I shouldn’t have expected them to have any idea what they were talking about.”
Ayame: “At least,” she muses, “you did not ask me if I am from the ‘good’ Korea or the ‘bad’ Korea.”
GM: “I’d be pretty surprised to meet anyone from the latter.”
“Though I wouldn’t say it’s bad so much as its government is.”
Ayame: “Too often individuals are confused for their governments or rulers.” Another shrug. “I have long since stopped being surprised at the things that come out of the mouths of other people.”
GM: “Not a bad attitude to have in unlife.” A pause. “Do you know if it’s true what they say about our kind in North Korea?”
Ayame: “The Kuei-jin?”
GM: He shakes his head.
“I read about it over SchreckNet. Actually saved the post, because it was pretty interesting.”
He digs out his phone and scrolls through it before reading,
“‘Listen, boss, you don’t actually want to know about North Korea. You think you do because you are certain we’re the top of the food chain. You think that if you go there, you’ll find out it’s all under the command of some secret cabal of Brujah zealots or Ventrue dictators. Is it Sabbat territory or maybe the Kuei-jin (or Wan Kuei—whatever). After all, it’s a place under the absolute oppression of a tyrannical minority and that means someone must be pulling the strings, right? You don’t want to go to North Korea because you’ll be the only supernatural there.’”
“‘Now, this is a bit of hyperbole. There’s probably a few there. A Nosferatu or two in the sewers picking off random citizens, a werething or two living in the woods, or maybe a scavenger or two around the gulags. However, there is a much nastier creature than us ruling over the people in this nation: humans.’”
“‘From the Korean War to the present, the vampires of the country had their followers purged and their herds removed. The mages were crushed under the weight of a system that did its utmost to destroy their dreams. If I believed in fairies, I imagine they all died out too. Lupines don’t seem to be anywhere, even though the place should be paradise for them—rural countryside that’s pitch dark when you view it from space. The Kuei-jin, who the fuck knows why they aren’t there, maybe it has shitty feng shui. It is one of the most spiritually dead places on the planet and barely hanging on for a thousand little things that make it an uncomfortable place for just about all of us.’”
“‘Mind you, this doesn’t mean they don’t believe, boss. The North Korean military did have some people in the know long ago and they have all the books, names, and faces. They already think all enemies are horrible monsters so no harm in burning down an entire building to get just one of us when they see it. Not much even an elder can do when the response to one rousing an army of starving peasants is to just bomb it to the ground. Hehe, I bet that’s what happened to the Lupines too. The North Koreans have accomplished what the rest of the world only dreams and wiped out all supernaturals—yay humanity. This is what it looks like without us.’”
Ayame: Ayame listens as he reads the text from his phone, though after a moment she draws near enough to stand beside him so she can see the text over his shoulder as he scrolls. She shakes her head when he finishes.
“I cannot say. I have not visited back home since my Embrace, and the family that I still have in the area is not apprised of my undead status here. While I admit to curiosity, I can hardly call them and ask. Further, they live in South Korea. It is not a simple border hop to get into such a place.”
She pauses, rereading a line or two. “If travel were not so dangerous I might even wish to see for myself, though I have no doubt it would be a foolhardy and perilous undertaking.”
GM: “President Benson called the DMZ the scariest place he’d ever been. It’d be easier to get in through China, but I’m not in any hurry to do that either.”
“I don’t know if any of that post is even true. But it feels like it could be true.”
“Humans can be monsters just as awful as any of us.”
Ayame: “We are created from them. As much as we would like to blame the Beast inside of all of us for all of our less than ideal ways, as much as we seek to shed the lives we left behind, it stands to reason that some of it crosses over when we do. And should they be among those who are not turned, well, monsters have a way of manifesting. Even prey will eventually snap when cornered.”
“Perhaps their scales are smaller, their existences briefer, but their cruelty can be just as heinous as any of ours.”
GM: “Someone should write about that,” the Brujah remarks.
Ayame: Her brows lift.
“Have you read my books?”
GM: He shakes his head. “I’m more of a non-fiction guy. But I’ve heard about them.”
Ayame: “Good things?”
GM: “Yeah. I tend to agree with Stephen King that if you’ve been paid for your words and the check didn’t bounce, you have talent.”
Ayame: It’s not a ringing endorsement, but a smile finally cracks the Toreador’s face. It transforms the usually austere lick’s visage into something striking, much warmer than the cool exterior she often presents to her kind. The expression is brief, disappearing as quickly as it came.
“Should you ever find a spare moment to indulge, I hope you will let me know what you think. Or perhaps, if time permits, you will allow me to pick your brain as to the monsters you have seen. I find the best fiction has some element of truth to it.”
GM: Roderick smiles back when he sees Ayame do so. The expression looks like it comes easier for him, but it’s no less warm.
“You should smile more often. It looks good on you.”
“But as far as monsters, feel free. I’m a lawyer. You can see some pretty horrible and desperate people in that industry.”
Ayame: Ayame wonders if he realizes the inherent sexism in the comment of being told to smile more. If anyone ever asks him to smile more. Perhaps he does not realize it. Or perhaps he offering the sort of back-handed compliment that is so intrinsic to their kind. Golden boy like him, though, she thinks it might just be simple ignorance. Maybe smiling does look good on her. She tucks it away for further consideration.
“I have heard family law sees the worst of it, people at their most desperate and petty, though I imagine criminal law has its fair share of monsters.”
“I have a relative who is a nurse. She could not give the details of the cases, but she was called in to consult on multiple trials where they needed a medical perspective. Negligence, some of them, and others… others more willful action.”
“There was a woman who came into her emergency department almost every month. Broken bones. Black eyes. Broken fingers. My relative—she took good documentation. Wrote it all down. Made sure to keep her records. Some call her a pack rat, but those records were needed when the woman was arrested for manslaughter. Apparently her husband came at her and she tried to fend him off. She happened to be cooking dinner, had a paring knife in her hand. When she stabbed him, she struck his heart, and so he died. The officers put her in cuffs, but all of the nurses, all of the doctors that she had seen, they testified that she underwent years of abuse at his hands, that she was a victim.”
GM: Roderick shakes his head.
“I’ve seen some really ugly cases of domestic abuse. Knife to the heart was probably a lot cleaner than that asshole deserved. He had to have died pretty fast, not like years of living in pain and terror. Visiting the hospital in and out like a grocery store.”
Ayame: “As I said, their scale as breathers may be smaller, but their crimes are no less than our own. When we kill it is often quick and effective, and sometimes—sometimes they do not even know that death comes for them. But those who abuse their spouses, their children, their renfields… that shadows them for their entire lives, however long they are. It spreads, like a cancer, infecting everyone around them.”
GM: “I knew a family, once, whose father was just a demon. He physically and emotionally abused his wife and daughters for years. They only finally split when he tried to amputate his wife’s leg with a saw.”
“It just poisoned their entire family.”
Ayame: “That sounds… awful. Awful for them, for his wife, for his daughters. I hope they have found peace.”
“And that his children did not go on to become abusers themselves.”
GM: “That’s a… complicated answer. I guess I’d say they found varying levels of peace. Some more than others. Some as much as you could realistically hope for. But they all had scars.”
“It could’ve ended a lot worse than it did, though.”
Ayame: “The Sanctified would say it is our job to remove such a demon and see to it that his family is taken care of. We are not Sanctified, but sometimes… sometimes it is nice to see the bad people pay.”
GM: “The Sanctified buy into a lot of dogma that makes fundamentalists look reasonable, but they get things right too. Some of the covenant’s more liberal creeds have a lot of ideas that Anarchs here could probably get on board with.”
Ayame: “You sound as if you were close to the family. I hope it was not your own, that it is not your own scars you speak of.”
GM: He shakes his head. “I was involved in some legal work for them. You get to see a lot of the ugly details of people’s lives as a lawyer.”
“It got to me pretty hard, though I suppose not as much as what that asshole did to his family. He never faced any real consequence for it.”
“Sometimes the bad guys win. But I guess that’s the tagline of the Requiem.”
Ayame: “Against the kine?” She gives him a puzzled look. “Perhaps. There is often more that we can do now, though your status as lawyer possibly keeps you neutral.”
“Not,” she adds, “that I am suggesting we simply slaughter those with whom we do not agree.”
GM: “Less agreeing, maybe, than passing judgment over. But he’s not the only scumbag I can name from my breather days. I’d frankly be up to my knees in blood if I wanted to kill them all. And at that point I’m a serial killer vigilante, not a lawyer.”
“The family members he’d abused most got away from him. That’s a happier ending than a lot of people get, even if it isn’t perfect.”
Ayame: “Is there a difference? I thought lawyers were all cutthroats.” She doesn’t smile, though her lips twitch to suggest amusement, then flatten again at his words.
“Ah. Well. Good that they got away, at least.”
“And good on you for assisting with their legal battle. I am sure it meant a lot to them, to have someone of your caliber represent their interests.”
GM: “Thanks. I was pretty upset at the time that I couldn’t do more, but like I said. Happier ending than a lot of people get.”
“Good on your relative, too, documenting all that abuse. Keeping thorough records never hurts and sometimes really helps.”
Ayame: “Sometimes I think I chose the wrong profession.” A rueful twist of her lips accompanies the words. “Admirable, to be out there in the field, be it legal or medical.”
GM: “I think you might’ve chosen the right one, actually. Harder to be a lawyer or nurse as a lick, but I imagine it’s not too difficult as a writer.”
Ayame: “Nothing but time to pen my novels.”
“Though I suppose,” she says at length, “you did not invite me here this evening to speak of professions and monsters.”
“Or scars,” she adds, and perhaps he sees the way her fingers curl inside the gloves she wears, her grip on the umbrella’s handle tightening. The other, at her side, forms a fist before it relaxes.
GM: “You’re right that I didn’t. But I also did.”
GM: “We haven’t really talked a lot, and I wasn’t sure how you felt over the massacre here.”
“There’s a duskborn I know who needs transport out of the city. I was thinking Houston would be a good stop. No prince enforcing a pogrom. Big city with room for duskborn and nightborn.”
Ayame: Ayame is silent for a long moment, considering him. This is why he brought her here, then. This place. The sight of the massacre. To guilt her? Trick her? Avoided her for years because he thought she, what, sold out the thin-bloods? When she speaks at last her voice is cooler than it was moments ago.
“Next to yours, you know, my voice was one of the strongest pushing for their rights.”
GM: “You’re right, it was. But you never know. Some licks were spreading a rumor that I’d tipped off the Sanctified in advance about the duskborn coming to the meeting.”
“In hindsight, it was probably Veronica. Who tipped them off and started the rumor.”
Ayame: “You were put down by the sheriff and immediately taken behind their lines to safety, of course she thought you were an apt target. For whatever it means now, neither she nor her cousin seemed much surprised to see them show up.”
GM: “That’s just how it is, anyway. It’s so hard to trust anyone.”
Ayame: Easy to point out the favor he’s asking of her will require trust, as well, but if this is an olive branch… well, she could stand to make a few more friends among her peers.
“Happy to pass your test, then.” A pause. “I can contact my friends in Houston.”
GM: “I’ll owe you one, of course. What licks do you know there?”
Ayame: “A fair few. I was part of their organization for a number of years.” She fires off a handful of Hispanic-sounding names. “Is it just the one to transport?”
GM: “I might also come along. Coco has some business with the Anarchs there and now would be a convenient time to do it. I won’t be staying, obviously.”
Ayame: “Both of you, or just you?”
GM: “Who won’t be staying? I’m coming back. She’ll stay. I don’t need to say this is a bad city for duskborn.”
Ayame: “Oh, I meant if Coco is coming along, and I wondered why you would need me to transport a primogen, but I assume that is not the case.”
“I will need some time to contact my friends.”
“A few evenings, perhaps. You know what it is like when they pretend to be busy.” She waves a hand. “Or perhaps not,” she adds, eying him. Primogen’s childe, status among the Anarchs, Calbido scribe; how long does he really wait?
GM: He shakes his head at Ayame’s initial statement. “She’s staying in the city. This is more routine stuff I’m handling for her.”
“It’s not that different from among breathers, to be honest. You want to meet with a mayor or city councilperson, you usually have to contact their staff and let them fit you into the boss’ schedule. But a fair number of licks from less privileged backgrounds never had to go through that, and get surprised when they can’t just talk to elders whenever they want.”
“I do usually wait less time than licks with less prominent sires, so there is that.”
Ayame: “Lucky you.”
“The advantage of being a nobody is that I do not often have business with elders.” Amusement crinkles the corners of her eyes. “I will reach out to my contacts within Houston.”
GM: “All swords are double-edged,” he agrees. Partly seriously. “Thanks. I’ll be bringing a couple renfields with me too. Greater safety in numbers and all.”
Ayame: “Ah. Yes. A good idea.” There’s an awkward pause, perhaps where she should offer to do the same, and at last she says, “I do not keep slaves. I cannot contribute that way.”
GM: “Oh?” he asks. “Is it an ethical objection?”
Ayame: “Have you been a slave, Roderick? Bound to someone for whom you would do anything? Told to do vile things for their amusement, and you jump at the chance?”
GM: He shakes his head. “I was a renfield to Coco, for a little while before my Embrace, though she didn’t collar me.”
“It sounds like you were.”
Ayame: “Then you are lucky. I spent years as a slave to a domitor who thought it would be funny to find my point of limit and push me past it. Repeatedly. Who, for a small slight, would have me beaten and humiliated.”
“You do not strike me as the type of person to kill or torture for pleasure. And yet there are those who do. Those who think it funny to find a person’s limits and push them beyond that. To spread the corruption inside of them to everyone around them. To twist and rend innocence until it is an ugly, wretched thing. And so he did with me.”
GM: “I’m sorry you had to go through that. Some licks are pointlessly, stupidly sadistic and cruel, and it’s usually their renfields who experience the worst of it.”
Ayame: “My sire killed him for it. In the instant before the collar snapped I thought to throw myself in front of his blade, to keep him from harming the lick I had served for years. My own life for his, I would have paid that. She did not collar you, so maybe you do not understand that sort of obsession.”
GM: “I probably don’t. I’ve heard the accounts, but it has to be something else to experience them firsthand.”
Ayame: “I told myself I would never do that to another person. Our blood—it is good for a great many things. But the collar? No. Never again.”
GM: “I think it’s possible to be decent to your renfields. But I respect anyone who’s willing to put their principles before convenience.”
Ayame: “Would yours say that you are decent to them?”
GM: “I hope so. I try to be.”
Ayame: “And yet you took them from their lives and families. Keep them addicted to a substance worse than heroin. There is no retirement for a renfield; they serve until their life ends. The most that they can hope for is a quick death, perhaps Embrace.”
“I understand why we do it. But I will not. They are the first to pay should their master make a mistake.”
“So yes, to answer your question, I believe that falls under ethical or moral objection.”
GM: “I think you can make similar arguments about Embracing childer. At least a renfield’s addiction doesn’t directly risk killing anyone.”
Ayame: “I have heard of those who died on an overdose.”
“But you are correct. There are many who have moral objections to siring a childe as well. I do not know that I will ever be moved to do so.”
“We are are still young. We have eternity, as they say.”
GM: “I’ve heard of renfields who OD too. I don’t know any domitor that generous with their juice, though. I think it only really happens with rogues who drain a staked lick completely dry.”
“But you wouldn’t be the only Kindred happy to go childe-free.”
Ayame: “The kine do it as well. DINK, they call themselves. Double income no kids. Enjoy their vacations and early retirements.” The flash of a smile. Hadn’t he told her to smile more? “No retirement for us, though.”
GM: He smiles back. “I’ve heard of that. Maybe it’s right for them. I always wanted kids, though. Whole gaggle of them.”
Ayame: A beat of silence. Ayame inclines her head, almost a short bow that sends her hair swinging in front of her face.
“It is unfortunate that you are no longer in the position to do so. Sometimes, as former women, we think that we are the only ones who want such things, never observing that we are only half of what makes a child.”
“I am sorry that it is no longer an option to you.”
GM: He nods. “Thanks. There’s not a lot to be done about that, but I’ve enjoyed getting to know you tonight, Ayame.”
Ayame: “You as well, Roderick. I will let you know when I hear back from my contacts in Houston.”
GM: “You mentioned you were Korean, by the way? ‘Ayame’ sounds Japanese, though I’m no expert.”
Ayame: Ayame laughs, covering her mouth with one gloved hand. It’s a light, delicate sound, and it gives her face the allure that she should have had all along. If only she were to smile more, right?
“I am Korean, and it is Japanese. I am surprised you know the difference; most people assume that one Asian language or heritage is much the same as another. Perhaps I should take back my words about white privilege.” After laughing, her mouth more easily curls into a wry smile.
“But yes, I was named for my grandmother, after a sort. It is not common in Korea for families to name their children after relatives as they do here; they believe that each name should be unique to the child. My father was very taken with American society when he moved here and wanted to name me after his mother, Ailiseu, but my mother desired a more traditional naming convention. They compromised and took a word from another language that had the same meaning. Thus, Ayame.”
“When I still drew breath I dated a man of Japanese heritage, who asked me the same question. He used to tease me that I grew up with the wrong culture because of my name, or that I had been stolen from a nice Japanese family as a child. My parents were distraught that I was interested in him; they had hoped that I would settle down with a nice Korean boy, or a nice American boy.”
She gestures down to herself, fangs flashing in her mouth as she looks to him.
“As you see, it does not much matter in the end.”
“I suppose, though, it is better than what my brother did.”
GM: “It may have mattered, at least so far as your name. Ayame sounds nicer than Ailiseu to my white boy ears.” He smiles. “What did your brother do?”
Ayame: “Gave himself an American name because he did not like what my parents gave him. ‘Brock.’ A bastardized version of what his name means.” She doesn’t point out that his white boy tongue butchered her grandmother’s name.
“He wants nothing to do with the culture.”
“It is… or, well, it was, at least, a point of contention between them.”
“But I believe the fate of middle children is to be a nuisance to their parents.”
GM: “Better to have them in ones, twos, or four-pluses. That’s too bad for him though. We can all use something to belong to.”
“Anyway, we both probably need to get going. You have my number once you hear from your friends.”
Ayame: “Of course. I will be in touch, Roderick. Enjoy the rest of your evening.”