“You’re a sight for sore eyes.”
Saturday night, 12 March 2016, AM
GM: After the time Celia’s spent with Dani, 4 AM is soon approaching. She has time to change back into her dress for Roderick, if she wants to. Dani asks what she’s dressing up for and where she’s going, but doesn’t raise any objections. “Only one bed in here, anyways.”
She asks, again, where she can go in the Quarter and the larger city, and if she can go more places during the day, when other vampires won’t be around.
“I’m so glad I found you, Celia. I really, really am,” she exclaims, giving her brother’s girlfriend a last hug. “I’m sorry how things turned out with Stephen, but… I think he’d understand, if he knew. And be happy that he was able to help your family.”
Celia: Celia clarifies the rules about the Quarter and the territory for her. She says that she doesn’t think it’s a good idea to risk anything during the day, since ghouls are out and about. Not yet. Maybe once Celia finds out a few things for her. She gets Dani’s address and keys so she can visit the house in Riverbend and retrieve her belongings, though she doesn’t promise it’ll be soon.
And she reminds Dani that it’s secret: Celia isn’t a vampire (even to other vampires, don’t tell even them, maybe especially them), vampires aren’t real, be careful not to be seen feeding. Take them into the bathroom rather than doing it in the middle of the club, that kind of thing. Also that she won’t be available during the day, but if she needs something to text and Celia will get back to her when she wakes up. She mentions that she’s free on Sunday or Monday for dinner if her dad wants to come to the Quarter. They can go out or Celia can host him here.
Celia hugs Dani close once her dress is back on, saying the same thing.
“I’m happy we found each other too, Dani. We’ll figure this all out together and make a plan. And… I think he’d understand too. Thanks for saying that. It means a lot.”
A few final goodbyes and Celia heads out to meet with Roderick. She has so much to tell him.
GM: Dani doesn’t look happy to limit her movements so much, but says she can do that for now as she passes off her keys and address. “I do still need to attend class, though… law school has attendance requirements.”
She says she’ll be careful hunting. She’ll call her dad and see what works for the D.A.
A drizzle starts outside outside. Dani looks around for an umbrella, so as not to ruin Celia’s pretty dress. The Toreador finds her haven much as it was when she returns at 4 AM.
Saturday night, 12 March 2016, AM
GM: Roderick arrives soon thereafter. Her lover looks glum and tired, but smiles when he sees her.
“You’re a sight for sore eyes.”
He hangs up his coat, then scoops her up in his arms.
“What I said earlier. You’re not allowed to walk, in here. You’re too pretty to.”
Celia: She wants to know what it is that has him looking so glum, but she doesn’t want to ruin the mood. She’d almost expected him to fail to show, or to show up angry and berate her for letting someone else touch her, or say something rude about being able to fight his own battles. But there’s none of that, and the fight she’d been prepping for, the tightness in her shoulders, it all disappears as soon as he pulls her into his arms.
Her lips find his immediately, settling into his embrace with a little giggle.
“Is it silly that I missed you all night?”
GM: “No. It isn’t silly at all.” His answering kiss isn’t passionate, but it’s definitely… needful. He gives her a tired smile.
“Let’s get you onto the counter, it’s hard to molest my present when she’s in my arms like this.”
Celia: She can agree to that.
GM: Roderick carries her to the kitchen counter and sets her down, even placing her feet in the sink. His lips trace her cheek, her neck, and then her breasts as his hands appreciatively trace her her hips and rump. He finally lays his head against her chest for a long moment.
Celia: Celia pulls him close, stroking her hands across his chest and shoulders, then around the back of his neck and head. She cradles his face against her chest.
“Talk to me. What happened?”
GM: “Just a lot of… bullshit in Elysium.”
Celia: “Oh, did I miss something after I left?”
GM: He lays his head contently against her.
“The story. With the hunters.”
Celia: Celia doesn’t wince, but she wants to.
GM: “They wanted the details. All the details. Everything I could remember.”
“Guess the topic was a real hit.”
Celia: “Bet it made you look like a badass, though.”
GM: “I’m not proud of what I did there. I felt sick, boasting about it.”
Celia: She should have realized. Should have used something else. Anything else.
GM: “Chris congratulated me for losing my virginity.”
“That was a real hoot.”
Celia: Maybe the floor will swallow her.
GM: “Veronica and Adelais had a real time with it.”
Celia: “Were they cruel to you?” Sharpness in her voice that hadn’t been there a moment ago.
GM: “They’re cruel to everyone.”
“I guess this was mild, for them.”
GM: “Backhand barbs in all the compliments. I swear that only the harpies can make compliments still feel like put-downs, but like there’s nothing you can do except nod dumbly along.”
Celia: “You could dig back. Or divert their attention. They’re like dogs that see a squirrel. Chase after it.”
GM: “I guess,” he says heavily. “They just really liked the story with the hunters. I guess fuck hunters.”
“Coco… god. She drew it out.”
“The story. Brought everyone back to it, when other things started to come up.”
“So I had to just nod along, because, well, she’s my sire.”
Celia: Her lips purse.
“Why would she do that? She knows how you feel about it.”
GM: “Yeah. She still did. Asked a bunch of questions. Said a bunch of things. Just wouldn’t let the topic drop.”
Celia: “I thought she was better than the others, but the more you tell me about her the less I think that.”
“At least Veronica is upfront about being a bitch.”
GM: “She is better,” Roderick says defensively. “I’d rather have her than Veronica, I know that.”
Celia: Celia sighs.
GM: “She didn’t put me down or try to make me look stupid. Just… wouldn’t let it drop.”
Celia: “Was she fishing for details? To find out if you’d really been alone?”
GM: “I already told her all the details, before tonight.”
Celia: “Then why?”
GM: “That’s what I asked her, afterwards.”
“Well, ‘asked.’ More like yelled. We got into it.”
“She said she was looking out for me, that it raised my standing for Elysium to hear I’d killed those hunters. That it did, indeed, make me look like a badass, and other Kindred would respect me more. Killing hunters is a socially contributive thing for good Camarilla licks to do.”
Celia: Gee, Celia should show off her kill count then.
GM: “I told her how I wasn’t proud of it. That the whole thing made me sick.”
Celia: Tell them all how she made them kill themselves while she’d been cuffed.
Doesn’t sound like Coco cares much about what her childe wants. But Celia knows better than to say that.
GM: “There’s a quote from Foundation that I like. Sci-fi book I read a while ago, if you haven’t. ‘Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.’”
He shared it with her once as a mortal, too. Back in college.
Celia: “Did you say that to her, too?”
Celia: “How did that go over?”
GM: “She took it pretty calmly. Said she agreed, herself, but that Elysium doesn’t see it that way. That they hadn’t mastered their instincts and just liked to hear stories about how blood flowed, beyond the hunter aspect.”
“She said how violence is entertainment. That it’s only incompetent if you’re trying to achieve something that can be achieved without violence. But violence is the entire point, for some Kindred. There isn’t an alternative. The quote doesn’t apply.”
Celia: “Mmm.” A noncommittal sound at that.
GM: “You don’t agree?”
Celia: “I know better than to debate with you and Coco.”
“I just think that she could have let the talk fade. Bringing it back up looks… well. Like she’s reaching.”
It looks bad.
GM: “Without debate, the mind stagnates. It’s a fitness regimen for your brain.”
Celia: Of course they are.
Celia smiles politely.
GM: “She didn’t look reaching. She was… subtle. Just a word here or there, giving me extra spotlight. She let it drop after enough, but it would’ve dropped sooner without her.”
“Perks of having a primogen sire, I guess. More time in the limelight.”
Celia: Elder’s pet.
He’d be hunter chow if not for her.
GM: “I still yelled at her over how I wasn’t proud of that and didn’t want credit for it.”
Celia: And Coco didn’t care, she bets.
GM: “She said I needed standing and respect if I wanted to make a difference in Kindred society, and this was another stepping stone. She said they were already dead, so it’s not like I was hurting anyone.”
Celia: “…you don’t… you don’t think she…”
GM: “Think she what?”
Celia: “Nothing,” Celia murmurs. “I don’t even want to suggest it.”
GM: He looks up from her chest. “What?”
Celia: “How many people know about your haven?”
GM: “Her. My krewe. You, i…”
His mouth drops. “You are NOT saying…!”
Celia: Celia hadn’t said anything.
She’d just asked a question.
GM: “No! She wouldn’t do that! How can you even say that!?”
“She’s not just another elder like you keep making her out!”
Celia: “Roderick. Stop. I didn’t say that. I asked a question. I didn’t mean to imply anything. I’m trying to figure out who has it out for you because you could have died. I love you. I don’t want anything to happen to you.”
Makes sense though, doesn’t it? Knows her childe can fend for himself. That his ghouls will help.
GM: “Why would my sire have it out for me,” he grumbles. “She wanted to ash me, she could do that with her own hands, easy.”
Celia: “Do you want to have a calm discussion about this?”
GM: “I am calm.”
Celia: “It’s not to get rid of you. It’s to use the fact that you killed them to your and her advantage. You look good. She looks good.”
GM: “She’s the one who taught me to fight. There’s no way I could take her i…”
Celia: “She knew you could handle it.”
GM: Roderick doesn’t say anything to that for a moment.
“She knew I was a virgin. That I didn’t want to kill.”
Celia: Celia stays quiet with him, her fingers moving slowly across the back of his neck.
What had he said about Coco? That when push comes to shove she’s still another elder. Life is cheap.
Maybe she’d been embarrassed by her virgin childe. Or maybe she’s playing a different game. Maybe he’s just the first childe to be thrown to the Inquisition.
“Maybe she didn’t expect you to kill them,” Celia finally offers. “And maybe if you hadn’t been worried about me you wouldn’t have.”
GM: “Don’t blame yourself for this,” Roderick says, shaking his head. “They attacked me, in my home, with lethal force. I’d have tried to take them alive, but I could’ve easily lost control. You know how I do that. How all my clan does that. Provoking a Brujah is not a smart thing to do if you don’t want someone getting seriously hurt.”
Celia: She’s been on the receiving end of those fists. She knows how true that is.
She shivers at the memory, but holds her tongue.
Doesn’t remind him what he did to her.
GM: Roderick effects a sigh and pulls her close again, rubbing his head against hers.
“I’m just glad I can come back to you, at the end of the night. My sweet and kind and dolled up present who’s too pretty to walk.”
Celia: Is that all she is?
She doesn’t put the thought into words.
“I like coming home to you. Knowing that you’ll be here.” Celia touches the side of his face. Her thumb traces across his lower lip. “I’m happy with you. Safe.”
GM: He smiles back.
“I am too. I feel safe with you.”
Celia: “Because I’m so tough?”
GM: He laughs. “Tough comes in a lot of flavors. But also safe because I can be who I really am, around you.”
Celia: Wouldn’t that be nice. To have someone she can be herself with.
Who is she with Roderick? She doesn’t even know anymore.
“I’ll always be here for you. I don’t care what happens in the rest of the world or city. This, here?” Celia touches his chest. “This is home.”
GM: “This is home,” he murmurs, nuzzling her neck.
“Now, I promised I’d clean your shoes, didn’t I?”
Celia: “I recall you mentioning you’d worship me. With your mouth.”
GM: “Mmm, so I did. Do you still want me to clean your temple, or do you want to be worshiped, right away?”
Celia: “That depends. Am I allowed to tell everyone that I made you clean the soles of my shoes for me?”
“I’ll say we arm wrestled. And I won.”
GM: “Never. They’d all beg for the privilege too, once they realized that was allowed.”
“I’d have to fight them all, to keep them from your shoes.”
Celia: “I didn’t realize you had a thing for ladies’ shoes.”
Celia squints at him. “Do you still have my panties in your pocket?”
GM: He smirks and fishes them out.
“Put them back in just for this occasion.”
Celia: “A souvenir from your conquest. Worship away, loyal follower. I shall not dictate the terms of your service.”
GM: “All right then.” He picks her off the counter and slings her over his shoulder, ass in the air.
“I guess I’ll enjoy my conquest…”
Saturday evening, 12 March 2016, PM
GM: Enjoy it he does. Celia doesn’t feel his seed fill her womanhood, when she can tell how he hits his climax from the way he pumps faster. He goes limp, after that, but the lack of cum seems to have its advantages (beyond the diminished mess), because he’s hard again in no time at all. The lovers know pleasure in one another’s arms until the sun rises, and Roderick pulls Celia against his chest in familiar spooning position. They wake up after eight hours that pass in a second to their clothes still on. It’s not like the two corpses sweat or fart or smell or move in their sleep.
“Mmm,” he murmurs into her ear when she stirs. His arms still encircle her waist. “Someone’s up earlier.”
Celia: Good thing, too, because she’d meant to talk to him about a handful of things earlier and he’d distracted her with the promise of sex.
Her Beast yowls in her ear as soon as she wakes, making sure she knows that it, too, is hungry. That it doesn’t appreciate being ignored and not having its needs met while she fucks her lover. Where’s the blood, it demands.
Celia snuggles back against Roderick’s chest, ignoring it for a moment.
“I couldn’t let you shave my head,” she says seriously. “I have an important meeting today. Can’t look silly.”
She checks the time. Early. She doesn’t even need to rush to get ready to meet her father.
“What are you doing tonight?”
GM: “Haven-hunting, first. That meeting anything I can help with?”
Celia: “Just stay with me forever.”
GM: “That’s tempting. But it’s tempting fate to come into the Quarter every night, even this close to the border.”
Celia: “We’ll dig a tunnel.”
GM: “Mmm. Bad idea, in this city. Same reason we don’t have basements.” He gives her a squeeze. “You can come stay at my place, though. You’ll always be welcome there.”
Celia: “Probably shouldn’t be seen visiting you that much. Don’t need people talking.”
GM: “Turn into a cat. I’ll give you belly rubs inside my haven.”
“What would you want to be? If you could change.”
GM: “Oh, change what?”
Celia: “Your form. If you learned how to shift.”
GM: “Hmm. Interesting question.”
“Wolf is a classic. I’ve always liked dogs.”
Celia: “I could see that.”
GM: “There’s a lot to admire in wolves, too.”
Celia: “You’d be a corgi. Maybe a pomeranian.”
GM: “A corgi?”
Celia: “A little fluffy thing. I could put you in my purse.”
GM: “Ha. Haven’t heard of any licks turning into toy dogs.”
Celia: “That’s because they’re embarrassed.”
GM: “There’s worse places to spend your Requiem.”
“Though if I’m going to be something small, I’d rather be something small enough for you to stick between your bra…”
Celia: “Like a spider?” Celia makes a face.
GM: “Ew. I’ll pass.”
Celia: “Same. Don’t think I’d let one in my bra anyway.”
“They can’t hurt you, yada yada. Still gross.”
GM: “They are. Anyways, this meeting anything I could help with?”
Celia: “I don’t think so,” Celia says after a moment of consideration. “It’s with… um. It’s with my dad.”
GM: “Your dad,” he says slowly.
Celia: “When I called him the other day. We set it up. About Emily stabbing him. You fell asleep before I could tell you.”
“Which is a shame because I told Emily how good you were in bed. You missed it.”
GM: He gives a slight smile, subdued by obvious thoughts over Celia’s meeting with her father.
Celia: “I’m nervous,” she admits. “I don’t know what he wants.”
“I haven’t seen him since… you know. "
GM: “Yeah. So what do you want to get out of it?”
Celia: “I want him to leave my mom alone. I want to know what he did to Lucy when he drove her to school. I want to make sure he isn’t going to go running to his master about Emily stabbing him.”
GM: “Okay. Those are all good goals.”
“Do you think you can get him to?”
Celia: “I’m not sure,” she admits. “I don’t know why he’s suddenly acting nice. If the sheriff pulled his talons out of his head or what.”
“People don’t just change.”
GM: “I’d assume the worst with him. He made your and your mom’s lives living hells. He’s a scumbag rapist child abuser.”
Celia: “I know. It just doesn’t make sense. Why now. Why come after her now. I mean, Logan is the one who brought him over, but… it just… Logan told me that he misses us, that he’s proud of me, that he never remarried or anything. And my mom…” Celia shifts in his arms, looking up at him.
“She had a nightmare about falling. And Maxen taking Lucy away. And she did fall. And now I wonder if Maxen is going to come after Lucy.”
GM: “He thinks she’s your daughter, right? You’re positive?”
Celia: “Yes. But he was alone in the car with her. What if he took a hair or something?”
GM: “Hm. I was about to ask why he’d want to do a paternity test, but… you’ve not said who the father is. Maybe he somehow thinks it’s his business to know.”
Celia: “He could ask. And it’s no one’s business anyway. Lucy doesn’t need a dad. She has three moms.”
GM: “A male role model might not be bad. But I agree. Her needs seem like they’re being more than met.”
“And I know. He could, and it’s not his business, but he’s a sick and twisted fuck who doesn’t respect other people or their boundaries.”
Celia: “What do I do if he knows?”
GM: “Prepare for a custody fight.”
Celia: “My mom wants to get back with him. I don’t know if I told you. There’s been a lot going on.”
“But the other night she was talking about it. How she misses him. As if he didn’t take her leg off with a hacksaw. Or rape her. Or hurt the rest of us.”
“Jesus apparently wants her to forgive.”
GM: “Your mom’s a little nuts.”
GM: “I’m not sure what to do about that. But I guess meeting with him… well, I’m not about to say it can’t hurt, but the rewards sound worth having to let him back into your life, even a little. Just to find out what he’s after.”
Roderick squeezes her again. “You’re a badass lick now, though. He can’t hurt you.”
Celia: His friend in the shadows can, though. And probably will if he finds out about this.
“Right. Badass lick. I’ll beat him up.”
“I lied. I thought of something you can do to help.”
Celia: She doesn’t want to ask. It’s lazy of her. She could hurry and get ready and find a willing mortal somewhere along the way. But he’s right here.
Celia bites her lip. She glances away.
GM: He hugs her close again, shifting her position so his mouth is by her ear.
“I’m here. Name it.”
Celia: The breath on her ear sends shivers running down her spine.
“I don’t want to lose control around him. I mean. I do. But I can’t. And I’d rather spend what time I can with you instead of tracking down a vessel before I have to go choke down food.”
GM: He nods. “Okay. Let’s get a cup or something so I don’t collar you any tighter.”
Celia: “Smart.” Celia pulls away to find one. Luckily she’s got all those pots and pans she’d knocked over the other night; it takes a few seconds to find a cup.
GM: Roderick bites his wrist and bleeds into it.
“Just say when.”
Celia: She says when. The thing inside of her wants more, it always does. It’s a greedy little monster. But Celia doesn’t want to put him out any more than she needs to. He’s already doing her a favor; no need to drain him dry.
She watches the glass fill, can feel her fangs distend in her mouth. She’s patient enough to wait a moment longer before she reaches for the glass to drink down his offering.
GM: His blood is hot and filling and ferocious, like all Brujah blood, but sharpens and clarifies her thoughts too. It feels like a good libation before she sees her father.
Celia: She drains it. Licks the rim. Doesn’t let a bit of it go to waste. And when it’s gone she curls herself around his body, tucking her head against his chest, and thanks him for what he’s done for her.
“Do you really want us to get a place together?”
GM: He holds her close and runs his hand along the back of her head.
“Why not? We’d be safer, and I love spending time with you.”
Celia: “It’ll need a big closet. Really big. Whatever you’re thinking, triple it.”
GM: He laughs. “Okay. Walk-ins, got it.”
“Actually never had one of those.”
Celia: “You still won’t.” Her brows lift. Celia shares many things. Closet space is not one of them.
“What’s your krewe going to say when they find all those beautiful dresses in your place? Could tell them you’re exploring your feminine side.”
GM: He smirks. “Could also just tell them they’re my renfield’s. But I doubt they’ll see your closet.”
Celia: “Do you spoil Bess with clothes?”
GM: “Bess isn’t my renfield.”
Celia: “…did I get her name wrong?”
GM: “She’s the property manager at my old haven.”
Celia: “Oh. So the boy with the messy place is yours.”
Messy place. Her eyes dart around her still-destroyed haven.
GM: “Yeah, he’s one of them.”
“All right. We should get ready for our nights. I’m also going to reach out to Ayame, I still haven’t heard back from her.”
“Dani can’t stay in the Quarter.”
Celia: “She’s not safe anywhere else in the city. You think the sheriff is going to let her go back to her place in Riverbend?”
GM: “That’s why I’m getting her out.”
Celia: “She doesn’t want to leave, Roderick. She… your death broke your dad. That’s what she said to me last night. That he’s just a shell. That she’s a poor replacement for you, but she’s all he has.”
GM: “Wait, what? You spoke with her?” Roderick’s eyes widen.
Celia: “I told you I’d find her.”
GM: He frowns. “Why didn’t you tell me last night?”
Celia: “You were upset about Coco. And then we got distracted.”
GM: “All right. Tell me about her! Is she safe? Is she all right?”
Celia: “She’s safe. She’s all right. She was turned a week ago but she doesn’t remember by who. She thought she was the only one in the world, and she’s been looking for answers, but so far she hasn’t gotten anywhere. She’s…” Celia runs her hand through her hair. “She’s a thin-blood. Like for real. Didn’t have any idea about anything. I had to explain it all to her. She’s in law school, you know.”
“And she said your dad wishes she had died instead of you. That she’s… how did she put it, the O’Tolleys playground after being promised Disneyland. It was… bleak.”
GM: “Oh my… god…” Roderick whispers, taking all of that in.
“That’s not true, he loves her just as much as me!”
Celia: “That’s what I told her. We talked for a while about it.”
GM: Celia may think back to their own discussion about her mother’s favorite children in 2012.
How Roderick said all parents have favorites.
Celia: Parents are supposed to love the one that’s left, though.
“When we were dating, all those years ago, she said similar things to me.”
“It sounds like she’s always felt as if she were in your shadow.”
GM: “I’m the older sibling, by six years. And the one who was going to carry on the family legacy. I guess that was inevitable.”
Celia: “She wants to now. You should have seen her, Roderick, she scared off some guy who tried to rape a teenager. Talked about wanting to do good, change the world. It was like talking to you.”
“Just… a you with no confidence.”
GM: Roderick smiles at first, then stops.
“I’ll be honest… she’s a vampire now. And a thin-blood. That really closes a lot of doors.”
Celia: “She won’t do any better in Houston than she will here. Those doors will still be closed.”
GM: “Houston doesn’t have a policy of active genocide. It’s not going to be a good unlife for her, but I saw that massacre, Celia! She isn’t safe here!”
Celia: “I can keep her safe. I will keep her safe. She’s already learned the basics. She’s a bright kid. And I have some ideas for her.”
GM: “Except for how she’ll be Savoy’s hostage.”
Celia: “I promise you, Roderick, I will keep her from being harmed. Even by Savoy.”
“You know she doesn’t have a Beast? It’s safe for her to be around your dad. She won’t have to fake her death, not for a long time.”
GM: “Celia, you can’t keep her safe from Savoy. He knows who she is to me.”
Celia: “She doesn’t have powers, Roderick. None of them do. What do you think is going to happen if she goes to Houston? She’ll be a punching bag. Worse than a ghoul. They might not have an active genocide, but they aren’t going to give a fuck if some random thin-blood ends up dead.”
“You can see her here. Your dad can see her here. He won’t have to bury another kid.”
“She wants to go into business with you. Legal stuff. You could be a team.”
GM: “And all I’ll have to do is kiss Savoy’s ring, betray Coco, and work for him.”
Celia: Celia takes his hand in hers. She’s quiet for a moment, searching his face with her gaze.
The moment stretches between them. She doesn’t let the silence get awkward; how can it be, with two people who love each other? It’s a comfortable silence, the sort of silence that neither one of them need to fill. An understanding silence.
Celia moves her hands down his chest, working at the buttons on his shirt as she goes. Once they’re free she slides her hands back around him, fingers moving against the muscles on his back. She doesn’t dig, just lets her skin slide against his, feeling for the little spots of tightness that speak of tension and pain and past trauma.
She knows his body well. She knows where to touch, where it hurts, where her hands will find the answers she’s looking for.
And she’s well practiced at this technique by now. It stretches between them, that little band of energy that pulls her along for the ride. She doesn’t become him. It’s different with licks. Their Beasts are more wary than the kine. But she can surround him with herself. She cans see the spinning orbs and set them into motion, can free the ones she needs freed, the little blue light at his throat that might ordinarily keep him silent.
“I’d like to ask you something, if you don’t mind.” she murmurs after a moment. Her voice stays quiet. Steady. She’s nothing but a concerned girlfriend giving the boy she loves what comfort she can. “A personal question.”
GM: Roderick sighs with relief and doesn’t fight his girlfriend’s massage. He used to eat her out in return for this, after all.
It’s even easier to invade his mind than Diana’s was. He just lets her right in, equally oblivious to the supernal influence washing over this thoughts.
“You can ask me anything,” he murmurs.
Celia: “We talked before,” she continues quietly, moving her hands up and down his lats and making tiny circles across the paraspinals, “about getting married. And taking that third step with each other. Making it special. And I keep coming back to that thought. Sometimes it’s the only thing that gets me through the night, the thought that… that you’re waiting for me, that I get to come home to you.” Her cheek presses against his chest while her fingers work their magic. “And I was just wondering… if you’ve done that with anyone before. If you’re already fully bound to someone.”
GM: “No, I’m only two steps collared to her,” Roderick answers calmly.
Celia: “And to me?” The words come out as barely more than a whisper.
GM: “Once, I’m pretty confident.”
“I’d like to save the second drink for sometime special.”
Celia: So it had snapped that night. Broken face, broken heart, broken collar. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Celia silently nods her head. Something paces back and forth inside her chest. Not the Beast, but something similar. Something worse, maybe, that tells her… that tells her she’ll never be good enough for him. That if she doesn’t make him drink he’ll never choose her over her Coco. He’ll never think she’s smart enough. He’ll never think she’s strong enough. He’ll never think she’s capable. He thinks she’s pretty, but so does everyone. That’s all she has. She’s pretty.
She doesn’t realize when the tears begin to leak from her eyes. She wipes her cheek on her shoulder but only succeeds in smearing the blood across her face.
She’s a monster. And now it’s written across that oh-so-pretty face of hers.
Celia finds the tether between them, the little beam of white energy. She pulls it back into her body, withdrawing from her boyfriend’s mind. Her hands don’t stop, though. They continue for another beat before traveling upward and around his shoulders and the neck, rising to the tips of her toes so she can whisper, “me too,” right before she presses her lips against his.
GM: Roderick returns her kiss and wraps his strong arms around her, holding her close and tight.
“You’re crying,” he says after a moment, pulling away enough for her to see the concern writ across his face. “What’s wrong?”
She doesn’t know anymore. She’s forgotten why she’s upset. She’s forgotten what she’s supposed to be doing. She’s forgotten her purpose.
She wants him. She wants him to want her. She wants to get his sire’s talons out of his head. She wants to break that bond so Roderick can see, clearly, the problems that she’s causing with her blind obedience and loyalty. She wants him to see that he’s on the wrong side. That his sire is just as bad as every other elder, and the fact that she hides it behind intellect and charm doesn’t mean she’s not. She wants him to realize that Coco set him up, that she sent the hunters after him, that she’s keeping him busy with scribe duties and note taking and won’t lift a finger to help him with his actual dreams because she doesn’t want him to succeed, because she doesn’t care about him. He’s a pawn. A tool. Like her.
But she can’t tell him, can she? Because his mind has been twisted by the blood. And maybe hers has too. Maybe the thing in her chest, the green monster, maybe that’s controlling her thoughts.
Maybe it’s the sheer amount of collars on her and leashes that tug her in so many different directions that causes this loss of control, that makes it spill down her cheeks. Or the thought of failure. She’s failing. Again.
But she can’t answer his question. Because she doesn’t even know where to start.
GM: “Shhh. It’s okay,” Roderick says softly, drying her tears with his hands. Celia can see the fangs in his mouth at the heady scent, but he hugs her close again, running his hand up and down the small of her back. “I’ve got you. I’m right here.”
“I love you. You’re safe.”
Celia: Twice in two nights.
She’s a wreck.
“Are you coming back tonight?”
GM: He rubs up towards her head.
Celia: Celia nods. The smile she tries to send his way falters before it makes a complete journey across her face.
“Savoy summoned me tonight. I expect it’s for an update.”
GM: “Oh, what on?”
Celia: He knows what on.
GM: His face downturns into a scowl.
Celia: She doesn’t quite flinch. But there’s a wariness to her that wasn’t there a moment ago, like she’s ready to bolt if he decides to take it out on her.
GM: “Christ. I’m not about to go apeshit. You don’t need to do that every time I frown.”
Celia: “You keep getting distracted with other parts of my body when you’re supposed to show me how to throw a punch.”
GM: “I’ll show you. We’ll make time specifically to fuck first, then to get in some practice.”
Celia: “We did that last night. And we still ended up fucking. Again.”
GM: “Okay. We’ll make time to fuck twice.”
Celia: “Is that going to be enough?”
“I don’t know about you but the entire time Elgin was droning on I kept thinking about all the things I wanted you to do to me, and we’d just fucked.”
“And then I had to call you Mr. Durant and I had this schoolgirl fantasy…”
GM: “And what a naughty schoolgirl you’d be, not paying attention to the teacher’s lecture. Should I put you over my knee and spank you?”
“Ah, wait. Crap. That probably isn’t a turn-on for you.”
Celia: “Er… actually…”
GM: He raises his eyebrows. “It still is?”
Celia: She gives a sort of helpless shrug, eyes dropping to the middle of the chest rather than meet his gaze. She can’t quite keep the smile—two parts bashful, one part wicked—from her lips.
GM: “Well, if you want to now… when do you have to be out the door by?”
Celia: “I’m torn between arousal and horror at the thought of showing up to dinner with my dad after you spank me.”
GM: “Yeah, I kinda had the same thought…”
Celia: “Bet we have time to fuck, though. In the shower. Two birds.”
“And then later tonight I can find a plaid skirt and some mary janes.”
“Maybe get you a tie.”
GM: “Eh, the schoolgirl skirt and shoes don’t really turn me on. I love you in this dress, though. Happy to spank you in it. It’s so tight and sexy, the way it clings to your hips…” He runs his hands up and down her sides again.
Celia: Celia leans into his touch. Her breath hitches as his hands move down her sides, whatever she had been about to say lost to the moment.
“I suppose,” she murmurs, “that it’s a good thing I have dozens just like this. Why don’t you help me out of it and tonight I’ll let you pick something else you can bend me over your lap in…” She tugs him toward the shower.
Conscious of the time, Celia and Roderick make it quick. Their clothing comes off without any prolonged foreplay, and when he takes her in the shower with her legs around his waist and her back pressed to the tile wall it’s frantic and needy. No fangs come out to play, just skin and lips and hands that bring them both to completion.
She loves him for it. For his willingness to play human and take her like a man takes a woman. For not judging that she still revels in the closeness of their bodies, or that she cries out the same way she used to, or that sometimes she just wants to kiss him without the taste of blood. She loves him for many reasons, but that’s one of them.
She tells him that after he lets her down, when his hands, lathered with soap, run down her body. She tells him that she loves him, that she’ll always love him, and that she can’t wait to spend the rest of her Requiem with him. She’s looking forward to more evenings like this: waking up in his arms, discussing their plans, going their separate ways, coming back home to each other.
She only wishes they didn’t have to hide it.
“Let me know what the Asian says so I can figure how to play this tonight, yeah?”
GM: The shower sex is brief but passionate. Roderick is so strong now and can lift her up like she’s nothing as he penetrates her. It probably doesn’t hurt how she’s removed many of her internal organs either. Or how his ass is now tighter. The pair emerge wet and dripping from the shower, and Roderick enjoys himself setting Celia on the counter and toweling her off in manner that feels more like being molested through the towel.
“God, I can’t keep my hands off you,” he murmurs.
He says he loves her too, so much, and can’t wait to get married as breathers. The way they were meant to.
He does so much to pleasure her body, to show the depth of his affection through touch. He touches her in ways Pietro never will with his feather-light fingers. He touches her like a woman, not just a lick. His libido is up to fuck whenever hers is.
And yet, her thoughts have strayed to other licks and ghouls and men, as assuredly as Evan strayed from Roxanne.
Perhaps they do now, or perhaps they don’t. But it’s as Mabel said.
Enough love to go around.
“Her name’s Ayame. I think she probably gets enough of ‘the Asian’ from other Anarchs.”
“And the sad thing is we’re still the most progressive club. Pretty sure the Invictus still calls them ‘orientals.’”
Celia: Her mind doesn’t wander when Roderick is inside of her. Or when he lays her out on the counter to “dry her off.” Or when he touches her. Right now her attention is fully on him, despite the overabundance of love in her… heart.
“Sorry,” Celia murmurs. “You’re right, of course. I know her name.” She lets out a long, forced sigh.
GM: “I also don’t like hearing how Savoy expects progress reports on manipulating me.”
Celia: “…you’re the one who brought it up nights ago, that he probably will expect them.”
“I don’t know if that’s what this is about. It could be any number of things.”
GM: “Let’s just not talk about him while we’re here.” He lifts up her chin to dab some moisture around her upper neck.
Celia: “Politics-free zone?”
Celia lifts her chin for him, giving him easy access to the spot he needs.
GM: “That’s right.” She wonders if there was even anything to towel away there, because he kisses her instead.
Celia: There wasn’t. They both know there wasn’t. But Celia is happy to play along.
She lets out a breathy giggle at the touch.
GM: He steals another kiss.
“Only because you’re irresistible.”
Celia: “I heard,” she whispers slyly, “that I’m the cutest lick in the city.”
GM: “You heard wrong. I heard you were the cutest lick in the world.”
“Although I suppose ‘in the city’ is still technically accurate.”
“We should schedule an entire night, sometime. To do nothing besides fuck in every way we can think up. I wonder if that would get it out of our systems.”
Celia: “Doubt it. But we can certainly try.”
GM: “We’ll do it for research purposes.”
Celia: “Of course.”
“Has it gotten better for you?” She nods toward what’s hiding behind the towel around his hips.
GM: There’s already a bulge.
“Think that answers your question,” he smirks, glancing down.
Celia: “But are you doing that?” She reaches for him anyway, loosening the towel to let it fall to the ground.
GM: His penis is there and hard.
“Not consciously. It’s funny.”
“I thought we couldn’t enjoy sex, so for a while I just didn’t try to.”
Celia: “It’s because I’m so pretty, to be honest.” She takes him into her hand.
…what if it is her?
GM: He’s stiff and pulsing under her touch.
“Must be it. It’s not like I’ve ever seen a girl who compares.”
He smiles and glances down.
“You know, I bet your dad will expect a kiss on the cheek, and if those were the same lips that had just sucked a dick…”
But she’s on her knees a moment later.
GM: He lays out the towel underneath and folds it twice before she does. It seems less scandalous when he doesn’t cum in her mouth, but her lover still looks as if he (greatly) enjoys himself, and she can indeed kiss her father with lips that just sucked a dick.
Celia: What else can any girl possibly want?
It’s when he pulls her up after he finishes and kisses her throughly (that lack of cum is good for many reasons, it turns out) that she finally asks the question she’s been wondering since they’d gotten back together:
“Are we exclusive?”
GM: Roderick picks her up and carries her to her closet so she can pick out clothes.
“I’d like us to be, yeah.”
Celia: She had expected as much.
Celia opens the closet door, revealing a veritable treasure trove of clothing and accessories. It’s no wonder she demanded her own closet earlier: there’s literally no room for anything but her in here. It must have served some other function and been turned into a walk-in, because the space itself measures half the size of the front room. Clothes, shoes, bags, and other assorted accessories cover every square inch of it, neatly arranged by… well, by some sort of system that only she seems to understand. Dresses hang from the bars that have been installed on every wall, with racks of shoes beneath them. Countless pairs of heels, flats, and boots wait for her to step into them. Above the dresses shelves have been built into the walls to hold her collection of handbags and hats, and the scarves that dangle from hooks look more like decor than fashion. Soft, shimmery, glittery. A custom-built “island” has drawers that pull out to reveal undergarments ranging from barely-there strappy little numbers to a more conservative cheeky panty. Thigh-highs, fishnets, stockings, and socks sit pretty in another. The last reveals a tray of various pieces of jewelry nestled in velvet, half of which were gifted to her by Pietro; the thief had once said that she looks her best when he drapes her in diamonds, pearls, and emeralds. “Just jewels and skin.”
She directs him toward a section in the back corner where a smaller selection of more modest clothing hangs, separated from the rest by a large white garment bag.
A pair of eyes peer out at Celia from behind a handbag on the top shelf as Roderick sets her down. Blossom has always loved spending time in here. Celia gives the doll a fond smile, arching a delicate eyebrow at her as if to ask if she’s getting up to something she shouldn’t be. She’s been quite taken with a certain somebody since their introduction… and, yes, there, a flash of brown hair. Delighted, Celia winks at the doll.
“Are you going to start fights with everyone who looks at me sideways?” she asks idly of Roderick, thumbing through the hangers.
GM: “Jesus, this is a lot of clothes. And you have even more at your other haven?” he remarks as he carries her over.
Blossom smiles back at her mother.
“He didn’t just look. He touched you.”
Celia: “I like clothes,” Celia says with a shrug. She turns her eyes away from the doll, letting her keep her secrets for now.
“And yes, I’m aware he touched me. You were going to come to blows over it.” There’s no question there; she knows exactly what his plan was.
GM: “I like how good you look in them, too. Just surprised you have so many.”
“And yeah. I was gonna challenge him to a duel.”
Celia: “I assumed. I’m flattered. But you know that’s what they do, right?” She turns to face him, clothing forgotten for the moment. “They touch me. That’s how they see me, as a pretty, vapid slut they get to touch.”
GM: “You’re not vapid or a slut, and I’ll punch out anyone who treats you like you are.”
Celia: He’d almost called her stupid the other night. But she doesn’t point it out.
“It’s just a mask, Roderick.”
GM: “You don’t need to wear that mask.”
Celia: “Are you planning on declaring your love for me to the whole city?”
GM: “If you wanted to join the Anarchs, we could. Some licks would try to take advantage, but would it be so bad?”
Celia: “I will not support Vidal. Ever.”
GM: “I didn’t say Vidal. I said the Anarchs.”
Celia: “The Anarchs support Vidal. Coco and Opal support Vidal.”
GM: “They might, but plenty Anarchs have about as much to do with the prince as you do.”
Celia: “I will not even nominally throw in with someone who would support the massacre of people like your sister, or let monsters like the sheriff roam the streets and mete out his version of ‘justice.’”
GM: Roderick effects a sigh. “I have an answer to that, but maybe it’s better we just not get into politics.”
Celia: “Frankly I’d be surprised if whoever takes over for him even lets the Anarchs keep what they have.”
Celia closes her mouth.
GM: “Their mistake. Whoever takes over is going to be a weaker prince, and even Vidal wouldn’t want to deal with the fallout of that.”
“But I’m already breaking my word.”
“Speaking of Dani. I want to see her.”
“Could you bring her here? I know you’re concerned about this place’s security, so you could just leave her phone behind, take her in the trunk, and blindfold her on the way in and out.”
Celia: “They’re watching her. I told you that.”
GM: Roderick effects another sigh. “You did. And you’re right. They’d just watch you do it.”
Celia: “I’m sorry. I know you want to see her.”
“Maybe I can… ask him.”
GM: Roderick’s arms tense under Celia.
Celia: “I’ll just offer a favor or… or something.”
GM: He shakes his head. “You don’t need to do that. Get in any deeper with him. I’ll get to see Dani.”
Celia: “I’d do it for you. To make you happy. I’d do that.”
GM: “I’ll get to see her,” he repeats. “We do need an extract plan, to get her out of the city. I’ve already been working on that. Part of what I’m going to take care of tonight.”
Celia: “With Ayame?”
GM: “This is on my end. She promised transport out of the city, not moving a thin-blood out of the Quarter unseen.”
Celia: “…are you going to break into the Quarter to get her out?”
GM: He presses his lips together. “It’s a bigger security risk if you know the details.”
“But I trust you, if you want to know.”
Celia: She looks as if he’d slapped her. Just for a moment, until the rest of it follows.
GM: “…I just said I trust you.”
Celia: “Considering I’m the one that’s going to take the heat for this, yeah, Roderick, I’d like to know.”
GM: “Okay. I’m going to get her out during the day.”
“I’ve talked to some duskborn. They still burn in the sun, but not as bad as us.”
Celia: “Dani said she doesn’t burn. She said she just gets tired.”
GM: He blinks. “What?”
Celia: “I asked. She said she tested it.”
GM: “You’re positive? How comprehensively did she test it?”
Celia: “She said she read about it in Dracula. That he doesn’t burn, just loses his powers.”
GM: “Sure. But that’s fiction.”
Celia: “Right, which is what I told her.”
“Are you going to let her finish the semester, at least? So she has a chance to transfer?”
“I had to drop everything. It… sucked.”
GM: He shakes his head. “It’ll suck less than the alternative. She has forever. She can take as long as she wants to finish school, if she still wants to.”
Celia: “But you still burn in the sun, so I don’t imagine that you’ll be the one retrieving her. You trust your ghouls with this?”
GM: “Almost. Mine, and an independent I’m hiring who’s good at shadow dancing. To hide them on their way in and out.”
“You’re positive Dani can’t burn in the sun? That would make things easier.”
Celia: “I’ll double check. The whole thin-blood thing is… weird? Fascinating?”
GM: Roderick shakes his head. “Who even knows what the rules are with them.”
Celia: “She wants to know why people don’t like her kind. I didn’t know what to say.”
GM: “Hatred of the other. Fear. Jealousy. Disgust. Scripture. Lot of reasons.”
Celia: “That’s kind of what we discussed. It just felt thin.”
GM: “All reasons for genocide are thin. Everything about unreasoning hatred is thin.”
Roderick effects another sigh.
“I really wish I could’ve been there for her, last night.”
“But I know she was in good hands with you.”
Celia: “It was fine. She was… happy to see me, actually.”
“She wants me to talk to your dad.”
GM: He smiles. “Good. I’d been worried she’d be angry at you, over…”
Celia: “Yeah. About how you helped my family. About how you’re a good person.”
GM: Roderick’s face grows still, and a moment passes before he replies, “I think… I think he’d really like that.”
Celia: “Does he know… what happened with us?”
“It’s one thing to explain to Dani, but your dad…”
GM: “Yeah. He knew.” Roderick’s words are slow. “I couldn’t… I couldn’t just keep it to myself.”
Celia: Celia rubs a hand across her face.
GM: “I wish he didn’t think I was dead,” her lover says heavily.
“I think that was the worst decision I made in my Requiem, in a lot of ways.”
Celia: “I had this thought to invite him to dinner at my mom’s house. Introduce them. Let him see how you helped my family. Bring Dani. Sneak you in, somehow.”
GM: He gives a sad smile. “That’s really sweet. You should.”
“I’d like to see him again, even if… even if he can’t know it’s me.”
Celia: “Hello Mr. Garrison, this is my boyfriend Roderick that I definitely didn’t cheat on your son with.”
GM: Roderick starts crying. Celia’s fangs lengthen in her mouth at the coppery tang.
“He was just… the best dad, Celia… I did this to him… so I could… throw body parts off boats… like a mobster…”
Celia: Her heart breaks for him. She pulls him into her arms, holding him tight while he lets it out.
GM: “I haven’t even gotten around… to the Mafia…”
“I wish I could… take it back… I shouldn’t have, have let him think I was…”
Celia: “I sent flowers. To your funeral. I didn’t show up as me because… I didn’t want to hurt them, seeing me, with you gone, I didn’t think you’d want that, but… when Dani goes, I can… I can be there, maybe, do you think…?”
Otherwise he’ll be all alone.
Burying another child.
No more little Garrisons to carry on the family line.
No more Mafia behind bars.
GM: “I… I guess it couldn’t hurt…” Roderick wipes his eyes. “He doesn’t have to think Dani’s dead, just moving away…”
Celia: “She can never come back, Roderick. Once she’s gone.”
“She’ll never see him. No holidays, no birthdays…”
GM: “He doesn’t have to think she’s dead.”
“He could… come see her, maybe…?”
Celia: “She was crying last night. Like you are. At the thought of leaving him behind. About how she’d wanted to… to do so much to make him proud, and how now she can’t even have kids to carry on, and…”
GM: “Yeah,” he says bleakly. “It sucks.”
“I… I accepted this, but it was for a reason. A chance to do more good.”
Celia: But he hasn’t.
GM: “Dani was just… there wasn’t even any reason.”
“She shouldn’t exist, like this. The thin-blooded shouldn’t exist.”
Celia: “I thought you were an ally.”
How can he say that?
About his own sister?
And if he thinks that, what about the strangers in Houston?
Surely he’s considered that.
GM: “I am. Genocide is wrong in any form. But if the thin-blooded just weren’t a thing, and all thin-bloods were still breathers? They’d be better off.”
“Dani sure would be.”
“Our dad sure would be.”
Celia: Maybe Coco knew exactly what she was doing when she’d taken him.
Kept him busy with all those projects of hers.
Maybe that rumor about Carolla is more correct than he knows.
Maybe she’d arranged for Dani’s Embrace.
Half-Embrace? What do you call the partial transformation of a half-vampire?
“Don’t take her away from him, Roderick.” The words come out as a whisper. She touches a hand to his cheek, lifting his gaze towards her. “Everything she told me last night… they need each other.” She wipes at his tears with her fingers. “Losing you almost killed him. He shouldn’t have to bury another child, and that’s exactly what he’ll be doing. He’s busy. He won’t make the trip out to Houston. And how will Dani feel then? She already thinks he doesn’t love her.”
Her voice catches, threatening to break. She’d seen the pain in his sister last night.
“You can’t undo what happened to her, but you don’t have to take her away from everything she knows, everyone she knows and loves. She should have been my sister, too.”
GM: Roderick sighs wearily.
Still 22 years old, but he looks every bit past 30.
He looks down.
He’s silent for a moment.
“Let… let me see them, Celia. Dani, here. Her, my dad, at dinner.”
“I should talk to my sister. She’s the one who’s… who’s been in my dad’s life. I should hear what she wants to do. How she even feels, about Hoston.”
“But… you don’t have to stick yourself on a cross for me. I’ll owe him. Not you. Tell him that. He’ll have his marker, to call in.”
The words sound like he’s had to pry them out of his mouth.
But above all, they sound tired.
Celia: Celia pulls him in. She rests her cheek against his chest, offering him what comfort she can with her physical body. She loves him. And she wants him to be on the right side. And that’s how she justifies what she’s doing to herself: that it’s for him. For the greater good. For Dani and all the licks like her who shouldn’t be put down for what they are. Because Vidal is a tyrant and Savoy should be in charge and when the prince takes his dirt nap Roderick will be safe.
“I’ll make it happen,” she tells him, “and I’ll keep her safe. I promise.”
GM: He holds her back for a while. He doesn’t say anything. Just holds her close against his body, face in her hair as he breathes in her familiar scent.
“Okay,” he says at length.
Celia: She loves him. She tells him that, after a long moment, that she loves him.
And she repeats it to herself. That she loves him. That she’s doing the right thing. That it’s for his good. Dani’s good. Henry’s good. The city’s good.
Still, she feels like the monster everyone says she is.