“I gotta be honest, I… I like that you know. Selfish as it is. You just get things.”
Monday night, 21 March 2016, AM
GM: Emily pulls on shoes and a jacket and heads outside with Celia.
“Wait, can you even drink alcohol?”
“You threw up all the food.”
Celia: “No. I find a drunk and drink from them. Then I get it.”
GM: “Oh. Blood alcohol content. That makes sense.”
Celia: “Yep. I gotta be honest, I… I like that you know. Selfish as it is. You just get things.”
GM: “I bet, next to Mom. Can’t imagine how she took this.”
Celia: “Pretty well, truth be told.”
“She just kind of accepted it.”
“No screaming, no running, just… asked if she could feed me, smuggled me out of the house in Lucy’s bookbag, you know. The usual.”
GM: "Lucy’s bookbag?
GM: “Ah. Makes sense.”
“…that’s kind of really cool, just saying.”
Celia: “I’ve got other forms,” Celia says with a smile. “I’d love to show you sometime. Not in public.”
GM: “Like what, bat? Wolf?”
Celia: “Bird. Tiger.”
“Tiger is way cooler than wolf.”
Celia: “I think so too.”
GM: “Those animals are just majestic. I told you about the conversation I had with Robby. How he said if it’s him versus a tiger, even with a sword, the tiger wins, no contest.”
Celia: Celia nods. She remembers that.
“Can I… can I ask you something? If you could do it, shift forms like that, or do body stuff, would you want to?”
GM: “Wait, hold on. I’m remembering our conversation and he gets his panties in a wad when people get facts about swords wrong.”
“So he said there are guys who’ve killed tigers just with kukris. Curved knives. It’s really unsafe but it’s been done.”
“And there were Roman gladiators who fought lions, which, granted, are wussier than tigers, with just swords.”
“He said if the tiger gets the drop on him, pounces on him, then he’s probably ten kinds of dead.”
“But if he has a sword and shield, sees the tiger coming, and doesn’t give in to his instinct to run away or freeze up, then he could win most of the time. Weapons are force multipliers and can do a real number on wild animals, if you have the training to use them.”
“He said his first choice of weapon would be a spear, though, not a sword and shield.”
“And then he went on for a bit about how unappreciated spears are.”
“So, yeah. That’s my nerdy HEMA boyfriend.”
Celia: Celia cracks a smile.
“A spear, huh? Makes sense. Kind of dance around it and keep it at bay while you get some pokes in.”
GM: “Yeah, the longer reach. Robby says that’s an enormous advantage in fights. Part of why it’s so hard for tiny people to fight big people.”
“But, anyway, your question.”
“If I could do body stuff that revolutionizes medicine, yeah, I’d totally want to.”
“Turning into animals is also pretty cool. But kind of the complimentary drink next to the actual dinner.”
“I thought Mom was gonna live with that injury for the rest of her life.”
Celia: “Even if it comes with all the drawbacks? If you’re stuck in this world?”
GM: “Are you offering to make me a vampire?”
Celia: “No. I mean, maybe. Not yet. There’s… there are things I want to show you.”
GM: “Like? I have a million questions about all this, still.”
Celia: “I have a medical degree,” Celia says abruptly. “I mean I had to do it online since I can’t go during the day, so I guess it’s ‘fake’ or ‘half-assed’ or whatever, but I have it. The notebook I showed you is only part of what I’ve been working on. There’s… so much more. So much.”
GM: “Wait, why didn’t you tell me you had a degree?”
Celia: "Because it’s… I dunno, not traditional I guess, I didn’t do all the rounds like you did, I guess I felt like it didn’t count. I used to borrow your books. I did your homework for you once. Back in college. You fell asleep and looked really out of it and it was just sitting there so I thought maybe I could help, but you didn’t get the best grade on it so I never said anything, and… thought you might think I… it’s hard to explain, I guess, why I got the degree and what I’m doing with it when I run a spa.
GM: Emily playfully punches her shoulder.
“Maybe because you just wanted to learn, doofus.”
“And it’s a helpful thing to have.”
“I’m happy for you. Mom will be really proud. What’s it in?”
Celia: “Ah, same as yours for undergrad. Kinesiology. Then a kind of hybrid physical and occupational therapy thing.”
“It was closest to what I want to do with the emphasis on anatomy and physiology. How everything works together.”
GM: “Makes total sense. I’m proud too.”
“Every adult in the family a college grad.”
Celia: “Mm, was I the anchor?” Celia smirks at her.
GM: “We’d be the last people to tell you that. Mom got her degree pretty late. I almost didn’t get one at all.”
Celia: “Thanks, Emi. I… yeah, thank you.”
GM: “Pretty sure I’d still be a waitress without a family if I hadn’t met you, so likewise.”
“Or maybe working TMC’s records department or something.”
Celia: “Dreaming of bigger and better things?”
GM: “Living in a house with a bunch of roommates, packing lunch, and taking the bus to work.”
“And yeah, dreaming.”
Celia: “I’m glad we met.”
GM: “Me too. You’re not a black hole.”
Celia: “Well, on that note… pick a bar, any bar,” Celia says, lifting her hand to gesture at the selection in front of them, “and set an alarm for quarter after 3 so I have time to get ready for this next meeting, and then we can play a million questions.”
GM: “I was about to ask where we’re going.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever gone to a bar this un-sexy.”
“Pajamas and vomit on my breath.”
Celia: “Trying to get laid, Emi?”
GM: “I’ll be amused if somebody tries.”
“Hey, if vampire feeding is sex, and I got fed on without my consent, did I get raped again?”
“Cause I’m feeling pretty violated, remembering that.”
Emily’s voice is faux casual.
Celia: “Yes and no. You were certainly violated, and you’d be absolutely right to feel that way. Vampire sex with other vampires is feeding. And fighting. Mix of pleasure and pain, or for some it’s just pain. We don’t have sex the normal way. Well, we can, but most of us think it’s not worth the effort and most of us don’t enjoy it anyway. Vampire sex with ghouls is usually the normal human way, and sometimes there’s blood. Like when my… um, I’m gonna use some fake names, yeah? So when Lena and I fool around, since she’s a ghoul, we have normal human lesbian sex. With props, without props, and when I want to spoil her I feed from her and let her drink from me. It’s like an extra boost to the orgasm, basically.”
“Most of us don’t have sex with humans, but when we drink from humans their mind kind of clouds over and they feel good and can think it’s sex. Earlier this evening I went hunting with my friend, Annie, and we took two boys back to their place. They were fooling around with each other, I was naked, but no one penetrated me and I didn’t have an orgasm. They just thought we had a mind-blowing orgy. And I drank from Annie, but because she didn’t drink from me it’s not sex.”
“But you can also feed without it being sexual, which a lot of licks do. Sleeping victims, people with their guard down, people at clubs, et cetera. Some licks can subsist on animal blood, and some like it bagged. None of which is sex.”
“Like when Mom feeds me. Not sex.”
“I will be totally honest, though, I am an outlier when it comes to sex.”
“That being said… it’s kind of a rose-tinted view,” Celia says, looking to Emily. “We feed on people. We hurt them to keep going. We’re… parasites. Monsters. We do it without their consent. Sometimes they get hurt. Sometimes they die.”
“And I guess at best we’re habitual rapists.”
GM: Emily takes that all in.
“So I was violated and didn’t consent, but not technically raped,” she says.
“Cool. Real cool.”
Celia: “I’m sorry,” Celia says quietly. “I didn’t know about it.”
GM: “Well apparently you got raped too, so all we need is for someone to bang Mom without her consent and we can be rape triple…”
Celia: “They… did it to you in college, too. You were sick all the time. Groggy? Someone was using you. That’s part of why I was so insistent about you moving to the Quarter instead of staying on campus.”
GM: Emily shuts up when she hears Celia’s words.
She stares ahead with a frozen and vaguely nauseous look.
Celia: Maybe, she reflects, that wasn’t the right thing to say.
Celia takes her hand, giving it a squeeze.
GM: “That was all year,” Emily says numbly. “That was all fucking year.”
Her voice is quiet.
“How many times.”
Celia: Celia tries to think back to that time.
“Well… I didn’t move in until part way through, but…” She does some mental math.
“Probably… twice a week.”
GM: Emily grabs Celia, arresting her fall as she jolts forward, and retches.
Not much comes out.
Just some runny orange.
Celia: “Oh, Emi…” Celia rubs her back up and down, up and down like their mother does when they’re sick in slow, soothing gestures.
GM: “Ha.. ha… fuck me,” says Emily, running the back of her hand over her mouth.
Celia: “I’m sorry,” Celia murmurs. She’s been saying that word a lot tonight. Sorry.
“I shouldn’t have said anything.”
GM: “It happened, Celia.”
“It fucking happened, if you said anything or not.”
Celia: “That doesn’t mean I need to make you relive the trauma.”
“This is one of those times where… I don’t know, maybe brutal honesty isn’t the best choice.”
GM: “I did live the fucking trauma. That night I fell apart, drinking and crying and bombing my test and when you said Mom could be my mom too, did it happen then? Did I get… not-technically-raped, then? That night?”
Celia: “I don’t know,” Celia admits. “I don’t think so, not right then. The night before, maybe, because you were a mess, but I don’t think that night, no.”
“I can take it,” Celia offers in a low voice, “everything you’re feeling right now, I can take it away, if you want, if you’d rather not…”
GM: Emily just barrels on.
“And, hey, you remember back in October, how I was sluggish at work, fucking things up, and ‘Lana bitched about it, and I yelled at her, and I had that fight with you, and Mom said I was having bad PMS, and I laid into her for that, and I didn’t want to have sex with Robby for a while?”
“It. Fucking. Happened.”
Celia: “I know.” Celia rubs a hand across her face. “I know. I know, and I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I didn’t realize… I didn’t realize. I thought you’d be safer here. I should have recognized the signs that week, and…”
She didn’t. She hadn’t been there for Emily. But this isn’t about her, it’s about her friend’s trauma, her friend being violated over and over and over again, and it hadn’t had anything to do with Celia, not really. Nothing to do with Jade. Just her kind doing what they do: feeding on people and making points.
GM: “I’d have flunked out of Tulane, with how ‘sick’ I kept getting.”
“No fucking wonder I kept nodding off in class, and had no energy.”
“I thought it was ‘just’ stress and loneliness and a full load of classes and working two shitty jobs. Not all that and getting not-technically-raped and used as a blood donor twice a week.”
Celia: “You didn’t, though. You didn’t flunk out. You didn’t not finish. You went through it, you came out on the other side, and you went even harder than you did before.”
GM: “Yeah, I did, no thanks to Mr. or Ms. Twice Weekly Rapist. I’m pissed, Celia. I’m fucking pissed. But right now I wanna get hammered.”
Celia: “Okay, you know what, fuck it. Instead of a bar, let’s grab a bottle and head over to Flawless. There’s some stuff I want to show you.”
GM: “All right, sure, fuck bars.”
“Probably more vampire rapists in ’em anyways.”
GM: Emily laughs.
It’s a bleak, still half-incredulous sound.
But if she weren’t laughing, she might be crying.
Celia: “Come on. We’ll grab a bottle on the way and I’ve got extra clothes you can borrow there. Use one of the vichi rooms and then…”
Celia takes her hand, looking her into the eyes with a soft smile that doesn’t do anything to take away the pain, but it does promise a better future,
“…then I’ll show you some real magic.”
Monday night, 21 March 2016, AM
GM: The two pick up a bottle of tequila along the way to Flawless. “Celebrate my partial spic mongrel mutt heritage,” Emily declares with a toast, drinking straight from the bottle.
“Fuck Maxen too. Glad Mom kicked him out.”
“Happiest memory I’ve had all year.”
Celia: Celia grins at her, keeping an arm around her waist so she doesn’t topple over as she drinks and walks.
“Me too. It should have happened sooner. Watching her light him up though… god, that was incredible.”
GM: “Yeah. Gave me goosebumps,” Emily declares. She’s barely started to drink and is already leaning heavily against Celia. “‘My job has value.’ You fucking tell him, girl.”
Celia: “Should we order you a sandwich?” Celia asks as they go. Her stomach is empty. She’d thrown up everything and she’d barely had anything in it to begin with. “I think someone left something in the fridge, if you want. In the break room. Soak up that booze so you’re not flat on your ass.”
GM: “Good idea. Eating with another rapist made me lose my appetite.”
“Hey, let’s do Krystal.”
“That place is just the right level of not even giving a fuck that I’m feeling.”
Celia: “Haha. Sure thing. Not sure their lobby is open… think they’d mind if we walk through the drive-thru?”
GM: “Naaaah, they’re open. Lobby is half the experience.”
“Actually, I don’t remember if they even have a drive-thru.”
Celia: “I admit I don’t keep the schedules of food joints anymore,” Celia concedes with a grin, leading Emily toward the glowing sign.
GM: Krystal is a trashed and dirty 24/7 fast food restaurant on Bourbon Street. The two wait in line behind a homeless-looking man who’s talking to himself and another woman in heavy makeup and revealing attire who looks like a aprostitute. A surly employee is wiping up vomit from a table. At least half the customers look drunk or high.
The food is ghettotastic. Probably full of salt and preservatives, probably horrible for you, probably not even real meat, but delicious and costs practically pocket change. The bored-looking employees look at porn on their phones as they take orders. This is a place that knows what it is and does not give a fuck.
Celia: It’s the kind of place Celia doesn’t have much experience in, if she’s being honest. She thinks Randy might have brought her here once, not on a date but just because he was jonesing for a greasy fix, and the thought makes her smile a little sadly. As they step inside Celia makes sure that she’s not projecting any obvious predatory signs, and otherwise follows Emily’s lead. She’s glad she’s not still dressed for Elysium.
GM: The cashier is rude to them and looks like she wants to be anywhere but here. The food is unclean. The service is terrible. The customers are worse. Emily lovingly extols the place’s virtues and says, “I get it, girl, I get it,” to the rude cashier and walks away with a Krystal Sackful, advertised as, “Krystals are so good you’ll want them by the Sackful. So, get a dozen of these little square treasures in a steam-filled sack and savor every last bite.”
“I LOVE this place!” Emily loudly declares at the door. Celia hears someone throwing up.
Celia: Amused, Celia offers to hold the bottle while Emily scarfs a slider.
GM: “You’re the best, Celia,” Emily says, reaching into the bag and stuffing one into her face as they exit. A homeless guy asks for money. Emily shoves the rest of the slider into her mouth and hands him several dollars.
“Go ge’ drunk!” she extols while chewing.
“Or high, wha’efer.”
Celia: She’s wary this late at night, watching the streets as much as she’s watching Emily, but to all observers they’re just a pair of drunk girls meandering down Bourbon. She fishes through her pockets and pulls out a bill for the man as well.
“And some food,” she says, still amused, “to soak it up.”
GM: “Yeah, you got it, ladies, I’ma get me a burger first,” says the homeless guy.
“Thas’ it!” Emily whoops.
Celia: She laughs, wishing him a good night and pulling Emily after her.
GM: “Celia, I’ve only had like two swigs and I already feel drunk,” says Emily, starting on another slider.
Celia: “You’ve barely eaten, Emi. And you threw up what you did eat. Hence the food.”
GM: “Mmf. Mmf. Yeah. These are so horrible.” She inhales the tiny burger. “They’re so great.”
Celia: “I’ll keep a trash can with us in case you blow chunks again.”
GM: “Have I gotten raped any more times I don’t know about?”
“‘Cuz I’d rather just get it over with in one night.”
Celia: “Not that I… ah, sort of. Once. You gave blood, but it was into a bag.”
Celia: “So. Remember how Mom’s toes got cut off? And I came to the hospital to move her? We were in the car with the police and we went to that bad side of town?”
Celia: Celia tells her the story while they walk. Emily arguing about not wanting to move Mom, Celia arguing that it’s better for her if they do, her friend taking them to see a guy he knows who would make sure that Diana’s toes worked.
“So I told him I wasn’t going to pay the 100k, and then you show up with your face wrapped in a scarf and you were like, ’I’ll do it,’ and you and I argued you some more, and you asked about a payment plan. So he told you to fill a bag with blood.”
Celia explains how she’d given him the money in the end. Emptied her bank account to do it, borrowed heavily from her friend, and they took it back to the guy to fix Diana.
GM: “Oh. Yeah,” says Emily. “Comin’ back. I felt weird. Really weird. Sick.”
“This was more coerced not-rape than direct not-rape, got it.”
She takes the bottle from Celia and takes a swig.
“Good to know. Don’ feel like throwin’ up.”
Celia: “Had your memories wiped. But, y’know, my friend left the part that we argued, since the next time I saw you we fought again about it.”
“That explains it.”
“Ha ha, my memories are fake. Celia, I feel like that’s gotta really fuck with someone’s head.”
Celia: “It can, yeah.”
GM: “No, no, psychologically.”
“How much you got missing.”
Celia: Celia nods. She understands.
GM: “Like. You missing anything?”
GM: “But you don’t know, that’s the thing.”
“You don’t remember!”
Celia: “But you remember the gaps, if you push hard enough. If they’re sloppy.”
“Remember the missing time.”
“Remember the feelings, because they can’t change that.”
GM: “Yep, and even if you know, maybe there’s more.”
GM: “Fuck,” Emily mumbles, handing Celia back the bottle so she can retrieve another slider.
“God, I love these.”
“They’re so bad.”
“Did I mention that?”
Celia: “You did,” Celia laughs.
“Are you taking off school tomorrow?”
GM: Emily looks around. It’s past 3 AM. She’s walking down Bourbon Street getting drunk after learning vampires are real.
“Yeah, fuck school,” she says.
“Mom can take off work too.”
“What’s another day.”
Celia: “Probably for the best. Gives some time to…” Celia sighs, rubbing her free hand over her face. “Not enough. Never enough time to get over the loss of a child. You saw Henry.”
Celia: “I don’t know how to help her.”
GM: “Dunno if you can.”
Celia: “But I have to do something.”
GM: “Well.” Emily swallows the slider, takes the tequila bottle, and has another swig. “I guess.”
“Sorta like. Can give the best medical care in the world.”
“Awesome doctors, awesome insurance, awesome… hospital.” The inebriated woman gestures vaguely.
“But better if you never check in, in the first place, you know?”
“Not gettin’ sick. Ult’mate medicine. Ult’mate cure.”
“Can’t recommend enough.”
“Lotta healthcare still boils down to, ‘suck it up, princess.’”
Celia: “Yeah… I guess so.”
GM: “Poor Mom. She really wanted to reconnect.”
“I mean, fuck Isabel, for not-technically-rapin’ me, and for callin’ Maxen, but poor Mom.”
Celia: “Can’t imagine what that’s like, losing a child.”
GM: “Can’t really dump an asshole child like you can an asshole spouse, y’know?”
“She still cares.”
GM: “Feel like it wouldn’t help to say she not-technically raped me.”
“Oh. Think I did.”
“Yeah, def didn’t.”
Celia: “You said she fed from you. We didn’t call it not-technically-rape.”
“I don’t think Mom has much experience with the actual horrors of being an unwilling vessel.”
“Well… not… I guess she and I wouldn’t know.”
GM: “Yeah, you two were shaggin’.” Emily wiggles her eyebrows.
Celia: “Always had a thing for older ladies,” Celia says with a wink.
GM: “Mom looks great for her age.”
“’Specially after that boob job you gave her.”
Celia: Celia gapes.
“Did she tell you that?”
GM: “Naaaaah, I asked.”
Celia: “Is it too obvious?”
“Or do you routinely stare at her tits?”
GM: “Saw ‘em when she popped out Lucy, didn’t I?”
“Saw ’em when she nursed Luce, too. Gotta bring out the boobies for that.”
“But nah. Subtle.”
“Bet it’s more obvious when her clothes’re off.”
Celia: “She get naked for you, did she?”
GM: “Psssh. Mom gets naked for nobody. Just, was thinkin’ about all the little things, lately. And they seemed kinda different.”
GM: “Like uh, Lucy stayin’ over at Randy’s. She mentioned that.”
“Buncha little stuff that seemed weird.”
“Wonder if I woulda figured out on my own.”
Celia: “Possibly. Probably. You’re smart. Observant. I’d have had to keep lying, making them more and more ridiculous.”
“I mean it’s hard to think I got away with the diet thing for so long.”
GM: “Figured you were purging.”
Celia: “Yeah, I considered using that as a cover story, but you and Mom woulda freaked.”
GM: “All Mom’s food kept endin’ up with the girls. And Randy.”
Celia: “Doesn’t do anything for me.”
GM: “She really had a complex over it.”
Celia: “I know. I felt bad.”
GM: “Obsessed with what she was doin’ wrong. Don’t think anyone’s ever told her she’s a bad cook before.”
Celia: “It’s just… like if I eat it, I have to purge it immediately, or I have to consciously focus on keeping it down, and that makes me actually hungry, you know?”
“And if I’m actually hungry then it’s like… hangry. But worse. So when I do get to feed there’s a chance of losing control.”
GM: “Oh. Yeah. She mentioned that.”
Celia: Celia glances away, then back at Emily. “Yeah. I don’t like that she saw me like that.”
GM: “Said Dani was really scared by it, too.”
Celia: “Oh. She told you about Dani.”
GM: “Yeah, and Stephen, and Detective Pete.”
Celia: “Detec…” Celia stops abruptly. “I never told her about him.”
Celia: “Who… Dani? Dani might have, or… I’ll have to ask her.”
“I was trying to keep his name out of things with her.”
GM: “Yeah, just with Dani and Pete. The connection.”
Celia: “Oh. Uh. Pete came by to erase some memories of the ghouls for me so they didn’t know about Mom being one, and he met Dani.”
GM: “Oh. Make sense if she told Mom. They were pretty tight.”
Celia: “He’s also the friend that ponied up money for her feet.”
GM: “Huh. Nice of him.”
Celia: “He freaked out when he heard what happened with her.”
GM: “He seemed like a good dude.”
“For a cop.”
Celia: “He is. If anything ever happened to me, I’d want Mom to go to him.”
“For help or… whatever.”
GM: “Oh, thought you meant fuckin’ him.”
Celia: “Nah,” Celia says with a heavy sigh, “I’ve been trying to get him to take her out for years and he keeps turning me down.”
GM: “Huh, ’cause… vampire stuff?”
Celia: “Didn’t know how he’d explain it, didn’t think it’s safe, et cetera.”
GM: “Mmm. Drinkin’ makes me dumber.”
“My brain’s pretty much burned out after tonight.”
Celia: “Well come on, then, let’s head inside, I’ll get wasted with you, we’ll talk about dumb vampire stuff.”
GM: “Think Mom would like a cop.”
Celia: “Then I’ll tease you tomorrow when you can’t remember.”
GM: “Oh. We here?”
Emily looks up at Flawless’ front doors.
“Oh. Looks like, yeah.”
“Like I said. Think Mom would wanna date a cop.”
“Or maybe a military guy.”
“Or a firefighter.”
“Guy in uniform, y’know? Seems like her thing.”
Celia: “Wh’about the DA?”
Celia: “Yeah. Dani and I were… what, you don’t think so?”
GM: “He seems like he’s got a lotta shit.”
Celia: “Eh. Yeah.”
GM: “Guess they both lost a kid, so there’s that?”
Celia: “There’s that,” Celia agrees, using her key to let them into the building.
GM: “Well. Not really lost.”
“Thinks he did.”
“That’s really fucked up.”
“Really really fucked up.”
Celia: “It’s what we have to do. To keep the family out of it. So that people don’t use you against us.”
“I wish she hadn’t told you about Stephen.”
GM: “Eh, why not.”
“Woulda brought it up, but uh.”
“Just so much shit tonight.”
“It’s… complicated with us right now, and I’m fine with you knowing about my shit, I just didn’t want to drag anyone else into it.”
GM: “Glad for you that your boyfriend’s not dead. You and him clicked way more than Randy.”
Celia: “We did,” she agrees.
She locks the door behind them, leading Emily through the space to the break room. She excuses herself and is back a moment later with what looks like a boho bag (long since decorated to not resemble a face) and two bags of blood.
“So I’m not sure how this’ll work, but I think I’m gonna… add the alcohol, mix it all together, heat it, and drink.”
GM: “Hel’ yourshelf,” says Emily while chewing on another slider.
“Don’ like drinkin’ ’lone.”
Celia: Celia giggles at Emily and does as she said, mixing a handful of shots into the blood and giving it a good shake. She makes the appropriate “shaken, not stirred,” joke in a bad rendition of that guy who made it famous, heats it into a cup, and finally pours it into the “bag.”
“Bottoms up, I think,” she says, lifting the stolen skin to her lips to pierce the skin with her fangs.
It’s… not what she expected.
Not that she really knows what she expected.
It’s blood, certainly. But it’s not just blood, and the taste on her tongue reminds her of trying to force down her mother’s cooking. In a bad way. Ash. Char. Like whiskey that’s been kept in a barrel too long, or bourbon that’s been filtered through charcoal. Burnt blood. None of the sweet or sour tang that she’s used to when she drinks from vessels, but an entirely unique experience. Her Beast recognizes that this isn’t just blood, that there’s something else in it, and it rails at her that she’s poisoning herself.
Maybe she is.
She can’t get nauseous, not really, but the way her stolen stomach clenches certainly reminds her of what that used to be like. The bloody alcohol slides down her throat to her stomach and her body filters it like it would any other human food substance, stripping the blood to send into her body and depositing the straight booze into that pouch she’d transplanted. She feels it slosh when she moves.
She wiggles, listening for the sound of sloshing, and thinks she might hear it. She giggles at the thought of sloshing. Giggles at the thought of this secret compartment inside of herself that her Beast has no say over because it’s not hers, not really, and even though her Beast rebels at the taste it likes the sanguine part of the fare, at least, and the more she swallows the more it purrs until it’s nothing but a sleeping kitty in her chest. She giggles again at the mental image of that, then once more when she thinks about how her body is mostly empty, and the friend that said she’d show her how to make a prison pocket (as if Celia needs to, but she thinks it’ll still be handy, won’t it? and she really needs to get together with her because she—ah, fuck, she doesn’t care, not tonight).
Celia drains the bag, licking her lips. She flips it inside out and licks the sides, making sure to get every last drop.
And then she looks to Emily, eyes slightly unfocused, and says in a decidedly slurred voice,
“I’thinkit work. Work-duh. Work-edd. Work-edd-duh. Wooooorked.”
“Em. Emi. Y’know how… enemas, right?”
“S’like an enema.”
“C’you hear it?” Celia totters over to her, wiggling back and forth.
GM: Celia feels her artificial stomach clench. She is going to have to purge it, sooner or later.
“Huh. Wow. You got drunker than me way faster,” says Emily. She’s chewing through another slider.
“Is it ‘cause it’s… absorbed into your blood, that much faster, or somethin’?”
“Like, how’s it work with vampires, if your body’s dead?”
She motions at the bag.
“Also, th’ hell’s that thing?”
“An’, yeah, I know what a ’nema is.”
“I helped give Robby one for buttsex.”
“No, maybe I didn’.”
“Cause who cares if you get shit on the strap-on, right?”
“Well. I mean. Do care.”
“Take carea your toys’n all.”
“And poop bits durin’ sex not very sexy.”
“Just a bigger deal for guys when it’s poop bits on their wiener, y’know?”
“I don’ want poop bits on my lady bits.”
“So, they don’ wan’ poop bits on their boy bits, I get it. I geeeet it.”
Celia: “Nnnnnno. No. NO,” Celia says pointing at Emily. Or where she thinks Emily is.
“S’not… snot, ha, s’not in the, um, the blood, so it’s… I skipp’d… wai—wait, I don’ have a… a…”
She points at her belly, then looks up at Emily.
“Whu’? I dun’ poop.”
“Lucky. Not missin’ much.”
“Though kinda a nice feelin’, after it’s all out, sometimes.”
Celia: Celia nods, but it’s hard for her to remember what that feels like.
GM: “Did you an’ Stephen ever do buttsex?”
Celia: The question makes her guffaw. It’s a completely unexpected unladylike sound, and she follows it with more laughter that makes her double over, shaking her head back and forth, back and forth.
“Nnnno. He’s a, a—” she lifts her head, looking at Emily, “he’s vaaaaannilla.”
“HE’S a buttsex.”
GM: Emily smirks at first, then guffaws too as Celia’s laughter builds. The two laugh and laugh before Emily takes another swig of tequila.
“Vanilla, that is.”
“Buttsex was my idea.”
Celia: Her vision swims. She thinks, perhaps, she overdid the alcohol in the blood. It shouldn’t be sitting in her stomach like this. That’s not how it usually works.
“S’fun. I like it.”
GM: “Yeahhh. ’M kinkier than him,” Emily grins, biting into another slider.
She holds up a finger.
“But. But! Not too kinky.”
Celia: “All the—” Celia shushes.
GM: “Well. Like.”
“‘M open-minded. Into new things. Like spicin’ things up.”
“Don’ mind talkin’ ’bout sexy stuff. Kinky stuff.”
“But, was this guy I knew once.”
“Kinda friends. Friendly with. Casual… friends. Friendly. Y’know?”
Celia: Celia bobs her head up and down.
GM: Emily takes another swig of tequila.
“So, like, he’s really into kinky sex.”
“Lotta B, D, S&M stuff.”
Celia: “Beedsum,” Celia says, nodding.
GM: “An’ like it’s cooool, I dig it, I’m cool talkin’ ’bout it.”
“‘Cause I’m cool.”
“I’m cool, right?”
Celia: “Very cool.”
“Very cool,” she says again, putting a hand on her shoulder for emphasis.
GM: Emily nods sagely and takes another bite of slider.
“So, yeah, ’m cool, he knows.”
“An’ it’s fun at first, talkin’ ’bout kinky shit.”
“Some people, inch, mile, y’know?”
GM: “Open door, never close?”
She gestures vaguely.
Celia: “Whadde do?”
GM: “Jus’. Wouldn’ stop talkin’ ’bout it, wimme.”
“Like. Alla time.”
“Sex sex sex sex sex.”
“Well. Kinky stuff.”
GM: “Lotta it wasn’ actually sex.”
Celia: “Boys’re, they’re gross.”
GM: Emily nods.
“Think I’d become. Uh. Way he was gettin’ off.”
“Wait was he cute?”
GM: “Uhhh.” Emily thinks. “Cute ’nough, I guess.”
Celia: “Did you sell ’im nuuuudes?”
GM: Emily giggles.
“Like. I thought this was, platonic.”
“Well. Platonic. With maybe some flirtin’.”
“Not really serious flirtin’.”
Celia: “Uh uh, see, once y’… once y’open door, nev-uh—neverrr stops.”
GM: “An’, y’know, look, ‘m open-minded, if he got off to what we were talkin’ about, cool, is cooooool.”
“But moderation. Y’know?”
“Jus’ wouldn’ shut up.”
Celia: Celia nods again.
GM: “Wouldn’ lemme alone. ‘Eeeeemily, Eeeeeemily, talk ’bout kinky sex wimme!’”
“Like fuck off, ’m not your porn machine.”
Celia: “Whatchu do?”
GM: “Uhhh, basically tol’ him, knock it off, an’ he got kinda assholish.”
“Didn’ knock it off, sorta ‘pologized, but kept tryin’ to bring it up.”
“An’, like, whole thing felt kinda phony, after that. Gamin’ me, wantin’ to talk more ‘bout sex, when he thought I wouldn’ mind, y’know?”
Celia: “Didju ditch ’em?”
Celia: “Goo’, goo’, fuck ’im.”
GM: Emily takes a long swig of tequila.
Celia: “I thin’, Emmmmmiii, I thin’ I, uh, over… over boozed the, the blood.”
Celia: Celia’s face lights up.
GM: “Okay,” Emily grins dumbly between more slider.
Celia: “C’mon, c’mon, gotta show you the, the lab! The lab!”
GM: “There’s a lab?” Emily asks, half to herself.
Celia: Celia rises on unsteady feet, staring down at her heels as if they’re personally to blame for the state of things. She kicks them off one at a time, then meanders down the hall toward Jade’s suite.
GM: Emily gets up, carrying the tequila and sack of remaining sliders with her.
She giggles as Celia kicks off her shoes.
“You looked soooooooo weird with those in Krystal.”
Celia: “You looked weird,” Celia says back.
GM: “Uh. Wai’, no.”
“Sometimes see strippers an’ streetwalkers in stripper heels, there.”
“But it’s like, that or flats.”
Celia: “M’I stripper?”
“S’why you stood out.”
GM: “Liiiiike, they’re either ginormous stripper heels, or flats.”
“Don’ get any in-betweens, there.”
Celia: “Maaaaaaybe I’mma classy stripper.”
GM: “Thas’ cool, tha’ sounds very cool.”
“I wanna be one. When I grow up.”
Celia: The boozy blood, meanwhile, has started to mix with her system. She’s not sober by any stretch of the word, but at least her BAC has (probably) gone down to a less “sloppy drunk” level.
“I’d be, no, we’d be! We’d be classy strippers.”
Celia takes Emily past the Tranquility Room and into what Lucy has referred to numerous times as the “green room” for all the plants that Celia keeps here. Not many of them are florals, but she has snake plants and peace lilies and a parlor palm and a Chinese evergreen and a rose painted calathea and a little table with succulents sticking out of various cute containers that she’s collected over the years, and a tiny jade plant sits near the sink in her room. A collection of Lucy’s artwork hangs along one wall, but the majority of the room is greenery. It’s not quite as striking as walking into Bloom Couture or standing in her grandsire’s rooftop garden, but being in this sea of plants when she has the waterfall plugged in and the fairy lights twinkle overhead and the humidifier or aroma therapy going… It’s like walking into another world.
Celia leads Emily toward the closet in her room, opening it to pull out an empty hamper where the sheets go between clients, and moves a few things out of the way. Then, finally, she reaches for the tiny, imperceptible latch, twists a key, and opens the door with a flourish.
GM: Emily’s been in there her share of times, often to admire Lucy’s artwork. She’s never had any business in the closet, though, until now. She stares inside and goes,
Celia: Celia beams at her.
The room beyond does not match the rest of the spa’s motif. It’s a combination spa and medical lab, with a stone table in the center of it and a drain on either side of the floor, long hoses that can be used to wipe down the station in a gif, and a free-standing cooler off to one side. She doesn’t keep anything particularly secret or risque in that one. A stainless steel cart full of various supplies sits next to the cooler, and there’s shelving with an assortment of other necessities. The air is chillier than the rest of the spa and the light overhead leaves no shadows in the room.
“This is it.”
GM: “Whoaaa,” Emily repeats, looking around after she steps through the closet.
“This, like. Secret lab.”
“’Cause. Walk through a closet.”
Celia: Celia giggles too.
GM: “Lucy loves the shit outta those books.”
Celia: “I ’member.”
GM: “’Cause the girl. Got her name, too.”
“Watcha do here?”
“This where you have lesbian sex with ’Lana?” she asks, wiggling her eyebrows.
Celia: Even in her drunken fugue, Celia recalls the last time they’d talked about Narnia. Her mom’s house. Randy had been there. She’d been riding a high that time, too.
She blinks at it’s gone, the memory dancing away in the wake of the question.
“Didju… how’dju know?”
GM: “Duuuude,” says Emily, taking another swig from the bottle.
“She has the hugest thing for you.”
“Like. Huge. Real big. Reeeeaaaal huge.”
Celia: “Oooh… yes.”
GM: “An’ you said sex with Lena.”
GM: “Like. Reeeaaal close.”
Celia: Celia crosses her arms, nose in the air. “So we fuck, it’s chill.”
“Wait dun’ tell Mom.”
GM: “Oh. Yeah. Def not.”
“’S cool wimme anyway.”
“Even if she’s kinda a bitch.”
“Don’ think she likes me much.”
Celia: “Nah she’s jus’… jelly.”
“Dun’ tell her you know ’bout this.”
GM: “We ain’ fuckin’, why she jelly?”
Celia: “’Cause a the bond.”
GM: “Ohhh, she a… renfield.”
“Was gonna ask.”
Celia: Celia nods.
GM: “Whuzza bond, ’gain?”
“Did you ’splain earlier?”
“Feel you maybe did.”
“Lotta shit to take in. An’ I’m real drunk.”
Celia: She shrugs. “I dunno. S’when you drink the blood withou’ coolin’ so it makes you like people.”
GM: “Oh. Thas’ nifty.”
Celia: “S’like in… infatu… shun.”
GM: “Yeah she’s fuckin’ obsessed wi’ you.”
Celia: “Yeah we’re gon’ bang later.”
“Dun’ tell Mom.”
GM: “Ohhhh,” Emily nods sagely.
“Cross m’ heart.”
Celia: “Dun’ tell Daaaani.”
GM: “Wuzzit to Dani.”
Celia: “Or—or Stephen.”
“‘Cuz she’d tell ’im.”
GM: “Uhhh. Think you should be honest ’bout that.”
Celia: “Tha’s wha’ they said.”
GM: “Well, is’ cheatin’, if he’s not okay with it.”
Celia: “Nah, nah, gimme—gimme your phone, I’ma, I’ma call ’im.”
GM: Emily unlocks and hands it over.
Celia: Celia stares down at the phone in her hands.
“Oh my god,” she whispers with a giggle, “we shou’ prank, prank call ’im.”
GM: Emily giggles.
“Les’ doooo it.”
Celia: “Ask—ask ‘im if, if his fridge is, is runnin’.”
GM: She plops down on the ground and chews another slider.
“D’you need, fridges?”
“Ah, dun matter.”
Celia: “Only for, uh, for blood ’n stuff.”
GM: “Whuzzis number?”
Celia: “Wai’, wai’, he dun’ know ’bout you.”
“Caller unknown. Bet.”
“S’what his phone gonna read.”
Celia: “Bu’ he gon’ recognize you?”
Celia wiggles her fingers.
GM: “Years ’go.”
“We ain’ talked in f’ever.”
Celia: “Whu… whu’do you mean years you jus’ saw ’im.”
“Guess I did.”
She nods sagely.
“Bein’ drunk don’ make me too bright.”
“Wai’, hol’ up.”
“He didn’ look like Stephen! Can’t blame me.”
Celia: “Wai’, wai’, whutchu thinka ’im?”
GM: “He dun’ look like Stephen.”
Celia: “No he saw a-a night doc.”
“D’you think he’sa buttface?”
“So much shit tonight, y’know?”
“Kinda doesn’ stand out.”
Celia: Celia nods, then dials his number in the phone for Emily.
GM: “Oh, we gonna-” Emily starts, then takes the phone.
It rings several times before she’s answered with a, “Hello?”
Celia: Celia plops down next to her sister and presses her ear against the other side of the phone.
GM: “Is your re-fridge-rator runnin’?” grins Emily.
Celia: Celia snorts, pressing a hand to her mouth to contain her giggles.
GM: “Who is this?” demands Roderick’s sharp voice.
“Well you be’er RUN’ AN’ CAAATCH IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT!” Emily screams at the top of her lungs, doubling over as she howls with laughter.
Celia: She loses it when she sees Emily lose it, dissolving into a fit of giggles as she mashes the phone’s “end call” button.
GM: Emily gives great seize-like howls of laughter between breathless heaves as she smacks her palm against the floor, over and over. The tequila bottle has toppled over. Some booze spills over the floor.
“Ooohhh, man,” says Emily, clutching her stomach.
Celia: Celia is too busy laughing to care about the spilled booze or sharp voice. She doesn’t lose her breath; it’s one long series of giggles punctuated by deep belly laughs and the occasional snort.
GM: Emily looks at Celia and then just laughs some more. She snorts and giggles and laughs her ass off.
“Ooooh… man….” she repeats.
“I’m real funny.”
Celia: Celia bobs her head in agreement, still giggling.
GM: “Th’ way I—screamed!”
She snorts down some more giggles.
“Is it runnin’!”
Celia: “Go—go catch i’!”
GM: Emily glances around for the tequila bottle.
“Oh. Whoops,” she grins.
Celia: “Em! Party foul!”
GM: “Naaaah, still a party.”
“This a total paaaarty.”
Celia: “Bes’ party.”
“We need muuuuusic.”
“Pu’ it on.”
GM: Emily takes the bottle with both hands, fits her mouth around it, and leans back to take a very long, very exaggerated pull.
There’s not a ton left in the bottle by this point, between the spill and the earlier swigs.
Celia: It’s not a very large bottle. Emily will be hungover as fuck tomorrow, but she’ll live.
GM: “Be uh. Crappy dancer. Kinda drunk.”
Celia: “Nah s’cool, s’cool, jus’ follow me.”
GM: Emily reaches in the sack for another slider and stuffs the whole thing into her mouth. Her cheeks bulge.
Celia: “Yoooou’re a-a chipmunk.”
GM: “Mmf. Mmmf.”
Celia: Celia blows air into her cheeks to show her.
GM: “Sh’ a’ b-gg!” Emily exclaims, pointing at her face as she chews.
Celia: It’s too funny not to laugh. Celia doubles over again.
GM: Seeing Celia laugh, Emily snorts out her own guffaw. It’s a muffled sound past the food in her mouth. She chokes a bit, makes some noises, then hacks it out into her hand.
“’Eeeeew!” she exclaims.
Celia: “Eeeewwwwww,” Celia agrees, but laughs even more at it.
GM: Emily looks at the half-eaten mush in her hand, then guffaws more.
“Shoul’ I put it back, or throw away?”
“Pu’ back, y’know, like, baby bird!”
“‘Cept I did. My own chewin’.”
Celia: “Eewww, Emi, no, jus’ toss it.”
GM: “Oh. Well. Is’ all like this, after we chew it.”
“An’ we swallow it.”
Emily holds it to her mouth and stuffs it back in. Some of the mushed food runs down her face.
Celia: “S’gross, food is gross.”
GM: She chews for a few moments with a somewhat nonplussed expression.
“Don’ recommend, takin’ it out like that.”
“Food’s awesome. Hangover gonna hurt less.”
Celia: “Need water.” Celia nods sagely, as if she has ever dealt with one.
“Hey, hey, whu time izzit?”
GM: “Uh. I ’unno,” says Emily.
“Hey, you wanna show me stuff?”
“Or jus’ Narnia.”
Celia: “You go’ the phone.”
“You gon’ ’member if I do?”
GM: “Uhhh. Dunno.”
Emily looks at the phone.
“Is uh, roun’ 3.”
Celia: “Oh. Y’think you coul’be sober’n hour?”
Celia: “Go’a meet s’mone.”
GM: “You wanna, me, mee’ somebody?”
Celia: Celia nods. “Mee’im at, at four.” She holds up four fingers.
GM: “Celia, ‘m really drunk an’ really…”
She waves a finger.
Celia: “Oh okay. We go home?”
“I don’ wanna walk.”
Celia: “C’mon, I get us a Ryde.”
GM: “Too much walkin’. Car walkin’. Wanna stay here.”
Emily: “Here?” She giggles. “No bed here!”
GM: “Mm, I don’ mind,” yawns Emily, laying side-down against the floor.
Celia: “No, no, c’mon, there’s a couch.”
GM: “Mm. Uh.”
She rests her cheek against the floor for a moment.
“Maybe I do.”
“Dicks are hard.”
Celia: Celia giggles with her.
“You’re silly. C’mon, I’ll show you.”
She rises, then bends back down to lift Emily to her feet. There’s a couch in her office for situations like these.
Not that she’s used it for much besides sex.
Except that time she was working late and slept beneath it.
GM: “’M not silly. ’M very serious,” declares Emily as Celia helps her up.
Celia: “Ser’us bizniss.”
GM: “’M, ’zatafact,” agrees Emily. She bonks her head against the closet as they walk back through ‘Narnia’.
“Owww,” she groans. She glares up at it.
Celia: “Fuck ’im,” Celia agrees, rubbing her head for her.
GM: “Jesus lion,” mutters Emily.
Celia: Still reeling herself, it’s an effort to move in a straight line to get Emily to the closet door and into the room beyond. She manages, though, and they stop off in the Vichy room so Emily can rinse the vomit, sweat, and other signs of disgust from her. Celia leads her up the stairs to her office when she’s clean, wrapped in a towel, and hands her a set of clothes.
GM: Emily looks at the table blearily, strips off her clothes, and collapses onto it. She gives a contented “aaahhhhh” as the warm water luxuriates over her.
She lets it run for a while.
“Aaaahhh…” she sighs.
She closes her eyes.
She stops moving.
After a little while, Celia can hear her snoring.
Celia: “Oh,” Celia says.
“‘kay you sleep there, I’ll move you later.”
GM: Light snores under the still-running water are her only reply.
Celia: Celia shuts the water off and finds a handful of towels for Emily, using one to cover her body and another rolled beneath her head as a pillow.
She makes sure Emily’s head is turned to one side, just in case of vomiting.
“You sleep, Emi. You sleep.”
She dims the light as she leaves the room, locking it behind her.
The time with Emily was nice, but it can’t last forever. She has monsters to get back to.