“I love you. I don’t care what else happens.”
Friday night, 18 March 2016, AM
GM: The tiger’s frenzy might last for a second. It might last for a thousand years. Time loses meaning in the sea of red. The tiger likes this place.
When the red fog clears, tiger’s face is pressed flat against a tree. So is the rest of its body, from its neck down to its chest. Its paws are awkwardly splayed in the air. It can’t move. It feels a monstrously strong human-shaped weight pressing into its back, holding it in place against the tree.
“Right,” comes Roderick’s tight voice. “You don’t feel apeshit anymore. Turn back into a human and I’ll let you down.”
“Or at least a lick.”
“Is, is that…?” comes Dani’s voice.
“A lick? Yeah. Some of us can turn into animals,” answers her brother. “First time I’ve seen one become a tiger, though.”
“Jesus, that thing was terrifying,” says Dani.
Celia: The tiger doesn’t like this position pressed up against the tree. It’s unnatural. Painful, even, with its limbs stretched every which way and the weight of a body behind it. A familiar body. A boy that another cat knows.
The feline instincts run strong. It chuffs at the boy, tail flicking, and then it shifts. Its body twists and shrinks, its stripes spreading out across its body until the fur remains a single color, lightening to a dark gray from solid black.
Luna meows at her boy.
GM: A mortal man might stumble at the sudden disappearance of the big cat’s bulk and weight, but Roderick just lithely catches the smaller feline in his arms. The cat gets a look at him. He looks bad. His clothes are shredded tatters, there’s blood all over him from head to toe, and the mask is torn too. It’s now obviously a mask, as bits of his real face peak out.
He blinks upon recognizing the cat.
“C-Jade?!” he exclaims, catching himself.
Celia: Luna takes stock of her boy, then the girl behind him. Irritation surges through her tiny little body. He’s hers. Hers to protect. Someone hurt him, and she’s going to make them pay. She rubs her face against his chin, then twists again, looking past him for the bodies of Carolla and the goon.
GM: Both of them lie in heaps on the ground. As bad as Roderick looks, Carolla looks worse. His throat is a shredded ruin and his stomach’s actually been ripped open, replete with guts hanging all out. The torpid vampire’s eyes stare blankly into the night sky.
Celia: The cat hisses at his corpse, ears flat against her head.
GM: His ghoul lies equally motionless, but his guts are still inside his torso. Dani is bent over him. A handgun rests nearby on the very, very red grass. The cat can just smell the blood. It suffuses the entire scene like a primordial perfume.
He cuts her off. “Shit, don’t use our names!”
“He’s not gonna make it!” says Dani.
GM: Roderick drops the cat, then bends to one knee over the fallen ghoul. He bites his wrist and holds it to the man’s mouth.
Celia: Jade shifts again, barefoot in the grass, and launches herself at Roderick.
GM: Her lover’s lightning-faster and brutally stronger arms snap out and slam her to the ground like she’s nothing.
Celia: “He tried to murder you both,” Celia snarls at him.
GM: Roderick lets the blood flow into the ghoul’s mouth. His eyes have barely had a chance to open before the Brujah’s fist descends against his head, and then he’s out again.
“Wait, why did you…” starts Dani.
“He’ll be unconscious for a while,” says Roderick. “Won’t remember this fight, either.”
“Wait, that’s not how knocking people out works,” frowns Dani. “Hollywood m-”
Roderick shakes his head. “It’s a trick of the Blood. He’ll forget.”
Celia: Celia climbs back to her feet, eyes moving back and forth between the siblings.
“We need to go. Now.”
GM: “We do,” Roderick says tightly. “We need to take care of his car. Where’s yours?”
Celia: “Taken care of.”
GM: “Fuck. Look at all this blood. We need to cover this up.”
“There were gunshots,” says Dani. “I don’t know we’ll have time. If there’s Gangrel in this park like you say. Those were LOUD.”
Celia: “Put the bodies in the car. I’ll take care of that. You use your speed and scrub it.”
GM: “Are you going to try to kill him again?” Roderick asks.
Celia: Celia glares at him.
“I wasn’t trying to kill him.”
GM: “I’m not doing that again,” he says flatly. “Doesn’t matter who. I’m not killing again.”
Celia: “I’m not going to kill him. We don’t have time to argue.”
GM: “Right. Taking them to our car. Back as fast as I can.” Roderick hefts his sister (who gives a started sound) and the ghoul over his shoulders in firemen’s carries, and then he’s gone in a blur.
Friday night, 18 March 2016, AM
Celia: There’s a brief moment of indecision as he goes. He’d taken off the same way as Carolla’s car. Of course they used the same lot; how hadn’t she noticed his car when they’d arrived? What was she paying attention to instead? The thug in front of her, probably.
How long does it take to drain the body to the point that Caroline had told her about?
Longer than she has, she bets.
She could try it anyway. Maybe she should. She bends—
And hears a footstep behind her. The decision is taken from her when she looks up to see the two ghouls she’d summoned from the car finally arrive. Her hackles had been up the entire ride after Carolla smacked her around, and she’s glad she’d texted them when she did. Late to the fight, but just in time to be of some use.
“Take him. Get the blood off him. Go. You know where. Don’t let anything happen to him. Go. Hurry.”
GM: “Uh, gonna take a while to get off this much blood…” says Randy.
Reggie just grunts and hefts up the body.
Celia: Is this the right thing?
Or should she leave the body with Roderick? Let him taste that blood first hand?
She should, shouldn’t she? That’s what Savoy would want. What her sire would want.
Then what? How will she get it from him later?
She won’t. She won’t let him take it at all.
“This way,” she says instead. Toward the SUV.
GM: The brothers follow after her, torpid body held aloft.
Celia: “There’s a car. We need to get rid of it.” A quiet explanation, only the need to know.
GM: “Okay, there’s chop shops,” says Reggie.
Celia: “Mafia related. Can’t get back to us.”
GM: “Shit, really?”
Celia: Could take it to Shep, but what if he recognizes it?
GM: The three are interrupted as Roderick blurs to a stop in front of them.
He looks at the ghouls. “Can they help?”
Celia: “Yeah, that’s what I’m explaining to them now.”
GM: He shakes his head. “Stupid question.” He moves to relieve them of the body.
Celia: “They’ve got it.”
“We need to clean. They’re not as fast.”
“And they need to get out of here. Take the two cars. Randy can leave his keys. We scrub. Anyone comes by we just say we’re fucking. Explains the blood.”
“Randy will go with Dani. Reg, van.”
“Or she can drive your car. Give them your keys.”
GM: Roderick considers her plan, then nods.
“She’s already got them. I’ll text her to take off.” He pulls out his phone and taps away.
“A’ight. Same plan.” Reggie and Randy head off with the body.
Celia: They know where to go.
Celia makes sure to get Randy’s keys before he leaves.
Nothing like being stranded.
GM: “We can’t hide this completely,” says Roderick. His form blurs, and then he’s picked up several spent shell casings from the grass.
He tucks them in his pocket. “Too hard outdoors.”
“Maybe we should actually fuck, though. Get our blood everywhere.”
Celia: She does what she can, following his lead with her own burst of speed, picking up any stray articles she finds.
She pauses at his words.
“Yeah? Think it’ll help?”
GM: “Dunno, but it’s that or try to get out all the blood from everywhere.”
“Wait, we could pretend we were playing Nines. Explain the gunshots.”
Celia: “You don’t think the kine will wonder?”
She doesn’t say no, though.
GM: “Probably will.”
Celia: She wishes they had a Tremere right about now.
“Enough to get us in trouble?”
“Six Nines. I was the kidnapped lick. He took off after losing, you and I fucked.”
“Maybe better not to mention him.”
GM: Roderick shakes his head. “Rather not have him attached to us at all.”
He pulls out the shell casings. “Okay, these ones are from Dani’s semiauto, these others are… god fucking damn it, why did that guy bring a rifle? Mobsters don’t even use those!”
Roderick’s gone in another blur, then he’s back with another gun.
Celia: She starts to explain that he was trying to kill Roderick, but the Brujah is gone and back before she can open her mouth. Her eyes fix on the gun.
GM: “Took this from your ghouls. Someone who really knows guns and heard those shots might be suspicious when these casings don’t match the sounds, but not much we can do about that.”
“You don’t use rifles in Nines either.”
Celia: “How fast are you?” she blurts.
“I assume enough licks don’t use guns to know it doesn’t match. We’ll do what we can to cover it.”
GM: “Not fast enough to do that all the time. It’s giving me munchies. Bad. On top of that fight.” He grimaces.
Celia: “You gonna go postal?”
GM: “I’ll hold it in.”
Celia: She just nods.
GM: “Fuck. Maybe this whole thing is a dumb idea. More gunshots to get more spent casings is just making this worse.”
Celia: “Then let’s just clean it up and dip. I don’t know what else we can do.”
“What do you guys do after the games? How do you hide it?”
GM: “I don’t know either! But those gunshots happened and Carolla still came here. Nines is one way to explain it, but licks have to know it was us for it to actually seem like that and not just a random shooting, and that connects us to the place Carolla last was.”
“Fuck. Maybe I’m being paranoid wanting to explain all of that and the blood too, but I’d rather be too careful than not careful enough.”
Celia: “No. You’re right. We need to handle all aspects.”
Not to mention being seen together.
GM: “You think we should try to scrub as much as we can or stage it as Nines or what?”
Celia: “Cleaning up after Nines.”
Briefly, she explains. It already looks like they’re cleaning up from a game, trying not to draw notice from any breathers. Protecting the Masquerade and all that. They’ve got the shells in their pockets, they’re working on cleaning up their spilled blood… but it’s blood, you know, and they’re two horny neonates, and they got a little carried away, and Torrie Beasts only ever want to fuck anyway, so they did, and now they’re just scrubbing away the evidence of their tryst.
Because she has to assume that Anarchs don’t play their games and just abandon the sight.
GM: “All right. So you want someone to see us here?” he asks.
“That’s the only thing that will really cement Nines as a story.”
Celia: “Then everyone knows about us.”
GM: “If we don’t it’s just a random act of violence that somebody made an effort to up.”
“I have my mask, but obviously it’s not perfect anymore.”
“God damn it. What I’d give to be able to change faces right now like a sewer rat.”
Celia: “What, to bail, or to not get caught together?”
GM: “To get caught, looking like two licks who aren’t actually us.”
Celia: “Got a frame job in mind? Or two randoms?”
GM: He shakes his head. “Doesn’t matter. I don’t know how to veil.”
Celia: She’s going to throttle him if she has to ask what he wants one more time.
“I do. So tell me.”
GM: He raises his eyebrows, but answers, “Two randoms is easier. Anyone we try to frame might have an alibi.”
“Or, actually, we could make one Carolla. His blood is actually here.”
“Wait, no. That’s a pretty advanced veiling trick.”
“Two randoms, then.”
Celia: Celia nods. She turns away while he continues to talk. Her fingers blur across her face, then the side of her head. Her form flickers, blurring as the shadow dancing takes hold, just something to misdirect his eyes while she molds her skin like putty. It’s quick. When she turns again she’s not Celia anymore. She’s not Jade anymore. She’s someone else. Cute, but fuller cheeks and missing half the hair on the side of her head, like a buzz cut. All the rage these days, that style. Goes with her leathers, too, so she doesn’t even look out of place.
“Hold still,” she says, reaching out to him. Another burst of speed, but a smaller one this time. Blood coats her fingers. She murmurs while she works, a string of vaguely Latin-sounding words that may or may not be an actual language but sure as hell sound like something out of a medical textbook. Her fingers move against the mask that he still wears, smoothing out the torn pieces, altering it to look like the thug they’d just beaten the fuck out off.
Her Beast doesn’t even give a fuck. It’s still riding the high that she’d beaten the shit out of the douchebag she’s now looking at, pleased that she had let it out of the cage.
GM: He touches the mask, then stares at her, and reaches out to touch the shaved side of her head.
“That’s not shadow dancing.”
Celia: “No,” she agrees. She hesitates. Then, “Surprised?”
GM: “It explains the Jade face, too.”
“And how you’re also good at shapeshifting.”
Celia: “Yeah.” She reaches for his hand. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.”
GM: “Why didn’t you?”
“I’m not just another lick. I wouldn’t try to use it against you.”
He sounds hurt.
Celia: “We were broken up. And it never seemed like a good time for it, lately, with everything going on. I didn’t know how to bring it up. There’s… a lot I didn’t know how to bring up, and I… I was going to talk to you about it tonight, when we got back, because things are getting really serious again and I don’t… I don’t want to lie to you about anything.”
“I was going to tell you before. A few years ago. I told you that you couldn’t tell anyone, and then you said ‘Maybe don’t then, I know how secretive night doctors can be,’ and…” she trails off.
GM: “You said knowing a night doctor was the secret. That there was a night doctor who owed you.”
Celia: Not-Celia looks away. Technically she’d just let him draw his own conclusions and said she wouldn’t confirm anything, but it doesn’t seem the sort of thing she should point out.
“We broke up before I got a chance to tell you.”
“And… I was going to. Tonight. Like I said.”
“Your si—” she cuts off before she finishes the word. “We had a talk tonight. In the car. She said that it seemed like I was still bitter and carrying a lot of baggage around because of everything before, and we’d never really aired it out, and I realized she’s right. I’m still holding part of myself away because… because it hurt. It hurt so much when you left. And it took so long to put myself back together and not mope and wait in my haven, watching the door, waiting for you to come back, praying that you’d come back, and then… and then you did, when I called, you did, and I’m still… good things don’t happen to me, they don’t, I’m just waiting for the moment it all falls apart again, and then she said that I just… I knew I didn’t want to be like that. It can’t be like that. We can’t be together with all this built up fear and paranoia and hurt and grief, I can’t be half-in because I think one night you’re going to wake up and realize you’re just better than me and don’t want to slum it because you won’t. You’re not like that.”
She wipes at her eyes. Her fingers come away red.
“So I was going to. To tell you. A lot of things. Because I don’t want us to be like every other lick in the city. I want what we had. Something real.”
She finally looks away.
“I just needed to get out of my own way and stop being afraid.”
GM: She feels her lover’s arm encircle her, as strong as ever but oh so gentle. He tilts her face up by the chin to meet his gaze.
“You don’t need to be afraid,” he says softly. His face is Carolla’s, but the expression on it is utterly at odds with the mafioso Celia knew only scant hours ago. There’s no mistaking them for the same person. “Okay? You don’t need to be afraid.”
“I’m sorry what I did to you when we broke up. I’m sorry I hurt you. I’m sorry what that did, what I did, to our relationship and how I made you believe you couldn’t tell the truth without getting dumped and physically beaten. I’m sorry I made you afraid to be honest. I’m sorry I made you afraid of me. It was shitty of me and I don’t have any excuse. I’d give anything to take it back.”
Celia: She wishes they were Stephen and Celia again, not William Carolla and Not-Celia. That they were in her haven and not the middle of the park with a crime scene to clean up. That she didn’t have a handful of other things to come clean about, so many lies that she doesn’t even know where to begin.
She tries not to think about it. She doesn’t want to think about it. It’s a problem for future Celia.
Celia presses her face against her boyfriend’s chest. No matter who she looks like and who he looks like, they’re still that.
“I… I have a lot to tell you.” The words are whisper-soft. “Promise me you won’t be mad later. Please. I hate being afraid of losing you.”
GM: He gives her another squeeze.
“I know. Dani told me about your conversation in the car. I figured… well, I suppose I didn’t figure anything. There’s just been so much else going on and I was happy just to have you back.”
“I can’t promise I won’t get mad at anything. But I do promise I won’t hurt you like I did last time, and that I won’t let my feelings ruin our relationship again.”
Celia: She’s quiet for a long moment.
“I love you,” she finally says. “I’m sorry I was afraid.” She touches a hand to the side of his face, thumb soft against his lips.
“Not to change the subject… but we should either fuck to sell the story or get out of here.”
GM: “I love you too. But we should get caught, with these faces. Cleaning up our game.”
“Or I guess fucking, that sounds more believable.”
“And makes us look kind of dumb, too.”
Celia: “If we get in trouble for this I’m going to be so salty,” Celia mutters, but she’s already pulling her shirt over her head.
GM: Roderick smirks and leaves his on. “They’re bloody enough.”
Then he tackles her to the grass and pierces her skin with his fangs.
Celia: Well that’s all she needs to get in the mood. She arches into him, keeping her breather reaction under control—few enough licks in the city get off that way—and sinks her teeth in to whatever part of him she can reach.
GM: The lovers know passion in one another’s arms (though Roderick still makes sure not to drink her blood before it’s cooled) until two Kindred appear on the scene. Jordan Petrowski, who Roderick mention was present at the Cypress Grove Massacre, and Ed Zuric, who Jade has seen in the French Quarter.
“Jesus H. Christ…” mutters Petrowski.
Celia: Celia thinks that maybe this is the face of a girl who had once been named Cici, and Cici doesn’t care if they’re being watched. She only stops if “Carolla” does, casting a glance at the two who’d happened upon them. She’d been a little rougher with him than normal, urging him to do the same (“he seems the type”), and her body wears the marks of their rough sex. She giggles, pointing out their audience to Carolla.
GM: ‘Carolla’ smirks up at the two Gangrel.
“Were those gunshots yours?” glares the gray-haired professor.
Celia: “We jus’ playin’.” A little more of a nasal whine than usual, the type of bitch who’s had her nose broken a time or two for getting lippy.
GM: Zuric rolls his eyes.
Petrowski shakes his head.
“You folks are lucky it’s not Meadows who found you. Go on, get.”
Celia: “Yeah, yeah,” Cici mumbles, pulling away from Carolla so she can find her shirt. “Jus’ blowin’ off steam. We’s goin’. C’mon, Willy, there’s better places to bone.”
She yanks her clothes on, makes a small scene about not being able to find her boots (“some pervert is prolly jackin’ off to ’em right now”) and stomps off.
GM: “The johnny laws are gettin’ your names and faces if there’s any shit over this,” says Zuric, rolling his eyes again.
‘Carolla’ just gives a thuggish glare.
Celia: Cici doesn’t even bother slowing down. She tosses her hair, scoffs, and keeps going, muttering about busybodies.
GM: That part’s not even a lie.
All she’d wanted was a romp of good sex in the park.
Friday night, 18 March 2016, AM
GM: ‘Carolla’ follows Celia off.
“You have any idea where his car is?” he mutters.
“Ah, wait, shit. Keys.”
Celia: “Yep.” Celia leads the way, grateful to put the park, the scene, and the Gangrel behind them.
“What about them?”
She holds up the keys she’d gotten from Randy.
GM: He smiles with relief. “Oh, that’s right. Perfect. Didn’t want to have to smash in a window and deal with a car alarm too.”
“I guess we’ll try cars until one unlocks.”
He takes the keys and heads over to the nearest vehicle.
Celia: Celia gives him a look.
“I know which car is his.”
GM: “Same reason you were here in the park too?” he asks.
Celia: “…Randy left his car for us, I’m real confused what you’re on about.”
GM: “Wait, I thought you meant Carolla’s car. He probably had his keys.”
“I don’t want to leave it here.”
Celia: “Reg took it.”
“Weren’t you listening?”
GM: “Yes. It wasn’t clear whose cars you meant. But whatever, this works almost as well.”
Celia: “You were distracted by how cute I am, it’s okay.”
GM: “Always,” he smirks, getting in the car after she points it out. He waits for her to buckle her seatbelt, then pulls out of the lot.
“How did you wind up here, though? That obviously wasn’t a coincidence for a tiger to fall out of the same tree.”
“…how did you learn to morph into a tiger, while we’re at it?”
“Most I’ve seen shapeshifting licks turn into is wolves.”
Celia: Celia laughs.
“Kind of a long story, but the short of it is that Flanagan’s kid caused some trouble in Audubon Zoo, and the tiger was gonna be put down. I don’t know how much you know about shifting, but… you have to drain an animal to get their shape. Prove you’re the better predator. There’s actually a whole ritual I heard some licks do when they’re going to master another shape, real kind of Native vibe where they honor the spirit and soul, that kind of thing. Hard to do with a tiger, they’re not really local, so I couldn’t do a hunt like that. But… I mean, it was going to be put down anyway and… it seemed like a waste. I found out what company, hacked some records, snuck in during the day, bada-bing, I’m a tiger now.”
“I couldn’t really do the whole thing like some of the licks do. Could hardly release it to hunt, would have caused too much issue. But I did what I could.”
“Clawed the fuck out of me, tell you that.”
“Figured if I couldn’t even give it a fighting chance then I don’t deserve to wear its form.”
Celia touches a hand to her stomach, no doubt remembering the claws that had almost eviscerated her.
“I can’t scry,” she says after a minute. The words are almost blurted; it sounds like a confession. “I pretend I can since I’m supposed to be able to, but I never learned. Veronica used to get mad at me for it. She never… I mean she never said ‘stupid,’ but I think she was probably thinking it. And I used to wonder, you know, if that was why. Because we consider it a mental art, and my dad… but… I dunno, Pietro says most breathers are boring anyway, that their thoughts aren’t worth listening to, and I’m good at reading their bodies, and I’m just… I’m good at this. I learned this instead. I’m… I’m good at it.”
GM: Roderick listens.
“Well, that happens. Wright sucks at star mode, but he’s a better hand at mind control. I don’t envy what happened to the lick who called him a ‘discount Ventrue.’”
“It’s as I said. We’re all good at different things.”
Celia: “Guess I’m not dumb enough to say that to him. Jeeze.”
GM: “Your being able to change our faces was a LOT more useful than mind-reading would’ve been, too.”
“So foo to your sire if she thought you were stupid.”
Celia: “I still wish I could do that telepathy thing. Send you messages across the city.”
GM: “That’s a pretty advanced scrying trick from what I hear anyway. I’m just glad you could change our faces.”
“And I have heard that, about draining the animal. I didn’t know there was a ritual to it, though. That makes total sense.”
“Lot of Gangrel who say they like animals more than people.”
“There’s people who say that, too.”
Celia: “It’s easy to get sucked in when you’re shifted.”
GM: “I can attest,” he smirks.
“I think I read about that tiger in the news, too. Just such a stupid waste. It was a wild animal. It didn’t do anything that another wild animal wouldn’t have done under the same circumstances. All tigers are ‘man-eaters’ if a human gets in their faces and provokes them.”
Celia: “It was. I’m… honestly kind of surprised the kid got away with it.”
GM: Roderick frowns.
“Maybe she didn’t.”
Celia: “What do you mean?”
GM: “I just don’t see the sheriff letting something like that slide if he knew it was her.”
“What, you think he doesn’t know?”
“Did you know?”
Shit, did she just spill something on accident?
GM: “I mean, it’s possible. And I didn’t know, actually.”
“Uh, don’t tell anyone?”
GM: “I’ve heard of Edith and her kids. It’s really fucked.”
“But I won’t.”
Celia: “I feel bad for her. And them.”
GM: “I feel worse for them.”
Celia: “I think sometimes that she’s not quite all there. She’s… a lot of us, you know, we go through it. Wanting kids. Not being able to have them. Hating it. And we get past it, but she’s so… fixated.”
GM: “I wanted kids with you. Would like them. More than anything.” He looks at her meaningfully. “But that’s not in the cards. God knows I’m not going to suggest we find a couple orphans to ghoul.”
Celia: “I know.” She squeezes his hand. “I would have loved to have your children. But ghouling them…” Celia shakes her head. “We could have a childe. You know, with an E. Pop out fully formed, that’s not weird at all.”
GM: He gives her a sad smile. “It’s not the same.”
“At least you have a ton of brothers and sisters to give you nieces and nephews, though. The Garrison name looks like it’s died with Dani. At least through my dad.”
Celia: “We can be godparents. For their entire line. Make up a story about being reclusive older relatives. Real eclectic.”
GM: “Godparents would be good. Keep our distance.”
“Then again, Lucy calls you mom, doesn’t she?”
Celia: “As far as everyone knows, I am her mom.”
GM: “Technically, almost everyone. But I’m glad you have that. Really. You have a sweet kid who thinks of you as her mom, who’s actually related to you, and whose life you can be in without living with… it really is the next best thing.”
“There’s a lot of licks who’d give a lot just for that.”
Celia: “Lot of licks who would try to take it away, too.”
“That’s why…” She gestures to her face.
GM: He nods. “Right. Smart.”
“I’m sorry I told Coco. I was new, I was devastated, I wasn’t thinking.”
Celia: “I wish she didn’t know. I don’t… dislike her, Rod, you know that right? I just… she knows…”
GM: “I just had to talk about you, us, to someone. I had no one else.”
“But it was irresponsible.”
“I made her swear not to ever tell anyone else, or to play any games with them. I told her we’d be through if she tried to use innocents like your family for any purpose.”
“I thought she would be mad at me. But she just said she understood and swore by her son’s memory that she wouldn’t ever touch them or reveal who they were to other licks.”
Celia: Moisture gathers at the corners of her eyes. She wipes at them before it has a chance to overflow and spill down her cheeks.
“Thank you. For that. For them. That means… that means a lot to me. More than I can put into words.”
GM: “It means less than if I’d just kept my mouth shut and not been so emotional. But it was the best thing I could think of after the milk was spilled.”
Celia: “You can’t change the past. You can only learn from it and move forward. And you have me now. Us. When you need to talk, I’m here.”
“I’m not going anywhere.”
GM: He nods and gives her hand a squeeze. “I know.”
“Speaking of… where are your ghouls headed?”
Celia: “To strip the car. I told them to take care of it.”
GM: “Where are they dropping off Carolla?”
His voice gets an edge.
Celia: Celia shrinks against the door at the tone.
“Wha—what are you gonna do with him?”
GM: “I don’t know,” Roderick says frankly.
“Courts can’t try him. He’s a mobster with effective legal immunity.”
“But he can’t be allowed to go on preying upon people.” There’s a meaningful pause. “And I don’t just mean as a vampire.”
“Maybe stake him and bury him underground forever. The Sanctified actually believe in doing that to some criminals.”
Celia: “He’d deserve it.”
GM: “Yes. He would.”
“It’s unlife imprisonment. Seems the only realistic way to permanently curtail his crimes without simply leaving him to brighten sunrises.”
Celia: “How would you explain his disappearance..?”
GM: “Licks disappear semi-periodically without explanation.”
“Look at Evan Bourelle.”
“Lots of things that get them.”
“It’d be preferable if there was an explanation, but that also risks tipping our hand. Might be better for us just to stay as far away as possible.”
Celia: “No one can connect us to him. Those two saw this face. Except… well, the ghoul…”
GM: Roderick grimaces.
“We can’t stake him.”
“But, Celia, we’re not murderers. We don’t kill because it’s convenient.”
“We can say it’s for a just cause, but what do reasons matter if our actions are the same?”
Celia: “He had the gun trained on your sister,” Celia says quietly. “He didn’t care that you didn’t look like you, or that you didn’t even smell like a lick, he was going to kill you both because it might be you.”
GM: “You think I don’t know that?”
“You think I don’t have any idea what these people are capable of?”
“What fucking animal scumbags they are? How much misery and suffering they cause?”
“I’m sure he’d have killed my dad and mom and anyone I’ve so much as talked with too, if he thought that would help bring me down.”
Celia: “I… I didn’t. I didn’t. I didn’t know. You told me about it but it was never… it was never real to me, just something you once said about them.”
“Why? What did you do to him? Why was he after you?”
GM: “I told you, on our first date. How they’d pick up the kids of people who crossed them from schools. Or break a ballerina’s legs if she couldn’t pay back her debts.”
“But I don’t blame you if it wasn’t real.”
“Frenzy wasn’t real to Dani until she saw, wasn’t it?”
Celia: “That’s what I mean. I’ve never been that close to it.”
GM: “Did he hurt you?” Roderick asks, suddenly looking her over again.
Celia: Celia looks away.
GM: “What happened?” he asks.
“How did you get here?”
“But, first, let me know where I’m driving.”
GM: “Okay.” He finds a place to park the car. “Change my face. I do not want him seen showing up at your spa.”
Celia: It’s less of a face change than it is simply removing his mask.
“Easy off,” she explains.
GM: He pulls it off.
“Yes. But that’s still my face underneath.”
Celia: “You want a new face?”
“So ‘Roderick’ doesn’t show up at the spa?”
GM: He nods. “We still can’t be linked.”
Celia: “Can I make you cuter?”
She’s only teasing, but she gets to work on his skin with a warning that it’s going to hurt.
“Probably don’t refer to yourself in third person,” she says as she works, “it causes disassociation.”
GM: He lays his head down on her lap and gives a hiss of pain as she starts.
“Roderick will—nh—keep that in mind.”
Celia: Maybe now is a good time to tell him that she thinks there’s more inside of her than Celia and a fake name.
Or maybe it’s a conversation for another night. How would she even bring it up?
She works quickly, moving her fingers across his flesh to sculpt him into someone else. Someone attractive, with more facial hair and a sharp jaw. Someone who looks like they could be seen with Jade as a breather or a lick. Someone whose gaze smolders and makes her want to bare her throat and—
Well. Maybe it’s better she just focus on her work.
“I made you older. Maybe Italian. I dunno. What do you think?”
GM: Roderick does not enjoy the process. She has yet to meet anyone (well, with one exception) who does. But once the grimaces and grunts of pain are over and he looks in the mirror, he raises his new eyebrows.
“Wow. That’s… effective.”
“This could make spending time together a lot easier if we can be someone different every date…”
Celia: “It usually gives me the munchies,” Celia admits. “But I can hunt more, maybe.”
GM: “I can bring juice to cover my half.”
“Seriously. This would let us go out so many more places.”
“Without worrying all the damn time about being seen together.”
Celia: “I’d like that. Going out more.”
GM: “Me too. Could even just take turns changing faces, too. It’s plausible Roderick or Jade might go on dates as part of hunting.”
Celia: “More plausible Jade is seen with a new guy every night.”
She can’t quite keep the bitterness out of her voice.
GM: “And yet, she’s going out with the same one.”
“They don’t know you as well as they think.”
Celia: She doesn’t want to lie to him, so she just smiles, kisses his cheek, and starts fixing her own face.
GM: He pulls out his phone and taps out a text as she does.
“Telling Dani to come by the spa too.”
Celia: “Are you going to tell her about me?”
GM: “What about you? That you can change faces?”
GM: “She told me how friendly this Dr. Dicentra was. Hugged her, didn’t mind she was a thin-blood, was a mentor to you. Also said you’d paid her for the mask job.”
Celia: Celia nods.
GM: “Why lie to her? She’s duskborn.”
Celia: “I lied to everyone.”
GM: “Dr. Dicentra charged me favors,” he hmphs.
Celia: Celia rolls her eyes.
“Never cashed in, did she?”
GM: “That’s normal. Lots of licks sit on them for a while.”
Celia: “What I meant was, do you really think I was going to take advantage of you like that?”
GM: “Of course not. It was just another thing to worry about when I’ve already had a lot.”
Celia: “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to add to it.”
“You don’t owe me anything. Just… don’t tell anyone it’s me.”
GM: He sighs. “It’s fine. It’s harmless. But, why lie to Dani? She’s excited to see the night doctor again. The only lick besides us who’s been really friendly to her.”
Celia: “Do you want to be the one to tell her that Dicentra was only nice because it’s me?”
“How do you… how do you tell someone something after you’ve already lied to them?”
GM: “You tell them what you lied about, why you did it, and you say you’re sorry. It might hurt at first, but it’s better for you both in the long run.”
Celia: She’ll see if he stands by that later tonight.
GM: “Dani would rather have truth than lies. All our family would.”
Celia: “Even if it’s a really bad lie?”
GM: “Especially if it’s a really bad lie.”
Celia: “I thought you might hit me. Back in the park. After I changed your face, when you looked like him, and I thought… you know, at least it’s Will doing it, at least that’s consistent.”
“It doesn’t come easy. Being honest. Not now. Not when I’ve had to lie to everyone about everything for so long, juggling two different lives, trying to remember who is supposed to know what.”
GM: “I think, after all that, it would probably feel like a weight off your shoulders just to be honest.”
Celia: “Unless they hate you for it.”
GM: “And wonder the entire time if they’d actually hate the real me, and feel like the whole relationship is fake? That sounds awful.”
“I’d rather have honest hate.”
Celia: “But I don’t want you to hate me.”
GM: “I think we hold pretty different values in that regard, Celia.”
“If someone would hate the real you, then you never had anything.”
Celia: “Why can’t you just tell me that of course you won’t hate me and you’ll hear me out before you decide my face looks better split apart?”
GM: “I did tell you that. I told you I might be angry, but also that I’d never hurt you in that same way again.”
“It’s okay for couples to get angry. The emotions are there. Better you have them out honestly than bury them and let them fester and taint everything.”
“You can’t eject them. You have to deal with them somehow.”
Celia: You can eject other people, though. Kick them out of your life and never see them again. Make them wish they’d kept their mouth shut and believed the pretty lie in their little world of pretend.
Celia doesn’t say anything for a long moment while they drive, her eyes on the window now that she has finished with her face. She supposes they’ll find out tonight if Roderick thinks he can stick around knowing who she is.
“He hurt me,” she says finally, eyes still on the lights passing by their borrowed car. “You asked earlier.”
GM: “How?” he asks.
Celia: “He was looking for my sister.” Her voice is quiet. She doesn’t look at him. “I guess he was mad at her, she crossed his uncle. He wanted to teach her a lesson. He was going to… I don’t know. Rape her. Let some kine rape her. Said she’d never leave the studio, so I figure he’d probably just kill her when he’s done. Licks disappear, right?”
“But he couldn’t find her. I thought, you know, he seems to know all these places she’s been to, all her usual hangouts, and I don’t have any proof that Meadows killed her, and I thought maybe if I went with him I could find something, like a trail or something, but there was nothing. And he was getting mad. Really mad. And I said… I don’t know, I don’t even remember, I asked something about his uncle I think, asked about what she’d done, and he… he lashed out. You know how it is. Brujah. The strength. The speed. I’m not much of a fighter on my best day.” Her attempt at a laugh is hollow. “And we were in the car. There was nowhere to run.”
“He had his hands…” Celia touches a hand to her throat. “We don’t need to breathe, I guess, but it’s still… I felt everything grinding together, and he put me…” her voice gets quieter. “I was on my knees, with my hands up, I guess I thought I could fend him off, make him stop, and he… he told me how pathetic I am. How weak. Like a woman, he said.”
She doesn’t need to explain the way he had turned it into an insult. Roderick knows all about the sexism inherent to the Mafia.
“So I tried to divert his attention from me. I offered to take him to a party because… Rod, the way he spoke about what he wanted to do with Isabel, what he’s done to other women… what if it was me? What if he just…?”
Easy to picture. Celia on her knees. Smacked around. Forced into some weird sort of Mafia-run prostitution ring. Turned into a whore for Carolla’s amusement. Unable to get out. Eventually disappearing, with no one the wiser. Who would look for a harpy’s childe?
“Everyone knows how much he hates Gui. I said he’d be at this party, that we could do something there. It made him back off. But then he said he had another idea. A better idea. That he’d been tracking ‘this asshole’ for a long time. That he was going to finally pounce. Showed me a blip on a map on his phone. So we went to the park and I started to get a really bad feeling about it, but he threw me up into that tree with his ghoul and the gun and… I saw you before he did. And I knew what he was going to do.”
Celia looks down at her hands.
“So I tried to divert his attention again. To me. To make him mad at me so he wouldn’t hurt you. The rifle was right on Dani. I know they can mend but… I wasn’t going to take the chance. I kept talking. Loudly. And he told me to stop, told me to shut up, but I didn’t, so he… pulled me over and silenced me with his hand, and since I’d pissed him off he thought he’d just break my wrists while he was at it. Both of them.”
Celia stares down at her hands, circling the wrist of her left hand with her right middle finger and thumb.
“So I started crying, because, you know, blood. He already thought I was weak, who cared if I cried. I thought maybe you’d smell it and know something was wrong. I was trying to make you turn around, or at least tip you off so you didn’t walk in blind.”
“But you kept coming.”
“I figured the tiger was my only way out. Distract him long enough so that you’d take Dani and run.”
“I should’ve known better. Of course you wouldn’t run. Even against an apeshit tiger, apparently.” She can’t help but laugh. It’s less strained than before. The danger is over. Carolla was beaten. There’d been no lasting damage, not to Celia.
“I’m fine now,” she says. “But you asked. And there are other, bigger issues it brings up.”
GM: Roderick listens and holds his tongue as he drives. The talk about Carolla slapping Celia around makes him clench his jaw and grip the steering wheel, but at this point, he looks more relieved that it’s over with and Celia is clearly safe.
“Okay,” he says slowly when she’s finished. “This raises a lot of questions.”
“First. Does he know about the Celia/Jade connection? Because that seems like a hell of a coincidence he’d bring you to go looking for Roxanne.” Roderick shakes his head. “And then go looking for me. There’s no way that’s a coincidence he’d go after two Embraced people from your mortal life, at the same time he’s dragging you along. Just no way. How did you run into him?”
Celia: “I… don’t think so?” She puts the question in her voice. “I don’t think he knows, there are only a handful of people who do know and none of them would have any reason to tell him. I don’t think he expected me to defend you. He thought it would be me, him, and his ghoul against you, so the whole tiger thing caught him by surprise.”
“As far as Roxanne… I, uh, I mean there’s nothing that links us together. He seemed like he expected me to be cool with what he was going to do to her. I guess I did kind of make fun of her on Friday and he was there for it.”
Her brow furrows.
“He said he’d been tracking you for a while…”
“Rod,” she says, reaching for his hand. “He’d been tracking you. How was he tracking you? It was like a GPS thing. He pulled it up on his phone.”
GM: Her lover frowns deeply.
“I have absolutely no idea. But we need to fix that, ASAP.”
Celia: “It couldn’t be your phone. You had a new one. And it’s not like you hang out with him.”
“Who have you been with recently?”
“Anything you wear all the time?”
GM: He shakes his head, parks the car, pulls open his phone, and starts going through it.
“I don’t see what else it could be. There’s a million ways to hack a phone. I’m not a tech expert.”
Celia: “…what if it’s inside you?”
“Like what if someone put something in you?”
“And made you forget?”
GM: He raises his eyebrows.
“It’s possible. I guess we should scan me for…” he frowns. “The spa might not be a good idea after all.”
“In case it’s the phone, though, here’s what we’ll do.”
Celia: “I can look. When we get there. Inside of you. If there’s something in you I can find it.”
“God, what if that’s how the hunters found you?”
GM: Roderick grimaces. “Only one way to find out. I’m going to hide this phone somewhere close, though, and get a new one. I’ve installed a tracking app on it.”
GM: “If it stays where it is, then okay, phone is probably fine. If someone finds it and moves it, then we’ll be the ones tracking them. I figure getting all my data will be a tempting prospect. I’ve deleted everything sensitive. I’m sure a specialist can get it back, but we’ll call that good enough for now.”
Celia: Celia nods. It’s a good plan.
GM: “As far as searching me, though, do it here.”
Celia: “I… I can’t. It hurts. A lot. And we’re out in the open. Someone might see.”
GM: “Okay. I don’t want to do it at your spa, though.”
Celia: “Then where? Anywhere we go before we find out is going to be an issue.”
GM: He thinks. “What about my old haven? It’s obviously already compromised, but it should give us privacy for a little while. We can use the tub if it’s messy.”
Celia: “What about Dani? And the bodies?”
GM: “I told her to stop by Flawless.”
Celia: “The boys should be there. Soon if not now. It’s at least extra muscle if anything dumb happens. And I have blood there. I’m riding the edge, Rod. I don’t want to risk something.”
GM: “Would you rather risk going apeshit or someone tracking me back to Flawless?”
“If you lose it I can hold you down until it passes.”
Celia: Celia rubs a hand across her face.
“I’m more worried about you losing it when I cut you open.”
GM: “Valid. You could stake me.”
Celia: “All right,” she finally relents. “I’ll let Luna out when we get close to the border.”
GM: “How’d you get her shape, by the way? If you have to kill the animal…”
Celia: “Alana found her at a shelter. It’s supposed to be a no-kill shelter, but I had her look into it a little. Apparently they get around that technicality by sending excess pets to another place to put down, so they can still claim they don’t. Good for their image. The lady at the shelter said she’d been there for a long time and they didn’t have room anymore. People only want kittens, you know?”
GM: He nods.
Celia: “I didn’t just murder a cat. I tried to… be decent about it.”
GM: Roderick effects a faint sigh.
“That’s really sad.”
“When you just think about all of those unwanted pets sitting in shelters. Or dying on the streets.”
“This is why you spay and neuter. And we still have puppy mills!”
Celia: “Everyone wants the purebred puppies with the perfect looks. One of my girls at the spa adopted a dog from a puppy mill. The mom, I mean, after she was rescued and the place was shut down. She was like 13 and had a bunch of health issues but Piper took her in and kept her comfortable for a few years until she passed.”
GM: “Good for Piper. The conditions for dogs at those places are beyond deplorable. And we still have them whelping out crateloads of puppies when there are so many unadopted pets!”
“It’s just as bad for cats with kitten mills. Everyone wants kittens.”
Celia: “It’s pretty awful. People kind of suck.”
GM: “Yeah. Animals don’t.”
“I miss Ajax.”
“He was such a good boy. Such a gentle giant.”
Celia: “He was really friendly. I always thought big dogs were kind of aggressive, but he was gentle, yeah, like you said.”
“You could get another dog, you know.”
“You said animals like you.”
GM: “They do. I’m just… worried about sewer rats.”
Celia: “In particular? Or anyone who can tame?”
GM: “I suppose anyone who can tame makes it a risk, but they do it the most.”
“Pets can have a lot of valuable information about your haven, your activities, your comings and goings.”
Celia: “Abellard tried to put a rat in my cunt,” Celia mutters.
GM: “Jesus Christ,” mutters Roderick.
“What a pervert. Tried and failed, I hope?”
Celia: “I snagged its tail before it got anywhere.”
“Just fucking gross.”
“I’d feel better about pets, anyway, if I could tame.”
Celia: “You could learn.”
GM: “I could. It’s a valuable discipline.”
Celia: “I know a few people who know. One of them is pretty desperate to trade favors.”
GM: “I might take you up on that. I’d like another dog.”
“Dani tells me Ajax passed away a few years ago.”
Celia: “If shit ever hits the fan for me I’m coming to live with you as Luna, just so you know.”
“Oh. I’m so sorry to hear that.”
GM: He effects another sigh. “It happens. Dogs don’t live forever. But thanks.”
Celia: Makes her wonder what happened to Sugar Cube.
GM: She lost interest in that pony pretty fast.
Celia: She was eight.
She shouldn’t have been given a pony.
GM: For so many reasons.
Friday night, 18 March 2016, AM
GM: The pair drive back to Roderick’s old apartment at The Preserve. His lease isn’t actually up yet, so he still has the space. He finds a place to ditch his possibly hacked phone. He also suggests Celia not turn into Luna. “You already look different, and maybe someone will recognize another guy carrying the same cat. Unlikely, but at this point… I’m just feeling pretty paranoid.”
Celia: She’s happy to go along with his plan.
GM: “Also, crap. My clothes. These things are a bloody mess.”
Celia: “Randy might have something in the back…” Celia twists in her seat, searching through his things.
What sort of Toreador ghoul would he be if he didn’t?
GM: The fit isn’t perfect, but Roderick strips and changes without complaint, giving Celia a nice look at his abs and muscles as he does.
Celia: She doesn’t mind the view.
Not at all.
She keeps her lips closed to hide the growing boner, though.
“Is it weird if we fuck wearing different faces?”
GM: He thinks on that. “I suppose it’s a way to mix things up.”
Celia: “As if you’d ever get bored of me.”
GM: “Ha. I’d never ever.”
Celia: “Come on, Romeo, let’s go digging through your insides.”
GM: “Keep up that dirty talk and you’re going to make me jump you right here,” he smirks.
They bring a stake from the car and take the elevator up. Rod hoists Celia into a bridal carry when he sees she’s missing her shoes. “I’m not going to have you getting crud over your pretty feet.” Rod’s old unit looks like any bare apartment unit does. Everything has been moved out.
“What happened to your shoes, by the way?” he asks as he turns for her to close the door.
Celia: “Carolla made me take them off. If I was serious about fighting, he said, I had to get rid of them. They’re in his car.”
GM: “Sensible if they were impractical. At least you didn’t lose them.”
Celia: “They were cute. I’d be sad if I did.”
GM: “You make everything look cute, though,” he says as he carries her into the bathroom.
“I’ve always dug how short you are.”
Celia: “I’m not that short,” she huffs.
GM: “5’3” is below the female U.S. average."
Celia: “Who wants to be average?”
GM: “Lot of us aren’t. But I’m happy to be taller.”
Celia: “Mm. Perfect size for me.”
GM: “Yep. Tall guy and short girl really does it for me.”
“Also another reason I hate your dad. He’s just so much bigger than you and your mom. It’s a grotesquely unfair fight even if he didn’t have more training.”
“Big enough height and weight differences can be incredibly hard for even expert martial artists to overcome.”
“And he just… smacked around women who could never in a thousand years have taken him in a fair fight. It’s so disgusting I get mad just thinking about it.”
Celia: Celia remembers well the size difference between her parents. Watching her dad launch himself down at the stairs at her mom. The sound of her screams.
“Yeah,” she says vaguely. It takes her a moment to come back into the present.
“He’s coming over on Sunday.”
GM: “Dani thinks you and your mom are nuts.”
“I’ll find out soon, I guess.”
GM: “What do you hope to achieve that you didn’t at your last dinner?”
Celia: “Mom just wanted to see him again. And Emily wanted a chance to call him on his bullshit. And… there’s a… there’s a lot, really, that I haven’t talked about with him, that I’m still looking into.”
GM: “He’s scum.”
Celia: Celia doesn’t know how to answer that, so she just nods.
“Feel free to say you told me so, I guess.”
“You ready?” she asks, hefting the stake.
GM: Roderick seems to visibly hold his tongue, then removes his clothes and lays down in the tub.
Celia: “Say it,” Celia says.
“Whatever you were just holding back. Just say it.”
GM: “I think it’s a bad idea, demons or no demons.”
“Dani thinks the demon talk is pure crazy.”
Celia: “Yeah well Dani thought that reading Dracula counted as research.”
“And she’s been around for like a week.”
“I bet she doesn’t believe in werewolves or fairies either.”
GM: “She doesn’t know better. But demons are just so many question marks and unknowns even for us, Celia.”
“Do you really want to gamble your dad hurting your family again over ‘a demon made me do it?’”
Celia: “I found someone to talk to me about it who knows more.”
“I don’t know what else I’m supposed to do.”
“You never knew him, before.”
GM: “Cut him out of your life.”
“That’s the other thing you can do.”
Celia: “Tell you what, Rod. Tomorrow, at Elysium, I’ll put myself in the sheriff’s path and ask him if we can chat about my daddy, and I’ll let you know what he says.”
GM: He sighs.
“It’s your decision. You wanted to know what I was holding back, so that was it.”
Celia: “You think I’m kidding?”
“I’ll do it.”
GM: “Uh, I see no possible way that ends well.”
Celia: Maybe Roderick doesn’t know him as well as Celia does.
And maybe Celia is just making up stories in her head about what she thinks the reality of the situation is, and Roderick is right: there’s no way it ends well.
“Sorry,” she sighs. “Maybe you’re right.”
“Mom had a vision that Maxen was going to take Lucy away. Maybe bringing him into the house is just a really bad idea.”
“I guess I wasn’t as on guard around him at dinner because I wanted so badly to believe what he was saying.”
GM: “Cost-benefit analysis. What’s the worst that could realistically happen, what’s the best that could realistically happen, and how likely are both?”
Celia: “Let me think about it while I cut you open. I think better when I’m elbow deep inside of people.”
GM: He smirks. “All right. Have at it.”
Celia: So she does.
She presses the stake into his chest and makes sure he can’t move before she begins her work, using her claws to cut him open and sift through his insides. She’s not sure how much he still feels, even staked, but she knows he’s conscious at least—he’d told her how he’d counted the bodies flying out of Cypress Grove. So she keeps up a running commentary on what she’s doing, tells him that most of his insides are basically useless at this point, and looks for anything out of place.
GM: The stake easily slides in past his rib cage. Like a knife through flesh rather than bone. Her lover lies there, helpless and immobilized beneath her hands, utterly at her mercy, but his eyes are trusting.
Celia: She’d had trusting eyes like that, once.
On the roof.
When her sire had smacked her around and broken her jaw.
She wonders if she’d have to stake him to go through his body, or if his iron-fisted control would just let her do her work while he watched.
GM: The latter, of course.
Because he’s better.
Celia: Maybe she can cut him open and find the thing that has him in his grasp. Cut it out of him.
GM: Roderick’s eyes bulge as Celia slices him open and literally rips through his guts. The heady aroma of Brujah vitae with the stink of years-atrophied internal organs (after she slices bits away) hits Celia’s nose. Her lover can’t scream, or even move his mouth, but the muscles in his jaw go tight as a drum.
She recognizes, too, when it’s no longer him staring out past his eyes.
Celia: She’s glad for the stake. Glad that it keeps him pinned, that she doesn’t need to try fighting him off.
She stops talking when he disappears into the red.
It’s not worth saying anything; he won’t remember it anyway.
Maybe now’s the perfect time to confess, though. Tell him about all the shitty things she’s ever done. Tempting, isn’t it, to bare her soul to him like he bares his guts to her.
GM: He won’t remember.
Celia: She opens her mouth. But the noose around her neck jerks tight, constricting unnecessary breath, and she can’t say what she was going to.
It’s not her secret.
There’s something else she can do, though. Another way she can take advantage of his gap in memories.
She can bond him. Cut into her flesh. Drip it into his mouth. He’ll never know. When he comes to he’ll just be in love with her; he won’t feel the rest of them breaking. Snapping. Like hers had done when she’d taken that third drink from her sire.
She can tell him everything then. Confess to what she’d done. He’ll still love her. He has to love her. The blood demands it.
She checks that the Beast still has him in thrall.
GM: Hate, pain, and hunger is all that stares out from his maddened eyes.
Celia: He’ll never know.
He’ll never know she did it to him.
If he finds out, she’ll mindfuck him. She knows enough people who can do it.
And he’ll love her.
He won’t spill her secrets. He won’t be able to. He’ll be caught, just like she is. And she’d told him so much. So, so much.
It’s the best thing for them, isn’t it?
Coco had already betrayed him. He’ll be so hurt by that. But he can turn to her. Will turn to her. He’ll come over. They won’t have to hide what they are anymore.
Celia bites into her wrist.
She moves it toward his mouth.
…and she stops, staring down at the staked, raging Brujah, who had trusted her enough to let her do this to him, to make him helpless, to work with her on ways to be together even though they’re on different sides of the fence.
She can’t do it to him.
Not like this.
Quick as that, she licks the wound closed, hating herself for even thinking about it.
She’s not a monster.
Celia turns her face away from his, resuming her search through his body.
GM: That proves less illuminating, perhaps, than the search through her own soul.
She finds nothing out of the ordinary in her lover’s insides.
At least on those grounds, he looks safe to bring back to Flawless.
Celia: She hopes she didn’t miss something. That she wasn’t distracted by the pull to bond him and overlooked anything out of the ordinary.
She closes him up, but waits until he’s calm to remove the stake.
“I didn’t find anything,” she says once she has.
Maybe her conscience.
“Sorry I had to rip you open for that.”
GM: Roderick gives a wet, ragged-sounding gasp and clutches his stomach for several moments, closing his eyes.
“Still… glad… you looked.”
“But… fuck… that… hurt.”
Celia: Celia holds a hand against the side of his face.
“I’m sorry,” she murmurs. “I was going to give you a sedative at the spa, but I don’t have any on me usually. I guess I can carry it from now on, just for stuff like this.”
GM: “That’s… smart.”
“So was… staking. Beast… definitely got out.”
Celia: “Yeah,” she nods. “But it’s okay. It didn’t do anything.”
And she didn’t do anything.
GM: “Can’t do much… staked.”
Celia: “I love you,” she says abruptly. “I don’t care what else happens, or how our talk goes tonight. I love you. So much.”
GM: So much.
But not as much.
Never as much.
But he’s what she has.
GM: “I love you… too,” he smiles, stroking the hand against his cheek. “It’ll go… it’ll go well. I know.”
Celia: Celia leans over the tub to press a soft kiss against his lips.
It’ll go well.
Everything rides on it.