“Why do you love me?”
Saturday evening, 19 March 2016
GM: Night falls. Celia wakes up on the floor. There are no aches or pains.
The thirst burns within her.
She is ravenous. She is so empty. She must be filled.
She doesn’t recall rising to her feet, but the next moment, she’s staring down at Roderick. Asleep in the bed. His body full of blood. Brujah blood. Hot. Delicious. Thick. So much stronger than mortal piss. She remembers its taste.
The Beast’s roars drown out all rational thought as the red haze descends.
Celia: The Beast wakes on the floor. Above her, the body of her sleeping lover. Blood runs through his veins. Thick. Warm. Potent. It tasted like love once. Like safety.
She wonders how bitter the taste now.
Payback for the way he has treated her. Payback for hurting her last night and thinking that a stray “good girl” is enough of a balm to soothe her hurts.
He has so much to learn about breaking people.
The Beast is up on the bed, teeth at the boy’s throat before seconds have passed. He doesn’t deserve his blood. He is not worthy of it.
It will sustain her.
GM: An eyeblink passes.
Celia comes to with bedding against her face. Vice-like pressure around her throat. Her arms twisted and pinned down behind her. His legs against her belly.
She’s being held down over his knee.
“Pathetic, Celia,” sounds a scornful voice.
“Do I need to chain you up during the day to keep this sort of thing from happening?”
Not a drop.
Not a single taste of the red. She snarls, thrashing against him, bucking her body to throw him off of her, reaching out with her claws—
She’s still so hungry.
She stills as the words reach through the fog in her brain to wake the girl. The Beast retreats, leaving its mess behind for her to clean up. Ice already cracked, this sort of thing just splinters it further.
But she can’t speak with his hand crushing her windpipe. She doesn’t know why he bothers to ask her questions.
GM: His grip relaxes after he feels the tension depart her body.
Most of it, at least.
Celia: Oh? He doesn’t want to throw her around some more?
Hasn’t he heard she likes it like that?
The expected apology wheezes past her lips, rasping out of her dry throat.
GM: “You need to be corrected for this, Celia. But physical correction will make you an even greater danger to others than you currently are.”
For being hungry.
For being hungry because he injured her and her body needed the blood to mend because he’s too stupid to know to fix what he breaks.
The girl behind the mask pulls the string on her head, nodding it up and down like the puppet she has become.
She asks if he’ll cuff her, so she doesn’t start something again.
GM: “Tonight, we will sleep apart,” sounds the voice above her head. “You won’t come back to my haven with me. That seems a fitting correction, wouldn’t you say?”
“Yes,” she hears herself say. “That is fitting.”
GM: “You’re a danger to others in your current state. This won’t do. We do not harm innocents.”
He lifts her up from his knee, sitting her by his side on the bed.
Then he holds out his wrist.
“You will be corrected again if you lose control again.”
Celia: He could be good at it, she thinks. If he learned. If he was more ruthless. He is strong enough for it. Smart enough for it.
But weak where it matters.
The girl in the body only nods again, head bobbing up and down, up and down, and falls upon the offered wrist with a flash of her fangs.
GM: All it takes is one taste.
It hits her tongue like an explosion.
Control burns away as the Beast bursts its chains yet again—and when the red haze clears, she’s bent over his knee with a hand around her throat and arms twisted behind her back yet again.
His taste lingers on her tongue.
He’s so generous to her.
So kind to her.
So mindful of her.
He’s making the best decision, in her own interests, in the public’s interests.
He knows what’s best.
He kept her. Even after last night.
Even after all she confessed to.
Celia: He knows what’s best.
He loves her. He wouldn’t correct her if he didn’t want her to be better. He wouldn’t waste his time on her if he didn’t think she had potential.
And she’s grateful for the blood. Grateful that he is able to control her rage so that she doesn’t hurt anyone else.
She stops struggling when the Beast has finished taking what it wants.
GM: “You lost control again, Celia,” he says patiently after he releases her.
“This will be corrected. Additionally, I don’t believe in rewarding bad behavior. So those hits won’t be free.”
“We will spend the next five nights apart—one for every hit I gave you, two for both losses of control. But for every hit you bring me, we will reduce your sentence by one night. Bring me five hits, and we can even spend tonight together. Does that seem fair?”
Celia: Her heart wrenches at the words.
Blood seeps from her eyes at the thought. She curls her body in on itself once she’s free, knees drawn up to her chest. Her hair falls into her face to hide it from his view when she nods.
GM: “Good,” he says.
He rises from the bed.
“I’m going to shower now. That’s a sexual activity, so we can’t do that together until we resolve our outstanding relationship issues.”
“But you’ve been good in accepting your corrections tonight. So how would you like to pick out my clothes for me?”
Celia: “I don’t know what you have planned tonight,” Celia says from behind the curtain of her hair, “and I don’t want to pick the wrong thing.”
GM: “Hmm. I’ll tell you what, then. You can pick out my clothes for the dinner with your father on Sunday. I don’t enjoy the thought of listening to his lies and excuses for several hours, but I think attending may be worthwhile after all.”
Celia: “I’ll let my mother know you’re coming.”
GM: “Good,” he smiles. “I’ll look forward to seeing her and the rest of your family.”
Celia: Maybe she’ll take it away from him if he steps out of line.
GM: He heads off into the shower.
Celia: Celia moves toward his closet. Maybe there’s something interesting inside.
GM: Just clothes, as far as she can see, trending towards the preppy style he prefers.
It’s a much smaller closet than her own.
Celia: Her father used to throw out her clothes when she misbehaved. Maybe she can tell Roderick so he can do the same.
GM: Average number of clothes for a guy in his.
Celia: She looks for a dresser.
GM: She finds one.
Celia: She checks that, too.
GM: More clothes, all neatly pressed and folded, each sock rolled up with its matching sibling.
Celia: She quickly loses interest in the snooping. No doubt he’ll catch her. No doubt he put everything away when he knew she was coming over.
Maybe there’s nothing interesting to find, anyway.
It doesn’t take her long to find an outfit for him suitable for Sunday’s dinner. That’s one thing she has always been good at: fashion. Looking presentable. She has it set aside for him when he comes back from the shower, hanging separately from his other clothing on the bar in the closet so he doesn’t need to search for it tomorrow. No doubt he’d make her put it away if she were to have pulled it out for him and cite that only slobs keep clothes laying out.
Dark slacks, a button-down shirt, a v-neck sweater to go over it with the cuffs of his sleeves and collar exposed. A thick leather belt (no part of her thinks about him bringing it to bear on her exposed bottom, or how her flesh would jiggle with every blow, or how her pale skin would turn red) that matches the plain toe bluchers she has picked out from a distant spot in his closet. Form fitting, it will hug his shoulders and tapered waist, showing off his physique.
It’s missing something. She knows exactly what. She’ll rectify that before she meets him.
She waits on the bed for him when he’s done in the shower, still in the sheer teddy from the night before. She’d thought about changing, but then he’d ask why she doesn’t want a shower, though now she wonders if it’s presumptuous of her to assume he will let her use his.
The rules are ever-changing in this game of theirs. She needs to learn them quickly.
She’s not lounging, not splayed out like some sort of pinup girl, just sitting on the edge of the bed with her hands tucked beneath her thighs. Waiting.
GM: Roderick comes back after a brief shower. He’s got a towel wrapped around himself. Perhaps ‘no looking’ also falls under ‘no sex.’ He looks over the clothes approvingly.
“Good choices, Celia. These are very appropriate for a dinner with my girlfriend’s family.”
Celia: “You’ll need a new wardrobe,” Celia says without inflection once she sees the towel. “For your new identity. It’s something people don’t think about until it gets them into trouble. I never wear the same clothing as Jade that I do as Celia. The two have distinct styles. Yours will need to as well.”
“You should also give some consideration to which clan you’d like to pose as. Generally it’s easier if you have some talents of the clan you wish to emulate. Caitiff is easiest of all, but they have zero respect and I would advise against it. You could do Brujah again if you’d like. You’re fast and can use star mode, so Toreador is on the table, but I’d advise against it if you don’t plan on pursuing any artistic endeavors, as they lack remorse and compassion to anyone they think is a poseur.”
GM: “Yes, I’d put some thought into my clan and lineage. That’s also a very good suggestion, Celia. I wouldn’t have used my favorite clothes, but a completely different personal style will help keep the identities distinct. Buying a new wardrobe hadn’t occurred to me.”
He sits down next to her.
“I think you should get a reward for that suggestion. What would you like?”
Celia: “I can teach you to shift,” she continues, “but Jade wouldn’t date a Gangrel long term. I told you about Veronica’s reaction to my krewe.”
GM: “Yes, but that’s because they had multiple Caitiff. Gangrel are about as respected as Brujah, given how far so many of us have fallen these nights. How you comport yourself and what lineage you claim matters more than your clan.”
“If you’re a Camarilla clan, anyway.”
Celia: “Jade doesn’t date long term. Not for years. She has flings, gets bored, and moves on. It’s an image I’ve projected for years. A shift overnight will look askance and draw unwanted questions and attention, insofar as much as anyone cares about what goes on in my bed. I haven’t been caught because I haven’t been sloppy.”
Except that one time.
GM: “Then my new identity won’t have a public relationship with Jade. You can give me other faces for when we want to do things in public together.”
Celia: “It’s a lot of juice to continue to change your face,” she says frankly.
“But my curiosity extended towards what you’d like me to do with others.”
GM: “We’ll split the costs and not do it every night.”
Celia: “Nights ago you said you’d cover your end.”
GM: “For Kindred-related activities. If we want to be seen in public together for dates, you can cover that. I may also cover the costs when you’ve been good.”
Celia: She bristles.
“My cover,” she says through teeth that may soon become clenched, “is just as important as yours.”
GM: “You’re starting to sound like you’re arguing with me, Celia,” Roderick says calmly. “We don’t have arguments anymore.”
Celia: “I am not arguing. I am seeking accommodation and agreement on something that will protect us both.”
GM: “I will pay the costs when you change my face to my new Kindred identity. I may pay the costs on other occasions when you are well-behaved. This discussion is over.”
Celia: Her claws itch to make themselves known.
She breathes, searching for the edges of her mask. She pulls it more tightly around herself, securing the girl inside.
“Yes, Roderick. I understand. Thank you. I was overwhelmed by the amount that I feel I owe you, but you have made me realize that this is fair.”
GM: “Good,” he says.
“Now, I said you were due a reward for the good suggestion you just made. What would you like?”
With him. Or with someone else. She’s not particular.
She doesn’t say it, though.
He’d only turn her down.
And she can only handle so many rejections.
GM: So he waits.
“Take your time, Celia.”
Celia: “I want to go on a date,” she finally says. “I want… I want to be how it was for a night. Or I want you to put your arms around me and tell me that it’s okay because I don’t think it is right now and I’m afraid I’m going to fall apart and I need… I need you.”
GM: Roderick hugs her. She feels his strong arms around her, holding her close. One of his hands strokes her hair and she hears the smile in his voice.
“You don’t need to spend rewards on that.”
“It’s going to be okay, Celia. We have a plan. We are going to make things right. Our relationship will be stronger than ever once it’s done, and we’ll move ahead politically, too. We’re going to be partners. We’re going to rise high in Savoy’s court and we will never stop loving each other. Nothing will stop us. Nothing.”
“I love you very much. I want the best for us.”
Celia: It’s enough to make her crumble. She clings to him once his arms are around her, burying her face against his chest, eyes leaking once more. She’s silent as she cries. There’s no uneven breathing, no shoulders shaking, no noisy hiccups or snot running down her face. Just the red. He can smell it, she can smell it, the coppery tang of her broken emotions streaking down her cheeks to stain his skin. She’s tiny in his arms.
“I’m sorry,” she whispers, voice cracking on the words. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
Why, she wants to ask him. Why do you love me?
But she doesn’t want to know it’s because she’s a night doctor. She doesn’t want to know it’s because he likes her family. She wants to think that it’s for her. That this one time something in her Requiem is for her, not for her connections, not for what she can do, but for her.
GM: “I know you are, Celia,” he answers, hugging her close. “It’s okay. I know you want to make things right. We will make them right. I have so many plans for us. Things won’t just be okay. Things will be better than ever. I’m looking forward to our future together. I know you are too.”
Celia: She nods her head at his words, up and down, down and up, like a bobble-head on someone’s dash. She wants it to be back to normal. She wants a future with him. She’d begged her sire to leave him alone when he’d wanted to kill him.
But that was before she realized the extent of his damage.
Before he told her she’s stupid.
Before he put her in the microwave.
But she asks, in a faltering, stuttering way, if he’ll tell her about the future he imagines. About them.
And if he doesn’t want to, if he thinks she won’t understand, she asks if he’ll sleep with her. Now. Before the rest of their night begins. Just once. To take the edge off. To help her focus.
GM: “I think you will understand the essential pieces of it,” he answers her. “But it will take time to explain, and we have more things to discuss, as well as other things to do tonight.”
“Sex is off-limits until we resolve the biggest outstanding issues in our relationship. We will have sex again once those are resolved.”
“But if you would like to spend your reward on sex right now, we can have sex right now.”
Celia: “It’s not a chore?” she asks quietly, desperately. “You want it, but not right now, not because of what happened, what I did? It’s not me, it’s what I did?”
GM: “That’s right, Celia,” he answers, rubbing her back. “I do want to share blood with you. I enjoy it very much. It hurts me as well when we can’t.”
“But I’m willing to go without so that you can learn to do better.”
“So that things get better for us later by making sacrifices now.”
Celia: She wants it. She wants him. Now. She wants him, wants his blood, wants his body. Wants to pretend that everything is okay for just a moment.
“Please,” she says to him, “please, I want you.”
GM: “Of course, Celia,” he answers, stroking her back again. “You’ve earned your reward by offering a very good suggestion. I’m happy to have sex with you now.”
Celia: He makes it sound so romantic.
Her desire fizzles.
She’s left empty. Numb.
She had a chance and she ruined it. He had a chance and he ruined it.
GM: “Hmm?” he asks, stroking her back again. “How would you like to do it? You get to pick.”
“You’ve been a good girl.”
Celia: A good girl.
Like a dog.
Her heart withers. She’ll never be his equal again. He’ll never see her as anything but a weight stone around his neck. An anchor that drags him down. Holds him back. He’ll resent her. Forever.
She wants her sire. She wants his arms. His lips. His fangs.
Celia doesn’t respond, not verbally. She leans in to press a kiss against his jaw, his cheek, the corner of his mouth. His lips.
GM: His lips meet hers, hungrily, forcefully. Dog or not, the desire is there. His hands swiftly move to peel her out of the teddy and discard his towel. He pushes her back-first onto the bed, then trails his mouth down her neck, down her chest, nipping and kissing and drawing coppery pinpoints of blood. His mouth moves over her left breast as he sucks her nipple. Strong hands hungrily caress her body, feel her naked flesh against his palms.
Celia: She’d almost told him no. Almost told him that she wants something else. Another reward. Something that doesn’t make her feel like sleeping with her is a chore.
It’s never a chore. She’s Celia Flores. Jade Kalani. Men and licks alike fall to their knees to worship her like the goddess of pleasure that she is.
But the desire is there. And the way he strips her from her clothing tells her how he wants it. Her nipples stiffen beneath his touch; some part of her mind thinks the word pervert, but he hadn’t said anything last night, and he hadn’t said anything yet tonight, and she isn’t going to pretend to be someone she isn’t. Not around him. Not when she has spilled the rest of herself to him. Liquid pools between her thighs. Her back arches, lifting her body into his touch, and the soft sighs and needy gasps leave her mouth as his hands and fangs move down her body.
GM: He pleasures her nipples, alternating between long sucks from each one as his fangs leave bright pinpricks of blood over her breasts. But his hands and fangs descend ever lower. He squeezes her firm and shapely ass checks as he plants nips and kisses down her stomach, down her belly, down her groin. He alternates between her inner thighs, drawing steadily closer to her wet and eager sex. His tongue flecks out again as he lowers his head between her legs.
Celia Flores, Jade Kalani, twin masks of the goddess of pleasure, each demand her due.
Perhaps he thought once to deny her. To refuse her.
Foolish man. Foolish lick.
None can deny the goddess her due.
Even when they think they are in charge.
The bedroom is her temple, her body her altar, and anyone with a working dick between their legs an eager postulant, whether they know it or not.
The goddess demands her due.
She receives it.
Roderick worships her.
Saturday evening, 19 March 2016
GM: Eventually, the lovers are finished, and lie spent and bleeding and satiated upon the coppery- and sex-smelling sheets. Roderick turns to regard her with a hand resting against his head.
“Now where were we?”
Another chamber in the goddess’ temple.
Celia: She takes the advantage when she can, and the bedroom has long been her domain.
“Identities,” Celia says. “Protecting ours by keeping up appearances.”
GM: “Yes,” he says. “That should be easy enough. We’ll continue taking precautions and not be seen together.”
Celia: “Mm,” she says idly, stretching her arms above her head. Her back arches with the movement. Just like it had when he’d buried his face between her thighs, lapping at blood and sex alike.
There’s no delicate way to ask, not for most people. But sex is Celia’s forte and she has just shown him how marvelous it can be. She brings up Josua and Marcel in a roundabout way, taking care to mention her ruse as Veronica’s childe and how bringing the exiled prince over will serve them in the long term and turn a potential foe into a friend. It’s a small amount of seduction for a large long term benefit. Surely that big brain of his sees how it benefits them and Savoy both.
GM: A dark look passes over his face at her initial request.
He doesn’t like it.
Another lick touching Celia.
Being intimate with her.
He doesn’t like that at all.
But Celia asks so very nicely.
The bedroom is her temple.
“As long as I’m also there for it,” he answers.
His voice is very slow.
Celia: Celia considers the request.
It’s not a no. And he’d said the same thing about her taking kine lovers. Taking ghoul lovers. He wants to be there. To monitor. To watch, to enjoy, to experience.
How could he not? She’s shown him what it’s like to be in bed with her. How good she can make him feel. He said it hurts to not be with her, which might have been a line, but her little reminder here only served to hammer home how much he’s going to be missing out on while they fix their relationship.
It’s a step in the right direction, isn’t it?
And she does so enjoy being shared.
She gives him a shy smile, as if she hasn’t had three threesomes in a single night, and nods her head.
“I’d like you to be there, too. It doesn’t mean anything when I’m not in love with them. It might be harder with the prince, but I’ll find a way to make it work. For you. For us.” She takes advantage of his offered reward to nuzzle his neck, trailing a line of kisses from jaw to collarbone. “I love you, Roderick. I love that you’re gracious enough to work with me on everything.”
“I was scared you wouldn’t accept me if you knew. About my sire. My dad. The multiples. The sex. I was so afraid I’d lose you forever. I shouldn’t have been. I should have just told you everything from the beginning. I don’t want to hide things from you anymore, even if they’re awful things. Can you forgive me?”
GM: “I love you too, Celia. I can always forgive the truth,” Roderick answers, stroking her cheek.
“Your father deserved what you did to him.”
“So did your sister.”
Celia: Oh. She’d never really considered it like that.
GM: “She set up your mother to get raped and mutilated by your father. It’s poetic justice that she should experience the same treatment. At the same man’s hands, no less.”
“Your father is an even bigger scumbag than she is. He deserves even worse.”
Celia: “Roderick? My mom is worried that he’s going to take Lucy.”
She tells him about the vision her mother had had. The falling, which came true, and then Maxen stealing Lucy. She doesn’t remember if she’d already told him, and she apologizes if it’s a repeat. She’d shared so much with him lately that it’s blurring together.
GM: “You’d mentioned,” he said.
“He has ample motive to.”
Celia: “Sorry,” she repeats. “I’m worried about it is all.”
GM: “A wife and granddaughter would be good props on the campaign trail. And he will need a first lady.”
Celia: “I’d wondered if that’s why he reached out. It seems like he took the time to set up things, with the adoption and medical options for Mom and all, but reconciling with his estranged wife and daughter will look better than not. And if not, he could find out about Lucy and say she’d been stolen from him… Make himself look like a victim, maybe? Sympathy.” She doesn’t know if that’s what he is or was planning.
But it’s something he could have thought about.
GM: “Their remarriage would offer more opportunities to see him. On the other hand, a governor’s daughter can already see him, and we haven’t established how we can use him or towards what ends.”
“There are obviously many things a governor can do, but ‘mere’ neonates like us are not able to leverage those opportunities as effectively. It’s like giving a million dollars to a man off the street versus a Wall Street banker. The latter will be able to do more with it.”
Celia: “Marcel still has dealings in Baton Rouge and the political world, I think. So does Defallier. Or… it’s possibly an opportunity for Lord Savoy…?”
Or her sire.
“But, um, you said to think about it, and we can revisit.”
GM: “I wonder if it would be more productive to simply charge other licks favors for access to him,” Roderick muses. “That already happens in real life. Special interests try to woo the sons and daughters of politicians. Invite them to sit on corporate boards, invest in their projects, buy things from their companies, and the like. So Junior will put in a good word with dear old Dad. It’s essentially how modern bribery works.”
“There aren’t really any laws to speak of regulating that sort of thing. Unlike giving politicians briefcases of cash or other direct gifts.”
“I’d expect Flawless to see an uptick in business when people know it’s owned by the governor’s daughter.”
Celia: She’d been wondering the same but had thought it was a stupid idea. So she hadn’t brought it up. But she nods along with his, because he explains it better than she can.
“There’s still the Baton Rouge licks to deal with. And the Nosferatu. They might want to muscle in on him.”
And her sire, though she’d never charge him favors for this sort of thing. Maybe he’ll have a better suggestion for her. She’s been meaning to talk to him about it.
“Yes,” she says about Flawless. “He and I had spoken about doing some social media content together, as well.”
GM: “The Nosferatu are the difficult part,” Roderick frowns. “If Jade goes around using Celia to make connections between the governor and other licks’ prize pawns, the sewer rats will eventually find out.”
“What would you do then if you were Lawrence Meeks?”
Celia: “You said they probably snooped on my spa. I’m concerned they already know everything. The archon said the same.”
GM: “Yes, they snoop everywhere. When was the last time you swept it for eavesdropping devices?”
Celia: “Um. The time with Randy when we found the bug and the thin-blood.”
GM: “There you go. People will plant bugs in places they know you regularly spend time at.”
Celia: “I thought about having Pete put some wards in or something for me, I don’t know if it would cover that large an area or if there’s anything like that to keep out licks.”
GM: “You’d have to ask him. Only real solution I know is periodic mundane sweeps.”
“Which you should do regardless of whether wards are possible or not.”
Celia: “I’ll need another security guy,” Celia says with a long sigh. “Randy usually handled it. I don’t suppose there’s a little signal jammer that will affect bugs but not phones or other devices like they have in movies. I can check with Rusty.”
GM: “There are jammers that make electronics usage impossible. Cletus Lee Boggs had that set up in his haven when I visited Slidell. Telecommunications there simply don’t work.”
Celia: “Oh. Maybe I can talk to him about it then.”
GM: “Do that. Don’t get all of your input just from Rusty.”
Celia: “But you asked what I’d do if I were Lawrence Meeks, and I’d take out the ghoul or pawn or lick interfering in my business, or tell the lick whose pawn it is about it so they can deal with it too. Send a message. Find who they are, what they care about. Destroy it. Rip it out root and stem.”
There’s a pause, then,
“I could go as Isabel.”
Easy enough to pass as Isabel, isn’t it? Just be a cunt.
GM: “But you run into the same issue if you want to arrange access for other licks’ pawns with the governor.”
“The Nosferatu eventually finds out that a lick uses Isabel to help other licks.”
“Two options I see. One, don’t involve other licks. Leverage favors and enrich ourselves through just breathers. Two, cut a deal with Meeks.”
Celia: “As Jade, or as an older lick?”
GM: “The Nosferatu are very well-informed. You might be able to fool them. You also might not.”
Celia: Celia nods.
“I’ll think about it, then, and we can revisit my father and Baton Rouge. I like the suggestion, though. Thank you.”
GM: “The third option would be to bring in Savoy and negotiate as his representatives,” Roderick muses. “He gets a cut of whatever deal we reach, but we have a stronger bargaining position.”
Celia: “He might not want to talk to me about my father.”
GM: “And why would he not want to talk about your father in this context, Celia?”
Celia: “Because I failed to take him out before and Preston told me that he isn’t inclined to waste his time on the same subject.”
GM: “You’re being stupid again, Celia.”
Celia: Any remnants of afterglow from their time together slip away. She’s left cold. Hollow. Wooden.
GM: “The circumstances were different. There’s profit in this for him.”
Celia: “Yes, Roderick. I understand. Thank you for explaining.”
GM: He smiles and strokes her cheek.
“That’s what I’m here for, Celia. To help you understand. To help you.”
“This is another way you could demonstrate usefulness to him.”
Celia: Celia leans into the touch, eyes closing briefly at the contact. Just a girl in love with a boy who wants to better herself and build a future together.
“I’d like to be useful to him.”
GM: “I’ve had so many good ideas, haven’t I? Becoming his new party organizer, and now this.”
Celia: “Yes, Roderick. You’ve given me a lot to think about. You’re very intelligent and I have so much to learn from you.”
GM: “Regardless of how we proceed with your father, I don’t think enacting large-scale policy changes through him is immediately feasible or in our interests,” Roderick considers. “We can just use his position to enrich ourselves and advance our personal projects. The way children of politicians and the significant others of those children already do.”
“If you wanted to turn Flawless into a larger business with three or more locations, he can facilitate that.”
Celia: “He mentioned assisting with the second location and cutting through whatever red tape I needed help with,” Celia confirms.
GM: “It’s not simply what he can directly do for you, Celia. It’s other people wanting to do you assorted favors and help you get richer in order to get closer to him.”
“This is how political bribery works in the 21st century.”
Celia: Celia doesn’t bother explaining that she’d meant it was an immediate thing he could do for her and that his real estate connections could help her build her domain into better feeding grounds. She just nods her head.
Smile and nod. Just smile and nod.
GM: “We need to establish an identity for me as Celia’s mortal boyfriend,” Roderick says. “A long-term one. Better, her husband.”
Celia: “I’ve begun mentioning a new boyfriend as Celia. I haven’t given him much identifying information yet, I didn’t know what you’d want to do there. It’s usually good to stick to something you’re familiar with in case it ever comes up in conversations, but something useful in the breather world as well. Influential. There will be some attention on her new boyfriend and husband because of her online presence, and the possible connection to the governor. It can be better to assume someone else’s identity if they’re no longer using it since that comes with connections and friends and a background built in.”
GM: “Yes, I’d still want to be a lawyer, for a variety of reasons,” Roderick answers. “Falsifying a law degree and bar association membership is a lot of trouble, though. It would be simpler just to assume another lawyer’s identity.”
Celia: “Do you have someone in mind? I can look for possible candidates. Would you prefer to be from here or elsewhere?”
“There are advantages to both.”
GM: “I need to be someone who’s passed the bar exam in Louisiana,” Roderick answers. “Lawyers generally aren’t allowed to practice law in multiple states without passing the bar in each state. Louisiana will provisionally admit some out-of-state lawyers if they have the right connections or jump through enough hoops.”
Celia: “Oh. You need to retake the bar exam if you ever move? It can’t just be transferred? You can transfer medical degrees.”
GM: “It varies. Some states have reciprocity agreements with other states, which means lawyers can essentially transfer their bar association status. California offers a shorter bar exam for lawyers who are admitted in other states and who have been in good standing as an attorney in those states for at least four years prior to their application.”
“Louisiana has no reciprocity agreements, or shorter exam like California. Out-of-state lawyers get admitted to the bar association on a largely arbitrary case-by-case basis.”
“But it’s more than some states do. Arizona simply won’t let anyone practice law who hasn’t passed the Arizona bar exam.”
Celia: “So someone in Louisiana,” Celia muses. “I have a connection at a law office. I’ll see if I can find someone for you. I suppose we’ll need to do this quickly since you’re coming tomorrow.”
“Dani might be able to help. Are we going to tell her everything?”
“About us, I mean.”
GM: “These restrictions also aren’t without valid basis. Human bodies are human bodies regardless of what state you’re in. But most law in the U.S. is state law rather than federal law. Approximately 90% of all criminal law is state law. Laws can vary significantly between states.”
“But yes. We will need to do this quickly. By Sunday.”
“Look into your connection there. I’ll look into things too. If there isn’t a suitable option, we can create a new identity and I can just take the bar again.”
Celia: Celia wonders when she’s going to possibly fit it into her schedule this evening. She nods all the same. She’ll figure it out.
GM: “Or we could reschedule the dinner. Or cancel it. We don’t actually need the rest of your family.”
Celia: “It was mostly to figure out Maxen. But I’ll see what we can find tonight and talk to my mom if I need to about it.”
“Speaking of degrees, though… I found a few at Tulane that might be interesting. But you mentioned you wanted to talk about the multiples. And my sire. And the demons.”
GM: “Tell your mom to cancel the dinner if we can’t decide on a suitable identity tonight. This dinner is basically for her anyway, since you said Emily doesn’t want to be there and Lucy won’t be there.”
“And yes. We can discuss degrees after tonight.”
“Dani doesn’t need to know anything beyond that we’re together.”
Celia: “She knows about Celia and Jade. Will she know about Roderick and your new face and your new Bourbon face?”
“I don’t want to accidentally tell her something I shouldn’t.”
GM: “Is there a reason she needs to know? Is there a benefit to her knowing?”
Celia: “No benefit besides not lying when I speak with her about things, and inviting her to the wedding, et cetera. Social ease. I can keep it to myself.”
GM: He considers. “Roderick can’t get married to Celia or Jade. The mortal identity will the one we marry under.”
“Dani can know about the mortal identity. She won’t know about the Bourbon identity.”
Celia: “Roderick? Are we going to have a Kindred and kine wedding? Or just the kine?”
GM: “Kine. There’s no Kindred I trust enough to invite. Not anymore.”
The words have some bitterness.
Celia: “I’m sorry,” Celia says quietly. Gently. “I’m sorry about… about everything with her.”
GM: “It’s opened my eyes.”
“To so much.”
Celia: Celia nods. She holds him, if he lets her, but otherwise lapses into silence.
GM: He lets her. But continues to talk.
“You suffer from dissociative identity disorder, Celia. You’re clinically insane. We need to treat this.”
Celia: Clinically insane. The words hammer home, echoing inside of her mind. Clinically. Insane.
CraaaaAaAAAAZZzzyyy, someone giggles.
She could have stayed with the dolls. She would have had a place there. Would have been accepted there.
They keep me safe, she’d said.
They let her pass as who she needs to be. They fill in the cracks and missing pieces so that she’s whole again.
“There’s no fugue state,” Celia offers.
“How can you love me if I’m insane,” she asks him, leaning back far enough to see his face, to search for an answer in his eyes. “How can you love me like this?”
GM: “Can you love someone in a wheelchair? Someone with cancer? Someone with a missing arm?” Roderick asks, taking her hand in his. “It’s a disease of the mind rather than a disease of the body. Nothing more or less. We will overcome this, Celia. We will fix you.”
Celia: “Wha… what if they don’t want to be fixed? What if they help? What if they… they let me do things I can’t without them?”
“Harlequin… Harlequin said it’s just masking. And I’ve read that people who grew up like I did… people with abusive situations… they disassociate, and it helps them… helps them cope. And it helps them learn how to blend in. And that helps me with who I need to be in our society, so I can be Celia, or be Jade, or be Donovan’s childe, or Veronica’s childe, or Roderick’s lover.”
GM: “‘They’ are constructs of your mind, Celia,” Roderick answers patiently. “‘They’ do not exist without you. ‘They’ are you. ‘They’ have no wants or powers that you do not have yourself. Everything you ascribe to ‘them’ is already part of you. Do you want to be fixed?”
Celia: “I… I don’t know. I don’t know what it looks like without all the pieces of me. My mom… she had something cut out of her, and she’s… she’s different than she was. What if I’m different? What if I’m weak? What if I’m still stupid and no longer have anything that makes me able to adapt and fit and thrive and I become a burden? What if you don’t love me anymore?”
GM: “Your mother was tortured by a Malkavian who did God knows what to her, Celia. You were not. Nothing in you is missing. You are whole. Everything in your secondary personalities is part of who you already are. We must re-incorporate them back into your primary personality.”
Celia: “I don’t… I don’t want you to kill people. Or hurt people. You’re not that person. But I already am. You said so. That I’m corrupt. I want to be able to… to do that for you, if you need me to, to keep you pure, and what if I can’t..?”
GM: Roderick smiles, but there’s little warmth in it.
“I’m quite willing to hurt or kill a corrupt person, Celia.”
“I’m over those hunters.”
Celia: “That’s what I’m afraid of.”
GM: “They tried to kill us. They reaped what they sowed.”
Celia: “You’re a good person, Roderick.”
GM: “Of course I am.”
“But I’m not a pacifist any longer, Celia.”
“If I wake up again with a stake over my heart, I’ll happily kill whoever is pointing it there and dump their body in the Gulf.”
Celia: “It eats at you. Every time you kill. Every time you hurt. Every time you torture. It eats at your soul until things like that no longer faze you.”
GM: “There is nothing I would ask of you that I am unwilling to do myself, Celia.”
“We can hurt and kill the corrupt. We spare the innocent.”
“It’s such a simple distinction many Kindred don’t care enough to even make.”
Celia: “Maybe they did. And maybe at some point they stopped caring. I don’t want you to stop caring.”
GM: “I am guided by principles and convictions. I will not abandon those.”
Celia: Until he does.
GM: “Now. We are going to cure your insanity. We are going to fix this.”
GM: “With an expert’s help, of course. We need to consult a mental health professional. I’m no more qualified to treat this myself than I am to perform surgery.”
Celia: “A lick?”
GM: “Potentially. Or a ghoul. I don’t think a breather is qualified to treat you. It’d be like a surgeon operating on a lick they’re assuming is human.”
“I will look into things and search for a suitable mental health professional.”
Celia: All of the different parts of her rebel at the thought. But the puppet master pulls the strings and the girl’s head bobs up and down, and she says it again, the same phrase she’s been using since she was a child:
GM: “Tell Dani and your mother about your multiple personalities. The first step to fixing a problem is acknowledging its existence. They can also lend emotional support.”
Celia: “Mom knows.”
GM: “Good. Tell her anything you’ve left out.”
Celia: Another pull. Another head nod.
GM: “You will also need to stop spending time with Malkavians. They will make your problem worse.”
Celia: “I don’t generally spend time with Malkavians anymore.”
GM: “You mentioned seeing Harlequin tonight. Don’t do that. He’s probably the most harmful of them all to talk to.”
Celia: “I was hoping he could help me fix my mom.”
Celia: “The librarian told me that he knows what happens to masks and multiples when they die.”
“And Lucy has things to say.”
“I wanted to know what she has to say.”
GM: Roderick frowns.
“How do you know ‘Lucy’ is real and not a projection?”
Celia: “She speaks to me.”
“She saved me.”
“She told me to run.”
GM: “I mean a literal projection. She could be a Malkavian-created figment.”
Celia: “My mother was sent to the dollhouse by her mother. For acting out. Stealing a car. And guns? I think guns. Mom said Lucy has been with her since birth. But Lucy said her birthday is nine months before mine. She told the librarian. We got her a library card. She likes the same books Mom likes. But the dolls aren’t supposed to drink, and Mom was drinking, and that’s why I’m here.”
GM: Roderick slowly shakes his head.
“I don’t doubt that a Malkavian did awful things to your mother. But I am very skeptical you can fix them with more help from Malkavians.”
“It’s like putting out a fire with gasoline.”
Celia: “The crystal ball said the Giovannini could help.”
GM: “You mean the fortune-teller?” Roderick frowns. “The Giovannini are… distasteful. But I suppose they’re sane, at least.”
Celia: “The fortune teller told me you’d put me in chains and rip out my tongue,” Celia says with a nod.
GM: “I wouldn’t do that, Celia, unless you did something truly awful. Like cheating on me again.”
Celia: “But also you still had sex with me. So that’s something.”
GM: “Actually, I’d probably just end our relationship.”
Celia: “She said you’re—”
Celia cuts off at the words.
GM: “So that prediction seems baseless.”
Celia: “Grandsire implied he wanted to have sex with me this evening.”
GM: “Do I need to use a shorter word?”
Celia: “No? I confirmed your no. I confirmed I heard. I confirmed I understood.”
Celia: “Good,” Celia echos. “I’ll be good.”
“Good girls get rewards. Bad girls get corrected. Badder girls get left.”
GM: “That’s exactly right, Celia. Good girls get rewarded too. I don’t want our relationship to only consist of corrections and ultimatums.”
“I want you to be good. I want to reward you. I want to reward you all the time.”
He pulls her into his arms.
“It’s a reward for me too, to make you happy.”
He kisses her head.
“One of the best in my unlife.”
“The best in my unlife.”
Celia: “Leila thinks you’re very romantic,” Celia murmurs against his skin. “She loves you like I do. I want to be the best in your unlife. I want to be rewarded. I want to make you happy.”
GM: Roderick pulls away.
“Leila isn’t real, Celia. You make me happy when you acknowledge this. You make me unhappy when you don’t.”
Celia: “Leila isn’t real,” Celia repeats.
GM: He hugs her again.
“I know you’re trying, Celia.”
“I’ll help you every step of the way.”
Celia: “We’ll do it together. You love me. I love you. We’re together. Always.”
GM: He plants a tender kiss on her lips.