“Meat doesn’t have a name.”
Tuesday night, 15 March 2016, PM
GM: The drive to Rampart isn’t long. Celia and Dani text on the way. Dani is pleased to hear the rescheduled dinner date with her dad works. She says she’d love to make an appointment at the spa.
I mean I knew about it earlier but didn’t ever visit because yknow, Stephen
Celia: For sure. We can definitely get you in!
Celia fires off a handful of texts back and forth with Dani about the upcoming dinners and what sort of appointment she’s looking for at the spa. They do their job well, distracting Celia from the nerves that flutter through her stomach at the thought of what’s waiting for her tonight.
She’s going in blind.
She has theories, sure, but nothing concrete. None of this is her typical MO. She’s not the type of lick to respond with force; but then she’s not the type of lick to be so blatantly targeted like this, so maybe it is her typical MO and she just never knew. Maybe that lesson from her sire—you struck her, she’ll strike back—stuck the landing a little too well.
Maybe she’s just still worried about taking care of her mom and the rest of what’s hers.
So she distracts herself, first with her would-be sister and then her would-be lover. The one with the hat.
Hey babe what’s the theme for the party?
Does he text? He seems like the kind of guy to text. Young enough for it.
GM: Dani actually does not have a kind of appointment she’s looking for. Your mom says she just comes in and lets you do whatever to her, so thought I’d do the same
Gui does not provide as immediate a distraction.
Celia: How rude of him to not submit to her schedule.
Ha, she does. Np, can do. You gonna stay with her or back at my place?
GM: Her place. Thought you wanted me out of there
Temporary though. She’s been helping me move my stuff and look through listings
Celia: Do you want to schedule some visit times for Sunday? Can come with after work.
Work, daysleep, same difference.
Gives her time to find a few places.
And gives Celia time to tell Roderick he’s going to pony up rent.
GM: We’re both really glad to get out of Reggie’s place, he was awful
Sunday sounds great :)
Celia: I’m glad for you too. Almost decked him. Remind me to tell you something later, you gonna be up a bit?
GM: Yeah totally
Be more glad if you had decked him
He just would not fucking stop trying to kiss us and touch us
Celia: Yeah… I might.
GM: no matter how many times we said stop he just did not care
I had to threaten him with a knife to get him to back off
Celia: I heard.
GM: And then of course he started ranting how crazy I was
Yeah how crazy I don’t want to have sex after I’ve been raped
Celia: Obv not wanting his dick = crazy
Want to talk to you about that, too.
GM: He came on to your mom hardest whenever she was with Lucy. It was so fucking creepy.
GM: Yeah. Talk about what anyways?
What happened to me?
Celia: Yeah. Later though. If you want to talk about it. I won’t pry.
GM: Well. I don’t really remember a lot
Like I said
I almost thought I was… faking it?
Celia: not right now.
GM: well tldr I feel better talking about it. Your mom and I talked a lot
she told me about how she’d been raped
Celia: She did?
GM: Yeah. By your dad. A bunch of times. And that she thought it was ok for me to say I’d been even if I don’t remember much
She said she struggled with that a lot too, wondering if the rape that happened to her was actually rape because he was her husband
But she said you and Emily told her over and over that it was real
Celia: It was real. For her and for you. No one deserves that.
GM: Thanks. That helps to hear
Please don’t tell Stephen btw
Just don’t want to deal with that, he’ll go ballistic over it
Celia: He will, you’re right. I won’t say anything to him.
GM: What’s new with him?
Celia: Work mostly. Looking for a house. Misses you. Wants to go out this week, figure it will be a good time to tell him about what you want. Still thinks you should take that job offer in Houston.
GM: Fuck that
Celia: That’s what I told him you’d say.
GM: School’s here, my job’s here, the job I want is here, my dad’s here, you’re here, your mom’s here, my friends are here
Why the fuck would I want to just pack up for Houston
Because that’s convenient for him
Which actually makes me want to do it even less
When I already didn’t at all
Celia: For the “job” that Celia had just used as cover.
She’d explained this to Dani, not to say something weird via text. Now the girl is blowing it.
Celia sighs at her phone.
Yeah I get it. He’s being a butthead tbh.
GM: Fuck him
If he doesn’t pay my rent I’m never speaking to him again, tell him that
Celia: Will do.
What’s your schedule like these next few nights? Have a friend I want you to meet.
GM: Dani lists her work and school hours.
Pretty wide open apart from that. I’ve kinda been falling off the radar with my friends ¯\(ツ)/¯
But yeah would love to meet yours
Celia: Dani needs to stop taking things at face value. No one Celia actually calls friend would want to meet the thin-blood.
Perf. I’ll set it up and let you know. Don’t ignore your friends though. Easy to isolate after sexual abuse but maybe some normalcy will do you good.
GM: I just feel a lot more able to talk about what happened with you and your mom, you know?
Celia: Yeah. I get it. Can feel really lonely, like you’re the only one who has ever been through it. I’m here for you. Sometimes just therapeutic to have a normal day out with friends is all I mean, helps remind you the world isn’t terrible.
Celia types out another message on her phone, debating if she wants to send it or not. She’s not looking for sympathy. But maybe it will do something for Dani. She presses Send.
Happened to me. Never told my mom. I know it’s not the same, prob doesn’t help, but you’re not alone.
GM: Oh my god I’m so sorry. I can talk now if you’d rather than text
Celia: Working on a project. Can talk later though.
GM: Ok. But thanks. Really glad to have you + your mom in my life right now
We’re happy to have you in ours, too.
She’s glad she told Pete not to erase her memories. It might be a small lapse in security, but if Dani and Diana feel better to have each other then she won’t be the one to take it away. Everyone needs someone.
Tuesday night, 15 March 2016, PM
GM: Rampart Street is a shithole. Situated only just across the border with Treme, it’s the gutter that Bourbon Street’s sleaze runs off to. Buildings are run down and neglected and sprayed with gang tags. Celia hears a car alarm and gunshot go off in the distance. Homeless people sleep on the trash-littered streets. Prostitutes advertise their services. The Pavaghi doll she and Elyse worked on said its family were slumlords here. Kindred graffiti, its meaning only plain to dead eyes in the language of the Cacophony, proclaims that one is entering Savoy’s territory.
Reggie eyes the place and then Celia warily as he parks the car. “Stick close.”
Alana wrinkles her nose.
Celia: “Won’t it look suspicious if we’re all with her?” Celia asks Reggie. She trusts his judgement more than her own in this; he has done this sort of work before far more often than her.
GM: Reggie shrugs. “Said you wanted her to go in on her own. I mean when we get out.”
She nods, has Alana turn her phone on so they can listen in, and tells her they’ll be right here. Reminds her to fidget like the thin-blood had. Offers some last words of encouragement and advice, anything she thinks will keep the girl safe, and finally sends her on her way.
Celia: She has Reggie scope out the best area for their ambush while they wait. Somewhere secluded where they can hem him in and no one can see.
GM: The site they’re to spray the door at is a shitty-looking house with boarded-up windows and cracked glass. Paint peels from the grimy walls. The place doesn’t look like it’s been lived in for years.
Celia: It hasn’t been. She knows why, too, and the words that boy had once told her to try to scare her come to her now about the murder-suicide, body baked in the oven and eaten, and still-missing flesh.
She hadn’t realized it was this house. But she doesn’t know of any licks that have claimed it; maybe it just makes a good target since no one fucks with it.
GM: Alana gets out, eyeing some of the nearby homeless warily, and sprays an ‘x’ over the door.
With a low creak, it slowly swings open.
Celia: Oh, no. This hadn’t been part of the plan.
GM: She glances back towards her mistress uncertainly.
Celia: She doesn’t think it’s a good idea for Alana to go inside. She’d thought she was dealing with someone else, someone less… scary. Someone normal. A lick, certainly, but the normal sort.
What happens if she sends Alana inside? She dies because they think she’s the thin-blood?
Celia’s unfamiliar lips purse at the thought.
“This is bad,” she says to the boys. “I thought it would come out. I can sneak in, maybe…?”
Rusty should have come to this. His animal form is less noticeable than hers, and he’s her resident stealth expert. But it would be the both of them inside without her if it had come to that. She’s glad she left him at home; there’s no temptation now to send him in and risk him as well.
GM: “You shouldn’t go in, babe, way too risky!” says Randy.
Celia: But is that because it’s actually risky or because he’s in love with her because she feeds him blood?
She glances at Reggie.
GM: “Do what you gotta do,” shrugs Reggie, “but I’ll be right behind if you’re goin’ in.”
Celia: “Stay in the car, Randy. We’re not out in fifteen you get out of here. Reggie, with me. Pretend you’re Randy.”
Her hands blur across her face in the shadows of the backseat, twisting her features until she’s Celia once more. She’s glad, not the for the first time, that the triplets are nearly identical; Reggie will have no difficulty passing as his younger brother. It’s something they’ve done before, though normally with more warning.
Celia slides out of car, the vague outline of a plan taking hold in her brain. She shouldn’t have done this so early. Should have waited until Saturday. But the thing on the bug supports this ridiculous idea of hers.
“Deja,” she says quietly to Alana, “you can’t go in there. I heard about the last thin-bloods that did. I’ll go. I’m not like you. And I can… can tell them more.” She puts a tiny tremor in her voice, suggesting nerves and fear and dread and something… steely. Determined. She takes the recording and tells “Deja” to go home.
Celia: Staring at the house in front of her, Reggie at her side, she can’t help but think about a night from another lifetime.
How the door at Audubon had swung open for her at the lightest touch.
Then, as now, she had a recording with her. Then, as now, she had told someone to wait in the car. Then, she had been worried that her father was waiting inside. He or his master, the monster that crawled out from under the bed.
She had gone in anyway, summoned by the beckon of the open door.
She remembers the stillness of the house. The shadow that had separated itself from the night. The hand that clapped over her mouth to keep her from screaming.
The moment had stretched into eternity. Her eyes had rolled in terror when the harsh voice began to speak to her. She was certain she was dead.
But that was then, when she was a breather with a broken arm and bruised flesh and afraid of things that go bump in the night.
Now she’s seven years a lick. At home in the dark.
Now she’s the thing that goes bump in the night.
She’s no longer afraid of shadows.
Now, though, she knows that this lack of fear will not serve her. The thing inside, whoever it is, was expecting someone that isn’t her. They’d wanted the thin-blood. The informant. The spy.
They don’t know that they’re about to get the Chameleon.
She slips into the mask with the tremor she had put into her voice seconds ago. She slips into it with the way her shoulders hunch slightly. She slips into it with the shuffle of her feet across the ground, weight shifting from toe to toe, and the way she peers into the shadows of the condemned home as if she cannot see clearly in the dark.
Inside her chest, her heart beats. Her diaphragm expands. She blinks. Smooth, practiced gestures from living with her breather family and passing for so long as human.
She slips into the mask of Celia the ghoul.
GM: “Deja” looks worried for a moment. More than the real Deja probably would have ever been. But at Celia’s words, the cowardly thin-blood all but bolts for the safety of the car.
Randy starts to protest when Celia leaves. Reggie pats his shoulder and says, “I got her, bro. Keep ’Lana safe.”
Deja passes off the bug receiver to Celia.
“Chin high,” Reggie says loudly, taking Celia by the arm as they exit the car. “I got you.”
Celia: He says it twice, that he’s got her.
She hopes he’s right.
Celia nods as if steeling herself and lifts her chin as advised. Wheels within wheels; she projects the aura of false confidence, skittish but determined, bolstered by the man beside her. Her hand slides into his as they approach the open door, sinking into the role of Celia and her beloved boyfriend.
She hesitates on the threshold. Her eyes search the gloom, an unfocused glaze to them with a slightly puckered brow as if she cannot see, as if she is not a creature of the night.
GM: It’s a long-feeling walk to the abandoned house’s front door. A homeless man sleeping the next block over turns over and moans. Another homeless man points out the pair, leers at them past rotted teeth, and cackles.
“Hehehe… heh heh… hehe…”
The door is still ajar.
Reggie gives it a push.
There’s a low creak of floorboards as the pair stride inside. The stench is what hits Celia immediately. It’s awful. It smells like no one has lived here for years.
It smells like there’s a reason no one’s lived here for years.
Celia’s eyes see through the gloom, this time. Well that they do. There are no lights.
GM: The inside of the house looks even worse than the outside. Paint doesn’t jut peel from the decaying walls, it’s gone in sections and exposing rotted wooden beams beneath. The house is empty of furnishings and decor. Truly bare houses always look so strange. So empty.
Reggie peers through the gloom. He doesn’t turn on a flashlight.
He takes a creaking step forward.
That’s when the door slams shut behind them.
Celia: The slam of the door is enough to make Celia the ghoul jump. She clutches at Reggie’s hand, forcing the heart inside her chest to beat faster, faster, faster. Her breath comes in quick, short puffs of air.
Behind the mask, Jade assesses the situation coolly, picking apart the details with what she knows of her kind.
It doesn’t add up.
Anyone with an aptitude for shadow dancing wouldn’t have needed to hire a thin-blood to plant the device when it could have broken in on its own without getting caught. Unless it’s near the door, standing still. Or not shadow dancing.
Or it’s a trap, set from the word “go.”
At Reggie’s side, Celia lets a tremble appear in her hands. She clenches them as if to obscure the tiny movement, and inside their sockets she darts her eyes in half a hundred directions.
She’s had so much practice at being afraid.
GM: An inhumanly deep voice splits the rancid air.
“Room for two more in the oven…”
Celia can’t see where it’s coming from.
But there’s a new smell wafting up her nose.
A smell like cooking flesh.
Celia: This was the worst idea in the history of ideas.
“My mistake,” she stutters, “sorry to disturb you, I was looking for someone else.”
Celia takes a step backward, tugging Reggie with her toward the door. She reaches for the handle.
GM: Her fingers close around it. The door does not budge.
Reggie snarls and whips out his gun, eyes furiously scanning the gloom.
“You have ’til it preheats to get me to let you go.”
Celia: Celia puts her hand on Reggie’s arm, shaking her head. A gun isn’t going to do either of them any good. She doesn’t think this is a lick that they’re dealing with. Ghost? Something else, something darker? Whatever it is, she doesn’t think it’s what wanted to put the bug in the spa.
How quickly do ovens preheat? Depends on the temperature. They have a few minutes at most.
She doesn’t want to know. She tries not to think about it.
“Thank you,” Celia says to the still-empty room, unsure of where to look. Maybe she sounds silly, thanking someone for the opportunity to not die, but being polite has never hurt before. “I’m very sorry for barging in on you like this. I hadn’t realized that the home is claimed.”
What does it want? What do all things want? Sustenance. Safety. Information. Power.
“I was supposed to meet someone,” she says again. “They hired someone else to look into a lick that I know, and I… I wanted to help. I’m well-suited to that sort of thing.”
She swallows, the sound loud in the still, musty air.
“My name is Celia,” she offers.
GM: A horrible sound splits the air. Booming and scraping, like someone alternately pounding and scraping the inside of an oven as hard as they can.
It sounds almost like laughter.
“Meat doesn’t have a name.”
Celia: Celia lets out a breathless giggle. She nods her head, hand tightening around Reggie’s.
“You’re right,” she agrees. “Is that what you’re looking for? Meat? I’m happy to bring you some. There was an article in the paper a few years back, about a man who cooked his girlfriend and ate part of her. No one has wanted to touch this place since.”
The words linger.
“I imagine you’re hungry, without regular visits.”
GM: Reggie’s face is still bared in a snarl. He hasn’t put away his gun.
The room is starting to feel warmer. Celia can hear the steady ‘whoomp’ sound of an older, gas-powered oven.
“I want ghoul meat… vampire meat…”
Celia: “Well, see, that’s perfect, isn’t it? I can bring you some. Ghouls and vampires. Steady supply for letting us go. You won’t have to be hungry anymore.”
GM: “You might lie… you smell so good…”
Celia: “A lot of people would lie in this situation,” Celia says, “but I’m not. I know what it’s like to be hungry. And I had a friend… a friend, maybe like you, who couldn’t gather his own sustenance. He didn’t want meat, but it was similar. I helped him gather what he needed.”
“If you want,” she says after a second of hesitation, “I can stay here with you and send my friend here to get meat for you. If you promise you’ll let me go afterward, when he comes back.”
“Just to show you that I’m good for it.”
GM: Reggie looks at her like she’s crazy.
Celia: Maybe she is.
GM: “How fuckin’ fast do you expect us to round up other licks and renfields?” he mutters under his breath.
Celia: “Deja,” she murmurs back.
GM: “Right,” says Reggie, louder. “We got a vampire we can bring you. Right now.”
The air is silent.
But getting warmer.
Finally, the deep voice splits the stillness.
Celia: “Thank you,” Celia says again. “He’ll go get the vampire.”
There’s a long pause, then she asks, “Would you still like me to keep you company while you wait?”
GM: There’s a harsh sound like a slamming oven door. The voice scrapes like angry metal.
“People come into my house. Less people leave. That’s the RULE.”
Celia: “I’ll stay,” Celia says. “I’m going to move away from the door and you can open it for him and he’ll bring the vampire. That way we stay within the rules.”
GM: “Ask again.”
“Oven’s warm already…”
There’s a deep inhalation-like reverberation.
“You smell so good…”
Celia: “I misspoke,” Celia says to it, “my apologies. I only meant that I didn’t want to infringe upon your hospitality by making an assumption.” Celia gives Reggie’s hand a squeeze before she lets go, stepping further into the room and away from the door.
GM: Reggie gives Celia a long look, then tries the door. It opens. He doesn’t look back, just strides out.
It slams shut after him.
Silence fills the now-warm house.
Celia: Celia tries not to flinch at the sound of the door closing behind her. She hopes he hurries. She continues breathing, blinking, sending blood through her body to force her heart to beat. She continues to look human.
After a moment of silence, she finally takes a chance and opens her mouth.
“Do you mind if I speak to you, or would you prefer that I wait quietly?”
GM: The thing’s answer booms out like a slamming oven door.
Celia: That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for conversation.
GM: The house gets steadily warmer.
Celia: “How often?” Celia asks the warm house. “For your deliveries.”
GM: “‘Til I’m hungry.”
Celia: “Okay,” she says, as if that makes sense. “My friend, the one I mentioned I help? He’s a ghost. I heard there are a lot of them in the Quarter.”
GM: “Can’t eat ghosts.”
Celia: “No meat on ghosts, though,” she says with a nod. “But a lot of licks here, too. And ghouls. You picked a good place for it.”
GM: “Taste good. Licks taste best.”
Celia: “Can I ask… do you cook them before you eat them? I thought they might, ah, not play well with fire?”
GM: “Have to eat fast.”
Celia: “You know that licks, um, they regrow. You could harvest it, maybe, and then the next night they’re healed. Maybe they’re good for more than one meal?”
GM: “Like the sounds they make.”
“Might try. If the sounds stay good.”
Celia: “I could bring you handcuffs,” Celia offers, “so that they don’t wiggle around on you.”
Celia: “Okay. I’ll get you a good pair. Really strong.”
“Are you… are you a ghost?” She glances around the still dark room. “You don’t have to tell me, if you don’t want, if it’s rude to ask.”
Celia: Celia nods, falling silent.
She hopes Reggie gets back soon.
GM: Silence stretches.
The house continues to gets warmer.
It’s stiflingly so by the time a bang sounds on the door.
It creaks open. Reggie comes inside, half-dragging Deja by their hair. They’re still gagged and tied up. They look at Celia desperately and make helplessly muffled sounds past the gag.
“This fuck was trying to escape,” says Reggie.
Celia: Celia nods. She had assumed it would try.
She almost feels bad for it.
GM: “Randy ties good knots, at least.”
“Mmm-f! L-pl-mmmm! Pmmm!!!” the thin-blood begs, pinking tears squeezing from their eyes.
There’s a distant sound like an oven door slamming open.
“Leave the meat.”
Deja tries to scream past the gag and meets Celia’s gaze imploringly.
Celia: The tears and screaming make her hesitate.
She feels bad for it. She really does. No one deserves this sort of fate, being fed to a monster.
But it had spied on her. It learned things about her. It would have sold that information—even though it’s gone—to the highest bidder, or to any bidder. Someone could break into its mind and learn everything despite what Pete had done to it.
Reggie’s hand on her arm keeps her from saying anything stupid. She lets him pull her toward the door.
It had a miserable existence anyway. It’s better this way.
GM: “Bring a lick next time.”
But the door opens for Celia and Reggie when they move to leave. There’s a heavy and final-sounding metallic crashing noise. Raw, terrified screams follow in the pair’s wake.
A miserable existence.
And a miserable end.
Tuesday night, 15 March 2016, PM
GM: “What the fuck was that?” asks Reggie as Randy drives them off.
Celia: Celia had made Reggie sit in the back with her on the way out. She’s not trembling—she only does that for show—but she can’t help but think that she had come very, very close to being the one that ended up in the oven. The hand that holds his is white-knuckled. She leans against him.
“I don’t know,” she says, “I have no idea. I don’t think it’s a ghost. Ghosts don’t eat meat. But if it’s eating licks… someone told me that, you know, we evolve to eat things weaker than us. So if it’s eating licks, it’s stronger than licks.”
“It said it likes how we sound when we scream.”
GM: “Well that’s a fucking happy thought,” mutters Reggie.
“So you gonna feed it more?” asks Randy.
Celia: “I… guess so.”
GM: “Yeah, how’s that help us?” asks Reggie.
“The mistress could feed it people she doesn’t like,” says Alana, somewhat white-faced herself.
“Okay, sure. But why not just walk the fuck away?” says Reggie.
Celia: “Because what if it can come after us?”
“We need to find out what it is. What its limits are.”
“And maybe we can make it a friend.”
GM: “Well… it wanted you to help it eat, mistress,” says Alana. “That’s something?”
Celia: “I had a theory it might not be able to leave the house. But if I’m wrong…”
GM: “Why can’t it?” asks Reggie.
Celia: “I don’t know. Why would it accept a trade if it could go out and get its own?”
GM: “Maybe it’s… lazy?” asks Randy. “Like, I can make food myself. But I like someone else making it more.”
“Amen to that,” says Reggie. “Thing sounded… I dunno, how hungry did you think it was?”
“If I’m hungry enough, I’ll say fuck it and cook something.”
Celia: “It thought I was human,” she says, “because of the shadow dancing. Both of us. I don’t think we’d have been able to leave if it knew the truth.”
“Unless it wasn’t fooled by that at all.”
“Since it kept saying I smell good, not you.” Celia glances at Reggie.
GM: “Maybe it smelled what good care you take of your body, mistress,” smiles Alana.
“You do smell so good.”
Celia: Her smile is fleeting.
“Thanks. But I doubt it.”
GM: “Well… that means either you fooled it, or you didn’t, but it still wanted you to get more… ‘food’ anyway?”
Celia: “And handcuffs.”
Celia tells them about the “harvesting.”
“That suggests it has a body, doesn’t it?”
GM: “Why didn’t we see anything?” asks Reggie.
Celia: “Turning invisible is a fairly common shadow dancing ability.”
“But… it could not have a body, I don’t know.”
“It wasn’t very forthcoming when I asked.”
GM: “All right, so how do we find out more?”
“Or, main point, whether it can leave the house or not?”
“‘Cuz if it can’t, fuck it.”
Celia: “Thin-bloods might know more about it, if they know to avoid the house after the last time.”
Pete, too, but she thinks he might be mad at her.
Maybe her recently returned from the Shadowlands former ghost friend.
GM: She’s still not sure how the fuck that happened.
Celia: Right? How the fuck?
It’s not like she can call him up and tell him that she knows.
But she’d nudged him toward her all the same, so she’s hoping her phone rings at some point.
GM: “More low-lifes,” says Reggie. “That’s fun.”
“I have to go to bed soon, mistress, for work… can we get my face fixed?” asks Alana.
Celia: “Yes. Randy, drop us at the spa.”
GM: “Got it, babe.”
Tuesday night, 15 March 2016, PM
GM: They’re soon back at the spa. Reggie says he has other places to be if Celia doesn’t need him, but Randy seems happy to play taxi driver waiting in the car. Alana seems even happier to get back to Jade’s suite so Celia can fix her face.
Or perhaps relieved, more so than happy.
Relieved and shuddering with disgust.
Celia: Celia sends Randy and Alana inside to take a moment alone with Reggie.
GM: He smirks, grabs her head with both hands, and pulls her into a hungry and forceful kiss.
Celia: Oh. Well. That’s not what she’d been going for, but she doesn’t complain.
GM: He pushes her against the seat and kneads her breasts as his tongue explores her mouth. His fingers soon find their way between her legs as he unzips his pants and pulls her head down over his firm member.
Celia: He knows better than that. There’s a snarl from the lick he’s trying to shove down as she yanks away, flipping the pair of them so that her thighs are spread over either side of his lap. A bit of maneuvering and she finds another hole for him to fill.
GM: This is far from Reggie’s first attempt to get head, but he doesn’t complain. He holds her tight against him as his tongue meets hers again, and then he’s pulling up her shirt to squeeze and suck her breasts. She rides him as he does, burying his cock inside her, and soon the car seat is wet with his sweat, both if their fluids, and smells of fucking.
Sex in the car has always held a special place for her.
Celia: Maybe, in another life, Celia would feel some sort of emotional upheaval about this. Maybe she’d cry and tell him how afraid she was, that she thought maybe he might not come back for her, that she thought she was going to die—burn, she was going to burn—but there he was like some bounty hunter in shining armor.
But that’s not this life. He’s not that guy.
And she’s not that girl anymore.
She takes what she wants from him, her movements frantic and needy, her nails raking down his back when he pushes her over the edge to find release. She doesn’t stop. The windows fog. It reminds her of another night, a night where she whispered to a different boy that she loved him. There are no tender whispers now. No promises of the future. Just two people releasing pent up tension in the back seat of a car.
GM: “Fuck,” Reggie mutters when they’re done. His motions were no less hungry and needful than hers, and there’s bite marks over her own skin. He seems like he had a lot of stress to burn off too.
“Doing this with my bro right inside.”
“God, that makes it even hotter.”
Celia: When it’s done she stays still above him, his rapidly softening cock finally making its way out of her.
It doesn’t bother him that he’s fucking his brother’s “girlfriend?”
She’s not sure she wants to ask.
But she does.
GM: “That makes it even hotter,” Reggie repeats with a smirk, stroking Celia’s face.
“What’s his is mine…”
Celia: “That’s a real fucked up family dynamic,” she tells him, but there’s not a lot of judgement in her voice. She’s probably done worse.
And, really, it is kind of hot.
Maybe she’ll get them together sometime.
GM: Reggie shrugs. “I take what I want.”
Celia: “And what do you want?”
She’s not asking about her. Obviously he wants her.
GM: “You, for starters.”
“You and your mom together would be even hotter, with your kid just outside the door…”
Celia: Celia snorts.
“My mom and not my sister?”
GM: “She isn’t really your sister. That makes it less hot.”
Celia: “What if I want you and your brother at the same time? Hot then?”
GM: Reggie snorts. “Randy wouldn’t even know what to do with his cock.”
“He’s a total moron around you.”
Celia: “What’s he like when he isn’t around me?”
GM: “Less of a moron.”
“More like me.”
Celia: “He should try being like that all the time.”
GM: “You just turn him into a complete idiot.”
Celia: It’s not like she means to.
GM: “That’s happened with him and a couple other girls before. Ones he was really into.”
“But never this bad.”
Celia: “You telling me that your brother is in love with me?”
GM: Reggie snorts again.
“If that’s what you want to call being a total fucking idiot, sure.”
“Three-way with him would suck. Rusty too. He just isn’t into that.”
“Maybe my mom, though.”
Celia: Celia considers that. She’d only ever idly thought of fucking Regina. The woman is a tiger, though, she’ll give her that.
GM: “Hey, deal. I’ll let you fuck me and my mom together, if you let me fuck you and your mom together.”
Celia: “If my mom ever wants to fuck you, I’ll let you know.”
GM: “She’s not ever gonna on her own. We gotta encourage her.”
“Deal of a lifetime I’m offering,” he smirks. “My mom’s fantastic in bed.”
Celia: “How would you know that?”
GM: “‘Cuz I know her. She’s fierce. And I know she still fucks a lot of guys.”
Celia: “And you think she’ll want to fuck her son and her other son’s girlfriend?”
GM: Reggie just smirks. “Don’t think I can talk her into it? Since when have I let you down?”
Celia: “Never,” she admits, “that’s why I like you so much.”
“Tell you what. Talk your mom into it and I’ll talk to mine about it.”
GM: “Just bring her back to the house and we’ll make it happen.”
Celia: “I am not going to rape my mom.”
“She has an aversion to sex. She needs some gentle coaxing.”
GM: “She’ll enjoy it once we get going. Sometimes you just gotta rip the band-aid off. Doing it slow just makes it worse.”
Celia: “Don’t touch my mom,” Celia says flatly. “I’ll let you know when you can.”
“Until then, keep your hands and dick and mouth to yourself.”
GM: “That three-way with my mom and me’ll be waiting when you do.”
Celia: Celia rolls her eyes. They’d gotten off topic.
She almost asks him again what he wants, but the moment has passed. The way his eyes had lingered on the blood earlier had made her think that maybe he wants more than being a ghoul forever.
“Did Rusty make any headway on the hunter?” she asks instead.
GM: “Dunno. Ask him.”
Celia: Celia sighs at him.
“That’s what I pay you for. Help him with it. I don’t want to be attacked again.” She pats his cheek. “Then I can’t fuck you anymore, and that would be a tragedy.”
GM: “It really would be.”
“Not to get all mushy and shit, but fucking you is somethin’ fucking else.”
Celia: She grins. “I knew you had a heart somewhere.”
“You know if you’re ever turned your dick probably won’t work anymore.” Idle words, but she watches his face as she says them, looking for a reaction to the thought of being turned.
GM: “How’s drinking blood compare?” he asks, frankly.
Celia: “That’s what sex is to most of them. It’s… comparable, honestly. I can do it their way and be completely satisfied, or do it this way and be completely satisfied.”
GM: “Sounds like an okay trade.”
Celia: “Can’t walk in the sun. No food. More rules. Need permission to travel between territories. You’ll get a little Beast of your very own. It can get pretty lonely.”
“Advantages too, though.”
“Do you want that? To be a lick?”
GM: “You’re tougher and stronger, right?”
GM: “Sounds like a good deal.”
“Gotta pay extra for the better gun. But fuck if I don’t want the better gun.”
Celia: “I don’t think you’d be a good Toreador,” Celia points out, “unless you have some hidden artistic talent I don’t know about. Play the kazoo?”
GM: “I’m an artist at fucking, aren’t I?”
Celia: Celia laughs. “They don’t count that. Shame, too, I think they’d make me a grand master if they did.”
GM: “They sure would,” Randy smirks.
“Whatever, though. Vampire’s a vampire.”
Celia: “I’ll see what I can do for you, if that’s something you want.”
GM: There’s that same hungry gleam in his eye.
“Bet on it.”
Celia: Celia lets that hunger turn into something else. She takes him again. It’s quick, it’s messy, and when it’s over she presses her lips against his as if it’s the last time she’ll ever do so.
It isn’t, she knows, but the countdown has started.
Wednesday night, 16 March 2016, AM
GM: Alana is all-too eager to get back to Jade’s suite once Celia and Reggie are finished fucking. She looks positively miserable to be trapped in Deja’s face. But she doesn’t whine.
Randy obliviously asks if she and his bro had a good talk.
“Know he can be kinda a jerk around you, babe.”
Celia: “It was interesting,” she says. “But he won’t give it a rest about fucking my mom.”
Celia leads the trio to her workstation, though, and lets Alana get comfortable on the table.
“You have an audition tomorrow,” she tells the girl, “that you’ll need to be me for.”
GM: “I love being you, mistress. I do all sorts of dirty things in front of a mirror, when I am…” she purrs.
Celia: That’s pretty hot, Celia admits to herself.
“I’m going to fuck you while you’re me.”
“I’m going to make you get down on your knees and suck the blood out of my cock.”
“And then I’m going to bend you over and fuck you.”
GM: Alana’s eyes positively flutter.
“Hurry, mistress…” she breathes.
Randy just clears his throat.
“Right, uh, I’ll stand guard outside.”
Celia: Celia finds the needle full of local anesthetic so that the girl doesn’t need to suffer while she’s on the table.
“Wait,” she says to Randy.
GM: He pauses.
Celia: Celia pierces Alana’s flesh with the needle and pushes down on the plunger to inject her with it.
“Do you want to fuck her while she’s me?”
GM: “Thank you, mithress,” Alana murmurs as the numbing sets in.
Her eyes get very flat, though, at Celia’s offer.
Celia: “You don’t want to let me watch you fuck him?” Celia asks her, running a hand down her cheek.
“What if we share you?”
GM: Randy looks between her and Celia. “Uh, I’m good, babe. Rather save it for just us, our special night.”
Alana looks even less happy at those last two words.
Celia: “Mm,” Celia says, waving a hand at him to send him on his way.
GM: “He’ll juth blow hith load before hith panth are even off,” Alana says loudly as his form retreats.
Celia: “What a compliment that would be,” Celia teases her.
GM: “Then he’d juth cwy.”
“Thath heth thoooo thorry, babe.”
Celia: She waits until the door closes behind him before she scowls down at Alana.
“Ten swats for that. I told you to be nice to him.”
GM: “Yeth, mithreth,” the ghoul murmurs.
“I’m thorry I dithobeyed.”
Celia: No she isn’t.
But Celia doesn’t correct her.
She just begins the work to transform Deja’s face into Celia’s.
GM: “I juth wan the beth for you, mithreth,” Alana says as she works, keeping her lip movements minimal.
Celia: “I’ve been thinking about that,” Celia says while she twists the flesh and muscle to resemble her own. She doesn’t even need a reference; she’s sure that she could do this transformation blind.
GM: “Yeth, mithreth?”
Celia: “I think I’d like you to learn an art form. You keep asking to come to the parties, and while the sight of you on your knees certainly titillates me, I think you’d enjoy yourself more if you were able to be adored by everyone.”
GM: “You know I’m goo with ewything here, mithreth, I can make them all pwethy… no’ ath pwethy ath you, of courth,” she says with an anesthesia-stiffened smile, “bu clother to i’.”
Celia: “Mm,” Celia says once more.
GM: “I can learn otha things, though, if tha’d make you happier, mithreth,” she adds.
Celia: “I’m just debating how to move things around if we bring on Louise full time as a manager here.”
“I thought maybe you’d want something else to do.”
GM: “Oh I love thpa work, mithreth, I’m no’ u’appy here.”
“But I wan’ tho do wha’ever maketh you happieth, moth of all.”
“Juth thell me wha’.”
Celia: “We’ll get past LA first and see where that leaves us.”
She moves on from Alana’s face, now a carbon copy of her own, to begin sculpting the rest of the body. Their sizes are similar, but Celia tucks a few things here and there and pads a few others.
GM: “Okay, mithreth. I’ll love gowig tho Hollywoo’ with you.”
Celia: “Have to nail the audition first,” Celia tells her while she finishes the work. “Know your lines?”
GM: “Yeth, mithreth, I’ve rea’ an’ pwacithed ova an’ ova.”
Celia: “Perfect. Now the real question: how big of a cock should I give myself?”
GM: “The biggeth, mithreth,” Alana beams, as much as she can.
“Thpli me open…”
Celia: “You’re not going to be able to get your pretty little mouth around it if I make it that big,” Celia teases. But she drops beneath the table to find the flesh she had harvested prior, pulling free a handful of preserved human skin, muscles, and connective tissue from the man Gui had dropped off. When was that? Last week? Two weeks ago? Back before her Requiem had blown up with hunters and Roderick and thin-bloods, when she’d just been practicing her ability to turn flesh into other objects. The dick had remained mostly intact, but she adds to it now, globbing on a handful of flesh and molding it into a roughly phallic shape. The skin is like clay beneath her fingers.
She’s done with the sculpting in short order and holds the finished product up for Alana to see, asking if she thinks it’s big enough.
GM: “Cram ith in, mithreth, I wan’ tho thoke on ith…” Alana says with a numb-sounding purr.
“Yeth, thath nithe an’ fat, mithreth… thick in in me…”
Celia: “I will, pet. As soon as you stop drooling on yourself and take your swats.”
It’s a deft bit of work to turn her clit into a cock. She uses the borrowed flesh from the dead man, twisting things around to connect blood vessels, arteries, and nerve endings. She’s done the reverse enough times and practiced on enough corpses that the work itself is quick. She’s done it to herself, too, but only for curiosity’s sake; she’s never actually fucked anyone like this yet.
Once it’s on she strokes a hand along the flesh, marveling at the way it comes to life beneath her touch. It stiffens, aching to be touched.
Celia glances down at the rest of herself. She kept her pussy and tits intact this time rather than smoothing it all out; she wants the best of both worlds, Alana’s fingers in her cunt with her lips on her cock. Already she’s wet. She can feel it when she moves, stripping from her shirt and bra to leave the clothing discarded on the floor. She stands over the table near Alana’s face.
“This is what you want?” she asks, stroking a hand up and down her freshly forged cock.
GM: Beauty is pain. Always has. Always will. Completely remaking some of the most sensitive spots on her body is excruciatingly painful, but there’s pleasure to it, too. That knife-thin edge between pain and pleasure, slanted heavily towards pain, but not enough that she can’t lose sight of the other side. Celia’s new cock is sore even as it stiffens. There’s a lot of hurt in her, now. Hurt she can take out on this simpering little sub. Fuck her until she screams. Fuck her until she’s jelly. Fuck all the pain away.
The simpering little sub who looks exactly like her.
Is this what it was like for Jamal? Maybe she can strangle the little bitch too. Pinch her nose. Really see things from his perspective. Knowing Alana, she’s going to enjoy the spankings anyway. They aren’t nearly the punishment for her they were for Diana.
“Yeth, mithreth,” Alana whimpers, motionless on the table. Celia can see in her eyes how hungry she is for that cock. How hungry another Celia is for that cock.
She demurely lowers her gaze. “Bu’ we hath tho do my thwath firth, liy you thaid…”
Celia: “Mm,” Celia murmurs, running a hand down Alana’s cheek. “I do have to swat you first, you’re absolutely right.”
It’s less for Alana than it is for her; she knows the girl gets off to it the same as she does, that it’s not so much a punishment for either of them as it is foreplay.
“I’m going to get something,” she tells the ghoul, “be naked and bent over the table when I get back.”
Her bare feet make not a sound against the floor as she strides off.
GM: “Yeth, mithreth,” the ghoul answers demurely. When Celia gets back, she sees herself naked and bent over as instructed.
This should help Jade play the role of Celia’s domitor even better.
She actually has spanked the girl.
Or at least her lookalike.
Celia can smell her lookalike’s arousal, too, see the wetness trickling down her thighs. Alana has already been fingering herself. Fingering Celia’s body.
Celia: “Now there’s a sight,” Celia purrs as she stalks back into the room with a bag in hand. Alana’s sex glistens in the light shining down from above. Alana’s, she wonders, or Celia’s? And if this is Celia, what does that make her?
Jade sets the bag down on the table next to where Celia bends over, pressing her hips against her backside. Her cock has gone flaccid in her time away, but it won’t be long until it’s hard again. She leans into the quivering kine, bending with her until her lips touch the back of her neck. Her arms slide around the front of the girl, fingers roughly pinching and squeezing her nipples.
“You were touching yourself,” Jade murmurs. “Did I say you could do that?”
GM: “No, mithreth,” Alana whimpers, her hands falling away. She positions them behind her back, just over her ass, as if Jade has tied them there. “I’m vewy thowwy… ith your body, tha’ you own… both of them…”
“Alana’th an’ Thelia’th…”
Celia: “Alana and Celia,” Jade agrees, “they’re both mine. You are mine. I own you.”
A pair of cuffs taken from the bag snap around Celia’s wrists. Thick leather bands kept together by a metal chain, with a handful of D-rings that Jade can use to further attach her to things and position her as needed.
“Maybe,” she tells the ghoul, “I won’t let you cum tonight. Maybe I’ll take you right to that edge and deny you now since you decided to touch my property without my permission. I’ll tie you down and leave you squirming and listen to you beg me to let you. And then I’ll walk away.”
GM: “Yeth, mithreth…” Alana whimpers, giving a little gasp of pleasure at the sensation of the snugly securing leather. “I’ll juth kith the ground, where you walk away… an’ run my tongue over itht, an’ kith it, an’ be thankful for tha’…”
“I’m vewy happy for you tho own me, mithreth, even if you don’ let me cum…”
“I love how you own me…”
Celia: “What a good little girl,” Jade says to Celia. She takes a step away. “So submissive. So obedient. The perfect little whore.”
Saying the word sends a thrill through her. She says it again, “whore,” letting it fall from her tongue like a pet name.
“You are a little whore, aren’t you? No sex for a week, I said, because we both knew that was the ultimate punishment for you. Do you think you deserve it now, whore?”
She lashes out, striking Celia across the ass. Her eyes flash as the flesh jiggles and turns red beneath the blow.
GM: Celia cries out under the sharp smack and presses her face against the table.
“I detherve wha’e’r you thay I detherve, mithreth… your properthy doeth’n have opinions… your properthy juth obeyths…”
“I’m your whore, I o’ny fuck who you tell me…”
Celia: “Then why would you think it’s acceptable to fuck yourself? That’s my body. My property.”
Another sharp, stinging smack, harder this time.
GM: There’s another loud, equally sharp cry. Celia’s hands reflexively strain against her cuffs.
“Becauth I’m weak, mithreth, an’ a whore… I need you tho keep me in line… you tho conthrol my life for me… you know be’er than me…”
Celia: “You’re a whore,” Jade agrees. “My whore.”
Another smack. Only the third, and she’d promised ten.
An idea takes hold in her mind.
“You fuck who I tell you to, don’t you?”
She wonders if he’s even up at this hour. How he’d react to being given the offer to fuck Celia again.
GM: “Yeth, mithreth,” whimpers Celia. There’s a lower cry after the third smack. “I don’ ge’ tho dethide anything im my life tha’ you don’ le’ me.”
Celia: Maybe next time, after she has a chance to enjoy the girl first.
Another smack across the flesh, her handprint becoming more clear with each blow.
She reminds Celia what a whore she is every time she strikes her. Makes her apologize for being a whore. For touching herself. For not fucking Randy like the whore that she is. For refusing her mistress. For a host of sins, like the fact that her pussy is dripping onto Jade’s hand every time she strikes her.
Like a fucking faucet.
Jade reaches ten and pauses, watching her doppelganger writhe against the wrist restraints. She strokes her other hand almost tenderly down her spine.
“Have you learned your lesson, my pretty little whore?”
GM: She can see why Paul liked it.
Why Jamal liked it.
There’s something about the sight of Celia Flores, crying out and writhing beneath her mistress’ blows, but liking it, too. Getting wet like a fucking faucet with every smack as her ass turns redder. She’s a whore. A filthy whore who needs to be put in her place. Who needs to be governed, controlled, taught under pain. Tamed.
“Yes, mistress,” whispers Celia, shivering under her owner’s touch. “I’m a whore. I’m such a whore. But I’m your whore, you own me, and I just want to be pretty for you.”
She wonders if it’s Paul’s face and not Jade’s that would stare back at her from a mirror right now.
Celia: Everything is about sex. Except sex. Sex is about power.
Someone had told her that once. Someone she had fucked, she’s sure. The words come back to her now as she stares down at Celia Flores. “My pretty little whore.”
Stupid, to ghoul her mom. Celia gets another swat for that. Harder.
Stupid, to talk about it in her spa.
Another swat. Harder.
Stupid, to never learn how to erase memories and fix things herself.
Another swat. Harder.
Stupid, to lose it on Elyse in the first place.
Another swat. Harder.
But pretty. So pretty. The way her skin reddens, so pretty. The way it splits beneath her hand, so pretty. The blood that drips down her cheeks.
And the sounds. The sounds the black-skinned beauty had once coaxed out of her while her cousin watched, spread open on her lap so he could see everything, face red in humiliation and something she doesn’t want to name, something like desire. Long nails that could have shredded her dipping inside her cunt, slick with the evidence of her whore nature. Created for this. Groomed for this. By her mother, by her father, by her next door neighbor and his big, scary guards who liked to make her scream.
Fingers pinching her nipples. Squeezing. Crushing.
“Happy noises, little toy.”
Veronica’s words, Jade’s lips, the same helpless little mortal.
Jade takes what she wants from the whore. Bends her over the table and buries her borrowed cock inside. Yanks her up, flush against her chest, and licks the back of her neck. Takes her jaw in hand and turns her head to the side, licking the tears away.
“Delicious,” Paul purrs, “the tears of a whore.”
Feather-light fingers brush against her clit. They bring her to the edge but never over, teasing Celia until she’s a quivering, trembling mess in Jade’s arms.
They shift. Jade pins her to the wall with Celia’s legs around her waist.
“That’s what daddies are for,” Jamal says. His lips swallow her cries.
They shift. Jade kneels on the ground with Celia bent over in front of her. She guides her cock into Celia’s ass, fingers digging into her hips.
“This is your true purpose,” Paul grunts, “this is what whores do.”
She smells blood.
Celia on her knees, looking up with fear in her eyes. Jade’s fingers pinch her nose until she opens her mouth; she shoves herself inside, making the whore choke on it. Fingers around her throat cut off her air.
“Scream,” Jamal says.
Celia screams. Flesh muffles her cries.
No one knows what’s going on upstairs.
A claw slices into the tip of her dick. A final thrust and blood spurts into the waiting mouth.
Then it’s over.
She finishes with the whore.
Jade pulls Celia close, trailing kisses down her cheek and neck. Her mouth fastens around a nipple. Fingers move inside her body, coaxing her to another shuddering climax. She whispers words of encouragement and finally swallows the delicious cries with her mouth.
They bathe together in the suite, Celia curled against Jade’s body. Jade takes her again, gently this time, and they drink from each other at the point of climax. They ride the waves until they crest and crash against each other. Jade kisses her soundly when they’re done.
No whores, not here, just Jade and Celia.
GM: That’s one thing Paul never did.
He was never gentle.
Jade’s learned it time and again, with Elyse. You break the dolls fastest by pairing kindness with cruelty. Pain with pleasure. Sternness with affection. Hardness with gentleness. Humans are social animals, wired to be nice to people who are nice to them. The psyche has a hard time reconciling how to respond when someone is good and horrible at the same time. Stronger psyches recognize they are being hurt and refuse to give their tormentor a pass. Weaker psyches fold and rationalize why they’re being hurt. It’s okay because their tormentor is nice to them too.
Some take longer than others.
But Jade has yet to see a doll whose psyche didn’t fold.
Like her mother folded.
Like Celia would have folded, if only Paul or Maxen had been nice to her too. They’d have broken her completely.
Celia is weak.
Celia screams as Jade punishes her for it. For her disgusting weakness. For her disgusting whore nature. For being so fucking stupid. Celia cries. Celia hurts. Celia’s tears taste delicious with her hurt. But Celia does what she’d told, because that’s the only thing she can do right, even if it takes lots of punishments to make it sink in.
Stupid can be taught. It just takes longer, says Maxen.
So she teaches the stupid whore. Fists her cunt as she cries. Yanks her hair. Rams her ass until she bleeds. Pinches her nipples until she cries. Chokes her, throttles that stupid fucking bitch, cuts off her air, watches her gasp for it past the cock she tries to spit out, but there’s nothing she can do about it, with her hands bound behind her back. That earns more time with the fingers pinched over her nose. The stupid bitch will be taught. It’ll just take longer.
But she’ll be a whore. She’ll always be a whore. Jade can tell the instant she pierces her cock and lets Celia have a taste. Jade or Celia or somebody once knew a gay friend who said women gave worse blowjobs. “It’s just that you don’t have dicks. You don’t know what it’s like to be on the receiving end.”
Maybe that’s true.
But gay or straight, man or woman:
Jade has never seen a more enthusiastic blowjob than the one Celia gives.
At that first taste of vitae, everything else slides off her face like makeup under a faucet. All of her pain and fear. All of her cries. All of her tears. At that hit of her drug of choice, Celia the ghoul sucks cock like she’s receiving divine communion. She swallows it balls and all. She all but eats that dick off its owner’s crotch. At that taste of vitae, is forgiven. She wants it every bit as much as Jamal said she did. Celia Flores lives for the dick. If it means she gets a hit.
Such a whore.
She just wants blood instead of money.
Then, just like with Elyse.
Kissing in the shower. Making love in the shower. Making love with herself. Paul never did this. He should have. The sweet dessert after the meaty course. The indulgence. Dolls get rewards after their lessons, if they’re good. Celia told her mother she loved her and would always fight for her. Celia wants someone to do that for her too. Jade is who she can’t be around the monsters. Jade will stick up for her. Jade will defend her. Jade only punishes her out of love, so that she will do better, and Jade is so very very happy when she does better.
Maybe some would call it a devil’s bargain.
But the Flores family have been making those all their lives.
They lie in one another’s arms after they’re spent, warm and wet, owner and pet, Jade and Celia.
One soul in two bodies.
Two shards of the same psyche.
“I love you, mistress…”
Wednesday night, 16 March 2016, AM
Celia: Jade has a final task for Celia when they’re done: she tells her to collect the hair she’d taken from the girl last week, the really beautiful blonde hair, and to mix a darker color for it. Jade is going to turn it into a wig. Color doesn’t take long to mix, and Alana is a deft hand at applying it; in the end it’s a rich, coffee-colored brown with a balayage of caramel and mahogany. Natural, but just as glossy and beautiful as Jade would wear on her own head.
She checks her phone while Alana works, looking for a message back from Gui.
GM: 1920s, reads the Ventrue’s text back. Great Gatsby. In the South.
The parties aren’t costume-themed every week, or every other week. But this week, apparently, they are twice in a row, in defiance of previous patterns. The French Quarter lord and his master of elysium prefer to keep things fresh.
Piper, she’s sure, would kill to attend.
Celia: The Ventrue gets a thumbs up back from Jade. She’s glad there’s a theme this week and she hadn’t looked silly asking about something that didn’t exist. ‘20s, though. Interesting. Wasn’t that when his sire was all the rage?
She thanks Alana with a final kiss and sends her on her way, wishing her good luck at the audition tomorrow. She tells her to have fun with the fame, too; maybe even do a photo shoot if she wants. Somewhere sunny.
“Tell Randy to stick around.”
GM: Alana happily obeys all of her mistress’ instructions, and says she’s sure he’ll have lots of fun.
She asks for permission to finger herself (and more) in Celia’s body.
Celia: Jade gives Alana permission to do as she will so long as she doesn’t take any photos or video of anything sexual.
GM: Alana is thrilled to receive her mistress’ permission.
Celia: When Alana is finally gone Jade removes the borrowed cock and pulls out a handful of other supplies that she needs, enough flesh for three more masks. It had worked well with Roderick; now she needs one for Dani, her mother’s first face, and another for Roderick.
Dani’s first. The flesh from the dead girl works just as well here as it had for the hair, and while she works she searches through her contacts for Edith Flannagan’s number. They’re not best friends, per se, but they’ve seen each other around enough, and Jade gives her a ring.
GM: Jade’s Beast is a greedy, rapacious thing as she molds flesh to her will. She feels the vitae all but leaking out of her fingers as it snarls in her ear for daring to think:
Roderick’s sister would not approve of how this mask was made. Of where its parts came from.
She’s as much a Boy Scout as he is. Minus the boy parts.
Celia: Minus the boy parts and the Gold Award.
GM: Eagle Scout. Gold Award.
Just as lacking, regardless of the parts.
Celia: And now here Dani is causing problems for Celia without even realizing. Her Beast hates the thought of giving something so weak a chance to pass as someone else. Diana’s and Roderick’s will need to wait until she can slake her hunger.
GM: More than several rings go up before Celia is greeted by a strained-sounding, “Hello?” Children’s cries are audible in the background.
Celia: “Hey, Edith, it’s Jade. You have a second?”
First name basis and everything.
GM: The cries’ volumes initially don’t diminish. Then they do.
“Oh, of course, Jade. What can I do for you?”
Celia: “I’ll keep it brief. Sounds like your hands are full. I have some questions that I wanted to throw your way; you’re a bit of an expert in the subject. Are you free tomorrow or the night after? Whenever is best for you.”
GM: “I’m free either night,” Edith says quickly. “If you can bring some juice, I’ll answer whatever you want. The little ’uns are… hungry.”
Of course they’re hungry.
Everyone knows that Edith Flannagan keeps a larger stable of ghouls than Jade (plus a needy “daughter”), in a much smaller domain, and spoils them rotten. The bill is always coming due.
Celia: “Sure thing, Edith. How’s Thursday, then? Gives me time to go to the store.”
She tries not to think about the fact that she’s contributing to the problem.
GM: Who knows how much longer her neighbors are going to tolerate it.
Celia: Jade has heard rumors that the little monster might need a muzzle soon.
GM: “Okay, Thursday. How’s at 10—”
There’s a crashing sound, then a high-pitched shriek.
“Sorry, I have to go,” Edith says quickly.
The line clicks.
Celia: This is why she’s glad she’ll never have kids.
Jade hangs up and looks down at the finished mask. It’s cute enough. Won’t draw attention to Dani. She’ll need to figure out an easy way to apply and remove it, though, otherwise she’s going to have to spin a handful of tales. Something with the blood, probably.
She’ll figure it out.
She puts the rest of the material away for now.
GM: The prospect of kids with Stephen didn’t seem so bad, she once thought.
They’d have probably been less of a handful than Edith’s.
Celia: And less hungry.
Celia: The option is closed to her now, anyway. She finishes wiping down her station, sends a text to Alana to set up a meeting with Lucia, and showers off the smell of sex and blood before finding a spare shirt and skirt that she’d left here at some point.
She still needs to meet up with Gui, she can’t help but think as she dresses; she thought that he would have called her by now instead of making her chase after him. She’d mentioned multiple times she wants to talk. Maybe she needs to be more forward than blatantly sitting on his lap and flirting with him. Take his pants off, see where that gets her.
Celia entertains idle fantasies about the pair of them on her way out the door, Randy in tow. She’d meant to do something with him tonight, too.
“When’s our date?” she asks as she slides inside the front seat and directs him to the club. Not yet closing time; enough time to find a vessel for a quick snack before she has to meet Roderick.
GM: He asks if “Friday during normal hours” works, and upon hearing she has dinner with Henry Garrison then, he suggests the next Friday.
“It’s gonna be, it’s gonna be really special, babe,” he grins.
Celia: “Must be, if you’re making me wait a whole extra week for it.” She takes his hand in hers. “I’m excited.”
GM: “Me too. You’ll, you’ll really like it!”
Alana texts back that she’ll do so, and also gives a preemptive heads up that she’s going to bed.
Celia: She sends a heart to Alana, kisses Randy on the cheek when he pulls up outside the club and says she’ll see him tomorrow, and slips into the club to hunt.
GM: An hour later, Jade catches another two service industry workers hopping the late night bars. She goes back to one of their places. Or they go back to hers. It doesn’t matter. She’s irresistible. The kine all but melt around her into spontaneous orgy. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel to make them fall for her.
Veronica and Pietro always complain mortals can be too easy.
Celia: They have been lately, but Celia won’t complain like her elder clanmates. She doesn’t want to fight for her dinner if she doesn’t need to; she remembers all too clearly what happened last time. She’s pleased with the easy catch, pleased to be shared, pleased to cut herself and bleed into an empty container to save for later. Blood for Pete. Maybe for Edith. Maybe for Donovan, if she and Elyse ever make it work again. Not that she’ll need to pay a toll if they’re not working in Riverbend.
Oh no, how is she going to conveniently bump into her favorite lay now?
Wednesday night, 16 March 2016, AM
Celia: When she’s done with the men she catches a Ryde to the border. The girl disappears, the cat in its place, and when Roderick arrives she’s just as cuddly an affectionate as last time, perched on his lap while he travels the streets of Mid-City to take her back to his temporary haven.
GM: The pair have some time remaining when they get back. Roderick pets the cat and asks if the girl finally wants to learn to fight.
Or to enjoy belly rubs.
Celia: When the girl emerges—still on his lap, since Luna hadn’t bothered moving once he’d carried her inside and posed the question—she tells him that if he breaks her nose she’s going to hire someone to beat him up.
GM: “Beat me yourself. I’ll show you how,” he smirks.
Roderick says there’s three things for them to go over:
One, basic technical proficiency with very basic things, like throwing a straight punch, Celia getting her hands up to protect her head, that kind of stuff.
Second, developing the ability to react to getting hit without panic—and from that, the Beast—taking over. Roderick says this is harder than she might think. Lots of people just can’t do it, or take a ton of time to do it.
Third, developing the aggression response that lets her actually try to hurt the other person—outside of the Beast’s influence. Most people have a gut aversion to seriously, physically hurting other human beings. It’s an instinct he needs to train her rational self out of.
Celia: It’s an instinct she doesn’t have.
If someone is coming after her, she doesn’t think she’ll have any trouble responding with equal force.
But she nods anyway, because maybe she shouldn’t be like that.
GM: “I’m not talking about your Beast,” he adds. “It obviously has no problems going for the kill. We’re teaching you to fight without your Beast.”
“And this is a lot harder than you might think it is.”
Celia: Maybe for a nice guy like him.
GM: “Unless you’ve done serious physical harm to someone before, when the time comes, you WILL hesitate unless you’re a complete sociopath. It’s simply not something that modern society trains us to do.”
Celia: “Modern society didn’t train me to fight at all,” she says with a rueful smile. “But I’m happy we’re fixing that.”
She doesn’t touch his sociopath comment.
Of course she’s not a sociopath. She has so many feelings she doesn’t know what to do with them.
GM: “That’s right,” he nods. The pair have changed out of clothes into sweats (separately, at Roderick’s insistence, so they don’t get distracted fucking). He’s also cleared most of his living room. “Those second and third things are also linked. Because in addition to having a hard time inflicting violence, most people don’t react well to having it inflicted on them. They freeze or panic. The average person who gets punched in the mouth the first time doesn’t start swinging back, but goes into a psychological state we call ‘the black’ where their rational thinking and ability to formulate plans goes to shit and their animal fight or flight instinct kicks in.”
“They’re as much a danger to themselves as their opponents in that state. Or, to a physically matched opponent with actual combat training, probably no danger at all.”
“However, Kindred are different. When we go into ‘the black,’ our Beast takes over. The Beast obviously knows how to fight. This is why your average lick off the street, even without any other powers or advantages inherent to our condition, is so much more dangerous compared to the average human being. Their Beast will never panic or hesitate, and will go straight for the kill, even if they have no combat training.”
“In some ways, starting a fight with a lick who’s had no combat training can actually be more dangerous for your average breather. Because a lick with training is much more likely to remain in control of themselves and can choose not to kill.”
Celia: “Doesn’t it make more sense to let the Beast take over if I think I’m going to get into a fight, then? If it knows how to fight?”
GM: “Absolutely not!” exclaims Roderick, shaking his head.
“Maybe in some fights. But you’re playing with fire.”
“What’s your objective in the fight? Are you actually trying to kill someone, or just drive off an attacker? The latter is less dangerous for you. Are you trying to protect anyone? Do you want to take prisoners? Will you withdraw after accomplishing an objective?”
“At what point will you retreat if you start to lose? Presumably you’re not fighting to the death, since most people don’t do that. They run away if they don’t think a fight’s outcome is worth their life.”
“All of that goes out the window once your Beast takes over. It will mindlessly fight until either it or the opposition is dead. It won’t retreat, it won’t surrender, it won’t work together with allies, it won’t care about anything except pulverizing whatever’s hurting it.”
“What happens if a sniper takes shots at you from five stories up? If you’re in control, you can formulate a plan to eliminate the threat you can’t immediately perceive. The Beast will just jump at the nearest moving thing and rip it apart, even if it’s no threat to you. The Beast doesn’t use or understand tactics.”
Celia: “Why would a sniper be shooting at me, though?”
It’s not that she disagrees.
GM: “Because even if head shots couldn’t seriously fuck up your night, which they can, long-range shooting is an efficient method of taking out frenzying licks. We aren’t bulletproof, just bullet-resistant. Enough shots add up, especially from higher-caliber weapons. And if the frenzying lick you’re shooting from range can’t actually fight back, because they’re incapable of formulating a plan to take out an opponent they can’t see, then you’re basically shooting fish in a barrel.”
“If I had to pick between slugging it out with a frenzying lick or taking shots from a distance with a Remington 700, I’d pick the Remington.”
“Why wouldn’t I? It’s so much less risk for me.”
Celia: “Mm, okay. So no Beast.”
GM: “Now, maybe your fight actually will be simple. Maybe it’s just you and one or several people slugging it out until one side falls over. Maybe the terrain doesn’t offer a retreating opponent any places to hide. Maybe you’re trying to take down your opponent at any cost, in a setting where you can afford to turn off your brain. Your Beast will be a big help there.”
“But lots of fights won’t be that simple. In any fight where you need to exercise tactics—like, here’s another example, if you’re fighting near mortal witnesses and need to pay attention to the Masquerade—your Beast is a liability, full stop.”
“Think of your Beast as a grenade. It’s dangerous. It’s messy. It is very likely to cause collateral damage. There are times to use it. There are times not to use it.”
“Moreover, your Beast can already take care of itself. I can’t train your Beast to be a better fighter. It operates off pure instinct. I can only train you.”
Celia: “How do you control it? Brujah and all.”
GM: “By getting punched in the face enough times that you don’t enter ‘the black’ and let your Beast take over.”
“It’s not a surefire thing. Even with training, your Beast still might take over. But without training, it’s almost certain that your Beast will. Especially for my clan.”
Celia: “So your plan,” Celia says slowly, “is to repeatedly punch me in the face.”
GM: “I’ll teach you how to block and punch back too. But yes, I will try to punch you. That’s what people do in real fights.”
Celia: That’s not what she meant, and he knows it.
But she just says, “Okay.”
GM: “All right.” Roderick takes Celia’s arm in his and pulls it up. “First lesson is kind of fundamental, and seems easier than it is. Lots of people who throw a punch for the first time at a solid object hurt themselves, because they don’t keep their forearm and wrist or hand in line. They end up hurting their wrist or hand. Getting to the point where you can do basic things like kneeing or punching takes longer than you think.”
“So that’s what we’re going to do tonight.”
Roderick pats the wall-mounted punching bag he’s brought out, gives Celia some pointers, and tells her to throw a few punches. He’ll correct her technique as needed.
He watches appraisingly as she does so. He’s silent for the first round until he says, “I think we might have just been wasting your time.”
“You already know how to throw a basic punch. You’ve had some training.”
Celia: Celia drops her hands from where they’d been up near her face to “protect her pretty”—Reggie’s words when he’d shown her the same thing years ago—and shrugs.
“Randy likes UFC.”
They’d both taken turns showing her the basics for times they couldn’t be around. They’d made it a habit for her to swing with her whole body to put more force behind the punch, though she’s always been faster than she is strong.
GM: “Clearly you like it too. But okay, that’s good. It saves us the need to go over a lot of fundamentals.”
He raises up his own fists. “All right, won’t be anything too serious, but let’s try you in some actual sparring…”
Wednesday night, 16 March 2016, AM
GM: Celia doesn’t get sore or tired, which is good. The two spend the remainder of the night throwing punches and kicks at one another. Celia immediately picks up that she has a lot to pick up. Roderick can not only send her flying with a well-placed punch, he’s a lot faster than she is, too. Still, Roderick seems happy with how the night goes. Lots of opponents she goes up against may be preternaturally strong and fast. Roderick doesn’t tell her that combat training will make those inborn advantages irrelevant, but he can teach her how to work around them, and how to use her own gifts of the Blood to maximum effect. She’s pretty fast, so that’s what their lessons are going to revolve around… as well as the built-in claws she’ll frequently (but not always) be able to whip out.
Like any skill, it comes down to practice. Practice to get good and practice to stay sharp. Roderick wants to spar with her every night before bed. If they stick to a regular schedule, she’ll become a better fighter.
He remarks approvingly of how well she did tonight, and says he feels good knowing she can already defend herself.
Celia: She doesn’t get sore, she doesn’t get tired, and she doesn’t sweat. She wonders, when it’s over and he’s telling her about his training plan for her, why they bothered to change into sweats to begin with if neither one of them have that particular bodily function anymore. Range of motion in non-restrictive clothing, she guesses. Or maybe it’s that she looks absolutely fetching in one of his shirts (she hadn’t brought sweats of her own) with its neckline large enough to slip off her shoulder and her hair pulled back in a messy ponytail.
She agrees to the proposed schedule of every night before bed, her stomach fluttering at the thought that he wants to keep her around.
Why wouldn’t he? Even in the vision he’d—
The reminder of it is enough to make her mood plummet, her fantasy of finding a house with a spare room they can turn into a sparring ring dissipating into the air. She needs to find a way to fix it. A glance at the clock shows a spare bit of time before daysleep will claim them both.
“Thank you for the lesson.”
Familiar words. She can’t help but think of Donovan giving her another sort of lesson on the rooftop of her haven, how much stronger and faster he is than the both of them. What would it be like to stand across the ring from him?
Another flutter. She dismisses it.
GM: She looks absolutely fetching in anything, he’s said before.
And in nothing. Definitely in nothing, too.
“You’re welcome,” her lover answers.
Those words, at least, are unfamiliar.
But so are her sire’s other lessons. What would his training regimen look like? Would he teach her, if she impressed him enough?
Celia: Still, there’s something a little special about wearing his shirt and looking as adorable as she does in it. Especially perched on the edge of the bed as she is, knees drawn up to her chest. Small and cute and maybe a little vulnerable, but that’s what he’s here for, isn’t it? A big strong Brujah to protect his tiny little lover.
Then again, who needs Roderick when she has—could have?—Donovan.
“Can we talk for a sec?”
GM: “Sure. What’s up?”
“You look absolutely adorable, by the way,” Roderick mentions, slinging an arm around her shoulder.
Celia: “I’ve been thinking about you and Dani. I spoke to her a little bit. And I wanted to run some things by you.”
GM: “All right. What’d you have in mind?”
Celia: “Just… listen before you say anything, okay?”
GM: He gives her a squeeze. “Okay. I’ll keep my mouth closed.”
Celia: “Well, I guess you can answer questions that I ask. Like… you want a relationship with her, right? Even though she’s thin-blood?”
GM: “Yes, of course! She’s my sister, before she’s anything else.”
“Just like you’re my girlfriend who I wanted to have my children with, and who I still want to spend eternity with, before you’re any Kindred labels.”
Celia: She’s not that girl anymore, though. She wonders when he’s going to realize that.
But she smiles at him, because she thinks that might be the sort of response he’s looking for and this conversation isn’t about her, and leans her head on his shoulder.
“So. Dani is mad at you. Like, really mad. And maybe it’s kind of irrational, since you didn’t do this to her, and it’s not your fault she was born female or that your dad, uh, that he loves you more.”
“The thing is, right, she had all these years where she thought that you were gone. So she was making her own way through life. And yeah she kind of followed in your footsteps, but she was still in control.”
“And then you came back and tried to tell her that you know what’s best for her and she has to listen to you.”
“And even though I’ve tried to explain the city’s politics to her, even though she understands now that she’s a thin-blood, she doesn’t really get it. So hearing you say, ‘give up your life and move to another city where you don’t know anyone,’ is just another example of the family dynamic you used to have where you were the golden child and she was, y’know, second or third class.”
“And I don’t think that you can have that same relationship with her. She’s family. She’s not just a thin-blood. She’s not just another lick who you have authority over.”
“She doesn’t want to leave.”
“Her friends are here. School is here. Her job is here.”
“It’s like that conversation we had where we discussed ghouling family members, you know? You can’t have the same sort of dynamic with them as you do with other renfields, and it might not be the same dynamic as when you were alive, either.”
“But there’s a middle ground somewhere that you can find.”
“And I’ve been calling in favors, I think I told you, and she and I have a bit of a plan, and I’ve been looking more into thin-bloods lately to see what sort of things they can do and what their limits are, and once we find those I think we’ll have a better idea of what to do with her.”
GM: Roderick listens. True to her request, he doesn’t speak yet.
Celia: “So my advice,” she says finally, “is to let her stay with me and finish school, at least, and reassess. I think if you show her that you’re not just going to waltz in and take over her Requiem she might be a little more receptive to what you have to say.”
“Also she said she won’t forgive you unless you pay her rent for the next year after she finds a place in the Quarter.”
These last words come out in a rush.
Finally, she makes a motion like he can speak again.
GM: “Why on earth should I pay her rent?” he asks at length.
Celia: Celia lifts one shoulder in a shrug.
“That’s just what she texted me today.”
GM: “I might do that if she asked me, and needed the financial assistance. But I don’t appreciate threats and ultimatums.”
“Sorry, that was… I should have delivered that better.”
GM: “You delivered what she said.”
Celia: “She does need the financial assistance.”
GM: “Then she can ask. Instead of threaten.”
“I’m also not even decided I want to enable that decision, even if she does ask politely.”
Celia: “You want her to stay at her place in Riverbend? Probably not ideal, but I can… I’ll see what I can do…?”
GM: “I get that she’s scared. I get that she might need time apart.”
“But she needs to get over herself. I don’t owe her anything for being, in a word, more successful. Or for Dad loving me more.”
“This isn’t ’I’m terrified of my brother’s unholy strength and rage’ Dani talking. This is ‘I resent my brother’s success and want to financially extort him through emotional blackmail’ Dani talking.”
Celia: Celia quietly nods her head.
“How d’you want me to handle that, then?”
GM: “Exactly what I said. She needs to ask me, politely, and have a relationship with me before I’m willing to help her out financially. And she should feel ashamed for trying to emotionally blackmail me. I’m not playing that game.”
“I’m not sure if I want her stay in Riverbend.” Roderick rubs his head. “I’m still mulling things over.”
“I’m trying to find out what Savoy’s angle is. I need to know that before I make a decision about what to do. It’s too big a variable to leave unaccounted for.”
“But your point is taken. I’ll try to be less dictating and more… suggesting once I’ve figured that out. It obviously pushed a lot of the wrong buttons with her.”
Celia: “Hard to know what to say to someone when you explain you’re a lick. And not actually dead.”
GM: “I had no idea how to have that conversation.”
Celia: “Did it better than I would have, I bet.”
GM: “Eh. Think you’d have handled it better.”
“Wouldn’t hurt either that your sister doesn’t have so much resentment towards you.”
GM: “Yeah. If this were her and not Dani who’d been Embraced as a thin-blood.”
Celia: “Maybe her, sure. Isabel hates me, though.”
“Imagine it would have gone the same.”
GM: “You ever wonder what happened to her? How she’s managing out in Sudan?”
Celia: Celia is quiet for a long moment.
Finally, in a small voice, she says, “She’s not.”
Celia: “She’s not in Sudan. She never was.”
GM: Roderick frowns.
“So what was that story hiding?”
Celia: “Same thing it hides for the rest of us. She was Embraced.”
GM: “What!? When, by who?”
Celia: “She was released with the rest of us on the anniversary. Roxanne.”
GM: “Oh my god. All that time. I’ve seen Roxanne in passing, but…” He shakes his head. “I never really spoke with her that much. I only saw Isabel once, too. Years ago, when she was acting like a completely different person. I guess I just never connected their faces.”
“Why’d you never say anything?”
Celia: “Same reason I never told anyone you were Stephen Garrison. It’s not my business to disclose.”
GM: “I’m your boyfriend,” he declares in a moderately offended tone. “And I never got the impression you two were close.”
Celia: “It doesn’t matter,” Celia says in a voice that has been numbed so it doesn’t crack. She looks away from him, but she can’t hide the scent of blood that gathers in the corners of her eyes.
GM: Roderick pulls her into his embrace. “What?! My god, when?”
Celia: She’s stiff at first, as if unwilling to burden him with her tears and emotion when he has his own shit going on. And then she softens and the red drips down her cheeks and she tells him, in broken, fragmented sentences, that she found out the same night she found out about Dani, but that Dani is still alive and Isabel isn’t and she wanted to prevent Roderick from feeling this same sort of loss. She doesn’t need to breathe, she doesn’t sniffle, her shoulders don’t shake. But she clings to him, face buried against his chest and neck and shoulder, and blood stains her skin.
GM: Roderick holds her tight, cupping her head with one of his hands, and murmurs sympathies and assurances.
“Jesus, Celia, I’m so sorry…”
“I knew you weren’t close, but I can’t imagine how you must be feeling…”
Celia: “Em-empty, mostly. L-like it’s my-my fault. She needed help and I didn’t… I couldn’t… I never did enough.”
GM: He shakes his head. “You’re not responsible for what happened to Isabel. She made her own choices. So did her sire.”
Celia: She lifts her head, looking up at him with eyes haunted by past mistakes. “I was so… just so mad at her for such a long time. I thought, after my Embrace, I’d never have to see her again, and there she was released on the same night. It took years to speak to her, and… and when Evan went missing I… I didn’t have enough leads to follow, and everyone else was looking too, but… but it’s wrong, the whole thing was wrong, that stupid bitch lied about what happened and got my fucking sister killed.”
GM: Roderick frowns and presses a comforting hand against her cheek. “Who lied to you? What happened?”
Celia: “It doesn’t matter,” Celia finally mutters, pulling away from him to wipe at her eyes. Her fingers come away red. “I didn’t do enough for her and she died. Vidal’s agents killed her. Loyal to the prince and she was still—still put down. Now I’m the one that has to—has to lie about it when my family asks, when Mom says ‘how do you think she’s doing, will she ever forgive me’ and Logan asks if I heard from her and Dad says ’she’s the reason I saw the error of my ways,’ and starts spouting some bullshit Catholic rhetoric.”
GM: “I’d definitely tell them something,” Roderick says thoughtfully. “Just to give closure, so the wound can heal.”
Celia: “Yeah, that’s what my family needs, more drama.”
GM: “Drama’s unavoidable either way. It’ll just hurt them worse if they wonder forever what happened and why she no longer talks with them.”
“I’ve known some people with estranged family. The lack of contact and any closure from that is just the worst thing. It’s an infected wound that constantly eats at them. Some get over it, but they’re worse for it. The whole thing just lacks resolution.”
Celia: Celia doesn’t bother pointing out that she’s hardly going to take his advice on family when he went ahead and fractured his own.
GM: “Maybe just say she was killed in Sudan? It’s a dangerous country.”
Celia: “How would I even know that?”
GM: “Or rather, find a way to make them believe so.”
“Isn’t she doing missionary work? Fake a phone call or letter from the organization she ostensibly works for. Celia Flores doesn’t have to be the first person who knows.”
Celia: “Maybe,” she hedges. She had other plans for the identity.
GM: “How else do you want to get your family the news without a body?”
Celia: Celia shrugs. She doesn’t bother looking at him, instead letting her eyes land on a pattern in the carpeting.
“I was supposed to protect her,” Celia tells the floor. “Older sister and all. Protect all of them. They’re a mess. My family is a mess. David’s anxiety. Logan’s anger. Soph’s…” Celia shakes her head. “Mom’s fucked. Dad’s fucked. Lucy might not be, but batting 1 for 8 is… I mean that’s just bad.”
It doesn’t even count Ethan. Who knows what’s wrong with that kid.
GM: He gives her another squeeze.
“Honestly, all families are screwed up to some degree. I know mine is.”
“There’s obviously Dani’s problems, how my dad took my death, the dysfunction around my mom, the divorce… all families have problems.”
“But they can be wonderful things too. Your family got a lot better once your dad was removed from the equation.”
“I don’t think Emily or your grandma are too screwed, either.”
Celia: “My grandmother is the reason my mother is fucked. And my dad is back in the equation.”
GM: “Your mom is her own person. And you can force your dad out.”
Celia: She’s not going to explain the Dollhouse to him.
“I never told you about dinner.”
GM: “Happy to listen, if you want me to.”
“Or maybe you’d just like to be a cat.”
Celia: “I don’t really want to hear that I’m being stupid for wanting to believe what he said.”
GM: “Everyone wants to believe the best about their family.”
Celia: None of it is her story to tell. Maxen is her sire’s pawn. If there is something demonic going on with him, she’s not going to be the one that spills it to Roderick. Nor will she tell him that he’s running for governor. So she doesn’t talk politics and she doesn’t tell him about the dead priest or the exorcism.
But she can—and does—tell him the rest of it. That he’d been trying to find himself religiously. That he found copies of all the things he’d once destroyed to give back to his ex-wife. That he apologized for what he’d done, and admitted that words alone won’t make up for anything, but that he’d like to attempt to make it up to her, Emily, and Diana. That Emily and Diana had agreed to dinner with him to see what he has to say.
GM: Roderick listens.
“How do you feel about that dinner?”
“The upcoming one, that is.”
Celia: “Like the sheriff is going to find out and wonder what the fuck I think I’m doing with him, mostly.”
“Other than that, I don’t know. Apprehensive. Emily is going to blame me if it blows up in my face.”
“She and Logan have been getting into it lately about the whole thing. Logan thinks it’s great. Mom is… wants her man back.”
“Her words,” Celia clarifies.
Pete’s going to ask what the fuck she thinks she’s doing, too.
The idea of teasing him about Diana isn’t even appealing anymore.
GM: “Do you want to see what happens at it?” Roderick asks. “Or call the thing off?”
Celia: “I want to see what happens.”
“I want to know what’s wrong with him. What was wrong with him when we were kids.”
“Why he went from someone who would let me put lipstick and a dress on him to… that.”
GM: “Do you think you’ll find out at dinner?”
Celia: “No. It’s not like I can whack him with a charm in front of everyone and demand the truth.”
GM: “You could in private. I’d normally be against violating the minds of family members, but his case is a pretty special exception. Given how despicably he treated you.”
Celia: “What, you don’t think it’d be easier to just go knock on Donovan’s door and ask what’s up with his pet?”
“Hey bud, can I have my dad back? He seems normal again. Thanks.”
GM: Roderick shakes his head. “I don’t think there’s a power that can do that to someone, Celia.”
“Warp them into a totally different person for decades, and then just… come off, no side effects, and everything goes back to the way it used to be. That sounds too convenient.”
“Maybe you could spy on your dad, though. See how he behaves in private versus public.”
Celia: Except Donovan already knows all the ways she has to spy.
GM: “Bug his house.”
Celia: “Maybe he was possessed.” Celia wiggles her brows at him. “Maybe my bugs will pick up satanic rituals that he does on the full moon.”
GM: “I’m mostly sure demonic possession is real,” Roderick answers humorlessly.
She makes a motion with her hand, prompting further explanation.
GM: “I’m not an expert on it, by any means. But are demons such a stretch when we have vampires?”
Celia: “No. I was kind of thinking the same thing.”
“Have any friends that are demonologists?”
GM: He shakes his head. “I know very little about it. Just off-hand references by some of the primogen.”
“Barely even anything. But it sounded like they believed in demons.”
Celia: “Which ones?”
GM: “Steinhäuser. Chastain. Maldonato.”
“I’d talk to a priest, anyway, if you want to know more about demons.”
Celia: “What priest? Malveaux is missing. You mean like a breather?”
GM: “My lord, no. But there are priests besides him.”
“I suppose most aren’t friendly to you, though, besides Benson.”
“The Tremere also might know about demons.”
Celia: “You think it’s like the movies where they’re tied to a specific person or place?”
GM: “Who even knows.”
Celia: “So much for all your book learnin’,” she sighs at him.
GM: “So much indeed,” he smirks. “Maybe I should just spend the rest of my Requiem satisfying you in bed.”
Celia: “You can start now.”
“Oh, wait, no.”
“First, your dad is coming to dinner on Friday, would you like to be there?”
“Then you can start.”
GM: “Oh. I was gonna ask if you were still in the mood.”
“With your sister and all.”
“But yes. I would. A lot.”
Celia: “I’ve known about her for a week and still managed to fuck you silly,” Celia points out.
GM: “True. Friday will hopefully be enough time for Dani to cool down, too.”
Celia: “She said your dad doesn’t really like a lot of new people. Figure out how you want me to introduce you. I think maybe ‘my boyfriend’ will hit a raw spot for him, considering.”
“I thought maybe Stephen’s friend from college..?”
GM: Roderick thinks.
“That works. I am a lawyer. I can be his friend from law school.”
Celia: “If you go postal in my house near my family I’m going to beat you up,” Celia warns him.
“My boyfriend taught me how.”
GM: “I’d beat myself up, and worse, if I lost it around your family,” Roderick answers grimly.
Celia: “Excellent. I’ll get my boyfriend to beat you up.”
She nudges him with her shoulder.
“I wouldn’t invite you if I didn’t think you could control yourself. I trust you.”
GM: “Thank you,” he says, sincerely. “I’ll be worthy of that trust. I promise.”
Celia: “I know. Now I think you owe me some head..?”
GM: He smiles, pulls off her sweats, spreads her legs, and busies his mouth between her thighs.
Just like their first time.
Celia: His tongue and fingers are enough to make her forget her own name when her toes curl and stars float in front of her eyes.
It’s a bright spot to end the night on.