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Changeling: Malibu Dream House (Actual Play)

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  • Yeah, Luna is helping best she can, but even Insincere Marguerite seems unaware of how messed up he is. And yes, Stasia is having a good time of it.


    Onyx Path Moderator
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    This is my mod voice. This is my goth voice.
    [Geist: Balance of Shadows ][ Vampire: The Conspiracy of Hrad Černá Hora ][ Scion: Bohemian Front][Changeling: Malibu Dream House] [Demon: Night Train Detective Agency] [WoD: The Golden Eagle]

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    • I was wondering. With Luna she was taken as a male, reshaped, and came back female. Has this ever occurred with a changelings ethnicity? Be it mask or mien?

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      • Probably, but let's hope we don't encounter thst


        A god is just a monster you kneel to. - ArcaneArts, Quoting "Fall of Gods"

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        • I'd say probably yes, but I am not going to go there. I will say some Changelings, like Tommy or Monica, are only recognizable as their ethnicity because of their Masks. But I am not really looking to explore that.


          Onyx Path Moderator
          Forum Rules
          This is my mod voice. This is my goth voice.
          [Geist: Balance of Shadows ][ Vampire: The Conspiracy of Hrad Černá Hora ][ Scion: Bohemian Front][Changeling: Malibu Dream House] [Demon: Night Train Detective Agency] [WoD: The Golden Eagle]

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          • Fair enough. I was just curious. Thanks.

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            • The Motley this time goes shopping, then clubbing. What kind of game is this, anyway?

              Calamity’s Journal covers the past two sessions

              Session LXXVIII

              Lorelei’s Diary

              The two days or so that have passed since my last entry have included a bit of the old “take the bitter with the sweet” life lesson, but by and large have been quite enjoyable. Had a night off, got to cut loose a bit, repaired a damaged friendship (I hope), and even made some new friends. What’s not to like?

              The show on Tuesday night went well enough. Calamity got out there and put her own particular spin on the Nancy Sinatra classic “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’,” which was… different, to say the least. I mean, her performance was amazing as usual, but I don’t think Miss Sinatra ever intended for the song to have that particular subtext. Still, Calamity has a niche and she knows how to exploit it.

              My own number was a little more saccharine; an inspirational ballad by Bette Midler called “Wind Beneath My Wings.” Yes, I’m still exploiting the bird-girl theme whenever I can, so sue me. Plus, well… it was a chance for me to tell everyone how much I rely on D without really saying it directly and embarrassing the hell out of her. And it’s true, too… I don’t think I could have accomplished half of what I have over the past year without her in my corner. My fiancée keeps me strong when things look grim, she lifts me up when I’m at my lowest, and she keeps me sane when things get crazy.

              God I love her.

              So that one was maybe a little more sweet than sexy, but I think it still went over pretty well. The audience seemed to like it, at any rate. I’m guessing the sparkly evening gown slit up to my waist on one side probably didn’t hurt, though.

              As usual, I hobnobbed with the crowd for a while. I tried to stop by every table for at least a minute or two, but there were a few conversations of note sprinkled in there as well. First, most of the motley and I spoke with Corvus and Corbin, the two Night Court changelings who had invited us to enjoy their club in LA the following evening. They seemed nice enough, though Corbin was substantially creepy. In any case, they gave us all VIP passes to their club (enough for the motley, Luna, and Stasia) and vouchers for a free drink each. I made sure to thank them for their kindness before moving along.

              Felicity was there to see Marguerite, and I stopped by her table to chat for a bit. While I was honestly interested in seeing how she was doing, she quickly deduced that I also had an ulterior motive for speaking with her.

              “So… what can I do for you, Lori?” she asked with a sympathetic look in her eyes.

              I sighed and looked down. “I was wondering if you could tell me how Rowan’s doing,” I said softly. “I haven’t heard from her in a few days, and she was really upset when she left here, and Marguerite told me…”

              “…that I was looking after her while she got drunk the other night?” Felicity asked, taking my hand. “It’s true. She was… at a low point, then. But I think she’s going to be all right if you give her a little time.”

              “Should I…” I started, and then stammered for a moment. “Do you think she’d like to talk to me? Or would that just do more harm than good?”

              Felicity shook her head. “I’d give her a little space for now,” she advised. “I’ll keep an eye on her, and I promise that I’ll tell you as soon as she’s ready, okay?”

              “Okay,” I whispered. “Thanks.”

              “Lori…” she began, then seemed to reconsider.

              “What?” I asked.

              She sighed again. “I don’t know how this is going to turn out, and I want you to know that I truly hope it has a happy ending. But you need to be prepared for the possibility that you and Rowan may not be involved any more when the smoke clears.”

              I nodded, and I’m sure there was a little shimmer in my eyes. “I know,” I said after a moment. “I hate it, but I know. She needs something from me that… well, it’s something I just can’t give her. It might have been better if I’d never gotten together with her in the first place…”

              “Don’t say that,” Felicity responded instantly. “Rowan has been so happy since she started dating you… and I know for a fact that she wouldn’t give up a minute of that time if she had the chance. She was okay with sharing you with other women… but now that you’re getting married, well that’s different.” Her eyes flicked down toward the ring, and she smiled again. “Congratulations, by the way.”

              “Thanks,” I said, smiling in turn. What can I say, even when I’m super depressed the thought that I’m engaged to the love of my life is enough to drive the clouds away.

              “I know that you and de la Rocha have an open relationship, but Rowan… she’s different,” Felicity continued. “I don’t know for certain, but I think she was Taken a long time ago. Like, further back than you were. She’d see continuing to date you as forcing you to break your marriage vows, and she’s not willing to do that.”

              “I understand,” I said sadly. “Thanks again for looking after her, Felicity. You’re a good friend. And I feel just awful that my engagement is causing her such pain…”

              “Don’t,” she said sharply. “Don’t think like that, Lori. You should be over the moon about your situation. Don’t let Rowan’s issues taint what you’ve found. Rowan doesn’t want that… I think deep down that’s one of the reasons she’s keeping her distance for now.”

              “Okay,” I said. “You’re right. And I am over the moon. I can’t even pretend otherwise.”

              We chatted for a little while longer, but I could tell that her attention was focused on her impending evening with Marguerite. At one point she not-so-subtly hinted that it might be possible for me to join the two of them, but I regretfully declined her offer, feeling that Julia needed me more on that particular evening. But who knows what the future might hold?

              Another probably-healthy-but-not-so-much-fun conversation followed that one. I made my way back to the Girlfriend Table and planted myself on D’s lap as per usual, and found myself sitting next to Desiree. She greeted me with a subdued “hi,” and I looked her up and down and sort of sighed. “Can I talk to you in private for a minute, Desiree?” I asked quietly.

              “Sure,” she said, and the two of us made our way to one of the private rooms.

              “So you’ve probably noticed that my attitude toward you has been a little distant lately,” I said by way of an opening.

              She nodded glumly. “We’d talked about going out to take in a show together a couple of weeks ago, but you haven’t seemed interested lately,” she said after a moment.

              I closed my eyes and took a couple of deep breaths. “When I found out about your… ‘arrangement’ with Marguerite,” I began.

              Insincere Marguerite,” she said automatically.

              I was in no mood. “I have special privileges,” I snapped back. She recoiled slightly, and I gathered my wits. “Sorry,” I said gently, taking her hand, “this isn’t easy for me either. Anyway, when I found out about it, I was furious. Marguerite could be exiled or executed if anyone else discovered what you’ve done. Hell, she’s already been exiled from one Freehold for what amounts to the same thing.”

              “I have no wish to cause Insincere Marguerite any trouble,” Desiree said fervently, “but this seemed like the best way to protect you… to protect all of you.”

              “I know,” I said. “I know you did it for the right reasons. And I know you and Gawain and Calamity are working hard to make it unnecessary. But I’ve just been so worried and scared and angry that I don’t know what to do with myself. And I’m in a relationship with Marguerite, so I can’t focus all of that on her.”

              “So you focused it on me instead,” Desiree said, nodding her understanding. “It makes sense. I’d rather you be mad at me than at Insincere Marguerite. It’s not her fault.”

              “But it’s not fair, and it’s not right,” I continued. “You’re my friend, Desiree. I don’t like what you’re doing, but it doesn’t change that fact. And being mad at you for the past few weeks has been making me miserable. I’m tired of it.”

              She looked genuinely distressed that this had been upsetting me. “I’m so sorry, Lori. If I’d known how much this was bothering you, maybe we could have talked about it or something. What can I do to help?”

              “Just… can we just forget about it, and go back to the way things were between us?” I asked plaintively. “I mean, I don’t want to forget about the situation… I still want to work toward resolving it. But I want you back as a friend, if you’re willing.”

              “Of course,” she said with a slight shimmer in her eyes. And then we were both crying and hugging and maybe even kissing the teensiest bit.

              “Still up for that show sometime?” I asked when we had both composed ourselves once more.

              “I’ll look into what’s playing in the area,” she promised.

              We walked back to the Girlfriend Table chatting and laughing like we used to, and rejoined the company. I think she might have ended up in the big bed with Maria, Julia and me, but she had an appointment with Gawain and Calamity for more Dream Therapy. A part of me was disappointed; I haven’t shared a bed with Desiree since before The Trouble™ started. But the greater part of my psyche understood that she really is dedicated to ending the situation between her and Marguerite, and that made me happy.

              Sex Breakfast the following morning saw many of us abuzz with excitement over our impending trip to the club called The Unseelie Court. Marguerite, Julia and I decided to head out and pick up some new outfits for the club. Maria – God bless her – smirked as she told us she couldn’t join us because she had to go to work. Much to my surprise, Calamity opted to come with us… which maybe had something to do with the fact that Stasia was coming along as well. Jacob, Luna, and Gawain went off on their own expedition.

              Shopping was fun, and though Julia didn’t buy anything for herself (she chipped in with a few of us to get something cute and sexy for Stasia), I think we all ended up with outfits that complemented our natural strengths well. The Unseelie Court was described as a sort of Goth/Punk/Industrial club, so we decided to dress accordingly. Maria opted to go in her usual punk threads, and Julia wore her “Dark Belle” dress. Hmmm… Belle Noir, maybe? But that would be “Black Beauty,” which aside from being the name of a horse, is also inaccurate, as the dress is dark purple. Oh well.

              I chose an ensemble that I thought was fetching, though both Calamity and Marguerite’s outfits were more daring than my own. The body of the outfit was actually similar to one of the outfits I often wear when I’m performing… a shiny leather number shaped sort of like a one-piece bathing suit, but with a built-in corset. This one is midnight blue rather than black. I also picked up a pair of thigh-high heeled boots and long gloves in matching blue leather, and sheathed my arms and legs in tight fishnets. Not to toot my own horn, but I thought I looked pretty damned hot.

              The drive to the club was not much fun, with so many of us crammed into Gawain’s van (I was not going to leave the ‘vette in an unfamiliar parking lot in LA until I had at least scoped the place out a little). Stasia was adorably nervous, asking several pointed questions about how she could let unfamiliar changelings know that she was under our protection. We did the best we could to reassure her that everything would be fine.

              The club itself, on the other hand, turned out to be a lot of fun. They had plenty of space to dance, and these neat catwalks running over everything to give a bit of variety to the area. There was also a colossal cage set on a track, which people would occasionally climb into and send soaring over the dance floor. It was a great attention-getter, but perhaps predictably I opted not to try it out. No amount of attention is worth the nightmares I’d have if I voluntarily closed myself up in what was essentially a giant birdcage again… even though rationally I knew that there were all sorts of safety precautions in place to prevent people from getting trapped in it.

              Our hosts greeted us as soon as we arrived, and introduced us to the rest of their motley and a few other friendly Night Courtiers. By and large they seemed to be a decent bunch (though Corbin was still mondo creepy). Aside from her and Corvus, there were two other people I recognized there. One was Salk, who hangs out in Malibu and Santa Monica a lot and is a frequent visitor to the Dream House. The other was a young woman named Stripe who’d been at the Dream House a few days prior. I hadn’t gotten the opportunity to speak with her on that occasion, because that was the night that Dad dropped by to see the show.

              Stripe seems okay, though it’s obvious that she has a rebellious side that would give my love a run for her money. Marguerite spoke with her more than I did, as I was otherwise occupied for most of the evening. I heard later that she likes to express her disdain for authority and conformity by having sex in churches. And okay, yes, I have done that myself on more than one occasion… back in Defiance I might as well have stored a sleeping bag behind the baptismal font, as a matter of fact. But the thought of how that sort of behavior would hurt my Dad just turns me cold now.

              There was another man who introduced himself as V. He was a decent looking guy, and I might have thrown a few subconscious flirts his way, but a few of my friends seemed amused by his peculiar moniker. Someone – I don’t remember precisely who – asked if he was called “V” because he like to put on a Guy Fawkes mask and blow up government buildings (I didn’t get it). He shook his head and explained that people called him that because he could voluntarily shed the outer layer of his skin, revealing a lizard-like countenance underneath (I didn’t get that one either). He seemed nice enough, and the two of us chatted for a while when I dropped by the bar to pick up my free drink.

              There were two other ladies present. One called herself Neon, and was an attractive young woman who seemed to glow with an inner purple light. I later learned that she had shared a durance with none other than Master Darke. She had been located in a seedy club, but hadn’t been a dancer or a bartender or even a hat-check girl… she had been a light fixture. Go figure. In any case, she was friendly enough, and a pretty good dancer to boot. I danced with her myself a few times, but I think she really hit it off with D, as the two of them spent a lot of the evening dancing together. Maybe the two of us should invite her to join us in Malibu some evening…

              And why wasn’t I even the teensiest bit jealous of my love’s attention? Because I had my own distraction, of course! The young woman calling herself Brightstar was perky, energetic, and friendly to a fault… sort of my counterpart among LA’s Night Court, I guess. Though I confess I don’t think I’ll ever have that much energy. She never seemed to tire, and her performance on the dance floor seemed to be composed of almost as many balletic leaps as traditional club moves. And such leaps! Some of them carried her up to the level of the catwalks!

              Oh, and like Neon, Brightstar glowed with an inner light, though hers was golden rather than purple. Neither one of them was “on” constantly; their auras brightened and dimmed based on a timetable or stimulus I couldn’t quite identify. Though I noticed that when one of them started glowing brightly, the other tended to follow in short order… and occasionally their auras pulsed in sync with each other, often to the beat of whatever song was blaring from the club’s speakers. It seemed obvious that the two of them were very close, though I didn’t get a romantic vibe from them.

              In any case, Brightstar and I got along really well, and though I danced with just about anyone who showed an interest (including D and Julia as well as the aforementioned V and Neon), I found myself drifting back to her side time and time again. After my first free drink was gone, I bought each of us another, and we found ourselves up on the catwalks people-watching. And then we were mostly watching each other. And then we were making out.

              She stopped me after a few minutes of passionate kissing and necking. “Wait,” she said softly.

              “Everything okay?” I asked. “Or did you want to take this to one of the back rooms…?”

              “No!” she said sharply, then her look softened. “No, not right now. Look, Lorelei… I think I need a little air. Don’t take this the wrong way, but… if I let this go on any longer, I’m going to end up sleeping with you. And I don’t do that with people I just met… no matter how much I like them. Okay?”

              I smiled, chuckled, and gave her a peck on the cheek. “No problem, Brightsar,” I said. “I’m sure we’ll have plenty of other chances. I don’t want you to do anything you’re not comfortable with, okay? I can wait until you’re ready… and if you decide you’re never going to be ready, that’s okay too. I think we’ve proven tonight that we have enough in common to make the friends thing work.”

              She gave my hand a gentle squeeze. “Thanks,” she said after a moment. “Now… I’m gonna go outside and clear my head for a few minutes. Save me another dance before you leave?”

              “Count on it,” I said, tipping her a wink. She left, and I headed back down to the dance floor to take a couple of spins with D and Neon.

              In other news, I think Calamity spent part of the evening enjoying the intimate caresses of Corbin. She really needs to get this Leechfinger fetish of hers under control, as she looked pretty ragged (but happy) when she returned to the dance floor an hour or so later. Although, come to think of it, I’m not sure Corbin is a Leechfinger… she could just be a sexual predator. Either way though, one of these days this fixation of hers is going to get her into a situation we can’t get her out of.

              As for the others… I think Stasia enjoyed the club as well. She was a bit less energetic than most of us, but she danced and drank and stood under the catwalks waiting for girls wearing skirts to walk by above her, and overall seemed to be having the time of her life. I didn’t notice much going on around Gawain, though I know he danced a fair amount as well, in his own Gawainish way. Jacob and Luna held themselves aloof for the most part, sticking to the balconies and the less crowded areas of the club. Luna cited the need to protect her delicate wings as the reason, but I’ve always found that the Mask tends to keep mortals away from my own wings subconsciously, so that might just have been her excuse to play the wallflower.

              So we all danced and hobnobbed and drank and hooked up until we were exhausted, then we piled back in the cars and headed back to Malibu. During the ride home, I mostly allowed myself to settle into Maria’s embrace. Once we got home, the two of us joined Marguerite and Julia in the big bed, but we were all pretty exhausted, so there was more love than lust on display. I let myself melt into their arms and slept like the dead until late morning. And honestly, I can’t think of a better way to end an evening.

              Lorelei Grace


              Calamity’s Little Black Book

              Tuesday, December 9th
              Nine years, six months, thirteen days
              Days without stabbing: 5

              I am a very contented little monster right now. Gawain and Becky are truly amazing. It is never easy to slip away from them but there’s no reason why they should be up before dawn because I’ve got therapy. By the time we were all done, it wasn’t worth dozing off. Well, honestly I am still leery about accidentally cutting Beautiful in the night but it was a good excuse and now that I know that Spring perk up trick it was easier to just stay up. Is it weird that I stood there and watched them shift closer to fill the void I left in the bed? Yes Calamity, it is weird, but it’s only Darkling weird, not psycho killer weird so it’s okay. I love them so much.

              Not sure if last night was about being worried they might lose me or maybe trying to distract me from the fact that Stasia was whisked off by the quad after the movies last night. I am really glad we got to spend the afternoon together at the pier. It was good (if a bit bittersweet) to start filling in all the lost years and to revisit some of the best moments of the past. I can’t help but feel a little guilty that my disappearance was the cause of so much heartache and pain for her but Stasia was quite firm about not letting me apologize for, as she put it, “being kidnapped by a god-like being from another dimension.” And when she put it that way I couldn’t really argue. (Not that I or anyone else has ever been able to argue with her when she’s got her mind set on something.) It was nice to just be with her. Just having her near again feels so right.

              And we talked about us. About how she had figured out that while I was waiting for my handsome prince she wanted a princess who forgot to lock her door. She seems to find it strange that I’m as into women as I am. I guess maybe it makes sense. I wasn’t really ‘into’ anyone yet when I was taken. I mean, I knew on a really abstract level that sex happened and all and yeah, stunt butt or not I did pay attention to that scene in Robin Hood and might have looked forward to it and re-watched it a time or two. But I had no clue just what that weird little feeling it gave was and I sure as fuck had no idea what I was supposed to actually do about it. But I still believe that if I hadn’t been taken Stasia would have been my first and quite possible my only. I really was that kind of girl back then after all. Of course, who knows what would have happened once all the hormones actually got to pumping. I have this ideal image of who I would have become and I feel so sure about it. But the truth is I don’t know. The Dr Katheryn Moss in my mind that’s married to her childhood friend Anastasia and saving lives isn’t real, she’s a character on a medical drama. And even if she was who I’d have become, it’s pointless to cry over what might have been.

              Which, I think, is where Stasia and I are. She’s been trying not to think about her own version of that future. It was a little awkward but we talked and that was good. We’ve got each other again and that’s the part that matters most to us both.

              And most of the afternoon was just fun. It was silly, but we found one of those photo booths (I wasn’t sure they still existed) and took a couple of strips. It’s strange to look at them next to that old one I found in the scrap book. So much is different and yet, you can see the same bond there. I should get them framed before Stasia leaves. (if she leaves at this point.)

              So yeah, I have plenty to talk about with Dr Emmett and for once it’s good news.

              Tuesday, December 9th
              Nine years, six months, thirteen days
              Days without stabbing: 5

              Well, this has been quite a fine day. We got back from therapy in time for sex breakfast as usual. I had to chuckle at poor Stasia, she was looking ever so slightly hazy around the edges when she came in. Not that I blame her. I had no doubt that the girls would treat her right but they clearly gave her a night she’ll never forget. She still seems a bit overwhelmed by all of this and she keeps asking questions to try to make sense of it all. So far the others haven’t found it tiresome or if they have they’ve humored her for my sake. Damn it feels so nice to have her around.

              So, there was talk of the trip to the Unseelie Court and the fact that tomorrow is also Austin’s Chestnut Party. I think I was the only one even slightly torn between those options. But after hearing about the nightclub, Stasia perked up about going along and that settled that. I mean, it’s not that I don’t trust the Night Court’s hospitality and I am sure they wouldn’t be so foolish as to harm my Stasia but best to be there personally to make sure. Also… Corbin. Sure, she is only playing at being prey to see how hard and far I’ll chase her but that doesn’t make the hunt any less fun or make me not want to do bad things to her when it’s over.

              And, of course a trip to a Goth/Industrial club means some clothes shopping for most of us, but that ended up getting put off till tomorrow since D already had a wardrobe and would be working then. So instead we ended up hitting the beach. Stasia hasn’t grokked the whole lack of winter down here and was thus quite surprised to discover it was an option but quite happily so.

              So while folks scattered to get ready, Jacob mentioned sparring. I, of course, was quite agreeable to getting in our usual workout. Even if I don’t have a ton of anger or whatnot to clear I do love a good dance and I’ll confess that once folks started to drift back down to gather and Stasia was watching I did start getting a little flashy. But Jacob never let me get careless which is part of why I enjoy our sparring. And even with my spirits soaring, I didn’t miss the fact that he was fighting almost exclusively in his older manner, not using any of the moves he’s picked up from Luna and I. It was strictly the style he learned from Rook. Normally, I would have said something but I didn’t want to try to bring it up in front of everyone. That and I am not really sure what to say to him about it. I know Rook was a brother in arms to him and even if he turned away from that life that’s not something you just forget. I know he’s not one to show his emotions at the best of times and in this case he’s got good reason to keep his pain inside. If he grieves the death of a loyalist it would raise questions about his past he doesn’t really want to deal with. I need to find the words. Make sure he knows I’ve got his back and that I’m here if he needs me. Not that I know what I can do to help and I hate that. Just have to find a quiet moment. I guess if nothing else I could bring it up Thursday while we’re alone on the way to and from the clinic. And while I am worried about him, Luna has stayed close to him since the fight. Those two really are perfect for each other and it’s clear how in love they are. Honestly, if he’s going to talk to anyone it’s most likely going to be her. But I do care and I do need to make he knows that if nothing else.

              The beach trip was full of hi-jinks and shenanigans and even a little tomfoolery. We surfed and swam (except for Julia who watched us all from the shade of her pavilion). There was laughter and fun. Towards the end of the afternoon volleyball came up but rather than splitting up we sent Lori out to round up a passel of hapless victims and we crushed them like the first act of a Bad News Bears movie or whatever random extras face off against the Harlem Globetrotters. Though they did get to watch Lori play volleyball in her bikini so I don’t really feel that bad for them.

              Then it was back to the Dream House to do the show. I rolled out These Boots Were made for Walking early since we’ll be taking tomorrow night off and I was quite pleased with how it turned out. Hard to go wrong pairing a song about boots with my whole dominatrix style. Pity Dark Kimberly wasn’t in tonight. Given her penchant for boot-worship, I am rather looking forward to seeing her reaction to it or the killer new boots I’m rocking for it. (I mean, seriously, it was a perfectly justified business expense. After all, I certainly couldn’t do a number ABOUT boots without some ab-so-fucking-lutely amazing boots now could I?)

              So yeah, everything is going right but I just can’t shake this uneasy feeling that the other shoe of Damocles is waiting to drop on my head. I know it’s silly but it just keeps creeping in. I mean, paranoia is part of being a Darkling and all but it’s more than just that. And Dr Emmett did keep asking me about how it made me feel that things were going so well and she had that Spock skeptical eyebrow thing going on that she does when I kept saying being happy made me… well happy.

              And yeah, so maybe it does also make me feel a little guilty. I’ve got Handsome and Beautiful and now I have my Stasia back and there’s this little voice that keeps telling me that I don’t deserve any of it. But that’s not how things work. The universe doesn’t keep score. Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people and the world just spins on and gives zero fucks. There is no cosmic referee that’s going to play a red card on me for being happy and in love and take that away from me. No, it falls entirely on my dangerously jagged shoulders to fuck everything up…

              But this isn’t the time to let myself fall down that damn rabbit hole again. I need to be focused. Handsome and I are about to settle in with Desiree for another round of dream therapy. We’re getting close to a real breakthrough with her. She said tonight that she’s feeling more confident lately and that she likes the way that feels. We’re making a difference. We’re helping her. And I like how that feels.

              Wednesday, December 10th
              Nine years, six months, twelve days
              Days without stabbing: 6

              Well, that was a delightful adventure. My oh my but Corbin is a delightful little thing. She may not be prey but she does play the role wonderfully. All the better to lure in would be predators and turn the tables on them I’m sure. And yes, I suppose that by letting her lure me in tonight that includes me but damn she’s mighty fine bait so whatever comes of it it was fucking worth it. And I can’t deny that she is right, I do have at least a little red riding hood in me but despite how determined she seems to turn things around, I kept finding it more adorable than anything else. She is a predator, but she’s a very subtle and patient one. And while I am not saying she isn’t dangerous as all fuck I’m afraid she’s going to disappointed because I just don’t think she’s got enough it in her to be a big enough bad enough wolf to coax that side of me out. But she seems determined to try and it should be a fun ride seeing what comes next.

              The Unseelie Court is nice. If running the Dream House didn’t keep me so busy I would certainly make a habit of going, and not just to continue this cat and mouse game with Corbin. The whole motley seemed to have a good time tonight. The rest of her and Corvis’ motley seems to have made a good impression on my fellows. There were also a couple of Night Courtiers that weren’t in their circle in the club, most notably Salk.

              One of them, a girl called alternatively Neon or Electra, is apparently from the same durance as Darke. She claims she was the lighting at the sleazy jazz club there (hence the nickname). It would be interesting to hear more about it, though that’s never an easy topic to bring up with one of us.

              Lori seemed to hit it off with the other illuminated member of the group, one Brightstar. She introduced herself as the perky one and then spent the night in a hyperactive frenzy that would have exhausted one of those fiery dudes from Labyrinth. (Though, to be fair, she did apparently keep all of her body parts attached at all times.)

              Marguerite paired off with Strype but choose to molest her on one of the couches rather than get a room. And that led to me mentioning to Lori what she’d said about her hobby of defiling churches which she did not seem to find amusing in the least. But I have no doubt that even if we can’t insure she doesn’t get around to Lori’s Dad’s church (and trying to stop her would likely only make it much more appealing and raise it’s place on her list) I have no doubt that Marguerite will have the decency or at least the compassion to not be involved.

              The others had a good time as well, even if they didn’t pair off with a particular host. Jacob and Luna watched from the catwalks and danced together on one of the far less crowded elevated dance floors a bit. Stasia enjoyed herself as did Gawain. I did actually do some dancing (after Corbin and I were through with each other) and couldn’t resist trying out the raised cage. I even fired it up and rode it across the room while I showed off my moves after I had a couple of drinks.

              And now we’re all back at the Dream House. I am a touch buzzed still and feeling pretty damn pleased with myself. But I am also rather looking forward to curling up with just my Knight and being able to completely relax and sleep in his arms.

              You know, at some point later tonight.

              Maybe.

              I mean… I DO know the secret of poofing now...


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              • Jacob’s Journal

                After we got back from the beach we all got cleaned up and ready for the show. I wrote a bit in this book and stocked the bar while others got into costumes and went over last minute rehearsals for the show. I suppose that I took a bit longer than was strictly necessary to stock the bar, but I think I had gotten my fill of being social at the beach. I needed some quiet time before the crowds showed up for the show tonight.

                Hailey came to the bar, as has become her habit of late. We made small talk for a bit, but nothing too extensive. Luna was of course there. I don’t know what I’d do without my Luna honestly. The past few days she has been my anchor. She seems to know when I need quiet and when I need someone to listen to me vent. I sometimes feel like I’m taking advantage. I haven’t been super supportive of her the last few days, it’s mainly been her helping me. I don’t know what I can do to help her. I don’t know if she needs support for anything right now. I should probably ask her.

                Corvus and Corbin came to the show tonight and by unspoken agreement all members of the motley went over to the table that they were sitting at and offered our thanks for the passes to their club. We said that we were planning on taking them up on their offer to visit tomorrow night. They were friendly and amenable to us visiting. I think that they were happy that we were going to take them up on their offer to see their place.

                During a lull, I texted Elena to see how she was doing. She replied that she was doing well and let me know that Natasha had moved out of her apartment recently. I think she was happy to have her place back to herself, though I know that she had become pretty close to the Ukrainian girl in the few days that she spent there. We chatted a bit more about general things before I had to get back to work. I am happy that I can talk to Elena as my sister instead of hiding who I am. I should probably thank Insincere Marguerite and Lorelei for pushing me to telling Elena who I really am. Hopefully I can do some regular social things with my sister in the future. No more Loyalists hunting me down, just something fun. Maybe next time we do something social as a motley I’ll see if Elena wants to join us. I’m sure she’d like to go to the beach or go roller skating. Maybe I can see if she wants to go for a hike in the woods nearby. We used to do it all the time as kids. Maybe we can take that up again.

                The only other thing of note that really happened tonight was that Gawain and Calamity were going to work with Desiree on more dream healing. I think that they are making progress which is good. I am hoping that Desiree will be able to function on her own and not need to have a “keeper” anymore. I want more than anything for Marguerite to be freed from that particular oath. It is not good for either of them to keep that going for too long. I think it’s taking its toll just be being in place. Not to mention the longer that they have this agreement in place the more chances there are that someone outside the motley finds out about it and then the real trouble would start. I doubt the freehold would be willing to overlook the agreement they have even with extenuating circumstances revealed.

                **** **** ****

                Breakfast went without a hitch. Gawain cooked as usual and I made coffee for everyone that wanted it. Calamity arrived as preparations were underway and seemed to be in a good mood after her morning meditation and training with White Maria. I really think that the meditation in particular is doing Calamity some good. She seems to be on a much more even keel than she had been in the past, and I think that’s a direct result of her mornings with White Maria. I hope that she continues to see her. It combined with her therapy sessions should do good things for her psyche.

                During breakfast Stasia continued her twenty questions and asked us what kind of faeries we were. Like if we were to open up a Froud book on faeries are we any of the kinds listed there. We tried to explain that it doesn’t really work that way and told her again about Kiths and Seemings. We also explained a bit about what kind of abilities we all had. Some were more forthcoming that others on that front, and I’m including myself in that. Calamity was very detailed in explaining all the powers and abilities that she had, going into detail about the different contracts and such. The others were a little less detailed than that but everyone shared something about themselves. For my part I mentioned that I have control over snow and ice and pretty much left it at that. I am not one to go into details on all of my abilities with a stranger. Granted Stasia is Calamity’s childhood friend, and I stress the word childhood, but we still don’t know her all that well. She doesn’t seem to be gathering information so she can use it against her later, she seems to be honestly curious. She does have some rather specific questions sometimes, which makes me think that she’s comparing us to some preconceived ideas that she already has in her head about the fae.

                After breakfast some of the ladies brought up the idea of going shopping for our visit to the club tonight. I wasn’t aware that we needed new clothes for this trip, but it sounded like there was a specific type of dress that people would be wearing at the dance club and we should probably try and fit in. I think the term Industrial Goth came up. So, it ended up that Lori, Calamity, Stasia, Insincere Marguerite and Julia all went shopping for clothes. They ended up being gone for a good long while. The rest of us, me, Luna and Gawain went shopping on our own, but took far less time. After I looked up industrial goth on my phone I knew what I was looking for. So did Luna and Gawain. We went in, got what we were looking for and left. We even had time when we got back to play some video games and spar in the backyard. It was fun to spar with Gawain again. He doesn’t usually join me and Calamity after our therapy sessions, so it was a nice surprise to spar with him today. The same goes for Luna. I hadn’t practiced with her in a while either. So it was fun.

                After the ladies got back from their shopping trip we all got dressed up and piled into Gawain’s van for the trip to the club, the Unseelie Court. When we got to the club we discovered that we already knew at least some of the guests there. We saw Corvus and Corbin, Salk and Della Strype. There was also a smaller secondary bar where it seemed a majority of the other fae guests were hanging out. We introduced ourselves to the group and they introduced themselves to us. They seemed nice. Most of them were Night Court I believe. I know at least that Corvus, Corbin, Salk and Della are all Night Court. There was a young lady named Brightstar that was a particularly bouncy Night Courtier. The others were more laid back. It also turns out that there is a young lady named Electra that came from the same durance as Darke. She apparently was a neon light in a sleazy club in Arcadia. For that reason I think some of the others also call her Neon.

                We also received a tour of the club, including the private back rooms and multiple dance floors. I think it is a pretty well laid out place and definitely takes good advantage of the space they have available.

                We all broke up after that into smaller groups and started dancing or socializing. Luna and I went up to the catwalks after we’d gotten our one free drink and watched the crowd of people dancing below us. I know that Luna appreciates smaller groups of people and probably didn’t mind being away from all the people that would be bumping up against her wings as they danced. So, we people-watched for a while. It was fun. As we watched Calamity flirted with Corbin and eventually went back to one of the back rooms. I don’t really have any doubt what the two of them were up to back there. The others mainly mingled with our new friends. The was one of the L.A Courtiers that was not really dancing though. He was just called V by the others. He mainly stayed back and watched everyone in our motley carefully. I do not know what his intentions were, but he did not act on anything that he saw. At least on this visit he didn’t. It just may be that he is used to assessing people that he is unfamiliar with. I do the same thing sometimes, but am not usually so blatant about it.

                There was a lot of flirting going on tonight. Insincere Marguerite was sprawled out on a couch with Della Strype. They were touching and kissing and talking. Overall they seemed to be enjoying themselves. Lori danced with Brightstar and they seemed to have a lot of fun. They even came up to the catwalk at one point to make out. And Stasia flirted with Julia, successfully it would seem. De La Rocha flirted with Neon and they danced for a good bit of the night too. After a while I got Luna to agree to dance with me. We went to the glass dance floor, where there were very few other dancers, and danced to a few songs. After that we made our way back down to the bar to get more drinks. Eventually everyone had that same idea and there was more drinking and socializing. We left a little while after that. Thankfully Gawain remained sober, because the rest of us were not really in any condition to drive.

                The ride home went pretty quick. I think people were still excited about the club, but were tired at the same time. Unfortunately, my thoughts slowly started shifting to Rook as we rode home, which made for a more depressing ride. I couldn’t help but think of Rook’s body laid out in the back of the very same van we were riding in. The memory hit me like a ton of bricks and it was all I could do to not throw up. I think everyone else was still pretty distracted so they didn’t seem to notice that anything was wrong. I suppose that’s fine. For them, nothing was wrong. Sometimes it just doesn’t seem fair…


                Jacob put his journal and pen down after writing the last line and stretched his arms in front of him. He got up from the bed and made his way to the dresser where there was a bottle of vodka for him and bourbon for Luna. He poured himself a generous glass and drank it down in two swallows. He put the glass down and started to pour another when a voice interrupted his action.

                “Why don’t you come to bed?” Luna smiled seductively.

                “I’ll be there in a minute.” Jacob replied as he continued to pour another glass. He drank the second as quickly as the first. As he put his glass down his eyes wandered over the dresser top and came to rest on a pair of knives. The blades shone faintly blue from enchantments that had been placed on the metal. They protected the wielder from the effects of the cold. Jacob’s hand strayed and ghosted over the top of one of the knives. His head dropped seemingly in thought.

                “Are you okay?” Luna asked concerned when her lover continued to stand there quietly.

                “No, not really.” Jacob answered in a whisper. His right hand joined his left and he drew one of the knives from its sheath. The blade shone the same blue as the handle. “I remember so many times that I would spar with Rook. We never used blunted knives, even when he was first teaching me. We always used live steel. He used these knives, even for practice.” He deftly re-sheathed the blade.

                Luna got up from the bed and made her way over to her lover. She reached out and rested one of her hands over his and squeezed. She looked at his face and was surprised to see tears on his cheeks.

                “Well it’s about time.” She mumbled and took hold of Jacob’s shoulders and turned him to face her. She reached up and wiped the moisture from his face. “Come to bed and tell me about it. I want to hear about Rook.”

                Jacob looked up surprise written across his face. “I wasn’t sure if you’d want to know given what his last mission was.”

                “He was your brother before that. So, yeah I want to know more about him.” Luna smiled gently. She started to steer him towards the bed.

                Jacob followed his girlfriend’s lead and sat down on the bed. Luna sat down next to him and took one of his hands. “I miss him.” Jacob whispered and Luna leaned in.

                “I know.”

                “I wish he wasn’t dead.” Tears streamed down Jacobs cool cheeks.

                “I know.” Warm arms wrapped around the elemental’s shoulders.

                Jacob leaned in and rested his head on Luna’s shoulder and cried. Once the tears started they would not stop and so he sobbed in despair for his lost brother. His shoulders shook as he cried and Luna’s arms simply tightened around his.

                Several minutes later Jacob’s shoulders stopped shaking quite as much and Luna heard sniffles as her lover tried to regain control of his emotions.

                “Better now?”

                “I’m sorry that I messed up your night. I know that you wanted to do more than sit here listening to me bawl like a baby.” Jacob reached up and rubbed the tears from his eyes.

                “It needed to happen sooner or later.” Luna replied smiling gently. “You couldn’t keep all of that bottled up forever. It needed to come out.”

                “I need another drink.” Jacob mumbled.

                Luna frowned, but relented. “Okay. Pour me one too, please.”

                Jacob got up and padded over to the dresser. He poured two drinks and headed back for the bed. He paused for a moment and just stared. “You’re beautiful, you know that right?” He said quietly.

                “Where’d that come from?” Luna asked bemused.

                “You put up with so much from me and you can still sit there waiting for me. You should be running in the other direction. You deserve someone better.”

                “I’m right where I want to be you dolt.” She smiled. “Now tell me about Rook. I want to hear about him.”

                So Jacob sat down carefully and handed his lover her drink. He downed his in one gulp and put the glass on the nightstand. He started talking and didn’t stop until hours later.



                Insincere Marguerite’s Whispers

                Sordid

                “Sin” by nine inch nails was playing loudly on the speakers of the Unseelie Court. Della Strype was lying on a couch, languid. She smiled, allowing her breathing to finally slow to normal and enjoying the warm feeling as she watched her feline companion come sauntering back

                “Insincere Marguerite you came back to me. I was afraid you got tired of me.”

                The Darkling sat down on the couch. Long dexterous fingers on her right hand with one too many joints stroked Strype’s hair. The Shadowsoul smiled as she felt the caress.

                “Non, I promise I did not. I said I just needed to check on my friends and it was so. You doing okay ma petite?” She leaned over and gave the Shadowsoul a quick peck on the cheek.

                “Oh I am great. Better than great. You are gonna keep coming here right?” The dark haired Fairest looked up to Lurker.

                “Ah, now and again. We work the weekends. But I enjoyed myself, my girls enjoyed themselves, and the rest of the Motley enjoyed themselves to,” A head tilt, thinking. “different degrees.”

                “Specially Calamity, I see. But don’t worry so far the Fae Corbin has taken back there always back. “ Strype glanced at the door to the back rooms. “Humans not so much.”

                The feline fae frowned slightly. “Not very sporting, hunting humans.”

                “Only humans that should not go back with her, married, has a promise ring, has to be up early, something like that don’t come back. Others she does not bother with.” She shifted to put her head on the Darklings lap.

                “Easy for you to say you are not human. Corvus kill anyone?” The Darkling looked down at the woman whose hair she was stroking.

                “Nah, though he sometimes goes out, singing, and leads people to dangerous situations. He is not a hunter the way Corbin is. Be careful of her, that’s not even her final form”

                Insincere Marguerite scoffed. Hunting humans indeed. Beneath her dignity.

                “They sometimes say they are brother and sister, to freak people out when they kiss, but that is bullshit. They are a married couple that likes fucking with people.”

                “Hmm.” Insincere Marguerite gently stoked Strype’s hair. It all sounded just a bit too sordid to her. The Fairest was getting rather comfortable, but was hoping her partner would want some loving back. She hadn’t shown any desire, however, happy to have Strype be the one being ravished. Her reverie was broken by a gentle French voice. “What about the other two? The bouncy one seems to like Lorelei.”

                An eye opened to look at the woman with pigtails shooting through the air like a comet. “Ah, Brightstar. Brightstar is super perky. Used to be Day Court. Tried to run with the wrong crowd, apparently. I have had better experiences with the Day Court than her. I have friends on the other side. Not all so bad.” A chuckle. “Just most of them.”

                “C’est vrai. Well she seems to like Lorelei. Is she involved with Neon? They keep talking.”

                Strype shifted. “Electra. Nah. Well. They may or may not have had a thing briefly, but I don’t think it was ever a relationship, and it could have just been Brightstar being affectionate because Electra was having a hard time, or something. She had a death in the family around that time. I think Electra holds a candle for her though. She has that effervescent personality and Electra is so reserved. They are really close though”

                The Darkling nodded. Strype looked up. “Now don’t start recruiting, but honestly only reason Brightstar or Electra are Night is because they popped up in L.A. Corvus, Corbin and I are Night through and through.”

                Marguerite looked down. “Should I be calling her Electra?”

                “Nah, Motley calls her Electra. The Night Court in general calls her Neon. The Day Court calls her ‘Hey You.’ The Shadowsoul chuckled.

                “Well, maybe Lori can seduce Brightstar, and De La Rocha Neon and help them get together, hein?” Insincere Marguerite smiled at the thought. “And your name situation…”

                “Same. Motley calls me Della. Most others call me Strype. You, Magic fingers, can call me whatever you want.”

                “Yes, well, I will not be called the Magic Fingers.”

                Strype giggled. “I love your accent.”

                Insincere Marguerite smiled. “What about Corvus, Corbin and Brightstar, I assume that is not their names.”

                “Brightstar hates her name, so we don’t use it. As for Corvus and Corbin hell if I know.”

                The Darkling thought a moment. “What about V?”

                “Ah, V is not Motley. Nor is Salk. I mean he is cool, but kind of mysterious. Spy, Scout, Courtier type. He visits time to time, maybe in part to drop or take information from Corvus.”

                “So that is your Motley, hein?” Insincere Marguerite let her accent thicken again a bit, seeing the smile playing on Strype’s lips.

                “Oh, there is also The Grue. We call him Howard. Don’t call him Howard. He is a surly rivethead Ogre. I think his arms are wider than your torso, hon. We are just a strange little family that run a dance club. So tell me about your Motley.” Strips shifted her head and kissed the Darkling’s skinny leg between the bottom of her shorts and top of her knee high socks.

                “Well, Julia Oldacre, De La Rocha, Lorelei Grace and I are involved. Julia and I are engaged, as are Lorelei and De La Rocha are engaged. We are mostly Darklings and Lorelei in a little family, though De La Rocha aggressively resists stereotypes like hiding from the sun. Julia and I almost are stereotypes.”

                Strype nipped the leg and laid down again. It was a bit boney. “Darkling who gets in the sun on purpose. I like it.”

                The Tunnelgrub chuckled. “Well she is Summer Court, Lorelei is Spring, and Julia is Autumn. Julia does portraits and advertising for the Dream House, Lorelei is a singer and dancer, and I do lights, curtains, and technical work. De La Rocha actually works as an X-Ray tech. I do love them all so.” She smiled.

                “Oh yeah. I mean this is not our full time. We do some odd jobs, Brightstar and Electra especially. And The Grue, actually, works as a bouncer sometimes during the week like he is tonight. Corvus and Corbin get more of the income actually running it, and I am the cute Bohemian hanger on.” She wiggled her toes inside her boots. The rush had passed, and the boney leg was starting to get a bit uncomfortable.

                Insincere Marguerite noticed the movement. “Well with the rest Calamity and Gawain are a couple, though they each have a girl on the side. They are Autumn and Dawn Courts, and Calamity does managerial work while Gawain does security. Then Luna and Jacob…Jacob is bartender. Luna is a ranger but she does not spend much time at work recently. I hope it is not a problem for her.” The Darkling brow furrows. “They are Autumn and Winter. Oh and there is Ace, he is Summer and our MC, but mostly keeps himself to himself.”

                Strype groaned and sat up next to the Darkling. She was pretty sure her legs worked again now. “Well if I can’t take you home can I at least get one more dance with you? Maybe a number?” Insincere Marguerite smiled and nodded, taking her hand and leading her back on the floor.

                End Session LXXVIII

                Whatever the intended subtext, I can’t imagine that subtext was completely gone from everyone’s mind when “These Boots Are Made For Walking” was composed. Anything is possible, I suppose.

                There was a scene where Calamity went to visit White Maria left for morning meditation left out. Nothing big, but she and Dark Kimberly were fighting. No explanation for that yet (they were arguing in Chinese) but it was funny to see Kimberly start cleaning the house while irritatedly arguing without thinking about it.

                Della Strype’s name is misspelled “Stripe” in Lorelei’s journal. That was a character, not player, error presuming Strype spelled her name like a normal, well adjusted person. Also Corbin is not a Leechfinger. That is also the character, not player making that error.

                Among the new characters, Corvus and Corbin are Darklings. Strype and Brightstar are Fairest, Neon is an Elemental, V is a Beast, and The Grue is an Ogre. Salk has been on some of the NPC lists but he is a Darkling too. V is a Runnerswift Coldscale, but he has a Merit that lets him escape confinement if possible for 1G once per day, as long as skin shedding could do that (yes grapple or chains, no sealed box). Alternately, he can ignore a single attack of Bashing up to Stamina. Once he has skin shed once he cannot for 24 hours. Brightstar and Neon are both Bright Ones among other things (Telluric and Airtouched respectively). Neon just glows in blues and purples. Brightstar had the first Clause of Separation going all evening. If Brightstar seemed an odd fit, her Night Mantle is like 1, she joined after being mean girled in Day and becoming close friends with Neon (the two are not involved romantically and haven’t been, unlike what Strype suggested).

                Hope you enjoyed The Court will be visiting the Dream House in full next time (without V or Salk, who are not actually members of that Motley). Comments and Questions welcome.


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                [Geist: Balance of Shadows ][ Vampire: The Conspiracy of Hrad Černá Hora ][ Scion: Bohemian Front][Changeling: Malibu Dream House] [Demon: Night Train Detective Agency] [WoD: The Golden Eagle]

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                • I think the journal writers were reading my comments.


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                  • Of the 6 players, Ace's does not read forums. Of the remaining 5, 4 probably read every post that shows up here and 1 reads now and again or when we bring something to their attention. Not everyone posts, obviously. But yes, your comments are being read, probably by all 5 active players at least in part.


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                    • It’s time to see what the beautiful and twisted are doing. Gawain has a plan for a golem, The Court comes to visit as a Motley, and Calamity finds not everyone takes the same thing away from their memories.

                      Session LXXIX

                      Lorelei’s Diary

                      Well, okay, things seem to be looking up for most of us. Jacob is still pretty upset over the whole Rook fiasco – not that I blame him for that, of course – but by and large my motley is moving forward, building bridges, and developing interesting new skills.

                      Sex Breakfast on Thursday was typical, in that a lot of teasing and innuendo got thrown around in all directions. Jacob and Calamity had been to their usual Thursday morning therapy sessions. I’m guessing Calamity used her new mastery of low-level Spring contracts to revitalize them both, because they looked as fresh as daisies. Luna seemed really tired, however, so I used my own magic to pep her up a bit, which earned me a small smile and nod of thanks.

                      After we’d cleared the table, Marguerite pulled D, Julia and I aside for a serious conversation. She’s considering starting up a more formal, more committed relationship with Felicity, and wanted our thoughts on the subject. She made sure to tell us that she wasn’t asking for our permission (and I say good for her on that score), but that she wanted to know how such a decision would affect us. Julia confessed to her jealousy, but did not object to Marguerite doing as she pleased. I pretty much gave my own consent, with the proviso that I didn’t want to see Julia hurt by this relationship. D agreed with me note-for-note.

                      Marguerite nodded as she considered our words. “Merci,” she said after a moment. “I want you all to know that anything which might develop between Felicity and I will pose no threat to what I have found with all of you. You will always be first in my heart.” She said it to all three of us, but she looked mostly at Julia.

                      D shrugged. “All I needed to hear,” she opined, and we considered the subject closed.

                      There wasn’t a whole lot for most of us to do during the afternoon; some people sparred outside, Julia painted, and I mostly fretted over the line-up for this weekend’s shows. It therefore came as a welcome distraction when my phone chirped at me, indicating I’d received a text message. It turned out to be from Brightstar, who wanted to let me know that the Court motley (all of them this time) intended to take in the show that night, and asked if there would be an after-party, and if so what sort of liquor they should bring as a gift.

                      I texted her back, expressing my own enthusiasm for the idea. I told her that for most of us, any alcohol would be fine, but that if they wanted to impress Marguerite it should be cognac. She replied a few moments later with GR8, ITS A D8, C-U @8. Took me a moment to decipher, but eventually I figured it out. I spent the next ten minutes or so locating everyone and letting them know that we’d have company tonight. I ended up substituting two numbers to honor our guests… one of Calamity’s and one of my own. But since I replaced our own acts with the new ones, I didn’t have to rearrange any of the other talent.

                      Oh, I should also mention that Stasia seems to be contemplating relocation to the greater Malibu-Santa Monica area. She asked sort of tentatively at breakfast if she could borrow someone’s car so that she could scout out some of the local magazine publishers and share her portfolio. Marguerite was good enough to loan Stasia her Volvo for the day. I like Stasia a lot, but nobody drives the ‘vette except me and maybe D from time to time. But I did think of a way I might be able to help her out. I went through the address book on my phone and scribbled down a few of the contacts I’ve made in the world of fashion since moving to Malibu. I figured it would give her a place to start, at least, and she was suitably grateful for the gesture.

                      Stasia got back about an hour before opening curtain, and seemed optimistic that she could make a new life for herself here if need be. As a photographer, she’s used to working freelance, but is contemplating taking a staff position somewhere if possible to help cover the higher cost of living in this area. If she finds a publication she likes, I’ll try to put in a good word for her… aside from the fact that it would be nice to have Calamity’s childhood friend close by, what I’ve seen of her portfolio is actually quite good.

                      Aside from my backup singing and dance numbers, I had two spotlight songs last night… one solo and one duet. After Ace’s opening monologue, the two of us took the stage together for the first time in a while. He didn’t have time for a costume change, of course, so I’d dressed to match his post-apocalyptic punk style… showing a bit more leg, but about the same amount of ass. The crowd went wild as guitars blared from all the speakers, introducing Avenged Sevenfold’s “The Beast and the Harlot” (guess which one I was). The two of us screamed our way through several verses of Biblical references to the End of Days, one of us singing while the other vamped for the crowd. It was a hell of a lot of fun, and I think we might add the number to a few weekend shows in the near future. I love metal that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

                      Calamity reprised her crowd-pleasing “Little Red Riding Hood” number, which I think was directed primarily at Corbin, who seemed to eat up the attention. Either way, Calamity did her usual excellent job with the song, and she left that audience practically panting for more.

                      Knowing that Brightstar and Neon would be in the audience, I had quickly designed a little choreography and assembled an outfit for a slow, sultry rendition of Kasey Cisyk’s “You Light Up My Life.” I kept my gaze on the two of them for the duration of the number. Neon seemed to take it in stride, showing no more reaction than a friendly-yet-sardonic grin, but I think I saw a bit of color rising in Brightstar’s cheeks, and her applause was particularly vigorous when the song’s final notes faded away.

                      It was a relatively quiet night for the club, honestly. A lot of our regulars were there, but the table that really drew my attention was the one containing Monica, Dominika, and Halley. There was obviously a lot of potential for trouble there, but the three of them seemed to be getting along okay for the most part. D joined them for most of the evening, and I stopped by to chat for a while as well. Monica ribbed D about “abandoning” the Muscle Beach crowd in favor of the “girls on tap” she gets at the Dream House.

                      D actually looked a little chagrinned as she replied. “Sorry I haven’t been around as much… it’s just that my schedule’s changed since I moved in here. We keep pretty late hours, and tend to sleep during the morning. The time I used to go to work out with you is the same time we have Sex Breakfast here, and…”

                      Monica leaped at her opportunity. “Oh,” she said with a wicked grin, “so you can’t come exercise with me because you’re too busy stuffing your face with crepes, is that it?”

                      D sighed, shot her the bird, and nodded. “That’s pretty much the size of it, yeah,” she admitted.

                      As it really has been a while since we had any regular exercise, the two of us promised to try to work in some group workouts in the near future. After that, Monica started teasing Dominika about her failure to understand righteous anger, with D nodding in the background in support. I took up the case of my fellow Spring Courtier, saying “there’s no reason to tease Dominika just because she’s smart enough not to want to go around angry, scared, or depressed all the time.”

                      “See,” Dominika said to Monica, nodding at me, “Lori gets it.”

                      I also said hi to Desiree and Gloria, though we didn’t talk about anything important. After that, I joined the rest of the motley in welcoming our Night Court guests from L.A. All of the people we’d met the previous night were there except for V and Salk, who are not members of that particular motley. In addition, there was a large intimidating man who called himself “The Grue.” He conducted himself very courteously, and apologized for not being present at the Unseelie Court, as he had been working security at another location.

                      Turns out that The Grue has a lot of the same abilities my honey has, granting him prodigious strength. He told a few stories about dangerous situations he’d been in (including one set in a vampire bar… I wondered aloud if it was the same bar we’d heard about previously). He doesn’t have much to fear from mortals, of course… though he did talk about the terrible retribution he had visited upon one guy who shot him in the gut for showing him up in front of his girlfriend. I shudder even thinking about it; I’m not about to write it down here.

                      He mentioned one instance in which he picked up two cars and brandished them menacingly against his foes… which was unsurprisingly enough to make said foes think twice about tangling with him. This got him engaged in an animated discussion with D about the use of vehicles as melee weapons, and I think they hit it off and found that they had a lot in common. Don’t get me wrong; I didn’t sense any sort of romantic spark between them, but they seemed to be well on their way to becoming friends by the end of the evening.

                      Corvus and Corbin were cagey about their personal lives, and we opted not to pry. They own and operate the Unseelie Court (with the backing of L.A.’s Night Court), but aside from that little tidbit and a few half-joking references to Corbin’s predilection for predatory sexual encounters, we didn’t really learn much about them. Still, they seemed nice enough.

                      Neon – real name Elektra – is a bit of an enigma to me. As we’d heard on the previous evening, she’d shared a Durance with Master Darke, so it’s no wonder that she has a somewhat hard-edged view of the world. I don’t claim to understand it, myself. She says that as a light fixture in a sleazy jazz club, she witnessed the same acts of debauchery and treachery over and over, leading her to believe that these things are endemic to humanity’s nature. Instead of trying to change this fact, she has learned to live with it.

                      “The difference between Darke and me,” she said at the end of this diatribe, “is that Darke believes people can be saved. His mistake was in trying to save his enemies. Since he was as flawed as his subjects, all his efforts produced were flawed results.”

                      Several of us objected to this point of view, though we kept the debate friendly. Gawain argued that Darke wasn’t actually trying to help his victims; he was trying to change them against their will to help the Freehold, a notion which is abhorrent to pretty much every changeling we’ve ever met. For my part, I pointed out that each of us in the Last Dance motley had worked hard to rise above the darkness Arcadia had placed within us, and for the most part it seems to be working. I’m not sure if Neon really bought in to our arguments, but she was sanguine about the topic in the end.

                      Brightstar never met her Keeper. She was attending a dance party on December 31st, 1999, when the entire venue was swept away to Arcadia. Of course, none of the partygoers knew what had happened; from their perspective the rest of the world had just disappeared in some sort of global apocalypse. As they struggled to escape their situation, some of them began to develop strange abilities. She made it sound like the origin story of some sort of superhero team comic book.

                      In any case, she escaped and found her way back to the world, brimming over with light and energy. When she first arrived in L.A., she took up with the local Day Court, but they were unkind to her (she actually said they “went all ‘Mean Girls’ on me,” whatever that means), so she switched sides and has been relatively happy with her place in the Night Court ever since. I confess that I had been wondering how someone so bright and bubbly ended up in the Night Court.

                      We told our own stories as well, of course… how Ace, Calamity, Jacob and I were assigned to the Dream House by our respective courts and charged with creating a neutral safe haven for all of the area’s changelings. We talked about how Gawain had been Calamity’s friend (Brightstar got sort of misty eyed when he talked about how she helped him escape from the Hedge), and how he had offered to help out around the place as a favor to her. We mentioned that Marguerite had been squatting in the house when we first arrived here… but I’ll stop that conversation right here, as going any further would force me to explain Marguerite’s unique definition of ownership, which would only serve to enrage me (again).

                      “So what about the three of you?” one of the Court asked, indicating D, Julia, and Luna.

                      I piped up. “D and I met in a local bar,” I said simply. “We hooked up a day or two later, and spent the next week or so trying to convince ourselves that neither one of us wanted a long-term relationship.” D squeezed my shoulder and smiled fondly at me while the rest of the group laughed.

                      “What about you?” Brightstar asked Julia.

                      Before she could answer, I said “same bar, same night!” to general laughter.

                      Julia blushed crimson. “Do you have to put it that way, Lori?” she asked morosely. “When I eventually have children, I want to be able to tell them something more romantic than ‘we hooked up one night in a bar and fucked.’”

                      I hadn’t really thought about it that way. “Sorry, sweetie,” I said, taking her hand. “I honestly thought it was kind of romantic. I mean, the four of us were all in Lowjack’s bar at the same time, but we didn’t really know each other yet. And now, less than a year later…”

                      She sighed and gave me a quavery grin. “I guess you have a point when you put it that way,” she conceded.

                      Attention turned to Luna, and she shrugged. “Jacob and I had met a few times. We got along. We decided to try dating at a party one night. Then we fell in love.” Ever the romantic, that one.

                      Things started sort of winding down around 3:00am, and we all said our goodnights. Brightstar pulled me aside before the Court left for a private moment. “Look, Lori,” she said quietly, “I’m sorry for shutting you down cold like that last night. I just have a tendency to get really excited about whatever I’m into at the moment, and… I didn’t want to rush into anything. I didn’t want to make a mistake with something like that. Okay?”

                      I gave her a hug. “You don’t have to explain yourself to me, Brightstar,” I said warmly. “I know that not everyone is as open about intimacy as I am, and I accept it. I like you, and I think the two of us could have a lot of fun together… when and if you’re ready. I’ll be here, I promise.” Then I gave her a quick kiss, and we said our goodnights. I had thought there was a chance she might spend the night here, but ‘twas not to be. More’s the pity.

                      Oh, the two motleys also worked out a deal where each of us will get into the other’s club for free in the future. Other expenses such as alcohol and food will still have to be paid for, but there will be no cover charge to gain access to the club itself. Peachy!

                      Gawain had been pretty distracted all evening, and began talking up some new project he’s working on. I’m not sure how to describe it… mostly because I had a hard time figuring out what he was talking about. He seemed to be planning to make some sort of robot fox creature out of materials he’s going to gather from the Hedge. I confess that his Hedge-crafting abilities have always been a little beyond my ability to comprehend… but he was talking about getting ingredients like foxfire and a fox’s fear of a hawk and shit like that. I don’t know how he would even begin to collect most of that stuff.

                      So when he asked if anyone wanted to head into the Hedge and search the nearby swampy area for such ingredients, I declined as politely as I could. About half the motley went with him (namely Jacob, Luna, and Calamity) while the girls and I opted to retire to our boudoir for some late-night lovin’. I heard Luna remark wryly that she was glad to be getting out into the woods instead of being stuck beneath a pile of lesbians… personally, I was glad that the opposite was true of me.

                      So, how to put this delicately? Ah, hell… the four of us fucked ourselves into a stupor and collapsed in a big heap on Marguerite and Julia’s bed. As per usual of late, I found myself a bit restless following all the orgasms, and gently extricated myself from the tangle. I padded quietly back to my room, threw on some pajamas, put on my reading glasses, and settled in with a good microbiology textbook.

                      I think I was really starting to get a handle on the role of mitochondria in the process of cellular energy conversion when I heard a small disturbance in the hall outside. Opening my door slightly, I saw Julia moving quietly toward the stairs. “Julia,” I whispered, “you okay, sweetie?”

                      She turned, her eyes a little glassy, and nodded. “I… I need to paint,” she said softly in response.

                      “You want company?” I asked.

                      She nodded. “You can come upstairs and read while I’m painting if you want,” she said.

                      So progressed the rest of the evening. At some point Julia started singing, and my mind went sort of hazy. I mean, I was still reading, and I’m pretty sure I digested most of the content of the textbook, but things always go sort of floaty and dim when Julia’s singing. A few points stand out in my memory, though. For example, I know I was singing along with her for at least a couple of songs, though I couldn’t tell you what they were. And at one point I’m pretty sure I looked up at her canvas and saw a picture of yours truly standing over the skyline of Los Angeles with a stern look on my face and my wings spread like some sort of terrible goddess… but I didn’t see that particular painting again when I finally shook off my stupor a few hours later, so I guess that could have been a dream.

                      By the time Julia had worked whatever it was out of her system, the others were already downstairs prepping Sex Breakfast. I pepped us both up a bit and we joined the others (still in our jammies). D threw me a mock-reproachful look and muttered “I woke up alone this morning” in a grumpy sort of voice. Apparently Marguerite had retreated to the vents some time after Julia and I vacated the boudoir.

                      I plopped myself down in her lap and gave her a good morning kiss. “Sorry, honey,” I said as I snuggled into her embrace, “how can I make it up to you?”

                      Her eyes twinkled. “I can think of a few possibilities,” she admitted, “but they’ll have to wait. I have to work today.”

                      “Tease,” I chuckled.

                      Breakfast was pancakes. A little pedestrian for Gawain’s culinary talents, perhaps, but tasty nonetheless. Stasia and Calamity were engaged in a spirited discussion of something called “Zima,” of which I had never heard. Apparently it was a mildly alcoholic beverage that debuted in the 90s as a citrus-based alternative to beer. Calamity says that she and Stasia got drunk on a six-pack of the stuff and kissed one evening back when they were kids. It was an important memory for her, and she wanted to evoke it for Stasia as well. Unfortunately, they don’t make the stuff anymore (at least not in America), so she had Gawain pull some out of her dreams.

                      Unfortunately this didn’t have quite the impact she’d hoped for. While Stasia remembers the night in question, she had completely forgotten their alcohol of choice, and Calamity’s gesture merely served to make her wonder why anyone would go to such trouble for something so trivial.

                      (I tried a bottle of the stuff, by the way… it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t particularly memorable either. Sort of like a very mildly alcoholic Sprite. I quirked an eyebrow at Calamity and incredulously asked “you got drunk off of this? ” to which she indignantly replied “we were thirteen! ”)

                      This sent Stasia off on a rant about how all girls are crazy because we expect our significant others to remember important details about our relationships. Aside from the fact that she is a girl, I couldn’t really fault her observation. I mean, certain memories are significant to me, and I’ll admit that sometimes it hurts to learn that they aren’t as important to D, or Marguerite, or Julia, or Oleander. But I also know that people remember certain events differently, and to expect everyone to latch on to the same details is kind of ludicrous. Case in point… the day that I met D in Lowjack’s bar stands out as one of the most important moments in my life, but if D were to ask me what sporting event was on the bar’s television that evening, I confess that I’d come up blank.

                      It reminded me of a song I heard on the radio a couple of weeks ago… it was on some silly DJ’s morning show. It’s called “The Night I Laid You Down,” and a quick internet search on my phone tells me that it was written and performed by a stand-up comedian named Stephen Lynch. The song is a duet between an unnamed man and woman, and it starts out as a tender recollection of the first time they made love. At the end of the first verse, the two of them disagree about the song that was on the radio at that time, and as the verses progress the whole thing devolves into a full-on argument. It was pretty funny. I wonder if we could adapt that for use at the Dream House… I could sing it as a duet with one of our male performers, or even with one of the girls…

                      Anyway, arguments regarding romantic misunderstandings aside, the rest of breakfast went smoothly. As per usual, I smooched D on her way out the door, then retired to our room and started writing in this journal. I don’t have any firm plans for the rest of the day; I’ve been vaguely thinking about heading down to the piano and trying my hand at another original composition. Or maybe I’ll read another chapter of that medical textbook, so that I can actually get some sleep after the show tonight without feeling like I’m wasting time.

                      …or maybe I’ll just go out on to the balcony, sit in the sunlight, and fantasize some more about the not-to-distant day on which I will become Mrs. Lorelei de la Rocha. Yeah, that sounds good.

                      Lorelei Grace


                      Calamity’s Little Black Book


                      Thursday, December 11th
                      Nine years, six months, eleven days
                      Days without stabbing: 7

                      If I believed in a higher power I might think they were trying to make up for all the shit I’ve had to deal with. Of course, if there was such a power then it would all be their fault in the first place so whatever. Dr Emmett was pleased this morning when I told her I was feeling a bit guilty about things going well. Well, not because I was feeling that way but because I saw it and was determined not to let that feeling sabotage said good things. Now, of course, the trick is actually doing that rather than just saying I will. But hey, I just have to stay aware of my own feelings and motives and not do something stupid and self destructive, how hard can that be?

                      I almost ended up going to therapy alone. I was still up and Jacob didn’t come down at the usual time so I went up and knocked on his door till he woke up and answered. He looked like hell and just sort of growled at me like a grumpy badger so I hit him with my new spring contract to revitalize him. At which point he growled at me like a bright-eyed and bushy tailed badger to tell me he’d planned to skip therapy and sleep. I pointed out (ever so helpfully) that going back to sleep was now impossible so he might as well get his ass up and to therapy. He was not pleased but he did get dressed and join me. And while he remained less than overjoyed about it, he did begrudgingly agree that the occasional kick in the pants is part of our friendship.

                      We talked a bit on the drive. He finally opened up some about Rook and how he’s been feeling about losing his brother in arms. He misses him but he’s conflicted about that because that was a dark time and he did some pretty terrible things as Rook’s partner. I told him that I don’t see where it makes him bad to remember the good parts fondly. He can’t change who he was or what he did. You have to focus forward. He’s not that person now and that’s what matters. Of course, he’s not the kid he was before he was taken either but none of us are. No one survives Arcadia unscathed. The trick is to decide who you want to be and make that happen. And yeah, so much easier said than done but we’re working on it. Of the motley, he and I wrestle with that the most but despite both of our best efforts we’re not doing it alone.

                      After therapy and sex breakfast (it was time for the musical episode apparently) I prompted him about our usual sparring and he agreed. It’s hard to read him but I got a feeling he was distracted and once we started, he fell right into his old style. We danced and it was a good workout as always but I ended up pausing to ask him about it. I mean, I’m not going to tell him how to fight but sparring really is like a dance in that it’s a physical conversation. And I could tell he was still thinking about his past and Rook so I asked him about it. He admitted that he was thinking a lot about his old life and Rook and we ended up sitting and talking rather than sparring for the rest of the afternoon, which was nice. I mean, the only side of Rook I ever saw was the dangerous loyalist but I know that he and Jacob traveled together and it was actually nice to hear him tell some of the stories (even if I think he was trying to be careful to pick the ones that weren’t directly about their darker tasks). He told about how he’d ended up choosing Rook to train him and how Rook proved to be an excellent and uncompromising teacher. And as he described the slow shift from begrudging to acceptance and eventually friendship I had to smile a little at the similarity to Luna and myself. After he’d finished, I ended up sharing that story with him. He did find the whole story of how I basically convinced Luna to teach me by just refusing to give up and stay down despite how many times she put me down the first time we met amusing, and when I recounted the ‘Clearly I am going to have to either kill you or agree to train you… And I don’t feel like dealing with a body today’ line with Luna there smirking in agreement he smiled. All in all, It felt really good to talk to him about it and while it hasn’t been that long at least he’s not trying to hold it all inside. I believe our talk helped and he seems at least a little better for it.

                      And while I was sparring and talking with him, Stasia was out and about. She borrowed Marguerite's car and armed with some names and numbers from Lori set about showing off her portfolio. When she got back just now she was really upbeat about the responses. She might have to tie herself to a full time gig somewhere rather than remaining freelance but it looks like she’ll be able support herself down here. I mean, I would help her out in a heartbeat and I may still offer to help but only to make it easier. My Stasia wouldn’t be happy if she wasn’t able to be completely independent if she needed to be.

                      So now I’m prepping for tonight’s show and since Corbin’s motley is dropping in to catch it and stay for the ‘afterparty’ I got Lori to sub in Little Red Riding Hood for boots since I DID promise Corbin I’d sing that one for her. And I may have made a slight adjustment or two to the costume accordingly… It should be an interesting evening.


                      Friday, December 12th
                      Nine years, six months, ten days
                      Days without stabbing: 8

                      Interesting indeed. Well, the Court dropped in like the cool kids at High School and took over one of the large round tops. They were all there, including The Grue that we hadn’t met at the Unseelie Court. I was mildly disappointed. I mean, he is a fine sort, well mannered and witty (especially for an ogre) but the name just seems like it would suit someone more like Tommy. (Speaking of which, I haven’t heard from him in ages… I wonder what he’s up to?)

                      We also had Monica, Hailey, and Dominika at a table, which raised a few eyebrows and prompted D to join them since it was either the muscle beach crowd which she’s part of or it was a ticking time bomb. Things stayed civil and when I dropped by later everyone was chatting and joking so apparently things are quiet on that front for the moment at least.

                      White Maria wasn’t in, which I wouldn’t have thought too much of except for that argument I witnessed with her and Dark Kimberly Wednesday morning. But she seemed fine this morning when I dropped in for our regular forms and sparring. I did ask her about it but beyond an offhanded comment about putting Dark Kimberly in a chastity belt she assured me it was nothing and was too embarrassingly trivial to explain so I let it drop but I can’t help but remain curious about what’s going on with those two. Maybe I’ll ask Annika about at our usual cigar break after tonight’s show. Or if her mood seems touchy I could call Davey and see what he knows.

                      The show went off flawlessly and we escorted our Night Court guests up to the den afterward. They’d brought some ‘snooty bourbon’ as we’re all still calling it and we settled in to swap some stories and hang out. It was nice getting to know them better. As I said, The Grue has a dry wit that I found amusing and was quite the gentleman. Brightstar was… well… bright and cheerful. Electra did end up talking a bit more about her shared durance with Darke and her rather fatalistic view that we’re all damned sinners. Gawain and Lori debated with her a bit but it came to a good natured draw I think. And it seems that squatting is just a Night Court thing, since Strype joined their motley because she was apparently living in their club and they decided to let her join rather than try to run her off. Corvus and Corbin remained fairly quiet about their past but it did come out that Corbin and the Handmaidens are apparently quite close. And while just thinking about that threesome long enough to write that has my glass tingling I promised Becky I wouldn’t fuck the Handmaidens so… yeah… no vampire vixen pit for Calamity. Mmm…. You know, maybe I ought to grab a shower before sex breakfast…

                      No. Bad Calamity. Anyway, yeah, it was fun and we ended up making a deal to list each other as standing VIPs at each others clubs before they headed out. And as we were breaking up, my Knight told us about the hedge golem he’s been working on. It is, of course, adorable. A foxling to help him at his forge and such. And as a hedge-craft he needed some fanciful components to make it work from the Hedge. Well, we pretty quickly divided into a squad for a quick Hedge jaunt and a pile of lesbians.

                      So Handsome had a pretty good idea of where we needed to go and with Luna and Jacob’s survival skills finding the foxfire and other bits wasn’t hard. I used contract of Dreams for situational awareness and kept watch while they gathered things up but between the four of us we weren’t going to get into any fights we didn’t want to and none of the local flora or fauna was high on the needed to be stabbed scale so we stuck to the gathering and left quietly. Handsome was quite pleased with the haul, it was apparently everything he needed to finish getting his fox up and running.

                      Luna and Jacob split off as soon as we got home but before Handsome and I made our way up I noticed two things. One, Julia was singing and two that Stasia was standing about entranced. So I gave my love a kiss and send him off to bed while I gathered my friend and walked her back to the guest room. She seemed to get a little clearer once we were beyond the sound of Julia’s voice though she was pretty deep in the spell. I broke out the six pack of Zima I’d gotten Handsome to Cobblethought up for me and sat with Stasia a bit and talked to her about her trip to the Rose and Thorn and making out with Flores. (because of course she ended up making out with Flores) I tried to be very, very careful while she was so entranced and suggestible and after a bit I ended up tucking her in to sleep.

                      At that point, It was time to head to White Maria’s so I poofed myself and rolled out. Man, learning that contract from Beautiful has been such a godsend. Sleep really is for suckers.




                      I am not upset. Why would I be upset over something so trivial as remembering what we were drinking on the night we shared our first and only kiss? And what if I am “such a girl” to recall it? I thought the whole point was that Stasia LIKES girls… she certainly likes Julia well enough…

                      Fuck. What in the ever-loving Hell is wrong with me? We talked about this. Whatever there was is long done. I have Handsome and Beautiful. Everything that’s happened would make something like that between us all weird. I’m not the girl she fell for back then. We’ve been over all of this already. Friends. Sisters. Hardcore besties.

                      Fuck it, I need to clear my head but first I should put on something decent and maybe try dragging a damn comb through this rat’s nest for a change.


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                      • Jacob’s Journal

                        Today did not start out like I wanted it to. My plan was to stay in bed with Luna until sex breakfast, or maybe even past breakfast. I was hungover, tired, and not in a very good mood. Unfortunately for me Calamity had different ideas. Today is Thursday, so when I did not meet her down in the lobby to go to therapy she took it upon herself to come upstairs and wake me up. I answered the door and let her know that I was not up to going anywhere today. She insisted that I should go to the clinic, and said that it would do me good. She even used that Spring court contract on me that wakes you up and leaves you feeling refreshed. It even helps you get over hangovers. Neat trick. I eventually relented. I knew that she would not stop pestering me until I actually agreed to go, so I said fine and got dressed. We took my jeep to the clinic and ended up talking on the way there. She asked about Rook. I didn’t say anything for a little bit, but then finally relented and admitted that I had come to the realization the other day that I have been Rime longer than I have been Jacob, and sometimes I don’t know who I am anymore. The Jacob that exists now is nothing like the kid who got trapped in that ice cave. But I’m not completely like Rime anymore either, at least I hope I’m not. I was not a good person when I was Rime. Strictly speaking Rook was not a very good person either, and I said as much to Calamity. I admitted that I didn’t want the others to look down on me because I was not a good person. They know that I was a Loyalist, but they don’t know the kinds of things I did as Rime, which is fine by me. I guess I just didn’t want their opinion to change. I know Calamity’s view of me won’t waver. She knows what it’s like to have done questionable acts in and out of Arcadia. I just don’t want the others to look at me and see Rime.

                        Then there was therapy. Not sure that was very useful. I admit part of me stayed quiet for a good bit of the session in a kind of protest. I had wanted to stay at home, nurse my hangover and just be with Luna, but Calamity changed my plans. I shouldn’t have taken my annoyance out on the doctor. Though I did talk a little bit. I admitted that I talked to Luna a bit last night about Rook. I didn’t mention my breakdown. I probably should have, but I still felt too raw to admit it to a relative stranger. So, he was excited that I’d opened myself up to someone. To his credit he didn’t ask what I talked to Luna about, he just said that it was good that I’d started to talk to my friends. He suggested that I continue to do that. I told him that I was considering it.

                        When we got back to the house we had sex breakfast. Somehow the conversation turned to what life would be like if it was a musical. Lori expressed her interest in that. I didn’t think it would be very good. I don’t know if I’d like having people spontaneously break out into song around me. It would just be weird. I’m not sure how we get onto such strange topics anyway.

                        After breakfast Calamity suggested that we spar. I figured that I wasn’t so annoyed with her that I wouldn’t spar, so we changed and met up in the back yard. Luna came out to watch. We started off like we usually do. Quiet and still for a few moments before we are both a flurry of movement. Overall our match was shorter than usual. I guess I’ve been favoring my old fighting style lately and Calamity called me on it. She motioned for a pause in our fight and then just asked me why I was going back to my old style, and if it was because of Rook. I admitted that it was. He has been on my mind a lot lately and I guess I’ve just been falling back on what is old and comfortable to me. I have to think more when I use the new style. I have to pay attention to attacks and defenses. With my old style, it’s all rote. I don’t need to pay close attention to what I’m doing, I just do it. It’s easier to let my mind wander. That’s part of it anyway. The other part I guess is that I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my life as Rime, so I went back to what is familiar.

                        And like last night, once I started talking I didn’t stop for a while. I told Calamity about how I first met Rook. The Lady explained that I would need to be apprenticed to someone before I could truly serve her. She gave me the choice of learning under Rook or one of her other Knights by the name of Bishop. I think she had a chess theme going for some of the Knights. Anyway, I didn’t know either one of them. I didn’t know their capabilities. I didn’t know their personalities. I just knew what I saw, and what I saw when I looked at Rook was cool professionalism. He seemed very laid back and calm. He was very still. Bishop on the other hand moved frequently. He certainly looked like he could beat a man hands down, but he seemed to have an excess of energy and a somewhat cocky smile. So, I chose Rook. Rook for his part did not look overly pleased that I’d chosen him, but I believed that I’d made the right choice. I still do.

                        After our introductions, the Lady had given me the name Rime by that point, he laid out his ground rules. He was strict and expected nothing but the best from me. I will admit that I probably disappointed him in the beginning. I had some rudimentary fighting skills after all my time alone, but nothing polished, nothing really effective. So, he started with hand to hand fighting. He would show me a move and have me try and replicate it. I ended up on my ass more times than not in the beginning. After I got somewhat good at fighting with my bare hands he put something in them. Rook gave me my first set of knives. They were simple and utilitarian but good quality. When I told him that I liked his knives, he said that I would have to earn something like that. The Lady didn’t give tokens out to just anyone in her employ. So, he taught me how to fight with a knife. I ended up with several scars from those training sessions. In the beginning, he would pull his strikes so they just left a scratch. After a while he didn’t pull back and I ended up with several bad wounds as a reminder of what I did wrong. I certainly learned not to make those mistakes again. It also helped me learn to fight through the pain. My enemies wouldn’t stop fighting because I was hurt, they would push any advantage they thought they had, so I learned to make sure I didn’t give them one. Sometimes the Lady would heal me, sometimes she would leave the injury as a reminder to practice more. I think it depended on her mood.

                        Like I said, in the beginning I don’t believe Rook liked me much. I think he had been used to working alone and suddenly he was paired with a still wet behind the ears kid. Oh…he tolerated me because the Lady had basically assigned us together, but he wasn’t thrilled. I have to give him credit though. He may not have wanted to teach me, but that didn’t stop him from doing his best to instill his lessons in me. He didn’t slack off in his job, so I didn’t slack off on my part either. At the time I thought that it took me forever to learn the lessons. It certainly seemed to take a long time, but years later Rook confided in me that he was surprised at my determination to learn. He said that I had progressed faster in the training than anyone else he had taught. It made me feel proud when he told me that. It wasn’t an ego thing either. At that point I knew my capabilities. I knew what I could handle and what I would need help with. I knew I was good. Rook expected the best, and so that’s what I strove to give him.

                        Calamity for her part told me how she first met Luna. Apparently, Tommy set up the meeting. He arranged for Calamity to meet Luna in a clearing in the woods. As soon as Calamity entered the clearing Luna ambushed her and knocked her down. Calamity got back up. Again and again Luna knocked my motley mate down and time and time again Calamity would get back up for more. I think Luna was impressed with Calamity’s determination to learn and to fight. I know Rook certainly would have been. I’m not unaware of the similarities in teaching styles. So, Luna finally relented and agreed to train Calamity how to fight. She focused on teaching her student knife fighting. At the time Calamity was not interested in learning anything non-lethal. She is a razorhand after all. And she had issues with violent tendencies. She has definitely gotten better about that in recent months. In the beginning though she channeled her violent leanings into learning how to fight with her glass. I can tell how her focus has shifted in our sparring matches. Calamity has been going for more dodges and deflections than she did previously. In the beginning she was mainly focused on attacking me, but she’s pulled back a bit from that. I think she’s growing as a fighter and as a person. I have to admire her for that. It’s not easy to change one’s nature. It takes time and practice to become something, or someone new. I know all too well how hard it can be to change.

                        Sometimes I wonder if I haven’t really changed all that much and I’ve just gotten used to wearing the “Jacob mask.” I find myself wanting to get into a fight. A real one mind you, not training. I want to go all out on a target and not have to worry about pulling my strikes. I got used to a certain amount of action while in the Lady’s employ, and it has been so very quiet here for so long that it feels wrong somehow. I know that I shouldn’t be looking forward to a fight. I should be enjoying the peace. But I think, like Calamity, I am a child of action. I enjoy fighting. I enjoy the feel of my knives in my hands, like they are an extension of me. I can’t really admit that to anyone either. My therapist would definitely think that it was a step backwards. Calamity might empathize a little too much. She has been doing well lately. I don’t want to bring her down with me. The others would probably not understand. They are more than content in their peaceful lives. They enjoy the quiet, where it makes me feel kind of on edge.

                        Working for the Lady, long idle periods usually spelled trouble. It meant that one of the other Gentry was planning something against the Lady and was consolidating their forces. There was more than one attempted takeover of the Lady’s realm by other Gentry. They all failed of course. The Lady is powerful and chooses her Knights carefully. We repelled any invaders that tried to make any sort of headway into Her lands. Maybe that’s why I dislike the quiet. I’m expecting an invasion. Or maybe I just feel idle. Like my life doesn’t have a point. Sure I mix drinks on a nightly basis, and am pretty good at it, but being a bartender doesn’t really define me. In the past my knives have always demonstrated who I was, and now I feel like I’m losing my identity. Like I’m not earning my keep. I’m not sure what to do about it either.

                        Anyway, after Calamity and I had finished our talk Lorelei came out to let us know that the “Court” (the motley of Night Courtiers from LA) would be visiting tonight and staying for a bit after the show. I guess that they must have enjoyed seeing all of us at their club and wanted to visit us as a group too. We nodded our understanding and went our separate ways. I think Calamity had some errands to run and after our little talk I wasn’t really up to much more socializing. So, I went upstairs to shower. Luna was waiting for me in my room when I got out. After I got dressed we didn’t really talk, we just sat on the bed and leaned on one another. I think she had been listening when me and Calamity were talking about Rook. At least I thought I remembered seeing a wry smile on her face when Calamity was describing her first day meeting her teacher. She seemed to know that my emotions were running rather close to the surface and that I needed time to settle everything down again. I’m used to wearing a “mask” and I had taken it off, so to speak, when I was talking to Calamity. I was honest with her about my past and it dredged up a lot of feelings, good and bad. I needed time to put that “mask” back on.

                        So, the show went well. Both Lori and Calamity did a really good job with their acts. Not that it’s much of a surprise. Those two are naturals on the stage. I guess those lessons with Annika have really paid off for Calamity. I don’t know where Lori learned to do her thing. I’m sure she had to perform for her Empress in Arcadia, but what she does on stage now is worlds away from that. Here she’s been a performer from the start. Though sometimes I wonder what lessons between Annika and Lori would be like. I get the feeling that sparks would fly if those two tried a teacher-student relationship. And speaking of awkward, I noticed from the bar tonight that Dominka, Monica and Hailey were all sitting together. I know there was varying degrees of awkwardness/hostility between them. Hopefully this means that they’ve worked something out.

                        At one point during the show Calamity came up to the bar with a six pack of something called Zima. She asked if I could put it in the cooler. I then asked if she just wanted it cooled, ‘cause I can do that easily. Just as easily as I made popsicles for little Felicity. Calamity just said that she wanted it for later, so I put it in the fridge for her.

                        After the show, we got together with the “Court” in the media room. Stasia elected to go out by herself so we could hang out with them. I think Calamity might have wanted her to stay, but Stasia is a grown woman and can do as she pleases. She may have thought that we might want to speak to the “Court” privately. I’m not sure. Conversation certainly turned to the interesting. Somehow our Durances came up. Neon shared that she had been in the same world that Darke had been in. She was a light fixture in a seedy club. Darke was something of a hero in that world. Always willing to give people a second chance to change or be better. Neon for her part became rather jaded in Arcadia. She saw the worst of humanity reflected in her light and became convinced that the darkness in people was all that there was. Master Darke for his part tried to help people become better and exceed expectations. She said that he tried to do better here, but that he was flawed and therefore his efforts became flawed. This spawned all kinds of debate within the motley. Some saw his efforts as only bad because what became of them were bad results, but Neon argued that he was actually trying to do good. She said that because he was not a perfect person to start with, his efforts were also going to be flawed. Eventually we all agreed that he thought he was doing what was in the best interest of the freehold when he acted here. He honestly thought that what he was doing was going to lead to the betterment of everyone else.

                        For Brightstar things were a different matter. She never actually knew her Keeper. She just knew that the club that she’d been in, the entire thing, had been transported to Arcadia. They all thought it was some kind of post-apocalyptic world and reacted accordingly. They never knew their keeper. They just knew that something was wrong. They eventually figured out who they really were and most of them escaped from that world. I say most of them. Some of them were killed because they became too violent and became a threat to the others. They were killed. The rest survived and managed to get out of Arcadia.

                        We also talked a bit about how the Day and Night Courts get along in the city. They don’t really, but they trade control off as the sun rises and sets. They still somewhat follow the seasonal courts, but they tend to pay attention to the diurnal changes. They may not get along on a daily basis, but if a threat comes to the freehold they respond, in kind. They will rally against outside threats as if they were one cohesive unit. It is kind of bemusing and interesting to see all at once. Don’t let them hear me say that though.

                        After a while the “Court” left and we talked amongst ourselves. Gawain revealed that he really wanted to go into the Hedge and retrieve some ingredients for an automaton that he had designed. I was more than willing to venture out into the Hedge at that point and volunteered my services. Several others volunteered as well. All told we had Calamity, myself, Luna and Gawain all going into the Hedge to look for ingredients for his automaton. Gawain said that we needed to find foxfire, fox footprints and a fox skeleton to make his robot. He needed the foxfire to power it, the footprints to aid its travel and its teeth to give it an advantage if it should need to fight. Calamity used a contract to help us find the safest way through the Hedge to where we needed to go. I will admit that at that point I was more than happy to fight something, but I don’t think that that others were. They seemed more than willing to just find the things that Gawain was looking for and leave the Hedge. I will admit that I felt a kind of familiarity amongst the Hedge’s thorns. I was used to traveling amid the thorns and brambles, but the others were not. They only sought what they were after and nothing else. They did not see the beauty amid the branches that I saw. And that’s fine. I did not expect them to see in the Hedge what I saw when I travelled. We accomplished what we had set out for and headed back to the Dream House. Gawain stored his finds and the rest of us went our way.

                        When we got back to the house I will admit that I was not really in a mood to talk. I think Luna sensed this. I made straight for the vodka and had a drink or two. She matched me for a little while, but eventually gave up and let me drink myself stupid. I could not help but remember the times that Rook and I traveled through the Hedge. The times that we were sent to spy on Changelings. The times that we were sent to gather intelligence. The times that we were sent to get someone back. All of those times. I find myself missing the Hedge and hating it at the same time. I want to go back because it is familiar, but I don’t want to go back because it reminds me of a person that I no longer wish to be. I don’t know how different I really am right now. I don’t want to be Rime, but I find myself gravitating to the things that are familiar to him. To me. I don’t know what to do.

                        **** **** ****

                        This morning was a test of endurance. I’m sure of it. I did not get that many hours of sleep before the others were getting up for breakfast. I eventually roused myself and Luna, my beautiful Luna, went downstairs to get food. Gawain made pancakes today. He apologized for making something so simple but we all just waved him off. It was very good and we all told him so.

                        Eventually the conversation came back to the Zima that Stasia and Calamity had last night. Apparently the first night they kissed as children was the first night that they had gotten drunk on this drink called Zima. Stasia admitted that she remembered the kiss, but that she had forgotten what they had to drink. This eventually led to the conversation about the first time that we had all had something hard to drink. I admitted that I was younger than Calamity was the first time that I had hard liquor. Insincere Marguerite admitted that she did not remember a time before she drank alcohol. This also led Calamity to explain the trouble that she went through to cobblethought this drink together from her memories just for them. It was kind of sweet. Stasia didn’t quite get it, but it meant a lot to Calamity that was for sure. I think that it is nice that they found one another again after so long. Here’s hoping that I can find the same kind of peace that they have. I don’t know if that is possible for me. The person that I would find peace with is dead, but maybe, just maybe I can find something.


                        Insincere Marguerite’s Whispers

                        Painting and Passions

                        Insincere Marguerite DeLisle followed Julia Oldacre into the attic that the Artist had made into a studio. A fair number of things were stored around the room but she had plenty of space for her paints, and covered half finished or abandoned paintings were all over the room, white cloth looking almost like ghosts.

                        “I do not get sunbathing either. Perhaps she is thinking of Brightstar?” Insincere Marguerite smiled, noticing her love’s exasperation.

                        Julia smirked back at her. “Maybe Bon-Bon. Brightstar seems nice. Just…excitable. But not in a bad way. I only have concerns about her because she is Night Court.”

                        The Tunnelgrub feigned being hurt. Julia giggled. “Well you know what I mean. Corvus and Corbin are super creepy. Strype is pretty intent on being bad. Don’t start me on the Handmaidens or Salk. So yeah, she does not fit.” Julia uncovered the head and shoulders portrait of Marguerite she had been working on, a smile on the Darkling’s face, night sky the backdrop.

                        Insincere Marguerite gave a shrug. “You heard the story. And that is typical Day Court, hein? Hopefully she and Juliette will get along well.”

                        Julia looked over at her. “So how mad would you get if Lori convinced her to switch to the Spring Court?”

                        Her fiancée gave another shrug. “Not. She should be where she best fits, not where found first. I prefer she remain in the Night, but I would not be angry if she switched.”

                        “Well maybe Lori can find a replacement for Rowan there. Rowan always seemed kinda straight to me anyway.” Julia finally sat down.

                        Insincere Marguerite tilted her head, “Why are you, of all people, the one to say that someone she looks straight?”

                        Julia shrugged. “Straight girls don’t paint on rooftops. Anyway what do you think of Neon?”

                        The Tunnelgrub was still trying to parse what Julia just said. She kept opening her mouth to speak and thinking better of it. Julia giggled. “Never mind, Bon-Bon. Now, Neon?”

                        “Neon, she seems fine. Pretty. Gothic. Bitter as Jacob, at least. Maybe almost more Winter than Night, though they don’t usually glow. I don’t know she seems happy with Night.” A pause. “I like her fine. Elemental, so awkward. But she is all right.”

                        The Artist nodded. “She has good use of imagery. She has some potential for poetry there. She has an artistic soul, probably has trouble expressing it.”

                        A smirk from the Lurker. “You are saying you want to sleep with her.”

                        Julia smiled and shrugged. “That purple light thing…It’s okay right you like Strype?”

                        Insincere Marguerite snorted, then chuckled, sitting behind Julia with a brush taking her hair in her hands. “I like Strype, it is true. Less than she likes me, I admit.” She paused, holding the brush. “She is drawn to the mystique, I think. I have a certain…how do you say, reputation over there for my capering and such. Capering is a word, yes?”

                        “It is if you use it, Bon-Bon”

                        “Anyway, she is drawn to the Robin Hood who made Leonidas look foolish. I am also, admittedly, ridiculously attractive.” She smiled as she brushed the Artist’s hair.

                        Meanwhile the Nightsinger had begun work. “And humble, don’t forget humble. Strype seems okay, if a bit intent on making sure we know how naughty she is, if you get what I mean.” She smiled at the sensation of the brushing. “And Corvus and Corbin?”

                        “They were around when I was in town before, and I had met them. Corbin does not impress me for much the same reason the Handmaidens don’t. I prefer a certain minimal amount of trustworthiness or loyalty. Also, they just seem…tawdry. Their whole presentation is to be desired, but pursuing, like some sort of fantasy. I mean,” Another pause, brush in hand, “Insincere Marguerite, she does the lights. She loves her trio of ladies. She is the master thief. She preens. Julia, she is the world class artist. She paints of the roof. She likes the spooky music. She loves her trio of girls. She sings like an angel. But those girls, they tempt, they seduce, and what else is there to them if you are not interested in that. Shallow. Even Strype likes dancing. What more is to them, hein?”

                        Julia nodded. “I guess I can see that. I had not thought about the whole being sexy thing being the be all, end all. But you are right.”

                        “I mean,” The Lurker resumed brushing, “I am quite sexy, and have something of a reputation as a seductress. But there is so much more to me. We else do we hear of Scarlet or Corbin or Natasha? Rein! Not their love of the guitar or the chess, Rein.”

                        Julia nodded. “But Corvus is okay?” The Lurker chuffed agreement. “He is inoffensive…another Nightsinger, no doubt less talented than you, my little cabbage. Runs a good club. I have no issue. What do you think of them?”

                        “Seem fine, creepy couple running a creepy club, as it should be. If they were a couple straightedges the club would lose all legitimacy. It gives the place spirit that those running it are so eclectic.” She added a little blue to Marguerite’s eye in the picture.

                        “And The Grue…Howard…he seemed okay. Has good stories, less a chip on his shoulder than a lot of Ogres do.” Marguerite switched to a comb to get out a tangle, and briefly held the comb in her tongue as she picked at it with unnaturally long fingers. “The story about the vampire barfight, it was good. I cannot imagine myself what I would do if the people I started to throw out were vampires then it turned out the dancers were also vampires and they started fighting.” The comb had returned to her hand and now ran smoothly through the hair.

                        “Yeah, agreed. He seemed all right. I bet he and Neon get along, both a little quieter, neither as creepy as Corvus, Corbin or Strype.” Julia squinted at the painted eye a moment.

                        “You know my love. I think it is Stasia who has most interested you, not one of the Court.” Marguerite smirked slightly as she worked out a second knot.

                        The Artist giggled. “Well, what can I say, maybe I like slightly boyish troublemakers. She hasn’t got your accent though, so you are safe.” Julia’s grin was wicked.

                        Insincere Marguerite leaned forward, her arms around Julia’s midriff. “You know I don’t mind my love, as long as you can make me the same assurance I made with Felicity.”

                        Julia’s raised her eyebrow. “Bon-Bon, I think the best way to say it is Stasia ‘ain’t the kind of girl you marry’ as we say here in the states. She’s fun, but she is less a moving van lesbian as a takes off in the opposite direction if you mention commitment lesbian.”

                        Insincere Marguerite shrugged. “It is because the girl she really wants to marry no longer exists, hein?”

                        Julia looked sad. It strangely suited her face. “Yeah well…maybe. And maybe because feminine is not too popular anymore. I was amused by her saying I would make a great ex.’

                        “I am glad Calamity is happier with her here.” The Lurker resumed brushing. “And it is good to see Gawain excited with his project, also.”

                        “It is. I hope they both continue to be so happy.” Julia smiled, then frowned slightly. “Decided about Felicity, Bon-Bon?”

                        “No. Honestly, I am interested, yet when it comes to love you three might be enough. I mean, I do try to have the time to be sure each of you are happy and taken care of. You know since I was told I was too…aloof.” Deep blue eyes flicked over to the Artist.

                        Julia smiled. “You are doing so much better Bon-Bon. And thanks for being concerned about us.”

                        Insincere Marguerite leaned up and kissed her neck. “You are worth it, my love.”

                        Julia leaned her head back and closed her eyes a moment. “Mmmmm maybe we should keep you to ourselves.”

                        “C’est possible.” Marguerite leaned back, and Julia returned to work. Done brushing, the Tunnelgrub moved next to her and leaned on her, settling into a sort of pile of limbs. Julia stroked her hair affectionately a moment.

                        “We have a good Family, don’t we Bon-Bon?”

                        A nod from the pile of Marguerite. “C’est Vrai.”

                        “And a Good Motley too.”

                        A second nod. “C’est Vrai.

                        “Want to move this to the roof? Not too hot in December.”

                        The Tunnelgrub gave a smile and pulled together. “It is fine, where you go I will go.”

                        Julia pulled her to her feet. “Bon.”

                        The lean woman picked up the canvas carefully, while the taller gathered materials, and they made their way to the attic window. “Ah you are right! I feel, how do you say, gayer already?”

                        Julia opened the window as they slipped through the limited space to the roof. Wind blew through their hair, and gazing ahead they could see the Pacific Ocean. “Yes Bon-Bon, and just mind you continue.”

                        The Tunnelgrub laughed.

                        End Session LXXIX

                        Not much to add from behind the scenes for this one. Lori used some of her Contacts from the Professional Merit to help Stasia. There was also a whole side debate about if Insincere Marguerite could use the 5th Clause of Contract of Reflections to give Stasia a copy of the ‘Vette to drive around, but of course the wheel would be on the opposite side and license plate reversed. This lead to a side discussion about uses of that Clause in car chases.

                        Gawain’s player is planning a Golem. They have laid out how they want the points spent, I think, and gave some excellent suggestions. Basically a little mechanical fox to sit on his shoulders. Sounds cute to me.

                        Julia’s hypnotic song is she being a Nightsinger. Also, speaking of that scene, Zima? Seriously? This did provoke a whole tangent about historical beverages and we discovered Zima is still being made, just not in the USA.

                        Okay I think that covers it. Comments and Questions and Zomthing different welcome.


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                          • Time to check in the Last Dance. This session everyone is kind of doing their own thing, so less crossover than usual between journals. Also, no Gawain. Enjoy.

                            Session LXXX

                            Lorelei’s Diary

                            The weekend slowly passes, and events proceed apace. It’s only been about a day since my last entry, but that day has been packed with interesting, disturbing, maddening, and delightful occurrences. And while I’m not entirely comfortable with everything that’s happened over the last twenty-four hours, I can’t complain about how most of it has turned out.

                            I actually spent most of yesterday afternoon sunbathing on the balcony. Have I ever mentioned how much I love the fact that I now live in a place where I can put on a bikini and bask in the warmth of the sun halfway through the month of December? Well I do. Everyone else seemed to be busy, so I figured I’d take a couple of hours to just relax. D was at work, Marguerite and Julia were painting in the attic, Gawain was working on his Hedge-golem fox thingummy, God only knows where Ace was, Jacob and Luna took off to spend the day in the woods, and Calamity…

                            I’m not sure what exactly has been going on with Calamity lately. She seemed to be in sort of a funk following the infamous Zima conversation at Sex Breakfast, and threw herself into her work. I found her in her office when I ventured downstairs at about 4:00. She was managing the monthly budget. Okay, there’s really nothing surprising about that; Calamity has been pretty diligent in making sure that the Dream House runs like clockwork. But she was dressed in this business-casual ensemble, with like a button-up blouse and skirt combo. I asked her what was up, and she gave me a chipper little “what do you mean?” answer. I glanced at her outfit and asked again, and again she brushed me off. I didn’t want to pry, so I gave her the old “I’m watching you” hand signal, and then left her to it.

                            So eventually I had to head backstage and start getting pretty for the show. I had two solo numbers tonight, but would be leaving the stage a little earlier than usual so that Annika could dance for the finale. As I was putting the finishing touches on my hair and makeup, D walked into the dressing area. She slipped up behind me and slid her arms around my waist, then fretted for a couple of seconds looking for a place on me she could kiss without mussing things too badly (she eventually settled on the forehead).

                            “Brightstar and Neon are in the audience,” she said with a mischievous twinkle. “Brightstar brought an overnight bag.”

                            I perked up a bit. “You don’t say,” I commented noncommittally.

                            D twinkled some more. “Thought you might want to know, in case you wanted to tweak something.”

                            I quirked an eyebrow. “You think I should go for it, if she’s willing?” I asked.

                            D leaned in and kissed my forehead again. “Hell yeah, babe,” she said. Then she lowered her voice so that only I could hear her. “Don’t worry about me, Jules, I’ll be fine. I’ll spend the night with Mags or Julia. Now go on, check and see if she’s finished falling in love with you yet…”

                            I laughed it off, then leaned in for a real kiss. So what if I’d have to reapply my lipstick? “You’re the best, lover,” I said with a smile. “Just make sure you save some of that lovin’ for me tomorrow, okay?”

                            “Count on it,” she shot back with a smile.

                            So I quickly located Brightstar and Neon in the crowd during my first solo. The song was “Like a Virgin” by an artist who calls herself Madonna. I’m led to believe that she’s one of the biggest stars from the decade or so following my abduction, and she certainly has an impressive catalogue of hits. This particular selection isn’t my favorite of her songs that I’ve heard, but it’s catchy and flirty and works well in a burlesque house setting.

                            As I was saying, I sashayed and winked and smiled and wiggled in Brightstar’s general direction throughout the song, so it consequently took me a while to notice that D was no longer seated at the girlfriend table with Julia and Stasia. I scanned the rest of the crowd – noted that Madame Spidertoes was there, as well as Joan and Andromeda – but couldn’t find her anywhere. It’s not like her to run off without warning, so I was vaguely concerned as I took my bows and made my way into the crowd.

                            I sat next to Julia as the next act began. “Did you see where D ran off to?” I asked, trying not to sound nervous.

                            Julia nodded. “She got a text from Desiree. Gloria got involved in a fight at a local bar. De la Rocha went off to help her out.”

                            I breathed a sigh of relief. “Okay, then… she’s probably having the time of her life. Still…” I pulled out my phone and hit the speed dial. One ring… two rings… a click and a soft chime indicating that a text had come in. It was from D. CANT TALK NOW. WILL CALL L8R.

                            I texted back immediately: U-OK colon-hyphen-slash?

                            A few seconds later: YEAH. WILL B BACK.

                            I took that to mean that she was not in any danger and that she intended to return to the Dream House that evening, and I let it drop. If D had gotten involved in a bar fight on Gloria’s behalf, then she was probably having fun. As I intended to spend my evening in Brightstar’s company if possible, I saw no reason to prevent her from hooking up with Gloria if that was what she wanted. See how mature and accepting I’ve become?

                            I stopped by Joan and Andromeda’s table next, and the three of us had a lovely conversation. Both of them inquired as to my schedule, and I intimated that I might be free next Tuesday evening. Joan’s eyes lit up. “Perhaps you would care to join us for dinner and…” she began.

                            “I’m wise to your tricks,” I told her with a wink. “I don’t think you’re really trying to fix that darn VCR at all. I think you’re luring me into your home under false pretenses.”

                            Both of them chuckled, and allowed as how that might be the case. With that out of the way, we chatted for a bit about this and that. One thing that came up was the fact that it’s less than two weeks until Christmas, and I haven’t even begun shopping for gifts yet. I should really get on that.

                            I made my way up to Neon and Brightstar’s table next. After exchanging pleasantries for a few minutes, Brightstar gave me a little smile. “So…” she said shyly, “I’ve heard that you occasionally give… private tours of the rest of the House?” She was nervous and blushing and it was soooo cute.

                            “It’s been known to happen,” I said with a wink.

                            Neon glanced between us, sighed, and spoke up. “Brightstar,” she said softly, “would you mind heading down to the bar to get me a drink?” Brightstar agreed, and hummed softly to herself as she made her way to the bar. Jacob was still out with Luna, so one of the other bartenders took her order.

                            Neon threw me a serious look. “Lori,” she began softly, “what are your intentions with Brightstar?”

                            I shrugged. “I thought we’d hang out, have some fun, and see where the evening goes,” I said as honestly as I could.

                            She nodded. “I just don’t want to see her get hurt,” she explained. “Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think you’d hurt her on purpose, but… she’s very enthusiastic, and she gets invested in things quickly. This is the third day in a row she’s come to see you. I just want you to be aware of that, if this is just a fling for you.”

                            I took her hand in my own. “Neon,” I said, “the last thing I want is for anybody to get hurt. I’m… well, I’m probably in the last days of a relationship that failed for almost exactly the reasons your describing, and I don’t want to see it happen again.”

                            “I’m sorry,” she said earnestly. “I didn’t know about your other… girlfriend? Boyfriend?”

                            I smiled. “Girlfriend,” I said, and then after a moment, “Rowan. I enjoy the company of both genders on a sexual level, but for some reason I only seem to fall in love with other women. In any case, Rowan is a truly good person… a lot like Brightstar, actually. She… couldn’t deal with it when D and I got engaged. It hurt her, and even while I’m as happy as I’ve ever been before, that fact is tearing me up a little. I don’t want that to happen again. I want us both to walk into this thing with eyes open.”

                            She nodded. “I suppose that’s all I can ask. People get hurt when they fall in love, and I’m told it’s nobody’s fault.” She paused and thought for a moment. “Not that I’m saying she’s falling in love with you. Not yet, anyway. But then again, I’m not sure I’d recognize it if I saw it.”

                            I was perplexed. “What do you mean?” I asked.

                            “I mean that I’ve heard the sensation described before, but I’ve never actually felt it myself.”

                            That was about the saddest thing I’d ever heard, and it left me speechless for a few moments.

                            “It sounds nice,” Neon continued when I didn’t say anything after a couple of seconds.

                            “It’s… the best feeling there is,” I said emphatically.

                            “Oh,” she said simply, her face a little wistful. “I don’t suppose… I mean… do you know any contracts or anything that would allow me to… maybe… experience your memories of falling in love, or something? I’d… I’d like to know what it feels like.”

                            I thought about it for a second… and then I remembered what my second number was going to be, and the answer was simple. “It’s not a contract, exactly,” I said, “but make sure you’re paying attention when I perform again later tonight. I think it will have the desired result.”

                            It’s apparently not a very common gift, from what I’ve heard. I spent a lot of time in Arcadia attempting to elicit a single emotion from the Empress, in order to win my freedom. Apparently mortals and changelings are easier nuts to crack, because I’ve found that by infusing my performances with a modicum of glamour I can sort of prod them into feeling an emotion appropriate to the song (or dance, or scene, or whatever). It’s not something I do very often… usually I reserve it for when we have particularly puissant guests at the Dream House who prefer a given “flavor” of glamour. But I saw the chance to do something good for a new friend, and I’ll be damned if I was going to let it slip away.

                            “Flying High” is probably my favorite track by Jemma Griffiths, the Welsh singer who goes by the name “Jem.” It’s not one of her more popular songs – it was never even released as a single to my knowledge – but the simple acoustic guitar backing and the sheer earnestness of the singer’s message appeals to me on a variety of levels. Aaaand I don’t suppose it hurts that the song compares the experience of falling in love with the exhilaration of flight.

                            “It’s so strange the way our paths have crossed, how we were brought together… it’s written in the stars it seems,” I sang, pouring everything I had into the performance. That line always makes me think of D, and her theory that the two of us would have found each other even if neither of us had ever been Taken, and I let my joy at that notion show in my eyes. And honestly, even the parts of the song that refer to the romance in question as doomed to failure are hopeful and optimistic, as the singer revels in the way she feels at that moment, choosing to leave the traps and pitfalls of the future for another day.

                            I glanced up at Neon as I finished the song, and I think it worked. She looked stunned.

                            As I left the stage for the final time that evening – God forbid I should distract our audience from Annika – I made my way to Madame Spidertoes’ table. She greeted me with a smile. “Lorelei, my dear,” she said softly, “you were enchanting as always. And please allow me to offer you my congratulations as well.” She nodded at my ring.

                            “Thank you, Madame,” I said in response. “It means a lot to me. I know you and D still have very strong feelings for each other, and I just wanted…”

                            She held up her hand to stop me before I got too far. “You two,” she said to Moon and Dionysia, “please get me another drink.” They scurried off as quickly as they could, leaving the two of us with relative privacy. “Pray continue,” she said when they had gone, with maybe a little tension in her voice.

                            I held my hands up to placate her. “I’m not here to upset you, Madame,” I said. “I just wanted to assure you that I will do everything in my power to make her happy, and to be worthy of her.”

                            After a moment she gave me a sad smile. “You do make her happy, Lorelei,” she said softly, “as I never could. As for your statement, I would expect nothing less from you, but I thank you for your words nonetheless. And, for…. for allowing the two of us to have that evening last week. It was kind of you.”

                            I shook my head. “I’m only sorry I stood in the way of it for so long. As I’ve said before, her feelings for you are so powerful that I was… threatened. And now… there’s something I’d like to ask you, if you don’t mind.”

                            She quirked her head to one side, which I took as an invitation to continue.

                            I took a deep breath. “I know you’ll be watching to make sure she’s happy. All I ask is that if you ever feel that I’m not living up to what she deserves from me… please tell me. I swear I’ll do better. I only want what’s best for D. Always.”

                            She smiled at me then, and patted my hand fondly. “I promise,” she said softly, and then her eyes brightened as she looked at someone behind me. “Maria,” she said as the newcomer approached. I keep forgetting that we can call her that publicly now.

                            D smirked. “Gladys,” she said with a touch of humor in her voice.

                            I stood up, turned around, and allowed myself to be swept into an embrace. “You okay, D?” I asked breathlessly.

                            “I’m fine, babe,” she shot back carelessly. “Just a little barroom brawl; nothing I couldn’t handle.” She looked ecstatic.

                            We said goodbye to Madame Spidertoes (Moon and Dionysia took this as their cue to return to the table) and I pulled D aside for a moment. “So what happened?” I asked.

                            She then launched into a blow-by-blow account of her evening, which apparently involved her and TJ hitting each other with pool tables and bathroom fixtures. That’s right, I said TJ. Apparently the bar in question was next door to the Rose & Thorn, and a few of the local changelings took an interest in the fracas. But she said that the two of them are okay now, both socially and physically (thanks to Desiree). I guess they worked it out of their system.

                            I tried to be disapproving… but she was so damned happy that it was hard to maintain a stern demeanor. I finally cracked and snorted out some (very ladylike) laughter when she held up her fist and asked me if I’d eat a piece of bread after she rubbed said fist against it and tell her if it tasted like a ham sandwich. I declined her offer.

                            D was giving me a look that made my knees go all wobbly, and as we walked across the room she sort of growled out a question. “You wanna blow this scene, babe?”

                            I put my hand on her shoulder and gave her an apologetic look. “I’d like nothing more,” I said as she turned to look at me, “but, well… Brightstar has asked for a ‘tour’ of the house, and…”

                            D chuckled, and didn’t seem even a little bit mad. “That has got to be the worst euphemism ever,” she commented lightly.

                            “You’re not too disappointed?” I asked anxiously. “You’ll be okay with Marguerite and…” I glanced across the room and noted that Julia seemed to be following Stasia toward the stairs. “You’ll be okay with Marguerite?” I asked.

                            D winked. “She won’t know what hit her,” she said with a twinkle.

                            I gave her a deep kiss, to occasional cat-calls from those around us. “Save some of that for tomorrow,” I said with some heat.

                            “Count on it,” my love replied breathlessly.

                            The two of us made our way to Neon and Brightstar’s table and took the proffered seats. “Raincheck?” Brightstar asked glumly with a glance at D.

                            I chuckled. “Nah… that was just me claiming a goodnight kiss from my fiancée here.”

                            “So… we’re still on for that tour?” she asked with a hopeful glance at D.

                            D nodded. “Knock yourselves out. Just bring her back to me in one piece, okay?”

                            Brightstar gave her a smile that could (literally) light up a room. “Deal,” she said.

                            D turned her attention to our other guest. “How about you, Neon? You up for a tour tonight?”

                            Neon sort of started a little, like she hadn’t really been paying attention to the conversation, and then shook her head. “Not… not tonight,” she said haltingly. “I… I have some things I need to… to think about.” She turned to look me in the eye, and I could tell that something – presumably my song – had deeply moved her. “I should be going. Thank you,” she said.

                            “Any time,” I replied, taking her hand as she said her goodbyes.

                            Things wound down after that. I could tell that Brightstar was looking forward to our evening together as much as I was, so as soon as I had steered D toward Marguerite, the two of us made our way upstairs. As per usual, I’ll refrain from describing the events of the night, beyond stating that Brightstar is a very enthusiastic and energetic lover. Even with the advantage of my Spring Court contracts, it was difficult for me to wear her out.

                            So the two of us bounced down to Sex Breakfast late this morning, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Everyone seems to have enjoyed their evening with the possible exception of Calamity, who seemed a tad grumpy… possibly because her beau spent the whole evening hammering some fox at his forge instead of with her (ha! Puns!). D looked particularly pleased with herself when she strutted in about fifteen minutes later… poor Marguerite could hardly walk, and kept sliding out of her chair at the table.

                            (Note to self: I may not want D to get into fights, but I should probably take advantage of her mood the next time it inevitably happens anyway.)

                            After we had eaten, Brightstar pulled out her phone. “I should probably call Neon to come pick me up,” she said by way of explanation.

                            “No need to put her to the trouble,” I said quickly, “I’ll be glad to take you home.”

                            She rolled her eyes. “We don’t live that far away, Lori,” she replied.

                            D raised an eyebrow. “Brightstar,” she asked patiently, “do you know what kind of car Lori drives?” Brightstar shook her head, and D grinned. “You should definitely let Lori drive you home,” she opined.

                            So half an hour later Brightstar and I were barreling down the Pacific Coast Highway with the top down, both of us belting out Tom Petty’s “American Girl” at the top of our lungs. I had my wings stretched out behind me, she had her hair loose, and we were both smiling so hard that I was afraid our faces would split in half. It was a nice drive.

                            We also had “the talk” on the way back to her place. I think we’re going to keep seeing each other, at least on a provisional basis to see if we have relationship potential. Brightstar seems to be okay with my poly lifestyle; she doesn’t really seem to be the jealous type. She can be surprisingly insecure for someone who’s usually so upbeat and confident, though. She told me about a guy she used to see who denied there was anything between the two of them whenever anyone asked, and wanted to make sure that I wouldn’t act that way.

                            I chuckled. “Don’t worry, sweetie, I’m not in the habit of denying my girlfriends. If you tell anyone in the Lady by the Sea Freehold that you’re involved with me, most likely they’ll just high-five you or something.” I thought about that a second and wrinkled my brow in what I hoped was an endearing manner. “Sorry, that sounded awfully conceited, didn’t it?”

                            She laughed, which broke the tension a little bit. “So,” she started again after a moment, “where are we now? Something more than ‘friends with benefits’ but less than ‘full-on girlfriends?’”

                            “I’m fine with that if you are,” I agreed. “Look, there is one other thing we should probably discuss. You know I’m pretty deeply involved with four other girls, right? Well, something that came up when I started seeing Rowan is that this actually spreads my schedule pretty thin. I can’t spend a lot of time with any of my girlfriends without neglecting the others. So I’m not going to be able to see you every day or anything like that…”

                            Brightstar nodded. “Okay. I think I can be content with seeing you once or twice a week. At least for now.”

                            She was eventually able to direct me to the apartment she shares with Neon. It reminded me a bit of D’s old place, actually… most of the walls were covered with posters. There were movie posters, band posters, and even those little flier things you see advertising concerts all over the place. The furnishings were a study in bohemian disarray, comfortable and yet not overly planned. I thought it suited her well.

                            Neon met us at the door, and the little half-conversation she had with Brightstar was positively cute. “Are you…” “Yes.” “Did you?” “Yes.” “Did she?” “No.” You know how it goes.

                            Once they stopped communicating mind-to-mind, I took up the thread of the conversation. “Neon,” I said, “we had the serious talk on the way home. We’re going to take it slowly and see what happens. After what happened between me and Rowan, the last thing I want is for anyone to get hurt, so we’re both being very open and honest about where we think this is going. We’re both entering into this with eyes open, like I said last night. Satisfied?”

                            She gave me a vaguely amused smile. “Yes. For now,” she said. I think she was joking. Y’know, mostly.

                            Anyway, I managed to wring another goodbye kiss out of Brightstar when she walked me out to my car. We’ve made tentative plans for her to join us for movie night on Monday, though I don’t know what we’ll be watching. Neon is invited as well, and she asked almost eagerly if we had yet seen The Matrix. I informed her that we had, and she seemed a little disappointed. I mentioned that we had not yet watched the sequels, and she opined that this was a state of affairs which should continue.

                            In any case, there’s not much more to tell about my day. I drove back to the Dream House to find things much as I had left them. I was mildly disturbed to find a note on the white-board by Calamity’s office, stating that she and Jacob had gone off into the Hedge to hunt something-or-other (honestly, I don’t think they knew what they were hunting… it seemed like more of a first-come, first-killed deal), but I figured they could probably handle anything they ran across as long as they stayed close to the Hedge House. Oh, I still have a healthy respect for the Hedge and the creatures it contains… but I also trust my motley-mates not to get in too far over their heads.

                            Julia, Marguerite, and D had retired to the attic so that Julia could paint, and I joined them up there when I returned. Now the interesting thing is that Julia is using D as a model this time. She seems to be painting D as some sort of superhero (which is not far from the truth, now that I think about it). In the painting, D’s lifting a car up over her head, but in reality my honey is just lifting a few crates for reference.

                            Oh, and she’s naked. And starting to sweat. Not that I can blame her, of course… my it’s gotten hot in here.

                            Excuse me. I feel the need to tackle my beloved.

                            Lorelei Grace


                            Calamity’s Little Black Book

                            Saturday, December 13th
                            Nine years, six months, nine days
                            Days without stabbing: 9

                            God fucking dammit! Why does love make people so gorram stupid? I guess there’s more of Kat left in me than I realized because Lords above and below know I’ve certainly been acting like a fucking love-struck thirteen-year-old lately. And apparently Stasia’s the ONLY one that hasn’t picked up on it. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I mean, we talked about this shit. We agreed that it would be ab-so-fucking-lutly bad for us to try to rekindle the romantic interest we were starting to develop. It was a long time ago and we were different and there would be a fucking metric shit ton of baggage to deal with. Not to even touch on the fact that I am in not one but two relationships. We talked and we agreed that trying to be more than friends would be a huge mistake.

                            And here I am about to make it. Because I am in love with her. Because despite everything that can (and fucking will) go wrong if I do this I can’t lie to her. I can’t pretend I’m not jealous of Julia for being the one she took to her bed last night instead of me. Insincere Marguerite is right, I have to tell her the truth.

                            Man, looking back on yesterday now it’s so fucking obvious. The way I freaked out over Stasia forgetting the Zima at breakfast and then went and dolled myself up. Jesus Fucking Christ I put on a damn skirt and makeup to do paperwork in the office yesterday afternoon. And it’s not like she even noticed. Though Lori sure did and she didn’t buy my claims that nothing was up for a second even though she did end up letting it drop after a bit.

                            And yeah, I wasn’t just putting everything into my number to impress Annika at the show. At least I didn’t do anything embarrassing like swap out for something saccharine and lovely dovey at the last minute. I mean, my usual stage image isn’t really what does it for Stasia. She’s more into pretty and femme. And Julia was certainly that last night in her purple Belle dress. Not that I can’t fucking do slow and soft and sweet… but it just doesn’t suit the stage presence I’ve put together.

                            And despite what Neon seems to think about how my image is “what they expect from me” (whatever exactly that even fucking means). I mean, yeah maybe my whole dominatrix theme IS the kind of thing one expects from someone with my reputation but I do it because that’s who I fucking am and it’s what I fucking like, not because it’s expected of me, no matter what that bitter little light fixture thinks. Gah, I shouldn’t be letting her comments get under my skin but I am just so fucking off kilter right now.

                            Anyway, once I was done having my lifestyle choices criticized I got on the task of my usual rounds. Spidertoes was there with Moon and Dionysia so I made sure to visit their table. Seems she was curious about speaking to one of the Director’s former loyalists about how best to leverage his other agents still in Hollywood. And we have two to choose from so she was asking my opinion of which would be the better choice to approach. I tried not to let my personal dislike of La Blue Girl color my answer but despite Juan Carlos’ giving her a clean bill of mental health from the programming I don’t trust that fucking cunt and said as much. Of course, Desiree has said she wouldn’t work directly against the Director and Spidertoes did bring that up. I explained about how he’d swooped in to rescue her from a terrible place. I did add my own thoughts that he intentionally chooses people in dire circumstances for that very reason. But given the work Gawain and I have done to help her regain her self confidence I think she might be willing to help. I am going to speak to her about my belief that his rescue was just another part of him twisting and manipulating her. And if she’s not willing to help them, then I guess they’ll have to settle for fucking Smurfette.

                            And from there I joined Joan and Andromeda. Those two were looking so good and so happy together. I started chatting with them and I pointed out Stasia to them (something I’ll admit I rather intentionally did not do with Spidertoes) and Andromeda quite quickly perked up about my ‘human girlfriend’. And the more I tired to explain or dismiss, the more she just seemed convinced. And as this was going on Lori took to the stage for her second number.

                            I don’t know why she decided to pump her glamour into Flying High but she did and so as she sang about falling in love everyone felt it. And I found myself gazing at Anastasia as the words of that song did their magic. It wasn’t Gawain and Becky that came to me. It was that night. It was sitting there next to her with that purloined Zima, feeling the thrill of something forbidden. And the talk of kissing, both of us claiming to have no idea why everyone seemed to think it was such a big deal. Stasia suggesting, with such practiced casualness that maybe we should try it and see. We were already doing something we shouldn’t have been. And being tipsy made us brave and gave us an excuse. As the song flowed through me I was there again. The pair of us leaning in slowly. Stasia reaching to brush a wisp of my hair from my face and tuck it behind my ear. Her hand lingering and drifting slowly to my neck as we inched closer. It wasn’t a good kiss but it was the best kiss ever. Our lips touched and we just sat there, holding each other for the longest few seconds. I was acutely aware of her fingers on my neck, of the way my thigh and hers were pressed against each other, of the feel of her arm under my own fingers, of every electric point of contact between us. Then we leaned back and our eyes met and there was nothing else in all of existence but those eyes and I was lost in them forever until we both looked away and giggled nervously and tried to pretend that nothing had happened. In the few moments of Lori’s singing all of that came back to me and by the time she left the stage I slumped and fought back tears. That was when my behavior the past day suddenly hit me and made sense.

                            The rest of the night was kinda blurry. I did approach Stasia but she’d already made her plans with Julia and so I just watched her saunter off and lead another woman away with a trail of Hersey’s kisses and felt an ache because I wanted to be the one following her. And that’s when Insincere Marguerite found me and we talked. I didn’t bother trying to hide what I was feeling from her and she told me that I needed to talk to Stasia about my feelings. I agreed. She did try to linger and talk a bit to be sure I was okay (or at least to make sure I wasn’t going to do anything stupid) but I assured her I was fine and sent her off to D who was more than a little hot to trot after her bar fight with TJ earlier in the evening.

                            At that point, everyone was paired off except me. I did consider going to lure Gawain away from the workshop but it felt wrong to seek out his comfort when the whole reason I was feeling needy was that Stasia was with Julia. I may be a fucking monster but I just wasn’t going to use him like that. So I gathered up the stray broken glass from the bar, settled into the office, put Making Christmas on, and started shaping the beads and etching the designs inside them to make the vessels I’m going to put everyone’s dreams into. It was actually pretty calming to just soothe and smooth the broken glass, to give it form and shape and make it whole again.

                            I ended up worked on them until I heard the first stirrings of the others. I slipped my work into a drawer before anyone came down. I’ve got more than enough for all the dreams I’m giving as Christmas gifts though I do need to make sure to get busy if I’m going to finish all the ones I want to get done. Also, I probably should ask Andromeda about it since she is Jewish and I don’t want to offend her. Or maybe Joan. I imagine she’d know how her fiance feels about getting Christmas gifts.

                            Well, at any rate, Handsome is working on breakfast. It’s time for me to gird my loins and buttonhole Stasia to tell her how I feel. This is such a bad idea. I should just ignore this. I know now and thus I can keep myself from acting like a fool again like I did yesterday. I’m happy. She’s back in my life and she’s happy. Gawain and Becky are amazing and I love them. I do.

                            The smart thing would be to not say anything. To just move forward with everything like we talked about.

                            But love makes you stupid.

                            And Zod help me, I am in love with her.


                            Jacob’s Journal

                            This afternoon was just plain fun. I had talked to Luna about her job and asked her if she needed to see to that so she didn’t lose her employment. I know that she’s been spending a lot of time with me lately, and while I appreciate that more than words can say, I don’t want her to get in trouble because of me. So, I asked, and she admitted that she should probably go back today and do some patrols in the state forest for poachers. I asked if I could come along. I figured that she’s been doing so much for me that I should return the favor and be there for her. So, we went to the forest and made our sweep. After a short while we did find a group of poachers. They were taking down deer out of season, so we decided to teach them a lesson. First we backtracked their trail to their jeep and disabled the vehicle. It wasn’t hard to do. You can’t get very far without spark plug wires. After that we split up and followed the poachers through the woods. We made sounds like they were being followed by a predator and they started to run back the way they had come. Together we managed to get them to run in all kinds of directions before finally letting them get back to their disabled jeep. It really was a lot of fun to harry the witless wonders throughout the forest. In the end they were convinced that the forest creatures were out to get them and they seemed to agree that they were never coming back. That was fine by us.

                            I will admit that harassing the poachers reminded me a lot of my time as Rime. Granted, in this case I was chasing after people that were committing criminal acts, but it was still familiar. I couldn’t help but remember times that I would chase someone that had escaped from the Lady into the Hedge and I would follow them. I would chase them and scare them until they either turned around to fight, or fled back to the Lady’s realm. Most fled back to the Lady, believing that the Hedge was more dangerous than the place they were familiar with, so they went back to what was familiar. The few that turned to fight usually fell to my blades. There was a couple of people that managed to get away entirely. I fought them and they managed to beat me. On one occasion the escapee, a large yet fast man, was able to get a few lucky strikes in and knocked me out. I woke later and made my way back to the Lady to report what had happened. To say that she was unhappy was an understatement, and I was rightfully punished for my failure to recapture the escapee. I was never able to find that man again. I did not know where he had fled to, and could therefore not retrieve him. Some of the others that initially got away from me while in the Hedge, I was able to track and find where they went. Some I was able to bring back to the Lady. Rook did not have a perfect record either. Some managed to get away from him, or beat him in a fight. We are none of us perfect and the Lady mostly understood that. Sometimes I think she went a bit too far in her discipline, but at the time I was loyal to her and thought that she was in the right to punish me as she saw fit.

                            After we got back from chasing the poachers out of the forest we went back to Luna’s house. I like her place. It’s in the middle of the forest, away from the city and from other people. It is very peaceful and quiet. I’ll admit that is one of the things I like so much about Luna. We don’t always need to be talking to one another. Sometimes we just sit together in the silence. It is a comfortable quiet where we just enjoy each other’s company. Her house is very much like that as well. It is a quiet place, but very comfortable all the same. I think some of the others might not like her house as much as I do. Some of them, like Lori, are very much social creatures and seem to enjoy being around other people a lot. I do not think that they would enjoy the quiet in the forest as much as Luna and I do. I do believe that some of them would appreciate the quiet though. Gawain comes to mind as someone that might enjoy being alone for periods of time. I don’t know if he would like being so far from his forge though. I know how much he enjoys creating new things.

                            **** **** ****

                            Apparently, Luna and I missed a bit of excitement last night. During the show De La Rocha got a text from Desiree requesting help at a bar, and the Latina went to go and do just that. Gloria found herself in a fight and wanted some back-up, so Desiree got in contact with the person she thought would be most interested. De La Rocha is always willing to get into a fight so it all worked out well. It seems that the fight broke out in another bar, and T.J just happened to be there as well. The fight started and soon encompassed a good number of the people there. It ended up being De La Rocha and T. J fighting one another, and it soon became epic. Apparently, there were appliances involved. They each grabbed one and proceeded to try and beat the snot out of each other with kitchen or bathroom fixtures. I think a sink was involved. I missed some of the details, but it was obvious that De La Rocha had a great time and really enjoyed herself. After it was over Desiree managed to heal everyone involved. Gloria had gotten knocked out by T.J and both him and De La Rocha had injuries that needed attending. De La Rocha coming back to the Dream House after it was all over and being with her fiancée and two other girlfriends was probably just the icing on the cake, so to speak.

                            After the description of the epic appliance fight conversation turned to how Brightstar was going to get home. It seems she stayed the night with Lori. Brightstar offered to get someone to pick her up, but Lori insisted that she could drive her back. I think it was decided that Lorelei would drive her after it was revealed what kind of car my motley mate has. The corvette won the day.

                            People split up after breakfast. Calamity and Stasia went off to talk, Luna went back to work, Gawain went to go work in the forge on his fox and Lori was taking that drive with Brightstar. I decided to go to the backyard to just practice with my knives. I started out going through the attacks and defenses for my old style and moved onto the new style that I’ve been learning from Luna and Calamity. I’m not sure how much time passed, but soon enough Calamity came outside to join me. She, like me, was in a mood to actually fight not spar, so we went all out. She was definitely keeping me on my toes today, that’s for sure. I like to think that I was doing the same for her. We both left cuts on each other’s skin to remind us where our weak spots were. After a while we stopped sparing and took a break. Calamity was becoming increasingly distracted and I didn’t want to hurt her too badly if she became preoccupied at the wrong moment. So, we stopped to talk.

                            It turns out that Calamity really needed to vent. She’d had a talk with Stasia earlier and it apparently did not go as well as she was hoping it would. Calamity it seems still has feelings for her childhood friend, but Stasia does not reciprocate. It is of course more complicated than that. Stasia explained that all of her romantic relationships have ended very badly. And she meant very badly. So now whenever she is friends with someone and it starts to move from friendship to love she ends things with that person. Calamity did not want things to end between her and her friend, so I think she agreed to try and put a damper on her more romantic feelings. Calamity was frustrated and even Stasia seemed, according to Calamity, a bit upset by the revelation. So, that led to Calamity fighting all out during our sparring match.

                            It was obvious that Calamity wanted to actually fight something so I admitted to her that I was in the same mood. I told her that it’s been a while since I’ve actually been in an all out fight and that I missed it. She admitted to me that she really wanted to draw blood. I also told her about me and Luna harassing the poachers yesterday and how it reminded me of my work as Rime. This time it was against criminals, but it was still reminiscent of my past activities. I think that was also a contributing factor to me just wanting to get out and fight something or someone. My thoughts went to Rook, which just made me upset and angry all over again. Calamity understood. We talked a bit about our desire to truly let loose on something or someone and how it was a good thing that the others don’t understand that desire. I mean, how do you explain to someone that the thing you want to do most in that moment is to draw blood and feel it running over your hands. I don’t have to explain that to Calamity. She feels the same way that I do.

                            So, I came up with the idea of going into the Hedge and specifically looking for a fight. We both knew how to use Contracts to avoid trouble, and it seemed obvious that we could use those same powers to move towards trouble. Now, we weren’t going to be completely irresponsible. We wanted to let the others know where we’d gone just in case we didn’t come back. We just didn’t want the others to stop us from going into the Hedge. So, we decided to write a note on the white board in the kitchen letting folks know where we’d gone off to. I thought it was an efficient way to inform our friends without having to worry about them trying to stop us. I’m not sure the others would understand our need or desire to get into a real fight, and they would try and stop us to keep us safe. The thing is, I didn’t want to be safe. I wanted to put myself in danger. I didn’t particularly want to die, but I also didn’t have a problem with coming out of this whole thing injured. I am used to coming away from fights covered in blood, both mine and someone else’s. So, I was okay with coming back from this adventure bleeding. That whole mindset might not be the most healthy, but then I suppose I am going to therapy for a reason…


                            Insincere Marguerite’s Whispers

                            Just a brief entry today.

                            Nothing much to report the past several days. I spoke to my lovers about Felicity, but I am still undecided. I feel like I am taking good care of all three of them now, but Felicity will be a big draw on time, and not really part of the group. I doubt she and Julia will ever be truly close. But I feel like something between us is inevitable. The attraction is not something I can easily ignore. Nor her. I suspect whatever happens with Felicity I will spend a lot of time wondering what if I went the other way.

                            Julia is blossoming. She seems more beautiful every day. Her muse has spoken to her loudly and she spends hours painting every day. Painting rapidly sometimes in a frenzy, sketching, painting just a burst of creative energy. She is very happy. Been some chemistry with Stasia, and they spent last night together…Stasia lured her away with almond chocolate kisses. Julia is not in love with her, but she enjoys the attention. It is pleasing to see her doing so well. I think she is better mentally balanced than she has been since we met.

                            Juliette is doing well, though worried about Rowan. Rowan took her engagement badly. She has been away, with Felicity keeping an eye on her. I think Juliette has come to terms with the end of the relationship, though it has not happened yet. Otherwise, she is great; a blossoming romance with Brightstar, who has sought her out each night and last night wanted to spend the night with her. I gathered things went well there. The Weddings may be on Juliette’s mind as much as Julia’s. It is good to see her so happy.

                            Maria is doing fairly well too. I spent last night with her and she was vigorously excited from a fight in a pool club she had. She was perhaps a little less careful with I than she should have been but it was a lot of fun. It did take a bit before all my limbs quite remained where they should be the next morning. The fight involved Gloria, but apparently she did not stay with her. Maria seems to like Neon a good deal, though no sign of them hooking up. I am very happy to have her mischievous smile around the house.

                            Of the others, Gawain is doing well; I believe Juliette said he was hammering the fox. A golem. She found this amusing. I am unsure why. He and Calamity have been helping Desiree, which I appreciate. Calamity had been doing extremely well, but has begun to get jealous of Stasia’s interest in other women. Unsure what triggered it, but Stasia and Julia flirt a lot. I advised she talk to Stasia about it. I hope this forestalls problems. Jacob has been quiet even for Jacob. He lies and says all is well. Elementals. He spent last night with Luna, which is good. Luna seems tired. She is working to take care of Jacob. I hope he appreciates her. Luna is getting more and more comfortable with us. We might be able to make her membership formal soon.

                            Stasia has gotten along well with people. My family and I spent the other night with her, which was fun. Julia was with her last night, as I say, but that may have triggered some jealousy with Calamity. I am mildly worried about Stasia; Calamity does not tend to act in ways that are well thought out, and will inflict untold misery if she thinks it is the best thing to do; she has a very, very suspect idea of the best thing to do. I don’t think she will do something crazy with Stasia, but she has proven does not always matter to her.
                            It was good to see the Court again. I remembered Corvus and Corbin. I had not met Strype but she had heard of I. She still wants to hook up. I got her off at the club, but I think she wants more than that. Obviously. Maybe it will happen. Brightstar and Neon get on well with our Motley, the family especially, and The Grue seems to be fun as well, talking about his times bouncing at what turned out to be a vampire strip club. I know his name is Howard, Strype is Della, and Neon is Electra; they call each other that. The others seem to use their new names even within the group. Strangely.

                            Desiree and Gloria are good. Sharing an apartment, and Desiree seems to be rehabilitating in the hold a bit. Calamity and Gawain are taking care of her issues, which is good. Absolutely.

                            So mostly, all is well. I am a bit concerned about Calamity doing something unexpected about Stasia, and a bit worried about Jacob bottling up his emotions. Being both male and Russian I could expect nothing less. Bottle it up, die of liver failure. Only other thing is Rowan, but I am pretty sure long term she will be okay. When she is better I might check in on her; that would ruin my reputation wouldn’t it. Definitely.

                            But right now Maria is doing some nude modeling for a portrait of her lifting a car over her head. Why she has to be nude I am not sure, but Julia says it is “Justified Artistically” whatever that means. Juliette is here too, just got back from taking Brightstar home. She is flaunting the hands off the model policy. Looking at my family here, I think I am in a pretty good place. And a good way to spend the afternoon.

                            I believe I’ll have another slice of cheese. Yes.

                            End Session LXXX


                            So, things get a touch hairy at the end there in terms of what happened, but a long conversation involving Calamity happened after the end of that journal. She said she was in love with Stasia and Stasia was very upset, given she had within the past couple days worked everything out so everything was fine and were not going to date. She was, to put it mildly, upset. And Calamity was upset and hurt back. It was a long argument.

                            Beyond that, Jacob’s hunt was played out with a few rolls and lot of very general description. Lorelei used Enchanting Performance merit to cause love in the audience after her conversation with Neon.

                            I think that covers it, comments and questions welcome


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                            • So, does Neon identify as aromantic or demiromantic? Or has just no one has caught her interest yet?


                              A god is just a monster you kneel to. - ArcaneArts, Quoting "Fall of Gods"

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                              • Originally posted by Master Aquatosic View Post
                                So, does Neon identify as aromantic or demiromantic? Or has just no one has caught her interest yet?
                                I think the fact that she was in such a grim and dour durance has left her more than a little jaded towards people in general, so love and romance is kind of far from her line of thinking.

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