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The adventures and misadventures of Jay Capistrano.

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Samiyah Zayn
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Post by Samiyah Zayn » Sat Nov 24, 2018 7:33 pm

October 3, 2018
Old Market, Rhydin

Autumn colored leaves that looked so flashy under blue skies were dulled by the gray day and sheen of rain that covered them. The clouds were only spitting now but they hung overhead threatening more showers or, at the very least, a gloomy afternoon. Wood smoke clung in the air, curling over the shops and residences of Old Market.

Battered gray fleece lined hiking boots avoided the puddles that dotted the sidewalks with varying levels of efficiency and care. Sami kept her hands in the pockets of her charcoal-colored down vest. A navy blue ball cap tugged down deep hid much of her features and was so worn by age that whatever business it advertised at one time was no longer apparent. Her dark ponytail swung from above the hat's strap.

Old Market was becoming a hotbed of gentrification. A shop half falling down beneath the weight of its roof advertising themselves as some suspect goods seller would be right beside a classy new boutique that had spilled over from New Haven. As housing prices in New Haven became increasingly ridiculous, the people of RhyDin started thinking it might be charming to have a piece of its history.

Radical Ray's Coffeehouse had fully embraced that charm when they had opened a decade before, converting an abandoned old bicycle shop into a pulsing center of overpriced coffee, hipsters, and the occasional open mike for poetry readings and struggling indie artists. The words ‘Porter Brother Bicycles’ was still barely visible painted across the front entrance and several antique bikes left behind after Porter Brother Bicycles closed now were situated on the walls.

Sami opened the door to the tinkling of the bell on the door that had remained from the Porter Brothers as well. The tables were a third full and the coffee bar was doing swift business despite the fact it was in the middle of a workday.

For now Sami didn’t approach the coffee bar. Instead she took a step deeper in, scanning the tables. Perhaps it would seem silly to be looking for a particular face in a crowd when that face had the ability of changing to be whatever it wanted but Sami was certain that when she saw it, she would know.

There were a pair of men in suits frowning over a tablet that they were looking over. She met the eyes of a man with a shock of multicolored hair but he shot a sneer, putting his earbuds in and returning his attention to the textbook on his table. There was a particularly looking exhausted woman with a sleeping baby in a stroller beside her table.

Then an older woman sitting at the table alone lifted her gaze and then Sami saw it. A flash of pink irises.

The Kumiho Shapeshifters were certainly morally relativist troublemakers but the constant string of war and strife that was blamed on them was baseless. It had left them fleeing one planet after another, dwindling in numbers along the way. One of them among all the others was easily spotted as due to an injury suffered some bit of him had to be pink at all times. Those pink irises were a dead giveaway. The little old lady sitting at the table seemed to realize it as well because she sat straighter, a frown forming on her lips.

Sami wove around the mother and the child in the stroller and passed the men consulting spreadsheets on a tablet. When she reached the little old lady’s table, she offered a brief smile as she eased to a seat at the table.

“Well, well, well, if it isn’t Marc Franco.”
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Re: Human

Post by Marc Franco » Tue Nov 27, 2018 7:53 pm

October 3, 2018
Old Market, Rhydin

“I didn’t expect Sofia or Alain to come themselves but I at least expected a Rhovnik. Instead, they sent me a soldier. One of their pets,” the little old lady said with an unhappy frown.

The words didn’t sting as much as they could have. The misery about Marc was palpable. This was the shapeshifter lashing out. “Well, I was sent, Marc. Why don’t you tell me what it is you need and I will see what I can do to help?”

The question caused the woman to flick a glance towards the other tables uneasily. Maybe she wanted to make sure no one overheard, maybe she just couldn’t find it in her to ask for help. “You are still with Jay.” It was a statement, not a question.

Sami gave an exhale and nodded, her eyes falling to the to-go cup of tea in front of the little old lady. Her gaze then darted back up to those pink eyes, reminding herself this was Marc Franco, not a toothless elderly woman. With Marc, it was always best to remain on guard. “I am. We’re still married.”

“You both have done your best to try to screw it up with all the lies that you have told to one another and everyone else. You taking his last name and then the Crew having to come up with some half-assed story about the two of you having gotten married years before took the cake though. I just want to point out that I had that story, I still have that story. I have never used it.”

Her marriage was fake. How could it be such a stinging blow so long after the fact? It wasn’t fake. It may have started that way but Jay wanted to be with her. He’d chosen to be with her. It took a moment but she found her voice. Right? Right. “I’m not sure if I should thank you or if you’re blackmailing me right now.”

The smile that the old lady gave was all Marc. It was sly and calculating. The eternal trickster. “Why is it that you have never taken a DNA test? Why have you never asked the Rhovniks what you are? Do you think they do not know?”

Sami soaked those words, her heart dropped. The noise of the coffee house died away. No one existed in that moment besides her and Marc Franco. It was as if she could see past the little old lady in front of her and see Marc in his true form. Or was the man with the riotous pink hair even his true form…?

“I am human.”

The little old lady didn’t laugh. She looked at Sami quizzically, almost sympathetically. “You cannot believe that.” Marc’s head tilted in thought. “No, what is worse is that you want it to be true. You won’t even consider the possibility that you are not human because you don’t want to not be human. All the marvelous creatures in the internexus and you are perfectly content with the thought of being human? Are you truly so terrified by the idea of not being human?”

Sami exhaled heavily, pressing her spine against the straight back of the chair. She would not let Marc make her squirm. “You did have a need for me, yes? This isn’t just a lecture on genetics?”

The little old lady’s pink eyes lingered on Sami for another moment before a nod was given to indicate that Marc was ready get to the business at hand. “You have heard of Vlahos Fever?”

“It’s a pretty vicious virus. Similar to a deadly flu outbreak. There is a Dr. Arias who has a vaccine. The Rhovnik Foundation is providing him assistance in the Trara Empire. He’s manufacturing the vaccine and treating people in country,” Sami replied. The turn of subject had her interest up. “Humans are immune to Vlahos Fever.”

“Kumiho Shapeshifters are not,” Marc replied dourly. The elderly woman’s face aged further with concern. “In fact, we are highly susceptible to it. I am keeping most of what remains of my people tucked away. It could be the end of us.”

“The end of your race?” Sami said with surprise.

The answer was obvious and Marc did not confirm it. A breath was drawn in to straighten the slope of the woman’s shoulders and Marc continued on. “We need three dozen vaccines as soon as possible.”

Three dozen. There were three dozen Kumiho Shapeshifters left. It was news that the Rhovniks would want. “The Traraian Council will not want vaccines leaving their country in this time of need.”

“Exactly why we cannot go in ourselves to get them from Dr. Arias, not to mention the risk it would be to lose even one of us. We cannot send in a third party to retrieve it for us because everyone going in and out of the portal is being thoroughly checked.”

Sami pushed the brim of her hat up a half an inch as she considered the problem. “But a Rhovnik aid worker should be able to slip in and out without an issue.”

The elderly woman’s brow creased and she frowned sternly at Sami. “A human Rhovnik aid worker would be immune to Vlahos Fever. They could slip in to get the vaccines and then leave with the Traraian Council practically giving them an escort to the portal to thank them for all the aid help they have given them.”

“I can do it,” Sami replied, instantly regretting the defensiveness in her tone.

“You are betting the survival of my people on the fact that you are human. That is not a bet I am willing to make, Sami. If you bring the fever back to my people--”

“Then I won’t deliver it,” Sami cut Marc off with a lift of a brow that encouraged him to debate that fact. “I will be in country for two days at the most. The incubation period of Vlahos Fever is two to three days. It won’t have enough time to incapacitate me. Once I am back the box carrying the vaccines can be decontaminated and we can send a human security officer to deliver it to you.”

The short woman leaned back in her chair, looking down her beak-like nose at Sami with an exasperated expression. “You are going to put yourself at risk rather than simply sending in one of your human coworkers just to prove a point?”

Sami huffed as she rose to her feet preparing to leave. “I am human, Marc. I am.”

“We shall see, Sami. We shall see.”
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Re: Human

Post by Samiyah Zayn » Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:39 am

October 6, 2018
Trara Empire, Huirus

The usually busy portal traffic at Immigration Point Geo Generate in Capital City had slowed to a trickle. The vast empty space that was usually packed full of people gave Sami pause for a moment once the feeling of roaring in her ears from passing through the portal had died away.

The ruling family of the Trara Empire was mainly human but the greater population and the Empress's Advising Council was full of a number of races. Usually this grand granite space was full of a diverse mix of races going about their travels or reuniting with loved ones just returned or waiting for business partners to come in from various internexual points. Now it was nearly empty besides a handful of human members of the Trara Empire and various internexual aid workers, including those from the Rhovnik Foundation. No one wanted to travel here with a Vlahos Fever epidemic in full swing.

“Good afternoon, Agent Capistrano,” a familiar voice greeted with teasing formality.

A smile twisted Sami’s lips up as she stepped forward, tightening the straps of her pack before reaching out to hug the approaching man. “Nesto, it’s good to see you.”

Agent Nesto Perez grinned his dimple-filled grin as he hugged her tight for a moment. “I hear I’m not allowed to put you to work.”

“Just a quick pass-through to pick up vaccines for the Kumiho Shapeshifters,” she replied as he released her. “I did bring cookies from your wife, though.”

“Cookies? They aren’t cookies. Vainillas. I can’t have my morning coffee without them,” he replied with another grin.

“You’re an overgrown child,” she teased in response before nodding for him to lead on. “Where are we going?”

A distinctive four-sided 28-hour brass clock (as the days on Huirus were slightly longer) stood over the information desk. Behind the opal glass the little brass hands pointed to it being midday given that it had not even been dawn when she’d stepped through the portal, she tried to prepare herself for the onslaught of daylight that would occur when they stepped outside.

“Dr. Arias is at Silver Gardens Hospital a couple hours drive from here,” Nesto replied as they crossed the grand station. “I would have brought the vaccines to you but security protocols won’t allow it. The panic here is very real. We’ve mostly just got security teams here. There’s no medical teams available to deploy.” His voice had become a murmur as they approached a scene that was gathering attention.

A pair of human soldiers dressed in the livery of the immigration department were towering over a young halfling mother in tears. The soldiers looked pained to be keeping her from her destination but Sami could tell the babe she had clutched to her chest was desperately ill. Another child, a toddler, clung to her hand, his bottom lip trembling. “Please,” the young woman pleaded to the soldiers. “Their father is on Dunnov for business. I just need to go to him.”

“We cannot allow you to leave,” the soldier said again.

“The hospital here is full.” She was begging, pleading for her child’s life. “We were turned away. You have to let us through to Dunnov.”

“The Githzerai of Dunnov are certain to toss them into quarantine and let them die there,” Nesto murmured as they came closer to the uncomfortable soldiers and the small family of halflings. “The mother looks ill too.”

Sami noticed the paleness of the woman’s skin and sheen of sweat gathering on her brow when Nesto said it. Without medical care, these three would surely die. She shot a quick glance to Nesto who gave a nod, understanding instantly. Their path was redirected towards the soldiers. “We’re on our way to Silver Gardens. We will take them there.”

Sami and Nesto were both wearing the navy blue fleece jackets with the Rhovnik shield emblazoned at the breast and the words Rhovnik Foundation across the back. The jackets and the similar t-shirts were known throughout the internexus, even in places where Common wasn’t spoken. The soldiers appeared relieved as they exchanged a glance. The only good option was placing the little family in the hands of Rhovnik agents.

“We don’t have the money for Silver Gardens. I heard they won’t let anyone in unless they can prove they can pay,” the woman said to Sami. Her wide brown eyes studied the two Rhovnik agents. The panic in her was palpable.

Sami kept a casual air as she dropped down to a crouch in front of the toddler, fishing a bouncy ball out of the pocket of her fleece jacket to hand over. A naturally curious race and a naturally curious age, she’d found a little gift was an easy way to win over young halflings. His bottom lip stopped trembling and he released his mother’s hand to take the ball.

“I’ll make sure the charges are covered,” Sami said in a quiet voice to the mother as she scooped the toddler up into her arms. The woman adjusted the weight of the fitfully sleeping baby in her arms, staring at Sami hopefully.

These situations were why Sami and Jay had no savings despite their comfortable incomes and their modest lifestyle. She knew it even as she made the offer, her stomach tightening up at the idea of losing a week’s salary just that quickly. But Jay would never blame her. He would have no sooner walked by the three than she would have.

“Thank you,” the woman gusted out quietly. Relief swept over her form and just the news of hope seemed to make her look a little less ill. After a moment to process that, she spoke again. “I’m Ibli and this is Jeha,” she said of herself and the sleeping baby girl.

“I am Sami. And my friend here is Nesto. He’s going to drive us to the hospital. And what is your name?” Sami asked as she rose with the toddler who was turning the ball over in his hands.

He looked up from the ball to shoot Sami a shy little smile. “My name is Zin.”

“A pleasure to meet you, Zin. Now let’s get your mom and your baby sister to the hospital where they can get well.”
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Re: Human

Post by Samiyah Zayn » Wed Dec 05, 2018 11:03 pm

October 12, 2018
The village of Clovely to the north of Rhydin proper

“Sami? Open your eyes, Sami.”

The voice was firm and familiar. The hospital bed she was lying on was not. Sami blinked, forcing her eyes open. It lasted only a brief moment before they became too heavy to keep open. After another moment she tried again and was more successful.

Dr. Mike Conescu sat on a chair beside her bed with a tablet in his hands. No doubt it contained her medical records. “Good job, Sami.”

“I’m thirsty,” she whispered hoarsely. Her entire body ached. Every single joint complained with every breath she took. Her head pounded so hard it was difficult to make sense of he surroundings.

A figure moved from one side of the room, filling a paper cup with water from a pitcher and bringing it to her. Chase Rhovnik. He offered up an apologetic smile as he handed her the cup. “You look better, Sami.”

The water was ice cold perfection. It soothed the rawness of her throat. “Thanks. Where’s Jay?”

Chase exchanged a quick look with Mike before turning his eyes back on Sami. “How much do you remember, Sami?”

***

Was it possible that the grand portal station was even emptier than it had been when she arrived?

There were only humans to be seen but few of them were even traveling. So many worlds were closing their borders with the fear that Vlahos Fever would be transported on their clothes or their personal items. Nesto had left her at the front door and she moved towards the portal, adjusting the pack on her back that was heavy with the vaccines for the Kumho Shapeshifters.

Her boot steps sounded ridiculously loud to her as she crossed towards the portal door that would take her to a waiting Rhovnik car. Her head reverberated with every step. It felt like she was walking through molasses.

The bored portal attendant tried small talk but she couldn’t find it in her to respond. Had this been how Zin’s mom had felt that day?


***

“Not much,” Sami admitted but the response of a question with a question twisted her gut. She repeated hers. “Where’s Jay?”

“I told Jay that you caught something on your last job and that you were in quarantine and that it was no big deal. I told him that you were binge watching teen dramas,” Chase replied heavily as he sunk to a seat in a nearby chair.

It was a bit troubling that the most likely tale was she was binge watching teen dramas but she was caught by the deeper issue at the moment. “Why? Why would you tell him that?”

Dr. Conescu leaned forward, placing the tablet in his lap and his forearms on his knees. “Sami, you have Vlahos Fever.”

“I can’t have Vlahos Fever. I’m human,” she protested weakly, looking between the two men.

***

“I don’t understand why I’m in quarantine for the flu,” Sami complained to the nurse taking her blood pressure.

The man lifted a brow as he removed the cuff and tossed his stethoscope over his neck. “Agent Capistrano, you have a fever of 103 and you just got back from a biological hot spot.”

“I have the flu. It happens this time of year. That biological hot spot is an outbreak of Vlahos Fever which humans are immune to. I just want to go home to my comfortable bed and drink fluids and binge watch television.” There was a whine to her voice that always crept in when she wasn’t feeling well.

“We’ll see what Dr. Conescu says,” the nurse replied as the door opened and Dr. Conescu himself stepped in.

The doctor’s nose was buried in the tablet where, no doubt, her Vlahos Fever test results were being displayed. His brow furrowed and his blue eyes lifted to Sami. “It’s positive, Sami,” he said quietly.

“That’s not possible. I’m human. Humans are immune to Vlahos Fever,” Sami said, frustration heavy in her voice.

The nurse seemed to fade into the backdrop at the first sign of the sticky situation, busying himself with the antibiotics that would be needed to help her fight it off. Dr. Conescu stepped closer to where she sat at the end of the hospital bed. His voice dropped. “Well, it is true that humans are immune. Therefore, it doesn’t appear that you are human.”


***

The men had remained quiet and uncomfortable after her declaration. A heavy breath was shoved free of her lungs and it took her a couple moments to refill them enough to speak. “I’m not human. Jay’s not here because you didn’t want to have to tell him that.”

“It’s your decision, Sami. You weren’t in medical distress. It’s your decision as to whether or not you tell Jay,” Chase said firmly. He rose to his feet to cross to her bed, his hand landing on her arm. “We’d done basic genetic testing on you in the past, Sami. We thought you were human or we wouldn’t have let you go. It looks like we missed something.”

“I need a minute,” Sami murmured numbly. “I just need a minute.”

Dr. Conescu rose with that, sympathy lingering over his expression. “We’ve got you on a lot of antibiotics and fluids right now. We don’t know how exactly your body chemistry reacts to drugs. We will do additional genetic testing if you want it. But, in the meantime, given the antibiotics we used, use backup birth control for a while. They may have an adverse reaction. You’re going to be tired for a week or so but you’re no longer contagious so you can go home real soon.”

The words bounced off of her and fell away, sparkles of nothing that failed to sink in. They were just another reminder that these men had no idea what she was. She had no idea what she was. "The vaccines? Did Marc Franco get the vaccines?"

"He did," Chase reassured firmly. "The Kumiho are safe. They've all been vaccinated. We just need you to concentrate on getting well."

“I just need a minute,” she repeated.

The men nodded, rising to their feet. She wasn't even sure which one of them spoke. It didn't matter. “Absolutely, Sami. Absolutely.”

She waited until the door shut firmly behind them to roll onto her side, curling into a ball to cry into her pillow.
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Re: Human

Post by Samiyah Zayn » Sun Dec 09, 2018 1:27 am

October 19, 2018
The village of Clovely to the north of Rhydin proper

Highbury Street was one of those charming little streets that the village of Clovely had in abundance. Shops and restaurants were intermixed with townhomes and cottages. The roads were clean. The people were polite. Crime was nearly nonexistent. The vast majority of the residents either worked for the Rhovniks or worked in Clovely in a service industry that supported the employees of Clovely.

The 'company town' atmosphere was helpful in times such as these. When one of their own fell, the community rallied around them. Prayers were said. Errands were offered to be run by neighbors. And people showed up with casserole dishes. Lot and lots of casserole dishes. It seemed like a constant parade of them once Sami had been transferred from the medical unit on the estate to their middle unit townhome in the heart of Clovely.

Sami had been napping in the upstairs bedroom when the rapping on the door of another delivery woke her. With her eyes closed against the late afternoon light she listened as Jay answered the door and thanked the person on the other side for whatever it was he was being handed. For the first time in ten days, her stomach growled. That had to be a good sign. When the door had closed on the visitor, she crawled out of bed. A blanket was pulled around her shoulders and she started down the stairs into the living room below to find out what had been brought.

Jay carefully carried the handled brown paper bag out of the foyer. On his way to the kitchen, he stopped when he spotted Sami waiting there, wrapped up in a blanket. He had done little to dress up in the days while she had been ill: today's outfit was black track pants and a plain gray hooded sweatshirt. The pinky toe on his right sock had popped through the fabric. Still, he had managed to keep some semblance of his health, even as he had been run ragged between work and caring for her. There were rings under his eyes, yes, but that easy-going smile came out when he saw her there.

"Hey." The word escaped with a relieved laugh. He crossed the small distance between them in the room and ducked down to press a quick kiss against her cheek. "You're feeling better?" He held the bag up, and some steam escaped from the top. "Do you have any idea what a, uh, Flying Jacob might be?" It smelled like a casserole, and it smelled like chicken, but the random assortment of other odors he detected from the dish couldn't possibly be right. Bananas? Peanuts? Bacon? Chili sauce? His head shook like a dog’s as he snorted, sniffed, and tried to figure out if his nose had been deceived.

"Oh, no. Was that Mrs. Woodard? Throw it out. That woman's cooking is absolutely bizarre." Her hair was piled up high on her head in a messy bun and, besides the blanket wrapped around her shoulders, she was dressed just in one of his old concert t-shirts and a pair of fuzzy socks. "I am a bit hungry. But walking downstairs was a lot. Let's sit and then I will think about what sounds good."

"Yeah. But I really should have a little, in case she asks me how it was. And then asks for specifics." Instead of throwing it away, he went into the kitchen and set it down on the countertop. With the household down a person, Jay had made a valiant effort to keep up on the chores, but there was a sink full of dishes, a trash can nearly overflowing, and a tiny table that still had his cereal bowl and coffee cup from breakfast. He sighed as he picked up the mug and bowl, moved around some dirty plates to make space, and added the new dishes to the sink. The cabinet door groaned its complaint as Jay opened it up to retrieve a tall glass and fill it with water. He wordlessly offered it to her once he was back in the living room.

She sunk onto the couch with that glass of water, not bothering to argue with him over it. The argument would take more energy than just drinking the water. She murmured her thanks, taking a sip before lifting her eyes to him. "Well, this is a pretty crappy vacation."

"At least you got to spend some time with me?" It came with a teasing tone and expression he had come to use more and more, as their years together had accumulated. "I'm sorry it sucked so much though. We'll have to go somewhere fun for Christmas."

The glass was set on the end table and a hand reached out for his wrist to weakly tug him down beside her. "That's a fantastic idea. Ronnie and Mike are expecting us at their Christmas party and their parties are always way too fancy for me. I do not need to be at another event where people stand around talking about their investment portfolios. I want to go be mildly irresponsible."

The pull itself wasn't enough to force Jay to sit, but the intent behind it managed to bring him down onto the couch. "Can't convince you to do the annual Crew Christmas party at Pizza 'N Beer?" Even as he threw the idea out, chuckling, he had his hands up in surrender, knowing full well it was a no-go. Still... "Can't be worse than Ronnie and Mike. Fifteen year old whiskey is totally lost on me." He put an arm around her loosely, taking a few sniffs at the air around them. His nose wrinkled. "I've totally failed at keeping this place clean. Ugh."

"We'll worry about this place tomorrow." The mention of the Crew had settled in, though. It always caused a trickle of dread to work its way down her spine. "Did you get to spend time with the kid or did me being sick screw everything up?"

"Yeah. Yalvaro's doing okay. He's waiting on a bone marrow transplant right now. We got him a signed jersey of mine."

Her mind was so full that she couldn’t pick through it all. She wasn’t human. She had driven Jay away from the duels in the height of his career. The guilt weighed heavily on her. Since she wasn’t yet ready to address the former, she tried to address the latter. "Do you want to duel again, Jay?"

Jay let the question hang in the air, silent as he considered it. He dipped his head down to sniff at Sami's hair, then sat back up. "I'd be lying if I said there weren't days when I miss it. But not many. Rekah asked me if I was gonna come back to the city more, and I told her I kinda hate it there."

It was the combination of exhaustion and the relief of finally feeling a little better that had her emotions so vulnerable and raw. "I don't want to live in the city again. So much of our relationship was fake there. When we moved here -- I don't know. It felt like we were really married. It didn't feel like an act."

"Yeah." The single syllable came with a kiss to the top of her head, and his arms wrapping tighter around her. "But, uh, since we're on the topic of dueling, I have to tell you something. I kinda sorta signed up for the Warlord Tournament. Yalvaro asked me why I wasn't dueling anymore, and he didn't believe me when I said I was tired of it. He looked so...I don’t know, like he needed something to look forward to. So I told him I’d do the tournament.”

She refused to allow the unhappy exhale that threatened. Instead, she soaked in the news and processed it carefully. "Jay, you were really good and I'm not going to stand in the way of your hobby. As long as that's what it is. As long as you don't sign some massive contract with the Crew. I do not want the PR people and the management people and the trainers and the assistants and all those other people that are not Crew but seemingly attached to the Crew in our lives."

"I promise, this's a one-off. A cameo. I haven't fought for three years. There's no way I'm gonna win this thing, and even if I did, I'd get a squire in there to run the Barony."

There was a barony up for grabs then. An exhale was released and she gave a nod. She swallowed hard. "That place has always dredged up every insecurity I've ever had about us. I'd like to think I'm passed all of that but.... I doubt I am."

"I know. One night. I promise." Yawning, he leaned back and stretched his arms, in preparation for standing up. "Now, you should probably get something to eat. You want that Jacob's Ladder thingy, or should I see what we've got leftover from the Carpenters?

He was purposefully changing the subject. But it was probably for the best and she knew it so she didn't fight it. "I will eat whatever you put in front of me, Jay Capistrano, but afterwards you have to take me to bed and properly welcome me home." Her tone flipped on its head, turning teasing as she put some effort into rising to her feet.

He slid out from underneath her and rose to his feet much quicker, then offered his hands to help her up. Only, instead of just pulling her onto her feet, he hefted her straight into his arms, with a grip under her knees and her back. He grinned mischievously right back at her, as he tipped his head toward the kitchen. "If you keep sassing me, jaan, you're gonna get Mrs. Woodward's mush."
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Re: Human

Post by Samiyah Zayn » Thu Dec 13, 2018 8:23 am

November 19, 2018
The village of Clovely to the north of Rhydin proper

After several weeks living in a luxury Crew apartment in New Haven, Sami would have thought that their narrow townhome on Highbury Street in Clovely with its worn furniture and scratched up hardwood floors would feel narrower and more worn and more scratched. But, instead, it just felt like home.

The Crew paid-for vacation was over. In a day or two they would report back to the Rhovnik Foundation and figure out what their next deployment would be. It was time to tell the truth. Every excuse to continue stalling had been leveled.

Sami sat barefoot lotus-style in the middle of their bed while Jay unpacked his things. Her sweaty palms slid down her denim clad thighs.

"So there is something I need to tell you about my last deployment before we go back to work."

Jay hadn't minded the quiet drive back to Clovely. He had played his usual parlor trick of guessing when the last time someone had spilled coffee in the car was, put in a mix CD of Sami's favorite 80's Earth pop songs, and fallen asleep about halfway through the drive. He had needed the strength to carry all the luggage they had brought with them from the car, up the curb, up the half-set of steps that led to their townhouse door, and then into the house itself. He had helped Sami unpack as much as he could, before turning to his own things. After all, he hadn't packed quite as much, and much of it was going straight into a laundry hamper.

Out of the corner of his eye, he watched her sit and fidget as he re-folded and put away some of his old concert t-shirts. When she did speak, he turned to face her fully, nodding. "Sure, what's up?"

Her heart was pounding in her ears. He had to hear it. There was nothing she could do but continue to slide her palms from mid-thigh to knee and then back again. "I went to the Trara Empire. There's been a really bad breakout of Vlahos Fever there. The Kumiho Shapeshifters needed some vaccines. Since the Rhovniks are already there and humans are immune to it, they asked me to go pick up the vaccines from a doctor there.”

The gears didn't quite start to turn in his head. "Okay..." He scratched the tops of his hands, still trying to puzzle out why she was so nervous. He sat down on the bed near her, doing his best imitation of her lotus-style position.

"I didn't have some flu, Jay," she confessed quietly. "I had Vlahos Fever."

There it was. The flash of recognition, a burst of light in ice blue eyes. Then, a puzzled look, as he tried to twist around to look at her. He had to give up on that, though, and instead spun himself so that he could see her face-to-face. He dipped in close, almost as if to kiss her, but the aim was too low. Instead, his nose found the side of her neck and he breathed in, deeply. Whatever it was he was looking for, he didn't find it, for the confused expression still stayed on his face. "You're not human?"

Her body tensed as he breathed her in, her shoulders lifting as soon as he pulled away. She shook her head for a moment, gathering herself before she could speak. "Evidently not. Or at least not completely. They don't know for sure. The Rhovniks have offered genetic testing."

"You smell human." A hint of a growl accompanied the words, one that he shook off when he pulled back further. "Are you gonna do it?"

"I don't know," she breathed out as she restlessly slid off the bed and rose to her feet, pacing towards the window. "I don't see how it could possibly help anything."

"Besides knowing what other diseases you might be susceptible to?" That protective rumble crept back into his voice, as he stayed seated on the bed.

She sunk down to perch on the window sill, her back pressed against the cool glass. It was a good question. It was one she didn't have an answer for yet. "Are you pissed? I wasn't in any real distress and Chase thought I should tell you. Then we were in New Haven and it didn't even feel like our lives there for a while. I should have told you. I just don't have any answers to any of your questions yet."

"I mean, I wish I'd known sooner. Like, I knew it was kinda serious 'cuz you were laid up for so long, but if I'd known that..." He trailed off, realizing he didn't really have an answer to that thought. "I don't know if pissed is the right word. Concerned? Worried?" He sniffed at the air, and a chuckle involuntarily escaped. "Confused?"

A hand lifted to rub at the ache in her chest. A desperation had infiltrated her tone. She wasn't sure if she was trying to convince him or herself. Maybe both of them. "It doesn't change anything. We never knew what I was. We assumed because I look human. But Stick plucked me out of a bar full of gnomes and half-orcs and wizards and various scumbags. I could be anything. It doesn't matter."

"It doesn't matter." He repeated it as he slid his legs over the edge of the bed and hopped onto the floor. "It doesn't matter." He said it again as he walked across the room and stood in front of her.

He rested both hands on her shoulders and looked straight down into her eyes. "You're right. It doesn't change anything."
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