Karma

A knife edge life. Battles with instincts, scruples and inevitable descents.

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Mesteno
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Karma

Post by Mesteno » Wed Oct 09, 2019 2:23 pm

[OOC:Scene set the day of Gemethyst and Anya's capture by the killer known as Teslim in a thread on DM called 'Serial Killer on the loose'. Adapted from live play with Aoife's writer. This thread will have mature subject matter, crude language, gore and all those other good things.]

March, 2012

It was near even fall when Mesteno and Rei had come stumbling into the alley, his Godson a step ahead, a trained tracker and far less likely to get them lost. The trap had taken them both unawares, a very deliberate placement and closer to Teslim's stronghold than the site of the kidnap itself. Just a touch of bare flesh to the greasy, black substance upon walls and cobbles and suddenly, the air had been full of it - noxious, potent and very deadly.

It was unlikely Mesteno would ever remember much beyond that point, because a single, shallow breath of it had been enough. Somehow, his Godson had lifted a shield against it, one which barred the fumes and intersected the alley, but the silver-maned tracker was gone who-knows-where, plucked out of the alley via mishap with the very work he'd been weaving to save them.

Save them it had, but Mesteno was sprawled belly down, quite unconscious with flecks of blood drying on his lips and the air rattling on each slow, infrequent inhalation.

For Aoife, this night was like any other. The clouds threatened rain, bunched up and smearing out the stars leaving all the stories untold. The spider web of alley ways drew her wandering deeper into the city, or perhaps maybe it was the child's play of shadows along the dark, brick walls. Either or, distraction had a reason for her tonight and that reason lay just beyond the next bend, sprawled on his stomach and gloriously unconscious.

The smile she wore was just for him as she drew deeper into the alley. So intent on the tangle of red-gold hair, she didn't notice how the black on the walls frightened her shadows away.

Don't touch, Dream Child.

He'd fallen with enough force to split his scalp somewhere, hidden in all that hair, but the colours were so alike that who'd find it, at a glance? It might be scented though, for his blood smelled too rich, too potent a thing to ignore for mouths that wanted, and it was a minor miracle that he'd not been stumbled across by something undead and hungry.

Luckier still that no one living had stumbled across him while his body snatched clumsily at the soul energy of any living thing in the alley's narrow confines. The rats and the small, crawling things were about as valuable as copper pennies where a soul's currency was concerned, but it had been enough to keep the damage from spreading internally. To keep death at bay, for whom surely it had been too long in coming already.

Aoife had no trouble in reaching him. No trouble at all.

Rich, potent, and red. It was red and that was what drew her closer.

She had been using free liberties quite often with the Sadist, and that was when he was upright and scowling beautifully at her (he was so selfish with his smiles). But here and now, he had no say, nothing but the quiet gurgle of life's breath.

She was quiet normally, but this time the murmuring of silence could have hidden her steps from his ears and the sound of denim rubbing when she crouched closer. Her humming was sweet enough, gentle to lull, like the tip-tap tickle of her fingers along his back until they stilled to feel for the rise and fall of his life.

Her fingers travelling his back did not go unfelt, for this was not one of his normal, death-deep slumbers. It was poison induced, something he struggled against, struggled because he knew there was something he was supposed to be doing. *Urgently*. His eyes stayed shut as if the lids were too heavy to peel open, but he gave a sound like the most hopeless of groans, a sound which saw more blood bubble out on a cough that rattled him weakly.

And if she didn't lean over him at that! One hand planted on a sprawl of his tangled hair, the other pressing into those sharp ribs and something else stepping up the length of his spine (give her a minute to notice, there is red). The notes had froze in her throat, song forgotten, so much pay attention to at once. And she reached and leaned, quite boldly over him smearing two little fingers across his chin before straightening in her crouch using his back once again as a hand hold. Her thumb rubbed across her fingers painting them such a pretty red. It was the blue that ate away at the quiet gray in her eyes, blame the blue for the sinful thoughts she had just then.

There was something else to explore though, something else she plucked at through the damp fabric of his shirt. There was a gentleness in the way she lifted the hem of his shirt, it didn't match the smile that painted her lips pink nor the glow that swelled in her eyes.

One ring, two ring, three ring, four.

A look left then right before she leaned over him again. A sweep of ebony hair and summer sun flowers kept her words for his ear when she brushed his hair back. "Let me help you."

More jostling, it shook away the mind cloud until he could feel the solidity of the ground beneath him, the cold which had seeped up through his clothes and into flesh and bone. But it wasn't the cold which was keeping him from moving. Not even the weight of the girl upon his back. The poison had done something to his nerves, left him feeling so amorphous that he thought his back must have been broken, something severed to leave him so useless.

No...he wouldn't have felt what he did. The fingers at his chin perhaps, but not the cold against his spine as she lifted the shirt to bare his scar riddled back, and the heavy D rings which were rooted in the muscle to either side of the bony column. Aoife. He knew that voice. What was she doing here?

"Fa..." he murmured, but her name came out broken and gurgled, and when his eyes cracked open to the finest, paper-thin line, they were as reflective as an alley cat's, the pupils so enormous that his retinas bounced it back alarmingly. "Eeef.."

Help him? She was such a small, weak little thing. How was she going to help him? More to the point, why would she?

"Shh."

The gesture was too kind when she smoothed his hair back again, such a pity his eyes were shut. The presence, the pressure were just...gone. She took them with her when she stood. The sweep of the alley drew her attention just across the way before it also took her with it, leaving Mesteno alone once again with cold cobblestones, the fetid stench, and small pool of his own blood. ---

Seconds turned into minutes and seemed like days stretching into weeks before the soft sound of footfalls and steps drew close to his motionless body. She would always be familiar to him in every way he would probably like to erase, but she wasn't alone this time.

Stronger hands, rougher hands, slid between his arms and hooked under and over his shoulders hauling him up against a not so feminine body that reeked of fish and stale cigarettes. And then there was dragging that seemed to last longer than a lifetime.

*No, God damn it, I have to find Gem!*

But he could barely form even partial words, there was no way to coerce his tongue into getting something that complex out. And was it better that she'd persuaded someone to help her, or would he have been safer lying there in his own blood? His breathing quickened subtly, and he hung uselessly limp, bones weak as water as the stranger with the rough hands dragged him. Now and then another fit of coughing, but upright now it was harder to get the thick, bubbling stuff from his throat. There was nothing he could do but scream bloody murder inwardly...and remain shamefully vulnerable outwardly.

It was just perfect, really. Slime layered cobblestones turned into a dirt caked wood floor, the darkness was always the same and would continue to be as it followed them. Those rough hands hauled and tugged and with no warning they were gone, leaving all the useless limbs to crumble upon the body that was dumped on a floor. It was cruel. Heavy steps rang away only to be replaced by softer ones, the whisper of denim, and a muffled scraping sound.

"He wasn't very nice, was he?" The voice he knew again, by his ear.

It wasn't a hospital bed. He should have been grateful for that, he supposed, because they always called the damn Watch when he finally woke up and started swinging, disoriented at the doctors. The men in uniform didn't need any more reasons to lock him up indefinitely. But being dumped on a dirty wooden floor wasn't much of an improvement from the alley, and the company? Well it was still Aoife, and that didn't bode well.

His eyes slipped open again, straining to focus beyond a blur. Was it dark still? It didn't matter whether or not it was, really, his night vision was exemplary.

"What...?" The best he could manage for now. What did she want with him? He could not, would not assume that she was doing this out of the goodness of her heart.

It was dark, but not enough to obscure the lay of the room from his reaching eyes. He hadn't been moved far. This part of the city was littered with abandoned buildings, forgotten shells of something else left behind. An entrance to one hadn't been far from where he lay outside in the cold. The long hall had been littered with yesterday's trash. Rats skittered for cover when they'd past, glaring with beady eyes as dinner had been interrupted. The room they were in was a simple thing really. The door sagged shamelessly off the hinges, it might have been beautiful once. One blank wall and two more carrying two windows each; Aoife was in there. The glass was fogged with misuse, dirt, and days old rain. There were a few broken squares of glass, and that, was the only guiding light for the push of the moon through the clouds. It spilled over the floor and stretched as far as it could chasing shadows into rag piled corners.

"Shh...you need your strength." She was being so nice. And then something razor sharp bit into the skin at his left wrist.

It looked a bit like the shittty little apartment he kept for a bolthole down near the docks. The one with the wall which still wore a stain from Sutton's suicide. He half expected to spot it there, and wondered whether he'd dreamed it once upon a time for her to see, to know. But the walls were only grubby, not splattered. And she was too close for comfort.

Stubbornly, he tried to organise his crumpled limbs into coordinating themselves, but the best he could manage was a flex of muscles and a slow, drowsy blink. No good. It made him recall the dream - the one where he'd been pinned down and she'd had the audacity to start carving into his calf where the scar was. Perhaps what was why he seemed unsurprised at the pain which bloomed brightly in his wrist.

"Don'...Aoifffe.." It came out growled, and truth be told he was fucking furious that he was defenceless around her. Little wench had some strange fascination with blood. And he'd taken hers. He had a funny feeling karma had caught up with him at last.

"Sit still." It was chaste and sounded more like sssit ssstill.

Karma was a bitch with a nasty bite, like the one in his right wrist to match the left. Pain bloomed like the blood that welled there to comfort it. The musky smell of the room flooded with copper and honey, not just his.

"You shouldn't nap in alley's, Mesteno. It isn't safe." She did have the audacity to lecture him. The words followed her as she moved somewhere behind him. That odd scuffling drag chased after. There was pressure again in his back, however he'd arranged himself. She pressed into his shoulder blades and was playing with the hem of his shirt again.

The pain was nothing, really. He didn't even mind it, and if it'd been someone else, different circumstances, he might have even enjoyed it...

But this was the Dream Walker and who knew what a mentally unstable half-fae intended, bleeding him the way she was? So he bled, the scent of it thick and dark (if a scent could even have shades) while it ran little rivers over the contours of his hands, the tendons of his wrists. Of all the times to end up at her mercy.

Gods, I'm sorry, Gem. Please don't be dead.

He gave up with the protests, seemed to have come to the conclusion that it wouldn't be worth the effort while he couldn't even speak sense, and waited with the breath rattling unattractively in his throat while she toyed with the hem of his shirt.

Fabric ripped, hem to neck exposing his back to the cold fingers of moon that streaked through a broken panel of glass; so much for his clothing staying put.

What was she doing back there? Never you mind, all in good time. If he lay still and stopped squirming, his back would escape the blunt tipped kisses his wrists had not. There was tugging along his spine, metal scraping metal, and at times pulling at his wrists. Such an intricate thing she made up in the seconds she'd taken to do it. The muffled noise was gone and silence flooded in to takes its place. Rats skittered in the hall, creatures in the alley outside, but nothing from the dreamwalking half-breed. Something so warm, and so fresh, and so sinfully delicious sprayed in hot, little drops over his face.

"Wake up, it's okay now."

Had he been capable of moving as much as he'd have liked, he'd have been on his feet and stumbling out into the crisp, February night to resume the hunt. But he couldn't. Couldn't even keep one small girl from ripping his damned shirt up.

It wasn't a pleasant view. He was all hard, starkly apparent muscle, pulled taut over sharp bone structure, an anatomy model wrapped in the thinnest of skins. There were markings carved across his upper back, almost interrupted by a horrific, dark patch of scarring where something had torn one of his shoulders apart, other trenches where the damage had been too great for the sides to knit cleanly, and of course the rings she tormented. There had been six, once upon a time. One was absent, torn loose to be worn in a desert man's hair and likely never to be seen again.

Each little tug at those caused a shiver, tensed the muscles to the point that the sensitivity was obvious, and he bared his teeth at her, a snarling, half-starved wolf of a man. "What...is that? What?" He tried to move again. Slumped as if his limbs were as stable as wet clay. Groan.

Fabric hid secrets for many and Mesteno was just another, though she'd stolen some of his from him once upon a dream or two.

There was enough slack in whatever she did for him to sit, kneel if he wanted. Standing would be...rather difficult but possible. What she'd done, you see, is wrapped barbed wired around each of his wrists (there's been no rope coiled about). Now, this wire was slack enough for him to move his arms no further than the plane of his body. Should he attempt to do that, it would pull tightly against the rings she'd threaded it through down his back. The tail end of what had been left over was wound about the rusted, metal loop of an abandoned anchor resting against the wall. He was free to go if he pleased, but the anchor would be coming.

She hadn't gone without barbed kisses, the palms of her hands were ruined with them. Sweet, smelling Fae blood welled at the sites and was what rained down on his face as she flicked it at him again. "Wake-up."

"Are you..." Cough! "Fucking insane, woman?"

Throat like gravel, the taste of his own blood in his mouth when he spoke, but it was the scent of hers which did terrible things. And he couldn't not smell it. It was there on his skin to be breathed in, warm. The taste was a remembered thing, and he couldn't avoid desiring it, because the part of him which hungered woke at the scent, just the way it had back at the inn when Teslim had left the basket with its gory contents.

But it was strange what that appetite could do. It drove him like a bullwhip, like fire nipping at his heels, and the next time he tried to scrambled up, straining his arms and legs so that they woke with agonising pins and needles, he actually had some small degree of success. Right up until the barbed wire pulled, and he felt skin tearing at his wrists, dozens of little metal spikes puncturing, the rings in his back lifting, jerking the wrong way. He was so startled by what she'd done that he froze, staring at her incredulously, blood matted hair clinging to one side of his face in the gloom.

"The fuck have you done to me!?"

"I was once." She'd been crouched before him, balanced on the balls of her feet in such tiny, little ballet flats. Her arms were draped over her knees, hands and fingers dangling loosely from beneath sleeves that were always too long. She followed him up with bright, blue eyes; bye bye quiet gray. There was blood on her chin, hers or his, not quite sure; maybe she'd had an itch during her attempt at artwork a la Mesteno. His fire flared temper made her smile, it was beautiful. "Are you angry?" She tipped her head with the question, cheek nearly touching her shoulder. "Because I'm not sorry."

He didn't have time for this, the need to get out was urgent, but God DAMN she'd known just how to goad him. Might as well have jabbed at his temper with a cattle prod. The Latin came surging up out of him like water from a fountain, blood-spattered and rumbling as he cursed her, a patina of pink clinging to the enamel of his teeth as he strained towards her as if he'd tear her limb from limb. Or, that would have been the idea, had he the strength for such things. Instead the barbed wire tightened, sank deeper and the anchor wouldn't budge. He ended up keeling forwards, smacking his chin on the floor and biting back a shout at the sudden pain tugging at the muscles of his back.

"Medius fidius. In tartaro adrebis!" That was probably a yes.

She was close enough that some of his pink stained spit jumped through the air and landed on her hands. She was quiet and still as he raged and shouted at her in a language she didn't understand. When he had finally spent himself of that borrowed energy, she too fell to her knees and planted her hands on the floor, leaning down with a tumble of all that dark hair and wildflower sun scent. It was a very naughty position to be in, but that didn't concern her. The tips of her fingers danced on the dirty floor near his head.

"You're very weak right now, you should save your strength." She slid her arm across the floor and tapped his hand where the rich scented blood flowed freely from his struggles. "You're making a mess."

His jaw was throbbing. Falling face first hurt, and along with every other little pain she'd inflicted, the burn in his lungs too, he really could have done without the mother of a headache that was descending on him.

"I'll show you a fucking mess. I'll make sure you're still breathing to see it while I take the rest of you apart. Don't fucking think I won't." And it wasn't beyond him. He was so expert in his field that it would be a small thing, to keep her pinned to her body like a bug under glass while he took his time butchering her.

If he'd been thinking straight he'd have realised that making threats would do him no good, but fury had obliterated wisdom just now and he attempted to reach for the hand near his, pulling against the barbed wire to further mutilate his own wrists, wrench at the rings. If he caught her? She was getting dragged in. Well...feebly. He couldn't even keep himself straight, let alone drag a woman about.

"I'm sure you'll think about it." She very well knew that he was capable of his threats and she was walking a very fine line using this weakness of his against him.

He didn't have to reach far to get ahold of her hand, but the wounds he'd inflicted upon himself (no thanks to her handiwork) had coated his hand, and now hers in his blood. His fingers danced over her wrist, groping a stolen touch over a thick scar on the delicate underside before slipping off rejected. She curled her arm away from him and clicked her tongue.

"I don't want to hold your hand. He wouldn't like that. He doesn't like you." She slid her hand along his throbbing jaw leaving a blood smear trail (sweet and rich combined) before she gripped his chin, lifting his head so that they were eye level. "You should be nicer to me."

He shouldn't have cared who 'he' was, but as always his curiosity was pressing. Too much blood on the air. The scent of it was glazing his eyes, the hunger in him mounting until it wasn't comfortably bearable. How he resented that grip on his chin, let his lip curl to bare a canine at the contact.

"He? Who the fuck is he and why should I care? You think there's a chance in Hell I'll be 'nice' to you now?"

He shook his head obstinately to try and free his head of her grasp, and sat back, haunches to heels to catch his breath and try to stop the world from spinning. He'd wasted too much energy struggling, and the damn toxin was creeping back in, dimming the world at the edges. Don't fall asleep. You have work to do, you useless bastard.

The head shaking did him no good, but when he sat back she let his chin go with a pinch of her fingers and mimicked his posture. She was much to close for his comfort.

"You should be. Because I'll find them when they sleep." Again, that smile painted her lips too red to be pink. It was nothing out of the ordinary. She still spoke with that quiet, airy lilt of the Highlands. Still wore a shirt with sleeves too long. Still had hair darker than the pitch of black. But there were no riddles, no nonsense rhymes, and nothing left of the morning mist in her eyes. "And when I find them, they'll know it was because of you."

There was a very real risk that at this point he'd pass out again. And then what? Pitch forwards again and this time end up with his face in her lap.

He paid special attention to remaining conscious.

Perhaps that was why her words made so little sense. "Them?" The coughs caught up with him again, shook him hard enough that the barbed wire twisted a little more and braceletted his wrists in blood and raw flesh. Drops fell like dark, fractured garnet on the floorboards.

"I don't know what you mean. What did I do to anyone?" Lots of things. Many things. To more people than there were days in a year. What was it he was supposed to be doing again? "God damn it Aoife, get this fucking mess off me!" He strained towards her again sharply, as if he could make her get it off him by invading her personal space. The anchor fell over against the wall.

He invaded her space all right, first with his blood spattered coughing, a ruby dotted picture on the side of her face. His lurch though would have set him off balance as would have the tip of the anchor along the wall. The way he spent his energy on anger was fascinating to her, and she had hardly done a thing...well, besides the obvious.

"Them. All of them that mean anything to you." She had stayed relatively clean through out this whole ordeal, save for her torn up hands which she rested palms up on her legs. She couldn't go home looking like she'd done bad things. "You really need to calm down. Home is far walk away." She wasn't touching that anchor again. It burned her twice.

Well that was a threat he understood, couldn't quite believe, either. She was blackmailing him! And by that point the after effects of the toxin were pressing in too thickly for him to ignore. His head felt too heavy upon his scarred neck, the blood loss, whilst normally nothing which might have concerned him, was wearying, and there'd been no energy to tap into in the first place. Only the rage, and that was fast fading. The anchor had fallen, and it dragged on the barbed wire again, pulled it backwards so that the spikes cart-wheeled where they were buried, bursting out through the skin they'd yet to break and flattening the rings back down against his sharply jutting spine. His eyes started to slip closed again.

"I was supposed to be... They got her. Got her. Ngh..." Aoife evaded having him face to crotch, because he keeled over sideways. Hit hard with another smack of his head.

Blackmail or not. He may uphold one end and force himself not to rip her to pieces in public, but if he ever caught her alone she was very well sure that he'd drain her nearly dry and leave her barely breathing. It was a good thing he couldn't get into her head.

His mumbling had no effect on her and made the least bit of sense. Nothing changed in bright blue of her eyes when he fell, except perhaps the fresh flow of blood. The sight had her pupils swelling black into blue pushing it to the very edges. He keeled over and she followed with the tip of her head. And even though she wasn't sure he was finished, she took the chance and leaned over him.

"I know you won't forget. I thought you'd like it, our time together. From me, " she rubbed her thumb over his lower lip painting it red with her blood, "to you." Then she straightened and reached for the loose fabric of his tattered shirt, using it to wipe her hands off. "You should rest."

[End scene.]
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Re: Karma

Post by Mesteno » Wed Oct 09, 2019 2:48 pm

[OOC: Adapted from live play with Gideon. To fill in the gaps - this scene follows an unpleasant tavern brawl where Mesteno took exception to his brother, Salvador, getting up close and personal with Aoife, and a business deal some days prior involving a blood exchange with Gideon.]

April, 2012

Down the stairs Gideon came behind the glowering Roman, shutting the door soundly upon Salvador's last words, slamming them inside, where they belonged. He gave the other man the closest thing to an apologetic smile he was perhaps capable of and stepped down from the last stair, shoving hands in pockets of his jeans.

"You look like you need to kill something. Or fuck something. Or both."

Mesteno assumed Gideon must have been in dire need of entertainment to join him while he was inebriated and in the mood to pummel his own brother.

"S'real astute of you," he remarked, sneering, but denied neither. Both were true, and Gideon appeared to be in the habit of being honest with him, so he returned the favour. "We agreed to some business. Would you consider a change of one, minor detail?"

"That depends entirely upon the detail." He replied. Gideon was, in fact, brutally honest with the Sadist. To an unmatched degree, and he'd be hard pressed to explain why. Regardless, it was a luxury above all others, to be entirely one's self. And Gideon was always in dire need of entertainment. Besides which he knew full well the kind of rage boiling over within the other at the moment. Mesteno had been good enough on more than one occasion to be his outlet for that black, poisonous vitriol. Who would he be if he did not reciprocate?

Mesteno appreciated it, even when he didn't like what he heard (which, with Gideon, was most of the time). His temper was easing down by this point, tone less frayed and more calculated, though the chemical effects of the liquor lingered. Left the pupils swollen and the gold of his eyes more of a smoulder, than a morning sunrise.

"Keep your blood. Kill that little bitch for me instead." This surely, could not be unexpected.

Fuck. Fucking fuck. Gideon's dark head dropped as he regarded his feet, one hand sliding from its pocket to rub at the back of his neck uncomfortably. He glanced up from under dark brows drawn toward each other, expression honestly apologetic this time.

"I would agree...and do it with pleasure. Free of charge!" His hand fell and he shifted weight from foot to foot. "But I made a promise to another to watch after her. I can't put a finger on her... not to mention she is possibly True's best hope for finding his roots and himself." He glanced back over a shoulder toward the door, features tightening. "But I may know a way around all that."

The eerie phosphorescence of eyes swivelled back upon the Roman, ticked over his features in hard measurement. "You want her dead because she spread her legs for your brother? Either you are just a touch over protective or I am missing something here. What do you have against that little c*nt?"

For a moment there Mesteno was afraid he was going to get an unwanted glimpse of humanity from the leech. He'd never have expected that the damned Dreamwalker could be safe from so many people. The tension in him crept up a notch again, fingers flexing tightly around the bottle neck, but then a scrap of hope flung his way.

"You do? Well spit it out man. What do I need to do?" Eager didn't even come close to how keen he was to being rid of her, if the hand which came grasping at Gideon's coat was anything to judge by. "I don't care that he slept with her. She's fucked with my... she fucked with Sam's head, mine, another friend's...she found me poisoned in a damn alley and dragged me off with the help of some flunky, left me tied up with barbed wire to an anchor. Is that enough reason?"

Gideon's brows rose. "Enough reason for me to give her a high five." He mused, only half joking. He closed a hand over the fist Mesteno was making in his jacket. Cold as marble, smooth as frosted glass. "She's fae...so is True, and he has no qualms about killing. Calls it 'unmaking'. I saw him turn a girl into a jibbering, writhing shell of herself without two brain cells left to rub together. It stands to reason he could do the same to her, or worse, yes?"

Even speaking of it, he felt a twinge of guilt...recalled Catlin, hand in hand with the quiet girl, the pair of them silent shadows of each other, thick as thieves. The muscle of his cheek jumped hard with the flex of his jaw, teeth grinding together painfully as he bit back the unpleasant emotion.

Eyes narrowed slightly. "Dico mihi quare vos can non iuguolo suus vestri. Nam non conscientia."

It was telling, that Mesteno didn't pull his hand free. Normally the chill of it, the fact that it was Gideon he was in contact with, would have seen him flighty, potentially snarling. The question left him briefly introspective, the muscle of his jaw tight. He was so softly spoken when he answered.

"Not that. She's done me enough harm that I feel she's deserving, now. I didn't always. I gave her a lifetime's worth of chances. The only reason I can't is because of my brother. I won't do him harm to get to her, and he will guard her now, I know it. But this way, the fucking with her head, that could work. If True agrees to it. Don't you...don't hurt my brother, either."

So many conditions! Was one scrawny, necromancer's blood worth it? Hardly.

One corner of Gideon's generous mouth tugged upward. The hand that clasped over the Sadist's slid down, away...then snapped up, closed upon his throat, used the leverage of the grasp to back him against the brick wall sharply. His thumb stroked a metronome over the pulsing artery just under his jaw. Gideon looked contemplative behind that mask of wicked pleasure.

"Don't hurt your brother, hmmn? Not even in fun?" He sucked his tongue against the back of his teeth in a soft 'tsk'. "And here I thought it was just a minor change of detail." He sighed, shrugged one shoulder. "I'll see what I can do for you. Because I owe you, in some small way. And I hate being indebted to people. Makes them so..." His hand slid, round throat, up the sloping nape of a neck, gathered the thick mass of fiery hair in the clench of fingers and puuuuuulled. "...so entitled."

He lent forward, the shining sickle of his smile brilliant as the moon. "I'll reperio a via neco b***h vobis , si is est quis vos verum votum." He murmured quietly.

Mesteno's reflexes were slower than they should have been, or he might have attempted to fend off the palm that found his throat. The first thing he knew about it was the clip of his scalp against the wall though. Small impact really, but enough to make him sorry he'd drunk so damn much.

"Don't hurt him," he reiterated, because he suspected it was necessary. Aoife was fair game, but the Spaniard was most definitely off limits.

Was it disappointing that the thumb beneath his jaw found not a racing pulse, but one so smooth and slow he might have been sleeping? Surely even he knew enough to fear his current predicament.

"S'less dangerous for you, right? You've had enough bad experiences with people getting hold of your blood. I'd have thought you'd jump at the chance." The pull at his hair drew the heavy angle of his jaw up, gave an impression of arrogance where there was none. "Yes, damn it, haven't I said it clearly enough?"

Instinct wanted him to lash out. For once he held still. Let him look at the good end of the deal for as long as he wanted, so long as they were agreed.

"Well, truth be told I was curious to find out why you would want more of my blood. But if I don't need to give it up, so be it. I've grown rather used to being wanted for the devil in my veins."

Gideon felt torn between pleasure at his submission and regret that Mesteno did not fight. The pace of that pulse was no surprise nor disappointment - he could hear the Sadist's heart, knew it's steady thud, could smell the alcohol diluting his bloodstream. He tugged a bit harder, then released.

"And I suppose I only receive 'payment' after fulfilling my end of the deal?" Amazing how dirty he made that word sound, how he spat it out distastefully while he gave the Sadist the space of one step back.

Don't blame him for the hair thing. Once Gideon got his teeth into a weakness he was relentless as a terrier.

Had Gideon tried, he'd have found out just how defiant the Sadist could be, but while they proceeded with a modicum of civility, he'd have to put up with the lack of violence. Another drawback to the dealing.

The faintest glimpse of teeth behind parted lips suggested that latter pull had him on the verge of bearing them in warning, but his eyes disagreed. Seemed somehow glassier for it, as if he'd swallowed down another bottle. It was a well exploited weakness, and he shuddered, just faintly when the tangled mane was let go, straightening up sharply thereafter as if he were a tom cat bristling under a dousing of icy water.

"That's how it goes. I let you drink now and it's hardly a novelty, is it? Besides, I'm fucking drunk... you'd complain about the aftertaste," he grumbled, easing away from the wall while there was opportunity to. "Do I need to set you a damn deadline?"

"You set a deadline and I'll have you waiting until you're on your deathbed." He replied, ever the contrary fuck, shoving hands deep into the pockets of his jeans as he strolled backward a few more paces, turned his face to eye the long path the alley presented. "And I prefer you drunk. It's the only way I can enjoy liquor." Little nugget of information there.

High, drunk... just added to the pleasure of it. He smiled thinly to himself, glanced back at Mesteno with an unreadable expression.

"I don't make promises, but I'll see what I can do."

Mesteno made a mental note to be perfectly sober when the time came, because after all, Gideon was not the only contrary fuck in the alley at that moment. That, and it was never wise to let a vampire loose on your neck when you hadn't the wits to start protesting when enough was enough.

He reached a hand around to the back of his head, feeling where it'd caught the wall, but found no blood. A headache was the worst he'd have out of this.

"You'll see what you can do?" he asked, in a tone of mild disbelief. "Is this so hard a task for you to take care of? Are you that incompetent?"

That's right, insult the vampire.

Gideon grinned like the devil.

"Says the man who can't bring himself to kill a little girl because she 'f*cked with his head'." He replied. "Don't bite the hand that feeds you, mate, no matter how late that feeding might come. I'll see what I can do." He reiterated coldly, turning to go. "Be patient, Mesteno. All good things to those who wait."

And off he went down the alley at a leisurely pace. His voice came drifting back over his shoulder. "If you'd still like to kill or fuck something, you're welcome to tag along. If not... well, try to have fun."

Patience was not one of Mesteno's strong points, and he had to bite back the smart-assed reply that wanted out. His fading footfalls in the other direction, would have to suffice for answer.
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Re: Karma

Post by Mesteno » Wed Oct 09, 2019 3:58 pm

[Adapted from live play with Aoife and Gideon.]

April, 2012

Quick. Painless.

Gideon found the whole business distasteful enough as it was, why make it worse with a messy struggle,with witnesses? He personally had nothing against Aoife, she'd never done wrong to him and what was more he had promised to watch over the girl. Thinking back on it, he'd made no promises NOT to harm her - just to watch over her.

He'd been rather pleased with himself for thinking he might have actually found a way around his little problem. Damn Mesteno for putting him in the middle of whatever this was, and damn himself for wanting a piece of the Sadist enough to be willing to go along with it all.

Finding Aoife was no problem. She was, after all, charmingly regular in her routines. Little silent wallflower. What harm could she have possibly done? Drugged Mesteno, tied him up, had some fun? She hardly seemed capable. The entire idea of such a thing was damned near laughable. Enjoyable, but laughable. Gideon may have been the world's most miserable vampire, but he was at least a consummate apex predator. Say what you will about him, he at least had that in his favor.

The petite girl walked along, her fingers trailing the wall beside her, and he moved as silent as her shadow a foot behind her. Easy enough, to reach out a hand, clamp it firmly over her mouth and jerk her head to one side, enough to jab the little needle into the vein of her throat. His thumb depressed the plunger slowly. The midazolam that flooded her bloodstream would act fast enough to knock her clean out fast, without leaving her unconscious for too long, and leave her with a pleasant, warm, woozy feeling. He gathered the limp, warm body, slung her easily over one shoulder and tucked the needle into his jacket pocket.

He walked confidently, whistling to himself, one hand grasped round the back of her thigh, holding her in place, her head and arms bouncing gently against his back as he walked. When people passed he smiled broadly, and those who cared enough to give him an odd look got an even wider grin as he patted her bottom.

"Can't hold her alcohol." Was all the explanation needed to set the nosy strangers smiling and laughing.

Gideon knew of one place and one place only in the city where the possibility of interruption was not an issue, and where - if this went wrong - noise and clean up would be no problem either. It pained him to go there, it cost more than it was worth, but he needed this place. Thalon's old apartments, in the lower basement of the abandoned old turkish baths.

He'd left here there, tied tight to a chair, bound in ways that would have given Houdini himself a hard time...and gagged as well. He might have taken a few liberties while she was out - namely taking more than his fair taste of her. Enough to keep her gentle and very, very weak when she awoke.

Left her and gone out to find the Roman bastard who got him into this mess in the first place.

Mesteno was headed for the Red Dragon, this time it was with good intent.

He had a mind to apologise for any possible offense because he couldn't clearly recall it all. Knew without a doubt that he and his brother had threatened one another, that he'd broken the Spaniard's nose in a predictable flare of fury. Beyond that, it blurred. Only some dark dealing with a devil in an alley, the Dreamwalker in the cross-hairs. That was probably the one thing he'd no intention of apologising for though. She had it coming.

The inn was a brightly lit becon ahead of him, and he extended the stride of coltishly lean legs on the approach, shoulders hunched down tight under the sheepskin lined aviator jacket he wore, collar upturned around his jaw. He so rarely took care in his appearance, and this particular night, he looked wind-rugged and shadowed about the eyes, the lingering effects of the chemical stupour he'd drunk himself into.

Gideon was waiting, lent there upon one of the columns that supported the porch, standing upon the first step, smiling expectantly. Flawless as ever in a coal black suit and shirt red as fresh blood upon the asphalt. Onyx tie, pinned in place with that favorite black pearl. A slow, thick cloud of smoke dripped, drizzled, poured from his mouth as he exhaled the last breath of a beloved cigarette and flicked the glowing ember of it's spent end aside.

He watched the Sadist's approach with an air of irritating patience, as if he'd known the other would be here just then. A foregone conclusion. He righted himself from his lean, tugged gently at the front part of his jacket and cracked neck from side to side.

"I have a present for you."

Mesteno couldn't help but resent how smoothly he operated, and did his best to look insouciant, neither particularly hopeful (though he was) nor alarmed, but he had the worst of poker faces and his mild incredulity didn't take much searching for. Nor the vague alarm that, if the bastard had succeeded, he was going to have to pay up. "This is some shitty payback for my little present, isn't it?" he asked, recalling the irritated phonecall he'd received earlier that afternoon. "You don't actually expect me to believe you've let True loose on Aoife already, do you? I don't see anything with you."

Admirably quick work, if so, he wouldn't be able to deny it. A few steps nearer, and he paused at the foot of the flight of steps leading up to the porch, scrutinising the vampire as if he expected to detect the lie on a face as free of age as a stone polished by the tides. It was going to be futile, he suspected. Why start lying now, after all?

"No." Gideon replied, with the tone one used when explaining the simplest of concepts to the very thickest, the very slowest of children. Down the steps he came, one by one, moving with an easy grace that made that suit deserve. No matter how fine his clothing, the outfit never wore Gideon. He paused upon the last step, a good head and shoulders above the Sadist and bent at the waist slightly. One hand reached out to touch his jaw, thumb settling upon his chin, then lifting higher to press the pillow of lower lip, plush it out around the pressure of it's pad, tug down slightly. He drew a slow breath. Mn. Perfect. Yes, that was why.

Mesteno knew better than to rise to Gideon's baiting, but guard against it though he might, he couldn't keep the hostility from those wolf's gold eyes. Couldn't hide the fact that the deliberate posturing there, the illusion of height made him want to tear him down and then kick him for good measure. He held his tongue, up until he took liberties in touch, that he would not tolerate whilst sober, nor until he'd been given what he was owed. The tug at the lower lip broadened the snarl which flashed the hard, white lines of even teeth, and the stubborn slant of his jaw, uncompromisingly angular, pulled him free. He didn't back up though. No giving ground to this particular night crawler.

Eyes left their study of that mouth to find the whiskey-amber of hateful eyes again.

"No. As...clever... as your little spider-trick was, this is not payback. This is what you wanted. And I've not involved True. He doesn't need to dirty his hands with your affairs." He let his hand drop, stepped down and around the Sadist, hands sliding into trouser pockets. "You don't expect me to show up on the steps of the Inn with her bloody body in hand like some spaniel bringing you your game?" He was already headed down the path. "Adveho per."

"Next time y'touch me without permission I'll break y'damn fingers," Mesteno warned, a futile threat but doubtless he'd try. "Involving True was your idea, not mine. And you agreed to this, remember? If the job was too much for you, you shouldn't have agreed to it. What's wrong, Gideon, your conscience troubling you?" he asked, turning to follow, a half pace back so that he could keep an eye on him. It was only sensible. That and he hadn't a clue where in Hell they were going.

"Promises, promises." Gideon bemoaned with a fox-sly smile slanted over one shoulder. Gideon was beginning to think that the Sadist might actually be all talk, no walk. And what a shame that would be. "You are all full up on assumptions tonight, hmn?"

Let the man follow along behind like a baby goose, what did he care? Gideon lead them both back into the city, through narrow streets and along broad cobbled thoroughfares, down into dank alleys. A path his feet knew too well. Like stabbing knives slowly into his own stomach, even walking this route brought back painful, hurtful memories. You'd never know it. Shoulders square, pace a rolling, nonchalant stroll.

"I told you I'd give you what you wanted, didn't I?" He paused before a large door made of wooden slats, it's high, arching surface now peeling with faded red paint. He pulled the thing open upon it's rollers for them both, waited for the Sadist to follow him inside and then shut it behind them before turning to head down into the gloom. The rooms around them were dark, their footsteps echoed against tiled floors, walls and ceilings, and here and there where slashes of moonlight or streetlamps striped surfaces they showed the porcelain gouged deeply with claw marks, left stained brown and black with long dried blood an gore. Gideon took no notice, moved easily through the mess, down a flight of stairs and into an antechamber.

The place stank of old death, of dessication, nothing Mesteno couldn't stomach easily, but the lack of anything fresher began to play upon his mind, had him feeling outwards with the metaphysical feel of a thousand tiny snake tongues, something that Gideon might well be sensitive being of a rather deceased nature.

"Gideon, what's going on here?" he asked bluntly

One doorway, then another, before they were inside the basement chambers where a fire burned in the hearth carved into the heart of stone that lie at the very center of the building, it's warm, flickering light licking at the room around it. The little Dreamwalker was sat there in a chair, still fast asleep, tied to it more securely and tightly than was necessary, a ball gag firmly wedged into her petite mouth, her head dropped upon one shoulder loosely.

After he'd spat a acidic line or two in his native tongue, Mesteno rounded on Gideon. "The f*ck is wrong with you? This isn't what we agreed on. Why in God's name is she still alive!?" he snapped, reaching to twist his fingers into the collar of that fine, red shirt. The dead man's turn, to be thrust up against the nearest wall. Mesteno could be so unpredictably quick.

Gideon didn't even make an effort to conceal his contempt as Mesteno exploded. His hands came up, open, unarmed, and one corner of his mouth tugged upward.

"She's still alive because I am not doing your fucking dirty work for you, mate." He replied matter-of-factly. Ice shards of pale eyes ticked over the other male's features under the weight of unadulterated judgement. Measured and found so wanting. "I want you to explain to me why you can't kill a little girl like that your self. Why you really want her dead. And if you have the fucking balls, then there she is..."

Eyes strayed to the unconscious Dreamwalker in question and he closed hands over Mesteno's wrists, pulled his hands sharply off of himself and his collar before pressing the hilt of a short, sharp knife into his palm.

"Kill her yourself, and I'll take care of the cleanup." He straightened his collar and smoothed his shirt, unperturbed. "Why in the hell would you think I'd murder someone just for a taste of you?" He asked pointedly, side-stepping the Sadist and moving toward Aoife. "Either you must think yourself extremely special - which you are not. Or you think I am extremely easy to manipulate, or I should say, easy to buy. Sorry to disappoint you in both cases."

It was shades of gray that Aoife remebered seeing first. Black and white existed as nothing but lofty ideals beyond her comprehension. Voices mingled, wove together and made no sense. First a breath perhaps, something deep to carry in the scent of damp must, a place forgetten beneath the ground. Beneath the ground it was a dark, dark place. A place with no windows and too many walls. Her lids felt heavy, weighted down, and the blink she attempted was too slow to be one. Her fingers flexed, then curled in like wilted flowers beneath the seat of the chair; and that was all she could move. This...was not good.

It appeared that Gideon’s tendency towards honesty had at last hit the proverbial bump in the road though, and in retrospect Mesteno supposed he ought to have known better than to take it for granted. What a fool the liquor made him. He might have laughed at Gideon for his demands had the situation not been so beautifully fucked up. The knife's hilt hit the flat of his palm, but no fingers came to claim it, and he cursed in the turning, put his back to the leech to stare at the bound girl in the chair.

"Useless fucking waste!" he spat, with enough vitriol that if words could burn... "You have no idea-- and now you've touched her." Were dead men as vulnerable to her as the rest of them? He hoped so. "You get nothing. Nothing but this. I don't kill people without good reason, who aren't a threat. That 'little girl' is one of them. I pray you suffer like the rest of us do."

Too late Mesteno realised her wakefulness, the flex of fingers. The leech couldn't even keep her unconscious effectively! He took a few steps towards the chair, let the anger burn and build in his gut, tried not to remember how earnest Salvador had been in claiming her. As far as Gideon's insinuations of manipulation, or that he might somehow think himself special, he made no reply. Insults could wait.

"I touched her a long time ago. It's brought me no harm." Gideon replied with a shrug, straightening the knot of his tie with a finger and thumb. "What is it about this particular little girl that scares you so shitless, Mesteno?"

Gideon was puzzled, one dark brow drawing down as its brother rose in bemusement, eyes ticking between the Sadist and the very securely bound fae. Aoife was the silent little wallflower who'd been so kind to Catlin, the only person aside from himself that that scrawny wretch had ever touched of his own volition.

"Oh look...she's coming round." He strolled toward the chair and its bound occupant, walked the arc of a half circle round behind it. "Should I just ask her myself why you want her dead? See what she has to say about it?"

Aoife's fingers flexed again, wrists learning the tightness of her bindings as they twisted. Gideon had tied them much too tight. Such pale skin screamed angry pink and soon would wail red. Of course, what happens after that is nothing aside from a mystery. The heavy blinking picked up to quick flutters, seconds of pause between each as her conscious returned. She lifted her head and sent a glassy eyed stare at Mesteno. He was standing right there you know. And what the fuck was in her mouth?

"Congratulations, you'd be about the only one!" Mesteno snapped. "Though fuck knows why she'd spare you, unless your mind's so fucking ugly she left it well alone." Of course he couldn't help but wonder whether this meant she could pick and choose whose dreams she travelled, whether Samiel had been right about her cunning. Briefly, so transiently that later he'd forget it happened at all, he considered telling Gideon the truth of it, reasoning with him, but warning him that the half-fae could steal a man's secrets this way, learn all his fractured facets, was probably only going to plaster a fanged smile on that handsome face and see the gag come away anyway.

"If you want too ask her, you will. I'm not going to entertain you by trying to convince you otherwise."

Gideon sighed and rolled eyes heavenward as he lent upon the back of Aoife's chair with one hand.

"You're missing the point. You aren't here to entertain me. I didn't do this for entertainment. I want you to explain to me what the fuck is going on with you and this girl...and your psychotic brother while you are at it. You've for some reason mistaken the fact that I can kill for the assumption that I will. And you barter your blood on it!"

He rose from his lean and came out from round the chair to claim a seat of his own, hands lacing themselves over the leanness of his stomach as he slumped backward comfortably. "I want you to convince me otherwise, and if you do? I'll happily finish what I started, if you cannot. I haven't broken my end of the deal, I've just negotiated the terms." Brows rose and he gave Mesteno a maddeningly brilliant look, an exaggerated 'aha!' moment. "Like you did!"

Aoife felt like she was trapped beneath a silver coated net cast by something that tasted foul and reminded her of a place that was a smudged memory. Her wrists twisted, bindings eating away at her sleeves and soon the tender skin beneath. Mesteno provided her with the perfect image to capture her focus. Did he feel it? All of that strange energy pulled into her center, rising to the surface? Morning mist gray shimmered glass, pupils nothing but pin pricks. But pin pricks bled black, slow and sure. Twist, twist went the wrists.

Almost, almost a shudder rocked Mesteno when the gag was left to stretch her pretty little mouth, but he wasn't about to give anyone the satisfaction of seeing that. Instead, he waited until Gideon was away from the chair, and approached it himself. There was no caution in him, she was harmless to him, outside of the dreamscapes they'd collided in, but he was oblivious to the energy. He reached to pry up one of her eyelids higher with the pad of a thumb, gauging the reflexes, estimating how much she could hear and make sense of.

"Shut up," he told the vampire, coolly, and for a moment it appeared he would finish her off and leave the dead man with the clean up, because men like him did not walk unarmed, and he'd his own knife, fitted neatly to his palm in a matter of moments. Not to slice her a red-wet smile, but to cut through the bindings at her wrists. He hoped it hurt when the feeling returned. "You're already proven I can't trust a damn thing you say. This is blackmail, not a f*cking deal."

Gideon sighed, let his head drop back against the chair he sat in. The very picture of exasperation.

"I have not, have never lied to you. I'm asking you to explain yourself."

He lifted his head again and rose as he watched Mesteno cut Aoife's wrists free, rising to his feet again, shoving hands deep into the pockets of dark trousers.

"You ask me to kill for you without question on explanation - and when I want more information, when I refuse to blindly do your bidding, I am the one who is untrustworthy?"

The edge of the blade was keen - better for flesh than rope - but its bite made quick work of the coarse fibres, sawing through with a few industrious motions to either side. It looked as if he meant to take her with him.

"You should've told me before now that you weren't satisfied with my reasons. I'd have found help elsewhere," Mesteno replied, growling it out in a low rumble between his teeth. "You're not satisfied with what I've told you, my blood is not currency enough and I can't afford to let you know more." He paused, a hand pressed to the chair arms to either side of the girl's hips. "That you fail to grasp such a simple fact really makes me wonder how you've survived this long. Consider yourself unemployed, if you wish."

When Mesteno reached she was already making a half hearted attempt at turning her head away. He recieved an eye full of too much white before she squinted at the touch and blinked heavily. Nothing behind that ball gag but silence. Once her wrists were free she flexed her fingers again, a repetitive motion...in out, in out, before those arms were moving up and up, such a slow process and the fingers reaching for the hands that were much to close. She was still staring, you know.

She wouldn't be staring for long. Because you know what is faster than a man, who - may be a necromancer and a whole lot of other indeterminable things? - A vampire. One second he was standing there, four feet or more away from the pair of them, the next second he was standing where Aoife and her chair had been, and she was sailing through the air to crash chair-back first against the far wall in an impact that shattered the wood to splinters and surely did her thin frame no favors. The sound of the crash itself was loud and sudden as a gunshot going off at close range.

Someone was done being reasonable. He caught the Sadist by the shirt and shoved, though he managed enough restraint not to fling him at the same velocity or strength he'd just put into tossing the girl.

"You stubborn, stupid, ignorant fuck. Operor vos postulo is in latin? Mos vos agnosco tunc?" He advanced a sharp step forward, that muscle in his cheek jumping hard as his jaw grit itself furiously. "I've trusted you. I am asking you to trust me. Stop being so goddamned mysterious and you'll get what you want. I'll take your blood, I'd rather have your fucking respect. If you are too thick or too stubborn or just too damned proud, then fuck it. I'll kill her and drop her body off at your brother's with a little card attached reading "With love from Mesteno."

Mesteno had been leaning on the arms of the chair. Should, by all rights have tumbled over face first with the knife skittering across the floor when it was torn from beneath him, but it said something of his reflexes that he kept his feet and was not simply stumbling like a drunkard into Gideon, when his shirt was snatched at. He'd no time to track where Aoife had been flung to, had the threat of a furious vampire shoving at him to contend with and it was only being spoken to in Latin that kept him from trying to shove that knife up under the vampire's ribs to wedge it somewhere dark and unbeating. Yes, Gideon. He did need it in his native tongue. Somewhere, beyond all the foul temper and violent tendencies, there was a sharp, intelligent mind at work, and the arm readying the thrust relaxed a fraction.

"Fine. Fine." Telling, that for once his pulse was not a snail's pace, but an aching, temple pounding drum, the rush of blood in his ears near deafening. "If you haven't killed her already..." But no. He tested for that, he'd have felt if she passed, he knew.
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Re: Karma

Post by Mesteno » Wed Oct 09, 2019 4:19 pm

[Continued...]

Time tick-tocked, like in a dream, but everything stood still. Just when Aoife started to break the surface of conscious, everything blurred together in a sunset on fire when the chair sailed through the air and crashed into the wall.

The impact stole her breath and rocked such intense pain through her chest before she tumbled to the stone floor in a heap of body and limb with twined rope trickling after. Shattered splinters rained down heavily on her still form, no more frail than the chair itself.

There was no passing. In fact, there was nothing. Such things take time for the mind to register before making themselves known.

"Bonus. Tunc sedo quod dico mihi quare." Gideon growled, retracting the hands that had shoved the roman and turning to prowl across the room toward the Dreamwalker and her still form.

He bent, pulled the tangles of ropes from her, cleared splinters away with a clatter, and fisted a hand in the back of her dress between her shoulder blades to lift her by, the rest of the shards of wood that lay across her falling from her form like bits of gruesome confetti as he drug her back toward Mesteno and the fireplace.

Mesteno left his clothing fist-bunched, hair in disarray, but the knife he slipped back into obscurity, a sheath hidden somewhere under the layers which swamped him. He watched with cautious, golden eyes as the splinters fell away from the limp girl, gauging the damage in the angles of her limbs for breaks, a subtle inhalation to check for the fresh welling of blood. It'd be a miracle if all that wooden shrapnel hadn't done her any harm.

"You've some idea of what she is," he stated, rather than questioned, "but I doubt you know what she's capable of. I used to fall for the whole simulacrum, too. Figured she didn't mean any harm, but when she's the cause of your lover bleeding out, when she slips into the heads of your friends and can do them physical harm - does it to you too, she becomes a threat. Aoife swore me to secrecy on what she can do, but that got revoked the minute she started doing harm just for kicks. She's a Dreamwalker, Gideon. Do you have any idea of the number of secrets she's stolen, while me and mine are out cold and can't keep her from seeing them? How she could undo us all?"

His voice was dangerously low, barely above a whisper, but vampires had sharp ears, right? "She even let her lover think we'd done her harm, so that he attacked us. She needs to go."

There was a very good chance that it was about to become quite tense in the next few moments. The vampire's careless disregard of the way he handled Aoife upset some of those splinters which had found their way through her dress and sweater and into her skin. How pretty it was when crimson welled to the surface, blooming like flowers in the pure white fabric. The scent was so much more in a room with little fresh air. And still, nothing from she who was such a threat except the rhythmic thump of her little heart they were both sure to hear.

“A Dreamwalker..." Gideon glanced down at the limp girl hanging from his grip, puzzle pieces fitting slowly together as he listened to Mesteno's accusations. He had - on the rare occasion - very rare occasion - that he dreamed, recalled one particular nightmare with Aoife's face oddly present in all the wrong places. He'd written it off as the pointless chance fabrication of the dream. Now...

He dropped the limp body between the two of them and knelt down to roll her over, straightening her face toward him, hand covering her jaw. He glanced up at Mesteno, brows furrowed. This one? This little thing? His attention slid back down and he shook his head slowly.

"If what you say is true, how can you be sure that killing her will fix the problem? What if it just keeps her locked there, where she can get at you in your dreams, always there, waiting?" The blood that spiked the air made no difference to him - he wasn't starving, not after he'd already had so much of her already.

Mesteno knew the scent of her blood more intimately than he should have, knew the richness of its flavour, and the scent of it had the capacity to be maddening. It'd been months. Gideon might not suffer as it bloomed ripely on skin and fabric, but the Sadist did, from a dozen or more blood debts left unpaid.

He watched the vampire, instead of the unconscious half-fae.

"Why don't you let me worry about that?" he suggested laconically, a hand absently grinding knuckles against his sternum, an anxious tell he hadn't even realised he possessed. "But I've given you my reasons. D'you deny I've got just cause to want her gone? Because if you're not going to pay up, you can just let me take her now. I don't want her running her mouth." Not around anyone, Gideon included.

"Fine." Gideon was not one to re-neg on an agreement, and he wasn't about to begin now.

He pulled the strap of the ball gag loose from its tuck just under her ear and drew the buckle open with a jerk and pulled the rubber ball from the gape of her mouth, tossing the little thing aside to bounce across the floor.

Fine. Relief trickled through Mesteno like ice water, and he took a step back as the ball gag came loose, the limp body drawn up from the sprawl.

Gideon took a grip of her arm and drew her up against his bent knee, gathered hair in one fist to tug her head to one side. Needle teeth sunk into the curve just under her ear and he pulled hard, swallowing slow, eyes slanting shut as the heat of blood washed over tongue and palate.

Mesteno would have left him to it then, if he hadn't been given food for thought by Gideon's questioning. Remaining to see the job done was somehow essential. Feeling a stab of guilt for depriving his brother of his little fuck toy was a small price to pay for keeping so many other people safe, yet it was never easy to watch a woman die. It wasn't in his nature to do them harm - another reason he'd had to resort to someone else doing it.

So he watched, face stony, and felt for the threads of her soul as the vampire fed, ready to snatch her up and destroy the parts of her which the physical death of the body wouldn't eradicate thoroughly enough for his liking.

What a hot mess. Even messier when Gideon removed the ball gag because that's when her busted little body decided to wake up. When he tugged her head to the side, her eyes popped glowing a brilliant bright blue. There was a sharp intake of breath when his teeth sank in and then she choked, spewing a mouthful of blood and saliva all over the side of his face. The arm that was not caught between them swung up and her fingers curled into claws, sharp nails intended to rake over whatever they met.

Lucky bitch. She found eyes, and the sheer surprise of that lifeless little body suddenly raking nails across his eyeballs was more than enough to jerk him backward with a shout of pain and surprise. "What the FUCK?!"

Was it surprising that the first thought to cross his mind was...If you want a job done right, do it yourself? The second was mild admiration for Aoife's survival instincts, the third, mourning for Gideon's pretty eyes. But vampires were quick healing, were they not? And this little show of ineptitude deserved punishment.

He said nothing, watched the pair without interfering because too close and he might fasten his own mouth over the puncture wounds in her throat.

"You shouldn't have done it," he told Aoife, now that she was conscious, able to focus on the words perhaps. He didn't mean strike Gideon. He meant the alley. He had promised her payback.

Gideon jerked back and Aoife fell right onto her ass, jarring her into another coughing fit. Somewhere in between that impact and fall she'd broken a few ribs, one of which found a niche in her lung; cue more blood to bubble up and spill over her lips. She'd already started an awkward back crawl away from Gideon, hands and arms pulling, heels pushing. No shoes for being a bittch, must have lost them somewhere. Her eyes snapped to Mesteno when he spoke, such a doe.

Mesteno knew better than to think her one. It was too late for the wide eyed vulnerability to stay his hand, and while Gideon recovered - such a disappointment (who was lacking now?) - he went after her. He was only a few feet away to begin with, and back-peddling was never the fastest form of retreat. Particularly not with an unnaturally quick creature like the necromancer stalking her now.

He was long limbed, strides eating up the distance and within less than a handful of seconds, he was stooping over her, wise enough to angle himself so she couldn't try any low blows, a palm pushing at her chest, just below the clavicle to try and pin her down. "You're not going anywhere," he told her flatly.

He had such pretty hair, so many tangles. He aught to take a brush to it more often as tangles created snarls which were perfect for little hands to sink into. He was stooping and she was already reaching for him, catching that autumn colored hair and yanking him much too close and pulling herself up to her knees and closer.

Her breathing was heavy, sweet smelling with her blood and delicious with fear laced adrenaline. She used her hold to pull him so close, close enough for her lips to smear a red streak from the corner of his lips to his ear. Oblivious to the amount of damage she'd managed to inflict on Gideon, Mesteno snatched at the Dreamwalker's wrists, trying to pull her hands from his hair (Her too? So many greedy fingers in this city.) The small, stinging pains of tugged roots were nothing, and he sank down over her like a vulture with its wings mantled. She whispered a secret, right there at his ear.

"Unstable dream, according to the place, be steadfast once, or else at least be true. By tasted sweetness make me not to rue the sudden loss of thy false feignèd grace. By good respect in such a dangerous case thou broughtest not her into this tossing mew but madest my sprite live, my care to renew, my body in tempest her succour to embrace." The poem was a melody without a song. Each word tumbled after the next and wrapped him in everything thing he ever wanted and more of her he wished he hadn't.

All Gideon could see was blinding white - and somehow it was more terrifying than pure darkness ever could have been. He ground the palms of his hands into his injured eye sockets. Aoife had raked nails clean across iris and cornea, dug them into the soft jelly orbs and severed nerves and blood vessels alike.

Gideon knelt on the floor, prone upon forearms, his face in his hands as he snarled unintelligible strings of profanities. Blood red streaks were beginning to seep back into the perfect white screen of his vision. Healing...but god it burned. Screw draining her. The second he could stand to move again, could thrash about blindly he would and once he had her in hand he'd break her against the floor like a china doll.

That melody of Aoife's made such little sense to a mind full of violence, but it was so personally intended that Mesteno could not help but listen.

"Shut the f*ck up!" he demanded of her, interrupting because instinct told him he had to, yet she'd more words than he and he felt them seep into the metal of his mind like the heaviest of soporifics, like long slow breaths of isoflurane under a mask, bleeding all the way down until it seemed to sink into the marrow of his bones and take hold. He tried to snap his head back and away, refusing her trickery, fumbling a hand to her mouth, but where was his coordination? He fought against her sleep singing, but an undefended mind like his was doomed to lose, before long.

It was much more intimate than their time together in that seedy hotel room. He was going to remember it and want more. That's just how good it was, how good she was.

"The body dead, the sprite had his desire, painless was th'one, th'other in delight. Why then, alas, did it not keep it right, returning to leap into the fire? And where it was at wish, it could not remain, such mocks of dreams they turn to deadly pain." When he pulled she went with him, fingers too far deep in his hair.

Where she was normally cool, shades than others...like his brother, she was warm. Hot. Blazing. That energy filled the windowless cavern, throbbing as it pulled the Sadist deep into arms he would never fall into otherwise. Highland lilt danced around the words, made promises in the dark, and stole into his mind. Sleep.

Gideon knew something was going on nearby. The muttering of words, Aoife's voice. More goddamned words than he'd ever heard her string together before...and Mesteno demanding her silence, then nothing but silence of his own as her words continued. All of this draining in through the filter of the screaming pain of his face. The gouges she'd made in his flesh had sutured cleanly, quickly. Eyes were more complicated things - took longer.

Everything was hazy, swimming crimson now, the searing burn of it enough to make him keep his lids shut tight. He struggled up from forearms and reached out, swung in a mad arc, seeking...seeking... The scent of her was everywhere thanks to all the blood she'd coughed up, spit all over.

There was a tremor through the taut muscle of Mesteno's frame, evidence that he was trying to resist whatever preternatural gift it was she wove to so thoroughly smother his drive to remain conscious. He didn't want to sleep. No, he did. He wanted whatever that siren's song was offering, even as instinct denied him.

Then the choice was torn from him. He collapsed with a groan, fell at an angle to tumble more beside than atop her, the gold of his eyes vanishing behind the drowsy droop of his eyelids. Funny, how their roles had been so reversed.

It was amazing she was able to hold onto the words, the notes to a song that wasn't, as long as she did without coughing up more on Mesteno. Her lungs screamed, her fingers ached, and when he finally fell everything that she was froze and let him. She remained there on her knees, white dress stained with blood, arms limp at her sides and sweater askew on her shoulders. When her head tipped back and she stared up. It didn't matter that either wouldn't be able to see what swam in the depths of her eyes, that was a secret she would never share with anyone.

The moment was just a moment and passed too quick before she doubled over in a fit of coughs, spray spattering a sleeping Sadist. He was going to smell just wonderful. Lifting her right forearm to press against her mouth, she curled the left about her chest and teetered to stand. Her eyes were wild, darting about to many places at once.

There were no windows and one door and she was stumbling toward her only salvation. Once upon a dream she'd been here and memory served her well for once, a shattered piece left unbroken. Someone once said that parting was such sweet sorrow. Sweet sorrow disappeared.

[End scene.]
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Re: Karma

Post by Mesteno » Wed Oct 09, 2019 4:50 pm

[Adapted from live play with Gideon. Continues directly from the previous scene.]

April, 2012

The sweep of Gideon's hand came up empty, and he could hear when she was gone, the soft gurgle of her breath disappeared, the hammer of her heart no longer echoing inside his own brain. Gideon fumbled, stumbled on bended knee and sat back, waiting for sight to return, listening the the quiet sound of Mesteno practically snoring on the floor somewhere nearby. Feet flat on the floor, he drew knees up, let arms dangle over them, eyes shut tight. Soon enough the crimson bloom of blood faded into deep black, and then again to red as the flickering light of the fireplace played against his shut lids. He was very nearly terrified to try opening his eyes, half convinced he was well and truly blinded forever.

He steeled himself and blinked, then again, rapidly, and opened eyes. The world swam slightly and new retinas stung like salt tossed into a wound, but he could see, could make out everything more clearly by the second, from the failing, dying fire to the sprawl of Sadist sleeping peacefully upon the floor. Gideon rocked forward, rolled up onto one knee and reached out to grasp one of the man's shoulders and shake him.

"Mesteno? Get up."

Mesteno hadn't known the wench was capable of singing a man to sleep, of making him want it, her - all that dreamy power that bled out in the words she'd crooned by his ear. In retrospect he was lucky she hasn't stuck around to finish him off while he couldn't prevent it, because he really was vulnerable sprawled out there, one cheek flat to the floor, hair spread out, vivid red as a gunshot wound from the head, one arm trapped beneath his chest just as he'd fallen. Had it been a natural sleep, he'd have been as still as a dead man, his respiration so infrequent he might have passed for a corpse, but he'd only slipped lightly into Morpheus' arms. Easy to wake, shaken into stirring.

He hadn't looked peaceful, toppled there. Not harmless, and certainly not innocent as a babe the way some did, but a little of the machismo had bled away, left him a little less hawkish than he did conscious. It all came crawling back on a scowl as he woke, fingers flexing ineffectually against the filthy floor, a slight curl to his upper lip that was more grimace than snarl, and the eye visible beneath the bloody mane of his hair flashed thin and golden through the narrow crack he opened it.

Gideon. That woke him more hastily, that and the sudden, sledgehammer realisation that someone else should have been there with them.

"She's gone, hasn't she?" he asked dully.

"Afraid so." Gideon admitted, reaching forward as if he'd slide a hand under the cheek that pressed itself to the dust and dirt of floor, act as pillow and help him rise. The baleful glare of that slice of amber eye through the spill of blood-gold hair stopped him though, curled fingers in as a fist as he drew back, rose to his feet, then held that hand down to help the other up.

There was nothing elegant about the slack-limbed movements with which he worked his way to hands and knees (unsteady enough to show that he was having some trouble shaking off the effects of the Dreamwalker's song) but the way he contemplated Gideon's hand before reaching for it was proof enough that he took the assistance not because he needed it, but because he was being civil. Upright, with knees locked and his eyes still unfocussed, he attempted to assess the state of Gideon's eyes without having to squint.

"Can't believe this..." he was muttering, smearing the hair back from his brow, temper frayed but impotent for now, too subdued by drowsiness to be vicious. "Did you see her go? I need to catch up to her. After this...she's going to f*cking ruin me. And you too."

Gideon kept hold of Mesteno's hand as the other man wavered on his legs before they locked, his other hand cupping round his elbow lightly. The brilliant glacial blues of Gideon's eyes were fine, only the smears of blood black tears under lids and across cheeks, clumping lashes together stickily, spoke of the damage they had just healed from. The crystalline ice-shards themselves gave no indication of permanent damage, nor of anything aside from resolute perfection.

"See her go?" He repeated in disbelief, "No I'm afraid I couldn't see her go. I couldn't see anything until a second ago." He nodded toward the smattering of a blood trail leading toward the only door out of the caverous basement. "She shouldn't be hard to track though."

To his credit, Gideon bit back the comment that, outside of blinding him once more, what else could he possibly have to fear from the girl? She couldn't charm him and he fairly never had dreams for her to come a-haunting. Instead he just shook his head.

"She's not going to ruin you. We'll find her."

It was difficult to glower effectively when Mesteno resembled a man coming round from a rough anaesthetic, pupils stretched broad one moment and narrow as a pin-head the next. He tried though, because he'd no idea how long he'd been asleep, nor what might have happened during that time.

"Figured you'd heal faster'n that," he confessed, a near-drunken slur to the words. "I didn't think she'd actually be able to do you any physical harm."

She was too delicately made to be a threat that way, and Gideon usually so quick! She'd done quite the number on his eyes though, if the blood making spikes of his lashes were anything to judge by, the streaks marking his cheeks like misery's theatrical mask. Startlingly dark under eyes that blue.

"You should get cleaned up, Gideon," he told him bluntly, and there was something about that curt suggestion that made it sound as if he were giving him a reprieve, letting him out of their dealing even if it had gone so very, very wrong. There was only one door to leave by, and he made for it, though he'd only the trail of her blood to keep him from getting lost. Breadcrumbs of the kind he could follow with his nose as much as his eyes. Slow going, when his limbs felt so leaden.

"And why not? You've done me more than enough physical harm to know I am perfectly capable of it." Gideon gave the Sadist an unamused look from under dark brows, and reached to take Mesteno's jaw in hand, to steady it and get a better look at the way his eyes kept changing disconcertingly. The other pulled, turned away before he had a chance, though, and he let his hand fall to his side as he followed along behind Mesteno, his other held out, but not touching, waiting to either catch the man if he fell back or give him a nudge if he wobbled too far off center. "I'm fine." Just as clipped. "Look, will you just sit down for a second? If you go out on the street alone like this you are going to end up pitching in front of a car or something and getting run over, or else you'll make good pickings for a gang of idiots out looking for drunks to rob. Just take it easy till you get your bearings."

He steered the Sadist toward a chair, and gave him a gentle push sideways into it, just enough of a nudge to help him sit the f*ck down. He scrubbed thoughtlessly at cheeks with the cuffs of his dark coat, only making more of a mess of things.

"Figures you'd class me 'n her as the same," Mesteno muttered, as if he were insulted that he'd been grouped with so fragile a creature without any distinction. "I am a little more capable, you know. When she's not fucking with my head, anyway."

Judging by the ease with which he wound up steered into a chair though, crumpling into it with a grunted exhalation, he really wasn't in any condition to go hunting just yet, even if Aoife might be crawling further away as they spoke. Slumped against the chair's back, coltish limbs in the kind of ungainly sprawl that made them an unintentional trip-hazard, he watched as the dead man made a futile effort to clean himself up, and the smearing mess was somehow inappropriately amusing to him while he was addle-brained, because his laughter came out a hushed thing, breathy.

"Aside from the fact you are both living, breathing and bleeding I certainly do not class you the same. You are no more like her than a hawk is like a raven." Gideon knelt by the chair's front, hands sliding out to rest upon the carved wooden finials of armrests as he gazed up at the somewhat senseless, tipsy man, dark brows drawn together. Odd that this little soporific spell of hers held on so long, had such strong after-effects. His gaze fell however, and his face tightened at the chiding, and he withdrew, rising, backing up a pace or two to cross arms over his chest, looking sullen, scolded.

"Ooooh Gideon...what a mess she made of you. You really are terrible at this." Without specifying what 'this' was. "I shouldn't have asked you to get involved. I'm sorry. I never realised you'd need a damn reason. Oh...and you're making it worse. S'like the way kids apply camo when they play war games." The Sadist was always so charmingly honest, wasn't he?

"So I've heard." The vampire replied tenebrously to the accusation that he was a miserable, well, whatever. Or perhaps just miserable at carrying out the duties of an executioner. "You might give me a little credit. I doubt very much you've ever done anything for anyone else without knowing why, for whom, how much, and what for - especially when spilling blood was involved."

He slumped back against the wall in a slouch of a lean, eyes still stuck hard upon the floor before him, expression void of its usual dry mirth and sarcastic, smirking grin. Amazing how hollow features looked without their customary mask of devil-may-care. He looked physically pained that Mesteno actually apologized for asking for his help. Stung deeply.

"You make a hell of a lot of assumptions, you know that? Especially for someone so eager not to be taken for granted." Mesteno's mental guarding was precisely nothing, Aoife's song so deeply effecting that he could have gone back to sleep again in that chair, had it not been for present company. Gideon seemed disinclined to do him harm, which surprised him (and yet didn't, somehow) but that didn't mean it was wise to assume the vampire would act predictably. Not after the trick he'd pulled to lure the truth out of him.

"Well, you'd be wrong," the necromancer went on. "Y'care enough about someone, trust them, you'd be surprised how far you'd go for them without needing to know the details. Some friends are just worth that. Some folks y'stick your neck out for...pardon the pun." Unintentional, and in bad taste. After a moment he folded his hands around the ends of the chair's arms and pulled himself further towards the seat's edge, relying on his spine to keep him upright.

"It's fine though, y'barely know me beyond wanting to hurt you, so you've no reason not to ask. Come here." He peeled a hand up off the wood and gestured, prodding downward with a pointing index finger to the spot in front of the chair again where he'd been stood before he retreated. Through concerted effort, he was managing to stare without his vision swimming dizzyingly in and out of focus. "You look miserable." As if that had anything to do with it.

Gideon arched a brow at that whole summation. The pun wasn't all that poor in taste, and as a matter of fact that the Sadist thought it so seemed to amuse the vampire slightly. He regarded the invitation - well, demand really - to come closer warily, though he did as he was bade, recrossing to the chair with slow steps to sink down into a crouch before it, dark head tilted back to look up at the other, expression carefully kept blank, though eyes studied the other with something of distrust swimming in their cold depths. Fool me once, shame on me...

"I don't know you, and I wouldn't say you'd call me friend...but I did not mean to make things worse for you. I had every intention of killing the girl, I just wasn't willing to play your puppet, or your dog, to do your bidding without just cause. I will help set this right, though." He promised, the tell of a hard muscle thumping within the leanness of one cheek as he toyed with the wooden finial of one arm of the chair, tracing intricate carving mindlessly with fingers and the fall of icewater eyes.

"Ego sum rumex. Indulgeo mihi."

"Hardly surprising. I was f*ckin' plastered when I asked you to," Mesteno reminded. "If I'd been right in the head I might have expected you'd need more reason than a little baiting to do it." Though he had thought on that later, wondered at the value of blood when there was so much of it to be had.

"Ego cogitare de." He replied, rather more smoothly than his English had sounded, not entirely wry. Gideon's indulgent behaviour was incentive enough to keep him that way for a little while longer, so there was no trickery when he lifted a hand, forearm perpendicular so that a brief shake dropped the sleeves of sweater and coat further down his wrist, kept the fabric out of the way as he used the side and base of his thumb to more effectively clean away the smeared mess from the vampire's cheek. An inch or so higher and the threat of a nail blinding him again would have been very real, but Mesteno's were kept short and blunt, and he was frowning as he worked, with the same sort of avid concentration a child might show over a math problem. Blood would be blood, never coming away clean without a little wet, but he didn't make him suffer the indignity of a licked thumb.

"You don't need to help anymore," he went on. "You were probably right when y'said I was too frightened to do it myself earlier. S'more honourable if y'leave the job to me. Close your eyes." So demanding! One hand rested beneath his jaw, ready to tilt his head this way and that, the other, the pad of the thumb clean enough, waiting for lids to lower.

Gideon tensed as Mesteno touched him, the subtle lift and tightening of his entire frame imperceptible to the observation of most...and though he relaxed gradually, the tension still ran through him like electricity through a wire. He submitted to being cleaned without question. Though he could not see himself , he could feel the sticky mess black blood made upon his face. Cool gaze watched the amusing amount of concentration that sculpted the other's features, only shifting away when he was bade to close eyes and did so unquestioningly, reaching to curl a hand round one of the knees beside him for balance.

"Haud. Ego have no res peior. Ego mos succurro si ego vires." He murmured. "Besides. Someone is going to have to stop your brother trying to murder you after it's all said and done."

Eyes closed, and not clawed through this time, he could relax a bit, feel and sense the rooms around them, smell that familiar scent of the place curling up nostrils, dust-laden though it might be. The crackle of the fireplace was the same white nose that had always had a hushed hold over the cavernous basement. It was discomforting, like the sensation of a old wound running deep that ached at the threat of rain. It had been a mistake to come here, to bring strangers. His hands tightened, on the arm of the chair and the knee of the other male.

"My brother and I can handle things between ourselves. You got any idea how much he'd mock me for needing back up?" Mesteno asked, absently wondering whether Gideon had ever had a brother..a sibling that hadn't been Kestrel.

Gideon's caution was to be expected, but when he so trustingly closed his eyes he couldn't help but frown over how quickly he'd been lulled. Mesteno had the capacity to be particularly cruel, felt it almost necessary that he remind him of that somehow, but instead he ran the pad of his thumb beneath the prickling eyelashes, lifting the blood away from them with care taken not to push too deeply into their roots and make sore what must still have hurt, been tender. It showed rather effortlessly that he had the capacity to be gentle, even if he refrained from showing it often. Rough as a barn door, Ailis had called him, and he'd laughed. True enough most of the time. His knee was a particularly angular region, a bony jut which made for a good handhold, but when Gideons hand tightened over it, he let his heel scrap over the dusty floor, stretched the limb out to sink the knee from his grasp as if he were wary of damage. Was, in fact - lead piping would do that to a man.

"What is it?" he asked, manouvreing his head to the side so he could tidy up the opposite eye in the same manner as the first. "You hear something I don't?"

"Old ghosts." Came Gideon's reply, velvet of voice made somehow different through a throat that closed in on itself with the words. "Will you be ok to walk soon? I want to leave here."

Blunt, blatant honesty. The best way to avoid too many questions in his experience. Let people think what they wanted, give them enough bricks to build their own imaginary castles with, and they'd leave the truth well enough alone. Mesteno was uncommonly gentle, and the sensation of being touched somehow only added to his unease, when usually he craved such things. He consciously loosened his grip upon the other's knee as that leg pulled itself away, and slanted one eye open.

"As for your brother, from the way he was shouting you down the last time I saw him, I would have thought that his ridicule would be the least of your worries if he finds out you have tried to or succeeded in murdering his favorite fuck toy."

Gideon had no siblings, birth-related or blood born anymore, and Kestrel hardly counted. The treacherous, nihilistic whore gone to her end without so much as a single tear shed to mourn her passing. No, Gideon had no idea what it was to have a brother or sister, to grow up together or grow apart or share that odd, love-hatred adult siblings nurtured for each other.

Old ghosts could have meant many things, restless souls or unwelcome memories being the most obvious, and though he might have reached out and checked for the former, he hadn't the energy for such work, and like Gideon would rather have been out of the basement. It was time to get back to the street, follow the stale blood stains to a half-broken fae child.

"You're about as tidied as you're gonna get without washing," Mesteno told Gideon, and perhaps it was the fact that the blood wasn't pure - had run with the eye's jelly that put him off tasting what he'd wiped away, because he wiped his hands clean on the thighs of his jeans brusquely. Those who knew him better might have realised he was honouring their deals though. Gideon's blood wasn't his to toy with, nor taste. Rather than push the vampire back to make space, he pushed the chair as if from out beneath the table, and made damn sure that when he stood, it was without a tremor to his limbs, no tell tale weakness that might see him needing assistance.

"I don't worry about getting hurt," he told him, shaking his sleeve back down a scar-wrecked wrist. "It's only a brief inconvenience. I don't like being mocked though - come on, you need to go first, I have no idea how we got down here," he admitted, craning his neck to peer around the firelit room more attentively. He really should have taken more care upon entering. "What is this place?"

"Gratias ago vos." Gideon replied quietly in thanks to the effort to make him at least mildly more presentable. An odd thing for the Sadist to do- but perhaps he'd puzzle over it later at his leisure.

"Nihil laboris est," Mesteno admitted, because it hadn't been. In fact it had been more tactile than he'd been with a great many people of late, and he'd probably wind up at home questioning how low he'd sunk to be light handed with a creature he'd spent so long trying to harm.

For now Gideon rose smoothly, watched the other take his feet and test them. Much better than before. He led the way past the chair they left behind toward the near wall and opened the door that lead to a workroom, and beyond it one that lead to the stairs that went up through the abandoned baths. Shoulders inched up toward ears at the question.

"It used to be an old turkish bath, the apartments below were originally for the bath's fire keeper and caretaker. I know this place because long after the baths dried up I knew someone who lived down here." He ran fingers over one of the long, deep gouges in decorative tiles. Cruel claw marks, dried blood making the curving path of their lines all the darker and more sinsister. "With his Cour'ii." He murmured. As if that explained anything. He shook it off, lead them through the mess of the mouldering baths and pulled open the large slatted wood door out onto the street.

"It doesn't matter. It was somewhere safe once. I don't know why I picked it. Just stupidity I guess." Far too brusque, too willing to flippantly insult himself. Gideon was, for once, uncomfortable within his own skin, and it was quite a thing to see the brat prince fairly squirm. He nodded toward the faint path of blood droplets smattering cobblestones and brick walls. This way.

Mesteno trailed in Gideon's wake, steady enough now though not as quick of reflex as he normally was. He was however, just as sharp to catch the nuances of behavior, that little tell-tale hunch of shoulders, the absent recollection and then the immediate dismissal.

"Quid? Cour'ii? Quis hoc fecit?"

And so it began. Gideon fed him the merest scraps of a tale and he was digging for more as if he'd a right to it. That last question came as he saw Gideon examining the markes gouged into the tile - probably more a 'what' than the 'who' he'd asked. He didn't loiter behind him for too long though, because he never truly forgot that they'd a Dreamwalker to chase. Sliding back into common (he was more accustomed to interrogation in that tongue) he worried at the subject like a dog refusing to let go its grasp on a favoured toy, almost as if he intended to provoke the vampire's temper with the relentless stream of questions.

"Why were they living down here? How did you know them? They're dead now...aren't they?" There had been too much devastation, too much sign of damage (blood, gore) for survivors to have been likely.

Gideon ground the ivory of teeth against one another at the sudden onslaught of questions, and that tell of a muscle jumped out hard as he passed under a streetlight, tracking the sometimes faint, sometimes nonexistent trail of blood without even really needing to try.

"Cour'ii. Something like a cross between the nightmare of an enormous cat, a dragon, and a stoat. That was the what. It belonged to the man who lived there, and lived there because...well, you saw it. Safe, quiet, below ground, always hot. Like home for him, I guess." He shrugged, trying his damnedest to feign indifference when the questions kept dragging him deeper into the memories he'd hoped to leave behind along with the abandoned building. He almost laughed at the suggestion they might be dead. Almost. It was the most mirthless sound a man could have made and called it laughter still.

"Dead? I don't know. But if that is the case they didn't die there. All that..." He waved an absent hand back behind himself as if to indicate the blood, gore, the wanton damage to the bath's large street-level rooms, "...that was from the Cour'ii. Enjoying lunch or a snack or some such. Not a fight, just a messy eater. Liked the guts everywhere."

Indeed, it was only that upper level where the Cour'ii had made its nest that there was such destruction, the lower, cave-like, subterranean basement was neat as if someone had just walked away from it, save for the thick layer of tell tale dust it looked well and truly as if any moment now someone might return to the place to take up life as they had left it. Six years or more ago. Not a thing out of place, not a single item disturbed, save no for the splinters of a chair against one wall and the smouldering embers of a fire burning low in a hearth keeping the ghosts of those lonesome chambers company.

The only question he ignored was how he knew the man who owned that beast, hoping it would pass unnoticed.
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Re: Karma

Post by Mesteno » Wed Oct 09, 2019 5:09 pm

[Continued...]

"Sounds like a Hell of a guard dog to have," Mesteno remarked, imagination feverishly at work as he attempted to picture the chimeric mess that a Cour'ii must have been. Gideon had given him no indication of size to work with, but given the mess, its power must have been formidable.

His knowledge of this area of the city was so beyond poor that he'd no idea if there were any convenient bolt holes, so like Gideon he followed the scent, sight sharp enough to detect the garnet-dark glisten of blood on the asphalt and paving, able to distinguish between it and the stagnant puddling of rainfall without any trouble at all.

"Was it a pet, or protection?" he asked, and there was some small measure of amusement to his tone that had no business being there, because he was perfectly aware of Gideon's unease whenever it reared its head. It'd been frequent this evening, unmasked by any carefully engineered, dangerous charm, and the Sadist was using the time well, for who knew how long the unlikely pair would remain allies, if and after they found the Dreamwalker?

"And its Keeper...you never mentioned how you knew them. Why skip that part - it's not like I can do any harm knowing, is it?"

The past could do harm though, Aoife was living proof of that, so he half-suspected Gideon would keep his fanged mouth shut, save it for another time like unintentional bait. Briefly, he paused, glancing away down an alley as if he'd reason to think the girl had gone that way, the angular jut of his stubborn jaw lifted as he scented the air. It was blood...but not hers. Someone else's kill waiting to be cleaned up by the local wildlife.

Gideon nodded his head curtly in agreement. Why the hell should the Sadist care? Curiosity for curiosity's sake was not part of his usual surly personality. He shot the man a sharp glance, cold eyes ticking over him in undisguised displeasure.

'More like a familiar. And his keeper is none of your damn business." Eyes closed as he drew a breath, released it in a soft hiss between clenched teeth, and attempted to regain the easy, slick charm that usually had everything rolling off of him like water off a duck's back. He was failing miserably. "His keeper...doesn't matter. Harm or no, there's no point in talking about it..."

He glanced upward and cursed quietly. Fat, heavy raindrops were beginning to fall, and either the Dreamwalker was smarter than she looked, or else she was suffering some kind of hallucinations due to the combination of blood loss, injury, and drugs. The trail was winding round and round through narrow alleys, criss-crossing itself and doubling back again. Five more minutes when the storm that was rolling in began in earnest and any hope of following her via scent was going to be hopeless.

Mesteno didn't like gaps in his knowledge, nor failing to understand what made people tick, and as far as mysteries were concerned Gideon was still a huge one. Admittedly, one that he'd been willing to burn without a scrap of guilt a few weeks ago, but the matter of a few days could change a man's perceptions a great deal.

"Easy there, Tiger." Tone condescending, with a touch of relish he didn't bother to disguise. "I was just making small talk." It was a terrible lie, obvious, and he hadn't even bothered to try and kick the dirt over it particularly well to hide it. "Every man's got some things it hurts to talk about, you don't have to pretend you're invulnerable just because you've a reputation to protect."

Gideon might well be smart enough to pick up on the manipulation, because Mesteno's choice of words were not accidental. Keep him talking and he might reveal more. Insinuate he hurt, when he didn't want to admit it did, might make him confess things out of pride! Mesteno preferred interrogation of a more physical kind, but he was not unaccustomed to word games, either. The rain fell heavy, noisy on the rough, old leather of his jacket, but he didn't curse as Gideon had, only looked resigned. It had to happen. So much for we'll find her. He laughed, low and wry.

Again came that wary, openly distrustful cut of eyes. Gideon breathed a laugh.

"Reputation?" His intonation was incredulous. "Is that the best you can do?"

Who other people thought he was mattered very little to Gideon, outside of the protective shell that they did not realize him for what he was. Mesteno had known exactly his nature the first time they'd met, and yet had never tried to out him to any of the inn's other denizens. Not directly, at least. It earned him a minuscule level of trust. Either way, whatever he thought of Gideon personally hardly mattered to the vampire. He'd learnt long ago that it was far easier to have people hate you than to waste time and energy convincing them to like you - especially when liking yourself was usually a prerequisite. What airs he put on, what charm he assumed were all tools of the trade, requirements to stay hidden, stay safe.

"I'll tell you what. You tell me all your dark, painful secrets. Tell me all the awful parts of your past, and I'll tell you mine. Fair's fair, hmn?" Ante up, assh*le. Gideon's cheshire grin flashed in the gathering gloom before he turned to lead them out of the maze of alleys they had worked their way into. He paused as they passed the slatted red door to the abandoned Turkish baths, seemed to think better of whatever he was considering, and moved on.

"In the mean time, where do you think Aoife would go to lick her wounds? You clearly know her better than I do."

Mesteno travelled uncomplaining at the vampire's side, though the longer the rain fell, the more futile it became. He used the backs of his knuckles to smear one lucky drop from his cheekbone irritably, but otherwise seemed careless of the soaking he was about to get. It liked to rain on him. Samiel would have been cursing up a storm.

"So you admit it was dark, painful and awful?" he asked, and the resignation gave way to the touch of a razorblade smile. "Sounds like you have a habit of getting into situations like that. Kestrel, your unintentional progeny, this guy...You're starting to sound like a regular, tortured soul."

Truly, what did Gideon know about him? Nothing. Mesteno on the other hand seemed to know enough to tip the scales, with only Aoife's advantage of him something that the vampire might gloat about.

"As for Aoife, there was this cheapass, by the hour hotel she and Judah dragged me to once. Or the shitty little apartment. I doubt she'd be fool enough to go running home. Even busted up as she was, she'd expect us to go looking for her there." His feet slowed at a junction, neck craned and eyes narrowed as he peered off down the length of the next, murky alley.

"You can call it a night. Might as well go lounge in the inn a while and look pretty..." You're good at that. Implied. yet not spoken.

"No, it was all fucking wine and roses and rainbows coming out a unicorn's arse." Gideon replied snarkily to the Sadist's observation. "I'm just sparing you all the beautiful details so you don't vomit from an overdose of warm, fuzzy feelings."

He grudgingly listened to Mesteno tick off his list of recent misadventures, sharp teeth baring themselves in what might very well be termed disgust. He covered the expression admirably with an uptilt of one corner of his generous mouth.

"What can I say? If there's a pile of shit lying around, odds are I'll step in it." He glanced at the Sadist and waved a hand in a gesture of clear indication. Exhibit A.

He made a moue of disappointment that the odds of ferreting out the Dreamwalker seemed to be whittling away quickly. Never mind, she could go to ground but she couldn't stay there forever. Perhaps they just needed to find the right bait to lure her out again. From what he'd heard so far, a helpless, senseless Mesteno seemed to be her favorite snack. The idea wasn't half enticing, he had to admit. And yes, he was eying the Sadist like a man considering a perfect steak dinner, luxuriating in wondering where to take a bite of first.

"Oh, I'm being dismissed now?" Dark brows rose at the flippant brush-off. "Look, your little fae can't hurt me. I don't dream. If she's coming after anyone it'll be you, and I'll be fucked if she manages to kill you before I get the taste I was promised." He looked as if the very idea of such a thing was so intrinsically wasteful it could be classified as a sin. The rain was falling hard now, sheeting down. He seemed completely unaware of it, of the way dark hair plastered down, sent rivulets across his face, clumping dark lashes round the cold fire of eyes as his clothes soaked and stuck to him, the blood red of his shirt gone black with wet.

"If you're going to shuffle me off to the inn, then come along and let me buy you a drink, er...bottle... for the trouble tonight. It wasn't exactly how I pictured this ending up."

Mesteno's snort was rather more amused than his wry laughter earlier. Gideon and his shit-stomping had tickled his humour. What killed it, rather efficiently was the way Gideon eyed him after, and he'd plenty of intimate experience with blood lust to recognise when he was being looked at as if he were edible.

"You do realise you ate already," he told him with grim practicality. He'd had his fangs in Aoife's neck not so long ago and that girl tasted sweet as sin. Dinner was an apt name for her, whereas Mesteno looked more like the type to dine while he was being dined upon, conjuring up the ancient image of the snake eating its own tail. "Besides, you changed the rules, remember? You said you'd do it if I told you why, that whole 'think you're special' speech you gave me?"

And down came the rain. It saturated his hair, made it so heavy it hung like a dark river over his back and shoulders, and he let his eyes hood to guard them from the downpour while the rest of him soaked carelessly, denim clinging for an uncomfortable chafe, sweater clamped to the greyhound curve of broadly made ribs. He hadn't bothered to fasten his jacket, and there was no point now. The notion of a drink was tempting even if he had barely recovered from the last hangover, and he looked away from the drenched vampire and those arctic eyes towards the alley again, uncertain.

"Too late to call off the hounds?" he asked, flicking a look back to him without a great deal of hope.

"Ah, see - you misunderstood me. I was adding to your debt, not erasing it. I was asking for justification, not negating payment." He replied with a shrug of his shoulders, giving the Sadist a thin smile. "Although at the rate I'm going, it hardly looks like you'll ever have to worry about me being able to cash in that offer."

Perhaps Gideon's palette had been adulterated, turned too finely to recognize what other's found so appealing about Aoife and her blood. He'd had True. No fae could ever compare to that orgy of a harvest feast that ran through the changeling's veins. Comparing his blood to Aoife's was the difference between the finest slice of Kobe beef and a fairly decent slab of prime rib. Both delicious, but one head and shoulders above the other. The girl was, after all just some hybrid half-fae, not a perfect mix of the seelie and unseelie high courts. Forbidden fruit.

"Never too late." He said amiably, and turned to pick up the pace through the driving rain, taking all the shortcuts possible in the direction of the inn.

"Should've known," Mesteno muttered sullenly, and the smile was one which he did not return, no matter how thin. He allowed Gideon a few steps ahead of him through the miserable sheets of ceaseless rain, then lifted a hand to turn up the collar of his jacket around his throat as if to keep further hungry looks from finding anything appetising. Not that he need worry. As bedraggled as he was likely to end up looking, he was going to look less like beef and more like catfood, where presentation of the meal was concerned anyway.

Thereafter he followed, victim to the lure of his own vices and truly, if he didn't wish to remain lost all evening in the rain, he had no choice but to follow the vampire. Long legged as he was, it was easy to keep pace, to catch up even, and this time, instead of lagging a half step behind, he seemed to have demoted the threat his company represented, because he walked beside him without so much as a wary, side-flung glance as he aligned.

"I'll let you know then, if I find her and take care of things myself. Try and keep you from stepping in anymore shit, hmm?"

"Yes, because giving you the satisfaction of being able to lord your successful kill over me would certainly save me a load of trouble." Gideon replied with a laugh as he tugged loose the sodden knot of his tie, pulled the silk from round his throat and wrapped the thin strip of it round and round one hand before shoving the whole mess into a pocket. He plucked open the topmost two buttons of that black red shirt, now closer in color to the hue of his own blood than of the crimson spill it had been before. He pulled up short and turned to face the Sadist while they were both under the cover of the awning belonging to some abandoned storefront.

"Listen. Keep your blood. I don't want something forced from you. It hardly matters how good or bad you taste, if doing so means having to watch you be resigned and displeased about giving it. You shouldn't have offered if you didn't care to pay the price - but hey..." He lifted and dropped both shoulders in a harsh shrug, hands opening in a futile gesture. "You were drunk, right?"

He moved on. They weren't far now, he could practically smell the heat and feel the buzz of the familiar noise coming off the place, like the welcome respite of a hornet's nest.

"So forget it. I'll take the 'explanation' you gave me as payment enough, if that's what you want. Now I just want to see this through because I was stupid enough to start it all and too inept, apparently, to finish it as planned."

"I hadn't been thinking of it that way, actually," Mesteno admitted. "I guess some of that shit you talked about trying to drag you into my mess instead of taking care of it myself rang true, is all."

Yet despite the pre-emptive accusation of smugness, Gideon's laughter had lured out a reluctant smile. Just a narrow show of even ivories, but not forced. Sharp, and suggestive of an inherent cruelty, but not entirely without charm. It ebbed a little when he was given the blood reprieve, replaced by mild incredulity (had he heard that right!?) and he didn't say anything immediately, just followed him out from under the awning, chewing over his words as if he wasn't sure whether to speak them at all.

"I would have paid," he told him simply, "and yes, I was a little inebriated," as if the formality of that word was somehow better than commonly drunk. "I'll be honest, I'm surprised that you give a fuck whether or not I'm displeased, or resigned to it. If you're only looking for meals that'll let you dine on 'em because they get a kick out of it, it's no wonder that you spend so long like an ice block."

There was another pause, a soft squelch of a sound from the soggy hems of his jeans as his boots clipped them, the denim so waterlogged they were dark almost to the knees.

"Answer me a question," Mesteno said, and this time there was none of the demand it'd had when he'd pointed at the floor, making him come so he could clean him up. "When you bite people, can you do it without the head-fuck? Is it all part 'n parcel that it feels that way, or is it something you do...and do on purpose? Is it because you want it to be pleasant? Is it because you feel guilty?"

It was more than one question, but the thread of it was telling. As for Gideon declaring himself inept, Mesteno was not arguing.

"There's a difference between a 'meal' and pleasure." Gideon remarked, lifting a brow as he gave Mesteno a brief glance. "The two aren't mutually exclusive, but..." He shrugged, "If it's a meal I want I can have one whenever I like. It's just sustenance, just feeding."

He drew a breath, let it out slow in a silent sigh as he paused, waiting for traffic to make a path across a busy thoroughfare.

"No, I can't. It's nothing I can control, the way it feels - it happens regardless. I can use it to my advantage, turn it into a nightmare or shape it into nirvana, but there is no getting around it." He smiled at the idea that the lulling bliss of the bite was some form of coping mechanisim. "Feeling guilty has nothing to do with it. Do you ever think Kestrel felt the least bit of guilt about who she killed or how? Her bite was no different than my own. It's just..."

He shook his head and stepped into the road at a break in the traffic, hurrying across the slippery cobblestones in long strides.

"If you ask me its just how the devil in the blood evolved. Like a spider's toxin, a pretty lie designed to keep prey docile. I'd feel less guilty if I could control it, let people see the truth of the matter, give them a fighting chance. Although, after that little b*tch of yours clawed my eyes near out I'm seriously reconsidering the merits of a fair fight."

How obliging with his answers Gideon could be! Mesteno made note of that as they travelled, closer and closer to the dry, the warmth and the booze, and perhaps he picked up the pace just a little, accustomed to travelling with more haste than this, always impatient to be getting somewhere, instead of in the middle of nowhere in particular.

"I didn't know your Kestrel well enough to assume she thought any particular way," he replied absently. She was gone (and he wasn't sad) but Gideon remained... somehow. The Pharoah's doing.

"But you...I don't know. A man rots your face and it'd make sense if you could make a bite a nightmare, you would. Don't blame me for trying to figure you out, Gideon. One day you're all theatrics and flashy smiles and the next you're acting like you got values, a conscience or something. And Aoife is not mine...she's my f*cking brother's." And didn't he sound disgusted about that unavoidable little fact? The Dreamwalker had a habit of picking men he took issue with. He kept quiet thereafter, hands shoved in pockets and the cold biting bone deep. He was too lacking in flesh to take a drenching like that and not feel the effects of it. Would likely be heading for the hearth and not the bar at all, once they got inside so that he could drive off and clench his teeth against their sudden wont to chatter.

"I don't blame you." He replied, letting Mesteno pick up their pace to suit his liking. Two more turns and they were headed down the alley that lead to the inn's side door. "I just don't know why you'd want to. Seems like the more people learn about me the further away they eventually run."

There was not an ounce of self pity in his tone at that statement, as far as Gideon was concerned he was simply speaking the truth. He took the steps to the door in pairs and set his hand upon the latch before turning to give the Sadist the devil's own smile. Charming lies and glossy veneer.

"Acting is a very good way to put it. Don't mistake me for anyone with values or a conscience. That would ruin my 'reputation'." He pulled the door open and held it for the other.

Mesteno was shivering by the time they got to the door, and it didn't matter how much his muscles tensed against it, it was obvious in sporadic shudders taking him unawares. He knuckled rainwater from his eyes, the tip of his nose, and as if he gave a shit about getting the inn soaked, he dragged the wet sheet of his hair forwards over a shoulder to wring the worst of the moisture out of. It fell in a miniature deluge onto the steps while he replied.

"Well you reel 'em in pretty good to start with, Mister Gideon. If you don't like 'em running off, keep right on smiling your smiles and being a general ass. If you get tired of it, let your guard down sometime and try talking to someone you never hooked in the first place. Maybe they'll turn out to be better friends." He gave him a mock salute, gave the holding of the door a withering look (what was he, a girl?) and prowled inside, dripping.
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Re: Karma

Post by Mesteno » Wed Oct 09, 2019 5:23 pm

[Continued...]

The alleyway door creaked open, and Gideon stepped in behind the sopping wet Sadist that entered first, rolling his eyes behind Mesteno's back as he shut the door behind them both.

"Call me 'Mister' Gideon again and I'll hamstring you. We'll see how well you do at running then." He let the rest of the conversation die for the moment, having no desire to disabuse the Sadist of his notions about the nature of all of Gideon's past friendships. Let him think what he wanted.

Mesteno generally did, anyway. The look he shot back over his shoulder, lacking in grin only because he had his teeth clenched against their chattering, was deviant enough about the eyes to suggest he'd be calling him that in the future just to piss him off. Rolling his shoulders to free them of the aviator jacket he wore, water dribbling off him to patter on the floorboards like light rainfall, he made straight for the hearth, careless of whoever might be occupying that space already. His groan was practically indecent when he sank down next to the flames. Don't mind him, he's just going to sit there and shiver miserably for a few, eyes closed.

Gideon stayed by the door for a moment, peeling off the sodden layers of his ruined, soaking wet jacket, leaving the thing to hang on a hook by the door and drip dangerous puddles all over the floor. He thumbed open the little buttons along the center of his waistcoat as he headed toward the hearth, in no rush, pace a lazy stroll. He peeled that black vest off too and was on to tugging the tails of his shirt out of the waist of trousers as he stood beside the delicious rolling heat of the fireplace, watching Mesteno nearly crawl himself into the embers. He undid the buttons of his shirt, pulled the soaking mess of it off and hung both garments by the hearth's lintel to dry as best they could.

He was loathe to leave the warmth of the fire, even if the Sadist was hogging most of it, but the other male looked so thoroughly miserable... One corner of his generous mouth tugged downward, and he silently cursed himself as he turned and wantered toward the bar, naked to the waist and looking pale and cold as a block of ice. He slipped through the break, tossed coin atop the till and grabbed one, no...two bottles from the well before returning the way he came. The bottle of scotch he kept for himself. The brown glass bottle of Grand Marnier with its long, thin neck and bubbled bottom, he held out to the half-drowned, half-frozen necromancer.

Mesteno'd yet to check his phone (it was at home, and blessedly dry) or he might have known the Redneck had left him voicemail. The smile he shot Thorn looked...watery, teeth clenched against the chattering, and he might have looked mildly disgusted that Gideon was happy to walk around shirtless, soaked to the skin, but that was just his prudish nature kicking up a fuss over nothing and maybe (because he wasn't an idiot) he looked because there was a level of damned aesthetically pleasing about the sight.

"Bastard." He seemed to state, about nothing and no one in particular, before shooting a wave at Ailis like nothing was wrong. The bastard in question was giving him his poison a moment later though, and he eyed the bottle with reluctant want, before taking it. Fine.

"Multas gratias."

More than a level. Gideon looked, for all his unearthly, cold pallor at the moment, like a thing carved from marble, not a scar or scratch or other sign of life marring the cut of lean muscle. Like something had polished away all the sins of the world, left them to fester under the skin instead of upon it.

"Ut vestri valetudo." he remarked, clinking the bottom of the scotch he held against the side of the bottle he'd handed over as he sunk down beside the Sadist on the hearth. What was personal space again? He pulled the corked lid from the bottle and let the bottle rock back, just enough to barely wet lips, but more than enough to sear the tip of his tongue with liquid fire. He drew a breath through his teeth and regarded the man beside him with no small amount of humor swimming in the glacial blues of fox-sly slanted eyes.

"You look like a drowned cat."

Inconvenient when you were too damned full of shivers to even get a bottle open without making a meal of it, and there was a level of hard-eyed concentration to the stare he gave it, fingers slippery wet as he tried and failed to grasp, succeeding only on the fourth try to grip, twist and open it up. He'd been about to take a sip, when Gideon sat down next to him, and didn't he just look as if he were about to educate him about that personal space Gideon seemed ignorant of? Maybe he forgot after he was insulted.

"You look like someone just dragged you out of a morgue," he countered - Gideon was the right kind of pale, after all. He sipped then, swallowed hard, four times, and the next shudder was less to do with cold and more to do with ephemeral warmth, the satisfaction of a craving temporarily sated.

"Mmph?" Gideon glanced down at himself, stretching out arms. Alright, so he was looking drained at the moment, a kind of sickly, anemic pallor. At least he wasn't starving, when the dark blue of veins swam to the surface and skin turned transluscent enough to make every artery, vein and vessel look like some black nexus of highways running through him. No, he just looked like a man about to die of exposure at the moment, even if he did not shiver as the Sadist did. He found the rattling of the man's teeth infinately amusing, however. "Morgue is it? Do I have bits rotting off?" He checked nose, ears, cupped a hand over his groin in a wide-eyed mockery of concern.

Judging by the golden-bronze of Mesteno's skin, he was accustomed to a great deal more heat than was available in the city at present, so it wasn't surprising it effected him as violently as it did. He might have warmed faster had he followed Gideon's example and stripped off his sweater, but he remained resolutely clothed, the Marnier sloshing in the bottle with each little shiver that trembled the taut muscles. He observed the pantomimed parts-check with a narrow eyed glower, and of course, of course he was going to have to be a smart ass. Glanced right down to the groin cupping before remarking drolly...

"Wouldn't worry if I were you, didn't look like there was much there to start with."

That earned a genuine peal of laughter.

"Oh doesn't it? Well I'll have to remeMber not to wear these pants again then, that's a hell of a horrible optical illusion for them to perform."

Gideon tipped back the scotch again, wincing happily enough at the horrific burn it left behind everywhere it touched. He sucked the honeyed fire off his lower lip thoughtfully.

"You, on the other hand are definately going to start loosing fingers or limbs from cold if you don't give up that bloody jumper and dry out."

Don't mind Mesteno staring at Gideon like he'd just sprouted a second head, and this one female. Was that a genuine laugh he heard?

"You could always put some socks or something down there," he suggested, warding off another shudder, relaxing enough to slouch. Gideon's insistance that he take off his sweater was greeted with a snort, amusingly magnified because it sounded like panpipes over the bottle mouth.

"I'm sure you can flaunt enough for both of us," he told him, jabbing an elbow into his ribs (and wasn't it bloody sharp?) "so don't concern yourself. Soon as it slows down a bit out there I'll make a run f'home and dry off properly."

"I could always put your face or something down there. Then I wouldn't have to hear you do anything except making choking sounds when you tried to talk about the size of it." Gideon replied with lucifer's own smile, not even giving up so much as a wince at the dig of one damnably sharp elbow between his ribs. "Flaunt?" He glanced down at himself again, before giving Mesteno a look of wry amusement. "If you think me walking around shirtless is 'flaunting' clearly you have no appreication whatsoever for the amount of money I spend in suits. I happen to think I look just as good clothed, I don't need to walk about nude to get attention." Hello brat prince. "I'm just defrosting, and drying out, thanks."

He toyed with the bottle he held, swirling its contents itno a slow rolling vortex against the glass.

"I had no idea you were such a puritanical prude, Mesteno. Fascinating."

Gideon could proudly consider himself momentarily victorious for that remark, because Mesteno just stared and stared, and then perhaps looked a little as if he intended to crack the bottle open over his head again. After a moment, he glanced down at Gideon's crotch again as if the pants might tell some truths.

"Okay, first of all, you do not want these teeth anywhere near you," sayeth the human to the leech, "Second, you don't strut like that when you're clothed," false accusations! "Third, I am not a prude, I just have standards, and yours are decidedly lacking. B'sides I'm almost dry now." He was just full of lies. Big fat ones, too.

On his mental chalkboard Gideon just gave himself three points for the look Mesento's face twisted into after that last remark of his. Oh yes. Winning felt wonderful. He grinned and rose, giving the Sadist his much desired space. His back was warmed from the fire, and at least that part of him looked almost human, taking on a near pinkish flush from the searing heat. He reached for the shirt he'd hung by the lintel and shrugged it on. Still damp and more than a bit cold, but dryer by half than all the sodden kit the Sadist still wore. He didn't confirm nor deny wanting the other's teeth anywhere near himself, and ignored the warning of it completely.

"I don't strut. Clothing or no. And yeah...you're dry as the Gobi desert. Amazing." He bent to grab a fistful of the shoulder of Mesteno's sweater, squeezing it until water cascaded down his arm to puddle on the hearth stone where it sizzled against the heat. He released the fabric and took two steps back to claim residence of one of those favored high-backed velveteen wingchairs, not bothering in the least to do up the buttons of the shirt he'd pulled on. He, at least, had no shame.

"As for my standards? Just because I am comfortable in my own skin and you are not does not lower my standards in the least. I've spent a night damn near doing murder, crawling through the nastiest parts of this town, and now drinking in this dive with you for company. My standards have nowhere to go but UP."

Mesteno glowered at his sweater as if it'd defected in a war, but Gideon could add a few more points to his scoreboard, judging by the splatter of the water that came from the squeeze.

"You don't just....squeeze a man's clothes like that," he told him, in the way that others might have quoted things about walking into Mordor. Easing up to his feet with a grimace at the way his knees clicked, he shook the worst of the wet off his jacket and proceeded to worm back into it, soggy sleeves bunching under the sheepskin lining uncomfortably, hair trapped beneath (he didn't make the slightest effort to untrap it.)

"I'm going to go check those bolt holes I mentioned. Good luck findin' better company." Yet, he didn't sound sore over the insult, more amused at it!

Gideon simply smiled benignly up at the glowering man as he rose and made more of a mess of himself with his jacket. Astounding how even such a pleasent facade made one's fingers itch to punch it clean off the handsome, odd angles of his face. Blame it on the devil trying and failing to wear that angelic mask. He glanced round the inn at Mesteno's last comment and lifted shoulders in a weary shrug as he slouched back against the chair, languid as a large cat.

"Thanks, I think I'll need it. Best of luck...let me know what you find, hmn?"

Mesteno was tugging the wool of the sweater down under the jacket at that comment, and followed Gideon's sweep of the room for likely company Instead of heading directly for the door, he padded over to the wingback the bastard had draped himself, a palm to either arm and leaned right over him...drip-drip dribble...water came sluicing down off his hair to wet the leech all over again. Oops? A lean in to murmur, somewhere near his ear, "Don't think you'll have to try too hard--- you have an admirer on the couch."

Same woman that'd...good lord his brother's conquests were everywhere. And maybe the snort as he straightened was about sharing the information, if any. "Sure, right."

"I'd say we're far past admirations, aren't we...Gideon?" The woman he'd indicated spoke his name ever so slowly, her tongue ending the last bit with a cluck against the roof of her mouth. Oh yes, now she was paying attention and wouldn't you believe magmas began to lava themself right into Mesteno's pretty little face. Her glass was raised to the soaken beauty, eyesbrows rising as she questioned the reason for both of them being so soaked. Hmm...forget questions, she lifted that glass right on up for more than just a sip.

The harsh lines of Gideon's smile softened a bit as the Sadist lent over him - and it was hard to tell if it was wariness or pleasure at the proximity that did it. Either way, he didn't flinch at the sluice of water that showered down upon him with the lean, one lazy hand reaching up to pinch hold of one of the damp locks that swung his way, letting it slide through his fingers as Mesteno straightened. His gaze slid in the direction of the couch and he struggled to keep a straight face, failed, and looked more uncomfortable than pleased to find Sapherya sitting there, smiling raptly at the pair of them.

"Oh yes, I'd agree with that, luv." He answered the woman, that faultless, flawless smile sliding back into place with no small effort. If he got up now...if he made some excuse to follow Mesteno out...ugh. Damn his luck.

Mesteno squinted at Saphyera, not really sure what to make of her after the confrontation and subsequent bedding of his brother. Better to just forget it!

"Y'have a pleasant evening, both," he told them, taking his bottle with him as he left the hearth, cracking a broad smile for Thorn and making for the alley door.

[End scene.]
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Re: Karma

Post by Mesteno » Wed Oct 09, 2019 5:32 pm

May 2012

The missive was salt in the wound after a fruitless search.

He’d tried ’Jody’s’, the cheap little ’rooms by the hour’ hotel where he’d woken once upon a dream with the scent of damp and lavender up his nose, skin tacky with a lacquer of dried blood and spider rot. He’d searched the docks where she’d waited him out, his Mother’s ring in her fingers (though he’d no smile to pay her with.) She’d never have been fool enough to go home, but he roamed there too, watching the window from beneath the streetlamp, remembering the lumbering feel of the dead man he’d sent to scare her from future dreamscape visits. Nothing.

Aoife had vanished, as if the rain had rinsed away more than just the blood she’d stained the alleys with and by now there’d have been ample opportunity for her to find Salvador, turn brother on brother with a few words and (knowing his sibling’s blood-hungry tendencies) a spread of her legs.

The girl was a nuisance. Damned inconvenient.

His mood was as black as the blood of the vampire whose face he’d cleaned off so gently when they’d lost her, and the last thing he needed was the missive he received once he reached home, his mutts bounding clumsily around him, competing for attention as he jammed a thumb under the envelope’s seal to get inside.

Mesteno,

F**k. Fine. I'll try, if you try.

Because you're not allowed to think you're not worth the trouble. If anything, I'm probably not. But I guess sometimes I forget that you're the one that probably could use all the friends you have these days.

And who else could tell me about Aoife, if not for you? I guess I need my friends, too.

Bastard. I'll try, if you try.

— Bjorn


Few were capable of infuriating him as well as Bjorn.

“It's either the stupid or the doggedly faithful mutts that come crawling back anyway.” He’d told the Vhamerian weeks ago. They’d been stood precisely where he stood now, in the yawning, crumpled gateway to Sanctuary, the Lion gently spoken, Mesteno vibrantly furious. “And do not deny that I have tried. That I have explained myself like a man facing a jury each time because you were worth the damn effort.”

Whether it was his friendship Bjorn desired once more, or a way to get to the Dreamwalker, he could not be sure, though his pessimistic streak held the reins that afternoon and vehemently declared it the latter. Later, he might remember Evander’s words, how he’d reminded Mesteno that the Sadist’s lack of trust was likely the cause of their falling out, but for now he’d nothing more than a bellyful of wry laughter over the situation, the tone of it so vitriolic that the mutts went slinking away with ears flat. He could only imagine how disappointed Bjorn would be if he knew how badly he’d botched the job.

Aoife might have come away from the basement broken, but somehow, the little bitch was winning.

[Missive included with permission from Bjorn's writer, italicised text taken from live play.]
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Re: Karma

Post by Mesteno » Sat Oct 12, 2019 11:06 am

[OOC: Originally posted by Delahada. Written in collaboration with Aoiffe Duggan.]

Meanwhile....


It was a beautiful night, only for the sheer fact that it was cold and rainy. The never-where sky was smothered with black clouds that stretched over the city for miles and promised miles more. It was that reason alone that she made it as far as she did. For once, Lady Luck had opened her arms and let Aoife in. There was no possible way she’d ever make it far enough before one or both of them, Gideon or Mesteno, sniffed her out. Her blood was a gift and a curse.

The thinnest threads of Dreaming had gotten her out of that underground chamber, chased by an inkling of fear, and the barest whisper of hope. She’d stumbled through the weather-worn, large slatted door and landed on all fours in the street where the cobblestones took no mercy on her knees and palms. Her vision blurred and her chest screamed but she found her feet again and stumbled into the shadows. Alley to alley, street side to narrow pass-through, she’d left them a trail of sweet, smelling blood. Every time she lost her bearings and fell, her hands smeared along the ground then over each break in her skin diverting the oozing blood paths. The pain it caused shot threads of sanity into her spirit and kept her moving. Nothing made sense, but in the back of her mind she knew if she waited out the rain it would wash her sin away.

The first fat drops nearly brought her to her knees and when the steady cadence grew she tripped a straighter path toward the docks where surely the mingling of seafaring scents would bide her time. When she reached the wide planked walkway, her steps grew slower and her balance a joke. An attempt to step over a coiled rope, pitched her forward on all fours once again. She brought up a mouthful of blood in a cough and gave in to more until it left her gasping for air and wheezing for more. A careful piling of crates provided the perfect spot to rest or wait for Death to whisper in her ear. She crawled in as far as her limbs let her and curled up in a damp corner to nurse her wounds and buy that precious time. Waiting.

Salvador was no stranger to the Dockside district. Historically, it was the one area of the city where the most mayhem occurred. Zombies and plagues had all started here, once upon their times. With all that could go wrong going wrong this side of Rhy’Din, it was only logical that here was also where the largest body count accumulated.

Though he was paid no salary by the city’s questionable government to do so, Salvador Delahada took it upon himself to act as a city coroner of sorts. That is to say, he collected dead bodies. He made for a horrible undertaker, however, because he never buried the dead. There were too few people who knew him so well as to know what he did with the bodies when he collected them. It was likely that some others suspected he simply had a fetish, was a horrible necrophiliac. But the majority knew enough by rumor to have marked him as a cannibal, which was a fair but not entirely clear definition of him.

Over the course of the past week or so, he had been collecting more bodies than had previously been necessary to sate his needs. His last encounter with the Dreamwalker had been a sadomasochist’s delight, as had the time before that. The taste of her blood, above all, had exhilarated him beyond reason. The sex had only been an added bonus. But the recharge her life essence had provided him also made for a terrible withdrawal period to follow.

His daydreams were filled with the thought of her. Sometimes he imagined signs of her as he prowled the city, day and night. Every body he turned over was a disappointment. Though the human dead he gathered did a fair enough job sating his hunger, they did very little to satisfy the burning need inside of him. It was a feeling beyond all logical understanding. He couldn’t classify it. He couldn’t define its parameters. All he knew is that he had to have her, so much so that he often hallucinated her presence. So when he prowled down one of Dockside’s many labyrinthine alleys and caught a damp whiff of cotton candy blood, he at first thought he was only imagining things again.

The steady drizzle was washing away the trail, but the smear of blood on the nearby wall had not gone completely yet. He stopped his restless prowling and stepped over to the mark. He leaned in close for a sniff; it certainly smelled like her. To verify, he was even brave enough to swipe his tongue across the brick and lap up a taste. The moment that exotic flavor hit his tongue, however diluted from the rain, he knew it was her. The aftershock made him shudder delightedly, like a crack addict getting one small puff of his drug of choice after so many long days. He needed more. He had to find her.

He kept a hand on the wall, on the smear of blood and leaned away to look up and down the length of the alley he was standing in. Gutter flow was trickling into a rain barrel at one end. A pile of trash was being ransacked by a small pack of too large rats. There was no Aoife, not even a box she could have crawled under to hide her from the elements. The blood trail was faint and following that scent would never lead her to him, he knew, with the rain falling as it was. But Salvador had other methods of tracking at his disposal that not very many people knew about.

Stepping out of his boots, he touched his bare feet to the forming mud and wet stones. Closing his eyes, he unlocked the mental gates of his power and opened himself up to the past. Suddenly, all was silence, energy pulsed through his veins and ebbed off his skin. When next he opened his eyes, they were glowing dim and he saw no rain. Instead, he saw a ghost of Aoife interposed with his own body, hand pressed to the wall where his own was, bent over and body heaving for a desperate gasp of breath.

First the ghost of her moved backward, the memory of how she had been pulling him in rewind toward the source of her torment. Tempting as it was to discover what had transpired, going in reverse would not have brought him to her, so he switched the gears of his viewing to press the mental play button and watched as the ghost of her lurched forward and stumbled down the dreary alley. The rain that he felt made her image flicker statically, but it was so recent and raw and fresh, and the rain had not completed its cycle to wash her all away as of yet. He followed her memory, then, as it stumbled and staggered and bled through the mazes of the Dockside district for what felt like the hours of eternity, until down one bend he watched as she crawled into the bottommost crate amidst a tottering heap along the slatted walkway adjoining the shore.

Salvador’s heart counted out the long seconds to follow. She did not emerge from her hideaway. Shaking off the spell of past sight was difficult with his boots abandoned elsewhere. He could not step into them to shut out what had been, because they were not with him, abandoned in another alley blocks away. So he suffered the overlap of the now warring with the then with a shake of his head and crept cautiously toward the crates. When he touched his hand to the edge of one and crouched down to peer around its corner, he could see two Aoife’s moving, one a spirit and one of solid flesh, melded with each other in echoing symmetry. But there he saw her, here he found her, looking back at him.

Looking through him was more like it. The crate was simple enough, rough hewn wood soaked through and splintered from the sea-salt elements, buried beneath a tower of others. It was empty save for her huddled form and provided enough protection from the rain for a short rest. She had backed herself into the furthest corner, a quiet spot for a quiet girl. Battered and broken but still clinging to that very last breath, barely.

Her eyes were open and glassed over, morning mist gray sparkling like tears. But she hadn’t been crying; the dirt and blood on her cheeks were still smeared where she’d left them. Her hair was soaked through, tangled over bare arms and shoulders. Aoife was never without sleeves, or any kind of cover to hide the dirty secrets she kept carefully across her arms and legs. Her left leg was curled beneath her and the right extended along the back of the crate. The dress she had on was once white, stained brown and red in places too numerous to count, hem hiked entirely too high.

She had something balled up beneath her right hand which she seemed to be pressing against the upper thigh of her extended leg. Seemed to be, because she was really only resting her hand on it. Something dark and sweet had oozed from beneath it and pooled on the wood. Her left arm was curled over and around her chest, fingers clutching her right side. Dark shadows had crowded in with her hiding everything else but the smell. And that was something to be reckoned with because the bittersweet scent of blood was not just hers, not to mention the stink of grime she covered herself with along the way. The breaths she took were labored, short puffs carrying faintest high pitched wheeze.

His fading energy was something she knew, something she recognized and it filled her little hiding spot making those shadows twist about and hiss. Unease from the invasion made her shift and draw that extended leg up close to tangle with the other. Whatever she had been pressing into it fell off and landed in the sticky, dark puddle. She stared through him for what seemed like minutes before a heavy blink cleared the shine and replaced it with something harder. “Your….turn?” Breathy words so soft, he might have to strain to hear.

She was a beautiful mess. Only a monster could have admired her the way he did in that moment. A quiet voice crooned from deep inside his mind. The caged monster rattled its chains and whispered naughty suggestions to him. She couldn’t have been more vulnerable, more perfect for dressing up and baking. All she needed was an apple in her mouth. But there was no thrill to this, a wounded animal instead of prey to chase, and he kept the beast at bay with a smothering of some other feeling entirely.

Questions teetered on the tip of his tongue, begging to be asked. Who did this to you? Why? Who do I have to kill? She was his by rights. He had claimed her. If anyone were to have the privilege of turning her into the wreck she was before him, it should have been him. He was too aware of the various instruments of death squirreled away in his many pockets. Plucking a knife from one and giving her the gift of a mercifully clean death would have been easy. Both parts of his soul suggested he put an end to her, one cleanly and the other more violently. He disobeyed them both in favor of sympathy.

Getting her out of the crate was going to be a challenge, he knew. He had never given her any reason to trust him, excepting perhaps long ago when he’d given her his word that he would do her no harm. But those had been different times, when he had stolen her away from Judah and tried so hard to keep her as his own. There was no Judah now. Sinjin had killed him, again. The killing of Judah Bishop never stopped, but maybe this last time had been the final end. Salvador had seen no sign of the creature since that last time, not even here to help his woman, who needed help so desperately.

Salvador looked down the length of the walkway, either way, just in case. There were no shifting shadows, no body shapes encroaching on them looking to stake a claim. “No,” he assured her, a single word spoken without passion. Looking back in at her, he turned in his crouch and reached in a hand partway, palm up. With nothing more than body language, a sorrow in his eyes, he was offering her help instead. Come out of that box and come to me, his posture said, I’ll do you no harm.

She was having trouble keeping her eyes open, each heavy blink seeming to last longer than the previous. She never looked at his hand, her fading attention caught up by what he offered within his eyes. She didn’t trust him, but he hadn’t been there. It hadn’t been his idea; they would have said something. There was no way she was going to make it any further without some kind of help and after what she did, slim to none chance they’d forget about her and just let her rot. Bishop was gone. Cat had yet to come back. And Arts was just, then Viki….her list of allies was shrinking.

The next few minutes seemed like hours before she made the decision. Moving was an entirely different matter. She’d been sitting still for so long that her limbs refused to move at first. She had no intention of making the noise she did when she shifted to her knees, and if he asked her later she wouldn’t remember it. It was the faintest whimper which was smothered quickly by a high pitched wheeze. She teetered there, refusing to release her hold on her chest. Her right arm acted useless.

Everything about her was sluggish. The shadows within tried desperately to keep her, especially when she seemed to collapse on herself after releasing her hold on her chest to start the crawl out. She sank over her knees, chin to chest, wilting like a dying flower. Her fingernails scraped harshly over the wood beneath her. But that’s how she pulled herself back up. Those minute splinters that sank into the skin beneath her nails was what she needed to move those two feet to the edge of the crate where her only salvation waited: Salvador Delahada.

The docks weren’t known for the gorgeous glow of gas lamps, but he didn’t need any light to see the six inch stake of wood that stuck out of her back from just beside her right shoulder blade as she dragged herself out. She’d ignored his hand entirely, crawling under it and nearly collapsing into his lap. She reached with her left hand and gathered a fistful of his shirt, pulling herself to him, him to her, where she then erupted into a violent coughing fit. Blood and saliva sprayed all over his chest and her little body shook until it was over.

His brows had knit low in a fierce, angry furrow as he watched her struggle to crawl out of her hole. There was no other way, though, short of him tearing the plywood apart with his bare hands, but frightening her was the last thing he wanted to do. Even a wounded mouse could run fast when it was terrified. Running would have only made her condition worse.

He drank in every detail of her injuries with schooled and hungry eyes. Anatomy had been his favorite class in school, before he had dropped out to take up a life of crime. The professors at Northedge had taught him well how to identify bones and muscles, and more he had learned from self-study and years of practicing at dissection. The labored, gurgling breathing gave him a clue as well. The way she coughed up goopy red blotches all over his shirt solidified his silent diagnosis, too.

Stiff as a board, he patiently endured her scrabbling and clinging. With the utmost caution, he wormed his arms slowly out of the sleeves of his jacket. The thought was there to drape his coat over her shoulders, but the wedge of wood lodged in the muscle of her shoulder put a damper on such acts of stereotypical chivalry. Instead he worked to pry her fingers from his shirt and slip her arms into the sleeves the wrong way. He could suffer the rain, but if she drowned in any more if it he was certain she’d take ill, if the seeds for it hadn’t been planted already.

He had to pry all right, as her fingers had locked into the fabric of his shirt using him as an anchor to keep herself upright. She was reluctant to let go but fatigue was winning all the battles she started. Gideon had taken so much blood that the drugs in her system still lingered, playing games with her balance. Her fingers went slack and her arm drifted to her side as she wavered on her knees while the world around them spun wildly. He reached around to secure the buttons up her back only so high, any higher would have aggravated the shoulder wound.

She was covered in so much filth that deciphering blood from dirt wouldn’t work with sight alone. There were things still hidden that needed attention, but leaving well enough alone to get further away was more important. She watched him in silence as he maneuvered her arms into his coat and buttoned it up backwards, breaths once again short and labored. The rain was almost welcoming, the cold fat drops keeping her from mentally slipping away. Everything about him and his actions warned her to keep her guard. She had never known him to be anything but the furthest from kind.

Scooping her up like a bride was out of the question as well. Instead of that, he turned his back to her, where beneath gray cotton the spikes lining his spine lay flat and unthreatening. He worked to help her get her arms up over his shoulders, her legs around his hips, and bent forward to slowly lift her into a piggy-back pose. In her condition, he didn’t expect her to put up a fight.

When he turned and gave her his back she thought he meant to finish her with those ridged spikes. It sent a slice of betrayal into her eyes and had her sitting back on her heels in disbelief. But he didn’t and she couldn’t even borrow breath to sigh relief when he gently maneuvered her into a piggy-back. She linked her left arm around his shoulder and took hold of his shirt. Her right arm didn’t work as well and hung limply at his side, but she gripped his forearm with her fingers. When he tucked that arm under her right leg, it opened the clot of the three inch gash on her thigh so that it oozed tainted blood again. She didn’t have the energy to tuck her chin over his shoulder, so she simply sagged against him, face pressed into the back of his neck.

Urgency was a must, he knew. A long stroll through the dirty alleys was not going to suffice. Though there were dangers entering the Between places while wounded. The things that hunted behind the Veil were more swift to pounce upon weakened prey, so he knew he had to be swifter. Taking a deep breath to steel himself -- not only for the onslaught of energies to come, but also to continue resisting the urge to make a meal of her -- he opened himself to his power and took that plunging step through the Veil.

The moment they were through, he heard the inhuman shriek of some wild and fearsome fae creature catch the scent of her blood. Here the drops she left behind glowed and left silvery bread crumb trails. He reached and took hold of the energies of beyond with one hand, staying bent over to keep the girl from sliding off his back, and pulled. Blocks and blocks of buildings upon buildings whirled past, they through them, and in one more quick step he took them through the curtain into the real and solid world, to the alley in which he had left behind his boots. He stepped into them, recollected them, and moved on.

Only a few short seconds had gone by, but even those were detrimental. Where could he take her, though? Home was out of the question. Sinjin would have caught one whiff of her and danced giddily at the prospect of helping Salvador sautée her, and that wasn’t the plan. He hadn’t the slightest clue where she lived, if he had ever known at all, but even if he had he knew that wasn’t wise either. Whoever had done this to her might know and go searching for her as well. Peccavi was an even worse idea than home. There were even more blood suckers there with even less heart and mercy than he had in himself. “F*ck,” he grumbled to himself. “Think. Where?”

The last place anyone will think to look, he thought. And so it could be said he whispered it as a spell to the wind when he reached forth to rend the air and rip through the Veil once more. He closed his eyes when he stepped through, imagined a place with a bed and clean, running water, abandoned, apart from the rest of the world, where no one would hear a girl screaming as her bones were reset. And then he had it. The perfect place. The last place anyone would think to look. Aoife could curse him for his choice later, but it was the only place he could think of where the necessary tools to mend her would be readily available, for stealing.

A monstrous shriek hit the air. The whatever it was had picked up on Aoife’s scent again. No time to waste. Salvador reached and pulled again, hurtling them through the Beyond and Between without taking a single step. Then he took the step through the Veil again, and all was silence.
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Re: Karma

Post by Mesteno » Sat Oct 12, 2019 11:08 am

[Continued...]

The rain was gone, and along with it the cold. Though the place he had brought them to was only marginally warmer, for the dank and dusty scent in the air exposed their new location to be a basement of some sort. Figures he would take her someplace else with no windows. Everything smelled sterile, though. An ancient sterility that identified the room belonging to a long abandoned wing of likely a hospital. The thick cobwebs he pulled down from the ceiling told the tale of just how long this section of the building had been in disuse.

He carried her in two steps over to an old operating table, something from several decades before, left behind during renovations, having been long replaced by newer, more expensive models. He bent forward and urged her slowly to slide off his back and onto the table itself. It was no comfy bed, unfortunately, but it was dry and free of splinters.

Her main goal was to hold on. Consciousness was slipping further away and there was nothing left really to keep her there. She knew that he had taken her through the Veil again. The wash of energy In Between warmed deliciously over her cold, clammy skin and urged her to take a peek for a promise. When the something shrieked in a way no human could have, she pushed back the want to look and pressed her nose against the back of his neck. Sometimes things were best unseen.

Light as a feather, the only problem she posed for him as he moved was the threat of slipping off from weakness of limb. She at least deserved three gold stars for spirit and holding on. Time was lost and it seemed like forever had passed before they stepped out of nowhere into the cobweb decorated hospital. She must have slipped away for a minute because the next thing she knew there was something cold and hard pressing into the back of her legs.

Her fingers slipped away from his arm and the ones tangled in his shirt followed shortly there-after. She slid from his back and onto the table in a wet heap, catching the sides to keep from pitching forward and onto the floor. Aoife claimed nothing that belonged to the exotic and beautiful in Rhydin. Right at the moment she looked like a drowned nightingale that had fallen into a mud pit. Just a slip of a thing layered in blood and grime, covered up with a backwards jacket belonging to a man that had been sent to kill her once.

Her dark hair was a tangled mess and slid over her face and shoulders as she leaned, the ends already losing droplets into a growing puddle on the floor. Her skin was already pale enough, right then though it looked a sickly gray. The smell of the place struck a chord somewhere deep and something ached to be let out from behind a closed door. She did steal back to watching him though, through slit lids that refused to remain shut. They played the silent game very well these two.

Salvador was a man of few words; he spoke only when he had something to say, and the long silences between never bothered him. Once he settled her on the operating table, and had his limbs free, he stepped around to an old overhead lamp, smeared the dust off its lense, and flicked it on. It was a wonder the bulb hadn’t burst the moment it was revived, but not so surprising that electricity still flowed into this wing, despite its long years of disuse. Likely the hospital had cycled through too many administrators over time, and certain areas had been forgotten. Bad for the hospital’s electricity bills, but good for Salvador and his bleeding, wet mouse.

One thing his wet little mouse kept with her after all those years in that room with no windows was an understanding of silence. It was something she much preferred over conversation and in her current condition conversation was entirely too much. It’d been dream energy alone that sustained her breath long enough for her to whisper a sleep song in Mesteno’s ear. She’d drawn upon so much of it that after he woke, he’d most likely be groggy for a few days. Surely it would add quite the blue sky to his already sunshiny disposition.

When he turned the light on, its harsh glow had her flinching and she turned her head the opposite way, blinking rapidly to clear the blur. He wasted no time stepping around behind her, to better see the jut of wood protruding from her shoulder. He tugged the lamp around with him and angled its light to his advantage.

She caught his movement around the table in her periphery and followed his path with her eyes until he disappeared behind. Her entire body tensed, fingers curling beneath the edge of the table gripping harder. She was at his mercy and in the back of her mind there was no doubt that he would turn on her in an instant if he so desired.

Tilting his head, he examined the extent of the damage with his eyes, both human and fae combined. The piece of wood peeking from above the collar of his jacket was round and smooth and looked like a chair spoke. About three inches of it jutted out, the other three were lodged in the muscle that cradled her right shoulder blade. The Snow White skin was discolored and streaked with clotted blood and dirt, beneath that a purple-blue bruise was blooming.

He spared her no mercy by poking and prodding with his fingers to explore the depths of the wound and get a feel for what needed to be done. He was quick, though no doubt it aggravated the torn tissue and hurt like a bitch. The second he touched her there, she nearly fell right off the table. A choked sound gurgled up from her throat that she tried to swallow, but it ended up sneaking from her mouth anyway. His poking and prodding wasn’t quick enough, said her wet cough and the hand she used to smother it.

When he shifted around the front with the light she turned her head away again to avoid it, resting her chin on her left shoulder. What a beautiful view it gave him of the bite marks on the right side of her neck. Gideon hadn’t a chance to hide those ones considering the gift she’d given him by scratching out his eyes. The gash on her thigh had been home to a piece of wood also, something that had been easier for her to pull out herself as she’d stumbled her way out of the windowless hell. It was a few inches in length and marred the beauty of the train track of scars she’d lay there so lovingly herself over the years. Such a dirty, little habit. The wound still oozed bright red blood from their traveling and the skin around it was bruised as well.

Both her knees were abraded as were the palms of her hands. There were various other scratches here and there but nothing that needed dire assessment. Consider her lucky that nothing had happened to her face, but who would care anyway with all that wet hair in the way. What to do, what to do?

First, he swore. A hissed, whispery string of vitriolic Spanish edged its way out between his teeth. Likely he was making promises that whoever had done this to her was going to die a brutal and ugly death. Only he was allowed to harm her, damn it all! While he was swearing, he tugged his shirt off, up over his head, and ripped it apart into long, useful strips. He slipped a thicker length under her thigh, above the wound, and used it to tightly bind off the flow of blood. If she bled any more, his ounce of giving a sh*t would have gone wasted, and nobody wanted that. The filthy parts of his shirt, where she had clutched at him, he tossed aside, and used whatever clean that was left to wrap around her neck and staunch the leech’s mark.

From those marks alone, he knew a vampire had been involved, and he mentally filed that away for later investigation. This was Rhy’Din, where vampires were as common as children playing in a schoolyard at recess. And they behaved just as well. The only way to know for certain which of the hundreds had thrown the rock at little Suzie was to ask the girl, but that could wait for later.

“I need to get some things,” he told her quietly, reaching for her hand. Slipping his fingers under hers, he settled his other hand on the side of her upper arm to gently urge her to lay on her non-wounded side. The last thing she needed to do was put more pressure on that shoulder. He moved her slowly, too, because he had noticed the way her ribs looked displaced. Those were going to need resetting. “Wait here, but don’t sleep.” If she succumbed to sleep, there was a worry she might not ever wake. Knowing she was a Dreamwalker didn’t mean he knew that’s how she healed.

Everything he’d done thus far was beyond the realms of where she’d classified their twisted, little relationship. He seemed angry about what had happened to her and that alone was something she needed to sit on, but maybe later after she had some time to piece herself back together. Whatever he murmured made little sense to her as language and school were liberties that had been stolen from her years ago.

She kept up the silent treatment as he bound her leg and neck, watching him carefully and expecting anything to happen at any moment. When he reached for her hand, instinct told her to snatch it back but she didn’t. Perhaps she had just given up and was going to let him have his way. So instead, she gave her hand and hesitated only briefly when he helped to ease her down on her left side. Salvador didn’t mind the nails biting into the underside of his wrist; it hurt just a bit to move around like that, he knew.

Once down on her side, she swallowed a noise and took her hand back to tuck it with the other under her chin in little fists. She drew her knees up to her chest as much as she dared and crossed one ankle over the other. It was a pitiful fetal position but she had started to shake from the blood loss and being so wet for so long. Shock wasn’t far behind. She almost asked him not to leave but he’d told her to wait which meant he was coming back, right?

All this caring was going to cost him. The smell of her blood in the air was making his mouth water. He even released a shaken breath when he took two steps back, forcing himself away from the temptation that she was. If he fed on her, she would recharge him, he knew. Even the smallest little nibble would have been enough. But if he took the time for that, she could die, and then she’d be nothing left but cold-cuts. It just wasn’t the same. “I’ll be right back,” he promised, and then closed his eyes.

Before her, a cyclone of rusty orange mist spiraled up around him, giving birth to itself at his feet and swallowing him whole all the way up to the crown of his head. This was another trick inherited by his fae blood and human flesh. As part of one world as well as the other, he could meld himself between the two and move unseen. Blundering shirtless through the better stocked areas of the hospital and snatching up medical supplies would not have done him any good. Best that he be an invisible thief, and he spent the next several minutes being just that.

Speed was crucial. He came and went in a reappearing and disappearing blur, stacking up a collection of things nearby: an IV drip stand, needles, scalpels, gauze, antiseptic, bags of blood (type O negative, the universal donor, because he had no idea which was hers), sutures, latex gloves, soap, blankets, towels and more. When he had gathered all he thought he could possibly need, he reappeared at the sink, clutching the basin and bent over, breathing hard. The color of his eyes had faded to yellow. He was spent on preternatural energies, nearly exhausted himself, and ravenous. Eating would have to wait, though. There was no more time left to waste.

He washed his hands thoroughly, something he almost never did, and tugged the latex gloves on with the help of his teeth. Hanging up a bag of blood and preparing the tubes for transfusion, he said, “I don’t know what blood type you are, but you need it badly.” Idle conversation, perhaps, or monologuing for the sake of sparing his own sanity. Keeping up a human pretense in these circumstances was exhausting.

Stripping her of his jacket, he tossed it aside, where it thunked heavily on the tile floor. He set to work, first, cleaning her arms so he could get a needle into a vein. He was going to end up bleeding her more doing what needed to be done, so pumping her full of more blood was the best place to start. “I don’t even know if anesthetics work on you either,” he told her as he worked. “They don’t on me. I brought some, though. It’ll numb you from the chest down, if you think it’ll work.”

The way he disappeared and reappeared only played tricks on her eyes. The drug was nearly out of her system by now but it didn’t matter. The prelude to shock was just beginning to settle in and toy with her senses. She wanted too badly to succumb to the need to sleep. Her body craved it, her mind screamed for it. Forcing herself awake was only making matters worse.

All the shiny sharp things he laid out didn’t even strike a chord in her, that’s how bad it was. There was no song left. No protesting when he took his jacket back, not even a flinch or a reflexive pull back on her arms when he washed them. He only polished off her artwork of scars, inner wrist to elbow, pearl white and recently healed pink. Perhaps he recognized a few of his own carefully placed ones. The entire time, she watched him with those quiet, ghostly gray eyes.

She was no stranger to medicine herself, though her skills were meant for more nature than the modern means of the city. When he finished and moved to prepare the bag of blood, she tucked her right arm back in and offered her left. There was the slightest chance she would need to bite down on something like knuckles. This was reinforced when he asked her about anesthesia. “No…drugs.” For too many long years they used them as a taunt against her. Never again.

Had to give her credit, the girl was tough. Salvador had known greater men who had screamed like big sissies from the merest pinpricks to their skin. Though he could see how Aoife had grown accustomed to pain; the evidence was written all over her body. He looked her in the eyes briefly, considering defying her wishes out of mercy, but gave a curt nod. He set his eyes on her offered arm, took hold and pressed the needle into her vein. He pressed a cotton ball over the protruding head and tore some white tape off a roll with his teeth to secure the drip. He turned to make sure the blood was flowing down the tube at a steady pace to replenish her and then stepped around behind her.

On that side of the table, she could hear him rummaging. Metal objects rattled and clinked. He had thought of the possibility that she might reject drugs, or not be susceptible to them. After all, he had always thought of her like himself, so perfect and pure and everything he needed. He himself was immune to poisons and toxins of all sorts, save one. But he didn’t intend on killing her, so he had brought no iron. He did, however, manage to dig up a rubber mouth guard, the kind used for shock therapy treatments, perhaps. He reached over her head and held it near her mouth as an offering. Better that than her knuckles.

The physical pain was self inflicted art, the mental was of another world and those further and beyond. It was something she’d lost long ago and was just beginning to find the pieces. Her eyes were barely visible behind her lids and when he took that moment to catch them they had started to take on a glassy sheen again. Her arm was limp in his hands, the skin much colder than he knew it to be. Two fingers twitched when the needle slid in

When he moved out of her sight, she pulled her legs in close once more and dipped her chin low to her chest so that her nose rested against a knee. The noises he made behind her echoed in her ears, sounding further away than they really were. She’d started to develop large, dark splotches in her vision and willed them away with heavy blinks. The rubber guard tapped against her chin. She knew what it was for well enough and flexed the fingers of her free hand to take it.

Her breathing remained labored, short puffy breaths lifting her shoulders sharply each time. It would be easier to breathe if she wasn’t curled up like she was; try telling her to relax. She opened her mouth wide enough to take the rubber strip in, sinking her teeth in to hold it in place. The loose ends were wound between her fingers which she tucked them once again beneath her chin.

For the time being, he was satisfied that he had cut off enough blood flow to her leg with the strips of his shirt. That injury could wait to be tended to, especially now that he had more blood flowing into her veins. The wedge of wood lodged in her shoulder was his primary focus, and he waited until she had the rubber clutched between her teeth before he made his move. He held onto the curve of her shoulder with his left hand and took hold of the stake with his right. Bracing her as much as himself, he pulled the wood out as straight and swift as he could to avoid any additional ruin.

When she felt him grip her shoulder she hadn’t the energy to tense for what was next. She was so cold that the area had already started to numb along the outer edges. It was almost as if she sensed his hesitation a half of a second before he actually did it. She moaned and turned her face into the metal table, biting down on the rubber strip and pulling at it at the same time. Her feet flexed and her legs pressed tighter together at the knees. The noise she’d made was pushed further out by a few muffled, wet coughs. The whole thing lasted a few simple seconds.

The spurt of blood that splashed against his face was minimal, given she had lost a lot already. But already he could see more oozing and bubbling up to the surface. He tossed the plank aside, letting it clatter and wash the floor in filth, and quickly pressed a wad of gauze to the hole. Repairing this was going to be no easy task. If the damage had been done to his own body, he would have cut a hunk of flesh off a corpse from his collection, pressed it to the wound, and waited for his magic to cannibalize the material into himself, to transmute it and make it his own. Aoife was much more human than he was himself, though.

She should have been thankful that the area was throbbing, pulsing with life. The tightness that had held captive the movement of her right arm slipped away and left a mild burning sensation that spidered out over the small area. No tears from the pretty, black haired nightingale though, her eyes were shut tight. The fingers dangling on her outstretched arm flexed and curled in for a moment of silence and a shattering of breaths that wouldn’t last.

Before attempting anything, he knew he had to clean the wound first. “This is going to hurt,” he warned her, picking up a bottle of antiseptic with his free hand. A nod from his wet mouse to acknowledge that she heard him. Her fingers steeled on the rubber straps and she tugged them close not even daring to open her eyes. He twisted off the cap with his teeth. He pulled the gauze away, released the pressure he had been holding over the wound, and then upended the bottle over her shoulder to let the sterilized liquid wash away any bacteria to avoid infection. He tossed aside the first wad of bloodied up gauze and grabbed up another handful of cleaner stuff to press to the wound afterward.

When the antiseptic hit the damaged area she flinched, rolling that same shoulder up to her ear. The burn it caused was intense and nearly fanned out over her entire back. The liquid was cool, the sterile smell stinging the inside of her nose.

Salvador was no schooled surgeon. He hadn’t the training required to make her pretty again. Best he could do was cauterize the wound to stop the blood flow. The best way he knew to do that was to use his own blood, but he knew if he did that he would lose his mind and give into his more animalistic urges. So he chose the next best thing. He flicked on the little torch he had stolen out of a lab, the sort he remembered using in chemistry class long ago, and heated a large bone file over its flame, one handed. The other hand stayed pressed to the open gouge, holding the blood in with his palm and gauze.

Once the metal was red hot, he gave her only this warning: “This is going to hurt like a bitch.” Then he pulled his hand away, quick, only to replace it with the makeshift cauterizing tool he had come up with.

She vaguely heard it, a click, a flick, then a hissing noise from somewhere behind her. It sounded further away just like everything else. Then his voice, “…like a bitch…,” to which a delayed second later she gave him the most beautiful sound he’d ever hear, her scream. Away it danced, over that strap and into the room where it bounced back and forth between the walls before rising to the ceiling to rain back down all over him. It was stunning, breathtaking, and amazing that she was able to give him that gift with only one working lung. Were his pants a little tighter yet?

She rolled into the table, right leg lashing out as if she was trying to kick herself off, but it was so wet her foot only slipped sadly in the puddle each time. Tears rolled out and down her nose which was pressed into a pool of watery blood on the surface.

He held the metal in place for several seconds, burning the broken veins to seal them. The flesh and muscle wasn’t going to grow back pretty. It was possible she’d have a divot in her back for all time. Sewing the skin together wasn’t a good idea right now, he knew. First the damage beneath the skin had to heal, and that was going to require weeks of bedrest. Of course, first he had to convince her to stay on the table.

Even after he took the file away she wheezed out sobs and reached for the edge of the table with her left hand nearly pulling out the needle and knocking over the pole where the bag of blood hung. Slippery little thing was still trying to get away.

Tossing the cauterizing tool aside, he reached around her to press his left hand up against the front of her right shoulder and lock her steady with his arm. “Easy, easy. If you run on me now, you’ll die.” There was still the matter of the gash in her thigh, the broken ribs, and the punctured lung to deal with. At this point he sort of wished he was a real surgeon. Then at least he would have had a handful of nurses to help him pin the girl down and keep her from flopping off the table. He only had himself, however, as well as reason and logic. He could only hope she wasn’t blinded stupid from the pain.

He really didn’t have to press hard to keep her in place, as her efforts to get away were slipping with near conscious. She flinched when he touched her though, shoulder jerking hard into his hand. Her attempt to escape had only moved her just partway up the table. Prying her fingers from the edge where she gripped would have been another matter entirely. She went completely still after one more muffled soft cry, leaving them once again alone with each other and the quiet drip dripping of blood and water off the table.

At first, when she opened her eyes, all she saw was black. A few heavy blinks pushed back rising panic and told her it was nothing but her hair which was a sloppy mess from squirming. Her breaths came in rapid puffs, chest rising and falling more so on one side than the other as her body worked for a sedate calm.

When he felt her relaxing, however marginally, he eased off. He lifted his arm away from her body and slid it back through the air instead of over her chest. He leaned over her, though, to double-check the needle in her arm and make sure it was still secure. A minor adjustment was needed, and more tape. He then stepped around to the blood bag hanging from the hook to check it. Soon it would need replacing, but he still had time to work on the simpler task of tending to her thigh.

He rolled the cart with all its various instruments along with him to the front side of the operating table. He paused to sweep her hair out of her face, to the back of her head, with a gentle nudge of his fingertips. Then he urged her to separate her legs and stretch out the one that was damaged. Once more he took a moment to inspect it with his latex-covered fingers, poking and prodding to assess how serious the wound was in comparison to the other. Would he have to cauterize this one too, or would stitches suffice? In either case, he knew he had to clean it first, and so he took up the bottle of antiseptic and poured the alcohol over this wound as well.

Marginal relaxation if at all. The needle was in her left arm which was stretched out in front of her face and above her head, fingers in a death grip hook over and under the edge of the table. She felt him adjusting things there, heard things shifting, heard him moving around the table with a metal cart. When the black curtain of hair was swept free from her face, she found herself staring blankly at her arm. The rubber strap had come close to being bit through.

She rolled her head back to rest her cheek on her arm and tug by tug pulled the strap from her aching jaw. Her fingers curled around it and tucked it beneath her chin. She flinched when he touched her knee, hesitating, but understanding had her uncrossing her ankles and slowly stretching out that right leg. She hadn’t been blinded stupid by the pain, just slightly shocked and slow moving. Every now and then a tremor made its way from her shoulders to the tips of her toes.

The gash on her thigh was the same as the one on her shoulder, though this one had stopped bleeding hours ago, aggravated just to a slow ooze from movement. His poking and prodding hurt and the alcohol burned like a son of a bitch, but all she did was tuck her left leg up close and swallow a soft noise into the crook of her outstretched arm. As the very last of the antiseptic burn faded, she shifted her attention to him and stared.

“Tch.” The noise was one of irritation and disappointment. Stitches would have been easier, cleaner, but she had to go and get herself ruined instead of simply cut. “I’m going to have to burn this one too,” he told her, frowning. So he turned to the cart to heat up that hunk of metal on the Bunsen burner again. He held down her leg, an inch away from the gash in her thigh, and when the make-shift cauterizing tool was again red hot, he pressed it to her flesh with only this warning: “Here it comes.” And so it was.

It would have been better if he’d just done it. Granted, her reaction was slightly delayed, but it was a reaction enough. She hadn’t blinked the entire time she’d been staring at him. “…burn this one too…,” was all it took for focus to steal in and the escape to begin. She turned, managing only to twist at her hips before he clamped a hand down on her leg. Didn’t stop her from trying though. The effort was futile as the sizzle and stench of burning flesh had another scream bubbling up from her chest when the pain exploded and spread. Her left foot slipped on the table and her fingers lost their grip on that edge. The scream was choked off by a gurgle, then a cadence of wet coughing. She crammed the folded strap into her mouth and reached up with her other hand to grab a fist full of her own hair. It’d be a miracle if she didn’t choke.

When it was done, he applied an antibiotic ointment, a patch of gauze, and wrapped her thigh. He hadn’t bound her shoulder the same way, because he still had work to do on the torso. That was going to be the most difficult task. He took a side-step to center himself on the area he needed to work on. Taking a pair of surgical scissors off the table, he told her, “I’m going to have to cut you open to fix the rib.” The lung, too. There was no other way. He took the scissors to the hem of her dress and split the fabric open. It was ruined anyway.

She’d gone silent like she had before but stillness had yet to find her. As soon as he was finished bandaging her leg, it drew up to join the other as she tried to curl into the smallest ball and hide. If I can’t see him, he can’t see me. A child’s logic didn’t quite apply in this situation, but she was balancing on the last thread of consciousness and clear logical thoughts had abandoned her. She pulled the strap out of her mouth and abandoned it somewhere to reach over and push at his hand as he cut away her dress. Her breathing was the worst it had ever been, high pitched wheezing that came so fast each one tripped over the previous.

He wasn’t sure what it meant, the way her hand stalled his progress, but he assumed she was telling him to stop. “I have to reset it,” he told her softly, looking at her face. “And there’s a hole in your lung.” The wheezing and the blood in her mouth were sure signs, though he could also see the big black mark amidst the sickly gray in her aura. Though his irises were yellow, there was still a glint of orange dust here and there, a sign of how he was tapping the limits of his magical reserves.

That misty gray was just barely visible beneath her heavy lids as she stared back at him over her shoulder. She was beyond too tired and weak to stop the tears that trailed over her nose onto the table. But after one of those endless minutes, she turned her face away and closed her eyes. The fingers that had tangled in her hair slid out so she could press that palm into her forehead. The hand that blocked his path had been shaking the whole time but that too was drawn in so she could search for that rubber strap.

He helped her fingers find it, and even helped her get it to her mouth. “Are you sure you don’t want an anesthetic?” He had to ask. This next task was going to be even more agonizing than a few, short, scalding seconds of cauterization. He was certain she would pass out from the pain. The girl had some amazing fortitude, but going into this kind of surgery awake and without pain killers was just madness.

“No...needles,” she panted before the strap was in place. It was a simple request; she didn’t decline anything topical though. Perhaps there was something else sitting on a shelf, layered with dust that would suffice. She was on the verge of passing out as if from everything toppling over at once to drown her entire being. Too much was too much. But Salvador wasn’t always the best listener. What would she do if he stuck her anyway?

He had, indeed, thought to bring topical anesthetics, but they would do little to smother the pain that was to come. Salvador looked into her cloudy eyes for several silent seconds and considered her sincerity. He knew what madness felt like. She had been witness to his own insanity by visiting his dreams, not too very long ago. The nightmares he had survived were nothing he would have wished on his worst enemies. It’s why he was adamantly against breeding. He never wanted to create another creature who suffered the way he did. Not for the second time he considered gifting her with the mercy of a swift and clean death.

Instead, he looked at the collection of instruments on the cart beside him. He finished tearing her dress asunder with his hands, set aside the scissors, and took up what remained of the disinfectant. He upended the bottle over her chest and wiped away dirt and blood with a clean towel. Once the skin was dry, he slathered on the topical anesthetic with a clean sponge. Every action he made was clinical; he didn’t even succumb to the instinct to rape her with his eyes. After waiting what he deemed a sufficient amount of time for the numbing agent to take effect, he picked up a scalpel, pressed down on her sternum with one hand, and began to carve her open between the ribs.

It was a moment of trust between them, a fragile thing that she’d left in his hands along with her life. Perhaps one day she would remember his choice to keep it safe, at least for the time being. She lay still and silent while he’d shredded what was left of her dress. Once the filth had been wiped clean from her chest, the area of concern was highlighted by an ugly, purple-black bruise low on the right side of her ribs. Her skin had taken on such a pallor that it started to look gray. For the time being her eyes remained opened, focus transfixed on something behind him.

There was a place she had pulled herself into. It reminded her of the strong arms that used to be around her every night, safe. Those threads that had been holding her there in the conscious were starting to unravel. Two seconds after his hand pressed down on her sternum, those strings snapped and she was gone with one last crackled exhale. Her hand tapped on the table quietly when her fingers slipped free of the strap.

[End scene.]
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Mesteno
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Re: Karma

Post by Mesteno » Sat Oct 12, 2019 11:54 am

[OOC: Taken from live play with Gideon.]

May 2nd, 2012

Not at the inn, not at the wharf, not roaming the streets, not in the markets, not in the maze of alleys where the scent of Aoife had gone cold...

The Sadist was nowhere to be found. Not that Gideon was looking all that hard, mind you. Not that he was looking at all. But if the lean, blood and gold haired man happened to turn up in one of those places Gideon prowled... well, he would not have complained.

No such luck though. And the mild desire for company turned from a fancy to an itch, from an itch to a burn, and soon enough he'd traveled the lengths from complete apathy to concern - if Aoife lived, odds were perhaps she'd already struck a blow in retaliation.

It wasn't nearly as difficult as he'd anticipated to tRack the Sadist to his home. Press a coin in the right hand and someone was bound to point you in the right direction. The edges of the sun were still burning the horizon red as a bellows fire when he rapped the backs of knuckles against the door of the Roman's home, a single story cabin with vast, floor to ceiling windows looking out over a vine choked front porch. The dying light stung skin pleasantly, lent the dead man stolen color that eased the pallor of him slightly. He paced the porch as he waited for the door to be answered, tugging loose leaves of the vines here and there, letting them fall from his fingers idly.

When Mesteno appeared, he was clad in the most threadbare of old, button-down shirts, dark, loose cut slacks that wouldn't bother new injuries, and travelled barefoot across a floor devoid of furniture save for a single, battered looking leather couch. Rachmaninov's piano concertos were playing from a grashy sound system somewhere.

Just now he'd be hard pressed to appear intimidating with burned hands, char-blistered in strictly binding dressings, right leg wrapped from ankle to knee, gait stiffened as a result of similar injury. He opened the door to regard Gideon.

"You're an early riser I see." That redness at the horizon's edge. It surprised him that he could stand it.

Gideon returned Mesteno's regard with a dispassionate once, well, twice over with the sharp cut of ice water blues cast over his shoulder. Bandages. Bad temper. Worse outfit. Pointless observation. Yes, the Sadist was just fine. An ice-pick smile curled itself cheshire-slow across handsome features made all odd angles and sharp shadows in the fading orange light as he tried to work out whether it was relief or disappointment that eased the tightness in his chest.

"I didn't know how long of a night it would need to be." Gideon could stand more than most when it came to the dying light. Partially due to the age of his sire, partially to all the circumstances he'd been in - self-inflicted and otherwise - that had hardened him to the point where even the very edges of dawn couldn't quite kill him, even if they did leave him with a nasty scalding. "You're still alive I see." He turned to face the other, slow paces killing space gradually. He nodded toward the bandaged hands. "If a little worse for wear."

Gideon himself had forgone the habitual bespoke suits he wore like second skins, opted for dark jeans beaten into softness, the worn comfort of one of True's dark shirts, and the coddle of a dark grey hoodie under a fitted black leather motorcycle jacket, it's stiff circular collar just brushing his chin as he canted his head to one side.

"How's your sleep?"

Mesteno hesitated there in the doorway as if he were still puzzled at the vampire's appearance, or deciding whether to invite him inside. Some bloodlines could not enter without one, he knew. Others would walk wherever the Hell they liked. After a few minutes of indecision he stepped out onto the uneven decking to join him, hooking the very ends of his thumbs into the low-slung pockets of his slacks. Perhaps they'd been someone else's, once upon a time. They were overlarge enough to sit dangerously low on the scythe sharp angles of his hips.

"Decided a Dreamwalker wasn't enough trouble, so I decided to start dabbling in arson," Mesteno replied, not bothering to make the lie convincing.

"Arson is it?" The cut of cold eyes followed the downward slide of jeans and angles of those hips unapologetically. Gideon blinked slowly and when next eyes opened they were refocused upon the Sadist's face, his own features tinted with dry humor. "Tsk. Clumsy with the matches were we?"

He wasn't that thick, and his tone told of his disbelief.

Mesteno leaning up against the railing, observing Gideon like some exotic bird flown in that he wasn't sure whether to hold still and observe or try to cage. The current plumage might be a little drab, but Mesteno was forgiving enough if the architecture beneath pleased. He'd seen enough to know it did. "Is that why you came? To find out if Aoife's plaguing me?" he asked, tone touched by earnest good humour. "I've nothing to report on that front. But I haven't had Salvador knocking on my door either, demanding to know what we did to her. Fuck knows, she could be rotting in a ditch somewhere or just biding her time."

"Yes,” Gideon admitted, “I came to find out if she was plaguing you, or if you'd found her, or heard anything. I've been hunting for nights now. I ought to have been able to find her, trail or no. It's like she's vanished off the face of the bloody planet. She's not skipping through your nightmares, then perhaps she's not recovered yet, or better still perhaps she actually died and had the decency to dispose of herself down at the wharf when she did so."

Mesteno kicked a heel onto one of the lower rails where he leaned, toes faintly grass stained and the great, blood and gold mantle of his hair clinging to the hard lines of his back. "Who told you how to find me, Gideon? You don't belong out in the suburbs."

No more than Mesteno did. Which was the point. No one was supposed to think to come looking for him here.

Gideon wandered over toward the railing, turned his back to it and lifted himself to balance a seat upon the topmost rail, elbows coming to a rest upon thighs as he rested feet upon one of the lower rails. He shrugged off the question.

"A little bird sung. You think you don't draw attention with that hair? Between that and the way you walk I'd bet half the city would admit to recognizing you. The red wolf. That's what the urchin who pointed me here called you. Interesting imagery - but I can see where he got it from." He glanced up at the house, gaze travelling along the wall of windows. "You found my home easily enough. At least I knocked."

Which was perfectly true, of course. The provocative letter Mesteno had left for Gideon in the aftermath of his public humiliation by Kestrel had been too tempting an opportunity to resist.

"I was proving a point when I left you that note. But true 'nough, you did knock. I suppose I should be thankful you didn't just make yourself a hole in the glass. I'm not too hot with the whole domesticity… fixin' shit stuff." As if that weren't obvious. He slipped a look over the dilapidated porch as if suddenly, sharply becoming aware of the disrepair, annoyed that Gideon had got to see it at all since it would give him more ammunition for their verbal wrestling.

"No." He agreed to the estimation of Mesteno's domesticity, "You're like me. Better at breaking things than fixing them." Gideon had an odd way of giving no weight at all to the tone of his observations, as if what passed for truth simply was, there was no great revelation that lived in calling a thing by its name in his eyes. For all his skill at lies and masks and deceptions, it was perhaps an even greater talent yet that Gideon had with barefaced honesty. It was disarming, and sometimes, more than a little unsettling. The wrong clothes on that sort of man.

"Aoife is good at hiding,” Mesteno informed him. “And there are places creatures like her can go to escape detection, so even if you can't find her, it's likely she's still waiting around. You know next time she probably won't be satisfied just tying me up in a room for a few days, she'll want more substantial payback. And if she can't get to you in your dreams she'll find another way."

Mesteno saw Gideon grimace his disappointment, but didn’t apologise for not sharing his optimism. Aoife had managed to invade the head of another being who didn't dream, and Mesteno wasn’t likely to forget that. Perhaps his expression darkened because of the subject in general. Or perhaps it was evidence of some deviant machination he mulled over. Either way, it seemed to pass like a cloud that'd drifted over the sun, the light flooding back a moment later in a wolfish show of hard, straight teeth.

"The way I walk, Gideon? And how's that? Would you care to demonstrate?" He gestured generously to what would be his catwalk, the long stretch of porch with its treacherous looking decking. No, really, he wanted to see this!

Dark brow rose slowly, one arching as the Sadist made demands about his observation. He shook his head at the invitation to pantomime it. Like hell that was going to happen.

"Yes, the way you walk. Because it's not a walk. It's a prowl. Like someone constantly hungry - or angry. Or both." Or someone with a stick wedged so far up his ass it was clanking against his molars. Gideon kept that one to himself.

“That's a fair assessment," he admitted of his walk, "but it's better than some peacock swagger." Mildly disappointed that Gideon wasn't about to oblige him with a performance, the sharply boned shoulders hitched out a shrug beneath the oversized shirt, giving the briefest indication of the framework beneath the swamping fabric; long and lean. Men as coltish as that were rarely as sharply cut as he was, but his clothing gave no indication that he was anything other than fragile, scrawny.

"Peacock swagger." Gideon repeated, sotto voce, his tone making the words a wry mimicry, eyes rolling. Then he nodded once more toward the bandaged hands, and slid off his perch upon the railing to reach out and open palm. Demand. Offering. "Let me see."

"You won't be able to see much," Mesteno warned, gingerly lifting one bandage bound example at the request (because he wouldn't have offered it if he'd thought it a demand, would he? Such a shame that those long, fine fingers had been so badly scorched, even the nails darkly discoloured by it, and if the flesh which showed was angry looking, the swaddled palms must have been worse. He did his best to keep the tremor from showing, but there was a touch of it when he uncurled his fingers stubbornly, like it was nothing.

Gideon bent his dark head over the hand offered to him, and carefully pulled loose one end of the bandaging to unwind the gauze from round the lower half of his palm. He sucked air through sharp teeth at the mess of scalded, scorched flesh beneath. If there was one pain on earth Gideon could identify with, it was burning. He glanced from the charred, blister-boiled flesh up at the Sadist. Silent question and hard, sharp study.

There was a certain obduracy in the necromancer’s face which suggested he was only allowing the examination because he refused to bow to the discomfort, but it didn't entirely hide the uncharacteristic vulnerability in golden eyes, bright in a gloriously febrile way. He hadn’t expected Gideon to peel away the bandages, but judging by the way his pupils narrowed as he began, he was expecting the pain that came of it.

The wound beneath was not infected, but the gauze still clung wetly to the cracked flesh and he looked very much as if he wanted to shudder, or perhaps punch Gideon. If only his hands hadn't been so tender.

"You can call up shadows that can hold me down. You can make a bloody spider that can turn my closet into a mess of webs overnight. But you can't heal yourself?" Gideon asked quietly.

One of these things was not like the others, but try telling the non-believer vampire about the subtleties of difference in magic, necromancy, and other arcane practices.

"Healing is pretty much the exact opposite of what my energies do," Mesteno confided. "My teacher, he's capable of fleshkrafting, but he's also fucking ancient, I have no idea how he does it." Nor did he expect to ever reach such a grand old age himself. He found some comfort in the thought that he might one day, tired, have an end to it all that he didn't have to hunt down himself.

The ice of Gideon’s eyes slid from the other's face back to their examination of that hand, and he reached up, pushed an index finger against one of the needle sharp teeth that camouflaged itself well behind normal canines, and pricked the skin. Black blood welled at its tip and he lowered his hand to draw the smear of the oil-slick blood straight across the wounded palm he held.

Normally Gideon knew what effect this would have. A gentle tingle, a soft tickling curl of pleasure as skin knit, healed, renewed. But Mesteno wasn't a normal human.

"What're you doing?" Mesteno asked, more sharply than he'd intended, and there was an indecisive moment where he looked like he might jerk his hand free rather than allow what he intended. It was pleasurable, no doubt about it, and it almost made up for the agony of the transient pressure against the cracked skin, but nothing mended. His body worked in ways so directly opposite to the ways in which they should that his flesh seemed to swallow it up instead through the spasm-tender muscle of the palm, consuming it. He felt a strange heat there, as if it had served as some catalyst, offered energy that his body liked, was hungry for, but nought else.

There were things on this world that were rare indeed. Hen's teeth. Fish's feet. Lead spontaneously turning into gold. And then there was that look of genuine and utter surprise on Gideon's face. It was rather, like watching one go through those stages of grief. Denial. Anger. Bargaining...so forth and even the acceptance was dubious, distrustful. It was more than a double take that had him looking from that hand to Mesteno and back and forth again until he was shaking his head slowly.

"I've never seen... I don't...how is it...?" Dark brows came down hard, gathered toward one another as he fixed the Sadist with the skewer of a stare.

Mesteno was careful when he withdrew his hand from Gideon, as if the surprise he saw registering upon that pretty face were likely to be followed by violence. Violence he didn't mind, but his hands... He'd a certain fondness for them. Relied upon them too much. The re-curling of his fingers was like the slow closing of some sun-loving plant come dusk, or the jaws of a Venus flytrap languidly closing over a stickily trapped fly.

"Don't ask me to explain the specifics of it," he told him quietly. "I don't know them myself." That was not to say he lacked suspicions, but nothing he'd any real proof of.

Gideon didn't stop Mesteno taking his hand back, though features shuttered somewhat at the withdrawl. He was never cruel without prompting, or else without proper enticement. Though he had no inkling of why that hand was pulled back, the way it closed on itself spoke loudly enough of the desire to protect, and from that, distrust. He cleared his throat, gave space as he lent back against the railing once more, one shoulder lifting, the leather of his jacket creaking softly against the motion.

"What if you drank instead? Would you heal then?" Purely clinical curiosity. Right.
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Re: Karma

Post by Mesteno » Sat Oct 12, 2019 12:42 pm

[OOC: Continued...]

A surprising, and tempting offer. Mesteno’s gaze licked unsubtly over the side of the vampire's throat, or what could be seen of it. "I don't know if it would work. There's a chance..." Doubt it, if this didn't work, "but wouldn't there be risks?" He didn't think he'd end up turned, but he knew there was the possibility of thrall, addiction. Or had been with the other bloodsuckers he'd known. "I'm not very good at stopping." He told him bluntly.

"Risks? I say yes, but I don't think you'd ghoul like a normal human being...so...no?" Gideon spread both hands wide in a helpless gesture of 'fucked if I know'. He let them fall against the outsides of his thighs. "It's addictive as hell...but again...who knows if you'd be affected."

A slow smile pulled the edges of his generous mouth upward with a fox-sly slant.

"I think I am more than capable of stopping you. And if more than a month at Elias' hands didn't drain me dry, I think you could take what you wanted and not do me any permanent harm."

"Probably not then," Mesteno agreed, "but I can tell you now that it would affect me in other ways. What you did then, with your finger...It was sign enough." His lips thinned and his expression darkened, became deeply introspective. The hooding of his eyes was by-product of this, rather than the bedroom drowsy gaze it might have looked, and he pushed away from the railing to pace a short distance away, back turned to him and the great, burnished mantle of his hair slithering lazily across his back and shoulders. "It would not give you other things? It wouldn't let you see into my head, I mean." That would be just as foolish as allowing Aoife in voluntarily, and that had gone badly enough.

"It wouldn't give me anything." Gideon replied, chest rising as he drew a slow, unnecessary breath, crossed arms to the whine of leather sliding against itself. "I could see what you wanted me to, and I could find you again if I wanted. Blood calls to blood - hence the addiction of it. But it's not some skeleton key into your head whenever I choose."

He shook his head and straightened himself from his lean.

"Look, I offered it if it will help." The cold shards of eyes regarded the bandaged mess of hands pointedly. "Burns...well." Something tugged at one corner of his mouth. If it was a smile it might have been an apologetic one. If it was a smile, those eyes didn't follow suit. "If it's a problem though, forget about it. I've heard the phrase the road to hell was paved with good intentions, I just had no idea I'd ever meet that path's actual bricklayer." The sickle of his smile shone in the gathering dark. That sun was well and truly down by now, the memory of its colors trapped in the blood and gold fire of hair and the whiskey-gold irises of the other male.

There was no light on in the cabin to spill over onto the porch, and Sanctuary, as Mesteno's wide-sprawling property was called, had descended into moth and bat light. Everything cast in argent monochrome beneath the gaze of Rhy'Din's twin moons. Rachmaninov had long ago ended, swung from Puccini to Pachelbel and Massenet. Currently, it was the soft, mournful tones of Albinoni's Adagio in G minor. It seemed as if the fiery eyed red-head had a taste for the sort of forlorn music people associated with the stereotypical kindred of literature.

The absence of reply Mesteno let drag out was not unpleasant with the music there, though he had turned back to face Gideon, watching him as if he might be able to pick out the same unguarded honesty he'd seen in that moment of surprise. If only the eyes had matched up to the smiles more often.

"What the Hell, it can't hurt to try," he decided, instinct making up his mind for him as he stepped across to where his unexpected guest was leaning against the dilapidated railing. "It's been a while," he warned unnecessarily, fingers kept deliberately still at his sides because the compulsion to grab hold would result in them grasping painfully, doing more harm than good. "And I can't make it feel good, the way you do." Not that it mattered. Gideon seemed to get a kick out of being hurt.

Gideon’s eyes matched up with that mouth as his smile faded with the other's approach, entire countenance taking on something of a more thoughtful slant as he uncrossed his arms and studied the lean, starved-whippet of a man before him. If he were unkind he would have smirked at the 'it's been a while', would have made some sexual reference, some crude joke about taking his time. He kept those to himself for the moment, and lent forward, reaching to deftly pull that short knife from where it hid on Mesteno's person, by his belt line, toward the back. Yes, he remembered.

It had laid his throat open once before, hadn't it?

So slender a thing should not have looked so deadly, but the flash of the moon's reflected light off the keenly sharpened, tapering edge was a sure reminder of how deeply it had bitten when it cut a dark, wet smile into the vampire's throat. Gideon wanted to say that he wasn't offering this for his own benefit, for some sick, reverse ploy at the pleasure he could induce. Instead it was the brat that spoke. Poking that sleeping bear.

"If you could...make it feel good, that is... and you did? I think I'd be sorely disappointed in you." Cheshire grin. "Can you hold a knife, or should I do the honors?" He held the borrowed blade in his open palm.

Later Mesteno might regret that very same choice of words despite Gideon's uncharacteristic benevolence, but he was thinking more about the taste, and a hunger he'd left unsated for such a painfully extended period. It should have been his hands, not his appetite he was thinking of remedying.

"Indulge me," he said instead, in hushed tones. "Knives are a little too civilised. I prefer to use my teeth." I'm sure you understand. Of course the nature of their teeth was very different. Mesteno had no fangs to speak of, only the lacklustre canines of any human man. They weren't filed, they would not lengthen at will, which meant he had to work for his meals when he took them, and those he stole it from had to suffer the very real, prolonged agony of crushing mastication, of wounds far larger and messier than neat little punctures. "It's your choice of course. You're being kind enough to...donate."

There was an odd little twitch at the outside corner of Gideon’s left eye.

"Chewing then. Lovely." He deadpanned, and flipped the knife in his hand so he held hilt in his fist, then drove the thing home in the pillar of the railing beside him, shoving the blade deep as it would go. Have fun pulling that one out. "If you wish."

It was, of course, euphoric, and Mesteno took a great deal more than Gideon had supposed he would need. Perhaps he'd required large amounts to have any effect though, because the cells seemed to be regenerating with a slower, less pronounced measure of success than it would in others. It was working though. The necrotic tissue of his damaged hands and injured leg replaced by gradually plumping, healthy muscle and skin, tender (and he grasped at Gideon so hard it kept bruising, splitting before it had chance to become whole) and as vividly red as a scald from boiled water.

There came a point where Mesteno's body was saturated, his stomach so full it hurt, but it was only this lack of capacity which stopped him, not an overdose, so to speak. The vicious suction of his mouth softened, the cruel work of teeth seeking to keep a healing wound from closing, ceased. He was breathing hard by then, having starved himself of oxygen by devoting all his efforts to feeding instead, and something caught half way between a groan and laughter slipped out.

Gideon shuddered, and held as still as he could - the way a man might freeze to keep a wild animal from being startled off - though he relaxed, felt the domino-fall of tension bleed away from shoulders downward.

He released his grip upon a ring he'd found along Mesteno's spine and let fingers span wide across a shoulderblade. His hand smoothed upward as he turned the press of his chin from the crook of Mesteno's arm hooked round his neck and shoulder, and turned his face into the hollow of the Sadist's own throat. Blood and gold of long hair tickled as it brushed against his face, forcing eyes to close against it. He inhaled deeply, and scent along with heat flooded nostrils. He let his hand slide up, under the mess of hair to close coolly upon the nape of his neck. One quick clench and he could crush the spinal column under the delicious warmth of the skin pressed against his palm, and if the Sadist were lucky all he'd be was a quadriplegic. Men put more effort into swatting flies than he would have had to put into snuffing out Mesteno's life.

There was something to be said for Gideon that the thought didn't even cross his mind. Instead, he curled fingers inward slightly and raked them up into the thicket and tangle of copper fire, drawling lines along his scalp.

"Better?" He asked quietly.

The aftermath was a good feeling, for Mesteno a sensation not unlike being buoyed by heated waters, kept effortlessly afloat. The fever-warmth that the blood had suffused him with did not ebb immediately, and had he been conscious enough of himself at that point to analyse his body's reactions he might have marvelled at how it worked in him. Took some of the ache from bones recently broken and hardly healed, seemed to dissolve away some of the stiffness that the scar tissue caused and left him feeling indecently supple instead. Gideon had done him a larger favour than he might have imagined.

And potentially fucked himself in the process, if a Dreamwalker came calling again.

Distantly he was aware of Gideon's movements, small adjustments in the way they were aligned, but if it ever occurred to him to be concerned that a vampire had its face pressed in against his throat, it must have been fleeting. Unimportant. Later. Later, he could be appalled at himself that he'd been such a glutton as to drink himself into absurd, lackadaisical vulnerability.

He shared his warmth with the frigid bodied leech, allowed the stealing of a scent that was all rich blood and skin's salt, leather and metal and something that did not belong (a hint of apple in there, too) and when the fingers raked up and into his hair he loosened, leaned against him as if all the strength were gone from his bones and he'd been reborn something molten at the core.

He had to swallow against what felt like it might be blood clogging his throat thickly before he could reply, head turned so that his nose was in Gideon's hair. "No. It was terrible. Might have to try again." He never had been able to lie convincingly.

Gideon's turn to laugh, the sound muffled in the hollow of shoulder and neck where tendon and trapezium rose sharply, created a mound of lean muscle that could make one hell of a grip for teeth. He let that thought come, wash over him, and slide away. Temptation passed. He lifted his head, slid his hand from the mess of hair he'd dug it into, slow enough not to catch in tangles and tear. It cupped itself round the sharp of Mesteno's jaw and eased him back a bit, enough to let Gideon get a look at him. The dull phosphorescence of pale eyes in the dark ticked over his face. Leisurely observation, thinly veiled excuse to make sure that he hadn't inadvertently let the man ghoul himself into some kind of waking zombie with that amount of blood.

Mesteno wasn't invulnerable to ghouling, but he'd given none of his own blood (Gideon had been gentleman enough not to press the issue) and these days he was stronger, more powerful than he'd been once upon a time when a vampire named Sinjin had let him drink a little too often to avoid a bonding.

"Amazing. How pleasant you can be when you forget to be so hateful," Gideon remarked. "Looks good on you." Dripping with sarcasm as it might be, his tone was not unpleasant, good nature mingling with that dark sense of humor. He ran his thumb under Mesteno's lower lip, smeared the blood from his chin and brought the thumb to his own mouth to suck it clean. He'd forgotten completely about the grip he seemed to have on the front of the other's jeans. Convenient.

"I haven't forgotten," Mesteno muttered, "I don't hate you. At the moment, anyway..." Like it might be prone to change! But there was a light-hearted aspect to his words which suggested hate might be a thing of the past. Men that hated one another did not stand as carelessly close as they did, and the Sadist did not seem repulsed. "Gratias," he told him, sounding beautifully, wonderfully drunk on what he'd swallowed.

"Salutatio." Gideon returned, his smile gone fox-sly. So much temptation. And so fascinating to get a glimpse of the man with his guard down and armor abandoned momentarily.

His reaction to it all confused him more than a little. It was rather like watching a wild thing be tamed. There was the frustration at the headstrong, violent, needlessly cruel bastard that he'd first known, and curiosity at what lay beneath, what could be obtained, distilled from the raw vitrol of him... and then suddenly this gentled version offered itself up...and he found himself almost grieving to have the prickly, angry, spitting hellion back. Almost. He pushed his thumb back against Mesteno's lower lip, pushed and pulled down slightly against the easy, tender give. He was a hair's breadth away from claiming that mouth before he stopped himself, pulled back, shutting the open want of his own mouth firmly.

It took no small amount of willpower to release the other's chin...and his jeans. Eyes fell to regard the fabric clutched tight and one by one he opened the trap of fingers. "Give it time." He murmured. The advice he offered anyone who didn't hate him just yet.

"So keen to give me reason?" Mesteno asked, accent thicker, a slow drawl to the words.

The dead man's eyes rose slow and he offered up a smile. Perfect mask of civility. Only the eyes didn't follow the lead of his mouth. "I ought to go." Should have been the thing that came out of his mouth. Unfortunately, the combination of curiosity, the deliciously pliant mood of the Sadist, and his own innate wickedness got the better of him. Why let an opportunity pass you by?

"Tell me something." He murmured, voice pitched low, the velvet of tone dripping honey with that maddening, undeniable charm he affected so well. His hand turned, splayed fingers across the flat landscape of the other's lean stomach, slid over the grooves of musculature, his shirt riding up in furrows against his wrist. "What is your greatest fear? What are you most terrified of?"
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Re: Karma

Post by Mesteno » Sat Oct 12, 2019 2:26 pm

[OOC: Continued...]


If Gideon missed the Hellion, he wouldn't need to do much to wake it again. Even as molten as Mesteno seemed now, there was a subtle, very real potential for things to turn. Sharp, unpredictable...and then he'd be lamenting the brevity with which the Sadist had been so pleasantly accomodating. Surely it was a good thing that he didn't claim the blood smeared mouth, for if he hated his own taste so vehemently he'd find it there, clinging to tongue and teeth in traces.

Drunk on that taste though he might have been, Mesteno was not blind, and his unfocused gaze seemed to lick hotly down to the vampire's parted lips, before he made that deliberate effort to close it. Did he smile, then? So knowing. His fingers peeled up off Gideon's hip, closed ungently around the wrist of the hand touching his stomach as if to keep it there. The hard contours of musculature were savagely divided, abstract furrows of trenched scarring littering the warm skin. It wouldn't have been pretty to look at. Far better to feel.

"If I told you, you'd know as much as she does. Then I'd have to kill you," he told him, and he might have sounded more serious were he not so high on blood and sensation.

"That would be incredibly ambitious of you." Gideon fairly purred, a smile tugging insistently at one corner of his mouth. He lifted one shoulder and let it drop slowly. His fingertips slid against the long divot of a scar, trapped there against the other's abdomen. "Because if I had to guess I couldn't. But all men fear. We all have one thing we are running from. You're just the only person I've ever met who doesn't seem to. You have things that motivate you...yes."

He canted his head, eyes sliding to regard the hand gripping tightly at his wrist. His thumb ran a gradual semi-circle round the edge of his navel.

"This vendetta against Aoife is the first time I've seen you do something out of fear instead of anger, or amusement. So you aren't the only man in the world who doesn't have a demon haunting him. I'm just curious to know what someone like yourself could fear. And not what scares you. What is the one thing that you would give anything to stop?"

Thanks to the blood, sensation was heightened, as if the nerves were more responsive as a result of his drinking, and Mesteno let go the wrist he held when it was clear it wasn't about to stop, utterly self-indulgent.

"You're asking an awful lot," he murmured, pupils shrinking pin-point narrow, a sure sign that he was recovering from the daze, gathering his wits again. The idle hand lifted, stroked along the patch of throat he'd mauled, following the contour of a tendon and down towards the clavicle, a single fingertip slip-sliding into the hollow at the base. It seemed only right that if one could touch, so could the other. "Did I miss hearing you say that I'd have t'spill secrets in your ear for that little drink?" Downplaying the magnitude. As if he hadn't near drowned himself in it.

"Asking is the key word there. I am asking, not demanding...." Gideon's chin lifted, head tilting the opposite direction to allow the exploration of fingers across skin that showed no evidence of the torment it had just been through, save for the dark stain of blood lingering upon it like an ink spot. His tone had gone dry, though an edge of humor still clung to it. "No charge for the drink. Not everything comes with a price tag."

Mesteno's hand abandoned that spot at the collar bone to slide around behind the nape of his neck, nails dragging roughly."Uncommonly generous," he murmured quietly of the 'little drink' he'd dubbed it, and his fingers fanned over the nape, before pinching inwards as if he meant to scruff him before relaxing again, playing lightly in the fine hairs at the hairline.

Gideon's breath hissed between sharp teeth and luminous eyes shuttered. He hung his head, gone pliant as a cat being scratched in just the right spot.

"I have my fears," Mesteno admitted after a moment, "and she's seen them, and their causes. It's a weakness, and if you're looking for what scares me, shouldn't that be enough? I don't like being weak, Gideon. I'm human. I'm brittle. I go to great lengths to be otherwise. Your turn. What do the dead fear?"

"Fire. Sunlight. Each other. Being found out." The standard list spilled out of Gideon. No surprises there. But these were just things that scared, not any of them half so bad as what he truly feared above all things. "I'm not looking for what scares you. I'm looking for proof of life. What makes you." He lifted his head a fraction of an inch and with his hand freed, slid it round over the sharp furrows of ribs to seek out one of the rings he'd felt through the fabric of his shirt earlier, one fascination bleeding into another. Fingertips featherlight around the point were the metal jutted from skin, the juxtaposition of warm flesh and cooler, smoother steel a jarring one. One of the interesting little things about being a vampire - how lost they could get in small details. Refined senses lent themselves to a wholly different experience of the world than most other species ever got to enjoy. Gideon could lose himself for hours in something as simple as a scar, finding worlds within worlds.

That and he was a creature that craved touch.

"Weak. Well, I can understand. You helped me with that once, yourself."

"A man is made by what he achieves," Mesteno remarked quietly, "I intend to live as fully as I can, and whether that's a few more years or a few decades, I really don't care. I was supposed to be dead and buried by now. I'm disinclined to do anything that's not of my choice with my extra time."

Nor, it became readily apparent, did he intend to part ways without ruining the occasion by further cruelty. It was he who backed away first, snarling 'bastard' at the hands' experimenting, his own hale again. Apparently even a cessation to the agony of the burns wasn't enough to blunt his tongue however, and a cutting remark sent a disgusted Gideon from Sanctuary, stung and angry.

[End scene.]
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Re: Karma

Post by Mesteno » Sat Oct 12, 2019 5:36 pm

[OOC: Taken from live play with Aoife Duggan.]

Thursday, Jul 26, 2012


Sometimes things don’t work out as planned. And even after that anything could happen. Anything could happen in the Dreaming too, just ask a Dreamwalker. Double, double toil and trouble, fire burn and caldron bubble. Snow White was sleeping soundly but not because she bit into the poisoned apple. Avoiding death was taxing on the soul, experiencing it was painful, and watching it shattered everything.

It’s been days since Salvador had found her huddled in a crate, bleeding and broken and flirting with Life itself because she didn’t care anymore. He’d stolen her away and created more pain for the healing, leaving her then to herself and the world that lay behind her eyes in the shadows of her mind. Everything in that smoke filled Between had been turned upside down, pulled from her control and and lay in the hands of another. Hands that were stained red and promised nothing but black. But she took it back.

She’d been in this place once before with Judah Bishop, trapped behind a soundless window while he was used in a sick game that tested their strength, bled secrets, toyed with her sanity. Everyone got a turn on that ride. Even those who aren’t waiting in line, like a certain miserable Sadist who had it coming. Perhaps he felt his hair being pulled once he fell into sleep, a gentle tug to come hither this way in a place where there was nothing but bright white.

It had been months since they’d last shared a dreamscape, since she’d been invited into his head as a potential saviour and cast aside any foolish trust he’d harboured by putting the scalpel to his skin. He’d considered himself lucky when she hadn’t come back for more, and yet after the debacle with Gideon beneath the Turkish baths, he’d have been a fool not to expect another visitation.

He slept these days only reluctantly, wearing the stains of exhaustion beneath his eyes rather than risking a night at her whims, but no man could put it off forever. In the deep bedding of a vacant stall at Sam’s farm he’d finally succumbed, pitchfork propped against the wall and a barrow stationed nearby. He’d only meant to sit for a few minutes whilst the world stopped spinning, but the moment his head slumped against the wall he was lost.

And where was he now?

It was so rare for him to dream of a somewhere he didn’t know, too often clinging to memories (even those thick with torment) as if reliving them was essential to their clarity, so if there was a pull at his hair, he let himself be lured by it, curious rather than afraid. Where else was there to go?

The somewhere dream Mesteno had fallen into was not his but the mismatched, recrossed threads of another’s nightmare. Specific details had been rewoven as gift for the Dreamwalker who was reliving it, all of it to the feed the sadistic nature of the creator. She did not like his gifts anymore. Once before she’d begged, raged, pleaded, swore to be good. She’d promised the Keeper the world and all the pretty things in it but he wouldn’t take it back. This time, sedate and silent, she watched while trapped in the Nowhere room above it all with the keys to the car.

White. Everything was white. Four plastic swathed walls made a room no bigger than ten by ten. They rose up to a ceiling that seemed an eternity high. The fluorescent glow from the one suspended light in the center flickered like a sequence from a horror film. Funny thing, even though that light faltered, there weren't any shadows. Because it was bright and always white. There were no windows. Blended into a wall was the outline of a door with a tiny view hole near the very top, just big enough for a face. Mesh wire was sandwiched between thick, plexi-glass plates. There was nothing but darkness on the other side. The air around him stank of lemon scented antiseptic cleaner and something else very familiar that painted a picture of sweetness and sin.

There was nothing else in the room with him except a small figure who sat cross legged upon a faded blue blanket facing the rear wall. Her back was to the world while she played in one of her own. She had a head full of pitch black hair that spilled unevenly down her back to tickle the shine stained, white floor. Bony elbows rested on bony, scrub covered knees. He could have likely blown her over with a single breath. “Did you come to smell the flowers?” asked the girl child with a quiet, familiar sing-songy burr.

The brightness unnerved him. Here he was removed from the shadowy sanctuaries he preferred and cast unforgivingly into a hard, white world that kept his eyes narrowed against the glare. Flicker flash light above them serving no purpose beyond it’s own, unsubtle torture and a silence which felt unnatural. He felt for once like prey, caught in a wide open space where anyone, anything might see him, and so held still while his sight adjusted.

Nothing. Nothing but a small girl, hair ink-blot dark in a pale world he didn’t recognise, but in the way of dreams, he’d a concern that she’d turn and be something else. A thing he was trapped with and could not avoid. Don’t turn around, he thought, but her voice shattering the silence was almost as bad.

In his own dreams he couldn’t smell anything, never thought to even try, but the question had him inhaling tentatively as if he suspected in a place as unknown as this, anything might be possible.

“There are no flowers here,” he told her. “You’d have to go outside.” Though the view hole offered no promise of a way out on the other side of that door. It seemed as dark out there as it was unbearably bright within. “Where am I?”

“In my garden.” She chided him. This was something he was supposed to know and her tone only pressed the matter. Her head tipped to the side and she leaned over, fingers and hands busy with a secret task. “I haven’t watered them yet today, but I’m almost ready.”

Everything remained the same. White walls, flickering light, and silence. Perhaps every now and then something like an air duct thunked softly, but there were no vents in this room. There was nothing but a girl and a squinting man and white walls.

She moved then, legs closing together so that she was now crouching and balanced on the balls of her feet. Her head was bent lower still, face near her knees. “There is no outside, only in.” Her hair slid over her shoulders with the movement exposing the thin, white ribbed tank she wore and the scapula that stuck out like sad, little wings. The hills of her spine were prominent as if she hadn’t eaten in months. “Did he bring you here to see them?”

The barren, white room was as far removed from a garden as might be achieved, and in the strange way of dreamers who don’t stop to think and hold their tongues for the sake of a little kindness, Mesteno refuted her claim.

“This is a cell,” he told her, “there are no flowers.” He might have gone further, asked her why she’d been locked away but did he really want to know? She seemed familiar, but he couldn’t be sure. Things weren’t quite right and he didn’t want to take his eyes from her to search the room for a way out that she might have missed in case she moved towards him, turned around...anything beyond staying there with her back to him.

“I don’t know who he is,” he replied. “I don’t know why I’m here. I think I’m lost.” Of course he was, but this dream was so confusing, it didn’t feel like a part of his head.

That’s because it wasn’t his head at all.

“Of course there aren’t, silly.” She was all sing-song and charm. “I haven’t made them yet.”

Careful now, Dreamer, the strange creature was on the move. Silent and fluid she stood. Such a petite, little thing who looked no more than twelve by sight alone. The scrub pants she wore hung loose on her hips and fell straight to the floor to pool over her bare feet. When she twisted to smile at him her shoulder blades stuck sharply out.

The smile would be what he’d recognize first because he’d seen it before. Everything would fall into place there after; the face, the sun stranger pale skin, and the bright bright blue eyes very near eaten up by black. “Do you like to paint?” Somewhere above them a duct groaned and hissed to life.

He couldn’t move. Not that this was one of those terrible running in place dreams, where some unseen terror chased a man down in painfully slow motion, but still his feet seemed glued, unwilling to back him up as she turned. What he saw there in the stick thin waif with the widely distorted pupils and that smile was somehow far worse.

“Oh fuck no,” he whispered, because even if his mind was slow to dredge up the details of their recent debacle of a meeting in the basement of the bath house, he still knew that she’d cause to cause trouble. Do him some serious and long lasting harm. “You!” His tone turned accusatory. “Let me out. Let me out or you’re waking up from this with more than a few cuts and scrapes.”

It would have looked monstrous to an outsider, this violently snarling man threatening a prepubescent girl, but doubtless he’d given her cause to laugh, for she didn’t have to lift a finger to please him. This was her dream, and he knew that, now.

She remained there, poised in greeting her sadistic guest with that glorious smile and innocent face as if frozen in time. Doubtless in his rage he was paying close enough attention to notice that the very edges of her form flickered with his outburst and the never-ending darkness of her pupils pulsed with each angry word. Perhaps it has just been a reflection from the broken light above. No matter, if his feet decided to move him there was no where to go. He was trapped in a windowless, white-walled room at the mercy of a girl’s dream which was nothing more that a sugar coated nightmare. But he didn’t know that now did he?

“It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay.” One, two, three times she repeated it. Behind him there was a scratching noise, a needle replaced on a record that had skipped. No one wanted to miss this song. Her first movement seemed stiff, the roll of a bare shoulder ticking up like the second hand of a clock before grace and charm replaced it with fluidity. “It’s time for the flowers to grow.” She nodded and gave him her back again before stepping up to the wall.

There was a new smell that crept up on the sterility of the room. Something sweet and inviting with the sharp underlay of copper. Tantilizing. Intoxicating.

Want it, need it, have to have it.

It grew stronger when she paused to curl in on herself, tiny shoulders rolled in and dark head bent. Her right elbow jerked out several times giving him a peek at something stained rusty brown smeared on white on her forearm. “There, all better.” She straightened and slapped a small hand on the wall, circling it round and round to spread the bright, red blood into a dandelion circle. Her painter’s brush arm was covered with gauze from wrist to elbow, soiled with yesterday’s palette of color.

It very much sure as shit was not okay. Knowing that he was dreaming, resorting to attempt to revert to that lucid dreaming where he could control things just wasn’t going to work when it was someone else’s head. He had the distinct feeling that the only way he was getting out was if she chose to let him.

“Aoife, this is not a game you’re playing,” he spat, but he could never sound as vehement as he’d have liked in dreams, and it felt short of sounding truly fierce. Particularly when the ‘flowers’ began to grow. Did you come to smell the flowers? she’d asked him. And now he understood what she meant. Scent, a sense usually rendered null in dreams was suddenly opened up to him, and he began a slow, unwelcome drowning in a scent he’d have strained towards like a leashed dog after a bitch in heat, had he been awake.

The gauze swaddled arm brought to mind the long sleeves she wore whenever they had the misfortune to meet, and the slow dawning on him that this was real, had happened to her once upon a time as surely as his own memories had made him want to close his eyes and unsee it all.

“It won’t work,” he told her. “You can’t trade me secrets. You stole mine. I don’t want these!” For who knew? He might even start developing a conscience.

“Mary, Mary, quite contrary how does your garden grow? With silver bells and cockle shells and pretty maids all in a row.” What a silly, little rhyme she sang to herself as she painted. And damn well painted near half that wall with various stems and petals, a streaky crimson garden of her very own. One of many. But red paint never lasted forever, something always took it away from her. “Secrets. I like secrets. When I bring Him secrets he gives me presents.”

Nothing he seemed to say phased her sunshiny mood nor dimmed the rainbows that were always brightly colored in her special world. “Sometimes I don’t want to share. He says I’m bad.” There were footsteps in the hall mingling with the tell tale squeak of wheels; closer and closer they crept. Louder and louder. She paused, head tipped to the side considering. “It’s almost time.” She looked over her shoulder at the door before touching him briefly with her eyes and another smile. “You’ll like it, I promise.”

One last thing, she needed to paint for him that one last thing before They came and made it all go away. A square with a cross in the middle as big as her little arms could make it. It was a window, a beloved window smeared in the center of the wall amongst all the blood red flowers in the garden.

He couldn’t dislike it, that vibrantly violent display she daubed the wall with, the colour instinctively pleasing. This Aoife was young though, how could she know? Could it be deliberate when she was still only a child? He stepped back and away from it, sullenly turning away as if to deny he knew it was there, but the scent lingered maddeningly.

“Who’s ‘he’?” he asked, and for some reason knew that he’d asked her that before. This mysterious he. It couldn’t be Judah, the man surely couldn’t have known her from such a tender age. Ah! But he remembered all at once. Tied to the anchor in that filthy little apartment, and her making her threats before she’d fled and left him there. She’d mentioned the unnamed ‘he’ then, too. Were all her games at the behest of someone else? Could she be just a tool?

Footsteps and wheels, they stole away his attempts to make sense of the mess and drew his focus back to the reinforced glass of the window. “Shut up,” he told her,” and because whatever was out there had to be better than being stuck in here, with her, he stalked towards the door to peer out, fully intending on rushing out of that horrendous, white, flickering room and into the sanctuary of the shadows beyond.

Nothing but white walls, a blinking light, and a girl in her precious garden to keep him company. No wonder his desire to leave was so...strong. The footsteps and wheels seemed to be around the corner of somewhere, the music of their sound much louder in an echo that crept underneath the door. With that echo came the sense of something wicked this way comes. The kind that agitated the special spot on the back of the neck and sent the sensitive hairs there screaming.

She took three steps back from her erratic display of artwork and replied, sounding distracted, “The Keeper of Nightmares.” She said it matter-of fact as if he should know. There were noises just outside the door. Shuffling, foot steps, then silence. A lock clocked.

“They like it when you fight. He told me so.” Behind his back she’d turned around completely to face the door when the silence threatened to consume them whole. Those three steps back repeated themselves in reverse until she was in the furthest corner of the room, arms spread wide to lay along the walls that met there. She was sharing secrets again in the treehouse and looked entirely too pleased with herself for it.

The door slammed opened nearly knocking him over and four men walked in. They were dressed in identical white uniforms and filled the space like giants preventing any escape. The funny thing about them though is that they were mirror images of each other. Two and two. And in one pairs hands were identical syringes.

“Open the door!” he bellowed, using the side of a fist to hammer on the glass, hoping to gain the attention of whatever, or whoever it was that approached. Out of sight (of course) where else? “Someone let me the fuck out!”

But she spoke the name of nightmares, and he faltered, a palm pressed up against the place where he’d been so viciously pounding as if to hide what might come slinking up beyond it. “No fucking way,” he declared. The very fae he’d been on the verge of calling upon to help him banish her from his head. She knew him? “Sanctus futue,” he spat, and leapt back from the door at the sudden noise behind it. How had he come the rest of the way so quickly? “Not him! Why is he here?”

Keeping his distance as equally as he could between the Dreamwalker and the door about to admit that terrible, screeching creature behind it. Only it wasn’t that teenage avatar he usually chose to saunter about in, but four men instead. He’d be damned if he was going to let anyone so mundane as a few men catch hold of him, particularly not men carrying needles.

He’d something of an irrational aversion to them. Perhaps more appropriately a phobia.

Look carefully, pretty Sadist, something was just not right about their faces. Where there were supposed to be eyes, nothing but empty black pits as if someone had gauged them out in a rage with a dull spoon. It was crude and harsh and in the corners they wept tears of dried blood because of it. Their lips were a sickly gray-blue, kissed soulless by Death himself. They said nothing. Couldn’t. Someone had stitched their mouths together with shiny, zigzagging thread.

The little Dreamwalker crowded in the corner laughed. It was the same as the woman he knew her to be, music to a song but sweeten by youth. “Ring around the rosey...” She sang at them when they moved further in, two toward her corner and two toward the retreating Mesteno. A pair for each so bittersweet. Their movements were stiff, steps erratic. Like a television screen fighting for a picture they flickered, static white noise bounced off the walls.

Mirror images. The first set reached with hands stained brown, fingers growing thick and gnarled like tree roots. They grew and grew the closer they got, creep curling with a stink like rotting flesh. The ones with the needles were a half waltz behind. The girl paced in her corner, laughter turning into a trickle of nervous noise that hummed in her throat. “...ashes, ashes....we all fall down..”
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Mesteno
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Re: Karma

Post by Mesteno » Sat Oct 12, 2019 5:41 pm

[OOC: Continued...]

There was no running away. The air in the room shifted and pressed in close, thick, suffocating meant to smother. Close was close enough too soon. Three steps away, always three. The ends of those dead fingers shot out like vines and curled tight about Mesteno’s chest trapping his arms at his sides constricting whatever struggle and breath he gave. The girl in the corner fared no better. Haunting laughter dripped down the walls and the light above flared bright, reflecting off the needles raised high.

“Call them the fuck off. This is your head, Aoife. You call them off!” Because she was cowering against the wall, as terrified as he refused to be, and he could see it in her. Knew that this must have happened so often that she knew the drill and that this mindless cooperation was the best way to keep from being further traumatised.

For him it was too new though, and he wasn’t ready to be defeated in the way she was. The door yawned dark and gloomy beyond the growing, mutilated figures, and his feet took him this way and that, trying to keep him from winding up cornered, trying to keep it in view, and when two peeled off directly towards her, he made to dive through the parting in their ranks, spry as a whippet in a bid for freedom.

He hadn’t anticipated the way those arms shot out though, grotesque fingers warped into vines, and his wiry limbs were rudely incapacitated, his momentum cut short so that he bellowed his fury at the ones who’d come for him. If this wasn’t her doing, then it had to be his.

“KYMEERA!” They came didn’t they? You only needed to call their name. His legs kicked wildly, trying to stretch out towards the body of the thing which held him. “KYMEERA!” His eyes rolled wildly as those of a terrified horse, the needles were coming.

Yeeessssss. One word. One voice. One hellish nightmare.

The floor broke open at Things One booted feet, linoleum tiles wilting and curling away like burnt skin. Reddish brown, corpse filled earth billowed up and over as more roots broke the surface to curl about their legs, holding them in place. Things Two moved in, arms raised in tandem for the inevitable strike.

One bare foot snatched away from the entanglement, the rising end tickling at his ankle while the other limb became rapidly rooted, but his resistance was doomed to be ephemeral. All the twisting and thrashing in the world couldn’t keep him free of it, and he loosed an animal howl of rage as he felt his toes dragged into the corpse filled earth beneath him.

Perrrrrrfect, Preciousss. Perrrrrrfect...

The light above flickered wildly sending shadows that shouldn’t be dancing from wall to wall, screaming over and over. But it wasn’t the shadows that were screaming, it was the girl he never knew. “I promise, I promise, I promise!” Musical voice that sounded like words to a song. She wasn’t struggling, she knew better. She was looking up, sickly pale and eyes near too wide for her pretty face.

Husssh, let usss sssee...

It was menacing, that laughter which followed. It filled the room from the bottom up, ominous pressure that stole breathable air until there was nothing left at all to feed their voices. Not a single sound. Mesteno could yell all he wanted and she could scream forever. It would all be empty and hollow. It wouldn’t stop Things Two from closing in. It wouldn’t stop their arms from slicing down. And it wouldn’t stop those needles from plunging into necks.

The light above shattered into a thousand pieces of glass which rained down into the room like acid drops over skin. Blackness slapped over them as the drug coursed ice through the Sadist’s veins, pulling at the threads of conscious and eating it up. Two bright spots of red burst open from the ceiling and shone down on the trapped pair below like spotlights on a stage. They were eyes, red and sinister and every horrible thing imaginable. Watching and waiting.

The girl’s head had lolled on her shoulder, cheek resting on the boney curve, bright blue eyes honed in on him. Drool shone a path from the corner of her lips to her chin. “Iss tiiime.” A promise in a slur for him to remember before it all went black.

Normally, were he awake and not made ineffectual by his own temper, he might have manipulated the shadows to help him somehow, but the horror of the situation seemed to have sabotaged rational thought, and though his furious yelling had stopped, he was practically blind with rage. It’s just a dream, he tried to convince himself, just more of her games...

Yet her screaming went on and on, deafening him, and that needle did just what he’d feared. He barked out a curse as it sank into his neck, squeezed his eyes shut and fought at the consuming cold the substance sent slithering insidiously through him. Stubbornly, he refused to submit, but in the ways of nightmares things happened whether he liked it or not. He let his eyes slit open and find Aoife’s across the room, gold fastened to blue with such accusation.

Why did she always have to look so vulnerable?

Weak from the effects of the drugs, it took him a moment to realise that there was a malevolent gaze above them, but what could he do? His limbs were going numb. His head lolled back between his shoulder blades, hair a rivering, bloody wash to lick as low as the backs of his thighs, and he was left staring up...up. Could not look away.

Those eyes glared back, ominous and bright. Red and promising. Thoroughly amused. A fetid breeze came from nowhere in a room with no windows and echoed laughter smelling like scorched flesh. It stirred his hair so that the ends tickled his arms. And like the light that that burst above, those glowing orbs winked out leaving the drowsy Sadist alone with a half-breed girl’s pathetic whimpers and revolving nightmare. Blackness enveloped him like a blanket stealing all his senses and throwing him into a deathly silence where there was nothing to see and nothing to hear.

Mesteno...she whispered.

Minutes, hours, who knew. Once those eyes of his opened he’d find himself staring at a ceiling that looked very similar to the one in the room he’d been in before. Four bright white walls, one door, and no windows. One light flickered with uncertainty high above suspended by thin chains that looked too fragile to keep the thing aloft. Cracks stretched across, jagged lines warped by time and neglect. He’d feel groggy, not really awake, limbs heavy and tingling. Should he try and move them, he’d learn that it would be futile because he was laying on his back on a gurney, arms and legs restrained at the ankles and wrists by thick, unforgiving leather straps.

There were electrodes stuck to his forehead in several places, some to his chest where his shirt had been split down the middle. Another leather strap pressed firm against his head. A machine hummed quietly next to him, buttons blinking, ready and waiting. There was a dial beneath cracked glass, numbers faded with the word watts on either side of the half circle scale. Another gurney next to him, the scene a mirror image, down to the finest detail of the blinking lights on the machine and the fan of cracks in the glass. But there was something different about this one. The metal table was empty, straps swaying back and forth as if they’d just been undone and left to hang.

There she was, the girl he never knew, up close and personal at his right side. Her image flickered with the light, a television picture that was fighting to remain clear. Static crackled, an electric charge that every single hair on his body responded to. She smiled for him, one that his sluggish brain would recognize instantly. His body may be uncooperative but his mind would have been left fresh and fully aware. “Don’t worry, it’ll be okay.” The comforting words didn’t reach the blank expression in her wild blue eyes.

But he could see in the darkness, couldn’t he? His eyes never strained in the low light, the shadows were his friends! Yet not here. This was a dream, and nothing was as it should be. A groan gurgled out of him, awareness winking out so that it seemed the dream must have ended. The fading of her screaming was welcome, and for however long it took, he drifted in that blackness, comforted by it, until the nightmare began anew.

Almost as if someone had pried his lid up with a thumb, a single eye like molten gold cracked open and stared upward, the pupil contracting down to a pinpoint as he surveyed the new predicament with a mind struggling to keep up with the brightly lit imagery. He didn’t like what he saw, and inevitably he tried to move. Between limbs sluggish with the dream-drug and the restraints, it was impossible.

This must be what it’s like in the morgue, he thought, turning his wrists in the straps because he could free himself if he tried. Dislocate the thumbs and turn them in flat to his palm, narrow the hand down until he pulled free. Only, his body was too slack muscled to comply, and the best he could manage was a few lacklustre twitches. By the time he’d accepted the futility of his attempts, there was a low, velvet laugh spilling out of him, unhinged, like he knew he was stuck for the duration. The static, the instrumentation, her...

“Do it then. Come on. Do it. You think I haven’t known worse?” The antagonistic bastard just couldn’t keep that unfairly sensual mouth shut.

He was a bastard. And she, this girl, this slip of a thing merely smiled at him with that knowing smile. Her image was never constant, like the lights that seemed to forever wink unsure. They never left room for the shadows to move in, never. But she had always been able hear them weeping. The duct in the ceiling kicked on, humming low. It was a perfect melody for the neverwhere breeze to carry the trickle of low laughter. Death, decay, and the blackest sin slithered across his skin beneath his clothes and promised him everything.

Ghostly chilled fingers pet the back of his hand over and over with a tenderness they never knew. “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the--” an innocent sing song prayer gone unanswered because before the girl could finish, a rotten breath lifted her limp black hair like raven’s wings taking flight and she dissolved into a spiral ashes all over him and the floor. A candle blown out.

Precious...it called.

“Do you think I care?”, said the woman’s purr next to his right ear. She leaned into him pressing her cheek tenderly against the side of his head, fingers toying with the hair next to his other ear. “So brave,” she murmured there. Dancing fingers waltzed up over his right shoulder and across his chest until she was able to drape her arm there in a languid stretch. She’d twirled his hair between her fingers, knotted it, tension singing into his scalp. “So much more.”

“It won’t work!” He was all snap-snarl and bared teeth. “I know it’s a dream. Shut up with that god damn--,” and there in the middle of her prayers came the foetid breath, the stink he knew so well whenever he put his hands to skin with the gift of his mother’s skills behind them. Rotten, putrefied flesh. He waited for something hideous to come crawling out of the duct, but nothing. No more than that ominous voice as she littered him in her ash and was gone.

In the silence he lay still, staring at the space she’d stood as if he couldn’t quite comprehend where she’d gone. Was this the end of the dream? No, there was no fade to black. He tested the straps which bound him again, trying to recover the strength of his limbs, but the drug still lingered - or to be more precise her influence on his capabilities did - and he made no more progress than he had before.

He startled when she reappeared, though his body was still too sluggish for it to be obvious, and with his head strapped down he couldn’t turn and warn her off with snapping teeth. She was wholly too close, the contact too real for a dream, and he peered down to where her fingers played over his shoulder and horrifically scarred chest with mute outrage. Why did her damned fingers have to be in his hair?

“Enjoying yourself?” he asked her, voice like acid. “You get off on this?”

Because she’s always wanted to play with it; he had entirely too much and flung it about in her face like a tease. She’d have pull it more often if he’d just sit still those times. If he only knew. She made a humming noise in her throat then, a habit for a thought, while she considered his questions. She twirled and tugged his hair, released and started over. “I’m not sure. Lets find out...hmm?”

Her fingers danced over his chest as she straightened and the others gave his hair one last hard tug before releasing it. A reluctant maneuver for sure. They trailed along the edge of the gurney until she, the woman in the here and now that he knew close to intimate, was standing opposite where the girl from then and gone used to be. Her expression was impassive as she stared down at him giving little clue to her thoughts. The buckle on his right hand shifted as she toyed with the strap, pensive really said the look.

There was nothing soft and quiet about her eyes, they were burning with the same wild blue fire as the girl in the room with no windows who painted red flowers on the wall. She reached over him and grabbed his chin with a thumb and forefinger, forcing his mouth open only to shove a rubber ball between his teeth with her other hand. Funny, it seemed like an exact replica of the one she’d had in her mouth days ago. Asshole would have bitten her if she wasn’t quick about it too.

She stepped back and slapped a hand on the the machine to her right sending several hundred watts of electricity coursing through those electrodes into his body. A hummed high pitched harmony sang sweetly. The light above dimmed and sputtered, fighting for those six seconds the machine was programmed to deliver, and the very edges of the dream cracked and screeched static. The end was like the beginning, there and gone. The light pulsed brightly and everything was as it seemed once more.

Too bad that he couldn’t wish his hair short in this damned dreamscape. Her constant tugging at it was too real, nothing like the dull sensations he usually experienced in dreams, and it aggravated with its prickling at the roots, threatened to rouse if she played there too long. He clenched his teeth against the curses he wanted to throw at her, wouldn’t allow her the satisfaction of knowing that she was getting to him.

It was when she let go that he tested the limits of his strength again, wrists pulling at the straps, and brow butting hard into the one caging his head against the gurney. Just because she’d been too weak as a girl to free herself from the restraints didn’t mean he had to be. The gurney rattled with his efforts, still too drug-softened in the muscles it turned out, but his eyes never left hers. They remained locked to the wild, vivid blue as if he were wishing all the harm in the world upon her for this bizarre, mental abduction.

He relaxed, panting, only to have his attempts to breathe muffled by her grasping at his chin (and of course he did try to bite her, the hinge of his jaw stretched as she forced the ball between those keen, white teeth and he tried furiously to press it out with his tongue to no avail. His focus flicked aside to her hand as it made to strike the machine, gave him enough warning to brace himself, and then the current hit him and his body betrayed him.

His spine arched up off the gurney as if he’d break his back with the contortion, the tendons in his throat jutting savagely under scarred skin as he strained, rocked by spasms. His teeth ground down into the ball between them (he’d have bitten straight through his tongue without it) and breath which had been stalled on its way out of his lungs resumed only after the short span of seconds was up. Panting hard, he managed only a muffled, choked sound around the ball before he collapsed flat again like something boneless. He ached, every muscle in him fatigued from the tension the current had put through him.

She could be so cruel, this little nightingale. She watched, disconnected from the whole thing, face expressionless and eyes a wild blue sea of emotion. It was almost like she remembered what it was like. But she remembered so little from her time there. They’d all made certain of that. All she had left were the scars on her arms and legs that she’d put there with tender loving care herself.

When his body had settled and the last bit of tremor ran its course, she reached for the straps that were settled against his cheeks knowing full well that if she put her fingers near his mouth he’d try and bite her again. She pulled and the ball popped out, a slightly difficult task since his teeth had made a nice home with their impressions. “I just wanted to share that with you.”

The rubber bounced off the floor silently when she dropped it. She made no move to unstrap him though. “Stay away from me and I’ll leave your head alone.” Two fingers trip trapped a little dance along the edge of the gurney when she stepped closer to the end where his head rested. Sle leaned down next to him, hands braced on her knees to murmur in his ear, “I won’t tell him it was you, I promise. Don’t make me break it.”

His eyes were closed still, and so he was blind to her dispassion until she spoke, and he could hear it in the tone of her voice instead. The screwed-tight-shut tension was gone though, eyelids smoothed and the grimace erased from around the ball which she plucked out from between his teeth to the accompaniment of a slight groan. Strange how he could even taste the rubber. Who ever tasted things in dreams?

“I stayed away from you,” he breathed, or tried to. He was still panting, swallowing down quick, deep lungfuls. “I stayed away. Stayed away. An’ you--,” he tried to turn his head to see her, where she crouched so close to his head, but his view was limited to a panorama of the ceiling. “Tied me up. Did you forget? Did you pick Bjorn because I knew him?” So many little offenses, Dreamwalker! She expected so much of him, to let these things slide.

At first he hadn’t connected the dots. Hadn’t realised that the ‘he’ she spoke about now was his brother and not Kymeera. He shifted restlessly in the straps, little more than a bone-weary squirming. He never smiled, did he? Never gave her the flashy show of teeth he turned full beam on others. But he did now. A pity it wasn’t friendly. “Too late to call off the hounds, pretty girl. Shoulda thought of that before you dragged family into it.”

The furthest edges of the ceiling started to crackle, static snow on a TV eating away at the peeling tiles and yellow stains. Standing was a slow progression. An arch of her lower back, roll of the shoulders, fingers dragging up her thighs. She traced the edges of the room with her eyes, expression giving nothing away of the thoughts that tumbled about in her head nor the words that gathered there on her tip of her tongue because of them.

“I forget nothing,” that memory painted a ghost of a smile on her lips. There had been more to learn from that encounter than anything. He had never shared his smiles with her though and as those little offenses built up, most likely never would. She tipped her chin to her shoulder and looked down at him and that show of teeth which still, oddly, didn’t belong to her. “Bjorn doesn’t listen. I warned him before anything happened and he still stole liberties. His strength is his weakness.”

The light above them flickered madly as the static snow rolled closer. She looked up, the girl with hair as black as ebony, lips as red as blood, and skin as white as snow. “Your brother made his own choice. The Keeper knows. Nothing will ever be the same again.” She wasn’t smiling anymore. “Leave me alone,” said the whisper to the stench of death and decay and the darkest nightmares that flooded the room in a thick fog. The simple request that disguised the complicated was for all of them.

Riddles. Why must women always speak in riddles?

He had no idea what liberties Bjorn might have taken with her, that honourable man who denied he’d done anything but help and now likely wished that he hadn’t advised mercy when Mesteno had turned to him so long ago - sought him out as the one truly good man he’d ever known because he’d needed someone to preach a little forgiveness.

“Lies,” he accused. “You lie. He helped you!” He’d known the Lion for years, and would hear nothing said against him.

Tug, pull and strain. Whatever muscle relaxants they’d used must have been strong, because his struggles earned him nothing more than a feeble creak from the restraints. Soon, he would wake up from this. Had to. She couldn’t keep him in this nightmare of an asylum indefinitely. Was that static crackle at the edges of the ceiling a sign that it failed already? Where did that stench come from? Bodies beneath the floor?

“It’s too late,” was all he’d say to her. “You did this. It’s too late.”

“It’s never too late,” she said when she straightened. Shards of sparkling, iridescent black-gray rained down over them as the the dream started to crumble. Pieces of sanity drifting from nothing into something. The walls curled in, bowing as if something pressed from the other side trying to get through. Those vines, those creep curling vines broke through the tiled floor and started to slither up the rusted legs of the gurney.

“Helped me? He was so quick to blame.”

She backed away. Away from the fingers reaching for her from behind the walls. Away from the cracking tiles and serpentine vines. Away from the Sadist who couldn’t swallow the truth.

“Leave. Me. Alone. The secrets are safe. Yours. All of them.”

She slapped her hand down on the metal box with all the blinking lights sending thousands of volts of electricity rushing along the wires and into his head. But rather than sending him into another painfully convulsive fit, he found himself slammed back into his own body safe and sound where he’d stolen a moment’s unwanted rest in a stall next to a pitchfork that leaned quietly against the wall.

[End scene.]
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