Author Topic: Anything But Numb  (Read 28729 times)

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Offline Harlequin

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Anything But Numb
« on: October 02, 2008, 03:40:20 PM »
After saying their temporary goodbyes on the curb outside the White Verandah, Morgaine LaFayette and Tau Leander parted ways – he into the dim, grimy interior of a cab, and she onto the seat of her stripped-down Harley hybrid.

The cab got a head start, but Morgaine gained and stole the lead quickly; a consequence of habitual reckless motorism.

She caught up to him at a red light, the roar of her engine loud enough to be a nuisance even when idling. Under the guitar case strapped to her back, the singer now wore a leather jacket festooned with spikes, studs and patches, and her simple Converse sneakers had been traded for a pair of scuffed but serious-looking motorcycle boots. Only peripherally aware that the cab she idled next to might contain her companion, she used the window tint that ensured his anonymity as a mirror as she pulled her hair back into a ponytail before the light changed.

When that happened, however, she was gone in the primal roar of the engine and a cloud of black exhaust. From there, her route diverged from the cabbie\'s and – despite every cab driver\'s innate knowledge of the cities they prowled – Morgaine arrived at their destination first. Too bad she still couldn\'t get in without Tau\'s key; an electronic keypad thwarted any attempts at lockpicking before she even thought of them.

So – leaving bike and jacket at the curb (the latter locked in a saddlebag attached to the former) Morgaine let her hair down, unstrapped her guitar, sat down on the steps, and began to play – humming and picking out nonsense melodies as she waited for her host to arrive; snatches of songs she knew, songs she didn\'t, and songs that hadn\'t been written yet. Her head was a blank canvas; her fingers and the notes they coaxed from her instrument kept intrusive thoughts at bay. This was an experience to be taken one second at time, and she intended to start with the right frame of mind.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Anything But Numb
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2008, 04:33:44 PM »
Tau\'s cheeks were pink as he got out of the cab and saw that Morgaine was waiting for him already; considering the way she\'d taken off from the lights, he wasn\'t surprised, but he still felt he\'d somehow failed (probably due to his competitive nature) by arriving second.

He cleared his throat as he pulled his keys out of his pocket, approaching her with an embarrassed expression and not wanting to speak while she was playing, as that seemed very rude.  As it turned out, she stopped of her own accord when she caught sight of him and followed him calmly into the building.

For some reason, her assurance was disquieting and he fumbled as he opened his apartment door (after he\'d led her up one flight of stairs and down the corridor, of course), not opening t anywhere near as smoothly as he would\'ve liked.  "Please, come in," he told the singer formally, gesturing for her to precede him into his elegantly-furnished home.  He busied himself putting his keys on the table just inside the door, then locked the portal behind them.

One deep breath told him that Alec wasn\'t home and although he wondered where she might be, it didn\'t distract him too greatly as his gaze followed Morgaine, looking where she looked.  He pressed his palms to his hips, wondering if he should offer a drink or simply begin changing shape.  The latter didn\'t seem the right way to go, however.

"Can I... get you anything?" he asked hesitantly, wondering belatedly what he could get for her, as raw steak was hardly going to be something that topped her refreshment list.

Offline Harlequin

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Re: Anything But Numb
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2008, 05:01:52 PM »
The singer couldn\'t help but smirk a bit as her host fumbled with his keys. Seeing that he was nervous provided a small amount of comfort. The expression had vanished by the time he turned to invite her in, however; thinking about his nervousness reminded her of her own, and that simply wouldn\'t do. She had a reputation to maintain, after all.

Nevertheless, a flicker of invisible wings disrupted her Chi as she stepped over the threshold.

Her eyes took in the interior; nice apartment, not too messy, but not so spartan it didn\'t look lived in. Handsome, masculine furnishings. It was an apartment, however, and these details blurred together in her mind, noted only fleetingly. She\'d seen a lot of apartments. There was only so much that could be done with such a space.

After toeing off her boots absentmindedly, Morgaine moved to the area of the apartment that always interested her most (aside from the bedroom, of course; though the thought of that was only a flicker at the back of her mind, at this point): the living area, and the respectable sound system she\'d immediately zeroed in on. She wandered toward it – with the intention of looking aimless – as Tau spoke, "No thanks," she responded. The part of her that wanted to ask for a drink was utterly silenced by her desire to remember this experience for what it was, unclouded and picture-perfect.

"Hey, you mind if I take a look at your CDs?" She asked, turning toward him when she could not put her hands on the requested items. Had their location been more readily apparent, she would not have bothered to ask. He might have thought it an odd request in this situation, but Morgaine was simply trying to get to know him a bit better before everything got...hairy.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Anything But Numb
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2008, 10:11:28 PM »
Tau\'s expression shifted liquidly as he took the few steps required to move him to her side (having finished with the door), his fingertips sneaking into his pockets.  Looking at his face would have told her that he was initially confused followed by thoughtfully enlightened, chased up with a bit of apprehension, confusion, awkwardness and a need to apologise... his face then stilled as he gazed intently at her, the brevity of his tone far outweighing the message he needed to convey.

"I do not have any CDs," he said seriously, again getting that \'failure\' feeling in the pit of his stomach.  His initial impulse had been to question why she would want to see his CD collection - hence his confusion - as he only associated the shiny discs with saving his work data in case of emergency; he didn\'t even know how that worked, the technician always did it for him.  After a few moments of thought, however, he realised she likely meant music CDs, for she was obviously interested in such things and he did know they existed.  He just didn\'t have any.

He\'d also never managed to play a DVD in his expensive system (which he would likely have been interested in, given the knowledge) or even find the radio stations he could get... in fact, Tau was rather hazy on the technicalities of the whole thing.  He knew how to turn it on to watch television, flip channels and alter the volume, what more was necessary?  "I\'m sorry," he added sincerely, looking into Morgaine\'s depthless eyes.  "But your music is better than anything that could be stamped onto a CD, anyway."

Offline Harlequin

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Re: Anything But Numb
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2008, 02:33:05 PM »
The singer\'s head slowly titled to one side as she watched the emotions shift across Tau\'s handsome face. When he finally answered, however, the quizzical pout melted into a look of utter incomprehension.
 
No CDs?
 
"Then...what do you listen to?" she asked. He couldn\'t not have any music. The thought was simply ludicrous. Laughable.
 
Until she remembered him saying that he didn\'t have a telephone.
 
This was something she would have to fix. Soon. But not now.
 
For the time being, she pushed the outrage to the back of her mind, momentarily caught in the way his eyes caught and held hers; honest and open, completely matching his words. This man simply had no guile in him; almost like a child. The thought stopped her in her tracks, both because of how refreshing it was to experience such a thing, and how sad that was in itself. She recovered before the silence could stretch too long, however, and grinned broadly, belatedly pleased by the compliment. "It\'s why we never recorded one." Apparently, Morgaine was as unfamiliar with humility as Tau was with the minutiae of human etiquette. Or she was covering the way she really felt with witty banter. Sometimes, it was impossible to tell.
 
Tau might have noticed, however, that she spoke in a collective tense – as opposed to the singular he\'d intended to imply; saying \'we\', instead of \'I\'.

Luna Moon

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Re: Anything But Numb
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2008, 03:49:27 PM »
(I\'ve come to crash and let it be known I have returned. Sorry.)

Alec walked up the stairs to her and Tau\'s apartment trying to think of what she had left in her bag. She would have to buy clothes soon. As she was walking down the corridor she could smell Tau. Alec paused and licked the air, someone was with him, a woman. An odd sense of jealousy swelled up in her that she pushed down quickly. Why was she jealous of a woman with Tau? Alec was cofused but had an odd sense of knowing as she tried to think of a good reason for the jealousy spreading through her chest. Walking up to the door she took out the key that Tau had given her to get into the apartment. She quickly slid the key in and out in one fluid motion and quickly opened the door.

Alec stepped over the threshold and into the home looking up toward the living area. As she caught sight of the woman and Tau, she stopped. She flushed slightly with both embarassment and slight jealousy. "Sorry," she said, almost formally and looked at Tau with confusion. What was another woman doing here in the apartment. She looked at the woman while waiting and took in her appearance. She had longer hair than Alec and a bigger chest and thighs. Alec could tel that she was just a few inches taller from where she stood. The jealousy swelled slightly and Alec had an odd need to shift but kept the foreign emotion surpressed.

Offline Harlequin

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Re: Anything But Numb
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2008, 04:32:31 PM »
Before Tau could formulate any kind of reply to the singer\'s query, the sound of the front door latch disengaging stole Morgaine\'s attention. He hadn\'t mentioned a roommate. She hadn\'t exactly asked, true, but even so, her stance shifted very subtly into one that hinted at combat readiness (though she was hindered somewhat by the guitar case still strapped to her back), in case it wasn\'t an invited guest.

The figure who came through the door, however, immediately had her taken aback for an entirely different reason; it was female, first and foremost. Upon further inspection, she didn\'t seem built for brawling (which is to say, Morgaine believed she could take her out. It wasn\'t personal, though – the singer assessed every new person in this regard), and was altogether too apologetic, though the reason for that was unclear.

It was the first that made blood and fury rise to the dark surface of her skin, but it was the last that made her pause in unleashing it on Tau. If the girl had simply stood there, gaping, Morgaine would have assumed the two of them were lovers – and that she had missed her guess by miles in thinking that Tau was an honest man. A lover would not have apologized for walking into her own home, however, and Morgaine rarely missed her guess by such a wide margin.

With a deliberate slowness, she turned her eyes away from then new arrival – allowing her body to relax into a less offensive (but no less tense) arrangement of crossed arms and tight lips – and up to her host\'s face, silently demanding an explanation, but withholding judgement until she\'d received it.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Anything But Numb
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2008, 10:56:34 PM »
Tau glanced at Alec as she entered, spared her a minimal smile of greeting that flared in his blue eyes and then looked earnestly back at Morgaine.  "I listen to the television," he asserted indignantly, having paused in giving this response only long enough to watch his houseguest enter, but it had been queued at the front of his brain and God himself would have had to pluck it out for Tau to avoid the words being said; he was nothing if not dogged.

"It\'s okay," he then told Alacer, flashing that warm smile again as he glanced back in her direction.  "I thought you might be home soon.  This is Morgaine; she has come to watch me Shift," he said brightly, only aware of the demands etiquette made in such situations and oblivious to any animosity the women might feel towards each other (or why) - though Morgaine\'s body language was putting him subconsciously on edge.  Still, he was ignoring it for the time being.  Introductions were a part of any new meeting, he\'d learned that early on, and he knew his was the key role here, so now he would do that job, his elegant hands gesturing from one female to another as the situation demanded, choosing to ignore the body signals flashing at him.

Turning to look back at Morgaine, Tau\'s smile broadened slightly, his eyes crinkling almost secretively (for he was about to share a secret that he felt was his to share) as he did.  "Morgaine, this is Alec, my houseguest.  She\'s a Shifter who is new to the city.  She came to see me at the office - a bit like Ami did - and I found out she had nowhere to live, so I offered her my spare room until she gets settled.  My brother will not be coming back any time soon," he admitted with a suddenly sad shrug, lips twisting into a pout of disappointment that passed very quickly.

Before Alec had come to live with him, he had lived a very dull and forlorn life, missing his littermate interminably, but in the few days she\'d been around, she\'d cheered him up no end.  She wrestled with him, they had curious conversations about shifting, reptiles, mammals and gameshows and he secretly enjoyed it very much when she cuddled up to him just to sap his warmth.  Jed was still very important to him, but he\'d unknowingly begun the process of moving on and had stopped pining for his brother, finding a lot more to life despite his absence.

Now he paused, the smaller version of his smile returning to his lips as his gaze flicked from one woman to the other, his fingertips finding an arrhythmic beat to drum against his leg without him being aware of it.  It was customary for people who\'d just been introduced to speak to one another, shake hands and make greeting comments that were rarely reflected in their body languages but always sounded very pretty coming out of their mouths - Tau had seen it almost a hundred times before.  It was what people did and so he waited for his females to do it now, too.

Luna Moon

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Re: Anything But Numb
« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2008, 12:40:17 AM »
Alec\'s stance settled comfortably as Tau introduced the woman. Her name was Morgaine. The odd jealousy settled into a hum in the back of her chest. Alec was curious as to why she had come to see Tau shift, Alec had not even seen Tau shift before and she had very much liked to. Maybe she could see him to day. Alec smiled at Morgaine, a little more comfortable and honestly friendly. She guessed that Tau thought they should have polite introductions now, something she knew he would probably be expecting. She walked forward with fluid, slithering steps, her hips slithering as well, hinting at what her form was when shifted. She approached Morgaine with a friendly smile and held out her hand.

"Hello Morgaine," she said politely. The woman seemed to be like Alec was when she walked in the door. Alec was cold right now and she knew her skin would reflect that and seem like ice when Morgaine shook her hand. She waited to see what Morgaine\'s reaction would be to the introduction and handshake. Alec made a mental note to go check her clothing later and find something warm, also to make a list for clothes that she needed and would need in winter. Alec was all too aware that winter would be coming soon, but she pushed all of these things out of her head and looked at the woman in front of her.

Offline Harlequin

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Re: Anything But Numb
« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2008, 08:53:44 AM »
Morgaine almost flinched when Tau said he listened to the Television. Televisions invariably meant showtunes. Or MTV.

She would have to enlighten him later, however. Right now, there was nice to be made.

Morgaine was used to dealing with the unexpected, and this ranked very low on the bizzarreness scale, despite the supernatural element. She adapted easily. As he explained, her icy gaze warmed, and dropped from Tau\'s face, returning to it\'s place on Alec\'s. Having learned long ago to take nothing at face value, she was still curious – and slightly suspicious – of the relationship between the two, but she accepted Tau\'s story. Another shifter, eh? The woman certainly moved oddly, though Morgaine couldn\'t exactly put a finger on how. She was graceful, but not in the conventional sense – her steps were more liquid, as if she were flowing across the floor toward the singer.

Tension gone from the set of her mouth, Morgaine smiled easily "\'Sup?" was her reply as she accepted the outstretched hand in a firm shake. Immediately upon contact, goosebumps raced up her arm, and she shivered. "Shit, girl," she exclaimed as her hand was released, "What do you turn into? A yeti?" She resisted the urge to take the other woman by the shoulders and vigorously rub the bare skin of her upper arms only because she didn\'t seem bothered by the cold.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Anything But Numb
« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2008, 11:10:33 PM »
Although it wasn\'t really his place to answer, Tau was slightly overexcited by his introductions following along just the way he\'d envisioned, so he jumped in and spoke anyway.  "She turns into a snake," he told the human singer helpfully, looking from one female to another (inviting Alacer to elaborate and to check Morgaine\'s understanding).  "She is cold blooded and cannot regulate her body heat without help."

Something stopped him explaining that he was very often the help that Alec received when she needed to get warm; part of him didn\'t want Morgaine knowing that, for reasons he didn\'t wish to examine at that moment.

Luna Moon

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Re: Anything But Numb
« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2008, 10:31:27 AM »
Alec looked over at Tau as he spoke and explained on her behalf. She looked at Morgaine and smiled. "I turn into a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake. My body temperature depends on the temperature around me and I have to keep it regular lika a snake." She nodded. "If I don\'t I could die. Since itwas cold where I come from, I\'m cold too. And I need to warm up soon." She smiled and looked back at Morgaine.

Alec felt that she didn\'t need to reveal that Tau sometimes helped with her body temperature. She was sure Tau felt the same. Though Alec was a little disappointed they had company because she was, truthfully very cold and would have liked to curl up against Tau. Even from right here she could feel his heat, which was so much greater than the woman\'s in front of her.

Offline Harlequin

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Re: Anything But Numb
« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2008, 12:06:08 PM »
Tau once again captured the singer\'s attention by speaking for Alec, causing her brow to rise slightly. Well, he certainly was eager, wasn\'t he? Her eyes stayed on his face only slightly too long – searching perhaps – as Alec began to speak again, elaborating on Tau\'s statement. A breath hissed in through the singer\'s teeth when the other woman finished. Cold blooded? As if a girl didn\'t have enough to worry about without having to constantly regulate her body temperature. That just had to suck. "Ouch! Don\'t let me keep you, then. I\'m gettin\' cold just lookin\' at you," she enthused, giving voice to half of her thoughts. The other half were concerned with – and quietly amused by – whether or not the girl had a giant heat lamp and a big flat rock squirreled away somewhere in the apartment, as she\'d seen in the snake enclosures at zoos. She thought it best to keep those to herself, however, "Cold blooded! I do not envy you that, Ilagkoti."  Occasionally, the singer\'s speech was peppered with her native Tamil. She never expected the people she was speaking with to understand (though she did expect them to ask if they wanted clarification). Without pausing, however, she pulled a face, then shrugged,  "At least you got something good in return though, right? Rattlesnake. That\'s bad ass. Not, like, a gecko or a tree frog, or something."

When she had played the \'what animal am I like?\' game that children often played, Morgaine\'s friends had often told her she reminded them of a Mongoose. Though the thought didn\'t exactly warm her cockles – as she didn\'t especially dislike Alec – it didn\'t make her uneasy, either. She smiled her easy smile again, dark eyes giving nothing away.

"Hey, d\'you have somewhere I could set this down?" she asked, suddenly, angling her body towards her host once again as she shifted the guitar case strapped to her back uncomfortably. It was a sign of trust that she was willing to let it out of her direct possession, as the instrument was her livelihood (maybe not this particular one, as most of her current income came from her electric – but she\'d be devastated to lose the acoustic she carried, just as well).

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Anything But Numb
« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2008, 04:22:47 PM »
Tau was busy thinking of how he could work an invitation for Alec to shift into the conversation as well (should he ask Morgaine first? To check she wanted to see that too? Or ask Alec to volunteer first, in case she was shy about doing it in front of a perfect stranger? It was a tough call!), so he looked slightly startled when the singer addressed him, taking a few moments too long to look towards the guitar she was indicating.
 
Since she hadn\'t already taken it off and leaned it against the wall in the lounge area - and there were corners and wall spaces that very obviously got no traffic, so that nothing precious would be accidentally harmed - he rightly assumed Morgaine wanted somewhere special for her instrument. Somewhere out of the way. Only one place immediately occurred to him, but it was perfect, as far as he was concerned.
 
"Sure! My bed!" he answered brightly, lips curving into a friendly smile as he walked to the open door that was only a few metres from where they all were. His large hands were spread somewhat like a hostess\' on a gameshow would be, grandly indicating the path Morgaine should take around the end of the cloister of couches to enter his inner domain.
 
Tau only continued the rest of the way forward and into the room because he hadn\'t made his bed (though he did have a cat\'s pedantic desire for cleanliness and washed his sleeping area weekly - less, occasionally) and Morgaine\'s treasure obviously deserved a hallowed resting place.  Momentarily distracted from asking Alec about shifting for an audience - and from even speaking to her as he innocently led his new acquaintance into his bedroom - Tau set about pulling his top sheet and quilt neatly towards his pillows, expecting the Indian woman to follow and the guitar to need placement any moment.

Luna Moon

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Re: Anything But Numb
« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2008, 12:05:23 PM »
Alec smiled at Morgaine. She had always thought it an honor to be what her mother was. Her father was a little out of place in the desert and thankfully wasn\'t cold-blooded in human form. When he did shift, he could only do so for short periods of time or else he would overheat. Body temperature had always been an extremely important problem to Alec, ever since she was a small girl. Even as an infant her father would take her temperature every so often. Alec was brought out of her thoughts by Morgaine speaking. She laughed at the woman in front of her\'s words. "Yes," she said, "At least I got something that is neater than a gecko or frog."

Alec watched Tau\'s reaction to Morgaine\'s question with amusement and put her hand to her forehead as he came up with a place. Sometimes he was just too innocent. She could probably guess half of the thoughts of normal people who didn\'t know Tau, and they weren\'t so nice. She watched him with a curiosity as he led the woman back to his room. Alec left for a moment to put her bag in her room and return to the small living room. The central place in the tiny apartment.