Author Topic: Stranger Danger  (Read 5554 times)

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Offline Satyr

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Re: Stranger Danger
« Reply #30 on: January 30, 2012, 01:35:26 PM »
He watched her, and her mind, ticking over, the thoughts mellowing into a low strumming of colours.  Her artistic mind seemed to coil thoughts like a painter swirled paint upon the canvas, mixing together events that gave a brand new outcome.  She was thinking about testing him, but what she gave voice to wasn't anything like a challenge.

Once her question was asked, the silence became an open wound; festering with possibilities, bleeding with baited breath, aching with a potentially bad outcome.  He let her ride the silent wave, not hurrying to speak, and then, when he sensed she was going to move or speak or react, he replied.

Then I will be disappointed.

Offline Harlequin

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Re: Stranger Danger
« Reply #31 on: January 30, 2012, 01:57:26 PM »
Ami felt the quiet on her skin, tightening like a guitar string.

Or a garrotte.

It was minutes before her brain kicked into gear. He was waiting her out. As she pulled in a breath, however, he spoke, and the words she'd had readied left her in another snort.

She pushed at one of her lip piercings with her tongue, noting that something was wrong there. With a spark of realization, it occurred to her that she hadn't put any makeup on yet. Fuck. Not that there wasn't a good reason for the disruption of her routine, but she hated letting others see her without her face on.
 
Stalling, she straightened her back slightly and stretched an arm behind her to open one of the drawers under the sink and fish around in it. She looked away from Cicero only to transfer an eyeliner pencil, tube of lipstick and compact mirror from hand to hand as she located them. Once she had her tools in hand, she slumped again.

The silence before he'd 'spoken' had said volumes more than his actual words. Disappointment was something someone could deal with. The kind of disappointment preceded by a pause like that wasn't something you wanted to mess around with. But she couldn't give up the ghost that easily.

Could she?

She was at an impasse, not wanting to make the vampire angry, but also not wanting to entertain the idea of actually giving up her addiction.

"Won't be easy," she told him, finally. It wasn't a commitment, yet, but a statement of fact. The withdrawals alone would be hell. But she also didn't doubt for a second that he would put her through worse, if he felt like it.

Offline Satyr

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Re: Stranger Danger
« Reply #32 on: February 02, 2012, 01:11:27 PM »
His answer came more quickly, this time.

Meaningful gestures seldom are.

She would sense his amusement and warm pleasure in her mind, and might even feel a trickling effect from her neck to her toes, depending on how much she allowed his emotions to speak within her.  If not receptive, then only his words with a hint of his feelings, but allowing herself to be open to his messages meant she would receive a lot more from him - whether he meant to send her everything or not.  It was similar to how another's smile can buoy a person's emotions, so too could Cicero's thoughts affect his counterpart depending on what he was feeling at the time.

I will return later

And with this remark, he turned and made to leave.

Offline Harlequin

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Re: Stranger Danger
« Reply #33 on: February 03, 2012, 11:31:51 AM »
A gesture of what, Ami couldn't help but wonder. Submission? The thought made her skin crawl, but she couldn't think of anything else. Except friendship, maybe. That thought was laughable. This Cicero didn't want want to be her friend any more than she wanted to be friends with the food on her plate. What he did want – with her, specifically – was still mystery.

Her mind as tense as it had ever been, only the barest sliver of his warmth and happiness crept through – but she was eased by it nonetheless. She'd finish off the carton of cigs in her bedside drawer and see where she was at, then.

Seeing that she'd been dismissed, she flicked open the compact mirror and held it up, lowering her eyes to her own reflection as she pencilled on a layer of black liner below her eyes.

"I'll be here," She told him. Maybe not here in this this room, but in this city. She wasn't going to run from him. Besides, it's wasn't like he couldn't find her if he really wanted her – no matter where she went. A cold lump settled in the pit of her stomach. She let him leave as he wished, speaking again only if he did.

Offline Harlequin

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Re: Stranger Danger
« Reply #34 on: May 21, 2012, 11:24:11 AM »
He said nothing. Ami looked up from her compact, and he was gone. Her breath left her in a heavy sigh. She'd make time to process later; tonight she had shit to do.

The next night, after band practice, she went out to the lighthouse where she'd spoken with Lefty. She sat on the steps like she'd done the night she'd seen Archer for the last time. But there was no shifting of the light this time, no comforting arm around her shoulder, no smell of new leather and old swamp. She knew even as she called the Nightmare's name that she was alone. Alone, head bowed, heel tapping, she lit a cigarette and smoked it to the filter. She did that until the pack was empty. And then she stood up, walked to the edge of the cliff and hurled the empty package into the sea.

Ami never quite made a conscious decision to ignore the vampire's request; aside from the moment of doubt that had brought her to the lighthouse seeking advice (How deep could his ire run? What if he came after her friends?) Ami had never considered quitting a viable option. It wasn't the quitting itself that was the problem, but what it would mean if she did it, just for him, just because he asked her to.  If she gave him this, what else would he see fit to take from her?

Ami spent the rest of the week getting her affairs in order, though she didn't think of it as that. Pen cap in her teeth, she revised the handwritten will she kept in a notebook in a bedside drawer. Just in case, maybe, Cicero's disappointment was as dangerous as she feared. Then she had a smoke. She slept less than she should've. She spent time with her friends that would have otherwise been devoted to frivolous things: she braided Vivianne's hair, because the other girl asked her to, even though she sucked at it; she went train-jumping with Morgaine; she jammed with Joe; she got into a fistfight with Chance. Maybe it wasn't that different from a normal week, but in her own way, she said goodbye to them. She played their weekly show at Risk with a cigarette between her lips.

On the last night of the week, when Cicero still hadn't come for her (and she never allowed herself to think that he wouldn't – though she had no way of knowing when it would happen) she tended to her instruments – polishing the lacquered wood of her acoustic, tuning the electric, touching up the black-and-white stripes painted across the body of the double bass.

Then, for the first time since Archer had stopped returning her calls, she took her banjo from its case. She paused, blinking down at the case as she held the instrument. The cover of the case was covered in a thin layer of dust, disturbed only now by her the smudging of her fingertips. Had it really been so long?

She sat down on the edge of her bed and ran her fingers over the strings, then plucked out a simple phrase. Her lips tightened into a grimace at the jarring notes that came out of the banjo's belly. Yes, it really had been that long.

As she set about tuning it, she forgot about Cicero for the first time since they'd met. Her hands went through the motions of lighting up automatically, barely interrupting the familiar rhythm of her task. Tuning fell easily into playing once the instrument was singing with its real voice, and Ami sang with it – though the words weren't hers – voice low and throaty around her cigarette.

Was there ever a winter so cold and so sad
The river too weary to flood
The storming wind cut through to my skin
But she cut through to my blood

I was looking for trouble to tangle my line
But trouble came looking for me
I knew I was standing on treacherous ground
I was sinking too fast to run free

With her scheming, idle ways
She left me poor enough
The storming wind cut through to my skin
But she cut through to my blood

I would not be asking, I would not be seen
A-beggin’ on mountain or hill
But I’m ready and blind with my hands tied behind
I’ve neither a mind nor a will

With her scheming, idle ways
She left me poor enough
The storming wind cut through to my skin
But she cut through to my blood

It’s bitter the need of the poor ditching boy
He’ll always believe what they say
They tell him it’s hard to be honest and true
Does he mind if he doesn’t get paid?

With her scheming, idle ways
She left me poor enough
The storming wind cut through to my skin
But she cut through to my blood


This is how Cicero would find her when he came – seated on the end of the bed, one leg – bare except for the frayed black denim shorts clinging to her thighs – propped up, head bent so her shaggy hair shielded her face, with the song dying in her throat as her fingers found a new melody. She paused only to light another cigarette.

Offline Satyr

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Re: Stranger Danger
« Reply #35 on: May 24, 2012, 06:29:50 PM »
He'd heard the song in its entirety, listening to it in her mind, as well as the imagery it invoked.  Her imagery, of course.  He often wondered, since he'd begun to use mortal minds like television sets (far before televisions were ever invented or even considered) if he'd lost the ability to utilise his own imagination.  By enhancing his mental powers in this area, was he stunting the growth and wilting other areas?  He remembered there'd been a time when he'd analyse different scenarios in his mind and play them out, to see which decision might harvest him the best reward.  He didn't do that anymore.  Was it apathy or was it inability?

At least he had thought like these; as useless as they were, he cherished them, for they made him feel connected to the world.  Perhaps only by a tendril, but a tendril was enough to a drowning man.

If her door was unlocked, he let himself in silently - only because he didn't know how to be any other way.  He stood near the door and waited for her to discover him.  In that time he knew two things; her mind was as beautifully vibrant to him as ever (perhaps even more so when there was music playing), and she hadn't quit smoking as he'd requested, because he could smell a fresh layer of the vapours on her.

When she finally noticed him, regardless of whether there was surprise on her face, resignation, or something else entirely, he spoke into her head.

Do you purposefully wish to disappoint me?

It was said more with a tinge of curiosity than hostility, but it was always silly to poke a shark.

Offline Harlequin

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Re: Stranger Danger
« Reply #36 on: May 25, 2012, 02:17:06 AM »
It was awhile before she glanced that way, tossing her head to get her hair out of her eyes as her fingers picked out an aimless tune. A fresh bruise had blossomed along her jaw since he'd seen her last, all ugly purples and yellows; a product of her fight with Chance.

"Shit!" she exclaimed, catching sight of the vampire.  Her fingers stuttered on the banjo strings, causing a jarring jangling of notes. She slapped her palm flat over the strings to silence them while her other hand choked up instinctively on the neck of the banjo, like a baseball player getting ready to swing.

His words entered her mind over the clamor, however, and she forced her muscles to relax. This was it.

Her eyes drifted to the pack of cigarettes on the bedspread as he mentioned his disappointment, but she stopped herself from lighting up. He'd asked her not to smoke around him; her pride allowed allowed her to acquiesce to that much, at least.

In answer, she shook her head tersely, eyes back on Cicero's face. Now was the time to choose her words carefully, "Just really like smoking."

Offline Satyr

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Re: Stranger Danger
« Reply #37 on: May 26, 2012, 10:45:14 AM »
He watched her for a moment, then breathed a small amount of air in order to expel it quickly through his nose.  The soft sound would be enough for her to know he wasn't impressed.

Those who I drink from are always grateful

The response might not make sense to her but it did to him.  He wouldn't get close to her if she smelled and tasted like ashes.  He understood she probably preferred it that way and it had been a conscious and carefully considered risk to not quit.  He wouldn't search her mind for the answer, but he liked to look at her thought processes.  He could see she was on edge, that he intimidated her, and she was behaving like he wasn't.

That impressed him.

Offline Harlequin

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Re: Stranger Danger
« Reply #38 on: May 27, 2012, 07:11:20 AM »
Was he annoyed with her? She pushed at one of her lip piercings with her tongue. No, not annoyed. Something less harsh, maybe. Even so, she could deal with annoyed. Annoyed wasn't murder-mode; not yet, at least.

Sweeping the vampire from head to toe with her gaze, one corner of her mouth twitched upward as she suppressed a nervous laugh. The expression was gone in an instant, however, replaced by her usual mask of indifference. She knew her heartbeat gave her away, and the knife's edge of fear glinting at the edges of her mind, making her thoughts crystal-sharp, but no less bright. He was perfect; admiration sang white across the sharp caution-drawn lines of her perception.

But it was a predator's beauty. Her blood wouldn't even stain those hands – or those sharp, white teeth.

She was glad, finally, to have his motive out in the open, at least. One of them, anyway. She sincerely doubted a little sustenance was all he'd expect from her.

"I believe it," she said.

The rest of her sentiment hung in the air, unsaid, as she searched that sculpted face.

But at what cost?

There was no meeting of equals here; and she could envision no scenario where he got what he wanted and she kept her life, limbs and integrity intact.

Offline Satyr

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Re: Stranger Danger
« Reply #39 on: June 02, 2012, 08:45:44 PM »
Don't be afraid of me, he sighed into her mind.  The sentiment she received with those words were only of the briefest of exasperation.  It is wise for you to be cautious, but if you insult me I will leave, I will not tear and shred and destroy.

He lurked closer to her, pushing himself off the wall liquidly, looking a great deal less human because of the silky way he moved, as though he were floating.  It couldn't even be described as leonine, or feline at all.  He was closer to her faster than he should've, though slow for him, but her eyes would decipher his action even though she wouldn't be able to fully react.  He sat beside her on the bed, and reached for the stringed instrument in her hands.  His icy fingers brushed hers lightly, and her sent her mental emotions of delicate intention.

If she allowed him the instrument, he would hold it by its neck, and the bottom of the head, so that the head of the banjo was aligned to but not touching his chest.  His forehead would rest on the 12th fret, and Cicero would breathe in deeply through his nose, as though smelling it as though it was a glorious rose to behold.

Offline Harlequin

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Re: Stranger Danger
« Reply #40 on: June 03, 2012, 01:34:41 AM »
After a moment's consideration, She let out a breath in a soft, almost canine 'whoof' sound and shrugged one shoulder. The bright edges on her thoughts softened slightly. Deal. He'd kept his word otherwise; he hadn't acted particularly threatening toward her, only invasive and unsettling.

But it was hard not to be unsettled by someone when they moved like that.

One moment he was leaning against the wall, the next -- well, he was moving, but she felt his weight on the bed beside her before her brain could tell her what to do with that information, and her breath caught in her throat with a strangled growl. His light touch sent a shiver up her spine, and her fingers instinctively tightened on her instrument as he tried to take it. But his message of good intent reached its target and she let him lift the banjo from her arms, curiosity overcoming her caution.

For a second there, she thought she was having a moment of deja-vu – another vampire on her bed, playing her banjo. But then Cicero made it clear he had no intention of making music. Not yet anyway. Suppressing her urge to scoot away from him, Ami instead brought one leg up onto the bed, bent close to her chest as she watched the vampire rest his forehead against the frets, and take a deep breath. Her question presented itself as a raised eyebrow and a bemused expression. What?

He would smell Ami mostly on the instrument – her scent predominantly cigarette smoke, with hints of patchouli and motor oil. Beneath that was Archer – though that was years old, now. He would scent Risk on it, too, all sweat and sex and blood.

Offline Satyr

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Re: Stranger Danger
« Reply #41 on: June 04, 2012, 08:39:59 PM »
He was smelling the memory of music.  He'd grown so old that he could now pick up lingering emotions from anyone who had intimate touches with objects.  Musical instruments were always wonderful to Cicero; one night he'd lost himself at the city's University of the Arts.  Watson, if he recalled the name correctly.  He'd stumbled onto the musical department and found their cache of instruments.  He'd gone from one to the next; touching, breathing, recalling vivid and vague memories and patterns from those who'd played them.

Cicero could smell Ami on it, and the few who'd handled the instrument as well, but his senses went much deeper.  In this, he was vulnerable to her.  He had to actively set his mind upon this task, and had to shut down other awarenesses.  If she moved completely off the bed he would know it and pull himself from his reverie, but if she spoke or fidgeted, her words and slight actions would be lost to him.  He was delving in her emotions - the ones she'd felt when she'd just played now were most prominent, of course, and below that were her other thoughts and feelings that she'd poured into the banjo while performing at Risk.  He got glimmers of her bandmates - any who'd even idly strummed were touched on but dismissed.  The memory of Archer was there, or more so his feelings while he'd played.  His arrogance still came through enough for Cicero to recognise him.  He gave a passing thought to Archer's fledgling he'd left alive (and who might've vowed to kill him in revenge, but that was expected) before moving on to deeper memories.  Another strong beacon were the persons who made the banjo.  Two of them, a master and apprentice.  Both with very strong passions.  The apprentice for the master and the master for his art.  Once again, expected.

He opened his eyes after flitting through these musical memories and gently held the banjo towards Ami.  He had no concept of how much time had travelled while he'd gone fishing - a few minutes could've passed, or a few hours, or anything in between.

Do you read literature beyond zombies?

He wondered if she'd finished that peculiar book that had been beside her bedside table when he'd been in her room last.

Offline Harlequin

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Re: Stranger Danger
« Reply #42 on: June 05, 2012, 06:35:27 AM »
Welp, looked like she wasn't getting that unasked question answered. Not that she'd really expected one; Cicero operated on a different level. At least she'd only lost a couple minutes on the exercise.

With a snort, she accepted the instrument, putting her foot back on the floor. Following through on the motion, she stood and moved to put the banjo back in its case, opening the door to the cramped closet next to the bed where she kept her arsenal.

If he looked, he'd see that that same book was still there – though now it was resting open on the tabletop, flipped to the chapter on holding a position under siege. The angular, slanted handwriting in the margins was completely indecipherable.

Ami shook her head as she crouched over the banjo case, turning her back to him. "Brain's not wired for words." A flicker of what she saw when she glanced at a page of text ran through her mind – letters all switched around and running together; recognized and comprehended singly, but unconnected to sound when shoved together.

"Stories are good though."

Offline Satyr

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Re: Stranger Danger
« Reply #43 on: June 05, 2012, 08:46:45 PM »
He was zinging with inspiration when she made that small but simple comment.  It was almost dismissive, flippant in tone.

Brain's not wired for words.

Of course it wasn't!  He knew this on an instinctive level but hadn't met anyone who'd identified their own artistry so plainly before.  Not only was she creative with a colourful and scenic mind, but she was also frank and entirely unpoetic.  It was refreshing and made him happy.

Happiness wasn't something Cicero experienced a lot of, anymore, and he wanted to sweep her up and spin her around and laugh and cover her with kisses.  Being as restrained as he was by habit, however, meant that he did none of these things, but he did smile quite broadly at her and was unable to remain seated.  He stood, then mentally shared with her the warm glow of joy she'd given him with her words.  Any disappointment he felt earlier about her decision to continue smoking evaporated entirely.

You should paint.  I want to paint with you.  I want to paint you.

All three of his desires pushed into her mind at once.

Offline Harlequin

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Re: Stranger Danger
« Reply #44 on: June 09, 2012, 04:53:40 AM »
Ami had had multiple ideas simultaneously before, but they'd always ben her own. As it was, the thoughts that pushed into her mind sparked a series of images (earlier that night, painting the stripes on the stand-up bass;  an imagined image of cicero in a beret, standing beside her at an easel; Morgaine drawing intricate henna designs on her palms – that memory didn't even fully materialize before her brain corrected itself, replaced the image with a scene from a film – a nude woman lying on a couch paint me like one of your french girls) and the bassist tilted her head to the side as if listening, freezing in the motion of snapping the banjo case shut.

The requests were almost as odd as the sympathetic happiness that suddenly blossomed in her. She hadn't pictured Cicero as the painting type.

As she was suffused with his warm fuzzies, she realized he hadn't really struck her as any type. Beyond his name, his obvious age and his tendency to creep up on her in her vulnerable moments, Ami knew absolutely nothing about Cicero as a person. Unperson. Überperson. Whatever.

She stood and turned in the same motion, surprised to see him smiling when she looked at his face. Her eyes automatically fell on his mouth, showing all those straight, white teeth – but just for a moment. Her gaze caught his again before she looked away, foot tapping as she pushed at one of her lip piercings with her tongue, thinking.

It only took her a moment to consider his requests before she shrugged, shoving her hands in her pockets. "Sure." She didn't particularly not want to -- in fact, she found she'd rather do that than what she was doing before – and he was off the cigs thing, so whatever.

Her eyes returned to his face. She did want one question answered, first: "Why me?"