Author Topic: Stranger Danger  (Read 5884 times)

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Offline Harlequin

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Re: Stranger Danger
« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2012, 09:30:37 AM »
The command earned him another snort, annoyance flaring across her brain. Yep, time for a break. If she were lucky, it would be an extended one. As far as she knew, though, all the rooms in this place looked the same,  so she wasn't counting on it.

Without another word exchanged between the two of them, Ami stalked away, shoulders hunched.

Once inside her room, she shucked off her jacket and tossed it on the bed and went into the bathroom to turn on the hot water. As she was waiting for it to heat up she lit another cigarette, sucking it down with record speed as she undressed – throwing her clothes in a pile on the bathroom floor – and turned on the iPod-powered speakers resting on the cluttered bathroom counter. She took the switchblade from her boot and her phone from her jeans pocket and set them both on the edge of the sink, in easy reach.

The Pietasters' "Out All Night" began piping from the speakers at a decent volume as she tossed her cigarette butt in the sink and stepped into the shower, water too hot for most people to deal with. Something about the sting of the heat comforted her. The dull pain kept her grounded. In this town, it was easy to lose track of what the truth meant.

Cicero would find the front room cluttered with discarded clothing (90% of it black) and a few stray empty beer bottles, but not actually dirty. Though there were plenty of dishes piled next to the sink in the kitchenette area, they were all clean. There was an ashtray on every surface, however, and a collection of small toys lined her dresser. Her machete (bearing the legend '+3 AGAINST UNDEAD' in bright red) lay on the bedside table, next to a well-worn copy of Max Brooks' The Zombie Survival Guide. The only light in the room came from under the bathroom door.

Blissfully unaware of her visitor, Ami washed herself fastidiously with a bar of unscented soap and forewent washing her hair, preferring to simply stand under the hot spray for a few extra moments before shutting the water off. Before she left the steamy warmth trapped by the shower curtain, she reached out to grab the towel hanging from the rack and dried herself, wrapping the towel around her waist as a man would before throwing the curtain aside and stepping out of the shower.

Upon her exit, she knew immediately that something was wrong – but it took her brain a moment to process that that wrongness was the presence of another person in the room; he was just that still. Before it was even done processing that, however, her switchblade was open in her left hand, her right fisted and raised in a classic defensive position meant to protect her face, body turned slightly away from Cicero.

Cicero.

She knew she didn't have a hope of fighting him, but her reptile brain wasn't listening – it was too busy pumping adrenaline through her veins. Conditioned toward self-defense, her body was nearly vibrating with the effort of suppressing her fight or flight response. She managed to lower the knife, though she kept her hold on it, and crossed her other arm across her exposed breasts.

"What. The. Fuck?" she asked through gritted teeth.

Offline Satyr

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Re: Stranger Danger
« Reply #16 on: January 26, 2012, 08:50:18 AM »
Cicero had powered down, in a way, standing still and using very little mental activity while he listened to her shower.  When the water shut off, he started up his thoughts again, intrigued that she would dry herself with moisture in the air surrounding her.  When she stepped out, he had a good view of her body and breasts, and was disappointed that the towel had been cinched around her instead of loose and about to be hung up on a railing.

She moved fast for a human, but still slow for him, and he remained where he was, not yet offended that she would raise a weapon his way.  When she had time to think about it, she lowered the weapon with some trouble, and covered up her breasts.  Cicero was pleased with this outcome, though his face showed no emotion.

He was considering paying her a compliment on her body, but knew it was likely not to be taken well.  People were strange in this day and age, where the majority wore as little clothing as they could, yet be offended when someone commented on their physique.  He hoped it was a passing fad.  The contrary attitude had only begun some twenty five years ago.  One generation.  Perhaps the next wouldn't be so uptight.

I'm not done with you, yet, he declared into her mind, and though it didn't sound or feel aggressive in her head, it certainly sound firm and like a real command.  It would only be upon hearing this one that Ami would realise in hindsight that every other time he'd supposedly ordered her, he'd just been speaking.  Are you upset about being naked in my presence? he continued.

Offline Harlequin

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Re: Stranger Danger
« Reply #17 on: January 26, 2012, 10:05:33 AM »
I'm not done with you yet. The phrase echoed in her head, blotting out all other thought, and another shiver passed through Ami's body. There was that one part of her mind rebelling against the idea of someone keeping her at their beck and call, and it rattled the bars of its cage of reason and survival instinct. The lock holding it there held fast and the punk sighed, looking away and shutting her switchblade with her thumbnail. Her breath slowed as she regained control of herself, stuffing down her base instincts.

His next question earned him another raised eyebrow, accompanied by a tight lipped glare. A terse headshake was his answer.

Ami liked her body well enough – puckered gunshot scars and all – and she didn't particularly care who saw it (and it was quite nice  to look at – well proportioned, with lean, hard muscle tight underneath skin that was pale and smooth where it wasn't covered by tattoos). She was more upset that he'd forced his presence on her while she was naked, but didn't know quite how to put that into words. Even more even than that, though, Ami hated the being caught off guard, her tone implied such as she commented:  "Startled me."

As if that wasn't clear enough.

Offline Satyr

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Re: Stranger Danger
« Reply #18 on: January 26, 2012, 01:12:24 PM »
You felt vulnerable, he explained to her, more than startled.

Now that he'd clarified this for her, his gaze moved to the bathroom door.

Plus three against undead, he told her as he began towards the front room, moving past her in order to wait where she wouldn't feel as vulnerable.  He wasn't concerned about the knife, for even if she stuck him with it, he would heal quickly enough to do her more damage in return.  Entertaining.

He would ask her to quit smoking, so he could drink from her.

Offline Harlequin

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Re: Stranger Danger
« Reply #19 on: January 26, 2012, 01:42:33 PM »
Of course she felt vulnerable. She was naked, utterly bare to him in more ways than one. He didn't have to rub her face it in, though. She also had no idea of his intentions, at this point, and that ignorance did nothing to settle her.

Ami snorted and dropped her knife in the sink, opting to snatch her shirt up off the floor and yank it on over her head as her guest turned his back. Her panties and jeans followed quickly after. Watching him as she buttoned her jeans, she explained: "Zombies." Jeans buttoned, she hooked her thumbs through her front belt loops, "Best offense is a good defense."

Maybe he didn't have to worry about the day the mindless horde rose up to feast on human flesh, but the people made of human flesh sure did.

Though her outward demeanor was calm, there was still a minute tension in her muscles that belied the residual edginess of her mental state. She followed him into the front room, but none too closely – flicking on the overhead light as she went.

Offline Satyr

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Re: Stranger Danger
« Reply #20 on: January 26, 2012, 03:57:04 PM »
He looked at her sharply when she said it was for zombies.  It could be sarcasm, of course, but she hadn't sounded particularly sarcastic, and the book alongside the machete seemed more like a manual than a work of fiction.

Zombies aren't real, he told her, not wanting to hear more on the matter.  A lot of things were real, a lot of things that he preferred to stay away from because he didn't understand it, but for all the years he'd existed on this planet and the strange things he'd seen, not one of them confirmed that zombies could happen.

The sudden light surprised him and he screwed his eyes shut and turned his head away from it until he could adjust in the next few seconds.  The flare had been uncomfortable, and he growled deep in his chest and also in his mind at her.  It was the only sound he'd made so far.

Offline Harlequin

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Re: Stranger Danger
« Reply #21 on: January 26, 2012, 04:16:42 PM »
Well  three years ago, vampires and werewolves hadn't been real, either – and look where her disbelief had gotten her. For once in her life, however, she left the issue alone. Arguing with this guy was going to get her nowhere.

She was even less inclined toward arguing after he made that noise. Like an actual, real sound. It seemed strange to hear anything from him, and the nature of the sound was even more unsettling – enough so that it had her grimacing and immediately moving to flick the light back off. Until she saw his eyes open again, ostensibly having adjusted to the sudden light. She gathered that that had been her warning. "Shit," she said, sounding like she was genuinely unhappy with her seemingly innocuous decision, "My bad."

Which was about as close as she'd ever gotten to 'sorry'.

Offline Satyr

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Re: Stranger Danger
« Reply #22 on: January 26, 2012, 04:25:42 PM »
He looked at her for a lingering moment, and considered her ignorance.  She needed the light to see, for her eyesight was ineffective in the darkness.

Turn the light back on, he told her.  It wasn't an order, he believed she would prefer the light and he was letting her know she could have it on.  Now that he knew it would be coming on, it wouldn't bother him.  Do you answer to a vampire master? he asked.

He doubted it, for she didn't have the smell of one on her, which was surprising since she pictured the vampire Cicero had destroyed in her mind.  Archer, was the name/emotion that had come with it, and he might've plucked it out of his fledgling's mind also because he recognised it.  He didn't think she belonged to a vampire, not with her wariness and attitude.  She didn't seem the type to bow down easily.  Still, she could've been abused by one of his kind.  That would explain a lot, also.

Offline Harlequin

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Re: Stranger Danger
« Reply #23 on: January 26, 2012, 04:44:04 PM »
Shrugging for perhaps the thousandth time that night, Ami flicked the light back on. She knew the layout of the place well enough to get around – she was more interested in having the room lit to get a bead on what Cicero was up to.

As if in answer to his question, she choked out a laugh, and – inspired by the word master – that image of Renfield popped up again, gamely snatching a fly off a leaf and stuffing it into his mouth with a manic expression.  "No."

Ami knew there were humans out there that called themselves 'pets', but they were so far removed from her that the thought was truly laughable. What her and Archer had had was different. When they were together, she'd never considered herself anything other than Archer's equal – even if sometimes he sometimes made it obvious that he felt differently.  Interacting with Cicero, however, showed her the real gulf of power that had always existed between them.

The punk leaned against the bathroom doorway, thumbs still hooked in her belt loops. That chapter really wasn't worth thinking about right now.

Offline Satyr

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Re: Stranger Danger
« Reply #24 on: January 27, 2012, 07:41:01 AM »
I want to see what your relationship with him was, so continue thinking about him.

Cicero didn't bother to find a place to sit, for he was comfortable standing.  He'd been lightly touching her mind and she'd thought of Archer again.  Whatever had happened between them had been fairly recent.  He couldn't care less about the fact he'd destroyed a vampire she knew, but he was interested in any interaction she'd had already.  He didn't want to pull all the memories out of her head either, even though it would be extremely easy - like taking a file out of a cabinet, opening it up, and seeing everything within it.  He would show respect enough of her to let her show him her thoughts in the order she thought them, even if it was haphazard.  If she was terrible at it, he would likely ask her to let him look.

Offline Harlequin

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Re: Stranger Danger
« Reply #25 on: January 27, 2012, 11:58:38 AM »
Cicero didn't need to clarify who exactly he was. The punk knew instantly. Lips tight, Ami shook her head. She didn't want to think about Archer. It had been months since she'd seen him, and over a year since he'd left her, why would she possibly want to think about any of that? It was over.

With another grimace, she looked away. Of course, in trying so desperately not to think of the vampire, he was the only thing in her head, each moment captured in perfect clarity by Ami's uncanny memory. The memories carried a dull pain with them, like a picked scad or a popped stich. The night they'd gone to Echelon. The first time she'd been bitten. The meeting in the park. His fist slamming into the bar at Risk, and the look of utter defeat on his new fledgling's face –

Segued jaggedly into a memory of her sixth birthday party as she willed the thoughts away.  There were things he didn't need to see.

"Why?" she asked, gaze once again searching her guest's face.

Offline Satyr

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Re: Stranger Danger
« Reply #26 on: January 27, 2012, 05:23:55 PM »
Cicero received the memories she recalled without wanting to.  He knew mentioning him to her would cause him to appear in her surface memories.  It was the power of suggestion.  He only got the ideas of the meetings, the feeling of them, their general gist.  The Echelon dinner had been too complex to read properly, so something had happened there between them.  The meeting in the park was straight forward.  Her seeing his frustration, and then the fledgling.  So she knew the fledgling that Cicero had spared as well.  There had been a triangle then.  Had he wished to sire Ami as well?  Had he wished to drink from her regularly?  Had the fledgling been jealous?

The question hung between them until he gave her the truth he hadn't anticipated on sharing with her right away.

Because he is gone.

When he spoke to her, she knew what 'gone' meant, because he sent her the understanding of the word he used.  Destroyed.  Vanquished.  Dusted.  He didn't share the details how, or how he knew this, but she was smart enough to guess he may have had a hand in it.

Offline Harlequin

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Re: Stranger Danger
« Reply #27 on: January 28, 2012, 04:08:45 AM »
All at once, Ami's mind was completely blank. No fear, no anger, no doubt, no flashes or memories, just a blanket of overwhelming shock. Her mouth hung slightly open.

Archer had been like a universal constant in her mind; always there, waiting around the next corner to open those wounds, to grind her face in her choice like he had at Risk. Until the day she died, he would be there, as perfect as the day she met him. She'd dealt with that, and moved on. She knew, of course, that he could die – but the thought had been an abstract concept. It had never occurred to her that he would.

A long pause passed until finally, "Why?" She asked again, voice soft. It wasn't accusatory – she had no way of knowing that Cicero had killed her would-be sire, but Archer had never been the type to befriend other vampires. And she seemed too lost to accuse anyone of anything in that moment, looking at Cicero as if he could explain to her why fire burned, or why everything had to die.

Offline Satyr

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Re: Stranger Danger
« Reply #28 on: January 29, 2012, 12:14:27 AM »
Her question hung like an open wound between them, festering in the silence, bleeding possibilities.  He wasn't the kind of vampire to debate whether or not to tell her, though he had counted on keeping that information close to his chest in case it caused him trouble later.  It seemed vampires were well connected in this town, and that one in particular perhaps had a lot of mortal women peppered around the city for convenience.  Cicero could understand that.

He was insolent and arrogant.  He challenged me.  What other outcome was there for him?

He watched her process this information in slow motion, knowing that although he was at the top of her 'be wary' list, he'd just risen a few more spaces.

Quit smoking for me.

He figured it would be the best outcome for him if he made this demand on her now, while she was processing the range of her fear versus her anger.

Offline Harlequin

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Re: Stranger Danger
« Reply #29 on: January 29, 2012, 06:07:43 AM »
What other outcome was there for him?

So he had killed Archer. Ami questioned the severity of Archer's so called "insolence and arrogance" that it warranted annihilation. Either Archer had fucked up big time, or she was dealing with someone that had no problems ending a life – even that fo one of his own kind – over nothing. She looked away, preferring to look at her shoes as he brain stumbled over this information and what it might mean for her. Fuck, she wanted a cigarette.

On the heels of that thought came his next request – and it didn't really sound like a request at all, this time. That had her eyes narrowed, and back up on his face. Twenty minutes ago, she would have refused outright (in fact, she would've had to fight to keep from laughing at him). She was one of the few addicts who'd never even tried to quit. She liked smoking. She liked the smell, and the taste of cigarettes. She could afford it, and it gave her something to do with her hands. She'd never planned on living to see 40, anyway, so why the hell shouldn't she do what she wanted?

But his recent revelations had her wondering what exactly constituted a challenge for the vampire. She pushed her outrage and burgeoning sorrow aside, for now, in favor of finding out what would help her live through this encounter.

"If I don't?" she asked after another long pause. Her tone was neutral. For now, the question was hypothetical. What she really wanted to know was why (though she had an inkling as to what he was after, there) but she didn't want to sound like a broken record. Not, of course, that that would matter to him.