Author Topic: Succulent  (Read 3369 times)

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Offline The Cedar Witch

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Succulent
« on: August 22, 2019, 12:21:05 PM »
For Dee



“Chtahzus’aak!” 

At the sound of his name, he stopped partway to the elevator on the first floor to wait for the young electricity demon to catch up.  There was a bright smile on her face as she stuck a hand out for him to shake.  “Congratulations.”

He didn’t ask why, and his brow furrowed for a fraction of a second as he shook her hand.  After he nodded in acknowledgment, he watched her bound away toward the front desk.  Perplexed, Zeus continued to the elevator, stepped inside, and pressed the button for the second floor.  It had to have been about the reclaiming of the West.  The demon must’ve been a bit belated to congratulate him - not that such an act needed congratulating - or she wanted to wait for a free moment to say it in person when they ran into one another.  He was rather busy these days, so it was plausible. 

Besides, she was a quirky one.

It was still early in the morning so the other offices on the second floor were empty.  Typically, Zeus started working early after a sunrise walk through the quiet streets.  The demons working front-of-house wouldn't be in for at least another hour. 

When the elevator doors slid open, the first unusual thing Zeus noticed was his office doors - they were open.  While they were never really locked (the elevator was enough of a security measure) they shouldn’t have been open.  Someone must have slipped a report on his desk sometime late last night after he’d gone to his quarters.  That wasn’t anything unusual - after all there was a lot of work left to be done. 

He set a deliberately brisk pace down the hall, eager to see what was left on his desk to review.  There were several outreach-based investigative assignments he’d given, certain demon clans to track down and establish relationships with.  Unification wasn’t an overnight task, but they’d made quicker progress than he’d initially projected they would.  The promise of a reliable stream of soul rations for those who were having difficulty with acquiring an energy source themselves, coupled with straight-forward guidelines for humane extractions in target demographics, were enough to curry favor.  Many were eager for direction, to place their headaches in his lap.  Other groups had different desires, each as unique to the individual demon heading them.

Then there were the other supernaturals in the district, and their needs.  Finding willing parties to participate in the bi-weekly community meetings was slow-going.  Tensions were still high, but it was a work in progress.

Chtahzus’aak closed the door behind him and went to sit at his desk and begin sorting through whatever had been left for him.  Instead of a stack of papers perched on his desk, there was a sizable concrete geometric bowl filled with a variety of succulents artistically arranged.  A little notecard fixed to a stick stuck out of the rocky soil.  Frowning, he hesitated before plucking it out and opening it.

The teal-gradient front of the card read “CONGRATS!” in gold script.  So it was from the demon at the front desk then.  This was seriously overkill, words were plenty enough.  He sighed and shook his head, opening the card to see what she had written.

Congrats on the newest addition to your family!
- The Security Team


He read the card several times, even going to far as to close and open it again.  The newest addition to your family?  He didn't have a-

Sabrina.

But how did the Security Team find out?  Or the demon at the front desk?  Who else knew?  It'd barely been a couple days since the discovery was made and Zeus scarcely processed the information himself.  He hadn't breathed a word of it to anyone, nor did he intend to.  It was far too early to go and consider the witch his family, nevermind whether or not she was interested in associating with him outside of district leader business.  He wasn't entirely sure what to make of the connection either.

Family.  Such a human concept.

After centering the planter on his desk, he went directly out of his office to the elevator, taking it to the third floor.  He emerged with a serious expression and stopped the first demon he could find, who was thankfully loitering just outside the surveillance office. 

"You know about this?"  Zeus asked, holding up the teal card.  The other demon nodded, smile fading from their face.  "Who told you?"  His tone was patient.  He had wanted to ask whose idea it was, but that sounded more confrontational and it wasn't exactly the information he was looking for. 

"Uh, Anros told me but loads of people were talking about it here." 

Zeus sighed quietly through his nose and gave the other demon an assessing look. 

"Oh--uh, I heard Brael talking to a bunch of people about it so maybe he knows?" 

"Right," he rubbed his temple and stuffed the card into his pocket.  Zeus turned back toward the elevator, then spun around for the last time.  "Is this widely known here, now?" 

The demon nodded, then added quickly: "It won't leave the building."  No, he trusted his own enough to know that.  Chtahzus'aak nodded appreciatively and continued to the elevator to track down Brael.
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Trillian

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Re: Succulent
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2019, 12:35:53 PM »
Brael was in the common room, chatting and laughing with five of his friends. They'd finished training with weapons together and had hit the showers, now they were waiting for the last two in their group to join them so they could attack their daily tasks together as a unit. Brael had discovered that teaming up with others made quick work of their jobs and also pleasant. They often changed up their pairings to evolve their friendships as well as tackling their duties.

They were all in their human form though Brael was often on-call to head out with Zeus. It was the first thing he thought when he saw the boss through the doorway, and he waved and stood, excusing himself to go to his superior who didn't seem happy about something. Brael figured they were going to race out together somewhere and investigate someone. Perhaps it had something to do with Central?

"You need me?" Brael asked in a low voice, with the residue of a smile on his face.

INFUSCO : Ben : Hugh : Lan Bao : Mick : Todd : Vincent : Win :
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Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: Succulent
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2019, 12:57:23 PM »
Brael's easy expression had a softening effect on his own, leaving Zeus with a look that could best be described as neutral.

"Yes," He glanced at the group Brael had just left, making a touch of eye contact from across the room, and gave them an acknowledging nod.  "Let's chat in my office." 

---

Chtahzus'aak closed the door and made his way to one of the couches, sitting with an exhale.  He waited for Brael to do the same, or not, before pulling the little notecard out of his pocket.

"What do you know about this?"  he did his best to keep his tone level as he handed over the card.  The fact that he'd been told that Brael was seen talking with a number of people about Sabrina did little to help keep the impatience from edging into his voice. 
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Trillian

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Re: Succulent
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2019, 02:14:00 PM »
Brael called his see-you-laters to his friends and followed Chtahzus'aak through the corridors towards the office his boss used. He sat on the lounge beside him, intrigued about what he would be told. Zeus' moods tended to wash off him like water off the proverbial duck's back. He'd got used to Zeus' stern manner and figured that leadership tended to leave the demon this way. Brael's own style of management was through teamwork and it bolstered his happiness.

Brael took the card and grinned at it, pleased that everyone was giving such positive feedback. He couldn't have been more proud of all of them.

"Hey, that's great of the Security team to send you this. Did you like the plants?" he asked, handing the card back to Zeus because he was sure that his superior would want to keep it somewhere. It wasn't every day that a discovery of this magnitude was made. And hey, how funny that Zeus and his daughter had both ended up as District Leaders in the same city!? It had blown Brael's mind!
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Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: Succulent
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2019, 02:15:16 AM »
Zeus blinked.  "What?  Yes, but that wasn't-"  With a sigh, he took the card and placed it face down on the table beside him.  There was a slightly pained expression on his face.  It shouldn't have surprised him that Brael saw the gesture as nothing but a positive.  No concern that the information was suddenly available to the entire building without his consent.  What he didn't need was everyone thinking he'd gone all soft now, that Sabrina would be some kind of weakness or security risk. 

No one had ever really given him a gift like this before, and he was left with an unfamiliar uncomfortable feeling that escaped his attempts to define.

"Do you know how everyone found out?" 
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Trillian

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Re: Succulent
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2019, 08:27:05 AM »
“I made sure most of them knew first hand so there wouldn’t be bad information,” Brael declared proudly. “There was already speculation about how Sabrina had entered the building so easily and when it was discovered she was your daughter, well, it made sense to everyone!” Brael cackled laughter at the memory of their faces as the realisation had hit. There had been a lot of ‘OHHH’ and nodding.

Of course there was still talk but Brael's excitement had infected everyone and it had been his idea for Zeus to receive new father's gifts. Brael had a huge one being delivered later this afternoon. He was looking forward to seeing Zeus' face when he received it.
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Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: Succulent
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2019, 07:27:47 AM »
Shock flashed across his face at Brael's admission.  So he'd gone out and told everyone he could find?  How soon after?  Did he even bother considering the fact that Zeus might've wanted to be the one to make a statement about it?

Bad information?  Zeus frowned.  While unable to completely disregard the intelligence of Brael's decision, he'd still acted without consulting him first.  He pinched the bridge of his nose lightly.

"Why didn't we talk about it first?"  he asked with a level tone, though his lips were pressed tightly together.  Admittedly, Zeus hadn't been forthcoming with his thoughts on the entire thing--but it couldn't have been that long. 
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Trillian

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Re: Succulent
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2019, 10:03:46 AM »
Brael's laughter, already dying down naturally, finished quite abruptly when he realised that Zeus wasn't pleased. He couldn't think why they would need to talk about it first; Brael came from a culture where everything was always shared as soon as possible - news travelled faster than the originator could spread themselves. Everyone could be informed in moments. And news like this? It was wonderful! Why keep it hidden for a few extra minutes, or hours?

"It's a celebration," Brael said, wanting to convince Zeus that this news wasn't bad. How could finding a long-lost daughter be bad? It was something wonderful to share!
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Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: Succulent
« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2019, 07:29:17 AM »
He gave Brael an incredulous stare and shook his head.  A celebration?  There wasn't anything Chtahzus'aak was aware of that he'd done to indicate anything of the sort.  At best his feelings were mixed - he wasn't even sure what Sabrina herself felt about the entire ordeal.  There wasn't much on her end hinting toward any desire for some semblance of a relationship outside of a professional one. 

Especially being on the receiving end for Caoimhe's wrath over his actions.

There was a sigh of frustration before he began to speak.  "I didn't-"  Didn't what?  Want everyone to know?  Acknowledge it himself?  There was nothing wrong with what happened, sure it wasn't his intention (or expectation) to create a child, but there was nothing to be ashamed of.  Not that he was ashamed.  No, that wasn't the right word for what he felt.

In an uncharacteristically human manner, Zeus' face softened as he dropped the tension in his shoulders and let out an awkward chuckle. 

"Truthfully, I don't know what to make of it," The honesty of his admission soured in his mouth.  If anyone, he could trust Brael with his thoughts (well, mostly).  It was an odd thing to become accustomed to, and there was a great deal of internal resistance there - especially after this.  "I certainly don't know what she makes of it."  The last bit was muttered partly to himself, followed by a puff of air between his lips.

He hated feeling this... uncomfortable.
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Trillian

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Re: Succulent
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2019, 07:41:42 PM »
Brael remained puzzled as Chtahzus'aak explained he didn't know how he felt. How unusual! And his confession that Sabrina's opinion was unknown?

"How can you not know? What did you talk about in the room after I left?" Brael asked.

It made no sense! Should he have remained with them as their mediator? Was he supposed to have guided them through their emotional time? He balked at the idea and yet a part of him felt as though he'd failed his boss - that he should've helped in a way that he knew how, and for some strange reason the two of them didn't!

Like father, like daughter. Brael stifled his laughter at the thought.
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Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: Succulent
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2019, 11:58:04 PM »
Was it supposed to be a simple thing that other people otherwise would've automatically known what to feel? He crossed his arms over his chest and fixed his gaze to the floor.

"She wanted to see the knife I procured from her mother.  I took her to the vault.  She asked me to keep it so I gave it to her."  Despite his soft expression, there was little emotion behind his retelling.  "Sabrina suffered blame and abuse for its loss."  His face darkened.  The storm lasted only briefly and he looked back up to Brael.

"This is why it isn't so straight-forward."  It seemed obvious to him, anyway, that it wouldn't be.
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Trillian

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Re: Succulent
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2019, 08:29:01 AM »
Brael stared. He opened his mouth, closed it, then stared some more. They had talked about a knife? Really?!

"I understand that it wouldn't be straight forward. This is why you talk about it," Brael pointed out. "With her," he added, thinking he was going to have to spell out a few things now.

"Did the two of you discuss your opinions upon discovering you were her father?" Brael asked, hoping he was wrong in the idea that they hadn't. Perhaps his superior didn't want to discuss this with him? He hoped that was the case, that he was keeping his emotional connection to himself... but Brael couldn't think why someone would want to.

Talking about their feelings with one another would go a long way towards creating a fruitful relationship between them. Didn't they want that?
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Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: Succulent
« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2019, 02:06:40 AM »
Brael's reaction was akin to a splash of cold water to the face.  Initially, the almost patronizing tone unearthed an angry reaction.  Defensive, maybe.  Zeus examined the emotion at arms-length, unwilling to lash out for something so... silly.  It wasn't as if Brael was wrong.

"No," he admitted grudgingly after a beat.  An unwelcome wash of shame flashed over him before it was stubbornly buried.  Discuss opinions.  With someone he'd just met?  He wasn't even entirely sure if he could trust the witch.  "I needed time to process."  It was a poor excuse, even if it was true. 

"Besides," he straightened a bit, "I didn't get the impression she wanted to talk about it."  Yet.  Though she did want to come back - to study the contents of the Vault.
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Trillian

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Re: Succulent
« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2019, 06:57:53 AM »
Brael frowned and huffed air through his nose, frustrated with his lack of understanding rather than with Zeus and Sabrina. Obviously, if they'd both reacted this way, this was the usual reaction.

"Your culture is so foreign to me," he said, explaining himself so Zeus didn't misunderstand his expression. He took a moment to reflect on it before his frown cleared and he looked frankly at Zeus. "When I told everyone to rejoice, that was the wrong thing," he stated, understanding now that he'd acted on his own knowledge and not that of this world. "Do you wish to publicly reprimand me?"

It was the usual punishment for someone who'd gone against the clan - being told off in front of everyone was mortifying. But that was his clan... Brael was learning that it might not be the case here.
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Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: Succulent
« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2019, 07:57:43 AM »
Chtahzus'aak shook his head.  A public reprimanding would just bring more attention to the situation, and that was the last thing he wanted. 

"I wouldn't say it was wrong, just..."  Brael had told everyone to rejoice?  It just seemed over the top.  Zeus ran a hand through his hair before clasping it loosely with the other in his lap.  "A bit misplaced.  I cannot fault you for lacking the... context of the situation."  He exhaled slowly, lips pressed tightly together.  "And you were right, everyone needed some sort of explanation for what happened."  There was more to it than that, and he struggled with piecing it together.

There was no telling how someone could use that connection against him somehow.  That was the real issue.  Still, Brael's suggestion that he talk with the witch stuck in his mind.  "My personal business..." He paused, face feeling suddenly warm.  "That is something I prefer to keep to myself.  There is little reason to share it with others." 
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente