Author Topic: Searching for a Former Clarity  (Read 6588 times)

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Offline Saiketsu

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Searching for a Former Clarity
« on: December 12, 2019, 03:15:42 AM »
Reserved for Cedar

The black Cadillac Escalade sped through the city at a fatalist speed that, at any other time of the day, would have been the cause of several deaths. He flew as if nothing could hold him back from reaching the ocean, stopping only to pick up three packs of cigarettes that he intended to finish before the end of the night. His music was loud enough to drown out the voices in his head that it all just felt like static. He wasn't present anymore and he felt as if he were watching a movie of his actions rather than actually performing them. No attachment to a former self.

He knew the way by heart by now and despite the familiarity, Judas remained quiet in his head, the only part of him that was. He had been used up for the night and now rested, hopefully for the last time. Like a child put to bed. There was no attempt made to stop his actions and for once Nikolai and Judas understood the same thing and agreed on what needed to be done.

Ninety-seven years was long enough for anyone to live. He had always known that it was coming sooner rather than later, the boredom with time and repetitive behaviors progressing towards an end he himself had always said he'd do. The last sunrise he'd ever see.

Nikolai smoked as he drove, unconcerned with the fumes that built in the car and the tar it deposited in his lungs. Somewhere Laurent was still laughing behind the leeches that invaded him. Only a few more hours of the madness and control. He had waited for almost a century; he could waited a little more.

The pull towards Mitchelletto on the outside of the city was strong in his chest, unmanipulated now, but ever present now that his sire was close enough to feel. It put leadened weight into his foot that pressed the accelerator to the floor of the car as he steered the SUV towards Awelfor Manor. A weight began to settle in the pit of his stomach and he begin to feel giddy, laughing over the drums throbbing bass in the car. Soon, love.

But as he pulled into the driveway, everything inside of him slipped into another kind of chaotic mess.

The other Black Escalade was in the driveway in front of the house.

Nikolai pulled up behind it with apprehension gripping his gut and something else entirely filling his thoughts.

Her.

Perhaps. Maybe.

Laurent's words flickered through his head as Nikolai stopped the car and cautiously approached the door that he knew so well. If he had a working heart, it would have been pounding in his chest or caught in his throat.

Closing his eyes, he inhaled and groaned at the presence of a scent that he was too familiar with.

It was Her.

He opened himself and felt her heaviness, that blackened presence that he lov--

But it was different now, something changed. He didn't wait to be let into the house but opened the door to the foyer himself, searching through the house for Her room by room just like he had two years ago on the first night She was gone. He didn't have to go far, Her image on the deck walking towards him.

Nikolai Armani froze where he was.

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: Searching for a Former Clarity
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2019, 12:49:55 PM »
After hours spent in deep meditation, the dream memories mercifully faded into ghostly tendrils, though they left traces of melancholy in their wake.  With the sunrise approaching, she left the ocean with reluctance and made her way back to the manor.  Navy blouse and dark-wash jeans, waterlogged and spotted with sand, clung to her skin with unpleasantness that barely penetrated her senses.  The surf pulled at her every step and she nearly heeded their call for a final time, sinking into the waves, going out as far as she desired and-

down down down
reaching clawing
lungs filled with salt


Not tonight - perhaps tomorrow. 

Her clove cigarettes were right where she'd left them on the deck.  One went delicately between her lips, fingers moving on their own accord to light it.  Bare damp feet padded across the wood as she leaned over the railing, smoke curling into the sky from her nose with a slow exhale. 

She dreaded sleep, had half the mind to avoid it and half the mind to see how close to sunrise she could dare to see.

The sound of an approaching vehicle was hardly an event, it was likely to be one of her hired people come to care for the house.  It wasn't Tuesday, though, so they were early.  Unless she'd rescheduled?  The occasional thing slipped her memory since her return, and she was disinterested in investigating how she'd forgotten trivial matters like a rescheduled housecleaning. 

Her mind turned back toward the ocean and the smoke in her mouth, paying little attention to the sound of the car's engine stopping.  It wasn't until the door opened and closed that the small hairs standing straight at the back of her neck demanded her attention.  Tension curled in her gut - when would these haunting feelings cease?  The fingers that held the clove cigarette quivered gently, drawing her attention to the glowing tip. 

Ridiculous.  It was just the housekeeper.

When the housekeeper did not knock on the door as expected, an inexplicable flutter of fear went through her chest.  In the small moment while crushing the cigarette into the ashtray, the need to fly back toward the ocean overcame her with such a force that nearly sent her stumbling forward.  With a frown and all of her effort placed in quelling this ridiculous flight response, she turned toward the glass door to glare at the presumptuous housekeeper.

But there was a man in her house.

Anger drove her toward the door - how dare an intruder, practically a fledge, enter her home?  The glass door slid open with her mental force and she stepped inside toward him.

With an unwavering voice, she addressed the trespasser.  "Who are you - get out of my house!"  As soon as she finished speaking, the desire to run increased tenfold and she involuntarily flinched against it.  She did not notice the slight tremor in her hands - too focused on ignoring the terror gripping her chest. 

Why was he so familiar?
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 Saiketsu

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Re: Searching for a Former Clarity
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2019, 10:41:46 AM »
The urge to obey came unwillingly and he almost obeyed out of vampiric pressure - he had forgotten how old She was, how She could manipulate those younger, weaker, less talented with mind games... But Nikolai stayed, his feet rooted to the floor at the sight of Her and he didn't register what She had said.

Is it actually Her?

She was soaked, water slicking the soft fabric of Her blouse to Her ivory skin, Her jeans suctioned to Her legs. His eyes had never seen the like, but he couldn't fully trust his eyes. Not after sleeping next to Her ghost for nearly two years. His mind liked to aid the demon in playing sick games on him.

An illusion. She had to be just another ghost.

Sonya - the real Sonya - was lost to him. All that mattered was the rising sun.

Nikolai eyed Her suspiciously, still unsure despite his inner narrative if She were really there, standing in front of him, telling him to...

"Get out?" His face contorted in confusion. It was the first time they had seen each other and She wanted him gone already? The idea was ridiculous. The nights he spent at the beach waiting for Her, looking for Her, thinking about Her and how it all hit the fan when She left him...

"No." He asserted, a tentative anger filling him and making his hands shake. Questions raged in him, questions he had waited for years for answers to, questions that clarified what all of this was and was supposed to mean. They filled his chest with a bloated rage that choked him up, filling his face with fire.

"Fuck you! Where were you?" His voice was low and close to a snarl and it pulled on a deep ache in his chest that had cost him everything he had ever known to acknowledge in Her absence. He was speaking to a spectre of the woman who caused within him all this grief and he wanted - needed - answers. Especially if She was, in fact, real.

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: Searching for a Former Clarity
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2019, 11:07:07 AM »
At his words, a flicker of recognition appeared to flash through her face before settling on a look of shock.  No?  What fledge in their right mind would refuse the command of an ancient?  Where was the self-preservation?  Did he actually know her?  Or was this some raving lunatic? 

Still, there was that decade gap in her memory - things unaccounted for.  Was he one of them?

The déjà vu familiarity crept back into her awareness, that feeling clinging to the back of her neck like sweat.  Where were you?  Something in her chest dropped heavy into her gut.  She searched her mind for his face, fruitlessly drawing blank.  That expression on his face further unsettled her. 

Clenched, trembling fists she took another step forward.

"I don't know who the fuck you are," her low voice spoken like a warning, "Get - out - of - my - house." 
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 Saiketsu

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Re: Searching for a Former Clarity
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2019, 11:37:44 AM »
The hairs on the back of his neck prickled as the room darkened around them with Her warning, but he held his ground, too thankful and stubborn that he remembered how in Her presence even after so long.

No, it was the look in her eyes and the words from Her mouth that threw him off balance, made him pause in his attack on her, the anger that had built within him hitting a brick wall of confusion. Nikolai blinked at Her and something in his chest clenched tightly as if he were holding his breath.

How could she not know who he was? Was this a game? He searched his own recollections of their years together, a trickle of panic creeping into him when some of his own time was spotty and She took a step closer to him. He hesitated, not knowing what to do, what to say.

"Sonya..." Something was wrong and he didn't know where or what it was. Did she really not remember him? An unfamiliar feeling, not unlike fear, passed through him and he just looked at the water that dripped from her hair onto the floor. He found her bare feet unnervingly sandy. Had she just emerged from the ocean now? That was impossible. Hadn't Laurent said she had been spotted in the city? He wanted to reach out to her and take her face in his hands, to embrace her, to shake her into remembering everything. He wanted to kiss her again, to feel her hard skin against the palm of his hand.

"Do you... not... remember me?" Nikolai looked at the ancient with eyes hardened by habit, pained with the absence of him in her mind. The urge to turn away from her was suddenly upon him, alarms in his head blaring, the shadows cackling in low breaths beneath his hearing. He could simply return to his car and find four more junkies to feed from before the sun found him abandoned and strung out, covered in blood on some rooftop.

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: Searching for a Former Clarity
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2019, 11:47:01 AM »
She could see herself rushing at him, sharp nails shooting out to grip his throat in her grasp, pushing him backwards out the door -

Through the wall in the upstairs bedroom -
the one you
                 are avoiding
                 haven't gone in
since you got back.
     

Opening eyes she hadn't realized she'd squeezed shut, her glare lacked the same conviction.  Something unraveling slowly against the fray.  The sound of her name on his tongue -

No.  No, no,  NO

She pushed the fire back into her eyes with partial success, wavering when her eyes met his.  Unshakable familiarity - she was nearly certain those were the eyes she'd seen in her dream.  Impossible.  Instead of answering or challenging him, she turned fast on her heel and bolted back out the sliding door.

Sunrise be damned.
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 Saiketsu

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Re: Searching for a Former Clarity
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2019, 11:57:22 AM »
Her wave of panic hit him with a frantic mental cry that pulsed through his head like a strike of lightning. "No!" He shouted after her - once he realized she moved - watching frantically as her figure was on the beach, suddenly wading calf deep into the rough waters of the ocean that she must have just come out of. With all the speed that immortality had given him, he rushed after her, throwing himself out the glass slider and down the deck, stumbling briefly over the sand until he had her forearm in his grasp and his own calves in the water next to her.

"Sonya, please!"

Please? Please what?

His voice was a pathetic mixture of fear and need, the swell in his chest at her escape allowing such a pitiful display of emotion that Judas would have been ashamed of.

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Re: Searching for a Former Clarity
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2019, 12:22:05 PM »
Overwhelmingly incomprehensible - what was the point of this?  Why couldn't she go back and force him off of her property?  Her every muscle pushed her toward the shore, with an eagerness that suggested an inescapable inevitability.  No backward glances.  Unable to process decisions through the whirlwind of her mind, she was in the water before she realized what was happening.  Calling out above it all came a warning -

he must not undo what was left incomplete

But to what end?  He was already at her side before she could go further.  His name, there was a name there in her mind behind a slowly lifting fog and she squeezed her eyes shut against it, shaking her head desperately from side to side as if the gesture could make it stop.  Easily freed from his hand with a single pull, she took a single step forward before stopping. 

Each wave that pushed against her eroded the tenuous wall surrounding a fistful of memories.  Her shoulders dropped in defeat, but the tension warring with the unraveling in her mind refused to leave.

"What are you doing here?"  Her words were spoken barely above the sound of the sea.  You're ruining everything.
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 Saiketsu

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Re: Searching for a Former Clarity
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2019, 11:39:15 AM »
He was more surprised by the solidness of her flesh, physical proof that she was real, than he was by her reaction to him, more or less expecting her to wrench free from his grip. His heart jumped into his throat.

She was real.

Desperate for more proof of her presence, Nikolai reached out again to re-secure himself as she took a step away from him, stopping only when she did as well, afraid to finalize a touch upon her skin - for fear of misremembering the moment previous.  He watched as the turmoil came over her expression, unaware of what was happening within her. Those same impulses - to demand her attention, to shake her into remembering, to take her into an embrace and never let her go - ached within him as he watched her.

But her quiet words sent a thrill through him. She spoke as if she knew him once again, her irritation both confusing and painful. Did she remember him after all? had she not expected him to come back? To not go looking for her when she had disappeared? Did she know that she had disappeared? The wind howled and the sea rumbled, pushing at him. Laurent's shadows whispered in his ears and sirens blared. But for once Judas was silent and Nikolai could think.

He had no words for her and he couldn't have ever predicted her question. His emerald eyes lingered on her shoulder before following the length of her arm down to her fingers, as if her crafted hands held some kind of answer for him. Why was he here? There were plenty of places to die in the city, were sunset would have found him and reduced him to ash just like anywhere else. Why had he felt pulled to here?

He knew the answer, but still found it difficult to admit it to himself, let alone to her. There were words in his head he had never uttered aloud to anyone, words that had turned Judas against him. His gaze lingered on her fingertips as the wind blew droplets of water from them sideways with its vehemence. He could remember the last time he had felt those fingers on his tattoos, tracing lines over his art like he had done to her canvas years before in the first days they had met. It was funny to him how such things circled back around.

Nikolai smirked something bittersweet and drew a deep dragging breath into his lungs before answering, while he stroked the back of her arm with the back of his finger, drawing his hand upwards against her cold, wet skin. It didn't matter, after all. "I came to watch the sun rise."

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: Searching for a Former Clarity
« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2019, 11:17:40 AM »
Her arm wrenched away from his touch, her head turning sharply toward him and her glare finding his eyes with a spark of fury.  What did she care that a fledge sought the sun?  The churning in her chest fought the transparent thought, uncertainty persisting regardless.

She knew him.  He meant something.  Once.

Thoughts struggled upstream in her consciousness, pushing past hastily laid mental commands.  Panic curled anew in her throat until words made their way out of her mouth.

"You're not supposed to be here," she hissed, taking a backward step toward the ocean.  Her face revealed that the assertion surprised her, as though another spoke from her lips.
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 Saiketsu

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Re: Searching for a Former Clarity
« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2019, 12:28:56 PM »
Her comment pointed at something he already knew but he ached nonetheless as he was spurned. He dropped his hand away from her, feeling the incredible weight of her glare like a critique. Their eyes met and he watched the confliction in her expression and didn't understand it. 

Of course he would be spurned. What had he been to her anyway? A lover? A distraction? A decent fuck?

A manic, internal search for a critical understanding of what he was - what was he doing there? - came over him in self-conscious flashes of their time spent together:

The Massacre of South Brockton, with blood clinging to her hands, her hair in mats.
Her insistent little Italian brat, the one who liked to have his fingers on keys and in pies.
Firecrackers snapping as she pulled his lip rings out of his flesh.
The impact of the ground after he flew out the wall of the second-floor bedroom.
The one where he woke up to the smell of her hair on his chest.
Heavily thoughtful, but silent circles traced on the surface of his skin, nails pressed into her flesh until blood oozed.
The Look in her eyes that tore his chest open as their bodies connected.
All-consuming, aching.
Burning.
The Look they never spoke of.

How could he speak of such things now when she denied their very existence in the first place? Did they ever exist, or was it just one more game that Nikolai was a passenger for? What was all of this? What did it all mean?

Nikolai had found the answers in glimpses that caused him bouts of panic and deafening migraines. Slowly the answer had suffocated him and drowned out his reason without his consent. Denial at first, of course - it was all so laughable, so insanely human. But with the maddening search for answers - for her - the acknowledgement of his need of her brought with it the only possible explanation. It had turned Judas into an overbearing savior and Nikolai back into a junkie. With discovery of truth brought more denial, more heroin, more cocaine, more head and cocks - anything to wash the taste of her from his mouth.

She was the one who had chosen to bury herself in the fucking ocean.

"No," Nikolai answered quietly, his eyes falling again to her fingertips, wishing to feel them again at his shoulder, in his mouth. "You were supposed to kill me years ago. But you didn't."

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: Searching for a Former Clarity
« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2019, 12:46:15 PM »
A pulse of recognition rocked her, followed hard by a feeling of compression as though air had been sucked from her lungs.  Desperate eyes searched his for an intense moment, want for answers she dare not ask for.  How much longer would this persist before something burst from her chest?

Who are you?  Who are you to me?

The barrier separating her consciousness from the answer thinned, revealing shadowy figures dancing in slow-motion behind a sheer curtain.  Trembling again, she wrapped her arms tightly around her. 

She could put a stop to this, outrun him into the sea, separate his head from his shoulders, or otherwise incapacitate him.  She could stuff the flare of...whatever this was back down and freeze over until she didn't feel it anymore.  It would be easy - she'd done it before, hadn't she?  Yes, there was a memory of that somewhere, edges blurred and running into one another like watercolors. 

The Queen of ice, protected from trivial weaknesses, ensured a familiar safety.  Was that what she wanted?

"Is that why you're here, then?"  She barely seemed to note the question pass her lips as her eyes moved from his, body slowly turning back toward the ocean. 
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 Saiketsu

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Re: Searching for a Former Clarity
« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2019, 01:13:29 PM »
He exhaled a brief laugh, the sound of which was undoubtedly lost to the howl of the wind and sea. His lips curled upwards and the skin at the corner of his eyes crinkled but no enjoyment filled his features.

"I heard you were back," Nikolai said simply, though the words weighed on his chest like lead. "I needed to see for myself if that was true..."

Because I ...
missed you...


"So I came here one last time. With the hope of seeing you before I went."

Now, however, he didn't want to go. Not quite yet.

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: Searching for a Former Clarity
« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2019, 01:18:35 PM »
"What do you mean - you heard I was back?"  The question bit sharp with venom as the pendulum swung hard from Anna's fearful uncertainty to the Queen's anger.  She did not turn to look at him, the weight at the base of her throat holding her in place and phantom heartbeats clenching at her chest. 
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 Saiketsu

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Re: Searching for a Former Clarity
« Reply #14 on: December 20, 2019, 01:29:22 PM »
He hesitated, knowing that any mention of Laurent would be force the leeches into his throat and seal it just as they did when Lisa-Joe tried to coax the name out of him.

"Sonya..." He drawled, unsure of what to say. Nikolai kept his eyes on the waters pooling around his legs, watching the foam stick to his jeans unceremoniously as the water ebbed. "Come with me to the shore." There was a sense of defeat that filled him as he made his request, knowing she would be faster than him should she try anything violent or sudden. In a small voice that he couldn't remember ever using, the tone unfamiliar in his mouth, but necessary nonetheless. "Please?"