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May, 2010... Fantasy became reality. Worlds overlay for the briefest moment. Outworlders became stranded on earth as more than half the human populace vanished. Our World, our universe, was transformed.

Fiction is now reality. Humans and those now bound to this world will either learn to coexist, or battle for supremecy.

JUNE 13, 2019 - Family emergency  took a bad turn so had to stay away but now things are finally calming down. Hope to get going again shortly. Thanks for understanding. ~ZEPH

Rorye Shannon-Kearney

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356 Bringing Sexy Back

About Rorye Shannon-Kearney


    Gemma Arterton (Olga Kurylenko as Red with permission)
  • AGE
    Early thirties
  • RACE
    Altered Human, Physical
  • JOB
    Owner of The Book of Kells; ARMA Informant
    New York
    Rorye has unique features. Dark chocolate eyes are set in a porcelain complexion with a light spatter of freckles, strong jaw complimented by an exotic gentle nose. Long hair is mahogany smooth, sometimes in curls, usually worn up or braided in a single thick plait.

    She is slightly above average height for a woman, the extra height able to carry her curves well. Shoulders are squared and powerful, muscles toned and visible. When standing still, the striking resemblance to a Greek statue with a Valkyrie temper is hard to miss.

    Dress is mostly relaxed and gauzy fabrics mixed with jeans and comfortable slip-on shoes while in the the shop. In public, the 'raised in Hell's Kitchen' edge is evident. She clings to a worn but well cared for hip length fitted black leather jacket, sleeves to her knuckles and narrow when zipped. Leather, low heeled black boots under jeans add slightly to an already formidable height. On rare occasions she does dress up nicely, also having no qualms about donning utilitarian clothes to get work done in her greenhouse. She prefers comfy casual with a bit of romantic flair, not above a gauzy shirt over a cami and jeans to work a day in her shop.

    Most of the time she has little to no make-up on. If she does, it's usually lined eyes and a neutral lipstick- her features are so unique she rarely needs any.

    Her spine is painted in an incredible artistic display of woad colored mandala Celtic knotwork tattooing; a stunning homage to her British heritage and fondness of the Morrigan mythology.
    Rorye has been affected unusually in several regards by the Nevus event. Since an encounter with a vicious botched possession, an entity she’s dubbed “Red” has latched onto the energy field of her unique Enhanced psyche. Trapped from ancient magic, it was released instead of going up in flames with its prison. Its soul, has set up residence in her psyche. She feels its emotions and speech- most of the time in its native tongue and a mixture of Latin. She can allow it to channel her, able to tap the skills and fighting expertise of the ancient warrior for a short time before she burns out; unfortunately taking on Red’s personality, mannerisms and hot temper during the episode- which are a more aggressive form of her own. The longer she is able to channel her "shadow" and allow control, the longer the personality traits linger and physical manifestations of the entity's appearance can be seen; bruising where Red's scars are, some delightful feudal personality traits and even a slight color change of her eyes. She has never attempted to banish the presence, who feels much like a shadow, or the darkness inside a mind that is fractured with another personality.

    At night, especially when the rift is visible in the sky, she can feel the pull on her blood; as if the strange tear in the fabric of time and space is trying to yank Red back into her rightful place and world. Perhaps it is Rorye who is out of place, or maybe they were never two separate people at all. What is not understood about the Nevus, keeps her questioning her duality every time she stares into the night sky; finding unusual calm in gazing into the unknown.

    Rorye is a tremendous fighter. It doesn’t matter how she comes out on top, only that she survives and any that she calls friends are safe. Exceptionally loyal and protective, she is patient to a point; if friends are observed to be exhibiting behavior detrimental to their well being or survival, she will intervene without question in whatever means necessary. She has no problem bringing violence, brutality and death to the table if she perceives a threat to herself or those she loves- even if putting herself in great danger to accomplish it.

    Most of the time, she is quiet and rational with sharp wit made memorable by a smoky, gentle voice. She can be abrasive if she’s annoyed or perceives ignorance; intolerant of stupidity and carelessness. Her business savvy is evident in her work, remarkably knowledgeable and resourceful to acquire necessary items for her shop. That business savvy is most put to use in the ‘trafficking’ of information. Since her business is at a crossroads for many faction needs, she sees a lot of counterbalanced customers purchasing things to strengthen themselves against one another. She is a trustworthy and sought after source, and if she likes you enough she just might give you a nugget of information you could use. Information is never bought and sold, she is a trusted "gun-runner" in the metaphysical "weapons" community; but, she doesn't see the need to hide there may have been a run on a particular fetish or spell ingredient in recent months.

    Personally, she struggles with the emptiness left by her husband’s death. There is no remorse for killing him; she did what she had to do to save her life. However, he was her soul mate and the betrayal of his attempt on her life still haunts her; reluctant to trust anyone too quickly. Always having been close to her family, she now fights the loneliness it has left behind. She does not wear her wedding ring, instead leaves both of them tucked in the eye-sockets of his skull kept behind the counter of the shop.

    Red is the Boudicca of Celtic legend. History often written by the “winners” of the conflict, the actual truth is somewhere between the legend of the goddess Morrigu, and the Roman history of Boudica. Thrust into the spotlight after her sister and nieces were raped and striped by the Romans, she stepped forward when her brother-in-law Prasutagus failed to uphold their honor and led a bloody rampage against the empire.

    The spirit’s image is identical to that in life; covered completely with vibrant cobalt blue woad tattoos in intricate whorls and knots. The only clear flesh is her hands and feet, face, neck and the center of her chest and her breasts. Her forearms are feather scarred from a captor’s attempt to burn the tattoos from her skin. She is also heavily marked from battle, especially her upper arms. A long red line extends from her left ear across her collarbone. Another large almond shaped scar is a through and through over and behind her heart. An enormous scar encompasses her right side from her navel to her kidney, and another large puncture to her left shoulder blade is also visible. Her hair is a scarlet torrent of hundreds upon hundreds of tiny thigh length braids tipped in copper beads The apparition is seen dressed in leather breeches, thigh high boots with dozens of strapped buckles, a sleeveless hardened vest burnished with Celtic knotwork over a battleworn tunic. Two hard leather bracers are laced tightly to her forearms with multitudes of leather belts crisscrossing her hips and twin sheaths.

    Red is also an incredible double handed swordsman, a conglomeration of tradition, training and desperation. In a fight, nothing is sacred and she will strike a deathblow in whatever way possible, preferring to incapacitate first to savor the death and prolong suffering. Her hand to hand combat is also substantial, as well as her bowmanship, horsemanship and grasp of military tactics.

    She is a towering, striking woman with a white hot temper, insatiable libido, sinister humor and the fortitude of an army.
    Business; "The Book of Kells; Tea, Reads and Occult Shoppe" and three inconsequential NPC's that help run the shop (Nina- an artsy elderly woman that runs it when Rorye is not there, Jesse- a college age young man that keeps everything neat/stocked and running smoothly, and Beau- a middle-aged mom that manages the tea house). The shop is in Manhattan, close to Central Park and the art museum. It is a bi-level, old Victorian storefront that resembles a turn of the 20th century house with a complimentary utilitarian front addition. To the left of the entrance a small teahouse up five steps that specializes in personal blends as well as other apothecary needs, forward is the eclectic book collection on anything and everything history, mythological and metaphysical and to the right the general occult shop. It's a warm place to relax and meet with other altered peoples as well as shop for needed items to meet any magic and altered needs. Accepts currency of late, trades and bartering. Above it is her personal apartment, on the roof is her greenhouse and "Observatory Cafe", a small private place for special regulars to meet and watch the rift sky through multiple elaborate telescopes- the observatory accessed only through locked door from the tea house.

    Her dead husband's skull mounted with an antique brass chamberstick; which unfortunately happens to be an 'artifact'. The face of the skull faces the wall, hiding the fact that it indeed does have vampire teeth. Only her employees know it's an actual vampire skull.

    Small Victorian apartment above the shop with eclectic, comfortable furnishings and decor.

    Greenhouse on the roof of the shop where she grows food and many of her herbs year round.

    A pair of custom made light knives the length of her forearms with custom forearm sheaths,

    A pair of antique short swords similar to Wakizashi, with matching hilts.

    Dragon-made karambits with a binding ring that unlocks Red's expertise when unsheathed.

    A Ducati 848 in primer black.
    Rorye stays close to her neighborhood, seen as a pillar of the community and owning the place "to be seen". She has casual acquaintances with members of ARMA; Cassandra Greene and Alec Walker most notable after a brief relationship with Alistair Greene until his disappearance. She is connected to the underground relic and artifact trade and keeps her contacts confidential, one of her favorites being the resident dragon.


    Rorye’s ability for extreme speed and agility has begun to show signs of mutation attributed to a recent collision with the very people she trusted and does business with. Unclear whether it was repeated exposure to her chamberstick artifact or the result of a botched possession, the results have been significant. Formerly unable to engage her enhanced speed effectively due to deficiency of stamina and mortal level bone strength, she has discovered this is no longer the case. Skeletal strength has found equilibrium with her speed and agility, making her a deadly hand to hand fighter enhanced with boxing/kickboxing training. Adding a bladed weapon to the mix is stunningly lethal. Using brute force will burn her ability levels quickly to a limit of a half hour, with recharge periods of hours. The freedom of movement and lack of impact allowed by blades extends her usage to an hour, with the same recharge time needed. As she refines her skill with blades, her potential is staggering.

    Channeled Consciousness; Rorye has been affected unusually in several regards by the Nevus event. Since an encounter with a vicious botched possession, an entity she’s dubbed “Red” has latched onto the energy field of her unique Enhanced psyche. Trapped from ancient magic, it was released instead of going up in flames with its prison. Its soul, has set up residence in her psyche. She feels its emotions and speech- most of the time in its native tongue and a mixture of Latin. She can allow it to channel her, able to tap the skills and fighting expertise of the ancient warrior for a short time before she burns out; unfortunately taking on Red’s personality, mannerisms and hot temper during the episode- which are a more aggressive form of her own. The longer she is able to channel her "shadow" and allow control, the longer the personality traits linger and physical manifestations of the entity's appearance can be seen; bruising where Red's scars are, some delightful feudal personality traits and even a slight color change of her eyes. She has never attempted to banish the presence, who feels much like a shadow, or the darkness inside a mind that is fractured with another personality.

    At night, especially when the rift is visible in the sky, she can feel the pull on her blood; as if the strange tear in the fabric of time and space is trying to yank Red back into her rightful place and world. Perhaps it is Rorye who is out of place, or maybe they were never two separate people at all. What is not understood about the Nevus, keeps her questioning her duality every time she stares into the sky; finding unusual calm in gazing into the night sky.

    "Chamberstick" artifact. This Victorian, antique brass chamberstick was a gift from her husband in a set of two shortly before the Event. Oddly enough, only one exhibited any type of atypical power. When it sits near her husband's skull, the nub of a candle lights up at her presence in a strange quiver of iridescent light on the wick where the flame should be. It responds to her voice, changes color with her mood, and alerts her to danger by lighting up and flickering gently before siphoning out. Seeing the relationship between the two items, she had the thing mounted on the skull to keep others from playing with or separating it. It sits behind the register counter in her shop.

    In Game Update: Towenar bound Rorye's "shadow Red" to a ring she wears. Instead of manipulating her, it can be used in short bursts of expertise in two enchanted shortblades (longer version of karambits) that are "connected" to the entity in the ring, effectively unleashing what before would take over Rorye completely-now only present in the blades. Think a lock and a key idea. The ring is the lock, the karambits are the key- unleashing a sharper control over the wild child. She can still 'hear' the entity, she just has more finite control over fighting skill when she draws the blades and unlocks Red's expertise. The blades can withstand the force her speed can unleash when it hits. So now, she has the strong set on her forearms from Ali's guy, and a long karambit set on her spine from Johann. She can no longer draw on Red's expertise without unlocking it with the karambits. It does not transfer to other weapons. No one is really sure what happens when she takes the ring off, so she never does.
    Exceptional knowledge of all things occult, mystic affiliations, alternative and traditional religions, mythology, history, healing traditions, and natural magic. Pre-Resonance, her knowledge base centered specifically on what was understood to be “true” of the known metaphysical, religious, and magic practices. After the world changed, this has understandably been expanded to the new rules of existence, or lack thereof, as her business was sought out to provide items to those with newly discovered abilities. She now caters discretely to unusual needs, as well as continues to supply survivors still practicing pre-Resonance alternative religions and traditions; a trusted businesswoman with a finger on the pulse of the new and old metaphysical.

    Rorye is a prolific boxer and kickboxer, still refining her kickboxing skills several times a week at the local gym. Her boxing skills are rusty, but still useful.


    Green thumb.

    Business savvy and organizational skills.

    Knife/shortblade defensive and offensive fighting styles.
    Rorye was born and raised in New York City with heavy Scottish heritage. Parent’s lilt was thick; the New York influence seemed thicker. Having a slight accent as a child, the Scot in her verbally lessened over time to be replaced by the hint of a sultry New Yorker. She is a loyal, proud native of the city that never sleeps- with a significant weakness for men in kilts.

    She was married in 2009, shortly before the Resonance to her high school sweetheart Michael Kearney; opening a small teahouse and bookstore together in Manhattan near the art museum. It grew instantly successful in the short honeymoon whirlwind of their marriage, branching out into a more metaphysical market and meeting place. They began to carry fine quality and obscure occult items at the request of patrons. The place was always bustling with warm friends and laughter, their financial needs stable and wanting for nothing. Life seemed perfect.

    When the world changed, both were affected. Rorye appeared at first to be the focus of its ire, sickness and unconsciousness followed for days. Her husband disappeared; Michael oddly had locked himself in the old vault beneath the shop, emerging as something terrible and unable to be reasoned with. Terrified he’d become like the monsters now wreaking havoc in the city she took action, fumbling with new found powers against an incredibly hostile and disoriented lover. He showed no mercy, only a vicious need to kill her. She in turn struck first, stabbing him in the throat with hedge trimmers from her greenhouse and subsequently beheaded him during the struggle.

    Disoriented grieving followed, burying his body in the courtyard behind the shop, a single stone as his marker still can be found beneath the overgrown grass. His head was another matter, left for several days where it had fallen amongst a scattered bookshelf and chotsky during the struggle. The strange light that emanated next to it from a chamberstick he’d given her as a gift kept her from touching the seemingly enchanted thing. She was convinced for a time the skull itself was charmed, only dashing that theory when it became necessary for obvious reasons to remove it. After discovering the chamberstick responded to her and the skull’s presence, she had them permanently fused; a morbid, but necessary act. She keeps his skull behind the counter as a candle holder, and can often be seen telling it to turn itself off; calling it by her husband’s name. Many of her employees often wonder if she is more disturbed by his death than she lets on. Only she knows the thing works under its own power, everyone else is convinced she is doing the trick herself. She is one of the few that knows the secret of the existence of vampires, Michael's fanged skull seen as just another interesting "prop" in her shop.

    She continues to run the fruitful occult shop specializing in any and all things magic supplies, books and her personal favorite teas. The business crosses many barriers and has a lot of connections, supplier to a large amount of magic needs. Rorye can get virtually anything for anyone, which makes her a sought after ally and a crossroads for information from every faction.

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  1. Rorye Shannon-Kearney

    Taking Inventory

    “Quiet you, the adults are talking" She almost laughed out loud. Bully for him. Digging in his heels with Chris worked, plus it was nice to watch the relic trader get his ass verbally handed to him for once from someone else besides her. So many times she wanted to point a gun at the man’s head… living vicariously was going to have to be enough for now through the introductions. Unfazed by his weapon, she continued, unsure if Ryan realized yet how often she had to deal with them as part of her job. She’d had a knife drawn on her more than once in her own shop, guns flashed. It went with the territory. Contacts, clients, everyone in this business tended to be twitchy, and talking them out of threatening her happened more often than not. Chris had done it at one time. He didn’t do it again when she was finished with him. “I certainly hope not” “He is,” she said quietly. Chris really was the best. “Arrogant, but good. Might be getting old though.” Chris shot her a glare. She ignored it as she made sure everyone had a dose of caffeine for the morning. “Let me go put some clothes on. It’s a bit chilly in here” “Mhm,” comment was quiet, slight smile in a teasing expression as she drew her fingertips over his goosebumps discretely in a feather light caress; leaving him to it and returning to her kitchen. “I’ll be right back.” Chris didn’t wait a moment. *npc* “Really?” he shot at her under his breath. Hip leaned on the counter, both hands on her coffee mug. She shrugged ever so nonchalantly and enjoyed her coffee, watching him continue to go through the bag. He always unabashedly pawed through it every time. Didn’t trust anyone to ever give him what he’d asked for. It was why he was still alive in a lot of cases. *npc* “Remy is also gone for five minutes and you’re already casting the net over his territory too?” “Damn right,” the conversation was quiet. Not intended to be a secret, just reciprocating his voice level. *npc* “And you’ve what, sweet talked this poor dumb schmuck into helping you?” Her hackles bristled, poker face not giving him an inch. She wanted to punch him. In the face. Hard. “He’s here to help this blow over,” she commented quietly. *npc* “Living in the apartment my ass,” the bag clunked to the floor and he crossed his arms, drinking his coffee and glaring out over her living room. “None of your business,” she murmured. *npc* “Everything is my business, maybe I’ll deal with him instead of coming all the way into this stinking city.” Exactly. *npc* “So I’m bringing it to you now? That’s not a good idea. I shouldn’t be coming into town that much.” “I know,” she agreed. They needed a new hub outside of town where everyone could pass through. “I thought about the crossroads, but would need to reestablish ties.” He nodded slightly, “that’s an option.” “Alexandria went down and we know what happened. We lost the south end for almost year to the jackass scrap market on the coast. I think Crossroads is our best bet.” *npc* “You want this guy to help you. You playing him?” Brow was thoughtful, avoiding the question. “Maybe you can talk to some people and feel them out, the next time you come through we’ll go up there and I’ll say my apologies and we can get them working with us again.” He nodded slowly, eyes flicking up as Ryan came back. Her focus was on her “tenant” as he sat at the table. Before, the stress of watching him work was always tight; the ‘what ifs’ of every situation had her on high alert. Now, she just liked watching him work. Vigilance in the situation was absolutely revered, but she’d come to trust his methods. He was also enjoyable to watch. “Chris, you asked who I am, so I will tell you. Rorye has enlisted my service because I am the best at what I do. I am not a tomb raider, an explorer, or a dealer. No, I am the man they call to clean up messes. I am the man that hurts people… the man that kills people… I am the man you never want to meet… and I assure you I am not someone you want to lie to.” Chris’ eyes flicked to her. “I am telling you this because we are going to ask you some questions, and I want you to understand there will be consequences if I feel you are being dishonest in your answers. Answer truthfully, and you will leave with your normal fee plus a little extra. Do we have an understanding?” The older man cocked a brow at the agent, then glared at her. She knew he could give a piss about Ryan, the guy had been shot so many times she’d stopped listening to his wild ass stories. The fact she had Ryan here was getting under his skin. The old bat was used to charming his way around her; he was not used to hitting a wall. She was calling his hand and staking her claim as the last man standing. *npc* “Is he for real?” She nodded once. *npc* “Well shit… “ He crossed his arms and leaned back in the chair. “If you want to keep selling, you’re going to answer his questions. You think it’s safer to operate a storefront than what you do. It isn’t. I can’t skip town and hide when people get pissed at me. You can get up and leave but if you want a place to keep selling, you gotta help me stabilize this Remy mess Chris. Answer his questions. It’s a fair offer.” Hands stayed crossed over his broad chest, glare at her again quick before going back to Ryan. *npc* “If my girl trusts you, then I'll hear you out. What do you want to know?” Her smile was genuine, taking another drink of her coffee. Thumb lingered on her lower lip as she watched the show, looking forward to seeing chips fall into place with information Ryan needed and could use; more anxious to get the older colleague out of her house. She apparently had heat to turn up because the place was a bit cold, and things to do on top of that.
  2. Rorye Shannon-Kearney

    Taking Inventory

    Chris was already reaching toward his belt as she warned him to be quiet, a trained instinct. The guy wasn’t stupid. He was more formidable than most gave him credit for. Going out into the “wild” always made people capable of surviving the worst. Problem was, he wasn’t in his element, and he got too comfortable with that fact all the time. He set foot on concrete in a place with electricity and he became an annoying ass. Chris’ hand had wandered to his own weapon at his belt. She looked at the dusty relic hunter’s hand and shook her head as she told him to shut up one last time. The metallic “click” behind her sparked a jump in her heartbeat… and not in a bad way. “I wouldn’t,” she said quietly to her longtime supplier, looking at his hand, then casting a glance over her shoulder. She wasn’t disappointed, an odd sensation washing over her. Safety... among other more private thoughts. Eyes softened, concerned. He didn’t need this shit right now. She’d not seen him in action, but being between the two made the room electric. A shiver glittered down her spine, tickling over her skin. She hoped she wouldn’t see in for the first time in her kitchen. “Stay in the chair, keep your hands on the table, and we’ll be just fine” Chris looked to her for verification. “I told you so, you big dumb ox,” she wasn’t pleased as she chastised the supplier quietly. His hand moved back to his coffee, other on the table as instructed. Clearly he was cautious, but not afraid. “You think after Remy’s the rest of us wouldn’t be careful?” Us. She was starting to paint a picture of and for him. Thus far, Ryan had not been exposed to big players. Runners, errand boys, delivery personnel. Never an actual supplier. She was the heart, but this guy was the blood. “I wasn’t aware we were expecting company, who’s this?” *npc* “Yah, same fucking question to you,” Chris gulped down the rest of the coffee and clunked the cup on the tabletop, eyes flicking to Rorye. His fingers from both hands drummed on the table, brow cocked at her. “Look, I get we’re all on edge right now, we’re all off our schedules,” she turned and started making coffee, treating it like the most natural thing in the world. Ryan had to be seen as what she said he was, she was creating the buy-in. “Chris, how do we know you weren’t responsible for the shit at Remy’s? Maybe he should put a bullet in your ass. Did you sell Remy out?” *npc* “Whoah, wait! I didn’t do shit,” his hands went up finally, palms where they could see them. “Who is this?” “I called him in from the west coast after a few of my shipments went missing and things started going south. He’s done some good work for me out there. He’s staying in the other apartment until I can get things stabilized and your big dumb mouth almost got yourself shot,” it was almost elegant the way she could weave things together. She was absolutely a businesswoman, and a dangerously calculated one at that. “John is good people. He’s here to help us, bridge the gaps where our missing links are.” That was a huge risk, it would pay off. Being a hub had it's distinct advantages. She’d just placed him directly into the pipeline. If she could sell to Chris he was legit, he was in. It was also a point of no return. He would be forever in-the-know in her world and if anyone knew he was actively ARMA, everything she’d built would be destroyed. Her trust in him was now absolute, she hoped he knew that. *npc* “Can he handle it?” She glared at Chris, “did you seriously just ask me that?” Chris glared at him for a moment. *npc* “I hate him.” “That’s great, you hate everyone. John, this is Chris,” she picked up the supplier’s dusty bag, opening a closet near the door he’d come in and putting it in. Another pack was taken out and set at his feet. “Chris is the guy you’ve heard about. He’s the best.” She was moving business as usual, but the glance she sent in the agent’s direction held a myriad of information. ‘Please play along… listen for the right questions to ask.’ ‘This is an incredible opportunity in disguise to gather information…. and I’m sorry.’ Clients were sometimes something she couldn’t control, and he needed rest. He deserved it. “Chris has seen things I can only imagine having in my shop. Been places I’ve always wanted to go.” Chris crossed his arms arrogantly and leaned back in the chair. *npc* “And yet you still turn me down for a drink every time I come here.” “That’s because you’re still an asshole,” she poured him another cup of coffee and set it on the table, her foot stepping on the rung under his chair to force all four legs back on the floor. “And you think you own the place.” She poured one for Ryan even though he had a tray on his own kitchen table, and took it over to him, her back to her colleague as he clunked the rucksack on the table she’d just given him and started to go through it. Payment, and some other things. “I got this if you want to go,” she said quietly for only Ryan’s ears. All she wanted to do at that moment was just call it a day, slide under covers and not come out for a week. She just might. Dark eyes found his, fingers lingering on his chest a moment as she offered him the coffee, “or you could join us? Ask some questions. He won’t be here long and I don’t know when he’ll be back.”
  3. Rorye Shannon-Kearney

    Licking Wounds

    “I know” The comment was still echoing in her head as she stared at the Lure, sensing a lingering discomfort as they pushed on with business. She watched him pick it up, something else on the edge of her instinct scratching at her attention. He hadn’t shown any interest in the key, the books, nothing so far except for the coin in the car the night prior. Her ring. This Lure. The pieces didn’t fit together, and she’d accepted there were aspects of the whole case that he wasn’t telling her. She didn’t expect him to. When it mattered, she was hoping he would. As he placed it back down in the case, the unthinkable was ticking at her thoughts. Like a gawker at a car accident, the incredible urge to pick it up was real… just to, see. Faces she knew perhaps in their last moments had their hand on it. Cassandra had flashed in her consciousness when she touched the coin. Maybe touching this could shed light on… It was already in her hand, the small decorative cylinder rolling through her fingers as scrutiny had settled on the bandana in the box. She was thinking. “What is it?” Reactive blink broke the thought process when he spoke, his voice pulling her back from the edge of a decision. The scent of coffee, feel of the floor under her foot. His voice. The taste of black coffee still on her lips. The blue in his eyes as she glanced at them. Grounding. She’d done it instinctively. She could do this, but what kind of suffering was she inflicting on herself? A way forward was fresh in her emotions, and she was dragging up the past. Not knowing, was painful. Fingertips pulled one of the edges of the bandana back, a swizzle of silver chains tangled amongst themselves. Obviously Remy had been too lazy to untangle them, or just in a rush. Maybe he couldn’t and they were supposed to be like that. In any case, she had no idea what they were. Other corner was flipped back. They were just necklaces. A small clear organza bag was nestled underneath the dozen or so chains. Placing the Lure down finally, she slid the chains aside delicately and lifted the bag out, loosening the pull string and placing one of the contents on the table. It was a pearl slide with silver inlay in the bore hole. Weird. Silver necklaces and a bag of pearl slides that went on them was it. Seriously? “I have no idea what these are,” she said quietly. “Never seen or heard of anything like this.” Curiosity was getting the better of her, taking each out one at a time and placing them on the table. One was different. Pink. Rutilated. Other than that, nothing. All identical. Leaving them out for him to see, she picked up the one in a different hue, holding it up to the light. It was moving inside, like watching a time lapse of the sky at night, or water in a glass that had been spun with a spoon. Slowly rotating. She lifted another to the light, nothing. Opaque. “Huh. No idea. These need to get to ARMA headquarters asap,” she said quietly, putting the slides back in the tiny bag. “Then home for me. I have pretty much everything in the apartment or available at the shop for you. Food, everything.” She stood to repack the bag when he was finished looking at it. Hand picked up the Lure, closing her fingers around it as she placed it back in the box to close. The clink to her ring was minute, in her head it rang like a church bell, pictures flipping through her mind’s eye like a book whose pages were caught in a storm. Addictive and drowning, a magnet bent on pulling her attention below an inky surface. She let go and jerked her hand back, closing the box with her opposite fingers and blinking away the brightness that feathered on the edges of her vision. Shit. Faces floated in her memory, but none she knew. Relieved. “This is yours,” she pushed the box toward him. “I’m going to finish putting things away, we should go as soon as my clothes are dry.” Impatient, but also still feeling the uneasiness from him. She could put it to rest, unsure if it would make it worse or better. Books were slid back into the messenger bag, the little bits of notes and paper into the front zip flap for her to look at later when she had more of her resources to decipher some of Remy’s chicken scratch Latin. Retrieving the first aid materials from the night before, she knelt effortlessly to check his stitches. “You’ll live, sorry about the… scrape last night. I was a little preoccupied,” she smiled, standing and tousling his hair before leaving a lingering kiss on his lips and setting off to finish cleaning up. Okay... she was trying to make it better? “Have to check it again later..." Her last comment was under her breath, maybe he heard, maybe he didn't. In any case, she needed to get home.
  4. Rorye Shannon-Kearney

    Taking Inventory

    “It was for somebody,” Soft smile led to a playful quirk of her brow. With as tired as he was, she was amazed his humor was still intact, smile a little less amused when he was apparently sharp enough to keep pressing the Nina issue. Nina was a force, she may not have had the power to make decisions in the shop as a whole, but she could make it uncomfortable for anyone she felt disrupted the clockwork. Rorye tolerated it because she was almost always right. There was a relationship between them that ran deeper than just being protective of the shop owner’s home. Every person, no matter how much of a fighter, hits their wall. The diminutive woman had put Rorye back on her feet to keep fighting after the unthinkable happened. She was a rock. “Call it a hunch” “Of course. Be careful, she bites,” humor lingered in her words as she again steered him toward self-care. The fight to wrestle him into his apartment and to rest was a push and pull in full swing. “Well, I definitely like the sound of you pinning me down, But, I won’t be able to enjoy that, or anything else until I know what’s going on with you.” “If you can’t enjoy that, then apparently I need to up my game,” or game at all. She’d given him his space as promised, falling back into the regular routine of the business. Items were funneling to her as expected, skittish clients coming in on the down low as she worked with and reassured them. She’d seen the agent mostly in passing, silent communication carrying electricity that was difficult to put aside for the sake of so much as they kept to their respective studios on the second floor. It’s not that she didn’t want to; her promise of putting the mission first was taken to heart. People died when you got distracted. The quiet moment was rare of late, fingers lingering to caress the back of his neck for not nearly as long as she wanted to. Nina issue. Right. No more stalling, straight into the business of the day. She didn’t want to ask this of him. There was no doubt he would do what was necessary. It would be poetic justice that this building would be destroyed after it almost destroyed her. Fitting. Her discomfort with the vault hadn’t waned; she would have been worried if it didn’t. His reaction was not expected, embrace from behind welcomed during a minute of severity. Rigid at first, her stance relaxed, hands sliding over his arms as they held her. Distracted, this is what they couldn’t afford, right? Soft sigh as his chin leaned on her shoulder turned her face to him, nuzzle almost becoming something more. Almost. “Yes, for you, I will.” She turned completely around, seriousness set on her features. “You can’t hesitate,” words were quiet. It more than hinted at the items that were kept there. “No matter what,” she added. He needed rest; this was why she had intended to wait before putting this on his shoulders. The nudge toward his apartment seemed to finally be heeded. “Now, I’m going to go upstairs and take a quick shower” Expression echoed his switch to a lighter mood, though a decidedly melancholy look lingered on her features. “Then, I think you mentioning something about pinning me down? I think I’ll take you up on that offer. You, sex, food, rest… in that order.” Laugh was light, eyes finally brightening from the burden of business. “You’ll be asleep by the time I bring you up something to eat,” she paused. “Let me rephrase that… you should be asleep by the time I bring up some things. I’ll get your stitches when you wake up.” Kiss on her cheek was leaned into, refusing for a moment to let go so he could leave. Nina’s planted doubt had kept her from moving forward from that first night, she wasn’t sure if it bothered him. A lot of terrifying things were said in that short period of time in his bathroom. Maybe it was best for both until this mess blew over. It didn’t feel like the best decision though, because she didn’t want it to be. All the more reason to leave him to his work for now. Distractions got people killed… she had to keep telling herself that. She watched him move upward, and then set to work at least righting everything in some semblance of order in the basement. It was a mess, but a quick one to at least tidy and get on with her day. Vault was closed with a heavy push, levers spun to lock up her secrets and head upstairs. The manager of the shop had only intended to speak with Rorye again, absolutely hearing the depth of the conversation below. The older woman had waited, and would have been polite and not said a word to him… arms crossed as he stopped. Tucking a lock of bobbed silver hair behind her ear, she was already readied. “I know you think I’m a bad guy, But there are some really bad people coming for her… I am here to protect her, and I will do whatever it takes to keep her safe.” *npc* “There have always been bad people coming for her. It’s my job to make sure they’re not masquerading as a friend.” “You might not want me in her life, but there aren’t exactly a bunch of heroes lining up to take this fight. So right now, I’m all she’s got.” *npc* “For right now... Right now doesn't sound like you'll be here long. Does she know that... John?” She was clearly not buying him or his concern, deadpan delivery caustic. “Just take it easy on her.” Scowl answered. It was several moments before Rorye came up, sliding the moving shelves back into place and locking down the floor and ceiling anchors for safety so they didn’t shift when patrons were using the books. There were no looks exchanged between her and her manager as she left the library to trot up the steps into the tea shop kitchen, Nina following. “Don’t,” Rorye said simply to keep the woman from talking to her. Nina opened her mouth to speak, silenced by the dark eyes that flicked to her as she was pulling together something to take upstairs. “I can’t explain everything Nina, and sometimes the less you know the safer you are. I love you, you know that, but you have to trust me.” She nodded, conceding for the time being as Rorye picked up the polished wooden tea tray and made her way to her own apartment stairs at the back of the kitchen. Gloom from the overcast morning outside still managed to make the eclectic shades of white warm as she stepped onto the top landing and walked quietly to the far end; balancing the tray on one hand and keying open the kitchen door to the back apartment. Shower was still running. Setting the tray on his kitchen table, maybe she could actually manage to get his stitches out. She’d acquired more supplies, on her kitchen counter with the intent to bring them to him. Closing the door behind her, the walk across the landing to her own slowed. Someone was knocking on her rear patio entrance, it was a business entrance, and not one used often in the winter because it was well… winter. Predictably, the clients that had intended to return to check in about the magus blood never came by again. Others stopped by at their regular times as normal. This was not a regular time. Pausing in the hall, she peered around the corner into her kitchen, fingers reaching to the small of her back to wrap around a weapon. Soft knocking continued, more insistent. Crossing the kitchen, she shifted the curtain aside slightly on the patio door to peer out. What the hell? She unlocked it smoothly, opening to a wall of cold air as a very intent, tall and bulky man slipped in the door with more agility than he should have had. “What the hell are you doing here Chris?” *npc* “You’re closed still, I thought I’d check here. Couldn’t wait.” He was gruff, pushing mid-forties with silver in his temples. The man was always days from being clean shaven, wide-ranging choice of clothing because he never stayed in any place long enough to care. He was a hunter in her world, courier, runner, the Indian Jones of her pipeline, and a bit of a dick. They always seemed to be. "That's because it's not time to open yet." *npc* “What the fuck is going on? I can’t find anyone.” The man helped himself to the cold coffee in her coffee pot, either taking the liberty or because he had been there before. Obviously both. *npc* “Came to see if Remy’s was a hole in the ground like I’d heard, and sure enough. You have some explaining to do because he was my biggest buyer. Where the fuck is everyone, I can’t unload anything.” She crossed her arms and leaned on the counter. This was not going to end well. “That’s why you need a phone, we’ve had this conversation. Just... sit. Shut up and listen,” voice was low, annoyed. *npc* “Phones don't work in the middle of nowhere. I don't have time to sit, I need to unload this for safe keeping.” Worn rucksack dropped on the floor with a clunk. She winced. Shit. "Just, sit and be quiet a moment." *npc* "Why?" he sat at her kitchen table with his cold mug of coffee. "You usually don't want me to stay." This was shaping up to be a disaster. “Because you’re not supposed to be here right now. You're going to have a gun pointed at your head in less than a minute... if you don’t already."
  5. Rorye Shannon-Kearney

    Taking Inventory

    “I’m fine. Talk to her about what?” Eyes narrowed a bit, expression still amiable. Answer was quick to dismiss her concern and jump into the issue with Nina. That’s not how this worked. Her employees were her problem, unless they’d been outwardly rude to him. Up to this point she was going to leave it alone, things had been fine. Clearly, now she would have to address it. “You are not fine,” she picked up his hand and turned the bloody knuckles toward her. “Hard day at the office?” “She doesn’t like me, does she?” Damn it. “What makes you think that?” she shook her head slightly, smile light on her lips. She pulled herself to her feet as she tried to get him to forget the whole thing and head upstairs. He really did need to get some sleep. Fatigue nicked focus. The last thing they both needed was him not focused when he went out on his ‘adventures’. “Uh-uh.” She laughed; it was rare. Rorye had a rather dark and mischievous sense of humor, the soft laughter of pure amusement was melodic in comparison “I’m not letting you off the hook that easy.” “Scold me again and you’re going to lose your finger,” she teased, hands pulled from her pockets to rest on his shoulders a moment before her hands slid up to his cheeks to draw her thumbs gently over the circles under his eyes. “It can wait. You. Food. Shower. Rest. In that order.” “Rorye, I know it takes a whole lot more than just ‘tension’ to make you this upset. So, why don’t you tell me what’s going on?” “What’s making me upset is that you’re this tired,” voice was low. “…and that you’re not getting that hand wrapped. I need to pin you down today and take your stitches out too, though I think I could do that while you were sleeping and you’d never notice.” So much more was twisted with the Nina issue, looking back to the concerned blue eyes that seemed to be able to tug anything from her. It was a sadness that only Nina knew about, the mother-figure had a right to be critical of anyone Rorye spent time with. Fingers slid to linger on the back of his neck, forehead against his as she simply played with the shorn hair at the nape of his neck. She loved that feeling, always felt like velvet, especially after a fresh haircut. She rolled through the right words with her eyes closed, a slow breath before drawing back to survey the room. Nothing in the room had changed in ten years, except her. “Nina trusts me to run this business the way it needs to be run. She is immensely protective of me though in my personal life, you being here put her on point. Then I opened the door to the basement this morning and she lost it.” Her tone of voice was different, anger, fear, sorrow, all twisted into very business-like delivery. There was more, and she wasn’t going to go into it further. Maybe in time. Hands were on his at her hips for a moment, then let go as she turned and started to spin the dial. “This is the heart of everything. I was going to wait until things had settled to show you, and it took time to find someone to reset the lock.” A series of clicks sprung in rapid succession and she turned the door lever with some strength and pulled. The gorgeous Victorian door was a work of art as it opened slowly with oiled immense mass. Room inside was small, no more than ten foot square. A polished antique round table was in the center with two equally ornate chairs. The sides of the room were filled with safety deposit boxes from floor to ceiling, locks all in an open position. He was free to look in them as he pleased. On the far wall opposite the main door was another; much smaller with a doorknob. A smaller combination lock released the door and a key lock unlocked the doorknob. She slid Remy’s key from her pocket and placed it on the table. “It’s not engaged yet, when it is I’ll hang it on a hook next to the door like Remy had it,” she said quietly. “Some of these are filled with items I don’t put on the floor. Past that door are items I don’t release, ever. Combination is eleven, fourteen, ten. It opens both doors.” Hands slid into her pockets, letting him take everything in. The room was obviously ‘battle bruised’, several of the lower safety deposit boxes buckled and gouged. Some were missing entirely. She’d repaired the table and chairs a long time ago. “Remy was my fall-out plan. I was his. I need someone to take his place. I don’t entirely trust these things would be safer with Pharos, or ARMA, so they’re here until I can figure out what to do with them. You’re the only other besides Nina that knows they’re here. Which is why she was angry. I explained to her Remy was gone, but she still thinks you’re using me to get to this.” Gaze lingered on the back door before turning to him. “There’s a code for the door behind the bookcase up the stairs too. I’ll give you that when the key is set.” Several steps took her out of the vault, but she didn’t motion him to leave. She was claustrophobic, and that room had been the cause. That was why she didn’t like cars; vehicles were claustrophobic. At least the subway was open with windows when she needed to get somewhere. Bad things happened in that vault and the door beyond at the end of the world. Things that echoed beyond loss. “Can you do this for me?” request was soft.
  6. Rorye Shannon-Kearney

    Licking Wounds

    He’d tried to get her attention. Calmly. In the back of her mind that fact was held there, but for the moment her obstinate stance and frustration spilled out. As she said her peace and prepared in the bathroom to leave, silence was echoed in the rest of the apartment. No raised voices. Nothing but quiet. Damn it… Unfortunately the morning had taken an unfavorable turn, and it was her fault. She knew what she had to do. She knew what had to be done. Whatever role he saw himself as; the end goal was still inevitable. He was right, and she couldn’t do this by herself. What if last night she hadn’t left it alone and gone by herself? It would have been a disaster. Bloody. Sure, she would have put up a fight down to her bloody knuckles. In the end they would have taken the binding from her, taken her, and anything else that was Remy’s. Her place, her people, would be forfeit. He was right, and still she refused to do what she knew had to happen and stay until they had agreed on a plan for her to return home. Jeans in her hand, phone was picked up from her jacket on the floor to dial Lisa’s number with her thumb. She hesitated. She couldn’t push it. “Rorye please!” Holy hell! So intent on her internal struggle, he’d startled her. Number had been dialed, thumb was on the button. All she needed to do was press it. His hands on her shoulders, she lowered the phone to her side, clicking it shut and dropping it to the floor onto her coat. Jeans followed. “Look, I’ve never done this before.” She was confused, his pause so heavy it was painful. Done what before exactly…? Brow cocked slightly at him. “I don’t know what this connection is between us, but I do know I haven’t felt anything like this since before this entire God damn world went to shit.” Her expression wasn’t angry… it was unreadable. She couldn't believe what she was hearing. “Now, I promised you I wouldn’t die” Eyes watched his hand when he reached to touch her, but she didn’t pull back. “And I have no intention of breaking that promise” That was impossible to promise, she knew that. It was also impossible to promise someone you’d see them tomorrow or the day after. It was a way of acknowledging they understood they would be missed and would do everything in their power to return. He was determined to make his point about the fight ahead of them again, however gently, driving home the seriousness of the situation. The threat, was real. Fingers went up to her cheek to hold over his hand as her eyes shut, listening to him explain it once more. She didn’t want to hear it a second time, nevertheless she listened in silence. She had to trust him. “We have to place the mission first.” Nod was slow, taking a long breath before opening her eyes to look at him. She was being selfish and stubborn, but understood and agreed. “I promise I have no intention of being a martyr. If you’re mad at me, I understand. If you want to leave, I will take you home, but I hope you will stay…at least until we finish our coffee, and figure out what we got from Remy’s.” The space was appreciated as he moved back and her gaze fell to the cell on her coat... he’d put a crack in her view of things and her first instinct was impulsive, to leave and gain control. Her thoughts kept returning to what he’d said earlier. “I don’t want to leave here... this... and that scares me,” she said finally, almost inaudible, leaving the seriousness of the mission settled and agreed upon for now and returning to his first words. Simple phrase held so many meanings, one of which was a cryptic response to his confession. This. This morning. This place in time they'd so easily slid into. She wanted this, and it was terrifying how fast it had happened. No matter what they wanted, he was right again, they still had work to do. The momentary respite they’d been given to even figure out that much had to be put on hold, for now. “Ryan I’m not angry at you. Just, know that.” Look up to him was tentative as she picked up her things to begin to set the morning back on track. Phone returned to her coat pocket, she laid it on the sink. Jeans on the towel hook, boots next to the sink. She picked up the folded tee shirt and pulled it back over her head, arms inside to work her magic and pull the damp cami out as her arms went through the sleeves. Getting dressed without getting undressed was a talent. It was hung up with her jeans. She stood there a moment, the silent agreement of everything that had to happen settling in. Hands reached to take his loosely, leaning in to allow her cheek to linger against his as she just simply paused before leading him back out to the kitchen. Taking care of her plate and clearing the table, she put a refresher on both their coffees and slid the bag toward her chair on the same side as his as she sat. Fingers tapped on the worn messenger bag a moment. "He was a packrat... he had a lot, but very few heavy hitter pieces were kept. If he kept it in this box, it was dangerous." She flipped up the front flap, sliding out the two spell books. "These I gave him. The incantation that goes with the key relic is in this one," she slid it toward him. Chest was still heavy with the conversation just moments earlier, cheeks blushed at the implications. Business. It was time for business. "It can be reset anywhere." It would be reset in her basement vault, and he would be instructed how set it off. A conversation for later. She checked all the zipper pockets, nothing but scraps of paper with odd notes, they were set aside and kept. She'd try to decipher them later. The wooden box was slid out. Polished, nondescript. A small latch snapped and she lifted the lid. "Oh my god," was all she said at first. The silver cylinder was smooth, but engraved ornately and small enough to fit in her hand. Lifting it out with her fingertips, she avoided contact with her binding ring. Colored glass peeked out from cut-work in the silver, a small switch at the bottom that flicked open three razor sharp prongs. "I always thought stories of these were bullshit." The prongs were pulled back in and she placed it on the table for him to look at, leaning back in her chair. "That's a Lure. From the color of the glass, it's most likely a mana Lure. Epithet is on the side, worn off a bit, looks like Latin," lips pursed. "Engaged, from what I understand, that will draw mana toward it from a hundred foot radius and hold it. Turn it on, attach it to something, any magus in the area are essentially defenseless. I've never seen one before. Damn." Glance to him was concerned, almost afraid to see what else was in the box, the next piece wrapped in an old bandana...
  7. Rorye Shannon-Kearney

    Licking Wounds

    “Just one day together and you’re already asking me to move in. I suppose tomorrow I’ll have to propose" “You’ll have your own space and you’ll need to stay in it with your dusty self,” she quipped back with a smirk as she retrieved things in the kitchen. “You wander into my loft with your gear and steal my toothbrush we’re gonna have words. I hear Vegas is a shithole now anyway,” she added, tone laced with playful sarcasm as she returned. Maybe she was just thinking slowly, maybe he was just fast, or she was losing time… attention snapped to him when he offered to take her plate. She hadn’t eaten nearly as much as she should and she considered giving it up before he spoke. “Just kidding, take your time.” Nod was slight as she continued walking him through a few need-to-knows. “My wards were specifically designed to prevent possession from a foreign energy like yours. Maybe that’s why it reacts to them. We’ll have to experiment a bit.” Lips quirked; now she was just pushing around food. Years ago, she was eager to talk about the extra “ability” that she tapped into. It was exhilarating and seductive at first. Over time she’d developed a healthy and respectful fear of it, considering at one point to try and separate herself from the thing. Realizing only later that to find someone to do it, she would have to relinquish control and it was safer for everyone if she remained under the radar. Experimenting was not to be taken lightly. Attention went from the hand on her knee to him as he spoke. Making the world a safer place? That was not her mission, not at first anyway. After seeing all the dumb shit people were getting themselves into, she had become more discerning who she sold the fun toys to just to make sure they were alive enough to come back. “You play an important role in our world, and the magical conduit you represent, is also something we can’t let fall into these people’s hands.” She didn’t like where this was going, plate was placed on the table. It was her turn to cross her arms over her chest. “Now me. I am just one Soldier. A relic from wars ended years ago. If I disappear tomorrow, there will be no void to fill. I will not be missed, and if another war comes, another Soldier will step up to take my place.” Lips pursed, gaze shifting to her jacket hanging on the wall. Jaw set, she wasn’t going to listen to any more. He was talking complete bullshit. “If things do go sideways, and you’re captured. You bargain, and you lie, and you give them just enough breadcrumbs to stay alive. I promise I will come for you. But if it comes down to me and you. You don’t bargain, you don’t put any of that at risk… You just let me go.” Let him go? As in leave him to die? Give him up to save her own skin? Eyes flicked back to him, expression on her features openly angry. It was there on display for the first time; in the darkened pupils that seemed to engulf the amber of her eyes lingered power. Weight. Anger. The fire that the mage that tried to kill her had seen. “I said there would be conditions, And this one isn’t up for debate.” She said nothing as he stood. Bastard. "Now that we’ve settled that, what do you say we take a look at the goodies we got from Remy’s last night?" His last sentence barely reached her ears, disregarding it before the temper licked into her words. Her voice didn’t even rise... level, quiet and controlled. “Then there is no deal. I will not agree to anything that forfeits anyone’s life for mine,” voice held power, the smoky gentleness toned to a commanding presence as she stood. “I have never, and will never leave anyone behind.” Hands at her sides in an unwavering and spirited posture, she delivered her words tersely “You have no idea what I’ve faced. I’m not this naïve delicate flower that will let someone sacrifice themselves when I can stop it.” She had seen and done the unthinkable to protect those around her. She would do it again without second thought. Eyes narrowed for a sheer second at him, then released. Expression unreadable, silent footsteps took her to her coat to grab it and her other things. Long strides began to make their way to his bathroom, stopping at the table to deliver more words with lethal resolve. “You think I would waste my time with someone that didn’t matter? If you weren’t important, I wouldn’t be here. I would have told you to go fuck yourself last night at the shop,” fingers tightened on her jacket, the groan of the leather creaking. “If you are so comfortable with your death, then why do you fight so hard?” It was a question, delivered as a statement not intended to be answered. “Our dying world doesn’t need any more martyrs, it needs people that can lead. It needs you.” She let it hang in silence, and with that she was in the bathroom. Fuck. FUCK. She was done here. Her clothes were still damp. It didn’t matter; all she had to do was get to the subway drop. As far as she could tell from where the skyline was, there were no transfers. She could call Nina to get her, but she would never hear the end of it. Jesse was in classes all day until four. Lisa. She could call Lisa. Walk to the subway drop and meet her there. Tee shirt was pulled off and folded on the sink, damp cami replacing it as she pawed through her coat to pull out her cell, finding her hair tie. Things were dropped on the floor as she bundled up her cascade of mahogany into a loose bun and began to set her sheaths on the sink counter, grabbing her damp jeans. These were gonna suck...
  8. Rorye Shannon-Kearney

    Taking Inventory

    The heels of her hands kneaded her forehead, trying to relax the frustration there, body jumping slightly when feet hit the floor at the base of the stairs. Chest stung in fluttered panic for a mere second, hands almost seeking out her belt for karambits she had been wearing virtually around the clock for several weeks. Silhouette and weapons were his tell, relieved exhale as fingertips rubbed the last of the incensed moisture from her lashes. Shit. He wasn’t supposed to know this place existed yet. Damn. She made no effort to get up. Her argument, no… being scolded by Nina was an exchange she really wished he hadn’t heard either. Old wounds hadn’t healed with time and she didn’t want him to know; unaware he really hadn’t heard a word. Palms drew over her face as he came over, gaze avoiding his as she surveyed the mess. It would take all of ten minutes to clean up; point was it had happened in the first place. Nina hit a nerve, putting all her doubts over the last several weeks to the forefront, exploiting that splinter of suspicion the mother figure knew Rorye was still struggling with. All the worry, the bottled fear, the stress of the façade to make everything business as usual had cracked her open for a moment away from the eyes that depended on her. Her stoicism on the home front made everyone she worked with feel safe, comfortable. It couldn’t be dropped. She was the rock. When the shop closed, lights turned off, and everyone left she could be alone with her frustration. When she was alone was when she was allowed to break down occasionally. She just hadn’t expected an audience to the aftermath this time. His presence filling the space around her was welcomed, resisting the urge to reach out and hold him there. She could smell blood, which could have been his or someone else’s. He could be wounded. What she needed, wanted or was dealing with was not top priority at the moment. “Hey gorgeous” She forced a smile to push away what was left of her frustration, relaxing to genuine happiness to see him. She shrugged off the argument and finally looked away from the disheveled boxes up at his blue devils. He was so damn tired. “Hey soldier…” it was almost inaudible. She’d tried to use his name as little as possible given the circumstances, and well, John just felt weird. This one had stuck as a casual term of endearment. Ryan, was an intimate word in her eyes. It was a privilege to know, so she saved it for only the most quiet of times. “Heard that huh? Nina means well, she just doesn’t know you.” “What’s wrong?” Wait, what? Shit. “Just, tension and the lack of a good available punching bag. It’s fine, I’ll talk to her. You’re exhausted,” and she needed to get him out of the basement. She wasn’t trying to hide it; she just didn’t want him down there yet. No. She was definitely trying to hide it. “Head upstairs, I’ll be up in a minute and bring you something from the coffee shop,” she took his hand, holding it to her cheek a moment before she pushed herself up. Dusting herself off, hands slid into her back pockets, not moving from between him and the vault door. “I’ll clean this up later.”
  9. Rorye Shannon-Kearney

    Licking Wounds

    As soon as his arms folded, she thought she’d lost him. He was listening, but he was also thinking to himself. A lot. She could see it as she told him they were probably going to try and kill her. “I won’t let that happen…” Lower lip was rolled through her teeth, chewing gently at what was once the split. She didn’t know what to say. His tone had been, different. Rorye stopped speaking for a moment, the deprivation of any response from him except the one comment was disorienting; his normal calculated wit eerily quiet. When people were upset in this way, she’d learned they needed silence in return. No arguing, no pushing, no judgement, no demands. Silence and human contact… so she did what she knew. Temple pressed against his after she’d finished saying her peace. She wanted to believe she could trust him, the nagging feeling this still may be a play was gnawing at her. It wouldn’t be the first time, it wouldn’t be the last. If his concern was feigned, he was the best player she’d ever seen. Please say something… It felt like hours before he even responded. His reaction to bring her around brought a slight tense to her muscles at first. She wasn’t used to gentle response when she held her ground. The man that pointed at her in frustration the day before was what she was used to volleying back against. This almost felt, staged… most men didn’t know how to respond to her other than to buck back with aggression or disrespect. She could handle both. This quiet contemplation was strange to her. Eyes narrowed slightly as she sat, fingers tightening in his absently as he brought them to his lips. It didn’t feel like a play, but her brain screamed that it was. “Fine, but there will be conditions, and I will most definitely need more convincing.” “Smartass,” she smirked back at him. There he was. “There is something I have to tell you first…” Lashes snapped low, a muscle twitching in her neck. There was that other dropping shoe she’d been waiting for. Cloak, she’d pegged that pretty quickly. The autonomy word, she didn’t like. Not that she would ever go to ARMA anymore for help, now it was certain she never could. Hell, she didn’t even know if he was ever supposed to be at her shop. Shit. Was he? Was he a fucking rogue? It also didn’t surprise her in the slightest that the Order might be behind the entire clusterfuck. They were always dicks when they came into the shop. Except Trystan. He’d been a gentleman. There was always something under the surface with them though. Every. Damn. Time. The motion of his thumb on her knuckles brought her thought process back into focus. “Their goal isn’t entirely known, but I wager they are trying to pit the major factions against each other. Weaponizing magus blood in order to build an army capable of challenging those maintaining peace.” “Who am I talking to in there?” The memory of the magus’ voice slithered up from the base of her skull into the forefront at his words; weaponizing magus blood. That was a one and done way to go, they had to find a way to make it last. They were trying to find a spark, searching far and wide for something that could do it. Did they know about her spark? There were only three people that knew. One was dead, the other was a dragon and it was unlikely anyone made a dragon disclose anything they didn’t want to, and one other. He needed to be paid a visit to see who he’d spilled his guts to. If only the magus at Remy’s knew about her, it was dead with him. Somehow she knew that wasn’t the case. It was her turn to be silent, breathing had almost slowed to nothing, listening and worrying at the same time. His eyes had wandered toward a far spot, but she found them again when they returned. It didn’t surprise her in the slightest that he was fighting his own fight. In any case, lungs finally found the coordination to let out a breath when he leaned back. She was in trouble, and not the way he thought. “So if I am right, and I call in ARMA to help us. They will inform the Order of most the pertinent details before I can prove enough to keep them quiet. Once the Order discovers the investigation and pieces together the key players… They will cover their tracks, and neither of us will survive the night.” She would survive. They weren’t going to kill her; they were going to do something much worse. They could also torture him to get her to do it if they knew they were together in this. She wasn't going to let that happen. “I say all this to say, if we go into this fight. There isn’t any cavalry coming. It’s just you and me. At least until I can come up with enough proof to convince ARMA the Order is behind the attacks.” Fingers tightened on his as he brought them up to his lips again. She smiled softly despite the immense weight on both their shoulders. “If you really plan to show me your world, then I thought you should know a little more about mine.” His cards were on the table. There was no doubt everything wasn’t for her to see yet, but the outline was there. Hers, she’d offered but hadn’t yet disclosed. It was an incredible amount to tell her in such a short time when she’d essentially told him nothing other than she would tell him something. She had enough information at that moment to turn him over to the Order and end the ‘war’ and his life. This was not a joke. “You’re my cavalry,” expression was serious. Smooth sigh was drawn in and let out, reaching with her free hand to tame the small lock of hair on his temple that had caught her attention before dawn. “And I’m yours. It’s going take some time to explain it all, but you just have to trust me.” Easy smile brightened her features. It was all still soaking in. “We’ll win this. There is no other option. So it’s a deal then, good thing I just finished renovating the guest apartment.” The dealer was always working on something, next was the glass windows in the tea and coffee shop. She got up quietly to move to her side of the table, fingers lingering in his until she was too far away. She snagged the two glasses of whisky that had never been tended to the night before and set them on the table. They both needed it. Picking up her plate, she pulled out the chair next to him with her toe and sat down, turning it toward him. Tucking her foot under her thigh, her other swung gently as she picked up her fork. “It’s five o’clock somewhere,” she nodded toward the glasses. It was calm for a few moments as she focused on her plate, leaning back in her chair. Her stomach hurt, an empty stomach being fed did that sometimes. “Remy may have been an asshole, but he was a friend in his own way. I had nobody else but my shop life and him. Lost my husband, my family, lost Ali. Now Remy’s gone. It’s my shop crew and me, and you. I’m done losing.” Plate was put back on the table, fingers playing with the ring on her hand. The ‘training’ started now. “Other than collecting as many power items as they can to tip the scales in their favor, I think they’re probably looking for something to extend the life of the blood they take. Something that will hold it like a battery to use in their rituals,” she said, looking up at him. “I have something like that and they don’t know. Problem is,” she tapped her forehead with two fingers, “it’s up here.” Jaw set, thumb sliding the ring to the last knuckle of her finger without taking it off. She pushed it back down, turning it on her finger before holding it up for him to see. “You have your runes, I have this,” hand came back to her lap and she picked up her plate again. “The same ritual arcane magic they’re screwing around with banished something into a book. Ritual magic pulled it out, and because the spell book was destroyed it’s attached to me. This suppresses it, gives me a direct phone line to it when I need it. Engages my blades, allows me to see who’s touched a magical item. Seems particularly affected by your tattoos, pissed off even.” She chewed slowly, swallow light. It was an “it”, giving it a name gave it presence. It was just a spark of magic with residual memories, or so she told herself. She pushed her food around on her plate with her fork, pupils that were a bit too dark finding his as she looked up at him. “They’re not going to kill me. They’re going to use me to find relics. They’re going to poke at me until they can figure out why something ritual lasted this long in a non-mage… in a spell book of all things. It’s a spark they’re looking for.” It hung in the air for a moment. “So no, we don’t need a cavalry. If shit goes sideways I have a bargaining chip that will save both of us and buy us time because they would still have to crack it. It would be a last resort, and by that point it would be all or nothing anyway...” voice had become incredibly soft. "We'll win this."
  10. Rorye Shannon-Kearney

    Rorye Shannon-Kearney

  11. Rorye Shannon-Kearney

    Licking Wounds

    “I guess that makes me awfully special.” “I’ll let you know…” smile was soft, the comment even more so as everything that she’d easily taken out to create the food in front of him was just as skillfully put away. “Thank you.” She paused at the sink, her graceful perpetual motion still for a minute, gaze cast over her shoulder. “You’re welcome,” response was just as sincere. An unruly lock tucked behind her ear and she went back to clearing the counters, readying for the calm before the storm as he laid out his thoughts for a plan. Heaviness descended in her chest before he’d finished, knowing this was coming. She was not going to get shut in and let someone else fight her battles; she had to make him understand why. “That’s a bad idea.” The air in the room seemed suspended, an illusion of serenity filled with the weight of dissension. “Of course it’s a bad idea,” she agreed, returning to her tasks. She knew it was a bad idea. There weren’t many options. No options to be exact. She had to keep reminding herself he was an outsider; he didn’t know how her world worked under the surface. You couldn’t just walk away. They could smell fear, a wounded animal, and the repercussions of that were as horrible as facing an enemy head on. She would not hide, and she would not run. If she did, dead would be the least of her troubles for her and everyone else. Business had to continue as normal or else they would know she’d been involved in the destruction of Remy’s. “No one is asking you to run. Your shop isn’t fine, it’s just not under siege at the moment.” “My shop is always under siege,” the comment was definitive, but calm. “We are always being watched. Every moment of every day is a risk. What I do is dangerous, and everyone that works for me knows it. They can leave at any time and they choose to stay.” Her tone was matter-of-fact as she sat, hands on the mug to warm her fingers. He didn't know Jesse had almost been killed by a vampire, he didn't know about the fire... any of it. The face off at the table seemed to have begun, and it was more than just the issue at hand. She had to decide how much she wanted to tell, how deep to allow him into her domain. If he didn’t understand, he would make decisions based on the knowledge he had. She’d chided him the night before for doing it to her. He was a hammer, and her business required a finesse she wasn’t sure yet that he possessed. Fingertips reached to whisper across her forehead a moment as he spoke, circling her temple to slide down her neck. A budding headache was beginning, marks were sore and had started their bruising. “The only thing I am trying to keep them from getting their hands on is you. If they get to you, they will take everything you have. They will torture you until you break.” Nod was affirmative, she knew that. It was the tone of his voice that brought her eyes to him, he was worried. Why did that surprise her? Nobody ever worried about her, they leaned on her. His terse reaction to what she’d set in motion and told her network to do did not surprise her however. Muscles flicked in her cheek slightly as if the words were physical, she let him have his anger; it was a fair response. She knew it sounded asinine to someone who didn’t know her play. “You’ve got a sniper trying to put a bullet in you, and instead of taking cover, you’ve just painted a bullseye on your ass, and now you want to step out into a known killzone?” She was the one that sold the bullets. As far as they knew she had nothing to do with Remy’s. They would come at her the same as they did last night, with the appearance of a deal. Eyes blinked softly up at him as he continued. They couldn’t be on the defensive; all her clients, suppliers, contacts… everyone would hole up and disappear. Whoever this group was that continued to scoop up artifacts and anything else they could get their hands on would use the isolation to pick the little ones off one by one. There were two sides of the coin to this fight. She knew her side, he knew his. She had to convince him to let her do what she did best. Calm watched him make his case for a moment, finger again absently tracing the rim of her coffee cup to avoid eye contact. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to, she could hear the inflection in his voice and it was persuasive. His eyes would seal the deal, he had to hear her side too. “I just need you to stay off the grid for a couple days. Manage your business from my place, a hotel, a trusted friends place, anywhere but actually at the damn shop.” That wasn’t possible. “I told you before, I am the best at what I do. Give me a chance to do it... Please.” A look of worry had fallen over her features, contemplation. Eyes closed a moment, and then looked up at him. “Just, hear me out,” the soft timbre of her voice betrayed she’d taken in every word he’d said. She drew in a breath; did she really want to do this? If she let him tap into her knowledge, there was no turning back. ARMA would know everything. “I’m not a lone compound thirty miles past where the world ends. I live in a thriving community. When they come, they won’t come with bullets. They’ll try to buy the bullets from me, they suspect everything is going to come to me now. They will leave my outliers alone long enough to put their contingency plans in motion from the fire alarm I just pulled. They could try and pick them off, but it will draw attention and they are small players. It’s easier and more effective if they let me keep receiving it so they can get it all in one shot. That will take time.” She finished her coffee. “After that, yes… then they’ll probably try to kill me.” Foot slid to the floor, setting her coffee cup down as she leaned forward. “Last night I said I needed full disclosure from you so I would know what information to give you. I can’t return that favor with just conversation… you have to learn it, see faces and what they buy. How they talk. Who they are. I can't do that from off-site.” There was no turning back from this; she would be inseparable from ARMA. Drawing in another breath, she pushed herself up from the table and took her cup with her. She needed whisky in it, but settled for more black. Cup clinked on the table in her spot as she kept moving to stand behind him, fingers over his shoulders to caress her thumbs just under his ears. “I need to show you how it works, how it all works. Stay with me, above the shop, as long as you need to. I have rooms… separate entrances. Come and go as you please without anyone seeing you…" she paused, every betrayal warning bell screaming in her head that letting him in was a bad idea. There was no going back. "I’m going to show you everything.” Including her fallout plan. Remy was hers, he was gone. She needed someone that was strong enough to pull the trigger if it came to it. She leaned down to slide her arms around him from behind, temple against his, hands clasped on his chest. “I’m trusting my life on your word that you’re the best at what you do,” words were quiet in his ear. Her plan was sound and would take an immense amount of guts on both their part to pull off. She understood the gravity of the situation and it was evident in her voice, but she was also afraid... and doing a great job of hiding it. “Please say yes… or at least think about it for a bit because I’m starving and so are you.”
  12. Rorye Shannon-Kearney

    Licking Wounds

    It felt odd, yet comfortable. The ease of banter, tangled with the elephant in the room- on the table and the night before. “Why thank you. You’re so generous.” He seemed amused at the coffee quip. Last night at the shop felt like forever ago. The weariness was still in her bones, but her mind was clear enough to function. She kept her pace at the stove, there were other things to do than make breakfast. It was creating a great distraction at the moment to keep from talking about the obvious, or watching him as he surveyed what she’d been up to. He was so fucking distracting, eyes glancing at him briefly as she commented about letting him sleep. “After last night, I definitely needed it.” Oh fucking hell. Lip was chewed to avoid attracting attention to the obvious smirk that was on her features. “Looks like you’ve been busy this morning.” “Couldn’t sleep, working helps me think.” Couldn’t sleep was an understatement. Not allowed to sleep by her quirks, or woken from sleep would have been far more accurate. That had to be addressed this morning too, though she wasn’t quite sure how to do it yet. The coin. She needed to see if he had the coin on him or in the car. He was watching her. Sure, she was watched all the time. This was inherently different and made her incredibly self-conscious; there wasn't a professional facade to hide behind. The depth she had let him into her personal life in less than twenty four hours was substantial. A quick glance was cast in his direction right before he approached; long breath pulled in and let out when arms slid around her. Hands stopped what they were doing, that moment of standing still when the world was in chaos. Shoulders shivered slightly. “Do you have any idea how sexy you look right now?” “I was going to ask you the same thing,” the playful comment back was probably unexpected, maybe not. The nibble at her earlobe was met with an under her breath quip. “You do that again and I really hope your counters are as strong as they look.” She almost swatted him, almost, when he stole her coffee. Bacon was forgivable, coffee… not so much. “You don’t play fair, noted,” she smirked, watching him sit. She missed it. This. It had been a long time. “Breakfast smells amazing.” “It’s almost like… I do this for a living,” it was her turn to be a smart ass. “But you have to be awful special to get sole attention from the boss…” She slid the bag to the side on the table, then plated up everything, stealing her coffee back for a moment to finish it on her way to the kitchen to get the second round. A little bit of everything made a great spread. Coffee pot refreshed “his” coffee and she set it back on the table in front of him. “Go ahead, I just need to finish up,” she never left anything unattended in the kitchen and actually cleaned up the worst before ever sitting down to eat. Habit, good teaching by her father- he was the best cook she’d ever known. “So, after we eat, I’m thinking we should sit down and inventory the items collected from the warehouse.” Cooking utensils were rinsed off in the sink, listening quietly as she wiped the counters. Business. She didn’t want to deal with business after she’d been dealing with it all morning. It had to be done though. “After we see what we’ve got, I will go and check on your shop. I can grab you some clothes from your place, while you research Remy’s artifacts and warn your contacts. When I get back, we can come up with a game plan. What do you think?” “I’m going back to my shop,” was the only thing she said for a moment while she tidied up. She stopped finally, crossing her arms and leaning one hip on the counter. Was he expecting her to stay here? To hide? She knew what the dangers were. She’d lived them, over and over. What she did was dangerous, and she knew it. “I don’t run.” The expression on her features was serious, and fearless, pausing only long enough to make sure he truly heard her. “My contacts have been called, they’ve been given the plan. The shop is fine, I called them already.” She was deciding how much to divulge, sitting across from him with her cup of coffee and leaning back in the chair. One foot folded under her thigh, fingertip tracing the rim of the mug as she thought. “There is too much in that shop for me to not be there,” it was disclosing a lot. Remy’s was in plain sight if you could get into it. Hers, wasn’t. Her entire shop was a front for what she had hidden everywhere. She watched him a moment. “I won’t have them do to my people what they did to Remy. I’m not leaving them. If I run, it’s not business as usual. There is an order to things, a flow built on trust. A major player drops off the map and clients get nervous, try to purge their stock to stay off the radar. It becomes a buyer’s market- to anyone. Whatever you hoped you could keep them from getting their hands on, will be out in the open to get taken.” A drink of coffee, and a slice of bacon, then the bombshell. “I’ve told them to send it to me to hold. Nobody is taking on or selling to any new clients until I tell them. Anything they’re questionable about, they’re sending to me. It’s all funneling to my shop now.” Fingers tapped on the table softly, reaching to pull the blanket of mahogany waves on her shoulders to one side. There was no fear in her voice, or her expression. She knew what she had to do, she was pretty sure he was probably not going to like it.
  13. Rorye Shannon-Kearney

    Taking Inventory

    The damn pull string always made her jump, one of these days she would put a switch down in the "dungeon". For now, it was the beaded metal chain with a string long enough for her to reach. She had to search for it when it was darker in the mornings, the tickle on her hand as she found it always with visions of a giant spider above her head. A shadow loomed in the doorway behind her, the dealer turning sharply to peer back up the staircase as the light flicked on. It was Nina. Why in the hell? She didn't descend, Rorye wouldn't have advised it to the older woman even if she wanted to. The original stairs were wicked steep and the railing high. Nobody came down there but her, so there was no reason to fix anything to make it more accessible. The freight elevator at the back of the kitchen was still stuck, another thing she had to work on; the only other way to get to the basement. The old delivery system to the vault below was part of the bigger plan to ramp up a shelter area after the Blood Moon disaster, she just couldn't find a part for the pulley mechanism. Victorian for one thing, and it wasn't like the world was manufacturing much of anything anymore. "What's wrong?" Rorye's voice carried gently up from the sepia glow of the basement. She came up a few steps. There wasn't anyone in the shop yet, not open. Regulars in the tea house were involved in their own conversations, they would have never heard anything if she'd said something to her at the fireplace. Nina had nevertheless sought her out for a private conversation anyway. *npc* "I know what's happening here." Her hands slid into her jean pockets as she stood on the bottom step, looking toward the vault on the other side of the basement and then up to Nina. *npc* "...and yet YOU seem never to see it." Gaze fell on a step and focused there as she was "scolded". The woman, hell... all of them, were told only what they needed to know in order to function and stay safe. They were fine with it. They knew the procedure, so why was she being checked now? This went deeper than just "lock the shop when she had clients" worry. *npc* "You keep track of everyone else, but who keeps track of you?" "You?" she smiled. *npc* "While you're out doing what? Getting taken advantage of? Again?" That narrowed her eyes, the dealer was not amused. *npc* "Did you ever stop to think about HOW you got to the be the queen of the hill?" "Because you look after me," the playful humor was there, dry annoyance delivered instead. *npc* "Because things conveniently have happened to put you there. People conveniently keep showing up to help themselves to your hard work. Why can't you see that?" Oh hell no. Expression focused on the wall, then glared up at her for a split second before it softened. "Nobody is helping themselves to anything." *npc* "Oh? We have been with you since the beginning, no matter what. We get nothing from being here except you. We care about you. Thick and thin. And yet, you keep bending over backwards for people that don't care about you. What would Michael have thought?" Fucking christ. She stepped off the bottom step and disappeared toward the vault for a moment. Long breath oozed out, hands in her hips to calm the triggered anger. It was obvious she knew someone was upstairs with her. The woman was meticulous, and even a covert agent didn't slip past her unnoticed. The woman was amazing, but Rorye's patience had limits. She calmed herself, but didn't emerge where Nina could see her. That name drew the worst in her. Regret. Sorrow. Terror. "There are new containers for the tea stock in my work room that were delivered yesterday. They go on the top shelf." Her voice was calm, the "order" absolute. She didn't want to talk anymore. *npc* "Just stop it. I won't be ignored. What about Michael? Are you forgetting about him? Michael was here because he wanted to be here until it was impossible. There were no strings attached. He had everything to lose. Everything, everyone that has come after is trying just to survive, and they don't care who they screw over to do it." That wasn't even fucking true! She came back to the staircase, hands defiantly on her hips, looking up at the woman who'd been with her since the first day she opened her doors. She pointed at the woman. "Michael was here because he used me to piss off his parents by playing house with the girl who was everything his family wasn't. He didn't give a shit about me, he just used me." It came out more aggressive than she'd intended, accusatory. Hurt still by the revelation she discovered after his death. She wasn't educated enough, rich enough, connected enough. 'Beautiful', that's all his mother said she was. 'Just shut up and look beautiful', she'd said. Keeping her mouth shut was only one checkmark on the huge list of her failures for that family. *npc* "Then you're smart enough to know better." Nina's words were quiet. *npc* "Or at least I thought you were." Dark eyes stared at her, stomach dropping. She swallowed as the woman turned and walked back to the tea house. Box was kicked. Then another flipped, a compressed rage wreaking havoc for several seconds. Flat palms pounded on the door of the vault until the pain of an unyielding surface had blossomed enough agony to stop. Heel scraped as she turned her back to the vault and slid to sit on the floor. She didn't cry. She never cried... what the fuck then was the scalding hot moisture she was wiping from her lashes? Frustration. The thought of being inadequate, even after the world ended. Head leaned back against the steel, feet drawing up to prop her forearms on her knees, one last wipe of a trickle from the tip of her nose with the back of her hand. Her hands stung, vibrating from the abuse, reminding her of how hard she could hit. She'd been taught that, holding her own with men her age when she was in high school. Unafraid to take a hit with or without gloves. Live hard, for it all ends. Smile was soft, she could still hear her father's voice saying it, tangled with Nina's warning... and now her doubts.
  14. Rorye Shannon-Kearney

    Licking Wounds

    There was something in the dark, breathing across her skin with a gentle breeze. Tired eyes opened enough to lazily blink, the blur of lashes making the world dull at the edges. In the city, dark was never dark, and night still flickered with enough light to see when one’s eyes adjusted. The room filtered in gray hues, corners clearly visible, walls, ceiling, curtains and shadows. Beyond the window, dawn soon. Her hand was cold. Sliding it from Ryan’s chest and pulling her other beneath her, she pushed herself up quietly, waterfall of mahogany waves whispering against the blankets in a cascade. Leaning there on one arm, blanket was held against her chest, watching the room in silence. She could hear herself breathe, the blanket rustling with the rise and fall, the quiet almost… alive. Something had been moving in the room. Sliding off the foot of the bed silently, she retrieved her shirt and pulled it over her head, opening the bedroom door to peer out into the apartment. A step out, and the air was the same. Bathroom light had burned all night, kitchen on, glasses on the coffee table still anticipating being consumed. Front door locked. The bag on the table, was that it? Shit. Maybe? Her feet were cold, the air over the floor muffled and cool. Fingers were freezing, clasping them together to her lips to attempt to blow a quiet breath and warm them up, looking at the ring on her hand. The ring. She rubbed it absently, warming it up. It’d never done that before. His wards. Was it reacting to his wards? Wanting so much to test her theory, she really didn’t think it was a good idea. That was something he needed to be awake for. The key was an alternative. It was still in the bathroom. The coin. The key. A conversation that had brought so much to light over a year ago. The magus at Remy’s. Someone knew something she didn’t. Seeing Cass’ face when she touched the odd coin wasn’t a fluke. It was connected somehow. Her hand had spent probably hours near Harker’s warded tattoos, and something had stirred. Irritated perhaps, attracted? Curious? It was where she left it, innocuous without the incantation to set it as a catastrophic lock. She knew where to find the words, one of the books on the table had all sorts of fun in it. She’d gotten this thing for Remy, one of her first prized finds in the black market world. Now it was a big fucking experiment, picking it up. She hesitated. This wasn’t a good idea. Of course, she had the run on risky ideas in the last twenty four hours, what was one more? Key in her palm, she closed her hand around it. Heel of her free hand came instantly to her forehead, the sound chimed in her ears like a bell as the two pieces of metal came in contact. Flash seared through the front of her skull, hand slapping over her mouth to keep from crying out... don’t let go of it. Eyes crushed shut, sensation dizzying as colors moved faster in her mind’s eye. The flash again, it was the explosion, followed by too much stimuli to hold on for much longer. Faces. Voices, releasing it the moment she saw her own face. Not now, not yesterday but years ago. Explosive breath released, she held it at eye level, quick footsteps taking it to the kitchen table and putting it there. Hand was shaken out, the sensation like she’d smashed her fingers. Now she knew. The conversation she’d had over a year ago that they thought yielded nothing, had brought shit down on her doorstep. She could see who held the item. No, not her. HER. She needed to think, she could think when she worked, pawing through her coat pocket to pull out her cell phone. Nose crinkled, grime on her fingers from the leather. Damn it. Scrolling through the names and numbers as she washed off her hand, she set to work. Mass cleaning was nothing new to her, she worked quickly in the morning. It was her job after all. But, she was also half dressed. Phone in hand, thumb beeped the intended call off, extremely quiet as she retrieved her boxers from the darkness of the bedroom. “Ryan…?” she said softly. What she really wanted to do was slide back under the covers and wake him up her own way… when there was no response, lip was chewed a moment, no effort to suppress the burn on her cheeks from mischievous thoughts. She HAD to make a lot of sensitive calls, after what had happened last night there was no way around it. She would have to use the time she had while he was asleep. Yes, he was ARMA. Yes, she should be sharing this information. No, she wasn’t going to. The workings of things that ran under the surface of the known had a huge fucking hole blown into it the night before. If she didn’t rebuild the “roads”, the flow of items would be disrupted, and she would lose track of the directions items were moving. If the market flow collapsed, it was chaos. Chaos made it easy for those that wanted things they weren’t supposed to have to get them. They trusted her. They didn't know him. Maybe with time, but now wasn't it. She was about to become the major hub because it was necessary. Short work was made of the basics as the phone pressed to her ear with her shoulder. Hell, she could put out an entire stock of books while making calls. Clothes rinsed out, towels corralled. He had to have something around for laundry; no way he did what he did without having a way to clean things up. The mirrors had made her suspicious; she was a master at places to store things. There had to be some kind of something behind some of them but she wasn’t going to go about prying at them. Coffee. Blanket folded on the couch. Glasses and bottle picked up and on the counter. Food started. Leather and weapons cleaned and hung up. She even attempted to untangle his gear the best she could. People could be very particular about their weapons, so she left them laid out on the coffee table to clean and reset as he saw fit. She had been pulling her hair back the entire time, rarely wearing it down. There had been a hair tie around somewhere, lost somewhere in the bathroom, spending a few moments retracing her steps without success. Oh well. Nina had been called; there was no suspicion of anything. It wasn’t unusual for the arcane dealer to be out at a moment’s notice. The other calls weren’t so positive, in full business mode. All that was left was to finish food. “Runners are early.” Piece of bacon was popped between her teeth as she made short work of everything on the stovetop. She owned a café of sorts after all… “Didn’t you hear what I just said? It’s early because a stop is missing. Remy’s is off the map.” Expression darkened as she listened to the other caller. “Yah, he’s gone, I understand that Chris. I’m taking that risk.” Brows again furled, she shifted the phone to her other ear, pouring coffee. “No, I’m taking point. Why? Because they fucking tortured him. You check in with me every week. Yes, that’s what I’ve told everyone. You get something you think is hot, you call me. If you can get it to me safely I will hold it for you. Do NOT accept or take anything from new clients that you haven’t vetted with me. Why? Did you hear what I just told you? Remy, is gone. His place… it’s gone.” She left the stove for a moment, opening the fridge and disappearing behind the door to search for something. “He gave me up. Yah, I know… I didn’t believe it either. These guys are no joke, that’s why you need to check in with me. Okay. Bye. Chris... be careful.” “Good morning, gorgeous.” She froze a moment, peering up over the refrigerator door, brushing a lock of hair from her eyes. He'd startled her but, Jesus Christ, just looking at him did things to her… blush was immediate as she closed the door, cutting the call with a beep and tossing the phone on the counter. “Running a business is never a vacation,” she smiled, the excuse true but vague. “Coffee? It’s on the house.” She’d caught the throwback to the night before when he’d walked into her shop. “I let you sleep, you needed it.” She’d gone back to finishing breakfast at the stove-top, tucking a lock behind her ear. The tips of her ears were burning too. God damn it. “I didn’t know what you liked, so I made a little of everything.”
  15. Rorye Shannon-Kearney

    Licking Wounds

    “You have that effect on me” Eyes closed gently, soaking in the innocent brush on the tip of her nose, unsure why such a simple thing could completely disarm her ever-present fray. Being invincible and calm about it was draining. He’d managed to defuse even that. She refused to believe this was anything other than a fluke brought on by pressure, adrenaline, fear, risk… the need for something other than pain. His claim of being hard to kill pulled a small, frustrated sigh from her. What if she’d not been there, implications of her thought process unwelcome at this exact moment. She couldn’t seem to shake the guilt no matter what she did. “I didn’t” No, he hadn’t. This time. The other shoe would drop eventually; it was too good to be real. The kiss felt real enough, eyes searching azure for a reason to stop this before it went further. She could find none, so of course she didn’t trust it, and of course she didn’t act more on it. Suggestion he take his turn in the shower was twofold. They didn’t know what exactly the explosion had dropped on them; it was responsible and logical. Plus, his leg needed the rest of him to be clean so it didn’t get worse. It would need more after care than just slapping a bandage on it. The arcane dealer also needed time, a moment to process why this had become so tranquil while moving faster than she could ever imagine. It felt selfish and full of betrayal, knowing in her logical mind it wasn’t; still feeling like shit about it nonetheless. “Yes, ma’am” Features smiled, the expression gentle as she laughed slightly. When had she last laughed so much in one evening? She couldn’t remember. He was… well, captivating. “Challenge accepted, Oh! And help yourself to anything in the kitchen. I’ll be out in a minute,” Smile was bright after him, waiting until the first lively splash of water on the shower floor signaled he was occupied before she sank back to the chair, forearms on her knees. Fingers intertwined together several times impatiently, the expression fading as she stared toward the partially open door. Fidgeting, looking over the piled items on the table. The bottle. Okay. Away from the temptation of the things on the table. Glasses were picked up along with the bottle, face scrunching to scold herself after she looked at the bedroom door. Living room it was. Everything clinked on the coffee table and she sat on the couch, the same fidgeting. Glasses poured. She wasn’t hungry. So… waiting. Eyes glanced once more toward the bathroom door. Aw fuck it. Footsteps were quick toward the bathroom door, reaching to push it open, retreating at the last moment to turn on the ball of her foot and walk away just as hastily. Arms crossed and stride took her to it again, palm emerging with intent to open it. Nope. Hand rifled through her damp hair instead. Pacing with light footfalls betrayed her indecision, muddled by too many tangled thoughts and wants to straighten out in the time she was given. Time. That fucking word again. Air was drawn into her lungs in a large sigh, forcing her feet to stop moving. She touched the door lightly, intent to push it open… and do what exactly? Fingers remained there even as the water turned off. Gaze focused on the sliver of light that crept out from under the door. Stay afraid, but do it anyway. She didn’t retreat at first, listening to the movement inside and then deciding to go retrieve a blanket. Fuck! The darkness of his bedroom was welcomed, cooling the heat on her cheeks. There had been a blanket on the foot of his bed; she would need it to sleep on the couch. Acquired and tossed on the couch, she returned to the bathroom to wait patiently outside, leaning on the wall with her shoulder. All that busy work, for nothing. Well, not for nothing. It helped her think. Door opened, and he emerged. She was holding her breath, no shirt. Fucking hell. “So how about that drink?” “Poured,” she said quietly from behind him. “Wait a minute.” She wanted a chance to at least look at the arcane symbols before they were hidden away again, lifting the towel before sliding it off completely. Check of the stitches was the responsible thing to do, pressing the towel there a moment before turning her attention back to him. Glance asked quiet permission to touch the sigils, really not waiting as fingers explored them. They felt like braille. Hers did that sometimes after a hot shower or a lot of sun, but never like this. Both hands traced the skin as she tried to read what was there, fingers lingering on a scar. Fear and guilt were skittering in her stomach, screeching her thoughts to a halt. Yet again. Dammit. Fuck this! She leaned up without warning, hands still on his chest, and kissed him anyway. Not just an innocent caress, unhurried and deep, intent unquestionable. Breath a bit too fast, soft smile was delivered through half lowered lids, lips brushing his again as her hands slid up and around his shoulders. The ball was in his court. ***Before Dawn*** A rhythmic pulse welcomed her back to consciousness; it had been there for some time as she’d hovered in the time between times, the place where dreams touched a vague reality to tangle into something surreal. Soft sigh finally stirred, fingers of her right hand flexing on cool and soft sheets, dark lashes opening slightly. Left hand was warm next to her face, cheek resting on skin that rose and fell methodically. Every time he exhaled, muscle on his stomach would softly flicker to life and relax again. Lips pressed softly into a smile, men were stunning, shifting her gaze upward to watch him a moment. A short lock of hair on his temple that had dried in a mussed position teased at her to tame it. She left it alone, it was perfect. Mind was beginning to shake the heaviness of sleep. She was not on the couch, the intended place for her to end up for the night left empty. Instead, his massive bed was occupied by a tangle of blankets and their sleeping, exhausted and battle bruised, but tranquil presence. Kneejerk reaction was to freak out as she realized what they’d done. Of all the stupid, irresponsible… she fought the urge to toss the covers off, grab her things and leave. Panic was quelled, eyes closing to take a calming breath. She’d made a decision and she was fine with it, the stillness settling again in her thoughts. She'd decided. Eyes finally opened completely to silent darkness that held the glow of early morning, it was palpable. A growing luminosity from the sky still suppressed by the heaviness of night, it felt ethereal. She carefully untangled herself, hair smoothed over her shoulder, wrapping herself loosely in a sheet and padded toward the window to peer out. Snow flittered down from a cloudless sky, soft burn of pale gold on the horizon trying to lift the veil of darkness, lights of the city still twinkling. It was a selfish moment, personal and quiet, letting the curtain fall back into place before sliding back into bed and retaking her position, stealing a quick kiss on sleeping lips before settling back in and closing her eyes. Just a few more minutes before the heaviness of the world was allowed to rest on her shoulders again. Maybe more than a few.


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