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Its like this. The world and its variances. Sage was now almost sure she could function in New York. She achieved a flat of sorts, was working for one or two museums freelance, her background gave her glowing references, and once a month rather than be reaching for midol she was crawling into a building that would hold the pain and agony of becoming.... It's like this. She supposed there was a trade off. Menstruation had once been the bane of her existence to the point had there been a way to rip those offending ovaries out by their roots once a month she would have. But now that seemed nothing. Now she knew what true pain was. That comes wrapped up with the whole getting bit, and that messed up world far and away to the present messed up world. Which led to the brunette seeking what shades of normalcy she could because she had learned it helped balance those times she had no memories of, the times waking with bits of flesh and sinew sticking to her naked form. Normal. That was a word that really was so far out of the ball park for her. But normal she would do. So she had found a favored cafe, a bookstore she haunted and like all good responsible city dwellers, now she was hunting a fitness center. Long ago before things- she had gone twice a week, more because it helped clear her head. Running did that but she enjoyed that time just working out and working on her self. It was not that she needed it, her lifestyle forced her to keep in top shape, but the actions of the once normal life balanced out the other, and it helped ground her. That was extremely important to her. Grounding in her own thoughts. Though she no longer was a welcome addition to the Van, the whole infection thing had doomed her rising career to ashes, she still occasionally missed those she had become used to working with. Though most of the people she met were nice enough when they were not doing whatever they did on their own, she felt isolated to a degree that spoke of her own careening thoughts. Thus it meant physical action was needed. That was her go to for such times. Through chatter and research she had decided that her best course of action was merely to visit or explore them and make an informed decision. This also gave her an excuse to get to know her surroundings better and get out of the flat. The day was not too cool, but she had tugged a jacket over the loose cotton shirt and jeans before heading out. She had even watered the plant she had convinced herself to adopt. Responsibilities. Who knows, maybe she might get brave enough to buy a fish? ( probably not....cats and fish are not exactly warm and fuzzy buddies ) Sage reached to tuck a stray strand of hair back and push open the door, well the place seemed to be busy, that and the smells told her ( gotta love being able to smell sweat a mile away ) others were doing what she herself was looking for. Large eyes surveyed the entry way looking about for those in charge or whomever handled innocent queries from potential members. Membership, such a nice mundane word.
July 3, 2019. Ishsa wandered North of the Tree and North again, then West. Led by sighing leaves and the erratic floating of moths, the Fae needed not plans or purpose to guide her, only the union with nature mattered. The birds and rodents, and weeds were a part of her; all had a place in the Wood and in her heart. Sunset passed, golden-pink colors vanished as night progressed. For a considerable time, Ishsa rested upon a rock near a nameless creek bed and listened to the insects and frogs as they sang. She sat in darkness alone, stars muted and silent. This suited her, immersed as she was within the quiet and often deadly shadows of the Park. A cockroach scuttled across Ishsa’s foot and crawled beneath a fallen branch marked with the beginnings of decay. Indolently she watched it, unconcerned. But… there was something – something hidden beneath the shadow of branch. A roundish shape, like a lump… it did not belong there! If not for the beneficial insect, the Fae might not have noticed, for cockroaches, as a rule, liked to keep secrets to themselves. The lump was not alive, nor was it magic, buried as it was with brush and dry leaves. Ishsa watched it and the moon continued upon its path through the sky. Lazily, the bare toes of a foot reached out to tap it, softly as a ballerina might. But from her pokings, she could not discern the contents. It was a pack, left behind no doubt by a Traveler or a Visitor, though none were here now; she would have heard otherwise. Curiosity constricted the Fae’s thoughts in an ever tightening circle around her. Sliding to her knees, Ishsa leaned forward to sniff at the thing and then traced a finger along its length. From where it lied partially buried, dirt dusted to the ground. This was a new kind of Game, played silently and solitary. A purring rumble filled the little clearing. “Are you a lost and forgotten little thing?” she cooed, though the pack did not answer or deem to reply. “Fear not. Ishsa will free you from dreaded confinement.” Pulling it closer, her hands found the zipper. How long had it been since she had used one? She frowned mightily. Business suits. Casual Fridays with jeans. Bride-maid dresses. But this zipper was better than those. This was novelty. This one held an unknown prize within! Deliberately slow, as if to prolong much looked forward to pleasure, Ishsa pulled the tab and the bag opened, ready to divulge its treasures. Clap! Clap! Clap! Small hands clapped in unrestrained excitement. She bent low and her hair swung downwards to partially conceal the enchanted expression that lit her features. Inside, a neatly folded cloth met her fingers, and Ishsa pulled it free; it was a t-shirt. With both hands she brought it to her face and pressed it against her nose to inhale deeply. The odor was masculine and earthy, but faint from too long left alone. Running the fabric upon her cheek, the softness of cotton greeted her. But it could not hold her attention so she discarded it carelessly into the dirt near her. A pair of pants also fell at her knees before she then drew out a tennis shoe. It was clean, its laces tidy. She smelled this too, but was not rewarded with more than the barest of smells. Almost the Fae put her small foot inside one tennis shoe, but it was too large, so she tossed it and then its pair away from her. They landed near the creek forgotten. Bending forward again, her hands found a bottle of water, which she opened and brought to her lips to drink greedily. But the action was uneventful and the Ishsa moved onward to pick up a small box. She held it cupped in her hands tenderly, as if it were a hummingbird injured. Opening the lid, her nose wrinkled as she saw what it contained. Clinical and cold! It was a shot of some kind. Memories floated by. Alcohol swabbed onto a shoulder by a middle aged nurse that smelled of cigarettes. Hard tile floors and bars upon a bed when her appendix was removed. No! She would not remember those things! Quickly, Ishsa pushed memories and the box away from her as if they might contaminate everything, and it too fell unwanted onto the dirt. There was one item more. Greedy, her hand clasped around it and drew it out into her eyesight. This was treasure! The Fae could smell it already and her wings beat wildly at this fortune. Dizzy with want, Ishsa knew what manner of thing this was. Sugar! Viciously she ripped through the packaging and stuffed a portion into her mouth. Eyes fluttered closed as Ishsa held the food upon her tongue and tasted the sudden rush of sweetness. The treat melted upon her tongue and she licked each finger elegantly to not lose a drop of taste. But like an animal starved, she could not stop and ravenously worked to eat the rest.
[walker] 'How do you know I'm mad?' said Alice. 'You must be,' said the Cat, 'or you wouldn't have come here.'[/walker] Friday, March 22, 2019 Alec had been spread thin of late. There were so few ARMA magi who could do the work he could--who could traverse the mental landscape of the insane or the traumatized. Sometimes, new magi were forced into a situation where it truly was kill or be killed, and many of them could not handle the guilt of having taken a life. He imagined it was much like the trauma cops experienced on their jobs. With magic, however, the level of power one put into a spell was nowhere near as consistent as is a bullet. What was meant as a stunning bolt of electricity could just as easily have become a heart-stopping lightning bolt in inexperienced hands. A flame meant to cauterize a wound could burst into greater conflagration, consuming the limb and causing greater scarring. These events sometimes resulted in a mage's loss of confidence--the fear that their intervention caused greater tragedy than if they had simply stayed silent and let events unfold as they should have--setting these men and women on a path to magical impotence. In the past week, Alec had been assigned four such cases. The OFL had ceased its assaults on ARMA members; the murders of magi were far more heavily biased towards the OFL than towards ARMA; and most importantly, ARMA had solidified its place as the magical police of NYC. Things were quiet, and ARMA's most effective mentalist was being kept busy with what some might call a "pseudo-shrink" job. For nearly three days, Alec had gotten no more than an hour of uninterrupted sleep a night; likely due to something he'd seen in the mind of one of these magi, and had been easily convinced that a visit to one of the city's few practicing individuals with psychiatric training was in order. After all, the mental crisis and subsequent insomnia was interfering with his ability to help these magi. One individual in particular had been recommended, due to his own experience with handling traumas and his knowledge of and engagement with the supranatural world. The mentalist closed his eyes, settling in for the long ride up towards Inwood. The line once known as the A train ran directly towards the office of Kai Alexander Morgan, the individual who'd get to poke around in his mind. All Alec knew was that the man had been former military,now worked with many of those who could not cope with the impact of the resonance, and had come highly recommended. Nearly a half hour later, Alec stepped off the train and made his way to the office, knocking at the front door to signal his arrival.
Bones tired, the ache of not moving for hours shifted his hips finally, back arching inward as he leaned forward and pushed his chest outward to pops and crackles. Muscles released, the book tumbling to his lap, the smell of coffee bringing a soft pressed smile on the corner of his lips. Groggy eyes blinked, fingers reaching to stave the tickle in his nose only to realize her scent was recently on him, green eyes snapping with clarity over the room and settling on the coffee cup. Roll forward was fluid, following the trail back to the front door; empty couch, clothes gone, and his entire apartment smelling like the rain, steel and whiskey of a terrible mistake. Both hands drew over his face, not wasting a second to surge into a complete OCD meltdown. Every stitch of Chinese food in the fridge and otherwise was dumped into a large trash bag, the scouring of his apartment ending in everything scrubbed from top to bottom, everything that was touched or even near her stuffed into the washing machine, couch cleaned… coffee table, silverware… the string of curses that slipped from his lips at finding her Beretta and flask were still there rivalled anything he’d ever said in the Navy. Wrapping them both carefully in the towel he put them into the bag for Mrs. Kolcheck. He would drop them off at Monk’s for her to pick up. Dishwasher and washing machine running, the apartment effectively smelling like vinegar, wood oil soap and tea tree oil, clothing was completely stripped off and thrown in the washer… immediately jumping into a scalding shower. Both hands planted on the front of the shower, letting anything remaining run straight into the drain. Except, it wasn’t that easy. Everyone was right, he was effectively an animal- animals could scent things that weren’t there even after they were washed away. It was a tricky game, the bitterness that was icky in his stomach could so easily turn into something aggressive. The purging of her completely from his apartment already had his hackles raised, his logical brain telling him to get rid of everything, the engrained animal rolling its eyes at the stupid human impulse. He’d begun scrubbing his hands and arms without thinking, seethed hiss turning the hot to warm when he realized blood had rushed to the surface of the angry skin. Pain was a result of his handiwork, successfully purging her scent with his own blood and staving off even the thought of other impulses common in a man’s shower time. He was a guy after all. Mack was attractive.... growl sharp as he snatched soap and brought the sting of scrubbed raw skin to vicious fire, effectively dousing tingly fun time thoughts in sharp pain, rinsed off, water turned off. Water dripped, skin shivering, most relatively unscathed to merely bright red irritation except for a spot on his shoulder. Towel pulled away pink, it would heal shiny like a burn. He wished he could say it was the first time, sadly… he knew better. The obsessive behavior had started before he was set for discharge- fixated with removing his presence from his jobs in order to be perfectly invisible. It had gotten out of control, but it had been a long time since he’d actually drawn blood. Sitting on the edge of the tub with a towel pressed to his shoulder, he waited for it to stop bleeding. The area was numb from being shot, probably why it didn’t register he’d scrubbed so hard. Getting up, he called for a cab and had time to spare. Shaving and dressing was slow, his normal fall color casual suit for work. He didn’t have to go in until tomorrow, but he would swing by there today and see if he could reschedule things for the next few days. He had no interest in going in for a while, he had no interest in anything really except shutting and locking his apartment and sequestering in his office. Picking up Mrs. Kolcheck’s bag, he locked up. The ride to the hospital was quiet, at least for him, and complete torture. Cabs were one of the worst smelling places for the Were on earth. More than once the feline eyes rose to watch the rather chatty driver try to stir up conversation with him only to be met with a seethed sigh and a rolled down window to let the cool air flush his senses. Hospital was just as bad. Daytime. More foot traffic, coughing snotty people and pseudo emergencies demanding attention. The ICU was no longer closed off, her door open and still sleeping peacefully. She looked better, sitting next to her for a long time, thumb running across the back of her hand, barely a word to the nurses that moved in and out to take care of her. It was a bad place to be. Silent, left alone to his thoughts that were still trying to make sense of the night before. The signs he wasn’t wanted mingling with the unseen signs that he was- leaving him with a welling anger that was uncharacteristic for him on the off weeks. His stomach was what pulled him out, getting up to transfer her things out of his original leather messenger bag that he’d brought her in with into her favorite bag- the wrapped towel of Mack’s things back into his bag. Leaning to leave a lingering kiss on the woman’s forehead, he left and stopped to speak with the triage nurse. Stable, improving slowly. Touch and go. Another cab ride... he really needed his truck back, he set his secretary on the task of rescheduling all of the next few days’ appointments, keying into his office to close the door behind him and sit in solitude at his desk. He knew what he needed to do. Wanted to do. Every shred of his being fighting to do it, one candlelight of logic sputtering to stay lit. It was not a good idea. Mack had made her choice. He’d said no, she’d insisted. Great personal risk to settle a volatile Were that had fucked it up anyway. It was her own damn fault. He still found himself opening his closet to pull out a copy paper box filled with Terese’s things. She’d never come to pick them up, of course she hadn’t. She was dead. Her boyfriend? A threat. Someone stupid enough to try to trick him was threat to him if he was still watching the Were- which made him a threat to Mack. Mere thought surged rabid anger over his skin. It was illogical, and stupid. She didn’t want him, and she’d made her own bed by coming to his home. Still, the box was gone through, knowing Terese’s personal information was in it. Wouldn’t be the first leech boyfriend taking advantage of his girlfriend that he’d seen, especially one stupid enough to send her in his place. He left with the box, a quiet nod to Christie and out into the street, snagging a cab that were a bit more plentiful in his area and delivered at the small apartment complex of his former secretary. No apprehension, footsteps brought him to the far back corner on the ground floor and knocking at an apartment door. The man that opened it was his height, smelling of something he couldn’t quite place. Paint maybe? The recognition of the Were-shrink was quickly hidden by an apathetic draw on a cigarette. [kai]Hi, I’m Kai Morgan. When Terese left, she left some things behind. I’m not sure if she still wanted them, but I’d thought I’d bring them by.[/kai] he couldn’t believe how cordial he could be. *npc* Sure, sure. She just stepped out for a minute, why don’t you come in until she’s back. Am late for work though so has to be quick. The man took the box. Fabulous, the lying asshole was going to try and kill him. The mild-mannered sounding Brit stepped in and closed the door behind him. [kai]She didn’t seem happy, and she left so suddenly. I just wanted to make sure there were no hard feelings.[/kai] Bondo. The smell was bondo. It was on the guy’s hands. *npc* Look. I know you fucked my girlfriend, and I know you killed her. I know everything about you. Feline eyes rose to the younger man who had pulled out a gun as he set down the box. Every cordial inkling slid from his features, looking around the room for the first time and completely unfazed by the gun that was still pointing at the floor and not him. Terese had said he was Vanguard. Whether he was Vanguard or not, he couldn’t tell, nothing in the room said otherwise until his eyes focused on a pair of overalls similar to Mack’s, the patch on the chest identifying. [kai]Everything?[/kai] something inside his brain snapped, the nonchalant tone surprising even him. *npc* I know about the old lady. I know when you’re gone. I know where you go. [kai]I’m sure your friends know too.[/kai] *npc* Fuck that, no. I squeak they bring a fucking team. You, I’m bringing down myself. Bragging rights. Sure, you’re quite the English pansy ass, suit wearing fake, but an animal is an animal. Will be the talk of the garage. Promotion maybe. [kai]Do it yourself huh? Is that why you sent your girlfriend in with a gun?[/kai] *npc* Fuck bitches. Wasn’t he charming. *npc* Not good for anything except bait. He was a threat. He was a massive threat. There was no hesitation, anger possessed, gun thumping to the floor after the sharp meaty crack left the arrogant asshole on the ground. [kai]Not English, dumb shit.[/kai] The rage, was overwhelming. How dare he. Threaten the Were, threaten Mrs. Kolcheck, and in turn threaten Mack by proxy. He wanted to tear him apart, make him suffer and squeal every minute detail of who he’d talked to as he broke every one of his fingers. Instead, a broken neck was clean and easy to stage as a suicide. Missing girlfriend that most likely left him, unhappy in his job. Cut and dry for the cops. It was instinctual, taking merely moments to stage everything he needed to. Snatching the overalls off the hook near the wall, he debated taking them; a mouse to drop on Mack’s doorstep, deciding against it and hanging them back up. He had no idea if she knew him, the less tangled he was in this, the better. Picking up the box, he left quietly and got back in the cab that he paid to wait for him around the block, asking to be dropped off a few blocks from Monk’s. Dumping the box into an already lit burning barrel in a warehouse district, he arrived shortly after, asking for access to his truck and putting the towel under his front seat- leaving a message for her in it that it was there. He paid for the job, probably more than it was worth, but it would give her no reason to come near him again- calling another cab and waiting in the lobby for his pick-up. It was already late, debating waiting outside to avoid running into anyone, let alone Mack.