Title: twist in our sobriety
Description: (Scott's house) (pre-raid)
Kepler - January 21, 2010 10:42 PM (GMT)
Kepler was not her sister. Was not, never would be, never will be; never have a single cause in which to focus all of their terrible, fix-ate-tive and cursed-by-genetics need. No, that was Evan. Evangeline Gaarder, true blonde of hair and pure of obsession, older by ten years and like all proper older sisters was disgustingly component. Alpha of the Marxist Agassiz lot with her Marist husband Max (who called them the Botticelli girls when he was being annoying); never so much as touched a drop of alcohol; wore fitted jackets and high-heeled boots. They argued a lot, but Kepler was suddenly hazy on what she’d told Griff. Nothing new, that haze. If she wasn’t focused on something she was hazy, foggy, and didn’t Joseph once jokingly-seriously complain that talking to her mind was like trying to follow…Something. Something hyperactive. Butterfly, hummingbird, firefly-
She missed Evan.
Half-sisters, yes, sisters who hadn’t found each other until Kepler was eighteen (Evan had looked, of course, because Evan was like that), sisters from two different packs, but there was a love between the two. Prickly as it was, but Evan was the only person in the entire world who could get away with calling her ‘Shelley’. Neither of them would correct people if they then thought Kepler’s name was Michelle instead of Rochelle, which was a large reason why Evan was allowed to call her it. And she missed her, which explained in her own way why she was sitting on a wooden bench outside the library in winter, smoking a cigarette (junkie, always a junkie and thank god for Tori) while wearing the jacket Evan had given her. Leather, a gorgeous sapphire blue, fitted and falling to mid-thigh, and it was easily the most stylish thing that Kepler possessed. She felt sure that Evan would have understood.
Well, before she started pointing out pesky things like lung cancer. Evan could be predictable when it came to dangerous and addictive substances.
Entertained by this thought, it took her a little longer than it should to realise that she was being asked for directions. Well. ‘Asked’.
“Huh? Scott’s place? It’s down that way, the house with the iron dragon- Yeah, you’re welcome,” Kepler added with a roll of her eyes as the woman practically ran off. “Clearly,” she said to herself with a sigh, taking another drag of the cigarette, “a girl cannot consume drugs on the sly without being interrupted.” Interrupted by a hot woman, though, hot in that older way. What was her name, Kepler was sure Gwen had mentioned her, and she had smelt of-
Oh. Zea. The Good Doctor, and fear.
That was interesting.
But not so interesting that it could not wait until Kepler had finished her damn cigarette.
It hadn’t been so long ago that Liam had dragged her over to Scott’s for her post-escape mental breakdown. As breakdowns go it hadn’t been the worst she’d had; Kepler had really just needed somewhere to fall to pieces for a few days. A week or so, and she had been back to something approaching normal – or as normal as the messed-up Half-Mooner (half-Phase, half of the moon, dark and light, black and white, upsy-down the sea-saw-scales go) ever got. But this wasn’t her Phase, this was the opposite phase-of-her-Phase. The waning half, instead of the waxing half she was stuck with, but the dark side of the scales always sent her slightly crazy anyway. Not crazy, just…
Left of centre.
Like she was standing now, hand in her pocket, head tilted, nostrils flaring slightly as she took in all the scents at Scott’s front door.
Kepler pushed open the door and walked in. Her hiking boots weren’t quiet, but maybe they weren’t quiet only to her ears. She might have looked much better than when she first got out of the cages – not quite so desperately thin, not quite so sickly pale and bruised, with bronze hair thick and glossy, the blonde strands like dark gold – but in a lot of ways, she still wasn’t used to being out of them. Things like sounds still confused her. And doors, but the door to the living room was open, and that was good. She liked open doors, Kepler did.
And beyond the door was Zea.
Raising an eyebrow slightly, Kepler slipped her hand back into her pocket and leaned against the doorframe. Her almond-shaped dark eyes, almost sleepy in first appearance, were bright and sharp as she took in her life-debtor’s own appearance.
Not to mention the smells.
“You know,” Kepler said at last, her voice holding the familiar and sardonic notes of bemusement, “I am starting to think that you do withdrawal worse than I do. That wasn’t a compliment,” she added, leaning in slightly as if in confidence.
Zea Mazuo - January 22, 2010 06:13 PM (GMT)
Zea's mother was retrieving her ritual supplies. Scott had gone to see to someone else in the house. Some other werewolf here. Someone who needed him more than she did. While she was glad to see her insistent caretakers leaving her some room to breathe, she didn't quite like the implications of being here.
Scott's house was full of helpless basketcases. And they'd brought Zea here, because it was where she belonged. She hated it. She'd survived for years on hostile ground, dealing with this alone, without any help from--
Well, that wasn't true. But they weren't with her when she Shifted. They didn't know what it was like. They hadn't seen. Scott had, now.
Where was that professional she had been? Where was that icy but honorable woman who had made deals with the devil, the dead, and the living in cages, keeping her word to everyone? Where had that Zea gone?
She'd certainly been rattled a bit, that was for sure, sitting in borrowed clothes on someone else's living room floor. Her feet were dirty, thread-thin scratches on her arms and back and shoulders and neck and face and hands not yet healed away. There was dirt under her fingernails from the dig through to some stranger's unmarked grave.
There were just so many of them. So many people here that no one else could see or hear or feel.
When you think about it, her familiar added helpfully, You're the one who gave them an opportunity.
"Thanks, John," she whispered. "That's great."
Not that you deserve it, but you could have stayed with me where you belong, but you had to play games and shut us out instead. And now look at what's happened.
"I know that, all right?"
For the past day and a half, Zea had had strangers crawling under her skin without her consent. Now her familiar was reminding her that this was all her fault. And he was right. If she hadn't been so stupid, if she'd planned better, if she'd--
Something. Zea didn't know what she could have done differently, but it certainly did seem as though she'd gotten herself into this mess and had no one to hate for it but herself.
An arm curved around her shoulder, cold as mist through her shirt against her skin. Zea closed her eyes at the familiarity of his touch. Oh, Dearest, came a voice both gentle and awful. You know I forgive you. What you did was wrong, and now you're paying for it, but you know that I love you no matter what.
Somehow that was less comforting than it should be. What was wrong with her? She was lucky he could stand the sight of her, after how many other wandering spirits had been inside her over the course of the last twenty-four hours.
Her eyes opened, staring fixedly at the floor. It wasn't the dead gaze of before, when all that she'd seen and heard had been the invasions of myriad deceased imaginations. She could still smell her mother here, that old anchor to better times when her Phase and her body had belonged to no one but herself.
Zea knew where she was. She knew that this floor was real, and that the window in the kitchen existed, and that it really was slightly overcast and there were footsteps next to the door. These things she noted without interest, still numb with the horror of this first Phase out.
Well, I'm here now. And we're going to fix this mess you made, and everything will be like it was.
"You know. I am starting to think that you do withdrawal worse than I do."
Zea's first thought was, No... no, no, not one of them. Not right now.
"That wasn’t a compliment."
Who had told her? Had Dicen Elkyone told her about Zea's withdrawals early on? Had Scott told Kepler that she was here and why? Was her mother trying to set them up? Every possibility was worse than the last.
"If you're right," Zea answered quietly, turning to face the lab pack's Beta, gaze flicking to Kepler's face only briefly. "Then you picked a bad day. Half the time it won't even be me in here. If there's something you need, I'll be more useful in a day or so."
Caleb Thrawmoore - January 23, 2010 12:05 AM (GMT)
Caleb was curled up on the bench next to Kepler, in wolf form. So far, one good thing about being dead; it didn't hurt to Shift anymore. He could transform as fast as he wanted. It had taken some experimentation before his mind caught up with reality, and he was able to speed up the process. And clothes. Oh boy, was that the best discovery ever. Not that it mattered, but he never liked being naked while alive. It made him feel too vulnerable. Too exposed, with his thin body and scars out in the open for people to see. So to find out that he never had to worry about finding clothes after shifting was great.
Sometimes going around in wolf form was easier. He could walk faster than he could as a human, because even with three legs, his walk was really not that impaired. Not like a human. Take away one leg, and bam. Cripple.
He couldn't yet shake the need to be around Kep, to make sure she was okay -- even though he could do nothing for her. But it was either Kepler or Scott, and he'd already stumped away from Scott's house today. For good reason.
Nobody else really had that much pull for him. Sure, he knew some of them, but none of them were close. When he'd heard that Dicen was a member of the pack, his opinion of Nikola had plummeted. Caleb would never forgive, and he would never forget the prized Elkyone doctor boy. He just couldn't. What Dice had done had shaped Caleb's last days, and it was burned into his very existence as a spirit.
So he followed his String Bean without a thought, as she finished her cigarette and followed the human woman.
Oh. They were going back to Scott's. House with the iron dragon indeed. Once, Damien had jokingly asked if the person was describing the sculpture or the house's owner.
Kep pushed open the door, Caleb walked straight through it. Still a wolf, he followed Kep and sat in the doorway next to her, watching Zea with silent judgement.
His ears flickered back as his eyes wandered over Zea and John at the couch. If a wolf could sneer, he would have.
There was that element of discomfort again. John just felt wrong.
Kepler - January 23, 2010 12:39 AM (GMT)
“Oh, I’m right,” Kepler said, the bemusement leeching away. “Take the drugs to keep the demons away, but now there are no drugs. And they dragged you here to get your shit together.” She walked closer to Zea and went down into an easy squat – something the cages actually were good for practicing. She cocked her like a wolf, her expression still and slightly knowing.
“I’m a junkie, Minerva, I know something of what happens when the drugs go away. And I know that look.” Kepler propped her chin up with her hand, studying Zea intently.
“Does Scott know you were at the labs?”
Zea Mazuo - January 23, 2010 03:53 AM (GMT)
"Of course he does," Zea answered, a tad more curtly than she would have dared if there hadn't been some stupid goddamned baby crying. Zea hated babies. They cried and screamed and vomited and ate and died and then they just kept screaming. They made her crazy, and they couldn't be reasoned with.
Not, she noted, glancing briefly at the wolf on the couch, ...that most ghosts can be reasoned with, anyway.
Her familiar was silent, but Zea could feel him bristle at Caleb's presence. Whatever. Let them bicker and puff themselves up and fight over their mortal turf. Zea didn't have the patience to make the boys play nice, and with Caleb... she didn't really have the right.
"They insisted I stay here anyway," she explained, her discomfort with the idea plain. "For now."
There was a jarring break in Zea's vision before she seized control again. She pressed her palm down into the carpet, dragging her thumbnail through the weave, ignoring everything but the sense of her skin--which was hers--against this fabric--which was real--in this room which actually existed. It only took a moment, but the process of reasserting control through her senses got extremely tedious and wearing after doing it a million times a day.
This was just a bad time. Still... it wasn't as though Zea could just tell Kepler she didn't want to talk to her. These were not her decisions to make. There weren't any decisions for Zea to make, not anymore. Just this crushing and ever-expanding obligation.
"Do you need something?"
Kepler - January 24, 2010 11:17 PM (GMT)
Kepler just watched as Zea faltered and clung to corperal reality, her face as neutral as any of Botticelli's Madonnas. "Need something? Lots of things, but I'm not going to get them.
You need more, though. Clear our debt."
The debt was something that Kepler understood, very well. Her eyelids lowered slightly, and then she reached out tilt Zea's head up. Her thin fingers were cool, but living, and it was only a moment before she withdrew them. Now her eyes were properly open, dark and bright all at once, dominating her face with the sheer force of personality behind them.
"Here, you have to work. You have to work hard, and it'll be hell. The ghosts drove you to us, didn't they?"
Zea Mazuo - January 24, 2010 11:27 PM (GMT)
What a stupid question. Stupid stupid. Ghosts drove her everywhere. They were everything. They were everyone. People like Kepler, they lived and they spoke and they grieved but they always eventually died. Ghosts were forever.
For ever and ever.
So Zea ignored the question. There was no answer to it that was not grossly disrespectful to someone who had done so much for her for so little reason. Why had Kepler touched her? Why did anyone? These people were so strange.
"I have to work everywhere. Here is just... the only place where it matters."
The crying infant paused as if to breathe--stupid thing, still thought it had a respiratory system--and then screamed. Zea winced at the overpoweringly shrill note.
"I'm sorry, talking to me right now is like talking to someone who won't turn down the television to listen to you. Except that I can't." She turned abruptly, glancing behind her.
She could have sworn someone had touched her. Fingers in her hair. Gentle. Would almost have been better if they'd just yank on it and be properly rude. This sudden and unsolicited affection was extremely distracting.
"Hnh," she grunted. Whoever it had been, they were gone. Kepler was still here, which probably meant Zea should try and pay attention to her. She owed her that much, more than that much.
"I asked you tell me when you knew what you wanted. Do any of you know yet?"
Caleb Thrawmoore - January 24, 2010 11:44 PM (GMT)
Did Scott know, he had an idea. But it didn't matter, she didn't deserve it anyway, Caleb still hated that she was here. Sitting on that couch he used to sit on, falling to pieces in the living room he would crash in. He was here first. She'd drugged herself up and ignored their plight, she didn't deserve to be here and have a safety net as she fell apart.
With a speed almost like a werewolf going Fireblooded, Caleb shifted back to human, sitting on the floor with his knees up and his arms atop them, his face buried in them.
He bristled as Kep reached forward to touch the good doctor, glowering at her over his freckled forearms. His form gained and lost strength, becoming brighter and less clear in turn, as his focus burned between his history in Point Grey, and fixation on Kepler and his death and Zea and the labs.
"Do any of you know yet?"
"How about you ask Embla what she wants of you," he growled maliciously, eyes crinkled in a dark smirk.
Zea Mazuo - January 25, 2010 12:03 AM (GMT)
That one. Always needling at her, insisting on completely obvious things as though she had some need of reminding. Ghosts. No reasoning with them, really, not beyond a certain point. Not when it came to their little obsessions.
Zea was beginning to fear that Caleb was beginning to pay a little too much attention to her.
"I did. And if she wants it, she can come have it."
Embla was one of the Lab Pack who seemed to be having the most sensible response to Zea. Embla wanted revenge. Embla wanted her dead. Zea doubted it would make Embla feel all that much better about what had happened, but there was always the potential that it would give her back a sense of power.
Maybe Caleb didn't think she was serious. Fact was... Zea didn't care either way. Right now, after so many hours of this after so many years of being willing to do anything to avoid it, she'd spent far too much time caught between the living and the dead to care which she ended up with, as long as the insane tug-of-war over her was finally over.
Her mother probably wouldn't like it, and Zea wasn't really sure what would happen if Embla killed her. It might be that killing Zea would cause more trouble than it was worth by turning Quinn Simon into the very kind of revenge-driven war machine that had killed her daughter... except this one used knives and landmines instead of teeth or claws.
All very academic, this consideration of her own death. Some days it made a difference.
"Mm," she muttered, immediately forgetting both Caleb and Kepler and Embla. "Everywhere, anyway. Death inside me. Doesn't matter, not a bit. Not a bit." She frowned, trying to hold onto her train of thought. "Not a bit, no."
It matters to me, you know.
"Ah, but they don't see you. They'll never listen, and he doesn't like you anyway," she answered her familiar, gesturing vaguely toward Caleb. "You'd just find something new to bicker about."
You're not so easily replaced as all that, Zea, he replied.
"Oh, well. Damned if I do, damned if I don't. Damned if... either. Either? Neither. ...Something." She remembered Kepler, sitting there with that intensity in her gaze. How could Kepler always make her so off-balance? What was it?
"Did you say something? I'm sorry."
Kepler - February 1, 2010 10:34 PM (GMT)
For a moment, Kepler didn't reply. She just watched and listened and took everything in, her dark eyes blackbird bright.
"I said nothing," she said, finally, cocking her head slightly. "But you are not going to be killed, Daughter of Quinn. Your momma's scary, and I have no wish for any more of my pack to die." And Embla's burning anger or no, Kepler's word still carried weight. "You've let your mind and Gift get into bad habits. Lazy habits, habits that you might not have meant, but habits nonetheless.
So," and Kepler's rich voice now has a southern drawl to it, "Minerva, ya gotta work at controlling it. And if we need your degree, ya use that to, 'cause the livin' might not outnumber the dead, but it'd be too easy for ya to be one of the ghosts. You're caught in-between, but y'gotta side with the livin'."
Zea Mazuo - February 2, 2010 05:07 AM (GMT)
Zea smiled at the mention of her mother, a sudden and quick expression which was gone as quickly as it came. Everyone here knew her mother first and better, and for once it was not an awkward nuisance.
If she'd been talking to anyone else, if her thoughts and her body and her sight didn't feel so raw and unprotected, she might have bristled at the accusations Kepler made about her Gift. The hell did Kepler know about it, anyway? Had Kepler been hearing voices and feeling the misty cold touch of the dead day in and day out for years and years and years and nobody ever saw and nobody could do anything to--
No. But Kepler might understand if Zea explained it. Which, of course, meant that Zea could do no such thing.
"Mm. Living, yeah," Zea agreed. "Yes."
Her Gift? Her degree? Her voice, her time, her energy, her life. There was no end in sight to what she owed them, and of course it was all theirs. All of it. What else could she do?
She turned her focus back to the werewolf sitting nearby. Kepler, of Kepler and Griffin and Dice and Miranda and Izzie and Nicky and--
They had been a fixed point, both her salvation and a reminder of how close to disaster she'd been for years. It had been like living with a thin shining wire around her throat, ready for the first misstep. It had been exhausting, it had been frightening, but at least... at least it had been quiet.
Bad habits indeed. Dr. Mazuo, spoiled by the kind of inner silence that the rest of the world enjoyed without a thought, now she was back to being Zea. Poor mad Zea who had to pretend to be crazy so that no one would know she was something far worse. Zea who had learned to be invisible to the living, as though they could not see her through the desperate throng of clamoring fading dead.
That Zea. The things she had done--terrible things--to keep from being that Zea again. She'd done a lot. She'd done her job. She'd done what her mother taught her: survive at all costs.
And now she had to pay the price.
While her thoughts meandered around in circles, they spiralled inward, coming closer and closer with every turn down to a single center point: the Lab Pack's Beta. Zea's gaze was the hyperfocused gaze she so often saw in the eyes of her ethereal following. Kepler had to be paid. Kepler wanted something, something more than seeing Zea grow into the power and mastery of her Gift, something more than seeing Zea assist with Point Grey's agriculture.
Something. Everybody wanted something. Everybody had desires that needed to be met, that could be met, for a price. Everybody had a devil on their back or in their heart, and the devil always got his due.
For a moment Zea lost track. She'd been... having a conversation? Yes. Kepler was telling her what she wanted.
"I know things," Zea said, suddenly, unsure where the thought had come from. "And what I don't know, I can learn." A slight falter, a shift. Sudden eye contact. A grin which was little more than a baring of the teeth. "You should ask us questions. We know so many secrets, and we're awfully clever. We could tell you so many things, if you ask very... very ni--"
Zea started as though roughly awoken. "I'm not... going to let them talk to you," she said, absently, by way of explanation. "Not... acceptable, it's..." She frowned, failed to find a word to describe it, and gave up. "They... get inside you, you know. They..." She shook her head. "I'm... going to be too tired to talk, soon. Can't..." She blinked a few times, wet her lips thoughtfully, forgot what she was thinking. "They keep trying."