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Caroline Beaumont

"Do what you have to to get the story."

0 · 1,738 views · located in Brooklyn, New York

a character in “Dirt & Opulence”, originally authored by Guest, as played by leisurelyatwar

Description

   

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    Caroline Beaumont
    Now I’m flirting with the dark
Raising our glass to unsettled hearts
Well come on, treat me mean
Taste of wet sugar and a dry brain
Using your love to drive me insane


    ╰━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━╯

   

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    N A M E
   
      Caroline Beaumont

    N I C K N A M E
   
      Caro

    R O L E
   
      Journalist

    G E N D E R
   
      Female

    A G E
   
      25

    B I R T H D A Y
   
      August 28th

    S E X U A L I T Y
   
      Homosexual

    S T A T U S
   
      Taken

   

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    APPEARANCE
   
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    H A I R
   
      Blonde

    E Y E S
   
      Light brown orbs

    H E I G H T
   
      5’6”

    W E I G H T
   
      13o

    E T H N I C I T Y
   
      Caucasian

    O T H E R
   

   

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    Personality
   
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    xxx
✦ Repressed ✧ Priviliged ✦ Conflicted ✧ Safe ✦

   
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      Caroline always was taught not to talk about the problems at hand. You ignored them, suppressed them, you listened to what the Republicans said and you didn’t discuss anything of conflict. Caroline normally played within her parents rules, she did well in school, remained focused and just did what was expected from her. Ellie on the other hand was always a wild one, the typical little sister. Ellie was the only one to yell in the house, Caroline would spend most of her time diffusing the tension between the two of them.

      While Caroline was spending her time trying to play bridge between her parents and her sister, she had to ignore her own issues. Knowing her family would never accept her sexuality, she never allowed herself to pursue anything. She focused everything on her studies, allowing little time for fun.

      She was never one for adventure or risk, it didn’t matter to her if she had her parents approval or not, but just by playing it safe she did everything they ever wanted. Caroline was poised, Caroline was intelligent, Caroline was everything a debutante should be. It was easier to be a cookie cutter Connecticut blonde than to break the mold as Ellie did. Caroline never understood why Ellie wanted their parents approval so badly, they weren’t all that great anyhow. They only really nice when they dragged her out to social events, trying to brag about her accomplishments as if they were their own.

      When Caroline went to college, things become worse back home, but Caroline for once started to do things for herself. She had her first girlfriend, joined clubs and made friends. For once she didn’t have to worry about keeping up with an image, even if her family was a bit of a legacy on campus. They way she saw it, if she played it smart and did what needed to be done her family never had to know about her. Luckily, Ellie was enough of a distraction for her parents to just see whatever face Caroline presented to them that day.

      After moving to New York, Caroline became comfortable in her skin. She was professional, her life revolved around her career. Addicted to her routine, she woke up, dressed impeccably, worked from seven in the morning until eight at night - occasionally catching a drink with her coworkers. Everything was easy, no surprises. Of course Ellie came out from the woodwork, her attempted suicide put everything in perspective. Caroline’s work suffered, she slacked on some responsibilities, missed some days of work. When Ellie came to live with her she took a full two weeks off from work. She had become a fretful older sister, trying to fill the void their parents had left in Ellie.

      As much as she tried, Ellie didn’t want her help. She fell into drugs, leading to her demise. Caroline never cried, she couldn’t if she wanted to. She was just angry, angry at Ellie for being such an idiot, angry at their parents for never being there for Ellie, angry at herself for giving up so quickly - but mostly she was filled with a journalistic rage for the drug cartel within New York. It was easier to blame them for her sisters death.

      Caroline was done playing it safe, with a lust for making those who had a hand in her sisters drug use, she poured every moment she had into investigating the families that ran the drugs in New York. This was how she met Senna. What started as a job developed into a whirlwind of a world she had never been privy to. Senna was unlike anything she had ever seen, a beautiful flower buried under the shattering debris and dirt of those around her. Caroline just wanted to give Senna room to breath, time away from her toxic life. Maybe she enjoyed the thrill Senna provided, or maybe it was the much needed distraction - but it had changed something within Caroline.

      She was taking risks, seeing new things, stealing moments and experiences she never thought possible. Senna made her become a better person, someone Ellie would want her to be. Maybe a streak of danger was all Caroline needed to put things in perspective, and as much as she wished that things with Senna weren’t rooted in a story, she knew what she had to do.
   
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    History
   
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      ImageHartford, Connecticut is known for it’s prominent WASP culture. Filled with good families and the people who work for them, it was an ideal place to spend a childhood. Summers for Caroline were spent in a lake house, watching after her little sister as they jumped from the bluff on a rope swing, swim out to the floating deck and look up at the clouds. Her sister, Ellie, was always the adventurous spirit. Ellie spent most of her life looking up to Caroline while Caroline always wished she had Ellie’s spirit.

      The sisters followed in their mothers footsteps, becoming debutantes and attending Stanford, living in a dorm their parents had a hand in the development. They were legacies, with an expectation to their name they were expected to uphold. Ellie was always the creative one, she studied Art History, supposedly planning to live out her days in an Art Gallery. Caroline opted for the practical liberal arts major - funny how even taking a risk she had to play it safe. It was no surprise when she decided to go to Yale, her fathers alma mater.

      She chose to major in journalism, with a minor in sociology. Naturally she found an internship with the Hartford Courant, her family had connections. She started her junior year was a junior writer for the current events sector, which meant a lot of fact checking. It was a tedious two years, but she was becoming a pride and joy to her parents. Caroline spent college studying and working at the paper, making her parents proud. They would brag about her at cocktail parties, carry around her debutante photo. Ellie on the other hand wasn’t so much of a conversation point.

      Ellie chose to go to art school, her parents paid because Ellie threatened if they refused to pay she would just run away to New York and work as a waitress - which was the last thing they ever would want. Still, often times the Beaumont’s pretended as if they only had one child, people had begun to forget about Ellie. It strained Caroline and Ellie’s relationship, the once inseparable sisters became estranged. While Caroline put forth all the effort to stay in touch, Ellie had grown to blame Caroline for her own parents neglect.

      Meanwhile Caroline continued to succeed. She graduated and secured a job at the Courant, one of the main contributors to the current events section. Ellie continued art school, but only seeing her family on major holidays. When the New York Daily reached out to Caroline, her parents were over the moon with excitement. It was a junior writer position once again, but at least now she was at a world renowned newspaper. Everything seemed to be coming together, Caroline didn’t even think about Ellie much. They lived in the same city but never even met for lunch or a drink, which is why she felt blindsided when she woke up to a text from her mother that Ellie was in the hospital after a failed suicide attempt.

      Her mother asked her to grab some things from Ellie’s apartment, the landlord let her in. The bathroom floor was bathed in blood, a suicide note sat neatly on the kitchen table.

      I’m sorry I couldn’t be Caroline.

      All the other words faded away, her sisters intended final apology resonating in her mind. She never thought of herself as special, she envied Ellie’s originality and creative spirit. Although Caroline had a liberal arts, she didn’t posses half the talent Ellie did. Caroline was able to arrange words in a cohesive way that presented facts in a provocative manner, but Ellie created paintings that made you feel things. She knew that Ellie had always blamed Caroline for their parents lack of support, but Caroline never wanted their approval. Caroline threw away the note, she knew her parents would only use it to make Ellie feel worse.

      Ellie went to rehab, Caroline would visit her every weekend, but Ellie was resistant to reconnect. Their parents visited when they could, most of their weekends were filled with galas - they had their priorities. Even when Ellie was released from the rehab they weren’t there. Ellie came to live with Caroline at first, as mandated by the rehab. At first she mostly stayed within the house, filling her hours sketching and eating cereal. Caroline took some time off work, which of course Ellie despised. When Caroline returned, Ellie jumped on the first opportunity she had of freedom.

      Ellie would disappear for days at a time, showing up at the door of Caroline’s building, high and cursing out the door man. She only returned when she needed more money. A couple of times she would show up with some guy she would claim was her new boyfriend. Caroline did her best to keep her clean, but between her job and Ellie - she was losing any part of her life that was hers. Ellie refused to go to rehab, their parents at this point were done supporting her, Caroline didn’t see a way out. She had to cut Ellie off, she couldn’t continue to enable her. Ellie of course yelled wild accusations about how Caroline loved when Ellie failed because it made her look all the better in their parents eyes.

      She would be lying if she said she didn’t see Ellie’s demise in the short distance. When Ellie was found in an alley, foamed at the mouth and dirtied. Caroline had to be the one to identify her at the morgue, she couldn’t force herself to shed a tear. Ellie had used drugs to bury her own grave. Caroline began to investigate the drug war in Brooklyn, but as junior writer she didn’t have any leeway to actually publish anything, she had to do something big to be heard.

      Ellie had some friends show up to the funeral, Caroline was able to ask around about where Ellie used to score. When she wasn’t at work Caroline would cruise around, drinking coffee and eating snacks from the corner stores. She eventually tracked the hub to a restaurant called The Little Lady, able to spot the bigwigs by their demeanor and how everyone else around them responded. They all had the command of a regal lion, but nothing compared to that first time she saw Senna.

      It seemed all in the name of journalism when she followed the girl to a coffee shop, sat next to her by the window. It was easy to believe that it was all for Ellie, to write a story on the families who controlled the drug game in New York, who took advantage of peoples weakness. It was easy to feel vindicated when she asked out Senna Zaire, who she had learned was the heiress to the Zaire family. When she took her to the fish market right off the docks with the best fish in the city, it smelled terribly and they had to eat with their hands, but Caroline told herself it was because of Ellie. She took Senna for ice cream and people watching in Madison Square, held her hand as they walked through downtown. It all felt better think it was for Ellie, but slowly she started to lose her journalistic incentive.

      She grew to love to do things for and with Senna. She bought her flowers, little pastries, surprised her with coffee when she knew the girl would have a hang over. She knew that Senna spent her time with degenerates and doing drugs, and though that was the very same kind of activities and people she needed to report on, Caroline had began to lose her direction. Her coworkers asked her about her exposé, how it was coming along. It came to a point where the fire in her eyes were out, and she knew it. Senna had become a distraction, and she couldn’t allow it any longer.
   

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F A C E   C L A I M:  Dianna Agron


   
C O P Y    R I G H T

    Character Sheet By : AmeliaIsGhostly
    Inspired By : The Toxic Cereus
    Filled Out By : Your Username Here

   

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So begins...

Caroline Beaumont's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gunner Bates Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: November Mae Character Portrait: Aedan Rory Character Portrait: Caroline Beaumont
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »

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»SENNA«
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Show me that your veins aren’t collapsed and I’ll show you that the love I have is still very much the same.

Baby’s entire life had been a spec. A turn of fifty two cards that somehow all had the same suit. One could say she had spades in spades, that the darkness emblematic of the ensemble preceded her royally fucked up origin. Was it true that only the good died young? And was that why she glided past twelve through eighteen with little trouble other than the loss of a father? Why had everything since nineteen been a blur in his absence? Was he dead, for further corroboration on philosophy of hearts gone black? Was she too old to die young now? For all of the painful third degree she pointed exclusively into her own conscience, there had to be answers. She stared death in the face from under an avenue torch. And he was, perhaps, the best testimony to Senna’s stipulations.

“Okay,” she gave a thoughtful draw of tobacco that carved out her pint-sized resonance like she was setting the price for her own murder, “I was thinking we could go to something more shabby. I don’t have all night but, since we both don’t have anything better to do right this very moment.” If the good did indeed die young, she wouldn’t have survived her relationship with Mr. Rory here. Nicotine flicks clicked from her cuticle, relics taken by the gale. A tilt of her head in Aedan’s general direction colored her tactful. If she’d known less about her own mutilated weakness for the opiated aesthetic of a salaried serial killer, she might have stopped him a block off and circled herself in salt. Instead she offered him what was left of her cigarette. For a spell she even settled into his forearm, for all one knows, just a shock of nostalgia. It felt alright.

Pining, unquestionably. For gutter glitter quick, up a nasal chamber and into the nerves like a shiver. His tastes were more on the injection side, otherwise she would have offered him the ivory grit. She greatly doubted her bag of tricks would give him the mind-splintering high he was accustomed to. For now he was a shield and just the ticket she needed. Clearing her throat, she gestured for him to stop walking, pressing one side of her nose, “Let me just...” The blow had a direct hit to her frontal lobe. Her train of thought called it quits while she and Aedan vacillated in the street. First bump always had a tendency to blackball faculties for a very short interval, supremely when she hadn’t touched the shit all day. With her center of gravity temporarily fluctuating, she pushed off of him to find it for herself. “Damn, Aed,” she gulped, “I know this is late but, it just came to me. No.” A giggle got lost in some purring subsequence of brainwork. “I don’t want to go the Little Lady, and I don’t want to go home. I don’t even really want to go to a bar, now that I think about it. You don’t talk a lot to begin with, cariño, I wouldn’t be able to hear you at a dive, it would be like... Just too much.” She hemmed in the area below her feet and wrapped an arm around herself, only noting the chill because her body temperature had elevated to the pinnacle and turned sweat into ice before it could tallow her alabaster skin. “I want to hear you, not fucking sit on a barstool, having to practically crawl into your lap to have a conversation. In some hell hole where you can’t stop thinking about how you’d rather be shooting up in the bathroom. Because the guy next to you is yelling to his friends across the room and drinking green tea shots or some shit, and you’re probably like, I don’t know, wishing he was a business expense. That’s our luck. We know each other better than that, right?”

Yes, they knew each other too well. It made it all the more ironic for her to even be near him. But that's how his life seemed to work, nonsensical as it seemed. He was a serial killer goading the lambs to slaughter, and she was - damn, she was the only thing he could think about some days. The baby drugged by the Dingo.--W

A presentation of hilarity made her oddly incorrupt subito. Too bad her thesis was on point. It’s not like either of them ever enjoyed being in compressed settings. Him, the claustrophobic critter too taciturn to necessarily blend in, charming for ulterior impulsion, expectant of his freedom and the sedation that made his hands clammy. Her, perhaps too sick of drunken larking bullshit and better off with proximate demerit. And still there was of course, choppy waters where their intimacy ended. “What I mean is,” she established eye contact with her pupils distended to what appeared to be total ocular blackness, “Ugh. You probably know at least the gist of where I was going with that.”

Aedan hummed, affirmation on the tip of his tongue. Staring into those wide eyes, urges tickling in his gut. A singular thought in his mind screaming want. For more than just the drugs. But knowing, so well that it would have to be her choice to come to him, and not the other way around. --W

Her deliberation coasted over to a suffused corner store sign, bulbs going in and out of commission. “Hold on, the Brooklyn Bridge is right up the road. We can flip a coin on who walks the railing, I’ll get a six pack. C’mon, you can hold my hand if you get scared, how about it?” She paced backward toward the shop, presumptively blithe just to see him there however poker-faced, yet waiting for her, who waggled a finger and disappeared behind the tinkering of a five-and-dime door. When she returned she only brandished a handle of Jim Beam, calling out, “I was thinking while I was scaling the aisle. That if I slipped on a railing, you could cover it up and never look too sus. But if you slipped, I probably wouldn’t even be able to keep my story straight. Then Ireland’s on my ass. The cops? I just can’t risk jail time right now, I have some seriously big plans for the empire.” What a joke. He had to know it, too. As if any empire had anything to do with her. She never wanted for those things, not the way Bel did.

A rare laugh bubbled to the surface. "I could teach you," He answers, far too seriously. "Cover ups are the easy part." He settles into a small, pinched smile that doesn't quite register right on his face. "Just gotta keep it nice and clean, spread a tarp, keep the bleach on hand -"

"Actually," His attention shifts suddenly, pondering the idea of what it would feel like to sleep off the bridge. How it would feel to hit icy cold water. Would he die on impact? Or would he slip to the bottom, to drown. The very idea would be appalling to other people. But to Aedan the very thought of that icy, constricting paralysis was enthralling. He never finishes. Drifting into thought, slipping away from the bridge scenario. Head drifting into the fog.--W


Snickering, she screwed the cap off the bottle and took a small sip, “To you. For, keeping me company, right now, whatever this is. Listening, because that’s mostly what you always do. And you know - smiling for once. Even if it’s just because you’re thinking about me rolling someone up in tarp or a carpet. I like your face,” it’s teasing and tantalizing, but she meant it, “Thank you Aedan.” Handing it off to him, she fixed her gaze to his chest, simmered, “I can’t feel my fucking face.” Numb. His was a simile for damnation and dusk. Handsome, the way he undertook oblivion in the evening.

He knew the feeling all to well, enjoyed it even. Feeling displaced from his own body, a ghost in a shell. Too fucked to even notice the world slipping by him. He drinks, and feels the energy in him renew.--W

Did Ireland miss him?

Strung along the waterfront, she dragged him just to the concrete curb that overlooked the urban horizon. Radiance reflected off the inlet in deceiving chromatic wonder. She hoisted herself onto a balustrade and took his wrists for a moment, “We should do the Brooklyn Bridge thing next time, yeah?” Lugging some oxygen into her lungs, Senna got comfortable bearing on the banister, parallel to Aedan. “Yeah.” Answering herself, she nabbed the pole beneath her tightly and puffed out her chest. This didn’t last, as she deflated into the small thing she really was she said, “Hit me. Seriously. I can’t feel anything from my head to my throat.” Currents of air came off the river and took her dark mane by means of sable waves to veil her in the interim. Whatever area not monopolized by her pupils was glassy, like Cabernet poured over porcelain. She was resolute. The trench behind her chirred quietly as if to say, “Don’t fall in, now...” Would Brooklyn miss her?

“Make it count.”

Hit her? Aedan stalled, tongue too thick all of a sudden to speak. Something in him, animalistic screams to accept without a word. Tells him not to fight it, begs him to do it even though he knows that he's strong, he could break her so easy. Shrieks at him about all those scenarios in his sick head. The many times he's imagined her bloody, sprawled beneath him - but those were fantasies and this, this was a strange reality. It makes it hard to deny, when she's inviting so openly. Tempting him with an offer that he just can't pass up.

So he does it.

There's almost no hesitation when he winds back, hits her good. Feeling a deep, satisfying hum in his gut yet no regret what so ever. Its fucked up, but he can't tear his eyes away from her face. Wanting to see that moment when rough knuckles connect with soft skin. He holds her face after, softly trailing fingers down the mark left over. Utterly fascinated by the way she just took it.--W


ImageIt wasn’t pain that vibrated her frame but the sheer vigor of his hook which would have sent her sailing into arctic waters had he not cradled each side of her jaw to admire his handiwork. The offshoot bloomed white noise in her ears, no agony at all, but the welling of tears on another end of olfactory nerves. An unrestrained reaction that came less from thought and more from a potential breakage of septal cartilage. She moaned almost inaudibly, sounding akin to disappointment and gratification synonymously, waiting for a throb to burgeon beneath her skin and become red hot. Dizziness buzzed in one ear, out the other, the dingo doubling before her eyes. She rolled her shoulders and just laid her cheek to Aedan’s palm. Nothingness. Warm gore pooled at her cupid’s bow before dripping over and onto her lips. And still, no feeling. Just the dewy impression of tears and blood cooling in nocturnal rawness. Glancing up at him, lower half of her pouted mug hemorrhaged, she sighed, “Is this the part where I admit I have a problem?” While she slipped from the handrail, digits dipped into damage and undulated before him. Like cherry syrup samples. Her heartbeat was unbroken, lightning in her sternum. He could probably hear it as her form scraped his. There weren’t enough centimeters left to provide self control from their obsessions, his sweet tooth for havoc and how it looked painted on someone else. Senna waded in his shadow, “Wanna’ taste?”


It would have been easier to kiss him. But she didn’t. Kissing him would have paraphrased all their impurities in a way that could never calibrate their furious echelon of fucked-up-ness. Where she might have worn a pretty diamond, she instead wore ruby stock and tenuously applied for his tongue with it, his mouth still open in esteem of the desecration he caused. Deviant dingo. Marveling at how quickly veins wept as if he didn’t know from personal experience. Half intoxicated in an aberrant tentativeness, she was smitten with how her own vital fluid would look seeping from his canines. This was a filthy sport. His silhouette loomed over her, unblinking and stoic. But cold blues spoke of unmitigated fascination. What pumped through her vessels must have been more than half tempting. Senna still knew him just as well if not better, than the last time they were this close to one another. Her wrist aided her nose, she drew back and gave him some space, phone in hand for a time check, “It’s coming up on that point in the night where you have something better to do.” It wasn’t a guilt trip - no. A declaration. A ploy for her to retell one of his earlier statements and prowl off into her next agenda. Because they knew they’d meet again. And too much time together here, could only get messier than it already had. They favored their messes. Didn’t they?

Somewhat. She hadn’t forgotten about the exhaustion that slithered from his abuse of heroin, how it kept her awake when he was glaring hard into a mirror as though waiting for it to crack and refusing to come to bed. Senna wasn’t necessarily a tricky girl, but she and Aedan had long played dirty. There was a lot of fight involved with staying together. Maybe not in tropes. Definitely in their amour, if that’s what one could even call it. Morbid fuckery was probably more appropriate. Whether he licked his chops next, merely quirked a brow or choked the living shit out of her, they both had things to do that put a fork in the path. He’d walk away with a memento on his palate, her with a bruise in the morning. “I’m holding you to the Brooklyn Bridge arrangement,” she asserted as she brushed past him and back to the avenue, “If someone’s going to kill me it might as well be you. This city wouldn’t miss me.” Senna laughed it off. But it was true.

ImageHow much longer could she afford the sloppy shots, though? Senna cracked her neck in a series of pops that came like a string of explosives. Only then did she start to feel something. Was she lucking out or were the drugs subsiding? Again she checked the time, only to find an unexpected text, about a date she had apparently forgotten. “Shit,” she hissed, fingers crossed and heavenward, “Thank you Jesus.” Fate was on her side if only for tonight. Aedan was an unforeseen perk of her slackening, Caroline the candied coating of a prospective relationship, however not able to hold to their plans following her clock out. So she could glow in the low light against some hundred thread count sheets, smiling all amiable and tangling her legs with Baby's. She wasn’t used to it, Senna. But she was learning how to operate in extended sobriety if it meant close and cozy compromise with Caroline. But things were twisted as if destiny were insisting, “Not right now,” so that time for Gunner remained unbolted. If she was being completely honest, she was biding time until she could crawl home to him, the one person who didn’t need a double take when questions went unanswered. And she felt like she owed him tonight. Especially with that disgraceful scene back at the Little Lady. But not only did she owe it, she wanted the serenity that came from being in his company. One thing was certain, just the same: time was running out.

Make this count.

Sneaking in felt so high school. But there was this flare about it, some appeal not lost on her. The best part was the garden, which was her preferred entry route nine times out of ten. A lion’s share of colorless bloom made the cold frame look that of a bridal parlor, which was her favorite, if she was made to admit. White Dahlia’s framed in Kisses of Mint. Classic Calla lilies formed a barrier along the aged stone walkway. All her favorites, still with him. She wondered if he hired a gardener or did all of this himself. Dom on his knees in a mess of tulips and Narcissus seemed extremely unfeasible, and whenever she came through that way, rarely were there traces of him. Just the flowers themselves. An ashtray on a rusted bench paired with a bucket of fertilizer. And there Baby roamed among all of it, a dahlia colored blur still on her profile, hovering through a nursery shining silver by the moon. Isn’t it ironic?

She trailed behind the turnstile, spotting G from her picket perspective. With whatever poise she could convene [surprisingly a lot for someone who had gotten slugged in the nose and done enough drugs to paralyze an orca], she foisted the Bates backyard and trilled, “I hope you were at least kind of expecting me, I don’t want it to get awkward when your Bronx escort meets you out back then realizes this is not what she signed up for.” He’d heard her long before she decided to say anything at all. Probably the lack of composure in the argument with the fence latch. Said her name which always made her the puppy at his heels, but hopefully he didn’t know that. Her titter was fleshy and stilled as she cataracted to scoop a handful of water, “But don’t worry. You totally look the part of a young and slightly more muscular Hugh Heff. If she knows what’s good for her, she’ll stick around for the party.” Bouquets for Gunner always came with a panegyric, however half-serious and unhealthily-humored. He was gorgeous not only as self, but on the outside, with the shift of macabre muscle mass, hushful medium, sift of bloodshot eyes. He was something she knew and felt in her bones. The only thing to cut through the drugs, most of the time. Her friend. Seemingly the only one. The one who deserved a partial explanation, but how the fuck was she going to give it without selling out Bel and his extremely toxic ongoing affair with Julia? Give it a minute. It’ll come easier than you think. Keep it short. Half-knelt, skirt sweeping cement, Senna sized him up with a chirpy demeanor before dousing hemic nares with chlorine, “I think I might have deviated my septum finally.”

“I’m totally kidding, I actually - this is my fault. Neither here nor there, so don’t worry about it.” Inside, doors clicked and gave way to secrets from open windows. Shadows moved by the bedrooms she took to memory. Dom’s, especially, the darker curtains making glass look like a black hole portal. She knew who danced behind the tapestries. Where desire and desolation went to die. Could spot the vulpine cut of November’s curves from a mile away, ‘cause she stimulated like the seven plagues and enchanted a world that wouldn’t stand a chance in her presence. How could you blame anyone for wanting one night with her?

ImageLaughing to no one in particular, Baby lowered herself to all fours and crawled toward her confidant. She leveled off as soon as she bumped him with an elbow and let her opposite arm fall around him, slack. His sweat was cold, skin warm. She stuck to him for a minute, laying on her side. Stiff concrete didn’t feel so bad. Not with him there. The hysteria of their big games drowned in these moments, and that’s why she was lingering. Hoping all of it would swill her and gentle zeros would cloy the madness they’d grown inside of. “Even fancier seeing you here. Imagine, of all the places?” Sarcasm. The tiny transmission escaped no farther than the brawn of his chest. Senna’s hand, still marinating in a redolence of pool aftershock, fluttered fingers and settled on his forearm. The ply had rewritten his evening ethics, she didn’t bother to pry and respectfully drew digits into her own palm as she cracked to him, “Your sister hates my god damn guts, G. That little show tonight was mostly my fault for even entertaining her hard feelings from across the bar. I should uh, make a conscious effort not to express anything around Bel. Or look your way when he’s nearby. I’m just a creature of habit! That and I slept like shit.” Lightly she slapped him, radiating against the Brooklyn gloom. She’d forgotten all about getting high.

A lull of nightfall was all she needed to, too. His percipience. Drugged or sober. Clearly not the latter, she uttered, “You seem dreamier than me tonight,” and settled her forehead to his shoulder, “Y te amo. That is all.” Whereas her brother would have to beg others for forgiveness just to be close to them after a massive fuck up, Senna did not. The middle Bates son somehow had no issue providing her with that merit. And really, it’s not like she needed it with anyone else. All in all - inaudible, laying there... It was nice. Always. Until Senna realized her microscopic matinee with Aedan left a welling stain on her dress and she had nothing else with her. That she didn’t want to go home tonight to wake up the way she had this morning, nor repeat anything aside from t h i s very juncture.

There were things boiling inside of her that she had to say. That if she didn't say, tonight...

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Gunner Bates Character Portrait: Julia Bates Character Portrait: Simone Bates Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: November Mae Character Portrait: Caroline Beaumont
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Image“Here’s tomorrow’s release, fact check all of it and send it to the print.”

Caroline’s editor said nonchalantly, ending any plans she had for the night. What was the immediate end to Caroline’s premeditation to any sort of life outside the paper was her boss’s apathetic command. He left a stack about the height of a newborn child on her joke of a desk and left without so much as another word. Caroline could only sigh, as she did most nights. She hadn’t bothered to make plans since Ellie’s funeral, but the one night she had promised Senna a visit, albeit a late one at that, her boss decided to leave a weeks worth of material for her to check without so much as a warning.

Caroline had grown to be one of the best junior writers of the paper, that much had been established. She had a skill to sniff out false leads, so in essence she had become the editor in which articles would cut to the final print according to validity. Her parents connections were what got her foot in the door, but Caroline’s sheer intuition was what gave her the recognition as an asset to whatever paper she claimed loyalties to. While she had already made plans with Senna, she knew the dark haired vixen could easily occupy herself otherwise - if she hadn’t already. Reluctantly she sent a text postponing their plans, Senna’s prompt and empathetic response affirmed Caroline’s suspicions.

It was known to Caroline that Senna was wanted by many, hell just look at her. The woman was bathed in the blessings of Aphrodite, a walking talking demigod who hadn’t realized her own superiority to mankind itself. She imagined the girl stumbling amongst the filth of Brooklyn, she was well beyond their quality. What had started as a lead had developed into infatuation, Caroline has thoroughly addicted to Senna. When she imagined her own special place, Caroline envisioned her own bed with Senna sprawled across, dark hair spread across her own linens like a river and alabaster skin tempting, calling her name. She was pure heroin, the most addictive drug in the street, she knew if Senna were introduce Caroline to her own inner circle they would glow with jealousy at the special attention she had garnered from Senna.

Yet, Caroline knew this wasn’t why Senna hadn’t invited her anywhere. Whenever the two had met it was always at Caroline’s discretion, wherever she decided. Some people could interpret this as free spirited behavior, but Caroline knew better. Senna wanted to keep Caroline as far away from the families of Brooklyn and their associates as long as possible, but if Caroline played her hand correctly maybe she could change that.

The office was empty except for the cleaner who was emptying trash cans, the light from the halls was the illumination besides the lamp on Caroline’s desk. She sighed with exasperation, time after time she found herself in this position, alone in the dimly lit room pouring herself over the works of others to do some petty fact checking. Caroline leaned back in her chair, stretching her arms above her head and looking around at the vacant room. She had a deadline to meet, but Caroline’s mind was scattered, she wouldn’t get any work finished in this state.

Using her key, Caroline unlocked the bottom drawer to her desk, withdrawing the wrinkled manila folder. It had obviously been handled often, the sides had began to tear. Scrawled in the corner in heavy black ink were the words, For Ellie, Caroline’s fingers ran over the script as she bit her bottom lip with remorse. She rifled through the pages within, placing them onto her desk one by one.

The first page gave a brief summary of the Bates family, the larger operation of the two - well at least the larger family. Each member had their own page, a photo paper clipped to their profile. Simone and Julia, the youngest of the family, didn’t have quite a rap sheet as Gunner or Dominic. The eldest two obviously had a very active role in the family business, Dominic had even served time. There was enough word on the street about Dominic and Gunner solely to write a book, save the entire family.

Then there was the Zaires, once in tight alliance with the Bates. The grand patriarch went missing, shortly followed by the Bates patriarch, most rumors support a rift between the two which led to the Colombian kings death and the Bates leader taking to life on the run. Cristobel was supposedly the big man in charge now, with some lackies at his disposal. Rumor had it that he let someone outside of the family come in as his right hand, a woman named November Allen. Caroline had attempted to build a profile on the femme, but turned up nothing on any kind of history, it was like she appeared one day in Brooklyn and was running with the Zaire’s within a week.

Finally, Senna. Caroline could write books upon books of poetry about Senna Zaire. Caroline had photos of each person in the drug operation, but she had countless of Senna, she should have known she was infatuated before she even ever met the girl. Caroline’s notes went from borderline obsessive to sporadic, hardly any new data since she began her tryst with Senna. She had read her notes at least a hundred times, but it was never enough. All her words would do would piss some people off, she needed enough to cause some action. She bit her bottom lip, if she didn’t put away the papers now she’d obsess over them all night.

Reluctantly, Caroline sealed her documents back in her drawer and returned to her work. Hours later, she sent the bulk of articles to the printer after begging for an hour extensions. Some articles she didn’t deem credible or worth the effort she put on the shelf for a different edition. Finally, strained and tired, Caroline packed up to go home. Not a soul in sight except the security guard who sat at the front desk, Caroline waved a farewell on her way out, an uber waited for her in the front.

“Late night?” Her taxi driver asked.

“Always.”

The ride was brief, the city lights passing by in a blur. Caroline looked at her phone, something within her praying for another text from Senna - some sort of assurance that Senna wasn’t drowning in the debauchery she surrounded herself in. Her street was a quiet, charming part of Buschwick, her apartment building was an old factory with an elevator that opened directly onto her unit. She hadn’t left on any lights, and didn’t bother turning any on. Changing her clothes and brushing her teeth in the dark, Caroline crawled into bed with the exhaustion a full day of work brings, but her mind still racing with the pressure of day to day responsibilities. Tomorrow, she told herself, tomorrow you’ll get your foot in the door - you have to. and her last thought was of coffee with Senna tomorrow before she finally fell into a slumber.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Gunner Bates Character Portrait: Jonathan Moore Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: November Mae Character Portrait: Aedan Rory Character Portrait: Caroline Beaumont Character Portrait: Deni Pogsley Character Portrait: Clementine Tremaine
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ImageCaroline Beaumont

Sleep hardly provided rest. This was life for Caroline Beaumont. When she didn’t spend her days, spilling into nights, devoted to her career, she had a handful of hours to herself that she rarely was able to cherish. Lately all the extra hours she hadn’t kept herself, devoted to a certain heiress of a drug lord family, possibly one of the very same to had led to the demise of Caroline’s very own flesh and blood.

There wasn’t a day, nay a moment, that Caroline went without thinking of Ellie. Of her ability to hide the pain, of how everyone loved her, of how she laughed and made everyone glow from within. There was a photo that sat beside Caroline’s bed that she woke up to every morning, this one being none the different. Ellie was but a child, still grinning wide as simple of a notion as being outside with her family, enjoying the simple nature of being beside a river nearby their cabin. It was one of the rare time their parents spent time with them outside of the public eye, on of the rare times that Caroline knew that Ellie felt loved.

She didn’t blame Ellie for the decisions she made, hell - Caroline was within their parents favor and she still felt the incessant urge to blow her own head in just to shut them up about their precious Caroline. But possible, maybe - if it her demise, her vice, hadn’t been so readily available, Caroline would have had more time. More time to mend the bridge between Ellie and her parents, more time to have helped Ellie. Although Ellie would have probably just have pinned it as yet another attempt from Caroline to be the golden girll.

The same series of thoughts ran through Caroline’s head every morning.

It’s what kept her focused when other distractions arose, one a particular dark haired Colombian with ties to the very same source that was associated with the origin of Ellie’s absence. Senna. All Caroline could do was sigh, just the mere thought of her soft skin made every ill feeling melt away. How could something so damaged be so beautiful? It was amazing how quickly Caroline had grown to devour every morsel she could of the Zaire heiress. She was quick-witted, calm - innocent in her own sense. It killed Caroline to know that such a pure spirit had ended up suffocated by such grime, not given the light, warmth - chance to bloom.

A twinge of disappointed made Caroline’s chest cave when she checked her phone and saw no text. It was Saturday, her only allusion to a day off. Sunday was filled with emails to prep for Monday, everything else was just leading to Friday’s midnight deadline to get their additions into fact checking and formatting before it want to the printer at 3am the next morning. To Caroline, better time could be spent delving into her own personal notes, writing endlessly about the families she had learned to be behind the drug cartel with New York. Sure, there were plenty international players within the city, but these families had legacy associated within the city, generations upon generations feeding carnage to the grand apple itself.

Yet, Caroline could think of several different ways to spend her time, at least several different positions with a certain dark haired temptress.

Caroline shook, her head, she wouldn’t allow herself to succumb to Senna’s charm. She knew the woman was wanted by many, just the way people would look at her whenever she entered the room. Senna was in command of any room she entered, who wouldn’t bend over backwards to make her happy? But this wasn’t about Senna, Caroline looked back at Ellie, centering herself. It was all for Ellie, it always would be - it had to be.

Yet, Caroline had hit a while, all she could do was stare at her notes, evaluating each sector and character in themselves. Her finger would touch her keyboard and stall. Had she let herself fade? What had started as an obsession had become an infatuation.No more. There was one goal, and one goal only. To expose the underbelly of the drug market that led the desperate and damaged part of New York, one of the most illustrious of the first world, and let them bleed from the inside out. Still, reminding herself of this, of all her photos and notes - Caroline returned to those of Senna. Caroline had identified all of the players of this inner circle, knew who was conspiring with whom, which people went home with including the date and time. Each of them connected to one another in their seedy incestuous ways.

Beside the point of mere association by birth, Senna’s connections had the most intrigue. Daughter to one of the largest players in the criminal community of New York City - hell the entire Eastern seaboard, and total diplomacy among all sides, she was outright fascinating. Of course Cristobel Zaire, the current front runner for the Columbian imports, was her brother. Still her ties went deeper, rooting into each branch of the entire roster of main players, Caroline would like to say that was the main reason she began to pursue Caroline but that would be lying.

As difficult as it was, Caroline did her best to focus on the other pieces of the puzzle. There were so many to catalog from within the lions den, all too intelligent to really have any criminal charges proved against them. Dominic and Gunner Bates, along with Cristobel Zaire were the main players, of course there were others dedicated to the cause of corruption. November Allen was a phantom that appeared in Brooklyn from thin air, attaching to the Zaire business and extending the Zaire’s reach into a direct pipeline to the downtown wealth. There was a history of crime and notorious disregard for the law for every person attached to either or both families. Clementine Tremaine, known in the streets of New York City and the colt, and her pet Deni Pogsley - Aeden Rory, a man with a troublesome past...plus the fact that The Little Lady owned by a Jonathon and Annalise Moore was a regular hang out for both families didn't make it seem exactly like a family establishment as it was marketed to be.


The list could go on and one, when you offered a hot meal or some coffee, people felt like talking as long as you kept them fed and happy. Still, Caroline had learned as much as she could from the streets, she needed an in. Senna, She told herself, you have to.

But how could she take advantage of something had grown to be so pure?

Finally, Caroline couldn’t tempt herself any longer. So what if Senna was busy, they had planned for coffee - damnit Caroline would make it happen. She sent a swift text to Senna. Still on for coffee? She asked simply, Senna would respond when she had the chance, she was sure. She sat at her breakfast table with her morning tea and cup of granola and yogurt, checking her work emails. After a while her phone pinged, Senna.

Wouldn’t miss it for the world, babe. x

Caroline smiled, allowing herself to enjoy the moment before reality sat in. She had to make progress today, no more fooling around. Today she wouldn’t let her views of Senna cloud her journalistic objective. No more.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gunner Bates Character Portrait: Jonathan Moore Character Portrait: Simone Bates Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Jasper Callaghan Character Portrait: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: Aedan Rory Character Portrait: Caroline Beaumont Character Portrait: Lazarus Degrays
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A Simon & Senna Collab
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This little thing. This teetering piece of Blue Willow china, almost completely minus, in pieces on the contemporary tile [picked by Simon, whether or not he lived there, for sure] floor of this domain. The visage of a one night stand. But to the privy eyes of a modish mastermind, who by no means believed bullshit because he smelt it aforetime like a hound's twitching nostril... This was years of multiple night stands, a compound of color-washed chaos between families and an ultimate coming to a head where eulogies wrote themselves. Twisted knives. And etched an ugly sculpture on a tombstone where Dom would dress up concrete and copper with orchids. Or maybe the Hibiscus a child so long pined for but never held with her own hands. But this was all poetic... Wasn't it?

And this place. These bruised faces and bloodied fingers, they bore no calligraphy, not in part with Senna's heart, flowers nor her wildest dreams. Every last piece of this shit storm had its own story to tell. It simply wasn't as pretty, parables apoplectic and poisonous. She and Gunner's wouldn't haunt just the hallways, the cold sheets of his bed or estate below street lights where she held his hand, dangled by tension and waited for him to let her fall. He never did. And so wouldn't it be safe to assume that their story did not complete itself? That it belonged to nobody else and there was still a rippling blur of blank pages, that even if only to Senna, were metricals? God damn grime and sewage on the face of family anywhere else. But here? Prose. Never goodbye. No matter how comparable. No fifty two's for a flush fuck fest, no sole operation on coition's demands. They could have done it all and a horoscope would still say it was right either way, instead... Instead? They painted each others resolve and relish colors never before seen by this world. She wondered if that's what he saw behind his eyelids, from where he was down the pass. And everyone who saw her mug today would be thinking he was the lucky son of a bitch who held laurels to her body, when in reality, he’d never crossed that threshold.

Y te amo.
Y te amo.

Y t e a m o.

She found herself on the repulsive side of regret when by a stroke of accidental misfire her digits brushed Simon’s skin, nothing like Gunner’s. Velvety and spoiled rich by the whipped splendor of something steep, beyond Armani’s body butter bullshit and a step past Oribe Cote. Fuck he smelt good. She’d avoid his note of vague surprise, additionally a ‘touche’ riposte, focus enamored with silks. She stopped short of leaning any closer, releasing his robe with an impressed yet wounded smile of appreciation, “I’ve always admired you from afar, since all this shit,” mock spirit fingers mock-sign-languaged ‘family shit’ and she concluded, “You should own stock at this rate, but I feel as though you’d be done more justice in a 1993 strain of Gianni - Miami. You wear florals well, clean.” An immediate snap of the dealt assault [emotional, physical, mental, methodicals... kit and kaboodle, everything but the kitchen sink - s h i t] had his ill regard at her rag of an outfit. Suddenly her cheek ached.

"I'm not sure if I should be insulted or complimented" Simon's mumbling reply of exaggerated caustic mixed with a roll of his eyes was meant as sarcasm, though he wasn't sure if she truly meant that the floral colors of Miami really suited him. He grew up in New York, a city full of shades of grey and thick wools- his summer collection was firmly reserved for the few times he succeeded at vacation. --Ivisbo

Another negation of reality. “I actually have one of her robes... Jacquard shit, but it’s too long on me and I’ve been putting off getting it tailored.” Wild locks, singed chestnut, fell over her eyes, cast low, half-lidded and skimming the white knuckles of her grip now on her own clothing. Much to her displeasure there was a lump in her throat. To meet Simon’s gaze was a feat in and of itself, but his scrutiny was gentler than Dominic’s or even Bel’s, with less impending doom about the ‘sin’ she’d committed. Simon didn’t give a flying fuck, he always had better things to do. He was less fractioned than a wolf and more a show dog that would rip out an Achilles over the mispronunciation of his favorite designer. You and I, we’re gonna’ get along just fine.

One may have assumed there was a potent ulterior motive when he made an offer she couldn’t refuse. But Senna was to the brim with detriments, hadn’t another minute to slip beneath its surface and hope to God her arms surpassed the ability of her failing lungs. Maybe that’s why she grabbed on to his robe like a child with no self control. The visuals, the concepts, the triggers pulled and temptations daubed all together, they’re bang on. “Missoni... Nice, not in a while. You practically have to fellatio a whole team to get hands on anything they put out.”

Or, just, put out, to get some...

Something like a gurgle or giggle was smothered in the structure of her struggling throat. A quirked brow came to Simon, awaiting response, like she already knew. Troublesome and stoic, the smirk was thin and tugging at her full mouth, “You wanna’ go shopping or what? Slap a cold steak on my face and give me a suit jacket and let’s get the fuck out of here, I’ll get us lattes.” Manicured nails drummed the side of her purse, while others combed through a mane somehow falling fair in an agreeable set of waves. Her narrow nose would have been an inch to the left had Aedan not minded her facet so ironically careful in his throw of the punch. A progressing discoloration was setting into the pale elegance, a shadow across something otherwise smooth. He knew how to touch her, how to hurt her, how to fuck her with the bare minimum of humanity that could bust her spine if he pushed hard enough. The honor of making her see stars through the fracture of her own veins, macabre and hell-made, that was gonna’ leave a better taste in his mouth than her blood. She’d give on to him when she looked in the mirror and he’d neglect washing her DNA from his hands until it was extinguished by the last evidence of someone else’s life.

Damn. She had to invest in different hobbies and psyches, lest find herself inundated by the junkie fresco worth a thousand words. Aedan certainly wasn’t the first. Someone else had marked her and made her a chasm for fizzling exploitation that she sold herself to for nothing but broken promises. Paved the road with snow pin points, licked libido: its got a hint of honey, remorse, daddy issues. That grave read something biblical without optimism in mythos. It was all too real, frothed from her and instituted a need for asylum via Lazarus effects. You are disease, you are sickness, freezing condensation between my knees and you’re slithering with slack; it’s home and it ain’t humble, I’m feeling like you got devils to sate. She’d never quit the ride that made her straddle innate infection. ‘Cause the thing about infection was that it brought everything to the top and eventually self treated, in the end the pain was salt to sutures and oddly satisfactory. But it’d come back. Laid up mutts always did, this one just wandered for a while. So, where was Lazarus? The last thing on her mind. The last thing she shoulda’ been speculating, under Dominic and Gunner’s roof. But she wanted to relive the feeling of falling into the lap of pestilence, the festering agony of its palm on her windpipe only accompanied by downtempo spit glistening on her lips.

If Simon’s nose was gonna’ keep being as good as it was, she better not slip up with her daydreams on disappearing acts. ‘Sides, there was Caroline, buzzing on the function of her iPhone, probably stunned Senna wasn’t still torpefied with brain cells popped and fried to shit. Waiting on the follow up, coffee dates and foot knocking. Just a small shopping trip and some foundation, then it was back to real life business.

With Jasper still passed out on the bed- the drugs would not wear out of his system for another couple hours, or perhaps he would wake up in a drugs induced cloud. It was seldom that Simon ever actually spent time the fiend while he was cradled in the white powder, and for now he was fine with that. He offered no explanation to Senna for the state or the room or the body currently dead to the world in his bed, instead heading straight for the closet and ushering her into something more flattering.

"It's all going to be big on you, but shit I think you could probably pull off anything and still look good..." He sifted through layers of suits and perfectly hung button ups, pleated pants folded over wooden hangers. He tugged out a light blue Canali jacket, handing it over without glancing back, "If you we're taller, hell I have heels back at my place you could wear, but I don't keep that kind of shit around Gun" A sideways smirk, his amused expression searching her face for reaction immediately. Simon didn't care to out her, but she was the one that fucked up and ran into him. He deserved a little treat, especially if he was loaning her his clothing, "I think I have some old skinny Levi's around here, I haven't worn them in ages after I figured out Dom doesn't have a limit on his card" Scraggily old things, maybe something head worn in high school when he thought the grunge look suited him. They were small- he wasn't sure if they ever fit him properly, but fuck if he hadn't tried to squeeze into them. But fuck, with that pink silken lingerie just peaking out front the light blue jacket, he had to admit that she pulled off the oversized looking fantastically. --Ivisbo


He’d wrapped her up good, du jour as fuck with all credits due to his omnipotence. She couldn’t compete. But shit if he didn’t know what to put on her frame. And he was shameless as all hell, under the broad blaze of the sun, side by side with her, small speeches biting display windows that had poor color coordination. Only inches separated them as they strolled the city streets. Senna eyed him, the jutting bone of his grip around a paper cup. His consideration was glazed and she was surprised not to have noticed it sooner. Must have been the distraction of the groomed facial hair, the mint fade aligning into his beard and brow. Or maybe she was trying too hard not to look into the sun ‘cause it burned like a son of a bitch and made her bruise red hot. “Jasper?” She mentioned abruptly, deflecting any potential stare that might have struck her dead. That was the strut and ease of someone who just had the ride of their life, maybe with some medicants.

He didn't react immediately, though his breath did hitch and a chill ran down his spine. Yes, Jasper, he could not have assumed she didn't notice his form in bed or his absent expression throughout the morning. He was using Senna as a distraction, though her blunt question had his mind spinning back to last night. --Ivisbo

Before he answered they were zipping into a store where she dove behind a rack and sifted immediately, limbs working at an agile pace and never missing a detail. Textile slid ‘twix, thought much of as she flicked through, trying to free her head of everything and anything. She nodded and laughed softly, “You’re a little wet and wild, aren’t you, Simon?”

His gaze sifted through the clothes, a mild look of agreement as he thumbed through the smooth silk and thick cotton, "Do I need to remind you who caught who sneaking out of their brothers room this morning? I'd think someone as smart as you would know a bad idea when they saw one" Simon's eyes flicked away from the fabric to land on Senna, his gaze steady. They'd fucked around for the better part of the morning, Simon antsy to question her but unwilling to ruin the mood. The last time he'd spent this amount of time with a Zaire, he was still running around in velcro shoes. Sure, he remembered Senna from back then, but she'd always been the kid that was attached to his brothers hip any chance she got.

Now it looked like she'd simply moved onto a younger model. --Ivisbo


The rack was taller than she, a poor reminder that she was so fucking small and seemingly unequipped for the mounting mess she willed into her sentience. With a sigh, she snagged a floral set and held it up in deliberation, “You need some chains and rings and I... I don’t fucking know what I need, but I could probably start by telling you it’s not your brother’s dick NOR...” Her finger waggled in front of him as clothes fell over her arm, “Has it been inside of me. Gunner and I have a complicated enough relationship without sex.” Sure it had come to be a fascination at some point or another, that was just the facts of life. They just never crossed the line. Probably smart of them, at this rate. “I’m not bagging on you for slipping into something as comfortable as Jasper, for the record. Just shooting the shit and... I won’t be sneaking in and out of there anymore. Labors of love, and all that good stuff..” She breathed calmly and then let the pace cock sideways in her chest, trying not to let that familiar frustration of her decisions make her crawl back into bed with Gunner. If Simon was onto her, she didn’t have to say anything else. And it’s not like she would anyway. The love was written all over her face and pulling on her main arteries like ten gallon weights.

Image"Personally pastels are your thing. Or maybe some red" He tossed her a few different assortments, rounding the rack to appraise what she'd pulled out, "That looks like it belongs on a cruise line or maybe Hawaii. But shit you'd probably look good in anything you put on-" His eyes ran along her thin frame, bearded face quirked into an amused smirk. He nodded towards the dressing room, gesturing at himself, "-you can't buy it if I don't approve, show me" --Ivisbo

She showed no shame in changing behind a half-working curtain system, soon alongside him and hip-rocking, peering with a genuine gleam of contentment. A large-set pair of sunglasses rested on her nose and disguised the mark across her jaw and brow. “I’m just gonna’ ring it all up, I gotta’ get some coffee with a friend and pull my act together... I might wear some of this tonight and you...” Senna poked his chest, “Behave yourself. Be cautious. And shop with me more often, okay?”

Simon could see why both his brothers liked her. Senna wasn't something he felt like he needed to protect, and she wasn't something that he felt completely at ease leaving to her own devices. Maybe she was a bit like him, lost at sea and still figuring things out one mistake at a time. He was surprised he hadn't truly noticed her before, not since they were kids at least, but adult Senna was someone he actually found himself enjoying. Surprising, as their families spent the majority of their time hating.

"Fuck, your proved me wrong with florals, I'll shop with you anytime if you promise to by safe as well. No more shiners, or you'll have all three Bates pounding down who ever did that"
--Ivisbo


“It’s what I do, disprove theories, get clocked and somehow salvage my hollow cheeks... I promise to be as safe as... Steve Irwin.” She puckered, waving to him loosely, “You come back now, hear?” As she wove out of the boutique, hardly visible beneath a mountain of bags, she blew a kiss, "Y’look beautiful baby! WERK!" What else could have been said, something more indicative of her heartache? Nah. Something to warn baby Bates about the unending pitfall that was junkie fascination? No. If Simon had tripped on the untied laces of Jasper’s raggedy shoes and fell into a needle stack, there was no saving him with or without the safety measures. Senna could speak from experience. Devils dressed every which way. In Versace and in dusted Dickies that cost a handful of dimes. That wasn’t the point. The point was they could walk, talk, fuck and fairytale their way into your head faster than your bed. That was the real danger. And there was no running from it once it polluted the barren periphery of one person’s being.

I don’t want to live like this anymore.

Simon should have even begun to. It weighed on her soul as she departed, leaving her wanting to hug him tightly just for a moment and remind him that she didn’t forget the skittering of their feet on a Maui shoreline. How he’d always been a little bit of glitter and principles. But that shit didn’t last here, it just got ground under the heel of all types of addiction. He’d be left to tactics all his own and everyone would have to trust him. Bel never learned to do that with Baby, but damn she hoped it would be different for Simon. The proof was there, he was grown and he was cutting down weeds to make his own path. Senna, she loved all the Bates in an individual way delegated for each. She stood by her beliefs. They were good.

ImageA small stop at her apartment, buki-buffing and perfume. That was the brief formula for breakfast oaths across the table from a flaxen fantasy. “Shit, shit,” Senna spilled into The Little Lady, fully aware that Jona would be glaring at her any moment about the debt she promised to repay in work. Keys clattered and a clock ticked audibly as she leaned over the shoulders of Caroline. Petite arms swathed the pretty picture, something shameful sittin’ alone, Senna the holder of the disgrace. Her girl smelt sweet, candied lavender. She wanted to melt into her, kiss the very composition that curved Caroline’s attention toward her behind-schedule-Senna. “I’m sorry, mi amor, soy un desastre. Hope you forgive me.” God, what’d she do to land this type of blessing? Ah, yeah, that’s right. Go hands and knees in dirt and broken glass away from the comfort of Gunner. There was punishment everywhere.

After a small, soft squeeze, lips tracing an earlobe, Senna sat parallel finally. Managed to speak over her infatuation, “Today’s already crazy.” Blood vessels incised outward on the hand that grasped Caroline’s, granted a quiver. This girl made her nervous. Why? Senna had no idea, but it felt good. Not in the fucked up way that Aedan did, not anything kindred to the hackled hormones that swallowed her whole when she was in the same room as Laz. Wha - this shit was so chaste, so pure. Butterflies on a rinse cycle between her ribs, tickling a grin into being when she locked eyes with the marvel that she wanted to wake up to every day.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Gunner Bates Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Jasper Callaghan Character Portrait: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: November Mae Character Portrait: Caroline Beaumont Character Portrait: Deni Pogsley Character Portrait: Clementine Tremaine
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•F•L•I•P•
.{x}. I see right through you any hour .{x}.


Deni moved back and forth on mattress edges with a rocking annoyance so that her friend had no other choice than to rise to the occasion of her presence, unwanted or not. Gunner was placid. Maybe a little overdue for demons riding on his back but! Usually at least sort of pleased that Deni dropped in, because he was one of the few she had and vice-a-versa. He could get his breakfast drugs after she left and he probably would because G usually did most of his dirty deeds in private.

A slight arch went into the dominant straight line of her right eyebrow as she decided to release Gunner’s face which looked skeletal as hell, she suspected it wasn’t the drugs but the desolation that reeked more than her gym socks. “Yikes,” she snapped in a flat pitch, glancing at space in the bed where Senna probably cuddled earlier, “Slipped away while you were sleeping. What a hoe bag.”

She slapped her knee and let out a cackle. They both knew Senna was anything but the derogatory title and anything Deni said was mostly out of love and good humor.

Deni’s hand thrashed in a flood of black hair as she fought with a hair tie, trying to imagine why Senna would just up and disappear. That wasn’t really her style at least to Deni’s knowledge and if Deni knew ANYTHING it was that on the DL, Senna was in looveeeee with Gunner. It was joint between them both honestly, and she only knew this from noting closely how they looked at each other and the way their chests puffed at each other’s gabbing. Among just friends, nobody got that excited. They all loved each other but come on. There were butterflies fluttering and shit, Deni just shot them out of the air and reminded Senna and G that she was still in the room usually.

PEW PEW!

Ah heck. They were the best friends she could hope for aside from the pale-haired show horse back at home. And so what if they were in love? That was probably an awesome thing! But judging by the emptiness beside G, it wasn’t in motion. It was ehhhh, stopped short. Deni ignored his question about how she managed to wake up on the right side of the bed with pep in her step and eagerness to get a jog done. Well! Clocking overtime in autopsy reports just to snip the wrong vessel and get sprayed with umentionables had to be countered by some kind of therapeutic activity. Hers was getting up and taking a jog at the asscrack of dawn.

“So, are we going to cut the shit? The niceties! They’re killing me. G, I know. She loves ya, something fierce, she does, I know. You love her too. But I need the details if I you want me to offer you any consolation.” Deni twisted her spine and reached over to ruffle the mess of unruly shag on Gunner’s head, shrugged softly. She returned to her post where she respected his personal space and messed with the shoelaces that were going to make her feet sore if she didn't loosen them evenly.

Senna's got a girl.
Don't think I had a chance.
Glad you missed it.


Instinctively Deni hissed and reeled in a soap opera way, "Bullshit!" Her mane whipped as she jumped to her feet, clearly displeased with the news. "I did not spend the last year of my residency in Brooklyn liiiiistening over and over to her freaking subtle hints about being in love with you for her to run off with some girl. A girl? Hell no. I mean don't get me wrong G, I love me some pussy and I have a hell of a woman but she is the only one in this world who could show you up. And she belongs to me! They won't last. I'm not saying this to make you feel better, but they won't. No one knows Senna like you do. What the hell did she even say about it? Errr, I'm sorry G. I don't think this will stand. I really don't." Her hands and arms went wide as she paced back and forth in front of him, "Oh just wait till I see her at the club tonight. I'll strangle her pretty little soft neck! Well, not all the way, but mostly! Baka! Baka! Kono ama!"

She went a little eccentric. Her cheeks puffed up and turned rosy, eyes slits as she realized. "Heh, sorry, G, got carried away. Hey, hey, it'll all be good. Nothing gets in the way of true love, not even good head." Guiltily she grinned and tied her hair high. She punched his shoulder harder than most girls were capable of, "Hey, you're good, man. I'll hang with you tonight, we'll scope the sitch. Worse comes to worst I just have Clem waste the bitch right? Heh!!!! Okay, too soon, sorry."

Silence grew between them, Deni breathed it in deeply. She shook her head and straightened her sports bra, "It hurts like a bitch. But this thing with her and the other girl won't last. By the way, Bel is a pussy, kuso-tare yarou. I'll smack him in his teeth." It wouldn't be the first time she threatened it, and if she followed through, that wouldn't be a first either. He might have been king shit in the streets but Deni was not afraid of him and she showed it frequently. All he was really was a royal pain in the ass and Senna was his only redeeming quality, shame he didn't treat her better as a brother.

Waving, she added, "Tonight. Don't be late, I wanna' get druuuunk!" And then she disappeared. By the time she was skidding to a stop in the kitchen, she smelt pancakes and after-sex-glory mixed with Kona. How she wished she was experiencing it firsthand. She dwelled a little, swaying and peering between Dominic and November, "I would love to stay..." Neither of them budged, but a pale ghost flew into the small space to grab something from the fridge. Junkie Candy Jasper! "Heeeey!" She called out to him as he breezed past and used him as her ticket to leave without awkwardly lingering longer.

She whizzed out behind Jasper and caught up to his side even if only for a few minutes, breathed with relief, "Wow place is full of sexual tension huh?" Snorting, she slapped his back softly as if they were long time pals but really they had maybe encountered each other a few times. He was prettier than the gritty boys but thin and haggard. It reminded her of the homelessness scattered throughout the city, just how scary this side of life could get. With a small stretch she said, "I guess I'll bump into ya again soon."

She had to get back. Clementine never slept long and there were demons to play with in the bed, across the counter, against the wall...

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Jasper Callaghan Character Portrait: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: November Mae Character Portrait: Caroline Beaumont Character Portrait: Deni Pogsley Character Portrait: Declan Hayes
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She couldn’t get enough of the pain, a form of penance. Every night spent being thrown, dragged, slapped - she’d wake up feeling redeemed in some sick and twisted way. November had never been religious, but she believed in some way that being treated like nothing more than a whore, to be demeaned and torn down to nothing more than a means to an end let her wake up feeling like she had paid for all the shit she caused during the day. When she was with Dominic he didn’t try to be gentle with her, or worship her. He needed to hurt her as much as she needed to feel pain, each feeling control in their actions. She admired her handiwork as he cooked, the red marks her nails left behind painting his back.

There was a tenderness to Dominic in the morning that she was aware only she was privy to. Between flipping the pancakes or pouring the batter he’d return to her, course fingers tracing shapes across her skin and stealing kisses. Everything was so simple with him, nothing more than what it was. They never needed explanations from each other, or to share feelings or excuses. He never asked questions, she never did in return, yet November knew Dominic Bates knew all without having to ask. She knew Dominic used her for his own carnal desires, and while November did the same, his presence was therapeutic. With Dominic there was no games, no passive aggression - and he would wake up, albeit reluctant, make her pancakes in the morning.

Deni came through the kitchen, and when Dominic blinked at her in confusion she laughed, the delectable bite of murderous potential was of such ethereal beauty she hardly believed she was real herself. Deni had a tendency to make November’s heart flutter, a walking dream. Stunning eyes, full lips and hypnotizing hips, November licked her lips at her presence. She patted Dominic’s arm assuringly, and he carried on with her pancakes, as he should.


Playful as a kitten, November was filled with cheeky expressions and smirks any time Dominic looked over to her, they didn’t need words to enjoy their morning. Dom finished her pancakes, but before he could serve her Jasper breezed between them, stealing a pancake and water - followed by Deni. She watched as Dominic crumbled, he was tolerant of people at his best of , in the mornings November was lucky enough he didn’t throw her out on her ass, having his house flooded with random faces was more than too much for the eldest Bates.

He buried himself into her hair, she laughed. Dominic was a creature of habit, of order - and finding comfort in November’s mane was one of those habits. Her fingers ran through his hair, her body pressed against him. She pushed herself closer into him, breathing into his ear. She could stay there all day, not having to say a word with Dominic Bates treating her like the fucking Queen of England.

Her stomach rumbled, Dominic responded with no hesitation, serving her pancakes along with syrup. November’s face lit up with glee, pure satisfaction scrawled across her face with the first bite.

He treated her like a queen of a kingdom of one, showering her with affection. November was all to aware to treasure each moment she was able to share with Dominic, what he gave was a rare indulgence. What had began as a fling had become an addiction, a need for one another’s submission or domination - depending on the events of the day that had preceded them. When he kissed good bye, it always felt like the last time. Maybe it was easier to tell herself that, unable to grasp why a man of his caliber would ever treat her so well.

She returned home to a hungry cat, yet again, meowing for her affection. “Sorry, Wicked.” She said, carrying the cat to the couch where she made herself comfortable, turning on the television to melt away the hours. Occasionally checking her phone for texts, admittedly from Bel, she laid there with Wicked curled across her lap and exasperation manipulating her features.

How much longer could she keep this life up?

How much longer could she stay in one place, day after day becoming more and more tangled in the messy web of crime and hedonism? Once she was nothing but a whisper, hardly more than a character in a story written by someone else. How had she evolved from an enigma to being so transparent to an entire network of people? One cigarette burned after another, followed by one glass of wine after another. Solitude usually led to doubt, wondering how did she ever let herself become like these people?

The answer was simple, Bel.

She had found someone who saw her for the monster she was, and loved her all the more for it. It was the most euphoric drug of all time. But as their relationship became strained, as did their business. November knew what she had to do, she had leave - she always knew this. How could she stay? She was nothing but an outsider, as she always would be. November could never be respected like Dominic, or adored like Senna - or even despised on a level that can only stem from a lifetime friendship like Gunner or Bel. She was only a rotating figure, someone to fuck or use, she wasn’t part of this life.

“Fuck off.” She told herself, she always did this. Why couldn’t she just enjoy the ride, the ups and downs of life as any other person would? Where else in the world would she ever find herself surrounded by people who had demons that could be on par with her own? Aware that happiness was a myth, but nonetheless jealous of the happiness others were able to find in each other.

She would never be that girl.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________




ImagePerhaps November had been too impatient to arrive at the strip club, the girls knew her too well. She shook a promise of snow and they took her into the private rooms, all too eager to party with the femme fatale. She danced with the girls, glittered skin caressing her own. A few lines off a few asses, a few kisses, a couple of bottles and November had forgotten all about her previous doubts. Why would she ever want to leave?

Legs across a caramel colored lap with creamy colored arms wrapped over her shoulders, November couldn’t stop watching the scene unfold around her. Four lovely ladies, all there for a private show all for her. Something within her snapped, she was unable to give a fuck anymore. The lights flashed, the music pounded and November’s eyes were wide. A girl brought her a drink and a smile, leaning in to whisper in her ear. “Mr. Zaire is in the VIP section, just so that you are aware.”

“Psh, fuck that.” The girls laughed and held her closer, she kissed them each in turn.

More dancing, more perfect bodies, a line or two more - November was unaware how much time had passed but she was sure she had the word W A R N I N G : reckless
stamped across her forehead. When she emerged from the private room, the club was packed. She danced in a line with the girls as they went back to their prospective place, unable to stop herself to pull the delectable caramel treat into herself before the girl ran off. “You come back to me.” She said with a wink.

**The essence of her wept from the walls like secrets, only kept between them, were breathing upon her entry. Cartilage darted in contortions of instinct. He didn’t look her way, but knew damn well she was there. Text messages riddled them both blank, blasé, lukewarm and too pent up for either of their own good. Love and loathing. En noviembre más dulce. But he knew better than to shoot her a look - any look. Grievances plaited from her tabs to his, the romps and lines all assumed in good fun were becoming anything but. They stayed. They kept the shit up, playing their sport in spite of its proneness to push blood between tight teeth. Gashes in mouth. DNA swapped and lost and burned on the flicking tongues, the pain of belonging to no one and everyone, this moral slivered, that one immortal. Modern romance really wasn’t shit like letters worn scarlet. Shakespeares or Margaret Mitchells. It was more like infernos adapted to, never escaped. Dante could tell you about that.

Then again, so could Bel. - sacri xx


She knew where Bel was, it was as if she could sense him. He didn’t have to look to give her a glare, it penetrated her. It was hot, like he knew where her mind was. If she showed any acknowledgement, it wasn’t intentional. What she did notice was that the Bates had arrived, conveniently located next to the bar. Dominic sat idly, unamused, with his signature whiskey and dominating demeanor. November couldn’t pretend not to intentionally cross their path as she went to the bar once again, but before she could order a drink an arm wrapped around her waist pulling her down into a lap. She fit so well against him, his arm pulling her in tight.

“Oo!” she giggled, framing Dominic’s face between her hands. “Rather fresh tonight, aren’t you?”

He looked off as if she hadn’t even spoken, sipping his whiskey. Amidst the strobe lights and dancing ladies he still managed to look like a sculpted statue, still and unflinching. She reached for his drink, he pulled it away and gave her a look to say You’ve had enough. She pouted, but he was right, he always was. He looked back out, not even a grunt. He didn’t have to, he knew she was aware that he was right.

Instead of putting up a battle, November enjoyed her view, slipping bills wherever she could. She even managed to get a lap dance whilst on Dominic’s lap, although she was obviously much more excited than Dom. When she made eye contact with Bel, he was joined by Senna who was snuggled up to a nice blonde piece.

They finally had themselves at a lock of curiosity, gazes trafficked and congested with the high tension of ‘I could fuck you right now’ or ‘I could kill you right now’. She had the mosaic facet of those snarling woods that kept Snow White scared out of her wits for years. Eyes smoldering like mahogany coal, recoil on a snapped blink as her brain fired up breakdowns of situations said square gone rounded for the sake of cutting corners. Dominic’s arms were about her hourglass waist and Bel twitched with acknowledgment, again. Tu no eres mio. Oh yeah, we’re liars and cheats baby. Our tug-o-wars been instated by lack of degree and copious predisposition to paroxysm and how damn good it hurts. - sacri xx

She couldn’t continue to ignore him now, November shifted her weight to stand but Dominic held her down, grunting in protest.
“Dom, I have to go.”
Grunt. Bullshit, stay.
“You know I can’t.”
Grunt. Stay.

He closed it by kissing her shoulder.
She sighed, resisting a grin. “Five minutes, that’s all.”

Although Dominic wasn’t one to smile, she knew there was inward grin with a sense of victory. She felt him shift to say something to Gunner, motioning presumably to the blonde wrapped around Senna. November gave him a look to say Be nice. that he ignored, still staring off intently into empty space. Five minutes passed, November leaned to whisper in Dominic’s ear, unable to resist the urge to nibble, “Five minutes are up or else I’m going to have to start charging.” He almost chortled.


Aware Dominic would be watching her walk away, fixated on her dark tresses, November didn’t bother to shift down the hem of her dress. Without Dominic to stop her, she grabbed a drink and looked back to the Bates to see them all staring intently at Senna and her friend. November rolled her eyes, approaching the Zaires. The blonde was unable to ignore the intent stares of the group of intimidating men from the other end, November could feel the heat of their gaze.

“Don’t worry about my boys over there, they just like to stare.” November joked, greeting Senna and her girl with a kiss on the cheek. “November.” She said, motioning to herself.

”Caro.”

November smiled, clinking her glass against Caro’s. “Cheers.”

Bel was seated up in reluctance next to a blond that buzzed in a still waters run too deep sorta’ way, he didn’t give her alotta’ visual regard. That was his sister’s piece now. And she stunk of something suspect. More over, wore her hair in those sublime girl-next-door waves, mane chopped cuts above her shoulder like she just discovered herself but really still had no fucking clue who she was. Played minor league queer eye shit and looked at Senna one day and thought, “Oh! Shiny!” So the story goes. It would end with a poor post college experiment in sexuality, maybe worse if Bel had anything to say about it. The bliss settled into the smirk on Senna’s face with her porcelain laced in Caroline’s tawny fingers couldn’t be argued, unfortunately, and he wanted nothing to do with it. He’d take Laz over this shit any day {that was biased though, wasn’t it?}. Felt like he snagged bone remnant in his throat as he grunted low, “Three cheers, why don't we. Insult the holy trinity and pay homage to our fair lady while we bathe in the overall atmosphere of sus games.”

A crooked cocky grin cracked his lips and boasted white teeth. He pulled Sen aside and his inked arm enveloped her as he growled against her tresses, noted her bruise, how it spelt Aedan, how her swinging fixation that landed on Caroline was becoming a cause for concern. The words sizzled. Gums pale and slicked with whiskey. The tattooed surface of palms too big to rest on shot glasses rippled, circulation vermilion, irked when he felt November approach. His focus swiveled and never faltered along the curve of her silhouette, her confrontation boiling too close to the brim of the pot. Burners hissing. Roaches all scattering, rats running fast. - sacri xx


“Give me a moment.” November said, leaving Caro alone at the table to deal with the discomforting stare of the Bates boys. “Everything okay?”

Bel’s look told her it was anything but, mostly at her mere presence. She ignored him as Senna returned to Caro’s side, taking advantage of the chance to leave.

Here it comes.

“Bel, she’s a grown ass girl - “
”Novi stay out of this.”
“Who the fuck do you think you’re talking to?”
”You are in no position to give input about dating life of my sister, or anyone for that matter.”
“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”

Soles on those feet must have ached with the ire of a thousand skirmishes never launched ‘cause she was all sorts of rigid, swelter coming off of her like she was about to open a vein to acquit fire. His November. Never his. The contagious fever that sweated him into insomnia. And yet. Never his. He breathed slow, stood to loom over her but maintain distance amid every point lost. All the communication out the window. Nothing but animosity, past lover bullshit and grudges like they hadn’t somehow did a real bang up job of running a notorious partnership. Long time coming, he guessed with something more bitter than salt bound to gurgle up and out. “First, it isn’t your god damn place. Second, don’t march your ass up to me like you’re entitled to conversations with my family. You forfeit that privilege nightly. Right, yeah. Third, Senna doesn't have shit to do with ourbusiness. You come with this Busch-league-ass attitude like I didn’t try to apologize, then bounce that pretty little ass of yours over here to bark. Not tonight Novi.” - sacri xx

Image“What do you want from me, Bel? You go around fucking whoever you want, waving that shit in my face and what am I supposed to do? Sit there and take it? F U C K that. You know what? Fuck you! I’m done, fucking done.” She had been squeezing her glass tighter and tighter as she spoke, but as she cursed the man before her it broke from underneath her grip, slicing her palm. Senna, who had returned to Caro’s side went to tend to November’s wound. November pulled away, stepping back, still looking at Bel. “Don’t call me, don’t text me - nothing. And don’t come fucking ringing my bell when you realize you fucked up because I’ll be gone.”

She didn’t bark. She bit, chewed, and spit him right the fuck back out. This was the seething image of a woman scorned. "Remember who you dance 'tween, usted es un santa, mi amor." He knew it well. Would have copped a plea had she not laid her exit bare and unapologetic. Knew it was over, that she was under oath privy and unkind. That it was cutting her up more than the glass prickling little mitts and manicured fingers. So what did he do? Clenched her bleeding digits, borderline crushing, glass shared in bilateral assault, clots that would mix and dry like sour reminders of their memoir’s end. “Make sure you mean that, kid.” He rolled. And she slipped out of his grasp, disgusted by his touch. Shattered the rest of the ware below him so his boots could grind 'em. So they didn't stay - she was done keeping the shit up. - sacri xx

She threw the remainder of her glass at his feet, blood stained crystals shattering into thousands of pieces. It was then she realized she meant it, she was gone. Maybe the epiphany was written in her expression, because when she looked at Bel there was almost a calm in them that they both know she spoke the truth. She couldn’t say any more, she wasn’t even angry anymore. Blood dripping from her fingers, she walked off without another word, headed to the back entrance. She was sure Dominic had just witnessed everything, but she couldn’t speak to him while she was in this state. Dominic was many things to her, but she had yet to see him do much comforting that didn’t involve body slamming her against a wall.

In her wake, five dripping thorns, a sloppy shrug and look of disdain. Cleft between index and thumb. He sucked on the wound and shook plasma onto the carpet, “Have a beautiful night girls.” He headed for a back room. - sacri xx

No one was at the back door, she lit a cigarette, hands shaking and painting her lips with fresh blood as she brought her cigarette to her lips. The drugs had began to wear off, she was nearly sober at this point, but to exhausted to note her surroundings. The cocaine had her trembling, and her palm was still bleeding, and the adrenaline had her mind in all directions. Maybe in another state she would have noticed she wasn’t alone. There was the sound of gravel shifting under the weight of a shoe then a sharp pain followed by b l a c k n e s s.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Gunner Bates Character Portrait: Simone Bates Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Hani Kim Character Portrait: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: November Mae Character Portrait: Aedan Rory Character Portrait: Caroline Beaumont
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Dahlias, Lilies, Tulips, Narcissus.

Pinks, oranges, yellows, whites.

Soil staining the knees of his already threadbare jeans, scratches down his back still fresh and pulling taunt in protest when he leans over. He thinks about cursing November and the knives she claims are nails, but knows that he deserved them. Knows that he earned them, and he can't really be mad about that.

He misses her already.

But she's not his to keep.

He wipes his sweaty forehead off in the crook of his arm, spreading streaks of dirt across his face and failing to care. There's a long night ahead of him and he already knows this. Bates and Zarie's and women as vicious as vipers. He's not worried, never is, but as his large hands cup under a baby bud, a soil transfer to get it more sun, he wonders briefly if he's ever going to tire of holding life in his hands.

There's baby's breath growing in bushes. Thoughts of her. All for her, always for her. A garden full of flowers that should have ended up laced through her hair, if life hadn't done them the way it had. He supposes it's for him now. For his stress and his pain. His need to claw at the Earth and make something beautiful appear, if even for a moment. It's lackluster and superstitious but he can't find it in himself to give a fuck.

There's flowers for Senna, sure. But there are also flowers for his mother, for Gunner, for Simon. Flowers for a boy he once knew between panted breaths and prison bars, a reminder of something other than the blood under his fingernails when it all went to hell. Flowers for girls like Novi and all the lost souls. Flowers for a man permanently stained red who he never can seem to get out of his head. Flowers for the past, present, future.

Flowers for Bel, even.

And he'll be damned if he lets any of them die.

It's his garden. His responsibility.



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It's too dark, too loud, and the scent of sex and cheap cigarettes clog his nose. His eyes narrow in irritation, jaw clinched over the fact that he can't cover his ears, and already the back of his tongue tastes gross. Reminds him of teenage years spent on his knees in cheap hotel rooms, putting his mouth around something without really knowing where it'd been. Stupid. Kind of like strip clubs. Where no doubt girls were behind thick curtains doing lines on shit they shouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. Promising to stick their hands down some bikers pants for the promise of just a little tip.

He's never been a fan of these places. Never been a fan of paying for blue balls.

The whiskey is good, though.

He arrives alone, even though he knows he won't stay that way for long. Takes a spot at the bar, orders a drink, pulls a cigar from the pocket on his shirt. He debates not lighting it, not smoking something that says money and a big dick, not in a place like this where every cardinal whore is looking for a few extra bucks and a good night. Then he remembers he's Dominic Bates, and he doesn't need a fancy smoke and a glass of the finest to prove those facts. His reputation does it for him.

The bar is safer, away from the stages. Not as much room, not the VIP section the older Zarie takes too. Dom doesn't glance at him, doesn't have the time. He's too busy focusing on the best 'not interested' face he can muster, and wondering why his life decisions got him here. Gunner slides in next to him, a little off kilter, but still his usual self. Power rolls off him in waves, and Dom knows his brother is like raw steak to the hungry dogs in a place like this. The kind of Bad Boy that looked like he could fuck them up real good, but still wrap his arms around them and call them 'sweetie' at the end of the day.

It's funny, if only because Dom doesn't think they're wrong. But it's going to take someone a lot more special than a girl on a pole to hold onto Gunner Bates' heart.

He doesn't mind the strippers themselves, not really. They're strong girls, full of personality and what it takes to survive in a world of grit and blood. He respects them, more than most, for sinking their nails into life and riding it out. He just hates being in their line of sight. And they all look so goddamned hungry, eyes moving over his body, sinful smirks touching their lips. And he thinks almost for a moment that if one of them is brave enough to speak to him...he might just slide a few crisp dollars through the lace over her hips. But he doesn't want them to. Doesn't want to be here, doesn't want to deal with this.

ImageNovember appears like his saving grace, covered in angel dust with a sway to her hips. He knows what she's doing even as she walks by them, leans over the bar innocently. She's had a fun night, he can tell, so he doesn't feel bad when he wraps an arm around that perfect waistline, tugs her into him. She fits perfectly, always has, and her giggle reminds him of early morning pancakes even if it smells like luscious alcohol.

She said something, but he didn't really care. Reached for his drink, but she'd already had enough and it was his first one. He gave her a look, one that told her to behave, before he tugged her closely and let his eyes fan across the crowds. Even now, Dom didn't know all the faces. Didn't care to. Simon comes through the doors with Hani on his arm, charming smile on his face. Dom knows her. Bel's piece. Small, fragile, pale skinned innocence. He wonders how long she'll last, how tightly Bel's wrapped around her fingers. She's too good for him, he knows. She'll fight for him until she's got no fight left in her. He would pray for her, maybe even wish his brother was straight and could save her heart. But he'd long ago stopped caring about girls who danced with the devil and wondered why they were still in hell.

November in his lap provided a block. Kept the girls off him, focused on her. They liked her. She was beautiful toxicity and threw out just as much money as the men. Reckless generosity. He doesn't care, even when some girl in pink ruffles is in his lap too. Ignores the excitement rolling off Novi, because better her than him. He knew he couldn't keep her forever, never could and that was the blessing and the curse that came with knowing the intimate parts of her. She shifted to leave, but Dom wasn't done with her. Not yet. His grip tightened. She smiled. "Dom I have to go."

For Bel, he knows. His eyes slide towards the kingpin sitting alone, jaw clinched, face shadowed, eyes flickering with this emotion or the next. Always so hot, always so wired and ready to go. It's odd how even after all this time Dom thinks he should be helping Bel get what he wants...let her go, let him convince her that he could love her. Save Hani's life maybe, in the process. But he can't. Not anymore. He can't help Bel. So he won't, not even a little.

"You know I can't stay."

But she can, and he says so without ever opening his mouth. He kisses her shoulder, chapped lips rubbing over soft skin, and she tastes better than the whiskey or the smoke. She sighs, almost smiles, and tells him five more minutes. He doesn't smile either, won't give her the satisfaction, but his chin rests on her shoulder, and for the first time he notices Senna. Long dark hair, what might be a bruise on porcelain skin, and she's cuddled up to a tiny blonde thing. If he thought Hani was the picture of innocence, she's got nothing on this girl. These doll-like curls, childlike-cheeks, wide eyes. She's new, fresh, never seen their world he's sure of it. Her fingers are clean and her heart is probably pure. The kind of girl that still has nightmares about what might be hiding in her closet...not about the guy she knows lives next door. Not about the people she's seen rip throats out with their bare hands. No, monsters live in books and television screens for her.

And he doesn't trust her.

He doesn't trust her for one second. Not the way she holds onto Senna, not the calculating glance, not the air of new but voluntary. She's a threat wrapped up in a pretty package, like a dart frog sitting on the lowest tree branch, waiting to be noticed, showing off mesmerizing colors, covered in poison enough to drop people by the tens. He licks his lips and leans far enough back in his seat to get Gunner's attention. Points with his cigar to the little thing in question, arches an eyebrow. "That right there gonna be a problem." Gunner's eyebrows go up, and he takes a moment to survey the scene Dom has already studied. His brow burrows, but he shakes his head slowly. "I'm not beatin' up on some girl, Dom."

He shrugs as November shoots him a look, ignores it even though he knows what she means, and he knows he's lost her then. Doesn't resist when she gets up, even as he teeth graze his ear. He chuckles for her that time, smacks her ass as she saunters away. She's too pretty not to watch her walk away, but even when she goes to Bel, he can't stop his eyes from finding the blonde girl again. Even when the yelling starts that he can see more than hear...she's not his focus. And if she was his, maybe he would have followed her when she left, maybe he would have watched her back when she was too emotional and too strung out to do it herself. But she wasn't, so he didn't.

ImageInstead, he leans back, rests his elbows on the bar, nods at Simon when he orders a whiskey for Hani. He doesn't smile, never does. Doesn't ask how she is or care. Simon looks well, even after Jasper crawled out of his bed that morning, and that's all that matters. For now, he puts Novi out of his head, locks Bel away. For now, he keeps Senna on his mind and a blonde deity on a silver platter. For now, he waits, his eyes trained on the door.

Because he knows, sooner rather than later, a man stained in red will walk through it.

And he thinks he's rather due a date.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gunner Bates Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Chloe Williams Character Portrait: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: Aedan Rory Character Portrait: Caroline Beaumont
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#, as written by Wiley
Aedan Rory
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Daytime felt like a slow, belly crawl to the finish line. Even as Chloe left him he knew the time between now and then would last a hundred, no, maybe a million years of half unconsciousness. He took to the beer like a lifeline when the shake got to him, let it roll through to snap at his bones. Biting from the inside out, a claw tearing open his chest from the inside to let that animalistic panting out. He barely made it to the bathroom, the kit and to the tub where he sat. Let ice cold water pour over him without a care. Arms limp over the edge and mouth at a lull, he felt weightless, floating somewhere between pain and ecstasy and the hunger to shoot up again – so soon after the last? No, no he just needed the idea to plant deep in his brain and sprout up through thick cranium. He was high still, pleasant, floating. There was only the lingering of something beyond, the cold pellets slashing skin in their wake. Tipped his head back and spluttered as his lungs filled rapidly. He didn’t need it yet – not fucking yet.

Felt like eternity passed in a minute, wrapped up in that dazed euphoric longing for the next big high – and while it didn’t last quite so long as an eternity he still felt it on the come down. The shake and shiver and burning of his guts from too much beer consumed. He’d be a damned if he puked but still, his stomach turned with each movement to tumble-fall out of the tub. He’ll be sick by morning, but the pleasant feeling lingered over. He would be fine for a while, stuck in the interim while the feelings settled in him. While his brain reawakens to discover the abuse it had endured in the subsequent hours following Chloe’s frenzies departure. He remembered then the invite.

His phone had pinged several minutes ago – maybe even an hour ago. The passage of time in this state barely caught up with his addled brain. He took his time stripping and dressing, the numbing cold unpleasant in a dysmorphic way. He felt out of body, projecting himself on the world like a ghost. He both loved, and hated the feeling of it. One would say by the sheer amount of times he chose to experience it he loved it more so than hated it. There was a level he had to reach, before it overtook him and spun too far out. Left him face down in vomit puddles two seconds from death, or in some cases blood when he’s torn himself to bits in a fit of undeterred rage.

He could understand those times the best out of any, while he may not remember most of them he stuck by the wounds and bruises left over. Digging palms into flesh made in the image of a rotten fruit. Tongue pressed against cuts, whether to staunch or taste even he couldn’t begin to know. He knew, somewhere deep in the rational part of his brain that the things he did, the way he acted, none of it could begin to be considered normal. That part had been drowned out long ago, maybe even strangled on the umbilical cord at birth. Rational thought has no way of life in the mind of a man who kills for pleasure just as much as for profit.

He checked his phone, Chloe had texted but there were various others as well that were several minutes to an hour old. A worried, but potential client. Aedan texted a quick meet up for later that night – he didn’t want to do any more business than necessary at the club until he’d had himself a good time. Chloe’s text was nonsense, slang word garbage and from what he could tell all she was really trying to say was that he needed to be there, and that some creep kept staring at her in a way that reminded her of him – she could take perfect care of herself, he was sure she would just as soon snap any creep’s spine in half rather than lay damsel in distress. But he kept it in mind, if someone was looking at her in a way that reminded her of him, he knew what that meant.




He found himself at the entrance among a packed crowd, the club thriving with energy and the scent of sex and booze in the air flustered the dark desires in him. He stuck tight to a crowd heading in, paranoia creeping up his spine. He hated crowds, loud places with people packed in tight made him nervous and only the fact that he had people to meet here made it begrudgingly better. Nervous energy left him jittery but not in a way that spoke of being afraid – simply hating the eyes all around him. Felt like any moment someone or something would set him off the deep end.

Aedan found Chloe nestled between two strippers wearing barely there latex outfits – of course she’d find her people here. He didn’t stop, nodded to her as he passed and if she was annoyed by his dismissal he didn’t care. If anything he’d circle back to her later, but she was having her own fun and Aedan was intent on his own. Even if it was uncomfortable to start with. The instant bombardment of girls was a bit off putting to say the least, he found himself flashing worthless smiles that felt stiff and unlike him and trying not to give away the true blue psychopathy beneath every feigned smirk and glance. He was of course appreciative, but the idea of looking without fucking was entirely unpleasing. His eyes trailed over the patrons and caught on Senna and the little blonde toy at her side, whatever false smiles he was maintaining earlier slipped away in that instant. Jealousy, settled deep in his gut and some part of his mind spoke deeply about the blonde.

She’s wrong, in what way he cannot even begin to know. But her very presence grates his nerves and maybe he stares at Senna a little too long as he passes but she deserves it in a way. His handiwork stands out on her face and he can’t help the smirk that reemerges in the wake. Aedan knows Senna would be pissed at him for interrupting so he simply passes on by. Maybe later he’d find a willing girl to take out back, take his aggression out on her in the form of sex, but for that moment he sidled up to the bar – up to the Bates that he caught sight of with a fake smirk still painted on his face.

Took a seat nearby to the only man that had ever managed to get stuck in his head, even if he made excuses there was still a thrill there – a wondering of; will tonight be the night? He had watched the storm between the Bates and Zaires brew for years now and as much as he stayed neutral on it he knew sooner or later someone would do something about it, and while he wanted Senna safe and sound he also put his bet on the Bates when it came to how everything would end up. Dominic, with his quiet attitude was a prime candidate for business.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Gunner Bates Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Chloe Williams Character Portrait: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: November Mae Character Portrait: Aedan Rory Character Portrait: Caroline Beaumont
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⟝BEL⟞
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There’s ten thousand reasons why any man could pop every single cell necessary for brain function when watching somebody he loves twist the emblematic knife. At the rate of this disaster, Hemingway’s monotone would sound a lot less painful. Beasts with two backs knew little to no boring interim and an imp with broken glass in her mitt knew z e r o. Full weight would rock into the soles of shoes too hard to fill. He’d rub his hands together at the crown residue, sticky with more weight than wine; he was wearing both their hearts on his palms. They unfolded like roses.

Floral relics all lost to destruction. Hadn’t Bel gone over this type of disaster at least a dozen god damn times, in and out of context? There was an addict’s twitch in gray matter when he let a beaded divider fall behind his shoulders. No necessary sudden discernment, just agitation at the obvious. The nasal inhale jerked veins under throat’s paper skin, fingers flayed in a blur of black ink at the bridge of his nose. Between Caroline and November his cerebrum was pendent from hardwired habit; hacked, instigated and hot-wired, left to become nothing but unadulterated pique. He steeped in it. The low light of red near black swallowed him like a pill, some smooth skin snaking around his waist. She thrummed to the same sonorous cadence that made him a fiend, lips and nostrils slathered in a smear of messy Spanish left wise of his neck. There was soothing to be done. But he wouldn’t find it in this one.

ImageSo he let her play her game. The hustle knocked past midnight yet never forfeited whether on dime or dollar. When he looked her over, he found the swollen mouth, its glistening invitation. Sable lace just pliant enough to be removed with one swift slip. Hazard at the hips, tapered before the widening where just a few inches below she could have brought forth panache. Black ribbon was tied delicately between tiny pieces of fabric maintaining dignity. Flesh soft enough to bruise with the single thumb print of animal need, and he knew. It churned inside’a him like the blade. He wasn’t sure how to take it, suddenly with all the salt he was worth stifled in his esophagus and popped out like a snail’s sentence. Metrical compositions were side winders and he couldn’t peel his eyes from her anatomy. But not for the pressure building in his gut that was connected to appetites. For what she was. For how tragic grace could build behind a gaze, on the wrong side of a tourniquet with only one option: watching yourself bleed. She could have been his little sister, the girls he fucked on a discretionary drug substitution, or even November. And maybe she was leaving him with the impression she intended. Telling him to fuck off and never call again. That she wouldn’t be back.

So, yeah, muneca, you got me there.

And she stuck to him despite disappearing in a mist bedaubed on the night. He can hear how she echoes with toe clicks from a heel strut on the underpass even when he’s asleep. It was going to get him, didn’t matter. Tonight. Tomorrow... His spine snapped into place as he ordered something in a jumble from the bar. Bel scooped the dancer off his lap with practiced care and bare-minimum touch, tipped her with a bubbled baritone, “Thank you” and took two glasses of whiskey straight back.

Estoy perdiendo mi mente. I’m sure ‘bout it. The lines are merging or not there at all. This girl’s got her hands all over Senna, something slick don’t feel right; but who am I to say her hands ain’t clean? No, no estoy loco. Noviembre tenía un punto. Esto es desordenado. It had to stop somewhere, might as well be sooner rather than later. But why can’t November smell that pungent fuckin’ shit across the way? Walks like bullshit. Talks like bullshit. Smells like bullshit. Tengo que manejar esto. Swallow my pride for a minute. Just one. Hay amenazas más grandes. Ones not written in familial territory or spattered on the Brooklyn horizon. This, here. Aqui. This is a fuckin’ problem. And whether or not November is here to bark and bite by the glory of my right hand, I got a Baby to protect. Every single body in here knows that. And I’m willin’ to lay money on the floral dukes wanting payment for the potential damage... Yeah, I’m gonna’ juuuust...

When he moved he had a slow pace like the hungry dog calculated in cold blood, rested just enough to lay waste to an entire plot of purpose. The sharp jaw line dropped under fluorescents and haze. He made very brief eyes at coral waves and fluttering lashes that rung familiar, ringing in ears at the split staccato of, “Good boy.” If he were in any other mood, he might have let a smirk claw at the side of him, revealing canines fit to garner stitches or remove them. Leave the black sutures on tile by the bone structure corset mislaid and undone. But they’d had their time. Chloe was on to the next, but she knew where to find Bel and that he’d be a willing hound to her cause if she needed a pill pop and pittance of sin. It seemed that there was never a final moment with the sequences, only historical reiteration with deviation in bruise placement. A coil of heavy dark hair fell across his eyes - made him wonder what the fuck was going on up top. Was there sweat on this brow over this? Brisk glances stolen, the feathered digits of hands too small to be any but Baby’s - across a tanned thigh. Flaxen swaying and the trickery between enamel. He strolled s l o w.

By the time he was crossing a line drawn deep he was kilometers from giving a fuck and kindly resting his weight on the broad shoulders of what anyone assumed to be an enemy. Someone who once wrapped Senna in Indian throws and rocked her on the beach by lily lullabies. There was still plasma on Bel's hands when his head tugged at an angle that struck stirred, he didn’t look at Caroline as he grunted, “Now I know we ain’t got a lot to talk about. But you and I ain’t stupid enough to overlook this, are we?” He could feel Gunner’s whetted curiosity.

Bel countered. Ordered a stiff drink for Dom, whose thousand-yard-scrutiny stabbed colder than the mien of the Pacific in his eyes. “She’s got snitch written all over her. Might not’a’been raised on a farm, D, but we know bullshit when we smell it. She gets those fuckin’ french manicured claws any deeper into Baby and I’m gonna’ have to catch my first body in broad daylight. Know you don’t want this to get that far either. ‘Sides... She’s rounding up something in her head. Looking around and wanting to be introduced, you can see it on her face the way she’s lookin’ back and forth. This is a problem. We ain’t gonna’ let it get farther. Sen’s all smitten and cozy but I don’t got the slightest faith that...” He moved a paw back and forth with such ferocity that his own drink spilt on the carpet, “Any of that is genuine.”

And he's wondering what G thinks on the low. How Aedan is gauging the interactions, blood lust at a steady simmer. If anyone had half a brain they knew this shit had trouble written all over it. November seemed to keep a hopeful outlook... And where in the hell had she gone?

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Gunner Bates Character Portrait: Simone Bates Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Jasper Callaghan Character Portrait: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: November Mae Character Portrait: Caroline Beaumont Character Portrait: Deni Pogsley Character Portrait: Clementine Tremaine Character Portrait: Declan Hayes
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•F•L•I•P•
.{x}. I won't soothe your pain .{x}.

Returning home to grace and grisly was a breather wanted aside from exercise pit stops. Deni's brain was muddled with questions about her two closest friends having an off moment. It seemed too weird, and not in a way that implied Gunner wasn't yelling the truth. But in a way that would imply he wasn't exactly saying everything. Because face it, G never wore bags under his eyes like Chanel or anything, but the ones on his face today looked like heart weight. He was candid and short. That was the way G was so she wasn't surprised. But something was amiss! And she'd be damned if she didn't get to the bottom of it and straighten it right the hell out. 

Buuuut ... not before she rolled around in a higher thread count play land with her antsy hands all over her love in an anxious fit of, "Wake up and kiss me." Clementine grazed the sheets and rolled her hips, friction between her and Deni that drove the girl simply wild. A profusion of Snow White hair covered the pillows in an extra silken layer. Flip cradled one of them at the crook of her elbow and wrapped her other arm tightly around Clementine's chest, squeezed just enough to give her the rush of potential harm and then bit through the planted plush of her kiss to bruise flesh of the neck. Gasps between a sliding palm and all sorts of bloodthirsty noise and desire. They came to know it as their beaten path. The couple was a traditional clash, and Deni liked the way Clementine fell breathless and showed her bones when she licked between breasts against goose bumps and requisites. Today wouldn't be an exception. 

It was hard to tell where one began and the other ended like a maze of messy love and hunger. Sweat laid thicker than the aftermath of her jog and by the points of climaxes, Deni held one thumb to each mandible. She wanted to see how deep the pain and pleasure went in the eyes of her soulmate. The pupil extended, then swallowed itself. Clementine's spine jerked and her hands gripped hair. They fucked and fought like just a fling but man did they know how to love. Their mutual fascination was an ambrosial infection. When periodic wars in bed were over, Deni dragged herself to an iPhone charger and reminded her friends she would see them later. Clementine ducked out of the affair, Deni chalked it up to business as usual. 

She had no problem riding solo. The codependency or lack thereof didn't seem to make messes in the other aspects of day to day life, and Deni could handle herself unlike many people she knew. She didn't need to show anyone up or act gauzy, gaudy, flaunty. In fact in spite of guaranteed VIP specs, she showered and tied her hair into braids and hardly put effort anywhere else. To be clad in black was enough.

With Clementine worn on her arm she might have stepped her game up. But she wasn't! Truth be told, though Miyu could kill a one-man fashion show with demonstrated simplicity it just wasn't her favorite thing. She was comfortable in her Calvins, or a pair of free runs. Or hell, both. All of it! Her sports bra could double as a very tight haute crop top with a Nike logo and so that's what she settled on. It's not like Gunner would give her shit for it. If anyone were going to choke on their stripper served beverage it might be the youngest Bates who everyone knew had the entire world beat at fashion. That was indisputable. Deni favored his flickered distaste for poorly ensembled outfits, because sometimes it was a ball to watch him mumble a drag about badly tailored lengths and jewelry bound to leave the skin green. Those Bates boys!

Eyebrows lengthened over bright eyes in an even sweep and bare arch that cast mystery over her face. It was hard to tell Deni's general emotions from her face alone, even harder from her eyes. The brows pointed in a sort of aggressive way. It gave her a look of hard contemplation, plotting, scheming, overall fear-inducing if registered by the wrong person. Clementine was intimidating as hell but Deni certainly learned a thing or two from it.

ImageSo when she strolled into the club in nothing short of an ebony gym getup and circular blacked out lenses she might have had a particular air about her. One that said, "I tip cocktail waitresses uptown double your nightly income." and chiseled out in the projection of a toned abdomen. The girls were pretty and even more talented with their lust for fuckaerobics on the pole. It was not surprising to see Dom and Novi enjoying the show, or, really just Novi, and Dom hiding in her hair much like earlier that morning. Before Deni could approach to say hello, Novi had wandered to an opposite corner. Deni followed her with her eyes and much to her coy pleasure... There was Senna Z. Baaaaby girl.

Deni could have opened the can of worms but it wasn't her style. She was more clean cut. And when she scanned the blonde piece next to Senna, Gunner's brief footnotes on letdown made all the sense in the world. Deni hung back to scrutinize and snatch down a few drinks. Before long something exploded in the general atmosphere, and Bel and Novi were at it, with some small remarks from Senna and a discomforted look on her girl's face. Deni couldn't help but chuckle because the repetitive cycle of her people was sometimes just too much. There was blood in the air, anger, jealousy, more heartache than what clung to Gunner's exhaustion and it was enough to make the mortal soul sick. Sighing, Deni glanced to Aedan, notoriously known for his slightly better hand at the work Deni had just picked up. He approached Dom and then soon came Bel. Awkwardly she removed herself, uninterested in theatrics of familial war and envy.

She however didn't miss the detail of someone unfamiliar slinking in tow with November's aggravated exit... Who was that? The only glimpse she caught was some metal in the skin, dark hair. Scrunching her nose, she racked her brain for answers she couldn't find and then wandered with a drink in hand until she saw Jasper with a line winding for his affections. Or maybe it was just the opportunity to buy him a drink.

Unabashed she cleared the way and rolled her eyes and slapped a Benjamin on the counter, "I'll get you some. Save your stamina for the real freaks in the back." Chuckling, she toasted to him and collapsed beside him on a plush beanbag that had probably been Lysol'd hopelessly many times. She didn't care. She put her hands on worse things, still beating hearts. Fingered the voids that released final breaths and gave them something sweet to pass onto the next world with. But Deni wasn't so sweet, at the end of it all. She'd have to live with that in her own head. Her own prison. "Sorry to interrupt your party," she cocked her neck to glance over at Jasper's junkie pulchritude. Shit, it makes people look like they haven't slept since conception and he kind of wore it like a glove. Fascinating. She had to wonder what his insides looked like from all that crap. One day she might know. She wasn't proud to admit it, either.

Tinted lenses slid down the bridge of her narrow nose so that crystal hues could peek up at him, "I selfishly decided to make you my social slave for at least twenty or so minutes. I'm plotting." She raised her glass yet again and looked over toward Senna and her new found playmate.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: November Mae Character Portrait: Aedan Rory Character Portrait: Caroline Beaumont Character Portrait: Daisy A.
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I think there's pain in a corroded artery but the vein is charming to cadences of the sterile needle's breath; I can't feel it. It's just under the skin. When I'm nodding the vessels go black, much like any other vision I might have had of sunshine yellow garden beds. It isn't me. I'm tired. The crooked elbow niche has worn out its welcome, injection stipulated in the convection of opio-matic madness ratio'd off to starlight euphoria. Toes are numb. Consider me dead on arrival. I'm long past the porcelain skinned cocaine curiosity and I'm sick mouthed. Hellbent for heroin. My choice drug - propagated, my logic askew - fucking messy. I don't linger where the hand of stimulants would smother out my love, that right there is a sin. My baby never left me. I left him.

I've got a pile of preconceived notions tucked into my back pocket. Love letters. I've had nurturers by the dozens; I needed one. The sugar isn't sweet enough to be aspartame - my memory is way too intact. I need diabolics inverted to kindness and reversed rights, how he corrected all my wrongs. My mother, God rest her soul, always said his hands were gonna' fix what was left of me. I never let him. I should have listened to her. Should have listened to him.

The truth is I've kept him sewn like a hardback patch over my main artery. In the vest overworn but too comfortable to hand down. We lost years to steel barricades and cages. Jarred history like a witch brewed poison for love potion number 2002, we've got infinity. He got quiet for things people never knew. I carried bone structure secrets, taboo third degree burns, same sex speculations, no sweat and I'd still melt under the fixed light of scrutiny to protect him. All this protecting. He always wanted to protect me. And I'd never forget the notes in scribbled pencil, weak against parchment by the time they reached my father's mailbox and smeared with fingers so eager to express words that couldn't be spoken. They'd touch thin mattresses and cinder walls come the shade of prison night. Press hardened skin to indentations, blink in his absent thought, fall far off of reality and swallow sleep almost akin to how he did by the thrum of my drugged heart. I always hoped he wished the concrete were me. But it was selfish. And in reality I wanted for him to dream of braiding little girl's hair, kissing his mother hello instead of goodbye. I wanted him to hold her and tell her what a lie I was, how I wasn't the one. So she could wrap her arms around him to keep him from the harm I exuded by simply breathing. I wanted for his freedom and to slaughter mine with blood shadow on the pavement so that I could dry up, fade from every inch of him. I ached for him to hug his brothers without intent of letting go ever again. Not me. The truth wasn't in hearing. It was always in touching. Soul's squeezed and twiddled like the bored thumbs of teenagers, it was love, it was sickness.

I am the sickness.


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She's walking a straight line which is negated by the night before, where she dared attempt it under the glow of NYPD lamp light. This firecracker wobbled on heels excessively tall for aged whiskey and fine beige to the carotid sanctuary now painted black, and still, swindled like a swindler does. No conversation of tongues to privacy. Just a dazed dandelion smile, whiter than spring petaled Daisy, promise to be good and wait it out. He remembered her by honor roll rosters and a Bates arm around her waist. Boy, he always thought that guy was so cool. He let her off with a warning and said she didn't age a bit.

If only he knew the time put in county. If only he knew she'd tiptoed by overdosed corpses weekly. If only he'd recognize tattooed knuckles under aged metal or had any idea how they'd graze her soft lower lip. She's sure he wouldn't have let her off, if only he knew.

Direct string is tugging from taut intestines. There's a sign overhead less like the rain cloud smitten to be her companion, and it reads, "There's no place like home." Fear doesn’t taste anything short of bourbon. And her baby taught her well, so it slams back without recoil and she goes forward like her life depends on it. There’s intentions slicked in honey fire water. Denim’s dark and flush to her thighs with the acquaintance of black garter clips. She pinches one and is soothed by the ‘pop’ beneath her thumb, secured thigh highs. The floral lace slides off one shoulder, fabric ripples with the throw of her entire sway. It’s cat walk. Half time. Moves like designer wear but two busted blood vessels in the right eye speak of substance abuse and insomnia. Not Milan, the runway. She hasn't eaten in a few days but she's lustered Lolita, cherry lips quirked in contended pleasantry of wandering into a strip joint too close to home. The litigation isn't worth the hassle, she knew she was bound to u-turn without e-brakes and a whole lot of headlong haste to find an artery that used to purr in her very name. Because a promise is a promise. And she'll carry those out for him to an endless vortex, even if she's sure it's not why she's here. Here's the truth. He's the whole reason she's here.

Her observation is as slow as she means for it to be, so she scrapes over the eldest Zaire brat with mild heed. He’s choking back some terrible drink undoubted. Glancing sideways with a look that tells Daisy a bad taste in his mouth is ruining his night, or sand in the jaw. Finds the source to be a blonde patch of hair up the route of tanned legs patted by the Baby that Daisy’s baby so long adored. Fancy fuckin’ seein’ all this. She tries to snuff the nausea with a cocktail from one of the waitresses, slides a twenty under an index along the slope of her sternum. Pretty enough to eat.

There’s a kid wearing dark circles and doggish famine coasting past. He’s definitely a smack fiend, she can tell by his calculations. Takes one to know one. He locks crosshairs on Senna, and sorta’ minds his own business from there on out. Looks to Daisy like he's only half interested in the abundance of ass. Daisy can’t help but wonder just how much she’s missed from bouncing in and out of New York without visitation with those who played strings to her maudlin acoustics. She’s feeling tone deaf, thousands of dollars short, like she can’t permanently leave the stain of her lipstick on anyone no matter how good the forethought is. Like she just doesn’t belong. She remembers scattered children kicking gravel and now they’re all grown up - jaded. Bitter. Addicted and green at the heart gills just l i k e h e r. Drinking whiskey, rum, tequila with no hope for a real sunrise.

She stops on sentiment like her heel is stuck in a wad of bubblegum. Even twists her foot, uncertain why she can’t take another step. Realizes she stopped moving voluntarily on her own. She isn’t stuck in anything. A craned hand is perched atop glass, digits printing the rim and it gives a swift tick like central nerves just fired a warning shot. Her free hand goes to pin hair behind an ear, clear the vision of a dark haired beauty smirking at familiar hands finding her tresses and wordlessly asking her not to go. Daisy knows that exact flavor because she concocted it and gave reason for the acquired taste. The indigenous nostalgia's gotta' be delicious. She leans against a pillar and puts back what's left of her drink, almost admiring what he's become. Who he's trying to hide inside while grabbing hips in a necessity for something. It doesn’t hurt that it isn’t her, it just reminds her that she thought better of him. For him. Always.

For a while she's even taken with the interaction. Like watching stop motion romance alone in a theatre all alone, so that she can fully focus and absorb the chemistry. Gets so into it that she's wondering what this wavy maned mosaic thinks about when she's not with him. If she's this gentle all the time. What is dictated by public affections, and then by closed doors. For a while Daisy closes her eyes and sits at the far end of a glow-painted bar. Nothing is likely to shake her from the reverie until a blast of cold air lifts bangs from her forehead, causes fluttering lashes, too long to bother coating in mascara. She thinks it's time to rig up, maybe just grab a room and call it quits for the night. It's not that she's a quitter, it's that the unrelieved need of venom is putting clots in her brain. It's never such a painful realization. Until Dom is in her sights after years of distance packed with questions. There's a memo in nineteen year old chicken scratch and it tells of the monster under the bed, how its maiden name is Aleksei and its nails are long and black. She's reminded why she stayed away.

She finds him again. Cristobel is moving apart, the junkie acknowledged earlier isn't far off and the femme is completely gone. Daisy could be wrong, but it looks like a business transaction. Familiarized with his bobbing head. The kick of his Adam's apple and movement of indigo between lids when he's contemplating his next move. She worked with him too long, or not enough.

Could keep on writing reservations under footnotes and ideas she's been stowing since the last time she saw him. Wasting anymore time is going to be punishable by doses gone over or complete isolation - hell, both. She's just relieved to see him alive. Not that she expected much different, 'cause he fought his way through tides stacked higher than those that took out nations in a day or less. This creature, filled to extremities with muscle and oracles untold still. He's been good without her. He's still the same but better. And she's worse - just exuding faux confidence and health because genetics allowed junkie-isms to sleep well behind pout lips and smooth skin.

So fuck it.

In what feels like three hours but was only just a minute or so, she's behind him, spines parallel, waiting on a prettier ghost than she to gather the guts to speak. And fuck if she's gonna' crumble. 'Cause Dom never much made her nervous. What truly terrified her was setting him off in the worse direction as a result of being so god damn addled. But promises were promises, and no oath was ever dissected nor cultivated by hybrid desires. They were perhaps the only thing without gray area. It was so black and white, always so 'yes' or 'no'. She loved him for it. She twists and finds her posture slung like a weeping willow, arms around him and a palm snaking up. Index and thumb in a wide 'L' as always. Fanatical for favored slopes but never to choke. Just to clock the breaths so often shallow when they were this close. She leaves a finger print degrees down from his jaw, lets her mouth brush his earlobe as she states, "I didn't wanna' die before I knew someone else could keep you warm."

His pulse is against hers and steadying. He's got more history weighed in his bones, she can just feel it on him. That's what time does. She's guessing he's sutured and supposing the worst of her, but the latter might not be true. Dom was always too good in his fight for her purity and everything else. Convinced she's dreaming, she lets her body half fold, head low and rested entirely on his shoulder. It feels like home. Minor touches to the foundation, decorations tattooed traditional for integrity and endeavors. She expected nothing less from the love of her life, "I could die happy now." She exhales into him. She's not telling an ounce of a lie, she's wanted more for him than she could ever give and now...

Now.

Spills around him, kinda' falling into his lap with grace given by featherlike anatomy. He's going to hold her even if he hates her but - he'd never hate her. The mandible is rigid against sensation given to a wistful hold. She makes him look her in the face. Homesickness is tumid in her chest, so she kisses him with dirty audacity that lacks no rapture. He tastes just as good as the first time. And the last. And maybe, this is the real finalization. So when she breaks mouths to let affliction fall between, his breath like amber splash fit to drown heartache, she makes sure he feels the apology for the time lost.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Gunner Bates Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: November Mae Character Portrait: Caroline Beaumont
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The morning melted into noon, filled with tedious fact checking and obsessive cataloging of the same information she had been collecting over the last few months. It was the only way she kept focus, to keep the chaos copacetic and manageable. Combing through painfully written, tedious articles by journalist who had sold their aspirations to become novelist for a job at a the bigwig New York Times, the hours fell through her fingers like grains of sand. Her phone chirped a delightful reminder of her meeting with Senna, Caroline couldn’t jump to her feet any sooner. In her usual disheveled, artistic manner, she ran her fingers through her hair and pinched her cheeks before throwing on a simple floral print dress under layers of jackets and a chunky scarf and ran out the door - combat boots heavily treading down the hall.

Perhaps she was a little too excited, which explained why she arrived at the cafe before Senna did. As the minutes ticked by, the anxiety in her stomach grew, fingers twitching. She began to tap her fingers rhythmically against the table, trying to distract herself. Every moment spent waiting for Senna made her question everything she was doing, if it was right - if she had lost her way. Then, Senna showed and everything was right once again.


Who the fuck did Senna think she was? It fell like a fifty weight, intent scattered and inhibition splayed on the table when she pulled full eye contact with Caroline. Ran out on Gunner just a few hours ago, smeared her fingerprints over Aedan’s distended gums the night before. The ache towed in a flurry where her conscience consumed her trespass for lunch. She wasn’t hungry.

She could sense Senna before she felt her, the room brightened and there was a faint aroma of flowers that followed her wherever sh went. As her lithe, silky arms wrapped around her from behind, Caro smiled. She kissed Senna's hand, holding it with care as she sat across from her. Finally, she was here - and while Caro had spent the better half of the morning reprimanding herself to stay on focus, now that the women of her dreams was sitting across from her Caro had a hard time remembering why she had ever intended to do anything besides enjoy Senna's company. "Hey," she said softly, still holding Senna's hand. "I thought you were going to blow me off for a minute there."

Primrose pretty, Caroline sat contented across the surface of cafe oak. Not angry. No questions. Just worried that Senna might not have showed up. Leverage sat on Baby's chest as she squeezed digits against her own, pursing her lips and letting a mane undomesticated cast shadows over the swell of Aedan’s art. She’d barely managed coverage but fortunately she could beat the hell out of a skintone palette. Unfortunately the lighting was out of her control. A sigh escaped around a laugh of disbelief, “Believe me, if anyone was gonna’ bail on anyone, it would be you on me. Kidding me? Look at you.” Briefly she held up Caroline’s craned hand as if toasting to being the luckiest girl in the world for her mere company, “I just got tied up in some shit and admittedly was trying to find some new clothes since I’ve trashed a few of my favorite pieces.”

Senna was intoxicating as usual, and Caro loaned Senna her hand back for the moment, she didn't want to go without her touch for long. Caro ordered a flat white, and Senna as usual had a coffee with too much whip cream - sweet like her. Everyone attended to Senna as if she were a princess, and Caro like a stable boy they were confused to see at the same table. "Are you a regular here, or something?"

Caro knew the answer to that but she just wanted to see if Senna would lie.

Electricity ran through her at the tip of the inquiry. Tresses almost fluttered around the slopes of her facet when she coiled palms around the coffee mug, smirking with mirth, “Regular - not so much. Trouble, probably. My brother threw a fit here last night.” Wasn’t a total lie. Everyone knew each other, but why explain? What was the point of going headlong with the vines of decade old turmoil, wrappin’ them ‘round the one thing that finally made Senna want to change? Caroline was sated with the small explanation said, but moved rapidly on to the next gun-powdered-pandemonium. Senna’s face.

"What happened?"


Shit.

The one shot at fidelity went down quickly like the rest of them. But she was going down with it swinging, somehow clawing at the perimeter of a really fuckin' deep shit hole. She shifted her weight, forced down a gulp of coffee that would come back up if she didn't get it together. Rings clinked against porcelain. Whipped cream went to her index and she breathed, "I was drinking and kinda' scrambled. Last night was rough, I'm gonna' pay my brother tribute for the total shit show." An eye roll was granted at the thought of him, and the lie she was telling, "He owes me, I guess we'll see him tonight - uuuuuh..." The slip. Welp, was bound to happen, wasn't it? "Anyway, this is nothing.”


"Babe that's not nothing."

Her silence was deafening.
”Senna, I know you're your own woman, I would never to ask you to change but..." Caro looked into Senna's eyes with genuine care, "you deserve so much more than you let yourself have. You deserve to be somewhere safe, with someone who wants to take care of you. I want to take care of you Senna, I do...but you're going to have to let me in. I love what we have and I wouldn't change it for the world, but I need more. I want all of you, every single piece you've thought I wouldn't be able to understand or accept."
It felt like the words should have been forced, like she should have felt guilty, but all Caroline could feel was the sinking weight of fear of rejection.

Another fifty weight. An admission she certainly didn't deserve but wanted to greedily grab, pocket for any other dark hour. Lord knew she hadn't seen the darkest yet. Caroline spilled light between cracks, gave hope to something only aided in snow and 2AM delirium. And she was asking for all of that. And more. To have a key to the front door.

It was shaking her sternum to say it, she could tell from the way her girl was arched over the table and tension tied by things on her tongue. And she was looking like she meant it. Senna was aware of the sacrifices at hand, how they dangled from piano wire with hellbent enterprise to kill whoever dared pluck. She was putting Caroline at that risk if she gave it all. But what was love without risk? Another suicide without a letter because the embarrassment of being afraid was just too much.

"I just want you to be mine."

Yes.

Hell of a proposition, and even more of a kiss goodbye. But what about the kiss hello? The one that meant the most and was sweeter in the seconds it devoured? Senna reached to cup the tawny skin of Caroline's face, kissed her with an entirety in affirmatives, feeling her smile and thumbing twists of blond hair as she mumbled into the girl's lips, "Me too. Me too.


Caroline swallowed guilt, a pill too large to gullet, how could she lie? The line between reality and the world she had created for herself became harder and harder to discern the more time she spent with Senna. How come it had become so easy? Only this morning she had spent hours alone with the memories of running her fingers across Senna's satin skin, wondering how long the rabbits hole she had stumbled into spiraled for. Here, in this cafe, her words escaped before she could give another thought, before she could think of the consequences. What would happen when, or if, she collected the information she needed? What would happen of Senna, of them?

Biting her lip, she leaned into Senna's touch, her own hand covering Senna's delicate reach. The tenderness was genuine, that much she knew. Her lips a fiend for Senna's skin, trailing from her palm to her wrist, holding Senna's hand tight. She had her where she wanted her, why couldn't Caroline take the bait? It was dangling above, teasing her to chomp down - this was what she wanted, wasn't it? Why couldn't she do it?

Do it.
I can't.
For Ellie.

For Ellie.

Dewed eyes looked to Senna, guilt disguised as care, her best disguise. "Do you? Will you? Will you be mine?" It hurt to ask, because she knew the answer. It was written in Senna's expression, in the way she held Caroline, the way she looked at her.
Rip it quick, like a bandaid.

"Let me in, something. We can't just stay in our little bubble because it's easier, I want more Senna. I need more."

For Ellie.

The blister of clarity came like an injection of gasoline under the skin. She wanted an answer. Definitive. Commitment. Follow through. Her lips traced tickles into Senna’s genetic code and warped like an au courant drug she’d yet to get her little mitts on; Baby creased her brow and pressed her forehead to Caroline’s. Give it all. There was warfare, with feet not cold but eager to kick lines in the dirt. Screaming that she didn’t have it all to give. Because some of it was lying in bed with Gunner and his cat. Realistically, a fuckin’ lot of it. But she had to close the deal, there was no turning back.

It’s not a surprise. This is how stories of romance are unveiled in totality. It’s beautiful, and beneath the glued corners of binding there are rose petals reaching to touch fingers as they turn pages. But pages can’t be turned without a little bit of turmoil. Some... Some depth of character, struggle, agony on the horizon like a final bout of cancer that just won’t seem to stop. And Senna submitted willingly to it when she exhaled, “Door’s open. I’m yours, come on in. Todo tuyo.” A white flag never went up without a retaliating pang or rattle in the gut, but Senna could smile through this one genuinely. Knowing that maybe in her Caroline was terminus - salvation, something to be pulled from the slit stomach of deficiency and made whole again. She glowed in the dark to someone like Baby. Transgressions might find forgiveness but she couldn’t see the prospect in anyone’s good graces except for Caroline’s, this was it.


An unpredictable warmth spread from within her chest, a smile splitting across her face. This was how addictions were formed, such unbelievable highs that made you forget about the repercussions. Having Senna so close made her breathing staggered, as if at any moment she could blow it all away. If anyone was watching, Caroline didn't care - her fingers twined at the curve of Senna's neck, pulling Senna in without regard. Genuine happiness, built on a lie. She wondered if she tasted of deceit as her lips melded into Senna's, growing like the heat in Caroline's chest. If it wasn't for the inner debutante scolding her, Caroline might have just pulled Senna on top of her then and there. She tasted of sweet cream, her fragrance intoxicating - only a ping from her phone was able to make her stop, she wanted to ingest Senna all at once. She pulled away gently, a thumb brushing over Senna's bitten bottom lip, wanting more.
"Sorry," She almost giggled, giddy from excitement.
The text pulled her back down to earth.

Source 6/C:
Parking garage of Saks, 30 minutes.

"Fuck." Caroline mumbled, freeing Senna from her hold. This was big, this could be everything - but now, of all moments. Senna held concern in her eyes, guilt reminding Caroline that as deep as she was in this blissful wonderland she'd made with Senna, this was still a job. "Work - they want me to come in, some sort of clerical error." She lied, feigning annoyance "I'm so sorry babe to hit and run, but this can't wait….but you don't know how great you've just made my day."

Gathering her things, she paused to gently caress Senna's cheek. "Let's go out tonight, this time you pick the place." She kissed her, lingering because she didn't want to leave - although she'd tell herself it was because she had to maintain the facade. "I can't wait, you've made me the happiest woman in New York City." She left a twenty on the table to pay the tab, and a healthy tip, winking to Senna as she left to meet with the man who had dirt on the same people Senna called friends and family.

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The nameless source reached out to her a few months back, when the word first started circulating in the streets about the WASPy journalist that was looking into the families of Brooklyn. It started with some names, and then tips on places where they would meet or were regulars of. Caroline never asked any questions, just paid appropriately for each tip she’d be given, and wait for the next one.

She wandered through the parking lot, 3rd floor. Always the third floor. It was heavily cliched and laden with predictable obscurity, but it worked. She heard a whistle from ahead, signifying her source was ahead. He was leaning against a white van, scraggly with clothes that hung off his junkie thin frame. His skin was tinted with gray, hair in every direction - anyone with reason would ignore him, but he had yet to have failed her.

Leaning against the van next to him, she watched as lit a cigarette. He passed her a file, which she opened wordlessly. Inside were photos, placing either member of the family with questionable persons.

“What am I supposed to do with this?” She asked.

He blew the smoke in her face before answering. “That’s just a taste, I’ve got the photos you need to blow this wide open. Drugs and money exchanging hands, and photos of their connects making sales from there.” He grinned, “Get me a G, and it’s all yours.”

Caroline scoffed, “A grand? Are you kidding?”

“Don’t think I didn’t do research on you, Caroline Beaumont.” She flinched, “The New York Times, you’ve got connections, blondie.” She averted her eyes, tucking the file under her arm, digging her hands into her pockets. There was silence as her source finished his cigarette, throwing it onto the ground at her feet. “So, I’ll take that as a yes. You’ll hear from me soon enough.” He stomped out the cigarette and walked off, leaving her alone with her thoughts.

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The invite for the strip club was more than surprising, but all the reassurance Caroline needed. She filed the new evidence into her locked cabinet, pushing it to the corner of her mind. It was show time. She showered and changed, not much of her wardrobe was made for a night at the strip club, the closest thing she had to scandalous was a sheer pastel pink dress that skimmed the tops of her thighs, laced up the side to show the fair skin up her torso, the soft cusp of her chest. Senna was about to finally bring Caroline into her life, and Caroline looked like she was going to cocktail happy hour with the girls. She tied on the strappy stiletto heels and grabbed her clutch, sending Senna a text that she was on the way as she got into an uber.

Her stomach was doing flips, her underarms sweating. She lowered the window as they drove into Brooklyn, trying to regulate her heart rate. Here it goes.

Senna was waiting outside, her heart fluttered on first sight, and then everything was okay. Everything else was just static, her face painted with genuine happiness. Her arm snaked around Senna’s waist, pulling her in for an unashamed kiss - gathering some whoops and hollers from the line. Her lips smiled against Senna, sliding her arm down Senna’s torso to hold her hand, and squeeze it tight. “Let’s go.”

Senna led her inside, the room heavy with dead dreams and whiskey. Caroline had a hard time not letting the writer within her start writing in her notepads just in that moment. She had been in strip clubs before, but nothing like this. There was an edge of danger, and the women were perfectly formed from her own personal dreams. She felt like a kid in a candy store, gaping at the merchandise. Senna seemed amused by her own reaction. They took place at what seemed to be a VIP section, joined by who she recognized as Cristobel, Senna’s brother. Senna introduced the two, but if he had any interest he feigned it poorly.

Senna and her didn’t pay any mind. They couldn’t keep their hands off of each other - at least Caroline couldn’t. Whispering sweet poetry into Senna’s ear, still giddy with the affects of their newly established relationship, Caroline noticed she gathered the stares of a certain family from the other side of the bar. She recognized November sitting on Dominic Bate’s lap, but his stinging glare managed to pierce through her mane. “I don’t think those people over there are to happy about us.” She joked, grabbing at Senna’s leg, pulling her closer. Bel glared from the other side of them. Caroline wasn’t making a good impression.

When she looked back over, November was making her way to the side of the Zaires. She glanced over her shoulder and offered the first warm expression Caroline had seen besides Senna’s. “Don’t worry about my boys over there, they just like to stare.” Caroline smiled, clinking glasses with the girl as they introduced themselves to one another. Cristobel stole the chance to grab Senna, pulling her to the side. November seemed to have lost interest in Caroline, sauntering over to the Zaire duo. Caroline fidgeted with anxiety as the intense stares from the Bates end of the bar continued. An argument exploded between Cristobel and November, Senna returned to Caroline’s side, obviously trying to ignore the drama. Caroline gave her a confused look, which Senna answered by rolling her eyes. The drama escalated, November broke a glass in her hand, throwing it at the latin firecrackers feet. Caroline flinched, withdrawing her feet. November stormed off, and a bleeding Cristobel bode them farewell before taking his leave.

Wide eyed, Caroline just looked at Senna - doing her best to not express judgement. Instead she just smiled, giggling a little. “Holy shit, that was amazing.” She squeezed Senna’s hand and pulled her in, crossing her leg over hers. “Does shit like that happen all of the time around here? Who needs a fucking T.V. when you have this?” She giggled as she kissed Senna sweetly, running her fingers up and down her exposed legs. It wasn’t an ideal situation, not from a journalistic perspective, but as a romantic Caroline was just glad that she hadn’t gotten into an argument with someone.

She looked back over her shoulder, where the Bates had been unexpectedly joined by Cristobel. Biting her bottom lip, she looked back to Senna. “Is it just me, or does it seem like some people aren’t too happy to have me around?”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Simone Bates Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Chloe Williams Character Portrait: Hani Kim Character Portrait: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: Aedan Rory Character Portrait: Caroline Beaumont Character Portrait: Deni Pogsley
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You'll feel better when you wake up...

Gunner didn't. Not if he was being honest. Deni's chipper tone resonated in his panging skull. A reminder of where he needed to drag his ass, if he didn't want to hear about it later. He'd read the message beeping across the screen of his phone. Strip club? Bronx escort. It almost made him snort. He smothered his cheek against his pillow and exhaled sharply. Imagined his bones shifting back into place. His thoughts shivering in sequence, huffing out the blooming ache already setting roots in his chest. Fucking pathetic.

He'd support her anyway. Always did. Always would. Needn't whisper anymore words against her birdcage collarbone. In the cress of her hairline, threaded behind her ears. That was gone. Those moments. He wondered how long he'd miss them. His hand drifted next to his face, palm-down. He drew it into a tight fist and dragged his tongue across the back of his teeth. Probably just as long as he'd miss Bel. He'd long burnt that bridge with his familial silence. Buried his chances when he walked away. It was a Bates curse that would continue nipping at his heels. A fine line he walked. Two sides that adhered to his sensibilities. Promised sharper knives and no distinction between right or wrong—silence or wagging tongues. Either way, they'd feed him to the dogs.

Just a matter of time.

Blue curtains stretched out to allow a lick of sunlight into his bedroom. Crooked enough to offer a beam of the outdoors. Gunner watched Dominic toil in the garden. Hands turning over the soil and occasionally trailing across the petals. There were sides, angles, slants of Dom that most people would never see. Wouldn't have the opportunity to see. Not like this. Hunched in the sweltering sun to transplant flowers from one spot to another, in order to keep them alive. Like he did with all of them, really. As much as Gunner strong-armed anyone threatening his older brother, and his business, Dom operated in the background. Pulled invisible strings and tipped over dominoes. Kept him from stepping over any lines he wasn't aware of. Kept his chin tipped over the surface. Kept him from drowning.

This was Dom's garden. All of it.

He was just a part of it.

Maybe, the angry-looking spotted lilies tickling against the window.

He didn't mind.

...swear to God I'll make up everything and more when I get back one day.




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Strobes of red and blue danced across the walls. Painted them into strips. Revealed slavish tongues and hunched hounds tapping knuckles in perverts-row. Velvet-covered seats riddled around the circular stage. Closest to the gyrating, hip-swinging girls crawling on their knees. Buckling down for dollar bills, slipped into lacy thongs. Winking long-eyelashes and puckering full lips. Gunner noticed. He might've paid them a glance. But he wasn't interested. Not his gig. This wasn't his scene. But Dom was here—so he was too. A gun in hand. Nothing more, nothing less. He'd been here before. Of course. Knew where all the exits were located. Recognized familiar faces weaving and bobbing in the crowd of hounds. The smell of sweaty bodies greeted his nostrils as soon as they ducked inside.

Seedy business attracted all likes of gun-totting, smack-dealing gangsters. Besides what normally happened behind closed curtains, transactions occurred. Alliances were made. Blood swilled together. Fingers twisted and sometimes, fists were drawn: cocked and loaded. Why they would pick this place of all places to do business? He didn't know. He supposed only crooked cops sniffed at their heels. Here to have a good time, like everyone else. Bulky bouncers kept the place under lock and key. Kept goodie-goodies from wandering too close. They were wolves and dogs and beasts curtailing whatever herds they claimed. The whole damn place felt like a smothering blanket pressed up against his face. He didn't really want to be here, but in that grumbly haze of self-pity he'd promised Deni that he would and if Dom was here, it was his business to be here. Supposed he might've enjoyed this a bit more, under different circumstances. Running around with Bel and Senna when things were simpler. Now, not so much. Everything was complicated.
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Gunner slipped in beside Dom and sat alone. Shrugged off wandering hands wrapping around his bicep. Mumbled when shots were shoved in front of him. Ignored the croons of birds who craned over his bulky shoulders, whispering that he should just have one drink. Some of the girls knew him by name and stopped in to say hi. Knew all of the Bates and Zaires because their parties often carried themselves here. But, he wasn't interested in any lingering touches. Didn't want to bring anyone home with him. Besides, he wasn't the type of guy to rip into some hapless girl if it didn't mean anything. The only necks he wrapped his hands around were those he put down. Exposed collarbones and soft fingers in a place like this hid claws and sharp teeth. Opportunists who dug into leather wallets and fled at the first sight of daylight. As wretched as he felt, he didn't feel like filling in those spaces with a warm body. He leaned his forearms across the clean counter top and glanced sidelong. Noticed November sliding into Dom's lap as if she'd been there all along. A sultry kitten wrapping herself around him, sans purr.

He noted Simon sweeping through the doors with Hani clipped to his elbow. Fashionably late, as usual. A smile almost tipped across his lips. Stopped-mid twitch and settled into a frown. He inclined his head. Nodded to acknowledge that he was fine. They were all fine, in one place. Seeing Hani step into a place like this made him feel odd. He was, however, somewhat relieved that she'd come with Simon. He trusted no one else to accompany her. Even if they hardly talked anymore... he wanted her safe. Wanted what was best for her. He doubted it was Bel. Problems clung to his heels like weights. Threatened to send him to the depths: drowned him. Even so, he was relieved there was someone to wipe his knuckles clean. Pull him away from himself. Temper the anger that bubbled and threatened to spill over. He was a bomb sizzling at both ends. Couldn't blame him. If Bel was a walking grenade tick-ticking away, he was the one dancing with lions. Cawing for a death-wish.

It didn't take him long to notice Dom leaning back in his seat. Gunner followed his gaze towards the Zaires. He would've been lying if he said he hadn't noticed Senna walk in with the blonde bomb shell. Felt the sickness rise in his guts, green-envy that made him turn his head away. But now, Dom wanted him to look. So he did. Could see the clear distaste coloring his features. Dragging his lips down into a scowl that spoke volumes. He didn't want her here, so close in his vicinity. He wanted her gone. Probably wanted him to wring his hands around her pretty little neck to make her disappear. He couldn't. Wouldn't. Not to Senna. He said as much before looking away from them. He turned back towards the counter top and stared at his battered knuckles. Opened his hands, stared at his palms and crushed his hands into fists, “She told me 'bout her.” Barely a whisper. Only audible to Dom, and maybe November, if she was paying attention.

Fucking pathetic.

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Giggling pair of girls leaning into each other like proper lovers. Kissing necklines. Whispering sweet-nothings in plain view. It only seemed real when it was right in front of him. He'd support her, that's what he'd said last night. Whispering in a euphoric tundra, wasted under the weight of such a promise. Lingering in the warmth she left behind. Gunner tapped his fingers and ordered himself a whiskey. He normally tried to keep straight while watching Dom's back. Normally sniffed snow to keep him focused on the task at hand. But his head still bugled like a pair of drums and liquor had the auspicious numbing effects he craved for. He threw his head back and finished the glass before turning back towards Dom. Surprisingly, Bel had joined him. Probably bristling at the sight he'd seen. Seemed like even ladies weren't exempt from his watchful eyes. Baby always deserved better. He tended to agree.

Another body occupied the space November had left. Slinked in when he hadn't been paying attention. She wrapped around Dom like a scarf. As if she belonged there. Gunner wondered what Nov would have thought about that. Would she bare her teeth? Mark her territory? Scream at the top of her lungs like she'd just done with Bel? Would've been a sight to see. Nov was a firecracker. Dom had the habit of attracting explosive women. The kind who would build you up and destroy you in the same breath. He didn't say anything. It wasn't any of his business who Dom chose to fuck. As long as they didn't dip their toes into any of his own affairs, it was fine. As soon as Bel leaned into Dom and pointedly called Caroline a snitch, Gunner finally twisted towards them. He probably looked like shit. Exhausted, trying to conjure something up. A warning. Something that didn't sound like he was agreeing that something should be done. Despite the quiet wish tickling at his bound fists, his expression shifted. Hoped the spite didn't leak through too clearly.

It took everything in him to grumble, “Don't fuck this up for her.”

This wouldn't turn into a fucking shit-show. Not on their account.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gunner Bates Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Jasper Callaghan Character Portrait: Caroline Beaumont Character Portrait: Deni Pogsley
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Jasper had just tilted a glass to his lips, the burn drowning out both vice and physiognomy for the time being, when he sensed Deni slide up beside him and offer to buy the next round. Jasper normally wasn’t one for people or socialization when he was off the clock, so to speak. With his usual targets being busy and what not. But as she toasted to him and collapsed into a beanbag, eyes glowing witch-bright in the dim light, he couldn’t fight the Cheshire cat grin that formed on his face like a cruel mask. He never turned down a handout. Jasper set his glass down just as she started in on her spiel -- "Sorry to interrupt your party." He teetered between apathy and sympathy; between wanting to leave altogether in favor of fixing some problems of his own, and wanting to both caress, purge, and cut her riotous skin against his own sallow and sun starved integument. He doesn’t comment. Not at first. Breathes in the scent of revelry, lets the alcohol simmer with his knuckles pressed to his lips. "I selfishly decided to make you my social slave for at least twenty or so minutes. I'm plotting."

“I’m flattered,” he turned to look at her with an amused hum, only partially slighted by the fact that his unsolicited attention wasn’t going to be channeled into something even the least bit sexual. She slid dark lenses down her nose to reveal equally dark machinations and Jasper followed her gaze with curiosity until it landed on Senna and a blonde piece he didn’t recognise. Ordinarily, he wouldn’t think anything of it. The romantic conquests of other people didn’t concern him until it needed to. But this wasn’t about him, and after finding within himself some semblance of a fuck to give, it didn’t take long to compile the collective leers around him and take a guess; no one wanted the outsider around Senna. Or alive. Whichever came first, and he’d been around the scene long enough to know how that ended. It was a valid concern, he supposed, even if he felt Deni’s worry was well trodden and ultra common - the protective hovering of a concerned friend. Nevermind that that shit was corrosive and counter intuitive to self preservation. “You plotting against that?” Jasper motioned towards the blonde and Senna with a tilt of his chin before giving an enigmatic snort of indifference. “Good luck, babe.” Jasper had made a domain for himself on the fact that people often met their nightmares not in dark, sinful alleys but in angelic faces, so he knew first hand the difficulty of convincing someone their nascent fascination was no good.

Not that he thought it would be particularly hard for anyone in the Bates-Zaire circle to literally remove her from the equation; the amount of uneasiness centering around her had him inclined to believe it needed to be done. Perhaps he knew first hand, maybe not. When you carve your name into someone’s side, strip aside all the sinew and muscle to reveal the raw truth as you are, and they still don’t listen. Insist you were soft. That’s when you need an outsider with clear vision to snap you out of your daze. Even still, Jasper smiled sharp at the edges, teeth flashing against the prussian blue of the club with the kind of satisfaction that only comes from recognizing the hiss of another as the same as your own. That’s how snakes find each other, after all. That’s how he knew for sure she was trouble. But Jasper also couldn’t think of any way that solution - decimating the blonde - would add up to one big happy family. Where cynicism and malice and hereditary responsibility muddied the blonde bombshells image, Senna must have seen refracted light and he could only imagine the outcome should they turn her into a goddess misremembered; two deaths instead of one.

The fallout would be glorious.

“I mean, I’m sure you’re fantastic at what you do,” (peel my skin back and show me). He set his eyes back on Deni, “and it’s awfully noble of you to take up for a heartbroken friend -- Gunner’s your stake in this, yeah?” Jasper reached behind him for another drink, swirling the glass in thought. It wouldn’t hurt him to take a few notes in regards to who was connected to who in this web of debauchery and death, but he could assume, it being a given that Simon and Dom were otherwise preoccupied the other night, Gunner was who she had some kind of relationship with. “But you can’t ignore the fact that there’s an obvious fuckin line to roast blondie over there, a line you’re at the end of, let’s just be honest. I doubt you’ll be able to swoop in like the sexy anti-hero and save the day,” Jasper thought out loud with a snicker and swig of his drink.

“Anyway, anyway,” Jasper held up both hands before he could slip into a rant, “lemme shut the fuck up before your twenty minutes go by and I have to charge you somehow.” It was as much a revelation as it was a joke, seeing as Jasper’s affections were fleeting and wild at best and his hands were much too small to hold ineffectual infatuation unaccompanied by a chemical cocktail. He ran his hand through his hair with a sigh, maintaining a quiet air of reticence while his thoughts began to shift to something more pressing and personal; his own personal demons. Of course, he wouldn’t be killing his off anytime soon. Only keeping them copacetic and well fed. What he’d give to permeate his tissues in premature death right now. “What’s your plot, babe? Lay it on me,” a brittle and cruel sound as he propped an elbow on the counter and rested his chin on a closed fist, not at all meaning to sound patronizing and yet unconcerned with the challenge of his timbre. Given that Deni was neither interested in him nor offering him something of value, there was no reason for him to placate and purr. And fuck him if that in and of itself was Jasper's own and only form of amity. This was a no sympathy league, and yet a fleeting fascination had him abhorrently hopeful that she'd get what she wanted.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Gunner Bates Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Jasper Callaghan Character Portrait: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: November Mae Character Portrait: Aedan Rory Character Portrait: Caroline Beaumont Character Portrait: Deni Pogsley Character Portrait: Daisy A.
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⟝BEL⟞
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Glittered linings. That's something a person isn't likely to see in the city, save for whatever light is at the end of the tunnel. It's probably nothing more than the fractal luminescence punched through broken glass. All silver, promising. Aftermath of a rigged accident, exsanguination. It could go any way. The sports were messy. People, messier. This life is so rarely forced and more frequently chosen by the brazen and well - admittedly hopeless. Determination and purpose are abundant, but success... No. Crack pipes lead to cracked pipes upside the head. Fingers dipped in ivory, the daubed white-on-gum necessity, familial struggle, blame games. Homicide ordered straight up and the rocks aren't ever desired because this fucked hack job of a Brooklyn birth has come to recognize corpse rot as victory. Welcoming death is one thing, playing it is another.

The feeling of hell is smug and snug when the cards are laid right, but Bel's deck was coming up awfully short. He rolled fragments of shot ware in his palms, let the pace come slow, a memento of his muñeca storming out and swearing no return. Blood trails were painted on the cage of a fresh beverage and he jerked uneasily when Gunner side eyed the small (yet totally necessary) exchange between his brother and Bel. He tasted the Maui undertow and their first cigarette when he glanced at G for the only time in years, where there was no intent to snap. The vaguest nod was given, the bold cut of his left shoulder tipped barely enough to let a diadem fall in the event of negotiating with saboteurs. Slugged a drink. Slid the gratitude, bloodied and emptied, right back down the counter. "I don't condone brutality to women. But make it slow. She smells like tabloid." His pitch was low. Unforgiving. Gunner wanted for a different approach - his words stuck to Bel's temple and rolled around in fine print in front of his face. He could have mulled those over. Could have given his old friend a serrated question about why it would 'fuck things up' for Baby, but there wasn't a good reason to go there. It was proof enough that Gunner still stood behind Senna, and wanted her happy. Even if things had gone to god awful shit between Zaires and Bates. They all cherished their Baby. Bel, considering his particularly rigid personal state, was on the opposite edge of usual demeanor when he chose to appreciate the middle son's plea. Did that mean he would honor it? That Dom would honor it? That anyone would step down from the precondition of snubbing a threat when they saw one slither up to their Baby? Fuck no. But it was appreciated. Bel dug his heels into the proposition, its consummation. Tonight was no night for salted wounds and a decade under a burned bridge.

This changed nothing, the malice still burned red hot. Dom was reassuring. Short and to the point. Bel had seen the slightest traces of human proof on this earth simply vanish the way flies do when coming within a few inches of the Dionaea muscipula, for that man's creed. This man. The one who put the grinding bone in Bel's mouth, because he cradled the matrons Bel would die for. Because they loved what Dominic gave them. It wasn't material, it wasn't capsules catalyzing euphoria or sleep. It wasn't money nor drugs nor comfort. In the end. Dominic was a creation crooked, fell not foreign but something scarce all together. He had stories to tell yet stopped when those he looked after grew into heavy shoes. Now, his Seabreeze scrutiny was overlaid ashen with the cold only a life of dirt and dissolution could bring. The kind of chill that gets up under the sheets and clings like ivy. Howbeit, everyone wanted for what he gave even if he felt like it was nothing. He gave everyone all of him. And that's why Bel would always lose.

Image"Gracias," resounded like a prayer on its last leg as he frisked the length of his chops with a laden mitt, and he didn't look at either Bates boy when he closed, "For understanding." Funny how a stalking sociopath with a slaughterous shift didn't cause extreme dismay, but she did. Bel sewed it up terse not for heredity and hate, but her. He didn't forget her. How she could fuck things up for the business, when it was still a combined effort between Gotti and Andres. It'd been years easily since she had the audacity to come up in a stomping ground she was so happy to abandon. That she dared show her pretty little mug at all was mystifying. That she fuse it to Dominic's shoulder with aweless address, like she belonged anywhere near either party, was criminal. Her black hair spilled over him and hailstone hit where his heart should have been. Bel watched Dom, motionless and aware. That his Juliet forgot her suicide but not her lines and come all the way home. What a cue to fuckin' bail. This wasn't his war, Bel knew that. But damn it all if he didn't want her laying in an icebox on top of sweet Caroline. It appeared as though some loyalties would lie forever, deep and devoted.

Baby bangs were swept askew as an aftermath of a tempest caught between buildings will often do. The slope of her frame was violently more woman than he remembered, without any remnant of girl in sight. Her eyes: bambi ballistic with unapologetic nostalgia. Skin tight, soft at the chasms and just begging for attention. But the universe knew only one man could have it, could have all of her. And it made all the sense in the world that that man would be Dominic. Perhaps this churned the contents of Bel's stomach because it was the same with November. And Baby was gone with a wind now whispering the name Caroline, then a sour reminder like Daisy rears her pretty, little sick head....

A junkie's a junkie.

A shiver rattled the looming six foot something of stone cold Zaire blood, and skirred through the rest of him like the residual whir of electroshock. A chatter in chassis generally unheard was raining from his very being something akin to clammy condensation. Fuck he'd hate to admit it, but he was feeling a disheartening lack of oversight. But some things just had to be. Was he going to let a pack of brassy beauts go sending his BP through the roof? He couldn't, there was only one worthy of that shameful gut reaction and she was no longer present. His mind was looking for her in spaces she swore to never touch again. A closure glance granted the sight of Aleksei offspring unfurling in Dominic's lap. Sneaky kitten. "Mother fuck," he breathed sharply, knowing trouble when he saw it, "Shit." She had ten rangy perennials between two hands and the evidence of their ache was in the way one framed Dominic's jaw. Like she was trying to relive the last time she'd done the same or crawl inside his pulse again. A man's remorse was little different from a woman's, save for the pain not so quickly donned at first blush. Daisy was like Dom in that way. Just a fraction of the heart sore smoking gun, dangling from her index, and Dom's... Pinched between canines on the tip of a tongue that would never admit he was dying slow in her truancy. Why'd Bel know it so well? 'Cause that's how it felt for mere minutes November spent away. Then the hours came like ballast on the chest, and days, edacious acid to paranoia. What would weeks and months feel like.... Years? He didn't know. He didn't wanna' know that kind of pain.

Finding unconditional love in a mephitic tomb might as well'a been considered null. Novi gave Bel the unthinkable, but had she not given it to the eldest Bates son, too? Did she leave any for herself? And how would she manage the production of her well-given passion upon this blast from the past hassling slants with few spoken words? Daisy was softer. Moved with satin persuasion and murmurs, where November would purr into a switch blade. Nothing between Daze and Dom was a secret, but shit everyone at the club ought to be glad November wasn't around to witness. Selfishly, Bel half wished she was. But on his private mission to tearing down the yellow-haired outsider, he had to take things with a grain of salt.

He could see her giddy surprise. The bouncing melodrama, as though she didn't expect a show coming into a drain arena where the upper end dancers only sold their pussy for septum solved diamonds and aphrodisia was just a testament for sobriety consigned to oblivion. Whatever her shtick was intended to be was looking more and more extra the longer Bel hung around. He couldn't take much more of her thigh grips on bebita. And when he'd had his fill, tank brimming on myriad, he saw Dom spilling Daisy out of his lap and found little reprieve. It was knocked when she took it with some fucked up sense of confidence, slinking off of him. She expected that. Why did Bel want to see her hurt? Secrets saved for another episode but surely not forgotten. Daisy watched with hacked curiosity as he moved to Aedan and turned his back entirely on her. But she was never once surprised, did not sink with disappointment. In fact her face said something like, "Yeah, I deserve that, but I knew it before I came in here." And what did the vixen do then but fucking smile right at Bel. Not at first - she reserved that for the one she loved, t h e n put her sparkling gaze on Bel. It was bound up, sent a dizzying punch to his nerves and by instinct he barked, "What the fuck are you smiling at?" A grin slain short, she let her head dip and shake...

[/i]"Good seeing you, kid."[/i]

He didn't stay to watch her leave. He had to go first, save the words at a dry broil lodged in his neck for a different night. What could have been easy fun and gags between watching Jasper pull sad souls and Deni verbalize loathing the ever loving shit out of Bel, turned into a bad break up scene decorated with a copious amount of unwanted guests. The two previously mentioned had sidled up in a cozy corner. Gossip twisting the space among them, no doubt. Deni's devious eyes were downcast gray and beside her, Jasper swirled a drink and looked at Bel's little sister, wildly entertained. He couldn't stomach any more.

Whether it was one dive bar or the next that riddled him more a disease than a man, he wasn't sure. Morning would split across the upper atmosphere and all too soon. It would tell him he'd had too much, thought the least, sold everything he had on him at the time and lost his jacket amid it all. Impiety had taken him to bed, dispatched without a pause for breath. Another night in so called paradise. So the theme went. A thin sweat licked his skin; with its weight came hollow holes around goggles that saw the world too clearly. Before the sun could amplify another ugly truth he saw himself home. A ball and chain didn't have her arms around him, nor vice versa. There were no sultry giggles to accompany hell himself or follow him from the bar. Seclusion got the nod, opted and appropriate. Maybe this was the only time he'd ever chosen something even half right. The devil sung quietly in an echo of Bel's dragged route, told him not to go home, promised with perched wolves under a sheep's disguise that if he just took a taste of his own product he might feel half the heaven that his girl was. But he wasn't a fiend. Had little in common with the likes of Jasper. Aedan. Daisy.

He shuddered. Tornadoes had better chances of landing on his destination than he at this point, but amber and fire were out through his ears and chasing the persuasion of evil into a new day. Nothing left of it. He had to get his shit together if there were any hope at all of being productive – being at work. Bel rounded a block, his block, six times exactly, before sliding lock bars by keyholes to find sanctuary. It was nowhere in sight, not by stoop or doormat. Familiar things that should have given breaths of relief were only miserable fuckin’ reminders that this life was getting too heavy.

There was something resting on him. It was kindred to sleep paralysis, only he wasn’t sleeping. He was painfully awake. It was lamented as he locked the door behind him without anyone to accompany. “Cómo puedo hacer que esto funcione… Mierda.” A drink intent to induce numbness swished, he loosely grasped it and leaned into the island counters. His place was dark. There was no need to put on even the lowest of lights, to convey he was home. The shallow of this dwelling was barely occupied. Not even Bel could say he was entirely there, that he was utilizing space for anything other than bare existence. Wallowing could ensue, but he was also not entirely sure that he was sad. Cartilage to bone ratio twisted in an attempt to communicate agony, and he realized he’d been holding every bit of tension in each limb without regard for how rigid posture would feel at the end of the night.

But he didn’t get the chance to relax. Not when a shock of sound put its desperate hand through glass – and this, apparently, had also become a recurrent cadence to his life. Bel saw no color and no pattern, didn’t even snap on the hard wired end of impulse for his piece. He could have killed with his hands and felt nothing. So it was.

In fact, the padding gait was almost leisure. He contemplated pulling his shirt off as though this would be the last step in his nightly routine before curling up in bed. Something was out of place, and he hadn’t felt it by the crunched autumn in the air. He’d long switched those faculties off and blinked away a brief smear of intoxication as he peered into the hall, where the visage of something gory and blurred let itself in. Or was trying to. Such reckless nature fell behind the commotion. The tender rupture went on fumbling and Bel’s oxygen deadened when he recognized who just busted out the oblique window of his front door. Headlong, by the last branch of survival and just desperately grappling for anything. Anyone. S o m e o n e.

She was looking for one person.

A call for him crawled out of her like an art passed, giving up the ghost. She broke her way in so soon after swearing him off. Only as a skeleton of what he’d seen hours earlier. With track marks, with bruises – with things he didn’t put there. That no one should have put there. Things that simply didn’t belong. These monstrosities wrapped about her in brushstrokes of blue, yellow, black. Drew her a piece of horror fiction now bound for the sad reality of Brooklyn and its inescapable consequences. Consequences Bel was ready to kill for. Sapless bract was lost in her hair the way his digits should have been, and she was lost in this juncture of assault. Disgrace hit him first, then bitter ferocity that could only be compared to a need for extermination. The inability for a ticket, dirt paid and maladies washed away had him wordless and scooping her, childlike to the table. China shattered as he cleared it for the body barely breathing. Risen in his throat: potent tenacity lost. He felt less than human, useless to have possibly let this happen. It would have been easier to swallow rocks than say anything. And everything said, everything jeopardized between them was forgotten.

“Hey,” he croaked, ashamed to speak to her, scared to touch her for fear that she may disintegrate and seep through his fingers, “Hey, baby.” He moved across her face so vaguely that he wasn’t certain he could sense her warmth. Terror was so rarely experienced for him in this way. Maybe he’d felt invincible to a fault, now it came to a head and he didn’t know how to meet her flesh with his for the first time since they’d met.

ImageScared. Plain scared – and what did this mean she felt? Had been feeling? Who did this to her? His animus needed no discourse. The things he was going to do were unthinkable but he wasn’t going to ever let go of her again. “I’ll kill them,” he promised, forearm scantily across her, “And you’re gonna’ be alright. Lo prometo, mi amor. Alright? You hear me?” Everything given came hardly over whispers, dashed by daydreams they didn’t get to seize before some sick son of a bitch had his fix with her body as a conduit for a barbarity even Bel didn’t play. “What can I do?” How could he even supplicate at the darkest hour – one of which the vast majority was spent on his part, wasted, fucking up, not being around. He should have chased her out that door. "I love you," leaves were combed away by his tedious efforts, "I love you." He should have let her know sooner.

He should have done it different.

But things were gonna’ be different.

From here on out.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Gunner Bates Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Chloe Williams Character Portrait: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: November Mae Character Portrait: Aedan Rory Character Portrait: Caroline Beaumont Character Portrait: Deni Pogsley Character Portrait: Kaelin Rory Character Portrait: Daisy A.
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»SENNA«
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Pierian.

Childlike diversion came and went like the poetry of sinners. She'd never taken a step beyond the boundary known as bereavement, not to fall from seventy stories and be cradled by the crumpled coffin ladle of automobile wreckage. Nor hideously overdosed, reemerging with baby pink lips confounded, chest swinging. And certainly not alongside a lover, beige inoculated, their nerves a tangled mess of bare vigilance as they on dying breath shrugged at their syringe delinquency. But she had known the afterlife well. Had she not, she wouldn't recognize the charisma of its opposite. She was not ready to eat the crows of Brooklyn. She wasn't ready to die.

Senna shifted in the corner booth of fluorescent swept debts, not in part - quite the same as show girls. Her declaration of refusal was between the palm pulse of she and Caroline's grasp. But something about the guarded and unapologetic audits of her brother, even his sworn enemies, had her admittedly in a state of microscopic reconsideration. She knew after all, bringing Caroline into this place was proliferated with threats.

Not pretty, the colophon of Senna's light switch love interest had all eyes on herself and her shiny new right hand. This tool, not by any means meant to be, was garnering extra attention. No comity left. None expected. Her best guess is that life goes on, and she abides quietly with a pull of the hips. Caroline fell into her lap in a way that was beyond close for comfort to those around them. The euphoria behind shocks of dandelion hair bespoke of being wet, i n e x p e r i e n c e d. Untouched. A dusky pout was always in place, but she substituted it for a coy rock of her mouth which cracked corner vague into a smile and puckered to trace a slender neck. Senna knew what she was doing, that, they were looking for a show, really. She’d give it. Besides, the club was burning out in terms of holding her attention. Even with the blowout between Bel and November. Caroline, on the other hand, seemed overtly giddy.

“Has its days,” Senna sighed, drink in hand, leaning back into a cushion, “All dogs do.” Of course the feline like presence of the room belonged to maybe Chloe - Deni. One or both, and quite frankly, Senna had ashed the cigarette of her excitement and patience long ago. A bad feeling settled into her gut once Daisy showed up. Everyone could pretend like they didn’t see her, but she was hard to miss.

The warfare of nostalgia set in heavier than the bruise across her brow, and she leaned her forehead into the structure of her counterpart, creasing it. Burdensome, really. Nostalgia and sitting across the room from someone she’d just shared a bed with. A bed she didn’t want to leave. What was worse was having Daisy slide in, half kimono’d with her tiny waist and inky hair cast around her face the way it always was. It forced Senna to remember better and worse days. The latter perhaps warped her brain in a way that couldn’t be imagined even by the psychos she loved most. Speaking of psychos, her eyes grazed the shell of Aedan shortly before he up and disappeared, and pondered his presence in a way that might have said, “I bet you feel real proud right now.” And she couldn’t knock it. A heroin hedonist with the lacking in brakes made for a hell of a night and she couldn’t hate him anymore than she could have asked him to do her again. But when she recalled the lie spun like fine silk to fall on eager ears, protecting her now girlfriend, she kept her scrutiny up off of him. Avoided him like the plague.

Messy, messy.

Yeah, she knew it would be. It always was and it didn’t tend to clean itself up in a jiffy when things looked up, either. Perhaps the worst part of living in such a cesspool was less the people and more the circumstances and routines bred by them. There was an old saying about how once something manifests, it stays in motion. A body in motion tends to stay in motion. All that, and what not. Which meant the world of physics was granting evil immortality with little ramifications and plenty of bloodshed recoil. It made Senna mumble, “Mother fucker,” out loud and slam her drink back to counter herself immediately, “I’m tired.” But wasn’t everyone in the place? Yeah, they were.

And then there were the unidentifiable silhouettes that she thought familiar, but couldn't see long enough in the right strip of light to really know. It all felt too dangerous suddenly. She glanced over someone hollow, someone like something she already knew too intimately and watched it fall devil wise toward Chloe's company.

I gotta' get the fuck out.

A better shelter than shadow, Gunner sat up next to the baron with a sort of invisible mass cloaked around him. He looked just like she’d left him, maybe worse, and she didn’t want to tell the difference. Didn’t know how the hell she could take something so good and twist it up in her feeble hands, but she always managed to. Dominic wasn’t long for the likes of this place, and that was to no surprise. If he couldn’t hide in Novi or someone else, he’d dip alone or alongside the next best thing. They all loved lotus eating more than the beating of their own souls, but sometimes it was a close tie out. Much as they all thought they were alone they never really were. One cat always dragged in another. So the mess went. Over, and over, and over again.

ImageIn the company of wolves a person often finds that creature alliance is a fickle son of a bitch [no pun intended], yet somehow lays like the fruitful peace of a treaty between tandems that have accepted a common enemy. Everything was so fucking mercurial. Usually she didn’t want to complain but she was sodden with the strain of her free choices and was sick to death of being in a room full of them, past and present. She thought it better to peel out quick while the wounds were still kind of dry. Ripping them raw didn’t seem an alternative, she just wasn’t going to allow it. Not with tensions strung tighter than a guitar Dominic would rather smash than play or, traps rigged up right under everyone’s nose. Didn’t it just seem like, these days… They were all waiting to fall in on each other and lay their shit bare? That right there - the impending bloodlust? She forecasted it daily and watched the dam get a little weaker every week.

“We should cut this place,” she kissed it into prettier words, “Solo tu y yo.”

She couldn’t be paid to keep the baggage of everyone else’s evening and knew well enough that she had to keep hers in check. Some things weren’t fair. Well, about three hundred percent of existence wasn’t. She’d made a wrong turn or five and needed to bust the u. Maybe home. Maybe somewhere warm, under the covers or between Caroline’s thighs.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Gunner Bates Character Portrait: Simone Bates Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Chloe Williams Character Portrait: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: Aedan Rory Character Portrait: Caroline Beaumont Character Portrait: Daisy A.
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#, as written by Wiley
Aedan Rory
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Spend your life in the underbelly of the world and a thing or two will start to become ultimately clear. For Aedan, it is the gray spectrum of rights and wrongs that don’t quite add up to coincidence when facing each other head on. It’s in the way he lives, hard and fast without breaks to slow him down. It is currently in the way that he is already plotting every single way he could torture the screams from Caroline’s quivering lips. Every tool he could use to get his very way, and it is brought to life in vivid detail by a mind that has already experienced so much carnage in so little time. He thinks at first that he hasn’t been noticed, his quiet arrival just barely announced. Mind still working over details of the past few days he’s had.

Somehow, life has been exponentially crazier as of late. Even his most busy days have not been this insane. Or, insane by his standards for that matter. It seems that things are slowly falling apart, a downhill sliding snowball. Eventually, he thinks, it will all come crashing down in one earth shattering instant. He wanders what could possibly be the catalyst, but would just as soon not know the name of their downfall.

He has been noticed, as he knew he would be even if his presence was a silent one. He could not stop himself from being drawn to Dom, just the same. Besides, who better a partner in crime than the established eldest of the Bates, a son of indifference, if only with the hundreds of miles in between. Aedan itches to be beneath his skin, to shred bits of flesh with a knife made by his own hands. Intimate degradation in the form of bloodletting and savagery. He would just as soon accept the same treatment from the man before him, an act that Aedan does not take lightly.

“Plans tonight?”

Nothing tonight, or, if there had been his schedule had quickly been cleared in the span of two spoken words. For Dom, his night was as endless as it would have been for Senna. It wasn’t every night that Aedan found himself freed up from the constants, the clean ups, the cover ups; the jobs that got his blood pumping. More so than the accounting firm ever could – that place with its business suits and barely concealed clutter would eventually be the death of him. Jobs that left him waking in the middle of the night panting for more and wondering when the next would come his way. Sure, he had plans, big ones and small ones that all amounted to his own sordid pleasures but on this night, for once, he is utterly at the mercy of his whims.

A dangerous thing indeed.

He takes the drink, a lifeline as usual, something to distract from feelings that don’t quite meet the surface. Exterior as always cold, but that isn’t the fault of anyone besides himself. Aedan couldn’t express normal human feelings if he took a class on it. But for the people he actually manages to tolerate the presence of, its much different. People like Senna, Chloe, and…Dominic Bates; whom is on a different planet altogether. Where he finds obsession in Senna, and friendship in Chloe it is in Doms presence that he finds peace – a comradery that cannot be explained in words. Its only in eye contact, the silent exchange, that they truly communicate. That above all else has always served to calm the raging storm behind Aedans methodical mind.

“Depends,” Aedan speaks low, swirls the liquid in his glass before tossing another glance to the girl whom had caught every stray bit of hatred within him. Would she be the final straw that breaks the camels back? If he were to act on his whims would Senna ever forgive him? Did she have to find out…. No, she would always suspect him, anybody would half a mind would suspect him, but nobody needed to know the truth. Just like any other job. Any murder in this city could easily be contributed to him, but nobody ever really gets to do more than suspect that he has had a part in it; Aedan prided himself on being a silent killer, and someone who could hide his jobs better than the rest. Most bodies that get discovered aren’t his work – no, he knows better. But every once in an infuriating while it happens. But he learns, and continues on from those times.

Now, on the other hand the muted side of him worried - well, as much as he can manage the feeling of worry, about involving Dominic. He had no issues leading someone down that road. Yet Aedan felt oddly territorial over the act of torture.
“Do you have plans tonight?” Unfortunately, his next furtive gaze cast towards the girls reveals that they have departed. One chance missed, but planning this out is the best way to go anyways. He wonders just how far Dom would want to take this one. Aedan didn’t doubt Doms own yearning to rip the blonde limb from limb. His own yearning was driving him madder by the second. Besides that, the drink mixed with the rest of his daily activities began to hit him. He wanted more of this feeling. Basking in the glow of hedonistic pleasures.

Somewhere in between a string of thoughts Aedan was rudely interrupted by his phone. The quick procession of buzzes bringing his attention to his lap, where the screen lit up. He barely glanced at it, mildly annoyed at the interruption. Of course, he expected to be contacted by Chloe at some point, after breezing past her earlier; he’s surprised she has waited this long so far. The text made no sense to him, she was asking about life insurance? As if he would give her that information. He set the phone aside after sending a blank message and returned to staring at Dom.

Dom made it all the worse, Aedan had not quite realized how far under his own skin the man had gotten. And was both annoyed and intrigued by how easily he accepted the feeling. The mutual understanding that came in silence. The darkness that Aedan often caught in Doms eyes when he thought nobody was looking – Aedan was always looking, always seeking out those moments. He marveled at the way the other could be so privy to so much knowledge and yet act on so few things, admired it really, for Aedan had never had that control in his life. In a few words, it was a complete turn on. For someone who stole control at will, the idea of another having control felt mystifying.

“There are things we should probably discuss anyways,” He acquiesced, unaware of the fuzz that settled in his mind. The atmosphere shifting from a fast dance to a slow crawl. He knew the conversation wouldn’t be so much that, as it would be a series of unspoken words. Silent looks, and noises of agreement or disagreement. “And, you could always tag along.” He didn’t explicitly state the plan but the implications were there. He knew by the way he spoke and acted that Doms problem with the blonde were just as big as his own, and Aedan could see that having Dom along would be beneficial either way. He could manage with his territorial side, if only to watch the other become stained with blood.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: Aedan Rory Character Portrait: Caroline Beaumont Character Portrait: Daisy A.
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The past is wrapped around his throat and even though he can breathe here he can still feel her presence. His blood is rushing through his head and clouding his ears, reminding him of days spent on the shoreline pressing shells to the side of his face; wondering if that was really the ocean he could hear or if that was just another pretty story his mother used to cover up the deeds dealt in back rooms.

He rolls his head on his neck and scratches at the skin just under his hairline, stares across the bar at clear liquor brought to life by neon lights. He hurts and he itches something awful and the things he knows refuse to leave him alone.

“Don't fuck this up for her.”

He blinks and sees his Baby, flowers threaded through her long dark hair, holding her arms up to him and a bright smile across her face. The world is in front of her and he should have been there to make sure she got it.

"I don't condone brutality to women. But make it slow. She smells like tabloid."

He blinks and smells blood, feels the welcoming crust of it under his nails. Copper and iron, sweet and salty, and he wants more. Wants to paint the floor with it in a promise to keep he and h i s safe. It’s his job. His purpose.

"I didn't wanna' die before I knew someone else could keep you warm."

He blinks and he’s young and home and her fingers fit perfectly between his, always have. Her wings shed feathers and broke off but she was still golden, still his, still everything he’d ever loved. They’d heal together. He needed her.

No.

He needed Novi, to fix what she’d broken.

“Depends,” Aedan’s voice is low, cool like the edge of a freshly sharpened knife, and Dom feels a wave of relief just at the s o u n d of it. He’s not like Daisy. He’s not warmth and hope. He’s not like Novi, not fire and protection. He’s ice; unforgiving, unrelenting.

Dom might not need him, but he wants him. Like he’s never wanted anything.

There’s nerves here, but he thinks he likes them. Thinks of them in the way his father talked about, so many years ago. The knowledge that one wrong move could fuck up everything and for once he actually cares about that. The nerves are sobering.

There’s no pretense here, not with Aedan. No games he has to play, no sanity he has to keep. Daisy had known him better than anyone in the world, but she’d pulled chunks away when she left. Novi had learned to read between the blanks, fill him in where she could, but with Aedan...with Aedan there’s understanding.
The rational part of him says that should bother him. That ‘understanding’ means Aedan knows too much, sees too much, but there’s a thrill in that too. A familiarity, of sorts.

He shoves his deposition for daisies back down where it belongs - pressed between pages and hidden in folded photographs - and lets anything else unimportant fall from his mind. He doesn’t want to be who he is right now.

He’s tired.

He’s done, just for a little while.

He finds peace in the cold and comfort in a murderer and that’s good enough for him.

For once in his goddamn life he’s going to i n d u l g e.

He watches Aedan’s gaze dart to Senna and can’t say he’s surprised. She’s got more attention on her now than even the girls on stage, and she’s putting on a show. He covers his distaste with a drink, but his fingers tighten on the glass. Promises made meant that problem was his problem, and he definitely intended to take care of it.

He can taste the flare of Aedan’s own hatred even through the alcohol on his tongue, and thinks he probably won’t have to take care of this one alone. Although there’s really only one solution to a problem such as this, and while it’s Aedan’s calling card it’s his responsibility. Something he has to be a part of. It’s a little foolish, perhaps, but it’s not like he’s going to be able to hold Aedan back anyway. Though he wonders which one of them will act first.

“Do you have plans tonight?”

He smirks, slightly, because the answer is always ‘yes’ in one form or another. Moments to himself are few and far between and rarely grabbed, because something else is always more important. Tonight, however, his cravings are too persistent to ignore, and the only thing heavy enough to move him from the Dingo’s side would be a bite from the man himself.

He watches Senna and Caroline slink away, and knows from the set of her shoulders it’s because she’s uncomfortable, and he wishes she would have known better than to bring a snake into a wolf den, no matter how shiny the scales. Part of him is ready to move, push his glass away, take care of the problem then and there.

The other part knows better.

Subtlety is his strong suit.

He’ll wait.

He opens his mouth to answer the question he was asked, but the buzzing of a phone cuts him off. His hand curls into a fist against his knee, fucking i r r i t a t e d, but Aedan’s attention doesn’t stay distracted from him for long. Which is good, he thinks, he doesn’t get it nearly enough, and he’ll be damned if someone tries to take it from him.

He’ll slit even Chloe’s throat if he has too. Which he might, if the name that he saw flash across that screen was correct.

“Not anymore,” he decides on the subject of ‘plans’. Because any plans he may have had went out the window the moment he laid eyes on the demon hanging off of Senna. Or when Novi left alone, in the wake of a fight. Or when a memory decided to spill itself across his lap. No, he has no plans. Except to maybe forget himself a little bit. Let Aedan take over his night, for once. Daisy’s appearance fucked him up, and he can’t find his footing.

“There are things we should probably discuss anyways.” Discuss is a funny word for them, because as a pair words between them are so incredibly rare. “And, you could always tag along.” Ah, there it was. Something no one else would be able to pick out of their conversation. An invitation.

A fucking heavy one.Image

His hand hesitates as he lifts his glass, but he presses it to his lips and tosses back the last of his drink. It burns, but he’s been long accustomed to that feeling. His tongue swipes across his lower lip before his his teeth drag it into his mouth, and he breathes steadily through his nose before he nods. “Yeah, alright.”

“I got used to the cold.”

He sets his glass down, stares at Aedan for a moment, and thinks...he definitely could.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Gunner Bates Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Jasper Callaghan Character Portrait: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: Aedan Rory Character Portrait: Caroline Beaumont Character Portrait: Deni Pogsley Character Portrait: Daisy A.
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»SENNA«
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Taking propriety in the midst of a blood war was easier said than done. It called for grace executed in a ‘pour oil on troubled waters while holding the candle of an open flame’ way. If anyone could have done it, it was probably Persephone.

But she was nowhere to be found, guesses were as good as the next and who could have the balls to conjure something so pure to the playing field of something so prosaic? She’d better be found at the foot of woven ivy. Some golden tide not Brooklyn brewed ‘twix brack and packed banks with the bodies, stories of a dozen boys and girls too curious. Not within the company of purgatory and its endless bidding. Far the fuck away from this place. Where flowers are immortal, likely, and halo’d changelessly to dark hair and eyes transitioning from glass to innocence without a single missed beat. Something like paradise. Something better. A place to go to rest. With pastures to shelter the sempiternal sleep deserved by bones too weary, somewhere far the fuck a w a y.

From one chimera to the next, Baby has kept most of her second selves as well as the third to herself. Especially when it came to Caroline. There’s no reality realer than the one she’s stumbled through under strobes, the trickle of a cocaine nose. Felicity is a cheap thrill plaited between plastic and dust; fauna is a part of her she’ll never get back no matter how many petals she settles into her mane. There’s only one person in the entire universe who’d take every reflection of Senna Zaire, blackout or glowing white. And he wasn’t by her side for the sake of her happiness rather than his. Morbid and mordant, the girl is a fucking criminal.

Because whether she’d like to admit it or not, things could never just be. Not inside the earth that abided by only a scorch policy as per Bates y Zaire divinidad. Dios bendiga, amén and all that shit.

She pulled on the skin of her wrists with more loathing than the recovering junkie bedside to a suicide watch one too many times to think that there was romance or understanding at the end of the road. Had seen too much and too little. Of course in all things knew, that there was some fleeting gone and hell if that ain’t ironic. But Baby was going to take what was hers even if it wasn't truly hers, because it presented itself with an open palm and, "Thank you for bringing me here." If that didn't beg her name in the dark, then nothing did anymore. She'd taken an albatross to high heeled soles when she left, though, finding a rasping difficulty lodged in her throat that abjured something about 'goodnight' to or from Gunner. The atmosphere was the equivalent to a bed of stones and she shouldn't have missed his so soon. But they loved each other, right? No wishes, blankets or words were needed for that. He knew just as well as she did. Hoped he did, when she passed by and disappeared from the awkwardness that had probably seen much better days, even between these two families.

ImageYou could love hard, that much was true. You could try even harder, and screw your courage to the sticking place while lacing up the shoe because you knew all along it God damn fit. But fate is fate, and it always has its way. If it doesn't want you there, it'll put you here. The bottom line isn't when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. It's that lemons are bitter, there's no shortage of them and get fucking used to it, kid.

It was one thing to accrue all the bad publicity worthy of a scandal but another to then have the judgment of Deni from the corner curled up to Jasper. It all hit like steel to lungs, and Baby was taking credit where it was due with maybe just a pinch of salt. She couldn’t even begin to wrap her head around what those two were saying, and how bad it might sound at the tail end of Flip’s sarcasm mixed with the skewed haze of Jasper’s current state. Whatever that was.

"I'm just glad we got the meet and greet out of the way," somehow she managed to purr it, blushed luminescence fallen like lace to her counterpart and flawless in New York darkness, "Now we never have to do it again.” Anxiety was hidden behind a laugh that she let out like a shot, followed with a gradual gesture of a thumb to baby hairs the color of dandelions. Caught at the sugar and liquor of a kiss no sweeter than cloud nine itself she relinquished the thought. Instead, raked fingers in a daffodil copse and tangled them there. And wished she could have held it longer, pressed into the person she’d laid a lot on the line for. She tried to wash the images and sounds from her head, hoping to summon the nightly blur she traded for this. But all was fair in love and war – yeah, something like that.

Yet the questions and reminders steamrolled Senna like a thousand knives. Who – what – why. It’d be some kind of lie if she said she didn’t expect it, the problem was she wasn’t ready so God damn soon after unraveling years of confidence and secrets with her best friend, someone she loves. What was worse was November and Bel having a very typically November and Bel quarrel, all eyes somehow on Senna and Caroline instead, and Daisy blowing in like a late guest to her own debut and even that was very much the same. She guessed most things didn’t change, no matter how bad it was wanted of them.

Then there was Dom, sidelining and side-eyeing with blues intent for something coldblooded. Aedan followed in suit. Call a spade a spade. The devil was at work even when he was clocked out for the evening all because he had the right mortals playing for him. There was proof in that, catching the sleepless gaze of an addict who loved getting his hands dirty beside curious silence that secretly had a niche for such disaster. It was trouble. All of it always was. Dominic couldn’t help himself, his Baby knew that from afar – one too many cozy evenings spent with Daisy in withdrawal taught her well. Teaching an old dog new tricks wasn’t impossible, just highly fucking unlikely when the proclivity ran this deep, up like a tempest inside the brain of sobriety on her behalf. Fuck. Fuck.

F u c k.

ImageIt was alright, really, she’d known the language of double dealing since she stopped daydreaming shorelines and honest livings. Probably just found it a little too hard to look Caroline in that paper tiger face of hers and swear it was all just nothing. Another day of bullshit would be one too many, but she couldn’t cut to the chase any more than she could cut her own fucking drugs. Damn. Had she really become so fond of gambling? The inquiries sent her around the bend, but she feigned humor, passed it off, sat passenger to Miss Caroline and the divine honor of her companionship. Crossed fingers and rosary would be needed to keep her around, in spite of the most intoxicated infatuation. Senna hoped.

“It’s all a long, boring story,” lies pushed through her teeth like drying concrete, “November and Bel have an ongoing shit fest of a relationship. My friends and family are over protective. November doesn’t work the club, from what I know. But who knows. Who knows with any of them, really.”

She did.
She knew all of it.
Hopefully that truth wouldn’t find her in the morning, or the next day.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Jasper Callaghan Character Portrait: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: November Mae Character Portrait: Aedan Rory Character Portrait: Caroline Beaumont Character Portrait: Daisy A.
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ImageHe finds it almost amusing in a morbid way that after her his eyes always seem to linger on sickly pale skin and doped up veins. Like that was his t y p e, male or female or something in between, didn’t matter as long as they loved smack more than they loved him.

It crossed his mind every time he knew there was a Callaghan on the floor somewhere in his house. Like he could smell black tar the way a hound could smell blood. Tried to ignore the fact that it made him want to lick his lips and stake a claim on something that was hardly Simon’s (and definitely not his). A road best left untraveled by all accounts, although that didn’t stop his mind from wandering.

The r e a l problem, the sign he can’t ignore, comes in a form most would label the devil and others would hardly look twice at. Aedan Rory was ordinary in a purposeful manner, but not to someone like Dom. No, for him, his heart beats fast and his hands shake slightly, a feeling of nerves best left in a teenage boy that he doesn’t even have the memories of nostalgia for, because he’s never been here before.

Aedan handles his withdrawal better than Daisy ever did, he learns, but it’s still not fun. Wonders why the hell he does this shit to himself. Is it punishment? Is it a fetish? Is he that fucked up?

His saving grace in this sin is Novi, but his attraction to her lies in the very basis that she is nothing like a concrete daisy. There’s a certain draw to the lack of commitment that speaks to his i s s u e s and the knowledge that she’s not his anymore than he’s hers. Because the last time he belonged to someone it didn’t end well. But November is a seasonal flavor, and she won’t last forever.

“I don’t fit the criteria that makes you hot.” Almost two decades passed and those words still wrap around his mind as clear as the first time they ever fell out of Daisy’s mouth, mischief in her eyes that weren’t yet as dark as they would become. Even before there was dirt crusted under her nails she knew him too well.

She didn’t make him hot. Neither did Novi. Therein lied the problem.

But him.

He’s a familiar taste.

Ice can get so cold it burns, and he’s played with Aedan before but this time it’s different. This time there’s i n t e n t. This time he’s hellbent for a little frostbite.

His brand of poison is poison itself, and he wants them just as much as they want the needle.
***

The weeks pass by in a haze of bourbon, cigarette smoke, and Aedan Rory C a r o l i n e Beaumont. It’s messy logic that the lines of a Dingo’s throat when he breathes in nicotine soaked air is more imprinted on his mind than the ink of her news reporter ID, but he’s never claimed to be as steady as outsiders looking in assumed.

These few weeks particularly because his world has been thrown off balance right when he thought nothing would ever shake it again. Daisy’s the ghost of a memory he’s always seen on shady street corners when it’s late out and he’s had a little too much; but he k n o w s she’s nearby now, might break his neck doing double takes, wondering where she is, what she’s doing.

He doesn’t allow her to take up a permanent residence in his mind only because he has a job to do. She’s not back for him anyway, regardless of what promise was made. Like she’d said, she can die happy now, and he thinks maybe...he needed the closure just as much as she did.

His first day is a plan. Formable, solid, dislodging every other responsibility in his book for a girl constantly covered in baby’s breath. If he has anything resembling a soul left it’s only because of her, and Miss Beaumont poses a threat he can’t tolerate. Not for her, not for family.

Seeing Aedan back to back, two nights in a row, feels dangerous, but he needs a partner. Bel’s not an option despite their on par thinking, and Gunner drew his line and stepped across it. Dom would label him a traitor if he wasn’t already well acquainted with the fact that Bate’s boys often got into trouble mixing their hearts with business.

That fact, however, should have kept him from going to Aedan altogether. But really, there was no one else he trusted to get the job done. The little things he could have done alone, waited until he was ready to place a hit, but he found himself sitting across from the Dingo before he realized his feet had taken him there.

He buys him a drink. Tells himself it’s because he’s rusty. Doesn’t remember how to get his own hands dirty - been too long since he’s had to.

It doesn’t sound convincing even to him.

It really doesn’t when he says, “I can’t offer you blood...but maybe we can make a B&E just as fun?” and Aedan’s response is only the slightest smirk before he downs his glass of amber liquid and stands up.
***

ImageShe’s too easy to pin down, like she either doesn’t know or doesn’t care, and a refurbished warehouse even in a place like Buschwick isn’t enough to stop them. Aedan is seamless in entry, footfalls as quiet and unnoticeable as the man himself, analytical as hell and smarter than him.

It wasn’t much, a lived in block with the kind of stagnant air that claimed no one was around to breathe it much. Hard worker, laptop gone, personal effects unimportant. Tabloid he thinks, nothing is as important as the job.

As the story.

He runs his fingers over the scruff on his jaw and knows Miss Caroline is far too pretty of a thing to not have come from somewhere. A somewhere with loving if overbearing parents and a nice little safety net waiting for her to fall. She didn’t belong slinking her way through the underbelly of Brooklyn, he knew that, he was sure Baby did as well.

She was a transplant dandelion, and if Dom knew anything it was how to move a plant without killing it. Even a weed, if he could just convince it to move.

Disorder and disarray weren’t his preferred methods of anything, caused his teeth to set on edge and the hairs on his arm to stand, but it was the best way to say someone was in your space and meant no damn good. A warning amplified by the seemingly normal front door.

He walked, and left destruction in his wake.

He lost his sense of time, enough so that it was only the feeling of a steady gaze on his back that eventually pulled him from what he was doing. Aedan was standing in the bedroom, a picture frame hanging in limp disinterest in his still raised hand, expression blank as always except for the mild lift to his eyebrows that spoke of clear judgement. Dom wondered briefly how long he’d been staring.

“What,” he mumbled, even though he knew exactly what. Stealth was usually the name of the game, but Caroline had an option B, and Dom wanted to at least say he’d given her the chance to turn tail and run. Something in his gut said she wouldn't, but he knew he had to try. For the purpose of being allowed to say he was a g o o d m a n.

Predictably, Aedan understood that, because instead of answering he simply gave a shrug and tilted his fingers enough that the frame tumbled from his fingers and smashed against the ground. Dom breathed out a chuckle despite himself, and the hint of amusement in Aedan’s gaze when he passed left him feeling like this was worth it.

He left the frame on the ground.

Locked the door behind them.
***

ImageCaroline.

Caroline.

C a r o l i n e.

They watch the way her hands shake. The way she checks over her shoulder like someone might be right behind her. The way her smiles seem fake when she directs them at anyone. She grows comfortable again, eventually. Soothed by a goddess, unable to leave h e r behind.

ImageAedan.

Aedan.

A e d a n.

Sitting beside him in the truck, long legs stretched across the floor board, chin resting in the palm of his hand, expression to all the world bored but eyes alight with the thrill of the chase. Dom’s aware he’s dangling her life like a piece of meat in front of a rabid dog and he wonders if Aedan will bite before he says it’s okay.

Image

Caroline laughs when Senna holds her hand.

Aedan smirks when Dom finds his double meanings transparent.

Caroline kisses Baby like she’s made out of porcelain.


Image

Aedan goes through a pack of cigarettes in two minutes flat.

(Dom gets caught up in the way smoke looks tumbling out of his mouth.)



ImageCaroline goes to work. Goes home. Goes to Senna.


Aedan’s withdrawal is slow, but he hides it well, handles the side effects with a loosely curled fist and closed eyes. Accepts nicotine and alcohol and doesn’t say he needs more. Oh, but it’s still m e s s y.


Caroline has a news reporter ID.

Image
Aedan sits at the desk in his office, drinks expensive bourbon filled to the brim of his glass, doesn’t bother to say thank you. Pours over notes and documents, rubs his thumb over his lower lip slowly, runs his hands through his hair.

He walks when he thinks, arms spread out, drink in hand, finger pointed to enunciate thoughts Dom can’t hear but knows.

Caroline...


ImageAedan lights his cigarettes with both hands, opens his eyes slowly when smoke blows across his face, offers the lighter but Dom shakes his head because his throat is dry and his hands aren’t stable.

Aedan rests his head in the doorway when he waits for Dom to be ready, raises his eyebrows at things that have to be in their place all the time, doesn’t say anything. Doesn’t dare. Dom flips him off anyway, because he knows.

Aedan finds that amusing.
C a r o...

He looks good in the moonlight. Looks good when he walks, fingers in his pockets, gaze crossing over one shady building to the next. Checking things Dom doesn’t think about anymore. Visibility. Acoustics.

Weeks have passed.

She’s still not gone.

He thinks of the first time he had to sit Senna down in the garden and explain to her that even though they were pretty, a weed is a weed.

Not worth the save.

Oh, but does he want to d r a g it out. Make it s l o w. Because he a c h e s something real.

C...

ImageAedan sits him down, they talk something serious. Not so much in words, but in nods and glances. Aedan watches him out of the corner of his eye, Dom tilts his head back, gives a nod. They’ve got this.

It’s not the first time Dom’s dropped cash on a dirty deal like this. Not the first time he’s bought out a Dingo’s service.

Not the first time he’s enjoyed it.

He loves the way Aedan’s eyes look when he talks about m u r d e r.

***

On the last day, he gives in.

Oh, he’d known they’d been leading up to this moment, he just hadn’t wanted to admit it. Hadn’t wanted it to end.

He fills a glass, drops it in front of a salivating Dingo, presses his hands to polished mahogany and murmurs, “Alright. You can have her.”
Aedan s m i l e s.