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Chloe Williams

0 · 2,196 views · located in Brooklyn, New York

a character in “Dirt & Opulence”, as played by Bartholomew Finch

Description

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Name
Chloe Williams
"Its a pseudonym sweetheart,
I wouldn't tell anyone my real name willingly."


Age
29

Gender
Female

Sexuality
Bisexual

Occupation
Thief "Escort"

Affiliation
The Zaire Family




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General Appearance

Clothing Style
Chloe's no ratty dresser, always on the finer end of things even when she's got to scrounge for clothes from the goodwill or places of similar caliber.

Oddities



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Likes & Dislikes

Weaknesses & Strengths



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Personality
"What can I say? Evil is what evil does."

Don't let those pearly whites fool you, she'll bat her eyelashes one moment and rob you blind in the next. All sharp edges and stone walls as high as the eye can see. She's got her fair share of baggage. Oh, she has plenty of chips on her shoulder and nothing to remedy the cold coursing through her veins. But there's plenty of things about her that sings true of her wisdom. Chloe's always been the bad girl hiding behind a pretty face. An experienced con artist with a thirst for drugs and destruction. She may not be the best friend you have, but she'll certainly be the most capable; give her an inch, and she'll take a mile.

Its a grey scale world with Chloe, nothing is ever black and white. Good and bad do not exist in her state of mind. She'll do whatever she wants to do whether its conceived as bad or not. Nobody else matters to her, just herself and what little sense she has left. While she isn't exactly super friendly or chat-material she doesn't say no to casual conversation over a drink. Though she'll probably down as much alcohol as possible in as short a time as possible. She has a fairly conflicting personality, on one hand she craves affection but on another she detests getting involved with others. It just makes it harder to cut things off when the time comes.

But don't underestimate her, behind the act is a predator, ready for the takedown. She'll hunt her prey for days, weeks even if it means a big enough score. Hobble to prey and reap the rewards. Though her attentions are often dragged away before she can get that final piece of the puzzle into its slot - she often makes off with enough to make up for her lack of focus. Many people see her in a purely superficial way, and to be honest she has the confidence and guile to be that kind of shallow. Her drive for relations have always been her down fall, she may be the kind of woman you wouldn't show to your mother, but she is still the kind to seek connections with people. No matter how shallow.

Her addictions have given her a sort of sour outlook, and cravings that often leave her in a state of distress. She enjoys being fucked up but only when she isn't hitting that blackout peak. She hates waking up not knowing where she is and has fallen victim to Oxy overdose one too many times. Her other addiction however is more than enough sated most of the times; Sex. She's a weird one, a fetish riddled beautfiul mind with a tendency to freak out even the most kinkiest of bed partners.



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History
"There are plenty of skeletons that I've left behind..."

Daniel [Last Name Redacted] | 32 | Ex-Husband Dearest//Actually A Pimp™
Nora [Last Name Redacted] | 10 | I'm The Mother Of The Year
Mark Williams | 64 | Not A Pimp™
Daima Ebru | 24 | One Night Stand Heiress
(Cats) Tempest and Khoshekh | Both 2 | I'm Not A Lonely Cat Lady I Swear

Born with a silver spoon in her mouth yet never satisfied by the price tags on her life. Chloe may have been born to the wealthy but she has never been one. Addicted from a young age, a bored teen with nothing but her own thoughts and a boyfriend who was more than willing to pump her full of whatever drug it took to get her nice and prepped for whatever friend he decided to bring over for the night. It's not a surprise that she wound up pregnant at age 18, but it is a surprise that it didn't happen earlier. So little Chloe had herself a child and due to her parents insistence married the poor sap that had claimed title of her boyfriend.

Dosed up nearly everyday of her pregnancy. Chloe had no time to prepare when little Nora decided to come out a whole month early. An unfortunate event that left both mother and child in the hospital for some time. Norah had come out addicted to the conglomeration of drugs that had coursed through Chloe's blood every single day. A hole in hear heart and a frail immune system. That's what the doctors told Chloe as they tried to guilt trip her, knowing about the drug use but in her state they couldn't do much else about it besides file a report to CPS - and certainly nobody wanted that extra paperwork piled up on them.

They observed mother and child for a number of days until Nora was fit to be sent home. Chloe can say she tried to take care of Nora all she wants but the postpartum had set in thick after leaving the hospital and through the haze of opioids and xanax she could barely take care of herself. Leaving husband dearest to take care of the baby at nearly all times. Chloe was not fit to be a parent, and she would not pretend otherwise. But dammit, she loved that little girl even if she never spoke it aloud or acted like she did - but taking care of her would have been tainting the child and she wanted no part of what Nora would eventually grow up to be. So she did the next best thing and signed away her custody to her parents.

While she stayed with her husband for a number of years she knew that eventually the prostitution would catch up with them, and she disliked being under his thumb. Never seeing a lick of cash they would get from that night's hookup. She loved the drugs - but she wanted out of the restrictive lifestyle that he was putting her into. She snapped one day, packed her bags and took every last penny she could find in their apartment. She wandered the streets for a number of days, worried more about her next fix than what she was going to do with her life - until she met Mark Williams.

Now Chloe is no fool, and when an old man approaches a young woman offering her a place to lay her head and a job to boot they probably shouldn't take up the offer. But there was something in the way Mark offered it, something instinctual in Chloe that told her that this man wasn't what he seemed to be. It was enough for her to say yes. Over the following years Mark taught her things that she would have never have learned to do on her own. His teachings gave her the insight she needed to do well in the streets. She built herself a new home with a new name, among the dirt and impoverished until she could work herself back up to what she had been before. But she could never leave the streets, they were her home and somehow she had learned to love living among the scoundrels and heathens. In fact, she craved the feeling of sin.

While she has had limited contact with her daughter she does send her postcards every now and again, if only to let her family know that she is still alive and kicking, though that's much more than they all deserve.

She set up her own service as an Escort, though it was much more than that in the end. Chloe would lure in the poor suckers and rob them of everything they owned before they would even notice. She stayed with Mark for a number of years, until she was well on her way to being able to care for herself. Cleaned up of hard drugs - though still a slave to Opioids. She eventually caught on the the bigger fish in the area and has for a while now been affiliated with the Zaire family, and buying her drugs from them. While also unfortunately getting caught up with a foreign heiress come to visit, and juggling work and pleasure.


So begins...

Chloe Williams's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hani Kim Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Jonathan Moore Character Portrait: Chloe Williams Character Portrait: Jasper Callaghan Character Portrait: Simone Bates Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Gunner Bates Character Portrait: Jaehyun Kim Character Portrait: Junko Takayama Character Portrait: Sienna Henderson Character Portrait: Julia Bates Character Portrait: Leigh Ann Chu Character Portrait: Nikolai Malkov
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⟝BEL⟞
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The Brooklyn sub rosas, cage and coop of something bound for victory and moved on the backs of rats who dreamt for better lives. Puppets in buildings by the string yanking of a cosa nostra sensation. Labs go east, west. North. South. Between. Pocketed in those non-English-speaking districts where the cards are cut just by bare management. 'Cause it can go one of two ways: riches or ruin. These stockrooms range from coffee houses, basements, titty bars, to crack dens. Each front has its purpose. The mass production of analgesics, opiates and stimulants is the foremost. Branded Zaire.

A familiar theme 'round these parts is the devil's song and frequent libido to dance to it. The opposite of the bible is the parables written in this place, where indulgence is courtesy of opted intent for dirty glory. If one can't find it in an empty wallet and scattered teeth of a sidewalk, they will find it in the rippling of their blood after selling their soul. Euphoria is never too far for the willing hedonist. But prestige? Big guns never lose it when they're unafraid, against the odds without hesitation toward the next spirit they break. It's why this neighborhood is gutted down the middle.

Two kings. Two houses.

Bel sat under the crown of cold hard cash. He'd accept nothing less in the absence of his father. His former brother in arms, Gunner, resided on the diametric side, with significantly less losses. It was because of this that Bel found himself at war even more so internally than out - the agony behind painful self questioning never garnered him reason. Never explanation.

Why was it that, as Cristobel and Senna's father became a ghost, Gunner got to speak to his one last time? Why in all of this, did Gunner's spine stiffen to a formidable code he wouldn't break, not even for his best friend? Why wouldn't he tell anyone anything? Why didn't he want the family he grew alongside to have closure? Why in Andres Zaire's memory, was there only the aftermath of Gotti Bates and his perpetual stain on Bel's family? Why did any of the Bates stay in New York? What gave them the nerve? How was that family name still remotely alive in the streets? Was Bel just fucking their only daughter in the name of some sworn counter play? Was he next to be taken out? These things were contemplated quietly. Inside the glock-tapped-temple of none other than Cristobel.

ImageHis morning routine involved casting aside his blatant love for Julia Bates and all the vindictive poison for the rest of her bloodline. Somewhere beside the discarded sentiment was likely an empty bottle, Rolex, and an iPhone loaded with missed calls. A few inches beyond the dangling wrist of a mattress ornament. His nocturnal penchant. Sun stream trickled through the window and ignited the curves of her silhouette, glittered on dark hair but failed to lighten under eye shadows. Cocaine coma. She was nameless and catered to, he was a stack of Benjamins richer. Bel inhaled the aroma of some catty perfume stuck to his sheets, half lidded, hand down the front of his boxers. A lone thumb lazily grazed Calvin Klein's in a hazy blur of ink. Just another successful night in paradise.

The rough skin of a tattooed palm came down his face at the realization that morning was actually noon and noon was surely ticking past 2PM. With a knuckle slide along the ribs of his clientele and concubine, he murmured, "Muñeca I got shit to do." No movement. He assessed his stubble from mandible to chin point, waiting for a response.

“Vamos,” he snagged the comforter from where it rested just enough to protect her dignity below, tugged on one of her ankles and gruffly spoke up, “Salir. Now.” The baritone spilled out of his mouth in autocratic excellence without room for second thoughts or apologies. Not like he ever gave either, anyway. The Latina hissed in recoil, “Yo sé cómo funciona!” She went vertical, suddenly turning the rounded tip of her nose up and gathering material around her naked frame. He was pleasantly surprised by her comprehension, being that it was almost impossible to recall whether she spoke English or at all the night before. “Cálmese. I don’t wanna’ fucking cuff you. No te hagas ilusiones.” It appeared she was mocking him, but he attributed it to her beauty sleep being disturbed.

“Nobody owns Cristobel Zah-ree.”

It appeared his generous assumption was wrong. Nope, this was home-brewed loathing. But all he could do was furrow his brow at the rolling of her tongue around the syllables of his name and let a grin split across his face. There was real anger behind the full red mouth that was barking at him, stainless cotton falling from her grasp in her audacity. As her dialect proceeded into a flood, he scrolled through his phone, acknowledging the common case among all of the texts. More or less a block party at The Little Lady which would be warped into a business opportunity the minute he stepped foot on the property. Live music, good food, maybe they’d even open up the outdoor dining portion if the sun stayed at it. A cocked eyebrow hit when the firecracker threw a hand toward him, breasts jiggling at every point she made, babbling about him not even listening.

Had to love the sass and fearlessness of a Latina, the disrobed pride and promise that he would miss her when she was gone. That she swore. His response was unmoved by her passionate script, but hell if it wasn’t entertaining. “Si, si.” He’d say. Hypnotizing, really. Watching the bounce of her chest and allowing her voice to fade into static. Just smile and nod. Offer her a ride home and try not to laugh.

By the time she’d finally relented and caved for a cruise in the A6, he was short on time. He didn’t get her name. Back to the pad and swiftly into the shower. The usual nine yards. Shit, shower, shave. What greeted him in the mirror was prominent cheek bones once made way for by the clearing of condensation. A pair of dark riddles above his nose, the steel jawline complimenting surfeit of symmetry. Dead set terrain down his abdomen showed in washboard fashion. Somehow it was maintained by the occasional shake and two hour gym session. Casual slap of Armani aftershave, finger rake through chocolate hair at the hard part, pomade to keep it in place. Save for the clothes in the bedroom, he was just about done.

Pregaming lone wolf style would have him fashionably late for the bash but no one would mind. Julia, maybe, but it wasn’t like she could come sit in his lap either way in a place like that. Not with the odds of her brothers showing up. Senna would reserve a table or a seat at the bar, clock him with her tiny hand and chide him without any real effort whenever he decided to make an appearance. Everything else would be handshakes and exchange.

Bel neglected pulling a shirt on until the last possible moment, lethargic in sliding a denim jacket over it as well. The permanent medallion across collar bones barely peeked over the white seam. And when he rocked himself to his full posture of six feet and then some, floorboards creaked under his shoes.

The atmosphere was friendly, happy enough. Light. Yeah, that’s what he would use to describe it. Lots of family-oriented cordiality and the smell of home cooked recipes. The doors were propped open as if to say, “Everyone is welcome.” Immediately behind the counter with a twist on his mouth was what Bel assumed to be the owner or head chef, muscles wrapped around his arms and twitching when something was out of place. At his side, a young girl, maybe six or seven at the most. She pulled on him and suspended from his side in the way children do when they really want something.

It didn't take Bel long to spot Dominic Bates, cigar between teeth and sidewise to the commotion. The rest of the clan would surely be arriving if the least-involved tramp was there. So when Leigh slid up next to Bel, voice meek, maintaining just enough distance to be his shadow, the reminder of advantage was cognizant. One of his arms went around her shoulder to whisper something into her hair. Similar to how a federal agent holds up a piece of clothing to his dog and starts the hunt, but more refined and indirect. Her tresses were ambrosial of Tsubaki and it lingered on him when she split off.

ImageThere were the regulars, then. Neighborhood-y faces recognized easily. Malkov with his Russian charm, something in his glass, patting backs and politely regarding matrons. In fact, he was just a short distance from Bel’s little sister, who was eyeing the cracked-concrete look of an arm laid on the bar top. The back face of its palm had a song bird tattoo. Had to belong to a junkie from the vein structure. Someone paler than a ghost. Tall and thin, akin to a specter, too. Must have been one of the kids that showed up to Bel’s HQ with a jittering violent need that couldn’t be sated by just any product. He was shameless, bumping Senna and causing a spilled drink when he readjusted himself. Judging by the carriage and slick smile, it had to be Jasper. Senna was regaining her composure, waving it off and saying it wasn’t a big deal as she dabbed at her dress with a napkin. Typical. But at least it was handled.

Bel held a menu in his hand. The place was stacked with decent options, none of which he’d get to sit down and enjoy with sniper-eyes in every corner but. He’d take a mental note of it and return on a less crowded day. The sandy-haired hurricane herself blew in a moment later, eyes buffed black by make up. Julia totally avoided her brother, curved anyone else and went straight for the bar. Eventually the brawn known as Gunner showed up, then a Kim [or two], and Simone in the ironed perfection of a tailored get up.

Suddenly it felt congested.

Upon ordering himself a bourbon, Bel found himself next to a familiar patron, scarlet shade pinning crux on her. But he knew all about Chloe. Her habits, her cool exhibition of being the secret aficionado. He ordered her a vodka and cranberry, mouthing, “It’s on me.” She was pressed to the bar by the back of the Yakuza’s daughter [really strange seeing her out in the daylight, let alone somewhere like The Little Lady].

Moving between the crowd was a blue-haired girl, anxious in mannerism, serving plates of food. She dumped an appetizer tray in front of Chloe and Bel, looking flustered. The air constricted, thickened with the humidity of bodies packed and much too comfortable whether in a drunken state of food or booze to move. Bel closed a hefty tip in her free hand and waved her off. He tried to keep his gaze off of Jubes, raising his glass to toast with Chloe, “So aside from the obvious, what do you do in your free time? You don’t strike me as the regular New Yorker, and I’m all sorts of curious.”

Read Jubes' Post Here

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hani Kim Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Jonathan Moore Character Portrait: Chloe Williams Character Portrait: Jasper Callaghan Character Portrait: Simone Bates Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Gunner Bates Character Portrait: Jaehyun Kim Character Portrait: Junko Takayama Character Portrait: Sienna Henderson Character Portrait: Julia Bates Character Portrait: Nikolai Malkov
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Every coin has another side, cleaner or dirtier is a matter of perspective, and the West dealt with midnight, back-alley dealings and baseball bats breaking bones of those too stupid to pay up. Relying on a gusto of gnarled thugs, frost-wielding transport trucks, and bearded brothers to keep their business running like freshly greased cogs, the Bates starlight business of narcotics, premium nose candy and dirty work clambered to the top, with their neighbourhood Colombians. They kept their fingers in everyone's pie. Rubbed shoulders, shook hands, buried bodies. Knowledge and connections might've been powerful, but it's the ones that back it up with ripped knuckles and gnashed teeth that get to keep it all. And if there's something to say about the Bates family, it's that they're damned fucking determined to keep what they've earned.

While Dominic sat in the second throne, narcotic-crown as soft and delicate as flowers on his head, Gunner was at his side. Behind his chair, at his feet, arms crossed and always waiting: a bearded beefcake, a dog with a short leash, and a penchant for abusing their own merchandise. Frequently. If anyone actually noticed, they didn't say anything. Too much of a bother. And for once, in that damning instance, Gunner knew more than his older brother, and his attempts at drowning out his father's wrangling words ended up in barely-recalled nights heating spoons and taping clean needles, passed out in the hallway of his home; clothed or unclothed.

Why had his dad reached out to him first? He wasn't in charge. He'd never been in fucking charge, so why had he pulled him aside, bright eyes like delirious lanterns. Gripping his shoulder like a drunken man holding onto a pillar. Why couldn't he have just left him out of it? Instead, he dropped a handful of shit into his hands, and took off to god-knows where. No instructions as to what he was supposed to do with what he told him. What was he supposed to do? One person couldn't stand up to the shit-storm that was brewing in the distance, and the sickness swirling in his gut told him that he didn't want the change that was coming. Something would burn to the ground. And they'd expect him to tickle his fingers across his glock: friend or not.

His own morning routine wasn't as glamorous. Gunner didn't rake his teeth across a stranger's thighs, didn't transpose his room into a tourist attraction and click his tongue at a nice pair of legs until they felt compelled to trail their way inside. He'd never been like that, much to Bel's disappointment. How many times had he dragged his sorry ass to strip clubs, or dumped a friend of a friend into his lap, hoping for something entertaining to happen? Too many times to count. Mornings like these were spent wallowing in the tangled sheets, leather belt just barely slinking down his forearm. His phone buzzed off the coffee table, and clattered on the ground until the caller finally gave up and left a nasally message. Hardly any sunlight trickled through the bamboo blinds, carefully shuttered close to prevent his head from spinning when he finally cracked his eyes open. Feather-light foot treads pounced on the corner of his bed, clambered up his spine, and settled beside his face. A lady of the feline persuasion. A rattling purr sounded, nestling itself under his jawline. Better than any alarm clock he'd ever had.

A soft sigh sifted past his lips, buried in fur, until he rolled to the side, and pushed himself up, disentangling himself from the thin sheets. He didn't bother with heavy blankets, no duvet, because it was too hot and nightmares addled his narcotized dreams. Dragging heavy hands across his face and through his hair, Gunner dragged his knuckles over his bleary eyes. Lidded at half-mast, they combed across the room and found the glowing numbers blinking up at him: 1pm. Wasn't like he had much to do today, but sleeping in when he should've been slinging dope, or following Dominic's instructions, wouldn't bode well for him. He dropped a hand across the feline's head, scratched at the back of it's ears, and murmured a barely intelligible word before slipping off the bed and stumbling towards the bathroom.
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An initial bout of inertia made Gunner's shower dismally miserable. His head swam like a fishbowl, splashing over it's sides. Soap, scrape, forehead pressed against the tiles, finished. He swiped his palm across the surface pf the wall-sized mirror, clearing the condensation to expose a slice of raccoon-eyed bags, like purple and black prose, and drifting lower, a flat-lined frown. Thick, dark eyebrows, framed murky eyes, or puddles, or shit, for all the baggage they carried. Aquiline nose, crooked. Lip, scarred. Fortunately, they weren't bloodshot. Clipped his beard so he looked less like a lumberjack and more like someone who had their life together, which was hilariously inaccurate. Taming the scruff of brown hair with pomade, and briefly spraying his collar with whatever was on the counter. Probably Dominic's stuff.

He flicked through his phone, halted on a few texts, though they generally said the same thing. When was he getting there? The Little Lady—a party of sorts, and there'd be business, because wherever the families went, there was always fucking business to take care of. Almost made him want to stay in. Tuck himself back in bed. Send himself off in another ceiling-raising stupor, drifting away from everything that made his knuckles crack. Gunner took a deep, withering breath and snapped open his closet.

Clothes. Clothes made the man... or whatever his pops used to say, tightening tiny ties around the boys' necks whenever they were allowed to follow him around. It stuck with him, like a rough-housing growl in the back of his ear, even if he deliberately ignored it. His style allowed for brisk movements, bloody fists, and future stains, because blood was unforgiving on designer suits and shiny shoes. A plain white shirt, fitted to his stocky form. Black dress pants, fitted with a belt for ulterior purposes, and a pair of ass-kicking boots, prime for extracting teeth from pretty faces. Slipping a leather jacket over his bulky shoulders, he shook out the collar and sucked at his gums, hesitating at the doorway. Aviators completed the ensemble, to hide the mess of restlessness splayed across his face like a crime scene presenting itself to his betters.

But, it wasn't the glasses he'd been wondering about. It didn't make him rock back on his heels, fingers resting across the door handle. A bump. That's all he needed right now, before throwing himself neck-deep into whatever was going to happen at The Little Lady. He wasn't stupid. He'd been avoiding Bel like he carried the bubonic plague, like he had rats scurrying at his heels, threatening to infect everyone around him. Might've been cowardly, but Gunner didn't have a way with words, and something told him that whatever he managed to say would end up in broken bottles and flying fists. It wasn't what he wanted. He raked his fingers across his face, exhaled sharply and lurched back into his room. Only took him a few seconds, fishing out that tiny bag of paradise, of silent sanctum. Meticulous movements, dividing pure whiteness into lines, and sending it straight up his septum. A few head shakes, sniffles, and he was right as rain.
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Showing his face late wasn't anything out of the ordinary, though he was neither fashionably late or cared enough to come early. Sometimes, he didn't bother showing up at all. Shaking hands and clapping shoulders didn't appeal to him. Now, busting heads and making people cry, that was a different beast altogether. Nettled energy sizzled through his fingertips, jettisoned up his spine, and wriggled down his neckline; sordid warmth, cat-calling him to break things, run, expend it in any way possible. But this was the wrong place. Everything in the Little Lady screamed civil, organized, friendly. Jona's bearded gruff greeted him first, eying the establishment through the eyes of someone who cared too much. Gunner took another deep breath through his nostrils and felt the bitter, residual lick dripping down his throat, numbing the portions it touched. And he was calm, for the most part. He licked his lips, hooked his aviators in his shirt and bustled through the gathering crowd of locals.

Bel was hard to miss in the crowd, even if he'd rather go without seeing him here, he knew it'd be impossible. Of course, he'd be here. Wouldn't miss it for the world. Besides, they had business to settle, and he wasn't saying a word about it. How awkward would this be? Gunner slipped a hand to the nape of his neck and scratched at his hairline, idling closer to the bar, than anyone's table. Usually, he wouldn't cut through the crowd and plopped right down beside his upscaled, swanky partner in crime, but times were changing and he didn't feel like facing him just yet. Not without a drink warming his belly. He noted the shaking phantom bump into Senna, and spill her drink, and almost stepped over to see if there was a problem, until he overhead him apologizing. Jasper, that's what his name was. Just another junky. Kinda like he was, he supposed. His gazed lingered on the youngest Zaire, dabbing her dress and waving Jasper off like it was no big deal, because it wasn't, but that's just how she was. They were contradictions, reacting in distinctive ways. She was too good, sometimes.

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Gunner averted his gaze, because it was never good looking at her for too long when Bel was around. Instead, he wandered to the bar and leaned his elbows across the smooth, clean surface, glancing up at the grisly bartender, “Two shots of rum, each. Thanks.” He didn't look at Jubes for a second. Only shifted his position and leaned his back against the bar, regarding everyone else flitting from group to group. Simon was smoothing ruffled feathers. It was a knack he had, churning turmoil into something a little lighter. Then, there was everyone else. Businesses rubbing elbows in the dark, smoke puffing from lips; Russian, American, Colombian, Yakuza alike. It would've been strange if he wasn't used to such shady company, and if he didn't belong in it himself. Once the drinks arrived, he slid one over to his younger sister and took a whopping gulp of his own, sighing over the rim of his glass, “Hope you're having a better day than I am, Jubes.”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Chloe Williams Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Sienna Henderson
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Chloe Williams
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Sprawling towers as far as the eye could see, glinting sunlight through high rise windows. Lighting on the tanned face of a young woman, mouth hanging half open and eyes crusted shut with sleep. Soft snores roused the russet escort from a whiskey coma. Remembrance of the night before and the heady scent of sex brings a wave of fresh regret, almost guilt to the forefront of her mind. Chloe sweeps charcoal locks of hair away from furrowed brows. “Wake up, Daima,” She lays soft kisses across the exposed skin of her companion’s shoulder. Throwing routine to the gutter with nothing but sex and drugs in mind; and maybe, somewhere in the recess of her mind a little bit of love for the woman warming her bed.

Groans break the comfortable silence, “Five more minutes,” whines a voice thick laden with sleep. But the young woman finally opens her eyes to meet Chloe’s own. “You didn’t leave this time,” she whispers, fingertips marking a solemn trail down Chloe’s pale cheek. Soft smiles exchange but not for lack of sorrow hidden deep behind the facade. An unspoken agreement to let this slip of raw emotion slide. It’s a mistake to be here, but it would be a bigger mistake to leave now. Chloe leans forward to capture soft lips. Once, twice, three times more before Daima's pulling away lest the situation turn south quickly.

“I’m sorry about last night.” Daima’s explanation takes too long, with too many pauses to catch sobs between clenched teeth and Chloe for the life of her just wants to pull away and not deal with this shit. Can’t put her mask back on or put those stone walls back up around her heart in fear of this little charade ending. She’s in far too deep, a simple con turned bad on the promise of affection never felt before. It’s with gut wrenching agony that she realizes how quickly this will have to be put to an end. Daima is a mark, a target to acquire and nothing more. Being a notch in Chloe’s more favorable bedpost is all she will ever be.

Now isn’t the time to be getting sentimental, nor is it time to break off this little arrangement they have. Daima is good for too much right now, more so than just a quick lay but the heiress to an overseas drug empire at that. Getting her under thumb had been easy, but keeping her was an entirely different matter with her husband still in the picture. Typical Chloe fashion she went fast and hard in pursuing this interest of hers, and now the fallout has come nearly to a head. A few more pushes in the right direction and Chloe could have millions falling in her lap.

But at what cost? Her pride had already been shoved in the closet years ago along with dignity and grace. Out on the subzero streets Chloe was among her icy element but within the warmth of a comfortable bed with a companion at her side – not so much. So they talk for as long as it takes to settle Daima down, to tell her not to leave her husband, and in the gentlest way possible that Chloe wasn’t ready for that kind of commitment because fuck that. Goddamnit it should have never gotten this far in the first place. This is a fucking amateur slip up.

With push comes shove, arguments bleeding from freshly open wounds leaving her with a distinctly sour taste in her mouth and a heavy stone in her gut. She needs something, anything, to dull this penitent ache. Daima apologizes like it’s her damn fault, all Chloe can do is laugh, and laugh until she cries a little because it’s always been her own fault. For even letting her guard slip just an inch. Feelings and business don’t make good bedfellows. But in the end they settle back into commonplace routine.

Daima makes her breakfast. Fuck it.

Chloe doesn’t leave the Heiress until well into the morning, finally settled back down after popping a few Oxys and going another round of what should be completely meaningless sex. When it’s all said and done she returns to the rundown apartment she lives in. The derelict building good only for a place to lay her head every once in awhile. The rats and roaches don’t make it an ideal place but somehow she likes it that way. Less reason to miss home once she gets around to bigger, better things. Perhaps even stave off the addiction and get back in good graces with the kid she left behind years ago. It's not like Nora had never tried to contact her, its more that Chloe barely had the want to acknowledge her save for sending a postcard every now and again.

Mother of the year awards just keep rolling in.

Blip. Blip. Blip.

A barrage of messages hit her phone all at once when she turns it back on. After the night she’s had it’s only a hope that she can find some sort of distraction. Perhaps shake down some sucker looking for a quick romp. Or scope out some bigger fish. She ignores the mobile device in favor of showering. Getting the sweet stench of sex of her skin. Maybe even trying to wash the feelings down the drain. She’s livid still, sharply so and it’s just like her to love fast and easy when she’s worked so hard to get past that flaw. But if Chloe is anything, its capable of shaking off some silly love affair - she hopes. Especially when money of such a large sum is involved.

A party at the Little Lady… Chloe reads her texts the second she hops out of the shower, dressed for a casual day out. Simple black blouse and slacks, nothing fancy but nothing commonplace either. No need to put up with anything unnecessary. She won't be catching clients at the Little Lady and she isn't sure she's up for a shake down now anyway. Instead she settles for potentially getting drunk and observing the patrons. Perhaps bait a few fish for later claiming. Big events are great for sussing out who's worth it and who's just posing. People usually turn out to be the latter.

Chloe hails a cab to her destination, handling a few calls and texts on her way over. Irate clients trying to get ahold of her, she resolves to buy a new burner later. She's been slipping up on that too, despite the danger of keeping the same number for too long. A few from Daima, though she resolutely ignores those texts in favor of skimming social media sites. Chloe's got a nice little set up, but she still wants more.

"Keep the change," Chloe barely spares the driver a second look as she steps out. Pulling at the hem of her black blouse, a habit that's worn holes in a dozen of her shirts already. She steps into the Little Lady and is assaulted immediately by the hustle and bustle. Its packed tight and ready to pop. Even though she's just eaten she can't help being drawn to the smell of fresh food. She flows through the crowd easily, smiling at a few familiar faces but making her way to the bar. It isn't more than a few minutes of sitting in silence that she notices someone new next to her, a more than familiar face.

ImageBel orders her a drink, Chloe quirks an amused smile that slips back into casual nonchalance as she dips her head in thanks. He knows her well enough it seems, to have ordered something she actually likes. Chloe casts Sienna a knowing glance as she places the appetizer tray between them but otherwise spares no acknowledgment to the young woman. Instead, focusing all of her attention on Bel. "Its because I'm not a regular New Yorker," Chloe says, taking a significantly large drink from her glass. Not wanting to down it all at once, but not content with nursing it for long. "I like long walks on the beach, and deep, meaningful conversations..." As if. She keeps forgetting that she doesn't have to deflect like this with Bel. Her guard has been up for far too long. "Joking, I spend most my time home or - well, anywhere there's a party." She motions wide.


"And yourself? It's awfully strange seeing you in a casual setting." Casting him a cool gaze, she downs the rest of her drink and quickly orders another. For the amount of times she's seen and spoken Bel, and Senna it shouldn't still be strange to see them outside of work. In fact, she had struck up a sort of camaraderie with the Zaires. Another move that mixed business with pleasure, yet significantly less devastating than whatever fallout this morning will eventually have. And its curiosity really that drives her to ask.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Chloe Williams Character Portrait: Simone Bates Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Sienna Henderson
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#, as written by Caille
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It was the night before, and Sienna had the night off from the restaurant she worked at. The Little Lady, was a nice place to work and run by a friendly family. She wasn't close to them in any means, but she did know their names. While she had the night off from The Little Lady, Sienna had managed to score a side job in the other business that she dabbled in.

In the job she did, often times her brother Kyle would accuse her of being a prostitute. The blue haired girl never really got angry about him calling her that, but she did consider herself on a higher ranked level than a prostitute. She had more class, and it wasn't just sex, for the most part she would accompany the man or woman to a social gathering or in their pent house of the sorts. That and Sienna cost most than just your average street walker.

For her evening off, she ended up attending a charity event with a strapping young man. He stood to be about six foot, broad shoulders and an athletic build. Dark hair groomed to perfection with the astounding contrast of a vibrant blue eyes. The man was pure eye candy and it was men like him that truly made the job exciting and enjoyable.

Several laughs, conversations, and glasses of white zinfandel wine later and they were back at his place. This guy had the nicest place she had ever been. Can I marry him instead? crossed her mind as she observed his place. The granite counter tops in the kitchen with the dark cherry oak cupboards to the detailed french doors that led into the bedroom. There was without a doubt that this guy was loaded. He wouldn't miss a few things right?

Her evening went on, and honestly he was a good lay. Plus those abs were nothing, but a piece of art that she could stare at for hours. After he had fallen asleep she slipped out of the bed and put her undergarments back on and looked around the room. Most people noticed if you took something from their room, as it was their own personal space, so she took her purse and went out of the bedroom to see what she could find.

Searching around in the home, she found a few interesting pieces that looked expensive, but she couldn't just take a decoration. That was when she started to look through drawers and see what she could find. Nothing valuable. She cursed under her breath and finally returned to the bedroom.

From there she saw the ensuite bathroom and instantly mulled over how much of a dumb ass she was. She headed that way, and closed the door behind her. Looking she found a few expensive things that could be of value and she put them in her purse. Before she walked out she flushed the toilet, to give her an alibi in case he had woken. When she saw that the gorgeous looking specimen was still soundly asleep she put her black dress back on, and saw herself out.
---
The morning came entirely too soon. Especially since she was awoken by a loud knocking noise on her door. Fucking hell she thought to herself and pushed the covers back on her bed, throwing on a big t-shirt and a pair of shorts. Walking to the front door she grasped the door knob and twisted it after unlocking her door.

The now opened door revealed her father. The man she hated, but the man that also kept checking up on her every now and then. She left the open door knowing he'd walk in, and went to pour her father a cup of coffee. They sat down at the table and just looked at each other.

"When are you going to smarten up and apply for college? You can't just live here all your life and work in that stupid restaurant. I didn't raise you to live this way." The man said in his stern voice. As per usual the man was trying to run her life even though she was twenty-two and perfectly able to do things on her own. Heavily sighing she looked down at the table preparing the usual speech she normally gives her dad when he asks these things. "I've been wanting to save up money to go to school dad, I told you this." She said and knew full well what he would say next.

"I will pay for you, if it means you will no longer be fucking around doing whatever." He said in retort. Luckily her father didn't know that she had a side job. If he did, well she wouldn't be alive right now and having the conversation with the man. "I want to be able to pay for myself, and feel I've accomplished something dad."

The conversation went on for an hour and ended in a whole 'why can't you just be like your brother?' the painful word she hears almost every month from her father. Always about why she can't just be as successful as her brother or do as well as him. In all honesty it wasn't what Sienna wanted. She wanted to live each day she had as if there was no certainty if tomorrow would come along. She honestly didn't have any goals for a career in mind yet, she was still searching and she found it to be perfectly okay.

---

People came in one after the other. The first part of her shift she had been learning how to man the bar and do drinks. It had been awhile since she worked there, but if she picked up another skill at The Little Lady she could possibly work a bit more. Although, as more people walked in she had gone back to waitressing and taking peoples orders.

The hum of the room grew more and more as each minute passed and more people had stuffed there way into the place. She noticed a few faces as they seemed familiar. She could hear the mumbling of people all around her. Some were having a conversation about work, others about some guy they slept with, or just anything in general. Sienna even heard a few times of some people insulting her, but it didn't really bother her.

Everything was happening so fast, and honestly it was a miracle she had kept her shit together for this long. Her mind was all over the place, as she tried to focus on what table was next and which tables still had an order to place. Not to mention the drunk guys who would cat call her from the bar, or ask her to bring them some food.

Finally she dumped down an appetizer at the one table and she was a bit frantic at that point, and mumbled an apology for being so sloppy with handing out the food. That was when the male at the table which she had seen a few times, had handed her a tip. As she walked away she stuffed the money in her apron and was very appreciative of the tip.

After catching up a bit she noticed Simon was in the place and a smirk grew on her lips. It was calmed down for a bit so she decided she'd go to say hi. She came up onto the right side of Simon and looked him up and down. "You do know where you are right? A bit over dressed I'd say, but you look stunning Sime."


(Will colour soon just need to go somewhere)

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: Hani Kim Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Jonathan Moore Character Portrait: Chloe Williams Character Portrait: Jasper Callaghan Character Portrait: Simone Bates Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Gunner Bates Character Portrait: Julia Bates Character Portrait: Fiona Abramo
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»SENNA«
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Heaven was all cut up. Its percolation of sunlight chased the night away and apprehended the moon for daring to be so full. Senna considered herself a hellion in all Luna’s phases, even the bare semi circular solitude that often hid behind skyscrapers. The trope didn’t go unnoticed by those that it awakened. Especially not her. Real life vampires didn’t prey on blood so much as themselves and gluttony, and they walked dauntless in the daylight, even if a bit hungover.

From the stretch of area between the door and bed, there was nothing but a trail of evidence. It littered its way across twelve or so feet. Started with a purse vomiting keys on tile, paused about seven squares in for the alleged 4AM, “I think I’m gonna’ be sick”, and ended centimeters from the boxspring in the soles of abandoned heels. It had to be considered a small victory if nothing else. Making it to the bed and leaving the shoes. Not bottling out before the left one was completely removed. Counts for something, right? Discounting all of this sloshed disarray, the Brooklyn flat was as nice as ninepence. Everything was ivory. Squared and neat as a pin. The place was small, but so was she.

Slate tides imbued flushed cheeks that were being slapped into consciousness when Senna peeled herself from the mattress like she’d been steamrolled. The mess of a mane hid all the features of her doll-like visage. Peeping out like a lone captive was the edge of her nose, accompanied by sulking lips, plush and parted in desperate need of H2O. Her feet thrashed their way out of a sheet tangle, then went still with precaution. One hell of a wake up call was catching a bony knee to the groin. A kick in the shin. She half-expected morning prologues necessitated by being sloppy while she assaulted herself. “Hello, hi. Senna. And you? How do you take your coffee? Do you need to charge your phone?” Numbers done, no matter how stupid in a potion-induced narcosis, were never a reason for loss of manners. Each time she’d open sleepy eyes to the relic of a crazy night, she’d divulge her reception. Apologies if necessary. Flash a smile just a few teeth short of a grin. Awkwardly avoid bodily contact, go as the crow flies to the Keurig. But for the third morning in a row, she’d woken up alone, and likely gone to bed the same.

She’d overdosed on the accessibility of carnal companionship. Or, how that rapport fattened her pockets and left her inattentive to suitors. Men with their cups running over who couldn’t speak on fetishes unless behind a dead bolted door. Divorcees, usually. Vagabonds. Bartenders. CEO’s. The usual femme she’d be fixated on. One she’d find under some magenta light off of Greenpoint Ave. The prevalent niña bonita, someone to loop arms, bang out some lines, barhop with. It was no longer unprecedented. It was fucking depressing.

There were those nights with Gunner, though. They fell between the cracks more often than she’d like to admit, lost in a mantle of blurred reverie. He was an amulet for things strayed in her life. An apparent exclusive constant. Their scattered encounters never became less charming or homely, come what may. She’d seen the aortal throb in his neck many times, from withdrawal, from compulsion. Made sure that he didn’t hurtle himself over some precipice when playing with pin pricks and powder. Acknowledged his infernal need the way he did hers, with the acceptance and lack of interrogation she’d always desired. They were asylums to each other. Quiet sometimes. Tempests the others. The rare times he wished to speak sentiment, she perched herself on palms to listen. When it was her turn she’d flop on the force of his chest and mumble, “I’m glad you’re still here. I’m not interesting by myself.” The rest she’d slur in Spanish so that there were still secrets worth saving. He’d pick out only the words he knew as a result of being around her family growing up, the ones she commonly hissed or crooned. They’d forget in sleep about everything and meet again in the morning. It did the pair no justice to call them friends, victims of circumstance - acquaintances. And to call them lovers was de trop all together. He may have learned every dip and curve of her body by note, but this wasn’t from a sultry handful of stunts. It was from holding her hair back and having to carry her over his shoulder when she was KO’d by virtue of dope.

Usted me salvó en más de un sentido. You are the last good thing about this life.

It was to no surprise that landing her ass on a barstool at the Little Lady came with consequences of conflicting company. There existed little justification to shower and start fresh for such a shit show, so she’d tied her hair back in a frayed bun and threw on some gold, some Carisa Rene half white, half mint dress. Victorian lace tailoring that made her an oblong detail. An oddity in the backdrop of a cafe packed wall to wall with boojie mafia offspring. Hell, she’d even showed up early. However, ask her, and she couldn't tell you how it was that she got there. How she managed to remedy delirium tremens from the night before without having to be wheeled in wearing a paper bag and sunglasses. But by golly, she god damn did it.

ImageHer mother’s rosary dangled from her narrow neck like a heavy memorandum as Bel approached not far off, bone-paled pressure at the skin of his hands when he tallied up the Bates presence. His scrape was sluggish over Julia which he didn’t realize until Senna backhanded his thick skull, “Dog.” Whereas Bel was insolent and strapped, Senna was a surveyor not froggy enough to leap when it meant all out genocide. She felt Gunner come in and sit seven seats down the way but she didn’t look once. Even in innocence, there were tremors that would tip the boiling pot. It was stupid to assume otherwise. Stupid to even bat an eye at a hot little mess who had nothing but desire to watch the world around them burn. Stupid all around to gamble in a small space. One not their own. Stupid, stupid. Someone was always watching, even stupid assholes knew that. In a snap of a retort he’d shine through Senna with his mirthful grin, make a joke and go on assuming his little sister knew absolutely nothing. Pendejo. Stupid, stupid son of a bitch.

By what Senna presumed a counterstrike, he steered in tight beside Chloe. Ever an enigma of a woman [a good one at that], she moved to face him probably only to show homage to her drug dealer. But she wore a smile like a good luck jewel that could turn black as any stone in the event of being crossed. If Bel didn’t see that, then he was just as much the fool only Senna knew him to be. Chloe reciprocated niceties, delicate poise in her wrist as she sipped cranberry juice. Underneath all that sociable gimmicking was a very poisonous predator. The type of carnivore that came to be as a direct result of knowing only survival for a very long time, it’s why she glittered like forbidden fruit. On this particular day she looked more business than tenth-story latex fetish where she and Senna last bumped heads, and the mutual nod of regard was given in a sort of, “You wanna’ do it again sometime?” way. Before she could open her mouth to extend an invitation, a dove-decorated palm accidentally splashed her personal space and sent a scotch spilling on to the jade cotton of her skirt.

Forgiveness was such a timely tool. She used it in waving Jasper off, lips quirking without a trace of irritation, “No worries, I gotta’ get it dry-cleaned anyway. No, por favor, it’s fine.” The flats of her fingers pressed the fabric dry with a bar napkin as a bearded man behind the lines handed a few extra. His bebita bounced up and down like he requested backup on matters [he didn’t], and bundled a bunch in her tiny paws to offer to Senna on tippy-toes. “Gracias hermosa, sheesh. You run this place? No wonder all these people are packing in, you’re one hard worker. You gotta’ treat yourself.” A riddled expression passed over the girl. Senna folded a five dollar bill and balanced her weight on one rung of a bar stool to present the mini barista with, “You know, reward yourself! Thanks for the napkins.”

There Bel went again. Half in conversation, half out. He eyed Dominic Bates at his crook. Found Senna’s ex by the door, daffodil-colored hair weaving through the crowd, and again settled on the tenebrous presence of Julia. Like they had a fat bone to pick, she was icing him the fuck out, and Bel was apologizing with baby bister eyes in a room full of people. The fatale ordered a drink piled high with whipped cream. Sat up right beside Gunner with Simon mere inches left. And what did this do but put Baby on Julia’s radar as the next best socket for her brother’s fuck ups. Senna already guessed the beverage was coming her way, and accepted it warmly knowing she was much better at quarantining pestilence than anybody else in the vicinity.

You wanna’ go walking in the moonlight with me, honey? You wanna’ hold my hand?

That expanse of gray matter was churning like the seven seas and had a tendency to ebb at the very edges of Gunner’s sanity and nip at Bel’s heels. Baby knew both well enough to pin outcomes to the board without a single error. It was a leaden storm cloud which encompassed the substance of impending bloodshed. And at this rate one might as well have written Senna up as a damned meteorologist. Because a shit storm was a’brewin’ and she’d spotted it ten miles back, high in the sky, clearing all the light out of the world. It blew in by and by, abaft pissed off pique worn like Valentino in chic finish.

Just like somebody’d painted animus on her, she exuded cognitive sass that spelt, “Miss Do Not Fuck With Me”. Though certainly not the baby, she had the chip on her shoulder to match. Which Senna could level with, honestly. She herself was never one with the lunacy which trafficked etiquette and opiates, gun slinging, the severing of fingers and tongues. But there Julia was. Surrounded by brothers that loved her, who would fight to a bloody death in her honor. Good men [gone astray, but good men nonetheless]. And she was what - rejected? A black sheep? Fat chance.

How blind was she to see only Bel as a worthy place to put her energy? And brush off her family in this devil-may-care teenage tantrum trip? That was something Senna could not level with. However, the brazen display in Julia’s little friendly drink reassigned the divide. It set them worlds apart. She was bouncing on the splintering floorboards of warfare in someone else’s territory without a second thought while Senna bore the least amount of weight on frailties. She was just trying to get through the night, Julia wanted to swing from entrails. The only thing keeping them synonymous in all the chaos was their taste for shameless sacrilege.

“That’s a nice secret you got there, where’d you get it?”
“...Your brother.”


The hourglass had been flipped like a switch, and the only ones listening to the hiss of sand were these two. Julia put some sway in her hauteur, like she was about to take her clothes off to the havoc on the horizon. Like it was really getting her off. Quiet, Baby threw an elbow up onto the counter to stare dead into her adversary while barely touching the brim, absorbing the pitiful intent behind the note beneath. Thoughtfully she laid a cheek to her palm, sucking the whipped cream off an opposite index. Full on fellatio: painstaking without the smirk. She imitated finger-licking before picking up the glass and handing it to Bel with her knuckles knocking his chest, interrupting him mid-toast as he flirted, “You’re a party kind of girl, huh.” If Julia was still playing the game, she’d know it wasn’t holding Senna’s interest. Cheap.

ImageAnd all at once - Gunner heard the hissing. Dominic’s head snapped in the direction of it, too, like there was a snared line directly attached to his head and Senna’s collision with Bel’s sternum. High spirits hindered in him and his shoulders tightened. Honestly, she was surprised the shot glass in his hand didn’t shatter. Instinctively Chloe reached for one of Bel’s arms at the same time Senna did, “You mentioned a party? Vamos hermano, Chloe and I know this really nice club by the Mandarin. Come on - let’s just go.” There were children present. Families. This was probably all up to par with Julia’s plan, but Senna was not going to allow it. Nobody had time [nor stomach] to digest what was going on between sheets and family, not here. Not now. Having brought that blowjob to light was also a misstep on her part, ‘cause now it was looking like one of the Bates boys sent an innuendo down the bar. Senna as the beneficiary: 99 problems and a bitch is the main one. Well, shit. It was better than the alternative, right? Well played, Jubesy, well played. But I got more tricks up my sleeve.

“What are you going to do, fucking fight your best friend?”
Tick. Tick.
Boom.

Fragments of glass were sent across the oak countertops. There it is, the royal flush. The final and averting move. Got ‘em. Whipped cream wept over the wooden surface in its non-finished acclaim. Blood coursed between clenched digits that went flayed in seconds, “That pedazo de mierda is no friend of mine.” Bel’s vernacular became icy and intrepid. Wine color stained denim as he rolled up a sleeve and shoved his way toward Gunner, one mitt still full of broken glass with intent to shred skin. Hani, petite even still, in peripherals, pressed her way toward the madness, bumping the shoulder of Fiona on the way. Senna and Chloe had lost their grip and released Bel like a rabid dog. It was looking bad, and sounding worse. Abruptly Dominic barked something, sent Gunner to his full height, even Simon, too. Stentorian disorder. This is how Senna imagined massacres, without breathing room and options came the solution of liquidation. One way or another, she was gonna’ figure out how to prevent it from getting that far. “Hermano!” She shouted in a taut rasp as he neared Gunner and a multitude of noises exploded in her eardrums - wares dropping, timber snapping.

How much is this gonna’ cost me?

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Jonathan Moore Character Portrait: Chloe Williams Character Portrait: Jasper Callaghan Character Portrait: Simone Bates Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Gunner Bates Character Portrait: Sienna Henderson Character Portrait: Julia Bates
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"There ain't no way in fucking hell I'm letting you out without a scratch."








It was just like any other drugged up night. The patrons of The Little Lady had ceased to envelop themselves in the heavy scent of sizzling meat and the aroma of wine. While she certainly seemed high class, The Little Lady wasn’t far from that level to be honest. She looked the part as did the employees. The food her master cooked was also of that same level. The only discrepancy that any random patron would find are the people as it was full of players that each had a different role to play although there were a few who refused to go by the script.

However, that was the previous night when the man of the hour was closing shop with a lady on each arm. He was a lucky man to have such beautiful women although the smallest of the two was only as tall as his thigh being only a six years of age. The little nymph was an exact replica of the one who had captured the grisly man’s heart. With soft wispy locks of dark mahogany while her predecessor had lush chocolate tresses spilling down her shoulders. The man himself was of similar color in regards to the mane that grew sprouted from his chin but he was of a much paler complexion that his women. Unlike the other two, he was a grim looking bear of a man while they were soft and skittish yet they excited.





The next day was much like the one before but it somehow seemed busier than normal. The grump who was working behind the scenes that morning was carefully watching as he prepared meals. Eventually the day wore on and his beloved Anna joined him with daughter in tow, an infectious smile plastered on her small face. Hours passed and for a while traffic cleared out and only a few had filled the many booths and tables and one was at the bar already drinking himself into a drunken stupor. It was at times like these that the little one was sent over to the mother who manned the reception table.

Some more hours passed by and things began to pick up again. One of his employees joined in the game of servitude, working behind the bar before returning to the job she was better at, serving the people. A pair of sharp green eyes followed the every move of the patrons of his dream made real, ever watchful of any mishap that may come about. That same pair also watched over the young'un who had somehow managed to squeeze herself behind the bar which, considering her small size, was not that astounding. The little lady giggled, grabbing at her father's thick arm and pulled herself up. The man himself did not seem to notice as he kept up with orders just fine.

Finally it came time for the real trouble to show its face. A stern expression crept its way across his already gruff looks. The beard and thick eye brows only seemed to intensify his unwilling glare by those sharp eyes. They seemed to stab at some while gently fondling others, a hint of mirth in them. The latter was only ever shown to his girls. He didn’t want to lose that harsh facade, that was actually reality, but there have been exceptions to this and that tenderness was given to others he was more familiar with.

A few notable faces entered the confines of the Little Lady prompting the bartender to flick his gaze in their general direction at least once or twice since they arrived. Finally one seated herself at the bar. What made her stand out wasn’t that she was familiar but that shock of blue contrasted with the Little Lady’s fall fashion. Another of a sharper nature landed herself on the worn out bar stools. She blended in with the Lady’s colors much like another face that seated himself between blue and angle. The new face belonged to a gentleman man who had no doubt been places, both the metaphorical and physical kinds. Scanning the three faces, the bartender knew a druggie when he saw one. It was a face he had peered at many years ago but now that was hidden behind the downturn of his lips and the beard that overtook his lower jaw.

There was a pale pipsqueak who had spilled his drink on hastily dressed young woman. Observing her for a moment with his body leaning back slightly, she seemed to have forgiven the other young man. Said young man got a harsh glare from the man behind the bar, he didn’t care for kids spilling trouble onto others laps in such an uncouth way. He handed her some napkins to dab at the stains and it seemed the small one wished to do the same.

“Gracias hermosa, sheesh. You run this place? No wonder all these people are packing in, you’re one hard worker. You gotta’ treat yourself.” Those words took him by slight surprise as shown by the way his brows furrowed, yet a there it was. That unmistakable warmth was matched by a barely noticeable upturn of the lips. He gave her a sideways glance as she pushed a five dollar bill in his daughter's direction. “Say thank you Meg.” Those words sprouted out of nowhere from behind the thick hair that had grown close to his lips, nearly hiding their presence altogether. The look on Meg’s face was sweet to say the least. She fingered her lips for a moment before she did as daddy told her. A giggle came along with the thank you as did that smile of hers.

A nod here, a nod there was the only response a few got when they ordered, so when the man with the steely jawline asked for a bourbon, he got one without pause. He took note of his interactions with the blue one but it wasn’t his business to pry openly, only to watch. At the other end of the bar was fellow who had on him saplings of hair that were just itching to become a full grown forest. He ordered two shots of rum which were given with something of a flourish. Nearby was a head of straw colored tresses. A pretty thing that looked just about ready to get eaten but there was a gleam in her eyes that said otherwise. His hunch was correct when she ordered a blowjob for the other one (Senna) at the end of the bar. He merely did as he was told and pushed it in front of said pretty girl.

Finally a familiar face graced itself in the Little Lady. Had she been a person, she would no doubt appreciate such a pretty face and would welcome him regardless of the time into her arms. Catching the wave and nod in his direction, the bartender gave a nod of recognition. As usual he was overly dressed and he plopped down to the right of the blonde. "Jona, old-fashioned, please. Make it a strong one" Jonathan was already at work with the young man's drink but as usually, chose to let that charming smile of his pass him. Simon frequented the bar enough times that Jon grew accustomed to predicting what sort of drinks he would order and by the looks of it, a strong one would do the trick. He was also one of the few who often garnered that soft look from Jona.

“Already got you covered kid. By the way, you look like hell.” he said, pushing his drink into Simon’s hands. Green flickered over to Sienna who had stopped by momentarily. He took this as his cue to leave the two be and Jon returned to his duties with Meghan scurrying around his legs and giving him glasses. Despite only being six years old, the gal had a decent knowledge on where everything was.

Suddenly the sound of glass shattering broke the hustle and bustle within the Little Lady. Jon stiffened, as did his wife who looked back over at him with concern gleaming in her eyes. Instinctively, one of the father’s hands found their place on the small shoulders of his daughter while the other gripped the cane he had close by [since he was in the bar, he didn’t need it as much]. He heard the hiss from before and had been keen to watch it for a moment but there was seemingly no preventing the explosion that was to occur. His body stiffened, rearing to it’s full height of six feet and five inches and a hundred and sixty four pounds of muscle along with every other able body that worked in his service.

He bent down to whisper in the ears of his daughter and, understanding the situation at hand, nodded her head. She knew exactly what to do and what not to do. Hide in her special spot [a small opening under the bar which was pretty thick] and don’t come out until her father or the more reputable employees came to get her. Standing back up, Jona glared daggers at the back of Bel’s head. His mouth set in a firm line. His steely green orbs flicked over to Dominic, barking at his boys to stand down but those words did not apply to the one who approached them. He placed his hands on the cold marble of the bar and continued to glare. The other employees were now on alert and many had set down their trays of food in preparation for a fight. The old time regulars were accustomed to fights breaking out, so they either continued eating or silently watched the trouble brew.

Jona was not about to have the eldest Zaire child rustle the skirts of the Little Lady. No way in fucking hell would he let the place get damaged but it was already too late. The damage had been dealt as tables were smashed and silverware thrown aside. A few of the employees, the trusted individuals that were there from the start, already set about to halting the conflict. The man behind the bar was no longer that man. Instead he briskly walked over to Bel, as best as his limp would allow him. With cane in hand, he brought it down hard on the back of the Zaire’s eldest.

Standing at his full height, a fiery rage erupted in those once steely green eyes. “Stop your damn temper tantrum Zaire or I’ll flay you like the shitty little twerp that you are. If you wanna have a brawl, take it outside but not under my roof. I ain’t tolerating no fucking messes by you boys.” Jona clenched his jaw and saw that a couple of the employees had pointed one or two guns in the general direction of the brawl.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Jonathan Moore Character Portrait: Chloe Williams Character Portrait: Jasper Callaghan Character Portrait: Simone Bates Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Gunner Bates Character Portrait: Sienna Henderson Character Portrait: Julia Bates
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On mornings like these it takes a minute to find a rhythm. Kind of an odd thing for a New Yorker, don’t you think? It was the kind of place where, even in the darkness of the early morning hours, men still stand on the corners exaggerating about how full their lives are and women cling to greasy children as they wait for the train. Drunks still stand outside of stores even as their shutters block the windows and demand to be catered to. It seemed as if nothing ever really stopped in this place. And yet there Jasper was, his pale figure spread out in the bathroom like a body in a mausoleum. A half hearted loll of his neck as he tried to lift his head; a leg hanging awkwardly over the edge of the empty bathtub in an attempt to stand. Or flop over, at the very least. Try as he might, Jasper couldn’t shake the chill running through his body. Not even when he was literally shaking. And while his mind, body, and soul only wanted one thing, the reality of the situation left him essentially paralyzed.

But it’s true what they say about people not surviving in this world without an edge. Even as he felt the flicker of consciousness he had left going on and off, on and off, a muscle spasm, like clockwork, brought his body to a lurching upright position and forced him to suck in a breath. Good. And just when Jasper thought the universe was trying to send him in another direction, his body decides to fight for what it wants. Newly re-energized, he knew it wouldn’t be long before he crashed again, a victim of low blood pressure and foolishly thinking five milligrams would net him a few hours of sleep without having to seriously dent his stash. Little bitch Jasper thought, wiping his sweaty hands on his pants before dragging himself over the edge of the bathtub and onto the floor. Five milligrams for Jasper was child’s play. He'd get a better high chugging cold medicine, he knew that, and with his newly found partnership with the youngest Bates, there was no end to the dope trail assuming he played his cards right.

Like any good fiend, Jasper had smack all over the place. Needles stashed under pillows like teeth, filling the space in cabinets where food should’ve went, and in cracks in the wall like treasure. Or like contraband. Point being, he didn’t have to stumble far to find his pride and joy. The best fuck he’d ever received. The warm hug when you’re feeling down, and the love you never got from mom and dad. Jasper grabbed a hold of the sink and through pure determination and anticipation alone, wobbled onto his feet. He let all of his weight lean against the sink as he pulled open the medicine cabinet. Syringes, lighters, shoe strings, surgical tubing, spoons, and that good ole’ white china. Just the sight made his skin itch, and underneath the buzzing, artificial glow of his aging fluorescent lights, he couldn’t help but think that this is what heaven must be like.

Like a dog eyeing food, Jasper’s mouth watered at the sight of the powder flowing out from it’s tiny package and onto the beat-up spoon, one of several he kept in each room for ease of access. He struggled for a moment to get a good light. His fingers still shook and he couldn’t help but get a little ahead of himself in anticipation of a good high. He was staring at at least a few hours worth - twenty or so milligrams. Once the light caught, he held it under the spoon and watched the solid turn to liquid like some kind of voodoo magic. Transfer the contents of the spoon to the syringe and you're one step closer feeling alive again.

One end of the shoe string between his teeth, Jasper hastily wound the other end around his arm, wrestling with it until his knuckles burned white and his fingers were warm from the friction. Then he tucked the loose end and waited. And waited. Sure, his arms weren’t exactly blank canvases. Track marks lined his limbs like grisly constellations. Tattoo’s masked his veins, making the search for a good, un-collapsed injection spot something like a game he didn’t like to play. Jasper yanked his head back and pulled his arm forward in an attempt to tighten the string. Help the process along. And yet none of those blue and purple lines would pop up.

Fuck me. Fuck this city. Fuck this apartment. Jasper spat the shoelace from his mouth in frustration, a cold wave of realization washing over his body. He yanked the string off of his arm, the braided pattern of it’s stitches engraved in his skin. The combination of anxiety and dope sickness was already starting to send a wave a nausea through his body. He’d never shoot up if he had to search for a vein and attempt to make sure his vomit landed in the toilet and not on himself. With as much quickness as he could muster, Jasper lowered himself to the ground, falling the last bit of the way. Then he jabbed the syringe right into his jugular, pulling back the plunger to mix the dope with his blood before sending the whole solution coursing into his body. The first second was always the longest. His body was still cold, still trembling, still cursing him to the grave for destroying and betraying himself. And for what? For this? For fevers, and bleeding arms, and uncontrollable emotions, and bone pains and never eating enough?

Exactly this. After all, being a slave to dependence was a small price to pay for a moment of happiness.

“Ugh, man,” Jasper whispered to himself, his head gently falling back to rest against the edge of the bathtub, “just fuck me up”. Was it a comfortable resting spot? Absolutely not. But at this point, he could literally die and he wouldn’t even care. Wouldn’t flinch. Wouldn’t notice his life was slipping away. All he could think about was the rush of warmth flowing through his body with every beat of his heart, a marked change from the frigid embrace he felt upon waking up. Aside from an itchy feeling where he shot up, Jasper couldn’t think of a single thing wrong in his life. Everything was falling into place. Jasper pulled the syringe out of his neck and smiled stupidly at the little device. Who invented them? What was his name? Does he know that in this moment, if no one else really appreciated him, Jasper appreciated the inventor of the syringe? He eventually passed out, affectionately scratching at his injection site and thinking to himself how lucky he was to be together once again with his one true love.

There’s no telling how long he had been out. Jasper woke up with his face pressed against the tile, sweaty and sticky, his tongue feeling like sandpaper in his mouth and a headache forming on one side of his head. What he didn’t feel, however, was like complete shit. Jasper’s sleepy limbs could be shaken off in no time. His hard worn appearance, on the other hand, couldn’t be washed away so easily. He caught the sight of his face in the mirror and ran his hand through his wild hair. Raccoon bags and red-rimmed eyes stared back at him against a deathly white face. Jasper was aware that he looked like a user.

And since he didn’t give a fuck, Jasper wasn’t pressured to look completely normal when his destination was The Little Lady. His dry mouth was something only liquor could help, and he needed something else to do before he got high again. He splashed some water on his face and ran his hands through his hair. Then Jasper peeled off his clothes and changed into a pair of tight jeans and a oversized shirt he found on the ground. Both black. Both wrinkly and indicating an incredibly lazy individual. But there was something to be said for an addict bothering to change clothes and leave the confines of their house in the first place.

Soon enough he was at the bar, spilling a drink on none other than Senna Z. “Shit,” he mumbled, more to himself than her, the hand that spilled the drink still outstretched and his eyes locked onto the stained cotton as if his own body were on a two second delay while everyone else carried on in real time. “My bad, baby,” he nodded, reaching for some napkins in an attempt to help but settled for a smirk when she seemed content to handle it herself. She insisted it was fine and Jasper left it at that. He grabbed a scotch of his own and scanned the room for easy targets before another big shot caught his attention. Simon. Jasper couldn’t help but feel smug after seeing the guy. He wasn’t the first person Jasper fucked in exchange for dope. Though he could argue that this case was less whoring himself out and more of an ongoing business transaction.

Speaking of selling himself, Jasper downed his drink and set his sights for a familiar figure standing in the corner. He wouldn’t even have to break a sweat, having worked that particular angle in the past. Before he could make a move, though, he heard glass break, words exchange, and turned around just in time to see the show of angry gangsters unfold.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hani Kim Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Jonathan Moore Character Portrait: Chloe Williams Character Portrait: Jasper Callaghan Character Portrait: Simone Bates Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Gunner Bates Character Portrait: Jaehyun Kim Character Portrait: Junko Takayama Character Portrait: Sienna Henderson Character Portrait: Julia Bates
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Two heels to the soft, carpeted floor and she was up. She was the only one up at such an hour, as usual. Six in the morning and the petite honeypot was ready to take on the day. More or less. There was a dim strip of sunlight leaking through the thick, red curtains of her ever so prestigious bedroom, as if the sun were afraid to wake her. What poor mister sun didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him. The space was clean, almost untouched, because it basically was. Hani had spent the first hour past midnight pretending to be deep in slumber, and the better half of the night patrolling through the new York streets, even catching a quick coffee with Jun. Today, more than usual, she needed an escape. A lot was going on. Too much, too quickly. Business here, business there, that’s all the Kim family ever touched on. Simple Good mornings, Good nights or even How was your day had practically vanished years ago, along with the five strangers’ sense of family. Hani never complained. Not out loud. Not anymore. She would, had she thought it would make an inkling of a difference, but why complicate things? As if they weren’t already.

”Good morning Ella, you’re looking extra cute today” dark haired girl beemed. If a gray tabby’s attention were all she ever needed in life, she could consider herself the happiest human in existence. The soft purrs hung at her heels, carefully tracing every step. Who would be lonely with company such as this? As if through clairvoyance, Ella strutted a few feet ahead, making every twist and turn before Hani did, leading them both to an empty, unwelcoming kitchen. Yet another tradition Hani had grown used to. The refrigerator. This was always her first stop. Other pit stops in her mornings included a freshly brewed cup of Italian espresso, a generous helping of waffles and/or pancakes and attempting to leave the “protection” of the estate without being apprehended. Generally, most of those checked out. This morning would have been the perfect one to do so. However, it’s routine was a bit askewed. Jahyun was clearly still asleep, after the night he had, it came as no surprise to his sister. To ignorant eyes, one would think that only the two of them formed part of the this extended, too large family in this too large house. Regardless, Hani was grateful. Grateful for him and grateful for her sanity.

One. Two. Three? Is three too many? How many pancakes was one allowed to have at a time again. Was there a rule for this? She was neither a cook nor a food expert. Three seemed like a nice, rounded number. Three circular clouds of dough with a side of too much syrup and just enough of the hot, semi-bitter liquid to wake him up. The soft purrs continued to follow her. Across the kitchen, up the twirling stairway, down the hall to the last door on the left. Was there a need to knock. If so then it was too late. Once inside, she resorted to tip-toeing. The objective of this mission was to wake him up, but seeing his peaceful face hidden in between piles of blankets and white pillows completely crumbled her resolve. What to do now? Breakfast was already served. A quarter past seven in the morning but the alarm resting just a few feet away was set for half past. Was it cruel to wake him up fifteen whole minutes earlier.

This could have been planned out better, honey

The sense of urgency slowly returned to her and two small palms pressed against the soft mattress beside the sleeping figure. ”Jaejae, I’m up, the sun is up and the pancakes are fresh!” Too chipper? It appeared so, but there was no taking it back now. A few noises escaped the no-longer sleeping Jaehyun, tugging a smile from Hani’s naturally rosy lips. ”morning”. A quick peck on his cheek and she was gone. He could handle the rest of the morning on his own, or so she hoped. In any case, nothing a quick shout for her wouldn’t fix. Ella left her owner to join the comfort of her uncle’s bed sheets. Sooner or later he would kick her out. The morning crawled by in conjunction with Hani’s lack of motivation to do anything other than clean around the house to keep busy. At an old snail’s pace the hours passed. One, two...how many times had she cleaned the same spot again. It had reached the point of robotic motions while her mind was who knows where.

ImageReplacing the duster with her mobile device, the notification light shone in her still make-up-less face, bringing with it a glimpse of hope. A party. A party? Was this the sign she had been waiting for? Who, what, why? All questions she should have asked herself before leaving, but were overshadowed by excitement and the eagerness of going out on the town. It was daylight out, which meant there was no need to be sneaky. The entirety of her closet was raided, and somehow she ended up wearing the very first items of clothing she had found.

Hair. Check
Make up. Check
Cell phone. Keys. Money. Check

It was crowded, as to be expected. Everyone showed up all at once as if summoned by a higher being. Two quick glances around the space and he was spotted. Kind of hard to miss. In the midst of her internal battle between right and wrong, shoulds and shouldn'ts, he shifted, moved across the car with ease to keep Chloe Williams company. Good for her. She looked like she could really use some. Not that Hani didn’t, but that was a whole other ball game. A quick of raspberry vodka and she was set. It was only a matter of time. The family didn’t like this settings, nor did they want her being a part of it, not that this ever halted her search for adventure, but eventually they found out, threw out a couple of profanities and sent her back to the estate. At least for right now, she could enjoy the chaos of the atmosphere around, and boy was it chaotic. There was something rotten in the air, a sense of tension, distress, anger, perhaps all of those combined. One thing was for certain, something was about to unfold. And unfold it did. The yelling, the snarls, hissing, shattering of glass and everything in between was enough to send any rich girl running for the hills, but some things were more important than saving your own life. Seconds away from fists being flung and no one seemed to be able to handle the situation. Tables smashed, insults thrown like daggers and guns poised, ready to fire. The petite twenty-two year old acted on pure instinct. WHat would she do? What could she do? That didn’t matter now. Whatever it took to stop this, to prevent anyone from getting hurt. She hardly managed to make it through the hostile crowd, bumping a few shoulders here and there, not bothering to mutter her usual apologies.

”Bel!” her voice was soft, but with just enough bite. Why she was even trying was beyond her. Not a single soul had been able to settle the brawl, how did she expect to. That’s an issue she didn’t think of once until it was but too late. She had to get out. He had to get out. Or they would both end up with the permanent mark of bullet holes. In a momentary lapse of common sense, Hani’s arm wrapped around the enraged man’s tats, quickly pulling him out. Away. As far away as physically possible. Hani knew he hadn’t resisted. Had it been the case they would still be planted in the same spot, as if nailed to the ground. Why hadn’t he resisted? Not that this mattered now. ”It’s not worth, it’s not-” out of breath and resolve, but she got her point across.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: Hani Kim Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Jonathan Moore Character Portrait: Chloe Williams Character Portrait: Jasper Callaghan Character Portrait: Simone Bates Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Gunner Bates Character Portrait: Sienna Henderson Character Portrait: Julia Bates
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⟝BEL⟞
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There was a reason Brooklyn was so unholy. God had backpedaled after just a few plagues and hopelessly pined reconciliation through the failures of baptism. He himself had cold feet when it came to cradling the heads of Andres and Gotti, with more design met in drowning them than breathing new life into their already so fatally fucked up marrow. It came do a point where only death could offer the salvation required to save their souls. And even that doctrine was paved with spattered renditions. There was not a hand they’d shake without insidious intent, God would be no exception. To be swindled by mortals in and of itself was a sin. Before you start a war, know what you’re fighting for. War or not, any providence would end in flames like they were kerosene soaked beside a lighter carved by the initials ‘B&Z’. God did not want this one. Andres took an axe to church, Gotti to state. And people wondered why they were filthy rich as if the drift was hard to catch. They snubbed out the smallest spoors of opposition and wrote it off as a business expense.

What an empire. Divided as it were, it stood no less lucrative. Sons soon to be kings. The same way their fathers planned, only cleft. Daughters, sisters and mothers were just gardens lining the gates. Distractions. Manipulations meant to dissuade from a terminal path. Flowers were prone to get trampled in here, just a happenstance of flores en este jardín. In this kingdom of cranked up and cracked out chronicles. Patriarch was a motherfucker.

But eyesome. One person couldn’t imagine the number of times the families had been stopped when all together, days back by Maui's waves. All those dusky-tressed babies scattered over the shoreline, some with effulgent fixed looks, Gunner’s obsidian beneath furrowed slants, Dominic with his sparkling blue. Simon fair like a diamond cut above the rest. “You are such a beautiful family. Really lucked out.” Cesspool symmetry, genes never hitting the skids. The prettiest people do the ugliest things. All alone as always was curiosity wrapped in blond hair, impulse pitcher than the eyes of what would be her lover, the golden maverick who never looked the part of a Bates or a Zaire. Bound to serve a platter of palpitations in her future and embody temptation.

Temptation. A pendulum drop in a room full of bass everywhere he went. First it was her. And really, always her. A hung up eidolon with honey framing her face, the inevitable type of trespass Bel would die to get his hands all over. I’m a sucker for the way you slip between my fingers and gather at my feet. She strayed like it was her job, and came back around with fire in her chest as though somebody had choke-chained her to a fence. It was hard to leave her. One pygmy glance and you knew the girl was knee deep in batshit crazy, but God and the devil both knew one would never leave her. Owed to the fact that she could touch you once and intoxicate your faculties, haunt you in camera-eyes, missed zeal at the borderline of your bed. Stain you a thousand shades darker than the skeletons in your closet but feel so damn good doing it. And you’d miss her when she was gone. Or, apologize for never calling.

Swing focus. The art of multitasking came difficult with so much noise moving through the room at a gait that could lose anyone. Good thing for Chloe, anchoring him quick with a reply much appreciated. A tough proposition which readily riled his interest. ‘Cause that boy sure loved a challenge, but Baby came in hot apace with them, like a bartender telling you when you’ve had enough.

C o c k b l o c k e d.

Image"Long strolls down Long Island would have placed you somewhere worse than my front door," he joked in reply to Chloe, "But you know what they say. Life is a beach, after all." Arsenic - not dormant, but patiently waiting, was stocked against the back of her canines just biding time. Senna was cagey in every aspect of his front. Like he didn’t know the sleeping wolves he tantalized with red meat. “Quit it, Sen,” he divulged sidelong to her tawny glare, “Usted me subestima.” This statement, put in the hole by his deceiving grin, quieted her for the time being. “She’s always trying to rob me blind when it comes to women,” the joke wasn’t empty, “Especially in casual situations. Lil’ mama has more grace in this setting than me, but you could already tell that.” Jasper too, could attest. Having been a recipient of one too many second chances. Senna was smooth, gliding on the finesse of her natural social ease. Who forgave someone for spilling Scotch on a vintage piece they loved more than life itself? Senna.

His spirit of inquiry got lost down the way again, which his little sister also slapped a chastity belt around using the unyielding force of a mini fascist [that only she could execute so fucking resourcefully with teacup fists]. “You’re a party kind of girl h----”, hot air piped out of him, harvest of Senna’s indication nearly spilling whipped cream down his jacket, “uh-g.” The crosshairs of her survey lingered where his once did. Past the oceanic hair of a waitress he'd previously tipped, now rubbing elbows with rival beasts and looking far less overwhelmed by work in her position. A corner of the boxing ring where only Bates’ resided, half upkept by the threads of vogue taste, half by the rugged constrait of prerogative and loss of sleep. Nice, man, I see you graduated from Cocaine High.

There wasn’t time left in a jar to avoid the inevitable. That lid had blown way off, blasted a hole through the ceiling and hid somewhere in the sub stratosphere. A scary amount of dead air swallowed The Little Lady. Its occupants only creaked to turn their attention towards a standoff where one dude held a blowjob and the other a tab. Shot in the dark or light - it didn’t matter. Gunner had just plodded his way straight into No Man’s Land, dragging his epicene baby brother along for the ride. And Bel's old boy might have been tumid bank to bank with muscle, but Bel hadn’t spent the past ten years deflated eating twinkles, either.

The clock in for slaughter had him a couple pounds short of a hundred and eighty, cattle-fed and carved up. Two soft hands fought to encircle his convex bicep which could split denim at any minute. Senna whirred weakly in the backdrop of it all, trying to desperately clutch the wheel after realizing what she’d just taken out of mothballs. He blinked briefly, catching a vision of the white petals against her almost ebony mane before she referred to his sworn enemy as his best friend.

This set off a causal nexus that completely wiped rationality off the map. Whatever happened next, whatever he said, he wasn’t sure. It ruptured in a medley of mother tongue and years worth of acrimony. To even tickle the death of their father with mischief or a maneuver was a foul move on Senna’s part, but rarely did she do things so leaden without purpose. His palm twitched, sudden consciousness of the glass iotas sunk into it. A beam fused across his expression, a shake of the head. “Pendejo. I hope you got some sleep between banging dope and now,” he slogged north, “I want this to be a fair fuckin’ fight.”

Unlike that shit your father pulled.

Image When the owner's staff came down on the apex of his spine, a zap of surface pain rippled across his epidermis. All that was rendered from it was a jaw click and flash stop. Less than a twinge. The velocity in which his veins were working had him feeling every tingle of adrenaline and none of consequence. The metallic chime of a Beretta behind a belt buckle interrupted awe-found silence, safety clip not a luxury known in this state of tension. Bel cocked back, bore all his weight in feet that were planted at shoulder width, but did not turn. Barrel-faced, the bearded old head didn't so much as flinch. Neither did Bel. His eyes sidled toward the man sporting a limp, robustly clenching a cane like a new age Merlin [far less gray, hatless, certainly quicker moving] extracting his revenge. Did I just get punked by The Lord of the Rings? This dude topped him by an inch or two, but that was minor league. Bel crawled home from worse scraps with bigger foe. Nothing for nothing, he could handle himself well for a lone son without a jeering pack of hyena brothers to back his shit up.

What was at hand - for once - spoke no threat on the Bates' behalf. It was a colony of Little Lady supporters, burners ready. Bel's finger tensed on the trigger. "Everybody's got a crew," his Adam's apple bobbed against a tattoo, soft chuckle caught in between, "Everybody." He refocused on the iron gaze given by Gunner and didn't blink, "You have to when your friends wouldn't hesitate to kill your family. That's what you gotta' do here, huh señor? Protect your family."

He was so thick in the throat, talkin’ from the scarcely touched place, that he hardly felt her fluid collision. How she pinned herself between a splintered table, a dozen firearms and him. She swathed him, tiny but mighty, pale against the saddled surface screened by needlework and a heavy sleeve. Murmured into his chest before yanking him with all the force in her body. One hand moved to instinctively support her head. Hold it to him while the opposite forced shards into his skin by the ligature of a steady aim. Plasma trickled down the grip of the gun, he whispered something to her. That she didn’t need to help him or try to fix things, that she shouldn’t be here.

But neither should I.

Firearm sinking like a slowly capsized ship, he glanced into green disdain held by someone with more backup, "I got you. I was just protecting mine." The owner didn’t move from his post, though a pair of childish eyes peered out from a hiding space. “Yeah, I wouldn’t want that for anyone’s baby.” It was hardly audible. His stare settled on Gunner. Senna shrank in wake of the words, wrapping one arm decorated in black skin abstraction around herself. She shifted to raise a long retired boxing glove, "Bel, I just wanted to leave. Ahora.... Ahora you need to go." She looked so frail that way, almond eyes gazing up, pastel color enveloping her in a momentary purity that reminded him of the day she was born. And that's why before she even thought to say, "Jump." he would jump. Why he put himself in these situations. Even if he bucked and looked like a total jackass. 'Cause there was, in reality, so little left of what he loved. A martyr or class act - he'd take any title to keep her safe.

“What the fuck are you looking at?” He growled to the opposing side, consequently being dragged away from it by an elfin thing with rounded features fit for a seraph. “Bel!” Hani snapped, pygmy paws all over him. He let her pilot, but blustered at Dominic and Gunner, “Don’t you fucking look at her.” Senna uneasily breathed, watching him go, knowing it was her he spoke of, not Hani.

Could practically hear her relief as he was pulled through the door by Hani, almost feel the words gushing from her mouth in ample apologies for what her brother had done yet again. One last glance showed her fumbling for her purse with pink brushstrokes across her embarrassed face. Contrite, handing over all her cash, checkbook at the ready, “I am so sorry. I am so, so sorry. Por favor. Por - please, let me. I cannot apologize enough - I will reimburse you for whatever, I... He - he’s just...” Same shit, different place.

All for you, bebita, your safety, your honor. The flowers in your hair that nobody ought to touch.

ImageBut how safe had he really kept her at all? What amount of preservation had he provided that kept her out of the mess that was ten years worth of hostility and cartel competition? All he allowed her to do was dip her little nose in man-made snow, changing her from the voice of reason to a semi-sage addict who cleaned up after him. And even in this, was it just him, underestimating her all of this time?

“It’s not worth it, it’s...” She was breathless. Back to earth. They were alone. The moon sloped overhead, held by invisible strings and drawing out the sweat on Hani's brow from saving the day. “Yeah, hey,” he sniffed hard, tucking away the cold steel and wiping his hands, “I know. I should have known better. Why’d you come up in there like that, huh?” For a minute he could feel she wouldn’t look at him. The same way Senna might refuse to now. Fingers to muzzle, noninvasive, a millisecond linger, he touched her succinctly, “You coulda’ got seriously hurt, Hani.” By some shadows a drunken man stumbled to settle his kickstand into gravel as Bel zeroed in on his mistakes. “You mad at me?” He let distance fall between them, voice quieting in the dark, "I'm sorry for all of this. Really."

Funny, how the lever was weighed in the ‘off’ position by the incantations of something so untainted. The sterility outside of him that he tiptoed toward. Like he was afraid to say too much. Do too much. She’d walked in at the worst time, parts he would have rather she never converged with. Because she was too good.

And he was not.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: Hani Kim Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Jonathan Moore Character Portrait: Chloe Williams Character Portrait: Jasper Callaghan Character Portrait: Simone Bates Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Gunner Bates Character Portrait: Junko Takayama Character Portrait: Julia Bates Character Portrait: Nikolai Malkov
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▲▼▲▼ JUNKO takayama ▼▲▼▲

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A single cobalt ray made way through the thin crack between heavy curtains, a flickering beacon of light in the night of the room. It followed a path over haphazardly removed boots, and a stretched out scarf, up to the sleeve of a woolen coat lying messily on the sheets, and it curved over the shape of a motionless body underneath the covers. The young yakuza woman lay still on her back, black eyes half-lidded and staring up at the peeling ceiling. Dark purple streaked her eyes having forgotten to wipe the coverage up hours before. She needed not to crane her head to the lucky cat clock hanging by her door. She always woke up at the same time. It was just a matter of when she got out.

She wishes she could stay. Junko would never say that aloud, nor acknowledge it personally, but the morning was quiet. It was predictable. Because there was nothing to predict. Nothing except that in about five minutes she would hear footsteps pace outside her door, which usually belong to her little Akecchi, headed to freshen up for school. The low rumbles of the water pipes would course through the wooden floors of their aging rowhouse. And she would probably spend too much time on her face to realize that she would be running late. This short 30 minute period on weekday mornings was probably the closest to the “ordinary” life Junko had always fantasized of. A sudden pang of the previous day’s events knocked on Junko’s thoughts and then threw her back into the real world.

Momentary vertigo accompanied Junko’s movements as she sat up in her bed, her eyes still glazed over with a film of contemplation and exhaustion. She sat hunched over, somewhat uncomfortable having remained in her clothes from last night as opposed to her nightwear. She clamped a cold hand to her forehead and pushed her hair back, remembering the brief moment of escape with Hani in that sultry café. She stood and walked over the scattered objects on her dusty floor to her own bathroom. Slovenly, she tossed her garments across the tiles and beared the shower’s ice cold water on her tepid body. A quick dry-off with a towel and a makeup remover rag later, she stood naked in front of her mirror, feeling the closest to pure a hitwoman could feel. In a stride she put on a dark blue crewneck and black tight jeans. Topping her armor was a fresh new mask-- nothing out of the ordinary that day. Just the run-of-the-mill black wing and nude lipstick, and generally liked what she saw. Before leaving her room, she picked up her purse and her .380 lying in her wardrobe.

As expected, the twenty-three-year-old finished her morning routine before her younger sister. High schoolers care too much, she supposed. Walking toward the stairs, she passed by her younger brother’s room-- his door left ajar and the young bozo in question snoring naked on his floor. Of course. She quickened her stride and sure enough, downstairs her brother’s latest victim was at the door, putting on her shoes for her escape. The girl was just a kid, probably even younger than Akecchi. She turned wide-eyed at the sheer coolness of the big sister, her movements hastening to get the hell out. Poor thing, probably had some traumatizing fight with her daddy or something. That’s how Seiji picked up most of his girls. Junko would’ve taught him otherwise, ‘cept it’s kinda just how the way things are with the men in her family. All of them.

Junko stood silently, her presence as foreboding as her look. As if she had a band of men at her side. She looked down in contempt, watching the girl struggle with her excuses. “I’m Seiji’s friend,” he let me stay,” I’ve nowhere else to go.” Her face remained unchanging, her eyes black daggers. The girl’s excuses turned into insults, most likely just a plan B defense. Not that Junko cared. Scaring the kid off might save her from falling into their lifestyle. She didn’t seem cut out for it, and this was the woman’s way of showing mercy.

Incoherent babbles were all that left the now sobbing kid when Junko decided to finally pull the plug. ”Get the fuck out of my house.” Poor thing. She yelped before making her escape, her shirt still unbuttoned and hanging loosely from her purple and blue chest. Junko oughta strangle her brother for playing rough with children, but she’s got work to do. A job, really. She greeted her mother’s shrine, small and simple on the countertop, then left for the casino.

ImageThe Aneesan leaned tiredly over the bar, watching her lackeys go about in the dayless room. Business was slow on weekdays, and her father was out doing the big jobs. No one rang her up for a job yet, and her little brothers took care of the other stuff. The chores. Collecting money, controlling family businesses, beating up wise guys who thought it smart to pick fights with them. Being second-in-command was pretty boring. Junko appreciated the quiet, but damn, a nice intelligent chat with someone would make the hours pass that much quicker. She thought about Hani, the only good thing that’s happened to her outside of her own gang. The boys seemed well-behaved enough. And it wasn’t like they were gonna do anything stupid, either. Those who hang around the headquarters know better. Even the kids. She pulled out her phone to make a call, but stopped upon seeing the alerts.

The sullen lieutenant wasn't anti-social or anything. It was more like she didn’t have a natural penchant for parties. Okay, no, wrong-- she’s the goddamn outcast of outcasts. Her job requires her to show up only to smooth shit over if any of her little brothers got out of line. And even with the bigger missions, they’re usually ran solo. Not to mention the extent of her connections were mostly acquaintanceships or brief clientele. So much surprise was met with her appearance at The Little Lady. The place wasn’t nearly like her usual drinking spots, but if anything, it was refreshing. Then of course came the recognition of certain faces.

Shackles raised higher than they naturally had. Smoothly, she walked over to the bar, but changed her mind about the drink, feeling the need to distance herself from big boy Zaire, more for the sake of having nothing to say to him than an actual precaution, though that's important to not as well. A young scamp made his way, making Junko press onto the lady behind her. Slightly chuffed, she was granted the satisfaction of seeing the boy blunder-- on the baby Zaire nonetheless. She made her way to a table in the corner, facing away from the crowd. Alone, she wonders what was she even thinking? This wasn’t where she belonged. Her portrait is that in front of a band of extortionists and fallen bodies. Business. This place wasn’t her business. There were, god forbid, children in the area. Even amidst the most prolific individuals of the underworld, she didn’t belong there.

Juno’s internal soliloquy was interrupted with the sound of broken glass, and a slew of profanities. She looked vacantly across the empty seat, tensing under the air. Of course a room with both the Bates and the Zaires would ultimately end up this way. Hand clutched over her revolver, she stayed hidden, listening to the exchange. She would only involve herself if necessary-- is what she told herself until she heard a familiar chime of a voice. The Japanese woman turned her head abruptly to the scene, eyes magnetized to her relatively delicate companion clinging onto the arm of the hunk of dynamite. She looked so small next to him.

The yakuza woman stood slowly from her seat, making brief eye contact with the eldest of her allies before returning her specs to the woman she had no control over. Only hope. When they left the scene, leaving a mess of overturn tables and broken glass, Junko’s eyes stayed glued to the exit. Whatever was eating at Bel was beyond Junko’s concern-- it’s the one who’s tagged along she’s worried about. What a party. For now, she couldn’t think of how else to approach the situation besides glancing toward the Bates. Her eyes read only one thing, as did many others. What’s their next move?

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: November Mae Character Portrait: Jonathan Moore Character Portrait: Chloe Williams Character Portrait: Jasper Callaghan Character Portrait: Simone Bates Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Junko Takayama Character Portrait: Sienna Henderson Character Portrait: Julia Bates Character Portrait: Prudence Wright Character Portrait: Nikolai Malkov
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For the first time since he'd wandered into the Little Lady, Gunner chuckled when Simon regarded the whip-cream monstrosity Jubes ordered, lips twitching up into a little smile. It might've been the drubbing pangs pulsing against his temples, or the lack of sleep tickling at his humor, but he shrugged his shoulders and tipped an eyebrow up, eying the bearded bartender over his shoulder, “God knows why you sell these things, Jona.” Sugary nonsense, metaphoric implications aside. It represented nothing to him, though someone else might've seen it as claws extended and hackles raised. Snubs read between catty lines, reserved for barbed words, and glowering glares. It wasn't his way of doing things, so he thought nothing of it. Instead, Gunner turned his attention towards the approaching blue-haired lass he'd often seen working here, of all places, though he knew her from the days she dated Simon. Sienna. Nice girl. One of the few friends he actually approved him of having. He offered her a curt nod, and a smile, before his gaze drifted back towards the sea of people, swimming against transparent currents: all too dangerous and surrounded by lurking bears, waiting to snatch them out of the water.

A soft sigh sifted from his lips, as he set down the second shot of whiskey and turned his attentions back towards the only one that snared his attention—decked in white lace, dainty movements, and a goodness that trailed through the black tar of the present individuals like sunlight invading dark spaces. After handing a bill to the small, bundle of grinning little girl, he watched as Senna plopped herself beside Bel and Chloe, leaning into whatever conversation he was intent on, smarmy smirk oozing carnal innuendos, most likely making sly invitations to his sheets, in his arms, as he always did. He recognized the look, anyhow. Seen him work his magic and try to coach him into the same slimy conventions, even though he preferred cold sheets than meaningless romps and awkward mornings, chased by ensuing departure attempts. It was too much, and as brazen and caustic as his temper was, he'd prefer a constant companion rather than infrequent lip-bites, thigh kisses, and crippling thoughts wondering if they were the only ones involved.

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Between hearing the hiss and crackle of glass crunching betwixt a hand and a frigid growl, all too familiar to his ears, Gunner stepped away from the counter and tensed his shoulders, his own hands curling into bruised fists, still ripped and scarred and scabbed over from his last fight. This was a train wreck in the making and they were both hurtling in front of it, heedless of the lights and the rumbling tracks, and maybe just a little antsy to slam themselves against it. A sordid tornado designed to tear apart everything in its path, raging against buildings, people, tables and ten-year grievances that wept like open sores, packed with salt. The drumming in his ears threatened to block them out. Everything besides the stalking individual that had once been his best friend, licking his chops for a scuffle. For a beginning and an end, he wasn't sure. He wasn't sure if he cared. In a matter of seconds, Senna billowing out a protective circle around her much larger brother, small cry above the silence, an ineffectual stopping sign.

Bel rounded on his like a hound waiting to rip out someone's throat and here he was, stepping up to the plate, baring it like a dare, murky eyes staring bullets, staring daggers, promising that this fiasco would end if that was what he wanted. Gunner's blood sang in his veins and pumped a muscle against his jawline, bouncing whenever he mashed his molars together. His breath heaved out in a hiss, and his hands splayed open, sweeping out in a wide arc that might've said go ahead and fucking do it. If he was anything at this point, he was fucking tired of Bel's accusations, weary of his perpetual venom. They fluctuated between two constants: a raging tempest eating up the shoreline, gnawing at the earth until their island became smaller and smaller, and a history that spanned the ages, one that was difficult to ignore. There were buttons there that only they knew how to press, and they did, infrequently, when the silence between them bubbled over the edge, and stained the ground they stood on. It wasn't poetic. It was a fucking shit-show. And he wasn't even sure how it'd happened, only that a bull was pawing at the ground, and his patience was waning thinner.

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It was Dominic who stayed his twitching hands, cutting through the tension with two distinct words: stand down. As if someone had pulled a leash tight against a slavering hound who was ready for blood, Gunner exhaled sharply and licked his lips, stepping out of Bel's line of fire. At least, out of range. So focused on the destructive force in front of him, he hadn't noticed Jona slipping in from behind the counter, landing a crackling blow with his cane, straight across Bel's back. Jolting him back to reality, maybe. He doubted it.

It hadn't occurred to him that he should reach for the glock nestled at his spine, curved into his jeans, even as Bel's hand drifted from behind him, brandishing his own piece, waving it in front of the bearded bartender's nose, unflinchingly. As soon as it swayed in his direction, Gunner's heart lurched and the same restrictive fury threatened to bubble from his parched throat, and culminate into a fist, “You are so fucked, Bel. C'mon pull the trigger.” Because Bel didn't know what the fuck he was talking about and as much as he wanted to correct him... his words jumbled against his tongue, stacking like fallen cards and if he wanted to capsize all the dominoes, he'd have to wait.

And as if nothing stranger could happen in this place, at this time, Hani drifted in like a pixie, flapping her small hands against Bel's elbow and whispering as softly as a mouse that he needed to get out of there. A dainty, delicate spirit whisking in to save the day, as she usually did. He hadn't seen her in awhile. Not since their impromptu break up, contrived by her stern-faced family. He was too much. Too dirty. An ugly compromise of violence and gnashed teeth. Comprised of too many things that did not settle in their palms, and if he was something that couldn't be controlled, he wasn't made for their tiny, virtuous daughter. Strangely enough, Bel complied. Gunner ignored the flare of mossy resentment as they bustled out of the establishment and smoothed his trembling fingers across the front of his pants, though he couldn't exactly pinpoint why he was shaking. His gaze flicked over to Dominic and met his, he nodded and slumped back against the bar, mouth set into a firm line, mulling over Bel's words, grinding them into chewable morsels. Jasper, Chloe, and most others who were looking like deer in the headlights. Suppose he couldn't blame them.

Don't you fucking look at her.

Gunner wasn't an idiot. He knew exactly who he was talking about even as he slunk out the door, led by the cupid-faced fairy. From the growing din of murmurs, and individuals sitting back in their seats, he could hear Senna blubbering out apologies, trying her best to smooth any ruffled feathers. He rolled his gaze towards the ceiling and closed his eyes for a few seconds, attempting to smoother down the growling pull to use anything and everything that could drown out Bel's words, to smother a pillow over the stagnant energy sizzling acidic spirals in his belly: unspent energy threatening to spill over. It was Junko he looked to next, leveling a mildly apologetic stare, though he knew he had little to apologize for. Never a dull moment with the Bates and Zaires circulating in the same room. He wasn't sure what to say to her, though he might've suggested following Hani out. Wasn't sure why, either. Smoothing a hand through his hair, Gunner maneuvered himself away from Jubes, and Simon, and perched himself beside Senna. A few feet away, close enough that he'd be noticed and far enough to... he didn't know, seem less threatening?

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“What the hell was that?” His voice was a low hum. Barely audible, a whisper. Enough that she'd need to lean in to hear what he was saying. So that she'd need to pay attention. He didn't like seeing her like this. Fixing Bel's mistakes, flustered and embarrassed and stricken with a need to set everything back on the right path. A rankled hand stopped her movements, pressed her purse down as his free hand fished his wallet from his back pocket. He didn't look at her right away, though he did retract his fingers from hers, and he turned to regard Jona, “I'll pay for the damages, Jona. Everything's fine. No more trouble.” She wouldn't like him handling her business, so he wouldn't act like that was what he was doing. Business was business, and as much as it was his to knock people down a few pegs, Dominic didn't like burning bridges when they could be mended.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: Hani Kim Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Jonathan Moore Character Portrait: Chloe Williams Character Portrait: Jasper Callaghan Character Portrait: Simone Bates Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Sienna Henderson
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#, as written by Ivisbo
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Simon always had a certain knack for sensing a problem before it arose, one of the reason's Jubes little note caught his eye. He watched the bartender pass to down the line of drinking patrons, but quickly lost attention as Jona planted his drink in front of him in record time. The Little Lady was beginning to fill- the usual ambiguous noises of a bar created a dull buzz that Simon actually found comforting. He liked being so surrounded by people that you had to lean close to anyone you really wanted to talk to. It was intimate and made you feel much more alive to be in a crowd- being alone always made him revert inside his own head and think way too fucking much. Alcohol and weed helped him with that, but going out and forcing himself to not think was the real cure to any sort of anxiety inducing mind paths.

“Already got you covered kid. By the way, you look like hell.”

Green eyes narrowed and flicked up to furrowed brown, a glare evident on the young Bates's face, "I feel like hell" He grumbled, eyeing Jona over the rim of his glass before taking a sip of the spicy liquid, both parts irritated and amused. The bartender always had a certain ability to see through Simon's flamboyant mask- one of the reason's the bearded male interested him so much. He felt a certain amount of gratitude towards Jona for always being able to see Simon for more then just the silly gay baby Bates- though it scared the hell out of him as well. Simon released a sigh, about to reveal his shit hole of a night when Jona's gaze moved behind him and he drifted away.

Sienna slinked up to his side and distracted him from his thoughts- honestly Simon was grateful that he had an excuse to move out of Jona's scrutinizing gaze. Smile firmly back in place, he turned to his small blue haired friend as she smirked up at him, "You do know where you are right? A bit over dressed I'd say, but you look stunning Sime."

"Its always better to be overdressed then under. You know me" Simon leaned back on the bar, taking a sip of his drink while he unbuttoned the stiff wool suit jacket. He knew he looked good in the outfit, but he was starting to think that three-piece may have been a little much- it was hot in the bar and the wool didn't breath at all. "Are you staying around after your shift tonight? I thought maybe-"

Rustling of bodies and voices raised caught Simons attention immediately, cutting him short as he turned towards the Zaires down the bar with an irritated expression. It was a fucking party with family- Simon thought he caught Jona's daughter sneaking around behind the counter in his peripheral. Bel was throwing a fit over something, he couldn't hear him over the noise but he was sure it involved the impeccably dressed dark haired vixen next to him. Glass broke, voices rose, and Simon felt the tension shift in the entire bar. Gunner's posture change immediately- he could practically feel his older brother's anger bubbling. Simon had never been on the receiving end of Gunners hostility, but he knew that he could be fucking terrifying if he wanted to be. Bel had turned towards them at this point, his face a mixture of hatred and unfiltered disgust...

Fucking hell. It was a party, although he knew by now anywhere that both the Zaires and Bates showed up usually ended in some sort of shit show. Simon was honestly sick of it- the nights he chose to be by himself ended so much more comfortably then when he was with his family. The thought of leaving a starting something then with all this has crossed his mind... but he would never actually shake them- that would be like trying to shake his own arm off.

He was moving before Dominic gruff orders reached his ears, pushed himself away from the counter and moved in front of Sienna while knocking back the rest of his drink. If he could have chosen how the night should have gone, he would finish his drink slowly, eye-fuck the gruff bartender some more, teased Gunner for the hell of it, get Sienna to dance with him, and maybe end the night by taking a certain drugged out heroine addict home....

But instead he had to stand next to his overly-violent coke head of a brother while Bel Zaire headed towards them looking like an angry rooster in a cock fight. Rather then have the two uncontrollable ex-friends beat each other in front of a full bar over god knows what, Simon prepared to step between them and fulfill his mediator role in the family. Although he wasn't one hundred percent sure that Bel wouldn't just deck him and move on.

He didn't noticed Jona move from behind the bar till the bartenders cane came down on Bel's shoulder. Simon smirked a little- even with that limp Jona was still intimidating. He was much more controlled then Gunner, less antagonistic then Bel- more like a thunder storm that you should just leave the hell alone. Although Simon really didn't want this to come down to fists, maybe he wouldn't mind seeing a little of Jona's rough side (rougher then his normal prickly nature, that is).

Somehow the situation was saved by a sweet little mouse of a girl appearing at Bel's side, speaking to him in a soft voice and taming that temper. Simon was impressed- usually took some sort of physical force to get Gunner to calm the fuck down. But then, Simon didn't have tits to help him out . He watched the tension simmer as Bel was pulled away, the crowd parting to let them through to the entrance. Gunner's hulking mass backed down and he grumbled off to another empty spot on the bar, which allowed Simon to relax his shoulders and whistle out an exaggerated sigh.

"Well shit" Simon remarked, mostly to himself as he loosened his shoulders and leaned his back against the counter again. He looked back at Dominic, locking eyes and raised his brows in question, waiting for some sort of signal that this was all well and good before he returned his attention to Sienna, "A regular night at The Little Lady, am I right?"

Simon's let his eyes casually roam the crowd, passing over the people he didn't know while he searched for his most recent interest. Jasper was sitting by himself, looking his usual shit self that somehow attracted Simon even more. Maybe blame it on his fucked up family and how he was raised, but he had a weird thing for the damaged goods. Jasper fucked with his head so much but Simon enjoyed the mess the other man was- he forgot about his own insecurities when they spent spent he night fucked up together. He let his gaze openly pass over Jasper before making eye contact and smirking devilishly. Maybe the night was salvageable after all?

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: Hani Kim Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: November Mae Character Portrait: Jonathan Moore Character Portrait: Chloe Williams Character Portrait: Jasper Callaghan Character Portrait: Simone Bates Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Gunner Bates Character Portrait: Junko Takayama Character Portrait: Sienna Henderson
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There was a sort of melody to the way each individual reacted to the scene at hand. Backs drawn straight, shoulders squared up, eyes sharp and watchful; hands lingering either on the cold, deadly steel resting inside their coats, or ready to grab anything else in a second of fight or fight…because there would be no flight in this company. One could take this moment, attach classical music to it, and call it art for those more fortunate to gaze longingly at.

Reactions were quick, swift here and taunt there, a group of those waiting for orders, and a handful of those ready to take action. It was no surprise to Dominic when Jona moved first. Limp or no, a man protecting what he owned was no less threatening than a lion protecting it’s young. The strike that landed across Z’s back wasn’t a winning blow, but instead a warning; one Dom hoped Bel would take in stride. Gunner obviously waiting for a reason, waiting for Dominic to let go of his leash so he could just pounce. Each detail swirled around him while his jaw clenched, teeth ground together.

After the initial violence of first responders, there was a silence through The Little Lady as Kingpin and Chef faced one another, separated only by the dark threat resting in Bel’s outstretched hand. The words from the oldest Zaire’s lips rang through Dom’s head, wrapping around his mind in a vice grip that refused to let go and promised to seep poison all the way down to his heart. Protect your family; said in so many different tongues he wasn’t sure if he even knew who was who anymore. It wasn’t the first time he would hear it, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last. The sacred law. The one rule. Necessary, regardless of the evils of the trade. Necessary.

Small, pale, fragile…placing herself in the middle of a fire just waiting for a chance. Brave, or ignorant, depending on where one stood. Willing to be burned by the wildfire that would strike eventually, because Cristobel Zaire was a match that would never be put out. Not by her or any other. Not by those who grew in the dark, or by those who could see the shards of broken light.
Surprising control, eased tension, slowly lowered violent promises. Dominic met Gunner’s gaze first, giving a slow nod before his brother slumped against the bar, still vibrating with tension. Next, Simon’s, eyebrows raised, a question that didn’t have to be asked. Dominic gave another nod, assuring. Senna’s voice, catching his attention, adding her belief that Bel needed to leave, get out, go. A goddess in the sea of a world unholy, baby’s-breath decorating her hair even after all the years, shining too brightly not to be in the nights sky…

“Don’t you fucking look at her” piecing through his heart shaper than any blade that had ever done the same to his skin. Dominic’s gaze never faltered, watched the shudder of small shoulders from the uneasy breath. Until Bel was gone, and distraction came in purr he knew all too well, behind a veil of lightly blown smoke.

Large brown eyes blinked up at him, lush pouty lips curving into a slow smirk as soft fingers glazed over his, dislodging the glass of whiskey he still had a firm grip on. He let it go, tension dropping from his shoulders with the knowledge that it was over.
She had always been good at distracting him from the messes laid at his feet. He’d much rather lose himself in her, fingers tangled through long brown hair, hands pressed to curves he knew all too well. His eyes slid over the tight material of her dress, caught on the deep dip of the neckline that left little to the imagination of the swell of her chest. Tongue swiping across his bottom lip before he placed his cigar between his teeth once more, accepting the press of a glass back into his palm.

He followed her attention across the room, watched with tightness in his muscles as Gunner drew up next to Senna. Gathering a comment on the back of his tongue, he was relieved slightly to see the man go for his wallet instead. Good man, Dominic thought with vague approval. Mend bridges, before they fall to pieces.

"Never mind, I think I can guess." As Dominic’s gaze continued to travel, her words left him with the reminder that he’d never been attracted to innocence. Dark hair, mischievous eyes, and mildly damaged. Didn’t matter the gender, hardly mattered the person; felt like home, felt like something he knew how to handle. Something he refused to think on more…Apt fingers switched smoke for the burn of alcohol, and Dom gave one affirming nod to the woman in front of him.

“Mmhmm.”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Jonathan Moore Character Portrait: Chloe Williams Character Portrait: Jasper Callaghan Character Portrait: Simone Bates Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Gunner Bates Character Portrait: Junko Takayama Character Portrait: Sienna Henderson Character Portrait: Julia Bates Character Portrait: Prudence Wright
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"Find the most scandalous piece you have in there."

Hands shook uneasily as they trailed over unfamiliar fabric, brow furrowed. The stench of week old perfumes clung to... Inappropriate and clearly not sanctioned dresses and skirts that had met the night of sinners one time too many. Eyes squinted in the dimly lighted room - a problem she has encountered day in and day out since she had first come to this lovely yet horribly placed little sanctuary - silence tearing through the occupants with a sense of anticipation and silence. A lip curled in, pearl white teeth capturing it in concentration, attention shifting to how dry that lower lip was, ever so slightly chapped -

Startlingly, her weight shifted, someone impolitely pushing her to the side with a sense of urgency. As she caught herself just barely in the small room with dim lighting and the otherwise uneven floorboards of often failing wood, her grey eyes strained to contain themselves. Prudence mentally prayed for the sinner, her smile returning to her ever so slightly chapped lips that she definitely must fix before going out on this very unusual assignment with unorthodox attire with her... 'Supervisor.'

Prudence could do tasks well enough - cleaning, cooking, leading prayer, organizing prayers, and even running through verses of the Bible with the preacher and Sisters for the homily - but never before had she been requested to perform a... Dare she say it? 'An unChristian activity that would suck the light of the Lord from her within mere seconds of her participation'? No, no, no, this was beyond horrible! She had been running prayers through her mind the moment she received the order but as a Sister in training how could she refuse an order directly from the Head Sister?

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"Tell me, Sister Prudence," a wise voice replied earlier that day. Sunlight leaked just so through the windows, too bright to turn off the light but too dim to attend to activities requiring minuscule detail without the strain of eyes. Of course, no one dared suggest they closed the blinds and turn on the lights - the Lord provided them with His gift of sunshine, even this weakly carried kind.

At a table, two woman - an elderly woman with a dark cloth covering ebony hair, glasses hovering over the bridge of her nose, and a younger woman, not young but closing in on the end of her young years - resided across from each other, a checker board placed before them, game pieces scattered too and fro upon the wooden board. The one speaking, the elderly woman, shifted her gaze to the young women currently residing on the other side of the room. Prudence, on bent knees in front of a statue of the Lady of Guadalupe - in this community they had to refer to her by the name the community used - recited a solemn Amen, fingers tapping her forehead, heart, and finally her shoulders, before raising her eyes at the uncompleted call. She offered a bright smile as she always did, teeth glinting at what little light leaked into the room from the windows.

"Yes, Sister Marijo?" Prudence's voice lilted sweetly, eyes concentrated on the reverend leader - well, at least one of the leaders but definitely the most revered - of the settlement. She stood, not attempting to flatten the wrinkles of her skirt. Marijo's eyes scanned over the new recruit, the corner of her mouth curled in a knowing smile. Prudence beamed, glad she could bring about such a smile to the Sister's face.

The Head Sister parted her attention from the trainee for but a moment, calmly moving a piece and nodding at the Superior Sister across from her to move. "From what I am told, you have not been outside of this building yet. Other than, of course, arriving from..." Her velvet brown eyes returned, a glint of memory attempting to function from behind thick glass. "Virginia?" Prudence's head bobbed, proud to have deserved such attention from the respected figure after having been in the area for the past few days. "We have not talked before, Sister Prudence, please, tell me more about why you chose to join the Order of the Living Spirit." The woman settled back, hands folded on her lap and getting comfortable, only moving with minimal effort to move checker pieces.

Delight spiked up her spine, smiling ear to ear. Her hands clasps together as she gave a sharp nod. "Gladly, Sister Marijo. I had originally come from Virginia and have always been devoted to our Lord and Savior but never fully understood how to carry out His will-"

"His?"

Sister Marijo's opponent had stepped into the conversation, gaze not leaving the game in front of her. As always, Sister Guadalupe interrupted with some sullen comment, border-lining some form of... Annoyance? Prudence had not idea what she had said that upset her superior so but either way the other... Made her feel unnerved. It was probably because she was new! Sister Guadalupe would warm up to her eventually. Or perhaps she has but wished for Prudence to prove herself? Before she could reply, a voice answered in her stead.

"Please, Sister Guadalupe, allow her to continue." Sister Guadalupe turned up with an almost annoyed expression, lips snarled with a desired come back but passed off as an attempt to find the next move. Her fingers moved forward deftly, the darkness of her fingers meeting a rose colored palm. Prudence always found a fascination with the other’s hands, no matter how much they disliked each other. They were not as delicate and dainty as her own but stronger as hours at this settlement could have brought about. She wondered if the pinkness of her palm also came from such work.

A small cough brought her into reality and she snapped her eyes away from the board, hands clenching one another in concentration before resting them on her lap. ”Thank you, Sister Marijo. I have done my best to carry out His will,” Prudence put perkily, smile widening to its original form. “Upon hearing about the Order of the Holy Spirit, which was located close to my home, I decided to join. I was more than willing to participate in this test introductory course - being the first to try out something like this is exciting! But I knew that coming here to spread the Word of God is a righteous activity that deserves the attention of all."

"I see... I see..." The Head Sister replied, now taking the time to execute her own move on the checker board. Prudence watched as the elderly Sister hummed to herself, leisurely responding to the move with little strain unlike the deep concentration of Sister Guadalupe. Without turning, the Head Sister continued. "Sister Prudence, how do you expect to spread the Word of God from inside the sanctuary? After, there are none to preach to other than those who have already learned of the Word of the Lord?"

A laugh escaped the opponent as she too made a quick and decisive move. ”Preaching to the choir,” she coughed, the age old adage causing Prudence some alarm. What was wrong to preaching to people who wanted to understand one’s own take on the Word of the Lord? Was it so bad to be surrounded by like minded individuals like that of the settlement?

A few more moves passed, the silence filled with the clicking of checker pieces and the occasional praise from Sister Marijo to Guadalupe. Prudence remained standing, unsure of what to say or who to say it to. As the game concluded - Sister Guadalupe’s persistent thoughtfulness had won her the match - Sister Marijo once more turned to Prudence, eyes concentrated on her and her answer. Prudence smiled brightly waiting for some answer to fall on her lips from the Almighty or some inkling of memory to slip in and rescue her. After all, such a simple question could not faze her, could it? No, no. It must not.

With a gentle sigh, Sister Marijo turned to the fourth Sister in the room who had remained silent to that point. ”Sister Mary?" A head raised, tearing away from the ceiling. Apparently, the young woman had been dozing, her head having been lolled back and resting comfortably against the arm of the chair, her body taking up what remained of the couch.”Please take Sister Prudence outside with you. One of the more active restaurants.” The Sister sat up almost immediately, jaw hanging ever so slightly.

Her reaction was not the only one.

Sister Guadalupe glanced up at Sister Marijo, then Prudence, followed by Sister Mary. Her brow raised in curiosity, one of the only expressions that Prudence has seen other than some form of disdain. Prudence, herself, could consider the reaction a bit… Underexaggerated. The shocked silenced them, almost making Prudence fish eyed at the suggestion. How could such a request be made of her - a God loving Christian who followed His commandments to the letter and did her best to make everyone get along with her - to go to an area where - excuse her language - Lucifer’s hell spawn infected those willing to slap the forgiving face of the Lord and doomed to eternal suffering?

"Now, Sister Marijo?" Sister Mary stuttered, glancing over at Prudence almost reluctantly before shifting her attention once more to her higher up. The Head Sister came a soft, elegant nod, turning to Prudence with a smile. For a moment, Sister Mary stared at the new trainee, unsure if the course of action were the wisest. After a quiet examination, however, a brow raised. ”Very well. Come with me, Sister Prudence." Sister Mary slung her legs off the couch, starting to the door but not without turning to check Prudence followed.

In silence, Prudence returned that optimistic smile to her face, nodding to the higher ups before dragging her feet forward - positive, Prudence, think positive! Reaching the door way, a voice called out. ”Before you go, I'd like to bring something up, Sister Prudence." She turned on her heel, a suppressed hope that Sister Marijo was simply testing her ability to follow orders as any sister must do. ”We may be here to teach but that does not mean we are not here to learn as well." Prudence felt her head tilt, confused. What could they learn about religion from anyone else? Were they not the only ones well versed enough in the Bible and how it should apply to daily life?

But a hand tugged her out the door a bit too excitedly.




"Here! Wear this!" Sister Mary called out, pressing a dress - should this even be called a dress - into her hands. Prudence gawked at it, fingers trying to become familiar with the strange… Fabric. It itched under her fingertips, reeking of sin and a strange and dingy perfume that - wait was that a stain? Prudence poked the area with her finger, trying to discern if it was part of the design or if it was actually as she suspected - a symbol of sin.

Her eyes raised, meeting Sister Mary’s. Her smile remained but eyes darted between her.. ‘guide’… and the guise of a demon. ”I… Um..."

Sister Mary let out a bubbly giggle, going through the closet for her own skin of sin. ”Come on, we can't go against Sister Marijo's orders.” That said, she began undressing on the spot, causing Prudence deep alarm. Red and turning away, she began to undo the buttons of her shirt, feeling the exterior she had for so long disappear in an instant to be covered by some strange itchy fabric of a deep red with a stain of some sort on her lower back - dried by now so she didn’t feel it but it irked her ever so much because she knew it was there-

"I... Find this extremely uncomfortable-" Prudence began, turning and again shocked into silence. Sister Mary’s cleavage peeked out of the strapless dress, almost daring to fall out. The sides of her stomach were completely exposed and… Were those stilettos? Prudence felt herself falter and fall deeper and deeper into sin for simply staring at such a sight. Where was this woman’s modesty?!? They were Sisters! Why in the world would Sister Marijo suggest such a thing?

"Let's go! Time is a wasting!" Sister Mary cried out, throwing on a jacket and tossing one to Prudence. In a split second, she moved to grab a bag of sorts and took Prudence’s hand, leading her through the house in urgency, out the kitchen’s delivery door, and into the cold, unforgiving streets of Brooklyn.

Prudence felt thankful that she had the jacket but confusion still riddled her insides. A click was heard behind her and Prudence spun around, seeing the door closed. Glancing at Sister Mary who was heading in the opposite direction - away from the light of Jesus - she reached out and attempted to open the door once more. The doorknob refused to give way. Her hand raised, about to knock, but stopping.

This was a test.

The Lord was testing her, putting her in the skin of the devil, allowing her the ability to sin despite her obvious faith - a Book of Job moment! Yes! She had to prove herself to not only her Lord but her Sisters as well as herself. Prudence could endure any trial placed upon her. Her grin returning, she trotted after the stilettoed guide who’s silhouette almost disappeared in the dark streets.

For the most part, the night was quiet. She could feel the cool air against her skin, the blessing shine of the Moon glowing down on her… My it was a lovely night. Prudence enjoyed walking side by side with the questionable guide, often exchanging a few words but nothing about this test or the purpose. After all, the Lord worked in mysterious ways. Then of course someone had to come along.

The various smells of the street and honks of distant cars prevented her from noticing the man coming up from behind her, grimy hand reaching out and stroking her arm ever so slightly. She reeled away almost immediately, eyes widened in shock and surprise. Her hand raised, not attempting to hide the disdain from suffering through the man’s stench of intoxicating fumes: smoke, alcohol… Was that one strange smell drugs? How could the Lord make her be touched by something so far from His light? ”Heh... Wouldn't you feel comfortable with a stick up your ass...?" The man slurred, tongue slowly going over his lips. At first, she believed what came out of his mouth and what he did with his mouth were two entirely different things.

Then a second passed.

Appalled, she took a step back. ”Excuse you, I am a Sister and that is extremely rude. Please apologize,” Prudence replied, glancing at her side to see Sister Mary was no longer there. Something sickening leaked into her, heart pounding a mile a minute with pinpoint sharp irises and rapid breaths. Her attention was on the man and his alcoholic breath, his grimy hands, how she felt the dirt and sin through her jacket. He took a step closer, breathing into her face. Her face cringed.

"If you like banging the Bible, you'll love banging me."

"Pru, pay him no mind. He's always out here making some comment or another." That sickening feeling drained away as quickly as it appeared and she hastily left the unwanted conversation without so much as a good bye. Her heart raced and she walked side by side with the Sister, glancing back at the man who, after seeing her run away, had just shrugged and moved on. How did she know that? Why cause her such agony in a single moment? What was the point of all this?

"Sister Mary-" She began before a finger came up at her.

"Just Mary out here, hun,” the other remarked, grinning. As they turned the corner, Sister Mary came to a halt, looking over at Prudence with an overly confident grin that made Prudence uneasy yet… Safe? Was that the phrase? No, this Sister knew what she was doing. Especially if she was about to walk into - excuse her language - Satan’s jamboree? “Welcome to the Little Lady: your first experience to the world outside the sanctuary."

Prudence scanned the area, failing to count the amount of dingy, sinning children that filled the coffin. Her nose cringed upon seeing they had entered near the bar, the reek of drunkards wafting through the air. Men and women alike talked regularly, the light of the Lord hidden from them - the poor souls. ”This is a brooding place for sin, Sister Mary, why are we here?"

"Marijo's orders. Just watch." That said, Sister Mary glanced around the room before leading her to the end of the bar, placing Prudence on the first seat and herself on the left. Her eyes glanced at the bartender. "Virgin Mary,” she requested, waiting for it to come.

Prudence gawked at her. ”Are you ordering alcohol?"

"We're here to observe. Plus, if we hang around the edges and act like newbies, we'll fall prey to predators." The drink came but the most Sister Mary did was stir it. No more words were exchanged, ending their conversation indefinitely.

So Prudence did just that. Sit and watch. Every second that passed, the number of people in the restaurant increased and the number of sins doubled exponentially. She lost count after 30 and that was only a few minutes in. The hustle and bustle of the area caused the noise to become overwhelming and Prudence wondered if this was one of those “raves.” She watched and examined but failed to understand what exactly she was supposed to learn. How to sin? How to sin not as bad? How there are various degrees of sin, unrestricted by age and gender. Wait, did she just see a little girl? The poor dear!

As all was being said… Well, the event moved quickly. All Prudence could recall was raising her head with a start, staring at the man with broken glass embedded in his hand as he began a one man riot, flipping tables, pushing people, having to be restrained.

And then there were guns, a yell, a hit… Then a calm with broken tables and chairs, a group of people wandering around the scene of sin ever so quickly.

A hand reached over, patting her shoulder and nearly causing her to fall off her stool from surprise. ”We should get you out of here. This escalated too quickly,” she muttered, already leading her the long way around the restaurant to the door where other people had begun to file out as well. Prudence searched the area, the faces of anger and grief and confusion and even sadness. They… Did not seem to want it as much as she did not want it to happen.

…These people needed help.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: Hani Kim Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: November Mae Character Portrait: Chloe Williams Character Portrait: Bel Z.
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⟝BEL⟞
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-[fluff post until next scene]-


Calming thunder was a practice uncharted. Less than a rain dance. Because no amount of tripping light with the ebb and flow of hips under the sun would bring heaven’s woe when a drought was in place. Like all great things and disasters, it was what it was. Would be what it would be. And ain’t no sun shower gonna’ come between the temper of makers when clouds are shaking like the seven archangels are having a bowling match. Innate fury could only be deterred. Never stopped.

The angry dog in him barked about his loss while the civic prince told him his time would come. To be patient. In his back pocket were a forgotten log of texts and missed calls, magnum grating bone and denim, not far off, a sister left in the lurch, but none of this mattered. Because in front of him was ambition. Low-pitched and looking fragile. Cleaner than him. She didn’t look his kind of sick or starved, and he prayed she never would. He had to make her understand the things that everyone in aftershocks already knew. The ones that mattered. But how could he? Without scaring her to pieces or being too militant. If she were maimed or upset by anything he pulled then - he had a lot more than just apologizing to do.

“You could have been killed.”

‘Bout as well as any other man in there. There was risk in just crossing the street, and having embodied a bolder fraction in peril and possibility, Bel knew what she said to be true but shook his head. A loose wave of hair fell into his face from its pomade mold as he did so, “Yeah, but that loss is significantly less distressful than yours. If you got hurt, fuck... Killed, I couldn’t live with myself. Hani, don’t feel like you gotta’ keep me from doing dumb shit, okay? It’ll only drag you down with me and much as I don’t want to catch a dozen bodies, I would if something happened to you. Don’t think that I think you can’t handle your own. I know you can. But this...” His hands went wide as an explanation for the holy mess caused inside. “This isn’t your problem. It isn’t Sen’s, either, but she knows how to deal with all this. She’s my sister. She’s got to. I don’t have to chase her down and apologize, ‘cause tomorrow when she’s less pissed off we’ll figure it out like we always do. I just don’t want you turning away and... Shit, I don’t know. Being upset with me.” The confession set him back in the ways of feeling as though he was in control. If she spotted the weakness, he’d feel it like a shot but all she did was linger fleetingly with itty bitty grasp on his bloodied fist, wrapped in a token of her divinity. “You I gotta’ apologize to, here and now. You don’t have any familial obligation to not be pissed off in the morning.”

Only encouragement to settle rancor was given. Though Bel was sure Senna didn’t storm off in a fit like Jubes might, with wildfire welling between her ribs and greed telling her to make the world pay. Baby felt things at a slower pace, but more rooted, which made her a formidable enemy and even better consort. Bel was lost in the leaning when Hani wandered a few steps backward, galvanizing as she departed from him. The honey slicked road to heaven, edging further off with one hymn, refusing to take no as an answer, “Go on.”

He would. Just not where she intended. “Si, si bonita,” he called out to her, “Let me get you dinner tomorrow, alright?” A kittenish smirk was all that was left of her and his proposition, “Okay - the next day?” His baritone followed her into the venue but he hung back. It even allowed him to laugh quietly in the dark. “Shit,” he said to himself, heel milling pebbles underfoot, flexing five semi-mangled stalks too often garnished in an array of burnished rings that had broken too many teeth. Not tonight. That Kim girl was a consecration in a bounding main of sharks and other serpents. She’d saved him, he wasn’t sure that she knew that though. Suddenly apprehensive of the type of man he was for this small moment of privacy, he grunted, “Don’t know what the fuck I did in a past life but I must have gotten something right.” If there were more than two trees on the street, they would have thrashed in October afterglow as a means to reply to his ascetic monologue. Like, “God damn, lucky son of a bitch. Up to your eyeballs in women, bread, success and the amity of good girls who don’t know no better.” None of it came without an albatross around the neck. That’s what he’d tell ‘em if they dared speak in his presence.

But they didn’t sway hard toward him with branches curved to break on the mission to knock some sense into him. November would do that for them. All curves. No brakes [or breaks]. She was a coating of tar, perennial to the bidding of lace and lavender that belonged to Hani or any other woman. More shadowy than Alaskan gloom, all thirty days of it. The bed of roses sitting on top of thin ice. She was something of a nightmare wrapped in a radiant mirage, plain and simple.

Henna plaits overpassed her image in the faint lambency, all too familiar against her rapturous yet taunting expression. Bel rocked on his heels at her unanticipated company among tranquility. Her current came slow, and then all at once. Wasn't that why she felt so much like home? Why he found himself on her doorstep habitually, looking sicker than the starved mongrel without her looped around him. To the fucking hilt. Because in spite of knowing increments, she dug her blade deep, smooth talking it in. But she made damn sure you’d remember how the final inches felt as they punctured an artery. Proof she’d been there and that nothing would be the same after she split. Another gnawing sensation of no longer being in command, strikes that would be counted against him if not for their dividends sowed within the confines of a firearm fellatio. Delusions of November’s nails raking down his stiffened soma almost pulled him from sheer reality until she nabbed his injury, her initial greeting coming to light.

“What happen to mail order?”

If she really wanted to drive her point home, she would have ashed her cigarette in his palm. But she had a feeling Bel was getting it without the amplification, his plasma dying her predilection blush. “There’s the November I know.” He echoed close to her, “Don’t bang on about Hani too long, you might start to sound jealous. You know,” his breath was hot counter to the precinct of her collar, “Threatened.” Unwritten like an omen to the blind eye, a carnal call to the cunning. The clawing need to smear his blood across her mouth and mark her as his dominion. But November? She was free. No holds barred, and nobody’s property. He’d coerced himself into recognition long ago. That her backbone wasn’t the firefly captured in jars, but nature herself. Someone who made the rules when the rest of the world failed to realize their fates had already been decided. Her spirit of inquiry came from honest wondering, but...

ImageBel gathered her hair, retained it in a hook that didn’t tug or yank. “But don’t you worry ‘bout rising to the occasion, ‘cause I know you got your hands full of arrangements with somebody who’s still sittin’ inside. And that’s alright, baby.” He stared into her face, indulgent of her vulnerable position in his grip, “I ain’t stupid. And you ain’t mine. That much is clear.” With her neck arched that way, him respiring more her tobacco than she, he daubed his thumb across her lower lip to emphasize, “But I’m aware of what I’m doing, as you are of your shit.”

Forsaken. Giving her ground. As she deserved, as a partner, as a grown woman. Not with a shove, but a slackened hold. The confidence he had in her allowed her to operate in plain sight behind enemy lines as a playmate. Not a spy. Not a narc. Not anything but genuine November. He drew up his muzzle enough to develop lockjaw where her romps with Dom were concerned, and he could live with it much as it gave his patience its best shot. He’d survived worse things and real betrayal. This was not one of them. After he let her go, he snipped the cigarette from her mouth and threw it aside, “Does this mean I get to ask you what you think is gonna’ come of you dropping neck between me and Dominic Bates? ‘Cause if so, I would love to hear your theory. We all gonna’ be one happy dick sucking family?”

The drag through his nose sounded something of a bull in the lead of a red target. Did he mean to scare her - taunt her? Nah. Just put things into perspective. Remnants of November’s smoke were squashed under one of his soles and he laughed, and laughed. And laughed. Perturbed nail beds by scraping his scalp in the post-lightbulb-interrogation, “Anyway, that there wasn’t about Dominic. ‘Cause ‘least I know he loved Baby enough to never disrespect her in the way that one of them did tonight. You know I know that? If I didn’t, I wouldn’t grapple with this fuckin’ mess of you doing what you do in your free time. You expect me to sit around and smooth my fuckin’ hackles when someone comes for Senna? I know you don’t. So why we discussing this?” The granted window was only about five seconds long, and if that wasn’t enough, the bell was ringing. She didn’t have anything in words. Lord knew she had it in physical assault but, it wasn’t the time. Just the way it was. “You got me, I got you. Loud and clear as always. You know when you go do whatever you wanna’ do, I don’t bark around your tree for answers. Don’t come for mine when your first objective was him.” A stern index pointed to the doors of the Little Lady.

“Not me. We can play games all night long, baby, and I wouldn’t rather play with nobody but you. You wanna’ crack a joke about somebody less tainted and vicious than you? Alright. You go ahead and bear your teeth. Nobody’s gonna’ handle it like you do. That’s a fact. But you question ‘why’ when you know why? You come out here after you got your hands on Dominic Bates and run a smear campaign on Hani? That girl ain’t done shit to you and never will. Priorities usually fall in line with tangible threats, November. You’re definitely smart enough to know that. Difference ‘tween me and you is I’m not gonna’ slight the shit out of someone who isn’t here to defend themselves. Certainly not Dom. Like I’m fuckin’ dumb enough to start a war on your body.”

He moved beyond her, pausing with a foot or so separating them, “You look beautiful tonight. You wear it and you know it. Talking about these other girls. That’s just a war that can’t be won.” His fingerprints went flush to his temple at every syllable in motion to his diction, “Come on. Common fuckin’ sense, who needs cheap shots when you look like that and have the best of both worlds? I’ll see you around, kid. You got a hangover tomorrow, I’ll have the coffee. Sorry I wasn’t in the mood to play reindeer games tonight. Just remember it was you who told me 'no' when I said I loved you next time you get some itch to play ‘piss on the fire hydrant’.”

A wave through the glass to his token redhead and he was wrapping up business in this part of town. Better things awaited back at the condo, less eyes. Less noise. More business. More pleasure.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Chloe Williams Character Portrait: Aedan Rory
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#, as written by Wiley
Aedan Rory
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Night comes with a thick haze brawl. Dirty feet snagging on shag carpet, headfirst sprawling to the floor. Doped up but itching for more. Nose burnt up, pupils blown wide, and veins just barely intact enough to handle the vicious drug pumping through him. He sputters yellow liquid to stain the floor some more. Just barely able to rock forward, body lurching forward in fluid motion. Hands grip tight to a chairs leg, in his haste to throw it cutting skin open on uncovered nails in the furniture.

“Fuck, fuck away from me!” Foam seethes from the dog’s mouth, rabid, clawing at the ground in anger. Aedan shoves off the floor, balance tilting – too high, it’s too much, that slowdowns got him tipping over. And just as he hits the floor again, head hitting too hard against the edge of nightstand – he’s awake.

Some hours have passed, bringing forth a single dusty line of light in through the bedroom window. Cold spit has dried to the sides of his mouth. Tongue thick, mouth filled with cotton, he blinks away the haze and feels every ache in his body. He’s been strung out for too long now, prolonging the eventual collapse. But it isn’t a problem, he tells himself, it’s not a fucking problem alright! Because it can’t be a problem, he’s got better shit to deal with. He checks his phone, it’s too damn early to be awake but he gets up anyway. He first examines the deep scratches running parallel lines from crook to wrist, dried blood crusted against the thin red lines. Aedan picks the scab to watch it bleed with satisfaction.

After he makes his way through dark hallways of a home that is not, in any sense of the word a home. Dirt and blood stain every inch of this place, bottom to top a procession of the disgusting and morbid. He calls it a home when it’s really just a hole in the ground, perhaps even his final resting place when all is said and done. But all is not said and done, and he has work to do. People to threaten, money to make, and well if he gets to indulge that spark of maniac in him at least once today it’ll be a good one.
If he could just stave off the migraine thrumming in his head. Hot showers don’t do shit for him in the light of day, not without a warm body pressed against him and damn – he misses the feeling of post drug morning sex, just when the haze is fading off and his brain is splitting at the seams. Lately he’s had no time to entertain anyone, not with Senna being such a distant factor now. Sure, he could call Chloe, she had expressed more than enough willingness. To put it plainly she had wanted to do things with him that quite frankly, had put even him to shame; if he could feel shame that is.

But the redhead was a friend, and one of the few figures in his life that he didn’t feel the need to make scream in bloody agony on a daily basis. He couldn’t say the same for many others.

Time passes slowly on a come down, he’s got enough to last him but he enjoys the feeling. A masochistic fascination with the way his body begins to shake with every passing moment, pains that were never there before, sweat gathering over pasty skin. He looks in the mirror, sees a ghost looking back and laughs until it’s no longer funny. Most mornings are spent this way, reveling in the pain until it’s no longer bearable. Until the head splitting headache gets the better of him and he takes that needle straight to the vein. Bloodstream invaded by euphoria.

Its enough to get him moving again, a surefooted stride to dress in day appropriate clothing. Ordinary, nothing to pick him out of a crowd by. He reads his latest texts a time or two, noting several important ones but nothing he wants to deal with at that moment. A final less important text graces the tiny screen, something about the Little Lady. A party. Yeah, like he’d pack himself into that sort of place with that many former and current clients. He may not be anonymous but he liked to keep a neutral face where business was concerned. Even if his boundaries had been overstepped on that front with the youngest Zaire.

So when he finds himself wandering the streets for some time he has no idea what spurs him on. Whether it’s getting lost in sordid thoughts or simply feeling like it. What he does know is that something is stirring in the air, a cool breeze that stings in a pleasant way. He looks up, and finds himself peering at the devil herself. Senna Zaire, alone, and if she were anyone else he would have easily taken her by surprise. “Gracias, stranger,”

“Are you just wandering or working?” Aedan nods, uncommitted to either answer as he studies her for a few long moments. Never one wavering from his stare. Some would call it creepy, but at this point there was no doubt she had become used to it. “Tuve una mala noche. Bel caused a whooooole mess back there, wanted to kill Gunner for some stupid...” Her anger was his anger, and he felt it ripple along his spine in posthaste to snarl. “Ah, fuck it. Nothing important. You got time to get a drink?” He has all the time in the world for Senna.

“Why not.” His first spoken words of that day come out in a rasp, mouth still dry and drier by the second. He shrugs, knuckles fisted inside coat pockets to keep the warmth. “Got nothing better to do,’ he says it like an insult, but without the intent behind it. It’s just his way. “I don’t suppose you’d want to go back to the Little Lady,” He says, monotonous. Letting her choose, letting her be the one to take this that step further. Aedan may be a cold bastard but don’t let anyone say he isn’t willing to be chivalrous.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: Hani Kim Character Portrait: November Mae Character Portrait: Jonathan Moore Character Portrait: Chloe Williams Character Portrait: Jasper Callaghan Character Portrait: Simone Bates Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Gunner Bates Character Portrait: Sienna Henderson
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#, as written by Ivisbo
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Simon wanted to tear his eyes away from Jasper, he fucking knew he should. He was taller and larger then the drugged out fiend, broader of shoulders and hell of a lot more charming. But fuck, the way Jasper let his eyes shamelessly crawl all over him, how he slipped off the booth and didn't break eye contact as he prowled his way through to The Little Lady towards the bar made Simon's grip on his drink turn knuckle white.

He wanted to answer Sienna- ahe was inches away from him, asking him a fucking question, but he was stuck, completely riveted as he watched Jasper basically shove someone out of his path. There was a point that Simon tried take a hard look at why he was addicted to Jasper, but he never really figured it out. Some fucked up part of himself, the part that was titled Bates and was born from the demons of the city. The part of him that ragged when he couldn't keep on, the part that hated hi father and was jealous of his brothers. He needed a reason beyond sex, because while Jasper was as fucked up in the bed as he was in real life, Simon needed there to be another reason beyond physical. He could get great sex anywhere he wanted- he didn't need to be throwing out the family stash to this self-entitled nobody. Simon refused to say he was addicted to anything he couldn't control- weed, alcohol, cigarettes were his choice, they were as permanent in his life as his family. But the demon that was making his way towards him was something that he wanted in a shaky junky sort of way- they kind of shakiness that fucked with your head and left you wanting more.

Jasper slipped up next to them- up close, Simon could see the red bloods-shot eyes, dark bags, transparent skin, greased hair....all things that should not attract his attention, but did anyway. He took another long sip of the old-fashion, eyes drinking in Jasper like he was the last glass of whiskey in the bar.

“Maybe it was something along the lines of how open you’d be to holding a camera while the two of us fuck,” He choked, eyes wide and immediately going to Sienna. Fucking hell, he loved this girl, he had yet to share this specific detail of his fucked-up sex life with her.

Sienna smirked, humor evident in her eyes and Simon knew he was going to get an ear full later, []"I didn't know Sime made little sex tapes now! As long as I get a little pay I'll do it." Sienna said throwing a wink their way.

Simon rolled his eyes and tilted his head back, finishing off his drink in record time, "Trust me, you don't want to know what this guy is into" He leaned back against the counter just as Sienna tucked in closer to him, standing on her tip-toes so she could whisper in his ear, "Didn't peg this to be your type, becoming a bit of a slut are you, Sime? And to think I started this." Simon rolled his eyes, giving her a look of 'not-fucking-now' as she pulled away with a cheshire grin in place.

"Well, that being said, have fun with my sloppy seconds Jasper, sure you'll enjoy them and you kids shouldn't get too rowdy." With those last few words she shot a wink at the two and left The Little Lady, respecting Jona's wishes.

“Speaking of which,”

Simons attention was immediately pulled back to Jasper, who had leaned up against the bar next to him and was now only a few inches away. The closeness made the ache worse- he had to remind himself they were in public, his brothers were here, and Jona was probably keeping his ever watchful eye on the entire bar.

"I hope that look had some intention behind it. Not that all this bad blood between families isn't doing it for me,"

"You're fucking sick, you know that?"

That smirk, like a cat that cornered its prey. "Ready when you are."

It was pathetic, the way Simon removed himself from the bar and followed after Jasper like a dog in heat. He should have stayed, should have ordered another drink, fucked with Jona as he closed up, and gone home with Gunner. He had more dignity then this- or he thought he did. But instead he hastily followed Jasper's route through the crowd and towards the exit, buttoning his jacket back up and slicking his hair in place.

Outside, he grabbed Jaspers marked up arm and tugged him back, his hand coming up to grip Jaspers jaw and glare down at him, "Don't fucking talk to her like that" He barked, face twisted into a scowl as he loomed over the smaller man, "And don't fuck with me like that in public. You know what this is" His eyes stayed a steely glare as he tilted Jaspers head to the side, letting his gaze roam down. Jasper's clothes were always ratty and uncared for- the opposite of Simon's constant perfect and trimmed image. He wanted to tear that stupid oversized black shirt off shit body- he much more enjoyed what was underneath.

"Your place or mine"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: Hani Kim Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: November Mae Character Portrait: Jonathan Moore Character Portrait: Chloe Williams Character Portrait: Simone Bates Character Portrait: Gunner Bates
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⟝BEL⟞
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Sore.

That was Bel’s night. More crooked than roadwork, with apertures and ample admonition to qualify. Had him roughing up someone else’s feathers. Someone not necessarily intended, as fate would have it by the furious eyes of Jonathan Moore. His stern expression environed by furrowed brow and beard. Then there was Hani, orderly and affectionate at all the right places with nothing but integrity in her heart as though the man Bel had become deserved any of hers. But that’s not what Bel thought about. It was Gunner, his bygone. Trophy friend gone rogue yet never off the radar. The eldest Zaire had to smother out any real gut reaction to it, the things forfeited. A friendship lost to the grind and mind of revenge. It formed like a blister on the surface of expectation. And that was just the beginning.

Everybody in that place thought the worst of Cristobel. Dollars to doughnuts, ‘cause the way he strutted his shit on the whim of what looked like a tantrum was not at all becoming. He knew it. They knew it. Best thing to do was move on from it and not trip up. There was Chloe, there was Sen, there was Hani. Few finer-wisdomed heads.

What about the rest? The leftovers? November. Resplendent, sucking on tobacco in his flak. Welcomed the sequel with more polish than what was red on her ten taking branches. When he left her there like that, he knew a likely score was contempt and cold shouldering for God only knows how many days but, Bel was Bel. His hunches always sat on the tip of the wagging muscle between teeth. Never in the belly, never the gullet. He was impulsive, compulsive and indelicate. Divulging a lapse to her had its consequences. Fidelity didn’t really have a reserved spot in the psychopathy of their perseverance, and he knew it all along. Why he even bothered was beyond him. Because it’s not like he was surprised to see her head tilt, mahogany gun dipping with non-caricatured partiality. Giving him his answer before she let it escape her lips, heavy. She’d been upfront with him. So he was with her, even if especially insensitive when it came to his own bruised ego.

Whoops.

The panacea was in place by witching hours, reckoning his violence with safe words that wouldn’t get used. Animalistic excursions labeling him the beast he needed to make himself into to get rid of the pain of being a man. He buried it in the Merlot-flavored gluttony that was Chloe, and she countered with ire she’d forgotten but needed to purge. Oaths taken for November by intrinsic infatuation were minced and let slip. He’d no doubts she was doing the same, which made it that much easier to feel the slope of another woman’s jaw and leave his mark all over it. Like a knife through butter. Chloe really knew how to make temporal concerns wither. Blotted out. All lackluster next to the image of epicene authority, she blew the brains out of Bel’s bothers in blow-by-blows. Leather straps flush to her flesh. Russet streetlight creeping through the venetian secrecy begging for a peep show, her versus and never obedient. His desirous invasion was omnipresent, leaving none of her untouched. The spiked heel of her stiletto left impressions on his chest and he permitted her malediction hungrily. Would have tasted the sole if she told him to. Waiting for her critical hair-pulling, laced and lit as hell from the opioids in her arteries. Compliments of BZ.

Be easy now, heh.

Capital ‘f-u-c-k-m-e’s didn’t echo in this place without some slaughter. Only sound he wanted to hear was struggling breaths, his and hers, the split between ecstasy and affliction when her body tensed. His razing flashes when she pulled on the belt. When her choke-chaining dominion edged them both off into necrosis nirvana. Climax? Make that plural. We’re gonna’ lose count after an hour. Shit, Chloe totaled him and then some. She looked better than most things painted with respect to war and glory, straddling him, sadistic. Who would have guessed under all that business casual shit there was a dominatrix who couldn’t wait to get her hands around somebody’s neck?

Image“Be a good boy.” The reminder came like the devil’s serenade, much too persuasive to disobey. He’d bring down the house with that body mantled against a set of bow lancets for the city to see, an arm under her leg and Chloe entirely aslope. Rush, bucks and thrusts threatening to shatter glass with each impact. Flat tongue lilt, the perpetual neck tattoo. Bel wanted to feast on every last fucked up part of her, but only if she gave her blessing. Cardinal rules... They were her thread and needle. Embroidered Bel into her bodily vending whether she was riding him or she was twined down below; he used her. She used him. Pharmaceuticals, poison, poetry. She was a finished fusion en masse, ribs etched to the surface of her hide, gasping, palming his vertebrae with one appeal, “Comply.” Catch Bel in the street and he wasn’t one to take orders. But with Chloe? Here? He’d play Abaddon’s second fiddle, like he was on the last ark to his final destination. You’re gonna’ drip all around me, I’m gonna’ toe the line but not until you’re thinking better of yourself as a god. ‘Cause I got mine, but you got yours too. And I’m not just talking about the drugs. When it was all said and done he’d slip into state less up to snuff than being inside of her. But scrimmages weren’t meant to last three, four, five hours. Theirs just always happened this way. And the break of day meant their time was up for the night.

They’d found sleep somewhere along brush strokes of five or six in the morning, botched and broken down. Buxom form lost beneath a sea of raven sheets, Chloe didn’t so much as twitch in her comatose proviso. Meridian went wounded across the lid with flushed sunlight. Chloe didn’t budge, not even when Bel went from facepalm to full on self assault. Spit swaps and slipped swigs between them both must have left some Oxycontin soup in his head, ‘cause now it was swimming like a twenty gallon tank that needed to be cleaned r e al b a d. A hangover never hurt like this; this - this was a comedown. He decided to recalibrate in water hot enough to make hellions he slept with feel more at home, get his shit together. Because he sure as hell hadn’t forgotten what went down and how Senna would be needing that cup of coffee for atonement, as well as aftereffects of her own.

Condensation scrubbed from a reflective panel supplied the battered state of his thew down the front. Purple dyed stalwarts, abdominal muscles aching not from the art on the topside but the travails executed in collisions and stomach knots only conceived by orgasm aristocrats. She made a mess of him, perchance reciprocated. That girl knew what she was doing. He chomped on a toothbrush, vain grin plastered all over him. He was in the next world. From women, windfall and wisdom. Kismet had been considerably kind. He was unexpressed about it but damn, ever grateful. Especially to the women. Arrogance couldn’t negate that. A chuckle locked off in his passage so that he wouldn’t gag on toothpaste, his own principle being that he kept so many of them around because he was trying to express gratitude in a fucked up way. Yeah, right.

Maybe though.

ImageFool’s paradise, definitely. Bel wasn’t amnesic to the country created by cheeky initiative, and he had to set it correct eventually. That day wasn’t today. It wouldn’t be tomorrow, either. But eventually, it really had to be done. Before someone fucked it up or got killed. Well, before someone important got killed or fucked it up more than usual. Another chuckle choked off. He tried to keep his banter to a minimum as he buttoned a thin denim shirt around his frame, staring down at the lorelei still somnolent in his bed. Cuffed apparel right before the boot, he was looking half decent. Half. Didn’t have the fashion sense of someone like Simon, and didn’t quite catch anything helpful from Senna being that her specialty was Victorian lace and Louboutins. He did alright though, he guessed. Thank God for the mug, sensibility in hair styling and ebonized rings. He rounded the bed and wondered what was next. Playfulness was mostly out of the question, but since Chloe showed him a hell of a time, he tickled her foot as a wake-up call rather than snatching blankets. But nothing! Apoplectic. Her toes didn’t squirm and she didn’t mumble. Running the cool metal of his hand down her sole, Bel dualized, yawning and lulling her name. He expected foot-to-jaw action so stepped back immediately, scrolled through his phone, replied half-assed to few, then tickled Chloe’s foot again. That was the key. Increments.

When she fussed he left her alone and got sucked into a text thread full of Novi-esque passive aggression, à la mode. He could picture her sitting in a Bates breakfast nook, phone in hand, cigarette swinging every time she tapped the keyboard or speculated too hard. Hatefucked hair still unkempt but looking chichi as hell on her. Si, que la conocía bien? C r i s t o b e l. And imagine that? None of her messages were that of her taking him up on propositions of cafe beverages, just business as per usual. November being November, cold and consummate. Nobody’s. Everything and nothing, but a divine being even so.

All he did was click some shit back to her about the strip club banger. Weakly promised that he wouldn’t pull anything tonight, that he was aware of who else would be there and that he owed it to her. To Senna. And to Hani, which he didn’t mention. November countered his ambiguous apology with docile disbelief. Much expected, for sure. This is how they worked. “Chloe, ya es tarde.” His voice was louder than the last time, “It’s only getting later. You’ll probably wanna’ go home and get ready for that blowout at the titty bar, yeah? I’ll be there but I can’t guarantee I can repeat last night. I never thought I’d see the day where my dick was broken.” Linens retired and she sleepily stemmed, the declivity of her hips gluing his focus to the merit like he was ready to call her Magdalene. “Scratch that, it’s still working.” He snorted and jammed his phone in his pocket, “I’d offer you a ride but I know how you handle your business transactions. So I left a bag in your purse, complimentary for the... Uh.” His palm grazed the crotch of tailored jeans as he smirked, “Yeahhhhh. I think whatever your tongue absorbed like... My tongue absorbed too because my head was fucking spinning when I got up, I gotta’ pop a few ibuprofen and get some caffeine. Don’t know how you do it. This shit...” His dark eyes widened then went half-lidded, “Eh. Not my thing.”
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»SENNA«

The breathlessness from a post-oracle salute told her all she needed to know. Combustion in her palate whimpered about leaving a beau behind, something chosen. Someone. The right one. Much to the displeasure of prose, that’s not what this would be. Whether edict was dramatic or not Gunner would never be just some small figment. A story for grandchildren or something mentioned opposite to, “A blast from the past.” He was very much human, addled in inclination and ire, everything she perhaps wanted but didn’t know she needed.

That’s the thing about soulmates, isn’t it?

They don’t rule out unlikelihoods. Or the least practical of ideas, apparently. Pint-sized paws held his visage, the pinch of her impulsive consequences not enough to churn dreams just yet. She’d have apologized for kissing him if it would have felt right to. But it didn’t. Crossing the bridge of a prodigally anticipated and fully meant gesture like that was a long time coming, and she had to savor him. They were both still here, and he hadn’t looked too abashed or injured. He wore the same pain she did - it just looked better on his funereal components. His words were a requiem she’d tack on to the corners of worse days to come, as always. When he offered his hand, she took it and followed him to the tighter tetrad ridges of his bedroom where she didn’t have to hang tough for suavities. They were gone and so was the possibility of spectators. Besides, she wasn’t going to lay in his bed looking like Hannibal Lecter’s latest entree.

Fortunately she was well-coordinated. When the dress dropped in a puddle at her feet, she was arrayed from silk the exact hue of Abraham Darby’s in spring, one-pieced and clasped. It almost looked like something worn for sleep anyway. Senna glanced over her shoulder at Gunner, then dragged herself along his mattress and mumbled, “I’m going to miss sleeping here, your bed is so much better than mine - hey. Stop. Stop looking at me like that. I’m not disappearing from your life forever, we just... Can’t... You know. You know?” Bearing on the edge, she grabbed him and tugged him down with her, smoldering her writ into his hair, “We need to sleep. We do sleep really well, you and me.” Pacific, she stretched a blanket over him and circled a familiar feline in one arm to perch on his chest. “I’m never leaving you in spite of how bad shit looks right now. Never, nope.” Senna hummed to herself, nose nuzzling that of the little lynx, “Porque te amo.” Torpid vagaries would take them, but not before she’d bestrewn soft pecks along Gunner's shoulder. Like making the bed for the most sublime siesta. Things might not be the same, but they’d still be her favorite.

ImageIn the morning she’d maintain symmetry by luck more than anything and try not to disturb Gunner - which, really wasn’t the hardest part. It was avoiding holding onto the walls for guidance down the hall and slipping from the house unnoticed. Apparently gravity was heavier than her conscience, proved by the desperate grasp of the kitchen table when the front door was in sight and Senna got a little too eager.

“Oh, shit...” She whispered, immediately finding the pedicured feet [far too pretty for Dom or November] below her. Steadying herself she followed the legs to satin slipped between virile thighs, also too hairy to be November’s, and up to a groomed beard. Simon. Undeterred by being ‘caught’, Senna shamelessly gaffed the fabric with a dress slung over the crook of her elbow, “Is that fucking Tom Ford?" Theoretically she was in lingerie. And looked slightly the part of a roughed up hooker. Tiny fingers skimmed the material, her eyes full of admiration, "Is this Tom Ford?”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Chloe Williams Character Portrait: Aedan Rory Character Portrait: Bel Z.
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Chloe Williams
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Her heads ready to explode, left sloppy and shattered. Rapid head rushes and fleeing oxygen leaving her hazy and unsure as she takes more, more, all of it is hers for the taking and she’s ready to give it all back in the same instant. When they stop its only because one or both have lost consciousness, and she’s sure it’s her because it’s been so long since anyone has let her indulge so much. Then again with the abuse Bel has suffered there’s no real way to tell. No, she simply awakens slowly to the feeling of fingers running across her foot, soft and ticklish. It doesn’t exactly shake off the static in her brain but it’s enough to stir her once he gets talking.

Chloe rises slowly, watches Bel pantomime with great pleasure, only letting out a small huff of acknowledgement at the mention of his dick breaking. She has that effect on people, knows just how far to bend them without breaking them. Besides, she would never break a favored toy. “Color me impressed,” she states, “It’s been a while since I’ve gone that many rounds.” Chloe smirks, only half joking in tone. Eyes sharp despite the sleep still bogging her down. Moves swiftly from the bed and gathering scattered clothes in hand. While the leather of the night would be more preferable to the feel of everyday clothes she knows that even her voyeuristic tendencies would cringe at the thought of street walking with them on, her body wasn’t for the viewing pleasure of un-paying customers.

“Mmmm, yeah I’d better get ready...Don’t worry Love, I’m sure I’ll pick up some business.” No need to shy away from the truth, lays it out as it is as she dresses and gathers up her purse, stops to jot a note down onto a piece of torn paper. “But let’s do this again sometime,” She presses the paper into his hand as she goes; her latest burner number. A whirlwind of a woman storming a path towards the door. She’s got things to see, and people to do. “Ciao.”




The cab ride back to her place is slower than usual today, the morning traffic nothing short of clogged. The worst thing about living in a busy city, people always have somewhere to be. She doesn’t mind really; her day is unusually free. She ponders the idea of popping in to see Aedan for a while but knows it’s best to give him a heads up before barging in – she’d done that one too many times and finally learned her lesson when she walked in on him busy with work. Chloe may have her own preferences towards pain and sadism but she isn’t quite to the level of batshit insane that is Aedan Rory.

She shoots him a quick text before the cab finally pulls up towards her rundown building. Just barely tipping the cabbie for his services. He grumbles a bit, but one narrow eyed look from her has him shutting up and pulling away.

“Hey babies,” She stops at the entryway to gather her mail and to quickly refill her cats empty bowl. Feeling instantly regretful for her forgetfulness yesterday. Luckily the building was infested enough that the cats likely had no problem catching their own dinners. They wind around her legs meowing wildly, short black furs shedding off onto her clothes. She grimaces slightly, but leans down to stroke their soft fur for a moment before heading into the living room.

Chloe sifts through her mail, knowing that the majority is junk. Only stopping when she comes upon a small purple envelope. The breath is punched from her lungs as she scans the looping cursive words on the front. ’Nora.’ In all the years that Chloe’s been sending postcards she’s never gotten anything in return – and she never blamed anyone besides herself for it. She was the one who cut those ties and she only continued with the postcards to quell that self-hatred just a little bit. She had no expectations that Nora would ever want to get in contact with her.

The letter isn’t so much a letter as it is a text in formal words. A plea for contact that leaves Chloe feeling oddly cold and vulnerable. There’s a phone number scrawled over the bottom, something she never really expected to see and she almost misses it with the shaking of her hands. “Well damn,” She bites her tongue to dull the need to dose herself into a coma. Just to avoid this entire situation. Instead she grabs her phone, and does the one thing she should have done all this time.



Eyes the color of pond-water, burgundy hair that would fall to mid-waist if not pinned into loose braids at the crown of her head. Skin soft, pale, speckled with slightly darker spots – like an afterthought. Chloe’s eyes rake over every detail, from the purple rimmed glasses to the plain clothes; a band t-shirt that she just barely recognizes as alt-rock, and a pair of jeans so tight they may as well be a second skin. It’s nothing like she expects, faced suddenly with the visage of her child. Nora is ten years old, she has to repeat in her own head because the last time she saw her was when she was nothing but a tiny pink bundle, swaddled tight to her chest as she debated on handing her off or not.

Ten years old.

Nora is worrying her bottom lip between sharp white teeth, fiddling nonstop with the cellphone in her hands. Not using it, just listlessly wiping her thumb across the screen in a back and forth pattern. It drives Chloe mad but she hasn’t the heart yet to say anything about it. So she returns to her food, eats a few bites with growing disinterest. Complete silence has swamped their booth awkwardly. Neither knows what to say to the other – and honestly Chloe wouldn’t blame Nora for running back to her grandparents with the way this day was turning out.

There’s a big difference really, between sending postcards and sitting face to face with the child you abandoned ten-fucking-years ago. A wide enough gap of time that Chloe isn’t sure what to do, what to say to fill the space between them, and it’s not like she remembers being Nora’s age. She had always been darkly edged and full of spite, an apex predator even when she was under the control of a man that was the embodiment of hell itself. But this kid, who looked just enough like her that it felt like she was sitting across from a very strange mirror, had never faced the things that Chloe did.

“So,” Chloe caught herself mimicking Nora’s lip chewing action – another similarity to add to the ever growing list. “How is Nana and Papa?” Way to beat around the bush. Nora pauses mid chew, sets her phone aside and looks up at Chloe, like something big is about to go down between them. It raises the hairs on the back of her neck, pools guilt into her gut and goddamn she really needs a drink but how would that look? How would she ever come back from that, her one chance to make amends and she’s ready to fuck it all up just to wipe that look of contempt off her own kids face. Its stifling in the diner and she wants nothing more than to shed every layer including skin, leave herself bleeding and open; and maybe then she can finally get past the bullshit that’s eating away at her mind. She’s never felt this way in her entire life and its terrifying.

Nora winds down and deflates, a passage of emotions in her eyes that Chloe can just barely conceive. She notes the way Nora never stops fidgeting, constantly shifts to face different directions, eyes rolling around the room in a slow, paranoid crawl. It feels like the two of them are testing the waters now, gearing up for a storm. “I…” Her voice is soft, small and sounds like her own in an uncanny sort of way. Not exactly alike, but enough that Chloe can hear herself in Nora. “I’m here for a reason, Chloe.” That hurts, like a dog clenching sharp teeth around her, tearing skin from bone. But it isn’t like Chloe expected much in the way of being called Mom or anything. As far as their relationship was concerned they had never spoken before, and how could you call a woman you had never spoken to before your mom?

“Nana’s been dead for a year now,” Nora starts, something weary passing over the contours of her face. “Papa just doesn’t have it in him anymore, he’s been in the hospital for a while now.” Chloe knows the news should hurt her more, her parents had never done her wrong but there was no remorse felt for the life she had run away from. The only thing that mattered now was what she was being told, what she knew was coming next. “It’s either…you or dad and…” Nora stops, settles for something akin to a pleading look. Chloe knows instantly the question hanging between them.

So now it’s a choice between two different kinds of evils. But obviously Nora knows that, if she knows anything of her father. And Chloe knows that there’s a request hanging between them, to take the control here. To tell Nora where to go, and for the life of her Chloe just can’t let another young girl get corrupted by the man that had promised to protect her. Chloe wets her lips, avoiding eye contact with the space Nora occupies; a black hole in the booth encompassing everything Chloe has ran from.

But goddamnit, it looks like she can’t run anymore. Nora can stay -

“…With me.” Chloe finishes her thoughts aloud, finally, mercifully landing her gaze on the kid. Watching the tantamount emotion spill over momentarily. One second of unhindered emotion swept back into a cool gaze in the next. “You have to understand something, Nora.” Chloe stumbles over the unfamiliar name on her tongue, the name she had chosen herself so long ago. “I’m not a fit mother,” Something the girl must already know, “It won’t be easy or fun staying with me.” She bites her lip, feels the sharp pain and the copper blooming across her tongue.

“I’ve never taken care of a child, and a certainly don’t know how to even begin. We’re strangers, as far from what parent and child should be and we both know that, so the best we can do is…the best we can do is make the best out of it. You can do what you want, just, don’t get in trouble…” Fuck. Chloe really doesn’t know what more to say. Everything is laid out and bare. Nora can take it or leave it, in the end its her choice more than its Chloe’s. She’s slow on the uptake but doesn’t leave Chloe hanging for very long – a slow nod is all she gets. The slightest admission to yes, she’ll have to stay with Chloe because the other option just wasn’t an option. Still, there is a disappointment there; perhaps it’s because Chloe isn’t fighting for her, she’s giving Nora the choice.

Chloe’s phone buzzes rapidly, several quick fired messages gracing the burners screen. She barely has to glance at it to recognize that the texts are from Aedan. Annoyed that she hasn’t shown up yet when she made it clear she’d be coming over later that day. ‘Where the fuck are you.’ And ‘I’m not waiting on your ass all day Chloe.’ Charming, really, she grimaces and picks up her phone. Glancing at Nora from the corner of her eye as she types away a quick explanation. But she knows their time is running short anyway, and things have already progressed as far as it seems they will go.

“I have to pack.” Nora frowns a little. “Do you need a ride?” Chloe asks, feeling a bit perturbed by the idea of a ten-year-old out on the streets on their own. Despite the fact that she had arrived on her own as well. Nora shakes her head too quickly, eyes narrowed as an afterthought. “I’ll be fine.” She says, meaning it truly but Chloe still feels annoyed about it. “You’re busy, just do what you need to do and I’ll get my stuff. It’ll be a while before I’m cleared to stay with you anyway.” Chloe winces, taken slightly aback but nods and stands as well. Laying out cash on the table for the waitress. “I’ll walk you out,” She comments, determined to do at least that.

Nora nods, carefully leading the way outside. Chloe watches Nora get on a purple bike, feeling like she should be doing more for the kid but knowing any unwanted help so soon wouldn’t be appreciated in the slightest. Nora’s like her in so many ways that it shocks Chloe to even think about. When she’s out of sight Chloe turns back to her phone and texts Aedan back.

“I really need a drink.” Her head is swimming, feeling displaced among the chaos. Her feet are already carrying her towards his place. She would catch a ride but she needs the fresh air to cool her off now. Get her brain working once more.



Credit to Wiley for the text messages.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Chloe Williams Character Portrait: Aedan Rory
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#, as written by Wiley
Aedan Rory
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In Collaboration with Bartholomew Finch


“If someone’s going to kill me it might as well be you. This city wouldn’t miss me.” Senna laughed.

Aedan felt the need to reach out, to say something. Make promises that fell flat in the end but he wasn’t the type to make false hopes where it didn’t belong. Besides, there was a dark truth behind her statement, one that he thought about every passing moment. Something he felt deeply with every person that faded under his hands; glassy eyes that held nothing, he always wondered why it was they never closed them to die. Were they bent on that final revenge? Watching him in judging silence as he disposed of them in every way he knew. Most of the time he threw them in the water, cleaned them thoroughly. Took note from an old fairytale he once knew and filled their innards with heavy stones so they wouldn’t float back up. Other times it was a game of slice and dice, and sometimes, rarely he found someone else to pin the blame on in accordance with a client’s wishes.

But she was not a corpse, and he knew that there would be a piece of himself missing alongside her if she ever did die. She was the weakness that kept him fixated. He would miss her, but the city that had seen so much pass by in a single second would not. Just as it didn’t miss the lives that Aedan took.

Senna had been there and gone within such a sort span of time that Aedan could only pause and wait, wondering if her appearance in the first place had merely been a ghost of a figment. There, and gone like snow in spring. Only the throbbing of his knuckles and the blood smeared across pallid palms keeps him rooted to the idea – she had been there with him, for such an uncertain amount of time yet that was the very nature of their relationship wasn’t it?
There, and gone.

Aedan has work to do; people may not bombard him on the daily with requests to make murder look like suicide but he knows how fast a life can end. Among this city there were many people scorned and looking for a way to get back at someone, others were looking to cut losses, a few were too greedy to give their share. All of them had one thing in common, and that thing was Aedan and his skill with a blade. Sure most of his time was spent underfoot the various gangs and mafia that ran this town, but he had his own agendas to attend to and too little dime to keep himself from looking twice as emaciated.

Home was not the first stop of many that night, first was a bar – a small waste of space on the outskirts of nowhere, nestled between dilapidated buildings that could give Aedan’s usual hang outs a run for their money. He wasn’t one to sit and drink like the many who frequented this place but he was itching for something to further himself towards that tipping point. Beer could only do so much for a heroin heart and he was willing to pay the price later if it meat staving off the mundane.

Second was a short stop to Chloe’s apartment, annoyance spiking to notice she isn’t there. Her damned cats saw fit to meow at him pitifully and he cast them darkened gazes. He wasn’t a cat person – or rather, he wasn’t an anything person. He’d rather see most things at their end. He shoots her a few dozen texts stating how utterly pissed he is to be hanging out around her house at the crack of dawn, but never the less scoots along before the old bitch in 2B starts flapping gums to the cops about him again; in fact, she had done it three times before.

His final stop was more or less on a whim, checking his phone every now and again to ensure that he had no business coming in – he didn’t. Not quite unusual but he would assume after what went down today – with what he had been told about it – that neither Bates nor Zaire are planning a hit against each other. He would have been thrilled to receive that call but alas, it seemed neither had the will or want at that time. No matter, he knew that someday the call would come and he would be delighted to wrap any one of them up in tarp…just not Senna. No matter how many times he envisioned it. He couldn’t be the one to take the life from her, couldn’t stand to watch it leave her eyes.

He lingers for a while too long in one of the shadier neighborhoods, on his way home with no real sense of direction leading him along. He’s just lit up a cigarette when a shoulder collides with his own and nearly sends him down – he’s got a nice buzz going and it wouldn’t take much. Morning is well on its way and he can just make out the sneer illuminated on the passersby face, the silent disdain painted on common features. Aedan would normally shrug it off, keep moving on since there’s witnesses around. But there is nothing normal about today, too much is buzzing around in his head to let him let go -

An object shaped like god’s fist colliding with broken glass, spatter blood over asphalt and the pale faced witness. He’s got his hand wrapped up around a bottle, unsure of its origins only that he’s coming too with a haze and there’s a grin stretched tight over his face. Teeth bared like a dog ready to snap and when he does it with neat precision that catches his opponent off guard. Knocks him headlong to the ground where the both of them sprawl out for one delirious moment. Aedan doesn’t know when he blacked out, just knows that it’s gotten him into deep shit just by the sheer size of his opponent. But there isn't any inch of him that's cowardly enough to turn ail and run, in fact, he's more or less burning up on the inside to keep fighting. To pound this guy to the ground till he's begging to go free, to wrap slender pale hands around his neck and watch large limbs flail out as he asphyxiates.

He’s of the savage type, burly blonde biker of a guy with more scars on his face than Aedan thinks is normal. A regular brawler probably, and he’s fixated so suddenly on Aedan that it makes the murderers lips curl up into a savage grin. He’s been itching for this for a while now. Wants to tear flesh with bare hands, or with the half broken bottle in his hand. Someone’s watching them, radiating with fear, voice echoing over and over again in Aedan’s head. A maddening symphony of words – he vaguely realizes that he’s calling for help. There’s a lot of blood, from himself or from the biker he can’t quite tell.

Not till another fist catches against his face and he’s feeling a dull ache in his mouth, more or less covered by the drugs and alcohol but still there in the back of his mind. He spits blood and teeth fragments to the ground. His anger burning deep in his gut as he tongues the newly formed crack in his furthest back tooth. At least the others had stayed in tact, but damn that would hurt like a bitch when he came back to reality. When he comes down he’s going to be in for a hell of a time. He strikes with the glass, watches the biker howl. In pain or from anger he isn’t sure but the both of them step back when sirens go up in the distance. Aedan pulling as far out of reach as possible, not one to run but neither is he willing to spend any time in police custody. No, he’s gone under the radar for far too long and he isn’t willing to let his face resurface anywhere.

“I’ll find you,” Aedan promises darkly, though he’s fairly certain he won’t commit the guys face to memory. Turns down a no outlet in case the witness sends them on his trail, he doesn’t know these streets nearly as well as he thinks but he’s got enough sense to stick to back roads till he’s back at his own doorstep and shucking his bloody shoes into the backyard. Feeling utterly unaccomplished when he checks the time and his phone for the umpteenth time that morning. Nothing but a text from Chloe and he ignores it as he goes to patch himself up.

Already his eye is swelling up, makes him laugh to realize he’s practically got the same busted up face that Senna must be sporting right now. Though he’s certain her ribs haven’t taken quite the pummeling his has. The pain isn’t enough to detract from the high, but if it had been it wouldn’t matter in the slightest. He enjoys it in a way. Not simply the adrenaline that usually comes from pain, but the feeling itself. Throbbing deep beneath his skin. He remembers being a kid, sporting bruise after bruise from brawls with his brother, and never once would he cry or complain about it the next day when their father put them to work. Aedan would have been more likely to worsen the pain than anything, press hard against the bruises or scratch at the cuts till they bled anew. But these things worked against each other annoyingly. He could have one or he could have the other and most of the time he preferred having the high.

Aedan is more or less glad that he doesn't have work the next day. His coworkers didn't know Aedan under the surface, knew only the disguise that kept him under the radar. Let him walk freely, a murderer among men. But if he started showing up looking half as bad as he did now then shit would certainly hit the fan. He needed to let himself heal some before going back in. Considers asking for a short vacation to get all this pent up bullshit out of his system.

After sending Chloe some impatient texts he chucks his phone aside to charge while he waits, growing ever more antsy by the second as he waits for the red heads arrival. Aedan had never had many friends, and there was an exception of course for family and Senna as well as those rare few who shared him in having sick desires. But most if not all of his friends had been at least somewhat similar, and were more or less the kind of people he could call friends without having a deep relationship with; Chloe was unalike those people. Someone who had got under his skin from the get go.

Depending on who was looking their relationship was at a surface level bland and not in the slightest unusual. But there were layers hiding beneath, a silent understanding between one another. Chloe knew who he was and chose not to judge him for it – and he knew who she was without ever having said so out loud. They may look normal in most circumstances, but their continued friendship was anything but.

He pinpoints the exact moment of her arrival by the sound of cursing. “Fuck, Goddamnit, Aedan!” Chloe had tripped over one of the trash bags blocking his porch, empty containers rattling as they spilled forth onto her. Coating her shoes in a clear liquid substance that she can only assume is alcohol of some nature. She grimaces, and proceeds to reach up over the porch light to grab the spare key. “Those bags have been out there for two weeks,” Aedan points out.

“Point in case,” Chloe stresses, throwing her purse onto the coffee table and settling heavy in the armchair opposite of him. Reaching over to flick on the tv for background noise, setting the channel to the news. “Those damn bags should have been picked up already.” Aedan shrugs, it isn’t really his problem that the trash service rarely comes down his street anymore. The workers had been mugged a half dozen times by the delinquent kids that ran through this neighborhood. Aedan himself had come home to a break in once, and that had been the very last time those kids dared step foot anywhere near him or his house. Its honestly amazing what one can do with a crowbar and duct tape.

“What’s eating you?” Aedan can’t say he doesn’t notice the way Chloe is uncharacteristically worrying her hands in her lap, lip caught between white teeth. He can’t find it in himself to care much, she knows he isn’t like that, but he can’t stand the way she toils away in silence. Its annoying to put it plainly. “Nothing,” she says at first because divulging personal situations to Aedan is more or less the same as talking to a brick wall, albeit a brick wall that occasionally talks back. “Get in a fight?” She says instead, because it’s easy enough to deflect everything back onto Aedan when she isn’t feeling chatty enough to spill her own story.

He shrugs, stubs his half smoked cigarette out and leans up on the couch. “Some biker bitch,” he answers, though she can tell he isn’t going to say much more about it. She stares at him in apprehensive silence for a few long seconds, that silent question hanging between them. Did you kill him? and his answer is just as silent as her question when he smirks dispassionately. Of course had he been somewhere without witnesses he would have stopped at nothing to get his revenge. The kill would have been sloppy, riskier than most even but he still would have done it, that was just the kind of mood he had been in. But now he was mellowing out, home and without much to do but talk to Chloe like he’s a normal person – which he isn’t.

She waits for him to settle back into place, pops her knuckles rhythmically; she knows he hates it and somehow doing the things that annoy him the most always makes her more comfortable. Aedan’s only ever snapped at her once, but getting that much emotion out of him was thrill enough. “Just fucking spill it already, or leave.” Aedan gripes, with no such intended emotion behind his tone. He’s half sprawled over the couch now, eyes laid on the TV but not really watching it. “Fuck off,” Chloe snaps back even though she knows it’ll bounce right off of him. “I…met my daughter today.” Nothing has ever really gotten Aedan’s attention so easily as that. For all the times they’ve mocked being regular people neither of them really has that much insight into the others’ lives. Aedan didn’t even know that Chloe had a kid, much less one that she hadn’t ‘met’ up until this point. She tells him about the whole awkward experience, up until the end and if he were a different person he would find it poignant in a way. But as it stood he could only find it funny in a muted sort of way.

“Karma,” Is all he can say, all he knows to say. And it sets off some fuse in Chloe that has her ranting up and down the length of his house for the next twenty minutes until he offers her a beer and she’s calm enough to pop a few pills. Further mellowed she spills everything to him, though it mostly goes in one ear and out the other. Holding on to the interesting tidbits that he can use at a later time if need be. Not that he had any inclinations towards hurting Chloe or using this information against her. He liked knowing things about people, just in case it was ever needed. He’s more or less glad when the topic changes, despite not having to chime in much while she ranted her heart out. “There’s supposed to be some big shindig at the titty bar later.” Aedan grunts, he probably had an invite waiting on his cellphone, but he rarely checked it this late into the day. He did his business during the night and earliest minutes of the morning. Mid-day was too busy, too many things could go wrong. ” Are you going to be there?” She asks.

He nods, lacking any commitment. He’ll probably be there, but crowded scenes have never been his style. Nor does he care much for strippers. There was something hugely disappointing about places like that, where one could look but couldn’t fuck. She rolls her eyes, gathering her purse up in one hand with a strangely unclear emotion curling up the sides of her perfectly painted lips. “I’ll see you there.” Shes final when she says it, expects him to be there mingling with the people who would do well to not remember his face. It almost makes her laugh. “I’d best get going, that shit starts soon and I’ve got errands to run.” She’s halfway to the door when she turns back to say; “You look like shit by the way.” Aedan nods, waits a few minutes after she leaves to get up from the couch and remove his blood soaked clothes. An accumulation of his own, Sennas, and the bikers.
Showers slowly, letting the scalding water sting the cuts along his limbs.

Doesn’t feel like showing up early to this particular party, so he does what he does best and lets the drugs over take him. His arms as of late have taken on the appearance of a bruised fruit. His legs even worse, and he knows that there are other places but he enjoys the quickest routes the most. The veins that let the drug burst through him in mere seconds. Overtake him with euphoria greater even than spine bending orgasm. He goes between toes this time to give some healing time to other places. Doesn’t much fancy having no other option but the neck – knows that’s a game between fate and the needle; one that he has the courage to face but doesn’t have the suicidal will for.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: Hani Kim Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: November Mae Character Portrait: Jonathan Moore Character Portrait: Chloe Williams Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Gunner Bates Character Portrait: Lazarus Degrays
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⟝BEL⟞
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Blood’s got a stamp stickier than drying wax, labeled me C a m b i o n. I’m quenching the demons of fate while they flick through Benjamins and beg to attack saints. One thing I’m sure’a’s been the same, pleasure ain’t ever free.

The question has come a thousand times, written on the wall then imbued by the back splash of a blown brain. It used to look like, “Have you always been like this?” One persuaded glance at Chloe and he knows for god damn sure he hasn’t. In spite of it, eternal damnation is calling and he’s always eager when the doorbell rings. Bone to chin, the knuckle-pop pressure left his neck corrugating in repercussions. He’d stirred her up. But she was likely reigning supreme, he’d have to admit it. Transposed his entire universe and they knew, both of them, that this would not be the last time. Sex was becoming just as much a dependency as the capsules lingering in her clammy palms, at least on that concept she was frank. She was innately all the hues of fire and brimstone, tresses fierce but silken wrapped around his wrist. Contingencies were messy but true blue all the’ same. Hell was a state of mind and fleeting venue placed between her thighs: cozy.

Bel held habits and contradictions like accolades complimenting an outfit more fitting than his Rolex. Jonathan Moore had a point on his smear campaign, the kid sure was an impertinent little fuck, all things considered. And like all other things, Bel wore this too, unabashed and rolling tight shoulders with his head high. He might not have grasped full landslide. On the way up, he was still making power moves. The common denominator was degeneracy. Fractions prepared for the fall when gutter virginity manifested, but that was few and far between. Morality Chloe was anything but. Her tongue was the snake of sin, crooning a pet name as she shamelessly left as though not much had occurred to have her there in a morning after sort of fashion. Adios bonita. Until next time. ‘Cause being real? There would be at least a dozen next times.

Simplicity mixed with the uncontaminated good intentions of hope came around less than full moons. Where was she after that mess of a night? He half worried about the place Hani skittered off to like astral flickers in wake of an explosion, but somehow knew she was fine regardless. Felt bad for leaving. And on the same note, she wasn’t sticking around after ensuring he’d been alright from the upheaval at the Little Lady anyway. Bel swiped through his contacts and shot her a message on the loose spectrum of reminders, gratitude. You gonna' let me take you out for treating me so damn good? He’d chased a symbolic lunar constellation, underway, and pondered why she’d ever look twice at a man like him. Daily reflections had him humbled. Might have been monumentally manipulative, mean-minded, shambolic and commitment-fearing but he never forgot anybody. Never dreamed of overlooking genuine warmth that tingled long after somebody was physically gone. He’d promised her dinner, and she did that thing she was prone to do, pitched smirk, like she wanted to say yes, but knew a hell of a lot better. Tireless, that’s how he’d keep it up until she at least caved for a drink. Sporadic meetings, ten minute coffee sit-ins. Porque tengo miedo. No estoy entero. Tengo miedo de mí mismo. Y tu no. Because he was never going to pass over her. Because he couldn’t and had no desire to, inclinations slanted aggressively toward keeping her around. For something whole to keep him at anchor.

And still the son of a bitch wondered where the descent began. Where it would end. If by some terrible twist he’d be another dope fiend in the grand scheme, if there was a chance for a total loss or if losing his father was enough. He couldn’t survive another slip with Senna. Bebita didn’t know it but she kept him alive most days, and had she decided to be iron-willed again one day, run off shaking no dreams, love or daisies from her hair, he’d be a ruined man. All of this was hers, for her, at the end of the day. Nobody knew it.

Exceptions to the rule oscillated between Dominic Bates and sweet November Allen. And providence would have it so cruel as to intertwine the two on a tangental plane not completely intangible to Cristobel. He fuckin' wished he couldn't feel it. By hook or crook he coped, knowing how often the stars put his back to the wall. Tough love was still love at any rate. He’d never own Novi, she’d always cognize the pieces of him she sank her nails into and Dominic would be a glorified soul without regard to strife or time. Dice rolls were hard-hearted, that’s something even Dom told him. Perhaps he instilled it more aggressively in Senna, to a point of undying affection and admiration. ‘Cause she’d go running to him when she was bleeding, on the last skirt of balance. And Bel could never be upset. Couldn’t figure this was the flattened toe step of boundary-crossing, when all Dom had ever done was love Baby like she was his own.

He coulda’ sat on the bow of a bender, cursing the man who stole any woman he’d needed to keep, but Bel was not that deluded.





There were times to reflect on. Where things were put plainer. When Brooklyn nights were mid-July and hotter than the home Senna knew away from home, quiet. Too fucking quiet. Funny how taking something so mild out of a room changes the entire atmosphere. How thinking it ain't gonna' cause a huge difference, just like a framed portrait shifting two inches to the left. But when she decided to go every picture fell askew. She was just a child. What could have been done to stop a stubborn child who thought she was in love?

ImageDom always let her go wherever she wanted 'long as she was confident enough in herself to get through grated shins, which would extend into afflictions of the mind in due time. He took the edge off of everything in a way Bel nor his father could. Promises, and dandelions or some shit that Bel's lacking in lyrics could never stand up to. But even Bel couldn't wrap his head around why a person composed in such coarse loyalty coulda' stood the sight of Baby going away. 'Cause if it was hard on everyone, it was harder on the man who held her fragile pinkened hands and helped her walk rickets out of knocking knees. The man that bebita went like lightning to if ever anything was out of place, or she simply needed a crutch or a word of advice. She never ran home to Bel. He supposed this was all his fault. At least, he did the night that he was a shot off from being alcohol-influenced into drunk driving.

The doors of a dive were propped wide open and the sound going in and out melted around traffic, jive and sexual tension not participated in by himself. Which is strange. And anyone could say that if they saw him. Luckily for him, only person who saw him that night was an iron treasure chest for secrets. Guard mutt not trained to bite unless in protective measure. Bel remembered how he knew without looking 'cause of the way Dom's hand closed around his shoulder and shook in one sturdy gesture. Behind it trundled, "Y'alright, now, that's enough." How he had to suffocate the malice mandated by someone Dom's very own age, sweeping Bel's kid sister off her naive feet. Sapping her wouldn't do any good, either, though. Baby was aware enough at the very least, to know what kinda' royal fucking mess she dove head first into. Isn't that why she did it? Thinking messes were immunity, that she knew it well enough by residing in perdition for the living - to fix it? Did she wanna' fix that trainwreck of a human named Lazarus or was it authentic ardor? Either thought made him sick, or, maybe that was the bourbon and lack of food in his stomach.

"Hardly out of high school, Dom. Fuckin' kid." Yukked, choked, swiveled an empty glass in hand. "God damn kid."
"Smart kid." Dom countered.
"Yeah, right."
"Now look Bel, can't say I'm happy either, but Senna is gonna' come home one day, and she's gonna' be the one to leave; she's smart."
"Changed her number," Bel interrupted, slurring a blurred intent for his own perspective, "Hasn't said shit to me."
"Well, what can y'do, turn your fuckin' liver inside out and hope she calls you up and you get to play hero?"
"Huh, you know saying some shit like --"
"Spare me, Bel," Dom paid off the eldest Zaire's tab, "This ain't about you, not Lazarus, it's about her."
"But she just --"

The indicative inhalation of frustrations mustered into words of wisdom. Timber creaked under the sitting weight of Dom, who smelt of foreign tobacco and an aged musk that Bel, at twenty four, couldn't yet fully appreciate. Under different circumstances Bel would have yapped something more slick. Threatening. But where they were and the turn of events reviewed, they both knew it wasn't right. And it would never be like that. Besides, Bel was way too sloshed to throw a punch let alone pave the path of years lost to rage and secrecy. He needed Dom's guidance and he'd accepted that even in the face of bitter wrath boiling against his gums to expose pointed teeth. And Dominic was a tree trunk of a gent who was by no means above breaking fingers backwards to make a point, so it was what it was and Bel agreed to what was coming.

He needed it.

"She just fell in love, and some motherfucker spotted her miles off and knew she was gold so he wanted her, and she was taken with him. She came up in the filth even though she had nice things. All she knows is this life. The people that get stuck inside of it. So he mighta' sparkled lil' bit, 'cause he's not just a junkie, he's smart and knows what he's doing. Said a few things and she dropped her Sylvia Plath book to listen to his story instead, what do we get to do... Kill him? Drag her kicking and screaming back on to Brooklyn? That little girl is becoming a woman and we see her as a child and that’s why we’re fucked up right now. She’ll come home, Bel. Just think ‘bout that. She will. She’s our Baby but she’s not just that, she’s a lot more. Can’t keep taking credit from her when she’s off in some other part of the world doing things her own way. She’ll learn from this somehow and there ain’t no telling what it will be right now but she will. She loves you, she’d never stay away too long without explanation. Right now she’s got her hands full of decisions and she’s living her life.”





When did they stop thinking of Senna as a child? Was it when she slipped into heels instead of ballet flats or was it when she started romanticizing narcotics and the spirits they possessed? Could have been anything amid all the bittersweet developments. Was she smarter now, free of a shackled relationship and just drifting among wreckage she thought was pretty? Was she the wreckage? Who knows. Who really knows. All he could say at present was that she really was shrewd. Even if from an external standpoint she looked foolish, Baby was quick on the uptake.

ImageAnd apparently ignoring his texts or passed out at her apartment. Bel figured he’d see her at the club which was sending for him by the point of NYC’s sunset modeling like an abscess glowing Abutilon on a blanket of reds and blues. The jaws of a chill settled into him but ten minutes into a VIP booth, leather was clung to olive skin and intolerable. He tossed it over a vacant chair, tried not to think too hard about every event that led him to this very location. Brooding would become a deterrent, high stakes pinning him in crosshairs couldn’t be snubbed if he wasn’t vigilant. He eased his phone into his pocket and hung his head back against a vinyl slip [guess this shit was easier to clean body oils off of] for a few slow blinks leading up to visual attendance.

Women moved without reticence. In lieu of inhibitions and wool sweaters they wore glitter grease, rubbed the toned thighs of hustle hanging by poles. They'd serve as a good distraction when Gunner inevitably palmed through the drapes and sat his ass down in the same subdivision. There’d be enough of a production without enmity, Bel reminded himself to dial his shit back as he twisted soft bolts of dark hair between tattooed extremities and focused on the cadence of hips nailing bass beats. Exposed brick turned black in the discotheque, asses clapped and baby dolls hung off of his neck, plump lips whispering.

Who was gonna’ walk through those curtains?
The last person most people wanted to see, he was sure of it.

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Character Portrait: Chloe Williams
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Chloe Williams
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Chloe left in a huff that was completely lost on Aedan, emotions weren't his forte and she didn't expect much really - it still hit like a freight train when he spoke of bullshit like Karma. What did a seasoned killer know of Karma that she didn't? If anyone in this damned world deserved it, it was the Dingo himself. Being angry about bullshit like this was a wasted cause, and she didn't feel like rebelling in that moment to fight against it. Instead, she hiked up her big girl pants and took the short drive to the one place she always seemed to end up on short notice.

Daimas place was a high rise apartment set between the usual shady buildings hiding secretive practices and the occasional drug dealers hut. She could work herself here easily and nobody would bat an eyelash; Chloe had more respect for the heiress than that, besides if Daima knew what she did in the night she would hardly care to keep funneling her money every time she put on a pouty face. Inside the building was a shocking contrast against the outside, where dirt smudged entry ways and yellowing nicotine walls were the norm for most this place had an obvious feel of wealth to it. Nothing that would give away the true money that hid behind the garish floral wallpaper, but clean enough to be a clear comparison against the grime. Chloe bypassed the receptionist completely, flashing a small withering smile to the man behind the counter. He returned the look tenfold, too cheerful, too trusting. Obviously new since he let her walk by without a fuss - and thus, he'd be gone within a days’ time once security got wind of his lack of discretion.

Chloe knew the more than enough people in this building to know they valued the secrecy of its occupants. She took the elevator up to the top most floor. She let herself in, found Daima humming along to some new age pop in the kitchen. While she was certain that her entry was heard she snuck up and wound her arms around the woman's waist anyways, settling her chin on her shoulder and peering at the food sizzling on the stove top. "Smells good," Chloe admits, stifling a smile against her shoulder. “I didn’t expect to see you back here so soon!” Daima half turned, shared a chaste kiss with Chloe but quickly turned back to stir the food. The domestic feeling began to invade Chloe like an unwanted guest, she shook it off with difficulty as she pulled back.

“You know I can’t stay away for long,” Chloe bit out around a tongue made of cotton, dry for the first time of any form of flirting. Something about this felt off, too close to a real relationship when all Daima is in for is some grade A heartbreak and a lot of missing money. But for the moment, she could settle as long as the cash kept flowing. “Apparently, grab some plates and sit down,” Daima motioned to the island. Chloe did as she told, settling herself into this strange scene with the ease of someone who has known this type of lifestyle for a long time – she hasn’t, has only begun to scratch the surface of a relationship lacking a hatred of one another. Sure, the stress fuck mentality still resided within, but with Daima, there was a lack of hate that left Chloe feeling conflicted on each parting.

“You going to a club later?” Daima asks, eyebrow raised as she settled in to the seat opposite of her. For the first time Chloe recognized the look of jealousy in her eyes and it almost made her laugh. Of course, Daima would recognize her clothes as nothing besides the type one would wear to a party. A white top, dipping low enough the show off but not low enough to show all, paired with a black pencil skirt that may as well have been the shortest one in existence – honestly, someone needed to fire Chloe from choosing her own outfits. It wasn't club attire per say, but Chloe wouldn't be Chloe if she wore anything that actually fit the atmosphere. She had to stand out somehow, to draw people in easier. “I’m going with some friends, yes.” The lie slipped out easily enough, sure there would be friends there but more or less this was a way to find more business, and if anything she would get the watch whatever drama happens to go down; as it always does when the Bates and Zaires are under the same roof for more than a few minutes. “Would you like to go with?” She was baiting Daima now, lips still smiling despite the narrowing of her eyes. If Daima didn’t pick up the bait that was her own fault.

She didn’t ignore it. Scoffing, Chloe knew that strip clubs didn’t happen to be the usual hang out of the heiress. “Not my scene.” She explained, bitterness still seeping into her voice. Well, in the least, Chloe would get the stress fuck now that she had wound Daima up just as much as Chloe herself. They talked for a short time, the both of them had barely eaten anything by the time Chloe hit the bed with Daima two steps behind her. Body outlined by the light filtering in through the windows, glowing on dark skin – damn, she was slowly stripping. Chloe grinned, was this her revenge then? To show Chloe how she could be everything she wanted and more?

That short hour progressed in slow motion, Chloe could wax poetic all night about Daima and the rough ways in which they handled one another but then – well, she’d realize just how much she enjoyed it. And Chloe was nothing, if not stuck in her ways of squashing every feeling she had. By the time they finished up and Daima lay spread out in bed, half asleep with exhaustion she could do little more than laugh at the other woman. One round and down, that was no way to live. However, Chloe had places to be so she took the opportunity for what it was and slipped some cash out of the safe box in Daimas closet. A good 2k to possibly spend at the club. She’d have taken more but Daima would notice if there was a sizeable dip in her cash box.





The party seemed to already be in full swing when she walked in, looking ten times the fucked out mess she felt like. Though that didn’t stop her from entering with a flourish, completely at home in the clubs’ atmosphere. On first inspection she could see a few familiar faces, appearing and disappearing within the crowd. As she moved through it she nodded her head at a few, and looked away from others in hopes of escaping detection. Places like these attracted all types, and a lot of those types happened to have been former marks of hers.

Chloe took a seat where she could, only had to wait a few seconds before a barely clothed woman made her way over. A brunette server, carrying a tray of drinks. “Need anything honey?” Her eyes swept the server up and down, barely humming in response to the question asked, uttering a response that she couldn’t even remember a second after; she’ll probably end up with something fruity and completely hate it but fuck it, she had better things to pay attention to. There was a methodical way in which she took apart what little clothing woman wore, leaving the impression of a stark naked body in her minds eye. Still, she focused for a while on her face, big pouty lips painted bright red standing out against dark skin and bright eyes. God, she would tear this one apart in a heartbeat. She wouldn't mind having this particular one beneath - or even above - her. Perhaps tied up, she certainly looks the type to like it rough. No matter, within a matter of seconds she was walking away, sashaying her hips as she went. Chloe would be a liar if she said she didn’t zero in on her ass the entire time.

‘These girls will be the death of me,’ she turned her attention to the floor, more or less ogling everyone and everything that moved – she could admit that these places were more her speed than anywhere else. At one point she would have considered stripping, but she found the task to be a bit too out there for her liking. An open practice no matter which way you looked at it. She much preferred the easy fuck and steal lifestyle she led. But, in all honesty she could see herself here just as easy as that. The server returned instantly with something that thankfully wasn’t fruity at all.

“Come here often?” The server’s tray was empty, a prime time for small talk if Chloe’s wandering eyes could even be considered small talk. “Wish I did,” Chloe let slip with a smile. The server didn’t even bat an eyelash, probably used to this by now. If it wasn’t blatantly obvious that Chloe was checking her out – then the woman had to be blind. Alas, their little conversation ended when another patron signaled her, but, at least Chloe got to see her ass walking away again.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Chloe Williams Character Portrait: Caroline Beaumont Character Portrait: Aedan Rory Character Portrait: Gunner Bates
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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: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: November Mae Character Portrait: Chloe Williams Character Portrait: Caroline Beaumont Character Portrait: Aedan Rory Character Portrait: Bel Z. Character Portrait: Gunner Bates
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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: Dominic Bates Character Portrait: Hani Kim Character Portrait: Senna Z. Character Portrait: Chloe Williams Character Portrait: Caroline Beaumont Character Portrait: Aedan Rory Character Portrait: Simone Bates Character Portrait: Bel Z. 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.