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Lucille Simon

"Lucifer was an angel too."

0 · 115 views · located in Atlas

a character in “The Aegis Program”, as played by AbsoluteWhisper

Description

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LUCILLE SIMON
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"What’s ‘Luci’ short for? Could be Lucille, could be Lucifer. He was an angel too, you know." -Luci
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xxxxx|| Legal Name || Lucille Simon
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xxxxx|| Alias || Raphael (Raph, Raphi) || Luci
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xxxxx|| Pronouns || she/her
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xxxxx|| Age || 22
xxxxx|| Sexuality || Pansexualxx
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xxxxx|| Mentor || The Commanderxx
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xxxxx|| Birth-place || Upper-City Atlasxx
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xxxxx|| Hex || #8C2FF7xx
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xxxxx|| Height || 5’6’’
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xxxxx|| Build || lean but fit, with wiry, cut muscles and very low fat content
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xxxxx|| Description || To say Luci is beautiful would be selling her short. Most would be hard pressed to point out a flaw within her facial structure. High cheekbones, a cut jaw, a soft but pointed nose, and full lips compliment large green eyes that flicker between a lush emerald or a speckled silver hue. Somehow, it's impossible to find a bad angle to view her from. No matter what emotion she’s experiencing, it often looks like she’s posing for some unseen camera. Her blonde hair falls to her mid-back, and she has dabbled with dyeing it different but natural appearing colors, like ginger or brown. When patrolling she often braids it.

Luci has enjoyed using make-up and wearing jewelry from a young age, something passed down to her by her mother, but she often refrains from anything too extreme or flashy. “A woman must always be modest,” Words spoken by her mother are a constant background noise when selecting her fashion or attuning her overall appearance. The clothes she wears are often flowy, light, and feminine, in pastel colors; an assortment of skirts, dresses, and blouses with heels to match. Although she has tried more masculine clothing, and quite enjoyed the way it made her look and feel, there was something wrong about it. Like her mother was whispering in her ear that it wasn’t how she was supposed to look. Her garments hide the shapely curves she sports, with a thin waist, moderately wide hips, and a decent sized chest to match. However, just because she is statuesque doesn’t mean she’s soft. Lean musculature covers her body, nothing bulky or broad, but rather built for endurance and flowing movement rather than immense strength.

Through years of hero work, her pale skin has been marred to her dismay. Scars litter her arms and legs, mostly thin, short shapes. Of all of her blemishes, the one she is most self-conscious about is a bullet wound on the right side of her stomach that follows through to the exit hole on her back. Luci has no tattoos. She quite likes the idea of them, but she’s never been able to bring herself to do it. It's not the pain that worries her, but instead the disapproving looks she’d receive if her family knew of them.
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xxxxx|| Likes || Music of all kinds with a particular weakness for Disney music and 1940s-50s classic pop and jazz, She also secretly loves hip-hop and rap, Sweets with her morning coffee, Singing for people, especially her friends, Dancing with someone, Playing music, mostly piano, guitar, and bass, The sound of laughter, Seeing people smile, Being comfortable with someone and thus being comfortable enough to initiate physical contact like hugs, Animals, particularly mammals, big or small, Making herself look pretty but for herself, Sunny days, Hearts of gold under prickly exteriors, Reading, mostly romance novels and superhero comics, Practicing drawing, The Commander, Working with children, Watching movies, she likes almost any genre, but secretly loves horror movies along with romcoms, Compliments from women
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xxxxx|| Dislikes || Stormy nights and thunderstorms, Going swimming, Immense expectations, Small, crowded spaces, People staring at her wings or suddenly touching/grabbing them, Strangers pestering her to sing, Arguing with her mother, Non-fiction books, Pushy, forward men, Excessive and salacious comments from said men, Drugs, Being yelled at, Being talked over, When people assume she’s submissive, Bitter foods, Aggressive people
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xxxxx|| Quirks || Luci can often be found blankly staring in the distance, Fiddling with her clothing, Forcing herself to smile, Sensitive around where her wings and back/shoulders meet, Refuses to curse, so she’ll supplement curse words for something else, Mother has a British accent, so she can say words a bit differently and use some strange vocabulary sometimes
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xxxxx|| Fears || Getting struck by lightning, Her mother learning her secrets, Losing control of her emotions, Accidentally killing someone
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xxxxxLuci was raised in a rather specific way. Her mother did her best to make sure Luci turned out as the perfect little lady. Modest, temperate, and kind: these were the vital traits Luci’s mother tried to instill to her daughter. And for the most part, she succeeded. Above all else, Luci is utterly kind and selfless, and she values others over herself in all situations. She speaks gently and quietly to ensure she doesn’t upset anybody, very rarely raises her voice, and never curses or says vulgar things out loud. That is also in part because Luci is actually rather shy and reserved. In most situations, she often will only speak unless she is spoken to, she grows flustered easily, and she cannot stand when all attention is turned her way. When attention is put on her, that is when her seemingly unshakeable calm and pleasant demeanor wavers, and she grows jittery and visibly nervous. Which, unfortunate for her, happens rather frequently, both because of her appearance and her power set. In an attempt to counteract this, along with following the teachings of her mother, Luci’s clothing isn’t excessive or flashy, and it tends to cover most of her body. Although Luci knows that she doesn’t have to do this anymore now that she’s her own, independent woman, there is always something urging her to remain demure, both in the forms of the influences from her mother, and her own insecurities. Although she may think her face is pretty, she cannot stand the appearance of her body. (TW: Eating disorder discussed in the rest of this paragraph) For all of her life, her relationship with food has been dreadful. Her mother was pressuring her to look a certain way, and that certain way has always been skinny. Even before she learned to fly, she would skip meals, and this only grew worse when she was scouted by Aegis. Now she had a reason to remain thin; she could maneuver in the air better. This got worse and worse until she passed out during a mission. Now, more than a year later, she’s doing considerably better, but it's been a difficult journey. She still sometimes gets uncomfortable eating around people, and she does her best to avoid looking at her own body.

However, this weakness isn’t something that people would notice about her. “A woman is meant to suffer in silence”, so Luci keeps much of her feelings to herself. There is a veil around her at all times; she must always be pleasant, always tender, always kind. Some people have said she’s quite like a princess; as if there is this aura she carries and happiness follows suit. Her laughter is infectious, such a pretty and airy sound, and her smile is warm and welcoming. But most don’t know that it's often fake. No matter how she feels, she will force herself to remain agreeable. Not many know the true Luci. In public settings she spreads tranquility and acts with poise, as if every movement is measured. But her closest friends know that she’s excitable, and she can be passionate and energetic when it comes to topics and people she cares about. She can still be a bit shy even with friends, but she comes out of her shell with only a few people around. In most cases, it's difficult to flare her temper, but teasing her intentionally or showering her in compliments will often bring it out along with causing her to blush wildly. Her desire to remain non-vulgar does not hinder her boisterous and playful sense of humor. She can sometimes be motherly to her friends, but will not hesitate to joke around and toss rascally insults back and forth. And even though she was raised with strict morals, Luci would never hold this to other people. Just because she believes she must be a certain way doesn’t mean she thinks people should be like her. She doesn’t judge others in the slightest for things her mother would, like their gender, sexuality, or general appearance. She is a firm believer in trusting people, and although she may be a bit skittish around the more aggressive and intimidating, she thinks that deep down, everyone has goodness in their hearts.

So, Luci is able to make friends at a decent rate, and she’s done well to maintain the friendships she’s formed. However, in terms of romance, Luci is lost. She’s not sure of herself or her sexuality; she understands that she has attraction to men, but she also thinks she might enjoy other women. So she has no idea what to believe. Regardless, she tends to be picky about who she crushes on, often enjoying either smaller, cuter girls, and larger, stronger boys. For some reason, she tends to be drawn to the more cold, stand-offish types. But once a crush is formed, Luci has no idea what to do with herself. She seems to lose all control of her reactions when they’re around, and she’s in a constant flustered state, often stumbling over words, which is strange for someone who speaks with such clarity and diction. Although she hasn’t had much experience with dating (her mother never let her date when she was younger), she’s fumbled her way through a few one-night stands that she will never admit to. Especially not to her mother, who believes she should be chaste until marriage. She doesn’t understand how people can do those with such frequency; it's so intimidating to her, so she refrains from doing it as much as possible. But every once in a while, she gets lonely... xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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xxxxx|| Siren Physiology || Luci was born with the physical traits of a siren; a creature in mythology described as a woman with the attributes of a bird. For Luci, this comes in the form of a pair of wings on her back. At her current age, they are quite large, about 16 feet across when fully outstretched. When she was little, they were a pure white color, but as she’s grown, they’ve been speckled with black and brown. So now, they’re rather akin to that of a snow owls wings. They are soft and pillowy, covered in thousands of cloud-like feathers that grant her the ability of flight in close to pure silence. When flying without any additional weight, Luci’s top speed is 200 MPH, and she’s been practicing to increase that amount. Before training with Aegis, she could only fly by herself and for short bursts. Now, she can fly for hours on her own, and can carry up to 250 pounds for brief periods. There are some other minor traits she has, like being able to see rather well in the dark, having enhanced eyesight and hearing, enhanced flexibility and agility, and fast reflexes.
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xxxxx|| Siren’s Song || The voice of a siren has mystical properties, and Luci is no exception. Even when speaking, her voice is smooth and light, and it demands the attention of those around her. Without even trying, the mere sound of it is able to soothe anybody within earshot. However, when Luci sings, that is a completely separate story. Her singing is nothing short of perfect with an almost impossible range and perfect pitch; a rich, full-toned voice with just enough roughness to give people goosebumps. Her singing, even when not trying to use her Siren’s Song, will urge people to focus on her alone. Through the power of her song, she is able to establish an unseen mental connection with people, and thus influence them to feel certain ways or control their actions. This banks on that initial mental link, which is a little bit different for everyone. People with weaker wills are much easier to take control of faster, but some people need to hear more of her song for much longer periods before Luci has any influence. For most people, about 15 seconds is when she starts to take hold, and by the 30 second mark, they are almost entirely under her spell. The way she influences them is telepathic, so she doesn’t need to speak her commands. She doesn’t even necessarily need to give any commands, she can just urge people to feel certain ways, something like making them relax or forcing them to be angry. In combat, Luci often flies overhead while singing, or hides behind cover. She is able to project her voice farther than that of a normal human, and with the aid of some gadgets, her singing can sometimes be heard from blocks away. Because this connection is telepathic and up to Luci’s will, she can choose not to influence certain people, even if they hear her song. It took hundreds of hours of practice, but eventually she had enough control to be able to pick those who are excluded from her command. It was something she had to do before she could be an effective hero; her job was much harder when she would accidentally put The Commander under her spell.
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xxxxx|| Strengths || Luci was taught mixed martial arts to go with her singing. She’s learning how to use ranged weapons, but she hasn’t taken to them as well as close-quarters combat, especially when trying to use them while flying. She is able to bring crowds of people to their knees, and with the aid of Commander to pick off any who are resistant to her singing, they make a powerful team. Through the use of gadgets, she can make her voice pierce through most earplugs and solids.
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xxxxx|| Weaknesses || Although her wings allow her to fly, they are still similar to that of a bird’s wings. Meaning, they aren’t even close to strong or durable. They are designed to be as light as possible, so the bones in her wings are hollow, and thus more sensitive to damage. And she has complete feeling throughout their entirety, so if they are broken or damaged, it would feel like breaking her arm or legs. They are also a constant annoyance; they’re too large to completely fold against her body, so most of her clothing has to be tailored to fit her. This also means she can’t keep a consistent secret identity; even with the aid of a codex, the wings can still be felt, so she’s given up on that. They are also susceptible to fire. She can fly in the rain, but if her wings become submerged, they can take days to dry before she can fly normally again.

Luci’s biggest problem is the inconsistency of her Siren’s Song. There are many factors at play that will influence the success rate of using it. The song works best on people who are attracted to her physically, so people who do not feel attraction to women, or people who do not feel attraction at all, are much harder to take control of. There are also many people who just have stronger willpower, and are thus more difficult to establish a complete link. For those who Luci cannot control completely, she can influence them to move slower, or be less aware of their surroundings, but they’re more like forceful suggestions than direct orders. The link is much weaker, and thus can be broken more easily. Sometimes her song works, and sometimes it doesn't. If her target can see her, her song usually works better, but if they cannot, there is more room for error, which puts her in further danger. People who are deaf are entirely immune to her power. Professional soundproofing of buildings, or high-tech anti-sound devices render her power useless. When gagged, she is able to still hum, so she must be silenced using special mechanical muzzles designed to counteract any noise.
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Gabriel Simon was born with a unique set of abilities. Wings were growing from his back, and his crying and wailing put people at ease instead of doing the opposite. His mother deemed him an angel, and his father, some type of demon there to test their loyalty to God. When he was only five years old, his father took a razor to his back, slicing off the feeble wings that had no chance to mature into something usable. After that, Gabriel learned that he should keep his skillset to himself. A skillset that he improved upon as he aged, and after the passing of his parents just before his 21st birthday, the only people who knew his secret were dead.

With a handsome face, a degree, and the ability to convince almost anybody to do just about anything, Gabriel found his place in Upper-Atlas with ease. He joined a massive media conglomerate, and after only six years he was second only to the CEO. This raised many red flags, but any rumor or outcry was promptly squashed with a few sweet words from Gabriel. Life was going swimmingly; he lived as a bachelor in one of the fanciest penthouses in the city. That was, until he met Ruth Abbott, the most beautiful woman he had ever laid his eyes on. And the first time they met, he decided that only he could have her. The manipulation started slowly; coaxing her to go on dates with him, even though he wasn’t her type, convincing her to let him stay over, appealing to her religious upbringing. Less than a year later, his hold on her was solidified. They were married shortly after, and Ruth was completely submissive and devoted to her husband, just what he wanted, and his secret was still safe.

But his master plan hit a few hitches. He was having trouble conceiving with his wife. After a number of tries and miscarriages, Lucille was born, strange nubs on her back, with wails that calmed her mother. The doctors had no clue what was growing from her shoulders, but they saw it was bone, and decided to leave it be and see how it progressed. By the time she was five, just as her father had been, her wings were starting to form. They were tiny, hardly any feathers, but the ones that cling to her small frame were as pure as fresh fallen snow. From that day, Luci became her mother’s “little angel”. In fact, those were the first words Luci remembers hearing, and Ruth rarely even called her by her name.

Growing up in the lap of luxury was certainly easier than having to struggle, but her mother seemed to do the most to try and make her daughter’s life more difficult than it should have been. There were the strict religious requirements: going to church several times a week, attending Sunday school, not being allowed to consume media not approved of by her mother, being shielded from the realities of the world, being dissuaded from having friendships with the opposite sex, having bigoted ideals planted in her blossoming mind, the list goes on. Even if Luci did not have to endure this, her mother’s overbearing but harsh nature instilled insecurity and frustration in Luci, even from such a young age. She was always told exactly how to look, exactly how to act, and if she deviated from this even a little, she was punished harshly, either physically, or by the tirade of insults she could never grow accustomed to receiving, despite how frequently she’d heard them.

Her father, on the other hand, was Luci’s beacon in her bleak, choked existence. His expectations of her may have been perhaps unjustifiably high, but rather than scold her for not meeting them, he was kind, soft, and gentle. He saw his daughter as a blessing, just as her mother had, but instead of trying to bend his angel to fit his whims, he encouraged her to be herself within reason. Even though he was far too busy for Luci to consider her interactions with him as regular, she cherished the time they spent together, and he liked to take her on little trips with just the two of them. Gabriel understood what it meant to be different, special, and he wanted his daughter to have a good moral backbone before she fully understood what her gifts were.

Gabriel decided, once Luci turned 13, just starting to mature out of childhood, he would tell her his secret, and explain how her abilities worked. He was doing well in the company, slated to take the CEO’s position once he retired in a year, and everything was going well. And then, four months before Luci’s 13th birthday, Gabriel disappeared. Not from their lives, but from everybody’s, as if he had just been swallowed whole by the earth itself. Nobody could find anything, not a clue that he was even alive, but no proof of his death either. Dozens of private investigators with some of the best technology in the business couldn’t even find the beginning of a trail. However, he left his home and all of his stocks and funds to his wife, so their quality of life did not change. But, without Gabriel, the figurehead of the Simon family, there was no one to snuff out rumors or negativity, so public opinion of the family took a nosedive. Now, even after all the work he had done, and the support he had gotten from other families, all Ruth Simon and Lucille Simon garnered from their peers was pity.

Having to face the rest of her life without her father was hard enough, nevermind the immense growing pains coming from her wings. She would often wait out hours, writhing and thrashing as they expanded at a rapid rate. She spent two years of her life on almost complete bedrest, hopped up on pain meds to keep her from vomiting from the agony. But, by her 15th birthday, those nubs had turned into full, functioning wings. Given her family’s power and Ruth’s stranglehold on her daughter, any attempts and offers from Aegis were shot down, but that was before Luci started to jump off of buildings while learning how to fly. Now, she was too public, and Ruth had very little choice in the matter. Aegis took her into their facilities not long after a video went viral of her crashing into a tree.

Those first years at Aegis were brutal. So brutal, that Luci cannot remember them. Her Inhibitor Chip replaced those memories of the tests and experiments and all of the suffering with that of an almost camp-like experience, where she was trained to use her abilities better. By the time she was 17, The Commander had been assigned to her, a hulking man more than double her size. At first, she was horrified by him. He was massive, and he was meant to be her mentor and combat trainer. He could snap her like a toothpick without a second thought. But those fears were quelled after she started to spend more time with him. He was a metered, objective oriented man, but he was not harsh and he was not cold. He may have pushed her hard to keep getting stronger, but their relationship was positive and warm, like that between a niece and an uncle. He had so much strength, so much power, but he had nothing but kindness and good in his heart. Luci trusted him unconditionally very early, and he did the same.

Luci was prepared to enter the field by 18. Her debut was rocky at best; a sheltered girl, raised in lush settings, only to be kept in a box for several years was released with unfiltered access to the world. There were many adjustments she had to make, and her combat prowess wasn’t great for quite a while. But after some growing pains, something she was already so used to, she began to adapt. She learned quickly how much better life was when it wasn’t through her mother’s lenses, and the world was rather different from how she had described it. Luci made great friends not long after, and without them, she wouldn’t have known how to continue on. She owns a humble apartment in Upper-Atlas, far enough from her mother that the trip is out of her way. At first, the idea of another job was daunting, but Luci was growing bored when not on patrol. Not to mention, if she had something to do in her free time, she had an excuse not to visit or call her mother. At first, she looked around, taking suggestions from friends, but nothing quite fit her skillset or comfort level. The one she considered most was modeling, as pushed by her absolute bear of a friend, but after seeing some of the types of shoots they were in, she nearly fainted on the spot. One day, when she was singing to one of her friends, they recorded Luci without telling her. They promptly posted her on youtube, and suddenly Luci had a couple million reasons to keep singing for other people. Couple that with her lack of a secret identity, people started to put a voice to a face, and she became the singing superhero. So her dayjob was recording music, mostly covers, with the occasional original in there. She was eventually signed on with a record label, so a couple times a week she spends her day in the studio. The music is a phenomenal outlet, but her sheepishness has not changed. She prefers not to perform music live, but she’s done it a handful of times for special circumstances. Through the electronic compression, the mystical properties of her music are shaved off, but that didn’t change the fact that people still believed it helped calm them.

Ever since moving out on her own, her relationship with her mother, in her opinion, has gotten better. But for Ruth, this is her worst nightmare. Luci was breaking all the rules she laid out of her, and those were just the rules Ruth could see. Luci fears the day her mother finds out that she’s been experiencing attraction to other women, nevermind her promiscuity. There were some habits that were too hard to break, so almost every day, Luci calls her mother before she goes to bed, just to listen to the same old guilt tripping, backhanded insults, and negativity that had always been there.

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cs: phosphene - fc: Sophie Turner - hex code: #8C2FF7

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So begins...

Lucille Simon's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Emeris Mikaelson Character Portrait: Leo Lambert Character Portrait: Mikey Santo Character Portrait: Lucille Simon Character Portrait: Cameron Jensen Character Portrait: Bella Clayton Character Portrait: Ada Forrest Character Portrait: Kieran Gallagher
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »

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The sensation that filled the air was enough to set anyone on edge, at least for those that knew what tonight truly was. But, from an outsider's perspective, it was the annual dinner-party thrown at Atlas' very own Hale Enterprises company building. The guest-list itself was an accomplishment, seeing as how nearly every business owner, CEO, actor, model, and public influencer had been invited. If you were someone of note, chances of you being invited were high. Stereotypical, orchestral music played throughout the main dining hall that the event was being held.

Forty-Six, large circular tables were aligned, as eight chairs were seated with each that outlined the center of the room that held what could be considered a dancing floor, with an orchestra band stationed at the stage that ran alongside the large staircase that led to the room. Anyone who made their way upstairs, would be able to look down the old stone railing, looking down would see what would be notable as an indoor courtyard, of sorts. And down below, all of the tables and guests could be seen with little to no issue. It was a perfect placement for watchmen. And of course, this wouldn't be one of Xavier Hale's own parties, if personal guardsmen weren't spotted along the room. All in pristine, black suit and ties, accompanied with a hearing ear piece in their right or left ear.

The night was a buzz with energy, as guests had made their way inside already. Whether sitting at one of the many tables, speaking with other pristine guests, or sitting at a table. Waiters had made their way out of the ground-floor's kitchen, all with trays carrying an assortment of champayne, wine, and of course the finest samples of snacks that would be present all throughout the night. To the common eye, or well, Upper-City celebraties, were concerned, it was one of the finer parties anyone could and would attend. Whether to hear the latest gossip, and trade secrets, to being the first ones to hear whatever news Xavier Hale himself would reveal before the general public got word.

But tonight, it was anything but casual affairs. The Upper-Class party was simply a facade to help cover what was truly going on this night. Aegis had been alerted that a few of the pristine guests that would be invited tonight, could very possibly have some tie-ins with members of who they called The Order, and Aegis wanted whatever answers they could get from them. Assuming they'd be successful of course. At least tonight they couldn't accept failure...

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Unsurprisingly, one of the many faces that would be present alongside Xavier Hale, would be one of his interns, Mikey Santo. She had become a notable face amongst the company and many other notable faces amongst Atlas. People's opinions on her had always been mixed, but people knew well enough to never speak ill of her when in the presence of those who belonged to Hale Enterprises, especially considering the blatant favoritism Xavier had shown towards her. She was someone many considered his right hand; wherever he was, she was right next to him. And this night was no different. Mikey had arrived to the party hours ahead of time. Helping reinforce security measures, keeping tabs of who was security, etc. As well as her focal duties of the night, which entailed making sure some of the bigger industry members ended up making deals with Hale Enterprises.

At least that was her role for the night on the outside. While in reality, Mikey was head of security, in plane sight. She would report to Xavier immediately if anything was out of the ordinary. And act on her role as a hero secondarily. As much as she wanted to play Hero tonight, she had her normal responsibilities to attend to tonight. Which is exactly why a team of Aegis members were also in attendance this evening. As more faces made their presence known, Mikey was able to spot a few in the crowd from where she was up on the balcony to the right that alongside the large staircase in the main room.

Bella was down below, keeping her eyes scoped out on the main floor. Leo and Paladin were somewhere else keeping watch. It didn't exactly take long for Mikey to spot the two Titans in the crowd. Looking over a few more, she could make out the all too distinguishable red hair of a tall and slim woman, with a male who stood by her side. He had darker but short hair, and rather clean shaven. They were both dressed up to the nines, brandishing some of the higher tech and jewelry Atlas had to offer. Their was no mistaking who these two individuals were. Iliana and Conroy Mikaelson. Two of the bigger names of notable faces in Atlas. As well as the very parents of Emeris Mikaelson, who was the bar-owner of Envy, as well as former hookup of Mikey. Those were two people she didn't want to see this evening, but not shocking that they'd be there tonight, all things considered. One face she was surprised she didn't see in the crowd, was Emeris themself. But she assumed they had better things to do than attend a party like this, even though they were invited, for all too obvious reasons. Even their own siblings, Sarah and Saoirse were around as well. Chatting with some A-List actors. Mikey gave a small sigh, and one last proper scan over the room, and Mikey had turned on her heels and began to make her way out of the main room, excusing herself before the main event of the night would would begin.

She raised her right hand to her ear, activating the cloaked ear piece by her ear, "Everything's looking good on the ground floor. How's out-side lookin'?" she questioned. A few short moments later another voice spoke up in the comms that were connected to all of those who belonged to Aegis, "All clear out here, boss. Will keep you up to date if-" the familiar voice of Shiloh crackled through the mic. Mikey raised her eyebrow, "Say that again? Your comm acted up-" silence fell over the comms for a moment. "I said I'd update you if we saw anything?" Shiloh repeated herself.

Mikey nodded to herself, "Alright, and make sure you check in with Sparky later. Your comms' fucked again." the blond retorted before making her way up a staircase off to the side. There was an exit door to the left, quickly punching in the six digit code, Mikey made her way through the door. It closing with an air-lock whoosh behind her as she stepped out into the cold air. Mikey's eyes trailed alongside the metal railing that kept anyone from falling off the edge, before turning to look ahead of her as she made her way alongside the outer perimeter. It was part of the route she needed to scout every few hours, just on the off chance anything happened. Xavier was being a paranoid bastard, she thought to herself. That was until she stopped walking for a moment, listened and then continued on ahead. Mikey can't believe she had been so careless, just in time as she turned on her heel and moved to the right, completely side stepping out of the way as someone's fist had been aimed right for her head.

Turning on her heel once more, Mikey saw a figure standing opposite her. They were wearing attire made entirely of black, that itself wasn't the odd part. What stood out, was the mask they wore. Half of it was black, the other was a dark orange. Mikey had only ever seen this figure once before, and it sent a shiver down her spine. The two locked eyes for just a moment, before they charged at her, and she was able to just barely step aside and out of the way. Pushing herself up against the cold stone of the wall. Her skin practically sticking to it, due to how far up they were, it was next to freezing. Her breath came out in deep puffs of white as she looked at the masked individual. Mikey cocked her head to the side, and the figure did the same.

With barely a moment's notice, the figure lurched forward once more, knocking Mikey nearly over the railing, but she was able to catch herself. "Could really use some help up here-" she was cut off mid sentence as the figure grabbed her forcefully by the side of her head, managing to take the comm by her ear and crushed it in their hand with all too much ease. "You fucker-" the figure took a few steps backwards, the railing stopping them for a moment. Mikey raised her eyebrow once more, only to see the figure look behind them once then back at Mikey, before raising their hand and retrieving two small daggers from their back. Just as another figure, dressed exactly the same way joined them by their side. Unsheathing their own weapons as well.

Mikey let out a defeated sigh, "So much for Plan A." she muttered to herself. Not only was Mikey now on her own, but outnumbered and without a way of communicating with the rest of her team. She just hoped they got the message in time...


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Meanwhile across the otherside of Upper-City Atlas, the energy that filled the air was entirely in stark contrast. The air was silent and filled with tension as figures were spread out in various locations, hidden amongst the shadows that cascaded over the museum like a blanket. Aegis had been alerted of a supposed plan that would take place tonight. The goal? A group of individuals would be attempting to steal countless variables and artifacts. For what purpose? The heads of Aegis weren't exactly sure yet, but whatever it was, they weren't going to risk it. Alerting the police would have done nothing but cause even more tension and possibly alert the would be thieves if they so much as got wind of the police involvement.

But tonight, it just so happened that a famous artist was showing off some of their most recent and famous artwork at the local gallery that the museum had allowed new and upcoming artists to show off their work, as well as hold an auction afterwards for the art-pieces. It was a perfect occasion for a potentially robbery, but even more so, it allowed undercover Aegis members to sneak in. Whether posing as faux security, or even event attendees. It was all too perfect. Amongst the people attending the auction, there were notable faces in the crowd, from actors, public infuencers, and even some politicians that were interested in the art-show.

Throughout the rooftop of the Museum, there were three figures that were all in line of each other's sight. Two of them were stationed across the rooftop, making eye-contact with the one figure who was hidden off by themself in a perched position. They would have been entirely undetectable, if it hadn't been for the slight glint of the moonlight that bounced off of the jet-black metal of the sniper rifle in their hands, balanced perfectly behind a small border. The figure had been looking through the scope of the gun, the sight aimed through the glass pain window that filtered moonlight through into the ceiling. As the figure moved their head back from the rifle, they lifted up their right hand in a hand gun gesture, and silently motioned as if they made a shot. The lights of the LED mask lit up with a content expression as they did so.

"Isimir, quit fuckin' around and fuckin' focus." a deep and gruff voice crackled through the comms. The figure gave an over dramatic shrug across the way before speaking up, "Well someone is grumpy today, now huh? And for your information, I am focusing, Reaper. So well in fact, I know exactly what they're doin' down there!" the masked hero retorted back in return. The semi-robotic voice coming through the comms.

Reaper simply shook his head as he brought a hand up to face palm the skull painted mask, which was partially obstructed by the hood of his cloak. "Then what are they doing down there, if you're so damn cocky?" he questioned back.

Silence filled both the air and the comms for a moment, before static crackled to life throughout the comms before a voice spoke up, "Well, if you must know, my dear friend! They're currently laughing with an obnoxious, clearly fake laugh as they drink some stupid champayne with their rich friends. What else do rich people do anyways? Except counting coins and being selfish assholes?" Isimir retorted sarcastically.

A rough sounding scoff was returned for a moment, "Got me there, kid." Reaper responded before continuing:

"Well, if you see anything out of the ordinary, you know what to do-"

"What do you mean by that? Why are you sounding like you're leaving-"

"Well if you'd just-"

"You know how ansty I get whenever you leave me alone, especially when you leave me alone with him!" gesturing at Drake. Who clearly didn't look pleased with that comment.

"Well if you'd just shut the fuck up, you'd know why." Reaper grunted with an annoyed tone.

"Well don't need to sound so upset. But please go on. I like to hear your thoughts-"

An annoyed and tired sigh could be heard in response over the comms before it went entirely silent for a full minute before crackling back to life. "I'm going to go in and personally scope things out."

Silence filled the air before a small chuckle could be heard, "Oh I bet you are-" was all that was said before it was clear that Reaper shut his comm off.

Isimir just looked across the way at Drake who was still in the shadows and gave another dramatic shrug in his direction. Looking back through the scope of the rifle they had in their hands, "Oh sweet jesus fuckin' christ, fuck me uuppp-" Isimir mumbled into their comm that was built into the headset that was inside their mask.

"Drakey...I think you're gonna wanna take a look at this..." Isimir started back on the comms again, peering through the scope once more, "Mommy...Sorry...Mommy...Sorry, I mean Mommy, sorry-" they continued mumbling, as their eyes locked on to one figure in specific.

It was a tall, slender and curvy woman with an entirely black dress. It hung snuggly to her body as she walked with a sense of purpose, effortlessly making her way through the doors and into the main room where the art exhibit was taking place. Isimir tracked the female with the use of the scope on the rifle, watching as the woman marched her way over to another woman before coming to a stop. Isimir couldn't tell what they were saying from this distance, but they were smart enough to have put the pieces together. "Oh fuck me..."

"What now???" Reaper's voice broke through the comms once more.

"Uh...Daddy-I mean Reaper...You've got company-" An annoyed groan escaped Reaper.

"Be more specific." he demanded. Entirely ignoring what he was called seconds prior.

"I mean two very sexy and badass women to your left, less than a hundred feet away from you. Way too sexy to be simple party goers..." Isimir answered. Even with the distortion affect on their mic, the sign of clear worry could be detected in the tone they used.

"...Do you mean-"

"Femme Fetale? Yes! That is exactly what I mean, Reaper. Plus...I'd notice those asses anywhere from chasing them all over the god damn city...We got trouble, my good bitches."

A heavy sigh came from Reaper's end of the comms once more. Realizing just how serious his young side kick was being, in their weird, Isimir way, of course. "Everyone got that? We're not alone here. And if Isimir is correct...We got more problems than we initially thought. Keep your eyes out for them. The first sign of anything at play? We light them up. Minimal citizen casualties, as always. Fan out and keep your eyes peeled. Shit goes down, we go dark."


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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Morgana Ishida Character Portrait: Leo Lambert Character Portrait: Mikey Santo Character Portrait: Clarence Lawless Character Portrait: Lucille Simon Character Portrait: Bella Clayton Character Portrait: Ada Forrest
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• Lucille Simon • Raphael •
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~Two Hours Before The Party~

Luci was positively beside herself. For the first few hours, all she could do was pace. But now, with her legs tired, she sat on the edge of her bed, wishing she could bite her perfectly manicured nails. She couldn’t, no, she musn’t. They were for the party. Occasionally, her eyes would dart to her bathroom door; behind it hung the dress she was to wear tonight. Xavier insisted on taking care of it since Luci was essentially working for him this evening. And after one long fitting session, she was given a dress, the likes of which she had never seen before. She couldn’t handle it! The man had designed a dress without consulting her at all, but, being who she is, Luci couldn’t say no when he insisted on handling all of it. That was just the kind of man Xavier was.

A knock at her door sent Luci flying. Well, metaphorically. She scrambled across her apartment until she reached the entrance. After a deep breath and flattening out the ruffles in the robe she had on, she opened the door. What she was greeted with was her resident titan of a friend, one arm propped on the door frame rather dramatically. “Hey pretty lady,” Leo greeted the blonde, a usual phrase that always caused Luci’s cheeks to heat up. Before Luci could scold them for teasing her at a time like this, they continued, “Heard there was some kind of an emergency. Figured you could use a hero,” The playful and obviously exaggerated deepness of their voice pulled a scoff from Luci.

“Shut up!” Luci snapped back. The usually composed and coordinated woman was clearly ruffled, and she even reached forward, grabbing Leo’s wrist to pull them into her apartment. After shutting the door behind her and ignoring the pleased laugh from Leo, Luci turned to look their friend up and down again. They were dressed to the absolute nines, with a gorgeous auburn and maroon suit. “Wow, you look… Amazing,” She tossed out that compliment, clearly dazzled by the quality of the outfit.

“Thanks babes,” Leo replied as they walked further into Luci’s apartment. It was clear they were familiar with the layout. “I better look nice. The fitting took almost six fuckin’ hours.”

Luci gawked at Leo as she followed behind them. “Six hours? What in the world…”

“I know right?!” Leo replied quickly, the excitement evident in their tone. “But hey, it totally paid off. Look!” They turned to the side before twisting their upper torso, a move that flexed the majority of the lower half of their body. “These slacks make my ass look great! Look!” They commanded again.

Whatever blush Luci had from her garish friend’s earlier comments was reinforced as she turned a deep shade of crimson. Of course, with Leo gesturing and all, she couldn’t help but glance down before swiftly looking away. “I didn’t invite you here for you to show me your butt!” Her hands clenched at her sides, a habitual action that she performed when embarrassed.

Leo just laughed and stopped their flexing to face Luci completely. “Alright alright, you can look now. So what’s this emergency all about?”

Finally, with the correct topic at hand, Luci could do her best to vent her frustrations and anxiety. But, despite the fact that it took several minutes for Leo to get there, she hadn’t figured out exactly how to explain why she was freaking out so much. She hatched a plan as fast as she could. Just as she had done moments before, Luci grabbed Leo’s wrist and pulled them to her bedroom. “Sit on the bed. Keep your eyes shut until I tell you to open them,” Luci’s orders were soft, with her nerves causing her voice to shake.

With a smirk, Leo did as they were told. “Yes ma’am, I’ll do whatever you command-”

“Leo!” She barked, and the giggle from their now blinded friend only made her more furious. Luci disappeared into her bathroom, nudging the door mostly shut behind her. From the deep-rooted anxiety, Luci had practiced putting on the complex dress several times by this point, only to grow too flustered at the thought of wearing it out and taking it off again. With it now on securely, she inched her way out of the bathroom until she was standing directly in front of Leo.

All that they heard was the soft sound of rustling fabric and… clinking noises? The urge to open their eyes was strong, but Leo wouldn’t betray Luci’s trust like that. The blonde took one deep breath, counting the seconds as she felt her chest fill, and then let out a staid exhale. “Alright, you can open your eyes…”

Once their eyes were open, it took less than two seconds for Leo’s jaw to grow slack. If they thought their suit was nice, Luci’s dress was positively opulent. Even in the dim light of the room, the thousands of crystals that covered the dress sparkled and shined, but not in any way that was remotely blinding. It appeared as if the entire dress was made from said crystals, but with so many of them so close together, it instead looked as if she was draped in liquid sparkles. It fell all the way to the floor, where it collected only a touch at Luci’s feet, implying it was meant to be worn with heels. The dress was form fitting and solid all the way up to her chest, where it was promptly cut off entirely, leaving her sternum and the curve of her bust exposed, along with her shoulders and arms. Their piercing gaze traced every curve and inch of Luci, something that caused Luci’s blush to spread to her neck. “Oh my god…” They could finally mumble. They hadn’t even blinked yet, they were so entranced.

Luci was rooted to her spot, practically shaking due to how tense she was. She couldn’t wear something like this. “I… I don’t know what to do! I can’t wear this, I simply can’t-

“Whoa whoa whoa, what are you on about? Its well beyond fucking gorgeous!” Leo complimented with such intensity, Luci couldn’t help but purse her lips.

“I feel… I feel like a damn disco ball!” Luci groaned, both of her hands flying to her face.

“Lulu, if you’re a disco ball, you are the hottest damn disco ball I have ever seen,” Leo replied and a chuckle followed. They still hadn’t blinked. “Come on, give me a little spin!”

Luci remained still as a statue. “I…” Her voice wavered. Her heart was hammering in her chest. “I-I can’t…”

Leo’s face expressed their confusion as their eyebrows pinched together. “Why not?”

“That’s… That’s the worst part about this dress. Look..” With the conclusion of her sentence, Luci took a sheepish step forward.

The dress pooled between her legs like liquid, away from one that had just shifted, to reveal a dangerously long slit in the side of the garment that stopped only a few inches below her waist. It was clear that, with every step, almost the entirety of Luci’s legs would be exposed up to the top of her thigh. Leo’s hand flew to their mouth. “Oh. My. God.” Leo repeated themselves. “Luci… People will see your legs… I need to call the police-” The sarcasm in their tone only added to the blonde’s vexation.

“Stop teasing! I don’t know what to do!” There was a desperation in her tone; she truly had no idea how to deal with this. “I can’t wear this! I simply can’t!” Luci also repeated herself, but this time, that soft Yorkshire accent bled through which caused an uproarious laughter to explode out of Leo.

“I’m going to need you to take some deep breaths because I can’t handle you when you sound like you just stepped off the Mayflower-” Leo huffed and puffed between breaths, their intense laugh causing themselves to wheeze.

Luci’s irritation turned to rage, and she grabbed one of the pillows that sat next to the hero. “Stop laughing! You..!” She went to thwack Leo over the head with it, but they were too fast for her, and caught it in their hands. This only created another wave of laughter from them.

“Easy, I just got my hair done! Ok, ok, ok, give me a second, Christ I can’t breathe-” Leo did their best to stop, but it was quite difficult. With Luci so flustered, she was as red as a tomato, and it made for a comical sight. But after some more deep breaths, Leo composed themselves. “Ok, alright. I’m sorry Luci but I don’t understand what the problem is. The dress is gorgeous.”

How could she possibly explain this to Leo? Someone whose job it was to wear exuberant and sumptuous clothing, someone who’s worn garments that were far more revealing than hers. “I.. I can’t wear something as fancy as this. And so revealing… Everyone will be looking at me,” She fretted. As she spoke, she pressed her palms to her warm cheeks in an attempt to cool them, but not really succeeding because all of her body felt so hot.

“Luci, you’re going to be on stage. Everyone will be watching you anyway, why not look killer while doing it?” Leo offered. They leaned back on their palms, mostly so they could get a better look at the blonde. It was hard for their gaze to settle on one place; the dress’ design prompted them to keep exploring rather than sitting still.

Luci frowned. She was already nervous enough about needing to perform on stage. Live music really wasn’t her thing, but considering the fact that Xavier all but begged her to do it, she had to agree. His points were valid; with her voice, she could ensure the party goers would be calm and happy all night, and perhaps a bit more open to business dealings as well. “I.. I don’t know. I don’t think I look good and-... a-and what if my mother sees me wearing this…” Her eyes drifted away from Leo as her mind wandered. She purposefully avoided telling her mother about Xavier’s offer to give her a dress, specifically because Ruth would want to either pry or influence his design. But, at this point, she wondered if she had perhaps chosen incorrectly. If her mother had any hand in the design, the garment would be much more modest…

“Who cares what the wicked witch thinks?” Leo’s rhetorical question would remain unanswered, mostly because Leo already knew how Luci would reply. “Didn’t you say she probably wasn’t going to go anyways?”

Luci released another tense sigh before continuing, “She said she wasn’t feeling very well so she might not go, but she’s used that excuse to make a fancy late entrance before…” Her voice dropped to a grumble as the sentence progressed.

Leo blinked a few times before narrowing their eyes. “She what now? I swear to the gods, rich people-” They shook their head and rolled their eyes. Before Luci could even say anything more, Leo stood. Now on their feet, they towered over Luci, and firm but gentle hands landed on her shoulders. “Lulu, you look radiant. In fact, the word doesn’t even cover how stunning you are in that dress,” Leo laid the praise on thick, and although it did embarrass Luci, it also filled her chest with warmth. “Everyone will think you are gorgeous. And you’re going to wow them with that equally gorgeous voice of yours. Everything is going to go great! I promise.” Everything about Leo was just so kind and warm, Luci couldn’t help but relax, even if it was just a little bit.

“I… I did already commit to this, I can’t back out now,” She relented with a sigh, but her mind was still wracked with anxiety. All she could think about are all the eyes, everyone staring at her. And she had no clue who was even going to attend the party! She knew Mikey and Leo would be there, but so would Bella… And Morgana’s family had influence, surely she would be there too… The thought of her current crush seeing her in this dress made her stomach fill with butterflies. “Ughhh…” She groaned and covered her eyes. Without even thinking about it, her wings extended and curled around her, as if trying to hide herself away. Then, she remembered something. The main reason why she needed Leo here, other than the emotional support of course. “Oh, there’s one more thing. Xavier also gave me some… accessories to go with the dress.” Luci walked carefully in the gown, making sure not to trip, and grabbed a medium sized box. Upon opening it, she began to place all of the objects on her bed. First, a masquerade style mask designed with the same crystals that lined her dress, a pair of matching stilettos, and then a satin pouch about the size of Leo’s fist.

“You’ll even be wearing a mask! That’ll help with the nervousness, I’m sure.” Leo continued to do their best to comfort their friend, but most of it fell on deaf ears. “Honestly, I’m surprised Xavier even offered the mask. He’s hiding your beauty!”

“Oh, stop with the compliments. I’ve had enough of you already,” Luci scolded her friend, although it was gentle. “I think it's because Xavier asked me to perform as Raphael, not as Lucille Simon. So… The mask fits, I suppose.” She was thankful that at least some of her cheeks would be covered. But the mask wouldn’t be able to do much for the lower half of her face and neck, which she was sure would turn just as crimson as her cheeks. “The mask isn’t what matters. I need your help with these.” Luci picked up the pouch, her movements as delicate as her fingers, and pulled open the draw strings. Then, she poured only a small fraction of the contents into her palm, and Leo’s eyes widened for perhaps the tenth time in the past few minutes. In her hand sat even more crystals, all a teardrop shape, with little clips on the end. “I’m assuming he wants me to put these on my wings, and I can’t do that myself...” It was clear what Luci was requesting, but her tone was just as sheepish as it always was.

Leo nodded, perhaps a bit too excitedly knowing they would be able to help, as they got to their feet. “I get what you mean! I just need to clip them to your wings, right?” They plucked one of the crystals from Luci’s hand and walked behind her. From there, they could see how the back of the dress worked, and they were utterly perplexed by the witchcraft at play keeping the garment secure. The entirety of Luci’s back was exposed, obviously due to her wings, with the covering only starting at the bottom of the small of her back.

The hesitation on Leo’s part only reinforced Luci’s embarrassment. She could feel the waves of heat in her face. “Eyes up here, Leo!”

“Sorry, sorry! You just look… Really really nice,” Leo shook their head, as if to break themselves from a haze, before returning to the task at hand. They took their free hand and pressed it to Luci’s wing, an action that made the short woman tense, but they were just searching for a nice long feather. After finding a suitable one, they clipped the crystal to the top of it, hoping that the “christmas tree” method of hanging them would work. And so far, it was going well, it looked secure. Leo even batted at it once to see if it would slip off, and it held fast. “Perfect! Alright, I know what I gotta do.”

Meanwhile, Luci had to fight to sit still. She wasn’t used to people poking around in her wings, so it was an odd feeling. It almost tickled, but mostly it just made her shiver. “Ok. I’ve got my hair mostly done, but I still need to do my make-up. Can we relocate in front of a mirror?” Luci glanced back at Leo as she asked, and an exuberant thumbs up from the taller hero was all the answer she needed. She shambled over to a vanity she had in her room, and she took care to tuck her dress under her as she sat on the stool. “Alright, attach away. We don’t have much time left.”

Luci really thought she could do it. At first, it wasn’t too bad. Leo started closer to the tips of her wings, where she was much less sensitive. But her nerves coupled with the tingling on her skin from Leo’s touch was making her hand shake. She was growing more and more frustrated by the second. They didn’t have time for this! She had to keep trying. She managed to get a layer of foundation, but now it came time to add the highlights, and she was struggling. And these were supposed to be the easy parts! How in the world would she do her eyeliner like this? “Fuck, I can’t do this!” She exclaimed suddenly, and it made Leo jump. Mostly because Luci so rarely cursed, they knew something was horribly wrong. But before they could even ask, Luci was explaining, “I-I can’t do my makeup, my hands keep shaking… Can you do it for me Leo? I know I’m asking so much of you..”

Leo walked around Luci so they could talk to her face to face. “Lulu, you’re not asking me for that much, and I would love to. Problem is… I am dreadful with makeup. You do not want me doing it. It would come out better if you did it during an earthquake.” As much as Leo possessed skill in many areas, makeup was not one of them. They had people who would do it for them for that reason.

The stress was starting to get to Luci; she was beginning to feel sick to her stomach. The tightness in her chest shifted up her throat, and a quiet sniff caught Leo’s attention. “I don't know what to do…” Her voice dropped to a whisper as she fought the urge to cry. It was all just so overwhelming.

“Oh, please don’t cry! We’ll figure this out, I swear. Let me just… Hmm… Oh! Let me make a call.” Leo dug into their pocket to pull out their phone. In seconds, they had a number dialed. They didn’t put it on speaker, but considering there were no other sounds in the room, Luci could hear the ringer going off. She wasn’t sure who her friend was calling, but she couldn’t help but grow tense as she waited. But eventually the recipient picked up. Leo’s chipper voice rang out first, “Hey cutie!”

A semi-familiar voice replied. “Hey Leo! I was just grabbing my suit from the cleaners, what’s up?”

“I need a favor. But first, I have a question.”

“Hit me!”

“Do you know how to do makeup?” Leo asked, and Luci’s brows furrowed. She realized who it was. That was Harold, Leo’s personal assistant. Why would they call him? Surely he doesn’t know how to-

“Of course I do! What kind of question is that?” Harold’s reply clearly stunned Luci, and she blinked a few times in surprise. “Do you need me to do your makeup for the party?”

“Not me. I need you to do Luci’s. She’s having trouble because she’s so nervous about performing.”

“Oh, sure! Luci… She’s Raphael right? The pretty blonde one?” Harold’s compliment made Luci blush.

“Yeah, I’ll send you the address! She’s not too far from my place,” Leo pulled the device away from their face to type in her address.

There was a pause, one that Luci assumed was Harold reading the address and punching it into a GPS. “That’s not far at all. I’ll be there in 10!”

“Thanks, you’re the best. I owe you one.”

Harold laughed. “I’ll add it to the list.”

With that, the call ended, and Leo returned their attention to Luci. “You get all that?” Leo asked, a pleased smile on their face. Luci could only nod. It was all so much, she was practically too stunned to speak. “Alright, I’m going to keep attaching these things, just sit tight and focus on keeping calm.”

The minutes that ticked by felt like hours. In that time, Luci had to come to grips with the fact that the second person to see her wear this dress would be Harold, and she worried over what his reaction would be. What if he thought it was too much and made fun of her? She chewed on her bottom lip as she watched the clock, twitching occasionally as Leo touched her wings. When her doorbell finally buzzed, Luci thought she was going to jump out of her skin. She went to stand, but Leo beat her to the door and let Harold in. He was dressed rather casually, but he held a hanger with a long cover on it. She assumed it was his suit and couldn’t help but feel bad. She was inconveniencing him, surely.

But if Harold felt inconvenienced in any way, he sure wasn’t showing it. There was a broad smile on his face, one that was so similar to the one on Leo, it was almost comical. However, the moment Harold’s eyes landed on Luci, his smile faded away and was replaced with something else: awe. “Oh my god, you look… Incredible,” He spoke in an almost hushed tone, accurately expressing his amazement.

Luci flushed and averted her gaze; she was already feeling the heat in her body that came with being the center of someone’s attention. “Th… Thanks..”

Leo thwacked Harold on the back of the head. “Now is not the time for ogling! We’re running out of time, let’s go,” They had already returned to their task by the time they finished speaking. They weren’t even halfway done yet, and they only really had an hour or so left.

“Alright, alright. So Luci, what kinda look are you going for?” He stepped closer, his eyes inspecting both her face and the wide variety of makeup sitting next to her.

“Ah… Nothing too crazy. I have some… some silver eyeshadow to go with the dress. Mostly just.. A subtle look, I suppose?” Luci has never needed to explain her makeup to someone else; she’s always done it for herself. So it was hard to not be vague.

“Ok, you got it!” But her vagueness did not dissuade Harold. He already knew what he needed to do. There was no hesitance as his fingers cupped Luci’s chin to tilt her head up further. “Just hold as still as you can.”

Luci did as she was told; it's not as if that was the first time she had been given a command like that before. It was a difficult task, but she did as best as she could. Any soft orders from Harold were compiled with immediately, things like, “close your eyes”, “tilt your head up more”, etc. Before anything else, Luci’s mother raised an obedient woman. And it's not as if she had the wherewithal right now to resist. Her mind was a whirlwind. Her heart had been racing for so long, she was already exhausted and the night hadn't even begun. At least now, she didn’t have to think too much about what was happening. Harold worked quickly, but perfection can’t be rushed. The minutes ticked by, and they were getting so close to their time limit. Finally, Harold took a step back to survey his work. “Almost done! All that’s left is your lipstick. What color were you going to go with? Red?” He asked, already reaching for the crimson red colored tube.

“Well, red seems like a lot, doesn’t it? I was thinking something a bit more subtle, a nude color-”

“I don’t know. The red would complete the look so well! Trust me on this,” His smile was just so genuine, it was hard for Luci to resist. After a short pause, she relented, giving him a nod in response. Skilled hands applied the gloss to her lips. It was a bright red, with a shine to it, and it popped in comparison to all of the silver she was wearing. “All done! And we’ve got just enough time to spare. I can drive you guys there if you want. Let me just get changed really quick.” Harold took his suit and disappeared into the nearby bathroom, leaving Luci and Leo alone.

“You really do look gorgeous, Lulu. Here, let me get your mask on.” Leo picked up the delicate, fancy accessory and fastened it to Luci’s face. Once that was done, it was clear Luci was on autopilot. She stepped into her heels and stood straight and tall instinctively. Even with the stilettos, she was several inches shorter than Leo. Leo paused. Luci could tell there was something on their mind, but she didn’t have the energy to ask them to spill. It's not like Leo would keep it to themselves anyways: being quiet wasn’t in their nature. “You should look at yourself in the mirror so you can see just how beautiful you are.”

“... No, I.. I don’t…” Luci was losing strength, and unbeknownst to the people in her apartment, she was spiraling. She was glad that Leo and Harold couldn’t hear the sound of her heart. She thought it was going to explode. While he had been doing her makeup, she didn’t even bother taking in her own appearance.

Leo pursed their lips. Without saying anything to her, they turned and marched to the other side of the room and into Luci’s walk-in closet. When they reappeared, they had a full length mirror in their hands. Before she could be embarrassed over Leo knowing about said mirror, they plopped it in front of her. “Look, Luci! If looks could kill… I would be dead on the floor right now,” Their words may have been a bit silly, but Leo said them with so much seriousness it only added to the ridiculousness.

Luci’s eyes drifted to the mirror, not lazily, more numb. But upon seeing herself, she was taken aback. With everything on her, she looked… Wow. She couldn’t help but turn, her gaze holding on the mirror. She shined and sparkled with every move, and Luci couldn’t help but feel like a little bit of a princess. However, something was bugging her. She knew what it was, but it was as if she couldn’t accept it. Luci paused, only to glance at her friend, who had such a big, soft smile on their face, she couldn’t help but feel braver, if only a little bit. There was no hesitation as she reached around the back of her head and untied the mask from her face. “I think… I think I look better without it,” She said, and for once, she didn’t look to someone else for their opinion. Now, with her blonde locks down and teased into wavy curls, her outfit was complete. She was as ready as she would ever be.

Harold emerged from the bathroom, smoothing down his rather sharp but classic black suit. When he lifted his head, he spotted Luci, and for the second time, he was stunned in place. For a few seconds, they were both frozen in place, blushes painting their cheeks. “Wow…”

“Alright you two, we’ve got 20 minutes, and the party is 15 minutes away. Get your asses in gear!” Leo, yet again, whacked Harold over the head. He nodded, silently making his way to the exit. Now, mostly alone, Luci went to grab her clutch, but Leo lingered. “Hey, I wasn’t joking earlier. Everything is going to go great, I promise. You’re going to kill it,” Their words were so sincere, Luci couldn’t help but believe them, even though it was so difficult.

“I hope so.”

The drive to the party wasn’t silent. Being silent around Leo was next to impossible. So, for the most part, Leo and Harold were talking back and forth, but Luci was too distracted to participate. As soon as they stepped into the venue, Luci was whisked away by the stagehands. She barely got to say goodbye to Leo before she disappeared, but they gave her two thumbs up and another smile, and that would have to be enough. While the mic was being attached to her ear, Luci had to remind herself to keep breathing. She recited the songlist over and over again. Even though she memorized it weeks ago, she found comfort in repeating it. Without even realizing how much time had passed, she was being pushed onto the stage as someone announced her name. This was it. All these preparations, all of that anxiety, all of it would amount to right now.

And Luci killed it. She walked, no, she strutted onto that stage, one foot after the other. She ignored the heat that exploded in her face as each step caused her dress to reveal the skin of her thighs. She ignored how much of her body was screaming to run away. She ignored the fact that her nervousness had now turned to nausea. Instead, Luci walked to the center, and she smiled, perfectly warm and radiant, no matter how fake it was. Her eyes scanned the crowd, and in it she spotted some familiar faces. Leo, Harold, and Aisling stood together, with Leo waving and using their free hand to force Aisling to wave with them. Bella was there, taking pictures for the social media pages. Clarence was off to the side, dressed as some waitstaff, but her powerful eyes found him nonetheless. Mikey was somewhere high up, keeping a close eye on everything. A familiar head of red hair belonged to Ada. Other than them, there must have been almost two hundred faces, many of them Luci recognized. And yet, there was one in particular that Luci was searching for. Even after surveying everybody, she couldn’t find the short, raven-haired woman who had been occupying much of her thoughts lately. A disappointment washed over her, but she couldn’t show it. No, she was in the spotlight now, shimmering and shining as much as her dress. Now, she couldn’t be anything less than perfect.

As time passed, people went about their party-going tasks: conversing with elites, tasting the fanciest of alcohol and hors d'oeuvres, putting up fronts and closing deals. Some still lingered by the stage, just to watch Luci sing. Xavier picked the majority of the songs, some older, jazzy classics, and Luci didn’t mind. Now that it had been some time, she could feel all of the links. Her hold had long since wrapped around the majority of the guests; even those resistant to her Siren Song would feel its effects due to the extended amount of exposure. She urged everyone to be calm, open, and relaxed, and it was working.

Luci’s mind was on autopilot. “When she walks she's like a samba that swings so cool and sways so gentle, that when she passes, each one she passes goes ooh…” She sang the Frank Sintra song, a few metered steps across the stage on beat accompanying her. Luci had always loved this one. It was so sad and tender, and she adored the lyrics. “But I watch her so sadly…” And now, reciting the lyrics, she couldn’t help but relate to them in a new way. “How can I tell her I love her?” That line came out a bit too strong. Luci saw more than half of the men in the room suddenly turn to look at her. Whoops… With a wave of her wrist, they all blinked, as if they had been snapped from a sort of trance. “Yes, I would give my heart gladly. But each day when she walks to the sea, she looks straight ahead not at me..”

It was all going well enough, but Luci noticed that, one by one, all of her friends were disappearing before her very eyes. Her eyebrows knit with concern before she shook that away. She couldn’t; she was on stage. Her expression returned to the listful, pleasant one she had earlier. If there was an emergency, her comms would go off. She had to assume that everything was alright. But at that moment, Luci couldn’t help but feel utterly alone. Her friends were all gone, her mother hadn’t even shown up… And she was trapped. There were more than a hundred people in this room, and she was lonely. She was lonely and stuck, forced there by responsibility and social expectations. And still, she smiled, and sang, “Tall and tan and young and lovely. The girl from Ipanema goes walking…”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Morgana Ishida Character Portrait: Emeris Mikaelson Character Portrait: Leo Lambert Character Portrait: Clarence Lawless Character Portrait: Mikey Santo Character Portrait: Lucille Simon Character Portrait: Cameron Jensen Character Portrait: Bella Clayton Character Portrait: Ada Forrest Character Portrait: Kit Cassidy Character Portrait: Kieran Gallagher Character Portrait: Bastien Delacourt
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bella clayton.
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outfit. sentinel. #772222.
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xxx the sun's starting to light up
xxx when we're walking home
xxx tired little laugh, gold lie promises
xxx we'll always win at this

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Mikey didn’t exactly tell them to go back to their stations, but Bella presumed that’s what they were supposed to do. So she made her way back down to the party, marvelling as she found herself still able to tap into the other’s thoughts over the increased distance. Mikey’s were still a little slow and groggy after the fight. Leo was… well, Bella had learned the hard way before not to try and listen to Leo’s thoughts for too long. And then there was Kit, being as brilliant as ever. His invention really was great. When Mikey spoke over her comms to ask the heroes to get back in position, Bella decided to try out the device a little more. Instead of speaking aloud, she telepathically replied, “You got it, boss!”

She meant to ask if it had worked, even though she had complete faith that it would have done. And then she got to the main party, and the noise there wiped out all of her own thoughts. She could hear everybody. Not just the heroes wearing the matching earpieces. Everybody. And the noise was… overwhelming. Immediately, Bella felt like she was going to throw up. She couldn’t abandon the mission though. She had to persevere. It would get easier once she got used to it, she told herself. She tried and failed to force a smile onto her face, and instead settled for just not looking like she was about to throw up and then pass out. Pain was beginning to seep into her temples, but she just snagged a glass of water from a passing waiter and downed it in the hope that might help.

It didn’t help. She found herself drifting aimlessly around the room, trying to find a spot that was less loud than others. She found herself too close to the stage at one point; the worst mistake she’d made so far that night. Luci’s thoughts were as clear as Kit’s had been. One name kept cropping up, along with a face that Luci was looking for, and neither belonged to Bella. The pain in her head threatened to seep into her chest, and so she made a beeline for the far side of the room. She wanted to leave, but wouldn’t. She wouldn’t let her team down. If more bad guys showed up and she wasn’t there to help, she’d never forgive herself. She hadn’t been able to help Page, she wouldn’t let herself be unable to help everyone else.

She tucked herself into a quiet corner, somewhere where things weren’t quite as loud, and glanced at her phone. It was going to be a long night, she knew it already.




kieran gallagher.
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outfit. mask charon. #757576.
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xxx the sun's starting to light up
xxx when we're walking home
xxx tired little laugh, gold lie promises
xxx we'll always win at this

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Hearing Cameron’s voice over the comms was a welcome sound. His comment about Kieran’s hair looking good just made him smile. “I would like to add for the record that I would bet my apartment on the fact that Variant is also looking damn fine today,” he replied. But before anyone else could berate them for using their comms to flirt, black-clad figures filled the room below them. Kieran swore, ducking behind the statue he was hiding behind as gunshots broke out. Chills ran down his spine as the stench of death filled the air. Why couldn’t he have just been assigned to the other party?

“Hey! Sir Percival!” He hissed.
“Young knight!”
“You wanna go slay some witches?” He asked. The ghost’s face positively lit up with delight. “Go slay some witches!” The ghost solidified into something resembling a human, a sword like the one in the case beside Kieran appearing in his hands. Sir Percival raised the sword and leaped from the balcony, running one of the black-clad figures through. He apparently did not consider Kieran himself a witch then, something that Kieran had taken a gamble on. None of his ghosts had tried to kill him yet, but he felt like it was a matter of time. He shot one more glance at the sword in the case beside him, decided it wasn’t worth a complaint from museum security, and instead just drew his knife. He glanced over the balcony and at the scene below, briefly considered his options, and decided to take the stairs. He, regretfully, wasn’t as indestructible as Ris or Bash.

He made a sprint for the side stairs, digging down deep as he did so. Ghosts were the better option here, he figured. But before he could actually summon any of them, he needed to get to safety. Somewhere nearby, but with good cover. But as he got to the bottom of the stairs, he was met with a barrel of a gun, aimed squarely at his chest. But something solid, fast, and familiar collided with Kieran and dragged him out of harm’s way as the bullet shattered the air where Kieran had been moments ago. Maelstrom dropped Kieran behind a pillar, looked him up and down, nodded to make sure he was okay, then dashed off again. Kieran exhaled, his back pressed against the pillar he was hiding behind. He wasn’t of use in a situation like this; why the hell did Aegis keep sending him into them? They kept sending him into gunfights with nothing more than a knife and his abilities. He wasn’t even sure there was bulletproof protection built into his suit. Not to mention, being in an active fight made him feel like he was about to die himself, with the amount of death reeking around the place, no thanks to Ris and Bash. He had to do something. He dug deep and felt all of the ghosts in the building. They were restless. They wanted to help. Good. It would make this easier.

“I’m about to summon a shit ton of ghosts to come help you guys out, but I’m going to need some cover,” He said into his comms. Summoning this many ghosts would leave him vulnerable for far too long, and he didn’t trust this pillar to shelter him that long. “See you all on the other side.” He closed his eyes, and pulled every ghost he could reach into the material world. There was a second where he thought it hadn’t worked; and then the visions came crashing in, lives and deaths and everything in between. The crash was so significant that he could vaguely feel his legs buckle and his back collide with the pillar, but he wasn’t able to stop it. He just had to ride it out and hope that the ghosts were at least helpful.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Morgana Ishida Character Portrait: Leo Lambert Character Portrait: Lucille Simon Character Portrait: Bella Clayton Character Portrait: Kit Cassidy
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luci simon.
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outfit. raphael. #8C2FF7.
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bella clayton.
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outfit. sentinel. #772222.
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Singing for so long is exhausting in its own right, but it's a specific type of exhaustion. Sure, Luci was tired from standing and pacing and waving and spinning, but even with the occasional time to down some water, her throat and chest were getting tired. And having to use her abilities at the same time for such an extended period? She was glad that she was given a couple of 30 minute breaks for the night. One was approaching, thankfully, she just had one more song. Xavier’s song choice was decent, but a part of the deal was letting Luci pick a handful herself. Admittedly, she may have had a grouchy little witch on her mind when choosing several of them, including this one. And, at the moment, that same grouchy little witch remained in her thoughts as she sang it, “Love is all that I can give to youuu. Love is more than just a game for twooo.” It likely wasn’t a healthy habit, but distracting herself and getting lost in her thoughts was a common practice when Luci is on stage. It helped keep her calm, although distracting herself by recalling the feeling of soft, sweet lips against her own and even softer, sweeter words from one of the softest, sweetest women she’d ever met… It may be a little too distracting.

All of the audience blurred into a blob, only sudden movements returned her eyes to focus, but for the most part, Luci was in her own world, singing, standing, pacing, waving, and spinning for dozens of party guests. It was as if she was on autopilot, but nobody would be able to tell. Her grace and poise was flowing, natural. “Two in love can make it, take my heart and please don't break it! Love was made for me and youuu,” As if on cue, once Luci had hit that note, a bit of movement caught her attention. A face, one that she had spent years trying to avoid, for nothing short of a dozen painful reasons, appeared, clear as day, right next to the stage. Luci’s eyes darted between Bella and the crowd, and the blonde paled just a touch. Her smile became more forced, but her voice continued to flow like it always did; she had an image to uphold, a show to continue. “L is for the way you look at meee! O is for the only one I seeee!” She had to. The show must go on, she couldn’t ruin her public image, even as the pleasant thoughts of Morgana morphed and mutated into something else, something agonizing and guilt-ridden, something that reminded her of greedy, unyielding hands leaving marks across her body.

Bella disappeared back into the crowd and headed away from the stage, but her absence didn’t remove the thoughts from Luci’s head, nor did it sate the worry that bubbled to the surface when she saw the look on Bella’s face. She appeared ill and distressed in a physical way, not likely something that could have been caused just by seeing Luci, no matter how difficult that was. Once the last few lines of the song had been sung, Luci gave the crowd a polite wave and stepped off stage. Now out of the watchful eye of the public, Luci released a deep breath from her chest, and a frown turned the corners of her lips downward. She didn’t want to think about it, about how horribly she had treated Bella and how she didn’t deserve Bella’s forgiveness. Luci didn’t want to remember the brutality of the violation she endured, the smell of his breath, the roughness of his fingers around her throat, the feeling of vileness and disgust she had with herself that she still hasn’t been able to completely shake. But the moment one tries not to think about something on purpose, they can’t help but continue to think about it. Especially when all Luci could picture was Bella’s facial expression, troubled and strained, just before she disappeared back into the crowd. No matter how awful Luci felt, she couldn’t ignore somebody in need. So she grabbed a water bottle, glanced at the clock, and stepped out from backstage and into the crowd herself.

It took a couple minutes for Luci to figure out where Bella went, mostly because damn near every step she took, she was interrupted by a partygoer wanting to compliment her singing. Thankfully, she could accept their praise quickly and shuffle away from the conversations without being rude; something she’d practiced over many years of avoidance. But eventually, Luci turned a corner, not too far from the main hall, and found Bella, appearing just as troubled as she had been earlier. Luci thought Bella looked gorgeous in that dress, but the thought was fast, fading away again to be overpowered by those other thoughts, the self-hatred and the pain that she saw every time she took in Bella’s appearance. For Luci, Bella was tied to that night, that horrible night, and it was another reason why Luci avoided her. But she couldn’t avoid her now; Bella needed help. “Bella…?”Luci spoke softly as she approached, but the clicking of her stiletto heels gave her away first. She felt so silly, talking in this borderline gaudy dress, covered in sparkles, but she didn’t have much of a choice. “Are you alright? You don’t l-look so good.” She drew nearer until she was only a foot or two away. Bella seemed like she might keel over; Luci wanted to be close enough to catch her if she needed to. However, it was clear that Luci was struggling to maintain eye contact with Bella, more so than usual, given how her eyes darted up and down between the floor and Bella’s face. It was difficult not to flinch or tense up every time she looked at Bella. Every time, Bella’s face was overshadowed by another, one with a toothy grin and scratchy stubble and alcohol on his breath. “I.. I brought you some water,” She held the bottle out for Bella, and Luci’s hand was shaking visibly. There was so much she wanted to say, so much she was too scared to say, but now didn’t feel right. And it was difficult, so, so difficult.

Even now, as far away as she could physically get from the crowd, the noise was overwhelming. By now, the thought that taking the headband off might help was long gone. Bella could hardly think at all. Her head felt like it was about to burst as it was, leaving no room for her own thoughts. Her skull surely had to be about to crack open and let the thoughts fly back to their original owners instead of rattling around her head. Or maybe she would vomit them out instead. Her vision was fine one second and blurry the next, and then fine again, adding to the awfulness of the whole situation. She wasn’t sure that she would be able to focus on her phone for long enough to text somebody for help. She thought that it might be worth a try, and then remembered her phone was in her bag, abandoned somewhere on a table in the crowd. Nope, that wasn’t happening.

The thoughts of the person approaching her hit her before the actual reality of their presence did. Images of violence, a man’s face, the stench of cheap alcohol trying to be expensive… they were images that were hard for her to hear, even before she heard the voice that accompanied them.

Luci. Bella had to fight back a groan. Of all people, it had to be Luci. Bella had spent a not insignificant portion of the past two years attempting to move on from, or at least ignore, all of the hurt and pain from that fateful evening. She wasn’t so sure she’d be capable of that right then. She accepted the bottle of water but didn’t open it, just instead stared down at it and her hands. She’d barely even heard Luci’s question, and it took her a few seconds to even begin to process an answer. She opened her mouth to say, ‘I’m fine’, but it seemed like the noise and the thoughts and everything else spiked, overwhelming her system entirely. And so instead of a lie, something like a sob escaped through her mouth. She clamped her hand over her mouth, but it was too late. The violence flashing through her mind now was the final straw. Why had it only started when Luci had come over to her? She was in a room with plenty of heroes; they’d all seen awful things, why was this sticking out so much now? And why did it affect her more than anything else? Everything was too much. Her fist pressed to her mouth, she wasn’t even sure if she was making any noise any more. She took a deep, shuddering gasp as she tried and failed to compose herself. “I’m sorry,” she forced out.

Luci’s heart was already throbbing in her chest the moment she spotted Bella, but seeing her like this? Once that choked sob squeezed out of Bella’s throat, Luci thought she was going to cry herself. She wanted to dart forward, hug Bella, hold her close, cry with her, and maybe try to explain why she had done what she did that day. But Luci was not bold, she wasn’t confident like many of her friends, and in that moment, she thought she was pathetic, useless. Did Luci make things worse by approaching Bella? She just wanted to help, but she felt like she was doing the opposite. Bella didn’t even try to drink the water, she seemed too pained to even try. And all the while, Luci was fighting her mind tooth and nail, trying to continue to suppress the memories she’d been suppressing for nearly two years, but it was a losing battle.

Once Luci heard Bella’s apology, her chest tightened. Bella wasn’t the one who should be apologizing, but Luci still didn’t think it was the right time. Not now, when Bella was already falling apart. What can I do? She wanted to ask, but she had a feeling Bella wouldn’t have been able to form a coherent answer in this state. Luci had to find a way to try and calm her down, ease some of that tension, and she only knew one way how. It’s the only thing you’re good for. Luci swallowed, and her eyes lifted to stare forward. She reached deep into her mind and her heart, and one specific song traveled to the tip of her tongue. Perhaps an odd choice to many, but Luci’s mother used to sing it to her. And after everything that happened, the lyrics took on a new meaning for Luci. “Well I've heard there was a sacred chord, David played and it pleased the Lord.” Singing was one of the only times when Luci feels moderately self-assured, so she managed to maintain eye contact as she did it. “But you don't really care for music, do you?” It was as if Luci was speaking to Bella directly, and as the sweet, soft notes danced towards the brunette, Luci even smiled just as sweetly and softly. “Well it goes like this: The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift. The baffled king composing Hallelujah.”

If Luci could just establish a strong enough link, she could help urge Bella’s mind and body to relax. Bella was always someone that Luci had a hard time establishing a link with, so she knew she would need to pull out every trick in the book. The first verse wasn’t enough, neither were the soft Hallelujahs that followed. She needed more, but she was dreading singing the next part, and she cursed her mind for only being able to think of this song out of the millions of others. “Well your faith was strong but you needed proof. You saw her bathing on the roof. Her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you.” It was impossible not to think of Bella as she sang, how beautiful she had looked on that sunny weekend where they spent hours laughing and having fun. The link was still too weak; Luci needed more. Tentatively at first, Luci reached for Bella’s clenched fist; she forced her own trembling fingers to still. She didn’t have time to be nervous. Bella was suffering. Making a physical connection was the easiest way to help establish a link faster. Luci unfurled Bella’s fist, cradling her hand between her own.

However, her throat tightened as she sang the next lyrics. “And he tied you to your kitchen chair. He broke your throne, he cut your hair, and from your lips he drew the Hallelujah…” It happened again, those tender, joyful memories rotted, and they were replaced with flashes of rough, demanding hands and a vicious, hungry mouth that covered her body in marks that took weeks to heal. But it was working, the link had formed well enough, and Luci mentally urged Bella’s mind and body: Relax. Breathe. You will be alright. Relax. Breathe. But the toll on Luci was obvious, her shoulders quaked slightly, and she swallowed again to try and keep herself from crying. She hadn’t thought about these things in so long. Of course she’d sometimes still have nightmares, and she would talk to her therapist about it on occasion, but it had been months since she’d seen these memories so vividly.

At some point, Luci and Bella had discovered that Luci’s abilities didn’t work as easily or as well on Bella as it did on most other people. Apparently the lack of sexual attraction was something of a barrier; a fact that Bella had always found ironic considering the feelings she’d hidden for Luci for so long. But the fact that the magic didn’t work on Bella didn’t stop Luci’s voice from being automatically soothing to her. Her voice was so soft and clear and sad, but it was what Bella needed. Instinctively, she closed her eyes. The feeling of Luci’s hands around hers made her tense a little at first, before she relaxed again.

When the abilities finally began to kick in, the noise became a little less noisy and a little less overwhelming. Bella’s own emotions calmed somewhat. It was then that she became aware of a few things. There were the words that Luci was singing; soft and clear and with a touch of power that hadn’t been there seconds before. And the thoughts that came with them- of Bella herself, two years younger, two years more innocent, in a light that Bella had seldom seen herself. Those thoughts, those images of Bella… they didn’t fit with the way that Bella had presumed Luci felt about her.

And then came those images of violence. But now, with the link between them a little clearer, Bella’s head a touch quieter and most importantly calmer, Bella was able to make a bit more sense of them. Even still, it took her a few moments to piece the whole thing together. When she realised what she was seeing, her whole body went cold; but not from being overwhelmed or unwell, but from the awful horror of what Luci had experienced. She didn’t even fully think about what she did next. She threw her arms around Luci, pulling her into the tightest hug she could manage. “You didn’t deserve that,” was all she could manage to say. She couldn’t verbalise her thoughts any further than that, so she just repeated it. “You didn’t deserve that awful thing.”

Luci watched as some of the tension melted off of Bella’s shoulders, and relief flooded her system. Being able to see even a little bit of the pain fade away was exactly what Luci wanted. Once Bella had relaxed, Luci almost excused herself. She wanted to offer leaving, getting someone who would actually be able to help Bella. However, before she could, Bella lurched forward and wrapped her arms around Luci in a tight, firm hug. Luci froze, her whole body taut for a few seconds as she listened to what Bella said. Could this really be happening? Luci thought Bella hated her, and Bella had every right to after what Luci had done. She had been so foolish, selfish; she only thought about herself, her own feelings that day as she ran away from them and from Bella. And then she left Bella in the dark for nearly two years. Luci didn’t think she deserved this. She didn’t deserve a hug, she didn’t deserve those kind words, and yet she was given them anyway.

It was sudden; the tension leaving Luci’s body too. She nearly collapsed into Bella, and in an instant, tears were flowing from her eyes. After nearly two years, this is exactly what she’d dream of: a chance to reconnect with Bella, to explain herself. And even if all of that wasn’t happening at this exact moment, Luci knew in her heart that this was the first step in the right direction. She relented and wrapped her arms around Bella too, buried her face in her shoulder, and she cried. Covered from head to toe in sparkles, with far too much make-up on her face, she cried, not caring that it would start running or how a woman should never make a mess of herself at an event like this. She cried and she cried, all of those pent up emotions finally escaping through her tears, and she trembled against Bella as she did. “I’m sorry…” Luci managed to squeeze out between sobs. “I’m so, so sorry… Bella…” She hadn’t said Bella’s name in so long, it sounded almost strange in her voice. “I’m sorry you.. you h-had to see that, those things.” Luci knew Bella likely saw what she had been thinking about, all those horrific images. “I… I have so much I-I want to.. To explain, to apologize for, but now…” Luci pulled back from the hug, and she hurriedly wiped at her running mascara as she sniffled. “Now isn’t.. Isn’t the best time, really,” She almost laughed at the end.

Perhaps it was a bold move, but Luci was running out of time. She had to be back on stage soon, and she now needed to factor in time to fix her make-up and try to find someone that could really help Bella. “I… I w-want… Could we maybe… get together and talk, sometime?” Luci asked, though her eyes remained rooted to the floor. She expected rejection, so she moved past it quickly.

Bella had just about managed to stop crying. And then Luci pressed her face to her neck and began to do so, and Bella began to cry all over again. She cried over the things that had happened and the things that hadn’t, over the pounding headache she still had, the grief that had made a permanent home in her chest, over the swirling noise that still deafened most of her own thoughts. And in some strange way, it was what she needed right then. She just clung to Luci and let Luci cling to her, and they both sobbed.

Luci’s words felt like the first steps towards bridging the chasm that had grown between them in the past few years. Bella just listened, shaking her head as Luci apologised for the images she had seen. It hadn’t been pleasant for Bella to see them, but it must have been so much worse for Luci to live them, and so she didn’t think an apology was needed. When Luci pulled back, Bella let her, wiping her own cheeks with the back of her hand.

When Luci asked if they could find time to actually talk, Bella nodded without even really having to think about it. “Yeah, that sounds good,” she said, her voice still trembling somewhat. “Sometime when we’re both not…” she gestured between the two of them and laughed a little. “I still feel like I might throw up so definitely not right now, but… sometime soon?” She offered. Instinctively, she went to check her phone to see when she was free, then remembered it was buried in the throng of people, somewhere she still couldn’t bring herself to go back to. “My phone is… in there somewhere…” she said, still unable to even really remember where as she stared blankly at the crowd. “I also need to find Kit. He made me this,” she said, gesturing at the headband. “It’s really cool and is a really cool idea, but… it works too well and I have a killer migraine and… feel a little like I might pass out. I bet he can fix it though, he made it himself. It’s really cool, right?” She rambled.

It was as if a weight had been lifted off of Luci. The horrific images faded from her mind, and a pleasant warmth took their place. It was still overwhelming with all of these repressed emotions coming to a head, and a part of her couldn’t believe what was happening. She certainly didn’t think she deserved it, but she was glad nonetheless. She laughed at Bella’s response, a genuine, pleased laugh. “Yes, some other time, when we are both more able. Soon sounds good to me.” She was proud of how well she managed to get through that sentence without stuttering. Truly, once she is more comfortable, speaking comes easier.

Once Bella started to talk about Kit, the warmth in Luci’s chest spread even further. The soft smile on her face was almost relieved; she was glad that Bella was able to find happiness with someone else, just as Luci had. “It is rather cool, I agree. He’s always been… been good at that, making cool stuff,” Luci agreed with a nod. “Would you like me to find your phone, or… or someone to find Kit? I would go searching for him myself but I’ve got…” She glanced around, leaning to peer into the hall and take in a clock. “Blast… 10 minutes, and I’ve got to fix m-my… I’m sorry. Would that be ok? Leo always sticks out like a mountain, I’m sure I could find them quickly.” Luci’s eyes were apologetic again. She had to be back on stage soon, and she was worried she would run out of time. Those nerves were returning, and her heart was starting to pound.

At the mention of Leo, Bella’s first instinct was to ask Luci to go get them. They were such a ray of positivity that it felt like they could have been exactly the person she needed right then. And then she remembered the few times she’d had to tap into their thoughts during training or a mission and just how loud and overwhelming they could be on a good day. “Um… if you can find my phone for me, I think I should be able to manage to text Kit to come find me,” she said. “If you can’t find it though, don’t worry, I’ll be okay. You’ve got to get back on stage and stay wowing the audience with your gorgeous voice, you hear me?” As the words left Bella’s mouth, she realised exactly what she had said, colour rushing to her cheeks. She’d said it without thinking, and had meant it as nothing more than a friend, but she didn’t know if Luci knew she meant it that way. “It’s a shame Morgana isn’t here to hear it,” she added softly. It was an impulse response, really, the only way she could think of letting Luci know that she didn’t mind, not really. Mentioning anything that she’d heard in someone’s thoughts was always uncomfortable for her, especially something as personal as this. But given what she’d already seen, perhaps this wasn’t such a violation of privacy. She just managed a soft, somewhat awkward smile and hoped that Luci knew she had meant it in nothing but kindness.

As Luci was given her little task from Bella, she nodded, perhaps a bit too excitedly. She was glad she could just be helpful. However, Bella continued, and she complimented Luci’s singing. There was an explosion of warmth in Luci’s face, and a flood of color accompanied it. Her eyes immediately dropped to the ground, a sheepish action, one she could not resist due to the fuzziness in her chest. After nearly two years, Luci expected Bella to hate her and her voice. Hearing her compliment her and it instead brought a sense of relief that Luci didn’t even know she needed. The inclusion of Morgana shifted her feelings away from relief into something more akin to embarrassment; this meant Bella had seen Morgana in Luci’s head when she was singing those love songs. The blush on her cheeks shifted up to the tips of Luci’s ears, and the mere mention of the witch reminded Luci of the softness of her lips, the playful verbal teasing that always left her stumbling and stuttering, and the softness of smooth, silky black hair between her fingers. “Y-yes, it r-really is a shame.” Although Luci was embarrassed, there was a new tenderness in both her voice and her eyes as they drifted away in thought, denoting just how much she felt for Morgana. “P-perhaps she and some others will show up later. I wonder what she would… think of this… this gaudy dress,” She added the last bit with a laugh and a shake of her head, and that helped remind her of her task at hand: helping Bella. “I’ll find your phone, don’t worry. Be back in a jiff.”

After one more nod, Luci walked back into the main hall. As soon as she entered, she spotted a familiar face, one that was nearly a foot taller than her. “Hey Luce!” Leo approached Luci quickly, but they paused once she saw the state of her runny make-up. “Oh no, did something happen? Are you ok?” Leo asked her, a deep layer of concern furrowing their brows.

“I’m fine, Leo, I promise. It was… It was a good cry, one that I needed.” She smiled up at Leo, a full, genuine smile, and it made Leo relax a touch. “But I will also need help fixing my make-up. Can you find Harold for me and meet me backstage in five minutes? I’m running out of time, my break is almost over.”

“Yes, you got it!” Leo jumped to action in an instant, disappearing into the crowd to go search for their friend.

With a shaky breath, Luci searched for Bella’s phone. The hall wasn’t too large luckily, and her sharp eyes scanned between the many moving bodies. Any conversationalists this time were promptly and politely declined, and with a couple minutes to spare, Luci spotted a clutch that looked similar to Bella’s dress. She saw a phone on top of it, one in a case covered in familiar stickers. The last time Luci had seen them was years ago, and they were much more faded and worn than before. There was a tug in Luci’s chest, but she squashed it quickly. Things would be better now. She picked up the clutch and the phone and darted back over to Bella. She wished she could be moving faster, but any longer strides meant more of her legs would be revealed due to those dangerously high slits in the fabric.

“Here,” Luci said as soon as she turned the corner. She held out the phone and the small purse, and her eyes darted up to take in Bella’s face again. This time, what she felt wasn’t guilt or sadness. Although small shreds of those emotions remained, Luci was close to content. “Are you sure you’re going to be alright?” She asked one more time, and her tone was just as sincere as she continued, “I could stay with you for a little while longer or try and find Kit for you. The singing can wait if it must. It’s not more important than your health.”

Bella’s first instinct was to compliment Luci’s dress and to say it wasn’t gaudy at all. But before she could, Luci had dashed off in search of Bella’s phone. Her calming presence gone, the noise began to creep back in, Bella beginning to realise that her headache hadn’t disappeared at all; rather she just hadn’t been paying attention to it for a bit. Hopefully Kit would be able to fix the headband to make it less loud.

When she spotted Luci weaving her way back over to her, she exhaled a little with relief. She managed a grateful smile as Luci handed the bag and the phone to her. There were messages on her phone, but they weren’t important now. She shook her head as Luci offered to stay with her. “No, I’ll be fine. Really. Go do your thing and blow the crowd away, okay?” She said, smiling at Luci. She managed to unlock her phone and open up her texts, scrolling until she found Kit. The message she sent was brief, but she hoped he’d get the point.

To: kit
SOS, gadget not working right

“I’ve texted him, he’s on his way now,” Bella said, looking back up at Luci. “So seriously, go do your thing. I’ll be listening.”

A part of Luci wished Bella had asked her today. This had been going so well, and she was remembering that, otherwise, she was going to be cemented on stage again. On stage, away from her friends, and under the watchful eye of every single person in the hall. But somebody had to be up there, entertaining everybody. Luci was locked into that role, whether she liked it or not. Bella’s soft encouragement was helpful, and Luci couldn’t stop the sheepish smile that creased her lips. Her hands fiddled with some of the crystals on her dress as she tried to figure out what to say. There was so much she had to say, so much she wanted to say, but they didn’t have the time. Luci wasn’t like Leo or any of her other friends; she couldn’t say “Damn your rules” like so many of them did. She was a good girl who did as she was told, even if it left a sour taste in her mouth. “Thank you, Bella… Thank you, f-for… everything. I’ll sing the next one for you.” She gave Bella one last bow of her head and took a few steps towards the exit. Although, she paused just to say, “I.. I hope you feel better soon. And… that dress looks lovely on you.” Admittedly, the last bit may have come out rather quick, and Luci practically ran away after it, but she had gathered the courage to say it nonetheless.

Now it was a race against time. She darted backstage only to see Leo and a rather fretful looking Harold standing beside them. “Hey Luce! I found him for you.”

“Thank you, Leo. Good job,” Luci praised, but it was clear her nerves were starting to return in full force. Leo didn’t mind though; even praise as minor as that warmed their skin.

Luci turned to Harold, who was holding a pretty basic kit for make-up. “One of the assistants had some make-up in her purse. It’s not much, and it’s not nearly as good as the stuff you had at home-”

It was clear Harold was prepared to ramble on, but Luci didn’t have time for this. “It’s fine, Harold! Thank you for all the help, but… Less talk, more applying.” She grimaced as soon as she had said it, immediately feeling bad. “Ah, s-sorry, that was kinda-”

Harold blinked a few times, a redness dusting his cheeks. “Yes ma’am,” was all he said, with a hint of teasing in his tone. A teasing that caused Luci’s own face to flush, but she tilted it up towards Harold regardless.

With less than 60 seconds to spare, Luci made her way back on stage. Her reappearance was greeted with a polite applause, but she hadn’t noticed. Her eyes were set to scanning the crowd again, searching for faces she would never be able to find. Her mother still hadn’t shown up, and a certain short, goth, raven-haired witch hadn’t either. So she smiled, waved to the crowd, and started singing her next song: a Dean Martin classic. “You're nobody 'til somebody loves youuu…” She finished the line with a sweep of her arm, and her wing copied the movement. Every crystal attached to her sparked and shined. “You're nobody 'til somebody cares…”