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Rem Bates

"Its a good night when I getta settle down with a whiskey and a lil' Honey."

0 · 1,078 views · located in Gretna, Louisiana, 1922

a character in “Vice & Bloodlines”, as played by CharlotteV

Description

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name: REMINGTON BATES

origin: GRETNA, LOUISIANA

present digs: GRETNA, LOUISIANA

years: TWENTY THREE -- APRIL 5TH, 1899

accolades: HARLOW BATES -- HONEY
NOLA MAE BATES -- BABY GIRL
NOEL BATES -- BIG BROTHER
ROUX BATES -- LITTLE BROTHER
THE WEST MISSISSIPPI HONEY STOP
OLD DOG NAMED RUGER

catharsis: LIVIN' GETS ROUGH SOMETIMES, BUT IT'S STILL BETTER THAN NOT

demeanor: DON'T MEAN NO HARM BUT WON'T THINK TWICE

word about town: FLIRTIEST THING AROUND
MARRIED HIMSELF THAT GOOD GIRL
HEART OF GOLD
WHAT'S THE LAW GOTTA DO WITH A BATES, ANYHOW?

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Them Bates boys ain't never been nohtin' but trouble since the day they was each born. Good or bad dependin' just how you sit with that family of their's. They ain't bad seeds, that's the truth. Them good people. Watch their back, they'll watch yours.

Remy done always been the middle man. Born that way, raised that way, work that way. Never seemed to mind much. Got a good head on his shoulders, that one. Talks about a mile a minute and smiles so bright he might just split his face open one day. Good at mediatin', so they say.

Rough as any other kid back in the day. Jumpin' off roofs just to prove he could. Climbin' over barbed wire fences. Fallin' down too often. Gotta scar or two that still makes his mama's head spin. That boy was wearin' holes in the knees of his jeans even when he was too young to be tryn' so hard to keep up with his big brother.

Wouldn't catch him startin' any fights in the school yard but he mighta been finishin' em. Rem never quite liked them bullies, said he didn't have the time for no hissy fits. Clenched his teeth, called em 'pussies', squared up and took em out.

Was learnin' how to outrun the the local sheriff before he even knew how to spell that first name of his. Wasn't nobody round these parts surprised though. Could count on them boys to get anythin' done so long as you could trade em a couple of peaches or so to take on home.


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Everybody with eyes can see them Bates boys grow up nice. Got them those good genes or some shit. One of them was 'bound to take notice, figured it'd be Rem. Heart a gold with heavy fists? Them young girls all thought they'd be the one to get up under his skin, be the thing he couldn't quit.

Word is they all knew what they were gettin' into. Remington Bates ain't no liar, spread his cards out right there on the table. Didn't stop blonde curled darlin's from cryiin' they eyes out when he didn't remember their names come mornin'. Yeah, that Southern Boy's sheets seen some things.

Daddies round town can't quiet stand to see 'im. Shotguns weren't stoppin their little girl's hearts from beatin' too fast at the sight ofa crooked smile behind cigar smoke though. He got his fingers in the best of them, from loose Missy down on Lane to the Preacher's girl.

Didn't nobody expect it to be Harlow Snow he hung his hat up for, definitely not so damn young. Wasn't that she wasn't pretty enough or nothin', just that she came from one side of the river and he came from another. Bad idea tryna tell Rem Bates what he can and can't have though. Oh, he woulda took a solid no from her, sure, but he wasn't listenin' to anybody else.

Theory is she was just too much of a challenge for Remy to pass up. Quick an' sharp an' too damn good to fall for his winks and rugged charm. She had that kinda face he couldn't walk away from, and he had that laughter in his soul that pulled her in no matter how hard she tried to stay away. Became the talk of the town in a quick minute. Wasn't nobody ignorin' the fact that Rem's eyes hadn't strayed from her in a couple of months. Greatest thing they'd seen in ages, and they all needed a lil' somethin' good.

Best believe he married that girl. Calls himself lucky every damn day. His gaze still goes a little honeydewed every time it falls on her. Yeah, boy's got that good love.

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The Bates never had it real bad off, but tyin' a name like Snow in put Harlow and Rem higher up. They had a real easy goin' that first year, had each other, had a beautiful baby girl, had very few worries even as the town went dark and the law made life h a r d.

Wasn't never much a fight in the Bates home, them two just seemed to love each other too much. Spats were traded with mischievous eyes and smirks that were too damn difficult to hold down. Completely taken with each other, didn't have it in 'em to be angry 'bout anythin'.

The mama's after church us'ta say ol' Mister Snow wasn't too happy when his little girl grabbed herself a Bates, but he came 'round in time. No surprise there, really. Hard workin' folks, them Bates. Built that Honey Stop all on their own. Had them a good thing goin'.

Nothin' stayed good in Gretna for long though. Wasn't their fault, they did all they could. People just got too damn broke to keep comin' 'bout.

Funny how somethin' simple as a dry county could turn the world on end. Bled everyone on dry. Ran the crops off then down. Seems like ain't nobody got a bounce in their step no more. Even them rich folks tryina find their footin'. Still finda smile on Remy Bates face though. Even if his fists are clenched at his sides. He's waitin' for trouble, that one.

And doin' his best to help out if it don't come lookin' for him or his.

Them good people.

So begins...

Rem Bates's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: June Reilly-Snow Character Portrait: Sophia Moon Character Portrait: Noel Bates Character Portrait: ANNA LEIGH DECLAN Character Portrait: Bailey Johnson
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Harlow Brynn Bates

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Armistice of night, copious and quiet, crept on to Gretna at the tail end of February like an old friend. The only thing known to a Louisiana humanity to be chthonic, kept and kind within the law. Peace was never made these days, only dreamt of in soft hums on the dry tongues of men behind bars. Those who’d come to their epiphanies after anger had run its long course. Most folks took to the night for their reconciliations. Rocking on a sapped porch with empty tin buckets. But often… This seed sowed from greed and the feeling of being thieved upon was intractable. Ain’t no amount of days, weeks, or months in a concrete box bound to fix up what the prohibition set into the minds of many, many men. Even freedom itself could not soothe the stab and sting of Louisiana’s bread and butter. Or lack thereof.

Families sewed up their loose ends best way they knew how, most of ‘em honest, too shook in their boots to do much different. The Snows battened down. Still had their fortunes but sure lacked the luxury of paradise parties and aged libations. Where windows were lit and laughter was heard, there was cause for concern. Knocks on polished pine could pass for gunshots due to the intent behind it. The fear in not just this town, but others across the board, was very real. There was no choice left. Honesty had become just another metonym for debt and hunger.

You name one person in this town who ain’t been a victim of the Detroit blow in’s. That’s right. You can’t. Even if you’re honest, you best be quiet ‘round here.

Hell, even Remington Bates kept his wife off the stoop of the Honey Stop when he heard them black jalopies grumbling their way up the road. Detroit boys were always asking for trouble, knowin’ their upper hand was long and strong and faced little recoil when they wanted to put anybody they so chose through the wringer. Rapping billy clubs ‘gainst the front doors of homes, window panes of local shoppes, spitting obliquely and staring so hard that it’d make y’sick. Could put a preacher on his head after confessionals. They weren’t afraid of nothin’, took no issue with who they frisked. Rich, poor, woman, man, child. Didn’t much matter.

And the Mississippi Honey Stop… Turning into an asylum, kept the company of spirits new and old, just lookin’ for some goodness in all the bad. The misfortune [literal] in all of it was that nobody could pick a penny out of the slime of a swamp and make it stretch an hour in Gretna. Times were too hard. Rem and Harlow made the place more of a soup kitchen, the harbor in which anything up the creek could feel warm a little while. Full.

Dandelion shudders outside collected more dust than cicadas. Country strum was all but gone in the waste of winter, even when they hit the high sixties with nothing but sunshine for miles. Fans didn’t swing. Just cast shade over the rhythmic two step of a mother and child, cooing in kinship with measured merriment. Least the place was kept real clean. Paint tended to every few months. All yellows and blues like the corn color of summer country. Every table tightened and spotless. Lord knew that was just the way of Harlow Bates, couldn’t stand a mess or a singular crumb. When she married, the world thought it’d fall if that boy left a bed sheet untucked. Seemed to work out just fine though. She didn’t stir when he cinched a suspender two inches too lose. They got by a lot on smiles, ‘spite of obvious asymmetry. Made a beautiful home for themselves and the place they grew.

As dusk dipped low on the horizon, a chill blew in through the doorway of the only canteen left in force. Idle silhouettes barely bobbed back and forth. The Honey Stop yielded the same crowd: dark haired butterflies with their ashtrays kept under finger, old Blue and Ruger sloppin’ up a corner designated for dogs surer to go to heaven before out of state cops. The occasional drifter with a rickety soup spoon grasp, then the deputy when he was hurting for a hard cup of coffee.

ImageMetallic canticles croaked out of a register too rarely touched, “Got a mind to start chargin’ my folks for honey.” With ochroid strands thrown about, Harlow’s circling scrutiny was hard to monitor. Nola hiccuped on her arm, cheeks pinker than carnations in her post feeding bliss, eyes just like her daddy’s: sapphire and somnolent. “Running all over hell’s half acre…” Her mother muttered punching in numbers, all one-handed without much faltering. But a beam set to the corners of her mouth and she sighed. Just another day. The same labors for the same love. Soon she’d be trading out the sweat-stuck cotton of her dress and kissin’ the heads of her favorite folk goodnight or goodbye. Even Roux, who slightly shifted each time yet didn’t object.

She loved him. Loved him, loved him loved him.

Took to those Bates like they were her blood all along. Noel, who dug at his brothers something fierce, protected them fiercer. Loved him. Roux, whose eyes were not seldom wide and spoke more to his dog than to people. Loved him. When she married Rem, the tracts between herself and rapture just filled themselves in. His mother said it was something about good love. Knowing the difference was the key. Said Harlow Snow knew all along, that’s why she chose herself a Bates boy and found all those things she was lookin’ for but could never call by name. She never had to, after Rem.

Love stories aside, the Honey Stop accrued altruism in the most critical of deficits. Some days it seemed like it was all the town had left. Which at times could bear weight on the married couple that ran it. Integrity as a rule came before capital, and lamentably it was startin’ to show.

He knew by the way she wiped dew from her brow on the back of a wrist that was sore every hour of the night. She knew by the way he closed the doors at the stop with shoulders heavy, singular fixed look and not much to say at all. They’d never lost their sense of self. But they’d certainly experienced their sense of sustenance dwindling away. Sophia’d come by often with a side eye and mumble about bathtub gin, wanting to repay a favor she felt was owed. That girl was full of fire, a spur like nothing Harlow had ever seen. She’d be tellin’ a lie if she said she didn’t think about pulling her aside and asking for the down low about what risks they’d run if they wanted to brew something themselves. But went with her better judgment, admitting to herself that if Rem didn’t entertain it yet, it was best she don’t neither.

Guess what spooked her most was thinking how she was gonna’ bring little Nola up in this world, in these straits. Couldn’t just count on June to stick ‘round forever and watch the baby, pick up where Harlow couldn’t when the days got too rough. June needed to go and live her life. Deserved it most, taking what she did from Daxton.

“June,” Harlow called quietly over the clink of ware at its last hour, “You mind taking Nola for a walk ‘round the porch? She’s just about asleep and I wanted to close out the register since my husband won’t hit a lick at a snake when he’s flapping his gums at the deputy.” A playful wink was supplied, then followed with, “And June?”

With Nola cradled against both forearms, a chaise only a mother could make, Harlow conferred her to June, “Not too long out there, alright? That detective with Detroit’s department’s been snooping around. Thinks we can’t see ‘im in the dark. Got nothing but the candle jars out there so just stay by the windows, holler if you need anything. Rem’s right by the door and the deputy, too.” She tucked the baby girl into a blanket, its edges hidden in the crook of June’s elbow, “Won’t have these men from out of town trying to cut our tails. Shaking down a lady, much less my sister in law.” Harlow rubbed the sleeve of June’s shirt. She could feel Rem’s eyes imbued with protective nature. Up and down his wife’s frame in a wordless diction of, “You gon’ send her out there with Nol’ alone?”

There was a slight pivot in her stance, a small reassuring smile. He’d take it, graze a short fingernail over five o’clock shadows and continue his conversation but only after he knew that everything was alright. Never missed a beat where their safety was concerned.

Harlow hung a rag over her shoulder, took the candles from the tables and every so often peered onto the porch. Dried her hands on thin ivory, skirt bunched for a second before dropping to its full length again. A soft glow hit the window glass and flickered out of existence in zaps of night wind. Off to the left sat a heartbreaker and victim of her own, Bailey Marie. Harlow racked her brain a thousand times over tryin’ to find any words worth saying to someone who lost the love of their life. Couldn’t likely imagine the agony of going on without Rem, and found herself with a creased brow, lump stuck in the throat, giving Bailey pieces of pie she never touched a dozen times over. That Johnson girl was perhaps the only person Harlow couldn’t soothe.

The Honey Stop was cozy inside, even with the sadness of transients. Outside was a little colder. Lonelier. Most they’d see is that tumbleweed of a girl, Anna Leigh. Maybe sittin’ low by the last stair and brooding way she mostly did with her red lips rollin’ under chattering teeth. Girl kept to herself but they’d seen their share of her at the stop. Fed her a few times, though she insisted she didn’t need none. It was quiet. Almost all the time.

It won’t happen to us. I’m just being cautious. They wouldn’t come ‘round asking questions at this hour, would they?

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Bailey Johnson
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ImageHow in sam hill did I end up here? June wondered as she stared out one of the windows of The Honey Stop. Just years before she had been planning on making something of her life. Being the woman her mother never was and the woman her father never thought she would be. But now, she was living with her sister-in-law and her family and she couldn't stop and wonder just how her plans had been so thuroghly derailed. It wasn't all Daxton Snow, she knew, but he had played a large part. He saw her as a wife and a baby maker. Not as an equal. Not how she needed to be seen. Her body was her own and no one would change that for her.

When she first joined the Bates family, she was a little surprised at how easy it was to fit in. They were kindhearted folk and looked out for those who needed looking after and, since finding herself out of her home, she was one of those people. She was a bit uncomoftable with the fact there was a child in the home. Especially since children were what she and Daxton had faught about more than anything. She ached when she watched Harlow and Rem Bates when they thought no one was looking. It was intimate but not passionate. More like discrete looks full of meaning and soft touches with unspoken words. June didn't have that. June wondered if she would ever have that.

Truth was, she hated Daxton Snow. She hated that he could never love her, that she could never love him. She hated their fights and she hated the way he looked at her. As if she was less than a human being. And She hated how he treated her. Like property. How on earth had she ever ended up by his side? Why did she follow him when she knew it would mean trouble.

A soft southern voice broke her from her thoughts as her sister in law, Harlow called to her from the behind the counter. She turned her head slowly, dazed after being lost inside her head for so long. It was dark out now and the stars were shining like diamonds in the sky. They seemed so close and yet so far away. She knew if she reached up to grab one they would bee pulled from her hands just as her dreams had been. "Yeah, Suga'? She replied, her voice soft from diuse.

Harlow carried over her small bundle of joy, Nola, and passed her gently into her arms. The first time Harlow pulled this, June held so still, afraid to drop the delicate child. After all the arguements she had with Daxton about kids came flooding back to her and she wanted nothing more than for Harlow to take Nola and move far away from her. She was shaking by the time Harlow returned.

Now, June smiled softly at the little girl in her arms and brushed a finger lightly over her pink cheeks, soft as Georgia peaches. Her little niece was as cute as could be and probably the best thing that ever came from a Snow. She stood from her spot by the window, sparing Harlow and noticed Bailey off to the side, eyes about as lost as June's own. Not for loss of love, no. Not for June. But for loss of dreams and of freedom. For even though she was away from Daxton, the divorce wasn't quite finalized meaning he had a hold on all of her things, and their arguments haunted her everyday. Her worth was something she constantly questioned. She shook her head and made her way to the front porch.

Even with all the dark in Louisiana, this place often held a magic of its own. From New Orleans to a place such at Gretna. Only here, especially at night, the magic came in the form of fireflies. She sat on the front porch swing and rocked little Nola gently. She was nearly asleep now and she was thankful Rem had remembered to oil the chains so that the swing wouldn't squeak beneath her weight. She wasn't quite sure what the cops wanted in these parts. Or at least so late at night. She wasn't too terrified of the things that went bump in the night. Not many folk around who would mess with a Bates.

ImageFor the first time, in a long time, as she gazed down at the sleeping face of her niece she felt the need to sing. And so she did. It was soft and melodic. A lullaby about fireflies and dreams. She heard footsteps on the gravel just down the walk, but refused to be afraid, instead she sung just a little louder, hoping Rem or Harlow could hear from the other side of the door. When the stranger joined them in the firelight of the lamps, she realied he was another officer of the law.

He was lax in the dead of night, but the type of man who under the sun, didn't budge his square shoulders other than to flash his badge. Here, he talked softly as if afraid of disturbing the peace. Or: well aware that the Honey Stop was packed to the brim with Gretna natives that ain't want nothing with alien law. More over, the Bates Boys wouldn't take kindly to someone snooping around the shadow cast by the restaurant. Tip toeing and sneaking and peeking for answers they'd try to corner someone into givin'. And here? A woman holding another's most cherished treasure at closing time? Well, that would make anyone feel some type of way. 'Cause a real southern gentleman would think twice before he ever invaded the space of woman and infant.

"Evenin' Maam," he said with tip of his hat, a wasted effort on June. He was a man and he wasn't Rem. He hadn't earned her respect and he was around at such a late hour she knew meant nothing good. She said nothing to him and he continued. "Beautiful evenings here," he let it roll off his tongue as if they were old friends, a gesture only a snake might use at this hour of night, "Warmer than Michigan, gotta' say I don't feel much homesick..." A canine tore open an angle at his mouth, comparable to the way a hungry predator looks at a lone gazelle. He kept a distance. Studied June, then dropped his gaze from the focus of her pretty dark hair to the child in her arms, "If you don't mind me askin', where's Papa? It's not right for mother and child to be out alone. I mean..."

"I mind. I have nothing to say to you." She replied, covering Nola's ear with one hand in and effort to stiffle their voices. The last thing she wanted was for the little one to wake. "And her Papa's just inside so don't you try nothin' or he'll be here to kick you back to Michigan."

"Aw," it slithered from his mouth with a sort of mock Louisiana twang, "Don't worry." His hands went up in a manner of surrender - a treaty. "I'll keep real quiet," he paced toward the porch swing, eventually closing the distance, "Won't be no need to speak real loud. I'll make it real simple, alright, miss?" A hand closed around one of the chains and brought the swing to a sudden halt, "Wouldn't wanna' upset this little bundle of joy, would I?"

June stiffened, bearing her teeth slightly. He thought he was a wolf gazing at a sheep, but she wouldn't let him swallow her whole. Or her niece. "Jus what do you want so late at night?" June was beginning to wonder if he really was a cop. Afterall, weren't cops supposed to make one feel safe?

June revealed nothing. The detective removed his hat, a twitch in his facial muscles as he did so. "Daddy must have taught his girls not to talk to strangers, huh... Good." His fingers grated the cold steel, silent from its recent oiling. In his free hand he held a brim to his chest. Leaned closer to June's tresses that he seemed so taken with at first glance, "Y'know, I'm thinking I might stay here in Gretna. Why go back to Detroit when I'm just so damn cozy in this itty bitty paradise, huh? Buncha' pretty little things and plenty of secrets to keep my pockets fat."

Her eyes narrowed, but she said nothing. She had her own secrets and they were none of his buisness.

He pulled back and stepped an inch apart. Let the swing oscillate and shake a bit with his release, "It's alright, sweet pea. I know all about your little family in there, anyway. You're not tellin' me anything, but you're showin' me everything. Running off on Daxton to play house with that Snow girl. They got a word for that, y'know. They call it mutiny. But around these parts they'd probably just call it uh..."

June bristled at the sound of his name. That was definitely none of his business. "You. Know. Nothing. About Daxton and Me. And you never will. It's none of your business. Go back to Michigan."

Snuffing a laugh, he tipped his chin toward the sky so his eyes cast low at her, "A wife who's cold in the cot. Now now," he felt her rustle with agitation, "You wouldn't wanna' wake little Nola Mae. She's the only shot you got at being half a housewife."

She was tense as a rubber band pulled tight and ready to snap. How did he know her name? Well if he was a cop he had probably read up on the Bates family. But it was the threat in his voice that made her bear her teeth at him. Call her crazy all he wanted--not that he had--but no one was to lay a dastardly hand on Nola.

He hung up his hat on the railing of the porch, "Alright, girly. Guess you aren't going to whisper sweet lullabies to me and tell me where those beaten trails in the woods lead to. That's alright. 'Cause when I follow them, I'll know if you knew anythin' about it."

June raised an eyebrow at the man. What did he want with the trails? Even she didn't truly know where they went. But still she said nothing about them. If something was going on that wasn't quite legal that involved her in-laws she was going to keep her mouth shut. She owed them a lot and she wasn't about to betray their trust. "Do what you want, Suh. Everyone here does." She spoke loud enough to be heard through the door. "Like I said, Suh. It's late. So goodnight to you." There was steel in her eyes. "And don't threaten my family. They've done more good than you would ever wish to accomplish in a lifetime."

"Harlow, Shug? You comin'?" She called out.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: M. Boone Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: June Reilly-Snow Character Portrait: Noel Bates
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XXXWhen Remington Bates married Harlow Snow, he didn’t have a clue in the world what he was gettin’ himself into. Wasn’t nothin’ bad, was just somethin’ too damn good. Boy turned his life right around for her, washed his hands off, hung his hat up.

Thing about them boys who used to be dirty though, is it stays in their veins. Oh, they can dress the part and say the words, but somewhere deep inside their heart is pumping dark and their fists are itchin’, ready to raise.

Don’t see that side of ol’ Rem much anymore, but his eyes still flash somethin’ nasty when someone gets a little too close to him or his. Ownership goes far with that one, from the Honey Stop, to a couple old dogs, to a pair of brothers, his wife, his kid, and some girls who ain’t his kin but he always been a believer in blood and water, thickness be damned.

The Honey Stop though... wasn’t just somethin’ special to him, but to the whole town, and he didn’t have one intention of lettin’ it slip through his fingers. No matter what the dryness in his pockets tried to tell him. Helpin’ people was in his blood, in hers just the same. They had a damn good thing goin’, him and his girl.

Night’s like these are just as relaxin’ as they are stressful, ‘cause he knows just from glancin’ at her on occasion that the registrar's more empty that it should be, but he’s reminded that they’ve got people and they’ve got a shop and it’s more than most can say.

Sittin’ across from Atticus is always a good time, least since that started meanin’ coffee instead of handcuffs. Not that the deputy ever cared much to keep Rem locked down but it had happened on occasion. Changed times and whatnot.

He’s laughin’, sittin’ back in his seat with the shake of his head. “You can’t be tellin’ me you ain’t ever fucked nobody in that office of yours.” He’d of done it, back when, if he’d ever decided to be a cop. First day on the job.

“Can’t say that I have,” comes Atticus’ reply, and Rem rolls his eyes as the older man disappears behind a drink of his coffee. Harlow’s talking to June, handin’ over their baby girl wrapped up tight. It’s a late night, and he’s surprised she ain’t asleep yet.

He keeps his eyes on them until he caught Honey’s attention. Didn’t like them sweet things goin’ out on the stoop alone, not this late. Them Detroit bastards gotta thing for the shadows like none of them can’t see em slinkin’ round.

Harlow gives him her a look long enough to smile, small and reassurin’. He nods, slightly, turns his gaze back to Atticus just in time to hear: “But that’s a damn good idea.”

He laughs again, watches June walk outside but doesn’t follow her. Trust her, trusts Honey. They know where he’s at if they need him. “‘Least tell me you’ve used the handcuffs.”

Atticus smirks at him slowly and Rem spends the next ten minutes trying to jerk the story out of him, but the deputy refuses to give him anything. Ain’t nothin’ new, they play this game time and time again, and he’s just thinkin’ he oughta get up and start helpin’ shut the place down when June’s voice catches his ears.

Harlow, Shug? You comin’?”

Her tone makes the hairs on the back of his neck stand up ‘cause he ain’t heard June sound like that since the first time she showed up on their doorstep. He’s out of his seat before he even thinks ‘bout it twice, slaps Atticus on the shoulder and points a finger at Harlow.

Her mouth presses into a thin line before his gaze swings around towards Roux. That’s all it takes, and his baby brother’s expression shifts slightly from its usual calm to something a little more intense, a little more focused. It’s not a change anyone but him knows how to recognize, but he gives a small nod as the boy and his dog climb to their feet. Even Old Rugar gets up to see what all the fuss is ‘bout.

Noel is up without havin’t to be told and his chair hits the ground as he follow’s right on Rem’s trail before pushing in front of him, slamming the door open harder than he should.

City slickin’ piece of shit is too damn close to his June and his baby girl and he curls his fists into his pockets and reminds himself to ‘talk first and throw punches later’. Licks his lips, keeps his damn temper in check.

It’s usually Noel who handles threats like this but even he knows not to step between Rem and anyone who’s that close to his child. Probably knows he should get there before Harlow does, ‘cause the mama bears are always the most violent.

Roux leans in the doorway, arms folded across his chest, Blue sittin right at his feet, tall and at attention because he can smell the tension in the air. Noel lands a few steps away from them, then Atticus, at Rem’s left hand side lookin’ ready to knock some teeth out.

If there was whiskey to drip from a single pipe it would have gone start still and dry in the aftermath of a Bates set up. Frozen, even, when they put their crosshairs on something that slunk and scribbled the word “outsider” all across the board.
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”Good evenin’, Rem,” Graves let a palm fly flat and steady to his too-square seams, “Deputy, Noel. Where’s Roux now? Oh, there he is.” Everything was too much. Too much grease on his tongue. Too much confidence in the strut of his bullshit. Just the way of a slickin’ metropolis piece of shit walking a fine line between ego and ass kicking.

Next to him Atticus is already squared up, could see grime a mile away, but this close he could taste the dirt rollin’ off every sure spoken syllable. What a jackass, all strangers were, he didn’t expect much else anymore.

Rem smiles somethin’ dark and twisted, leans back on his heals and pulls one of his hands out of his pockets to run his fingers along the scruff on his jawline. Hears the door open again and glances back just in time to see Harlow push passed Roux, shotgun up in her hands and damn near ready to use. He smirks, turns his attention back to the thing drippin’ oil on his front porch. “Somethin’ I can help you with, ‘tective?”

It ain’t a question so much as a threat, and Graves get’s that as he takes in the stacked queue of Grenta natives. “Let me guess - Better give my heart to Jesus because my hide is yours? Ain’t that how you inbreds think?” He edged toward the stoop, oil in his hair shining like a keen blade. “You might want to reconsider all that bite, but bark… bark…”

Graves let out a laugh, “Bark, boys.”

All of ‘em were right on edge, most dangerous things around sittin’ on a hair trigger. Crossed his mind to ask Harlow not to point a gun at a state official, but just couldn’t find it in himself to give a damn. It was Blue that gave the low growl they were all feelin’, quite the warnin’ comin’ from a dog that wouldn’t make a move without Roux doin’ so first. Rem likced his lips, the skin across his knuckles pulled so tight it hurt, opened his mouth to pop off a reply when there’s a rustle that catches his attention.

“Goddamn Marvin Boone,” Atticus grunts from his side, and Rem figured he shoulda guessed as much. Was just like ol’ Boone to show up right at closin’ time, smellin’ like blood and lookin’ like suspicion.

Drunk off his ass, not even walkin’ in a straight line. His brow drawn together and he stumbles three times just tryina make it to the front step. He catches Rem’s eye and points a finger at what he figures is Graves but lands about a mile off. Slurs out a question that sounds like, “The fuck this fool actin’ like e’eryone dogs, for?”

Troublesome little alley cat.

That angular jaw clenched all ninety degree and the jig was up. Couldn’t hide a spectacle like Boone, and Rem suddenly knew this wasn’t gonna end well. Graves moved for a pair of cuffs, “Every dog’s got its day, boy. Guess today isn’t yours.”

“Boy ain’t drunk, just real fuckin’ defective,” Atticus cuts in gruffly, already rollin’ his sleeves while he’s at it. Harlow went on and cocked her shotgun up higher, Noel went for the piece shoved in the back of his pants. Rem sighed, rolled his neck on his shoulders, unbuttoned the snaps at the wrists of his shirt.

“Alright, alright,” Graves chuckled low and slick, the air of a man who knew he couldn’t win but didn’t figure forfetin’ counted as losin’. “I suppose it isn’t probable that anyone here is going to surrender the boy in exchange for a sparkling clean record, now is it?”

“Shit, ain’t nobody in Gretna care about a record,” Noel grumbled out. “Now if we’re talkin’ money and assets then you better flap them gums boy!”

Boone laughed, finally tumblin’ off his feet and landin’ on the ground right in front of Rem. “Ya’ll real fuckin’ proper tonight, jus’ for me?” he asked, unsteady gaze landing on Graves. “I ain’t ‘ver seen pants that straight, ya know? Ain’t for me,” he added, voice trailin’ off into a whisper. “Straight. Pants. Heh. You know what!" His voice picked up again as he shot a bloody smile Graves' way. "I wouldn't take that deal. I ain't worth any 'mount of cash. Shitty deal."

Rem swung his eyes heavenward, prayin’ for patience and the chance that he wouldn’t have to punch out no lawman for that sorry sucker. Boone was the biggest pain in the ass he’d ever had the displeasure of knowin’, but he’d be damned if someone put his Stop or his people down as snitches. They had a fuckin’ business to run.

Graves nose was drawn up like Boone smelt as bad as he looked, the boy on the ground still mumblin’ nonsense ’bout how maybe everyone liked him after all. “Tomorrow, then, for that one.”

“Wouldn’t bet on it,” Rem muttered, stance only relaxin’ when Graves finally went to get gone.

“And H o n e y,” the detective looked over his shoulder, “Put the gun down, darling, you know it’s got a recoil that will bruise that gorgeous collar bone. Then where will Nola rest her head? Who’d have thought… A pack of swamp animals make terrible parents.”

Rem’s makin’ a move the second Honey’s name is out of his fuckin filthy mouth, kickin Boone out of his way and a swing already whindin’ up. Noel’s got his arms around his chest in a second flat, holdin’ him back even though it takes effort.

Graves picks his hat up from the banister non pulsed, puts it back on and tilts it in their direction. “I’ll be seeing you boys around. And don't you worry, if I can't findya', I'll just go where the girls are."

ImageRem moves again and almost gets out of Noel’s damn grasp that time, but his brother is stronger and keeps him grounded. There’s a threatening finger shot over his shoulder, and he hears the door fall shut from where even Roux has stood up straighter. Blue’s growl this time is much more serious, but a hand on his head keeps both of them calm. Harlow doesn’t put down the shotgun, and June looks like someone’d have to kill her to get to that baby.

Ain’t nobody move until he’s well in good out of sight.

“Slimy motherfucker,” Atticus breathes, and Rem clinches his jaw in agreement, closes his eyes for a moment until he feels calm enough to push Noel’s arms off him. Walks over to June and holds his hands out for his child. “You alright, darlin’?”

She gives him a small nod before Nola is in his arms; barely wakes from the transfer, and he presses his nose into the soft thin hairs at the top of her head, breaths in deep for a little sense of calm. “Boone,” he says, and the boy lyin’ on the ground pushes up on his elbows with a hum of question. “How much you got?”

Kid’s a torn up mess, beaten and bruised like he always is, sportin a fresh cut up above his eye and blood from his nose to his mouth. Rem knows he’s got the dough on him for it, always does. Coins and crumpled bills fly across the wooden porch and he nods. Looks like enough to pay for their troubles. “C’mon then. I’ll make you a sandwich.”

Atticus does the honors of getting the little shit up, dragging him to his feet by the color, while Noel hangs back to gather up the money. Rem watches them file inside, Roux’s shoulders relaxed but a little shifty as he holds the door open, gaze glued to Boone’s unsteady form.

Rem places a hand on Harlow’s lower back, presses a kiss into her cheek. “No more nightly strolls, ‘right?” Turns the porch light off because they’re well an’ fuckin c l o s e d, but he ain’t feel comfortable enough to send people home when things are creepin’ in the shadows.



*Credit to Sacri for Graves dialogue || **Credit to Wiley for Atticus dialogue || ***Credit to Ivisbo for Roux

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Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Sophia Moon
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The heat in Louisiana was god awful, and no one would ever convince Sophia otherwise. She didn’t know how the natives put up with it, but contented herself with the knowledge they’d all wilt in a Chicago winter whenever Rem teased her lack of appreciation for the southern climate. It wasn’t even the heat so much as the humidity that came with it, oppressive and constant, leaving a damp sheen on her skin that always lingered. It lent a sleepiness to the small town that Sophia wasn’t built for. She needed to be out on the move, doing something, anything really. Hustling, stealing, transporting goods, it didn’t matter as long as she felt they were getting ahead. But she didn’t run with the Fangs anymore, and Sophia never had. That woman who’d prowled the streets of Chicago, powerful and unafraid was long dead, and all she’d left behind was a scarred, used up freeloader whose only talent these days seemed to be racking up debt with the Bates like some god damn stray.

Sophia gave up on understanding what wired the Bates and their tendency toward charity a long time ago. She didn’t understand it, had never been around anything like it, but she’d been forced to conclude they weren’t running some elaborate con; not on her or the other countless they’d helped in Gretna. The Bates were a rare sort, genuine in a way Sophia had never known people could be, and she’d tentatively taken up space in their orbit. Debt was as foreign a concept to Remington and Harlow Bates as generosity was to Sophia, but that didn’t mean they weren’t owed. It certainly didn’t mean Sophia could live with it hanging over her.

The Honey Stop was a prominent fixture in Gretna, and certainly one of Sophia’s current haunts. It was also bleeding more money than a sugar daddy with a new tomato on his arm. Charity wasn’t cheap. If the Honey Stop was going to stay afloat, the Bates were going to need a new source of revenue. Harlow and Rem might not have warmed up to the idea yet, but hooch was a hot commodity in these parts with a limited supply and a highly enthusiastic demand. Sophia might not have herself any fancy education, but it didn’t take a genius to figure out that was a recipe for serious dough. Sooner or later, they were going to feel the pinch, more than they’d be able to ignore, and Sophia planned to have a solution in hand to offer when that day came. In the interest of serving that end, she’d do what she had to. If Sophia were a woman prone to pride, it might even make her blush.

“Love the way that dress fits you darlin’.” It’s breathed into her neck hot and sweaty, much like the man whose hand was sliding across her ass like a ripe peach. Louis McGee wasn’t a hell of a lot to look at. Middle aged, overweight, and balding, Lou was a perfect storm of inadequacies and resentment that made him an ideal mark. Women didn’t pay attention to him, never had, and it left him feeling slighted. Men like that could have a real mean streak when it came to the fairer sex, but a few compliments also went a long way. A little ego stroking, and Sophia could play him like a fiddle. ”Maybe tonight you’ll even let me take it off…”

“Why Lou, tryin’ ta undress me in a crowd fulla people? That’s darin’ even fer you!” Sophia hawed, eyes half lidden as she pawed at his shoulder. Lou was about as daring as an accountant, but that wasn’t the point. The accolade hit its mark, and Sophia watched him practically puff up with it, even swaying a bit to the music. This sorry excuse for a speakeasy was little more than a converted barn, far enough from any of the local towns to avoid prying eyes, but well known enough to keep plenty of the locals bent on a regular basis. Word about town was also that it served the smoothest shine outside New Orleans, the kind folks could only get before Uncle Sam put every legitimate still in the country out of business. That made it the only recipe worth stealing.

”Don’t tease Effie. I’ve got a better idea for that dirty mouth of yours.” He growled in her ear, grip tightening into something more painful. Sophia gritted her teeth, hand twitching as she resisted the urge to rip his hand off and maybe break a few of those fingers in the process. Instead she turned, arms slinking around his neck as her rouged lips twisted playfully. “Does that mean yer finally gonna show me that cellar?” Sophia purred. His lust darkened eyes was the only answer she needed as Lou led her through the dancing throng out back. The steps they descended led to a converted root cellar, as much stone as dirt, and much cooler than the makeshift dancehall above. It was also filled to the brim with cases of illicit hooch, including jars with the much revered shine. What she didn’t see however, was a still. That could be a problem.

“Gee daddy, you made all this? I don’t see a bathtub.” Sophia made a show of glancing around, playing the dumb Dora. Lou chuckled, sounding so very superior. “We don’t make it here sugar. Can’t make it too easy on those coppers y’know.”

“So ye what…make it out in the bayou?” Sophia pulled a face that invited him to continue, and Lou took the bait beautifully.

“Not me personally darlin’, but I’ve seen a couple of the stills they’ve got out there. Ain’t out in the open or nothin’ if that’s what’s got you all in a twist.” He soothed, pawing at her arm to yank her closer. “They keep it inside, pack it up, and good ol’ Joe Murphy runs it down my way.” Something icy and volatile settled in Sophia’s gut when she heard that name. Yet another name on her list that needed scratched off.
“Good old Joe Murphy. He still running around with Adam Mulligan and fucking pigs?” Sophia intoned with icy cheer. Lou’s eyebrows shot skyward in surprise, either from her sudden turnaround in tone, the sudden Chicago accent, or that she knew those names was anyone’s guess.

”Wait a…Gwen-?!” The light of recognition came too late to his eyes, and Sophia marveled again at how long it had taken. Amazing what a haircut, a fake accent, and the right makeup could do. In his defense, Gwen Farris was dead, he’d helped make sure of that, and the man had only spent one car ride with her in a dark jalopy. Regardless, he didn’t react in time to the bottle she swung at his head, sending him crashing to the floor in a stunned, bleeding heap. She was on him without missing a beat, straddling his torso, holding his face down with one hand and whipping her gun out with the other. “Well look here Lou, I brought something to put in your mouth too!” Sophia grinned, eyes glittering with malice.

“You bit-ahhh!” Sophia gripped his hair, smashing his head back down on the wooden floor.

”I didn’t tell you to sing yet bunny.” She drawled, emphasizing her point with a click from her colt as she pulled down the hammer. He didn’t seem to quite understand his position, and it needed to be corrected. He eyed the gun warily, but didn’t flap his gums again. “Where are they keeping that barrel house Lou? Is it the one near Gretna?” Those blow ins from Detroit were real nasty pieces of work. Sophia could smell a dirty cop a mile away, but if they were after the same prize, things could become problematic.

“Gretna? Psssh, that dead town?” Lou scoffed. “Nah, it ain’t over there, but that’s all you’re gettin’ outta me!” He sneered spittle trailing down his lip as he found his courage. Sophia didn’t hesitate, dropped her gun down to his knee and pulled the trigger. The music upstairs didn’t stop when he screamed, not from his blown out knee, or when Sophia took a jar of that fine shine and pored it over the mess. It didn’t stop when Sophia repeated the process, or while Lou spilled his guts about the still house hidden two towns over, and it certainly kept going when Sophia planted one last bullet in his head. This really was a great cellar.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: M. Boone Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: Sophia Moon
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Threads of light lingered in the sky, mingling with the rolling clouds, dyeing the heavens first orange, then red and finally mauve... Sequin-silver stars, like the glowing embers of a dying fire, winked down at her only showing themselves at the far reaches of the sky where darkness nipped at the edges of the sunset.

Gloom surrounded Anna, the kind of dark that seems immeasurable and impenetrable…like ink spilled on a page, it swallowed everything. It was fitting for tonight though with a heavy blanket of Louisiana heat, and the thick silence that suffocated even the sounds of crickets. Anna walked along one of the back roads, unsure of where she really was. She tugged on the string of pearls she had around her neck. She had inherited it from her ma, when she was knee high to a grasshopper...just before her tragic death.

Anna pushed the thoughts away as she tried and failed to find her way to her own place in the dark. Good lord she was lost and damn it how had this happened?

“Damnable back roads…” Anna ground out as she stepped into a puddle soaking her black heel.

Voices in the distance drew Anna’s attention from her ruined shoe to a pending brawl. She brushed a stray stand of raven hair out of her face and watched in interest. What a scene it was. Harlow, and the Bates standing on the porch of the Honey Stop with a few others Anna didn’t know from Adam.

Looked like it was getting to be a mighty fine entertainment. Anna leaned against the wall of the building. She entertained the idea of interrupting the quarrel, maybe make some friends on the Bates sides…but then again, she didn’t need the attention from the oily looking man they were disagreeing with.

As if on cue Boone entered the scene. Anna sighed and internally groaned. Trouble. That kid was
nothing but trouble…but damn it he was her only friend, therefore he was her trouble and she damn well wasn’t going to let him hang himself out too dry. Just as she was fixing to step into what little light there was shining from the porch of the Honey Stop, everything defused in a rush. The slick looking ass-hat was walking away, and thank goodness he was leaving Boone be for now.

Damn that boy had a streak of good luck. With a roll of her emerald orbs she started towards the Honey Stop. She watched as they retreated inside the building, and turned the lights out. Despite the obviousness of Bates turning the lights and not wanting company she entered the structure.

“Howdy Ya’ll, how are you this fine evening?” She said with a charming smile.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: M. Boone Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: ANNA LEIGH DECLAN
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#, as written by Wiley
Atticus Montgomery
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Coffee bleeds into the grooves formed long ago in old wooden tables, soaking to the core and Atticus curses his luck. Hands shaking around the cup for no good reason other than he’s got too much on the mind and an itch in his gut telling him to go after that investigator and E N D him. Nobody’d blame him for it, and nobody’d blink twice either. Common knowledge dictates his simple hatred for outsiders, a taste of territorial pride that sets his teeth to grind when someone new comes poking around.

“Oops,” He says in place of apology. Directed towards the establishment in general – intonation lacking any form of sorry-at-all. He mops the spilt drink with the sleeve of his uniform for all the good it does in smearing it more; more so to feel the burn of it soaking through thin fabric. Returns his hooded gaze to the room at large. Would have been swept up in the usual comfort of the place had the atmosphere not been thickened to damn near choking by earlier happenings and his own growing discomfort with the situation at whole.

Something would have to give, for them to continue on in any relative peace.

He refuses to let Gretna be the one to loose their footing.

His eyes catch on Boone, therein lies one problem thats going to get the lot of em in trouble before long. Less someone beats some common sense into the kid - then again, he'd probably enjoy it. Them Boones are more trouble than their worth, which is accumulative by the sheer amount of them there are. He’s been after Marvin more than once, chased down plenty of times but almost never caught – damn slippery bastard.

Hates what the kid stands for, in his own recollection of catching him up in various states of illegal activity. He's a firm reminder of a childhood now layered in dust, but ultimately still there at the back of his mind, every now and again rearing ugly memories of old bruises and cracked teeth. Tries to recall if James were ever this bad, comes up with the vaguest image of a broad shouldered boy walking the long road to nowhere. Remembering then, that there are some cobwebs best kept in place. Boone isn't James, but for all the memories he's got left he may as well be a perfect replica of the bruises that formed constellations on flesh.

Though he has no doubt, Marvin will end up twice as bad off in the end. Mark his words, he knows that darkness when he see's it. Will tally the days until things go from bad to worse. Thats neither here nor there, a moot train of thought leaving the station too late. Here lay the true problem at hand, the begging notion thats haunted him since the moment Graves dirtied the stoop with his very presence, spitting venom that woke the beast shackled inside Atticus. The creature clawing its way through layers of thick muscle to reach out and throttle the man where he stood. He wishes he could have actually done it. Wishes he could have seen irises disappear into the back of his head, while he choked around hands firmly attached to his throat. He doubts the man has ever had to rely on fists in the way Atticus has. Knows he didn't have it in him to bring hell down on the Honey Stop.

Somewhere along the way he had stopped thinking of the folk as being apart from him. Possessions to be had in a town that belonged to him, his core being made up of needing to keep things running his way. Neat pretty lines, even when it never really worked out - and really, it never did work out - he had deluded himself into grandeur beyond him. He knew, his baseless longings would beget trouble one day and this here, this was the trouble that became of his inability to see past fault after fault of his own. Hunched over his seat, contemplating the next step when all he could see was how damn much trouble they were all in - if he could hang up his badge long enough to see past that he would, but all of this talk had him shiftier than usual. His palms were sweat soaked and itched for something - something stronger than the burn of hot coffee.

His tongue felt thick when he thought about asking what the hell they were going to do to - legally - get these assholes out of Gretna. Didn't get too far into voicing much of anything when a young wisp of a woman waltzed in. As if the lights hadn't been turned off to ward strangers away. Atticus laid cold eyes on her, teeth grit in fair concern. He didn't know her, but he damn well knew she had no business comin' in after hours - or did she? He didn't much care either way.

"Dandy, unless yer lookin' for trouble." He grinned around too sharp teeth, a look that he usually reserved for cuffed lawbreakers. Starkly condescending despite the hunch to his shoulders and the animal riding waves of anger in his eyes. "Comin' in after hours don't paint you in a pretty light missy."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: M. Boone Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: June Reilly-Snow Character Portrait: Noel Bates Character Portrait: ANNA LEIGH DECLAN
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Harlow Brynn Bates

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The tinkering of scrapped piano wire holding vats deemed craft worthy by their lack of matching lids didn’t rouse any cause for concern. It was ritual for them to knock shudders, caper on their own personal tight rope, rock in the convergent moonlight and eventually burn out if forgotten. But that type of thing was an anomaly, now. Rarely did the Honey Stop remain open so late that its homespun beacons stay on alone too long. In fact, they’d had the same wax wedged in there for weeks, maybe months. Hardly’d been used. So they’d be bright enough to the standard of two protective parents.

Atticus had his heels outstretched like he was home sweet home where the coffee didn’t stop. Guess that was about right. Had to consider it remotely cozy if the person owning it could so shamelessly interrogate the town’s officials about their sexcapades or… Stint thereof, which sounded voluntary ‘cause let’s face it, not everybody was as buck and happy to get shot over some tail like Remington was. Fortunate to have a woman like Harlow, who broke the cemented frame of her upbringing and whittled her etiquette into a knife sharp enough to keep up with the likes of a Bates and keep him on his toes. And that Snow girl, as often as she’d scoff and look the other way, was lucky to have him, too.

Parts erect like a haywire compass, jabs for bed fellow stories and all. She didn’t even blush no more. And when he started talking about the handcuffs, Lord have mercy. All she had left in ‘er was to shoot him a look and finish up with checks.

“Three fifty. Two ten, ‘bout another…” She was never hurting for dexterity so much as change by and by, just the way things was going. To narrow shoulders she cocked her head. This side, that. Brought the angle close in to rest her cheek while her gaze drew into a slit of mathematical determination. Harlow took a tab to nearly her nose and then hem and haw’d, waitin’ for Rem to catch wind of his wife’s struggle and tell her to put on the ol’ specs.

ImageOh, you’d like that wouldn’t ya’, son’m…

He just got a hoot out of her fixing the frames up on her little doe clock, eyes set at six exactly and full of, “You better wipe that dog look off your face Remington Bates, ‘fore I do it for you.” Always loved giving her a hell of a time about glasses ‘cause he’d probably spent too much time being hot for teachers when he got sick of screwing their daughters. When there were only crumbs left in the cookie jar his senseless honey-lickin’ paws went for the nicest piece of china next up. Boy loved himself a challenge. She wasn’t going to give in to that fantasy of his just yet. She’d already given in to that of many other folks by reproducing with him, of all suitors, him. Guessed she was living the dream. Complimented with an eye roll, she accepted her fate as one she chose all alone.

She folded frames over the neckline of her dress, kept on with her diligence to get a somewhat decent sum but it seemed to be wishful thinking. Tried not to let the sweat on her brow show, so Harlow turned to the jar wall. Took inventory of what preserves they’d had. Best sellers, what they might be able to count on. Was just short of a lightbulb moment when she heard the calculated clatter of table furniture hitting the tier. She was headlong first to observe the nearest window, pulling a messy handful of flaxen plaits up into a more secure fashion but missing some strands from haste.

February sky collapsed into total darkness when a familiar index went in her direction. She knew what that meant. Must’ve been humming too low and too long with numbers to notice the obvious tempering. How long had it been since she’d sent June out with baby girl? Somethin’ was wrong, enough to set every pitcher and crock on edge, could feel it, when Rem so much as moved toward the door. Could bet on it, when Noel floored a chair and took to his sleeves before words. Harlow was met with the hush they never knew until uncertainty stood on their doorstep. Atticus hightailed, static, suddenly territorial.

God save the dumb son of a bitch who steps in the wrong mound of dirt in this territory, with this company. See it ain’t uncommon to cross paths with someone unfriendly in the dry affair of Gretna. Not with smug scum bags weaving in and out of the trees, lanterns burning up a path of thick kerosene. Stunk something fierce. Looked even worse in the morning when all the cattails and forget me nots were beat flat. Worn those warrants real proud like, ‘cause if not, sure as hell might know the real kick of a shotgun blast.

Patron’s stirred and composure was pushed to a busting seam as Harlow held a flat hand to them, lulled, “Y’all just sit back here now. This’ll only take but a minute.” The trust of that testimony, crossed heart by bullets loaded and locked twofold, echoed when she totaled the firearm. Only cleared her throat before following her husband, her kin, their deputy. Contrivances clicked under her thumb, just moments into the pending bone of contention. And he knew before lookin’ at her small cotton contour that the leaden snap was just his final and only warning. Maybe he wasn’t so dumb after all, seein’ as he had just stumbled well over into the kingdom of, “Shoot first, ask questions last" with i n t e n t.

Whatever could run parallel to the plasma drip of a fresh kill ‘twix teeth, whatever came close to the implicit need to hunt a foreboding against family, surely looked a lot less mesmeric than Harlow Bates with a 12 gauge set to her shoulder. She let the men do the talking but pushed right past Roux without so much as an apology and marked her target, sparing no hesitation. He, in her crosshairs, dark haired and a little too intrepid for the taste of Remington Bate’s wife, licked his lips and placed his hands in the conventional stance of surrender. To this, she planted her feet just ‘bout shoulder width and sniffed adamantine behind the mild tenor of a hammer.

Steady, now girl.

ImageDidn’t blink. Only thing much movin’ was the boil of bad blood and a breeze remiss to her hair, drifting gold waves crosswise. Dividing her face into a pair of unbent lips, pointed jade eyes and that narrow nose pinkened only enough to fool a stranger no more perfect than the brain in her dog’s head. ‘Cept even Ruger had the common sense to back down when he was outnumbered. To know his human wasn’t no girl, no damsel. He’d watched ‘er take that Winchester up and cock it back with questionless resolve only a handful of times. For rabid raccoons that glanced even once at his dumb waggin’ tail, for rustling in the bushes. For the day that Daxton thought he could come drag June out of she and Remington’s home without a single rift. And now, at this eventide, by the casualty of a dry war that choked and spit up a detective too big for his damn britches. Didn’t b l i n k.

Damn if that dog didn’t know mechanically to go rigid before there was a stitch of slaughter in the air. Right up shoulder to shoulder with Blue, hackles stacked against stringent spines. Ruger strained under the ballast of his own snarl. Muscles quivering like the foundation of a cottage in the thick of thunder. Looked somethin’ u g l y, muzzle pulled so high that his dentition merely looked like a weapon some Injun woulda’ carved from carcass. He gnashed his teeth at the syllables of, “Wouldn’t bet on it.” and padded with a long ominous stride to line legs with Remington. Harlow didn't twitch or move her aim.

Coulda’ pointed the unholy thing at Marvin, rolling around and tracking road dirt up onto the porch and being not only drunk but putting on a whole God damn show in his post-shine stupor. Tugging on an official’s pant leg, insulting the iron job like it’d make light of the hostile air. Chortlin’, chords in his throat strained and dry from the whiskey to water ratio. Knuckle headed kid. Defective didn’t even skim the surface of that train wreck. But he was family just like the rest of the town, even if she hated to say it. How she conveyed her conviction to her adopted kin: a harsh half-kick with the toe of her boot into his ribs when he was the only debris remaining from a near shoot out with special Detective Graves. “You and I got words soon as the sun is up, Marvin Boone.” She lowered the gun, at ease with Nola in Remington’s arms. Finally, she breathed. But not without threat.

“You just started somethin’ you don’t even know you started.”

Hadn’t quite made it to the rack when yet another uninvited presence rapped and came into view. Harlow whipped around, Winchester held lateral in one arm and still primed for diffusing a situation. When she saw the familiar dark hair, fellow foundling of Boone, she slapped the firearm on the counter and sibilated without a single falter in a room fallen silent to her tenets, “Anna Leigh Declan I swear to Jesus if you don’t take better care of keeping this scarecrow’s sorry ass out of trouble you best be on the next rust bucket to Mississippi or you’ll have a mess of trouble following you everywhere you go. For the rest of your life.”

She turned to face Remington, Atticus, a brow raised and a stern outline otherwise given. They opted out of the defense for that one. Rightfully so. Quietly a sandwich plate made its way toward Marvin’s folded hands and for once, that boy was awfully quiet. Good. “Eat it.” Harlow declared like she’d make him choke on it if he chose not to. Rem came in left field, gently as he was known to when things got a bit too sticky. Even kissed her cheek and suggests a call back on Nola’s nightly sway.

"Dandy, unless yer lookin' for trouble. Comin' in after hours don't paint you in a pretty light missy.”

The dining room didn’t budge. Shifted slightly beforehand to glance at the newcomer but, was quiet otherwise. Harlow ran a palm lengthwise to her husband’s neck, submitting to his new rule knowing it for the best. Dandelion strays clung to her forehead, taxed with cold condensation and she smeared them off with the back of her hand, closed her eyes and nodded to Atticus, “It’s alright. We’re letting it go for tonight. We got bigger problems come tomorrow. ‘Cause now the Honey Stop and everyone in it has got a big ol’ red arrow pointin’ at ‘em. Rem… You better stay here with Deputy a while. Nola, me, June and Marvin need to get some sleep. Ain’t that right Boone?”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: M. Boone Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery
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“Anna Leigh Declan I swear to Jesus if you don’t take better care of keeping this scarecrow’s sorry ass out of trouble you best be on the next rust bucket to Mississippi or you’ll have a mess of trouble following you everywhere you go. For the rest of your life.”

The voice she heard made her cringe internally and brought remembrances of her Ma to her mind’s eye. A rare flash of her mamma’s smile, and laugh made a lump form in her throat. She touched the uneven surface of the circle of pearls around her neck and sighed. Anna missed her ma something fierce, but the past was the past. She once again shrugged off the dismal thoughts of her dearly departed parents and gave the Honey stop a quick once over. Despite the fact that it was past closin’ time by a minute it appeared all the patrons where contented to stay where they were.

Anna placed an amiable smile on her face and turned to nod a greeting to Harlow. She was a true lover and protector of this municipality to say the least. That was probably why she respected the striking woman so damn much. She stood up for those who could not stand for themselves. It was preposterous and yet, endearing.

“Sorry ma bear, turn’d round’ for half a minute and his sneaky arse was gone.” Anna said quietly with an apologetic shrug. Boone was a damnable handful and Harlow knew it….hell everyone knew it.

The click of Anna's heels against the floor echoed slightly and brought to mind the hammer of a gun being pulled back. She loved the sound. Did she have a death wish? Maybe. It wasn't as though she had anything for her here, or anywhere really. Boone, she supposed, might notice if she went missing...until he found his next bottle of booze and a broad to bury his sorrows in. The thoughts came and went like lighting in the night sky. Didn't much bother her any more, was more freeing than anything.

"Dandy, unless yer lookin' for trouble. Comin' in after hours don't paint you in a pretty light missy."

For a moment Anna brushed the words off as her jade eyes searched the edifice for her only companion. Her concern for him frustrated and intrigued her if only because their only real connection was that they were both strange birds in this senseless world and despite his boozing he was the only one who had been kind to her when she first arrived.

Once she spotted Boone, the ossified balled up sap, she turned to face the proprietor of the gravelly voice. Her eyes landed on a man she had not yet had the displeasure of meeting.

Anna could tell he was a Bull from the moment she saw him, if only from his haughty grin, though she had never seen a lawman with the devil bleeding out his eyes. Fascinating. Damn near made her smile ‘cause her demons could use some exercising.

“Well ain’t that a spiffy smile you got there cher?” She asked in amusement with an arched brow. A mischievous smile graced her rose petal lips, as she sized him up. Good-looking to say the least, dangerous too, those two qualities made for a good time.

“As for trouble darlin’…well lets just say lucky for you I’m just here to collect this lump of misfortune.” Anna paused as she gestured airily in the direction of Boone before continuing:

“You this surly to all the dames or am I just lucky enough to catch your eye suga’?” She asked as she perched delicately on the edge of an open seat crossing one long leg over the other.

She hadn't thought much about making friends in the town, with the exception of Boone...though this conversation could be fruitful. She returned her attention to the Bull as she brushed a stray strand of untamed mahogany hair out of her eyes and repaid his grin with one of her own, as if a challenging him.

“It’s alright. We’re letting it go for tonight. We got bigger problems come tomorrow. ‘Cause now the Honey Stop and everyone in it has got a big ol’ red arrow pointin’ at ‘em. Rem… You better stay here with Deputy a while. Nola, me, June and Marvin need to get some sleep. Ain’t that right Boone?” Harlow drawled her attention on Boone. Thank goodness for that too, she didn’t want to be under the bearcat’s scrutiny.

“Too bad I don’t have any extra time to show you just how p r e t t y I can get suga’, keep growlen’ like that though, and you might just convince me to stay.” Anna said in a low teasing tone as she winked at him playfully.

She knew she was playing with fire, but damn if she wasn’t loving it. He reminded her of a wolf, wild and dangerous. She liked dangerous, that was part of the reason she had moved to Greta. Adventure, peril, and freedom.

“Anywho…I’ll take Boone off yer hands. Needs a good nigh’ sleep and…water. Thank ya kindly for takin' care of him.” Anna said with a roll of her eyes as she patted Boone gently on his shoulder.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: M. Boone Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: June Reilly-Snow Character Portrait: Noel Bates
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#, as written by J.D.
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Noel Bates

He's up and out the door without a seconds hesitation, leaving wood clattering in his wake and the distinct sense of urgency to fill the air. Coming to a short stop nearby Rem, in the fray of bodies. A family hellbent on keeping their own safe and sound, not unalike a pack of wolves. They sure snarled all the same when Graves tried getting his rocks off on threatening them. Harlows got her a gun, ready to blow at the slightest notion of an attack. No threats there, he knows she's got all the intent in the world. That woman would move hell and earth to keep whats hers safe. One wrong move is all it would take, for all of them. His own hand twitches to the piece he carries, prefers the accuracy it affords when fists fail to get a reaction. Grips it to stave off the need to ball up his own fists and really show Graves what a threat is. He don't want this to get any messier than it already is.

Time moves, imperceivable, slow as molasses yet everything happens so fast. Stays attentive through it all, ready to do what has to be done if it all goes south. Just as it usually happens to.

Devils fire flickered and died in the pit of his stomach, burnt up in the ache traveling his spine. It itches in his hands and thrums in his heart when he starts thinking' heavy thoughts. Waits for the acid clenched between sharp teeth to abate in the wake of words spoken by a man high on himself. May as well be fucking himself into an inflated ego. And yet the man still dared to harbor the pretense of knowin' any one of them. Lets the wretch run his course of insults and barely registers his own movements when honey comes spilling from a mouthful O' razors. Got arms around his brother, protective, intent on keeping him in one piece even as he itches to tear Graves a third asshole - the seconds already dominating the gaping hole he'd call a mouth. Takes up his tried and true role of a grounding force, he'll be damned if Rem jumps into shit creek over words alone.

Sides, that shit show Boone done got them all in a right mess already. Stumbling in like he got any right to a fuck up. Just like him to show up a mess, to expand the trouble before it can deflate. Damn him, damn it all. Maybe later he'll throttle the kid - probably won't. Be too busy shaking him down for his source of shine. Could use a fucking drink, too much trouble came around these days, feels like every other second another battle is fueling up to be waged. Piling up the problems faster than they can wade through em' otherwise Noel'd have washed his hands of every wound waiting to open up already.

Noel couldn't keep Rem forever, didn't dare let up till the snake slithered back into the brush. Could only guess what hotheaded thing he'd go and do if he let him go a second sooner. Knows too well the protective anger slicking his brothers veins. Feels it himself, even in that moment, but knows better than to act on it every time it rears up. But he doesn't blame him one second for it, would have liked to see that smarmy look wiped clean from the city slickers face if Noel knew it wouldn't bring hell down on them tenfold. Them boys came into town looking for trouble, prepared for it long before stepping a single dirty foot on Gretna soil.

Noel can breathe again when he's back inside. Anxious in a way he won't ever admit, and he's damned sure avoiding looking at the black hole where Marvin Boone sits. Boy may as well be nonexistent among them as far as he's concerned in that moment. Harlow's right, they're targets now. Maybe it isn't completely Boone's fault, but it feels better to have someone to blame. Noel stakes no claim to sensibility, not now at least. It isn't but mere moments later when that Declan girl comes rolling in, playing the role of Boones shadow. If he didn't know what a bearcat the girl was he'd have thought her to be simple. But there is nothing simple about her.

"Dandy, unless yer lookin' for trouble. Comin' in after hours don't paint you in a pretty light missy.” Noel spares half a second to glance at the Deputy. Notes that glint in his eyes and internally sighs. Of all the people to be sharing air with. Atticus and Rem were always two of a kind, he's glad that Rem found a woman like Harlow to keep him in line. As for Atticus, Noel never much liked him. They didn't see eye to eye, and Noel had no fondness for the law or its people, especially for a lawman that chased that much tail. The fact that Atticus didn't bend over for the rules didn't change Noel's stance one bit. There existed only begrudging acceptance between them. A fact that Atticus had somehow became a staple in their home never failed to grate him wrong.

He doesn't sit long enough to listen in on the conversation following their return to semi-normalcy inside the honey stop, sides, he could do without listening to Anna and Atticus' flirtations. Makes himself some coffee while everyones busy discussin', he'd have words later. Right then, he had to do something to temper the stitch of exhaustion clinging to him. Course life could never so much as give them all room to breathe. By the time he's done and seated the girls and little Nola are headed to bed, he don't blame them none. Still, takes his time to turn his upended chair upwards again, sits with no intention of leaving the spot till some resolution has been formed.


"What a fuckin' night," Noel mumbles around the lid of his cup. He ain't no big talker, and his charms are usually only expended for people that don't wake in the same home as him. "What're we gon do to clean this one up? Hmm?" He's got one fist tucked into his lap, away from sight where the fine tremble from inaction cannot be seen. He isn't really asking, just gabbing to stop his brain from turning endlessly. There wasn't much they could do to get that target off their backs. Once a dogs got a scent it won't stop. He gnashed his teeth behind closed lips, jaw ticking in a way that it always does when he's contemplating real hard on something.

This, ultimately, came down to them. Noel wasn't so high off his own fumes that he'd pretend to be some almighty force here. If he did, he'd sure be put in his place fast. Yet, the Bates had always done what they could with Gretna in mind. Long before the Honey Stop came about it was in small deeds and favors and as they grew it shifted into something more. People depended on them, they depended on each other. No matter what independence streaked their blood, family stuck close. Even if Noel begrudged calling anyone outside of his immediate circle, family. No matter his reservations he knew these people deserved more than to have scoundrels amidst them kicking up old bones.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: M. Boone Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: June Reilly-Snow Character Portrait: Noel Bates Character Portrait: ANNA LEIGH DECLAN
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#, as written by Ivisbo
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Roux’d moved aside once everyone had turned their attention on gettin' indoors, the frigidness and anxiety of the night chasin’ them back into the warmth of the Honey Stop. He eyed Boone stumblin’ in at the end of the crowd, stringy hair in his face and clothes in disarray from trippin’ over his own damned feet.

He tried real hard to keep the look of distaste from slippin’ across his face, knowin’ people were used to that welcomin’ smile that gave him his nickname. But that Boone had a way of tearin’ somethin’ up inside of Roux, a way of diggin’ up somethin’ nasty that wanted to snarl and tell him to get the fuck out of his doorway. Despite Rem invitin’ the drunk in, takin’ care of this particular stray left him simmerin’ rather then coolin’ off like everyone else.
Fightin' never sat well with Roux, even if he'd had his fair share of bloodied knuckles. Red did somethin’ to his mind that made his muscles run hot and cold all at the same time, a creepin' sort of anger that he hated to let take control. Roux’d never felt like killin’ somethin’ before he met Boone. He’d wished that boy dead the moment he saw him, stumblin’ across the front of the Honey Stop just like he was tonight, piss drunk and actin’ like he wasn’t.

Boone was everythin’ Roux wasn’t- all that family, as bad as the devil and dirty to the bone. The Boone's represented everythin' wrong with Gretna, show'ed just how far their little town had fallen that the cockroaches had leaked outta' the cracks. Compared to them, the Bates were practically saints, even with all the trouble the three boys have stirred up.

ImageThat night he’d stepped out on the porch with Blue, the quiet hummin’ of the bugs lullin’ his senses to focus on the forest in front of him and not the hollerin’ from inside. By the time he’d noticed the yellin’ swell in volume the front door was slammin’ open and a body tossed across the porch, landin’ right on top of him.

The body came with swingin’ fists and a nasty snarl, as soon as contact was made Roux had the wind knocked outta him- one fist in his gut and the other in his face. Maybe it was the adrenaline, maybe it was the screamin’ of Rem to ‘get your drunk ass outta my place’, but Roux ended up slammin’ his fist into Boones face instantly, twistin’ that boy to the ground, knee grindin’ into his spine and arm bent up behind him. Rem’s yells became a bit more frantic, but Roux leaned down and ignored ‘em as he pulled that twisted arm a little higher, Boone's shoulder joint groanin’ in protest, “Thinkin' a dislocated shoulder would be payment enough for pissin' my brother off, dont'cha agree Marvin?”

'Course he’d been wrenched back before he’d actually been able to pull that arm any higher. He’d cursed at Rem, thrashed and twisted out of his brothers hold, barkin’ empty threats before turnin' wild eyes back to Boone. The drunk was attemptin' a mighty escape by crawlin' off the porch, only to land in a heap at the bottom of the short stairs. Rem kept hollerin’ somethin' Roux couldn’t hear, the blood rushin’ through his ears too loud for anythin’ else to make sense.

He didn't stay to watch if Boone made it off the ground, turned away and disappeared around the deck with Blue at his heels. His knuckles burned where they’d smashed into cheekbone and his gut ached from the fist that had landed there, but despite all that Roux felt good. He had to ignore the shallow shiver of exhilarating adrenaline that slipped down his spine and the red hot anger that threatened to send him knockin’ teeth in again.

Roux swallowed back the sour taste the memory left stained in his throat, standing' awkwardly in the doorway cause he didn't know if he wanted in or out. Little Anna, girl that seemed to think keepin' Boone as a pet was some form of enjoyment, slinked by him with barely a noise. Probably in search of Boone- Roux had no interest in stickin' around to see what more trouble they could stir up tonight. His gaze slid from Rem, to Harlow, then Noel, keepin' tabs as well as assurin' himself they were alright and then turned away from the open and warm doorway in favor of the dimly lit porch. He headed straight for the old bench swing, his fingers reachin’ out for Blue as he slouched down in the padded seat. Blue gazed up at him, his snout restin’ on Roux’s knee as he threaded his fingers through soft fur of his blue ticked ears.

Despite the greasy stench of somethin' bad brewing' in Gretna and the lingering distaste that always followed Marvin Boone, Roux found it easy to clear his mind. Maybe it was Blue’s quiet company or the earthy smell that signaled the beginnin’ of rain- either way Roux was glad for it and settled down nicely on the porch. People were talkin’ inside- he could make out Harlow’s soothin’ voice the easiest, but he’d always had a ear open for her. Roux'd never found room for anyone in his heart other then his family, but Harlow had become that the minute she’d been able to tame Rem. Hadn’t been hard for her to win Roux over, he’d taken to her soft firey warmth instantly.

ImageThe rain he’d smelled moments ago started tappin’ at the tin roof- the sound echoing with the night time song of the cicadas rhythmically. Blue made a groanin’ sort of moan as he stood up, the old dog knowin’ already what that rain meant. Roux's momma used to go on and on about him runnin' off every time the sky poured, saying' she'd never seen her youngest on any day the sun wasn't shinnin'. She loved the idea that Roux was really made of sunlight, that the rain drove him away and he'd appear again after the clouds dissapperaed. He'd never had the heart to tell her it was the opposite, that he really loved the rain and went off to be in it, not sneak away to hide. Blue was starin' at the sprinkling' sky like it had caused him personal harm, but he knew the dog would follow him through a thunder storm. He was never really sure how much of the world Blue understand, cause often enough his brown eyes appeared to be just as intelligent as anyone else Roux knew- and then sometimes the hound would turn and lick his balls just cause he could.

“Should'we head off?” Roux followed Blue to his feet, the dog’s soft wag of his tail his only reply. He glanced at the Honey Spot- still lit up warm with soft chatterin’- and stepped off the porch into the thickenin’ rain, headin’ towards home down the mudding track through the woods.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: M. Boone Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: June Reilly-Snow Character Portrait: Noel Bates Character Portrait: ANNA LEIGH DECLAN
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ImageGoddamn, his head was heavy.

Wasn’t like he used it for much thinkin’ anyway but he knew he’d gone too damn far when jus’ standin’ felt like he was playin’ some kinda fucked up sport. World done gone all fuzzy, like lookin’ underwater and walkin’ through thick mud.

It was f u n n y.

Roux Bates is at the door, dogs at his feet, Boone sends him a nasty, blood soaked smile and pushes on inside. Even this fuckin’ gone he can still hear Roux’s voice rattlin’ round inside his brain, tellin’ him to get gone. Jokes on Baby Bates, Boone ain’t known for goin’ any’here ‘cept where he ain’t wanted. Like a goddamn disease . Moth to a flame.

He ain’t been sittin’ long when a plate hits the table in front of him and he looks up slowly at the woman they call Honey. Eat it, she tells him and he raises two lazy fingers to his forehead in a clumsy salute and almost falls out of his chair for it. Plants his feet on the ground, raises his sandwich with both hands, and sinks hungry teeth into soft bread.

There’s a threat of words hangin’ over him that he k n o w s he’ll remember come mornin’ even if he don’t remember nothin’ else. Harlow Bates is small enough he could lift her in one hand but he she ain’t playin’ one bit. Her tone almost makes him want to straighten his spine up and give declarations of ’yes ma’am’s. Mighta, even, if anyone woulda instilled some damn respect in him.

He’s just settlin’ in when Anna’s voice pierces through the fog. Narrows his eyes down in confusion and wonders when the hell he lost her? Couldn’t recall pullin’ from her side, but then ‘gain, he was here, wasn’t he? ‘Stead of out with her where he’d started.

Atticus’ answering voice makes the hairs on the back of his neck stand up straight, ‘cause if there was anyone Boone mighta been a little ‘fraid of it’d be the guy with a badge and a personal vendetta for the way Boone smokes his cigarettes. He looks up just in time to see Rem shoot the deputy some kinda mischievous knowin’ look that he can’t process, then turns his hazy gaze on his only friend. Her voice is there but it don’t match with the movin’ of her lips.

Everything’s gettin’ r e a l f u c k i n ’ s l o w.

He sure he don’t wanna hear it anyway. She looks way too damn smitten, like a big cat preenin’ under the praise of someone that realizes just what a fancy predator it is. He screws his nose up at her and lets her fade back down into background noise. Don’t care ‘bout nothin’ ‘till his name is fallin’ outta Harlow’s mouth ‘gain. ”Nola, me, June and Marvin need to get some sleep. Ain’t that right Boone?”

His stomach gives a right nasty flip at the sound of his givin' name, but the little light in him labeled Goddamn Survival Instinct, Listen Up finally turns on. He ain’t sure of everythin’ but he knows his skin jus’ barely hangin’ on somehow. “Yup,” he mutters, round another big bite.Image

“Anywho…I’ll take Boone off yer hands. Needs a good nigh’ sleep and…water. Thank ya kindly for takin' care of him.” Anna’s sittin’ right next to him and he’d never even noticed ‘till her hand was on his shoulder. “Ey, I don’t wan’ no water,” he grumbles, leanin’ ‘way from her slightly. Water will just clear the fog. And make him have to piss. What he wants is another damn sandwich but his luck feels p u s h e d.

Noel’s voice pulls away any lingerin’ feelin’s from whatever Anna’d been runnin’ her gums ‘bout earlier, and Rem heaves a sigh before he presses a kiss against his daughters head and passes her over to Harlow. Gives her a kiss too, even though it’s a short thing. “I don’t know,” the man admits gruffly, takin’ his hat off so he can run his hand through his hair. He shoots a look toward Atticus. "Think Honey's right, though. We better stay."

Well, Boone sure ain't stayin'. Done got what he'd wanted, time to scram. He licks blood and mustard from his fingers then turns to narrow his eyes on Anna - ain't so much that he's mad but that there's two of her, somehow. "I don't wan go home," he says, gruffly. "So you best have some kinda other plan."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: M. Boone Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: June Reilly-Snow Character Portrait: Sophia Moon Character Portrait: Noel Bates Character Portrait: ANNA LEIGH DECLAN
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Harlow Brynn Bates

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Whitecaps to aftermaths shook the Honey Stop for only a few minutes before it returned to its workaday calm with the occasional smart-ass remark. Harlow took Nola into her arms, pacing in lieu of conversing too cordial. She felt she’d already been excessively generous with the likes of Marvin Boone. Always’d been a hospitable soul, with the patience of a saint, Lord knew she needed it to be married to a Bates but…

This trouble was stinking up a storm like Louisiana ain’t never seen. With an uptown dog catcher showing his teeth for a portended smile, she felt no sense of real safety. Those tony boys rolled up in a dust cloud to Gretna looking for a fight. Boy, they got one. But they made a dozen more.

And when the dust cleared they’d procured a county of enemies. Bad blood brewed just as heavy as the secrets in the distilleries. To think that’s where all the money was, ‘well as the jams and jinxes, made Harlow ‘bout sick. Her arm the hamper to a cooing child, she leaned over empty tables to dim the dining room. Nola shifted, lids blanching to show eyes full of blue that were just far too tired to keep up with the madness of adults. Then she’d nestle into the crook of Harlow’s arm again. Sigh just a consonant short of an angel’s song and sort of shrug. Just too tired for the madness, not stirred nor shaken by the news or the noise. Needed a good, long sleep paired with a lack of interest for all the beings that had accumulated in her parent’s establishment. That child’s spirit was a thousand years old.

Mama, as so lovingly referred to by more than just Anna Leigh and her commonly sloshed companion, cupped small fingers to curved glass and blew out the last of dinner candles, murmuring, “I don’t give a damn what y’all do now, long as you keep it quiet. Miss Mae is sleeping.” Rocking slowly, she tucked a corner of knitted threads between Nola’s body and her own. With a firm free hand she bolted the back door and turned to observe the remaining inhabitants.

Noel was up and down a bit, clearly not at home or order with the company of Atticus and so many particularly noisy strays. Was just like him to keep it low, grating one row of teeth against the other while hands remained folded so stiffly the bones might threaten to break. Didn’t much like to disturb anything if he needed not to. But strike him the wrong way or come for the family and you’d see a brand of hell even the pastor couldn’t teach you when talkin’ Jeremiahs and Levitici. Harlow nodded to him, resting assured that he’d handle the remnants with whatever else may come.

The fact of the matter went beyond just blood ties and family. See, now, they’d all a common enemy. In spite of Boone sloppin’ himself across the front porch and making a scene, Harlow believed fate just had its way. She’d have loved to just strangle the boy half to death. Give him a good scare and yell about how he’d endangered her kin. But what good would it do?

Graves was already there. Been snoopin’ for weeks. Fate was fate.

ImageShe paused by her husband’s side, an oath taken nightly but with more urgency this time around. She didn't have to tell him she loved him. Nola ‘twix them, Harlow rested her head to his shoulder, said softly, “That man’s gon’ sink us, now, Rem. You best have a plan in short order, or we’ll lose it all.” Swallowing her pride was like drinking gravel. Didn’t want to admit how serious things had gotten, especially in the light of their fondest creations. Not with everyone listenin’. But they were all a part of it now, whether they liked it or not. “Don’t let Roux wander out there too late, neither. I’m worried ‘bout him, with that Graves still out there… Alright?”

Rested there for a moment, she took asylum at the collar of Remington, inches from his heartbeat and certain under his shadow that no harm would come tonight. She fell feather light to the stubble of his jaw, patted his chest softly.

“Might want to get ahold of Miss Moon, she’s got tricks up her sleeve and loves to help ‘round here. Ain’t seen her in a while. Goodnight, Mr. Montgomery,” Harlow said from the stairwell, “Make sure you see Marvin and Anna out. I’ll make sure the girl minds her tongue,” Ma Bear narrowed her eyes, “I mean it. Bring that boy back when y’wake, Anna Leigh. There’s business to finish.” June was looped in Harlow’s goodnight gathering, taken to the second story and disappeared in silence.

The next day was gonna’ be just as much a mess if not more. But there was some felicity that only the night could bring with forty winks or more. And they’d all need it. By rushlight, Remington and Atticus would test the resilience of boards and benches with all their weight pressed no more portly than the decisions they’d have to make in solitude. When they were all alone crime was just a conformity of integrity. Retribution, a thought maybe. Protecting what was theirs, imperative.

Preservation took no prisoners and stowed away pride.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: Sophia Moon Character Portrait: Jacqueline Auguste
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Sunrise wept across the sky painted orange and pink at the suns insistence. Chasing the last of the stars away as the day wakes. Jacqueline watches this progression with noted interest, storm cloud aftermath puddled at her feet. Sharp eyes tracking the movement of clouds as they rolled in. The Wind kicked up the wooden wind chimes hanging on the enclosed porch of her small home, what is often beautiful and melodious simply annoying in that moment. Her eyes shutter closed, its cold and dark in her head when she can no longer see the sun. Rays too weak to penetrate her eyelids. A constant, subtle, reminder that she is no saint despite the words that have chewed up her brain.

She hates these days like no other but supposes that there is a common cause of this madness. An ever-present taste of mud in her mouth when she starts reflecting this deeply. Jacquelyn has a job today. A once monthly visit to ensure that god has yet to allow peace to a man meant to suffer. She knows, not on a surface level, that she should let him go altogether. A man that wreaked havoc on her life has no bearings in the future of it. And yet, some sick twist of guilty pleasure skitters up her spine when she thinks about prolonging such a man’s life.

‘Let him suffer. Let him suffer like I suffered.’

And yet she is there no less than a few hours after sunrise, greeting a woman she does not know and who is not her mother but all the same has claimed to take a space in the life of the Auguste’s. Doesn’t bother remembering her name when she’s never had to use it. A glorified caretaker who does not know him as a deceiver spurred on by the thought of blessed divinity for her good deeds. Jacqueline knew that no god, no heaven nor hell, would accept her for taking care of the wolf that wore lambskin.

“Oh Jacqueline, you should visit more often.” She always says, each time, in a voice that mocks properness but cannot truly be rid of the casual country slip. Out of place where Jaq’s words slur and blend and twist to the pronunciation of syllables born to Gretna’s finest. The woman reminds her of a city slicker trying to play house in the wilderness, and she’s known plenty of ‘em. Too many.

“Oh, ya’ll don’t need me in the way.” Jacqueline would reply, the picture of graceful innocent. Half mocking the refined words and half letting slip her true heritage. She may have been born elsewhere but Gretna is a cemented home now. “Sides’, no one’d take care of Bug.”

An excuse as paper-thin as the smile she wears. Who wears the lambskin in that moment? She wonders. The chair bound vegetable or the girl with his smile. A constant reminder that she can never escape her heritage unscathed. “He may not be up for a chat today.” The woman persists as if she can sense the waning patience in the way Jacqueline grips her hands. Mock prayer. And Jacqueline would all but state her lack of disinterest in his comfort with a simple, small, true smile.

Visiting her father has become a cleansing ritual in a way, a reminder that no matter how jaded she becomes she will never amount to the pure psychotic state of mind that shattered him to pieces. Cobwebs covering the most important memories he once held. These days, he regards her as an old friend. As if years of mental torture had never occurred, as if his words did not once hold her entire life in the palm of his hands. She wore that familiarity like a cloak. A dagger ready in hand for the snarling dog waiting just underneath.

Funny. In this case, she’s the dog.

As they sit in contemplative silence she wonders when it is he will die. He’s outlived the usual mortality, though his youth when bearing her had some part in his continued existence in her adult life.

“So how’s it gon’ be today.” Jacqueline leans close, comfort far off in a place where this home does not exist. Silence. She does not push. Knows that distant glaze is a mind lost to age and injury. Some days better than others and today no better than the last few visits. It is coming soon. An end to her self-harming visits. The day she will no longer have to antagonize a dying old man. The day he will meet his truth in purgatory.

Truth. A word he knew only as a stranger. Jacqueline would leave then, satisfied by the persistent catatonia plugging up his throat. She stops only at the behest of a wheezing chuckle. A grimace full of teeth pulling her lips to reflect the intent of a dog ready to bite.

“Liars rot in hell, child.” He breaks on every gasped word. “I can see the sin in your eyes.”

“So do I.” She would agree. “You gave them to me, after all.”




Jacqueline haunts the road idle, spitting curses at the wind kicking up her skirts. Muddy boots soon to be ditched at the door of her home. She stayed in sight of that bastard for far too long. Made sure he felt every word like a whip, petty, a tactic he would have once used. It scares her sometimes how much she is like him. How she can wrap words up in a pretty little box only and send it on with the intent to harm. How she can spit fire like an angry god; Blaspheme, Jacqueline.

Full of grudges or not she had no ill intention to lead her down that same road. She took no pleasure in the pain of others and had no reason to lie to anybody but herself. An honest liar; more like a plague ready to spread.

She is home, but she is not. When she crosses the threshold, she stops only to clean up and set a dish of old food out for Bug. The old stray cat gives very little comfort, a silent companion with sharp claws and a diseased body. Named after the very things that infest him. Perhaps another means of reminder, but she holds no ill will towards the cat at her feet. Lapping up the fruit of her labor. Still, she does not touch him, nor speak, she simply allows him the food and goes on her way.

There are places she would rather be, after all, homes away from the shell she calls home. A house she only lives in because old money grants it and she knows there are plenty of people that would much rather she have returned to her birthplace. Or perhaps, tracked down the adulterous mother that had been too weak to save her from the bible itself. Live among more lies. These days, she takes it in stride. A mind-full of verses and only a handful of other people she can bother about them.
Strange to think about the reverse of her personality when presented with the people she truly loves. Maybe, there is hope for her after all.

She leaves Bug to his feast. He does not spare her a single glance as she goes.
Gretna’s roads are busy in the day despite the dark cloud that continues to follow in the wake of this dry spell. She’d already heard plenty of hushed whispers on her way, people naturally got quiet when she came around. Still weary of her, though these days’ people didn’t much mind her. She had long outlived the reputation of her family and once they realized she posed no harm – a different tune came about. But since those boys had come to town everything became a whisper. People got real nervous.

Maybe they remember who she is, where she came from. She grew up in Gretna but would that holdfast? Would they remember her runner’s legacy and assume her the enemy again? She hopes to the heavens above that sense is kept in these trying times. She would hate to spiral again, left on her own. Only, she isn’t alone. Not truly. The dour outlook seemed marginally sunnier when she thought of the friendships she holds dear.

Where she’s heading to now, the Honey Stop is more home than the one where she lays her head at night. A place of existing outside of herself, of the petty nature of her mind. Where she can smile truly and not be judged for the resemblance to her father. She loves it more than she should, knows that it is a weakness that she cannot give up or hide. Today, the gossip on the wind is that big things went down the night before. Nobody knows what, and she suspects that its being kept hush for the moment. Jacqueline wouldn’t blame anybody for fearing the repercussions of letting big news slip. Still, curiosity outweighs her distaste for a rumor.

And small places like Gretna don’t usually have a filter on hearsay.




Jaq sheds the tough act the moment she slips through the door, no weariness to be found in the pep to her step. She settles into place, familiar in routine. She can see the silence but the rush of white noise gives no indication of it being real. There are plenty of familiar faces already in. She does not approach Rem, knowing that his vicinity to Atticus is purposeful and for the most part she only likes to make the deputy uncomfortable when serious business isn't going down. This, she thinks, will be an interesting day.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: Sophia Moon Character Portrait: Jacqueline Auguste Character Portrait: Noel Bates
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It’s a long night, and that ain’t surprisin’ in the least, but Rem still feels like he ain’t slept in about a week. Can’t say it was a bad time, ain’t ever with Noel and Atticus at his side, but the hairs on the back of his neck are standin’ up like a scared cats and he knows ain’t nothin’ gonna be the same now.

Stands just by the window ‘cause he feels like if he don’t watch the sun come up, it might not at all. Gets a little sick when it does and everythin’ looks the same, anyway. The leaves are still dewed up and the grass is still muddy but green. There’s still a dent in his porch swing and a corner of wood by the stairs that’s stained permanently red. They tell the kids it was a spilled bottle of paint, but he’s pretty sure it’s Marvin Boone’s blood, from that one time Roux bashed his face in. The product of too much hooch and a smart mouth askin’ for trouble.

It looks the same, but it ain’t, and that’s just a product of a picture that’s been stepped on by a boot as nice as them Detroit boys wear. Polished and pretty but dirty underneath all that shine. He takes a drink of his coffee and for the first time in a long time wishes it was mixed with somethin’ just a little. bit. stronger.

He don’t feel safe, not in his town, not in the building he put together with his own bare hands, and that shakes him to the core something nasty. He grits his teeth and narrows his eyes on the image outside the rain streaked window like he can see through the cloud somehow.

“Might want to get ahold of Miss Moon, she’s got tricks up her sleeve and loves to help ‘round here.”

He tastes dirt on the back of his tongue, wants to cough it up, but he swallows it down. Can’t say he’s surprised at all that this is where they ended up. It was a long road comin’, but he knew what path they were walking down. Kicked the stones out of the way while they did, squared his shoulders and raised his chin. If anyone in Gretna could handle what they were about to do...it was the Bates. Might nota been breed for this kinda life, but they fit the goddamn mold.

Morning creeps in like it’s an old friend and Rem wants to hate it, but he can’t. Makes the boys some breakfast and settles in for the last of their tired conversation. Options, ideas, conspiracies. They’re all to worn now to be angry anymore, too given in to ball their fists, or shout, or break things. And rather the others can see it on his face or not, Rem’s decision is made.

The winds are changing, and you either join the junkyard dogs are you get the hell outta dodge.

Jacqueline’s the first one in, come openin’ time. The sign ain’t up, but the door ain’t closed either, and his bones may be on edge but she reminds him where they are. The Honey Stop ain’t just his, ain’t just Bates land, but it’s home to each and every stray Louisiana's chewed up and spit back out. He can’t turn tail any easier than any other fool in this town, and he ain’t ‘bout to roll over and give up either.

Ain’t long after that a familiar sight catches his eye, and Sophia appears like a well called ghost. Been a few days since he’s seen her last, and he wonders if she can smell the change in his blood from a mile away. Grabs his hat on his way out and shoots Jaq a look.

“If you still the prayin’ type...” he doesn’t know where he’s going with that. ’Nows a good time to give it up for good’ or ’get to it.’. Either one will work, he supposes, but he doesn’t finish his thought. Figures she can get enough from his face anyway, and take what she wants out of it.

He tips his hat down over his eyes and steps outside.

The air feels the same.

But he knows it ain’t.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: M. Boone Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: Sophia Moon Character Portrait: Jacqueline Auguste Character Portrait: Noel Bates
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As sunlight started peeking through the trees in the pre-dawn hour, Sophia Moon sat vigil on the familiar swaying swing of the reliably present Honey Stop. She’d never known it to be cold in Gretna, even in the comparatively cooler morning air that left a glistening sheen of condensation blanketing the wood beneath her hand. No, the weather couldn’t be blamed for the numbing chill Sophia felt gnawing away at her insides, too frigid even for her morning cigarette to melt away.

Murder was an enterprise that had never garnered much emotion from the ex-gangster in her past life, but then killing had never been personal before either. The men Sophia had killed in her life had each deserved the end they’d gotten, but it had always been business. Last night on the other hand, inflicting pain upon one of the men she’d trusted with her back before he drove a knife into it, that was deeply personal. The fact that she’d left Joe a mangled corpse wasn’t what bothered Sophia, it was the utter lack of satisfaction she felt from taking that revenge. She’d expected to feel vindicated, or at least less toxically bitter. Walking out of that cellar, all she felt was cold. That chill, and the underlying violence that it summoned, threatened to consume her, some days she even welcomed it. So in the face of that, Sophia found herself once again drawn back to the one place in this world she felt she could thaw. It had nothing to do with the weather either. Besides, with the implicit threat the Bates clan had been issued the evening prior, Sophia planned to put those violent urges to good use should anyone with a badge decide to show up for a repeat performance. So far, she’d been sorely disappointed.

In a town as small as Gretna, word has a way of getting around fast. That was doubly so when the story involved sleazy Yankee cops, a community cornerstone like the Honey Stop, and Boones. Sophia may not have been a resident long, but she knew which tongues in town were always wagging. Concrete jungle or not, street rats never lose the instinct to keep an ear to the ground, and Sophia was no exception there. Graves and his pack of dirty sleuths had been under her subtle surveillance since they burst on the scene, but between the news of their overt threat toward the Bates, and the nature of her business activity the night before, Sofia wanted blood. At the very least, she had plans to mess up that pretty car of his that Graves seemed so happy to drive around town. Hard to intimidate anyone in a paint soaked jalopy beat halfway to hell.

If Sophia’s lids happen to leaden, pulled down by the comforting sounds of life beginning to stir within the Honey Stop, she blamed the Bates boys for that weakness. She’d survived many a sleepless night on nothing but adrenaline, and a pack of Lucky Strikes. Sophia certainly never allowed herself to sleep anywhere that wasn’t secured, and therein lied the rub. The uncomfortable truth that Sophia Moon was willing to leave her throat exposed in their presence. Lying to oneself was a fine art in self destruction Sophia had survived much of her life avoiding, but sometimes preserving one’s sanity took greater precedence. So as she sat there, half asleep with a lit cigarette perched precariously in her hand, Sophia refused to examine herself too closely.

Time elapsed, and as patrons crossed the threshold into the Honey Stop’s comforting warmth, Sophia would stir, taking absent note of their coming and goings. One face in particular stuck out as they slinked through the door. Jacqueline Auguste had a talent for making folks see her in the young drifter’s preferred light, even if it wasn’t always flattering. Some of Gretna’s natives looked Jaq’s way and saw oddity or someone to pity in case even half the rumors floating around about her daddy were true. Sophia saw potential, and a whole lot of raw talent. That girl had a spark in her that only came from a great deal pain carving scars deep across the soul, and the sheer stubborn will not to be broken by it. One of these days, Jaq would get around to fanning that spark into an all-out blaze, and it was going to be one hell of a show.

---
He finds Sophia on the porch swing. Can’t say he’s surprised, knew she’d show up sooner or later. Don’t bother askin’ where she’s been. Has a feelin’ he don’t wanna know. Thinks he’s pretty damn lucky she’s shown up now, though.


Walks across the porch slow and steady before he leans a shoulder on a wooden post he built with his own hands. Knows it’ll stand the same way he knows everything else will. Take a lot more than a heavy weight to knock him and his down. Pulls a cigarette from his pocket and lights it up. Always has felt better under the haze of a little smoke.


Gretna looks untouched, no matter the drama last night brought. Rain washed it all away, even the dirt and blood Boone dragged in. He finds himself wishin’ the whole world worked that way. Clean slate each time the sun set and rose. Too bad it don’t.


He drags in deep and lets it out before he ever tries to speak. “Folks ‘round town already yappin’ their jaws?” he guesses, flicks at ash that ain’t even had time to build up yet. “‘Spose you knew it was gonna get bad before the rest of us did.”


He’s silent for a moment, licks his lips and raises his fingers to scratch at the skin just over his eyebrow. His bones feel weak and something stinks like defeat, but he has no intention of going down. Not today, not tomorrow, and certainly not without one hell of a fight. “I don’t wanna lose this,” he admits. “Not one bit of it.”


He tails off again, finishes his cigarette like he ain’t sure he’s gonna make a decision until it’s gone. When it is, he tosses it off, shoves his hands down deep in his pockets. His brows done furrowed somethin’ awful, and he heaves a mighty big sigh. “I think, Ms. Moon, it’s about time we let you pay back that favor you’re so sure you owe us.”

---

Sophia felt Remington Bates’ approach as much as anything else. The man had a way of taking up more space in any given room than seemed natural. Inherent charisma she supposed, some men just had it. They didn’t need the flash of opulence or force of personality to convince anyone of their power, it just was. People followed their lead instinctively. It took a lot for a man like that to reach out for help, especially to someone who wasn’t blood.

His first question Sophia dismissed with a raised brow, silently chiding him for asking questions he already knew the answer to. Small town gossip was as sure as rain, and the grass was still soaked from the evening storm. “Just know their type is all.” She drawled, languidly taking a drag from her dying cigarette.

Ambition wasn’t an exclusively northern vice, but it was a familiar enough stench from home that Sophia had no difficulty picking it out. It wouldn’t matter to Graves and his lot whose lives or how many they had to destroy on their climb up the ladder, and they certainly weren’t going to let something as mundane as facts stand in the way of their promotions. Dirty cops like that were as likely to plant evidence as find any, and the papers back North would hail them as shining modern heroes in Model-Ts, rooting out sin in the backwater south. Never mind the movers and shakers up north were just as deep in their cups. The headlines wrote themselves, and it was enough to grit Sophia’s teeth. Taking care of the problem directly was always risky, even with a vast swamp to dispose of the body and the local beat on the payroll, but now it was out of the question. Everyone in town knew about Graves’ uninvited house call, and any untimely disappearance of the dear detective would promptly land the Bates clan under full investigation. They were going to have to play the long game, subtle with plenty of misdirection.

Sophia watched the last wisps of smoke wafting in the air with a detached sort of interest, carefully turning over all what Rem was saying. Slowly, flexing her spine like a cat, Sophia rose from her perch. Somehow it just felt wrong to sit for this. “Then you won’t.” It hung heavy in the air, final as any solemn vow with a hallowed tone someone as myriad in sin as Sophia shouldn’t have been able to pull off. Yet the conviction in her voice was undeniable. Sophia had been born in the gutter, both raised there and risen from; she’d never been afraid to get her hands dirty. They all were about to engage in a dangerous game of chess, and whatever it took, whomever needed moved on or removed from the board, the Bates were going to win.

“I have a few fish on the line.” Sophia hedged by way of agreement, eyes scanning the immediate vicinity for any unwanted ears making themselves privy to their conversation. “Might be best to find Harlow and the boys though before we chew the fat on details.” She suggested with a pointed look toward the door.


**Credit to CharlotteV for Remington Bates

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: Sophia Moon Character Portrait: Jacqueline Auguste Character Portrait: Noel Bates
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The treehouse had seen better days. Roux didn't pay it much mind anymore, but lookin' around at the rickety memories of his childhood, he made a mental note to drag out some wood for repairs sometime soon. The rain was bucketin' outside, the pitterin' patter of the leaks on the old wood creating a melodic rhythm in the small space. Blue shuffled around, his noes to the floor as he huffed at the sodden floor boards. Over in the only dry corner was a small mattress, a pile of blanket, and a candle with a book. Roux made his way over, steppin' over the puddles forming where the wood had sunken in slightly.

Back when the hideout was first built, when it was just Noel and Rem, they probably could have lived in it. The eldest Bates boys built the tree house one summer when money was good and they'd been given the gift of a real summer vacation. Took all three months, but by the end they'd built something that would last. When school started up again and the summer faded, both boys kept their little hideout a secret, Fort Bates, and they'd spend all the time they could spare there.

ImageAnd then little Roux'd come along, the baby brother that demanded to go everywhere with his siblings, and the tree house became their number one spot. Though they'd built it right, the poundin' of toddler feet and rambunctious boys on old wood caused the entire structure to shift left. Easy fix- Noel just nailed a few two by fours in place under the original supports. Every time something happened- I foot through the floor board, a fist through the door, it would just get patched up by a new piece of wood- till the entire thing resembled a collaged wood pile.

Roux loved the tree house early on, mostly because it was the one place he had his brothers entirely to himself. They'd spend weekends there and nights when it was too hot to be indoors and winter days bundled up in stolen wool blankets. They figured out a pully system early on so Roux could bring Blue up as soon as it was apparent the boy was going nowhere without that dog. And when one of them boys went missing, it was easy to find them hidin' out at the top of the tree, safe in the care of Fort Bates.

But the world changed, the brothers got older, and wood decays.

A few months ago, the porch fell out from underneath Roux when he'd crawled back up the rickety ladder. I'd probably been at least five years since anyone had attempted to climb the old structure and it was a wonder it was left standin'. Roux'd patched up the major leaks, reinforced the original support beams, fixed the odd holes in the walls, and tidied up the inside as best he could. There was still a basket of blankets, old baseball gloves and bats, a box of clothes, and a large tin of candy stashed away. That first night back he'd stolen one of Noel's old sweet and passed out under the stars, and since then he's been back almost three nights a week.

Nights like tonight, when they clouds supply of rain was neverendin', were the nights that Roux especially loved up here. The walls swollen with water, the air filled with the smell of waterlogged wood and creeping moss. He laid still on his old mattress, Blue tucked to his right and his left hand delicately holding a burning cigarette. Without the wind, the smoke tendriled about the space beautifully, capturing the soft light from Roux's candle. He stared at it until he drifted to sleep, cigarette simmering out as soon as it bounced against the damp floor.

ImageThe Honey Stop was just started to rustle awake when Roux and Blue showed back up on the porch, shakin' the wet from their hair from the morning dew. Rem, Atticus, and Noel were awake, grumblin' over plans as they hunched over their respective plates of breakfast. Roux eyed the meal for a second before headin' straight to the kitchen for scraps. He tossed Blue the remainder of the bacon and scrapped up the last of the eggs for himself, then returned to the front room. He contemplated joining his brothers and the sheriff, but opted for his favorite table near the largest window instead. It was early enough that he could pass off being antisocial for tired- he wanted to keep himself untangled from the mess of last night as long as possible. Course' Roux would help his family, but for now he was willing to let them plan it out and fill him in when needed. He caught Rem eyein' him as he sat down, but he just gave his brother one of his soft 'sunshine Roux' smiles before pulling his book from his back pocket and ignorin' them. Blue plopped down at his usual spot near his feet and the room settled for a moment. Calm moments at the Honey Stop came in spurts- everything would be serene and quiet, a few muttered conversations here and there, but for the most part peaceful. Roux liked moments like this the best, when he knew they people most important to him were safe. He could sit here and read, ignore everything around him and be sure that when he looked back up, everything would be the same. It wasn't that he feared change, but god did it feel good feelin' confident nothin' was gonna happen.

Even as a kid, Roux was always aware of Rem's presence in the room, like an itchin' thought he had to keep track of. He hears Rem's chair move and glanced up immediately, followin' his brothers movement across the room and out the door. He can't see his face from where he is, but the Bates know each other well. He had half a mind to follow his brother out, but if he'd needed him he would have called. Warily, he goes back to his book, his attention split between the text and the porch.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: M. Boone Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: Jacqueline Auguste Character Portrait: Noel Bates Character Portrait: ANNA LEIGH DECLAN
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”Wake up you’ve got hell to pay Boonsy, I was tasked with bringin’ you to mamma bear.”

He comes to feelin’ like someone dumped a goddamn pile o’ bricks on his head, and he don’t remember eatin’ dirt but he sure does feel it down his throat. There’s a layer of dried blood still on his gums, crusty and forgotten, and he’s pretty sure he tastes the slime of three days worth o’ hooch layerin’ the back of his tongue.

If Death came in a bottle they might as well throw a label on it and name it after him, ‘cause Boone was pretty damn sure he had both feet fallin’ down into hell already and he was only holdin’ onto life ‘cause Anna Leigh Declan had a vice grip on his wrist. Funny what such little girls were capable of when they only had one friend in the world, no matter how fucked up that friend happened to be.

Sunlight snaps into the room harsh and unforgiving, and Boone mutters a handful of curses through a voice box that crackles as he pulls blankets up over his head and tells Anna God musta sent her to punish him in between one crude word and another. As if fuckin’ provin’ his point, the next second his solitude is gone and ice cold covers him from the top of his head to his neck.

He jumps up sputterin’ like he’s drownin’, runnin’ his hands through hair he can’t remember the last time he washed, narrowin’ blood shot eyes at Anna’s blurry form. The world is either spinnin’ or his head is, can’t decide. All he knows is it goddamn hurts. “Fuck you,” he spits at the girl standin’ across from him, voice cracklin’ from a box that ain’t too fond of him.

”Do you have any idea the trouble you could have gotten into?” she’s concerned, but he’s not sure he really cares all that much. He wants somethin’ to stop the poundin’ he can hear. Wonders if he’s goin’ crazy finally or if he’s just actually hungover. Been awhile, since he’s got hungover. Drink like a sewer fish and you start gettin’ used to it. Tolerance, he thinks them smarter people call it.

He barely remembers the night before. Don’t know what day it is, even. But Harlow Bates’ voice is a thing of nightmares, and it cuts through the fog in his head with surprising clarity. Oh. That’s right. He is in some kinda trouble or another.

He scrubs dirty palms over his eyes before glancin’ down at his knuckles. The bruises are old, but the cuts are new, and he don’t remember who he got in a fight with or when, but knows it musta felt good. “Yeah, yeah,” he mutters at Anna as he finally drags himself off the bed. Everything fuckin’ hurts, from his back to his joints, complain’ bout dehydration probably.

He slides his way into the bathroom, keeps the lights off while he takes a piss, barely glances at himself in the mirror while he tries to scrub away the last traces of blood and dirt on his face. Washes his mouth out, combs his hair back with his fingers and lifts his shirt up for a sniff. Fish, dirt, blood, sweat, probably some tears.

He shrugs, leaves it be, and lets Anna drag him down to the Honey stop for a talkin’ to. He stumbles over halfway there, the sunlight hell on his eyes, and stops twice to vomit. Ain’t had much food in awhile, it’s mostly liquid, smells like a goddamn distillery.
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Climbin’ up the steps of the Honey Stop sends flashbacks up his spine and he remembers pressed pants and bein’ at Rem Bates’ feet. Sloshed, then. Lookin’ for food like an alley cat diggin’ through a dumpster. They fed him, he’s sure of it. Probably while Mama Bates was tellin’ him he’d be ‘round in the mornin’.

Ol’ Rem is there, all serious like, standin’ next to the porch swing. Gives Boone a narrowed eye’d look, and he responds with a lazy too fingure salute. Sofia Moon is at his hip, sittin down there like a goddamned Grim Reaper. He don’t spare her glance, ‘cause she always looks at him like she’s searchin’ for somethin’ and he don’t like that too much. He ain’t sure what it is she think she’ll find, but he don’t want her to.

He pushes the door open harder than he means too, wood crackin’ like a lightin’ bolt, props it with his elbow so Anna can slide in behind him. It’s damn early, Stop ain’t crawlin’ yet. Atticus is there, lookin’ tired and frustrated, Noel not much better. Rem’s little slice o’ Honey ain’t made it down yet, though.

He wonders if the boys will honor him with a last meal before they let her rip her claws into him, ‘cause he sure is fuckin’ hungry, but he ain’t dumb enough to ask outright. He’s lookin’ for his favorite table - that one that’s got a corner missin’ and a leg that don’t quite touch the floor right - when he catches sight of somethin’ a little more interestin’.

Roux Bates.

Now, Boone done felt like shit, but he’d have’ta be in the ground before messin’ with Baby Bates wasn’t in his will power of the day. Dog was still sober, this early, always had more control than Boone - but that doesn’t matter, in his book.

Boys too comfortable, too quiet, and Boone’s fingers itch, ‘cause he’s always liked Roux a little more when he was roughed up.

He’s sittin’ there at the back, in front of that goddamn large window, soakin’ up the sunshine he was born in. It makes Boone feel like someone’s got their fingers in his brain rippin’ it apart just lookin’ over there, but he grits his teeth ‘cause he’s fuckin’ had worse for a lot less.

He manages to keep one foot in front of the other as he makes his way over there, jerks out a chair and spins it around backwards before sittin’ down. “The fuck are you doin’ anyway?” he asks, snatchin’ the book out of Roux’s hands. He flips through the pages like he can see anything other than jumbled letters and blurred words, snorts out of annoyance. “Actin’ like you smart enough to make sense of any’o this?”

Maybe it was cause he was so preoccupied with payin' attention to his book and keeping' an eye on the front door, but somehow Roux didn't notice Marvin Boone’s entrance till he was stealin' a seat from his table. Loud, abrasive, with the kind of presence that made him grit his teeth instantly. He looked up just as his book was snatched away, a knot of red rage coiling in his chest. It wasn't even ten and he'd been so fuckin' peaceful, but starin' at Boone flip through his favorite book like it was trash made him want to break a few of his dirty fingers.

Roux followed Boone eyes across the page and smirked, knowin' he didn't know shit about reading. Wasn't so surprising considering that hell of a family, but it soothed him a bit to know he had the upper hand. "Readin's basic nowadays, you sayin' you can't?"

It took him all of two seconds to get the reaction he’d wanted. Roux’s face did that thing where somethin’ much darker than all those shy little grins shined through, and Boone had always found that damn interestin’. He was mad, and Boone thought that was great. wanted to see him fuckin' do somethin' about it.

The question catches him off guard, and he sneers as he tosses the book across the table. He can't read, worth shit. Never learned, most them Boone kids didn't. Wasn't somethin' he admitted though, wasn't nobody's business, but it gets under his damn skin that Roux can fuckin' see it. "Sayin' I have fuckin' better things to do."

He had to hold back a laugh, the corners of his mouth twitching' devilishly. Fuck, Boone had no idea how transparent he was, Roux could almost see every thought written across the pricks face.

"Better things to do like drink yourself shit-faced every night?" He reaches over and snatched the book from the table, sending a knowin' glare Boones way, "Think showin' up here whenever you're too drunk to handle yourself is gonna pan out long term, Marvin? We might just lock the doors and leave ya to the pigs next time"

They were fightin’ words and they both knew that wasn’t a game Boone could win. He was all fists or nothin’, but still, tradin barbs with the likes of Roux Bates gets his adrenaline pumpin’ somethin’ mad. The name causes his fist to curl against the wood, but they both know he won’t throw a punch. Not here, not now. Not like this. “If you’re family starts lockin’ the doors on drunks they’d have to go on an’ kick you out with me. Handle your hooch bout as well as I do, don’t ya, puppy? What’s that shit they say, birds of a feather or whatever? Don’t hold that nose of yours up too high. We come from the same side of the tracks, Bates. You’re more like me than you like.”

He gripped the edge of the table, his knuckles turning white from the tension- he wanted to pound Boone face into the floorboards of his brothers restaurant and he didn't really care that everyone would be there to witness. Boone had it comin', he only ever learned anythin' by having it beat into him.

Blue was standin' now, Roux could make out his stock still mass next to him. He didn't dare move his eyes from Boone, fairly sure he'd get a fist to his jaw as soon as he broke eye contact. The fucker was right, of course. Same side of the tracks, some person. He knew Boone saw red just as much as he did, but that was what made hate blur his vision every time he saw the drunk.

"Same, sure. 'Cept for your inability to throw a punch and impressive readin' skills" He hissed, low that anyone else wouldn't hear. Cause Roux had an image to uphold and Boone wasn't apart of it, "Doesn't explain why you spend most of your time on our porch. Seems like you come 'round here looking' for a handout or fight daily"

His blood’s pumpin’ and adrenaline is clearin’ that stubborn ass hangover of his. Roux has got his fingers wrapped right around Boone’s strings and knows exactly which ones to pluck to get him pissed off somethin’ good. Maybe Roux is smart enough to read them goddamn books, ‘cause he sure can read Boone. “Like sittin’ up here all ‘lone like you do is any better? What’s wrong, Sunshine Boy, can’t make any friends ‘cause all the red that’s in you?” He leans in close and grins, somethin’ all ugly and twisted, not happy like it’s supposed to be. His eyes dropped pointedly to Roux’s hands, knuckles strained all white, then back up to blue-gray eyes. All bright, washed out in the sunlight like this. “Hit me. Y'know ya want to. I dare ya, Roux. C’mon.”

ImageIt was the Honey Stop, where Rem and Harlow built their lives. Where his niece would grow up, a sacred community sanctuary during the dry years. And Roux didn't give one fuck as his arm wound back and flew full force in Marvin Boone’s face, sending the other man flying backwards from his seat and onto the floor with a resounding thud. The crack of knuckles on cheekbone was the loudest sound for a moment, forcing all necks to crane their direction. There was blood on his knuckles and across Bones cheek, a rich red that matched the color burning in his mind.

Blue was on his feet with an alerting bark as Roux pushed Boone's chair out of the way and lunged forward, knocking him back against the floor harshly.

"Dare ya, Marvin, punch me in front of everyone here. Lets see what happens"

It goddamn hurt, and Roux hadn’t hesitated. Boone had been too close to move even if he’d wanted to, and too close to do anything but fall with that hit. The force sent him to the floor, and the remainders of his hangover left him feelin’ like he was still up there even though his body was definitely on the ground. His cheekbone seared with pain, and it felt good.

He let out a laugh when Roux was suddenly on him, the back of his head crashing against the floor. Everything rolled, like it was filled with rocks, but there was still that fuckin’ smile stretched across his face. It was the name, more than the dare, that caused him to get a handful of Roux’s shirt before lifting him up, putting their faces only inches apart. “Oh, are we gonna play?”

He didn’t have the leverage to knock Roux over, not like this, nor get in a hit like the one Roux had driven into him, but he still pulled his fist back and slammed it home just under the Bates boy’s left eye. They’d fuckin’ match. How fuckin’ perfect.

The punch felt good, blindingly painful but fucking good. His head snapped to one side, cricking his neck in that painful way that meant it would be sore tomorrow. But despite that, he wanted to feel it again. Felt something like takin' a shot of Rem's old hooch- kinda shit you knew was bad for you but you wanted too damned much.

Roux's next punch landed right on top of the previous, the broken cheek bone creaking under his bloody knuckles. And then the next one set a spray of blood from Boone mouth, the next snapping his head to the side, the next crushing Roux's hand painfully against skull.

Blood was dripping out of Boone’s mouth at the same rate is it leaked from his knuckles, the pain finally winning out over his rage. For the first time, his eyes flicked up to the room, realizing the bloody mess they'd made on his family's floor. People were looking' at him strange, but his eyes found Rem's. His brother nodded, a small movement, but enough that Roux knew he was done.

He dragged his eyes back down to the mess he'd made of Boone's face and he exhaled. Roux moved to get up, but leaned slightly lower just as he rose, "I only like playing if you can keep up"

Pulling himself off Boone, Roux turned to a very agitated Blue and took a few steps away, hands sliding into blue-ticked fur. He hated the blood that stained Blues fur from his hands, hated not knowing if it was his or Boone's.

Seemed like every time Boone came around, they ended up covered in each others blood.

There was a sayin - he was pretty sure he heard Rem Bates say it - that most people liked the idea of fightin’, but not a lot of them liked the idea of gettin’ hit. Boone was the exception of the rule, backwards logic all the way around. He loved gettin’ hit more than most guys loved gettin’ laid. Each time Roux’s fist slammed against his face was a mix of pleasure and pain he could get high on.

Roux’s voice when he finally backed off was a rough taunt, and Boone laughed. The kind of laugh that started deep in him and burst out of him unhinged. It was fuckin’ perfect. He rolled onto his stomach, lettin’ blood gather in his mouth before spittin’ it out again. Could feel blood on his face and wasn’t too sure just which one of them it belonged to. Both, probably. HIs gaze rose slightly as he pushed himself onto his knees, just to see Rem starin’ down at him.

Oh right. Everyone was here. He’d almost forgotten. Wondered if they’d yelled at the boys to cut it the fuck out, or just silently gotten up to get the middle brother. Roux’s Keeper. Boone grinned, sure it was ghastly, all that blood around his teeth.

Rem shook a head at him and tossed a rag in his face. “Clean that shit off my floor,” he ground out. “And off your face, ‘fore Honey comes in and see’s what a goddamn mess you made.”

“Roux hit me first,” Boone declared, like that would earn him any kind of leeway in this crowd.

Rem arched an eyebrow, slowly.”Like you didn’t ask for it.”

The man had a point.

**Credit to Ivisbo for Roux paragraphs

Characters Present

Character Portrait: M. Boone Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: Sophia Moon
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“Fuck you,”

Boone's words swept past her like leaves in a storm, kissing her cheek only briefly with the sting of his aggravation. Anna didn't get upset with him, there wasn' no point. She'd damn sure rather believe he cared as much as she, so she ignored the barbs he stuck in her. She was in no way naive, diluted? Probably. But not naive. She supposed that is what happened when one desperately longed to belong. She let him clean up in silence, as she herself changed, and touched up her makeup.

The walk to the Honey stop was just as horrendous in the morning as it had been the night before. The breeze picked picked up a strand of her hair and tugged at it playfully as she examined the world around her. Though the sun was shining and the sky a harsh blue, there seemed to be no real color in anything. Gretna consisted of land that was monotonous, a seemingly limitless scrub waste with no relief...and yet she chose to live here.
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The low creak of the wood from the steps of the Honey stop brought her out of her reverie. Her eyes landed on Rem. He stood still as a stone, his Moses like figure naturally intimidating, his eyes on Boone. Anna gave what might have been interpreted as an apologetic smile, by anyone who didn't know her. She didn't have an apologetic bone in her body. Anna nodded to sophia in greeting, though she didn't really know the woman well, she knew a wolf when she saw one. She slipped passed Boone with a nod of appreciation, her heels clicking on the floor. Atticus caught her eye, if only because she was bored. She sat across from him with a mischievous smile. It was as good of place as any to wait for Harlow to skin Boone.


Boone found his way into trouble before Anna could blink. Of C O U R S E. Best case scenario they are kicked from the shop, worst, Boone got hurt. The tension between Roux and Boone was palpable, and a darker part of Anna loved it. Lookin' like the worse case it was. Fists flew before she could get a word out. She knew what it was like to see that darkness in yourself, and have it call out to another in such a way that made every blow ecstasy. There was no point in steppin' in. They would work it out one way or another.

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"Well, ain't it a mighty interestin' mornin'" Anna said with a wink to Atticus and a charming smile as if nothing happened. She sighed before she stood and took the rag from Boone. She felt like a damnable mother hen. She touched the cloth none to gently to his face where the blood was running from.

"Feel better?" She asked a bit sarcastically.

"I'd apologize on his behalf, and say it wont happen again but..." She said quietly, attempting to lighten the situation. She glanced at Rem and shrugged. No point in expecting any less from Boonsy.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: M. Boone Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: Sophia Moon Character Portrait: Jacqueline Auguste
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Harlow Brynn Bates

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Temperance wasn’t holding laurels when the dent and indications of discord was on the horizon. Gretna was about to be gone all pell-mell and cockeyed, and what parts of the subdivision mattered, blood or not, could smell the premonition in the air. Sleep didn’t bring allotments of relief or promise that it was all just a dream. Nightmare, maybe, bleeding through partitions ‘twix itself and reality to twist up the possibility of a happy ending and make it into somethin’ ugly. Guess that’s what jolted her into consciousness so late that morning.

Feather weight to the left under the curl ’n tied cotton of a crib shifted, cooing in that familial way, only bred by the creators of something so innocent. Still somehow in her earliest of development managed to be just like her mama and daddy. Harlow with her finger prints tipping an edge just enough to rock the cradle from her own estate of rest or lack thereof, had to wonder how bulletproof she, her loved ones, and those who allied for just cause could make the turn of cards. Couldn’t make the future ironclad for themselves with its seams already bustin’ at infiltration of the Detroit kind, how could they promise it for the kid?

But it was different to Harlow. Knuckle dragging, she swept the dust of sleep out of one eye, murmured inaudibly to Nola, “Wouldna’ been your mama if I wasn’t any good at cleaning up messes. Suspect today will be a better day.” She wanted to forget just as much as the next sad son of a bitch who’d had enough of an outsider or ten. Yet, there was more sagacity in Gretna to know better. To do one better. And that is what would take city slickin’ somebodies by surprise.

The sky was blistered, swollen like it was bound to split ’n leak God’s wrath. Threatened to bust the barrage of cantaloupe clouds and charcoal ribbon that promised rain. Quivered with strokes of lightning, danced on the tight rope of the Holy Spirit’s vengeance which bounced to the thrum of sure war to be dropped on the heads of all below. God… He had his resentment, and entrusted it to the vault of heaven to administer with a monsoon. But it didn’t. ‘Cause it’d already been done the night before. In the clear quiet of night. Now it was time to brace for the residuals; the coming of plagues, floods and parasites. Heretofore they’d gotten more than half of the bunch.

P a r a s i t e s.

A shiver ripped through her, not at the weather, but Graves. How he left their sanctuary feeling unclean. And what’d been discussed in his wake at the odd hours of an unappetizing twilight. What slid between the table at the hands of her husband and Atticus. The shock of apprehension brushed Harlow storm fog gray and Nola’s eyes a peeping blue, only for an instant before she tucked her dainty nose into the crook of her mother’s neck where she was held in her waking curiosity. Like most times, the little thing was too tired to care. And Harlow hoped that it would remain that way, so that her child never had to feel the fear and forecast of strife so close to home.

She was alone with the baby, brought to the window by the tension of raindrops and whining wood frames. Didn’t much like the idea of facing the day, consequences, commitments and coffee, but life went on. Rem was long gone, probably took to opening up without her, taking the texture of her tongue last night, devoid of salt, fixing to give her a minute to sort out her object of how to handle things - Boone, and the plans to keep everyone’s mouths above water. Suspected him to be doing the same with some sleep under his belt. Rem understood her silence even when it was loud in looks. That’s why she married him.

Through the glass she could see the return of Jacqueline, spent of stock of the sacrosanct variety. Paced inside without a trace of malaise, like she was coming home for the first time in years. It’s the only thing aside from the soft breathing of Harlow's daughter that cracked a smile, first one of the day, and incited some motivation to make the bed and tie up an apron.

Harlow hemorrhaged with exhaustion, padding through the handbuilt header, fist in a canvas pocket, opposite open with digits patting the bottom of Nola whose arms went wide for mama’s neck. “Goodmornin’,” came Honey’s ovation to her patrons, beamin’ with not a tooth out of place. Like nothin’ ever happened, “Doubt Rem’s made any tea worth a damn, so don’t worry, I’m gettin’ to it first thing.” Her head bowed as she passed under a ceiling board that had steadily but surely been comin’ undone for the past month or so. Made a note to get the thing back to standard rather than ask Rem as soon as possible. She eyed the counter for a hammer, blunt object, somethin’.

Oh she found it.
The blunt object.
Dumb as a god damn rock.

Felt like all of her went into a rigid straight line when she saw the crooked splash of Boone’s DNA all about the timber tier of the dining room. Forgot about the tea, the hammer, the register. And Roux’s abandoned book spoke for itself, leaving Rem at the plate of umpire in a more lukewarm reaction than Honey’d have. Went all but stark still when she made it to the center of the commotion, Nola Mae now at her hip, wide awake and seemingly complimenting her mother’s glare with undivided silence and a stiff stare. She glanced up at her mama, a golden fringe coming loose from a hair pin probably due to the bluster boiling in Harlow’s skull. Nola supported herself to explode into a baby fit of laughter, clasping tiny mitts together like she could stop at any time and say, “Boy you gone and done it now!”

But Harlow just pointed her toe and sunk her sole into the blood on the floor. Said nothin’. Handed that baby off to Rem unapologetically, and grabbed Boone by his collar and yanked him so hard ‘bout six feet horizontal so that he’d never get a flyin’ chance of finding his footing before her ire found him. Spectacle as it were, ain’t nothin’ was gonna’ measure to the night before.

ImageShe was slight, didn’t quite know herself how she’d get the idiot from one place to the next using her own two hands but was pleasantly surprised when the resounding ‘thunk’ of his body dropped onto the Honey Stop stoop via her own sinew. His teeth were all a mess, suffused from Roux’s conniption. “Whatever ass handin’ Roux did to you was just an appetizer.” Honey contended as her bantam frame shadowed the lump that was Boone’s. Her waders dragged lines in the dirt as she continued to heave Boone well off the property, damn near clearing a game trail with every tug into the grass. Now the rain was comin’, causing them both to slip and slide ’til she toppled onto him.

Without finesse or care she climbed him and straddled him, ‘bout to choke the holy hell out of his whiskey throat. Mud imbued the two of ‘em more than blood or bruise, and when Harlow got a good hold back on the fabric of his shirt, she shook the shit out of him and drove his spine and head into the earth more times than one. After his brain ‘bout bounced to and fro in multiplication, she laid off and leaned back. Breathed deep, told him, “You gon’ act all cute in my house again, Marvin Boone?”

Nothin’.

He probably didn’t have no wind left in him to reply. She gave him the luxury of a grace period, glanced over her shoulder to see if anyone’d gathered to try and put a stop to the seemingly constant tussling of the Honey Stop. They’da’ been a fool to get between Harlow and her focus now. But there was Sophia, cool, listless as usual. Safe from the precipitation, darkness cast up and down all around her. Harlow paused, “Aw darlin’, I didn’t know you were in town! I’m gonna’ fix you somethin’ in just a minute.”

Resume; Harlow grabbed his face so hard, she nearly crushed his mandible between her index and thumb. They locked eyes like this ‘cause he knew it wasn’t over. Least he was smart enough to only gather oxygen rather than expel it when he saw her watching the rain cull on his eyelashes and spill into bloodshot attention.

“You gone and ruined my good apron and made a mess of my dining room. ‘Side from that,” she got lower grabbed a handful of mud, “You brought a whole mess that can’t be cleaned with mop ’n bucket.” Waterlogged slime splattered across his cheeks, and she wiped the rest down the front of him, “I don’t intend to make your sufferin’ as fun as Roux might. You’re gonna’ clean yourself up, then you’re gonna’ clean the floor, and then you’re gonna’ clean this mighty ugly impression I got of ya’, ‘cause you been coming around too long to ruin it all now, haven’t ya’?”

All knuckle ’n bone, she smacked him in the throat, encouraging him to reply quickly and correctly.

“Haven’t ya’, Marvin?”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: M. Boone Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: Sophia Moon Character Portrait: Noel Bates Character Portrait: ANNA LEIGH DECLAN
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#, as written by J.D.
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ImageNoel Bates

Thumb and forefinger dig deep into eyelids until lightening sparks behind closed eyes. Accompanied by a dull sting of something not quite pain, but not quite comfort either. The night is long and full of hushed words that rarely exhibit a literal meaning. Noel would rather be asleep but sleep don’t come easy with a head full of threats and the driving force of simmering anger kept under tight lock and key. He isn’t settled yet, no, he won’t settle till long after the dogs have lost their scent. Still, don’t mean he’s ready to split skin over little boys trying to play the intimidation game.


Protections a way of life, runs deep in the blood of Gretna’s men. None more so than the Bates boys – and, admittedly the resident Deputy, his role in this all much too personal for Noel’s enjoyment. Never once imagined Montgomery would be so willing to topple an opponent by joining in with another. But then again, Noel’s bias paints a light screen of red over his views of the man. Atticus has been a “friend” for a while now, but Noel still can’t escape memories of days spent spitting fire at one another till their gums turned raw and bled. Be it from experience or simple dislike. He’ll trust for now that the three of them are the most suited for this task, and later, when all is back to normal they’ll continue to snap at each other with the ferocity of stray dogs scrapping for meat.

The first few minutes of conversation veer towards the obvious disgruntled nature shared between them. Though, it devolves as quickly into a smattering of backhanded insults thrown between Deputy and Eldest. A speckle of actual good ideas not nearly enough to cool down the heat of the room. Noel’s sweating and weary before long, gone past anger now. He groans, tired beyond belief. But there’s nothing to do but wait it out, the storms going to fade at some point.

“We’re all damned,” Noel mutters, rocked by the sudden, inescapable sensation of anxiety. A horde of insects crawling over his skin, their poison bites made up of every single problem that might occur. Begging him to act now before it’s too late to gather the forces to do so. A war-like mentality, born of perhaps too many dime novels and nights spent with whiskeys warmth. Long before prohibition came trundling in to muck it all up.

To his right, sittin’ stone still with that gargoyle grim expression, Atticus momentarily breaks the mold and snorts. Amused apparently, in a way that’s got Noel itching to start shit before faux civility can dominate their conversation. If not for the girls getting their beauty sleep he probably would have. Wound tight enough that he feels close to snapping.

“Nothin’ damned about us,” Atticus disagrees, “Its them city boys that’ll be kissing brimstone ‘fore long.” The surety of his words is only betrayed by the steady tick of his jaw – poker face may last but there’s always a tell. Noel knows better, knows there’ll be a fight. They won’t all survive it either, someone’s going to bleed before this is done with. Enough of an issue to offset their foundations, keep the ground beneath them rocking with the changing situations.

“Don’t believe me?” Atticus voice mocks surprise. “All we gotta do is take the fight to them, stomp out the fire before it spreads.” He spits, as if it were the most obvious answer in the world. It can’t be that simple.

“I believe there’s more to it than what you’re proposing.” Noel’s no fool, and he wouldn’t peg Atticus as one either. But half the words out of his mouth tonight have trended towards the full frontal assault side of things. Nothin against a fighter, but Noel’s tired of all the hypotheticals leading down the same hellish road. Taking the fight to them without thinkin’ it through is a sure way to bring hell down on Gretna. No. Its better to bite back in a different way. Fighting fire with fire is only going to make it spread. Poison’s what they need, metaphorically. Slow and steady, able to kill without bringing undue attention down on them. Noel misses the days where stress only existed in hard work, where it surely belonged.

“Rem,” Noel would say, not too long into the night, “Got any thoughts in that big head of yours?” It’s clear that any deliberation placed in the hands of the eldest and the deputy alone will result in nothing but heated bickering. A back and forth without any true discussion happening besides one sided ideas and the clear intent to cause the other as much of a headache as possible. As far as Noel’s concerned, Rem’s damn near the only sensible one in the mix that night.

Rems got that look about him though, uncomfortable, unwilling to be nothing but vague. Jackass. Mutters a quick and painless, “Yeah, but I don’t think your gonna like it.” Before he’s starin’ off in the distance again. Course Noel won’t like it. He damn near doesn’t like anything suggested by anyone else, but he’s willing to stow his pride long enough to get some damn peace of mind.

He’d heard Harlow earlier mentioning Miss Moon, knew that whatever Rem planned that it would all start with her. The simple thought of what they could do with her at their side alone kept him from tail spinning into worry. But at the same time, it gnawed at him to think of the repercussions. A worrier till the day he dies. But he’s willing to see this one through, if it’s really what’s going to save them in the end.

And so they continue on and on until the morning breaks and somewhere between A and B Rem leaves to start up breakfast. Noels so damn tired he sags into his, a barely muttered ‘Thank you’ leaving his lips before he starts shoveling in. Half dead by the time patrons begin trickling in and worse off by the time Atticus starts up again.

”Its going to be a fight no matter what Noel.” Reminds the Deputy in hushed tones, “You can’t sit back and watch from afar with this one.” And goddamit if Noel doesn’t already know that. Grumbles out a harsh insult before looking up at Atticus, that Hyena grin of his ever present. “Fightings not the problem, it’s the risk of it.” It all comes down to what they’re willing to lose.

Noel doesn’t got anymore time left for this banter. Leaves Atticus hanging on the edge of his words as he stands, clearing away their dirty dishes before anyone else does. Rems gone out to hash out a plan and Noel’s done with this headache, at least, for a few blissful fleeting moments.

Doesn't take long for the Honey Stop to light up with more noise than Noel's ever been comfortable with. A social man would fare much better, but Noel likes the quiet much more. Easier to think when there aren't a million snippets of conversation to casually listen in on. He'd damn near missed the fight but soon as he slid back into his chair the ruckus caught his attention. Boone had never been nothing but trouble, all of them could see it, but Noel didn't get his kicks off of saying it aloud. He knows Roux can hold his own against Boone's sort, but it still gets his blood pumping to see them fighting so blatantly in the middle of their sanctuary.

"Them boys do anything but circle one another?" Atticus asks with a snort, not bothering to diffuse the situation at all. He could. His badge isn't just for show. But he's far too amused to give a damn. Noel groans, ready to start throwin threats around but Rem's back soon enough, getting the two idiots to knock it off with harsh words more suited to him. "Those two got too much interest in one another, if ya ask me." Atticus hums, though his attention turns swiftly to the Anna Leigh. Boone's shadow at every turn. Noel didn't ask, and says as much aloud before settling back into his seat. Observing the room with a critical eye.

Harlow's arrived into the fray, an angry beauty seething as she smacks Boone around a little. Noel's always enjoyed the no-nonsense part of her. A trait that balances out the juvenile tendencies that still exist in Rem, even to this day. A woman who knows her own strengths and how to use em. She's good for them all, even when they can't see past their own shame. Boone's damn lucky she's not strangling the life out of him.



Credit to - Wiley and CharlotteV for Atticus and Rem

Characters Present

Character Portrait: M. Boone Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: Sophia Moon Character Portrait: Jacqueline Auguste Character Portrait: Noel Bates
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ImageThe Bates boys ain’t ever been known for followin’ anyone’s rules, but there’s a line clearly drawn in the mud that says ’still alright’ on one side and ’you done gone too far’ on the other. Rem’s always known just where his family stood. A little too close, toes edgin’ up right t h e r e, but not crossin’.

Way the world is now though it’s like the muds done dried up and the dust has erased that line all together. Gotta say somethin’ when the people flashin’ badges are hurtin’ more than they helpin’, don’t it? Hyena's dressed up in Lion’s clothin’ but their damn grins give ‘em away.

If that line was still there, he supposed he just decided to stop seein’ it. Turn a blind eye and nothin’ after can be your fault, right? Standin’ there next to Sophia the way he is, Rem knows his fates done been sealed.

”Then you won’t.” hangs heavy between them in the humid Louisiana air. Reminds him of the days when he’d spit in his palm and shake Noel’s hand, knowin’ there wasn’t any goin’ back over whatever deal they’d just made. Even if they found out later it was stupider than shit. This ain’t spit though. This is a goddamn blood oath, and his right hand is ‘bout to be permanently stained red.

Ol’ Marvin Boone and Anna Leigh slink up right about then, like a couple o’ alley cats. Kids sober enough he’ worse for ware, but she seems alright. Nod’s his greetin’ ‘fore they go on inside, almost forgot Harlow called the pair of them on back. Figures they’re about to get the kinda scoldin’ they ain’t never seen from their own mamma’s. Knows Boone hadn’t. That little girl there just needs to learn how to keep a better leash on her pets.

“Might be best to find Harlow and the boys though before we chew the fat on details.”

“Yeah,” he drags in a deep breath of smoke and closes his eyes for a moment. Just needs a second more, he thinks, before they really change everythin’. “Boys are here. Honey’ll be down soon.”

He’s gonna finish his cigarette, he thinks. Wishes he could warn the others that this is their last moment of normal, but he can’t. He’s just learnin’ to enjoy the stillness when a crash reaches his ears. There’s muttered curses, maybe someone laughs, and he rolls his eyes heavenward as he realizes he let Boone and Roux share the same room for a moment too long.

“Fuck,” he sighs, drops the butt and stomps it out, then shoulders the door open. Roux has done got Boone on the floor, leanin’ over him with raw knuckles and fists that are movin’ too fast. There’s blood, and an audience, and Rem ain’t sure he’s ever seen his brother like this sober. Can’t decide if it’s a complicated side effect, or an interesting development.

Folds his arms over his chest ‘cause damn those boys are makin’ a mess, no better than a couple ‘o toddlers. Roux looks up eventually and his fist slows, Rem gives him a slow, small nod. Enough.

Roux pulls off of him like a dog lettin’ go of it’s favorite chew toy, and Boone rolls over with a laugh and blood covered teeth. Honey’s gonna lose her right mind over this. “Clean that shit off my floor,” he ground out. “And off your face, ‘fore Honey comes in and see’s what a goddamn mess you made.”

“Roux hit me first,” Boone declared, indigent, just like the child he always was. Rem knows he asked for it. Begged for it, probably. Too many damn rocks loose in his head. He glances up at his brother one more time. Roux’s is shaken, fingers in Blue’s hair. Stone cold sober. What a trick.

“Like you didn’t ask for it.”

Anna Leigh finds her way across the room with a rag in her hand. Rem wonders how the hell that kid ever managed to find someone to give two damns ‘bout him, but there she is. Some kind of Southern angel, pressin’ cloth to his bleedin’ face. Boone curses somethin’ awful, tries jerkin ‘way from her, but wraps a hand ‘round her dainty wrist like he’s tryna’ make ammends. ”Feel better?” she asks, only to get a ”Fuck you.” in return.

"I'd apologize on his behalf, and say it wont happen again but..."

“Don’t go ‘pologizing on anyone’s behalf, darlin’,” he mutters. “Ain’t no sense in diggin’ your grave next to his.”

“Goodmornin’.”

Oh, Rem’s head turns towards the stairway where his Honey’s just come down. She’s early mornin’ sweetness right now, baby girl still wrapped up in her arms, but it’s just a matter of time now. Them big boys are all frozen, waitin’, waitin’, w a i t i n’. They’re all in trouble now.

She freezes like a predator cat when her eyes find Boone, muscles gone all tense and calculatin’’ mind puttin’ the situation together. Nola’s laughter rings through the stop much too loud for a kid her size. It’s that damn quiet.

He’s got his hands out before Harlow even moves to hand his girl over to him, can feel the storm ragin’ up already. She gets a hand in Boone’s collar and the world unpauses so damn quick he’s sure they all end up with whiplash.

Can’t help the grin that spreads across his face ‘cause his Honey is a goddamn force to be reckoned with and it makes his heart race when people forget that. Watches Boone go flyin like he ain’t twice her size any which way you look at it.

“Whatever ass handin’ Roux did to you was just an appetizer.”

Speakin’ of his baby brother, he catches him outta the corner of his eye, tryna disappear before anyone can ask him what the hell he was thinkin’, lettin’ a Mad Dog out like that. He points a finger in Noel’s direction and gestures to where a blue tick tial is disappearin’ out the back door. “Get him, would ya?”

He passes Nola off to Jaq with an apologetic look as he follows his wife outside, baby laughter ringin’ in his ears. The rain’s started ‘gain but Harlow ain’t slowin’ down none. Draggin’ river trash through the mud, kickin’ and squirmin’.

She shakes the holy hell out of that boy, and he’s holdin’ onto her hands like he’s tryna stay in this world or tryna ask her to stop. Rem ain’t sure, but either way, it ain’t doin’ him no good. You gon’ act all cute in my house again, Marvin Boone?”. Nothin’. Ain’t no surprise that boy’s still fuckin’ dumb.

Honey checks over her shoulder and notices Sophia for the first time, and Rem nearly chokes on his laugh as pleasantries leave her pretty little lips. You can put the lady in the boondocks, but can’t change her nature deep down.

“Haven’t ya’, Marvin?”

“Yeah!” Boone croaks out, and he don’t sound happy ‘bout it in the least. Turns his head to spit out red colored rain water and taps at the muddy ground like he can get himself outta this one that damn easy. “Yes! Yeah. Christ, Harlow, I get it.”

“Come on now, Hun,” Rem mutters with a chuckle, leanin’ on a wood post under the safety of the porch. He ain’t dumb enough to take himself down there and get between those two, but he thinks her points done been made. “Come on back inside.”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: M. Boone Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: Sophia Moon Character Portrait: Noel Bates
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Anna Leigh holds the rag loosely in her hand as she watches the dust motes dance in the silence of the sun beam falling into the now deathly silent building. Harlow had blown through the building like rolling thunder, silencing any and all.

Anna will never admit it but Harlow is something of an idol of hers. Most woman are raised like cattle, born to be bought by some wealthy man, used, abused and left to fade. Not Harlow though. From the day Anna meets her she has something that burns in her like the last embers of a dying cigarettes in the night. That woman waltzes in any room with an effortless saunter that makes her glide like a damnable spirit. Her eyes scan every inch of every room with an intense precision, in search of any threats to her or her loved ones. Something radiates from within her that make Anna want to hang around her. Ugh she admires the woman and it makes her s i c k.

Anna stays quiet as a mouse and as out of the way as she can possibly be as Harlow gives Boone a lickin’ he aint’ likely to forget any time soon. She waits about thirty seconds before she finds Boone again. Poor kid, bad luck followed him around like the depraved stench that clings to a carcass. Maybe that’s why she herself plays at being his shadow. Might’ be that she is a buffer of sorts for Boone, countering some of his shit luck, all the while he is her penance for her own sins.
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“Boone you git” Anna mutters lightly, her concern leaks into her voice despite her best efforts to remain neutral. She attempts to clean him up again. Wasn’ her job really but she damn well wasn’ gon’ let him bleed all over the place.

‘Speakin’ of jobs.’ She thinks suddenly as she turns to the bearcat.

“Harlow, don’ suppose you might be needin’ and extra hand ‘round the stop…” Anna Leigh asks as she presses the rag against one of the numerous scrapes and open wounds on Boone’s face. She has had it up to her eyebrows with his bull shit but damn it she isn’t about to run out on him, not now, not ever. If nothin’ else, she would die a fool, but a loyal fool.

“I need somethin’ other than Boone’s trouble to fill my days.” Anna Leigh says with a small grin, again tryin’ to make light of the fight.

“An’ that handsome Sherriff of yours hangs ‘round here. Its nice to have somethin’ p r e t t y to look at occasionally” She says with a toss of her hair and a grin in Atticus’s direction. Truth be told she is not really looking for anything in particular, maybe a few connections here and there.

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She needs to start putting down roots somewhere, and here seems good enough. She knows she can’t live out of a suite case forever, and she damn well isnt’t interested in trying to start over again in another town, despite the trouble attracted by her accomplice Boone. For some reason, she gets the odd sensation she is going to regret puttin’ her lot in with these folk. She hears her mama’s voice in her ringing in her ears, something about tastin’ her words before she spit them out. To hell with it. This town has been as kind to her, if not more than any other, she is in for the long hall.

She pulls out a cigarette and lights it. She inhales slowly, letting the heavy smoke thoroughly penetrate her lungs before she exhales slowly. She watches her companions with a small smile as she waits for a reply.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: M. Boone Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: Sophia Moon Character Portrait: Noel Bates Character Portrait: ANNA LEIGH DECLAN
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The solemn quiet of the moment dissipated as regretfully as the smoke from Rem’s cigarette; the distinctive crack of bone against flesh ringing out in a hypnotic staccato rhythm that drew the attention of all nearby onlookers like some kind of morbid siren’s song. Sophia was no exception. Slinking in after Rem, she had an unobscured view of their resident sunshine boy doing his best to turn Boone’s face into ground meat with nothing but his bare fists. That much light coming from anyone is bounds to cast some shadows, but Sophia had never realized just how deep Roux’s might go. It was a revelation she wasn’t sure she cared for. Violence is a useful tool, Sophia would be the first to admit that simple truth. But just like any other tool, it ceases to be useful the moment you can’t control it. A Bates breaking the sanctuary peace of the Honey Stop was practically blasphemy. Certainly Roux standing there, breathing heavily with Boone’s blood still oozing down his fist, was not the picture of control.

Lying there in his own bloody spittle, it was hard to look past the embodied wreck that was Marvin Boone. Something in that boy was broken, Sophia had known it from the moment she’d laid eyes on the foul mouthed contemptuous drunk. It was in the way he walked, talked, how his entire being craved pain the way other men craved sex. She could practically hear the twisted jagged pieces jangling around inside him. A better woman might see all those cracks and try to fix them. He had Anna for that. Sophia would be the one to smash her boot right through those cracks until he fractured into pieces she could build into something useful. Her capacity to do much more than that had long since been burned away.

The fate of Marvin Boone became imperiled once again by one of the Bates clan, as Harlow came sweeping in with all the grace and fury of an avenging angel. The boy had scarce been tended by his thankless keeper, before Harlow was dragging him out back for an extended lesson on proper southern manners. The show had moved outside, but a crowd still hovered around the bloody mess left behind. Unsurprisingly, Atticus Montgomery stood front and center, the good deputy doing his due diligence no doubt. The sight spread a rare Cheshire grin across Sophia’s lips, wetting them languidly like a cat licking their jowls as it eyed a particularly plum (and presumably slow) canary. Their relationship was simple or complicated depending on who and when you asked. Sophia simply enjoyed seeing just how long she could poke that bear before he tried to take a bite. Why, was anyone’s guess; his face, his badge, just how wickedly easy it was to make that angry flush start creeping up his neck? Maybe she was just bored. It was best not to overanalyze ones recreational habits.

Currently, their in house lawman was engaging in a conversation of mutual interest with the lovely Anna Leigh. Sophia wasn’t the kind of woman willing to compete for a man’s attention, so with the deft skill of practiced hands, Sophia lifted his billfold without breaking stride. Flirting did make such wonderful cover, and Atticus would know who to look for once he noticed the missing clams. For now though, she was more interested in seeing if Harlow had left enough of Marvin Boone in one piece for Sophia to work with. She waved pleasantly as Harlow paused mid-strike to offer her traditional southern hospitality, then got back to business with a particularly brutal blow to the jugular. The woman was an artist. Normally Sophia would enjoy watching her work, but that boy wasn’t going to be much good to her limping around like a goddamn cripple. She needed muscle, and Boone was hard up enough on money and just the right shade of petrified were Sofia was concerned to fit the bill. It also helped that Boone’s swampy reputation made for a convenient red herring leading away from the Bates if things went south. The Bates clan might take care of its own, but Boone wasn’t family, and Sophia had no qualms throwing his tenderized rump to the wolves if he fucked up on the job. Best he find that out upfront, threats of immense bodily harm seemed to do wonders for Boone’s morale.

It didn’t take long after Rem started coaxing Harlow inside and unruffling her feathers, before Anna made her way to Boone and starts mothering him like an injured baby bird. Why someone so delicate and innocent looking as Anna found herself flitting around with Marvin Boone was a mystery, but it probably meant there were some skeletons lurking about in her closet. Sophia could hope anyway. Farm girl looks and small town charm was one thing, but innocence was a special kind of useless she didn’t have time for. Technically speaking, Anna’s eyes were only for Harlow as she offers herself up, all vulnerable like with just the right amount of need for connection and family to make her an easy mark, but it’s Sophia whose lips twist into a predator’s smile. It doesn’t quite reach her eyes as the cogs start turning over the possibilities of just how exactly she could use that innocent pretty face.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: M. Boone Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: Sophia Moon Character Portrait: Noel Bates Character Portrait: ANNA LEIGH DECLAN
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↔Harlow Brynn Bates↔

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Sufficing to say that fury was a comprehensive feeling in the good lands turned bad was a subtlety. Wasn’t much about Gretna that was meant for this type of disorder. It was a homely place with a lack of hostility, abundance of silliness and sloppy misdemeanors. But not felonies. Graves done dredged it all to hell, cut it loose and played in the surplus of the madness while fattening his own salary. Went and twisted the values and tested the integrity of their small town, and boy was he gonna’ be sorry for that. But first, Marvin would be.

'Cause he more or less wrote the invitation.

Couldn’t keep herself from making an example out of him, and Roux better’a considered himself lucky that the fire in his brother’s wife was slowly sizzling out thanks to the weather. Harlow had unceremoniously walloped on the drunk stripling and made him wanna' cry out for his own mama. Roux got off easy.

Mire around the place was mixin’ and a’minglin’ with all the rain runoff, looking like the swamps more than the delightful nest beside the river. With Boone sunk into the earth, it sure looked a rotten mess. Harlow showed no signs of submission save for the mud painting down the front’a him and breathing’ all deep-like to get her daily serving of Louisiana air. Her hair turned fawn in the dampness, fixed to the clenched facet that had Marvin there reconsidering ever using his tongue for much else than servility of the Honey Stop variety.

Mama instincts kick in ‘fore too long, what with company arriving and crowding around the spectacle. Without twisting her neck a pace, she missed not even one beat when she dressed down grimly, “Don’t know where your parents decided to up n’ run to when you popped out your ma’, Marvin, but if it’s parenting you need, you’re gonna’ get it. Considering the pickle you put some folks in without thinkin’, I think you’re good right here with me. And I’ll tell you another thing…” When she finally got him clutched up by collar and end of wits, she stared daggers into him and murmured, “You better stay god damn sober with that motherfucker walking ‘round this entire county looking for his next promotion. You could be it. And I ain’t gonna’ let that happen.”

With a thrust and relinquished grasp, he hit the wet dirt with a final icky, aqueous ‘thud’. Like the soil was suckin’ and leeching for him before he collided again. Honey looked him once more over. Poor kid, really. In the springtime of his life. Handsome, even, when he wasn’t sporting the stink of rotgut, bruises and bad decisions. Was a shame his mama couldn’t squinch up a bit to give her babies better. But she did her best, and now Harlow was next to play guardian.

Am I?” There was a feigning of understanding but ol’ Boone knew it was time to admit he ain’t had a pot to piss worth reason. He’d lost this one, mighta’ had his fun on the way down with the taunting of Roux, but boy did he lose somethin’ ugly. “Get your behind out of the mud,” she stated matter of fact, like she wasn’t the one who put him there, and only a dumb sonma’bitch would have pointed a finger at her in defense, “Now.” He might have been a lot of things, dumb for certain. But not that dumb.

Cold followed the drizzle, now hitting the brakes like storm was just short of taking down a lamp post or two. Got quiet, with the closing wind and shoes scuffling on the porch. The show was over but the habitués had much to discuss.

“Come on now, Hun.”

Low chitterin’ got up out of him between the scraping of his stubble, and rockin’ Nola with an amused smile. Harlow glanced with her head cocked, still poaching under her apron with residual anxiety and rage. But she didn’t have it for her husband. ‘Cause there he was with his weight creaking porch panels, meaning well with his stock beaming that never got old or less familiar. And she needed him. Loved him. More than ever.

Rem was a curiosity, most folk jus saw him as a bad boy who settled down for once. Never knew how smart and meticulous a man he were when the chips were down. Lotta’ underestimating going on in that town. Not just by the worst of outsiders, neither.

The inner circle at the Stop had a whole ordnance depot as far as the true colors of Gretna was concerned. But Harlow had a special knack for seeing past just the raw color, and recognizing why people did the things they did. Just k n e w the way a Truffle hound knew the difference between blood and bone. Yet she mostly left the fine print and dealings to Atticus, Rem or Noel. If there was somethin’ the three of them couldn’t figure out, then it was gonna’ be a load of trouble for the rest of the whistle stop.

ImageShe’d have to get on with the rest of her day. “You stop laughing, Remington Bates,” she threw a rag over her shoulder, long drenched in the affair as two soles flat and stood up again, “We ain’t living in high cotton if everybody done stopped working and doing their homework to watch this lush make a mess out of my dining room, my porch, and my apron, are we?” She gave him a hard time, and he let it roll off knowing well as she that the pot been stirred and had maybe mere days before it tipped over and burnt the shit out of everybody. “We need a plan, Rem. I don’t feel like playing today, I’m tired.” Moving past him, her fingers traced his shoulder like petals, barely there, and then gone again. Woulda’ taken Nola, but she’d likely have caught a cold from being pressed up against her mama all waterlogged and shiverin’. Last thing they needed was a sick baby.

“Anna, you might as well put that nasty thing out before you black up your lungs and my property. Go heat up a kettle for my Sophia, alright?” With a reassuring smile, Honey nudged at the elbow of her kindred spirit who’d been gone too long. Sure, had a few things to cut the two apart. Like the fact that Sophia had a walk about her that claimed the hearts of men in a way that Harlow’s pie did to stomachs. But one thing about them, the most important of all, was very much the same.

They’d die or kill for what meant most to them.

“I got a few ideas to run by you, Miss Moon, so before your head’s all pumped up with devious ideas can I get your opinion on some things in the back room?” With a restive jerk, she padded into the dining room and towards the walk in pantry. Wrung her hair out as she waited patiently under the dull light of the ceiling, certain that Sophia’s motives were predacious when her eyes caught the right subject.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: M. Boone Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: Jacqueline Auguste Character Portrait: Noel Bates Character Portrait: ANNA LEIGH DECLAN
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There are certain rules for people like Jaq, things ingrained by the hand of a man spitting the word of god while letting the devil guide a belt in a whip-like manner. Nice and easy, settle into the spaces between fragmented conversation. Don't focus too long on any one person, makes 'em real nervous sometimes. Eyes lowered, roaming through tangled legs. To this day the things she could observe from her father's constant ear-to-the-ground behavior stick with her. An ingrained lesson to always listen without listening. She looks up only when a body draws near, a man she could call a friend, if not a form of family -

what's the difference these days anyhow, the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb. Or so some could say. Jaq certainly believes it. Her blood relatives had never even scratched the surface of feeling like family to her.

"Rem." She acknowledges kindly. He looks tired, as if he's carrying the weight of the entire world on his shoulders right that second. She supposes he might be, if she can tell anything by the somber expression he wears.

“If you still the prayin’ type...” the slight dip of her smile is the only indication of an answer, hands clasping beneath the table. Today the wounds she wears are left open and raw, flushed red with infection. A fever in her eyes when she lowers her gaze to the wooden tables and lets the smile slip from chewed up lips. She remembers too vividly, can almost feel the bite of bible verses as they're pressed into her skull with the force of a fist. She ain't got no right today to incite prayer on behalf of friends she calls home - but she'll damn well do it anyway for their sake, belief or lack thereof non-withstanding.

When Rem moves along those subtle notes of tension return. its clear, at least to someone who is capable of detecting the wrongness of a room. A single sweeping glance catches on Noel and Atticus, the easier targets to her usual babbling half-sermons. The Deputy, in particular, has no love for her ways, the uncomfortable and constant stand-offs between them a clear indicator of their acquaintance. So long as Atticus doesn't stumble her way she won't casually slip bible passages to him under her breath, though that's not in the least bit fun for her.

Noel's a different story altogether, the tension between them a matter of communication. A silence on both parts and lack of general interest. Rem is more her speed when it comes to friendships, and people like Honey. Strong and resilient without being overbearingly silent to the general proddings. It's no fun to make light of someone when they don't fight back in kind. But she has no ill will for the eldest Bates and his sullen charms, rather, finds discomfort in the tired look to his eyes and the way his smile is just a bit too soft in comparison to the gruff face its set in.

Something big must have gone down for the air to be this charged. It's not long fore' more trouble comes barging into it, bringing that barely perceivable hint of destruction in its wake. She doesn't know Marvin Boone well, they don't run in nearly the same circles on any given day, but she knows trouble when she see's it. Can't stop the inner judgments from arising in the wake of her forgotten ills. A stricken feeling of knowing her tongues going to slip up 'round him at some point and he sure looks ready to set down the weight of his own shoulders on everyone here. She knows of his family, even if she doesn't know them. Hard to escape the whispers in this place, and really, she's so inclined to believe the gossip that's spoken about the Boone's.

Has to tear her eyes away from his bee-line movement towards the only other Bates in the room, Roux and stare at the girl he walked in with openly. Anna, from a standpoint of someone far removed from the land of self-confidence the kind of overpowering force that demands attention from the room. A beauty, if you will, and if she's strong enough to put up with a Boone then Jaq can see why she carries herself the way she does. Frowns a little though, and wonders why Boone would leave her side in such a haste to presumably hassle Roux. She gnaws her lip, attempts to stop this constant observation. This is what always gets her in trouble.

Attention to detail and too much time spent watching other people's lives around her.

Knows damn well its a bad path to go down.

She sips her drink and turns her gaze to the ceiling. Long enough, she supposes, for something to have gone down. Something that has the Honey Stop stumbling over itself to put a stop to. Logically, she's seen people fight before. Seen people tear each other to pieces, seen people tear people she knows to pieces. And really, that was only in the scope of her own home. Seeing two young men throwing their fists in the middle of a place she considers sanctuary is startling.

Coming up out of her seat, she makes sure that she isn't anywhere within the scope of the fight, were anything to go flying or if they were to get off the floor and continue ravaging the place with their scuffle. She chews her lip, its already going red from the constant attentions of her teeth but she can't help it. Glances to the other patrons with alarm in her eyes. Though thankfully, it lasts only a short time before Rem's back in and breaking it up before too much blood is spilled.

She's thankful, the adrenaline of the moment sparking that familiar feeling of "run and don't look back" in her gut. She can't settle the rapid beating of her heart but she can take in a few lungfuls of air to stop the black dots swimming in her vision. It has been a while since panic like that has overcome her.

It's somewhere between Rem settling Nola into Jaq's arm and her sitting back down that she realizes how tense she is. Relaxes her body as she carries the giggling child, smiling at the babe adoringly. Children are honest beings by nature, still untainted by the world's hardship and utterly pure. Jaq loves them for it, can't wait for the day she has her own - if that day ever truly comes. She isn't so sure she's cut out for that kind of life though, is afraid of what she could become given that stress. Despite all the constant "You're gettin' Older dear," 's that she hears from some of the older women in Gretna. Their concern for her, while sweet, is unnecessary.

If thats where she's destined to end up, then she will. All in good time.

She must be projecting a bit of her nerves still, Nola begins to pucker her lips in that way children do before they start getting fussy. Jaq re-positions her and smiles, "It's gon' be alright," Jaq coo's, bouncing her as she does so. Babbling on in a comforting manner, wondering all the while whats going to come next.