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Realistic or Modern Moonlit Retreats [Closed]

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  1. Supernatural

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Baba Yaga
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Honesty? But honesty is not even that great. Not telling lies was the bare fucking minimum, and it really wasn't hard. It... didn't even require any effort? At least not on the conscious level? The idea was to say whatever came to your mind, as soon as it did, which was the opposite of trying. You thought of something? There, just fucking say it!

Not complicated.

Also vaguely suicidal, at times.

Alright, maybe Lilian... could see how not everyone was willing or able to follow her handy little guide, but she still kind of thought she also had better, more attractive traits than talking way faster than her brain processed things. Stuff like... hm... being good at murder? Having a biiig highscore when it came to that whole genocide thing? Fuck, now's not the time for an existential crisis! It never was, mainly because her life supplied various crises on its own with a staggering frequency. No need to become her own enemy, on top of all of that.

"I'm not complaining," Lilian chuckled, "The job also sucked, so I just sucked right back." An understatement, if there ever was one. Being brainwashed from ever since you understood how words even worked did, indeed, suck, and Lilian wasn't sure if she could undo all the damage within one lifetime. And the... weird, semi-parasitic thorns that apparently passed for a healthcare benefit? Yeeeah, also not too great.

"Glad to meet you as well, Silvon," she smiled, fully sincere. That didn't mean that certain not so pleasant things escaped her attention, though, because they fucking didn't. Point one: those supposed 'little white lies,' mentioned oh-so-casually. As if they didn't matter. Point two: Cassidy... acting not quite detached, but also having that slightly off vibe to her, as if something was maybe weighing on her mind. Point three: the tension. Something had happened between the two, and that something was likely more serious than Silvon would have liked to admit. Call it intuition? And Lilian didn't think it was too terrible, because duh; Cass never would have contacted him so readily had that been the case, nor would she have brought her here.

But it probably said something that she'd moved so far away. Into a fucking war zone, as Silvon had put it. Didn't most people want to stay close to their parents? Not that she'd had a lot of experience in the having parents department, but that sort of struck her as a given.

I'll ask her later.

Then Silvon had to go and be a Dad, and Lilian laughed, "Get off her case, will ya? She's got an eternity to figure it out. And the Tristan debt is technically more of my debt, so I will... start paying that off, once I am not quite as broke," which, easier said than done. Sure, the gym gig was convenient, but how exactly was she supposed to amass literally any savings when all of her time was divided between a) dodging death, b) investigating weird vampire gods, c) trying to spend some time with her girlfriend? And yes, the c) part of the equation was super important. Self-care, bitches! Pretty much the only reason Lilian hadn't snapped yet.

The pyramid was about as extravagant as she'd expected it to be, given Amon's involvement. Which, speaking of: "I'm just shocked there aren't more cats. I heard you two are on good terms?" More than good terms, if Cass wasn't exaggerating. "Say, Silvon," Lilian began, entirely too curious, "Are cats really mean? Everyone says they are, especially during these weird cats versus dogs wars, but... I dunno, I've never felt judged by a cat. They seem chill, to me."

Maybe people were just insecure. Maybe cats really were talking mad shit behind her back, though? But Lilian also couldn't say she cared much, considering how many people did exactly that and how little it had affected her so far. As long as they weren't actively plotting her murder, she was probably fine.

"Is there anything you would like to see, Cass?" she turned to her girlfriend, sounding... well, a little too enthusiastic. What? It was Vegas! And, until recently, Lilian's idea of a wild Saturday night was to sit at home with a bottle of vodka and watch The Simpsons reruns. "I... heard there was a kickass museum with scary shit?"

As if they needed more scary shit!

~***~

She'd never forget that.

What, exactly?

That little... gasp, and the way Antonia closed her eyes, as if maybe looking at her was quite too much in the moment. Of course, Inga knew how little that meant; vampire bites were designed that way, to help mitigate the damage. It was an automatic, involuntary thing. Only an idiot would draw any conclusions from that, and so she very much didn't! But Inga would also have had to be much, much stronger than she was to not store the memory into one of her favorite folders, and to not wonder if she could maybe coax more reactions like that from her, under very different circumstances.

Fat fucking chance.

Unless...?

The balance had shifted, a little bit. Possibly a while ago, without her noticing? And it had shifted again, a few seconds ago, simply because Inga knew now and knowing alone changed things, irreversibly.

It was hard to tell where they stood. There could have been whole continents between them, as well as raging seas; forces so loud that they'd never hear one another. Nothing was certain - but didn't that also beat the certainty of failure?

And maybe, just maybe, Inga was a little excited about that.

As if there's anything to forgive.

"I know what's... wrong with me," she pointed out instead, before sipping on some of that blood, "One of those blessed daggers. I... didn't have time to make more antidotes, so I figured I was finished," part of why she hadn't even tried to escape that fate. Amon hadn't occurred to her, likely because he was Antonia's man? And, until recently, she hadn't so much as considered asking Antonia for help.

The Antonia in her head would have laughed. The real Antonia was apparently someone very different, and Inga needed more time to process that. More time to... sort through her own, sometimes unhelpful, thoughts.

Of course, Amon wouldn't miss a single opportunity to call her a pet, but Inga was too fucked up to feel self-conscious about it for once. "Does he even remember my name? Like, seriously." Except that then, then the dots connected themselves before her very eyes, and Inga just kind of stared, her mouth agape.

"You... ran away from a meeting. For me." Duh! It had been tonight, which Inga had promptly forgotten about, a sin that she felt was forgivable due to the whole dying thing. "Tsk, tsk, Antonia," she couldn't help the grin, and didn't even remotely want to, "All those important people must be very disappointed with you. What gives?"

Almost as if you do like me.

A stupid theory, of course! There likely was another, more plausible explanation, and Inga also knew that her wanting to see it that way pushed the idea to the forefront. What was perception, if not a disguised wish?

But her wanting it didn't make it untrue, either. Reality didn't give a fuck about what you thought, and... well, sometimes that could turn out to be surprisingly sweet.

Inga drank more of the blood, "Regretting this already?"
 
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Lucyfer

My Power Will Grow Like Grapes On The Vine~
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“Do start paying him. I’m honestly not kidding about Tristan being scary,” Silvon chuckled, “On the list of people I wouldn’t piss off, he’s up there.” Silvon leaned against the elevator wall, and though Cassidy was giving him a look, he wouldn’t say more on that topic. Little white lies, his history with Tristan was better left unspoken. Plenty of people’s history with Tristan was better left unspoken.

That he had so much history was a surprise to most who met him.

“Sadly, with human allergies, I can’t have cats free-roaming inside, but there are plenty outside, I assure you,” he said, going over to that topic easily. “Cats are…mmm…difficult. Of course, every cat is different, and every orange cat is a doofus who just wants love,” he knew that wasn’t true, but 90% of every orange cat was a doofus who just wanted love. “I believe the kids have a term…tsundere?”

“What?”

“I’m not even sure, I heard someone tossing it around to mean a person who acts mean in public but is soft in private, or something,” the elevator continued to rise, “that seems to sum up most cats I know. They have more of that instinct to be independent than dogs. They don’t judge in a catty way, but they judge in an ‘I don’t know you’ way. And once they know you, it’s either good or bad – or if you’re Amon, they judge you as a sucker.”

“Do they really?”

“Were you not listening?” Silvon countered, and Cassidy flushed. “Oh by god, Cass, how are you ever going to improve your skills if you don’t use them?”

“I only saw the cats in a very distracted situation, I was not paying attention to what they were saying.”

“Well,” he looked back to Lilian, “Every cat recognizes pretty quick that Amon all but worships them, and they aren’t going to turn away free food and a warm home with all the plants they can gnaw on. He’s the Crazy Cat Lord, I’m just the one who talks to them,” Silvon chuckled, “I told Amon that once. He didn’t seem upset to know this, by the way.” The elevator stopped and out they stepped into a relatively private hallway, with few doors, compared to how long it was. “But yes, Cass, what do you want to do in Vegas?”

“I…that museum could be cool,” she said. Cassidy had no idea what this museum was, but if it interested Lilian, it was worth a visit, as Silvon led them down the hall. “Weren’t you telling me about some new mall exhibit?”

“Oh yes! The art exhibit! It’s entertaining – permanent. Well, permanent by human definitions, could be 3 years, could be 10, I doubt it has lasting power beyond 5 if I’m honest, though,” he shrugged, “unless they keep changing it up a lot.” To Lilian, “It’s an interactive gallery of sorts, but these things only really have value for one pass through, after that,” he shrugged, “no real point in doing it again. But that one time is fun.”

He opened a door, and then handed Cassidy a key, as well as offered one out to Lilian, “This is where you two will stay while you’re here, which, I suppose, we ought to step inside, eat, and talk about things besides exhibits and fun.”

“Yeah….” Cassidy agreed, feeling a bit bad to move towards that…but it was time, wasn’t it?

~***~

Blessed daggers and werewolves! Oh, she was going to have a fucking field day figuring this one out. She’d bet it went back to Michael. It had to go back to Michael, didn’t it? She didn’t think the daggers were being passed out, and it was too much of a coincidence. What werewolves were working with Michael, and also protecting a vampire? What the hell was going on? ‘Maybe they just stole dagger? Or maybe they’re older daggers….’

She barely acknowledged what Inga asked at first, her as she was trying to work out the conspiracy theory, and who was going to die first. “Yes.” She was regretting this. Or, that’s what she said, dry enough to be her usual comment. “That meeting was just for show. There would be a fuss if we just told the vampire hierarchy that the hunters were working with an Eldritch horror, possibly alien, and didn’t have a meeting about it. Or if we didn’t tell them anything and they found out later. I prefer mitigating future headaches.”

Which was why she did this.

She didn’t expect it to pan out into anything useful.

Isolde would never be useful to her or Amon, for one. Valencia would see the world burning and just hum, before going back to her business. Valencia was Antonia’s main rival in anything business, which was sad…for Valencia. Of course, they had two different routes. Valencia could say she truly owned everything, whereas Antonia threw money at people and they did what they were already doing, only with enough money to actually go somewhere.

And Haru – Haru was too much a philosopher. He’d overthink everything. He might come back with some useful theories, but that remained to be seen.

The others weren’t even worth remembering.

“Also no, I don’t think Amon remembers your name.” Also not important in Amon’s world. Inga was just Antonia’s newest pet, after all, and god damnit if he wasn’t going to rub this in like salt in a wound. Salt, with a bit of lemon, and a full helping of hot sauce in her eyes! Because she knew precisely how this looked, because she knew precisely how it felt, and yes, yes, she regretted it as much as she didn’t.

August slid into her drive, where Amon was already parked, and out of his own car. She exited hers, noting Felix seeming anxious on the steps. He came over quickly, not needing to ask what was going on when Antonia opened the door for Inga, “Blessed dagger,” she told Amon, before addressing Felix, “Get her up and in the house, somewhere,” Antonia said, “I need to clean August.”

Now, Antony?” Amon teased, “You’re not going to join us, to make sure she recovers, to kiss her forehead and comfort her as she gets her strength back?”

‘I will literally punch you.’ She did not say that. He would take it as a challenge, and she didn’t have the energy to deal with him. “I don’t need to oversee your work, and dried blood is a bitch to get out of anything.” She’d ignore his other comments about wanting to comfort Inga.

It was an excuse. It was a very poor excuse, but she wasn’t going to subject herself to Amon’s merciless teasing and Inga’s…whatever Inga would be doing, if not joining in to get answers out of her actions.

They spoke for themselves!

Which was really the worst thing, wasn’t it?

Still, Felix would move to help Inga, as Antonia walked back around, prepared to get back in the car once Inga was out, and drive it to her garage where she could clean it. As she’d used to take care of horses and mutter all sorts of things to them while working through unnecessary complications.

At least cars couldn’t tell secrets, unlike horses.
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
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Tristan... didn't seem like the scary sort, but Lilian also knew a thing or two about perception by now, and how it didn't have to correspond with reality in pretty wild ways. "Oh, that I will," she assured him, "Not like I want to make new enemies. The old ones are bad enough." Michael, and likely Deana, now, and... some of her former friends, though not Eugene or Maria. Fuck, I really should call them. Maria's bike remained woefully unreturned, and while Lilian didn't exactly blame herself for forgetting about it, she did understand that it was better to solve this sooner rather than later.

And, of course, they also deserved to know the truth. Deana was too set in her own ways; a hunter, through and through, atrocities or not. To her, the god being an abomination likely wouldn't matter. The rest of them, though? Knowing just what they worshiped could change a mind or two!

(Hopefully.)

The cat situation wasn't surprising, except-- "Wait, wait, wait," Lilian's eyes went wide, "You can also talk to cats?" Two thoughts popped into her mind at once: a) How come you don't do it, then?! b) Oh god, the sire and childe thing IS about being family. It seemed undeniable to her now, with this... hereditary aspect? Genetics-altering fuckery? The comparison was only all too easy to make, even if Cass obviously didn't have Silvon's eyes or his nose, or whatever the latest father/daughter cliche was.

Alright, she is NOT turning me. Never, not in a million years. Who would be a good candidate, though? So far, pretty much everyone else had seemed outrageously dysfunctional even to her, and that... sure as fuck was saying something. Definitely not anything good, though. Antonia is a no-go, and do I want any of what Inga has? Not even Inga wanted any of what Inga had, which didn't sound promising to Lilian. Tristan looked relatively normal, but apparently he also had some skeletons in his--

Am I unironically looking for a vampire parent?

Maybe! It wasn't as if Lilian had made her decision, but it was... probably better to be prepared, in case her life somehow devolved into an even bigger chaos.

No, fucking scratch that - once it devolved into an even bigger chaos. Once was more realistic, given the shape of her future.

"Oh, that could be fun!" Lilian nodded to Cassidy's suggestion. "How interactive is it? I have never been into more traditional museums, because like... I can watch stuff on the internet just fine." Also for free! Paying for it struck her as something a sucker would do, and Lilian Perry liked to think she wasn't a sucker.

They arrived to their suite, and Lilian headed towards the fridge, ignoring the sacks with blood and instead reaching for the Cola. Cola wasn't... ideal, but it was also inoffensive. Also, she should probably stay sober for this conversation? Shit already seemed crazy enough, even without her flushing her credibility down the drain.

"Oh, yeah," she turned to Silvon, figuring he deserved some explanation, "Basically, we've gotten into god killing. Or alien hunting, I guess? It really depends on who you ask, though if I can give you a piece of friendly advice, don't ask Inga. I did that once and she held me hostage on the phone for an hour," and no, Lilian still didn't understand anything. What she'd gathered from that conversation was that Inga had several conflicting theories, along with zero shame about filling people's heads with nonsense.

None of that was shocking.

"We just know he's bad news, since hunters are working with him. For some motherfucking reason! Probably couldn't find a way to be even less ethical about their pursuits? But yes, that about sums it up," she glanced at Cass, "And it seems like you might have access to something that could help us with that."

~***~

You aren't. No, Antonia wasn't really regretting this, and Inga thought she sort of figured out how to tell. How, you ask? By looking at her situation. No matter what Antonia said, she was... well, still sitting in her car. Still heading towards Amon, and thus also towards her salvation, instead of bleeding out on the pavement. And wouldn't it have been the easiest thing to do? To just... kick her out, the second her stupid little comments got too annoying?

"Hmm," Inga grinned, "Guess you should be thankful for the excuse to leave, then, if it was so terrible and pointless."

Nope, still not buying it! Any of it, and least of all the regret. Antonia wasn't the sort of fool to fall for the sunk cost fallacy. She didn't even slightly do the things she didn't want to do, because she was Antonia fucking Lenart and the world was her bitch.

She also... wasn't very similar to Inga herself, which, duh! An obvious fucking observation, but also one that had played a smaller role in her judgments than it perhaps should have. One that had made her take some things more seriously than they deserved to be taken, because she would have meant them that way? But Inga dodged with her words, and, more and more, it seemed that Antonia deflected. Said things that weren't entirely honest, instead of saying nothing at all.

Stuff like the meeting not really mattering. Stuff like... needing to clean her car right now, for reasons?

It was cute.

Devastatingly so.

Moreso even than the idea of her kissing her forehead, dammit!

The realization was so powerful that stopping the words felt nothing short of impossible - if Inga wanted to stop them in the first place. Which, by the way, she very much didn't! "Why did none of you ever tell me she had it in her to be this cute?" Alright, hopefully Antonia hadn't heard that, "I can't believe I'm only learning such important information now! Man, I... I really need to restart my entire brain, this is amazing. Changes everything."

Yes, Inga did seem entirely too happy for someone who was still technically bleeding to death, and no, she didn't at all mind. Why should she? There were few things she enjoyed more than learning, at the end of the day, and learning more about Antonia, her favorite person, was a particularly delightful combination. Two in one! For the same price!

(And she was really, really, really excited to discover more little details like that, because if there was something better than writing fanfiction in your head, it had to be... well, living it. Even if it also highkey scared her.)

"I love her so much," she blabbed to nobody in particular as Felix helped her climb the stairs, clearly hellbent on embarrassing herself, "Perhaps I should be dying more often? But also maybe not, she seemed kind of upset. And the dagger... the dagger sucked, I wouldn't want to die that way. Don't need to... vindicate the hunters, you know? An annoying bunch. No wonder that Lilian quit!"

To Inga's credit, she obviously still was fucked up.

That it only made her even more honest was a separate issue.
 
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Lucyfer

My Power Will Grow Like Grapes On The Vine~
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Cassidy nodded at the query about cats, adding on, “Most animals,” so Lilian knew it was a thing and not just reserved to cats. It was an odd talent, really, and Cassidy had several questions about it, but no one had answers. No one really understood how these talents worked, except that they were usually genetic.

Usually being key.

There were exceptions. Variations. Mutations.

Yet, her talent was the same as Silvon’s. She’d never seen any change.

The commentary on the exhibit was at least better than thinking about the oddity of her rebirth, and by default, Silvon’s talents and his ability to use it t spy anywhere and everywhere he wanted. People forgot about that so easily. ‘I wonder if he and Tristan clashed over spy networks….’ No matter.

“I’m not sure how interactive it is,” not really – she hadn’t been in it yet, and Silvon had made it sound interesting – but she still wasn’t terribly sure how it would be, only that it sounded interesting, and it was something she hadn’t experienced, so why not? Lilian went to the fridge, and Cassidy followed, because she did need a drink, too.

She still poured it into a cup, as Silvon leaned against the nearby counter of their suite, waiting for the explanation that Lilian began. Silvon’s look shifted from curious, to surprised, all the way back to annoyed as Lilian noted he had something of use. “Mmm, so you want something from me?”

There was that familiar testiness! Cassidy sighed, “Are you really going to withhold it if it could be useful in dealing with this thing the hunters have?”

Silvon shrugged, “Not all hunters are bad, and I don’t know these. Well, I suppose I know they’re now an actual enemy as dubbed by one of the ambassadors,” he waved that off, “but what you’re saying is fairly farfetched.”

“I know, and if I hadn’t seen it myself, and seen what it was doing, I wouldn’t be asking you for help. But there is something that Amon’s calling Apep, or a Proto-Vampire, and others are calling Cain, and it’s…it’s mutating hunters, making them stronger, but also making some of them lose their minds.”

“And Lilian could lose hers, I take it, so you’re desperate,” he drawled, and Cassidy felt herself puff up with indignant anger at the suggestion that she was desperate, only because usually, usually, Silvon took advantage of the desperate.

But Cassidy was his childe.

That still made all the difference. “For what it’s worth, I do believe you,” he added, “but what is it you think I have that can help?”

Cassidy took out her phone and brought up the picture of the Hand of Mysteries quickly, and zoomed in on the area of the symbol by the thumb, bringing it over to Silvon, “You had a jewel with this on it – in it, once, didn’t you?”

He looked at it, chuckled, “Ah, yeah. I did.” Definitely past tense. “I sold it, though.”

~***~

Antonia absolutely heard that, but for her own sake, she was going to pretend she didn’t as she shut the door behind her and drove the car back to her garage, where she would, in fact, busy herself with cleaning it. No point in lying about that. It needed cleaned!

Amon and Felix would be left to deal with Inga and her comments, Felix not exactly sure how to deal with the comments. Obviously, he would have to bother Antonia with them later, but at this very moment, with Inga bleeding out? Probably just best to revert to the usual stoic guard and just…help Inga into the house, and into a chair, which was exactly what he did as Amon just chuckled along.

“Some things about Antonia are secrets of the highest order,” Amon noted, as if such a thing were a secret. In a way, it was. It wasn’t as if Antonia let vulnerabilities be known so easily, where fury wasn’t involved. Sadly, she let her fury be known all too well. It was why everyone knew she was behind the Veturia killings, even if they couldn’t prove. How he’d been sure of it, for years, too.

“It’s not a good idea to make her upset, though,” Amon kneeled easily, wrist already opened by his fangs. He let the blood flow into Inga’s wound, manipulating it as easily as humans breathed to purge that tainted blessing out of Inga’s body and heal her heart. “So I do advise against getting yourself almost killed again. Next time, she simply may not be in the mood.” A shrug, “not that I’ve known her to be fickle.”

Quite the opposite.

That was her entire problem, of course.

Petty, yes.

It didn’t take as much work as Amon thought it would. Oh, it certainly would have killed Inga, if left alone, but the blessing left a residual of its touch, easy to remove with the right ability – and wasn’t Amon just lucky enough to have that?

He stood when he was done. “Well, I’m afraid I won’t be taking you back home, Inga. You’ll need to figure things out with your dearly beloved,” it wasn’t too hard to call an uber, but he doubted Antonia would send Inga home in an uber in such a bloodstained outfit. No, he imagined Inga was likely staying, at least until the next day, even if there was enough time to drive her back and get home – or at least drive her back.

Felix didn’t worry about the sun.

“Try not to get yourself killed again tonight.” He advised, before heading out.

“I…ah, I can get you home,” Felix offered, although he had the sinking feeling that wasn’t happening, and he was stupid to even suggest it. Still, what was he supposed to do? Antonia hadn’t given any direction about what to do with Inga when she was all touched up, and she likely wouldn’t be back in the house until much later. The garage was proofed against the sun, and had a path that would keep her out of the sun, all the way back inside, too.
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
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It was difficult to gauge what the dynamic between Cassidy and Silvon was, with all the hints and not-hints, but Lilian believed she might have just witnessed one of the less pleasant aspects of the entire affair. The… sudden sharp turn? Yeah, not great. Not fucking great at all, and she could see the need for caution, as well as the reason behind the not-quite-resentment. “Uh, yes? To deal with the hunters? Because they are everyone’s problem.” It wasn’t like they’d come here to beg for Silvon for money, dammit! Alright, fine – technically, the jewel likely could be sold for a lot, if only because weird fucks everywhere liked collecting weird things. The more useless, the better! So, indeed, they would likely be costing him something. Was it so hard to look at the context, though? They weren’t trying to cheat him, or planning to leech off of him just because they could, courtesy of rich daddy privileges. Rich daddy privileges? Where’s that brain bleach when you need it?

“I mean, it’s not your problem yet, but it might as well be soon,” Lilian continued, without missing a beat, “Because I know for sure that these hunters don’t just operate in our city. Never have.” The center of power was where Michael was, of course; no holy book mentioned this, but kissing his ass, did, in fact, seem to be a major aspect of the faith. Or the ass of anyone who was deemed special enough? Deana had pointed out something like that, about Michael supposedly being an extra good boy, and Lilian both wanted and didn’t want to know what that fucking meant. Still! Other outposts were definitely a thing.

“Let this fester for long enough and see if you like the results. If I know them at all – and I believe me, I do – then they are only going to get bolder. The god thing is… relatively new. Only about twenty years in the making, if our intel is correct. But they have been watching, and they have been learning, and I guarantee you, you won’t like it when those mutated hunters start showing up in your backyard.”

Because, the thing about warzones? They fucking spread. Often, all it took was a single spark, some dry hay, and enough people willing to ignore the fire since, pfft, such a small thing, right? Couldn’t possibly grow into something bigger!

No, Lilian wasn’t going to mention the personal aspect. That sucked, but was also largely irrelevant to people who weren’t her or Cass, or other unfortunate suckers caught up in the experiment. No point in crying about it.

And, well, she also didn’t feel too inclined to open up after he’d pointed out the desperateness. Thanks for that, asshole! Just talk about my maybe-deadly condition like it’s fucking weather!

Silvon might have praised her honesty, but something told her he wouldn’t have liked it if she’d been honest with him right then, instead of choosing to stay silent. And wasn’t that the entire problem? People liked the truth, though only conditionally, when it happened to align with what they fucking wanted to hear.

Which, Lilian also wasn’t hearing what she wanted to hear, “Sold it?” she repeated, somehow not sounding surprised at all. Things going right, in her life? Yeeeeah, not bloody likely. “Okay, cool, not the end of the world. Do you know anything at all about the buyer? Their… contact info? What they might want to do with it?”

~***~

That makes it more fun. Those things being secret meant that Inga could get to discover them, and wasn’t that just the best? A delightful surprise after delightful surprise! Well… no, likely not, since people were people and came with people-like features, a lot of them more annoying than anything else. In her own way, Antonia could probably also be pretty annoying. Still, wouldn’t that make everything that much more real? Oh, it definitely would, and so she was beyond excited about that as well – which, in turn, made it feel delightful all the same. Funny how that worked. “I will try,” Inga grinned, “Gods know I don’t want to make her sad.” She’d already done that, and much more than she’d had any right to, so now it was time for something else. Hopefully? Yes, hopefully.

She still didn’t understand much about this. ‘Why’ was the most obvious question, but far from the only one; there was also the dreaded ‘In what way,’ as in, ‘In what way do you like me?’ Because Inga wasn’t going to pretend that there weren’t many ways to enjoy a person, and that she wasn’t hoping for a very specific, very longshot version of it. After all, Antonia not wanting her to die didn’t mean she wanted her. There were many people Inga didn’t want to die, and she didn’t remotely want them.

She didn’t even know if she liked women at all.

So, still a potential heartbreak? Definitely! Always in the cards, always at the forefront, and maybe even worse, now, with the small flicker of hope. And, yes, there was the impulse to disappear; to keep this, whatever it was, and ride off into the metaphorical sunset. Not like reality had to taint the memory, you know? The thought was somewhat tempting, and Inga did flirt with it as Amon worked, but she knew in her heart of hearts that she wasn’t actually considering it. It would likely make Antonia sad, for one. Inga also had work to do now, both with the god and the Veturia, and she did want to see it through. Most importantly, her staying the last time… had turned out fine? More than fine! It had led directly to this, so it only made sense to stay some more and really see where the path might lead.

Strength poured back into her veins, as it always did, which was how she knew she was okay. Well, not yet – but would be, soon. Some things required time. “Thank you, Amon,” Inga beamed, “And yes, I should probably go talk to her. So maybe later, Felix?”

Antonia wasn’t hard to find, mainly because she was exactly where she’d said she would be. “Need a hand?” Inga asked, feeling… all kinds of things, though mostly self-conscious, for now, because the bloodbath in August’s backseat really was her fault.

Feeling stupid was a close second, though. How had she come without figuring out what to say?!

And now Antonia was here, and she was also here, and they were both here, dammit, but the problem was if they were on the same page at all, about a lot of things.

”Thank you,” Inga finally said, since gratitude was always good, “I really didn’t want to break that vow.” ‘Didn’t want to die’ would have been more direct, but she wasn’t quite sure how she felt about that, and didn’t wish to accidentally lie. The vow thing, though? 100% true! “I was also thinking we could…” What, date? Absolutely, but also sure as fuck not, because there simply wasn’t a way to say something like that to Antonia Lenart. Just… trust her, she’d run the mental simulations. Not a single one of those had ever ended well!

But we really should spend more time together. Not because Inga wanted to, even if she very much did. More than that, it was… to give Antonia the chance to grow tired of her? They hadn’t talked a lot recently, and maybe she was beginning to forget just who Inga was, in the light of all the murders that she knew made her happy.

Except that Inga wasn’t the murders. Inga was Inga, and killing was just one thing she did, in addition to all the other things that would likely drive Antonia crazy.

Wasn’t it fair to remind her? To let her slide back into being annoyed, before she fell for someone who didn’t even exist?

(That she wanted the opposite to happen was beside the point.)

“…Spar some more,” Inga finished the sentence, “If you’d like to? I’m clearly getting rusty if randos like Kirana have a shot, so I need a worthy opponent,” an obvious excuse, but: “Meaning I’m not only saying this because I like being with you.”

Not an excuse for her, actually. Everyone knew, and so there was little point to dancing this particular dance, but Inga figured that Antonia might welcome it, in case she did want to see her but couldn’t find a justification. She… was familiar with mental gymnastics, to say the least. With bending the narrative, so that things didn’t look quite as embarrassing as they were. Like this, Antonia would simply be doing her a favor. A murder-related favor! Better swordplay for better murders!

And if they happened to have fun, and maybe figure some things out, then that would be a bonus. Not that Inga had any idea what she would even do if Antonia reciprocated, but... yeah.

“Also, can I stay for the day? I do live somewhat far away from here, and… I can sleep in the garage, I don’t mind.”

Maybe she was pushing it.
 
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Lucyfer

My Power Will Grow Like Grapes On The Vine~
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Silvon looked less than impressed with Lilian’s butting in. He’d lived long enough not to consider a group of hunters a threat if they weren’t near him. Even if they did have other branches across a nation – or even a few nations. Hunters just…came and went. That was how humans were. None ever stood the test of time. So, no, he didn’t believe Lilian was an authority despite coming from the group.

Even if this god thing was…well, new.

“I think you vastly underestimate Vegas’s ability to deal with freaks of all sorts, Lilian,” Silvon said with a bit of a crooked smile, “and overestimate these hunters, but you would, and Cassidy would. You haven’t seen the way hunting groups wither on the vine as leadership changes over time.”

“And other groups had eldritch horrors in their basements?”

Silvon shrugged, “I leave that to the ambassadors,” he said, “try asking them.”

“Antonia seemed surprised,” Cassidy brought up. Silvon did arch a brow there. Perhaps that was old enough to make him reconsider.

“And Amon?”

“Amon’s…Amon,” Cassidy didn’t really think he seemed surprised, though. “But the gem….”

“Ah, yeah,” he sighed, “Honestly, they seemed like they had an idea of what it was, and I thought I’d get some information if I kept track of them,” Silvon said, “I haven’t checked in on it in a while, though I suspect nothing new has come up or I’d be alerted to it.”

“Your…cats are spying on them?”

“Of course,” he chuckled, “They’ll know where it is, too. The cult moves around a bit, but they know what to watch for. No one really suspects a cat – if they notice it.” Cassidy couldn’t comment, because she was aware of cats, and knew to suspect them of all kinds of shit by now, thanks completely to Silvon.

“Then we should get to these cats—”

“Tomorrow,” he said, pushing away from the counter, “rest today, take in the area, and I’ll see that things are arranged for the meeting tomorrow. Or maybe the day after, if you want to go to that museum, or the gallery.”

“But—"

“Cats are fickle things, Cassidy,” he grinned, “would you like to meet them so soon, without warning?”

Cassidy knew he was saying he was fickle more than the cats…but the cats were also, probably, fickle. So she just sighed her resignation. “Tomorrow.”

~***~

Of course, Felix let Inga go on her own, with no warning to Antonia. It wasn’t as if she wouldn’t hear Inga coming – the garage door had to be opened, and there were enough steps from the door to where Antonia worked that she heard Inga’s steps and her arrival.

But before that, in that peaceful silence of the garage with the cars that couldn’t speak, Antonia had ranted at August in Hebrew, because Latin was a dangerous language when she made sure certain people knew how to understand enough of it to get by. Or some people chose to learn it simply because she spoke it, rarely realizing the variant they learned was often wrong – ecclesiastical.

There was a learning curve to understanding classical from that. Possible – but annoying.

August heard the frustrations of Inga. Of Antonia’s “too late” feelings all around, both her too-late hatred for Inga after she had gotten to know her, and her too-late concern for Inga. Concern was the word she had for it, because that was what literally drove her to where Inga thought she would be dying. Concern too easily became a hundred other things, and she knew what Inga wanted.

Somehow that made it all the more difficult to even consider that path for it.

She was ever-spiteful.

But the tirade ran itself out with the click of the door, and Antonia was silent in cleaning the backseat, because of course she was still working on that, making it spotless. The entire car would be fully cleaned before she left the garage. Spotless. Incandescently beautiful.

Inga would find the garage fairly sparse to how the old one was. All the cars were there, but it was hardly as ornate or decorated. Antonia was still working on unpacking and decorating the new home.

“No,” she didn’t. She also didn’t want one. This was a fairly personal thing, no matter how simple it looked. It was a strange peace.

She probably would have found relief in just cleaning, in general, but she’d always had servants of some sort for that. It had been horses she had to herself. Now cars. It translated well enough that she didn’t let the servants clean her cars.

Gratitude followed, the vow along with it, and Antonia didn’t hide the snort, as if Inga’s vow was still something she didn’t believe in. That would be a lie. Inga’s dedication was proven already. Why, then? ‘Because I don’t get good things.’ Right. No matter how much Inga meant it, somehow, the vow would be broken. Perhaps the technicality of Joseph, but more likely, Inga would die, because that was what would bother Antonia.

No nice things.

And she knew this. That’s why she had no childes. That’s why she’d taken no vampire lovers. That’s why the Optimates had so few actual allies of the intemporal sort. Temporal things could be trusted. Not…well, what she and Inga were.

Because she started to believe it could last forever, when she knew better.

Inga wanted to spar.

Not really – but of course, really. It was as bad a cover as any, but Antonia let her ramble, because it was what Inga did best. Ramble about randos, ramble about needing a place, before she asked to stay in the garage, “Inga, I would sooner put a stake in your heart than let you – or anyone – stay in the garage. I love these cars more than I love Amon.” Which was stretching the truth, but some days it felt that way, when Amon got on her nerves.

That didn’t answer about her staying.

Or the sparring.

“I’ll have a room set up for you,” she allowed, “as for sparring, I do believe you’re a bit too wounded today to risk it. If my actions haven’t proven it, I’m not inclined to humor your suicidal ideations. However,” she never did look up from cleaning. It was convenient, that way. “with the hunter war as it is, I could use the practice myself, so I’m sure we can find time.”

It was the worst idea, because she also knew where that went – getting to know Inga better, having her around more often, all of these terrible things that led to bonds and affection. Yet, there she was, offering it under the same false pretenses of needing practice. Not that she didn’t need practice, but she aware it was just an excuse.

“Felix will be investigating the wolves, by the way. With other clans arriving, it won’t be hard to pinpoint which clan chose the wrong side. Then I’ll see what to do about them. They shouldn’t trouble you in the future.”

They would reconsider, or they would be dead.

Simple.
 

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Needless to say, Lilian also didn't look too impressed.

"So just because I haven't been around for as long, I can't tell when shit is fucked?" A familiar line of reasoning! Almost as if she had heard it before -- which, she kind of had. Deana had had her own version of it, as well as the other hunters, and they weren't even that much older than her, comparatively speaking. The message was always the same, though: 'You are just a dumb kid, so fall back in line.' Which, fine! Lilian was the last person to claim she was some kinda all-knowing sage, but she also refused to believe there was anyone who fit that description.

Not how that fucking worked.

Who said that Silvon couldn't learn something from them? He'd been sitting pretty in Vegas all this time, scamming the shit out of anyone too stupid to so much as look his way! And hey, not judging - but he hadn't fucking seen what they had seen. He hadn't so much as glanced at the evidence they'd amassed, either.

"Amon agreed that they are a problem," she rushed to Cassidy's aid, "So there's that. Also, he's helping us decipher some of the... weirder clues. The brain-melting ones." It was her theory that only those with brains that had already been melted could understand those, and that explained how Inga fit into the equation pretty well. By the same logic, Amon could bring a whole fucking lot to the table. "If you ask me, he seems pretty invested? That's a seal of approval if I've ever seen one." The holy fight against Apep was the main reason, but Lilian wasn't about to discredit her own argument via opening that can of worms.

(Was she learning the value of name-dropping? Maybe! Antonia would have been proud.)

Finally, finally this was going somewhere, and Lilian let out an agreeing hum. "One more day won't kill us, Cass." She didn't think, anyway. Yeah, yeah, the timer was a thing, but she refused to live her life waiting for it to go off. It could also happen five fucking seconds from now, so what was the point to panicking in advance? Might as well spend your time on the earth worrying about getting killed by a car! Or an angry dog. Or killed, in general. Always an issue, when you were mortal. "Let's rest for a bit."

And rest they did, until they didn't.

The next night, they went out to meet one of Silvon's agents, which... yeah, Lilian still couldn't quite believe they were about to deal with cat spies, of all things, but that was apparently what her life had devolved into. Not that it was something horrible!

"Man, my child self would have been overjoyed," she confessed to Cass as they left the hotel, "All the pretty lights and working with animals? Lil' Lilian would have killed to get a fraction of that. We couldn't have pets, because 'too much responsibility' and 'you're going to die, anyway.' They didn't say the latter, but they kind of... didn't have to."

After all, some implications were louder than words. That aspect of 'nobody wants to say it' definitely made it worse.

The night air was cold, though not unpleasant, and the city seemed as alive as any other city would have been during daytime, with streets bustling with people. Was that why Silvon had chosen it? She imagined a vampire might feel a little more normal here, and have that... community Cassidy had spoken of.

All the more reason to wonder why she'd left.

"Did you not like it here?" Lilian asked, glancing at Cass carefully. "Got tired of all the cats spying on you?"

"Rude," a white cat meowed near her feet, though the huntress, obviously, couldn't understand. "It's not spying when you just happen to be around and notice things, and then maybe tell someone. Is your friend also spying on people when she gossips with you?"

~***~

"And you don't believe I would guard them like I guard my own heart?" A bad comparison all around, and not only because of what had almost happened to her heart mere minutes ago, but mostly because Inga just didn't guard it too well, in general. Realizing this, she chuckled: "Okay, that would be a valid fear to have. I... haven't been too careful with it. But maybe that isn't so bad? Sheltered things die more quickly, so this is like, the perfect approach for longevity. Although I'm not too sure if this is true for cars as well, I wouldn't really drive one off a cliff to teach it a lesson."

She was stalling, yes, and talking about all the things that did not quite matter, because continuing to talk meant not giving Antonia an opening to reply. Not having to deal with the inevitable rejection, too. And wasn't that a handy little trick? Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. It'll be fine. Breathing technically wasn't needed anymore, but Inga still did so, as old instincts felt good. Soothing. Lungs were still lungs, and they remembered what they were for, even if they'd become obsolete somewhere along the way.

Just one of the things they had in common.

So, yes, Inga did expect to be rejected. Some feelings being there did not have to translate into a willingness to act on them, and this was... foolish. Everything about it.

Except--

She said we. As in, I and her.

Somehow, that stood out even more than her agreeing. Than Antonia wanting to have her around, and letting her stay.

Inga couldn't quite help the grin, despite knowing it must have made her look like a total idiot. "Oh, we should," she said, "It's the responsible thing to do. The hunters won't kill themselves, will they? And also, they aren't suicidal ideations if all I'm trying to do is go home."

Because, yes, that was the crux of it. There were other things as well, most of which Inga didn't really want to get into, but it was true that she hadn't felt at home since her death. It... wasn't even the passage of time? Many older vampires were affected by that, complaining of the strange disconnectedness that came with seeing your world die a little more every day, but it just hadn't felt that way for her. Never, not once. For Inga, the disconnect had been quick; a clearly defined 'before' and 'after,' as easy to see as it was easy to tell day apart from night. Her world had disappeared in an instant. Now, what had she gotten in return?

A sire that didn't know her, a family that didn't want her, and finally, the cruelest of cruel curses: a shitload of time to do absolutely nothing with, aside from contemplating it all.

Maybe she'd just been doing immortality wrong, though? There were nice things, occasionally, and if there could be more nice things... If, if, if. A small word, for so many possibilities!

In the end, it did cause her to shrug: "But I'm running late anyway, so why bother? The mead is cold already, and it's not getting any colder. They can call me when the apocalypse comes." That was as close to saying 'I'm staying if I can help it' as it would ever get, and not only because Inga didn't quite know how to say it directly.

Directness may not have been the best answer, here. People knew Inga as the definition of unsubtle, but that was because it suited her, rather than it being the 100% truth. Yes, she was that person; but she was also the person who, behind the closed door of her lab, sat in complete silence, adding the reagent drop by drop, and observed the slightest changes with the kind of patience that was seemingly endless. Different situations, different approaches!

And something told her that Antonia was like, well, like one of those experiments where a drop too much could fuck the whole thing up beyond recognition. Beyond repair, too. So, she would be patient, and not push too much, and let her dictate the pace, whatever it ended up being.

"Hm?" Inga raised one eyebrow. "Poor dears. That was some unfortunate decision-making, in choosing to support Veturia of all people. Do let me know the results, though! I would love to meet some family friends."

To interrogate, torture, and probably kill them. You know, the usual family things! At least when you happened to be a Veturia.

"Although," she continued, "I confess, I'm far more interested in those daggers. What are they? I'm pretty sure they were around even before the Cain mess," the stories of them had been, at least, "And that holds some interesting implications. If they can hurt us like that, I would wager there's some link to the god? Shared... origins, or whatever. Perhaps a shared weakness, too." No, Inga didn't believe for a second that something as flimsy as 'blessing' could make her bleed like a pig. Words just weren't this powerful! But mysterious metals could be. "We should totally get our hands on one of those. The war - that screams opportunity, to me. How is it going, anyway?"

Admittedly, Inga had been out of the loop.
 
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