May 26, 2019 9:04 PM
Jaime discovers a masquerade.
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Jaime notices this conspicuous evasion. Perhaps they’re unusually nice drug dealers; it would explain the house.

“Professionally; I prefer ballet, but I dabble.”

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"Nice!  I actually started taking lessons on-and-off a few years ago, but I'm not really any good.  I'd love to be able to devote more time to it someday."

The cider is by this point steaming gently; Hana gets out some mugs and a ladle and serves it.

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Jaime has never heated a drink outside of a microwave in her life. It takes all kinds.

“It isn’t everyone’s cup of... cider,” she says, with a strange quirk of her lips, accepting a mug. “What do you spend most of your time on?”

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This gets a gentle sporfle from Hana.  Pity that she's definitely not going to be able to dodge that question twice, though.  "Lots of things!  I play the flute and a little piano and draw and sing soprano and hike sometimes.  I ski when that's seasonally appropriate.  And do ballet, as mentioned."

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"I did a bunch of odd jobs for a while, re-met Hana while I was house-sitting for her aunt.  Now I just sort of hang here and help out with random - ow," she says, having hit her forearm on the edge of the counter in the midst of a gesture.  If not for her response, one probably wouldn't guess that it caused her pain; it was really more of a brush than a hit per se.  And is that a stain on her sleeve?  But she continues: " - help out with random stuff.  I'm basically just her emotional support girlfriend, I guess."  She laughs a bit.  Whose arm is bleeding?  Definitely not hers, no sir.

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That’s... mildly concerning. And wasn’t she wearing a different shirt? - it’s probably a sex thing or a they’re-secretly-drug-dealers thing.

“Old money?” she inquires, in Hana’s general direction.

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"Not me personally; it's my aunt.  My stay here is actually contingent on doing all those things, but I figure it's probably better than having to get a real job."

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"People who refute the fact that they're old money by pointing out that, instead, a close relative who's sponsoring them is old money - are, in fact, old money. Social class and resources and quality of life, not financial independence. I understand the distinction you're trying to draw, and that it seems meaningful to you, but explicitly drawing it makes you sound out of touch and ignorant."

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"Oh."

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"...They're not actually related, if that makes a difference.  By bl - biologically, or through marriage.  They just use the term because it's awkward to say, "the lady who adopted me at random when I was fifteen, who now hosts me in her ridiculous house in exchange for me having high-status hobbies, and who I'm definitely not close enough to to call 'mom.'"  ....Also their social circle is just super weird with family terms in general."

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Sip, sip, yep these people sure do have ties to organized crime, sip, sip.

”That explanation makes me less likely to think you’re out of touch and ignorant. You’ll still want to change the phrasing that led up to it, if you don’t want to use it every time this comes up.”

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"The circumstances are a little unusual; I don't usually have people asking that directly.  But I guess I'll keep it in mind."

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“Do. Although I’ve been told that I’m unusually blunt. What do you draw?”

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"Figure drawing, mostly, and some landscapes.  When I have free time I like to do dense patterny things, like, hm - I guess you could call it paisley, maybe?  Just doodles."  As an afterthought: "More cider?  Or would you prefer to get to bed?  Oh, and I forgot to mention, do you want to borrow some dry clothes?  I'm sure we have something around that'll fit you."

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“I’ve seen enough fluid for the day, and too little darkness. And I can sleep in the nude.”

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"...As you prefer.  Would you like to be on the ground floor or one of - "

At this point, Ari, who was choosing cider over sleep, spills some of it on the hand holding her mug.  It's not very hot, but it's enough to be startling and she jerks back a bit -

And like the last light in a dark house being flicked off for the night, Hana's face - changes.  All at once, her features are sharper, more dramatic; her skin is ashen, looks like it's lit in blue instead of the warm light of the kitchen's chandelier; are those fangs -

The two residents look at each other in panic for a few seconds and then, just as suddenly, she's back to how she was.

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- don’t show visible alarm -

- one too many surprising things nothing about this situation makes sense -

- potential danger level: high -

- assess your resources trust your gut pretend like you know what’s going on act decisively -

She takes one last long, slow sip of cider, heart thumping in her chest, and raises an eyebrow.

“You can drop the mask.”

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aaaaaaaa

This is super not gonna work, but Hana's not going to say anything and Ari doesn't have any better ideas.  If you can't solve the problem, ignore it; that's worked out...passably for her in the past.  "Welp, good night!  I'm gonna go run this under some cold water, but Hana'll show you to a spare room and I'll see you in the morning!"

Oh, wait, maybe she can make this work.
Jaime feels a little more tired than she did a second ago.

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Jaime droops, for a moment, and -

That’s strange, normally she can manage ten hour recitals without getting this worn down, one time she went without sleep for three days and remained basically coherent, if much less so than normal - what was she thinking about again -

She delicately raises her left arm to her mouth, and bites it. Just barely not hard enough to draw blood.

Better.

“No.”

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Okay yeah that was a terrible idea; she stops. She needs to come up with a plan pretty quickly, but she probably has enough time to at least ask herself whether each new idea is terrible. Continuing to fake obliviousness: yes. Running from the room: yes. Kicking her out and letting her spend the rest of the night in the rain: very yes, why this, brain, jesus. Apologizing: could go wrong in a number of ways, but not in itself awful. Standing in silence for any longer: yes.

"Sorry."

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“Minimal use of mind control is... decent. Apologies are nice. Explanations are much moreso.”

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Hana has been staying as still as she can.  The illusion is a small but constant drain on Ari's available magic, and they haven't proven that it takes more oomph to maintain animated and complex illusions but it seems likely.  It also seems like having as much power between them as possible right now is a good idea, even if she really hopes it won't be necessary to use it.

Eventually, it's clear that Jaime isn't walking away from this conversation without at least an overview of certain facts, and Hana drops her part of the illusion.  Nothing about her appearance actually changes; Ari's covering that half, but it's much less believable without the aura she was projecting.

"Maybe this would be a conversation better had in one of the sitting rooms; it might take a while," she says, beginning to walk toward one of the ones without any modern furnishings.  "What do you know already?"

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Jaime stands up, and follows.

“Let’s pretend that I know nothing, and build from there.”

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Ari drops the visible part of the illusion once she notices Hana's half isn't up anymore.  They sit next to each other on a couch that's facing a few matching chairs.  Once they're settled in, Hana says, "So, vampires exist."

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Jaime declines to be visibly surprised.

”How interesting. Do go on.”

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