Jun 25, 2019 11:39 AM
Jaime discovers a masquerade.
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Possibility one: they’re lying to her. Possibility two: supernatural creatures are kept hidden by a shadowy conspiracy of elders, who also lobotomize any vampire who isn’t in on it and gets too uppity. Possibility three...

“This is an aside, but the vampiric masquerade maintains itself without blatant enforcement, vampires are subject to aesthetic laws, you accidentally overpowered something magical when attempting to enforce the masquerade. How confident are you that whichever aesthetic force enforces vampiric appearances doesn’t also enforce secrecy?"

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"Pretty sure?"  She does the universal "maybe" hand gesture.  "It - I think that even if we decide not to set up anything long term, we can do one bite now; the magic from that won't be enough to hurt anyone with.  It'll be a lot easier to explain once you feel it, but - we have no reason to believe magic is itself sentient, but it does have....I can't come up with a better word than 'preferences' right now.  The only one I've felt is the one that it wants me to turn into a vampire, but apparently once you turn it has more.  As far as I can tell, they're mostly...instructional?  Like, not doing things that'll damage you.  I'm having trouble putting it into words but it feels like if it cared about secrecy it would...let us know?  Before it hit us with side effects.  Not gonna rule it out, and it could definitely be something like that even if you're not exactly correct, but it - seems like the wrong aesthetic, which I think matters for something that cares so much about sticking to theme in other respects."  It occurs to her: "But nothing like this happened when Hana told me or in any other case I've heard of where people found out about vamps, so that's worth considering."

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Isn’t that convenient.

“I understand. What kind of verification of peaceful intent did you have in mind.”

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"What, with the - ?" she mimes biting her arm, which has by this point been bandaged.  "I mean, you don't have to if you don't want.  I just - thought you wanted magic?  And this is how you get it.  I guess we could - I know I've been using the term 'bite,' but cutting is usually more practical; you can definitely be the one to do it.  And it really doesn't have to be that much blood; I'm only like this right now because we were anticipating using a lot of magic.  I don't have any other specific ideas at hand but if you have suggestions I imagine we can probably accommodate them."

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People spinning off into monologues without pausing to confirm that they’re not misinterpreting you is actually pretty annoying.

“I meant ‘how were you planning on verifying that I don’t plan on using magic to hurt people’. I’m not worried about you wanting to kill me, or about blood.”

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Oops.  "I might have to get back to you on that."

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“Okay. What’s the ratio in your kitchen between priceless artifacts and flour?”

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"One-to-six.  Hungry?"

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Jaime smiles. It’s a little bit startling.

”I could eat.”

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Ari is a little bit startled!  "Cool.  We've got cereal and - " woah she should not have stood up that fast, yikes.  She takes a second while her vision clears.  " - toast and stuff.  And there's probably stuff for pancakes or omlettes if you want to make them but I'm not gonna."

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“I can make something. Lead the way.”

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She successfully leads the way back to the kitchen.  Doesn't even bump into any doorframes, although this is possibly because they all have the virtue of being double-width.  "What were you planning on making?"

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“Tiramisu. With some substitutions.”

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Oh gosh that sounds complicated.  She wishes Hana were up.  "What's...in that.  Or do you just want to look through the cupboards yourself?"

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“Yes.”

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"Food is in that general area; pots and pans and stuff are over there; spoons and whisks and measuring cups and whatnot are in either that jar thing or one of these drawers.  Have at it."

All of the stuff that keeps long term is ridiculously fancy and expensive; everything with a shelf life was bought from the closest grocery store.  There's no ladyfingers or mascarpone, but there is a loaf of cinnamon bread and various dairy products that she can probably mix to a similar consistency.

While Jaime's discovering this, Ari microwaves a mug of water and then sits at the island, drinking it plain and not really paying much attention to what Jaime's doing.

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Ladyfingers, mascarpone, and cinnamon bread are for the unadventurous.

She preheats the oven, starts a pot of coffee, separates the yolk from three egg whites, mixes the egg whites in an elaborate coffee-themed batter, prepares a cupcake tray, pours in the batter, and starts a set of cupcakes in the oven; that done, she starts stirring together the leftover egg yolk with sugar in a metal bowl on top of a boiling pot, combining cottage cheese and sour cream in a separate bowl, whipping cream - 

She finds a necessary (and slightly ridiculous) number of small cups, and splits each cupcake in half, horizontally. The bottom half of each cupcake goes into the bottom of a corresponding cup, a bit of coffee gets poured onto each, and then a layer of the creamy-cheese-custard mixture, and then the top half of each cupcake, then more coffee, and then a final layer of the creamy-cheese-custard mixture and a slight sprinkle of cacao powder.

The whole process takes about two hours, including most of the cleanup.

The end result - which mostly ends up in the refrigerator under the watchful eye of plastic wrap, and also incidentally ends up in Jaime, Ariel, and Hana’s hands, alongside spoons, as appropriate - is delicious.

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Once it's clear that this is getting pretty involved, Ari moves to an adjacent room and messes around on her phone, occasionally returning to refill her water.  Two hours of not having to do much of anything is apparently an adequate cure for her malaise, which is relieving;  she'd been a little worried that they'd hit on some lasting negative effects despite all the evidence that humans don't get those.

Hana comes in at some point; they chat about carefully unimportant topics for a bit.  She offers to help with the cleanup when Jaime gets to that stage of the proceedings.

And then - wow that is delightful.  "This is really good," says Ari after the first bite.  Hana hums in agreement.

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Jaime - who bluntly refused help with tidying up - is also enjoying her tiramisu. This doesn’t have the faintest influence on her facial expression, because why would it.

”Thank you.”

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They're getting pretty used to the concept of Jaime not making expressions that match up with what they'd expect most people's to be in similar situations!  "No, thank you," Hana smiles.

"Have you cooked professionally at all?" inquires Ari.  "Or, baked, I guess would be the more relevant term."

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“No. I don’t cook for strangers often, I just cook for strangers well.”

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"I won't deny that!"

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“I did cook for my girlfriend, regularly; I gain some spiteful satisfaction from how she’ll now have to subsist on fast food and sad pot roasts.”

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"Nice!"  ...Is that an appropriate response?  She hopes so.

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“My relationship with Alexandra has always been made out of spite and distance and petty retribution. It isn’t much of a change.”

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