May 26, 2019 9:24 PM
Jaime discovers a masquerade.
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“I won’t even bother asking how you found me - still making threats, Alexandra? You’d think you’d never wondered why I chose to stay here in particular.”

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“A little bird told me. Or was it a rat? I can never tell the difference, with pigeons or bats of any kind. What are you trying to imply, my lovely?”

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“Guess.”

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“I’ll be back, my love, don’t fret your pretty little head about it.”

She turns -

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Jaime shuts the door.

 

 

”I hate subtext.”

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Ari is tapping a rapid and erratic rhythm on the side of her thigh.  "How soon do you think she'll be back, and what do you think we'll have to worry about when she does?"

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“Within a week or two. That threat was vague enough that I don’t think she’ll do anything serious right away; she might leave creepy poetry in places she shouldn’t’ve been able to get to. She’ll escalate from there.”

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"Okay.  Okay.  Um, we have other places to stay?  They're all tied to us legally - or, well, as far as I know; I'll ask Hana when she gets back - so I don't think it would actually stop her from finding us, but we could maybe hop around a bit, buy some time.  - Is there anything you can think of that we could do to scare her off, that wouldn't itself be escalating?"

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“She probably wouldn’t fuck with you if she knew that you had magical powers. You probably don’t want her to know that you have magical powers.”

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"How probably?"

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“Alexandra hasn’t made it into her thirties by being... herself... at unknowns. If she knew exactly what you could do, she’d chew you into pieces; if she only knew some of what you could do, she’d stay away for - probably at least another three months. You’d have to be careful about the balance of information.”

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"And how likely is it that she finds out about it on her own in the course of leaving - " tap taptap tapity tap taptap tap "...presents."

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“Unknown. You’re already pretty suspicious, but even if she sees something directly it’s a leap.”

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Ari nods.  "Do you think she's likely to do anything that would actually end up harming you, now that you have - a wider arsenal of tools at your disposal?"

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“Well, I don’t have any pets right now, so that’s one thing crossed off the list. And I’ll be prepared if I wake up in a Tahitian brothel - do you have any updated estimates on how long turning is going to take from here, once that’s done I can leave and this can cease to be your problem.”

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She sure has some thoughts on several of the things that just came out of Jaime's mouth, but she also almost certainly doesn't have the ability to usefully articulate them right now, so she'll just.  Focus on the most concrete part.  "You'd probably know more about the specifics than I do, but if she escalates at about the rate you say, I expect we can have you turned before anything gets too bad?  If it's at the longer end we might have to use some stalling tactics."

Jaime's pool of magic has been expanding every time she's been drank from, and the feedback it gives has shifted from "You could do this or this or this" to "You could do this and this and this or that and that and that."  If it's accurately representing itself - it seems to have been, thus far - she could probably be a vampire within a month to a month and a half, if they keep up the same rate of feedings.

"Also, um.  If there's nothing super time sensitive I think I'd really benefit from a walk?  So I'm gonna go do that I think.  - Unless you think she might still be out there."

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Jaime’s internal monologue isn’t even going to bother making a dry remark about that, being long accustomed to Ariel’s tendencies - and she’s already been eyeballing that internal sensation, but it’s still nice to have external confirmation -

“I don’t expect her to be waiting in the bushes - it wouldn’t be the right style - but you should have a contingency plan for if she is.”

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"Okay cool.  Start worrying if I'm not back in an hour."  She en-coats and en-boots and heads out the back door.

(Hana has perfect resistance to cold, at least as far as they've been able to test.  By the time Ari gets back, which is in about 45 minutes, she's switched back and forth about six times between feeling grateful and annoyed that she doesn't.)

When she comes back inside (and changes into dry clothes, and has a mug of hot chocolate), she's much less jittery.  She approaches Jaime and says with a determined earnestness, "So.  I - uh, I do think it's probably safest for you to finish turning, but - you don't have to leave, once you do.  I mean, if you really think there's nothing we can do to help, that we'd only be collateral damage, then, yeah, I guess that should probably be that.  But if you think there's a chance that we could assist in making this cease to be anyone's problem, then - I think we want to do that."

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That’s actually pretty endearing.

“I’m having trouble verbalizing my response to that. I feel like I’ve miscommunicated somewhere - I do want to stay in contact, but I wasn’t planning on staying here indefinitely in the first place, and I knew that Alexandra was going to find me at some point. The way that I describe her makes her sound like a substantial problem, and she is, but substantial problems - aren’t always your first priority? My ideal world doesn’t include Alexandra, but she isn’t worth risking other people for.”

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"Sure.  I just - it kind of sounded like you thought we'd want to kick you out, now that there's - her.  And I wanted to make sure you knew that wasn't the case."

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“I appreciate it.”

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"No problem, boblem."  She sips her second hot chocolate.  "Oh, and I wanted to talk about general strategy stuff.  Like, if you think there's certain things we could do that would buy us a lot of time, then maybe we should do those proactively?  But also I think we probably all want to minimize the chance that she'll decide to come after me and Hana after you've left, and I'm not sure how likely various things are to do that."

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“I am not nor have I ever been a member of the boblem party. Alexandra ordinarily respects people clash with her for a while and then give up, although sometimes she gives them a send off present... no strategies immediately come to mind. And on reflection I’m concerned about her use of the phrase ‘I can never tell the difference, with pigeons or bats of any kind’. It’s suggestive, in context.”

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