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Nicanora
Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm


Joined: 09 Dec 2015
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 2015 2:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

22 December 2015

Two weeks had flown by. Another night had been spent drinking cheap beer at a bar full of semi-familiar faces, taking in introductions and cracking jokes at her own expense and perhaps a little at the expense of Will, who had returned for yet another evening of torment. Poor guy, he couldn't catch a break. He had come in on the tail end of an encounter with, as Nica remembered it, a bus wreck, a gang war, and a fire breathing alligator. Nica was no stranger to odd but that was quite the shift. Will was nice though, sweet without being creepy, pleasant to any who spoke to him, easy going and laid back. Not her type in the least, if she were being honest. But she enjoyed his company and their simple banter, so she welcomed the distraction that he provided.

Distractions. They held her over until she could arrange a Portal back to Miami. Wednesday evening would find her dancing the evening away with a cute EMT at a station holiday party, but Monday night found her chasing a wisp of a blonde for the sake of a sleep over. Like Will, Taneth was sweet. Unlike Will, as far as Nica had seen, Taneth had a heaviness in her heart that shaded her view of the world. For all the joy she brought others, it seemed almost as if she didn't think she could have the same. It made Nica sad to see but she didn't dare impose and pry. Privacy wasn't a tenet she was keen on infringing on. As Nica returned back to the inn the next day, she found herself thinking about the last time she'd had any sort of platonic slumber party. Sure Nica had had several guys, and even a few ladies, stay the night over recent years but it wasn't without more sinful intent.

Christopher had been her last. The thought shouldn't have come as a surprise to her, that he would have been the last person she trusted enough to just hang out without expectations. Cotton pajama pants and messy buns could be worn without fear of judgment while they played video games and watched movies. Though he lived only a block away, it had been over a year since the last time they'd had a night in like that. Right around Christmas, if she remembered right. As a group, they had tracked down a warlock who had been summoning demons and setting them on his enemies one by one in a series of grisly murders that were beginning to have the local authorities asking all the wrong questions. It was Christopher and Nica along with the Blackwater twins, Lidia and Daniel, and Lidia's boyfriend Silvano Marcaluz. The five of them had fought together many times and had been training together for the better part of a decade save for Silvano, who had only joined their group in the past two years. He came to Miami from the Lisbon Institute but he was a capable warrior so he was a welcome addition. Regardless, the quintet had blown through the pack of Achaieral demons, wrangled the rogue warlock, and went out to celebrate over dinner and drinks before Christopher and Nica had returned to her apartment.

"Lidia and Silvano seemed weird tonight, don't you think?" Nica said through a mouthful of popcorn as she settled on the black leather couch and kicked her legs up across Christopher's lap.

"Weird? I didn't notice anything weird," he said too quickly to have been a casual write off of the strangeness Nica had noticed. Christopher glanced away and flipped the input on the flat panel television, clicking over to the bluray menu.

"Mentiroso!" Nica called him out, jabbing him in the side with a finger. "You totally noticed! Admit it!"

"Ah, Nic, stop that!" He twisted away from her bony digits and sharp fingernails, smacking at her hand with the remote. "Maybe they were a little weird, okay?"

"Knew it. Don't often see Silvano miss his mark like that and the way Lidia freaked out on him, wow," she said, sitting back smugly. One of the Achaieral demons had nearly taken Christopher's head off when Silvano's chakram had gone wide. Only by the grace of the Angel did Christopher recover quickly enough to take the demon down himself. She looked aside to her
parabatai who looked sheepish. "Chris?"

"They've been having some issues," he mumbled. Nica's brows rose and she turned to face him more, propping her elbow on the back of the couch.

"Oh really? Spill it!" Drama gossip, she was always down to hear it.

"It's not really my place, just trust me. Give them some space, they'll work it out," he answered evasively. Nica rolled her eyes and settled back in.

"Boring," she muttered. Christopher chuckled and clicked play, ending the conversation there.


She missed it, the stupid conversations over microwave popcorn and cut rate movies. She missed him, her friends, her life. As she got back to her room, she tugged free the envelope that she had collected from her mailbox the night before. Her thumbnail slipped into the flap and tore it open. Inside, a note and a thin stack of bills, easily converted to silver. Pocketing the money, she unfolded the note and looked it over.

enjoy your hot date
stay out of trouble
talk soon


Nica stared. Not at the words but rather the stationary the note had been written on to begin with. Only partially visible, the logo for the Miami Majestic Hotel was just able to be made out at the top of the torn paper. He had been careless in covering his tracks.

But now she had something to go off of.
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Nicanora
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2015 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

23 December 2015

Rhydin was quiet in the way that cities got just before dawn. Many of the bar flies had passed out for the night and the working class wasn't quite ready to rise for the day. This deep into winter, the sun wasn't all that keen on rising either, draping the landscape in plums and blues while it slumbered just a little longer. Nica though, she had been up for most of the night. Three or four hours of sleep was more than enough to keep her running when she factored in the Stamina rune Marked over the left side of her chest. It even made the carried coffee wholly unnecessary as far as caffeine goes. But it was hot and the dark roast smelled divine so she had taken a cup from the diner to go. Stepping out from the fluorescent glow of the twenty-four hour restaurant, the sharp bite of winter caught her lungs on the first inhale. She tugged her jacket zipper up a little further and set off.

She had just passed the wall that divided the market area from Dragon's Gate when a scream cut through the early morning air. Nica flung a look around to find the source and took off toward the narrow street pinpointed as such. When she turned the corner, she was met by a wall of darkness. The buildings weren't tall enough here to still cloak the street in shadow and even the streetlamps weren't visible through the blackness. The beating of leathery sounding wings confirmed her suspicions as another scream was let loose on the other side of the wall. The nephilim could have walked away. After all, the Accords didn't seem to extend their terms to this world. She was under no obligation to intervene but her conscience wouldn't permit such a thing. Her next move served a two fold purpose. Throwing the full cup of hot coffee emptied her hands and it also got the demon's attention.

"Hey, a*shole, isn't it a little early in the day to be messing with little girls?" Nica grinned as it turned around. She'd had enough time to free the dull, blunt edged tube from the inside of her jacket, one of two. The other was still in her room at the inn but one would do. Just beyond the turned demon, a young woman only a few years younger than Nica was sprawled on the ground, a trio of gashes trailing from her right shoulder to the lower left side of her abdomen. They looked shallow enough that the woman wasn't in danger of bleeding out just yet and she took the opportunity to skitter backwards like a crab. Nica's grin met the woman's wild eyed look of horror just as the demon started toward the Shadowhunter. It loosed a screeching squawk, avian in nature even if the demon looked nothing like the birds it sounded similar to. As if made of the shadows themselves, no light reflected off of the creature. It was broad, taking up almost half of the street's width. Two yellow eyes peered out at her from the darkness.

"Remiel," she murmured, bringing life to the seraph blade. From the cylinder shot a blade of light, forcing the street's shadows to retreat from its glow. In her right hand, she had pulled a wickedly curved knife, almost ten inches in length. It paled in comparison to the seraph blade but she was always better when working two handed. The demon's yellow eyes widened and it glided backwards toward the retreating woman it had attacked.

"Run, chica!" Nica shouted, chasing after the demon as it went after the unarmed woman instead. As she yelled at the girl, she was dismayed to find that the shadow in front of her split in two. Though half the size, both of the newly formed beings bore the same inkspill form and goldenrod eyes. One continued its progress after the injured woman while the other met Nica midway. Up close, it was less shadow and more abyss shaded black, the creature having a tangible form that she could make out. Two arms, a chitinous torso and two thick legs. Where its hips should have been, two thick curved stingers were at just the right height to pierce and hold its prey and keep it from struggling. She barely ducked a swipe of a black clawed hand and slashed at the dark pooling around her with the brightly singing angel blade. Another screech filled her ears as the demon brought a hammer like blow down on her from above. It caught her in the shoulder and sent her crashing to the cobblestones but she swiftly recovered, rolling to one side and throwing the knife at just the right time that it caught one of the stingers. A gush of black ichor spilled on the ground and over Nica's boots, hissing against the leather. The stinger spit more acid at her and she had to roll the opposite direction to keep from taking the brunt of it. It gave the demon enough time to meet her roll with a stomp of its stump like foot. Connecting with her ankle, she felt her flesh give under the weight but bit back a cry. The demon, something similar to those she had fought in years past but not quite the same, loomed over her but as it bent down to try and pin her with its stingers, she shot upwards and drove the seraph blade through the demon's center of mass. It crowed once more and slumped onto the blade, dissolving into a mess of ichor and acid. Nica barely had time to get out from under it before it rained down on her.

Frantically, she looked down the street only to find the girl alone. The other half of the demon had disappeared when Nica killed the first, either that or flown away but a quick scan of the sky proved clear as far as the eye could see, the stars winking down at them as if to say they would never tell. Her ankle protested the weight she put on it but she limped over to the girl even as she drew her stele from her inner pocket.

"You alright?" Nica asked, pulling the hem of her jeans up out of her boots to expose her purpling and swelling shin. The girl, whose wounds seemed to be closing of their own accord, gave her a numb nod.

"What was that?" She asked, her voice hoarse. Probably from all of the screaming she had done. Nica groaned a little and took the stele to her flesh, drawing the iratze rune that glowed golden before sinking into her skin. The relief wasn't immediate but she could feel the healing Mark begin to do its job.

"Demon of some sort, I'm guessing," Nica answered, offering the girl a hand up. She took it and when she got to her feet, she dusted herself off and touched gingerly to her chest.

"It tried to get me with those...stingers. When it couldn't, it ripped me right open," the girl murmured.

"It's gone now. Do you want me to walk you to a clinic or something?" Nica asked tiredly. The girl shook her head.

"N-no, you've done enough. Thank you," she said, bowing her head and backing away from the nephilim. Nica watched her for a few moments as she hurried away, sighing and turning to continue the way she had come from.

"Was really looking forward to that coffee too," Nica muttered.



((Inspired by the Midnight Sun. Polar Night playable))
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Nicanora
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2015 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

23 December 2015

For all of his downplayed charm, the start of the evening said very plainly that Will wasn't entirely within his element.

Tossing a too-small closet had ended with an ensemble that included the nicest pair of black Levis he owned (no fraying or holes or anything), a soft blue-gray button down that just barely qualified as dressy, topped by a borrowed black vest, and the tie from his dress uniform. It suited him (no pun intended) just enough to leave him feeling comfortable in his own skin and, he thought, to pass whatever dress code requirements that might be enforced.

His RFD-EMS coat sort of ruined the effect, though.

There was a coy smile when he met his evening companion on the back stairs of the Inn, just shy of her room, bold enough to present her with a single lily that had been trimmed short so that he could slip it into her hair unasked. I'll take it back later, he teased her, so that I can tell the guys at the station later that I deflowered you and not feel like I'm a liar.

It set the tone for the most of the evening, from the less than inspiring ride in his jeep to the massive Old Market station house, so the first few quips (at her expense and his) when they arrived arm-in-arm awkwardly to more than a few stares. For all of his talk of showing her off, he was a gentleman (though he still introduced her as Fanny), abandoning her only once for an extended bathroom break (damn that taco dip) and leaving her to here a few funny and sometimes off stories of Old Market's 'Iron Will' of Station 316. Sometimes the tones were respectful, almost casually venerable, and at other times disconcerted.

By chance, his return coincided with the more insistent start of the music, with more than one wife and girlfriend cowing their men with a look until bodies finally started moving.

Even a world away from home, Nica was always prepared for a party. Just as she had told him, she was black clad from shoulder to mid thigh, breaking for an ample amount of tanned leg before culminating in sky high heels to match the dress. To mute the ensemble's sparkle, she had thrown on a blase cardigan in a pale shade of brown. For all the good that the Thermis rune on her lower back did, Rhydin's winter chill was none too welcome and the soft cashmere pulled double duty by hiding away a number of her secrets, ones carried no matter the occasion. While she had honestly prepared herself to receive a bouquet of venus flytraps, she was quite relieved to accept the single lily, regardless of the groan worthy remark that came with it.

While the city was big, Old Market was among the nearest districts to Dragon's Gate and the Inn other than New Haven. She had spent the better part of two weeks exploring the urban terrain and found a certain amount of charm in the marketplace district that she was more than willing to revisit. He had prepared her ahead of time for the idea that that his co workers thought him odd, so the stares they garnered as they entered only had her grinning further. She took a strange amount of pleasure in seeing them gawk at the way her arm wound around his to tuck her in at his side with far more familiarity than should have been built from their short acquaintance. An expert at mingling and blending in, it was with ease that she survived his lengthy departure. That 'Iron Will' had someone to bring to the party, especially when they'd likely not heard her mentioned before, was a surprise that bled into rarely shared stories. Either to impress or to talk for the sake of talking to the leggy Spaniard, Nica took each one as an opportunity to know more about Will since he was so adept at dodging the subject of himself. Little bits, tiny tidbits that were taken and stored away, she would piece them together at a later time if she found the motivation to do so. But as he returned, she broke away from his coworkers with a practiced smile and laugh so she could meet him midway.

"See, now this is better than awkward conversations and stale chips right? Come on, you owe me a dance," she spoke up loud enough to be heard over the growing swell of the song, offering him the upturned palm of a hand Marked on the other side, already stepping toward the station house's makeshift dance floor.

"I know," he mumbled, wearing equals part reservation and amusement in an expression that seemed decidedly his. "No escaping a deal with the devil...ess?"

He took her hand in his, rougher digits dancing across the back of her hand to cup it, drawing her along with him to take the lead and perhaps deny her the enjoyment of dragging him into place. Initiative was something Will had in spades, much to the chagrin of his peers and superiors, and it was on display in muted fashion when he made a place for them between the other pairings and drew her in closer. The music was loud enough to enjoy, but allowed for a great many a conversation to continued uninterrupted through the all the moving.

"I'm passable at this, at best," he confessed, beginning to move to the beat. "But it's worth the company, maybe," A small grin was left half formed.

"I should claim to be offended by that or something, but I think I'll take it as a compliment," she said with a grin that took up plenty of space in a slash of white framed with red, stark crimson giving a pop of color against a backdrop of black and tan. Hand taken, she soon found herself passed up instead of leading which only further cemented the open smile. Seldom was Nicanora a follower rather than a leader but this time around she made an exception for rough hands that slid over barely there silver scarring, one of a few clues that gave away the truth that she wasn't the delicate thing her appearance made her out to be.

"Well lucky for you, I'm close to phenomenal," she met his confession with pomp and ego, unabashed enough to admit that when she was good at something, she was really good. Letting him lead, she gracefully moved with him. "Maybe? So it's still a gamble then. And what would make it a sure deal?"

"Pretty sure I got the better end of the deal," Will mused.

He didn't touch after drawing her out onto the dance floor, finding his comfort in the close proximity without the more forward invasion of space. For the most part, his gaze stayed steady on her face and his attention to the conversation, but even the eyes of a good man strayed, whatever he said. It was Nicanora's fault, her and that dress.

"I'll tell you when I figure that out."

"Maybe, maybe not," Nica pulled a smirk to match. Even if she wouldn't admit it out loud, she was grateful for the distraction provided by the evening. Movement came easily in a magnetic give and take that likely would have clicked no matter her dance partner. The languid finesse of each twist and sway spoke of endless nights doing much the same in sweltering clubs full of writhing bodies in locales far more exotic than even Miami could offer. This...wasn't exactly a club and the sea of people around them wasn't made up of your average party goer, but that didn't nudge her to tone it down. Not in the least, especially considering she so simply continued the conversation between them.

"Oh so indecisive. I'll have you know that I'm currently saving you from a wonderful time holding up the wall over there with Halitosis, Fedora, and Dollar Store Lex Luthor." She tipped her head to indicate a trio of wallflowers, glumly sipping punch and quietly conversing over Fedora's mother's hip replacement and DSLL's failed mail order marriage. "Certainly one dance is worth avoiding that?"

"Hey, Fedora's not a bad guy." Will swallowed a laugh. "He was my T.O. when I first joined the department, for what it was worth."

Will's head tilted to the side and he regarded her with a growing amusement. "Well, if you're expecting me to milk it for all it's worth..." He reached for her then, his hands finding her hips and drawing her in until they were almost touching.

"He's like forty and still lives with his mother, I'm sure he's absolutely charming," she said in a tone dryer than the Sahara. "What's a teeoh?"

An easy step no matter the gravity defying heels, she was pulled just so to make it easy for her to walk the fingers of her left hand up his arm and to his shoulder where they settled tentatively. "Now it's a matter of you milking it? And here I thought you were the one doing me a favor by begrudging me a song or two of middle school stand-and-sway."

"Training officer," he replied. "Not that I needed much of it. I've got better credentials than ninety percent of the guys in this room." From another man, it might have been boastful; from Will, it was a simple statement that was delivered with a tongue flavored in simple fact and, surprisingly, some sincere humility. "But it's not like they can vet everyone who ends up here, on purpose or by accident."

She teased with her words, but if it was meant to push him... it worked. Will snorted and laugh and gave another short tug, putting them chest to chest and nearly nose to nose. This close, his eyes were the color lazy summer afternoon, a deep blue clouded sparsely in white. "Okay, okay. You get the high school treatment..."

She thought about it for a few moments as he talked. The sheer number of new arrivals had to be overwhelming for any place of employment let alone somewhere requiring at the very least a background in the field. In the Mundane world, they used background checks and social security numbers while the Shadowhunters were a little more liberal with their hiring practices so long as your track record proved your point. Regardless, there were always the growing pains of settling into a new job. She hummed a note of agreement, nodding along the way. The short pull to meet him tugged free a spill of laughter, enough to get them a few sidelong looks from other nearby pairs.

"Oh, I've been upgraded to high school now?" She said through the tail end of the laugh and snaked her arms up around the back of his neck. At this proximity, it was easy to pick up notes of honey and peppermint laid over the faintest touch of something floral, likely freesia. Pleasant even if it was a bit of a plain trait when compared to the rest of her. Dark of skin tone, hair and eye, each seemed touched by gold when the light hit just right, whether it was the contrast of Marks against her skin, the subtle copper-gold shot through at intervals through her hair, or the tiniest glimmer set over the light brown of her irises. "You could be lying and I'd never know though. Never did the regular high school thing, you know?"

One didn't ask, the other didn't tell. It was a subtle game the pair played, giving a little, but never enough. Comfortable in their secrets or perhaps just the enjoyment of being coy? Her laughter produced another smile, downplayed but genuine, his eyes danced with unspilled laughter.

"You have," he conceded with a nod. "But that also means you might be subjected to the revisitation of hormones and that dress is scandalously short where not-so-sneaky groping hands are concerned. High school was... high school. I'm better adjusted to the world now than I was then. They make it hard to find yourself."

Discretion was the name of the game more often than not. Considering the looks his coworkers had given them and the stories they had told, she didn't think it prudent to question him on his life or credentials in front of them all as if it were an interrogation rather than some semblance of a date. That said, she liked that he didn't pry. People here were good like that it seemed.

"Find me a woman at any club in Miami Beach who says they haven't been groped while out dancing and I'll find you a liar. Though I urge caution, never know what danger lurks ahead," she said ominously before promptly breaking into another laugh, this one softer, closer to a giggle with a little more melody and a little less air. "Is anyone well adjusted in their teenaged years, really? Nobody honestly expects you, general you, to find yourself before the age of like...twenty five."

"Twenty." It was less of an argument (none of one at all, really) and more the offer of another puzzle piece, a statement of fact without any history openly offered. The devil was in the details, as the saying went, and Will didn't appear entirely ready to invite anyone to Sunday supper with his.

"Twenty?" She repeated, her brows rising. "Mierda, so I should have long since had my ducks in a row by now. Here I thought I had a little bit longer." Though she tried to sound troubled by this, it mostly came out teasing. "And here I am dancing instead. That won't do." The initial arch of her body looked as though she was on the verge of pulling away, a viable threat considering her words. It was short lived regardless of his reaction time and the brief intermission in the close pressed dancing was over before either of them knew it.

It was an opening, albeit a small one. She stepped away, but when she stepped back, it was right into the extended rise of a leg, half tripping her in one fluid motion to draw her down into a dip. Will, it seemed, had some moves. "Gotta let all the stress out somewhere, don't we? Get rid of all that tension."

It was the first hint he gave about his awareness of anything regarding her subtler nature, delivered with some small level of empathy. Or sympathy. Which, was hard to say.

Nica was not the sort to fall. Not just in some philosophic or metaphoric sense of the word, but rather the permanent Equilibrium rune on her left thigh made so that such minor trifles like tripping over something seldom led to a tumble. Between the minor augmentation and the quick clasp of her hands at the material of his vest, she knew she wouldn't fall. The drop of her stomach came up short when the dip met the valley's extent of his reach and in spite of herself she laughed. Short, sweet, like chimes caught by a wisp of a breeze and silenced only by their own stilling.

"Exactly," she answered softly. Gone was the teasing of moments before, replaced instead by an unspoken appreciation of the sentiment, however fleeting it may have been. "And here you try to act like there's no good reason to dance." Right back to it, of course.

"The more you think I won't," he intoned secretively near her ear. "The harder you'll try to get me to." If it was a secret, Will made a show of giving it up far too easily, drawing her back into a slow half spin the put her back against his chest for the amount of time it took them to dance out a few long beats, before he set them face-to-face again.

And in the next moment, he ruined the facade. "Was that convincing?"

It could have been a secret, it could have been an observation. She played it off with a coquettish smile as her grip on his vest loosened when he uprighted her. The half spin wasn't enough to flare the edge of the dress but it did kick up the tail of her cardigan only for it to settle between them as he drew her back against him. Spins, half or otherwise, were graceful even if she was on her toes and she soon found herself facing him once more.

"You almost had me fooled. And I think," she said, leaning close for a conspiratorial whisper, "that you've definitely got the rest of them fooled." People were staring at Iron Will. Nica was blaming him obviously.

"What's one secret? They don't get to know everything." It was as innocent as innocent got with Will, which was to say frustratingly hard to pinpoint. One could almost believe, whatever those secrets were, that he hid them in plain sight. For the moment, he seemed untroubled.

DSLL wasn't as impressed. "Look at 'im. Devil's own luck, if I didn't tell ya before. Sould 'is soul for it, Sol, or I'm a gay penguin." It dissolved in a hushed murmur between the Wallflower trio, but if the subject of discussion had heard, he gave no indication.

Frustratingly hard to pinpoint was an apt way to describe the man. Despite this, she was remarkably nonplussed by the way he danced around things without ever quite establishing a solid baseline. "Everything or anything?" She asked, venturing into the acceptance of rhetorical questioning since she didn't legitimately expect an answer. "So long as you don't mind the talking that they'll inevitably do." She skipped a beat and chuckled quietly, keen ears picking up on it all too well. "Right now, in fact. Should tell him that even if he's a gay penguin, you'll still accept him."

"Depends on who's interested," he replied blithely. It sounded coy, but the paramedic's warmth of character made it more of a subtle invitation.

When she spoke of the Wallflower Trio, a sandy brown bobbed upwards, as if he had just discovered something was afoot. A quick glance was thrown over his shoulder, but if he was bothered by it, Will didn't show it. "People talk." He shrugged. "Doesn't matter if you're fifteen or fifty. Tongues wag and not always in the fun way."

"I like secrets," she offered in unabashed response. There was no need to hide behind some idea that she couldn't flat out say so. In tandem with the look over his shoulder, Nica followed and shot the trio a cheeky wink just in case they looked their way. They weren't the only ones looking but the nephilim paid the others no mind as she drifted a hand down the length of his arm and toward his hand.

"Then should just as well give them something to talk about, you know? See how twisted it gets by the times it gets back to you. May as well have fun along the way." Her eyes had left their surroundings in favor of meeting his. "Wanna get your coat and we can get out of here?"

The Wallflower Trio looked more like the Three Stooges in the moment; one appeared clueless, the other wore a mask of consternation and confusion, and DSLL was just irritated. Of them all, it was the last pair of eyes that followed Nicanora's every movement and grew less thrilled when she made the sudden claim on Will.

"So you're saying I should take you home and come back tomorrow twirling some of your underthings on my finger? Or let their imaginations run wild." He played his part like a gentleman, but there was a hint of masculine sensuality in the way he leaned to to dust a kiss against the curve of her jaw, before throwing a friendly wave to his co-workers in the first of a few requisite farewells.

"Yeah, let's steal some of those taquitos and ride. We might be real hungry in a little while." The last statement carried.

Will could be a sh*t sometimes.



((Co-written with Will. Thank you for the scene!))
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 25, 2015 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

25 December 2015

"And how does that help the families of the watchmen, firefighters, and first responders who get put six feet under every time some dumbass blows up the marketplace or Seaside?"

"Will."

The Inn's banter had only gone downhill from there. Will left soon after, as did the young girl that he had been having words with. At the last moment, Nica had changed her mind and rather than spend another night alone in the inn with her thoughts, she joined Taneth for another sleep over with the blonde. Taneth had confided that she hadn't slept in "many days" but that she had been gifted a tea that should help her sleep. The man that had given Taneth the tea was an interesting study, likely Downworld blood of some sort, but he was kind to the blonde so Nica thought the tea may be worth a try. Tannie wasn't the only one to find benefit in staying though. It meant Nica wouldn't be alone which was something considering the sharp turn her thoughts had taken as the inn's conversation progressed.

December was not a good month for Nicanora. She wore her optimism well but it was a fragile countenance, one that she found could crumble at the slightest provocation. Over the years she had got better at steeling it away and saving it for when she was alone, but under the glow of Rhydin's streetlamps and Christmas lights, Nica wasn't sure if that would hold.

"When's the last time you saw a fundraiser around here for anyone other than orphans or victims?" Will had asked, his words following after her as she kept pace with the exhausted Taneth.

Death in the line of duty was not a new concept for the nephilim. After all, her people had been created to protect mankind from the world of demonkind. While they were adept warriors, they were still mortal and as such, could still die. It wasn’t by way of usual Mundane demises like heart attacks and car accidents but rather in battle, violently and valiantly. Old age was attainable but it wasn’t always the rule.

And the families. Oh, the families. They suffered too but they still had to go on because a protector's work was never done and demons didn't relent just because a Shadowhunter wore the white of mourning.

December. Eight years ago. Nica was fourteen.

Madrid was balmy for December but it was a day like any other. Breakfast, morning lessons, lunch, training, free time. Through the week, it was always the same routine. Tedious, sure, but welcome just the same. Nica and Christopher were returning to the Madrid Institute after grabbing dinner. Hidden away in Las Acacias, beneath the glamour and wards, the Institute was a Spanish baroque styled cathedral with a massively vaulted ceiling and numerous rooms. They were met by a flutter of frantic energy when they stepped inside, a number of Madrid based Shadowhunters congregating around the Institute's head. Guillermo Secoya was a tall man, reed thin and balding. He had a stern set to his brow and the line of his mouth that seldom relaxed even when he was legitimately happy. This time around, he did not look anywhere near happy. Not in the least. By the time Nicanora and Christopher reached the throng, Secoya was well into his announcement.

“--and it is my understanding that the following Institutes have been compromised...Bangkok, Buenos Aires, Oslo, Berlin, Moscow, and Los Angeles. We have been ordered to evacuate immedi--,” Secoya was instantly interrupted by a roar from the crowd, English and Spanish mixing until it was impossible to tell one from another.

“What do you mean evacuate?!”

“Los Angeles, my sister is--”

“What happened to those at each of the Institutes?!”

“They don’t legitimately expect us to leave, do they?”

“Please, everyone. Let me finish!” Secoya’s voice lifted over the din to silence them all. It was an uneasy silence, but it did the trick just the same. “The rapid succession of these attacks make it difficult to pinpoint the aggressor. As it stands, all known associates of each Institute have either been killed or are missing. There is a rumor that a few of the children of the Los Angeles Institute made it to Alicante but we don’t have more information than that. It’s imperative that we leave immediately. Grab essential items and meet in the training room in forty-five minutes. We leave for Alicante from there.”

Buenos Aires. Killed or missing. Everyone. Her mother had been in Buenos Aires for the past month

“She’s fine, I’m sure of it,” Christopher said, reading her mind as the crowd began spreading backwards, nephilim reconciling the fact that they were running from a fight for likely the first time in their lives. Shoulders bumped, Nica swayed but didn’t move. Christopher gave her a tug. “We’ve got to go get ready. Come on, I’ll help you pack.”


Despite Christopher’s reassurances, her mother wasn’t fine. Like the other able bodied Shadowhunters at the compromised Institutes, Celia Truecross had been taken and Turned. She wasn’t dead at the time but she may as well have been.

December was not a good month for Nicanora.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 27, 2015 12:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

26 December 2015

"Answer your damn phone, Christopher," Nica growled into the phone's receiver as it rang through to the voicemail yet again. Another Rhydinian sunrise found her pounding redial to one of only four contacts in her phone, the first, a single letter: C. Much like the prior five, the sixth call rang straight through to his voicemail. She didn't leave a message, instead ending the call and jumping to the text application.

Text to C: Call me. I'm worried.

She hadn't heard from him in the better part of four days almost. He had not answered her calls nor her texts, the latter of which had led to a string of profanity laden short messages and culminated in the most recent request to call her. Skimming back through the rest of her messaging threads, she paused on one from the last contact in her address book, listed under "Zynn the Warlock". With Christopher as good as AWOL, Nicanora had given in and messaged the Warlock about a portal back to Miami, hopefully before the New Year now that she had the money to pay the woman. A flutter of responses had come in while she was trying to repeatedly call Christopher.

Text from Zynn the Warlock: Nica. Uhh.
Text from Zynn the Warlock: the pretty shadowhunter, right?
Text from Zynn the Warlock: and sure! maybe monday or tuseday?
Text from Zynn the Warlock: and payment would be awesome.
Text from Zynn the Warlock: just text me, yeah?

The pretty Shadowhunter. It curled her mouth into a smile despite her current ire at her parabatai. But Monday or Tuesday. She could be home in only a couple of days. Her heart raced as she tapped out another response.

Text to Zynn (10:02 am): Haha if that's how you wanna remember me, I'll go with that
Text to Zynn (10:03 am): Either one works, whichever is best for you
Text to Zynn (10:03 am): If needed I can send you a message after the weekend. Thank you for your help!

Unlike the delay between her messages the night before and the Warlock's answer the next day, a final flurry of messages came through only a few minutes later.

Text from Zynn the Warlock: Yeah it works, youre the pretty shadowhunter
Text from Zynn the Warlock: cris is the quiet gurmpy one
Text from Zynn the Warlock: heh may be best you do text me after the weekend
Text from Zynn the Warlock: i am not sure how much my memory may survive the weekend

Nica was the pretty one while the other nephilim was the quiet grumpy one. That aligned with what Nica had assessed of Crispin. The man had articulated his unwavering trust in the young Warlock so at the very least, she tried not to worry about the last response and the woman's memory. It couldn't be that bad right? Tossing her phone onto the bedside table, she rolled into bed for a few hours of sleep.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2015 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

28 December 2015

Wet and cold. Cold and wet. The weather was atrocious just like Will had promised. It was the sort of chill that worked its way into your bones and even the Thermis rune on her back could only mute it so much. Over a cup of Spanish hot chocolate, she had discussed her impending departure with Taneth and found it increasingly difficult to justify the one woman solo mission she was about to attempt. On her way back up to her room, she checked her phone one more time. No missed calls. No missed messages, voicemail or otherwise.

"Are you really going to leave, Fanny?" Taneth had asked her downstairs in the inn's common area.

"Yes, Zynn is going to help me get home tomorrow," Nica had answered after nodding.

"May I go with you, Nica?" One question led into another with the blonde.

"I don't think I will be coming back and it may be dangerous. I wouldn't want something bad to happen to you. Is there a reason you want to go?"

"You will never come back?" Taneth didn't answer Nica's question, instead posing another for her.

"I'm not sure. There is someone very special to me that I need to help and if getting him to come back here with me will help, then we may return. But I can't come back without him," she answered finally. Even if she was beginning to think that returning to Miami may be a bad idea right now, she knew it was what needed to be done. No longer could she play the sit and wait game while hoping that Christopher was okay. Taneth had nearly insisted that she go to Miami with Nicanora, going so far as to promise to bring her lasso so that they could tie Christopher up and bring him back. But finally Nica had placated the woman by promising that Taneth would hear from Nica within a week and if she didn't, then Taneth could come after her. Oh may the Angel have mercy on Miami if that were the case. As she returned to her room and began pulling her things out of the closet and dresser, she tried to imagine the little whirlwind with her pink lasso, flying through Miami and tying up good looking guys. It was almost as amusing as the thought of Christopher being wrangled and hauled back to Rhydin.

Maybe she could make that work, bring him back to Rhydin while they figured out just how big this issue was. Then they could work on it together. She packed her things in relative silence, rolling garments and tucking them into one of the three bags she had got for the trip home. One duffel, one backpack, one messenger bag. Easy to shed but efficient enough to hold everything. Once she was done, she spent the rest of the evening cleaning and sharpening her blades. If she was going to see Will later in the evening, she needed to have everything else done before then. Tomorrow couldn't come soon enough.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2016 3:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

28 December 2015

Bluebird Sky was a little coffee shop owned by a bubbly little woman named Regina. A niche spot carved into the first two floors of an old brownstone building where Dragon's Gate met Old Market, it had all the warmth and creature comfort of a mom-and-pop establishment but was busy enough with its eclectic clientele to be considered what passed for hipster-chic in Rhy'din. The proprietress was mid-thirties going on late teens, as trendy in her little non-prescription glasses as she was sweet, cracking jokes behind the counter with her half dozen employees and patrons alike. An old jukebox flickered its lights in sickly fashion, half dead with age and misuse, but what music there was to be had filtered through old speakers littered throughout the place.

It wasn't long after their arrival that they were fixed up with something hot in oversized ceramic mugs and Nicanora was being led to the small open air veranda on the second floor, a circle of battered and overstuffed sofas ringed around a modest fire pit. It was a place easy to comfortably slump and watch the passing world below or a companion nearby. For a change, he hadn't had much to say.

Will didn't do goodbyes, though he had yet to confess it to her.

Instead he nursed the hot brew in testing sips, the mug cradled in both hands and lending to the thoughtfulness of his expression as he stared at her over the rim.

For all the effort, the hot chocolate didn't quite stand up against her own but the ambiance made up for some of the lacking. The coffee shop was charming, warm against the chill of winter, and welcoming even at a late hour. Regina's friendliness was enough to offset the slightly awkward silence that had lingered between them on the way over. For all of the easy banter under the dim light of the Red Dragon, her impending departure seemed to suck the life out of it once they were away from the crowd. But with her mug in hand, she took to the firepit like a fish to water, soaking up the warmth with a lazy sprawl on the floor in front of a yellow plaid sofa that looked like it had been taken out of an era where flowers and acid were all the rage and the carpet could swallow a child whole.

"This place is cute. I'm kind of sad I didn't know about it sooner," she mused, testing the waters with a bit of light conversation that just barely toed the line of subjects he seemed to avoid.

"I was too busy trying to feed you," he replied with a controlled smile. Another sip was taken down, the dark roast laced with a very simple dose of sugar and half-and-half. "And even then there were places we missed." Being a food truck savant only went so far.

Some small comfort was sought out in the moment, stolen away in the small, less predictable ticks of the clock. For all of his unabashed fondness for the woman, he had still remained pleasantly closed off and seemed to mull that and more over before the sudden urge to talk won over again.

"So much gets overlooked here, it's more often like finding little nuggets of gold in the sifting pan than cat turds in the sandbox. The food is as varied as the crazy. I'll try to show you some more of the former when you get back." The last was delivered in a trailing descent of volume that died off with the last two words. He'd had a sneaking suspicious, but who wanted to ruin the moment?

"I could probably survive on hot chocolate, if I'm being perfectly honest," she admitted with a wry smile half obscured by a lift of her mug. With a little more chocolate and a bit of cornstarch, the mixture would have been perfect, she thought. As it was, it had just a bit too much milk and sort of reminded her of the prepackaged cocoa packets with their crunchy, stale mini marshmallows. Even with milk it was difficult to make something out of those. "It's a big city, seems to change a lot. Thai place I liked just up and disappeared the other day."

She was amused by it, if only a little bit. For all of its oddities, the strange city was growing on her. Just in time for her to have to tuck it all away and forget about it. Duty won out over fascination and a bond deeper than blood would always call her home no matter where she went. His silence was weighty, if brief, even if it seemed to stretch on much longer than it had in actuality. His voice lifted her gaze from the fire pit's lazy flicker, the languid dance of the flames drawing the moment out. Maybe if she stared hard enough, time would stop.

"It's easy to see why. When it's a world of weird, how do you stand out? I actually feel...kind of normal here," she said, her gaze lowering again. Her jaw worked at her teeth pinched the inside of her cheek and bit down. It wasn't quite enough to outdo the nagging feeling of guilt, the same one that had weighed on her conscience when she told Taneth that she would make contact within a week. Not be back necessarily, but that she'd make contact. There was no guarantee that would even happen but saying so out loud would be admitting that she had no idea what she was getting herself in to. But for all she had played at dancing around subjects with him or others, she wasn't sure she could keep up the charade. Without looking up from the firepit, she sipped at her hot chocolate and drowned a sigh. "I don't know when that'll be..." if at all, "but it sounds like fun."

"I feel the same way about coffee." It was an unsurprising revelation, even if he'd proven at least once that he could eat like a man two to three times his size. His metabolism was almost freakish. Silence came in the form of another sip, his body in a half sprawl on one of the couches, lazy and not as weary as it had been earlier.

In a place such as this, Will played the part of the local oddity. He wasn't too plain, nor too handsome. He didn't boast or threaten or pontificate about the great tragedy of his life or give off not so subtle hints of great power or skill. And still he seemed fearless. As unafraid as he was painful mortal, in his own mind, at least. The sore thumb that blended in more than it stuck out.

She could have danced that jig for hours, but he knew better. The expressions were ones he had come to know almost as well as the back of his hand, sometimes better. Regretted or no, he knew when someone had one foot out the door. "I'm pretty terrible at romantic notions, but had I known sooner, I'd have tortured myself a little more by requesting time off. Or calling in sick. Just to send you on your way with an extra good memory or two."

Nica shifted in her slouch, rising up like a cat waking from a nap so that it could resume said nap on the couch instead. She adjusted herself into a boneless drape over one side of the yellow plaid couch, an elbow to the arm allowing her to prop an unmarked but thoroughly scarred hand against her temple. She hadn't quite figured out just how either of them fit in in such a place. The quiet but charming EMT, a man with a job as mundane as any. And the Shadowhunter with nothing to hunt. On Earth, the Child of Raziel was beautiful by most standards and strong enough to be tasked with protecting mankind from the demons that would love nothing more than to destroy them. But here. Here she had a chance at normalcy. A shot at blending in without having to hide from the world. They called them Shadowhunters but the truth of the matter was they were the shadows, just there at the edge of your periphery and gone when you tried to focus on them. Never quite a part of the Mundane world. But Rhydin was so far from Mundane that it didn't matter.

It was temptation in its finest form.

She had to leave. Sooner rather than later. She already thought it bad enough that she had skipped leaving earlier in the day in favor of having just a few more hours with those she had begun to call her friends. From her new spot up on the couch, she found it easier to keep her eyes low without craning her neck, letting them focus somewhere just on his side of the fire pit. It made it easy to let her gaze flicker toward his for fractions of seconds before returning to the glow. Flame for the birth of a Nephilim, and to wash away our sins. "Tortured...yourself?" She finally asked, a lift of her gaze landing a little more solidly on the tension in the line of his mouth and the way he sat on the couch. "I'm very blessed to have amassed so many good memories in such a short time."

"One of the great ironies of my life; I love people but I don't have much use for them." It was a simple admission, one that spawned a dozen likely questions for the single one it perhaps answered. There was something special about Will and it was something very few were perceptive enough to put their fingers on. It intrigued some, enflamed others, confused or discomforted. "It's something of a pleasant frustration that I like having you around more than I don't."

As the coffee cooled, the sips grew deeper, more of the brew taken from the cup to warm him at his core. He stared at her, not intensely, but with a steadiness that was both flattering and distracting.

"I find myself uncomfortably caught between thoughts, because I'm not good at this. The more you're here, the more I don't fancy the idea of you gone." He chuckled and shook his head, tossing his chin her way. "You're good company, Fanny, and that bothers me."

Not using her real name added some much needed levity to the moment.

"Do you have cats? Because that sounds like something a cat lady would say," she said, answering his admission with a tease. Nica didn't do well with the edge of vulnerability, received or offered. Even in comfortable company like this. Intrigue was a good word for what pulled her to him. A draw that couldn't be explained, something that was familiar but wasn't. "Pleasant frustration seems like a bit of an oxymoron. Which is greater, the pleasure or the frustration?" From one question into another in hopes that if she kept him talking that she wouldn't have to.

Steadiness gave way to the briefest of staring contests. The Nephilim ultimately relented, finding some interesting point in the depths of her dwindling drink that warranted study instead of the slightly clouded blue he offered her only a few feet away. Her head canted, as if she were listening particularly intently. The motion mirrored the opposite direction, her lips parting to answer his chuckle but he broke the moment just in time. She reeled in the thought, summoned a smile, and brought her gaze up again. The tip of the mug at her mouth emptied the rest of the no longer hot chocolate in two swallows, leaving her tongue to run over her bottom lip to verify that no watered down chocolate remained.

"I have that effect on people, you know. People just want to be around me," she said wryly. As if to add to the pomp, she tossed her hair over her shoulder and settled back into languid lean. "I wager it's the accent, you know?" A beat, two, three. "It bothers you? Why's that?"

"No, no cats. I had fish once but that didn't work out so well." He made a face at her for the teasing, draining away the last of the coffee and setting the mug off to the side. One hand moved to clasp the other wrist in front of him, like some reverse parade rest. "Pleasure at the moment. The frustration'll likely come later."

Iron Will remained a steady presence on the couch.

"That you're beautiful is like saying the sun's bright, making me Captain Obvious. But you're also sincere and good company, which not many pretty people can add to their karmic resume." For some small, dragging span of time, he didn't answer her last question. The silence was filled with a long look past her, over the edge of the veranda to the signs dotting the storefronts below. "Before" He shrugged. "Because reasons. Now? Because I'm intimately familiar with that expression. The one that says 'I'm probably not coming back'."

"Maybe cats will come down the line then," she remarked, leaning down to set her empty mug on the floor in front of the couch. The table to her side was overloaded with an eclectic and spiraling sculpture, giving little room for the cup. Nica, still intent on teasing him to the best of her abilities, offered a dark lash laden, half lidded look paired with a muted smirk. "I hear the West side of town's got some good remedies for that." Her brows bobbed suggestively.

For all of her ego and preening, the compliment still brought a faint flush to cheeks tanned bronze. Skin deep compliments, she was no stranger to. Those that dug a little deeper weren't too far outside of the norm but the sincerity and frankness with which he spoke them struck a chord with her. She could have cut the building tension with a blade sharp quip, a tease to remind him that they didn't have to do the serious thing. Unbeknownst to her, the first hint of a frown had wrangled the corners of her mouth as she awaited his answer with bated breath. It fell further when the answer finally came.

"Because reasons. Vague. I like it," she said, the droll tone rolling over her words to flatten them into something resembling neutrality. "And you've read me like a book. Remind me not to play poker with you." The guard was inching its way back up. She took a breath and tamped it down bit by bit. "I'm probably not. But that's what people do here, don't they? They come and go, but mostly they go."

"If I did that, my salary wouldn't live up to my standards." Hadn't he already shown he was picky about people? Still, she produced a smile from him and a rude gesture that was all too hollow. The smile, it didn't last. "I've heard more than one rando around the parts same the same thing: 'Nothing lasts forever'. I haven't lived a long life, but it seems apt enough, especially here. Doesn't mean I have to like in this case."

The tumble of laughter even surprised her but came without restraint until she pulled her hands up to her mouth to smother it away. She shook her head, eyes low then high before meeting his. Her smile lingered longer than his did, the more comfortable curve of her mouth hanging out of habit rather than the warmth of the moment. "in a place like this, what more can you do than simply go with it?" She shrugged, the humor draining slowly from her smile. "If it counts for anything..." Nica paused, working the words over her tongue until they felt right. No, they didn't quite make it. She shook her head nevermind and chuckled. "It'll be okay. It always is."

"Sunday morning I had to let a father watch me fail to save his kid," Will said, his mouth quirked into a sadder approximation of the smile he'd been wearing for her benefit. "I survived that. I'll survive this. Besides, you're the one who's gonna suffer. I'm not letting you our of my sight until it's time for your to make your grand departure."

"We can't save everyone, no matter how hard we try," she mumbled. Nica took in a breath. Short, not quite enough to fill her lungs. But enough to maintain her composure. His follow up further cemented the carefully crafted calm and she mustered a smirk, haughty and just for him. "And that's going to lead to some immense amount of suffering, hmm? For some reason, I don't really believe that."

"It might," he said, ignoring the mumble completely. "Maybe you'll find yourself looking up at a star-filled winter sky one night and asking yourself: I wonder if Senor Loaf danced lately? Does he still get french toast on his nights off? Is he still a good kisser?"

Some things she was grateful for. His discretion was one of them. "And that is suffering?" She asked, brows lifting. It was easy, the smile that found her lips, something she found herself wearing often around him. "Be still my heart, I shall not survive the night if that is to be my life upon the 'morrow." Melodramatically, she clasped her hands over her chest, fluttering lashes until a giggle brought about a shake of her head. "I'll place my bets now. No, yes, and if my cheek is any judge, which it is sometimes, yes on the last as well."

"What if I'm a really good kisser? You'd have to lament leaving that behind." It was almost like the logic of an overgrown child, the way he placed amusing emphasis on things that were likely more unimportant than not, but delivered with an older man's cheek. Will more it like armor, a suit of iron painted in such a gaudy, off-putting manner that many forgot that it was there.

It had served him well.

His own grin softened when she giggled, tempering his pushy humor in light of the melancholy undercurrent in the conversation that they had both been ignoring. Nicanora didn't need reassurance about her choice, no more than she needed anyone to beg her to stay. He wouldn't, of course. 'Iron' Will didn't beg. Nor did he think hard thoughts about the future. Loss was a part of life. In honor of it, he tried to live in the moment and what he saw there. Always and now.

"Nicanora."

"Ah, but you said "Is he still a good kisser". I wouldn't know so I can't ponder such a thing." She said with a smirk that held the faintest note of challenge to it. Kicking her leather bound legs off of the couch, she pushed herself into something vaguely resembling proper sitting posture. If proper meant forearms to thighs and a curving of the back that would make most chiropractors frown. "I could guess though."

When Nicanora made a decision, she stuck to it no matter the outside influences. It was both a blessing and a curse and thus far in life, was more of the former than the latter. Even if she had been a complete nightmare for her poor father. But if there was anything that was going to get her through this, it would be her bullheaded determination. There was a certain comfort in that. When he used her name, her full first name, she looked up, brows rising with the motion. It had been the first hint of an unspoken question, what, but it was tucked away in favor of a lighthearted tease. "Keep saying it and it'll be rolling off your tongue in no time."

"Come here." It was neither a request nor a command, hardly a suggestion, and something close to an offer. His expression didn't hint at what the offer was, but the paramedic was far from being seated in the most romantically inviting pose. His intentions were left for her to guess.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2016 3:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

29 December 2015

Why? had been the first question to come to mind but she withheld it, instead staring him down for something close to ten solid seconds. "Why?" wasn't a question they often asked each other. Things were just taken at face value. Acceptance and discretion, things were the way they were and they simply didn't question it. Yet, at least. Maybe it would get there, she didn't know. But for now, she rose up, taking the opportunity to lift her arms up over her head and stretch from top to bottom. Her hands dropped and she stepped around the fire pit, coming to a stop in front of him. "Yes?"

For Will, there was no 'maybe'. Nicanora was leaving. It was as simple as that. He didn't offer her an explanation. Not right away. Instead he regarded her from the low, undefensible position of the plush sofa for a few silent moments. She was robbed of the pedestal she was subconsciously on not long after, losing the high ground when the fingers of one hand slipped beneath the snug security of her belt and pulled.

The gesture itself seemed almost sensual at first, if not overt and aggressively so. The pull was insistent, strong, and was met with the guidance of his other hand, turning her in her descent until she was sprawled in a haphazard spoon atop him. The grip on her belt was relinquished in exchange for the low wrap of an arm around her middle. Some small sensuality lingered in the moment, if for not better reason than the mutual attraction built over their short acquaintance.

But there was something else.

Well versed in falling gracefully, the tug was met with minimal resistance and a bend of the knees, one hand out to catch herself if he didn't. He caught her. She laughed, a muted sort of sound not meant to extend outside of the narrow sliver of veranda they had claimed as their own, if only for a little while. The slightest of shifts was needed to find a comfortable spot, leather groaning with the motion. The laugh died off of its own accord though there was no shortage of mirth in the smile she wore. He belted her in and she set an arm over top of his, leaning snugly against him. Once settled, she chuffed a short note of amusement.

"Hi," she said smartly, no longer able to dance around his presence with well timed sips of cocoa or stares at the fire.

His close proximity added another layer of warmth against the deepened chill of winter the fleece lined canvas coat puffing out where it had remained open and threatening to cover some small part of her arms in an additional layer of unintended protection. She settled where his chest met her back, his face in a gentle pitch forward that pressed his nose casually into her shoulder, and muffling the returned greeting. A faint glimmer of merriment danced in his eyes, shining through something more earnest that lingered in his gaze as precariously as it did on the tip of his tongue.

"I don't know you," he said the words quietly, as much a simple statement of fact as they were a reassurance that she neither needed (or so he thought) nor did he need to give (or so she might have thought). "But I've seen enough to know how a warrior walks. Someone wary and prepared for the worst, for blood to spill. How you can never sit comfortably in a spot until you know who's in the room and where all the ways in, and out, are. You're going. Relax for these for minutes, hours, or whatever, at least."

Against the slim, feminine plane of her back, she could feel the thump in his chest. His heartbeat. Except, Will's heartbeat wasn't normal. It was a staccato rhythm at first, a confuse deep in his pulse, but the more it was listened to, the more it was felt, the more it provoked the reassurance of something familiar.

He had warned her. Just wait until January, he had said. It wasn't quite January but winter had blown in early and its bite had not been kind on the walk over. His selection of the spot by the fire pit had been a smart one and further, the tug into his lap doubly so. She couldn't ever claim to be cold blooded but the way in which she savored the warmth said she might as well be. A slip of her hand around the back of her head swept her hair out of his face and over the opposite shoulder, freeing him of the heady scent of freesia and lavender. It was the sort of smell that she might even admit to loving enough to pull her hair over her face as she was falling asleep just so she could wrap herself up in its comfort. She raked her fingers through the mess of waves, smoothing them until they behaved. Her head bowed a little as she listened to him with her eyes closed, a serene smile taking her mouth.

"I'm comfortable enough," she murmured. It could have been construed as agreement or argument, depending on how he wanted to take it. It may have been comfort in the increasing familiarity of the shop, it may have been comfort in the wrap of his arm around her waist, it may have been comfort in knowing that she still had easy access to no less than four knives even in the position she was in. Okay, maybe he had a point. She found herself tapping out feather-light echoes of the beat with her index against the top of his forearm. There was a certain calm in its thu-thud, thu-thud.

"Thank you," Nica mumbled into a bite of her bottom lip, the tapping uninterrupted even by the words. A few moments passed, then a few more, and finally, "Though I bet your legs go numb first."

"I suppose it's not entirely selfless." The admission was made when some of the lingering tension finally bled out of her, causing them to both sag more comfortably. "I've got a pretty woman in my lap and all it cost me was a cup of crappy hot cocoa."

The tapping of her fingertip was interrupted only momentarily by the brief lean forward as she giggled. When she leaned back again, it was with a sigh that seemed to deflate the entirety of air from her lungs. "That's one thing I've yet to find here, a good cup of hot chocolate." The next inhale saw her shifting on his lap, turning somewhere between forty-five and ninety degrees to just almost sit sideways. It was easier to talk that way. The gold in her eyes was especially bright with the sparkle of the revelation's mirth. Or maybe it was just the way the cafe's lights caught them. Who knew.

"I'm not planning on coming back. It just may not be in the cards, there's no getting around that. Unless, of course, it's the smarter place to be, in which case I get to figure out all over again how to get back here. That said I have a task for you, should it come to that. Find me the best hot chocolate in town. Can I trust you with that?"

"It better and worse than any other place you've ever been. Or, in my case, where I've ever been." It wasn't entirely a glowing estimation of Rhy'din, but it was an honest one for all of its casual ambiguity. She shifted and maintained his composure, fighting back one of those coughs meant to distract but that ultimate drew attention to some measure of discomfort. Instead, he slipped his other arm around her and completed the circle, back arched lazily into the couch as they talked. "I dunno. I'm a Coffee Or Alcohol kinda guy, so that might make for a painful hunt, you know, will all of the extra free time I have to struggle to fill."

The muted blow of the reminder was met with an equally muted smile, tempering his mirth but not preventing him from playing into the cute joke. "I'll see what I can come up with. Maybe I'll get Taneth to play taste tester."

"It might be," she murred tentative agreement. Rhydin had been an interesting case study to say the least. It was somewhere she didn't have to hide, while at the same time hiding from everything she had known. Ambiguity didn't even begin to cover it. If she caught that hint of discomfort on his part, she didn't react, at least not immediately. She found a comfortable angle at which to lean, loosely draping an arm over his nearest shoulder. Not around, by all means, just over. "Heaven forbid you step out of that narrow comfort zone of yours." She deadpanned.

"I'm not sure she's the sort either," Nica said after a moment or two of thinking about it. The regret of saying anything to begin with was instantaneous. There were people here that she had found some amount of fondness for and she was leaving them behind. For a second she thought that maybe talking about it or even joking about it would lessen the dismay. Instead it did the opposite. Her tongue traced the front of her teeth behind her lips. "Sorry. I'm bad at this."

"Terrible at it," he confirmed for her and then grinned. "And I'll have you know I'm already well out of my comfort zone, Nicanora. Somewhat."

Fearless, that was Will. And in no small part a masochist, if only in small ways. His smile faded in small, continual degrees, his voice lowered for her benefit. "Are you gonna be okay?"

"We," it was a royal sort of we, "don't usually do goodbyes. It's just sort of accepted that sometimes we don't come back." Grin or not, there was an underlying guilting in his words that had her shifting uncomfortably on his lap. "I'd like to say it was intentional, but I never meant to pull anyone out of their comfort zones."

Nica quieted to consider his question, letting it linger between them as she weighed the benefits of honesty versus placation. "I don't know. Maybe? I'll be okay once I'm sure he's...well, okay, I guess."

"Christopher." The astute sort, he remembered. The concern, the leaving, the we; adding everything on top of the subtle wariness of what could only be a regular dose of post-traumatic stress, it wasn't hard to put some thing together. And yet he didn't pry.

Instead, he deflected.

"Going out and being a real person tends to take me out of my comfort zone. Gonna be sorry about that, Fanny?" He stole back into the land of easy smiles, making it a cat and mouse game as they teetered between the serious and the casual.

"My parabatai," she said with a nod but didn't offer more. He wasn't asking, she wasn't offering.

Nica would take the deflection with a grateful humility that easily bled into a roll of her eyes and a nudge of her shoulder against him. "So me dragging you all over town in search of the perfect grilled cheese was probably the worst three hours of your life then, huh? Lo siento, no lo siento, Señor Loaf. That grilled cheese was worth it, I don't care what you say."

"Does that make me your paramedic?" The quip ran and dove straight off of a copper tongue (he couldn't pull off silver) and was delivered complete with a pause and and 'dah-dum-tsh'. One finger flicked absently at the material of her shirt along her exposed side and he fixed her with a lazy, shameless grin. "I enjoyed it."

It took her a second but once it registered, she groaned and buried her face against his shoulder while shaking her head. The contact was brief, three seconds at most before she leaned back to peer at him incredulously. "That was a terrible joke. Terrible." No matter how terrible, it had roused a grin to match. "Well, good. I'm glad the entirety of my involvement in your life hasn't been completely unbearable."

"I've been in worse situations," he countered. "In worse places. With worse people."

"i would hope so." She said drolly. It was perspective though. Always something worse than the current situation. Worse outcomes, worse company. "I was going to say, if I'm the worst thing to happen to you, you'd have to be one hell of a masochist to let me use you as a chair like I am."

"I danced with you. Gotta count for something." Will's head tipped to the side, considerate of some unvoiced thought.

"That was payment of a debt, you were just being a man of your word," she countered with a smirk, eyeing him curiously.

"How much longer do I get to have my friend?" he asked suddenly.

The question startled her into a brief silence. It gave her a moment to count it out before answering. "Depends. I've got eight hours and thirty minutes, give or take. How much of that do you want?"

"Man," Will laughed, throwing his head back to do it and sending it up to the heavens. "And here I thought there was going to be significantly less time..."

It was more time than she offered some but less time than most people would consider suitable. She wasn't sure if he was being sarcastic or genuine. A slow blink turned into a stare as he laughed, the left edge of her bottom lip pinned between her teeth. "I...'m sorry?"

"Don't be." When he finally settled down, there was the glimmer of something new in his blue eyes. His frame shifted beneath her, straightening up and then into an acute forward lean. "Just mean that there might be a longer awkward silence that I had anticipated when I do this."

That was when Will kissed her.

The hand that had been flicking at her shirt absently caught her along the opposite side of her jaw, cupping it and drawing her along to look at him, just in time for his mouth to rise and capture hers. It escalated with each tick of the passing seconds, from a warm meld mouths to parted lips, insistent and unapologetic, but purposefully left to fall short of being anything overtly salacious.

"Do wh--" On the upside, she'd stopped biting her lip. On the downside, he had done exactly what she hadn't thought he would. Exactly what some small part of her hadn't wanted him to do and exactly what the rest of her had hoped for. The arm that had been draped over his shoulder curled around the back of his neck. It was a rarity that she didn't count each moment that passed, no one, two, three count as she normally measured actions. She wasn't opposed to such a public scandal even if she might have teased him for it under other circumstances. But he seemed intent on letting the brief flame temper itself down without further stoking. It was a good reminder to breathe at the very least. When it broke, she sighed a quiet breath, reluctantly reopened her eyes, and tried to ignore the ruddy warmth in her cheeks that couldn't quite be attributed to the fire pit behind her.

"Oh." That answered her question.

"Awkward." He mumbled the word close to her mouth and choked on the laughter that threatened to spill. It was a good way to diffuse the situation, though he hadn't show much of any attention of relinquishing his hold on her.

"Maybe. If you let it be." Where he tried to hold back the laughter, she couldn't quite manage, giggling into a short brush of her mouth to his before drawing away fractionally. "My bet was correct though. So there's that."

"I didn't think your hot chocolate tasted that bad." He pursed his lips together humorously.

Another tumble of laughter, less restrained this time around with the tilt back of her head until it subsided enough that she wasn't going to laugh in his face. "Clearly I sweetened it a bit."

"Eight and a half hours." Will mused over it quietly for a few moments, before fixing her with another expression not unlike that which was the prelude to their kiss, before finally sayin, "Think we can find your perfect hot chocolate in that time?"

Her expression lit up, her back straightening. "Maybe. At the very least we can give it a try." It meant going back out in the cold, nasty thing that it was. But risk versus reward said it could be worth it. Brown to blue, her eyes met his for the practiced three count that dictated so many of her interactions. It looked like she might say something but instead she wriggled from his grasp to get back up to her feet. "The adventure may be worth it even if we can't."

"I do like a girl with a can-do attitude." Fingers hooked into her belt again, two sets this time, so that he could haul himself to his feet. Both mugs were collected so they could be passed off to Regina before their departure, a single nudge given to Nicanora's shoulder before he was in motion. "Maybe we'll find some french toast or grilled cheese along the way."

"I'm...not going to say what came to mind there." She hadn't expected to play anchor for him when he got up, a less than tough squeak leaving her lips before she braced herself, laughing. When he was upright, she smoothed her hands down her jacket. On the upward pass, she caught the zipper and tugged it up to just below the hollow of her throat. A warm enough smile was offered in passing to Regina as she followed after Will. "For old times' sake."

"Oh, come on. Live a little." Pot. Kettle. So the story went. The door was held open for her and when she passed through, he turned on a heel to move up beside her. "We'll see if we can find a photobooth and some souvenirs. Make some memories for you to take home."

"If it were a matter of living a little, I'd be suggesting a destination other than public coffeehouses and diners," she said sweetly as she passed him up, stepping out into the cold. Turning the collar of her jacket up, she tucked her hands into her pockets and let him lead while keeping pace beside him. "I'd feel like a proper tourist then. Maybe get an I heart Rhydin shirt."

"Or an 'I <Grilled Cheese> Rhy'din' shirt." Will snorted. "Okay, Fanny, let's go do some stupid stuff in a photobooth."

"They make such things? If they don't, they should." Unabashed laughter followed, at the very least stilling her tongue and restraining the comment that wanted so desperately to follow.


((Thanks to Will for the past 2 posts worth of play!))
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

8 February 2016

The smell of coffee brewing was almost enough to take the edge off of the hangover headache that had nestled itself just behind her eyes and she thanked technology for the advent of timer controlled coffee makers. It made rolling over and tucking herself against Will’s bare chest all that much easier. He slid an arm around her without opening his eyes and so she drifted comfortably in and out of sleep for another twenty minutes before an upbeat electronic samba humming from her phone drew her back to the realm of the living. With the most reluctant of groans, she wriggled out from the protective wrap of his arm and fumbled through her jacket pockets. Without looking at the screen, she caught it on one of the very last rings before it would have gone to voicemail.

“Hello?” She was groggy and it showed in her voice. Nica glanced over to the alarm clock on the bedside table. Its dim glow read 8:27. ****, it was early.

“Anora, where have you been?” Gregorio sounded either frantic or pissed. Maybe both. Nica groaned and hunched over to put her elbows to her knees, her feet flat to the floor.

“Papa, I’m fine. What’s wrong?” She mumbled into the phone and rubbed sleep from her eyes.

“You didn’t answer last night when I called and when I called Daniel, he had no idea where you were either. Next, I wake up to almost four thousand in charges to your card. Do you know how worried I’ve been?” As her father finished his rebuke, Nica winced. It wasn’t helping her headache but she also knew it wasn’t the end of it either.

“I’m fine, really. I didn’t hear my phone go off. I was at a charity event.” Despite the lifted volume of her father’s voice, she kept her own low in hopes of not waking Will. She should have left the room but the bed was comfortable and warm and Will’s apartment was so chilly in comparison.

“Four thousand, mija.” Her father repeated. “What could you have spent nearly that much on in a single night?”

“Hookers and blow, Dad. What else?” Nica deadpanned. Gregorio went quiet. She could practically hear the steam coming out of his ears. It was likely the wrong answer but it was already out there, so she braced herself for his response.

“Don’t take that tone with me, Nicanora. I don’t suppose this has anything to do with the Mundane boy you’ve been seeing?” Gregorio asked. Nica frowned while plotting Daniel’s inevitable death.

“He’s not a Mundane,” she protested.

“Oh, he’s not, is he? Another of your Downworlder dalliances?” Each word needled at her like tiny razor blades. If there was anyone that knew how to make her feel awful, it was her father.

“No,” Nica said sullenly.

“If he’s not a Mundane and he’s not a Downworlder, do you mean to tell me he is of our kind? What family did he come from, under whom did he study?” There was deliberate sarcasm in each question, the interrogation wearing her thin.

“Papa,” plaintively. She had no answers for his questions.

“Until you can answer otherwise, he is a Mundane. I understand that after a loss like yours that it’s easy to get distracted, but please, mija, do not sidetrack all you’ve worked for, for some Mundane boy.” From scolding to pleading, he was really twisting the knife in her heart.

“Father, it’s nothing serious,” she mumbled into the phone, scrubbing a hand over her face then back through her hair.

“I would certainly hope not. If you wish to continue living outside of the Clave’s influence and doing so on my dime, at the very least you will return to your training. I didn’t invest nearly twenty years of the best tutoring possible only to have you throw it away.” Gregorio paused, waiting for Nicanora’s inevitable protest.

No protest came. She hung her head and continued listening. Only the sound of her uneven breathing indicated to her father that the call was still connected.

“I’m of the understanding that the Blackwaters will be remaining nearby for the short term. You are to report to Daniel tomorrow morning for further instruction.” There was a finality in his tone that said it would be futile to argue. She made a small noise to let him know she had heard him. He sighed. “Anora, I love you. Please take care of yourself and be well, that is all I want.”

There was so much she could have said. So much she wanted to say. Instead, she settled for something lesser. “Love you too, Papa. Ciao.”

“Adios, mi niña hermosa.”

They both hung up, leaving Nica to drop her phone onto the pile of clothing she had amassed at the bedside. For a few moments, she sat there, her shoulders rounded and her head in her hands. She felt the brush of a few fingers just below the hemline of the oversized Denver Broncos jersey she was wearing, grazing her lower black with an unspoken invitation. Without a word, she tilted back and rolled into Will’s waiting grasp. Though the opportunity to sleep had long since gone out the window, she could pretend for just a little while longer.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2016 11:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

9 February 2016

“Where do you get off telling anyone my business?!” Nica shouted the words at Daniel from twenty paces out. They had arranged to meet at a place called Battlefield Park, on the north side of the city. It was only over the wall from Dragon’s Gate where the Blackwaters and Niamh were staying which gave Daniel the added comfort of not being far from his sister in a strange city. The trees were barren, their leaves long since lost to autumn, and a thick layer of snow blanketed the uneven terrain. Daniel stood in a clearing that had a wide path entering and exiting it from the east and west. Nica came from the east, wearing full gear and armed to the teeth. Her hands were balled into fists and she certainly looked primed for a fight but Daniel’s relaxed posture plainly stated that he cared not.

“You mean your father?” Daniel asked pointedly as she got closer. At such an early hour, the park was mostly empty save for barely waking birds and the occasional fat squirrel.

“Anyone!” She reiterated, coming to a stop in front of him. He was almost half a foot taller than her, taking some of the edge off of her glare since she had to look up so far. Nica wanted nothing more than to punch him in the mouth, as if it would take back the things that he had said. Thankfully, she kept her arms straight at her sides.

“I don’t know what you expect me to say. I’ve simply been sating the worries of the few people that stand between us and a full Clave investigation. Really, I would have thought that you of all people would appreciate that,” Daniel said, clucking his tongue against his teeth. He turned away from her and started down the western path, breaking into a slow jog and then a faster run. She would have to catch up or be left behind.

“Oh please. Don’t pull that on me. This isn’t about the Clave or making my father feel better about me being here,” Nica answered once she finally did catch him, falling into pace beside him. It was a warm up, something easy that still permitted her the chance to express her ire before they got into the thick of things.

“Oh yeah? Then what is it about?” He asked. Turning them off of the main path, their run took them into increasingly deep snow, bogging down their pace. Daniel didn’t often get the chance to run in the resistance offered by snow so he was going to take advantage of that as much as he could while he was stuck in this hellhole.

“About you being mad that while you’ve got nothing to do that I actually have friends here,” she answered scathingly. Even in boots, the cold was permeating through her toes and dampening her socks. He was faster than her even on a good day but he slowed when she began to fall behind and eventually he came to a stop. Sinking almost knee deep into the snowbank, he turned to stare at her. Though his expression was impassive, there was the faintest crinkle of hurt at the corners of his eyes. Nica came to a stop too, sinking down into the cold powder.

“Really? That’s what you’ve got? You think I’m jealous that you spend your evenings rubbing elbows with mundanes and downworlders and sleeping around with that mundane medic. That’s...well, that’s something, for sure,” Daniel broke into a dry laugh and shook his head. “Newsflash, for all the men in your life may have convinced you otherwise, the world doesn’t, in fact, revolve around you, princesa.”

For all of her righteous indignation, she had no answer to that. Perhaps Christopher had been wrong in his assessment of the man before her. She tightened and relaxed her fists a few times. Finally she too shook her head. “No. I’m not doing this. I’ll train with Dia if I have to, but I’m not doing this with you.”

“You don’t exactly get a say in the matter unless you’re either willing to return to Miami or support yourself while you’re here. That simple. And Lidia will not be joining us for training for the time being.” Daniel turned his hands palms up as if displaying her options before her. The ball was in her court, the decision was hers.

“Then I’ll train with Will,” she said quickly, her chin lifting with defiant objection. Daniel stared back at her, a parent dealing with a petulant toddler.

“Also not an option.” He answered and awaited her forthcoming response.

“Then Niamh,” she threw out her last resort. Her time with Niamh was always better spent drinking and partying, but she knew the lycanthrope had it in her to throw down when the occasion called for it. Daniel shook his head.

“You know that they don’t meet the requirements for proper training. Nephilim or nothing, that’s your choice.” His patience, though tested, seemed resolute. Nica’s jaw worked with the grinding of her teeth. He was legitimately her only option. Well, there was Cris, but he hadn’t seemed in the least bit interested in the prospect of training and the thought of going to him to beg him to train with her so she could get away with Daniel was a low that she didn’t think she could take herself to. Pride’s a killer like that. Their staredown continued for untold moments, Nica’s fury met with the calm grey-blue that stared back at her.

Nica was the first to break the silence.

“What’s the drill and where are we doing it?” Quiet, spoken through gritted teeth and begrudgingly at that. Daniel’s posture relaxed just slightly and his upturned hands gestured to their surroundings.

“Here. Six art endurance drill. Vale tudo to start, then more specific with judo, muay thai, and krav maga for review, then into taekkyeon and finish with sambo. Nail the submission in each and I’ll leave you alone until Friday. If not, we meet both tomorrow and Thursday for a double instead.” He was so soft spoken that it would have been easy to miss any number of pieces of integral information but Nica quickly committed it all to memory. The first four would be easy enough, even in the snow, but the latter two, she knew he had her beat.

That said, Nica had rage on her side.

In Portuguese, “vale tudo” meant “anything goes”. It was a brutal art practiced mostly in Brazil, no holds barred fights that weren’t restricted by rules nor used any protective equipment. They had no ring save for the deep, drifting snow, but truly, fights seldom occur within the confines of a boxing ring anyways. She kept her knees bent, her center of gravity low to give her the slightest of advantages against the larger man. Despite her anger, she didn’t go after him first, letting him come to her instead. It played well on her background in other martial arts, the deft evasion of his strikes and grapples keeping her out of harm’s way. When throwing down with someone as experienced as Daniel, patience was key. Each minute that passed and every slip of his grasp that she managed was one step closer to the takedown. One hooked blow caught her edgewise but she shook it off and hid behind her guard a little longer, their pacing steps wearing ruts in the snow. Already she could feel a bruise forming along her jawline. He was big and he was strong, but Nica was agile, putting her smaller size to good use with a quick duck beneath a swinging arm. The sharp point of her elbow struck his kidney and he faltered. It was the opportunity she needed. A slip of her leg, a twist of his arm, and soon he was down in the snow, his arm bent painfully behind his back. His free hand tapped at the side of her leg and she let him up.

“That’s one,” she growled, backing off as he rolled to his feet. He shook his arms out, taking a moment to ready himself for round two. Judo was one of the very first martial arts she had taken up, starting just after she turned five. It was an easy fall back and her footwork was sound. Every time he did manage to get his hands on her, a lithe skip of feet repositioned her for a more advantageous hold on her part. It was a sport in which a smaller combatant could easily handle a larger fighter and it took her even less time to get him down. Getting a tight grasp on his collar, she lifted at the same time that her opposite wrist turned, pulling him forward to destabilize him. The diagonal angle at which his body was moving made it the perfect opportunity to slip the back side of her thigh between his legs and swing it upward, throwing him with it and bringing his one hundred ninety pound frame crashing to the snow covered ground. That wouldn’t be enough though, she slid her hands down his arm,-- the same she had used for the prior round’s submission,-- and turned it into a straight lock. With an annoyed growl, Daniel tapped again.

“Two.” Just like the first, she sounded out the count. The next two went in much the same way as the first two. She had been unsure at the beginning, but moving through the snow hindered her little save for the fact she couldn’t feel her feet halfway through the fourth round. They were both wet and cold, soaked to the bone as they paced the wide, rounded rut they had worn into the ground. All of their shuffling and rolling had worn bare patches into earth, leaving pools of mud that splattered their boots and up the backs of their pants with each heavy footed squish.

By contrast to the hard hitting, militaristic styles of earlier rounds, her transition into the next required far more thought. Taekkyeon was a softer sport by her standards, meant for taking down one’s opponent without inflicting heavy damage by using kicks and throws. It was subtle, almost dance like in its rhythm, but it was a beat that she didn’t know nearly as well as Daniel did. He gained easy ground on her, slipping her guard time after time until finally the hard bridge of his boot connected with the side of her head. Lights exploded across her vision and she crashed to the ground. Unlike the other rounds, there was no focus on any sort of submission but rather a two-out-of-three mentality as was the case when the sport was practiced in competitive settings.

“That’s one.” Daniel said smugly, hauling her to her feet by the back of her jacket. There was snow in uncomfortable places, melting and dripping and awkward. One more kick like that and her shot at getting rid of Daniel for a couple days would be gone. It took some maneuvering but her opening presented itself after he failed to get a solid enough grip on her for a throw or trip. She spun back, straightened and with a snap of her foot, kicked him right beneath the chin. His head snapped back and he toppled back onto his ass, dazed. Nica kept her guard up as he climbed back up to his feet, working his jaw with the heel of his hand. His teeth were red but he was grinning. “See. That was a good one.”

“Even. One more,” Nica scowled, refusing to beam beneath the praise. Daniel swished his saliva around his mouth and turned his head to spit to one side. He hadn’t even had the chance to straighten out when he was met with a blur of black and tan, his legs swept right out from under him and just as quickly as he had gotten up, he was right back down. It caught him so off guard that he could do nothing but laugh, sitting in mud and snow and looking up at her. She towered over him for once, her hands on her hips. The picture of righteous fury, she finally extended a hand down to him. “That’s two. You’re losing your touch, Blackwater.”

“Hardly,” he scoffed, taking the hand up. Brushing mud from his pants, he flicked a spatter of muck at her and backed up. “Last one, you gonna go the distance?”

Sambo. Oh how she loathed thee. Take Krav Maga, add vodka and drunk Russians, and you have the eclectic combat sport known as Sambo. It was fast paced and aggressive and not nearly as neat and clean as the other arts she had under her belt. That became readily evident when Daniel swung right through her block, catching her in the diaphragm and forcing her to bend at the waist to catch her breath. He followed up with a hammer handed blow but she managed to dodge left, grab hold of his arm and yank him toward the ground. On the way down, he tore at front of her jacket, pulling her down with him. A twist on the way down put her beneath him when they landed and she took the full brunt of his weight. There was no time to breathe though and she squirmed until she got a foot against his midsection, kicking out to throw him off of her. Nica scrambled to her feet and swung a backhand out as Daniel advanced again. He deflected and countered smoothly with a forearm that broke her hastily thrown guard, immediately following up with an overhand blow that caught her in the temple. A second hit hammered the same point and she dropped like a rock. Face down in the mud, she felt his knee come down between her shoulder blades, pressing to the point she couldn’t breathe. She kicked back at him but he had an advantageous enough position to keep her held down. It felt like he was crushing her ribcage and just to make matters worse, he caught one of her flailing arms and jerked it into a hard lock. Nica sputtered mud, the taste of cold, wet dirt gritty on her tongue and teeth.

Still, she didn’t tap out.

Daniel leveraged her arm further, careful not to put too much strain on her shoulder. Every inch she moved, he countered cleanly and tightened his hold. Finally, he leaned down toward her ear.

“You’ve got to the count of ten to break it or submit.” Ten seconds passed too quickly. Her pride refused to let her tap no matter how bad her lungs hurt. “...nine, ten. You’re out.”

The pressure was relieved and Nica was left to lay there, wallowing in her frustration until she pounded her fists against the ground and rolled over onto her back. Her body ached and she was covered in mud. Even the Thermis rune wasn’t quite enough to stave off the cold.

“I won five out of six,” she said, petulant to a fault.

“That wasn’t the deal. All or nothing, Nicanora. I think we’re done for today. Meet me here tomorrow, same time.” Daniel was calm and collected as he walked away. He had known her long enough to know a bruised ego paired with her temper was a combination best left alone. He was long gone by the time she got back to her feet and trudged back to her room for a long, long bath.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2016 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

11 February 2016

Dead air.

The quiet click of it rolling to voicemail without ringing.

"Hey, I can't come to the phone right now but if you drop your name and number after the beep, I'll get back to you as soon as I can."

BEEP

"Soy yo. Por supuesto que soy yo. No sé lo que estoy haciendo, pero realmente te echo de menos ahora. Creo que sólo quería escuchar su voz de nuevo. Mierda. No estoy haciendo muy bien, Christopher. Deseo ... deseo que me llame de vuelta y dime que estoy soñando. Que todo terminará pronto. Te echo de menos."
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2016 5:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

2 March 2016

As Rhydin thawed and the snow melted, Battlefield Park became a muddy, mucky playground for Nicanora and Daniel, perfect for the sort of exhausting training that made it all too easy to collapse into bed at the end of the day and sleep for a solid ten hours. It was with a tired groan that she helped haul Daniel out of the waist deep, mud filled bog that he had been kicked into and while she was pretty satisfied by the outcome, pulling him out definitely wasn't any fun either. The pair of them were covered from head to toe, making it hard to get a good grip on the other Shadowhunter's wrists but after a few tries, they both ended up on solid ground, panting.

"So when's Dia getting in on the training fun?" Nica asked, rolling onto her back to stare at the sky. It was fairly overcast but still, the noon sun tried to wriggle its way between the clouds in straight but sparse beams that left gold filtering through trees that were just beginning to consider the possibility of budding. Daniel matched her pose, only he propped himself up on his elbows while he caught his breath. Unless he touched it up with his stele, he was going to have a brilliant bruise in the shape of Nica's boot heel along the side of his face from ear to jaw. It had been a pretty solid kick, even Daniel had said so. He glanced at her sidelong and frowned.

"Well...about that. She won't be," he answered, keeping her in his line of sight. He knew the next question was coming before it ever made it past her lips.

"Sí? Por qué?" She could have gone for a cigarette or maybe some coffee. Or probably a hot shower, yeah, that would have been best.

"Because, well, we'd planned on talking to you about this together. She won't be training with us likely until late September or early October," he trailed off, turning to prop the bulk of his weight on one arm so that he could look at the woman full on instead of sidelong. He could see the gears turning as she puzzled things together.

"Wait..." She struggled up into a sitting position and twisted to stare at him. "She's not..."

Daniel nodded.

"No," she shook her head in disbelief.

"I know. We believe she's due at the beginning of September."

"So, whose..." Nica did more math, quick and sloppy.

"Not sure... but I know what you're thinking. We don't know, so you can't freak out. Not yet anyways," he said, setting a hand over her arm.

"Uh, not sure if you can tell but I'm kind of freaking out already."

"I need you to get it in check, Nicanora. For everyone's sake."
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2016 6:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

3 March 2016

Nica did exactly what Daniel asked her not to. She freaked out. Failing to return to the inn room was compounded further by the fact she left her phone there. Daniel did his best not to worry about it, difficult as that may have been. How else did he expect her to react?

When he arrived at their training meeting point the next morning, he was surprised to find her waiting there. Though she still wore the same clothes from yesterday, a rather typical black on black on black leather getup, she had at the very least showered, her chestnut hair drawn back into a tight ponytail that left the strands to sweep between her shoulder blades. Dark shadows made half moons beneath her eyes, darkening brown until the gold slivers were the barest glimmer.

"Hi...," he began as he neared. Her frowned pulled itself downwards even further.

"We're running today," she said abruptly, turning on her heel and starting at a slow jog down the path.

"We can run to warm up, if you want," he conceded, picking up his pace to catch up with her.

"No. Not to warm up. We're running. Until I say stop or until one of us keels over, we're going run. This isn't negotiable and it counts as training, so don't say a damn word and try to keep up." Terse as her tone was, he knew better than to argue. He could have made a case for sticking to their lesson plans but breaking from routine was alright every once in awhile.

So they ran.

Through Battlefield Park from east to west, emerging somewhere on the northside of Seaside. They ran along jagged cliffs, the rhythmic thumping of their pace coming in time with the beating of the sea on the shore. They ran through ankle deep sand and surf. They ran along the cobblestone lined streets of the old part of the market. They ran past the churches of Old Temple to the tune of ringing bells. They ran along the boardwalks of Dockside, leaping and dodging crates and cargo. They ran and ran and ran, long past the point of her sides aching, far past the point of stamina and speed runes' short lives, well beyond the point that she could even think anymore.

It was a path well picked in Daniel's eyes, one that took him through each of the city's distinctly different districts, across uneven and unfamiliar terrain, and finally brought them back to the old inn that they were calling home for the time being. Nicanora was still a few paces ahead of him when she slowed to a stop, pausing only long enough to catch her breath before pushing through the front door. Hot on her trail, Daniel wanted to ask just where she had gone the night before and whether or not she was okay. But she was too quick and by the time he closed the gap between them, she slipped through the door to her room and shut it firmly in his face.

"Nicanora," he said against the crack.

"Go away, Daniel. I don't want to talk to you right now," she called back, her voice muffled by the door between them. He heard something heavy hit the other side before it slid down to the floor.

"You know where to find me when you're ready to. I'll see you on Sunday for training," he answered, stepping back from the door in favor of its twin only fifteen feet further down the hall.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2016 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

11 April 2016

Mondays were running days. They were the one day a week that she let the wind carry her faster than any words that Daniel could speak. Two pairs of swift feet pounded a rhythmic cadence through the districts, one after another after another, until they had made two familiar circuits that looped them in a figure eight around the city. It gave her time to think and today, she had much to process.

Like the spare key that was jingling around loose in her pocket. It had been casually passed over sometime after a long conversation in an even longer hot shower washed away the thick layer of mud and grime that she had accumulated over the course of a particularly rough and tumble twelve hours worth of training. It came with a promise that it was nothing serious and that she was simply welcome to use the paramedic's apartment whenever needed.

More importantly it came less than a day after Niamh had pulled Nica aside to tell her that she had to return to Miami soon.

"Been o'er two months, lass. Ya still got Danny and Dia... and heck, even Will."

"I know. I just hate to see you go..."

"But ya love t' watch me leave, don'tcha now?"

"Haaa. Funny, Nee. Thank you, though. Para todo."


Her steps slowed to a jog and then finally a walk as they crossed through a section of the marketplace that was bustling with heavy foot traffic as the noon hour closed in on the boutiques and bistros. Daniel caught up to her and they walked in silence for almost five minutes while winding through the stream of people that meandered to and fro with only the vaguest sense of purpose.

"I think I'm going to find an apartment," she blurted out suddenly, bringing to life a turn of Daniel's head as he studied her profile. Nica quickly added, as if justifying her reasoning, "Niamh's going back to Miami. I've held her up here for too long."

"She stayed because she cares about you. The same reason--," Daniel began only to be cut off by a snort and a shake of her head from the shorter of the two Shadowhunters.

"No, not the same reason you and Dia are staying. You're here for the same reason I am, because we can't go back until we straighten things out. Don't say otherwise or I'll kick you in the shin." Her monologue was leveled with a faint touch of teasing that brought light to what was ultimately a crapshoot situation all around. Daniel didn't seem amused though, a thoughtfulness touching his features as he debated on how to respond.

"I suppose you're right. My apologies for insinuating otherwise," he nodded aside to her and quieted, their breathing and footsteps acting as the only exchange of sound between them as the marketplace gave way to Dragon's Gate. At the northernmost tip of the district was the dowdy inn that they had been occupying ever since the night she had killed Silvano. The two rooms were tight and though they had been acceptable for the first few weeks, they quickly became cramped quarters ripe for cabin fever and foul tempers.

She didn't blame Niamh for wanting to leave.

"It would be good to get you and Dia a place too, so you're not stuck in that inn until... until whenever it is that you're going home," she said softly. Daniel didn't answer, not right at first at least, but as they turned the last corner before the inn, he sighed.

"And what about you? There hasn't been a night that we've stayed here that you haven't woken up with night terrors. I worry that with Niamh gone that you'll not sleep," he answered. It was Nica's turn to let the silence linger between them.

"I'll be fine on my own. I have to be. Maybe we'll shorten a few of our days so that we can look at places." Plural, because there was no way that she was going to live with Daniel.

"You're the one who lengthened our sessions beyond requirement. I'm not opposed to cutting them down if you're of the mind."

"We'll have to, I suppose." And she would have to find another distraction to keep her mind off of the dull ache that seemed ever present in her chest, just beneath the faded parabatai Mark under her collarbone.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2016 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

29 April 2016

"Hey, I can't come to the phone right now but if you drop your name and number after the beep, I'll get back to you as soon as I can."

BEEP


Sigh.

"I wish you were here right now. You would know just what to say to make things...bearable. Not better, but bearable. I thought it couldn't get worse, that losing you was the end of the line for me and everything after that I'd be numb to. But I see his pain and I feel my own and I can't help but wonder if maybe...maybe it can always get worse... ... ... Time doesn't make things better, that saying is bull ***. It just makes you think that you can carry more because you're used to the weight of what you've got. I'm so angry, it isn't fair. I need to be strong though. Still. I can be strong and angry, right? I miss you, Christopher. Desearía que estuvieras aquí."
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PostPosted: Mon May 02, 2016 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

1 May 2016

"I'm gonna be carrying you home by the end of the night, aren't I?"

"More durable than I look," he told her with only the slightest slur in his speech. "Fire and lead couldn't do it. Doubt the liquor will."

Her patience was too worn to humor his self-deprecation. "Really? Really?"

"I'll regret this is the morning." It was quite the lucid statement from a man well beyond drunk, edged with an unabashed truth that did nothing to flatter any perceptions how durable he might have been on the inside. "But right now I'm just gonna be sad and angry and bitter with the world about losing my friend and not give a f***."

"That's not what tonight was supposed to be about for the Angel's ****ing sake." She tossed her hands up. On the way down she caught another drink from a server. One, not two. No sharing with the already drunk paramedic. "But whatever. Wallow. I'm gonna take a walk."

"Angels ****ing makes abominations," he blurted out suddenly, the words not his own and frighteningly lucid.

She was three steps away and far too close for that not to rake a cold shiver down the curve of her spine. Turning back to him, she took a step and a half back toward him. "Yeah, you've had enough to drink."

Defiant always, Will reached for another drink and promptly swallowed it down. "Now I've had enough." He started to wobble his way towards the way home. Or what he thought was the way home. Or wherever wasn't here.

Grip tightened around her glass but before she could go breaking it, she swallowed its contents and gave the empty away. Then and only then did she stalk after the medic. "That was mature. Are you going to be an asshat the rest of the night?"

"No. If you're coming home with me, I plan on being a vagina hat too."

"I'm not coming home with you. I'm making sure you make it back to your place and then I'm going back to mine." Once she caught up, she pressed forward further until she was half a step ahead of him, the angle of her annoyance lost to her lead.

"Don't mind me. Go do what you gotta do. Bye, Felicia." The drunken paramedic veered off towards the right, away from her. Home might be that way.

Her steps stuttered to a stop and she turned around to stare after him as he deviated course. Jaw worked to keep it from falling ajar, her lips falling into deepset frown. Did he just? He did. Obvious conflict scrawled itself across her expression only so long as it took for annoyance and anger to override them, tamping down the dreaded feels in favor of a flippant gesture of her hand. "Fine. Bye." For all that she wanted to leave, she stood there watching his path.

Pride got him outside of her line of sight eventually, where he promptly keeled over in some bushes and started hurling. He knew he shouldn't have had all that Juana Burrito before coming...

She was vaguely aware that once he went out of view that she had lifted onto her toes, like she was primed to give chase. That chase never came though and she fell back on her heels, turned a precise about face, and found the closest exit she could to escape the glen's clearing.

The world spun. Two different pieces of music warred in his head and made everything turn on end. The paramedic toppled into the bushes and out of sight.

Nica was left to her anger and some twisting feeling that she couldn’t quite give a name to. It unsettled her gut and heated her skin against the late night springtime chill. There was a war of logic versus emotion raging through her veins with each step that took her further and further from the revels of Beltane. Will was grieving, she couldn’t fault him for that, but she wanted to be so angry with him, with everyone. She was not a fan of the universe at the moment, to say the least. The city drew her back, calling her to the darker streets of Old Temple and then eventually Dockside. They were familiar paths that she took often to get to the sort of clubs that pulsed bass heavy electronic music well into the early hours of the morning. She could blow off steam, dance until her legs felt like wet pasta, and go home to sleep off the haze that had settled over her mind thanks to the influence of a little too much feywine.

Damn Faeries.

Angels ****ing make abominations.

“What the f*** does that even mean?” She asked the cool night air. He didn’t mean her kind, did he? They weren’t angels despite their blood but their creation was a complicated and convoluted story that she had never offered to explain in full to the paramedic. Were they abominations? By some schools of thought, they might have been. No, he couldn’t have meant herself and her ilk. But if he didn’t, why would he bother saying such a thing?

The pretty, plastic smile she gave the club’s doorman was enough to get her in without a flash of identification. She sauntered in like she owned the place. By this hour, it reeked of sweat and spilled alcohol, the mass of undulating bodies in the middle of the dance floor doing more than enough to propagate the stench. Once she got a drink in her hand, she went to join them, moving gracefully among the roiling tangle of arms and legs and swaying torsos. Technicolor strobe lights turned the sheen of perspiration on their skin into rainbow diamonds, fracturing light in hazy tangents that cleaved starshine paths through fog machine smoke. It didn’t take long to fall into step, the pulsing music’s beat synchronizing with her heartbeat until she couldn’t tell one from the other. Her blood felt thick in her veins, heavy with alcohol’s influence that worsened the more she injected into her system.

An hour and then two were lost to the music, broken up only by colorful shooters and their heady influence. Midway through the third and somewhere just before last call, she traded off dance partners for what she figured would be the final time that night. Ever the Rhydinian cliche of tall, dark, and handsome, he was at the very least a superb dancer. Somewhere along the way they exchanged names. Beckett. He wasn’t unnecessarily muscle bound but there was strength in the arms that wound around her and a dragging pass of her fingertips down his torso told stories of the hard lines carving definition beneath the tactilely pleasing fabric of his shirt. His eyes though, they may have been his most striking feature. An arctic blue, they were so pale that only by the club’s flashing lights could she tell that they weren’t white. It made it difficult not to stare but he accommodated her study with a curl of a subtle smile, their gaze held until he leaned down to murmur beside her ear.

Without realizing it, they had spent nearly an hour together and by the time his sibilant words touched her skin, last call was long since over and the lights were on the verge of coming up. Beckett’s cool fingers wrapped a possessive circle around her wrist to lead her through the dwindling crowd. It was like walking after getting off of a tilt-a-whirl, each step walking a fine line between balance and crashing. They were a tangle of arms and mouths as they spilled out onto the darkened Dockside street, uneven pavement and cobbles alike proving treacherous for the entangled pair. The moons above were their only source of light, painting a silvery path upon which they bobbed and wove before crashing into the worn brick of a nearby storefront. Drenched in the shadow of the building’s broad eave, hands set out on explorations of uncharted territory while lips and tongues waged a battle for dominance.

Whatever happened, he'll walk it off. We'll buy him some tea.

This was supposed to be a distraction and all she could think of was Will. Her back ended up again cold brick, making her arch away in reflex. Beckett’s mouth moved against the corner of hers, trailing a drag of lips along her jaw to the soft spot beneath her left ear.

He's fine. He'll be fine. Totally fine…

He wasn’t fine. Not Cris, not Will, not any of his friends that had mustered up the gumption to go to the Beltane fires that evening. Shae’s naming of the fallen Nephilim as her Green Man en absentia was a poetic punch to the gut. Nica could only imagine how Will would have reacted to hearing that. Luckily he had shown up just a few minutes too late.

He’s not dead.

A prick of sharp canines ripped her from her intoxicated reverie, her hands planting against the man’s chest for a firm shove backwards. It sent him back only a step before he moved forward again, caging her against the wall with a press of his arms against the worn bricks.

“What the f***?” She hissed. His eyes were almost luminescent in the dark, the moonlight silhouetting him enough that she had to squint to make out the telltale points of protruding eyeteeth. Twin beads of liquor soaked red welled to the surface of her skin, just below the curved Speak in Tongues rune on the side of her neck.

“What?” He bowed his head toward her only to be rebuked with a firm crack of her hand across his cheek. It startled a laugh out of him, low and humorless. Her hand was still lifted, posed after the follow through of the smack. She couldn’t pull it away before he once more grasped her wrist, his hold none too gentle on the second time around. “Feisty, I like it. Come now, sweetheart, it’s just a little fun. Trust me.”

“No, we’re done here.” There was a steely edge to her tone that matched the look she gave him. A testing tug of her wrist had him tightening his hold and darkening his gaze.

“On the contrary, I think we’re just getting started.” He pinned her held wrist against the wall with his full weight pressing against her. His knee separated her thighs in spite of her squirming but that didn’t keep her from bringing her left knee up for a sharp blow to his groin. Dead or not, the impact was enough to make him curl inward. Nica yanked her wrist toward his wrapped thumb to break his weakened hold and brought her quickly clenched fist down on the back of his bowed head. The vampire snarled as it dropped him to a knee but he recovered quickly enough and surged upward to grab her by the throat. He shoved her back against the brick hard enough to wind her, pushing her upwards until her toes scraped at the pavement. Hauling her up until she was eye to eye with him, he leaned in, his smile unamused and cruel. “Sweet thing, you just bought yourself a very, very long night.”

His mouth met hers in a harsh crush. She felt his tongue sweep along her bottom lip and faintly she could taste iron. Her feet kicked, ricocheting from the wall to his shins and back, doing little to dissuade him. If anything it incensed him further, his hand tightening until she couldn’t breathe. Her fingers clawed at his wrist, ripping thin skin to spill shimmering red that welled from the gouges her nails left. He snarled against her mouth and she felt a seemingly unintentional drag of fangs across the pulp of her bottom lip repay the favor when they split smeared lipstick and flesh both. The pleased thrumming in Beckett’s throat was enough to make her stomach turn. Of all the nights to be ill prepared, she found herself faced with a leech with an appetite and a disregard for consent. She had been ready for faeries, iron powder dusting her hair and a similarly composed dagger tucked away beneath the hemline of her dress. It was the closest thing she could reach while its silver twin was nestled against the outside of her right thigh. Silver, while toxic for vampires typically, wasn’t fatal either.

He’s not dead.

Her right hand relented in its futile clawing and fell limp to her side. Lack of air made her vision explode with starbursts and black spots. Her kicking slowed and her left hand fell too. Each motion, however unintentional it seemed, was a careful ploy to keep his attention away from the creeping of fingers against her thigh. The taste of her own blood was thick on her tongue but she couldn’t swallow against the grip on her throat so it pooled beneath her tongue and between her teeth and bottom lip. When she finally quit moving, Beckett gave her bottom lip one more slow suck then leaned back. His hips pinned her as did the hand around her neck but he still rocked enough to look her over.

“Going to play nice now?” He crooned, dipping his chin to lick a dribble of blood that trickled from the corner of her mouth. She jerked an awkward nod of her chin which spilled more sticky red from her swollen lips and down her chin. He began to set her down, his grip loosening just enough for her to suck in a rough gasp of air. It was enough though and as soon as her feet touched the ground she swung her right arm up, the silver dagger held in a backwards grip. It arced up caught him in the temple, sinking through the weak point. She had to wrench it to drive it fully to the hilt, sending Beckett stumbling back. Nica let go of the dagger as he fell, his caterwauling cry bouncing off the buildings along the empty street. A block away, a light turned on in an upstairs apartment. A curtain rustled then the light dimmed. They knew better than to get involved.

“On the contrary,” she snarled, descending on him with her stele in her left hand. He tried to push her off of him but even with his healing factor, shaking off a shiv to the grey matter was no easy task. As he finally yanked the dagger free, she stunned him again with punch square in the face. His head snapped back and the sweeping motions of her left etched a crisp and clean fire rune into the front of the vampire’s shirt. He screamed as the fire sprung to life, devouring papery flesh and fabric alike. Nicanora rolled free of the man just before the flames engulfed him, pausing only to rip the silver dagger from his grasp. He kicked and rolled, his anguished moans filling the air in much the same way the scent of burning flesh did. She got to her feet and looked down at him. Bloodied fingers fished her cigarettes from the side of her bra. Freeing one, she set it to her lips and leaned down just far enough for Beckett’s funeral pyre to light it for her. Straightening as she took a drag, she turned and let long legged strides carry her swiftly away from the burning vampire. Black smoke rose from the site and grey smoke trailed after the Shadowhunter’s retreat.

"He is dead."
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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2016 10:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

11 May 2016

On Monday she had signed the papers.

A six month lease on a one bedroom apartment in Old Temple. The Blackwaters had signed a shorter lease for a two bedroom in the same building only two floors lower than her. When discussing apartments, she and Daniel had fundamental disagreements on whether to go with the building on Rosemont Road or the building on Seacrest Street. A matter of compromise found them calling Kingston Street home for the short term. It was a turn of the century building with plenty of charm. Nica had sacrificed closet space in the agreement but that tub was to die for.

Who said she wasn’t diplomatic?

On Tuesday she had begun moving the few belongings she did have over to the new place.

Mostly clothes and a whole lot of weapons. It was neither cramped like the inn in Dragon’s Gate nor cozy like Taneth’s little cottage. The open space and the vaulted ceiling made her uneasy, like she’d never be able to properly make use of the area. When her closet was full and her weapons were either stored or stashed where she could, she spent the rest of the day Marking the place.

Protection, quiet, strength. She knew Daniel was likely two floors down doing much the same.

On Wednesday she locked herself inside.

She turned her phone to silent and ignored the numerous messages and calls that came in. Anyone who knew her knew that the day was not a good one just by date alone. Daniel had brought coffee by in the morning. He left when she refused to open the door. Niamh called, the humming buzz of her phone skittering across the floor telling her it wasn’t just a text message. Still she didn’t answer, letting it roll over to voicemail. Around noon she finally checked it.

”Ay lass… ah… ye know me ‘n’ things like this. Jus’ wanted ta let ye know I was thinkin’ of ye t’day. Oh, also t’ remind ye that ye’ve got people ‘ere fer ye if ye need us. Lemme know iffn yer needin’ anythin’. Later dove.”

“The one person that I need today isn’t here… so…,” Nica trailed off, letting her voice echo in the emptiness of hardwood floors and smooth, freshly painted drywall. While she was at it, she flipped through her text messages too.

Will St. Jude.

Daniel Blackwater.

Daniel Blackwater.

Will St. Jude.

Will St. Jude.

Niamh Kilcannon.

Will St. Jude.

Daniel Blackwater.

Gregorio Truecross.



Phoebe Altatorre.

Hola cariño. Espero que estás bien hoy. Te amamos y te extrañamos. Pensando en ti. XX Phoe.

Christopher’s step-mother. It was a sweet gesture but she couldn’t even imagine what Phoebe and Michael, his parents, were going through today. She wanted to cry. After all, she hadn’t since his death. It had been an ever present threat, lingering just behind a hard wall of emotional armor that she wore like a second skin. Without responding, Nica left her phone on the counter, freed a bottle of something or other from the only full cabinet in the apartment (the liquor cabinet), she retreated to the sanctity of the bathroom where she put another barrier between herself and the world, locking the door and climbing into the empty tub. Fully clothed, she sank down into the porcelain depths, the only sign of life coming in the form of the rise and fall of the bottle with each drink and the ragged breathing that was her best attempt at holding it together.

“Feliz cumpleaños, Christopher.”
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 10, 2016 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

10 September 2016

One swipe, three taps. She held her breath and waited. It wouldn't last forever, after all.

"Hey, I can't come to the phone right now but if you drop your name and number after the beep, I'll get back to you as soon as I can."

BEEP

"... ... ... I want to be angry... ... ..." exhale, "I want to be angry at him. At them. It's wrong. It's so wrong... But so is my anger... ... ... ... ... I'm not mad that he came back, no matter the laws. ****, I've broken enough of them myself," another exhale, slower this time, "... I'm angry because I wish it was you back here with me." Nica laughed, short and humorless. "Wrong, right? I know. Don't hate me for it. I'll see you again eventually... in the mean time I'll try to do the best I can. Te amo, hermano."
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2017 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

11 May 2017

Between Bluebird Sky, Will, and the intermittent nature of working with Crispin both through training and the odd sort of business partnership they had formed, the distractions were abundant. It made it easy, almost, to keep her hands, heart, and mind busy enough that she could avoid thinking. That was the killer, thinking, and it was a slow death. Trust her, there was nothing quick about the steady dissolution of a bond forged over a lifetime and through a nigh unbreakable oath. Nothing fast or merciful about the pervasiveness of her dwelling. It had been almost a year and a half, surely she should have been over it by now.

Instead it was as if someone had cemented her boots to New Year’s Day so that every sunrise was the first in which her parabatai no longer existed.

It was Thursday. It should have been a training day. Instead a vague text had been left for her partner that she wouldn’t be available. Partner, what an odd term. The other Rhy’Din based Shadowhunter had always been something of an enigma for Nicanora. There were certain unspoken understandings struck between them, a familiar knowing in their upbringing and coping mechanisms. Or lack thereof, it was debateable. It was a slow burn friendship, built bit by bit on a foundation of vigorous training, Asian food, and mutual implied facepalming in the presence of the not-so-Mundane paramedic.

But at the end of the day, despite their similar diminutives, he wasn’t Christopher. Christopher was dead and though it wasn’t the same deep clawfoot tub she had sulked in the year prior, she spent the better part of the day curled up in the locked bathroom. Her company was a bottle of Ron Montero pale rum and a pack of cowboy killers. Both were half gone by midday, leaving her head to swim or more precisely drown in her thoughts. Sometime around three (or was it four?), she freed her phone from the counter and fumbled through her contacts.

--A--

Altatorre, Christopher


Nica tapped the call button and wait for it to go straight to voicemail. Instead it rang three times and connected.

“Hello?” An unfamiliar masculine voice answered. Her breath caught in her chest.

“Hello?” They asked again. For all the words she had meant to ramble to her best friend’s voicemail, she had none for the man on the other end.

“I hear someone breathing. Are you there?” Once more their voice crackled in Nica’s ear. Finally she fought back the bile rising in her throat and managed to answer.

“Y-yeah. I’m here…. Um… Christopher?” She knew it wasn’t him but it was the only name that could form on her tongue. The person on the other end sighed.

“No. This isn’t Christopher and I really wish you people would stop calling for him.”

“I’m s--,” Before the words could slip free, the other person hung up. His apartment, his phone number, it was like she was losing Christopher in bits and pieces all over again no matter how much she tried to cling to what was left. Though she wondered who else still called Christopher’s number after all this time, the thought was set to the wayside in favor of acknowledging the pain residing in her chest just beneath her right collarbone. It was enough that when she touched two fingers to the spot, she half expected them to come away sticky and red but there was nothing there save for the long faded Mark, a silver-white reminder of what had been and would never again be.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2017 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

19 June 2017

The time difference between Nicanora and Daniel meant that her text came in the early evening despite the morning hour in Rhy’din. Deep in the Carpathian Mountains was hardly a good place for cell reception, especially within the high walls of the Scholomance, a castle cut into the face of a mountain. It took Daniel another hour and a half to get far enough away to make the call without rousing suspicion.

Nica answered on the third ring. “Digame.”

“Nicanora.”

“Daniel… I didn’t expect to hear from you so soon.”

“You said to call at my convenience. Now is convenient.” It wasn’t, but just the same. Convenience was subjective.

“Thank you. I’ve, um, I’ve got an odd request but I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t absolutely need it.”

“Of course. What do you need?”

“A copy of the Book of Gray. Sooner rather than later.”

“What of your familial copy?”

“In Madrid. I don’t think my father would offer it over so easily.”

“Not even for your studies?” Beat. “I assume it is for that?”

“...Yeah. Save for me and money, he refuses to send anything to Rhy’Din.”

“Odd, but alright. I’d think for as intent as he was on you continuing your training that he wouldn’t be opposed to such an essential item.”

“My thoughts as well… but you know my father.”

“Very well. When do you need it?”

“The sooner the better but it’s not horribly urgent.”

“Mmm, give me twenty-four hours to locate a sendable copy and I can arrange shipping soon after. Four days?”

“Four days is more than sufficient.”

“Consider it done then.”

“I owe you.”

“You owe me nothing. You know I’d…”

“I know. How’re Dia and Cristián?”

“Well enough but you should call her.”

“I… I will. Eventually.”

“Mmh. Anything else I can do for you?”

“No… no, that should be it. Daniel?”

“Yes, Nicanora?”

“Gracias. Por todo.”

“It’s nothing, really.”

“It’s more than you know. I’ll talk to you later.”

“Goodbye, Nica.”

“Bye Daniel.”
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

23 June 2017

Late

"You simply do not let them be taken." She repeated to herself on her way from the edge of Seaside and Battlefield Park to the heart of Old Temple. The other Nephilim's words echoed in her mind with every step of the way. Beachside bungalows gave way to the short and squat brick and mortar buildings of the old market. When she crossed the river and those buildings turned into sky reaching spires and bell towers, she knew she was nearly home. Unfortunately, when she climbed the steps to the front door of the apartment she shared with the rather standoffish paramedic, she thought that maybe just maybe she'd catch him before he headed back out to work yet again. Alas, it wasn't in the cards. The apartment was dark save for a light on in the fish tank and one over the kitchen sink. Her shoulders sank and with the motion she dropped her rucksack by the door and her keys on the table. By the time he returned, she had fallen asleep on the couch. Not quite like she intended to stay there overnight but rather curled up uncomfortably into one corner with her head on her arm and her arm on the couch's back.

2211 Hours

Old Temple


"You two talkin' yet?" Ronnie glanced aside to his partner, slumped down in the passenger seat of the old ambulance. The their shift had ended almost forty-five minutes prior and the had spent the last fifteen just sitting there, parked in the alley outside the towering sprawl of his warehouse apartment. There were bags under the sandy haired man's eyes and he hadn't shaved in over a week.

Will merely grunted his response. "No."

"You over it yet?" Ronnie snorted.

"I dunno." A shoulder rolled in a shrug but he at least turned a small glance the much bigger man's way. "Why?"

"Life's short, kid. Just..." Ronnie paused for a moment. "Don't forget that." The engine came to life again in a modest rumble and before will could protest, they were pulling out of the alley. Three blocks later they were pulling up to an all night Stop-n-Shop; it might have been divine providence that the Grillenium Falcon truck was parked outside.

"Huh."

Twenty minutes later...

The sound of Will's key in the lock was faint, a light nudge of his hip causing it to creak when it opened, followed by the fragile crinkling of a plastic grocery bag. His work bag was discarded by the door, the subtly fragrant bags finding a home on the coffee table before the slumbering Nephilim. He couldn't have said how long he had stood there, watching her with a mild tilt of his head to one side. It was some minutes after that when he stood behind the couch and let the thin petals of a fake Stop-n-Shop rose glide along the long curve of her neck, after he had curled an errant lock of hair over the shell of her ear.

It had taken a night or two for her to de-escalate from the elevated high of battle but by Friday she slept soundly even with the rustling of plastic and the metallic click and wooden groan as he came through the door. She was hungry at the very least and if the pseudo-velvet rose petals hadn't roused her, the smell of food would have. There was a subtle tinge of whiskey on her breath which may have accounted for how she slept so well in such an uncomfortable position. A leonine yawn stretched her jaw, her eyes resistant to opening. But only for a few moments before she groaned and sat upright. Her head tipped forward then side to side to work the tension out of her muscles. She succeeded somewhat but couch sleeping was hell on the alignment, angel blooded or not. Her nostrils flared, assessing the bag on the coffee table. Sniff. Sniff sniff. "Pesto, provolone, and mozzarella?"

"Enough for days." The flower teased down over her collarbone and back up over her cheek, the paramedic looming over her. "Fridge has been bare all week and you're recovering."

"Tomato basil?" Came the follow up. It was easier to talk food than it was to let spill everything on her mind. She looked up and back over her shoulder at him only to wince at the crick in her neck. Turning back, she stretched and arm across her torso then swung her legs off the couch so she could lean and look into the bag herself.

"And sopa de ajo." Will's muscles creaked, his body protesting as he shrugged out of his work jacket and tossed it over the back of a nearby chair. "Plus two bags of lemon cookies." The rose was slipped into her hair before both hands were planted on the backrest of the couch, his athletic form leaned forward as he watched her.

That must have been the garlic she smelled. A look of legitimate surprise echoed across her expression as she pawed through the bag's contents, drawing out paper wrapped sandwiches and styrofoam cups of soup kept closed with flimsy plastic lids. For the time being, she left the rose in her hair. A plastic soup spoon was twirled between her fingers as she sat back and tipped a look up at him nearly upside down. "Come sit with me?"

"I dunno." One corner of his mouth twitched faintly. "Got a good view down the front on your shirt."

She glanced down at the neckline of her shirt, a navy blue scoop neck that had a habit of clinging to her frame. A small smile curled her mouth and with a heave ho sigh, she reached up for him, intent on dragging him down to her. "Por favor? I've, ah, got things to say."

Without sharing another snappy comeback, the paramedic rounded the couch and then sat down beside her. He made no move for the food but sat close enough to Nicanora to inspire at least some comfort in the situation before them. He tipped a subtle look her way, patient.

"I've been unfair to you." She began once he settled though she didn't look at him. Instead she kept her hands busy with peeling lids from containers and unwrapping sandwiches. Each was squared neatly on the table, an almost perfectionist bordering on OCD angling setting them at nearly perfect intervals. "I've been unfair and I'd like to explain my understanding of why that is the case. I just want you to listen, if you're willing. When I'm done, you're welcome to be mad, to yell, to leave, or whatever. But I just want you to listen... if you will. Okay?"

"I'm sitting here," he told her, nodding. "If you don't mind the stink of sixteen hours in the cut, the least I can do is give you my ear." Both hands dropped carefully into his lap.

She nodded twice, once for him, once for herself. Forearms to her knees, she sucked at her bottom lip, running her tongue across the chapped flesh as she decided where to begin. For all that she rehearsed it on the way home, in the moment it had all slipped out of her head. Paper crinkled as she freed a lemon cookie from its friends. Her fingers worried the edge, scraping flakes of the treat off at random.

"The way I've... treated you. It isn't a reflection on you or your skills... your experiences. It's a reflection on me. To have you at my side in the midst of the things I've seen... I have no doubt that it would in fact make things easier for all involved. Assuredly had you been there on Tuesday it would have. But the issue isn't with you. It's with me. If you're in a room, I can always find you... and not just because of your mouth." A look flickered aside just to see if he picked up on the nip of levity before she took a breath and continued.

"Always. And in that moment, if I thought for an instant that something could happen while I was focused on another task, I would hesitate between the two. Hesitation, no matter how slight, that's how you get yourself killed." Fast the lemon cookie was becoming a pile of crumbs on her thigh. "I learned how to wield a sword before I learned how to ride a bike. I had my judo sandan before most kids trade in their white belt. I've been a fighter since I could walk and I do not hesitate. Or I didn't..."

The rest of the cookie crumbled in her grasp and she poked at the remnants on her leg with a frown. "Since Christopher died, I find myself second guessing every step that could run the risk of compromising the little bit that I've built since then. You're at the center of that and that isn't your fault. You're not him. He's dead. You're not. And I have no right to bubble wrap you to protect you from the life I live, not if I want to maintain the privilege of our relationship. I'm... I'm not sorry for wanting to keep you safe but I am sorry that I didn't give you a choice in the matter. I'm going to try to be better about it."

With a heavy exhale and a heave of her shoulders, she was done.

"In hindsight," he said quietly. "I can see that. You lost the most important person in your life. Now there's someone else almost as special and you're forced to realize that it's possible it'll happen again."

He leveled a hard stare at the food laid out on the coffee table, his own elbows dropping to his knees a she took a deep breath. "My life has been defined by people telling me what I can't do. What I'm not capable of. Where I can't go. Who I can't be. I remember more of my earlier childhood than I'm willing to admit to anyone and I was only ever meant to be a footnote in a sad newspaper article. From one place to another, it's been about what I can't survive, what I can't endure, and what I've left behind. What I've lost."

A subtle turn of his head stole a look at her in profile.

"Can't begin to understand what you had with, Christopher. You can explain the parabatai to me a thousand times and it'll only ever be words. Important words, but just words. I don't come from your world. But I've lost. I lost my birth parents. I've lost my adopted family, since on my Earth I'm KIA. Every friend I've ever had since the age of seventeen is dead. I couldn't save any of them. I work a job where failure isn't guaranteed but the strong possibility is inevitable. I lose people. I... get loss." A soft snort flared his nostrils and, for a moment, he considered breaking the rule about smoking inside the apartment. "It made being an affable ass easy. Keeping people at arm's length easy. Now? Not so easy."

Will looked away.

"It made wanting to live without committing violence easy. I've engaged in more than my fair share. I was good as it. But I made a new life here, though it was easy to walk away. Now here I am. Beautiful warrior woman, smart and sexy, can slay monsters and suck a golfball through a garden hose. You've never made any bones about who you are. What you do. It's part of you, so... I love that too, even if I worry. Nicanora...

“...life is short. Too short. I'll live it on my terms. You can live it on yours. We can do that together. I'm no more fragile than you are and, Spain aside, am capable of more than you get to see. If you need me. If our friends need me. I'll step up. I can not throw a punch and still not let you down. I love your stupid, hot, sexy, warrior ass too much to just sit on my hands."

"I never wanted you to think I felt you were incapable," she murmured. After all, she had spent ten minutes explaining the issue wasn't with his skills but with her own, a doubt that sank in and made her believe that perhaps she wasn't capable. Steam rolled off the soup in billowing wisps that were soon lost to the atmosphere. She soaked up her counter, taking it all in word by word, spoken and unspoken both. Her fingers brushed the crumbs from her leg. Steadying her hands against her knees, she swallowed a thought and instead offered a few quiet words. "I'll do better about keeping you in the know and letting you decide where to involve yourself. Deal?"

"Come here, Nicanora." There was the single, subtle crook of a finger.

"Our food's getting cold," she pointed out but turned toward him anyways, one knee drawn up beneath her to better face him.

"That's why we have a microwave." She turned and a hand was there to grab her, fingers hooking into the front of her jeans. Will was unapologetic in the way he pulled her forward with a jerk, yanking her across his lap. "And a toaster oven. And takeout menus."

The other hand found her hair, brushing it from her face and using the grip to turn her gaze up to his, their eyes mean with minimal distance between. "Sometimes what we do pushes the wrong buttons, picking at mnemonic cues that dredge up things up without intending. Your heart was in the right place. So's mine. Just let me love the **** out of you, **** the Hell out of you, and if Hell takes umbrage to that, we'll face it together. Maybe we'll let Crispin help. He'll have to wear the Mario Kart shirt."

Careful not to kick the table in the process of being hauled into his lap, she fixed him with an owlish look as he brought her gaze up to bear. "You know he won't do that. He despises the whole thing." She said with a breathy laugh. "He, ah, sorta helped me work through this whole thought process. I know you were upset with him too, but his perspective helped, I think."

"I'll send him a cake." Or maybe a text. Or both. It was hard to tell at this point. "Ronnie helped too."

"Did he?" She wasn't surprised. Will's partner was often a voice of reason when the paramedic refused to see the light. "What'd he say?"

"That I'd never had sex this good." He lied.

"I'm surprised you didn't realize that on your own." The full line of her mouth swung into a smile before she tipped her chin to kiss him on the forehead. "Ronnie's good people. I'm glad you talked."

"You should eat, Fanny." The rose was plucked from her hair and teased along her neck. "I need to go defunk myself."

"Fiiiiiiine," she said after a moment, lingering in his lap despite her agreement.

"You're not moving," he pointed out to her, giving her hair a hard tug and dropping his other hand to her thighs. "Maybe I should eat Fanny then?"

"I'm not." She confirmed for his benefit, fixing him with a level stare. "In the shower maybe?"

That grip on her hair was a handy thing. It made it so easy to pull her in closer, his mouth laying claim to hers with a week's worth of repressed hunger.

The indecent sounds she had been saving for the first bites of food were instead muffled against his mouth. Nica squirmed in his lap, her hand seeking his free one to see instead about tugging them both to their feet.

"Mm." Will rumbled his approval into her mouth before a slow play of his tongue on hers ceased and he was drawing back. "Up," he encouraged her and, one they were upright, slapped her on the ass. "Pack the food back up."

And then he was headed for the bathroom.

She was up before he could pop the 'p' in 'up'. On her feet, the smack to her ass garnered a heated look but she took her time bending over the table to close up soup and re wrap sandwiches. Once it was stashed in the fridge, she followed amidst a shed trail of clothing.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2017 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

2 July 2017

"I really hate to do this, but is there any chance I might be able to get a little extra this month?"

"What're you blowing it all on now?"

"Hookers and blow, Papa. Obviously."

"Anora. I hate when you say that."

"I know, why do you think I say it?"

"To turn me grey."

"Ladies love silver foxes."

"What have foxes got to do with this?"

"...It's a term to describe attractive older men with greying hair."

Chuff.

"It's a good thing, I swear."

"Dios mio, mija."

"Okay, I'll stop. But do you think that's possible?"

"You've yet to answer my question."

"Oh. Uh... I may've... sorta... quit my job."

"Quit? And that necessitates a financial emergency on my part why?"

"Because it's for a good reason."

"Elaborate."

"I've been training."

"With whom?"

"Unimportant. What's important is that this has led to some lucrative casework through which I can exercise practical application of my skills as a Shadowhunter."

"I'm intrigued."

"I thought you may be. I was just... involved in something recently that meant missing scheduled shifts and ultimately my boss and I decided it was for the best if she could fill my position with someone who had a more mundane skillset."

"Go on."

"So... Will's working a lot to make up for it but if there's any way... any way in your heart that you'd consider it... I'm doing my best to abide by your wishes... to honor the gifts you've given me thus far in life..."

"He is helping to take care of you?"

"I don't need to be taken care of, Papa. I just need a little help."

"Semantics. When are you going to have him evaluated?"

"Evaluated?"

"For Ascension. It has been a year and a half. If you're serious about this man, it's only right."

"Papa... you know I can't do that..."

"Why not?"

"I don't think... I doubt he'd even... I mean... I can't even come home without the Clave jumping down my throat. You think they'll let me come home and offer a non-Nephilim for consideration? They want him for other reasons... they'll... they'll take him away from me and I'll never see him again."

"Do you think so low of our people?"

"Of our people? No. Of our government? Yes."

"We'll revisit the subject another time then."

"Please, Papa, I'd really rather not..."

"Fine. I'll make the transfer but I expect a report by the end of the month on your progress."

"Yes, Sir."

"I love you, mija."

"Te quiero tambien, Papa."
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