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Angels. Dust. Read 2187 times

VenomousEve

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Angels. Dust.
« on: July 13, 2016, 08:39:21 pm »
Episode I: Restraint is the Greatest Sin.

Remove the body; touch nothing else. Escort the detective and his new partner inside. Leave them in the foyer. Lock the door behind them. Remind the posted guard he is not to interfere, no matter what he hears. Remind him again. Report to the coroner’s office.

Simon laughed uncomfortably. “Well, John, I’m not one to argue trying new methods. I think we’ve got no choice but to move forward. Always progress.” He insisted. He shifted his weight from foot to foot and bounced on his toes. “That being said, I do wonder a bit about all this.” The officer murmured. John glanced at his partner and nodded stiffly.

“These freaks give me the creeps and the detective is a bit unsettling, himself. Sees too much, quite honest.” John grumbled. “But. Better they deal with this one than us. Makes me sick just thinking of it.” It was Simon’s turn to tip his chin in agreement. “Hope they get here soon, one way or the other.”

The sun dipped below the roofs of the cluttered, crooked buildings. It wasn’t a nice part of town. A feline scuffle broke out two alleyways down, yowls cutting the humid air. Late summer. It was nearly eight in the evening. The silence between the two men felt heavy. Finally, Simon cleared his throat. A straggling group of soot-faced children hurried by, clattering over the cobblestone. “The wife will be cross, if I’m not home soon.” A weary sigh, meant to be light hearted. John was looking up at the sky, which had bruised purple.

The echo of horse hooves on the uneven road brought both men to attention, straight-backed. A worn carriage approached, window curtains drawn, in a plume of dust. The pair of dark horses drew to a stop, matched bay geldings that could have been black hadn’t the low hanging sun caught their coats as it slid between the houses. The coachman stepped down smartly, dressed in grey, and tipped his hat at the two policemen. “Madam Lucile.” He said, and opened the carriage door.

A whorl of sweet smoke blossomed from the coach, dancing with the dust clouds still hanging in the air. Dainty shoes on the carriage step and a gloved hand extended from behind the door. The coachmen helped her down, deft. A flurry of heavy skirts and a shock of white as she emerged from the coiling opium mist. John and Simon exchanged a glance. Not what they had expected, perhaps.

She was young, though a proper girl would have been married by her age. Nonetheless, there were no gypsy rags or overly-red lips. Perhaps the officers had been to too many circus shows. Madam Lucile could have been a school teacher, had she not stood there with the long pipe hung between two fingers. She looked the men up and down with frighteningly sharp eyes. Grey, like a storm. “I apologize for being late.” Lucile said. There was a haze in her voice, throat plied with smoke, that did not match the acute edge of her stare.

John spoke up first. “It’s quite alright, Madam. Your partner has not yet arrived. You may wish to stay out here until he makes it in, though. She nodded, rolling a small wooden box over in one hand. It bore the Queen's crest. Seraphim, pearly concoction, in a slender glass syringe pressed safely in velvet lining. 

“As you say.” She hummed. Unreadable expression. Madame Lucile turned to her coachman. “You may go. I suspect it will be a long night.” Simon coughed into his sleeve. It was ominous, the way she said it. Lucile handed the coachman her pipe, which he placed back in the carriage before he left. She pulled the gloves from her hands. Long, slim fingers. A curious white scar across her left palm. She glided past the two officers, through the old iron gate and crumbling brick posts. It was a corner lot in poor condition, but more station than the surrounding homes. Lucile stood at the foot of the steps to the door stoop.

“The report said the victim was the only daughter of a young widow.” She said, words drifting like so many ghosts over her shoulder. Simon and John turned to watch the woman’s back. She was slight beneath the dark blue skirts and stood rigidly straight, crisp white blouse bound firmly in a dark corset. “The widow had remarried recently, had she not?”

She turned back to the two men, hands folded in front of her and head tipped to the side, just so. “There are older spirits here, clamoring to speak, but the girl is silent.” Simon felt the hair on the back of his neck stand on end. “She is here. I’m quite sure. But she is so very quiet.” John shivered, despite the balmy air. Occult freak. He found himself hoping the detective would arrive soon.

The sun had snuffed out for the night. The moon, shaded by spider-silk clouds, was a thin silver gash in the dark sky. The cats in the alley began their yowling again. Distant shouts from the last workers on the boat docks, echoing low through the narrow street. Lucile had turned back to the house, staring quietly into an upper window. 

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Re: Angels. Dust.
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2016, 07:46:56 pm »
Marla had him in her boutique. She could feel his tension, and his glances at the window, as though he’d be able to tell the time from the pace of passing boots. She intentionally took her time with his tie, a chock of blue, held against the white shirt with the head of a small silver pin around a blue stone. Cobalt, because that was their name. ‘Chester’ and ‘Marla’ barely mattered to others. Not that it came with any particular riches, but you were your family, or you were an urchin outside, playing with garbage in the sun of a summer that had mostly gone, or pushing against the walls to get away from the rain.

The design of the tiepin was echoed in the highest button of his grey vest. Chester didn’t mind her fussing, but he did mind being late. The boy softness had set against his bones, lifting features that always called for Marla to tie his black hair back with a ribbon. Today that strip of fabric, same as the tie, was a scrap from a dress that had been ruined in transit to her store. She’d made it into children’s clothes, he remembered. Rather rich blue for a kid, but she knew better than he. She hung the cufflinks that continued the direction of the button and the pin. Expensive ware. The disapproval shadowing his forehead made her huff. She’d not have her husband on a mission from the queen dressed in anything but her best.

“It’ll be splendid propaganda for my store when the queen’s hero wears Cobalt Remnants while saving London.” She said.

He adored her enthusiasm, when it lifted her recently freckled cheekbones into a smile that struggled to hide her teeth. One barely rotated incisor, the best thing about her laughter, but she’d convinced herself it was unbecoming. He pushed her chin to try and reveal it, but she’d had too much practice. “Why do you always make me into a mannequin when there is no time?” he asked, steady, not angry. She came down from the little step stool and shrugged.

“Why do you always look picturesque when you have no time?” she asked back and held out a hat and silver budded cane.

Chester frowned and pulled his gloves on. “None for me, thank you.” And not even her pout changed his mind. She tried to play at some dramatic, poetic point of husband and wife to lure him when he kissed her goodbye. The pair Forster walked in and appropriately distracted her so he could finally leave.

He waved down a box with one horse and made small talk about the latest Den in their neighborhood on the way. Chester tried to sound disgusted but intrigued, to see if the conversation could follow that tide. In reality, he was only the latter. He over-payed what he could upon arrival. The Smithers boy was hard working, and there was still baby sick on the shoulder of his vest.

The silhouette stepping out to meet Simon and John, finally, had polished shoes. A losing battle in London that gentlemen were drafted to upon some affluence. With his wife’s profession in mind, paired with their modest town house from where they both conducted their business, the sheen of black leather was no longer a choice. “Officers, gentlemen.” He said with an apologetic smile. Unlike Marla, he was all teeth with his niceties. Simon was not won over. Easy guess. Chester held out a small, cylindrical paper packet to the man. “For Sophie. You can tell her you hounded me for it, for the trouble and her time.” Sophie had a moderate sweettooth, but her eyes were always deprived. The give-away packets at Cobalt remnants were delightful.

John seemed impressed. Chester didn’t put forward the effort to see if it was for the gift or for realizing the root of Simon’s woes. “Your new partner, Cobalt.” John said and pointed with his entire hand beyond the gates. Cobalt did look, as the two caught him up, and thought the imagery that she played in was beautiful. Something about the asymmetry of the run down, once boastful house and the pretty someone at its mouth appealed to him. He rolled his ring once, inside the black accessory, and took a long step toward the building.

Pushing through the gates, hair bound back from features that were the pride of his bloodline, he might look to her as a prince coming home from fruitful travels to a home that had fallen apart in his wake. Was there such a thing as a prodigal orphan? He could not bring glory once more to this place, but he aimed to deliver justice to the steps she stood by. The gloves did come off for her, but he’d not reach if she was not the shaking kind. His gesture should be enough of an offer, if she were.

“Chester Cobalt. Just Cobalt is fine. Excited to work with you.” He said and looked her over as politely as he could. It was to measure what kind of person she was, what she'd give away simply standing still, and not record her shapes. He lingered on the box with the crest and his blood ran faster over his muscles. “Have you sensed anything yet?” he asked and took a breath to sample the world around here. Stagnant, like the grass, but more rot here than garden neglect should provide.

He brought his own vices, though nothing as experimental as Seraphim. Saint that Marla was, it was in her to provoke. She'd ordered him a small case, silver, drawn it herself, and packed it with french needles, lithe. His jacket and shirt, from the rebel side of her collection, had sleeves with buttons past the elbow. Clean Libertine, she'd called it, and drew the first sketches the morning after their wedding. He didn't think of Marla when he looked at gray eyes. "I'm not usually late, like this."

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Re: Angels. Dust.
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2016, 02:45:37 am »
She heard the men talking. The detective must have arrived. Lucile waited for him to make his way to her. Tempest stare slid toward him, and then the rest of her face followed. Heart-shaped, with a dainty chin. Slim, but pronounced nose-bridge. Thick, mahogany dark hair. Curls, if the stray strands were any clue. “Cobalt, then.” She agreed, and offered him her hand. Musician’s fingers.

“It's an honor. I am Lucile Rose.” There was a family name she didn’t give, Basurto, that she buried under her precisely posh English. “Known professionally as Madam Lucile, but just Lucile will be fine.” Lucita to her mother. Lucy to her friends. She ran her tongue along the edge of her teeth, glancing him over once. Aloof. She should truly have been a school mistress by any wager.

He was handsome and his clothes were quite fashionable. It suited him; at once conventionally attractive and roguish just so. She patted the fabric of her own gloves, which she held atop her little Seraphim box in her other hand. “That room up there. The report says the body was found on the landing of the stairs. But that room—“ she blinked. “Shall we go inside?” she asked.

As if summoned by her suggestion, Simon appeared at their side. “Right this way, Detective. Madam.” The trio mounted the steps like a short funeral march. Simon waved them in ahead of him. “I was told to lock up behind you. I believe we part ways here.” And none too soon, his tone supplied.

Lucile let the quiet settle between them, lighting a small gas lamp in the entryway. The world was never really silent, but she supposed it would become awkward for the detective if neither of them spoke soon. “I’ve brought the Seraphim for both of us, as I was instructed. I presume you’ve completed your trials with the substance, as well?” she pinned him with that frigid silver stare. Flecks of green under the lamplight. “Naturally, I’m not sure what to expect from you.”

It was highly possible that Lucile Basurto felt it necessary to over-compensate. There were stereotypes, after all. She was no wild-eyed gypsy-cart medium. She didn’t read the cards. She didn’t channel the ridiculous board. Lucile was a professional with a unique gift. She did things with purpose, not for show. In the presence of the lauded detective, perhaps, she expected some prejudice. As one accustomed to such treatment often does, she planted her guard before she knew whether or not he aimed to strike.

“If it comforts you, at all, I have found this serum simply amplifies my sensitivities. I do not anticipate I will be cumbersome to you.” She was wrapped in the lingering sweet of her earlier smoke. A habit when the spirits weighed too heavy. An answer he’d have to accept, if he asked. She looked off to the stairs. “A long night.” She repeated. “And the girl is silent.”

Lucile motioned toward the sitting room. “Perhaps it is a bit crass to make ourselves at home, as it stands. However, I suspect we should sit and prepare the syringes.” A swish of skirts as she drifted past him and into the next room, where she lit another lamp. “I know a bit about you, from the news. You’re very talented. I am sure you’ve helped many families find closure.” A more respectable means to the same end she sought, sitting in the breathless parlor of her flat. “I’ve also not heard you work with partners regularly. However, I suppose it is difficult to refuse the crown.” Her first smile since he’d arrived, and it was surprisingly light. She was pretty when she was somber. She was lovelier when she was not.

She sat down on a well-loved chaise that had been luxurious, at one point. Set her gloves and the box of Seraphim on the tea table. Folded her hands carefully in her lap. A clock ticked steadily on the far wall. Eight bells. “The file I was given was considerably more detailed about the case than about you, which is saying quite a bit. There was not much reading to be done on my ride over here, on any count.”

They had been briefed and tested for the better part of the previous year, ensuring reactions to the chemical concoction were stable and that they were psychologically fit for the cases ahead. They had been informed throughout the process that their partners were also progressing smoothly. However, the details had shut behind tightly closed lips there. Better to keep some distance. They were embarking, after all, on a bizarre new professionalism.

“Do you know much about me, Mr. Cobalt?” she asked.       

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Re: Angels. Dust.
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2016, 06:02:36 pm »
And a splendid hand there was. He nursed it, hanging her fingers on the blade of his to lift them toward the trick-lips. He gasped into her knuckles when he caught his show-room routines and lifted his face, still bent over the treasure of digits, to see her from below. "So sorry." his hand lifted hers up and down as he straightened his back. The whole ordeal was becoming more intimate than it would have been, with a small peck. "Silver spoon rooms and sucking up, all the time, you see. I don't know how to be with real people anymore. How useless, of me." he laughed, no stranger to his own embarrassment and let her have her hand back, finally.

The name she gave was beautiful. Made so. He had at least that much information. "I would protest, but Lucile it has to be, when it's only the two of us. Better to be faster since we're going to be stressed, some of the time. Syllables count. But do remember, I will think of you as Madam." The business with her tongue was distracting, but not done for the sake of theatrics. And they should go, as she suggested. The way she trailed with her voice, speaking of the room. He wanted to know. "We must." he said, chipper. Admittedly, he was excited for the elixir, too. Royal chemists, noble occultists - it was another kind of unholy, designed to serve the crown by way of his veins. It shouldn't be too different from what he'd been given to sample, but how could it not be, when it needed to do some much more, today.

Simon was good at his job, dedicated, but his directness seemed a bit unusual. Cobalt forgot about it, though, by the time Simon had left them. He touched the pin on his tie, after such a sudden introduction to the green details in her storms, as he looked around the house from where they stood. So much light trapped in once-glory. She had her own light, dark such, when she looked at him. He smiled, a dozen smile that he was prone to give freely, and threw another glance at the wooden parcel. He'd been meticulous, trying out the angel's medicine that was going to be the castle's new weapon. The expression, though, suggested he'd enjoyed it, too. "Yes. It's hasn't been harmful to me so far, and it amplifies some-- points of views." His impolite side, that drank, parched for releases other souls had had. "And you're a mystery yourself." he reminded. "Tonight will be filled with revelations." to rival its length, hopefully.

The way she said hers about the nectar in the box, made him remember again that she was not usually invited to these kinds of scenes, at least not before this initiative. Perhaps she thought he'd prefer she was of a certain school, or owner of particular diplomas, to dance with him. He would have to do his best to clear that illusion for her. Elitism in the force got in his own way, from time to time. The Cobalt name, after all, offered only a clean slate when others expected pedigree.

He was caught in the tendrils of her scent, dragon tails, when she passed toward the welcoming chambers. An impulse to catch her by the wound waist and pull her back, so he could have a drag at her brown hair. Instead he followed that familiarity that he'd begun to leave behind in his toxic travels, with his own dawn of needles. It was a precarious development, ignited by the way they had him take the Seraphim. "I expect you to be very helpful, then," if the drug allowed her more sensitivity. "and that you steal the show." He meant with her prowess, of course, and didn't know it might tie into things she might have heard about showmanship among the less serious practitioners of her craft.

And yes, with his success came satisfied parties. "The closure you provide, though, seems to make for a better ending." he said as the room revealed itself when she lit it. These surfaces had also received attention recently, like the greeting hall. "New acquaintances that might guard the path to old wealth, maybe." he said, pointing to a place where the lace was new, but the leg of the table was not. Cobalt also needed to show his worth. Surely the reputation had built him to be some kind of all-knowing creature in her mind, when the source of his career was truly just a connection, that might be called an attachment, to the evil people do. Some of this worry was dispelled with her smile.

He stood by her, when she sat down, and his eyes went from her lap, where her hands were, to the box she placed, plain, in front of her. He would have sat too, beside her, but that might have taken him further from the crest and the cylinders underneath. "I know nothing." he admitted, pulling the chair out, anyway, but leaning back against its arm, lightly, instead of using its cushion. Mostly, he was still standing, flicking the first button out of many on his right sleeve. The expert motion suggested a deft control of his fingers when the button opened from the fabric, or perhaps he was just well practiced in peeling clothes.

"I suppose I should say, now that you will see it unfold." He reached for the box, finally, and opened to see the laid out vials, and the little weapons that would deliver through skin. More buttons failing their task by the ghost of his fingers. "Without the Seraphim," he started, since the drug was still newer to him than his naked gift. "I am able to see the perspective of the perpetrator. It is better if its more violent. Larger strokes on whiter canvass. It's helped me make leaps that should be filled with investigation." An embarrassed bugle on his cheek and then a sigh to deflate it. "It's the most useful when I try to submerge in the mind, when the proof is hard to come by." He held up the glass to the light, and the liquid was rose in water, but its shadows were black. Unsettling, intriguing. "It doesn't sound like much, but any advantage helps in this line of work. They called on me for a few unsolvables, you know how that is, obviously, and then, when I didn't fail, here I am." he took the syringe, turned it over a few times as his fingers laced into the loops and tried the suspension in the trigger. The spring was delightfully sturdy, both to the look and resistance. Only the best for the queen's project.

"I know you have an impressive success rate, as well." he said and punctured the lid of the vial, the needle surging deep, instantly, into the blushing shallow. "And I know you're not afraid to do good with the blessings you were dealt." the chamber with the gilded spring sucked up the elixir greedily. The sleeves of his jacket and shirt hung off his shoulder. With his arm showing like this, skirted by the fabric that had protected it, he might appear lewd, even. The tell-tale dots on that pale arm, shadowed in sinew and around long, slender swells, revealed another intimate secret. "So I suppose I know very little, but enough to respect you."

It could be a bit daunting to her that he was leaning against the chair, closer for this choice of perch, with the syringe raised. His clothed elbow, the one of the arm with the hand holding the loaded deliverer, rested into his side to keep the sharp end away from them both. A casual way to stand, not the safest, but a compromise between comfort and availability. A chief with his filleter. Seeing needles the way other men might have affairs was not a boasting matter, but he was an expert in this little field, and his comfort about it showed, now. He eyed the side of her neck, and her shoulder to her wrist. His eyes were their usual clear selves, unclouded by selfish preferences, but how could he be a distant observer and colleague, holding sharp metal like this?

"So you could tell me." he asked politely, and then put the needle down on the table. She could take it for herself, is she wanted, and he would proceed to wait. Cobalt started rolling those sleeves, and eventually, when the sun-denied skin was completely laid in view, with it's blue and green trains sewing through the little stops of unhealed red stars, there was a little loop at the shoulder, to keep the rolled fabric in place. Debauchery should be pampered, Marla said.

"They must really want us to get along." he noted and traced the clear, unmarked glass he'd filled with the potent solution. "Only one for the two of us." What could be more equal, with them practicing an intimacy together like this, a crime, an infidelity. Sharing blood. He pulled out the silver etui with his other vices. The dragons blood, as she'd called it. He flipped the lid open with the thumb of the one hand at the end of the decent arm, and laid it beside the larger syringe. "You prefer to smoke, by your perfume." Too intimate an observation? He meant nothing by it. That smoke tint wasn't unusual, these days. "But I take it like this." two taps on the table, under the etui. It was an offer, of course.

If she wanted to do it herself, he would gladly watch. It would say much about her, they way she chose and the place she punctured. Say things that weren't facts, but would let him know her. And then he would go about it himself. And, of course, libertine that he was, he'd also do it for her, and let himself take it from her.

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Re: Angels. Dust.
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2016, 04:53:16 am »
Lucile watched him roll his sleeves as he spoke. Practiced fingers and well-planned fashion, it seemed. His story, though, was more interesting than the well-traveled veins he uncovered. “A bloody talent, then.” She said. “But a useful one. I understand a bit better why you were selected for this project, then.” She tucked a stray fall of hair behind her ear.

“And I provide a voice for the dead. And spirits.” A pointed distinction. “The closure I provide, as you say, it never as satisfying as it ought to be.” Another smile, this one thin and forced. Something to soften the harshness of that sentiment. It was a reality though. A different kind of grief showed up at her doorstep. People who said they wanted closure but really wanted a door. Is it ever any better to say goodbye, when you know your beloved can speak beyond the grave? That they never, truly, leave? You can tell the fakes by how grim they are, after the families depart.

“So, then, I’m not sure if I’d call it a success rate. But I appreciate your kindness.” Honest. “There are many who are not so receptive to my line of work.” But then, he’d come so far with his own talents and vices. Perhaps he wasn’t in such a place to judge harshly, after all. Lucile puckered her lips thoughtfully. She’d not very much considered the familiarity of sharing the vile. As he said, she preferred to smoke.

She laughed softly, suddenly, one hand coming to shield her mouth. “I must admit I’m not skilled with needles. I’ve never much liked them.” Lucile watched him go about his business. She didn’t know what to make of it. Her family had considered chemical vices fairly taboo. It was her luck that her choice poison was rather fashionable, but she was still a bit surprised to find him of the same habit. “The world can be suffocating, when it is too full. Too loud. The living aren’t wont to silence and, frankly, neither are the dead.” She shrugged. “It helps mellow the clamor. And, as one would have it, it fits Her Majesty’s program.”

Though she spoke a bit candidly, he would know she watched him carefully. If he had uncanny talents of observation, she observed the soul of each action. She made him into a voyeur, revealing his indulgence. Married man, she saw the ring on his finger. Curious. Lucile felt certain a wife should not approve of the way he showed himself thus. Disrobing his vices like they were temptation itself. She wondered if he realized he looked a bit predatory.

Lucile unbuttoned the cuff of one sleeve and it pushed up easily, the fabric soft and loose around her arms. Neat rows of pinprick tracks, applied by the scientists assigned to Scotland Yard. She’d clearly never attempted a recreational injection. “That admission out of the way, would it pain you greatly to… to help me?” she flushed, just across the bridge of her nose. “Since you seem a bit more comfortable with it.” She explained, and offered him her slim wrist to hold steady if he chose to administer the rosy wraith for her.

She had her pride and wished to seem capable. But she wasn’t so dense as to do those things which another could better. Lucile had told him she didn’t expect to be a hindrance. She didn’t wish to blunder early and make herself a liar.

“The upper room,” she started again. “I think it is best we begin our search there. The girl is silent, but that room has its pull.” Lucile gazed out the doorway of the room, to where the hall was cast in shadows out of reach of the oil lamps. “A morbid pair they’ve made of us, don’t you think?” musings to cut the quiet in which he placed his needle to her flesh. Or maybe it was simply to distract herself from that tiny metal sting.

“When I was very young, there was a dark thing that lived above my bed. No one believed it was there, but it was the first voice I heard sing in the night. It said the loneliest thing was to die alone. That’s why it watched me every night. Just in case. So I wouldn’t die alone.” She pinned her stare back on Cobalt as he worked. “I wonder what it is, then, that no one is ever murdered alone. There are always at least two present, in a murder.” Quiet sigh.

When he was done with her, she’d watch him serve himself and understand the intimacy of her blood on him. A quivering dark bead on the precipice of the needle, sinking into his chosen home like a lover. Foreplay to the dark angel Seraphim.

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Re: Angels. Dust.
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2016, 07:09:32 pm »
It was rather freeing, discussing what he did for the police. She’d not had his exact experience, couldn’t know how it was to take on the emotional guise of someone who perhaps was not, but had surely done, evil. But she understood this world from another view. Marla would ask, but he wouldn’t tell. Better the Cobalt wife know the fairytale version, just enough to accept that he was pulled into himself, sometimes, and that her loveliness was an affront to some of the auras he had to wear. Not her fault. But with this Madam Lucile, he didn’t have to apologize. It was one of the reasons he’d looked forward to having a partner, finally. At least she would provide something he didn’t have, from his wit or his gift.

He supposed, when she said it, that all those who have lost would not see communication as a blessing, even if they looked for it as though it would be. Such things were like gold, not like absolution. There was much he needed to learn that he hadn’t about grieving. Usually the mending happened after his work. He liked to think he provided something for that process, but what did he really know, leaving before seeing the effects? He was usually a totem of the worse parts of death. Most saw it as a kindness that he didn’t linger after he had done his job. Lucile found her space there, where he was not.

What an interesting woman she was. And how becoming, when she looked at the cylinder he’d filled for them, and flared her lips. He did not need his sharpened wits to guess on her thoughts. He made sure not to laugh when she did, despite the way it tickled him. It was not a chipper thing she followed with. “I am sorry for the noise of the world.” The details spoke to him, came to him, but he was able to be a bit selective. He’d come across the wing for the insane a few times in his pursuits, and some of them, like Lucile, were worn by voices. He could see their weary in their watered out eyes. Milky browns and weak blues. He’d hate for her to bring something so smudged to her clear storms, with petals of jade in them.

The arm had her attention. He did not mind, but didn’t stretch the art of such small mutilation for her, either. He was not a soul that put too much attachment to protecting what others thought he should not show, or where the same people might think she ought not to stare. That much should be apparent in the spirit of his motions, for her. Not showmanship to entice other than the vanity of performing a well thought out choreography meant for his garment, like spinning in a skirt or shrugging on a jacket. The matter of skin was no factor.

Her skin, however, was not a casual thing for him. His hand, on his naked limb, quickly supported her wrist from beneath, that she wouldn’t be left outstretched, waiting. He wanted to ride the valley between her sinew with a finger, but couldn’t, of course. He’d not administered for someone else in this kind of setting, only to save life or preserve it. “I’ll take it to you, then.” He explained, scooping the syringe up, fingers already in the loops. She already knew he was practiced. Did she know this was a kind of temptation to him? Lucile, pretty in a teacher’s way, with her catching nose, asking him to make a hole in her skin and fill it with their designated angel’s water. He wanted to confess to his wife, now, but there was no time for such sentimentalities. And he also wanted not to confess.

“In our respective work, the only other way we’d met would probably have been more morbid, Lucile. I would have to be a corpse and its soul to speak with you, and you would have to be a slayer to enter my mind.” His hand easily squeezed her so that the blue and green life would show its net in the bend of her arm. The needle drove quickly, but he, to some shame, savored the resistance in her flesh. With will the thumb didn’t tremble when he flooded her blood with the potion that would always be theirs, first and foremost.

She gave him more intimacy, as her deeply colored, thin corridor swelled where he delivered into it. He took the needle back to see the perfect red make a gem. He stroked it with his thumb, stealing the blood orb from the puncture, and watched her body drink from the vein that had become just slightly swollen as he listened to her childhood’s darkness. He’d not had this kind of moment with Marla, even. He almost gasped when he looked up at her again, and she stared at him. Did she know, did she share, that this was an exotic closeness? He was too torn between the act and her green planets in gray heaven to read it, if she did.

“Courtesy. A murderer owes at least that. Nature owes it to her children and made it so.” He said and believed it. He’d been known to put some poetry in to science. How his friends hated it. “Where is this dark thing, now, if you don’t mind me asking.”

He leaned back on the wooden arm he sat on and held the weapon up to the light. She would see he was well aware of her little heartbeat there, red and detached from her system. He brought the angel prison to his face, that he could lick the thumb and then slide it over a dotless place on his own arm. Had it been the same thumb that cleaned her of the red bead? Before her blood on the needle dried, he gave it into himself, and realized the delivery lance was thicker than he was used to. What were they thinking, in the castle? Her life spread into him before he infused himself with the rest of the Seraphim. It was more eager than the watered down samples had been. At the end of the bloody sermon, his head was lowered appropriately, unsheathing the spear and placing it, colored, by the box. His head feel back and he was looking for the rush. It ran faster than he’d anticipated. “Geniuses.” He breathed as he tilted his attention back to her, one blazing eye half lidded as his body started to enjoy and examine the new sensation.

His fingers went quickly to the loop that would let his sleeves back down. He should at least be that decent when they visited the possible origin of a deathly act. But the fingers, steady on their way, fumbled at the height of his arm. In the end the hand fell away from its attempt as his eyes blinked closed, lids lined in black feathers cutting that light as he was pulled inward to look as he always did. But Seraphim didn’t just point and light his way this time, it lifted and flew with him. Cruelty, defined better than ever. What man would do this, what man could? “We should go then.” His voice was his and someone else’s, in rhythm. He took her arm and pulled her up. He would never have been so harsh. The polite focus that was Cobalt was giving way to something tired, superior. He was pulling her along as though he owned her, up the stairs, past the landing and onto the upper floor. “This room.” But it was not a question. He threw her inside after he opened the door.

The calming line that had been running through his voice was gone. No more Cobalt. He loosened the tie as he reached to the side to twist the room into light around her. The door was closed with his heel. The Cobalt face, which had been friendly - softened and eyes giving attention so she knew she was important – was now colder, it’s carved details severe because the expression insisted on its own handsome. A vulgar thing, when he stroked his upper lip with opening fingers while his mouth gaped, suggesting he had a mustache that he liked to oil, even though his face was correctly and closely shaven. “You shouldn’t be so sad all the time, Lion.” Short for dandelion. Aristocratic nickname from a blueblood villain. “Your mother suspects.” Cobalt undid his jacket, swept the floor with the tails and hung it over the back of a chair that had been moved. It rumpled on the floor, the fine fabric appalled by its master’s blatant disregard for creases.

There was a slight hunch to his back, and he rolled the sleeve that was already up as far as it would go. After fiddling with the ghost fabric, he turned his eyes back to her. “And we love your mother, don’t we?” Another stroke on that mustache. “I can make her happy, if you’re quiet. You can sing that song you like to sing in whispers.” He pinched at his chest, where there was no pocket, and pulled out nothing. “Here. It’s your favorite flavor.” His thumb flipped a not-lid open.

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Re: Angels. Dust.
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2016, 05:34:47 am »
Lucile watched him go about administering to himself, absently tasting what had been left behind. A little bit of her, whether he’d considered it or not. He pressed the needle into an eager vein. Thick channels of vitality were attractive on a man, or so she’d been told once.

“My dark thing never gave me a name, but it never left either. It hovers over my bed. I suspect it might be tied to the object. I haven’t replaced it since my childhood. It was my first full-sized frame, brought home from where my mother found it left out for trash.” She sat up a bit straighter. “Perhaps I haven’t had the heart to get rid of it. You become attached, I think, when fear turns into familiarity. It’s a bond, whether or not it is pleasant.”

She didn’t fall into the drama the way he did. His talent was to recreate, hers was to listen. Lucile had watched the turn. It played out in his posture and his voice, quick and hungry. Seraphim was a devil’s game. There was the moment when he slid into the chemical embrace, and she wondered if he had been possessed. Certainly, it was a stranger’s cadence on his recently met voice.

“Cobalt…” quiet reproach, but she followed him. Not because she was greatly eager to ascend the bloody staircase, but because he had her arm and towed her along like the tide. Lucile nearly stumbled. The air felt heavy as they moved up the steps and the medium felt the little hairs at the back of her neck stand on end. There was her Seraphim then. Demons for the detective. Ghosts for Lucile. Abruptly, the other voices faded away. As if the chill up the stairs had exhaled and set every old aura tumbling through the cracks in the windows. Old houses always had loud histories. They pressed on her shoulders and ran their fingers through her hair. This house, now, had only one.

Silent girl, but she had the weight of a soul. They passed the landing, where the body had been, and steadily moved to the upper room. “Sweet one, it is okay to speak.” She mumbled. The pressure as the approached the doorway was such that she’d not have believed she could pass through the doorway if Cobalt hadn’t tossed her inside. She gasped as he did, overwhelmed by a wave of dizziness closely followed by nausea. “I am here for your story, my body is yours for the taking.” An invitation that sang like an incantation, falling in a jumble from her lips as she stumbled to her knees and dry-heaved, bent over the floor.

There was generally a sense of sharing, when she opened herself to the dead. They were invited and came to visit. They had things to say. They had living who wanted to listen. Even the vengeful deceased understood a partner when it was handed to them. The dead were still human, even departed. They weren’t on the level of true demons. This silent soul was not so, or maybe it was the full effect of the Seraphim. In the trials she’d felt more united with the souls, but still herself. Lucile felt herself abruptly and unarguably relegated to the recesses of her mind. At once separate, as if she were watching some tragic drama unfold, and immediately a part of the girl. I am Dandelion.

She sat back on her heels, slowly, and carefully picked herself up off the ground to look back at Cobalt. He went through motions with phantom props and Dandelion saw them for what they had been. She was afraid. Lucile gave her courage. She was insolent. “You don’t love her. You don’t love either of us.” She was hissing at the man Cobalt was not.

“I don’t want it.” She crossed to the window. Yanked the curtains shut. Can’t let the neighbors see. It might get back to Mother and that will break her heart. Father, he had insisted she called him father, had been a dream come true at first. Mother had been so happy. Glowing like Dandelion hadn’t seen since she was small and her real father was still alive. Father had been so good to both of them. She’d felt like a princess. How sweet it was that he treated her well, Mother had said. It was like he had courted them both.

Once, she felt guilty for being a bit jealous when she’d caught Mother and Father sitting closely with one another in the parlor after midnight. Father had made it up to her, though. He was so thoughtful, so caring. If she didn’t know better, she’d have said he wanted her too. But, she didn’t know better and things had changed. Father wasn’t a prince. Not like the stories. He was a dragon. She was still a princess. 

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Re: Angels. Dust.
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2016, 10:36:47 pm »
He was proud, proud was the very first thing that he was. Lion brought damage to some of that with what she said. He moved back without using his feet, back taking posture, but chin lowering. What do you call a bird like that? He plucked a candied berry himself and didn't touch the spoiled hair around his lip when he ate it. It wasn't her favourite. He changed them with the confectionaries recomendation. There was just a generous, knowing ring to offering someone what they liked the most, in a flavor that they preferred.

"You're being cruel." No hurt in the voice. A play of a childhood room, new wooden panels. Rich children's room, with metal toys and perfect paintings. Cobalt saw the windows, and they were too clean. Why did this man think of this when he was with Lion? "And you're making noise. Mother is tired." He had another berry, and took a few steps closer. Cobalt remembered a maid he'd never had, and how she'd dared to order him around. Away from this wet floor, off that shelf. People who didn't have the blood should at least have the decency to be rich, if they wanted a voice. Those that weren't should quietly serve.

He had tried to win the young one over. She had more of her mother's lovely. In the beginning, Lion had been tender, too. Of course. That was it. His blood, his children. This house was a snare. They'd dug deep as well, and unearthed the roots of their familly tree by the road and found that they reached under the fence, all the way to the vinyard. Somehow, they'd seen what his historians had seen. And Lion was just a ruse. A girl being a woman.

"Don't you remember thursday?" Ages ago, now. Her lilac scent in the evening. A fate that indugled him. What were the odds that she would be thirsty and he would be hungry at the same hour, in the middle of the night. The kitchen was putrid. Clean but out of fashion, and without old charm, like the stone he came from. Good for oranges, at least. He had to keep up this charade, pretend at a flash of love until someone stumbled on what he knew without him.

What did she expect, when they had already gone beyond kindly more than once, walking in to the unlit room with her sleeping graments. And after avoiding him all day. Of course there was bound to be some reprisals for his daughter-in-law. He knew what things charmed her, after all, and that she couldn't go back if he placed himself at the entrance. She'd tried to demand him, like that maid. Lion often acted like she shouldn't with him. And then, sometimes, she acted exactely like he wanted. Such vile, little, delectable tricks. To think her mother never chasticied her.

Cobalt frowned. She had made such untangible, sweet sounds when he put the dishrag in her mouth to keep her mother from waking. Why couldn't she be hiding her sounds in the dark, now? Another berry, coloring his teeth. He held the tin out. It had the crest of his familly on it. He might be far from the crown and the blood that trickled down it, too far for their gold, but he still had a symbol, and bankrupted himself so that people would know.

"Have one." Dry words, pointed. He came to her by the window, and held his arm out again, squeezing the small tin until the symbol marked his palm. A pigeon and a whip. The shape of the silver mouth changed just slightly from the pressure. He didn't like when she refused him like this. It could be sugary, when she did it, and it was a negotiation, when she whispered when her mother was near, but this, here, there was no reason. She should just oblige. He didn't have the taste for anything but reverence, tonight. Cobalt's borrowed beauty wasn't insisting on its carved qualities anymore. Instead the prominent brows, and small mouth. An apex creature, suggesting she should show her belly.

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Re: Angels. Dust.
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2016, 11:33:02 pm »
Lucile’s hands stayed at the window, fingers curling on the curtains. She had come to hate this man. “You took advantage.” Dandelion said. It wasn’t untrue. Young thing, impressionable and easily flattered. She was spoiled, to a degree.

Lucile’s stomach knotted, disgusted by the memories that opened for her. Dandelion was at once repulsed and drawn in by this wicked man. Her mother had been strict about boys in the absence of a father, but never raised her voice about anything else. The attention of a gentleman was exciting. He made her feel special, even if he was distasteful. Too much older and her mother’s lover. But she got a thrill. She felt desirable. It scared her, the way he looked at her, but it pleased her too. A cocktail of hormones. The one thing she wasn’t allowed to have.

“I don’t want one.” She insisted, stiffening when he came close. It was the posture of a being undecided. Dandelion didn’t know the difference between pleasure and love from men. Daddy complex. He must know she was eager for him to ignore her petulance. But, her mouth was particularly stubborn, today. The girl wouldn’t have been able to say, herself, which inclination of hers she hoped to win out.

She liked the idea of being a good daughter and was often sullen during the day when she’d been too giving the night before. She didn’t feel guilty, because she blamed Father over herself, but she disliked the idea of hurting Mother. She was never sure how to act at night. Sometimes, she hoped to run into him in her loose night clothes. Sometimes she hid in her room. Tonight she was, at least, of some mind to be proper. A step to the side, to put some distance between them.

Father had his moods, too. Sometimes he was kind about her surliness and spoiled her more. Sometimes he wanted a sweeter Lion. Generally, she matched his stride. He had annoyed her today, though. She’d seen him give Mother a new broach around noon and retreat to their bedroom. Dandelion had peeped and been jealous and disgusted. Lucile understood she was being manipulated, and had been for some time. Dandelion did not.

Dandelion threw him a haughty stare, then, expecting to keep her footing in the exchange. The grey eyes seemed greener. Dandelion’s had been blue. Her attitude wilted at the sight of his expression. Frightening, tonight. A moment longer of her self-indulgent rebellion and then she reached to snatch for the not-there tin. Angry flush to her cheeks, but a more compliant girl. “Dirty old man.” She muttered. It wasn’t a new insult. Father was often rough with her for it, but never exceptionally cruel. The hypocrisy of it was rude enough. Little nymph that played at being a Lady. How crass.

Lucile thought to push the spirit out. It wasn’t comfortable, feeling these strange and complex things as if they were her own. The abused are more tragic when they don’t know their plight. But knowing was more horrifying and it made Lucile sick. This girl, a brat, perhaps, but a child nonetheless. Father was a monster.

“Can’t you just leave me alone?” she asked, but tossed her loose hair over her far shoulder. In Dandelion’s nightdress it would have left her pretty throat bare. Shapely collarbones. Fine shoulders. The drape of fabric over a body that thought it was more of a woman than she really was. Truly, though shy of a year from an acceptable debut, Dandelion was exceptionally immature. She’d been pampered. She knew nothing of the world and less of the other sex. It was too perfect a playground for Father.   

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Re: Angels. Dust.
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2016, 06:35:13 pm »
There was another lovely about the daughter, of course. Marla’s husband had a taste for love and not so much for swan qualities. When they did fall at his feet, the swans, he would pick them up, brush them off while conversing, and then be on his way. He was not oblivious, but he preferred to be viewed as such. This Cobalt, here, knew about the mother, and knew where she fell short where Lion thrived – none of Chester’s values. How perfect, so sweet but laced with so much other. If she was an idol, her mural wore a brushed frame of shadow. If her family name was not a valuable thing, he might have visited anyway. Splendid things should have attention.

If she did not want one, which she did not - Lion was plain with her feelings, when she understood them, perhaps more when she didn’t – he found more reason why she should, indeed, indulge him. What value did her compliance have if he only gave her things she liked? Her pretty when she discovered touches and togetherness her mother had known for quite some time was something else. Like something destined to be green sleeping in winter, suddenly overwhelmed with summerlight. He had come here to bind himself to the crown, but he’d found a little menagerie, waiting. Better enjoy than to endure.

A bit of pride in him when he saw her reaction to his upset. As he wished, so she ought. In truth, he was enamored by her the way a new man was. In his position, she would have to become a mistress or a memory. There was only marriage for power, with the debt and the destiny that weighed him. Cobalt thought of gold and bowing families with better names. He also thought of her bedchamber, their first real night, when she’d had nightmares and mother suspected nothing, desperate for her rest with a party the next day. He had been strong for her. She’d not had that kind of person. And then, in that night, he introduced her to more, while mother slept.

Lion still had the smolder in her belly that he’d nurtured with so much attention for mother, earlier today. He pretended to not see, but her retreat was sweeter than kisses of gratitude from the mature woman who stayed.

“Is that how you speak to me?” he asked, middle syllables burly with warning, when she described his character, like was he a villain. He fed them lavish meals, both deliver on his own trays, and out and about, at cost of his own reputation. No. He was generous and kind. Perhaps this was his reward for such characteristics, the woman and the girl. When Lion took her hair back and chewed on the sweet, Cobalt had no memory of Marla. The lift of the middle column and the small breath after having consumed what was offered was the start of her undoing because it was so exquisite. “You haven’t been raised right.” But there was more tender than stern. A bit of disappointment, too, because he liked to think that mattered to the girl he was leading toward his own preferences.

“How can you expect to grow up right if I don’t teach you to behave, Lion?” he asked and reached to touch her hair, above her forehead. He wasn’t hiding that he liked her particularly, right now. All the way to her shoulder and out the fingers combed her. The actual, deep, brunette curls would have to comply with the hand bound to Marla with gold. “Now, have another.” He plucked a second berry, and rolled it between fingers that did not work other than to apply oil to his hair and sugar to his expensive indulgences. Whether she would open her mouth for it or not, her would touch the brittle pearl to her lip until the sweet shell broke and died once more on her mouth. His thumb would take the red, tart innards over her lip and out to paint her cheek. It looked like blood, and the coroner would mistake it for blood, later.

“What a pretty thing you can be.” He said and came closer, dropping the tin finally, so he could be against her. The lid of the silver container closed on impact, and he flicked it to the side with the toe of his boot. “If I let you be, then I would have to love your mother all the more.” He said and drew a line over Lucile’s signature nose bridge with the end of his noble one. The implication was of course that father brushed his oily hairs over Dandelion. “And you would be unhappy then, I promise you.” Not quite like a lover, the voice, but not scolding. Hand on her waist and, finally, hand on her neck, the side she’d undressed from her well-tended tresses. She lured like a siren, but she didn’t know she was singing. Later in life, could Lion have ruled him?

Cobalt squeezed the corset a little harder when he pulled Lucile into him, perhaps a part of Chester that couldn’t, when the rest of him had already. “Better we be friends, for the family we have.” Cobalt said, and felt the sense of it. “Better you be friendly.” He didn’t rush to have her, but it was paramount that he could, when he wished to. Instead cheekbone to cheek. He was inspecting and enjoying something of his, rather than courting. But to the far royal, that was almost the same as love. When she’d gone to the side, she’d put a wall behind her, and he put her to that wall, now. “Or I can leave like you want.” But he wouldn’t of course. He’d rather choke the life away from his new daughter than let her have that. “And you can listen to your mother and I.” Jealousy and scorn never needed a mature heart to fester.

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Re: Angels. Dust.
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2016, 05:36:38 pm »
Dandelion was something new. Or maybe it was the Seraphim. She’d known to expect this a little bit, but it wasn’t as if the clever men who’d made her brew could really know what it was they were asking her to put in her veins. A doorway into the woman that had always left the light on. She’d tasted sharing with weaker willed spirits but never a soul like this. And not in the face of her memories. Cobalt, tangible, was too real.

The illusion of berry juice was tart and sticky on her lip. She’d not wanted to accept but took the flavor in with a furtive slip of her tongue. Lucile felt her heart begin to race a bit, like a cornered animal, the more she understood Dandelion’s spiral. Lion still their pulse, calmed their spirit. She was young but she was not blind to this game. Father had been lucky to find her before she’d learned herself. She’d be a formidable woman when she grew up. She’d know her appeal and play the strings. She was learning so fast, as it was.

“Shouldn’t you teach Mother to behave, first?” Lucile heard herself grumble. Cheeky. Lion had been annoyed with this man for making her jealous. As if it might change her fate, Lucile wanted desperately to reach out to Dandelion and tell her the truth of the deceit. Lion was never in charge. Lion was a toy. It didn’t matter how much he let her play and pretend at being an equal in this, that edge in his voice was so very clear. You’re a child, Lion, Lucile wanted to say. But Seraphim was both a doorway and a wall. Lucile was an observer in her own body, now. Cobalt’s hand in her hair like they knew each other well. His fine clothes and her proper between them, but little else.

She trembled, and Lucile didn’t know if it was she or Dandelion who shivered. Father’s moustache was rough on her cheek when Cobalt’s clean-shaven face came near. “You married her, didn’t you? You’re supposed to love her more. Dirty old man.” She said again, intent on stubbornness in the face of her slipping slope. Dandelion knew she was losing this. Father knew too. So did Lucile.

Palms on his chest, she pushed like she could free herself. Dandelion was flushed, her nightgown rumpled. “Just leave me alone. You’re so meddlesome. I’ll have a finer man than you. You go back to Mother.” She was being spiteful, because she was angry he affected her. Terrible Father, who could not have won her heart even if he’d been a gentler man, because he delighted the mother she loved. She adored him for it almost as much as she hated him for it. Why teach her pleasure only to force her to share? It seemed unreasonable.

“And—“ Lucile stared at him with some admirable furiousness. Daring girl, hold your tongue. “I have no interest in your lewd behavior with my Mother. I have no interest in you. I hate you.” Perhaps the sentiment had been coming to a boil over the last weeks. And yet Dandelion was pressing her young body close to him, pushing him away with her hands and seeking him with her hips. “I hate you more than anyone else in the world.” She told him. But he’d heard her earlier, whimpering for her father behind closed doors with one hand across her lips to stifle her voice and the other between her thighs. It couldn’t have mattered less whether or not she hated him. She was fighting herself as much as she was fighting him. There was no other choice but to drown.

Lucile did her best to disconnect with her own body. She was frightened of this sort of twisted, building passion. This thirst for an abuse Dandelion didn’t understand. She wondered if Cobalt, too, was sickened by the pair. But then, his talent was not to let another in but to place himself in another. Was it worse, she wondered, to feel personally responsible? Or perhaps this detective had learned not to care. That frightened her a bit more. A perfect fit, these two, and as morbid as she’d supposed. She’d not asked Cobalt for his confidence in his own restraint.

It surprised her, and had surprised Dandelion, when she broke free from his embrace. Some sudden and fleeting moment of fortitude. The girl had shoved hard. Perhaps the father had expected a further turn toward compliance, with the suggestion of her curving frame, and let his grip lax just so. She stumbled back and bumped the wall, and then made a scramble toward the door. Hand on the knob, Dandelion’s eyes were bright and challenging. A little streak of wild. “So, go on. I want you to leave. Do what you want with Mother. I don’t care.” Lion lied. “I’m not yours.” She said. Too much triumph in her voice.

Surely she knew she was. It shouldn’t have been such an exercise of her own will to resist him. Fingers turned the knob to open the door and wave Cobalt out.

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Re: Angels. Dust.
« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2016, 07:19:19 pm »
Father smiled when she mentioned the discipline of her mother. Bastard that he was, he’d already applied some of his preferences onto the fleshward practice of love. He remembered wrinkles around the woman’s lips when she tried to be quiet at the ceiling. Oh, little Lion, that smile said, if only you knew how much I’ve taught mother. What response though, that the girl dared offer. A shake of his head then, disapproving, almost disallowing that little insolence. Cobalt couldn’t help but think that when he had a child with Marla, he would teach her the manners Dandelion didn’t have. It was a tainted musing, of course.

A flash of cold behind his eyes when Lucile held her hands on him, urging him to retreat, but sharing her warmth. “There is no finer man, Lion.” He corrected. Father would believe this, and he would have the same from his new family. Of all the thorns he enjoyed on his won daughter, this was not a pleasant sting. Her anger, her bladed words, they gave life to his blood, but this was on his ego, on his worth. “Haven’t I already taught you that?” secretly, away from mother’s eyes, but not away from the sound of her heels, behind doors that were carefully closed but inconspicuously unlocked. A beast’s heart and a girl’s heart hiding behind glass shields. He wanted to strike her then. But that was a one-sided lovely.

Her fire didn’t continue to burn toward that meaning, which was her fortune. The swell of her hatred, as she spoke of it, flew with her passion, as well. He knew about her conjuring him when he was not there, and had discovered through a spring what any man should like to see, and any real father should fear. The taller body offered resistance when she pushed with her hands and the rest of her, as well. Dance, if there ever was one. His fingers curled under her chin, and drummed on her throat to lift her gaze, as though he was inspecting something he might buy. The flick of his thumb on her jaw was dismissive. Not worth the asking price. It was all to make her deeper with wrath, so it could usher along her woman.

He had all the victory in his eyes, all his hands around her like a pasture so she could say her poison and feel her roil. The blackened blues in Cobalt took in his new partner as though she was worth the worst kind of love. But it was a delighted desire, no matter how tainted. He thought he’d incinerated her sanity enough to have this evening’s game. Then she put power out against him, quickly, and he let go to grasp for his own balance. She was at the door, claiming her detachment. Surprise added to insult. “You’re such an unruly daughter.” He barked and came over to her, all the while waiting for the change of mind he deserved. How dare she stand there and expect him to follow the flicks of her wrist.

He decided to go, if she was like this, and let her be without what she really wanted. And then he knew he would not. But in the step to leave the room, he took her arm, the arm he’d delivered Seraphim onto. “If you don’t care then let us go now.” He said and would pull her along over the threshold. Father pulling his girl in her nightgown, off to a good chastising. Cobalt bringing Lucile along roughly to the corridor. There was no reason for him to care. Surely mother would be upset, but she couldn’t leave him. Who would have heard of something so bizarre? He was blueblood. Maliciously, because she was a spoiled child, he tugged downward, and expected her to fall so he could make lines on the carpet with her legs as he continued.

“Won’t you tell your dear mother what you let me do.” He said and dreamed about the kitchen again, and their buried moments at night, or when mother took tea without him. When he’d chased away her nightmares with the blood of her innocence. Cobalt wore the slightest grin, but it flattened soon. He should not have to handle her like this. Father turned and pulled her up on her feet. “Maybe I should tell her what happens when I’m not with you, too. Such a wicked mind to wretched fingers, you have.” To her back, another wall, and to their side, the descending stairs, steeply onto that fateful flight. “How will she find the strength to love you if I say you threw yourself at me like a succubus?” He lifted her and smelt her temple, where her real perfume was, his lips to her cheek. A hiss, as though he didn’t love her scent, as though it was putrid to his senses. Lucile had lingering vapors to draw out from her skin. Father couldn’t feel it but Coblat would never forget. He couldn’t reconcile quite how lovely Lion was with how she refused to be good to him. “You have a demon in you.” But he was falling for both, dirtying his soul with this unfinished woman and the game she didn’t know she was engaging him in.

Cobalt couldn’t understand why Lucile didn’t cower like father’s maids, or gawk like the girls on the street. Her stormy eyes, her bright eyes. He, who already held her up against the wall with the press of his body, took her neck in his hand to keep her head still when he kissed her hard, torso insisting quite urgently she spread her nightgown legs, and Lucile’s legs, around him. He would crush her to have that. Father breathed against her cheek, his lips with the berry blood, too. “I’ve been too gentle with you, Lion.” He said on her skin and didn’t know his hand was making smaller rings around her throat. He loved her so much, and despised so much those that wouldn’t listen to him. “Damn you, little girl.” He said into her ear and let her off the wall, a few inches, before thrusting her back. Father became quite taken with Dandelion, then, at the end of the game they played. Yes, she could have ruled him if she had the practice. Cobalt pulled at the malweather they’d made of Lucile’s hair, and put the reward of strands in his pocket when they broke free of her brunette waves.

“Just take back your lies. Just be my good Lion and listen to me, and we won’t have to let mother know.” He leaned to her, and they slid to the side. If she fought it would be her destiny.

Cobalt wasn’t a childless father who wanted worship from his foreign daughter the way men bought it off nightly workers. He was a good man, he’d say after some convincing, and he wasn’t going to let the lady he’d just met die by father’s hand. If there was skirmish, and Lion fell with Lucile, he wouldn’t let go as father had, and watch at something beautiful and broken once it stopped. He would fall with them, and try his best to keep them safe until the platform received them, violently.

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Re: Angels. Dust.
« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2016, 12:23:42 am »
Dandelion was fear and fury. There had been some spite from Father, which had only ruined her mood further. She’d brought that much on herself. Why the girl had ever thought to step into orbit of this man and keep her bearings was laughable. He was a tide she had no anchor against. Not really.

He pulled her along and she was scarcely able to keep her footing. Lucile wanted to tell Cobalt to stop; the end of this story was readily evident. They’d have enough to bring back to Scotland Yard. The tin of berries and Dandelion’s stained cheek. The widow who must not have been completely naïve to her husband’s wandering eyes. But the Seraphim coursed and Dandelion did not let go.

“Stop it. Stop it!” she was hissing with more courage than she should have had. Her feet gave her up and she toppled forward, dragged like some overly-loved doll down the hall. The rugs, at least, were thick and plush. He was taunting her and Dandelion was too upset to grasp it. “You wouldn’t dare tell her. She’d hate you more than she’d hate me. She’s my mother.” Lion said and didn’t believe it. “You’re the only demon here you vile, awful, disgusting old man!” she was shrieking, so much as one could shriek at a whisper. Lucky Mother took Valium to sleep.

“You flatter yourself, you peeping Tom. You don’t know what you’re talking about.” She protested. If he hadn’t known better it would have been a believable lie. Dandelion was sweet when she was naïve but refined in the sins she knew well. She’d had a dishonest tongue since she was young. Perhaps it had been the earliest instrument of her downfall.

She winced when he put her up against the wall and, for a moment, it was definitively Lucile staring back at him. Her lips parted, as if to call Cobalt out of his villainous act. Like she might have called for a ghost. It was Dandelion he kissed, though, and Lion would not remind Father of the mother he was bound to. So Lucile could not remind Cobalt of the ring on his finger. The girl was gasping, tears stinging her eyes when he tugged strands from her hair. There in your pocket, Detective, you’ll find Lion’s blonde strands. It was enough. It had been enough. But Father kept talking.

“You horrible man. You won’t tell her anything because you’ll have to leave me be, then. Liar. Pervert.” Dandelion let the insults fly almost as harshly as she looked for his mouth. Father’s moustache hurt when she kissed him too hard. She was so angry. Lucile fought to untangle herself from the girl’s spirit and Dandelion, disgusted with the man and with herself, fought to free herself from his grip even as she kissed him. The coroner would find bruises blossoming over the girl’s slim throat.

Dandelion wasn’t sure if she had broken free or if Father had let her go. Lucile was certain it was the latter. The proud man would only accept so much insolence and his irate daughter had worn through that allowance in spades. Had he not anticipated the course of this evening so clearly, perhaps he would have held her fast instead. Regardless, at his behest, Lion won her wish to be free and flew. Off the top step and down she plummeted. Lucile wondered if Cobalt would be able to tell her if Father had expected this outcome.

Lucile felt Lion’s spirit burst free from her body with the fall. She cried out, squeezing her eyes shut as she braced for the impact. It happened so quickly she’d not quite realized Cobalt had found his wits as well and toppled with her. He broke her fall, somewhat, and she rolled inelegantly off of him to slump on the landing. A breath, and then she was scrambling to her knees, dark curls in disarray and a sharp pain in her hip where she’d found the wooden step.

“Detective!” she yelped and reached for him quickly, pulling him up by his shoulders to cradle his head in her hands. There was no slick for her fingers. A small relief. “Are you alright, Mr. Cobalt?” she searched his face for answer and found that his expression was alert, at least. The green flecks in her grey storms were still bright.

The Seraphim would not fully wear off for some hours, though its potency dropped quickly. For her, it meant the incessant whispers were loud and the pressure on her shoulders was heavy. For him, it meant Lucile was unsure if it was Cobalt or Father looking back at her. Maxwell Knotting. Not Father. Lucile reminded herself that Lion was gone. The medium chanced a shaky smile for her new partner. “My god, Mr. Cobalt, please do tell me you’re alright and that it’s you. Mr. Knotting is a vile man.” For whatever bruises their fall might have earned them, it was undeniable that they had a full report to deliver.

Above them, in Dandelion’s room, the floorboards creaked. Lucile glanced back over her shoulder, the detective’s head still cradled in her lap. A more somber expression. She felt her heartbeat slow to something more normal. Slowly, she moved to help Cobalt to his feet. “I suppose you’ll be feeling that fall for a few days.” She paused. “Thank you, though. I might have ended up like her, otherwise.” Lucile said softly. Another glance up the stairs. She had not anticipated such an experience, in truth.

She cleared her throat. “Father—Mr. Knotting was wearing a grey wool coat. An expensive one, I think, though I’m not familiar with too many of the fashionable brands.” Lucile offered, a bit reserved as the dust of their bizarre dance settled. She smoothed a strand of her hair behind her ear. The light from the oil lamp in the foyer burned low. “Do you suppose he loved her, twisted as it was?”   

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Re: Angels. Dust.
« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2016, 08:04:04 pm »
The fall happened to Cobalt and Lucile, their reward for borrowing the actors in this already played act. It was thanks to their combined weight, rolling them close to the steps instead of Dandelion’s wide circles and crackling impacts, that they lived. A punishing awakening though, at first, for the indulgent detective. He came to life with his head on her skirts, blinking with Maxwell’s importance before the world was Chester’s again. She had emerald stars in her wind-twists and he thought those eyes were the very picture of comfort. Small laughter and then a groan as he reached with one hand for his thigh. The pain made it all funnier, somehow.

“Yes. Better than I deserve.” He answered and sighed long, miserable with himself. With their new familiarity, he reached to grace the forming prints on her neck, from where he lie. A frown and the apology in his eyes, because a spoken such would not have been enough. Surely this was a rude first meeting, even if the results were grand. There was a bit of attachment there, when his touch read their recent accomplishments on her, that he didn’t approve of, as Cobalt. “And you?” but it was a strange thing to ask, when she was nursing him. He’d made the best cage for her that he could, falling. They were both better off than poor Dandelion.

The sympathy for a flower taken by winter too soon, and the reprimand he aimed inward, were gone in the flicker that she asked him who he might be, now. The thumb joined the fingers that tried to will her bruises better, curling in a way that said they might want to repeat the action that had created that art on her. “Call me fath…” but the rich of his real eyes came back quickly, fighting the rumblings of his amplified empathy effectively. He took the greedy hand back and held it to his chest, locked a wrist over it to keep it away from her. “I—yes. It’s me.” He stood with her, steadier than he should, memories of the girl’s passion still on him, and how her image melded with that of the woman here. He still had Lion’s spite against his face, and Lucile’s flavor on his tongue. He tried to think of Marla, instead.

He listened to her muse about her outcome if he’d not folded them together, down the stairs. “And then where would I be? It is hardly worth solving one murder and providing another.” He laughed a little as he finally unbuttoned the sleeve from the loop and let the arm that had taken the Seraphim be covered again. When he was done with the task of setting the buttons back, that he might be proper in that regard, at least, he touched the chest of his own jacket, remembering Maxwell’s. “Gray, yes. With white stitching.” Vain. He kept his clothes well, but the Knotting house had seen better days for their coffers. It was the reason for him marrying the widow. Cobalt still had Lucile’s hair in his pocket. It would be strange to offer it back. And for some reason, hopefully Father’s and not his own, he wanted to keep it. He should ransack himself a little, later, for sanity’s sake.

He held a breath as he started toward the bottom of the stairs from the landing that could have been their end. He relied on the rail, favoring the other leg. “He loved her quite a bit.” He assured her, and couldn’t help but look at her then. Seraphim activated his heart, but Cobalt knew to catch it, then, revealing it for what it was. Still, Lion and Lucile, both, were beautiful women. “If that buys him any mercy, in the court or in the life after, I don’t know.” He looked over what he could see of the house, as they made their way. “Turns out this family has royal ties.” He revealed to her, to distract himself from wanting to lure her back into the room. Use father’s voice. It would be useless on the medium, now that she was free. “Maxwell wanted the claim.” Cobalt blinked as he tried to put his hair back in place, the wayward strands loose from the band. “I suppose he has it now.”

They were on the entrance floor soon, and he was getting used to the current state of his leg. He’d felt similarly after a particularly graceless dismount off a tall steed onto a rock he’d not seen, last year. Still, he borrowed her shoulders for his arm, certain she’d understand. “He was quite obsessed with the girl. Fancied she adored him, as he thought he deserved.” He said and then looked at her quickly. This proximity was intimate for their acquaintance, since they weren’t in borrowed minds, anymore. He had to look away, so he didn’t slip back into the culprit. “How did she feel, the daughter? In the end, and before.”

John hurried to the door when he saw it open, but stopped once he’d helped it become wide. The two were worse for wear, to say the least, and he would have been offended for Lucile, if the detective wasn’t also in shambles, relying on her for his balance. “What went on, in there?” he asked as he took over the task from the lady. Cobalt tapped John’s chest. “Nothing as unhealthy as your habit on your strolls by the dock, sir.” He said. It was unusually crass for the detective. Salt and ash stains on the officer’s boot. Didn’t mean Cobalt had the right to joke about it, but he wanted to shame his professional friend to be quiet, that he wouldn’t ask too much. Chester shot a glance at Lucile, ashamed of the tactic, suddenly. It worked on John, and he averted his attention from the man attached, and looked toward the lady.

“Do we have a resolution? I’m not sure what to expect.” The officer confessed.

The hour was late, and the gas was already becoming fires in the light posts. The fog made the glass orbs into their own planets in milky space as their carriage tried and failed to avoid all the puddles. Cobalt had borrowed the driver’s cane, and rested his palm on the tool, its other end to the floor. Marla would have a grand I-told-you-so, after she’d worried, and possibly shortly before her delight that he might be needing one regularly for a while. Their ride toward the Knotting home wasn’t too long, but it was too lengthy for the shame he felt toward Lucile. “What a wretched technique, this medicine.” He said and took his gloved hand to the arm that had drank the queen’s magic so eagerly. He tapped his pocket, and the silver etui rattled with the truth of his opium. Was it vain to have left his smokes at home? He could have used a comfort, in here, and she didn’t mind the vapors, they knew.

“Please, know I’m sorry. You must come home to us. I’ll have Jeffrey cook up something splendid.” I all but use you for a pleasure doll, and you get a meal. It sounded wrong and he turned toward the lights again, as they played by in the horse’s rhythm. Father’s pride. A man should not need to apologize to his daughter. Cobalt conjured a darkness that would hold that persona for a while. “Ah. I mean. It could be a start.” He cleared his throat. “He’ll try to run. Most likely has secret passageways, you know.” He said about the man they were visiting, a conversation refuge. “His house is old.” Some pride there, as though it was his own.

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Re: Angels. Dust.
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2016, 03:02:16 am »
She had nodded at him solemnly, accepting what he said though the grey eyes were quick to catch where Father slipped in and Cobalt slipped out. If she was forgiving, it was hard to tell. At the very least, she was empathetic. They discussed the coat and it felt like an empty sort of simplicity in the wake of all the heaviness in their exchange. Dandelion was dead, after all.

Lucile pressed her lips into a thin line. “I don’t know if it buys him mercy. Maybe just a different sort of suffering. The dead don’t escape much.” She said, a little frigid. Her sympathy was for Cobalt and ended there. She had lived Dandelion’s torment and seen it, at once, from the outside. The relationship had been nothing short of manipulative and scarring. Had Lion lived, she would surely have grown into a damaged woman in the deepest sense.

“She didn’t know what she felt for him at any point.” Lucile told him. “He angered her because he confused her. She was spoiled, but she loved her mother. Her heart might have dreamed itself a good deal cleverer than it was. Dandelion never stood a chance, she just couldn’t accept it.” She shrugged. “There might have been something masquerading as love in there. Or lust, at least.” The slender woman combed her fingers through her tousled curls and pulled them back into some semblance of conformity.

When they stepped outside, they were met quickly by the policeman John. He asked what he’d been instructed not to, and Lucile was quietly grateful that Cobalt shut him down, abrupt as it was. Her expression, meticulously crafted into the aloof veil she’d arrived with, made her performance with Dandelion all the more intimate. When the detective glanced her way, she was impassive. A feat, in truth, given the slow fade of the Seraphim. The world still howled with the voices of too many unheard dead. At least that sort of clamor was familiar. She could subdue that.

She was quiet in the carriage, and content with it, until Cobalt broke the silence. Lucile folded her hands in her lap. She’d put back on her gloves and fixed her sleeves. “So it is.” She said. A different woman from the lady on the steps, who’d held his head with such concern. Perhaps the two were of the same mind, though, looking for something to soften the edge of this brutal high. She produced a delicate looking pipe, disassembled, from a little velveteen bag that had been tucked into the folds of her skirts, strung into place by a small ribbon on the satin belt at her waist. A little box with it, copper with a rose stamped on the lid.

She assembled the length of the pipe, an ingenious little device, distributed a small measure of her powder, and then exchanged the copper box for a box of matches. If he watched her carefully, her hands shook when she struck the match. The weight on her shoulders was straining her neck. The voices made her head hurt. Lucile took a long drag of the pipe. The smoke unfurled in lavender grey, the jade flecks in her stare all the brighter through the haze. She didn’t apologize for the smog and held the pipe out to him instead. “If you care for it, now.”

Lucile almost laughed when he insisted she join for supper. “A kind offer, but unnecessary. And, for now, it may be best we hold on celebrating success.” She suggested. He mentioned the possibility of subterfuge and she nodded. “I will have to rely on you for this. Dandelion never visited his old home. Her mother, perhaps…” she took another drag from the pipe.

“I am content that the mother was uninvolved with the murder, but she must suspect. And yet… I worry she will not be terribly helpful in putting her daughter’s misfortune to rest. I wonder if she would rather not know the truth.” The smoke cooled on her tongue and slipped like spells between her lips.

“You are married, Mr. Cobalt?” she said, when the silence had settled between them again. It was, in part, due to genuine curiosity. It was also a quiet reminder to hold fast to himself as they approached the home that not his, regardless of what the Seraphim suggested. She offered him a turn at the pipe again. “Is your wife familiar with your, shall we call it, talent?” Lucile stared at him through her long dark lashes. “I wonder if that might be frightening.” She did not ask whether his wife would forgive Father for drinking in Lion like she were the sweetest sort of wine.

The horses slowed to a stop and they heard the driver’s boots on the cobblestone. Lucile’s door swung open first. She stepped out into the night, accepting the driver’s hand as she came down the step. The Knotting home was large and sad. A home that had once had character and now lacked the ability to hold its face. There were peculiar attempts to address the slipping sense of aristocracy. Stone lions flanked the front gate, years newer than the stone walls. The lawn was manicured, but the windows were unwashed. A low glow from within suggested someone was home, or had been recently.

“I shall let you take the lead, Detective. This is much more your world, than mine.” She said. Lucile did not tell him she worried that Lion's feelings might have smeared on her own and that the idea of seeing Mr. Knotting in the flesh was frightening.   

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Re: Angels. Dust.
« Reply #15 on: August 15, 2016, 07:37:00 pm »
Cobalt brushed his sleeve with some irritation when she refused to admit that his love for Lion could buy him some leniency. It was of course the Knotting ego that compelled the fingers to flick dust that wasn't there. Quickly, he took back the disapproving glance he'd shot at the perfectly courteous woman, who'd only answered a question, when he parted the cloud of Seraphim in his bloodways, to see as Chester again. Since he knew the other man's sensitivity on the subject, he held his hand around the other wrist for concentration, and an anchor, when she addressed his other point.

The part of him that wanted to billow, the rented space in his spirit, only made him feel guilt - though Maxwell would never - when Lucile laid the girl bare. What a pretty character she could have been in another story. The woman she'd become. And all that damage Lucile guessed on, would be from here, wouldn’t they? If Lion had taken these sick circumstances and gone on, marry far away, that damage would have followed her, haunted her life. But what if the guarding, new father had not let their connection end? She would have been such sharp shambles. The detective couldn't even guess on it, because his mind wasn't open to victims.

They became more civilized in the carriage. He pretended not to read everything about her, and the way she assembled herself. It inspired him to dandy up, also. They were a pair, then, to see and muse about. What adventures could they have partaken in, looking so proper around their disheveled? He didn't amuse himself with the implications, though usually he would. They were both too raw.

He looked a bit like the child he and Marla had yet to make when Lucile took out her toy, and built it. The gloved hand held the wrist harder, twisting a bit. Cobalt knew to pretend to look away. It wasn't just fondness of the smoke that drew him, of course, it was the beauty of the instrument, as well. He did not offer his sympathies when her fingers shook in their task of incepting fire. His strain was on his conscience, but he could well understand that there was a toll to her listening over his becoming. Pointing it out would help no one. Cobalt was not late to accept the little favor. A nod for her generosity as he put his lips on it.

The taste it offered and the placebo before the real effects became a small comfort when she revealed that she might not be so easily lured to his house, after all. Surely Marla would ask about it, and be disappointed now that he failed. Maybe he’d try again, later. He held on to the fog in his breath for a little while, and then spoke it out. "To keep together what is left of her heart, I suppose." About the mother, and her possible resistance to all this. He gave her the pipe back. “Hopefully we can minimize her required participation.” He’d rather contribute to mercy than any kind of suffering the mother might owe for her oversights. Loosing child and face was enough.

His wife’s smile, with her adorable tooth, slightly out of place, came projected on the living air between them when Lucile brought her into the conversation. He nodded and suddenly held the effective contraption again. Married, yes. “Recently. She owns Cobalt Remnants.” He answered. While some men were becoming savvy to the boutique, he knew it was wider known among women. Perhaps Lucile would be familiar. A flash of a grin, lifting the lilt of the opium for the space of time that would barely host a wink. Another indulgent drag. “Marla likes to pretend that she’s appalled, sometimes.” He gossiped. “But she’s more delighted to hear about it than anyone I have met. She’s more interested in the murderous mind than I, sometimes. My wife makes a point out of examining clues to the male thought process, that she can understand us, and dress us.” He held the rounded thing up in his leather dressed fingers, turning it over once before giving it back. “If she’s afraid she’s turned it in to fascination long ago.” He offered with the return of her trinket. “No instinct for self-preservation, my wife.” Leather to his lower lip as he let out a storm of laced tendrils that he’d completely forgotten he held on to. “I take some of the assailants home with me, in me, sometimes. She is at once surprised and then too curious about who I am on any given day.” Cobalt shook his head, pressing harder on the lip. “Then I worry enough for the both of us.” Especially now, when it was hard to know if he was Maxwell or himself. Strong Seraphim.

He came out a few moments after her, cane active in keeping him upright. His side was facing away from the building and he rounded their carriage quickly. Suddenly his stomach pulled and his mouth curled in on itself. He hated the nature of his home. Hated that he was about to be caught and touched by unworthy, worker hands. Cobalt threw the bottom of his fist toward the shoulder of the driver who yelped at the abuse. The detective’s eyes hadn’t even given a glance to the poor man. “Quiet.” He barked, low, and jammed the cane between stones on the path. “You’ll wake all of damned London.” He warned, as though he wasn’t the reason for the sound. Cobalt touched his hair, recently kept in the tie again, in a way that suggested shame, but not enough to take back the anger that was invigorating his eyes. “Well, we will get this over with, then.” He said, unhappy.

Around the corner, a dark horse, and on it, John. A good officer, arrived sooner on the fast mount. He was about to dismount after his small search of the surroundings, hesitant to go inside to the superior abode without the pair he’d been assigned to assist. John was about to give a report, but Cobalt interrupted him by pulling the cane and some dirt free of the cobblestone. “Of course you haven’t found him. We have to flush him out.” Chester was struggling, his breathing shoulders said so. Affection Maxwell felt for Lion, and fascination Cobalt had for Lucile, had him stand inappropriately close to the woman, which made John dismount faster. Cobalt graced her cheek and then held it. She was his little girl, waiting for him at night in her mother’s house, she was his newest acquaintance, mysterious and interesting. “You stay here. I won’t escape when I see your aura.” He said intimately against her brow. Maxwell would have kissed her, but Chester was able to realize what was happening and stood straight before more uncouth could transpire. It seemed the opium hadn’t been enough.

“Not now, John. It’s not as it seems.” He said to the officer who cleared his throat.

If John was going to speak up on behalf of Madam Lucile, he was not given opportunity to. Hooves clapped over the tamed rocks, further ahead. From the opposite bend where John had emerged, a large steed, monstrous. In the night it almost looked blue. Heavy coats on top and behind. The horse at the carriage stirred, and the one John had come on was farther upset. “Maxwell.” Cobalt hissed under his breath and stood between Lucile and the road. The beast didn’t mind that its rider had been revealed, and thundered on, aiming to pass them. “He won’t stop. It’s below him, all this. Somehow he’ll escape and fortify his defense.” Cobalt said, pride in his call, trusting more to the cane in frustration for not being able to throw father out of himself.

And it would seem that way, as the large, no doubt expensive, animal ran. It was about to pass them and leave them in its dust, when the man astride turned his head, vain oils on his upper lip, to see the woman. The steed pulled back, legs up, when its reins tugged for the man’s surprise. A tall throw, and the master couldn’t hold on. Valiant John even stepped and reached but too far and too late to prevent the hard impact onto the harder stone. The horse fled, with more grace than urgency, and Cobalt took Lucile’s arm to bring her to the unmade Maxwell, laying in the middle of rich riding wear, a splay of coins spewed from the pouch at his belt, over his chest. Travel fair, no doubt. There was blood on the mustache now, and shock on the eyes that weren’t Chester’s color, at all.

“Li-luh…” father tried to say, seeing Lucile above him. John fussed, circling the man but at a loss as to what to do. Cobalt felt real sympathy as he bent over the now noble. Maxwell only reached his riding glove upward, toward Lucile. A tremble, in the man and in the hand, of disbelief and greed. Cobalt turned to look at her. It was the madam’s choice, whether to grant the illusion of the daughter he’d played with, until her end, or let him lay there, rudely awakened to his own mortality. Cobalt recognized a bit of hope in himself that this flight should have been successful, but most of the detective, returning, was glad these injuries, if not fatal, at least kept further attempts at escape complicated.

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Re: Angels. Dust.
« Reply #16 on: August 18, 2016, 10:15:57 pm »
She had nodded along when he spoke of Marla, who sounded like a nice woman with a curious heart. Lucile thought she must be the type of woman that Lucile, herself, would have fancied being friendly with but never would really. Lucile did not keep many friends among the living. “A unique and lovely lady, then.” Lucile summarized. “Congratulations on your nuptials, then, if it was recent.” She made no comment on the twist in that supposed fascination. It would be too much of a projection, of course, to presume those interests would end poorly.

Out of the carriage, she was startled by the brusqueness that came over the detective. Lucile understood the Seraphim had not been exorcised from either of them, yet, but her spirits were not the sort she carried with her. This home had its own ghosts and they nagged at the hems of her clothes and crawled down her spine. But they weren’t Dandelion and so they did not find any window to her mind.

Lucile was still when Cobalt stepped into her sphere. It was, in part, because he was still a stranger to her more than anything else. Mostly, it was the weight of all the lives that had drifted through the old home, listless energies provoked by Lucile’s siren song aura. They swarmed toward her, teasing and pulling. If the situation had been somewhat different she might have even appreciated Cobalt’s nearness.

She nodded. “As you say,” she said, disinclined to argue. Lucile wasn’t quite sure if he were caught in Maxwell’s spiral again, anyway. It was best not to question. Dandelion would likely have done the same, with this sort of mood cast over them. If there had been some of the vain father in his thoughts, the detective seemed to find himself quickly enough. A light rain started up, applauded by a distant clap of thunder. John squinted irritably at the sky.

This whole business had become an unsavory sort of peculiar. The woman, whom he’d found unsettling from the start, now seemed the least offensive. This place that sheltered a murderer and this detective who indulged that murderer’s mind. The night was off balance and tense. Lucile could sense the officer’s unrest but made no indication nor effort to assuage it. She was less than sympathetic, her bones still rattled from Lion’s last dance and the bruises forming on her hips and throat to prove it. She wished she stayed in the carriage a bit longer. Both she and the detective might have benefited from the embrace of a bit more smoke. She was dizzy, but Cobalt was worse for wear.

Lucile intended to ask him what they ought to do next when Maxwell Knotting, himself, burst onto the stage before she or John could form what sentiments they’d wished to express. Knotting was his own thunder on the cobblestone, the large pitch steed churning with his rider’s urgency. The carriage horses danced and Lucile jumped. She had been caught up in the sluggish coil of souls seeping about the property. This Knotting was not the first murderer to refuge here.

Cobalt, perhaps due to his personal attunements to the very man aiming to flee past them, was not caught as unguarded. The detective was barking something to them as he threw himself between her and the charging beast, but Lucile scarcely caught a word of it. There was a peculiar sense of slowing time when she caught Maxwell’s eye and understood he saw Lion there. Remnants, like fingerprints, on her soul.

Maxwell reined the horse hard and it reared on the short stop, flailing hooves striking near enough to cause John to leap back for some safety. Lucile, too, found herself stumbling back a step or two. It was the man, not the horse, that repulsed her though. In an instant, the shock that had drawn Mr. Knotting to stop his flight was also his downfall as his foot lost the stirrup and he was thrown from the anxious gelding. Hot, loud breaths from the horse’s flaring nostrils, but he calmed once he was rid of his rider. John, who had regained his wits as well, tried to grab for the horse’s reins but the beast galloped off, leaving Maxwell lay with his back on the cobblestone.

Lucile would not have known how to proceed, but Cobalt’s grip was firm when he pulled her toward the fallen man. She saw the glisten of blood on his moustache when they approached and had to swallow back the desire to wretch when she was brought to such a proximity with this man that had violated her before they’d ever met. She was appalled on Lion’s behalf, because she understood the abuse even if the girl and the man, himself, did not.

When he reached for her, she felt a sudden relief that he and the detective looked nothing alike. She did not think she could bear to continue with this face burned into her memory, now. For a moment, she froze. Then, she swatted his hand back. Cold, unforgiving storms in her stare. “Mr. Knotting, I am working with Scotland Yard as consult and you will be placed under arrest as suspect for the murder of Miss Dandelion Knotting.” She said. She did not look at Cobalt, because she suspected she might find sympathy there where she had none.   

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Re: Angels. Dust.
« Reply #17 on: August 19, 2016, 02:14:06 pm »
Knotting hadn’t had Lion in his heart when he prepared. It was a nuisance to have heard from the boy across the street of the old house in the city that there were people in uniforms at the decrepit gates. He’d indulged in the scenario of not leaving. The lawyers had gone, sucking his coffers dry, bastards, but they would come back for this. What could a brigade of two, a partnership between a woman and a man, no less, possibly do to touch him, even if they were on mission from the crown? He could have committed larger crimes and walked the streets with his chin high. He was of the crown himself, now.

And so he’d begrudgingly thrown silver at the boy, for having come out here, and then gone about finding his best clothes and the last of the money from a friend who’d trusted the Knotting man to keep it safe. He’d not even thought about the pretty girl when he heard the officer ride the grounds, shouting that he had questions about Maxwell’s late daughter-in-law. There had been a fleeting thought to sneer at the two who thought they knew something because the queen had said so. He decided in favor for that impulse, riding by, so they would know their better when they saw him. It had been Dandelion staring back. He thought of her then. All her lovely anger and the way they’d play until she let him kiss her. His porcelain idol, with embers in her belly. He’d never had sport like that. His daughter.

And so he had to stop, so he could command her in to the house, away from the lowly law. A fatal mistake leading to a lethal break. He understood the severity of the fall and needed her to help him in, so they could call her mother. He wouldn’t stand for her rebellion now. Maybe In a few weeks. What an unpleasant taste in his mouth, and how unworthy to lay at the feet for people who couldn’t even afford the good manners to leave a gentleman be, suspicions be damned. It was their fortune Maxwell had missed Lion so much, and feared her tumble had robbed him of the amusement mother and child had provided. He wouldn’t scold them. But he would have Dandelion with him, immediately. He understood that it must be love on his part, when he reached for her.

Cobalt read to himself, looking at the man, waiting for Lucile to interact. The detective had made himself familiar with death’s preferences, and where it liked to invade the structure of the living. As with any patron at any establishment, death had its favorite seats. Cobalt sung their Latin names now, low, as he looked over the coats and the constellation of coins, to discover where death sat this time. He wanted to correct the collars, for proper’s sake, but that wasn’t his own vanity. It was strenuous to have Maxwell so close, when Cobalt had kept him closer still, in the house. He knew to let go of Lucile, that he wouldn’t wring her skin into further mottle.

Both men breathed the rain with some startle when she arched her arm to collide against Maxwell’s with a stronger grace than Dandelion could ever have performed. The gentleman who would be royal died faster then, as his knuckles fell down on the spread out, luxuriant cape, made heavier by heaven’s water and most certainly his own blood. There were no trails of blue, of course, new family or not. Lion flashed in and away on the other woman, and his dark eyes, not cobalt at all, flared when close lighting made a skeletal wing for her, from his perspective. Cobalt saw it, too. The woman did not look like father’s favorite, pouting doll, then, as the sound and quake caught up, but rather an emissary of whatever otherworldly bureau had come to take him. The desperation to see the girl again spent his powers frivolously. He wanted to beg with life-slick lips but Cobalt put the end of his cane to Maxwell’s forehead, and applied pressure until that head was laid back.

“Better die resting.” The detective said as John finally moved past the unforgiving woman, to fall on his knees onto the cape to see what might be done. A good officer, but ill informed. Cobalt looked to Lucile, some of Maxwell’s superiority still in the wrinkles on his forehead before he looked back at the scene below them and tapped John on the shoulder.

“Hurry back. That is all you can do. You have the fastest horse, now that the big one has gone.” He said. John looked from his friend to lady a few times before nodding and running for his mount. Cobalt sighed when they were alone, and bent his legs to be closer to the murderer. He moved softer, innately effective. Marla liked his practical elegance. Cobalt was fighting Seraphim hard, to be himself, as he folded some heavy cloth from the side into and over the man. “You shouldn’t scheme to avoid the law, not so hard, not now. Save your obsession for your life, instead. Nobody will respect you much in death, not when there are gilded queens and kings there.” It was a meaning Maxwell understood. The unmixed Cobalt was kind.

He stood soon. He would much rather be close to her. The polite rain made one black strand so heavy it crawled over his cheekbone, and laid on his nose, as though he’d been in a perfectly modest scuffle. “If you’d like, you can stay in our carriage. Someone should stay out here to monitor Mr. Knotting.” So he doesn’t die alone in the rain, if he does. He thought that Lucile was also unique and lovely, as she’d deemed Marla, then. Her judgment on Maxwell was fit for any of Justitia’s harbingers. “Do you suppose they’ll meet again?” he asked. Maxwell wasn’t gone, but he was no longer present either, probably set on his inner battle, against blood where blood should not be, and bones that had not won over the cobblestone. Would Lion look for him, would he Lion? He wondered about the mechanics of soul division, and she was the only authority present. The connection between the man and his victim was strong, Cobalt and Lucile were both witnesses to this, but the emotions twining that bond weren’t pure.

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Re: Angels. Dust.
« Reply #18 on: August 22, 2016, 05:00:05 pm »
Lucile folded her arms across her chest. “I can wait here with you.” She said. There wasn’t really any chance of Knotting getting away, at that point, but she seemed intent on being sure of it. To say she didn’t wholly trust the detective alone with the man he’d so intimately conjured, too, would not have been inaccurate.

As it stood, they were still bringing the man in on suspicion. Surely, the police would hunt through the old house and find that grey jacket and the tin of berries and match it to the juice smeared on Lion’s face. That Knotting had tried to flee, as well, pressed the nails further into his proverbial coffin. It was quite nearly an open and shut case, thanks to the wiles of the Seraphim, but due processes had yet to run its course. It all amounted to caution, on the off chance the drug-laced detective was inclined to begin destroying evidence on Maxwell’s behalf. She glanced at him. Hopefully he would forgive the practicality of it. Lucile expected he would have done the same if they were still at Lion’s home and it were she at risk for a wandering mind.

It upset her that the man was dying. Lucile understood that Mr. Knotting had not intended this sort of escape, but it felt as effective. He would not stand for his crimes. She could feel his soul slipping the edges of his body, already. Perhaps death seemed adequate punishment superficially, but Lucile knew souls only suffered so much as they desired. Whether out of remorse or trauma, nothing new occurred in death. Only recurrence. The mind would never change. You cannot teach a spirit a lesson. And she was certain Mr. Knotting had learned nothing other than to wish he’d not been caught.

“If he has the will for it, they will meet.” She said, frigid tone. “Dandelion hasn’t the will to leave her place of death, so they will only meet if he goes to her.” Lucile explained, and sighed. “I pray he does not.” She was aware their sentiments might differ there. Cobalt couldn’t hide the empathy he had for the man any more than Lucile could conceal her revulsion. “If Mother—if Dandelion’s mother cares enough, Lion’s soul might attach itself to her shoulders. It might be safer for the girl.” She inclined her head. “You cannot force that sort of thing, though. And I can’t tell you what would bring either of them peace enough to pass on.” The grey stare was sharp. “You might have a better idea of that than I, Mr. Cobalt.”

The rain began to pick up and the carriage driver ran out to them with a pair of black umbrellas. He was nervous when he approached, no doubt from Cobalt’s earlier treatment, and extended the umbrellas to them at the full length of his arms. Lucile thanked him and he was trotting back toward the carriage quickly. She opened the black bell with a satisfying pop, a spray of droplets combating the downpour for a brief moment.

Chester might have noticed that she stepped in to ensure Knotting was beneath her umbrella, as well, though she did not care to look down at the man and his shallow breathing. It was possible to find him wretched without being cruel. “His ego was practically a family disease.” Lucile said after a long moment. “This house is brimming with old haunts, unable to pass. It nearly drips with crimes of passion.” She shivered a little. “I don’t understand that kind of passion.” She said. “I suppose I don’t envy that you do.” As if Lucile’s own nature wasn’t a burden. But everyone learns to bear their own cross, in the end.

“Is it much harder to control, with the Seraphim?” she asked him. “For me, it is as if a dam has broken. Stronger souls will pass as they wish. All the energy around me knows it.” Lucile clutched the umbrella a little tighter. “If Maxwell Knotting dies now, I will be him as much as I was Dandelion.” She sounded concerned. Surely, such a possession was one she would not stomach well.

As if in answer to her half-voiced prayer, A Scotland Yard carriage came clattering down the road. She breathed a soft sigh of relief she hadn’t known she was holding. Cobalt was a strong man for indulging these sorts of minds. But then, it was his own talented fantasy at the end. Lucile did not want to consider what truly sharing her mind with Father might be like. John jumped down from the carriage with another officer and a physician. Protocol, more than anything. Maxwell would not be saved.

They collected Maxwell’s limp form and transported him swiftly back to the carriage. John trotted back to tip his hat at them. “Quick work, you two. The situation is unfortunate, of course, but better than him making a successful escape. We weren’t a moment too soon.” He cleared his throat. “Are you both alright? If you could just follow us down to the station to file your report for us, we could wrap this one up by morning, I wager.” John wasn’t sure what to expect of them, under the influence of the Queen’s concoction.

“Anywhere but here is preferable, certainly.” Lucile said, and was quick to head back toward their own carriage. She paused by the driver. “Wait until the other carriage is out of sight before you take us, would you please?” she asked. The more distance between herself, Maxwell, and the Knotting manor the safer she’d feel. The driver gave her a quizzical look but nodded anyway. He wasn’t in the mood to be roughed up again. Lucile thanked him and then quickly climbed into the carriage, closing her umbrella with a snap, and waited for Cobalt to join her.

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Re: Angels. Dust.
« Reply #19 on: August 23, 2016, 08:25:01 pm »
Chester had somewhat expected that she wouldn’t go. He preferred her company. Part of him thought that was why she stayed. Surely he would not have gone if she made the same offer. The tension in Lucile, though, did not entirely move him as camaraderie. She had other reasons. She wore a hard configuration to her features, looking at Maxwell, and her change of shadows in tandem with the man’s visible decline of health, as though everything here wasn't an ocean of shadow and rain already, suggested she was guarding his life, though not safeguarding it.

Cobalt was very interested, as the shoulders of his wife's handpicked jacket darkened, in her thesis on the mechanics of spiritual attachments. There was will, of course. Maxwell had enough will to believe his was not a failing bloodline, and that he was owed better. "He'll go see her." Cobalt said with a pout, offended she'd doubt father's incentive and, more so, his right to see Lion. "And he'll know where to find her." It was an awful thing to hope for, believer or not. Cobalt, only Cobalt, breathed through his nose and leaned on the cane with two hands. The opium and his real persona.

One of those hands reached for the umbrella when it was given. He nodded to the man, and could even give him a throw-away smile, since the person who'd abused him was so distant to the detective now. The driver was not charmed. Chester watched Lucile stand between Maxwell and the rain. Admirable. Cobalt hadn't even had that thought. But she didn't speak kindly. He looked at the house, and felt the weight of its decay offend him. If he divided the things Maxwell had been taught by the values of the times his ancestors had lived in, and multiplied it with pride of pampered upbringings, he could easily understand the scope of what Lucile was mentioning. Gravel will crack under carriage wheels. "In a lifetime, it is impossible not to have a moment when you felt the most." Chester speaking. "You can only hope that moment will be good, or that it will make you stronger."

Cobalt squeezed the handle of the umbrella, stringing sinew in his arm taut, reminding him of where he'd taken the drug. Was it harder to control now, his strobe mind? "Yes, like you say, because I'm not given the time to think I can fight it. Have you heard of hypnosis, Lucile?" He'd studied it for a case. A ridiculous alibi, but the practice yielded some potent individuals. "It makes you want to do things you're already inclined to by amplifying your desire and funneling your actions." Was that a confession? He must already be an unpleasant character to her. "If I engage, I become, and maybe that is the hardest thing to fight, yourself." Or would she strongly object, being what she was?

He thought it was a bit frightening that Maxwell might borrow Lucile. Wouldn't that bring detective and medium closer, though? Then she would know too, all this self-justification and disgust at others he was soaking in. Cobalt came down under her umbrella, bent, and collected a fist full of Maxwell's cape, squeezing so the man would feel the pressure on his shoulder. His own umbrella and cane laid in water, to the side. Chester's father had done this for his son a few times. He knew it would give comfort, and that the dying man would not acknowledge it. He had to let go when John came with the doctor. Cobalt started mumbling the names of the possible broken bones again, while gathering the cane and the rainguard.

He listened to John without looking directly at him, lost again to his own calculations, but when he passed the officer, their officer, her patted his shoulder. "Good man." he said and followed Lucile. Eventually the driver moved their vehicle, which meant he deemed circumstances in accordance to what the lady had stipulated. Cobalt bit his gloves off and ran naked fingers through the wet oils of his hair, which lifted the formation and left ridges after the digits. An old comfort he'd usually save for his home, at the end of the day. He must look like an unkempt rouge, then. Marla would have been her usual blend of appalled and enamored.

He was first out after having seen night time London pass while protected from its rain. He offered his arm to her when he held the door open. The driver seemed grateful he didn't have to approach. It was a pity Cobalt had burned this bridge, but the explanation would be too bizarre, anyway. He walked her inside, only one umbrella for the short distance. His tired mind took some refuge in counting raps on the watertight fabric. There seemed to be a handful of tired faces lighting up with surprise when they saw the pair, escorted by John. Their best office wasn't needed, but their officer seemed to think they were to be pampered, being on the queen's orders. Perhaps if the others in here saw, there would be less bureaucracy, in the future.

He scribbled diligently opposite her, and threw her a glance every now and then. They were to assess the effects of Seraphim clinically, from their view, as well as state the facts of the case that lead up to this conclusion. He was sure the crown was more interested in the former. He found himself wondering, in this well-lit office while his pen moved by itself - not his first report - what she put on her own paper. In this light, she might as well have been that teacher she resembled, giving stern grades to nervous children. It made him smile as he put down the pen. He waved at the laid out papers twice, not that it would help the ink much. Idiosyncrasy. ‘Synchronized with you being an idiot.’ Marla had said. He smiled at that too as he collected the parchments and burned the wax.

“You should be prepared for Marla when you come.” He said, leaving the emblem on the envelope, the wax glistening still. He put the stamp between them, by the candle. Sometimes, it could be considered charming to be pushy. He didn’t suspect he’d get her to dinner if he wasn’t particularly so. “She sees the world through sartorial details, and only approves of her own direction.” He tapped a finger on his chest, as though she needed a reminder that he was a dedicated mannequin. He suspected Marla would love to redesign Lucile, and make a relationship out of it. His wife knew to be friendly, though. He drew his thumb over the short edge of the letter.

“So, I think this is a success for crime prevention in England. It comes at a cost to myself, of course, but the results are indisputable.” There was still the matter of legalities, but they had more than they would have, for a nights work. “Was it worth the toll for you, Lucile?” he asked as he heard John’s boots move closer outside. It wouldn’t be long until the officer would stick his head in, and told them they had carriages waiting, if they were done with their reports.

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Re: Angels. Dust.
« Reply #20 on: August 30, 2016, 09:42:26 pm »
Lucile was muted during the carriage ride to the station. She pulled out her pipe again, as soon as she was seated, and seemed concentrated in her puffing. Occasionally, she offered the device to Cobalt. In her head, she was reciting old rhymes from her childhood. Turn the mind in on itself and there is no window for the outside to press in. They were close enough to the carriage bearing Maxwell and she was enough in tune with the man’s aura that she knew he had not yet passed. He was near, though, to the other side. Lucile hoped that Cobalt was wrong about Mr. Knotting and that Dandelion might remain free of the man in death. She knew it was a useless sentiment. She had heard the sureness in the detective’s voice.

At the station, she seemed more at ease. A product of her fragrant smoke, perhaps, but the growing distance between herself and the objects and persons of their case was the more likely catalyst. Knotting would be taken to Hospital, if he did not die on the way, and to the coroner shortly thereafter. It was morbid, to know the trajectory of the not-dead body, but no worse than the dance of the evening. If nothing else, that knowledge was sterile in comparison and the lack of emotional violence was almost comforting.

She sat opposite Cobalt, neatly, and produced a pair of slim horn-rimmed glasses. A proper schoolmistress. Her handwriting was well-flourished and neat. Lucile wondered how their reports might stack beside one another. They had been a terrible sort of synchronized, in Lion’s bedroom. Their sympathies had diverged from there. It wasn’t unexpected, but surely it must color their reports. She set down the pen.

“Ah, well, Mr. Cobalt. Another time, certainly.” She said, unmoved. “I think it might be best to part ways, this evening.” A small smile as she excused herself. She was exhausted. “I’ll certainly take you up on the offer another evening, though.” She didn’t want to be rude, but her first evening with a full dose of Seraphim was taxing. Too much weight, too much clamor. It had almost been easier when Dandelion was there. At least there had not been room for any other spirit to enter. There was no such thing as empty space. “Thank you again for the offer, of course.”

She took her glasses off and pinched the bridge of her nose. “It is worth it if it brings anyone peace.” She told him when he asked. Lucile waved a hand in the air. “All of this is not so different from what I’ve always been asked to do. The Queen’s name is behind it and there’s less mystique, perhaps.” She sighed. There was never any silence nor peace for women like her. Not really. “I appreciate having had the opportunity to work with you, Mr. Cobalt. Your talent is remarkable. I presume we will become more skilled at managing things, in the future.” She said. Surely there would be more assignments. Lucile wondered if she’d learn to separate herself more clearly, the way she could when there was no Seraphim involved. She wondered if Cobalt would learn, too.

Lucile glanced at the door as John knocked on the frame to announce his presence. Drivers were waiting to take them to their homes. She gave Cobalt a little nod as she prepared to leave. “Travel safely, Father.” She said, and for a moment it was as if Lion had come to say her farewells, too. If it had been the case, the dark-haired medium surely hadn’t noticed. John gave Cobalt a puzzled look over the woman’s shoulder as she stepped past him into the hall.

She was a fifteen-minute ride from the station to her little flat on the third floor of a rickety old building near the docks. The two-room affair was dark when she entered, and she didn’t bother to light a lamp when she closed the door behind her. Lucile’s room had a fine silver glow, courtesy of the moon through her open curtains. Through the window, she saw the warmer glow of street lamps below.

Can you see me, tonight, Lucy?

She stood at the window. “Probably,” Lucile said.

But you won’t look?

Lucile shook her head. “Not now.”

Have you made a friend, Lucy? Somebody who understands?

Lucile pulled her hair down and shook out the dark curls. “I don’t know. The only demon he entertains is his own.” She turned finally to her bed, where a shifting shade perched on the footboard. Vaguely human. “The living are unpredictable.”

And the dead?

“Also. But less so.”

Dandelion?

Lucile folded her arms across her chest. “She’s with me still, then? I suspected, just a bit.”

Part of her has stuck. They all will, you know. The ones you let in. You have two faces now. Be careful, Lucy.

Lucile pulled her curtains closed so only a sliver of starlight passed through. She undressed quietly, slipping into a well-worn sleeping gown. From the little bag she’d carried, she took out her pipe and tin and glasses to set them on her vanity. “I thought you might be more excited by the Seraphim.” She said to her shadow. It shifted in what might have been a shrug.

I am here so that you do not die alone. That is the loneliest thing.

She slipped beneath her covers, pulling the blankets up to her chin. She’d never understood this dark spirit. Her peculiar guardian ghosting by her bed. It was strong, at least, its presence had always been enough to keep other spirits from her home. Once she’d learned not to be afraid, she’d appreciated that much.

If I took advantage, I would be you and I would be me. Like Dandelion. If I am you, you are alone.

Lucile gripped her blankets a little tighter. “I’m very tired. It was hard, blocking everyone out.”
 
You can sleep now, Lucy. I am always alone. There will be no one else.

Lucile exhaled slowly. “It should wear off by morning. I hope Mr. Cobalt keeps track of himself, as well.” She mumbled, closing her eyes.

A friend would be nice, Lucy.

The shade drifted to sit beside her on the bed, hovering over her. Watching. Lucile had found it terrifying, when she was small. It was familiar now. Quiet observer. Like Father, maybe.

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Re: Angels. Dust.
« Reply #21 on: August 31, 2016, 06:22:14 pm »
Cobalt nodded with a tilted head when she opened the door to perhaps come see him and his wife. She was as polite as he had hoped. He'd bullied her a bit about it, surely, but for a good cause. If he dared - though he shouldn't, not already - he'd read out of her that she might be particularly hard to summon for social appointments. He'd not been concentrated on her, today. Perhaps she was every bit the conversationalist and gossiper to make Marla swoon and rant. They were both weighted enough by false father and unfortunate girl that such an image would not be true about either of them, at this time.

Cobalt stood when she did, and the comfort she gave the prominent slope of her nose reminded him of the fatigue that waited behind the forceful silver edges that was Seraphim. A lot like the rush and pain of finding oneself in cold water. Cobalt wasn't allowed to pass into chock or swim for shore by the angel's drink, though. He wasn't even allowed to throw his senses at a problem, anymore, with Maxwell’s balance already written down and packed. Seraphim was pacing inside, peddling its gift and saying nothing of cost. The body can only remain in such a state, and perhaps draw energy from the brisk, until a debt accumulates. Yes. He was Lucile’s kind of wary, too. Maybe that moment was their most in tune out of all of this.

"And your talent is fantastic." he payed back. It was such a truth that it was unneeded, but he stressed it a bit, so she'd know he admired it. ”I hope so.” That we become more proficient together. She was right. London was always soaked, no drought by weather or in killings. And the crown would not relent. An empty sense of victory and a hidden longing when Lion flickered. He shook his head at John and the quiet question. Cobalt trusted the officer not to bother her about it while the three took the station's length in silence. Pleasantries would only do their good if they weren't spoken, now, and the case could sleep too, since the others still at work here were not allowed to know or overhear. “Be safe.” He told her. He made sure John put her well in her carriage before finding the relative warmth of his own. He’d even shaken the driver’s hand, as though all drivers were the same, and the slight to one could be mended with some affection toward another.

He touched the glass and remembered bleeding while the rain was washing. Looking up at Lucile, Lion in a woman’s dress, he’d wanted his own death to wound her terribly, buy the monstrosity that his daughter had become was not attached to him the way she ought, the way she owed. And now he needed desperately to survive so he could punish her, and take her back. Cobalt only realized he’d found the edges of that seal on his mind and started scratching to pull and peel when there were fishing-line cracks on the glass. He took the burrowing hand back and sighed as he examined the damage. He paid with silver and apologized when the driver opened. Enemies, we make.

There was a light in the house, and he tried to stop thinking like Maxwell. The door opened too fast with his key and a shove. No heed that he might want time in his struggle with the ego and vanity of the surely passing man. Eventually he had to close the door again, and look on the corridor that divided his choices between his office, her shop, and their home, upstairs. Borrowed cane beside the hall mirror. Some phantom, come to do another phantom’s work on Marla and her smart. Cobalt tried desperately to fix the becoming ridges in his hair, tried to make it smooth but the good result came too quickly. Out of frustration, borrowed and his own, the expert hands ruffled the black strands again. Trademark eyes hummed, looking at their own wants playing out in the mirror when he heard her upstairs, calling for him in a way that needed at least the lightest of acknowledgements. Sometimes he’d go straight for his office and stay all night, after all. That kind of inspiration was a lie. Chester didn’t like to lie to Marla if she couldn’t see through it. She’d not understand completely, this time, as she would.

He, the detective, did not notice his lack of stagger when he took the stairs. Adrenaline, or Maxwell’s legs, the cane wondered, alone. He opened their sitting room where she nested when she waited for him. Wife with all the wifely wishes, in a gown and a robe. Daughter, ready for sleep. And, most disturbing, brunette medium, collecting herself and asking him to wield the thin deliverer. Marla, who was innocent of most of those accusations, looked at him with an expression to welcome him home, and also an apology that she would not be requiring details tonight, not because she was tired, and she was, but because she suspected he was.

The thoughtful woman saw the hair, and conflict in the hitch of every other step to her. Hand that was appropriately tiny and limber, host of many invisible needle-landings – though hers were without chemicals – came to his cheek, not to stop but to admire. “You are not my Chester Cobalt.” With fascination. Part of her understood all of it, but her foremind decided not to care when he lifted her from where she stood by her chair, and placed her on the table by a hanging painting of a Narcissus she’d said was a delightfully, satirically ugly. “Hurry before he comes home.” She said with awe on the parted lips. Ah, but that was not the game he intended to play. Good to know, though, Mrs. Cobalt.

He reached back behind her head when the other hand hooked a thumb around the side of her throat, rest of the fingers securing from the other side. She was dramatically aghast and held on to his arms. Then he tugged her brown hair free. Dandelion was losing, and so was Maxwell. Seraphim was becoming poison. He’d become a breeding ground for unsavory impulses. So he tugged the hair free, it was dark but not as dark as Lucile’s. “Not the hair!” she said with amusement until he held her harder, and breath was expensive. She didn’t know what it meant when he undid her shoulder-length’s and had them cut through and mask her struggling theater of features. If they’d though of angels when they named the blend that rode his bloodstream with a insistently beating heart’s will, they’d be wrong in that moment.

New gown split. Marla was happy, suffocating, appreciated. Chester was miserable with guilt, somewhere far back, but also exercising every right he had not, and it made him feel a bit of the grandeur an unloving lover-father might, spending his ward and daughter for his whims.