Logs:Risen from the Crypt

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Risen from the Crypt


Characters: Chloe & Reed
Date: 2020-07-15
Summary: The first half of a vision is fulfilled when Chloe's potential roommate turns out to be a former classmate, significantly changed.
Disclaimers: Heavy flirtation. Some kissing. References to blood and guts.

It's difficult to look both chill and reliable when the weather is both hot and humid, but Chloe's made the attempt, settling on some breathable jeans and a loose white tee shirt thin enough to see a rough suggestion of the black-inked flower tattoo on the front of her shoulder and maybe even the black crescent moon between her tits, just above the central point of her less noticeably dark bra. The look says more clean and put-together more than steady income and career goals, but it'll have to do. It's too hot outside for anything more, even if the bar itself is well-cooled. As she settles in, she sends off a message to the stranger she's here to meet, letting him know she's arrived, that she's settled onto one of the couches in the corner, that she's the girl with the green hair. Easy to spot. She's also already got a drink, having brought one over from the bar, a blonde beer of some variety, already a few swigs gone.


There were a lot of things that Reed is now that he wasn't as Des. He's the man that transformed twice - taking one form for the first two years after high school, and another for the two since. He was clean cut, popular, but restless and beleaguered by familial expectations; then he was gone. The first time, bound away-ward, pierced, tattoo'd, en-punked. There's a shadow of that on him now, more visible still than who he was before. Recognizable, but clearly awry. The newly green of his eyes a stand out, among other, not so natural aspects of visage, to those that see his mien.

The familiar face, beset with two layers of change that haven't so much left him unrecognizable, but amplified the beauty that was there - sharpened it, makes his way to the bar in a black leather jacket with a hood and blue jeans over black boots. Clothes he brought with him, from where he emerged. Not where he was taken. He orders a sour - black cherry. Something that may be beyond his budget to get properly shitfaced on, if the crumpled bills he pays with are any indication. A broad smile paid to the raised brow at the state of his currency. But it may just suit first taste before laying into the cheap stuff. He gets it in a glass - a pint - and carries it with him out on the search for green hair. It doesn't take long. He blinks when he turns, and freezes in place.


Chloe's changed, too. The four-year span between eighteen and twenty-two is a big one, measured in a strange scale that makes it feel both so long and so very short at the same time. The green hair and the ink are the most obvious indicators of change, from the broken heart near her eye to the alchemical symbols and pentagram on her knuckles, but there was definitely something else, something other right below the surface. If Reed hadn't changed, too, he wouldn't notice it as anything more than the not interested vibes that some punk girls give off. But he has. He feels it, the predatory nature that marks her strange, too.

It's the staring that draws her attention up from her phone, expecting to see the guy she's waiting on. Somebody named Reed. Not, "Des?" The name comes out before her brain has fully processed the changes, the otherness, the macabre inked on his skin, the way he almost sort of not-quite-shines. Brighter, at least in his eyes. Like jeweled bugs crawled into him and changed him from the inside out. This is what that stranger foretold. Right? She squints to be sure, to try and see the mask below, to match four-years and Arcardia against memory. It really does look like him...


Maybe that's what takes him a moment. Not the years - those here, in the flesh; or those that passed in an instant, taking him in on one coast and spitting him out on the other in hardly more than days on this end. It's the mutual change. The way that the predator-spirit of the wolf triggers a fight-or-flight response in the soul of one used to having been prey; reflectively kenned. The tats. The green. Green, unlike the shade of his eyes, but a mutual change in that respect. His own piercings (aside from the one on his brow) decorating pointed elfen ears, to those that see mien. His name confirms it. The name he was given, bound to car pools in luxury sedans - before the two years of sucking gas through a hose to fill a band's camper-van in the Pacific North-West. Smoking to get the taste of gas out of his mouth, as if nicotine or pot were always preferable.

He'd expected, at some point, maybe bumping into someone who knew him, coming to a place just hours from old-home. But expectations don't mean preparation. He suppresses the difficult to deal with and puts on the surprised half-smile that one might expect, on a chance encounter, nearly half a decade apart. But the suppression swells the mantle, when he walks to the couch, and he brings a welcome frost in the midst of the heat warning. "Chloe?" he asks, back. His voice is different. More different than anything about him. He'd been able to strain it, on command, affecting a grunge-punk quality; more effectively musical, instrumentally. But now, there's just something about it, recognizable from the instant he says her name. Tenor. Potential powerful. Muzzled siren call, set to words and not music.


Chloe shivers. Could be the AC picking up. Could be realization of how promptly and unexpectedly the scarred stranger's prediction has played out. Most likely, it's just the winter mantle dragged closer with Reed's approach, a part of changeling strangeness with which the werewolf simply doesn't have enough familiarity yet to recognize. Whatever the source, that discomfort is enough to urge her upright as he comes over, beer left behind on a side table and phone shoved into her pocket. Her smile confirms her identity. Her blush probably says something more. She doesn't seem to notice as she says, "Oh my gods! Hey! I heard you were, like, off touring the country or something." And maybe she's been watching occasional videos on youtube and following on instagram and all of that, where technology shows, oh, none of the significant changes to who he is, but he doesn't need to know that. "You look..." Different? Changed? Like the walking, talking embodiment of This Is Why I'm a Witch? "Hot." Too much. Dial it back, fangirl. "Good. You look good."


The chill can erase questions of layers. At least for a moment or two before the heat wins out, outside - but it's cool enough, here, in the bar, for his northern Spring-or-Fall jacket. There's a second look. The frame of a face recognized contrasted to green hair - and to tattoos that are displayed, to a nose piercing. There's a kinship that turns the forced smile genuine in the face of troubled meetings, up until the mention of touring. "Taking a break from it," Reed half-truths. "It's hard not to make the kind of music everyone else is making, when you're all hitting the same venues. Call it a homeward spirit-journey. Or, close to homeward," he says. And it's easy. This much was Reed, through and through. Restless daydreamer - but easy to engage with. Sociable. Drifting in and out of seeming like he didn't know someone was right in front of him, to giving them his full attention. Not mercurial, but somehow lost - half elsewhere. How much truer that is, now. There's tension. Lips pulled straight, one emotive brow climbing, panic at the lead in of 'you look'. What might be seen, given what vague predatory non-vampiric spirit he's feeling. The punchline gets a surprised laugh, and brightness that's tactically paired with a glint of light on a steel eyebrow piercing. "You look good-hot too," he quips. Falling back into ease. Out of what he's pushing down, inside. "I don't know if I'm thinking that the style suits you, or if I'm just to biased in liking the style. Both," he decides.


Chloe's eyes widen with understanding, sympathy at the close-to-homeward comment, knowing how little there is to find back in the pleasant-enough suburb where they grew up, a whole lot of nothing to stir the soul, to inspire any properly interesting muse. There's a flicker of camaradie in that sentiment, an unspoken me too in her expression, a suggestion of seeking that's swiftly tucked away as the conversation continues. "Both," she agrees with an expression which plainly reads duh, nevermind the deepening red on her cheeks. Had she always been this bold? "And, further, you like the way I rock it." She poses, hips shifting left as her hands go out to her sides, a little dip which precedes a look down over herself, over her very plain clothing which doesn't entirely express what the dyed hair and inked skin and pierced nose otherwise communicate. When she looks up with a self-deprecating smirk, she explains, "I'm meeting someone--" With a glance past him to make sure that whoever she's waiting for hasn't come in. "--about an apartment or something. Trying to play the part of responsible rent-payer today."


Another flash of the genuine, in eyes and smile - when Chloe adopts the 'both' and as doing so furthers the depth of that blush. Brightening further when she claims to rock it and strikes a pose, thusly. Reed chuckles, at first, then sets a hand to his own chin, as if in thought and prone to review, while the other holds tight to a glass made trecherous by condensation. "You've got the moves," he decides. "But you've adapted better to the warm than I have." Before the explanation is to arrive - the part she's playing, and how she has thusly prepared herself. He looks where she does, over his shoulder, away; having already made the connection, himself, with the aid of the identifier in the message. Green hair. But he doesn't drop the bomb for a couple more seconds, yet; his own punchline. He looks back to her. That smile, softened into a more genuine setting, now - amused, excited. Concerns and troubles securely locked in a canister labeled 'heartful things'. "Fuck. I don't mean to reference rote romcoms from my birthyear." The same year as hers, to note. "But did you ever see You've Got Mail?" Serious cred-detriment, as a reference, but Reed doesn't seem too outwardly concerned with cred.


"Never really left," Chloe notes dryly. Clearly, it applies only to the warm weather, to the close-to-homeward. Wherever her last four years were spent, it wasn't anywhere that might require layers on a regular basis. Some part of her brain might even pick up on that detail, now that it's been noted, now that they're moving past the initial surprised excitement of seeing a familiar face in an unexpected location. He hasn't even been in town long enough to update his wardrobe, has he? The connection's there, nearly, so close, but she's easily distracted. Gods, he's cute when he says fuck. Eyes widening as they unfocus, as she thinks, she shakes her head, eventually meeting Reed's gaze again as she admits, "Don't think so? Why? Are we in one?" She flashes a shameless grin, pure cheese, entirely self-aware.


"Right," Reed catches - he left, others remained. A chuckle that should be awkward but isn't. "I'm a bit like that guy that goes away to Texas to work one summer and comes back with a cowboy hat - or to England, and comes back with an accent. But at least I can say that four years is sixteen seasons - and I mean proper-fucking-seasons - will tweak your style." Fake it til you make it - suburb kid siphoning gas and smoking scrounged cigs. He was a poser in the lifestyle he dreamed of, until, one day, he wasn't. The way the manner of speech suits him, but at the same time, is so hard to miss, against who he was once expected to be. There's more energy to it now - to him. Bouyance. Pretty and nice in a leather jacket, piercings, and tattoos that are only hinted at, at collars and cuffs. "If we are, the soundtrack better be good," he decides, matching a shameless grin with grace and timing. A grin he double checks, seems to enjoy; seems to cause him to explore memory, setting Chloe that is against what was. The boldness, here. "Anyhow. Twist is: it was me all along, I guess. Reed." He offers out the hand not busy with the drink he hasn't sipped from. "Pleased to meet you."


Yep. That's the same conclusion that had been poking at her brain. Absence of anyone else, coincidence of details, fate getting a good giggle. "No shit?" Muted surprise, half-feigned, the appreciation underscoring those two words more genuine than any suggestion of revelation. With a glance down at the offered hand, she adds, "Right, so, onto awkward handshakes?" Her hand is dainty as ever, her skin warm and soft, lacking any overt changes to go with that underlying predatory menace she just naturally exudes, but there's a little ink here, a taurus symbol in red on one finger. Her grip's a little firmer than it needs to be, an expression of nerves, of that admitted awkwardness, insight into the overthinking running through her head. Had they ever shaken hands before? Why do people even shake hands anymore? Are all the people wearing masks judging them? Is this weird? This is weird. Not much of that internal weirdness makes it into her expression as she sizes him up and guesses, "Pacific Northwest? Maaaybe a little NYC?" It's coming from media. How far from home has she ever been? "Shit. We should sit. We should talk. About, like..." Living together. With fucking Desmond Jian. "Ya know." What they came here for.


"For lack of an embarassing-but-cool secret one," Reed says, as to handshakes. His skin, not cold like the breeze he brought with him. Soft, warm, and smooth save for some telltale calluses that subtly harden the edges of his fingertips (particularly the index and thumb), suggesting a tendency to play guitar with a pick. He'd played orchestral - more than one instrument, there. But when he played at talent shows, at school, it was with his garage rock band that his parents tolerated so long as he was still working at what they wanted for him. The piercing and tattoos weren't a thing, then, clearly. His grip is loose, by contrast - easy going, relaxed. Thinking all the same thoughts, but maybe falling short on the mask front. "Seattle-and-surrounding," he says, confirming the guess with a skew to his smile. "Landed on the other coast for awhile. Somehow." Emerged, more like. "So maybe a little," he confesses. He nods quick, though, in deviating from explanation for the second bout of travel before heading back south. "Right. Guess we got sidetracked, just a touch. Take a seat, and I'll follow."


Chloe lets out a sound that teeters somewhere between a short laugh and a quiet coo, a little titter of appreciation for that clever line about handshakes, none too subtle evidence of a high school crush bubbling back up out of nowhere. At least there's some reasonable footing for it in the present, this new look, his wit and cofidence. How strange he is. "Somehow?" That word always comes with a story. Except the werewolf is imagining something more like a drug-fueled bus tour that ended weirdly rather than fairy tale abduction and unanticipated spacial displacement. She takes a step back to plop down where she had been, abandoned beer still waiting for her, but she turns a little to pat the cushions right beside her, inviting him close despite the cattycorner seat on the next couch over that might make for just as comfortable conversation. "I feel like we've got a lot of sidetracks we could get lost down, and I'm alright following all of 'em, but I really do need to change my living situation. Current place is going back up for rent next month, and they want me out ASAP, and I really don't wanna end up back home, not that spending a little time with Simon--" Her younger brother, by several years, likely in his mid-teens by now. "--wouldn't be great, but, nngh." There's a lot of weight in that sound, a lot of tangled emotion she can't readily articulate. "Can I tell you something weird?"


There's a quality of coming out of a daydream, partway into a conversation - trying to suss out what's been said, without giving on that something has been missed. Had Reed noticed the way she looked at him - is it different from how she had in the past? Or the way that quiet coo brings his attention to her lips. He'd dreamt a lot. Missed what was right in front of him, for his absence. "Let's just say Ipswich, Mass wasn't on the tour map. But I got to bounce over to Boston and NYC." He doesn't say 'so it wasn't all bad'. He lived a nightmare and came back haunted. He takes a sip as Chloe takes a seat, finally tasting the sour he'd bought with crumpled currency. And he follows the indication to sit, to settle in, dropping gently onto the cushion right beside her with just a little bounce on the inviting comfort; though there's not much to him to cause an impact beyond that. His elbow bumps her arm as he settles, knee touches hers before he draws it against his own opposite, instead, as he leans back. "We'll circle back," he promises - offering time, at some point, for sidetracks. Time is tricky, for vaguely dreamt years away where none passed at all. When Simon is mentioned, he had to do the calculus, to find that he should expect him to be anywhere but still at home. "I'd rather not head back there, either." Home, he means, without giving it that word. Distant in tone, for just a moment. Bright at the diversion. "Weird is kind of my jam. Go for it."


Ipswich sounds positively Lovecraftian, the name noted, filed away with all the other definitely spooky details she's picking up about this iteration of Des under a new name, a collection of sidetracks to circle back on. For now, Chloe considers those brief moments of contact, the relaxed withdraw, the polite containment of his body on its appropriated cushion. His willingness to follow her tangent shooting off from that mutual agreement to not go back home. Brown eyes find green, and she explains, "Somebody told me this was gonna happen. Yesterday. Took my blood, mixed it with his and some ash in a broken beer bottle in the middle of this dive bar right up the road and told me he saw a vision of someone deep down in a grave with all these jeweled bugs with people-faces climbing over 'em and into their mouth, changing them from the inside out, that it meant I was gonna meet somebody from my past, changed. Different. And..." She gestures to him as she smiles wide, brows arched, like she's impressed with how damned well he fits that bill. Some of that humor dies down as she leans in to murmur, "You get that I can see how different you are, right?" in a way that might sound like total romcom flirtation to anyone else, to anyone who doesn't know just how very profoundly different Reed is. She tries to flash a reassuring smile. It might be more convincing from somebody who doesn't give off might-pounce-any-second-now vibes.


A stone's throw from the fictional Innsmouth. Did the edge of a tattoo just move, at Reed's wrist? Slithering back up, beneath the sleeve? It's hard to tell. Everything stills under direct attention, most of the time - watched depictions or the macabre becoming still at anything more than peripheral vision. Maybe it's a prediction of portents, when he meets Chloe's eyes and recognizes just how close that they're sitting to one another before the shared weirdness snags him. He listens, and as he does, the condensation on the glass around his fingers starts to look frosty - and though that condition doesn't stick, proving merely illusory, the chill of his mantle returns. Crypt walls. A cage for a siren - the company of those who failed to entertain, in either music or suffering; tastes of both he came to know well. This time, he shivers. But he keeps the negative squirreled away, jarred. It just takes a concentrated effort not to see his own reflection, invaded from within by change in a grave. No smooth transition into a quip, just a grinding processor of a mind, equating what or what not a member or the Silent Court should or shouldn't be silent about. But the occult was there even before he was Lost - written into the music. Short delay followed by, "Sounds like an urban haruspex - all blood and ash, no animal guts." Familiar with a depth of lore, he stays away from his own entry in the unwritten bestiary. "I had a hunch - sometime around when I felt a hunter's spirit in you. Thought you might have some sense of me," he admits, in turn, for what she can see; the different on and in him. "But I figured I should wait and see." Hardly apologetic for playing the game, sussing out what is or isn't sensed about what the other is - but there's an edge of it, in his tone, for having had to be sure. "Met many like me?" he asks, and takes another sip, watching Chloe curiously over the edge of the glass.


"Way more low-key," Chloe half-laughs of the parallel Reed draws between rituals. Less blood and no guts, but way more palatable for the bar crowd. And a bit more personal, to be sure, her blood mingling with that of a stranger to pull questions from the darkness on the other side of his bloodshot eyes. And here's her answer, sitting right next to her. She smiles, low-lashed and warm, when he acknowledges her own change. "I've never met anyone like you before," she croons sweetly, knocking her knee into his. She holds that flirtatious smile for a couple of seconds, a more serious answer following when it drops. "But no. Not really. Seen some unfamiliar strangeness around, and then a whole new group got welcomed into the Accords in June, but I've been busy with my own stuff, trying to get my shit together. Trying to balance all the things that I want with all the none-of-it I have right now." Well. That was an unintentionally grim turn to take. She flashes a smile that reads sorry about that realness then moves on to explain, "I kinda expected to find someone more like me, if I'm being honest. That someone who changed. Not that I'm disappointed. Especially if the idea of a little blood-driven divination doesn't creep you out. Just..." Not sure what it means, that the particular question she asked would be answered with him, with a changeling and not a wolf. She shakes her head and changes the subject, wondering, "What're you looking for in a roommate?"


"Sometimes low key is just what works," Reed quips - more absently, an aside from the subject matter that has his curiosity. That has those newly bright green eyes looking sidelong at Chloe from the close proximity of his couch-perch. What they are, mutually - whether or not that's mutually new. But he huffs a chuckle that he can't quite help at the crooning, and his face lights up in that rare way that once assured that Reed (or rather, Des) existed in the realms of reality, if only for a moment. The whites of his teeth making an appearance as his cheeks round at the cheekbones. He bumps his knee back against hers, but it stays in contact rather than retreats. "Call me a rarity - I'm a diamond in the rough who likes it that way," he says, blending lyrics from a few places and carefully speaking them; like his singing voice is something more dangerous, more consciously deployed. "I've only been here long enough to sign," he says, to the Accord, further confirming the nature of strangeness. "And my kind is the recently welcomed," he further qualifies. No concern for the realness. His voice is kept low. He looks about. He's careful, but that doesn't hurt the brightness of his expression any. Muted negative emotions, rather than a true poker face, perhaps - aspects of Winter in the works, subtly. "Blood and sorcery. It's kind of my other-other jam," he quips, in reply, before skipping ahead to the mundane. "Honestly. I was hoping for some kind of small time crook or a partier - maybe a pagan - someone who won't ask questions about weirdness if I didn't ask about theirs. Even if curiosity might not keep me honest, there."


Contact kept, Chloe leans into it, a gentle weight applied to that collision point to mark her acknowledgement, to let him know she sees what he did there. And that she likes it. The twist on a few lyrical references, the cadence to the unsung words, earns a laugh, an airy bark that might get bubbled as a 'ha!' were this a comic book. Even with that foray into gloomier gravity, she maintains an effortless effervescence that might be at least partly to his credit, an expression of excitement at these shared revelations, divergent paths which lead to this mutual destination. Blood and sorcery. "You got yourself a pagan," she promises, "but that means I might get particular about the sorta place we pick. If we go in on this together. A good patch of yard, if we can manage. Or something nearer the edge of the city. Shoved up against something wilder." More direct in that request than she might have been if he weren't so clear in his own preferences. "I'm not as concerned about privacy. If people can't figure out what sorta shit I get up to by just looking at me, that's on them." Nevermind the shapeshifting, hunting, spirit-work weirdness. She probably just means the witchy shit. Right? "And you have definitely got me curious about what sorta shit you get up to. Are you a dance naked under the moonlight kinda guy, Des?" She might remember to call him Reed eventually.


A distant point, absent minded and outwardly bound, in a grade school past - closer by fated encounter, returned close to those same shores but not to where he left from. This Des that goes by Reed, attentive, reactive; knee to knee, and a welcome lean against his light elfen frame. He wasn't an athlete of the usual stripe, in school. He participated in a swim team outside of what the school had on offer. He participated in band as well as another junior symphony, outside a wealth of tutoring. And he maintained a certain popularity despite his uneven engagement. But he's always been pretty. And before he gave up the relative abundance of his familial wealth for siphoning gasoline on the road, he was moneyed. Aloof enough to be a crush among those egged on by an urge for him to return affections, to capture his attention as he looked outward, like a grounded sailor on the shore wishing for a ship in the harbour to take him. But now, he's here, wholly, if only for a stretch - life behind his eyes qualifying that Chloe has his nearly undivided attention as he puts a taste like blackforest cake to his lips in the form of that cherry sour. An upward tilt of his smile, at the promise of a pagan within who already has captivated him upon remeeting - each of them changed in more ways than one. Actualized - and yet, on the part of Reed, absent something. Missing a part of himself. A winter, represssing the negative, blending even as he stands out, partly unknown for the veil internal. "I'm good with either. Of course, the latter would be my preference - wild and urban. But failing that, no problem with the former. Sometimes I'm easy," he says, with a tease to the tone of that last sentence. "I imagine people just assume 'bylaw liability' when they consider me for roommate. Noise. Though, I should say 'would just assume'. You're the first person I've met with, since I put out the ad." Fate is funny that way. He tilts his head with a smirk at that last question, apparently not at all bothered by the statement of his name thusly. Concession. "If the grimoire says to - who am I to question ancient wisdom?"


Chloe leans into that tease with a widening grin that assures she sees what he did there, too, and she just might take it as invitation. A dangerous sort of snack, this blast from the past, this distant daydreamy dream brought front and center and knee-touching close, that held contact far more comfortable than the awkward handshake that kicked things off. How many times had she fantasized about making out with Desmond Jiang before he was inked up and edgy, before he jumped from classical to punk? How well might he live up to those imaginings now that the bar has shot up even higher in light of more recent developments, more immediate chemistry? When did she start leaning in like that? "You're not my first," an admission laced with dark humor, with the weight of several way more boring meetings behind her. All the more reason to be surprised at this serendipitous resolution of minor prophecy. Certain they can circle back to questions of where and when and what old books might say about their upcoming rituals, she asks directly, "Would you like to be my last?" Ready to commit.


There are things that Reed represses. Stuff absent from the range of what can be gauged, hidden beneath a cipher mystically enchanted to sneak beneath emotional radar. But there's nothing to hide the heart that beats within a narrow, Elfen chest when Chloe widens her grin - the way it picks up, teasing the fight or flight of a Lost in the presence of the hungry spirit of a wolf beside him. The less instinctually, but still hardwired tastes that add to it and the excitement of that dynamic at the dark humored admission, and the forwardness of that final, direct question; as related to matters of rooming as it may be. Confidence. Assertion. His shoulders subtly move with shallower breathing in this direct of proximity, looking eye to eye, with a glance to lips flavoured by a blonde ale contrast to the sour in hand and then a smile. "If there are important matter elsewise to discuss before I say yes, they're not visiting me at the moment. In other words, fuck yeah."


So many delicious details to drink in, so many signals shouting pounce in the predator's green-tressed head. Chloe's lips part when he glances their way, a tease of tongue before teeth catch over that lower tier, pinning her smile midway as it widens for his agreement. The urge to go in for a celebratory kiss is suppressed, shoved back behind a conscious awareness of certain facts: public space; beer in the way; could cause a scene by making him spill his beer in a public space by pinning him to the couch. Maybe she'll wonder what could've been later. For now, she leans back, turns to the side to pluck up her own half-empty drink and brings it up to toast. Cuz rituals are important, even little ones like this. "Fuck yeah." What else needs to be said? Once glasses clink, she takes a long swig, upper lip cleaned beneath lower as the glass comes back down. "Somewhere on the edge of town then, up against the wilderness. Where nobody's gonna mind whatever noise we make too much. What's your budget? Cuz mine's pretty..." She sets her empty hand flat and gives it a wobble. "...right now. Enough, but barely." Not enough to support her getting ink and looking cute lifestyle, to be sure.


A breeze, cool, from out of nowhere. It's brief, but it seems to pick up and drift away timed to an intake and exhale of a breath. A mantle that flares to smell of not just pine needles and woodsmoke in winter, but of citrus fruits of the season - like orange and pomegranate. Mingling with the blackforest cake of sour cherry on his lips, it's a sensory overload as Reed is cooled by his nature. He brings his glass to hers as he continues to smile and as his heart continues an above average pace, treating this moment of agreement and finality with an air of the momentous, even as his posture seems to be rather relaxed. Fuck yeah. It's not an oath, but it is a verbal signature, entering into what lies ahead with excitement; and curiosity, given how little they know as to what one another are, to be accorded and changed. "Same," he says, with a sigh for effect, on budget. "I have some saved - I expect, enough for half of first month's and a deposit if the price is right. But I need to start making money, quick."


"I can think of several things I'd pay you to do if I had the disposable income," Chloe quips without thinking. She held back on the pouncing. The thoughts have gotta get out somehow. Just in case her grin says nothing but lascivious things, she clarifies, "Serenades, for sure. Laundry so I don't gotta. Ooh! Do you know how to bake cookies?" She nudges the knee snugged up against hers, an easy affection to cushion any perceived teasing in her brief list of potentially pay-worthy domestic tasks. Another sip of her beer, more modest this time, and the glass goes back down, nearly behind her by the time she shifts in her seat, turning to face Reed a bit more directly. Without thinking, she sneaks her hand up around his nearer arm, snagging just above his elbow. "Kinda excited now. This whole needing to move thing felt like a slog the last few weeks. Now? More like an adventure."


"I can operate entirely on IOU's - it's the economy of the touring nobodies," Reed quips right back. And, as smoothly, adds, "Though I'm afraid I never picked up much in the way of baking. Too much of a tooth for take out and street food." Almost apologetic - but grateful, all at once. Not much means for sugar cookies. But it's all he rules out, of the listed and unstated. A nudged knee rubs against the other in answer and welcome. He takes a sip as Chloe's glass descends to the table, and then he leans forward to join his to hers - sitting, still somehow with as much condensation as when he'd arrived with it, beside her own. Her hand sneaks around his arm - lithe, affecting the elfen and the touring punk rocker living hand to mouth, all at once like a product of an urban fantasy novel on the paperback best sellers shelf in a section for the romanticly inclined. "Don't think it could have gone smoother - or better," he agrees, settling back. At once grateful for and troubled by the notion of the predestined; soothed by its gifts, and uneasy by paths set out for him by the unseen force of the universe. The latter gets shelved as he settles back into the couch with his arm in Chloe's hand.


Shoulder shoved against the back of the couch and fingers caught on Reed's arm, it's all too easy for Chloe to tilt into his personal space even more than that alignment of legs already allows, to breathe in that mingling of winter citrus and sour cherry, the crisp pine and warm smoke of what might be an unfamiliar cologne. "Definitely looking like the best of all possible outcomes," she agrees, though her tone is distracted, like her thoughts are elsewhere, further demonstrated by the swift pivot as she continues. "But I wanna be clear about something. So we're both on the same page." Her warm brown eyes search his too-green gaze to make sure he's paying attention, right there with her despite his historic penchant for drifting inward. "You keep flirting with me like that, and I'mma act on it. And fast. I dunno how that'll affect our living situation, and I'm not sure I care. Not sure I care about much of anything but what you might taste like right now, if I'm being honest."


Relaxed, reclining, despite what his heart rate might otherwise say, or the light flush of his cheeks as Chloe pivots in against and toward him, with his arm in her hand, legs aligning just so as he welcomes the lean, the light pressure of her form to his as they drink eachother in - as abundance of scent gives depths to inhale, and as he absently nods in agreement, mutually sharing in where thoughts begin to drift. He meets the pivot of her eyes. His own were brown, once - now wild and green, verdant like the glades that his pointed ears claim to be home, even if the gravedirt beneath his nails better depict where he was kept. The captivity within his memories, a crypt, alone until ability bore the undead fruit of company; still far better than where many of those memories take him, a vacation and reprieve. It's a split second to repress this, when he recognizes that his eyes are no longer what they were, hardly half a hearbeat, not at all taking from the moment. "That you're the sort to act on what you want," Reed answers, softly. "Assures me that I don't want to make a single fucking effort to dissuade you."


The sort of green Chloe could get lost in. The sort of green she smells of. Wild and wondrous and wicked. Not entirely fresh or wholly pleasant, a little undercurrent of funk rooting her in reality. She is not a fairytale creature, no matter what pretty little lie her woodsy perfume might try to tell, all spanish moss and cypress and wildflowers. He says go, and she nods, a quiet, "Alright," and a squeeze of his arm the only other forewarning he gets before the rest of the distance between them disappears. She pulls as she leans, encouraging him closer as her hand comes up to cup his cheek, to aid in those efforts, connecting somewhere around the same time that her lips find his, bitter and grassy citrus mingling with sweet-tart cherry for a few wonderfully indulgent seconds. The kiss breaks with a laugh, with a suckle of her lower lip and the continued imposition of her body so very close to his. "That alright?"


A verdant forest runs deep behind those eyes - the wicked tangled into brambles, promising, along with his answer to her stated warning, that there are depths to the wonderously wild. The nature of her perfume inhaled alongside the mingling scents of mantle and beer. Alright. An uptick to one end of his smile, to think that should mean them at an accord for where they stand. Not quite prepared for the immediate. Her lips snagging his, his answering hers, sealing as his eyes half-hood. As he pivots just a little into the kiss, in toward her given that they sit sidelong on the couch with one another. His thigh brushing hers. His arm, kept by the one hand as she cups the too-soft skin of that fairytale cheek as damp tastes are traded with a suckle. His opposite hand settles on her knee and keeps it to his own. When they part, the half-hooded gaze remains, joined by a smirk that answers laugh and question. The layers of clothes between them as bodies press and don't quite relent along with the break. "More than," Reed assures.


"Good," prompt with promise, threat. There will be more. Even a little right now as Chloe claims a quick, triumphant peck before letting Reed go. Mostly. The hand on his arm keeps its hold, curling higher as she sinks back in her seat a little more properly, her hold decidedly more possessive as shoulder sets against shoulder, like something's been decided. "Feel better. Now that that's out of my system. Not that I couldn't go for a whole lot more, but." She flashes a grin and assures, "I'm less distracted now." Now that she knows what he tastes like. Now that she knows there will be more in the future. Now that she can think about anything except her squealing, excited inner-school-girl who might've been flipping out a little at being so close to a long-ago crush. Curiously, she wonders, "Where are you staying now? I've got a cow... uh..." Hold for mental calculations. "Big enough bed? Couch. Also a couch. If you need. Until we find a new place or I get kicked out. Whichever comes first."


Promise or threat - or, rather, both, seems to excite and bring alive those bright green eyes, eyelids lifting from the lustfully hooded to the eagerness of promise. Apparently all too pleased with this drive, this assertion, how it skews his own smile toward the amused - motivated to see where further steps take them both, under her direction. How deep the draw of breath is that fills his lungs and swells that narrow chest, when that hold gets more possessive and shoulder meets shoulder when the fight or flight of the Lost goes pleasantly awry. "Out of your system?" Reed asks. "How long has that temptation been lurking? Since you saw me walk in the door?" It's half-tease. He's noticed what he once missed - overlooked - seeing the edges of the crush, if not merely thought to be newfound, alongside this hungry spirit and confidence. He lifts one expressive brow and lowers the other at the notion of a cow-uh-ouch. "Hostel," he says, with a waiver of his hand, lifted from her knee; delicate fingers, precisely instrumental, marred only by guitar pick callouses. A scrunch of his face along with it. "Kinda sketch. Everything going on. And eating into my funds a little," he explains. "Whichever you're comfier to have me on - and whichever's comfiest." If the double entendre is meant, it doesn't show in his expression. An easy tease, perhaps.


"Mm," isn't quite confirmation on its own, but Chloe nods to sell it. "Since the casual drop of haruspex into conversation with someone you're looking to split bills with. Since I caught a glimpse of the new ink, the new... eyes." That exhilerating green, such a draw for a woodsy witch like her. "Since I first saw you play solo in the eighth grade talent show." Her smile skews wry as if to ask how he could possibly have missed that, how significant that moment was for more than just him. Her fingers squeeze at his slender arm and its too many layers, a passing thought of how hot he must be under all those clothes straying away from concern for his physical well-being and into consideration of the same rather quickly. "Oh, I can have you on both," she assures without missing a beat, "but which is comfiest is probably a matter of how well the AC's keeping up with the heat on any given night. Not that it seems to bother you much?"


"My lingo, interests, and what you've only had so much as a glimpse of, so far," Reed weighs - playing along, with a tease to the way he smiles so brightly and nods along, ever so slightly crooked with amusement. Just short of saying 'sure'. But the smile levels out, becomes broad as his gaze somehow softens into something approaching a greater depth of emotion. His solo in eighth grade. The impression left. A crush. If there's something nearing to regret or guilt in having been so outwardly focused, in gets filtered into that Winter container at his core. What remains is pride, and a sudden swell of affectionate attraction for the one who took eight years to confess an interest. "I still play. Solos. Duets. I'm flexible," he teases, there, as fingers squeeze. A huff of a a chuckle, respect for what she assures without missing a beat. He pulls his bottom lip in behind his front teeth a moment, tasting - each of their brews damp upon it. "Usually, not a problem. But even I'm not dealing with this recent heat well. Safe in the shade, where the AC can hit me."


"Yeah, we're gonna test that," Chloe assures of Reed's flexibility, easily moving past that admission of a long-held crush only now realized. Everything was different then. They were different then. None of that mattered until now. And she really likes how now's turning out. Especially that, right there, the thing he's doing with his teeth and lips that isn't at all out of the ordinary and still stops her short, a second or two spent staring, until he's talking again. "We'll figure it out." The look down over his form suggests that maybe getting him out of all those clothes might help, but for now, her thoughts shoot elsewhere. "What I need to figure out now is the second half of the stranger's divination. Said something about tangled webs and shadows, like a tree thick with spiders deep in the bayou. Some tangled up spirit problem, maybe? Or some middle-of-nowhere somewhere for us to rent?" Brows pitch upward as she asks, "You ever been on a hunt?"


"I said it knowing full well you'd test it," Reed quips, easily - too pleased to hear that response to flexibility from the one so close. And all too much enjoying the way he can watch as her eyes are drawn to his lips, as his teeth drag across the bottom in pulling it into his mouth for that brief taste. Will figure it out - he nods, agreeing. He has full faith - or, at least, a dept of curiosity and excitement to where they're going and just how they'll suss these things out. An adventure of its own, as the steel of Winter keeps him firmly in the present as well. Not lingering in the past, even as he feeds off of long lasting desires in a manner that doesn't involve harvest. A second half to the aforementioned divination has him look out from the couch they both sit in, checking the immediate surroundings as if checking for a clock - for the time, but mostly assuring none have drifted near. "I don't have much experience with communing with spirits - not true spirits anyway. I specialize more in the lingering dead. Ghostly things that haunt and wail." As for a hunt, he shakes his head and shrugs, for lack of a definition. "Only for secrets. Spells, forgotten things, unheard tunes. Those sorts of things. Remember the exact words of the future-delver?"


Chloe's features soften briefly at that initial admission, confirmation that she'd been baited. She shows no shame for taking the bait. To the contrary, she seems all the more enchanted with the elfen fairest for his consistent willingness to encourage her. This is going to be fun. What was that she said about not being distracted anymore? Fuck. Her fingers tighten on his arm as she refocuses on the conversation at hand. Ghosts? "Yeah? Seriously?" She looks impressed, albeit reservedly. That's not exactly what the Lost are known for, to the best of her admittedly limited knowledge. "Well, shit..." She's not looking at him anymore, gears inside her head turning, clicking, pieces falling into place.

But he asks a question. Her eyes go wide as they meet his again, as she tries to remember what Aristide said over that broken bottle with its blood and ash. "Something about, mm, silver light on the bayou carried along by muddy water through twisted roots. Lots of little streams, some slow and some quick. A clump of bald cypress trees in the middle, tangled with spider webs and hanging hearts, where the light can't get through. Can't break the shadows without getting tangled in the web. Can't pick the fruits without surrendering." Brow furrowed, she picks through the last of the memory, recalling, "Said I'd take the rushing path, but it would cost me something of myself. Which, I mean, that's the way of things, right? Everything worth having costs something, and that's what I was asking after." Did she mention that part already? "I asked what I should be hunting, how I find my people." With a shrug, she adds quietly, "And now I've found you."


Wails. Screams. "Silver light makes me think of film projectors - silver screens. Harkens to older things," Reed inputs, working stream of conscious while it's all brand new to him; fresh associations of a mind prone to strange connections and drifting thoughts. "Hearts would make me think of cypress berries. Seeds. Maybe poisoned?" He shakes his head. "Could be a deeper metaphor. A twisted coven. A family tree with its own book of shadows that won't share its secrets until you're in their web." He blinks. Dark lashes giving flashes of green in uneven morse code that would be deciphered as nonsense. An apologetic smile. "Could be spirit work, and my unknowledgable self could be talking out my ass." He watches the furrow of Chloe's brow, how it draws her forehead down, shadows her brown eyes. "It does." Cost something, he agrees. And there's wisdom in that. There's years forgotten by his body but not by his dreams. How long was he there, in what was a blink of an eye, here? On one coast, one moment - on the other, the next, to those that didn't join him. He's quiet for a moment as he considers that. Her people. The constant clicking of interests, the mutual strangeness of self - not exactly mortal, but details not entirely known by either what that makes the other. The ease of this collision. Had any, previous, been so honestly easy? "I'm glad," he admits. "Stoked, even."


Chloe doesn't look sold on the silver screen analogy, though there's a wobble of her head at the reference to age, an allowance of that interpretation of what, to her, had been very obviously moonlight, Luna's influence. What else is a werewolf meant to see in that imagery? Hearts as berries, as literal ripe red fruit earns a solid nod, eyes brightening at the mention of poison as if those details fall right in line with her reasoning. But then he digs deeper, pulls a meaning from the metaphor that she simply hadn't seen, so caught up in the literal. Her hold on Reed's arm goes slack as she slumps back a little, as her eyes unfocus, as lips part. Her eyes roll up for a moment as she continues to think, head tilting one way then the next as she runs through possibilities.

In the end, what she offers first is an oh so articulate, "Huh," but she needs a couple more seconds before she reconnects with the world out here. "I guess I figured it was spirit work," she murmurs before she seeks out his pretty green eyes again. "Like I'd make my way out into the wilderness and find myself a tangle of old cypress trees with naked limbs heavy with spider webs, some sick spirit tangled up in all of it, and that I'd find my answer there, but." Another nod, a wide-eyed smile. "I think I get it. Maybe, anyway. Looks like there might not be anything to hunt. Yet. We'll find you something tasty to cut your teeth on."


Different sources of supernatural mind - and avenues with which to see. Reed concedes on the point that he's lacking in the truly spiritual, relative to his elsewise witchy knowledge and experience communing with the lingering dead. And he concedes the point again with a shrug and nod that answers a wobble. The stream of consciousness having served its purpose in grabbing the immediately accessed thoughts from the edges of his mind. "It could very well be that still," he admits, on what Chloe had thought. "But like I said - it's not a field I have a strong basis in, yet. Spirits. Weren't many of them, that I can remember, in the other place." The other place. The words fall out with another breeze that stands in for the lack of sinking in his expression, when he stays bright, excited, and eager without any real detraction for snagging on the past. "You have a lot of faith that I won't end up being the one to get bit," he adds, as a quip, meeting smile with smile. A nudge, hip to hip.


"You're baiting me again," Chloe points out needlessly, just letting him know she knows he knows full damned well what he's saying. With a firmer press of her shoulder to his, an answer to that nudge in against her hip, she murmurs, "Trust me, gorgeous, you're gonna get bit." A quick glance down at his neck, his chest suggests she might be plotting out just where to begin. "And sure," she allows, "there's a chance there's still some literal interpretation I can take. I mean, if you wanna go search for monster swamp spiders with great big webs that blot out the moonlight dripping with heavy hearts, sure, I'm down, but..." She dips her head to press a kiss to his shoulder before unweaving her arm from his, getting ready to get up. "I really think you got it right. Not the silver screen part, I don't think, though age might be relevant. That was definitely the moon. Or me. Me, I think. Drawn to a dead and tangled tree, and likely to rush in too fast and get myself in trouble, and I feel like recognizing this should warn me off, but." She shrugs helplessly, earnest when she says, "It feels right," like maybe that's all that really matters. She trusts her gut. She knows what clicks. With a nod toward the entrance, she urges, "Let's get outta here. We can go grab your stuff, get you situated." Beat. "And maybe naked."


"I'd call it a force of habit. But maybe it's something a little newer than that," Reed admits. Not that getting a rise out of anyone is new, or tempting the assertions of others - but, very likely, baiting one with a spirit as hungry as this one. The danger of the predatory nature kenned. Excited by it coupled with a familiar places, and desires not adjacent to the truly cannibalistic (that he can sense). Though the notion that she'll be biting him seems to tag both ends of his response - the flight of prey, and the eager urge to see it through. To put himself in that comfortable, exciting danger. A smirk meets that assurance, teasing and curious. "If it's what it ends up taking, if there's more prophecy or clues to take us down that way, I'll gladly join in a boat," he promises - confirming that, no, probably not without any further reason to assume that the path ahead, he wouldn't. Smiling harder, enough to make his cheeks round at his cheekbones again for the vanity and pride in 'gorgeous'. He can't help it. It's the Fairest in him. It's the spotlight craving Nightsinger - and the musician that preceded the present form. The 'now' plan, the diversion away from such a trek seems more immediately tasteful in those green eyes as they widen. "Maybe," he repeats. Another tease on that last note as he starts to stand. Ready to go fetch his stuff and to move it. A hand offered down, if she's not still holding his arm, rising together.