August 25, 2015 by Lyn
We’re running with the shadows of the night,
So baby take my hand, you’ll be all right
“Hardly,” he chuckled. “There’s maybe a hundred of us here, out of six billion people. You don’t think you were chosen randomly?”
She sighed, and looked mournfully at her empty glass. ”I hate it when you do that,” she told him sadly, “when you withhold information and then act smug because I don’t know it. I..” she trailed off, thinking about what he’d said. About the giant and the vampire and the guy with tusks. ”I guess I never really thought about it.” She frowned, trying to swallow the panicky falling feeling blocking her throat.
“There’s not much I’m withholding on purpose. It just becomes second nature so quickly, it’s hard to remember how little we knew when we started. Just relax, Sheen. It’ll come. You’re ahead of the curve as it is.”
She relaxed, not having much choice in the matter. ”I wondered, for a while,” she said, more calmly than felt natural, “why nothing about me seemed freakish to anyone here. I’d gotten so used to being the strange one. The…” she chuckled dryly, amusing herself with the pun, “the fey one.”
“Yeah, the vampire doesn’t find the goth girl that weird,” he smiled. “It’s a lot to get used to, and you’ll pick it up over the course of the year. It’s just hard to try to lay everything out at once.”
It felt as if she should be a lot more upset than she was; she wondered if it would all come to hit her when she wasn’t under his sway any more. ”I kind of liked being special,” she whispered.
“Oh, hey, Sheen.” He turned to face her, looking down into her eyes with a smile. “You’re still special.” He raised a hand to her cheek gently. “You’re definitely special. Now let’s have some fun, huh?”
“Fun,” she smiled, looking around the party. ”I suppose that means another drink.” He thought she was special. Maybe that was more important than all this freak stuff. Maybe.
“Could be,” he chuckles. “You just don’t want to go too fast with that before you know everyone. C’mon, let’s meet some people.”
She set down her empty cup and followed his lead, her poise returned.
He guided them to a grey tabby cat-girl, pretty in an earthy plain way, who seemed to be attached to, or, more to the point, be the center of attachment for, Nikita, with his pouty pretty-boy lips and his Bacchus hairdo. A boy in a trenchcoat completed their trio, his hair flopping to obscure his face and his shoulders hunched to obscure the rest.
Shahin met the girl’s eyes for a moment; they both nodded, briefly and minutely, an acknowledgment that neither of them wanted to bother with a power struggle tonight. She ignored the pretty-boy out of courtesy and let her eyes linger on the shadowy one, who met her curious gaze with eyes as black and bottomless as the void.
Oh, I can play this game, she crowed to herself. She curled her lips in the tiniest smile and met his gaze steadily.
Emrys introduced them with a wave of his hand. “Shiva, Niki, Phelen. This is my girlfriend Shahin.”
“Pleased to meet you,” Shahin said politely, accepting the hand Phelen offered and letting him lift it near his lips. His skin was cold and nearly insubstantial.
“New to Addergoole this year?” Shiva asked politely. ”How do you like it so far?”
“It has its perks,” she smirked, reclaiming her hand from Phelen to squeeze Emrys’ fingers. ”But you’ve been here longer, I take it? How do you like it?”
“Oh,” Shiva echoed, with an affectionate tousle of Nikita’s vines, “it has its perks.” They shared a very girly laugh, and for a moment, if felt very good to just be talking with someone who wouldn’t immediately peg her as a freak. It felt almost like kinship.
“Shiva’s crew are good people, for the most part,” Emrys smirked.
“For the most part,” Shiva laughed. ”I shouldn’t ask which of my loved ones you’re casting aspersions on, should I?”
“Oh, individually I like you all,” he chuckled. “Some combinations are better avoided.”
“I wish I could say the same about your crew,” she smiled. ”You should move in with us, Emrys, and avoid all the foolishness.”
That suggestion seemed to displease Niki horribly; Shahin didn’t blame him one bit. Where it didn’t show, she was every bit as displeased.
Emrys just laughed, shaking his head. “Thanks, but no thanks. Besides, you don’t have a spare room anyway.”
“I’m sure we could make room,” she purred, but it seemed to be a game to her, more than any actual attempt. Shahin stayed quiet, pleased that Emrys had turned her down but not sure she trusted herself to speak politely.
“Well, if you were willing to let me Keep you…” he said with a jovial smile, clearly playing as much as she was.
“Now honey, you know that wouldn’t work,” she grinned, before Shahin’s teeth could grind too loudly. ”I’m too fond of my Kept to let him go.” She hugged Niki, squishing him against her chest, and kissed the top of his head.
“Likewise,” he grinned back, pulling Shahin a bit closer as well
His arm was comfortable and warm, but she still shared a wry grin with Niki, a mutual feeling of this is nice, but I’m still being used as a prop. Looking away from him, she surprised an assessing, curious look on Shiva’s face.
She had a hundred ways to deal with strange looks, but all of them were predicated both on the idea that she was weirder than the person looking, and on the desire to further freak out the viewer. The first was very much in question now, especially when looking at someone with cat ears, and the second… she found she wasn’t so sure she wanted to alienate her.
She discarded her stock responses, and mustered up a casual, friendly smile which, she realized with a little dismay, probably looked a great deal like the one Emrys was wearing. ”Forget the crews,” she joked; “we can all move in with me. It will be one big, happy, relatively crowded family.”
Emrys laughed boisterously at that, an unusually honest outburst of emotion, devoid of calculation. “I don’t think that’d work out so well, dear.”
She chuckled in response, glad to have made him laugh. ”You’re probably right,” she said modestly. She smiled at the grinning Shiva, sharing another, much more friendly, moment of girl-understanding.
“I think Mags is trying to flag me down,” Shiva lied. She lied well, but the twitch of her ear gave her away. ”C’mon, Niki. Good to see you, Emrys. Nice to meet you, Shahin.”
“A pleasure,” Shahin responded, smiling warmly.
That left them with Phelen, who smiled at them, showing a mouth full of darkness. “You like to pretend you’re dark, don’t you?” he sneered. “I can show you what real darkness is all about.” He held up both hands towards her, and shadows seemed to drip from his sleeves and from his fingers, pooling on the floor near her.
She tilted her head, smiling sharply at him, but there seemed to be no flesh to touch on his hands, just the oozing, gooey shadows. She took a step backwards into the shelter of Emrys’ arm, still smiling, still looking unfazed, but unwilling to touch that darkness.
“Right,” Emrys laughed. “What’s the matter emo-boy, all down on yourself because you can’t even scare the Fifths?”
“I think she’s scared,” he smirked, his shadows inching closer to Shahin’s feet. “She can’t stand the thought of the true night.”
“It’ll take more than your shadow games to scare her,” Emrys replied with a touch of pride in his voice. Nonetheless, he kept his arm around her.
She was grateful for the arm; the shadows were coming close to creeping her out. They were just wrong, creeping along the floor, closer and closer to the toes of her shoes.
Phelen laughed unkindly. “If she doesn’t want to play with the dark, she shouldn’t dress like she’s waiting for the Reaper.”
“She’ll dress how I want her to dress. Is that a problem?” Emrys tilted his head slightly, his own smile hinting at wickedness behind his smoldering eyes.
Phelen laughed shortly. “Oh, I didn’t realize the living dead girl look was your fetish. Carry on then.” He hid it well, but there was the tiniest bit of fear in his eyes, which made Shahin’s smile grow. She smiled at Emrys, suddenly very fond of the flickering flames in his eyes
“Come on, dear, let’s leave the poser to his brooding.” He steered her away, towards the tables laid out with food. As they left, she couldn’t help a last glance over her shoulder at Phelen, who, it appeared, was displeased with the results of their little chat. His shadows writhed around his feet like an angry cloud, and his glare was dark and baleful.
Shahin kissed Emrys’s cheek lightly. “Thank you,” she whispered.
He smiled warmly down at her. “That’s how it works, remember?”