Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2008 3:52 pm
Marcello and Niabheara (end of bodyswap), August 1 2008
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 28 2008, 09:12 PM
Elaine wasn't the only one who was sick of her long, thick, red hair.
The difference, however, was that Marcello was not a dedicated to keeping his host's hair in pristine condition.
Which was why, halfway through changing his shirt, when his ponytail got caught in his collar yet again, he simply took a knife and started sawing through the bottom of the ponytail.
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 28 2008, 09:17 PM
The girl, with the sort of effortless lack of concern generally only displayed by cats and lovers, stepped into the room and blinked at Marcello's activity. "Goodness," she said in a light tone, "I hope you at least dropped him a note. That's a serious social faux pas."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 28 2008, 09:22 PM
"It can't be worse from coming back from the dead," Marcello answered tiredly, as he let a little pile of russet hair fall. "Besides, it was bad enough when I had two hands. I can't manage it with one."
He turned to look at the girl, eyeing her silently for a long time, watching the way her hair lay, how her chest rose and fell when she breathed, looking at her dark, deep eyes with an expression of deep love and equal sadness. He shut his eyes, took a short breath. "Niabheara's not here," he told the girl. "Is there something you wanted?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 28 2008, 09:25 PM
"We never talk," she said kindly, as if indulging in a confidence, before she neatly hopped up onto the edge of the edge of the desk and crossed her legs, one foot ticking back and forth like a pendulum. "I'm Scarlet? The little girl in black's friend? I had to go body-borrowing for an appropriate avatar and this was the nearest thing I could find."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 28 2008, 09:29 PM
Marcello coughed. "Ah. I've heard about you," he told her, and put both hands to his eyes, covering them for a moment before looking back at her. "You know Pipkin's with us? On the ship? I was about to go see her, actually, see how she's getting on."
He tried to meet her eyes. It took him a few attempts. "I'm sorry," he said, truly apologetic. "This whole situation is-- ah, you do know I'm me and not her father, don't you?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 28 2008, 09:33 PM
"Oh, I know who you are," she replied, far too coy. "Do you know that your baby sister's been poking her nose where even angels fear to tread?" The girl went wide-eyed, blinking innocently. "Frankly, I want to talk to Pipkin, too. There is no way she could have not known where this would lead, and I mean that quite, quite literally."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 28 2008, 09:40 PM
"I heard something about it," Marcello admitted. "Niabheara told me. Is Mira in trouble?" he asked worriedly.
He took a deep breath, looking away from the girl again, his mouth wet and his throat somewhat dry.
"Where this is going, literally?" he asked. "You mean it's changing our geographic location?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 28 2008, 09:45 PM
"Well, the 'literally' bit was more in relation to 'she couldn't have not known'," Scarlet admitted, "but the seriousness is valid." She shifted her rear on the desk, crossed her legs the other way, and folded both hands atop her knee. "Don't worry your pretty little shorn head, dear. She's alive and well and bumping her way through the Seelie Courts. She'll be fine. We've all been keeping a collective eye on her."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 28 2008, 09:47 PM
Marcello swallowed. "So you're...you're letting her do this," he ventured cautiously. "You...are you going to do anything to her...hurt her? Niabheara said something about making her forget, or...something like that? What is she doing?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 28 2008, 09:52 PM
"Now now." Scarlet held out her hands, fingers spread, to calm him. "I didn't tell you we've got an eye on her just so we can decide where's the best spot to hurl the lightning bolt. We've been trying to keep her out of any real trouble. If it comes to forgetting, it's going to be just that--forgetting. She'll forget everything she's done on this little venture, and the people she's interacted with will likewise forget her. You'll forget we had this conversation about forgetting. It's all very thorough." And she gave him a sweet, reassuring smile.
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 28 2008, 09:58 PM
"But the ripples will have already been made," Marcello replied reasonably. "I would rather keep my memory intact, if you don't mind. There will be effects of her words and actions that will be too great to dissipate them all merely by erasing memories. It seems to me that might be more dangerous than letting us remember."
He gave her a cautious look. "You are far too comfortable in that body."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 28 2008, 10:06 PM
"You," she said nicely, leaning forward, "would be fucking amazed at how much we can get rid of."
She straightened back up again and smiled. "You make your own comfort," she said modestly. "For example, you look your inseam's riding up against your balls." She slithered down from the desk. "But I'll admit, I have the upper hand with this body in particular. Which is part of the reason I'm here anyway, because you two? Are fucking adorable."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 28 2008, 10:09 PM
Marcello self-consciously folded his hands over his lap. "It's not particularly easy, no," he admitted. "I haven't really seen much of her since..."
He shook his head, biting his lip as he regarded her. "You're--ah, pardon me? You're here to tell me that we're adorable? I don't mean to disappoint you, but we're not really doing this for an audience."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 28 2008, 10:16 PM
"Oh, I know, I know," she said cheerfully, "that's not what I meant. You two just give me warm squishy feelings." She squeezed up her shoulders and almost seemed to bounce. "It's sort of like having a baby sister or a little cousin who is just the most precious thing in the universe and she gets a boyfriend and if he ever breaks her heart you'll have to castrate him--not that I would ever castrate you," she assured him. "I'm just saying."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 28 2008, 10:20 PM
The young man in the older man's body straightened up a bit. "I'm not entirely sure how I'm meant to take that," he said cautiously. "I'm not going to break her heart. I love her."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 28 2008, 10:33 PM
"I know," she said again. "First love is so sweet, but it's always got this air of tragedy about it. You know that anyone's only going to be that young and sweet and idealistic for such a little while." She sighed as she leaned back against the desk again. "I'm being maudlin," she apologised. "Really, I don't mean to sound glib. I like you two. I like you."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 28 2008, 10:38 PM
"She's hardly my first love," Marcello pointed out, a bit dry. "You of all people should know that. I-- forgive me, but I'm not entirely certain what you're here about, still," he admitted, his cheeks going a bit pink in the process. "Is there a catch? I've sort of discovered that with Pipkin. There's always a catch."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 28 2008, 10:45 PM
"Did I say I was talking about you?" Scarlet replied archly. "No catch. I'm entirely catchless. Unless you want me to feed you personal information," she added, all too innocently, "but that would be an abuse of power."
She dropped out of her coquettish posture and looked back at him, level and serious. "Niabheara is special to me," she said. "You're special to her. You can see how this chain goes. I just wanted to speak to you in the flesh--so to speak."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 28 2008, 10:52 PM
Marcello raised an eyebrow. "What kind of personal information are we talking about, exactly?" he asked.
And then took a deep breath. "She's special to me, too," he told her quietly, not quite meeting her eyes. It was rather difficult to have this conversation with the object of the conversation. "And to be honest, in some ways, I'm a little relieved, since it's apparent that neither of her parents are about to have this discussion with me, and it's the first time in my life I've actually been prepared to have it. Meg doesn't count; she liked me from the first."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 28 2008, 11:02 PM
Scarlet smiled, lowered her head, and said in her throatiest voice, "What kind of personal information do you want?"
She held the pose, just long enough let the question hang in the air, not long enough to let him answer, then bounced back to her usual posture. "See?" she said. "That is so sweet. You're such a traditionalist. Parental approval and all. But you'll get nowhere there."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 28 2008, 11:07 PM
Her question sent him blushing again. "It's not as if I can use any of it while we're still in these bodies," he pointed out, a bit glum, and then gave her a wistful look. "I'll take what I can get. At least I've got Meg. And I don't like to think of it as traditional. There are plenty of girls I wouldn't give a damn what their parents thought. With her, it's different. It's going to matter. If I want to be any significant part of her life, it won't do for them to consider me a problem."
Then he shrugged haplessly. "Besides, there was always the hope I might get a proper replacement father. It's not looking too well on that front, I'm sad to say."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 28 2008, 11:16 PM
Scarlet propped both hands on her hips and rolled her eyes, smiling. "Well, if your idea of a proper father is a Machiavellian who gives good head . . . but I see your point." She sat down again, knees neatly folded. "Hey, wait, I have glamourie now, don't I? Hang on--"
The girl bit down on the tip of her tongue and closed her eyes tightly enough to crinkle her nose. After a moment, the air about her began to glow, and the glow settled on her bare arms and neck and face, turning them pale. Her figure filled out subtly, and her sharp features took on a bit of padding. When she raised her head again, all that had been girlish or alien about Niabheara's face had been stripped away, but that was all: the differences were astonishingly few, but critical.
"There," she said, and swept her hair aside in relief. "Now we can have eye contact."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 28 2008, 11:20 PM
"There was really absolutely no reason I needed to know that about my futu--" Marcello swallowed his words. "Her father," he said awkwardly, giving the girl a pleading look in the hope she wouldn't remark upon it.
And then he watched, looked over her carefully as she changed. "You're...is that what you really look like, then? Jochy told me you were identical, but..." He did meet her eyes. "You're what she's look like if she were human."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 28 2008, 11:34 PM
"Well, this is what I prefer to look like," she admitted. "And I so heard that nearly future-father-in-law bit. You are a romantic." She was so pleased that she almost seemed to hum.
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 28 2008, 11:40 PM
"Stop that," he said, almost guiltily, shrinking away slightly. "I didn't mean it. It's only that-- oh, for God's sake, you're just like your friend, aren't you? You know everything we say, I don't have to repeat things, do I?" he asked with a groan. "Look," he said, uncomfortable again. "I'm trying to be reasonable about this. I know how these things work for ladies in power. I know she's better off marrying someone who'll help secure her position."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 28 2008, 11:45 PM
"You're also looking at this as if she's human," Scarlet said, quite reasonably. "There are more implications in all this then just cute pointy-eared babies. This can't very well last forever."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 28 2008, 11:48 PM
"I'm not looking at this as if she's human," Marcello disagreed, looking suddenly ill. "I am deliberately ignoring the fact that she's not because otherwise I am not going to be able to make it through this war long enough to deal with the other implications."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 29 2008, 10:54 AM
Scarlet pursed her lips in a frown. "Hey, listen, snickerdoodle," she said frankly, most of the affectation leaving her tone, "I did not come here to have some big dramatic let's-dissect-your-love-life conversation. I know that's Sera's big thing, but I just don't. You're happy with her, she's happy with you, I'm happy for both of you--end of story."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 29 2008, 01:46 PM
"Then don't bring it up," Marcello snapped, eyes shimmering briefly with rage that well outspoke the gravity of the situation. "You don't want to talk about it, you don't bring it up." He snarled as he rose from his seat, newly-cut hair flapping in his face as he approached the girl, stalking her like a wild animal. "I have given up everything I have to live chaste as a monk for that girl, only to find out there's no future for us."
"And still I don't complain. So if you don't want to talk about it, then don't say it." He changed slowly, the glamour affecting him bit by bit until the man who stood there was him, and not Neely, but there was still a strange sharpness to him that was not part of his natural appearance. "What the hell did you come here for?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 29 2008, 02:05 PM
Scarlet straightened up and met his glare with arms akimbo, feet braced, chin thrust forward. "Hey, hey, you settle. You're upset, it's understandable, but you do not do this big-prick growling all-up-in-your-face thing with me, got it? I am on her goddamn side, which means I am also on your goddamn side, but don't push me."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 29 2008, 04:33 PM
His eyes glinted again, and an ugly, un-Marcello-like sneer twisted his lips. He reached for her chin, forking two fingers around it and held it delicately. "Oh," he said softly, a rumble still in the back of his throat, as he stepped even nearer. "I think we both know you'd like me to push you."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 29 2008, 04:42 PM
Scarlet backed away, still looking more annoyed than concerned. "Oh no, you don't. I gotta put up with two hornball demons, the Ganconner, the fucking creepy-ass baby-balling King of the Faerie, just about every other goddamn person on this ship, Jochy--I am not going to put up with you just because you've suddenly got a rampaging case of magical elf-cock."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 29 2008, 04:52 PM
Marcello gritted his teeth, raising a hand as if he were going to smack the girl-- and coming near to it, too, before he lowered it slowly, with what appeared to be an exquisitely profound amount of control, from the look on his face and the forced motion of his arm. "I have asked you," he said slowly, coldly, "what you are here for. Multiple times. So far, I only know any number of things you are not here for. You want to talk, pick a subject. You have a question, ask it. I am not a curiosity to be idly stared at."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 29 2008, 05:00 PM
Scarlet didn't flinch at the raised hand--either supremely confident or extremely arrogant. "Fine. Questions. You know your baby sister's been talking to Titania?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 29 2008, 05:07 PM
And suddenly all the fierceness went out of him, and he stood back, weak, eyes wide and worried. "Niabheara said she was afraid for her," he said quietly. "She thought she was turning into--"
He dropped back onto the bed, looking hurt and anguished, jabbing his thumb into his un-bandaged palm. "I'm sorry," he said quietly. "I didn't mean it. I-- no, I don't know anything about that."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 29 2008, 05:16 PM
Scarlet indulged in a roll of the eyes as the man backed off. "Thank you." She was, however, not about to pursue him. "She's not," she said in a more sympathetic tone. "She's found a nifty new toy she can use to get answers. I don't doubt she's going to come back of it a little bit altered--you might have to put up with her being all Mystic Guru--but the glow of enlightenment usually wears off as soon as you realise you still have to hew wood and haul water. I think she's okay. Like I said, we're keeping an eye on her. And unlike some people, I don't have any problems with interfering if she gets in trouble."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 29 2008, 05:26 PM
"Are we talking about her replacement?" Marcello asked. "Or other aspects? I...look, I admit that I still don't entirely understand all this," he said quietly. "Blue was doing something in Cecilia and try as I might, I couldn't solve the riddle or sort anything out. She-- Pipkin, Sera, whatever we're meant to call her-- I consider her a friend. If she'd been an ordinary person, I don't know; I very well might have been head over heels for her and not Niabheara. But she's not, and I understand about half of what she does, but not why. I'm worried about my sister, and I don't know whether I'm relieved or more concerned to hear that you'd interfere. I left home because I was trying to stop having to be responsible for her, if you know what I mean?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 29 2008, 05:38 PM
Scarlet gave a breathy laugh. "If you're trying to figure out Blue, we're going to be here all damn day. But that was meant as an encouragement. I like your sis. She's cute. If things get stupid, I'll run interference for her. Ain't no thing, sweetpea."
She hoisted herself back onto the desk again--safely across the room. "And for your information, I told you the truth, right from the start. I wanted to get to know you. Niabheara's important to me. I'm just playing big-sis here."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 29 2008, 05:58 PM
Marcello nodded, and took a deep breath, eyeing the woman with somewhat less caution than before.
And then he folded his hands in front of him. "I'm not normally like this," he said, in a pained tone. "You should have gotten to know me when I was actually me. Male or female," he added wryly. "What do you want to know about me? I mean, you can see things the way Black does, can't you? You know plenty about me already. Is there something I can say or do or tell you or what?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 30 2008, 05:05 PM
"Alas, no. I am not Little Miss Fucking Omnipotence, which she just loves to rub in my face, but . . . another story, another day." She arranged herself atop the desk again. "I know enough to know you're usually not like this," she said, with all sympathy, "but you know as well as I do, there's a big difference between second-hand info and the genuine article. Would you rather I come back when you're not swamped with ganconner-hormones?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 30 2008, 05:19 PM
"Very funny," Marcello said dryly. "I can keep my elf-dick to myself. Considering that I've managed to keep it away from Niabheara, I think I can manage a conversation. Just do me a favor and don't flirt?" he requested nicely.
He frowned. "So what...do you know, then? Anything?" he asked her, giving her another long look. "Do you get to find out anything about us at all, or does it only come through her? I mean, do you know where I'm from, what I'm doing here, al of that? Or do we need to start at the beginning?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 30 2008, 05:42 PM
She gave him a wry smile. "I don't flirt. I'm like Jochy. I just have this voice where everything sounds like an innuendo. It's not deliberate. I know the basics," she said--again, in that rich, half-joshing, half-confiding tone. "The trouble being, most of what I do know comes through her--Niabheara. And so it's all sort of rosy." She smiled. "So unless you are, in fact, the kindest, most generous, funniest, most roguishly charming sex-machine in the whole wide world . . . I don't know diddly."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 30 2008, 05:44 PM
He grinned, looking a bit taken with himself. "Did she really say that?" he asked. "Because it's entirely accurate. Ah. So do you actually know what she sees? Is that how this works? I know she's sort of...an avatar for you, but I didn't quite understand it beyond the fact that you could use her body."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 30 2008, 05:49 PM
"More like . . . hm." She licked her lips thoughtfully. "She is, in her way, a tiny little fragment of me. I think I explained some of this to your sister. Quite frankly, I was created as the vampish little tawdry sex-kitten you see before you. Never quite had all that business about falling in love, being in love, being taken with one person exclusively, none of that. She gets to do all that for me. I get to absorb the experience from afar. There's more to it than that, but that's the jist."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 30 2008, 05:55 PM
Marcello raised an eyebrow. "Was that...pardon me if I'm...being too invasive...but was that what she was intended for? To have the experience so you would know what it was like?"
He smiled slightly, looking a little troubled and yet a bit pleased all at once. "I'm not sure what to think of that. Have...have I been serving well enough in my capacity?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 30 2008, 06:06 PM
"Oh for God's sake, you're not getting a grade on this, man." She smiled winsomely. "She likes you. You like her. Seriously, I am so easy to please on this point, you just don't know. You do like her, right? Course of true love running smooth?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 30 2008, 06:17 PM
Marcello grinned, "Well, apart from being very, very different in blood, we're not particularly misgraffed in years, and our friends had nothing to say about it," he retorted. "But yes. I more than like her; I adore her. I would lay down my life for her if I had to, but I'm trying very hard not to. I just want to see her happy, always happy, content, not so weighed down with strife as she is now." He sighed. "I want to give her a simpler life that she has."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 30 2008, 06:26 PM
"Is that just what you'd like to see happen," she asked, very softly, "or is it really what you want?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 30 2008, 06:34 PM
Marcello, on the verge of saying yes, frowned, questioning. "I'm not sure I understand the difference, Miss."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 30 2008, 06:44 PM
"Sweets," she said fondly, "you have love. Everything else is details."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 30 2008, 06:56 PM
Marcello gave her a helpless, wistful sort of smile. "Now you're just being vague and poetical," he warned, but not very chidingly. "Of course it's all details. Which is why I don't want it all coming around and muddling up the love. I want to be able to wake up beside her every morning, and spend our days making love and feeding each other...well, more probably me feeding her. And when we get sick of each other's company, she can go for a ride on one of her horses, and I can cook supper, and then we can fall asleep reading to each other on the carpet by the fireside. And repeat."
He looked sleepy and happy in this little daydream, and smiled at Scarlet. "If I had my way, I'd marry her," he said quietly. "I'd marry her and we'd have four or five little auburn-haired babies."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 31 2008, 03:43 PM
"Hold onto that thought, sunshine," Scarlet said. "I'm not making any promises. You're a big boy now. Nobody has to tell you that you don't get happily-ever-after, even when you get faerie princesses. But happily-sometimes is still definitely doable."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 31 2008, 03:46 PM
That made his smile a bit brighter. "That's all I'm hoping for," he answered. "It's not the happily-sometimes that bothers me, really. It's the bits that come in the in-between. The other times. I would sort of rather if they were more humdrum miseries than we have now. Stubbed toes and late taxes, not people trying to kill us."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 31 2008, 03:51 PM
"You fell in love with a dangerous lady. And a redhead, to boot. That's not something that's going to resolve itself in a hurry." She gave a wistful, fluttering sigh--the sort of sigh that required a lace fan, a verandah, and a mint julep to convey properly--and set her hands on her lap. "And you're both a little young to be making long-term plans, honestly. Seriously. Enjoy the sex. Enjoy each other's company. Take it for what it is. Don't get all wrapped up in the future."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 31 2008, 03:55 PM
"I'm twenty-seven," Marcello replied. "Everyone I know is married. Most of my friends have two or three children by now. She might be young; I'm not." He straightened up a bit. "What has her hair got to do with it?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 31 2008, 04:04 PM
"Oh nothing," she replied, with an airy wave of her hand. "We just have the reputation for being fiesty, bad-tempered nymphomaniacs in league with Satan."
She gave him a more sober look. "You're still young," she assured him. "And Niabheara? By her people's standards, she's still a larva. She hasn't even pupated yet. You both have time to become more of who you are."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 31 2008, 04:08 PM
"We don't even have redheads in Italy," Marcello pointed out. "Just a few in the north, and they've only got a reputation for burning up in the sun. It doesn't feel like it," he admitted. "Especially compared to her. She has hundreds of years; I feel like I'm letting her down. I've only got... twenty, maybe thirty that I'm guaranteed to be in good health. I could stay with her till the day I die and it would still be a flash in the pan to her."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 31 2008, 04:15 PM
"Sweets," she said kindly, "twenty, thirty, two hundred, five hundred--I don't care. It's never going to be long enough. Nobody ever gets to stay the way they want to. Love really doesn't do well in the face of consequences. The end of love is part of love. You can't have one without the other."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 31 2008, 04:21 PM
"It's not just..." Marcello shook his head. "It's enough for me. I'm worried it's not enough for her. If this were your friend, she'd be telling me that I need to talk to her about that, but I...mostly I'm thinking about these things because we only just discussed them," he explained. "As soon as you do that, all the doubts come flooding in, and then you have to slowly settle them one by one. I'm at the flooding part right now. Because before this...I was certain it wasn't possible. I was certain that at best, I'd only ever be her lover, and nothing more. That she'd have a husband and a family beside me."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 31 2008, 04:26 PM
"I think," Scarlet said delicately, "that she's telling you the way she would like things to be. You have your little happy-homelife fantasy; she's got her own. And it probably involves babies and roses and, knowing her, horses. Good love has doubts. I can't say it any better than that. Anything else and you're just deluding yourself for the happy ending, and you'll be disappointed and think you did something wrong when it doesn't pan out. You gotta build with what you're given."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 31 2008, 04:29 PM
"Oh, hers definitely involves horses," Marcello agreed. "I know that," he assured the girl. "I know it well. I'm not expecting perfect, believe me. I'm just...hoping for better than I'm expecting?" he suggested sheepishly.
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 31 2008, 04:36 PM
"Meh. It's like having an ugly baby." She flashed him a teasing grin. "You learn to love it so much that you can't even imagine what it would look like pretty."
Scarlet crossed her legs again; it seems almost unconscious with her to perch and flutter. "So. Doubts. Spill 'em."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 31 2008, 08:50 PM
Marcello raised an eyebrow. "No offense," he said, "but if I tell you doubts? Are you going to use that knowledge for good or evil? Or nothing at all? I'm not particularly...you understand why I'm worried, don't you?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 31 2008, 08:56 PM
"Oh, evil," she assured him. "In all ways evil." She rolled her eyes. "I'm not going to use it for anything! Sheesh! What do you take me fo--don't answer that," she said, raising one well-manicured hand. "It's totally optional."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 31 2008, 09:06 PM
"I did apologize," Marcello pointed out. "Just...you know my experience with Aspects. Well."
He paused for a moment, thoughtful. "Doubts. I'm not sure how well we know each other. The things we know are...they're all very personal, and deep, and sharp and hidden, they're the kinds of things you don't say to ordinary lovers, but we haven't had a chance to be ordinary. I'm a little afraid we might not get on when our lives aren't in shambles? We had a few weeks, but...a few weeks isn't the same. I'm worried that part of why she loves me is because she looks up to me and values my experience, and in a few years, that's all going to even out and she'll think I'm childish. And those sorts of worries all pale in comparison to things like being afraid we'll both be murdered in our sleep and the possibility of turning into a hobgoblin, which just aren't ordinary."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 31 2008, 09:19 PM
"It's just as likely that if things settle down, you're going to suddenly discover that she's a spoiled little rich girl with a brain the size of a chickpea and the luxury of being able to afford truth and justice," Scarlet replied, amused. "But yeah. I'm with you there. You two need a chance to play."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 31 2008, 09:27 PM
"I don't think she is," Marcello replied, sound rather sure. "The first time I had an inkling I might be interested in her as something more than a stay of execution was before any of this happens; we've has long talks about her people, and governing. She's not afraid of getting her hands dirty, of hard work. She doesn't see herself as being above anyone else. And I think she's more in love with compassion than truth and justice."
He looked quite taken, musing, looking up at the ceiling dreamily. "We might have Mudsummer, but that's not enough. We need a stretch where neither one of us is dependent on the other, where we're equals for all intents and purposes. Where we can spend hours not worrying about getting out of bed, and where we can just show each other the things we enjoy."
"Ah. Outside of bed, I meant."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 31 2008, 09:42 PM
"Outside of bed, of course," Scarlet replied, with a pop of her eyebrows that she said she believed that as far as she could throw him. "And if that time doesn't come? If, for whatever reason, it can't? Would you be okay with that?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 31 2008, 09:45 PM
Marcello grimaced. "I honestly don't know," he answered. "Being the Queensman, it's all an act. It's like her being-the-Countess. It's a persona. I can put them on and peel them off as easily as you will, but I don't want to spend my life on stage. I want to go back to being me, being who I am when it's just her and me in a room and not who she needs me to be when there are people watching us."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 31 2008, 09:58 PM
"Sweets, it's not a persona. She is the countess. She's going to be the countess for the rest of her life. Well, until she has another little countess and passes it on to that one, but still--it's a good long time." Scarlet slipped off the desk again and meandered his way. "You still have the option of being something else. Why don't you tell her that: 'I don't want to be Queensman'."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 31 2008, 10:04 PM
He looked up at her with a pained expression, brought his knees together tightly. "She's your avatar," he pointed out. "How little do you know her? I don't mean being the Countess; I mean the act she puts on for other people. That. And I want to be the Queensman, I want to help her, I want to be at her side through all of this. I just want to know there's an end to it, where we'll be able to spend afternoons reading or picking berries or just living."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 31 2008, 10:22 PM
Scarlet paused mid-saunter and put on an offended pose in the centre of the room, fist atop her cocked hip. "How little do I know her?" One could almost see little fish swim past her eyes. "Let's see. Right now she is seriously, seriously resenting that the little princess is going to flounce in and steal her claim to glory, because let's face it, no matter how much you say you don't want to be queen, the whole idea of being queen has a very glamourous aura. And not glamourous in the faerie-sense. She also has a tiny lech for that little apprentice Elaine, although she's deeply in denial about the whole thing and thus far it's only manifested in the ability to dress from the skin out with her eyes shut. You're probably lucky about that, actually--she can fall for men for their looks, but with women, it's more of a personality thing, and there's not too many girls with the sort of spirit she goes for. And she's on the verge of rationalising having sex with you on the notion that technically, neither of your bodies are blood-related. But enough about that."
She clapped her hands as if knocking dust off them. "The thing about an act," she said quietly, "is that if you do it long enough, you start to forget how to be any other way. You should know that. She's got to reconcile being a person with being a countess. You're good for her that way. Another reason I kinda like you."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 31 2008, 10:37 PM
"I imagined the bit about the princess, but I wasn't exactly certain how to bring it up," Marcello admitted. "I...before she didn't see much of a choice, she had to be Queen. It's easier then to say you don't want something when you know no one's going to call your bluff."
He mulled over the rest. "I...didn't know the second bit," he said uncomfortably. "And I would really not be comfortable with...the third bit." He smiled, a bit halfheartedly at the girl. "I don't want her to only be the Countess, all the time. I want her to be mostly her, and just the Countess when she has to be."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 31 2008, 10:52 PM
She gave him a sunny smile that squeezed up the corners of her eyes and made her look all of sixteen years old. "It's just a little lech. And it's just a little rationalisation, thank God, because I don't want to lay the divine smackdown to her rosy arse."
She gave him a more sympathetic look. "It's not an easy fix. This is still what you want?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 31 2008, 10:54 PM
Marcello hesitated. "Are you saying that in an advice-giving capacity, or in a potentially-being-able-to-fix-it capacity? I'm...all right with advice. I don't know that Niabheara or I either would be comfortable with anyone else intervening, divine or otherwise."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 31 2008, 10:59 PM
"Advice-giving capacity," she assured. "If I'm going to interfere with anything, I'll let you know first."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 31 2008, 11:07 PM
He relaxed a bit, and nodded. "Then I want her," he answered. "And I'm not going to say I want her more than any woman I've ever wanted, but I will happily admit that with the other ones, I was young and stupid. She's right. I want to stand by her, I want to watch her grow into the woman she's becoming, I want to be part of the future she wants to make. I'm willing to work for it, I'm willing to go through the hard parts. But I also want to be there when it's good and make it through to the easy parts. I want us both to be able to be happy together and just be satisfied and pleased to be in each other's company and not always worrying about what comes next. It doesn't mean I think we'll never have to worry about what comes next. I just don't want everything to be colored by the looming spectre of death or the potentiality that I'll go all fuzzy and goblinish."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 31 2008, 11:24 PM
"Then just . . . " The woman looked a little helpless. "Don't let it? Yeah, yeah, I know, easier said than done. The thing is, you're committed to this whole war--" She twirled a hand beside her temple. "--thing. You could back out, both of you. But I think suffering through her guilty conscience would put more a kibosh on your love-life than just ploughing through it and getting it done. I don't know--can you name anything specific? Just one thing, anything, that'd make this easier."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 31 2008, 11:35 PM
"My body back?" Marcello replied wryly. "I...don't want to seem like a complete lecher but those first few weeks on the ship were a lot more pleasant and I'm not discounting the power of sex as tension relief."
He shook his head. "I'm committed to the war. That worries me only in as much as the possibility of dying does in the short term. It's after the war that I start to get hung up on. If we make it. I know there are too many potentials to know what's going to happen, but even the ideal's not the ideal. The hobgoblin bit is what's troubling me most. After that, the mortality bit. I don't suppose there's much to be done for those, though, is there? Knowing what can be done about the hobgoblin bit would take a weight off my shoulders and also off her aforementioned guilty conscience, but I think your friend is going to work on that as soon as she's back to her own self. Maybe knowing Niabheara can have her Midsummer's?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 31 2008, 11:41 PM
"Complete lecher?" She laughed. "Look who you're talking to. I was seriously considering playing up my ability to affect the course of things in exchange for you letting me snog you." Her dark eyes flashed, and she cocked a bare shoulder at him. "But seriously, I think that would be almost cliche at this point, don't you? Tell you what I do know--and here I'm going to get all mysterious and Serendipity on you . . . " She raised her head up, crossed her arm, and trying to look oracular. "When the bell rings, the curse is broken."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 31 2008, 11:47 PM
"Don't tease," Marcello warned, with a pained expression. Then he shot her a rather easier smile. "I might decide to stop reigning in my Ganconner side."
Then he swallowed, tensed, so his back was straight, and looked at her sharply. "I'm not doing that again," he answered. "No. No more prophecies, no more lightning striking; it already killed Tristan."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Jul 31 2008, 11:57 PM
"And you do know all that lightning-striking business was totally because the countess is terrified of electrical storms?" She shot him an eyebrow. "Promise you. This one's a good omen."
She blinked lazily and tossed her hair back. "Told you," she said apologetically. "It's not me teasing. It's the voice. It just does things." She poked her tongue into the corner of her mouth. "And I'll admit--some of it's teasing. But for you, I only go so far."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Aug 1 2008, 12:04 AM
Marcello blinked. "Is that all that was?" he asked, his voice rising a bit. "So, what, the advice was for me to try and get cozy with her when she was frightened? That's all!?"
He shook off his agitation and gave the girl a helpless look. "And now what? I'm going to jump every time I hear a bell from now--"
He stopped. "Just to be perfectly clear, this isn't at all connected to the bell tower in Cecilia, is it?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Aug 1 2008, 12:11 AM
"Huh? Oh no. No no no no. No," she added for good measure. "Grey and I don't get along. He is the man for whom the term 'old fuddy-duddy' was originally struck. And he thinks I'm a bad influence on his daughter, who is a banana. Not that bell at all."
She crossed her arms again. "Look, I don't pretend to know what the hell Serendipity gets into her little head. I do know she was striken from the record and we got the new one, pretty much immediately after she did that little prophecy trick."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Aug 1 2008, 12:16 AM
"His daughter is a..." Marcello wondered at that for a moment, and then shook his head. "I just wanted to double-check, considering we never sorted things out there."
Then his borrowed brow furrowed and he gave Scarlet a quizzical look. "What-- but-- I've seen her plenty of times since," he pointed out. "She's been back, oh, a dozen times since then...what-- what happened to her?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Aug 1 2008, 12:24 AM
"Not literally a banana. Just sort of squashy and easily influenced." She sighed again. "This Sera is . . . sort of the same template? She has all the same memories as the last one, the same general personality. But the other one was too in love with the world. She was on the verge of becoming an active component, rather than an observer. It was easier for everyone involved to just let her go and bring in the new one."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Aug 1 2008, 12:27 AM
Marcello frowned. "So you're saying..." He held up both hands, open, palms up, as if weighing two invisible objects. "They're two different people? They look the same, and act the same, but they're..."
He eyed her, slack-jawed, for a moment. "But they're not the same? What-- what happened to her? The first one? What-- so I've been blaming the wrong person for all this?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Aug 1 2008, 12:33 AM
"Yes . . . and no." She imitated his hand gesture. "On the one hand, the current one knows every single thing the other ones did. On the other hand, the one you originally met was the one who made the mistake. So she's outski." She put down her hands. "This isn't making much sense, is it?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Aug 1 2008, 12:35 AM
"But the current one didn't actually do any of it," Marcello replied. "Ah...no, it's making sense. It's just...not making me very comfortable. What-- is something going to happen to the one we have, if she swaps back to her own self?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Aug 1 2008, 12:41 AM
"Except that she did, and she was . . . well, I'm not going to say 'punished' . . . she was de--no, 'demoted' doesn't quite cover it either." The woman frowned. "You mean Serendipity? Oh, I don't know. She's been keeping her nose squeaky-clean. Probably nothing."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Aug 1 2008, 12:45 AM
"Now I'm confused," Marcello admitted. "You said the previous Serendipity was the one who made the prophecy, and...the current one certainly orchestrated her swap with my sister," he pointed out. "And..."
He raised an eyebrow at her. "Is anything going to happen to you? For being prophetic?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Aug 1 2008, 12:50 AM
"See, now we're getting metaphysical, and I don't do metaphysics." She gave him the same impish grin, all razor-blades and candy floss. "Seriously. You are making too much of an issue of this. Only we really have to be able to tell one from the next. As far as you're concerned, you've got the genuine article, you've always had the genuine article, and even if she screws up again and gets another replacement, you've still got the genuine article."
She wrinkled her nose. "And this isn't prophetic. It just hasn't happened to you yet."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Aug 1 2008, 12:55 AM
Marcello raised an eyebrow. "So it's happened to other people?" he asked her.
Then he sighed. "It matters to me because she's my friend. The current one is. I...really only became friends with her after the whole prophecy nonsense. I don't like to think that-- what happens if she gets replaced? Happens to her, I mean?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Aug 1 2008, 12:57 AM
"Oh my God, you so fancy her!" She jigged in place and nearly squealed. "She's fine. She gets her version of happily-ever-after. Which, knowing her, probably involves baking something."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Aug 1 2008, 01:08 AM
Marcello shot the redhead a look. "We can't be friends?" he asked her irritably. He eyed her a little sullenly for a moment longer.
"Would I ever know?" he asked quietly. "Would she be anywhere anyone could reach her?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Aug 1 2008, 01:16 AM
"She's still here, if that's what you mean. She's still in this world. Somewhere. Sort of off to one side. And that one won't remember you at all." She frowned. "I think this might better be the sort of thing you ask her about."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Aug 1 2008, 01:21 AM
He nodded uncomfortably. "The sorts of things she knows about people," he asked, cautiously. "You just have to guess at? Are there things you just know, like the things you said about Niabheara? What's your job, exactly, if it doesn't usually involve this sort of thing?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Aug 1 2008, 01:24 AM
"Interpersonal relationships." She flexed her bicep. "Aphrodite Almighty. So what's it gonna take, huh? Do I gotta pull you off a horse?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Aug 1 2008, 01:27 AM
Marcello looked puzzled. "I'm sure that's meant to be a metaphor for something, but I think I got turned around somewhere. What are we talking about now? With horses? Take for what? Are we still talking about bells and hobgoblins and me and your gracious avatar?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Aug 1 2008, 01:32 AM
"Oh good grief. Of all the people to miss a reference to the Immortal Bard . . ."
Scarlet plopped both hands down on his knees and leaned across his lap, not quite kissing distance, to look him eye to eye. "'Tis but a kiss I beg; why art thou coy?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Aug 1 2008, 01:40 AM
Marcello gave her a pained look. "You can't paraphrase out of context," he objected. "If you'd said plucked or called yourself Venus--"
And then he looked down at her hands on his knees, and back up at her, and squirmed slightly, though it didn't do much to get any further away from her. "Please don't do that," he said, quiet and controlled, and slipped his hands underneath his rear so that he was sitting on them.
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Aug 1 2008, 01:47 AM
"Pluck you," she said, but removed her hands and straightened--slowly, so that he could take a good long look down her low bodice--to go back to the middle of the room. "Couldn't resist."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Aug 1 2008, 01:50 AM
"You don't get to tell me to keep my hands to myself and then do that," Marcello said uncomfortably. "It's not fair. It's her," he said pleadingly. "And I'm her father. If you want a kiss," he said, in a grudging tone, "You can come back sometime when I'm in the proper body."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Aug 1 2008, 01:55 AM
"I will take you up on that. And I'll make you eat your words." She laced her fingers together and stretched taut, rolling her head between her shoulders. "Nah, that's too much like muscling in on the little sister's man. You two have fun. If things get dull, I'll come around and give you pointers." She let go both hands and looked down at him again.
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Aug 1 2008, 01:56 AM
Marcello released his hands, and gave her a wry look. "I don't intend to need pointers for a very, very long time," he assured her cheerfully.
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Aug 1 2008, 02:00 AM
"Oh, whatever." She tossed her head to the side. "Listen, cupcake--I gotta get this body back to the other side of the ship before Elaine realises she's missing too much time and thinks the Puck conked her over the head or something? So I'll catch you around." She started to the door. "Don't do anything I wouldn't do, alrighty?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Aug 1 2008, 02:01 AM
"That's leaving me a very wide berth!" Marcello called after her.