Story of the Century

/ By Loxi [+Watch]

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Now that the sun was rising there was practically nothing to be done, and it was relentlessly frustrating. Kael felt his chances of getting out of here in a timely manner slipping away by the second. Arms crossed tight across his chest, the demon attempted to keep collected. Reminding himself that things weren’t all bad, at least probably not as bad as he was thinking. It was then that Gaius mentioned his friend. Kael’s eyebrow twitched ever so slightly. Bringing in another person was only going to make organizing everyone more complicated and slow them down. Sure it would be easier, but it was going to take longer.

His thin fingers tapped at the fabric of his sleeve, this tic stopped as soon as his partner mentioned the broad was a Valkyrie. Letting loose a low, barely audible groan Kael was just about ready to speak against the plan but Gaius beat him to the punch. Honestly, he couldn’t come up with a decent counter argument. The Valkyrie would be able to get closer much easier than either of them. Especially now that the loud one knew their faces. Taking but a moment to think it through, the red-eyed man let out an exasperated, “Fine,” and that was the end of it. With the new turn of events, not only was it going to take longer, but he would also have to keep an eye out for a knife coming at his back.

The timeworn complex had the same smell it always did. A scent reminiscent of old books. Somehow, even with all the spells and hexes they had on this place, no one couldn’t get rid of that musty air it had. It was almost comforting to know some things never change. With all that filling his mind, Kael hadn’t been paying much mind to the conversation between Gaius and Zenya. That was until he was pulled into it.

“She was looking for you.” And a finger was directed toward him. Already the man didn’t like the sound of this. He grew antsy as they were given direction. The feeling only grew the entire way up to the fourth floor. He had a hunch that he already knew who was going to be behind the door when he knocked.

The face matched what he had been expecting and Kael’s stomach clenched. Fuck. The taller man tried to get a word in, but the succubus ran straight over him, confirming what he was sure everyone in the room already knew. Atlas’ death was a homicide.

The woman continued shakily, “Cornelius wants yo-.” She wasn’t able to get anything else out before Kael cut in himself.

“I don’t want to hear it.” His voice was uncharacteristically commanding. A look of surprise was clear on the woman’s face. “I don’t know what he is plotting, but I don’t want to be within a hundred miles of it.” Truth be told there were only two routes of actions his brother could be planning at this point, and Kael didn’t want to be a part of either of them.

When the succubus recovered from her shock she pressed the matter further. “But, that’s,” she was cut off once again.

“Mara, enough!” His eyes darkened as he glared at her. “I am not going to listen, now I suggest you leave before you get pulled any further into this than you already have.” With that he turned to exit room 409. His gaze flashed to Gaius. He had nearly forgotten the other demon was there. Kael sighed. Now there were going to be questions. A tediously boring process he didn’t want to deal with. And for the time being he wouldn’t. Walking passed Gaius; he paused for only a moment. “Come get me when it is time to meet with your acquaintance.” With that said he returned to his room.

Kael had thought he would have a difficult time getting to sleep; however upon collapsing on his bed he was out. When he woke he was groggy and almost forgot where he was. The man didn’t dream, he seldom did and it was at times like this he was glad for that. Lord knew what sort of crazy shit would haunt his dreams with the ridiculous night he had had.

Not entirely sure what kind of time he had after waking up; Kael was quick to get ready for the night. Showering and grooming were both done quickly. It wasn’t much different from his normal routine. As he fastened his watch back to his wrist he checked the time. 5:47. Being out of the loop as to when their meeting with this Valkyrie would take place, this number meant nothing to him. With nothing left to do, he decided to take whatever time he had left to relax. It wouldn’t be till sometime after seven that Gaius came knocking on his door

Kael greeted Gaius with a nod, and closed the door softly behind himself as he emerged from his hotel room. Following after his taller counterpart, he was not happy to be meeting this Ursula person. However he kept quiet about it as they walked through the halls in mutual silence. The rendezvous point was much closer than expected, as it was in the hotel. One step into the bar and he could tell exactly who she was. As was common of the Valkyrie the woman was drop dead gorgeous, but it was the kind of beauty that made him feel sick to his stomach. When her eyes met with his, Kael made sure to smile. It was a genuine expression, but it probably came across as a pleasantry. He would continue to be civil, at least until she made any suspicious moves. That being said, Kael was going to let Gaius do the talking here.

-----

A wave of relief washed over Dahlia. She would feel much better knowing that those people from last night were reported. It was a small and probably useless consolation, but it helped her feel a little more at ease. Sometimes that was all you needed. The petite woman wrapped her arms around her friend, squeezing her lightly. “I am glad you came around, we can even leave out the part that I was on my way there last night when we tell Ross, if that helps.” Eris’ main concern was that Ross would freak out about her, so if they eliminated Dahlia from the equation it might be easier. “We just have to be sure to get the story straight between us before we go in.” She smiled softly, before letting Eris go and sitting next to her on the sofa. It was just as soon as she did this that Eris stood up.

It was then her tired friend unloaded all her worries about what they were getting themselves into. Rarely did Eris open up about this sort of thing. Dahlia chalked it up to how tired she was, but she was glad that her friend was getting it all out. “I agree; that thing is definitely strange.” It gave her the heebee jeebees as well, but the fact that it was affecting Eris this strongly was by far the spookiest thing about the artifact. “But I don’t think we can be done with it that easily. We should figure out what it is before we decide what to do.” If it really was dangerous, who knew what those guys from last night could do with it. It was better to be safe than sorry. Dahlia found herself thinking that a lot recently. She didn’t like it, not one bit.

“Also,” she continued, “I think we should take turns carrying it until then.” If it really was some crazy ancient thing it might be dangerous to be in contact it for too long. This could very well be some Harry Potter horcrux level stuff. The brunette held her hand out. The thinner gal looked at her skeptically, but Dahlia didn’t budge. She added a stern look as well, but admittedly she wasn’t all that intimidating even when she tried. Eventually the medallion ended up in her hand anyway. She slipped it into her bra. “This will also make it harder for anyone to know exactly who has it.” Her words were spoken as if she was also trying to convince herself.

Looking over Eris, she exuded exhaustion. She wanted to tell her to take a nap before they head out. Dahlia didn’t mind staying up to make sure everything was okay, but she had also just seen her slam that mug of coffee. That would unfortunately make it impossible. So instead it would be best to get everything out of the way.

“Alright, lets get started.” Standing with Eris, the two finished getting ready to go. All bundled for the chilly weather, they headed out. The plan was to first go to the police department. It was still early and she doubted the Wiccan’s shop would be open quite yet.

The closer they came to the HKPD the more agitated Eris seemed to get. Dahlia almost felt bad having suggested they come down here. Even she knew ninety-nine percent of the police force was pigs, but she wanted them to at least be on the look out for the guys who attacked Eris. Although, she doubted anything would come from it.

The 18th precinct was large, imposing, and an incredibly drab gray. Nothing about it was the least bit inviting, but that was likely intentional. The pair walked up the to the painted wooden door, hesitating only a moment before entering. The lobby was empty except for a single officer sitting behind a long counter. He appeared to be about as groggy as Eris looked earlier this morning. How did this man even make it to work? Looking back to her roommate she looked even more uncomfortable now that they had entered the building. Placing her hand on her friend’s should, she guided her to the chairs at the side of the room. “Let me handle it from here.” It looked as though Eris was about to say something but Dahlia walked off before she had the chance. Probably didn’t want to be babied, but that was too bad. The petite woman was constantly being coddled; Eris deserved to have someone fawn over her every once in a while too. So she would just have to deal with it for now.

At the counter she managed to get the half out of it cop’s attention. Dahlia inquired if Ross was around that morning. She knew he had to be; the man pretty much lived here. Thinking about it she probably could have just texted him to see, but this was business. “We need to speak with him, so if you could just let him know he has some visitors I would really appreciate it.” That at seemed to get the guy moving.

A few minutes later the blond man emerged along side the gentleman she had sent after him. She waved at him and he smiled warmly back at her. She briefing explained what was going on and directed him toward Eris. But instead of going to her, he waved her back. Dahlia looked at him as though he had two heads.

“What are you doing?” The confusion was clear in her voice.

Ross’ attention turned back to Dahlia, expression nearly as confounded as hers. “I have to call her back to take her testimony.”

“You and I both know that won’t work. As soon as you take her back there she is going to be so uncomfortable that you won’t get the whole story.” Her words were pleading. “Can’t you please do it out here, there isn’t anyone around yet, it is too early.” A subtle set of puppy dog eyes came with the request. Apparently that was enough to get what she wanted because he sighed and walked over to the sitting Eris.
  Dahlia Morgan & Kael Neu / Loxi / 2y 113d 16h 5m 47s
Gaius cursed. The sun was rising over the horizon and the cityscape would only protect them for so long before people began to move about openly in the light. He wasn't ready to leave, and an irritating compulsion bemoaned him to stay where he was to retrieve the medallion. Gaius knew better than to keep Kael waiting though, or to piss him off. Gains might have been an ancient and powerful demon, but Kael was nearly as old and powerful enough Gaius would guess they were practically an equal match. The wry wench hadn’t gone to bed making it impossible for him to sneak into her room and snatch the medallion back. With sun creeping over the horizon, he cursed; counting his losses he jumped in one fluid motion back over the railing and to the ground. He landed feet away from Kael and gave him an irritated look. Gaius was not irritated with Kael, but with the situation.
“We’re not getting anywhere with them for now, let’s regroup back at my place. I have a friend I’m thinking of calling…” Gaius paused for effect and uncertainty about how the name he was about to list would be taken. It wasn’t like this person was a favorite among most people that ran in his circle. How he had managed a friendship with them, was mind boggling enough as it was. “It’s…. Ursula Tijis.” Gaius answered when asked, who. Ursula, Valkyrie of Valhalla, ancient and spiteful, gorgeous and lethal. She looked human enough she was able to interact with them, and he had a hunch Ursula would like the bartender they stalked last night. That, and Gaius knew for the right amount Ursula’s particular skill set could be bought and paid for. Only problem was, Valkyrie were considered part of the Angelic Race, making her a natural born enemy of the Demonic. At least she wasn’t Gaius’ enemy. While he knew Kael could give him a run for his money, he didn’t have to wonder about Ursula’s skill… he knew if she wanted to she could kill him half asleep and hungover if she wanted to. She was too powerful, possessed no heart, and had been spurned from her sisterhood for unknown reasons. “Don’t get pissy with me,” Gaius pleaded, or rather growled at Kael. “She can get closer to them quicker than we can. She has better patience with Mortals anyway…” Not to mention the petite one had given him a raging hard on earlier and he did not trust himself around something so innocent. Nor did he trust himself not to slit the other one’s throat for her smart tongue.

Conceding to defeat, Gaius slipped into the shadows with Kael and both demons began their trek back to their apartment. On the outside it looked like a run down, rent-by-the-hour, motel with a sign that always read: No Vacancy. When they reached the door they entered into an outdated but opulent lobby. Rich red velvet curtains blocked all outside light, gold art deco wall mounts decorated the area. It had once been the premier hotel for mortal back in the early 1900’s, but it fell into disarray and the Covenants purchased it as a rental property. Now all manner of paranormal creature called it home. There was even a second story bar that overlooked the lobby. Currently the lobby was empty save for one lone woman standing behind the reception. She had a masculine face, born a man, but at heart and in her blood a woman. She wore her pitch black hair in vintage style, pinned up with a white flower and deep red lip stick. She even wore vintage clothing that looked like it had been stolen from Elizabeth Taylor’s private collection. This was Zenya, or that was the only name they had to call her by. She was tall with rich mocha skin, gleaming white teeth, and long acrylic nails. Zenya was a unique mortal, and one of the few mortal allies of the Paranormal community. She was a perfect deterrent for other mortals. Most if not all couldn’t handle her flare for dramatics, or her obvious transgendered features. She was too different for them… and those that did stay… were the unlucky dredge who pissed her off. She’d give them the key to a special room, and from then on their fate was sealed. They’d never check out, instead becoming dinner for the Vampiric souls that lived in the building, or the depraved succubae and incubi in need of a life force. Zenya was the most coveted and protected mortal in the world. A Friend of the Paranormal had a lot of perks.
“oooh, you boys were out late,” She teased as they crossed the lobby to the desk. Her voice was purely male, with a soft inflection to make it more feminine. “You know, I heard a bit of juicy news…” that was all it took to draw Gaius and Kael towards her desk.
“What did you hear?” Gaius asked sliding her a $20 bill. Zenya slid it back towards her and pocketed it nonchalantly.
“There was a succubus in here last night, needing a room. I was up at the bar serving when she came up. Said she was looking for you,” Zenya pointed to Kael then with a smirk. “That she had a message to deliver.”
“where is she now?” Gaius dared to ask.
“Room 409. Said she’d be waiting for you.”

Gaius glanced over to Kael and the two of them left the front desk for the elevators to the fourth floor… at least after they finished meeting this strange Succubus they could just walk back to their rooms and sleep. When they reached the door to 409, Gaius received a text from Ursula saying she’d be over at sundown to help them track down the two mortals and see what she could do about finding out what they’ve done with the medallion. She’d meet them at the second floor bar at 7:30. Gaius stood back as Kael knocked on the door, so imagine their surprise when they saw an equally familiar face staring back. The Succubus had been a favorite of Atlas’, and for some reason she looked terrified.
“Come in! Quickly,” She whispered and rushed them into her suite, where she shut the door behind them and locked her door. She looked paranoid, on edge, and like she hadn’t fed for a while.
“hey… I know you…” Gaius began, but the succubus cut him off. “You’re-“
“Atlas sent me… before he… he…” She shivered and looked away. “Was murdered…” Gaius blinked. So Atlas [i had] been murdered. That meant there was in fact a power struggle about to take place….

()

[center ~*~*~*~*~]

Eris didn’t sleep a wink. The weed didn’t even help to make her sleepy… just more paranoid about the whole incident outside her club last night. She couldn’t shake those strange eyes, or the fact she felt she was being watched all night up until the sun came up. With the sun out, Eris felt she could breathe a little better. She was sitting on the couch with her old laptop when Dahlia finally woke up. She was more than shocked to see Eris awake and instantly called her out for being up all night.
“Yeah, I couldn’t sleep,” Eris confessed. “I did some research though on this symbol. It’s Ancient Greek, and has ties to Hades and the Underworld. As for the other markings, I can’t find anything on it. I contacted a Wicca shop outside of Queens and Astoria. The woman there said she’d look at it for us, and if she couldn’t help us, she knew of someone who might be able to. I thought we could go check it out today… and I thought about what you said last night. I think we should stop by the HKPD and inform Ross about what happened last night. You’re right, I was assaulted and I need to report it.” Except Ross was the only cop Eris trusted, or else she wouldn’t even bother.

Eris had dark circles under her eyes and looked on the edge of either breaking down into hysterics and tears, or on a homicidal rampage. One couldn’t be entirely sure… Eris sat up from the couch and guzzled down the last of her black coffee and stood up. “There’s something really weird about this medallion… I’ve been getting weird vibes from it since we found it. I just want to figure this out and be done with it… and… another part of me… just wants to forget it, throw it in the Hudson and never look at it again.” It was a dark confession for Eris, for she was not the type to back down in adversity. Yet here she was, wondering if she was getting in too deep to something she should never have meddled in; but if she didn’t do it, then who would? Those missing people needed someone to find the answers for them…
  **Gaius / darien / 2y 169d 6h 5m 56s
The red-eyed man thought it would be best to accompany his cohort, as he said. With these new happenings he also wanted to get this mission out of the way as soon as possible. Whatever was going on was bad news and Kael wanted to get the hell out of dodge before things really got started. Demon power struggles were nothing to be taken lightly.

The alleyway was as uneventful as usual, and he wasn’t entirely sure what they had in the works for this, but Kael nearly had a heart attack as Gaius jumped into the air. He muttered under his breath, “for fucks sake,” hoping that this guys impatience didn’t land both of them in boiling hot water. Kael stayed staked out on the ground level for the time being. That way if the girls tried to make a break for it again they would have more than one exit covered. At least now that they were getting more desperate he didn’t feel the need to be as discrete. If he had to, he wasn’t entirely against making off with them as a trading token.

Gaze trained on his partner, Kael became curious the other man stopped at the window so suddenly. But whatever was going on up there was out of his view. His curiosity was quickly replaced with disinterest, as he was not likely to discover what was going on from where he was. However the cherry red glow of an ember caught his eye. The wryly one from earlier was still awake, and somehow carefree enough to be outside. Kael debated whether he thought she was more reckless or ballsy for the move. He decided there were probably equal parts of both to it, with a smile. Once again he found himself despondent knowing after this he wouldn’t see her again. It really was a shame.

-----

Dahlia had been taken aback by her friend’s strong reaction to her suggestion. Honestly, she knew Ross had a thing for her. Not even she was THAT blind, however she really didn’t think he would react as badly as Eris thought. A somber mood came over her as the taller woman admitted how she was more worried about Dahlia than herself. This worried her more than anything at the moment. That strange urge to protect her for no reason was going to get her friend hurt. She only hoped that she would open her eyes and realize that her life meant something as well. At the very least, Dahlia would never be the same if anything were to happen to her best friend. Especially if it were some dumb reason like putting her safety first. One of these days she was going to sit down with Eris and give her a long lecture on self-preservation, but for now she was exhausted. Knowing that there was a plan for tomorrow and that they were back in the security of their home set her at ease. At least enough so that she could fall asleep.

With a short goodnight and a hug to comfort the last of her shaking nerves, Dahlia returned to her room. Everything was just how she remembered leaving it earlier that day, a small relief for an unfounded fear that someone had somehow made it into their apartment. The woman went on with her usual routine to strip down before bed. It was more comfortable that way. There wasn’t really much of a point to having soft sheets and a fluffy blanket if you couldn’t fully enjoy them. When they first moved here, she had been worried about the window. All they had were sheer curtains over them and they pair had been too cheap to invest in new ones. But the idea that someone would be peeping in had been quelled long ago. It was impossible to see from this height, and you would have to be an absolute fool to climb up that rickety old fire escape. Honestly if there ever were a fire, she would take her chances with the flames apposed to falling to her death on that dilapidated thing.

With all of that out of the way, she crawled between the chilly fabrics. This was by far the worst part of going to bed, but she curled up tightly and pulled the blanket over her head to warm up quicker. As soon as the temperature rose enough to be comfortable, Dahlia was out like a light.

-----

While it was kind of nice to be at separate stations from Gaius and have a little time to relax without feeling like the other guy was judging him, it was also a pain not know what the plan was. He had said he wanted to get this over with but now he wasn’t moving. The target was perched right in front of him and he wasn’t doing anything. It was irritating, but it wasn’t like Kael was about to pick a fight with this guy for anything. Conceding to the fact that he was probably waiting on the chick to go to sleep, Kael dropped his guard back down and leaned against the crumbling brick wall. As he did so, he felt his phone buzz again.

Taking the device from his pocket he really hoped it wasn’t even more bad news, but he wasn’t that lucky. A number displayed on the screen as it continued to ring. He had purposely failed to put this particular person’s contact in his phone, but he knew exactly who it was. Deftly he swiped the screen forcing it to ignore the incoming call. This wasn’t something he wanted to deal with on a good day, left alone this piece of shit of a night.

The intermittent red glowing that let Kael know that the girl was still at it grew fainter and fainter as the sky began to light up. He groaned. They were running out of time. If they did anything now it would have to be quick and he didn’t like being hasty with his work. His frustration grew knowing that he would have to waste yet another day on this and likely most of the following night. That was unless they felt like going out in the daylight. He wasn’t entirely apposed to the idea, but it left a lot of room for things to go awry. And with the luck they had had anything that could go wrong, would.

-----

Dahlia woke late, as was to be expected after staying up so late. But after getting dressed and headed out to start the coffee pot again she ran into Eris. Blinking, not quite believing her eyes, the woman had a rush of words fall out of her mouth.

“Did you stay up all night?” Worry for her friends health washed over her as she looked her up and down for evidence to confirm her theory.
  Dahlia Morgan & Kael Neu / Loxi / 2y 179d 4h 14m 11s
Eris ignored to bitter cold, she kept one hand firmly on Dahlia’s arm, and the other curled tightly around the medallion in her pocket, as she all but ran home. Her steps were quick and guarded, and when they finally made it back to their building, Eris couldn’t help but check their six before entering. Even after being roughed up in that alleyway, Eris never once dropped her protective stance around her smaller cohort. Only when they were safely inside their unit did Eris finally relax and look at the clock on the microwave… 3:30 am. Eris felt guilty Dahlia was still up at this hour, and at the same time, Eris couldn’t have been more pleased. Who would have known what would have happened to her if Dahlia hadn’t shown up. Mugged? Murdered? Raped, or worse, shanghaied into Human-trafficking? She didn’t want to think about it, though her money was banking on Mugged and Murdered.
[i “It looks like we will be fine for the time being, but we should probably stick together to be sure.”] Dahlia’s words pulled Eris from the dark corners of her mind and Eris turned to pin the woman with an unreadable look. In her hands was a cup of hot tea, and Eris frowned, but it wasn’t from anything bad, just humility at the kindness Dahlia showed.
“Right,” was all she could bring herself to say at the moment, but that didn’t stem her uncertainty. It probably wouldn’t work, the one guy who had held her was stronger than he had looked.
[i “If they come around again or anything we might have to think about telling Ross…”]
“No,” Eris snapped shutting that option down real quick. “Ross can’t know about this. We’d never hear the end of it, and he’d never forgive me if I let something happen to you,” She admitted with a heavy sigh and from her bag grabbed a cigarette and walked over to the fire escape window to smoke. It was no great mystery that Ross liked Dahlia, and Eris had never bothered to hide that fact either. “I’d never forgive myself…” She admitted once again with her lips around the filter of her cigarette as she lit it up. She looked over from the window to see Dahlia still watching her from the kitchen. “What?”

[i “Either way, we need to look at that pendant again and see if we can figure anything else out. Did anyone from your work have any information?”]
“No, of course not. I’ll take it into the city tomorrow, there’s a Pagan shop. Some lady claims she’s a witch. I figure it’s a shot in the dark, but it’s better than nothing,” Eris murmured looking outside, and for a brief moment she tensed. Had she just seen a phone come alight in the darkness of their alley? She looked harder when the light went out, and for the briefest moment she caught a flash of red gleaming back like cats eyes, and then they were gone. Eris said nothing, but took a calming breath and tried to tell herself it was just a cat, a trick of the light –anything to keep her from thinking that those men had found them here, or that they were watching them. She dared not mention a word of it to Dahlia either. There was no reason to frighten her unnecessarily. Eris was certainly on edge, more so when she looked back out and saw that the shadows in the alley had changed and that what was once there was now gone. Maybe it had been a trick of the light?

[center ~*~*~*~]

Gaius couldn’t have been more pissed with how the night went. He burnt through and entire pack of Cowboy Killers… and Atlas was dead. Something was wrong, very wrong. Gaius had known Atlas for centuries, and was one of the few demons Gaius respected. This night couldn’t get any worse, except it did… by ending. That meant hiding out for the day and regrouping until night time. Gaius didn’t want to do that however, he wanted to go out into the sunlight, don a fucking ball cap and search that willowy bitch down and get the medallion back. They couldn’t do that however, it was too risky, and it was easier to blend in at night. Might as well have been a bloodsucking leech at that rate. Gone were the days he could walk outside in the sunshine, masking himself as one of the locals, but people didn’t wear large hats or cloaks anymore, and he had a problem with stupid mortals and he couldn’t run the risk of losing his temper these days. A Temper that was sorely hanging on by a thread these days. Once they had the medallion back he could take a nice vacation, maybe he’d go to Fey, convince some wood Nymphs to keep him company for a while. He knew that would never happen though. He knew as soon as he had the medallion he was going to look into the causes surrounding Atlas’ death. It was too sudden, and he was immortal which meant someone had to have killed him. Kael seemed upset by the new development as well and with no other reason to linger in the halls of HQ he set back off towards the Apartment Complex.
“I’m going back, feel free to follow, but I’m getting that medallion back. I want to know what caused Atlas’ death, and I can’t do that if I’m on this mission.”

Back in the Alley once more Gaius looked up at the windows that he knew housed the two women, he was shocked to find them still awake. With a single jump Gaius vaulted up into the air and landed silently on the railing of the fire escape. His yellow eyes peered out into the darkness. Sunrise was only hours away, and from what he could observe the women were preparing to turn down for bed. He watched the tall one from earlier leave the common room for her bedroom, and watched as the shorter girl came towards the window he hid by. Concealed in the shadows he kept his eyes riveted to the bedroom window of Eris, determined to sneak in and steal the medallion back, but something else caught his eye. He stopped when he heard the rustle of fabric and he peeked towards the window to spy inside. What he saw had his mouth going dry and his horns tingling. The petite female was stripping off her clothes. This was not the reason Gaius was here, but he found himself immensely pleased to be there. At least something good was coming out of this stake out. He watched the clothes she wore fall to the floor, and he let his eyes travel over the gentle curves of her creamy flesh. She was as pale as a pearl with hair like chocolate, and he had no idea he could be so captivated by a single human. Seeing her vulnerable with her back to him, had his blood heating and his claws curling into the brick exterior of their building. It wasn’t until she tossed her bra to the wayside did he finally force himself to look away.

Breathing heavily and with his back to the wall, he stemmed his more primal desires, and fought with himself not to look back into her room. It was then the light clicked off and against his better judgement he turned and looked back into the room to see her crawling into bed, her pert little ass in the air as she climbed in. He bit down on his lip to quiet his moan and drew blood as his fang pierced his skin. Damn, but a human should not have had that sort of power over him. Not even Mila Kunis could do that for him, and he’d once claimed she was the most beautiful mortal he’d ever laid eyes on… he was wrong, so very wrong. He realized, that the petite human inside this building was in fact the most beautiful human he’d ever laid eyes on. Not to mention, for her to deal with that petulant bitch she lived with, she had to be of a pure heart. All the more reason Gaius knew he had to stay away from her, and instead focus on the loud tall one so he could steal back the medallion. He started to sneak over to her window when it was pushed open and out she came onto the fire escape. He knew what she smoked the moment she lit the flame… The smell of Cannabis filled his lungs and he knew she must have been smoking to help her sleep. He smirked, now was his chance! She would be impaired from the herb and not likely to resist him… still, he knew he was better off waiting for her to go back inside and to fall asleep so he could search unencumbered for the medallion. Time was precious though… sunrise was coming and he’d have to return to his domain before it rose above the cityscape.
  Eris Alcone / darien / 2y 192d 8h 12m 34s
For a moment Dahlia could have swore she head a struggle going on. It had her worried. The woman picked up her already hurried pace as she called to her roommate. As she rounded the corner to the employee entrance the sounds quit cold and Eris came into her sights. Contrary to what she had been hearing, her friend was alone. An expression mixed of relief and confusion formed on her face, but it did not stay. As the tall woman picked herself up from the ground she instantly grabbed her shorter compatriot and left the shady alleyway. Her promises to explain when they arrived home kept Dahlia silent, but it also left her terrified. There were not many things that went bump in the night that would shake Eris this way. The woman was not excited to find out what it was.

Heart pounding and hands shaking the entire way, Dahlia did not loosen her arm from Eris’. When they made it back to the apartment complex, she struggled with the key to the door. Trembling hands did not make for easy unlocking. Inside, behind a dead bolted door, didn’t feel much safer. It was however warmer, which was a small comfort.

It took a while before Eris said anything. Dahlia didn’t want to push her. The pair settled in the kitchen, where she put on some water for tea. Doing something helped calm her down for the time being. It was when the kettle whistled and the shorter of the two was prepping a cup of chamomile for herself that her friend finally told her what had happened. She didn’t have much of anything to say in response at first. This was seriously dangerous though. Wracking her brain, the woman was unsure of what they should do. Something huge was going on and that medallion was their only clue, but that pair sounded like bad news to her. The only consolation in all this was that she had arrived just in time to scare them off. Those men were awful skittish for acting so tough. Dahlia wondered why that might be.

With warm cup in hand, Dahlia took in a deep breath in attempt to keep calm. “It looks like we will be fine for the time being, but we should probably stick together to be sure.” She wasn’t entirely certain if it would work, he words came out as though she was trying to convince herself they were true. There was a good chance the assailants would become restless with time. “If they come around again or anything we might have to think about telling Ross…” Dahlia wasn’t ecstatic about the idea. He would want to know details, but having an officer around might scare them off, at least long enough for her friend to get a story out of this.

“Either way, we need to look at that pendant again and see if we can figure anything else out. Did anyone from your work have any information?” Dahlia had her doubts, but it would keep her minds from the lurkers that couldn’t be far away.

-----

Kael wasn’t surprised at the retaliation. After observing this woman for the night, he would have been caught off guard had she not made such a comment. Gaius on the other hand wasn’t having any of it. His fellow demon jumped into action, taking over. The red-eyed man sighed; he had wanted to have a little more fun with this before they cut to the chase. As the mortal was being restrained, he dug through her pocket to grab the token. The calling from her friend caught his attention, distracting him ever so slightly from the task at hand. As he snapped back to what he needed to do it was too late. The other mortal came whirling around the corner and they were gone before he could grab what they’d come for. His frustration bubbled up, festering in his stomach and up his throat, but he kept quiet. There was a silent agreement between the two men and they continued silently after the ladies from the darkness.

It was back to the goddamn apartment complex and Kael thought he might lose it right then and there. It was just so fucking boring sitting around doing nothing. And now that those humans knew they were being targeted they were even less likely to come back out. He was sure there was some way they could smoke them out, but he very much doubted it would be as inconspicuous as they needed it to be.

“You know, it is the middle of the night, we could just sneak on in and get what we need.” That was what they were going to do before these two got ahold of the medallion. Not to mention they had already been seen so there wasn’t a whole lot of reason to keep out of sight now. The only thing stopping him from busting in was Gaius. The guy made him nervous. He seemed to be the type of person you didn’t want to be on bad terms with. So unless he was okay with it, that wasn’t happening either.

Before he could press the topic any further, Kael felt his phone go off in his pocket. Taking it from his well-fitted pants he had it out and unlocked in less than a second. His eyes scanned over the text briefly. It was a blanket message from the covenant.

“We have to go, there is an emergency meeting being held. Everyone’s being called in to the nearest HQ.” Just as swiftly as he removed it, Kael returned his phone to his pocket.

The building the two entered was buzzing. Questions were being flung from every direction, but there were no answers coming out of the din. The dark garbed demon was growing curious himself. It would be at least another half an hour until anything happened though. At that time, the crowd was ushered into another room. For the most part it was barren, the only thing lining the walls were two projector screens on either side of the expansive room. Once everyone was in place an image flashed upon the displays. It was a man, dressed sharply in a suit and sitting at the covenant president’s desk. He was not however the president.

A voice boomed from the sound system. “Hello, my name is Lysander Canterbury and it is with deep regret that I share this message with you tonight. As of only an hour ago, president Atlas Centistine passed away. His departure was incredibly unexpected and has left us all with heavy hearts. Until the chaos dies down and a solid plan of action comes through, I will be acting as the interim president. We ask that you all have patients as all these changes go on, thank you for your time, have a good night.”

And just like that the screens went dark again. This was all incredibly strange. As far as Kael knew the president had been in fine health. On top of that it was odd that it would be handled in such a manner. He had a bad feeling for whatever changes were on their way.
  Dahlia Morgan & Kael Neu / Loxi / 2y 165d 5h 31m 31s
Gaius didn’t care much for mortals. They were flimsy creatures, prone to sickness, injury and death… sometimes caused by their own ineptitude and stupidity. They were vulgar, loud, self-destructive, and at times embodied sin better than a Natural Born Demon. Gaius was one such Sin Demon… a wrath demon, Gaius was generally indifferent and cool… but he could go from cold to Hot as Hell in the blink of an eye, entering into a destructive Rage, the likes no one would want to see. How he’d managed to walk this realm for the past three hundred years without incident just proved how powerful he was. The better in control meant the demon was stronger. He’d managed to stay on Earth for so long by remaining in The Covenant’s good graces. The best way to think about The Covenant was like a sort of customs office. It wasn’t just demons who had to go through them to come to Earth. Angels had to, witches had to declare themselves, and magical creatures were tagged and tracked. The Covenant also made it very clear that any act that would expose the entire paranormal community was punishable by death without trial. Sure there were some Mortals who knew about the existence of Paranormal creatures, but they too were bound by the same laws. To expose a paranormal meant you could be killed.

They were currently in the middle of such an event, trying to stop it from happening. Clyatt had made a mistake trusting that young human. He’d stolen her medallion that allowed her to travel between realms, now he was missing as far as the mortals knew. Gaius knew better –the mortal brat was busy trying to survive the perils of the underworld… where Clyatt sent him when she discovered her medallion missing, and he wouldn’t tell her where it was until he got his answers. Stupid kid… did he not realize that Clyatt was an ancestor of Hades himself? Of course he didn’t… but he sure as shit did now. Gaius had no sympathy for the little thief, but without her medallion Clyatt couldn’t return to Earth to find it, so for the time being she was trapped with her would be pet in the Underworld. And they were here taking time out of their day stalking the shitty apartment complex of those two mortals they’d tailed from the boy’s house. He didn’t know who those chicks were, but they’d stuck their nose in the wrong place.

It was much to his not so obvious delight when one of them emerged from the complex around 7. The tall one with legs for days, started down the sidewalk at a quick pace. Gaius wondered if she had somewhere to be. He supposed so as he and his partner had to stop as she waltzed right into a club on a busy city street. Gaius shared a look with Kael, and put his cigarette out, before following in with a grumpy expression. They entered the club themselves and surveyed the area, while beside him Kael cursed at what he saw. The woman was behind the bar. Oh for fucks sake! They were going to be here all night!

[center ~*~*~*~]

Eris was in her element. She took multiple orders at once, served her drinks, flirted with her patrons male and female, and made sure everyone was having a good time. Meanwhile the music pounded, colorful lights flashed and drunken mortals danced and writhed against one another. Soon the huge space was heated up from all the people and smelling of alcohol and sweat. Even Eris was taking shots with her customers. She worked without taking a break, making money like it was going out of style that by the end of the night her tip jar was stuffed as full as she could get it. At last call Eris was busy cashing out her tabs and the patrons were drunkenly making their way outside where city taxies and ubers were waiting to take them home. Eris just grinned as she counted her cash at the bar before stuffing it into the lining of her jacket where she always hid her money before leaving the bar. She said goodbye to her co-workers after cleaning up the bar and restocking. By the time she left it was well near 3 am, and all the patrons were gone. The only person left was the bouncer and he walked the staff outside into the alley. Eris hot on their tail, once outside the group dispersed and Eris remained, lighting up a cigarette before she’d take off for home. She checked to make sure everyone was gone and then dug into her pocket where she knelt down behind one of the garbage bins and made soft noises. Eventually a cat poked his mangy head out and sniffed at the treats Eris brought. She dropped them on the concrete, and watched as he began to devour the food.
“That’s a good guy,” she cooed, and with a loud yawn stood up and went to leave the alleyway for home and meet up with Dahlia when she heard footsteps block her path. She stopped seeing two men, and her brow furrowed. She recognized them from the bar. They had taken a table and didn’t move the whole night. She couldn’t forget those strange red eyes, or the yellow ones. They didn’t look entirely normal to her, but definitely carried that goth vibe. The one with red eyes got closest and Eris stood her ground, still smoking her cigarette.
“Excuse me, sweetheart, I’m gonna need you to come with us.” Eris actually chuckled at that comment.
“Well [i sweetheart], I don’t think that’s going to happen,” She told him plainly. “I can tell you think it is, but it’s no- HEY!” Eris shouted angrily, her cigarette knocked from her lips as one of the men had vanished and reappeared behind her and hoisted her off the ground with his hands wrapped painfully tight around her arms.
“Shut up.” Gaius said boredly. “Give us the medallion and we’ll let you go.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?” Eris demanded kicking her legs out from under her.
“You took it from that house earlier today. We need it back…. Belongs to a friend of ours.” Eris looked back at the man with yellow eyes who held her and then looked back at the one with red eyes who was staring her down.
“I don’t have it,” she lied. From behind Eris, Gaius gave Kael a look to just grab the damn thing off of her, but this little mortal put up one hell of a fight.

Gaius was getting frustrated with her, and was about to snap her frail little neck when they both heard someone calling her name. Gaius dropped Eris in an instant and with Kael vanished into the shadows. Eris fell to the ground, and right into a nasty puddle of God only knew what, when she heard Dahlia’s voice calling out to her. Gaius and Kale watched from the shadows as Eris picked herself back up and greeted her friend.
“Hey…” Eris murmured distractedly and looking into the shadows. “WE can’t stay here, we gotta go… I’ll explain at home.” Eris commanded and turned taking Dahlia’s arm and dragging her away from the alley and at least into the open street. Not that it mattered at 3 am in the morning even for New York City there were that many people out. Gaius looked to Kael and both knew they’d tail the girls home. They were getting that medallion back no matter what. It was a special kind of medallion, and Clyatt was one of the few to possess one… whoever possessed that particular medallion could travel all the realms unencumbered by Covenant Protocol. In the wrong hands, even a mortal’s, the consequences could be dire…
  *Gaius / darien / 2y 218d 6h 55m 14s
As Eris’ voice boomed through the small apartment, Dahlia dropped what she was doing to go see her off. It was her booze jockey skills that put the thin roof above their heads. Sure Dahlia did some photography and picture editing, but it was freelance and just as unpredictable as her friend’s journalism. Honestly she should probably get a real job here soon. The idea was grim.

“Don’t let that thing die again tonight.” She teasingly lectured her friend back before watching her disappear through the doorway.

The apartment was not still, but not quiet. Dahlia could hear the neighbors chattering through the walls, the indistinct murmurs kept her company for now. The woman went back to the journal. She had taken to reading it more thoroughly this time around. Making sure she didn’t miss any details. As she was now alone, she took up the living room. Lying back on the couch beneath the standing floor lamp the lighting was better here. It also afforded her a view of their new roommate Eve. The reptile’s small beady eyes seemed to follow along wherever you went, but they were not menacing. Now Dahlia had someone to explain everything to as she went instead of talking to herself, which was somewhat disheartening. She knew having the snake around wouldn’t be so bad.

----

Standing in a nearly abandoned alleyway, Kael found himself wondering how he had gotten roped into this. He and his compatriot had been tasked with retrieving the beacon from that Goth kid’s house, but nothing ever went smoothly for him. At least not when it came to the covenant. Just as they were about to make their move some random girls blazed into the overly extravagant place and found the damn thing first. Now things were much more complicated than they needed to be and it was irritating. The man’s foot tapped incessantly against the pavement as he tried to calm down. There was nothing he detested more than boredom.

Honestly he hated this whole business, but it was just about impossible for demons to make it here without help from the covenant. He sighed; maybe it was time to move. Sure he loved the city, but the demands of the covenant’s leaders were growing. The man wasn’t sure how much longer it was going to be worth it.

Kael was pulled from his ponderings when the door to the shady apartment complex opened. For a moment his eyes filled with hope, but for the 23rd time it was dashed as a thin old man exited the building. Grumbling beneath his breath, a farm or something else in the sticks was starting to sound just fine right about now.

Just as the red-eyed man was beginning to plan his dream life in Wisconsin the chime of the door went off again. Snapping back to reality, there she was. One of the pair, but the little fool had the beacon on her. Things just took a turn for the easy. Lucky them.

Motioning for the other demon, they were on the move. It was much too crowded to make a move, but it made tailing her easy. Now that they were on the move again, things were considerably less tedious. A smile formed on his face when they came to a club. The pounding music could already be heard from inside. Flashing lights escaped every time the door opened. Stepping in there weren’t many people yet, but there was a small cluster at the bar. This included their target, but she was already on the other side of the counter.

Great, that was about the most conspicuous place she could be, however it meant the little thief would be here until late and they would have a perfect chance to nab her along with the beacon. The other human wouldn’t have to be involved at all. With that in mind, along with knowing he would be entertained for the night as they waited as well, Kael found his mood taking a turn for the better.

“This should work out just fine, don’t you think?” He nudged his temporary partner, with some of the first words to be spoken between them.

It wasn’t long before the place was wall to wall packed. Many interesting faces came and went. Kael even had a drink or two as the night went on. The stuff didn’t have a lot of effect, but it helped him to blend in a little better. Small talk with mortals also passed the time, but he kept his eye on the fiery barkeep for the most part. She looked like an awful lot of fun and cute to boot; too bad she was a tad too nosy for her own good.

By far the most exciting thing was watching the bouncers go to work on the belligerent folks. Anytime someone would start to make a scene, Kael couldn’t help but observe from a distance. It was fair to say he easily distracted and didn’t make the best lookout. On this particular night it didn’t matter though. The target wasn’t going anywhere. At least not if she wanted to be paid.

2 am came around and it was last call at this particular joint and that meant it was almost game time. Leaving the club, Kael and company came around back to the employee entrance. The girl came as of on queue, lighting a cigarette and crouching by the door. The man chuckled at her complete lack of fear in the dark backstreet. Nosy and ballsy, an entertaining but dangerous combination. It really was a shame they hadn’t met sooner.

Emerging from the well-defined shadows created by the dim streetlight, the almost innocent looking man had a smile on his face. “Excuse me, sweetheart, I’m gonna need you to come with us.”

----

Dahlia was excited to discover there was a little more information to be gleaned from the diary. The newest lead told her that Ben and Kara spent a lot of time down by the HK docks. It was all they had until they could dig up more on this girl or the pendant, so enthusiastic to text her friend. Generally she would have felt bad interrupting someone at work, but Eris’ workplace was always so lax about that sort of thing she quit caring.

[text-Eris] Hey, looks like Ben was spending a lot of time at the docks with that girl. We should check it out next.

Placing her phone and the now completely gone over book on the coffee table, she stood and got a snack out of the fridge. A job well done deserved something sweet. This time it was a pudding cup she had been saving. The butterscotch-y goodness fit the bill perfectly. Once it was gone she tossed the cup and washed her spoon. Then it was back to her phone. No reply yet, but that just meant her friend was busy at the moment. So instead of waiting around she went to her room and grabbed the novel she’d been working on.

There was a strange feeling clinging to Dahlia’s stomach. She wasn’t sure if it was the pudding or what, but as the night went on it worsened. The quiet that eventually came with the late night didn’t help. It was then she knew rather than food it was anxiety. No matter how much she tried she couldn’t manage to focus on the story on the pages in her hand. The woman didn’t know why, but she had a terrible feeling something was going to happen tonight. Taking up her phone again she frantically hit the screen.

[text-Eris] I am gonna walk home with you tonight, don’t leave without me.]

[text-Dahlia] k

It was twenty minutes till Eris got off, and she needed to leave now if she didn’t want to keep her waiting. It was a mad dash to grab her keys, wallet, and double up on jackets before Dahlia left their house. Tightly locking the door before she exited the complex.
  Dahlia Morgan & Kael Neu / Loxi / 2y 220d 3h 11m 6s
Eris brought the snake home with no problem, and she cleared out an entire area near her window to give the snake natural lighting to bask in. Eris had to admit that even she was slightly shocked she just walked out of the house with the snake.
“I’m going to find you a nice mouse to eat, just you wait,” Eris told the snake and with a proud grin she marched her way back into the kitchen area where Dahlia was eating a sandwich and looking over the contents of the liquor bag they found in the air vent. The first thing Eris noticed was the little bag of weed. “You don’t want this right?” She joked taking the bag and pocketing it while Dahlia continued to fish through the bag. Eris managed one bite of her sandwich before Dahlia tossed a metal trinket to her.
“You don’t happen to know what this is do you.” Dahlia asked handing the item to her. Eris’ brows knit together and she took it into her hands and looked it over.
“Not really,” She answered honestly, but she might know someone who did. Eris looked it over, and felt it looked more like a coin or medallion of some kind then a trinket. It couldn’t be a coin because she didn’t see where it had a currency amount listed. Medallion was a better option as it fit the criteria. It clearly resembled something, a cause of some kind, or maybe it acted as a pass into a club. Eris frowned and set it down. “I’ll ask around though. I might have a few contacts that could have an idea,” Eris told her, and went back to mowing down on her sandwich.

Dahlia mentioned Ben’s poetry as she read through his journal and Eris listened as she mentioned someone by the name of Kara Clyatt. Eris was shocked to hear that the girl didn’t have a single social media account.
“That’s weird,” Eris said simply. “Everyone has at least Facebook, or twitter. She’s got nothing?” Eris shook her head. She didn’t want to believe it. “She either doesn’t exist, or she’s dirt poor.” Eris muttered distractedly, finished with her lunch and decided to break into Ben’s stash of weed and roll a joint for herself. He clearly wasn’t using it, and he was only a kid, not even 21 yet, she’d gladly take it off his hands. She wandered over towards the windows and fire escape and moved to sit outside so the smoke wouldn’t bother Dahlia. She had pocketed the medallion and as she sat there she pulled it out to look it over again. There was a Wiccan store in the next burrow that Eris knew might be able to give her a lead to the coin, but for now with the day ending there wasn’t much more they could do. Still something about it called danger to Eris; that this was some Skull & Bones shit. She had never doubted herself a day before in her life and for the first time she found herself wondering if she really wanted to get involved in this story, and if she wanted to endanger Dahlia too. It was a funny thought, considering at one time they had both thought about traveling overseas to war torn regions to cover what was happening in those regions. Yet now she was scared over the possibility she’d stumbled upon a secret society or gang.

The design on the medallion was worn and the more Eris handled it, the more she believed it was very old and not just made to look that way. It was dented, scratched, the finish worn away, the edges were aged and dirty. There was a symbol on either face of the coin, but Eris didn’t know enough about symbols to guess what any of it could mean. Right now they had a name, but they couldn’t find her, when an idea popped into Eris’s mind. She quickly pulled out her phone and texted Ross and asked him to look and see if he couldn’t find the name Kara Clyatt anywhere.
[text-Eris] Found lead. Name is Kara Clyatt, can you look for records? No social media under that name.
It wasn’t until an hour later when she got a text back from Ross.
[text-Ross] Will look into it and let you know if I find anything.

For now that would satisfy Eris.

It was almost seven when another text came in for Eris and it caused her to jump out of bed and shout into the apartment.
“I have to work tonight!” Eris shouted to Dahlia. “Now we can make rent.” She said excitedly, but there was a cynicism to her words at the harrowing reality that they were half starved in their shitty little apartment. That they just managed to pay the rent and their bills. That if Eris didn’t bartend part time to help supplement what she made on the articles she wrote for other magazines, they’d be homeless. “I’ll be at the club if you need me!” She called quickly grabbing some black clothes and throwing them on before brushing out her hair and putting makeup on. She hurried through the apartment to get ready, still holding onto the medallion and gave Dahlia a quick hug before she left. “Remember, don’t answer the door for strangers, I will have my cell on me if you find anymore leads, or you could always visit me!” Eris told her and without another word hurried out the apartment to make some extra cash.

Eris was going to regret taking the Medallion with her… little did she know it could be tracked by two very dangerous men not of this world….
  Eris Alcone / darien / 2y 232d 8h 15m 54s
Walking up to the rather… inspired door, Dahlia was glad to have never gone through whatever phase of adolescence this was. Although with his step-mom, she didn’t blame the kid. The room was not much of a surprise after seeing the entryway. It matched. Looking about, she wasn’t entirely sure where to start. There was about a million nooks and crannies in this place, but somehow they managed to comb through the entire thing in a timely manner. Along the way, she made sure to take pictures of the scene and anything that they might want to look back on later.

When Eris tossed the bag her way, she swiftly made a place for it in her satchel. Unfortunately that was the only bit of evidence they would be finding here. It was clear that if there had been anything else of importance someone else had already nabbed it for themselves. Turning back to her friend after one final scan of the area, Dahlia shook her head. Was she really going to try and make off with the snake? She really couldn’t complain. As far as pets went it was rather low maintenance and it came with all the expensive setup so long as she could manage to walk out with it. And on top of all that, it was kinda cute.

Mrs. Sterns’ reaction was just about as dramatic as the dark-eyed girl thought it would be, but the focus was off. A normal person would be more concerned about strangers stealing several hundred dollars worth of reptile and equipment. But no, it was too ‘scary’ for her to look at. As Eris made it out the front door, Dahlia turned back to thank the woman once again for her time. It was better to keep on these people’s good side; after all they had been the only ones to allow them within 30 feet of the missing person’s room.

Once the pair had made it a fair distance from the house, Dahlia broke into laughter. “I cannot believe you. Are they even going to let us on the tube with her?” It was more rhetorical than anything. At any given moment you could find any number of things much stranger than a snake on the subway. “Do you think if we set her up in the living room people will quit barging into our house?” She really doubted it, but it might be worth a shot.

The ride home was mostly uneventful. There were a few sidelong glances at the trio, but no one said anything. Dahlia was glad for that. Although, it did give her mind a little too much time to wonder what was in the deep purple sack she was carrying. It wasn’t till they were safe and sound in their cramped apartment that she took the thing out of her pack and set it on the table. Still her curiosity would not be sated for some time as Eris busied herself setting up Eve in her new home. Until that was done, her friend would be too distracted to be productive with anything else. So instead Dahlia focused on throwing together a couple of sandwiches for them. She didn’t know about Eris, but she was half starved.

Coming back to the table, she set Eris’ sandwich on a napkin in front of the chair facing hers and waited. It wasn’t much longer till she pranced in looking well pleased with herself.
“Now that you’ve moved your new best friend in, can we get back to work?” There was a false air of hurt in her voice, but it was muffled by the food she was shoving in her mouth. Food was more important than snarky comments.

With her stomach full and hands empty, Dahlia brought the drawstring sack to herself. Pulling gently at the cinched mouth, she was slowly opened the booze bag. She wasn’t expecting a whole lot, as the bag hadn’t been very heavy. Inside there were only three items, one by one she set them on the table. First was the obligatory baggy of weed. There was about a gram there, neither shocking nor helpful in any way. Next was a booklet, small enough to fit in her hand comfortably. The kind of thing you kept to take notes on the go, but before she went any farther down that rabbit hole, a gleam of the third object caught her eye. Setting what was likely a journal to the side, Dahlia pendant from the now void container. It was either old, or made to look that way and depicted a symbol she didn’t recognize.

“You don’t happen to know what this is do you?” She held the dangling trinket out for her friend to see. While the book would likely give them all the information they needed, she was most fascinated by the bauble. Was it some new gang, or a cult of some kind? The answer was likely more mundane. The kid probably found it in some shop and wanted to freak his step-mom out with it.

Not waiting for an answer, Dahlia pulled out her phone and did a search for marks and icons that had been used throughout history by different groups. She knew it was unlikely such a shallow investigation would bear any fruit, but she had been hopeful. However, her hopes were dashed, even to just confirm it was nothing important. The medallion was still on the table as evidence as far as she could tell.

With that being a dead end for now, the notebook jumped back to her mind. Passing the pendant off to Eris for a closer look, the dark haired woman took up the little paperback once more. Thumbing through it quickly, she was surprised to see Ben had decent handwriting. That made things much easier. The second time she went through it was much slower as she scanned for anything out of the normal or linked to Hell’s Kitchen.

About half way through the journal, at least the part that was written in, the change that she was looking for occurred. Ben met a girl, Kara Clyatt. The further and further she went on the more obvious it became that this was the start of it. It talked about the pair going down to HK to hang out, but unfortunately not much detail after that. It was also at that point that poetry began to be sprinkled between entries.

“Looks like he fancied himself a poet,” she smiled as she spoke. It was all super corny, but cute at the same time. “If we can track down this friend of his, we might be able to get more information out of her. “

Switching back to her phone, Dahlia did another search. This time on social media sites for a Kara Clyatt. The name wasn’t a particularly common one so she thought this one might be successful, but no one under that name came up. The woman grew increasingly suspicious. It was rather uncommon for high schoolers to not have at least a Facebook these days.
  Dahlia Morgan / Loxi / 2y 238d 21h 43m 51s
Damn, people could be real Ass Holes. Their first encounters with members of family to the missing people were less than cooperative. Some went so far as the threaten shooting them if they so much as stepped on their front stoop. Was she still in New York? Did people in such a liberal city actually own firearms? Or was this fear that Eris could taste? She had been aptly named by her mother after the Grecian Goddess of Chaos and Discord, and while Eris was very good at leaving a wake of chaos wherever she went, she had learned the name itself had power. Eris was reaching the end of her rope, and the last house they had been too, Eris has been near desperate for answers that the mother she spoke with threatened to call the cops from behind her screen door, and was explicative causing Eris to lose her cool and nearly breaking down the screen door. If it wasn’t for Dahlia dragging her away, the cops definitely would have shown up. Whatever the deal was, this was not usual behavior for family members of a missing person. It wasn’t like they were asking around in a predominantly Puerto Rican community, Jewish, Muslim, or any other culture community within the city that kept to themselves… they were only in a poor part of town. It definitely wasn’t safe at night, but to be threatened in broad daylight? Eris almost couldn’t wrap her mind around it.

Again, thank the Goddess for Dahlia, or Eris might have gone on a rampage. No one could keep Eris from turning into a Psycho better than Dahlia. The girl just understood her, always had since day one. Eris was two cigarettes away from an empty pack, as she inhaled on a third. They were approaching the Upper East Side of the city, they weren’t terribly far away from central park, but they were a good subway ride from home. It was a stark difference from the poverty stricken burrows they’d just visited. Porsche Cayennes, Mercedes Benzs, top of the line Infinities, and BMWs drove the streets including black Lincoln Town Cars… with their own drivers. The whole block reeked of Wall Street money.
“Ugh… rich people…” Eris groaned, but after a look from Dahlia, Eris zipped her lip and fell in line with her, and put her best smile on and started up the steps to the home listed at the address given to them by Ross. They stopped though when they saw a powder blue Benz turn into a private drive, down into a Garage under the house. Eris again rolled her eyes at the car. It was such a silly concept to not only own a car while living in the city, but to OWN one and drive it in the city. In Eris’ opinion, it was rather obnoxious.

She was tall and elegant, maybe a former model… definitely a trophy wife. Eris wouldn’t hold that against her, instead she called out to the woman. “Mrs. Stern? You are Mrs. Stern, yes?”
“Of course,” She said with a classic Miss. America smile. This did not strike Eris as someone who was in grief of a missing child… she also didn’t look old enough to be the mother of an 16 year old boy.
“I have a few questions, about the disappearing teenagers,” Eris informed her.

“Is it about Benny?” The woman asked, Eris was getting a trite annoyed, as she’d been since the second house they’d visited. Thankfully, Dahlia made another save, and they were invited in. Dahlia, the clean cut photographer and Eris, the dirty grunge punk chick made their way into the opulent house. Eris was not surprised to find a Latina woman working the home. God Damn rich people… Eris’ first thought was: They better be paying that sweet woman a livable wage.

They were brought drinks inside a room that was clearly designed for entertaining guests and not for family use and they sat down on a couch across from Mrs. Sterns.
“So you have news about Benny?”
“No, we were hoping you could tell us about him. What he does, where he goes, who his friends are… I’m a journalist, my name is Eris Alcone and this is my lovely photographer, Dahlia Morgan. We are doing a story on the missing teenagers around Hells Kitchen, your son is the only one who isn’t from around here. Have you received any ransom notes, anything?” Mrs. Sterns looked thoughtful for a moment and suddenly sighed.
“Oh my… Well,” She began, “We have not received a ransom note, no phone calls, no texts… nothing. We have no idea where he’s gone. I honestly am not sure if Benny has any friends, if he does he never brings them over.” Eris was stuck in disbelief, how could his mother not know he did or didn’t have friends? “Benny has been… difficult since his father left his mother a couple years back.” She chuckled nonchalantly. “It’s been a downward spiral ever since.”
“Oh, so you’re not Ben’s mother?”
“No, I’m his step mother. His father and I have been together for a long time. I almost regret admitting this, but I was his father’s mistress for about three years before he finally axed his wife.” Eris had to restrain her stunned laughter. Still Mrs. Sterns the 2nd continued. "I would suggest checking to see if he ran to his mother's but I suppose you two should know that she died about a month ago. Car accident, was a real tragedy for him. I think you ladies are wasting your time, honestly, I keep telling Howard that Ben ran away, the boy hates me, and I just can't figure out why." Eris could only dumbly nod her head, but she somehow managed to find her words.
"Yeah.... umm... Do you mind if we look in his room?"
"Certainly, it's upstairs third door on the left. You can't miss it. Everything is as he left it...Oh and be careful of that demon spawn up there!"

Can't miss it, was right. His door was the epitome of Teenage Angst. His door had posters and caution tape all over deterring anyone from entering. It did not deter Eris or Dahlia, and Eris made quick work of opening the door and looking inside. Posters from metal bands, comics, and playboy pinups littered the walls. Dark colors permeated the room giving off a very Emo-Goth vibe to the room. Eris walked in and took stock of every little detail she could find. The bed was thrown together in a haphazard was of making it. Things were overflowing from underneath the bed, there was a standing dresser, a desk and nightstand, and another table that had a Terrarium sitting on it. Curiously Eris walked over and found a sleeping Ball Python in the tank, the light still on and its cage relatively clean. Almost as if it had been cleaned right before Ben went missing. He clearly loved this snake too, it was a pricey set up, and the Boa had a hand drawn sign taped to her cage with the name Eve. Eris smirked at the Biblical jab and watched as the snake, Eve raised her smooth head and tasted the air with her tongue before pinning both women with an almost curious look.
"I don't think he meant to stay away... look at the cage. You don't own a snake unless its a creature you love and care for regularly. He meant to return and finish taking care of. If he ran away he would have taken his snake. You're no demon Spawn..." Eris cooed and reached into the cage and lifted Eve up into her hand. The snake coiled around her hand and forearm and continued to taste the air around Eris. The fact Eve didn't attempt to outright bite her, told her that Ben handled Eve often.

Eris pet the snake along its spine before gently prying it off of her and placing it back in the tank where it coiled up under the heat lamp. She then turned to the room and looked around.
"If I was an unhappy child with a homewrecking step-mom... who's probably a religious zealot... where would I hide my goods..." She murmured to herself. Then began the easter egg hunt for anything that might tell them where Ben had gone to. They looked through his bookshelf, the drawers of his desk, they even checked for false bottoms in his drawers for his nightstand, desk and dresser. They looked under his mattress, his bed and in his closet. When it seemed they had exhausted every option, Eris spotted the air vent above Eve's tank. The paint looked discolored and the screws looked like their paint had worn off. Brow furrowed, Eris reached over and with a pocket knife managed to pry the grate open... inside they found a used Crown Royal Liquor Bag. Eris didn't even open it, she tossed it to Daliha to hide in her camera bag. when they got home, they'd look through it and see what they could find. Eris made quick work placing the grate back on the vent and looked down at Eve. Eris had a feeling the snake would die in this house and without another thought gathered the tank, the light, and a shoe box they found had the Snake's food supply and Eris carted it downstairs.
"What are you doing with that monster?" She nearly shrieked disgusted it had left the room. ERis looked at the snake and it's tank that filled her arms and shrugged.
"I could tell you didn't like her, I thought I'd just take this lovely lady off your hands."
"It's disgusting, I don't care, take it if you want. I hope it never comes back."
"WEll in that case. When and if Benny returns, I'll bring his snake back. I'll take care of her for you guys." Eris informed her with a grin and made a break for the door. "Oh," She stopped short and turned to face MRs. Sterns. "If you hear from Ben let us know. We didn't find anything..." Eris lied flawlessly. "We'll keep in touch... thanks for your help,"
  darien / 2y 246d 2h 29m 7s
It was a while before Dahlia felt the need to knock on Eris’ door, but the need finally arose. When there was no reply she opened to door to find an empty bed. Shaking her head, the seed of worry wasn’t planted in her until her best friend’s phone went straight to voicemail. Seeing as there wasn’t a lot she could do, the woman distracted herself with small tasks around the apartment. Luckily, there was enough to do around the place to keep her busy and as she sat down to take a break she managed to catch the missing person skulking back in, doing the sneak of shame.

Eris looked like a hot mess, but it was the usual kind when she came home in the mornings, so her worry was assuaged. “Not really.” She propped her round face up in her hand. “But I would appreciate a text letting me know you aren’t coming in for the night. Just so I know you weren’t dragged off.” God knew how likely that was in this city. Honestly, Dahlia didn’t much care about her enthusiastic friend’s party habits or sexual escapades. Hell, every once in a while she would come along, everyone had needs. The problem was you never knew whom you were going to run into. A guy might be nice in the club but turn out to be a serial murderer once he gets you home. That became all the more likely with their line of work too.

Speaking of which Eris soon let her roommate in on the new information she had heard down the grapevine. Another Teenager missing, West side Manhattan was getting worse and worse these days. It was with that tidbit of info that the party animal excused herself to get ready for the day.

Bang! Bang!

Who the hell was pounding on their door, Dahlia was about to look through the door viewer when her name was shouted from across the thin wooden slab. It was a familiar voice, so she stopped and let Ross in immediately. As she was about to answer his questioned her roommate did it for her.

The two bantered back and forth for a bit. Eventually they would tire of it and she would be able to get a word in edgewise. Until then she poured the remaining three-fourths a cup of coffee for their guest. They moved to the more comfortable living area, but it didn’t last long before he had to leave. Everyone she knew was like a hurricane. They drop in, make a huge commotion, and leave just like that. Except Ross made it sure to always give a civil goodbye. He was a polite and handsome guy, but man could he be awkward. She made sure to smile and wave politely, however she wasn’t looking forward to looking back to Eris who was sure to say something… again.

And there it was. She rolled her eyes, and did her best not to laugh at her friend’s pouting face. It would only encourage her. Dahlia was glad that was the end of it and they would finally be able to get out of their cramped apartment and back to work. Perhaps this one might be the one to get Eris famous enough to bring some actual money in. It was a big enough story, but something about it was definitely giving the camera gal the heebie-jeebies.

The city was bustling, as always. A cacophony of sounds reverberated off the tall buildings. And even though there were many people around when you spoke it felt like no one would hear you. It was both the blessing and curse of the metropolis. Dahlia was bundled up, her defense against the cold early spring weather. Hustling to the subway helped too. They were off to a late start and wanted to take back as much time as possible.

Things were better once they reached the underground station, at least temperature wise. Now that she was a little more relaxed and not running she turned to Eris. “We should probably go and talk to the family of last week’s victim first. That kid was the most recent from Hell’s Kitchen so his family will actually know the area and have a better idea of what’s going on there.” The kid from the Upper East may have been the most recent, but his richy rich parents probably wouldn’t be willing to talk to some random people claiming to be investigating their boy’s disappearance.

Standing at the steps of a brick duplex, a joyful doorbell rang at their call, but the man who answered the door wasn’t nearly as pleasant as the tone. When they asked for some of his time to make an inquiry he reaction nearly blew Dahlia away.

“Why the fuck do you think I would want to talk to you about anything?!” His aggressive voice felt like it could be heard for miles, but no one turned their head as they walked by.

People dealt with loss in all sorts of different ways, the longhaired woman assumed this was his. “We are only looking to help uncover what is really going on here, your son’s is a part of something much bigger going on here. We would really appreciate your cooperation. Just a few minutes would really help.”

“You getting the hell off my doorstep would really help, now beat it, you nosy bitches.”

The door quickly slammed in their faces. Sighing heavily, Dahlia looked to Eris who didn’t exactly look pleased. Not wanting to give the journalist time to make a bigger scene, the onyx-eyed gal grabbed her sleeve. “Let’s move onto the next one. It was probably just too soon for him.” It wasn’t their first rejection of the sort and she was certain it wouldn’t be the last. All they could do was take it in stride. At least she hoped that is what they would do.

Although the woman had thought that would not be the last time they’d be belligerently spurned, she hadn’t expected for it to happen again so soon. The next family had pretty much the same reaction, and the one after that, and the next as well. The last woman nearly got violent when Eris became more insistent out of desperation.

The strangeness of their reactions only made Dahlia feel worse about the whole situation. Something was definitely weird in this place. Now their last hope of finding anything out was in the upper east with the upper crust. It was a slim chance they would be any more willing to talk, but the women had to try. And honestly, she was glad to be away form the odd toxic atmosphere that seemed to be hanging about the air.

By the time they made it to that side of town, it was getting later. They probably only had another half an hour of daylight left. Yet another reason to be refused at the door, however when they got to the large and well-groomed home there was a woman just pulling into the driveway in a powder blue Benz. This took the doorframe out of the equation and she was most definitely glad for that.

The tall elegant woman was locking up her vehicle when they came up to her, asking for a moment of her time.

“Is it about Benny?” What she could only assume was a nickname for Benjamin Stern.

Somewhat hesitant to ask the question, Dahlia went ahead with it. “Yes, we were hoping to get to the bottom of this.”

The woman’s face almost lit up. “Please come in,” She swiftly led them to the door, leading them into an elaborate entryway. “We really appreciate any help to try and find out boy.”

Ms. Stern continued on and the pair followed suit, taking a seat on a small leather couch when she asked them to. The entire home had the same swanky air as the entryway. It was a tad stifling. At least Dahlia thought so.

“Would you two like anything to drink?” It was like uptown people never forgot their hospitality. Even when her son disappeared she seemed to think making sure they had something to drink was the most important thing. Damn rich people.

“No thank you.” It had been a long and rather stressful day; she really just wanted to get to it so they could go back home. At least for a while.

Across a pristine glass coffee table the middle aged woman took a seat in a matching chair, her eyes hopefully looking back at them as though they might be the ones to find and bring her child home.
  Dahlia Morgan / Loxi / 2y 255d 21h 55m 31s
Last night was a hazy memory… filled with heavy bass music, flashing neon lights, copious amounts of vodka, and lots of ‘whoo-hooo’ing. Didn’t she ride in a limo last night? She remembered there was something involving a lobster…. Eris scratched at the top of her head, rubbing feeling back into her numb scalp. Sniffling, she opened her eyes and looked up at the ceiling… that wasn’t her ceiling fan. She looked at the sheets, black and silk… not her bed… She cringed and looked over to her side and sure enough there slept a man she did not know. At least he was cute, and from the look of his apartment… loaded with cash.
“Shit, not again…. Stupid,” She groaned under her breath and carefully rolled out of the bed, grabbed her clothes off the floor and promptly snuck out of his Pent house, condo... whatever it was… it was too big for Eris to comfortably call it an apartment. She lived in an apartment. A Small under 1000 square feet of living space and she shared it with her best friend since that fateful day on the Red line. Now it wasn’t often that Eris found herself in a stranger’s bed, this wasn’t the first, and not likely to be the last. She chalked it up to those cotton candy and vodka cocktails from the club she had. She had an irritating headache, and though she was still dressed in her clothes from the night before she hopped on the subway and ignored the snickering looks. Hey, it’s only a walk of shame if you regret what you did, and since Eris couldn’t piece it together, she figured it must have been a good night. She just hoped she didn’t give someone her number. She’d done that before resulting in stalker status and a restraining order against some douche from college.
It took her almost an hour to jump trains, and hoof it back in her heels back home. She knew she was back on her street when she saw Mahlik sitting out on his front porch.
“DAAAMN girl!” he laughed. “You stayed out late,” he teased. Eris smirked stopping at his stoop and winked. “You doing that walk of shame, girl,”
“No shame in getting laid,” She said jumping up to his step and reached for the joint he had in his hand. He grinned passing it off to her and let her toke for a moment. Mahlik barked a laugh.
“I heard that,” Eris passed the joint back to him.
“You’re up early…”
“Early? Shit girl, it’s almost noon,” Eris began to cough and smoke escaped her lungs.
“No shit?” Mahlik nodded his head as he breathed in more smoke. “Damn, I gotta go. Oh Hey, I’d like to pick some up from you later today,” Mahlik stopped her and reached into his back pocket and tossed her a bag.
“Just swing by later and drop the money off, and before you go… be careful walking these streets… someone else went missing last night.” Eris caught the baggie and quickly tucked it between her cleavage. Another missing person? Why weren’t the cops doing anything? “Damn… why you gotta play me like that?” Mahlik asked, capturing her attention. Eris couldn’t help but smile at him.
“You could always fish for it, if I don’t pay,” Eris teased. Mahlik gave her a Colgate smile, his perfect white teeth stark against his smooth black skin and nodded.
“Hey, Imma hold you to that!” He shouted after her as she hurried on down the sidewalk towards her tenant building. Eris gave him a wave, before rounding the block and jumping up another set of stairs towards her apartment. They were on the fourth floor, and there was an elevator, but it was broken and had been broken since before Dahlia and her had moved in. That had been fun carrying up couches and mattresses.

Eris tried sneaking into her apartment, maybe Dahlia was sleeping in… except she wasn’t. Eris stopped when she saw Dahlia sitting at the Kitchen counter. “Oh hey...” She sang, a cat like grin reaching her cheeks as she slinked into the apartment and shut the door. “Hope you, ehhh… weren’t worried about my absence,” Eris said tossing her sequined clutch onto the quilt covered couch. She made quick work to hit the coffee pot and pour herself a drink. She drank it straight, no cream and no sugar…. Mostly because they couldn’t afford the creamer and sugar. “I saw Mahlik outside… said another person went missing. I’d say I’m surprise Ross didn’t tell me about it, but my phone died… its still dead,” She cringed, making a funny face and sipped from the coffee cup. “I wonder if he worked…” she muttered distractedly and hurried back over to her purse and plugged in her phone. She’d have to give it a moment before she could power it back on, so she kicked off her heels and padded back towards the kitchen. “I think it’s a little strange that people keep going missing in Hell’s Kitchen. Mahlik didn’t say who it was. Two weeks ago it was that teenage girl, last week it was that Goth kid who lives down by Pattys Pub… Give me a minute to shower, and we’ll start sniffing around town… see what we can find.”

It took Eris half an hour to shower and get dressed. During her shower she’d planned out their day. They’d stop by the Station and see if Ross was working last night and if he knew anything. Ross was a desk jockey for the local PD, and the rookie officer who had helped Dahlia and Eris that fateful day on the Red line. After he got shot on duty, he worked the desk ever since. Eris emerged from her room fully dressed and ready to go, grabbing her fully charged phone and was shocked to see the missed calls and texts, and plopped down onto the couch.

[ [b Message from: ROSS] ]
[Missing Persons reported in HK again. Same time, same type. Never came home last night. Friends missing 2. Call ASAP 4 deets]
[Where r u?]
[Never taken this long 2 txt back. U Alrite?]’
[plz don’t b doing something stupid… again]
[don’t hear frm u by lunch. Will hunt u dwn.]

-3 Missed Calls from ROSS
-2 missed calls from MOM
-1 missed call from Dahlia
-1 missed call from UNKNOWN


[b BANG BANG!]

“Holy Shit!” Eris, jumped in her seat and spun around to look at the door, when a voice carried through.
“DAHLIA! Are you home!?” The voice of Ross came in through the door, and once he was let in, he stepped through and looked around. “Did Eris ever make it home last night?” He asked.
“I’m here!” Eris shouted over and looked over her shoulder towards the kitchen and front door. Ross, like Mahlik was one good looking guy. He was tall, well built with tapered blonde hair, and warm honey eyes. He was an All-American, type of guy, and he was probably one of the only cops, Eris found remotely attractive in uniform.
“How come you didn’t call me?” He demanded. Eris rolled her eyes
“Omg, okay DAD… I went out last night. My phone died… but I didn’t,” she tried to tease, but Ross only glared at her and turned to talk to Dahlia.
“Coffee smells good. Mind if I have some too?” he asked, and when Dahlia gave him a cup, he thanked her and they all moved to sit down on the couch.
“So what’s the news? I just got your texts…” Ross frowned.
“Another missing person… that’s five now. Every week, like clockwork it seems. All of them are mostly troubled youth.”
“Missing people in Hells Kitchen isn’t new,” Eris murmured around the lip of her coffee cup.
“No, but the rate has increased, and this last kid was from the Upper East Side.”
“What the hell is some posh rich kid doing down here?” Ross shrugged, unsure. “So some rich rebellious brat goes missing and now it’s a priority to figure out?” Eris challenged. Ross only gave her a contrite look.
“All I know is something stinks about these disappearances. We’re already understaffed and SVU isn’t giving it much attention, they’re back logged as it is. Think you can look into it?”
“Can I get files?”
“No.”
“You suck… fine… give me names. I need somewhere to start,” Eris said. Ross nodded and set his coffee cup down.
“I’ll text them to you, and their homes so you can talk to family,” Ross informed them both and moved to stand up. “I gotta get back, you ladies stay out of trouble, and keep in touch. Let me know if you guys find anything. Dahlia, lovely as always seeing you…” Ross said, and gave Dahlia an awkward smile, and even more awkwardly gave a slight bow of his head before leaving. Eris watched him go and looked at Dahlia.
“You sure you won’t date him just so I can get the inside scoop out of HKPD? No? You suck too…” Eris pouted, and guzzled down the last of her coffee. “Alright, let’s get the hell out of here and see how much trouble we can get into!”
  Eris Alcone / darien / 2y 259d 5h 37m 25s
The apartment was always too cold in the mornings. Dahlia couldn’t stand it. Perhaps if money wasn’t so tight she might have raised the temperature on the thermostat a few points. But as it was, living in the big apple was expensive and just about all she got out of her filmography degree was a pile of student loans. Well, that and her best friend the up and coming journalist dragging her around with a camera to document anything and everything that might be the next big thing. Luckily it had been enough to keep them afloat so far, but the dark haired woman didn’t exactly think it would continue for much longer.

Mustering up her strength to get up and start her day, she looked over to the analog clock on her nightstand. Too tired to fully read it, she deciphered it was somewhere between 7:30 and 7:45. Entirely too early by her standards, but she was already awake and there was little chance of her falling back asleep for any quantifiable length of time. So instead she cocooned herself in her thick down comforter, soaking up the warmth it had to offer, and dragged herself out of bed just like that.

There was nothing to keep her feet from the cool open air, but still she pressed on knowing it would only be worse in the kitchen. With that tidbit of information in the forefront of her mind, Dahlia paused at the doorway to the linoleum-lined room. Eventually the need for caffeine won out. The frozen floor’s repulsiveness wore off as she quickly grew accustom to the feeling.

The woman made quick work of grinding the beans and starting the coffee maker. However, the blanket made the task more cumbersome than it needed to be. All that was left to do was to watch the black liquid lazily drip through the machine. Dahlia took a seat on one of the stools located next to the island counter that doubled as a dinning table. There she played on her cellphone and impatiently watched over the coffee pot. The waiting soon became unbearable as the potent aroma filled the room.

The morning ritual had more than one benefit. Eventually the scent would drift down the hall and wake her roommate. That was if she hadn’t stayed up too late the night before. Although by that time, Dahlia would likely be sipping on her second cup.

Two cups of heaven’s nectar in and still the onyx-eyed woman didn’t hear anything from down the hall. It was unusual, but not unheard of. There was a sinking feeling in her stomach. On mornings like this, her friend had the tendency to come out of her room with a full plan of action for the day. This generally meant they would be on the snipe hunt from hell for the duration of their waking hours. She couldn’t help but wonder what it would be this time around.

Dahlia managed to get dressed and ready for the day before her roomie was out. Unusual indeed, but she was glad for the extra time. She was able to properly clean her lenses to her camera and camcorder. They were her babies. All her graduation money had gone into the camcorder, and even though it was almost two years old there wasn’t a scratch on it.
  Dahlia Morgan / Loxi / 2y 259d 20h 39m 13s
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