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Dave ST

IC: SE: "The Dance!"

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"Wait here." Fisher told Austin before weaving into and through the crowd. Under the circumstances, he didn't want to bring Nadya into this. Dane was keeping an eye on her anyway at his request, so he could step in if the spell or breaking of it had an effect on her. Laurie would be around too, and he didn't want any delays clashing with Eric Donner.

Billy had been dragged by Rachel toward the stage when she suddenly stopped as Nadya started singing. He didn't even know the little freak could sing but she sounded really good. The things you never knew. Rachel had been intense...well she was always intense but after everything earlier and then her dad, her real dad she had seemed, the best way to describe it would be subdued and distracted then when Dane got up she lit up like a pissed off fire cracker and now...

Rachel was lost in the song, so many windows in her mind opened, she leaned in to Billy and slipped her hand out of his and snaked it around his waist pulling him in until they were hip to hip shoulder to shoulder. The were almost the same height so they fit together very well. They swayed together for the rest of the song Billy, not for the first time, asking himself what he had gotten involved and Rachel coming to accept the things she had doubted.

After Nadya's song was over and everyone gave the dark hair girl everyone usually made fun of a standing O, Rachel turned back into Billy's embrace. As the music started back up they danced in silence for a few moments then Rachel spoke. “Are you really okay with all of this Billy? Me being who, what I am?” “Sure I care for you I've always...”

"Sorry to interrupt." Fisher's voice apologetically broke in. "But I need to borrow Rachel for a little bit."

"Is this important?" Rachel glared at Fisher, but Billy stepped back and squeezed Rachel's arm, "It's okay babe, I'll go get some drinks then we can find a quiet corner to talk." He let go and Rachel watched him walk away then turned back to Fisher, she saw Austin a few feet away looking pensive, she frowned. "What is it Fisher?"

"I know you're going to be mad Rachel, so please keep it at a setting below 'berserker frenzy'." Fisher said, and Rachel realized from the edge in his voice, Fisher was holding back his share of it. The summary quickly followed. Rachel surprised Fisher, she didn't explode. She did put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed it comfortingly. "We'll fix it Fisher, she's our sister." Then she looked at Austin who sidestepped revealing Niles standing in his shadow. Rachel started that way.

Yeah, no. Fisher was certain she was just going to be waiting for when there would be no possible witnesses.

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Niles mad to back away but Austin blocked him while also keeping his eye on Rachel. Like Fisher he had expected her to go ballistic. This quiet Rachel was slightly more frightening.

 Rachel, without saying a word took Niles arm firmly and led him toward the Auditorium exit. Where Coach Fingers was being his usual self and watching the kids like the hawk that he was. Fisher and Austin came along. “Someone needs to keep an eye on Nadya,” Rachel said.

“We got it covered,” replied Fisher. “Dane is with her on stage he doesn't know the detail or anything except that she's really buzzed he'll let us know if she freaks or anything.”

As the walked up to the doors Fingers glowered at Rachel “Where do you think your going. You know you kids aren't supposed to leave the dance.”

“Band business.”

Fingers looked at her and then at Austin and Fisher. Finally he seemed to notice the dweeb who's name he didn't recall and really didn't care about who seemed to have shrunk in on himself even more. He nodded once and stepped aside and let them out. Niles gave a pleading look at the coach as they took him outside.

They went to the side of the building where during the day some of the kids gathered to sneak cigarettes, no one was there now. Rachel pushed him up against he building his back to the wall. She held him there with slight pressure her hand resting on his chest.

“Is what Fisher tells me true?”

“I don't know what Fisher told you...” Where he found the balls to say that none of them knew but both Austin and Fisher got angrier, Fisher leans in his eyes flashing. “You know damn well what I told her.”

Niles saw...something in Fishers eyes and it wasn't imagination. Were those skulls? There was definitely pee this time.

“He told me about a spell he used on Nadya to make her his sex slave,” said Austin, “he wouldn't have come to me if it hadn't been true.”

“I know it's true but I need to hear him say it.” Rachel pressed slightly not enough to hurt but enough to make Niles feel the promise of hurt. WTF, he thought, are these guys.

“Yeah it's true all of it I'm sorry I just I … love.” he swallowed as Rachel let him go.

He slumped and both of the other scion's grabbed him and held him up still against the wall while giving Rachel a curious set of looks.

Rachel stepped back and look around taking a deep breath, she noticed the looks of her band-mates. “He feels remorse and regrets all of it. We need to find the spell and free Nadya. It will be up to her how to settle things with Niles.” She looked back at Niles.

“Did Todd help you cast the spell originally?”

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Niles clenched his fists and made a valiant stand, given the circumstances.  "I never said 'sex slave', you brutish ogre," he snarled at Austin.  "It was a love spell, I just wanted her to love me, someone to love me and quit being mean to me for a change.  It's magic, it wasn't supposed to work!  We were just two idiot teenagers chasing an idiot dream on a Saturday night after too much Cheetos and energy drinks!"

He looked to Rachel.  "Sex slave seems to be what I got instead of loving girlfriend.  Everyone always treated her poorly, both of us, so poorly.  I thought we would be happy together as a couple... it was just a dream, a fantasy... but something went wrong, aside from it actually working... she's been trying to pounce me every time we're alone.  I haven't touched her, I swear... not in that way."  He pushed his glasses up on his nose.  "There are tests to take, blood screenings, intercourse is not a avenue to simply be strolled without taking proper precautions.  I'm a bit of a germaphobe and this version of Nadya has excelled in violating my personal boundries.  His glare was intense.  "I would never hurt her.  Magic is not supposed to be real!

"So," Fisher glared back.  "This isn't your fault, right?"

"No, it is my fault,"  Niles, despite being seventy pounds of nothing, seemed quite altruistic.  "Whether magic is real or not, I still cast that spell.  This whole fiasco is on me, which is why I need to fix it!"

"Did.  Todd.  Help.  You?"  Rachel asked again.

"He did.  He's been in love with you since seventh grade.  He finds your sudden desire for that hamfisted mongoloid, Billy to be not only a poor decision, but an unfair one."  He nodded his head.  "And I concur.  He's been intense about casting the spell again ever since he witnessed how it worked on Nadya, but I refused to do it a second time for obvious reasons considering what was supposed to happen compared to what actually happened.  I was translating the notes and I think I reverse it and break the enchantment... and I can't believe I just said that... it's like we're trapped in a cheesy RPG plot on one of those online forums.  This whole thing is nuts... look, I know you hate me, I hate me right now... but if this magic stuff is really real and I screwed it up after copious amounts of study, imagine what Todd will do if he's just babbling off words I scribbled on notebook paper!"

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Rachel cocks her head as Niles ramble then reaches out placing a firm hand on his shoulder at which he flinchs. "Relax Niles, non of us here are going to hurt you but you have to help us now. More than likely Todd has gone to whereever you first cast the spell. I need you to show Austin and Fisher where this is do you understand."

Austin looked at Rachel, surprise showing, "Wait your not going?"

Rachel shakes her head, "If he gets the spell cast before we stop him I may be under the influence of the same spell Nadya is. I doubt I would let anything happen to Todd in that case. We can't risk that. You and Fisher will have to go with Todd, I will go back in and send Laurie to join you and I 'll watch over Nadya.

It's up to you to stop him brothers, I have faith. And don't hurt them bring them both back and the spell."

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He'd about had enough of Niles, but saving Nadya and preventing Todd from trying to cast the spell came first.   Austin just nodded.  It was going to be more fun to watch whatever Nadya did to him, and really she should get first crack at him.


"Come on Niles, we're wasting time.  Take us to where you first cast the spell, and if we can, we'll help you undo it."   He was hoping Fisher had a plan for that, because his was far less likely to work well for anyone.  As one they took a position just behind Niles, easily within arm's reach, and Austin silently prayed they be in time to prevent even more chaos.   One sex crazed bandmate is more than enough.   God help us all if we end up with two...

A moment later a thought came unbidden into his mind.    What a way to go though, Death by Snu-Snu....


He silently hoped that as she'd likely not been there for the casting, Nadya's presence wouldn't be required to reverse the spell.   
 

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Meanwhile...

Rachel watched them as the three boys headed to wherever Niles was going to take them. She had purposefully stepped away before Niles had told Fisher and Austin, just encase. With a last sigh she went back around the corner and back into the Dance alone. Coach Fingers scowled at her and she shrugged in response but neither of them said anything Nadya was still on the stage now singing a duet with Dane, and the sad thing was that wasn't even going to be the strangest or most shocking thing tonight.

She looked around and spotted Billy and made her way through her fellow students to come up behind him. She slipped her arms around him pressing against his back and nuzzling his neck “Miss me?”

He chuckled and twisted around to face, “Yeah I did.” He smile and it lifted her heart. Gods she didn't want to hurt him.

“You get everything straightened out?”

“Not quite there's a couple of more things then I'm all yours.” I hope.

She looked deep into his eyes she could lose herself there she hoped she had the chance to when all was said and done. “I know everything is a whirlwind right now Billy and I know it seems that things are coming at you, at us, fast. You said that you cared for me and I believe you cause I care for you a great deal. I want to make sure you know that that what I feel in my heart for you is real.”

“I know it is Rachel I've always felt this way about you and I always will. Even with everything and all that other stuff.” She still searched his eyes looking for his heart. She felt no warnings of guilt so she smiled.

“Good I have to go get Laurie and send her after the boys they may need backup. Whatever happens next doesn't change anything with us I need you to understand that and that I love you.”

She kissed him softly a lingering kiss that had a couple of chaperones frowning but before it got into serious violation territory Rachel stepped back and smiled at her daze boyfriend.

She saw Eric and his band at the other end of the auditorium not on the dance floor that's where Lauri was. She made her way there and nodded at Eric who just smirked at her. “Laurie, I hate to spoil your evening but I need you to go after Austin and Fisher they need backup.”

“Its Homecoming Cooper don't mess everyone's just night up because you couldn't perform.” said Eric and some of the others snickered.

“This is band Business Eric, so butt out please. Laurie you can Text Austin he'll tell you where they are and what's going on. I have to stay here for something else and to watch over Nadya”

Rachel didn't wait for a reply or to see if Laurie was going to comply instead she turned and looked at Bridgette who was leaning on the back of a folding chair a few feet away. She took a breath and locked eyes with the tall dark beauty and walked right up to her right into her space.

“Just so we are on the same page I want you to know that I can give as good as I get.”

Rachel reached up and snaked her hand around the back of Bridgett's neck as she stepped in close while pulling her face down to hers. Their lips met, mouths moved hands touched hips.

Rachel kissed Bridgette

Now the chaperones had something to worry about.

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Threads of Fate as heavy as chains tugged at her, pulled, insisted, and the more the hidden part of Nadya railed at and rattled them, the more the rest of her was bound tight, the enchantment suffocating her in imposed love. But the music loosened her bindings, made the chains weigh her down less.

Dane could see even if Nadya couldn't. She was on something, some rank shit. He didn't know why she hadn't come to him, he never held out on her, but he wouldn't let her ride out the horrid high alone. Nadya finished her first song and opening her eyes, began to grow agitated when she didn't see her Niles watching her, waiting for her.

"Hold up, Moonbaby," Dane said, snaking an arm around her bare shoulders. A nickname she hated from almost everyone else, Dane made it sound endearing. "You've got some serious pipes on you, girl. Niles just went to the head. You've got this party in the palm of your hand, how 'bout we give'em another round?" Dane gave a member of the band a pointed nod and deftly caught the tossed guitar and flashed Nadya his wide, earnest grin. "A duet this time."

Standing stiffly, Nadya desperately gazed across the dance floor looking for Niles, then turned back to Dane. She couldn't see how the expression on her face contrasted sharply with the look in her eyes. If he wasn't buzzed, Dane would have shivered.

"What did you have in mind?" Nadya said, returning his grin.

"Something a little old school. The theme might not be 'Under The Sea,' but Homecoming still needs a little something classic. Do you know..."

And that was how Nadya found herself singing a cover of a classic Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers duet, Islands in the Stream.

As the song came to an end, Nadya heard the crowd begin to murmur and jostle. She turned from Dane and her jaw dropped open at the sight of Rae-Rae kissing that bitch Bridgette. Her face lit up in wild amusement, seeing Rachel do something unexpected and unconventional, but she didn't notice the single tear trailing down her check.

"I want that. I want something real," she whispered.

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"Last time we used the science lab," Niles said, pointing Austin and Fisher.

"Why the science lab?"  Fisher just had to ask.

"Boasts the most numerous amount of fire extinguishers than any other class room in the school."  He replied simply while starting into a hurried walk.

Austin rolled his eyes and followed.  "I thought you didn't expect it to work, why were worried about fires?"

"Because," Niles said it like that more he spoke to Fisher and Austin the dumber he was getting.  The kids condescension was on par with Nadya's desire to revolt against authority.  "Whether we take it seriously or not, it is stil lan experiment and an experiment requires proper protocol, which would a copious amount and fire extinguishers and meticulous notes and planning."

The son of Poseidon looked to his friend and raised his hands up like he was choking someone.  Fisher smiled and they continued to follow Niles, both of them trying their damnest not to strangle the dorky aspiring sorcerer.

Through the darkened hallways and the echos of their foots steps rang through the halls as a sudden crash of lightning exploded across the night sky, strobbing the inside of the hall with bright white light.  All three stopped to shield their eyes from the dazzling light.  "Niles looked back to them.  "It's started.  He's started the spell!"

The two Scions realized the stakes had just grown considerably and took off down the hallway until they realized Niels wasn't with them.  He was still in the same spot pondering his last statement.  "'Spell' seems to crude an explain," he rest his hand beneath his chin and narrow his eyes in thought.  "Yes, 'incantation' seems more appropriate but would 'ritual' not suffice as well?  Certainly further study is needed as using the wrong verbiage for arcane sciences, if it truly could be a science, could result in catastrophic-"

Niles's eyes widened as Austin grabbed him and yanked him with great force down the hallway with them.

--==[***]==--

"On the wings of Anubis come the winds of Mare Nostrum!" Lightning crashed and winds swirled as papers and random debris swirled about the room the moment Austin and Fisher pushed open the large double doors to the science lab.  All the work stations had been pushed against the walls to make room for the large ritual center within the room that was made of make shift materials several candles (that remained lit despite the wind) and a pentagram drawing into the floor with what appeared to be ashes.  Through out the pentagram were a few scattered bones that appeared blackened and charred, mostly the bones that comprised the fingers.  "From the Near Delta lands to Rosetta's black sands deliver my desire unto me!"

Three balefire green wisps appeared with a sputtering sounds and danced within the confines of the pentagram as Todd muttered the incantation with his arms raised high to the wisps as they danced and floated about.  They chuckled and chortled as they danced about Todd's head.

The wind blew hard against the teens in the doorway, so hard they had to shout to hear one another.  "That's not right!"  Niles yelled while his hair whipped about.  "He's not doing it right!  He's messing it all up!  Todd you suck!  You're screwing up my notes!  Give them back!"

The floor tiles cracked and greenish light began to shine from beneath them...

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Even beholding the spectacle unfolding before him with a certain aprehension, Austin steeled himself and focused.   He'd seen this in a game before, where the cracks formed, and a Demon had come out, but improperly summoned, it didn't come to do the bidding of the summoner, but to devour them.  Drawing on the Ichor in his veins he  issued an undeniable order to Todd, hoping to silence him before he finished the full incantation.   "Don't say another word!"  

[Austin uses Overt Order on Todd]

Even as he issued this edict, he sprung into action, barreling towards Todd as fast as he could trying to get to him and get him away from the wisps.  His arms held out he slammed into Todd, his arms encircling him and diving away from the Ritual circle and the wisps, trying to minimize the injury to the mortal teenager even as they were falling away.

He held faith that Fisher could help Niles stop the spell, before the cracks grew bigger, and that hopefully nothing would actually be summoned to try to feast on the idiot he'd just tackled to the ground.

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For all the dangers and freakishness of the situation, Fisher was calm. Relatively so, with superhuman intellect and focus running down the situation. In front of them, a potential repeat of the Nekyia situation when the Band first got into the heroing business. The creatures on the other end had held off once they'd noticed Fisher and his heritage. They couldn't rely on that this time.

Step One, stop Todd and get him away. Austin, Fisher thought approvingly, was already on that. That left the issue of containment. The wisps seemed to be confined by the pentagram, but that thing wouldn't likely stop whatever eldritch evil was coming through from stepping out. What would an anime/manga protagonist do in this situation? It was hardly a silly question. The many great series carried their rivers of Japanese tales and lore, homages in their way to the Amatsukami, of whom he was a Scion. Obviously, he couldn't pull a Naruto and just create some fuinjustu masterwork to seal it back up.

But there were other ways, a more traditional option now that he thought about it. Fisher drew Comb Tooth and jabbed it forward, turning the pen into a naginata, and catching some of the flying paper. It came down into Fisher's outstretched hand, cut into strips. And Comb Tooth retracted back into a pen. Was the pen mightier than the sword? Thankfully, Fisher could have it both ways.

In swift flickers, Fisher drew the kanji. "Izanagi, father of the gods. He who brought Chikaeshi-no-okami. Bind death away from life here!" The stone from which his own pendant was made, Fisher remembered. With a toss, defying the laws of physics, the strip of paper which Fisher had inscribed his step-father's name sailed as if a rigid solid object and met the doors to the lab, slamming them shut and sticking as if glued firmly.

"Amaterasu, heavenly queen and sun! Restrain this twisted light with your own!" Another inscribed strip found its way to one point of the pentagram. "Susanoo, slayer of Orochi! Drive these monsters back!" "Tsukuyomi, moon lord! I plead for your support!" Two, third points covered. "The Seven Fortunes! Give this your blessing!" Four. And of course finally, "Izanami, mom. You owe me."

The last one came into place. Ofuda. The various talismans, amulets and other charms issued by Shinto shrines. Often they had the names of the shrines too with the kami, but Fisher Capra was a Scion of the Amatsukami and the writing was done by a genuine Relic. He WAS his own spiritual holiness for this. And he would make their bindings real. Five to cover the pentagram, one on the doors to bar the room just to be safe.

And their words glowed, a pure white compared to the sickly green cracks. White lines connecting the circle...

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The power of the gods thrummed and boomed with each of the incantations Fisher called upon.  He invoked the names of his ancestors and his ichor gave those invocations might and power to affect the World and its denizens.  His plan was, although hastily thought out, brilliant save for his one tactical miscalculation.  In Japanese culture it is the children who honor their parents and was never their place to make demands of them.  Had Fisher been a mortal and not a demigod his mother's wrath would have been lengthy and brutal.  It was not Fisher's place to made demands of the gods, let alone make a claim his mother, the goddess who gave him life, gave him power, delivered a World to him filled with magic and unlimited potential.  Oh, no, child.

Gods owed mortals, even their own children, nothing.

Austin looked up from where he'd tackled Todd to the ground.  He was laying over him and arched tilted his head to see Fisher just standing there, silently staring off into space.  "Fisher!"  Thunder exploded as heavy rain slammed loudly against the panes of glass as bright flashes of lightning provided the only illumination in the large laboratory of the school.  "Fisher!"

Austin turned to look at Todd, whose eyes were glossed over as he mumbled incoherently to himself.  When the wisps swirled and whipped about they hovered high above where he lay, straddled over Todd, as green energy crackled across the surface of the orbs Austin cursed to himself as he threw himself over Todd's gibbering body while emerald arcs of energy trailed from the orbs causing Austin to cry out in pain as the energy pulsed through his body, shielding Todd from the entities he'd summoned.  The pain was a searing jolt, like thousands of volts coursing through his veins.  The Scion of Poseidon's muscles seized and flexed under the strain of the agony he felt.  Still, he covered Todd.  A demigod might survive against the assault... a mortal stood no chance.

Fisher's breath was frozen on the icy breeze of the realm he now found himself.  It was dark, like a moonless night in a mountain range.  He was naked and the bitter chill of the arctic winds sliced into him like razor wire.  Seconds turned to minutes, minutes to hours.  He wandered the land, naked and cold, starving and thirsty as the bitter frost gave rise to agonizing, crippling blisters that froze and cracked and painfully peeled from his flesh.  Cold and alone Fisher staggered and stumbled through the seemingly endless valley as hours became days and days became months.  He starved, but did not die.  He froze and felt every bit of the agony.  Yet he did not die.  He called out, even screamed for help but there was no one to hear him.  This was how Fisher lived out the rest of his days.  One century of freezing, blister ridden agony in a realm from which there as no escape.

Austin cried out in pain and Fisher snapped away from his imprisonment.  Three seconds were all that had passed and as Fisher tried to make heads or tails of the scene he found himself in suddenly he realized that while a century had just passed for him in that realm, he was right where he was moments before arriving in that awful, frozen place.  With an explosion of force the kanji displaying the might of Izanagi glowed brightly in the room like a brilliant neon glow of purest yellow.

"So be it." Boomed a disembodied man's voice.

The three orbs were pulled in towards the kanji as it faded away.  Now screams could be heard.  The orbs bent and twisted, expanding into vaguely humanoid apparitions.  They reached out in vain attempts to claw themselves away from the might of the invocations pull.  Trapped within the confines of the circle that summoned them they floated about, wailing and screaming.  The barrier that contained them, only becoming visible for brief moments as they wailed and beat upon it, began to crack and give way.  As the cracks appear the three apparitions calmed and slowed their thrashing against the walls of their prison.  The screams turned to chuckles as three pairs of beady, pinpoint greenish eyes locked upon Fisher and the smoldering back of Austin whose body was still so wracked with pain he could barely move.

In a brilliant explosion the barrier shattered and the three wispy apparitions soared off and faded upwards into the ceiling.  The room calmed and there was silence as a the soft cackle of feminine voices faded into the evening.

Fisher looked about.  Not quite sure when the Hel just happened.  His mind tumbled possibilities.  'Bind death away from life here'.  Fisher took in a breath and exhaled slowly.  "Ah, shit.  Uh, Austin, I think I made a goof."

Austin pushed himself up from the floor.  Every muscle in his body ached and still Todd seemed to mumble over and over to himself, seemingly having witnessed nothing of what had just transpired.  "Yeah... kinda figured.  It's when things go right," he managed to gasp out in pain.  "That I worry."

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One hundred years gives you plenty of time to think. Or a handful of moments to a divinely-enhanced mind. Or both, given how the experience defied mundane definitions of time. In essence, Fisher had understood what had happened to him: one hundred years of mental banishment to Jigoku, the punishment portion of the Japanese Underworld, brought about with the introduction of Buddhism to Japan - one of the frozen hells. Ironically, his own demigodly status had given him a 'light' sentence, a mere mortal lifetime.

And why? Oh, he knew exactly why. Fisher knew the culture and had read the myths. Amaterasu banishing Tsukoyomi. Parent-child strictures. Realistically, he should have simply made another invocation just like the others and everything would have been fine. But in that moment, the anger had bubbled out in a few damning words. Years of child's grief and abandonment, watching a father just slip away inside, and then the brief return, dangling a promise that never, ever would have been fulfilled, Fisher realized now.

Now Fisher could still feel the phantom frostbite knew the Amatsukami had also added in the failure of the binding for another layer to the punishment. So he turned his eyes onto Niles - was his breath still frosty? - and rasped, "Get the notes."

He'd failed here. He'd rather go back for another century of torment than fail to break free Nadya from her chains as well.

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Still wracked with pain, Austin rose shakily and slowly to his feet.   Every nerve in his body was screaming, and he stumbled, catching himself on a nearby desk.  "Ow."  The monosyllabic response underlined the pain he'd suffered, and he looked down to the Incoherent Todd, and then over to Fisher and Niles.  "Well we're all alive, so that's one for us."   He went silent for a moment, listening to Todd, and some pieces of the puzzle dropped into place.  "Well shit."

With that, he lashed out a couple times slapping Todd's cheeks before the others could stop him.  His voice became hard as he put the full force of his ichor behind his words.  "Snap the hell out of it Todd."

He looked back to Fisher.  "Someone whammy'd him pretty good.   He was likely put up to this by someone like us, or at least convinced actually doing this was a good idea."  He drew back from Todd, just in case he decided to come back at him.  He wasn't in the mood for that, and they had promised to bring him back in one piece.

 

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Todd shook his head and blinked a few times.  "A-Austin?  W-what's going on?  The hell'd you do in here?"

Niles scooped up the notes and began sifting through them and organizing them as best he could.  As Fisher tended to his bandmate, providing a little support for Austin to rest himself against Niles worked feverishly in the background until he noticed something in the dim light.  "Uh oh..." he said softly.

"Niles," Austin said through shallow breaths.  "That's not really what we want to be hearing a the moment."

"These aren't my notes guys," Niles said walking over with crackled yellow parchment that looked like it was torn from a centuries old book.  He handed them to Austin and on the top of the stack was an illustration of three young women, lovely for their time but no older than fifteen to seventeen, dressed in simple puritan outfits.  "W-what's going on here, guys?  W-who're they?"

Fisher reached down into the inside of Todd's jacket where he saw the crumbled notes rolled into a cylinder.  "Here, try these."  He skirted around giving Niles a straight up answer and opted to occupy him with something else, like freeing Nadya from her enchantment.

"Who are they?"  Austin asked softly, trying to keep it between them.

Fisher sighed and looked to his friend.  "Betty Parris, Abigail Williams and Ann Putnam."  When Austin shook his head like those names didn't mean anything to him and he was certainly not in the condition for a mental or intellectual thinking session at the moment Fisher leaned in and quietly helped him out.  "The first three women who were accused and arrested in the Salem Witch Trials... guess they actually were witches."

"Aaand... we just let them lose all over Salem... does 'oops' properly cover that?"  Austin tried to joke, as pain wracked his gut.

"Personally I'd go with 'our bad', but if you wanna 'oops' we can 'oops'."  Fisher shrugged, trying to keep it light despite the whole night spiraling into a shit storm.

Austin laughed, coughed and gripped his gut.  "Ow, don't make me laugh... so, who's telling the others?"

Niles approached, his grin wide and smiles from ear to ear.  "That should do it!"  We waved the papers about joyfully.  "I did it.  I set it right.  Nadya should be fine.  See?  All's well, right?  We cool?"

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Fisher looked at Niles, but feeling tired, decided to let it go. "We cool. It's between Nadya and you now." Having left Niles with that reminder hanging, something else tweaked. "Oh, right. That book you Austin said you have. It's the Nekiya, isn't it? It belongs to Mr. Syracuse. Return it ASAP." It was an assumption, but the whole thing fit Marius' MO far too well. Giving that tome with dangerous power to people sufficiently motivated and incautious enough to use it.

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"Like Fisher said, we might be cool, but now you gotta square this with Nadya.   Good luck with that.   I'm sure Rachel will want a word if you survive that."

he shrugged, still in alot of Pain.  "Todd, you get to face Rachel, admit what you tried to do, and accept whatever consequences she levies.  Catch her in a good mood, and she might let you live."

The Salem Witches Revelation was still rattling around in his mind, the pain making things abit more difficult for him, but he knew them being loosed was bad, and grumbled softly  "Big Fuckin "Oops.""  He looked to the other boys.  "We find Mr. Syracuse so you can give him that book, and then we can all go face the music.  Maybe all the aftermath will wait until tomorrow."

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"Th-thanks for helping me out," Todd managed to Austin as he still tried to get his bearings.  "Wh-what the hell just happened."  He looked at Austin with concern.  "Are you okay?  Why are you talking like that?"

"N-Nekiya?"  Niles looked awkwardly at Fisher.  "Oh, OH!  The golden and embossed tome," he was quick to correct.  "It's... uh, was in my locker.  I was using it to translate the notes to reverse the... whatever it was that happened to Nadya."  He paused, thinking for a moment.  "Which come to think, I would have seen it when I went looking for my notes earlier..."

Everyone gave Todd a look that seemed to demand an explanation.  He swallowed hard.  "I uh, I gave to some guy with a hat.  I came here to use the spell.  He met me at Nile's locker and asked for the book.  I didn't want to give it to him, I swear, guys!  But... the more he talked, I don't know, it was weird... I didn't want to do it, but I did anyway.  I didn't want to use the papers he gave me, but I folded up the notes and came in here and used his stuff instead.  I can still hear him... man, this is so weird.  He was so convincing..."

--==[***]==--

The entire dance had their eyes locked on Bridgette and Rachel as the 'woo's' and the cheers started.  So much so that no one noticed the tendrils of pink mist Nadya exhaled, tiny plumes escaping from her lips and nostrils that gathered around her head.  The small cloud glimmered with tiny motes of silvery glitter before it dissipated into nothingness.  Nadya could feel something, or better yet, a lack of something.  It was as if someone had removed a tightly bound tourniquet from her throat and she took a deep, well anticipated breath.

No longer a prisoner in her own mind, freedom never felt so good.

At this point half the dance was still watching Rachel and her new scandal while the rest of the dance was either murmuring about or straight up laughing at Billy as his date decided his company was thrilling she figured making out with Bridgette was the better idea.  Rachel was so wrapped up in her bliss, or distraction, or... whatever her plan was (she wasn't much of a sharer... or planner) she didn't notice him turn and leave.

But dat kiss tho'.  Bridgette certainly didn't shy away in the slightest.  Passionately she returned the kiss and as the crowed began to cheer she gave them more of a show, deepening the kiss and embracing her conspirator until finally pulling back just enough to catch her breath.  Coyly she narrowed her eyes at the attractive blonde.  "Well, Cooper, y'sure know how to ruin all t'fun of flirtin', but I do enjoy how you manage to always go big..."

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The kiss did send shivers through her body but that was not its purpose. She smiled a decidedly un-Rachel like smile and leaned close so only Bridgett could hear, "That was nice and I'm glad you enjoyed it too, but I'm with Billy, and just like you are your daddy's girl I am my fathers daughter. You ever pull shit like you did at the game, or tried to do here and I will forget that I like you and I will rip your spine out through your chest. Justice, vengeance, just different sides of the same coin."

Rachel spun away and started back toward where she had left Billy. And she didn't see him.

 Anger flared, but she tamped it down and went after him, after all he couldn't hide from her even if he wanted too.

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Marius. It figured that Marius had taken the Nekiya and moved on again. Probably this time so the witches could make use of it. This situation kept on getting worse and worse. "I guess he must have been." Fisher fixed the pair with a warning stare. "Well, this is where you give me those notes, walk away, and as we said, pray your dear little hearts out the girls will forgive you."

And just as Rachel was smiling an un-Rachel smile elsewhere, Fate had Fisher smiling an un-Fisher smile. "And don't do anything stupid like this again. Just don't."

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Austin grunted in both annoyance and pain, Marius had duped them all again, and it didn't sit well with him.   He looked to Todd.  "You're welcome Todd.   I'll be alright, it's nothing for you to worry about now.  Like fisher said,  Turn over all the notes,  walk away tonight, and later you're going to apologize.   With any luck, you'll survive."   Austin's smile was far more believable, and unlike his fellows, was very him.   He meant every word, right now he wanted to get back to the dance, and Yokiko.  The rest could wait.

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It was taking a breath of fresh air after drowning for a week. Nadya had never tasted something so sweet. Freedom, after being chained by what she presumed where mumbo-jumbo words, teenaged intentions and ostracism. Mingled fury and shame welled up in her. Fury for the way she had acted, had been forced to act, all needy, over-the-top and head-over-heels, nearly every thought focused on that little dweeb Niles. And shame that she couldn't make herself stop. If anything, railing against the imposed feelings had made it worse.

She might be an unconventional redistributor of wealth and various sundries, but she had never taken someone's will. Hers had been, and it was a theft even she couldn't conceive of. Persuasion, manipulation, tricks and wiles, she could understand, and if Niles could have managed it, even using a bro manual on how to get girls, all the power to him. But this?

She could remember every embarrassing action. As much as she wanted to take a SOS pad to her brain, she'd been embarrassed before and likely, she would be again, but it wasn't She wiped at her cheek and stared curiously at the wetness on her fingers. Tears? She never cried, never real tears anyway, but these were real.

Nadya jumped when she felt a hand on her bare shoulder. Glancing around, she found Dane there, amiable, easy smile on his face. "Yuh'kay, Moonbaby? Seems like the music hit you hard there. That can be the best. Or the worse." With a causal, insouciant motion, Dane tossed the borrowed guitar back to its owner. "Sometimes, it's both."

"It's fine, I'm fine, Dane. And thanks."

Even in her heels, Nadya had to stretch up on her toes to give the son of Baldur a tender kiss on the cheek. She didn't have to say what for, Dane understood. The music had offered a surcease from the chains of ensorcelment. When she settled back on her heels with a sharp click, Nadya's jaw was tight, her grin was grim and vicious, and her silver-grey eyes glittered with the last remnants of the spell she had been released from.

"But now, I need to go speak with my 'boyfriend' and maybe, like, kill him. Or whatever's worse than kill. Decimate? Destroy? Eviscerate? Doesn't matter, inspiration is striking me, and likely going to stab him." Her voice was a low growling, animated hiss. Dane nodded agreeably as though it all made sense. "Where is the little bastard?"

"He took off with Austin and Fisher a little while ago. Dunno why." Dane waggled his blond brows. "All you fine wimmin-folk are here, 'less they wanted a sausage party."

Nadya harrumphed. "If anyone is jamming something up Niles' ass, it's going to be me. Far up enough, he's gonna choke on it."

From the stage, Nadya looked over the dance, a slight frown growing on her lips, brows furrowing faintly. None of her band save Laurie standing by Donner was in sight. Bridgette looked totally nonplussed after kissing - or was it being kissed by - Rachel, but Rae-Rae wasn't there either, the doors to the gymnasium just clicking shut.

"Love, and the yearning for it, are crazy little things, Nadya. Think on it, hey?"

Nadya stared at Dane. She wasn't sure if it was Zen/Buddhist bullshit from a hippie upbringing, a perpetual high, or if it was an mote of actual wisdom that made his words seem deep... at times. She gave him a tight, reluctant nodd then jumped off the stage, landing gracefully and on the stride towards the main doors despite her stilettos.

She had a nerd to slay. And maybe Todd too, on sheer principle.

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[Rachel]  It wasn't hard to find Billy.  He'd left the gym and simply walked down the hall a bit to separate himself from something that obviously had frustrated him.  He was walking in a sort of half circle, his hands on his waste and it was obvious he was trying to calm down.  It was, in a way, good to see that he wasn't some stoic prince charming who was always cool with everything Rachel, with her crazy life style of monster hunting and being a demigod, said and did.  It was uncool that it obviously she'd caused some friction.

As she approached he noticed her and adopted an expression somewhere between confused and irritated.  He motioned to the gym and shook his head.  "I get it Rachel, I get that you said you care for me no matter what you do, or how crazy things are.  But a little warning would be nice.  Because I'm not mad that you kissed Bridgette, I'm not, in fact... full disclosure, that was kinda hot."

His candid admission made them both smirk, reducing some of the tension a bit.  His expression solidified into serious again and he continued.  "What I don't get is why?  Whatever that was, why, why did it need to be settled to here in front of the entire school, at the dance of all places?  I just looked like a complete jack hole in front of the entire school.  I'm not a monster slaying demigod, Rae.  I have to move on from this place and do college apps, and get a career and I don't my interviewers saying 'oh, yeah, you're that guy who went viral because his girlfriend took him to Homecoming so could make out with another girl'.  This is high school, Rae.  You think these guys are gonna let that go?  Did you even think for a moment how your actions would affect me?"

[Nadya]  "I don't know, I'm guessing some sort of plasmid or radiant energy particle," Todd said to Niles as they walked down the halls.  "I didn't really get a good look at them with Austin hovering over me."

Niles didn't really seem talkative but he listened nonetheless.  "He probably saved your life," he murmured.  Niles had handed over the notes, both his and the one's Marius had supplied Todd.  His mind certainly trying to wrap around all of this, but he wasn't much luck.

"Naw, I mean, if that guy could survive it.  It probably felt like getting tased... not that I've been tased.  But look, Niles, we saw something amazing, man!  I mean, proof that there is some next level Star Trek kinda shit going on around here.  Ever since we saw Horace jump onto that garage during the summer, I knew what we saw... we saw.  I mean, that was like, what?  A ten foot vertical?  There's a story waiting to be told here Niles, we have to have each other' back."  When Niles didn't reply Todd grabbed his arm and jostled him from his scattered thoughts.  "Niles, c'mon.  You have my back?  Because we have to be there for each other man, one hundred percent, no backing down."

The soft clack of Nadya's heels announced her before she rounded the corner.  She stopped the moment she saw Niles and Todd, her arms raised he corset enhanced cleavage ever so slightly but neither of the gentlemen noticed because the daggers in her eyes had their full attention.

"You got this."  Todd patted Niles on the shoulder and swiftly bee lined it back the way they had came at a pace somewhere between swift and 'I trained my whole life for this moment'.  The squeaking of his sneakers on the floor were a dimming echos as Niles came to realize that he was finally alone with Nadya.  The real Nadya.  The vengeful, gypsy curse, he'd seen Thinner four times and after tonight sorta believed magic was a thing... Nadya.

"I'm going to go on and assume," he said weakly.  His voice was about as meek and apologetic as one could muster as fear and embarrassment gripped him.  "We're not going to the Halloween party next week?"  Yet still he arched his eyebrow inquisitively with fleeting hope that everything would be okay.

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34 minutes ago, Dave ST said:

This is high school, Rae.  You think these guys are gonna let that go?  Did you even think for a moment how your actions would affect me?" 

 

“Yes...and no. You Billy, are proving to be more complex than I was giving you credit for. And for that I am sorry.” She stepped close and took his hand but didn't hug or kiss him. “If you hadn't of bolted, there wouldn't have been any doubt in anyone's mind who I am with and who I want to be with.

I didn't kiss her because it was hot. I did it because I needed everyone but especially her band to see it. And I needed her to know that if she ever messed with me or us again like she did tonight, that I would kill her.”

Rachel started walking and Billy went along her words registering. “Kill her? As in dead? Really dead” The look on his face was a cross between disbelief and horror. Rachel was slowly steering them toward the Library but she wasn't in a hurry to get there.

“Yes, really dead. Look she was pushing my buttons she came into the locker room before the game and kissed me. MY mind has been so in turmoil over everything lately and one of those things was all of you thinking I was gay. So yeah I was messed up and my mind wasn't on the game, then We go home I tell my dads what I told you and unlike you they don't believe me and then my real dad shows up and sent us here then she did it again felling me up with her freaking ghost hands when we went on the dance floor. All this other stuff going on Then Nadya gets up and sings that song.”

Billy is just walking along his own thoughts in turmoil part wanted to just leave but part the stronger part not wanting to let go of her hand.

Rachel takes a breath then continues “She sang that song and I don't know something in me responded to it. I accepted it and I looked at everything that's happened and you know what I saw? I saw you. You have been there the entire time since school started and you have been my friend and more. I thought I hated you when we were kids but that was just the only way I knew to understand those feelings.

I know what I am, I know what Fisher, and Nadya, and Austin are, what Bridgette is and Donner and those guys. And I know what you are.”

“Wait me?”

“Look Billy, my dad is Thor's brother.”

“I thought Loki was Thor's brother...”

“No.. step uncle but that doesn't matter. We're Aesir we are bound by destiny and fate. And so are you. We have been bound since we were kids. I can't explain it all I don't understand it all but There's some one who can, Mr Syracuse, I'll get him to tell you how it all works.

But what you need to know Is I am my Father daughter, I am Aesir and you are part of my destiny.

And I love you.”

 

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18 hours ago, Dave ST said:

"I'm going to go on and assume," he said weakly.  His voice was about as meek and apologetic as one could muster as fear and embarrassment gripped him.  "We're not going to the Halloween party next week?"  Yet still he arched his eyebrow inquisitively with fleeting hope that everything would be okay.

Nadya glowered at Niles in near disbelief, cocking her head to the side as though to studying him from a different angle. Then she let out a bark of laughter, sharp and hard. "If I'd known you had such a big set of brass ones, I might'nt've said no in the first place, honny. No, we're not going to the Halloween party together, Niles. This is to see if you're still if you're still breathing by then."

Nadya's tone was sweet, playful, but Nile caught one glance of her eyes and found his fleeting hope dashed as bad as a baby thrown in the trash on prom night. He couldn't look away from the cold, pitiless regard he saw in those moonsilver eyes. Nadya wasn't joking. He couldn't see any remorse in them, she could end him, and it wouldn't bother her.

It was the scariest thing he had seen tonight.

"Nadya, I didn't inten-"

"Don't care," Nadya cut him off, ruthlessly. She sashayed closer and Niles backed himself to the wall of lockers. A sashay shouldn't have been able to seem to menacing. "You might be a brain, turdburger, but you really don't seem to understand what you did."

"I was just trying to give us a chance."

"No. You weren't." Niles' back was up against the lockers, and Nadya stepped in close, hemming him in with a hand planted to either side of his slender shoulders. He could feel her warm breath on his face. "I said 'no'. And instead of accepting it or showing a bit of persistence and working to change my mind, you caved at the first chance and forced the issue. With Gods' bedamned magic."

"It wasn't like that, Nadya, I swear. We didn't think it would work," Niles protested weakly, then he straightened his spine with a contrary flair of indignation. "It's not like persistence would have paid off."

"I guess we'll never know. You nuked that option into the ground."

Nadya slammed her palm against a locker, denting it noticeably, then whirled away from Niles, wrapping her arms around herself before she did the same thing to his head. Or took his throat or intestines out with her fang knife. That would be too easy, too merciful for him.

"It was exactly like that, Niles," Nadya continued, her voice low and dark, as she glared down the hallway away from him. "If you really didn't think it had any chance to work, you wouldn't have bothered trying to cast the spell or whatever it was in the first place. If you really didn't want it to work, you'd have broken the enchantment, or at least tried, right away, instead of waiting 'til now."

She turned back to him and sighed, but her hands were still knotted into fists and stuffed into her armpits to stop them from going around his throat. "I've swindled and scammed, stolen and pilfered, and I'll do it again and again. Mostly from those who could afford the lost, or who I thought deserved to be a taught a lesson. But you and bloody Todd, what you did was worse than anything I or even Donner ever did."

Niles almost gagged on the affront. "Eric Donner? That belligerent, bombastic, blustering blatherskite and thug? Worse than him?"

Nadya nodded grimly. "He might beat people up, mock them, and be a general all round asshole, but we've never taken someone's sense of self, taken their volition away from them. First taste of power, and you were so preoccupied if with whether or not you could, you didn’t stop to think if you should."

Niles' swallowed, starting to get a real hint of just how violated Nadya felt. And felt even worse that he had blown it with her. "Did... did you just quote Goldblum in Jurassic Park?"

"I root for the T-Rex." Her brief grin baring a flash of white teeth would have done a velociraptor (movie version, not actual version) proud. "They made her, then locked her in a cage, however big. Everyone deserves their freedom until they do something that truly demands they forfeit it. Stuff is just... stuff, but freedom, and the freedom to be yourself instead of what others want you - demand you - to be, that should be inviolate."

Her gaze intimated that he deserved it, or worse. "What about me?"

"What about you, indeed." Nadya jutted her chin down the hallway. "Come with me."

"Where?" Niles hedged with suspicion and growing dread.

"Don't worry, Niles. I'm not luring out of school into the woods to disembowel you and then bury you in a deep grave."

Niles was hardly reassured. "Well, I wasn't worrying about that until you just said it."

"I'm just going to give you a hint of what it was like for me. Follow me."

"And if I don't?"

"That would completely be your own decision," Nadya gushed with saccharine and false cheer. "Just as my own decision would be stopping pretending to be so nice about this and I drag you after me, minus your kneecaps. Sense of self intact, if not your body."

"Since you put it that way..."

Niles followed. Terrified he might be, he could help but notice that is was very pleasant following Nadya in that dress with those heels.

"You look nice, Nadya. Don't know if I actually told you that."

"I look fantabulous!" Nadya boasted nonchalantly without looking back at him or breaking stride.

Nadya led Niles to the weight room. It was locked, but Nadya did something with one of the animal-headed pins in her hair and the door opened as easily as if she'd used a key. She pointed imperiously at one of the benches. "Sit. There."

Niles glanced at it uncertainly. He was sure he'd never actually ever been in the weight room. It smelled of stale sweat, stale protein powder, and sour testosterone derived from ignoramus meatheadicus. "Here?"

"Yes."

"I don't see-"

Clink! A bare bar rattled onto the rack above the bench.

"I-"

Clink! Clank! Clink! Nadya handled the 45lbs plates with disconcerting ease.

"What will this prove? How are you even-"

"Humor me, Niles. Take a hold of the bar. I'll spot you."

"There's over five hundred pounds on this, Nadya, there's no-"

From laying on the bench, he looked up at her, pass the thrust of her corseted breasts. Her expression brooked no resistance. "I'll spot you. Now, lift."

Niles shivered at the chill of her silvery eyes, then strained at the bar, knowing it would be futile. But then he heard a soft exhalation and the bar and all the weight on it came off the rack. He stared in shock. first at the bar, then the mass of plates on each side, then at Nadya. Tendons stood out in her sleekly toned arms, but it didn't seem like she was straining.

"How?"

"Put some effort into it, Niles. I'm just spotting you, not doing all the lifting for you."

Niles arched his back, huffed and puffed and pushed up at the barbell. But as Nadya supported less of the weight, the bar inexorably sunk lower and lower. Not matter how hard he strained, how much effort he exerted, his arms couldn't resist the mass. The bar came to rest high on his chest, the pressure beginning to grow unbearable, and tears sprang from his eyes as he believed he was going to be crushed.

"I don't know what you want, Nadya," Niles gasped. It was getting hard to breathe. "I... promise... I'll... never... use... a spell... like... that... again..."

"I don't want your promise, Niles," Nadya said unrelentingly, looking down at him. "That would be a string between us that I would have to endure. Why would I want that?" She pursed her lips in exaggerated thought. "You know, I could just let that string snap. Seems like a lot of effort, killing you and then dumping the body. Instead I can just leave you here to be crushed by your own ego and machismo, thinking you were man enough to manage this much weight. Everyone would believe it a terrible accident. Everyone to whom it mattered, anyway."

"...door..." Niles whispered through the pain. He tried to roll the bar down his body or off to the side, but Nadya held it firmly in place.

"What's that? Door? Oh, it won't look tampered with. And when they find you, surprisingly, they'll find Coach Fingers' extra set of keys he keeps in his desk in your pocket."

"... please..."

"Nobody heard my pleas, Niles, not even myself. No matter how loud I shouted or how hard I strained, I couldn't resist the weight of want you sat on me. I could just... let go, and let you deal with this weight yourself. But I do hear your pleas."

With a snort, Nadya lifted the barbell and racked it. Niles bolted up to a seating position, gasping and panting, hands going to his chest. Nadya sat at the foot of the bench, keeping a space between them. She let him collect himself, just watching him expressionlessly until he looked up to face her once more.

"Worried 'bout a Gypsy curse, worry 'bout this!"

Nadya reached out and with a hard thumb, traced a sigil on his forehead. It was complete nonsense. "Bam! Cursed! Next time you try to steal someone's self and will, to slave it to your own, your guts will come sliding out your slashed open taint."

Niles rubbed his forehead then looked as his fingers dubiously. "I don't feel cursed."

"Why would the curse give you a warning?" Nadya's smile was vicious. "You break, and it'll just happen." Nadya shook her head and snorted again, then glanced tiredly at the ceiling. "There's no curse, Niles. I believe in karma and an overall cosmic balance, even if that balance is dynamic... and sometimes needs a helping hand. Maybe you can make up for the vile shit you did, and maybe you can't and you'll be punished for it.

I don't think you actually meant for things to go the way they did, but they did and I can't forgive you for it. Not now. What I can promise is if I get a hint you've done it again, I'll make that curse real. By my own hand, dude, and you won't see it coming."

Niles had no doubt she meant it. He didn't even see the wicked curved knife appear in her hand and make a practice swipe towards his crotch, and he didn't when or how she put it away.

"Be better, boy, and know Dane probably saved your life. Because right now, I really, really want to make the ancient Romani curse of guts-sliding-from-your-taint real."

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22 hours ago, Rachel Cooper said:

“No.. step uncle but that doesn't matter. We're Aesir we are bound by destiny and fate. And so are you. We have been bound since we were kids. I can't explain it all I don't understand it all but There's some one who can, Mr Syracuse, I'll get him to tell you how it all works.  But what you need to know Is I am my father's daughter, I am Aesir and you are part of my destiny, and I love you.”

Billy chuckled a nodded his head.  "It all makes sense.  Rae... she was messing with me all day too.  So?  That's what she does, that how she operates, but you have to brush that crap aside," she still found adorable how Billy rarely, if ever, swore.  "I didn't come here with a ton of problems on my mind, or a chip on my shoulder.  I came here to be with you.  You can't let the things that other... uh, Band?"

Rachel nodded her head to assure he'd gotten the terminology correct.

"Say and do affect how you think, Rae.  It's like playing a big game or... trying to get over anger issues," he smiled at her, noting that he was talking about himself.  "Rae, she didn't mess up your game, or your night, or any of that.  You did.  You basically gave her the keys to your head and let her move in and live rent free.  I'm not trying to preach, I'm just saying... you don't have to handle things like that.  Come to me, to any of us.  We've got your back and... well, we love you too."

He leaned in and kissed her gently.  "I love love you too."

He pulled away and smiled.  "Now, I've been through quite a lot today.  From weird Irish ladies to strange magical stores to Fate and destiny... and while I understand none of it, I do know that you went through way too much crap today to end up looking that gorgeous only to end up spending all your time in the hallway bickering with your incredibly hot, super understanding, and not to mention incredibly hot boyfriend."

"Incredibly hot, huh?"  She tried to hold in a smirk.

"Oh, totally," he nodded.  "I mean come on, I look like should be in one of those vampire teen dramas on CW or something with some cheesy name like Stefan or something."

Rachel glared at him, still holding back a smirk as best she could.

"Okay, fine!  I'm totally watching The Vampire Diaries.  I'm on Season 2 and it's a little addicting... there, my secret is out, now can we get back to the dance please?"  He pleaded as Rachel laughed.

---===[***]===---

Nadya had moved on and Niles had been sitting silently weeping to himself for the better of gods-only-knew-how-long.  He was a 'man' of science of science, if Nadya only knew that all he wanted to do was cancel the effect once his scientific brain had wrapped around the idea that magic.  He had to think that again... magic, just to remind himself that he wasn't crazy, had actually worked... but Nadya wasn't going to listen to him.  Ever.

"There is always a price, Mr. Horne."  The calm tone of Mr. Syracuse gave Niles's head a reason to rise from his knees and look in the doorway where the librarian leaned against the frame.

"W-what?"  He managed a very robust sniffle through his mumbled words.

"A price,"  the librarian-god entered the room, polishing his glasses microfiber cloth.  "Magic always comes with a price.  Even for gods.  However, what would you say to my being able to fix all of this?  Hm?  It's well within my ability to remove Nadya's disdain for you.  Erase a few ill mannered deeds from your record and we can simply go back to the way things were before you mistakenly cast your spell a few days ago?  Won't take me but a moment."

"I would say a week ago I didn't believe magic was even a thing," he sniffled again, then straightened and stood up to stand before Mr. Syracuse.  "I would say I don't get why you say 'even for gods' and would most certainly say 'no'.  I don't know what's going on, but old guys offering me magical favors really hasn't been taking me on a ride up the incline of success lately.  Besides, I promised Nadya I would not use magic like that again, be it mine or from anyone else.  If I'm going to show her that I'm not the monster she thinks I am, then that work has to come from me, no short cuts.  I'm sorry, but I'm done with magic."  He threw his arms up in a half shrug of realization of what he said.  "I-I can't believe I actually just said that.  Th-this spits in the face of all the physics homework I've done.  My scholarship and major in mathematics and engineering are so in question right now.  I don't even know what to do, I can't even right now."

Archimedes smiled at the young boy whose mind looked like it was about to snap.  It had been several mortal ages since anyone had been able to lie to Archimedes, and today his streak for sniffing out liars was still unbroken.  Niles meant every word he said.  Under his colossal mistake was a young man whose heart and intentions were as pure as could be.  He just needed guidance.  "Well done, Mr. Horne.  Come with me.  No magic, no tricks.  There's someone I'd like you to meet."

---===[***]===---

"Well done, Mr. Algar," Evelyn paced about the library.  The Celtic demigod wasn't the cherriest of company, but when it came to sorcery she knew her stuff.  Her raven hair was pulled back tightly into a perfect ponytail with not a single strand out of place.  "You're technique is terrible, but that is learned with practice, not preaching.  Your understanding, however, that is what I'm impressed with.  Understanding magic is the key to mastering it.  Like war: any fool can fight, but why are they fighting?"

Her thought was cut short as Mr. Syracuse entered the library, followed by one very confused and puffy eyed Niles Horne.  "Well, there's a question for the ages, now isn't it?  Evelyn, Niles Horne, the source of this weeks magic gone awry."

Her eyes narrowed at the sight of Niles.  "So this is the boy who stripped a young woman of her free will and turned her into his little pleasure doll?"  The room darkened slightly and Grimsley looked about the room as the faint cawing of corvids could be heard in the background of library's hidden corners and shadowy isles.  Niles, out of sheer fear, took a few steps back.  "Do tell, Archimedes, I'm all aquiver with disgust.  Why am I not flaying this pathetic little rodent where he stands?"  Her eyes blackend as if someone had injected ink into them.

"Because I remember a young lady who once, with no knowledge of what she was capable of, cause far more harm than this boy did."  The reply was calm and sincere, enough so that Evelyn relaxed and the room returned to normal.  "He's a fool, that much is certain.  Ignorant of most things and certainly lacking in bravery, competency and heroism-"

"I'm right here, you know!" Niles finally spoke up.  Grim was still as the table reading the book Evelyn had brought for him, but the antics forced a thin smirk of amusement.

"Guide him.  Help him to understand."  Archimedes motioned to the boy.  "As I did for you."

"Fine," she snarled at Niles then gripped his face, her long, black stiletto nails painfully pressed against his cheeks as she turned his head from left to right, examining him.  "You will learn, Niles Horne.  Or I will break you.  I will make you a man, or you will die in my attempt.  Go sit by Grimsley, now."

Niles scurried over as fast he could and sat next to Grim... a bit too close to Grim.  Archimedes leaned in and softly whispered.  "A bit much, don't you think?"

Evelyn's black lips shown a thin razor-line smirk.  "Oh come on, it's been years since I've had this much fun.  Besides, after what he did to the poor Nadya girl, he's lucky I don't make his entrails slide through his perineum."

"Hi," Niles thrust a hand in the face of Grimsley while their 'adult supervision' were quietly whispering.  "I'm Niles.  A-apprentice sorcerer I suppose.  Were you expecting more Hoggwarts and less school library too?  So, what are you reading?  Incantations?  Enchantments?  Uh... s-summoning rituals?"

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Fisher was glad to get away from this mess now and leave lingering concerns behind, at least for a bit. He got back to the dance floor to find the room abuzz, for whatever reason. Darcy was right where he left her, mouth pursed with disapproval. Fisher winced and sidled up beside her. "Hey. I'm sorry it took a bit. It was pretty serious stuff though." Darcy's mouth softened as she met the eyes of her boyfriend. "Did you make out with Bridgette in front of the whole school and embarrass me in the process?"

Fisher blinked at that oddly specific question. "No."

Darcy rested her hand on his shoulder. "Then I'm cool with you. ...But not Rachel." She muttered in an aside. Billy was a friend of hers after all, and what gives with Rachel pulling that on him like that? Fisher was once again confused. "What did she do?" Darcy gave him a deadpan look. "You didn't, she did."

A fatal exception has occurred. Fisher.exe has crashed. Reboot Y/N?

"Rachel kissed Bridgette." Fisher repeated slowly, making sure he understood this latest sin of the Band's leader properly. "Yes," Darcy assured him frankly, "straight on the lips." Honestly, she wanted to kiss Fisher on the lips, his dumbfounded look was so adorable. "And," Fisher added, giving an incredulous and suspicious look towards Bridgette who was still in the dance hall, "And Rachel wasn't audibly saying 'You broke my heart, Bridgette, you broke my heart'?" The kiss of death would make sense.

Sadly, Darcy was to take it from him. "No Godfather stunt. Oh, good pun."

"Unintended." Fisher replied before looking into the palm-lines of his hand at point-blank range for guidance.

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10 hours ago, Dave ST said:

"Hi," Niles thrust a hand in the face of Grimsley while their 'adult supervision' were quietly whispering.  "I'm Niles.  A-apprentice sorcerer I suppose.  Were you expecting more Hoggwarts and less school library too?  So, what are you reading?  Incantations?  Enchantments?  Uh... s-summoning rituals?"

The tousled dark head didn't move as Niles sat close, bent as it was over a notebook on which were drawn a number of weird-looking symbols the other boy seemed to be copying from a page of a tome open before him.  It seemed to be an exercise in repetition, each rune being drawn ten times, the movements of the charcoal stub slow and sure as they drew the heavy straight lines of the current rune for the tenth time.

Runic_letter_ansuz.png

As Niles shoved his hand towards him, Grim sighed and straightened up in his seat before turning his gaze on the out-of-his-depth mortal.  Niles flinched slightly: though the other boy was scarcely imposing at first glance when his attention was turned towards you suddenly you felt the weight of his personality, an old soul made older by experience despite his age.  One eye was brilliant, vibrant green, the other a pale grey-blue.  A long thin scar bisected the brow of the pale eye, then continued an inch or below the eye on his cheek.  Flesh was sparse on the boy, the bones of his face under the taut skin giving him a haggard appearance made more so by the straight line of his mouth that looked as though it never smiled.  Dark hair fell to his shoulders - clean, but carelessly finger-combed without thought of appearance.  All of his clothing, from the sneakers to the jeans to the hooded sweatshirt, possessed a faded, frayed and hand-me-down air.

There was a long silence as Grim wiped charcoal from his scarred fingers, his mismatched gaze studying Niles intently before taking the proffered hand, giving it a single shake before letting go.

"Grimsley."  Was all he said to introduce himself.  Niles shuffled away a little - although Grimsley wasn't hostile, per se, he emanated a sense of personal space that the self-proclaimed apprentice sorcerer could palpably feel.  As he did so, Grim relaxed a tiny bit.  "And I am studying the Futhark."  Pale eye and green eye narrowed slightly, a glint of something in their depths.  "So how did you become an 'apprentice sorcerer', Niles?  After all, to be an apprentice one must be studying under a master.  You must have done something singular to attract the attentions of a master sorcerer." 

Niles could feel the air quotes dropping around the title he'd given and winced slightly.  There was curiousity in the question, but there was also a dry amusement at his expense as though this Grimsley knew that Niles had messed up.  And why shouldn't he?  Mr Syracuse had hardly been hushed about it when he'd brought Niles into the library. The odd-coloured eyes studied Niles' face, measuring his response.

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"Oh, uh, I uh... well I screwed up."  Niles admitted honestly.  "I didn't believe in magic, and there was this girl I liked... so a friend and I we, uh... you know just joking around, like playing a Ouija Board or something, you don't expect it to actually work.  Well, it did, and I've spent the last few trying to fix it, and well, we fixed it.  She knows what I did though and... she hates me as you may have reasoned by now."

He pushed his glasses up on his nose.  "I don't blame her, to be honest.  Accident or no, I still royally screwed the pooch on this one.  I'll never be able to fix it with her.  She's lost to me forever.  So, is this some secret school for wizards no one is supposed to know about?"

"Quite the contrary, Mr. Horne,"  Achimedes's posh accent still seemed off to Grim, knowing Archie was actually Greek.  He approached, a small book cradled at his side tucked in his hand.  "You, like Mr. Algar benefit from a similar gift, but it is not magic, it's divinity.  You're a demigod."

"Like Percy Jackson?"  Niles asked as Grim hid a smile in his work.

Archie sigh and reached into his pocket, producing a five dollar bill that was slapped begrudgingly into Evelyn's greedy palm.  "Who is this kid I keep hearing about?"

"For a librarian you should read more." Evelyn smirked, tucking the bill in the back pocket of her black denim jeans.

"Yes, be that as it may, Niles you are descended from the gods and that comes with certain gifts.  Magic in this case, is one of them, and since it has a tendency to be abused by Scions from time to time, I wanted those with the gift brought to me for a bit of screening."  He looked to Evelyn.  "That way we don't end up with tragedies."

"What?"  She shrugged, disavowing any responsibility for anything Archimedes may have been eluding at.  "It was a nasty divorce, what can I say?"  She looked at Grimsley, smiled like a mischievous co-conspirator and shot him a wink.  "One smallpox outbreak and they never let you forget it."

"That aside," continued the God in the room.  "Your mother could't make it herself, she's very busy tending to other matters.  I her stead I have been asked to fill you in and bring you, what's the phrase?  Up to speed."

---===[***]===---

The cavern was open and spacious. Within it's center was a simple carving on the unnaturally smooth, flat disc of black marble veined with silver. The disc was impervious to all harm and no matter how many times he and his crew had struck it with tools mortal or divine, it hadn't shown a single sign of being marred or chipped. Marius flipped through the pages of the Nekyia scanning each pages runes, symbols and diagrams for something, anything that might assist him with bypassing the glyphs on the black disc. The sound of footsteps on the solid stone cavern floor gave him reason to raise his had from his studies.

“The boy, worked better than anticipated,” came soft alluring tones from a voice he recognized. “Despite the foolish children arriving and almost mucking up the whole affair. We almost didn't make it through.  I'll admit Marius, I didn't believe you would hold up your end of the bargain.”

The demigod of chaos slid a few rogue strands of hair from his eyes and looked through the shadows of the cavern. A look of mournful sorrow took hold of his expression when he saw who he was addressing. “I agreed to provide you with vessels,” he motioned to the wall where three young women were bound, gagged and chained like some medieval dungeon. “This isn't what we agreed, get out of there and use the one's I've provided. We have work to do. I brought you here to break the seal, so quit screwing around and get in the vessels I've provided.”

“Afraid not,” cooed the witch as she approached from the shadows and stepped into the light of the of the cavern. She traced manicured fingers up her perfect frame.  “It's a one time hop, we leave and it's back to the underworld for us, so no, I think we'll be staying in these bodies for... well, ever.” Mercedes's, Porche's and Acadia's eyes shimmered with a soft green glow. “Now, do you want that seal broken, or do you want to bicker?”

His breathing was heavy as he contained the growing irritation and anger he was feeling for the situation. It was a great sacrifice, but in any great conflict sacrifices had to be made. “Do it.”

Mercedes looked over at the young vessels chained to the walls and her grin became predatory and evil, even for Mercedes. “We'll need blood.”

---===[***]===---

So, what really happened at Rachel's house?  Well, a few hours ago...

“Dads, you have both always been honest with me about everything and taught me to be honest and always tell the truth.”

“Oh god your pregnant...” Michael said, already beginning the process of rubbing the bridge of his nose.

“No!” Rachel cut him off, trying to get them to just listen to her for once. “Just listen, please. You two are my dads. You will always be my dads for as long as I live. Every since this summer I have been hiding some thing from you two, I hid it because it was supposed to be for your safety and because I wasn't supposed to tell you. But you have a right to know and I can't be myself by keeping things hidden from the people I love.”

“Who told you you couldn't tell us,” asked Robert.

“My real dad. I met him this summer and I need to tell you about it.”

Rachel began to tell her dads what she had told Billy this afternoon but as she did so, the doorbell rang. Robert asked his daughter to hold that thought as he stood up to get it. Fearign it might be her date and she hadn't quite gotten to that part in her plea for going to the dance, Rachel spun about with all the grace of her football coaching and was already intercepting the path to the door. “I got it, no biggie, I'm already up.”

She swung open the door expecting to see her boyfriend, Billy there early, but expecting a romantic time at the dance. It was perfect, together they could whine and argue until they eventually got their way... and neither were against such tactics when it came to spending time together. It wasn't Billy, however.

“Oh, shit.” She mumbled under her breath as flame of a lighter lit a cigarette and illuminated the face of the last man she expected to ever see on her doorstep.

“Rachel, is everything okay?” Michael stood from his chair and approached the door as Rachel backed away slowly. Rachel feared nothing, or so most thought, but her father, her real father... she feared him like one feared a force of nature. People didn't stand in front of tornadoes and throw punches at them, it's a tornado. It doesn't care how strong you think you are, it will lift you up and cast you aside with no consideration as to who or what you thought you were. He was a God, it was only common sense to feel her innards tighten up when he appeared on her doorstep.

Mads.jpg

Go to your dance, Taryn,” Vidar stepped through her threshold, inviting himself in. Vidar. The God of Vengeance just walked through her door! “It's time your fathers and I come to an understanding.”  His accent was so... Norse.

I'm thinking it might be best if...” All three men in the room looked at her, giving her the 'your dad just asked you to do something' look. “Okay, okay... Jesus...” Rachel didn't want to but she thought it best to leave. She slowly closed the door to her home trying to hear as much as possible before she had to accept she wasn't welcome to hear the conversation.

Decent guy. Not the son of God though,” Vidar said calmly as he blew a plume of smoke into the air. “You've a good home, very nice. I am Vidar, Son of Odin and my daughter Taryn has already told you too much. She speaks highly of the two of you.  What is said is said, however, so sit and I will tell you myself.”

Vidar sat in Michael's recliner, since he wasn't using it at the moment. As he sat Robert shook his head in absolute awe at the audacity of this man. “Look, 'Son of Odin',” he air quoted with mocking derision. “We don't know who you are, or think you are, but if you are Rachel's true father then there are tests, and documentation involved. You will not just walk into her life and make a claim you have no means of backing up. Now, we don't want this to get ugly, but if you-”

I said sit,” repeated the god. He was still calm but his tone made it clear that he was not a man used to making requests so much as stating expectations.

Robert sat down. Micheal did as well.

You have done well at raising my, daughter. Pardon, our daughter.  Everything she is today is because of you and I shan't rob you of that glory.  She is strong, brave, kind. She is a leader and a warrior. I respect your efforts, which is why I came personally to lift this burden from her shoulders. You see, unlike you I am not a good father, I never have been. She is the only of my children in centuries to not yet go mad or rebel against me.” He bounced the two fingers clasping his cigarette at the gentleman as he formulated his next words. “You've done well. Which is why I have decided to allow you to keep raising her, but before I do, there are things you must know. Now, listen, for I have a story to tell you. Since the dawn of man, the Gods have involved themselves in the affairs of humankind—and in affairs with humankind...”

And so, for the first time in generations, Vidar, the God of Vengeance, sat with mortals and told them a tale that would change their lives forever.

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"Welcome to the club."  Grim said to Niles in a tone so dry it should have had an olive and a twist of lemon peel floating in it.  Turning back to his notebook, he gently blew stray charcoal dust from the pages before closing the cheap spiral-bound covers and tucking the notebook into a pocket of the large duster currently adorning the back of his chair.  Hands scarred as though with a multitude of razor cuts lifted the tome he'd been studying as the son of Odin got comfortable, hair falling forward as he slid down in his seat in a reader's slouch.

To all intents and purposes, Grim seemed disinterested in the conversation.  Okay, that wasn't entirely true - of course he was curious about who Niles had for an absentee parent - but on the other hand he wasn't going to sit around waiting for revelation.  Niles and Archie were right there speaking, and so Grim would overhear unless they took the conversation elsewhere.  His apparent disinterest served two purposes: it withdrew him from the immediate circle of the conversation, thus making it more likely he'd overhear something interesting, and it also let him carry on studying.

Evelyn had discovered happily early in her tutoring that Grim, although rudimentary in technique and limited in knowledge, had a good understanding of what magic was and when it should be employed.  An innate wisdom, one might say.  He knew it was not a frivolous collection of charms or enchantments, but was rather tampering with the thread of the Norns themselves.  It was a 'big gun' and should be treated like any loaded firearm, in his opinion.  Not that he didn't appreciate it's uses for personal gratification, merely that he understood there were consequences for doing so, and the greater the meddling on the loom of fate, the greater the consequences.

He felt a certain distaste for the actions Niles had taken: using seidr to ensnare a woman's heart for personal gratification seemed... low.  A debasement of the gift.  Not that Grim would never see himself employing magic to sway people's emotions, rather that he hoped his motivations wouldn't simply be hormonal but rather towards some greater goal.  But he filed the lesson of Niles away in his mind - whether he believed in magic or not, Niles had coveted the girl he had enchanted with no thought to her own free will and so the spell, once ended, had ensured her enmity and disdain.  Tugging carelessly one way on the skein of the Norns could easily have the opposite effect further down the line.

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Having left Todd and Niles to their Fates, Austin made his way back to Yokiko.     The quiet Japanese girl had gone to check on her own Bandmates.   For Austin to leave was obviously something major, it was clear to her he absolutely hadn't wanted to leave her.   The scene with Bridgette and Rachel had everyone talking, the murmuring could even be heard with the music blaring.   Though the dance continued, it seemed most were still reliving that moment.   

She withdrew from the midst of the crowd, back to the edge, where it was easier to keep watch over things, and saw Austin's return.   The young scion of Poseidon saw her, and smiled.   He made his way to her, not on some crowd parting straight line, but as close to it as could be done.  

Austin was still aching from stopping the ritual, but hey, they'd mostly won, right?  The idiots were alive for the moment, and could possibly learn from this,  So that was a win.   Sure, he knew something had happened to Fisher, and he'd got zapped, but they both endured, and were able to come back to the dance.  As he moved to stand beside her, he smiled again, though his eyes seemed to show a hint of pain, and his happiness to be back.

"I trust your "Band Business" is done?"  She asked quietly.

"My part in it for tonight is, as far as I'm concerned."   Her hand slid into his, and Austin too her hand gently.   

"Good, you promised to make this a night to remember, and I will hold you to that."   She smiled up to him.

"There's still plenty of time to dance the night away together, shall we pick up where we left off?"    Her own smile in place, she nodded, and allowed him to lead her back out to the dance floor.   That warm touch of her hand in his enough to make him forget about the pain from earlier, and it was evident he was happy to be back there with her, and that she was happy that he'd returned to her.
 

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At precisely the same moment that Fisher's hand struck his forehead, he heard his name above the din. It didn't have quite the same emotional impact as when Darcy called out to him, but he would have been hard-pressed to imagine another voice that could make two syllables sound quite so melodic.

 

"Fisher!" Laurie called, catching up to him just as he made it back to his adorkable girlfriend... Who, Laurie decided after giving the young woman a quick glance as she approached the pair with an apologetic smile, could probably do better. "Are you, ah, all right? Rachel asked me to go check on you, but things got a bit hectic in here and I wasn't sure where you'd gone." She paused for a moment, blue eyes widening slightly as she really looked at him. "You're not all right, are you?" she murmured, lines of concern appearing between her brows as they knit together. The young daughter of Apollo glanced back over her shoulder, where her date was probably doing something she'd come to regret, and then back at Fisher again.

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Fisher raised his head up to meet Laurie and then made a snap decision. "I'm all right. As much as I can be right now." With the palpable lack of Nadya present, Fisher presumed the spell had broken as promised and now their Romani member had gone to exact her pound (or a hundred) of flesh from Niles. Fisher did not pity him. "Everything's taken care of." Fisher couldn't bring himself to drag down her evening.

Further, that is, as she had taken Eric Donner as a date, so it was by definition bad enough already.

"We're gonna have to have a Band meeting about it tomorrow anyway."

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Rachel was amazed by Billy, by his acceptance of things he couldn't possibly understand, by his ability to forgive, by his loyalty and his love. She let him lead her back to the dance and the thousand stares and the four or five glares and she ignored them all. She focused all of herself on Billy. This was his moment and she was going to spend it with him and woe be to the person or thing that got between them for the rest of this night.

Whether by design or fate when they got to the dance floor the music had shifted to a slow romantic tempo and she sunk into his arms and they danced, his hands on her waist her head on his shoulder. It was perfect. Oh she knew they were doomed, their love couldn't possibly survive, if it could it would have been in the sagas written into the skein of things to come. But that was all the more reason to grab and hold on to what they could have now, hold it for as long as she could and give whatever horrible thing the norns had in store for them the fight of their lives.

She, they, may not have been mentioned in the sagas, how could they have been they hadn't been born yet. But their legend would be in the next volume.

She, Rachel Cooper, Taryn Vidarsdottir, would make godsdammed sure of that. For all of them.

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Nadya stalked through the hallways of Salem High, still bristling in the aftermath of her encounter with Niles. She writhed in fury and shame and not a little terror at having her mind taken from her, hate at what had been done to her, thought the hate at Niles was beginning to fade, despite her wants. There just hadn't been anything in Niles to hang the hate on beyond the act itself. He hadn't bleated out any justifications, there hadn't been a hint of gloating or boasting in subverting her desires, he hadn't even taken a bit of advantage of the situation... and that somehow was infuriating too.

As she walked, she trailed her hand along the walls of lockers, fingers giving each combination lock a hard flick in passing. When she reached the gym, she paused outside, peeking through the narrow, wire-mesh windows in the doors. Her smile was bittersweet. Dane was in his element on stage. Rachel, Austin, and Fisher seemed to be having a fine time with their SOs, as was Laurie with whatever the hells Donner was to her.

Normally, the embarrassment of being a fifth - or ninth in this case - wheel would just slide off her as easily as the habitual accusation thrown her way. But not tonight. Besides, with how she felt at the moment, she couldn't deal with Mercedes and her flunkazons crowing about how a slut like her couldn't even keep a boy like Niles interested enough in her that he ditched her at the Dance. One snide word and she'd do something... drastic.

As exhilarating and stress-relieving that would be, it would probably wreck the Dance and the evening. Regardless of what had happened to her, her friends deserved better. Nadya left the school, her steps eerily silent as she strutted with nonchalant circumspection to her car. She put on her longcoat against the rising chill of night, though left it open, and slipped in behind the wheel.

The engine of lemon-yellow '71 Mercury Cougar purred to life - or at least gave a disgruntled chuff of animation. Nadya peeled out of the lot with more speed than necessary, not even sure where she was going. Not home, not yet. Her stomach grumbled as she was passing by the Salem House of Pizza, and she slewed across the oncoming lane and zipped into the small parking lot of the restaurant and pizzeria, beating another furiously honking car to a spot right by the front doors.

The door gave a little ding-a-ling as Nadya strode in and the guy - Guy, his name happened to be - manning the cash register looked up with a start. At this time of night, they weren't slammed despite their football victory, but business was still brisk, but the young woman walking towards him was certainly an incongruous sight. Dressed for prom by way of The Nightmare Before Christmas, she was gorgeous, impressively uplifted breasts not concealed by her open coat and so very out of place against the yellow walls and the orange extruded plastic of the bench seats and tables.

"Are you here to order or for pickup," Guy asked after pulling his eyes from her stilettos and sleekly toned, pale leg glimpsed between folds of her charcoal grey longcoat.

"Order. I need carnage. Can do you do that for me, Guy? An extra large, pile high with carnage?"

"How... how do you know my name?" Was she a witch? More importantly, was she legal? Guy would have remembered ever meeting this girl before, though oddly, he thought she looked vaguely familiar.

"I'm a witch, Guy. Left my broomstick in the car." At his expression, Nadya sighed, arched a brow, then pointed a finger gun at the left side of his chest. "Name badge, dude. Now about that carnage pizza?"

"Oh, oh! Right. One meat lover's deluxe, that sound good?"

"Double the carnage - that is, double the meat on it - and we have a deal."

Guy nodded, brows raising impressed. The young woman wasn't particularly big, but she ordered what he and his buds often ordered. And he had to admit, there was something... carnivorous about her grey eyes. "One Meat Lover's, double carnage, coming right up, miss. It'll be about twenty minutes."

When he told her how much it would cost, Nadya unconsciously eyed the tip jar, before shaking her head and pulling the needed cash from her wallet - her own actual wallet, even. He and his colleagues worked for those tips, and hopefully the manager or owner didn't swipe the tips from them. She forgotten to get a drink, but when she went to pay for two-liter bottle of pop she'd grabbed from the fridge, Guy waved her off with a grin, after a quick look over his shoulder to see if anyone was watching.

Stepping out of the Salem House of Pizza with another light ding-a-ling, extra-large pizza in one hand, bottle of pop in the other, Nadya felt stupid. This was way too much pizza for her, and she didn't have anyone to share it with, and not enough to share if she went back to the Dance. Then she thought of someone else who was alone tonight, and who wouldn't mind finishing off a meat pizza with her.

Several minutes later, Nadya pulled her car in behind the old Carlton Stables. Before she even opened the door, Wolf was bounding out to meet her. Nadya laughed giving her a hug, and scratching her behind the ears. It was a good thing she was stronger than she looked, otherwise Wolf would have knocked her on her ass.

"Gods above and below, Wolfy, you're getting big," Nadya crooned. She would have changed out of her stilettos, but with Evelyn's fairygodmother trick, she wasn't sure what would happen to her original pair of shoes if she took them off. "Give me a bit to set up, and then I have a treat for you."

Wolf cocked her head to the side, tongue lolling out, then cocked it the other way. Nadya ruffled the soft fur between her ears, then got moving, Wolf trotting along behind her. Nadya got a fire going in the ring of stones, then dragged out a reclining lawn chair and a heavy, somewhat musky down blanket from the stable.

Then she got the pizza from the car. She cut off the top of the box to use as a plate and claimed three pieces of pizza for herself and gave the rest to Wolf. With the crackling fire and thick comforter, Nadya was warm against the rising chill of night and the season.

She laid back on the lawn chair, gazing up at the silver-white of the moon and the deep shadows of the clouds. The surrounding trees rustled and rattled in the evening breeze, and Nadya almost could make out words in the sound. She might have the blood of a Goddess in her veins, but she felt anything but godly at the moment. She just felt like a trite refugee from any number of CW dramas.

She wished she had something stronger than soda at hand.

"Don't tell anyone I gave you people-food, 'kay, Wolf?" Nadya said. Wolf raised her head from the pizza box, more than half her share of pizza already gone to stare at Nadya. Nadya turned her and gazed back, a small grin tugging at her lips. Wolf went back to the pizza, chewing and chomping with gusto.

"Yeah, didn't think you would. Well, this day went to shit. And it all start awesome. Or at least, I was made to think it had. Let me tell you about it, then we can sit here until whichever number of gods start pulling the sun across the sky again - Mr. S. could tell us, would probably expect us to know already."

And Nadya began to talk, expressing her anger and melancholy and contradictory feelings to Wolf, who listened in benign - or perhaps resigned - silence. Except for one sound, drawn out and strained on the edge of audibility.

Nadya stared at Wolf, face twisted in repugnant distress. "Dear gods! Wolf, was that you?!"

Wolf seemed contrite, slinking away from the empty pizza box, and laying down on Nadya's other side, a paw over her snout. One of Wolf's ears twitched in apparently apology, unless it was wilting under the atrocious reek.

"I don't mind sneaking you people-food, Wolfy. But cheese is off-limits. Ugh. I think I need a hazmat-suit."

 

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