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About Maya Flynn

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  1. "One roast beef on garlic bread, add lettuce and tomato, fries on the side for here, please, with a water, and a dozen mini knishes to go. Thanks." Ahhh, Pastrami Queen. Twenty bucks for a sandwich wasn't ordinarily within Maya's budget but considering the week she'd had, it was either going to get spent on lunch or boxed wine- and since they didn't make straws big enough for the latter, she'd just go with the roast beef instead. As she waited on her food, the off-duty librarian leaned against the wall, watching people pass on the sidewalk outside and surreptitiously glancing at the few other diners crammed into the tiny deli. Normally there'd be conversation, right? Even just commentary on the tongue or the egg salad or the Matzoh ball soup, all of which were pretty solid here. New Yorkers were notoriously chatty about food- asking someone about their favorite burger or the best place to get soup dumplings was the easiest way to strike up a conversation with a good-looking stranger. But... Nothing. They just sat in solemn silence, mechanically chewing what was arguably some of the best pastrami on the East Side, occasionally poking at their phone screens. In its way, the weirdly subdued atmosphere was even creepier than the haunted books at the library or the freaky/sexy dream she'd had of SoHo Salome. "Order up!" The clerk at the counter glared pointedly at her, then disappeared back into the kitchen. Oh, well. Good food didn't always mean good service, and at the rate things were going, she should probably just be grateful she'd been served at all. She grabbed the one empty table against the back wall and eagerly started to dig in to the monstrous sandwich- then paused, cautiously checking under the bread for any unpleasant surprises, because it would be just her luck to find half a spider or something after the first bite. Reasonably satisfied there was nothing untoward lurking in the lettuce, Maya set about the serious business of devouring what was likely to be ninety-percent of the sum total of her caloric intake for the day. Park Avenue was going to be a nightmare, she decided, taking a long pull from her water bottle. She could take 77th over to Madison, and then up to 78th, but it was... What time was it? Swallowing a mouthful of gloriously salty fries, she checked her phone and instantly pulled the face her mother had always warned her would stick if she wasn't careful. Great. So, another 20 minutes or so to Lady M's for the cake, then down to Tribeca to her sister's place, which was almost another hour. Perfect. Absolutely perfect. It was not, of course, absolutely perfect, as Maya's inborn sense of irony had already suggested. "I'm sorry, it's how much? Did you just say this cake is a hundred dollars?" Half an hour after leaving the deli, the tall, dark-eyed woman stared at a tiny blonde behind the polished counter of the upscale pâtisserie. Between them sat a neat white cake box tied with a crisp blue ribbon. It wasn't even particularly large, from the looks of the packaging. Just your normal, average, could've-bought-it-from-Trader-Joe's-sized cake. "$103.43 after tax. Yes," the little porcelain princess chirped with saccharine precision. "And how will you be paying for that today?" "For a cake," Maya repeated. "No, for our new, limited edition 'Slice of the Best' mille crepes. Now will that be cash, or charge?" "Let me get this straight. My little sister ordered a hundred dollar stack of pancakes?" she asked, unable to keep the rising note of incredulity out of her voice. She had given up her day off for crepes. Freaking pancakes. She was rearranging her life so that her sister could feed her dinner guests fancy breakfast for dessert. The thin, taut smile of the cashier suggested that she, too, would rather not be having this conversation right now, but propriety dictated that both of them maintain some thin veneer of civility. "...I swear to god, Tisha, you better have cash. in. hand. when I get there," the long-suffering older sister muttered under her breath as she pulled out her debit card.
  2. The universe hated her. That was the only reasonable explanation. Maya shook her head as she waited at the crosswalk of E 77th and 1st Ave, staring at the light on the opposite side and trying to ignore the sullen faces of the people crowded around her. Next time Colleen, or, hell, any of the kids’ parents from the library tried to do something nice for her, she was just going to politely decline. Especially if it was an invitation to a party, and especially if it seemed like a good chance to get out and enjoy herself for a little bit. Because, apparently, whatever cosmic jerk had written out the plan for her life had decided that having a good time wasn’t allowed. The day after the creepy dream she’d had about the woman from the gala being in her apartment, she’d lost her debit card. Totally screwed. The absolute best part, though, was that she didn’t find out until she’d gone to lunch that afternoon, and wouldn’t you just know it? Her ex Nate happened to also be getting lunch there. What a coincidence! Sure, he offered to pay for the sandwich she’d ordered (and she let him, obviously, because it was nice to eat once in a while), but then she had to listen to Fuckboy Supreme go on for nearly an hour with his pseudo-intellectual nonsense about Kant’s ideas on race and disability being totally misrepresented as ‘problematic’ when really he was just a man of his time and unfairly held to account for modern sensibilities… And was she free on Friday? ‘Cause, y’know. Kind of a dry spell. Yeah. She knew. In Nate’s case, she just also didn’t care. The day after that? Her bike chain had broken in the middle of morning rush, for no discernible reason whatsoever, and she’d ripped the hem of her slacks on the pedal. That was a real delight, a happy little two-for-one bonus. Even after she’d gotten to work, things didn’t get much better; one of the regular kids had been sick upstairs, and came down crying her eyes out because she was so upset. It wasn’t Grace’s fault, obviously, but it was just… one of those things. It took forever to clean up, especially because Lorraine couldn’t seem to keep her narrow ass parked at the circulation desk, so Maya had been forced to keep running downstairs to help the patrons, and it was- she shuddered at the memory- weirdly sludgey. It had been weeks since she’d been able to hang out with Mason, drink a bottle of something local, and work on storyboards for “Greetings From Black Lake,” so obviously Tisha would call on her one day off to have her pick up the cake for some stupid dinner thing she and Mr. Perfect were hosting. What kind of spoiled brat bullshit was that? They both had cars, and it’s not like Leticia actually worked, so there was no reason she couldn’t- “You gonna fuckin’ move, or what?” a surly, lumpy woman in an ugly green coat snarled at her, jostling her out of the way. Maya sucked in a sharp breath as a hundred different flavors of vitriol mingled on her tongue- but instead of loosing it, she bit it and lowered her head, pushing her bike through the crowd with the silent, seething fury of a woman who was just. fucking. done.
  3. The paint is flaking. That was Maya's first coherent thought as her eyes focused on the ceiling overhead. The pressed tin (Or copper? Maybe it was copper. They used that, too, didn't they?) squares, originally painted a pristine white to make the apartment look brighter and newer than it really was, were starting to look a bit patchy in the sunlight spilling through her windows. Dazedly, she made a mental note to call maintenance as she sat up and immediately grimaced, regretting the decision to attempt anything resembling verticality. It had been a while since she'd dreamed that vividly, and the last time it happened her brain had conjured up a troll, and a... whatever a 'pooka' was. It had also been a while since she'd had quite so much to drink, and with a half-groan, half-whine of regret, the young assistant librarian pushed herself off the couch and shuffled desultorily to the bathroom for a shower. Shower first. Tea... Toast, maybe? She wrinkled her nose at the idea of food, but part of feeling more like a functional human being was eating, apparently, and she did still have some of that rhubarb butter with cardamom she'd picked up at the greenmarket. Speaking of breakfast... "Sully," she called a few minutes later as she wrapped a towel around herself and padded barefoot down the hall, wincing as the sound of her own voice reverberated painfully in her ears. "You hungry?" Thud. "Guess so." The enormous Maine Coon stalked into the open kitchen, yellow eyes luminous amid the smoky grey of his fur, and stared up at his bipedal servant expectantly. "What would his highness like this morning, hm? Tuna, chicken, or turkey?" The long-limbed bibliophile squinted into the cupboard, withdrawing a brightly labeled tin and turning it around in her hand. "Or... Nevermind. Looks like salmon today. You're in luck, your magnificence." The large, black-maned cat's answer- a quiet, contented trill- was utterly at odds with the cat's seemingly grim demeanor, and he wound affectionately around Maya's ankles as she prepared a plate of the flaky pink fish for the lord of the manor. "There you go. I've got some calls to make, so, you know. Yell if you need me." Not that she needed to worry on that account- he always did. She could hear the radio from upstairs- Deb again, from the sound of it, as unlikely as that seemed. She paused, considering again the strange, dark tone of her dream and setting the saucer at Suleiman-level. "And if anyone shows up at the door uninvited, could you do me a favor? Tell them I'm not home."
  4. That stung. Meek. Scared. Content. Maya bristled internally: she wasn't those things, wasn't content, wasn't satisfied with the course her life had taken. ...But, a tiny voice reminded her, she had accepted it, hadn't she? And wasn't that basically the same thing as not being bold enough, or brave enough, or even resolute enough to do anything about it? And here was a Machiavellian goddess in the flesh, offering to make her more, somehow, than she was. Even in the midst of all the fearful strangeness, that part rang true. It had weight, meaning, beyond what sounded like an extremely eloquent sales pitch, or the gilded and engraved invitation to a Faustian bargain... Which, Maya reflected for a moment, it probably was. And yet, knowing that- that something was very wrong, that she couldn't possibly trust what she was seeing or hearing, that these kinds of offers in books always ended badly for the protagonist who succumbed to temptation- made her no less inclined to listen. A more resolute hero would politely refuse the beautiful, black-taloned harpy now and bear the burden of the potential consequences. A braver one, certain of his own ability, may laugh and tell her where to go, and where to find him if she had a problem with it. A bolder one might use his own irresistible presence try to turn the tables, seducing the seductress for his own amusement and edification. Maya... wasn't a hero. Which begged the question: What am I, then, that she wants to change me? "I believe you," she replied softly, studying the empty space where D'Sombra's reflection should be next to hers. "You're a woman with the wealth and the will to do almost anything- I realized it the moment I met you at the party. And now you've come all this way to meet me, to use your own time in order to speak with me. So, why?" the young bibliophile asked quietly, turning back to the raven-haired, dark-eyed temptress before her. "Why would you offer to do this for me?"
  5. What? A switch in her brain flipped from annoyance to complete confusion; the calm voice of Maya's rational self reminded her that she was smart, she was educated, and this? This was not normal. Sure, she acknowledged, it wasn't "Shrek and the talking rabbit in the library" not normal, but she knew she'd locked the door when she came in. How on Earth did D'Sombra find out where she lived, much less get into the place, and so soon after the party? Something wasn't right- something more than the fact that the gorgeous, predatory woman had very clearly had no reflection. That... It could have been an optical illusion, something to do with angles and the way light could be distorted. Not her field, maybe she could find a book on the subject. ...But that was for later. At the moment, the best-dressed velociraptor she'd ever seen in her life was re-enacting the kitchen scene from Jurassic Park right there in Christian Louboutin heels in her apartment. She couldn't remember getting into her pajamas, but she did suddenly feel woefully under-dressed. In her own home. How did that even make sense? ...As if any of this does, she sighed inwardly. "Sorry, Ms. D'Sombra, you seem to have caught me at a bad time," she began, bare feet quiet on the cool floor. "I hadn't really planned on having guests once I got home." Despite that, though, and despite knowing she should politely but firmly see her visitor to the door, Maya was curious. How? Why? There had to be a reason D'Sombra was here, instead of wining and dining some foreign dignitary, counting her warehouses of money, or bathing in the blood of a lovely young virgin to preserve her beauty. Sure, the scene at the gallery had been a little unusual, but surely not so unusual to a glamorous socialite that she'd track a person down and just waltz into their home to chat. Glancing around the small studio apartment that seemed somehow alien and not a little ominous at the present- otherwise a fairly typical furnished offering for the area, and within a reasonable distance of work- Maya considered the question she'd been asked, and the comment that preceded it. "To answer your question, though, since you've come all this way... Sure, almost everyone wants more. That's why we work, try to build relationships with people and get an education. We'd just sit around and do nothing, otherwise." She paused for a moment, and then added, "Although, if you're asking about the apartment, really the only thing I'd change is my upstairs neighbor." And maybe the security, for crying out loud.
  6. Startled, Maya spun on her heel, instinctively swinging at- Nothing. There was no one there, just the empty rectangle of her doorway and the dim hall beyond, keys still glinting dully in the lock. Flustered and unreasonably embarrassed, she hoped Sully hadn't just seen that- she could imagine his big, lantern-yellow eyes peering at her from his usual spot on the bookshelf, narrowed in what she could only assume was laughter. The keys jingled again as she retrieved them, then closed and bolted the door with a smooth, satisfying click of the well-worn brass latch. Sighing, she rubbed her face with her free hand, dropping the keys into a small dish on the counter nearby. Something about the D'Sombra woman, or something she said, must have gotten stuck in her brain, or else Maya wouldn't be hearing her voice right now. What was it? She mulled it over as she moved through the apartment, the pleasant fog of inebriation lifting by millimeters. So much had happened during the evening, with the drinks and meeting up with Coleen and her husband, and before that the crazy woman and Mr. Horatio Mourne, and the painting... Maya looked up suddenly, staring at her reflection in the mirror above the bathroom sink. Small, frothy rivulets of lather dripped down her cheeks, and warm water gushed unheeded into the basin where she was washing her face. The painting. She'd seen something in it, hadn't she? A story... and D'Sombra had laughed. Taken her side. But... they didn't even know each other. The only people at the party she'd ever met before were Coleen, and the woman in the white dress, from the coffee shop- Oh. "Oh, fuck," Maya whispered to her reflection, as awareness suddenly dawned. The angry woman trying to talk to Mourne, the barista, was the one she'd seen in her dream. The one who fell out a window with that dark thing, that awful shape after her, and died. The one Mourne had died trying to protect. She hadn't known him at the time, but then she'd met him, and... Now his face was overlaid over the vague one she'd seen at the library, and the other woman's features snapped into place in her memory. Why hadn't she remembered it at the party?! With a quick splash of water on her cheeks to rinse off the rest of the soap, Maya grabbed the hand towel from the ring on the wall and swiped it briskly over her face. She felt sober now, or mostly so, and cold. Mason. Mourne had said the other woman's last name. Miss Mason. "Fuck." The word was an angry exhalation- angry that she was going to have to deal with the crazy woman again, angry that she hadn't remembered until now, and angry that all of this kept resurfacing with uncomfortable regularity. She was really looking forward to the warm, welcoming embrace of sleep as she turned away from the mirror to go to bed.
  7. Maya exhaled slowly, nostrils flaring slightly as she bit back a retort to Casey's nonsensical tirade. This, ladies and gentlemen, is why we do not sleep with crazy. She couldn't really blame Horatio for bailing, even if he was kind of a smarmy jerk about it, but abandoning her to the lunatic who'd chased him down while she was trying to figure out what was going on didn't exactly earn him any brownie points in her eyes. It wasn't worth the time it would take to point out to "Miss Mason" how many of her assertions were wildly inaccurate, and, in the case of touching a woman's breast without her consent and blaming it on the cell phone, weirdly misogynistic. It was irrelevant that Maya didn't go to the coffee shop every day (only once in a while in the afternoon, if she happened to be in the neighborhood), and didn't order any of the things Casey had mentioned- who would drink dark roast coffee with two sweeteners, or mochas with extra milk, when chai was a thing that existed? Maybe the crazy white woman thought she was someone else. Maybe she was having some kind of breakdown. Maybe Maya didn't care, because she had no intention of even going back to The Full Pot after this delightful little encounter to find out for sure. She watched Horatio's back for a moment as he disappeared into the crowd, then glanced at the other guests (who were very conspicuously looking elsewhere) and shook her head, turning back to the woman in the painted-on white dress. "Nice job. Real nice," she stated flatly, her voice no louder than it had been a few moments before. "I can't say it's been a pleasure. Have a lovely evening, and let's not do this again sometime." With that, she turned and strode angrily away, feeling marginally better as the full, lightweight hem of her dress flared emphatically with the abruptness of her departure. She wasn't royalty, and this wasn't some historical fiction novel, but in that moment, she could definitely see the appeal of swishing skirts for dramatic purposes. Bodices and corsets, she reflected as she headed toward the main gallery in search of food and more wine, doing her best to put her experience with Horatio and Casey out of her mind, not so much. It wasn't until several minutes later, as she was in the process of flagging down a waiter bearing a tray of glasses, that something he'd said suddenly registered. What the hell did he mean, "scouting?" Unbidden, memories of the recent strangeness- the books, the dreams, the painting, and most of this night, if she was honest- flashed through her mind. Despite the warmth generated by the wine, and the press of bodies near the tables, Maya felt a sudden, inexplicable chill.
  8. Once the initial shock had worn off, both from the interruption and the man-handling, Maya took one look at Horatio's bewildered expression and interposed herself between him and the obviously paranoid (or drunk... or both) Casey. She didn't know what this woman's problem was, but she had already dealt with more than enough crazy for one night, thankyouverymuch, and she was not having it. Disbelief and anger engaged in an all-out battle royale for supremacy in the shelf-lined arena of her mind, with the result being the latter triumphantly claiming possession of the voluminous best-seller, Harry Potter and the Audacity of This Bitch. "Excuse me," she interjected in the overly polite, faintly condescending tone she was often obliged to use when patrons at work became unpleasant or unreasonable. She was nearly as tall as Horatio himself, although lacking his physique, effectively blocking the other woman's view of her target with a tight, aggressively friendly smile that somehow did nothing whatsoever to warm the gaze she directed at the curvy cafe-owner. "It's Casey, right?" She didn't wait for confirmation; Prince Ponytail had just addressed her as such. "Hi. I'm Maya." Again, a near-imperceptible pause before continuing quietly, barely enough time to be considered courtesy and certainly not enough to let her counterpart get a word in edgewise. "I thought, since you decided it's acceptable to intrude on a private conversation and touch my breast without permission, something I sincerely doubt you would appreciate being done to you, you should at least know who I am. Now, I don't know what your problem is, and to be perfectly honest... I, do, not, care." Her voice dropped again, now scarcely more than a conspiratorial whisper, as her forced smile abruptly vanished. "You have stepped waaaay over the line, and you are about to make an enormous ass of yourself, in public, in front of the wealthiest and most powerful people in New York." She broke eye contact long enough to spare a moment's glance at the other partygoers in the vicinity. "...If you haven't already. You two obviously know each other, so maybe you should consider handling your personal business elsewhere?" ...because it isn't welcome here, her level stare added wordlessly.
  9. "Miss... Mason?" Genuine confusion crinkled Maya's features into a somewhat less attractive configuration as she tried to place the name. Someone she was familiar with, in the gallery? "I don't really recognize the n-" "The young woman in the rather... eye-catching white dress." "White dress, white dre- Ohhhhhhhhhh!" Right. The boobs. Got it. On one hand, Maya did actually get it: Casey was stacked, and guys were into that. On the other hand, hadn't she been on his arm when they walked up? "I do remember her, I just don't think I knew her name. She works at the coffee shop...?" It was clearly a question, if a rhetorical one- more for the sake of trying to confirm her own memory than asking for information. She was already regretting not grabbing a fresh glass of wine before engaging stealth mode to track down Mourne, since now she had nothing to do with her hands. "The Full Pot. They make a good dirty chai." Her raised eyebrows and the faint, dismissive shrug of her narrow shoulders were more suggestive than anything she actually said. "I don't really know her beyond that, but... Why ask me to tell you about myself and then ask about her?"
  10. Had she imagined it, or was there a sort of... raspy edge to his voice? She hadn't noticed it earlier. Paired with the suit, the smile, and the educated conversation, the soft, near-inaudible growl just at the lower edge of his vocal range was... Well, it wasn't just the wine heating up her cheeks, now, was it? "Well, Mr. Mourne," Maya replied, switching the empty glass to her other hand to return the handshake and re-focus on the situation before she said something she'd have to blame on the alcohol later. She was surprised to find that, far from the polite, weak-wristed grip generally offered by men, Horatio's was stronger than she'd expected- not crushing, but firm. His hand was warmer than she'd imagined, too. "Apology accepted. And, if we're being honest, I'm, ah, not really that much of an art fan, either." The newly-minted VIP's grin was all conspiracy and mischief, her confidence bolstered by the wine, the late hour, and something about Mourne she couldn't quite pin down, like a scent in a crowd that seemed familiar, but also out of place. "I did have to take a couple of art history classes in college, though, so I can pull a quick analysis out of a hat if I need to."
  11. Maybe he doesn't work for the gallery, or a Senator, Maya reflected, as she listened to the brief, one-sided conversation about investigations and "surveillance footage" with growing anxiety. Just who was this guy, what was he after, and why, in the name of all the holy saints and pilgrims, was he invoking her name as someone who might be associated with whatever-it-was that she absolutely, positively, most definitely had. not. done? She was just beginning to regret having followed the Park Avenue Powerlifter (seriously, where do you find suit jackets for a back that wide?!) and sort-of-intentionally-accidentally-eavesdropping when he began to turn his head in her direction. What followed was the fastest change in demeanor Maya had ever undergone, from slightly awkward spy to immensely awkward party-goer: like a child caught sneaking down the hallway for cookies long after bedtime, the tall, willowy library assistant took a too-obvious step forward in a clumsy attempt to look as if she'd just arrived by mistake. Despite the guilt written indelibly across her face, she bravely made an effort to sound surprised at his sudden recognition. "Oh, so, hey, hi. I was, uh..." She paused for a moment, pursing her lips and briefly closing her eyes before smiling and giving it another shot, hopefully with more composure. "Sorry. I was thinking we might have gotten off on the wrong foot, and I wanted to apologize. You were right, sort of. I mean, about me." She laughed, nervously, and only after taking a sip of wine did she realize she'd just emptied the glass and now had no good excuse to pause the conversation if it took a turn. "I am. Lost, that is. A little bit. A friend invited me as a thank-you, and as you can probably tell, I don't get to do this sort of thing often." ...where "often" is defined as "never." "I'm Maya. Maya Flynn."
  12. As everyone scurried off about their separate ways, the small crowd magically dissolving into so much superficial laughter and champagne as if it had never existed in the first place, Maya became acutely aware of the blood warming her cheeks. This was not her scene at all, and despite trying to find a relatively quiet part of the gallery to just... have a glass or two of wine and chill, somehow she'd ended up being the center of attention. So, of course, she had made a fantastic first impression as some kind of weirdo party-crasher, and... ...helped sell a painting? Gotten VIP status from LexAve Lilith? Landed a gig writing a column in the gallery newsletter? She hadn't thought she was lost when Ponytail Guy walked up with his entourage, but now, now she wasn't so sure. "At what point did I lose control of my life?" she wondered aloud, before taking another drink from a wineglass that was rapidly becoming more glass than wine. Mildly embarrassed, utterly confused, and in need of answers to such burning questions as, "Who the hell are these people?" "What the fuck just happened?" "Where is Colleen when I need her?" and "How do I get the recipe for those little cream cheese cracker things?" she reluctantly headed off in the same direction as Mourne. The other two women clearly had business to discuss, and she was not about to follow the security guard and get tased or something, which unfortunately left Baron von Buzzkill as her "best" option. Maybe, Maya tried to reassure herself as she followed him, maybe he wasn't really trying to be a jerk. It's not like I was walking around with my invitation pinned to my dress, right? There was no telltale clacking of perilous stilettos as she padded quickly down the gleaming hallway; it wasn't that she'd worn flats out of consideration for the men she'd look down on in heels, but that they were uncomfortable as hell and she hated wearing them. As for this "Mourne" guy... She wasn't sure who he was, but probably he worked for the gallery, so introducing herself might make the rest of the night a little easier, yeah? Yeah, she decided, nodding in affirmation as she peered into the smaller exhibition rooms she passed.
  13. Maya had been considering this particular piece for the better part of twenty minutes. and she still hadn't decided whether or not she liked it; the colours worked well together, with the general impression being a bit like a sunrise coming out of a dark night, but something just didn't sit well with her. She had almost nailed down exactly what it was when a man who looked like a department store manager, complete with mid-life crisis ponytail, interrupted her train of thought. Who did this Steven Seagal wannabe think he was? "Lost?" No more than you are, jerk. Who's your Journey tribute band opening for tonight, hm? Fifty scathing retorts rushed to the tip of her tongue in response, but before they had a chance to spill out, Maleficent's sister slithered up out of nowhere and intervened. It wasn't exactly on her behalf, but an intervention nonetheless, and she silently thanked whoever was listening that she hadn't had the opportunity to open her mouth. She didn't know who either of these people were, but the fact that Prince Charmless was visibly unhappy with the other woman's presence made her feel just a teensy bit better about essentially being politely accused of sneaking in without an invite. It didn't, however, make her feel any more at ease with the situation: the tension seething between the two made her feel like a very small pawn in a heated, long-running game of chess. For a brief moment, the world shifted in front of her eyes, and because she was still looking at the raven-haired woman who'd just spoken, for that fleeting instant she saw not a gorgeous socialite, but the rapacious Beldam of the book she'd so recently read to the children at work, all hunger and malice. No, no no, not here, this is not happening here, she told herself as she tore her gaze away, directing her attention back to the painting and taking a slow sip of wine to steady her nerves. Not tonight. "Oh, all sorts of things," Maya replied breezily, only the faint hint of a tremor in her voice betraying the fact that something- either the timing of the woman's question, or the appearance of the trio- had clearly unsettled her. She clasped the stem of her glass in both hands to stop them shaking until she could calm down, and skimmed the abstract shapes of the artwork again; focusing on the here and now always seemed to put things back to the way they should be. Her teeth caught at her lower lip; what exactly was it that bugged her so much about this painting? It was driving her crazy that she couldn't make heads or tails of- Heads or tails? That was it! It wasn't positioned correctly. Tilting her head to re-assess the art, much to the mixed amusement, bewilderment, and exasperation of her audience, she felt her pulse quicken as the pieces started to fall into place. "Here, this looks hopeful, yeah?" she asked them rhetorically, glancing back at them before waving at muted whorls of rose and orange shot through with bright gold, cerulean, and white. "It's lovely and soft, like a spring morning, especially when you contrast it with this part." Here, she pointed at the sharp, angular interjections of muddy grey, violet, and deep black that jutted out in irregular patterns. "So, it looks like an aspirational thing, like looking toward beauty and light as you reach out from the darkness, clinging to the hope that will get you through the worst of times." The more she looked at it, the more sense it started to make, as if she were piecing together the plot of a complicated novel. The warmth of the wine hummed pleasantly through her body as she paused, allowing her audience a moment to draw their own conclusions. "But it's not!" she exclaimed, shaking her head, the words coming faster, more easily now. "There's no real hope in this at all. Yes, there's the acknowledgement of joy and all that, it exists, but these are things the artist believes they cannot have. They have seen and, and felt transcendence, something celestial, unfathomable, something ah... ah... supernal!" she stated emphatically, taking another drink of wine. "And now it's utterly gone, shattered, destroyed. They can still see beauty in the world, but they can't touch it, and every time they try something is irrevocably broken. This painting is all about the incredible longing the artist feels for what's lost, tempered by overwhelming remorse and utter despair, because..." Realizing suddenly that there were now more than four people gathered around, and that she was gesturing animatedly while everyone stared, Maya suddenly felt intensely self-conscious and dropped her free hand, which had come just short of touching the painting. "Because they know it's their fault," she finished somewhat more quietly. Making a very small, vaguely circular motion with her finger, the tall, grey-eyed 'interloper' added, "and, ah, it's upside-down."
  14. Maya had been to parties before. She had even worn a nice dress to one, when her sister got married. This little shindig, though? It was on a whole other level. Sure, she knew the Richardses were well-off, but this level of glitz and glam was like, Vanity Fair, where she'd been expecting maaaaybe The New Yorker- or, since it was supposed to be for the work of "mythologically inspired artists," maybe some niche-market mag dealing with the zoomorphic gods of pre-colonial Egypt. She'd imagined chunky dichroic glass jewelry and caftans, not designer ensembles straight from some high-end boutique. Under normal circumstances, she'd have felt pretty confident. Rather than straightening her hair, she'd just pinned it up, and the long-sleeved maxi dress was both comfortable and what she thought of as "casual sophistication." She was tall enough to get away with wearing ballet flats instead of heels, and she was also one of the very few women not showing skin. It was a look that suited her, but after a quick scan of the room following Colleen's departure, it definitely did not suit the party. Slipping over to grab a glass of rosé from one of the tables, she smiled politely and avoided eye contact as she moved through the partygoers. Everyone just looked so rich, and so beautiful- or at least the kind of beautiful that being rich could buy- that just catching glimpses of faces and suits and dresses in the crowd was almost an art show on its own. As she sipped her "basic white girl" wine, the knot of anxiety that came from being keenly aware she didn't fit in gradually loosened, and she resigned herself to making the best of things. She knew Mrs. Richards had intended the invitation as a gift, a sort of 'thank you' that she'd thought Maya would enjoy, not as a means to make her feel uncomfortable or out of place. Besides, it wasn't as if she was likely to run into anyone she knew here, so what was the harm in trying to have a good time? Things had been a little weird, lately, and getting out of her comfort zone and into another glass or two of wine might actually help. It wasn't too difficult to make her way to the outer edges of the thronging glitterati, and into the actual exhibition halls. It was an art gala, and if she was gonna be here all night, she was gonna see some art.
  15. Name: Maya Flynn Nature: Explorer Demeanor: Sage Concept: Frustrated Underachiever Age: 25 Physical: Strength ●●, Dexterity ●●, Stamina ●● Social: Charisma ●●●, Manipulation ●●●, Appearance ●● Mental: Perception ●●●, Intelligence ●●●●, Wits ●●● Talents: Alertness ●●, Athletics ●●, Awareness ●●, Brawl ●, Carousing ●, Empathy ●●, Expression ●●, Intimidation, Leadership, Streetwise ●, Subterfuge ● Skills: Animal Ken ●●, Crafts, Drive ●, Etiquette ●●, Firearms, Game-Playing ●, Larceny, Melee, Performance ●●, Stealth ●, Storytelling ●, Survival Knowledges: Academics ●●●, Computer ●●, Culture ●, Finance, Investigation ●, Law, Medicine, Occult ●, Politics ●, Science, Technology Backgrounds: Allies ●, Contacts ●●, Influence, Resources ●● Background: Works at Yorkville Public Library, lives in a small furnished studio apartment on E 79th St., Upper East Side. Can drive a car (and has a license), but who drives in NYC? Smart people ride bikes. Studied Anthropology, had difficulty finding work after college and took temporary employment with the Yorkville branch of the NYPL at the request of a family friend. She’s still there, beginning to despair of ever accomplishing anything meaningful with her life. Saving up to travel overseas- she has a list of “must-see” places gleaned from magazines and friends who’ve actually gone. Had an opportunity to study abroad for a summer in college, but a family health scare caused her to miss out. Owns precisely one cat. Just one. She blames him for a lack of dating prospects. He doesn’t seem to care. Her social life is largely limited to reading aloud for the children during story hour on the second floor of the library, and helping her friend Mason create a weekly podcast about a lonely, fictional town in upstate NY. Has one sister, Leticia, 2 years younger, married to a financial analyst. Is occasionally called upon to babysit her niece and nephew on “date night” because, honestly, what else does she have to do? Sometimes screens her mother’s calls, despite concerns over her health, because she is tired of being compared to her more successful sibling. Lists her ethnicity as “colonial.” (Her family is of Irish, English, Kashmiri, and Maori ancestry. It’s complicated.) When in the neighborhood, stops by The Full Pot for an afternoon pick-me-up Bonus Point Costs/Expenditures Attributes: 5 per dot Abilities: 2 per dot (x6) Ability Specialties: 1 per dot (max of 3 per ability) Backgrounds: 1 per dot Virtues: 2 per dot Humanity: 1 per dot Willpower: 1 per dot (x3) 3
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