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World of Darkness: Attrition - Just Stopping By

Lucien Hunt

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With the roar of a thousand horses the sleek, black, Lamborghini Gallardo sped down the avenue. In the rich neighborhoods of Los Angeles such a nice sports car was not uncommon, but a custom designed Gallardo with after market modifications for performance still certainly turned some heads. With very little regard for things like traffic laws, the vehicle sped through the streets and spun around corners with surprising accuracy. Slowing down it pulled into the drive way of one of the most expensive homes on the very large block. The front gate was open and the vehicle pulled up to the front of the estate courtesy of the "U" shaped driveway.

Lucien Hunt, aka Lucien Hunt, aka the Lucien Hunt (he never really understood how the 'the' added any flair, but it stuck) jogged up to the front steps and skipped them two at a time. Having just from his classes he was in humble loose fitting jeans and a black tank top with an unbuttoned collared shirt over it. He was a handsome guy, if my 'handsome' the dictionary read: "too freakin' gorgeous for his own good", and on top it he was filthy rich too. It was sort of what separated Lucien from most other guys around campus - no matter how handsome people thought he was or how much money he supposedly had, he was always just 'Lucien', a regular guy like everyone else (with an awesome car).

He rapped on the door, folding his sunglasses and tucking them away while he waited from someone to answer. He sung the first few lines of The Zac Brown Band's 'Toes' song as he waited, finally turning to face the large decorative door as it opened.

He grinned as he took in his greeter, August Turner. She was hot, no denying that with her shoulder length black hair and near-enchanting bluish green eyes. Physically, she was yummy. Mentally, she was a bit of a dork, always going on about old films or staring off into space at times... but over all she was cool people and considering Lucien had found out only six months ago that he could control of the forced of the cosmos with a thought, he had a whole new respect for the 'dorks' of the world.

"This has to be the Victoria's Secret house, right?" He told her with alluring smile and charming delivery meant to seep her off her feet. "Why else would angels be greeting the guests?"

She just quirked a brow and stared at him silently, unphased by his 'hello'.

"Okay, that could use a little work, I guess." They both finally broke down into laughter as they shared in the joke. He pulled an iPod from his pocket and held it up. "Hey August, how y'been? Is Oneca around, she crashed at my place a couple days ago and left this. Thought I'd drop it off to her."

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It always happened this way. Whenever laundry day rolled around, Lucian came for a visit. Today’s exotic wardrobe choice was a sea-green spaghetti top with a faded SeaWorld logo and black exercise shorts with white piping. Her hair was half-hazardly pulled up into a clip, but she had barely brushed it this morning. In short, she looked a lot like she hadn’t bothered to really dress herself after rolling out of bed. The fact that she hadn’t really done more than grab the first two clean bits of clothing she found made it worse. Five minutes of effort, and she wouldn’t be facing Lucian looking like a vagabond from the We-Don’t-Care-Because-We’re-Ugly-Girls Club.

“Hi!” The greeting was genuine and warm; August’s smile was unfortunately self-conscious, however. “Oneca’s out,” August said, inwardly sighing that he wasn’t here to see her. She looked upward at one of the bedrooms and said more softly, “Satan’s home.” Satan was August’s ‘friendly nickname’ for Oneca’s sister. Her unfriendly nickname could remove paint and generally wasn’t used if there was any chance Saja could overhear. But those two words explained Oneca’s absence; the darkly lovely woman avoided her sister whenever possible.

The raven-haired girl reached out and took the iPod, her fingers tingling where they brushed Lucian’s hand. Her heart picked up a little as she withdrew her hand, a warm and touch too-eager look on her face. “I can give it to her… you could wait for her to come back,” August added quickly, realizing that she had the perfect way to spend a bit of time with the handsome billion- or trillionaire. “I wasn’t doing anything. I’d be happy to keep you company.” She opened the door a little wider. “We have cold beer and leftover Italian.” You. Are. Lame. L-A-M-E.

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He thought for a moment then conceded to her invitation with a nod and a smile. "I've nothing really that needs my attention today. I could hang for a bit, sure. I need to talk to her about the party coming up anyway, it feels like unless I nail her feet to the floor we're not going to get anything done." Truth be told August probably had more responsibility in her pinky finger than Oneca and Lucien combined, but of the two Lucien was a bit more level headed.

He followed August through the house as she led him to the kitchen. August might not have thought so, but she was a very attractive woman and what she didn't notice, Lucien was more than happy to pick up the slack. He watched the way her hips swayed and how the shorts hugged tightly on her skin just right. He noticed how kissable her shoulders were and how fit and tight her body was (thank you XBox360 and the UFC Personal Trainer). "I don't understand why you guys are so hard on Saja." He managed to pry his eyes away from her backside long enough to form a coherent sentence. "I mean, c'mon, their sisters, aren't they supposed to fight? Every time I talk to her she's cool with me."

Lucien sat on a stool, leaning on the island in the kitchen. "Juice or a pop is cool with me, I'm driving and that car is a cop magnet. They never believe the ol' 'I've only had one.' excuse. If I keep getting pulled over my dad is going to come to L.A., fire all the police and demand traffic laws be rewritten. I really don't need that kind of drama, y'know?"

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August sighed. “Saja and I got off on the wrong foot, at least in part.” She leaned into the fridge to dig a Lucian’s preferred soda off the bottom shelf and set it in front of him as she spoke. “Have you heard the story?”

“Nope,” the handsome man said, popping the top and lifting the can to his lips.

August struggled with jealousy with a soda can of all things as she watched him drink. Pulling herself together, she sighed, “I was just starting grad school last year when Saja started her freshmen courses. She came up to see us in July and the second thing she said to me after ‘Hi, you must be August’ was, ‘There’s not enough room for all of us here, you’ll have to move out.’ Oneca has been letting me pay rent when I have it to pay; half the time she forgives it if she knows I don’t have it. Living with her has been so perfect and she’s like my best friend now. So yeah, I started with a low opinion of Saja.

“And I don’t know if you’ve ever been around when they’re interacting?”

“Usually, if Saja is around, Oneca isn’t,” Lucian said easily.

“Right,” August replied, pulling out a Mike’s Hard Lemonade and twisting off the top. “They have this… it’s a really weird, hard-to-describe relationship. It’s a co-dependent relationship, where Saja is the one on top. Oneca usually doesn’t argue with Saja about anything. She’ll usually do whatever Saja says. But when Saja was trying to get me out, Oneca was almost begging her to let me stay. Seriously, it was like a child pleading with a parent.” August took a deep draw of her drink and added, “I don’t know why they’re like that, but it’s not good for Oneca, and Saja isn’t interested in changing it.” Great, you have Lucian all to yourself the first time ever and you’re talking about Oneca and Saja. Table for party of Lame, coming right up.

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"My sister and I are no different." Lucien smirked. "Hell, we've begged each other plenty of times. It's called leverage, hon. Saja probably has some secret of Oneca's and she's holding it over her head threatening to tell her parents unless Oneca kisses butt. It happens, it's called 'sibling rivalry'."

Leaning on the island he fiddled with the soda can. He had this suave coolness about him, like nothing bothered the guy and he had everything under control all the time. Conversation came so easy to him it seemed. "The easiest way of dealing with her if she's difficult is to just kill her with kindness. Always worked for me. Should be easy enough for you, you have a pretty smile." He tipped his soda back again, not realizing that August had any sort of attraction to him he offered her a compliment, an honest one at that because she did have a pretty smile.

"But, let the sisters be sisters. We've never really hung out much, what's your story, hmm? What's the film geek like to do for fun?" It was amazing the way he could deliver the term 'geek' to her and make it sound so charming. Like more of an honorary title than something that had any negative connotation to it. "Do you like to lurk on Netflix and search for bad movies to blog about?"

He was poking fun and it was obvious but his smile still told her that he was just trying to be witty and fun.

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“I had a sister,” August said softly, “and I remember sibling rivalry.” She and Tyla had their own versions of it; when their father had been in good moods, when the gifts had been flowing, they’d squabbled over his attention. When it had been bad, they’d used their arguments to share the blame, understanding that if their father got too mad, he’d really hurt one of them. And when he had finally gone too far, Tyla had died. “This isn’t the same… but it’s not our business.”

August might have pushed harder, but Lucian had just complimented her and then asked about her, and her brain was shutting down. “I’m… I like to watch old movies and analyze them. But... that’s nerdy and boring. I like Oneca’s parties. I, uh… museums are fun.” Oh, god, this was getting worse and worse. The more she talked, the more she sounded like someone who was boring as snot. Honestly, August was having such a hard time lately just keeping herself together that ‘fun’ hadn’t been part of it. “Honestly, this summer was so crazy that I kinda forgot to have fun. I only had a single class, but I started late because of an internship and I’ve been racing to get it done in time.”

“What class?”

How could he still be interested? Green eyes studied him for a second as she considered the most coherent answer that wouldn’t also put him to sleep. “A lighting class, all about how to use light and shadows to create the right mood. Following a director’s instructions to get the effect he or she wants. Stuff like that.” She drank a bit more, wondering if he really found her interesting or just a way to pass time. “You probably know a bit about that, given your modeling. It’s still photography but it’s a lot like what I do. I mean, what the class is about.”

You are sitting down with Lucian Hunt, the motherfucking Lucian Hunt and this is the best you can do? That was the reason she blurted, “I like wolves. I mean… they’re my favorite animal.” Perfect. Give him an opening to ask about your basket of crazy.

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"Wolves huh?" He gave her that wooing curl of his lips. Poor August was either incredibly nervous (and he couldn't imagine why) or she was wound way to tight. Poor thing. He liked August, she was a rather pleasant person to know. She was kind, sweet, very pretty, and cute in a way that just made him want to hug her sometimes. Of course, he didn't know her that well, but from he'd met so far, that's the impression he had. Lucien certainly didn't know she had a bit of a crush on him.

"You know," He paused for effect and decided to test the waters of August's nervousness. "They have some very nice wolves at the L.A. Zoo."

"Really?" She asked, despite the 'duh' sensation she felt in the back of her mind. Of course the zoo had wolves. What she didn't pick up was that it was Lucien's way of hinting that maybe the two of them could go see them sometime. "I'll, um, check them out some time. I haven't had much time to get out and do stuff."

She needed help, big time. She was all work and no play. She seemed an equal mix of fuddy and duddy, which as Lucien could attest to, was not a good thing. He chuckled for a second and gave her another once over, he could tell how nervous she was but Lucien's brain couldn't seem to wrap around the 'why' of it. He was just a guy, right? Sure he was incredibly handsome, a successful model, and filthy rich, but besides all that he was just like any other person. Oneca and Rosalind still found it infinitely hilarious that Lucien still thought of himself as just an ordinary guy and expected people to see past all the glitz and glamor, but he did relent in his pursuit to be 'just a guy'.

A little fun couldn't hurt, she needs it! Cast a line... "Actually, that was my way of hinting that we could go see them sometime," Aaaand reel it in slowly... "But you have projects and classes and all that. I understand you're busy with the internship and all plus the work load. I understand."

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“Uh, yes.” August’s shock was clear. “I mean, I have a lot of work and stuff, but yes a trip to the zoo would be fun.” She paused and looked a little unsure. “Do you mean… just you and me?”

“You want to invite someone else?” Lucian asked. He hadn’t been thinking date and if more people meant August would unwind a little, that would be good. “That’d be fine. If Oneca wanted to come, that’d be fun.”

“Oh, of course… uh, we could pack a picnic,” August started talking and not really thinking, because she was thinking about how cute Lucian was. “The food is so expensive at the zoo. But there’s a park where you can sit and eat.

“And if you like wolves, too,” she continued, in full-on nerdage, “there’s a sanctuary up in the hills. You can go out into it and at night, you can hear them howling. It’s gorgeous, haunting. Have you ever heard wolves in full song?” Pleased to at least see her relaxing a little, Lucian shook his head. August leaned down, propping her upper body on her elbows, her stomach coming to rest against the island’s countertop. “It’s like nature is singing right to you.”

August realized suddenly that she was talking to Lucian like this, babbling on like a crazy person. “Or… at least,” she stumbled to a stop, “I’ve always thought so. What do you like to do in your spare time, Lucian?”

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Oh, well, you see I just learned how to turn all my appliances with a thought and the other night I had a night mare called down lightning onto the beach out back. You know, the usual. Lucien sighed in thought while he looked about the kitchen to collect his answer. "I'm a pretty free spirit, August. You could catch be doing just about anything on any given day, to be honest."

"That," August sipped her drink and managed a smile. "Sounds like a cop-out."

He laughed for a moment, nodding. "I really don't do a whole lot, at least not lately. I've been going through a, uh, transitional period, you could say. You should have caught up with me before summer, man, I was wild." He smirked a bit and tried to deflect the conversation from him, back to her. It was sort of sad in a way, how the Awakening Lucien had gone through had left his normally wild spirit and mirthful outlook on life had left him confused and always thinking on what he'd become. He was so intent on understanding the thing he'd become that he'd forgotten how to be himself. "You know, I've never heard a wolf 'sing' before. I guess that gives us two things to do now." Maybe that'll help keep my mind off things.

"Maybe sometime I'll take you clubbing and we can check out a few games once the season starts up." He took another drink of his soda to disguise the thoughts he had about how he would just be using August as a means of keeping his mind off his own problems. "You can't study and work all the time, not on my watch. I'm the King Slacking and I demand tribute." The model gave her a grin that could have stolen her breath.

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It did steal her breath. She couldn’t help but let him; those gorgeous eyes, that perfect smile – it all short-circuited her logic and reason and zotted her right in the libido. Holy crap, holy crap, holy crap! It sounds like he wants to be friends!

He’s being nice to you. He’s a nice person, and he’s just saying that.

No, he wants to be friends, and will right up until he finds out you’re insane. Then he’ll back away slowly, still smiling, until he’s far enough away to flee the country. Bang him if you want, girl, but there is no long-term relationship for you until you heal yourself. Get that straight.

There was logic to that. Lucian could have his pick of women – why would he pick a crazy one who was in therapy for seeing imaginary people? He could have someone like Oneca – sauve, urbane and utterly in control of her life.

“Clubbing?” August asked uneasily. “I dunno…” The last club she’d attended hadn’t been a good experience. She’d gone with several friends, but one of them had taken E and August had spent the night keeping her from making a tragic mistake with any guy or girl she happened to lay hands on. Since then, August had avoided the club scene. “I’ve never had fun at them. And anyway, you and Oneca’s parties are way more epic than clubs.

“But, you are right. I’ve had a bad summer, and I need someone to help me slack off.” August’s brave resolve lasted less than ten seconds before she hastily added, “Well, once I turn in my final assignment, anyway.” She saw the look on his face and quickly brought up a subject she’d been dying to ask. “Hey, how come you and Oneca aren’t together? You seem to get along, she’s pretty and fun. What’s up with that?”

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Casually he shrugged, not even phased by the question, despite how personal it might seem. August had heard plenty of rumors about Lucien and it was certainly no secret the man had a 'Little Black Book' that was no doubt thicker than the Los Angeles Yellow Pages, sure enough though, him and Oneca never really seemed to have fooled around (at least to her knowledge). "Well, you know what they say: 'nothing is better than dating a Nihilist.'"

He grinned and paused for effect before continuing. "Seriously though, Oneca is awesome and we get on great together. So well in fact that the concept of us actually dating hasn't really entered out minds. If it's not broke, why fix it? We're cool where we are with each other and besides, I don't think she's the commitment type. She went through four different cell phone models last month, I mean, seriously."

"Can I point out though," he looked at her as he slowly rubbed behind his ear a bit. "That while I know this is probably the longest conversation you and I have had since..."

"Ever?" She quipped swiftly.

"My point is," He continued, grinning at her inner smart-ass. "That I'm impressed you actually came out and asked me something personal like that. I respect that. I respect the measure bravery it takes for someone to ask another with whom they aren't very familiar with a personal question, especially when it's just to simply sate one's own curiosity. So you know, August, my life is an open book. If you want to know, ask, I've no shame."

The impish curl to his lips returned swiftly though and the rich playboy had some curiosity of his own to sate. "What about you? What's with the whole 'single' thing you have going on? You have that 'Rockin' Body Contest Winner' look going for you, you're attractive, you like animals, which is a good thing because that's all men in college are, you've a personality which is optional, I admit, but it helps." He quipped and sipped his soda. "So why are you single? Hmm? And don't tell me," He raised his finger to stifle her response before she could start to soon. "That you are too busy. That's a load and we both know it. Hell, even the Trekkies are baggin' girls with the neck pinch trick, there's no reason why you're in college and haven't hooked up with someone. So, c'mon, what's the deal?"

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August grinned widely as Lucian spoke and that smile only became more complex as he segued into complimenting her. He was treading into unpleasant ground even as he made her blush and squirm at the kind words coming from him. “You’re right,” she admitted. “I’m not too busy. I’ve had lots of guys want to get with me for more than sex. And I did hook up with someone my freshman year. It was really intense; even my grade suffered. Then he tore my heart out when I was a sophomore. I decided that I wasn’t going to get serious about anyone while still in school.”

“So you’ve just had a three-year dry spell?” Lucian asked. “Because one guy was a jerk to you?”

August studied him; he seemed honestly sincere so she answered sincerely. “Before him, I tended to hook up with guys who hit me,” she admitted. His beautiful eyes darkened a little and his smile slipped as she continued. “I mean, my dad set the pattern that nothing says ‘I love you’ like a slap on the face. But… Nigel was different. He was gentle and he didn’t try to hurt me. He promised never to hurt me, and he only broke that promise at the end.

“But no, I haven’t gone without,” she added with a slight smirk. “I’ve dated casually and even had sex with a couple of them. I just don’t let it go further. And before you think this is me pouting and sulking about one breakup, I almost lost what little financial aid I had over that. I was determined to not do that again. So after my grieving period, I just focused on school. I’m not like Oneca, I can’t study whatever interests me right now.”

The way this conversation had gone made her bold. “Your turn. Why are you single? You’re hot, you are an animal, you have a personality which is important to most girls – so why haven’t you found that one and only?”

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"Serendipity." He replied almost too swiftly. The man had an answer for everything it seemed and it all came out with a measure of confidence that made August just a bit jealous. " We look for something, but we find something else, and realize that what we've found is more suited to our needs than what we thought we were looking for."

He stood up and began helping himself to articles around the kitchen that would assist his design for a PB&J sandwich. "See, we, as people, invest too much time in looking for our perfect S.Os. We're so wrapped up in finding that person, that eventually we trick ourselves into settling. Now, me? I'm not really looking for 'her', I'm just living life and letting serendipity do it's part. So, until then, my life is pretty much a mingling of dates and casual sex."

The spackling of crunchy peanut butter told August that Lucien was, a least in some minor fashion, an obsessive compulsive. He evened out the spread and even moved a few of the peanut bits around to evenly distribute the distribution of crunch in his sandwich. "I hope I don't sound like a arrogant snot, because honestly, this next topic is a bit touchy for me. Not because I don't like talking about it but because it's hard to talk about it with out coming cross like a spoiled, rich little tard, and I hate spoiled little tards. Please work with me a bit," He smiled at her. A preemptive apology in case he offended. "A few facts: first, yes, I'm rich. Second, yes I'm an attractive model. That's not me being cocky, it's just honest self-confidence. Third, I'm a borderline genius and built a successful business, earning millions, by the time my twentieth birthday rolled around. Again, I'm not bragging, just foreshadowing."

"Therein lies my problem," He started again after opening the jelly and digging into the jar with the knife. "Women see this hot, rich guy who is a model and business man, and oh-so shag worthy. They don't understand that when I look in the mirror I don't see those things. No money, no success, not even the handsome part, or parts," He added in with a grin and pointed the jelly saturated knife at her before she had the chance to insert a witty quip. "All I see is me, Lucien. Sort of like when you look in the mirror. You see August. Boring ol' you who studies all the time and doesn't get out much. A girl who wishes she did more, but hides because the jerks of the world have spoiled you for the great guys out there who actually would treat you well." She didn't expect the cross examination, but he wasn't being cruel about it. Knife still in hand with traces of sticky jelly all over it he approached her, his grin grew wide and almost seductive as he infiltrated her personal bubble. "I see a woman with enchanting eyes, velvet lips and soft skin. A voice like a siren's song, seductive and melodic. A woman with goals and the determination to achieve them." He moved in close to her and the counter top blocked her escape, not that she was sure if she wanted too. "A woman with desires."

Her mind raced as she did the math over and over. Lost in her lust but a slave to her logic August didn't seem to understand how he suddenly went from explaining something to being all over about to make a move! The sudden dab of sticky jelly on the ti of her nose and Lucien's broad grin snapped her from her inner counsel. "We have to work on your defense girl. If we're going to find you a good man we have to toughen you up." The bread slices were slapped together and Lucien smiled in triumph. "My point is, we all see ourselves differently from the world sees us, I would like someone to see Lucien, me, not the rich guy with a Lamborghini, which is getting more and more common in women these days. And you," He pointed with his sandwich. "we need to work on you. You're too skittish, nervous n' stuff." He had no clue that it had anything to do with him and his seductive pranks. "I know several guys who'd you'd probably like, I could introduce you. The cool thing too is that if they break you heart, I can beat em' up." His face turned from smiling to amusingly awkward as he began to pick an excessive amount of peanut butter from his gums with his tongue.

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August’s lips parted as Lucien leaned in close, invading her personal space. She barely heard what he said after he started to extol her virtues. A voice in the back of her head started to chant, “Do it. Kiss him. Do it. Kiss him!”

“I know several guys who’d you’d probably like, I could introduce you. The cool thing too is that if they break your heart, I can beat em’ up.”

Her heart came crashing down as he began to work at his peanut butter-laden gums. He wasn’t interested in her; he was totally given her the ‘big brother’ speech. He hadn’t dropped the ‘f-word’ but he might as well written it across her chest like the scarlet letter. August’s eyes dropped to the table then out the window, trying to keep her dismay from broadcasting itself to the man across from her. She disguised some of it in rubbing the jelly from her nose. Thankfully, peanut butter was a trying problem and Lucien was distracted.

“I dunno,” she said when she thought she had control of herself. “I can find guys to have fun with on my own. I don’t need someone else to line up dates for me.” Especially not when I want to be dating that someone. “And I was serious about wanting to finish school. There’ll be time to find a partner later.” And of course, there was the whole issue of being crazy. She needed to fix that, too, not that she’d admit that to the gorgeous Lucien.

The thought to try to seduce him was still there, but she shoved it away. She needed to reconsider all of this, to decide if she even wanted Lucien anymore. Oh, she probably did, but she needed to think about all of this instead of reacting with a pain-filled heart. “So we’ve covered why we’re single,” August said, smiling, somehow. “What about your plans? Mine are simple – get a job filming movies. After all of... this, what are the plans for Lucien, just Lucien?”

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"I didn't mean to offend you August," Lucien said with a soft, concerned tone once the foreign peanut butter was removed. "I was only offering. I know some people who aren't the 'jerk' type, in case you're interested. I didn't mean to imply you couldn't find someone on your own. You're wonderful, so I wouldn't think that for a moment." He closed his apology with a heartfelt wink and Peter Pan smirk.

When she asked him what came next however, his expression dimmed somewhat and his megawatt smile fizzled out. Without Atlas around to provide him any sort of guidance Lucien honestly didn't know what his future held in store for him. He was a Sorcerer now, as Atlas had put it, and that didn't seem to coincide with him having anything resembling a normal life from there on out. "Honestly, I don't know." The way he said it told her she'd struck a nerve somewhere. It was devoid of the mirth and fun-loving attitude Lucien seemed to always carry around with him. It was a phrase of honest confusion. "A while back my life took a turn in a direction I hadn't planned on. Lately I've been stuck wondering how I can continue with my life and manage to work this other 'issue' in with it and it doesn't seem likely that it will be possible."

He leaned against the island in the kitchen, now picking at his sandwich instead of biting into it. "Question for you," He asked while chewing with the grace of young man trained in the art of posh etiquette. "Have you ever felt like you were better that other people? I don't mean like in the rich and entitled sense either, I mean like you could do things other people couldn't. See things other people can't. Make things happen that no one else could? You know, like you different from the norm? That's sort of what I'm going through, and it's not going well. 'Different' is winning and 'norm' is getting his butt kicked."

"Eh," he blew it off with shrug as he popped another torn chuck of sandwich into his mouth. "Listen to me. Sorry, I don't wanna bore anyone with my issues. Lord knows you have enough of your own to deal with. You have goals, ambition, desires," He grinned a bit at the last one, revisiting the joke to add some levity. "Your issues and problems are no less important than mine, that's the great hing about problems, we all have them. I doubt you want to be bored to tears listening to me whine." He laughed a bit and popped another bit of peanut butter and jelly goodness in his mouth.

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“Lucien, friends don't get bored listening to each other’s problems,” August said softly. Leaving her beer behind, she moved around the island to put a hand on his shoulder. “If you need to talk, I can listen. Or if you’re not comfortable talking to me about it, then I’m sure Oneca would be happy to fulfill her friendship duties.”

She hesitated a moment before adding, “And yeah, I know about ‘different’ winning over normal. I had that happen this summer. I went on a trip and it brought back a lot of bad memories from my childhood. Things have been more stressful because of it. It happens to all of us, everyone of us has times where we struggle with what life is throwing at us.”

Her expression continued to offer solace and a kind ear as she smiled at him. Talking about his problems seemed a lot more fun than talking about hers. Honestly, she’d prefer to hear about the near-car accident or pregnancy scare that had shaken the young man to his core. She didn’t know him very well, but she did know the mask he presented to the world, and that was very different from what he was showing her now. And while he might not think she wanted to hear him whine, she did want to get to know the real Lucien. Listening to his struggles might give her insight into the polished veneer he presented.

August leaned in and ran a thumb over his chin, coming away with a bit of peanut butter and jelly. She licked it off her thumb in a manner that was borderline-coy; she wasn’t quite bold enough to sexualize it all the way. “Besides,” she added with a grin, “I might have goals, ambitions and desires, but I can set those aside for a time to help someone who is a friend – or who I’d like to be better friends with.” Much, much better friends. Possibly even ones with benefits. And dates.

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He pondered it over for a long moment before plopping the last half of his sandwich on the island. "Okay, you win." He said with renewed resolve. "But, you have to promise me that what I'm about to show you, you can't tell anyone about. Promise?"

"Um, okay," She really wasn't sure what can of worms she'd unlocked with the new direction the conversation had taken, but Lucien suddenly seemed lively all of a sudden. "Sure, I promise."

"Okay, now, this is probably going to wig you out in the extreme, but just stay calm." He excitedly went to the side of the island opposite to August and sat on one of the stools. Then, all of a sudden Lucien did the strangest thing...

He leaned down and glared intently as his sandwich.

Very intently.

And the sandwich did not at all seem intimidated.

"Well, I'm certainly calm." August interjected, trying not to be to harsh on Lucien as his stare down with the sandwich didn't seem to be going exactly as he planned (she couldn't tell honestly, for all she knew he was winning). "I'm pretty sure however that the sandwich is terribly sorry for whatever it's done and an apology letter is forth coming. If that helps any," She paused and her eyes fixed on the sandwich. "Oh my god."

Slowly the PB & J began to rise off the surface. Lucien squinted, as to signal that it required some mental control, and he obviously wasn't very talkative anymore. Up and up it went, slowly and in a controlled manner, wobbling from side to side a bit as gravity seemed to argue with the circumstances a bit. Then slowly it floated over to him and as he sat up it arced upwards traveling to him where he leaned in a took a bite from the floating sandwich then reached up and plucked it gently from out of the air. Once he grasped it the force seemed to 'let go' and the bread and filling went limp again.

"Pretty cool huh?" He asked with a grin as he chewed.

Telekinesis. Roll (7d10):2,8,9,9,8,7,4 Successes: 4 (enough to make it a little showy, like feeding himself with it) 1 Mana spent.

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"So your big secret is... magic tricks?" August asked uncertainly. Part of her was trying to figure out how he'd done that; she hadn't seen any setup or wires that might suggest how he'd managed a trick like that. "The thing that's been tormenting you all summer is... sleight of hand?"

But even as her mouth tried to impose reality on her life, August's mind was telling her that she was seeing what she was seeing. But those silent assurances only made her mad. Why was Lucien doing this to her? She had enough fucked up crap just in her normal waking hours; she didn't need to deal with Lucien trying to mess with her head as well.

"No, I made the sandwich float."

"Float? Against gravity?"

"Yes, in the air, like leaving the table. You saw it, August. I lifted it with my mind," Lucien's reply was truthful, sincere and said with justified pride. He was sharing something with August that he hadn't trusted to anyone else - and she blew up on him.

"Are you serious? You're doing this to me?" August looked hurt and defensive as she crossed her arms. "Did Oneca tell you?"

"Tell me?" Lucien asked, looking confused.

"About the god damned mental ward?!" August's voice had risen to a shout. Her green eyes flashed with true anger as she snarled, "She told you and then you thought you'd fuck with my head! I have enough trouble with seeing things to deal with you doing this to me! Fucking flying peanut butter and jelly?! You're such an ass!" She managed not to crown all that off with an admission of a now-dead crush, somehow.

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"Alright," Lucien said calmly while taking a deep breath. "Oneca hasn't told me anything about you August. If I wanted to know, I'd ask you. As we've already established: we all have problems. I was sharing something of mine, with you, and it appears I've somehow managed to offend you with my floating sandwich. How? I've no clue whatsoever, but I must admit, this is a first for me: offending with peanut butter and jelly."

He stood up and set his sandwich on the island, just as he did a moment prior. "I've apparently overstayed my welcome. My integrity has been called into question so I think I'm going to do myself a solid and get going." He sighed again and pursed his lips. The man was disappointed that was for certain, but it was hard to tell if it was was at her or with himself. "I hate to leave a mess, but I think I'll just set that right there and when you figure out how I moved it, give me a call will ya? Maybe if I'm not around you won't think I'm just doing it to, as you put it, 'fuck with your head', because I have nothing better to do with my time than cause you mental anguish. I'm sure whatever it is you're seeing, is on par with the multitude of messed up things I've been seeing lately and wish you the very best at coping with your," he searched for the right phrase but nothing seemed to fit right. "Whatever it is your issue or issues might be."

His keys jingled as he withdrew them from his pocket in preparation for leaving. "It's been nice talking with you and thanks for seeing that Oneca gets her iPod back. I guess I'll, uh, see ya later."

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August was truly torn. She really wanted to stop Lucien from leaving, but her mind was suspicious enough that she couldn't just let go of her fears. Not with any ease, anyway. Her tongue seemed stuck to the roof of her mouth as he turned to go; it was like watching him move in slow motion. She wanted to stop him, but she was afraid of being hurt.

"Wait!" The word didn't seem to have come from her mouth, but he was turning and looking at her. She must have said it. The indecision was clear on her face. "You... aren't messing with me?" she asked; showing him this much trust was hard, not when she was so sure he was laughing at her inside. Lucien shook his head at her. "Then show me how you did it. Show me the trick." Her green eyes were wide; she was afraid of something.

"There is no trick. I lifted it with my mind," Lucien repeated himself.

August shook her head too quickly, her denial of the situation mixed with her need for it to not be real. "That's not possible," she whispered. "It's not possible. How... how can you do that? Telekinesis isn't real."

Carver *rolls* 4d10: 3+10+5+10: 28

Carver *rolls* 2d10: 10+3: 13

Carver *rolls* 1d10: 6: 6

[Carver] 10:06 pm: So... yeah. I guess she likes him a lot.

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"Real." Lucien asked her plainly, his voice took on a more compassionate and inquisitive tone. "What is real, August?"

Lucien took a step towards her, lowering his head to get a better look at the woman as she lowered her eyes in denial. "In philosophy, reality is the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined." His tone took on more of a teacher before his pupil vibe as he spun his key ring around his finger making them jingle to a halt within his palm. "In a wider definition, reality includes everything that is and has been, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible. A still more broad definition includes everything that has existed, exists, or will exist, not just in the mind, or even more broadly also including what is only in the mind."

Gently he lifted her chin with a finger and looked into those lovely blue-green eyes. "So by it's very definition August, real is what we make it." Once again his smile melted her heart. His eyes remained locked on hers and his voice carried on it such sincerity that her doubts had doubts. He was smooth enough to wash away all her concerns, but he was certainly suave enough to have her attention once again.

"Do you ever remember your dreams, August?" He asked calmly and all the dark haired beauty could muster was a nod. "Me too, and in my opinion the best thing about dreams is that fleeting moment, when you are between asleep and awake, when you don't know the difference between reality and fantasy, when, for just that one moment, you feel with your entire soul that the dream is reality, and it really happened. Now, everyday is like that for me.”

"I don't understand." She hesitated to accept anything he was saying at face value, but there was such sincerity in his words that she was certain he was telling the truth, at least from his point of view.

"Open your mind to the possibility of real for me," He raised his eyebrows and smiled. "Give me the benefit of the doubt, and I will tell you that I did it with magic. Not slight of hand, not prestidigitation, but real, actually magic. Like Merlin and Orko kind of stuff."

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August shivered; his finger under her chin was like an electric shock. It downed out his words for a moment, but not long enough; she caught up again while he was still talking. His deep brown eyes held her as he spoke, even as he talked about impossible things. The anger and paranoia faded to sympathy and a bit of fear. He believed what he was saying. He was just as crazy as she was – no, more, because he accepted the insanity.

And she still wanted to sleep with him, though she was a little afraid of the dating idea, now.

“If I open my mind to real, then that precludes magic,” August said carefully. She was still smiling as she took his hand, trying to think of a kind way to break the shell of delusion he’d strung around himself. As Lucien’s smile faded, she said, “I don’t know what you want. You ask me to be open to the real but the real doesn’t include magic.” She kept his hand in hers, trying to communicate empathy and openness – and trying not to think about how nice his hand felt in hers.

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"The possibility of real August, to open your mind to the benefit of the doubt." He looked upon her with compassion in his eyes. They almost begged her to consider his words. "When I told Rosalind she didn't believe me either, and honestly, when I was told, I didn't believe it, that's for damn sure. Rosalind spent hours making up tests for me to try, and after several of them I felt tired, drained. But I passed them all and here I am. I have, powers."

He stepped away from her and paced a bit, searching for where to continue. He found his mark and looked back at her. "A guy was suppose to come back and teach me what to do with all this stuff, but he never did. Now all I have are friends. You know friends, right? The people who put a little faith in you regardless how off your nut you seem to sound." He sighed and she could tell that he was frustrated. He seemed to have an obvious weight on his shoulders and the more he spoke to her the heavier it seemed to get. "Whether you believe me or not is irrelevant, August. Tomorrow I will still be able to do the things I can do today. I'll still be floating sandwiches with my mind, arcing current through my body and controlling fire!" He actually gestured his hand outward in a Spider-Man motion as if flames were going to shoot forth from his finger tips. "Oh," he pointed at her and smiled. "I'll still be able to look at you and know that you haven't had nearly enough to eat today and if you don't watch your iron intake you're verging on anemia. Not uncommon among vegetarians. Eat more spinach." He rubbed his temple, trying to gather his thoughts, never realizing that August had never mentioned to him before that she didn't eat meat. "I'm sure you have rational explanations for how I can do or know all that, and have at em'. Like I said, it doesn't change me. I'm still the freak show in a world of 'normal'. It's all good."

"These are the cards we're dealt." He took a deep breath and stopped pacing. "I don't regret it, but I hate having to keep it all bottled up inside. For six months I've had this I haven't used it for anything. It's a useless power, and people don't believe me when I tell them about it, but it's mine and I'm sorry I brought it up, I didn't mean to freak you out. So, that's my personal drama, what are you carrying around with you?"

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August listened to him with growing confusion. All of the boasts he was making were easily disproved, and she knew he was smarter than that. But what really scared her was the personal statements he was making about her. She hadn’t eaten much today; Aradia’s waffles had smelled good, so she’d snitched one this morning, and that was it. And she didn’t eat much meat, mostly because it was expensive and August had watch Food, Inc. once.

Still, he’d admitted his insanity to her and it was her turn. “I’ve been seeing things all summer,” she admitted, lifting her chin. Strange that his confession had both cooled her ardor and left her willing to talk about it. “People who aren’t there. See, when I was little, I saw them all the time. But it was just imaginary friends and stuff. Therapy helped, and I was normal. But I was in Colorado for an internship, and it brought back memories of my childhood. And it all started again.” She forced a smile as she leaned against the kitchen counter and crossed her arms. “So I’ve been trying to get rid of it again, only it’s harder because it’s not a kid giving up her childhood fantasies, it’s me suffering a nervous breakdown.”

“What if they are there?” Lucien asked gently.

“No, no.” August shook her head. “No, they’re not. They’re not real. I can’t accept that. You don’t know what it’s like to be with friends and see one of these things, or to have one chase you down a street, trying to touch you. I don’t want to deal with this for the rest of my life!”

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"And your not accepting that is why you're losing your mind." He replied calmly, with a measure of carefully applied caution. "You know what? I don't doubt for a moment that you're telling me the truth. Do you remember the Sixth Sense? That movie where the kid saw dead people? Maybe you can see them, they know it, and they're reaching out to you. Maybe they need you August, who ever they are. Maybe they're suffering just as much as you are. What if your denial causes them suffering so they continue to gain your attention which in turn, causes you more suffering?"

He shrugged unknowingly, he believed August with every fiber of his being, but getting her to understand that was going to take a doctorates in psychology or lots of sex and chocolate... neither of which he had the time to accomplish in a single day. "I don't think you're crazy. I think sometimes you need to take some time to accept things as they are and then draw your conclusions. Acceptance is not submission, August." He stroked a gentle thumb across her cheek and then brushed her unkempt hair from her face. "It is acknowledgement of the facts of a situation. Then deciding what you're going to do about it.”

"If you want someone to help you, I'll do what I can." He offered her a wink. "No judgements, no preconceptions. Honest."

Manipulation + Persuasion + Striking Looks

Lucien is attempting to persuade August to trust him a little bit, since he obviously believes her and he's a bit of a loon himself. This is in no way an attempt to get August to suddenly and miraculously come to grips with issues, only that Lucien is honest, sincere, and a kindred spirit in a sea of her madness. He's a compassionate guy and just wants to help a friend. (Sex and chocolates sold separately)




Successes: 6

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August shivered as he touched her face, the long-desired touch of Lucien battling with her new knowledge of his lack of mental stability. His fingers left tingles as they passed over her skin, making her want to nuzzle into his hand. The girl felt that she could trust him, explicitly, which didn't help her keep it PG. August had never known men to be particularly trustworthy, but when she found one that was, that just made him seem all the hotter to her - like Lucien needed to be hotter. This is sooooo not fair!

She ignored the urges for now, frustrated. Had he done this before the sandwich 'trick', she probably would have tackled him and shown him her feelings for him. Now though... now, she beat her libido down, reminding her hormones that she needed stability in a partner, not insanity. It didn't matter how hot the package was, how rich and charming it could be; if the core was sick then August didn't need it. But oh, God, she wanted it.

"What if my request is for someone to help me get better? What if I say that all I want to be normal again? Will you help me with that?" August looked up at him with her big green eyes, begging him to give her the answer she needed. Of course, that wasn't all she was asking for; she'd liked him too long to stop wanting that just because he was nuts. Maybe it would fade in time but at the moment, the memory of his fingers still lingered on her over-excited nerves.

"Whatever you want, August," Lucien said soothingly.

She actually leaned forward a little, her lips begging to touch his. With a sharp mental reprimand, she pulled herself back, flushing a bright red. Damn it, he was so perfect - why did he have to be crazy?

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  • 3 weeks later...

Damn.. damn, damn, double damn.

Aradia pushed quietly off the wall from outside of the hallway entry to the kitchen. It didn't sound like Lucien was gonna pull any more tricks, but she could practically taste the paradox he'd probably created with his little "sandwich" trick. She hesitated for a moment, unsure exactly what to do in her current situation. She hadn't mean to overhear - really! - but she had been trying to be a little quieter. Personally, she didn't give two shits about what her little shit of a little cousin thought about her, but when she heard Saja giving Oneca shit about it.. and when she realized she'd woken August up on accident a couple of times (and the girl looks like she doesn't get enough sleep as it is!), she'd started making an effort to be a little less.. rowdy. She was used to it - the noise of the animals, the constant rambunctious atmosphere of the carnival, the roar of crowds and the craziness behind the scenes - honestly, the house was too quiet for Aradia sometimes, too muted and mellow, with echoes sometimes the only sounds that greeted her upon arrival. But she was trying really hard to adjust. Of course now, it had backfired on her, granting her access to a conversation she never should have overheard in the first place, and placing her in a situation she didn't really want to deal with. But someone had to, and she seemed to be the only volunteer present.

She slipped back upstairs quietly and waited a minute or two before making the decent again, this time in louder and more Aradia-like fashion. Quick inspiration struck, and she called out as she pounded down the stairs.

"August?! Oneca - is anyone here?"

She knew very well Oneca wasn't, at least not at the moment. That wasn't really the point. She hurried down the hall, and popped her head into the kitchen, doing her best to look frazzled about something, and to look as if she didn't realize she was interrupting something.

"Hey Aug - oh, hey Lucien. Nice to see you again. Sorry August, but have you got a sec?"

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Surprisingly, Lucien felt pretty good. Sure, August was off her nut and he was waiting for the nice little vest to arrive that'd help him hug himself all day, but it was nice to have finally told someone else about the weirdness he'd been going through. The fact that August had been seeing weirdness too lifted his spirits somewhat. He wasn't alone. L.A. was just crazy, at least that's what Atlas had told him. A crazy mixed up place that seemed to draw the supernatural to it like a beacon, that's why California had always remained in constant 'war' with all the different factions of supernaturals, everyone wanted it but no one seemed to know why.

Maybe he could help her he thought. Forces, Prime, Life, Sleepy, Bashful, Doc, Donner, Blitzen... crap... I know Death was in there somewhere... I can't even name the eight reindeer, how I am I supposed to remember the ten governing forces of the cosmos... and if his memory was any indication of how well he could assist her, they were both in a lot of trouble.

"Hey Aradia." Lucien said to her with his typical Lucien charm and Incubbi smile. "I'mna get some water real quick," he pointed to the kitchen casually then gave each of the ladies one last look before politely excusing himself with an exiting grin.

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Aradia shot Lucien a smile with such casual ease that it caused August to twitch a little inside, even as Aradia was inwardly cursing the handsome model seven ways from Sunday.

"Actually August, I was hoping maybe you could do me a favor. Could you.." She paused for a second, her mind scrambling to come up with something remotely believable. "Could you check the hot water generator, or whatever it's called? I tried to take a shower and it was fucking freezing. I'd check it myself, but I don't even know what one of those water generators-"

"..you mean water heaters?"

"Yeah, those. I don't even know what they look like, much less what to do with one. We had.. guys, you know? Mechanical guys who took care of that stuff. Maybe we need to call someone, or maybe there's a knob or something? I was hoping for a hot shower after my workout, I feel like ten tons of gross."

In truth, Aradia had just gotten out of the shower, and was perfectly clean. And while she didn't know much about hot water heaters, she at least knew how to check the frickin' knob. But it was the only thing she could think of off the top of her head, and she was hoping her 'still damp from the shower' ponytail would pass as 'sweaty from a workout' hair.

August nodded, interruption and relief at the interruption warring within her. She might not be entirely sure what to do about a broken hot water heater either, if indeed it was, but at least it gave her a few minutes to level herself out, a few minutes away from Lucien's distracting - and apparently mentally instable - presence. Aradia watched her go, letting out a slight breath of relief as she disappeared down the hallway. Then she rounded on the kitchen, stalking in and fixing Lucien with an expression somewhere between incredulous disbelief and righteous fury.

"Are you fuckin' nuts?! You can't go around telling sleepers about this shit. What the hell are you thinking?!"

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  • 2 weeks later...

Lucien froze like a deer in the head lights of an on coming van, his glass of water was tipped to his lips yet he dared not move. Slowly his eyes moved to the left, then to the right making sure that Aradia was addressing him (although he hoped it was someone else). With the wrath Barnum and Bailey's Bouncing Buxom Bette glaring at him with the fiery hatred of a thousand suns he mustered just enough courage to lower the glass (slowly, to prevent any further provocation...).

Lucien knew what a sleeper was, Atlas had told him, but under the circumstances neither the term nor Atlas's -albiet brief- teachings really came to mind. Sweet Jesus, every woman in this house is completely off their nut... thank god they're all so hot or this totally wouldn't be worth it.

"Oh, hey, speaking of fuckin' nuts," He replied right on cue with his usual swift retorts and casual disregard for any serious conversation. "There I was having some water at Oneca's this morning and some lady just started jumping down my throat for reasons that I've nary a clue. It was wild, you totally should have been there," He pause and let a sarcastic expression wash over his face. "Oh, wait, you were."

He resumed his usual 'to cool for anything' posture and leaned the half full glass of water towards Aradia. "Water? Hate for you to have to crucify me on a raspy throat. Par for the course, you're the second this morning... in this house..." He rolled his eyes with a measure of disbelief at his own luck. "Imagine that."

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Aradia opened her mouth for a second, the expression on her face one of a woman about to unleash some true fury. Then she stopped, as if considering, and her face took on a bit of a contrite appearance instead, if still a touch irritated.

"Okay.. fair enough, that was sort of..."



He shrugged, as if unwilling to debate the fact, and she tried to conceal a small smile, even as she glanced over her shoulder towards the door she just came in through.

"Okay, fair enough. A little of both, then. But seriously, that guy you mentioned, or the Rosalind chick, or whoever..."

She tapered off a bit at his glare, realizing that she'd just revealed herself as an eavesdropper.

"Sorry - seriously, I'm sorry! I don't normally listen in on conversations. I just came down and heard August kind of freaking out, and heard what you were talking about, and.. got kind of freaked myself at the fact that you were telling her. Figured I'd better stick around in case you needed some damage control or something. I'm not normally a nosy bitch Lucien, I promise. But listen, I don't know how much longer we've got before August comes back. I'm really surprised they didn't tell you at least some of this. The thing is, you can't blame August if she doesn't believe you. They can't. Or.. they'll believe you, but forget. Or not believe you and forget, too. They can't help it. If they're a sleeper, then they're wired that way. It means 'unawakened', someone who might have the potential to be a mage but isn't. All humans are sleepers, though some have more potential to awaken than others. But - and seriously, this is the sucky part - there's this thing called paradox. It's hard to explain, but..."

She trailed off for a second, trying to think of a quick way to explain such a complex theory.

"It's like Peter Pan, okay? Every time someone says 'I don't believe in fairies', somewhere there's a fairy that falls over dead. You remember that? There are mages who say that paradox is like that. Like, every time you show off, do something flashy or unbelievable that a sleeper sees, somewhere there's someone who won't ever awaken. Or.. something like that."

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Lucien quirked a devilish eyebrow, his mind spinning as he tried to follow Aradia's ramblings. "So, one, you just killed a fairy."

Then came the serious expression on his face as he stood up and set the water on the counter. He folded his arms and looked her in the eyes as he presented his next inquiry. "Aradia, what are you talking about and how do you know any of this? Besides, Rosalind sees me do all kinds of stuff and she doesn't mind at all. She helps me practice and thinks it's pretty cool. So this Paradox dude can blow me."

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She shook her head firmly, trying to suppress a smile but failing this time.

"It doesn't count if I didn't mean it. Besides, I've heard fairies are total dicks."

He arched a brow, and she shook her head.

"Sorry - let's not.. go there yet. Anyway, that's not quite what I mean."

She pulled out one of the stools at the kitchen counter, and sat down across from him.

"I don't know how Rosalind is, or what. Maybe she's not a sleeper, maybe she's some other kind of supernatural. They're out there, and they believe. Or maybe she's an exception to the rule, I don't know. What I know is that you normally shouldn't. Lemme try to give you an example. When I first found out about this shit - about four years ago now - I was still traveling with the circus. Living with my mom. And you've got to understand, my mom is a raging bitch from hell. No shit. So I tried to throw it in her face. 'Hey Mom - I can do magic. Alter the cosmos. Fuck with your mind.' And of course, she treated me like I was off my fuckin' rocker.. big surprise there. But that's not the weird part. The weird part is that when I tried to bring it up again a few days later, she acted like she had no clue what the hell I was talking about. Now, I know my Mom lives in an almost permanent state of drunk or high. But she wasn't then, and she wasn't when I brought it up again either. She just.. didn't remember. And my mom ALWAYS remembers shit that she can throw back in my face and make me feel like a moron for. It's like.. a trademark of hers. My point is, that's not the kind of shit she would forget. And even if she did forget once, there's no way she would have twice. But.. she never mentioned it again. And that is definitely not my mom."

She reached across the counter and picked up the glass he'd sat down, taking a small drink and giving him a moment to digest what she was saying. She could see the disbelief in his expression. That look she knew she'd given Ardwinna a hundred times. The look that said "You've gotta be fucking kidding me". But she pressed on, determined to try to help him understand what she was talking about, to make him understand the importance of it.

"See, the shitty thing about paradox is that it can come back to bite you in the ass. It's not a person, it's.. it's a rule. Like.. gravity. It's like we're breaking the rules of nature with our abilities, which is okay. It's what we do. But.. the more people - the more sleepers, anyway - that see us break the rules, the more it can turn around and fuck with you. It can do bad stuff, like make us lose control, or go crazy. Or worse. Really. I mean.. floating a peanut butter and jelly around isn't huge, I guess. But the more you do it, or the flashier you get about it.. the more of a risk you're taking. And not one with any real worthwhile payoff. Does that make sense?"

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