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Dave ST

Chosen 02a: The After Party [Casey]

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The night had turned into a social train wreck. Within moments he keys were on the counter, her dress was on the bed, and she was in her favorite workout gear. Maybe an hour or two in the gym would help her burn off the seething rage that burned just below the surface of her skin. Tonight was a prime example of why that wold of high society wasn't for her. She was raw, pure, simple and honest. She didn't, and wouldn't compromise her ethics for a single cent of blood money... and the whole studio tonight reeked of it.

She walked from her room, popping her ear buds in her ears and set her phone's play list as she scooped her keys up from the counter. She walked to the door and with a twist of the knob swung it open to stand face to face with Horatio, hand raised as if about to knock.

Stunned, he stood back. “Casey... uh, look, we really need to talk.”

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Casey looked up at the tall man who had humiliated her and slammed the door in his face… reared back and kicked him in the genitals and gouged his eyes when he bent over in pain… jumped against him throwing her arms around his muscular neck and…

Casey shook her head and glared at him then closed her mouth as all of that and a few more ‘scenes’ flashed through her mind. She was worrying her tightly drawn lips between her teeth, then stepped back opening the door wider letting Horatio come in.

As he stepped into the apartment past her she closed the door hard but not quite a slam and said, “You have some fucking nerve coming here.”

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"Okay," he said pensively, search for the right way t ophrase it so he didn't do all those things she was thinking about.  "You're angry.  I was somewhat dishonest, but I assure you, Casey... you're not ready for the truth."

He didn't sit down.  He paced around her living room in his three thousand dollar suit expressing his phrases with his arms and hand gestures.  "I didn't mean for things to go the way they did, Casey, but... but damnit you make things so difficult.  Not everyone is out to get you!  D'Sombra?  Out to get you.  Those lawyers tonight?  She invited them to get under your skin.  Every emotional roadblock in your way tonight she put there to rile you up until..."

"Until what," Casey seethed.

"Until you did exactly what you did.  Become a hammer and go after everything that looked like a nail.  She's a manipulator, and she won't be happy until she has you."

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"Has me?" 

The look Casey gave Horatio was one of incredulity. She opened her moth, closed it and shook her head, then walked right past him still shaking her head, into the kitchen where she pulled a glass (a drinking glass) from the cabinate and got a bottle of wine out of the fridge. She filled the glass and drank half of it off in one drought.  She didn't offer Horatio a drink, not even a water.

"Won't be happy until she has me." She drank the rest of the wine and filled the glass then went back into the living room and plopped onto the couch, glass in one hand bottle in the other. "What the fuck is that even supposed to mean?"

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Horatio paced about while Casey glared at him until finally he stopped and looked her dead in the eyes.  "Fine.  You think you're ready?  You want the truth?  Ravenna D'Sombra is a thousand year old vampire.  She rules New York's Shadow Courts.  She's literally the supernatural Queen of New York, and she wants you because you have a power that hasn't been unlocked yet.  She's unaware of the dangers.  Something is coming, Casey, it's hungry and it's so evil that it makes women like Ravenna look like they were born into Heaven's Bliss."

He took in a deep breath and sighed.  "And yes, I'd love some wine, thank you."

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Casey sat there glass halfway to her mouth and just stared at Horatio. 

It started as a small giggle which made her breasts jiggle. She sat up, the giggle growing more pronounced and set the bottle and glass on the coffee table. By now the giggle was a laugh and she was bent over holding her sides as it became more and more desperate and maniacal.

It seemed that she was finally cracking from the strain of everything. Which was a shame since she had really thought she had handled her mother and losing her job pretty well.

Somewhere in there the laughing turned into sobs.

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Horatio stood there with nothing more than an expression of shock.  That was certainly not the reaction he was expecting from Casey.  "Uh..."  was all he could muster as she broke down and began crying.

He slowly approached her and wrapped his arms around her.  It was an intimate embrace, it was more the 'I'm not sure what do right now, so I saw this in a movie and I hope it works' manner of awkward embrace.  "Look, I uh," he started.  He held he close and let her get it all out of her system.  "I know it's a lot, but, your life is forever changed.  I didn't change it, no one did, and you certainly didn't ask for any of this... but the spirits have dropped this on your doorstep, and you have to live with it.  They sent me to help you.  To help all of you.  I'm trying, here, Casey.  All I'm asking for is a chance."

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Her sobs went back to laughter as her over-stressed brain really tried to process shit she didn't understand. Casey gently pushed Horatio away and wiped her eyes, looking for a tissue but the box wasn't where is should have been so she just sniffed.

"Horatio, if that is even your real name," she sniffed again and then faced him eye to eye, "that has got to be the biggest crock of shit anyone has ever told to try and make up for being a douche. Because you were a douche, you know."

She takes a deep breath, looks at the wine in the tall glass but doesn't reach for it, lets the breath out,  "But, I'm good at knowing when I'm being lied too. And I don't believe your lying to me.

So, why don't you start over and explain things without all the hyperbole."

 

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"No hyperbole, Casey."  Horatio said as he stepped away from her and walked back around the kitchen into the living room.  He stuffed his hand in the pockets of his suit and finally turned to face her.  "Everything you believe about your reality... is a lie.  Magic is real.  Werewolves are real.  Vampires are real.  And monsters?  Very real, Casey."

He took one hand out of his pocket and she heard the slight jingle of change or his keys, maybe?  "Me?  I'm over eighty years old.  Horatio Mourne is my real name, but I'm also my own son."  The look she gave him demanded an explanation.  He chuckled.  "I wasn't lying when I said I went to the coffee shop with my dad.  You, just weren't born yet.  I was Horatio Mourne Jr., then.  After some time I faked my death and left everything to my son, Horation Mourne the third, technically me."  He pointed to himself.

"We werewolves live a very, very long time.  We're not immortal like vampires, but we can go a couple centuries if we're lucky, or good at what we do."  He paced around he living room, expressing himself with his free hand as he spoke.  "If you stave off disbelief, as keep an open mind, yes, Casey, I can prove it to you.  I know I was cruel at the party, Casey, but the purpose was two fold.  One, I still have an image to portray before The Herd-"

"Woah... wait, The Herd?"  She asked.

"Normal people.  Everyday mortal Joes and Janes going about their lives."  He stated.  "I had a reputation, and I had to enforce that reputation with so many people around.  After all, that is my day job.  Second, I needed to see if the stress or the pressure would awaken anything within you.  The Elders and I of my pack... well, to be honest, we don't exactly what's so special about you and the others, but make no mistakes, something out there wants you dead, and myself and some colleagues of mine have been assigned to keep you safe."

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Take a deep breath blow it out. "You are a werewolf? And your helping me? But aren't werewolves supposed to be mindless monsters who murder people on the full moon?"

Realizing what she just asked, Casey in a burst of panic gets up and walks rapidly tot he window and peaks out the curtain up at the nighttime sky.

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Horatio chuckled, keeping his hands in his pockets he kept pacing about.  It was honestly nice to talk about this stuff with someone other than a werewolf and not be in violation of the Silver Pact.  "No, Casey.  I can change my form whenever I wish, although, depending on the phase of the moon that can easier, or harder for me.  Longer, or shorter.  Forget what you've read, we are not forced to change on certain nights, we don't become just wolves, we have several forms we can take, all wolf related.  Strong emotions can trigger a change, even some forms of magic, but by and large most Garou can change when so they choose."

"Garou?"  She asked, cautiously.

"What we call ourselves.  Garou.  Most simply refer to us a 'The People'.  We've been the stewards and protectors of this world since before humans we a thing."  He stopped and faced her, smiling with a bit of pride.  "We come from all walks of life, all manner of tribes, and we protect the world from malevolent spirits and evils some you can see, most have remained invisible to you... until recently.  From evil warlocks, to corrupted fae to... well, vampires and everything in between.  If it helps to process... my life is like Hellboy if we had an unlimited special effects budget, except the CGI is actually trying to kill me."

"So, you're like the werecat guy in Hellboy?"  She ventured a guess.

"Please," Horatio snickered.  "Werecats are pussies."

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As crazy as it sounded Casey knew he was telling the truth, and that was comforting. She began going through everything she had appeared to witness since meeting him in her mind, looking at it in a new light, like a logic puzzle where the puzzle was the lack of logic. But everything gives way to logic you just had to see it, find it.

"She did something to me at the party, didn't she? D'Sombra, I mean. I was nervous about being at the party but I went full on Panic gurl when she showed up."

She walks into he kitchen retrieves another water glass and a large wine glass. opens a new bottle of wine and fills the wine glass then fills the water glass with water from the filtered tap. Back in the living room she gives Horatio the wine and takes a sip of her water.

Horatio observes her silently the whole time and takes the wine when she offers it.

"So,  you say she is a vampire, well as pretty as she was I'm still guessing not the sparkly twilight kind, so is she an Ann Rice vampire, a Stephen King vampire, or a Stoker?" She said this while turning away and taking a few steps then quickly turns back, "Doe she know your a werewolf?"

Her eyes go wide, "Am I a werewolf?"

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Horatio chuckled again.  "Well, we don't know," he shrugged honestly.  "Usually, if you were, you'd have undergone your first change by now.  That's where most tales of werewolves are true... we don't control the change, and... well, we don't control ourselves most of the time.  Generally that happens around puberty, no offense, but I think you're a few years past that."

He sipped his wine nodded.  "Nice."  He complimented.  "She knows I'm a werewolf, yes.  Most of us supernaturals keep tabs on the others.  You see, just like humans, even we have our bad apples.  Ravenna might be evil and conniving, but believe it or not, she's one of the good ones, but she is old, and very powerful by Kindred standards.  She can influence people's emotions, lord over a room like a queen or have everyone cowering in fear of her.  We supernaturals are more resilient to it, as we have our own tricks."

"All I really know about you, Casey is that you are Chosen, by what or whom, I have no idea.  People smarter and wiser than me do know... but they're not picking up the phone."

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Casey's cheeks redden at the puberty crack and she looks away but smiles too. She listened intently to what he was saying well aware of their physical closeness and he obvious attraction. OMG, she thought, he has animal magnatisim. She couldn't hold the giggle in.

"...they're not picking up the phone." His brow furrowed at her giggle, "What is so funny?"

"Nothing Horatio, " she steps close and put a hand on his chest but the laughter is still there in her eyes, "really just a stray thought." She giggled again, "I'm sorry," she says smiling up at him and losing herself in his eyes, " but if they aren't answering the phone maybe we need to ring the doorbell."

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"That's just it," he paused.  "The people I deal with, and, possibly you and the other Chosen at some point, aren't exactly... well, people, Casey.  Spirits, demons, angels, you name it, everyone wants a thumb in the Chosen's pie, but they're all very old and greedy and won't tell us why.  They're not really the doorbell type, either."

"I can imagine," Casey chuckled.

"We need to know who the other Chosen are, and I think Ravenna knows."  He motioned towards her with his wine glass.  "She's invited you to meet with her.  We can use this, if you're willing.  Do you own a 'little black dress'?"

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She rolls her eyes at the question, "Is the ocean made of water?" 

She drinks some water as she ponders, "Okay, this isn't going away so we go in and meet it head-on. What do you need me to do and where do we need to do it?"

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"She's offered to meet with you, next week."  He paced a bit faster, excited that she seemed ready to go along with it.  "Show up, meet, put up with her ego and attitude," he pointed at Casey and stopped his pacing.  "Don't piss her off.  I know that's asking a lot, I've known her for four decades and I want to press her face into a wall every time I talk to her, but a woman like her you need to play up to her ego.  Swallow the pride pill and just see what you can find out.  Before next Friday, we'll get together and I'll introduce you to my pack, er, my team."

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"I'll make the call in the morning," she said nodding. 

"That other woman, Maya, is she like me, a chosen?" There may have been a hint of jealousy in her question after all Casey had seen the way the other woman had been looking at Horatio.

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"I don't know,"  he shook his head as he considered the question.  "It's possible.  I have my team consulting with jagglings, so, we may know more in the few days.  I think she might be though.  Ravenna doesn't do anything by mistake.  Maya was as out of place as a person could be and if she wasn't supposed to be there, well, I know Raven.  Maya would be three pints low and begging for death.  Instead, she was cordial, which means she wants something from Maya."

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"I'm going to have to start taking notes," she said as she stepped back and crossed her arms  under her ample breasts drawing Horatio's gaze to them. "I have no Idea what a jaggling is," she holds up her hand to stop the forthcoming explanation before it starts, "you can fill me in later if I really need to know. I'll call D'Sombra tomorrow and accept her invitation.

But for now it's late, been a very long day, and I need to get to bed"

Casey walks to the door places her hand on the knob, and looks back at Horatio, "Or are you staying?"

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Horatio's cheeks flushed.  It was subtle, but it was there.  Casey sure wasn't the beat around the bush, demure type, that was for sure.  He managed a smile, a polite one that told her he wasn't goign to stay.  She'd read faces in the courtroom of times and could tell a lot from their expression.  "Ah, no.  No, I'm sorry but I-I should get going...," he managed another, flushed smile that almost gave him a schoolboy quality charm to him.  "Thank you for the wine, though."

He stepped out and turned as she was closing the door.  "Should you need anything, Casey, please, just call."  A polite nod signified the begin of his long walk down the hallway of her apartment building.

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