Jump to content

World of Darkness: Attrition - Loose Ends (Complete)

Astra D.

Recommended Posts

"What was it like, in the end?

- What it always is. A handful of yarn; a little weaving and stitching; some embroidery perhaps. A few loose ends, but that's only to be expected..."

-Clotho and Lachesis, ‘The Kindly Ones’


March 22, 2009

The night before the official start of Spring Break found Morgan in Loki’s basement, bunched up in a corner of his broken-down old couch with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ‘Cherry Garcia’ ice cream and a weighty silver tablespoon. Her eyes were rimmed in red, and as the gorgeous couple embraced on the television screen, and a seductive voice announced the name of Calvin Klein’s newest fragrance, she jabbed the spoon viciously into the frozen dessert, glowering at the vapid-looking models.

Reva was still emphatically demonstrating precisely how she was going to “beat the loser out of him” with some completely impractical “genuine martial arts” moves she’d gotten from chop socky films. Any other time, it would’ve been hilarious, but Morgan was too upset to notice. The guys were trying to talk about, well, guy-related things in an effort to avoid any estrogen-fueled wrath that might be directed their way; that, in truth, was probably for the best. Mostly, they just stayed out of the way.

Her cheeks grew warm as she remembered the screaming she’d heard from the house at the corner of Wyton and Hilgard, and how quickly the realization had dawned that they were not shrieks of terror. As panic subsided, anger had settled in, putting down roots that ran tangled and deep into her tumultuous young heart. She’d only narrowly resisted the urge to pound on the door and confront him directly, because that would’ve been too much like what he’d have done himself. Instead, with a vindictiveness that would only leave her feeling unsatisfied later, she’d simply walked away.

Cell phone to her ear, she’d strolled back down the sidewalk, praying he didn’t answer. She had imagined him glaring at the phone, and growling something wicked in Random Girl’s ear as they kept going. She’d wondered who it was, and scowled. It didn’t matter, really. Probably not Amber. They both seemed to think that’d be creepy. That still left, oh, a few thousand girls who’d probably giggle and coo over how rugged he was, maybe run their hands over his biceps, or his chest, or…

She had heard his voice, and froze mid-step. Just a recording. So he really hadn’t answered. “Declan, it’s Morgan,” she breathed languidly into the phone. “I can tell you’re busy, so I’ll make this quick. I just wanted to congratulate you on what I’m sure must’ve been a multitude of conquests while I was gone. I thought you wouldn’t fuck me because you wanted more than just a… what was it? Oh. Right. 'A meal for your dick.' If what I’ve heard is right, you’ve had a whole god-damned buffet, and I really, really hope it’s worth it. …Oh, and that she gives you syphilis,” she added sharply. “Don’t bother calling. Consider this my way of getting the last word.”

There had been no waiting around to see the results of her handiwork, and she’d figured he’d probably call her as soon as he actually heard the message… So she’d called Reva, informed her friend tersely that she’d been right… yes, for the first time, so she could feel free to mark it on her calendar… and she’d meet her at Loki’s in a few minutes. Reva, wisely, had been prepared, and so there she sat.

She felt like an idiot. She felt like a fool. Most of all, though, she felt like the loser on prom night who got stood up for the head cheerleader. …Or, in this case, possibly the entire squad.

Whatever, she told herself, scowling as she shovelled another bite of ice cream into her mouth. One less thing I have to worry about, right? It’s all bullshit complications anyway, and we weren’t even dating, so why do I care?…Yeah, Reva. Yeah, I’m sure you could whip him from one side of the campus to the other. Whatever.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

March 25, 2009

The next few nights Morgan spent out, in places she knew he’d never go: crowded places, noisy places, smoky places where people disappeared into dark corners or wedged themselves into the mass of bodies on the dance floor. The last thing she wanted to do was run into him, and it wasn’t so much the mage’s innate mortal fear at the thought of an enraged creature from the days of legend, as her acknowledgement of the fact that she really did want to run into him.

No, she growled inwardly, the sound of her heels clacking on the wet pavement as she headed down the sidewalk. The air was heavy and somehow slick against her skin as the humidity skyrocketed after the rain, and her dark hair clung wetly to her face and the nape of her neck. Just no, Morgan.

Before she could start berating herself, however, Fate intervened. At least, that was how it seemed, in retrospect.

Without warning, someone stepped directly into her path, a great, dark shape that blotted out the crowded sidewalk. She hadn’t the time to move aside, and only managed to utter a muffled shriek of surprise as her next step carried her, stumbling, into the arms of the stranger.

“Oh, god, I’m sorry!” she began, flustered and struggling to regain her balance. “I totally wasn’t paying attention. Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” came the bemused, and pleasantly male reply. It’d been a long time since someone’s voice alone had sent such lovely tingles down her spine, nevermind the warm, firm arms that were steadying her. “Though when my horoscope for today said to beware of falling angels, I wasn’t expecting to catch one here on earth.” Dark, velvety blue eyes swallowed her up as she stared into the face of her… rescuer? Well, he hadn’t let her fall on her ass, at least, so it was close enough, she reasoned. He was good-looking, if not stunningly so, with a slightly crooked nose, a mouth that was a trifle too wide, and the most gorgeous eyes she’d ever seen on someone who wasn’t Liz Taylor. There was no way he was a model, or probably even an actor, but with a voice like that? Hell, she’d pay to listen to him read the phone book.

“Ha! Well, at least it’s original,” she grinned, raking a hand back through her hair to push it away from her face. “Anyway, I’m really sorry about that, and thanks for the chivalry. It’s hard to find these days, y’know?” A fine mist of rain continued to fall, and the sidewalk glittered under the array of neon signs and traffic lights.

“It is.” Nodding agreeably, he straightened the front of his long wool coat, frowning as he studied her. “You know, I’m usually not this forward, but I could have sworn that I’ve seen you somewhere before.”

Oh, no. I’m pretty sure I’d remember you if we’d met, she mused, unconsciously licking her lips as she looked up at him.

“Ah! That’s it!” he crowed, clapping his hands together abruptly and wagging a finger at her. “The Shadow Box. You’re the girl who trained with Ka-Ren, am I right?” His question, combined with the triumphant note in his voice, floored her completely. Her shock quickly evaporated, however, replaced with a surge of fear. How the hell did he know that?

With a quick shake of her head, and a smile that probably looked as fake as it felt, she waved goodbye.

“Sorry, you must have me confused with-“

“No, no, I’m sure of it. I know that’s where I’ve seen you,” he persisted. Then, as if sensing her agitation, he smiled apologetically. “Look, you don’t have to worry. I’m… in the club, so to speak. He and I both study some of the same things. He spoke very highly of you, by the way, said you were quite talented, if a bit more ambitious than he’d like.”

Her pretty features scrunched into a frown, but she didn’t walk away.

“Maybe you should start by telling me who you are, since you already know who I am.”

“Er, yes, of course. I’m terribly sorry about that. It’s just that it seemed like such a serendipitous thing, running into you like this, I just assumed it was Fate.” He paused for a moment, glancing around the darkening streets. “My name is Michael. Look, I’d really love to keep chatting with you, but it’s absolutely awful out here. Can I… get you a cup of coffee?”

For Morgan, those were the magic words.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

March 31, 2009

“…And that’s all, really.”

“Okay, but isn’t LA National supposed to be one of the most dangerous places in the area?” Morgan asked dubiously, staring at the Moros over the rim of the earthenware mug as she took another sip.

“And that’s precisely why it’s the ideal place.” On seeing that she wasn’t quite convinced, Michael leaned back in the booth and spread his hands. “Morgan, you’re a bright girl. Think about it. We gather the accoutrements and trappings of death because it helps tie us a bit closer to our work. It won’t come as naturally for you, because you’re on a different path. The more potent the influence, the more concentrated the activity, the more likely you are to get the results you want. I’m sure there’s a hallow there, somewhere, or else the energy wouldn’t be so… off-the-charts!” he whispered excitedly, leaning forward again and resting his elbows on the table. “All we have to do is find it, Morgan.”

“I get where you’re coming from, but-“

“But? It’s there. It has to be. The only reason people haven’t found it is because they’re afraid, Morgan. That’s it. It’s the same fear that keeps us from making any real progress, from learning anything new. If we’re ever going to reach our true potential, we’ve got to conquer that fear and move beyond the limitations we’re setting for ourselves!”

Her slim, pale fingers tightened around the mug, and she stared into the dark liquid contained within. He was right. It didn’t make her any less afraid, but she knew it was true. If she was ever going to get answers, she was going to have to stop limiting herself. She was going to have to get out of her own way.

“All right,” she breathed, exhaling her agreement in a shaky whisper. “We’ll find them, then.”

With a faint, comforting smile, he leaned toward her, resting one well-manicured hand over hers.

“You’ll find them, Morgan. If there are any secrets to be gained, they’ll be yours. I’m just the guy who’s going to help you do it.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

April 04, 2009

“What?!” Reva shrieked, her eyes wide with disbelief. “No way, Morgan. Uh-uh. That’s like… suicide, or something!”

With a sigh, the Acanthus tucked another pillow under her head. The dorm room looked strange, with bare walls and boxes stacked everywhere, and Swara’s things were long gone. Probably locked up for her parents or something, Morgan reasoned.

"You can't just ditch your classes and... go home! She's like the evil psycho hose-beast, right? What if she tricks you out, or bakes you into a pie, or makes you get a job, or something?!"

“It’s not that bad,” she tried, then stopped at Reva’s warning glare. “So it’s not exactly ideal. I’ll survive. It’s probably only for the summer, anyway, and maybe it’ll even be good for us. Y’know, give us a chance to bond, or something.” There was a tiny part of her that felt guilty for lying to one of her oldest friends, but the bigger parts knew there was no way in Hell she’d understand. She couldn’t possibly know what it was like to be afraid of going to sleep at night because she’d have to relive the worst moments of her life. Even if she could’ve gotten around the magickal bits, the drummer just wasn’t geared to be introspective, and visions of twisted metal and broken bodies would just lead her to assume she’d been playing too much Gears of War.

“Okay, sure. But, couldn’t you start small?” Reva asked plaintively. “A phone call once in a while, or an email, or something? Do you have to go live with her?”

Morgan sat up on the bed, pulling her friend into a tight hug.

“It won’t be forever, and I’ll call you all the time, okay? Don’t worry. If Janna pulls any crazy shit, you’d better believe I’ll be right back here.”

Her smile, at least, was sincere.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

April 05, 2009

She could still hear the music from last night's going-away party throbbing in her brain, a dull, insistent ache that stubbornly refused to flee, even in the face of caffeine and cigarettes.

The fingers of Morgan's left hand idly massaged the bridge of her nose as she sat hunched over her desk for one last time. She hadn't spent much time there, even when she was enrolled in school, and it felt awkward now. In a way, she mused, this really was much like a suicide. She had no way of knowing if she'd be successful, and here she was, writing out thank-you notes to her professors and brief letters to the few acquaintances she'd made. She was going home, the notes said, to reconnect with her long-estranged mother, and to work on her portfolio and gain real-world experience with a gallery there. She would not be re-enrolling this term, and regretted that she had to leave so abruptly, and she hoped to continue her education there at a later date. She hadn't ever really experienced goodbye before; not like this.

With a sigh, she tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear and reviewed her list. The format of the lie was more or less the same for everyone, with only the greetings and closings changed slightly out of courtesy. The dark, greenish-black notecards were stamped with a Victorian pattern of silvery acanthus leaves, and the message inside was carefully scribed in her own angular hand in the same silver ink. They were all sealed with a curiously formal affectation: a coin-shaped splodge of green wax into which she'd pressed an "O" stolen from the printmaking supply room.

When she had finished them all, she packaged them carefully into her messenger bag and strode out into the warm afternoon sun. One by one, they found their way into mail-slots, lockers, receptionists' hands, and, in one case, the knot of a tree.

As the small collection dwindled, a curious feeling came over her. It was as if everything was settling into place, all the random, disparate threads of her life being neatly interwoven, knotted, and cut away as excess. It wasn't an entirely pleasant sensation, she realized, and instead of feeling relieved by the closure, she felt only a sharp twinge of regret, like the rasp of scissors across the fabric of her soul.

Resolutely, she continued on, until only one remained. It was late afternoon by the time she approached the house that sat just off campus, a house that formed one of the anchors for the werewolves' territory at UCLA. The windows were dark, but she wasn't willing to risk the door. Instead, she quietly slipped the small card into the mailbox and, without a backward glance, steeled herself and walked away into the deepening twilight.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...