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World of Darkness: Attrition - Autumn Evenings [Fin]

Sarah Dead-Wolf

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[Evening, 19 Oct 2009]

A gentle wind caught Sarah's red hair and set it into motion as she rose from the soil, matching leaves on the oaks that towered above Holmby Park. There was a warmth in the wind, even after sunset. Back home, they'd have call this an "Indian summer", a final brief flirtation with the sun before the world was shrouded in grey clouds and the silent blanket of winter's snows. Here in Los Angeles, it was simply called "October".

Even now, after nearly half a decade of slumbering in the ground on a daily basis, she was a little surprised that she didn't look dirty. Aside from a stray leaf or three picked up while passing through the grass, she and the earth truly parted ways upon her rising, both firm in the knowledge of reintroduction and resumption of their quiet affair before the break of dawn.

As had become her habit of late, Sarah went looking for prey of four legs rather than two. It might not be as fulfilling, but in the wake of that final failure with the Topangas, it at least felt less... monstrous. That was what Kris had called her: a monster. And while her diet hadn't been the focus of that unwanted moniker, the guilt had stuck with her nonetheless. So off she went, shifting into her favorite form, in search of one of the true pests of L.A. And a few blocks later, led by the sound of rattling trash cans she found it.

The raccoon really never had a chance.

Refreshed by her meal (taken without Gangrel claws, she was happy to note to herself), and returning to her original two legs, Sarah cut a course north and west. It was werewolf territory, of course - short of taking wing, there was no way to leave her own ground without setting foot on land claimed by Declan or Amber, Ariel or No-Moss. But she tread here knowing that they'd not begrudge her the passage. Side by side, they had taken on a number of mutual threats, enough where accommodation for passage had been made.

So no steely jaws clamped around her legs, no hot breath steamed at her neck, as she crossed the grounds of UCLA, passing the occasional knot of students as she went. Finally, Declan's territory passed behind her and she stepped on territory of a different sort. Up the driveway she went, then pushed the familiar button and got the familiar reply.

"Roz, it's Sarah. Can you buzz me in?"

The house was immaculate, as always. Sarah had no idea how much Lucien paid his housekeeper, but it probably wasn't enough. Especially putting up with him, she chuckled.

She crossed Roz's path in one of the hallways. "Good to see you tonight, Sarah," the stunning beauty said. "He's in the study." She didn't offer her something to eat, and hadn't since mid-summer. Either she'd got used to Sarah's polite but firm refusals, or Lucien's housekeeper knew more than she was letting on. But she apparently wasn't going to bring up the topic... and Sarah sure as hell wasn't, either.

"Thanks, Roz. I'll go surprise him."

It was a bit of a joke. Ever since a mishap months and months before that involved salt, televisions and levitation, Lucien had been effectively unsurprisable. Probably put a wizard bug in me or something, she mused as she reached the heavy oaken doors. A couple light knocks, and she swung the thing open on well-oiled hinges and slipped inside.

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Would you know my name;
If I saw you in heaven?
Will it be the same;
If I saw you in heaven?
I must be strong, and carry on.
Cause I know I don't belong;
Here in heaven.

His fingers slipped gracefully along the neck of his acoustic guitar, each chord echoing the tell-tale song of a well known music legend. It was one of the strange things about magic that made Lucien ponder as he sung the lyrics with a near hypnotic melody. For all his power and might when came to manipulating reality, he could barely do justice to a song like 'Tears in Heaven'. Clapton was a legend, and no amount og magic could make Lucien more skillful than pure, passionate, natural talent. So, without the boon of magic this evening, the young Warlock sung the song and strummed the chords and seen exactly how far his natural talent would take him.

Then his mind tingled. His brain sent to senses a series of signals which in turn became scents and sensations. Those scents and sensations in turn went back to his mind and delivered him a simple message: Sarah nearby. Sensing the consciousness of others close by was a tricky thing to understand. His mind acted like an antenna, receiving signals from the conscious thoughts of those around him, and his mind translated those signals into identities. Most of the time it was 'this girl' or 'that guy, over there', but when he knew the person he recognized their signals like seeing their face at several paces away.

Hearing her knock would have been difficult, seeing her come in, more so since his back was to her from where he sat of on the arm of the incredible expensive leather sofa. Noticing her among the room once she entered was nearly impossible the way she silently moved with a predatory grace and stealthy stride.

Trying to sneak up on the Mage is what passed for games among the supernatural community. smile The on going five dollar bet between Sarah and Declan as to whether or not they could sneak up on a guy who could sense the presence of consciousness was certainly known to Lucien 'Bruce Wayne' Hunt, and he was certainly going to make them earn every nickle of it.

The flat of his palm gently halted the vibration of the guitars strings. "Good evening Sarah," She could see his smile even though she was behind him. "Anything in particular I can play for you?"
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Despite herself, Sarah smiled. Another night, another five dollars not yet earned. But Declan'll never collect, either, she mused in cold comfort.

Stepping forward lightly, she wrapped her arms around the Mastigos, slipping slender limbs between his guitar and torso as her cool body pressed up against his back.

"Well," she said in a near-whisper, "I'll settle for that perennial favorite called 'Anything Lucien Hunt Wants to Play'. Though if you're really taking requests, I'd like 'El Condor Pasa', if you've got it down yet." There was every probability that he did indeed have the old Simon and Garfunkel classic in workable form; ever since he'd started making a serious effort again, music came to Lucien like breathing, and his repertoire was growing at a rate that would be nothing short of frightening to any professional musician. And anyway, she thought, he can do a dead-on Paul Simon vocal when he wants to.

She didn't plan to let go as he set into the song. For a creature so very dead, her senses were remarkably alive. Half of the pleasure of being there when Lucien played was in feeling the music: the back of the guitar vibrating against the backs of her arms and hands, and the sensation of her boyfriend's voice echoing through his body and into hers. It was a new way of experiencing music for her, and helped make up in sensation what she may have been lacking in genuine passion.

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Graceful fingers struck elegant chords as the Mastigos entertained his lover. Softly towards the end of the song he leaned his head back to rest gently upon her shoulder. "Would like to do 'Call Me Al'," He asked, grinning mischievously. "You can be Chevy Chase." As she smiled and rolled her eyes they shared soft laughter in the dimly lit room. "And what wind sweeps my lover to my doorstep this evening?"

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The question was a good one. There had been a time where a truthful answer would have been "addictive warlock blood." There had also been a time where "misery loves company" would have been an honest reply.

But now? Why did Sarah continue to act as the girlfriend to one Lucien Hunt, underwear model and wizard? There had been that brief flare of intense emotion when he had done an incredible something to her mind; did some hint, some echo of that remain? Or was it a near-instinctive drive to claim and hold a mate - regardless the impossibility of offspring - that was a weak but present legacy from her Uratha family?

Why do I come here? She thought about it... and for the life (or lack thereof) of her could only come up with a single answer.

"Because I wanted to. Now let's kick this thing off, if you can stand my bad Chevy Chase impersonation." She squeezed him a bit tighter, smelling his scent - and painfully aware of the pulsing vein not five inches from her dangerous mouth - and waited for the music to start.

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Because I wanted to. Her words brought a smile to his face. "And what better reason could there be, hmm?"

A very terrible rendition of 'You can Call Me Al' sounded through the halls briefly as Sarah poorly lip synched a song that Lucien intentionally sung wrong. For each of her accidental slip ups he gave her a questionable, confusing look like he was asking her 'what song are you singing?'. After several minutes of completely denying that he was singing the wrong song, mixed in several more minutes jovial name calling, he set the guitar to the side.

"You're troubled," He said rather suddenly, despite having just spent several minutes with her joking and laughing, he was convinced something was not right. "What is it? Your tests? Amber?"

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There was a moment where Sarah's face darkened, but only a moment. What's done is done.

"No problems on the Amber front these nights. She's actually talking to me like... well, I won't say like a human being since neither of us are, but decently anyway.

"And the tests are over, ended a few weeks ago. I failed, and it was my own damned fault, but that's the past. What happens from here on," she said, giving Lucien a lop-sided smile, "is what matters."

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