Peppering set you up in the little office in the kitchen before the show. He seems as excited as you for this night. There are dozens out there already and more coming every minute. Peppering's already broke into the stock room and the freezer for re-supplies and pulled in some extra help, a few girls from Fall On who used to pick up work at The Pit and are now floating.What's it like when you come out to play, Sierra? What outfit did you find? What's your opening song?Cinch
It's late and you're at High Rent's bar. Sleep's so close, so very close. But Sierra's singing tonight, and it's a big deal. You took Krin to the clinic at Bordertown East, and they used Fipper-level meds to meatmesh her leg up. Why did they do that, Cinch? Did you trade in a favor, or did she?
The junkyard's in your rearview. That's where you left Mimi, Last, Isle, and her prospects along with the little girl Li, who didn't make it out of the Fat Man's Palace. Mimi insisted on digging the plot to plant Li. It didn't have to be deep, she was so small. But Mimi, one-armed and cursing the whole time, dug a suitable hole. Last and her gang were too shell-shocked to be much help. Krin left at the infirmary at Bordertown East, Li dead, Gigg gone, Motley taken, the Crue disappeared. They seemed broken, Cinch.What words did you say over Li's grave, Cinch?
Krin hobbles into the High Rent Bar with you. You think she's playing it up a little, since she has her arm around your shoulder "for support" and the pain meds seem to have done her a world of good. Where do you end up sitting?
"I don't know her... but I do know that Gigg, who himself is..." was? "a mystery to me, gave up so much of himself to try and get this here girl outt'a harm's way safe. Damn I respect that man... goin' to ground for a chance to do somethin' good... and y'all were right there with him..." Who would really look to me, of all people, for pretty words, but nobody else had nothin' to say and it felt like we oughta say something. "Y'all here... Whatever else you are... y'all are fuggin' heroes. I... I'm sorry... I ain't got nothin' more to say."
B-town East is all over my supply routes. Though I'd wager those are gonna be made more rare. So I pulled some favors with the clinic, I ran medicine for 'em... injured.. supplies. All for pretty much nothing. Feels like forever ago now.
We sit at the bar. That's the place to be in a place like this. I need a bed... but Sierra's been on my mind and damn if I couldn't use a moment of beauty right now. I don't care if Krin's fakin' it... I help her just the same.
Even in all it's fine luxury, it's still the most simple outfit I have ever worn for a performance of this size. Its also my favorite, because it's mine. I run my fingers over the bodice and smile.
I hope it has the effect I'm looking for. Innocence Lost. And of course, I am wearing the emerald birds. I peak out at the crowd it's packed, the only table open is the one I have reserved (and have Reeese watching) for June, Roth, and the others. I take a breathe, nod at Peppering, and walk out.
The room is so busy it takes a minute, but as people start to notice me, the buz in the room quiets. I am trying not to look at the people in particular, though I can see some stares, some whispered conversations, and a few shark smiles - instead I concentrate on the piano and the recording device DJ Gnarly set up next to the keys.
I sit down and begin the way I always begin, with a complicated flourish, meant to draw attention. I smile into the crowd and raise my voice to cover the heavy beating of my heart.
"Good Evening! Thank you for joining me here tonight, although with the Pit closed I am not sure you had much of a choice." I chuckle. "But I am glad to see you. My first song - it's one of the first I ever wrote. I haven't played it in public for sometime, but a few of you might recognize it."
I'm talking as much to the people in the Feed as I am the customers in the bar. I haven't played this since Gloriana forbid it, after an uncomfortable moment with the head of Griffin offering me a Maquis diamond collar. Offering me the collar, not Gloriana - for me. She took great offense. I haven't played it since... I start out in a hum, and begin.
I sit there at the bar, leaning with an elbow, hand on my forehead. Anyone who knows ol' Cinch can see the weight I'm carrying just now... exhaustion and a head full of memories I'd rather not know.
"How did things end up this way..." I breathlessly exhale, speaking to Krin, maybe, or just to nobody in particular.
Then the music starts...
Like cool water. It flows around me, beautiful sound like I haven't heard in years... and Sierra... I haven't seen her in ages, it seems, and I've never seen her like this!
I turn in my seat to watch, to listen, to drink in the nostalgic feel of a moment where there's nothing to do but listen and feel.
The thing is... I can't get Gigg's fuggin' face out of my head... and the blood from that little girl. Even this can't wash it away... but it lets me feel...
Knowing nobody here is lookin' at me... I cry. Near silent, but deep and so... so much what I need right now. I let it out... every hint of exhaustion, and pain. I lean on Krin cause she's the one I'm with... she's probably leanin' back on me.
Why'd I come here? Stazie... you fuggin' idiot.
You come into the bar moments after Sierra begins singing. Beckett and Missed held you up, they just arrived and they had to tell you about their wild ride. Rothschild told you she'd catch up and asked you to save her a seat. Beckett heads over to Reese and stands near him while he watches over the crowd.
Where do you end up sitting?
Sierra said she'd reserve us a table, so I wade in towards the empty one..much as I can be said to wade or powerfully stride, etc, etc..and settle us down. My suit is still dryin' upstairs and the hat will be it's own project come tomorrow. So here I am with my loose, devil-thick hair and my scalp's bead implants showin' and the haphazard scars and ink of my neck peekin' out of the loose construction of my 'laundry day' shirt.
Always fine to be fashionably late. It feels important to arrive that way. Plus it was just attention-demandin' to get a fill of how Beckett and Missed tell a story together.
Oh the way in I glance around for faces, mark the ones I know..
I end the song the same way it began, with a hum and look up into the crowd. I don't really hear the crowds reaction, because the first thing I see when I look up is Cinch and Krin, and Cinch - unflappable, frack off the sky, Cinch - looks like she is crying.
I frown and instantly rearrange the set list in my head. "It looks like I have some friends in the audience. Oh, I know, you are all my friends." I play a quick twinkling laugh from the high side of the piano. "But I want to dedicate this song to one of them in particular. To all of you who watch the sky, this is for you.
You feel The Feed, too. So many more eyes. A hundred for each live one here. A thousand. Ten thousand. Sierra is playing? Sierra is playing! She's alive! She hasn't broken, she hasn't bent. The fans are giddy.
Outside, you hear the crack of thunder.
The room has a singular energy, attention drawn and gently hummin'. I order a round of drinks - ought to make it worth savin' the table, right?
Thunder pulls at my ears..rain? I can barely remember the last time there was any. What a time for it, when I have nothing to spare away from buildin' the new clinic. Oh well, I love the sound of it, hidin' behind the rustle of the bar and Sierra's music and song.
I can feel a tickle from the electricity outside, from the thunderstorm..it blends in a muddy note with the buzz of an interested Feed.
Sierra's song washes over me, I look up through my bleary eyes to see her lookin' back. I been through the mill today, in a way I ain't been for more'n a year... probably ever.
Her song makes my desperately lonely cry feel... well. Like I ain't the only one. I nod slightly, cheeks wet. Hear the thunder outside and that's a reminder... everything gets washed away with time. I love the rain.
I struggle to get it together, give my face to Sierra clear. let her see me bein' me.
Krin starts gettin' all motherly with me, which is fine... I don't push her away or nothing but I wipe my eyes on a sleeve, "Krin, don't worry none... I just been in a bad box today..." my voice sounds so rough, "y'all been through worse. I know it... let's see who can get to the bottom of a mug first."
I gesture to the barkeep to bring another. I don't mean to drink alone.
I end the song and sigh happily, loving the final cord, but ready to get back on track. "How is everyone doing so far, tonight?" I look out into the crowd. "If any of you are interested, I am going to take a small number of requests tonight - and jingle talks people - so think on that during this next song...
I quickly hit three cords, switching to more of a rock-vibe, as I prep the new notes in my head. "Have you all ever had an ex that, just won't leave you alone? No matter what you do? No matter what you say?" I feel the feed buzzing around those words, but I ignore it and push on. "This goes out to her."
I lick my lips, anticipation rising from me, from the feed, from the crowd. I breathe and begin, coming in with the piano after the first line: I tell you what you want to hear...
This requires one of the four cigarettes I've had in as many days. I know, it's tough, but I haven't wanted to set myself on a coughin' fit and bleed somewhere again. Phewwwww the subtext of this is a whole thing, isn't it?
I glance over at Missed. "I've got to think of a request. Anythin' you'd shake jingle to hear from our local songbird?"
Sounds legit. I nod with a look of appraisal. "Most Elton John is either for piano in the first place or adaptable to it." I stand myself up and take one last fortifyin' drink - you've got to be bold to make requests. "I'll call it in." I'm torn on what I'd pick for myself.
You hear the rain, too. Right now, most of the crowd is still tuning in to you, but let's see you Manipulate this crowd to stay put and pay jingle for more songs rather than go outside into the rain.
"Do we have any requests?"
OOC: ROLLING manipulate
(Rolled: 2d6+3 . Rolls: 1, 1. Total: 5)
I grin and wink to Missed. "You know I do, but I won't spoil it for ya."
All the buzz of the Feed is a sort of high, and I don't quite like bein' the target of attention, but right now there's somethin' delicious about it. I separate from the tables and people and come up to lean on Sierra's piano.
"How about I'm Still Standin'? And then I'd like to stay and try an older song with you.." I fix Sierra with a testing glance, see if she's game for that.
Rolling Hx to Assist: (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 4, 2. Total: 8)
Plus I'll spend a hold to Inspire Sierra.
"June Weaver, you have the jingle, I have the keys." I leave her to that, knowing she's good for it. "And a duet..." I look to where I am pretty sure a camera is and smirk, "we really are in for a treat."
It is most definitely raining outside. A heavy storm that rolled in out of nowhere. People are surprised, many take it as a sign of the gods, surely. As you play Sierra, you see a handful of people slip out the back, but the majority of them remain, interested in this song and the duet.
Beckett heads over to sit by you and Missed, June, and you think you spot Rothschild in the crowd of people standing. There's a chair for her at your table, but she hasn't taken it.
Drinks are flowing and people are spending jingle like crazy. Sierra, did you set up any place for people to give tips?
She taps the bar for a refill, leans into you, "Hey girl, I owe you big time, you know?" Krin smiles, reaches a hand up to your shoulder. A wide grin spreads over her face. "Ever done body shots?"
She's right about the dress, Sierra doesn't need to be too fancy to look just right.
"Body shots?" I laugh, "not since..." a bittersweet memory. Not since the academy, I almost say, "that look in your eye says we oughta invite Sierra there for some creative drinkin' after the show."
I order another as well, and raise my glass to Sierra, on stage. Hope to catch her eye.
I'm loving this song... It feels like an anthem. I let my eyes close and enjoy the rumbling thunder, the vibration of the strings, the press of the keys.
I am humming the final yeah yeah yeahs, drawing out the song when I open my eyes. Cinch is raising a glass to me and I smile, giving her a wink. She looks better, good even, though she and Krin have obviously been through it recently. It will be good to catch up.
I play the final note, drawing it out, letting it reverberate around the room. I turn to June, "Doctor's choice."
I whisper the song I have in mind in Sierra's ear and then search her face to see if she knows it, see if she nods - and she does. With a smile, I play a few successive notes on the piano.
"Sufferin' is so common in this world, any alternative feels like a foreign body. It's hard to let in good things. So I'll dedicate this song to anyone tryin' to keep pace."
Still leanin' on one end of the piano, I let Sierra take it away.
I take the high notes and let June take the lead low melody. Her back to me, strong and straight against my piano is a site. I'm suddenly glad she chose to claim this now, and not later in the set. I don't know if I could do this after I sing my newest song. I bite my lip, and smile to myself.
Her voice is surprisingly strong, a bit gravely, but perfect for the song. When the percussion would normally come in about half way through the first verse, June leans heavily on the piano and leads the audience through the 1-2 claps.
I smile and lean into the piano, as we get into ramp up for the chorus.
Ah, it's been a while. I suppose from her position, Sierra can see the Jacob's Ladder of black beads strung on either side of my spine, all the way up to my neck. Well, I can't be bothered with that right now.
happiness hit her, like a bullet in the ba~a~a~ack
I know more or less how to cover for my weaknesses in singing, and I'm used to getting heard from the back of a lecture hall. This is fun, and I let it show, even prop my crutches up on my hip to clap.
the dog days are over, the dog days are done
can you hear the horses, 'cause here they come
And I never wanted anything from you
Except everything you had
And what was left after that too, oh.
She jumps right back in with the claps and the dark line about the bullet... and this is easily one of the most fun sets I have ever done. I could swear that the rain was falling in time with my piano...
It's delightful, these two singin' together. It's a piece of good ol' right-ness in the middle of all this wrong.
Seems like everyone I get to know likewise gets to know each other. Maybe it's meant to be that way in some little way.
Krin went quiet, so I'm guessin' she's just imagining something body-shot related while gazing at Sierra up there. Can't say I ain't either.
By the end of the song I'm on my feet, arms crossed with my drink in one hand against my elbow. A soft little smile on my face which if you know me, is about as peaceful an expression as I got.
We go through a couple more iterations of the chorus, extolling people to run, and then wind down the song with Sierra. Phew, I couldn't do much more than this..not sure how serious artists do it. I can feel why, though, this playful connection with Sierra, with the audience and the rain.
I smile and peel a few depot dollars into the tip jar at the piano, givin' Reese a quick nod.
"Thank you, Sierra. That's all I've got for tonight. This was lovely fun." I could give her a press on the shoulder, or a quick hug or kiss, but in front of everyone it's a poor example. I lean off from the piano and start back to my tables.
That's when I finally notice Cinch with that big 'zon, Krin. I look over, my eyebrows raised in a display of interest. Krin looks a sight and Cinch seems worn out, but bouyin' up. If Cinch isn't up to chat, though, I'll head back to my table.
"The enigmatic June Weaver! Thank you."
I whistle, loud, that kind with two fingers in your mouth, as June notices me. Enigmatic, nailed that in a word, all right.
I head over to meet June at her table, "you never cease to surprise the hell outta me, June." I mean it. I couldn't a'done that. "Y'all made a rough day a little smoother... can't thank you enough."
I'll order a round for her and anyone else that might be at her table... though I'm pretty sure there's gonna be more than one offer to do the same.
Cinch gets a wide smile from me as she takes a seat, I steal another (abandoned for the rain) from a neighborin' table to set by for Roth. "Silent waters run deep, maybe? You can't be a proper young lady of manners without havin' a background in an instrument."
"Stazie, maybe I should be buyin' you the drinks." I lead in..not that I'll ever refuse, especially not on Missed or Beckett's behalf. "I heard what happened to the Irons. It's a terrible thing. But with every survivor there's a life to move on."
I play a few notes to make sure we are talking about the same version, when I get a nod from her she goes to sit back down. I watch her turn from me with a sinking feeling in my stomach. I have to double my efforts with her, just spend some time with her not with June. Show her I'm not... whatever she thinks I am.
"This song is about rising up. About beating the odds. We've all beaten the odds, every single one of us... this is "Young Blood"
Everyone's saying such nice shiite... but I just see Gigg givin' hisself away and that little girl dyin' for nothing.
Still. It's nice of 'em.
"I ain't done nothin' but drive," I answer, speaking in bit of a hush not to take away from Sierra's next song, "burn a little gas and miss a few winks. Ain't no big thing." I try and play it off, but it was fliippin' dangerous if you stop and think about it. I try not to.
I pull my chair in a little closer, "June Weaver," she has one of those names that you wanna say all together, 'you got a handle on life, ain'tcha? How d'ya keep looking forward in all the mess'n hell goin' on here... sometimes... I gotta admit. It gets to me."
I touch my shirt over my heart, thinking of little Li... yeah that gets to me.
For a few moments I just quietly appreciate the song Roth picked, make sure her glass is tall but not too tall. Notin' that I need to pace myself tonight since I'm still rather tossed under by my encounter with 'the dragon', I take it slow.
Cinch's comments..it sounds like she's in a dangerous space of mind. I give her a glance, let's her know I'm takin' her seriously while I assess my internal values for a little advice.
"Well..what's small to you can be like a mountain to someone else."
I lean in a little closer to Cinch. "Wiser people than I have said; 'It is not for us to complete the work. Nor is it for us to turn away from it.' We shouldn't deny our victories, even if they're small or undercut. And we shouldn't be unrealistic about what the world is, and what the work is."
The singin' and talkin' does leave me dry..I pull another drink from my mug. I get a little quieter. Feels a strange to talk to Stazie like this, but since I handed her that note, and I haven't been struck..no mysterious Fipper action stopped me from takin' over Parcher's operation..funny how in this case time and distance means I trust her more. "When I came in here, it got to me. But I chose to live, and in my own way. Eventually I got back to the work. Maybe I'll have a chance to help people over their own mountains."
We are young blood, you can't destroy us, we make our own luck in this world...
At the end, it's loud - the clapping and the singing. I can hear the alcohol in many of their notes and know it's time to wind down.
I look to Reese and give him a nod. Almost there. "This one, is new. I've never played it for anyone else before... it's about," I breathe, suddenly nervous and glad for the piano, "wanting."
At the end of the song, before Sierra moves on, she says simply, to the whole table, "Well. That sounded better than the original. Fug me." She takes the glass you got for her June, drinks about half of it in a go.
”Reckon I'd have a hard time findin' many folks who ain't wiser than me...” I manage a little sour laugh and clink glasses, "but I'll keep on climbin' those mountains. Cause they're there... think I heard some wise fugger once say."
Maybe we'll have a proper conversation in private. One of these days... for now. Drinks, songs... and not bein' alone with my thoughts.
The crowd's in your hands now, Sierra. The bowl for tips is full of Depot Dollars, and the night's getting long, with rain above coming down in sheets. Krin's watching you close, raising her glass to you with every song, getting herself a good buzz. What do you finish your set with?
I'm not 100% sure what it means to Roth that Sierra's performance of such a meaningful song to her was so good. In response I simply rub the back of her neck and answer. "She let us into it, didn't she? I liked it."
I clink glasses with Cinch and smile wanly. "That's life. G'wan an' get it." There aren't really alternatives.
Phewww, this next song is just one big emotional call. Some pent-up song she never showed off before? I'm not sure what it's supposed to mean. It makes me wonder what's next, how's Sierra gonna wrap this?
It feels good to... to be myself again. I always thought my sexual desire and Gloriana were tied up, the same thing, inexplicably connected and unseverable. It's freeing to reclaim some of that for myself.
"Thank you everyone for staying with me through the rain. It's been a great night! Those of you who are listening, I hope you come down to The Bar soon and see me in person. I was going to end my set with a different song, but I think this one is more appropriate... It's called, "Here Comes the Rain Again."
There's applause, calls for encore, and a number of drinks are ordered for you, Sierra. A couple merchants ask you to come sit at their tables, and that could mean some more jingle. Krin's giving you the eye as well, and June and Cinch's got a seat for you.
I just want to change and talk to my friends, I've missed Cinch and Krin, but I did this for jingle and networking a bit wouldn't be a bad idea. I don't sit at any one table, but I do swing around to a few merchants, thanking them for watching and hearing any proposals.
As I swing by June's table, I squeeze Cinch's shoulder and whisper that I'll only be a minute.
You head past the bar and Peppering, who gives you a big thumbs up, and back to the area where your normal clothes are. You see Krin trying to make her way back there, but Peppering isn't going to let her unless you say something. What do you do?
I should tell Reese he has the room tonight, as a reward for basically being the only thing that kept me steady up there. Hoolies, what did I do to deserve him? Beckett better treat him right or she's gonna get an earful.
I pop behind the privacy curtain as I hear Krin open the door. "Perfect timing, could you get the zipper?" I say smiling, coming out from behind the partition, turning my back to Krin.
I think about it, I more than think about it. I imagine her hand slipping down and around to the front of my dress, pressing against what it finds there. I bite my lip to keep from replying, Yes, all of it.
I take a deep breath, coloring a little, positive that she can see her affect on me. "I'm glad I could help." I say turning to face her, coming close to kiss her cheek. "Thank you." I pull away and walk back behind the partition. "I want to hear what happened to the two of you, and I promised Cinch I'd be right out." I slip my outfit on, gently hanging the dress. "but maybe if you are staying a while..." I say smiling, as I walk back out to the main part of the room.
Cinch and June,
Sierra slips into the kitchen to change, Krin follows. A few minutes later, she comes back out in a different outfit, still clean and stunning.
With the music no longer keeping people here, most everyone's headed outside for the rain. Missed left, too. Rothschild's still here, and Peppering is cleaning up. Reese is making sure Sierra's Dollars aren't stolen, Beckett's helping him and chatting.
"Reese, you are truly a man of honor. You've got the room to yourself tonight," I look at Beckett meaningfully, smiling like the cat who caught the cream. "Have fun."
I pick up my money and put it at the pouch on my hip, the same one that has Fleece's clever buzzer. I look at Peppering and raise my voice, "What do you say boss? Round on the house for me and my friends?"
What did you ask to drink from Peppering?
I whistle when I see Sierra again, "hell if you ain't you toppin' grand, Sierra."
she orders another round and I find Krin with my eyes, raise an eyebrow in reminder.
"Creative drinkin?" I say for Krin but everyone can hear me.
Hard not to smile a... we've got a hell of a crew here, Sierra, June, Krin, Rothschild... wouldn't mind one bit.
She winks, "It's tradition."
I hope she can see how far I've come since we last talked. And hoolies, she just looked like she needed it.
I pull back and cock my head at Krin. "Creative drinking?"
I look at the bar, at least Peppering did just wipe it down. I look between Cinch and Krin, "I don't... tradition? what is a body shot and what do I have to do?"
"Hoo! Haha! Krin!" I slap the table with a hand, tipsier than I wanted to be. Let this be a lesson to me - blood loss makes me a cheap date. I chuckle again. "Girl, she wants to drink a shot offa your chest." I explain bluntly to Sierra.
"Haa, let's see, in Phoenix territory I think it's called 'wakame sake'.." I trail off with a grin. My accent there is still pretty alright. "I call 'out' on servin' since I don't cleave close nor far."
This oughta be fun, I stand and cross my arms, head and hip tilted this way and that to get a good look. Somehow, I don't feel involved yet... like I'm watchin' and not doing.
An emotion like jealousy and lost tries to makes it's way into my gut. I grab a shot and knock it back quickly, killing it before I can let it sink it's teeth in. "Courage." I say with a small nervous smile and let Krin help me up to the bar.
"All I have to do is hold still? Isn't there something to do with the naval as well?" I say, thinking back, trying to remember the little I have heard describe. I giggle as I lean back."What if I laugh?"
More chucklin' comes out of me and I've got to shake my head. I see that Sierra recognizes what I'm sayin' but maybe she doesn't know the perverted meanin' of the phrase, a metaphor in another language.
"Pretty sure it means you're havin' fun if you laugh. Just don't spill."
I glance over to Roth, wonderin' what she thinks of Krin's game. This could be her shot to get Cinch to play with her at least a little, which might be something of a coup, from what I've heard.
I'm not certain this is a chance for me, however. In full honesty I could imagine myself debauchin' offa most of the assembled folk at the bar..Sierra, as Krin has on display..Roth, for a little bit of our own fun..Cinch, also for braggin' rights..Krin, just for a chance to try and shock her sensibilities. Makes me wish I was back in my early twenties.
I steal a stool at the bar in case somethin' funny happens.
(in case you're confused, since "body shots" mean different things to different people)
June, Rothschild's interested in how this turns out. She's no stranger to drinking games, you're rather sure.
Cinch, have you done body shots before?
Yeah, I partied my fair share in my academy years... give or take. Been a while... and these people here... well they ain't my roomies in college or somethin' so it's got a different feel. And to be honest we did the thing a little different'n Krin is presumin' here.
Little confused how Sierra doesn't seem familiar. Well, she did talk about a pretty weird past... so guess it figures. She seems pretty comfortable though... with the attention and all. Everyone wants her, must feel nice... but I think that'd bother me.
I stand and watch, waiting, wonder how she really feels... I watch her close.
Krin describes the way this is going down and something dark and sensual unfurls in my belly. When she puts her hands through my hair I practically glow. Just being looked after, even that little bit, being given a choice... it makes me bolder.
I sit up on my elbows and take the lime from my mouth. "I am good, but I was just thinking, we could make this a bit more interesting." I lick my lips and give Roth my best smoldering stare. "A little competition perhaps, if Roth is up for the challenge."
I look at Krin then, smiling boldly, "Blindfold us, let us guess who is doing the shot." I lay back down and look at everyone, before concentrating on Roth,"What do think? You game?
OOC: Might be trying to playfully seduce or manipulate Roth?
(Rolled: 2d6+3. Rolls: 3, 6. Total: 12)
Sierra, Krin finds a cloth napkin on the bar and offers to blindfold you. Do you let her?
So, June, who is the first to do a shot with Rothschild?
I eyeroll away from Sierra's look to confirm if I know whether 'Helpable' means somethin', small smile to indicate it's harmless at least. I'm choosin' to stay neutral there for tonight.
In the meantime I slide offa the stool I claimed. I can't go first on Roth because that would be unsportin', too easy a guess to hear that it's me from this. At least I'll be able to hold onto the bar and hide my usual step-click rhythm.
With a couple of hand gestures, I try to suggest that Krin peel off of Sierra for just a moment and take her first shot off of Roth. As the subjects of the guessin', it's our responsibility to make this fun for them, right?
Krin crawls back down to lick the salt like a cat, slurp the alcohol, and crawl up quickly to go for the lime. Roth grips the bar as the she pulls the lime wedge into her mouth. Krin half expected it, and she kisses Roth full on the mouth, still above her body so only their lips touch. After some very obvious tongue action, Krin comes up with the lime wedge, and shows it again to all of you. Moments later, she's hopped off the bar triumphantly.
I stand in the back, see Rothschild's torn up skin, Sierra turning the game in which way she wants it to go... Krin, a grown woman definitely older than me, acting for all rights like a teenager tryin' to steal a kiss in a game of spin the bottle...
No.. Cinch don't fuggin' judge... she's gotta deal. I'm sure she's cryin' on the inside too. And as bright as the place is on the outside, I still feel the cold inside me.
My senses aren't so dull that blood and death are so easily forgotten... there's some secret little piece of me which still doesn't accept myself as part of this. I came here wanting to belong but... in the corner of my mind I'm still... damn it.
Silently I slip towards the door. If she's lookin' up I catch June Weaver's eye and give her a nod. She can probably read it in my face... There's something I need to know.
I'm headed for the ruins of the palace.
Hoolies I love this. I have always, always loved this. I came up with this game from something we would play as children. We'd blindfold each other and tickle one another with things, make the other guess, try to scare them with something that felt like a spider or...
Eventually those kinda of games became more sexual. I have dozens, maybe hundreds, of memories that involve Gloriana blindfolding me. She liked to watch me react to the first touch... sometimes she'd draw it out over hours. Sometimes she wouldn't be able to help herself. If I wasn't tied up in some way, I tended to become handsier - desperate for more contact. I always thought she secretly loved it when I was a little more aggressive.
Reminding myself of that is good. I grip the bar over my head, to keep myself from reaching out and touching anyone... that would be cheating anyway I suppose.
I'm rightly amused at Krin, climbin' right up on the bar, playin' with Roth and then Roth guesses Beckett!
I catch Cinch's eye and simply nod back. Guess she needs somethin' else right now. It's felt like we were losin' her for a couple minutes now. There's a shadow of concern as she goes..hopefully she doesn't get lost on her way.
Back to Roth, she gets my plainest poker face. To reveal the truth where Sierra can hear it tilts the game. "Peppering, how 'bout you keep score? Best out of three for each player."
Maybe then, June oughta have a go. Get all personal with Sierra.
Well..I am..for the record..not going to climb up on the bar. I don't quite need to anyway. I spread my hands on the bar in front of Sierra like I'm takin' up at a piano, glancin' up and down her body and decidin' how I want to play it. Hard to beat Krin's theatricality.
I take up a little salt in my hand and sieve it out in the little divot below Sierra's breastbone, the first flat surface of her abdomen. Then I'll pour out a neat shot into her navel and with a thumb, drag a small curlicue of the liquor onto the surface of her stomach, blowing on it to make it evaporate, cold.
The hard part of this routine, I'm findin', is not to chuckle and give myself away.
I balance my cut of lime just above the salt and begin; leanin' far over and down to lick the salt, then extractin' the shot from Sierra's belly and finally bitin' down on the lime, shakin my head once from the power of the shot..but also to tease at her skin with my nose. Each chance I get to touch her, she's sateen-soft..
I pull my head up with the lime still in my teeth, to wait for Sierra's guess.
It's June's hand. I have been touching and holding those hands for almost a week. Next to me, she has the best hands I have seen her - un-calloused and well maintained.
When she takes the lime from my belly ( I have to admit my slight disappointment in her not taking the excuse to kiss me like, Beckett (maybe?) did with Roth), her nose tickling my breastplate, her hair falling onto my stomach, I do whimper a little then. Arching my stomach to meet her face.
I don't take off the blindfold, I don't want to ruin Krin's work and I don't necessarily want to see everyone's face right away. I relax my grip on the bar, my fingers aching from holding so tight.
"Perfectly in control, well manicured nails... June, it has to be June." I lick my lips and keep my head on the bar, turning to smirk a bit at my unseen audience. "Gonna have to try harder to fool me..."
"Awwh!" The lime drops out of my teeth and I catch it, prepared. "Not even a little doubt?"
Well I'll be. I'd never suspect I'd remember such a detail off of Gigg, anything that wasn't the mask and the size of him, but I recognize that tie. An out of place piece in a collection of out of place pieces. And Krin does look like she took an awful beatin'.
Beckett is pulling back when Rothschild leans up and kisses her "for the lime". watches.
I smile towards June's voice. "Not even a little bit, Ooma."
I clear my throat, look between these two ladies on display here, laugh a little at Beckett's slyness and Roth's bravado. "Someone remind me how bad I am at this game next time.."
Of course this means I don't have to play silly when my turn comes up with Roth. But I might do anyhow.
Oh Krin has been waitin' for this all night. There is effectively no stoppin' her - she takes back her coat but leaves it on a chair, does another climb-on to the bar with a little quaver that belies the day she's had.
Much like before Krin is playful, performative, and hungry. But communicative, too. Nothin' she does seems like it ends up a rude shock.
"Beckett, was that you?" I bite my lip
"Thaaat..is a terrific question." I glance over at Krin and Beckett. "Should I put up a handle of cola whiskey? Anyone else?"
I smile towards Beck's taking off my blindfold and finding June. My head feels a little light being up here... plus I want a turn. I dart my eyes to Roth asking for permission.
I chuckle again..Krin will clearly drink us all under the table if allowed and I've just struck a chord with our attendin' party. Whoops? Well, at least it means everyone's havin' fun.
Sierra's askin' to change the whole perimeter of the game we're playin'..I raise a brow at her, but give a small shrug and a smile, like 'why not?'
Just thinking about it gets me a little light headed. I bite my lip, looking at Beck's and winking. I take the handle Peppering gives me and poor a small shot in her belly button, finishing with the lime in her mouth. It's risky - but I don't think June would pass it up.
I breathe out once, warm over her stomach before leaning in - my tongue flat against her belly as I collect the salt that leads right to the shot. Leaning down I kiss her belly button, using my tongue and suction to get as much as I can.
I still feel on display... like I am performing. And I'm kind of sad I missed what the others had done.
Slowly I trail the tip of my tongue, just the tip, up -up-up between her breasts to her mouth. I bite down gently on the lime, the flavor exploding in my mouth, before attempting to pull away.
In a breath, you feel her trying to kiss you in earnest, tongue and lips and eager exploration.
June, Beckett's watching your reaction, curious about this turn of events. Also, you're rather sure Roth thinks that's you.
I swallow just in time to take in a shocked breathe as I feel her rise up. A mistake, because it allows her to pull me in. I lean into the kiss, my body responding automatically to her need, to the moment.
I pull back with one last press of her bottom lip between mine. Licking my lips to chase her taste, I crawl back, wanting a little space, waiting for the verdict.