At the Chantry [attn: Grace, Shoshannah, Sera, Hawksley, Sid]
[continued from our interruption...]

When Justin reappeared, it was through the door that lead directly from the garage into the kitchen, so if the other two were headed that way they'd likely run into him just as he was coming through the door. When he shut it behind him he had to give a little tug to get the latch to click into place. One of a handful of small defects around the otherwise very well-built house that he'd been meaning to fix (but hadn't gotten to yet.)

As Justin walked toward the sink, he pulled his shirt off and used it to wipe the sweat from his face and neck. His skin was tanned beneath it, with darker lines marking the spots where the neck and sleeves of his t-shirt usually lay. He spent enough time shirtless that his worker's tan wasn't too obvious, but it was still there.

He'd been doing a lot of work lately, and it showed. (In more ways than one.)

At the sink, he set down his shirt and ran a line of cold water to wash the blood and grime from his arms, scrubbing his skin clean with a bar of soap.

"There's some leftover lasagna in the fridge, if you want to heat it up."
"Ah, yes, it was Sid who let me know it was okay to come by," Grace said, still faltering a bit. As she walked in, her eyes seemed to flicker with equal attention to the ceiling and the furniture, as if checking the boundaries.

Big place. Pretty, if you liked the ranch aesthetic. If. Shoshanna's voice got through to her a bit, and her face pinched. Well, she hadn't thought about hunger at all, but now that it was brought up, had she eaten lunch? Or breakfast?

"You know, I think I am hungry now that you mention it. Huh," she said with a little nod to her head. "And, what have you been working on, if I might ask?" Of course, it wasn't fence work she was expecting, or hoping for.

And then, her head swiveled in the direction of Justin and, well, wasn't he ah... comfortable. And bloody? "Are you okay? Your arms..."
"Just a few scrapes from the wire - I think I hammered each of my fingers at least once." She holds her hands up to show whatever bruises and cuts she's gained with the kind of pride that only comes from pampered kids learning to do something with their hands. "We're building a fence around the pasture. I mean, we work on all kinds of other stuff," not necessarily - or even often - together, but still, "but everyone needs to try something new every now and then. Right? Knowledge and understanding are experiential."

She's talking more and faster than Justin's ever witnessed - it's almost like that first day all over again. And never mind that, while she'd looked (for longer than necessary, even) when he'd taken his shirt off, she's pointedly looking Anywhere Else right now.

"I'm learning how to ward, though, if that's the kind of work you want to hear about. What are you working on? Or, I guess, what do you want to work on first, since you're new?"
Serafíne will never, ever, ever, be any help whatsoever in mending fences, wooden or otherwise; or 'tilling the garden, or mowing the grass, or repairing the screens or putting up the storm windows or washing the back patio or cleaning the kitchen or really -

- much of anything.

She will, however, replenish the chantry's pot supply with great regularity, particularly since she may well be the only person who dips into it with any regularity. Though that isn't happening now.

But see, not long after Grace has shown up, a goddamned anniversary edition Porsche 911 in anthracite brown pulls up behind Grace's car and Sera -

- who is dressed in a white babydoll mini-sundress with spaghetti straps and flat-ish heeled black Doc Martins because she wants to know what it was like to have lived through the age of grunge as more than a child -

- slides out of the passenger's side door, waits for someone to pop the trunk (do these things have trunks?). Grabs the handles of some re-useable shopping bags, the sort made of laminated rice and/or feed bags and sold in fair trade shops.

Essential supplies these, you'll have to guess what. For now.


Inside, the doors swing open. Sera carts her bags (just two) in to the kitchen and -

"Grace! You made it. Rock on. I was just thinking that I oughtta give you a call. Fuck, welcome! What the hell has been going on with you - "

And Sera is the sort of person who can say rock on and not sound like a complete shit. Mostly because she sounds so pleased, and draws attention to herself like a lodestone. Then circling the kitchen, before Justin has quite finished at the sink.

"Jesus Christ, Justin, is this a chantry or a nudist colony, put some fucking clothes on, man. What the hell - " with an edgy, quicksilver grin that takes in that glance Shoshannah was giving Justin. " - careful, or the natives'll get all restless."

Also: pot - kettle Sera, since as soon as she heaves up those shopping bags they can all see that beneath her not-exactly-prim white sundress she is wearing black lingerie and thigh-high fishnets held up by black garters. All visible beneath the translucent material. Because that is how she dresses, guys.
But my heart is wild and my bones are steel
And I could kill you with my bare hands if I was free.

- Phosphorescent, Song for Zula
Belay the conversion van stuff. Post revised and Sera shows up in a Porsche, because of course she does.
But my heart is wild and my bones are steel
And I could kill you with my bare hands if I was free.

- Phosphorescent, Song for Zula
Anyone who has shaken Hawksley's hand -- and in this instance, everyone has -- knows that what callouses he has are thin, light things. The activities of his fingers involve page-turning, primarily, not hammering stakes into the ground or stringing wire. He has done manual labor in his life, but by god, that was punishment. Why someone would choose to build a fence when there are plenty of people one could hire to do that sort of thing... why, it boggles the mind.

But he drives a Porsche. That he has never worked a day in his life has not seemed to affect the quality of that life, at least not in the material sense.


These things have trunks. They are not large. They are a pocket where you put A Suitcase or Two Bags of Something, in this case ... groceries? He didn't ask when Sera put the bags in. He doesn't ask -- well wait, no, of course he does. After he gets out of the car as well, pocketing the keys.

Is he wearing aviators? Of course. Are his khakis straight-legged and just a bit skinny and rolled up at the cuffs to bare his ankles? Naturally. Light blue -- what are those? Loafers? Boat shoes? A strange amalgam of both? They have laces, whatever. His t-shirt is tissue-thin, with brown and burnt orange in thick horizontal stripes. Hawksley takes one of the bags, if Sera is willing to share, and heads in a step or two behind Sera.

Sera zeroes in on Grace. Hawksley's eyes run up Justin's back from lumbar to cervical spine like a finger dragging across skin. "Excuse her," he says to them, or perhaps just Justin: "she's gone Puritan. Too much clean living."

He gives Shoshannah an upward nod, a nonverbal hey, and sets a bag down, and pushes his aviators up and grabs some counter, swinging himself up to sit on the edge, long legs dangling down. He leans over to peer into the bags Sera had him trafficking, but he's talking to Justin while he does so. You can tell, because he starts with:

"Justin, when you have a minute, we should talk."
my whole life is thunder.
Groceries. Yes. Those are groceries emerging from the bags, one of which was indeed surrendered to Hawksley on the walk from the Porsche to the kitchen door. Absolutely and bloody essential groceries Sera is currently unpacking including a more or less complete vintage cocktail kit - bar tools on a neat silver caddy with red bakelite handles, a pair of cocktail shakers, a chrome caddy with four highball glasses all silvered with silver coasters and etched with portraits of Roman soldiers or whatever. And, several varieties of fairly top shelf liquors, focus on the locals like Stranahan's, but also a few liqueurs, shelf-stable mixers, the beginnings of a properly stocked cabinet.

And: her second-favorite bong, which she is donating to the chantry for Reasons. It is genuinely lovely and looks like a handcarved sculpture and is shaped like an elegant black swan.

And: a medium sized illuminated black writing board, the sort often seen in coffee shops, advertising the drink of the day, along with a set of fluorescent markers. It needs to be hung up and plugged in somewhere for anyone to use it, but Sera just assumes that someone else will handle that sort of thing. Which is usually what happens in her world.

Too much clean living, earns Hawksley a smirk and a brief moment of very direct eye contact as Sera is unpacking her purchases. Clearly, she is anticipating the end of clean living any day now and laying in supplies, as if for a siege.

"I don't know where to put all this," to Shoshannah and Justin, more than anyone else, " - does this place even have a proper bar?"

And her attention snags on Justin, then cuts this direct line back to the Hermetic. That quicksilver grin reasserts itself as she gives him a faux-critical once-over before adding -

"Oh, Hawksley. You're throwing the energy of the room all off-balance right now." Nods this little note of agreement with herself and anyone looking at her in that moment can see that she's absolutely bullshitting and challenging and gleaming and bright and bemused and self-amused and enjoying every second of it. "You should take off your shirt too.

"I mean, it's just feng shui. Equilibrium and what-all." A beat and a faux-puzzled look to the room at large. "Or maybe it's Science?

"For sure it is one of those things."
But my heart is wild and my bones are steel
And I could kill you with my bare hands if I was free.

- Phosphorescent, Song for Zula
Are you okay? Your arms...

There'd been some blood, yes. Not much, but enough to leave a visible line of red down the back of his hand and a few inches of his forearm. There'd been a nail in one of the old fence posts (which had shortly thereafter been removed) that he'd missed. One of the many hazards of manual labor.

But when Justin pulled his arms out of the sink and reached for a towel, there was no sign of injury. Maybe the cut had just looked worse than it actually was.

(Maybe, with her awareness active as it was, Grace would sense the little flare of vital and enduring energy that seeped from Justin's hands while he washed them. Even when he wasn't working an effect, Justin resonated like an ever-renewing life-force.)

"Just missed a nail in the fence," he explained, in a tone that sounded a little like a verbal hand-wave.

Somehow during the midst of all this, Sera and Hawksley had shown up. Maybe Justin noticed the way that Shoshannah's eyes refused to make contact with him, or the way she'd started rambling when she came into the kitchen. But if so, he didn't acknowledge it, because Sera was there in her white sun dress and her black lingerie telling him to put some fucking clothes on. Justin gave the Cultist a pointed look. One of those expressions that was meant to convey an obvious sentiment.

In this case, the sentiment was: ...seriously? (One would imagine his tone to be very bemused.)

And though she may have managed to succeed at making him feel awkward (note the way he turned away from them and rubbed the back of his neck,) he didn't make any further attempts to acknowledge the moment or put his shirt back on. It was lying, loosely balled-up, on the floor at his feet and smelled about as sweat-soaked as it looked. Not exactly an appealing prospect. Justin picked it up and made his way toward the entrance to the dining room, moving past Hawksley as he did so.

"Sure. What's up?"

If the Hermetic seemed inclined to follow him, Justin would continue on toward the living room. If not, he'd stop and turn around.


[Healing surface scratches (coincidental healing) - diff 5 -1 (practiced) -1 (resonance appropriate)]
Dice: 2 d10 TN3 (6, 7) ( success x 2 )

I see what you did there!
The young man on the counter is, at the moment, actually even more useless than Sera is. Sera brought groceries, and liquor, and is unpacking them. Hawksley is sitting in her way, looking through her stuff, picking things up and playing with them, reading bottle labels, and essentially getting in the way of everything. While he does, he looks over at Grace, brightening. "See! Our schedules refused to match up and we met again anyway." He says this as though he and Grace have been in a long debate about fate vs. will or happenstance vs. serendipity and he thinks he's winning. Then again, Hawksley seems like the type of person to think he's always winning, one way or another.

Oh, Hawksley. He lifts his eyed, eyes alighting on Sera again, curious. Then: grinning, broadly. "Good god, you're right," he says, reaching up to whip his sunglasses off the top of his head with the body language that would normally accompany a Great Scott!. "My eternal apologies," he tells her, hands gripping the edge of the counter and pushing him off with a smooth shove. His feet hop to the ground again, surprisingly light despite his height. The aviators stay on the counter, chrome-rimmed and amber-lensed. "That certainly sounds scientific."

Justin heads for the living room, saying they can talk now, and Hawksley starts to follow him, reaching to the hem of his shirt. His long arms cross and then unfurl as he pulls it up, lifts it over his head, and then slings it over his shoulder. Beneath that shirt he is golden in a way that makes it seem like he was born that way, would look like this even if the sun never touched his skin. He's wearing a golden wing on a chain, the emblem hanging above his solar plexus.

"As for what's up," he's heard saying to Justin, as he walks into the dining room and around that long, long table to the fireplace, but the rest of the sentence is lost.

[*drags Howl into a brief series of FPMs*]
my whole life is thunder.
"Thank god they're gone," says Sera, once Hawksley has - yes - stripped off his damned shirt, tossed it over his shoulder, and followed Justin from the room. The Cultist (who returned Justin's ...seriously? glad with a ridiculously smug grin) slides Hawksley's aviators aside now that her groceries, such as they are, are unpacked and littering the counter, and hoists herself up onto the counter in the precise spot he just occupied, all fiddlingly annoying and in-the-way. She is rather shorter but her legs swing just the same and she turns to Shoshannah and Grace then, see, all fucking conspiratorial. "We can totally talk about them now - "

Except: the flash of her teeth, the sudden curl of her mouth.

"Wait, actually, we are going to pass the fucking Bechdel test and talk about Nothing to Do with Them. How about magic?

"Did you feel that, Grace - " eyes on the apprentice, slide to the creepy Dreamspeaker a moment later. "Justin healed himself. There at the sink. That flare in the air, that was his Work. I don't know how he does it, I don't know all that much about Verbena practice but yeah - see, it's different for all of us. Did we talk about that?

"Different for Shoshannah than it is for Pan or me or you. Shit, you know Shoshannah I have no idea even what your Tradition is? Like for the longest time I thought you were Pan's apprentice. Seriously."
But my heart is wild and my bones are steel
And I could kill you with my bare hands if I was free.

- Phosphorescent, Song for Zula

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