What Fades Away

[V.O. Nova] 2

God, when is this gonna end? Never felt the Beast this restless for this long before. So here I am, out on the prowl again even though Summer just opened her veins for me four hours ago. It wasn’t enough.

Will it ever be enough?

Anyway. Guess who’s Ordo Dracul now? That’s right, there’s a new girl in town and she’s solving mysteries left, right and sideways. Though I guess the Prince really didn’t give two shits about what I found out, except the parts that gave the Carthians a leg up. Bet you five quid he doesn’t remember anything I said after Markus killed some girl. Not even that I got a name for what’s probably a hunter, who’s gonna be on my arse now if he finds anything out about Private McDickFace. Everly put the cops off the trail, but that’s not gonna stop a hunter. Guess I’ll have to find and eat him myself.

Never really thought much about what those Dracul types got up to back in New York. But it sounds pretty brilliant. Sussing out how to be like the biggest of the bads who ever was? Dunno what they’ll want me to do, maybe I can break into museums and nab ancient treasures or something.

Time to go hunt down a homeless bloke or three, fill up the tank, then go home and put all these broken ribs back where they belong. I feel knackered and all pent up at the same time, something’s gotta give.

Claire's Journal - Five
Just me and you now, Nutmeg

Confession One

I feel better knowing Dani is safe with the wolves. I feel…less safe…but I also don’t have to worry about looking after her or that she’d – sorry Spanish – fuck things up. She’d…probably be pretty pissed if she knew how easily I gave up her freedom.

Confession Two

It was both terrifying and cool as shit to see a vampire and werewolf go at it. If not for the fact we were in danger, I would’ve wanted to sit and watch.

Confession Three

It’s fucking lonely here with just the cat. But at least he doesn’t try to get me to eat salad once a week.

I’m trusting Jake. And weird enough but he strikes me as trustworthy. Dani wasn’t wrong – we’ve got more in common than I’d like to admit. But I think I really spooked him and I’m glad for that. At least I had one card up my sleeve.

That Nova chick was…well, to be charitable I’d say that at least she tried. She was nice enough; nicer than I expected a vamp who blackmailed and threatened my girlfriend to be. If she hadn’t been so annoying, I could have even counted her as “an acquaintance I would be sad to see die.” But if it’s her or me then that’s the easiest fucking choice I’d ever have to make.

But seeing those two fight, while thrilling and terrifying, was pretty humbling too. A reminder that I am completely and totally out of my fucking depth.

Nova - Summer Nights

Nova: I figure after Nova left the Full Moon she headed over to Summer’s, maybe after prowling around for a while, though she hasn’t fed again since the detective. I’m thinking it’s probably a little too close to dawn to be doing this, but she’s doing it anyway.
And yes, it’s probably like 4 am. Summer’s probably used to getting woken up by a knock on the door in the middle of the night, though to be fair, she works an evening shift anyway.
What area does Summer live in, what’s her place look like?
Jessica (GM): Her place isn’t so bad, really— nicer than yours, anyway.
She rents a little one bedroom house out in Bartlett.
Nova: Suburb? Or just a neighborhood?
Jessica (GM): Not high enough end to be suburban, no, just a neighborhood near a Walmart.
Nova: Walmart’s actually not a bad hunting place, follow people out to their cars after they went there to hang out some Thursday night…but not tonight.
Jessica (GM): Road’s half-wooded despite being well inside city limits— urban sprawl means something else down here.
(mostly “how physically far can we spread all our shit out”)
Nova feels a little jumpier around all these trees than usual, remembering what Daniela said about a werewolf. She’d handled the conversation at the bar fine, it’s not so hard to slip a veneer of civilization over things, is it? But after an hour or two to think about it, she doesn’t feel all that civilized.
Nova knocks on Summer’s door with less laid-back rhythm than usual.
Jessica (GM): Summer swings open the door not too long after— still up, looks like, drink in hand.
Summer Carmichael: “Oh hey! Didn’t figure I’d see you tonight.”
Nova: “I had to come.” She just kinda barges in, walking past Summer into the house.
Summer Carmichael: She steps back from the door. “I totally invite you in, of course.”
“Ah, it’s less funny when you skip ahead.”
Nova: "Oh, uh…sorry."
Summer Carmichael: She shakes her head, chuckling as she closes the door behind you.
Her place is decently kept, if a bit sparse.
Nova paces around the room, looking like a prowling cat, instead of sitting down.
Summer Carmichael: "Just having a nightcap. Dawncap? I dunno."
“…You okay?”
Nova: "I ripped a man apart into bloody pieces a few hours ago, so not really."
“And that’s not slang, I mean that literally.”
Summer Carmichael: "…" She sets her drink down on the side table.
“I’m sure he must’ve deserved it. Yeah?”
Nova: "Who knows. I doubt it. He was just a greedy little dick. …I mean detective, not…" She shakes her head.
“No, I was just looking to beat some answers out of him, scare him off.”
“But he shot me.”
Summer Carmichael: "…You look alright." She rubs the back of her neck.
Nova: "Well, yeah. Vampire, hello." She pulls off her jacket, though, and Summer can see the bullet wounds still, where the metal bits are lodged in her shoulder and just under her collarbone.
“But it hurt like hell, and I’d just drawn blood, and…I just…lost it.”
Summer Carmichael: "…That happen before?" She pushes some clothes off a chair, motioning you towards it.
“Losing control, like. Like bloodlust or something?”
Nova stalks over to the chair and slumps into it.
Nova: "…yeah."
“Happens to me more than some others, too. It’s a…thing. A bloodline thing.”
Summer Carmichael: "…Sounds rough."
“Guess it’s not all staying pretty forever and striking cool poses in the moonlight, huh.”
Nova: "Ha. If you’re a Daeva, maybe."
Summer Carmichael: "Oh those are the uh."
“West Hollywood-y vampires, right? I swear I remember this.”
Nova: "Y’know, like those women with all the lipstick in Dracula movies. You got a pair of tweezers or something?"
Summer Carmichael: "Huh? Oh, yeah, probably."
She heads over to the kitchen, digging around in a drawer.
Nova: "…I can still feel it, Summer." While she’s rummaging around. “I feel it, in me. The Beast.”
“Like I’m just the wrapping and the real gift’s gonna claw its way right out.”
Summer Carmichael: She stops, a moment.
“But you… you’ve got a handle on it, yeah?”
“Right now, I mean.”
Nova: "…yeah. Long as you’re not planning to stab me or anything."
“I just…”
Nova looks down at her hands. Clean, now.
Nova: "Sometimes I feel like just a dead shell, with a monster in it."
Summer Carmichael: Summer takes awhile coming back to you with the tweezers— sets them down on an end table beside you before returning to her own chair.
“You don’t… seem that way.”
“I mean, you tell me things, sometimes. Like… like this, but.”
“You’ve never been like that around me.”
Nova: "Oh yeah? Watch this."
Summer Carmichael: She tenses.
Nova picks up the tweezers, yanks out the bullets, drops them one by one on the end table. Then in seconds, the wounds just…close up, like they were never there in the first place. (Spending 2 Vitae to heal 4 bashing.)
Summer Carmichael: She takes a breath, after a moment. “…Nah, that mostly qualifies as ‘cool superpowers’.”
Nova: "Rrrrgh." She thrusts her arm out toward Summer’s chair, holding it out wrist-up. “Go ahead, feel it.”
Summer Carmichael: She’ll do as she’s asked.
Nova: "You feel a pulse in there?"
She doesn’t, of course.
Summer Carmichael: "Mostly noticing that you’re like, super toned, honestly."
“If the gyms knew your secret we’d have a city full of bodybuilding vampires.”
Nova: "Pff." A halfhearted attempt at a chuckle.
Summer Carmichael: "But I mean, that’s the trade-off, you know? You’re super strong, and you’re never going to get old or die."
“So you’ve got to wrestle with this… curse part.”
“But I’m sure you feel bad about it, I bet it doesn’t even happen again.”
Nova: She runs both hands through her long dark hair, making a mess of it. She’s never really been like this before, with Summer. She’s usually casual and cool and rebellious.
Summer Carmichael: "…Seems like an okay deal to me."
Nova: "You have no idea what I am. I have no idea what I am."
“Just a crispy shell for the Beast to crack open?”
“Am I even still in here anymore?”
Summer Carmichael: "Uh… yeah? Duh."
“I don’t think beasts or whatever are good guitarists.”
Nova: "…what if I didn’t feel bad about it?"
“What if I didn’t feel a bloody thing, because feelings are all just a lie?”
Summer Carmichael: "…Of course you do." She cuts you off.
“Of course you feel bad about it.”
“You’re a person.”
Nova runs her tongue over her teeth, looking at Summer. God, she smells so good.
Nova: "Is that what you want? You want me to be just like you, like a living breathing person?"
“I could, you know.”
Summer Carmichael: "What? I mean, I…" She shakes her head.
“You’re confusing me.”
“Just be… Nova.”
“I know you.”
Nova stands and comes over to her chair, offering a hand to pull her up.
Summer Carmichael: She takes it.
Is she nervous…? No. Nah.
She’s your friend.
Nova pulls her to standing, then puts her hand over the place where her heart would be beating, if it did that. Slightly cold, her skin under her tank top. Still as a rock.
Nova looks her in the eye.
Spending a Vitae for Blush of Life.
Summer Carmichael: "—Oh!"
Nova: Abruptly, her heart beats, her skin warms.
“Now I’m a person, right? The pretending is enough, is it?"
Summer Carmichael: "…You were a person when I met you, too."
“You’re…” She pulls back.
“…Look, it’s late. Sun will be up soon.”
Nova grips her hand, tighter.
Summer Carmichael: "You’re—"
Nova: Holding it in place over her beating heart, grabbing Summer’s arm with her other hand.
“Is it enough? Am I a person now?" Her voice quivers, with anger or on the verge of tears, or both.
Summer Carmichael: Her voice is small, when it comes again.
“…What do you want me to say?”
Nova stares up at her. “I don’t know.”
Summer Carmichael: She looks down.
“…Sun will be up soon.”
Nova feels Summer’s pulse against her hand, suddenly aware that she’s starting to get a little hungry again.
Nova: "…yeah, you…you don’t want me here." She lets go of her and turns away, walking over to grab her jacket.
Summer Carmichael: "Just… call, tomorrow, maybe? We can hang out."
“Do something fun.”
Nova: "…not tomorrow. I got to see a dog about a man." She chuckles a little at her own joke.
“And then Elysium.”
“Maybe after that, if the Prince doesn’t have me for dinner.”
Summer Carmichael: She nods.
“Okay. You… you know where to find me.”
Nova: "Yeah. Night."
Nova slings her jacket over her shoulder and heads out into what’s left of the night, leaving two bullets with already-dried blood on the end table.

[V.O. Nova] 1

You might think I’d be used to it all by now. Ghouls and blood dolls and broken people just looking for a way to feel something. That’s just the way it is for us creatures of the night, innit? Not always gonna be a nice easy fast food joint around the corner, is there. But I can’t help it, it gives me the willies. Like boffing an inflatable chair or something. You feel that good, you want somebody feeling it with you, not staring off into space or begging for a fix.

I’ve been thinking about this investigation thing and you know what? Bugger the Prince and his little circle jerk with the Carthians, I’ll solve this murder and bring him a bloody head on a pike, that’s what I’ll do. They’ll be offering me membership in every covenant in the book then. Maybe even a secret society or something. Kiss my ring and bow, underlings! That’s right, it’s QUEEN Nova now, thank you very much. Not that I fancy mansions and that, really. Who wants that many windows to cover up? Spend half my tips on drapes, no bloody thanks. Maybe just the title’d be nice though. God save the queen, ha!

Alex thinks I’m royally screwed. Yeah, I’ll show him, all right. How hard could it be, anyway? Beat the snot out of a few singing birds, let the Beast out a little, maybe eat a police officer, nothing to it. I’ll have this thing wrapped up in no time.

Think I’ll go see Summer tonight. Got a few more hours til dawn, missed the good hours on mic, might as well.

Claire's Journal - Four
Words, Words, Words

May 1

It’s done.

I slept for forever and now I’m just groggy and hungry. King Drake canceled the barbecue, since I couldn’t go. That was nice of him. He was unhappy but not angry.

My brain is everywhere today. Like that fucker shot me in the head instead of the side. Haha way to miss, asshole. I’m trying to piece together what happened in the last few days so I don’t forget. Bear with me, Future Claire. I got fucking shot.

Met vamp asshole at bar. I looked super hot. He wanted to fuck. Dani was piiiiiissed and so “subtle questioning” became “I have gun, answer me now.” He got mad.

He used his brain power to control her. Made her sit down and shut up. I was mad – fuck no. You don’t do that to us. No way do you brain control me, asshole. So I said his real name. That got his attention. Then I said the word.

Not sure I would’ve said it if he hadn’t done that to Dani. Anyway, it’s done.

He changed somehow. Turned feral, ran at me and out the door. Fuck him. Dani was freaked out – major flashbacks of Before. I soothed her and then she went to get drunk. Bartender called cab for us, we went home.

Blue Camry followed us. Normally I don’t know cars, but it looks so much like it did in the 80’s. Dad had one. I remember when he brought it home. The exhaust was quieter than the old car, and the mileage was better. Mom called it a “liftback.” Sometimes I’d watch them load groceries from the backseat.

Weird the shit you remember. I bet they don’t.

Car turned off a few blocks before home and it was more important to get Spanish into bed. Was about to write in here when it happened. Got shot through the door – it grazed me but bled like a son of a bitch. So I shot the fucker with my shotgun. Saw him through the hole for a split second – took him right in the chest. BOOM, bitch. Bet I scared the fuck out of him.

I called Drake. Could’ve called Mae, but if she didn’t pick up…ambulance was coming, and it was important someone look after Dani while I was gone. King Drake got there before the ambulance and rode with me. Some of his people stayed here with Dani. Good guy.

I told him everything. Angel, vamp, shooter, everything. He was awesome and stayed with me while I got stitches and brought me home. Class act.

Will gave me a paid week off. And balloons and candy. Also class act.

Dani feels so guilty and I feel guilty for her being guilty. She’s upset I got shot, and upset she couldn’t help. King Drake has people around for protection, and he’s helping us find a new place. I don’t want her to feel guilty, just safe. I’m glad I got shot instead of her.

I’m glad it was me instead. If I lost Dani…if anyone tried to hurt her…there’s no one in Memphis that would be safe from what I’d do.

The entries between May 1 and 6 are ramblings about how bored Claire is, and how Dani is unwilling to leave her alone. Mostly she seems to have been watching craploads of He-Man and She-Ra.

May 4

Dani was approached by a vampire tonight. This shit is my fault – I insisted she go to a gig at that stupid bar. Some British chick with a bad dye job. I should’ve been there to take the bitch on myself…next time I’ll be there for sure.

The vampire wants to team up to investigate the Clockwork Killer shit. The vampires want revenge for what happened to their Markus last week. Which means…they don’t know who did it. So who the fuck shot me and why?

Of course, we didn’t kill Markus. We saw him, talked to him, and two days later he showed up dead. He was definitely alive the last time we saw him and we’ve got pretty secure alibis. But if he wasn’t dead after we left the club, why did someone follow me and shoot me?

Dani wants to know who’s watching us, and she’s right. And she’s going to push this chick off on some werewolf guy, Rick, as soon as she can. But I don’t like supes approaching her and I definitely don’t like them attacking her.

Dani’s angry. I get it, in a way, but I know I’ll never really understand. Just like there are things about my nature she’s never really going to get either. The Beast is closer to the surface than she’s comfortable with, and she’s terrified they’ll lock her up for her own sake. I feel helpless trying to soothe her but maybe someone in the Summer Court has insights? There’s gotta be people there who had to learn to focus the anger and channel it into positive directions.

But I’ll admit. If she lost control and killed a vampire or two…I wouldn’t be too sad about that.

Claire's Journal - Three
Gods and Angels

April 26

I’m not sure I even believe in a god. After all the shit I’ve been through, all the shit I’ve seen – even if one existed, what allegiance do I owe that motherfucker? But when it comes to philosophical debates with supposed “angels” I am incredibly outgunned. So I guess I might as well believe for now.

Went to see Drake to tell him about what we learned in the Hedge. He was actually surprisingly cool. Can you believe he invited us to a barbecue on Saturday? It was kind of weird and unexpected but it’s free food. I think he’s trying to lure us over to the Summer Court; I’m flattered but not really interested right now.

Although. He mentioned something he’s heard about Queen Mae. About…odd behaviour, and hanging out in Millington. I’m not entirely sure why he told me – maybe he’s just trying to sway me over to the Summer Court with it. If so, bold move. But…another part of me wonders if maybe he’s trying to make me distrust her for some other reason. To cast suspicion off of himself and onto her. Which begs the question “What does King Drake have to be suspicious about?”

When I got home from work, an old man was sitting on the stairs. I asked if he lived here and when he responded, he…he knew my name. So I tried to pistol-whip him for it (because of course I did) but he moved out of the way so fast. I guess I can add that to my list of weird life experiences I never, ever thought I’d have. #5871: Attempted assault of an angel.

That’s what he said he was. Just an unassuming older bald man sitting at my table, drinking my apple juice, and claiming to be an angel. Most people would’ve written him off as a crank, but I…I don’t think so. He was something. Not like me, obviously, but some kind of supe. He knew things others wouldn’t know, and he wanted to help me.

He told me the answer I was looking for. And how to fix the problem.

Dani wants me to fix the problem. It’d be so easy to just get close enough and whisper into the killer’s ear…and that’d be it. I mean, “easy” is a relative term. But everything would be solved and I’d be a Motherfucking Hero. And I’m tempted, I am.

But…the King already warned me not to kill vampires. Because that’s what the murderer is, a vampire. The real world won’t miss him – hell, eliminating one of those predators is like a gift for humanity. But again…this is shit I don’t want to bring on us.

At the very least, I need to talk to this asshole. There are questions about Dana that he can answer for me. Dani can get me close to do it. But whether I can stomach actually doing it…fuck.

I don’t even fucking know.

Claire's Journal - Two
Out of the Hedge

Claire’s writing is jagged and messy. It’s possible she’s had a drink to calm her nerves, but all it would have done is made her even more illegible.

April 25 – technically 26
I keep telling myself it wasn’t him. It was a memory. But Jesus fuck, it was so goddamn real.

Dani thought I should sleep but I can’t sleep. After this cigarette, I’ll have chained a whole pack and then I’m out. I could run to the 7/11 but…I can’t.

They’ve been in my goddamn –home-. People I trust, people I socialize with. I’m scared to even write it down because I told King Drake I’d report to him first. I don’t think I could write it down if I wanted to anyway. This is bad, this is sick, this is….

Dani is the greatest thing to ever happen to me. I don’t think I’d still be surviving without her. She got me out of the Hedge and back home and she was so sweet she even pulled the car over every time I had to puke. Which, by the way? Looks both disgusting and fascinating as a puddle of Froot Loops and Kraft Dinner against pavement.

Even Nutmeg’s not fucking around with me tonight. He knows that I’m…off. He came to cuddle in the chair after Dani went to bed, like it was his turn to console me. If cats could be farmed for glamour, I’d be set. But even after the harvest this afternoon, I’m feeling spent.

I traded a kiss for the answer. You know the one. That makes me even sicker – the idea that someone might buy that from him. That someone would –need- my memory and pay something just as valuable to them. It’s funny but I can’t even entirely recall it. I’ve tried and it’s just…fuzz that’s right out of reach. But I know it should be there, and I know it was awful, and I know that giving it up means someone else is going to have that power over me.

I fucking hate goblins.

I’m going to see the King tomorrow to tell him what I know. And if he wants me to go back into that Hedge then he’s going to need another volunteer. My mental state can’t handle finding out any more about this.

Claire's Harvesting Stories - One
Cancer Support Group

The story that Claire told to a group of cancer patients was as follows (after the customary introductions):

“My mom was diagnosed with liver cancer when I was five. She was young, like…god, I guess she would’ve been 26?….I didn’t really understand what was going on – I knew she was spending some time at the hospital, but nobody really explained it to me. My dad took it hard. They’d been childhood sweethearts – each other’s first everything, you know? – and he just…couldn’t take the idea of being without her.

“It was more aggressive than anyone expected. She uh…she was already at the end of stage 3 when they found it, and between her paycheck at K-Mart and Dad’s teacher’s salary it just didn’t cover treatments. If we’d had more money, maybe…maybe they would’ve caught it earlier, or maybe they could’ve given her more options. But uh…no. She…she died eight months later.

“My dad tried his best. He was…he missed her so much, but he just…he wasn’t about to let me down. He raised me on his own and he did really well. I think Mom would’ve been really proud of him.

“I uh…I wasn’t the greatest kid. I guess I acted out a lot because I was so…so scared and confused and just…I wanted my mom back so much. I slept around and I…well, I got pregnant two years ago. My dad was mad, but we…-he- didn’t believe in abortion, so he said he’d help me through it. Mike, the uh…the father wasn’t around. I thought I’d give it up but…I kinda wanted the kid too? Like, I’d get to be a mom and maybe I wouldn’t have such a big hole in my life anymore?

“So we went for tests and all that. I couldn’t afford to go pre-pregnancy as often as I…probably should’ve. But Dad said this kid was coming into the world right, so he was ready to like…sell the house if it meant this kid was going to be born. And they…I was three months pregnant when they told me I…had cervical cancer. Like just…bullshit fluke stuff, right? It was far enough along that I…they asked us to make a choice. I get treatment, or…the baby lives. And my dad chose me.

Pause for long, deep breath and to close eyes. Hold a fist to the forehead. Be strong.

“We –thought- the cancer was gone. I settled down and I was going to go to college in the fall and I was going to do everything right if God would just let me have this other chance. But…sometimes you just…I guess it wasn’t a bargain he wanted to strike with me. I’m stage 3 now. It…it hasn’t spread, but we’re dealing with everything as we can. Dad sold the house last time to pay for treatment and…we’re scraping by with what we can. But I’m just…I don’t know if we can do this again. I feel so guilty that I’m the reason we….”

Fade out here. Choke back a sob, put face in hands. Shake head when addressed. Story is done.

Claire's Journal - One

Claire lies on her stomach on the living room floor in front of the tv, like a kid doing their homework. In front of her is her Lisa Frank journal and a cat who’s eyeing her pen with predatory golden eyes.

April 24
Dani’s asleep. She barely slept last night so it’s no wonder she passed out so quickly. After last night, I’m wary about sleeping myself. Another fucking nightmare is the exact opposite of what I need before I risk the Hedge.

I can’t get the guilt out of my head. I haven’t cried for Dana because I’m too caught up in the idea that it could have been me or Dani. I’m not sad – I’m fucking terrified. And that fills me with guilt, but not the grief that I’m supposed to feel in the first place.

The Summer King wants the report right away but a part of me ~~o^^~ (the sentence becomes a large, illegible scribble suddenly)

Goddamn Nutmeg went after my pen. I shooed him off so he got pissy and went to sleep with Dani. I bet he’s going to stretch out and take up my side of the bed again.

I should be able to trust the King, right? I mean, he’s a head of the freehold – he wouldn’t be in the position if he couldn’t be trusted. But there was something about the Queen last night. Is this going to turn into an “us versus them” situation, Winter against Summer? I don’t care about any of the political bullshit, I just want this asshole taken care of.

They were pleased that I stepped up, so at least that’s a good thing. I don’t blame the others for wanting to avoid the shit – if I’d known it involved going into the Hedge and talking to goblins, I’d be looking for someone else to do it too. I just want to get it over with so I can get my head pats and recognition in the court.

Weird that all of this is happening on Sundays. This is going to end up being some fundamentalist Christian whackjob, isn’t it? I hate that shit. But then how’d they know about the Goblin Market? Need to get these questions out of my head so I go into the Market with a blank brain and no preconceived biases. If I start putting my own hangups on this guy before I’ve even started, then anything I find is going to be useless.

And I haven’t had time to harvest at all today so I’m getting antsy. I’ll have to get that done before heading to the Market, so at least I have something to power me through. And oh yeah, we need to get groceries. I’ll have Dani make the list because apparently Fruity Pebbles, Diet Coke and Lucky Strikes aren’t a balanced diet.

I miss apple Fruit Roll Ups. Why’d they have to get rid of that?


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