The coroner's assistant opened the drawer and pulled back the sheet, and Calla saw a living woman. Lucy's face was intact, her eyes closed, her long red hair fanned out around her head. She was breathing softly, chest moving just the slightest bit. Even her clothes were there--gray sweater, dark jeans, a chunk of quartz on a thin gold chain. Calla bit down hard on the inside of her cheek and concentrated on now. The image flickered and blurred and vanished, leaving only the waxy, jawless corpse, naked and autopsy-scarred.

Bodies remembered what they'd been.
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The Sacred & The Profane



 
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 [Fin] Smile, Darn You, Jean&Adrien
Cassandra DeRosiers
 Posted: Jan 3 2015, 12:23 AM
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Cassandra DeRosiers
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It was really happening. One of her professors had recommended her to a friend, and now she was part of an exhibit at the Yossi Milo. A dozen of her photographs were hung on the white walls, perfectly framed and up for sale. Nothing was more than a hundred twenty-five, of course--they were small, and she was a new name. In her clutch was a pack of business cards that her father had bought for her, and on her phone was his good-luck voicemail and a series of texts from Monique and Karidja telling her that she was definitely going to kick this thing's ass. Monique's words, not hers. (And there was one that should have been there and wasn't, and she had to ignore the familiar twisting of her stomach that came with knowing that.)

She stepped out of the taxi she'd splurged on (better than taking the metro in these heels--these days, she hated to wear shoes she couldn't run in, but fashion was a cruel mistress who looked unkindly on the wearing of flats to semi-formal occasions) and smoothed the front of her blue dress down. Oh, god. She was really, really doing this. A thousand what-ifs bubbled up in her mind, each more mortifying than the last. She ground them down under her metaphorical heel.

Stop being silly, Cassandra told herself sternly. This was her night. Well. Twenty percent of it was her night--there were four other rising digital artists whose work was in there with hers. But she was proud of that twenty percent, and she was going to own every bit of it. And really, comparatively speaking this rated low on the fear scale. She took a deep breath and mounted the stairs with confidence, head held high. It was ten minutes before the reception actually started, but early was better, since she was so new. Certainly much better than late.

When people started trickling in, then it was time to go to work. And it was work, not normal socializing at all. Smile, shake hands, give quick clear answers in English to people who'd apparently never heard of speaking slowly, and do it all again for the next one--over and over and over. Cassandra had been expecting it to be hard, and of course she'd prepared, but there was nothing like the real thing. It was exhausting. People seemed interested in her work, at least, and she went through more cards than she'd expected. About halfway through, she ducked into the bathroom, caught her breath, splashed some water on her face. Only an hour and a half left. She'd be fine. She was excellent at fine.

Cassandra stepped back out onto the floor, taking a moment to reorient herself. Someone touched her arm; she startled and spun. Oh. Him. She didn't know his name, but as soon as he'd walked in one of the gallery staff had pulled her aside and said Sweetheart, I know he looks like a buyer but he only ever shows up to eat the food and nitpick the art, so don't be fooled. The five of them had been avoiding him all night, and there was no way she was getting caught in a conversation with him now. Then she saw two men looking at one of her newer pieces--Personal Stars, which had been hell to finish and was probably the one she was most proud of. And, right now, it was also an escape route. She excused herself and strode over to them as quickly as she could without being rude.

"Hello," she said, extending a hand and smiling, "Cassandra DeRosiers. You have questions?" As soon as she said it she knew she'd structured the sentence wrong--there was a do that went at the beginning. Oh, well. It still meant the same thing.
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Adrien de la Roche
 Posted: Jan 3 2015, 04:13 PM
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Photographs had always seemed like witchcraft, even in his heyday when the technology had not been terribly advanced. After missing several leaps in the advancement of the camera, the process seemed even more mysterious and complicated than it had before he and Jean had sequestered themselves away in Nico's chateau. He had gone to art school, had run into his fair share of aspiring photographers, and had even made use of a camera in his time, but he had never seen anyone manage such an ambitious modification to an image before.

The gallery was, of course, full of such intricately shaped images. Objectively, he knew that such work must be commonplace in this era, as painting and sketching had been in his (though these arts had not died out, they did not hold such magic for him as they once did). Still, that objective knowledge did little to quell the growing wonder he was beginning to feel clawing at the put of his stomach.

How was it done? He had seen images superimposed on one another, but this had none of the hallmarks of that ancient technique; why, by comparison, the old masters of light and shadow seemed simply sloppy. A painting, perhaps, or a photograph of a painting, but a closer inspection of the piece's description revealed little but the artist's name.

Adrien took his time contemplating the image, though he could tell by Jean's body language that he was beginning to get bored of standing still.

They had dressed up for the occasion, in jackets that might have fit well if they'd known how to wear them and tailored trousers which, by some miracle, were only just beginning to show their age as secondhand goods. Clothing was expensive; each time they walked into a shop, Adrien feared he might have a small heart attack until he remembered how the value of money had changed in a century, and even then, he (reluctantly) settled for making do with what they could find.

He missed Niccolo for more than just his money, but he had to admit, he missed the money too. It seemed not long ago at all that the pair had wanted for nothing.

The woman's presence didn't make him feel underdressed, necessarily, but he felt a sudden flush of color to his cheeks as though he'd just done something very embarrassing. They had not gone out to feed, had not meant to attract anyone to their presence, and yet, here they were. Gathering himself, he shook the sinking embarrassment and took her hand.

“DeRosiers,” Adrien pronounced thoughtfully. “Then you are the artist! Delightful!” His English was slow and pensive; he had only been immersed in the language for about six months, which was hardly enough to have adapted to its nuances. ”This piece—my companion and I were just marveling at its beauty. How was it done?”

She looked familiar, he realized, with bright eyes and thick curls he could have sworn he'd seen before, but a preliminary sweep of his memory yielded no results. “Oh, but forgive me, I have been quite rude!” he added as an afterthought. “Adrien de la Roche. It is our pleasure to meet you, Mlle. DeRosiers.” The vampire smiled charmingly. It was always a treat, meeting a fellow artist.
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Jean Bonfils
 Posted: Jan 4 2015, 06:41 PM
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Jean did enjoy gallery shows, he really did. It was wonderful to get out, wonderful to meet the people! But Adrien—Adrien immersed himself in them. He will stand for twenty minutes looking at one piece, memorizing each tiny, insignificant detail. Jean…well, Jean got bored. He enjoyed the art but his eye was not so educated, and after more than a few minutes looking at any single thing he failed to remain engaged. However, Lord forbid he try to advance to the next room or purchase a coffee from the eatery downstairs—Adrien is all outrage if Jean does not take the same time as he does. But this new era of digital art was somewhat intriguing, and Jean observed curiously as they made their way through the gallery. They had come across the flyer for the show in a cafe they had visited, and gallery openings had been something the two used to make special trips for in France. They both were curious to observe how modern era approached art and culture.

He and Adrien had been observing what Jean considered to be probably among his favorites in the show when they were approached by the charming young woman. She smiled nervously when she introduced herself, and Jean was happy to shake her hand after Adrien had done so.

Grinning, he elbowed Adrien in the side. ”Adrien! A master never reveals her secrets, I’m sure. And surely not on a piece so original as this one, eh?” English came much more naturally to Jean; he had learned it at an earlier age than Adrien, and it was the lingua franca of his university, many years ago. ”The, ah, document they gave us says you are French, Ms. DeRosiers. If you could not tell by my dear friend’s thick accent, as are we.” He flashed her a smile. “My name is Jean Bonfils--enchanted to meet you, I'm sure.”
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Cassandra DeRosiers
 Posted: Jan 7 2015, 11:45 PM
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Cassandra DeRosiers
Neutral Parties


Charming, these two. (Not bad-looking, either, but that thought was gone almost as quickly as it came.) And French, which was something of a relief. She hadn't had a good conversation in her own language that wasn't over the phone for months now, and while English was perfectly fine she missed using French every day. "And it's mine to meet you, both of you." Almost, she added call me Cassandra--but she was enjoying being Miss DeRosiers for the moment.

"Oh, I'm not a master," Cassandra said, trying to control her blush at the compliments and succeeding only part of the way, "I haven't even my degree yet! I would tell you, actually, but that would mean going hip-deep in technical talk, which is really very boring, trust me. Unless you came to hear me go on about compositing and light levels and all that. But thank you so much! I hope you're enjoying the opening."

She tucked a curl back that didn't need tucking, a something-to-do-with-my-hands gesture she'd picked up from her mother. "I noticed," she went on dryly, dropping into French. At last. So much easier than English, and gentler on the tongue. "Where are you coming in from, then? I'm from Paris--well, Bethune, before that, but my college is in Paris. I'm an exchange student."
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Adrien de la Roche
 Posted: Jan 10 2015, 01:46 PM
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The pair had long since established, very much on accident, that they both had something of a jealous streak. This was most prominent when either of them spoke to an attractive member of the opposite (or not) sex; the catch was that they were not only jealous of the third party receiving their partner's attention, but also of their partner for hogging the attention of aforementioned third party. It was perhaps not the most healthy system, but it was their system and they had made do with it all of these years. By now, they were well practiced at the art of charming bickering.

So when Jean (who was not an artiste, as Adrien liked to remind him) so brashly and perhaps naively suggested that the exchange of techniques between artists was an inappropriate quesiton, and when he heard Cassandra's modest reply, Adrien only smiled warmly and dipped his head in agreement. “In truth, I would love to hear about light levels and...compositing, he tried the word out, hoping he'd gotten it correct. “I am an artist myself, though not so familiar with photography as I would perhaps like. But my companion is right in some capacity; it may be better to save that conversation for another time. Tonight should be about your triumph, not your process.”

At their new acquaintance's behest, the conversation changed to French, and Adrien breathed a quiet “thank goodness” to no one in particular. English had really never been his strongsuit, and though he spoke it passably, the syllables stretched his tongue and tested his patience. “Ah, we stayed a brief period in Bethune,” he mused, comforted by the soft curls of his native tongue. “I myself was born in Marseille, while I believe Jean hails from Strasbourg? But Bethune is very near where we called home until very recently—”

It was almost reflexive, the way the taste of hot blood bubbled up in his memory. The dry, thick feeling that had hung over him while they slept loomed at the corners of his consciousness, and Adrien remembered with an uncharacteristic dispassion that first meal after their lengthy slumber. Familiarity followed shortly, and while he tried to contain his surprise, he did not manage to contain the quiet gasp that escaped him. ”Perhaps we have met before, Mlle. DeRosiers. Bethune is no large town, and I seem to recall having seen you somewhere before.”
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Jean Bonfils
 Posted: Jan 11 2015, 11:19 PM
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Jean looked surprisedly from Adrien then back to Cassandra, struggling to recall the young woman’s face. She didn’t look like anyone he could lay a finger on—though she was quite lovely, in his opinion—and besides, he and Adrien had spent very little time awake in Bethune during the time the young lady would have been alive. The connection to him seemed unlikely.

“Ehh, if you say so, Adrien,” Jean said bemusedly, turning his head as he examined her face more closely. “We were only visiting recently for maybe, what…two weeks? Three? A month at the very most. And,” he said smiling, “as you may recall, we didn’t get out much.” It had not taken the two long to understand the time they had woken up was not their own, and not much longer still to decide to leave the sleepy village where faces were few enough to be missed. ”Surely I would not have forgotten a face as lovely as yours, Mlle. DeRosiers, and the two of us rarely go without each other.”

Lips pursed as he remembered the circumstances which marked their recent stay in Bethune, Jean turned to his companion. “Adrien, you must be confused. Perhaps you saw Mlle. DeRosiers work at her school in Paris?” Lingering on the subject of Bethune for too long seemed unwise; a murder or disturbance in the graveyard were both on their own events worthy of note, and together something that could potentially damn the pair. Plus, Jean knew the memories of old women stretched back far—no doubt rumors that cursed vampires had broken out of their crypt would have circled even to someone so young as Cassandra. With no explanation to why they were visiting the small town, it was best to change the subject.
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Cassandra DeRosiers
 Posted: Jan 17 2015, 09:07 PM
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Cassandra DeRosiers
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"Some other time, then, if you're really that interested." Cassandra wasn't sure if she meant that or not. Maybe she did.

There was nothing about them that was familiar, and Cassandra knew she wouldn't have forgotten them. Bethune was tiny and she'd categorized every boy there as unforgivably provincial or unforgivably idiotic or both by the time she was fourteen--if these two had visited while she was there, she'd definitely have noticed.

"I hate to take sides, but I think Mssr. Bonfils is right," Cassandra said, "I'd remember you, too." As she said it she tilted her head at angle she knew was especially flattering and upped the wattage on her smile--and then she realized what she was doing, and felt a sour rush of guilt. It wasn't real, serious flirting. Definitely not; she'd just met them five minutes ago. It was just fun, that was all. Just a game--Jean had called her lovely, she was kicking the metaphorical ball back at him. But she still felt...deficient for doing it. Sharply, awfully so.

She cleared her throat and shifted herself just the slightest bit back from the two of them. "So probably somewhere in Paris, yes. I went to things like this all the time there--I wasn't in any, but I did the circuit, so maybe it was at one of them."

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Adrien de la Roche
 Posted: Jan 19 2015, 10:10 PM
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“Hrm, perhaps,” Adrien conceded, but he could not shake the smell of dust and blood and fresh sweat. Cassandra's face lingered somewhere in his memory, panic-stricken; he had not managed to connect the two just yet, but in the background he was working overtime to do just that, and hoped that Jean was picking up the distress signal that he was laying down, ever so quietly.

He had not been in Paris for nearly a hundred years, had little experience with what it looked like in the modern era, but he was getting better at winging it. “It would explain my companion's lapse in memory, certainly; he gets bored and wanders off if you leave him alone with the artwork too long, I'm afraid, whereas I can spend hours on a handful of pieces.” He smiled charmingly, first at Jean and then at Cassandra. “If they intrigue me, as yours has,” he added, and his eyes flicked admiringly to the piece hanging before them.

It was true that the photo had captured his particular attention, but fond of it as he was, Adrien may have been misrepresenting his interest—at least somewhat. He often lingered on artwork regardless of its quality, and was really very boring to attend these events with unless you were as single-minded as he was.

But hey. Just because you were concerned you'd caused a young woman considerable emotional trauma at some point in the past didn't mean you couldn't flirt, and Adrien had no shame.
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Jean Bonfils
 Posted: Jan 21 2015, 07:35 PM
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Jean smiled tight-lipped at Adrien’s comment, but if he was being honest he could find no fault in them. “Adrien is right, I suppose,” he conceded, “I have a tendency to, well, get bored, as he put it, but more of Adrien’s immersion rather than the artwork itself. We just appreciate them at different paces, you might say.”

His eyes flickered between his two conversational partners, sensing discomfort between both of them. Cassandra, he could tell from her radiant smile, then immediate step back, felt guilty for flirting, but pleased from the attention—not an unusual reaction, though not the one he’d prefer. Adrien, however…He made eye contact, raising his eyebrows as subtly as he felt he could. Though very composed outwardly, he could tell Adrien was growing anxious, giving Jean pause. The two couldn’t really afford an outburst in public like this, though he doubted that was what was causing his companion grief as the two had taken care to feed just yesterday.

Clearing his throat, Jean decided to shift the conversation slightly. “I suppose it would not be economically manageable for your family to come and see your show tonight if you are studying abroad, but do you have any friends here to support you tonight? They must be very proud of you and your work.”
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Cassandra DeRosiers
 Posted: Jan 27 2015, 02:27 AM
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Cassandra DeRosiers
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Cassandra shrugged. "Whatever works, I think," she said noncommittally. They didn't look like they were about to have a real argument, though there was clearly something going on there. She didn't know what--no mind-reader, her, and they weren't putting out enough signals for her to get much--but maybe a subject change was a good idea. Direct the conversation elsewhere; make them comfortable again. Jean seemed to have thought of that, too; she was more than happy to go right along with him.

It had been easy enough to make friends at NYU. After a couple of missteps those first months, one of which had been named Tyler and been a fraternity (American frat culture--ugh, to be ineloquent about it), she'd found people who were interesting and fun and could be relied upon not to make it weird if at any point the hurt got to be so bad that she did something embarrassing like cry in public. Not that that happened so much (or at all) anymore--but they still understood what privacy meant. She was going to miss them when she went back to Paris. They were all very busy--the natural state of a university student, even in the States, was "up to the eyeballs in coursework"--but the ones who could make it would be dropping by to see her.

"Oh, they'll show up at some point," she said, "But of course it would be passé to spend too much time with them here. A few of us are going to dinner to celebrate when I'm done, though. And you? Anything interesting planned for after, or is this your entertainment for the night?"

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Adrien de la Roche
 Posted: Jan 28 2015, 06:46 PM
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“This will be the highlight of our evening, it seems,” Adrien admitted, adding swiftly, “not that this is a tragedy.” Mlle. DeRosiers was charming and lovely, and he would certainly have liked to see more of her, regardless of any past involvement. This might have been easier to convey, had he not been a naturally anxious and highly excitable individual. It saddened him to have any interaction soured by these traits, but doubly so when his interest extended further than the evening meal—so to speak.

Swallowing a dry mouth, he tried to quash his nerves. He was normally quite charming, when he wanted to be, but perhaps he had overestimated his comfort beneath the lights. Simply accepting that his nervous excitement was well-founded helped him to alleviate it somewhat.

“Forgive us, mademoiselle, I hope we are not occupying too much of your time. Tonight is, after all, about you and your work.” Conferring with Jean in private about the identity of this woman—if only to double-check his suspicions—would probably be the wise decision in this case. Adrien knew he had not made the greatest first impression, but he offered up the most pleasant smile he could muster (and that was quite pleasant, even given his nerves) anyway.
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Jean Bonfils
 Posted: Jan 31 2015, 02:23 PM
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”It was a pleasure meeting you,” Jean said with a smile, taking her hand for a moment. “I wish you all the luck in the world, Mlle. DeRosiers. I’m sure you won’t need it, being as talented as you are.” Jean could tell Adrien wished to speak with him, and it wasn’t as if his brother was wrong: it was rude to hog an artist’s time at her first exhibition. This was a good opportunity to network and get her name out there. Far be it that they should ruin that opportunity for her.

“Er, is it possible that you have a—“ He floundered momentarily, searching for the word he needed. ”Information card with which we could contact you later? If you are interested in selling any of your work perhaps Adrien and I would be interested in buying. Maybe we could get dinner and talk.” He smiled broadly, but was inwardly surprised by the forwardness of his request. It felt like something Nico would do—Nico had done, to both of them even. Stroking an artist’s ego was the quickest way to their hearts; that and the prospect of money, and Jean really did want to see her again. Dinner in which all parties survived sounded pleasant, and it was so refreshing to speak his native tongue.
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Cassandra DeRosiers
 Posted: Feb 2 2015, 10:01 PM
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Cassandra DeRosiers
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Usually, Cassandra was spot-on about when someone was coming on to her, but these two--saying there were mixed signals all over the place was mild. Not that she hadn't just done some mixing of her own. Adrien at least seemed a little bit nervous. Probably an introvert thing; she was pretty good at picking those types out of the crowd. Jean...He didn't seem nervous at all. Especially with the way he took her hand. Normally it wasn't something she'd have allowed from some white dude she'd just met, but he'd surprised her, and he was oddly courtly about it. Still. The right thing to do was to shut it down, wasn't it?

"That," she said, pulling her hand back from Jean's, "Is shameless flattery." The places where his skin had touched hers were cold from the loss of contact. Cassandra swallowed and covered by adding, "I bet you say that to all the artists."

"Possible, sure." She popped her clutch open and passed him one--careful, this time, not to let her fingers brush his. "There you are; call me any time. Although I can't promise I'll pick up if you phone at three in the morning. Have a good night, you two."

And then it was on to the next one.

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