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The Legacy of Al-Kazar: A World of Pure Imagination (IC)

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Sunday, August 22nd 2010. Silberman's Books, the corner of Pratt and Frederick. Noonish.

The key would not go in the lock; not because it was the wrong key or the locks had been changed, but because Lynn's hand was shaking so darn much.

"Well this is just embarrassing." :roll:

She finally had to grip her right wrist with her left hand to steady it enough to slide the key in, and with a simple twist the door to her beloved grandfather's shop, now legally and completely her own, swung open. Her big brown eyes if anything seemed larger than normal as she smiled nervously back at Colt, her loving and ever-dependable boyfriend; as she stepped inside, she reached out a hand to him.

"Come and see."

Clearly it had been several years since anyone had stepped foot into Silberman's Books; a thick layer of dust covered all surfaces, including several haphazard stacks of cardboard boxes. Thin streams of sunlight speared the air, shooting in around the edges of the countless newspapers taped over all the windows. Row after row of empty bookshelves stood mutely about the space, with even more lining the walls. A curved wooden counter dominated the room, it's antique cash register guarded by a dustcover. There were also a few empty wire magazine racks and a large wooden table, surrounded by four mismatched chairs.

To the left, a step up led to the expansion her grandfather had added many years ago into the adjacent storefront; towards the back of the store would be the office, a set of stairs to the apartment above, and the ever-locked room that held the last remaining effects of her her great-grandfather Ira, missing since 1957.

Lynn looked about the room and sniffed, saying nothing for several minutes; at long last, she simply smiled and said, "Grampa."

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Colt followed as Grim led him into the store by the hand. He could feel her shaking with excitement. He himself was incredibly nervous, but that was for other reasons...

"Come and see."

"Reckon I ain't even sure what'm lookin't." Colt drawled as they entered. There was a lot of dust, and a lot of old effects. The verisimilitude of antiquities gave Colt a brief flashback of life in his own dimension. Everything there had an older feel to it, and this store seemed to be channeling that effect in some strange fashion.

Colt suddenly realized he'd stopped dead in the doorway, Grim's hand pulling away from his. When she looked back, he could only shrug and say, "Sorry, spaced'a guess."

For months now, he'd been displaced from his own dimension. He'd made friends by the dozens in this city, some of them as close as family. He'd been forced to start over, but risen to the challenge. Unfortunately, he still had days when memories of his previous life haunted him. As far as he knew, though, he was stuck here. More and more, he had been discovering that being stuck in this dimension wasn't such a bad thing. As he looked at grim, he became even more sure of that fact.

"Oh, naw this's neat." Colt said, running his hand over the antique coat rack next to the door. He removed his hat, and placed it on the rack, as well as his coat. As he took a few more steps towards the center of the room, his arm briefly brushed against his coat, and he discretely transferred something small with a deep red color from a pocket in the coat to one in his pants. Colt was a near master of sleight-of-hand tricks, even if he seldom used it. He took a brief moment to reflect on the fact that his rare use of the skill made it all the more unexpected.

As Colt got closer to Grim, she was busy reveling in her surroundings.

Lynn looked about the room and sniffed, saying nothing for several minutes; at long last, she simply smiled and said, "Grampa."

Colt approached her from behind, and lightly placed his hands on her shoulders. "I reckon he kept'a nice place'ere." Colt said softly as he gazed around at the various treasures.

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"I reckon he kept'a nice place'ere."

Grim nodded happily. "He sure did." Then she tilted her head back to flash a warm upside down smile up at Colt. "Hey there, pahdner." Blissfully unaware of the feelings currently swirling around her boyfriend's head and heart, she suddenly shrunk down to pixie size, leaving the cowboy's hands grasping thin air.

"Let's shed a little light on the subject, eh?"

In a flash, the tiny (well, tinier) changeling zipped around the room, tearing the newspapers off the windows to allow golden shafts of dusty sunlight to fill room until the whole place glowed like a sleepy little church just before mass. After dumping all the crumpled papers in a large conjured wastebasket, she returned to Colt's side and her normal size; hands on her hips, covered in dust from head to toe, but looking deeply satisfied.

"There, much better!" :D

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Colt gave a start when Grim suddenly shrunk. Comically, his hands grasped at the air where she used to be. As Grim began zipping around the room, her attention directed elsewhere, he thought to himself, I reckon I might'n't get'a better chance'n this. He quickly dipped his hand into his pocket, and retrieved the small box that was there. He covertly dropped it on a nearby counter top. The counter itself was incredibly dusty, having been undisturbed for ages. This made the box itself stick out like a sore thumb, if you knew it was there. If you hadn't been looking at all of the trinkets everywhere, you may never have noticed it.

Grim returned to him, with her pixie work complete. "Aw, now lookit ya. Ya gon'n made yerself all dusty!" Colt dusted the petite shape shifter off with his hands in the most playfully obnoxious way possible. He stopped briefly to draw a handkerchief from his pocket, placed it over her whole face and scrubbed. The action evoked a small squeal from his girlfriend. Removing the handkerchief he said, "There, I reckon that's'a mite better." Then planted a kiss on her lips. "Couldn't kiss ya till ya were clean."

Colt stopped to look around the room. It had brightened enormously with the windows now obscured. Many small trinkets that were previously seen now became obvious. One of which was the small, very clean, jewel box he himself had placed on a very dirty counter top...

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"Aw, now lookit ya. Ya gon'n made yerself all dusty!"

Lynn sputtered, giggled and squealed as Colt gave her a rather thorough cleaning, and happily accepted the kiss that was offered. Then she caught a glimpse of the small red box on the counter, and the color suddenly left her cheeks. She pointed at it with a trembling finger.

"Is that..." :shock:

The changeling approached the tiny box on unsteady feet, and gingerly picked it up as though it might explode; she was about to peek inside it when she spun about on her heels to face Colt, and for some reason her expression was not quite as joyful as the cowboy might have expected. Clutching the box tightly to her chest, the shapeshifter spoke with great difficulty.

"Oh God...oh God...I mean, I knew this day would come, or at least I hoped it would, but I wasn't..." She swallowed nervously. "Colt, I, uh, I'm fairly sure you're about to ask me a pretty important question, but before I answer it or you even ask it, we have to talk about some things. Something I did, and some things I don't do anymore."

She indicated the chairs around the table.

"You might want to sit down, honey." :(

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As Grim turned back to face him, Colt swallowed hard and prepared himself to get down on one knee. But then Grim stopped him.

"Oh God...oh God...I mean, I knew this day would come, or at least I hoped it would, but I wasn't..." She swallowed nervously. "Colt, I, uh, I'm fairly sure you're about to ask me a pretty important question, but before I answer it or you even ask it, we have to talk about some things. Something I did, and some things I don't do anymore."

She indicated the chairs around the table.

"You might want to sit down, honey." :(

Colt regarded his girlfriend with a straight face. He wasn't smiling, or frowning. He wasn't judging, or pleading. If anything, he may have been puzzling things out in that way he had of thinking about things silently as he let them develop and get more information. Then finally, he responded with a small smile, "Okay, honey."

For all of Grim's bubbly personality quirks and sheer enthusiastic energy, she was very rarely dead serious. Though they had only been dating for less than a year, Colt had learned very quickly, that when Grim put on that expression, it was time to drop everything and listen. Colt sat in the chair on the left of the table. Leaned back, folded his left leg across his right knee, placed his left elbow on the table, his chin on his left hand, and looked toward Grim.

"Shoot."

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"Shoot."

Grim nodded and took a deep breath, still clutching the tiny precious box.

"Okay, several months ago I got a call from Atlas; he sounded all weird and was clearly freaked out, and asked me to come to his house and help him out with something. he made it clear he couldn't really explain it over the phone. So I made with the the wings and flitted on over."

She started pacing and gesturing as she often did while telling a story.

"So I get there and Sam is all messed up; his body was all-" The shapeshifter stopped as she squinted, deep in thought. "There's a word for it; I think it's 'mimetic'? It's like when something copies another thing, almost like a reflection. So Atlas is pretty much becoming whatever he sees and has no idea why; he was like a mutant cat thing when I got there, though pretty soon he looked a lot like me, which was mega-freaky."

Grim pulled out a chair, flipped it around, and rested her chin on her folded arms over the back.

"He'd developed shapeshifting powers but didn't know how to control them; he knew I was a shapeshifter, so he asked me for help. And I did; pretty soon he was able to assume a lot of different shapes, including his old pre-Atlas self."

And here Lynn paused, sat up straight and held up her hands. "Now up until this point, everything is pretty much hunky-dory; it's just one friend helping another friend through a tough time. But then it became a shapeshifting game, and then we had a friendly little tussle, and then-"

Lynn squeezed her eyes shut in a pained wince.

"I kissed him. And not just a little peck on the cheek; this was a hot and sexy kiss, with me kissing him and him kissing back. because in that moment, just for a second, I wanted him bad."

She opened her eyes, her face the image of regret.

"We broke it off immediately, both kinda shocked about what happened; Atlas wanted to tell you right away, God bless him, but I begged him to stop, and let me pick the time."

She hung her head in shame.

"It was still early in our relationship, and I knew it hadn't really meant anything, but I wanted to wait, until things between us got stronger, more concrete."

Grim raised her big brown eyes up to meet Colt's, and there were tears in the corners.

"I was weak, but just for a second; I knew I loved you and would never hurt you that way, but I was also ashamed and scared. And I'm sorry I waited so long to tell you, but there it is."

Though she was still crying, it was clear from her posture that a huge weight was lifted off her slender shoulders.

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Colt listened to the story calm and composed. As she watched him, Grim was reminded of all the reasons she held him dear. His level-headed attitude, his stoic personality, his faithfulness and his dependability. These were qualities that he openly shared with those around him openly and freely. However, he also expected them returned to him, in at least some measure. Colt allowed himself to become a rock, a stable foundation upon which others built their courage and their lives. For all of that, he was an indispensable friend, teammate, and lover.

Colt did not often get angry, or upset. Grim could probably count on her thumbs (without shape shifting to get more) the number of times she could remember seeing him that way. Which was why when Colt let out a sigh at the end of her story, her heart fell a little.

"Well, I cain't say I ain't upset." Colt's tone was even and measured. He met her gaze with a straight face. This was a man that was known for telling it like it is, and he wasn't about to disappoint now. "I'd be lyin' if'a did."

Colt mulled it over in his head, Here I am, 'bout'a propose'n she's gotta tell me now? Well she ain't really known fer'er sense'a timin'. But that ain't really the reason'm with'er neither. I'm here cuz'a love'er. It'll take more'n a kiss ta change that. he decided.

"But me bein' mad ain't really th'issue. It sounds like this's somethin' that ya've got'n over. But'a reckon it's still worth me tell'n ya off, an' I reckon Atlas's got'a thump on 'is head comin' th'next time'a see'em." Colt leaned forward and held Grim's hand. "So here't is. What'm bout'ta ask ya's serious. But before'a do, I'm tellin' ya - not askin' - that'a don't want y'all'ta have'ta tell me this agin. But if ya do, I wanna know 'bout it immediately. Cuz I reckon you'll get th'same deal from me. That'sa promise." Colt stood from his chair and pulled Grim up by the hands. "I love ya, Grim. Ain't nothin' gonna change that. Leastways not'a kiss't happened so long'a go." Colt pulled the small box from Grim's hand and took a step back.

The dimensionally displaced cowboy sank down to one knee. In front of him, he held the small red box. His eyes were locked on Grim's.

"I reckon I waited to long'ta do this..." Colt said quietly as he opened the box. Inside was a dark black band with a row of diamonds set along the top. The metal of the band looked all too familiar to Grim. As Colt pulled the ring from the box, she recognized the tell tale texture of iron. Before she could even be upset, Colt preempted her. "This here's a special metal. Ain't made'n yer world. I had'ta melt down some'a my bullet casings ta git enough'a it. We developed't back home cuz we love things't look old so much. Problem is'at iron's too brittle fer'a lot'a things. So we made this. Made'ta look like iron, but behave'n every way like steel. I reckon it shouldn't hurt ya none."

Colt placed the box beside him on the ground. He held the ring up with his right hand between his thumb and forefinger for Grim to see.

"Like this ring, I ain't from this world." Colt began, "An' like this ring, I changed so I'd be some use'ta people. An' like this ring, I didn't lose non'a the way I was. So by givin' ya this ring, I'd like ta remind ya've exactly who'a am." Colt choked back his emotions and soldiered on.

"By givin' ya this ring, I'd like ta ask: Will you, Lynn Epstein, marry me?"

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"I reckon I waited to long'ta do this..."

Lynn's heart did a somersault in her chest, and was now beating a mile a minute, which oddly enough made time move even more slowly, like overcranking an old movie camera. She watched as he lifted the beautiful ring out of the box, a ring so unique, so Colt, and each second was stretched out like saltwater taffy.

"This here's a special metal. Ain't made'n yer world. I had'ta melt down some'a my bullet casings ta git enough'a it. We developed't back home cuz we love things't look old so much. Problem is'at iron's too brittle fer'a lot'a things. So we made this. Made'ta look like iron, but behave'n every way like steel. I reckon it shouldn't hurt ya none."

In her mind, a film loop played of every conversation she'd ever had about marriage and husbands, for giggled conversations in the schoolyard to serious talks with her mom, dad and various aunts and uncles. One conversation in particular stuck in her mind, a conversation between her grandfather and her mom she overheard as a child. When her mom complained about the sacrifices she'd made to raise a family, Grampa Lou had chuckled.

"Well, Pop always said 'life ain't for the faint of heart'; I guess that goes double for families."

"Like this ring, I ain't from this world." "An' like this ring, I changed so I'd be some use'ta people. An' like this ring, I didn't lose non'a the way I was. So by givin' ya this ring, I'd like ta remind ya've exactly who'a am."

She shouldn't have stopped talking; she still had things to say, dire warnings and prophecies, all the whys and why nots, all the horrible, horrible ways everything could go wrong. If she allowed herself to be truly happy, if she let down her guard for even an instant, the forces of chaos would come crashing in and shatter them both...

"By givin' ya this ring, I'd like ta ask: Will you, Lynn Epstein, marry me?"

"I..." Her voiced squeaked in her throat, forcing her to gulp down air. She took the ring form Colt with trembling fingers and felt its weight in her palm. He was right, it didn't hurt her, but by some specially property it was not inert metal; it felt alive, a tiny spark of life that tingled her skin. Lynn swallowed and pushed on, her voice pitched slightly higher than usual.

"I have never loved a man the way I love you, Colt, and I owe you an answer, but I have one more thing to share with you before I give it."

She took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

"I don't eat anymore, or drink; I can, if I want to do, and the food goes...somewhere, I dunno. I don't feel heat or cold, I don't get sick. My weight has stayed exactly the same for nearly four years since my transformation, and though I can't prove it yet, I don't think I've aged a day in that time either."

She met Colt's eyes with her big brown ones.

"I'm not human anymore, Billy, and I don't think the process is over; I don't know who I'll be in a year or ten years or even farther on down the line. I do know that I love you, and I want to be with you as long as I can, as long as the laws of science, magic and the will of God allows."

Grim smiled and shook her head.

"I'm insane, unpredictable and moody as hell; in a lot of ways I'm far from the prefect girlfriend, much less the perfect wife. I've screwed up a lot, I've kept things from you, and for that I am so damn sorry. But whatever I am, you can have me."

She flipped the ring up in the air, the diamonds sparkling in the streams of sunlight, and caught it.

"Grampa said twenty-two is a big number for us in our family, and I guess he was right."

She carefully handed the ring back to the man she loved, then extended her left hand like a proper lady.

"August Twenty-Second, Twenty-Ten: the day one Sherilyn Epstein told one William Reynolds, 'My answer is yes'." :cry: :D

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Colt let his face fall once again into the passive mask he used whenever someone explained things or talked to him. It was the face he used when he was mulling things over. But once her explanation was over, and she'd given her answer, his face cracked into a wide beaming smile. He eagerly slipped the ring around her finger, stood, grabbed his new fiance about the waist, and kissed her.

When the two were finally able to pull away, Colt held Grim close, refusing to let her get away just yet. As he lightly stroked her face he told her, "Y'all should know by now. I c'n handle any'a th'problems life throws't me. A'ways had'n a'ways will. I ain't gonna let'a lil' thing like farie magic stand'n th'way'a makin' ya happy." Colt's stoic expression lapsed once more. His smile was enormous, and a small set of tears rolled down his cheek.

Grim had never seen a happier cowboy.

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"Y'all should know by now. I c'n handle any'a th'problems life throws't me. A'ways had'n a'ways will. I ain't gonna let'a lil' thing like farie magic stand'n th'way'a makin' ya happy."

For her part, Grim began to giggle uncontrollably (technically something between a giggle and a sob) as tears of joy poured down her face as she held on to her precious cowboy for dear life. After a few minutes, when they were finally willing to release each other, she took a step back and then spun around, and a beautiful lacy white wedding dress flowed over her petite frame. Clutching a conjured bouquet of flowers, she sighed happily. Then a sudden idea struck her and her eyes lit up like firecrackers.

"We should have the service right here, in the store! I don't want a million people anyway, and we could move the furniture in back for a while..."

She started to pace floor as ideas flooded her head.

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Colt gave a contented sigh as he watched Grim twirl. After hearing her suggestion, Colt responded, "I reckon that would b'nice, wouldn'it? This here spot cert'n'ly means somethin' t'us." Colt ran his finger along one of the countertops, and came up with years of dust on the end of his digit. "Sure is gon' take some cleanin' tho'."

Colt followed along after Grim, trying to take in all the sights and smells of the shop that was part of a family he would soon belong to. That thought created a warm feeling inside him. He was starting to believe that he had finally found a place where he belonged. This made him extremely happy.

"Maybe we should start writin' down all'a these here ideas..." He said absentmindedly as he wandered through the maze of various shelves.

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"I reckon that would b'nice, wouldn'it? This here spot cert'n'ly means somethin' t'us."

"Sure is gon' take some cleanin' tho'."

Grim looked down at the dust spirals she'd made by spinning in her magicked gown; she lifted up the hem and made a face.

"Eyugh; you said a mouthful there, pardner."

Shaking herself like a wet kitten, her dress vanished in a cloud of vapor droplets, leaving the shapeshifter in loose New Jersey Devils jersey, a pair of well-worn sweats and comfy sneakers. A large push-broom appeared in her hand and she set to work.

"Maybe we should start writin' down all'a these here ideas..."

"Ooh, good call, honey!"

Leaning the broom up against the counter, Lynn made a chalkboard on an easel off to one side; using some conjured chalk, she wrote 'Wedding Plans' across the top of the board, and then doodled in some bells and a little cake before putting the chalk down.

"Okay, as we get ideas we can jot 'em down here, and then transfer them to something more portable later."

Suddenly struck by a thought, she grabbed the chalk again and wrote some more.

Security (remember Jack and Taylor's wedding?)

1. Flowers by Stesha, w/ Stesha as guest (b.maid?)

2. Talk w/ Colby about magic wards (b.maid?)

3. Taylor? (b.maid/guest/addl security?)

3. Doc A for crazy tech solutions (would love as guest, but poss. family issues)

Fun Stuff!!!

1. Klezmer band!

2. Uncle Karl out of jail?

3. Klezmer!

4. Gefilte fish for all!

5. Gowns by Eddi (and me!)

"Okay, that's all I've got for now, just a few things to think about."

She set down the chalk again, then walked to Colt's side to give him a hug and a warm kiss; once she came up for air, she took a half-step back to search her fiance's face with her deep brown eyes.

"Are you okay with a Jewish wedding? They totally kick ass, but you'd have to memorize some Hebrew..."

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She set down the chalk again, then walked to Colt's side to give him a hug and a warm kiss; once she came up for air, she took a half-step back to search her fiance's face with her deep brown eyes.

"Are you okay with a Jewish wedding? They totally kick ass, but you'd have to memorize some Hebrew..."

"Oh I'm fine wit' it. That is, if'n y'all don't mind me butcherin' th'accent. 's bound'ta happen." Colt shrugged, then moved to pick up the chalk. He approached the board, drew a few arrows, and created a few new sections.

Colt's additions included:

Security

Small Army ("If we're judgin' by that last weddin'...")

Wedding Party

Best Man: Jack ("I reckon there really ain't no other choice. Man's got style.")

Groomsmen: Doc, Eli, ("Y'all c'n put down somma yer friends if'n ya want.")

Fun Stuff!!!

Cake: Extra Large!

Colt stopped when he got to the "Fun Stuff" section. "G'foulta fish? Really? We could a'ways just serve up'a bowl'a salt. I'd taste the same'n be cheaper too." Colt made a face like he was going to yak, then smiled. Giving Grim a hard time, he shook his head, "G'foulta fish..."

Setting down the chalk, he returned to stand next to Grim. Taking up the broom, he propped it up with his left hand and laid his right arm around his fiance's shoulders. With a moment of sudden pride, he beamed down at her, "I reckon we're really doin' this, ain't we?"

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"I reckon we're really doin' this, ain't we?"

She nodded and looked up at her fiance (ooh, that had a ring to it!) and smiled.

"Yep, we really are." She frowned slightly. "I'll have to work on my family a bit as far as Doc goes; I mean sure, he has every right to be there, and should be, but the minute they hear that German accent..."

She closed her eyes and sighed.

"We'll make it work, somehow; I might have to lay on the charm with a spackle knife, and be extra-extra-radiant on the actual day."

Lynn chuckled at the thought.

"Those wedding photos are gonna kick some serious ass..."

At last she opened her eyes and stepped on tiptoe to kiss her beau.

"Alright, enough chit-chat; let's get to work!"

She playfully dragged him into the expansion side of the store, with all its empty bookshelves.

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"We'll make it work, somehow; I might have to lay on the charm with a spackle knife, and be extra-extra-radiant on the actual day."

Lynn chuckled at the thought.

"Those wedding photos are gonna kick some serious ass..."

Colt laughed along with Grim at her comment about the Spackle knife. Her comment about the wedding photos nearly fell on deaf ears, however, as Colt's attention was quickly being drawn elsewhere. He'd spotted a door off to one side of the shop near the rear of the room they were standing in. He found himself wondering why he hadn't noticed it earlier, and if it was ever really there at all in the first place?

"Alright, enough chit-chat; let's get to work!"

"Yea..." Colt's response was absent minded. "What'a ya reckon's b'hind this here door?" Colt lifted his free hand, leaving one still wrapped around Grim's waist, and pointed at the dusty old portal.

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"Yea..." Colt's response was absent minded. "What'a ya reckon's b'hind that door ov'r thur?"

Grim leaned back to peer in the direction her fiancé (whee!) was indicating.

“Oh, that? That is the holy of holies, o best beloved.†Gingerly extracting herself from his embrace, he fished out a large bundle of old-looking keys as she approached the door. “That's where my Great-Grampa Ira, aka the Amazing Al-Kazar, left all his props and stuff when he upped and disappeared back in 1957. I haven’t been in there since before I was born.â€

She undid the lock and pulled the door open, which filled the air with the smell of dust, old leather and decaying fabric. Inside there were several heavy black trunks and suitcases neatly stacked against the walls, and a large standing mirror with a gilded wood frame partially covered by a sheet.

“Whoa, that’s the mirror me and Ren used to go come back to the present! Well, the weird messed-up present we had to fix.†She yanked the sheet off, sending clouds of dust in all directions. Her reflection was there, normal as could be, but still she felt a shiver go down her spine. "Wow…déjà déjà vu.â€

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Colt coughed a little, and waved the dust out of his face. Then followed Grim into the storage room. He ran his hand along some of the leather here and there. Being cooped up in one place for so long, many of the scents of old materials like leather and varnish assaulted his nose. He could only imagine what Grim was experiencing, and frankly, he was surprised that she hadn't choked on it. Maybe his old smoking habit, now kicked, had done some good after all, in raising her tolerance to offensive smells.

Colt moved up behind Grim as she examined the mirror. "Hmm," He muttered, placing his hands on her shoulders, "Seems't me, thing's broke. I reckon it just don't do you justice." His reflection smiled back at her.

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"Hmm," He muttered, placing his hands on her shoulders, "Seems't me, thing's broke. I reckon it just don't do you justice."

Grim beamed up at him. "Y'know you've got me spoiled rotten with all the sweet nothing's you come up with, right? I mean by all means, keep 'em coming; I'm just sayin'."

She reached out and gently touched the surface of the mirror, and seemed mildly disappointed thaty she didn't step through it like Alice into Wonderland.

"Well nertz to you, so-called magic mirror! Oh that's right, I had his wand last time; I did the whole bit."

She started to poke around among the boxes and trunks, casually flipping open lids and peeking within; slowly her hair grows long and black, her increasingly-visible skin takes on an olive cast, and her clean-up clothes become much more...Arabesque. Clearly any normal person would be freezing in that get-up! :shock:

"I told you about my whole ‘Princess Jasmine’ phase growing up, didn't I? Lasted a few years, mostly fueled by the stuff I found in this room, or at least the stuff Grampa Lou let me handle. Oh man, check this out!"

She jumped headlong into a large steamer trunk, so just her legs were sticking up in the air, then she disappeared altogether; seconds later, however, she leapt out, dramatically wielding a large golden-hilted scimitar of exotic design, which she swished through the air this way and that, twirling about so her long, dark glamoured hair spun like a shimmering satin blade itself.

"He used tons of these in his act! Swords, scarves, knives and mysterious pots of smoke in all kinds of crazy colors! Wow, can you imagine the magic act I could do? We'd make a hundred billion dollars!"

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"I told you about my whole ‘Princess Jasmine’ phase growing up, didn't I? Lasted a few years, mostly fueled by the stuff I found in this room, or at least the stuff Grampa Lou let me handle. Oh man, check this out!"

"Why hello there, beautiful!" Colt wore a sly smile which kept Grim guessing as to whether he was talking to her or the sword. Knowing Colt, he was just giving her a hard time, though. "I reckon Jack'd kill't git 'is hands on one'a them."

After taking the expected reprimand for his comment, Colt asked if he could hold the sword.

"He used tons of these in his act! Swords, scarves, knives and mysterious pots of smoke in all kinds of crazy colors! Wow, can you imagine the magic act I could do? We'd make a hundred billion dollars!"

"'An not jus' you, babe." Colt twirled the sword through the air, lifted his chin, and opened his mouth. Before Grim could even protest, he dropped the long blade of the sword right down his throat! Then he pulled it out before Grim could even blink, smiled, and took a bow. "Tada!"

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"Tada!"

For a moment there, he had her; Grim clutched her mouth with both hands and her eyes buggd out of her head, thankfully not literally. But then her eyes narrowed and she cocked her head to one side.

"Wait a second...okay, I see what you did there." She shook her head and chuckled. "Very nice, honey." Folding her arms in front of her, she did a Barbara Eden blink, which switched her genie outfit back to collgeiate sweats. With a sigh, she surveyed the rest of the treasures, all boxed up and waiting to be unveiled.

"As much as I hate to say it, I think we should clean up a bit more out in the store before open any more presents." She gave Colt a weary smile. "I don't think I can handle anymore surprises to day."

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"Jus' makin' sure ya'know I still got some tricks up ma' sleeve," Colt teased her. "But yer probably right. If'n we're gon' hold'n event here, we're gon' need thing's spotless. Otherwise I reckon I'll be hearin' it from yer mother." Colt jokingly teased Grim about her mother's traditional way of 'doing things right'.

She gave Colt a weary smile. "I don't think I can handle anymore surprises to day."

"What?" Colt asked, surprised. "No more surprises? Come on, baby," Colt opened his arms, "I reckon y'all a'ways gotta leave room fer ice cream!"

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