Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Offworld. Likely not off in fairyland, given what Lynn had said about those bastards - but that might be why she was extra spicy about them. It wasn't really a topic Joe felt needed to be explored right now. They were heroes, after all, or at least adjacent to heroism. This meant doing weird stuff, going weird places, and generally just getting swept up in the weird. And this was a day to try and be normal - or at least, as close as one could get to it while eating dinner with a magical DJ and a fairy woman in a magical bookstore. 

 

"Not sure about prayers," he said, "but if we're getting to the thanks already..." He raised his glass. "I'm thankful for my friends, and all the **** they put up with from me. I'm thankful for my family, who've been there throughout my recent efforts." He tipped his glass towards Asli. "I'm thankful for Asli, who's understands all my crap in a way that I really haven't had anyone understand for a while." He raised his glass to the others. "And... I'm thankful for you, for opening your place up to me." 

Share this post


Link to post

Sam was distracted, both by the mouthwatering-looking spread and by trying to remember if her elbows were supposed to go on or off the table. She went with her best guess and took them off the table, then spread a napkin in her lap, copying Lynn. Preoccupied by her attempts to hide her awful table manners, it took her a moment to notice that it was probably her turn to speak. She coughed, adjusted the napkin in her lap, then raised her glass. "Okay. Well, I guess first of all, I'm thankful for Asli too. She gave me a place to stay, at a time when I was..." she gestured vaguely with the glass, "not in a great place with my life. Which means I'm also thankful to Lynn, and Gretchen," she nodded to the pair of them, "for giving me the first actual job I've had in years, and giving me a chance to get my shi - er, my life back on track. And also-" she broke off. "Yeah, I'm...I'm thankful for a lot of people." She hesitated, then took a sip of her drink and subsided into silence.

Share this post


Link to post

"Well s---, if you're going to be all serious about things." Asli was silent for a long moment as she composed her thoughts, then she reached out and took Sam and Joe's hands, squeezing them tightly as she spoke. "Well I guess if there's one thing in this year I'm going to remember it's when I found a brand new person in my life to be a member of this group of this group here who run around this town without any fear of what could happen and instead embrace what inner strength she could be tappin' and instead of being weighed down by her past she's going to turn it around and be happy with herself and do it fast."

 

She took a deep breath and plunged on. "Then I went out of my zone to to take my song and add a new tone when I started seeing this handsome new guy who is ripped and flying high, you know he's got a real ear for what's a good sound an' even with all that he's not got a big head he's really grounded."

 

She felt like she was floating, like she was in a weird, hollow place of her soul. She couldn't stop the verse now, so she just tried to empty her mind and let it flow. "Now I'm sittin' here with these two girls and ready to partake and I'm glad to say that even if I had to frown I couldn't fake it I'm just glad to know that this year is come and gone and we're all here to say we've had a damn good run."

 

Asli snatched her hands back quickly, taking a long swallow of water as the silence returned. "Prophet, did I just try to rhyme 'run' with 'gone'? I'm off my game tonight."

Share this post


Link to post

Lynn blinked for a few seconds, then smiled. "Wow, that was pretty cool! You're-"

 

"DJ Eclectic," Gretchen said with certainty. She smiled a half smile and nodded. "Thought I recognized you. Your s### is tight; if you're ever looking to collaborate-"

 

Lynn rolled her eyes. "Oh, here comes the card...

 

Her assistant shot her an annoyed look as she indeed fished a business card out of her wallet. "It's called 'networking', and all musicians do it." She placed the card on the table in front of Asli and shrugged.

 

No ReGretz Productions

Gretchen McDaniels

Vocals/Multi-instrumentalist/Producer

 

"Vocals, composition...I play piano, synths...acoustic, electric, bass...violin, cello..."

 

"Mandolin...

 

"I do play mandolin."

 

Lynn just smiled, shook her head and took a swig of cider. "Just shut up and be thankful so we can eat."

 

Gretchen looked at everyone. "I already was, I told my shooting story. You're the one holding us up."

 

The changeling laughed as she wiped her mouth with her hand. "Alright, fair enough." She paused as she collected her thoughts. "I am thankful for...all the families in my life; my mom and dad and sister...the one I left behind on Otherworld...and the one I'm building at this store. I'm thankful for the chance to make a difference in people's lives, and to know so many people who do the same; may we all accomplish even more next year." She nodded firmly. "Amen. Alright, let's eat this s###! You guys must be starving."

 

Lynn began serving food, passing around plates, and carving the turkey with impressive grace; it soon became apparent she was putting nothing on her own plate.

Edited by Heritage

Share this post


Link to post

Asli smiled as she heaped potatoes and turkey onto her plate. "Always nice to meet a fan," she said. She passed on the gravy boat before picking up the card, listening to Gretchen's spiel. "You're putting claim to some pretty wide talent. You ever think of putting in a mix tape for Stone Soup? The suits could use someone with electronica-classical-western-hip hop-Game of Thrones leanings."

 

She watched the food going around the table, and pretty soon Lynn's empty plate was becoming conspicuous. She exchanged a look and raised eyebrows with Sam. If this was a diet, it was a pretty extreme one. "So what kind of place is Otherworld, Lynn? I can't say I've done a lot of world-hopping. Most of what I do is singing and busting up drug deals."

Share this post


Link to post

Joe applauded Asli's freestyle show of gratification. When she mentioned him... well, it had been a while since he'd been in a relationship. "And I gotta say, it's a hell of a thing to be with a woman who knows how to turn a rhyme and who's quick on her wits." He raised his glass again. "To knowing the streets together." After taking another swig, he said, "And the longer you spend doing this kind of thing, the more likely you are to take weird trips yourself. Let's see... I've been to the past, the future, Faerie, Tian - that's the Heaven of the Chinese gods - alternate universes... kinda trying to keep track of all the weird places I've been. Hell, I'm not even counting the... what do ya call 'em, 'demiplanes'? Places that are half-here, half-there, like when that Hastur **** turned an apartment building into his parlor. The weird hits you hard... you may never get used to it, but you'll never get bored of it." 

Share this post


Link to post

At the mention of submitting a tape, Gretchen's cheeks went a little pink and she self-conciously brushed her hair out of her eyes. "Oh, I don't know if they'd...my stuff is really basic and stripped down. Mostly I just rip out stuff when I'm pissed off."

 

"You should send them something,"  offered Lynn as she continued passing food around. "At the very least, you could do some session work, get on some cool tracks, y'know? Muscle Shoals, baby!"

 

"Yeah, maybe..." The barista nodded as she poked her food around a bit with her fork like an awkward teen.

 

In response to Asti's question, the changeling shrugged. "Oh, it's the parallel Earth my late husband came from. Of course, they just call it 'Earth'; 'Otherworld' is just my nickname for it." Once she saq that everyone else's plate was full, she waved a hand over her own, and large portions of food appeared on it, minus the dishes her guests had brought, which she hadn't tasted yet and thus couldn't accurately simulate.

 

Now finally able to dig in like everyone else, a subtle tension left her shoulders as she continued. "Bascially it was a lot like our Earth up until the end of the 19th Century; then something weird happened." She took a swig of beer to wash down her glamoured food before continuing, gesturing with her hands to shape her thoughts. "It's like...culturally very little changed after that, but technology went into overdrive. So you have guys tipping their hat to you and calling you 'ma'am', and then checking the time on their holographic pocketwatch. Kinda like steampunk. Speaking of which..."

 

She held up a hand to block her view of the top of Joe's head. "I knew it! We've been to a parallel together! Remember, steampunk London in perpetual winter?" She grinned and jerked a thumb over her shoulder towards an intriguing portrait of her Grimalkin identity over the fireplace. "See? I still have the painting Blake did of me!"

Edited by Heritage

Share this post


Link to post

Asli listened to Gretchen and Lynn talking and wasn't surprised at what she heard. For every garage band of balding men trying to be rock stars while their hair was going grey, there were a hundred people who talked about how they wanted to break into the music scene and never recorded a song. Gretchen wanted to do something, but she wasn't willing to take the jump and put herself out in public for criticism. Asli wondered how often she'd have to accept a card for No ReGretz; probably at least every time she visited Sam at work.

 

Asli glanced at the portrait, shaking her head gently. "The farthest I ever traveled for work was the Valley of Kings," she said. "Is going to other worlds a common thing? Do I have to start paying rent a month ahead in case I get stuck on Barsoom for awhile?"

Share this post


Link to post

Sam had been shoveling food into her mouth with a slightly indecent amount of gusto for the last several minutes - ever since her year-long fast had ended, she had found her appetite was back and stronger than ever. Which was ironic, considering the fact that her body no longer required any sort of food or nourishment. Maybe now that food was technically a luxury item for her, she could fully enjoy it.

 

Her new appreciation for the little things in life did come with some downsides, however, such as a tendency to forget about everything that wasn't on her plate at the moment. She realized she had been silent for a just little bit longer than might have been deemed polite for a guest in the house. Swallowing hurriedly, she clumsily swiped a spot of gravy off her mouth with a napkin and spoke. "I'm not the one to ask if it's common, but it sure as hell happens. I mean, a while back I signed on as security for some company's test-drive of a new cruise ship. Just sit back, relax, maybe knock a couple of heads together if any villains show up to steal it, right? You'd think - next thing I knew, we were all stuck in some screwy dimension where the Roman gods conquered the Earth." She took a sip of cider. "And Gretch, you really should do something to put yourself out there a little more. Take it from someone who's never had any that talent's too important a thing to waste."

Share this post


Link to post

Joe laughed. "You don't tend to be gone for long," he said. "Maybe a few days at most. The fact that your job's a little more freelance gives you some freedom when it comes to how long you're staying away." Joe swiftly caught himself, realizing it wasn't as simple as that. "Well, I know there's the whole touring schedule and club gig thing, but it's a little bit more loose than having a 9-5 gig. And, you know, I don't suppose it could hurt to try to work something out with your landlord. Just in case one of these things goes a little bit longer than usual."

 

He slapped his forehead at the memory Lynn brought up. "Right! God, how could I forget? First time going to an alternate universe. There was that thing with Rasputin, and the Luddites, and I may have started a small revolution... it was one hell of a thing." 

Share this post


Link to post

"Well, at least you didn't unbalance the local economy by handing out pure silver like Edge did," Lynn chuckled, careful not to use the real names of heroes not present. Then she turned to Asli and shrugged. "I would set something in place, if I were you, just in case;  the magic gig is odder than most, and therefore less predictable. I went missing for three years this last time, so you better believe I now have things in place if I go again."

 

For her part, Gretchen had been silent for a while, hearing the advice others had offered as she traced lines in her mashed potatoes with her fork. Suddenly she placed it carefully next to her plate and stood up.

 

"I'll be right back." She looked to her employer. "Send me your WiFi password?"

 

Lynn nodded. "Sent."

 

"Thanks." Gretchen left the table and headed for the guest room, calling over her shoulder, "Continue dining!"

 

The hostess smiled in mild embarrassment as she gently tapped her plate with her fork. "She's...she'll be right back."

Edited by Heritage

Share this post


Link to post

Sam watched Gretchen go curiously, but decided not to comment. "Sounds like I got lucky with mine," she said, turning back to the table. "I was only gone for a few hours. It was a good thing that there were people on board who knew magic, though, otherwise I think I'd probably still be there." She paused, fork halfway to her mouth, as what she realized the truth of what she had just said. S--t, I really would still be there, wouldn't I? She had never fully considered the fact that if it wasn't for the other heroes, she would still be trapped in that dimension, away from her family, with no means of ever getting home. Feeling all of a sudden vaguely queasy, she set down her fork.

 

Speaking quickly to try to cover her unease, she looked at Lynn. "So Lynn, did you ever tell me how you wound up getting stuck in Otherworld in the first place?"

Share this post


Link to post

Lynn kept looking in the direction Gretchen went, but she turned back to Sam once she was asked a question.

 

"Uh, no, I don't think I did. So right before Bill and I were about to go on our honeymoon to Yosemite, a weird portal opened in the parking lot behind our motel; it was this...crackpot inventor from back on his world named Otis T. Rosewater." She chuckled and shook her head. "Crazier than a bag of cats, but brilliant, just brilliant. Somehow he'd managed to track Colt to our world, and threw together a 'dimensional rift projector' out of spare parts to come find him. There was trouble back home, and he needed Colt's help."

 

And here she stopped and fiddled with her napkin.  "Now the thing of it is, travel between our world and Colt's isn't easy, because time doesn't move at the same rate there." She held her hands out, palms touching, and began to slide one past the other. "Time there moves almost thirty times faster than it does here, relative to our world. Pretty much everyone Bill knew back home had been dead for decades, so...for a number of reasons, he wasn't too eager to go back. But Otis was insistent, and as he laid out the circumstances, the situation did indeed sound, well, awful, and he swore he could get him back to our world less than a day after he left."

 

The changeling clasped her hands and sighed; she was starting to tear up. "My husband of three days looked at me and said, 'Darlin', I have to go.' And I said, 'Not without me, you're not!' And so we went...and we dealt with the situation, like good guys do...but in the course of our little offworld adventure, poor Otis died; such a...brave, crazy little man."

 

She was really struggling now.

 

"So it turns out...Otis was not, in fact, an inventor; he was actually a reality warper who unconsciously used his so-called 'inventions' as a crutch. None of them worked once he was gone. So, we were stuck."

 

Lynn looked at Sam with those same ancient eyes she'd seen the first day they met, though now they were filled with tears. "I was gone for three years." And then she went back to eating. "You do the math."

Edited by Heritage

Share this post


Link to post

Sam wasn't sure what to say, so she said, "Oh." Then, "Sorry." Three years. Time going thirty times faster. Her stomach was heavy. Even she could do that math. She had heard this alluded to before, of course, but she had never had the full details. And she had never seen her employer talk about it so directly. Not with that look in her eye.

 

She bitterly regretted broaching the subject - of course it was a painful topic for Lynn, how could it not be? Tact was not her strong suit, and never had been, but even by her own standards this made her want to kick herself. She brings you into her home for Thanksgiving dinner, and you casually ask her about the worst thing that ever happened to her? Like that's just another interesting topic for dinner conversation? She looked away, wishing she knew when to shut her mouth. "Sorry," she said again.

Share this post


Link to post

Joe picked at his meal, looking down the table to Lynn with regret in his eyes. What was he supposed to say in a situation like this? "You had a long and happy life with him"? Yeah, "happy," just the thing to say when she's mourning. He knew he hadn't seen much of Grimalkin between the affair in the Victorian Earth and her return from Otherworld, but he hadn't known that she was immortal - nor that it was the kind of thing that would be extremely relevant when traveling to a world where time flowed differently. "You're back with us now"? "You can carry on in his name"? Jesus, Joe, think of something to say to her that isn't going to make **** worse.

 

But ultimately, he couldn't. He just looked to Lynn with sympathy and hoped it was enough. Even though he knew it never could be. 

Share this post


Link to post

Noticing the funereal mood she'd inadvertently thrown over the proceedings, their hostess looked somewhat alarmed and reached out a hand towards Sam. "Hey, no, don't be sorry; Bill's been gone for ten years for me. We had an amazing life together, raised a family, helped win a war on Mars...I don't regret any of it! Admittedly, coming back's been a bit of an adjustment, but-"

 

"Did you say something incredibly depressing while I was gone?" Gretchen had returned, and stood with one hand on her hip as she narrowed her eyes at her boss.

 

Lynn began to poke at her food. "Um...maybe?"

 

The younger woman shook her head as she returned to her seat. "Let me guess: 'Oh, I'm so old! No one understands! The most important thing is family!'"

 

The changeling laughed despite looking rather offended. "Hey, I do not sound like that!"

 

"Yeah, you kinda do." She reached over to place a flash drive in front of Miras; it was wrapped in gray duct tape and marked 'Da Jamz' in crisp, angular Sharpie. "There's fifteen tracks, some complete, others in process. MP3s, so not the best quality, but still." She shrugged. "Have a listen, pass it on, whatever." Apparently the decision to share a bit of herself improved her appetite, because she began to eat with gusto, although she still didn't make much eye contact with anyone.

 

This also seemed to lighten Lynn's mood, and she grinned with excitement. "Oh, did you include The Burning Wood? That one's so cool!"

 

"Yes, that is on there; all five movements." Just a hint of a proud smirk touched her lips. Then she flicked her eyes at her fellow musician. "What are you working on?"

Edited by Heritage

Share this post


Link to post

Immensely relieved that the tone of the room had lightened once more, however slightly, Sam briefly let her attention wander around the room, admiring the on-the-spot redecorating Lynn and Gretchen had done. Rushed and improvised, perhaps, and not as swanky as their previous setup, but these were the kinds of surroundings her herself felt far more comfortable in anyway. Besides, it was a lot fancier than any home her had ever furnished. It had a table and everything.

 

She sat back in her chair, because she thought she should probably take occasional breathing breaks in between bites, just for the look of the thing. After a moment, she focused her attention on Joe. "So Joe, what is it you do exactly? As in, what are your," what's the polite term, "...extranormal talents?"

Share this post


Link to post

Asli stayed quiet as Lynn explained her history to the group. Her movements became slower as the tragedy began to grow on her, until she was sitting still and silent. "You've been through an amazing journey," she said quietly. "The fact that you can still face life with joy is amazing. I hope I can keep the same sense of adventure through my life."

 

She accepted the USB stick from Gretchen, looking it over before sticking it in a pocket. She hadn't expected to actually get anything from the woman so this was a pleasant surprise. "I put out an album just before the holidays, actually. Ways and Means has a lot of country-style stuff on it, lots of acoustic guitars and lazy rhythms. It was a different direction for me."

Share this post


Link to post

Joe tried to figure out the way to explain it that didn't sound utterly simplistic. "Well, I beat the crap out of things and take hits," he said. Well, so much for that. "I can also catch up with most moving cars and can clear half the city in a single leap. When my powers first manifested, I got checked out by a few doctors with enough degrees to paper a house. They say I've got a... retractable physiology. My bones are harder than normal, my muscles have more fibers than normal made out of some really interesting proteins... weird bit's the skin. They say full invulnerability would either have to be psychic in nature or the kind of thing that gives you rubber for skin. As it's neither in my case, it's more like a series of ultrastrong fibers that naturally flex out under the dermis. I've suppressed it on a few occasions... which means I can take a cannonball and still get ink. So, that's neat." 

Share this post


Link to post

Gretchen actually lowered her guarded facade a bit once Asli began to describe her most recent album; her eyes lit up and an eager, intermittent smile flickered across her face.

 

"That sounds really cool; I love country, mostly the old stuff like Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline and Hank Williams. I'll download it tonight."

 

She cleared her throat and shifted around in her seat.

 

"The stuff I gave you draws a lot on punk and rockabilly, but there's other stuff, too; I hate to be catagorized. 'Falling Out of Heaven' is fairly funky, and 'The Faces That She Saw' is basically a murder ballad."

 

She gave Lynn a quick smile.

 

"The Burning Wood is overwrought and pretentious as hell, but my boss likes it; it's a sort of instrumental  chamber piece, like a suite, about a war between a forest and a robot army."

 

She grimaced as she poured herself some wine.

 

"I was shooting for Zappa and ended up with Emerson, Lake and Palmer; God help me."

 

For her part, Lynn grinned and said nothing as she ate, happy to just listen and not be telling depressing stories. But mostly, she was delighted to see Gretchen and Sam connecting with people; despite her best efforts, she still fretted over her employees like a mother hen from time to time, like the Jewish grandmother she still was. She shook her head at her own silliness.

 

Jeez, Granny, give it a rest!

Edited by Heritage

Share this post


Link to post

Sam nodded, doing her best not to appear impressed by Joe's in-depth description of his powers. "So it's...medical? In nature?" That at least she could wrap her head around. Despite sharing an apartment with a mage and working for a faerie, she had never been able to quite shift into the mindset necessary to understand magic. It all seemed so...arbitrary to her. She'd never been much good at science - to say the least - but at least science seemed to have some rules. In theory, at least. In practice...she glanced down at her hand, and right on cue a mote of glowing light danced off the end of her finger. That didn't seem very scientific.

 

"Sounds like a pretty sweet deal," she said, buttering herself a roll. "I should probably get myself checked out by a pro sometime - make sure my powers aren't eating holes in my brain or something." She tried to remember the last time she had been to a doctor, and gave up almost immediately. Healthcare hadn't been high up her list of priorities growing up - nor her mother's - and now that she no longer got sick, there didn't seem to be much point.

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...