Care of Cell 44


ace_icon.gif eve_icon.gif pride_icon.gif

Scene Title Care of Cell 44
Synopsis And we'll get to know each other for a second time.
Date September 10, 2020

The first letter had arrived chock full of glitter. Odessa was finding it all over her cell for the next month. And on her jumpsuit. In her hair…

It’d given her enough information to pen and send a letter of her own back. Though she had to be careful.

Good morning to you, I hope you’re feeling better, baby
Thinking of me while you are far away
Counting the days until they set you free again
Writing this letter, hoping you’re okay

March 19, 2020
Dearest Selene,
It was really sweet of you to write me and let me know you’re doing well. I’ve been curious about you. I’m sorry we’re unable to see each other in person, but I understand your desire to keep your distance. I wouldn’t want to see me like this either.

I’ve had a lot of time to think since all of this started, and I’ve realized I need to make a lot of changes. I’m going to be relying on my friends and my family to help me do that. I hope you’ll be among them.

There’s a piano here. It’s not very well tuned, and the C# is sour af, but I guess it’s something.

Someone dumped mashed potatoes on my head last week. I had just gotten out of the shower, too, so I had to wait forever before I was able to get it all out. At least at [REDACTED] they had the courtesy to just punch me. Still, I’m turning the other cheek and I’m behaving myself. I really want to be able to get out. To see my family again. I’m being good.

I know things are tough right now, but I need you to think about the people who care about you, too. For their sake, please reach out to someone. I know you don’t want to. I know you don’t trust a lot of people, but… This didn’t turn out so bad for me, potatohair notwithstanding.

Just give it some thought.

I look forward to your next letter. The glitter was a nice touch.

Love always,

Saved you the room you used to stay in every Sunday
The one that is warmed by sunshine every day
And we’ll get to know each other for a second time
Then you can tell me ‘bout your prison stay

Using a faux P.O. Box and paying a different street kid to check it and deliver mail from it each week wasn't the hard part, that was being discreet and not talking about things that would point towards her identity.

As much as Eve wanted to divulge it all right there on that piece of paper using that black ink pen.

March 21, 2020
Dear O
Potatos! How rude!

It hurts me so much not to be near you, staying away is more for me. It's best if I don't show my face anywhere. I wanted you to know I was safe because… R and V would have it no other way.

How dreadful to be at a loss of one note. They should really get a tuner in there, what is President Praeger doing really I ask?

At least you have the gift of music, I'll expect a new song written by the time we see each other face to face.
So much has changed, so much I need to say, so much that's happened. We could talk for eons and not catch up the most of it. If only you could stop time just for us, just for a little while.

I learned who my father was by the way, he's nobody. Nothing. George Porter. He's nowhere and nothing. No connection to my family. Drunk. An abusive drunk. Maybe that's where the darkness inside of me lies. I've fought my whole life to do good even in my own way but the pull of anger and confusion and helplessness takes over.

I'll be okay though, my mother raised a fighter. Have to make her proud.

I promise to tell them all.
I love you more than the moon does the stars. I'm proud of you.

Feels so good, you’re comin’ home soon

It’s gonna be good to have you back again with me
Watching the laughter play around your eyes
Come up and fetch you, saved up for the train fare money
Kiss and make up and it will be so nice

April 5, 2020

I think I made a friend today. I mean, as much as I’m capable of making friends. As much as anyone actually wants to befriend me. I hope you have friends that come around, too. Since I can’t be there for you.

I’ve been having headaches since I got here. They’re getting worse, but there’s not a lot to be done for them. I spend as much time as I can resting in the dark. A lot of time in the infirmary. A lot of time by myself.

Your father is who raised you, Selene. Nothing can change that. He loved you in his way, and you loved him in your own. I know better than anyone that family is who you choose, not who provided your DNA. Trust me on this one. I’m a geneticist.

The moon loves the stars very much indeed. I feel the same about you. Be well, my sweet Selene.

- O

Feels so good, you’re comin’ home soon

Walking the way we used to walk
And it could be so nice
Talking the way we used to talk
And it could be so nice

April 8, 2020
A new friend! That's exciting news, someone to protect your back from the shivs! I guess you know how to deal with all of that by now though but heh. Maybe your mind is expanding and soon you will have a large brain with veins popping! I'm liking the look in my head! Mistress Doom. Brainiac with style.

I've seen old friends, most reactions are mixed. It's the best you can ask for because of what happened. Is it you if it wasn't you? Maybe, probably not. The face matters, there's a reason it's so important. I'm happy to be reconnected but I'm happier with my little piggies in the dirt out in the Big Green. It's quiet and for once I'm not afraid of the things I hear when it's like that. A friend of mine said she was done with saving the world. That maybe it was time for someone else.
Sometimes I think about it, just living here. I have some chickens! A little pen, fencing. Got some strapping young lads to help an old woman out. An alert system if someone's in my hood. It's so nice. I can't seem to stop myself though, I can't seem to just sit back. I know this is temporary.
But I will enjoy it.

I found this recently, strange but. I thought you would like it. I couldn't believe my eyes but destiny sometimes works in ways that are quite beautiful.
Find some pain pills.

The enclosed piece of paper is of an obituary of one Rianna Price (Mas). Blonde hair and small smile aimed up at Odessa.

It’s gonna be good to have you back again with me
Watching the laughter play around your eyes
Come up and fetch you, saved up for the train fare money
Kiss and make up and it will be so nice

June 8, 2020

Thank you for the birthday gift. I’ve never seen this photograph before. It’s nice to have something of her with me now. I miss her such a great deal. I wish you could have known her. She was remarkable.

Richard has my phone. Or he did at one point. I know I took a couple of selfies with her. Do you think you could see if he’d get them printed for me? Password to unlock it is 642425. And if it doesn’t get done, or he doesn’t have it, it’s fine. But I figured it’s worth a try.

I want to meet your chickens. See your new digs. Wish I could get some of your herbal remedies. And we’re overdue to chase some fairies together, I think.

My lawyer thinks I might be able to get out of here if I keep behaving myself. And I have been. I really have been. It’s tough, though. It’s why it’s taken me so long to write back. I’ve been working hard on my case, but it’s a little discouraging. I’ll keep going be fine. I keep reminding myself that it’s going to pay off.

I am going to give you the biggest hug when I get out of here. I hope you look forward to it.

- O

Feels so good, you’re comin’ home soon

Staten Island
September 10, 2020
9:33 pm

“I put a spell on you.” The piano hits four staccato chords, the pianist’s hands practically bouncing off the keys on the last short note. The quiet that follows is left to permeate the air just long enough to encourage gooseflesh on the backs of the necks of those whose attention is rapt by the ensemble on stage. The chanteuse at the piano leans forward to sing out her last notes sans accompaniment.

“Because…” Vibrato carries through the air and echoes off the acoustic chambers of the ceiling and walls. The note is sustained, then jumps an octave and lingers a moment longer.

“…you’re mine.” The last lyrical notes delve into the singer’s lower registers and the band plays a final chord, pianist’s fingers spreading across the keyboard as her head bows. Cymbal builds to a crescendo, then is left to decay.

The crowd erupts with applause and the shoulders of the blonde seated at the piano quake, betraying a huff of giddy laughter that she carefully schools away from her features before she lifts her head again, turning to face the adoring patrons. Lips nearly brush the mic as she murmurs a heartfelt, “thank you,” nodding graciously in lieu of standing to bow, unlike the other musicians.

But unlike the other musicians, she has a polished cherrywood walking stick with a palm-sized crystal ball set in its pommel. She smiles demurely and scans the crowd while she waits for the ovation to ebb away. Only then does she climb to her feet and step out from behind the polished grand piano. The bass player offers her his arm, which she graciously accepts to allow herself to be escorted down the steps of the stage.

Her slender form is a vision draped in silver sequins from throat to toes, only her arms left bare, save for crystal-studded statement bracelets around each wrist. Sweeping up to the bar, the singer’s face lights up when a lemon drop martini is set in front of her without her having to ask for it. “Merci beaucoup!” Taking a seat at the end of the low bar, she sips at her delightfully yellow cocktail while waiting to see who, if anyone, decides to approach her after her final set of the evening.

"Simply bewitching, Miss Pride."

Ace Callahan doesn't appear out of thin air, but it's unassumingly that he cuts his path to her, emerging from the crowd without particular panache. The face he wears tonight is made more apparent when he produces a single rose for her benefit, velvet petals so deep a purplish red they near black. It matches the tie he wears, and the corner of a handkerchief visible from the breast pocket of his jacket. "I should come listen to you more often."

Without touching her directly, Ace nonetheless envelopes her by placing a hand on the back of her seat, curling about her form to place the rose on the bartop next to her drink. He offers Ourania, the songstress, a sincere smile that reflects in his eyes while his presence looms like an embrace. "Do you take requests?" he wonders with a lift of his brow.

Ourania gasps softly, straightening up at the familiar voice at the edges of her periphery. She turns her head to find the source and smiles brightly, clearly bolstered by his praise above and beyond the flush the crowd had already given. It brings a rosy hue to her cheeks that, in the low but warm lighting of the bar space makes her seem to glow. “Thank you ever so much.”

The rose is reached for with only the barest moments of hesitation. Not because she isn’t sure she’s meant to pluck it up and admire it, but because she’s making certain she won’t catch an errant thorn. (Not, of course, that roses given as gifts tend to have thorns. Quite the opposite, in fact.) Would he chide her for foolishness if she were to prick herself? Or would he soothe the ache sweetly, she wonders.

Ultimately, she’d rather not retain any discomfort in her fingers. Her gaze slides briefly off to one side as if to look over her shoulder and toward the piano at this stray thought. But her attention returns to her admirer quickly. “For you? Always.”

Rather than reply, Ace's smile deepens and he leans forward to graze a kiss against her temple. "You're very accomodating," he tells her in that same doting tone of voice, afterward leaning away to give her her own space again. His eyes lift and roam the bar placidly, seeking out familiar faces and eyes that wander to meet his.

"I think it'd be nice to—"

He doesn't so much as trail off as simply lose track of that idle, pleasant thought, though his expression is unchanging as he looks at something behind Ourania while he stands at the corner of the bar. It doesn't last. A perplexed look enters his eyes first, one eyebrow digging lower than the other.

Then, recognition flashes across his green-greys. It's unfriendly.

"Ah," Ace breathes out, less Harry and more himself with that observation, that look. Then he smiles anyway, despite himself. In a lower tone of voice, one meant for himself only, he remarks, "Look who it is."

It isn’t hard to tell that her heart soars to have those lips grace her skin, though her smile is a demure one. There’s polite interest on her face as he starts to lay out what she suspects will be his request, but confusion settles in when he stops short. “Harry?” she asks, tone uncertain. Like she’s either reminding him of the face he’s meant to be wearing or wondering at its need to be discarded.

Casually, Ourania angles a look over her shoulder in the direction of Ace’s gaze and apparent ire.

The space was elegant and the crowd followed suit. This place that wasn't brass or hopping as the kids say, were in for a spectacle indeed. It must be a Mas thing.

A couple enters the place and the doors are held open as they look around and allow their vision to adjust, the woman is a vision in red and the blonde man in a very nice tuxedo. Her lips are painted cherry rouge and makeup on her face is done lightly. The true vision is the cloud of red looming behind her. The guards sort of gawk and hands subtly move to concealed weapons, but the cloud doesn't descend on the couple that moves on into the lounge, unaware of what's happening behind them. The blood red cloud trickles down to the ground and inside of the mass can be seen the shadow of a woman.

First a long, bare pale leg sticks out of the cloud, landing on the floor with a click. A devastating high heel wrapped around its foot, black. A soft sigh echoes out from the fog as a woman draped in a shimmery midnight black evening gown becomes whole, the last wisps of the red clouds seeping underneath her dress that's cut on the side to show that leg. The face is undeniably recognizable given news and her antics. Eve Mas grins widely at the guards who are still unsure given her reputation. Eyeshadow that is a deeper shade of red than her eyes and all black lip with a gold line drawn down the middle of the two. "Don't get all hot and bothered boys, I'm here for a reunion."

The woman walks into the place and scans as the people closest to the door murmur and look in her direction. "This is an Expressive friendly business, right sweet pea?" Looking over her shoulder at the guard with a wink before making her way towards the bar with slow purposeful steps, she doesn't mind being seen. This close to it all, what's the use in hiding now? This Eve was more self assured than Odessa last saw her but with no less energy than when Ace did. Eve passes a woman enjoying a shrimp cocktail and she slightly leans over, "Now that looks delicious, watch those shells honey!"

There's not much more fanfare from the seer before she makes it to the bar and places both hands on the edge, not too far from her cousin and her lover. "Why hello handsome." Eyeing the bartender up and down, the man in turn grins and his eyes flash from a blue to a glowing green for a moment. He almost looks ashamed, but Eve shakes her head, "Oh no nooo, darling, those eyes are beautiful. Green as the Garden of Eden were we ever so honored to see it. Be proud." The grin is wider now on the bartender's lips and Eve turns around a minute later with a freshly made, strong mezcal cocktail.

"One family," Eve says to the man with a wink as she takes a sip from her drink and throws her head back, her done raven mane rustling down her back in wet looking curls, slicked back. "Mmm, smokey."

Oh.” Now, the blonde reaches over blindly to wrap her fingers around Ace’s forearm, just above where his hand rests on her seatback. She’d heard stories, of course, but neither she nor Eve had been brave or foolish enough to write details in their letters.

"God, just as dramatic as ever." Ace murmurs to himself when Eve snaps into form. There's appreciation in his tone, make no mistake. Her increased maturity in her demonstrations are not only noticed, they may even be admired.

“That’s Eve Mas,” the woman in silver murmurs out of the corner of her mouth, as if he might have been the one essentially living under a rock, and not her.

"Oh, I know very well who that one is," he replies to Ourania, looking back down to her with a glint in his smile. "We have a spat of history."

“You do?” Blue eyes lift to Ace’s face, then the singer looks back to Eve. Voice low, foreboding settles into her skin, seeps into her bones and she murmurs to herself. “Oh no.”

When Eve approaches and sets about making the bartender blush, that's what draws his eyes back up to her, one eyebrow arching. He comes to his full height, standing along the end of the bar. "Mas," he calls out to her almost sweetly. "I do hope you didn't come in here with the intention of getting my new favorite bar shut down already."

If there's one thing he learned to treat as a constant regarding the Murderimp, it's that some form of chaos always followed in her wake.

She continues to drink her cocktail, as she eyes the man from the side. Eve's mind is searching and then it bingos, and she turns her head slowly towards the couple. In her head, Kill Bill sirens. Outwardly, she curls her lip in a dark grin. "My, my, they let rabble like you in this place." Eve laughs lightly and lets her nails click on the surface of the bar. "I don't think we have much to worry about tonight, you duck lipped motherfuck—"

The older woman stops herself and takes a sip of her drink. "I've taken an oath, vow. What have you." Another moment, "No matter the circumstances of the past, we Expressives must stay united. No more petty fights! We are One Family. It's the only way." Eve reprimanding herself is a sight to see and she smiles easily, edge smoothed over on her part. "It's the only way."


"Your lips are like fluffy pillows. I'm sure they are enjoyed by…"

It's then that blood red eyes track over to the blonde woman's face and figure. "And who the fuck," Eve slides a bit closer inspecting Ourania's face and then her gaze falls to her hands. "Is this?" The glass is half empty and sat on the bar as Eve takes the other woman's hand and lifts it to the light squinting. "Oh, I know an artist's hands anywhere. Not sculpture, no… Not rough enough." The tall woman's eyes fall full of curiosity back to the woman's face and she grins widely, "Tell me dear," leaning in a fraction with a tilt of her head.

"Are you one of us?"

Blue eyes fix on Eve while she speaks. And when she's addressed, Ourania glances away quickly, like she can stop the onslaught of attention by ignoring it.

She can't, of course, and her hand is captured easily. She doesn't make any move to flinch away, instead looking back up at the veritable celebrity. Color rushes into the young woman’s face, made easily evident with how pale her skin is. “I’m a pianist,” she clarifies as Eve turns her hand this way and that, exposing her palm and the back of her hand alternately to the light.

“I just finished my second-to-last set of the evening.” Ourania’s head tilts back toward the stage. It’s not an answer to Eve’s question. Evasive. Her hand around Ace’s arm tightens a little, silently pleading for him not to start a fight.

As Harry? No, of course not.

And even as Ace, he'd need cause for it. Eve flinging insults was just Eve, as far as he was concerned. He's always had the patience to wait for her to throw the first punch.

Someone he would class as unstable laying a hand on Ourania, though…

Ace's eyes glint when Eve turns to the woman at his side, his posture shifting ever so slightly. All Eve's restraint and talk of unity is the only thing that keeps him from perceiving her as an overt threat rather than a potential one.

"My dear Eve, my former sister in arms," Ace tells her just as sweetly as before. "Do you think I'd make time for anyone who isn't exceptional?"

Ourania might have her own better answer for Eve later, but he's happy to provide one for her now.

The first answer is delightful enough. "Music, such a blessing. I sing a little too, I'll have you know!" A bright grin on her face, but it is the second answer that gives Eve more relief and she signals to the bartender over her shoulder. "One Family," gesturing to the two. "We'll have another round, my sweet." Her face turns back to them and her grin is damn near splitting her face in two.

"Don't be shy, dearie, you are my Sister of the Eclipse. There is nothing we should ever fear from each other, silly! Well then, you'll have to play for me later." Not a request and not a demand. As it's said softly, there is burning curiosity to know just what this Ouriana's gift was. "And where did you two meet?"

A look through long lashes as she finishes her first drink and holds her hand out for the other that the bartender hands over before placing the other two drinks down the bar. "Thank youuu so much my dear, One Family. Come to Cat's Cradle sometime, lots of us hang there. Safety in numbers." From the attacks on the Expressives from the Pure Earth types of the world and it might be a lie that Eve currently lived and hung out and even ran her business, but it was still safe, still a home.

There was that phrase again, One Family.

The more Eve carries on, the more the blonde’s grip tightens around her partner’s arm. Not hard enough to cause discomfort to him, but enough to convey her own. But she’s a professional, and not a bit of it shows on her face or otherwise in her posture. When her hand is released, she makes sure she busies it with lifting her drink to her lips. Her sips are small as Eve speaks, but they’re frequent.

She is not nearly drunk enough for this.

Whatever this is.

A glance is cast to Ace when Eve asks her question about their association. Ourania polishes off her first lemon drop and sets aside the empty glass before plucking up the second. “Well,” now she’s mirroring some of Eve’s inflection and mannerisms back to her, perhaps unconsciously, “I was playing one night, and Harry here…” Her grip finally eases so she can lift her hand and pat his forearm where she’d been holding to him, “came up to me after a set and told me he was an admirer. He bought me a drink, we got to chatting… And the rest is history, as they say.”

Ourania smiles fondly up at Harry, before turning her attention back to Eve. “Say, I’ve got a swell idea,” she begins. “Since we’re so fortunate as to have such an esteemed guest as Miss Mas here, why don’t we take our little party up to one of the VIP boxes?” She tilts her head so she can inspect the one she has in mind and sees that it appears to be empty. “There’s a piano up there. I can give a private performance.”

Emphasis on private.

Ace needs the drink that's been passed to him without him needing to order. Not enough to get drunk, but enough to take the edge off and continue to play nice with whatever the fuck Ourania is up to.

She'd asked him once for something she said no one else was willing to give her. Trust.

His memory of that reflects in the look he gives her before drinking generously from the foam of his whiskey sour. By the time the glass is lowered and he looks back to Eve, he's smiling again. "Yes, that does sound like an idea, doesn't it." It's not like anyone didn't see Eve come in, but maybe if someone ran outside to get service and call the Army, they won't see where she's slipped to.

"So what brings you all the way to Staten, anyway, Miss Mas?" he asks as he turns away from the bar toward the box.

For a moment Eve has a wild daydream about her wild times during the young adult years. Being invited to a private room of a place at that time usually meant love was about to be really free in that space. Midnight strands of hair fly into the air as she shakes her head and takes another gulp of her drink. "What a delightful meet cute! Perhaps it was written in the stars, young love. So fresh." Picking up her drink and winking in farewell to the bartender who awkwardly looks from left to right before dipping his head in her direction. "Herald," he whispers.

Ace's facade of good humor slips slightly at the comment from the bartender, smile tightening.

“Let it be,” Ourania murmurs under her breath, her fingers brushing over the back of Ace’s hand briefly.

And ultimately he does, without even looking at her. Drink in hand, he leads the way.

The older woman almost stops but doesn't, there's a deep grin that yanks the corners of her lips upwards. Eve only nods as she follows after the couple.

"Why, I'm checking the scene! Scoping how we're treated. It's important to know, knowledge. What we need, what we shall have." And what they will do with the knowledge is anyone's guess, but Eve adds after a sip of her drink and a light wave at a couple at a table who just cannot seem to stop staring. "Talking points, press press press press. We also need the eyes and the ears. But people like what they can see, hate the Unseen." This Eve has learned in her 40 years of life on this earth living as a seer, tapping into mostly the Unseen and Unknown.


The last errand on Eve's list, she doesn't say that aloud but hums along happy to get to the booth and receive this performance.

Before sliding from her seat to make her way to the box, Ourania drains the last of her first martini in a smooth motion. Then, she picks up the second one, and the rose she was gifted is settled between the curl of her ring and little fingers. Her cane is taken up in her right hand, used to help steady herself as she heads for the stairwell up.

A bouncer pulls aside the rope draped between stanchions without any verbal request needing to be made. Ourania offers a warm smile in exchange for the courtesy before turning to her companions. “After you both,” she offers, knowing she’s going to hold up the line otherwise.

The VIP box is more of the same ambiance as below, sofas, armchairs and coffee tables all warm golds and bronze, dark surfaces sleek and polished. Including the grand piano.

Oh, the piano.

A transparent beauty that looks more like an ostentatious sculpture made of glass and ebony and gold than an instrument. It’s lit from within and below with LEDs in a way that makes it glow a warm amber hue. The black lid shines in the low light; not a solid thing, but one that weaves a pattern of negative space not unlike the wings of a honeybee held up under close scrutiny. The sumptuous curve of it is edged with clear acrylic, creating a bar surface around the edges wide enough to accommodate cocktails and contracts alike. Black stools that match the aesthetic of the piano’s lid are spaced out along the circuit, eight in total.

Ace comes around the back of the piano to set his drink aside before he turns to look at the other two, indicating to the bouncer with a lift of his head and a cut of his chin they should be given privacy. His hand rests along the edge of the bartop, his intent sharp as he waits for them to be settled.

Ourania sets her drink and the deep purple rose on the acrylic surface next to the music stand and runs her fingers reverently along the curve of the key board’s side with a reverence and silent delight. “Hello, beautiful,” she greets in a barely audible purr as she sits on the plush bench. She wastes no time in balancing her cane against the edge of the seat so she can set her fingers to the keys. Rather than black, the sharps and the flats are a shining gold.

The first chords are quiet, idle, but present. Improvised jazz. Ourania’s blue eyes find the green-grey of Ace’s. The corner of her mouth ticks up just the faintest bit, in the way that he’s only able to note in how those eyes of hers narrow just a touch. Not with annoyance or warning, but with mirth. His lover is up to something.

Quick as the expression was there, it’s gone again, replaced by something light and airy as she offers a polite smile to Eve. “Do you have any requests, Miss Mas? Seeing as how you’re our guest…” She should offer.

Ourania's swiftness with diplomacy dampens the sharpness Ace might have otherwise had, but it doesn't kill it entirely. He fixes Eve with a glare void of the false fondness he'd presented in the more public space.

Coolly, he informs her, "The d'Sarthe Group and its associated holdings are all equal opportunity employers, Mas. And what these fine people here are not—" His lip curls back with displeasure. "are your eyes and ears."

"Whatever political game you're playing these days, you keep it to yourself, keep it out of this establishment." With a sweep of his hand, he gestures to the club beyond the box. "Our kind are one percent of the population, and at least thirty-three percent of the rest would gladly take to defiling a place like this should it set to flaunting its Evolved the way people like you would have it do." He lets out a scoff of laughter as his arm falls. "You want to find more of our kind to take back to your hole-in-the-wall for a drug-induced kumbaya of a time? Don't walk in here to do it."

"Am I clear, darling?" Ace demands to know.

A loud whistle sounds from Eve's lips at the sight of the piano. "What a beauty." Her fingers twitch, she is eager to touch a key. Instead she sets her glass on the table after another sip, the feeling of the alcohol and the cannabis intermingling nicely in her system. She's on a buzz and loving life.

"Tiny Dancer if you please." Eve is going to go into how much she is a fan of Elton's playing, but Ace has other plans and the mask, it seems, has dropped collectively in this room, or just about. Eve's facial expression bulges and then flattens, her cheeks puff out and she sucks the breath back in rapidly. The mad woman erupts into a hysterical laughter, holding her stomach and bending over. This laughter persists for longer than it should and as Eve laughs, her eyes blaze brighter and her arms start to shimmer it seems, warped with blood red fog matching her eyes, lifting from her form.

"My eyes and ears are everywhere, sweetcheeks, and Goddess forgive me, but I don't know your young man… Do you have your way with him? So protective of the precious." Eve's tone is mocking and dripping with venom. "What they call me is their choice, many choices, tiny and big, big and tiny. Which are you, dear?" Another sharp bark of laughter and Eve throws herself onto the couch, her body shimmers and restablizes. "I want to watch, you incessant chihuahua. Sit. Down." Crimson eyes glitter and it's almost like the two are in the room just themselves in that moment.

As Eve takes up her repose, Ourania closes her eyes, almost as if she’s trying to block out the conflict surrounding her. In truth, she’s tapping into it.

Insipid, Eve. The word you’re looking for is insipid.

"Honestly," shattering that moment shared between them, "you meet a man and point guns at each other in the back of a moving truck during a war and the rest of your interactions are colored just so." A roll of her eyes to Ouriana as if to convey, why have you not trained this one?

With a flattening of his brow, Ace lifts either hand from his side to offer up peaceably, "I should remind you I never shot you until you threw yourself at me."

"Now now, you were rude!" As if that explains her actions all those years ago.

Ace doesn't sit, but he does smile again. Ourania feels the impatience that claws underneath his skin in contrast with that outward display of humor.

Eve relaxes more and waves her hand. "That Gideon, so generous and kind. We must stan a kind man. I would never think to sour his very legal business dealings! No time to buzz that tree, hm?" Eve smiles. "You and… you." Pointing at Ouriana with a wink, "Are my family whether you like it or not. Whether the young man knew it before. We are One Family." And that is that.

"And as family, any of our game is the others'. We are complacent. We are hunted and we sit."

Ourania fixes Ace with a look that asks him to stay his hand just a little longer. It darts briefly down, directing him to sit, but without any real demand to it. “Please,” she intones gently, in spite of the impatience that’s beginning to creep into her as well. It isn’t hers, she reminds herself.

The irritation that’s been growing, though, that is hers. That it’s blossoming into a properly righteous fury, however… They say music soothes the savage beast, and so Ourania begins plunking down the first few notes of the requested song. It’s hesitant at first, as if she isn’t quite sure of herself. The placement of her hands or the register, perhaps, but she eventually lapses into it as though it were an old favorite.

It gives her a focus. Something to draw away from the horrifically familiar feeling that gnaws not at her gut, but at her heart. Her brain. It feels as though it runs through her veins like a wildfire burns through dry leaves. An insatiable desire. A need. A voracious appetite.

What happened to Eve?

The pianist doesn’t bother with the lyrics. It’s the melody on the piano that matters here, and it doesn’t miss a beat even as she finally lets out a harsh bark of laughter. “Family,” she repeats, voice a low purr of amusement. “Eve Kendra Mas, you don’t recognize family when it invites you for a drink.”

One corner of the blonde’s mouth ticks up, knife-sharp and lips parting as if to show fang. Then the other side joins suit, smirk becoming grin. “I’m not your sister, sweetheart. But close enough.” The meek little songbird is gone. It is the eponymous Nightingale that sits in her place. “I don’t think Aunt V would appreciate you sniping at family like this.” Bare shoulders come up in a shrug, lifting her head now to look in Eve’s direction with blue eyes that are wide and doelike and so very familiar to her now. Brows furrow and lips pull into an expression of faux-pouting. “Ace here is practically your in-law. You should show him a little respect, darling.”

There's two flaring souls needing salved right now, and Ourania's music works on both. Instead of snapping, Ace only lets out a faint laugh under his breath at the notion anyone else should matter a damn to him, and certainly not just because they exist and share genetics with him.

No, it took something more significant than that to move him.

It doesn't take as much to temper him to anger, though, and Eve chipping away seeking to find a raw nerve finds something like it. He leans into a righteous anger of his own. How dare Eve think she know better?

Ourania's laughter drifting up along with the smooth notes of the song pulls him back from speaking. The first of her words bring attention back to her in a snap as he reads, quickly, between the lines.


Ace lets his gaze linger long enough on her to see her break into that grin before he looks back to Eve. My cousin owns a bar, she had told him. His feet shift, bringing him a step away from the piano, a step away from the herald. His drink is brought with him, and he takes another long sip off the top.

He fucking needs it.

Odessa's pout and mention of additional familial ties is the one salve to his mood, bringing him to pop his brow high as he looks expectantly over at Eve. His expression turns to one of good humor again, like to echo the songstress is right and to emphasise he's done no wrong.

The other woman goes through a myriad of expressions and feelings, rearing back but then leaning forward, brow furrowing before pitching upwards and her mouth twists before it uncurls into a massive grin showing all her white teeth.

Say cheese, Ace.

"Shut. Up." Eve begins to roll in her seat, grasping the ends laughing, "Shut up!" To surprise her like this wasn't easy and it figures it would be family to pull the wool over her eyes. The former seer grabs her belly and looks from Ace's reaction to her cousin and she boots out more laughter. "Oh oh oh mercy me, goddess me. Cousin." That appraising eye comes forth as Eve leaps forward and begins to circle the blonde, noting the differences, but also the similarities. "Hmm… a complete makeover.. just like Sonny, rest his soul."

It's as if Eve is musing on a heavy thought as she chews the inside of her lip before blurting, "The Mas Prank and Mas Prank War is as infamous as are our actions pertaining to all things wild. I truly hope you're ready, because you've inducted yourself here, TONIGHT!" Throwing her arms around her family's new form with a tight squeeze. "Free as a little birdie, tweet tweet." Her cackle is reminiscent of an old witch and she throws the man in the VIP booth an amused look over her shoulder, blood eyes gleaming, "Cat got your tongue dearie?"

"…I suppose you could do worse cousin," a stab of renewed surprise at the two's relationship pierces the air. "We don't judge. Mustn't judge, hearts flutter where they want. Brains are left to manage the wreckage."

The blonde watches the other woman react — feels it — all the while continuing to play the song she requested. A slow grin spreads across her face as her cousin begins to laugh. Her brows lift briefly, her tongue catches on her canine, then she chuckles herself.



Odessa follows Eve’s circling, unperturbed. If it hadn’t been for the laughter, she might have been on edge. Wary that it might be a predatory study. But she keeps her posture steady, only tracking the movement with her eyes so that Eve can get a look at her from all angles.

Fingers only finally lift off the keys mid-play when Eve hugs her from behind. Odessa brings her hands up to clutch at Eve’s forearms, holding her tightly to her. It’s acceptance of her new self. Bright laughter bubbles up from the blonde as she leans back into that hug, delighted. “It’s not a prank!” she insists. “I was just wanting to surprise you!” And make sure there wasn’t anyone else nearby when her cousin would inevitably make a scene.

But she slaps the back of Eve’s wrist lightly to scold her. “You be nice to him,” Odessa warns, turning her attention to Ace. “There aren’t too many people out there that would be as good to me as he is. You ought to be grateful he’s looking out for me.” She certainly is. It’s written in the lines of her face when she smiles at him.

With effort, Ace's internal fire nears the dull roar he's presenting it to be, the glass of his whiskey sour rotated idly in his grasp while he takes a moment to just observe this.

His thoughts are largely kept to himself behind a mask of placidity, though Odessa knows him well enough to know that speaks for itself. His thumb picks at the smooth side of his glass before he lets out a quiet chuckle at Eve's jab back his way while she hangs off of Odessa's slender frame.

At least the latter looks happy. With herself, with the way this situation's played out.

Ace will have to content himself with that.

"I'm just admiring. It's not often surprises are pleasant shocks, after all," he says mildly of his behavior. With a slight downward curve of his head, he regards Eve with an arched eyebrow. "Though this does reinforce, to me, that you do see yourself out before Uncle Sam comes to pay Rossignol a visit." His eyes go to Odessa before returning to the red-eyed woman. "We've gone through pains to keep her uninteresting in the eyes of the law. Regular check-ins, a lack of prior associations…"

And so on.

"Come in without drawing every eye in the house to yourself next time, and you can stay as long as you like." Ace doesn't sound like he particularly trusts Eve to either enter or exist quietly, but it's Odessa his attention returns to. He imagines this a thing she would like, after all. "Properly catch up."

The corner of his mouth pulls back as he can't help but allow himself a bit of humor. "Is there some kind of law of nature, by the way, that demands one of you two always be on the run? I'm doing the mental math here, and… well."

There's a light roll of her eyes and tongue sticking out at 'be nice,' but what family asks is honored and plus the phaser didn't seem that terrible. If he was taking as good of care of her cousin as she claimed. "You look like Cousin Judy on dad's side weirdly." So still there is family there in this new face.

Odessa's beau brings up a good point, she didn't ever stay anywhere public for too long. "I suppose you're right, the Fuzz does love to rain on my parade." Eve tightens her grip around her cousin one more time before snatching her drink up and downing the rest in a single gulp, "Ah."

"Much to do still, many stops to make. Many faces to see, to learn." Eve stops and looks between the two before centering back on Odessa. "I am so happy you're free. Caged birds eventually find the light." Her eyes are full of mischief and there's a bloom of love for the other woman that saturates the air. The blood red mist associated with her ability begins to waft off of her body. "Avoid Xpressurself." It's not a request for them, it's a demand for her family to keep herself safe. Hidden. "It's bound to be a party. Lit as the children say. It wouldn't do to see you shackled again."

"One more thing." Her body begins to fade within the growing cloud of fog. "In the coming weeks much will be made about us, our place in this world. Stay with your family, we all need each other now. We are all One Family."

And you are mine. Though Odessa wields no telepathy the feeling of possessiveness and protection surges from Eve.

Odessa laughs quietly. “There does seem to be some sort of balance there, doesn’t it?” she responds to Ace’s supposition. “Can’t have too much of a good thing, I suppose.”

But then Eve is releasing her and preparing to take her leave all too quickly. Odessa scrambles up from her seat, and it shows her cousin that the cane isn’t for show. The blonde half-staggers a step, catching herself on the piano when the stiffness causes her to buckle for a moment. “Eve, wait.” She pushes herself upright fully and steps toward her family. “How will I contact you? How can I see you again?” Moving in now, Odessa means to give her another hug, this time properly, where she can wrap her arms around Eve for herself.

As the red tendrils wash over her, the weakness and fatigue that already afflicts her seems to deepen. Sink into her bones. Odessa gasps sharply, her grip slackening before she drops to the floor hard enough that the bartender below probably looked up over his head to make sure something wasn’t about to hit him. Braced with her hands on the floor, she lifts one and throw it out in Ace’s direction. She’s attempting to hold him in time out of instinct, but in practice it looks as though she just means to ward him off.

Breathing hard, Odessa whimpers and looks up at her cousin with wide eyes. Not fearful of her, but fearing for her. “Eve,” she whispers, “what have you done?

And all was well, Ace thinks to himself, until it suddenly wasn't.

Odessa's stumble is bad enough, bringing about a shift in him. She doesn't appear her best when she's like that, and it sees him quickly set aside his drink in anticipation she may need a steadying hand. An attempt is made to give her space regardless, which lets him regard the change Eve begins to undergo with a touch of fascination.

The moment it affects Odessa it turns into something else entirely. He lunges to try and break her fall, but his fingers catch only air.

The loudness of the fall causes a shift in heavy feet just outside, the bouncer guarding the doorway beyond the dropped privacy curtain uncertain if he should poke his head in. A slightly raised voice and the nature of the words bring him to draw the curtain back after all.

"That's enough." Ace declares sharply, protectively. He hooks an arm around Odessa's back, under her arms to begin hoisting her up, with the intention of getting her behind him. "Go. Leave. Before you do more damage than you've already done."

For a moment Eve looks shocked and then remorseful for the negative effects of her ability being placed on her family. "Cousin, I—" Eve rears back and looks over to Ace, in this moment there is no snappy comeback.

Her attention whips back to Odessa. "O, I'm sorry. I've changed. My nature is hungry." Odessa doesn't feel fear resonating from Eve in this moment, there's something like twisted pride. A gnarled tree branch she holds now. "It won't happen again."

A single tear rolls down her cheek and she turns, "We will find each other, we always do. Bless us, our line of formidable women." Eve's eyes close as her body drifts away and a single phrase is left in her wake as the fog slithers out of the room and eventually the lounge and out into the night sky hanging over Staten Island.

"I love you."

Odessa cries out when Ace lifts her up off the floor, and pulls her behind him protectively. “No!” One arm draped across his back, fingers curled against his shoulder for stability, she throws out her other hand toward her cousin. This time she knows there’s no stopping anything.

“Please, don’t. Eve, please.” But Odessa can already feel the emotional push and pull of Eve slipping away as the fog rolls out from the private lounge. “I love you, too.” There’s no need to ask for forgiveness. It’s already been given. It was never needed.

“She’s gone,” the empath confirms for her partner’s benefit. “I’m okay,” she insists, even though he knows she’s not as well as she should be.

Confronted with the cloud of energy that was Eve, the bouncer leans back from the doorway as she surges through it. He brings an arm that got too close back to himself with a bewildered look on his face, then looks back into the box after he realizes Eve's seeing herself out. "I need to call someone?" he asks briskly as he lets go of his wrist.

Ace isn't sure. Odessa insists she's fine, but it's easy to see it comes from a place of pride, or some other well meant to downplay what happened. "For fuck's sake," he breathes out to himself, then casts a hard look to the bouncer with a shake of his head. "Make sure she didn't hit anyone else on the way out."

God, he'd thought the mist when she came in was from someone else. But no, she's been slipping the authorities because she, too, could become insubstantial. It would be fascinating if it weren't currently infuriating.

"What did she do to you?" Ace demands to know, slowly letting the both of them sink back to the ground. He takes a knee beside her. "You're not all right, you fell with less grace than a baby fawn. She…"

Suddenly, reflecting on Eve's change, he recalls the warning she'd passed onto him when they first crossed paths and she looked into his future with eyes clouded by her ability: You should beware of the poppies, dearie.

Ace's scowl deepens, the bedrock of his emotional being slipping suddenly as though it were made of slick ice. "—was red," he recalls, unnerved. "Like poppies." The green-greys of his eyes sharpen as he looks to Odessa with more worry than before. "We're going home. They can play the last set without you."

He wasn't going to let her out of his sight again tonight.

There’s no protest when he helps her back down to rest on the floor, as much as she might want to insist she’s fine. That she can stay standing. Odessa only shifts so she can lean her head against Ace’s shoulder and catch her breath. “If I weren’t already so…” Weak. “It wouldn’t have been an issue. I’m just tired. It was just like I… had nothing left.”

Her eyes slip shut and she’s just still for a few moments. Her breathing gets deeper, calmer. “I’m not hurt,” she corrects, since he’s correct about the fact that she certainly is not fine. She nods her head to the notion of not playing another set. “Have someone grab my bag from my dressing room? You can help me change when we get home.” Something soft and warm sounds wonderful right about now.

Odessa sucks in a breath, hissing between her teeth as she winces and buries her face against Ace. The pain is only momentary, and she’s relaxing again as quickly as the tension came on. “Sorry to worry you, darling.”

Unlike usual where Ace might quickly break away from sitting with her in her discomfort, he instead settles into a sit beside her. A minute might suit them both before they move on, one he spends with his arms wrapped around her.

"I've got you," he promises, voice softened by the depth of his concern and the ice in his being that's yet to fully melt. "I won't let her hurt you again."

Odessa’s tired smile can be heard in the way she exhales. “She would never hurt me intentionally.”

“No. No! Not like this. Please. Please! Please, no. Eve, stop. Eve!”

“Those were the last words of Odessa Price before she was killed by Eve Mas.”

…Would she?

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