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Where Truth Lies

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1 Where Truth Lies on Fri Nov 18, 2016 2:00 am

I can hear the sound of Mister Box two doors down wheeling down towards the mailboxes, and I vacantly wonder if it's really been two Fredais since I'd holed up in this apartment in my panic. Or just... one? How long have I been asleep?

My body aches and I'm covered in a cold sweat as I shift around to kick at the radiator, idly wondering if it's broken or if my body's so lost in withdrawals I've lost the ability to tell hot from cold. My supply of moppy ran out two days ago, that much I know for certain. But how recently I've heard my neighbor's rickety chair squeak past..? That's a mystery.

For a moment I consider food, but I know all too well that the ice box is emptied of anything edible. No. There's nothing of use left in this apartment. The blinds have been drawn to keep out the sunlight, the food eaten and drugs consumed. All that's left is the piles of useless shit for magic I can't use. I haven't left the confines of my apartment building once since I returned home from Marnin's almost a week (or was it two?) ago. His vox unit, and it's mask, are sitting abandoned near the stove, hidden underneath a blanket. I don't know why, but looking at it leaves me feeling guilty. Makes me feel sick

Or perhaps that's the withdrawals, too. Without the concoctions from the Poth, sleep is almost impossible. Between the nerve pain and searing headaches, I've been blessed with the addition of sporadic seizures. For someone who hasn't done more than walk to the toilet down the hall every day or so, I've never been more exhausted in my life. And the haze of the drugs have long gone, leaving me entirely aware of the shithole I'd dug for myself.

When I hear a sharp wrap at the door, I yell incoherently towards it - the fact I'm not wearing my vox unit never occurring to me as I yell for them to leave it at the door. Though, whatever sounds they could make out, I doubt they sounded anything like what I'd intended.

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2 Re: Where Truth Lies on Fri Nov 18, 2016 2:07 am

I raise an eyebrow at the garbled yelling, choosing to ignore whatever meaning was meant to be behind it as I utter a few words under my breath. The click of her locks unlatching is satisfying - just as satisfying as the creak of the door as I push it open slowly, my knuckles knocking on it lightly as I step in uninvited.

"You really should invest in better locks," I chide as I shake a thermos in her directions. "I bring libations, m'lady. Wee bit of moppy mixed with a touch more moppy... and a splash of tea for flavor."

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3 Re: Where Truth Lies on Fri Nov 18, 2016 2:10 am

I'm almost certain my grip on reality isn't as good as I'd thought it was as I look up at Richard in bewildered disbelief. More nonsensical sounds escape me as though I'm speaking to him clearly, but even I can't make sense of them as I hear them aloud.

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4 Re: Where Truth Lies on Fri Nov 18, 2016 2:13 am

"Babe, you sound like you've got a little something in your mouth," I comment at a loss, making a lewd gesture with my fist before I shake my head at her and look around the apartment with a frown. "Where's your - thing? That collar Marn made you?"

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5 Re: Where Truth Lies on Fri Nov 18, 2016 2:16 am

I gesture shakily towards the corner of the kitchen to his left, shifting uncomfortably to sit against the corner behind me as I work my jaw uncomfortably. I can hear stuff clatter against the counters and the floor as he haphazardly looks for the collar, my eyes squinting against the light of the hall as I look up at him. 

"Are-" I start roughly, the tension in my jaw sending jolts of pain across my skull as I inhale shakily, "you... real?"

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6 Re: Where Truth Lies on Fri Nov 18, 2016 2:22 am

"That's a popular topic for debate," I comment as I find the collar, a look of disgust flickering across my face as I wipe my hand on my shirt after touching the mess on the counter. "But yes, I'm very real."

Handing her the collar, I nod toward her face as I pull out a straw from my jacket pocket. "I had a little run-in with the charming men who gave that to you," I say as I open the straw and put it in the thermos before handing it to her as well. "They had a letter they wanted to deliver to you. I didn't think you would mind if I took the liberty of standing in as their messenger."

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7 Re: Where Truth Lies on Fri Nov 18, 2016 2:26 am

I pull the collar on quickly, fastening it clumsily as it seems to buzz into life. 

"What're you talking about?" I ask once I'm confident the collar is on, though my own broken words still mix with it uncomfortably. Taking the thermos, I sniff at it warily before setting it between my legs, watching Richard closely. "A letter?"

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8 Re: Where Truth Lies on Fri Nov 18, 2016 2:32 am

"Photos," I correct as I shove the mess off of the single chair in the room and pull it over to sit down. Unbuttoning my jacket, I take my seat, my legs crossing in front of me before I bother to pull the envelope from my pocket. "Well, photos and a few letters. A few sentences, to be more correct."

I watch her closely as I hand it to her, my eyes flicking across every little twitch of her demeanor as she takes the envelope. "Apologies," I frown as I nod toward the broken seal. "I opened it. Curiosity, you know... one of my numerous flaws."

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9 Re: Where Truth Lies on Fri Nov 18, 2016 2:47 am

Taking the envelope, I pry it open with trembling fingers before pulling out it's contents. The slip of paper wrapped around the photos goes ignored as I let out a heaving sob, holding onto one of the photographs as my fingers trace the faces of my husband and growing daughter unsteadily. 

For a moment, I entirely forget that Richard is watching me as I stare at the picture longingly. It's the only piece of them I've seen since leaving over two years ago, and it's several long minutes before the voyeuristic nature of the photographs starts to unsettle me. Picking up the slip of paper, I read it over briefly before an unnatural sound tears out of me, and I drop the paper as though it'd burned me as I look up to Richard.

"No, please, no!" I sob weakly, nearly toppling over the thermos as I shift forward in my eagerness to plea with the man, "They didn't do anything, please don't let them hurt them!"

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10 Re: Where Truth Lies on Fri Nov 18, 2016 2:59 am

I can't help my automatic withdrawal from her touch, my fingers having to forcibly pry her hand from mine as I frown at the unpleasantness of her pleading. "Stop begging, girl, and drink your tea," I say sharply as I pull a handkerchief from my pocket to wipe my hands on. 

"It so happens that I've already found myself displeased with this... situation," I confess as I tuck the handkerchief back in my jacket. "I wasn't sure until you confirmed it just now, but I had my suspicions. There's something distasteful about using one's family against them, isn't there? It lacks creativity, finesse.

"I'm willing to fix your problem for you, Mrs. Pandev," I say, getting down to business as I adjust my jacket absently. "If for no better reason than because your... friends... offend me. But there are conditions to my kindness, if you accept."

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11 Re: Where Truth Lies on Fri Nov 18, 2016 3:03 am

Swallowing thickly, I grab at the thermos to stop it from spilling and sink back against the wall. I can't muster the strength to speak anymore, so instead I just look up at him with tearful eyes. After a strained moment of silence, I nod.

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12 Re: Where Truth Lies on Fri Nov 18, 2016 3:04 am

"Drink," I say firmly as I nod toward the thermos. "You're useless to me the way you are now."

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13 Re: Where Truth Lies on Fri Nov 18, 2016 3:11 am

Wiping at my face, I look down at the thermos and take a tentative sip, my gag reflex working against the intensely drugged tea immediately as I cover my mouth to swallow. Whatever he's gotten is stronger than my usual supply, and the flavor of it coats my mouth with it's offensiveness. Still, just the taste of it is enough to ease some of the tension in my bones, and I wiggle against the anxiety still in my joints as I look at him pointedly. 

"What do you want..?" I ask quietly, wincing at the broken nature of my own voice mixing with the vox unit.

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14 Re: Where Truth Lies on Fri Nov 18, 2016 3:13 am

"For you to visit my brother, first of all," I respond as I get up to fetch the other half of the vox unit, more to hide my own disgust with the softness that creeps into my voice as I put forth the first task I have for her.

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15 Re: Where Truth Lies on Fri Nov 18, 2016 3:18 am

I nod a quick agreement as I take another tentative sip of the thermos, cringing at the flavor as I watch him. 

"What else?"

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16 Re: Where Truth Lies on Fri Nov 18, 2016 3:21 am

"Make him smile," I say stiffly as I return to give her the mask. "If you can do that, I'll find you another job. But for now, that's your priority.

"As for your friends?" I sigh as I take a seat again, my gaze wandering around the filthy apartment with a distasteful frown. "Well, I just hope there were no towns below us last night."

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17 Re: Where Truth Lies on Fri Nov 18, 2016 3:24 am

I take the mask from him warily, looking down at it uncertainly before putting it on. My fingers trace the outlines of it for a moment before I place both hands around the thermos.

"Why..?" I press on, "I mean... Not the below us thing, but... Why?"

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18 Re: Where Truth Lies on Fri Nov 18, 2016 3:34 am

"My brother hasn't been sober in two weeks," I say simply as I pull a thing of cigarettes from my pocket, not bothering to ask if I can light one up in her apartment. "Has hardly bothered to visit that obnoxious shop of his. And much as I love visiting my childhood home, I rather miss sleeping in my own bed and not having a drug addict try to clock me every time I pick him up off of the floor. It's... messy. I don't like messy."

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19 Re: Where Truth Lies on Fri Nov 18, 2016 3:55 am

I nod weakly, emotion threatening me again as I wipe at my cheek and stare at the thermos evasively. 

"What do I tell him..?"

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20 Re: Where Truth Lies on Fri Nov 18, 2016 4:02 am

"You'll figure it out," I shrug as I watch her thoughtfully. "He's met with you only a handful of times, and already he seems taken with you. That can only mean there is some cleverness to you that I've only glimpsed.

"Tell him you fell ill," I offer blandly. "That you got caught up with your work. Whatever it takes to convince him that I didn't scare you off. Or, more importantly, that he didn't."

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21 Re: Where Truth Lies on Fri Nov 18, 2016 4:17 am

"He's not stupid," I breathe softly, putting the thermos on the window sill as I shove the blankets away from my legs as I begin to get uncomfortably hot. I can't seem to sit still as I pull the sleeves of my sweater up, adjusting my collar anxiously. 

"He'll know I'm lying before I even try."

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22 Re: Where Truth Lies on Fri Nov 18, 2016 4:21 am

"You're right, he will," I nod as I light my cigarette and take a long drag from it. "So you better sell it, or make him too happy to care. He'll be waking up in a couple of hours, which gives you time to bathe and clean something before catching him in between trips. I'd rather you didn't wait until tomorrow."

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23 Re: Where Truth Lies on Fri Nov 18, 2016 4:32 am

"What?" I look up at him desperately, "Today?

"I- I can't go that far." I whine softly, "I haven't slept in days, I hurt everywhere. I can't walk that-" I inhale unsteadily as I force myself to hold the breath, letting it out slowly. 

"I know you don't care," I cry quietly as I try to steady my breathing, a hand resting against my chest as though guiding it's rising and falling, "But I've been really sick, and I'm scared, so I need you to-"

I falter as I reach down to brush my fingers against the photographs again, a sob breaking what little composure I had, "Promise me they're safe." I say, "I need to hear it, please."

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24 Re: Where Truth Lies on Fri Nov 18, 2016 4:39 am

My teeth clench together as she speaks before I finally let out a sigh as my expression softens. "They're fine," I say with what gentleness I can muster. Normally, I wouldn't have any to spare, but the past two weeks has left more than just one person tired and off of their game. 

"I've already sent people to check in on them," I offer with a little more composure as I get to my feet to start toward the door. "Take the evening. Get yourself cleaned up, make your teas, eat something... I'll have someone stop in with everything you need. But I'm leaving Marnie's in the morning. I expect you to be there to take my place."

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25 Re: Where Truth Lies on Fri Nov 18, 2016 4:45 am

"Wait-" I rasp as I struggle up onto my knees in an attempt to stand. I don't want to be left alone, but I know he's not the person to be looking to for sympathy. Still, the thought of the door closing behind him and leaving me isolated is enough to bring out the strangled plea for him to stay.

"I'll go, but please... Wait."

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