Mavis had greeted Audra at the front door, led her into the mudroom and then showed her guest into the family room. Presently, the only form of entertainment the living room had to offer were vinyl record, old cassettes, and some dusty books. A fire burns in the fireplace. The human remarked about wanting to invest in a television set in the near future, then beckons Audra to join her in the kitchen.
It's considerably cooler in the kitchen, almost chilly, and the human wears some fuzzy, sky-blue socks to keep her feet warm. A baggy, thermal shirt is slung over her torso, the sleeves bunched up at her elbows and wide collar askew. Comfortable pajama bottoms hang from her hips, a little too long and dragging across the floor.
"I've got some coffee going," she tells her friend over her shoulder while padding over to the counter where the coffee maker is mid-brew. "If you want to smoke, just step out back or go sit on the front porch. I saved an old tin can for you to ash in," she tells Audra while opening some cupboard doors and tiptoeing to fetch two cups.
It was muggy and cold outside. A nasty mix, and Audra was clearly having none of it. She's eager to slip inside, and just as happy to shed her casual tennis shoes and insulated windbreaker. It leaves her in a slim tanktop and comfortable jeans - a decidedly casual look for the woman, all lanky and slim as she stretches out and brushes some of the rain from her hair. She's not soaked, merely damp.
"Appreciate it. I think I'll stick inside for the time being, though." She flashes an impish smile as she walks along, sizing up the pajama-clad woman. "Coffee sounds nice. How're you settling in?" Her neck cranes as she takes in the sights, leering at the building from the inside as much as she did on the approach. It was late, which was Audra's preferred hour for activity. She seemed to drink in the atmosphere, and the shadows lengthened as she passes them by.
Mavis procures two spoons, a jar of sugar that's stoppered with a corked lid, powdered creamer, and then some liquid creamer from the fridge. "There's also tea," she remarks, turning back around to lean against the counter while they wait for the coffee to finish.
The mortal is decidedly casual herself, comfortable in her home environ, or trying to be as much as the old house would let her. Truth be told, Mavis seems a little on edge and her polite, small talk has a forced banality to it. The mortal knows the layout of the kitchen, but lacks familiarity with it, having to pause and think about things and twice she'd opened the wrong drawer to find the spoons. Still leaning against the counter, Mavis stares off out the window for a couple of seconds, watching the rain pelt it from outside, then looks back at the rain-damp Audra with a sympathetic smile.
"Do you want a towel?" She asks Audra while mentally framing an answer to the question asked about how she was settling in. Mavis isn't sure how much to tell the lawyer. "All right, I guess. Kind of feels like I'm in a stranger's home, you know?"
The coffee maker begins to sputter, almost finished brewing.
The coffee toppings appease Audra, and her eyes narrow while her mouth splits into a wider smile. She takes up position against a counter opposite Mavis, back arched and one leg crossed behind the other as she coils there, relaxed. "There are quite a few theories on houses and the feelings behind them, you know. You've no doubt seen a few of the famous horror movies featuring haunted houses and the like, yes?"
Audra lifts a hand and uncurls her fingers as she counts. "The Shining. Amityville horror. 1408 - the campy one, with John Cusack in it. The House of Usher." Her shoulders roll lazily. "Houses themselves are said to have personalities. And with an old one like this, how can you say it's yours if you don't know all of its secrets yet?" Audra runs a hand along the countertop.
"No towel, thanks. I'll dry off eventually." That last remark rand hollow, as if Audra didn't believe it even slightly. She cleared her throat, catching her own lie and looking sheepish about having uttered it in front of the mortal.
"Of course I have," answers Mavis with a bit of a scoff and roll of her eyes as Audra rolls out of the list of old horror films. "Doesn't exactly help me settle in though, does it? I feel weird about.. going through my grandma's stuff, moving things around." Mavis sighs, looks down, then watches Audra through a sidelong glance and under the thick crescents of her eyelashes. She sheepishly admits, "That's why I was happy to let Amity clean this place, she took the inside while I tackled the front and back yards."
The coffee pot finishes spitting out the last of its brew and Mavis turns around to pour the cups with her back to Audra. She calls the woman over with a jerk of her chin, going on to say, "That's the thing. Everything about my grandma was kept a secret. I find myself trying to get to know a woman who's dead and then it just feels like.. I'm violating her possessions and whatever image being built in my head? Plagiary. Poorly represent, too," bemoans the artist. "The worst kind."
"Does it? I'll admit, I'm not entirely certain I've ever experienced that sort of thing. Worrying about going through someone else's stuff, that is. My homes never really feel like mine in the first place, not unless I really dig in and get to know the place. Fill it with my own things. My own habits. My knick-knacks and magic talismans and old clothes." Audra steps over and snatches up her coffee happily, beaming.
"It just takes time. Give it a little while and you'll warm up to the place, I'm sure. Put your own things up. Maybe set up a small shrine to your grandmother to remember her, give her a place of honor in the house. It'll ease your mind." It was genuine advice, though the odd mysticism behind it all lent Audra an odd air.
"That's the second time you've brought up the shrine thing," notes Mavis with a doubtful glance at Audra while she stirs sugar and creamer into her coffee. The spoon clinks away in the cup and the mortal sighs. "Hell, I don't know. Maybe you have a point."
Something Audra says causes the mortal to go quiet, look guiltily down into her coffee cup, then pick it up to sip from as though to cover it up. Mavis burns her lips and flinches away from the brim of the coffee cup with the spoon still sticking out of it. Setting the cup back down, she peers over at Audra with her cheeks flushing.
"I went through Amity's phone," she blurts, seeming startled by her own admission then gathering herself to stand beside it. "I knew she was lying to me and she was and I think she still is, but I felt so shitty for what I'd done that I just... accepted it."
-> >> Audra to Here << <-=============================================
Rolled 2 Successes
< 1 5 5 7 8 9 >
=================================-> >> Wyrd + Stealth No Flags << <-
GAME: Audra spends 1 Glamour with reason: Quietus contract
"Well, I'll keep mentioning the shrine so long as you keep bringing up how you're uncomfortable upsetting your grandmother's memory by moving her things around." Audra closes her eyes and takes a long sip from her coffee after she's added a few sparse droplets of cream.
She opens them quickly and nearly spits up a bit of her drink as Mavis suddenly blurts out a confession. She clears her throat, wiping her mouth off with the back of her hand. "Her phone..? What was.." Audra pauses for a moment and stares up at the ceiling. She makes a subtle gesture with her hand before continuing. The air relaxes faintly, as if energy has been released.
"Let's start at the beginning. What was Amity lying about, and what did you find?"
The mortal watches Audra spit her coffee with a serious expression on her face that becomes unguarded the instant it's clear that the Darkling is taking her seriously. Mavis releases a quaky sigh, closing her eyelids to try and remember how it all started. She tucks her hair behind the shells of her ears, opens her eyes to stare right back at Audra.
"You've met Amity," she puzzles. "She hardly ever gets out, talks to anyone outside of work. I lived with her for a few weeks and.. What you see is what you get." The human pauses, though, because that was not the case. "She kept saying I was her only friend, the only person she knew. It was cute, at first? Then I bumped into this artist at a coffee shop who knew her and.. the whole thing didn't seem right."
Mavis blinks at Audra and bites her lip, gnawing on it anxiously. She releases it to say, "You don't think I'm crazy, do you? Then I met this rando' over in the industrial district, rummaging through some dumpsters for scrap." The artist blinks innocently. "I helped her out, it was some good stuff," she explains, shrugging. "And, as it turns out, she knows Amity too. And the coffee chick. And that Amity's into chicks. And Widget had a LOT to say."
"I don't think you're crazy. For the record." Audra continues to cough a little, taking a long swig of coffee to wash her throat out and making a tiny grimace before setting the cup on the counter. She leans in to listen closely, nodding along as Mavis explains the situation.
"Let me start by saying that... I've a somewhat paranoid outlook on things, on account of my profession." Not a lie. Audra was careful not to specify that her profession was not, as many would assume, being an attorney. That was a hobby - a cover story. "But I also tend to analyze things very closely. I am also very particular about language due to my profession." Still not a lie.
There's a tiny sigh as Audra rubs her forehead, thinking things over. "My first attempt to unravel this particular knot is that... You and Amity might have different definitions of 'friends.' I don't know the extent of her relationships with these other people, but she might not consider them friends in the same way that she considers you a friend. Have you talked to her about it, yet?"
Mavis is upset somewhat by Audra's words and, at the same time, comforted by the solidarity. She wasn't usually paranoid or suspicious, but it felt reassuring to hear the lawyer rationalize her tumultuous feelings of late.
"Yes," she confesses, squirming on the spot and picking up her coffee again to this time blow on it before sipping. It still burned her throat, but this wasn't so bad and the sting gave her something to distract her from her own fraying nerves. Still holding the cup, Mavis says from behind it, "I asked her about it. She's.. funny about her words too. How she says stuff, always so careful." She often pretended not to notice. "Or maybe that's just me being paranoid, I never caught it before. I wish it was me, though, I found the texts on her phone. Geesh, what kind of person goes through their friend's stuff like that?" Mavis rubs her brow then shakes her head, ashamed of her actions. "When confronted about it, I tried to give her a chance.. tell on herself.. before I released both barrels. She didn't, of course, and then when I told her what I'd done she didn't even get mad about it."
Mavis drops her gaze down to her coffee and says, quietly, "She looked scared."
"You're being cagey about something. What did you find on her phone that caused you to confront her like that? If you gave her a chance to explain herself then that means you likely had something in mind for her to confess and didn't want to accuse her - you'd rather hear her side of things." Audra seems to be particularly stoic, analytical. All of the mortal's queries had a double layer to them, given the amount of changeling politics behind Amity and the other locals.
"There is a very good chance that you don't have all the pieces of whatever puzzle you're looking at, considering the circumstances. Try not to make assumptions based on small pieces of data."
Mavis tries to remember what all she had read. Those moments she'd been left alone with Amity's phone were brief and frantic. "Coffee chick, her name's Nathania, texted Amity to tell her she met a Mavis," she says, holding her coffee cup in one hand and pointing to herself with the other. "And that, if I asked, to tell me she and Amity met at the library while knitting." Likely enough story. "She said to "keep the lie consistent"." Here, Mavis uses one-handed air quotes to signify verbatim. "Then Amity goes on to say she doesn't like lying to me about stuff, but it's "starting to feel normal." Again with the air quotes. "It ends with them saying they should talk in person."
She stops talking to shuffle closer to Audra, against the woman's side, and sip her coffee. After a couple of sips, Mavis admits, "You're right. I definitely don't have all of the pieces to the puzzle, but Amity stuck to her guns and.. I'm worried that if I pry too hard, I'll just lose her."
Audra slumps somewhat, nodding her head slowly and placing some pieces of her own together. It's not that she's plotting anything, but the Darkling is, by nature, a schemer. In the bolt-hole that she calls an apartment, there is a single wall plastered with clippings and printouts and notes - with string to link various segments together. If there is anyone who embodies suspicion and paranoia, it is the dark-eyed creature standing in Mavis' kitchen.
"Let's step back for a moment. These two met previously under circumstances that neither of them wish to speak to you about. The context of their relationship is a secret and they are willing to lie to keep it that way. You said that Amity looked as though she was scared, but we cannot actually prove that it was a particular emotion - only that she had a reaction and was unwilling to confide in you." Audra snags her coffee and takes another sip.
"It could be something harmless. Perhaps they met under embarrassing circumstances - alcoholics anonymous. A support group for abuse victims. Something illegal - perhaps one of them deals hard drugs." Audra rolls her shoulders. "Are you worried about yourself, or about Amity?"
Mavis shoots Audra an angry glare. There's no mistaking /that/ emotion for anything other than quiet fury, but the mortal draws in a breath through her nose and sighs it slowly back out past her lips. She seems a little calmer after that and she takes a few sips off of her coffee.
"If it was harmless," she says crisply, "then why continue to support it after being called out? Amity told me a cover story, I want to believe her on it." Mavis apologetically peers up at Audra. "Sorry for dumping all of this one you.. I dunno if I should be worried or not, I guess not. There's nothing I can do about it and I promised Amity I wouldn't do anything like that again.. It felt gross the first time, I wouldn't want to anyway. I just.. had to know, you know?"
"Honestly, I don't know. Missing too many important details. And if pressing Amity didn't yield results, I don't see why further harrassment would. If you're not worried for yourself and don't want to pry further for her sake, it's probably best to.." The idea rankles Audra, but she says it nonetheless. "Drop the issue, I suppose." She gives a small grunt, clearly not happy with her own advice.
"It's a stalemate. A lose-lose situation for you. The only way you'll win is to build up her trust and work from there. There's no point in worrying because it's not something you can change immediately." The attorney waves a hand, hoping to push the issue onwards. "Heavy stuff, though. Certainly not making your move any easier."
Mavis nods, though, in agreement with that advice even though she doesn't like it much either. It was the best course of action if she wanted to carry on having a friendship with Amity. Things had been a lot simpler when Mavis wasn't reading between the things her friend said and did or second guessing them.
"Oh well," she goes, not knowing what else to really say. Audra had painted an accurate, albeit bleak, summary of her situation. "If I want to get back to the way things were, I've got to let it go. I'd already made that decision I've just been.. waiting for the rest of my head to catch up to it, I guess." She shrugs and puts her coffee down, setting it on the counter.
"So," Mavis declares, raising her voice and tone to indicate a shift of subject, "what do you think of the place? You were talking about vibes earlier.. picking up anything spooky?"
"Yup. Unfortunately. Sorry, it's a weird situation. I don't see an easy resolution. Still, the goal is long-term trust, so.. Just keep at it." Audra concludes solemnly, polishing off her cup of coffee and stretching a little, arching her back as she leans into the countertop. "Mmm? The place?"
She turns, and the changeling sizes the kitchen up slowly. "I think it's nice. Like I said earlier - old. Full of spirits. Personality." She cracks a wide grin. "I don't know, in regards to spooky happenings. Do you want me to do a blood ritual, see if we can't find a ghost? Maybe do a little conjuring, see what we can drag out of the walls?" It was half-joke, but something about Audra's expression hinted at the serious nature of the inquiry. "The place seems nice, at least. You still wanting to rent me a room at some point? I'd love a place to set up as a little art studio. Somewhere away from my work and day-to-day life."
Mavis thinks about that phrase-- "longterm trust"-- and the way that Audra says it makes her frown a teensy bit. The corners of her mouth pull down ever so slightly and her brows pensively knit. She wanted Amity's trust, but not to turn it around on her later down the line.
"No, no blood rituals tonight," she tells Audra with a laugh, taking her at face value, but uncomfortably joking about it. "Maybe Tuesday, although I can't imagine conjuring the dead will help me sleep at all."
She smiles gratefully at Audra for helping her supplant the new subject. "Yes, of course," she says, earnestly, to the lawyer. "Assuming you still want to after hearing about my drama and poor self-conduct. Amity might be moving in, too," adds Mavis, biting her lip and squirming on the spot. "I.. I might've failed the first time I tried to bring up the whole "went through your phone" thing and asked her to move in." She blinks, not sure how to explain how it happened just.. that it happened. Still, if Audra was going to move in then she ought to have some idea of what she was getting into. "It'd be nice if you did? Talking to you has helped.. tremendously, I think I needed someone to vent this stuff to. Mebbe if I had sooner, I wouldn't have gone off the rails and done something crazy."