I couldn’t focus on my NaNo around this niggling feeling of leaving something unfinished. Appearantly, October and I needed to have a conversation before the #EclecticMasque wraps up for good.
The rest of the night actually passes fairly smoothly. After finding our hostess and reassuring her that our friends our safe and the Shade is no more, we all breathe a sigh of relief and set about to enjoy the rest of the night. Chris finds us as soon as we hit the main floor, manner easy and joking, though I can tell he’s been worried sick. I love how protective he is of everyone he loves, which is everyone that will let him. It’s sweet, and it’s why Chris will always be one of my favorites.
He insists on a dance, and chats me up about everything I missed, a clear attempt to help ease the tension between my brows. He tells me about all the interesting conversations he’s had- apparently, he helped mediate several arguments around time travel, a popular topic tonight, and all about how he ran around spreading cheer to various guests not quite in the masque spirit. One caught in a lover’s spat, wailling to pour his heart out to anyone who would listen. Another trying to get the knack of introducing himself to strangers. He’d thought about pulling that fellow off to the side for a quick tumble to relieve his nerves, but it had been so hard to concentrate on sex when the rest of us were off risking our lives. I have to laugh at how inconsiderate he makes us sound. But, mission accomplished Chris. I’m smiling and having a great time.
Satisfied that I’ve been “emotionally fluffed”, he hands me back off to Cait, and I spend the rest of the night dancing with my sweetheart and various characters. Seth insists on a round of improve bellydance, which I fail dismally at, but I enjoy watching he and Nica dance til they drop. Competing with his hawk lover always brings a smile to Seth’s face, and I’m glad to see the shadows leaving his eyes.
As the night winds down, I find myself to that small sitting room, thoroughly exhausted. Rain and October are curled up asleep on a loveseat, though October cracks one amber eye open as I enter. I sigh- if his eyes are shifted, that means he’s still on high alert, but I can’t really blame him. As I take a seat near them, he sits up a bit, and his eyes have bled back to his usual brown.
“You guys ok in here?” I ask softly. Rain murmurs in her sleep as October shifts beneath her, but otherwise doesn’t stir.
“Yeah, we’re good. Lots of people have come and gone. It’s been fun to chat with people from other worlds.”
I nod, leaning back in my own chair and resting my eyes. “I thought Rain might get a kick out of such an event.”
A quiet moment passes, and I debate opening my eyes again so that October knows I’m open to more discussion. It’s just been such a night.
But he breaks the silence first, with a question I really wish he hadn’t asked.
Why indeed? That’s always the question, isn’t it? I don’t want to deal with this right now, but I feel like I owe it to October to at least try, so I sit up and turn to face him.
“Honestly? We’ll probably never know. But, I have my guesses…”
I don’t want to admit this, I really don’t. It’s a point of embarrassment for me, but again, I owe it to them.
“Personally, I think they took Rain and Seth because they’re the ones I should be working on. They have a fan base, ya know? A small one, but it’s there. And that makes those two particularly tasty to a Shade. Add to it that I’ve left the fans themselves hungry, and I’m hardly surprised something sprang up from Mother Darkness to fill that void. So yeah, I think it’s my fault, cause that’s just how I am. Now whether that’s true or not, I can’t know, so I won’t dwell on it.”
I try to be glib, to make nothing of it, like I always do. Never let em see you flinch and all that. But I just can’t shake the feeling that I owe October, and all of my characters, better than that. With a deep breath, I lean back against the wall. I can’t look him in the eye anymore.
“But I’ll always feel a little guilty.”
“Well, use it.”
I crack one eye open and give him a sideways look. The intensity of his gaze makes me want to look away, so of course, I must turn my face back to him and give him my full attention.
“I’m serious. You’re always telling people to use their negative emotions to make a positive change, so take your own advice. Remember the sick feeling of dread when you realized the danger you put us all in, and turn it into determination.”
I purse my lips at his deliberate meta-ness. He isn’t a mindreader, he couldn’t have known what I’d been thinking upstairs.
“Death is very meta. I’ve said that before.”
I grin and give him a playful punch to the shoulder. “Alright you, enough of that. Take your great equalizer and shove it.”
“How bout I take that great equalizer and remind you that you last left a dead body for Jon and Rook to deal with?”
With the Masque officially over, NaNo season can begin. I have a lot of work to do, and I’m more excited about it than ever.