|Annie (_annieareyouok) wrote in birthrightrpg,|
@ 2021-04-07 21:52:00
|Entry tags:||annie robinette, tasha sloan|
Past, Present, Future
Who: Annie, Tasha
When: Present, Afternoon
Tasha was a hunter. That alone should have given Annie pause, but she wasn’t terribly bothered. She hadn’t realized how truly alone she had been feeling since coming to Nevada until Derek’s party. A street kiosk t-shirt slinging vampire had a wider and far more varied social circle than Annie ever would have imagined, while she was relegated to occasional run-ins with people who she worked with or had briefly fought alongside. Part of that was her own fault. Brian had pointed it out rather spectacularly at Derek’s party -- Annie rarely gave anything of herself up.
So she had changed that. Told a stranger what she was for the first time in her life. And she should have been nervous; logic would dictate that. But instead, Annie felt lighter. Freer. As though the burden of her secret had been weighing on her in ways she hadn’t even imagined.
There were others out there who might understand. It was time she made an effort to find them.
Las Vegas in Spring was lovely, at least in comparison to the Pennsylvania gloom that Annie had grown up with, so though many locals shunned the outdoors in the mid-range temperatures, Annie felt perfectly comfortable sitting at an outdoor cafe table with a cup of spiced orange tea and a small old book, waiting on Tasha to arrive.
Tasha walked down the street toward the cafe with a smile on her face, the sun shining down, and for once not hungover. She was wearing an oversized grunge-y cardigan that hung off one shoulder, buttons open to show a flower-print slip dress, and shiny black Doc Martens on her feet. When Annie came into view, she slipped off her sunglasses and slid them into her cardigan pocket.
“In order of priority,” the hunter said, pulling out a chair across from the other woman, “what are you reading, and what are you drinking?”
Annie smiled at Tasha’s greeting. They didn’t know each other well but she felt enough at ease to let down her guard and be friendly for a change.
“Tea. ‘Mandarin Spice’, according to the menu. It tastes like oranges and licorice,” she said, then paused to take a sip from her cup. She didn’t go for tea all that often, but this one was nice. It reminded her in a way of Christmas at her grandmother’s house -- a warm memory in a cup.
“The book, though, that’s something else,” Annie went on, and drummed her fingers on the battered leather cover of the small volume on the table. “I thought… I didn’t give you much to go on the other night, and there aren’t a lot of… people… like me. I wanted to explain.”
Tasha’s smile brightened and she leaned back in the chair, getting comfortable as she studied Annie from across the table. A server popped by after a moment and the hunter ordered a black iced coffee. It wasn’t exactly hot outside but the idea of it sounded refreshing.
“I know about being different,” she assured the other woman. “I want to know more. Color me intrigued.”
Annie took another sip of her tea and took a glance around the cafe patio. It wasn’t terribly crowded and those who were present seemed fully absorbed in their own affairs: laptops, phones, a conversation here and there. That at least was something she had learned to count on over the years; most people weren’t bothered to pay attention to anything outside of their own sphere.
“My parents have a mixed marriage,” she explained. “My mom is like me. Kekasmai. My dad is just… just a normal guy. I mean, as normal as anyone’s dad is,” she added with a snort, remembering her father’s predilection towards loudly patterned dress shirts and ever-growing collection of cereal mascot advertising gear. Dads. “Oh. And, extra-mixed, I guess. Dad’s white.”
It was funny when she thought on it as an adult, how that was always much more of an issue than the fact that she and her mother were something other than human. Amazing how people could get all riled up over what was on the outside and ignore what was on the inside.
“Have you ever met a Kekasmai before?”
Her iced coffee arrived in a glass etched with the cafe’s logo and Tasha grabbed a half-n-half and dumped it into the dark liquid, watching swirls of white creeping down into the depths. “Hey, I’m mixed too,” Tasha remarked with a smile, looking up at Annie from her coffee. “Except my mom’s white.” At the mention of Kekasmai, she remembered the party, the quiet admission. The hunter had gone home and looked up the term.
“You’re the first one...that I know of.” Tasha leveled a grin at the other woman. “They could all be as secretive as you,” she teased. On a more serious note, she added, “But I get it. Trust me. I can’t exactly advertise myself, either. Which I guess kind of explains my social circle.”
“It’s such bullshit, you know?” Annie said, shaking her head and swirling a spoon around her cup of tea. “I mean, I look like everybody else. But do a little digging, things get different… my life, my career? One mandated physical away from collapsing.”
She frowned and tapped her fingers on the book. “This was my mom’s. She gave it to me the first time I saw something. To explain. It traces our line back almost two hundred years, has a few notes on what we’ve Seen, what we’ve done. I thought maybe… maybe you should read it? So you know that we… that I’m... not bad.”
Annie had heard enough tales about hunters over the years to be wary, even if Tasha seemed perfectly nice, and was friendly with Derek on top of it. Maybe being open and up front about everything was what Annie needed; clearly, the middle ground hadn’t been doing her much good.
“First part is in Greek, though.”
Tasha leaned forward to peer at the book across the table, at the cover. “Of course I’ll read it,” she said warmly. “As for the Greek, that’s what Google Translate is for.” She took a sip of her cold coffee, the flavor strong and heavy on her tongue the way she liked it. The hunter regarded Annie thoughtfully. “As a hunter, I’ve come across lots of different situations and I think I’ve cultivated a pretty good judge of character. As a person looking for romantic prospects, though?” She sucked air through her teeth and made a see-saw motion with her hand.
“But I can tell one thing about you, Annie, and you are not bad at all. I know it.” Tasha gave her a sincere smile.
Annie snorted a humorless chuckle and leaned back in her seat. “I appreciate that, I do,” she said even as she shook her head. “I just feel like I’ve had to do better and be better than everyone else, in everything I’ve ever tried to do, just to reach normal, and this is just one more thing stacked against me.”
She took another sip of her tea, the spiced citrus flavor offering a measure of comfort; she was rattled enough, opening herself up like this, and to a Hunter no less. No need to be adding caffeine to the mix.
“I guess I would be less salty about it if it were actually useful,” Annie grumbled, and sighed. “I mean, I have some pretty strong senses… and I can see really well in the dark, so that’s helpful, I guess, but otherwise? What’s the use of Seeing something that is, or was, or will be, if you can’t do it on demand? I mean, I could use some lottery numbers, instead of knowing that a guy at the Luxor is going to slip and break a leg on a spilled drink, you know?”
The hunter listened to Annie, the ice cubes rattling in her coffee a sort of musical accompaniment to her words. “Do you think it’s something that could become useful?” she asked. “Like if you, I don’t know, practiced to make it happen on demand? I’m sorry if I sound completely ignorant.”
Tasha leaned down to scratch at an itch just below her knee. “I didn’t use my own gifts for a long time. Out of choice.”
Annie shrugged, eyebrows raised and shaking her head. “Honestly, I have no idea. As far as I know, we’ve spent so much time trying to hide it, no one ever tried to use it. Or even try to, I guess.”
She crossed her arms over her chest. “When I was about twelve or so, I woke up screaming in the middle of the night. All my mom could get from me was some gibberish about the wind, I was just shrieking before I completely passed out. Woke up a few minutes later and started screaming all over again, this time because I had no idea where I was, or even who my family was. Lasted until the next afternoon… right when an F5 tornado hit a town an hour or so away. How the hell do you use something like that to your advantage?”
Tasha frowned at Annie’s memory, setting her iced coffee down and sitting up straighter. “I’m sorry. That sounds so scary, I can’t even imagine what that must have been like for you.” In another way, though, she could relate somewhat. She had been young herself when her parents first started to teach her about hunting, the kind of creatures that lurked in their world, the things they could do to a person. There had been nightmares, at first.
“I wouldn’t even know where to begin,” the hunter admitted. “How to ‘practice’ on focusing it.” She paused, debating whether to ask her next question or not. “Do you still have moments like that?”
“It’s been awhile since something hit so big that I had memory loss,” Annie admitted. Such occasions were the west of the worst; that they were rare was a blessing that Annie often overlooked in favor of being angry at their mere existence. “Thankfully it never lasted for more than a day or two, and I was with people who knew what was up and kept me safe. Mostly it's just a bitch of a headache.”
She leaned forward, clasping her hands around her cup of tea. “It would be helpful if I could train it to work for me. Especially given my line of work. I guess I’m just afraid I could trigger something big like that, forget who I am for a while. Hospitals are a no-go for me. It’d be a disaster.”
“Yeah, I try to avoid hospitals, too, though for different reasons.” Tasha’s attention was briefly caught by a car honking wildly at a bicyclist that was weaving through traffic. She turned back to face Annie. “I do know about one local doctor, he deals with...people who are different. Discreet, works out of his house.” The hunter had never sought Radek’s services herself, but knew friends and acquaintances who had.
She took a long sip of her iced coffee, the caffeine already beginning to take effect. “You know, I definitely could tell you were interesting when I first saw you.” Tasha shot Annie a smile.
“That could be really helpful. Last year I got grazed by a bullet and it was just me, Walgreens, and a lot of butterfly bandages,” Annie said, nodding. Not having access to medical care was a problem, particularly in her line of work. She squinted a moment, thinking, and then added, “Actually, that makes me wonder. There’s a guy I know who helped me out after a weird sort of… infestation… a few months ago. It’s actually how I met Brian.”
She laughed. “I guess in the right place and the right time, everybody who’s a little different sort of runs into each other now and again, huh? Guy’s name is Radek. He’s got a research product in Searchlight and has been going through some of the files I have on missing persons in the area.”
Tasha laughed, too, leaning back in her chair. Her cardigan slipped down one shoulder and she pushed it back up again. “Yeah, so the small world of Searchlight strikes again. Radek is who I was talking about.” Her stomach grumbled and she slid the menu back toward her to consider the food offerings. Then something Annie had said clicked in her head.
“Missing persons in the area? Are there a lot of those?”
Annie snorted. “Literally the reason I’m here,” she affirmed, nodding her head. “Well. That, and a major fuck-up on my part. Officially my title is 'Special Agent in Charge of Southeast Nevada Missing Persons'. There’s only a handful of positions like this across the country, pretty much dead-end jobs for fuck-ups like me. Not a lot get solved but the Bureau has to at least pretend to try, you know?”
She glanced out at the people still milling through the streets around them, wondering if they had any idea where they stood. She had assumed upon taking the position that the missing were transient people, people who had disappeared for a reason or come to Vegas looking for an escape, only to find themselves meeting with foul play at the hands of those who preyed on the lost. Derek had taught her otherwise; sometimes, things happened to people. To good people.
And it wasn’t always at the hands of a human predator.
“I have files upon files upon files. Knocked out a good few with Derek’s help, but… yeah. Seems like as soon as people started showing up to gamble and party, they started disappearing.”
The hunter knew that Vegas had a good amount of ‘activity’ going on, though she never really stopped to think about how large of a scale it was. No wonder JD had asked her to be an informant of sorts. “Derek is an odd one, but he likes to help.” Tasha flagged down a server and ordered a chocolate croissant.
“Would you mind if I took a look at those files sometime? I might be able to scare up some leads in the darker corners of the city.”
Annie quirked a smile at Tasha’s assertion about Derek; he certainly was, as her grandmother would have said, ‘an odd duck’. Likable, though. And the first friend Annie had made after arriving in Vegas; that was certainly nothing to sniff at.
She took another sip of her tea as she pondered Tasha’s request. Such a thing would have been unthinkable for Annie a year ago, but so much had changed since then. She had to remember that the world wasn’t black and white; she lived among the many, many shades of grey.
Annie nodded. “That’d be fine,” she agreed. “Save me some work in the long run, right?”
She took her mother’s book and flipped to a blank page towards the back and began jotting down her address; it seemed fitting to do it there. After all, this was a new page in her family’s history: seeking out others who would understand their particular shade of grey instead of running away.