Closed A Girl's Best Friend

(Matthew and Fallon)

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Center of scholarly knowledge and shipwrighting, Zeltiva is a port city unlike any other in Mizahar. [Lore]

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A Girl's Best Friend

Postby Shai on March 2nd, 2015, 4:54 pm

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Timestamp: 15th of Spring 515 AV

A tame spring afternoon saw the spider to Yvette’s establishment. Idle inquiries had yielded two names of Tailors within the city. Shai had chosen Yvette’s after a confirmation that women’s ware was the specialty.

The alabaster woman traced the delicate cuts and fine fabrics arrayed in the entrance of the store. From a family of tailor’s and weavers, to a degree Shai understood what to look for it. Also in mind, was the realistic expectation that her dresses would need to be custom made. Few human women came in the same sizes her, any that were so petite were only young adults. Still it was worth a perusal.

Little doubt existed in the Symenestra’s mind that the store clerk would shoo her from the premises initially. Foreign and feared but perhaps a display of her intent to purchase a large number of items would get her traction here.

In Sunberth, armor and a strict braid had been her entire attire. Everything else was too much risk. Here, she had chosen a new kind of armor, a long dress with elongated arms to hide her arms and claws. The more she could appear like the humans the less she would make them skittish. Her charcoal hair was pinned up on one side with a silver pin the shape of a spider, on the other side it fell free, a rare sight in sunberth the Spider had hair that trailed considerably down her back when unbound.

A few flicks of her fan was the best she attempted to banish the uncomfortable humidity. With her free hand she took to feeling the weaves of the fabrics with her thumb and forefinger. Spotting a poor weave was an exceedingly advanced skill, but feeling a weave between one’s fingers was a much easier indicator. Tilting her head at one particularly gaudy pink dress, Shai began to wonder if it wouldn’t be better to request dresses in the way of her people and not these Zeltivans. It all looked rather constrictive and far too warm for her tastes. The flowing silk and gossamers of the Symenestra were one thing the spider couldn’t help but miss.

Her pearly lips pursed, that was all thoughts of special orders. The backbones of a dress were the trappings beneath it, those she had no doubt she could walk home with today. She had secured a promise from Fallon for her assistance in the matter, if only because running through the streets with her arms full of underthings seemed like a poor way to start her new alias in the port city.
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A Girl's Best Friend

Postby Fallon on March 4th, 2015, 11:23 am

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Fallon had dressed down since Sunberth, frayed coat hanging off her form, dirty and unkempt boots hugging off her. There was unique lack of armour, and weapons for that matter - only the heavy weight of such a nature that hung her was the kukri, kept in prime position at the base of her spine. Her shirt collar hung out of shape, the peeking of bandaging from beneath the layers, and those tired eyes peering out of dulled sockets.

She was tired in honesty, her mind stumbling and lethargic at best as it tried to come to terms with what had occurred back in Sunberth. And whenever she did come to terms with such ordeals did the mind begin to shudder and rebel against the notion - no balm could be garnered and the only immediate soother despite being around Zandelia was flickering about people. She did not feel safe when alone, there was no security or peace she found in her occasional few moments of isolation. There was only fear to greet her. Which was why she had jumped at the opportunity when Shai had suggested a needing of some assistance with today's activities. Even if it was only the idea of clothing and its potential purchase.

It was the moment she spotted the store in question however that Fallon began to feel out of place. It was high class, one built upon tastes and ettiquette. One had to be of a certain social class or standing to even consider breathing in there, and so with a quick glance down to her current state Fallon momentarily back tracked to neaten herself up. It was in the shadow of a gap between two of the buildings that she gave a firm shake out of the coat, a stamp of the boots to knock the excessive mud from them the best she could. Buttons done up, sleeves rolled down and the gloves pulled into place - worn at the finger tips but will have to do for now. Pushing her hair back from her eyes she gave a step back towards the general direction of the tailors.

Clearing her throat as she entered, she felt the eyeballing of the clerk already fall upon her, the gaze judging as she took the steps in. There was the smallest of nods, the trembling feeling of the more public mask sliding into place as she caught the shape of the Symestra that had beckoned her in the first place. With a step over, not masking her footfall with lighter steps did she hover behind, "You asked for I and I have appeared, what did you need help with?"

She peered at the woman's back, and then down to the dress she was inspecting carefully and the fabric she was feeling, a heavy material by the looks of things - she was no seamstress, "I am going to guess something related to clothing and dresses," Fallon's gaze looked up and around the shop then, the smallest twist of lips, "You're not working with Zandelia to get me into one are you?" A bold accusation perhaps, but she was going to ask either way - it had the scent of a trap after all, "No? Yes? Would the pretty lady like something long? Flowing? Or maybe rich dark colours, I am no seamstress..." She could feel the cogs going round in her head, "However... I would like to discuss something with you. A proposition of sorts. If you are available for such?"
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Fallon is a Master of Intimidation, "At this level, a Master intimidator often unconsciously intimidates their target unless the intimidator monitors their stance, tone, and actions to prevent this. Master intimidators will nearly always have a reputation that precedes them unless they have taken special care to prevent it."
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A Girl's Best Friend

Postby Matthew on March 4th, 2015, 4:33 pm

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Yvette was more than skeptical, keen stare following the bleary-eyed street skamp around with a focused intensity. While she was certainly a bit better dressed than most of the lower class, she still didn't have the sense of style to notice some of what Yvette were obvious details. Could Fallon not see how worn the tips of her gloves were? Had she not noticed how her sleeves were incredibly wrinkled from the elbow down? What about the buttons? You certainly didn't button all of them up. Putting a bright and professional smile on her face, Yvette quickly headed toward the skamp, planning on recommending a clothing store that could be found on the other side of town. The skamp did appear to have a friend, but the friend looked respectable enough. Perhaps a bit too dressed. Had her mother never shown her just how to show off the things that men liked to see?

Keeping that friendly smile bright, she stepped up to the two customers, clearing her throat. Already having an elegant speech prepared that would politely guide the skamp to an area much more suited for her obvious tastes in clothing, Yvette parted her lips, only to be interrupted by a soft and well-spoken voice. "Excuse her, Madame Mercer. She is in a state of transition. I brought her here with me to prepare her wardrobe for an evoluton, of sorts. A change in social status, all starting with the right sort of outfit."

Yvette turned, quickly taking in the newcomer, a tall and well-dressed man that wore a simple white shirt and pair of black trousers, but obviously had taken care in picking out even the most mundane of clothing. It was all very well-fitted, drawing just enough attention to a slim and defined body. His face showed care as well, with perfectly styled hair and a clean-shaven jawline that was impressively sharp. She smiled brilliantly, nodding quickly. "Of course, sir. I've heard mention of you from the Madame of a Touchy Subject. She often comes here to buy new clothing for the females in her employment. If you need any help recreating your tomboy of a friend, please let me know."

The Harlot turned brilliant blue eyes to the pair in front of him, tilting his head to the side. One was completely unfamiliar to him, but the other was a very familiar face indeed. He had known that face for a surprisingly long time now and searching back through his memories, the face had evolved even further in the recent seasons. He stepped closer, brushing past Yvette, the simple movement holding a certain grace, combined with a certain amount of subtle suggestion in the air. Yvette took one last glance and headed back towards her desk, planning on keeping an eye on the two.

But not before the Harlot threw in one last pair of sentences to help further support his story that he was here with the two women, eyes connecting with Fallon's and choice of words perhaps further encouraging the idea that this was a trap and Zandelia had somehow called in reinforcements. "Do not worry about me, Madame. I think I have the perfect dress in mind."

His eyes left Fallon's, attention turning to the other woman beside of her, a polite smile printing across his handsome face. He waited until Yvette was far enough away before he spoke softly. "Hello. I am Matthew. It is a pleasure to meet you."
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A Girl's Best Friend

Postby Shai on March 4th, 2015, 6:16 pm

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“Thank you for joining me.” Shai said without turning away from the dress at hand. “I was not aware of any such plot, but I am more than happy to assist Zandelia in anything she requires.” Moving on to the next example of tailoring the Symenestra realized the biggest trouble in this endeavour. She had no idea what to ask for. In Kalinor their dresses had all been light or flowing affairs. Heavy meters of fabric were terrifyingly dangerous in the suspended city. “I want something short and light, I have seen women wearing them in the day here. It is only Spring, surely Summer will be warmer and these long gowns will be a burden.”

Turning towards her companion, Shai was chanced with enough time to see the human male approach. “Ah it is nice to meet you again.” The pale woman smiled, “The shade did you no kindness.” He was as handsome as her memory suggested, although perhaps less so for the kempt appearance. It was rare the thief recalled her marks so vividly, but then again no other had offered to trade for the return of their belongings as he had. “Matthew,” She nodded, “My name is Shai.” Enough jokes had been levied in her direction for the statement ‘I am Shai’ to be erased from her vocabulary.

Though she never left their circle of conversation, her attentions were roving over the shop looking for the example of exactly what she wanted. A distracted murmur prompted Fallon, “If you have something on your mind, my ears are open to you.” The Symenestra had to trust the former-gangleader to be circumspect. It could always be a job, but surely the woman wouldn’t ask for anything like that infront of a stranger and in public. It could be as simple as needing an idea for dinner, although that would be a singularly bad conversation to hold with Shai.

Finally, in the corner on a mannequin still in the process of having clothing pinned upon it, the spider found her example. “As an aside, a dress would not hurt would it Fallon? This city seems so much kinder to beautiful things than where we came from.” A subtle laugh and the purposeful flick of a lock of back hair over her shoulder served as her punctuation. She looked once more to Matthew, “Beauty is alive and well in this port city.”

The dress in the corner seemed to made from light fabric, although distance barred certainty. It was a powdered-yellow affair that left arms and knees bare. “Could it hurt to see if it fits you?” Shai was far too slender to give the dress any due, but it seemed a safe wager Fallon could if she attempted it. The store clerk had one thing correct though, a bath would need to come first.

Shai’s rambling had two-fold purpose, one it made for an excellent cover to whatever Fallon’s request entailed and two it furthered her original intentions for this afternoon.
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Postby Fallon on March 5th, 2015, 10:19 am

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For the most part Fallon left the Symestra to it, letting her thumb at the fabric till her hearts content. She had considered at one point partaking in such in a similar exercise, to see if she could work out what exactly Shai was looking for - but she only managed to reach so far before the disapproving scowl of the clerk caused her to freeze and withdraw those digits. She was not clean, she was not wanted here, she should get out and leave - she reasoned - as quickly as possible. And it was at such an urge that begun to continue to grow into near unimaginable proportions as Fallon saw the seamstress begin to close in to make some quick quitted suggestion to move onwards.

But, she was caught short as the honeyed words of a man she had not expected to see came forward. Fallon's eyes widened, colour draining from her cheeks as the harlot made himself known. Petrifaction set in, a throbbing disbelief as he spoke so clearly to the clerk and halted her in her steps and give pause - before sliding off once more away from them. Fallon's cheeks gave only a small burn at the obvious dig of 'tomboy', her brow gaining some life as she simply frowned at such a title - was there anything wrong with wearing clothing that she felt comfortable in? And for that matter dress well? She had seen the rich upper-class struggle already in their bodices and laces, their forms drawn in tight through corsets. They were nothing but impractical, and it was impracticality that Fallon detested.

"Matthew," she managed to breathe through tight lips, obviously struggling to find some composure, "How kind of you join us. I was not... expecting you to arrive so quickly? You are here because...?" There was the smallest of squirms at the dig at her present clothing, her lips pursing into a line as she tried comprehend what was going through his mind - or for that matter most others. Was she really dressed that poorly? She gave a glance down at herself then, an element of embarrassment beginning to take over as she sheepishly tugged at her sleeves. Eyeballing him from beneath her brow she could almost feel the trap closing in around her - it was schemed even, oozing and throbbing in that direction. Her lid gave a twitch, and she attempted to divert the current topic away from clothing.

"I have many things on my mind, whether or not this has an interest to you is... well, I do not yet know," Fallon slid her hands into her pockets, opting to keeping the wiggling digits out of sight for the most part. Continuing, she inspected the back of the Symestra's head, "Tell me, are you familiar with circu-" At Shai's suggestion to try the dress on only made her grimace. Her expression curl inwards, lips pinching as if she had just tasted something sour. For a long moment she simply stared at the woman, eyes flickering for the actual purpose for such a comment and then gave what could only be described as a pout. Fallon mumbled, "I don't like dresses. So impractical."

Her eyes narrowed down, looking almost for a challenge. She was not even fond of the colour, and with the unappealing prospect she simply turned her head away to look upon the other fine cut materials and found a growing level of boredom begin to settle itself in. Exhaling, she began to speak up once more, "As I was saying. Are you familiar with circumnavigation? Sailing around the entire continent and seeing far of cities and lands, adventure and tales to tell and spread. All those tastes, feelings, scents and sensations..." She peered at the back of the woman's skull then, and slid her eyes round this time to the clerk. Her lips peeled back into a disarming smile, the public face finally finding some footing, "There are many fine things in the world, it would be a shame not to see or experience them. No?"
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Postby Matthew on March 5th, 2015, 9:03 pm

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If her moment of discomfort was noticed, the Harlot did not show it. He was neither concerned nor flattered by her burning cheeks. He did not particularly understand why she even blushed so much around him. With most, he would automatically assume it was because of mere physical attraction and then discard it. For whatever the case, his mind did not make that logical leap when Fallon was inserted as the variable. At her question, he tilted his head, studying her for a moment before responding. "Did Web not tell you I could be found in Zeltiva? It is by pure chance I was available to... meet with you." He chose his words carefully, continuing the charade that this was a plan while also attempting to let Fallon know that it had been a random happenstance. His head tilted again, and for a brief moment, light caught his eyes in a way that caused a ring around them to very briefly glint a dark blue.

Then it was gone as he stepped closer to her, noticing her discomfort as she glanced down over her apparel. "Stop that. Do not falter. If you react to her attacks, she will know that her blow landed. You do not fit their definition of fashion, but show them you do not care. Look at them with the same contempt, let them know that it is they who do not fit your definition. You are attractive to the eye. Do not be prideful of it, but be aware of it."

For a moment, something special was happening between them. For a moment, it was as if Matthew had actually tried to show some amount of care in that deadpan voice and intense stare. There had been a compliment paid as well, honest and straight-forward.

"But I would still suggest a bath." And like that, the moment was shattered.

Attention turned to Shai, brow furrowing as the voice dredged up a distant memory and the comment tugged at it again. He was quiet for a moment as he stared at her, wheels and gears clicking and churning, searching through his mental library for a reference until he could make an educated guess. "...I apologize, your face doesn't seem familar, but I do believe I know the voice. Do you still have something that belongs to me? I would still be willing to purchase it back, if so." Shai's quick-witted compliment was met with a blink and a slow nod, a polite smile offered. "That is very kind of you." He wandered off almost at the same time as she did, quietly aiding her in her journey to find a dress of some sort. He didn't take long at all before he returned with two of them carefully draped over each arm. He did not intrude on their conversation, interrupt it, or actively listen in. It was simply not his place.

He held one up and then the other, showing them off for both women to see. "It would really depend on the impression you want to give. One is what some may call cute, perhaps a dress you would wear on a picnic. The other is what some might refer to as sensual, but beautiful, and will certainly trigger many an interesting daydream in the heads of potential lovers. You would look lovely in both." His eyes glazed over for a bit, his mind obviously wandering elsewhere. "Or perhaps a melange ruffle jacket and pant set. Professional, yet alluring. Hm."
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Postby Shai on March 10th, 2015, 8:05 am

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Shai made a point of listening, a speculative curl tugged at her lips. “I still have it.” She replied without extrapolation. Part of the spider’s game often included trying to unsettle human men with her more monstrous prospects, when Matthew seemed unphased her opinions of him shifted. Of course, she hadn’t put over-much effort into it, but she could shelf the idea for another time.

“I have never heard the word zircum-navigation before.” She sounded it out trying to mimic the first word which was foreign to her. “But I have seen many places. Kalea is far from here, and I was on a ship most of my travels. I saw many ports and I have traveled since.” For the barest second a look without subterfuge or premeditation skittered across her visage; wonder. “I have always wanted to see the city made of ice. I have heard a palace exists in the far north that never unfreezes.” Her features returned to the sedately pleasant mien she’d taken up all morning. That face hid a truth, a secret so pivotal to who the widow was that revealing it gave the holder tangible power over her. It would be her own trial to struggle with, none could be trusted to hold it and not utilize it. Her gaze focused too long on the deep curtain of shade beneath the arranged dresses. It was there, a Shadow, returning her regard. It may have been curious, but more likely her attention drew its own. the shadows knew the secret, though they hadn't used it maliciously against her. Shai had found limited and sporadic success communicating with them and in public among friends was certainly not the time to renew those attempts.

Wavering, she jerked her chin back towards the others. Matthew had returned with two dresses. Confidence ruled her actions now, and her fingers examined the red dress’s fabric, pulling it just a little closer to Fallon. “What do you see when you look at this dress?” Shai paused to hear out the answer. Then when she was certain the clerk was otherwise occupied, she continued “I see a knife in the dark.” Cracking a toothy grin the Symenestra explained, “It is a piece of stealth and beauty. Where we were, beauty makes you a target but here it is another mask. Like your scowls and your sheathed swords, if you take it in hand it will fight for you as well.” It was not always a pleasant truth, but it was one Shai had grown to understand. When she couldn’t catch a target unaware, the next best option was to be the bait. Force the target to you and they will hand over their goods before they know it. “Do not let a tool be your weakness, it is wasteful.” Her tone dropped and it was clear what the thief thought of those who wasted innate talent.

“Aside from that,” Her voice rose slightly higher, “It is silk, almost certainly of my homeland. You should at least see if it fits.” The bust’s embroidery would have fallen and wilted against the little spider’s petite frame.
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Postby Fallon on March 16th, 2015, 4:31 pm

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"I see," she spoke through tight lips. Fallon narrowed her eyes down upon the harlot, orbs flickering as she tried to gain a reading upon him - or at least glimmer at what he was implying. Chance, pure, meet with - various meanings neatly reshuffled until at last she just nodded to him. Her brow only rose when Matthew wandered off. Her head turned then to Shai, hearing the attempt at mimicry of the word.

"You mean Avanthal," She spoke softly, "And... yes, it never unfreezes. Least, that was the case when I was last there. It was a few years before the djed storm, I do not know how it fared," She frowned at that and moved swiftly on, "I've never been to Kalea, or south for that matter either. Brief names I have heard, nothing more. But, that is the beauty of circumnavigation, to see and have the opportunity of many cities and places. It had been done before, yet the opportunity to attempt it is... appealing." She shrugged then, "It is merely a work in process idea, much planning is required, resources, the said ship for sailing itself. Think of it as a loose proposition if you have even a slither of interest in adventure."

It was when he returned, dresses in each hand that her expression fell. Disinterest was the first flickering that rested there, further annoyance and boredom. It did not mean she shunned the words offered by either, it was merely something she could not see herself in. Too rough, to scarred around the edges and still trying to find a sense of self. With a bemused look, she allowed herself admiration of it, the quality and the craft put into it. But, it was not for her.

"Wise your words are, but you have forgotten one thing. I do not do dresses," Fallon felt as if she was repeating herself, "They do not fit into my norm and they would not be suitable for my line of work." Her gaze shifted between them, Shai first, then Matthew and then a brief glimmer to the clerk. Her eyes gave only the look to challenge her words before continuing. She stood her ground on the subject, if anything because of the level of discomfort it was beginning to play upon her, "I am opening my business again, dresses while pretty to the eye would only get in the way."

She had put her foot down now, annoyance into her voice, her scarring creeping up into a searing burn. Or perhaps more accurately a slither of fear to the idea, the notion of allowing herself to be put into a vulnerable situation. She hated the feeling, her mind flickering to the expectations and the jabbing forcing that seemed to come with it. Why could they just leave her and let her decide upon her own terms what was wanted? A forcing of the self into an unsuitable shape when she was still trying to find her feet and tastes in a new city. With a deep sigh she gave a stern look to them both and took a step away, "I will get my own clothing, to my own tastes, on my own accord. Call as and when you need some scruffy scamp to carry your things. I will be..." her gaze flickered around the tailors and failed to find anything to focus upon. She slid off towards a set of decorated shoes, "About."
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Postby Matthew on March 18th, 2015, 10:37 pm

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Matthew's brow furrowed as Fallon claimed that she didn't do dresses, a bit of confusion sparking behind his normally-passive gaze. He could see the expressions written across her face and understood that they weren't very good ones, but he couldn't put exact titles to them, try as he might. There was something that felt wrong, though. An irregularity in the scene, something that didn't quite fit. It was something that taunted him as it danced just out of reach. How maddening. He pushed it away, forcefully removed his attention from it, returning his thoughts to the abruptness of Fallon. His brow furrowed deeper as he watched her slide off, the Harlot pausing for a moment before quietly addressing Shai. "I had originally thought we were acting like we were buying her a dress to cover up the real reason you both were here, whatever that might be. As the act progressed, I decided that it wasn't actually an act and you were both actually interested in new dresses."

His words were soft and careful, Matthew obviously putting a good amount of thought into his words. He was also splitting his attention. Part of his mind was on Shai and Fallon, while the other part of his mind focused on summoning the settled Djed within his veins.

"But now it seems to have changed again. Is she angry?" He tilted his head toward a third dress, brow still furrowed. "For instance, if she is truly looking for something practical, that dress offers freedom and movement. It even has pockets. I am assuming that isn't the actual problem, though." The Harlot focused for a brief moment, swirling Djed in sizzling streams through his veins, dispersing it into his skull and expending it to spring his Auristics to life. Dozens of auras leapt to life around him like smoke billowing from fire, but he ignored everything but Fallon.

Deep red hues surrounded her in perhaps the most tightly compacted aura he had ever seen, the colors forming a near perfect cylinder around the woman. Black cracks spiderwebbed around the shape, rapidly spreading and expanding, long and sticky strands of an equally black substance oozing down from the cracks. Just as fast as the cracks appeared, the cylinder tried to correct the flaw in itself. It would reform over many of the cracks as if sealing them, only for more to appear. It was trying to hold itself together. It was barely succeeding. He could taste the black strands, like caustic oil coating his tongue, eating away at it and summoning sensations in his core that he did not quite understand. Her aura shivered with music that reminded him of children's lullabies, as if trying to soothe the black cracks to sleep. The entire shape seemed to shrink away from the world around it, afraid that any disturbance would cause it to crumble.

He didn't expend the djed or focus required to learn more, to pry deeper. Something was obviously off. He wasn't sure if she was just angry that they had suggested a dress for her or if it was something more. Interestingly enough, at the very edge of his focus, he had noticed an irregularity with Shai's aura. There were shapes under her clothing that did not correctly correspond with the shapes he was familiar with. He tossed the observation almost immediately aside. It wasn't any of his business. "You have good fashion sense, by the way. I would offer my assistance to you, but I don't feel you need it." It was a sudden but genuine compliment, a polite smile offered before he glided off after Fallon.

Approaching the section of decorated shoes, he cleared his throat and slowly spoke, having no idea how to handle the situation but willing to step up to the social challenge. "Would you like me to show you and Shai some of the clothing stores that don't focus as much on dresses and high fashion? Or perhaps you would be interested in looking at some interesting gadgets and toys? I am afraid I don't have anything that you can carry, though." The sarcasm was completely missed, his slightly odd offer spoken in an genuine effort to help. With what, he did not know. His gaze turned back to Shai, thinking it was likely she better knew how to handle this.
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A Girl's Best Friend

Postby Shai on March 21st, 2015, 7:04 pm

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Shai’s thoughts trailed after the two humans. She stepped back mentally, like a halter on her mind her prerogatives rearranged without her willful input. Heart beats counted the difference between ticks. Something was amiss in Fallon, and the widow had begun to notice. Her curiosity held too much sway today. Matthew followed the youngest among them, leaving Shai behind with a compliment. On another day it might have been bait for a biting remark, but the dresses had lost her attention entirely.

Shifting through the store, the spider lacked the floating grace of the man but could command a subtle kind of fluidity that the human-made dress did little justice to. It was very near the way she stalked in her armor, the unspoken threat of imminent and volatile movement. One more guise dropped unintentionally.

Drawing beside Fallon, she gave Matthew his moment to speak. Zandelia knows what Fallon does not. It was a gentle nudged at her more perceptive familiar.

Chell replied telepathically after a pause. Uncertain why you care but is that not enough? They are partners aren’t they?

Shai only barely concealed the shrug, Perhaps, but something… is there. She couldn’t place it. The man had offered other stores, but the usually patient spider and chosen those moment to press the issue. Twisting her body into the space between the shoes and Fallon, forcing her frame into the picture, Shai used her body as a wedge a maneuver she never would have done with someone she considered enemy. Though a full hand lower than the the other, Shai leveled her gem-toned eyes on Fallon’s. Pupils dilated perceptibly as she focused in the interior light on the features which had been taken for granted for seasons passed. “There are tools between us that can be used on a whim.” Shai started, her voice lacking any hint of the sarcasm or threat that was too often present. Her voice strained a whisper but she’d use Fallon’s body to block the sound from her voice, so that only Matthew might be close enough to hear her words. “You have seen me do so, and I watched you as well. No doubt Matthew carries his own cloak, concealing facets of himself for the right moment. There are pieces of me, defiled by my actions, things I can never take back, but in doing so I learned how far I would go to see my goals met.” The word ruthless stuck in her throat, too great and true to mention.

“I told you I saw a dagger in a dress and that is true, but it is more than that to deny these tools at your fingertips, Fallon. I am not saying you must use everything you can, but you were born with blunt teeth and breasts in a world that favors violence and muscles. You can deny your birth but it is also denying a weakness.” Her hand struck out from the folds of fabric she hid beneath. Where it met Fallons’ flesh it didn’t mark, it instead it glanced feather light as her fingertips cupped the woman’s chin. The savage edge of her claws threatened the soft skin beneath her jaw not by Shai’s intent but by the intrinsic otherness of a Symenestra. “When you turn blind to a weakness, someone like me will take advantage of it.”
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