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[personal profile] shelbyrou
It is currently 11:18 Pacific Time on Tue Mar 27 2012.

Currently the moon is in the waxing Crescent (Theurge) Moon phase (33% full).

'*ringring*'

Pickup is on the third ring. "Hello?"

"I thought I recognized this number," comes Shelby's voice, amused. "Mr. Dalton, it's Shelby. I'm calling about the houseboat you have listed for sale. Is it still available?"

"That's.... quite an odd coincidence," Nick says over the line, then quickly resumes the conversation. "It is still available. And I think you might qualify for the family discount. When would you like to see it?"

Shelby says, "I've got some time free now, if that works for you. Otherwise, what about tomorrow?"

Nicodemus responds, "Today is fine, actually. It's not as clean and tidy as I'd like it to be, but it's viewable. See you in about...." He leaves the time open for you to fill in.

Shelby laughs. "I don't care if it's ready for a magazine shoot, just clean up the bulk of the beer cans. I'll be there shortly - and oh, how do you like your coffee?"

An amused noise from the other end. "I'll tear down the Leaning Tower of Pilsen before you get here. Straight up if it's regular coffee. Americano otherwise. This week. See you soon."

*click*'

Houseboat
The small houseboat's interior is cramped, roughly the size of a NYC apartment. The trim throughout is a hideously tasteless baby-shit green and faux mahogany that positively reeks of the 70s. Unless they are drawn back, heavy curtains shield any prying eyes from peering within. The boat's interior is divided into three sections: the living area in the bow, the hallway in the middle, and the bedroom in the aft.

The bow is small, but minimalist design creates the illusion of there being more space than there really is. The room contains only a captain's chair and console, a futon, a wooden coffee table (with an Xbox and a laptop lurking underneath), and a 42" LCD TV mounted on the opposite wall. A beaded curtain parts to reveal steps down into a hallway.

The hallway contains a kitchenette and cupboards on the starboard side. The port side has three doors: two lead to storage closets filled with miscellaneous supplies, and the third leads to a cramped toilet/bathroom/shower combination. Curiously, there is no mirror in the bathroom--or on the boat for that matter. The hallway ends with another set of beaded curtains that obscure the aft bedroom.

The bedroom is very cramped. A twin-sized bed with a pile of blankets and comforters is jammed into a corner--a short-barreled, pump-action shotgun lurks ready for use on the wall. A small "pony bottle" scuba tank is also next to the bed, ready for emergency use. The rest of the room is consumed by storage closets and plastic tubs. A door at the rear allows access to the aft deck.



Not too much later, and within a few minutes of when she'd be there, Shelby appears at the houseboat's slip with two travel mugs in hand. "Hello the boat!" she calls. "I bring offerings of boring drip coffee." The logo is from one of the better local coffee shops in the Montrose district.

Nicodemus slides open the glass patio door on the bow and steps onto the foredeck. "You got here faster than I thought." He walks over to take one of the coffees off your hands and then use his free hand to offer you a stabilizing hand in crossing over from the dock to the boat--just in case you decided to go swimming between the gap. "C'mon aboard."

Shelby takes the hand gladly after handing over the (theoretically) appropriate coffee. Her shoes aren't eye-catching blue today, but a tamer beige. Otherwise, they're still snakeskin, and still ridiculously high. Still, she manages them with the ease of practice. "I wasn't sure if I had to ask for permission to come aboard, so I thought it more polite to wait. This is nice. Smaller than I was expecting, though."

Nicodemus takes a sip of the coffee after you're aboard, then motions to the boat. "So, welcome aboard 'The Falcon.' Tends to be what I named all my boats in the past. It is small," he agrees. "But if you're into minimalism or don't have a lot of stuff, and live more or less alone, it's big enough. It served me well for, oh, about four or five years now. It's a good little boat. Want to see the interior?" He motions towards the still-open door.

"Sure," the Fang agrees, with a quirk of a smile for the boat's name. "Is it secure? No nosy neighbors, or anything?" She's cautious, entering the main cabin, mindful of her head and the ceiling. A beat more and she clarifies, "Can we speak freely?"

Nicodemus raises a finger, then slides the glass door closed and pulls the heavy curtain shut. He turns around. "I hate nosey neighbors, so I just move if I get one. The ones I have now.... Honestly? I don't even know their names and I think the boats on either side are vacant--too cold for most people to live on, so they're just sitting through the winter and waiting for summer to come along. But I installed these heavy curtains to keep out prying eyes and to muffle sounds and voices." He pauses, a look crossing his face briefly, before he quickly adds, "Because I like my privacy and solitude. Not because I'm a serial killer or anything like that." A faint smirk follows his words, trying not to come across as being creepy. "So it's safe to talk, sure. Just not too loud. And if you do decide to buy it, be careful if you take it out on the water. Voices carry very far across the water."

While he's deterring random passers-by Shelby takes the opportunity to poke around a bit, the beads clattering softly as she pushes them aside to look at (though not yet walk through) the hallway. "Good. Using Veil-safe language gets tiring after a while. I was hoping this would be suitable for my pack, but it looks as though it would work better as a single-occupant home. What do you think?"

Nicodemus says "It'd get cramped fast with more than two people who did not, more or less, have intimate knowledge of one another. I could see maybe three or four people using it if you put bunk beds in the back, but...." He shrugs. "There's living, and then there's living. If you planned to just hang out here all the time, you'd... I was going to say you'd be at each other's throats, yet somehow that seems appropriately inappropriate."

Shelby, checking to see if these windows do, in fact, open, flings a bright smile back over her shoulder. "True. And on larger moons sometimes the last thing we want to do is live in each others' pockets. Even a house isn't big enough then. Excuse me a moment." She ducks through the curtain for a rapid scan of the rest of the boat, calling back, "Mmm, you're right. Too small. Too bad, really - I was looking forward to living here. Ah well."

Nicodemus spreads his hands, not too concerned it's not your cup of tea and clearly not desperate to unload the vessel either. "Living on a boat mandates kind of a major lifestyle change: it's just not for everyone. Sorry it's not what you're looking for. You might--maybe--want to try looking at one of the really big ones, but they get very expensive very fast."

The Fang emerges a moment later with a shrug and too-bad smile. "Mmm, probably not. This one was right about what I thought I could charm out of some family. Looks like we'll have to keep looking at apartments instead." Still, she gives the living room another half-wistful look before finally focusing on the owner. "Changing the subject entirely, had any further contact with Mr. Lee? I sent his picture and contact info to Salem, but I haven't heard back from him yet."

"You might do well to get an apartment with a good view of Harbor Park," Nicodemus recommends. "Even if most of them tend to be red-light district shitholes. I haven't heard anything else about Mr. Lee. Why? Is there something up with him?"

"That's what we were thinking of originally," Shelby agrees. "Remember?" As for Mr. Lee, she shakes her head. "No, not that I know of. It's just odd, running into one of us completely by accident and at random, especially in a city St. Claire's size. Not that it couldn't or doesn't happen, but... Anyway, I passed along the information to the person probably most invested in the answer." More coffee punctuates the seeming finality of this conclusion.

"I remember our discussion from earlier, yes." Nick mirrors your coffee sipping action, then shrugs. "Weirder things have happened, but it might merit looking into. You want me to run a search on him? I'd need more information than just "Thomas Lee," though. There'd be tons of them out there and I'd spend weeks going down rabbit holes. Or.... Tell you what," he suggests. "If you think he merits any additional attention, and you can get a little more information out of him, let me know and I'll see what I can do with the leads you can provide me."

Shelby considers the idea for a moment, head tipped to one side like she's listening to a gramophone. "All right. Thank you. This is just the sort of thing kin are far better at," she adds with another one of her here-and-gone smiles. "I didn't want to ask, and it may turn out to be nothing, but better safe then sorry, right? I'd have checked him for Wyrm taint, except, well." There's a pause. "--You know about Wyrm taint, right? And the city?"

"I'm pretty good at finding people and looking into computer records and databases. Keep me in mind if you need help there in the future." Switching over to the topic of Wyrm taint, Nick states, "I've had the basic concepts explained to me by Mouse and Val, but not how you folks are able to sense it." He hypothesizes from your comments, "So you have trouble detecting that kind of thing in cities where there's lots of people and other random factors? It's more like a vague and lingering smell as opposed to, say, pinpoint accuracy?"

Shelby settles onto the futon for more coffee. "Yes and no. Think of Wyrm taint as - and this isn't the best analogy, so don't try to poke too many holes in it - as food coloring in a bucket of water. If the water's clear, it's easy to see where the dye is, right? You might not be able to pinpoint exactly where the dye is, but you can get a good idea. But if the water's already tinted, it makes it harder to see. The darker the water, the harder to see if more's been added." She waves a hand toward the city. "And that - any city, really - is already fairly tainted. That's part of the reason so many Garou hate and fear them."

Nicodemus settles down onto the futon as well, placing his feet on the coffee table to further take a load off. "Makes sense," he says of your red dye analogy. "I worked homicide for the SCPD for long enough to make me sick of it, so...." He pauses in thought, then claims. "There's a lot of evil out there in the city. But there's more good--or at the least ambivalence and people just doing what they need to do to get by and survive--than evil. Evil just makes more noise."

The Ragabash nods. "I agree. Unfortunately, there's no Gift to Detect Nice Person, and the Litany doesn't say anything about "Recognize people doing good wherever they live", so you get us." She half-smirks and waves a hand at her nicely-dressed self. "Ravening combat monsters who scare the crap out of at least three-quarters of the population. Good job, ancient Garou!" She hoists a sarcastic thumb to those Garou of yore and has more coffee.

Nicodemus drinks to that. He grimaces, then sympathetically claims, "I'm sure they were doing what they though was the right thing to do at the time. The benefit of hindsight, well, that belongs only to the people in the future. And then when they get it, they can't use it on themselves." He hazards an observation. "You seem like one of the more open-minded, thinking types. Not the knee-jerky rar rar rar types." He uses one hand to make airquotes as he says 'rar rar rar.'

"Too bad foresight isn't as accurate as hindsight," Shelby agrees ruefully. "And yes - the problem comes when there's too much time and energy spent defending those long-ago decisions and their consequences. But that's neither here nor there." Instead she glances over with an acknowledging nod. "Thanks. It's nurture, not nature - though I suppose there's nature in there too. I was raised as kin, not Garou. I was encouraged to see your side of things, not immediately leap to 'rip its head off' as the best answer."

"Humans are probably the most uninstinctual animal on the planet. Or, if that's not true, it certainly seems it sometimes. So I think most of what we end up as is due to nurture. Or, if not nuture directly, to how we grow, think, and train ourselves to believe." Nick looks to you quizzically. "Really? Raised as kin? They know that you'll be garou when you're born? Or before you're born? Not just when there's a sudden kerbloom of fur and claws?"

Shelby says, "We've - they've," the correction made with a grimace, "mostly erased their instincts with technology. Which mostly works better for the society in which we find ourselves, but then you get back to that argument of whether humans are a plague that needs eradicating or not." She shrugs again. "Anyway, their instincts work pretty well when confronted with a Crinos. In fact, they'll go insane if they're exposed too many times - which is yet -another- reason kin like you are so important." As for his questions, she nods. "Just after, usually. There's a rite which is supposed to mark which will be kin and which Garou. Doesn't always work, though. But if I'd been Ahroun, I wouldn't have made it to nearly eighteen before my first change and I'd likely still be back in Virginia, assuming I lived this long, of course."

Nicodemus grimaces at the comparison of humanity to a plague, but the expression goes as fast as it came. "Well, I'm glad you ended up the way you did. You're fairly likeable--congenial even--for a garou. Maybe it has something to do with being raised as kin." A pause, then a question. "You've lived on both sides of the fence. Am I doing this whole kin thing right? Any advice you could give for someone arriving really late to the fold?"

Shelby doesn't bother to hide a pleased smile, but what she says with a small self-deprecating shrug is, "Thanks; I'm a scout, not a fighter. If you ever get in deep kimchee, the person you want standing beside you is one of the Ahrouns, not me. They're the Cuisinart, I'm the hand-forged Japanese blade. Still deadly, but no whirring blades of death." Another sip of coffee and she shakes her head. "No, I think you're fine. Just remember to stick close to your tribe if you ever get weird feelings, and remember that to some Garou kin are property. Not property," she promptly corrects with a frown, "but... it's complicated. The Silver Fangs, for instance, usually do arranged marriages, even in this day and age. Some of us are lucky and marry for love, but usually not. That's just one small example."

"I consider myself to be more of a scout than a fighter, too." Nick then confesses, "Back when I was still with the SCPD, I signed up for SWAT training. Two weeks in, rapelling down a wall, I screwed up and broke my arm. Got me a one-way ticket back home and three months jockeying a computer forensics desk at the station. Fun times," he says, clearly not having found those times to have been fun. "Mouse assured me I wouldn't be considered property. I think I'm too old, ornery, rebellious, and set in my ways to think of myself as a tribe's property anyway. I like the term 'affiliation' better. But... It is kind of nice having a group to call 'family' for a change."

"Sounds great," Shelby agrees with the right amount of sarcasm. "And you're lucky, in that respect. The Glass Walkers are one of the most progressive tribes - whether you agree with that or not. If you'd ended up as, oh, Wendigo kin, you'd probably be living in a cave and exploring what spices work best with a diet of rabbit, cattail, and deer. Plus metis tend to be fairly liberal - unless, of course, they swing the other way, in which case they make the Republican party look like free-love hippies."

Shelby pauses, then smirks ruefully. "I'm doing it again, aren't I? Stereotyping."

That connent elicits a rueful, subdued smirk. Nick holds up his right hand and uses his thumb and forefinger to somatically indicate "a little bit." He shrugs, "There's always exceptions to the rules. Including this one." Paradoxical saying said, he claims, "It might be fun to give that a try for, maybe, a week or two just to get a feel for it--and maybe better be able to appreciate the luxury of a pizza delivered hot right to your door." He then hazards an observation. "You don't seem entirely.... I guess... It seems like you have some issues with your tribe's practices." A pause. "This is not an appropriate topic, is it?"

Shelby mms. "Not just the Fangs, but in all - well, it's widespread, anyway - of us. All tribes. What I object to is how some tribes, some Garou, treat their kin like precious dollies, except when they want something from them. Yes, I was going to college and then law school, and yes, the Sept would have paid a large chunk of my tuition, but does that give them the right to tell me which schools I can attend? Or blow you off when you say there's a problem with Mr. Lee?" Another shrug. "Just as an example, of course. Some Garou treat kin like they're brainless. Some don't. It's more prevalent in some tribes, but it can show up anywhere, really."

Nicodemus shakes his head, disappointed. "If you don't have freedom to make your own choices and your own decisions, you've got nothing at all." A pause as he dwells upon this a bit longer. "It would seem, to me, that intentionally mistreating kin--or even other garou--might eventually backfire massively when someone, eventually, gets to the point when they feel like their back is against the wall, they have nothing to live for, and their life is worthless. You're going to get one of two individuals then: the one that breaks and has no will left, or the one that goes down fighting. Neither, honestly, is something I would wish on anyone."

"You can get away with a lot of things if you believe you have a mandate from God," Shelby says mildly. "Up to and including justification of how you treat people, and writing off those who disagree as "aberrations"." Yes, she does the air quotes. "For the most part I don't mind being called out on my stupid behavior, especially if the moon's low. Others can't handle it, period. Shakes their world paradigm too much, or something. There are two, hmn, equal-and-opposite rules in the Litany that could apply to uppity kin - you should ask Mouse about them, or better yet, Salem. He's a Philodox. He can explain the rules to you, while I take pleasure in puncturing them."

"Religion is the last refuge of the scoundrel," Nicodemus says, as if quoting--or closely paraphrasing--someone else's words. "I'm a fan of bending rules myself. But not until I understand what the rules are, why they exist, and where the cracks are. Breaking rules just to break rules is, honestly, nothing more than a desperate cry for attention or outright stupidity." He tips his head slightly, glancing sideways at you. "I'm trying to wrap my head around you flirting with stupid behavior. And failing. You have, quite successfully, fooled me," the mage states factually.

Shelby asks, "Wasn't that Marx?" without sounding terribly invested in the answer. "Yes, exactly. That's a Ragabash thing: to get others to think about the rules and why they're there, to look at other ways to interpret things... and then get bitten when the Philodox disagree." There's enough of a dimpled smile to make unclear just how much (or if) she's joking. "Oh, you think I'm straight-laced and a line-toer? I suppose, for the most part, I am. But I've done my share of stupid things, mostly not knowing when to shut up. I wouldn't recommend going through cubhood to anyone, really. Not even my worst enemy."

"I think we all go through that phase. Lord knows I did. I just had the fortune of not going through it the same way you did." Nick pauses to dwell upon his own words. "I take that back, actually. That might have done me some good by getting my head screwed on straight a whole lot faster than it took doing on my own."

Shelby toasts him with her coffee before draining the last of it. "Congratulations. One more benefit of being kin: you won't be shot just to make a point. --Probably." She winks and is about to add more when her phone goes off; a moment of digging through her purse to find it and she grimaces at the call waiting. "I need to take this, and I should stop taking up your houseboat-selling time. Sorry it's not going to work out, and I hope you find a buyer soon."

Nicodemus gets up and opens the door for you. "I'll find a buyer soon," he says, imminently confident. "You take care."

"You too," she says, and steps through the open door as though it were only her due, though she flashes Nick another quick smile as she exits. As soon as she's outside she's on the phone, chattering away in some Slavic-sounding language, sounding alternately pleased and put-upon.

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May 2012

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