1964-05-28 - Collecting Names
Summary: One retreat leads to another and Rosemarie learns more about Lucian than she ever would have expected.
Related: Pride of Place
Theme Song: None
lucian rosemarie 

Upstairs, the mezzanine of Lux is a world unto itself. The masquerade party conducted by someone who would rather not be known to the general public as spending his company's cash on a profligate outcome. Liquor and food fill the air along with music, a fair bit of laughter, and occasional dancing. The darkness of shut doors and lowered lights do not welcome people straying in.

Lucian emerges from one of those nooks, a door firmly shut behind him. The bartender aspect of him is absent entirely as he keeps to the shadows which coat the ground and the walls. A man his complexion and height shouldn't melt into the dark, but a good many shouldn'ts apply to Lucifer Morningstar. Not the least of which is who. He walks down the stairs, hands in his pockets, eyes narrowed in thought. Past him skims another waitress off to take care of the revelers, earning a healthy tip for quick delivery of more frozen berries inside a creampuff the size of a baseball.

He ventures lower, and turns down the hall. A silhouette on her own is unmistakable; he forgets very few, even when dismissing them with a glance. "Running away from your date?" A dry comment follows as he walks straight up to her. There is no preamble, no rush, no hint he might like to chat. This simply is, face in shadow, eyes glittering chips of lazuli licked by flame. "The offer for a cab stands."


Powdering her nose was the perfect excuse to slip away from the booth and its bewildering conversation at hand. Magic? …she thought she'd left all that behind. The newer issue takes precedence, that of the foreign touch within her own blood. Leaving the ladies' room must occur, for she can't hide there forever, but she doesn't leave it much more composed than when she arrived.

Cue the arrival of a certain cad about town and it gives her much more reason to be less than composed. Gasping and turning on the spot, she finds herself looking up into that enigmatic barkeep's very…bright eyes, oh my gracious heavens! Rosemarie near to swallows her own tongue as she stiffens up, a rabbit flattening herself to the field-grass in a prayer for safety.

"N-N-Not m-my d-d-date," she has the wherewithal to stutter out, tongue slipping to wet her upper lip in pure, undiluted nervous action. The Otherness in her blood swirls with the softness of eider-down, lurking beneath her skin with the tell of itch.


A gasp? Does she clutch a rosary? No doubt Lucian would have a few things to say about that. His face remains much in shadow, the rest of him wicking it up even though his pale skin at the chest along the line of his collar is still visible. The woman stiff and retreating from him warrants little change. Shoulders aren't a perfectly straight line. Thinned eyes travel over Rosemarie, maybe measuring if she stole complimentary soaps from the washroom in her pockets. It happens.

"Collecting strays that follow you home?" he dryly asks.


Her hands do pull the clutch-purse closer to her chest, nails digging into it. Blunt human nails, mind you.

"H-H-He's a f-friend." She risks a glance down the hallway, towards the open room where the two gentlemen likely still discuss metaphysical aspects of illusory charms and things beyond her understanding. "H-H-He's g-g-got…f-feathers too. W-Wings." It seems near to betrayal to admit this aloud and Rosemarie's quick to meet his eyes again with a sudden steeling of her spine. "D-Don't t-t-tell." As if she has any right to ask this of the barkeep, but there's an attempt at a stern librarian's frown to accent her request. Nay, demand…?


|ROLL| Lucian +rolls 1d100 for: 29


"Are you sure he isn't your cousin twice removed?" Lucian can throw a line when necessary. He doesn't put any force behind it, because with this lamb, essentially everything hits in the wool. He leans against the wall slightly, elbow to shoulder in contact with the polished surface. "Feathers and wings, Miss Piper? Am I your vault of dirty little secrets, or perhaps there's something else you might like to tell me?" There is nothing out of the ordinary regarding him, nothing at all. Nothing but the solid, unblinking stare delivered back at Rosemarie. "How did you come by this interesting young man? I doubt he fell out of the sky."

And if he did, there's a flaming sword somewhere that Lucian briefly wishes he had. Briefly. His damn sword. And Maz….


Another little gasp and that frown deepens. Indeed, she's terribly easy to shear, this little lamb, and a chunk of wool falls to the metaphorical floor. Wordless, she moves her mouth like her tongue has disappeared entirely before scoffing. The Otherness is buoying a good portion of this sudden turn-about in behavior. It is a more simple thing; tit for tat, not-yet-revealed crests furl up high.

"I st-stopped him from g-g-getting mugged," she replies as calmly as she can manage. "Under h-his c-coat, w-wings. Feathers. We aren't r-r-related. And y-y-you're being awful," she adds, a weak jab in his direction kept polite for her upbringing.


A man with wings under a coat being mugged. "Let me do the math. You meet a winged stranger. You bring him here, and he's mooning after you like a jogger seeing a piece of chocolate cake." A hungry jogger who completed the New York Marathon and the Boston Marathon, back to back. Twice. His tone carries a proper balance of inquiry and mild disbelief. "So he very well may have fallen out of the sky. Though not your brand of sky, is he, Miss Piper?"

The question stands between them.

What doesn't stand between him is the coalesced shadows painted in thick swatches around them both, and none more tenebrous than the folded nine foot double peak behind him as he tips his head ever so slightly. By rights, given the total lack of light, his face ought to be shadowed. It is. Totally. Except those eyes, bright as galactic cores.

"Questioning a patron's intent isn't awful," he says, off the cuff, measurably considering.

Midnight shifts six inches to the left, and right, heightened and widened to the flare of movement. It's not a trick of the light. There is no light moving, nothing accounting for the silhouette. The darkness is entirely alive.


Said 'Miss Piper' draws up thin and tall as the shorebird inspiring said patron-name. How did…oh god. Mortification burns her ears, cheeks, down her neck even in shadow-darkened blush beneath her freckles. He drives the observation home like a knife.

And that's even before her brain catches up to the fact that her vision is calmly reporting that there are what appear to be wings in thick blackness. Big wings. Very big wings. By rights, they should not be physically present, coalesced to solid matter, but that matters not.

Like a light-switch flicked, the Otherness surges to the protection of its host, currently paralyzed by the glow of summer-blue gone celestially bright, nocturnal nightshine in eyes. She half-doubles over as her own pinions in twilight hues burst out and mantle wide behind her. Dual crests, one behind each ear, displace carefully-coifed locks of mouse-brown hair in a huge fan of avian displeasure, and she bumps against the wall in retreat. Looking up at him means raptor-gold irises in place of cinnamon-brown and her hands curl into peachy talons, tips poking at her palm as she resists the primal urge to swat out at him.

"Oh my g-g-god," Rosemarie breathes, simply staring wide-eyed, even as the smaller, more stream-lined wings flutter against the club's walls, one rather stuck at an awkward downwards angle for her weight pinning it.


Feathers erupting from everywhere, it's the newest New York fashion for spring 1964. The addition of the headpiece is, admittedly, a bit much for most people to pull off. Cultural appropriation is no issue, at least, and barely recognised in the nascent days of the civil rights movement. Squishing up against the wall to its end means going down the hallway a few feet and possibly knocking over a very stylish pot on a metal plant table, or sitting in an alcove with a metallic image of some kind hanging up for an artistic refuge. Not the sort inspiring the artist or the interior decor, like this.

No one is coming. No one is coming at all.

"Yes, I've been called that too on many a time, and I can assure you, little bird, I am absolutely not." Lucian's voice holds all the exquisite range and timbre to someone who sings suns into being, the first voice responding back to the Creator's impulse and will.

The blond rakes his hand through his hair, displacing the golden tousled tendrils into absolute perfection, a few still spilled over his arrogantly high cheekbone, resting on his forehead. "I've given you a name. Say it, Miss Falcroft."

Rather than the bastard's name. It has no business here. No place, no right.

The thoughts swirling in his head bring forth the atramentous foundations of night billowing around him like a cloak, sweeping to and fro, filling the space in a way that just shouldn't be possible. But when did volume ever boy rules of history, or physics, or sheer sense? The skim of the longest pinions might reach to the Moon for all anyone here knows. Even more confounding, seen edge on, the feathers aren't black. Not at all.

Each one is crafted of such fine light, in such thin arrays of photons, they're nearly transparent to the eye. But they are crafted not of shadow, but the absence of shadow, the inversion of the void.

"When you gain a hold of yourself, I do believe introductions are in order. We wouldn't want any faults with the hospitality of Lux. Especially its rarer patrons."

Like the goddamn Devil.


Her chest rises and falls in marked pants, adrenaline warring in so very many actions never coming to fruition. Running is useless. Fighting is useless, for all the Otherness and its plucky battle-lust wants to bloody the barkeep's nose, translucent wispy wings of silver-spun anti-void or not. Rosemarie can't find the volume of voice to scream. God, he's…overwhelming. Her knees are jellied and it takes the lip of the alcove to keep her from sliding to the floor and rutching up that sundress to a point of impropriety.

Say it, he commands of her by surname in a voice that resonates within her very marrow and blood and serves to simultaneously humble and electrify her. Dark pupils betray her utterly even as she whispers weakly, "Lucian Venere," an offering to placate the magnificently-awful personality before her, around her, threatening to consume her in a way. Her wings still mantle, stubbornly projecting Shi'ar displeasure at the surrounding of the night around them. They shiver, primaries rustling against the wall, against her legs, pale and long in the weak light.

Gain hold of herself? That's not happening, no anytime soon. Introductions? …oh my god, why does that have the taste of a leather glove set to crack against cheek?


Go ahead, try. Otherness, won't you be cute. Like a baby bird closing its beak around the nose of a well-meaning zookeeper, or a deer, it's only bound to go downhill from there for the wee creature flapping about. How far a fall would it be before she hit bottom?

The darkness goes crashing down around them, exactly as before, the ruddy hues of Lux defined by their absence in this cast of monochrome. His moody guest with her entreaty of saying his name that way, in a particular cadence, will win no awards in retrospect. But at least she answered, and the drifting, razor edges of his wings snap back behind him. The undulating veils smell of the evening sky and the hearts of the cosmic webs, the great Pillars of Creation in their superheated dust collapsed into a filament about twenty microns across. He's not impressed by actual Shi'ar deathbird people flapping about at him. Their lesser offspring fails to dent the impression much one way or another.

"Better. This is neutral ground. If your acquaintance fails to acknowledge that, Maz will see he doesn't overstay his welcome."


"D-Don't. N-N-N-No M-Maz," she manages from the alcove, also attempting a fleeting glare. It's a glancing blow, a feint of an attempt at impressing upon the seriousness of her own feelings in the matter. The Otherness, in turn, is bolstered by this.

Plucky little thing, isn't she, when surrounded by the gentle arc of both wings. Their color returns to twilight-blue rather than midnight-azurine, brightened by the return of Lux's lurid lighting.

"D-Don't," Rosemarie repeats, gaining her feet with a visible wobbling having nothing to do with rum. Talons dig into the wall on each side of the alcove and leave thin indents to keep her upright, apologies — their natural curvature ends in brutal scythed tips. Those wings, called 'perfectly delicate' by the other red-feathered being back in the lounge, whump the air once, stubborn…and stupid, to put it bluntly. Angry Shi'ar mutagenic symbiote is angry.


Perfectly delicate feathers beloved by the red feather being need to be contrasted against a great many things. Like the priceless vestiges of immortality of his own, spun to details. "Don't, Miss Falcroft? If he's not mortal, then I have a very specific responsibility to assure he knows the rules as they apply to my patrons and this establish. For its own protection, rather than some amusement on my part." He isn't going to explain himself further because nothing requires him to do so, and he isn't in a mood to fight with a bird in a girl's clothing. Or at least, not the symbiote flapping around angrily.

Though have no doubt, those hooded eyes are seeing with terrible clarity, and there is a hint of the restless sparks around him. Age old experience doesn't let the expression of fire come to the fore, though they might wish to. All the light in the area is bending to him anyways, simmered down as he pulls on it. "And if he happens to be a scientific marvel or one of the many permutations of mankind to walk this planet, what makes you think I have any interest in bothering him? He hasn't committed a sin for what he is."


"Th-Then w-w-why d-do I g-get the s-suspicion that y-you mean s-something else?" She can't be blamed too much for being so spitefully defensive. After all, she was just pushed to feathering by a superior demonstration of the very aspects that she so recently discovered and that make her so very singular in her way. So very alone…but not anymore. Good lord, not anymore indeed, twice over in such a short time.

Rosemarie quivers again, and while the arcing crests remain spread high, giving her height and presence, the wings fold in around her, drawing smaller and yet no less protective. She's not hiding, more…bulwark-ing. "L-Lucian." There's a plaintive note to the name spoken again. Focus on me, not on him.


Imagine twenty people with feathers. There might be that many, even if the Lilim doesn't have any. Don't ask what her gifts are.

His wings are equally mantled, rolled back out of the way, rather than spread wide. Their very incandescent darkness fades out of sight, but still the darkness shifts as necessary to accommodate him. Rather unlike Rosemarie, he seems to have little trouble. Controlling those elements is easier. He steps forward, probably well aware that she is cornered short of running past. "Are you suggesting I'm going to savage him and leave his broken body somewhere in a dumpster? And here I thought you might have assumed a little better of me. The more things change, humanity never does." His eyes flicker indigo flame, intensifying by a magnitude enough to cast light if he wishes. He stops, putting his hand on the wall and assessing her.

There is nothing but the blazing arrogance of a universe's lifetime, the maker of creation lacking not an ounce of his pride. "Some enjoy killing and maiming. I am not one of them. And if it mattered… it wouldn't be fatal to him anyways, though he'd find returning here considerably harder, if he was on the black list. So. You may concern yourself about absolutely nothing, Rosemarie Falcroft, except testing my patience."

It might be a threat. It's delivered so flat, there probably isn't any hostility other than the truth prickling.

Her suspicions can be what they will. A movement becomes a figure, resolved into black pants and a fitted shirt, spite in perfect proportions. "Lucifer?" Mazikeen's eyes are cold as a shark's as they mark Rosemarie. Well. Damn.


There's no darting around him now, not without coming within easy stretch of a clothes-lining arm or even disrupting the graceful plumage of those translucent wings, in which the act itself might be considered a sin. Rosemarie quails, absolutely, the angle of her bent knees and off-kiltered balance meaning nothing else is optional but to settle back on the ledge of the alcove again. It also means the possibly cramping of the major joint of her wings within it, attempting to expand out and finding themselves stymied.

Oh come ON, host, you have NO battle prowess, you let him CORNER YOU. Thus would be the complaint of the Otherness.

She opens her mouth again and stutters a few syllables before falling silent. There's no point. There's no winning. Those raptor-gold eyes avert to one side, a shoulder curling up in dismissal via nuances of frame. Thus, they flick up towards the sudden appearance of…

…oh sweet Jesus, NO. Those proud fans of azurine plumes behind each ear slowly fall flat to perfect mirrored horizontal stacking, bluff deflating as the Shi'ar battle-blood concedes that two verses one is less than fair, in this instance. Her exhale is a shivering, whisper-screech of sound and she curls her hands up into her bosom. Even her knees tuck up, legs crossed at the ankles off the ground.

…Lucifer? She dares a look to the man possibly being addressed. "…Lucian?" More ghost of a name than actual query, her brain misfiring in shivering overload.


There might be a hope of her escape by melding with the wall or hoping the floor opens up. Such swallowings prove uncommon. Sometimes they might not even be unknown, a gift to spare some saint from horrors inflicted on her by her conscience.

Not happening now.

Lucian does not precisely loom. Even he can read the emergence of the golden bird staring up at his brilliant aspect, and recognize the primal nature of a cornered being. Neither does he retreat. Nothing much makes this being retreat other than a need for a better vantage. His finger rubs over the cuticle of the thumb, almost cutting in. If he had her talons, that might be bloody work.

Mazikeen swivels to fall in step behind Lucian's right side. Her silhouette cuts a thin profile balanced on her heeled boots, fit so neatly against his shoulder. Add a few layers of plate mail and it wouldn't be hard to imagine his second in a battlefield, shorn of greenery, dust and the tang of blood and sweat on the dusty air. Magnitudes yet surveying the destruction of creation, violence and battle. If she's wearing a skirt, both will be subject to the indignity. Rosemarie's, that is.

Dark gravity fires between them both. A quick discussion in a language tantalizing familiar and so not rattles between them. A quiet rage, a burning response. The narrowing of Maz's eyes, his smirk. Whatever it is, they settle in about thirty seconds.

"Yes?" asks the blonde, carelessly graceful even in victory.


Her golden eyes treat the brief conversation, whatever the topic and whatever frustratingly-unknown language it's in, like a tennis tournie. Back — and forth — smash — return — game, set…match.

Being addressed again has the weight to cause another faint flinch, a drawing closer of wings about herself. The name itself isn't too far off from the one she knows — knew? — him by first, acquaintances as they are. In the back of her mind, beneath the tension now humming through her nerves live-wire-hot, she's considering: dart for the hallway or the ladies' room? Open space vs the threat of Mazikeen following her within.

"L-Lucifer?" It's all she can manage, an brassy airy echo of the sultry server's earlier address.


Fencing more than tennis when two opponents are equally seasoned and experienced with one another, cruel in their cuts and vicious in their explosive assaults across the piste of a few feet. Verbally their spars are no less unkind than knights on the tourney field. Yet even the tone has an easy candor to it, old familiarity and respect braided.

Mazikeen's mouth is a rictus, her eyes pits in the darkness of the hall that lends no warmth or colour to her dusky face. All the wire-taut readiness of her body means to emerge with the slightest provocation. A shift of weight and the lunge might be someone's last. Even if those pants couldn't possibly hold a weapon. It won't matter. She is the weapon.

His loose golden hair in flames and face in deep shadow, Lucian is a fallen god crafted by circumspect sculptors to rouse horror and adulation. Maybe they weren't sure which upon choosing the chisel and selecting the block. His arrogant mouth curls and no warmth shines in those beautifully bright eyes, luminous in their copper-shot depths of a hot, long night. Summer blue to indigo covers parts of a spectrum humanity cannot see, much less even name. The man who danced on the Pillars of Creation for joy can, at this moment, regard unequivocally the woman hiding in a niche a few feet with him. "Yes?"


Two names for one face. What on earth…?

"W-Which is it-t-t-t?" Rosemarie manages, even as a curious light-headed feeling stirs across her psyche. Not so much a stutter anymore, but a shiver brought on by adrenaline burning quickly through reserves. Tucking her hands beneath her armpits staves off cold rather than the chance of an errant swat with talons. The wings seem to make one last rustling of resistance, an avian flip of the finger, before slinking away. The disappearance is impossible to the mortal; like as not, someone's seen this trick before. The proud crests behind each ear vanish away as well, leaving her with simply those aureate raptor eyes nearly shuttered away behind dark lashes that flutter once. She puts perfectly normal fingertips to her brow, reaching out to the wall of the alcove as if to steady herself. "I-I'm f-feeling a b-bi…" The palm intended to stop the forwards cant of her torso simply brushes by it. Tipsy-tipsy, down she goes, all loose joints and a body simply too worn from the inability to process the whole event.


"Both," says Lucian. He taps his finger against his hip, the easy contrapposto posture of every classical bit of marble evident in the way he stands. His smile doesn't exist in that moment, and his grip on the ephemeral darkness collapses on itself a moment later. Oh, her truth as Rosemarie hears it will be branded there, surely, memory, scarred in the carved lines of Lucifer and Lucian.

Mazikeen bursts into movement when the woman tips forward. Off the ledge, and thumping for the ground. Lucian pivots to let the woman past even as her open palm shoves him aside, like this might be a detonation attack. He doesn't much rebound from the wall. The dark warrior drops into a crouch, about ready to lash out in a defensive kick high under the jaw to knock away a blow. It seems unlikely to happen.


The boneless slump is, at this point, a simple last notation in the moment. The librarian has no idea of where her body lands or the ability to consider it. A faint is a biological blessing, the mind allowing for potential reset from over-firing of nerves. Long limbs make for a mildly awkward catch, should it happen, but somehow, that sundress manages a sense of decorum and doesn't rutch up, lose a shoulder, or be shifted to an obscene extent. Any skin touched is chilled, as if she stood outside in the winter for long enough to risk trouble, and even while unconscious, she shivers.


Mazikeen hisses a warning sound through her teeth. She has to grab Rosemarie before the librarian collides with the floor and causes more questions. An arm loops around the woman gone splat and she hoists her, support wound about her waist. "Stupid mortals. Fool idiots that have no restraint. Make it go away?"

Lucifer raises his chin. "We cannot simply make a human go away. Not with the two out there, and this is a respectable establishment."

A look of distaste crosses Mazikeen's face. "Then call a cab?"

"Check her purse for the address, and it was a bit of unfortunate delicacy in constitution. Earl's job. He will know what to do," the angel murmurs. "Oh. And remind him I'll dismantle him personally if he fails to return her intact to the address mentioned. Ophanim sometimes need the nudge."


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