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    The Mortician and the Medium

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    Ana
    The Medium

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    The Mortician and the Medium

    Post by Ana on Sun Feb 21, 2016 8:29 pm

    The Mortician had been diligently working at his desk while the sun set, irritation burning his eyes anytime light pierced through the thick curtains of his office. People had a nasty habit of dying and causing him to actually have to take clients in order to keep his business running, and each time they did, he found himself having to work during the day, despite his wishes to sleep. As a result, dark circles had formed beneath his eyes, and he'd grown more temperamental as the days passed. He really needed to find someone to handle business during the day. Maybe he needed to talk to Mercy about doing it...

    But as he worked, an out-of-place breeze blew back a few strands of his raven hair, causing him to slowly set down his pen and look up and around the room suspiciously. He let out a heavy sigh and pushed up from his chair, crossing the room to lock his office door. Afterward, he pulled down the secret door leading to his attic and climbed up, walking into the compartment just beyond his bed.

    The breeze followed him every step of the way and blew repeatedly at his hair; the Mortician grumbled in response.

    "Will you hold on?! I've almost got it!" With an odd, powdery concoction in the palm of his hands, he drew an arcane circle upon a slab of stone on the floor of his attic and promptly lit a match, lighting the powder in a quick rush of flames. In the rising smoke stood a familiar woman who caused his gaze to soften, and even for a few brief seconds, he smiled. "Sally..."

    Her long, ghostly hair billowed around her body, from her head to her waist, a calm expression in her translucent features as she began to practically glide toward him. "Jasper," she greeted with a smile that also quickly faded. "You have a visitor in your cemetery." She drifted out of the smoke and after him as the powder continued to burn and leave a strange, wooden scent to permeate the air around him. "I have watched her; she has seen me. She's looked right at me, and she bears characteristics of one of the creatures from the stories. Do you think-"

    His incoherent grumbling and growling stopped her speech as he peered carefully out at the graveyard, the sun safely beyond the horizon and leaving in its wake the deep purples and blues of twilight. "These 'characteristics': describe them to me."

    "Her face is young, but burdened."

    "Typical for young people these days, Sally," Jasper interjected impatiently, but he was surprised to find that the apparition behind him responded in the same tone.

    "Not like this, Jasper." She drifted closer to him until she was close enough for him to feel the unnatural chill of her presence. "I have watched her from afar. She sees others like me without the incense, the powders, any of the reagents you use. She only looks and she sees. It troubles her, I can tell; she cannot differentiate between the living and the dead. The veil is dangerously thin for her."

    "That sounds like- but it can't be-"

    "Her? But I think it is." Sally's chin lifted as she spoke over his shoulder, peering out his window at the redhead trespassing through his cemetery. She looked like she'd seen better days. Her clothes were dirty, her jeans worn and starting to tear at the knees. Her jacket was ratty, torn, and (he imagined) hardly useful anymore, her hair a tangled mop. "In the stories, she returned from the Otherworld with full strands of grey in her hair, and one golden eye had turned an odd grey-blue. Yes?" Waiting for him to nod, she turned her head to look upon him with a strange smile that spoke of many emotions at once; none she spoke of openly. She only continued. "Look closely at this one. She bears the same features, but she cannot possibly be that old at all."

    When the Mortician abruptly turned on his heel and walked with purpose and urgency toward the ladder out of the attic, the apparition regarded him not with surprise, but with disappointment. "Jasper! Wait! I can follow you, but you won't be able to hear me if you..."

    But it was too late. He'd already departed from the attic, and she faded back out of sight of the typical naked eye, left only to drift unseen after him as he snuck past Mercy's room and out the funeral home as quietly as he could after throwing on his coat. Tall and lanky, he hunched down and crept with surprising agility toward the cemetery walls, inching around until he reached the gate, straining to hear gently spoken words from several meters away.

    "Why- ... -lost- ... not-..."

    Jasper sighed and dragged his hand over his face. As he scratched at the stubble along his chin, he decided to follow his instincts. So with that, he rose to a stand and braced himself against the gate that he closed with a pronounced creak, watching her spin toward him with surprise. As he'd suspected, there was no one there to talk to that he could see.

    "I'm sorry, I was just-..." As she spoke in a tone that expressed more fear over being caught than remorse, he found himself having to fight back the urge to show any expression aside from the curiosity he allowed to escape.

    "You. Kid. What's your name?" Even as he tried to speak gently, it was plainly evident that Jasper had no idea how to speak to people when he hadn't had time to think his words through.

    "Viviana."

    "Viviana... what?"

    She only stared at him through the wrought iron gate for another moment in silence. Another moment and her eyes shifted slightly to his right and past him. She was looking at something, and the upstanding hairs on the back of his neck gave him a relatively decent idea of who it was.

    Maybe this really is her...

    Waiting as patiently as he could for a response, Jasper continued to lean his forearms against the gate and above his head, staring in at her with coffee brown eyes that urged answers from her.

    She resisted. Rather than answer, she sprinted for the gate as roughly as she could as if intending to charge the gate and knock him backward so she could escape. It was a half-baked idea, but one that surprised him enough to stumble back a step before he forcefully pushed back against the gate with a grunt. It was then that he saw her up close, prominent pepper grey streaks in her otherwise brown hair and something unexplainable in her mismatched eyes. This was definitely her, and his first instinct was to try to find a way to reduce her fear. But how?

    His gaze dropped toward her jacket. He was able to see patches of skin along the arms through the fabric. How long had she worn that thing? With a sigh, he continued to brace himself against the gate, thankful that the situation seemed to be in his hands. He had her captured, to an extent. Removing his own coat, he stared quietly at her before he forced himself to speak in a lighter tone - as playfully as he could manage.

    "Viviana," he spoke as he held his coat in one hand, "you seem cold. How about we make a deal?" He sighed inwardly at the suspicion plastered all over her face. Still, he continued. "You tell me your last name and I'll give you my coat. Maybe something to eat? You hungry?" Confused by the sudden, worn-down sadness in her expression, he waited for a response.

    Even before she spoke, she reached out a hand to take his coat. Perhaps his idea had been a good one after all. "Starling." True to his word, he reached through the gate and met her hands halfway, allowing her time to wrap herself in it. "... Thanks."

    He snorted at the sight of her swallowed by it, as small as she was compared to him. But as he did, he shook his head and cautiously opened the gate. "Don't mention it, kid. C'mon. I'll get ya some food." He blinked several times as an unearthly chill blew furiously at him for every step he took toward the funeral home. Viviana, too, seemed to stare at something just beyond him. Jasper finally sighed, conceded, and gestured down the open stretch of road toward the large building surrounded by blossoming trees. "... I've never been to the cafe at the Court. Shall we?"

    "I can't afford it."

    "Did I ask you to pay your own way, Viv? C'mon. It's my treat. My idea, after all. Don't make it weird." He waited for Viviana to reluctantly catch up to him, then started off at a brisk pace. Even without his coat, the cold seemed not to bother him.


    Last edited by Ana on Sat Apr 09, 2016 6:33 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    Jasper Bellamy
    The Mortician

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    Lilies for Loved Ones

    Post by Jasper Bellamy on Tue Mar 22, 2016 9:07 pm

    An unexpected combination of tolerance and fondness formed between Jasper and Viviana. His running into her became a weekly occurrence, sometimes to a point of intentionally waiting in the cemetery for her to show up. She was naturally wary, yes, and often wondered what his angle was – but after so many months of these late night discussions, she came to determine that the mortician was simply a lonely night owl.

    When it came to the nights, she wasn't far from the truth. When he wasn't watching over Mercy or tending to the various tasks that gave him some semblance of purpose, he was terribly lonely.

    So, they often sat and talked, and Jasper would quietly watch the way her eyes occasionally followed after something he himself could not see. He never asked her about it, and he did his best to never cause her to feel pressed to explain herself. Perhaps that was part of why she continued to come back.

    Viv told him all about Kieran and his accident, as well as their life in general before that moment. He'd gradually come to earn her trust with some aspects of her life, but with others, Jasper found her to be just as guarded as he was.

    That night, it appeared it was the medium who awaited the mortician. She'd taken her place and seated herself on the bench in the garden's gazebo. It had become a welcome sight to Jasper, who had allowed it to progress from trespassing to an open invitation for her to visit the graves anytime, so long as she continued to behave.

    As he often did, the large husky lingered near the old hearse as the mortician exited his home and rounded the corner toward the cemetery with a small collection of flowers in hand. He was greeted by the dog's low, threatening growling, his teeth bared and his ears lowered. Jasper looked upon him with exasperation.

    “Nice to see you too, Hawksley.” His tone remained flat; he was unamused by the dog's hostility, even if the more rational part of his mind understood it. He was an unnatural being who was spending too much time around the husky's companion for his liking. In that respect, Jasper was a threat.

    It occurred to him just how easily he could have ended the poor creature's life if he so chose it – if he himself was not as merciful as he'd become. He could have made Hawksley disappear, writing it off as a stray who'd been snatched up by animal control or otherwise taken. He didn't, of course. Instead, he eyed the dog with composed curiosity as it continued to snarl through its brave face, inching toward Jasper as he stood on the sidewalk and took a couple of sideways steps toward the cemetery where Viv waited.

    Hawksley lunged.

    To counter, Jasper turned and hissed, exposing in that brief moment his fangs with a threatening flicker of his eyes.

    The husky whimpered, cowered, and backed down once more, crawling underneath the hearse and staring out from beneath it at him.

    The mortician sighed and continued into the graveyard. As he rounded that final corner and Viviana came into view through the fog, he smiled and reached out the hand that held a small bouquet of lilies.

    “Miss Starling,” he called out to get her attention, his smile fading into a smirk as she turned, noticed the item he carried, and gave him a puzzled look. “I thought you might like to leave something for Kieran.”

    As she accepted the flowers, a hint of surprise played across her features. “I don't think I've ever had a chance to leave him proper flowers...”

    His hand, now freed, reached around to leave his arm wrapped around her, his hand grasping her shoulder as he led her toward the boy's plot; they'd walked there frequently enough for him to remember which one it was by then. “I'm sure he'll understand the delay.”

    Their footsteps were steady and quiet, and as they reached Kieran's grave, he relinquished his hold on her and watched her move to kneel before the headstone, carefully placing the lilies into the vase that'd been anchored into the ground. As Viviana remained crouched before the marker with a thoughtful look on her face, Jasper stepped quietly behind her and placed his left hand lightly atop her head.

    “Not that I'm complaining, but... why?” Her body began to turn and lift back to a stand. She stared up at him, and she watched him play it off with a wry smile.

    “My daughter keeps plenty of flowers on hand for services and people who can't afford them for their loved ones these days,” he replied with a hint of amusement in his voice. “I think this is the exact purpose these were supposed to serve.”

    The two stared at each other in silence for several seconds before surprise took Jasper. He found himself pushed back two steps and enveloped in a startlingly tight hug. Stunned into inaction, it wasn't until he felt an unnatural chill brush along behind him that he snapped out of it and gingerly drew both arms around the small brunette.

    “I don't understand...” His muttering caused him to furrow his brow. His chin dipped enough for him to look down toward her, only to find her cheek pressed to his chest. “Why?”

    “No one's been this nice to me since Kieran died...”

    Jasper's chest tightened; this caused a turning sensation in his stomach. As he struggled for the words to say, he brought a hand up to pet along her hair. It took him several beats of her heart before he managed to think of something to say. “... People are cruel, Viv. I'm no different.”

    “You're wrong,” she countered without hesitation. Her head turned and her chin lifted to look directly at him. “I've met horrible people. You're not one of them.”

    “And how are you sure?”

    “Simple.” She pulled back to look at him. In the moonlight, he looked practically porcelain to her, his skin alabaster and untouched, yet lived-in. Onyx-hued hair and dark brown eyes offset this with an alarming contrast. “If you had ulterior motives, you would have acted on them by now.”

    Jasper's shoulders rose and fell in a heavy sigh. He released her and stepped back, instead walking toward the large, ominous tree in the corner of the cemetery; he could feel her following him. “These 'horrible people' you've run into haven't been as subtle as I'm used to.” Her silence proceeded to hang in the air like a giant question mark, imploring that he continue. “Slow-burning deceit is the most painful. Be careful, Cherry.” He stared meaningfully at her, even as his nickname for her drew a smile to her face. Sidestepping, he moved to lean his back against the wall next to the tree, mindful of headstones as he maneuvered.

    As he watched her, Viv closed the distance between herself and the tree. One of her hands reached up to rest against its trunk; her eyes flitted each of the large limbs protruding from either side of its base like arms, outreached as if poised to strike at any moment. He took advantage of her silence to try and bend her ear; something tugged in his chest as he did.

    “I... know what you are, Viviana.”

    Her entire body froze. He stared calmly at her while she began to tremble; her head turned and she did her best to appear unshaken, but he knew better.

    “I don't know what you're talking about.”

    Jasper thought his words over carefully. In the end, he spoke a half-truth from his place against the wall. Her stance was defensive. He wouldn't approach her this time. “I've watched you. I've watched you follow things with your eyes that I can't even see.” This seemed to relax her, at least enough to turn to better face him while he continued. “I know you come here to feel less alone, and I wonder if perhaps at least part of you hopes you'll see Kieran walk through here one day...” By then, he sensed an odd, overwhelming feeling of relief within her. His body remained still as she made her way to him. Refusing to move from his place, she was mere inches from him before she stopped.

    “You don't think I'm crazy?”

    His head shook; one of his hands lifted for his palm to press to her cheek. It never ceased to surprise her how cold his hands were. “Cherry...” Allowing his voice to trail off, he sighed and brushed his thumb along the apple of her cheek. “You know where I work, don't you? You know what I do? I've felt and seen things. I believe it. More than that, I know. As a matter of fact, I-...”


    Last edited by Jasper Bellamy on Sat Apr 09, 2016 6:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    Jasper Bellamy
    The Mortician

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    Hate Me

    Post by Jasper Bellamy on Tue Mar 22, 2016 9:17 pm

    She stared up at him in both surprise and confusion. Her own lips parted as she waited for him to finish his abruptly cut-off sentence. When it never came, her eyebrows knitted together. “You what?”

    Quickly shaking his head, he withdrew his hand from her and cleared his throat. “Nothing. It's nothing.” His chest expanded momentarily as he breathed in to speak. “But you know not everyone will believe you. I can already tell that much. You don't have to hide these things from me, at least, but you do still need to be careful. I don't want anything to happen to you.”

    As he spoke these words, he realized that the sentiment wasn't terribly different from his protective nature when it came to Mercy. He'd wanted little more than his daughter's safety and comfort from the moment he decided to take her in as his own. What had begun as an exercise of calculated pity toward Viviana had become genuine care. He could practically hear the nagging voice of his ghostly companion when next they spoke.

    “Jasper,” she started as she came to lean into the wall beside him, “I can take care of myself. I've done just fine on my own so far.”

    “No. Viviana. Listen to me.” He waited for her to look at him once more before he continued. “There might be a moment where you find people who you feel are just like you. It's going to be tempting to stick to them, but don't. Stay away from them; stay as far away as you can.” Sighing at her scoffing and the shaking of her head, his hands and arms acted of their own volition. Before he even could process what he was doing, he'd tugged him in against her, one arm wrapped around her, another protectively cradling the back of her head with his hand. “I know it doesn't make sense. Just... don't get involved with that. It sounds like a lonely existence. I know it's lonely, but it's for your own good.”

    Viv seemed to be stunned into silence at first – just as much as he had been when she'd surprised him with her own affectionate gesture. Finally finding her words, she looked up at him, her stare nearly dumbfounded. “You... do care?” Her heart thundered in her chest as he nodded. And before she could rethink her decision, she quickly reached her hands up to the back of his head and neck and tugged him down, pressing her lips to his.

    His eyes went wide, then slowly closed. For several beats, he reciprocated, his arms tightening around her to bring her as close as he could. Aside from this, he did not push her any further. Rather, a moment of clarity struck him and caused his heart to suddenly run colder.

    She's vulnerable.

    She's lonely.

    She's one of them...


    As he suddenly pulled away from her, he gazed down into her mismatched eyes and swallowed the lump in his throat.

    ... This is asking for trouble. I have to keep Mercy safe.

    Unwrapping his arms from her, his hands instead moved to her shoulders, turned, and gently pushed her back. “I shouldn't. I can't.”

    “I don't understand...”

    “I know you don't, but I can't do this.” He moved in the opposite direction and started to walk carefully toward the entrance of the cemetery once more, unsurprised to find her following him. “It never turns out well for me. It wouldn't for you this time either.”

    Viviana couldn't help but laugh incredulously as she trailed after him. Reaching out for his wrist, she called out to him even then. “Jasper, it's not like I'm saying we should get married.” She was startled to find that he recoiled from her reach. “...What?”

    “Find someone closer to your age and someone who can help you take care of yourself. That isn't me. Even something temporary with me would be bad for you. Do you understand?”

    She frowned at him. “I don't understand why it would be that bad a thing to just see where things go. I can tell you like me either way. Why are you afraid?”

    “I'm not afraid,” Jasper replied indignantly. Continuing toward the gates, he sighed at her following footsteps. “Besides, you don't know me. Not really.”

    “That's because you haven't been ready to tell me. We don't have to know everything right away, you know. Half the fun is finding out over time.”

    “I have nothing for you to find out that's 'fun.' My life revolves around my work and my daughter. I can't make room for anyone else-”

    “You have so far..”

    “This is different.”

    “It's not! I can feel-”

    “I don't want you, Cherry!”

    His plainly stated words caused them both to stop dead in their tracks. As if suddenly anchored to where she stood, Viviana went entirely still and stared after him with wide, glistening eyes. Turning slowly on his heel to face her, he met her heartbroken stare with a firm expression of his own.

    When she finally spoke again, the look in her eyes hadn't changed – but her flat tone was cold and unwavering.

    “I don't think it's appropriate for you to call me that, Mr. Bellamy.” Doing nothing to hide the hurt in her stare, she regained her ability to move and did so, moving in his direction then shoving past him and out of the cemetery toward the hearse where Hawksley still hid.

    Jasper sighed and rubbed his temples as he was left standing there in silence. His head bowed and shook, that unnatural breeze returning and making contact with the back of his head. This only caused him to grumble.

    He knew what he'd done was hurtful, and his overly vocal conscience yelled this at him while his countenance once more became that same grouchy exterior he used in order to protect himself. But ultimately, he'd done his best to bend her ear. With any luck, Viviana would listen to him and stay away from others like her.

    Beyond her guarded exterior, she was a nice woman. He didn't particularly want her to fall prey to a culling she didn't even see coming. She was better off not growing any closer to him than she already nearly had been.

    He couldn't deal with another Sally, let alone one that would put his daughter at risk.

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