An Offer She Can Refuse, But Should She?

[Lukas] Tuesday morning and there’s a note in Sarita’s mail cubby: Grab coffee tonight, 10pm? I can drive. Provided she accepts, here they are now, pulling up on the curb on Grant, a block or so from the heart of the Mile. Lukas steps out first, glancing westward along Grant for a moment before turning toward Michigan Ave. There’s snow in the gutters, snow on the curb, snow on the buildings and snow in the sky.

“Just around the corner,” he says of the cafe, button his overcoat up for the short walk nonetheless. It’s bitterly cold.

[Sinclair] [for a split second when i logged in everything was black serif text on white. i had an SEaChat flashback.]

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She does not accept! Scene over! …oh wait, no that’s not right. She does accept, and so they find themselves right where we just mentioned. Sarita slips out of the car, looking around as they get out and rolling her shoulders to resettle her duster. She’s still hating the cold. Always will. But she’s getting used to it. hey, it’s better now than a week ago, so there you have it.

“Cool,” she says, flexing her fingers to get circulation pumping preemptively. Yes, cool. Hah hah, a pun. Leave her alone, it’s the middle of the week. Your jokes would be running short too. She moves to walk with Lukas, letting him lead the way.

[Sinclair] There’s a figure waiting outside the cafe for them. Waiting for them, it’s obvious, because one of them is her packmate. Waiting there because, well. He’s her packmate. She could track him across the city by thought if she had to. When she asked him tonight what he was up to, sounding bored herself, it was more a pulse of query, a nudge, than words themselves. That is how Sinclair’s mind works, when it touches the minds of her packmates. For a Galliard whose ‘tales’ are given like reports rather than songs, inwardly she is far more primal than her appearance could ever come close to being.

And some days, it is very primal indeed. She hasn’t seen much of Sarita, but didn’t seem disinclined to joining them for some …whatever. Coffee. Cognac in it, knowing Lukas. She hasn’t been around him much since he got back from Stark Falls, either.

The woman outside the cafe is in her early twenties, a smattering of freckles across her cheeks more evident with the lack of a tan. She remembers where she was around this time last year. She tries not to. She tries to make her body forget but knows that it can’t, and it won’t, and that by her own making this is so: every patch of ink on her skin is hidden now by cloth of some kind, warmth of some kind, but she can always feel the marks. Her hair is long, straight, and wheat-colored; her eyes are blue, like Katherine’s and like Lukas’s, but not like theirs, too — they have a searing, percing quality. Sinclair does not. Looking in her eyes is as easy as looking at the sky on a drowsy summer day.

She’s wearing a pair of black suede boots adorned with a few buckles here and there, lined with cream-colored faux fur. Her jeans are tucked into them, and she’s moved on from Army Coats these days: underneath her black peacoat is a red hoodie, a splash of bright color down her shoulders. She’s got a slim black scarf wrapped around her neck, and a pair of red earmuffs, black fingerless gloves.

When she does see them, she ambles over and, circling around behind Lukas, grabs his shoulders and jumps on his back as though she is either going to demand a piggy back ride or force him to wrestle her off. One or the other.

Her pocket whirrs.

[Lukas] Lukas’s mouth tilts wryly at the joke. “My packmate,” he mentions, “might be joining us.” He taps his temple. “She radioed to ask where I was a little while ago.”

Not exactly what happened — something far more implied and subtle than that — but all the same, they round the corner and there Sinclair is. Jumped on, Lukas neither wrestles her off nor quite deigns to give her a piggyback ride, though he does grip her arms with his hand and duck his head to pretend to gnaw on her. Gnarrr, he says.

“This is Sinclair,” he introduces then. “Sinclair, this is Sarita. She’s new-ish in town. I asked Sarita to grab coffee with me because — well, I liked what I saw from you so far.” Mid-sentence, he goes to addressing Sarita directly as she becomes the focus of conversation. “I wanted to get to know you better, maybe invite you to run with us.”

At the cafe now, he stops and pulls the door open — Sinclair still hanging off his neck, possibly. He nods Sarita in first, then follows.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She notices Sinclair when they approach the cafe, recognizing her from the bar the other night with Katherine. She grins to the other woman raising two fingers to her brow and flicking her wrist forward in a salute as they head inside. “FYI, if I’m about to be kidnapped and ransomed? Just don’t scuff my coat with the zip ties.” She winks and comes up.

When Lukas does introductions she nods a little…and then Lukas drops a bombshell of sorts on her. She blinks, a bit surprised by that. “Oh. Well…okay, cool. I’m all about the getting to know you.”

She slips inside with a smile of thanks to Lukas, rubbing her hands for circulation again when they get inside. She looks over the place to get the lay of the land and find her eyes drawn to the menu. She starts looking it over while the other two come in behind her.

[Lukas] He laughs to see her surprise — “Sorry. I tend to be blunt about these things. I don’t see the point in pretending it’s not my purpose when it is.”

Inside, it’s the sort of cafe where all the lighting is mood and all the drinks are overpriced; the decor all trendy stone, and the baristas all lean and dressed in black. Lukas orders — well, he orders exactly what Sinclair thought he might: an espresso coretto a cognac. Sometimes he’s dreadfully predictable. He also orders an iced lemon scone, though, and stands there holding his yums while waiting for the other two to order their own drinks. He offers to pay for them all; if Sarita refuses, it doesn’t seem to particularly insult his hospitality. Eventually, they’re all seated around a table in the back, in the corner, in a private little sector of the cafe that they can now be reasonably sure no one will ever want to walk into while they’re occupying it.

“Everything work out with your friend the other night?”

[Sinclair] Hanging off his shoulders is more like it. Sinclair is several inches shorter than Lukas, so her feet don’t drag, but a few steps before the cafe she hops down. Her attention is on Sarita after he tells the Ragabash that he’s liked what he’s seen from her. Even before he tells her that he wanted to get to know her better, Sinclair is focused, her pale eyes fixed on the other female.

She goes in before Sarita, a front line. She looks over her shoulder as she does so: “Zip ties? We use duct tape,” she informs the Uktena mildly, and unbuttons her coat as she enters the cafe. Heads towards a table as she unzips the hoodie underneath, but doesn’t remove either peacoat or sweater. The shirt she has on looks like it bears Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album art.

Sinclair doesn’t order anything. She sits with one booted foot drawn up and planted on the seat of her chair, knee up, leaning back. For now, it seems that she’s content to keep her mouth shut and listen.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She’s never one to turn down hospitality. She gives a grateful smile and gets something fairly simple. She’s not a complex girl, just a good, solid caffeine jolt is all she needs out of a coffee most nights. And tonight is one of those nights.

Once they get seated, Lukas asks about her friend. Sarita gives a rueful grin and groans. “My sister, actually. Half-sister. It was fairly dramatic, but it worked out for the best, I think. And hey, I only got punched once, so…it worked out as well as I could have expected.” She chuckles. Thanks for asking.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] [[The “Thanks for asking” is spoken. 😛 ]]

[Lukas] “Simon and I were discussing honor and duty and what to do when your honor conflicts with your duty to a commanding entity,” Lukas fills Sinclair in, unwrapping his scone and breaking off a bite before offering the remainder to the Glass Walker. “We were in the middle of some pretty interesting discourse when Sarita had to go kick a wall and issue a cease-and-desist.”

He offers Sarita the scone, then. After she’s helped herself, he sits back in his chair, crossing one ankle over the opposite knee. Lukas is quite tall. His long bones are, in a word, long. There’s a lot of length of thigh and shin there. A lot of length in those deft, scone-demolishing fingers.

“You looked like you had something to add, actually,” he says to Sarita. “But I had to take off, so I couldn’t stay to listen.”

[Sinclair] “A cease-and-desist to what?” Sinclair asks, furrowing her brow. Her pocket whirrs again and she — somewhat thoughtlessly — unwraps a napkin from a set of silverware and puts the fork in her pocket. Her pocket suddenly goes Eee!

and then there’s a muffled clanking.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “I did at the time, yeah.” She nods slightly, remembering back. That, as only three days ago, but it’s been a busy three days. John could have well knocked the memories right out of her head. She thinks for a moment though, taking herself back to the conversation and what point she had her own thoughts.

“A cease-and-desist to carnal acts that would prevent me from sleeping in the room unless I be driven crazy…er…by the smell after the fact,” she says to Sinclair as she thinks back.

“Oh, right. Simon had been talking about tornado and the city, and the whole thing about how the city wasn’t built to last forever. Which is true…nothing does. But too often, I’ve heard people say things like that as an excuse to tear something down before it is the right time for it to go down. Not that I think Simon is necessarily that kind of person. It’s simply an argument that always berks my ears up. I mean, if you put it that way, that more or less in this truly permanent, then you can take that through to the logical argument of ‘what does anything we do matter?’ You have to look at something and judge whether it’s time to tear it down because it’s gotten to rotten and it’s in danger of crushing everything when it collapses under its own weight, or whether it still has time to go before the natural cycle causes it to hit that falling apart stage.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] [[Wow, I’m off tonight with the typos. “It’s simply an argument that always perks my ears up. I mean, if you put it that way, that more or less nothing in this world is truly permanent…”]]

[Lukas] “Annnd that’s why I didn’t go into detail,” Lukas puts in after Sarita, well, goes into detail. Another bite of scone pops into his mouth.

Then Sarita has found her train of thought again, and Lukas listens. When she’s finished, he nods. “Simon probably would have said Twister grants him the wisdom to know when it was something’s time, and when it wasn’t. Which might be true. I don’t know, though. Sinclair packed under Twister before joining us; that’s about as close to that totem as I’ve gotten.

“Regardless, then there’s the added complication of never quite knowing if your judgment is sound. Which brings us full-circle back to Simon’s original question: what do you do if you’re ordered to do one thing, but your personal judgment says it’s the wrong thing to do?”

[Sinclair] “Oh, ew,” Sinclair says instantly to Sarita, though who knows how she’d react if she knew that they were talking about a pure-blooded kinswoman and a metis. She looks about ready to gag, but then something distracts her. ‘Something’ looks like an oncoming headache, if Garou got those. Maybe Sinclair’s special.

Maybe there’s a reason she’s looking spaced out for a moment, processing some unseen thing. She reaches in her clanging pocket and rubs her fingertips against something, creating a faint buzzing noise before she takes her hand out again, listening to Sarita and then Lukas in turn.

“I guess my problem with that mindset,” she says to the Ragabash, “is that Twister isn’t necessarily about destruction as part of the natural cycle. That, and: that was the Wyrm’s job, before it went mad. The system is broken. I don’t think there necessarily is a point now where any of us can sanely say that we know, totem or not, when the time has come for something to be brought down.”

She lowers her bent knee, unfolding her leg to get more comfortable, a little more settled. “The wisdom of Twister’s destructiveness is for the sake of change. For the sake of stirring people out of habits. And other things, too, but it’s not always — or even often — about the new growth that comes afterward or the reparation of stifling overgrowth.”

The Walker removes her fingerless gloves, laying them out in front of her. “So, yeah. Since we were not created to do the job the Wyrm can’t do properly anymore, and since obviously Gaia’s creation to do that job — the Wyrm — wasn’t infallible, no. We’ll never know if our judgement is sound.”

She shrugs. But she doesn’t answer the original question. It was, it seems, posed more at Sarita. Maybe as a test. Who knows.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She considers that. “Well, I’d say, like almost anything, it depends on the situation. If you’re in the middle of battle, obviously it’s the wrong time to start talking back and arguing. You put your trust in the person leading you into battle, or you don’t go to battle with them. Now, let’s say that they snap out of nowhere due to some kind of outside influence, then we’re talking something different and he or she is no longer a capable leader. They might as well have been fallen at that point, because mentally they have. And the next in charge takes control.”

She shrugs, looking at her fingernails and pulling out a penknife to clean under them. “Now, if it’s not in the midst of battle? Obviously, you got more options. It all comes down to what you do. We’re warriors and soldiers. We gotta fall in line when we need to. But like Simon said, ‘following orders’ didn’t help at Nuremburg. And in my case, if I thought that someone had given me an order I was bound to obey that would lead to disaster?”

She looks up at the two. “If I truly thought that was the case, which I would hope would never happen, ’cause I tend to think I’m pretty reasonable…I think it would be worth self-sacrifice to put a stand in the way of the disastrous course of action and get mowed down, if it meant the battle was won as a whole.”

“It’s all about judgment. Soldiers yes…but we have free will for a reason.”

[Lukas] Lukas listens to his packmate, listens to Sarita. His brow faintly knits sometimes, listening. Other times, he nods. Once, in the middle, he holds up a couple fingers, pausing conversation for a moment because he sees the waitress arriving with his coretto, Sarita’s plain coffee. As she straightens he smiles, nodding a quiet thank-you.

Then it’s back to the discourse, Lukas lifting his espresso to sip while Sarita finishes her point. “Yeah,” he says when she’s done, “that’s essentially what I was trying to say to Simon. First he needs to figure out why he feels like shit. If it’s because he made the right choice but it was painful … well, such is war. If it’s because he made the wrong choice and didn’t speak out of fear, then that’s something to change.

“But anyway,” the Ahroun shrugs, leaning forward to set his cup down. “We probably shouldn’t keep raking Simon’s dilemma over the coals while he’s not even at the table. I just wanted to hear your take on it.

“What’s the deal with you and your sister, by the way? Are you guys actually sticking around for a while, or just passing through?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She pauses when Lukas notes the waitress approaching of course, and she gives the woman a little grin and a thanks. When Lukas explains where he was coming from, she takes the opportunity to do her own coffee-drinking. When Lukas asks if they’re staying, she takes a breath and nods.

“That’s the plan, yes. We’ve been looking for a good city to settle in, and from what we’ve seen, Chicago could be just that place. We like the people, we like the city itself….” She chuckles as she glances outside. “The weather’s not our usual style, don’t get me wrong, but we’ve been in worse. From what we’ve seen, we like it. It’s a place we think we can call home for a good long while.” It sounds almost weird for her to say it, like someone who’s speaking a language they haven’t been familiar with in a while, even if it is simple English. She runs a hand through her hair, glancing between the two packmates.

“I’ve been wandering around for the better part of a decade, a year of that with Amy. Sure, we’re a wandering folk, but at some point you’ve got to stop and catch your breath. This place looks as much like home for her and I as it can be. So we’re setting up to lay down roots for a good long while, see how the city treats the both of us and how we can treat it.”

[Sinclair] Sinclair gives a faint huff at the word ‘soldiers’, but that’s about it. She leans over and sniffs Lukas’s coretto, does not ask for a sip. Leaning her elbows on the table, she listens to Sarita speak of her and ‘Amy’, this sister she had to tell to stop fucking in their shared room.

[Lukas] “It’s a good city,” Lukas replies. “I like it. I’m out of New York, myself. Sinclair’s out of Kansas by way of So-Cal. But this is home now. It can be a rough place, though, and it’ll chew you up if you let it. Keep your sister close. Keep her safe. A lot of kinfolk seem to end badly in Chicago, especially those that start out headstrong.”

He’s already told her that. She’s already seen it, for that matter — in Gina, if nothing else. Lukas is quiet a moment; then, “You mind if I ask why only a year with Amy? You two seem close.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She nods a bit when Lukas says to keep Amy close. That’s the battle she’s already fighting, and though for the most part she hides it well, there’s perhaps a brief shadow that passes over her expression, perhaps indicating that she’s losing a bit of ground.

When he asks about why she and her sister have only been together a year, she half-smirks. “Well, that’s thanks to dear old dad. Amy grew up in our father’s family. I was more or less the result of a one-night stand. Amy knew about me from the time she was able to know about such things, while I had no clue of anything–another family, being what we are or the whole shebang until my Change. Then Esteban found me, gave me the basics and sent me on my way to the local sept.” It”s said in a casual way…not flippant, just as matter-of-fact as Sarita ever gets. It’s been a long time, after all.

“I didn’t know about Amy until she found me after Esteban and her mother died. That was a year ago, and we’ve been together ever since. We’re sort of a package deal in that respect. Drive each other nuts like only we can, but…” She shrugs. “We’re sisters.”

The last two words are said as if that explains the closeness in and of itself.

[Sinclair] Sinclair ordered nothing. She listened more than she talked. And then she kicks Lukas’s shoe under the table, for some reason.

She does not comment on Kinfolk. Kinfolk relations. Sisters. Keeping kin close. She doesn’t even seem to pay attention to that part.

Sinclair does, however, listen to Sarita’s story. Half-sisters, then. Just now found each other, it seems like. Sinclair smiles a little, makes a little hmm sound crossed with a heh. Then reaches over and claps Sarita on the shoulder as she shoves back her chair and rises. A few humans around the cafe startle at the sound of the chair’s scrape, at the movement of the blonde.

Their heads come up. They perk, like deer hearing a twig snap, waiting for the predator to lunge. It takes them a moment to relax again.

Sinclair ignores them, as she mostly ignored talk of Kin. “All right. You should come run with the Unbroken for awhile. We’ll hunt. You can get advice from Katherine on dealing with your Kin. It’s a perfect fit. I am going back to the Loft to get in the hot tub. Latah.

And she’s zipping up her hoodie, buttoning up her coat, turning on her heel to head for the door. A thin, tiny, slinky-like arm reaches out of her coat pocket, a few cylindrical metal fingers wrapped around a cafe fork, using it to wave bye-bye to Lukas before the fork is dropped on the floor and the arm vanishes.

The bell over the door chimes as Sinclair heads out.

[Sinclair] [Thanks for the RP!]

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She looks over at Sinclair as she rises, her suggestion drawing a bit of a lopsided smile and a little tilt of the head. “Hasta la pasta,” she says in response, and watches the Glass Walker head out. She keeps curious eyes on the Galliard until after the door is shut and she’s out of view, and then looks back to Lukas.

[[Thank you too!]]

[Lukas] There’s sort of an answering glimmer in Lukas’s eyes, a kind of warmth, when Sarita speaks of sisters. Sticking together.

“I get that,” he says. “I’ve got a sister. I mean, daughter-of-my-parents type sister. She’s older, she drives me insane, and she just brought home this ridiculous weak-chinned moron, but — ”

at this point Sinclair more or less makes the offer that Lukas had alluded to earlier, making the Ahroun blink. Then she’s getting up, and he’s grabbing his scone and offering it to her over his head, and she’s sniffing it and going ew, no, and he’s laughing under his breath and dropping it back on his table. As she heads out, he takes another sip of coretto, puts it down.

“I actually,” he says, “had a big speech planned that was going to lead up to what Sinclair just said. I was going to talk about how Anežka’s my sister no matter what, so I love her. And it’s the same deal with my packmates. The core of my pack, anyway, those of us that have stuck around and stuck together long enough to grow together. I was going to tell you how we’re not like those packs that get together for convenience, that act more like colleagues than family. We’re blood. Asha, Sinclair, Katherine — even Christian, wherever he is now — we’re tight.

“And then I was going to tell you if you’re interested, I want you aboard. You can run with us a while, see how you fit in with us. See how your sister likes us. We need a Ragabash, and we need one that doesn’t seem to think their sole job is to run around being obnoxious. Which, obviously, you don’t.” He grins, crookedly, wryly. “It was going to be a pretty badass speech. But the sentiment still stands.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She grins when Lukas talks about losing his speech. “See, now that was just mean of her. Completely ruined the theatrics of the whole thing.” She chuckles warmly and gives him a wink.

“I need to talk to Amy about it. I know this probably sounds freaking insane to most people, but because we are a package deal, I need her to be cool with the idea too. I don’t see any problems with it though. Y’all will definitely need to meet her; she’s not your average kin. She worked herself up to being able to go out with the Cliaths on simple stuff at her home sept, so she’s…” She shrugs. “…not what a lot of us think of when we think of ‘normal’ or, y’know, ‘sane’ when it comes to kin.”

She smiles a bit. “But yeah. I’ll chat at her first thing tomorrow, and get back at you immediately.” She flips out her cell phone. “You got digits?”

[Lukas] “It’s fair enough,” Lukas replies. “You sign on, she ends up allied to the pack as well. If you want her input, that’s your prerogative.”

Lukas recites his digits. He gives her two: his cell phone and his landline at the Brotherhood. Then he adds, “If I’m not at the BroHo, you can always try Sinclair. She’s next door to me. Or if you get ahold of Asha or Kate, either of them can totemphone me.

“If Amy wants to talk to me,” he adds, “you’re welcome to send her by.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “I probably will. I imagine she’ll want to meet you.” She programs the numbers into her phone and pockets it, then finishes her coffee. “Thanks for the coffee. And the offer, of course. I should get back home, get some sleep. Got woken up early, and that makes for a not-happy Sarita if I don’t get my beauty sleep.”

She smiles and rises. “I’ll be in touch real soon. Have a good one.”

[Lukas] “Likewise,” Lukas replies. If Sarita were human, or kin, some deeply-ingrained streak of courtesy might have Lukas rising as she departs. She’s not, though. She’s Garou. She’s a potential packmate. He stays seated, comfortable, returning her smile and waving with one hand as the other reaches for his scone.

“Night, Sarita.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] A little grin goes his way, and she makes her way out, back to the Broho. [[And Finit!]]

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