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 Down the Rabbit Hole (aka Meeting the Marshalls), 3 April 2167 | @Bruce
Bruce Vaughan
 Posted: May 26 2018, 02:35 PM
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Evolute
45 YEARS
Citizen
Tier 3
758 Posts
Mental Manipulation - able to manipulate other people's minds through mind control, illusion projection, and memory manipulation, primarily.
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A bark of laughter escaped Bruce’s lips, and his eyes crinkled, teasing. “Dinosaurs? My word, Reese, we need to brush up on your history. It was regal during the Renaissance.” Which remained six or seven centuries in the past, but far more recent than the age of Bacchanalias, let alone the Triassic Period. Yet, the conversation moved from color to the popularity of its absence.

“You don’t say,” Bruce replied with faux seriousness, as though he was unaware of the fashion trends among the elite in Haven. As though he didn’t own half a dozen black suits that cost more than his entire childhood wardrobe; as though such an ensemble had not been his costume of choice for their play sessions over the past six weeks. He could appreciate a fine-tailored black suit; the epitome of elegance, it conjured images of stability and commanded authority. Yet, he also enjoyed color from the blue sweater and the leather tie that constituted his winter outfit to the rest vest from Valentine’s Day. Life was too short to deny oneself the full panoply of pigmentation available. His sober expression gave way to a smile, as he added, “You’re the one who told me color was fine for an Easter suit.”

Bruce had accepted the other man’s advice on the matter. Given Reese’s outfit, he had no reason to doubt it even as they discussed the prevalence of outfits that resembled funeral attire.

“They’ll ask me the basics? How courteous.” Bruce’s other hand drifted to his chin, stroking the smooth flesh thoughtfully, as though this constituted a novelty. In one way, it did. He had surrendered anonymity years ago when he had constructed the spectacle of his profession, and he had killed what remained when announcing his candidacy for Council against a well-connected and popular incumbent. Everyone knew Bruce Vaughan by name, by face, by reputation. Being asked for his name (as opposed to the more typical yet impolite greeting Tammi had offered), receiving polite inquiry about his job as though he and Reese might have met at a construction site…that was nearly revolutionary.

As was the notion that he might adopt another persona in polite company, yet rather than light up at the possibility, he dismissed that out of hand with a firm shake of his head. He couldn’t do that to Reese’s family on their holy day, not after opening their home to him without judgment. Shooting Reese a crooked grin, he said, “I worked hard to ear n the right to be Bruce Vaughan wherever I go. I won’t surrender that to play Susan for Easter.”

With the remark about returning to the crowd, Bruce nodded, squeezed Reese’s hand again, and then pushed himself first onto one knee before rising to his feet. “I’m ready when you are.”

@Reese Marshall
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Reese Marshall
 Posted: Jun 4 2018, 07:44 PM
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39 YEARS
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557 Posts
There are moments that the words don’t reach There is suffering too terrible to name You hold your child as tight as you can And push away the unimaginable The moments when you’re in so deep It feels easier to just swim down
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Reese's brow raised an his lips quirked with a smile as Bruce acted as thought it was his fault. "I'm just saying." he said as he lead his friend out of the tea room. His fingers brushed over one of the other man's lapels, "Easter's colors are fuckin' pastel." he offered. "I'm on fucking point with this."

As they entered back into the great room, they found the first of the Marshalls starting to gather. The Marshalls were a distinct breed -- with dark hair and sharp features. Each person who walked in, man, woman, and the occasional child (who was swiftly taken away by their nanny to another part of the house) was dressed for Easter from head to toe, including some decorated hats that would have been fit for Scarlett O'hara.

The first person who came towards them hesitated a bit, as if they were trying to gauge whether or not Reese was available to be spoken with. It would be a theme to the time they spend in the company of the Marshalls -- the constant, unending awareness of how easily broken Reese was at any (and every) given moment.

Tall, nearly six feet with her heels and wearing a dress that fell to her knees and that moved gracefully when she walked, the woman moved forward and pulled Reese into her arms. She looked in her mid-sixties and kissed his cheek as she released him. "You look great, sweetie. I love the suit." She said as she released him. His arms had moved to embrace her as well for the short time that she remained.

As he released her, he said: "Aunt Lily, this is my friend, Bruce. Bruce this is Lily." And then it happened, as promised, as if Bruce's face wasn't on holo screen (and as if he wasn't well known by name any other day).

"Welcome. Welcome." She said in the midst of wrapping her arms around him as if he were a Marshall. "You're a friend of Reese's?" she smiled, "Lucky man. You know, he's always been a hard fish to land." the woman said without seeming to realize what her phrasing implied for she followed it with: "When he was seven, there was that Lonnie boy -- you remember?" she asked Reese; he nodded. "He tried to be his friend for months and --"

"I didn't talk to him until he got me a fucking Lance Black, Jr. action figure for my birthday." Reese finished, rolling his eyes. Reese realized his fingers were laced with Bruce's and wasn't exactly sure when that had happened in the course of walking into the great room and being met with his Aunt. He didn't pull away. "I was a jackass."

"Language, Reese." the woman said without any bite. "So what do you do, Bruce?" She asked as other guests began trickling in from the foyer and mingling with relatives they hadn't seen in a few months.

@Bruce Vaughan
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Bruce Vaughan
 Posted: Jun 4 2018, 08:28 PM
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Evolute
45 YEARS
Citizen
Tier 3
758 Posts
Mental Manipulation - able to manipulate other people's minds through mind control, illusion projection, and memory manipulation, primarily.
Bright is Offline


“I won’t let you insult my tailor or my fashion sense when he’s the only one who can work with my figure.” Delivered deadpan, the self-deprecation was ironic, flying in the face of a simple fact that Bruce had yet to find a set of formal attire that didn’t melt onto his form. He had been blessed with a dancer’s body that had followed him into middle age despite the abrupt lifestyle change from abandoning that path.

He followed Reese from the tea room, adjusting his tie and his jacket sleeves which did nothing to dispel the notion that they had been more physical (as Julian Marshall had expected and unbeknownst to Bruce himself). As he had told his friend when accepting the invitation, he would take the younger man’s lead. This brought them to the great room to watch a parade of Reese’s relatives model their outfits, greet one another, and usher their children elsewhere (unusual in Bruce’s experience since the third-generation Vaughans were always underfoot at family gatherings).

As a tall woman some years younger than his parents approached them, he straightened his posture and turned on the charm, as he had when arriving himself not that long ago. He offered his hand when she finished embracing his friend, only to find himself swept into a hug; recovering himself quickly, he returned it with one hand (the other laced with Reese’s), then released her.

“It’s a pleasure to be here. Happy Easter, Lily.” With his smile and the shine about him, one could believe he celebrated this holiday himself. His expression didn’t falter while treated to this insight into the younger man’s childhood, illustrating his repeated claims that he was a jerk when younger (as the words left his lips yet again, they could add that to the count). It was a different world, so far outside of his own childhood experiences but he remained long-practiced at controlling his expressions and remaining non-judgmental.

An idea percolated for Christmas, eight months from now. Nobody could accuse Bruce of failing to plan ahead.

His attention snapped back at the question directed towards him (while he buried his mirth at the familiar reprimand, one offered reflexively by each adult member of his family as well). Reese had warned him that they would pretend. As he had no desire to turn this into a campaign event, he neglected to mention his ambitions, settling instead for his day job. “I own a fantasy retreat not too far from here. And yourself, Lily?”

@Reese Marshall
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Reese Marshall
 Posted: Jun 4 2018, 09:59 PM
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39 YEARS
Citizen
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557 Posts
There are moments that the words don’t reach There is suffering too terrible to name You hold your child as tight as you can And push away the unimaginable The moments when you’re in so deep It feels easier to just swim down
Thyme is Offline



Whether Lily understood exactly what they were talking about or whether she was oblivious, she seemed pleased with the answer and her face lit up. "An entrepreneur." she repeated, rephrasing it to suit the word that the Marshall's would have used for it. "That's wonderful. I've got quite the respect for people brave enough to take that leap."

She chuckled and smiled. "I manage my household." she said simply. Many of the Marshall women were traditional to that extent. "Thaddeus Peabody is my husband. Have you met?" she asked. Another family that had name recognition, whose children were expected to go to Nocht and whose pockets were deep enough that Sanctuary Park likely wouldn't have existed if they willed it so.

Reese was just as handsy now as he always was, but it was more obvious and seemed more inappropriate in retrospect when he did things with his family watching. "It's alright, Lily. You don't have to call Tad over. We'll catch up with him." he promised. One hand remained in Bruce's and the grazed over his friend's shoulder, then patted it gently as if to say they needed to move on before this Peabody came over.

He half-tugged Bruce away and was in the midst of explaining that Tad was boring as fuck when they ran into a set of red headed twins. These two greet Reese as a friend might have - grins from ear to ear, noises of elation. Both from the two young man (who couldn't have been more than a year one way or the other from Reese, though it was hard to tell which direction they were). "Jesus Christ." the first one said. The second added, "What color is that suit?"

"Be nice." Reese offered, looking offended. His hand settled for certainly not the first time on Bruce's chest as if it were supposed to comfort him. "He's a guest, and he likes fuckin' purple."

The two men moved swiftly forward to wrap their arms around Reese and then hugged Bruce. The intertwined fingers did not escape their notice. How could it? Reese was talking; he was smiling, he was wearing lilac. "I'm Pete, this is my brother Simon."

"This is Bruce." Reese offered.

"Good to meet you." Simon said. They spoke back and forth as if they were straight from a choreographed film, and yet here they were in flesh and blood, as if their minds were intertwined. "We didn't think Reese had any friends anymore." Pete said. "It's because of that fucking nest of ringlets on his head." "Great with the ladies, though."

@Bruce Vaughan
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Bruce Vaughan
 Posted: Jun 6 2018, 06:40 AM
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Evolute
45 YEARS
Citizen
Tier 3
758 Posts
Mental Manipulation - able to manipulate other people's minds through mind control, illusion projection, and memory manipulation, primarily.
Bright is Offline


“Thank you. I admit it’s served me well so far.” An understatement.

Rumors notwithstanding, Shangri-La had exceeded Bruce’s every expectation. Some had doubted the sustainability of such an establishment, once the curiosity faded. Others had believed the entire business model was unsounded. “Who would possibly pay you for the privilege of messing around in their heads?”

Plenty, it turned out, among them some of the wealthiest, best connected, and most powerful members of the Haven elite.

However, conversation segued to her husband, whose name struck a chord beyond recognizing the surname.

Thaddeus Peabody.

Over two decades in Haven between his years at Nocht and the decade and a half since opening Shangri-La had primed him to remain composed in the face for a name like that. Yet he felt the little compulsion he experienced when confronted with such an aggressively Haven moniker, to call his parents and thank them for naming him “Bruce” rather than Thaddeus, Digby, Aldrich, Merrick, or whatever else he encountered.

Sparing the need to muse further, Reese led him away; with a final pleasantry, Bruce followed him, falling into step. His friend had barely managed two sentences about how uninteresting “Tad” was when they were besieged by identical redheads.

“That’s a half-truth. I do like purple, but not enough to make love to it.” The same polite, engaging smile remained on Bruce’s lips that he had worn while meeting Aunt Lily. As though he hadn’t made what qualified as an uncouth joke to rib his friend about his indiscriminate use of profanity. After all, the elder generation called attention to it which made it fair play, but he had no interest in offering the same reprimands that he would with his own nieces or nephews.

Pete and Simon. Reese had mentioned them explicitly – the only other Carriers in the history of the Marshall family. Sensitive about it – enough that Reese had coupled that with a half-warning half-threat against discussing Evolute status at all.

Very well. Bruce could abide that restriction.

Having learned his lesson from Aunt Lily, he expected hugs this time and forewent even attempted handshakes. Pulling back, he replied, “It’s good to meet you too. It’s an elite circle, being Reese’s friend, but I’m glad to be here.”

Twice over. To be here at Easter and to have attained that friendship in the first place.

@Reese Marshall
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Reese Marshall
 Posted: Yesterday at 09:59 pm
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Typic
39 YEARS
Citizen
Typic
557 Posts
There are moments that the words don’t reach There is suffering too terrible to name You hold your child as tight as you can And push away the unimaginable The moments when you’re in so deep It feels easier to just swim down
Thyme is Offline



Reese rolled his eyes and then smiled when Bruce joke. A laugh left his lips and if the twins had had any doubts, they were brushed away immediately. This was Reese's new boyfriend. Neither were surprised by the fact that it was Bruce so much as they were by the idea that Reese had let himself have a new partner.

Surprised but pleased.

Still, they had the tact not to say anything about it. The last thing they wanted to do was make Reese anxious and pointing out that he had started to move or successfully had moved on from his wife was a dangerous topic to broach when he looked so level.

"It is. Pete's not his friend. We just haven't broken the news yet." Simon jested as he clapped his brother's back.

Reese squeezed Bruce's hand. "Bruce went to Nocht too." he offered to his cousins, trying to prompt an easy conversation. Their tenures certainly wouldn't have overlapped, but Reese was sure that there were features of the college that were easy enough to discuss.

Low and behold, Pete chimed in. "Really?" Both of them looked like they had no idea as though the news coverage of Bruce was not important. The man was in front of them, and they would speak to him and hear him from scratch as Reese's guest instead of some ploy to get better television and radio ratings.

"Did you take Humanities 102 with Pollard?"

"I heard he did exactly the same thing every semester." "He had to; his vests were thematically relevant every class." "Strange really." Then both their eyes moved to Bruce to see if he had any thoughts on the matter.

Reese felt someone come up beside him and was abruptly brought into a hug, given a 'good to see you." and then the woman continued on her way, squeezing Simon's arm as she passed and giving a swift kiss on his cheek without explanation or lingering to talk.

@Bruce Vaughan
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Bruce Vaughan
 Posted: Yesterday at 10:43 pm
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Evolute
45 YEARS
Citizen
Tier 3
758 Posts
Mental Manipulation - able to manipulate other people's minds through mind control, illusion projection, and memory manipulation, primarily.
Bright is Offline


Bruce returned the squeeze before taking advantage of the opening that his friend provided. It didn’t escape his notice the active role that the younger man played in helping Bruce to meet his relatives. This wasn’t the mask that had met the Vaughans last Sunday with the careful acting before panic overwhelmed him and left him bare and vulnerable. This wasn’t the sullen man who required pulling teeth when overwhelmed by too many people or in the company of strangers. This was Reese, who wanted Bruce to get on with his relatives and was lively and engaged (while not shying from his penchant for profanity and his dislike of his sister-in-law).

The mental manipulator hoped he stuck around after the party, at least for a few days so he could get to know this version of his friend.

“In the early 40s,” he confirmed modestly. He wasn’t the first Evolute to attend, but he’d had no family connections, no trust fund paying for a new building in exchange for his admission. He had grown up in Evesdown; he had a power that intimidated half his freshman hall. But he had attended, thrived, and graduated with two diplomas that adorned the back wall of his office where each client could see during intake.

Then he chuckled. “I haven’t thought about Pollard in about a decade and a half.” A generous assessment. The man’s outfits occasionally popped into mind in the first few years after graduation, and then he’d let it go. “What I know is a senior warned us about how he ran class and everything matched lecture for lecture.” That was a three-year gap, but it held to reason that he had persisted in that afterward.

“I heard-” He was interrupted by the sudden arrival of a woman who embraced Reese, embraced his cousins, and then disappeared without stopping to engage them further. However, with the flow of conversation ended, Bruce chose another topic. “I like how open everyone is here. It reminds me of my family.”

As Reese had learned last weekend, nobody could fairly accuse the Vaughans of reserved behavior. After all, Bruce was the sole introvert and his introversion didn’t manifest in shyness or stoicism.

@Reese Marshall
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