sunbaked_baker: (sun-self)
The Bar gave her the dress Dr. Lecter had commissioned - commissioned for her - in a garment bag to keep it from dirt or damage as she took it upstairs, so it's only once she's alone in her room that Sunshine sees what has been made for her. And it's probably a good thing, because for a minute or so she can only stare.

It's beautiful.

The top of the dress is palest lavender - almost silver-white - covered in delicate, shining semi-circles of tiny beads, like layered scales covering the smooth fabric. But it's the many colors of the skirt flaring below that make Sunshine smile. From the high band of red-orange fabric come fantastically beaded points of red and gold and violet and orange, warm colors shining in glimmering beadwork scales that flare just above her knee into a skirt like a vivid watercolor sunset, all red-gold warmth shot through with deep purple. It's hard for her to comprehend something so beautiful is hers.

But she can't stand and stare at it forever, she tells herself, however much she'd like to. She must get ready.


The image of the dress lingers in her mind as she showers under the hot water, and afterwards, toweling her hair dry in the lily of the valley-scented steam. It's only after Rae has dried and brushed her hair - she has the feeling that she should wear her hair up when wearing such a dress, but has no skills in doing anything fancier than a ponytail, braid, or bun, so she leaves her hair down, to tumble about her shoulders in loose waves - that she approaches the dress again, and dares to touch it.

The fabric under her hand is cool and soft, smooth to the touch.

When Rae at last tries it on, it fits her like a glove, a glove of fine fabric and masterful beadwork. Except for all the scars - the dress leaves the majority of them on display, she notes with an odd feeling in her stomach - Rae would hardly recognize herself. Hardly recognize the baker who sells cinnamon rolls for a living. She might as well be looking at a stranger in her mirror. A stranger with her face, her scars, and her amber sun-ring upon its silk cord about their neck.

The shoes are almost an afterthought, after everything else, pale silver-white to match the bodice of the dress, with a silver strap curving smoothly across the top of her foot from outer ankle to alongside her big toe. But they somehow make it feel real. That this is her, still just her, just in different trappings.

Taking a breath and another glance at the mirror, Rae gathers her nerve, and steps out of her room.
sunbaked_baker: (blazing smile)
It takes a bit of juggling, what with the large bowl of popcorn, the smaller bowl of other snacks balanced on top, the movie, and her keys, but Rae eventually is able to open the door to her room and let them both in.

"Success!" she says, holding the door open for Autor to come in bearing the teapot and cups on their tray.

Rae's room

Sep. 15th, 2013 01:21 pm
sunbaked_baker: (you think so?)
It's mid-morning when Sunshine awakes, a slight crick in her neck from sleeping in the wide, pillow-strewn chair in the corner of her room. Autor is still sound asleep, tucked in the bed with his shoes on the floor beside it. After washing her face - the smoke-smell is still lingering in her hair - and getting dressed in the bathroom, Rae heads downstairs to fetch a pot of tea and two cups, in case he wakes soon.

Follow

Aug. 24th, 2013 01:37 pm
sunbaked_baker: (running)
This wasn't how Sunshine thought the evening would go.

Con had not been able to find out much about whoever was trying to stop them, trying to uphold the status quo of bloody vampire-human relations. Either his contacts - whoever and whatever they were, Sunshine didn't ask - did not know who was behind it, or were too afraid to say so. Though Con showed next to no expression at the best of times, Sunshine could hear frustration in his toneless voice when he had told her.

Tonight was supposed to be another meeting with those possibly willing to listen. It wasn't. Other visitors had gotten there before them, and the results were splattered across the walls and floor.

Constantine knew something was up even before they stepped out of the strange, sick-making Otherspace into the derelict warehouse where the meeting was supposed to take place. Sunshine's slower human senses only registered something was wrong when she stepped back into reality and felt Con yank her by the hand out of the way of two vampires locked together, tearing at each other. The shock of it made her feel cold. She hadn't even had time to notice them until they were past, and Con was already preoccupied, taking care of a vampire who had lunged at him.

The place was in uproar, crowds of vampires tearing at each other. Those who had come to meet with them, against those who had come to prevent the meeting from taking place. In Sunshine's experience, if negotiations dissolved into violence it had always been her and Con against all comers. This was not that. Unable to tell friend from foe - though some part of her human mind wanted to remind her that they were all technically her, and humanity's, foes - she focused on avoiding being barreled into by the various seethes of violence around her, and shielding Con's blind-spots from attack. A few who saw the one human among the vampires lunged at her, seeking an easy target. They did not get much of a chance to see the error of their ways.

"These were sent to destroy those who would meet with us," Constantine hissed quickly into her ear, amid the din. "But they are not faring as well as they'd hoped. If they retreat, we must follow."

Follow where, she wanted to ask, but a fresh seethe of vampires enveloped them and there was no more time to talk. Constantine, at least, seemed to be able to tell one group from another. Some part of Sunshine's mind, among all the blood and horror, vaguely wondered if it was anything like being able to tell people who were related to one another from those who were not, but she decided it likely had something to do with vampire senses that had no analogue in humans.

Without warning, Constantine's bloody hand found hers again. Both hands were coated thickly with dark blood, and keeping a grip was difficult as he yanked them both into the roaring Otherspace, reality streaming past them like a silently raging river.

"They seek to go to ground," Constantine murmured through the silence, "but we will not let them."

Rae nodded, running alongside him. She tried not to think that they were, with little foreknowledge or preparation, apparently following vampires back to their master's earthplace. The glimpses of reality she was able to catch as they streamed past were utterly unfamiliar. She had no idea where they were, much less where they were going - though, as they ran, she began to feel the sense of alignment she had felt before, the last time they had sought out a master vampire in his earthplace. The feeling of connection between their running selves and the unknown destination of those they pursued.

Too many times to count, Constantine tore them out of the chaotic Otherspace to face oncoming groups of vampires. These were not those they were chasing; these were stronger, sent to stop their advance. During the second encounter, in the moment of dispatching one vampire ('dispatching' felt like a safe way to think about it, to Sunshine - it very nearly denied the blood and revulsion of the act itself), another sucker tore into Rae's shoulder. Even before she had a chance to cry out, Constantine had dealt with that one, leaving its broken self on the ruined pavement. Constantine, her vampire, glanced at her - she could see him wondering if his fragile human were okay (though 'okay' probably wasn't the word he would have used) but there was no comfort to be offered. Neither did she expect any. Sunshine made herself grit her bloodied teeth and get back up, letting adrenaline carry her back into the fray, and then back into Otherspace to carry them on toward their destination.

They ran, and fought, and ran again, and fought, for what seemed like forever. Sunshine stopped being fully conscious of the alignment that pulled them on. It was part of her - and good thing, too, because she couldn't have held it in her mind if she had to. There was only so long a human body could run on its own energy before it began to run on sheer adrenaline. It was the bitter taste in her mouth below the metallic taste of blood. Eventually, the body runs on sheer instinct, unable to stop, only vaguely conscious, having no fear left to be afraid of finding out what would happen if one did stop. Weariness and pain pulled at her as strongly as any alignment.

~*~*~*~


The master, when Sunshine and Constantine reached their destination at last, was old. Older than Bo had been. Ancient. Her presence was a stifling weight, the very air around her felt unbreatheable and sick to Sunshine's shaky, exhausted self, burning down her throat and into her lungs. The master vampire's cold, dispassionate eyes were the color of Nothing. Her gaze from atop the dias was the inexorable pull of entropy, her voice like no sound reality should stand to exist, her flesh perfect like no flesh could ever be. She had no name for them, and they had no name for her. Those vampires she kept around her did not lounge, as Bo's had done; they descended on Constantine and Sunshine without warning. Bo had been sure of victory - this master vampire had survived so long by not indulging in such over-confidence.

Sunshine, the grey cobwebs of exhaustion and shock growing in the corners of her vision, fought towards the dias in a kind of daze. Her shield flickered in and out of existence with the barest thought, bolts of crackling plasma forming in her hands that soon plunged into vampiric chests and pierced their unbeating hearts. It felt almost as though her magic were the one fighting, merely carrying Sunshine's form along for the ride. Once or twice, she noticed faint pain on the periphery of her awareness - once as her foot came down wrong, her ankle twisting savagely as her blood-slicked shoes found no purchase, another time as teeth tore into her forearm in the split-moment before her other hand tore into that vampire's chest.

It was the touch of Sunshine's hand upon the master vampire's flesh that at last awoke the sunlight-net set into her skin, which erupted into furious golden flame as Sunshine's hand finally tore the master's heart free. The flame shielded her from the bulk of the backlash that followed, as the master vampire's animus was released. Not that it wasn't bad enough. Sunshine was spent. Her magic was all that was holding her together.

Surely the worst was over, with the master vanquished. Surely the surviving followers would disperse...

But no. Sunshine would have said that there was nothing left on earth that would chill her blood, after what this night had required her to do. The sound made by the remaining vampires in that moment - pain and anguish, endless fury and violent promise - proved her wrong.

How

Aug. 13th, 2013 10:25 am
sunbaked_baker: (Default)
It was late, when Rae brought up the subject of the recent attacks, explaining what Pat had told her, what she had seen in the files Aimil had given to her. It was so late as to be early, and she knew she would have to leave soon; she couldn't put it off any longer. The fireplace was the only source of light in the large room, and cast deep shadows from the two sitting in front of it.

Not that the shadows hampered the vision of either of them. The shadows Rae was looking at, however, were those on Con's face.

"We've apparently gone and pissed someone off," she remarked, to fill the silence. Usually, Rae could read Con's silences no matter how inscrutable his face remained: hesitation, or surprise, or merely arranging his thoughts. This was a mixture of all three.

"A reaction was inevitable," Con said at last, toneless as ever. "I merely was not expecting it so soon."

"Well, that makes one of us," Sunshine remarked, drily. "I expected difficulty but not these kinds of... intimidation tactics."

Con made a strange sound in his throat, which registered to Rae as frustration and mild disgust. "A master vampire's strength comes from his followers - you have seen this. His control over them is dependent on both the master's strength of will, and the followers' belief that their only chance to survive and grow stronger is to follow their master, despite their lack of autonomy and - should they survive that long - their own eventual dependence on their followers. What we are doing is challenging a hierarchical structure that has been in place for thousands of years."

"And no one likes a seditionist?" she replied, trying and probably failing to sound wry.

"No," Con answered. Sunshine didn't like the ring of finality in the syllable. "Master vampires and their immediate subordinates, you could say, are already too heavily invested in the hierarchy as it stands to be able to change. Master vampires would be practically helpless without their followers, and those closest to them would already be feeling the... side-effects, of their way of living. They will want to make sure those who might otherwise be susceptible to alternative ways are... unwilling to risk it."

"So... theatrics like dry-guying young vampires who thought to give it a try, and then leaving them for SOF to find."

"Yes."

"With the idea that they'd do the same to us if they found out who was stirring up trouble."

"No, they would make sure to do much worse to us. They would need to set an example."

"...Thanks ever so much."

Constantine looked at her, green eyes catching and holding her gaze. "Sunshine, this is not like Bo, where the ties that for so long bound he and I required one of us to be the end of the other. There is no such connection here, but whatever master vampire is seeking to intimidate us will also be seeking to forge such a connection. Such strong ties between enemies are most easily established by breaking the bonds that already hold one's enemies."

"You're saying that whoever it is would do something that would force us to react. To take revenge for whatever they did, or else the scales would always be tipped in their favor." Rae's brow furrowed. There is still so much for her to learn. "But there's no way they'd get between us-"

"No, Sunshine."

"Then..." Rae continued to gaze questioningly into Con's eyes. Con's master had been bitter enemies with Bo's master. One had destroyed the other, which required retaliatory destruction, and then the lines of power and obligation had required either Bo or Con to destroy the other. Now Con had no master, no nemesis. There was no bond that held him, except his ties to her. But she...

Somehow, Sunshine could see the change in the vampire's eyes as he registered the fear blossoming in her gaze.

"You're thinking they'd go after my family."

"Yes."

"...How do I warn them, without...?" Without having to tell them everything, that is.

"You will figure out a way," Constantine replied, standing and offering her a hand. Sunshine took his hand and stood, still reeling. Almost involuntarily, she leaned against him -

(He made a good wall. Yes, very wall-like.)

-and rested her head against his chest. Con's arms went around her.

"It would be best if we quickly put an end to their belief that we can be intimidated," Con said against Sunshine's red hair. The baker didn't want to say she was feeling pretty thoroughly intimidated at the moment. "I will gather what information I can through the channels I know. You will warn your family, and continue working with your SOF for what information they can gather, as well. Come, you must go. The sun rises soon."
sunbaked_baker: (in her element)
Rae stepped out of the bakery and wiped her hands on her apron, mentally preparing herself.
This wouldn't be easy. )
sunbaked_baker: (running)
It is the heart of summer, and the days are long. The sun sets late, and the nights are pleasantly warm.

At the moment, this particular day is finally relinquishing its grasp, the half-light of evening settling in, turning the world varying depths of grey.

Yet there is still a light out in the forest. Out past the baseball diamond, in a clearing where a great, thirty-foot wide circle of arcane symbols has been burned into the ground, Sunshine is practicing.

Three figures made of animate soil and water struggle with her. They are faster than she, but Sunshine has her magic. Has her knife in hand, beginning to glow as the daylight fades around her. Has her glimmering network of light set into her skin and hair, awake and alert and pulling from the sun that has already disappeared from the horizon. Has her silver and amber ring on its cord about her neck, gleaming. Her semi-transparent shielding spell appearing and disappearing in a ghostly golden light. Each strike by the figures of magically-animate soil and water she blocks, quick as thought, until she moves to lets one through so she can strike at its heart, in and up into where the chest would be.

The object of this exercise is to stay dry. Stay clean.

Except for her right hand and arm.

Warning

Jul. 13th, 2013 01:14 pm
sunbaked_baker: (blazing unsure)
"There won't be any cinnamon rolls for a while, you know?"

Read more... )
sunbaked_baker: (you think so?)
Shawn had insisted that the couch at the Psych office was perfectly comfy - and he was more or less right. Sunshine hadn't been in any condition to complain, in any case - once she had accompanied Shawn and Juliet through to their world and things had been arranged, Rae had unceremoniously crashed. Even though she was still sick with fear and jumping at her own shadow, exhaustion won without even a fight.

Only once in the night had she been awakened, by a nightmare she forgot upon waking, to find herself in a strange room in an unwarded building, with the strange, salt smell of the ocean in the air. It had taken her a while to get back to sleep even after she'd remembered where she was, and that there was nothing to ward against here.

Sunshine had reawakened hours later with the early morning sun from the wide front window on her face, feeling, for the first time in weeks, more rested when she awoke than when she had gone to sleep.

And with a new world outside.

Rae got up quickly and went to the bathroom in the back to change. Her hair wasn't a problem - it tended to look better if she didn't brush it that often, anyway. Once she felt presentable, or at least prepared to go exploring, she came back into the front room and folded the sheets and blankets from the couch on top of the pillow she'd used. Snagging a pen and a piece of paper from one of the desks, she leaves a quick note on the coffee table.

Gone exploring. Will be back soon!

-Sunshine


With that, the baker goes out into the southern California sunshine.

Gone wrong

Aug. 26th, 2012 12:36 am
sunbaked_baker: (blazing sun)
They had just gone to patrol. )
sunbaked_baker: (even the sun must go down)
The Nighthouse had originally been a gas station in Chesterfield, closed and abandoned even before the Wars had turned that part of the city into what came to be known as Whiteout. But one of Mel's old biker gang had it re-purposed and set up as a bar shortly after the area finally had been deemed "safe" for human habitation again. It was Mel's favored hangout when he didn't have the evening shift at Charlie's, and when Sunshine was free in the evenings as well, she liked to sometimes accompany him. She didn't know enough of the subject of motorcycles to join in their discussions of ignition mixtures and piston resistance, but it was good to just... sit and drink beer with Mel and what was left of his old gang, and listen to the enthusiasts discuss their favorite topic. Nothing was expected of her, and Mel's arm around her waist was a reassuring weight.

The only problem with the Nighthouse was that, being an old gas station, it didn't have restrooms accessible from the interior of the building. Sunshine had excused herself from the table, and gone outside into the night. The light from the interior of the bar caused the crowd of parked motorcycles to gleam white-hot to her sight as she had circled around the building to the back.

The lone, high streetlight behind the bar was bright, the only source of light in the area, casting deep shadows from anything nearby.

Of course, that was what the vampire had been counting on. It hadn't been expecting its potential victim to be able to see it, lurking in the pitch-black shadow of the nearby dumpster. To be expecting the attack, and ready for it when it struck.

Turn

May. 3rd, 2011 04:24 pm
sunbaked_baker: (cast down into darkness)
Sunday was a glorious day. )
sunbaked_baker: (cast down into darkness)
From here.

...Sunshine... )

To here.
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