Armadillo girl

Cordova Pride 
outfit plus black pants

@Dax Attwood

Rocky was home tonight. He was super well behaved, really, but even so she thought it would be unfair to take him around all this noise and food he couldn't eat and people and kids and stuff. Plus she'd be able to explore inside all the kiosks and attractions and all that without worrying she might be scaring people or triggering allergies or something.

Thoughtful! That's what she was.

And right now, she was thoughtfully approaching some costume vendors, eyes darting at all the super flashy colors and patterns in the spirit of Pride.

Personally, she'd grown up disapproving of other orientations... until her best friend back home came out as gay. Now she wasn't, like, all vocally gung ho about it. But she understood him, and wanted to show her support, even if said best friend wasn't actually here. But that's what snaps were for!

"Ooohhh my gosh Luis look at this mermaid tail!" she squealed to her phone as she zoomed all over said actual swimmable mermaid tail, hanging just outside of the stall. She was so delighted, and also wondered if she could try it? Snap sent, she put her phone away and poked at it kind of repeatedly, watching it catch the light.

She'd... totally move on soon. Just gotta look for the price tag on this thing and convince herself to get a job before wasting...

"Two hundred and fifteen dollars."

Yeah, there went that dream, unemployed girl. Move along.


The queer community wasn't really her thing—there was an expectation of niceness that Dax couldn't commit to, except among the militant lesbians, who were universally terrible—but like hell she was going to miss out on the annual obligatory expression of her sexuality and the opportunity to rail against an otherwise heteronormative and downright fucking bigoted culture. This was the one time of the year she could find dozens of people to bitch about queer and gender politics with, and Dax liked nothing more than bitching about queer and gender politics.

So she was in a good mood, even as she grit her teeth and reminded herself she didn't need to breathe, and the woman squealing over mermaid tails didn't annoy her quite as much as she normally would. It was almost endearing, even. But only almost.

Dax was eyeing the comic book-themed hats just adjacent to her, and she snorted an amused breath when the woman stated the price of one of those dumb mermaid tails to herself. "There's a reason mermaids are mythical, I suppose," she said, glancing aside at the woman with a small, impish smile. Because it was too goddamn expensive to be a mermaid.

She glanced at the woman next to her and gave a laugh. Why dread how many months of rent you had left (1.5 which was really just 1 but no one was asking) when you could just enjoy the fun!!

"Makes sense. On the other hand, I... could just not shave a week and totally pass for a werewolf for free," she joked back, meeting the taller woman's eyes, and then immediately wondered if that was too many words for a joke or not.

Yeesh. Don't be so self-conscious yet, Yesenia. "If you could be anything, what would you be? On the condition that you have to be rainbow-colored."

An excellent question. Being a vampire sucked. Being a were-alligator sounded equally awful, if Reina's experience was anything to go by.

Dax hummed a short note as she devoted more thought to the question that she probably should have, but the only options that kept floating into her head were "vampire" and "ghost whisperer" in an intrusive urge to self-sabotage. Let's maybe not do that.

"A necromancer," she answered instead, baring her teeth in a grin. "Does that count? Just give me an army of skeletons to mow the lawn and do my household chores. And I could be into the rainbow goth aesthetic." Yeah, that'd be significantly cooler than this ghost whispering business. "You?"

Speaking required breathing, which meant smelling, and her teeth ached in the supernatural equivalent to Pavlov's dogs. Behind lips momentarily pressed into a stiff line, she prodded one canine with the tip of her tongue. She met only the blunt edges of her teeth, and her jaw relaxed with the reassurance that she was keeping her shit together and not about to devolve into a demonic frenzy.

For an instant, she swore she smelled Cris, a thought that was both weird just by itself and in its immediacy. Except not Cris. Cris's blood, that subtle scent of the uncanny.

Wait. Had she meant anything as in the monster variety (a natural segue from mermaids and werewolves) or just like. The mundane? Whoops too late.

A neck romancer...? Oh, nope. Something about skeletons?? Yesenia smiled back, though it was slightly edged with the feeling of being a little lost. What just happened?

"Um," she pondered, totally off her game now. How do you follow up after something you don't know at all? What was a neck-romancer? How did skeletons relate? 911?

"Maybe like, a fairy? The tiny Fantasia ones."

That wasn't obscure and stuff. But it was a play on reality because she was short? But she'd have wings.

Dax caught an emotional whiff of the woman's confusion. Did she not know what a necromancer was. Wasn't that like, common pop culture knowledge at this point? And anyway, who hadn't gone on a Wikipedia dive after learning that vampires are real?

She'd never seen Fantasia, but Dax could fill in the blanks. It was also a boring answer.

"That's the weirdest part about all this vampire and werewolf business," she remarked tangentially, feeling unusually chatty. "Who knows what else is real. Ghosts, fairies--hell, there could be mermaids out in some North Glenn lake. The queer community would lose its mind." Not that Dax wouldn't fuck a fish-man, and not that The Shape of Water wasn't a fucking masterpiece.

She absentmindedly plucked up a pink cap decorated with superheroines, turning it in her hands.

The tangent was great. It made her feel less dumb for choosing something as simple as Tinkerbell.

"Ha, yeah," Yesenia smiled, though ultimately, she was still kind of curious? As to what...

"So what's a neck romancer? Is it like a special kind of vampire or something...?" Vampires sucked from necks, right? They always did in the movies. And obviously the movies were real the whole time.

She felt a bit nervous, considering it was dark now.

"Necromancer," she corrected the woman's emphasis absentmindedly as she returned the cap back to its place, and Dax found herself suddenly and viscerally reminded of that second meeting with Beau and the "Gator Aid".

A weird memory that she didn't want to dwell on, but of course it kept replaying in her head now.

"Basically a wizard who reanimates the dead. But like zombies and skeletons, not whatever vampires are."

The back of her neck prickled, but while Dax's spectral company might enjoy embarrassing her in front of guests, they weren't fond of crowds.

She flashed half of a deliberate, impish smile. "You think wizards are real?" If you counted X-Men, they sure were.

How morbid. Were vampires dead?!?! She stared in bewilderment, a fresh student to the dark arts that she was being schooled in.

"Oooohhhh," Yesenia nodded, and to the question, pondered sincerely.

"Probably everything is real now," she murmured, still in awe. Also, she had that thing? Where her skin cooled and thickened whenever she got scared.

"You ever run into someone who could do wizard things? I saw a video last year, some guy with hands making fire..."

Her voice had a wondering tone to it, and she expected this neck-romancer expert to keep educating her.

Everyone saw that video. It was the video of the fucking decade. In another decade, it would be in history books.

"I've met a few." Cris and Beau, at least, and she imagined other vampires were similarly inclined. "One who could copy other wizards' powers, which seems rather useless. Not like you're gonna bump into wizard people at the corner store."

The one who could copy powers? That actually sounded pretty cool, like you could try out a billion different kinds.

"Right..." she nodded. "Or the pride parade."

A small, shy smile.

Her skin seemed to cool and goosebumps rose, as if being talked about meant her power wanted to remind her that it existed.

Dax side-eyed the woman, masking surprise with cool interest. Was she implying that she... was also a wizard?

She dared a little breath, inhaling through her nose to pick up that scent again -- that signature X-Men smell. Close. Possibly originating from this chick. But there was too much else going on, a sensory overload because it wasn't enough to struggle moderating what emotions she picked up, she had to contend with fine-tuned vampire senses too.

Her hands shook as she reached for another hat to occupy them with.

"What can you do?" Dax asked, mentally preparing to make a joke of the question when the woman proved she was wildly off base.

In retrospect maybe saying that sounded like an admission of some sort?! Yesenia gaped at the other woman for a half second, and she had no witty denial to work with.

"How— I just meant— like—" and with each terrible stammer she was more and more like a mouse.

"It's like— my skin," she said in a squeakmumble. "Like Greed. From Fullmetal Alchemist."

Plz know what that is.

The woman devolved into a stammering mess, and Dax waited impatiently for her to get to a point.

Whoops, apparently Dax had misinterpreted that. But she'd still been correct, so she gave herself a mental pat on the back anyway.

So some kind of shielding or invulnerability? "That's metal," Dax said appreciatively, but then onto more important questions: "Are you an OG FMA kinda girl, or FMA: Brotherhood?"

First things first: her reaction was super chill. That made her relax a little and also wonder if she also had powers but then again she said she'd met others before...?


The next bit made nervous armadillo girl crack a grin, and shed the shyness.

"I think it's... really important to watch both actually, like. They go into the characters more in the first one. But the pacing in Brotherhood is great."

Dax couldn't argue with that. She was biased toward Brotherhood, but the original had its place, too.

She nodded her agreement, noting the woman's smile."I've started rewatching Brotherhood," Dax began, fully invested in dissecting the finer points of the series. "And overall, yeah, the pacing is brilliant, but goddamn if I'm not five episodes in and they still spend a third of every episode gushing in wonderment over Edward."

"I guess I just get so wrapped up in things that it never bothers me at the time. I only notice that kind of thing after the fact."

Plus she'd been younger and had less free time, so...

"Do you... also have, like. A thing?" This said quieter, a little more cautious again. She couldn't be called crazy, at least.

Dax was so sick of talking about the supernatural. Even her shitty movie date with Savannah, the most mundane outing possible, had ended in undead catastrophe. She just wanted thirty minutes to bitch about non-supernatural shit—why was that so much to ask?

She considered lying, but by the time she'd finished the thought, she'd waited too long for a denial to be believable.

"Yep," Dax confirmed tonelessly. "I do ghosts." The back of her neck prickled again, and she resisted to urge to swat at it like a bug.

She hardly noticed the mood change which was unfortunate.

"Oh... Oh!!" she stared in wonder, amazed very sincerely. "Like, real ones? Or." Well, probably real ones. But it was still pretty amazing. "Is that ever scary?"

Yesenia would be so so scared.

Okay, so maybe Dax had a weakness, and maybe that weakness was people asking about her ghosts. She softened minutely, but until the conversations segued into the TV preferences of the dead, "omg ghosts r real" was a tired subject.

"Nah. They're like mice—annoying but harmless." Dax looked up from the hat she'd been eyeing to flash the woman a toothy grin, rather like a shark that had smelled blood in the water."Wanna see one?"

Harmless? That wasn't what she would have assumed. She could just... summon a ghost, though? Like that.

She supposed skin hardening existed so why not all the crazier stuff.

"Um, sure," she said, though she was edging towards nervous than anything else.

Her grin widened, almost predatory and maybe a little self-satisfied.

"Alas, they don't like crowds. So can I get your number?" Dax asked smoothly, like that was the most natural, sane follow-up in the world. Just getting some gay digits under the pretense of showing off a ghost.

She was nervous she was nervous she was nervous she was so nervous.


Then. She was asked for her number. At a pride parade. And. Yesenia wasn't, like. Into women like that. Which made her feel guilty?

"Sure," she said anyway, because what better motivator was there than guilt? "As friends, right?"


"Wow, shot down before I even had a chance," Dax complained theatrically, clearly not all that put out since her wolfish grin hadn't faded; although she privately wondered if she just wasn't this woman's type or if she was already in a relationship.

"But friends is acceptable." "Friends" in large quotation marks, but friends indeed. "I'm Dax, by the way."

Oh no she really was like trying to hit on her or something someone help please she didn't want to have to let her down or—

Oh. Well. What a relief.

She gave a shy smile, pulling her phone out so she could get ready for the whole phone number exchange.

"Yesenia," she introduced, also holding her hand out for Dax to take.

Wow Dax really did not want to shake hands, but she sucked it up and ignored the way her skin crawled and the jittery combination of nerves and relief she gleaned from the touch, like too much caffeine.

And all that with a dry smile as she wondered how Yesenia's skin would fare against her fangs.

Come on, Dax. Was she trying to seduce or eat this woman? She just needed to chill.

"Ready?" Dax prompted, indicating Yesenia's phone with a meaningful glance, and would rattle off her phone number if appropriate.

The handshake was... just a normal handshake, Dax's hand cool to the touch. "Ready," she was, and afterwards, she sent out a text.

Yesenia*, sorry

Two texts.

Hopefully... nothing not platonic. "Wanna... grab something to eat?" she asked, figuring it was nicer than just dumping her here to amble around alone.

"I have food allergies" didn't really work in the middle of Pride when they could walk two blocks and find twice as many vegan and gluten-free options.

"I have big plans to get kicked out of a book club in twenty minutes," Dax declined smoothly, which wasn't a lie. She just coincidentally didn't have a working digestive system either. "Next time, though."

Oh. She didn't really get it, like... if she thought about it, she could get kicked out just by not being at the book club, or whatever, maybe?

Yesenia didn't know, but she could take a hint, or what she maybe wrongly thought was a hint but she was kind of really bad at knowing what was what. So...

"Okay, sure. Next time," she said, a little shy in her smile again."See you around?" She lifted a hand to wave, and would head off to wander elsewhere if she was right that it was time to bug off.

Dax hummed a note of acknowledgment. "Hit me up when you wanna meet a ghost," she reminded her, even though she didn't expect to ever hear from Yesenia.

She waited for Yesenia to turn away before gathering up her powers, which felt rather like gathering up a long skirt, only... metaphysically. Dax's eyes gleamed silver as she attempted to suffuse the woman with a little bit of calm. Just a parting gift for good measure.

Was that for real? Yesenia brightened a little, terrified of the prospect of ghosts, but...

She could feel herself calming down as she left, feeling good about the whole encounter. She'd probably reach out soon.

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