The Many Tales of Blackjack: Rabbit Season

"We may have to do without if I can't think of anything." Sergei said, faux-concerned. He stroke Erin's head, kissing her in turn. The two of them could continue at this rate until Sergei fell asleep, usually. "I'm sorry?" He said, sounding not the least bit sorry.


It was about a half hour later that Sergei, after a bit of effort, defeated the locks on Sasha's door and let Erin and himself into his apartment. Erin had established that Sasha was on a date with Heather at the moment, and it would look for cider after (or with) her.

"Here we are." Sergei said, flipping on the lights and rubbing his hands in anticipation.

"Let's hope he doesn't mistake us for burglars if he does come home." Erin set the locks behind them, just in case their little distraction didn't pan out. She paused for a moment to toy with Sergei's hair. "He has such a nice place, doesn't he? What do you think, my leveret, should I buy you nice things to outclass his?"

Erin had brought along one of her bags, with wine and glasses and towels and some spare clothing. She had changed into clothing that she didn't mind getting wet, figuring shorts and a tank top looked enough like a bathing suit. She still eyed the jacuzzi dubiously.

"How does this thing work?" she asked, prodding at it.

"That way lies madness, I think." Sergei said, regarding Sasha's apartment dubiously. It was all very chic, and Sergei always felt vaguely grumpy about chic. He grinned at Erin as she toyed with his hair. "Besides, I have already outclassed him with you. Let him console himself somehow."

Once they reached the bathroom, Sergei grinned even more, setting the jacuzzi to fill up, and examining the controls for a moment. Sasha had a very, very nice jacuzzi, state of the art, imported from Japan, with enough knobs and handles that would do a submarine justice.

"We experiment, I think." Sergei said, adjusting knobs this way or that and watching how the jets of water shifted. The tub even had a tiny computer in it, and programmed water-massage routines. Sergei was starting to reconsider having Erin get him better things than Sasha. Maybe just a jacuzzi. "And we get in."

He started taking his shoes off, and then shrugged out of his polo-shirt, his lean, hard body looking a little out-of-place under the bright lights with its tattoos. Sergei was most assuredly a creature of half-light.

"I dunno. He's got that new girlfriend that he's being smug about." Erin was distracted by all of the buttons and menus and dials, watching Sergei experimenting with them or fiddling with them herself. She was starting to have similar thoughts to Sergei right now. It was so sleek and smooth and complex. Maybe she could give him one for his birthday... he could soak in it while she thumbed through the user manual... ah, it sounded like bliss.

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"You won't tell on us, will you?" she whispered to the jacuzzi, as she trailed fingers across the control panel. Such a lovely looking thing. And she could use a little warmth after wandering around on a December evening, dressed like this. Erin mirrored Sergei in taking off her shoes, setting them neatly down by her bag. She didn't remove anything else, though, instead tiptoeing up the steps to peer cautiously into the water. The little moth carefully balanced herself on the side, sitting on the edge, and dipped a foot in.

"You are trying to boil me," she said. She squeaked as a jet of water tickled her toe.

"Yes I am." Sergei said, grinning. He was also wearing just shorts now, and stepped into the water. He took another step, and then a third, and then sank down into the hot water of the jacuzzi, a luxuriant smile spreading over his features. "I have seen you cooking so much, I have decided to try it myself."

Sergei patted the water gently. "Come on in, it's warm."

"What kind of spices go with a moth?" Erin asked, playing along despite still feeling uncertain about this whole escapade. "You won't get silk from me, you know."

She slid from the side and onto one of the steps, the water reaching up past mid-thigh. Erin's wings were puffed up and spread out, trying desperately to keep from getting wet, and thus she was left looking even more stressed and tense than she normally did.

"Eeee," she said, hugging herself and standing half on tip-toe. "It's hot."

"Sugar? Because you're sweet?" Sergei said, though he was distracted by Erin's difficulty with the wings. The Russian scratched his chin, considering. "Have you tried putting a cap of some sort on them? Like... a shower cap, of sorts? Only bigger."

This was the problem with having a romance between an engineer and a crafts-pixie. These kinds of conversations occured regularly. "You could make it out of silk, so it's soft."

"I could. They feel so cooped up, though." She'd had this trouble back in Siberia, when it came to wearing parkas to keep herself warm. She had to cover the wings so they didn't freeze, but it had nearly driven her crazy.

Erin settled back on the side of the jacuzzi, sitting down and scooting to sit by him. "Well. I don't really need them to fly, or anything. They just get really really soggy and squishy."

"Cooped up might be better than wet?" Sergei said, putting an arm around Erin's shoulder and drawing her closer to him. He ran a hand gently along the surface of the wings, getting a slight dusting of glitter for his troubles, which bothered him not at all. "I like them, they make you seem as an angel in truth, as well as one in deed?"

"Erin, though why do you have four wings now when you had only two before?" He asked, shifting his feet around in the water. "I am curious."

Erin closed her eyes in pleasure at the touch, but she seemed to become slightly somber at the question. "It is because I am becoming more like one of the fair folk, in truth," she answered, sighing slightly as he stroked her wings. "I was turned into this, but that was... not complete? Just the start of the transformation. Now it is progressing. It makes me stronger. And it makes me... even less human."

She took one of Sergei's hands, and just held it in hers for a while, as if he might suddenly fly away.

"I have an idea," she said abruptly, suddenly all cheer and mischief again. "Wait right here - I will be back in just a little bit." She swung her legs over, hopping down from the hot tub and briefly toweling her feet off, grimacing at how cold the outside would be compared to the heat of the jacuzzi. She'd better run while it was still clinging to her body. Still, it wasn't far - not thanks to the door right by Alek's apartment, that took her straight to her own Hollow. She returned briefly, holding another one of the strange masks. This one was different, with a dark, smouldering, sinuous look to it.

"This one is for Aleksander, but I haven't given it to him yet," Erin explained, holding it up for Sergei to examine. "So he won't mind if I borrow it for myself in the meantime." She set it up to her face. It wasn't that good a fit, but it began to mould to her features, spreading down her skin as if it were melting. The yellow scales were covered by something dark, with heat brimming below the surface like magma. The moth wings, the antenna, were lamentably removed, replaced by a form as sinuous as a dragon and as elegant as a tiger. Sasha probably would have looked a treat in it. Erin just looked weird. She felt weird, certainly, as a burden of painful shyness and a sensation of being less slid off of her like water. She blinked a few times, her eyes orange and slitted.

"I could get used to this..." she mumbled, coming up again to sit by Sergei by the side of the jacuzzi. She briefly ran her fingers all around a gold ornament on her forehead, then slid into the water beside him. "It must be strange, for me to keep changing on you."

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