MK didn’t just die in a horrifying and gruesome manner. They also had Ferdinand call her Rachel as he killed her. So not only did they kill her (a canonically autistic character… an aspect of her identity that they threw out there and promptly ignored), they robbed her of the dignity of dying as herself. Ferdinand killed her because it was as close as he could get to hurting Rachel without actually hurting the real Rachel. MK spent god knows how long and gave up literally everything to protect her sisters who barely even got the chance to know that she existed, and she wasn’t even treated as her own person in her death scene. I’m sick.
They arrive at the theatre far too early to take their seats, but Virgil doesn’t mind. At the very least, it’s giving him a chance to actually look around in the foyer, while Logan and Patton queue to get the reserved tickets. He finds a cabinet displaying photos and cut outs of reviews- and he notes with pride that Roman’s name pops up frequently. There’s a lovely candid behind the scenes photo of Rachel and Roman mid-high-five, and Virgil finds himself drawn to it. He can’t help but smile at Roman looking so radiantly happy in the moment. He catches the eye of his own reflection in the glass, and his cheeks warm a little. Sometimes, he thinks he’s so obvious, it’s a wonder the whole campus doesn’t know…
“He is rather adept at professional make-believe, I must admit.”
Virgil glances sideways to see Logan leaning casually against the cabinet. He smirks.
“Thank God Roman can’t hear you. ‘Professional make-believe’? Pretty sure he’d murder you on the spot.”
Logan shrugs. “Worth the risk.”
“It’s not just that,” Virgil says conversationally. “Have you read Roman’s thesis yet? It’s so cool, it’s like, the power of storytelling and different choices you can make and-” He cuts himself off, realising he’s gushing, and stands up properly.
But, it’s quite obvious that Logan hasn’t been listening to him at all. He’s still leaning against the cabinet, and his eyes have glazed over a little behind his glasses. Virgil follows his gaze, and spies Patton, chatting with the guy behind the box office as he collects the tickets.
- Rachel was born in the spring of 1856. She was 18 years old when she married Vincent Phantomhive.
- Her favorite flowers are white and pink camellias. (In Japan the camellia symbolizes the coming of spring. In Victorian England, the camellia was received by young women during courtship to symbolize the beauty and “adorableness” of the recipient. So, Vincent pretty much sent these flowers to Rachel by the carriage-full until she gave in and decided to let him formally call on her. “Persistence,” Vincent would often say, “can be the difference between marriage and a lonely life of pathetic solitude.” —> To which Rachel would respond, “I wasn’t particularly charmed by your father but I had to do something before he drove the camellia flower into extinction.”)
- Due to her asthma and frail constitution, Rachel spent a lot of her time learning and practicing the arts. She was a gifted pianist, talented landscape painter, avid art historian, as well as model and muse to many luminaries—including the portraitist Sir John Everett Millais, who wrote, in a letter to his old friend Vincent Phantomhive, “By all creation!—never have I seen a fairer face than that of Miss [Rachel] Dalles…she is exquisite in form, delightful in conversation, and possesses, without the impudence of so many young ladies of beauty, the warm affability of one whose grace and culture is genuine, [and] without the excess pretension of societal expectation.”
- When Charles Dickens, in his old age, visited the Dalles family (his daughter, Mary, had been particularly close with the late Mrs. Dalles before she passed), took one look at a young Rachel and cried, “Have I fallen asleep, or is this a mere heavenly delight? There, standing before me—is that my Lucie Manette?”
- Yet despite these words of praise and adulation, Rachel wasn’t actually all that fond of the poetic or tranquil arts. In fact one of Rachel’s favorite things to do would be to make up raunchy, crude tales of adventure and excess with her sister, Ann. They would challenge each other: the story must be distasteful, awful, vulgar, and dumb but be disguised as a tale of epic romance and eloquence. As a result, Rachel became extremely skilled in the art of the double entendre. (Or, as Vincent would say, “My wife has a very particular gift of making me want to fall on bended knee and explore the delta of Venus until I have learned all its secrets and drunk my fill of honeyed wine.”)
- Rachel and Ann made up their own secret language when they were seven and used it to communicate with one another until Rachel’s death in the fire.
- Rachel was an amateur astronomer and Vincent, upon discovering this particular fact, commissioned a group of artisans from the University of Milan to build his young wife a telescope like none other.
- During late summer nights when the air was hot and sleep difficult to come by, Rachel would take the twins out to the garden and teach them how to stargaze. Using colored pencils (real!Ciel’s was red and our!Ciel’s was blue) they would write down their favorite constellations in a little leather-bound journal that had once belonged to Rachel’s mother. (Also why RC chose to model the Sphere Music Hall on various star types: he simply saw it as another way to taunt his younger brother. Yet OC, so deeply traumatized by the effects of the fire, blocked out these memories altogether.)
- Rachel was an avid coffee drinker and didn’t quite understand why everyone was so obsessed with boiling dead leaves.
- She and Vincent used to go sailing around the White Cliffs of Dover, with Rachel navigating. Early in their relationship, when Vincent didn’t know much about the delicate honey-blonde, Rachel offered to navigate the sailboat for him. When Vincent expressed doubt that she could do it, Rachel shoved his disbelieving ass into the water and sailed to shore by herself.
- Her beautiful appearance and sweet smile hid a strong heart and even stronger personality. Humorous, witty, clever, silly, and self-aware, Rachel was a uniquely warm exception to the porcelain-faced debutantes of Victorian society.
- Rachel never really understood why Ann was always so self-conscious. In Rachel’s eyes, her younger sister was a striking beauty with her snow-pale skin, blood red hair, full lips, and enviable bosom.
(“Come now Ann, I think this dress would suit you perfectly!”
“N-no! You’ve been reading far too much of that libertine’s novels! Just look at the neckline, Rachel—“
“You know what, you’re right? We need something to show off that magnificent chest of yours—honestly Ann, your breasts could save mankind.”)
- Rachel admired her formidable sister-in-law Frances Midford and always felt better knowing it was Frances who would be guarding her husband on his missions for the queen.
Marco volunteers for the date immediately, as the only one on the team who is single and desperate. (Although, he admits, not desperate enough to sleep with a controller under any circumstances.) The thing is, though, that Sub-Visser Three-Eighty-One has a type: every guy Ax and Tobias have seen her flirting with in the two weeks they’ve been following her around has been tall, dark, and handsome.
Everyone on the team (especially Jake) somewhat doubts Jake’s ability to act well enough to play the part, but the only idea worse than sending Jake would be sending Ax to do it, so he reluctantly volunteers for the mission.
The setup goes more or less according to plan: Jake arranges to bump into the sub-visser coming out of a Sharing meeting, and to their enormous luck she becomes the one to ask him for a phone number. Jake suggests the time and the place, though, and doesn’t have to fake enthusiastic relief when she agrees.
The day of, Rachel spends nearly two hours dressing Jake in various combinations of the seven pairs of pants, eighteen shirts, and five and a half jackets that she bought for the occasion, before Jake throws up his hands and announces that he’s going naked if this nonsense doesn’t end soon.
Marco immediately declares that that would be a brilliant way to get Sub-Visser Three-Eighty-One dancing to their tune.
Cassie shyly volunteers the opinion that Jake looks nice no matter what he’s wearing.
Rachel tells them both to shut up, on the grounds that Jake getting arrested for public indecency would be just as bad for their plan as him showing up in the ill-fitting basketball shirt and ripped jeans he wore when he left the house this morning.
After Rachel’s initial attempt to teach Jake to flirt with her crashes and burns (“You’re the closest thing I have to a sister! I can’t just flirt with you!”) she substitutes Cassie into her own role. To her surprise, that manages to go even worse.
“Cassie,” Jake says, blushing so much he looks ready to pass out. “I like many things about you. You’re the sweetest person I know, and you’re brilliant at not just morphing, but, like, understanding the morphing. Oh, and you’re really smart at other stuff besides. You get people so fast, and there are all these things in science class that go way over my head that you pick up right away. And even though I was mad about it at the time, I thought it was cool that you saved those baby skunks—”
“CUT!” Rachel yells.
“You told me to compliment her,” Jake says indignantly. Cassie is currently examining the toes of her shoes with intense fascination, and appears to be fighting a fit of the giggles.
Rachel sighs loudly. “Not her personality. Think more physical.”
Jake takes a huge breath and draws himself up again. “You are, like, super strong for a girl,” he tells Cassie. “For anyone, really. That time when you pried that fox’s jaws open to make it vomit up the wolf poison—”
“CUT! Cassie, Marco, switch places!”
All three of them stare at Rachel in surprise for a second. Marco becomes the first to react, sidling up and sliding his arm through Jake’s. “So,” he coos. “Why’d a big strong man like you want to go out with little old me, anyway?”
“Because…” Jake glances at Rachel, who makes go on gestures. “Because of your hair. It’s very, uh, nicely done.”
Marco flips a few strands away from his face. “You really think it turned out okay? I only had time to run a brush through it a few times on the way over.”
“Yes,” Jake says firmly. “It is nice hair. And… you are… Notlikeothergirls!”
Marco bats his eyelashes, grinning now. “You really mean that?”
Jake attempts to smile as well. “I have never in my life met anyone like you, Marco. Seriously.”
“Now you’re getting it,” Rachel announces. She and Marco high-five at their own brilliance. Unseen, Jake and Cassie exchange a mutually baffled look and a shrug of bemusement.
Jake sets off for the date trailed fifty feet up by a red-tailed hawk and a northern harrier. He’s not sure why he’s wearing three shirts right now, or why the collars on all three are sticking straight up in the air (“Trust me,” Rachel insisted, “this is gonna be all over the country five years from now.”) like he’s a pastel version of Dracula. He’s also hoping he can take the weird flat sunglasses off soon—Rachel instructed him to hang them from the v-neck of his topmost shirt when he does—because the weather’s overcast and he feels ridiculous.
“What do we know so far?” he asks Tobias.
<Apparently, our dear little alien friend works in an arcade downtown, and is a big fan of shopping in her spare time. Likes: purple fabrics, smelling flowers, and spicy tacos from food trucks. Dislikes: dogs, dog owners, seriously don’t mention Homer, and small children.>
<Her selection of tacos was most excellent,> Ax adds. <The driver of that food truck adds large quantities of a wonderful substance known as Sriracha to his meat and meat by-products.>
<So we may have sampled the taco truck ourselves. Strictly for research purposes,> Tobias admits. <And yeah, Sub-Visser whatever’s got taste. Or Stacy does, jury’s still out on that one.>
“Stacy?” Jake asks, as loud as he dares.
<The name of her host?> Tobias says. <Seriously? Were you planning on walking up to her and being like ‘well, hello there, Iriess one-thirty-two’?>
“Stacy,” Jake mutters to himself, rather than admitting he forgot. “Stacy. Stacy, Stacy, Stacy, Stacy, Stacy.”
<And now you sound nuts, which should make a real good first impression.>
At Tobias’s urging, Jake stops at a stand outside a greengrocer’s and buys a dozen daffodils for her. He’s not sure if he’s allowed to take off the sunglasses when he’s standing under the shade of the awning, even though they make it very difficult to count out bills and change. He does know that he is not under any circumstances to push them back into his hair, because then all the gel will make a weird crunching noise and Rachel will boil him in oil when she finds his spikes deformed. He could probably fit the entire bouquet into one of the ridiculously large pockets on the pants that he’s certain are three sizes too large, but he tucks it under his arm instead. “I hate this,” he mutters.
<Be cool,> Tobias says. <If I could do meet-cute with Taylor in the middle of a coffee shop, you can survive ninety minutes of pumping a yeerk for recruitment tactics and Sharing plans.>
<I would recommend against bringing up Tobias’s decision to meet Taylor alone last March if you wish Rachel to leave the restaurant standing, Prince Jake.>
Jake gives them both a sickly smile of gratitude.
The initial meet’n’greet outside the restaurant goes reasonably well: Sub-Visser Three-Eighty-One exclaims over the daffodils, Jake remembers to call her “Stacy,” and with effort he ignores the skin-crawly sensation of Cassie (now a housefly) landing in his hair. By the time they make it into the restaurant, Tobias and Rachel are already posed at a different table with baseball caps in place, while Marco shuffles around in a white apron busing tables and Ax (despite eight or nine promises that this time he’ll be cool around food) remains safely out of sight and out of morph on the roof. If anything goes catastrophically wrong, the plan is for Cassie to alert Marco, who will create a diversion by overturning a dish cart while Rachel and Tobias hastily duck under the tablecloth of their own table—Rachel to morph, Tobias to demorph—as Ax provides everyone cover. Jake’s pretty sure that if his date wants to shoot him in the head there’ll be nothing the others can do in time to stop her, but at least he knows he probably won’t end up forcibly made into a controller by the end of the evening.
Rachel, blatantly eavesdropping even as she holds Tobias’s hand across the table and they stare into each other’s eyes (if anyone starts looking at them too closely they start loudly sucking face) has to admit that Jake does better than she would have expected. He asks “Stacy” where she got her shoes, laughs in a way that’s only slightly moronic when she compliments his sunglasses, and (after Tobias calls out a suggestion in thought-speak) even remembers to pull her chair out for her before she sits down.
As instructed, Jake waits until after they’ve already ordered their food to turn the conversation to the reason they went to all this trouble in the first place. He’s pretty pleased with how things are going so far, although then again he might just be light-headed from the smell of the instatan Rachel sprayed on him earlier.
“So,” he says. “You’re part of the Sharing, right? How’d you get into that in the first place?”
Ireiss 132 tosses a lock of Stacy’s hair over her shoulder. “My older sister got me into it, actually. She kept begging me and begging me to join, and then one time I just—Hey, you okay?”
Jake forces a laugh, doing his best not to think of Stacy, to think of Tom, to think but for the grace of God... “Sure. Just, uh, zoned for a second. So, the Sharing does a lot of recruitment events, right?”
<Don’t make her suspicious,> Tobias says unhelpfully. <Just keep her on her toes.>
“Yeah, we’ve got volleyball days, cookouts on the beach, whole weekends upstate…” She leans forward a little across the table. “You interested in joining?”
<Say yes!> Cassie suggests, at almost exactly the same time Tobias says, <Tell her ‘hell no.’> Marco, standing across the room, makes eye contact with Jake long enough to shake his head emphatically, just as Tobias adds, <Actually Rachel says to tell her yes.>
Jake closes his eyes for a second to find the patience not to swat at the back of his head and then throw a full plate of food at the next table over. “I don’t know, really,” he says diplomatically. “What do you guys do, anyway, besides sit around and eat hamburgers?”
“It’s all about community outreach,” Ireiss 132 says, apparently not noticing Jake’s hesitation. “We do days where we clean up litter at the park, we raise money to fund cancer research—”
<Of course they do,> Cassie says darkly. <Can’t have anything wrong with their prospective slaves, right?>
Jake, having missed the end of that sentence, has to make an educated guess. “Sounds pretty cool. Don’t you have, like, celebrity endorsements?”
“Oh, sure. There’s Jeremy Jason McCole, William Roger Tennant…” Ireiss ticks the names off on Stacy’s left hand. “That blond lady with the cooking show, Senator Malesin, Senator Argo, Angelina Jolie—”
<Angelina Jolie?> Tobias says.
Cassie gasps. <But she seems like such a nice lady on TV!>
<Who is Angelina Jolie? Is Prince Jake okay?>
<He’s fine. However, Rachel would like me to pass along a few comments with strong language about Angelina Jolie’s lifestyle, dress, and immediate ancestors.>
“Shut up!” Jake hisses.
Ireiss blinks at him a few times.
Jake clears his throat. “I just mean…” He changes his inflection. “Shut up! As in, you’re kidding me! You think maybe I could meet her sometime?”
“Join the Sharing,” Ireiss says. “We could make it happen. Once you get initiated as a full member your whole life opens up before you—you can’t imagine what it’s like.”
Jake forces another smile. He picks up his fork. This helps him to avoid giving into the urge to clamp both hands over his ears, slide under the table, and scream something about how they can never have his body. He can imagine the experience a little too well, and it’s not something he’s ever letting happen again.
Nonetheless, Jake manages to keep lightly deflecting Ireiss’s recruitment attempts while also digging for information, clear through until Marco—with a flourish—brings them a plate of mini cannoli for dessert. After he ducks away from their table he sweeps over to begin polishing the corner of Rachel and Tobias’s.
<Marco says he wants you to save him one, because they look delicious,> Tobias says a minute later.
Jake, who has just been distracted in the middle of Ireiss’s description of how they draw in community members to Sharing meetings, makes a mental note to define the term radio silence for the entire team when they get home. Then he picks up the last cannoli, very pointedly licks it, and puts it back on the plate uneaten.
<Marco says, and I quote, that there are ‘children starving in Montana’ that you are ‘not the man he fell in love with,’ and that he is ‘wounded to the depths of his soul.’ By the way, you do know not to offer to pay for dinner, right? Because you don’t actually want to get a second date out of this.>
“You were saying?” Jake says loudly.
Ireiss clears Stacy’s throat. “Oh, just that we really feel reaching out to vulnerable kids—as through the youth shelter I mentioned, and the after-school program—is the best way to offer them the Sharing as an alternative to gang membership.”
Jake dearly hopes that someone is taking notes on all of this, because if he suffered through the application of that much instatan for nothing he’s going to strangle someone. “That’s really cool. So is there, like, a place where you keep track of all the Sharing’s full members? Some kind of database or something?”
<Too strong, too strong,> Cassie says.
<Prince Jake, Cassie and Tobias have now been in morph for one-hundred-eight of your minutes. May I suggest that you put a wrap in it?>
<So close, Ax-Man, and yet so far.>
“…nothing that formal,” Ireiss is saying. “Hoping for more celebrities?”
“You know what?” Jake stands up. “It’s been real. But I’ve got a thing, so…”
Tobias is right: he emphatically doesn’t want a second date. Waving at Stacy, Jake pivots and walks out the door without another word.
They assemble in Cassie’s barn later that evening, Jake attempting to get one of Cassie’s horse-brushes through the horrible gel-stiff mess of his hair as everyone else trickles in. “Okay,” he says wearily, when they’re all present, “What did we learn today?”
“For starters,” Marco says, “That Tobias is apparently romantic as hell. Were I not healthily terrified of your beautiful and homicidal cousin, I would already be trying to hit that like a—”
<Before you can go any further, no.> Tobias glares at Marco. <Also, to answer your next question, I am also not interested in a threesome.>
“Besides that.” Jake rubs a hand over his face, smearing the makeup that Rachel insisted isn’t makeup across his skin. “What else?”
“I learned that, on second thought, lime green is not your color.” Rachel frowns. “I’m not sure the look works at all. You can take the boy out of the WalMart jeans, but you can’t take the WalMart jeans out of the boy, I guess.”
“Can we please stay on topic?” Jake asks.
“Angelina Jolie’s a controller.” Cassie smiles sympathetically at Jake. “So are two of California’s state senators, and a handful of B-list actors. The Sharing is recruiting at the youth shelter, which is just all kinds of gross and awful, and they’re making a push to move into more schools across the county.”
<Also,> Ax adds, <We have the names of several more businesses that have donated to the Sharing, and are therefore possible yeerk pool entrances. I suggest we start with further research on Burt’s Taco Truck, although I sincerely doubt that any yeerk would have that magnificent grasp of the subtleties of spicy and umami. Still, it warrants much more extensive exploration.>
They rehash everything Ireiss 132 said, hinted at, or confirmed in response to Jake’s questions for nearly two more hours. By the end of it they’ve got a decent plan in place for how to ensure the Sharing can’t spread any more feelers into any more parts of the community, and the beginnings of an idea for how to discredit the whole organization. By then it’s getting late, so Jake and Marco and Rachel all split off to head home.
There’s a note pinned on the fridge when Jake walks in. Midget— Some chick keeps calling the house wanting to know when she’ll see you again. Call her back or get rid of her, but stop clogging up the line with your dumb teenage nonsense.
Jake stares at it in incredulity for several seconds. “Goddamn yeerks,” he says at last, and balls it up to throw in the trash.