CW: Strong language, adult situations, violence, blood, gore, domestic abuse, murder jokes, sex (yes, all in the same chapter)
How late is this chapter? Let me count the days.
I’m sorry, y’all. I have been completely and utterly overwhelmed at work and with home renovation stuff. Every time I open WordPress, I want to cringe because I’m also way behind on responding to comments and leaving comments on everyone else’s fantastic lits. Just know I think you’re all incredible, I’m blown away by your observations, and I LOVE reading your shit, even if I can’t get myself together to tell you about it (and pester you with my insane theories).
I think it’s pretty clear that I got in my head about this chapter. I rewrote it 7 (YES SEVEN) times, and I’m still not sure it’s good. Although, what even is “good” anymore? I agonized over screenshots and spent approximately 8 billion hours uploading everything because I kept looking at it and finding “mistakes.” Some lovely simmers gave me great advice about overthinking, so you can finally read it.
TBH, I know I’m burning out because I am trying to do too much. My job is creatively demanding. It’s very cool and exciting, and I love it, but holy shit, I am exhausted. In addition to that, I’ve got a bunch of home renovations going on, I’m DMing for my longtime D&D group, and I’ve got some ideas for machinimas that I’m super pumped to make but require a very insane amount of prep work.
I want to spend more time playing, reading, and generally getting inspiration without feeling guilty about the next chapter’s screenshots. The only way that will become possible is if I temporarily move to a monthly schedule, so that’s what’s happening! I’ll beef up my posts if I start to build a bank of chapters or things slow down in other areas. But for now, expect this story to come out monthly.
And yes, Chapter 7 is already done (wink, wink).
I now return you to your regularly scheduled BBD AU craziness.
Planet Honey Pop, San Myshuno
“My first day back on the job, and they stick me with a smoking corpse? I must have pissed somebody off,” Taryn joked.
“It’s good to have you back,” Bella mumbled, her mind spinning.
“Uh-huh, sure. You seem distracted; what’s going on?”
Werewolves. Sims working for some kind of supernatural cover-up agency. Bella shrugged. “Just Mortimer.”
“Spouses,” the Medical Examiner shook her head. “Always on you about something. That’s why I cut mine loose.”
“You and Fred are splitting up? I’m sorry.”
“Please,” she waved a hand, “I’m only sorry we were so much of a cliche. Too many late nights, too many nightmare cases. Anyway, we’re looking at a struggle. The perpetrator knocked Johnny into the bubble blower and struck him with a weapon. See the plasma spatter? The victim fell back here,”—she pointed at the ground—”where he combusted.”
“Just like Eliza.” Bella scanned the room. “Is there passionfruit flavor in that bubble blower?”
“Spot on,” Taryn raised her eyebrows. “Lucky guess?”
“Another case, similar MO. Was Johnny taking some hits before the altercation?”
Taryn made a note. “I’ll have it tested for saliva. Why?”
“We have a working theory that the killer is drugging his victims with a bad strain of passionfruit.”
“I suppose an overdose could raise the internal body temperature. It would be hard to time it. I’d need more information about the flavors on the illegal market.”
“We’ll start running down dealers,” Bella assured her.
One of the young officers that had been dusting for prints cleared his throat. “You guys should probably bring in Salim Benali. He’s a low-level dealer, but I shadowed the vice squad for a few months, and they used him as an informant.”
The name was familiar, but Bella didn’t know why.
“Is he rich?” Deacon asked, scrolling through his camera.
“No,” the officer looked confused. “Why?”
“Footprints,” her partner looked up. “Hella fancy shoes. Can’t be Johnny’s ’cause he didn’t walk out of here. Oh, and he totes has a necklace just like Eliza’s.”
Alice’s Cottage, Windenburg
“I go walking!” Gwendolyn made a show of pulling on her tiny book-bag. “You sit.”
Alice waved the flashcard. “No, that was just an example. Mommy is going for a walk, but you’re staying here. ‘Walk’ makes a wah sound, so this is a ‘W.'”
Gwendolyn scowled, and Alice bit back a smile. The tiny terror wanted so badly to be invited on this date. “It’s a hike; you won’t like it,” Alice promised.
Hiking was another one of her free date ideas. She meant to keep things with Vlad in the realm of “just sex,” but her stupid heart refused. Against her better judgment, she let him take her to an expensive nectar bar and rent out a restaurant for dinner. In return, she’d taken them to a cheap matinee movie and coffee.
At least she was great in bed.
“Alright,” Alice stood and clapped her hands, “Let’s clean up before Mrs. Daily gets here, and—”
Her phone rang.
“Salim?” She moved into the kitchen. “I called you ten times, dude. What is your fucking problem?”
“Whoa, chill,” he laughed, “I got a lot of things going on.”
“Is one of those things child support?”
“What?” He huffed. “Come on, A. You told me you didn’t need my fuckin’ money, you were going to Windenburg to land a dope-ass gig, and that I could take my middle-aged girlfriend and go fuck myself.”
Alice looked around her kitchen. On a good day, she didn’t beat herself up about the things she couldn’t afford. On a bad day, she was desperate. “My gig is not that dope,” she sighed. “I’m just bartending. Gwendolyn needs her vaccines, and I gotta replace the fridge. I need some help.”
The phone made a muffled sound. “You want me to come over there? Hop a flight?”
She preferred dental surgery.
“We could reconnect. Bet your bed is cold. You know I’m good at warming things up.”
“My bed is warm enough!” Alice snapped. “And I don’t need your dick; I need you to send me some fucking money!”
“Oh, I get it,” his tone was like ice, “You got a boyfriend. Why don’t you ask him?”
“He’s not my boyfriend.”
“But he is there. You’re good at making something out of nothing.”
Alice struggled to stay calm. “Salim—”
“No, A. And you better not have some random fuckin’ dude hanging around my kid because you want to get railed and lock somebody else down!”
As if on cue, Gwendolyn toddled into the kitchen. “Snack, mommy! Please and crackers!”
Alice swallowed hard, tamping down the hurt and rage until it settled on a low boil. “No one is around our kid but me and the babysitter.”
“Snack! Snack!” Gwendolyn shouted.
One minute, she mouthed, holding up a finger. “Salim, you still there?”
She knew what he was waiting for. Calm, calm, she thought. “It’s not serious with this guy; I’m just killing time.”
The silence stretched. Words she didn’t feel. A suggestion that made her skin crawl. “Maybe you could come for Gwendolyn’s birthday.” Her hands squeezed into fists. “It would be good to see you.”
He made her wait so long that she thought he’d hung up. “I’ll think about it.”
I think I needed a WARNING that Penny wasn’t in this chapter. I kept WAITING and WAITING and …. sigh.
Well hopefully the combustion case will blow over soon. Haha little ticking time bombs. A high so intense it will blow your mind.
Dear God, Salim goes from gaslighting her to hitting on her. He’s a special kinda yuck. Like bruh, your dick ain’t a lottery ticket. Not everyone wants you getting them lucky. Ugh, and then Alice had to play along with Salim. Ugh my skin crawled. Salim is just a junk human and can’t take care of his kid. I can’t….
I don’t know what to think/feel about Mort v. Bella. Initially, in earlier chapters, I wrote Mort off as a jerkface. I didn’t feel that (entirely) this time around. The roles are def reversed (workaholic Bella and [sorry I forget what Mort does] household/family-functioning Mort), so I could definitely side with Mort this time around. They both have a lot of expectations on what the other should be doing, and don’t have a problem tearing each other down (pointing out their flaws rather than pointing out their strengths). I will say that while I was more team Mort during the argument, the fact that Bella fell on her butt and he so much as didn’t bat his fucking eyelid. Bruh. You ain’t cool. Maybe HE is the reason why she works so damn much. He sucks.
LOL Alice vandalized the laundromat on their first date (unbeknownst to Vlad), and this time Vlad openly did that in front of Alice. Oooh they are showing themselves. Wilderness outlaws! They thrive in adrenaline situations. THAT’S their foreplay. I must admit I found this to be my favorite part. It was very lighthearted (except for Alice’s “breakup” er “let’s just be bone-friends” scene). Damn. And then she ELBOWED him. Like dang, Alice, when you wanna give your man something he can feel you GO HARD.
“Yeah, we share a…uh…mutual acquaintance.” LMAO OMG THIS. I nearly spat out my tea laughing.
“I would never engage in the outright dismemberment of your misogynistic ex-lover without your permission.” VLAD CAME THROUGH. omg i died. And I hope Alice signs THAT permission slip.
Ferosh, is that a HIPPIE VLAD? and WHAT …. divorceS?!?!?!
On time to reply for once in my life! Yes, we will get back to Penny in Chapter 8. Oh, the downsides of having a large cast of characters!
Salim is…ugh…my skin crawled writing it. Honestly, I know Vlad needs to rein in his indiscriminate murder tendencies, but like, he should at least get Salim first.
MORT & BELLA, LET’S GET INTO IT!!! I’m very excited about this dynamic. I will be so interested to see where you come down. Is Mortimer acting like this because he’d fed up with being taken for granted? Or is Bella trying to stay out of the house because she knows it’s a bad situation? Who can say? (I mean I can, but you know…spoilers). Yeah, you caught the whole “not even bothering to help her up” bit.
Vlad and Alice. ::shakes head:: These two idiots. They are both trying so hard to keep their crazy under wraps and yet, here they are using running from the park authorities as foreplay. Some days I fear I have given all my best one-liners to them lol.
Oh yes, there is hippie Vlad (my god I cannot wait for the flashback scenes) and yes, your boy has divorces…plural. Very plural. What can I say? Vlad is a lover. He’s completely batty and a murderer, but also a romantic at heart. LOL.
(my lord I cannot wait for you to see all of his exes)
Cool; cool cool, after the play-by-play, I still have crap to unload.
RANGER JILL: My notes (in LaTeX obviously), presented without edits, read “she face. i love her. what a crazy as face.”
ALICE: All things considered, her track record with Gwendolyn is solid. In light of that, and the foreshadow-y sweater, and the other shadows in this chapter, I have a job for her: bunnysitting storm clouds. Even if it’s only partial control. If she can get the storm clouds out from under the furniture and eating oats from her hand, that is a suitable demonstration of power.
Also, way to pull a Xiyuan and not tell your supernatural love interest about your kid. If Gwendolyn follows Shu’s lead and introduces herself to Vlad by opening the door while he’s on the potty, she’ll win some sort of fancy award. Not that she needs it.
PANCAKE FUCKER: Is no longer allowed to dress himself. For manscaping, 10; for looks, 3. Really! Far more skin than we needed and not a body hair in sight. Wait, are Gwendolyn’s powers (that clearly drive off every babysitter) a combination of Alice’s and whatever P.F. has going on? Uh, let me guess. Bro-tanks falling from the sky (Deacon: “sick!!!”). Lightning bolts not paying child support. Some form of mind control ’cause it’s Gwendolyn and I know you wouldn’t be able to resist diving into the implications of having one of those in a romantic relationship w/r/t consent.
BELLA/MORTIMER (BORT) GOTH: That’s it. Alex and Cassie are now BORT and MELLA. Capitalization necessary. I’m gloriously in the opposite camp as Pink Sex. Before, it was clear Mort was getting a raw deal, but I should have realized earlier, esp. given the state of the world and stuff, that Bella knew she never wanted this and felt pressured into the white-picket-fence life anyway. Oh, fantastic! A problem with no clear or easy solution, where things have to get far worse before they get better! But also werewolves.
DEACON: Not tired of Detective Deacon. Will never tire of Detective Deacon.
Dear god, VLAD: Ok, ok, ok, ok. I’m seeing why Vlad owns so much of your heart. The total lack of anything resembling chill. At all. The appropriately violent anti-toxic-masculinity. The petulant brattiness after having gone through several lifetimes of trauma no mortal should have to see. (Like he’s tantruming over the hiking pass??? Really???) The going catatonic in response to head scritches. The asking for 100% consent. The complete non-understanding of whether this is a relationship. The “oh yeah, I forgot I had half the park and this cabin lying around” of it all. At least he remembered where the keys were. Anyway. I get it now. I understand.
I TOO WOULD ALSO LIKE TO SEE HIPPIE VLAD’S EXES. All of whom are not BBD!Nard? Hopefully? Hopefully?
THE CANDLES: I’m stumped. Maybe there’s something in the vampire book earlier ? Not sure.
Welcome to the Vlad Fan Club. There are t-shirts. Yes, he’s just a murder dude who has no chill. I like to imagine Latimer’s advice was like: You should be truthful with Alice if you think this is going somewhere and she’s special, but for the love of God do not come home married after your first date. And Vlad was just the meme of that woman staring off into the distance while math equations floated around him. He just wanted head scritches, permission to murder misogynists (okay to be fair, murder anyone), and romance. Also, maybe permission to rearrange your spices. Also, the occasional romantic stabbing. Is that too much to ask?
Hehe, the candles. Don’t worry about the vampire book. Why would you be worried about that?
Hippie Vlad is one of the best things I’ve ever done and we will absolutely spend some time with him and his exes.
Detective Deacon needs an award for carrying this show on his back.
BORT/MELLA – I love watching all the opinions about these two! Yeah, it’s interesting to have written this given the hot mess going on with women’s rights, but yeah, I’ve always imagined Bella as someone who made some choices she felt pressured into. At the same time, her family is here and she clearly does what she wants. There is a lot going on.
Pancake fucker – All of those Gwendolyn powers sound incredible. She is incredible. Alice also wonders how Gwendolyn came out to her and PF.
ALICE: How long can you keep Gwendolyn secret tho!?!?!?!?! LOL. Alice and Yuan bond over this at dinner.
Ranger Jill is a side character who now has become recurring on account of that face.
There really are T-shirts now. Thanks, Pink Sex!
(Vlad owns The Container Store confirmed?)
Oh, so the drug dealer that Officer Greenhorn was shadowing is the same guy that fathered Gwendolyn and then abandoned them both, is he? I haven’t even seen his face yet and he already sounds like a complete- yup, that’s a potato face right there. Alice. Alice. No. Don’t entertain this guy’s bull*** and just file for the darn child support. He’s legally obligated. Swallow that darn pride and fix your wall cracks.
Ooooooh Salim having the audacity to blame Alice for having “strange men around his kid”. Well there wouldn’t be strange men if you’d been a proper one and cared for your crotch goblin, now would there?
Oh, bloody hell. She forgot to go to her daughter’s show. Arguments with Mortimer aside, that’s actually heartbreaking. Poor Cassandra. There’s no better way for a kid to feel like they don’t matter than the parents treating them like an afterthought. No, Bella. You don’t get to blame Mortimer for this one. This is all on y- whoa! Don’t get handsy with her! Oh my gods I was completely on his side until he grabbed her and then just LET HER DROP TO THE FLOOR.
That’s it. You are terrible for each other. Line drawn, right there. Figure it out with the divorce attorney.
Hiking passes are a thing? 😐
Ah yes, and of course Bella goes back to work instead of, oh, I don’t know, CONSOLING HER DAUGHTER and reconnecting with her. Nope. Makes too much sense. Oh NOW he has child support to worry about? The mouldy, rotten piece of-
Whoa, I am just full of sunshine today 😁 happy. Happy thoughts!
Ah, yes. Bone out. Chill. Completely casual. My gods, Alice 😂 “So we’ve already broken up?!” Dead. Am dead. 😂🤣
Oooooh who is pink-hairs? Wait, who did we have before with pink hair… Miko? Eh, probably not. Who else… Aaaaah I want to know-OH MY GODS IS THAT L FABA?
DING! DING! DING! You win a prize for correctly identifying L. Faba!!!! My god I cannot wait for that flashback.
I like the two least casual characters in the story having a conversation about having a “just sex” relationship. Like Vlad has no chill. Neither does Alice, tbh. But Alice also understands more about how relationships work. Vlad has no idea.
Yeah, Bella is not thinking about Cassandra right now. She’s in the midst of a big case! There will be time later, right? Nothing bad will happen to make her question her choices.
LOL, you and Vlad are both upset about hiking passes.
Bella and Mortimer, whew, what a mess. I am so curious to see what you guys think about this as it evolves. I mean, will they get a divorce? Do the characters in this story make healthy choices?
Yeah, Salim is…the worst. And Alice’s relationship with him is pretty fucked up. I can say without a doubt, that being legally responsible for anything is not Salim’s vibe.
Yikes. Someone spilled a lot of strawberry jam there XC Alice’s cottage is so pretty < 3
Hey, nothing wrong with cheap coffee – it's the thought that counts! UGH gosh Salim… If you were so worried about another guy possibly harming your kid maybe you could have…you know…STUCK THE FUCK AROUND???
Work/life balance is nightmarish to balance properly in a way that pleases both parties, especially when you have a child as well, and especially with a job like that, and ESPECIALLY when they have to be hot on the trail of all these murders and have little choice but to be almost completely absorbed in your work. Bella probably can't just take time off for family when things are so dire with all that's going on. I'm wondering if she will start to take a step back for her family's sake though. Risk the job you need to look after family, risk the family you love to keep the job you need to look after family…It's a tough one, but creating a lot of tension.
I laughed so much at Bella needing a shower after Salim winking at her XD I was wondering earlier in the chapter 'How could a hike possibly go wrong?' and then I forgot Vlad was in the vicinity, anything could have gone wrong. I love these two : P Honestly I'd be surprised if Vlad didn't end up killing Salim sometime soon. (Just so you know I have no plans to stop him if he does. I'll look the other way…)
Ohhh goodness, that definitely ruins the mood, an elbow to the eyeball XD but also these kinds of imperfect and comical sex (or almost-sex) scenes are so GREAT. It gets kinda boring always seeing it as this super-serious moment over and over in other stories that always goes without a hitch. Vlad sitting there getting his head scratched like a lil cat XD In the flashback is that L Faba?
I love Alice’s cottage! Like it needs some care and feeding but it’s lovely. A YouTuber I follow built it and I adore it.
Salim is trash, I cannot stress this enough. And Alice has got some real effed-up opinions about herself because of it. He will not stick around but he will ALWAYS bring it up.
Yeah, I mean here is the thing, they are rich as hell. Like, they could hire help but then how would they hurt each other? Really though, they’ve got an unhealthy dynamic and they definitely don’t support each other. I agree Bella is not really in a career that’s good for just randomly taking time off.
How could hiking go wrong? LOLOLOLOLOL oh man, that’s another check in the Vlad v. Salim box!
DING! DING! DING! You also get a prize for recognizing L. Faba!!!! Vlad is a ::cough cough:: times divorcee who loves head scratches and doesn’t mind a little violence alongside sex LOL