Meulin told her Light and Seer, when Rose always thought herself Mind or perhaps Doom. (Seer, she has less of a strong opinion about. Not active at all, but the thirst for knowledge fits near perfectly.) Meulin said with Dirk's voice, and laughed too high and too loud, and does Rose trust her?
Not very much. Enough to risk this.
They're used to seeing her coming and going, the neighbors, and none of them remember that today, at this hour, none of her family will be here. (Especially not Dave. Especially not him.) None of the neighbors really care in this neighborhood, anyway.
She doesn't even step inside the Striders' apartment anyway. Cal is on the steps leading up to the roof; she arches a querying eyebrow at him and picks him up, carries him on her shoulder to the roof.
The door is chained closed, but Bro taught her how to jimmy locks when she was eight years old, and while she uses the skill for almost nothing else, this lock is familiar.
On the roof it's pretty quiet, only a handful of crows warming themselves under the sun almost at its zenith and cars purring faintly far below.
She sets Cal on an abandoned garden chair, plastic gone gray-green from exposure, puts down her schoolbag, fetches her tools. The string and the weights and the chalk to draw circles with, the mirrors and candles, an old pair of her mother's reading glasses, a plush owl Roxy won her at a fair and a plastic snake stolen from John's bag of tricks, three of her own used tampons in a plastic bag. She hopes they won't have dried too much yet.
"It would work better with live animals, I know," she tells Cal, who is watching her with vaguely dismayed amusement. "I did not think a pet shop would sell a snake to a fourteen year old without parental consent, though, and owls are alas not for sale. A pity; I would have liked one."
Plus the demon might -- likely will -- need them sacrificed, and while she would sacrifice live animals if the need were great enough, she thinks of how sad Roxy would be and thinks that perhaps the need is not that great yet.
Cal stares unblinking at her until she blinks first, and she presses a hand to her own cheek in genteel dismay (it amuses her to fake refinement.) "Yes, you're entirely right."
She goes to the tiny, tiny shadows left under the edge of the air conditioning units, pencils in hand, and finds herself a spider web to pluck. She's careful not to stretch it to the breaking point as she carries it back, sets it down on an appropriate-looking point of her circle.
"Any more suggestions? No? Very well, we shall proceed. Now please do hush, this is a delicate process and I will brook no interference."
She takes her place in the circle inside a circle, sits cross-legged. Her shadow is very small, tucked away under her. The sun is hot on her head, reflected off the roof; the sky is very blue behind the pollution fumes.
She has observed Dirk and Bro summoning on their own; Roxy has been taking lessons, and is almost ready to go solo. Rose of course is nowhere near any legal age but she has been following Roxy's lessons very closely. Closely enough to feel the shock under her ribs like the beat of an immense bell might feel to someone deaf, the tingle down her spine, the hair bristling on her arms and down the back of her neck.
It feels nothing like that.
It feels like she is the church bell, and someone rang her. It shakes her from the base of the spine on up, out, it crowds everything else away. She stares at the sky and rings herself louder, here I am who wants to know and understand and comprehend everything, and I will twist the odds with everything I have for you to give me this.
Something brushes against her like a fish in murky waters, and is gone, laughing. She wants to close her eyes, feel it without distractions; she doesn't. She stares harder into the sky until the blue has gone weirdly colorless, until she stops seeing it entirely.
Interested? she throws like a challenge. She knows the demon is.
Maaaaaybe! someone throws back, and flits away.
Does your nice little creed cover the other way around?
Is it the same demon? No, it's not, she has no proof but the faintest feel but she knows. It feels -- they echo off each other, but does it -- two demons at once? Two demons used to hunting together, to tricking people together, to--
Can she do that and not die?
But can she not do that, though?
Does it flip and twist, will you eel back around, use--
--my knowledge to bend the odds? Rose replies. She's sitting so straight her back should hurt; she doesn't care, because yes, yes. I will, knowledge to change the path and--
--break the odds and--
--see it change, yes, see how to make people bend and change and where and how--
--how to win and win and win and win and win and fuck the odds, who the hell cares, it's all yours--
--how to make people dance down the paths you choose.
She barely knows where one demon ends and one finishes, for all that they seem to fit like sides of the same coin. Neither of them, she thinks, is her perfect match, but between the two of them...
"I wish," she says out loud through an irrepressible smile, throat dry, "to make a contract with you both."