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Dave ST

IC: SE: "The Dance!"

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Modern Mythology Special Episode:
"The Dance!"

...with the 'death' of Spear-Finger the Scions of Salem high, as well as the mortal students, found themselves face to face with one of the greatest challenges so far this semester: the Homecoming Dance.  As far as social functions went it was the first dance of the year and the event that would make or break a social standing for a student for the remainder of the year.  Facing evil, mutated spirits and mythological monster of yore was cake compared to *gulp* the derision of one's high school peers.

It was a week preparation, at least, and unfortunately the Scions of Salem had spent all their time searching and rescuing children and battling evil Native American spirits and cleaning harpies from the surrounding forest near the lake.  Needless to say, they were behind the bell curve on preparedness.  It's not to say they weren't doing noble work, they certainly were, but the longer they balanced their natural life with that of the supernatural... the harder it seemed to be.  Not to mention the other Scions in Salem were not making it any easier on them... some more than others...

"Absolutely not."  Robert glared at Micheal as his spoon clinked into his bowl of cereal.  "Were it not for a good word from the Sheriff she'd spend the rest of the school year grounded."

Rachel sat across from her, 48-hours and counting, still angry, father.  Her father, Micheal, who stood behind the island in their kitchen trying to sip his coffee while still debating on Rachel's behalf.  "Bob, everyone saw it, she didn't throw the first punch.  She was defending herself."

"I don't care," she retorted.  "I know, I saw the video too!  In fact, thanks to our daughter's 'friends' everyone in the world has seen our daughter get into a brawl in a coffee shop.  You know who's also seen it?  College athletic programs.  What creditable school is going to let our daughter attend there after they've seen that?  I'm a police officer and you're a lawyer, Michael.  People think we have no control over our daughter anymore.  Fighting.  Bullying at school, breaking property... no.  No.  I'm done rewarding this sort of behavior.  She's not going.  After the game tonight," he pointed at Rachel with his spoon.  Sure it wasn't very intimidating, but dads just had a way of being intimidating no patter what, and Rachel had two of them!  "You butt will be back in this house and up in your room.  You understand me, young lady?"

Rachel pursed her lips, sighed and rolled her eyes.

"Rachel Vivienne," Father Bob snapped at her, using her full name so she knew he was pissed.  She hadn't heard that from him since she was eleven.  "Don't roll your eyes, did you hear what I said?  Home.  After game.  Am. I. Clear?"

Spoiler

This scene opens with Rachel.  The rest of you decide how you want your mornings before the dance to begin and I'll piggy back what you softball to me.  *puts on his spy glasses* Nadya, you have your mission. B)

It has been roughly 48 hours since to curb stomped Spear-Finger and sent her packing.  That was Wednesday, it's is now Friday morning.

This is a special episode.  It has nothing to do with the actual plot of the overall game although it may set up some plot points for you guys to touch base on later.  What that means is this: no matter how off things seem, or how obvious... you can't do shit about it during this session.  Nothing you do will effect anything during a special episode.  Plot is invulnerable, trying to explain plot points to people won't glean any viable solutions until the special episode ends.

In a nutshell, this a 'Have Fun Writing' episode.  So have fun writing.

 

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A hundred things...no, a thousand things went through her mind as she and her dad locked eyes. She could throw a tantrum, hurt both of them so bad emotionally that she would leave them bawling in each others arms. But no that wasn't right and it was petty.

Bob was right and she was afraid it would only get worse. The ichor flowing through her veins drove her in ways she couldn't explain, at time bringing out the best in her, but at others filling her with those qualities she found abhorrent in others. She didn't want to be like the other band.

This was the wake up call.

"Clear, dad." she said her shoulders sinking. "I'll come home after the game. I'm sorry I'll try to do better."

An hour later Rachel was pulling into the student parking. She got out and threw her backpack across one shoulder, at least they didn't take my car away. Yet.

She looked around and saw billy , her heart fluttered and dropped, this was gonna suck. She started walking that way and noticed that Billy was standing with Darcy. Rachel frowned, what is up with those two.

"Hey Billy, we need to talk." She called out and waved at him as she crossed the lot.

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[Rachel] She approached Billy and the sight her he smiled and greeted her.  He slung his pack over his shoulder and waited for her to catch up so they could walk together.  "Hey, Rae.  What's up?"

[Nadya] Today she felt great!  It was the night of the homecoming dance, her and the Band were doing great things in Salem... things couldn't be better.  Her old beater pulled into the school parking lot with a grumble and a backfire that sounded like it might be a mortar shell going off.  Okay.  Maybe her car could be better, but it was a classic!  Rae-Rae hadn't really been sociable the last couple of days and everyone knew she was in trouble for the fight at the Drip.  Were it not for Dari, she may have been banned for life.  The damages were minor (few a drops of blood on the pool table and a few glasses broken in the scuffle) but the Drip was treating it like her and Bridgette ran in and shot up the place, complete with bullet bandoleers and chewing oversized cigars.  By order of the Sheriff they were doing 'community service' there for the next few weeks, starting Monday.  Bummer.

So when she saw Rae-Rae she tossed a wave in her direction along with a wide smile.  Rachel offered a smile back and a solemn wave that warned Nadya that Rae-Rae wasn't having a terrific morning.  No matter!  With a sudden chill on the wind, as was common for the fall in Massachusetts, Nadya decided to let it go and give Rachel some time to come to her with her problems if she wanted to talk (not knowing that this time, Nadya was sort of the problem...).  She felt a tug... a pull that was guiding her towards something... something she wanted badly... a craving... Without another thought she was off to see her date for the dance.

[Austin] "Sweetie!" Austin's mother called as he skipped down the stairs.  "Don't forget your lunch, I left it by your pack!"

He hopped the last few steps and snatched up his pack (and lunch) and headed for the door.  He was already running a bit behind, and with all haste pulled open the door to his home and stopped dead in his tracks.  Yokiko stood on his doorstep, hand raised in a fist about to rap her knuckles on his door.  Awkwardly they both stood there for a moment, each equally surprised by the arrival of the other.

"Uh," Yokiko sheepishly begun her explanation.  "I was passing by, I thought maybe you would like to walk... together?"

[Fisher] Fisher had already showered and made his breakfast and gotten himself well on his way to school, as he did most every day.  His dad was a decent guy, just, not much of a doer these days, or any day in the last sixteen years or so.  Depression, anxiety, and a list of social disorders longer than some the words used describe them were all them had seemed to become.  He was still asleep when Fisher scrambled out the back door of their home, meeting Darcy out back with an offering that may have gotten the Aztecs to reconsider what they accept to fuel their Legend: cherry Pop Tarts.

"Ughmuhgawd," she mumbled as she stuffed her face.  "Shoguud.  Are you trying to bribe me, Fisher?  Cuz seriously, I made a promise to myself, I'm not putting out until prom."

Fisher flushed and looked all kinds of awkward.  Actually looked every kind awkward all at once, if awkward had every been categorized.

She bumped him in his hip with hers.  "Dude, I'm kidding, you've known me since we were like, ten.  How can you still possibly be weird around me?" she laughed.  Like most teenage women she was as clueless to Fisher having a crush on her as Fisher was about how to approach having a crush on her... it makes sense if you read it slow.  "Thanks for feeding me.  Dad was still drunk from last night and deiced to wring me through the judgmental 'not good enough, never amount to anything, oh and you're fat' wringer, so I bailed as quick as I could."

[Laurie] "Young Miss, I do not believe it would be in here," James, Laurie's valet said from the doorway as the young billionaire rummaged around in the closet of one of several guest bedrooms of her 'modest estate' within Salem.  "In fact, I must go as far as to say it is an absolute impossibility."

The lovely blonde poked her head out from behind the cover of the open closet doors.  "Why would you say that, James?"

"Because, Young Miss," he casually pulled the edges of his waistcoat.  "You've never been in this room."

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Rachel took Billy's hand and they walked up the path toward school. When they got near the flag pole she pulled him off the path into the trees. "Come on."

They went only a few yards to where they were covered from view of the path. Rachel pushed Billy up against a tree and pressed her mouth to his in a passionate kiss. "Am I too aggressive Billy?" she asked between kisses.

Billy was flushed and a bit unsure but he let his hand rest on her waist and upper buttocks pulling her into him returning her kiss as unexpected as it had been. "I..I don't know, don't care." After another minute of heavy kissing it was Billy who pulled away. "Hey, whats the rush Rae?"

Rachel hung her head and sighed. "I just wanted to ..."  She raised her head and looked into his eyes. "I just didn't want to disappoint you."

"What do you mean?" Billy wasn't quite following what kissing had to do with disappointment.

"My dad grounded me, because of the fight. I have to go straight home after the game. No dance." her voice was barely a whisper.

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Every kind of awkward indeed, as Fisher had been driven hard (as teenagers tended to) to imagine Darcy putting out with him, and the cherry filling serving as a useful prop in said coupling. With difficulty, Fisher tore his mind back to reality, thus he skipped over correcting her that no, he'd been in Salem three years, and thus it was 'like, before high school.' And then his face darkened hearing about her verbally abusive father.

"Asshole. Still... it could be worse."  He had no idea that it was, but Darcy was silent for a moment, recognizing the reference to his practically lifeless father. It was something Fisher chose not to talk about, so by convention Darcy too routed out that subject for the sake of her (possibly alien) (boy?) friend.

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Austin's lips curled into an honest smile, this was a very pleasant surprise.   It was refreshing to see she wasn't always so poised and perfect, that even she could get flustered, if only a little.  He didn't try to hide how happy it made him, and he nodded.  "Of course I'd like to walk with you, it'd be a pleasure."   When she moved aside to allow him to exit his home,  he closed the door behind himself, and then took up station closest to the street as they set out for school.   "You look nice today Yokiko."

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Nadya yanked open the door and practically pirouetted inside the school, then strutted down the hallway, the hidden heels of her over-the-knee boots clomping on linoleum. People starred, but then, they always did and it never (almost never) bothered her and this time, she knew they were looking on in admiration and want... or envy.

Grin widening, her tossed back her leather jacket. Her hair was tied up in a pair of pigtails, the tip of one freshly dyed blue, the other dyed red, and in the snug bustier, her boobs looked amazing. And with the mesh undershirt, she even adhered to the dress code. Barely. She was hawt and her boyfriend was going to loooove the look.

Spoiler

She's dressed up like this... minus the gun and mallet, and add a thin, black mesh top under the bustier/corset and detached sleeves.

0dd5af5462cc5078ff48e1e04a3d9046--cospla

Her feet led her to the computer lab, her silver-grey eyes widening in delight at the sight of her boyfriend. She grabbed one of the computer chairs, straddled it and with a kick, launched herself down the row of computers, the caster wheels skittering over the tiles.

"Heee-eeeeey!"

The boy of Nadya's dreams looked up and around at the sound of her voice and she slowed her glide with a dragging foot so that her chair just barely bumped into his.

"Na-Nadya?" he stammered. "Whuh-"

"Miss me?" Nadya cooed huskily, a finger toying with his bow-tied playfully. Then she grabbed a fistful of his shirt in both hands and pulled his close. "Miss this?"

The kiss was deep, thorough, and tongue-tacular. Nadya was almost breathless when it ended and her boyfriend was seeing spots. She planted her elbows on the low back of the chair and cradled her chin in her hands after giving her boyfriend's bewildered friends a wave without turning her adoring gaze from him. Her boyfriend hardly looked any less bewildered and startled - he looked adorable!

"Heya, Niles' friends, whassup? I can hardly wait for the Dance, Niley."

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On 4/3/2018 at 9:45 PM, Dave ST said:

[Laurie] "Young Miss, I do not believe it would be in here," James, Laurie's valet said from the doorway as the young billionaire rummaged around in the closet of one of several guest bedrooms of her 'modest estate' within Salem.  "In fact, I must go as far as to say it is an absolute impossibility."

The lovely blonde poked her head out from behind the cover of the open closet doors.  "Why would you say that, James?"

"Because, Young Miss," he casually pulled the edges of his waistcoat.  "You've never been in this room."

Breakfast was, as ever, a relatively quiet affair; the spiced apples atop the Belgian waffle James had prepared were delicious, and not too sweet, and the skies outside the row of full-length windows that separated the dining room from the modest garden were only just beginning to lighten at the horizon. As she ate, Laurie mentally re-arranged her schedule for the morning, cutting both choreography practice and violin by half an hour to account for the time lost searching for her missing shoe and deciding on something new to wear. She frowned as she chewed another bite of the golden, delectable fare, wondering where it could possibly have gone. James was right, of course. She really hadn't been in most of the guest rooms, and hadn't explored much at all of the rest of the house, which meant the shoe should have been right there in the rack next to its mate. Ugh. She had specifically chosen those exact shoes to coordinate with her pre-Homecoming outfit for school that day.

With a quiet sigh of resignation, Laurie set down her fork. As if the faint clink of silver against bone china (Caverswall, she recalled) were a sort of summoning ritual, James appeared at her elbow and quietly cleared her place at the end of the table. The birds were still sleeping, as was, she assumed, nearly everyone else in her part of the world, and only the faintest hint of lavender crept languidly over the treetops in the distance. And...

And what, exactly?

The entire house was quiet, insulated in the soft grey haze that preceded the dawn. The thick, woollen silence, usually comforting before a long day of shrieking teenagers and screeching chairs on cheap tile, only seemed to perturb her this morning. Probably it was just the disruption of her schedule, she reasoned, walking down the thick carpet that ran the length of the hallway to the music room and protected the immaculate hardwood beneath. But as the notes of Chopin's Nocturne No. 20 in C-sharp minor stretched and wound throughout the empty rooms and halls, filling the hollow, echoing spaces with music, the young violinist felt increasingly unsettled. She couldn't put a name to the feeling, but neither could she dismiss it entirely. It simply lingered, uncomfortably, taking up space within her chest as she went about her daily routine.

“Young Miss?” the valet inquired politely as she paced the length of the studio, stretching after her morning dance practice. Streaks of rose and gold painted the sky outside, “If I may... You seem rather restive this morning. Perhaps this might alleviate some distress.” In his left hand, gloved as ever in white, lay the shoe that had inspired her discomfiture. She smiled suddenly, relieved that all was still as it should be in her world. “Thank you, James! I knew I could trust you to find it, if it could be found at all.”

“Yes, well.” The older man cleared his throat. “I'll just return it to its proper place, then, and bring the car around when you're ready.”

Yes, all was still as it should be in her world, the house that was her sanctuary and her solace, she reflected happily as she showered, dressed, and prepared for the day.

And yet... As she fastened her seatbelt and James pulled the car slowly down the winding drive, there was still something, that feeling, stirring just behind her ribs, smaller now but no less present than before.

Hush, she admonished herself mentally, watching the scenery of Salem roll past the window. We have a busy day today, and then the dance, and there's no telling what sort of drama will ensue.

Hush.

 

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[Rachel] Billy shrugged, not to blow her off but more as a means of blowing off her worry for the situation. He'd assumed something like this would happen, especially considering her dad was a cop here in the city and his public image was important. “It's cool, Rae, and I'm not disappointed. I mean, you did slug it out with Bridgette, and in my humblest of opinions, she deserved every right hook you gave her. Not going to the dance together is a fair price to pay to see her get her butt handed to her.”

He put his arm around her and pulled her close. “So we can't go together, no biggie. We can still help Fisher and the other get well on their way to enjoying the evening. We can spend the night texting at least.”

“Ugh, Fisher...” Rachel grumbled. “Poor guy.”

“Yeah,” Billy laughed. “Don't worry, I'm helping him out. I'm teaching him some sure fire moves that will help him break the ice. I'm a master at suave.”

“Oh really?” She asked, skeptically. “That a fact?”

“It is,” He smiled at her with confidence beaming from his grin. “Got me making out with the hottest lesbian in school, didn't it?” He grimaced, half laughing and half wincing from the sharp elbow she dug into into his side. “Ow, ow... y'know I'm gonna have to talk to Mr. Guiler about this abusive relationship... I feel like were drifting apart...” He continued to laugh.

“Uh huh,” she pushed him ahead of her, her smile as wide as his. “Move it Casanova, we're gonna be late.”

 

[Fisher] “He's an asshole, true,” Darcy conceded. She'd never told anyone how terrible her father really was, with the abuse and wandering hands. She just felt that if she toughed it out for awhile longer she'd be out of school and free to pursue her life away from Salem, away from him. “But he's neither here nor there,” she changed the subject. A skill she was most proficient at when it came to her father. “So! Dance, tonight... what's the big secret? I still don't have a dress, which I put off getting at your request... so, c'mon, spill.”

 

[Austin] “Thank you,” she said softly. There was the slight curl of a flattered smile to her lips.

They set out for school, which wasn't very far from Austin's home. For several steps there wasn't anything more than awkward silence as they both fished for something to say. Ironic, considering they were both Scions of the Sea.

“My apologies,” Yokiko finally spoke. “If anything Bridgette has done has cause you or any of your Band any trouble. She is difficult to deal with sometimes, much like Eric. We are a senior Band, to you, we should be setting the example, but, it is obvious we still have much to learn.”

 

[Nadya] The entire class sat stunned, no one more so than Niles Horne. “D-dance?” Niles managed to stutter. Sudden;y his eye grew wide and he inhaled only to exhale a spoken thought. “Todd... Todd... dude... I think it worked.”

Todd was simply not ready to believe anything, but her certainly couldn't get his eyes off Nadya's outfit. “”What do you mean, what 'it'.”

“Duuuude...” he glared at Todd, nodding towards Nadya as she lovingly stroked the hair around his ear. “The thing.”

Todd Swain's jaw dropped as the last piece of a puzzle clicked into place within his mind. “No way...” was all he could mutter.

 

[Laurie] The old Rolls Royce pulled up into the parking lot of the school near the entrance and student drop off area.  As always Laurie received a series of looks and stares as she was the only person attending Salem High with her own chauffeur.  She slid easily through the throngs of students clutching her books tightly to her chest.  Most ignored her, as half the student body considered her too snooty to associate with while the other half just didn't care enough.  The fact that she'e been seen sitting at the outcast table at The Drip with Rachel, Nadya and the rest of the 'trouble makers' didn't really do well for her school rep either, earned or not.

"Laurie!" Shouted Eric from half way across the school.  He didn't wade through the crowd of people, they moved for him and the few that didn't found themselves pushed out of the way.  She got a few looks from the other students, especially some those close to the upper echelons of the school's social hierarchy as if to ask why Eric Donner would want to talk with her over anything.  Rich or not, she was still an outcast.  He finally made it to her and offered he a smile mingled with his usually blank stare.  "Hey.  We still on for tonight?  Everything still cool?"

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Nadya grinned playfully and waggled her brows in exaggerated suggestion, though her fingers strayed no further than to Niles' collar. "There's only one thing I'm interested in," she murmured, making her voice husky, then giggled at the wide-eyed looks on Niles and Todd's faces. "Guys! I'm kidding. You're so adorkable!" She squeed, giving Niles another quick kiss. Leaning back, her grin turned wicked and teasing. "Niles will have to wait at least until after the Dance and maybe until I have a few drinks in me for that."

The wiry, besotted teen forced her chair between Niles and Todd, and Todd had the option of making way or being forced to make way. Todd wasn't particularly tall, but he was on the heavy side while Nadya was wiry and slim, and relatively short. Yet glower of her silvery-grey eyes hinted that the size difference didn't favour Todd and dared him to be stubborn. Todd scooted aside to make space for Nadya, despite having a million questions for Niles.

"Thanks, Todd!" Nadya said brightly, turning back to Niles, a leg pressed up against his, gazing at him adoringly, her chin cup in her hand, elbow propped up on the back of her chair, not accidentally framing her corseted breasts for his pleasure. "You have sweet friends, Niley." She glanced back at Todd, giving her head a small shake to flip her pigtails back over her shoulders, her grin almost condescending. "And of course it worked, Todd. Confidence is mucho sexy. Even after I shot Niley down - and I'm so sorry for that, baby - he took it like a champ and didn't break down. Needed a bit of help with some math, and realized Niley here was actually a great guy. You should take a lesson from him, Todd."

A puzzled furrow creased Todd's brow. That wasn't how he thought last night went for Niles, but then again, he could hardly believe this. "But... but all this?" Todd stammered, gesturing at Nadya's outfit. "Isn't this going a bit overboard?"

Niles glared at his friend from around Nadya, warning him not to ruin this, but Nadya only gave a dismissive sniff. "When have I half-assed anything? Todd. I remember getting you guys the Arkham games and I wanted to do something special for Niley."

Nadya stood up and spun her chair around, then sat back down, making a production of crossing her pleather-clad legs and thrust her chest out. She laid a hand on Niles' forearm in a light caress, trimmed nails teasing his flesh. "Something fun as his first girlfriend."

"How about homework?" Todd asked doubtfully after he managed to pick his jaw off the ground.

"Okay, except for homework," Nadya replied with a scoff. Homework clearly didn't count.

"And paying people--"

"Are you trying to make me look bad in front of Niley, Todd?" Nadya asked in a soft, warning tone, twining her arm and fingers with Niles. The look she gave Todd made him feel like a fish being sized up for gutting.

"Nooo..."

"Nadya! Enough of the PDA and the whispering between you, Niles, and Todd," the teacher barked. "Get back to your seat and start your work."

"I moved my seat here, sir, so I could sit with Niles," Nadya claimed breezily. "Todd was so kind to offer moving seats for me."

"I--" Those silver-grey eyes regarded him, intense and heated, and Todd swallowed and nodded. "Yup. I did that."

The teacher sighed. He'd seen that looked in plenty of teen's eyes. He could enforce the seating arrangement, but then he and the class would have to suffer through endless moaning and sighing and covert-but-not-covert texting. Whatever, he wasn't paid enough to deal with this shit, this wasn't even his regular class.

"Fine, move to your new seat Todd and lets get this class started," the teacher said exasperated, muttering as he turned to walk to the front of the class. "Now, where is that lesson plan..."

Nadya gave Niles a broad smile then turned to her computer and logged in. Her head cocked slightly to the side as she caught her faint reflection in the monitor. The smile on her lips and the wide shining eyes looked goofy on her face. She'd always mocked those who made goo-goo eyes at each other, who acted all saccharine and lovey-dovey. But she understood it now and it didn't seem goofy to her anymore.

Throughout class, the rest of the students waited for the prank to be over and for Nadya to destroy the nerd who had had the audacity to asked her out to the Dance... but it never happened. When the bell rang for the end of the period, she took her bag and his over one shoulder, then strutted out of class with him with an arm around his waist. With her heeled boots, she was actually slightly taller than he was, but Nadya didn't mind and she didn't care what anyone else thought. She couldn't wait to go to the Dance with Niley in her new dress, maybe she'd wait even higher heels.

 

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"Secret?" Fisher asked out loud before rethinking quickly. The boutique thing was by default suspicious, given Marius passed out the tickets, but he couldn't be lurking to cause mayhem in that spot 24/7, right? So if he went with Darcy to keep an eye on her, things would remain relatively safe. "No secret. We can go and cash that ticket this afternoon."

Darcy gave him the skeptical eye at this about-face. "I thought you said the guy who gave it was bad news."

"Yes," Fisher awkwardly admitted, "but I checked it out. It's all good." Ok, a lie, but he really didn't want to draw out this topic and treading on myth-security any further.

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It was third period and that was Rachel's Office Aide period. She was supposed to hang out and study in either the front office or the counselors office, and be available to run errands. She had gone to the office and gotten permission to sturdy in the library.

Rachel entered the hallowed sanctum of the Salem High Library and as usual found it eerily empty.

“Mr Syracuse?” She called softly, perhaps too softly.

“Up here Ms. Cooper in the mythology section.” came the comforting British accent floating disembodied on the air.

Of course he's in the mythology section where else would he be. Rachel climb the short stairs and made her way around and into the dark stack of books. “Really Mr Syracuse, can't you put some lights up in this place.” She stopped suddenly raising her hands as the librarian appeared as if out of thin air. He gave her hands held in a martial arts defensive stance a glance and a tilt of his head. She dropped her hands suddenly embarrassed. “Bright light can damage the books most of them are older than antiques. Also the shadows lends an air of mystery, don't you think?”

“More like creepy horror” She said under breath as she followed him around to where he was working, straightening the ancient volumes.

“What can I do for you Ms. Cooper?”

She picked up one of the books flipped open to a page with some weird drawings which she thought were somewhat pornographic but wasn't sure because Archie took the book, closed it and put it on the shelf without a word but the look he gave her kept her from opening any of the other. However she did keep on picking them up, just now she handed them to the librarian.

“Well?” he prodded her.

“I have a problem. Mr Syracuse”

Archie smiled “Of course you do and please call me Archie when there are no faculty around.” he didn't mention that he had asked her and her band to call him Archie a thousand time since meeting them, yet she still called him Mr.Syracuse. “Whats bothering you Rachel?” he asked again.

“It's the dance tonight. I've been grounded and I can't go...”

“I understand how upsetting that must be but I make it a policy not to interfere in the home life of those under my tutelage.” He shook his head conveying his heartfelt regrets.

“Oh no that's not it. I deserve the punishment. No it's the rest of the band i'm worried for. Their going to all be there and I'm worried that because of me being grounded, I won't be able to protect them.”

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"There's no need for you to apologize for her actions, Yokiko, though I appreciate the sentiment, Thank you."  He smiled warmly, moving at a pace with her, "We all have so much to learn.  Thankfully we have each other to learn from."   So far the bands hadn't worked together so much as concurrently, and Austin knew they'd not been idle before.   "Both bands have members with difficult personalities, but We've already been through alot together, I can't imagine them being that different really.   So long as we all make it back at the end of the day, well, I'll be happy."

Even with everything going on in preparation for the dance, he was content with things going how they were.   He refused to get too stressed out about anything, at least right now.   "I just hope that the Dance will be fun for everyone, and peacefully lacking any of the other excitement we've had to deal with up until now."

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Hearing her own name bellowed across the throngs of bleary-eyed students trying to sneak one last smoke before the bell, or grab a toaster pastry from the cafeteria line, was not how she expected to begin the school day. But, then again, she also hadn't really expected Eric to agree to her proposal in the first place.

On 5/24/2018 at 12:48 AM, Dave ST said:

He finally made it to her and offered he a smile mingled with his usually blank stare.  "Hey.  We still on for tonight?  Everything still cool?"

Okay. So, Donner maybe wasn't the smartest guy in Salem, but when he smiled at her like that...  It felt like she'd been struck by lightning. She'd been so focused on what they were doing when investigating Spearfinger, she hadn't really noticed, but he just seemed more... Just, more than the few guys who actually talked to her. She could feel herself blushing as the spark he'd just ignited in her stomach sent warmth creeping up into her cheeks.

Keep it together.

"Hey," she replied, unable to stop herself from smiling back at him, self-consciously twisting end of the flaxen ponytail draped over her shoulder. "Everything's still cool. I, ah, actually meant to ask earlier, but would you rather we take your car, or get a limo? Your friends could ride with us."

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Breakfast at the Cotter house was an awkward time, like most moments when the ladies of the house were in the same room. Beth sat at the table, eyes distant and unfocused as she mechanically spooned cereal into her mouth. Wendy bustled about, getting ready for work. She was still new enough on the job that every day she felt a need to impress people. Her bar was significantly lower for her daughter. Just being acknowledged by her would be a win.

For her part, Beth was just brain-deep in the internet, checking out the morning news, glossing over the fresh memes, checking out the replies to some of her comments from yesterday. She chortled and ate another bite of Cheerios without really tasting them.

"Something funny?" Wendy asked, looking for a way in.

Beth blinked and glanced over at her mother questioningly. "Huh?"

"You laughed just now. Thinking of something funny?"

"Oh." Beth shrugged and tipped her bowl up into her mouth to finish off the excess milk. "Kind of."

Wendy hesitated, hoping for more, then prodded, "Well, what was it? I could use a laugh. Still got the butterflies."

There was a moment, a wild and incandescent moment, where Beth dangled the idea of just coming clean to her mom in front of her own nose. Yeah, I was just checking out the nerdrage on Reddit to my glowing praise of The Last Jedi, which I can do by the way because apparently I have super powers and dad's a god. Literally. Oh and by the way me and some friends got in a scrap with some kind of Indian demon-thing the other day. Can I go to school now, mom?

Hmm. Me and some friends? Really? Maybe. Nadya seemed cool in a sort of tryhard kind of way. Could fault her for that...the same observation fit herself. And just about every other kid Beth knew. Being a teenager was all about trying hard, seemed like.

Wendy was still waiting for an answer. Beth scratched her head and said, "I don't think it'd translate to 'old person' very well," then cracked a grin.

Her mother sighed and went to fix her hair for the third time. "Well at least your face isn't buried in that computer all the time now," she said, as much to herself as to Beth. Then something occurred to her, a fragment of conversation she'd overheard at work the other day. "Have you decided who you're going with yet?" Wendy asked, a little too innocently.

There was a clunk of plastic on metal as Beth deposited her bowl in the sink. She turned around, frowning. "Going with?"

"Yeah! To the dance."

Beth was sure she heard a kind of malicious glee in those last three words. She summoned up the school year calendar to her mind's eye and scanned over it. "What, Homecoming?"

"Sure! Why not?"

"Because...no, you've got it backwards. The question is why, not why not."

Satisfied at last, Wendy turned to face her daughter. The conversation was now back where she liked it. "Because you're new to this school too. I hate the idea of you just sitting around, alone with your computer, not making friends or letting anyone get to know you."

"Mooooooom..."

"You're a good girl, Beth. You have a lot to offer. If someone asks you out to the dance, you should go. If no one asks, you should ask someone."

Beth rocked her head back as if physically struck and complained again, "Mom...I don't even like dancing. I don't even have, like, a dress or anything. Besides, no one's going to ask me, and there's no one I've met that I'd want to ask, so..." she made an explosion noise and gestured with her hands flying apart. "There go your dreams."

Wendy leaned forward and planted a smooch on Beth's forehead, ignoring the younger girl's scowl and forehead-wipe. "I have to go to work. You just remember what I said. You don't have to be a stranger here. It's a new place, with new people, and you can be whoever you want to be with them. All you have to do is want to. And don't worry about the dress. If you need one, we'll get you one. That's not even a problem, okay?"

"Mom..."

"Okay, bye hon!"

Wendy hurried out the door with, what Beth assumed was, a big smug grin on her face.

Beth closed the door too hard behind her and stalked off to get dressed for school. It was more than a little unfair, she thought, that fucking demigods had to deal with this kind of shit AND Mythic Trials or whatever. No one ever wrote stories about fucking Hercules worrying about the 'roids wilting his boner, or Perseus trying to date two chicks at once and it being super-awkward.

Which doesn't mean it never happened, of course. What will they write about me?

That she hadn't gone to the motherfucking Homecoming Dance, probably. Maybe.

She'd see.

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[Rachel] Mr. Syracuse set down the few book he was holding and motioned to a chair for Rachel to have a seat and share a few words with him. He nodded In understanding and offered her a caring smile. “That's certainly admirable of you, Rachel, indeed. However, as a leader, one of the most difficult things you will have to shoulder is the burden of wanting to protect, and or save, everyone.”

The fact is: you can't always be there for them.” When Rachel gave him a disapproving look, saying that wasn't the answer she was looking for, he pressed on. He'd been a guide for thousands of years, and this wasn't the first time someone like Rachel had come to him with the same question. “I'll try and help you the same way I helped Joan d'Arc.”

She died,” Rachel delivered with all the matter-of-fact prose that could only be possible by a teenager.

He laughed and rubbed his clean shaven chin. “Alright, you got me there, but it was her time. There was nothing more she could do here. It was time for her to rise to greater things.”

You mean, she's...” Rachel just looked up to the murals the adorned the ceiling of the library.

Indeed, yes,” he offered in his usual posh tone that was always gentle and soft. “You remind me a lot of her: strong, noble, passionate. You love big, or not at all.  Forget the stories you've heard, her life had little to nothing to do with King Charles VII or the Catholic Church. No, she was a warrior, par excellence, and she battled the Titans minions on all fronts as they ravaged the countryside of France. She wanted to protect not only the French, but everyone. However, she was a great leader, and instead of trying to protect everyone, she did one better.”

Rachel narrowed her eyes as he paused for effect, “She taught them to protect themselves.”

Precisely.” He, he tapped the table, knowing she would hit the nail on the head. “Be their leader, instill in them the skills and morale to stand up and do hat needs to be done, when it needs to be done, whether you are there or not, and they will be just fine. Just remember, Rachel, and I say this with a heavy heart: you can't save everyone, Rachel. The harder you try, the higher the toll Fate will claim from you.”

Spoiler

+1 XP for using your band's guide for actual guidance!  Great work!

[Fisher] “Okay, this afternoon then,” she smiled at him, barely keeping in check the smile she had. Her cheeks flushed and it seemed the more she tried to hide it the more she seemed to gush like an enamored teenager (which she was) which she spent night after night in the mirror telling herself she would never do. Fisher though... he was handsome, sweet, and they'd never 'gone out' before so everything that they had was based on pure friendship, the way, she felt, relationships should be.

But he was different lately, he was... different now, possibly an alien or some other creature that possibly stole Fisher's body and her friend was possibly locked away in his own basement, or worse... no, she didn't want to think of that. Him and his new 'friends' were weird, and she was going to get to the bottom of it.

Hopefully, her partner in crime, Billy was having better luck than she was.

[Austin] “As do I,” Yokiko nodded. “Thankfully, more powerful spirits, like the one we battled recently, are not common. Hopefully we have earned ourselves a reprieve.” She walked along slowly, holding her lunch bag in front of her with both hands. They came upon the school, sharing in that awkward silence so common among teenagers with crushes. She didn't mind though, sometimes the oceans raged and roared while other times they were calm and silent. She took solace in the current peace.

I must be going she said finally, pointing the doors she usually entered through. I have only a few minutes between classes to check the dark room and reserve my time for the day.” Austin noticed the shy smile the curled at the end of her lips. “It was a pleasure walking with you.”

[Nadya] [Skipping Nadya, since she is one period ahead of everyone else.]

[Laurie] “Oh, yeah,” she could see those gears slowly turning behind those empty eyes of his. “We probably won't all fit in the Goat.” He counted off with his fingers while naming off his band mates. “Yeah, prolly gon' need a limo. “I know Yoki is going with that lame ass Lange, and I don't think Bridgette is going tonight. She's been in hardcore bitch mode since she got in that fight with Cooper.”

Eric seemed to swing from 'rather charming' to 'cave man' in his manner of speech and body language almost on a dime. “S'all good though, leaves more room for us, right?” He smiled and shot her a wink. She was sure he just meant to 'tap' her in the arm, to accent his joke, but his great strength made it feel more like a 'slug' to the arm.

Oh, I gotta leg it, Coach wanted to see me before class. Talk later, yeah?”

[Beth] If Beth heard one more Homecoming comment from the students around her she was going to lose her ever-loving mind. That's all anyone was talking about and she was reminded every thirty seconds-

Oh. My. God.” Some random female students walked past her as she was at her locker, digging for books. “Jared totally just text me and asked me to go!” They all squeed, loudly, and Beth wanted to place her head in her locker and just slam it repeatedly until the noise went away. Make that twenty seconds.

She closed her locker door and it was straight out of a horror movie, Dane Summers was standing opposite her, hidden by the door and he about scared her to death. “Jesus, Dane, what the Hel!?”

Hola, Bethany,” he said with a dazzling smile and that surfers drawl like he was Bill and Ted's love child. No, Chicken Joe from Surf's Up... Bill land Ted were a sacred institution and he could not take that from her, no matter how hot he was... for a stoner hippie surfer... guy.

Dane, I'm not really in a good mood, right now. Please, just...”

The Scion of Baldur stood up straight from his lean against the lockers. Beth knew she was playing with fire. Dane was about as harmless as a kit rabbit, but he was one of those pretty Scions, and they had a way of getting in your head. Although still new to the school, she was grateful Laurie was on her side and saw how terrible pretty Scions could be thanks to Mercedes' examples. “Woah, hey, sorry. I just had a question, I swear, that's all...” He raised his hands in peaceful offering.

She rubbed the bridge of her nose and held her bag. Keeping he hands busy were the best way to not slap the crap out of him for scaring her half to death. “Why do you have to be so pretty,” she muttered softly to herself. All she wanted to do was walk away, but something made her stay and that same something was keeping her from not liking him right now. “Fine. What, Dane?”

Dane perked up immediately. Nothing kept him down for long. “Righteous! Kay, so, like,” he whipped his hair back out of his eyes and she about wanted to choke him... while getting lost in those eyes and bittersweet scent of sandalwood he brought with him into every room. “Arron and me are totes doing the dance thing tonight,”

Very progressive, it's current year, I'm happy for you both,” she said dryly, wanting him to get to the point.

Dane laughed. Gods! Did anything annoy this guy!? He was eternally happy it seemed. “Good one!” He finger gunned her and pressed on. “Totally walked into that one, nice. No, what I meant was that he's D.J.ing the dance and I'm doing a few live sets. Nadya said you were, like, an ace with computer stuff so I was hoping maybe you could help us out a bit? Calibrate the lights and make sure we haven't totally screwed it up, yeah?”

You don't have to answer now,” Ugh, and he was so nice about everything... “Seems like you got a lot going on, so like, just hit me up later.” He looked at his wrist, that didn't have a watch. Chances are he was stoned out of his gourd, which he usually was. “Woah, I'm totally, late... I think. Maybe. I'mna jet, later!”

He darted off and Beth sighed, took a deep breath, and headed off to class.

Spoiler

Ending this series of scenes, nice work so far.

The next scene (below) is a short lunch scene to get everyone back into the swing of posting.  It is set during lunch and the rumor of Nadya and Niles is now around school like wildfire.

 

__--==(@)==--__

If Eric's brain was rumored to be the slowest working brain in Salem, Rachel was currently inadvertently attempting to break that record. She had been slowly chewing her sammich for the last minute or so, struck dumb, completely, by the sight she was witnessing. Indeed, the rest of the band, who, as was normal, gathered at 'their' table for lunch only to see Nadya and Niles on the opposite side of the cafeteria. She was nuzzling him feeding him fries and 'booping' him on the nose with Twinkie filling only so she could lick it off (she was told twice already to stop by the faculty, but kept doing it) and the constant laughing and giggling form the two of them was enough to make all those around them a bit awkward... so much so, they practically had the table to themselves.

Laurie's sushi, still tightly clamped in her chop sticks had been hovering near her mouth for about the same amount of time. The sheer absurdity of the entire scene just seemed to defy all logic (and these kids tossed out logic a long ass time ago).

Did... we miss something,” Fisher said, his cheek resting in his palm as he tried to piece this together.

Austin just shook his head. “Uh, I-... I don't even.”

Laurie's sushi finally slipped free and went rogue, plummeting back into her lunch container, and no one seemed to notice.

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43 minutes ago, Dave ST said:

"Precisely.” He, he tapped the table, knowing she would hit the nail on the head. “Be their leader, instill in them the skills and morale to stand up and do hat needs to be done, when it needs to be done, whether you are there or not, and they will be just fine. Just remember, Rachel, and I say this with a heavy heart: you can't save everyone, Rachel. The harder you try, the higher the toll Fate will claim from you.”

Rachel listens and let out a breath that wasn't quite a sigh but was maybe close. "I get it Mr. Syracus, I really do and I'd like to learn more about Joan of Arc, the real stuff, but that's not exactly  what I need right now." Absentmindedly  she pulled a book from the shelf and flipped through the pages, she saw lots of gruesome drawings made even worse by the dim light, she quickly shut the book and slid it back into it's place on the shelf even as the Librarian was preparing to speak.

"The dance is tonight and I am not going to have time to teach my team anything and warning them isn't going to help. We were approached last night by Marius at the coffee shop. he gave all of us tickets to some place called Evelyn's where we could get special clothes for the dance. I tore mine up. But everyone else took theirs and I think it's a trap. That bastard is evil and I don't buy his story one bit. For all I know he may have even set up the fight I got into.

But the band bought into what he was selling and even though they say they are going to be careful, all of them still took the poison pill, if you know what I mean." At that moment the bell rang. "I gotta go I just thought  someone needed to know."

__--==(@)==--__

Rachel set her sammich down and took a sip from her water bottle. "Gross doesn't even begin...," she shook her head and glanced around the table, it was just the band minus Nadya. Both Billy and Darcy who had started sitting with them occasionally were not present at the moment. "Guys I'm not going to be at the dance tonight, I got grounded because of the fight. As soon as the game is over I have to go home." She said leaning over her lunch and speaking softly. "I'm also not going to be able to check up on the puppy so someone needs to d that today. look I know you guys think I'm just a hard ass but be alert tonight, I don't care what he says, Marius did not give us those tickets out of a sudden change of heart. He wants us dead or on his side. Maybe even both."

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"That makes me the canary in the coal mine." Fisher answered, drawing looks from Rachel and company once their Nadya-slowed brains readjusted themselves. "What? I'm going out with Darcy, she was there when Marius gave them, holding out leads to questions we have a hard time providing a good answer for. Also, he knows we know to suspect everything he does. If he wanted to set a trap, it's not going to be an obvious one. Most likely this is the carrot, showing he's a 'human being' to pair with the stick of sending goons after our families."

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Rachel wrestled with the decision she needed to make. "i talked to Mr Syracus this Evelyn person, Basically she is an amazon and really doesn't care for men, but she was also in a band with Marius and... they were married. Mr S says she isn't like Marius and may be the one who told Marius to give us the tickets. I don't really know but I intend to find out."

With that she push away from the table and walked over to where Nadya was making a fool of herself. "Hey Nadya can i talk to you for a minute?"

Nadya acted like she didn't even notice Rachel and kept right on flirting with Niles, if that's what you wanted to call it. "Nadya? Hey Nadya?" Rachel put her hand on the smaller girls shoulder and gave her a little shake. "Nadya, I need my tickets back. I saw you pick them up at the coffeshop, can I have them?"

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"Give me min, Noodles, Rae-Rae needs me," Nadya cooed, booping Niles on the nose with a finger instead of Twinkie cream.

Reluctantly, Nadya peeled her gaze from Niles's eyes, eyes like warm, molten chocolate and looked up at Rachel with a mischievous smirk and a twinkle in her silver-grey eyes. Rachel blinked, somewhat disconcerted at suddenly seeing the Nadya she was used to rather than this new Nadya who was... whatever she was.

"Finders, keepers, Rache," Nadya teased, slipping out from under Rachel's hand and tipping her chair back on two legs, stretching out heeled boots crossed at the ankle on another abandoned chair. Seeing Rachel's glower, Nadya's grin widened, even as she quickly continued. "But I'm not greedy," she said, without a great deal of truthfulness, "I don't need a second pair of tickets. I'm willing to trade."

She chuckled at Rachel's dumbfounded disgruntlement as she reached into her satchel and pulled out a pair of tickets. Whole tickets. Rachel had to look close to see the clear tape that joined the tickets, their ripped ends matched up perfectly.

"For what?" Rachel grumbled suspiciously.

"Two things," Nadya said with blithe cheerfulness. "One, you have to go to the dance."

"Can't. Grounded," Rachel ground out through a clenched jaw.

"Pshaw!" Nadya waved the tickets between her fingers dismissively. "I know that. So what? Go anyway. The ticket will net you a slamming dress at least. What're your dads gonna do? Double ground you? Take two weeks instead of one, or the tanning, if your dads swing that way. Do what you want, and pay for it."

Or not, if you can get away with it...

"That's one thing." Rachel's nostrils flared with the effort of suppressing the need to throttle Nadya. The one was beyond bizarre, but 'regular' Nadya could be infuriating. "What's the other?"

"You have to tell me who you're going with? Who's your plus-one on the ticket to get the Cinderalla treatment." Nadya reached around and hugged Niles with an arm that held surprising strength, almost lifting him out of his chair. Her smile showed teeth in a Cheshire grin. "I found my sweetums' in Niley here, surely you have your eyes on someone. I mean, it's Billy, I'm sure, but I want to hear you say it. Say it and agree on the other, and we have a deal."

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For his own part, Austin had been quite happy just being together with Yokiko, When they said their goodbyes he didn't try to hide his pleasure at her company, but was respectful and said nothing of that cute shy smile she gave him.   

Later, gathered at lunch with most of his band, he listened to Rachel's warnings regarding Marius' gift to them all, and that she wouldn't be able to go to the dance, along with her and Fisher talking more about Marius.  The Information about MArius and Evelyn was good to know, and he knew she'd dig deeper, he just hoped she'd not go it alone.

Just as he was about to add his own thoughts on everything, Rachel finally had enough of the bad comedy that Nadya was currently perpetrating, and went to speak with her.    Austin looked to Fisher, noting that they were both mostly paying attention to the scene that would unfold.   "I think you're right about this being the Carrot, Fisher.   A one time deal, to show us a benefit of his side."

he saw the exchange, and Rachel's reaction, and winced  "Oh lord, whatever she said just Got to Rachel, I recognize that look."  He didn't move though, Rachel was smart enough to not cause a ruckus when she was already grounded, right?  Still he was ready to move quickly, should the need arise.
 

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Puzzlement crossed Nadya's face for a moment, then in flash, she was on her feet, puzzlement replaced by cross annoyance. Even wearing heels, Rachel still had a few inches on Nadya, Rachel's looming now one of attitude rather than height.

"Listen, Cooper," Nadya hissed, "I didn't say anything when you started going all goo-goo for Billy." There was a pause, then she shrugged and smirked. "Okay, I did say some things, but I never thought you were high or anything. Look, I'm just trying to make up for lost time."

Nadya scowled at the expression on Rachel's face and she led her away a few feet, dropping her voice so they wouldn't be overheard. "Not mine, Niles. He's never had a girlfriend - like duh! - but he never even kissed a girl. I'm trying to catch him up on several years worth of the girlfriend experience."

"That doesn't quite... sound like you."

"He helped me out with some homework and my benevolence knows no bounds," Nadya added loftily. Rachel looked extremely doubtful. "I reconsidered, okay? Niles been shit on his entire life. I know what that's like - some - and I decided fuck the haters and to throw it in their faces. I'm having fun - surprisingly, he's a quick study - Niles is having fun and maybe will gain some confidence. It's all good... except for one thing."

Nadya flicked Rachel on the nose with the taped up tickets. "Do we have a deal?"

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Rachel snatched the tickets out of Nadya's hands surprising the little thief  "Yes I'm going with Billy," she shoved the tickets into her jean pocket, "if I go which is still undecided but don't worry I will let you know as soon as I do. And Nadya, I don't care if you go with Niles or whatever this is. But if you hurt him for no other reason than your own fun. Band mate or not, you will have to face the consequences."

Without another word Rachel spins on her heel and marches straight past the table with the rest of her friends and out of the cafeteria.

Spoiler

Rachel is going to find Billy and the two of them are going to skip the rest of school so Rachel can visit evelyn's... at least that is the plan, because you know...Rachel

 

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Spoiler

Rachel is on the move... you guys better get going!

"Okay, you're in enough trouble as it is," Billy closed the door to Rachel's mustang and walked up the curb, meeting her by the hood.  "You sure this is a good idea?  Your dads are gonna lose their minds."

Rachel scoffed, rolleing her eyes.  "Yeah?  So it'd be different how?  In for a penny and all that, what can they do?  Double ground me..." a shiver ran up her spine as she shook away the hebie geebees from quoting Nadya.  She mumbled under her breath.  "All Father, I'm starting to talk her.  I need to hit something, soon-ish."

"Hmm?"  Billy perked his brow up under the impressions he'd heard something.

She blew it off and simply approached the store front.  "Nothing, just... well, here it is."

The shops at the pier were just as she remembered them, Billy too.  four rows of shops, the Drip along the northern row, was a common hangout for them.  Today they looked at the eastern row, just before one met the ocean view.Rachel had been here many times before and quickly noticed that 'Evelyn's Boutique' was certainly new.  A thin building that seemed like it was squished and wedged in between two other buildings where Rachel knew an alley used to be.  It was nearly half the size of the other shops built in classical 'town square shops' manner of style.  It was black with black and golden cloth awnings hanging over the windows to keep the sun out.  On each of the two front windows on either side of the single pane glass door was gaudy, yet beautifully written was 'Evelyn's Boutique'.

In each of the display windows were mannequins dressed in the latest feminine fashions that Rachel didn't particularly find herself wanting, but certainly could appreciate their quality.  One wore a simple pair of leggings that fit the display perfectly with a white top cut a bit low but still keeping it classy and a pair of wedge heels that were certainly modest.  The other was in simple jeans, yet they again hugged the display to show how they could easily accent a woman's frame along with an attractive black top that fell off the shoulder.  Both were adorend a variety of accessories like bracelets and necklaces, all of which she noticed had intricate knot work etched into them.

"I'm generally a mall guy, but this place has seems to have some nice stuff," Billy pointed to the glass.  "Love that belt buckle, pretty cool."  Then it dawned on her that her and Billy were not seeing the same things in the windows.

"C'mon," she smiled at him, reaching out for his hand.  "Let's check it out."

Doubtfully her date sighed and raised his eyebrows in disbelief.  "Small place, I doubt the got much."

The closer Rachel got to the door the warmer she noticed her butt getting.  There was a time when she would have found everything wrong with that previous statement, but now that she was the daughter of a god, it was pretty much her typical Monday.  Giant wolves, child eating hags in the lake, oh, and now her ass was on fire.  Yup!  Monday!  With a sigh she pulled her two tickets of golden foil paper out of her pocket and saw that they were now, quite alight with a soft golden aura and faint trickle of golden motes like fairy dust in every Disney movie... ever.

"What the hell?"  Billy mumbled.

Rachel looked to him, the tickets, and back to him.  "Y-you can see this?  You're seeing this?"

A voice echoed in the threshold where they stood.  It was stern, feminine and laced faintly with am educated Gaelic accent.  The door opened on its own.  "He can see it.  Now enter children.  One mustn't linger in doorways.  It's considered... rude."

Gripping Billy's hand a bit tighter she crossed over the threshold, because Rachel Cooper wasn't about to be intimidated by anyone, especially some...

'Wow.' Was all her mind could form as it was paralyzed in absolute wonder and awe.

The shop was huge on the inside, with a second floor in the back she could see because it had an impressively carved balcony railing.  The small shop should have been smashing into the sides of the two stores on either side of it, but... it didn't.  The whole place was adorned in blacks, reds, golds and silvers.  Ever inch of every surface was covered in beautiful baroque carvings depicting knot work, symbols, and patters that amazed as well as hypnotized.  Racks, shelves, display cases were all covered with items of obvious function and others whose functions remained quite questionable.  Clothing from all periods hung from circular wooden racks, just like those one might find in an outlet store, but the carvings, the detail!  The entire room was lit by old, 18th century oil lamps in the wall and from massive chandeliers, putting off way more light than it seemed like they could.

"You must be, let me guess... split ends, black heads, clogged pores, dirt under the nails, jeans, t-shirt... Rachel Cooper."  On the balcony stood an attractive woman in her late thirties, early forties that had the cougar look perfected.  True to Archimedes's description she had a penchant for black and her lips were blood red.  It didn't surprise Rachel much, most of the Scion-like people she'd met so far seemed a bit flamboyant.  She was in black leather pants and a black blazer that was low enough to show that teasing line of cleavage and it seemed to shimmer like a fabric she'd never seen, as if it were sequined without the sequins.  A single blood red rose adorned her lapel.  Her hair was long and black, pulled up tight in a tall topknot that cascaded down her back, blending with the shadows of her outfit.  All of her buttons, buckles and jewelry were silver set with black opals, several of which were in the form of ravens.

Ugh," she rolled her eyes, obviously unimpressed with Rachel.  "Damn you, Marius.  Cuir síoda ar ghabhar ach is gabhar i gcónaí é!"  She shook her head and gave them the universal gesture that she would be one moment.  "I'll be right down."

She turned away from the balcony, her long hair swaying with the turn on her perfect curves.  "So, ditching school.  You're early," Rachel gasped in shock and spun about as the woman was now standing directly behind the counter not far from them!  She cracked a matronly, yet wicked smile.  "Oh, stop it.  That's the least of the oddities you'll find here, honey."

"How did she?!"  Billy looked to the balcony, then to her, then back to the balcony.

"Oh!" She seemed to be alight with glee.  "You haven't told him," her laugh was like freezing water you just wanted to be drowned in.  "This is going to be wonderful."  She leaned against the counter on one elbow, giving Billy an eyeful of cougar cleavage that Rachel caught him gawking at.  She extended her leather gloved hand to them both.  "Greetings, sweetie.  I am Evelyn.  Purveyor of exotic antiquities and homecoming attire."

Spoiler

Evelyn2_zpslxuuar7h.jpg

"I can't make a silk purse from a pig's ear."  Is what she said.  I know Rachel doesn't speak Gaelic, but it helps to understand what was said so you can understand the tone with which it was said.

 

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At the Shop

Rachel's brow furrowed at the older scion's antics and at Billy's obviously enraptured state and she knew she had to do something before the poor boy started drooling. “Billy,”she said poking him on the shoulder with a steely finger, 'Billy, eyes up here.”

The young man was hormonaly challenged by the generous cleavage being displayed but the sudden pain in his shoulder and the waa waa of Rachel's voice broke through. “What?”

“Billy, your going to hear things and...see things you might not understand but I'll explain it all later okay?”

Billy nodded stealing another glance at he amused woman's cleavage before looking back at Rachel and answering “I don't know what your talking about Rach, but Okay.”

Giving her new boyfriend...wait did I just think boyfriend... a smile she turned her attention and her sour frown back to Evelyn.  “ Yeah I am Rachel Cooper and I have these," she held up the two tickets, "your ex gave them to me and my band and, well,  I'd like to know why. Think you can enlighten me?”

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"My 'ex'," her sneer announced that first wave of cattiness had begun.  Rachel knew little of other gods or pantheons, and her penchant for tact always left much to be desired.  In short, all she needed was a shield to chew on and she'd be a complete Aesir.  "Well, aren't you just a ray of sunshine.  The simple answer is: yes, I think I can."

She smiled wide, her red lips almost malicious in their intent.  "I like you.  Under all the ham-fisted bravado," she twirled her finger in reference to Rachel.  "There's quite an interesting woman, no doubt."

She took the torn ticket from Rachel and looked them over with a quirked brow, as if to imply she wasn't the least bit surprised that Rachel's would bear the mark of her distinctive, yet destructive, personality.  "Yeah, they got torn," Billy chimed up, dutifully covering for his 'girlfriend's' knack for breaking things.  "Hope they're still good."

Evelyn folded the ticket halves over one another.  A moment later she unfolded them and they were whole again.  No rips or tears, and even the crease of her fold had disappeared.  "Of course they're still good," she said while lying them on the countertop.  "They're only purpose was to lure you here, and now that you're in my shop."  Her eye narrowed evilly.  "You can never leave.  Frankly it was easier than I thought..."

Rachel clenched her fists and scowled.

Evelyn broke into a  melodic laughter that left her breathless for a moment, she was fanning herself with the tickets as she tried to speak.  "Oh, sweetie, I'm only kidding.  You really need to lighten up.  Yes, William, yes... the tickets are still 'good'.  After all, they're mine, I can do with them as I please, honor them or not, as I see fit."  She walked around the counter, now approaching Rachel on equal footing and realizing were it not for heels of her boots, she and Evelyn would be about the same height.  She held a finger up as she stopped in front of Rachel.  "However, allow me a moment to educate you on something sweetie, this one's," she presented the ticket she mended.  "A freebie.  You're young, new and a bit fresh to all this madness, so I'll let the fact that you spat on my invitation and, by proxy, my hospitality, slide this once.  However, child, I would urge you to be more careful of what you go around breaking and destroying... one day you might break something that can not be replaced.  In the future, think before you act."  She shot Rachel a slate clearing wink.

"Now," she placed her hands on Rachel's shoulders.  "You came for answers, and a dress, yes?  Marius said you were a little... 'rough', but I think we can find you something that doesn't involve camouflage or professional wrestling."

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Fisher dropped his face into his hands for a few moments as Rachel stormed out, very clearly not caring about school attendance any more. Whatever Nadya said, it had torqued Rachel into doing this - and he knew better than to ask either of them WTF? Being the thoughtful number two of this Band was more headache-provoking than tolerable, necessary as it was.

And the Niles-Nadya question. Considering how Nadya had gently refused Niles days ago and then praised his courage, a turn-around on her part was not implausible. This lovey-dovey level though? Something just smelled wrong about this. Fisher needed to figure out what.

Great, Nadya was rubbing off on Rachel, and Rachel was rubbing off on him.

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Sensing that Fisher was about to do something, Austin sighed.  "I wouldn't go over there.   I'd wait until they're not together, and then try to talk to her.  I can try to talk to Niles, if you want."   

He met the other Scion's gaze.  "Whatever that is, I really don't think it's natural, and I admit some small part of me wants to record it for later, but I know better.   We need to find out what's really going on, one way or another.  He found it hard to believe something hadn't happened, as he'd never seen Nadya like this before.

He waited to see what Fisher thought of the idea,  ready to act to help a friend.  Rachel was of course doing what she felt she had to, and likely getting herself in even more trouble for it.

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Fisher shook his head. "It might be, or it might not. For now, wait and see." If this was the truly wrong thing his gut said it was, the genuine red flags would pop up sooner or later. Pressing like Rachel probably just did would do no good. Besides, there was Evelyn's Boutique to visit later and the dance tonight. "I mean, it's bizarre, but not yet Nadya suddenly hovering and shouting she's Gozer the Gozarian."

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"Thankfully, yes.   But  if and when that happens, you are definitely getting elected to go talk her down for making that reference."

Austin shrugged and finished his food.  "So you're going to use the ticket too?"  he asked conversationally.   "At least if there's an issue, we're all taking the risk together.   Do you already have plans for dinner lined up, or going straight from the game to the dance?"

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"Darcy and I are going to the Boutique after school. Between then and the dance... I don't know." Fisher said before fixing a glance on Austin. "Why, are you suggesting a double date with Yukiko?" Fisher didn't object to Austin's going out with his fellow Japanese Scion, since she was probably the most reasonable of the other band, and not just by comparison with the likes of Eric Donner or Mercedes Rhodes.

Heavens forbid one of his band go out with Eric Donner...

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"The thought had crossed my mind, yeah.   Strength and Safety in numbers and all that.  I have no idea what everyone else is doing, but I figured you would likely have the most normal plans."   Austin smiled, his tone suggesting that what he said was a compliment.    "If you're gonna watch Rachel's back someone needs to have yours."

He didn't know how Yukiko would respond to it, but if she said no to it, he'd accept that, and plan a quiet dinner for the two of them.

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Austin felt something peck his forehead and a glance up then down revealed a paper plane with a crumpled nose fluttering to the cafeteria table, something written on the wings. He frowned at it, then unfolded the paper, finding something written in Nadya's messy scrawl.

Hey, los jack numb twits, I can hear you! Keep worrying about your dates and stop worrying about mine! I know what I'm doing!

Under the two lines of writing was a rough doodle of a cat - or was it a racoon, maybe a fox? - holding what appeared to be two rabbits - possibly deformed miniature hippos - by the ears. It's free paw was holding a curved knife threateningly near their necks.

The boys glanced up just to catch a glimpse of Nadya slipping out of the cafeteria, Niles in tow.

"What was all that about?" Niles asked, slightly breathless trying to keep up with Nadya as she clackingly stalked down the hallway.

"Just friends not understanding what being an outsider feels like," she growled. He didn't see the frown that crossed unknowingly across her face. Why would she think they didn't understand what being an outsider felt like? They were all the ultimate outsiders. But it hadn't always been that way, only since they found out there were godblooded. "Nor what it looks like when two outsiders finally find themselves and have fun. C'mon."

"Where are we going? We're not skipping school, are we?" Niles said, heart pumping with thrills and trepidation.

"We're not leaving school property," Nadya assured him with a sly smile. Yet.

~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~

"This is the school parking lot," Niles commented doubtfully.

"Technically, still school property," She countered brightly, leading him by a hand towards her lemon yellow Mercury Cougar parked at the far end of the lot.

"Wh-why are we at your car?" Niles asked with rising excitement and nervousness.

"Because there's less people to gawk at us and I didn't want to use the Library and bother Mr. S," she informed him, opening the driver's side door and pulling him into the back seat with a wicked grin.  She caught her reflection in the side mirror and her brows furrowed. Why when she felt so giddy and was grinning did her image look like it was grimacing, the narrowed eyes so disapproving? Bah, mirror should say 'Images In Mirror Are More Scowly Than They Appear.' "Besides, this it totally part of the girlfriend experience."

"It's kinda cool in here," the bewildered boy hedged, wondering if he had gone too far. Maybe he should text Todd and brainstorm...

But Nadya was having none of it and Niles train of thought was derailed when she straddled him, her hands bunched tightly in his sweater, pulling his face so close to hers, he could feel her hot breath. "That's alright, the heater barely works anyway. But I know another way to warm the car up."

Her lips met his as she kissed him fiercely. Niles was struggling to regain his breath, the windows fogging up as Nadya shrugged out of her coat, then paused with her shirt halfway off.

"You do have a suit for the dance, right, Niley?"

"Uh, ye-yeah," Niles admitted once his brain could interpret what she was saying while he stared at perk breasts encased in a racy black bra. The dark green suit he had worn to his cousin's wedding still fit.

"Good," Nadya sighed in relief as she finished pulling off her top. "We're gonna leave a 'lil bit early - sorry 'bout that, guess we're skipping school some - so you have time to get ready and I have time to get my new dress. I wanna surprise you with it and so blow your innocent mind."

Her silver-grey eyes glittered darkly, suggestive of what else might be blown between now and then. She could have brought Niles along to Evelyn's, but he was already being overwhelmed just having a girlfriend. It wouldn't be fair to reveal everything his girlfriend actually was and involved in, just yet. He might have a heart attack or something. Some baby steps first, before he got thrown in the deep end.

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"Well, I just know what I've heard," Billy said casually, apparently willing to give up whatever his girlfriend wanted to hear.  "Apparently your sexuality is on the table for discussion because of Mercedes and her little 'Amazons'," he air quoted, not understanding that they actually were amazons.  "She's been blowing up your rep since before I got back, not sure why though.  Not even sure why people are believing her still, I mean, you have a boyfriend.  Your femininity, well..." he seemed reluctant all of a sudden to come out with the truth.  "Football was really the turning point for that, but it's like you've been on a warpath lately... people think it might be pre-op hormones."

The glare Rachel gave him could have melted ice.  Evelyn laughed.  "Dear, don't put faith in what others say, there's nothing wrong with who you are, considering the burdens you've been shouldered with."

"What burdens?"  Billy asked, a bit puzzled by the statement.

"Not my place to say, child."  Evelyn looked Rachel over, giving her a once over.  "I said you were 'rough' darling, not classless or backwoods.  You've the beauty, sure, but everything else is attitude, of which you've a plenty.  As I said before, in Gaelic, I can't make a silk purse from a pigs ear.  Meaning: I can't make you into anything you're not.  There's not dress in the World that could do that... but, you're not the first shield nibbling Aesir that has come to me with a need for a make over for one event or another.  Follow me."

"Aesir?"  Billy looked at Rachel who simply shrugged and followed.  "This place is messed up..."

Rachel wasn't sure where they were in the store, the place was huge!  They passed through a few displays of various clothing separated by age, gender and... this was a new one for her, time period.  There were outfits for all kinds of people, some apparently had multiple arms, while others had wings, maybe?  Regardless her clothing seemed to sport all the latest fashions in sizes and cuts appropriate for about any strange or large mythical species.  She couldn't help but smirk when Billy pulled a t-shirt off the rack and it had four sleeves.  The look on his face as he tried to do the math was priceless.  "Look, I'm not really good at this sort of thing..."

"'Thing' being waking up every morning and spending three hours on your hair and make up so you can face your adoring public?"  Evelyn smiled and turned to the racks of clothing along the walls, all resting snug in a nook surrounded by gorgeous carvings in the wood surrounding them.  "Well, not everyone is.  You see the reason some people have to do all that, dear, is because they have to work at being beautiful.  Others, like yourself, are simply born with it and it requires a bit less work."  It was one thing to hear Billy or her fathers say she was beautiful, they were close to her, and partially obligated, which meant it was hard to take at face value.  Evelyn, however, was a stranger, to hear her compliment her in such a way out of hand carried with it a bit more face value.  She knew she was attractive, hell, she was a cheerleader, but still, it was nice to hear.  Evelyn smiled.  "Rachel, dear, you're beautiful on the inside.  You're brave, protective, stern, forthright and selfless.  Those are beautiful qualities and they radiate from within you to those around you making others better for having known you," she selected a lovely dress from the rack and handed it to her.  "That light is what makes you gorgeous in ways others will always envy.  Dressing rooms are over there."  She swayed her head to a narrow hallway not far from them.

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"Well, at least Nadya has kept one part of her personality." Fisher observed, shaking his head. The issue now was less of Nadya and Niles, and the horribly bad drawing she was trying to intimidate him with. More like offend with its terribleness. Maybe he should draw a version of his own, a good one, so he could give it to her and say this was how you provide an artistic threat.

Possibly with some explosions in the background. Then it hit him that he'd winked at letting Rachel wander off to the Boutique, where she was feeling extra suspicious and riled. Well, it's not like it would end with a wrecked shop and dramatically shattering windows?

Dammit, kamis knew it definitely could happen. Fisher suddenly got up, much more serious. "Actually, I'm going to find Darcy and head for the Boutique. Don't want Rachel running around there unsupervised."

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Austin sighed.  "Yeah, I know the feeling.   I'm going to go find Yokiko, and find some way to convince her to skip class and go there too.   I just don't want to put her in a bind later on picking outfits, and if we wait till after school, well..."  he trailed off.  "See you there.  Let me know though if there's a big issue."  With that he left his bandmate and went looking for Yokiko.  He wasn't surprised to find her alone, reading.   "A good book?"   he asked.  "One I'm reading for one of my assignments."     She replied with a slight smile. "You needed something?"   

Austin smiled.  "Well not so much "Need" as "Want."   I don't have any tests, or anything the rest of the day.  Do you?"   "No, why?"  she could start to see where this line of thought was going.   "I wanted to ask you to come with me to Evelyn's Boutique, now."

"To keep tabs on the others of your band?"   her gaze speared him and he shook his head.  "Not really.  I think Fisher's got that handled.  I want to go so that we're not so pressed for time later, considering the rest of the Band is likely to go there after classes.   I want to make sure everything goes well."  

"So you ask me to skip class, which I've never done, for this?"   There was a cooling edge to her voice.

"I've never skipped class either, if it helps illustrate how much I want this to be a great night for us both."  He smiled back at her, that boyish devil-may-care smile of a young man who was being totally honest.  

She nodded, and began putting her book away.   "Alright Austin,  like you I've got no tests today also, so it's not like there's anything I'll miss here."  That faint smile was there again, and it warmed his heart.   It was a big ask, but he thanked the gods for his good fortune, and her goodwill.

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The bell above the door jingled as the four students of Salem High slowly peered in.  It was amazing that they could fell beasts in the swamps and battle harpies in the forests... but a simple boutique had them looking about with their heads on swivels, as if some great spawn of darkness was waiting in the shadows to gobble them up.  None of them had ever been in her before and Rachel probably would have had a chuckle at seeing them huddled together like the Scooby Gang as they looked around at the unnaturally spacious inside.

Fisher looked down as Darci took hold of his forearm unconsciously.  Minor affection wasn't uncommon for her and him, they were pretty comfortable around each other after all, but she still didn't know how he felt for her and lately even the minor things seemed more.  Yokiko looked around, suspicious of all she saw and stayed close to Austin.  She'd had a slight bit more experience with the weirder aspect of being a Scion so the oddity of the shop didn't really surprise her too much, it was who the proprietor could be.  If all this was really a trap, she wanted to be prepared.

"It... seems so much bigger on the inside.  Anyone else noticing this?"  Darci looked around at the walls that should be smashing through into the shops on either side of the very narrow alley.  "Who decorated this place?  It's like a Victorian Hot Topic..."

"Hey guys!"  They all jumped slightly, straightening out and spinning about to see Nadya standing in the doorway behind them.

Austin sighed, slightly embarrassed for all of them that Nadya got the drop on them.  "Jesus, Nadya... you scared the hell out of us."  They all to a second to chuckle at how foolish it all seemed, being afraid of a boutique... but stranger things had happened.  Especially lately.

"Um, did I miss National Cosplay day or something?"  Darci asked when she saw Nadya in her red and black leather Harley Quinn get up.

Fisher shook his head.  "Long story..."

A clap of hands came from the back and they all turned their heads to face the sudden noise.  "Well, well... aren't I the popular one today."  Taking her place behind the counter, Evelynn greeted them all with a welcoming smirk.  "I am, as you may have guessed, Evelynn.  Your friend arrived not long ago, she's trying on a few things in the back.  So tell me, dears... what can I do for you today?  Got my invitations, have you?"

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"I don't know, I can't make up my mind. I really like both the red and the champagne," said Rachel Cooper as she stepped out of the dressing room clad only in a bra and slip, holding the aforementioned dresses up hanger held in each hand.

Rachel had been trying on dress after dress for the better part of the last hour. It was just Evelyn and her, Billy having been drug off by two short stout gentlemen that Rachel thought might be dwarfs or maybe Picts, but hadn't said anything, to find him the proper suit to go with her dress. Rachel wasn't sure how that would work since she couldn't make up her mind. Maybe they had something for boys that would go with both.

"For the life of me I have never had so much trouble deciding on what to wear. The Red is so bold and It fit's me so well, but there is just something so enchanting about the Champagne," She glanced back and forth at both dresses as she spoke before looking up at Evelyn. "Miss Evelyn, your the clothier, can't you...just...tell me...which..." Rachel saw all her friends from school standing with Evelyn staring at her in her slip. Her voice trailed off and she stood like a deer caught in the headlights

Nadya raised her phone and snapped picture after picture, "Priceless," she said.

Spoiler

The dresses

       7bd690a967602e6fbf678caba70678ad.jpg                           Adrianne Palicki Red Halter Prom Dress 2011 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Red Carpet 2-600x600.jpg                                                                                                            

 

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