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  1. What's new in this game
  2. He considered for a long moment, his gaze measuring László with the same weighing expression he had studied the phone with earlier. Nadya also stared at her father, surprised at the offer to a relative stranger, though only for a moment. Her dad was nothing if not sympathetic to underdogs, after all. She glanced back at Grim, smiling mischievously. "You get to be my minion. I've always wanted a minion." she teased, grinning as he shot her a wry look, quirking his left eyebrow challengingly. Her father snorted, making plain his own thoughts on that. Grim smiled slightly, then nodded to László. "I do need money." he admitted with a shrug of his shoulders inside the too-large coat. "I'll take the job, sir. And thank you." "Muwhahahaha. My minion!" Nadya mock-cackled as she finished packing the laptop and accessories into a bag and slid it over to Grim. He shook his head, still smiling a little. "Just don't let Nadya pick my uniform." he deadpanned, making László chuckle. "When do you want me to start?"
  3. Nadya's lips twitched in a small smirk when Grim's eyes went back to the phone, but her pale gaze lingered on the pale scar over his eye, wondering again how it had happened. She opened her mouth to ask, but when Grim looked back up at her and nodded, proclaiming his satisfaction, she nodded back, mouth spreading in retail grin. She enjoyed browsing as much as the next girl, but the best customers were the ones who knew what they wanted and didn't dither of decision for a thousand years. You usually couldn't upsell them, but on the other hand, you could make ten sells for every dithering. "Alright then, good choice," Nadya said. "Let me grab you some of the accessories and get you rung up." Nadya disappeared behind the counter for a moment, then popped back up with a cardboard box full of electronic brick-a-brac. "Charger for the phone, phone case - do you want Minions or Bedazzled?" she said, holding up a case in either hand for his inspection, grin broad and eyes sparkling. Grim's stoic bland expression still seemed to radiate affront. "Nah, I'm kidding, I wouldn't wish these on Mercedes and her Pink Slip Amazons... well, yeah, I totally would. Here, black." With practiced motions, she slipped on the textured rubber and plastic over the phone and handed back to Grim, then began digging in the box once more. "Power-cord for the Chromebook." She plugged it into the Chromebook to make sure it fit. "Oops, not that one, this one-" She was interrupted by a rap at the cash counter. She and Grim both looked around to find László hanging his cane on the counter once more. "No, be giving the boy the newest Chromebook we are having. Same price. He is missing much, and is having much to catch up on." Nadya raised her brows in surprise. "I swear, he has hearing like, um - I don't know who the Egyptian Heimdall is, so, like, Heimdall's," Nadya whispered. The shop was quiet save for the soft skirling of violins over the speakers, but they hadn't been speaking particularly loud. "He always knows everything going on in the shop." Grim gave Nadya a muted shadow of a smile, then met László's gaze directly. "I appreciate the offer sir, but it isn't necessary. This one is sufficient." "Bah!" László waved a dismissive hand. "I am expecting more than only sufficient from my daughter, and I am thinking you are expecting more from yourself, boy." He gave Nadya an assertive, pointed nod before his eyes shifted back to Grim. "Speaking of the sufficiency, my little daughter-" "I'm not that short," Nadya huffed, putting away the two Chromebooks she had brought of for Grim's inspection and pulled out another, a little bigger than the others, and while clearly a newer model, the lid showed the scuffs of hard use or little care. She pulled out another box, slim, the corners beaten and opened it up, showing neatly arranged cords with twist ties, and styrofoam packing, leaving a perfect fit for the laptop. "-is not being sufficient to be helping me with the shop, she being often busy with other... things." Nadya blew a raspberry. "I am thinking I am needing more help. Are you being interested? You are being the growing boy still, I am seeing the signs, and I am thinking you can be using more of the money. Some of your wages, it would be going to make up the difference."
  4. By the time Nadya had returned the sandwich Grim had taken had disappeared as though inhaled, the lean youth absently chewing the last mouthful as he examined the phones with a careful eye. The older and cheaper ones he quickly considered, then turned to the Samsung Nadya had pointed out. "Can I check the screen, make sure it's responding okay?" he asked. Nadya shrugged, nodding as she leaned one hip against the counter and watched him handle the phone, turning it on after a brief moment of examination. His air of contemplation shifted focus as his odd-coloured eyes flicked up to regard her as he waited for the phone to boot up, examining her face with an intense, bold gaze that was likely very different from the surreptitious gawking the lovely girl was more used to from boys her age. "What?" she asked with a hint of challenge and a tilt of her chin. Realising he was staring, Grim's lips twitched at one corner even as a hint of colour suffused his features, making the scar over his near-colourless left eye stand out faintly against the pale skin before he dropped his gaze once more to the phone as it chimed ready. Without speaking he brushed his finger over the touch-screen, noting the lack of any problems before he nodded, turning the phone back off again. "It's a good deal." he commented with an air of decision. "I'll have to take the older cheaper Chromebook, but that'll do what I need it to." He looked back at Nadya with a nod. Plainly, the scion of Odin had the traditionally male approach to any kind of shopping: minimalist and far too practical.
  5. "Just so. It is being best not to believing half what you are reading, and little more what you are seeing," László agreed with amiably gruff amusement, a sage nod, and a twinkle in his eye. Behind him, Nadya shook her head vehemently over her father's shoulder, trying to convey silently to Grim that her father wasn't in the know about Gods and Titans and Monsters, but Grim suspected László caught the motion, though he gave no sign of it beyond a slight curve of his mouth. The elder Lunălescu picked up his cane and swung it behind him without looking, giving Nadya a light swat on the thigh. "My milaya doch', help the boy finding the things he is looking for," László to his daughter, hanging his cane off the edge of the counter once more. "Me, and am doing the sorting of the jewels for what to sell, and what is for the keeping, so that those they are meaning much may recover them." He gave Grim another scrutinizing glance, then looked over his shoulder at Nadya. "And you, Nadezhda, be a good host and be offering him a sandwich. You are being as skinny as the rail, boy." Nadya rolled her eyes in exasperation, but when her father shifted, a demure expression came over face so quick, Grim began to doubt he had even seen the roll of eyes. She swiftly finished her sandwich, then picked up the tray. "Of course, Tată," she said docilely, and her father snorted, clearly not fooled. She skipped down the two steps from the counter area, and offered the tray to Grim. "There's egg salad, tuna, and ham and swiss," Nadya said, indicating each lightly toasted sandwich with a nod. Only one half of the tuna sandwich remained on the wooden tray. "Grab one, oh Grim one, and let's see about getting you hooked up and online." Grim hesitated for a moment then picked up the other half of the tuna sandwich and flashed the Lunălescus his reserved, understated smile. Nadya gave him a mock pout before she slid the tray back onto the counter, then beckoned him to follow her with a pair of waving fingers. "Someone has good taste. This way." Nadya led Grim to a counter at the back of the shop, what passed for the electronics section, and took the two steps up in a hop. She glanced down the glass counter top, then gave a Grim a quick, considering look that almost made him want to check his pockets to find out what was missing. Then she pulled out two transparent trays of cellphones. Strips of masking tape indicated the price range, 40-99 dollars in one tray, 100-199 in the other. Nadya walked further down the counter and leaned on it, the two steps up bringing her eyes up just a bit higher than Grim's. "What're looking for in a laptop, Grim? Video games or video editing, big screen, or just something for homework and wikipedia?" "Research and homework mainly," Grim admitted. A shrug. "Entertainment secondary, I suppose. Why?" "Dude, you are so wrong 'bout that, but I got you. I could get you a good deal on a gaming laptop. Great specs, 19 inch screen, whole buncha games on it still, but it's almost as thick as a phonebook and weighs as much as Wolf, with a battery life of about two minutes." Nadya tapped on the glass counter pointing out the beastly laptop with a biohazard decal on the lid, then she pointed to two other smaller, slimmer models, one newer than the other. "But it sounds like what you want is a Chromebook. A hundred for this one. They're perfect for surfing the net and youtube. And homework, I guess. They're kinda between a tablet and a PC. Talk to Beth at school, and she get even get Netflix working on them, probably update the operating system on the older models," "I don't have an Netflix account." "Pshaw! I don't either. Lotta people do though and don't even come close to their device limit. I can get you a password or two." She pulled out the Chromebooks for him to look at then reached and slid the trays of cellphones over between them. "And these are probably our best deals on phones. The newest stuff is practically full price 'cuz fanboys are gonna iPhone, no matter the price. The Nokias might be old, but are nearly invincible. We actually have a pair of Blackberries left, if you want buttons, then a whole bunch of touchscreens." She rifled through the cheaper tray and pushed one of the smartphones with a bigger screen to the side. "If you don't mind a crack on the screen than you can barely see unless you look at it at the right angle, we got a newer Samsung for under a hundred." Nadya tapped the wall behind her, at product hanging from pegs. "I'll even throw in an SD card for more storage. Give them a look over, I'll be right back." Nadya scooted back to the cash counter, grabbing another half of sandwich, ham and swiss this time, and her mug of coffee, then sauntered back to the electronics counter and her newest Bandmate.
  6. For his part, if Grim was shocked at seeing Nadya dressed - well, normally - he gave no sign of it. Unless the slight curving up of one corner of the serious young man's lips was a sign. With Grim it was hard to say. Was he amused? Glad to see her? Was the vestigial smile some phantom expression disconnected with what was really going on behind those odd eyes? Of course, Grim knew he was pleased to see Nadya - and surprised at being pleased - and somewhat confused at the fact that she wasn't dressed Nadya-ishly. For some reason he thought that she would dress the same at home as at school - after all, he did. In many ways despite his intelligence and composure, Grim was very much a clueless young man. He also realised he hadn't answered his perky bandmate yet. "Looking for a phone and maybe a cheap laptop." he answered, approaching the counter. Though he wasn't smiling as such, there was a conversational warmth to his tone that Nadya recognised from yesterday after the chilly young man had opened up a little. "I figured that I can't be depending on landlines and the school library computers every time I want to get something done. Hello, sir." He added with a nod to László, who clicked his tongue as he remembered something. "Grim... Grim... You are being the boy who disappeared and returned, yes?" László asked, his gaze keen as he studied the youth anew. He was a worldly man, had seen a lot in his time, but this boy had the second oldest eyes he'd ever seen. "I read it in the papers." Grim forced a slight smile. nodding as his eyes met László's. "Yes sir. Though don't believe all you read. I wasn't stolen away by aliens or Elvis."
  7. The pawn shop was worn, but well tended. If the industrial red and black carpet was faded and threadbare in places and the shelves aged and scratched, the floor was still swept clean and the tempered glass of the display cases was clear. The place was organized with just a hint of comfortable disarray, the commercial equivalent to a lived-in den. Several wooden bins overflowed with books marked at a dollar a piece. Instruments hanging from the ceiling by one wall weren't quite arranged by size or type. A display of carved and blown glass figures only had a semi-sense of order to it. On the other hand, the small array of guns behind the sales counter was very neatly arranged in locked display cases. The sales counter to the left of the entrance itself was raised by a pair of steps, giving anyone behind it a clear view over the entire shop floor. At the moment, sitting behind the counter was a middle-aged man, a bit on the swarthy side with raven black hair peppered with grey and several days growth of salt and pepper stubble. His bright grey eyes were sharp and incisive, but bracketed by laugh lines. If not classically handsome, he had roguish good looks that might have belonged to a Star Wars freighter pilot or in a heist film. He looked up at the ting-a-ling of the bell over the door then glanced at the rangy young man who entered. Not perceiving anything suspicious or duplicitous in Grim, László gave him a friendly a nod, but let him look around to his own content. If they boy needed any help, he would ask for it. László went back to sorting some rings and bits of jewelry in some fashion Grim couldn't determine off-hand. He noted the handle of what appeared to be a cane hanging on the edge of the counter. Grim was browsing for while, dithering on making a decision with his limited funds when he caught the sound of footsteps coming down stairs from beyond the sales counter. A young woman backed through a doorway, gracefully carrying a tray that held a plate of sandwiches and a teapot in one hand, the other holding a large mug. When she turned around, Grim realized it was Nadya... he thought. He'd never seen her looking so... domestic. Her hair was held back by a red, white, and blue kerchief, save for a few wavy locks that dangled free to frame her face. She was wearing yoga pants and an oversized Boston Red Sox sweater that slouched off one shoulder, the sleeves long enough to have cover her hands. Her fingers were free of any rings, though a small one still pierced her brow and she had a small stud in her nose. And she wasn't wearing heels, but a pair of broken-in old slip-on Sketchers. Nadya placed the tray on the counter by her father - side by side, Grim caught the family resemblance - and poured him a cup of tea. The two of them spoke him softly in a mix of at least two languages, neither of them English, before Nadya grabbed a triangular half of a sandwich and took a sip from her almost ludicrously big mug with Calvin and Hobbes on the side with the quote: 'If good things lasted forever, would we appreciate how precious they are?' She took a bite of her sandwich when she realized there was someone in the pawn shop, her eyes widening slightly when she realized who it was. If she was embarrassed being caught at work, out of her usual fashion sense, Nadya gave no sign of it, though she quickly swallowed her bite of sandwich before offering Grim a grin that was between friendly and professional. "Hiya, Grim. What brings you to From Dusk Till Pawn today?"
  8. ((This side-fiction is happening at the same time as ‘Doubling Up, Doubling Down’)) The chill of autumn was in the air, the weaker sunlight fighting a battle against the cold winds promising winter. So far, the remnants of summer were winning, but sooner or later the first frosts would form. Grim thrust his hands into the pockets of his too-large coat, feeling the warmth of the garment keeping the chill breeze at bay. His fingers curled in the pocket, wishing for the reassuring solidity of the Heartwood Stave to lean on, but that was tucked under his bed back home for two reasons. Firstly, carrying a length of black wood around town was not an action calculated to be inconspicuous. And secondly, he needed to walk without aid if his ankle was to get stronger and his limp was going to get any better. So it was that he’d walked downtown rather than hitching a ride, and though his leg was protesting somewhat it was able to bear his weight. He’d focused on walking without limping as the coach had suggested, and had been mostly successful before the exertion started to tell on his damaged nerves, causing his limp to return as he walked the last couple of blocks to his destination. ‘From Dusk Till Pawn’, the sign read in black lettering. The grill-covered window display showed a variety of electronics, jewelry, watches, and curios that the desperate or needy had traded in for cash. Grim, however, was here to buy rather than sell. Given his... limited means it was out of the question for the young man to buy a brand new smartphone or PC, but a second-hand laptop or early-generation touch-screen phone was within his meagre budget. As the door swung shut behind him and the dim electric lighting replaced the weak Salem sunshine, the son of Odin slouched along the displays, hands in his pockets as he browsed.
  9. Nadya's mobile face split in a wide grin as Grim slipped the amulet on the thong around his neck. There was a slight, questioning tilt to her head as she eyed the thong. It wasn't a common silver or gold or steel chain, or braided leather, but something else. And was that a tooth? The Stone Bitch hadn't had teeth that big. She arched a dark brow at the introverted Scion, but if wanted to say another about the tooth or where he'd been, he'd reveal in his own time. "Cu plăcere*," Nadya said with a small wave, her smile growing more amused and a bit teasing. "Gotta ask, if you met your old one-eyed dad, does he look more Hopkins or more McShane? Because I think Ian McShane does the better job, just saying, but maybe that's because can swear on Starz, but it's a big no-no in the MCU." She quickly scarfed down another donut and washed it down with the rest of her coffee, then sauntered over and tossed the box of donuts - oops, donut - on the grew wood of the weather-beaten picnic table. She took a seat, perched on the top, a planted a boot on the bench seat as she crossed her legs. "About the motives and intentions of our dieting--" "Diefic," corrected at least three of the others. "That's what I said, Deific. Our Deific folks, well, I'm with Fisher on this one. Who cares why they're doing whatever they're doing. It might matter to them, but it doesn't have to matter to us, or matter much, anyway. We find our own motivations instead of relying on theirs. And along the way, we have some fun, cuz otherwise, what's point? Oh!" Nadya bent and began digging around in her satchel. "I got something for you too, Rae-Rae. Didn't see anything Vidar-y, and not even a good copy of Thor's hammer, but it's something. Sorry, guys, vikings are the shit right now in showbiz - did any of you see Gods of Egypt? Shudder - but I swear, I'll find you all something too." "It isn't stolen, is it?" Rachel commented, more than a hint of resignation in her tone at what she was sure the answer would be. "Rae-Rae! Technically, you can't steal from a dead guy. Seriously, it's a thing. Ask museums," Nadya protested nonchalantly. "And the collection of artifacts were just dug up out of the ground, weren't even going to museums or anything. Just rich people selling them off to other rich people - Sorry, Laurie - so they can hide them in private collections and show them off to friends. They won't miss one. Or two. Besides, they're insured... Probably. Ah-hah! Here it is." Nadya leaned over from her seat on the picnic table and held out the worked and worn pendant balanced on her nimble fingers. "It's supposed to be a Valkyrie. I mean, I guess it sorta looks like Tessa Thompson, a little, but whatever. Valkyries were badass battle bitches, right? Well, you're our badass battle bitch, Rae-Rae."
  10. "At every door-way, ere one enters, one should spy round, one should pry round for uncertain is the witting that there be no foeman sitting, within, before one on the floor" Grim's voice was soft, but carried despite that in an oratorical cadence as he quoted. Answering the glances that got thrown his way with a faint wry smile, he moved back over to his stump and sat down once more. Naturally enough, it was Nadya who broke the silence. "Cryptic much?" she asked with a teasing quirk of her lips. Grim didn't smile back, at least not with his mouth, but his mismatched eyes glinted good-humouredly as he picked up his blackwood staff and laid it across his lap. He was surprised to find himself relaxing around the others, even enjoying their company, his defensive sense of inferiority abated by the simple realisation that he wasn't the only one who dealt with such issues. "It's from the Hávamál." Fishing the amulet Nadya had given him out of his pocket, he gazed at it for a moment before looking up at the rest of them. "Said to be the wisdom of the All-Father. All sorts of advice for all sorts of situations. I read it a few days ago. Still working on interpreting it beyond the surface layers, though." He fixed his gaze on Rachel. "Point being, it's wise to be wary of people's motives. But equally, being convinced of conspiracy will only make sure you see them even when they're not there. I'm learning... lately... that it's a good idea to accept the possibility that people don't mean you harm, even if they don't tell you everything. Sometimes it's not about you at all." He flicked his glance back at the amulet, then over at Nadya. "And sometimes, people can just be nice." He tugged at something under the neckline of his t-shirt and hoodie, pulling out a large tooth suspended on what appeared to be a braided thong that glinted red and gold in the sunlight. Slender, scarred fingers unfastening the ends, he slipped the amulet onto the braid so that it nestled down next to the tooth, then tucked it back under his clothes.
  11. No problem Vivi. Study hard, and then we'll throw you a party after
  12. Hey, guys, just a heads-up: This is the last week of classes, and final exams are next week for me, so I'll probably be scarce (and not reading/posting) for the next several days as I super-casually try to write a pair of research papers and study for finals. Yee.
  13. "Oh there is plenty to hit, I am just showing restraint." Rachel rolls up off the ground to her feet brushing the dirt from her shorts. "And it isn't my Subconscious that's riled. Look, I know that I am headstrong, and blunt, and I don't always think things through. I have always needed the be the one to right the wrongs. And now that need has become I guess my purpose. I mean I know when some one feels guilty about some thing now, just from hearing them talk. I don't know what they are guilty of but I know. And All of this is making me suspicious and seeing conspiracies, second guessing everyone's motive and I do mean everyone. So That being said I will trust you guys to tell me when and who and what you want me to hit."
  14. "Let's see. Because we were informed when our parents Visited, and how many do we have in common with Donner's group?" Fisher dramatically counted across his fingers. Or dramatically feigned counting. "Oh wait, none of us here. Grace and Aaron did, we know, but their dad is Tezcatlipoca, Mr. Syracuse specifically said is a right bastard. So waiting is perfectly in character for him." Fisher retained a calm beneath his argument, remaining the patient one in contrast to Rachel. "Our parents were the ones who made the call - not to say I don't have issues with mine - but you can't put the blame on Mr. Syracuse for this. And in the end, we don't know the reasons for when and where they scheduled things. For all we know they had a Godly Skype session and decided that Eric's Band sucked and we would be better. In the end it doesn't matter. We'll make our own reasons. We'll make ourselves important and so awesome Thor will want you to autograph Mjolnir. And we protect Salem. Because it's what we do, it's what you do Rachel. You are our determined leader and we'll follow you." "Also," Fisher suddenly added, "I think you're subconsciously riled that Marius and the ghost witches are out there and you have to wait without having anything to hit."
  15. "Really Austin? You, Fisher, Nadya, and I, even Grim, have lived here our entire, or almost our entire lives. And none of us had a clue what was going on right in front of us. But they knew who we were." She shakes her head, Wolf can tell she's getting frustrated. "We're not spares, not back up for when things go wrong? Then why did they wait on visiting us, until now? Why not when they visited Donner or the other in that gang who lived here. Come on your all smarter than that, smarter than me. I guess i'm just crazy huh."
  16. Happy that whatever issues had come to a head and probably sparked this meeting were now seemingly resolved, Austin smiled. "An Avengers reference Laurie. I would never have guessed." it was some light teasing, but his smile told the truth about a lack of malice in it. "I also happen to trust our Mentor, he has been there to help when we needed, and After all the craziness we've gone through, we are all still here, so clearly something's gone right there." Rachel's words struck a sour note with him. "Rachel, your leadership may not have been the best at times, but I don't think any of us could have done any better. you've not lost anyone, and no one's suffered an injury we couldn't recover from. You're not some Tyrant who demands obedience, you value all of us, and If I might be presumptious for everyone save our new bandmate, you've eared our trust in you." He paused for a moment, knowing his next words weren't as positive. "The truth as you see it, Isn't the same truth that I see. I don't see us all as strays, though. If we really were, then we'd not be here together like this. I especially don't think of us as spares. Donner's Band does their own thing, and we do ours. There's nothing saying their activities are any more important in the grand scheme of things than ours, or vice versa. Hell there's probably other bands out there besides us and them. We're all trying to fight back against the machinations of the Titanspawn and those allied with them. None of us is unimportant. I wouldn't call any of us Spares."
  17. Its how it seems to me, yup. Like you, no OOC issue with it, but the vibe.was definitely "kthxsonowwhatguys?"
  18. So, I want to make sure I'm understanding correctly that Rachel is ignoring both Grim and Laurie and changing the subject. I'm not so much worried about her intention (because, hey, we're writing for entertainment and drama is part of that), just checking that this is the action other people are actually seeing.
  19. Rachel keeps eye contact with Grim and nods as the newest member of the band has his say and even starts to give him a little smile when Laurie speaks up. Rachel doesn't turn to face the extremely beautiful girl who is behind her but does look over her shoulder as she listens. Once Laurie, finishes Rachel contemplates her words for a few seconds then nods at Laurie's comments as well, then, giving Grim a pat and squeeze on his shoulder, moves from the center of the group to where Wolf is and sits down on the ground next to her where she starts petting the large puppy. "I trust his judgment, but not his motives." She takes a deep breath, lets it out." "I may have conveyed the wrong sentiment with my use of the word stray. I am not a good speaker," she shakes her head and then mumbles, "not really a very good leader either. I didn't mean to disparage anyone. Not Grim, Not you, Laurie, nor anyone else here, but in truth we are all strays, we may have been unwanted, we may have been mistakes, or accidents, and we are definitely all spares. That is just the way I see it. It doesn't change who I am or how I see myself. But it does change how I see them.”
  20. Laurie listened, patiently, as Rachel unloaded her anger and insecurities onto the group, only a near-imperceptible whitening of her knuckles as she gripped the violin bow suggesting she felt anything more than avid interest in the words of Vidar's daughter. It wasn't anger, precisely, but something more akin to frustration, and while a thousand cutting words sprang like daggers to her lips, none of them slipped past. Whatever their de facto leader (or, indeed, any of them) might deserve, it wasn't cruelty. There was plenty of that in the world, already, and Laurie was not so naive as to think that none of those present had contributed. If she was completely honest with herself, one of the most thoughtlessly cruel people she knew was standing right in front of her. The leaders of the two bands of Scions in Salem were not, she reflected, so very different in their approach to life- only in their understanding of it. Most of the group were upper middle-class, white suburban teenagers who received cars as birthday presents and whose parents could afford extra-curricular activities, annual vacations, and brand-name clothing; a far cry from being "strays." Laurie was, in that regard, more fortunate than any of them. Still, they were all the children of gods, the real 1%, granted supernatural prowess and abilities in addition to heavy responsibility. Whether any of them should be expected to shoulder that weight or not wasn't the issue- they were. To all appearances, Rachel had reveled in the strength and brutal power her heritage had granted her, so why was she treating it as some unbearable burden now? It didn't quite add up. To her surprise, the quiet, dark-haired young man Mr. Syracuse had introduced earlier spoke up. It was a pleasant surprise, however: he spoke clearly, with forethought and forthrightness, expressing some of the same sentiments she herself had been considering. Perhaps, she mused, quietly reassessing Grim as he stepped forward, this was a good sign after a long line of bad ones. "Well," she interjected politely into the awkward moment of silence that ensued after the pair of speeches, grip relaxing slightly on her bow. "I had thought that was something of a given, honestly! I can't imagine anyone having any objections, since all of us are burdened by the same glorious purpose, to paraphrase Mr. Hiddleston." The smile that followed was all white teeth and sincerity, her brilliant cerulean gaze startlingly direct as she leveled it first at Grim, and then at Rachel. "I trust Mr. Syracuse's judgement."
  21. For a moment he studied her, his expression unreadable as usual, then he sighed and stood. He realised that she wasn't coming closer, that she was requiring him to come to her. A demonstration of authority? Or a test of his willingness to compromise? In a moment of clarity he realised that it didn't really matter what Rachel thought it was. For him to get to his feet and limp over to take her hand was a demonstration of his own good faith - not just to her, but to everyone present. Leaving his black wood walking stick behind, he limped over and took her hand in a firm clasp that gave the lie to his apparently scrawny appearance under the too-large clothes. "I'm not the most easy to get along with either." he said softly, meeting her eyes. "All I had was my sense of... self sufficiency I guess. It's how I survived the last eighteen months. Now I have to adjust, like you and everyone else here. Not just to being the son of Odin, but to being more than the nothing I felt I was before." "I'm not good at small talk, or being pleasant. But I don't think we're strays, cousin. The gods - our parents - didn't carelessly spread their ichor around. We might be pieces on their game board, but that doesn't make us inconsequential to them. Think about it: we are made of human flesh and bone, and they chose to add a spark of their own essence. Would you view that carelessly, if it was you? They have to use us, because for them to get involved themselves would cause more problems than it would solve. And as for us maybe dying..." He let his hand slip from hers and glanced around the Band, then back at Rachel, meeting her eyes once more as some indefinable emotion leaked from behind his stoic expression. "Speaking just for myself, here. I'd rather focus on how I live, and how I die, rather than whether I die. And I plan to live and die as a son of the Aesir, and as member of your Band, if you'll have me." A small crack appeared in his eerie self-possession, and Grim shoved his hands into the pockets of his oversized coat, plainly discomforted at his own display of feeling.
  22. The white mustang pulled past the limo with Laurie's driver sitting in it, Rachel's silvered lenses looking at the old man who looked back without betraying any emotion, and went to the back side to park so their cars wouldn't be visible from the road outside the property. She noted with some annoyance that everyone had beaten her here. Not their fault that she had been held up by her fathers. Again. She walked up one them her footfalls covered by the exquisite sounds coming from Laurie's violin, only Wolf noticed and she only raised her head from where she lay near Nadya an empty cup of doughnut holes on the ground between them. She noted Grim sitting off by himself his face stuck in a book while Austin and Fisher were standing close by each other talking about something while listening to the music and waiting for her. She stepped around a stack of wooden pallets and into full view and strode into their midst as Laurie drew out the last note of the piece she had been playing. "Sorry I'm late." Rachel didn't explain the reason for her tardiness but continued. "It's been just about five months now since I met my real father and had this...destiny thrust upon me. All of us have similar tales to mine. We were all just normal kids, then boom suddenly we are the divine children of gods we had only heard about in classrooms or comicbooks. We have had to do a lot of adjusting to do over those months. We have learned a lot. We have had too. Personally almost since day one I have found myself getting angrier and angrier at ...everything. All of this has me wondering if my standing up for those being bullied since i was a little kid in first grade was just my way of being a bully. None of us were friends. Yes we knew each other, except for Laurie, but friends no. We became friends because of this, Because we faced a bunch of evil assholes who murdered Wolf's mother, because we fought beside one another, would have died for one another saving those kids from that swamp witch. Because we stood against a freaking horde of zombies and saved a classmate from falling to an evil which was consuming her. Things I am proud of. Proud of myself and proud of you. Proud of things none of us should ever have had to do." Rachel looks around catching each eye, even Grims who has lain the book in his lap and is watching her with hooded brows. "We are kids, they call us heroes, not because of what we do but because of the training and level of power we posses. They are gods, who for the most part have stood by while people have died, while people have been subjected to magic and demons and worse. While we ourselves have suffered. They use us. Oh look here is a crisis lets send one of the kiddie groups. It is just like those myths we are taught in English class, we are the gods playthings." She looks directly at Grim. "And yes they stick us with strays, because as far as they are concerned that is what you are Grim, a stray. It's what we all were. But worse than that they didn't give you any choice, didn't give you any preparation just here you go you run along and live and die with these guys. Toodle off now. They knew my feelings on the matter, and right now I am beating myself up because I let them do it to me. make me angry. And i took it out on you. That was wrong. For that I am sorry." She doesn't step any closer but extends her hand toward Grim. He know she has more to say to him but that she won't say it here in front of everyone, that it is for the two of them alone, that it isn't an apology and it isn't something he will enjoy hearing. Sometimes the wisdom of Odin is a fucking burden.
  23. As the others showed up, first Austin then Laurie, Grim withdrew slightly. It wasn't pointed or even particularly noticeable to the newcomers, but the set of his shoulders and the calm stoicism of his expression indicated that the cracks Fisher and Nadya had made in his emotional armor were sealed with the unconscious ease of a young lifetime of hiding ones self. Waving a small, waist-high greeting the slender young man stepped to one side, casually plucking another donut from the box and sitting himself down on a tree stump nearby. Austin and Laurie. Two other people he'd never have crossed paths with outside of lessons before. Popular, good looking, athletes and Most Likely to Succeed types. He studied them both with a steady scrutiny as he munched on his snack, his thoughts clear, for once, of feelings of inferiority or bitterness. Nadya was right - what the Hel did it matter that none of those here would have said more than brief "Hi" to each other in the halls? They were all divinely gifted, a label that seemed particularly apt for the daughter of Apollo. "I don't mind if Wolf doesn't." he said in response to Laurie's query, a touch of wry humor in his tone, if not his expression as he got comfortable, setting his walking stick down beside him and pulling his book out of his bag. Withdrawing a little, but not ignoring the presence of the others, now and then peering up through the mop of tousled dark hair as one or another spoke or acted, Grim relaxed into study.
  24. It wasn't long before he nodded. "But I do like you. Not in some weird way, but because your different than other girls and not because we are blooded, more in spite of that. I won't deny that I feel a sense of calmness around you, and that with our unique common ground, things just feel comfortable." He smiled abit, and nodded. " Maybe that's not the best way to say it all, but it's true. You may have said it was unacceptable, but it doesn't make how I feel less true. I do like you, and I genuinely would like to get to know you better. Around you, I don't feel like I have to keep anything hidden, and it's my hope that you might feel the same." There it was, as he laid out how he truly felt.
  25. Laurie slumped, gasping and red-faced, onto the bench in the practice studio. Loose strands of platinum hair clung stubbornly to the rivulets of sweat her face and neck, and the young scion brushed at them absent-mindedly as glanced up at her reflection in the mirrored wall on the opposite side of the room. She'd pushed herself much harder this time, reaching for greater extension and height, and although she had made progress, she knew she could do better. She knew it. Every aching muscle in her body told her so. Her fingertips tapped a staccato rhythm of frustration on the polished edge of the spa-style bamboo seat. She could be better than this. She would be better than this. Even so, slight improvement was still improvement. She would try harder tomorrow. After violin this afternoon, maybe she'd go to Eric's for a bit, see what he- The notification gave her only a moment's pause as she opened up her messaging app. Fisher wasn't the sort to contact people frivolously- in fact, she rarely received messages from any of the other members of the band outside of an official capacity or sudden crisis. She understood, of course, why that was the case, and if a tiny part of her felt stung, well... There were some things more important than being liked. Still... hadn't they just had a meeting that morning? "I'll be there as soon as I can," she replied, lips pursed as her fingers blurred over the haptic keys. "I can't forgo practice, so I hope no one minds a bit of mood music." ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "Young Miss, if I may be so bold," James began tentatively, after several long minutes of silence as the scenery of Salem drifted past the car windows. "I must once again protest these excursions of yours into the wilderness. I've taken the liberty of making a few inquiries, and it would seem that these woods are not part of any sort of regular patrol schedule. If anything should happen to you..." The older man's voice trailed off into the soft hum of the engine. "I know, James," the young blonde in the back seat replied, catching her valet's gaze briefly in the rear-view mirror as she smiled. "Thank you." The weight of years, of abiding respect and affection filled those two words with a depth of sincerity no schmaltzy greeting card could ever hope to capture. She knew that he worried, but rather than being annoyed by his eternally polite paternalism, Laurie was more grateful than she could possibly say. As they rounded the final bend in the winding road that led to the abandoned farm, a thought occurred to her. It was a simple thing, really, but perhaps it would make him feel better. "James... Would you mind waiting for me? With the car, that is. I shouldn't be long, and it's a beautiful day to get a bit of sun and fresh air." "Of course, Young Miss," came the reply. Such a simple thing, words, but so important. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Wolf's ears pricked up, her massive head turning suddenly in the direction of the path leading up to the band's unofficial hideout. A few moments later, a freshly-showered Laurie came into view, the ever-present violin case by her side. Dressed in what might be considered upscale casual attire layered under a lightweight ivory peacoat, she hummed quietly to herself as she approached the group. "I hadn't expected to see you all again so soon, but, good afternoon," she greeted them with a smile. "I hope none of you will mind if I practice while we wait? I'll try not to be too intrusive," she added, almost apologetically.

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