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WEIRDER STUFF

About This Game

Weirder Stuff is a Trinity Continuum game using an re-imagined version of our AWS setting. In Weirder Stuff (henceforth WS) you will play a teenage high school student caught up in the weird happenings and mysteries in the northern Montana town of Shelly. The characters will begin play as normal humans and will have the opportunity to develop into either Talents or Psions. This is primarily a Modern setting with Thriller, Sci Fi, and Supernatural components.

Game System

Other

Status

Active

Full Description

WEIRDER STUFF: TRINITY CONTINUUM EDITION

Weirder Stuff is a Trinity Continuum game using an re-imagined version of our AWS setting. While we will be using the Trinity Continuum Rules (also called the Story Path System) we will be using none of the published setting. Any material I introduce from the published setting will be adapted to our setting and does not imply that the two universes co-exist. As far as we are concerned WS is a self contained Universe.

In Weirder Stuff (henceforth WS) you will play a teenage high school student caught up in the weird happenings and mysteries in the northern Montana town of Shelly. It is a modern setting which will run in a concurrent time line to our own reality i.e. the year is 2019, the president is Trump, Avengers End Game made a billion bucks in its first week, and so on. The game is loosely inspired by Netflix's Stranger Things, the teen dramas of the CW Network, and of course our own canceled Aberrant Weirder Stuff game.

**WARNING: While the game features teens it is an adult game with adult themes of horror, sci-fi, and high school. Consider it rated R to NC-17.**

The game is set in the small town of Shelly Montana. The town is a Fictionalized version of Shelby Montana which can be googled (  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shelby,_Montana   Map https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shelby,_Montana  ). If you want to know something about Shelly, and I am not available, you can look it up and see it for the most part at the Shelby website. I will note in a setting post any concrete differences and changes I make. The general public are not aware of the strange things going on in this area of the state, although if your a nerd and google every weird thing in the world there are stories of... well weird stuff happening, some of which are true.

While the characters are human, this is a game using the Trinity Continuum rules and will feature both Talents and Psions. Talents ( The Inspired from classic Adventure RPG) have always been around and there is no special classification or even understanding that they are anything more than lucky or skilled persons. For all intents and purposes Talents are just people who are good at what they do, maybe even exceptional.

Psions on the other hand are an unknown. Knowledge and understanding of Psioncs in the world of WS is just like it is in our real world, an unproven pseudo-science which is more often ridiculed than taken seriously, a staple of science fiction stories, the subject of hoaxes and charlatans running money grabbing schemes. There are those who think it is real and those who don't and then there are those who want to make it real and to use it for their own purposes. To date in the world of WS there has never been a Documented, Verified instance of actual Psionic activity.

Characters while starting off as normal human can become either Talented or eventually Psionic. Psionic characters will use a some what modified version of the Psion rules found in Trinity Continuum Aeon the modifications to those rules will be detailed later.

I wish to be clear about something, while this game is obviously an iteration of the former AWS game, it is not a continuation of that game nor is it a remake per se. It takes what I had wanted that game to be and has re imagined it into what I hope will be a better and more satisfying experience for all of us. But let me be clear, WS is not AWS. Even though there will be and are similarities with AWS, they are not the same. Internally as far as WS is concerned AWS does not exist. It is not an alternate world, it is not a story written by one of the current characters, it is not a program Sean is working on for a game. As far as WS is concerned AWS isn't a thing.

Characters based on the Original AWS Characters are welcome as are new characters. Those based on the AWS characters may have to alter some of their background to better fit into the new setting but the changes required will not be drastic.

We will be using the new Trinity Continuum Core and the Trinity Continuum: Aeon books. No other published material will be used by you the players although I as Story Teller may use some material adapted from the 1st Edition of Trinity, Aberrant, or Adventure or other non Trinity resources. In some instances I may make these additional resources available to some or all of you as the story demands.

 

  1. What's new in this game
  2. Cade nodded. "Thanks for understanding, Devin. Did she happen to tell you the assumption Mom initially jumped to as well?" He smiled, wondering if she'd actually shared that detail. Wouldn't really mitigate what he'd done, but still. She was probably mad about that too still. He didn't fix a plate, as he'd already eaten, and smiled. The Cassidy family was familiar with Cade, as he and Sean were longtime friends, even if they were pretty different. "It's reassuring that some things don't change." He didn't really begrudge Devin his comments, he had fucked up after all, but if Devin was willing to let it go at that, then so was he. "So everyone having a good day so far? I think all the booths that involve throwing anything cringe when they see me coming now."
  3. "It's not complicated," Marissa said calmly. Her voice was surprisingly devoid of the attitude that had been lingering about her all afternoon. "You simply tell her. She will choose to believe you or not. Fact is, as long as you were honest with her, you're in the clear. If a child tries to tell their parents something and the parent blatantly chooses to treat them like they're lying and the last thing you two do is argue before we face Not-Cody and, well, the worst should happen... then let her live with that. She deserves it." "Damn girl," Hank shifted his head to one side in a half-shake before sipping his beer. "You're all heart, ain'tcha?" "I am a delicate, yet savage, wellspring of compassion. What I'm not, the steward of everyone around me. If I tell you, Mr. Graskel, that there is a rockslide coming up from behind you and you choose to laugh and ignore me, then that same rockslide shreks your afternoon, I'm totes not loosing sleep over it." "Some children love their parents though," Gar offered. "I understand your relationship with yours is a bit rocky, and I'm not trying to be rude, but not everyone deals with the same measure of ire and irritation you and your brother have dealt with." "No offense taken," she said politely. "And you're right, my brother and I have a ton of pent up parental frustration, but we do not love our parents any less than anyone else. I feel my argument stands, though. Tonight, my brother and myself will likely tell our parents. We will tell them what we can do, what we intend to do, and why we need to do it, then simply leave. At that point they have to get their Ripley's on and believe us, or not. Fact is, the results will be the same: we still have a job to do, and if you adults have taught us 'young'uns' anything it's that we need to take personal accountability in our daily lives and when there is a job to do, you see it through and get it done. Parents or no parents, secrets or no secrets. We're not dealing with mowing the lawn or taking the trash out, we're fighting for three thousand lives, with our parents among that number. If we didn't care and we didn't love, then we wouldn't bother." She turned to Cassie. "How's this? If you're not sure how she will react, then take Devin or Jason or Sean with you. I know it's a personal matter, but they have the most flashy displays of power out of all of us. Deej's teleportation can't be denied. Or with Jason or Sean literally manipulating the elements in front of her? How can she deny that? At the very least it will remove her doubt so she'll hopefully be reasonable. At that point, you and her can have a civilized discussion about all of this." The attractive brunette, who seemed surprisingly friendly all of a sudden, shrugged and clawed at another pinch of meat from her ribs. "I'm not saying it will work, but," she sighed. "Your mom does deserve to at least know that her daughter is amazing and doing amazing things for the betterment of others. On the opposite side of that coin, Cassie, you shouldn't carry around her choice to not accept things like it's your burden. We have enough to shoulder, yeah?"
  4. "Sup, dude," Devin nodded to Cade as the built teen approached them. "No worries, we were just discussing the disparity of redheads compared to brunettes and blondes in Shelly. You know... brunettes... like the one currently pissed a you." Devin smirked as he rubbed a bit of salt on the wound. "Very funny," Cade offered him a look that was partly him taking it as humor and the rest mostly a slew of swearing silently with his expression. "Chill," his bae's brother chuckled. "Give her a few hours and she'll be over it. Look, if it's any consolation, don't sweat the small stuff. Let her be pissed and shrug it off, she already fumed in my ear and frankly I don't see what the big deal is. Trying to tell your parents is one thing, I get it, now had you just started telling randos at school about it, yeah, I'd be a bit rankled, but don't sweat it. It's not like this is the sort of thing that people will believe anyway." "So, forget all that," Devin shrugged and raised his plate for display. "Have a seat. Sean's offering up his sausage for anyone willing to put it in their mouth." "Oh my god," Kat said as her cheeks flushed crimson at Devin's, not necessarily inaccurate , appraisal of the current situation. Sean did the same, shaking his head and just wishing a rock or something would just land on Devin, or at least his mouth. "Really?" Laurie slapped Devin's arm and looked at him like a scolding mother would any child. "Wut?" Devin mumbled as he took a bite of his lunch, shrugging in protest with a mouthful. "S'troo!"
  5. Cassandra paused right in mid-grin at Marissa's antics when the question got popped and she shook her head. "I've been trying to think of the right way to say it, and the right time...but...I think I just have to accept that there is no right way or right time. It's just...my mom already thinks I'm crazy even when I'm not claiming I have psychic powers and and going to another dimension to fight ultimate darkness. I just..." she hesitated, then plunged on, "...I'm afraid that we'll just get into another fight over it. And I really really don't want the last thing we ever said to each other to be the things we said in a fight. Ever since dad d...disappeared, she's been locked in a little room in her head, ignoring everything that doesn't fit into it, and I guess I sort of get why, because everything's a lot to deal with, but...I just don't think I fit into that room anymore, and I don't really know what to do about it." A cold wet thing pushed against her leg, and Cassie glanced down to see Bacon nosing her and peering soulfully up at her. Partly out of sympathy...but also because she hadn't finished her food. Cassie lowered her plate, with its scraps of meat on it, down for Bacon...being careful to hold the bones back away out of reach. Bacon happily tipped the plate down with a practiced move that made the meat slide off, then licked it clean. "We feed you plenty at home," Cass said affectionately, scruffling the dog's neck and shoulders. "I don't know why you always want to eat so much." Then Cassandra looked back up, a little embarrassed at her confession. "So, it's complicated, I guess? I know I have to tell her something though."
  6. Cade let out a sigh as he parked his jeep and shook hpis head. He'd fucked up, but it wasn't the end of the world. That could well be later tonight, but until then, he had the afternoon and evening to enjoy with friends and family. By the time Cade found his mother and sister, his dad had already excused himself to go on-duty, and Cade shrugged. Nothing was said about earlier, and his mother smiled as Haruka saw a doll she wanted at one of the booths, and the attendant cringed. He followed Highschool baseball, and recognized the star pitcher. It was a dollar for three tries, and you needed 3 to get the doll, and he was pretty sure he was about to see that happen. Still when the towering young man quietly handed him a five, he was going to say something, but Cade just smiled. They both knew he was going to leave with the doll, and he while he wasn't gonna miss on purpose, he wasn't gonna short the guy that bad. Then Cade hit three in a row with a practiced precision that even the attendant had to respect. After handing the Doll to Haruka, he chuckled. "Anything else you'd like to see me do?" Haruka looked over and saw a dunk tank, with a guy sitting there, he was heckling the people attempting to dunk him. "I think he needs a bath." Miyakko chuckled softly. "Alright then, I'll give him one." The trio made their way to the tank and the guy in the tank immediately started heckling Cade. "Big guy like you, can you even throw a ball with arms like those? Where'd you find two asians in Montana? Seriously, that's like two unicorns in a herd of wild horses..." Cade had been smiling when he was getting heckled, but when he started in on his mother and sister, he stopped. Haruka's eyes took a mischievous glint. "Oh he's in for it now." Miyakko only nodded, seeing the look on her stepson's face. "Yes, he is." Cade handed the attendant three dollars. "Planning on making sure he gets wet? He's gonna go worse every time you miss." "Then I won't miss." came Cade's reply as he took the first three balls. He reached back and let fly and the loud echo from the ball hitting the target dead on rang out as the heckler fell in the tank with a splash. He climbed back out and got on the bench again "Lucky throw, bet you can't do that again." The sound of a ball striking the target followed by a splash. By the ninth time, he didn't say anything, and the attendant looked somewhat nervous, he'd never seen someone like Cade, the kid didn't miss at all, and it was almost a little scary. The Heckler was silent as Cade and his family walked away, looking liked a drowned rat after so many straight dunkings. Once he was out earshot "God this town's got some strange ones." After that they picked up some snacks, and continued through fair, riding rides, playing more games, and the normal things, his earlier words unmentioned. Eventually, Miyakko smiled at her stepson. "You can go find your friends if you like, Cade. Haruka and I will be fine. Besides, as that man pointed out, we do stand out, just abit." While it was true his mother and sister weren't the only people in town with Asian features, there really weren't so many as other places. The various deputies all knew them, thanks to a picture Ian kept on his desk, and Cade knew he could feel relatively safe leaving them. Knowing not to question her over it, or rather knowing that she disproved of it, he nodded. "Okay Mom. Call me if you need me." With that he left and wandered the grounds alone. He ran into several friends from track, Deondre from the relay team chief among them. He was one of the only ones as tall as Cade, and they bumped fists as they greeted each other. "Not here with your family?" Deondre asked. "You know dad's gotta work, and Haruka's here with mom." "Well at least that lets you run around alone. My folks are over in the picnic area, they finally turned me loose. I'm gonna go meet up with Aidan and Cindy, and Lisa." he said naming another member of the relay team, and both their girlfriends." "You guys have fun, try not to get into trouble." Cade said with a quiet smile. "You trying to find Marissa?" Deondre asked. "Not just yet. She came over and ate at the house already." "Already filled your quota then." Deondre gave him a knowing grin. "In that case, I think the Cassidys are over in picnic area, though I think I saw Devin of all people there with them." "Thanks Deondre, maybe later we can do a track meetup?" Cade answered him. "Yeah maybe, I think everyone's here, though I think they're all still doin the family stuff. Anyway man, have fun, it's a great day for it." With that the two parted and Cade made his way over to the Cassidy table within the picnic grounds. He called out to them. "Hey guys, sorry I'm running abit late."
  7. She ate like it was her last meal, yet daintily scrapped the meat from the bones with her utensil until it was a large pile of barbecue sauce slathered deliciousness. She ate her vegetables with a fork but insisted on clawing up the meat in her manicured acrylic talons. Always looking to make a statement, the teenage girl insisted on her sharp nails being polished so everyone could see she had claws. Kids were silly like that. Halfway through her second pile of meat she looked to her left where a hopeful Bacon was looking up at her expectantly. That was two piles she was working on, surely she had some to spare for ol' Bacon, right? "Get away." She snarled at him, mumbling as she returned to her plate. "Drooling mutt." "Sooo, not a dog lover, huh?" Cass smirked. "They smell, they drool, and they cover everything," she paused and pinched a few strands fur off Cass's t-shirt. "In their fur. Are you kidding? No thank you. I take too much pride in my appearance to show up anywhere covered in dog fur and smelling like pet shop. Thank you, but no." When Hank asked his question Marissa smirked a bit, then shook her head. Finishing her bite before replying. "No, they don't. If our mom knew she'd already be on the phone trying to get us a television or movie deal. I mean, seriously, a group of kids from Shelly Montana who inherit weird alien super powers and have to save the world from a dark god from another dimension? No one would watch that, it the dumbest show premise ever. Although... me and Deej were discussing telling them tonight before we have to... you know. We figure if we don't come home, even if they weren't the greatest mom and dad kids could have asked for, they till deserve to know why. The thought of them never knowing and one or both of us not coming home... we couldn't do that them. Doesn't feel right, I guess."
  8. Bacon was wrangled away from expressing too much exuberant affection for Marissa, an easy enough task when there were so many other new people to meet and be showered by affection from. Like Autumn, for instance, who was instantly down on one knee scritching Bacon around his shoulders and telling him what a good boy he was as he soaked up the attention and gave back big liquid doggy eyes at her. "Who's this lovely fellow, hmm?" she asked, as much to the dog as to Cassie, who'd caught up, and was standing nearby smiling fondly as her dog did what he did best - shamelessly beg for attention. "Bacon." she provided, then gave the adults present a short wave. "Hi Mr Bannon, Mr Graskle." "Gar's fine." Jase's dad smiled at the blonde girl as Hank raised his beer in silent return of the greeting. Both men seemed bemused to be at the center of so much teenage activity, though not as bemused as they were at the sight of Marissa going through a plate of ribs. "Girl can eat." was all Hank commented at the sight. Gar just nodded in agreement, his attention half on that and half on watching Jase interacting with his friends. Having greeted Autumn and Jacob in his usual fashion, Cass's dog was now turning his attention to the tall figure standing a little back from the knot of teens watching the goings on. Bacon started moving in Jase's direction at his traditional galumph, then slowed his roll all of a sudden, his tail's wag going from 'frantic' to 'thoughtful' as he studied this new person, the dog abruptly sitting and staring for a long moment. A faint high-pitched whine sounded in the back of the Shepherd's throat and he cocked his head to one side, tail wagging a couple of times as Jase regarded him silently. Slowly, the lanky young man crouched and extended a hand, palm down, and waited. Bacon rose off his haunches, extending his neck forward tentatively and sniffing at the proffered hand before giving a low 'woof'ing noise and moving closer, his tail's wag increasing as he happily accepted an ear scritching and a petting. Autumn was keenly reminded of how her fosters had responded to the young man - initially cautious, but then reassured. "Nice dog." Jase said, smiling faintly before glancing up at Cassie and the others. The blonde reporter was studying Bacon - and him - with her narrow-eyed 'hmm' expression as Jase gave the dog's ribs a scritch, but then shrugged. God knew Jase was odd, and they did say animals had instincts about people. So long as Bacon wasn't howling or fleeing in terror, Cassie was content for now. "You guys want something to eat too?" Gar offered, holding up a plate. Autumn looked apologetic as she glanced over at her family's table then back. "I wish I could. If I fill up over here, I'm going to catch so much hell from my folks." she said with feeling. The ribs did look delicious. "I might be back to scrounge later, though." "Yeah. Lunch is probably almost ready over there." Jacob agreed. "But thanks, Mr Bannon." he added politely as he stepped in the general direction of 'away'. Autumn lingered a moment, looking up at Jase. "Your family will want you to eat with them." Jase said quietly, smiling a fraction. "I'll wander over in a bit, meet your dad." Her nose crinkled as she grimaced, then smiled. "Guess we can't put that off. He was asking me and mom about you." she confessed, letting her hand rest on his shoulder, fingers toying with the ends of his hair. "Oh? And what did you say?" Jason's amusement was visible in the glimmer of his eyes and the way they crinkled at the edges. "We both said he'd have to meet you." Autumn grinned up at him. Her boyfriend chuckled, brushing his lips over hers in a kiss, then nodded. "See you soon, then." "Yeah." Autumn steeled herself and stepped away. "Catch you all later." she smiled at the others, then her and Jacob moved off towards where the Crockers and the Kavanaghs were pitched. Jase stood still and watched them go for a long moment. "C'mon, kid. Sit and eat." Hank chuckled. "Plenty of time in the day yet." "Sure." Jase turned and grabbed a plate, noting that Cassie had accepted some food and Marissa seemed to be on her second plate of ribs already. Bacon was sitting with reasonable decorum next to his mistress, though he was not above looking attentive and alert for any table scraps that might find their way to the faithful mans-best-friend who stood vigilant sentinel so nobody would disturb his mistress's lunch. Settling himself down across from Marissa at the table, Jase dug in hungrily as Gar looked at Cassie and Marissa. "Just so I don't spill something I shouldn't." he said in a low murmur. "I've been assuming that you guys parents aren't in the know. That right?"
  9. Kat pinched her lips, thinking that she had already had two sandwiches before. "I'll take... a bit of everything, double size, with a side of more, please," she said with a grin. To Carolyn's surprised look, she chuckled and replied: "My 'religion' forbids me to not eat. Where I come from, there's butter involved in every meal. And lots of pork. And cider. And buckwheat pancakes. And salted butter caramel. Builds up a strong stomach, you know? Right now, I could eat a whole horse." She joined the others at the table with a full plate, listning to the banter while digging into her plate with heartfelt appetite, showing she didn't lie about her earlier words with Mrs. Cassidy. "You know," Kat said, turning to Devin with a grin, "my actual hair color isn't red." She took a sip of lemonade. Sean's head turned slowly, forkful of grilled peppers forgotten. "It isn't?" She shook her head. "I'm actually blonde, like my father." The fork completed the journey to Sean's mouth, and he chewed contemplatively for a moment. "Huh. I didn't expect that." He swallowed and took a sip of his Fresca, then regarded her with a tilted head and a half-smile. "Got any pics? I'd like to see what you look like as a blonde." "Sure." She fished out her phone from her jeans, and after a couple seconds of her fingers swiping on the screen, she showed him a picture of a younger, blonde Kat, standing on the beach by a cloudy day. Sean leaned over, eyes flicking down to the pic, up to Kat, and back. "Hmm." She was cute, either way. And Devin did have a point, sort of. The country with the highest percentage of redheads was Ireland at around 10%. For his own amusement, using Shelly High for a sample for the whole of Shelly, he'd calculated that Shelly was 13.5% redheads, making red hair far more common than the world average of about 2%. And blonde, people would less likely wonder if Kat was his sister. "I dig it." Kat lifted an eyebrow. "You do? This morning I thought I might stop dyeing them." She shrugged and put her phone down on the table, grabbing her fork but finding out her plate was already nearly empty.
  10. "They say we all have to grow up sometime, right? These guys had my back when no one else did. It sort of showed me who I could depend on, you know? I'm doing my best. Better sooner than later, too, 'was a complete jerk in high school' doesn't really pad a resume' once the world of careers and professionalism rears it's ugly head. Right?" He said it with a small grin and delivered the line with the cool, nonchalant manner with which he usually worked people. He always seemed comfortable talking to people and flipping that switch between the guy they all knew and the teenage boy who could fool the adults with false sincerity. Knowing that, it left one to wonder half the time how sincere Devin really was... "Lemonade sounds great," he replied. "Just the sausage though, no bun." "No bun?" Laurie looked at him like he was insane. "Dude, you can't knife n' fork these things, it's un-American." "No carb day," he shrugged. "All the pizza yesterday? Jacked up my diet. These abs didn't grow themselves. Even the lemonade is a stretch, but I'm so sick of water after yesterday. I had to hear about that water cooler incident for hours. See, you guys are lucky, you deal with Marissa while she's around and then you get peace and quiet. I live with her. Oh, right... you weren't there. Anyway, water cooler drama, my sister is a pain, now I hate water. Kat will fill in the details." "She seemed reasonable earlier," Laurie pointed out while scooping her and Devin up some grilled vegetables. The young teleporter laughed a bit, "That's because she's pissed at Cade for almost spilling things best left quiet. Teenage drama and intrigue doesn't mix well with adult logic and hypocrisy. He did some name dropping or something at their little lunch before all of this and the Sheriff had to bail him out. She lost her mind and she tends to be a mix of sugar and spice when she's trying to calm down." "You mean, likely to build someone up just so they can tear them down?" Laurie quirked a grin. Sean huffed and half-smiled. "Sounds about right. What did Cade say?" "Not sure," he lied, making sure not to say too much in front of Sean's parents. "But you all know how much a charmer he is. So, if you talk to her, avoid the topic of Cadums, if at all possible." He looked to the Cassidy parents who were now looking at him like he was being shady. Devin just smiled. "Oh, come on, all teenagers have secrets." They all sat at the picnic table and dressed their first lunches of the day except Devin who seemed to think copious amounts of mustard made everything better. Devin's phone vibrated and looked down from the table to his lap. "S'cuse me," he said in proper non-bumpkin etiquette before turning his attention away from the conversation and to his phone. He swiftly tapped out a reply. <Chill Mulan, I got you. I'll be helping Jase find his style for the big night, I can help you too. Trust me, if you can program an entire video game, this will be cake. Hakuna your tatas, bro, everything will go great.> He shot Sean a wink to let him know everything would be fine. Not Autumn fine, but actual fine. He set his phone aside, leaving it face down on the table and turned to Laurie. "So, who're you going to Homecoming with?" "What's it to you?" She asked. His interest meant he was obviously considering the possibility that she was no longer available and, in typical teenage girl fashion, that gave her an advantage over the smug yet hot guy who seemed to have an interest in her so games needed be played. "After all, you taking Cassandra," she let Cass's name slide off her tongue with a snide, upscale tone, like Cassie was some gorgeous blonde princess. "Which makes sense, she is blonde." "It has nothing to do with her being blonde!" Devin protested while Sean and Kat laughed at the two spatting. "Okay, well, a little, I mean it's not like redheads are an exotic find here in Shelly. She's like the only blonde in our school amidst two brunettes, one being my sister, the other, Lilly, and an ocean of redheads. Seemed like the blondes were getting a little dissed so I wanted to do my part to help them out, you know?" "Ugh, gawd," Laurie rolled her eyes and just went back to eating. "I can't even with you."
  11. Sean rolled his expressive, two-toned eyes in exasperation. He wasn't sure if Devin muddled up his words on purpose to be funny or actually did it by accident. Knowing for sure would probably be worse, and likely no less exasperating. He shook his head, and gave Kat a wide, genuine smile in greeting. "Kat. Great to see you here." He arched a questioning brow at Devin. "If you want to be involved in our hobbies, you should come around to gaming night." He blinked. D'oh! Did I just invite Devin to gaming?! Well, it at least meant he was thinking beyond the final showdown of final destiny with Not-Cody tonight, even if gaming nights had been spotty at best, lately. "Baby steps, brah," Devin said. "One bit of nerdery at a time." "He does have a point though," Sean said, sidling up beside Kat, lips curving coyly at he glanced at his sister. "'Bout the double-date thing." "He does?!" Laurie exclaimed, just as Devin said, "I do?" "Yeah, I asked Kat to Homecoming. She said yes." Sean sounded nonchalant, but his eyes gleamed. Kat looked surprised for a moment as Sean made the declaration then beamed widely. There was barely an instant of surprise in Devin's face before an enthusiastic, "Dude!" and a fist bump, which Sean returned after a brief hesitation of unexpectedness. "Get!" Laurie slammed the heels of her palms against her short brother's shoulders, nearly knocking him out of his scuffed red sneakers. "Out!" Slam! "Are you serious?" "Ow..." Sean muttered, rubbing his shoulders. "Yes, I'm serious. Even your poor freak of a brother can find a date to Homecoming." "I would say... exotique, rather," Kat added. "And as Sean has been showing me around Shelly, I figure this is one thing more to show me. Homecoming, we did not have its like in France." Laurie's face scrunched up. "I didn't mean it like th-" "No, no, it's okay," Sean continued, playing up the drama. "I just thought, since all I've suffered, the least you could do is, while me and Kat go, you could take Devin-" "NO! Absolutely not! I-" "Sorry, Red! I'm already taking Cassie to Homecoming." Devin considered for a rare moment. "Though, there's totally some cray inside that girl. If I ask the right way, she mi-" Hands on her slim hips, Laurie turned her grey-eyed glare from her brother to the boy Jauntsen. "Finish that thought, Jauntsen, and I'll jaunt you into a lake of fire. And I already have a date, thank-you!" Her glare returned to her brother. "I can't believe you're trying to pull the freak card. Now." Sean smirked, pressing a hand to his chest. "You wound me. I would never. But it should work for me, some time, at least. But really, you didn't let me finish. I just meant you could bring Devin over to mom and dad, y'know, provide a bit of distraction when I tell mom 'bout Kat and Homecoming." Sean looked over at Devin and Kat. "We have plenty to share, without Teagan here." "Oh!" Baleful regard eased, then relented. "Oh, that's fine. I guess." She gave Devin a sidelong glance. "If you're hungry." "I could eat," Devin agreed, not at all opposed to being in company of three redheads - four, if you counted Mrs. Cassidy. "Fine!" Laurie didn't quite scowl, roughly hooking her arm with Devin's and leading him to the Cassidy table. "I could eat too, and would like to meet your parents," Kat agreed. More graciously, Sean lead Kat after Laurie and Devin. "Just wait 'til I tell you Marissa's plans for you, Sean," Laurie shot back over her shoulder. "Wait. What?" Laurie stuck out her tongue but said no more. Sean and Laurie introduced their guests to their parents, though Devin was known to them already, if not officially. Jack Cassidy was easygoing as he kept to the grill, even towards Devin. If his gaze sharpened a bit, there wasn't the cinematic Dad Vibe of 'hurt my little girl, and I will end you!'. Carolyn was more scrutinizing. Devin had hardly been kind to her younger children. But that seemed to have been changing of late. She had idle suspicions as to why, seeing him here, now, with her son and daughter. "I am so glad to finally meet you, Catherine. Sean has talked quite highly of you," Carolyn said warmly. Experienced with Jason, so some degree, instead of acting instinctively, she asked. "Would you mind if I give you hug?" Kat dithered for moment, before nodding her accent. "That would be okay. And Kat is fine." Carolyn gave the slight girl a firm embrace. Devin grinned brazenly, holding out his arms. Carolyn Cassidy was quite fine for her age. "I'd be fine with a hug, too, Mrs. Cassidy." Carolyn eyes were cool as she regarded him. Jack's gaze was a mite more warning than they had been. After a long moment, she sighed with more exasperation than her son and nodded. "Laurie has said you've been working hard on mending your ways, and that is quite commendable, Devin." She gave him a hug, if a good deal more lightly and brief than the one Kat had gotten, then took a step back, collecting some paper plates. "Now, what would y'all like? We have some salads and grilled veggies for sides, we have water, lemonade and some sodas in the cooler, and what kind of sausages do you favor, we have a variety?" Both Laurie and Sean gave Devin pointed looks, which yelled at him not say anything that could be construed as dirty or sexual in response to their mother asking him about sausages. Assembling plates, Laurie waited patiently for her mother to take a sip of her lemonade before casually mentioning that Sean was taking Kat to Homecoming. Carolyn choked on her drink in surprise, and Devin found out where Laurie learned to glare. Laurie seemed inordinately proud of herself. Sean sighed. "That's wonderful, hon. I'm happy for the both of you," Carolyn said, restraining herself from gushing. Sean had his tight group of friends, and though she readily understood his reasons, she had feared Sean might end up too insular, hiding behind his electronics, rather than even attempting to socialize some. "I certainly hope you'll take some pictures." "We so totally will," Laurie promised. <Dude. I've never gone to any dances or Homecoming. Think you can give me some pointers on how to dress?> Sean thought at Devin's phone, his expression bland even if his face reddened as Carolyn and Laurie bantered about Homecoming. It kind of killed him to have to ask Devin for advice. <Certain accommodations notwithstanding, you have a certain style and it's not like I can ask Jase. Or Cade. Don't think jeans will cut it.>
  12. "Glad to see things going so well for you two," Marissa said calmly as she walked with Autumn. "Although, is discretion something you're aware of? Christ, girl, Jacob and I were starting to feel like we should be stuffing singles into your underwear to show our support for a soon-to-be single mother the way you were riding him like a stripper pole. I'd offer you advice but we both know you'll run off in a huff claiming that if he murders you then goody, we can all be right about him, so I'll not waste my breath. Hell of a show though, Jacob positively cringed with jealousy. Well done." Since everything to Marissa was a game or challenge for dominance, there wasn't a single moment where she believed that Autumn wasn't, on one level or another, trying to rub Jacob's nose in her new relationship. She didn't know the what had transpired against them, and honestly didn't care, but she was pretty sure that Jacob was at fault. Had he not been, he wouldn't have cared so much when he saw her dash off into Jase's arms. "No worries, I manage to twist the knife a bit myself on your behalf. So, what happened between you two? I remember you two almost inseparable at the lake last summer. He cheat on you?" Her eyes got wide and unscrupulous grin appeared with scandalous curiosity flaring in her eyes. "You cheat on him?" As they approached the Bannon Camp she was relieved to learn that they had not erected a Faraday Cage around the grill and demanded that 'guests' submit to a pat down to check for government bugs and wear tin foil hats to make sure the satellites didn't try to steal Hank's secret BBQ sauce recipe. "Gentleman." She smiled at them both with enough amethyst push behind her smile to make them rethink their religion, which was par for the course for her these days. Thankfully, the two men were made a of stronger wills and more forceful personalities than most, and knowing Marissa's powers were centered around pure beauty and that she sometimes 'accidentally' sent off waves of likeability, it hardened them to her megawatt smile that could have had lesser men eating from her hand. Still the coo of her voice resonated like the mating call of a twenty-something escort trying to put herself through medical school and it didn't make her any less beautiful. "Jason promised us meat. Is it help yourself or do we have to beg for it?" "Ah, damn it girl." Hank fumed but kept his voice down. "It's bad enough you all do what you do, but you... you know damn well that's not funny." She chuckled nonetheless. "I'm just messing with you," she laughed. "Come on, it's nice to be able to share a joke with people who actually know, you know? No harm meant." Gar had to wonder. He knew there was a lot of tension between Marissa and his son, ever since she'd shown up their farm not long ago dressed like a young woman really looking to impress a young man. It was obvious Jason being with Autumn irritated the living hell out of her, it didn't take a life of hard living and a failed relationship with an extra-dimensional psychotic nymphomaniac reject (must be Monday in Shelly) to tell him that. Cass's announced greeting turned everyone's head away from Marissa's 'might seduce your dad-type' Billie Elish impression. "Cassie!" She squeed happily... and it was all fake. She mumbled as a rabid four-legged dunderfloof (fluffy, idiot dog) was barreling at them. It was almost impossible for Autumn to miss the way Marissa tensed and reflexively used her bestie as a human shield, putting Autumn between the snarling, rabid beast and the cuddly German Shepard quickly, and happily dashing forward. "Ugh! Cassie!" she squealed. "Get it on a leash!" "Imagine that," Gar said softly in his deep voice. "Girl don't like animals." "Well I mean, historically, they do sense evil. It tracks." Hank smiled widely at the young Marissa and held up a red Solo picnic plate loaded with some ribs, casually adding with a smile, "Sides are on the table." He nodded in the direction of the Bannon picnic table. "Great," Marissa sighed as she accepted the plate. "Sure, why not, highlight of my day: getting heckled by the Weird With Beards club. Cass! Keep your mutt away from me, I swear to god I will call animal control!"
  13. "Hey...Beth." Cassandra and her friend had slowed the game down as both they and Bacon got winded, and were now parked under a tree not far from the Allen's table. Bacon lay between the two, gnawing on the frisbee and enjoying the pats and scritches he got from them as they chatted. The afternoon heat was building to its peak, but a constant light breeze made taking a moment like this to sit very refreshing. Bethany gave her a smile as she looked up from where she was tickling Bacon's ribs gently and asked, "What?" Now on the spot, Cassie hesitated. What to say? "This is going to sound weird, but...it's been on my mind lately," she said slowly, testing each word as it came out of her. "I just...want you to know that I never forgot about you or wanted to not be friends with you. And I still feel like you're my best friend. Even though we..." And her feeble inspiration sputtered out there. "...don't see each other much anymore?" replied Beth with a little mischief and a little regret. When Cassie nodded, Beth went on, "We sort of got sucked into different circles, I guess. Now you have your friends and I have mine, and...my friends play board games and watch sci-fi and cartoons, while you guys..." Here Beth frowned, "I don't know...get in fights in the hall? What DO you guys do?" Cass hesitated at that, then shook her head. "That...we mostly hang out. Like...it's hard to explain. We're all really different people, but there's just something that holds us together." Secrets, she thought. Strongest social glue there is. A shared secret. And here she was, keeping it. Others had told their families, or friends. Why not her? "I'll tell you what," Cassandra said. "I will give you all the deets and the day in the life of, after Homecoming. You know, if I still can." She broke a smile at that, even though it was not a joke, and Bethany laughed because it sounded like one. "I just didn't want you to feel like there was anything, like, bad between us. At least not on my end. I know I kind of disappeared on you, but that wasn't because of you. I was just...kind of messed up." Beth leaned over to give her shoulder a squeeze. "Thanks. Was it your dad?" Cass shook her head. "No, it...I mean okay it was partly that, later on. But even before any of that happened I was just sort of... I felt like I was spinning out of control. Like, you remember that flat rock out by the quarry that we'd lie down on and look up at the stars, and you could close your eyes and feel dizzy? Like the whole world was spinning you off? Like that. Only all the time. I didn't like what I used to like, or like to do what I used to like to do, and I didn't feel like I even knew myself anymore. And then I met Dylan and the other kids over there and it was just really simple for them. You know? Fuck all that shit. Who cares? Just...fucking...enjoy the good times, and deal with the shit times when and if they come, because you can't stop them from coming." With a wince, Beth said, "I can think of a bunch of ways that could mess things up..." "Yeah," Cassie sighed. "And...it got old. Once I decided I knew what I wanted to do. But it was really nice for awhile not feeling like I had to know." Bethany reached out to give Bacon's head a long, epic-level petting. "You could have talked to me." "I know. I wish I had. I just...it felt really bad. Like I was a failure. Like, I was flunking remedial Being Alive." Cassandra ripped up a fistful of grass and started tossing it into the breeze, one blade at a time. "No, you're not a failure," Beth tried to say, but Cass quickly shook her head. "I know. That's not now, that was then. I'm feeling a lot better now. I'm okay, Beth, really. I just really wanted you to understand. None of it was about you. You were always a great friend, and...I hope we're still..." Beth reached out again, this time to put her hand over Cassandra's mouth. "I get it," she laughed. "We're still friends. It's okay. Okay?" Cass leaned over to pull Beth into a hug and blinked back tears. "Yeah," she said. "Yeah, it's okay." They sat there a bit longer in the shade of the tree, then parted to their respective families. Both looked forward to seeing each other again, but only one was confident it would happen. After Beth had to get back to her table, Cassandra checked in with her mom, then went on a bit of a walkabout of the grounds. With the afternoon heat rising and sunset still hours away, some families were already starting to pack up to go back to where the air was conditioned. She did spot, however, some other friends off in the thinning crowds. Autumn was easily visible from her floof of wind-tossed orange hair, and the uncanny height of the boy at her side. Cassandra headed that way to see how they were doing and was just in time to see one of the most unintentionally PG-13 examples of PDA that she expected to see outside an arthouse cinema movie. Jason's height made it seem, from a distance, like it was an adult macking on Autumn too, which was a little weird. Still on her way over, Cass put a pair of fingers in her mouth and whistled like her dad had taught her, making a shrill 'wolf whistle' sound that was clearly audible even at a distance. Bacon, still half-galloping at her side, lifted his head and barked at the noise as well. As she got closer Cassie recognized others there too. Marissa for sure, though she was hazy on the dude she was with. She'd seen him around school, but couldn't place the name right away. Jason was sure sizing him up though, and that was...interesting? Concerning? Autumn was still Autumn though, and was blushing intensely at having been interrupted in her 'extracurricular activities.' "Hey!" Cass called, waving. "Autumn!" Bacon then ran ahead to Autumn and Jase, eager to meet whoever Cassandra was so interested in.
  14. The whistle had reminded Jason that the world did not consist solely of the living flame he'd held in his arms and kissed, though it hadn't had the same face-reddening effect as Autumn stepped a pace away from him, even white teeth showing against the pink of her lower lip as she cast her blue eyes around briefly, perhaps seeking the whistler, before looking back up at him through her fine copper lashes and smiling sheepishly. He smiled in return, faintly curious as to why she was evincing embarrassment. Were girlfriends not supposed to kiss boyfriends? Was it the public forum that made it embarrassing, and if so, why had she kissed him so ardently? He was still focused on that, and the taste of her lip gloss and the tingle of her tongue against his as Autumn's fingers closed around his hand, drawing him after her towards Marissa and the powerfully-built figure he recognised as Jacob - Autumn's ex. Both were subjected to swift analysis as Jase approached them. Neither seemed to be embarrassed by the overt display of affection. Marissa was smiling, which could mean anything - she was far too much the mercurial mistress of her expressions for anything to be taken at face value. Jacob was not smiling, and in fact seemed unhappy. Not uncomfortable: Upset. As though he'd seen or heard something which irritated him which, a cynical part of Jase's awareness of human nature theorised, would possibly explain Marissa's sweet smile. Jealousy, perhaps. Jacob and Autumn had been broken up for awhile, but perhaps there was still feeling there? Jase was not aware of any personal animus between he and the warden's son. In fact, as with ninety-percent of the population of Shelly, he had barely exchanged more than three words with Jacob in the last two years. They just didn't mingle. "Marissa." he smiled slightly as he greeted the lovely girl, nodding to her, then to the youth standing with her. "Jacob." "Nice shirt." Marissa's glossy red lips crooked in a lopsided smirk as she read the logo. "Suits you. And actual jeans, too?" She cast a glance at the still pink-faced Autumn. There was no point trying to embarrass Jase, but teasing was still fun... "Dressing to impress?" "Reflecting a change in outlook through a change in appearance." Jase replied with a slight shrug. "I thought the shirt was amusing. I bought a few different ones. You're looking very 'hot slice of apple pie' yourself." he added with a glimmer of humor in his jade gaze as it took in her outfit. "Why, thank you." Marissa's smile widened a little. "If I'm going to enjoy a last day in the sun, I want to ensure that everyone misses the sight of me afterwards." "Last day in the sun?" Jacob had recovered enough from the sight of Autumn liplocking Shelly's answer to Don Corleone to rejoin the conversation. The fact that Jase wasn't acting shifty as usual was just another point of concern for the handsome teen. "Dramatic way of saying its the last day of summer, Jay." Marissa laughed. Ignoring his muttered correction that his name was 'Jacob', she peered around the couple in front of her. "Are those ribs on your dad's grill, Jaybee?" she asked with the too-casual air of a lioness spotting a wildebeest at a watering hole. "Beef. Smoked last week." "Hook me up." Marissa hadn't really had a chance to eat at the Alister family lunch, and her inhuman metabolism was clamoring so loudly that even if it had been tender young hiker on the Bannon grill, she'd still have a go. She looped an arm through Autumn's as she stepped forward and past, re-appropriating her friend as she made a beeline for where Hank and Gar were sitting. "Sure." Jase replied with a faint smile as he watched the two girls head off, then glanced at Jacob with a wry shrug and a gesture of invitation to follow. "You hungry?" "Sure." Jacob said in unconscious mimicry, following along as the skinny form of the disreputable youth led the way.
  15. “Jacob,” the dark-eyed Shelly native corrected Marissa tersely as they watched the new couple greet each other, and the venomous beauty had the satisfaction of seeing her barbs finally strike home; at least something today was going the way she wanted. Not so for the young man next to her, whose robust frame seemed to waver on the cusp of intervention as the line of his jaw hardened visibly. A new boyfriend was one thing. That new boyfriend being Jason Bannon was another issue entirely. “A-Rae, what the hell are you doing?” he muttered, dragging a hand back through his hair. "Consider yourself caught," Autumn breathed, drawing back slightly with a giddy grin she could feel all the way down to her toes. Was this what it felt like to be iron near a magnet? Whether this, whatever this was, could be described as physics, chemistry, or pure biology, it was unquestionably real. Crazy, and a little unsettling, but real. As real as the sun on her face, and what felt like a hundred tiny suns in her chest all rising at once at the sight of him. Jason smiled a little in answer, or at least she thought he did, if the near-imperceptible crinkling at the corners of his eyes was any indication. It was too risky to hazard a glance down at his mouth, still so perilously close to hers, to really be sure. He was Jason Goddamn Bannon after all, and dangerous, especially in such close proximity. "I was caught a couple days ago," he murmured, his fingertips tracing a line of fire over the redhead’s freckled cheek as he tugged a rogue strand of hair back from her face, and all pretense of self-control fled in the wake of that simple, unaffected statement. Weaponized honesty, she recalled dizzily. She could feel the faintest whisper of his breath, her lips tingling in renewed anticipation, and there was a flicker of… something that surfaced in the deepening sea-blue pools of her eyes as she felt herself moving again, fingers sliding upward through his hair- -And then someone whistled, shrilly, and with a sudden start Autumn felt her higher brain functions re-engage, lungs expanding as they drew in air she hadn’t realized she’d needed. Oh. Oh, god. To her embarrassment and dismay, she realized abruptly that they had an audience, and that her chances of breaking the news to Jacob in any kind of normal, natural way were now pretty much zero. An incendiary flush of bright rose bloomed beneath her skin as the girl with flaming hair and cheeks to match sank back down onto her heels, feeling the solidity of the earth beneath her feet for the first time since she’d seen him there. Well, of fucking course there’s an audience. We’re at the carousel on Labor Day. My old best friend is standing over there with my new best friend, I’m pretty sure both of them want me dead, and here I am in the middle of everybody, climbing Jase like a fucking stepladder. Jesus fuck, Autumn. But, still... it could be way worse. Her parents could be watching.
  16. "Yeah," Devin nodded. His tone carried the same measure of seriousness that Sean's did. It was obvious that no matter how hard these kids thought they were, there were certain things, like impending doom and the safety of their families, that seemed to quell the teenage smirks and quips. "Look, I'm sorry I brought it up. I thought you knew, but this is something we all have to do." "I know," she held back the moisture in her eyes by nodding and trying not to think about it. "Ju-just be careful and I'll do what I can on this side for all our families if, well... if things don't go well. If you can't save him, at least make sure that whatever took him from us regrets it." Devin allowed himself a subtle curl of his lips. "S'what we do girl, we're the Fellowship," he draped his arm around Sean and pulled him close before doing the same with Laurie. "We spend all day looking like Heaven, and all night fighting like Hell. We'll be fine." He released them from the hold, which if anyone would have told Sean a few months ago that he'd be fighting the Forces of Darkness and getting three way hugs after half-assed pep-talks, he would have said 'hell no'. There it was though, Devin trying to keep the group together while it was obvious he was, like the rest of them (except Jase, who stoically face everything with his emerald stare and homicidal indifference) was falling apart. He clapped his hands to punctuate the end of that moment with the dawning of a new one. "Come on! Seriously, I'm not being all mopey today. We're here. It's a party, so come one, let's mingle, let's hang out, for all that is indecent and unholy let's be teenagers for one freakin' day without drama or explosions or the inky doo-doo butter of evil oozing through the walls and screwing things up. Sun's shining, we're all here, we got barbecue's happening. Lets enjoy ourselves." "You," Laurie looked at him skeptically. She pointed at him and then to her and her brother, moving her finger between them. "Want to hang out with us? Like, actually hang out." "Yeah." Devin offered a stiff, single nod that was a statement in and of itself. "In public." She stated. "Yeah." He stiffly nodded again. "In front of all these people? Devin the whole school is here." She gestured to the crowd. "You're popular. We are... not. What about image you don't have to hang out with us to prove something, you know. We get it, it's fine. We're not going to be all butt hurt if you-" "Stop." Devin cut her off, smiling slightly. He looked to Sean and he both. "Look I know I've been horrible in the past, we all know, I'm running out of breath constantly repeating it, but true facts, so listen up. When I've faced the Dark and I've protected people, even if accidentally, and I have to go to mirror dimensions to kick their bitch-king in the teeth... it helps grow someone past how many likes my newest Snap gets. If I might go down tonight fighting, then I want to spend today hanging out with my friends. Or, the closest thing I've every had to any. That's you guys. So come on, show me what those below the social poverty line do for fun." Laurie looked to her brother while Sean shook his head, partially laughing, and partially in disbelief. Don't look at me," Sean smirked, shaking his head. Leave it to Devin to ruin a perfectly good moment of attempted redemption by being an entitled rich kid. "This Twilight Zone stuff is like, my everyday now. I'm almost numb to it at this point." The three looked to Kat as she approached and Devin gestured in the new redhead's direction. "Bam! See? There you go. We have found a stray Kat." He looked to Sean and gave that 'Devin-smirk' "It's like a double-date now, dude." Laurie slapped Devin in the gut with the back of her hand, gently, but enough to make a point. "We are not dating," she glared sternly into his eyes. "Ever. Wash that thought out of your head right now, Jauntsen." "Or, it's an orgy," he smiled and powered through. "If you two are into the whole Game of Thrones thing... which explains the hooves and boobs-" "Wow." Laurie could only laugh and shake her head. "You are such a treat, Jauntsen." She broke off and approached Kat. "Hi, I'm Laurie, Sean's sister. Hopefully you've arrived to save us from his mental retardation." "Oh, come on!" Devin protested. "I'm just spitballing ideas. Tossing out a few hypotenuses and developing theories. This is science, right? I thought nerds loved science. I'm trying to be involved in your hobbies. Solidarity, my brothers... and sisters."
  17. Champion's Field, after Noon. -ish Kat rose her eyes from her sandwich at the amused cough of her father, and her eyes followed Josh's, to Jason and Autumn's shameless embrace, and a faint smile pulled the corner of her lips. She laid back, lazily pressing her back against the tree she was sitting by, and deployed her mind web, scanning around while taking a bite of her sandwich. If Jason's here... Bingo! Sean was around too, standing next to Devin and someone who somehow felt familiar, but Kat couldn't quite put a name on that person. Devin's sister was here too, and Kat remembered Autumn's advice from last Thursday. She glanced at Tessa while her mind smoothly flew over Cassandra's presence. I guess we're missing Cade, Lilly, that guy Charlie and... Courtney's there actually... Kat frowned for a moment, setting aside the reminders of her nightmare, and her mind web broke up. "Hey, Tess." Said Tess turned to Kat at her inquiring tone. "What's up, honey?" She replied. "Think you could show me places to buy a nice dress?" That's it, Kat thought, focus on what happens after we hunt that man-stag down, and you'll be alright. Tess rose an eyebrow. "I know a couple shops in Great Falls, but why?" Kat could clearly hear what her Dad's girlfriend implied, and she grinned. Slightly. "Well," she started, "I've heard about Homecoming, and we don't have stuff like that in France, so I guess... I wanna try something new?" She paused for a moment, trying to read Tessa's expression. "Also, Sean asked me out for Homecoming. And I accepted. Least I can do for my Shelly sherpa." She took a sip off of her can of Ice Tea and stood up. "Speaking of, I'm gonna pretend I have a social life and go talk to my friends, I can see them around." Her father huffed a chuckle, amused, and handed her another sandwich before she left. "Thanks, Dad!" And she was gone. Choices, choices. Which one of her new friends was she going toward? She didn't really know. The sun felt pleasant on her face, her forearms, and there was this intermittent breeze, barely noticeable, but it was probably the best part of it. Her feet on auto-pilot brought here to where Sean and Devin stood at. From the looks of her, the third person could be no one else than Sean's sister. "Hey guys!" She said as she came around.
  18. "Eee-yeaaah..." Sean hedged, juggling the extra Fresca back into his satchel as he looked up at the other two. "I was gonna tell her today, y'know, after this. Ain't your fault, man." He gestured around Champion's Field with his drink in one hand, bun and sausage in the other. "I was gonna tell you, Laurie, honest." Sean couldn't really blame Devin. It was getting hard to remember who knew what, and what you could tell to whom, and what you didn't mind others knowing. And as much as he might still be leery of the interest Laurie was showing in Devin - Devin interest in Laurie was less of concern, since he showed the same interest in practically every female in Shelly, and probably out of it too - there was far worse that Laurie could have making a mistake with. And through all that was happening, even Sean had to admit Devin had really stepped up his game. "Tell me what?" Laurie reiterated, folding her arms huffily, eyes hard on both her brother and Devin. "Mhmphmer," Sean mumbled around a bite of sausage to give himself a bit of time. Picking up on his mistress' irritation, Rascal when to butt Sean in the butt, who just managed to scoot out of the way at the last moment, almost dropping his drink. He glared at the goat. Devin looked like he wanted to give him a high five. "Msstsrd." Sean took a sip of Fresca to help put down his last bit of sausage, then quickly finished the rest of it, then his Fresca, wiping his hands on his pants. He casually looked around to make sure no one seemed to be eavesdropping on them. "Okay, the Cliff Notes. Cody got infected with an evil... thing, entity --- Remember that episode of TNG, with the Skin of Evil? Anthropomorphic evil, abandoned on a planet?" "Yes..." Laurie admitted dubiously, giving Devin a slightly self-conscious glance. "Okay, something like, but in a dimension next to ours. But able to reach into ours at certain points and time. That got inside Cody and now Cody ain't Cody anymore. The Big Bad. At least one of them. He's on the Other Side. If he gets on this Side, stuff gets bad, like super bad, super pandemic bad, maybe zombie apocalypse bad. People acting on their worse impulses is just the start. So, we're going to stop him. Tonight." Sean gave his sister a pointed look, trying to impress on her the seriousness of what he was trying to convey. Laurie didn't seem to be buying it at first, then she shifted her weight, considering what her brother could do. What Jase could do. What Devin, of all people, could do. "Okay... right. But like, there has to be somebody else who can go do that, right? I mean, I know you guys can do all these incredible things, but you're all still in high school for fuck's sake." Sean shook his head, a bit reluctantly. "They can't get to Not-Cody, not where they can stop him before it's too late." He nodded towards Devin. "With our help, Devin can get us there, and together, Voltroning our powers, we can stop Not-Cody." Laurie shivered, hugging herself tighter. This was insane. "This is insane. You all kn - why didn't you tell me before?" "I was still trying to figure out how to tell you that we're to the land of Upside-Down Thunder to face off against an entity of unmitigated and seemingly immortal evil, and we might not win." And we might die. The last part might not have been said, but Laurie heard it. She'd seen her brother scared before, but he'd always toughed it out before, fought his way through it. But he was struggling now, and didn't want to show it. She didn't stop hugging herself, but she straightened her shoulders and stood up tall, giving Sean and Devin a determined nod. "Okay. Okay," she repeated. She took a deep breath, unfolding her arms, her hands balling into fists. She nodded again. "You guys gotta go what you gotta do. So, what do I do? How do I help?" "If we don't come back, you get mom and dad out of Shelly, Laurie," Sean said with somber seriousness, sending shivers of scare sweat sliding down Laurie's spine. Sean looked over at Devin. "That about cover it?"
  19. "Hey," Laurie cheerfully greeted her brother. "Nope we were just talking." "I was talking, she was flirting," Devin pointed out as Laurie bumped playfully into him with a quiet laugh hidden in her steps. A part of Sean hated to see it, but she was actually flirting. Devin was too, but he knew Devin was shameless in his pursuits for feminine attention, which, as a brother, gave Sean's feeling some pause. IF was one thing for Devin to mindless do his thing, but if his sister was stating to like Devin... that might only be setting her up for some unwanted, and very real, heart-break. Devin denied the Fresca. "Nah, I'm good, man. Water day for me. I feel you though, Cassidy, about getting away from the parents. Our only bring us here so they can show us off to the rest of the town and make it look like they might actually know what they're doing. Lord knows they certainly don't care." Devin laughed and scoffed as he watched his mother and father wandering about 'mingling' with people they positively despised. "You know, last year, my mother actually FaceTimed a parent teacher conference. Had me hold the phone. Saddest part, she works at the school. Apparently the cookie platter was empty and she was more concerned about how that made the school look as a host to the parents than being a parent to her kid." He sighed and shrugged, shaking his head. "I mean, genetically, you Cassidy's are a mess, but as far as parents go, you guys hit gold." Laurie nodded through pursed lips and sucked her teeth. "Yep, it's true. Teagan is a shaved wendigo and I actually have cloven feet and a tail hidden by my shorts. You got us." "Oh, I knew it. Jaunt, super sleuth." He scrolled his hand like he was placin the words in the sky. "Might go into business for myself if Not-Cody doesn't finish us off tonight." Like everyone else, it was on his mind. No matter how from the thoughts he tried to distance himself, the thought of battling Not-Cody this evening seemed to keep creeping to the forefront of his mind, finding its way into his words. He realized it was a little unnerving and look at the other two apologetically. "Sorry, its uh... kinda on my mind. Been a messed up few days." "Wait, what?" Laurie glanced at Devin with concern then whipped a red pony tail in Devin direction as she looked to her brther. "Cody, what? Who is gonna what now? Sean, the hell is he talking about?" Devin peered around her to look at Sean. "You didn't tell her?" His neck tightened to stretch his lips into a frown. "Oooh, shit. Sorry, dude. Thought she knew." "Know what?" She asked firmly.
  20. Out and About Shelly Sean dropped Jason off then started heading for Champion's Field to meet up with his parents and sister, when his Jeep chimed, indicating it was hungry. Not surprising he'd gone to Great Falls and back twice this weekend. He huffed and switched lanes to stop off at the gas station to fill up rather than heading to The Carousel directly. He loved his Trailblazer, no doubt, with its height and capabilities on and off road, but he still regretted being outbid on the Tesla. With his powers, he was sure he could keep an electric vehicle running indefinitely - well, almost, he would get tired eventually rather than having to gas up his vehicle. He'd been looking at electric conversion kits, but they were pricy and he didn't have the savings after buying his Grand Cherokee. He believed he could do the conversion himself, with help, but he would still need a garage and the right tools. Sean pulled in to Simons Petroleum and hopped out of his vehicle. He sauntered around it, reached up and unscrewed the cap to the gas tank and stuck the nozzle of pump inside. He frowned at the pump for a moment when it asked him to preauthorize an amount. It would be so easy to spoof the system, to make it think he'd payed when he hadn't, but he resisted the urge. He tapped his debit card on the reader then pulled the trigger to let the gas start filling the tank. Tapping his foot in time with the music coming from his car, Sean grew aware at being stared at. Sean glanced over between the pumps to see two men looking at him as they spoke, standing by a F-250 even more jacked up than his Grand Cherokee. The younger of the two was Jared, a member of the Shelly High Football team, the older, presumably his father. The fireflies of bioelectric impulses danced inside them both, showing a rising agitation, but not so much Sean thought violence was imminent. He shifted so his back was mostly towards them, but was still able to keep them in his peripheral vision. "In my day, boys had the decency to look and dress like boys and play football and girls to look and dress like girls and be cheerleaders. None of this tranny shit or identifying as this or that from one day to the next, making mock of God's plan for 'em." Jared the Elder was speaking to his son, but was being loud enough to make sure Sean heard him. Sean's shoulders tightened even as he sighed. It felt like a year ago since he made that silly bet with Laurie. A bet he was pretty sure he'd lose, a bet he'd made to force himself through his own hang-ups to see what something felt like. He'd known he would get comments, but he hadn't thought it would be this big of a deal, didn't think it would alter the opinions people already had about him. He feigned not hearing them, as he pulled the trigger a few more times to make sure the tank was full, then settled the pump in its cradle and completed the transaction. "You hear that, titboy?" Jared the Younger called out, taking a step towards the feminine boy. "You'll get your comeuppance. You ain't had no right dressing up and pretending you're a cheerleader, even if your sister is on the football team, travesty as that is." Sean could barely make out Jared mutter something about Lilly before he raised his voice again. "You're making The Coyotes a laughing stock." Sean just stared at the rangy jock. You're doing that on your own, bud, he thought, but no one else around was laughing. The attendant was looking on through the window of his kiosk. "I'm sorry, just because I was wearing the uniform, you think everyone thought I was a cheerleader?" Sean's sweet voice was full of scorn. "Did any of you see me on the field cheering? Or even stand next to another cheerleader?" "It don't matter none. You ain't earned that uniform. And none claiming to be a boy would be caught dead in it." Sean barely bit back the laugh. Earned? Right. Yeah, skill made the team, football or cheerleader, but especially among the cheerleaders under Courtney's reign, it was nearly as often made by nepotism and sycophancy. "Sorry I confused you, Jared." He spared a scathing glance for his father just before climbing up into the Jeep. "And in my dad, we're smart enough not to smoke when we pumping gas." The ashy cigarette dropped from Jared the Elder's mouth as Sean drove away. He slammed the steering wheel with the palm of his hand, furious at himself for taking the bait, furious that others were making a big deal out of something he thought so small in the grand scheme of things, even if privately, it had been a big deal to him. Furious that he and his friends were facing a goddamned monster on these goddamned people's behalf. He made a sharp turn away from the direction of Champion's field, needing time to cool off. He didn't want to die. He had bloody super powers, and it felt like death was waiting for him everyway he turned. Cody and the entity that was inside him, or part of him, tonight. His own genetic abnormalities in an uncertain amount of months time if he didn't find a longshot answer at Site B, where he might also end up getting killed trying to infiltrate. Or even something as mundane as turning into another glossed over hate crime statistic, which could happen pretty much anytime, practically anywhere. Sean drove down Shelly's main street and had the almost overwhelming urge to just... keep driving. He'd seen so little of the world. In a few months, he could see some portion of it, more than Montana and a few hospitals in some of the bigger cities around the US. He could get by, as long as he could find an ATM or had access to the internet. Cryptocurrency was practically made for someone like him. Everyone else in the Fellowship was pairing off, but there was no one for him. They might have been his friends, but nothing more to the freak, despite Jase's assurances earlier in the day. He glanced in the rearview mirror and angrily scrubbed away a tear he hadn't felt on his cheek. But they were his friends, and he still had family here, and that was the tether that stopped him from abandoning Shelly altogether and just continuing down the highway. He turned and drove home. In the barn, he stopped to wash his face in cool water, then checked in on his Matrix Trio, getting the updates on ReGenesis. Everything looked like it was checking out, the last bugs exterminated, Steam page and the direct site ready to go. He hit a key, a physical key for added poignancy, and started the countdown for release tomorrow morning. Then he found his cat, Turing, and coaxed him from his dresser. Turing had been none to pleased with him since he experimented with what he could do with electromanipulative control on the grey cat. But Turing magnanimously relented to his touch and let Sean pet him for a while. Calmed by the near silent purring, Sean picked Turing up on his shoulder and carried him into the main house. Just in case he didn't come back tonight. Then he got back in his car and drove to Champion's Field, parking next to his dad's truck, a spot miraculously still open on the gravel lot. Sean collected his nearly ever-present satchel and slung it crosswise over his shoulder as he slid out from his vehicle. Squinting against the noonday sun, he looked over Champion's Field, finding his parents among the scattered trees by the picnic area with the other families, more or less in the same spot they claimed every year. Just like most of the other families who usually attended each Labor Day, in an unwritten but still understood accord. The buxom boy strolled over to his parents, hands stuffed in the pockets of his white hoodie with its spreading tree graphic. His father gave him a nod and pointed at the grill with a pair of tongs, assuring him that he'd have to take his turn cooking. His mom turned from placing a half dozen muffins in a paper bag and accepting a few bills in return, giving her middle child a motherly smile. "There you are, hon." Carolyn swept a lock of strawberry-blond hair behind her ear in a mirror of her youngest daughter as she looked over her shoulder to where she'd last seen Jason. "Everything okay? I thought you'd show up with Jason - oh!" Carolyn's brows rose in surprise at finding Jason in a close and public embrace with the Keane girl. Her lips creased with a private smile, pleased for the boy who had spent so much time at their place. She hoped her own son found someone someday, even if it didn't last, and regardless where his inclinations lied. She and Jack had discussed talking with Sean about it, but had decided to leave it alone for now. Sean followed his mother's glance then looked away, gemstone eyes darkening with a hint of envy. Instead he prepared himself a Polish sausage on a bun with all the trimmings and grabbed a canned drink. After an instant of consideration, he took another can and stuffed it in his satchel. He tended to go through the first can quick. "I'm fine. Jase just wanted to get his car and then I had to gas up, then check on something back home. It's all good." Carolyn gave Sean a sharp look, well aware that wasn't the whole of it, but deciding not to call him on it. "Okay... If there's anything you think we should know, about, well, you know, please, Sean, don't keep us in the dark." Sean hid a shiver under his hoodie, looking for an excuse to leave before he inadvertently revealed more than he would prefer. He saw Laurie and Devin talking a ways off and nodded towards them. "I won't, I promise. There's Laurie. She texted me when we were out. I should go, um, apologize." Drink and sausage in hand, Sean hustled over to his taller sister and the even taller Devin. "Hey, guys. Hope I ain't interrupting, just have to escape the 'rents for a bit." He shuffled his drink into the crook of his arm and fished out the other can from his satchel, offering it to Devin first, though he held it out somewhere between Devin and Laurie. "Want a Fresca?"
  21. "And there she goes," Marissa said softly, making certain Jacob could hear her. She motioned to Jacob with her open hand. "Boy," she swept her hand to where Jason and Autumn were acting like it's been years and two wars and a continent since they'd last seen each other. "Meet toy." She folded her arms, placing her weight on one hip, narrowing her eyes in villainous observation. "Man," she sighed. "Makes you wonder what he did to just sweep her off her feet like that, right? She's been positively ecstatic since he spent the night with her on Friday, I'm so happy for her. She's just so secretive, you know? I don't know who had her heart before Jason, but man, they sure did a number on it. It's so nice to see her happy again. Gives me the giggles." She turned and faced Jacob with innocence in her eyes. "So, you and Tawny, huh?" She nodded. "I can totally see that, you two are going to be so adorable together. I know we've had our misunderstandings in the past, Jay, but perhaps you'll save me a dance at Homecoming?"
  22. "Hey kid." Hank nodded his habitual greeting as Jase emerged from the crowd and, nodding briefly in return to both his father and friend, retrieved a bottle of iced tea from the cooler. His dad stepped over and hugged him: a perfunctory embrace, quickly done with and with the roughness of unvoiced emotion. At his son's quizzical head tilt, Gar smiled and shrugged. "It occurred to me I probably didn't hug you a lot in the past." he said by way of explanation, studying the lean young man as if committing him to memory before turning back to the grill, fiddling with the sizzling food as a pretext to break the awkwardness. "Good shopping trip?" "Yeah." Jason smiled a little, looking around briefly as he spoke. "Got some language tapes and books - German this time." He turned his gaze back to his father, studying him as he added "And a smartphone." Hank frowned, glancing at Gar also. Neither man owned a cellular phone - neither trusted them or approved of them as devices, a common point of view amongst the militia. Gar, however, nodded slowly as he busied himself flipping the ribs. "You know the risks. I've told you often enough." he said quietly, turning to look at Jase. "I have to allow that you know what you're doing." "I'll be working with Sean to secure it." Jason nodded. "Don't worry. By the time he's done with it, it'll be safer than walking over and whispering in someone's ear. I weighed the cons against the convenience for me." Gar regarded him a moment longer, then nodded. "So long as you thought it through." he shrugged again, then gestured at the table. "Carolyn brought a pie over. We'll take them some ribs over when they're done." "Seems fair." Jase nodded, leaning one hip against the table as he relaxed. = = = = = = = = Autumn stiffened as Marissa's venomously dulcet tones broke into her reconciliation with her oldest friend. She was well aware that the Twins had a thing about Jacob, who was both stoic and popular enough to shrug off most of Mari's malice and physically capable enough to stand up to Devin's more physical bullying attempts - bullying wasn't really much fun when you took at least as many lumps as the other guy, after all. After several stalemates, they had mostly confined themselves to petty spite and opportunism for the last year or so. Jacob was - or had been - a threat to their thrones: unlike Jason, who would simply ignore goading and would react to being shoved by moving away and waiting to see if the other person's arm got tired, Jacob would push back, stand up for himself and others, and as an athlete, outdoorsman, all-round nice dude and decent student, was probably a shoe-in for Prom King. Now? With the Dark, and aliens, and weird powers, and monsters? Autumn figured Devin probably didn't much care anymore that Jacob 'defied' the Twins order. Hell, 'new' Devin would likely try to make amends, or at least be cool from here on out. Marissa, however, was just petty enough that she always had time to stick the knife in. Why did I agree to be friends with her, again? Autumn thought in a mixture of exasperation (at Marissa being, well,, Marissa) and embarrassment (at having been caught crying in public) as she wiped her eyes before straightening up and fixing the Queen Bee with a direct stare. "Marissa." she said in a quiet voice, her grey-blue eyes clouded with her frustration. "I wouldn't walk up on you having a conversation with someone and dismiss them. There's more important shit going on than 'girl talk'." She smiled a little. "Can we all just get along, for today at least?" she asked, looking from Marissa to Jacob, who nodded, smiling reassuringly at her. Looking back at Mari, she saw the glossy-haired teen roll her eyes expressively, fold her arms, then sigh. "I suppose so." she smirked, unfolding her arms and reaching out to hook her hand through Autumn's elbow. "Still, let's mingle, hmm? Jacob can come along too, of course." she added as though dispensing a favor, her dark eyes taunting as she regarded the tall young man. The fact that he reminded her of a more-assertive Cade did him no favors in her eyes. "Sure." Jacob fell in on the other side of his childhood friend, smiling at Autumn wryly. "Couldn't pass up the chance to meet your boy-toy. Whoever they are." "Mother. Fucker." Autumn grumbled. She'd hoped Jacob had missed that part in the overall Marissa-ness, but obviously he hadn't. UGH! Why me? It wasn't like she and Jay were a thing anymore. They hadn't been for a little while. Yet, there it was - the awkwardness of her ex meeting her current boyfriend... and given how Jay had expressed concerns about who Autumn was hanging around with earlier this week, this meeting was going to redefine awkward. "Oh, you don't know?" Marissa sounded surprised, with just a hint of insincerity to let those listening know that she was loving this. "Not surprised, really. A-Rae likes to keep things close to her chest. Very close." she added suggestively, causing Jacob to scowl and Autumn to, for a change, wish that a meteor would strike someone other than herself- And then she saw him, leaning against a picnic table, a drink in his hand. Dressed differently from normal, but that only registered dimly in the rising warm ocean roar of her mind as she took in his iridescent gaze and that lean symmetry of his form she felt was etched on her libido. Marissa was saying something, but Autumn only answered 'mmhmm', stepping a little faster, her arm slipping from her friend's clasp as she sped up. She saw him turn to watch her, noting her approach as he straightened, setting his drink down absently and moved to meet her. "...and there he goes." Hank snickered as both grown men watched the wiry shape move at a stride to meet the girl with the hair that threw back gleams of copper and gold in the sunshine. The two teens were walking fast, as if they were going to run at any moment and collide, but then stopped suddenly, mere inches from one another as they looked into each other's faces. "Hey." Jason said quietly, feeling 'it' again, that rising electricity as though a storm was in the air, sparks of white fire in his blood at her mere proximity. That primal, irrational part of him reached out in it's chains, wanting to touch, to kiss, to taste. He paused as long as he could, devouring her with his eyes. "Hey." Autumn returned, a little breathlessly, as though she had been running, lost in the glittering sheen of his gaze. Her face felt hot. Her body felt hot, as though she were on the verge of delicious immolation in emerald fires. Neither said anything else for a long moment. They just stared into each other, and those watching felt, as Dana had that Saturday morning, a sense of voyeurism at witnessing something so unashamed in it's expression. Hank and Gar coughed and looked away. Marissa was aware of an astonished sound from Jacob and looked to see a surprised scowl on the young man's face. Not everyone was paying attention, of course. But of those that were, at least one person present was experiencing something very different from discomfort or embarrassment at what she was seeing. Oh, no. Kaitlin had seen her son arrive while chatting with Ms Sevy, and had been covertly watching him to see if he'd notice her. But the red-head's arrival put fears of discovery way down the list of concerns for the shapely blonde woman. The way Jase looked at her... Oh no. No no no. No. Damn the Trickster and all his works. She cursed, a common Teulu phrase for when things went catastrophically wrong. And she couldn't intervene. Gar was right there, and in any case, for the replacement Biology teacher to be interfering would call attention... Damn it. Autumn placed her hands on Jason's chest, and like a circuit being completed the action broke the two out of their paralysis. Her hands slid up and around his neck, one of his hands went around her waist, drawing her closer, his other hand cupped her cheek, fingers splaying across her flushed skin as she fitted herself to his frame and went up on tiptoe, their lips meeting in a kiss that was far from innocent and yet unreservedly pure, an expression of desire both honest and unfettered by any other consideration. "Oh, there's Jase." Dana's words caught Ian's attention and he looked just in time to see his daughter throw her arms around the neck of and kiss the lean, shaggy-haired figure who held her possessively. "Uh... I guess Autumn saw him too." Dana grimaced slightly as she noted her husband's expression. Well, at least you haven't seen him put his hands on her bu- Oh, he just did. Great. she sighed inwardly as her lithe and active daughter did everything but climb her tall boyfriend as his hands slid down to... brace her. Yes. That was it.
  23. "Do you think she'll actually help?" Laurie asked Devin. The two had stepped away from their parents and were slowly walking along in the shade with Rascal prancing along not far from them. "Pretty sure," Devin shrugged. "I know she's a bit abrasive, but she cares in her own way. Marissa is trying, she just will never admit it because she feels it's a sign of weakness, or admitting that we were wrong in some way." "Uh, you tortured a school for three years," Laurie laughed. "You kinda were." "I know that. She refuses to accept it. It's just," he shrugged again, sighing. "Her way. I don't know. I know it's hard to believe, but, she really does like you guys. If she says she's going to help, trust me, tomorrow? She'll have it halfway sorted. Trust me." Her lips curled in an appreciative smirk as she tugged a strand of coppery hair back behind her ear. "Well, tell her thanks for me? And thanks again, you know, for this weekend." "No sweat. Glad you had a good time and I'm surprised your mother let you slip away with me, she still seems to hate me and now thinks we're canoodling on the side." Devin laughed a bit recalling the trip they'd taken and the numerous laws they'd broken recently. He'd kept her out until four in the morning the other evening and expected her to be grounded for life. Texts had later revealed that while she was in a heap of trouble, it wasn't as bad as she thought, considering she owned up to her wrong doing, promised she'd be more careful, and absolutely swore nothing had happened between her and Devin, intimately. "Noooo," she laughed. "No canoodling. They were pretty pissed, yes, but I did explain none of it was your fault." He looked at her a bit confused so she explained. "Well, I was honest. I mean, I agreed to the trip, right? So, it's not like you put a gun to my head. I simply told them, when they tried to blame you for everything, that it was a two party deal, you know? I could have and should have left and come home on time, but I didn't and that has nothing to do with you, so they should be blaming you for my choices." Her own shrug punctuated her statement. "Wow, you took a bullet for me," he smiled at her. "I appreciate that." "Yeah, well," she grinned, blowing it off like it was no big deal. "You're not a bad guy, most of the time." She laughed as he his face took on an expression of offense. "You, Deej, at some point you're going to have to talk with my parents. If you're really serious about repairing all the damage you've caused over the years, then, it's not just me and my brother you've hurt. MY mom and dad had to deal with it too. They were our support group though all of yours and Marissa's storms." "I know, I know," he huffed. "It's just... going to take time. My list apologies is growing daily." "Well, I'll keep putting in a good word for you, how's that?" She smiled and leaned into him, nudging him with her shoulder. "It's the least I can do, I suppose."
  24. "A-Rae?" Came the soothing voice of Marissa and all the contempt in her tone was barely concealed with her wicked grin and narrowed, razor-like glare that proclaimed her desire to hurt Jacob in some way. The twins and Jacob never got along, as one of the few individuals in the school that willfully fought back against their bullying and harassment he'd quickly earned himself a label of ire from the Disastrous Duo. "Now why didn't I think of that? What's the 'Rae' for?" She brushed away her thought, knowing she could ask Autumn later, and they both doubted she actually cared. "FYI, your boy toy just arrived. Devin is stuck with Laurie fawning all over him, so that was no fun. For what he's spending on her he better get his money's worth." She huffed with irritation at her brother. "Anyway, c'mon, let's mingle." "Run along," she waved him away like he was dismissed. "Girl talk time."
  25. Julia: [smiles for the camera] "Hello, everyone. The next in our cast interview series is the 'will-they/won't-they power couple of Weirder Stuff. One is an irreverent, thrillseeking teenage troublemaker...the other an intrepid reporter in-training. One of the big surprises this season was how, despite getting on each other's nerves so much, they seem to be looking to forge some kind of relationship together. I am of course speaking of Cassandra Allen, and Devin Jauntson." [turns in her chair to face to the side as the camera pans over to show the two actors sitting next to one another on a pair of canvas seats] Cassandra: [grinning excitedly] "Hi, Julia! Thanks for doing this for the show, and the viewers and...and everyone! Mwah!" [she blows a kiss to the camera] "I'm Cassandra, and I play the character of Cassandra Allen on Weirder Stuff." [looks over at Devin's actor](edited) Devin: [waves] "Heyo, everyone. Thanks for taking time Julie, these meet and greets have been awesome. I am Devin Jauntsen and I play, well, myself. [laughs, looks to Ellen] When did we become a power couple? I thought we were still in the plucky comic relief zone." Cassandra: "We can be the plucky power comic relief couple!" [holds up a finger] "Not that I'm confirming we're a couple. That would be spoiling. After the lectures Autumn gets, I am not stepping in that puddle." Devin: [Laughs] "Nope. She needs constant supervision." Julia: [nods, smiling.] "Oh, we've all heard she is a handful. So, out of curiosity, how does the couples thing work? How does the show determine who 'hooks up' with who? Writers? Producers? Do you have any say in it?" Cassandra: [shrugs] "The director and writers seem like they're open to comments, but we're not really on that team, you know? Like, mostly we can say something like, 'I think my character would say this instead of that' or that kind of thing. Not so much 'I think I should fall in love with someone else.' Because that would change the whole story." Cassandra: [laughs] "Which is just fine with me, by the way! These guys are WAY better at writing that kind of thing than I am!" Devin: [nods] "There's a lot of meetings about the story, too. We get a lot of say, but ultimately it boils down to what's best for the story. Like, the Cassy/Devin has on the fanbase's mind since that first night they held hands running for their lives... but even we shrugged and thought 'eh, these two really don't have a lot in common, there needs to be more story', so it was added as more of a writing tool and we've flirted and joked since to build that rapport. Now, the fanbase is going nuts and we're not telling." [grins as he looks to the camera] Cassandra: [nods] "Like, right from the start it was them, on that first night when everything went crazy, you know? When the monster shows up and that air force guy...they sort of dived into that swimming pool together, even more than with the others in the team." Julia: "As actors, do you have any kind of emotional investment in this fictional relationship? Independently of the fan response? Is this something you're pulling for?" Devin: "Wow. Breaking out the big guns. Um, I would say yes. I mean, we really have a lot of fun and we really get into the emotion and the ups and downs of these teenagers' lives. There are a few episodes that I was so invested in that sometimes I felt like I knew the characters more than the actors. We were just delivering the emotion, you know? So, to finally have Cass and Devin out in the spotlight it feels good. These two are the characters who really have the potential to get themselves into trouble with a lot bickering. Could be funny." Cassandra: [lifts a thumbs up] "I am a total fan of the direction this show is going right now, including and especially Cass and Dev. They are super cute." Devin: [shrugs, looking innocently] "Plus, let's face it, no woman escapes Devin. They all want him, it's just a matter of time." Julia: [lughs] "He does have that certain measure confidence, doesn't he? How alike are you to the persona you play? How much of yourself is into making the character and the show work?" Cassandra: [laughs] "Devin, you go first on this one." Devin: "What? Why me? [Laughs] Uh, I honestly am not a whole lot like Devin. I am a gymnast, but that's about it. Devin is very anti-nerd has no filters or shyness to him. Me? I'm big into a few nerdy things, like my Star Wars and MCU. I just love special effects, which is what pulled me to this project. I was actually embarrassed that scene where Cass touched Devin's chest... it tickled and her hand was really cold. I'm more mellow and reserved, like my sister. To be honest, I don't think I could put up with a guy like Devin for very long, but that's the appeal of the trope." Cassandra: [nods] "I'm very different too. I could never do the kind of things Cassandra in the show does. I freak out very easily. That whole thing where she and Autumn go into the town hall?" [shakes head] "Nope. Uh uh. I'd take, like one look at it and move right out of town. I mean, no joke, that whole scene took forever because I had to calm down between half the takes, and I knew it was just a story." Devin: "We loved filming that day, watching those two be creeped out by a scene we all knew was fake was a serious hat tip to the effects people." Julia: "That's a good segue. How does the cast of this show get along behind the scenes? You clearly know how to work together, but you're also playing a bunch of teenagers. Is there any real life teenage drama that goes on?" Cassandra: "I mean...it's not high school or anything. We're a pretty tight crew, we're all friends. Even the people you don't see every episode, we all see each other basically every day. The only real drama is what we put in front of the cameras." Devin: [nods] "True. I mean we all have our quirks, like if Jason breaks character it takes him an hour to get back in the game, which is frustrating, but then again, they all put up with my pranks and gags and Autumn and me trying to make them laugh during their scenes, so fair is fair." Julia: "Devin I spoke with your sister and she said you presented her with the project and she fell in love with it. How did the you and Cass get involved with this?" Devin: "Uh, well, I got a tip from a friend who said this project was coming up, and I had the opportunity to see a few highlights of the proposal and it seemed so... wonky. The sci-fi/horror/super heroes aspects of the show really appealed to me, and I just had to see those special effects, y'know? Originally I wanted the role of Bannon, because my sister and I are always cast as the well-off teens or popular kids, but after Mari and I got the call Eric (Kripke) was like: 'dude, we have the perfect power set for you, you're going to love it'. And I do. Cassandra: "As for me, this is my first big role." [grins eagerly] "I got into theater in high school, and decided to really push myself with it when I went to college, so I didn't just take courses...I did community theater too. One of my friends wound up being involved in the production and he gave me a tip about the auditions being planned." [shrugs] "There was a lot of luck involved, but in the end, the director and producer really liked what I did, and here I am." Julia: "Devin, you said you wanted the role of Jason Bannon. Are there any other roles in the show you might have been interested in? What about you, Cassandra?" Cassandra: [shyly] "I knew who I wanted to be from the start. Just reading like...the first cold read lines they gave us for the audition. I just sort of locked on." Devin: "Cade, actually is the role they considered for me. Jock, bit a sweetheart, big and lovable. When they merged mine and Marissa's role's into the twins, they selected me as the Devin character who was the loudmouthed opposite to Marissa's mean girl." Julia: "So, all this energy on the set and all the shenanigans. Give the viewers a couple of examples awkward blooper that have occurred, either between you two, or another cast member. My Twitter feed has been blowing up with that one." [grins] Cassandra: [buries her face] "Oh god." Devin: [laughs, looking at Cass] "This I gotta hear." Cassandra: "Okay." [looks up, very redfaced] "This is going to get me into trouble, so I hope you and everyone appreciates this." [she laughs nervously] "So, as I said I came here from community theater, and there things could be kind of...rowdy. Like, it was really common to play tricks on each other, and I didn't really get right away that those aren't always as appropriate here? Anyway, there was originally a shot in the town hall scene where Autumn has to reach into a hole in the wall because we saw something in there. She was supposed to pull out an old, wrecked teddy bear, but I swapped it with..." [somehow turns even redder] "A...different item. Between takes." Cassandra: [laughs again] "So she is expecting to see a teddy bear, and instead she pulls out this...thing for ladies? Can I say it?" [looks offscreen] Julia: [laughs] "A dildo?" Cassandra: [covers mouth again and nods] "The funniest part was that she didn't really know what it was at first, so she FREAKED OUT for real, thinking it was a snake or something. I had to go apologize to her, and then we spent another ten minutes laughing until we cried, and every time we tried to do the scene we couldn't keep a straight face. So they had to just cut the scene completely." Devin: "Cass and Autumn really do not need to be in the same room together. They're always plotting and scheming. So, when Devin takes Laurie on the trip and he is trying to coax her into swimming out to the boat, the scene sort of ends. Well it's assumed he eventually talks her into just jumping and letting go of some of her fears... but we weren't supposed to jump." Cassandra: [thumbs to Devin] "But genius here..." Devin: [laughs] "I'm getting to that. So, I though we were supposed to actually jump... so I did, and everyone just freaks the hells out. It was quite the drop, but thought I was supposed to go first... turns out I was wrong and we had the whole EMS situation happening. I was fine. No injuries, but sure scared the hell out of everyone. Also, I ad-lib, a lot." Cassandra: "By a lot, he means makes the scrip us as he goes." Devin: "I works! I think we ran the total... almost 89% of all my made up lines have made it in so far. Because I forget my lines. Also a lot." Cassandra: "Because you miss rehearsals!" [playfully shoves his arm] Devin: "I wouldn't say I miss them." [laughs] Julia: "Okay now, here's a question I know a lot of people are interested in, including myself. Devin and Cassandra, you say you're very different from your television personas. What kind of real experiences do you draw from the most to create these characters? Where do you find them inside yourselves and how do you bring them to life?" Cassandra: "For me, it's mostly just sort of...fantasy I guess? Even when I was little, I always used to, you know, play make believe and stuff about being an explorer or adventurer or whatnot. Like I was super into Raiders of the Lost Ark. Partly because my dad was, but after awhile I liked it because of this...idea it had. One person, basically on their own, trying to solve a mystery on one hand and stay alive on the other. So now, even though I have a clearer idea of how dangerous that kind of thing would be, there's still that place way down deep that remembers what I felt. That's what I draw from. On the show I can be sort of...girl Indiana Jones. I love it." Devin: "My sister and me grew up Disney, so acting is something we're used to, however, this experience has been completely different, since it is the fist non-Disney production we've done. I pull that from my people out here with me. In that scene, after the giggles and bad takes, you get the one perfect scene, I can feel that moment. Jason doesn't let you act, he comes at you in a scene and you have to be prepared. Cass is always smiling and you get a serious feel for how up beat and plucky she's trying to be while hiding pain... I can empathize and sympathize with everything my fellow stars are throwing at me. I will say that Autumn is a little more difficult because of that control she has on her accent. One second it's all WS Autumn and then the scene cuts and she yammers away in the thickest Aussie accent I've ever heard... she destroys us." Julia: [laughs] "I have to get her in one of these chairs! She seems great. So this whole thing seems to be an epic project, there's no telling where your roles will take you, but we've all seen it before in cinema, someone has to go evil at some point. Chip in the head, possessed by a demon, From Willow to Supergirl, everyone gets their time to play the villain. Who do you think it will be, and if not you, why?" Cassandra: "For Cassie, the only thing I think that might get her to turn on her friends might be her dad. We find out partway through the season that..." [air quotes] "...rumors of his death and so on, might not be all they're cracked up to be. So that's a big point of leverage over her, potentially. I think an experience like that would be literally the worst thing in the world for her though. I'm actually a little afraid just thinking about trying to act that." Devin: "See, I love that though about this show, the Fellowship are not all besties, and they all have a slew of their own problems. The alliance is flimsy, at best, and something like Cass's father could easily pull her and possibly another member two in opposite directions with the others. They're the good, guys, sure, but like Marissa would say: 'never confuse good, for nice'. I see any number of things tearing Devin off onto his own thing, but evil? Aside from mind control, I just don't see Devin as having the heart for evil. Even as a bully he just picked on people and he's carrying the guilt a long way. As for who would turn? My money is on Marissa, that girl is shiesty." Cassandra: "I'm actually kind of jealous of Marissa...the actress, I mean. This script is really sticking it to her character, but she's giving her performance so much heart that even when she's at her worst, I still love her. It's just incredible." Devin: "Season 2... the Cassandra/Marissa team up episode... sugar and spice. I'd totally write it in." Julia: [laughs] "You say you don't share much with your onscreen character, but I can definitely see some resemblance. Now Devin, you mentioned your background at Disney and I can't help but wonder...how does this experience, making a show that covers some very dark and gritty ground, compare with what you were doing for the Mouse?" Devin: "Ah, it's been a completely different experience. Marissa and me grew up doing a bit more wholesome programming, but when this opportunity hit, I mean, we're nineteen now, we can't be at Disney forever. We honestly took a risk on this show, we carried a few fans with us and others didn't want to make the journey, but if Marissa and Autumn's social media accounts are any indication, the fan base is blowing up for this show, and for that I'm glad. This is why I got into this line of work, to entertain. I'm glad that we're doing that for so many." Julia: [nodding] "The popularity of the show took a lot of people off-guard. Now I have to ask...even in just the first season we've seen that the writers aren't afraid to use a character's death to drive home the 'horror' aspect of the narrative. Do any of you know which episode on the show will be your last?" Cassandra: "Oof, I know I don't. But you know, even the cast doesn't always see the biggest twists coming way in advance. Annnnnnnnd even if they did..." [smiles] "Spoilers..." Julia: "All right all right, spoilers aside...Are there any plot twists from the current season that came out of left field and you didn't expect?" Devin: "I thought Marissa and Charlie were going to be a hook up. Nerdy drama kid with the mean girl... I was voting for that one, but it just didn't float, I guess." Cassandra: [nods] "That, and I'm still kind of shocked over what happened to Charlie and Sophia. It's kind of like...we knew the stakes were high, and the bad guys meant business...but he's one of us. The knights in shining armor aren't supposed to have that kind of thing happen to them." Julia: "I felt that way myself, and from the comments and social media reactions, so did a lot of people. As long as we're on the subject though, out of all of these scenes, what was the most difficult for you to film this season?" Devin: [laughs] "Uh, me and Avalon. That was my first intimate scene that wasn't just a kiss... so, yeah. In between takes I was all 'that okay', 'everything okay', 'do I need to change it up'? She was awesome though, we kept making jokes and keeping it light, so it made the experience easier. Still though, I mean, she's a co-worker, and even as an actor, it always feels weird kissing or faking-out with a co-worker. It's still a stranger, you know?" Cassandra [nods] "I'm still really nervous about that too. Anyway, for me? It may sound kind of trivial, but the scenes where Cass fights with her mom are really hard for me, because that is so not my relationship with my parents. I can barely imagine talking to them like that, or just...being that angry at them. It legit made me feel really uncomfortable. I mean, there's been scary scenes...and sometimes acting with the CGI is hard...but the most difficult was just lipping off with mom." [smiles] Fortunately, Teresa is super cool between takes." Julia: [smiles understandingly] "Going the other way then...what was your favorite scene to do so far?" Devin: "The Devin/Jason spar. Jason is a solid method actor, but we were having the time of our lives being hooked to the wires all day. Also, any scene where all of us are in it, like Bunees or school. Get us all together and the you can see the chemistry. We really all rock together." Cassandra: [thoughtfully] "Yeah...for me, it's down to that whole sequence at Jase's place, or the camping trip, or the town hall. And as much as I love the whole cast together, I'm going to have to go with the town hall. When we got to the room that had the big, you know, the..." [gestures upward threatningly] "...the picture? And we found all the stuff the previous victims left behind... Me and Autumn were just so inside that moment. It really kind of summed up what the character of Cassandra is to me, and kind of what this show is to me too." Julia: "Thanks, both of you, for joining me here and giving everyone a tantalizing glimpse of the people behind this phenomenon called Weirder Stuff. Do either of you have anything else you want to tell your fans before we're done?" Cassandra: [puts hands over heart] "Just that I've been completely blown away by how...just how positive the fandoms and communities growing up around the show have been, towards us, towards the writers and directors and the characters. They've all been really patient with me, social media noob, and encouraging...and that's made a huge difference for me. Thanks to everyone for making me feel welcome like that." Devin: [Gestures to Cassandra] "I mean, that. We're certainly having a lot of fun doing this but it's all the fans that make it worth while, so yeah, we love you guys and keep doing what you do so we can keep delivering what we do." Julia: "Speaking as a fan myself, we love you too and definitely keep it up. Thanks for taking this time to talk." Cassandra: "Thanks, Julia!" Devin: [waves and smiles to everyone out in DVD Extras land]
  26. The two teens walked side by side with hands thrust into their pockets: he in trail-tested khakis, she in the cuffed cut-off shorts that were once her favorite jeans. They had done this a half-dozen times over the years, just the two of them, and it felt easy, somehow. Normal. Almost as if the last couple of weeks hadn’t happened, and they’d never argued, and she’d never lashed out and he hadn’t pulled away. Only ‘almost,’ though. There was a measure of synchronization in their steps despite the disparity in height, an unconscious kinesthetic familiarity developed over the course of a lifetime and woven inextricably into the malleable fibres of muscle and sinew and bone- something she could actually feel now if she concentrated, the countless miniscule adjustments being made as they moved through the growing crowds near the picnic area. Once upon a time, that had seemed a special kind of magic, the unconscious physiological manifestation of some deeper bond between them. Maybe it had been, back then. If so, what was it now? Habit? Muscle memory? “Guessing you went up to the Rez this weekend.” Part question and part statement, as icebreakers went it was more hammer than pick, blunt force rather than precision or finesse, but it served the purpose. Autumn blinked up at her childhood friend as she nodded, one hand rising to shield her eyes against the sun; gone were the halcyon days when she could look down at him, before he’d stretched like a rubber band pulled taut and then filled out again. Did all guys do that? She was pretty sure Cade Allister had never physically been a child, or at least she couldn’t remember him as one, Sean Cassidy had some… developmental issues, and Jason Bannon... well. He’d physically been a child, sure, but mentally? Yeah, I kind of doubt it, she reflected soberly, blinking away the memory. For most guys, Jay included, there didn’t seem to be much in-between- one day they were ten, and short, and skinny, and then practically overnight they were six feet tall… and also skinny. Until they weren’t anymore. “Mmm. Your dad?” Her tone wasn’t quite accusatory; despite everything that had happened they were practically family, after all. It made sense that if the warden had told Autumn about Jacob when he’d visited on Wednesday, he might also have talked to Jacob about her. The broad-shouldered young man shook his head and she frowned, a question in the clear, bright eyes that regarded him: If not Nathan, then…? “Mary,” he returned, avoiding her gaze. Ahh, right. Autumn nodded again, this time in recognition rather than confirmation. Joe’s granddaughter. The pretty one that Devin had shamelessly flirted with- not that she’d ever seen any evidence the elder Jauntsen twin could actually be ashamed of anything. “Didn’t realize you were close,” she murmured tonelessly, turning her attention from his expression to the carousel, the awnings, the distant trees. Why did it bother her? Was it just that she missed hanging out with him? Was it the feeling that she’d been replaced? Or maybe that now there was so much to say, it was almost impossible to say it? Frowning, the red-haired girl continued to poke at the thought as they moved. He shrugged in mute reply, dark eyes passively skimming over the faces of the other teens also milling around as they meandered through the few stalls that had been set up, heading aimlessly in the direction of the temporary stage where local musicians had already begun to play. It occurred to her that there were probably a lot of things she didn’t realize, or just didn’t know about him anymore. Recent events had proven that things could change drastically in just a few days, and they’d been apart for… too long, possibly. “She seems-” The restless young woman’s hand twitched upward in a wave at Marissa as they passed the twins and their parents, the greeting itself yet another indication that her life had veered dramatically from its previous course, like a river shaken from its bed by tectonic shifts far below the surface of the earth. “Nice, I guess,” she allowed, finally. Jacob was quiet for a few more steps, and his head dipped briefly in a nod, breeze ruffling his dark hair. “She is, yeah.” Autumn had no ready reply for that, although privately the redhead wondered what the older Blackfoot girl was to him, or he to her. Not that it was any of her business, of course, even if she was curious. It would be weird if he hadn’t dated anyone by now, or hooked up, or… whatever. For fuck’s sake, does it even matter? Seriously. Then, cautiously, he ventured another question of his own. “What’d they say?” It was her turn to shrug, to deny him the satisfaction of a straightforward answer, but even as she did so Autumn recognized how petty a gesture it was. Nathan had taken Jacob up to the reservation already, and so he knew at least something about what was going on, and this was way more important than their personal issues. Hurt feelings and resentment paled in comparison to the scope of what they were up against. Exhaling, she drifted a little closer, lowering her voice and glancing up at her unusually laconic companion to make sure she had his attention. “I got the history lesson,” she began slowly, tugging at an errant strand of bright copper that lay coiled over her shoulder and wishing she’d kept her hoodie on, despite the warmth of the day; at least she’d have had something to fidget with while she talked. “So-” Autumn hesitated, the toe of one sneaker scuffing gracelessly at the dry grass being trampled underfoot. She knew that Jay was a lot of things, and ‘stupid’ wasn’t one of them. It’s just that pragmatism was practically embedded in both families’ DNA. He’d been up to the Rez and heard the stories from the Elders way before she had, but that didn’t necessarily mean he took any of it seriously, did it? After all, she’d seen the effects of the Dark firsthand, and a part of her still wanted to rationalize it all away. “Do you believe any of it? The stories about the, ah…” Her gaze was fixed on his features as she leaned closer, one hand gesturing in a loose circle as if to encompass a range of ideas. “You know. The Enemy, or the Dawning Light, or the whole bit about gods walking the earth, and the cycle thing.” Jacob’s eyes narrowed slightly as he peered into hers, studying the reflection of cloudless skies in their depths for a long moment before swearing under his breath and turning away. He dragged a hand back through his hair and, with an exasperated sigh, nodded. Despite the awkwardness, the tension that lingered like a chasm between them, there was something like relief in his voice, his shoulders gradually relaxing when he spoke again. “Yeah. Not all of it, maybe, but my dad showed me the journals our family’s been keeping. Generations of us might have been crazy, sure, but that’s a very specific flavor of crazy to be. And since you know now, I guess that’ll make it easier for us all to keep an eye on things. That’s all we really have to-” “But it isn’t,” Autumn interrupted quietly, freckled fingers twining together in a knot of wordless anxiety. “Not for me, anyway.” He frowned, stopped there in the middle of the throng, and stared uncomprehending down at her face, at the earnest and uncertain expression gazing back up at him. “Your dad knows. I thought he might’ve told you, but…” She shrugged again, an almost imperceptible movement that seemed more apology than dismissal. “Look, Jay, I know things aren’t-” Swallowing past the sudden tightness in her throat, the vibrant redhead exhaled slowly, counting as she did so. Today might be her last chance to say anything, and this hurt, this twisting, tangled snarl of regret and anger and loneliness, would not stop her from saying it. “They’re not great, and they haven’t been, and I’m sorry. I really, really am,” she whispered tautly, blinking rapidly as his features rippled as though underwater. “I just wanted you to know, in case something hap-” The remainder of the sentence was cut off as the tall young man who’d been her friend once pulled her off the path and into a hug. "It's fine, A-Rae. Okay? It's fine," he murmured, watching their families laughing and drinking in the shade back the way they'd come.
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