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  1. 2 points
    Into The Eye Of The Monster Article from ‘Empire’ magazine. an interview with Jason Bannon, By Roger Jurgen: ‘Weirder Stuff’, in the beginning attacked by its critics for being “yet another teen supernatural drama”, has beaten the odds and risen above the competition - and how! The direction, writing and most of all the young actors who comprise the show’s central cast have, in the first season, shown the critics that they were wrong to dismiss the strong pool of talent that the show’s producers assembled. It boldly tackles issues from sexual assault to teen drug use to the simple difficulties of coming of age, set against a backdrop of a world that is just like ours - only a lot weirder. I recently got to sit down and interview the show’s resident bad boy, at least on-screen. Genius, high-functioning psychopath - the character of Jase Bannon is the wild card of the Fellowship. Potential anti-hero or fledgling monster, one thing the fans can’t do is not discuss him. The actor who plays him is similarly a subject of much discussion. Described in the past as ‘enormously talented’ and ‘a prodigy’, he has made his mark playing roles that test both actor and viewer psychologically, making us ask moral and ethical questions about ourselves and the world around us and, on several occasions, giving us a good scare. It is a blustery Montana day when I am driven up to the near-iconic ‘Bannon House, an actual farmhouse standing at the summit of a gentle hill that overlooks the surrounding area. Picked for it’s isolated appearance, it radiates - not loneliness, but apartness - an air of self-containment that asks nothing and takes courage to approach, much as does the fictional character that lives within. Much as does the actor himself. Jason Bannon, in person, is perhaps not as daunting as his fictional namesake, and for obvious reasons, but as a method actor (he lives in the Bannon house even when not filming, and rumor has it he is thinking of buying the place) I am struck by the pale gaze that measures me unwaveringly, giving me his full attention without any sign of either friendliness or hostility. His handshake is as one might expect from the character too - brief, polite but unlingering: a clasp, two shakes and then done, as if lifted directly from a book on ‘How to Greet People’. I find myself moving very deliberately and choosing my words with care, my awareness of the character coloring my interpretation of the actor’s expressions and words. I have to remind myself that ‘Jase Bannon’, the telekinetic who can crush a car with his mind, is not real. We sip coffee in the lounge of the farmhouse, the shelves piled with books which, my host assures me, he does read in his spare time though not, he admits, with the speed or voraciousness of his character. As he admits this he smiles, a touch of warmth enters his expression and I get the sense that, at least in part, his mask is being set aside for me, as a professional courtesy. I find I am now able to relax, that the monster is not actually in the room. By common consent, we use the name ‘Jase’ when speaking about the character, to avoid confusion. Roger: Now, you’re the cast member that’s most private, but what fans do know about you is that you don’t break character so long as you are in a given role. And yet you’re giving an interview? Jason: Yes. Roger: How does that work, exactly? Jason: Well, obviously I am not a super-powered alien genius. Nor am I an actual psychopath. What I do is maintain the- framework, let us call it. Jase’s speech patterns, his way of perceiving the world, how he thinks and reacts. It is an entire persona, carefully constructed over readings, rehearsals, and many many discussions about the character with the writers, the director, and even my co-stars. I don’t retreat into my memory palace between takes, or go and tend my flower garden - because those are things Jase can do that I cannot. Likewise, I’m not hard-wired to be fearless and find violence easy - but Jase is. When wearing his persona, I can immerse myself in that without feeling the need to act on it. I try to interact with the world through that filter. Roger: You’ve a history of playing roles which some would describe as simultaneously troubled and troubling, both on stage and film. Was that what drew you to accept this role? Jason: Definitely a large part of it. I find the character to be simultaneously complex and yet simple. He’s not insane, or a compulsive personality, or irrational. Every action he takes has at least three, and usually more reasons for him to do it. He rarely if ever acts without thinking, but his pattern of thought is… well, alien. That forms the basis for a large part of his personal conflicts with others. Roger: Such as Devin. Some describe the ‘frenemy’ relationship between your character and that of Devin to be similar to that of Professor Xavier and Magneto. Friends who nevertheless cannot agree on certain central positions, who will clash over those. What do you think? Jason: Devin has a strong moral base underlying his exterior. He’s the Hero, in the classic sense. Flawed, certainly, but he knows he can and should be better. Jase is the anti-hero - he’s on the good guys side, but he isn’t moral and doesn’t have a conscience as we understand it. Devin, in stepping up to lead, has had to point out to Jase that he needs to think through the consequences of his actions on the emotional wellbeing of the others, not just their physical safety. Their contrast is an interesting one to play out. In the future, they might become like Professor X and Magneto - or they could be like Kirk and Spock. They’re teens, at a crossroads, and it could go either way. Roger: Do you get along off-screen? Jason: Yeah, we do. He’s a lot of fun - serious about working on the show, unafraid to goof around a bit between takes. Him and Cassie are always trying to get me to crack. Especially Cassie. I think she takes it as a personal challenge. Roger: Do you ever goof around? Play pranks back? Jason: (smiling) I don’t not goof around. I feel I have to maintain character to a degree, though. I believe that acting always betrays truth - Jase is supposed to be somewhat aloof, unreachable in an everyday sense. He has a sense of humor, but it is wry and understated and not-quite human. And the others are never sure where the line is with him - they can be pretty sure he won’t hurt them, but they don’t know what does and doesn’t offend him or get under his skin. I try to keep the chemistry similar to how the Fellowship are with me on-screen. Roger: Chemistry, yes. Jase has been described as somewhat of a dark horse romantic character. You have never played a role with a romantic side before - was that a challenge? Jason: It was at first, for sure. (chuckling) I initially questioned the veracity of someone so cold and detached even being able to express passion. The writers took me through their process, describing the subtle but defined differences between a regular psychopath and what Jase is. It took me a long time to balance his inner landscape, to get the persona correct. I think the results speak for themselves, though. Roger: They do, yes. Apparently you’re trending on all manner of social media platforms and the character has made several top ten lists in young adult media. Jason: I didn’t know. Jase doesn’t usually haunt social media, so nor do I. Roger: You sound surprised. Jason: I am! Devin is the Kirk character. (He laughs.) Hmm. But it actually makes a certain amount of sense. The character provokes emotions - there are well-documented links between the thrill of fear, a sense of danger, and fascination. Who hasn’t wondered what it would be like to pet the tiger when it isn’t acting in a threatening manner? Even when it seems at peace it’s still a tiger. Still deadly. It just has no reason to harm you right now. Roger: So is that how you see Jase? A tiger? Jason: (nodding) Sort of, yes. A big cat in a human suit, an apex predator by wiring, smarter than pretty much everyone around him and with a boundless capacity for violence. Morals or social pressures have limited sway on him, especially if they come from outside his chosen circle. Hmm, perhaps a lion would be a better description. More in-group oriented. He ‘cares’ - in his way - about those he chooses as friends. Roger: ‘Boundless capacity for violence’? Jason: Capacity, not necessarily inclination. The human psyche has a limit to how much stress, violence and fear it can endure. It’s not a matter of ‘if’ the limit gets reached, it’s a matter of ‘when’. Psychopaths - and by extension Teulu: as a fictional near-human race designed for war - do not have that limit. This is why you will find psychopaths doing well in high-stress, high-danger fields. Special operations soldiers, firefighters, police officers, surgeons, and of course career criminals… The stress and trauma of their job doesn’t touch them and they are able to perform as they need to. I chose to do a lot of reading on the phenomena when I undertook this role: it’s a fascinating field of study. Anyway, back to your original question - I think it is that sense of contained danger that gives Jase his allure. I can’t take all the credit for that. The writing team do an absolutely brilliant job for all the characters - it’s like putting on a suit that is perfectly tailored. And of course, the cast all have excellent chemistry with each other. We fall very naturally into the roles of misfit friends. Roger: And, of course, chemistry is Jase’s special area of knowledge. Now there’s been some romantic subplots between your character and a couple of the ladies on the show. Where do you see that heading? Jason: No spoilers, but I can say keep watching. There’s bound to be twists and turns, and nothing is certain - even the cast and writers aren’t sure where things are going sometimes. When you’re working with talented writers and actors there’s a lot of improvisation and inspiration, especially when they’re heavily engaged and interested. So many times you’ll get Devin improvising some banter - he’s really good at that - and the director will just be like ‘Hey, that’s good, I’ll allow it’. And the personal chemistry between the cast will influence things too - sometimes the writers like to work with that to give the work more ‘punch’. Roger: So your chemistry with Marissa and Autumn in the show - is that similar to off-screen? Jason: No comment. (he laughs) Seriously, they are both great actresses: enormously talented and each brings a great deal of vibrant life to their part. In person they’re lovely people - not at all diva-like and very down to earth. Marissa is a sweetheart, and Autumn is passionate - very much present in every moment, whether on or off-screen. She’s perfect for her role, really. I do have to give kudos to Marissa though: she is very unlike her character in some key ways, and watching her go all ‘Evil Queen’ when the cameras are rolling is inspiring. Roger: And your other co-stars? How do you get along with them? Jason: We get along well. Or at least, I like to think so. They’re all very good to work with - good work ethic, minimal drama and screaming even on bad days. And as people, they’re pretty chill and fun. Like our characters, we are very different people thrown together to be part of something greater, so the dynamic works very well. Roger: What’s next for Jase, do you think? Jason: Jase is like every member of the Fellowship - potentiality. The only way to find out what comes next is to travel along the road. Roger: And for yourself? Jason: (He smiles) Same answer.
  2. 2 points
    Hello everyone, Julia Hernandez here with an E! Exclusive. Try and imagine it. Shelby Montana, which you might know as 'Shelly' Montana from the hit Nutflix show Weirder Stuff. [images of Montana's scenery and natural beauty] Rolling hills, mountain peaks, and some of the cleanest air you would ever breathe. In the immortal words of one Agent Coulson, 'it's a magical place' with friendly people and few, if any of the common luxuries you or me might be used to in our everyday life. The local grocery store is only ten aisles and has five lanes and no self checkout (can you imagine?). Great Falls is, in fact, an hour and twenty seven minutes away and is the closest the people of Shelby are to an outlet mall. So, unless you're speeding down the interstate at ninety miles per hour like Devin Jauntsen, or cranking up the old Charger and revving it up to top speeds like Jason Bannon, chances are you are an hour and a half from anything you or I would consider 'civilization'. So, how do they do it? How do the cast and crew of Weirder Stuff cope with the long months of filming in cramped hotel rooms and are they ready to kill each other yet? Great news, because I managed to secure an exclusive interview with one of the stars of the show, Marissa Jauntsen! [Waves with both hands and a big smile] Marissa: “Hey there, Superfans!” [laughs] Julia: “Thank you so much for inviting us along on this trip, wow. First, let me say that you guys are insane on this show! How did you get involved in all of this? Marissa: [laughs] “Right!? Oh, wow... um, well it was my brother who actually approached me with the script and asked me to read it. I fell in love with the insanity but I honestly didn't know about being able to play a mean girl. Also, the rich mean girl and the extreme sports, edgy sarcasm guy, were not siblings, originally. The further into weeds I got into the project the more I realized how 'adult' the themes were. Sex, violence, betrayal, conspiracies, bigotry, teen angst... I mean the writers were really pushing the envelope and I was totally in love with it at that point.” Julia: [nods] “So, you weren't scripted as siblings, you and your brother? How did that end up happening?” Marissa: “Well, Devin and I are real life twins, so when we auditioned and read our lines we did it together but as non-siblings. Essentially we shared a scene where Devin and Marissa were supposed to argue. [rolls her eyes and laughs] So, about half way through, Joss (Whedon) stopped us. We'd worked with him on the Marvel MCU stuff and The Mandalorian. We asked to be extras since our studios were next door for some of the shooting and Joss was totally cool with it since my brother is a total Star Wars nerd. [laughs] So, he stops us and asks us to read the same lines... but argue with each other on everything the other is saying. So, we did, and as siblings if there's one thing we could do it's argue. Later we got the call that we would be cast as siblings, which we're used to.” Julia: “Does that ever bother you? You and your brother always getting cast as siblings?” Marissa: “Oh, god no. It works great and like Eric (Kripke) said: 'when I want to do an evil twin scenario where one pushes the other down an elevator shaft, we have authentic twins. Nobody's got that!' It's outside the box thinking like that that really makes Weirder Stuff unique.” [giggles] Julia: “What are the other cast members like to work with?” Marissa: [sighs and rolls eyes] “Woah, wow, we are a hot mess. It's always funny because what people get is the finished product, they don't see how many takes it took to get it right or the laughing or mangled lines or the tripping on set...[laughs]. I love these guys. On screen we never agree and are quite possibly always fighting about one thing or another. Off camera it really is all laughs and hugs.” Julia: [smiles] “Now, there are hints that Marissa is a closet super nerd. How big of a nerd are you?” Marissa: “So, here come the mean Tweets. [laughs] Um, zero. I am not a nerd. My brother is a massive Star Wars fan, and MCU fan. He's absorbed by anything involving special effects. Me on the other hand, I had never heard of Dungeons & Dragons until this project, which is an interesting story in and of itself.” Julia: [looks inquisitively] “Oh? Do tell.” [laughs] Marissa: [nods and chuckles to herself] “Okay. So, Sean, the super geek on the show, was in the same boat as me: neither of us were nerds. So, in order to get our parts right and be more legit, we hit up Amazon and ordered the core D&D books, right? We thought 'how hard could this game be', right? So, we double up in our hotel rooms while shooting, and it's me and Autumn and Courtney and Sean which is great because those two hate each other on the show and yet are roommates off camera.” “So, Court and Sean come by one evening so we can learn this game. Court and Autumn are doing their own things and Sean and I are lost within ten minutes. Courtney is going over a skin care routine with Autumn and let me tell you, she is our salvation when it comes to skin care. The woman is a genius. So, we're not 'getting it' which draws in their curiosity... and before you know it the four of us are figuring out Dungeons and Dragons in our hotel room and within the hour we've decided to make characters and play the starter adventure in the back of the book. Mind you, none of us know a thing about this game but we're all like: 'hey, we're actors, how hard can it be to pretend?' So my brother stops by, sees what's going on and runs off to tell the guys. And we're all trying to figure this game out together, because a few of the guys had heard of it, but never played.” “So that happens. Now, the next day, Eric and the writers find out about this mess and that's how Sean's table-top games got included in the show. It was originally scripted as a 'thing that was happening' where all the fans knew Sean was this gamer and he held a gaming session, none of the other Fellowship were supposed to be really in on it because it didn't make sense for a few of them to be gamers. Sean has even managed to do a few re-writes too where the gaming information wasn't accurate in the script, so she changed it to be more accurate for the fan base. See? We love you guys!” Julia: [looks expectantly] “So? Who was your character in this D&D game?” Marissa: [laughs, hiding her face in embarrassment] “Argh, I knew you were going to ask. Not was, [laughs] is. We are still playing that game. I have an elven Sorceress who is pretty much just like Marissa on WS. She is mean and manipulative and fairly evil. She has the hots for Jason's chemically dependent alchemist.” Julia: “Speaking of, is there any chemistry between you and Jason?” Marissa: “The fans put you up to this, didn't they? [laughs] Uh, wow, yeah, um, Jason is amazing. He's a method actor so he is always in character while on set. Usually with everyone else we discuss the scene and hash out the emotional state and tempo of everything and give it a go. Jason, always being in character means we're just ready to go. I can freak out and vent at him and he'll just look at me blankly like I need to get my act together and hide my crazy. Then we can do the scene with all the same things and he'll look at me blankly like I need to get my act together and hide my crazy. So it works out.” [laughs] Julia: “So, is the character of Marissa based on anyone real in your life, or that you've met? Where is the angst and vitriol inspired from?” Marissa: “Oh, so... yeah my mother is very much the inspiration for Marissa when she is in her 'go getter' mode and is out to get something and not letting anything stand in her way. Our family has always been very supportive of what Devin and I do, so I learned a lot about focus, drive and being awesome from her. A lot of the angst comes from being Devin's actual sister in real life. Those scenes where you see us together on the rooftop are pretty legit. We actually talk like that to each other and I don't know how many times we've both found a quiet place to sit and vent to one another throughout our lives. So a lot of those anger driven scenes are me thinking back to the times when my brother has peeved me to the point of losing my mind.” Julia: “Do you and Marissa have anything in common? Interest-wise, or behavior-wise or outlook-wise?” Marissa: “Yes, most certainly. I think there is a little part of us in all the roles we play, so Marissa's drive for success and secure future are certainly some things I can relate to. We are both shameless shoppers, I'm all about fashion and I can't believe how many outfits they've selected for Marissa that I've just fallen in love with.” Julia: “Are you concerned about setting a bad example for impressionable young women?” Marissa: “This show is so out there and the characters are so over the fence on crazy that I don't feel one, young women,or anyone for that matter, should be taking it seriously, at all, and two, I think people understand that we are tropes on that screen. Let's be real, the Jauntsen twins on WS are borderline sociopathic. [looks at camera] So, if anyone out there is using Marissa as an example on how to live their best life, please don't do the crazy stuff. It will end badly for you. Now, I do hope that young women take from Marissa that she is strong, confident and completely at peace in her skin. Sure, she has her own hang ups in the show, especially when it comes to her mother, but those are what make her human.” Julia: [smiling and laughing as she holds up a few index cards] “Okay, so, we've collected a series of questions from your fans and we'd like to take a shot at getting them some answers, what do you say?” Marissa: [hiding her face and laughing] “Oh my god. Okay... wow, let's uh, sure. Let's do this. Like my brother would say: come at me bro'.” Julia: [chuckles] “Okay, but you asked for it... [laughs]. So, @KrewlGurl56 asks: “you are the show’s queen of mean, but have there ever been scripted put-downs you just couldn’t deliver? Wow, that's actually a good one, I'm curious myself.” Marissa: [groans with a smirk] “Ugh, god yes! So, at the beginning of the season Marissa was in really deep with the other females in Shelly, there was a lot of hate going around and at one point Clara and Marissa shared a few choice words at the meet up where Lilly had to walk out or risk pulverizing our resident Queen Bee. Well, in that scene, I was scripted to call Clara a... well, a 'C' word and I just couldn't do it. I tried and we were all laughing at my attempts, especially Autumn who is Australian in case you didn't know, so it's a common word for her over there... and on set. So we managed to make something else fit and now Autumn does her best to prank me with that word as much as possible. It works, too.” Julia: “Yeah, definitely a different meaning here. I remember my first time to Europe, it totally caught me off guard too. [laughs] So, now we have @Numba1MariFan saying... You are awesome and my idol! Who do you look up to as an actor?” Marissa: “Aww! Thank you, so much. It still is so strange when people say they look up to me because I don't see myself as anything more than me, you know? So, Numba1MariFan, you just keep being you and be good to yourself and others, and we'll be awesome together. As for who I look up to as an actor? Oh, wow... There are just so many because as an actor I pick a little from so many performances that I end up admiring so many people. Um, if I had to totally pick one though, I'd have to say Gwyneth Paltrow? I, uh, met her briefly at the Iron Man 3 premier when I was twelve and oh-my-god, she completely blew me away. She was just so amazing and friendly and larger than life that I walked away feeling like I had just been in the shadow of a goddess. Also she once said: 'Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass red lipstick.' Boom. Girl totally nailed it. Mic drop. I'm a fan-girl for life.” Julie: “She is amazing, and so friendly, too. Switching it up @PrinceCharmless87 wants to play a game... so, Kiss, Marry, Kill with the WS cast, go.” Marissa: [laughs and appears embarrassed] “Oh my god! You guys are horrible! I love it. [laughs] Okay... so... let's see... Marry? I'd have to say Sheriff Alister. Ugh, that man is 'wow'. [points to camera, laughing] You can edit that out, right?” [Julia: “Oh, yeah. Yeah, totally, we'll edit it out.” [laughs]] “Kiss? Um... well, Marissa is kind of a sloot, so I have a feeling I'll be kissing a lot of people in the episodes to come, but... Autumn? [sheepishly looking to the camera] I totally think she'd be a great kisser. Kill. Ouch. Um, let's see... uh, Charlie? Too soon? [hides her face, laughing] Sorry! I don't know... that's so hard to answer!” Julia: [laughing] “Wow, ouch. Yeah, poor Charlie. Are we going to be seeing more of him?” Marissa: “Have to watch and see! No spoilers!” Julia: “Boo. [giggles] Okay, now @FashionedInIdaho says: Like, OMG, your style and clothes on Weirder Stuff are AMAAAZIIING! Classy, Sassy, and a teensy bit trashy. Do you - and the rest of the Cast - get any input in what you get to wear? And do you get to keep it after the season is over? That's a really good question, with all the trinkets and props do you have mementos?” Marissa: “Oh, that is a good one and the answer is: yes.. and no. So, we do get a lot of input into our outfits. Marissa was originally going to be a lot of black and mean which seemed too monochrome to me and certainly too 'Disney Villain'. So we set up more colors for her to wear but express her brand of villainy through always having something that is either black, or leather or a bit trashy, like her heeled boots. Because villains are always in black and wear leather, and the attractive females are usually fond of heels unless they're the bruiser type villains like Gina Carano's Angel Dust in Deadpool. So her leather jackets, or the tight pleather leggings she wears while mingling it with different, brighter colors, gives her the dichotomy of a villainess in transition. The maroon lip-stick too, thank you Gwyneth Paltrow! [laughs] Sadly, we do not get to keep the wardrobe. However, the bracelets that were recently discovered in the story... you can't see it, but each of us received one of those that is ours to keep, a gift from the producers, and on the inside there is an engraving, just for us that says something to remind of Season One.” Julia: “What does yours say?” Marissa: “Mine just has the 'C' word in quotation marks. [sucks her teeth] Yeah. Can't beat friends like these, let me tell you.” [nods, smiling] Julia: “I can imagine. Here's a good one, @RainbowProudBoy asks: Are you and Devin actually siblings/twins? You two have that perfect chemistry, I can only assume that you two must be related. Also, can you get me Devin's number? He's so hot.” Marissa: [buckles over with laughter] “Oh! Oh, I am so tempted to do it! [claps her hands laughing] Oh, wow. He'd kill me. Yes, though. We are actually siblings, twins even. He's older by a minute. A freaking minute! Everything you see Devin and me doing together on screen is taken a lot from our personal lives, like he rooftop talks the arguing, even us swearing at each other and the insults. All real insults we've used on one another. I generally don't swear except around him, because, brothers, right? No one pushes our buttons quite like family.” Julia: [raises a hand in solidarity] “I have a sister, I totally sympathize with you there. [laughs] @ABC123 asks: we haven't seen Sophia's body yet. By cinema rules, that means she - probably - isn't dead yet. Are we going to see her again this season?” Marissa: “Hey now, no spoilers! You'll just have to watch the season and see how it all wraps up.” Julia: “Aww, no fair. @LostInTheLight says: I'm an avid fan of this show and all the weirdness it's entailed so far. Are there any scenes that have been difficult for you to shoot?” Marissa: [laughs, nodding] “Oh yeah. The Cade/Marissa love making scene stands out. So, I'm five-eight and he is six-four. Have you noticed the set for his room includes a twin-sized bed? So, it was hilariously awkward getting that scene to work. After awhile Cade said: 'yeah, he would have just sprung for a hotel by now'. It's also a great example of how we've had to adapt to the scenes and situations. It was supposed to be more romantic with cuddling and clenching the sheets in orgasmic throes, but in a twin bed? Seriously? So, that's when he and I pitched that Marissa is not really the cuddle type. She'd be more assertive and it'd be easier if she was on the top and they didn't focus too much on the romance their fist time together.” Julia: “Is that why she left her boots on?” [smirks] Marissa: [laughs] “No. Fun fact: the zipper on the left boot got stuck and we couldn't get it unstuck, so... I wore those heels in that bed for almost nine hours until we got that scene right. Fun times.” Julia: “Ugh, I can't imagine. I feel for you. [laughs sympathetically] Are there any scenes that you or others just 'went with' after something or someone just went off script?” Marissa: “Oh, yeah, it's called 'everything so far'. [laughs] Um, so... we get a lot of leeway with the script and when we're doing scenes they let us use it as more of a guideline than something etched in stone. My brother is famous for ad libbing, usually with his quips and insults. All the monster names, like vagisaurus? All him. For example, when Devin and Cass see the monster in the forest that first time and he finally makes his first comment on it poor Cass couldn't stop laughing. As for me? The one scene that sticks out was when Jason and Marissa had, what has been dubbed, the 'DDR Incident'. Jason wasn't supposed to kiss me in that scene so the reaction you see from me is genuine, including that momentary pullback as my brain was like: what's he doing'? I think it made the scene more visceral and real. That anger you see in Marissa is anger I was able to channel from the notion of how angry I would be if some guy just kissed me like that. [looks to the camera] For the record, I'm not and never was actually mad at Jason. We're professionals and that move made sense for the characters, it made the scene really pop, and it's a great example of how taking a risk can really improve the work that you do. So no nasty-grams to Jason about personal space or patriarchal oppression,” Julia: “As we wrap this up, is there anything you'd like to say to the fans or hints you'd like to drop for Season 2?” Marissa: “Of course! I want all of our WS fans to know that we love them and appreciate all the social media feedback! We do listen and have a lot of creative freedom so who knows? Your ideas might get used! As for Season 2? Oh, gosh, see I don't want to spoil anything but I will say we have a ton of special guest stars showing up! Lots of actors from popular shows and movies that you are used to seeing as good guys... well, here on WS they are the bad or really, really, mean guys. The relationships and drama will only get better, or worse, depending on your point of view, so keep watching and submit your ideas and remember, we love you guys!” [Credits roll, Julia and Marissa sit in their chairs laughing and making idle chatter]
  3. 1 point
    “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.
  4. 1 point
    "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."
  5. 1 point
    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.
  6. 1 point
    "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?"
  7. 1 point
    "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.
  8. 1 point
    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?"
  9. 1 point
    "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?"
  10. 1 point
    "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.
  11. 1 point
    "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."
  12. 1 point
    "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."
  13. 1 point
    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]
  14. 1 point
    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.
  15. 1 point
    Champions Field, after 1 pm. Gar smiled awkwardly as he made his escape from the impromptu couples chatter that was forming around the Cassidy picnic spot, feeling a sense of relief that he had a grill to go and check on - an excellent pretext that prevented his exit from being too obvious and awkward. He sighed as he opened the cover on the grill, checked on the ribs and kielbasa, then settled back into his lawn chair, fighting back the brief desire for something stronger than a Coors Lite as he watched the families, so normal-seeming, tiny islands of sanity and human contact despite the dramas and quarrels and disagreements. He missed Kaitlin most at times like these - which was one reason he hadn't come to this type of event before. Or anything communal, really. And his only family now was... Jase. Who didn't need him so much as he just liked having him around - Sort of like a half-wild cat that knows how to change it's own litter and use the can opener, he mused wryly. I am tolerated, accepted, loved even, but not needed. My own son doesn't need me. Never really did. A thought that had, in the past, would have triggered Gar into reaching for a bottle of hard liquor now simply evoked quiet sadness. "What's on your mind?" Hank settled into his nearby chair, pulling a fresh bottle of beer from the cooler and regarding Gar calmly. "Nothing much." Jason's dad shrugged, forcing a smile. "You struck out with the nurse, huh?" "Turns out she has a boyfriend in Oregon." Hank smirked slightly. "Who'd a-thought?" "At least she wasn't washing her hair." Gar chuckled, clinking his bottle against his friend's. "Plenty of fish in the sea, man." "Truth." Hank laughed, glancing at the pie Mrs Cassidy had left on the table. "How'd you get on with the real people?" "Pretty good." Gar shrugged. "It's awkward, though. Only thing we have in common is our kids, and I'm pretty sure I'm one of the only parents in Shelly that knows about... you know. I kept looking at Carl, or Jack, or Carolyn, and wondering if they're also pretending that our kids aren't super-teens." "God, can you imagine?" Hank snickered, then sobered as he indicated someone with his bottle. "Well, we know there's at least one parent in Shelly that knows what's up." Following the pointing bottle neck, Gar saw the tiny new girl... what was her name? Kat. That was it. With her father, the Army captain who was part of the Project security detail, and with his girlfriend. He gave them a short wave of greeting as they passed, a gesture answered by a nod and smile from Josh and a small wave from Kat. Just normal family people doing normal family things, that's us, he thought quietly. Nothing odd going on here. He wondered if any other other parents knew this might be the last day they shared with their kids. Jase had been frank with him - but that was Jase. Practical to the point of coldness, he'd advised his father to sell up and move out of Toole County if the teens didn't come back, for his own safety. Again, that jarring inversion that comes upon most parents when they realise their child is an adult that does not need protection and is, perhaps, even more capable than they are themselves. It just happened sooner with his son than with most children. = = = = = = = = It was almost a physical shock when she saw him, and Kaitlin immediately ducked into the shade of a stall, grateful of the sunglasses and the sun hat she was wearing. Gar was here? Mentally she facepalmed - of course Gar was here. It was a small community, and a big day. Jason would likely be here too, somewhere. Taking a breath to steady herself, she half-turned and peered over at where her mate sat, talking with a rough-looking man with broad shoulders that filled out the Army surplus jacket. She noted those details absently, focusing on Gareth. He hadn't changed much. A little gray in his hair, cut short now rather than the longer cut she'd known him to have. That same sober, serious expression that could illuminate in a smile or laugh. He'd gotten thinner in the face, and lost the short beard. Kaitlin stared for a long moment, painfully aware of her heartbeat in her ears. She was aware she'd taken half a step towards him and turned away, closing her eyes for a long moment. Eight years, and still the draw was there; he was still her nghalon'd'ewiswyd. She wanted to go to him. She wanted to leave this field. She wanted to throw herself into his arms and never stop kissing him. She wanted to run from Shelly where she wouldn't be reminded of her failures... "Kaitlin?" Someone had been trying to speak with her, and the blonde woman shook herself out of her reverie and turned back to see Clair Sevy, another new addition to the Shelly school faculty, smiling as she approached for a hug. She was a big hugger, it seemed. Kaitlin obliged, smiling back as the two new teachers greeted each other. "So, you decided to come check this out too, hmm?" Claire gestured at the field around them, bustling with families as she smiled. "Yes." Kaitlin nodded, letting Catheen fall away as she re-adopted her human mask. Kaitlin Forster was not moon-eyed over some single father. "Though unlike some I'm not treating it as an excuse for an unofficial parent-teacher conference." she indicated Mr McRiley, who was taking advantage of his bully pulpit to heckle yet another underperforming high schooler. The man was unpleasant in that bland, petty human fashion that tarnished the daylight in faint, nondescript ways. He also made Catheen's knife hand itch when he looked at her - fortunately, Kaitlin didn't have a knife hand. Nope. Not at all. Or a slender Teulu blade strapped to her thigh under the dress. "Oh, no. He isn't?" Claire looked disapprovingly at the algebra teacher. "For crying out loud - this is the last holiday of the summer. Leave the poor kids alone." she muttered, then smiled wanly at Kaitlin. "I shouldn't say it, but he's a horrible unctuous little man." "There's worse people in the world, I suppose." Kaitlin smirked a little. "Well, in some worlds." "We should go and undo some damage." Claire suggested with a smile. "Talk about how delightful the kids are." "Some of them, maybe." Kaitlin's laugh was unaffected. She found herself warming to the Art teacher. = = = = = = = = = The Charger rolled to a stop, the engine's grumble and the strains of Bach dying away as Jase killed the ignition before slipping out from behind the wheel. Dressed in faded jeans rather than combat pants, and a dark grey t-shirt that, instead of being plain, bore the logo 'Patience: What You Have When There Are Too Many Witnesses', the only concession to regular Jason attire was his boots. He slipped his phone into his pocket and strode in the direction of the bustling Champion's Field, green eyes shining like chips of emerald under the shaggy fall of his hair. He could smell a few dozen grills adding their savory smoke to the late summer air as he joined the crowd, now and then turning to move aside for knots of children or families as he wove through in search of familiar faces, making for the picnic area with his typical straight-backed grace. The Keanes were easy to pick out, as were the Cassidys, though he saw neither Sean nor Autumn with their respective families. He spotted Cassandra and Bethany playing with Cass's dog. Kat was there with her father. Devin and Marissa were standing near their folks, talking to Laurie, who wore an expression of sober consideration as she nodded, said something then moved off with her pet goat. Scanning the family picnic area, he didn't see the Alisters or the Pryors, and mulled that over as he located where his dad and Hank were and began heading over to them.
  16. 1 point
    Like Marissa, Laurie had always been a firecracker of attitude, almost to the point where Marissa wanted to choke her out. However, the little redhead had guts and a part of Shelly's Queen Bee could appreciate her fire. With a dazzling eye roll and uncaring sigh the lovely teenager looked at her peer. "Fine, we'll help you." "You will?" Laurie seemed more shocked than appreciative. "We will?" Devin seemed more skeptical than on board. "Laurie, we have made a million mistakes," she started. Her mind was on her conversation with Coyote last evening and she could help but shake (and refuse to admit) that the old man was right. She needed to up her game and stop pushing allies away when the fate of worlds seemed on the line. "But back home in Malibu, when a guy shows up to school in makeup or a dress, no one bats an eye. Sweetie, here in the 'Tana, you guys are about forty years behind the acceptance curve. Your brother is adamant that he is a guy and identifies as male, so what was he doing in a women's cheerleader outfit?" "We told you, it was just a silly bet we made at the house," Laurie shrugged like it was no big deal, and, in the confines of the Cassidy home, it wasn't. "And now everyone is assuming Sean is just fronting about his sexual identity. His showing up was more a 'coming out' statement than the loss of a bet it was meant to be. You two know the truth, we know the truth, but you can't speak for a town of three thousand bigots." Marissa's face went a little sour as she brought up a point that just made their work all the more difficult. "Him offering to expose himself to other guys also didn't do much for his popularity." Laurie winced. "Yeah, I uh... I heard about that, but that guy was a complete ass and-" Marissa raised her hands to calm down and shush the sophomore before she got too loud. "Again, Laurie, you miss the point. The moment your brother opens his mouth, everything is his fault. It's literally him against the school and this town, and he thinks a few choice quips, insults, and playing the victim are going to turn out in his favor. It won't. He needs to start manipulating the system and making it work for him. Bigots all love to be bigots until they find out that others are judging them or, some law or policy somewhere has been violated and now they're stuck having to explain themselves to people more open minded than themselves. Like, say, the school, Shelly High versus the State of Montana." Laurie shook her head and shrugged, trying to piece it all together. "W-what do you mean?" "He needs to shut up, and let himself get bullied and trod upon with humility so..." Marissa clarified. Devin stepped up, a grin a mile wide on his face. "...when Marissa, myself, Autumn, Jason, Cass, Lilly and Courtney all start posting on various social media accounts and taking a stand as people witnessing Sean being treated that way, it's no longer Sean's fight. It quickly becomes Shelly Montana versus the Board of Education for the state of Montana and all those people caught in digital 4K abusing a poor, technically special needs student, due to his genetic... differences, now a whole town has to explain why they think it's funny to pick on a handicapped kid." "You guys are geniuses." Laurie scoffed in a half laugh. "Evil fucking geniuses." "True." Marissa smiled. "But Sean needs to stop taking things into his own hands and let his fr-" she paused and cleared her throat. "Us, handle things for him."
  17. 1 point
    ...Fuck. Autumn froze, her whole body tensing- even her breath stilling for a moment in that instinctive response to being caught doing something she really shouldn't have been doing. Or at least, that she shouldn't have been doing on her front porch. Guiltily, the red-faced girl slowly broke off the kiss, her fingers sliding from Jase's hair as she bit her lip and wondered (not for the first time) if she could be lucky enough for the earth to just open up beneath her and swallow her whole. "Hi, mom. So... We're back." "So I see. Safe and sound." Her mother's voice was still upbeat. "Hello again, Jason." "Dana." he said pleasantly, nodding as though his hands weren't still on Autumn's rear. He tilted his head a tiny amount, studying first Autumn's reaction, then her mother's raised eyebrow, and nodding once more as though he'd figured something out, he slid his hands from his crimson-faced girlfriend's butt to her waist. "We were just saying goodbye." he stated calmly. "Nonsense!" Dana's smile widened as she looked from the oddly composed youth to her daughter. "You must be starving. Why don't you stay for dinner?" A sense of growing trepidation slowly eclipsing her embarrassment, Autumn's wide blue eyes darted from her mother's too-bright smile to her boyfriend's characteristically impassive expression. This did not bode well: they'd only just started dating, and this was not how she'd wanted her mom to find out. The younger of the two redheads wasn't particularly worried that Jase would be rude, but having dinner with your date's parents was usually a thing that happened later, and also usually not right after they'd seen you all over each other. No, if someone had to die on the altar of Dana Keane's maternal ire, she'd rather it be her. Swallowing her nerves, she turned to her mother with a quick smile. "No, no, really, it's cool. He was just leaving, and I'm sure he's got stuff to do at home." "Oh?" Dana glanced once more at the calm jade pools that were Jase's eyes. She was calculating on a sense of embarrassment, and on the tendency of people to make excuses and jump at the chance to avoid socially awkward situations. In essence, her entire strategy in this instance was indeed to send Jason packing with a sigh of relief and a sense that he'd narrowly escaped disaster. Unfortunately, she had only a faint idea that he was unusual, or that lying was not one of his facets at all. So when she met his eye, still smiling, and asked with an arch tone of disappointment "Do you, Jason? Have things to do at home?" she had no clue that a sudden realisation on Autumn's part was causing her to experience something akin to existential dread. "Nothing pressing." Jase replied politely. "I'd be glad to accept your invitation, Dana. Thank you. Provided you are happy for me to clean up and change - I’m a little dusty from the hike and the climbing." Somewhere in the back of Autumn's mind a primal scream of impotent, wordless frustration rang out, manifesting in the real world as a tiny, despairing squeak barely audible over the conversation. There was no all-consuming abyss underfoot, no cavernous, chthonic maw welcoming her into the depths of oblivion. Of course there wasn't. Her only hope now was that Dana wouldn't think to ask what Jason's intentions were with her daughter. A shiver of unease raced down her spine at the thought. "Oh," she replied, exhaling. Breathe, Autumn. It'll be fine. It's fine. It's just dinner. "I guess I can get this stuff put away while-" "Oh, I don't think that's necessary." Dana turned to her daughter, her sharp hazel eyes untouched by the pleasant smile she'd affected as she noted that neither of the teens had completely disengaged from the other yet. "We can take care of all that after dinner! Besides, I could use some help in the kitchen if we're going to have company over." I'm dead. "Sure," Autumn agreed unhappily, wondering if any of the Fellowship would visit her grave, and what kind of flowers they'd leave. "Yeah... I can do that." "Great." Dana waved them both in, noting with some relief that the two of them finally removed their hands from each other as they stepped across the threshold. "Jason, there's a bathroom just down the hallway here on the left. You go ahead and get cleaned up while us girls decide on what's for dinner. And don't mind the... dogs?" Her puzzlement was due to the fact that the dogs were not currently alternating between barking excitedly and throwing themselves at Autumn and the strange person in welcome, as was their usual wont. Instead they were watching curiously from a short distance away, doggy eyes intent and tracking Jason as he removed his boots so as not to track dirt into the home. Dakota's ears were pricked up and forwards, and Lexi was sitting still. They didn't seem scared, or hostile. Just... watchful. "Mind? I like dogs." Jase said with a small smile, turning towards the two animals and slowly crouching and extending a hand, palm up, in silent invitation. There was a curious manner to it, a deliberateness in the gesture, and Dakota took a step closer, then a few more, sniffing lightly at the proffered hand. His tail wagged then, hesitantly, then with more confidence as Jason slowly moved his other hand to scritch the Shepherd's ears. Apparently reassured, Dakota turned and pressed against Autumn in his more usual hello as Lexi also came forward, sniffed Jason's hand, and relaxed as he petted her neck and shoulders. Standing, he shouldered his backpack and smiled at Autumn. "I won't be long. Then I can help Dana while you get cleaned up." he promised before moving off down the hallway and disappearing into the downstairs guest bathroom. "Hey," Autumn murmured, smiling a little in spite of herself as the sable Shepherd demanded attention. Burying her fingers in the thick fur around his neck and kneeling to smooth her other palm over Lexi's side, she watched thoughtfully as Jase departed. That was... different. None of the Keanes' fosters were aggressive, but it was easy for people to mistake their energetic, vocal enthusiasm for hostility or a territorial nature, and yet they'd been mild as milk in greeting a newcomer. A stranger. Specifically, Jason Bannon, who, she conceded, was kind of strange by most standards. She was still smiling when Dana spoke again, breaking the comfortable moment of relative silence. "So." It was a single syllable, but carried a wealth of emotional context. It was the sound, like the old movie said, of inevitability. "Is there anything he doesn't eat? Allergies, or anything like that?" The pretty veterinarian's tone was carefully neutral as she waved her daughter along toward the kitchen. A little confused that this was her approach, and no less uneasy for the apparent reprieve, Autumn followed. "I don't think so, no," she answered cautiously, tugging the drawstring of her hoodie restlessly back and forth as she considered the question. "I mean, I'm pretty sure he does most of the cooking at his house, since his dad works nights, and he always brings his own lunch." "Does he?" her mother asked, checking the freezer to see what they had on hand. "Like what? Burgers, spaghetti, that kind of thing?" Those were safe guesses, considering their age, and that, if the rumors were true, Jason came from a single-parent home. Even so, she was a little surprised- most teenage boys didn't bother. Autumn frowned slightly, shaking her head as Dana glanced in her direction. "No... Um, more like... Provencal-style country mutton stew." As soon as she uttered the words, the redhead remembered the ingredients, and, blushing furiously, immediately regretted it. Dana blinked, peering at Autumn narrowly as though the thought crossed her mind that she was being made fun of in some way. Autumn's blush wasn't that of someone caught in a lie, though. She actually seemed embarrassed by something else entirely, and her words had possessed the ring of sincerity. "Okay. So. He cooks." Dana glanced back into the freezer, then removed a frozen casserole she'd stored last week. "He restores classic muscle cars." She closed the freezer door and, setting the dish on the counter, moved to turn the oven on before reviewing the vegetable situation. "And, because I am choosing to trust you'd not lie to me, Autumn Rae, yesterday he was just a friend." She motioned to Autumn. "Lets get some potatoes baking, and while you get them ready you can tell me how things came to the point I witnessed at the front door- oh, and that you were careful last night." "Mom!" Autumn exclaimed, utterly mortified and cognizant of every freckle as a tiny glowing ember smouldering in the blazing scarlet of her skin. "We didn't- It wasn't like that. I mean, I know I joked about no grandchildren, but, seriously, that didn't happen. And he really was just a friend," she insisted as she picked out three decent-sized potatoes from the bin and laid them on the counter. "We just started talking last Friday, so the idea of dating wasn't really a thing." Pulling a paring knife from the block, the flustered young woman washed her hands in the sink, then started removing the eyes and carving out bruised areas as her mother busied herself with the other sides. She frowned, jabbing the point of the knife into the dull brown flesh and twisting. "It just... We were having a good time, cleaning the camp site up and talking, and it just sort of happened." "Hmmph." It was a good 'hmmph', rich in subtext and shading, with a hint of thoughtful appraisal thrown in for good measure. Autumn, her gaze studiously on the work her hands were doing and still red as a tomato, was not aware of the slight smile on her mother's lips as she weighed her daughter's reaction and words. "Just happened, hmm?" "Yes." Autumn muttered, still coming to terms with the swift changes in her relationship with Jase herself, which he’d also found surprising. What had he called it? Alchemy. "Okay." Dana relented a little as she worked on her side of the counter space. She smirked a little as she glanced at her red-faced daughter, unable to resist mixing a little teasing with the interrogation. "So, is there anything I need to know about Jase, other than he's apparently quite the kisser?" Oh, god. "Well," she began tentatively, struggling to focus on the potatoes rather than the fact that, yes, Jesus holy fuck, he was 'quite the kisser.' "He's honest." Small understatement. "He's the smartest person I know- which, yeah, this is Shelly, so it's not saying much, but seriously. Umm... speaks several different languages, likes poetry..." Autumn paused, holding the knife blade still for a moment as she thought about what she actually knew of him. "Doing things with his hands, I think, really. Cooking, working on the car, gardening- Oh!" A sudden smile brightened her flushed features as she thought of his private Eden, the reason she'd invited him out in the first place, and she turned to regard her mother, leaning one hip against the counter as she did so. "The indoor garden he's built is incredible, mom. Lit-er-a-lly one of the most gorgeous things I've ever seen, plants and flowers from all over the world. Honestly," she shrugged one shoulder, still smiling. "He's kind of amazing." Her mom blinked as the casual query seemed to unearth a gold-mine of revelations, not least of which was Autumn's gradually shining-through enthusiasm as she moved past the mortification of parental teasing and warmed to her subject. Amazing was not a word Dana had ever expected to hear used to describe a teenage boy, especially by her own daughter. The conflicting emotions of happiness that Autumn had found someone who made her eyes shine so positively, and nervousness that the source of that shine was someone she and other Shelly residents had widely considered to be a bad seed warred in her hazel eyes as they appraised her daughter. "Wow." she remarked, following it up with a thoughtful "He does sound amazing." She arched a brow. "Sounds like someone thinks he's just about perfect, in fact." she added in a tone that was teasing, but couldn't quite hide her concern. Autumn sighed, blue eyes rolling heavenward as she turned back to finish cleaning up the last of the potatoes. "He's not perfect," she replied, exasperated, as if her mother had just said the most ridiculous thing in the world. "He's funny. He's smart. He's good at a lot of things, and I'm having fun getting to know more about him. He has..." Pursing her lips, the red-haired girl set the knife aside, raking the bad bits off the counter and into her open hand before heading to the trash can to throw them away. "He has a lot of good qualities, I guess. I'm happy we started talking, and I hope we're friends for a long time." She rinsed her hands again, and the knife as well, before putting it in the dish drainer. "He does have a few, um, quirks, though." That was good for a maternal brow-furrow, and Dana was just opening her mouth to ask what 'um quirks' Autumn was talking about when both Keane women caught the sound of the bathroom door opening down the hall. Dakota, who'd been sitting in the kitchen doorway watching the food preparation, glanced in the direction of the opened door, his tail thumping on the carpet a few times before a cleaned-up Jason appeared round the corner. He'd obviously washed himself clean of dust as much as was practical, damp hair swept back from his forehead, the wet ends trailing against the sun-darkened skin of his neck as he bent from the waist to give Dakota another ear-scritch in passing. And he'd changed his clothes, replacing the dirty combat pants, tee shirt and hoodie with a white sleeveless tee - that showed off, probably incidentally, the lean symmetry of his shoulders and arms - and... oh no... grey sweatpants. "Hi." he said in greeting as he set his pack down in the hall, then wandered into the kitchen. He gave both of them a faint smile that reached the corners of his eyes before studying the kitchen, what they were doing, and finally returning his green laser stare to the ladies themselves. "Is there anything I can do to help?" "Hi," Autumn replied automatically, her voice oddly distant to her own ears. It was, to be fair, difficult to hear over the sudden surge of blood rushing to her face, the dull roar almost indistinguishable from that of a nearby bonfire. Certainly she'd seen him wearing less clothing, but that wasn't the point. The point was that... Was... It occurred to her, dimly, that she was going to need to breathe soon, as her eyes traveled slowly from the damp strands of dark hair that brushed his ears to the sharp line of his collarbone. "Autumn?” She could just see a faint mark there- not quite a bruise- and shivered, just a little, at the memory of making it. Beyond that, her gaze continued its leisurely descent, pausing at the outline of- “Autumn Rae Keane!" She blinked, inhaling sharply as if startled, deep blue eyes focusing on her mother's slim fingers as they snapped in front of her face. "What? Oh. Yeah... I should, um, go get cleaned up." "Do that." her mother not-quite-ordered, pressing her lips together to avoid further comment or, conversely, laughter at the expression on Autumn's face as she'd stared at the youth in the doorway. She watched as Autumn moved towards that doorway, sharp eyes not missing the way the athletic young woman slowed her pace and glanced up at Jason's face as she drew near, like a flower turning towards the sun. Even her torso seemed to lean a little, as though drawn by some magnetic impulse. And the attraction was plainly not one-way - his eyes tracked her with intensity and focus, his face turned towards her as she drew abreast of him and one freckle specked hand came up to brush across his upper arm near the shoulder, feeling the vitality of his body and the connection of his Shine for a moment with the air of a connoisseur savoring wine. "Hey." Jason said softly in response to her touch, a verbal caress of his own. "Hey." Autumn smiled back, clear blue eyes meeting jade green, and Dana felt a slight warmth behind the skin of her face as she watched them gaze at each other, averting her eyes and clearing her throat. There was something unrelentingly, uncaringly pure and untamed about the way they looked at each other. "Jase? Autumn tells me you know your way around a kitchen - you okay with whipping up a tomato salad?" At her mother's voice, Autumn dropped her hand from Jason's arm and, more slowly, her eyes from his and slipped past him, remembering to breathe now as she hurried up the stairs. "Sure." Jason moved to the center isle counter and selected a thin, sharp knife from the block as Dana set down the tomatoes and some onions before him, along with a dish. He seemed totally at ease, that same sense of self-possession that had struck Dana when he'd arrived yesterday like a king’s mantle around his shoulders. He glanced at her as she studied him, meeting her eyes with no sense of hesitancy as he began to thinly slice the tomatoes. "Thank you again for inviting me, Dana." "Not at all," the slim redhead replied smoothly, despite a resurgence of the vague, unsettling feeling she'd experienced the day before- that as she'd scrutinized the tall young man going out into the woods with her headstrong daughter, she herself had been considered. Still... All of her children, both of the four- and two-legged varieties, seemed to approve of him, so maybe that oddly direct gaze was just one of the 'quirks' Autumn had mentioned. "It's been a long time since Autumn's had anyone over," she continued conversationally, piercing the potatoes with the tines of a fork. "Especially someone new." Dana reflected on that for a moment, one fingertip tapping on the counter as she gathered her thoughts. When was the last time? Besides Jacob, who was practically family and had an open invitation... And she'd certainly never seen her girl look at him that way. When she was in junior high, maybe? Hm. "She mentioned you guys just started talking recently." Dana glanced briefly over at her daughter's new beau as she pulled a bottle of olive oil from the cabinet. "How did you two meet, if you don't mind my asking?"
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