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    "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.
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