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Showing content with the highest reputation since 06/17/2020 in Posts

  1. 2 points
    "Woo!" Devin raised his hands and clapped a few times. "Told ya! I want deets when you get freaky with those later! Plus, you're prettier than Jason. Waaaaay more marketable when one of us finally screws up and shows the world what we can do!" "You are such a perv!" She half smiled and half stuck out her tongue out at him. He turned his attention back to Courtney, offering a smile that apologized for the interruption. "Sorry. Where were we?" "Getting freaky?" Courtney raised an inquisitive eyebrow at the charming teleporter. "Pray, tell." "Oh, something the TK people do, I guess. They have like these invisible magic hands or fingers or whatnot that they can touch things with." He shrugged, vaguely remembering how Jason described it in his garage that one time he and Marissa visited while he worked on his car. "Oh, god, I'd definitely be getting freaky," Courtney laughed. "Right?!" Devin leaned in and the both started laughing like fourth graders. "I'd be like a one man orgy in the shower. Smacking my own ass... 'Harder daddy!'" They both fell over laughing, rolling in the grass as an uncontrollable fit of giggles overcame them. Whatever it was they were talking about it seemed like they were having an amazing time of it.
  2. 2 points
    It was a large machine, easily a couple of tons of steel designed to plough a field eight furrows at a time when pulled behind a tractor. Left over from when the Wilsons had owned the farm, when Gar had decided to make a proper go of farming recently he’d examined it and regretfully concluded rust and neglect had taken too great a toll for it to be useful, but it was still big and heavy. So when Jason had requested this and other assorted junk for the Fellowship to use in training, his father had readily agreed. “Oh my god, I’m doing it!” Tawny’s face was alight with a grin as the massive hunk of rust-splotched metal moved in a graceful half-circle. At Jason’s bidding she’d tried to move the plough, and though she’d managed to lift one end of it, she frustratingly found herself incapable of moving the whole thing. Then he’d put a hand on her shoulder, and she’d felt that cool, focused light from him pouring into her, and suddenly she felt a terrible clarity and strength suffuse her own Shine like… like… Well, like something awesome. When she tried again, the plough had lifted before she’d even managed to really focus. “You are.” Jason’s tone was hard for Tawny to read, but she fancied she heard a congratulatory note in there. Hell, in the absence of contrary evidence she’d go with that. “Now, rotate it along each axis as you move it, then set it down precisely as it was.” As Tawny complied, he analysed the shift and flow of her Shine responding and mentally nodded to himself as the plough finally settled down, then he broke the link and stepped away. Tawny took the momentary respite to glance across at where Devin was sitting holding hands with Courtney, noting how the glamorous senior smiled almost bashfully and tucked her hair back behind her ear as she held Devin’s hand in hers. A strong pang of jealous sadness touched the sweet-faced blonde’s heart for a second, and it was a moment before she realised Courtney was looking at her askance. Right, staring. She admonished herself, not realising the true cause of Courtney’s sudden attention to her, and turned back to see Jason regarding her from a few feet away, studying her expressionlessly. Tawny blushed, wondering if those pale eyes were looking through her, but even so tilted her chin up a little. So what if he was reading her like a large-print book? Hell, everyone knew she loved Devin anyway. It was hardly something to be embarrassed about. At her defiant return glance Bannon smiled slightly, and abruptly his gaze shifted from blank and icy to… well, something wry... and somehow ancient in it’s humour as he nodded very faintly. Oddly, that gaze was harder to meet than the dispassionate analysis, the shifting emerald glints of Jason’s eyes in the sunlight conveying something other than remote curiousity. Tawny felt her blush increasing and looked away. “So what’s your deal?” she asked after clearing her throat as Jason sat down on the grass again, indicating she sit nearby with a gesture. Tawny sat once more, watching as her teacher set out a number of baseballs. “My deal?” “Yeah.” She studied his profile. “I thought you were terminally shy, or autistic or something, and couldn’t meet anyone’s eyes. I don’t think we ever exchanged more than three words.” “Seven short exchanges, over the years.” Jason stated casually as his gaze shifted to her. “First one was in seventh grade when you complimented me on my handwriting and offered me the use of your spare pen. You were always polite and kind, to both me and Sean.” “Really? Seven?” Tawny asked, surprised, then shook her head slightly and indicated him. “See? That’s what I mean. That right there. Do you have a perfect memory?” She smiled uncertainly. “Was I just that memorable?” “Yes.” Jason’s face was deadpan except for a faint crinkling at the corners of his eyes. Tawny peered at him, trying to determine whether he was poking fun or not, but there was no clue. Still, he hadn’t bitten her head off - or grabbed a hay-hook - so she decided to push a little more. “Yes to which?” “Yes to both. I have a perfect memory, and you are memorable.” A baseball levitated nearby, then bounced in the air as if being tossed and caught by an invisible hand. Which, Tawny realised as she examined it with what Jason said was her ‘kinetic senses’, was actually pretty accurate. “Let’s warm up. See if you can grab the ball out of the air.” “R-right.” Tawny nodded, caught off guard by his straightforwardness. Was he hitting on her? He didn’t look or sound like he was hitting on her, merely… answering her questions. So why did his frank responses make her feel awkward. Shaking it off, she focused on the lesson at hand. At first, her attempts for the ball were clumsy, accompanied by hand gestures and trying to use raw force rather than finesse. Each grasp was foiled by Jason moving the ball out of the path of the grab like a pro basketballer taunting another player, proffering the ball and then switching it to another hand as the opponent grabbed for it. “Ugh!” Tawny glowered at him in an expression that would be daunting if it wasn't also cute. “Stop that.” Jason was unruffled. “You’re trying to grab the ball with an excavator, or a crane. Use a lighter touch. Picture fingers that can pluck guitar strings or play the piano. It takes more focus, but is once you have the hang of it you can readily have a second pair of hands constantly available.” “Really?” This sounded good. “How far can they reach? How strong are they?” “So far my reach is around ninety-five to one hundred feet. As for strength? That comes with practice and development of the will.” Jason glanced at her again. “For heavy lifting you have that ‘crane’, but it is imprecise. You can also easily nudge or touch things, but cannot really manipulate them. With time and practice, you could lift a grown man or bend metal with those secondary hands - but more importantly you can handle an egg, or delicate glass, or pick a lock, or comb someone’s hair. Anything I can do with my hands, I can do with my telekinesis.” Tawny remembered how she’d blown a kiss at Devin, shaping the use of her gift so he would feel it, and smiled a little. Nodding, she envisioned a set of hands, her hands, with slender fingers and a slightly crooked thumb. Then she reached up her actual hand- “Wait.” Jason’s voice cut her short. “Lower your hand.” As he studied Tawny’s worried expression, he went on “You don’t need to use gestures. I did at first - still do when being theatrical and showing off- “ he smiled that quick faint smile again, “- but it lacks elegance. We’re not Jedi or wizards. If you’re making grabbing motions, you are telegraphing your intent, showing everyone what you are doing. Practice without gesturing.” Ruefully, Tawny lowered her outstretched hand and focused on the floating ball. It took a couple of tries, but on the third attempt Tawny felt her ‘fingers’ close around the baseball and gave a short crow of triumph. Jason nodded approval, then rose to his feet. “Good. Now we’re going to play catch.” Leaving her holding the ball, he walked thirty feet away, then turned and nodded at her. “Throw the ball at me.” They passed the baseball back and forth a number of times, Tawny finding the limits of her range to be about six feet as Jason threw off to the side, or way over her head, forcing her to field the ball without flinching or running from instinct to get under it and catch it physically. It got easier the more they practiced, and then he added a second ball. And then a third. A fourth. Then another. Another. A delighted female whoop and laughter alerted the others, and any of the Fellowship looking at the two psychokinetics would have seen a two-person juggling act, with no hands apparently catching or throwing the six baseballs between them. Tawny’s expression was torn between excited delight and concentration as she kept up the momentum and rhythm with her faintly smiling teacher. “Deej! You seeing this?!” she almost-squeaked, glancing round for her friend then abruptly snapping her gaze back as Jason sent a wicked curveball out to one side. “Hey!” she scowled as she caught it and sent it back just before the next missile arrived. “Okay, okay. I’ll pay attention.” “You mistake my point. You caught the ball anyway. You could do it without looking at it. You could do it blindfolded.” Jason called over the intervening distance with his trademark faint, mysterious smile. “You know where the balls are, how fast they’re moving and in which direction.” With that, he turned and faced away across the field without missing a catch or a pitch. “Don’t think about it. Just do it.” he challenged. With an intake of breath, the blonde farmgirl steeled herself, focusing on the feel of the motion in the air, of the ballet of flying objects, then turned towards Devin, a grin of proud delight slowly crossing her face as she looked at him. (And the others, sure, but mostly him.) “Check me out!” she exclaimed with an amazed laugh as, behind her, the baseballs continued to be caught and thrown without interruption.
  3. 2 points
    (Written in collaboration with Marissa's Player.) Her cheeks flush with a warmth not entirely related to the weather, Autumn fished around in the pocket of her jeans for one of the (probably) hundreds of elastic hair ties she owned. Between Jason being Jason, and Marissa being, well, Marissa, she was only too happy to trade the tense, stifling atmosphere of the loft for fresh air and sunshine. Out here, at least, she could breathe. Out here, it was just the grass, the sky, the breeze, the occasional bickering of chickens somewhere nearby, and… the occasional bickering of teenagers. Eh. Kind of the same thing, really. With the deft, half-conscious movements of one long accustomed to dealing with the unruly mane she’d inherited, the redhead twisted her hair up and off the back of her neck, considering her options. Kat, Cade, and Marissa had little to no experience with any of this, and without Sean or Charlie present, it made sense to pair up with one of them herself. Cade was the safe choice, of course, and barring his popularity with the jocks and seemingly even temperament, she didn’t really know all that much about him. Kat was the interesting choice, partially because she still had that fresh New Student smell and partially because she seemed honest- if a little on the timid side. Shelly High’s Queen B, though… Marissa was the difficult choice, for a whole host of reasons. Autumn wrinkled her nose a little in annoyance, idly plucking at the front of her t-shirt as the effortlessly gorgeous brunette sashayed out in her high-end, painted on workout gear in glorious bombshell red. It was definitely attention-grabbing, she had to admit, but also sort of like waving a crimson flag in front of a bull who kind of wants to smack you in the face a little bit. “Hey, Marissa,” her official ‘bestie’ called out as she approached, snapping the elastic band in place to keep her hair from just doing whatever it wanted. Whatever had changed between the texts last night and now, they could talk about it after. Right? Right. They were friends. It was fine. “Wanna pair up?” Marissa's head spun about, enlightening Autumn to the fact that dramatic hair whips were, in fact, still a thing. "Um, sure." She said, skeptically. "I don't really know why. I don't have magical mind bendy powers, so yeah. But! We need to talk anyway, so, yes. I think 'pairing up' is a great idea." She looped her arm in with Autumn's and led her away from the other groups. They were well within shouting distance, but not so close that their 'conversation' could be heard. "Okay, so, where do you want to start? The part where you stole my crush out from under me, the reasons you need to break up with him, or," she waved her hand dismissively at the part that obviously didn't interest her. "Or, whatever this whole magic nerd crap it is you guys do out here at the Bannon Compound?" Wait, what? "Wait, what?" No sooner had Marissa's words registered than Autumn stopped short, pulling back on the arm looped through her own so that the dark-haired beauty leading her away from the others was likewise obliged to pause. Uncomprehending, she frowned and shook her head, blue eyes narrowing in confusion. That… It didn’t make sense. Marissa not being interested in Jason was one of the reasons they’d decided to try dating in the first place, so… “How did I-“ she began, then shook her head again. “You’re going out with Cade,” she finally managed, as if that simple fact was a refutation of all the prettier Jauntsen had said. "Um, maybe, but I was still crushing on Jase, a bit," she shrugged, then waved her hands as if shooing away a fog in her mind. "Look, I'm not mad at you about the whole Jase thing. It's not your fault and you are new to this whole little group dynamic, but everyone knew there was like a 'thing' between him and me. You should have checked first, total Girl Code faux pas, but I forgive." No one knew anything about anyone liking anyone. Well, maybe Devin and Lona, but that was rather obvious. When it came to Marissa, the Fellowship knew less about who she was crushing on than they actually cared about who she was crushing on. "It was just, totally not cool, you know? You don't just walk in and take other people's ice cream, Autumn." She smiled pure forgiveness that resembled something akin to a thousand pounds of sarcastic bitchiness being dropped from a very high place, the limits of her ego, perhaps. "But now? You totally should break up with him." Autumn's head tilted slightly, blinking as if she had just stumbled upon some newly-discovered species and was busy trying to work out exactly what this particular social display was meant to communicate, and also whether she should've kept that bear mace at hand. “I don’t really think everyone knew, Marissa,” she replied dubiously, only to have the Queen of Mean cut her off. “Look, I get that he’s sort of charismatic, in his own special way, and that you aren’t used to having anyone show interest in…” A perfectly manicured hand gestured vaguely up and down, indicating Autumn herself as Marissa continued with a withering note of disdain, “…whatever it is you have going on there, but trust me, this is not going to work out.” A sudden, angry rush of bright pink flooded the redhead’s cheeks as her whole body went rigid beneath the scathing glare of Marissa’s dark eyes; the intent of that particular remark had gotten through perfectly clearly, it seemed. “What, because I’m not as pretty as you are, I’m not date-worthy or something? What the actual fuck, Marissa?” Autumn fought to keep her voice low even as she stared at her alleged friend in utter disbelief. “And what the hell are you talking about with ‘ice cream’? Nobody’s taken anything that belongs to you.” "Well, no, not now, anyway," Marissa admitted. "I've already let it go. Look, I was grooming Jason to be less of a Crystal Lake murder hobo, and more of something that resembled a human being, namely, my human being. I'll skip the ice cream analogy for now, you have enough coming at you without worrying about food." She gave her another judgmental once over, like Autumn didn't need to be worrying about ice cream. "Long and short of it, Autumn, Jason is dangerous," all the cattiness bled away and she looked at her bestie with a concerned, hardened glare. "We were at my house and he... well he made me feel very uncomfortable. You didn't see what he did to Liam. I know I'm mean, but I would never harm another human being like he did with Liam. It was barbaric and psychotic and frankly I'm concerned for you. He held weapons to people's throats, threatened to kill Dr. Cook, in a room of witnesses, and Liam's bones were practically dust." She held up her hands like she had something on them, looking at them then her. "I mean, he didn't enter the house, Autumn. He stood outside the kids' window and just threw him around until his body shattered. That's not anger, that's not impulsive behavior. He tortured another human being and then went on with his day like it never happened. I would almost say he was proud! And that's your boyfriend, Autumn. The guy who, a week ago, told me he loved me, but is now dating you. Red flags? Anywhere?" Autumn really did have a lot coming at her, that much was true, and most of it from the topsy-turvy world of Marissa What-The-Hell-Was-Her-Middle-Name-Anyway Jauntsen. Between the insults and the complaints about stealing her crush and the casual dehumanization of people and the list of Jason’s sins and the expression of concern for her well-being, it was almost impossible to keep up, to pin down exactly what the whole point of the conversation even was at that point. “Marissa, I… I swear, I literally can’t even with you. Jason’s not your property, and if you wanted him then you should’ve just-“ No. Inhaling sharply, she shook her head and tried again. “He and I already talked about it, about a lot of things, that he told you he loved you, that he kissed you and shouldn’t have, and you got angry, and-“ Autumn closed her eyes, squeezing them shut as she counted silently and willed herself to just get through this and get on with the day. “Jase admitted, when we went camping, that he fucked that up with you. That he pushed too far, and you told him he needed relationship practice, or whatever, because he’d never had a girlfriend before. So that’s me. I’m the trial run,” she added tersely, her face reddening further with the admission until the freckles patterning her skin disappeared. “Because you weren’t happy with him as he is. I guess you needed to ‘groom him,’ huh? And you know what?” The redhead took a step forward, eyes stinging with angry, unshed tears as she advanced, erasing the space between them. “That is so fundamentally fucked, Marissa, and it’s even worse that he’s still going along with it anyway and you don’t even-“ With an audible groan of frustration, Autumn pressed the heels of her hands to her eyes. “Forget it. Jesus, fuck. Look.” She dropped her hands to her sides, scowling, then just as quickly raised them again, resting them atop her head. “I’m not gonna lie. I was terrified of Jason a week ago, so, if you’re scared, okay. Fine. I get it. I’ve been afraid of him since we were fucking ten, Marissa, and I’m trying not to be. I’m trying to understand. And if you’re actually worried about me, and not just saying that to get me to break up with him, great. I appreciate the concern, and I promise, if he murders the shit out of me one day and then eats my still-beating heart, my last thought will be that you were right and I should’ve listened. Scout’s fucking honor, if that happens I will dedicate my last breath to you. But I’m choosing to trust him. I’m choosing to believe that people fuck up, but they can learn from that. He’s my friend. You are my friend," she insisted. Marissa's eyes widened at the barrage. She took a stance that was ready for anything, but still casual enough to be impressed. With folded arms she chewed at the inside of her lip while Autumn let her have it. "Wow," she smirked. "You really want him, don't you? Fine. Your problem, your funeral. If after hearing all of that, he is the sort of person you want to hold hands with, he's all yours sister." She swiped her palms together like she was washing them clean. "And what's 'fundamentally fucked up' is grinding a human being’s bones into powder while standing outside their window like a fucking coward. But hey, I have standards and told a guy I wasn't interested in dating him, right around the same time he forced himself on me. I guess I'm the bad guy no matter what, huh? And no need to worry, you're not the trial run anymore." There was way more attitude in her voice than she intended but neither her nor Autumn were calm, rational, debating types. "There will never be a me and Jason. Ever. I'm washing my hands of him. So you two can just have at it all you like, I'm done. He might be wonderful to you. To me, he's the guy who told me he loved me and is now fucking my best friend. That's not love, Autumn. He doesn't know what love is, but, injured animals are your department, I'm more into fashion and he's so last week." She swept her arms out wide. "So, you won the guy. Congratulations. Now, how do we do this nerd stuff?" “Yeah. You clearly have standards, Marissa, when all you want in a guy is ‘fashion.’ Congratu-fucking-lations on your new accessory,” she shot back acidly, one hand swinging expansively in Cade’s direction. “He’ll go with everything.” In the few seconds that followed Autumn’s outburst, the serpent-in-a-sports-bra watched the high, vivid color drain from her BFF’s cheeks as the mortifying awareness of what she’d said sunk in. Oh, god. What the fuck, Autumn? Where the hell did that come from? What would have been a scream of frustration- were it not imprisoned behind clenched teeth- escaped the thin, taut line of the redhead’s lips as she pivoted on one heel and took two steps away to just… breathe, for a second, staring out across the field. The fact that Marissa was acting like a kid who’d just lost a toy she’d never played with and didn’t care about until she didn’t have it anymore was infuriating. The admission that she thought Jason was a coward was bizarre, and that she could own a person was horrifying. The casual assumption they’d had sex already was almost insulting, except that they actually probably would’ve if either of them had thought in advance that might be on the table. But all those opinions and assertions aside, that was still just kind of Marissa being a bitch- it had nothing to do with her boyfriend. I can’t believe I said that. Oh my god. It wasn’t even Cade’s fault at all. There was no reason to drag him into it, no reason to say anything mean about someone who, she was pretty sure, had never intentionally done anything offensive or controversial in his life. Well, except for dating Marissa Jauntsen- which wasn’t so much offensive, maybe, as it was masochistic. And yet, she and Marissa were supposed to be ‘besties,’ and that seemed to be working out just fine, so was she really in any position to judge? “Okay,” Autumn sighed, rubbing her palms across her eyes. “Okay. Look. I’m sorry. That was… totally uncalled-for. Cade seems like a nice guy. …Which, admittedly, makes him dating you pretty crazy, but whatever. None of this makes sense. So, fine. I’m not gonna waste my breath trying to change your mind about Jason and-“ She lifted a hand, her pale fingers tracing a broad, seemingly all-inclusive circle in the air. “Sit. We’ll try to figure this other stuff out, at least.” Folding her legs, the redhead sank down as she took a seat on the grass and fidgeted with one of her shoelaces as she waited for her Marissa to follow suit. Autumn rolled her eyes as Marissa unrolled her yoga mat to sit on. She didn't expect Shelly's glam Queen to sit on the ground where there was dirt and bugs, right? Ew. "Okay," she looked at her 'bestie' and spoke like she was annoyed. "Sitting. And, for the record, Cade knows he's an accessory," she added. "I was honest with him. I asked him to pretend to date me so Jason would back off and be less inclined to come back around me for a while, but if he did, Cade could shoo him away. It's easy, I know," the dark-eyed beauty looked at her best friend and it seemed like she was melting a hole in through her head. "To just think I'm a shallow, vapid, empty soul of a human being considering how opposite we think, but I'm still a person. I was honest with him about being afraid. I was honest with him about what made me afraid and he was still willing to go along with it to see that I felt more safe and secure from a guy who likes to loom outside people's houses and fold them into lawn chairs. Cade has turned out to be a great guy." "Maybe that's your type, I don't know. What I know is that you've yet to ask me my side of things or show any concern whatsoever as to why I was afraid, or how my fear of him has impacted me, at all. It's obvious who is actually important to you around here, because it certainly isn't your bestie. Jason is a genius, he knows I'm not going to be quiet about it and he manipulates his every behavior to be the stark opposite of everything I'm telling you. That's what he does. He's spent his whole life faking it, emulating emotions and expressions in order to fit in better. Reading people and exploiting their opinions of him with false emotions and fake faces. I would think you, of all people, would appreciate your best friend telling you that game notices game, but you don't. If you want to defend him so bad and he is so perfect, then I've done what I can. I can't force you to break up with him, well, I mean, I could, but," her eye's shimmered like someone behind them tossed up a handful of purple glitter. "That's not my way." “Do I have a best friend, Marissa?” Autumn asked with quiet intensity, blue eyes thoughtful as she considered the other girl’s invective. Everything, invariably, circled back around to Marissa Jauntsen. Her feelings. Her opinions. What she wanted. Was that a friendship, or was she just so eager to actually have a friend she was willing to take whatever she could get? The thought stung. How pathetic was that? “I never said you weren’t a person, even though you barely treat me like one. I never said you lied to Cade, but I do think he’s too nice for you. I never said you weren’t afraid, or didn’t have the right to be, and I even admitted that I was, too, and I didn’t ask why because-“ Pausing, the redhead shrugged a little, her nose crinkling unhappily. “Honestly, I just can’t make myself put everything aside to focus on your feelings when you don’t seem worried at all about mine. I don’t have to ask your side of things because you literally just told me.” She sighed, tugging at a blade of grass and twisting it in her fingers. “…Not to mention that you’re insulting me to my face and painting the guy I like as some kind of mass-murderer, so, yeah. Not super-thrilled to hear all about the World According to Marissa right now” she muttered. “As far as what’s important to me? What’s actually important to me is the people that I care about, who also care about me. Who show me that they care about me, so I can do the same for them.” The expressive young woman, who’d probably exhausted nearly every conceivable emotion on the checklist for today, braced her elbow on her thigh and lowered her forehead into her hand. Surely, Mari wanted the same things she did, but why did it seem so much more complicated with her? Why was it so freaking difficult to like someone who should have been impossible not to like? “I don’t know how to be your friend, Marissa,” she admitted despairingly. “I’m obviously not good at it, so… maybe we should just focus on the training for now.” "Hold up," Marissa raised a finger to pause the proceedings. "Autumn, real talk, this is not about me. I'm telling you these things because I'm worried about you. Read between the lines. Look, if I'm wrong, then great, I'm wrong, but if I'm not... if there is even the slightest bit of a chance that you could be in danger because of that psychopath, then you will not go forward only to find out that I knew something and didn't tell you." "I'm not good at this either, okay," her tone slowed and she sighed as admitting her failings wasn't something she was used to. "I'm used to people worshipping me, fawning over me and catering to my every whim because they love the notion of possibly being seen with me or making it into my little inner circle. Actual interpersonal peopling with no manipulation or personal gain for myself isn't exactly on my resume under 'additional skills'. I know I'm a bit... intense-" "Pain in the ass." "Intense," she glared at her best friend. "But I'm trying to warn you of possible side effects of that bitter horse pill you're so eager to swallow." She smirked, leaving Autumn to decide if that was innuendo or not. "I'm not trying to hurt you Autumn, I'm trying to help you." Her face scrunched into an expression that warned she was chewing back bile. "Oh. Oh, god. I just quoted Gandalf, in an actual conversation... oh, I'm going to be sick." “Riiight,” the young vitakinetic replied slowly as Marissa recovered her composure, brows knitting together as she rested her chin on her hand. “’Kay. We’ll just… revisit the Gandalf thing later. For now, if you say you’re trying to help, you’re trying to help.” Friend rules. Even if Marissa didn’t exactly fit Autumn’s ideal concept of friendship, the wicked queen in training had sort of conceded, and she ought to do the same. Friends were supposed to listen to each other and that much, at least, she should be able to manage. Just… later, maybe. With a sigh, she lifted her head, running a hand back through her already-disheveled hair. “Okay. So.” Autumn shifted her weight a little, straightening as she scooted closer to every high school boy’s dream. “It’s probably going to be harder now, to be honest. You’re supposed to be relaxed and focused. Kind of a Zen thing. So, you’re gonna have to trust me on this. Give me your hands.” The redhead extended her own, palms up, and flexed her fingers. "Oh, I can totally relax. You should come by and do yoga with me sometime," and just like that the young sociopath was back to being herself. She tried, and spoke her piece on the matter. If Autumn went on ahead and got herself eaten by Jason, well, that was just Autumn's fault at this point. Better Autumn than Marissa, after all, the Queen of Shelly did have a Homecoming to plan after all. Being dead would certainly get in the way of that and it's not like Autumn was really doing anything with her life anyway. "See?" With a smile and whip of her hair to put it over her shoulder, Marissa beamed an all-is-forgiven smile and presented Autumn with her hands. No sooner did the freckled redhead accept them did she find Marissa spinning her hands over to look at her nails. "No. No, that won't do. He might be a psycho, but I can't allow my bestie to have a boyfriend while she has bad nails. What did you even do here?" She presented one of Autumn's own hands up for viewing. "Do you just claw on random things like a cat? What even is this? Okay, we're getting you an emery board, like, pronto." “Yes,” Autumn replied, closing her eyes. “Exactly like a cat.” …and then immediately went pink again as the potential subject of said clawing appeared in her mind’s eye, a surge of warmth creeping up into her cheeks that she prayed would be attributed to the sun, her heated exchange with Marissa, or a combination thereof. Glancing at her partner through half-opened lids, she tugged lightly on the perfectly manicured hands clasping hers. “Shut your eyes.” With a perfect little moue of displeasure, her self-proclaimed bestie complied, and the two girls sat there for a moment in silence. “Okay, what exactly am I supposed to be doing right now? Is there a chant? Do we light some candles? What is this?” the more cynical young woman asked somewhat tartly, already beginning the process of mentally getting on with her day. “This is sort of a different version of how I do it. I don’t know if it’ll help you, but we’ll give it a shot.” Autumn’s voice was notably softer as she squeezed Marissa’s hands gently, just a light pressure to draw her attention. “So, for just a second, just focus on our hands, where we’re touching. The temperature. The tension. The texture of the skin. …And as you concentrate on that, just sort of noticing all those little details, you’ll start to feel the blood moving through your fingers. Maybe even in mine. Just this slight, constant pulse.” Even after her experience with Cade, the concept of ‘intimacy’ was an unfamiliar one to the younger Jauntsen, and holding hands for any length of time with Shelly’s very own wilderness girl was not exactly an item on her bucket list. But… it also wasn’t awful, either, as long as she didn’t think too much about it. Unlike some of the guys she’d known, Autumn’s hands weren’t hard, or clammy, or sweaty, and they weren’t trembling at the mere prospect of touching her skin- certainly a plus. As the red-haired teen continued to speak, to quietly coach her through the process, some of the initial awkwardness of actual human contact passed, and Marissa realized she could feel it. Where her fingers rested against Autumn’s wrists, there was a subtle rhythm: the faint beat of her own heart, and an answering pulse in the freckled hands grasping hers, a tiny, almost intangible sensation amid the waves of other stimuli. It felt… “It’s kind of… warm, isn’t it?” Autumn murmured, a little smile audible in her voice. “And once you can isolate that feeling from all the noise around you, from the wind tickling your neck, from all the colors and patterns behind your eyelids, from the weight of your own body in space, you’ll notice it everywhere. Running up through your arms, your legs, your stomach, your chest, your face- everything, carrying all that warmth and energy and life to every cell, every atom, waking up every nerve like billions of tiny stars in the dark…” She shifted uncomfortably in her seat as Autumn's vitakinetic energy surged through her. Then, Marissa wasn't sure if it was her, or Autumn, but there was a sudden electric jolt that seemed to spark from the center of her chest and beam outward. Every muscle suddenly contracted as every neuron exploded to life with a sudden awakening or raw power. It seemed as if the attunement had jump started something within her and things just made a bit more sense. She could feel her (the) world open up all around her and suddenly she was akin to an ant as her heart and mind expanded with the feeling of all living things around her. She felt life, ever-so-briefly, as Autumn did and it simultaneously made her want to break down in tears at the beauty of it all and run and hide as everything she'd come to know of the world suddenly seemed false and wrong as she bore witness to simple, beautiful truth. The dark-haired beauty's shoulders spasmed as a ticklish shiver jolted down her neck and spine. She reflexively gripped Autumn's hands as the rush and fear seemed to be nothing she wanted to be rid of anytime soon. It had been a matter of tacit agreement amongst most of the teens that a person’s unique energy, their Shine, was somehow intrinsically related to their personality or character. Although Marissa’s revelatory experience overwhelmed her awareness of Autumn in that regard, the reverse was not also true. The affluent brunette was a seething, swirling core of shimmering radiance contained within an aesthetically flawless frame, a seemingly boundless font of energy that- having been tapped- rushed forth in a great torrent through the link forged by their clasped hands. What Autumn “saw” through that connection was not at all like the others: a luminescence simultaneously less brilliant and more intensely focused than theirs, and somehow different in both tone and texture. Nevertheless, it was Shine, was potential and possibility and- “Holy shit,” Autumn breathed as her awareness of all the manifold lives around her swelled and sharpened. She could feel, even at this distance, the soreness in Kat’s slender limbs, the fatigue in Devin’s muscles, the bruising and inflammation in Marissa’s- oh. Well, that did explain a few things, at least, she noted distractedly as the ever-widening circle of her consciousness stretched further, reached beyond the boundaries of the farm and the fields nearby. There was so much, a dizzying array of humans and animals, insects, plants, the numbers and varieties multiplying exponentially as her capacity to sense them expanded with the influx of energy: breeding and breathing and being born, being devoured, bursting into new growth. It was impossible to concentrate on any one thing because just as quickly as she could acknowledge it a thousand more tiny flickering sparks took its place. Within her veins, beneath the surface of her skin, heat and blood and light inscribed the pattern of life’s beginning, its flowering and ending, an endless ring of humming sanguine threads edged in gold. That was hers. The acorn and the oak and the axe all belonged to her, and she knew- for that brief and blinding moment that spanned an age in her mind- what that meant. She could feel the energy thrumming in her body, but it didn't feel right. Wherever Autumn's mind had gone to, Marissa's didn't follow. As Autumn's perceptions grew wider and wider Marissa felt her own grow dimmer and dimmer as the vibrant redhead took more and more of her. "Autumn." She said calmly. Muscles fatigued and her head grew light as she struggled to stay awake and alert. A lethargy slowly crept through her bones and muscles, imploring her to simply relax and let herself drift off... "Autumn!" She managed to yank her hands away, severing Autumn's connection to whatever power she was tapping deep within her. They both fell back, their breathing heavy. Marissa's eyes felt heavy and she felt tired and fatigued. She took several deep breaths. "Damn. Oh, shit..." she panted like she was out of breath. "The hell was that? I feel like I'm sixty and just tried to run a marathon..." She rolled about to allow herself a view of Autumn. "Hey... you okay?" “Yeah. Yeah, I’m good.” Squinting up at the sky, Autumn just lay back on the grass for a long moment. It tickled, brushing the sides of her face as the breeze swirled around them and lifted the strands of fiery copper that had worked loose, but any secrets it had harbored were already swiftly fading in her mind. She had touched… something, with Marissa’s help. For just an instant things made sense in ways they never had before: where she fit, what she was supposed to do. What she could do, if she really wanted to- maybe not right now, sure, but one day. Even if she couldn’t remember it now, she’d known right? Even if it was crazy, and just for a second. And… It made sense that if she could know, and had known, she could do it again. Couldn’t she? The muscles of her abdomen tightened as the redhead leaned up, pressing her palms into the warm earth. “That,” she added, regarding Marissa with laughing eyes and a slow, awestruck grin, “was totally wicked. How’re you feeling?” "Yeah," Marissa sat up, leaning on one arm. "It was, uh, different." She wasn't much for sharing. Whatever that jolt was she felt and whatever that energy was that now loudly banged on that door deep within her, she wasn't about to tell Autumn and end up in the 'crazy as Jason' social tax bracket. Also, she wasn't sure what Autumn was so stoked about. The girl seemed like she was a five year-old who got her hands on ice cream drizzled in chocolate and sprinkled in gummy bears then dipped in pure cane sugar. She attempted to stand and her world began to spin. What was ground twisted and swirled and became sky, only to become ground again. She dropped back down to one knee. "Woah. I... I think I need to sit for a bit. Is it like this all the time, or just on the first try?" She rolled onto her back, heedless of the grass and dirt (which was a major red flag that something was off). She sprawled out and just lay there, eyes closed looking up at the sky. "I feel like I need a nap..." Leaning forward, Autumn scooped up the unopened water bottle she’d grabbed on the way out and rubbed it idly against the frayed denim at her knee. “Here.” She shifted over, offering Marissa her shoulder and carefully helping the other girl achieve a slightly more vertical position. “Try sitting up. I’m not sure what just happened, but, uh… No,” she admitted thoughtfully. “I don’t think it was ever like that.” As the scarlet-clad socialite took the bottle with a mumbled ‘thanks’ and drank quietly, the blue eyes that had regarded her with enthusiasm a moment before narrowed slightly in concern. “Definitely not for me, anyway. That was…” She paused, wondering if there were actually any words to adequately describe the sensation. “Wild. Maybe just sit here for a minute, ‘til everyone else gets finished playing.” She groaned as she sat up, nodding. She didn't bother brushing out the dead grass clinging to her hair. "Yeah. Probably not a bad idea. It's like... I don't feel bad, or sick... just, tired. Like dealing with my brother when he's one of his unusually annoying moods..." She drank the water and then relaxed, resting her head on her bestie's shoulder. "Well, was it good for you?" She fluttered her beautiful lashes at the redhead as she snuck in a grin. “Hm… I’ll give it three stars. You’re new at this, so there’s still plenty of room for improvement.” As Marissa turned, staring up at her in incredulous wonder, Autumn tried her very best to maintain a straight face. Not being made of the same stoic stuff as Jason or Cade, however, she felt her cheeks going red with suppressed laughter, and the corners of her mouth twitching. Maybe it was the mind-altering experience and that faint, lingering sensation of the physical link they’d shared, or maybe just mental exhaustion, but for just a moment she was reminded of sitting with Jase outside his house- when she’d hugged him- and the way that simple, mundane human gesture had subtly shifted the trajectory of their interactions afterward. “I have notes,” she added, affecting an air of dramatic sobriety as she looped one arm around her first new friend’s back and the two of them sat and watched the others. “We’ll talk later.”
  4. 2 points
    Courtney strode up to Devin with a sultry sway in her hips and devilish smirk. "Looks like it's you and me, Blinky." "I prefer Jaunt," Devin smirked back. "If the others got a hold of 'Blinky' I'd be doomed." Like every field exercise at school they all paired off and separated themselves from the other groups so they had space all to themselves. They sat in the grass, crossing their legs and then looked at one another awkwardly. "Sooo..." The redhead smiled, darting her eyes around as if she waiting on Devin to incant some ancient wisdom that would make all this make sense. "You know, if you wanted to get me alone for a picnic, all you had to do was ask." "Focus now," he grinned at her. He held out his hands, waiting for her accept them. "Flirt later. So, I've only done this once, but, it's pretty simple once you get the premise. We touch, focus our abilities in a sort of link. We attune, is the word that everyone seems to use." She accepted his hands and gently tightened. "So, flirting is on the table then. Good to know." She winked and smiled that crimson smile of devilry of hers. "So, we hold hands and focus? How does that work? Focus on what?" "My mind is never quiet." He said honestly. "I've always been in constant motion, full of energy, ready to tackle anything. So, I don't know exactly. I think that's why it's hard for you read my thoughts or get feedback on me. The last time I did this, we just kind of relaxed and tried to quiet our minds. Cass showed me how, but, I'm not really a good teacher. Just, quiet your mind and focus on... well, everyone else. Listen, don't see. Reach out with that part of your abilities that perceives things no one else can see." "Like, people's minds?" She asked. "Yeah, I guess. If that's what you have, go for it." He replied. She canted her head and offered a crimson smile at him as she mulled over a new question for him. "What do you 'see'? Like we all apparently have these perceptions, but, no one does what you can do. So, what do you see?" "Everything," he said calmly, not quite sure how to describe it. "I see how things relate and connect. Distances and trajectories, angles and slopes. I know myself in relation to everything around me and how I impact the world in which I exist." "How Zen Buddhist." She smirked. He shrugged. "Sounds deeper than it is, but I think I'm the only one of the Fellowship who revels in my power. Everyone else is full of doubts, or afraid of them or sees them as nothing more than another science project to be understood." "And," she squeezed his hands gently. "What are they to you?" "Me." He shrugged again. "They are who I am. I will not be ashamed of any part of me. My personality, my body, my way of thinking. I may not be perfect, or always right, or even really annoying sometimes, but I refuse to be ashamed of anything that makes me, because, well, I'm awesome. I love me." She flushed slightly and giggled as his sincere admission sounded like an arrogant boast. "I wish I had your confidence. I just wish people weren't so fake, you know? I see it so clearly now. Who is lying to me, who really likes me, who doesn't... it... I don't know, it hurts. I actually always thought Marissa hated me... I was really shocked to see that she does kinda care under all that mean." "We're all just stupid and confused." Devin said. "I've been all over the world and the more places I see, I've come to realize one, stupid little thing we all tend to forget. Everyone is pretty much the same. Simple people trying to do the best they can with what they have. Kids pick on other kids. Teenagers are lost confused. Adults forget what fun is and hate life. People aren't fake, Courtney, they're just afraid. Afraid that the person they are isn't good enough for you. Cut them some slack. Well, most of them, anyway. Some people do just suck, after all." She knew he was trying to be sweet. It didn't take a genius to see that, but he was, in his own way, charming when he wanted to be. She did feel like fish out of water amongst the Fellowship and it's apparent closeness. They really were like one big, dysfunctional family all struggling with the weight of their gifts and conflicting personalities and past traumas. Cook had promised her all manner of things yet only returned her efforts with ridicule and chastisement. Her own insecurities were too many and varied, coupled with her insatiable libido she'd always felt like some sort of freak no matter where she found friends... and now, she'd learned that most people were not the friends they claimed to be. She tried not to express her feelings as she was sitting there, holding Devin's hands. With practiced discipline, she hid her crazy, and got comfortable, still holding his hands she tried to quiet her mind. She felt better after him say that, more relaxed and more comfortable being there arond all the other freaks and geeks who were thrust into the unfortunate situation of having to save the world from old spirits of evil or monsters or... whatever. Then, it happened. Her mind simply expanded, was the best way she could explain it to herself. Her best comparison was it felt like she was suddenly underwater as the sounds of the world muted and dulled. What she could hear though were the faint whispers of... everyone? Well, everyone except Jase, of course. All of their surface thoughts sudden;y came pouring into her minds and it was almost too much for her to bear. She winced and her face scrunched in pain as the she remembered the first few months of realizing she had abilities. The flood of voices almost drove her insane. Hold on to it. Devin's voice was stern and filled with concern in her mind, cutting through the static. She twitched. Devin? Y-you're in my head! No. You're in mine. He smirked although both their eyes were closed. Distance and space my little slice of weird. So, when we link up, I can expand the area and distance your powers can reach. Instead of a few minds around you, how about the entire school? Devious. She smirked also. It's too much though, too many heads to sort through and everyone has sooooo much baggage! It's about focus. Devin opened his eyes and looked at her. His eyes shimmered with a misty, glimmering purple sheen, like violet oil on water. He spoke aloud. "I woke up in the back yard a few times after getting my powers. Kept reflexively teleporting, it was hilarious. Your powers are a part of you. Like walking or talking, that are not your heart, or your brain, they are voluntary and will respond to you. That includes everything that goes in it, like people's voices. You are the one in control, Courtney." "Gray sweatpants? Seriously?" "Relax. Focus on the now. Talk to her later, sort the mess out. For now, focus on the training session." "Oh, goody, we can get this thing sorted finally. I can't believe she went off on her like that. Totally uncalled for." "My back hurts. Those nails of her are killer." "She seemed nice. Every said she was so mean." "..." "Lona leaves tomorrow. So what if they're holding hands? He has a type. There's no way he'd ever go out with her, it's just training..." "Wow." Courtney chuckled and smiled. "Apparently Marissa is on everyone's mind at the moment. Pretty much pissed the whole group off." Devin laughed. "Yeah, that's her super power, that and appropriately timed theme music." Really wish she'd smile more often, it's beautiful. Courtney's cheeks flushed a shade of crimson and she bashfully slid a stray strand of hair back behind her ear as more reflex than it needing an actual home... She didn't hear that, right?
  5. 2 points
    "You brought the lube?" Marissa pantomimed clapping her hands with glee. "Girlfriend, now you're here the party can get started!" Then she smiled at the blonde more normally, a warm and somewhat un-Marissa smile. "Glad you made it, Allen." "So wait..." Tawny frowned cutely, looking from Marissa to Devin (never a hard thing for her to do, especially with him in that expensive, well-fitting and above all tight workout gear). "Who's the telekinetic?" Devin, halfway through some preliminary stretches, straightened and grinned at her. "Oh, you're gonna love this." he chuckled, indicating towards the farmhouse where a slender figure was crossing the intervening space in a steady, ground-eating lope. "Oh." Was all Tawny could say as Jason approached. She didn't really know him except by reputation, and that was a cross between mysterious and sketchy. Drug dealer, autistic kid who hangs around with nerds, and then the rumors about the hay hook at the county fair. She had always frowned at Devin and his 'buddies' picking on Jason and Sean, believing (as she did) that Devin was better than that. And now, with him actually seeming to bear out her belief in him, there were all-new facts and concepts to process. One of which was currently approaching the group dressed in a clean white sleeveless t-shirt and grey sweatpants. Jason was not as built as the other guys. Devin had that sleek, sculpted gymnast's form, and Cade looked like a solid young oak tree. Jase, by comparison, was angular and lean, his muscles like rawhide and whipcord over a frame of coat-hangers, with no spare flesh in evidence. Despite that, there was a symmetry to his structure that was apparent now he wasn't wearing his habitual shapeless too-large shirts and combat pants, and a grace to his movements that was understated and efficient. Like watching a cat stalk, Tawny found herself thinking, and it wasn't altogether a pleasant comparison. Perhaps it was the way his eyes fixed on her as she looked at him: not unfriendly, but unsettling regardless. Jason shifted his gaze around the others as he came up to where they waited, his eyes lingering on Autumn as she shucked her hoodie and tied it's sleeves around her waist, smiling back at him a little and trying not to think about the still-present faint bruise at the point where his collarbone met his throat and the faint red mark on the other side from it. Her composure was not helped by the faint smile he gave her, either, which might have been his design for all she knew as her cheeks crimsoned very slightly even as her smile widened. "Alright." Jase said calmly as he regarded everyone. "Not all of you were here for the last session. Some things the newcomers need to practice - the fundamentals, as it were. Starting with feeling Shine, or the Light, within one another, then tuning in to it. With that, we've found, we're capable of a whole lot more than we are when operating alone." He shifted his gaze to Marissa and Cade, his expression one of considering them. "You two... your Shine is different. For some reason, those of us with psionic abilities haven't been able to sync up with you. At least, not yet. We can try anyway - perhaps today there will be a breakthrough." "Yeah, great." Devin nodded, balancing on one foot as he craned his right leg up, then switching. "So how do we proceed, Yoda?" Jason considered everyone, pale green eyes narrowing as he pondered for a moment. "Pair off to start. Someone who knows how the tuning works with someone who doesn't, wherever possible. Tawny, you're with me." His cold stare studied the sweet-faced girl as she shifted on her feet reluctantly and looked at Devin, who nodded encouragement. "He'll be cool, Tee." And Devin meant it. Whatever Marissa felt about him, whatever else Jason was or was not, he wouldn't hurt Tawny. He'd told Devin he'd help her, so he would. Not because he was scared of Devin's reprisal, or because he cared about Tawny particularly, at least at this stage of knowing her. He would help because he had said he would help, and that was all. Tawny looked doubtful, but moved to follow Jason to a clear patch of grass to one side as the others looked at one another and started to work at pairing off. Jason sat down, folding his legs and indicating the space opposite him. Taking a moment to tie her hair back with a scrunchie from her wrist, Tawny nervously sat and likewise folded her legs, looking doubtfully at Jason's outstretched, palm-up hands. "Relax." he said softly, his expression losing some of its frost as he took in her discomfort. "Place your hands in mine." Complying, Tawny felt his fingers lightly close around hers. "Okay. Now what?" she asked, trying not to sound as nervous as she felt. "Close your eyes." He watched as her eyes closed, and went on. "You know how to feel objects and movement around you. You can feel the wind without it touching your skin. You know where the pebbles are nearby, can touch them without touching them, correct?" Tawny nodded, listening to his calm voice. "So now look beyond that. Feel where we touch - my skin, my hands. Then focus. Block out those other senses a little, and you will become aware of a light that you don't see, a warmth you don't feel." Moments passed as Tawny concentrated, her brow furrowing as she tried to follow his directions until, with a start that he felt through their clasped hands, she made a soft sound of surprise. "I feel it!" she whispered. The energy was cool, bright, but focused and controlled like sunlight through a prism. "Is that you?" "That's my Shine." Jason's voice came to her ears. She felt the energy brush up against what she became aware was her own, a warm radiating glow that suffused the space around her. "And that is yours. Now, gradually expand that sense. You can feel the others nearby, Shining as well." "I can." Tawny's voice took on a note of wonder. "Not as clearly, but... Oh wow." A smile creased her face. "This is awesome. I can feel like a bunch of warm lights nearby." Jason smiled a little at her reaction, watching as her hazel eyes opened and studied him. "Do we all feel different up close?" she asked. "When tuned like this, through touch, yes. You'll find that everyone has a different feel. Perhaps it's shaped by their personality. Or perhaps our personality is an outgrowth of our Shine." He said with a faint wry smile. "I'm still working that out." "Chicken or the egg?" Tawny asked, not so intimidated now as she felt his calm, focused radiance. He nodded. "Okay, cool. So... What does this let us do?" Jason's smile widened a fraction more. "A lot of different things, depending on who you tune with. But I've never synced with someone with my gift before. So lets find out, hmm?"
  6. 2 points
    "We're getting off topic, focus." Marissa smiled her diva, do-no-wrong smile. "Like everyone, you are doing your damnedest with a situation that was, quite literally, dropped in our laps. My brother is all I have," Cassie detected a strange pause akin to a lump in one's throat. "...besides you guys. I get bitchy when I'm worried. Forgives?" As Cassie and Marissa's conversation was cut short by the interruption of her brother and the now the horde of mouth-breathing barbarians that were somehow selected to protect the world, she touched Cassie's arm and reassured her, "We'll revisit this later. Take your time, collect your thoughts. I'll leave you be." Cassandra nodded at Marissa numbly, still trying to get her brain re-oriented. Somewhere in the back of her head she felt like that was the point...keep her off-balance, keep her guessing. But yet another feeling told her that not everything was calculated, not even for Marissa. And weirder still, those two feelings were somehow not incompatible, even though they seemed like they should be. That Marissa was both a gigantic bitch and a scared, sensitive girl, at the same time. Like a photon of light, she was a particle and a wave...it all depended on how she was being measured. She saw everyone emerging from the barn and making their way across towards the fields, but she decided to take the scenic route before joining them. This was the first time Cassie had realized that she shouldn't be going with them to meet the Dark. She'd always assumed she would be, but the harsh glare of that epiphany, when she realized how...pointless her contributions had been, burned that assumption away. Oh, knowing about the Town Hall and Cooper and Enterich would be great later on, but none of it mattered at all for keeping herself, or anyone else, alive in the beast's belly. And If she went across not only would she be powerless to help, but her presence would actually make things harder on everyone else. They'd have to keep her safe while simultaneously trying to fight. Fuck. Cass wandered back into the barn, idly playing with the idea of sampling some of Jason's stock. As long as she paid him, he wouldn't mind right? And some goddamn medication would help right now. Her brain was full of daggers, and she couldn't pick up a train of thought without slicing herself open on it. Anything to dull those edges seemed welcome. She figured the cuts might be there still, but they wouldn't...matter so much. Then again, that's exactly why she'd broken up with Dylan, wasn't it? Because that one time she'd thought about her dad getting murdered and had just kind of shrugged it off...and then suddenly realized it after the fact? If that could lose the edge, if that could feel like it didn't matter anymore...what next? That her friends would be risking their lives in some kind of supernatural hellhole? That her dad was alive and brainwashed and basically enslaved? It hurt to know those things and to feel helpless...but her answer now had to be the same as it had been before, right? Hell, right now more than ever. If she hadn't been afraid to feel helpless BEFORE she had magic superpowers, then where the fuck did she get off feeling it now? There had to be a way to use this! Or...maybe there was more she could do? Cassie knew that their powers were still...evolving somehow. There'd been a time she could barely sneak a peek at the world through her powers without getting her brain blasted open. Now she was gallivanting all over entire timelines. There had to be way to USE this. She just had no idea how! Fortunately she didn't have to do it alone. Cassandra went to one of the barn windows, all dirty and smudged in the way that ground-floor windows inevitably became out in the boonies, and saw the distant stain of light from where the Fellowship had gone. She still felt a little hollow tug away from that light. The ache of a voice whispering that she didn't belong with them and should just leave before they finally kicked her out. But Autumn was really nice, and she'd been there for her. Jase was mysterious and dangerous and alluring. Devin was funny and chummy and catastrophically immature. And Cade and Tawny and Kat...she still needed to get to know all of them better. And Marissa? Well...she had an apology to accept, and an apology to make. So. If they wanted to kick her out, then Cass wouldn't be making it easy on them by self-deporting. Sooner or later something would have to give. Their tolerance, or her own imposter syndrome. Cassie wiped her eyes dry at last on the hem of her shirt and left the barn to go up and join the others where they were all in their sweats and workout clothes. "Hey guys...shit, am I late for the orgy? Please tell me I didn't buy three gallons of lube for nothing."
  7. 2 points
    Cade watched Cass get away with veritable murder when she blew up on Marissa. Still, when Marissa went to "fix" it, he knew she meant it, and actually smiled. His view of her was definitely colored by how he felt about her, but Marissa had actually been nicer to everyone since she became involved with all of this. The mention of the bracelets, that there were more of them it seemed, and that they were meant to be protection was surprising. They'd been entrusted to Autumn, and honestly, Cade had no issue with that. She'd struck him as someone who was trustworthy, so things would probably work out. He'd set the food down, and grabbed one of the bottles of water, his own gear bag slung over his shoulder. "Guess it's time to go get started. I hope the targets are still here." It wouldn't be anything to make new ones, but the last ones had been done with Sean's help, so they were really precise. They were targets to challenge his abilities, only just large enough to throw a knife or baseball through, a standard almost dartboard like target for distance training, and some that could be strung from branches, or if Jason was willing, could be levitated and moved around randomly, to test his situational awareness, and reaction speeds while also testing his reflex accuracy. When Tawny looked at him "Targets, for like guns and stuff?" Cade shook his head. "No not anything that makes that kind of noise, besides, trying to get out of the house with any of the guns there is next to impossible, and should I actually manage, Well there'd be hell to pay when I got home. Best to save that for an emergency where I actually need them. Instead I bring other stuff. I actually broke my bow last time, I've still got to go to Great Falls and get a new one, I've just put it off. I'm really really accurate, pretty much with anything. That and I can tame wild animals." She just looked at him. "Yeah I know, not the biggest showy powers, but like Cass said, they're what I've got, and I'll be damned if I don't at least master them." Cade gave her a small smile. "Besides, I can make my ferrets actually listen to me. To me at least, that's pretty cool, having obedient ferrets." It was this small mundane thing, and probably damn silly to everyone else. Still, given how ferrets generally were anything but obedient, and that the others had seen him with both a wild squirrel after an hour, and within seconds of meeting a traumatized Smilodon, he managed to both not get eaten by it and calm it down, there was definitely something to Cade's ability there. "So you're like Hawkeye and the Crocodile Hunter?" Cade nodded. "Yeah. pretty much."
  8. 2 points
    "I think we're all ready to stretch our wings a little." Jason nodded agreement with Autumn's last sentiment as he stepped forwards. "There is one last matter to bring up, though." He looked at his copper-tressed girlfriend, his expression calmly serious. "The bracelets." "Bracelets?" Courtney asked as Autumn's freckled features took on a pensive, troubled look. "They were entrusted to Autumn." Jason's eyes didn't leave her face as he spoke to the room. "Without going into extensive details, we learned from the Blackfeet that the Dark has been here for a long, long time. That the bracelets were handed to them by... someone else... to be passed down safely until one day, 'warriors with the Dawning Light' arose." He indicated everyone with a sweep of his hand, still looking at Autumn. "That's us. The Shine - the Dawning Light. That source of energy we can all touch - theoretically the subquantum strata of reality." "So what do they do?" Cade asked, intrigued. The others, from Kat to Tawny, also leaned forward. Devin spoke up. "They're protection." He held up his wrist, showing the old-looking bright-copper-ish metal. "I got pulled into the Dark's realm - the Land of Upside Down Thunder - when I teleported once. Someone gave me this, and it's not happened since. I dunno what else it does, but I feel safer with it on, lemme tell you." "The Dark wants to devour all life - but most of all, those with Shine." Jason stated. "The bracelets are meant as protection. That's all we could find out - just 'protection'. Given Devin's experience, I think it's a good idea we all be issued one." He studied Autumn as she glanced away, plainly conflicted. "They were entrusted to you." he said softly. "We need all the advantages we can muster, but the choice is ultimately yours." Autumn frowned, her brow crinkling unhappily. The problem with Jason Effing Bannon's effing logic was.. well.. it was logical. She couldn't help but feel she was giving away family heirlooms - in some cases to people who had actively been making her life miserable before a week or two ago, in other cases to people she didn't know from Adam - but of course, that wasn't exactly true. The journals were heirlooms. Her grandfather's house was an heirloom. Her red hair was an heirloom. The bracelets... were a trust, passed to her grandfather by his friend for safekeeping. She wondered if most of the Fellowship even cared about the family aspect here, how deep her roots ran in the soil of Shelly, how important it was to have the bond with the Blackfeet. Finally, her sea-blue eyes met his. "Fine." she said, nodding, her lips tight. "I'll handle it." Jason studied her, taking in the expression and taut body language, and his head tilted slightly to one side in silent question. Autumn took a deep breath, and reminded herself that he had said it was her decision. Even with all of this going on, even with the hand of destiny or fate saying that the bracelets were for all of them, he'd still said it was her choice. And she knew enough about her impossible boyfriend to know that he meant it. If she said no, he'd back her decision. Probably. She smiled faintly, shaking her head as she regarded him. "Seriously, it's fine." she assured him in a more normal tone, then glanced at the others. "I'll take care of it." she said, looking back at him and seeing him smile a little, the sunlight from the open windows causing his eyes to glitter like iridescent green ice. "Then let's head outside." Jason said. "Grab a bottle of water, anyone that wants one. I'm going over to the house to get changed, then I'll catch you up." "Where are we going?" Tawny asked, a little nervously. Devin had helped her a lot with playing with her powers - but now she would have to try it in front of the others, one of whom Devin had said shared her abilities, only stronger. She wondered who it would be? Please God in heaven, don't let it be Marissa or Jason. Perhaps it would be Cade? He was nice. "Field behind the barn." Jason told her. "The others know the way." "Hol' up." Devin said. "I asked Marissa to bring my workout bag. It cool if I change over at the house too, Jaybee?" At Jason's nod, Devin gave a thumbs up... and disappeared. He reappeared downstairs, the movement of air causing the leaves of nearby plants to rustle, and looked around for his sister and Cassie. "Training time, sis." he announced, opening his palm and extending it. "You bring my bag?" "Back seat." Was Marissa's only reply as she fished in her purse and tossed the keys for the Mercedes to Devin, who grinned and disappeared in a soft 'pop' of imploded air as the sounds of scraping chairs and moving feet above reached Cassie and Marissa's ears.
  9. 2 points
    "God damn it." Devin fumed. As he stood Marissa did as well, gesturing with her hand for him to sit back down. She looked at everyone and sighed. "I got it. This one's on me. I should fix it." The look her brother (and possibly a few others) gave her was skepticism mingled with a pinch of confusion. Marissa never felt herself accountable for her own actions, let alone was willing to make amends for them. "She's right. All I'll do is go home and pick my school outfits for next week while you're all off getting killed. I'll go talk to her." The soft thumping of her heels on the wooden floor grew softer and softer and softer as she descended the stairs to look for Cassie. She wasn't hard to spot among Dexter Bannon's murder menagerie of convenient plant-based poisons and sedatives. Yeah, he was a totally normal, one hundred percent date-able, non-shady sort of guy. Sneaking was next to impossible in Marissa's choice of everyday footwear and at her approach Cassandra had already rolls her eyes and prepared herself for round two. "Cassie?" Marissa said softly, like she didn't want to disturb her after the tapping of her hiking heels had announced her presence ten paces back. "Let me guess, you're sore and cranky?" Cassie huffed. "No, no, well, yes," she amended with a diplomatic finger raised in point of order to the ceiling. "But, no. You are right. I don't belong here. I don't have powers, I can't fight or protect anything, I just sort of... tear down walls and burn bridges. I'm scared, Cassandra. Just like you I show up to these and it's just a reminder that we're ticking down a clock to someone not making it home. I honestly don't even know why I'm here because it scares the hell out of me every time we do one of these things." She closed the distance between herself and the frustrated blonde. "Thank you," she said calmly. Cassandra wasn't expecting that and simply looked at her with a perplexed look. "For doing everything you can to keep my brother safe. I didn't quite do the math until you pointed it out up there-" "-and you blew up on me for no reason at all?" Cassie glared with an expression that demanded an apology. "We're getting off topic, focus." Marissa smiled her diva, do-no-wrong smile. "Like everyone, you are doing your damnedest with a situation that was, quite literally, dropped in our laps. My brother is all I have," Cassie detected a strange pause akin to a lump in one's throat. "...besides you guys. I get bitchy when I'm worried. Forgives?"
  10. 2 points
    Cassandra stood there, nodding her head as the twins had their say, then she said, "Yeah, you know what? Mari? You don't get to say anything, to anyone, about them being useless. You may not value having information, but you won't be one of the ones jumping off a fucking cliff with their eyes closed. You'll go back home and worry about which shoes to wear with that blouse. So be as harsh as you fucking want." She looked at Devin then. "And you WILL be jumping off the cliff, so yeah...I want your eyes open. I want you to be as safe as I can make you. And okay! I get that being able to SEE THINGS isn't as cool as teleporting around, and it doesn't kick as much ass as making things fly around, or burning shit up...but this is it! It's what I have! Fucking sue me for..." Cass shook her head and shrugged away from Autumn. "Whatever. I can't help you, you know? I mean, what am I going to do against the Dark? Take photos? Write nasty editorials? I've SEEN what you'll be jumping into the middle of! Up close! And I don't know if we...if we're ready! We need every advantage we can get!" With that Cassandra seemed to visibly deflate and she headed for the stairs down. "And yeah...I know. Haven't found one. So I guess I don't get to call anyone useless either. Excuse me, I need some air."
  11. 2 points
    "That little boy got torn apart, Marissa!" Cassandra said loudly, angrily. She fixed Marissa with eyes that were reddened with tears, but by no means despairing. "The tree crushed him, and tore him up, and sucked him in, and that's on Enterich. Cooper's gone, but Enterich's still here, and it's on him." She shook her head. "Not to mention, if Crossroads is capable of all that shit you're saying, if they're listening to our phones, watching our computers...and if Enterich really is part of it...then we need to know. Not just assume! Because he's working WITH the Dark. He's working FOR the Dark. And everything they find out about us, all the spying they're doing...all of that is getting passed straight on to whatever Cody's turned into. They even probably know by now that we're coming, and they're going to want to turn our ambush into a trap." "We have to stop that from happening, or we'll just feed the tree even more. We have to know what Enterich knows about us, and we have to find out what he knows about the Dark, or we're walking into our worst nightmare. All we have to do is find him. Once we do that, we act. Fast...efficient. I can spot him, Devin can take Jase there, and before anyone knows what's happened he's under our control." Cassandra wiped her eyes again and scowled. "I'm not just letting him walk away from this."
  12. 2 points
    "It was the guy we saw, Devin," Cassandra said, stepping seamlessly into the conversational pause Autumn left for her. "The one that the cephalo-whatever got, the night of the party. Back when all of this first started. Captain Cooper...air force." She took a deep breath. "I looked back in time, using the room and the shoe for anchors. I saw the guy carrying in little boy. He was really upset and talking to himself...some of it was crazy talk, but I could make some things out. Anyway, he...he put the boy down by the big drawing on the wall in the main room there, and there was some kind of incantation. I don't know what language, it sounded really weird. The boy was tied up, awake..." Cassie had to pause again there as her throat closed up for a second. "...at first nothing happened. Cooper was like...I think he was almost relieved. But it didn't last. The wall sort of...shifted around and disappeared, where the picture was. And it turned into a hole that led straight to the Dark. The tree was looming over EVERYTHING. And the ground was just bones. And there was this big chair, a throne, up on a mound...and on the top of the throne was a skull, like a human skull, but with antlers." Cass took a second to breathe, trying to get herself controlled, trying to keep a lid on the emotions that were still raw even now. "The tree started growing through the hole, with...vines or roots or something. Cooper panicked. He started shouting it was just a scam, just a hazing...trying to back up. But they weren't after him. They grabbed the little boy." Again she stopped and just shook her head. "He tried to take it back, he tried to pull the boy away, but it was too late. The skull laughed. It was mad at him...it had wanted him to step through, go and sit down. It had been whispering to him to do that, but Cooper never did. But he couldn't save the boy either. The tree took him." For a moment she just wiped her eyes until she could speak again. "But...he's gone now, Cooper. But when he was babbling to himself, when he thought it wasn't working, he sort of...he reassured himself that the guy who'd put him up to it had been scamming him. Someone told him what to do. What to say. Told him what would happen, at least...some of what would happen. And Cooper said his name." Cassandra squared her shoulders and nodded. "Enterich. I don't know who that is yet. I...feel like maybe not in the military, since Cooper didn't say his rank? My gut says he's gotta be with Crossroads, but they don't have an online staff directory so I haven't been able to verify anything. And I haven't found an Enterich living around here online yet either. Still...it's something. If we find this guy Enterich, we find someone who's directly responsible for this boy's murder, and maybe involved with what happened to Cody. He obviously knows a lot about the Dark, since he's the one that told Captain Cooper how to open the portal there." "Homecoming's nearly here, and we have to make our move first. If we can get to Enterich, he might be able to give us some idea what we'll be up against. And..." Cass shook her head. "Whatever we have to do to find out...he'll deserve it."
  13. 2 points
    "Sure," the redhead replied without much enthusiasm, abandoning her half-empty water bottle as she slid off the edge of the table where she'd sat perched. She wasn't thrilled about Courtney's involvement, especially after her snarky commentary at the medical center, but Tawny, at least, seemed nice. And they did have the Shine, or the Dawning Light, or whatever it was to be called, so she had to concede that it made made sense for them to be here. "So, just to make sure everybody's on the same page," Autumn began, taking a few steps to put a little distance between herself and the rest of the group, "Cassie and I went to the Old Town Hall last night to do a little scouting ahead, see what we might be getting into. I'm just going to tell you what I actually saw, and let her describe her side of it, and then we can do questions or discussion or interpretation or whatever afterward. Cool? Cool." Just like the hospital. Be clear, be credible, be concise. Don't make assumptions. "First, it was definitely capital d Dark inside, even though we couldn't feel it before we went in." Despite the sultriness of the day, tiny goosebumps prickled the backs of her arms at the memory and she frowned, sweeping her hair forward over one shoulder as she slowly began to walk the length of the room. "We got inside through one of the ground floor windows, and the place was deserted. Totally stripped. No furniture, no fixtures, nothing. It looked like it was falling apart, and definitely smelled like a hundred generations of mice had lived there, but the building itself seemed like it was holding up pretty well. Structurally, I mean." "In some of the rooms on the first floor there were these... drawings, I guess, on some of the walls. Like cave paintings. Really primitive, more like stick figures than anything. Cass got pictures," she added, half-turning and glancing at the blonde. "Basically, they were all similar: a big man with antlers coming out of his skull, a bunch of smaller people figures, and a huge, dead-looking tree. In a couple of them, the horned man was chasing the people, and in some of them it looked like they were kneeling or praying in front of him. Some were really faded, some a lot darker." "Upstairs was pretty much just the one big office. There was a drawing up there, too, a really big one." Autumn's hands rose, fingers lacing together at the crown of her head as she exhaled, some of the residual blush fading from her cheeks. "Pretty recent. Painted with blood from..." Oh god. Okay. Just... Just say it, and it'll be done, and you won't have to say it again. She hesitated briefly, grimacing as if the taste of the words themselves was awful on her tongue, then sucked in a quick breath and continued. "...from a bunch of cats. We know, because the bodies were all still, um. Still there." The red-haired vitakinetic licked suddenly dry lips and cleared her throat, and then turned and resumed her slow circuit of the loft. "After that, we went down to the basement." "It was basically just like Cassie described before. The room was dark, dusty, and more or less empty, with definite signs of activity, like footprints. Lots of small animals hanging from the ceiling, none of them fresh, and it smelled pretty much like you might expect, but not terrible. Another really big drawing on one of the walls, black, done with charcoal or something. This one was just the horned man. There were marks on the floor, where something was dragged, and streaks of old blood, all leading up to that wall. And-" Fuck. Autumn paused, blue eyes going wide and liquid in the sunlight pouring in from the windows as she inhaled, mentally counting to four in her head and visibly working to maintain some kind of composure in front of the group. With everything that had been going on that morning she'd almost forgotten it, hadn't she? Almost let the memory slip free, as if it might've magically disappeared out the window somewhere along Highway 2. But of course, it hadn't, and so here she was. "And a shoe," she managed finally, quietly, repressing a shiver. "A small one. A kid's shoe, with blood in the Velcro and the lining. It was there for a while... Several weeks, as far as I could tell from the dust and the color of the blood. And that's all."
  14. 2 points
    "I get that a lot. Well, if you two aren't going to test the table, I'mma go get everyone up here." Devin's smirk was Cheshire Cat-like, all the more so since he disappeared in a ripple of purplish light mid-grin. Autumn let out a sigh, looking up at Jason's (mostly) inscrutable expression. Was he amused? Annoyed? Uncaring? About the only thing that wasn't in doubt was the way his eyes seemed to contain a flare of white heat when he met her gaze. That was anything but cool, remote or inscrutable. She shifted her hips a little, biting her lower lip to contain a faint moan as she felt the other unmistakable signal, and with reluctance unclasped her legs from around his waist and allowed herself to slide down to her tip-toes once more. Jason smiled, very faintly, and gently kissed her, watching her face light up in a smile at him despite the rose of her cheeks, before letting his hands slide from her body and stepping back. Downstairs, the impromptu interview between Shelly High's tyrant queen and plucky tenacious reporter was cut short as Cade arrived, and Marissa was just greeting him with a smile and a kiss on the cheek when Devin appeared with a sound of displaced air and a flash of dim light. "Folks, time to hustle-hustle. All standin' around here like the world's not going to end?" He shook his head. "Upstairs, guys. Before Shelly's latest power couple set fire to the table. And I prob'ly ain't being figurative there." He pantomimed fanning himself. "So unless Cassie wants to do some HBO style exposition while naked parts are thrashing around on-camera, we better move it." With that, he popped out of existence once more, reappearing by the large open loft window where he sat on the sill, grinning at the composed Jason and the still-struggling-for-composure Autumn. "They're on their way up. You plannin' on a floor show?" "Not currently." Jason replied mildly even as Autumn suffered a renewed attack of the Red Death and turned to grab water from the small fridge, grumbling something under her breath as she pressed the cool bottle to her face, then unscrewed the cap and took a drink. If Jase was embarrassed, assuming it was hypothetically possible, he wouldn't show it, right? So Autumn shouldn't either. Right. Be Like Jase. It needed to be a t-shirt or a mug or something. "Devin? Guys?! Hello!" The sound of a girl's voice rose above the clumping and shuffling of the Fellowship - most of them anyway - ascending the wooden stairs, and interrupted Devin's casual examination of a dulled practice knife that had been on a bench near the exercise area. Flipping it back onto the bench, the teleporter glanced out of the window and saw a familiar tumble of honey blonde hair. Pushing her bike towards the barn, Tawny waved up as she caught sight of him. "I just saw Cade walk in as I was heading up the drive." she called, smiling despite her nervousness. "Can I-?" "Sure thing, Tee." Devin called down. "Just leave your bike there and walk on through. Stairs are at the end." He started to turn back from the window, then a thought occurred and the handsome young man stuck his head out again. "Tee!" "What?" Tawny had just leaned her bike against the side of the barn and was about to enter. She paused, looking up. "Be careful what you touch." Devin said. Mystified, Tawny nodded anyway and went to open the door again, then Devin called out. "Tee!" "What?" A little frown now as she looked up at him with her hand on the door handle. "Glad you made it." Devin said sincerely, smiling at her. Tawny's return smile was dazzling, and she started to open the door. "Tawny!" Devin called, a tone of urgency in his voice now. "What?!" Tawny repressed the urge to giggle and /or scowl. "Hurry it up, will ya. We ain't got all year." Devin held the deadpan expression for a moment, then smirked. "Butthead!" Tawny shook her head, smiling, and then entered the barn. When she emerged from the top of the stairs, Devin's friend's eyes were saucer-wide. Devin snickered slightly, then offered her a bottle of water. "We know." "There's..." "Yup." "...and they're all..." "Yup" Several voices now chorused with varying degrees of amusement. "But how?" Tawny looked at Jason, who was sitting motionlessly at the table, slouched comfortably into a chair, his eyes shifting to Tawny as she addressed him. "Patience." he answered simply. And his lips quirked in a faint smile that was partly pleased and partly amused. "I am glad you like it." The eerily composed youth told Devin's friend with a polite nod of his head as the smile faded. "I'm sure you will be able to take a longer look around later, but for now we have more urgent things to cover and we need to bring you and Courtney up to speed as well as cover some new ground." He glanced at Autumn and Cassandra. "Starting with the reconnoiter last night, I think. Either of you wish to take the floor?"
  15. 2 points
    Marissa, Week of Labor Day/Ep. VI: OH EM GEE, Superfans! I have so much to gossip about! Off-Camera: Homecoming! Oh, my god. You don't even know. It's right around the corner and I still have not even begun to get all the Fellowdiva's dresses, makeup and hair styles picked out for them (can't let Autumn dress herself, we all know that). It's a nightmare! Anyway, I'll need to see them all at some point to make these choices so we can just assume lots of annoying texts are sent between my time in the episodes (because people tune it for me, let's face facts, people). Thanks to these super powers, I don't have to work out as often as I used to, so I'll be with Deej maybe four nights a week, so totes hit me up if you wanna do something! School and After-School Vignettes: So... yeah, Deej and I get into this big ol' spat over something, totally not Jason related, trust me. In a fit of uncontrolled emotion, I kind of whammie him with my love powers, and all manner of problems erupt from there. Let's face it, he's a bit of a manwhore, so he certainly has this coming. Check out the poll on my OnlyFans and vote which of the Fellowdivas slaps him first! Most of my after-school time will probably be spent with my Cadums. Now that I've had a taste I just want to gorge myself. Which is convenient and totes works out in my favor because all guys ever want is sex and if all we're doing is having sex, we don't have to talk or get too involved with each other (hellooo less complicated!). Trust me, he is not going to mind. It's the perfect escape route for me with all the problems I have going on in my life so it'll be nice to just lose myself in the sex and the pharmacy in my moms purse than face the horrors of reality (Jason and Autumn, seriously!? Its still makes zero sense, ugh! What were the producers thinking!?). Sunday: Sunday is a bit of a wrap for me, honestly. After the whole Enterich thing (creeper), and my Cadums making everything all better, I'm pretty sure I'm good. I think I'll head home after the whole training thing and hope neither of my parents are around to bother me. My god, if my Mom or Dad found out I had sex, they would lose their minds! I have a few outfit ideas for the annual Carousel event going on, so I'll snap a few pics for my bae and see which he thinks I should go with. Also! Check out my OnlyFans and vote on the one you like best! Monday (Labor Day): This is going the worst day of the year. I can handle the holidays because were all at home, but for this I will actually be with my family, out in public (I know, right?!). My father is sobering up for it, because appearances and my mom? Well, she's going to be well into her 'social events' pills by the time we arrive and no doubt will be a complete bitch to everybody in her own 'holier than thou' way. I'm glad Deej will be there (kisses big bro!), he's my rock. Hopefully my family will bump into Cade's. Once my Cadums sees how messed up my family is, he'll break out of his funk and not feel so bad! Tuesday: I can't wait to get back to school! Courtney and I have so much to do to get Homecoming ready, that includes getting the lead out with the Fellowdivas and getting their heads in the diva game! (Cassie says thanks to all the Superfans who posted comments, but the whole my bro and her thing hasn't been decided so we can't talk about it! Very hush-hush around here!) ???: I'm not sure what side Annette is really on, but at the moment she's all I have to keep my family safe. I can't tell the others. If they all knew Jason and my brother would turn Shelly into a smoking crater looking for whomever threatened me or my parent's lives (aren't they the sweetest? Thanks guys!). I guess until the cat's out of the bag I'll have to keep working with Annette while working with Enterich (so complicated!). Hopefully I can keep subtly manipulating the playing field by directing Enterich into the Fellowship's path so they can expose him and hunt him with legitimacy without blowing my cover. To do that, I'll have to be extra shady and I don't think any of them are going to appreciate me for it once it's all said and done. My parents will be safe, so, many regrets, but no apologies! (Oh! Thanks so much Superfans for all the Marshal Marshall feedback! We haven't decided if he's ever going to call, but he's so hot, amirite? The producers are mulling it over, so we'll see!) ???: Wow. Charlie, huh? I can't say I saw that coming. He was so sweet and kinda goofy and all kinds of fun... I guess I should have told him that when I had the chance. Did you know I had crush on him? Yup, totally did. I only joined the school play to get to know him a little better, that's why I went to breakfast with him; to see if there was anything between us. Shame he didn't seem into me. But, hey, then, I'd be dead too! Bullet, dodged. Wait until you see the dress I picked out for his funeral, I ordered the shoes for it about twenty minutes ago and together they are to die for! So wow! Was I totes serials, or what? Keep it locked in on Weirder Stuff because have soooo much planned and we're just on Season 1!!! Keep those likes coming and from me and the rest of the Fellowdivas, kisses! Stay weird(er). #Fellowdiva; #Stayweirder; #Gingerfwooshing; #Manyregretsnosorrys
  16. 2 points
    His mind was still reeling abit after his first time with Marissa. It was entirely safe to say the day hadn't gone as planned, and he was decidedly happy for the changes to the day's plans. He'd cleaned up, both in terms of taking a good shower, and doing his best to hide just what had happened in his room. Still he had a feeling that his parents, his mom at the very least, would know. He couldn't his neighbor keeping his mouth shut, so yeah this was gonna get out. He'd deal with the fallout when he got home, that much he was sure of. He wasn't ashamed, he just didn't really feel like dealing with any bullshit from the others. He'd been brought up that a gentleman just didn't discuss that in front of anyone, and realized he was probably going to catch a hard time from just about every guy in school over this when it did invariably get out. He shrugged his broad shoulders. "Worth it though." He said quietly with a smile as he climbed into his jeep and head out for Jason's farm. An odd thought came to mind. Marissa'd been open with him about how things were, still he couldn't deny he did have feelings for her, a genuine attachment. If that had been her sans any feelings, well he could only imagine what it would be like if she actually liked him. "That would be worth working towards." He immediately felt a little guilty, thinking that, but it revealed something he'd not really wanted to face head-on. He DID want her to feel something for him. If he was being honest, he wanted Marissa to see him as more than the "Safe Choice." He wanted Marissa to see him as the "Right Choice." To accomplish that, well he didn't have the first damn clue. However, after his conversation with Devin, he'd resolved to be abit more proactive, less reactive to everything. "Can't just wait for everyone else to do things." He'd grabbed the set of throwing knives and of course a bag of baseballs. A bag of trail mix because while taming animals might seem sorta lame compared to what the others could do, it was his thing, so he'd resolved to work at to make it even faster. The drive out to the Bannon Farm was one he knew well enough, and he managed it with little difficulty. Marissa and several others were already there it seemed, and he frowned. Normally he wasn't one of the last to arrive, but it looked that way this time. "Damn." he swore softly, having pulled in so he wasn't blocking anyone, and killed the engine. He grabbed the duffel he brought his "Gear" in, and then another that had the usual mix of junk food one tended to find at gatherings of the Fellowship. He wasn't one to arrive empty-handed, even if it was simply snacks. He knocked on the door to the Barn, and when there was no answer, he quite carefully let himself in. Moving quietly, he passed the rows of lush flowering plants until he saw a cluster of people standing together near the door at foot of the stairs he knew lead up to the loft. "Hey, guess I'm running abit late. Sorry about that."
  17. 2 points
    "It's pretty amazing, huh?" the taller, freckled redhead asked- mostly rhetorically- as she approached Kat and nudged the petite girl companionably with her hip, the oceanic hue of her eyes tinged with reflected hints of green. "I've only been here once, but he's really not kidding about not touching things," she admitted, pulling her hair back with one hand and leaning down to breathe in the heady scent of the creamy white freesias nearby. "Some of these are really toxic and ohhh, holy fuck, that's sex in a flowerpot." She inhaled again, deeply, and sighed as her unspoken frustrations with the trip to Browning, Marissa's inexplicable 'tude, and the looming Serious Talk she was going to need to have with her mom all just sort of... dissipated like so much water vapor in the dense, humid air. It was easy for Autumn to forget, surrounded by the verdant glory of this miniature Eden, that she was still in Shelly, still firmly grounded in reality and not some primeval wonderland of warmth and botanical beauty. Yeah, she decided, smiling despite the deeply personal and existential concerns still lingering in the back of her mind. Definitely one of my favorite places. The sensory kaleidoscope of color, fragrance, and texture was no less captivating for having seen it once before; if anything, the growing awareness of life all around her only served to heighten the experience, layering a scintillating, intangible vibrancy over that which the redhead could experience with her more mundane senses. ...And yet, for all its seeming wildness, she knew that there was an underlying order in the chaos, each specimen meticulously arranged and cultivated according to the desires and aesthetic sensibilities of its creator. Here, the curious elemental polarities of his nature intersected perfectly- an idea which broadened the smile on her lips as it occurred to her, watching Jason disappear up the stairs to what she guessed was the second floor loft and "The Fortress of Jaseitude" (Working Title). "I'm gonna see if he needs any help," Autumn added thoughtfully. The garden would still be here after, and she could always sneak down if things got too crazy, or if she got bored. She'd also been late for the last big meeting here, so what lay upstairs was still a total mystery. Besides, she reasoned, it was only polite to offer, right? Right. Totally. It had nothing to do with stealing a couple more minutes of alone-time at all. She was just being a good guest, and he'd helped out at breakfast, anyway, so it was only fair. Breaking away from the others filtering in, she headed toward the door through which Jason had vanished, humming quietly as she did so. "Hey, Jase?" she called as she mounted the wooden stairs leading upward. She could hear him moving around up there, the sound of something scraping on the floor, then silence- that eerie stillness she remembered from the phone call earlier in the week. It sent a tiny shiver down her spine, that unearthly quiet, and the intrepid redhead fought against the instinctive urge to hold her breath for those last few steps. She knew he was up there, so it was fine. No big deal. "Do you need any-" "Sure," he replied, so calmly and from such close proximity Autumn was pretty sure she was dead. "Jesus fu-hmmm!" she just managed to clap a hand over her mouth, stifling the shriek of surprise as she whirled, leveling an accusatory stare at The Effing Boyfriend. "Ohmygod!" Heart pounding furiously somewhere just south of her larynx, the startled young woman blinked incredulously, wide blue eyes meeting cool green ones that sparkled faintly with amusement. "No, just me," Jase quipped dryly, moving to pick up another chair. "Ugh!" Simultaneously scowling miserably and trying desperately not to laugh, Autumn took in the 'war room' as she waited for her heart rate to drop again, and for her breathing to return to something resembling normal human respiration. It definitely looked more like a place Jason would just... hang out, than his room had, she decided, noting the workbenches and exercise area. Functional. Practical. Utterly apart from the lush world of the garden downstairs. When she'd recovered sufficiently, she grabbed a chair, unfolding it and positioning it in an empty space around the large table in the center of the room. It only took a couple of minutes, at most, the two of them working in relative silence as she glanced, now and then, at his shoulders, or the outline of his profile silhouetted against one of the open windows. Maybe Devin could teach her to draw... Hmm. As her eyes sketched the contours of Jason's back, movement followed, her outstretched fingers running lightly down his spine. "All done?"
  18. 2 points
    Keane Residence, around 08:20 "About time." Dana Keane, concerned mother to four dogs and a teenage daughter, grumped as Autumn shuffled into the kitchen, yawning, and made a bee-line for the coffee pot. An observant maternal eye noted the slight touches of makeup and attention paid to the fiery tumble of red hair as Autumn filled her mug, sweetened and added cream, then sipped, absently ruffling the fur of the large German Shepherd, Briggs, as he politely nudged her for a petting. "So Jason, Cassie, and Devin Jauntsen, hmm?" Hazel eyes narrowed. "This isn't some double date, I take it?" "What? No!" Autumn seemed jolted out of her distraction by the question, laughing a little. "I mean, Cassie and Devin are just friends, I think. And just because Jase is coming along doesn't make it automatically a date, mom." her daughter added, cheeks pinking a little as Dana made a feminine snort of disbelief. "Not technically, no." Autumn's mother said mock-sternly as though suspecting, and disapproving of, shenanigans. She then smiled a little as she turned back to the griddle pan. "Well, seeing as I'm feeding extra mouths, you'd better pull out some eggs and get to work." The two of them worked in companionable silence for a short while, music from the radio unobtrusively filling the air in the comfortable kitchen. Preparations were almost complete when the soft rumble of an engine outside sparked an excited bark or two from the dogs, all four of whom were hanging around just out from under foot, hoping for dropped tidbits with large pleading eyes. Dana looked at where Autumn had been, sighing and shaking her head with a smile as, with a soft patter of feet, the younger redhead hurried to the door. "Not a date, my butt." she commented quietly to Lexi, who merely panted good-naturedly and let out a little whine of protest at the lack of dropped bacon bits. Jason climbed out of the Charger as he removed his mirrored shades, hooking them into the neck of his t-shirt as he closed the car door behind him, and breathed deeply, pale eyes sweeping over the fields and woods surrounding the Keane home. The morning dew had already mostly burned away, but the day still felt fresh and new to him as he made his way around the car and headed up the front steps onto the porch. The country air was quiet, despite the sporadic barking of the dogs inside as they sensed a familiar presence, and there was a peacefulness that hung over the scene which was not lost on him. The front door opened as he approached, and Autumn slipped out quickly, closing it behind her and turning to face him, a smile curving her lips before she stepped forward and comfortably slipped her arms around his neck. "Hey." she murmured, smile becoming a grin as she felt his hands slide over her waist in a return embrace. "Hey." he echoed with a slight twitch of his lips answering her smile. He could smell the warm scent of her hair, and resisted the temptation to simply bury his face in it. "I just wanted to thank you for last night." Autumn said in a low tone, mindful her mother might be listening as she studied the flicker of reflected sunlight - as well as the deeper flame her nearness kindled - in his pale green eyes. He looked a little tired, as might be expected, but alert and focused as usual. "You're welc-" Jason started, but stopped as Autumn, grinning, put a finger over his lips, shifting her body against his, pressing closer. "I said I wanted to thank you, not say thank you." she breathed as she leaned up and kissed him, feeling the zip and zing of that flame running through her nerves at the contact, her arms tightening around his neck as, for a long moment, the two forgot everything else. So much so, in fact, that the purring whine of a high performance motorcycle didn't intrude on their private moment until it was too late.
  19. 2 points
    Cassandra's teasing grin faded as Autumn talked until it was just a little smile, then maybe not even that. There were thoughts on top of thoughts in her head, like time was slowing down and someone 'offstage' was narrating... 'there's four things you need to know about Autumn and Jase right now... Time started again and Cassandra smiled wistfully. "I guess I don't really know. I had a crush on a guy in grade school, but he moved away. Me and my boyfriend started dating just sort of...because? We already hung out all the time together anyway, it just kind of felt right. I guess I haven't really had that sort of...intensity you're talking about." She tugged a few strands of her blonde hair out from the rest and wiggled it around absently. "All teasing aside, if you're happy about it, I'm behind it." The grin came back then. "And I can spy on him to tell you if he's cheating on you. Cassie Allen, psychic detective. A hundred a week, plus expenses."
  20. 2 points
    "What is so juicy about this?" Devin asked walking out of the kitchen with a bowl of strawberry slices and a stack of plates and utensils. "They're dating, so what?" Placing the strawberries on the table he set the plates down as well and leaned himself back to peer into the kitchen and for a moment Autumn pursed her lips at the thought of Devin leaning to take a look at her mom's butt while she wasn't looking. Then, in a purple pulse and a muted 'bamf' the plates and utensils scattered, leaving little wavering comet trails of violet energy as they all went to their respective place settings at the table. Autumn slapped his arm with the back of his hand, mouthing softly a string of hushed words that looked and maybe sounded like: "What the hell? My mom." She looked nervously over his shoulder as Shelly's problem child smirked that devilish smirk of his. "Chill, I checked first." He smiled and winked and turned back to the kitchen. In only a single step he spun back on his heels and walked backwards. "Don't worry, I got this. You two..." he waved them off, shooing them from 'his' work area. "...go play, or whatever you do." He spun back around and entered the kitchen only to meet Dana adding the last pan full of eggs to the large fluffy pile. "Devin, you don't have to do this, I appreciate it, but-" "No, no," he waved his hands dismissing the argument. "Really, it's cool. Autumn has the guests entertained, it saves us from just wandering about with our hands our pockets while you two rush to get all this done. Besides, I don't feel right not doing my part. Feeding five people can't be easy." "You're," she raised a distrustful eyebrow at him. "A little different from what I expected." "I was the school bully, Mrs. Keane," Devin began tonging the latest batch of waffles and adding them to the large serving plate as Mrs. Keane diced up a variety of fruits. "That doesn't mean I wasn't raised without manners or standards of propriety, I simply chose to set them aside for the sake of tormenting others. It was a hoot while it lasted but now it's time to mend what fences I can and move on to other things, like getting super powers and saving the world, or something." He just had to insert that little grain of truth. "That's why I don't wear safety equipment during the labs at school. I'm hoping there's an accident and something sticks. Being Montana, knowing my luck, I'll get bit by a radioactive horse or worse, something Canadian."
  21. 2 points
    As Autumn watched Cassandra pedal away, the reflectors on the spokes of her wheels catching the light, the redhead shuddered at the sensation of icy, intangible fingers trailing down her spine. It was just a glint of flickering brightness against the shadows lining the road- not even the right color- but again, the image of a child's shoe appeared unbidden in her mind, and the saccharine sweetness of the ice cream lingering on her tongue was suddenly bitter ash in her mouth. Her mother was waiting for her; she, like the pretty reporter, would get to go home tonight. But, as she nudged the kickstand up and placed her feet on the pedals, it wasn't toward home that her handlebars turned. Not yet. It was nearly 11:30, after what seemed an eternity spent racing down country roads between pale, moonlit fields, that the building came into view. Even then, some instinct kept Autumn from looking back the way she'd come, now that she was more familiar with that sense of creeping unease at her back- dread- than she'd been the first time she traveled this path alone. Instead, she let that feeling spur her forward, overriding the dull ache in her lungs and the burning in her thighs. What had once seemed to her the lair of Shelly's most fearsome boogeyman was now simply a house rising up from the surrounding farmlands; having seen the den of an actual monster, the Bannon farm was an inviting sanctuary by comparison. Muscle memory applied the brake as gravel crunched beneath her bicycle tires, dropped the kickstand and carried her up the porch steps. There was as little thought in the movement as there'd been in leaving the diner parking lot, for once no inner dialogue or contemplation on the ride. Similarly, there was no real consideration of the time, or circumstance, as she knocked quietly at the door. Quiet rumble of male voices from inside, a scrape of a chair, a footfall. The door opened, revealing Gar Bannon, a plainly surprised look on his face at the sight of the young woman. He started to speak, then peered closely at her face. "Autumn." Whatever tone of surprise he'd initially intended to speak her name with was muted, overlaid by concern at something he saw in the shadowed pools of her eyes. "You, uh, here to speak to Jase?" Swallowing past the sudden tightness in her throat, the red-haired girl nodded. "Hi, Mr. Ban- Gar," she corrected herself for what would likely not be the last time. She liked Jason's dad, and despite knowing he'd been present for their last encounter with the nightmare hellbeasts, it seemed wrong somehow to relate the combination of otherworldly and mundane awfulness that brought her to his door. "I'm sorry to bother you, I know it's late. Would it be okay if..." She rubbed her palms against her thighs to still their trembling, the polite smile on her lips taut. Uncertain. "Is, um- is he still up?" "If he's not," Gar stated gravely, stepping aside and waving her in. "He'd want to be, I'm sure." His gaze was filled with questions, but with a stoic practicality that seemed very much like his son's he set them aside and focused on the matter at hand. Closing the door, he went to the foot of the stairs and called up in a low, but carrying voice. "Jase?" There was a pause, then a door opened somewhere above them. "Yes?" came the familiar tone, crisp and alert-sounding, curiosity a faint note rather than the substance that the word suggested. A creak of floorboards, a shadow moved on the wall above the bookcases that lined the staircase. "Autumn's here. You decent?" Gar smiled faintly, winking at the girl. There was another pause. "Sure." Now there was curiosity in his voice. Gar gave Autumn a nod and indicated the carpeted stairs. "Thank you," the subdued redhead replied, her gaze following the neat rows of books she'd noticed the last time she was here, though she'd had no reason then to venture upstairs. Now, suddenly, Autumn was conscious of the state of her hair, the film of sweat and dust and... probably worse that clung to her skin and her clothes, but it was too late to turn around, wasn't it? She was here, even if she wasn't entirely sure why, and the only thing to do was climb. Ascending the steps slowly, she noted the sheer number of volumes present as well as the apparent variety of subjects covered; while most of the books downstairs were related to cooking or practical household concerns, these seemed more esoteric. A few sets of what looked like very old encyclopedias, noteworthy for their impressive leather and gilt spines, stood next to well-worn science textbooks, botanical field guides, and ones marked with characters she couldn't even read. It occurred to Jason's brand-new, very first girlfriend that he'd probably read all of them more than once. Reaching the landing at the top, Autumn unzipped her jacket and exhaled, counting to four. He was standing on the landing, in the dim gold radiance cast by an overhead bulb that picked out the bronze tones of his hair and features and warmed the glacial pallidity of his gaze as it studied her. His head tilted slightly, something she now surmised was a deliberate visible cue rather than an unconscious one, something he added for the benefit of others. Part of his 'peopling'. "Autumn." He didn't smile, despite the warmth in his voice as he uttered her name, the glittering interrogation of his gaze at odds with the warmth also there as he stepped towards her. "Jase," she replied, and took another deep breath, her fingers tangling themselves in the fabric of her hoodie. Even with everything that had happened, even with the uncomfortable way her t-shirt was sticking to her skin, there was something about those cool, not-wholly dispassionate jade eyes that made it difficult to think of anything else. Focus, Autumn. "Listen, I know it's really late, and I kind of just showed up, and we've only been dating for like a day, but I have a favor to ask." She paused, then amended, "Two favors. If it's okay, I would really like a shower, and a hug. In that order." There was another pause, another slow exhalation. "Please." A half-beat of her heart and then "Okay." The word was simply and sincerely spoken, without fanfare, and Jason half-turned, gesturing towards a doorway. "The bathroom is there. One moment, and I'll get you a towel." He started to move towards a closet, his manner composed. So composed, in fact, that Autumn experienced a weird but not-unpleasant sense of surprise. "Wait." she managed, causing him to stop and look at her. Then she wondered why she'd spoken up. It was just odd, the way he accepted without questioning or demanding to know what was going on. Jason considered her a moment as she stood, silently trying to put into words the question in her blue eyes. "You're upset." he said by way of answer to the unvoiced query. "Shower first, hug second. My curiosity can wait." He turned and retrieved a large dark blue towel from the closet, along with a matching washcloth. "I'll get you something to wear. Leave your clothes outside the door and I'll get them cleaned up." He led her to the bathroom door, then handed her the towel and cloth. No argument. No inquiry. No demands. Just... "Okay," and "I can wait." As if the explanation for her completely unreasonable request- after showing up unexpectedly in the middle of the night- was less important than the fact she'd made it. Autumn blinked up at him, surprised, in the soft golden light, her eyes the murky, indeterminate grey-blue-green of the ocean in the wake of a storm, and then nodded as he pressed the bath linens into her hands. She'd half-expected to be pinned to the wall by that piercing crystalline stare, questioned in precise and excruciating detail about why she'd shown up and what had happened, but... "Okay." At least for the moment, she didn't have to explain anything, to really even say anything at all, except- "Thank you," she breathed, cool fingertips lingering just a moment on the backs of his hands as she took the towel and turned, closing the bathroom door quietly behind her. For the span of several heartbeats, the redhead sagged back against that door, the thick wood panel reassuringly solid against her shoulders and spine as the reality that she was safe slowly penetrated the fog of apprehension she'd been moving through all night. With that recognition, a growing awareness of physical discomfort replaced psychological unease. She was sore. She was sweaty. She could actually feel the grime on her skin, and although being in the Old Town Hall had effectively granted her temporary immunity to its smell, she was pretty sure no one around her could boast the same. Ugh. Her nose crinkled in displeasure at the thought. In less time than it would have taken to list the layers of clothing she was wearing, she'd managed to tear them all off- opening the door just enough to confirm no one was watching before leaving them just outside. As Jason found something for her to wear and explained to his father, briefly, that she'd be staying for a little while, Autumn did her best to scrub away the physical residue of the night. At least she wasn’t sick, this time. The hot water was a soothing balm to both achy muscles and jangled nerves. It rinsed away the faint traces of earlier tears as well as the ones that spilled out unbidden beneath the spray, and banished the visible evidence of the girls’ adventures down the drain in a dark swirl, surrounding her in the clean scent of unidentifiable herbs and green, growing things. Jason’s soap. Jason’s shampoo. She lingered there a few minutes longer than was strictly necessary, the idea of his smell on her skin warming her as thoroughly on the inside as the shower was outside, and by degrees, the red-haired young woman felt herself relax. Wringing the water from her hair and combing through the damp curls with her fingers as she finished up and dried off, Autumn drew in what felt like the first full breath she’d had all evening. One of Jase’s oversized t-shirts and a pair of shorts with a drawstring waist lay on the counter, neatly folded, and she allowed herself a little smile as she pulled them on, her still-pink cheeks flushing a slightly deeper shade of rose as it occurred to her that her underwear had gone with everything else she’d been wearing. Although, she reflected with a faint grin, the most effective way to deal with most of it… except her hoodie… was probably just shoving it in a furnace and walking away. Between the fries, the ice cream, the exertion of the ride, and the luxury of a shower and clean clothes, she could almost convince herself that things were okay. Almost. As she stepped out of the bathroom, Autumn’s eyes caught on a sliver of light escaping a half-open door across the way. Padding across the carpet, she peeked inside, rapping her knuckles against the door frame in a quiet knock. “Jase?” The room was another library, shelves lining the walls from floor to ceiling and broken only by a closet door, the large sash window and a desk in one corner. The center of the room was largely dominated by a low bed consisting of a king size mattress only slightly set above the floor - a futon style, she thought it was called. As her eyes took in the room, it's lack of pop culture posters, or art, or photos, the lack of clothing strewn about and, most notably, the absence of eau-de-sock, it struck Autumn that this was by far the tidiest teenagers - especially teenage boy's - room she had ever seen. The only marked disarray was the couple of piles of books next to the bed - which the room's occupant currently sat on, long legs stretching out in front of him as he leaned back against the wall, reading by the light of a lamp. Jase looked up as she knocked, smiling slightly in that way he did - the faintest of crinkles at the corners of his eyes as they took in her freshly-washed self. Heat flickered in the depths of his gaze as it rested on her pink-tinged cheeks, but all he did was close the book he'd been passing the time with and set it aside, watching her as he motioned for her to enter. "Come on in." he invited. A touch of a wry smile graced his lips. "I believe you would be the only person other than my father who has." "Thanks," she replied with a faint, answering smile, pleased at the inclusion in such a select group as she stepped over the threshold and into the decidedly un-hoardlike inner sanctum of Bannon the Magnificent, he of the spear-like claws and teeth of swords. Then again... Scanning row upon row of books, it occurred to the curious redhead that the library in the rest of the house wasn't singular at all. It must instead have spilled forth from this room, the accumulated knowledge of minds great and good and simply novel overflowing down the stairs and into the kitchen and- she assumed- probably elsewhere, as well, like so many gold bars and gleaming gems amassed for his pleasure. A cave of wonders, of mysteries and secrets, treasures for the brilliant young man's keen intellect to peruse at his leisure. "It suits you." Autumn's footfalls were silent on the rug as she closed the distance between them, hesitating for little more than the span of a heartbeat before she perched on the edge of the bed next to Jason, feet on the floor. The camping trip had been one thing, but this was his room. Girlfriend or not, there were rules for this kind of thing, right? Some kind of protocol to be observed? Angling toward him, she turned slightly, pressing her lips together as her eyes moved thoughtfully over his face. She'd just seen him earlier that evening, had spent almost two full days with him, but in that instant it didn't feel like even that had been enough. "So, um, the hug. Should I just...?" Meeting Jase's gaze, his companion gestured vaguely toward him as if asking permission. His head tilted slightly, the wry smile widening for a moment and revealing a hint of dimple in each smooth cheek, then Jason simply held out a hand to her. "Come here." It wasn't quite a command, and wasn't quite a request, and contained warmth of emotion not usually present in his habitually precise and clinical manner. She took the long, strong fingers in her own, folding her hand around his, letting him draw her to him as she shuffled closer until she felt his arm slide around her shoulders and tug her into an embrace. "You never need to ask to touch me." he murmured with his lips on her damp hair, his free hand stroking the ends of her curls, fingers toying with them. "That privilege is yours." In answer, Autumn simply nodded, pressing her face against his chest as her other arm curled around his side. Her fingertips slid under the hem of his shirt, finding the warm, bare skin of his back beneath the cotton and exhaling a long, shaky breath that seemed to come from her toes. Her eyelids drifted shut at the feel of Jason's breath on her hair, the pressure of his arm, the dextrous fingers entwined with hers; although she didn't feel the least bit sleepy, it was the first time since she and Cass had left the basement that she'd seen nothing at all when she closed her eyes. That alone was worth the ride through the dark Montana night. "Same," she murmured against his collarbone, drawing her pale legs up onto the bed and all but melting against the reclining youth. The awfulness was still there, that haunting chill that whispered that things weren't at all okay, and that they might never again be okay, but at least for the moment it seemed distant, muted by the heat radiating from Jase's lean form next to hers. "You have really good hugs, you know?" his potentially biased girlfriend opined quietly, her thumb moving lightly over his knuckles. "For an alien." In the diamond-etched crystal prism of his mind, Jason was hard at work analysing Autumn's appearance, manner, and possible reasons for being here. He was also focused intently on the feel of her wet hair, cool on his fingertips, and the warmth of her touch on his skin. That connection, that sense of being touched and the vulnerability of being close to another, was deeply personal to the strange young man - which is why he tolerated very few people within arm's length. It was also fair to say that Autumn's proximity, after his earlier wrestling with the remembrance of their sensual play of the night before, was performing an excellent job of undoing the locks of his self-discipline like a practiced seducer's fingers would unfasten the buttons on a shirt. "It must be part of the genetic superiority." he joked softly. "Intelligence, aggression, fearlessness... and really good hugs." He breathed in deeply, his eyes half-closing as he struggled with the urge to change the nature of his caresses, to seek her mouth with his and draw out gasps of pleasure, to bury his fingers deep in her hair and crane her head back so her ivory throat would be laid bare for his lips... He breathed out again, feeling his center stabilise once more. It was apparent to him that Autumn hadn't come seeking sex. She had seen something, or experienced something, that had upset her deeply and needing comfort she had come... to him? Perhaps. Perhaps she had also been scared, and so wanted a sense of protection? It was hard to say with any certainty, at least for him. So he concentrated instead on what he did know. Autumn wanted to be held. That he could do, and so his arm snugged her closer as, in a gesture of comfort he'd seen others do, he softly kissed her forehead. "Mhmm," the redhead agreed, smiling in spite of herself at the gentle brush of his lips. Even in this, she realized, Jase was a fast learner, and a part of her wondered what he'd be like when he was older, more experienced with life and women and, well. Everything. That was a question for future Autumn to answer, though, as current Autumn had more pressing concerns. "Must be. The other stuff just makes it hard for people to figure that out. Lucky me, huh?" Shifting slightly in his arms, she tilted her head back to catch Jason's eye and smiled, one corner of her mouth curving upward. "Probably all the Irish in my family." Even under questionable circumstances such as these, it was impossible to remain completely unaffected by his nearness, the firefly glimmer of gold in his gaze, the lingering hint of tobacco just underneath the verdant, crisp scent she'd come to associate with Jason Bannon. Feeling her face growing warmer as she studied his features, the blue-eyed teen caught her lower lip in her teeth, biting down just hard enough to remind herself that was definitely not why she'd come out here. Probably. Then again, it hadn't really been a conscious choice on her part, had it? "You said earlier you were curious," she stated, focusing on the here-and-now of those pale green eyes. "And you've done both the favors I asked for, so I kind of owe you some explanation. Would it be okay with you if we stayed like this while we talked, though?" Neat white teeth worried at her lower lip, causing it to redden enticingly, and Jason almost lost his struggle there before getting control once more, remonstrating sternly with himself and more than a little concerned. This was not like him, to feel so easily pulled like this. "It's more than okay to stay like this." he said in answer to her question, his eyes studying her upturned features with a gaze that was half analytical, and half appreciative. "And you can give as much, or as light of an explanation as you choose right now. I kind of get the impression the scouting was... unpleasant?" Autumn snorted softly in something like laughter, though there was nothing at all to laugh about. It was just easier, preferable to the alternative, which was to start crying again. "Yeah. The two of us went to Bunnee's, after," she explained, resting her cheek against the smooth plane of his Jase's chest, turning his hand over in hers and studying the faint marks on his palm, the whorls on the pads of his fingertips as she traced them with her own. "We talked about it a little, but I don't think either of us have really processed, yet. There's a lot of pieces of ideas kind of floating around in my head right now, and I don't know how much help it'll be. If at all." Exhaling, the animated redhead frowned, rearranging herself again as if to get closer. When she began again, her voice was quiet, distant in the way it had been when she'd spoken of her grandfather on the porch a week before. "It was a lot like Cassie said when she described it, but worse. The darkness, the smell... Awful. Cody wasn't there, though. Just us, and all the, um." Her voice wavered, a sudden shiver prickling the freckled skin on the backs of her arms. "The animals he'd killed. There were a whole lot of them, and not just in the basement, and most of them had been there for a while." There had been so many of them, their little bodies just mangled, brutalized and tortured and then discarded like trash... Her eyes darkened, lashes trembling slightly at the memory as she fixed her gaze on the lines encircling the base of his thumb. Focus, Autumn. You have to be able to talk about it. She inhaled, counting silently in her head and holding the breath before releasing it again. "He wasn't around, but it felt like... If you walk into a room where someone was just standing, and you know that they were there? Like, there's no hot coffee cup, or lit cigarette, or anything to give you a definite clue, just that feeling. They just stepped out, but they might be back any second. Sort of like that." "Well, that settles the matter of where we go to find him." Jason murmured, part of his mind examining the description of the place. Mangled, tortured animals. To him, no more than distasteful, and more so due to the apparent senselessness, but from recent experience he knew it was more than that for his girlfriend. He gave her what he judged was a reassuring squeeze, and upon feeling her make a small noise, tighten her embrace of him and press her face into his chest assessed that the comfort was well-received. "Tomorrow, if you feel capable, I'd like you and Cassie to do a floorplan of the place for us to study. To describe it so that we're as ready as we can be. We know we're on a clock with taking him down, so the sooner we prepare the better." "But that can wait till tomorrow. This is hug time." he added with another small kiss on the top of Autumn's head, breathing in his shampoo mingling with the warm smell of her hair - of her. His scent on her. Odd how that affected him so strongly, causing not just arousal but also provoking urges of protection, of possession. Mine, the urges rumbled, and the diamond-clarity of Jason's thoughts resolved to keep a strong watch on that, lest it come on him at a bad time, or lead to... unproductive confrontations. "Was there anything more? Either of you get hurt?" he inquired with mild concern. He had initially assumed that, if that was the case, Autumn would have led with it. But people were strange sometimes - it would not surprise him for Autumn to disregard a wound in her distress over the dead animals. "No, not hurt. Freaked out, scared, angry, yeah, but not hurt. The place sounded like it'd fall on our heads the whole time, but it seemed pretty solid. Some of the old stairs were out, broken railings, stuff like that, but I mean, that's what you expect, right?" She sat quietly for a moment, weaving her pale, cinnamon-flecked fingers through Jason's long, tan ones. The actual physical aspect of the place was easy to describe, just a practical assessment of its construction and how time and the occasional vagrant or animal incursion had changed it; its effect, however, wasn't quite so simple for the earnest young woman to relate. "I know we'll probably talk a lot more about it tomorrow, and Cass took a lot of pictures, so you guys can see exactly what we found- there were drawings all over the place, but not like graffiti. More like creepy cave paintings of the… monster, I guess? That she talked about. Cody, or the spirit, or whatever. Skull, antlers." Wait. Autumn leaned back suddenly, straightening to meet Jase’s eyes. Whatever questions or ideas she had about the meaning of those primitive scrawls, their origin, or what they might suggest about the historical goings-on in Shelly could wait until everyone was together. That was just details. It might help them come up with a working hypothesis, or add some color to the outline of events they were sketching, but it didn’t seem immediately useful. …Except in one instance. "Not just drawings, though. There’s a big one, on one of the walls down in the basement, and we’re pretty sure that’s the Door,” she added soberly, a subtle emphasis on the last word. “Cassie felt it there, I think, and-“ The redhead blinked, wide, dark pupils constricting sharply at the memory of the marks on the floor, the rust-red flecks on Velcro, the fluorescent stripes, as she tensed. “-and there was a little boy’s shoe, and… And that’s- the wall is where the blood stopped,” she finished tautly. He remained silent for a moment, his eyes on hers as he absorbed everything. A Door, audibly capitalised. A boy's shoe. Blood. Autumn's pupillary constriction and the way the colour drained from her ivory skin, throwing the dusting of freckles into high contrast. The way her voice tightened and the tremor in her fingers around his. "That'll do for now." he decided softly, tugging her back to snuggle against him, resuming the gentle stroking of her hair, fingertips lightly brushing strands back from her cheek and ear, resting his jaw and cheek on the top of her fiery curls. "Did I tell you yet today that I admire your courage?" he murmured with a soft smile that would have astonished practically everyone in the Fellowship, except possibly Sean. "Don't feel brave." Autumn muttered, her eyes closing as she listened to his heartbeat against her ear and breathed in his scent. "And yet you are. You're scared, and do what needs to be done anyway." Jase said firmly, his voice still low as he dropped another kiss on her brow. "I'm not an expert, but I'm pretty sure that's the definition of bravery most people agree with." "Mmmm," his girlfriend hummed noncommittally, too preoccupied with allowing him to spoil her for a little bit longer to contest the point. This wasn't at all what she'd expected, this tenderness in his manner- Jason was clinical, pragmatic, and, yes, passionate, if the last twenty four hours had been any indication, but this was an entirely different sort of intimacy. For all its strangeness, though, the feeling of gentle fingers in her hair, the rise and fall of his chest, the warmth of his breath on her skin and the faint resonance of his Shine interacting with hers... It felt pleasantly familiar. He'd offered actual comfort- not empty platitudes or reassurances that everything was going to be fine, but simple physical presence. Connection. He'd told her not so long ago that if she ever had a bad day, he'd be right there, and she was pretty freaking sure that tonight qualified. ...And he was true to his word, wasn't he? He listened. Even if it wasn't something he knew anything about, or had any experience with, he'd actually been there. It wasn't just something he'd said to make her feel better. "Okay, Professor Bannon," Autumn conceded after a moment, inhaling tobacco, something crisply botanical, and what she could only identify as 'Jase' under that. "I'll take your word for it." Releasing his fingers, the freshly-showered young woman wrapped both her arms around the laconic youth's spare, wiry torso, her hands sliding beneath the hem of his shirt as she attempted vainly to get closer to him. The journals, the trip to the reservation, talking about the basement and how to handle it- all of that could wait a little longer, she decided. At least until tomorrow, and that seemed, at the moment, to be very far away. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- It was a little while later. Jason had recited poetry to Autumn - poetry in various languages, spoken in a soft voice - as she'd cuddled close, and whether it was his voice, or choice of poems, her emotional exhaustion, his smell or some mixture of them all she had fallen into a doze, lips curved in a faint smile as she occasionally made 'mmh'-ing noises and wriggled as though it were possible to snuggle closer. "His spots are the joy of the Leopard, his horns are the Buffalo's pride." Jase said softly, smiling a little at the drowsing redhead as he quoted Kipling. "Be clean, for the strength of the hunter is known by the gloss of his hide. If you find that the bullock can toss you, or the heavy-browed Sambhur can gore-" Whatever came next was interrupted as a text tone went off from Autumn's phone and her eyes snapped open. "How'd that get here?" she asked, blinking a little. What time was it? "It was in your hoodie. I retrieved it when you put your clothes outside the bathroom." Jason explained, passing it to her without glancing at the screen. With a murmured 'thanks,' Autumn tapped her phone, visibly reluctant to shake off the reverie as she sat up with a little huff and swiped away the broad field of wildflowers that appeared on her lock screen. Maybe Cass was checking in, or her mom, or- "Oh. It's from..." Copper brows knit together in confusion as she checked the name. "Marissa." There was a hint of a question in the word, a note of surprise, and then she tapped the screen again. [Wow, heard from Devin you're sleeping with Jason? Nice, Autumn. Nice.] "Wait, how did- ?" she murmured, re-reading the text one more time. Fully awake now, the companionable warmth she'd been drowsily enjoying seemed to rush suddenly upward, flooding the girl's bronze-flecked cheeks with scarlet. It didn't really bother her that Marissa knew, but she'd meant to tell the beautiful fashionista herself, and... Autumn had never actually been congratulated on making out with a guy before. This whole 'having a female best friend' thing was a little different from having a guy best friend. Huh. Grinning in spite of herself at the prospect of being able to actually talk to another girl about things like this, of having a 'bestie' who wouldn't show up to threaten the guy she was seeing, Autumn leaned back against Jason's chest. Still blushing, she tapped out a quick reply. [No, not sleeping! Will tell you about it tomorrow!] Marissa's response was almost immediate: [Can. Not. Wait.] The redhead's smile widened as she read the emphatic reply and set the phone on the bed, her rosy flush deepening by degrees as she peered up into the pale green eyes in such close proximity to her own. "I guess the cat's out of the bag with Marissa. Apparently Devin said something to her about us." "Devin knew we were going camping. Though it's improbable he knows what happened there." Jase noted, running his thumb along Autumn's lower lip as his palm caressed her cheek. He paused, reflecting. "I did ask him if perhaps your behaviour towards me indicated attraction. I wasn't sure, and didn't want to presume and make another mistake." "You talked to Devin about me?" Autumn asked, embarrassment warring with the little skip her heart made at the confession. "Not by name - I just described the behaviour and asked his opinion. Though he might have put two and two together." Jason smiled a tiny amount. "He's far from blind or stupid." "You're taking girl advice from Devin?" Autumn didn't know whether to laugh or be aghast. Jason shrugged, smiling. "He was pretty helpful. Said the best way to find out was to test the waters. It didn't occur to me to do so until that moment by the fire, though." He lightly brushed his lips over hers. "I'm glad I did." he murmured against her mouth. His pink-cheeked companion was glad, too; in fact, she spent the next few minutes communicating her satisfaction at the arrangement with quiet enthusiasm, heated kisses stealing the breath from their lungs and ardent caresses igniting incandescent sparks along their nerve endings. That it went no further was a testament to Jason's strength of will and Autumn's fear of being sent off to a remote convent on a mountaintop in Eastern Europe, and before the hour was too late to be considered "wholly unacceptable" by weekend standards, he offered to drive her home. Unlike the last time she'd visited, there was no argument or debate over whether she'd traverse the dark roads on her bicycle. As she changed back into her own clothes, somewhat reluctantly relinquishing the t-shirt he'd loaned her, she was silently grateful not to have to make the trip on her own after everything that had happened that night. "Oh, hey, I forgot to mention it earlier." Twisting her still-damp curls up at the nape of her neck, Autumn rolled the little elastic band off her wrist and looped it around the knot to secure it in place as she sat on the edge of the bed, getting ready to leave. "My mom said if you guys come by around 8:30 or so, we can all have breakfast before we head over to the Rez. Normally I'd just text you, but, you know. Sort of not an option." She grinned over at him, nose crinkling slightly as she leaned down to pull on her hiking boots. "Nothing crazy. Waffles. Bacon. Probably whatever fruit she picked up from the farmer's market. Coffee, of course. Wanna come?" A smile curved Jase's lips. "Having me over twice in two days for a meal? People will talk." he teased her, enjoyed the renewed dark rose that flooded her cheeks even as she smiled back at him. "What do you think they'll say?" she asked, playing along. Jason pretended to consider as he stood, moving to shuffle his feet into his own boots. "Probably that you're leading me astray by means of feeding me." He gave a small grin as he opened the door for her and followed her down the stairs. Autumn chuckled as Jason quickly told his dad - and Hank, who was still trying to beat Gar at chess - that he was driving her home, and as the pair headed out onto the porch, collected Autumn's bike, and headed over to the smaller barn she nudged him with an elbow. "Is the food method working?" "Definitely." Jason nodded, deadpan. "I'm totally led astray." He popped the trunk of his car and helped her hoist the bike into it, giving her a smile across the roof of the Charger as they moved to the driver and passenger doors. "Now let's get you home before Dana rescinds the offer to feed me."
  22. 1 point
    As Cassie and Marissa's conversation was cut short by the interruption of her brother and the now the horde of mouth-breathing barbarians that were somehow selected to protect the world, she touched Cassie's arm and reassured her, "We'll revisit this later. Take your time, collect your thoughts. I'll leave you be." She approached her brother as he was walking back to bring her her keys. "You're in Jase's driveway, miles from anywhere. The hell you lock it for, sand trap?" "Eat shit, spooge goblin." She snatched her key from him and acquired her own gym bag from the passenger side. Devin was already gone by the time her eyes once again crossed over the roof of her expensive car but she made sure to chirp the alarm just in case he was in ear shot still. Dick. By the time all was said and done, Kat was already up in the loft and could hear the thumping sound of Marissa's very familiar heels on the steps. Finally the dark haired beauty entered and she immediately saw Kat and offered a smile. "Hey, Kat." She remembered her name? "Not changing down there either? I don't blame you, my brother is a pervert, my boyfriends giving me hungry eyes since he got here and Jason... well, is Jason. Thousand yard creeper stare, all he needs is a trenchcoat." It became readily apparent that Marissa had no qualms about changing in front of others as she was undressing while she spoke. Most of it went in one ear and out the other as she marveled at how the entire changing session was executed with practiced precision, like she'd actually done lightning fast changing rehearsals in her life (which she had, but Kat knew absolute zero about the Jaunsten twins, so far). Kat was silently still in the process of getting ready when MArissa's gymbag zipped closed and she slung it over her shoulder. "See you down there." Behind the barn at the 'practice site' seemed like just one more reason for the Jauntsen Twins to remind everyone just how perfect they were. Money. Looks. and now they were flaunting their perfect work out bods for everyone to groan and roll their eyes at. Devin hit the field in a full compliment of UnderArmor work out attire that cost him around a hundred and thirty bucks so he could roll in the dirt in it. Long work out shorts with a pair of compression shorts and a sleeveless shirt sporting the 'UA' symbol that were all the deep purple and black. Marissa was wore her red workout outfit and if Autumn didn't know any better, she might say it was as much for Jason as it was for Cade that she flaunted her tight and toned athletic figure. It wasn't all totally groan-worthy, the twins had both worked incredibly hard at getting to where they were athletically and neither felt any need to hide that fact. Still, neither were particularly subtle about flaunting it. No one was quite capable of making people feel like that cheeseburger two weeks ago was a bad idea like the Jauntsens in their half naked work out attire. "I thought you didn't have powers," Tawny mentioned to Marissa as the young glam goddess dropped her bag near where Devin's was lying. "I have the ability to engender love and desire in people with my voice," Marissa said, already bored with the blonde clothes thief. "Which means, all of," she motioned to the area all around them. "This, really isn't for me, it's for you guys and your can crushing and pebble tossing and whatever. I figured while I was here, though, I may as well use the time for a core workout and some stretching. You're welcome to join me." "W-wait, back up..." Tawny's hands were up and she was trying to pump the breaks of the crazy train. "You can seduce people and make them love you, with your voice?" Marissa shrugged like it was her everyday now (which, in fairness, for all of them weird was the new norm). "Well, I think all of me can do it, I mean, let's be real, look at me." She panned her hands down her frame. "But, yes. I get the mojo flowing and people simply want to adore me, or whomever I want them to adore instead," her voice dropped into a low seductive tone akin to a contract waiting to signed. "Anyone?" The lovely blonde asked. Marissa's lips curled up in predatory delight. Al she needed was for Tawny to make, simple request and she could ruin her. She wasn't as pure and innocent as everyone believed her to be. Marissa knew that under it all she was just as barmy as the rest of them, not the innocent, selfless, kind hearted girl next door she played at. "Anyone." "Um," she nervously began, obviously unsure how to broach a budding topic newly formed in her thoughts. "Would you ever consider using it on..." "On...?" If she could have coiled around the nervous girl she would have. "Missy Turner?" She scrunched up her face like she was worried about speaking the girl's name out loud. Marissa's face melted into disbelieve. She'd never even heard of this Missy girl and why the hell would Tawny ask about her instead of asking Marissa to whammie her brother so he'd be with Tawny, finally. She shook her head, already unable to recall the name. Lazily he asked, "Who?" "Missy Turner." Tawny said with more confidence (since Marissa asked, after all). "See, Dan Delling has had a crush on her for the longest time, and wants to ask her to Homecoming but isn't sure how to go about it because they're both really shy. Maybe you could... help him out? He's a great guy, and she's really super nice, but they are both so incredibly awkward they'll just keep stumbling about instead of just going for it. What if they're meant to be and never find happiness over something as trivial as simply being scared to ask the other out?" Shelly's Queen glared at the sweet ray of selfless sunshine. "Get away from me. I'm not helping some incel losers find love so you can feel better about yourself. Go lift rocks." She dismissed her with a frustrated wave of her hand. "And I want my top back, tonight."
  23. 1 point
    Not all of us might come back, he'd said. Jesus, fuck. That was true, wasn’t it? Cassie. Jason. Marissa. Her first friends since… Well, in a long time, anyway. Devin. Cade. Sean. Charlie. Kat. Tawny. Even, she guessed, Courtney. They were all in this, now, when barely a week ago she'd been completely oblivious. At this point, almost anything could happen, regardless of how ready they were, or thought they were. They didn’t really know what Not-Cody was capable of, so any of them, most of them- Hell, all of them might just… not come home. Something twisted in her stomach as she thought of her mom waiting, checking her phone, calling Nathan and Sheriff Allister and her dad, probably in that order. Probably, too, Dana would never know what happened. It would be like that little boy in the basement, but maybe instead of her shoe it’d be a cell phone, a set of keys. Something trivial. Distracted from the grim consideration of her own mortality by the heated exchange between Marissa and Cassandra and their ensuing dramatic exits, Autumn sighed, dragging her fingers down her face in frustration. This was why they couldn't have nice things. This right here. Ugggghhhhh. A part of her wished she'd been late to this meeting, too. “Okay, look," she began as the sound of expensive heels faded downstairs. "Just to make it clear, none of what happened in the basement was recent. It’s fucking terrible, and Cassie is probably the only one of us who knows exactly how terrible, but it didn’t happen while we were,” she glanced sharply at the stairs, where Marissa had just disappeared in pursuit of the distraught clairvoyant, “screwing around." Her gaze shifted to the rest of the group then, clear and direct and unflinching despite the high color in her cheeks. "So if any of you are feeling guilty that Cody murdered a little boy and a bunch of animals in the last week, don’t, because he didn’t. The shoe, at least, has been down there since before Cody even disappeared, because Air Force Guy’s the reason it’s fucking down there, and he got eaten by the starfish-thing, or whatever.” A quick, dismissive shake of her head suggested that the specific taxonomy of the cephalogina didn't seem pertinent, and anyway, she hadn't been there, so fuck it. “We went to the Old Town Hall last night specifically to find out what we’re physically walking into. We went to the Rez this morning to find out what we could about the history of this stupid, bullshit cycle and see if there was anything we could learn that would be useful in dealing with Cody and the Dark and all of it," she continued, warming to the subject as she paced the length of the room, her hands moving seemingly of their own accord. "And you know, yeah. Sure. Some of it’s not immediately relevant, but we wouldn’t know if we hadn’t gone, in either case, and it still might be helpful anyway later on.” “Also. Cody isn’t the Dark, just helping it. So, sure, we deal with him first, because we know there’s a clock ticking down that we can’t see. That doesn’t mean the rest of it is irrelevant or unnecessary. This Enterich, whoever he is, is the one who sent the captain down to that basement with a little boy and some kind of crazy fucked up ritual. If he’s working for the Dark, he’s part of it, and he needs to be dealt with.” Pausing, the animated redhead turned her attention to Devin, spreading her fingers expansively as she lifted her hands. “So, yeah, you’re sort of right. The Dark is our priority, and if this Enterich guy is involved, he’s the next logical link in the chain. Then we just keep going until there's no more links, or, you know.” Autumn shrugged, a little twitch of her shoulders, as her hands dropped to her sides. “Anyway. I think that’s pretty much it from me. Unless…” …somebody else wants to blow up on someone who doesn’t deserve it, and complain about things not getting done while simultaneously not doing anything… “…anybody else has stuff to add, or questions. If not, yeah. I agree that maybe burning all this off outside is a fan-fucking-tastic idea.”
  24. 1 point
    "Sean." Jason said in the ringing silence that followed Cassie actually raising her voice, as Autumn put a sisterly arm around the obviously shaken blonde reporter's shoulders and glared at Marissa along with her. He was looking into the middle-distance, obviously thinking for a moment, before his gaze flicked back to meet those looking at him. "Sean can secure our communications. He can also safely track through data to find Enterich with little chance of it being traced back to him. Cassandra is right that we do not want to leave a loose end like that flapping loose. We'll get Sean on it - once we deal with the Dark." He stood up, moving collect himself a bottle of water. As he passed Autumn on the way back, he placed a hand on her shoulder, a merest whisper of a squeeze and warm contact, before letting the hand slide down her arm in a caress that was more reassurance than eroticism. "Marissa has a point that we've got enough information. Today, I think, will be our final day to prepare. We should finish this meeting, then train. And then go after Cody soon. Perhaps tomorrow - after the Carousel celebrations." "Why wait?" Cade asked, more from curiousity than anything else. Jason took a drink of water, then lowered the bottle and looked at him expressionlessly. "Because not all of us might come back from encountering the Dark." he said simply, as though saying 'it might rain tomorrow'. "I think, in light of that, a day in the sun with our families and friends will remind us all what we fight for." "Even you?" Courtney had to ask. Jason smiled slightly, giving a one-shouldered shrug. "I fight because it is in my nature. I fight because I am not prey, and the Dark needs to learn that. And yes, I fight for my people." he stated calmly, green eyes sweeping over everyone present. A ghost of a smile caused his lips to twitch. "That's you." "Question?" Tawny put her hand up in the silence that followed Jason's declaration, her eyes darting from face to face. "What is this 'Dark'?" "Big bad evil." Cassie said, still distraught but managing. "Like a parasite stuck into the world under the skin. It makes people violently angry, causes them to do horrible things. And there's another thing - like a spirit or demon or something - that directly takes people over. That's in the skull, I think. That's what's got Cody. I think..." she mused aloud. "I think that Cooper was supposed to be it's original... I dunno, 'host'? But he bailed."
  25. 1 point
    Discord's down due to a Cloudflare outage. Should be back up soon
  26. 1 point
    "Stop looking for Enterich." Marissa said flatly. Possessed of superhuman composure, the dark haired young woman sat up in her chair, since all eyes immediately turned to focus on her (where they belonged). The thought of Enterich being somehow in league with The Dark didn't surprise her in the lightest. Everyone was always after Dr. Jone's treasure, so why not some international occult terrorist organization? The thought of him children over to that monster though made her sick to her stomach. As always, she hid her crazy towards the thoughts of just setting loose the Fellowship on Enterich right then and there. She needed him to find out who was really threatening her family and give Annette and Branch Nine more to go on. "What I mean is, Cassie, when you find a name, please stop Googling the shit out of it and searching online data.... whatevers. We're dealing with mad men and lunatics and supernatural forces and you're making it public knowledge we know who they are. You saw the security those Crossroads goons had, you think they don't have internet scrubbers or hackers, or whatever?" "So, the last time we did this is was reveal, then talk, then reveal, then... what?" She shrugged and looked around the table. "We took managed to screw around for the last week and now some kid and a lot of cats are dead. "Look, I lover these little get togethers guys, I do, it let's me show off new outfits, but by the time we finally get around to striking at the Dark, half this town is going to be dead. We don't need a 'wild Enterich hunt'. We need to cross over, challenge this thing, defeat it, and wasted off our asses at Homecoming." "The wall, the throne, the tree. We know where it's hiding. We've known for awhile now... Why don't we just have Deej pull us all over to the other side and we Pennywise this thing with copious amounts of blows to the head. Cadums... I mean, Cade plays baseball, he has bats." "Can we borrow some bats, Cadums." Devin asked, smoothly. Cade just smirked, nodding at the reality that Devin was never going to let that go. "Aw, I think you embarrassed him," Courtney giggled. "We're just playing, Cadums." Marissa covered her growing smirk with two of her fingers. Tawny shook her head with an infectious smile. "Don't let them bother Cade, I think it's sweet that she's given you a pet name." "Great," Marissa said lazily. "Because Tawny's approval is what I live for. Also, that's my top." Tawny pulled her sky-blue flannel over to cover up the white cammi top she was wearing under it. The way it enhanced the love struck blonde's frame Marissa assumed she borrowed it to try and impress Devin. "I'll give it back later, geez." Tawny rolled her eyes and huffed like a younger sister.
  27. 1 point
    Marissa stopped to think, more to process, then shrugged. "Yes? I mean, I guess. I don't know. I was pissed at Autumn because she went after the guy I was crushing on and didn't even tell me. That's a serious violation of the Girl Code. After all, I totally got dibs. Things were totally cool between Jase and I. We were doing a little flirting, but I was under the impression he knew it was all playful. Then he gives me a gift and after that he just kisses me, just all in my space, his lips on mine, telling me he loves me, and shit just got weird and I was doing my best to keep my composure at that point. You might think I'm over reacting, I mean if Charlie or Cade had done it, I may not have been so wigged out, but Jason doesn't take well to negative feedback. He holds weapons to people's throats and shatters every bone in their body and he threatens to rip out organs. I know you guys are willing to gloss over that and giggle and think it's all okay, but I don't. Behavior like that scares the hell out of me and there he was making me uncomfortable in my home and I'm faced with the worry of if I tell him no will he snap all my limbs and hospitalize me? Then the rest of you would just be having pizza with him like everything was okay. I may have forgiven him for Liam but that doesn't mean that he didn't do those things or that I am any less terrified that he will again should something around here not go his way. Thankfull I told him to leave, and he did, but it could have gone very differently and I wouldn't be here right now, I'd be in his freezer waiting for Monday Marissa Chops night." She took a moment to catch her breath. "Which brings me to Autumn. I was pissed, sure, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that should be concerned, not angry. We're bestie's, right? So, I think she should be warned, at the very least, that Jason is a super-powered, emotionless automaton with murder on his mind." She checked her phone and held it up like it was going to somehow get a better signal. "Ugh, hate this farm." As an after thought she perked up. "Oh, sex with Cade was amazing, I totally recommend him. Five Stars, would ride again."
  28. 1 point
    Cassandra was quiet for a second as she tried to wrap her head around that rapid-fire succession of brain-jabs. "Wow, okay...that's genuinely awful, and I'm sorry you went through it. I had no idea. If you ever want to talk about any of that, totally confidentially, with me, please feel like you can." She was really wanting to know exactly how Jason had scared her, but it seemed a little insensitive to grill her about it. But. But. Maybe just a little? "So...you're pissed at Autumn because you're worried about her...and you were just 'you know' with Cade even though you don't have feelings for him?" Fucking Cass.
  29. 1 point
    It was hot out at Jason's family's farm, and the moment the air rushing around her on Devin's motorcycle stopped that heat crowded eagerly in. Cassandra dropped back a minute as everyone met up in front of the barn and took some wider-angle photos of the fields and the distant copse of trees one could see from the front yard. There was a certain electric tingle in the air that she didn't have a word for. An anticipation. Important things were about to happen. Possibility was as thick and as cloyingly present as the last gasp of summer warmth. She followed everyone into the barn. It wasn't Cassie's first time in, but she found herself moving between the rows of plants, running her hand through the thin spray of misters, taking close-up photographs of some of the cooler flowers and plants. Respect for Jase...and perhaps a sense that she wanted to keep her phone intact...prevented her from wider shots that showed what the building was, or what else was in it. It gave her an opportunity to peoplewatch as well. A blind woman couldn't miss the ice steaming between Marissa and Autumn...and some coolness towards Jase as well. Nor did it take Bob Woodward to figure out what that was about, though it was weird thinking of Marissa having feelings for someone. Maybe it was more of a possessiveness thing; she'd decided she wanted him, and it wasn't really 'feelings?' Or maybe she'd just misjudged Marissa? Watching her more closely, Cassandra though there was a kind of distance between the alpha bitch of Shelly High and everyone in the Fellowship, really. Not just a metaphorical one either. Mari wasn't meeting eyes, wasn't even cutting people down the way she usually did. It felt a little like she was trying to act as if the others weren't even there. Which was...a little weird. Preoccupied maybe, with this Jase drama? Courtney was the other one Cassie wasn't sure what to make of. She 'shined,' but wasn't really 'one of them,' in a real sense. Hell, she'd been helping Dr Cook, by reading minds and pushing people's behavior. And now they were going to try to train her to use her powers more? Give her some kind of power-boosting bracelet? You didn't have to be psychic to know that wouldn't end well. Huh boy. And there was Autumn going up after Jase, where they'd be all alone. Time to run interference on the Evil Queen. You owe your wing-girl for this, Autumn... Cassandra went over to where Marissa was standing with Courtney in her shadow, arms folded and glowering at the flowers around her. Had she noticed Autumn slipping away? Cass wasn't sure. "Hey, Marissa," she said cheerily. "Glad you could make it. We've all got a lot to go over today. Some...really dark stuff, some of it." Courtney gave her an exasperated look, and Cassandra realize she could feel...or maybe see...or...well she could sense the 'shine' in Courtney brushing over her, snagging gently over her head with a touch as light as cobwebs. Without thinking she automatically brushed back with her own shine, breaking the lines of power and pushing the net off of her. Marissa's beta-girl looked at her sharply, then narrowed her eyes, but said nothing. Cassandra kept her focus, or at least her apparent focus, on Marissa all through it.
  30. 1 point
    "I believe so." Jase replied, almost unconsciously straightening and lengthening his spine under the caress. Even though he was wearing a shirt, he could feel trails of electricity following the course of her splayed fingertips as he marveled at the sheer power of such a casual physical connection. Turning towards Autumn, he met her eyes and both of them felt it then, that primal and amoral wanting hitting them like fine liquor, warming and uncoiling through their veins. Was that all it took? Jason asked himself. A touch and a glance? What was this? "Good." Autumn said, her voice low as she looked at her hand, which hadn't left Jason as he'd turned around and was now splayed over his heart. She could feel it there through the cotton of his t-shirt under her palm, a steady and powerful drum-beat that had increased slightly as their eyes met. She looked back up at his eyes, feeling herself drawn up into the cool green pools, knowing that beyond them was that deliciously searing emerald flame that burned for her. "We, uh, should..." "Take advantage of the moment?" Jason's voice was little more than a breathed murmur as he stepped closer. "I agree." Autumn could have pushed against him, her hand on his chest could have halted him with a gentle pressure. But instead her hand slid up, over his collarbone and shoulder, and round to the back of his neck, fingers tangling in the shaggy hair there as their lips met, her other hand sliding up behind his back and pulling him close as she breathed him in with a sigh that was part whimper of need. Jason's hands encircled her hips to her ass, lifting her on her toes into the kiss as their mouths opened against each other and the world fell away from them both, soaring as they were on the thermals of... well... fwoosh.
  31. 1 point
    For those who have stumbled across this game, and are intrigued in perhaps joining the merry band of miscreants as they get into endless misadventures, below you can find the link to our Discord. Upon arriving, do take a minute to peruse the Rules tab - it won't take long as there are not many rules - and then say 'Hi'. We're a friendly bunch and hardly ever eat newcomers. Discord Link here! Hope to see you soon!
  32. 1 point
    "I'm certain the efforts of those of us who have been working towards the group's goals will prove satisfactory." Jase's affirmation should have been said with a hint of sarcasm or irony, with a raised eyebrow and perhaps a wry smile. Instead the line was delivered in a tone that was as ambiguously bland as his expression - save for the faint gleam that appeared and disappeared in his gaze as, somewhere beneath the green ice, something far older than a sixteen year old youth flashed a fin or, perhaps, a claw. If Marissa's curt greeting and catty manner had affected him at all, it was anyone's guess how or to what extent as he turned his stare on Courtney and Kat. "Were you waiting long?" he asked with simple courtesy. "Fifteen minutes or so." Courtney said when it became apparent Kat was, at least momentarily, tongue-tied. The telepath reached out, an instinct for her by now, and tried to get a sense of their host's emotions, a task that was easy enough with anyone else but with Jase simply left her with the sense of touching a dark, cold wall of ice the consistency of diamond. Which would be no great revelation, except that as she'd sensed his mind just a minute or two ago, sitting in the Charger with Autumn, a faint warmth of feeling had been sensed. But now? Zip. He was buttoned up and on guard, whether due to her presence, Marissa's curtness or just from habit when around others, the redhead could not tell as the lean youth nodded. "We're still waiting on one or two more, I believe." Jason indicated the larger barn that served as the Fellowship's HQ. "There's cold drinks and some snacks up in the war room. Let's go and get comfortable." "War room?" Cassie asked, grinning. Jason smiled, shrugging as his hand found Autumn's and he began leading everyone over to the barn. "Situation Room, perhaps?" he suggested. Autumn found herself smiling, for the moment dismissing whatever stick Marissa had up her ass as her boyfriend and her partner in plucky investigation bantered. "Fortress of Jaseitude." Devin chimed in. "Bet it has meathooks and-" Courtney began, then stopped as the doors were opened and she, along with the others, passed through into the colour-strewn paradise of the indoor greenhouse / hothouse. "...holy shit." "Yeah." Marissa muttered, feeling an unaccountable pang of... something or other as she watched Courtney and Kat react to the beauty around them. "Holy shit." Courtney said again, mildly entranced. "Did he- did you-?" "Yes." Jason said simply, glancing back once as he led them through the riot of sights and scents that were, by now, at least somewhat familiar to the others. He didn't hurry those that wanted to linger a little, merely waited by the door leading to the stairs up, Autumn's hand slipping from his as she moved to investigate a cluster of orchids and breathe in their scent. Her last and only visit to this garden to date had been too short, it seemed. There was still more to see, as timed sprays of water struck rainbows from the sunlamps overhead and trickled down over rich green foliage and lush blooms. Jase smiled a little as he watched her, and the others. "I'll be upstairs setting out chairs." he said quietly. "Since we're still waiting for others, take your time if you wish. I ask that you be careful what you touch." "Careful how?" Kat asked as she found her voice. Jason's lips twitched in a wry smile. "Don't touch anything set out of easy reach and marked 'Do Not Touch'." he said simply. "It would be inadvisable." And with that he was gone, ascending the stairs to the loft.
  33. 1 point
    Autumn was struck, simultaneously, by two impressions: first, that she was glad that this man had been friends with her grandfather, with his gracious demeanor and forthright manner, and second, that this place was protected in the same way Owen's study had been. At least, it felt that way, which meant that she could relax a little about hanging the bundle from her grandparents' place in her own home. Smiling, she gestured toward each of the teens in turn. "This is Cassie, my partner in crime," the redhead grinned broadly, "and this is Devin... and I apologize for him in advance, for whatever he says, and this..." Glancing up at the laconic young man next to her, she inched a little closer to him. "Is Jason. I hope it's okay that they came with me, Warden Crocker suggested it." Cassandra gave the old man a thumbs up and a smile, and greeted him with a bright, "Hey." "It's nice to meet you Mr. uh, Joe." Devin offered the older man a nod. "So, uh," he jerked a thumb towards the door that would take them back out to the lobby, and to Mary. "Is she seeing anyone?" Cassie looked at Autumn and made a little 'elbow jab' gesture... suggesting that was her cue. With a quick heavenward glance, the redhead nudged Devin sharply with her elbow. "Like I said, apologies in advance." "Ow, what?" he exclaimed, scowling as he rubbed his side. Joe laughed, his grin infectious. "Mary? Oh, she's currently between boyfriends. But you can dally around another day, kiddo." Joe smiled broadly as he took in the four. "Seems to me to be downright provident, four of you being here." As Jason nodded in his own silent greeting and the teens grabbed chairs, Joe fixed Autumn with a friendly grin. "So. Warden Crocker sent you to me? Nate's a good man." The gaze took on a sharp, knowing air. "Anything else bring you here?" Devin looked to Autumn. It was obvious he wanted to say something- when didn't he?- but he gestured from her to Joe. "It's your show, Granola. Glare if you need us." He winked and smiled at her, his consideration earning a warm grin of approval from Cassie. "Mmm," she assented, tucking a rogue curl behind her ear before flashing a quick scrunched-nose scowl at the teleporter. "Nathan sent to me to ask about some kind of ritual, but I also got into Grandpa's study, and found his journals, and a couple of letters he left, and one of those..." Autumn glanced pointedly at one of the bundles above the entrances to the room. "...And," exhaling quietly, she pulled the little cloth-wrapped object from her pocket. "And a lockbox full of these." Unfolding the brightly-patterned bandana she'd carried it in, the redhead revealed a maybe-copper bracelet that looked oddly familiar. Cassandra frowned at the bracelet, then glanced at Devin. "Isn't that... Devin, lemme see your arm for a second." Devin held out his arm, positioning his wrist near the bracelet Autumn was presenting to the group. "I got this from The Land of Upside-Down Thunder. How did your Grandpa have a whole box of them?" The freckled girl’s response was a helpless shrug and a quick shake of her head. "You got it where, boy?" Joe was not laughing - or smiling - now. He stared at the bracelet on Devin's wrist, then at Devin as though the young man had claimed he found it on the moon. "It's not exactly the same...but yeah..." Cassandra murmured thoughtfully, studying the designs engraved on both bracelets- similar, yes, but not quite identical. "The Land of Upside-Down Thunder. The other side,” he explained, unsure if Joe’s question was from disbelief or ignorance. “It's a nightmare realm, darkness and corruption everywhere. It pulled me through, but I-" Devin stopped short as he suddenly remembered he didn't know this man from Adam and decided not to inadvertently spill any more of his friends’ secrets. "Aaaand, you probably think I'm crazy. Never mind." "So." The old man sat back in his chair, his manner thoughtful rather than disbelieving. "You've seen it. Just you?" "We all have." Jason spoke up quietly. Autumn nodded in silent agreement, her blue eyes uncharacteristically grave. "Most of us haven't been there, but...yeah..." Cassie remarked. "Actually," Autumn shook her head, glancing over at the clever blonde. "Most of us have. At least the ones of us here. At the trailer." Cassandra frowned, "I didn't think you were there for that... Wait, no, that was like where you first..." She winces. "Sorry. Never mind. Wrong time." Recognition dawned on the redhead's features that they were talking about two separate events, two separate slices of awful from the same evil pie. "Yeah, no. Different trailer, sorry. Not the party you guys went to." Cassie nodded, quietly working to piece together the fragments of things she’d seen, heard, and intuited so far. There were so many threads to weave together, and so many things that had happened it was hard to keep track of them all; once in a while, though, she was sure if she could just see a little more, she’d be able to make out a pattern… "Something is there,” Devin interjected, jarring the seer from her musings. “On the other side. Autumn brought us here as rocks to cling to. She has questions, we all do, now, I suppose. Help her and then we can go from there. I know her Granddad was important to her, so..." He half-smiled. "That's more important right now." "Okay." Joe had been rubbing his chin thoughtfully, listening to the various recountings of events. "Okay," he repeated and took a deep breath, seeming a little shaken. "Never thought this day would come, personally." He fixed Autumn with a look. "You wouldn't have been able to find these things if you didn't have the Light. So everything I've been told, all the secret stuff I've had passed to me... It's all true. And now I'm having to take a moment, here." He took a hip flask from his pocket and took a long pull from it, restoppering it with fingers that shook a little. "All of you got it. It's not my imagination, or wishful thinking, right?" he asked the teens. "The Dawning Light?" Autumn nodded. "Yeah. There are others, too, who didn't come with us." "We call it the Shine, though," Cassie elaborated a little. The hip flask in Joe's hand began to shimmer and blur with a purple aura before blinking out of his hand and appearing in Devin's with all the same fan-fare, save reversed as the object rematerialized. He held it up and showed Joe. "Yep. We’re just big balls of pure sunshine and bad assery." He leaned over and handed Joe back his flask. "But we're flying blind." With a smirk, Devin nudged Autumn and whispered, "Tell me that wasn't cool though." Incredulous and wide-eyed, she smacked his arm with the back of her hand, hissing under her breath. "Stop it! You can't just take people's stuff!" "I gave it back," the unrepentant Jauntsen protested even as she sighed. “I swear, we can't take you anywhere," Autumn grumbled, more to herself than anything. "Holy shit." The old-timer looked like he'd seen a ghost, then abruptly he laughed. "Holy shit!" he exclaimed, still laughing. "It's real." And the teens realised the old man was crying even as he laughed, tears working their way down the craggy leather of his cheeks. Jason leaned forward, offering a handkerchief, seemingly unmoved by the man's emotional display, then sat back and waited as Joe collected himself. "Alright then." The old Indian said eventually, nodding. "So, you've gotta understand, kids, this is all ancient stories and stuff handed down through medicine men since before we had bows and arrows - so it's said. So if there's gaps in the story, or things that don't make sense, treat it as one of them allygoryes." "Uh, one sec before you get started." Cassandra held up her phone. "Mind if I record this? So we don't have to keep pestering you if we forget something." "Not at all." Joe shook his head. "We're supposed to keep it secret until it's time, but now it's time. So... Record away, girl." "Thanks!" Cassie manipulated her phone, then nodded. "Okay, go for it." Devin looked to Jase and leaned towards him, silently whispering. "What's an allegory? We fought one of those yet?" "A story, or poem, or sometimes a picture that can have a hidden meaning." Jase murmured in response. "Like some of the Bible stories - not literally true, but true in a sense." "Oh! Okay," Devin nodded. "Got it." Joe had taken another hit from his flask while this exchange had been taking place, and now set it aside before handing Jason back his handkerchief with a nod of thanks. "Alright. I'm translating some stuff from the old tongue, so it might be odd, but here goes. Long time ago, this land was hit by a star that was a giant boat, ridden by two men who were not men, but gods. But they looked like men, and talked like men, and so the Blackfoot tribe met with them and talked with them, and found they were very wise, and had mighty medicine." Cassie brightened at that, a fiercely triumphant expression blooming on her face for a moment. It didn’t totally confirm her theory, and she’d definitely need more information to be one-hundred-percent sure, but it also didn’t not confirm it, either. Resting her elbow on her knee, chin on her palm, Autumn idly twisted the bracelet in her other hand, features rapt as a child's as she listened. Wedged between Cassie and Devin, she focused on the older man’s words, letting the sound of his voice paint pictures in her mind’s eye of the events he was describing. "Their star boat was broken, and its glow escaped into the land, causing strong shadows to rise. Because the stronger the light, the stronger the shadow it casts. And the two men-who-were-not saw this, and were angry - with themselves, and with the other gods who had caused them to crash their boat. One of the men wanted to bury the wrecked boat, to keep it from the hands of normal Man, who would not be able to use the magic inside safely. But the other was maddened at the thought of never sailing in his star boat again. And so the two men fought, with weapons and magic that shook the earth, and one of the men was the victor. But the other did not die." Autumn stiffened slightly, teeth catching at the inside of her lower lip as she frowned. They had never seen Devin so quiet. His attention was fully fixed on the old Laughing Joe, listening to his story like a five-year-old might sit and listen at story time. He leaned in, resting his elbows on knees and just listened, for once in his life. Jason was motionless, his face expressionless as he listened, but like the others, his gaze was fixed on the old storyteller. "The winner was the Trickster, who all the Indian peoples call Coyote, in one form or another. He won because he liked Man, and did not want him to be destroyed, which would have happened if the other god, the Huntsman, had his way and tried to sail the ship again. Coyote spent some time with us, as his wounds healed, and he warned us of the dark place to the east, where he and the Huntsman had fought. He said we did not have the Light to fight the Dark or heal the wound their fight had caused, but he could show us how to guard ourselves... and then he gave us those bracelets to keep, for one day warriors with the Light would come forward, and they would need protection from the Dark. And the Huntsman... He became a spirit thing. Angry, tied to the Darkness. He became the eater of hearts, the cannibal who turns brother against brother. The Wendigo." "Yeah, we've seen him. He's a dick." Devin said flatly. "Fuck," Autumn murmured under her breath, not bothering this time to apologize for her language. It made sense. The puzzle pieces that had shifted in the basement of the Old Town Hall were slowly beginning to fall into place. Laughing Joe nodded sombrely. "His power was limited to causing madness and violence before. But it seems to have grown, if he can now draw you into the wound that is his realm." "So, a god couldn't beat the Dark, and now us, warriors are supposed to do it?" He seemed all manner of skeptical. "No way. No flippin' way. How're we supposed to beat a god? I'm barely passing algebra!" The old man shrugged. "Hell if I know, son. I just know you're the first to develop the Light, like the gods themselves had. You can feel it, use it, and wield it. For all I know, you're the new gods." He winked gravely. "Don't let it go to your head though." "We met him too," Cassandra said. "Coyote. He told me a lot of stuff that sort of dovetails with what you're saying. ...left a few things out though. Please go on." Joe's eyes widened, then he nodded slowly. "He's been walking the earth since that time. Now and then he's returned to this place - to keep an eye on it, I'm guessing. Otherwise, he's been off doing whatever he does." The old man rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "The talisman your granddad left you? He left instructions, right?" he asked Autumn, who nodded. "Follow 'em. As for the bracelets... They're for you - anyone with the Light, really. All I know is they grant 'protection'. That's it." He squinted at Devin. "I'd sure like to know how you got one on your wrist though, boy." "And why it almost killed Cassie," Autumn half-asked, half-stated quietly. "Because I'm a god and she was still getting a grasp of her powers. My greatness was too much for her mortal frame to endure." Devin looked at her shaking his head. "Obviously." "Devin," Autumn groaned softly. "Please, shut up." "I think it might have been because it had already bonded with you." Cassandra looked at Joe. "They can only be used by one person, right? Once they link...that's it?" Joe shrugged. "I've never seen one worn by someone with the Light before. So your guess is as good as mine” Cassie nodded. "Imma go with that." Autumn frowned a little at Cass then, her lips compressing into a thin line, but she said nothing, instead rewrapping the bracelet in her hand and tucking it back into her pocket. "So, do your stories tell of a third?” Devin asked. “Someone who exists in the Land of Upside Down Thunder? Because mine was given to me by a woman there. I didn't get mine from this realm.” Joe looked thoughtful, his gaze distant as he plainly tried to dredge up some mention of a third mythic figure. "It's said that the Trickster and the Huntsman had followers - people they ruled over. Not men, but looking like men. There's one old, old tale of a war party of ours meeting a handful of warriors in strange, bright clothing with strange weapons. These warriors hunted our war party for sport, it is said, and only three men returned home, and none of them without scars. One of these men told that the shining warriors asked about a horned man - which the earlier tales tell was the description of the Huntsman. When a larger war party went out, to seek revenge, the trail of the strangers disappeared into thin air. As if they had simply gone." "I can definitely confirm the horns," Cassie muttered. Tilting her head, Autumn peered over at Devin thoughtfully. "Does that sound like the woman you met?" "No, she was," Devin looked to the floor trying to recall her features. "She was... normal it seemed. Her head was covered with a helmet, but, I didn't feel a Shine from her. Then again, I'd just blown up the school and torn my organs apart by rapidly jumping to avoid the explosion... so, she could've looked like Beebo for all I remember." Grimacing, the red-haired teen nodded. "Okay, yeah. I guess that's fair." "A mystery, then." Jason murmured, his manner somewhat preoccupied as he turned over the terminology in his head. Two gods... the Trickster... Strange warlike followers hunting for their god, perhaps? Autumn straightened in her chair, again chewing the inside of her lower lip as she considered what her grandfather's friend had said. "All right. So it's basically just as my grandfather wrote, then, and we need to figure the rest out on our own. One of the things I'm curious about, though... And, admittedly," she added with a little smile, "it's kind of trivial compared to everything else. How did the lock to his study end up... um, 'tuned,' I guess? To people with the Light." Cassandra checks her phone to make sure it's still recording, then starts drifting away from Devin, Jase and Autumn to check the room out more, looking at the books on the shelves, and just sort of poking around as she listens to Joe. "You noticed that, huh?" Joe's eyes crinkled at the edges, the old man seeming somewhat pleased. "That was my doing. I don't have the Light - but I can feel it a little. All medicine men have, since the old times. And like the talisman, we've got some tricks to sort of... bend strands of the Light, in little ways. Rituals that look hokey and stuff, but they work. Mostly." She nodded, her expression relaxing slightly into an easy smile. "Yeah, it was pretty cool, honestly. I guess Mom gave up trying to get past it, at some point." Swinging her legs back and forth, the toes of her shoes scuffing at the floor, Autumn exhaled, clear blue eyes meeting the old man's deep brown ones. "So. What can you tell me about the ritual I'm supposed to do?" "Oh, that?" Joe smiled a little. "That's little initiation for the Kavanagh and Crocker line, a bit of a ceremony to bring them under our umbrella, so to speak. They learn some of the tales about the dark spirit, with some examples of the sinister stuff in Shelly's past, and then they learn about the talisman bundle, and hopefully enough belief is scared into 'em that they do what they're supposed to and protect their homes and watch for the cycle to start up so they can keep their loved ones close. That's about it, really. You already know it all, and your Light is stronger than any medicine I can give you to ward off the spirit." Autumn hmm’ed at that and nodded. Nathan had said this was for both the families, that the elders checked to see if they had the Dawning Light… But if Joe was right, that meant none of the Kavanaghs had- at least, not in recent memory. It was a lot to take in. "You mentioned we could 'heal the land' where the fight happened," Cassandra said. She looked over at Joe. "Do any of your stories mention how to do that?" "Plant trees and dance in the rain would be my guess." Devin said sarcastically. "We've all seen The Tree. I think if we're going to heal the land, we need to start there." "Yeah, but how?" Cass said, turning to face Devin. "It's huge. I've seen it." Distracted from her thoughts as the freckles on her cheeks vanished beneath a wave of crimson, Autumn glared at Cassie and Devin in turn. "Do not finish that thought, Deej. I can see it all over your face." Devin pursed his lips together, as though he was fighting a pitched battle against some great force within his soul. "Okay," he finally exhaled. "Fine." "That's what she said." Jason said quietly, a faint gleam in his eyes as a grin tugged at one corner of his lips. Cassie threw her hands up. "Aww, I was going to try to keep it going too. I was just about to say how impressive I thought it was he could keep a grip on himself." "Even if it does lead to blindness." Jase commented, nodding sagely. "Oh, come on." Devin glared at Autumn while gesturing to the other two. Joe's presence became a momentary afterthought. "How come they get a pass?" "I swear," the blushing redhead sighed, raking a hand back through her hair. "I literally cannot even right now, with any of you." Autumn covered her face with her hands, taking a few steps away from the group as she pleaded with all the gods, any god to just... incinerate her on the spot, right there in front of everyone. ...to no avail. Cassandra looked back at Joe, still grinning. "Seriously though...anything about the cleaning thing?" Joe was chuckling, his eyes bright as he watched the by-play. Shaking his head, he said, "There's purifying dances and ceremonies, but somehow I think this will take more than rattles and sacred feathers." "Trickster - Coyote - said that we have to destroy the skull, and that will do it." Jason commented, all business again as he looked at Cassie. "Isn't that right?" "Makes sense." Joe nodded approvingly Cassie frowned. "I don't remember him mentioning destroying the skull...but there is a skull over there. On the throne. And yeah, that does make sense. The throne is what...does it, I think. So the skull must be sort of a center of power." "The throne Is what does what, exactly?" Autumn asked. Cassandra shakes her head. "I'm not sure. The guy, the Air Force guy...he threw it off. He didn't go in. But I remember he was like...drawn to it. You could see it in his face. He couldn't take his eyes off of it. It wanted him to come to it. I think that's what happened to Cody." "Okay," Devin said with all his usual assertive bravado. "Then let’s go break that sh-" he paused and collected himself. "Thing." Autumn folded her arms over her head, slowly pacing the length of the room. "Okay. So. We deal with Cody. We deal with this spirit. We clean whatever's festering in the wound this ship made out, help it heal. More or less in that order. Yeah?" "Seems so." Jason nodded, sitting motionless in his chair save for the turning of his head as he watched Autumn. "I'm not sure the wound was made by the ship anymore. At least not ALL of the wound. I always thought it was weird the Dark is so far away from it. I think it's because the 'wound' that the Dark got in through was made by this fight," said Cassie. "Maybe," Autumn shrugged, unfazed, her eyes moving around the room, skimming over the artifacts and the faint, luminous overlay of silver that limned them as she walked. "So we deal with Cody. We deal with this spirit. We clean whatever's festering in the wound between worlds out, help it heal. What else do we need to find out?" Cassie considered. "I think, if we follow the Man in Black's plan, that's when we head to the ship." "Site B." Jason murmured, and Cass nodded in agreement. Autumn pursed her lips, the image of snowy mountains vivid in her mind's eye. "In the short-term, what do we need, though? Aeon's not calling back, so we're on our own." "Well, some of these bracelets, for one,” Cassie remarked. “And then...we just need to be ready to fight. If Cody was possessed or something by this Huntsman, there's no telling what he'll be able to do." "I have a dozen. You can pick the one you like,” Autumn replied somewhat tautly. "OH! And Enterich,” Cass exclaimed. “We should find him. Find out what he knows." "Ente- oh! The one who told Air Force Guy to..." Autumn paled a little, going still as she remembered what had happened in the basement. "Yeah. him." Devin looked to Joe and shrugged. "You get used to this. Someone says, 'loan me a quarter' and they all pace about and discern the meaning of his cryptic words: why does he need the quarter? Who else knows about the bargain of the quarter and why just a quarter? Will two dimes and a nickel suffice? If not, why?" He rolled his eyes and shrugged. "I'm still on break the skull." "That is definitely the end goal." Cassie nodded again. "You're also still on, 'That's what she said,'" the third official member of the Jauntsen Inner Circle quipped, a little dryly. "We train. We pick our bracelets. Then we go to the Old Town Hall and we do what needs doing." Jase's voice was as calm as his features. “Everything after that... comes after that." "See?" Devin gestured to Jason. "That's my plan. I like that. Let's to the thing." "Sounds like you don't need anything more than what you've already got." Laughing Joe advised. "Oh, sure. Lay out a simple, straightforward list of how we can proceed, and we're talking too much. Jason says the same thing, though, and suddenly it's reasonable. Ugh," Autumn huffed quietly. This was not how she envisioned this meeting going. At all. "That's my superpower." Jase's smile was microscopic, but definite, eliciting a faint, answering smile from his girlfriend. Cassandra had half-turned away, a thoughtful concentration pinching her forehead. "I think I may know how to get a lead on Enterich...but... Hey Laughing Joe?" She looked up at him. "This is all getting all out of control here, and we're kind of wasting your time now, but I have one more question before we go." "Shoot." Joe leaned back in his chair, eyes on her. "Do any of your stories tell you where any of these things happened? Like...the ship crashing, or where your people and Coyote talked, or any of that? Like, are they places around here we could visit? Or those three warriors...anything like that." "The star boat came down in the mountains to the east, so it's said. Coyote hid it from the eyes of Men... But there's a lot of official looking business going into and out of Glacier National Park. If folks have found it, then it makes sense that's where to start looking." Joe said, frowning as he considered. "As for the other events? They took place hereabouts in what is now called Montana. I've no idea where my people first met the god-men, or where the shining warriors hunted the braves, or any of that." Cassandra nodded and let her breath out. "Okay, figured I'd ask. Thanks for all of this. It's been a huge help." "My pleasure." Joe got to his feet, looking around at the four of them, his gaze sober. "Y'all have got a long road ahead. Miles stretching out, not all of them easy ones. You and your friends are welcome back here, though." The angsty loudmouth of the group got up to excuse himself, assuming the meeting was over, and took up a pen to begin writing something on a post-it there on one of the shelves. He passed the yellow square to Joe, where Devin’s phone number had been hastily scrawled. "If you need to Joe, please, call us. You helped us out, we owe you, big time. We're here." He smiled and shrugged. "And, y'know, pass that to Mary if she’s into gods or whatnot." Autumn's hands slid from the crown of her head, finding their way into the back pockets of her jeans as she hung back, watching the others. It was an uncomfortable feeling, bringing other people into something that was hers, inviting them into her house and her life… But that was a good thing, right? Wasn’t change supposed to be uncomfortable? The older man snorted a chuckle, nodding as he tucked the post-it into a pocket. Jason rose from his chair, nodding to Joe, then looked at the others questioningly as if to ask if they were all done. He smiled slightly as his eyes moved to Autumn, studying her expression and posture with his customary intentness. "Are we ready to go?" he asked, both generally to the group at large and specifically to her. "Yeah," she nodded with a little smile, grateful for the distraction. "I think so. The kids are getting restless. Go ahead, I'll be right there." "This is a nice pen," Devin said on his way out. "Writes good, I'm totally keeping this." Cassie snatched it from his hand with a roll of her eyes and set it back on the desk, pushing Devin out of the room. "Hey! C'mon!" "Haven't we stolen enough from the Indians?" Cass asked him archly. "Come on." She took his arm and escorted him from the back room back into the building proper, where he immediately began hitting on Mary, much to Cassie’s chagrin. "Thank you." Jason said quietly to Joe as he stepped after the bickering pair. Casting a glance at Autumn, he added. "I'll be outside." before following Devin and Cass from the room. Joe turned to Autumn, his gaze inquisitive. "Something on your mind?" "So, listen, I know that was a lot," she began, smiling as she stepped forward. "And like they all said, thanks for this. Everything's kind of been dropped in our laps, and we really have no idea what we're doing. Which, I guess, is kind of obvious." The leathery face creased in another one of those beaming smiles. "You're handling it well. Think I was half as composed when I was tapped to be medicine man and told all this stuff?" He raised a hand and grasped Autumn's shoulder. "Your ancestors are watching you, and they're proud, girl. Take it from one who knows." Oh, god. I am not going to cry in front of this man. Nope. Not happening. "Thanks," she breathed, her eyes brightening with emotion. "And, you know. I'm, um. I'm glad you were his friend. He didn't have a lot of those. So. Yeah. I guess that's it. I'll talk to mom tonight, and..." Sighing, Autumn licked her lips. "And deal with the rest as it happens. But at least now we all know we're not totally crazy, right?" "Well, not for believing in Light and Darkness. We might still be crazy for standing against it - but then, someone's got to." Laughing Joe said, his gaze more serious. "You be sure to stop by and let me know how it all turns out, once you win, hey?" "Yeah." She nodded, pushing the hair back from her face. "Yeah, I'll be sure to do that. Listen, um. Would it be really weird if I gave you a hug?" "It'd be weird not to." Joe laughed, opening his arms. Relieved, Autumn embraced the old man who'd been a friend of her grandfather's, and who'd given them more information than she could've hoped. It was exactly the kind of hug she'd expected from someone with his name, and exactly the kind she needed- warm and restorative. They talked for a few minutes more, with the youngest Kavanagh asking Joe a few more personal questions- how her grandfather had come by the lockbox, how they’d become friends, and finally... how to pronounce his name, which she sheepishly admitted she’d avoided on purpose. By the time Autumn headed out to join her friends she was smiling again, and glanced down the sidewalk toward the fast food restaurants. "So," she asked. "Anybody hungry?"
  34. 1 point
    The familiar black Mercedes crunched the gravel of the Bannon farm's driveway and came to a halt not far from the barn where the driver knew Jason parked his car (which she took partial credit for restoring since her and her brother supplied the pizza). Even after the car was in park they all knew she was still in there, checking her makeup even if they couldn't see her through the black tint of the windows. Jason recalled her last visit here, where Hank and his father complimented on his choice of women as Alice Cooper's 'Poison' blared loudly when she opened her door. Talk about an omen he didn't catch. Things were less than stellar between the two teens but what he lacked in his friendship with Marissa he'd seemed to have found in his relationship with Autumn and that suited him just fine. Music assaulted the air as Marissa stepped out of her car. Her hiking heels were a statement punctuated by a simple denim skirt and a black and white top that fell off her shoulders and exposed her midriff where she proudly brandished her navel piecing of a glittering black stone in the shape of a heart. Her car oor closed and she approached the rest of them, side eyeing Autumn with what could be described as 'seething irritation'. "Jase," she greeted their host with nothing more than a single word that was as much a brick wall to block any of his responses as it was a hello. "Minions." She greeted everyone else. "So, big news," Courtney's smile grew wide. "According to your brother, we're gods. Like actual gods. Road trip plot bombs, am I right?" "Yeah, I know." Marissa said with a shrug. "I was born to be worshiped, sister. Where the fuck you been? I did not need road a trip to tell me that." It was here in front of Marissa that the other saw the old dichotomy between the two. For some reason or another, Courtney was uneasy or even fearful around her 'friend'. Like no matter what she would never be worthy of Marissa's company and the evil twin lorded it over her. She was being shitty and it was obvious but it was also known that apparently her and Autumn had beef that was yet uncooked. "Please tell me you brought back something other than that. I can't handle another series of cryptic riddles and ancient stories that are vague and unreliable."
  35. 1 point
    Devin seemed to be the center of entertainment as the four approached the house and the awaiting guests, Courtney and Kat. They seemed to all be in good spirits with more or less smiled on their faces. Cassie pushed his arm, laughing while Jase just smirked and Autumn rolled her eyes. "...totes gonna. I'm telling you, she was totally into me." "You're delusional," Autumn said between her smile. "He's perpetually delusional," Courtney agreed, closing the remainder of the distance. "C'mere." She held out her arms expectantly to her old partner in crime and fellow 'ex'-bully of Shelly High. Devin wrapped his arms around her and gave her a hug, reminding everyone here that despite his professed allegiance to the Fellowship, he was, along with his sister, part of the ruling body of popular kids at their high school who made the lives of everyone (present company included) a living hell. Autumn's life was shattered piece by piece by him and his sister. Sean wasn't here today because of how badly Courtney tortured him over the years and didn't feel comfortable around her. Even Jase on one occasion or another felt the abuse of the Brute Squad in Shelly, always trying to coax out of him some reaction or trying to get 'the retarded kid' to say or do something. Growing up in Shelly wasn't easy to begin with but the arrival of Devin and Marissa made it far, far worse. Now here was Devin lifting Courtney off the ground and her squeaking as he spun her around before setting her down while everyone they abused looked on played friendly-like. Shit in Shelly Montana made zero sense sometimes. "Put me down, put me down!" she giggled. When her feet were back on the ground she slapped his chest. "So? Who's Mary?" "No." He pointed at her, smiling. "Get out, you don't get to play in there right now." He looked to Kat and nodded a greeting as almost an after thought. "Hey, New Girl." "Oh," she pouted. "But it's so depraved in your head. Love what you've done with her, it's like Victoria's Secret released a slutty Pocahontas collection." "I know right?" He smiled and said with a measure of pride in his tone. "Oh, bee tee dubs, we're all gods."
  36. 1 point
    Now what? She’d done what she’d set out to do: confirm whether or not Nathan had been telling the truth about her grandfather and about their families’ involvement in Shelly over the last… who knew how many years. She’d found the study, unlocked the door, and the journals were all there just as he’d said they’d be- waiting, as they’d waited somewhere for Owen in his day, for probably all of the Kavanaghs. As they might wait, still, if this cycle of insanity and death continued, perhaps with the addition of her own account wedged between the former Warden Captain’s and the colorful slab of petrified wood she used as a book-end at home. ...If she survived to write it, anyway. The chair gave another cursory squeak of complaint as Autumn rose, sock feet silent on the rug. They paced, once, the length of the room. Then twice. And then paused in front of the tall cabinet with beveled glass doors. The latch clicked softly at her touch, hinges swinging wide to lay bare lifetimes of observations by her family- families, really, she considered, remembering what Warden Crocker had said about their shared history. About Jacob knowing some of it, probably more than he let on. About her hypothetical role in all of this. Pale fingertips skimmed over the volumes arrayed on the shelves- some hand-stitched and clad in dark leather, others little more than slim notebooks yellowed with age. There was a kind of power here, wasn’t there? A sense of… what was the word? Gravitas. She could almost feel a faint tingle as she stroked the spines and worn bindings, an almost-tactile sensation that, while not precisely magic, was in its own way magical. Although her grandfather probably hadn’t intended for the contents of this room to be part of her inheritance, they were now- perhaps more so than even the house itself would be when she came of age. Sliding the first of the books carefully off the shelf, Autumn sank to the floor in front of the cabinet, crossing her legs as she sat. This was where it started. Not for her, but for someone who’d maybe stood in her place. At least, metaphorically speaking. The unmarked cloth-bound cover crackled softly as she opened it, laying it gently on the carpet in front of her; Thomas Michael Kavanagh, the faded graphite scrawl read on the front page. “God, how old is this?” she breathed, half-disbelieving. And there were more journals than she’d expected, too… Which meant that either her ancestors had been seriously prolific note-takers, or this had all been going on longer than the five or so generations since Shelly had existed. Or, the redhead suddenly came to a grim realization, and swallowed hard: They might have all just died young. The first entries, frustratingly dated by month and not by year, detailed the hardships of frontier life, frustration at the implacability of the landscape, and grief at the loss of an infant son. ...Which, she realized, was pretty standard fare for pioneers. There was no obvious mention of war, famine, drought, mining, railroads- nothing that could point to a specific point in time in either country. It was instead an intensely personal chronicle of a man of faith attempting to eke out a life with his family in an unfamiliar and unforgiving world. As she continued to skim through the tricky penmanship and creative spelling, though, Autumn found a curt entry describing an uncomfortable meeting. [...Yesterday evening we had been visited by some few of the local Indians who asked after our stock. I am grateful to God that Catie and the children were in-doors. I think they meant to trade but I cannot be sure...] It was an anomaly, a definite interruption of what (she admitted guiltily to herself) was otherwise relatively boring text. It was probably fascinating stuff for an historian, but for her? Not so much. There were other interactions after that, she discovered, interspersed among those that discussed the awful spring weather, Thomas’s prayers for the future, and his wife’s poor health. All of them were similarly brief, but there was a gradual shift in language and tone over a period of several months, from “the local Indians” to “our neighbours” and, eventually, “our friends from across the river.” Soon after, an entry in June: [...Word came in the morning to-day that a terrible thing has befallen the Byrnes, late of Wicklow. All perished save the father, and himself missing. Catie lit a candle, and we all of us prayed for his safe return and the peace of Our Lord on his family, may He grant them eternal rest...] Followed by another, less than a week later: [...Young Stephen Moore was found in a very sad state, fallen afoul of some wild animals. My darling Anne is beside herself, and has been all evening in prayer. They were a fine match…] And a few days after that: [...An affray in town this morn. James Byrne stabbed three men at the G.S. before he was brought down. I do not dare tell my Catherine…] There were more such events over the following weeks, even with those involved being separated by miles, and as she read Autumn felt a growing sense of unease: numerous violent attacks attributed to “wild animals,” children gone missing, ordinary people suddenly flying into unreasonable rages over trivial matters. Even Thomas’s own offspring weren’t immune, as he reported in July that the two eldest boys had that afternoon beaten each other bloody without good explanation; the oldest of the girls, Anne, whose sweetheart had died, reported fearfully that she had dreamed of the Devil himself with great horns and flaming eyes. The next entry was dated several days later, with no mention of what transpired: [...The trinket our friends brought hangs above the door, though I can hardly bear to look at it. I do not know what power their heathen prayers have to bless our home, but I am a desperate man and must believe it was Our Lord’s will that they came to us. My dear Catie awoke this morn. Surely we are all children of God…] “Holy shit,” the red-haired descendant of this long-dead author whispered into the silence, peering up at the arrangement of beads and feathers above the door to the room in which she now sat. “Holy. Fucking. Shit.” Then, sheepishly as she remembered where she was: “Sorry, Grandpa.” Was this talisman the same one Thomas had gotten from the Blackfeet, or a more modern replacement? This was… Wow. Just, wow. She had no idea what time it was, or how long she’d sat there on the carpet in her socks- but now that she’d begun the story, she had to finish it, right? Bending over the journal again, Autumn resumed turning the pages, her expression rapt as the faded letters carried her back through time. Thomas wrote of the worrying frequency of these awful, inexplicable happenings in the area at first once a week or so, and then almost daily, until suddenly… Nothing. He continued to write, of course, in that same archaic style and spare prose, but only about the mundane frontier life he’d described through the first several months. The final entry was dated simply, “November:” [...The horrors of recent months seem now like a fever-dream. I grieve for the lost, though my family was spared by the grace of God and the blessing of our Indian friends, whom He sent as our earthly salvation. We will keep their symbol next to His, lest we forget our peril now in times of good fortune…] Autumn slumped forward bonelessly over her crossed legs- hands on the floor, forehead on her hands- and just sat for a moment, breathing in the faint, sweet whisper of tobacco. This wasn’t a story someone told about something they thought they saw. This was someone’s real, actual life, written as it happened, probably at least a hundred years ago… But apart from the language, it could almost have been pulled straight from Shelly, circa 2019. If there was an older record than this, she decided, the Blackfeet would likely have it. The other journals might provide more details, but for now, this was enough. Well. Lifting her head to peer once more at the cabinet, and then the desk, the youngest of the Kavanagh line frowned. Almost enough.
  37. 1 point
    Oh. So, this was a thing that was happening now. Because the fact that she- Autumn Keane- was dating Jason Bannon was A Thing. And, now, it wasn't just a between-them Thing, but an out-in-the-open Thing. A Thing that, she was suddenly reminded, had apparently made Marissa angry, which... kind of made no sense, unless she was upset she didn't hear it from her. That seemed like a girl best friend reaction, right? Maybe? Autumn sighed, resigned to spending the rest of the day as a hot blushing mess. Glancing back in the direction of the kitchen and the delicious smells of breakfast pouring from the doorway, she weighed her options. Cassie was a friend now, even if they hadn't exactly put a label on it yet, and although she'd always considered Jason a fairly private sort of person, he didn't seem to mind being open about their status update. Obviously. Her lips were still tingling, slightly warmer than the rest of her face, as the red-cheeked redhead pressed them together. ...Which was not helpful, because it only made her think about how different it felt when he was the one doing that, and- Whew. "As a boyfriend?" she repeated, pointedly focusing on the spirited reporter's actual questions and edging away from the doorway just in case either Devin or her mother happened to be paying attention. "I mean..." Autumn reflected for a moment on the events of the last few days, holding the warm mug in both hands as she took a long sip of her coffee. "It hasn't even been that long, just since Friday, so I don't really know. Like, no flowers and stuff, obviously, which is fine. The ones in his barn are way nicer, anyway.” She smiled at that, the sunlight catching the faint green flecks in her eyes as she turned to watch the dogs and squirrels through the sliding glass doors. “And no, we haven’t. Stuff just kind of happened when we went camping, like he said, and…” Exhaling, she took another drink, resolutely keeping her gaze fixed on the landscape and not on Cassie’s smirk. “And neither of us expected it to, so we weren’t… you know. Prepared.” The tone of her voice was suggestive, framing the word in audible quotation marks. “Or we probably would have. I don’t even know how to describe it, honestly, just like…” The sensation of sparks turning her blood molten, of flickering flames in his fingertips, remained vivid even in her memory; despite her embarrassment, the Titian-haired Girl Scout grinned. “Like fwoosh,” she elaborated, gesturing expansively with one hand as she turned back to Cassandra. “Fwoosh?” the intrepid journalist asked, her grin equal parts skepticism and amusement. “Yeah,” Autumn nodded, still smiling even as the pink in her cheeks deepened again. “Like the sound of something suddenly catching fire, you know? Physics. Chemistry. Honestly, I kind of feel a little bit like a crazy person around him in a very, um, sciencey way, and a totally different kind of crazy person when I think about how crazy it is. I mean, he’s Jason Effing Bannon, right? And that’s a whole thing on its own, but…” She glanced again in the direction of the doorway, the music, and the mouthwatering scent of bacon and lowered her voice. “But when we left Bunnee’s last night, I went to his house. I know, I know. I just showed up, and asked for a shower and a hug, and Cass, he just said ‘okay’ and freaking gave them to me. Like, sat there for over an hour and just hugged me while my clothes were in the laundry and talked to me until I calmed down, and then he brought me home and dropped me off at the end of the driveway so I could ride back up, and I have no idea what I’m doing, and I’m totally out of my depth with him, and it’s probably either the best idea ever or the worst, but I need to know.” Autumn paused to take a much-needed breath, her expression utterly earnest. “You know?”
  38. 1 point
    This is a quick write-up I did for anyone interested in participating in the group outing Autumn will invite the teens to on her family's property. There's no obligation to be involved, obviously- my thought is that it would be a good opportunity for roleplay, character development (specifically with regard to some short-term aspirations), and general shenanigans apart from all the externally-driven drama of the plot. If your PC would be interested, they're welcome to attend! We can work out the "hows" and "whys" in Discord. That being said, it will be brought up IC in some fashion as well, to give people the opportunity to ask questions or make suggestions. If there are any specifically OOC questions, comments, or concerns, I'd like to hear them! -Vivi Group Camping Proposal Location: The campsite is a broad, roughly circular clearing of mostly bare, packed earth on the edge of a slow-moving creek, surrounded on three sides by tall, narrow pines and a few smaller deciduous species. There is a fire pit dug in the center for cooking and heat, and plenty of seasoned firewood already stacked between a pair of small trees. There is no running water, no wifi, no electricity- no man-made hookups or tech at all. That means no microwave, no USB charger, and no plumbing. Phones and GPS still work, but the absence of development makes the place feel more remote than it actually is. In the event of an emergency: the site is roughly 4 miles from Autumn’s house (~2 miles off the road from her grandparents’ driveway). An ATV could get back there without much problem, but the trail isn’t meant for full-sized vehicle traffic. Getting back there: Autumn’s mom is willing to allow a few (3-4) vehicles parked in the driveway overnight, so carpooling may be a good idea. It’s entirely possible to walk the entire distance in about an hour and a half, or less if the pace is more than “leisurely” (at least one character intends to do this). What to bring: This is just a list of practical recommendations and suggestions to give you an idea of what your character might want or need to have on-hand. It’s not intended to be exhaustive or all-encompassing. -Entertainment. Cards, books, musical instruments, fishing tackle and gear, games, or your own personal electronic devices and charge packs- whatever your character would want to do with 1-2 days away from everything. A few of the bulky/expensive items could probably be foraged from Autumn’s house, or her grandparents’ garage, if someone really wants a canoe or kayak or something. Other ideas: Star charts, binoculars, a journal, homework (ugh), etc. -Food and drinks. Water. For practical purposes, the creek water can be safely boiled, but you’ll want plenty to drink depending on activity level. Stuff for meals and the means to cook them will be provided, but snacks or anything special your character wants/requires will need to be brought along. -Clothes. Basic, sturdy, comfortable outdoor wear. Good quality sneakers or hiking boots (preferred). Light jacket for early morning and evening temps in the 40s; layers are a good idea. Whatever your character needs to do the stuff they enjoy- swim clothes, towel, sandals, etc. -Basic necessities. Standard toiletries, whatever your character needs for general good hygiene. Insect repellent (more for ticks than mosquitoes). Sunscreen. The usual. There’s a first-aid kit, but it never hurts to have more than one. Flashlight and/or lantern. -A bag. You will need this to put your trash in. -A tent, sleeping bag, blanket, pillow, etc. Autumn can furnish a couple, but either everyone’s cramming into 2-3 tents, or other people will need to chip in. -Folding chair, blanket, beach towel, etc. to sit on. The (Basic) Rules of the Site: -If you bring it in, you take it out. If it’s here when you arrive, it stays. -If you don’t know what it is, don’t touch it. -Do nothing to alter the camp site. -Don’t feed the animals. Who's invited?: All core PCs. Considerations: https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/hygiene-sanitation.html?series=intro-to-backpacking https://www.timeanddate.com/weather/@5677433/historic?month=8&year=2019
  39. 1 point
    While Cass distracted the guards, Devin slipped away. He smirked and shook his head as he was mildly entertained by Cass wanting to be all in their business like the reporter in training she was. The kitchen was only a few steps away, and closer than the bathroom he'd have to look for on his own, so he made his way in there. Waffles and eggs and bacon were all on the menu it seemed and the wonder mom that was Dana Keane had everything well in hand. Still, it was more than one person could handle on any day and with her assistant pulled away for tabloid interview, she was nursing her coffee while juggling the morning's breakfast. Devin could see the headline now: "Bat Boy Found, But Captured and Eaten By New Power Couple, Jase and Autumn!" He smiled at that. "Do, uh," the back of his hand tapped nervously and gently into the palm of his other. "Can I uh, help out with anything?" He asked the lovely redhead. "Waffles! Nice. One of my favorites." Small talk that didn't involve being a pervert or an ass was easily one Devin's weak spots, but it wasn't just the Fellowship or the school he needed to endear himself to on his path to redemption, it was the families of those he'd wronged too. He'd learned that from his mom, or, more to the point, the few books she'd written on the topic coupled with copious internet searches. "I do this thing where I whip the eggs seperately from the yolks then mix them afterward. It uh, makes the waffle more airy, or, fluffy, I guess." Dana was annoyed that Devin Jauntsen was even in her home, let alone her kitchen attempting to make small talk with her. Still, for her daughter's sake, she finished her sip of coffee and set the mug on her counter top as she chopped the eggs in the pan gently, scrambling them. "You can make waffles?" She asked incredulously. It came out a bit more abrasive than she'd intended but with an diplomatic half smile she recovered her composure. "Up on the hill, lording over Shelly, most people just assume the Jauntsens have servants and maids to make all their meals." "Yeah, with the storm clouds and the bats... I know, but we had to do away with the weather machine, EPA guidelines. Bats, wouldn't you know it, are endangered in these parts, which I warned mom about before we moved to Montana." He shrugged defeatedly. "No one listens to me." Despite her current position on Devin the boy had mastered the art of schmoozing awhile back. He knew that Mrs. Keane, despite not liking him, wouldn't do or say anything that would embarrass or hurt her daughter's standing with her friends, let alone her new boyfriend. He stepped up and washed his hands in the sink, before picking up a knife and setting a strawberry on the cutting board and did a rolling cut with practiced accuracy. "The staff we kept sacrificing to our dark gods to keep us wealthy and young, so no one answers our ads for help anymore. Needless to say last Christmas was rough. All dark pagan worship and sacrifice, then we were stuck ordering pizza." "You never turn off the smarm, do you?" Dana asked with an appraising eyebrow raised. "Sorry, defense mechanism." He smiled that charming smile of his as another slice of strawberry rolled off the knife's edge. The thickness and angle were exactly the same as the one before it, as Devin's keen sense of distance, angles, and measurements unconsciously aided in this small task. "I learned to take care of myself, Mrs. Keane. Our parents really aren't the most nurturing sort. So, we've learned to watch after each other. I took up the cooking, and cleaning. Marissa handles the dishes and laundry and keeps up with our schedules so we don't miss appointments, dentist, doctor, stuff like that." There was an awkward pause, the sort one felt when the distinct feeling that the listener didn't care about what the speaker was saying, crept over him. "Your dogs are cool," strawberry slices were piling up giving Dana reason to pause as her proficient and educated skills of observation from years of work in the medical field, noticed the strange fluidity and accuracy of the sixteen year old boy slicing strawberries with laser precision like a chef who'd had nearly thirty years to practice. "We weren't allowed pets. They were a distraction, Mom said." "A distraction," she offered him a look of genuine interest now. Adding a pinch of salt and pepper to the eggs she mixed them together in the pan with the spatula and finally tilted the fluffy yellow goodness out onto a larger serving plate. As she cracked more eggs, she followed up. "From what?" "Oh, our Mom had this whole child stardom thing planned for us. It was up at four in the morning for workouts, rehearsals breakfast and school prep, then school, then back for workouts, rehearsals, auditions." He shrugged dismissing his past. "Typical MaliCali life. Pets, video games, friends... wasn't really in the cards for us. We had a social life, but it was with other kids whom our Mom had previously screened and would improve our image or positively promote our brand." "Sounds like it was rough," Dana commented dismissively yet with just enough compassion as a mother to understand that not all children were given the love and nurturing that her daughter was given. "So, what are you getting at, Devin? Hmm? Am I supposed to listen to your story and accept that everything you and your sister did to my daughter over the last several years is completely justified because the Jauntsen twins didn't get their pony?" Devin sighed and set down the knife. Twisting the stem from the cut strawberry he was cutting he popped into his mouth. "No, of course not," he chewed. "Look, Mrs. Keane, I know I've been a jerk, hurtful even. I-I'm not that guy anymore. I like your daughter, a lot." She raised an eye brow at him, shifting her posture like a jealous father ready to law down the law to protect her daughter from love triangle drama. Realizing how he phrased it, Devin scrunched his face at her and recoiled slightly. "What? No. No, not like that. I know it seems strange. That I sort of just pulled a one-eighty one day and now Jason and Autumn, and all of us are all chummy and it makes as much sense to us as it does to all of you, the parents. Believe me, the Cassidy's don't even let me into their home, let alone invite me to breakfast." "And do you understand why?" She asked him, tilting her coffee and realizing she just took a motherly tone with him. "What? Oh, wow," he seemed caught off guard for a moment. "Uh, so.. yeah, wow, we-we're doing this? The ol' pull the Mom card out and lay it on the table. Yeah, of course I know. I was an absolute terror, I get it. Bu-but, look at it from my end. I'm trying really hard at something that doesn't really come with an instruction manual. You adults are always telling how we're getting older and we need to start accepting more responsibility and put our adult pants on... but... you don't ever stop treating us like kids. Autumn is amazing and beautiful and fun. She's grounded and has her act together like no other person I've met before. I screwed up, I did things I can't take back but all I want is the chance to be a friend to her now. To be forgiven and offered a chance to start over, y'know?" She shifted the eggs in the pan and let them slide off onto the platter. "Have you told her that?" Devin stopped chewing his second strawberry and glared off into nowhere. Shit. He just got mommed. "I... I guess I haven't. Hard to start over if I've never bothered to apologize, huh? Good call, Mrs. Keane." "Yeah," she smiled to herself. "Been doing this for a couple years. I've picked up a trick or two."
  40. 1 point
    Charlie Laying on the bed, grinning up at the ceiling as he heard the shower start, Charlie was feeling pretty good about life. Sure, the problems he'd pondered earlier were still at his doorstep - in a week or so he'd be leaving Shelly, his friends and their struggles, and his girlfriend behind for what seemed like too long a time. But it was hard to be morose with that many endorphins and post-sex feel-good hormones rushing around his body. Sophia had definitely achieved her goal of being memorable, that was for certain. For a moment, he reconsidered his acceptance of the theater camp placement. Sure, it was only a few weeks. But then, it was a few weeks without Sophia. Sighing, he sat up and swung his legs over so his feet touched the floor. At least it was after Homecoming. At least he'd be able to help fight the Dark with his friends, rather than leave it roaming free in Shelly where it might even conceivably hurt Sophia. He remembered what he'd said to her, in the conference room under the Marias Medical Center when she'd asked what the Dark was. "Evil force of evil." Charlie had whispered to her. "But I'll never let it hurt you." It was important, that promise. It had seemed casual when he'd uttered it, a bit of bravado to allay her fears (and his own). But he found, reflecting on that moment, that he meant it, powers or no. Standing, he stretched, then turned and frowned at the state of the sheets and blankets before quickly stripping the bed. After all, they were both getting showers, so clean sheets was probably a good thing too, right? Dumping the sheets in the hamper, he quickly re-made the bed with fresh ones then, hearing the shower still running, decided to go and get them both a drink. Humming, he pulled on a pair of shorts and headed downstairs. The lights were turned down in the lounge, the flickering of the TV screen still casting shadow-puppets on the walls. They'd moved their shenanigans from the couch to upstairs without bothering with niceties like thumbing the remote. Grinning at that, Charlie picked up the remote and flicked the TV off, leaving the lounge quieter and darker, the shadow of a tree cast across one wall by light from the street. Barefoot, he ambled into the kitchen and opened up the fridge, rummaging around for some suitable refreshment and finding a couple of bottled wine coolers near the back. He stared at them for a moment, doubt nagging at his mind. His mom wasn't likely to raise hell over the wine coolers, but it would lead to questions, which would lead to awkward conversation... He shrugged, grabbing the bottles. The hell with it. But the nagging doubt persisted, causing him to frown as he opened the bottles and poured them into a pair of glasses. Something was off. Something was- He paused as he set a bottle down, staring blankly at the doorway to the lounge. Then it occurred to him with a chilling realisation: The shadow. On the wall. There was no tree in the yard to cast a shadow from the streetlights. Fuck, he thought as he moved to the lounge doorway and peered inside. The light from outside shone on the wall unblemished, no shadow cast across it. Had he imagined it? A prickling on the back of his neck said that no, he hadn't. Lately, Charlie had learned to trust that cold prickle. He'd felt it looking into Jason's eyes. He'd felt it more strongly meeting the mysterious Mr Enterich. And right now, he felt it most strongly of all, accompanied by a slick, oily cold slithering sensation that crawled his flesh. He knew what that meant. Cold prickles were one thing, gut feelings. But this was something else. This was the presence of the Dark. He turned, his first thought to get upstairs, to get to Sophia, his mind filled with fears of her being vulnerable and alone, easy prey. And ran into a solid figure that had, unheard, slipped behind him in the gloom of the downstairs hallway. In his instinctive concern, he hadn't recalled what they had learned as a group. The Dark didn't really care about regular folks. It needed the deaths of those with a little extra. Those with Shine. Not-Cody grinned down at him, a skeletal noseless mockery of a human face, crowned with spreading antlers, his mouth a red sideways gash lined with scalpel-like teeth. Charlie felt a bony hand grip his shoulder, the points of claws digging into his flesh, smelled the rotten charnel reek of Cody's breath as the monster's other hand moved from here to there. Staring, in shock, Charlie dimly registered a pulling across his abdomen, a warmth that flashed into hot pain, cold around the edges, and some part of his panicked mind registered that he had just been opened up like one of Cade's landed trout. A stink filled the air. That's me, he dimly thought. That's my insides. That jolted another realisation. I'm dying. Setting his teeth against the pain, he started to shapeshift, chitinous armor plate beginning to form as his hands shifted to ferocious clawed appendages. Cody / The Horned Man laughed, a glottal sound of sick amusement, and his long arm with a hand tipped with claws flashed once more across Charlie's field of vision. The teen felt his blood gout, hot vital fluid drenching his bare chest as his throat was opened from ear to ear. Choking, he lost his concentration, shapeshift forgotten as he dropped to his knees, drowning as his lungs filled. Cody squatted on his haunches, grinning his awful shark grin. "I'll never let it hurt you." he said in a deep, hoarse voice that, despite it's inhumanity, nevertheless conveyed mockery. "Oh, but I will hurt her, boy. She will satisfy my many hungers until there is nothing left." Red-rimmed eyes flared hellishly as a clawed finger swiped through Charlie's pooling blood and came up to the beast's mouth, a long tongue cleaning the talon. "Picture it as you die. Hear her screams. Know despair!" Charlie opened his mouth, shut it again, gaping like a fish in air. He couldn't speak... but perhaps he didn't need to. The thing had quoted his own words at him. Perhaps it was reading his mind. His vision darkened, contracting around the red eyes glowering at him from a face no longer human, and Charlie put all the effort he could into one final thought. My friends... are gonna fuck you up. They'll beat your ass till you scream and fry you in your own skin. He cast the thought at the creature with every ounce of defiance and dark amusement he could muster, and was rewarded with a hiss of anger and, dare he say, fear. You'll lose. Charlie added with a sense of fatalistic triumph. So you despair, fucker. Hissing louder, almost a shriek of rage, the creature half-rose and struck out. Charlie, his vision dimmed, saw the taloned hand sweep towards his- The creature that had been Cody Sikes stood, breathing deeply as it looked down at the body at his feet. The defiance had not tasted good, and it was with a growl that he brought the still-warm heart to his maw and devoured it in several bites. The warmth of the boy's Radiance was delicious, a tingling sensation that spread through Cody's limbs and brought a low moan of pleasure from his throat. Somewhere, he knew the Tree was likewise pleased, the conduit between them transferring the Radiance to it, nourishing it. "Charlie?" The girl's voice from upstairs, laced with mischief. "I need some help washing my back." A giggle, then the sound of the bathroom door shutting. Cody looked up the stairs, a grin that was equal parts snarl crossing his deformed features. Turning from the now-useless husk at his feet, he moved to the foot of the stairs and started up them. The night's hunt had been productive, but after all, he had many hungers.
  41. 1 point
    Team Pluck The basement door was ajar, a fact that gave both fearless, plucky explorers pause, during which they glanced at one another as if to remind themselves that yes, they had company and yes, they were indeed as plucky as they had initially believed. Both gripped their flashlights tightly, and Autumn's grip on the prybar was white-knuckled as she reached out and gently prodded the door further open, ready to thwack anything that popped out of the gloom at them. The door swung open in relative silence, only a whispering groan from the hinges betraying that it had been moved, and both girls tensed for a long moment. Cassie stepped forward then, playing her flashlight down the stairs, half-expecting to see some skeletal, clawed version of Cody come lunging up at her with the light shining red in his feral eyes... But nothing was there. Just bare stone steps and the floor at the base of them. She glanced back at Autumn with a smile she didn't feel. "Imagine if Devin suddenly popped out of nowhere right now." she said with a smirk. "I think I'd shriek loud enough to break glass." "Don't even joke." Autumn felt the faintest of urges to giggle, nervous tension warring with the grimness of the place. She waggled the prybar. "He can be an asshat, but I don't actually want to brain him with this thing." "Yeah." Cassie looked back down the stone steps and took a deep breath. "Okay. Let's do this." "Let me go first. " Autumn firmly suggested as she stepped up. "Anyone or thing grabs me, I've got this plus my Shine to fight with." For a moment Cassie wanted to argue, but reluctantly conceded the point and nodded, then nodded again as Autumn handed her the pepper spray. Thus armed, the two of them started down a few paces apart... Meanwhile He stood in the shadows and watched the two of them together, eyes burning with conflicting hungers as the conjoined minds of Cody Sikes and the Horned Man took in the sight of Charlie and Sophia coupling on the TV room couch. Cody was barely aware he was Cody anymore. Every day, it seemed, he was less Cody and more Araun, something that he realised dimly in some parts of his mind that were still his own was not what he had bargained for when he had struck this deal. Araun had promised him accolades, and girls, and revenge on those who thought themselves better than him, and most of all he had been promised power. Power to achieve his dreams. First Homecoming King, then star player for the team, then college on a scholarship ride... But he didn't dream of those things anymore, did he? Now when he tried to think of what he wanted, he saw blood flowing black in the moonlight, he heard screams and felt soft flesh rending under his claws. He dreamed of chasing girls as prey, girls he'd once dreamed of fucking, only now sex wasn't the only thing he wanted from them. He wondered if that was why he'd wanted so badly to hurt Coraline, with her long legs and pretty smile. Had he always been Araun's creature? No, the thought came back to him. No, he was his own person when he'd had those urges. All Araun did was strip away the pretentious morality that told him such things were bad. The strong did as they pleased, the weak suffered what they must. Once, Cody had been weak and afraid. Now, he wasn't afraid of anything, was he? No, Cody decided as he listened to Sophia's gasping cries and Charlie's soft climactic grunts, watching the sweat bead on their skins as they screwed like rabbits. He wasn't afraid of anything anymore. It was time for them to be afraid. And then, to be dead. Team Pluck The cellar was much as Cassandra's vision had described it. A large, gloomy, dank space, unfurnished but for an old oil furnace at one end, long gone to rust. Well, almost unfurnished. As Cassie had hinted, there were dead animals hanging from the low ceiling, strung up with nails and wire or twine. Cats... possums... small dogs... all killed and then strung up like gross, perverse hunting trophies. The smell of old death and decay was noticeable here, but not quite overpowering. "Shit." Autumn muttered. "Oh, shit." "Yeah." Cassie replied, her mood somber as she played her torch over the walls and floor. Scrawled in black charcoal or some similar substance on one wall, just as her vision had shown, was a weird cave-painting stick figure of the large man with antlers branching from his skull. The floor bore scuffs, footprints in the dust and, most disturbingly, bloody drag-marks as though something had been dragged across the floor. Perhaps most eerily, the drag marks disappeared at the wall with the antlered man drawn on it, with no sign that of going anywhere else. "Look." Autumn said in a low voice. Cassie followed the beam of her flashlight and saw a small shoe. A child's sneaker, laying in one corner, a patina of dust on the fluorescent strips on it's sides.
  42. 1 point
    Meanwhile "How long is it for?" Sophia asked plaintively, with an understandable pout of her lower lip. After all, she had just gotten Charlie to be her boyfriend, and now he was going away. "Eight weeks." Charlie replied, his own feelings mixed on the matter. On the one hand, the exclusive theater and performing arts workshop camp that his father had sprung on him was a massive stepping stone for someone who wanted to make a career on the stage. It would look brilliant on his resume when time came to pick the right stage school post-graduation. On the other hand, he was leaving his girlfriend... and his friends to face unknowable peril and exciting adventures without him. "I go after Homecoming, and will be back before Thanksgiving, so it's not so bad." he said as much to himself as her. After all, he'd get to take Sophia to Homecoming - and he wouldn't be abandoning the team when they needed him most, taking down Cody and the Dark. After all, that had to happen before Homecoming, according to Cassie's vision. It was odd for Charlie to think of himself as the tank - though his Dwarven cleric in Sean's game was pretty resilient, he wasn't the frontline lynchpin of the group. But now real life had bestowed powers on Charlie that made him a literal combat monster - Devin's jokes about him being Zoidberg aside. That was an important role to play, and though he was as scared as any of the Fellowship - apart from Jase, he mentally appended - he was eager to be there for his friends. "I guess it's not so bad." Sophia grumped, snuggling up against him. The TV loaned it's flicker to the soft warm illumination of the lamps in the lounge, and the busty girl smiled, a naughty little smile, as she realised something. "Say, your mom is gone till Monday, right?" "Yeah." Charlie's attention was torn between the snuggling and the comedy special on the TV, so he was momentarily surprised as he felt nimble fingers tugging at his fly zipper. "Uh, something on your mind?" he asked with a grin starting on his lips. Sophia gave a soft, breathy giggle and leaned in, kissing him soundly. "Yeah. Making sure I'm on your mind when all those theater hoes start trying too hard." she murmured, kissing him again as she felt him stirring under her questing fingers. "Call it safeguarding my investment." she quipped as she lowered her head to his lap. "Investment?" Charlie asked, a laugh in his voice which swiftly faded as he felt her warm breath on his skin... Team Pluck The search of the ground floor had yielded nothing except more creeping unease. The sibilance of whispers seemed to be caught and echoed a little too readily by the derelict building , so the intrepid duo conversed in low murmurs. The rooms were all bare, not even old desks or furniture yielding up to the perfunctory search. The walls were the same patchy leprousness throughout, though here and there like ancient cave paintings were stick-figure drawings depicting disturbing images - at least, they were disturbing to Cassie and Autumn. Apparently no more than childish scrawls, in a variety of pigments, they were all variations on a single theme: A cluster of small stick figures, under... A larger stick figure with antlers growing from his head, standing before... A large, dark tree. In some of the drawings, the antlered figure seemed to be chasing the smaller figures. In others, the smaller ones seemed to be worshipping him. And in all the depictions of the tree, it was shown the same way: bare of branch, black, twisted, gnarled. Cassie realised that the drawings were all of varying ages, some more faded than others, as if drawn in different decades. She pointed this out to Autumn, who swallowed and nodded. "How old did you say this place was?" she asked. Cassie took a quick snapshot of one of the wall paintings before answering. "It was built in 1923. Before that, there was an old railway shed on this site. The town hall was supposed to put Shelly on the map, but like Jase pointed out in his mini-lecture, for some reason Shelly never boomed. Almost like someone didn't want it to." Autumn nodded, thinking of the possible suspects, all with their own reasons for keeping Shelly low-key. Heck, even her own family and the local Blackfeet might have preferred it that way. There were so many reasons to keep the world away from Shelly - but now with the Aeon Society on one hand and the mysterious Crossroads on the other, parts of the world had realised Shelly was unusual, which loaned an urgency to everything even without the imminent threat of a crazy possessed boy doing something horrible before Homecoming. A tour of the top floor yielded more of the same, the single-room loft office containing only cobwebs, mouse turds and, on the east wall, a larger version of the stick-figure paintings. This one had been made in a rusty brown pigment, and it wasn't until Cassie stepped closer that she realised that the source of the 'paint' was lying in a heap at the bottom of the wall. Cats. Several of them, dead as doornails with flies crawling on the dusty fur of their limp little bodies. They had been slashed open and the blood used as... as... Holy fucking shit, both teens thought with an almost identical urge to throw up rising in their stomachs.
  43. 1 point
    Sure enough, the window was there, the board across the lower half hanging loosely on it's bent and rusty nails. Autumn was pretty confident she could just take the prybar and take the whole damn board off with one good pull... but that would leave too-visible a sign that they had been here. Cassie, careful of stray nails, pulled the loose edge of the board aside, allowing her redheaded companion to slide agilely through the gap, wrecking bar in hand. Autumn's hiking boots hit the floor inside lightly and she took a pace into the room, allowing Cass to enter behind her as her own eyes adapted to the dank gloom within. The sight that met her eyes was not reassuring. This had likely been an office once, but the Old Town Hall had been shut down before even telephones were commonplace. Warped floorboards creaked underfoot, the wallpaper was rotted and hanging off in patches, giving the place a leprous look, and the paintwork - what there was of it - was similarly mold-covered and patchy. Worse, though, was the feeling of wrongness about the place. That oily, slick, sickly feeling she had felt when in the burned woods of the Other Side and earlier this week, when the monsters had come hunting in the Marias Medical Center was here, like a spiritual(?) tar stain on the cloth of reality. Perhaps most shocking is that, this time, the sensation was not surprising. It still sucked, to be sure, but the wrenching shock of the laws of nature being twisted, whilst still unsettling, did not leave her as rattled as last time. There was a soft grunt and shuffle from Cassandra as she slid through the window, straightened and looked around, and Autumn could see on her friend's face that the 'Eyes' felt the sensation too. The pair looked at each other and, barely perceptibly, nodded, each taking a deep breath and steeling their resolve. To Cassie's senses, the place had a 'they just stepped out' feeling. The Old Town Hall was not a large building. A hallway and four rooms on the ground floor, and a large open office space above. And, of course, the basement. The place felt lived-in, despite it's derelict and rotting facade. Not-Quite-Cody wasn't home right now... she thought so, anyway. She was pretty sure. Almost. Like, ninety- eighty- Uh, seventy percent sure.
  44. 1 point
    Owen Kavanagh had been gone from this world for more than a year, his ashes scattered at Logan Pass just as the dawn broke over Going-to-the-Sun Mountain one morning in late June. It was exactly the farewell he’d asked for, an informal gathering of two small families and a wary flock of bighorn sheep watching from the mist-veiled hillside. The somewhat fussier to-do had come a couple of weeks later, an obligatory ritual to satisfy the townsfolk’s compulsion to foist their condolences and casseroles onto people who didn’t necessarily want either. The clutching hands of near-strangers, the almost metronomic litany of sorry-for-your-losses, the forest’s worth of paper fashioned into mass-produced sympathy cards- all well-intentioned gestures that, ultimately, seemed shallow and meaningless. For them, life would go on. And yet, even now, something of her grandfather lingered in this room, in every amorphous whorl of dark-grained wood and whisper of aromatic tobacco that rose from the plush carpet, her toes sinking in with each step. It was a bittersweet feeling, this flicker of wonder at the mysteries the place contained overlaid with the emptiness of loss, the uncomfortable tightening in her chest at odds with the warmth of her affection for someone who could no longer share it. Autumn stared at the envelopes on the desk, eyes tracing the neat script she recognized from documents they’d shredded, and from half a dozen birthday cards kept in a box of treasures under her bed. Deep blue ink on crisp white paper stared back at her. Sit, it bade her, and she did, unthinking, sinking into the wooden chair that gave only a half-hearted creak of protest after long disuse. As Autumn glanced at the first envelope, the one addressed to herself and her mother, her fingers practically twitched with the urge to reach out, to open it, but she hadn’t come here for sentiment alone. She’d come for the journals, to see if what Nathan had said was true. This is what she reminded herself, that there was a point to all of this, a purpose. Her grandfather’s notes, the historical references he’d collected could be useful, could maybe help them figure out what was happening in Shelly and why… And, maybe, if they were lucky, how to stop it. For all the strangeness of feeling surrounded by the presence of someone she’d known and loved in a place she’d never been- and it was strange, and strangely reassuring- there were more pressing issues to deal with first. Priorities. “To Whomsoever Opened The Door,” she murmured, smiling in spite of herself. “Still putting on your good manners for company, huh?” She took up the second envelope- after all, she was the one who unlocked the door, so it should be totally fine. Right? Right. Opening it, she took a deep breath and drew forth two sheets of stationery folded together. There was no date, no emblem or monogram, just faint grey horizontal lines on paper that felt heavier, more official somehow, than the kind used for normal note-taking or correspondence. Exhaling, she leaned back in the chair and began to read. “To Whomsoever Opened The Door,” she repeated quietly, and in the stillness of the room the young redhead could almost hear the words in her grandfather’s rumbling voice. “Obviously, I’m not here to greet you in person. A source of great sorrow to me, but not so great as the sorrow I feel in leaving my family in sadness and without protection. Unless my old friend…” She paused, frowning at the name that followed, and hazarded a clumsy attempt at pronouncing the unfamiliar arrangement of syllables. “...my old friend Askuwheteau was wrong- and in all the time I’ve known him, he never has been- you have what the Blackfeet call the ‘Dawning Light’. Either that, or the protection his grandfather gave mine doesn’t work and the whole lot of them have been laughing at us this whole time.” Huh. ‘Dawning Light.' Pausing, Autumn considered the sound of it, the way the words felt in her head. She had to admit, it sounded a little better than “the Shine,” which reminded her unpleasantly of that old horror movie with the guy who went crazy in a hotel, tried to kill his family, and froze to death in a hedge maze. Ugh. Suppressing a shiver, the girl pushed the thought aside. So far, what she’d read seemed to fit Nathan’s story- that people from their families who underwent ...whatever this coming-of-age ritual was... were supposed to be protected somehow from the Dark and those influenced by it. “Pardon, stranger. I feel death coming, and it makes me bitter.” There was no warning, no way to prepare for the shock of reading that admission aloud. The words swam before her eyes as if blurred by a surge of warm waves in clear blue shallows, remnants of which dripped silently down her cheeks. No. No, no, no. Absolutely not. You do not have time to cry right now, Autumn! Get it together. This is important, her inner voice chided her, and despite the sudden, sharp aching in her chest, practicality demanded she focus. Blinking rapidly as if to banish the upwelling of the emotional sea within her, the heir apparent to this increasingly strange legacy quickly skimmed the rest of the paragraph, her eyes catching here and there on certain words but not stopping to process them fully until she reached a passage that seemed safer. Less personal. “A man who is like a son to me has also been entrusted with this, but I am asking you as well, though I have no right…” Okay, yeah. That would have to be Warden Crocker, who’d said he’d come on her grandfather’s behalf- as much as she loved her dad, her grandfather had been as much a part of Nathan’s childhood as Nathan was of hers. She paused, as a sudden thought struck home: if Nathan really had been asked directly by her grandfather to talk to her, that meant he’d been carrying this around for almost a year and a half, along with everything else he was dealing with at home. Oh, god. Her heart sank a little at the realization, made heavier by a twinge of guilt at the little selfish surge of resentment she’d felt when he’d dumped all this in her lap yesterday. “...See that my granddaughter goes to the Reservation,” she continued soberly, “and meets either with Askuwheteau - ‘Laughing Joe’ they call him - or with whoever is in his place. Tell them she is Owen Kavanagh’s granddaughter, and they will know what is to be done.” Well, she conceded, ‘Laughing Joe’ was definitely easier to pronounce, at least. It was nice to have a name she wouldn’t be likely to screw up when she asked for him. When she’d talked to everyone at the bleachers, earlier, she hadn’t been entirely sure who she was looking for, and Sophia seemed nice, but she wasn’t like them and Autumn didn’t really know her, and Devin had freaked out, and things had just been kind of… weird. Though, she guessed they’d been weird for a little while now, hadn’t they? Or Weird, even; the memory of her phone call with Jase, brief though it was, brought a sudden rush of warmth to her cheeks. With a quick shake of her head, Autumn tried again to concentrate on the task at hand, toes drawing formless designs in the carpet as she swung her feet. “In the bottom drawer of my desk is a small lockbox. One of the keys on my old key ring opens it. If you are what I hope you are, what Laughing Joe thought you’d be, then what’s in there is for you. ‘Protections for warriors’, he called it.” A thrill of excitement raced through her at this new revelation, sea-colored eyes intent on the bold blue script as she leaned forward, eliciting a faint creak from the old chair. The letter didn’t specify what they were, or how they worked, and apparently this friend of her grandfather’s wasn’t sure, either- just that they’d been passed down to him ‘against a time promised when warriors would come and drive out the Darkness.’ Frustratingly, there was no further explanation of the nature of the protection, the warriors they were meant for, or the fact that it suggested some kind of prophecy. She’d just have to find out on Sunday, which, in that moment, seemed a lifetime away to the restive red-haired girl. Her grandfather did, however, mention the journals she’d come to find, although apparently they hadn’t been of much help to him. Maybe it would be different for the Fellowship? Sure, they were still trying to piece things together themselves, but Nathan had said on Wednesday that he’d never actually seen some of the things she’d described, so maybe that perspective would give them some kind of advantage reading through the old records. “A final favor I ask of you, stranger. A favor to a dead man, who will not be able to repay it.” Autumn’s voice wavered threateningly, that telltale stinging behind her eyes again as she exhaled slowly and forged ahead. “Take the other letter on my desk to my daughter and granddaughter, along with the talisman that hangs above the door of my den. Tell them that it was my wish for them to read the letter together and to follow the instructions therein.” Unconsciously, her gaze drifted up to the strange beaded object above the doorway, its outline luminous in her mind’s eye, down to the envelope with her name and her mother’s name on it, and back to the letter trembling faintly in her hands. Why? The dull, hollow feeling of grief and the flickers of pleasure at happy memories were familiar to Autumn when thinking of her grandfather, were easily processed, but this frustration Ms. Kyleson had conjured yesterday… this anger, was still relatively new, and as she felt her face grow hot a part of her couldn’t help but wonder why he’d done all this. Why didn’t he ever say anything when he was alive?! How could he just… just push that responsibility off onto other people, like Nathan, and this random person he was blindly trusting to do what he asked? Why would he trust a total stranger to find out who she and her mom were, and deliver his message? What if he’d been wrong, and no one had ever said anything, or found the room?! How were they even supposed to have found it, anyway, or gotten the keys, or put all of it together? “Fuck,” she groaned, leaning back abruptly to rest her head on the back of the chair. “Sorry, I know I’m not supposed to swear, but seriously, Grandpa. Seriously. This isn’t fair, you know?” Only silence answered her. Closing her eyes, the faint scents of smoke and long-unopened rooms filled her awareness, along with the solidity of the chair she was sitting in and the soft, dense pile of the carpet beneath her feet. There couldn’t be an answer, of course, to any of it. It was as pointless to ask as it was to be angry at someone who wasn’t there, and there were plenty of other things, other people more deserving of her ire. She knew that. The knowing didn’t make it any easier. With a sigh, Autumn opened her eyes again, staring up at the painted wood ceiling before sitting upright and returning her attention to the paper in her hand. “May the Dawning Light guide your path, and may you always know your star,” she breathed finally. It seemed unnecessary to read his signature aloud, especially after such an uncharacteristically poetic line. It reminded her a little of camping trips they’d all taken when she was younger, when both families had all been together, and her grandfather and Joe Crocker had told her and Jacob stories about how the constellations came to be, and how to use them to find your way if you were ever lost in the world. Truth be told, she was feeling kind of lost, and she wondered for a moment exactly how long she’d felt that way. ...Or whether, if it hadn’t been for the events of the past few days, she would ever even have noticed. Still, she kind of liked the sound of it, almost like a prayer, or a benediction. May you always know your star. “Thanks, Grandpa,” she murmured, smiling a little. “I’ll be sure to keep an eye out. For now, though, let’s see what these ‘protections for warriors’ are.” Reaching into the pocket of her hoodie, Autumn pulled the plastic keyring out again, bits of brass and nickel silver jingling musically in a quick, bright chime of encouragement. To her surprise, the wooden drawer slid open easily, empty but for a slightly weathered metal lockbox that seemed to shimmer with soft luminescence as the inquisitive teen lifted it out almost reverently and set it on the desk.
  45. 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?"
  46. 1 point
    "Sean will be watching us." Jason said, turning towards Cass, holding out a hand. "May I?" She hesitated, then divined his intent and offered the plastic envelope to him. Jase reached out, then paused, his lips curving in a slight smile before he walked over and gently took the protected photograph from her fingers. It took a second before she realised what had happened, but by then he'd already turned away and was heading over to Sean. "Jase... the power generator for this place? It's atomic, advanced - way smaller than a normal reactor. Hell, it could probably power most of Shelly. It reminds me of the trailer- What's this?" Sean asked, looking up from where he was busy pulling up schematics as Jason held the photograph in front of his face. "Cassandra's father. You've got eyes in the complex and it's a high tech place - check and see if his face is in their security logs, and then if he's in the building at all." "Sure." Sean nodded, studying the picture and then, with a touch of his Shine, digitising a reproduction of it on the screen before him, then adding some three-dimensionality. "Might take me a few." "You've got a few." Jason turned and walked the photo back over to Cassie, offering it to her in an almost courteous manner. The pretty blonde smiled despite herself, shaking her head as she tucked the photo away. "You know I meant no using your powers on people, or against people." she said, looking up at the impassive features and the gleaming jade eyes. His lips twitched a little, that wry, ageless reptilian amusement back in his expression. It was hard to remember that he was only sixteen years old, looking into that gaze. That gaze was ancient. "What is perceived to have been said, what is actually said, and true intent are often not the same things, even for me. Regardless, I gave my word, and I keep it to the letter." he said with just a hint of pointedness that was not so much addressed to her as it was to the room in general. Cassie regarded him, blue eyes full of wary curiosity. She opened her mouth to say, or ask something when Sean spoke up. "Found him." He pointed at the holo-display and a security file image appeared. "Says here he's part of some experiment - no name, just a serial number, and no details what it's about." "I bet Etienne is probably undergoing it right now." Devin said darkly. "Some MK-Ultra mind-jacking shit. Ms Giles said Kline was involved with that stuff." "Logs say he's currently offsite at somewhere called 'Site B'. Checked out a day ago with a bunch of others." Sean said, looking at Cass. "We can always go back for him once we figure out more." "Site B?" Taggart asked sharply, looking at Giles. "That's our other project site." Annette nodded, standing. "While our brave friends here attempt a rescue, I'm going to go and seek permission to discuss Site B. I think it's best done sooner rather than later." So saying, she made to leave the room, stopping at the door. "Major, have your men place Dr Cook under arrest, please. Don't harm him unduly." She left, and a few moments later Doctor Cook was escorted from the room by two Airmen. Taggart looked at the three other adults in the room, nodding once, then at the unlikely-looking strike team. Or perhaps not so unlikely looking, he mused. The Charlie kid seemed mild as milk, but had carried himself pretty well in the fighting upstairs, the Jauntsen boy was mouthy and annoying as hell, but damned if he couldn't get a herd of cats moving in one general direction, and the Bannon kid - Okay, the Bannon kid was chilling to the point of terrifying, and yet had acquiesced readily to a promise not to use his powers in this room or to kill any opponents on the raid without quibbling or raising objections. That was just plain weird. One thing did not match up to the other thing. Taggart cleared his throat to get their attention. "Time to go." said Devin, giving Marissa a hug then walking over to the door. "Chuckles, snargle her garthog later. Cade, Jase... Granola - I mean," he corrected as Autumn scowled. "Autumn. You in?" Autumn nodded before she even really thought about it. Jason had said she'd be of use, and while she still held some doubts, she had healed him up. Besides, it just wasn't in the restless redhead's nature to sit on the sidelines while friends went into danger, even if said friends were best described as walking hell waiting to be unleashed. "Yeah, I'm coming." she said, tugging once at the drawstrings of her hoodie before thrusting her hands in the pockets and moving over to the group by the door. She threw a considering glance at the pair on the couch as she passed them: the new girl, Kat, seemed to be a little unglued and, of all people, it seemed Courtney was offering aid. Personally, knowing the girl was a telepath with megalomania and narcissism was not reassuring, but there was nothing to be done about it right now. Behind her, Charlie gave Sophia one more kiss and practically swaggered to the door like he was ready to take on Tyson in the ring and win. Cade stood up, hugged his dad, then turned to Marissa who threw her arms around his neck and gave him a fleeting kiss before pushing him mock-playfully in the direction of the waiting group. And Jase... Was standing right next to them, having moved over to where Taggart was waiting in a neat, unobtrusive and almost silent fashion. He radiated none of the tension or excitement felt by the others, even the phlegmatic Cade - a harmonic like the faint whisper of a lightly-struck tuning fork passing between them, each member of the team picking up a little of the others' excitement - except for Jason, who seemed impervious to it, a calm pool of ice cold water whose mere presence muted the tension just a little, like a finger pressed to the vibrating metal. "You're going to miss me, I know you are." Devin said to Cassandra with his best devil-may-care smirk. Cassie rolled her eyes. "Not near as much as Lona will. So be careful." she shot back, ignoring the kiss he blew as they left the room. Taggart led the five of them down the corridor, past the control room and into a large, open space that was currently uninhabited. There was a roll-down door at one end large enough for a van or truck, and the room was plainly meant as a loading bay. He turned to them, looking at Devin as he backed up some. "This is it." he said. "I''ll keep it free for your return and have an EMT team standing by. How far back do I need to be?" Devin glanced around, then shrugged. "Hell if I know, dude. Best be outside the doors, in case. This is breaking new ground, feel me?" Taggart nodded. "Good luck." he said, then turned and hustled from the room, leaving the five of them looking at each other.
  47. 1 point
    Tuesday Afternoon - Marias Medical Center Directory, directory... Okay, seriously? she grumbled inwardly, pressing the ice pack to her bruised jaw and grimacing as two of the facilities staff rolled past with a cart of cleaning supplies, chatting about the previous night’s episode of “Mindseeker.” It was more or less the same tone the orderlies and deputies had used when talking about the “Bannon kid”- I have no personal investment in this subject, and don’t really care what happens, because it doesn’t affect my life in any real way. It stung, a little, that until recently she’d thought of Jase that way herself, and the realization was enough to quench the nascent flare of indignation on his behalf. Maybe she’d get a chance to check on him before she left, say hi to his dad or something… Jason was in pretty rough shape, and based on their talk at the farm, Gar might not handle it all that well. Autumn mulled that over as they walked, her sneakers quiet on the polished floor. The two girls had been wandering the hallways for several minutes without running into either a reception desk or someone they recognized, and while that meant no one had stopped or questioned them yet, it also meant there was no clearly-designated person to ask directions. It seemed a little odd that, despite the number of people in uniforms busily milling about, no one had offered to help them thus far, or done more than give the teens a cursory glance. Were clueless-looking teenagers such a common occurrence at the medical center that no one noticed them anymore? Maybe everyone was just crazy busy, or just super uncomfortable interrupting someone who was on the phone; for all Autumn knew based on the rumors she'd been told, they were being monitored from a closet stuffed full of computer equipment somewhere, so nobody who worked there cared about underage trespassers. Under the circumstances, it's not that she particularly wanted special attention, but the pointed lack of it seemed either rude, creepy, or both. "Oh, for crying out loud, did they design this place to be confusing, or what?" Autumn muttered under her breath, restlessly scanning the signs and pinboards that occasionally interrupted the otherwise sterile, featureless walls. The whole place was immaculate, clean and contemporary, and if she'd never heard anything about Dr. Cook or the sinister-sounding "Project," she probably would have been impressed with the setup. "Deeefinitely a possibility," the pretty young journalist next to her replied airily, rolling her eyes for dramatic effect and miming a talking mouth with her free hand. The redhead grinned at that, in spite of the twinge of pain it caused, and returned her attention back to scanning the hallway for anything that might help them navigate the maze of white corridors. There was something compelling about Cass's improvised performance, a certain degree of confidence, as well as the aforementioned "pluck;" even if the inquisitive blonde wasn't sure what she was going to find, exactly, she still needed to look, and that was a sentiment Autumn could definitely appreciate. As they approached another intersection, a large, glass-covered rectangle caught her attention and she paused, tapping Cassandra on the shoulder. "Hey, ask if three o'clock is okay," she suggested, meeting the other girl's gaze before darting a glance in that direction: just around the corner was a directory of the ground floor and quick reference of the other areas of the medical center. Holding the ice against her cheek, Autumn took a deep breath and walked over to examine the names and numbers listed there, feeling a tiny knot of anticipation coiling eagerly around itself in her stomach. She was nervous, sure, but it was like the feeling just before getting on a brand new roller coaster, or leaning out to rappel down a ledge- once you started, you were committed, regardless of what happened. And, there it was, near the top of the list, in crisp white plastic letters on a grey background: Dr. J. Cook. Diagnostic Medicine. East Wing. And, conveniently enough, a little further down, Vending. “Think he’s in there?” she asked, slate-colored eyes scanning the board for other useful points of reference as Cass appeared next to her and covertly snapped another pic. “One way to find out,” the intrepid reporter grinned, and the two girls wasted no time heading further into the complex.
  48. 1 point
    As the orderlies and doctors fussed about with Jason, Cassandra took advantage of the relative calm near Autumn to sidle over to her. Under the guise of commiserating with a friend, gently touching the ice pack and looking sympathetic, she murmured to the redhead, "Hey...how's this doing? Getting low yet?" Before Autumn could reply, Cass shook her head and said even more quietly, "So, I'm thinking as long as we're in here...want to snoop around some? I figure a couple of teenage girls could look for an ice machine just about anywhere in a big confusing place like this."
  49. 1 point
    "Why is it I always get hit in the head when you guys are around?" Between the clamor of the assembled crowd and the incoherent moans of Curtis Denicott, all the sound in the hallway had merged into a featureless wave of noise, rising and falling in patterns that seemed completely meaningless to the shaken redhead; if her gaze hadn't been drawn to Bannon as he moved, laboriously, to retrieve the lunch he hadn't gotten to eat, Autumn probably wouldn't have realized he'd spoken at all. She stared at him for a moment, some of the choleric tension in her expression easing into concern, and turned wide eyes on Cassie as if to say, "Is he serious?" It was an absurd question in ridiculous circumstances, and despite the grimness of the situation (or perhaps because of it), she found herself laughing somewhat dazedly in response as she pushed carefully off the lockers and took a few tentative steps toward him. "Are you okay?" she asked, smiling faintly, then blinked down at the tall, well-thrashed young man seated on the floor, and blinked again, eyes stinging as she processed how very not okay he looked. What kind of fucked-up question is that? He just got his ass kicked by two guys a hell of a lot bigger than he is. He's pretty fucking far from okay, Autumn. Jesus. "No," she amended, cautiously sinking to her knees on the blessedly cool floor in front of her friend, settling so that her face was roughly level with his. "That was a stupid thing to ask, wasn't it? Can I-" Gingerly she reached out, still trembling from the adrenaline rush, and rested her palm on the back of his hand in what she hoped was a reassuring gesture, concentrating on steadying her voice as well as her nerves. "I'm just gonna check you real quick, is that okay?" The reserved youth nodded once, very slightly, pale green eyes- brighter, sharper somehow in contrast to his bloodied features- considering her in the same focused, eerily attentive way he had at the farm the day before. Even with all the other distractions, she could still feel her cheeks growing hot under the intense scrutiny, and silently prayed to any gods listening that nobody would notice in all the chaos. Reaching up with both hands, his new friend brushed the hair from his face, lightly running her fingertips over the brow bone and resolutely ignoring both the audience and the proximity of the sharp, glacial eyes she was studying. She couldn't feel anything unusual there, or across the top of his cheekbones, although his left pupil was slightly larger than the right, which she was pretty sure they'd told her in first aid could be a sign of concussion... With a sigh, Autumn remembered what they'd worked out on Sunday, focusing for a few moments on the faint, icy thrumming of Jason's energy beneath his skin, beneath her fingers, and allowing it to resonate with her own- and grimaced, suddenly, as she became acutely aware of all the injuries he'd sustained. Bruising around his ribs, but nothing broken, lacerations, and oh goddamnit a mild concussion- "You got hit." The redhead blinked, startled at the sound of Jase's voice. It wasn't quite accusatory, she thought, but maybe something similar, and not quite a question, though there was a hint of that in the tone, as well. It was almost... childish. Maybe he was having trouble concentrating? "Yeah, I know, so did- Hey," she protested as he reached out, carefully nudging Autumn's chin to one side to regard the angry red and faint purple that had slowly begun to obscure the freckles on the side of her face. "So did you. A lot," she added, gently tugging his arm back down and away, glancing briefly over at Cass to confirm she was making- or, hopefully, had already made- the necessary calls. "So try to stay focused for me, okay? We can't both do this at the same time. If you wanna look me over later, O Impenetrable One, fine, but let's concentrate on you for now."
  50. 1 point
    What the actual fuck?! Before Autumn had even managed to cross the few meters between them, before she'd had time to register movement or shout a warning, Jase disappeared behind a wall of man-shaped muscle and rage, and for a moment it felt like all the oxygen had been sucked out of the air. The sound of his body hitting the metal lockers, the shouting, the impact of knuckles and elbows on flesh, the frenetic thudding of her heartbeat in her chest- it was all a dull, strangely distant roar, as if she were hearing it underwater. Stop. STOP IT! She couldn't get the words out, couldn't force them past the almost painful tightness in her throat. It was like a nightmare, trying desperately to scream when she could only manage a whisper that was quickly swept away by the tumult and chaos, the vicious currents of violent geometry. He can't fight them both off, not at the same time! ...And yet, the memory of what he could do- what he had done at the trailer, what he had, by all accounts, done to Liam- blazed into life at the forefront of the terrified redhead's mind as her friend, her friend hit the floor. She had the vague sense of something moving, a torrent surging not behind her this time, but through her, and realized she was running. "Knock it the fuck off!" The lively young woman's voice, choked and angry, was almost unrecognizable in her own ears, and as Mark glanced up, the heels of her hands struck him solidly in the chest, sending him staggering back a couple of steps. The surprise in his eyes at having been hit, having been moved at all, lasted only an instant, being quickly replaced with an unrelenting malice that seemed utterly alien within the structure of a human face. Autumn had just enough time to process that, shock registering on her own freckled features, before he grabbed her wrist in a meaty hand and twisted. A jagged lance of pain shot up her arm and arrowed down into her fingers as she gasped, instinctively moving to alleviate the pressure, but the older boy just grinned and turned it farther, until she was almost on her toes, a sudden wash of tears brightening her eyes. "Mind your own fucking business," he ground out through clenched teeth, and the redhead whimpered, clutching his arm with her other hand as if she could somehow stop him from snapping her wrist through sheer force of will. With her newfound awareness, she could actually feel the strain on the delicate bones and ligaments as they approached the breaking point, the sensation drawing a tortured cry from her lips; just when she thought they would snap, a sudden rush of crimson bloomed in her mind, deep and intoxicating as any wine she'd ever tasted. It sang through her veins as it spread, hot and eager, racing furiously, gloriously, through her fingertips and into the thick forearm of the brute holding her. The sound was quiet at first, lost in the chatter and whooping of onlookers, but gradually grew louder, more intense until it was all she could hear: a quiet, almost girlish moan transmuted into a guttural howl of anguished rage as the nerves in Mark Belcher's arm shrieked in protest and failed, his primitive brain temporarily overwhelmed by its own capacity to experience pain. Flinging Autumn aside, he stumbled, nearly losing his balance as he shuffled, disoriented, across the blood-spattered floor. Dizzy and disbelieving, the redhead regained her footing and blinked down at her hands: apart from some redness that might turn into bruising, there was no perceptible difference, but she could sense it, whatever it was, just beneath the surface of her skin. She glanced in Jason's direction to confirm he was all right, when a flicker of movement out of the corner of her eye reminded her with sickening clarity that there had been two aggressors. An explosion of blinding white agony filled her consciousness, obliterating any sense of coherence or equilibrium the freckled teen possessed as Curtis cold-cocked her solidly in the jaw, his fist nearly large enough to cover the entire side of the young woman's face. She hit the ground, hard, sliding backward on the waxed tiles as the brief moment of silence resolved into a chaotic chorus of distant voices. Her hands scrabbled dazedly for purchase on the cold floor, every survival instinct in her brain warring with the almost total loss of spatial awareness. Get up! it hissed/screamed in some primal, wordless demand, but her vision was all swimming light and dark and smudges of color, and there was no "up" to get to. There was no conscious thought, no plan or consideration when his shadow loomed over her- only impulse, bright and sharp as the taste of blood on her tongue. The lumbering darkness in front of her deepened in warning, and, desperately blinking away the tears clouding her eyes, Autumn planted her palms on the tile and kicked. The first time her foot met with his shin, she was rewarded with a grunt of pain, but little else. Vague shadows resolved themselves into the shape of a face, an arm, a fist- Gritting her teeth, the redhead screamed in defiance and kicked again, her vision washed in scarlet as the sole of her shoe connected with something that shifted unnaturally under her heel. In that split-second, Autumn knew, intimately, the fragility of ligament and bone, felt the upwelling of crimson exhilaration humming through her, and- I want you to know how proud I am of you, the wasted, parchment-skinned figure whispered urgently up at her from his hospice bed, a terrifying whistle beneath his words. Don't ever forget that. Curtis shrieked, a haunting, agonized wail echoing through the crowded hall as he crumpled to the floor not far from his intended victim. As he writhed, howling in helpless anguish and clutching feebly at what he knew were the shattered remnants of his knee, the dishevelled teen's freckled features tightened in grief and anger. Choking back the sob that clawed at her throat, Autumn slid backwards, bracing herself against the lockers as she slowly worked her way back up to her feet.
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