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  1. 1 point
    “Jacob,” the dark-eyed Shelly native corrected Marissa tersely as they watched the new couple greet each other, and the venomous beauty had the satisfaction of seeing her barbs finally strike home; at least something today was going the way she wanted. Not so for the young man next to her, whose robust frame seemed to waver on the cusp of intervention as the line of his jaw hardened visibly. A new boyfriend was one thing. That new boyfriend being Jason Bannon was another issue entirely. “A-Rae, what the hell are you doing?” he muttered, dragging a hand back through his hair. "Consider yourself caught," Autumn breathed, drawing back slightly with a giddy grin she could feel all the way down to her toes. Was this what it felt like to be iron near a magnet? Whether this, whatever this was, could be described as physics, chemistry, or pure biology, it was unquestionably real. Crazy, and a little unsettling, but real. As real as the sun on her face, and what felt like a hundred tiny suns in her chest all rising at once at the sight of him. Jason smiled a little in answer, or at least she thought he did, if the near-imperceptible crinkling at the corners of his eyes was any indication. It was too risky to hazard a glance down at his mouth, still so perilously close to hers, to really be sure. He was Jason Goddamn Bannon after all, and dangerous, especially in such close proximity. "I was caught a couple days ago," he murmured, his fingertips tracing a line of fire over the redhead’s freckled cheek as he tugged a rogue strand of hair back from her face, and all pretense of self-control fled in the wake of that simple, unaffected statement. Weaponized honesty, she recalled dizzily. She could feel the faintest whisper of his breath, her lips tingling in renewed anticipation, and there was a flicker of… something that surfaced in the deepening sea-blue pools of her eyes as she felt herself moving again, fingers sliding upward through his hair- -And then someone whistled, shrilly, and with a sudden start Autumn felt her higher brain functions re-engage, lungs expanding as they drew in air she hadn’t realized she’d needed. Oh. Oh, god. To her embarrassment and dismay, she realized abruptly that they had an audience, and that her chances of breaking the news to Jacob in any kind of normal, natural way were now pretty much zero. An incendiary flush of bright rose bloomed beneath her skin as the girl with flaming hair and cheeks to match sank back down onto her heels, feeling the solidity of the earth beneath her feet for the first time since she’d seen him there. Well, of fucking course there’s an audience. We’re at the carousel on Labor Day. My old best friend is standing over there with my new best friend, I’m pretty sure both of them want me dead, and here I am in the middle of everybody, climbing Jase like a fucking stepladder. Jesus fuck, Autumn. But, still... it could be way worse. Her parents could be watching.
  2. 1 point
    "Yeah," Devin nodded. His tone carried the same measure of seriousness that Sean's did. It was obvious that no matter how hard these kids thought they were, there were certain things, like impending doom and the safety of their families, that seemed to quell the teenage smirks and quips. "Look, I'm sorry I brought it up. I thought you knew, but this is something we all have to do." "I know," she held back the moisture in her eyes by nodding and trying not to think about it. "Ju-just be careful and I'll do what I can on this side for all our families if, well... if things don't go well. If you can't save him, at least make sure that whatever took him from us regrets it." Devin allowed himself a subtle curl of his lips. "S'what we do girl, we're the Fellowship," he draped his arm around Sean and pulled him close before doing the same with Laurie. "We spend all day looking like Heaven, and all night fighting like Hell. We'll be fine." He released them from the hold, which if anyone would have told Sean a few months ago that he'd be fighting the Forces of Darkness and getting three way hugs after half-assed pep-talks, he would have said 'hell no'. There it was though, Devin trying to keep the group together while it was obvious he was, like the rest of them (except Jase, who stoically face everything with his emerald stare and homicidal indifference) was falling apart. He clapped his hands to punctuate the end of that moment with the dawning of a new one. "Come on! Seriously, I'm not being all mopey today. We're here. It's a party, so come one, let's mingle, let's hang out, for all that is indecent and unholy let's be teenagers for one freakin' day without drama or explosions or the inky doo-doo butter of evil oozing through the walls and screwing things up. Sun's shining, we're all here, we got barbecue's happening. Lets enjoy ourselves." "You," Laurie looked at him skeptically. She pointed at him and then to her and her brother, moving her finger between them. "Want to hang out with us? Like, actually hang out." "Yeah." Devin offered a stiff, single nod that was a statement in and of itself. "In public." She stated. "Yeah." He stiffly nodded again. "In front of all these people? Devin the whole school is here." She gestured to the crowd. "You're popular. We are... not. What about image you don't have to hang out with us to prove something, you know. We get it, it's fine. We're not going to be all butt hurt if you-" "Stop." Devin cut her off, smiling slightly. He looked to Sean and he both. "Look I know I've been horrible in the past, we all know, I'm running out of breath constantly repeating it, but true facts, so listen up. When I've faced the Dark and I've protected people, even if accidentally, and I have to go to mirror dimensions to kick their bitch-king in the teeth... it helps grow someone past how many likes my newest Snap gets. If I might go down tonight fighting, then I want to spend today hanging out with my friends. Or, the closest thing I've every had to any. That's you guys. So come on, show me what those below the social poverty line do for fun." Laurie looked to her brother while Sean shook his head, partially laughing, and partially in disbelief. Don't look at me," Sean smirked, shaking his head. Leave it to Devin to ruin a perfectly good moment of attempted redemption by being an entitled rich kid. "This Twilight Zone stuff is like, my everyday now. I'm almost numb to it at this point." The three looked to Kat as she approached and Devin gestured in the new redhead's direction. "Bam! See? There you go. We have found a stray Kat." He looked to Sean and gave that 'Devin-smirk' "It's like a double-date now, dude." Laurie slapped Devin in the gut with the back of her hand, gently, but enough to make a point. "We are not dating," she glared sternly into his eyes. "Ever. Wash that thought out of your head right now, Jauntsen." "Or, it's an orgy," he smiled and powered through. "If you two are into the whole Game of Thrones thing... which explains the hooves and boobs-" "Wow." Laurie could only laugh and shake her head. "You are such a treat, Jauntsen." She broke off and approached Kat. "Hi, I'm Laurie, Sean's sister. Hopefully you've arrived to save us from his mental retardation." "Oh, come on!" Devin protested. "I'm just spitballing ideas. Tossing out a few hypotenuses and developing theories. This is science, right? I thought nerds loved science. I'm trying to be involved in your hobbies. Solidarity, my brothers... and sisters."
  3. 1 point
    Champion's Field, after Noon. -ish Kat rose her eyes from her sandwich at the amused cough of her father, and her eyes followed Josh's, to Jason and Autumn's shameless embrace, and a faint smile pulled the corner of her lips. She laid back, lazily pressing her back against the tree she was sitting by, and deployed her mind web, scanning around while taking a bite of her sandwich. If Jason's here... Bingo! Sean was around too, standing next to Devin and someone who somehow felt familiar, but Kat couldn't quite put a name on that person. Devin's sister was here too, and Kat remembered Autumn's advice from last Thursday. She glanced at Tessa while her mind smoothly flew over Cassandra's presence. I guess we're missing Cade, Lilly, that guy Charlie and... Courtney's there actually... Kat frowned for a moment, setting aside the reminders of her nightmare, and her mind web broke up. "Hey, Tess." Said Tess turned to Kat at her inquiring tone. "What's up, honey?" She replied. "Think you could show me places to buy a nice dress?" That's it, Kat thought, focus on what happens after we hunt that man-stag down, and you'll be alright. Tess rose an eyebrow. "I know a couple shops in Great Falls, but why?" Kat could clearly hear what her Dad's girlfriend implied, and she grinned. Slightly. "Well," she started, "I've heard about Homecoming, and we don't have stuff like that in France, so I guess... I wanna try something new?" She paused for a moment, trying to read Tessa's expression. "Also, Sean asked me out for Homecoming. And I accepted. Least I can do for my Shelly sherpa." She took a sip off of her can of Ice Tea and stood up. "Speaking of, I'm gonna pretend I have a social life and go talk to my friends, I can see them around." Her father huffed a chuckle, amused, and handed her another sandwich before she left. "Thanks, Dad!" And she was gone. Choices, choices. Which one of her new friends was she going toward? She didn't really know. The sun felt pleasant on her face, her forearms, and there was this intermittent breeze, barely noticeable, but it was probably the best part of it. Her feet on auto-pilot brought here to where Sean and Devin stood at. From the looks of her, the third person could be no one else than Sean's sister. "Hey guys!" She said as she came around.
  4. 1 point
    "Eee-yeaaah..." Sean hedged, juggling the extra Fresca back into his satchel as he looked up at the other two. "I was gonna tell her today, y'know, after this. Ain't your fault, man." He gestured around Champion's Field with his drink in one hand, bun and sausage in the other. "I was gonna tell you, Laurie, honest." Sean couldn't really blame Devin. It was getting hard to remember who knew what, and what you could tell to whom, and what you didn't mind others knowing. And as much as he might still be leery of the interest Laurie was showing in Devin - Devin interest in Laurie was less of concern, since he showed the same interest in practically every female in Shelly, and probably out of it too - there was far worse that Laurie could have making a mistake with. And through all that was happening, even Sean had to admit Devin had really stepped up his game. "Tell me what?" Laurie reiterated, folding her arms huffily, eyes hard on both her brother and Devin. "Mhmphmer," Sean mumbled around a bite of sausage to give himself a bit of time. Picking up on his mistress' irritation, Rascal when to butt Sean in the butt, who just managed to scoot out of the way at the last moment, almost dropping his drink. He glared at the goat. Devin looked like he wanted to give him a high five. "Msstsrd." Sean took a sip of Fresca to help put down his last bit of sausage, then quickly finished the rest of it, then his Fresca, wiping his hands on his pants. He casually looked around to make sure no one seemed to be eavesdropping on them. "Okay, the Cliff Notes. Cody got infected with an evil... thing, entity --- Remember that episode of TNG, with the Skin of Evil? Anthropomorphic evil, abandoned on a planet?" "Yes..." Laurie admitted dubiously, giving Devin a slightly self-conscious glance. "Okay, something like, but in a dimension next to ours. But able to reach into ours at certain points and time. That got inside Cody and now Cody ain't Cody anymore. The Big Bad. At least one of them. He's on the Other Side. If he gets on this Side, stuff gets bad, like super bad, super pandemic bad, maybe zombie apocalypse bad. People acting on their worse impulses is just the start. So, we're going to stop him. Tonight." Sean gave his sister a pointed look, trying to impress on her the seriousness of what he was trying to convey. Laurie didn't seem to be buying it at first, then she shifted her weight, considering what her brother could do. What Jase could do. What Devin, of all people, could do. "Okay... right. But like, there has to be somebody else who can go do that, right? I mean, I know you guys can do all these incredible things, but you're all still in high school for fuck's sake." Sean shook his head, a bit reluctantly. "They can't get to Not-Cody, not where they can stop him before it's too late." He nodded towards Devin. "With our help, Devin can get us there, and together, Voltroning our powers, we can stop Not-Cody." Laurie shivered, hugging herself tighter. This was insane. "This is insane. You all kn - why didn't you tell me before?" "I was still trying to figure out how to tell you that we're to the land of Upside-Down Thunder to face off against an entity of unmitigated and seemingly immortal evil, and we might not win." And we might die. The last part might not have been said, but Laurie heard it. She'd seen her brother scared before, but he'd always toughed it out before, fought his way through it. But he was struggling now, and didn't want to show it. She didn't stop hugging herself, but she straightened her shoulders and stood up tall, giving Sean and Devin a determined nod. "Okay. Okay," she repeated. She took a deep breath, unfolding her arms, her hands balling into fists. She nodded again. "You guys gotta go what you gotta do. So, what do I do? How do I help?" "If we don't come back, you get mom and dad out of Shelly, Laurie," Sean said with somber seriousness, sending shivers of scare sweat sliding down Laurie's spine. Sean looked over at Devin. "That about cover it?"
  5. 1 point
    "Hey," Laurie cheerfully greeted her brother. "Nope we were just talking." "I was talking, she was flirting," Devin pointed out as Laurie bumped playfully into him with a quiet laugh hidden in her steps. A part of Sean hated to see it, but she was actually flirting. Devin was too, but he knew Devin was shameless in his pursuits for feminine attention, which, as a brother, gave Sean's feeling some pause. IF was one thing for Devin to mindless do his thing, but if his sister was stating to like Devin... that might only be setting her up for some unwanted, and very real, heart-break. Devin denied the Fresca. "Nah, I'm good, man. Water day for me. I feel you though, Cassidy, about getting away from the parents. Our only bring us here so they can show us off to the rest of the town and make it look like they might actually know what they're doing. Lord knows they certainly don't care." Devin laughed and scoffed as he watched his mother and father wandering about 'mingling' with people they positively despised. "You know, last year, my mother actually FaceTimed a parent teacher conference. Had me hold the phone. Saddest part, she works at the school. Apparently the cookie platter was empty and she was more concerned about how that made the school look as a host to the parents than being a parent to her kid." He sighed and shrugged, shaking his head. "I mean, genetically, you Cassidy's are a mess, but as far as parents go, you guys hit gold." Laurie nodded through pursed lips and sucked her teeth. "Yep, it's true. Teagan is a shaved wendigo and I actually have cloven feet and a tail hidden by my shorts. You got us." "Oh, I knew it. Jaunt, super sleuth." He scrolled his hand like he was placin the words in the sky. "Might go into business for myself if Not-Cody doesn't finish us off tonight." Like everyone else, it was on his mind. No matter how from the thoughts he tried to distance himself, the thought of battling Not-Cody this evening seemed to keep creeping to the forefront of his mind, finding its way into his words. He realized it was a little unnerving and look at the other two apologetically. "Sorry, its uh... kinda on my mind. Been a messed up few days." "Wait, what?" Laurie glanced at Devin with concern then whipped a red pony tail in Devin direction as she looked to her brther. "Cody, what? Who is gonna what now? Sean, the hell is he talking about?" Devin peered around her to look at Sean. "You didn't tell her?" His neck tightened to stretch his lips into a frown. "Oooh, shit. Sorry, dude. Thought she knew." "Know what?" She asked firmly.
  6. 1 point
    Out and About Shelly Sean dropped Jason off then started heading for Champion's Field to meet up with his parents and sister, when his Jeep chimed, indicating it was hungry. Not surprising he'd gone to Great Falls and back twice this weekend. He huffed and switched lanes to stop off at the gas station to fill up rather than heading to The Carousel directly. He loved his Trailblazer, no doubt, with its height and capabilities on and off road, but he still regretted being outbid on the Tesla. With his powers, he was sure he could keep an electric vehicle running indefinitely - well, almost, he would get tired eventually rather than having to gas up his vehicle. He'd been looking at electric conversion kits, but they were pricy and he didn't have the savings after buying his Grand Cherokee. He believed he could do the conversion himself, with help, but he would still need a garage and the right tools. Sean pulled in to Simons Petroleum and hopped out of his vehicle. He sauntered around it, reached up and unscrewed the cap to the gas tank and stuck the nozzle of pump inside. He frowned at the pump for a moment when it asked him to preauthorize an amount. It would be so easy to spoof the system, to make it think he'd payed when he hadn't, but he resisted the urge. He tapped his debit card on the reader then pulled the trigger to let the gas start filling the tank. Tapping his foot in time with the music coming from his car, Sean grew aware at being stared at. Sean glanced over between the pumps to see two men looking at him as they spoke, standing by a F-250 even more jacked up than his Grand Cherokee. The younger of the two was Jared, a member of the Shelly High Football team, the older, presumably his father. The fireflies of bioelectric impulses danced inside them both, showing a rising agitation, but not so much Sean thought violence was imminent. He shifted so his back was mostly towards them, but was still able to keep them in his peripheral vision. "In my day, boys had the decency to look and dress like boys and play football and girls to look and dress like girls and be cheerleaders. None of this tranny shit or identifying as this or that from one day to the next, making mock of God's plan for 'em." Jared the Elder was speaking to his son, but was being loud enough to make sure Sean heard him. Sean's shoulders tightened even as he sighed. It felt like a year ago since he made that silly bet with Laurie. A bet he was pretty sure he'd lose, a bet he'd made to force himself through his own hang-ups to see what something felt like. He'd known he would get comments, but he hadn't thought it would be this big of a deal, didn't think it would alter the opinions people already had about him. He feigned not hearing them, as he pulled the trigger a few more times to make sure the tank was full, then settled the pump in its cradle and completed the transaction. "You hear that, titboy?" Jared the Younger called out, taking a step towards the feminine boy. "You'll get your comeuppance. You ain't had no right dressing up and pretending you're a cheerleader, even if your sister is on the football team, travesty as that is." Sean could barely make out Jared mutter something about Lilly before he raised his voice again. "You're making The Coyotes a laughing stock." Sean just stared at the rangy jock. You're doing that on your own, bud, he thought, but no one else around was laughing. The attendant was looking on through the window of his kiosk. "I'm sorry, just because I was wearing the uniform, you think everyone thought I was a cheerleader?" Sean's sweet voice was full of scorn. "Did any of you see me on the field cheering? Or even stand next to another cheerleader?" "It don't matter none. You ain't earned that uniform. And none claiming to be a boy would be caught dead in it." Sean barely bit back the laugh. Earned? Right. Yeah, skill made the team, football or cheerleader, but especially among the cheerleaders under Courtney's reign, it was nearly as often made by nepotism and sycophancy. "Sorry I confused you, Jared." He spared a scathing glance for his father just before climbing up into the Jeep. "And in my dad, we're smart enough not to smoke when we pumping gas." The ashy cigarette dropped from Jared the Elder's mouth as Sean drove away. He slammed the steering wheel with the palm of his hand, furious at himself for taking the bait, furious that others were making a big deal out of something he thought so small in the grand scheme of things, even if privately, it had been a big deal to him. Furious that he and his friends were facing a goddamned monster on these goddamned people's behalf. He made a sharp turn away from the direction of Champion's field, needing time to cool off. He didn't want to die. He had bloody super powers, and it felt like death was waiting for him everyway he turned. Cody and the entity that was inside him, or part of him, tonight. His own genetic abnormalities in an uncertain amount of months time if he didn't find a longshot answer at Site B, where he might also end up getting killed trying to infiltrate. Or even something as mundane as turning into another glossed over hate crime statistic, which could happen pretty much anytime, practically anywhere. Sean drove down Shelly's main street and had the almost overwhelming urge to just... keep driving. He'd seen so little of the world. In a few months, he could see some portion of it, more than Montana and a few hospitals in some of the bigger cities around the US. He could get by, as long as he could find an ATM or had access to the internet. Cryptocurrency was practically made for someone like him. Everyone else in the Fellowship was pairing off, but there was no one for him. They might have been his friends, but nothing more to the freak, despite Jase's assurances earlier in the day. He glanced in the rearview mirror and angrily scrubbed away a tear he hadn't felt on his cheek. But they were his friends, and he still had family here, and that was the tether that stopped him from abandoning Shelly altogether and just continuing down the highway. He turned and drove home. In the barn, he stopped to wash his face in cool water, then checked in on his Matrix Trio, getting the updates on ReGenesis. Everything looked like it was checking out, the last bugs exterminated, Steam page and the direct site ready to go. He hit a key, a physical key for added poignancy, and started the countdown for release tomorrow morning. Then he found his cat, Turing, and coaxed him from his dresser. Turing had been none to pleased with him since he experimented with what he could do with electromanipulative control on the grey cat. But Turing magnanimously relented to his touch and let Sean pet him for a while. Calmed by the near silent purring, Sean picked Turing up on his shoulder and carried him into the main house. Just in case he didn't come back tonight. Then he got back in his car and drove to Champion's Field, parking next to his dad's truck, a spot miraculously still open on the gravel lot. Sean collected his nearly ever-present satchel and slung it crosswise over his shoulder as he slid out from his vehicle. Squinting against the noonday sun, he looked over Champion's Field, finding his parents among the scattered trees by the picnic area with the other families, more or less in the same spot they claimed every year. Just like most of the other families who usually attended each Labor Day, in an unwritten but still understood accord. The buxom boy strolled over to his parents, hands stuffed in the pockets of his white hoodie with its spreading tree graphic. His father gave him a nod and pointed at the grill with a pair of tongs, assuring him that he'd have to take his turn cooking. His mom turned from placing a half dozen muffins in a paper bag and accepting a few bills in return, giving her middle child a motherly smile. "There you are, hon." Carolyn swept a lock of strawberry-blond hair behind her ear in a mirror of her youngest daughter as she looked over her shoulder to where she'd last seen Jason. "Everything okay? I thought you'd show up with Jason - oh!" Carolyn's brows rose in surprise at finding Jason in a close and public embrace with the Keane girl. Her lips creased with a private smile, pleased for the boy who had spent so much time at their place. She hoped her own son found someone someday, even if it didn't last, and regardless where his inclinations lied. She and Jack had discussed talking with Sean about it, but had decided to leave it alone for now. Sean followed his mother's glance then looked away, gemstone eyes darkening with a hint of envy. Instead he prepared himself a Polish sausage on a bun with all the trimmings and grabbed a canned drink. After an instant of consideration, he took another can and stuffed it in his satchel. He tended to go through the first can quick. "I'm fine. Jase just wanted to get his car and then I had to gas up, then check on something back home. It's all good." Carolyn gave Sean a sharp look, well aware that wasn't the whole of it, but deciding not to call him on it. "Okay... If there's anything you think we should know, about, well, you know, please, Sean, don't keep us in the dark." Sean hid a shiver under his hoodie, looking for an excuse to leave before he inadvertently revealed more than he would prefer. He saw Laurie and Devin talking a ways off and nodded towards them. "I won't, I promise. There's Laurie. She texted me when we were out. I should go, um, apologize." Drink and sausage in hand, Sean hustled over to his taller sister and the even taller Devin. "Hey, guys. Hope I ain't interrupting, just have to escape the 'rents for a bit." He shuffled his drink into the crook of his arm and fished out the other can from his satchel, offering it to Devin first, though he held it out somewhere between Devin and Laurie. "Want a Fresca?"
  7. 1 point
    "And there she goes," Marissa said softly, making certain Jacob could hear her. She motioned to Jacob with her open hand. "Boy," she swept her hand to where Jason and Autumn were acting like it's been years and two wars and a continent since they'd last seen each other. "Meet toy." She folded her arms, placing her weight on one hip, narrowing her eyes in villainous observation. "Man," she sighed. "Makes you wonder what he did to just sweep her off her feet like that, right? She's been positively ecstatic since he spent the night with her on Friday, I'm so happy for her. She's just so secretive, you know? I don't know who had her heart before Jason, but man, they sure did a number on it. It's so nice to see her happy again. Gives me the giggles." She turned and faced Jacob with innocence in her eyes. "So, you and Tawny, huh?" She nodded. "I can totally see that, you two are going to be so adorable together. I know we've had our misunderstandings in the past, Jay, but perhaps you'll save me a dance at Homecoming?"
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