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  1. Tawny tried to wipe away some of the blood on Devin's cheek, but she only smeared into a redish-black blob. She chuckled, as best she could, trying to find something in all the craziness that felt normal. "Sorry." "It's okay," he shook his head dismissively as he gave her a warm smile. "You went through Hell to save me," her eyes seemed to study him, seeing something in him she'd not seen before. Perhaps it was the man she always had faith was hiding under his immaturity or something else, but he seemed different, more intense and, she hated to admit it, sexy. This version of Devin was outside the boundaries of anything she'd experienced with him before, the warrior, the hero... the good guy. None of those things she'd ever really attributed to him before, she'd just known he was capable of it in the good heart of his. "In a heartbeat." Devin's tone was far more romantic than he intended it to be, but his eyes were locked on hers as she studied him, biting her lips as struggled to wrestle with her thoughts. Marissa tapped Cade and nodded in Devin and Tawny's direction as their world bled away and they only saw each other. Before they knew it the area had grown quiet and the Fellowship were looking on in anticipation. Would this be the night, after all the heroics and fighting that Devin finally wised up and just settled down with the woman who obviously loved him. Pulled by their unconscious wills their lips drew closer and closer. 'He's going to kiss me' Tawny thought as only a half an inch remained between them and the Disney ending Tawny had always dreamt of. Kiss? He's going kiss me. Jacob! She pulled away suddenly, startled by the last memory she had before waking up in that hell. "Oh my god, Jacob! Hewaswithmeanditcameoutofnowhere-" "Jacob is fine," Autumn's hand on the blonde's shoulder calmed her down. "He'll have a headache tomorrow, but he'll be fine." Tawny pressed her hands to her heart and sighed with relief. "Oh, thank God." "Whelp," Devin grunted as he struggled to stand. That moment was shot to shit, so no point in sitting there like a puckered up idiot. It would figure. About to finally get some romantic time for uber heroics and she's thinking of someone else. Par the course when it came to his luck, he supposed. "I think it's time we call the parental units to come a reclaim their misbegotten progeny." He looked to Sophia and offered her a comforting, warm smile. "And maybe get her to the medical center." Sophia wearily looked up to Devin. "Sorry I tried to kill you." She groaned. "Sokay," she shrugged. "You're not the first to want to, or try." The Fellowdivas all quickly mumbled and shown their agreement on the fact that she would also not be the last. Despite the hell she'd been through, she managed a very tight but faint smile. "Hey, mom?" Marissa, like Jason, was limping pretty bad and her. Her voice was combination of adrenaline-excited spotted by patches of extreme pain that made her wince. Her outfit was shredded, at this point it barley protected her modesty and how the spaghetti straps of her halter top were still in one piece was a small miracle to be examined at a later date. Her legs and arms seemed covered in claw marks, along with her abs and back which were also littered with puncture wounds from teeth. The diva had never looked so rough and still her unique gifts of desire made her rock the whole look like she was some Valkyrie bad-ass who'd just survived Ragnarok. Nonetheless, she was in bad shape and it was hard to tell how much of the blood she was drenched in was actually hers. "Yep, saved the town and stuff," she nodded to the mother she couldn't see. "Not doing this with you right now." She slowly tried to sit down, wincing and sucking her teeth as her knee refused to bend. She decided to stand instead of persuading any of her wounds to open further. "We need a ride, and bring a lot of towels, but only the ones you don't want anymore, like those nasty green Ralph Lauren ones that Grandma sent us for Christmas? Hmm? Oh, because we're all covered in blood." Marissa glared at her phone, then placed it back next to her ear. "Mom?" The barrage of curses and yelling that could be heard as Misti gave Marissa an earful was epic in and of itself as her crimson-coated daughter held the phone away form her ear for a moment as she vented. She sighed and tried again after the yelling abated. "Done? Yes, mom, blood. Some of it is, yes. I don't know who all else's blood it might be, they're all dead, Not-Cody didn't exactly keep detailed files of his meals. I'll explain later. No. No. Yes, he's fine... for his definition of it, anyway." Devin gave her a middle finger and a smile for which she returned the smile. "Yes, mom, I know the Sheriff has called a lock down. He's with us, he's in the know. Yes, we know Sophia is missing. Well, was missing. We have her here with us. Yes, with us." Marissa inhaled and sighed loudly. "Mom! Would you and Dad just come get us? Christ! Fine. I'm all kinds of amped up on adrenaline and excitement. If you don't come get us I'm going home with Cade and we are going to get so nasty tha-" Marissa smiled and pressed the button her phone to end the call. "They'll be here in ten." "Y-you're not looking so good, Emjay." Devin approached his sister, sliding an arm around her to assist with her balance. "Everything hurts is all, I'm okay." Her smile did little to comfort him but still she tried to relax and wait for their ride to arrive. She looked to Autumn and grinned. "I get the sarcasm now, yeah. Next hellscape, wedge heels, totally. Although I think I took something eye out though..."
    3 points
  2. Cassie nodded and took Kat's offered hand. "Just a second. Lets go into this eyes open." And, paradoxically, she shut her eyes. The world shattered. Or, more accurately, it unraveled. From a single 'plane' representing the reality around her, Cassandra instead saw ribbons, each one somehow still the world, but also different. Here, Autumn had a different shirt on. There, Kat hadn't extended her hand. The ribbons twined together into cable-like structures, and then there were many more of those. The differences were more pronounced between different 'cables.' Autumn had black hair. Sean was a regular guy, with no obvious genetic conditions. Charlie was with them. It was worse than Wikipedia and TV Tropes combined. Cass felt herself pulled to woolgather, to peruse the endless pages of Might-Have-Been until she died of dehydration. But no. Not those worlds. These. Clustered around her own, so close they could be tasted, touched, imagined. So close that the occupants of those Might-Have-Beens were almost shadowy figures in her own. They appeared in the realm of the Dark. ... before them the Horned Throne... ... ...a gutteral howl from above... ... ...a scream, maybe Autumn, maybe Cassie herself... ...the roots!... Cody, encysted in something black and noisome, roaring as the Fellowship choked on fumes of despair... Cassandra wasn't Devin; she could not step between the Might-Have-Beens...but she could see them, and in them could see how events here changed events there. Decisions still mattered, will was still a thing. Outcomes still followed from causes, and if you wanted a particular outcome, you had to provide the appropriate causes. You weren't stuck in one timeline, Cass could see. You chose your timeline, at least in the context of human existence. You step here, the trap goes off; you step there, it does not. Whether you know the outcome of your choice in advance or not, it's still your choice where to put your foot. And though many things waiting for you were not chosen by you, and not every possible outcome was in your power to bring about..being able to see what lay ahead was as profound a power as there could be. How had she ever been so blind before? Her eyes opened, and for those who could see, Radiance danced behind her pupils like sunlight on rippling water. "We can do this, guys. It won't be easy, but we can. When I yell at someone to do something, you gotta do it, even if it doesn't seem like it makes sense. Okay?" She offered her hand to Autumn then, and when the redhead took it, the three of them passed out of the light and into the Dark...but brought the light with them as well.
    3 points
  3. Marissa had slithered off with her bag, a large, gaudy leather backpack that prominently displayed 'GUCCI' in brass letters. As Autumn changed at her house with Devin and Jason and Cade organized equipment, they barely noticed her missing. She was walking out from behind some tall bushes, sheathed head to toe in all black with her signature black 'hiking heels', and as always, she looked like a million bucks. Autumn and Devin reappeared but a moment later, as Marissa's bag hit the table cueing Cade and Jason to stop for a moment and take in her day to night transformation. She'd went from jeans and a halter top with bright red lips, looking like all kinds of all American dream girl to a faux-leather clad Valkyrie whose lips were about to go back to their trademark maroon if her wiping her lips with the makeup cloth seemed to have a say in the matter. "If anybody needs a hair-tie, speak now or forever hold your peace." Autumn declared while offering up a handful of them. She took a moment to shift and sift through numerous things in her pack, which seemed to be more small pouches of makeup (sorted by color scheme and style), a phone charger (totes mandatory), an emergency battery for her phone (just in case), the clothes she wore to the Carousel... and that seemed about it. "Here!" Leaving her bag, she walked over to Autumn, hand out expectantly as it seemed hair ties was the one important thing she forgot. She groaned in relief. "You are a life saver. Two head bands, but not a single hair tie, god, what was I thinking?" "Four-inch heels, Marissa." Autumn nodded, her lips a thin line withholding to the urge to laugh or choke her 'bestie' out on the spot. "Very practical for trotting around a Hellscape." "Right?! And they totally go so well with this outfit, plus I got them at a steal. Normally they're like, five hundred and seventy, but I totally managed to get them for four hundred and seventy. I was so stoked that they got here just in time for the showdown. It's like absolute bad-assery at a premium." It had dawned on them that the boots she was wearing were not the original pair she'd worn a week or so prior. No. Marissa not only had one pair, but saw it necessary to buy a second pair for the sole purpose of having a new set of boots to battle The Dark in. No flashlight, no food, no water... but hey, she had a new pair of heels to show off to Not-Cody. Devin just shook his head, a smile across his lips, as if to say: 'this is my everyday folks'. "Autumn?" Her tone shifted to something more serious and Autumn could see how Marissa's gaze shifted to her brother who just silently nodded at her. She was getting used to understanding their silent communication as the twins had a way of quietly planning and then confirming those plans with simple glances or gestures to one another. “So um, look I know we fight, like, a lot and I totally forgive you for that, but I wanted you to know… uh, that’s what I like about you. You’re not a ‘yes girl’. You have opinions and you call me on my shit of which I know there is a lot. You have a good heart and a good soul, which I’m not oblivious to the fact that I have neither. We sort of compliment the other and it’s really cool. You have a big heart and soul and I got, well, everything else.” Her hands traced down her own frame obviously signifying that Marissa was blessed with beauty, money, the perfect body, and Autumn at least got a decent personality. It was strange hearing Marissa stammer in a search for words as she spoke. She was always so composed and knew exactly what to say to press someone’s buttons. Now, however, she seemed to to just be playing it by ear… actually speaking from her black, shriveled, ice-encrusted void she called a heart. “When I saw you with Jason earlier,” Autumn visibly tensed, preparing for another bitch bout with Marissa but her bestie shook her head in an attempt to calm her down. “No, no… I’m not looking to start anything, really. Hear me out. I’m trying to say that you looked really happy, and you deserve that. Life isn’t always fair, and none of us asked for this, but I want you to know that behind all my overly critical appraisals, bitter comments and bitchy attitude… I uh… I am thankful and grateful that you are my best friend and that you found some small sliver of happiness.” Her eyes were adopting the sheen of emotion overload. “My, um, only friend, actually.” “So, look… stop listening to me. If he makes you happy, then please be happy. You deserve that much, right? It’s seriously in short supply in this fucked up town and we could all use a bit it, right? I can’t go back in time and make all those things I said and did to you go away, Autumn, but… I’m s-…” she paused, literally unable to say she was sorry. She took a deep breath, composed herself and carried on. “I am sorry. I was wrong and despite all that I did… I… I would like for us to be friends. If, you know, we live through this.”
    3 points
  4. He'd wandered away from the main field, going into the woods that bordered the rest area and, finding a secluded tree to lean against, had fished a rollup from a case in his pocket and put it between his lips. A barest flicker of his will, the end glowed, and he drew a deep drag on the fragrant home-grown leaf inside with a sigh of contentment. It occurred to him that this was his first smoke of the day, and then he realised he'd not had a cigarette since... Saturday, maybe? After leaving Autumn's place. That was good for a faint smile as he looked up through the sun-spackled leaves of the tree, watching them shift and rustle in the breeze. Birdsong came in sporadic snatches from around him, and he exhaled, wreathing the pleasant smoke around his head, letting the problems and cares of the world fade away for a few as he thought of coppery strands of hair curling around his fingers... "Hey, Bannon!" The lanky young man sighed, opening his eyes at the bovine hollering. It seemed there was never a quiet moment, today... Though that wasn't exactly true, was it? Not long ago, he'd been relaxed with his head on Autumn's lap, her fingernails sending thrills of relaxation and pleasure down his spine as she'd idly caressed his scalp. It was a good memory, that one. The scent of her, warm from the sun and exertion, and the feel of her other hand under his on his chest, and the sensation of her eyes studying his face. There had been a calm in that moment which surpassed the simple pleasure of working in his garden, or learning some new esoterica from a book, accompanied by a thrum of her energy, her presence. That connection... that connection which baffled him, so similar in broad strokes to the sense of connection he'd once felt with Marissa, but so much more... "Bannon?! I know you're here, dude." Several sets of footsteps, heading this way through the treeline. A reach out with his senses told him there were four people. At least one was... "Here, Chet." he stepped around the tree, hands in his pockets, rollup hanging from the corner of his lips as he regarded the senior and his company. Two football players: Kieran and Todd, the latter of whom looked a little uneasy as the cold, calm glittering Jase's gaze passed over him. And Tammy Keller - his ex-customer ever since she and two confederates had tried to discuss business at school. As they approached him, he assessed them as a group. All of them had reasons to hold a grudge against him. Chet and Todd for the events at the county fair, Kieran for his girlfriend hitting on Jason at the first game of the season, and of course Tammy. Calmly, Jase decided that if their purpose was to attack him today then that would not be permitted. There was too much going on for him to worry about risking injury at the hands of primates, Dark-driven or not. He didn't say anything else, just waited. "Got any to share?" Chet pointed at the rollup, his manner somewhat high-handed, as though it was not really a request. "It's not weed. Just tobacco." Jase said. "I've got two more of them on me... and they're mine, Chet. I'm a businessman, not a tobacco charity." "Cute. I'm sure you give freebies to your friends." "I might. But we are not friends." Jason's tone was casually matter-of-fact. "You are, at best, customers. Except her." He nodded at Tammy, who scowled. "She's cut off." "She's with me now." Todd spoke up, putting an arm around Tammy's shoulders. "My condolences to you both." Jase's eyebrow twitched upward as a gleam of something sardonic and cold showed in his gaze, the closest he came to a smirk. He took a drag from the cigarette as Todd colored and stepped forward, to be stopped by a hand from Chet. The big senior turned back to Jase and stepped closer, still out of arms reach though. He can be taught, ladies and gentlemen, Jason thought sarcastically. "Okay, fine. We get it, you're a tough guy now that you're friends with the Jauntsens." Chet grinned. "Here's the thing, though. They're losing their throne, fanboy. Devin's lost his edge, and Marissa is just spinning around on her six-inch heels pissing off everyone. She even told me she doesn't care about being on top of the pecking order anymore." He pointed a beefy finger at Jason's face. "So your protection is for shit, kid." Blowing twin plumes of smoke from his nostrils, Jase looked at the finger, then at Chet, who lowered it and went on. "So here's the deal: I want what they got. Free weed, free Addys. You did that for Marissa before you were friends, which is why the Twins mostly kept you off limits. Tribute to the throne, y'know? Or else things will get bad, without them sheltering you." For a moment Bannon looked at Chet, then the others, blinking once as he took in their resolute features, then he smiled, his lips pulling back from his teeth in a grin that was roughly one-third amusement and two-thirds sheer menace. Then he gave a soft, low laugh. "You monkeys are adorable." he chuckled. "No, seriously, hear me out. You are like retarded cavemen who see the sun and think it's the eye of a monster peering at them. You hear thunder and think it's giant sky-beasts fighting. You think fire is a flower from the gods. You have no idea what you're really perceiving, because you lack the imagination or wit to look beyond the obvious." He drew another puff of smoke, the end of his cigarette glowing briefly as he laughed again. "You're actual imbeciles." "Is that so?" Kieran demanded, but he didn't move forward. The sight of Bannon actually laughing was... unsettling. It wasn't a happy sound, or even ironically happy. It was full of eerie menace. It was just wrong sounding. Bannon just nodded, then fixed his gaze on Chet as his laughter faded away like the rustle of dry leaves over gravestones. "The Twins ruled because they have a quality you do not, Chet. I doubt even they were fully aware of it, but they had the instincts that make a competent ruler. Sure, they bullied and pushed people around, but they also intuitively knew who they could push and how far. They regulated what went on, stopped matters from getting out of hand. Stopped people like you from getting in over your head." Now he stepped forward, hands still in his pockets. Chet had a couple of inches and probably thirty pounds at least on the lean youth, but that didn't even seem to give Jason a pause as he stopped inches away from the large senior, his gaze as sharp as emerald razors. "Get this through your head, Chet. The Jauntsens never protected me. They were protecting you. I'm glad they're not playing the pathetic game of high school grab-ass any more. Good for them, shows they're growing up." He blew smoke in Chet's face. "So yes, you're right. A new order will arise, surely. But here's the message I have for wannabes..." His gaze was coldly serpentine, his voice dropping to a hiss of warning. "You want weed, you buy it. Otherwise you leave me alone, you stay out of my business. You leave Sean alone, and stay out of his business. You leave anyone I sit with in class or the cafeteria alone, and stay out of their business. Including the Jauntsens. No shoulder-slams. No locker pranks. No keying of cars. No malicious gossip. Nothing. Play your little game in the kiddie pool with all the other piss-stinking toddlers and leave the grownups alone. Or I will take a personal interest in your misery. And you'll only realise just how badly you fucked up when it's already too late. Just like at the fair." Chet didn't move. He was aware of the others behind him. He was aware that, if he struck Bannon now, the others would join in. They would beat the kid down, surely. There were three guys - and Tammy - against him. And then... And then what, really? He looked into Bannon's eyes and saw nothing of fear or care there. His gaze flicked down to where Bannon's hands were still in his pockets. What if he had a knife? What if he recovered from his beat-down, and then one night the sharp edge of something would come to rest on his, Chet's throat this time. And Cody had disappeared after the fair... He swallowed. Had Jason killed Cody? God knew there was enough trackless wilderness in Montana that a body could be dumped anywhere... Oh god...And the rumor was that Bannon had criminal contacts in the big cities, too. Cartel, some said. Just the school rumormill, but looking into that hard, cold green stare, Chet wasn't so sure. What he was sure of was that he desperately wanted to pee. He'd started out the day with big plans, and some bravado. This year was going to be the year of the Chet, for sure. And now he'd run straight into both Marissa's vitriolic lack of concern, and Bannon's predatory menace. And suddenly he just wanted to be away from here, drinking beer with his buddies in the sunshine, not face to face with someone who didn't seem quite sane or human, who seemed to radiate cold like an incarnation of Death. "Feel free to go away now." Jase said quietly. "It's a pleasant day. Go and enjoy it. Elsewhere." "Right." Chet mumbled, stepping away. "Right... C'mon, guys." "Chet?" Kieran looked askance at the larger senior, then at Todd, who found himself aware of a full bladder all of a sudden and also just wanted to be away. Tammy repressed a shiver - the air was suddenly cold, and huddled closer to her new boyfriend as they drifted away from the lean figure who watched them go, sunlight glittering in the green slits of his eyes. Now and then, one or another of them glanced back, noting he was still watching them... until suddenly they looked and he was gone. Back behind the tree he'd been relaxing against, Jase leaned back against the bark and enjoyed his smoke. He wondered if the pretenders to the throne would take his warning to heart. Probably? He'd seen fear and uncertainty in their eyes, but then they were exceptionally stupid. He drew in a puff and exhaled with a sigh, looking up at the pattern of sunlight through the leaves overhead. Time, and Darwin, would tell. For now, though, there was the comforting fragrance of good tobacco, and the warmth of the summer's end, and the memory of soft fingers playing with his hair...
    3 points
  5. The funeral was weird for Cassandra. For one, it was only her...second? Third if you counted the one she'd been practically a baby for way back when. She didn't count it because she had no real memory of it. So second. Why did that make it weird? She wasn't sure, it just felt weird. Everything felt off, like a room where all the furniture had been shifted two inches to the left since the last time you were there. Nothing was quite right. She felt hyperaware of the feeling of her clothes on her, and snippets of whispered conversations kept leaping up out of the buzz at her, like crazy fish trying to escape a net. And yet, when service was about to start her mom had to nudge her elbow to get her attention. Cass was lost in the weeds. She hadn't even KNOWN him. Not really. Why did that make it feel worse, somehow? Maybe because now she never would? Okay, sure, but...were you supposed to grieve for people you hadn't bonded with? Could you grieve for the potential of a friendship? Was what she was feeling grief? Cassie had grieved before, not even that long ago. Her dad, back when she'd thought he was dead. This wasn't like that. That had been a howling abyss in her heart that had expanded like a black hole gobbling stars, threatening to hollow her out. There were still radioactive places in her memories that she couldn't walk for fear of feeling echoes of that time, right after his funeral. This wasn't like that. It was...tighter. More focused. Something in her skin, not deep inside. It made her feel prickly, embarrassed. It was a sour, sullen emotion, stern-faced. Reprimanding. So she knew this one after all. Hello, guilt, my old friend. The service went on, Cass barely hearing it. The moment she identified what the feeling was, it seemed to rear up and whip off its mask. Immediately Cassandra realized why this was happening. When we went to fight the Dark, he was already gone. When we made our plans, talked it through...when we pulled together and got ourselves through it, he was dead. The Dark just creeped in, grabbed him, and took him out. And we barely even noticed. She took a deep, shuddering breath. It got worse. It was my job to see things coming. I was supposed to be the 'eyes.' But I was all tunnel-visioned on the fight. I didn't even TRY using my abilities before it happened. We all just assumed the Dark would wait for us to come attack it. But it's worse for me, because I didn't have to assume. I could have checked us all, every day. It might not have been perfect...the future is kind of hard to work out sometimes...but I could have saved him. At least maybe I could have. And what could she do with this now? Shrug and call it a lesson learned? Is that what Jase would do? Was that what she wanted? What would Devin do? Sink deeper into misanthropy, playing victim and aggressor at the same time; trying to have his social cake and eat it too? Autumn? Cade? She felt her mother lean towards her a little and put an arm around her shoulders, and Cass realized she had tears coming down her eyes. After a moment of hesitation, she let herself slump against her mother's shoulder. It made her feel a little childish, but...she was a little childish, wasn't she? And that had cost one of her friends his life. And it had cost the Fellowship one of their friends. Then she realized her mom was humming something, some old song Cass barely remembered. She sat up a little, and Teresa moved her arm to give her some space. "You doing okay?" she asked softly. Cassandra nodded. "Yeah." She was surprised at how dry her mouth and throat were. "I'm...going to get some water. Then...then lets go. Okay? Ugh, is it too soon? I just don't..." Teresa leaned forward to give her daughter a hug. "It's totally all right. Plenty of people have already left. You've been here for a little while. I didn't want to interrupt you." So Cassie went to the little table at the back of the place, where a few pitchers had been set up with cups nearby. The questions she had were still there, but they didn't have to be answered right away, she thought. All she could do now was try to grow up, so it wouldn't happen again...and when she did, she could remember Charlie and what he meant to her. Just because he was dead didn't mean all of his light had to leave the world.
    2 points
  6. She was neither wroth nor ravaged by grief. The petite French girl watched, distant, and listened, attentive to the grieving family and friends of the departed. She felt rather calm, and truth be told, still a tad bitter. Kat had not been given much time to create any other sort of bond with Charlie than that of two teens sharing a similar, stressful situation - with its lot of perils, as the past days had shown. Today was a testimony to that very fact. However, no matter how little she knew him, he was - had been - she mentally corrected, one of them, and that itself justified the faint, but creeping sadness she could sense growing inside, fueled by the aching maelstrom of feelings twirling around the coffin, very much in contrast with the actual weather. The least she could do was to stand here, today, next to his, her friends. She winced and sucked on her own cheek, wrestling for control over her restless self. If she had to name one very unpleasant thing to her, it would have been to stand still. Her enhanced emotional radar was not helping at all. Fortunately, Devin's kind words provided her with a welcome, but barely adequate distraction. She swallowed, the saliva barely making its way past the now tight lump in her throat. Her distraught eyes stopped on a familiar face. Courtney was standing slightly apart from the bulk of the small crowd, humid eyes over the thin cherry line of her lips. Whether it was the ambiance, enhanced by their senses, or actual grief, both telepaths were holding it together, but Kat wasn't far from losing it, growing paler by the minute. The petite French girl squeezed her father's hand. "I'm... not feeling so good," she whispered with an unsteady voice. Josh squeezed her hand back, and they both turned away from the burial toward their car, one leaning on the stalwart frame of the other.
    2 points
  7. He didn't feel nothing. When compared to the emotional, mercurial Jauntsens, to his warmly passionate girlfriend, even to the very humanly logical Sean and Cassandra, it was easy to glance at the unperturbed, grave features of Jason Bannon as he studied all the graveside mourners and assume him to be untouched by this moment. It was not the case, but only those that knew him would understand that he did register the loss of Charlie, that his perfect recall was replaying every moment spent in the other teen's company. Every word, every inflection, every smile and laugh from every gaming session or movie hangout at Sean's house flickered before his mind's eye like a movie reel. He'd never been close to Charlie - never really had the chance to be. Most of their association had been with the mask that Jase had worn for the last eight years between him and the world. He'd spent the most time with Sean, and the other young genius might have perceived more to Bannon just from proximity, whereas Charlie had spent at most a few hours a week in his company. Only after the summer break, when everything had gotten weird, had Charlie ever really interacted with Jase, and despite the chilling, off-putting manner of the lanky teen, Charlie had tried several times to understand. Perhaps he, like Autumn, could have been a bridge to Jase understanding the strangely erratic behaviour of those around him. And now he was gone, murdered, his spirit devoured by a for-real monster. Jason didn't grieve, but he did register the loss, did regret the waste and the weakening of his circle. As when he'd heard the news of Charlie's murder, he acknowledged that he should have checked on his friend when he'd not answered his calls, should have driven over there and knocked on the door the way he'd done when Sean hadn't turned up. Perhaps if he had, Charlie would be alive. Or perhaps not. There was no logical way to know the truth of that; the only truth Jason knew was that he'd left his friend alone with their girlfriend for a weekend, and now they were dead. That was another thing, too. Charlie, next to him, had possessed perhaps the most combat-capable power set, and yet was dead. He must have been taken completely unawares, perhaps frozen for a moment from fear or indecision. The parallel was not lost on the young Teulu. He, too, had almost been killed without even understanding what was happening. And yet he had survived, and Charlie was dead. Luck, perhaps - his assailants had been mortal human beings, Charlie's an undying elder wraith. How would he, Jason, have fared if Cody/Arawn had come to the farmhouse that night, or even upon him and Autumn the prior night in the woods? Pride told him that he would not have died easily... but perhaps that was merely pride, or his instinct to fight speaking, and not logic. He listened as Devin said a few words, head cocked. The male Jauntsen seemed utterly sincere, entirely at odds with his usual flippancy. Why should he not be, though? Devin likely felt as responsible as Jase did for not checking on Charlie, or not doing something sooner - he just lacked Bannon's detachment from the immediacy of grief. A wry internal observer wondered if such words would have been said if the rogue marshal's bullets had placed him in the ground next to Charlie. It was hard to know with the Jauntsens, though he was reasonably certain Devin at least would not have wanted him murdered. Green eyes sought the pale, freckled face of his girlfriend next, standing nearby his father and himself with her own family, the Keanes and the Crockers both having turned up together, the adults likely feeling a mixture of relief that it was not their child in the ground, and - very humanly - guilt for even thinking such a thing. The idea prompted Jason to look at his own father, sober and grave in his dark suit, his eyes fixed on the coffin. Was his dad also experiencing that sensation? Probably. Likely most of the parents were, just like most of the other children would be glad it wasn't them. As the service ended, and the knots of people broke up, Jase gave his father a brief one-armed hug, prompting the burlier older man to respond with a rough bear hug of his own. "You okay?" Gar looked into his son's face, noting again the pale scar of the assassin's bullet. He didn't know why he asked - of course Jason was likely okay. Gar, on the other hand, really wanted a drink. "I'm fine." the lanky youth reassured his dad calmly, frozen jade eyes intent on the older man's face. "Are you?" "Need a drink. Will settle for a coffee though." Gar replied, quirking a smile. Father and son turned, heading away from the grave in step, taking their time and each deep in thought.
    2 points
  8. He wished it was raining. All those in attendance kept commenting on how gorgeous the days was and how God had cleared the skies so Charlie’s soul could find its way to heaven and all that nonsense. They kept saying how tragic it was and how such a bright light had been taken from the world far too soon. Okay, that part he could agree with. Charlie’s passing was too soon, and funerals weren’t for the departed, they were those left behind. Guilt ate away at his insides as he stood there, listening to the speaker, who obviously knew nothing about Charlie aside from what his parents had written on a few index cards. He hated that the most. Devin barely knew Charlie and yet still seemed to know more about him than this guy who was stammering and stuttering between kind words in a vain attempt to make parallels to bible verses and God’s word. It felt so disingenuous to Charlie’s memory. As stood, the sun in his face, he couldn’t recall where he was that night when was murdered. No matter how hard he thought about it, he just couldn’t remember. Was he with Tawny? At home drawing? The more he thought about it, less clear the events leading up to Charlie’s death became. He had tried to fill in the blanks so many times that now he didn’t know which his memories were accurate anymore and that just made him feel even more guilty for not being there. Logically he knew if he had been there, he’d more than likely be dead too, but he was grieving and felt like being there, even if he’d died too, would have been better than not being there at all. As the preacher preached, and the people cried, one by one he watched family and friends say a few words in remembrance, paralyzed by his guilt that he should have been there. He should have had Charlies back, they all should have, but how could they have known? That wasn’t what he wanted to tell himself. It was logical and there was no way any of them could have predicted that Charlie would be hurt; this wasn’t their fault. Inside though, he didn’t want to accept that answer either, not after last night. His fight with Tawny had left his world as bleak and dark, full of hopelessness and the harsh reality that dreams don’t come true. The angst and rage of teenage depression knew no bounds. Tawny had come to the funeral, too. Not far from him she stood silently next to Sophie. They’d been released from the hospital earlier that morning and as the whole would say, repeatedly for the next several weeks, they were so brave and courageous to drop everything and come to Charlie’s funeral so soon after all that had happened to them. Yeah, because they did so much, right? A war was raging across the cosmos, Devin now had the scars and bruises to prove it, but it was Tawny and Sophie and who were so brave because they managed to get kidnapped, cry and pass out. Great job ladies. She hadn’t put any effort into her appearance today, just a black summer-style dress that went to her knees and her long, blonde hair was worn loose over her shoulders brushed, but that was about it. Even while fuming mad at her Devin entertained more hot blonde goth fantasies than was healthy for any teenager, which he mentally blamed on her for looking so goddammed amazing. The poet in him blamed this perfect day on her, telling himself the world could never weep when a heart as warm and a smile as bright as hers could still bringing joy and warmth into the world. God, even mad at her she was still able to captivate and mesmerize him. It wasn’t fair. Nothing was fair, though, right? Life wasn’t fair. People weren’t fair. That’s why it was futile to waste time trying to make things better for everyone and he just needed to worry about himself. No one else cared, but since that was the case, he knew there was still a world to save, and he’d do it alone if he had to. He shook his mind from Tawny and straightened his jacket a bit as the last speaker finished. Devin stepped forward, approaching Charlie’s parents and silently asked them if he might go next. They both nodded, Charlie’s father seemed puzzled, knowing that Devin wasn’t apart of Charlie’s close friends. Still, neither saw the harm in it. He cleared his throat and again adjusted his jacket. The Jauntsens appeared at a formal event the way it was intended, not in jeans and boots like most of the mouth-breathing, ham-fisted residents of Shelly who showed up. Like everything in this small town, the Jauntsens made this funeral look good, classy, even. He stood and addressed those assembled. “I’m uh, Devin Jauntsen, although most of you know that already. I’ve never really lost anyone before, and this sort of thing is a new experience for me.” He took in a deep breath and sighed before continuing. “I’ve heard it said a lot today, that these services aren’t for the departed, that they’re for us. So, let’s make this about us for a moment.” Charlie’s father took a soft step, as if to ask Devin to not speak anymore and step down, fearing he might ruin the service in accordance with his reputation. Charlie’s mother, however, pinched the sleeve of his elbow, signaling to let the boy talk. “Look I, uh, I don’t really feel like I deserve to be here.” He chuckled half-heartedly. “In case some of you aren’t in the know, I picked on Charlie at school, a lot. For years I made his life at school difficult, and yet this summer he and I and some others all came together and started hanging out,” he looked shocked, like the thought of hanging out with Charlie was still something his mind couldn’t process. “None of us expected to become friends, but here we are, friends mourning a friend.” “Long and short of it, Charlie had every right and opportunity to call me out. To hate me with every fiber of his being, but… he didn’t. No matter what he was always in the moment and treated me like he wanted to be treated. He was kind, forgiving, respectful and he showed me how much of a better person he was, than I am. He set a bar that I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to live up to.” Devin coughed into his hand, as he choked on those last few words. The moisture lining his eyes wasn’t acting or some prank. “It was like the past was never as important to him as the present. Now. What was happening then and there in that moment was all that mattered to him and if I was trying to not be a jerk, he made a bigger effort to see the person I was trying to be instead of the person I was, and sometimes still am.” He swallowed down the lump in his throat and stared at the coffin, closed because there was nothing more than a bucket of memories after Not-Cody got done with him. “I never had the chance to tell him that I considered him a friend after all our hang outs and debates and even our disagreements. He was great guy and he shined brightly enough that he burned some of our darkness away before he left us.” He looked to Charlie’s parents offered them a soft smile that pleaded of some measure of forgiveness and knew the Fellowship would get the reference. “He was a great guy, and I couldn’t be sorrier for your loss.” He stepped to the casket and his next words weren’t for the gathered, but for Charlie, wherever he might have been. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there, Chuck. See you on the other side, bro.” Clearing his throat, he composed himself before walking back to where his parents and sister were waiting for him in black within the sea of black that comprised all of those Charlie knew in life. His parents and sister hugged him gently. “Well said, son.” Carl haled him tightly with one arm, trying to comfort him as well as he was able.
    2 points
  9. "I will keep it in mind." he replied, with a nod of his head to further accentuate his acceptance of her words, though his eyes never left her face. "Though I can't make any promises about going too far when making amends." he added, a gleam of humor flashing a fin in the calm pools of his gaze. The smile spread from his eyes then, to a slight curve of his lips once more as he studied the vibrant copper-tressed girl on the branch, taking in how the golden sparks of light shone on the freckled ivory of her skin, highlighting the deeper rose of her lips and the darkness of her eyes in the half-light. "So..." he began, the word a slow, low murmur. "I was wondering if you'd like to come down here and make out under the fireflies for awhile." And there it was again, that completely unfiltered, unashamed interest that'd make somebody a fortune if they could ever figure out how to bottle and sell it to lonely people. Pheromones, she remembered distantly, dizzily, as she gazed down into the depthless, ageless green-gold eyes glittering up at her, except that this time there was no crackling campfire to blame for the rush of heat blooming bright beneath her skin. She'd never really thought of herself as fickle, before, but what other excuse was there for going from spitting mad to being ready to literally fall into his arms in a few minutes' time? Well, other-Autumn reminded her with scrupulous, nigh-unassailable logic. He did apologize. Mhmm. Aaand, he meant it, or he wouldn't have- -wouldn't have said it, right. Thanks. "Think you can concentrate enough to keep from burning the whole tree down?" she heard herself say, feeling her own lips curve in a mischievous, answering grin as her attention shifted from the brilliant gold-flecked lambency of her boyfriend's gaze to the shape of his mouth. The smile on that mouth was barely a hint at the edges, but the gleam of mirth in the Effing BF's eyes deepened as he paused for a moment, as if in consideration. Of course, he knew that the firefly effect was contained - none of the sparks could transfer heat: even if he lost concentration or passed out, they would simply fade away after a time. But he understood the mischief, the playfulness in Autumn's question, and so responded in kind. "Only one way for you to find out for sure." he answered, lips twitching in his own version of an answering grin, his tone teasing. "You're so right," she replied, a sudden impish gleam brightening the twilight seas of her eyes in the dim light; she might've forgiven him, but there was something to be said for occasionally, metaphorically, playing with fire. "So, let's see..." Autumn murmured, the slow to-and-fro swing of her feet more deliberate as she swayed a little from side to side, hmming to herself. "We... ask the question first, which we've done. We can't really do much background research to see what kind of results other people have gotten, since there's no real precedent, but we need to come up with a hypothesis. We could just establish what stimuli are likely to make you lose concentration, though, along with the temperature of these lights, and compare that to the amount of heat needed to burn green wood..." Tilting her head in a passable Bannon imitation, she regarded the lean young man whose kisses alone, in her mind, could spark a wildfire. "Or, if science isn't really your thing, we could go hiking instead?" "I was thinking of a more practical experiment. A field trial, if you will." Jase riposted, and then Autumn could feel herself being lifted carefully, but firmly off the branch and down into his arms with such smoothness she barely had time to laugh before she became aware of his arms around her, and his lean body against hers, and his lips right there coming down to meet hers in a firm, possessive kiss. For a few moments longer, the giggles continued as their lips met, and then her own arms came up and around his neck as the giggles became sighs. He was kissing her with barely restrained and poorly concealed passion, his mouth moving slowly against hers as his hands slid down her back to her hips. His teeth grazed her lower lip, drawing a small gasp from her before he broke the kiss, his eyes meeting hers from a mere few inches away. "Still want to go hiking?" he asked, his voice hoarse with the edge of desire as they stood in the waist-high grass under the spreading branches of the apple tree, the golden fireflies winking and flickering overhead. "Mhmm," came the almost immediate response, a drowsy, languid hum as Autumn rocked forward onto her toes, the fingers of one hand toying idly with a lock of dark hair at the nape of Jason's neck. "I even wore the t-shirt." The clean, quintessentially Jase scent she'd come to associate with him surrounded her, and, breathing it in, she leaned closer, unable to resist the temptation it posed. Definitely need to find a way to market this, she mused, if only to make a detergent she could wash her sheets in. And that thought led to another- that there might be more effective ways to make her bedsheets smell like this- and the liquid warmth rushing through her veins glowed with renewed heat. The tip of her nose brushed his; from this close, amid the shifting embers of the miniature galaxies spinning slowly above them in the darkness, his eyes were primeval forests rather than crystalline pools, their depths unexplored and only hinted at in stray firefly-flashes of sunlit gold. It would be easy to get lost there, she knew, just as surely as it would be possible to drown in the remote, icy waters within which that unknowable, ancient awareness swam. Whether warm and lush or glacial and unforgiving, there were no illusions in Jason Bannon's eyes, even considering all the enchantment and wonder he could summon up, and that he had done so for her. That meant something, didn't it? Maybe, yeah. It even alleviated that sense of unfairness a little because even though his thoughts were completely beyond her, his feelings, at least, were easier to understand. "Later, though," she murmured after a moment, her breath a tremulous whisper against his lips. Her palms slid down over his shoulders, his forearms, to clasp his hands in her own and, taking a step back she gently pulled him down with her into the tall, fragrant grass. Citrus and juniper mingled with the warm underlying scent of her skin and hair and the grass and earth beneath them as Jason willingly accepted Autumn's unspoken, yet insistent plea to join her in her makeshift bower. Their hands parted, his sliding up to her shoulder, trailing the backs of his curled fingers up the sides of her neck to gently bury themselves in her Titian mane of hair as they kissed again, and then again, each kiss a fresh spark that blazed as brightly in their young bodies as the faux-fireflies did overhead, and with far more incendiary a result. Autumn’s hands slid under his arms and around him, pulling him close, pressing her body to his and his to hers as though trying to eliminate all wasted space between them, even hooking one leg over his as she gave out a soft whimper at the intensity of liquid desire his kisses evoked. There was a sense of comfortable rightness, however urgent the floods of hormones were that cascaded through the two of them. This love-play was a curious mixture of languor and passion, as though they each, after the trials of the day, craved the close delights of intimacy more than the raw pleasure of carnality. That said, Autumn did not protest at the feel of Jason's hand slipping under her shirt and his fingers gently caressing her flesh, nor did he balk at the way her hips moved with slow deliberateness against the rigidity in the front of his jeans. But there was an unhurried, exploratory joy in these caresses and touches, for all the flashes of lightning they caused to tingle up and down the spines of the entangled teenagers. It was a voice calling their names that brought them, slowly, back to the realm of earthly, mundane things from their rapture in each other. Autumn uttered a soft groan as she recognised her mom's voice, coming closer as it called out again "Autumn? Jase?" "To be continued?" Jase murmured huskily, studying her kiss-reddened lips and desire-drowsy eyes. "Definitely," she breathed, gazing up into the shadows of his features, illuminated now and then by the dim, dreamlike glow of the winking fireflies. It was almost too perfect to be real, with the warmth of their entwined limbs chasing away the faint chill on the evening breeze, and the soft choruses of birds and insects in the distance, and the red-haired girl squirmed slightly in her boyfriend's embrace as she reached toward him, adding one more layer of sensation to the memory she was working to build. The dark, tousled strands of his hair slid through her fingers as Autumn pulled him close one last time, hurriedly pressing her lips to his in a brief, fierce kiss before scrambling up to her feet, brushing bits of broken vegetation from her jeans. "Over here, Mom!" Holding one arm aloft as she called out, Autumn reached down with the other, offering Jason a hand up as much to touch him again- to feel the texture of his skin and the strong, certain hum of his life beneath- as to help him stand. "So I can see." Dana's expression, clearly visible to her daughter as she approached within the illumination of the spread-out cloud of glowing motes, showed more clearly than her tone that she knew exactly what they had been up to. Amusement, exasperation and concern warred on the pretty veterinarian's features as she studied the pair of them, particularly their flushed faces and the strands of grass in their hair. "It's getting close to leaving time, especially as you have school tomorrow, so I left your dad and Gar chatting on the front porch while I came looking for you." she added with a wry quirk of her lips. "I think he's seen enough of you two canoodling for one week - possibly for the year." As she spoke, she glanced at the slowly swirling field of golden stars overhead, just within arm's reach, and despite the maternal pseudo-disapproval in her voice couldn't quite keep the wonder out of her gaze. Shaking her head slowly, she looked back at the two teens, noting that they were still holding hands. Huffing quietly, she shook her head again, plainly incapable of even-ing right now. "Let's get going, Autumn Rae. You'll see Jason again tomorrow." she not-quite commanded, gesturing for the two of them to follow her. Getting caught making out by her mom seemed a little less mortifying this time, thankfully, than when she'd found them on the porch. Or the living room. Or at the Labor Day picnic. A little. And though she could still feel the hot prickle of embarrassment creeping up the sides of her throat and over her cheeks, at least Dana hadn't actually seen anything- especially not where the young Teulu genius's hands had been. Or hers, for that matter, she realized, trying with some success not to grin in the midst of maternal scrutiny. Giving Jason's hand a quick squeeze before reluctantly letting her fingers slip free, Autumn sighed, a full-body exhalation that was as much movement as sound. "I know, I know," she grumbled in answer, falling in a few steps behind Dana and rolling the elastic band off her wrist, looping her unruly mane into a loose half-ponytail as they left the fairy-tale scene behind. And then, overcome by a sudden sense of deja-vu, she stopped, reached back, and grabbed his hand again. We thought the same thing last night, was the unspoken worry that wove her pale, freckled fingers once more through his longer, still faintly tanned ones. "Think you can bring coffee? To share, I mean. At breakfast. Since this morning got..." She swallowed uncertainly, then glanced up at Jase, her eyes tracing the faint line etched into his skin- near-invisible in the pale moonlight, but graven indelibly in her awareness of him. "Y'know," she finished lamely, grimacing a little. "Busy?" Jase asked rhetorically, quietly, his own expression sober as he nodded, his fingers gently tightening around Autumn's. He'd never really considered his mortality before - in that, it could be said, he was similar to most human teenage males. And though the remembrance of that experience of nearly dying did not fill him with fear, he keenly recalled the blackness he'd fallen into, the cusp of oblivion that would have ended all further experience, all existence of 'Jason Bannon'. And, too, would have precluded kissing his girlfriend under a field of fireflies, or sharing coffee with her in the morning. "I'll bring coffee for us both." he assured her as they made their way across the field with Dana, the older redhead pretending she wasn't listening in. Behind them, the fireflies winked out, slowly, returning their surroundings to their normal moonlit mystery. "And I'll see you at breakfast after my run." Autumn smiled at him as they ambled, still hand in hand, around the side of the farmhouse in Dana's wake to where Ian and Gar were waiting. Both older men's eyes immediately picked up on the held hands, but neither teen appeared to care as they stepped up onto the porch. "Thanks for having us over, Gar." Ian turned to the stockier form of Jase's dad, offering a hand, his tone warmer than it had been earlier that night. "No problem." The elder Bannon smiled back as he took the proffered hand, then gently shook Dana's in turn. "We'll have to do it again - only perhaps with more barbecuing and less earth-shattering revelation." "Oooh, barbecue would be awesome," Autumn enthused, releasing Jase's hand as, without preamble, she stepped forward and hugged his father, choosing artless action over just standing there uncomfortably while everyone sort of looked at each other. "This weekend, maybe? And thanks for the coffee," she murmured gratefully, smiling as the momentarily baffled man quickly recovered and looped an arm around his son's earnest young girlfriend in response. "Was nice to see you again, even if the meeting sucked. Have a good night, Mr Ba- Gar," the younger redhead amended, grinning somewhat abashedly as she withdrew. "And," she added, thrusting her hands into the pockets of her jeans to stop herself from reaching out again and slipping her arms around the tall, spare form of the young man who stood by, quietly watching the farewells. "'Night, Jase. See you in the morning." "Come on, you," Ian sighed, draping an arm affectionately around his daughter's shoulders and tugging her firmly away. "We still have plenty left to talk about and I'm sure the Bannons might want to get to bed sometime soon. Goodnight, Gar, Jason, and thanks again." "Goodnight," Dana echoed, smiling faintly as she drew Jase into another of her quick, nigh-unavoidable hugs as the young Teulu went still for a brief moment, blinking in- Autumn’s Bannonology study suggested- what passed for surprise. "And I haven't forgotten what you said when I asked about hurting Autumn," she assured him quietly, regarding the strange, inhuman young man with a sober, searching gaze before offering both men a brief wave and following after her family. "Bye!" Autumn's voice rang out one last time in the night, a pale arm flashing up as she turned back, briefly, before clambering up into the Jeep and vanishing from sight. "Nice people." Gar commented to his son as the two of them stood on the porch, watching as the Jeep reversed, turned, and headed off slowly down the track towards the road. Jase, characteristically silent, offered no disagreement as he gazed after the vehicle's tail lights, storing in his mind the face that had smiled out of the rear window at him before the Jeep had disappeared into the night. The Keanes were nice people, that was undeniable. As with the Cassidys, he found himself liking them, even in the face of Ian's suspicion, concern and paternal protectiveness which, he noted, didn't stop the man from being civil, even friendly at times. Gar gently clapped his son on the shoulder and turned to go indoors, leaving the lean young psychokinetic out on the porch, listening to the distant sounds of the Jeep and the occasional night bird call. He stayed there for some minutes more, alone with his thoughts, before turning and heading inside.
    2 points
  10. First Period: Chem Class (Kat and Sean) Hand on the combo-lock, Sean glanced over his shoulder at the accented voice penetrating the cacophony of the halls right before the bell rings. Tinny music came from the earbuds around her neck. "Morning, Kat," Sean replied, trying to smile around a yawn. Strong, slender fingers spun the dial on the lock with habitual ease. There was a soft click, then Sean grunted as he gave the lock several vigorous tugs before it opened. It was the same lock he had used since grade seven. It spun easy, but stuck sometimes. Still stiff from his unaccustomed morning activity, he yanked open the dented, green locker door - his head, Chet's help. "Already got your books? Bell's 'bout to ring for Chem." So saying, Sean reached up for the textbooks lined up neatly on the top shelf. He pulled out the thick chemistry textbook, but suddenly his slim hand seemed to lose all grip strength. The scarlet haired technophile gave a high pitched yelp as the corner of the textbook bounced off his prominent chest. His free hand flailed wildly as he tried to catch it, his other hand occupied with his thermos of coffee. Failing, he raised a knee to catch and slow the textbook's fall and give him another chance to collect it, but instead he ended up kicking it. The textbook slammed against the row of lockers, then slid along the linoleum for a few feet, before bumping into a pair of shoes. Sean sighed, his face almost as red as his hair, giving his hand a betrayed glare as he shifted and stooped to collect his book. "Sorry," he muttered apologetically to the person the shoes belonged to, the , buxom beanpole Kimberly, who gave the more endowed boy a commiserating smirk. Sean straightened up and stuffed the textbook into the satchel on his hip, next to his laptop, and turned back to Kat, nodding down the hall towards Chem class. "Mornings, right?" The petite French girl hid her smile behind her hand. "Mornings." She acknowledged. "I still need to get my books, I'll catch up." Turning around, she bounced off a rather large Senior, squealed, apologised and corrected her trajectory. A couple minutes later, Kat and her Shelly Sherpa entered the classroom, the buxom boy leading her to his desk on the side as she waved at a couple familiar faces. Reaching out for a chair, she settled her textbook on the table and slumped into the chair, empty eyes over surly features. The name Leviathan had come back to her mind, but she still couldn't figure out when she'd heard it. It has to be recent, she thought, wrestling with the morning fog seeping through her thoughts in disorder. If it had been for her, she'd have had a whole gallon of coffee. A voice brought her back to the land of the living, and she turned to Sean. "Wha?" "Ms. Lafferty said page 57," Sean said quietly, sliding her a pair of protective goggles and a set of plastic gloves across the black composite of the desk. He hadn't done the assigned reading yesterday, but he had read the textbook at the beginning of the year and remembered what was written. "It's just litmus paper tests. Not hard. Did this in previous years science classes. Guess we have to wait till later in the semester before we get to do exothermic foam reactions I guess." He nodded towards his thermos of coffee before slipping on the goggles over his eyes. The gloves went on with a snap. "Help yourself to some coffee if you like. I already probably had more than I should." He rolled his slender shoulders, then tilted his head to one side, then the other, trying to work out the tightness, then started setting up the experiment, making sure he kept a proper distance between himself and the various flasks and beakers. There had been... incidents before where he had inadvertently knocked things over. He didn't want a repeat. These solutions weren't particularly dangerous, but why take chances? Last time, fire had been perilous close to being involved. Kat stifled a yawn as she put on her PPE and Sean gave her a curious glance. "Didn't sleep well last night, Kat? The meetings didn't go well, sure, but they were still better than the Blight." "Bad dreams," she replied, shrugging. She opened her book to page 57, giving it a quick read. Nothing new. She realised these second Junior year classes were going to bore her to death. "So we're just dipping paper into acid? That's pretty basic..." She gave him the side-eye. "Get it?" Sean nodded at the mention of bad dreams. They all we certainly entitled to those, not just to due to the last few days, but the last few weeks. He'd had his own, but he tried to keep the inquisitive expression from his face. If Kat wanted to share, she would, if she didn't, she wouldn't. "I do use chemistry puns," Sean admitted wryly. He turned from his review of the worksheet to arch a dark red brow at the slighter redhead. The corner of his lips twitched with the effort of keeping a straight face. "But only periodically." He measured out the next substance in proportions according to the worksheet, gave it several brisk swirls with a glass mixing rod, then slid the flask over to Kat. A whirling tendril still reached halfway to the bottom of the yellow-tinted liquid still whirling in front of the girl. "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate." Kat gave the flask a funny look, wrinkled her nose, and, true to her earlier statement, grabbed a strip of litmus paper to dip it. "That's a mean-o acid." She said, comparing her strip to the scale, and noting the result. "I've been meaning to ask." She bit her lip for a second, and glanced at her friend, wagging another piece of paper in his general direction. "What are you gonna wear for Homecoming?" After a short pause, "...Designer genes?" Sean's pretty face scrunched as he groaned. If his genes were anything, they were defective, not designer. "That is just... just awful, Kat. Are you made of sodium and chloride?" He waggled his brows. "Because I feel a-salt-ed. Huh! Huh? How does that feel?" The petite French girl wrinkled her nose once again, her lips stretched into an irrepressible smile. "That's... hm... humerus. You've got nerve!" Sean blew her a raspberry then leaned over to see what Kat had written. "Horrible, just horrible. I concede to this punishment." Mechanical pencil scritching on paper, he copied the results in his own notebook, chewing on a lower lip. "But for Homecoming, uh, y'know, with everything that's been happening, I hadn't actually given it much thought," Sean admitted. "I know, I know, bad sherpa, but I haven't gone to a dance or anything like Homecoming before. I figure I'm gonna go this weekend, get some dressy pants and coat, and a nice shirt, or something." And hopefully have time to get them tailored to fit, if he even could find something on short notice in Great Falls. Really gotta talk to Devin 'bout this. Sean glanced instinctively around for the exasperating teleporter, though well aware he wasn't in the same class. "Probably in black or dark blue, I guess? Erm, unless you've already got something picked out? And want to match more, but it isn't necessary. This is just Homecoming, not prom." "I never went to a dance either, to be honest." She replied. "I'm thinking I'll wait till Friday before ransacking Great Falls." A coral lock slipped in front of her eyes, and she played with it for a while, leaning on her elbows. Dark blue, huh? she thought. That'd look great with his hair. Mine however... She glared at the lock she was fidgeting with, the color beginning to turn bland, a paler carrot. Emerald? Or a pastel green? Pastels look nice with my blonde. She shrugged. "Okay." Kat said on a light tone. Maybe she'd ask Marissa. Although she couldn't forget the words exchanged at the Jauntsens' the day before, they didn't mean she couldn't make friends with the Evil Queen of Shelly. Sean knew he was already pressing for time to get ready for Homecoming, and hearing his sister and other girls talk in passing through school, it was worse for girls. He considered which of the girls he knew who might be able to help Kat. Lona and Sara were gone, and he hadn't known Clara that much. Autumn, Cassandra? He glanced over to where they were sitting with Jase, giggling. Lilly? No, just like him, there was an obvious choice... "Don't wait too long, like I'm doing," Sean suggested. "Might be slim pickings, this close to Homecoming. Maybe scrounge up a shopping sherpa. Tess, maybe, or... Marissa..." Kat's pale brows rose up at the close echo of her thoughts, and Sean shrugged sheepishly in response. "I mean, if anyone can find you a dress and the right shoes on short notice-" "I know Homecoming is next Friday, Mr. Cassidy," Ms. Lafferty said, her tone dry, as she passed by, checking on the progress of her students. "But please leave the talk of dresses and shoes for after class? Or at least, until you've finished the experiment?" A twinkle the teacher's eyes and a bare curve of her lips eased the teasing reprimand. Sean was a great student, if perhaps occasionally distracted by his phone or class work not always on his laptop when the class didn't take much effort on his part. "Yes, Ms. Lafferty," Sean muttered, ducking his head, focusing intently on his notes as faint colour rose to his pale cheeks. Kat glanced away to conceal her amusement.
    2 points
  11. “Em?” Devin yelled loudly as his backpack slid off his shoulder and he closed the front door of their home. He passed through the foyer and took a right into their massive kitchen/dining room area and saw half the contents of the fridge splayed out on the island like an orc raiding party had stopped by for a bite after looting and pillaging. “Emjay!” “Down here.” Marissa called out from the basement where the Jauntsen twins entertained guests. The Mirror was congratulating her on another successful workout as she was standing but bent over, hugging her legs in a display of her excellent flexibility. Slowly Devin walked about the island in the kitchen looking at all the food that was either gone or in various states of either half eaten or mingled with foods that should never be eaten together. Lunchmeat was torn open while lettuce and condiments were carelessly cast about the island’s surface. Every last remaining pudding cup looked like it’d been licked clean while two different soda cans were left on their sides next to open and empty juice cartons. “Jesus Christ,” Devin whispered to himself as tried to look away from the culinary train wreck as he followed the sound of her voice down into the basement. He thumped down the stairs, mindful of his aching muscles although they’d seemed to have loosed up quite a bit after being active for most of the school day. He saw his sister bent over and stretching, her ponytail sprawled falling to the carpet. “What hell, Em.” He thumbed towards the stairs. “The fuck happened up there? You okay?” “Oh my god, yes.” She sighed, standing up straight and arched her back to work out the rest of stretch. “I feel great, now. Guess I was just hungry.” “Em, that’s not hungry!” His thumb shifted to a finger as he pointed upwards. “That’s a full-scale raid on the fridge. Where did you put it all?” “I know, right? I’ve no idea,” she answered with more pep than he’d heard in a long time. “Most of me still hurts all over, but look,” she turned slowly, showing off the excessive amounts of skin she put on display when she worked out. “Most of the scratches are gone, Deej. Not even a scar.” He brother inspected her, looking at where he remembered a few of the larger cuts to be and sure enough, she was right; they were gone, not a red mark or a blemish. He traced his thumb along her side, where one of the larger wounds was just that morning, before Jason’s accident. “Fuel.” He said softly. “Hmm?” his sister asked, stepping away to retrieve her water bottle. “You needed fuel, Em. You were more injured than all of us. Shit, one of this things tried to eat you, I saw the entry wounds from its teeth, there’s no way… Emjay, your body needed to fuel the healing, that’s why you went all hungo. We need to call Annette, you need tests, there’s more to your abilities that mega-thottery.” “I’m not a thot, fuck off.” She snapped back, while chuckling. “And relax, I already called her. Thank to the school, Mom thinks I’m pregnant, so, yeah, there’s that. I’m going in so the Branch people can have a look at me and figure what the hell is going on. While I’m there, I’m going to shut Mom up by scheduling an appointment with Doctor Lassiter for a Paragard, since Dad’s insurance covers it.” “…a what now?” He asked. “A whoziwhatsit.” she replied. “That makes girl parts not do mommy stuff.” He nodded slowly. “Oooooh. Don’t you need a parent’s permission? Mom is I’m sure okay with you being safe, but after this, I think you’re banned from dick until like… 2090 or something. Just a guestimate.” “She knows she can’t stop me from having sex Deej, barring locking me in my room, and even then, you can teleport and open portals. I think Mom and Dad both know at this point; all they can do hope we’re responsible with our choices.” Devin laughed. “Which you obviously weren’t.” “We were!” She protested. “Devin trust me, there was nothing left to impregnate me by the time he put the condom-“ “I don’t need to hear this!” He clasped his hands over his ears and loudly proclaimed ‘lalala’. His sister was relentless and simply resorted to pantomiming every seedy, disgusting sexual act she and Cade had committed with a series of tongue in cheek gestures, hip thrusts and implying there was, at some point, the insertion of a fist into a cavity. As she slowed down, he gently lifted his hands to check if the coast was clear. “And then it was my turn…” she smiled wryly as he turned and fled upstairs, screaming ‘lalala’ as she chased him to their respective rooms upstairs while she loudly yelled every foul act, mostly made up, since he could no longer see her gestures. He only knew freedom after he’d slammed the door to his room. Grinning evilly, she retreated to her own room and prepared for a shower. They’d have company soon. ---===[@]===--- Between the work out and the shower, Marissa was feeling better. Her body still ached, her muscles feeling like sludge, but her and her brother had always toughed it out and pushed themselves, especially while not feeling well. No longer hungry, she went to clean the kitchen only to find that her brother was already on it. “Best bro ever,” she pecked him on the cheek and smiled as he shooed her away. “Nuh uh, you can’t kiss me anymore, I know where that mouth has been,” he joked. “Puh-lease,” she rolled her eyes, grinning. “I know your number. There’s no telling how much herpes you’ve smeared on my cheek. Rebecca alone you’ve been with what? Six, seven times?” “Uh, four.” He corrected her. He side-armed in a change of topic. “Feeling better? Everyone should be here soon.” “No,” she shrugged. She’d changed after shower into comfortable leggings and a crop top sweatshirt that exposed her midriff and hung off one shoulder, covering the sports bra she wore underneath. Her sweatshirt read: ‘Can’t talk right now. Doing Hot Girl shit.’ Her feet were bare and patted softly on the kitchen tiles. She was in light makeup, reasserting her position as the only girl in Shelly who wore lip gloss while dressed for lounging. “But I’m faking it well enough. Pretty sure this is going to be a complete shitshow, but, it is what it is.” “And if this doesn’t end positively?” he asked while wiping down the island and tossing the paper towel in the trash that was filled with the remnants of the fridge. “Then it doesn’t.” She shrugged and chuckled. “Made it through sixteen years of my life without them, Deej. Pretty sure I’ll be okay for another sixteen or so. I have superpowers, plus I’m gorgeous. This girl will be fine, trust me.” She drew her phone from the pocket on the thigh of her leggings and tapped to open an app. "I'm kinda peckish, think we should order pizza for everyone?" "Are you serious?" Devin looked at his sister in absolute amazement.
    2 points
  12. El. Ellie herself. Teir fa Thunn. The Blight- a term which, like the Dark, seemed capitalized even in casual speech. Site B. The bracelets, and how they, from Coyote- the Trickster, she reminded herself- ended up with the Blackfeet, and thus her grandfather, and then the Fellowship. Not-Cody. The Huntsman. Gods. The Teulu themselves, and the gunmen. There were so many questions, so many coincidences that just... couldn't be all coincidences, right? But now wasn't the time for that. Now, she was just happy no one else had vanished into the darkness, literally or metaphorically. "Oh, we like pockets," Autumn replied, lifting the cup back to Jase's lips as she watched him watching the otherworldly beauty, studying his expression for some sign of what was going on behind those cool green eyes. He seemed... interested? ...But that was all, and not interested interested as far as she could tell, the curious young woman noted with a twinge of what felt suspiciously like relief. "It's just that most of the companies that make clothes don't like giving them to us. And just women, too. Guys can have all the pockets they want, but we're supposed to carry purses," the redhead grumbled contemptuously. "It's supposed to look nicer, or something, but I don't want to spend extra money for a giant pocket on a strap that's just gonna get caught on literally everything I walk past, and I don't care what it looks like. I want pockets in my jeans, real ones, not those stupid fake ones you can't even fit your whole hand in. I just want to be able to carry my chapstick, my wallet, my knife and my phone. That's it. It's not even complicated, and if you're gonna go to the trouble of stitching on a little half-sized pocket for looks, you might as well give me the whole damn thing. Ugh," she exhaled in frustration, the terminal subvocalization less a linguistic part of the rant and more an instinctual expression of annoyance with the subject. "Anyway," Autumn continued, resolutely ignoring the flicker of amusement in her boyfriend's eyes as they shifted to observe the faint bloom of rose coloring her cheeks. "I don't think my jeans would fit you," she observed, her tone conspicuously less heated as the pocket controversy was abandoned for the moment. "Marissa's might, though. Or we could always hit Goodwill before the meeting, or something, because honestly, I have so, so many questions, but I also don't want to be rude." She paused for a moment, half-consciously tucking a lock of Jason's hair behind his ear as she turned back to him. "Speaking of clothes, I called your dad while you were asleep. He's bringing some for you. Probably something to eat, too. I thought you might be a little hungry." Her eyes caught on the neat, pale line that, oddly, seemed to accentuate the angle of his cheekbone, and the tip of her tongue darted out to moisten suddenly dry lips; if they'd been even a couple of minutes later, mundane issues like wanting a glass of water or something for breakfast wouldn't have even mattered. "I'll hang out until I get that coffee you promised." A faint smile tugged briefly at the corners of Autumn's mouth and she leaned forward, pressing a brief kiss to his temple. "Also..." Straightening, the inquisitive teen set the empty cup on the nearby table, her nose crinkling slightly at the sweet, fruity scent that clung to him. "Why do you smell like a Jolly Rancher?"
    2 points
  13. "Hey," Devin smiled big as his eyes fell on Ellie. He seemed genuinely happy to see her and approached the lovely blonde alien. "'Well' is a relative term, everything hurts. We got beat up pretty bad, but we made it. What're you doin here? I was planning on coming to see you after school today. And yeah, totally true, I talked you up, like... a lot. In the bed there, that's Jase. He's not much of a people person, even when he's not going out of his way to ruin my shirts, and I think Cassie and Sean are on the way, so you'll get to meet them soon, too." "Yeeeaaah," Marissa's head cocked slightly to put her brother in her sights. "Deej? The hell?" "Oh!" He suddenly remembered that he hadn't really explained much aside from an introduction. "This is the girl I was telling you about. The Teulu from the void who helped me and gave me the bracelet when I was hunted in the Upside Down Thunder school. She followed me here for sex, duh. I mean look ant me, right?" He gave Ellie a quick appraisal. "Speaking of traveling... uh, I think this is all she has for clothing, Em, you think maybe you could do something with her later? Maybe you and the girls hook her up with more than one outfit? We're not sure how long it's going to take to get her home, so, she's kinda gonna need some sisters to lean on while she's here." "Well, she appears to be the culmination of how 'boring' evolved', but I suppose the Fellowdiva's and I probably have more than a few cast off lying around." Marissa shrugged. "But I'm going to need more than good faith to go on... what's her story? Why is she here?" She looked to Ellie, realizing she was addressing the wrong person. "Why are you here?"
    2 points
  14. "Good luck." The corners of Jason's eyes crinkled slightly at his friend before he turned his gaze on Marissa, his air one of understated contemplation, like he was trying to understand something. Her raspberry lip balm and scented body lotion tickled his keen sense of smell, and the press of her lips on his forehead and the following caress had been warm, completely at odds with her flippant bitchy attitude after the kiss. He couldn't decipher her, he really couldn't. Devin he could understand: the patterns of behaviour were all contiguous with one another. Marissa, though... She spoke like she hated him, but wanted him to talk to her at the Labor Day picnic, and had sought him out at the training session the day before that. She didn't date, and had rebuffed his (admittedly) clumsy and pushy overture... but then she was on Cade's arm the next day. She scolded him for getting hurt like it was attention-seeking behaviour, right after a sign of physical affection. Devin, the young Teulu mused, might be right when he said that Marissa liked him, but didn't know how to approach that. Or Devin might be right when it came to a shorter, more pithy phrase he'd used once or twice: 'Bitches be cray'. Or Devin might be right on both counts. "Where are the two who tried to kill me?" he said after the few moments that had passed while he cogitated on the confusing brunette. "Chick with the crispy claws is somewhere in the ICU." Devin said, watching Jason warily. "I heard the paramedics say she was in shock. The dude you knocked out, though... I dunno where he is. The sheriff drove off with him- Whoa, slow your roll!" he admonished as Jase began to sit up. Marissa laid a hand on Jason's shoulder and pushed him back down with surprising, though gentle, strength. "Dude! After yesterday I just about burst something pulling that bullet out of you. Now Granola's juju might have put you out of danger, but there's plenty of time to rest before you go and commit a war crime or two." "ID said he was a U.S marshal." Jase tried to sit up again, but Marissa's palm on his shoulder was enough to foil his efforts. "He might be able to pull some strings and get-" "He won't." said a calm voice from the doorway. All three teens looked to see a tall blonde girl, who appeared to be roughly their age and was dressed in a simple sundress and sandals, enter the room with a straight-backed casual grace Her sparkling grey eyes regarded the three of them, moving from face to face before settling on the youth in the bed. Her full lips quirked and her eyes narrowed as she considered him, then she looked directly at Devin. "Annette says the would-be killer is in her custody. She will be getting answers from him." she told the teleporter, pointing down at the floor with one finger as she approached him, her gaze traveling down his exposed torso under the blanket before lifting once more to study his face as she came to stand before him. "I am glad to see you are well, Devin." she said softly, a faint smile curving her lips. "Uh, hello?" Marissa said from where she stood by the bed. Autumn, coming back into the room with a jug and a glass for Jase, paused at the door for a second as she took in the scene. Marissa lifted her hand from Jase's shoulder as her bestie returned and stepped away, gesturing to Autumn to go ahead. "Don't mind me, AyRae. Jase was about to go and look to start round two with the assassins - I was just making sure he didn't pop a stitch or whatever. Now..." she said as Autumn, somewhat nonplussed, nevertheless moved to perch on the edge of Jason's bed and pour him some water. "Who the hell is this?" she demanded, looking from her brother to the tall, graceful blonde who was looking at Devin like he was a steak on the grill. "I am called Ellie." The blonde replied, half-turning away from Devin to study Marissa with a discomfortingly direct stare. "And you are Devin's twin, Marissa. It is an honor to meet you." She glanced then at the boy in the bed and the redhead holding the cup so he could drink from it. "It is an honor to meet all of you." she added, returning her gaze to Marissa.
    2 points
  15. The Fellowship... they also seemed tougher, harder than one might expect from the typical youths of Shelly, Montana. Neither of the twins particularly worried, not after the loss of Charlie and the nightmare they battled the night before and... well, just Shelly in general. Marissa offered Autumn a silent nod in acknowledgement and watched as she walked off down the hall to to get his water. Together the twins walked into Jason's hospital room and took their first looks at the recovering telekinetic. Jason's eye followed them as they walked in. Devin rolled his shoulders and pulled his blanket tighter around him as the cold of the hospital offended his delicate Californian comfort level. Marissa tapped out one last text on her phone before sliding her phone into a back pocket on jeans that were baggy. It was the first time he'd ever seen her as just a plain, young, teenage woman without the mask and costume that made up her daily regalia as Shelly's glamourous Ice Queen. He could decide which version was lovelier. "You owe me a shirt," Devin quipped as he leaned against the footboard of Jason's bed and injured young man knew that was the closest the 'bro' was going to get to an 'I'm glad you're safe' sentiment. "Pants are a freebie, I'm throwing those in because they were old." His sister approached Jason, she was almost predatory in her silence without the loud clack of her heels to betray her position. His her typical disapproving look and unimpressed expression she gave him a once over to see that they didn't need amputate anything in order to save anything else, and when satisfied her lips relaxed into a slight smile. She bent over him and pressed her lips to his forehead, a short, gentle kiss and although she wasn't wearing any makeup she wiped it away with her thumb afterwards. "You look like shit," she chastised him, finally. "But I'm glad you're safe." "Aww," Devin taunted her and she offered him a reply of a single digit and unamused expression. "Dude, don't do that shit again, I'm serious." "Yes, I know," Jason smirked sarcastically. "Because this was in my itinerary right next to 'learn Mongolian' and 'order more of the good coffee'. Nice to know you care, though." "Oh, we don't," Marissa was quick to correct him. "But we lost Charlie already and..." she inhaled and exhaled in a rare moment of her shattered composure. As always she was swift to recover and the cracks in her social exterior mended. With those mended cracks, like clockwork, a bitchstorm was in the forecast to blow away any remnant of her feelings. "Well, frankly, I don't have time to be ordering a ton of funerary skirts. It's bad enough your name has to be in every conversation that takes place in this town, do you have to steal someone's funeral thunder too? Christ, give someone else a day for a change, Lord knows he earned it." "Yep, she missed you." Devin smirked. His sister's faced scrunched up as she shot her brother a look that said a number of insulting things. "No. I didn't. And piss off, go get shirt or something." "I am," he smirked. "I'm waiting on that hot nurse to comeback with one of those disposable scrubs tops they have around here. "I think she's a first year learner-doctor-thingie, whatever they call those. Wish me luck."
    2 points
  16. Smell was the first thing to come back. Sensitive nostrils twitched, picking up an astringent antiseptic odor, immediately identifiable as a hospital room, a faint scent of his own blood, along with some manner of cleaning solution on his skin. A puff of warm citrus and juniper. Autumn. The beep of a heart and vitals monitor was next, the distant sounds of people talking, phones ringing, a tannoy. Nearby, someone breathing, the rustle of fabric. Then he became aware of warmth, the sun on his face, the sticky patches where the monitor trodes were attached to his chest, the tickle of hair on his bare arm. Jason opened his eyes, slowly, squinting slightly against the light. The acoustic tiles on the ceiling met his gaze, then he glanced around without moving his head whilst he took stock of how bad he felt. Private room, not the ICU. Good. That meant Autumn and Devin had been able to extract the bullet and treat his wounds. His head felt fine, his thoughts clear. There was a slight itch in his chest and at the side of his head, which he knew from experience was a sign that the accelerated healing Autumn had triggered was still at work. His throat was dry, and he was hungry - another sign of artificially sped-up healing - and he felt a little weak, probably as a result of blood loss. Turning his head, he saw the tumble of fiery copper curls resting against the edge of his mattress, Autumn sitting in a chair with her head leaning against the bed, eyes closed and arms folded across her chest. Silently, the normally cold-eyed genius studied her for a long moment, taking in the glint of pale lashes brushing against her cheek, the dusting of bronze freckles that accented the ivory skin, the tilt of her nose and the soft rose of her lips. Unwilling to break the stillness of this reverie, he merely watched her, green eyes glimmering with warmth as they caught the sunlight streaming through the half-open blinds. = = = = = = The faint hum of an electronic vibration elicited a soft, short grumble of displeasure from the drowsing redhead as she shifted in the chair, pressing her cheek against the lightweight cotton blanket. Just let me sleep a little longer, her dream self mumbled, frowning a little at the uncomfortable contours of her bed and burying herself deeper under the blankets, clutching them possessively to her chest. A few moments later, there was another buzz; she scowled, fumbling about in the ocean of quilts for the alarm that shouldn't be going off yet. It was too early. ...Or too late? Either way, it wasn't time to be up. Either way, school wasn't for... Hmm, she hummed in both worlds, frowning a little as she tried to remember when she was supposed to go to class. It probably wasn't for hours yet, was it? No, because her dad was supposed to take her, and- Her phone vibrated again, still in her hand as she protested the intrusion with a quiet, unhappy groan. She sat up in bed this time, blinking into the patterns of light and shadow that rippled around the edges of the room. What time was it? She was supposed to have coffee with Jase, wasn't she? Or breakfast. Was that today? Movement nearby tugged at her attention, banishing thoughts of time and classes and linearity. A pair of ageless, luminous green eyes regarded her from the darkness, as fathomless and deadly as the draconic creature to whom they belonged, but as Autumn's breath caught in her throat, the gleaming hoard surrounding him flickered into brilliant life with the light of an unseen flame. There was no treasure there, she realized with mute horror. Not gold, not silver, not glittering gems, but brass, and the metallic scent of blood. Buzz. Another notification brought her fully awake, wide-eyed as she jerked upward suddenly. "Jesus fucking-" Autumn froze mid-swear as she caught sight of Jase, head tilted slightly and pale jade eyes alert. "Oh my gosh. You're awake! Are you-" Her voice broke even as her cheeks flushed with the realization that he'd been watching her. But he was awake, awake and alive, and all the ominous remnants of her dream vanished in the wake of that knowledge. "Are you okay?" she breathed, then made a face. "I mean, how do you feel?" Her eyes moved over his features, drinking in the sight of him as a traveler in the desert might an oasis as she held tight to her phone and the arm of the chair to keep herself in place. "I feel good." The reply held a dry rasp that altered the normally quiet notes of Jase's voice to a hoarse whisper. He moistened his lips with his tongue, and swallowed slightly. "Bit weak." His gaze turned contemplative. "Glad to be alive." He shifted his arm, extending his hand towards her palm-up atop the blanket covering him as his eyes held hers. "Are you okay?" he asked softly, studying her posture, noting the tension in her arms and face. "Am now," Autumn nodded, allowing herself a small smile as she reached out, freckled fingers brushing across his palm before lacing slowly through his. The sense of relief at that simple contact, at the mere fact that he really was okay, was nearly overwhelming. She wanted to throw her arms around him, cover his face in kisses and hold him until the sterile chill of the hospital disappeared, but awareness of the fact that it was a hospital, and he was recovering from being very-nearly-dead, restrained her enthusiasm. At least for the moment. "Do you want me to get you some water, or something? Are you thirsty?" He nodded, the edges of his eyes crinkling in a smile as Autumn gave his hand a gentle squeeze then stood, extricating herself from the chair and looking around the room. It didn't look like anyone had brought any water or cups yet, which considering the somewhat hectic nature of the last half-hour or so was understandable. "I'll be right back." she promised the youth in the bed, before turning and slipping out of the room, leaving the door ajar behind her as she went. In the waiting area beyond, her dad sat a few seats away from the door, looking somewhat uncomfortable. Opposite him, against the other wall of the small private waiting area, Devin lounged in his seat with the blanket thrown idly around his shoulders, casually alternating between watching his phone and watching his twin. Marissa was pacing a few feet away from her brother, her impatience evident in her stance and stride as she tapped at her phone's touchscreen intently. All three glanced at Autumn as she exited the room. "He's awake." she announced quietly, her relief still obvious on her features. "He's fine." the redhead said then, as much to hear herself say it as to reassure those waiting. Moving past them and up the corridor she added "I'm going to get him some water." As she headed the ten or so feet towards the nursing station, she didn't fail to notice the two men wearing hospital security uniforms that were guarding this lobby. They seemed tougher, harder than one might otherwise expect from rentacops, and she was sure she recognised them as two of the soldiers who'd accompanied her and Cassie with Taggart that fateful day - had it only been last Tuesday?! One week ago? Putting that from her mind, and somewhat reassured that the teens and her dad weren't alone here, Autumn went to get the water.
    2 points
  17. Laurie padded silently downstairs on fuzzy bunny slippered feet, summoned by the smell of banana chaffles, bacon, and coffee after her morning shower. She'd slept fitfully, her eyes still felt a bit grainy, but feeling anxious and wired, she'd gotten up early to get ready for school and morning football practice. She might just be the kicker, but the coached still insisted for fairness sake. She wasn't even sure she could bring herself to go to school today after last night. She might have gotten up early, but not as early as her brother it seemed. She found him puttering stiffly around the kitchen, nibbling on a quarter of bacon-laden, three-cheese banana chaffle grilled cheese, and sipping from a big mug of coffee. Judging by how much was left in the pot, it was far from his first. His eyes were sunken and ringed by dark bags. Collecting her own life saving mug of hot brown morning potion, Laurie glanced around the kitchen. Sean must've made enough food to feed at least half again as many as lived in the house. The waffle-maker dinged and Sean fished out the pair of perfectly browned chaffles, adding them to the stack kept warm in the oven, along with the other half of the grilled cheese and a pan of bacon. She cocked her head, then looked down. She could hear the soft whir and thump of the dryer in the basement. Sean had done at least one load of laundry. He'd been busy. Laurie sat down at the kitchen table, inhaling the rich nectar of life before savoring her first sip of coffee in the morning. There were place settings already set out for her and their parents. Sean's plate held a few crumbs and dabs of cheese from the other quarter of chaffle grilled cheese he'd eaten, along with a sliced apple and sectioned orange. "You sleep at all?" she asked, her voice low in the house, more from habit than necessity. When she'd gone to take her shower, she'd heard mom and dad still talking. She was pretty sure they hadn't gone to sleep at all. "Some," Sean said, and Laurie took it to mean barely. He took the other half of the grilled cheese he'd made out of the oven, showing it to his sister balanced on a spatula and arching a questioning brow. He slid it onto her plate, scrunching up his nose as she began drowning it in maple syrup. Syrup on waffles, sure, but on a grilled cheese? Ugh, especially when he already put a bit in the batter. And she ate it with a knife and fork! "Philistine. You want another? Or just more chaffles? Eggs?" "'Nosher pwease!" Laurie said around a mouthful, point at her plate with her knife. "We've got two-a-day practice." Sean nodded, finished off his quarter of grilled cheese, took another sip of coffee, then fished out two more chaffles, buttered them, then started on preparing his sister a full banana chaffle grilled cheese sandwich. Grating some more sharp cheddar, monterey jack, and provolone, trying to lose himself in the mundane activity, as he'd been since the wee hours of the morning. He glanced over at his phone sitting on the counter. 26 sales for ReGenesis, mostly European. He hadn't thought about localizing the game yet. Honestly, he hadn't expected to be done before graduation, really. It would take some research, but afterwords, tasking a semi-autonomous program, he should be able to get it done. For some languages anyway. Could talk to Jase about-- "Mom talked to dad and me," Laurie commented. Sean grunted. He knuckled his back, stretching. He'd gotten off lighter than most of his friends, and Autumn's help notwithstanding, he was still sore, if not at bad as before his scant bit of troubled sleep. He really did need to get in better shape. Some at least, last night proved that. All he'd really done was run, fall down, and dive out of the way. Jase's teasing/not-teasing aside, he wasn't fat - except where most girls wouldn't mind some extra, curvy padding. What he was, was lacking muscle tone and even meager athleticism. Teagan had tried a few years ago, but she'd been a bitch about it, pushing him hard and he'd resisted through sheer contrariness. Jase or Cade wouldn't judge him if he asked for help, Jase would even approved in his understated way, but what worked for them wouldn't really work for him and seeing the disparity would just make him feel disheartened. And his pride wouldn't let him ask his younger sister for help, despite her getting taller, and more athletic as she practiced for the football team. YouTube maybe, or there might be someone else he could ask for help... "I'm really sorry 'bout Charlie, Sean." "I don't want to talk about it," Sean muttered. He reclaimed his sister's plate, flipping the grilled cheese onto it, then slid the plate towards her as he sat down across from her at the kitchen table. He stared blankly down at his mug of coffee, spinning it in his hands as Laurie profaned the chaffle sandwich with syrup. If Charlie wasn't his best friend, he'd still be a good one. A player in his games since the beginning. His loss hurt. That they hadn't been able to do anything to stop it before it was too late hurt even more. But what hurt the most was the shame he felt that he wasn't the one who'd been killed, been torn to pieces, the sense of relief he was still alive. Which seemed perverse, since he was the one who's life was ticking away faster than anyone else's. Into the leaden silence, Carolyn and Jack joined their children. Sean went to get up, to make his parents breakfast, but his father clapped him on a slender shoulder, gently, but firmly, forcing him back into his seat. "Stay seated, Sean. Finish your breakfast. You've done enough, we'll take care of the rest." Carolyn went to the coffee pot, pouring a cup for her husband and for herself, then started brewing a new pot. Jack took over breakfast duties, murmuring with his wife, starting to cook some eggs for the both of them as Carolyn started putting things away and cleaning dishes. Despite seeming having not slept at all, only a bit of redness about their eyes, the elder Cassidys appeared to be less affected by lack of sleep than their children. Over her mug of coffee, Carolyn watched her children. Laurie shoveled food in her mouth the way Teagan had when she'd had one of her bigger growth spurts and had really started working out, staring at her brother almost angrily. Sean looked sullen and resigned, absently eating apple and orange slices, glancing from his near empty plate to his phone and back. "I think you two should stay home today," Carolyn suggested. "Missing one day so early in the year, and considering yesterday and Cha - and what happened, I'm sure everyone will understand." "No!" the siblings said in sharp unison. Laurie hadn't been sure at first, but as soon as her mother suggested it, it was the last thing she wanted to do. "Coach has us on two-a-day practice this week and I'm not going to let them say the girl can't keep up!" "I... just need something... normal," Sean said over his sister. He gave a bark of bitter laughter. "Whatever 'normal' means now. If I stay home, I'm just going to seethe and wallow and think too much 'bout last night. I don't need - want - that." Their mother gave them a wan smile. "If that's what you want, kids. But if you change your mind, give me a call, and I'll authorize you guys leaving early." She wasn't under any delusions that both of them had never skipped a class before, but she wanted to cover her bases. And if it let her know where her kids were, all the better. After last night, she and Jack had really considered insisting on Sean and Laurie having tracking apps on their phones, but it was a battle they knew they wouldn't win. With what Sean could do, and even before his... abilities, they couldn't have gotten away with it anyway. "We won't," Sean and Laurie claimed again in unusual synchronicity. Carolyn sighed. Jack grunted. Talk about the kitchen turned to feigned normalcy, asking about football practice, the launch of Sean's new game - Carolyn had helped her son set up the business for his indy game studio Intersectional Interactive when he had developed Annwn - and what they wanted for supper. The meeting tonight and anything smacking of it was studiously, if obviously, avoided. Sean took his load of laundry from the dryer and brought it back to The Barn, shrugging into his freshly cleaned hoodie with the tree on it, tucking the loaner from Autumn under his arm. Laurie got her gym back and practice uniform and the siblings met up at Sean's SUV, who them drove them to school. A bit of the feigned normalcy turned real as Laurie reached for the radio, her other hand slapping Sean's away when he went to stop her. He sat back, flashing her a taunting smirk, as with a thought, he simply took control. His car, his rules, but it never stopped Laurie from trying to claim dominion over the radio. She huffed and folded her arms as Sean synched his phone to the SUV, listening to a playthrough of his game that was already streaming on Twitch. The Twitch Streamer... wasn't good, even Sean admitted that despite earnestly wanting to hear the early reactions to his game. It didn't help that the Streamer had a really thick accent, Scandinavian, Swedish maybe? 29 units sold. Laurie bolted out of the Grand Cherokee almost before it came to a complete stop, running for the field to join Cade and the rest of the football team, her gymbag bouncing on her shoulder. Sean followed more slowly, watching and listening to the Twitch Stream, hoping a more talented Streamer would start streaming ReGenesis in the next few days. Not wanting to go inside yet, Sean took a seat at the far end of the bleachers at the top, letting the fading chill of morning wash over him. Shelly High might be surprisingly well funded for a small rural town in Montana, but it still had shit coffee. Sean took a pull from the thermos he'd brought from home. Another day. Still alive.
    2 points
  18. "Dunno... why dey sho'... me." Jase's voice was slurring, his pronunciation sloppy - a worrying contrast to his usual precise, crystal clear diction. The light behind his eyes, usually fiercely bright and intense, guttered like a match flame in a high wind as his half-lidded gaze tried to focus on Devin. "Jus'... walk up an'... drew gun. N'er see 'em... before." "You just got one of them faces, Jaybee." Devin said chattily, trying to keep the mind behind the dimming eyes engaged as he wrapped a terrycloth turban around Jason's head, staunching as much of the bleeding as he could. The pain made Jason draw in breath in a hiss, momentarily jolting his thoughts into focus. "ID says... marshals." Jase tried to tap the wallet on his lap, but his hand wasn't obeying instructions, instead just twitching and flopping. "Used cop light. Pulled me over." His voice started weakening further, his eyelids slipping lower. "Be... careful." "I will. Yeah. Being careful is top of my list." Devin replied almost manically. "Right after 'living long and prospering', so you don't need to tell me to do that." He busied himself ripping up another section of towel to put as a compress over the chest wound, then realised there'd been no answer to his repartee. He swore and looked up. "Jaybee?" Jason's eyes slipped shut, as the sound of a Range Rover drew nearer...
    2 points
  19. "No, it's fine, I get it," Marissa smiled. "Sorry, I'm kina coming down from whatever we lived through and I could probably talk your ear off. That's not a bad idea, though. I'd love to help you out. God, I'm pretty sure I was born in heels, so this will be a snap. Just text me and I'll come by," her face winced every time she sipped the coffee, announcing that it was offensive to her palate. "Okay, this is some gross coffee." The two laughed for a moment, "Right?" Autumn snickered. "I didn't want to say anything, it's free, I would've felt bad, but... wow." "Ugh," she waved off Autumn's attempt at politeness. "Don't worry, I'll say it if you don't. I'll be me so you don't have to," she smirked. "Besides, I need to see this dress of yours so I can select a makeup palette for you. Something light so as to not hide those beautiful freckles of yours but still make your eyes pop. Trust me, with my help, Jason's heart is going to get up to at least six, maybe seven beats per minute, easily." She smirked, poking fun at Autumn's stoic boyfriend. "I uh, guess we should head back, and... thanks." Without warning Marissa wrapped her arms around Autumn and held her tightly before finally letting her go. "Friends are nice, I like this." Marissa chuckled. The redhead at her side scoffed bemusedly. "Eh, it's new to you. The novelty will fade in a few weeks." "That's fine, just as long as you remember that I'm in charge," her bestie said in a mirthful tone. "Oh no." Autumn chuckled. "No, no, no." "Yup, totally am. I make the rules." They stepped into the hallway and made their way back to the infirmary, both hearts a little lighter than they were a moment ago.
    2 points
  20. "That's a good reason to be happy, yeah," the redhead replied slowly, unsure if this actually, genuinely qualified as not being in bitch mode. Maybe rather than an on/off switch, bitchiness was more like a volume knob; they were just so used to Marissa being on the higher end of the scale that when she did ease up a bit, a level of awfulness that would barely be tolerated from anyone else felt like a welcome shift toward humanity with her. "Y'know, Marissa," she began, "she was probably just freaked out and worried, so maybe that wasn't really nece-" Dark brown eyes framed in long black lashes blinked back at her, uncomprehending, and Autumn sighed. Baby steps. "Never mind. Anyway, so..." 'So,' what, Autumn? Where are you planning on going with this? Are you gonna talk about her crazy mom? About her overdose? About whether or not Cody could've been saved? About whether you think she's going to end up like him? Taking a sip of day-old coffee, Autumn made a face. If dealing with Jason Bannon, she decided, was like a perpetual obstacle course that tested resolve and mental agility, interacting with Marissa was like trying to navigate a hedge maze littered with land mines, pit traps, and ninja assassins that really just tested your fortitude and sanity. No... She said she's in a good mood, so... Maybe something she enjoys? Possibly? "So, listen." The soles of her boots squeaked very softly on the gleaming floor as Autumn shifted her weight from one foot to the other. "Everything's kind of crazy right now, and I don't know what to ask or talk about first, but as far as all of-" she lifted her free hand, comparatively clean owing to the gloves she'd worn, to indicate the girls and their general surroundings- "this is concerned, everybody's probably gonna need time to process. And unless you want me to go tell your mom how old she looks, or something- which I will totally do, because it's not like your parents can ground me for telling them they suck- all I can do for you there is just, listen, I guess. Which is also fine, but this is probably not the best place for that conversation, y'know? So." She took another long drink of the bitter, caffeinated liquid and, shuddering, poured in another packet of creamer, swirling the cup around to mix it. After another experimental sip, she nodded and continued. "I was wondering if you'd be willing to help me with something. Nothing weird!" she added hastily, blue eyes widening. "Just... So, I have this dress, for Homecoming, and I really like it, and my mom bought me some shoes to go with it. And, you know, they're great and all, but, um. I-" "She bought you heels, didn't she?" the canny brunette interjected, eyeing her bestie shrewdly. It was the only logical reason someone like Autumn would've mentioned shoes, since her entire footwear collection seemed to consist of hiking boots and old Converse sneakers. Talk about a stereotype... Marissa wouldn't be the least bit surprised if she shuffled around the house in those stoner sandals, Birkenflops, or whatever they were called. "Yeah. And-" The red-haired young vitakinetic could feel the blood rushing to her cheeks- her own this time, thankfully- as her face grew warmer under Mari's scrutiny. "And you've never worn them a day in your life, have you?" "Obviously," her dark eyes seemed to say. "I mean, kind of?" Autumn hedged. "Not these specific ones, which are..." She glanced down at Marissa's ruined hiking heels. "Well, for me they're kind of on the tall side. But I don't wanna break an ankle or anything at the dance, and you wear them all day, so I thought maybe you'd help me out? Y'know, teach me your secrets, or something? And that would give us chances to talk about the other stuff, too."
    2 points
  21. Marissa shrugged, cup already in hand as she surveyed her options for second rate coffee. One of the nurses, for some reason just couldn't keep her eyes off them as they browsed. "It is what it is," she said glumly, holding her blanket to cover herself as she decided. "And thank you. You know, for saying you're my friend. I'm horrible at it, I know, but aside from my brother I've never really had real connections with people, sooo..." "It's like, look at my mom, right? Tell me I'm not like her, you totally can't right? I know I'm horrible and changing isn't as easy as simply saying it, it's like... cardio for inner peace: you're intentions are to change, but no one ahs time for an hour on the karma bike five or more days a week, it's stressful and tiring and we all have better things to do. Full disclosure, I didn't join up with you guys to save the world or make friends, I saw Cody... or, rather what he'd become, by 'saw' I mean in the word-of-mouth sense." She filled her cup with the magic brain-zoom fluid and couldn't help but notice the nurse still staring at them, a hefty, angry looking woman that looked like she should be instructing German boot-camp not helping with the wellbeing of people. "His choices, his hate, his avarice... those made him into that thing and all I could think was: we have no idea how he got that way. Was he offered a deal and took it or was his name added to the dotted line slowly and methodically over time as he consciously allowed himself to be cruel and depraved and... Autumn, a part of me wonders how many letters of my name I'm up to on the dotted line... I don't want to end up like that." "So... I escape. Party a little bit, meet up with guys in Great Falls. Sometimes I just do it at home and once I did it too hard and now everyone knows," she sighed and chortled morosely. "Because my mom is hell bent on making sure she ruins anyone's life who is having a better time, prettier, or just plain enjoying themselves because she's fucking miserable. I still haven't told her my card got punched, of my god she is going to lose her mind." Finally she rolled her eyes and sighed and looked to old nurse and confronted her. "What?" The nurses didn't say anything and just averted her eyes for a moment, going back to some paperwork on a clipboard. Marissa whispered. "Christ, some people." She sipped her coffee, smiling at her 'bestie'. "This is nice." she laughed. "Talking. Maybe it's the endorphins and adrenaline wearing off, but-," the blood soaked teen again noticed the nurse glaring and Marissa pursed her lips and glared back. "Yes, lady, that right, take it in. We're soaked in blood and covered in bandages the same way unfulfillment and poor life decisions cling to you like a cloud of misspent youth and lifetime of regret." Cup to her lips Autumn's eyes couldn't get much wider as they darted back forth while her friend made a scene. "So go deliver your towels or bedpans or whatever they trust you to handle Kronk, and don't worry about what's going on over here." Annoyed, but defeated, the nurse simply shook her head and walked off. With a scoff, the Queen of Mean sipped her coffee again. "I swear, people are so rude. Anyway, like I was saying, maybe it's those wearing off, but it feels good to just not be in bitch mode, y'know? Despite my mom, I'm pretty relaxed right now. Happy to be alive, I guess."
    2 points
  22. Cassandra's mom was a bit late to the party, and her manner of entry showed it. Almost running, checking each room number frantically. Even passing the spot that Marissa and Autumn were seated, she barely seemed to register them there...then stopped looked back. Recognition lit up, from the picnic. The redhead Cassie had been talking to. "You're..." Teresa paused in mid-phrase and shook her head, skipping to the important part. "Is she all right?" Autumn nodded, but before she had even started trying to put an answer to words, Marissa stepped in smoothly. "She's fine, Mrs Allen. We all are." Teresa nodded at that distractedly, then sagged a little and put a hand to her forehead. "She said that on the phone, I just...it would be just like her to play it down. I...thanks. Both of you. Not just for now but, you know. Then. Keeping her safe." This time it was Autumn that spoke first. "She kept us safe," she corrected. Her voice wasn't as loud and clear as Marissa's, but she said it firmly. "She was the one who knew what to do, and told us how to do it." Cassie's mom absorbed that, and had to blink away tears that weren't quite shed. There were so many words to say that she couldn't say anything. In the end Teresa just gestured at the door and said, "That's...I'm glad you were there for each other. I just have to..." The two girls said their goodbyes and Teresa continued down the hall until finding and letting herself into the room. Immediately there was tension in the air. Too many people, too little space. For a second Teresa just froze, unsure how to fit into this...then Cassandra leaned out and waved at her. Here was something she could understand instinctively! They stood off to one side a bit, as much as the room allowed, just hugging. When her mother started fussing at the bandage around her arm, Cassie sighed and explained it was just some kind of rash or irritation. She spared Teresa the detailed recounting, for the time being. One nightmare at a time. After a few minutes of that, Cassandra's mom turned to look at the other parents and said, "Hi everyone. I'm Teresa Allen, Cassandra's mother. I'm a librarian at the main branch. This is all...I still don't know what to make of any of it, but I think we have a lot to be proud of right now." Her arm rested around Cassandra's shoulder, and squeezed her.
    2 points
  23. [Intro music plays] JH: Welcome back, everyone, to the next of our E! exclusive cast interviews! I am Julia Hernandez, and this afternoon, we managed to get a hold of the latest addition to Weirder Stuff's main cast. She comes from France, she's adorable, some of the fans even started calling her the [airquote] Pocket Powerhouse [airquote]. Let me introduce you to Catherine 'Kat' Barras! KB: [from offstage] Is this when I'm supposed to go on stage and say hi- oh. OH! Mic's on... Here we go! [as she arrives on stage, dressed in skinny jeans, a pink Paul Smith shirt and a pair of black knee-high boots] Hi everyone! [looks at the cameras and raises a hand to her chest] Boy! I'm barely starting to get used to these! [giggles] Hi Julia! How are you doing? JH: [chuckles] I'm doing great, thank you! How about you? KB: [sits down and winces comically] I'm nervous. I've never done these before! Thanks for having me, by the way. I'm a big fan, I've watched the show from the start and, oh, that epic battle in the last episode, would never, ever, have seen it coming! [laughs] JH: [laughs] Right! I have been told your first appearance on screen is in Weider Stuff. Is that your first role? KB: Yes. At first, I had an internship with the team, pulled some strings back in France so I could get my free trip to the States, and one day they told me to put the coffee down, dragged me to the makeup artist and stuffed a script into my hands. Aaaaand, it worked. I didn't really see myself as an actor, but, not to throw flowers at myself or anything, [grins] I apparently do a decent job. My first scene never made it to the screen, but it is probably what convinced the producers to offer me a contract. JH: Really? What happened in that scene? KB: [zips lips and winks] Can't say, I kind of forgot everything about it. Wait for the deleted scenes to be leaked or something. JH: [smiles] Fine, I'll have to be patient then. You never really saw yourself as an actor, you say, but what exactly did you see yourself as, before [motions vaguely] Weirder Stuff happened? KB: Originally, I wanted to be a comedian. I did work on some jokes back in France, and exhibitionned myself to immense crowds of, like, fourty people? To be honest, acting for a screen really feels different. The good - or bad - part, I never know, of a live crowd, is that I get to see the people's reactions and work with them. Right now, when I'm on stage, I never know if the fans will like what I do until the episode is out and people start lighting up gasoline all over social media. It's kind of scary. [pauses] But totally worth it, don't get me wrong! It's like really wanting for some ice-cream, not knowing if you'll get some, and finally getting ice-cream. An exciting... sort of... scary. JH: An interesting comparison, to say the least. KB: [nods] I really like ice-cream. JH: [chuckles] Speaking of gasoline on social media, your character is the only openly bisexual character on show, and is starting to grow as an icon in some circles, how are you feeling about that? KB: Oh, that's one tricky question. [ponders] I've never really got into these kinds of conversation. All I can say is that the character is almost a tailor-made fit for me - I can't thank the writers enough for that, they're doing a great job - and, if you're saying I'm inspiring people through the way I act Kat, the teenage girl, well, I'm flattered. Really. And yes, I'm bisexual. [mimics crowd ovation] Go crazy, Internet. JH: Another sensitive topic about your character is ADHD. In the show, Kat suffers from undiagnosed ADHD and it's been made quite apparent on screen. How important is this part of the character to you? KB: Oh, very. My Dad has ADHD - my real Dad, not Josh, who is adorable by the way. Such a nice guy. So yeah, I grew up with one, and sort of spreading awareness about it is important to me. There's a lot of people out there with some minor Attention Deficits, who don't know they have these and don't know how to deal with it, and I know it can be real hard for some. My Dad only got diagnosed when I was thirteen. That's seven years ago! And understanding what it was, and ways to live through, or with it, actually helped him and improved his, our life! At first, Kat wasn't supposed to have ADHD, and the subject came up during a chat with the writers, and they loved the idea! JH: It really hits home to you. KB: It does! [blows kiss at the camera] Love you, Dad! JH: [nods] Alright, onto the less serious, but as important part. Kat and Courtney, Kat and Sean, Kat and Jase question mark, what's happening? The fans deserve to know! KB: [winces] I don't knoooooow what's happening either. Okay, okay, okay. We can talk about what has already happened. Uh, last first, Kat and Jase, nothing is happening so far, right? All we've seen is a strange girl in a strange town getting red-cheeked whenever she makes eye-contact with the local predator. Maybe she has a crush on him, maybe she hasn't. I'm... not... saying nothing will happen at all, they're teens, but... Gah! Nothing is written in stone for teens. Now, Kat and Sean, Kat and Courtney, well, she obviously likes both, spends a lot of time with Sean but would? like to spend some more with Courtney - and we all saw why, but Courtney and Sean sort of hate each other, so there is this sort of love-hate triangle? I don't really know how to describe that. But yeah, definitely a relationship I'm happy to explore because it is so interesting to develop. Sean and Courtney are amazing actors and I'm really glad to be there with them. JH: What about the rest of the teens? KB: Oh, everyone's been so nice to me since I arrived. Sometimes I feel like I'm the lost puppy of the crew... which would not be that far from the truth, to be fair. They always pick me up when I'm feeling down. These guys know how to relax after a few thousands of takes. I love every single one of them as equally as the others, only some more equally than others. [chuckles] Recently there's been this running joke about squirrels... JH: Does it have anything to do with Cade's little friends? KB. Yes! They're so cute! It's part of my routine now, they're the firsts I visit every morning. And every now and then, between takes, Devin or Autumn stalks up to me and yells "SQUIRREL!" [laughs] while pointing at the ceiling, and every single time, they make me look. [shakes her head] JH: [laughs] It does sound like they adopted you! Well, I believe we're running out of time, fan questions will have to wait for next round. Thank you for being here, Kat, it's been very nice to finally meet you! KB: [a wide grin full of dimples] Yes! It's been very fun, sign me up for round two! [waves to the cameras] Bye bye! JH: This was our E! exclusive cast interview for Weirder Stuff, with Catherine Barras. Thank you for watching, and see you next week! [Screen blurs, outro music plays as they both continue their conversation while heading offstage]
    2 points
  24. [Intro music plays] Julia Hernandez: Hey there, everyone! I'm Julia Hernandez and this is another episode of Beyond Weirder Stuff. Tonight, we have one of the more experienced actors among the young and talented cast visiting us, Sean Cassidy. [gestures off stage] Sean Cassidy: [sashays on stage in a pair of Christian Louboutin platform sandals and a revealing, asymmetric Alexander Vauthier dress.] Thank you, Julia for having me on the show. [waves to the audience and blows them a kiss, before sitting down and crossing her legs] But experienced? You wound me. [holds a hand to her chest, then laughs] I'm only twenty-six. JH: And by Hollywood standards, you have aged so gracefully [both laugh]. I must say, we haven't seen Sean dressed anything like this on Weirder Stuff. You look absolutely stunning. SC: Not yet [smirks]. Thanks. It's nice to glam up after a day of shooting, especially when your wardrobe on set is usually jeans and hoodies. JH: Not yet? Are you hinting at something? SC: [winks at camera] Not a thing. I don't have Autumn's shirt. But who knows? Marissa could end up a very bad, or a certain manner of good, influence on certain members of the Fellowship. If you want to find out, stay tuned for season two. JH: With the spectacular success of season one, I don't think anyone on the show has to worry about losing any viewers to a sophomore season slump. But speaking of success, your way onto Weirder Stuff was hardly a straight line. SC: You can say that again. [sighs and rolls eyes] JH: You way onto Weirder-- [Sean laughs, Julia grins], but seriously, the character you are playing isn't who you were expecting to play, was it? How did you get involved with Weirder Stuff. SC: You can thank Eric [Kripke] for that. I had done a three episode arc on Supernatural, and in apology for killing me off in a spectacularly gory fashion – Thanks Eric, I didn't get enough of that on Living Dead Girls three-through-six [waves at camera] – when development started at on WS, he sent me a synopsis of the show and the script for the pilot. JH: And what did you think of it? SC: [purses her lips] I was... dubious at best. [shakes her head, then waves a dismissive hand] No, I thought Eric had lost his damn mind. It was preposterous. Ludicrous, even. I could handle ludicrous - I'd been in the film adaptation of Lollipop Chainsaw - but Weirder Stuff felt like it was trying to be too many things at once. They tried to make Lollipop Chainsaw into a series, but the pilot didn't get picked up - which was too bad, it was a lot of fun. But looking at WS, all I could see was it going down the same way, a pilot never seen, buried forever and forgotten. JH: [leans forward, reaching a hand towards Sean] I for one, would love to see that pilot for a Lollipop Chainsaw series. It might not have done well in theaters, it did turn into a bit of the cult classic. Unapologetic, ridiculous fun you don't see often anymore. SC: [smiles wryly] If you bring the wine, I'll see what I can do. Private viewing only. [rolls wrist] Rights and all that. JH: I'm going to hold you to that. Back to WS, clearly, you changed your mind about it. How did that go about? SC: Persistence [holds up a restraining]. Not mine, Eric's. He talked a big game, and I'll admit, his enthusiasm was infectious. Eventually. More convincing, it was going to be on HBO and the budget was... impressive. That was part of the problem with Lollipop Chainsaw, the budget, and it got smaller when Jim [James Gunn] left for Marvel. Jim gave me the part of Bereet, at least, so i stayed my hand at burning him in effigy. Eric swore he wasn't going anywhere. [shrugs a bare shoulder] He convinced me. And it was better than dying again in Living Dead Girls seven. They wanted the zombies to be the heroes this time! [shudders]. JH: Now, now, who knows, they might make it work. [Sean mock glares] Alright, probably not. Now, you agreed to audition for the show. What part did you audition for? SC: First? It was Marissa's. It went... [hesitates, chews on an underlip, waggles a hand] okay. Could have been better, but, not naming any names, the guy Joss [Whedon] and Eric paired me up with? No chemistry. Anti-chemistry. Christensen, Portman in Star Wars level of chemistry. JH: Ouch. A subject still touchy to many Star Wars fan. SC: Devin is the big Star Wars fan. As an actress, those scenes just hurt. The writing didn't help. The writing on WS, however does. Anyway, after Marissa and Devin locked down their audition, I tried out for Courtney. That went better, and Courtney and I where neck and neck for the part. Ultimately, she got it - not going to lie, I was bitter for a while. I thought the typecasting would give me the edge, but... [shrugs] Joss suggested Max, but such a bit part was a considerable let down when I thought I was going to be a regular on what might be the next HBO smash hit. JH: And then you were offered the role of the intersexed computer genius... which didn't come without controversy. SC: [snorts in exasperation] Largely contrived controversy. It wasn't like the crew didn't try to cast someone who had... more in common with the character, say. But genderfluid, intersexed, and transgendered, aren't interchangeable, and two of the three are in very short supply in the industry, and the other is still a niche category. There was one transgendered actress who tried for the part. Young and lovely, but it was her first audition for a lead role and, well, it was very evident. JH: That's too bad. Everyone has to start somewhere. SC: They do, but not in a starring role when you've practically just started. She just needs more experience, and I hope the rejection doesn't discourage her. I know exactly how she feels. You need a tough skin in this industry. Anyway, after her, then put out feelers to more established actors. Ruby Rose was a bit older than they were looking for, but she'd been in movies and was asking too much. While in negotiations, she ended up signing on to play Batwoman. Hope that goes well for her. Lachlan Watson is killing it on Sabrina. Brigette Lundy-Paine was still signed to Atypical. Bex Taylor-Klause passed for other projects they were working on. JH: So, it wasn't that they didn't try and be respectful of the LGTBQIA community - SC: - as they were getting to desperate to cast someone and get the production rolling. Eric saw a short film I was in, based of a short story called Changeling, and thought I could pull the part off. There's still pushback about a straight, cisgender woman playing the part, but my social media accounts aren't total dumpster fires anymore, and I've being given a chance with the role, if cautiously and skeptically. JH: Sean has been an unusual and unconventional delight on the show. How do you prepare for the role, and do you share anything in common with the character you are portraying? SC: For the role? I've attended a fair number of genre conventions, and I assembled quirks and mannerisms I noticed that were common among the attendees. And of course, the writers helped immensely. Also, some deep dives on certain Readit threads and spoken with individuals in the community. I've learned a lot. Especially when to shut my mouth. [mouth firms into a tight line, fingers drum on the arm of the sofa for a ten count] As for what I have in common with the character? Very little in truth. All the math and computer stuff? I memorize that and try to regurgitate it with authority. I'm handy with my phone and filters, for InstaSnap and Chirper, but that's about it. [Julia opens her mouth to object] Yes, okay, as others have mentioned on the show, I've - we've gotten into RPGs. They didn't mention how much alcohol helped at the start. And yes, I've studied the rules and have far more books than I ever expected I would. I don't want to get busted not knowing the answer to a technical question at ComiCon. I saw that episode of the Simpsons, and it totally happens. I'll admit, I might have gotten into it earlier if I'd known Joe Manganiello was a big D&D nerd when I was on True Blood. [whispers conspiratorily] Don't tell the others, but while I know the rules, I barely use them. The game has helped me a great deal with my improvisational skills, though. I prefer being prepared on set, and any improvisation to be organized improvisation. Devin, and Cassandra to a lesser extent, love ad-libbing or just trying to make their co-stars crack. [frowns with mock menace] I made a good target. And the more I protested, the better one I made. Trying to herd the others like cats during a table-top session helped immensely with making myself less of a target for their antics. JH: Less of a target? SC: Just less, yes, and better with going along with it. I still don't like it when they spring surprises on me, though [waggles a finger]. And now, more often, they'll talk with me before the scene, to warn me what they have in mind. [smiles wryly] But not always. Seriously though, it has been great on set. Mostly. There's bound to be ruffled feathers when you are around the same people for so much time each day. JH: That seems to be the general consensus with the rest of the cast. [smiles, holds up a tablet] Do you have time for some questions from Chirper and Readit? SC: If I said no, how angry do you think they would be? [Laughs, beckons with her fingers] Fire away. JH: Lemongeddon asks, 'Where we you born, and where have you lived?' SC: [arches a brow] Didn't I answer this on my AMA? Okay, while I grew up in one of the less nice suburbs of Toronto, I was actually born in Puerto Rico. Dual-Citizenship for the win. I might have been the whitest girl on the island, but I'm fluent in Spanish - my French is barely passable though. We moved when I was five. Six? When I got serious about acting, I moved to Vancouver, then LA. I'll admit, the general silence of Shelby freaked me out at first, but it's growing on me. I'm considering buying a getaway here. JH: That's a recurring sentiment among the cast, I've found. SC: Spend an extended time here, and you'll see why. Might be missing some amenities, but the views are to die for, and it hasn't been inundated by tourists and celebrities like Jackson Hole, jacking up prices and ruining the place for the locals. JH: I'll keep that in mind, next time I feel the need to get back to nature, but not too close. Next, from 80085, 'As anyone can see from your InstaSnap and SuperFans, you love fashion and dressing up. What do you miss most, dressing so differently on WS?' Oof, that's a good one. SC: [instantly, kicking up a foot] Heels, no contest. I might be envious of what Marissa and Courtney get to wear - even if half of it wouldn't work for me - but it's heels I miss. On all these cops show and doctor shows, most of the women are still wearing heels and it makes absolutely no sense, but I totally get it. Add to that, I don't know what they feed the people in Montana, but seems there isn't a short extra in sight, and even the regular cast skews taller than average. I was inordinately happy to have Kat join the cast. Yes, definitely heels are what I miss most. JH: I feel you girl. They'll have to pry my Manolo Blahnik's from my cold, dead hands. Hmm, this one could be interesting, but ugh on the name. IckySpyder asks, 'What's a talent or skill nobody would expect you have?' SC: Hmm. I'm, or at least believe I am, a pretty decent baker. Which Sean on the show shares with me, not the other way around. But I shared that on my AMA, which lead to a long tangent on r/Baking. Let me think, something less known... [sighs in apparent defeat] This isn't going to help with making not look like the old lady on set, but I love knitting and quilting. JH: Really? That... It's certainly unexpected. There's nothing on your InstaSnap about it. SC: It's a hobby I picked up early when I started acting. Sometimes, there's a lot of waiting, especially as an extra, and when you are in costume and make-up, often, you can't go anywhere, so I took it up to pass the time. Thought I'd get frustrated with it, ended up really liking it, something just for me, that I shared with at my whim. Usually made things for cast members that I like, gifting them at the wrap parties. [pauses] I may have made a mistake though. JH: How so? Dish the deets! SC: Well, Devin was being, well, Devin between takes. I threatened to stab him with one of my needles and when the stick didn't work, I offered the carrot. He wanted a hat like Jayne's. From Firefly? So I made him one. And he loved it. I promise you, you'll see it on the blooper reel. I'm pretty sure he hasn't managed to sneak it on camera- JH: [looking at her tablet] I'm being told you can see it in Devin's room in episode four. SC: [shrugs helplessly] There you have it. The problem is, now the rest of the cast are making requests, and seeing who can come up with the silliest or most outrageous one I'm willing to do. I'd tell you what Jason asked for, but there would be a lot of bleeping. Okay, maybe not, it was highly technical and descriptive, but it should be bleeped. JH: That is wickedly adorable! Can I make a request too? SC: I'm not starting an Etsy shop here! [folds her arms gruffly, but grins]. We'll talk after. JH: Oh, yes, we will! CapnScarlet is wondering, 'Are you a natural red' -hey! [turns to look off stage] Who curated these? We already had this question last week... Seriously? It got through? Well... [turns back to Sean] Do you mind...? SC: Not at all. If you've seen anything I've been in CapnScarlet, it would be a good guess I wasn't a natural redhead. I haven't been my natural hair colour in years, and last time my hair was red, I was fifteen I think, and it was candy apple red. My natural hair colour is super blond, practically white, but I've been dying it since I was twelve. I've had practically every colour of hair there is at one point or another, but I usually went with brown or black professionally, unless the part demanded otherwise. Autumn and Courtney have been wonderful with teaching me #redlife. JH: Do you know why there are so many redheads on Weirder Stuff? SC: I have theories, but who knows? I think it was just a fluke with casting at first. And then maybe an inside joke about how red hair is a mutation - see, I can remember some of the sciency stuff - and either pairing it with Sean's genetic issues, or as a subtle reference to a genetic component in determining who has Shine. Not that red hair equates to having Shine, just that there's a genetic component to it. But that's a wild guess. JH: A mystery for season two perhaps. I think we have time left for a pair of questions. This one is from FuMaKi, and ouch! 'You've died an awful lot on screen, some wonder if you're gunning for Sean Bean's record. After Charlie, are you worried you're next on the chopping block?' SC: [shakes her head in disappointment] You have got to know I'm not going to touch the latter with a ten-foot. As for the former, it's wasn't my intention, it just sort of... happened. I don't know the exact number - ask the internet. Okay, that's not true, I do know the number, I'm just making you work for it a little, but if I have to keep dying on screen to have a career as long and respected as Sean Bean's, I'd count it a fair trade. JH: Sean Bean has it in his contracts now that he doesn't die, so you have a great chance to catch up. SC: I know. He mentioned it on the set of Game of Thrones. We didn't have any scenes together, it was just in passing at the catering table - OMG, they ate well. I went for the part of Margeary, I got brothel whore - oops, can I say whore? - brothel worker number whatever, if the part had a name, I don't remember it. Two episodes and [runs a finger across her neck]. The trick he said was to get to a point where you can negotiate not getting killed into your contract. JH: And your contract... SC: Is sealed by an NDA. [smiles] JH: Just wanted to have you say it. Our last question, by way of m00nm00se99, is 'If you had the chance to do something over again, what would it be?' SC: Hmm, jokes about Chronokinesis aside, I can't say I'd change anything. Some regrets and mistakes, sure, but they are part of me, made me the person I am. If I changed them, I'd be a different person. That's a bit of a cop out, so I'll talk about a pair of the biggest turning points in my life, if that's okay? JH: Of course, Sean. We're all ears. SC: The first was marrying Bob [Ogden, prolific and prominent produce, Sean Cassidy's ex-husband]. I was too young, it was his second marriage. It was a glorious disaster. We were much better as friends, friends with benefits even, than as husband and wife. They say looks don't matter, but it's a lie. We both thought we could advance our careers as a couple... [sighs] It helped, some, but it also turned us into worse people, bound by a contract rather than a real relationship. Our divorce was acrimonious, so we couldn't even go back to being friends. [smiles sadly] I had the better lawyers though, and both of us wanted it done, so it ended quick rather than getting dragged out. Hopefully, we both learned something during out time together. He got back with his first wife, last I heard. I truly hope he's happier now. I hardly even dream of committing felonies on him anymore. The second turning point, though it came before the first, was [raises her shoulders] the boobs. Nothing against cosmetic surgery at all. I just happened to be impatient. Here's the thing - I moved to LA when I was eighteen. Think about any actor or actress you've seen and know, with just a bit of effort, you can find a prettier version on the street or in the coffee shops and restaurants of LA or Hollywood, they just didn't get the break or the talent to make it. I naively thought I had the talent, given the time and chance, to be the next Streep, or Blanchett or Weaver, Scarlett Johansson, whathaveyou. I just needed an edge to open the door. So I went with the most obvious and easiest to acquire. Joke was on me though, I was a late bloomer, so I ended up doubling up on the most common super power. Thing was, doors did open. Practically by the time I recovered from surgery, I had my first movie role. Okay, it was Pirahna 3DD, and yes, I died in it, but it opened other doors for me. Maybe not the doors I wanted, but doors all the same. JH: How did you envision your career trajectory going? Meryl Streep? SC: [laughs unabashedly] I'm not Meryl Streep. I was thinking more like Christina Hendricks - absolutely love her in Mad Men - along with the accolades and blockbusters of, say, Charlize Theron. Instead, I ended up a more genre driven version of Sophia Vergara. On the other hand, she's made bank of what feels like twenty seasons of Modern Family, doesn't look a day older than when she started, and she married Manganiello, so what do I know? But the doors I've gone through have lead me here to Weirder Stuff, and I don't regret that at all. JH: That's about all the time we have for tonight, folks. Thank you, Sean, for such a lively and forthcoming time. If I had my way, we'd go into the next time slot whenever we had someone from Weirder Stuff on the show. SC: It's been fun and refreshing. I'd love to be back after you've done the rounds of the cast. JH: You can count on it! Maybe I can talk them into a double long episode of Beyond Weirder Stuff with the entire Fellowship. But this is all for tonight. See you all next week, when we have Eric Kripke and Joss Whedon on the show. [Outro music begins to play, Sean gets her phone from her clutch and moves over beside Julia, they talk as Sean swipes through pics, then throw back their heads in laughter as the screen fades to black]
    2 points
  25. [Intro music plays] JH: Welcome back, everyone! I’m your host, Julia Hernandez, here with another exclusive. Today we’ve managed to wrangle two more stars of “Weirder Stuff” into the studio: one of whom is famous, or perhaps infamous, for his reluctance to speak publicly, and the other for… Well, for exactly the opposite. It’s my pleasure to introduce the elusive Mr. Jason Bannon, and the effervescent Miss Autumn Keane. Welcome, welcome! Thank you both for joining me today! Autumn: Thanks, Julia. [grins as she settles into her chair and glances at her co-star.] Yeah, he’s my chaperone today, so no spoilers this time. [noticeable pause, followed by a wider grin.] Probably. Jason: [dry tone and a smile] I think the studio has too much faith in my abilities. JH: [laughs] How did they manage to twist your arm to get you into a live interview, Jason? Jason: [deadpan] There was some begging and crying. Kripke actually offered his first-born son if I would come on just to stop Autumn talking about next Season. Autumn: His first-born? Oh, that’s gonna be awkward at the holidays, isn’t it? [laughs, leaning back in her chair] I mean, after last time, he did threaten to have someone follow me around with tranquilizer darts, so this is definitely better for me. JH: Tranquilizer darts?! Autumn: I mean, I’m sure he was kidding! [waves her hands placatingly, still grinning] It’s fine. Probably fine. More than likely totally fine. I’d like to think I’ve learned my lesson after the Jauntsen reveal, anyway. That was… [grimaces slightly] When I’m really excited about something, it’s easy to just get caught up in the moment, y’know? And during the Q&A stream someone asked about my character’s relationship with Marissa, and… [hesitates for a moment] And I think I was just so psyched to talk about how I think the relationship between my character and the Twins might develop, it just didn’t occur to me that the big Blight battle hadn’t aired yet, and people wouldn’t already know they’d survived the fight. Sooo… Yeah. Team Holland strikes again. [grins sheepishly] JH: Rumor has it that Tom actually got in touch with you recently. What was that about? Autumn: Oh! [claps her hands together excitedly and leans forward] Oh, yeah, because of the joke, right? And honestly, it was perfect. So, we’ve had this sort of running joke on set about making t-shirts for the cast, different hashtags and all that, and so he sent me one that just said #TeamHolland on it. It was awesome, totally brilliant. [laughs] Now when I start to say too much on-set they’ll just tell me to go put my shirt on, like it’s a cone of shame or something. Totally deserved, of course, don’t get me wrong. It’s just really hard not to want to share all the crazy stuff we’ve been doing. JH: I can only imagine! [smiles] Now, obviously you’re not the only one who’s guilty of letting slip a spoiler or two about the show during what has turned out to be a wild first season. Has that made things difficult for the cast at all, or changed the atmosphere on-set? Autumn: Hmm. [tilts her head thoughtfully, considering] That’s a tricky one. Can I pass for a sec, and come back to that? JH: Oh absolutely. We can move right onto the big story and, let’s be frank, the reason I’m so stoked to have you both here in the hot seat. Most of us have seen that InstaSnap post… you know the one. So the big questions on everyone’s lips are “How long have you two been an item off-screen?” and “Who else in the cast and crew knew?” Was it a surprise to everyone else when social media went berserk, or was it just one of the best kept on-set secrets ever? Autumn: [laughs, shaking her head] I take it back, I take it back! I change my mind! Oh, god. [covers her face for a moment, shoulders shaking with laughter] Okay, okay. [composes herself, exhales] Right. So… To answer your last two questions first, “Yes.” At least, it was a secret, sort of, and everyone was also surprised. We just… I mean, we didn’t really talk about it, and it didn’t change much of anything at work, you know? Granted, in some cases, I think it might’ve helped the scene. [glances at Jason from the corner of her eye, grinning mischievously] But, yeah. The producers knew, but it wasn’t something we really shared with the cast. We’d talked about it, but there were concerns it might affect the group dynamic, or how the audience viewed certain interactions. The story in WS is always changing, and we didn’t want viewers to feel that a particular pairing was “locked in,” or that the outcome of an event is predetermined, if that makes sense. Jason: That was very important to both of us. [nodding] One of the marvellous aspects of Weirder Stuff as a story is the very organic nature of the script, especially when it comes to the interpersonal stuff. A lot of that is down to the actors and the writers working really closely together. For instance, the initial concept of Devin and Jason is that they would immediately be best friends with enough differences to keep the dynamic interesting. But when we were going over the lines together, Devin proposed that rather than them just naturally falling that way, they should be these two guys who were different, and worked really well together when things came down to crunch time, but had this huge gap of personal understanding between them that would take ages to bridge. Autumn and Jase becoming a “thing” in the show was very much another one of those “Hey, writers, what if we…?” moments. [grins teasingly sideways at Autumn] Which sort of ties into the “how long” question, doesn’t it? Autumn: It does, yeah. [cuts her eyes at him with a crooked smile] So… When Autumn and Jason went camping after he showed her the greenhouse, that whole thing was just supposed to be between friends. New friends, at that, who are just beginning to work out how to relate to each other. Maybe some teasing or banter, even a little bit of the tension from the talk they had at the Bannon farm, but nothing concrete. It was just supposed to be a bit of a bonding moment for the characters, and a chance for the audience to learn more about them by seeing how they interacted with their environment and each other. To give them a little insight. JH: Well, it certainly seems to have been, as you said, a “bonding” experience. So it wasn’t scripted? Autumn: Mmm, not at all, believe it or not! As Jason said just a moment ago, one of the most engaging and exciting parts of the show, from a professional perspective, is how dynamic and fluid the show can be. Devin’s famous for ad-libbing, for example, and loads of times it winds up working really well. So there’s a sense that we have a lot of input into how things go, a lot of creative agency and freedom within the context of the script we’re given. People get together all the time to run lines, especially since there’s not much time between being handed an episode and that episode being filmed- sometimes only a day or two. Jason and I were working on the, um. The campfire scene. JH: Oh, trust me, I know the one. How could I forget? Autumn: Right, that one. [laughs] Well, we were talking through the part where he sort of leans in, which was this really great moment of tension that was meant to be defused by a joke, and then everything would settle back into the camaraderie they were establishing. And I thought about the talk they’d had, and the little flirtations, and Autumn’s impulsiveness, so I said, “Wait. What if, instead of cracking a joke and backing down, what if she leans into that moment and just kisses him?” So… [shrugs a little, cheeks going pink as she smiles] So we gave it a shot to see how it felt in the scene. Jason: It was a convincing demonstration. [smiles a little as Autumn goes a touch more pink and elbows him] So it was sort of a realisation for us both, that moment. That the chemistry we’d developed between the characters was itself reflective of our chemistry as people. So yeah, we were definitely attracted to each other, so we kept it on the down-low after that evening because, well as we said we didn’t want to straitjacket the show’s writers. If they didn’t like the idea of Jase and Autumn, we didn’t want to make it awkward if they paired the characters up with other characters. Separating the professional from the personal is kind of important to us both in that regard. So we approached the writers with the kiss idea, and they loved it. I honestly expected they’d have it stop at a kiss then make it this awkward will-they-won’t-they for a few episodes or more, but they decided that didn’t really fit either character. The campfire scene became totally different, and they re-worked some subplot ideas to incorporate the new romance, which was more than we expected. Autumn: Mhmm. [nods enthusiastically] Even though it meant revising so much of what had been scripted, they jumped right in and ended up creating what felt like a more authentic, more dramatic story than just a friendly camping trip. It was pretty amazing. JH: And so you kept it low-key until… Jason: The selfie heard around the world. Yes. Autumn: Sooo, going back to your earlier question, about spoilers and changing things on-set. [grins wryly] Can real-life have spoilers? Is that a thing? JH: [laughs] In your case… Autumn: Right?! [laughs brightly] We’ve all got our talents, I suppose, even unconventional ones. In all seriousness, though, that selfie really was completely an accident. I mean, I didn’t take it accidentally, I just didn’t think anyone would be able to tell who was in the background. I woefully underestimated the curiosity and dedication of the show’s fans, I think, which is totally fair. If I saw a shadowy photo of what might be a really good-looking guy, with gorgeous green eyes, draped in a sheet, I might wonder who he was, too. Actually, hang on. I have seen a couple of photos like that. [grins impishly, nose crinkling slightly] There are definitely some advantages to having gotten everything out in the open, but dealing with the aftermath of that one post was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life. What would the studio, and the producers, and the cast, and my family, and everyone else think? Would I be out of a job? Would the viewers resent me, or him, or both of us? Jason and I had just really started dating kind of seriously not long before that, too, and I was really worried about how he’d react. He’s a much more private person than I am, and on top of that, it might have seriously affected his career. I mean, it’s easy to laugh now, but things could’ve gone totally sideways on a number of levels. JH: Were there any negative repercussions to the revelation? Autumn: Hmm. [frowns slightly, settling back into her chair again] On my end, I would say some, yeah, but nothing out of the ordinary. Mum was pretty hurt that I hadn’t said anything to her, and kind of jokingly annoyed that I hadn’t made a pass at Cade instead. She thinks he’s just adorable. [smiles faintly] She hasn’t had a chance to meet Jason yet, so, yeah… Back to your question though. Some fans were understandably pretty upset, because it’s easy, I think, to conflate the actor with the character in a show like WS, where we all use our own names and so much attention is devoted to authenticity. Realistically, though, even if it’s not how I’d have liked people to find out, it could’ve gone a lot worse. I’m happy with the way things have worked out so far. JH: And how about for you, Jason? Jason: Well, other than Autumn’s mom being disappointed I wasn’t Cade… [he grins] No, seriously, I didn’t mind overmuch once the surprise wore off. I’m happy in my work and I’m happy in my personal life, and my mom thinks Autumn is an absolute darling. Like Autumn said, there was some pushback from fans - but honestly, we’ve had a lot more positive feedback than negative, at least so far. I understand people are talking all the time on social media and there’s whole Readit threads debating how the Autumn/Jase relationship will pan out, with factions forming around their pet theories. And some buzz about how we’ll pan out, too. JH: There is indeed. How do you see it panning out? Jason: [smiling faintly] It’s not just up to me. Suffice to say that I am right where I want to be for the foreseeable future. Autumn: [rests her fingertips briefly on his forearm, the touch lingering for a moment as she smiles] JH: Aww. Okay then, on to some other questions since we’ve embarrassed the two of you enough. These ones from Chirper and Readit. Autumn: Ohboy… JH: The Ethical Drinker - interesting handle that - wants to know: “As a fine lass from a place like Aussieland, with several years experience, do you have a drink of choice? Same for the American lad, if he’s allowed to drink yet.” Sadly, I’m not even going to attempt the Scots accent the question was delivered in. I’d just embarrass myself and offend the Scottish. Autumn? What’s your favourite drink? Autumn: “Aussieland.” [swings her feet, laughing] Oh, that’s perfect! And, good question. Hmm. Actually, I’m not really sure I have one, to be honest. It depends what we’re doing, you know? And it’s different here than back home, the whole culture around drinking is just- it’s kind of confusing. Like, Christmas is gonna be weird as because obviously it’s cold and no one’s gonna be sitting on the deck getting day drunk on white wine and soaking up the sun. So, hm. Maybe a vodka cran or something when the girls go out, or a glass of beer with dinner, but… Yeah. I wish I had a more specific answer, but I’m still finding things I like. [smiles and shrugs a little] Ask me again in a few years and I might be able to say, yes, one hundred percent a… I dunno, a Lagavulin 16 or something, but for now I’m not really that heavily invested in it. I like my liver. [smiles more broadly] What about you, Jase? Jason: “If he’s allowed to drink?” I’ve been legal for a couple of years. Well, at least I look youthful. [chuckles] It depends a lot on whether I’m working, and what the character would drink if anything. I think this is the first character I’ve played who actually drinks at all on-camera, come to think of it. Jase likes to sample tastes and smells, and by preference goes for a decent rum or good bourbon, something fragrant. As for me… hmm… similar, I suppose? I don’t drink a whole lot, but I like a nice beer with some meals, or a glass of good wine. And a good bourbon or scotch from time to time. Like the lady said - get back to me in a few years when I’ve had time to develop serious preferences. [smiles at Autumn, then the presenter] JH: Fair enough! Next question is for Autumn: FR33B1RD wants to know “What was the biggest adjustment, working in Montana, compared to Down Under?” Autumn: Oh, another good one. Well, this one’s easy. The biggest adjustment is that you’re all backwards. Or upside down. Or… both, possibly. [she squints a little, tilting her head, then breaks into a broad grin] Obviously the landscape’s massively different in the mountains of Montana than on the coast of West Oz, the climate’s different, and you’ve all got this weird accent, but I think the biggest adjustment I’ve had to make was something I mentioned earlier. The seasons are totally inverted, right? It’s kind of surreal to be talking about snow in November, and I won’t lie, it messes with my head a little. Like, I’ll ring the family back home, and we’re all making holiday plans, but those plans look completely different. That being said, there’s a lot of similarities, too. Small towns are more or less the same wherever you go, I think, and just like at home, there’s plenty of opportunity to get out and do things, enjoy the sunshine and the fresh air and challenge yourself. And while I’ll maintain that my hometown has the best, nicest people anywhere in the world, I’ve gotta admit Shelby’s giving them a run for their money. JH: I can imagine that would be disorienting, yes! How about another one? Let’s see… Oh! This one touches on something of a minor controversy about WS. CapnScarlet posted, "Are you a natural redhead? Asking for a friend." Autumn: I- [blinks, then laughs and grins at Jason] Not a word. Although you have been really talkative today, so maybe I shouldn’t discourage you...? Jason: [mimes zipping and locking his lips with a smile] Autumn: [shifts slightly in her chair, still smiling] Yeah, yeah I am. The hair and makeup folks do tweak it a bit, so it’s very slightly brighter and reads better on camera, but, yes. I am a natural redhead. It’s actually one of the things that got me jobs when I was a kid, doing ads for sunscreens and so on, since we soulless and freckly types do tend to be more sensitive to the burning light of the day-star. JH: That’s certainly been a hot topic on the Readit forums. There seems to be an… Well, let’s call it an unusually high number of redheads on the show. Do you know if that’s intentional? Autumn: You know, I think- [hesitates, glancing at Jason before sighing] Sorry, I’m not allowed to speculate in public anymore. I have the t-shirt. [grins apologetically] JH: Aha, that’s true! Well, let’s hope there will be an answer to that question in a future episode, then! Or not, as the case may be. Just one last question, then, and it’s… Well, maybe you’ll know what it means? Autumn: Ohboy. [chuckles] Let’s hear it, then. JH: A user called Jaunt asks, "When is Sir Popenloque going to get that 250 gold you owe him?" Autumn: When is…? Oh, my gosh. [laughs] All right, Devin Jauntsen, you are banned from Readit. [shakes her head, grinning] Wow. So, I think when you had Marissa on, Julia, she mentioned a Dungeons and Dragons game we played to learn some background for Sean’s campaign in the show. “Sir Popenloque'' is the name of Devin’s character in the game, and my character borrowed some money from him for totally legitimate, above-board reasons that had nothing at all to do with paying off gambling debts. Jason: And a huge bar tab. Autumn: ...And that. [grins at her co-star] JH: Speaking of Sean’s game, we haven’t seen much of it so far. Do you think it’ll make a reappearance, or have recent events and changes in casting made it obsolete? Autumn: [bounces in her seat, glancing briefly up at the lights overhead] Aaagghh, so that's- I wish I could tell you! I really do! There’s so, so much that- ugh, just… [rests her hands on her head] It’s gonna be amazing. Minds will be blown! Hearts will be broken! Secrets will be revealed! The whole cast and crew have fallen in love with this crazy ride we’re on, so keep watching, and keep conspiring and gossiping and speculating, because I promise, the writers and producers do pay attention, and we’re so grateful that our fans love this as much as we do. JH: I feel like we could just keep talking about this all day! I’ve said it before, but I’m a fan myself, so this has been absolutely wonderful. Unfortunately, as much as I would love to keep the two of you here, I think that’s all the time we have. Autumn, Jason, thank you so much for joining me today, and for giving me some of your time, and I hope you’ll come back to visit me again soon! Autumn: Absolutely! Thanks very much for having us, Julia. Jason: It’s been a pleasure. [The three continue to chat with varying degrees of animation as the outro music plays, and the shot fades to black.]
    2 points
  26. Marissa leaned over and bumped her brother lightly. "You look like shit," she smiled. Devin smiled back and rolled his shoulders a bit. Marissa had caught the worst of it between the two, yet she'd never tried calculating a blind dimensional warp either. His body felt like it did when I tried to teleport in the Void without his bracelet. Like his insides were shifting and moving to places under his skin they shouldn't belong. "Look at you," he directed his attention with a nod of his head. "Warrior Queen of Shelly, now." "Pfft," she rolled her eyes, straining to smile. "Queen of Mean is fine. You guys are welcome to all the heroics, it's killer on my wardrobe. So, Mom's going to loose her mind, you know that right?" Her brother nodded, his gaze locked on the floor. All he offered her was a 'yep'. "...and turn a profit off of us." Again, her brother nodded and replied the same, his gaze still locked on the tiles of the floor like he saw something in their pattern that no one else could. "I'm not doing that again, Deej. It was torture the first time and I'm living through 4AM work-outs and practices and eighteen-hour days of..." she sighed and relaxed. "I'm just not. I'm not doing it again." He felt the same way. While their mother may have meant well, the Twins' upbringing was sheltered and nothing short of regimented education and training and practices that prepared them for auditions that would hopefully lead them to child stardom. The only reason they hadn't made it, was their mother placing too many demands on the studios that were interested in hiring them. It wasn't uncommon for parents to ruin their children's careers in Hollywood before they'd ever taken flight. "Em, we'll be fine. Mom can't make us do anything. I don't have to teleport or warp a damn thing, and neither do you. If worse comes to worse, I blip her to an island to calm down." "Is that so?" Came the voice of Misti Jauntsen, their mother, from behind them. Both the twin's eye widened and glared straight ahead of them at the sound of the matronly tone her greeting carried. Sean smirked. He wasn't sitting to far away from them, but he saw her easily as the twins were lost in their conversation, assuming the opening door was just another member of the staff. "Coulda said something, Light Brite." Devin shot the intersexed boy a glare. "You're right," Sean reclined a bit. His smile didn't fade. "I could have." Seeing the Twins' honestly fearful of something not spawned from the Dark was almost cathartic. Misti stepped around the examination table to face her twin children, placing her weight on one leg as she leaned and crossed her her to glare at them both. Devin looked up at her, a mischievous grin (as always) on his face. "For the record, Mom, it woulda been like... a really nice island. Like, Miami." "Miami isn't an island, idiot." Marissa looked at her idiot brother, muster the energy to slap him in the arm. "You're thinking of Maui, ass-tart." "Both of you shut up," her voice wasn't a worried mother's panicked tone. Misti had arrived at the stage in her worry where she was now angry with her children for not only worrying her and their father, but for putting themselves in danger to begin with. "Now, I know you two think you were doing the right thing, but what you did was stupid and you should have called the Sheriff. I expect this sort of foolishness from your brother, Marissa-" "Thanks, mom," Devin nodded sarcastically, but she didn't falter in her speech. "-But you?" Her glare set on her daughter. "Now, I understand that I've seen something pretty strange today, and we're going to get into that when there is more time, but running off after that girl-" "Sophia, Mom." Marissa cut her off with a whisper. Neither of the twins were looking at their mother, which told the others that if there was someone in the world they feared, it was her, despite how much bravado they might muster to the contrary. "That girl," she mouthed off. "Has a name." "Do not test me, Marissa Beatrice, or so help me." The single digit pointed threateningly at her daughter finished the threat without anything else needing to be said. "Going after a murderer and a kidnapper? What the hell were you two thinking? You could have been hurt or killed. Look at you!" "You think we don't know that?" Devin said calmly. "What like the eight of us were just skipping through the woods eating the candy that grew on the trees and we just Hodoor'd our way into a murderer/kidnapper boss fight?" "You should have called the-" "He knew, Mom!" Marissa huffed. "He's known. Christ, if you'd listen once in awhile." Their mother just shook their head in disappointment. "And look at the two of you." She took Marissa's arm. Her daughter winced from the pain of numerous cuts and the reddening of the bandages applied all over. "Jesus, Marissa. Your personality is garbage, your grades are average... and now this? Scars? Was over dosing not enough, you just have to go and ruin your looks also? In spite of the pain Marissa yanked her arm away from her mother and promptly covered her face in embarrassment as her mother blurted out secrets she'd prefer had remained quiet. "Jesus Christ, Mom." She mumbled softly and everyone caught the 'I fucking hate you' that followed as she fought back tears. "Gee, Mom," Devin slipped in, intentionally placing himself in his mother's crosshairs like a dutiful brother should. "No pep talk for me?" "Devin," she looked to him, already bored with where any conversation with her son might take her. "If your not in prison by the time you're eighteen, it'll be a miracle. We both know that. When you two get home, there's going to be some changes. No phones. Your cars, and motorcycle, gone. No more credit cards, nothing. Your father and I have been far too lenient on you two since we came here and it's done. You two are out of control and it ends, tonight." "Hail the conquering heroes." Devin said lazily. "If we do our homework, will you ground us for it?" "Misti," Carl stepped into the room. He'd leaned in the doorway for a moment, after having gone to get some coffee, and listened to his wife destroy their children. "You're angry. They're tired and have been through a very traumatic experience. Now is not the best time for anyone to be making decisions about anyone's future." "Carl, no-" she glared at her husband, about to raise a finger in protest, when he stepped in and, heedless of the other gathered children, stopped just inched from his wife's face, his eye locked on hers. "Michelle, enough." There was obvious anger in his voice. "You want to lose your shit, you do it at home, but god damnit we will not have you going on one of your holier than thou tirades in the hospital for God's sake. Get it together." Awkward didn't begin to describe the silence that followed. The Twins kept their heads down, apparently used to their parents confronting one another like this and learned long ago that it was best to simply stay small and let the whole thing, hopefully, blow over them. Misti inhaled and tightened her jaw while Carl looked on, practically begging her to challenge him. She instead chose to excuse herself and inform her husband and children that she'd be going out for some air and would meet them at the vehicles after Carl had checked them out. He inhaled and let it our slowly as he offered an apologetic smile to the other's still in the room. "I'm sorry you had to see that." "I figured it out," Devin said softly. "Why I can do what I can do. It's so we can get away from her, from both of you." "Devin, she didn't mean those things. She's stressed and angry, and she's been anxious with worry all evening." He was trying and it was obvious, but there were only so many ways to defend a woman like Misti when she was angry and got to spewing vitriol. It was painfully obvious, however, where Marissa got it from. "I know she's difficult just, give her some time. No one is taking your toys away, don't worry." "We don't care about the toys, Dad," Marissa leaned over and held her brother, preferring the tears she couldn't keep in anymore to be hidden by him then be seen by her new friends. He wrapped his arm around her and used his blanket to not so subtly hide his sister from the others. "If we wanted toys Dad, I would have just bamfed into a bank vault by now, or better yet, just bamfed the whole the damn thing to me." "Wait," his father's posture completely changed and his head tilted curiously at an angle. "You can do that?"
    2 points
  27. Jase was soberly regarding the ruins of his sole remaining rolled cigarette as she approached, his pale jade eyes flicking to Autumn as he gave her a slight smile before he let out a soft sigh and held up the blood-soaked, crumpled ruin. "It was in the outer pocket of my combat pants." he stated matter-of-factly, indicating the leg Autumn had recently tended to. "Ahh, well." The roll-up went up in a small puff of incineration, fragrant smoke rising for an instant in the air before being whisked away by the breeze. He turned to her, still favouring the damaged leg a little, and smiled once more. "Everyone alright?" "Mostly. I'll be happier when Sophia and Tawny get checked out. I'm not a proper doctor or anything." Autumn admitted, looking up into the green pools of his gaze. "How's Dana doing?" he asked quietly, his eyes still on her face in that intent way he had. Autumn ignored the prickling at the corners of her eyes and smiled at him. "She's fine. Said to remind you that you said you'd bring me home." she said in a tone that contained a hint of their usual playful banter. He nodded somberly. "That I did. Once we get everyone to the med center and checked out, I'll do just that." he replied, glancing at the other teens for a moment before looking back into her eyes. Autumn remembered why she'd approached him, then, shaking off the spell of his nearness. "Oh, hey. You've got a survival blanket, right? Tawny has mine, and Sophia is going to need one-" she had barely gotten the words out before a zip in the side of Jason's go-bag was opened and the slim packet containing the thermal blanket emerged, floating to hang in the air in front of her. She grabbed it, flashing him a grin that was less subdued, her freckled nose crinkling adorably. "You're awesome." Stepping closer for a moment, the redhead kissed her boyfriend's cheek and turned, hurrying back over to her recumbent patient. Jason watched her for a moment, observing her tugging the thermal blanket from it's wrapping and kneeling down to fold it around Sophia, before he turned away. His leg hurt, his head ached from power strain. The weariness of the post-adrenaline crash was on him and he slowly sank down to sit in the long grass, looking out over Shelly as he tugged his phone from another pocket of his backpack. The number was dialed. "Dad. It's me." He watched the distant lights, noting the scarcity of moving ones denoting cars as he spoke. "We won." A pause, then. "Just tired, mostly. Some scrapes, a cut on my leg that is already healing thanks to Autumn." His nose wrinkled a little. "And I stink of unmentionable stuff." There was another pause, Jase's eyes distant as he listened. "We're all fine. We kind of came out in the middle of nowhere outside town, but Carl and Misti Jauntsen are coming to pick us up and take us to the med center. No, you don't need to come down there." He pictured the chaos that would likely be taking place soon, parents and cops trying to figure out what was going on whilst medics tried to do their jobs. He shrugged off his go-bag and leaned back in the grass, looking up at the peaceful-seeming stars overhead, part of his mind cataloguing the constellations he could see. "It's going to be a circus - people yelling and getting excited. As soon as I can, I'll be home." Yet another pause, and he reflected on the question this time. "It could have gone a lot worse. We all did well. And no, the Tree isn't going to be a problem in Shelly any more. Not saying there's no Darkness left, but it's rudderless. Cleanup can wait a little." He smiled just a fraction, then. "I will, yes. I love you too. See you soon." Hanging up and letting the phone sit on his chest, he closed his eyes and took a deep breath of the still-warm evening air, folding his hands behind his head as he relaxed. It was a lovely evening, after all.
    2 points
  28. Cassandra flopped onto her ass, her legs suddenly feeling too weak to carry her as the adrenaline ebbed from her system. She felt dizzy, chilled, scattered...and her arm hurt a lot where that thing had nailed her with its tongue? Tentacle? It'd looked more like a tongue, but it stung like a jellyfish. Wouldn't it be a shit custard if she turned out to be allergic? She started laughing at that, though it was a laugh that was skating on very thin ice over a dark lake of tears. Not sorrow, just...reaction. It was too much to take in, too much to handle. And there was a sick kind of humor to it too. When Autumn came over, looking very concerned, Cassie explained through sniffles and giggles, "It's just...the biggest fucking deal any of us had, bigger than anyone in the whole town's had...and if I try to write about it, it'll look like a stupid sci-fi story. All that, and no one'll ever know what happened, or how or why. Not because anyone's covering it up, but just because it's too big to believe." With a bit of help from her friend, Cassandra got back to her feet and rejoined everyone as they gathered their wits. When Marissa called home, Cass almost jumped with her haste to grab her phone and do likewise. "Hey mom it's me..." she broke off for a second, smiling and wincing at the same time. "No, I'm ok. We all are. We did it." After a pause, Cassandra just said, "What we had to do. Look, it's...a lot. Some of us are going to the Medical Cent..." another wince. "No...we're ok. We just found Sophia, and she was kind of bad shape. I want to make sure she gets there all right. She'll be okay too, mom." Then Cass had a longer moment of silence, of listening. She sniffled and wiped a hand across her eyes and nodded. "I love you too. See you soon."
    2 points
  29. Sean was not a foot-racer... and nothing the rest of the Fellowship witnessed disabused them of that. Thanks to his physique and simple biomechanics, Sean didn't run like most teenaged boys. Sprinting for his life, hands on his chest to restrain any extraneous motion despite the high-quality, high-impact sportsbra he was wearing, most would say he ran like a 'girl'... except the girls of the Fellowship were generally an athletic lot, running and jogging regularly. Hell, Autumn has Sophia over her shoulders like a pro. Even Marissa had her yoga and gynmastics training to fallback on. Spry he might have been, no one would call Sean graceful, at least in regards to running. What he was, was motivated. And at least a little lucky. Screaming wordlessly, pale face tinged green with terror and the indignity that he could very well die like the eye-candy before the starting credits even rolled, his mind locked on the adage that the fastest way between two points was a straight line. He ran flat out for the hillock, feet swinging a bit wildly due to his new hiking shoes and inexperience, making no effort to avoid or navigate any obstacles. He splashed through puddles of steaming or coagulating blood, not a one deeper than an inch. He'd written this encounter before, the party having to escape an unending horde of Giger-esque and Cthulhoid monstrosities from the Far Realm. He never, ever, expected he - they - would be in a situation anything even remotely similar. LARPing, but for real, suuuuucked! Jase pulled further and further ahead despite Sean's best effort, a note of frustrating added to his frightened howl. Logically, Sean could understand the harsh equations that went through Jase's head. Slowing down to keep in step with Sean risked two lives instead of one, two of the Fellowship who were best equipped to slow down the horde and give Devin the time he needed to get the rest of the Fellowship out of here. Sean totally understood, agreed with the reasoning... and couldn't help feeling a bit of bitterness that Jase didn't even look back to see how he was doing, let alone hang back to help him. "Oh lawd, he comin'!" Devin said, unable - or rather, unwilling - to stop the comment while trying to focus his will to breach the barrier between this realm and theirs. Beyond nearly all expectations, especially his own, Sean made it to the hillock with the others without tripping or falling in a tangle of flailing limbs under a wave of claws, tentacles, and less terrestrial protrusions. Heaving and huffing, shuddering with the aftermath of his run, looking like he'd spent a day in a slaughterhouse that had never heard of OSHA, but alive. He'd lost all track of time since they had entered the Blight, they could have been there for seconds, minutes, or even hours as far as he could tell. "Oh, fuck! Fuckity hell shit!" Sean heaved in panic and relief, scrambling up the hillock. "I think I'm having a heart attack! This has to be what a heart attack feels like!" "Faaaat!" replied a chorus of voices. Sean glared at his friends, turquoise and jade eyes wide enough to show white all aroudn, and snorted. "I'm not fat! I'm just unathletic!" "Faaaat!" A hint of humour in the midst of horror, there were a few chuckles. "Fuck the lot of you! I'm supposed to be tech support!" Despite his hoarse, harsh rebuttal, the corners of his mouth twitched up. Sean hunched his shoulders and pulled his hands down, at though hiding under an invisible blanket, and his beads of light swirled around them, then spread out in sheets of red, blue, and green, to form a dome of burning radiance over the hillock and the Fellowship. "Get us the hell out of here!"
    2 points
  30. Jason knew what was happening to him. Teulu did not have a flight reflex: they lacked the capacity for fear, and in it's place was a redoubled inclination to fight, to kill. Abstractly, the wryly logical portion of his mind, that dry observer that catalogued all with merciless self-awareness, informed him of all of this. But it was one thing to know what was happening, and another to feel it in a way that was immediate and near-overpowering. His veins sang, the music primal and intoxicating as the adrenaline of combat worked it's euphoric magic on his alien neurochemistry. The fire burning in his soul right now was similar to the flame kindled in the kiss of the copper-tressed girl behind him in temperature, it's edge was as savagely joyous, yet the focus and purpose of the flame was entirely different. Almost without his noting it, Jase's lips peeled back from his teeth in a soundless laugh. His enemies were in front of him. It didn't matter to him that they were hideous mockeries of twisted life. It didn't matter to him that they might overwhelm him. There was only the pure, wild amoral joy of combat. He was Flame and Destruction incarnate right now, the roar of the power he was channeling loud in his ears and mind. He was... Putting his friends at risk. He fought down the killing laughter that had been threatening to bubble up from his throat and ring across the blighted battlefield as he glanced back to reaffirm what his kinetic awareness of his surroundings already told him. Almost everyone was clustered together, Autumn looking at him, Sophia's limp form draped across her shoulders. Still wreathed in flame, he glanced over at Sean, who was wide-eyed at the approach of the horde, already taking his first steps towards the others. Time to run. He turned and ran fleet-footed, a lean wraith limned in flames seeming to skim above the grisly soil of the glade, so lightly did his feet touch down. He hurdled a small pool, wove around a larger one, and arrived at the base of the hillock upon which the throne rested. Skidding to a stop, he gave everyone a quick, searching glance before turning to watch his oldest friend's progress with something akin to concern. Sean was many fine things, but a foot-racer was not one of them.
    2 points
  31. "Kat, I know it sucks, but I'm gonna need you to get up, now," Autumn called urgently over the din as she glanced over her shoulder at the petite powerhouse. She looked miserable, but not injured in any way the vitakinetic could readily define- not hurt, but hurting. It'd be fine. Probably. "C'mon," she urged again as the tiny French girl groaned and stirred. "We gotta go." Sophia, on the other hand, hadn't yet recovered, and wouldn't be walking out on her own. The curvy brunette's vital signs were more or less stable, and thank all the unnamed gods she actually looked human again thanks to Cassie's intervention, but none of that would matter in a few moments if they didn't get out of there now. The nightmarish masses were closing fast, and even if she couldn't see them, she could feel their wrongness, the mockery of life they represented- that this whole place represented. Despite the shimmering heat of the air all around, the grimy freckle-faced girl shivered. "Cassie, in the front pocket of my backpack there's a solar blanket folded up. Can you grab that for Tawny, please?" She needed to focus. Her companions needed her to focus. It was fine to be afraid. Totally fine. Completely normal. She just... had to keep going forward. As a trembling Autumn arranged Sophia's slack limbs on the ground, Cassandra nodded and rushed over, kneeling down to tug a rectangle of lightweight silver material free of the zippered compartment before darting over to meet Cade as he ascended the hill. At least some of the poor girl's modesty should be preserved, the redhead decided, even if the weirdly emotionless athlete didn't seem to mind, and it would help maintain her body heat until they could get somewhere safe. Not so for the girl before her, since she wasn't being carried like a catatonic bride over some horror-movie threshold. It'd be fine. Grimacing, the redhead set to work hoisting Sophia onto her shoulders. It had been a long time since she'd practiced a fireman's carry, and never in a situation where it actually mattered, never in a place where everything was burning or rotting or screaming or some godsfuckingawful combination of the three, and there was nothing graceful or elegant or smooth about it. She was limp, naked, and slippery with foulness, and although a lifetime of physical activity meant Autumn was theoretically capable of lifting her, it wasn't exactly easy. Autumn's hair was in her face, her heart in her throat, and her stomach somewhere just south of that but rising rapidly as the smell of the girl suddenly caught her full-force, mingling disgust with pity with the adrenaline that drove her heels firmly into the not-soil and the rest of her upward. With one arm hooked around Sophia's right thigh and grasping her right wrist, the blue-eyed teen stood there uncertainly for a moment, gingerly adjusting the unconscious girl's weight and testing her footing. "Sean!" she yelled, leaning forward cautiously as she pitched her voice to carry. "Jase! Let's go!"
    2 points
  32. The heat of the storm of napalm washed over him. Like nails on chalkboard, the impulses of Sophia's madness screamed at him. Sean's vision almost blurred, trying to follow the bioelectric activity of the multiple Devin's, like trying to discern individual frames in a movie. Under his cap, Sean's hair was matted, sweat slid down his cheek. His limbs shook, almost vibrated, under the assault of sensations, fear, and burgeoning relief. Cody and Not-Cody burned, remnants sucked up into the firenado. Sean couldn't quite make out just what Autumn was doing to Sophia, but he could feel her neural activity relax, ease, become natural s unconsciousness claimed her once more. The Tree was in its death throes already, Kat having unmade the Skull, where fire and force couldn't have touched it. The pervading aura of malevolent corruption began to dissipate, some at least, Radiance and Hope rising. It wasn't enough. There was a tiny part of Sean that felt... thwarted. He wanted to destroy, to cleanse, to scour this place, to.... "Shiiiiiii-iiiiite!" Sean cursed as he spun around, gaze going beyond the trees of bone. Be careful what you wish for. The corruption of the Blight might have lessened, but Sean's nerves jangled with the feeling of encroaching, encircling, living bioelectric activity closing in from outside the clearing. Living, but twisted, tainted, monstrous. Creatures that had never been human, but were of this place, coalesced from fear and pain, hate and despair. Sean felt ill, scared, and elated. Targets. They needed to leave, get out, but they needed time, just a tiny bit of time, for Devin to pull himself together and reopen a hole between dimensions. And he'd give him that time, with a little from his friends. A nudge, a phantom tap on a mental shoulder, intent more than any direct communication, imploring Devin's and Autumn's neotic aid. Sean was great at math, amazing even. He was dubious about how much Devin understood math, but in a way, he now lived it. He might not be able to show his work, but he could produce the answer. Hell, he was the answer. Sean wasn't sure how Devin managed to be in multiple places at once. Quantum entanglement? Sub-quantum entanglement? Realizing the holographic nature of reality? Sean didn't know, he suspected Devin knew even less, but he could use it. Energy and mass could be interchangeable, and if energy equaled mass times the speed of light, then way couldn't his three pet lasers be multiplied exponentially under the right circumstances. With a nod, Sean pulled the scarlet pellet of light from where it was still orbiting around the point Not-Cody had been. The walls of emerald and sapphire light collapsed back into incandescent beads and joined they ruby brethren in its circular dance. Sean planted his feet, ignoring the spattering spray of gelatinous blood, his hands balling into fists. The circling beads of light spun faster and faster, grew brighter and brighter, red, blue, and green forming a ring of blazing white sunlight as wide across as Sean was tall. Its plane of motion shifted, tilted from horizontal to vertical, as the ring came to a stop ten feet in front of Sean, between him and the edge of the clearing. Light spiraled inward, filling the ring until it became a disk of opaque incandescence, a whining and the smell of ozone filling the area of the air became ionized. "Portal time, Devin!" Sean shouted, "Buying you what time I can!" Sean could feel the firing synapses of the incoming Abominations. Borrowing Autumn's senses, he was now aware of their neurons directly, the cells that made up nervous systems, muscles, blood, and bone. It was like doubling the resolution and precision of radar, letting Sean pinpoint their locations with incredible clarity. The whine became a thrumming roar, like the biggest lightsaber ever imagined, as a massive beam of condensed photons, a giant lance of pure sunlight in a realm of darkness, swept across an arc of the clearing, sheering through the trees of bone, atomizing blood and bone and dirt, and engulfed several of the oncoming terrors before they could fully react. Sean's legs trembled as he forced himself to stand his ground and willed the unibeam to hold together, just that bit longer, to reach one more monster, one less monster to worry about before they skedaddled. The beam of sunlight died, the clearing seeming darker for a moment from its absence, afterimage floating through everyone's sight. Particles of fine, dark ash drifted down like dingy snow. Sean's shoulders slumped, and he wavered trying to keep his feet as he coughed on a mouthful of ash. He couldn't do that much more, not without draining himself and Devin, who needed his energy to get them all out of here. "Go! Go! Go!" Sean gasped hoarsely as he waved his hands.
    2 points
  33. One moment she was yelling taunts at Cody and right after the great beast was shot, pummeled, burned lazed and was screaming infernal curses at the crimson sky while the Tree wailed and thrashed on the horizon. She looked at the group of teens, weapons at the ready with nimbuses of power swirling about them. “Holy shit…” was all she could muster under a stuck breath. Gathering her wits, finally, she ran to meet with her brother(s), pausing to look at the Devin holding Tawny. Her finger waved between the both of them. “I-I'm not even going to ask what this is…” “You got her?” Devin-Holding-Sophia asked Autumn. When she assured him with a nod, he faded away, or rather slowed down and almost seemed to ‘vibrate’ out of existence. “Good,” Devin replied to Marissa. “Because I couldn’t even begin to explain it.” She knelt beside Tawny, wiping some blood off the young blonde’s cheek but all it really did was smear it more. While her brother was holding her so tight, the worry in his eyes, she pondered the volumes of books she could fill with the hidden dialogue behind his eyes and prayed that one day she would find that sort of love. The kind where her someone would look at her the way her brother looked at Tawny. “Mother fucker.” She heard Autumn say. The redhead’s eyes were locked on the distant horizon, where the Meadow of Malaise met the Ivory Forest of Bone. “Not good. So un-fucking-good.” Although Marissa couldn’t detect them the way Autumn or Sean could, once she knew where to look her eyes could faintly make out the charging army of unmentionables. “Ohmygod.” Her heart sank. One Not-Cody was one thing, but there was no way they could battle an army the size of what was storming across the fields. “GUYS! We need to go!” She pointed long enough to direct everyone’s attention to the charging monsters. “Devin!” she knelt again, looking at her brother intently. “You need to do the thing, with the thing and we all 'boop'. You know... the thing! You need to get us the fuck out of here,” she reached for Tawny, to take care of the blonde so Devin could work his magic. “I got her!” He snapped at her, tightening his grip. Guilt kept him from letting her go as his eyes pleaded for a thousand, wordless apologies. Shelly’s Queen tightened her lips and clasped her brother’s cheeks, turning his head to face her and letting their eyes meet. “This is not your fault Devin. She’ll be fine, but we need to go. You need to let her go and open a portal.” There was no violet shimmer behind her words, only the harsh truth. “It’s my fault. You wanted to stop, I didn’t and I pushed and pushed and maybe all of this isn’t our doing, but yeah… we helped. I helped. If I had just listened to you...” “Now help me make it right, Deej,” tears slid down her cheeks. She leaned in, pressing her forehead to her brothers. “I’ve never had friends, we’ve never had friends, we've always jsut been each other's Ride or Die,” she looked to Tawny, and pulled back, meeting her brother’s eyes again. “But she’s my friend too, so let’s get her home. Let’s get everyone home, I don’t want to lose anymore friends Devin.” She forced a smile and a laugh. “We just got them… we haven’t run them through their paces yet.” They both chuckled a bit. Shifting Tawny’s weight towards his sister, Devin stood as she cradled the unconscious blonde. “Watch after her, I’ll see what I can do.” Marissa struggled. Between the slick blood, her not being very strong to begin with and having never really trying to cradle an unconscious teen in her lap, she huffed and grunted with her loose, slick grip, trying to get Tawny to hold firmly in place but instead it looked like an awkward in scene from Weekend at Bernie's. “Ohm’god,” she grunted, trying to hold the knot of arms and torso still. “I don’t know what he sees in you… you are so fat. Come on sister, don’t do this to me…” “Cade!” she finally yelled as the uncontrollable blob that was Tawny slid through the muck and malaise while Marissa clumsily chased after her. “Baby! Get her, please!” It appeared that Death would arrive with a half-smile in its face.
    2 points
  34. That's nothing. T'is but a drop. See? Nothing to be scared of. Just a tiny drop of blood in the crimson ocean I'm sitting in. Now that's a- "Wha-" She mentally sighed and stood back up, slowly making her way to the Throne through the surreal plains of bones, her eyes wide open. The Tree agitated itself, and the world seemed to buzz like a feverish anthill around her, her brains lighting every red alarm they could find and urging her to speed up. She frowned and followed the order. [Hey, it's Kat.] The petite French girl poked at Autumn. In truth, she couldn't go much faster, her tentative show of strength a minute ago having left her mildly exhausted. [Yup. Talking in your head. What'd you need me for? Oh, and try to think your answer.] "Ohgod! How do-?" [Ohgod! How do-? Uh, okay, this is fucking weird. Um, hi? Also, we, uh, can't damage the skull. Cassie had a vision that showed her the plow you rebuilt at the Bannon farm. I think you have to do whatever the opposite of that is, maybe? Probably.] [I got you.] Great. There she stood, staring at the grinning skull. She climbed the small hillock of bones on which the Throne was set, her Shine brushing against the grisly figure staring back at her. Goosebumps. Her head visibly recoiled, the 'stench' of the skull unmistakeable to her. The opposite of what I did to the plow, uh? Guess I'll just turn it into dust. Despite what her other senses told her, the skull was but plain old bone. Since what happened at the Bannons' farm, there was no use in wondering if she could do it. She took a deep breath and tapped once more into that reservoir of hers, sharpening her focus as the tip of a spear. At first sight, nothing happened. But the skull seemed to grow smaller, second by second, as specks of dust started coming off. Then she fell to her knees, her hands meeting the bones, and a bright flash of pain piercing her brains. Plick. Plock. Her hazed eyes watched the droplets of blood falling from her nose, their impact on the ground echoing into her ears in a strange, disconnected way. But she couldn't stop. Not now, when her friends needed her. It was working. She was turning the skull into dust. But it was too slow. It demanded too much. Suddenly, she wasn't alone anymore. A familiar, ice-cold presence stood by her the same way it had but a day ago. It wasn't there, but it was there. Her mind accepted it, leaned on that sturdy wall, and it gave her the edge she needed. Ignoring the dancing stars in front of her eyes, she closed them, and the skull decayed, falling to pieces from either side of the Throne's back, crumbling till there was nothing left but thin, pale powder. She rested her rear on her heels, face down, moaning plaintively. "Uuuuuuugh, I don't feel so good..." It felt as if her heart itself was beating inside her own skull. Not the greatest feeling of all. Somewhere, inside, a distant wailing echoed, as if vibrating through her bones - and outside, much like Kat on the ground, the branches of the Tree curled slowly, its receding tendrils thrashing around in a fit of rage.
    2 points
  35. Jesus Fuck. There were four Devins, which- under ordinary circumstances- might've been good for a joke about providing real nightmare fuel, but in this place of death and pain and decay and- oh, look. Fire. -humor for the redhaired vitakinetic was in short supply. "Smash that damn thing." There wasn't much Autumn Keane and Devin Jauntsen could agree on, but on this point, at least, there was no argument. Turning from the massive column of flame roaring behind her, blanketing them all in its baleful heat and radiance, the redhead scrambled away from the teleporter and the unconscious Sophia toward the Throne. She sensed no life in the grotesque trophy that lay there, but somehow it did seem weirdly alive. Or sentient, at least. Or... something. It knew she was there, and as the hideous roots beyond tore free of the bones and foulness that had hidden them, that realization tightened the cold knot of fear in her belly. She gripped the crow bar and drew her arm back, but Cassie's sharp cry gave her a moment's pause, wavering at the threshold of violence. "Autumn, wait! We can't just smash it now! I see..." She paused, looking bewildered at the image her power had brought up. She stepped closer and lowered her voice. "A plow...it was broken, then rebuilt. But..." Still looking uncertain, Cassandra looked at Autumn. "There's something in that skull now that's protecting it...but it's still a skull. Can you affect it with your powers? We can't break it, but it used to be alive. Change it. Pull it apart if you can...like only you can." For a moment, the redhead stood poised there, the heavy pry bar raised aloft. Despite Cassie's insistence, a part of her wanted to try anyway, to just hammer at the awful thing until it shattered into a million pieces, but the blonde's visions had been uncannily accurate so far. With a grunt of frustration as she dropped her arm, Autumn shook her head. "I can't. I mean, I don't know how. It might have been alive once, but it was so long ago it doesn't even register. Maybe if-" She blinked, the eyes that moments ago had been wide with terror now sharper, focusing on her friend's face. "The plow. Shit! That was Kat!... KAATTTT!" she screamed, straining to be heard over the chaos. "We need you here!" Grabbing Cassie's arm, she pulled her back from the Throne, back from the questing tendrils, back toward Devin and Sophia. The girl was barely clinging to life, and for a moment something in her railed bitterly at the unfairness of it, that Cody should find any kind of peace while Charlie was gone and poor Sophia might never- But, no. It didn't matter. He was dead and she was alive, and as long as she was alive she could get better, right? Right. Fuck. "I'll try to help her. Just... It might take me a little while, okay? Don't let me get eaten, guys." With a nervous smile at the other two teens, Autumn knelt down next to the catatonic brunette, shifting the straps of her pack a little and setting the pry bar aside before stripping off her gloves. Aside from being naked, suffering from exposure, severely dehydrated, and half-starved, Sophia was... The Girl Scout blinked and shook her head, tears springing to her red-rimmed eyes. She had been hurt, and that was all Autumn could bear to think about at the moment. Laying one hand on the girl's abdomen and the other on her forehead, she closed her eyes, felt the restless ocean of energy within that surged and coiled in streams of gold and red, and then loosed it, flooding Sophia with the sunlit scarlet of her will.
    2 points
  36. All Cassandra could think on seeing Sophia was no. It was bad enough the Dark had taken Cody. Bad enough that they'd had to learn their abilities, understand what was happening. They hadn't been able to help Cody. They couldn't let Sophia suffer the same fate. Not this time. She opened her inner eyes, and immediately regretted it. This was the seat of the Dark's power, and it was beating down on her like...no, not a drum. More like a heartbeat, as experienced by someone currently inside the heart. Muscular contractions, compression from all sides. Constantly trying to snuff them out, crush them, consume them... It was held back by waves of Radiance that pulsed out from the Fellowship, creating a sort of bulwark against it. Cass could clearly see then how the bracelets took that Radiance in and seemed to refract it, or reflect it, amplifying it and using it to connect one to another. Unlike the normal world, there was no 'ambient' Radiance here. No sparks of life in the earth or air. Sophia did have Radiance in her...the same dim light that most things had. Hers was further muted by a patchwork web of cloying Darkness though, knotting unnaturally through her body. Even as Cassandra watched, it quivered and extended a gelatinous pseudopod, extending a little further into Sophia. This process would continue, she realized. It was an infection. Cassie experimented, mentally concentrating on her Radiance. It shaped itself to her will, rising up and flaring outwards in armlike structures. Yes. This could work...but there was a problem. The Dark was already entwined with the light of Sophia, clinging tightly. If she blasted it out, ripped it from Sophia...even if she had the strength to do that, what would happen to her? Cassandra's Sight could perceive the many layers of Sophia's person, but she didn't understand it or how not to hurt it. She needed help. "Autumn," Cassandra said, and reached out a hand. Wordlessly, the redhead took it in her own, and their perceptions shivered together. With unthinking coordination, Cassie marshaled her Radiance and hurled it at Sophia. The streams of energy split and split again, becoming a billion fractal arms that could reach between molecules by the time they reached the other girl. To the naked eye, the effect was palpable. The world itself seemed to recoil from Cassandra. A sudden wind stirred, blowing away from her...sending cinders and ash up in plumes from the dry bones at her feet. The roiling black clouds in the sky bent up as if a glass dome had just been pressed into them, and flowed outward. From the center of that dish, a beam of Light speared out. It was impossible to say if it came up from the ground, or down from on high...but it was centered not on Cassandra, but on Sophia. Sophia screamed. Not the inhuman howl she'd let out before, but something far worse. It was two voices, overlaid...a warbling, almost electronic shriek with a teenage girl's agonized scream under it. She writhed in place, and seemed to try to double over, bunch her legs...perhaps spring away. Cassandra said "No!" aloud, and reached out her hand. The wind intensified, and Sophia halted in place, bent unnaturally as if pierced by an invisible stake. She clutched at herself and wailed, thrashing but unable to escape. And she was burning...a thick black smoke starting to curl off of her. "Cass what are you DOING?!" shouted Devin. "I can FIX her, Devin!" she replied in kind. A halo of visible Radiance encompassed her now, and spread down her arm to race up and around Autumn as well. Her face was focused, concentrating entirely on Sophia and the dread battle that raged within her. Devin shook his head, sickened at the tortured cries. "You're killing her!" Cassie shook her head. "It's working," she replied. "Look." A second glance told a new story. The 'smoke' wasn't smoke. Sophia wasn't on fire. The Dark was leaching out of her like a thick black dust or ash...wrenched from her body and cast back into the fetid air. Tears started trailing from the corners of Cassandra's eyes. "Just a little bit more, Sophie...just hang in there for a second longer." Radiance speared her, touching every particle of her body with fingers of fire. The pollution that had been forcibly injected...a torture of hours and hours...was now being ripped from her, all the pain compressed into a tiny fraction of the time. Only Autumn's mind, guiding Cassandra's power, saved Sophia from being physically ruptured...caught between the opposing forces that raged throughout her. Sophia's screaming turned hoarse...turned to anguished sobbing. The 'smoke' trailing from her thinned finally, and guttered out. The spear of Light, and the wind died away...the bowl in the clouds started to smooth out. And Sophia, with a final shuddering gasp, opened her eyes. For that moment the Fellowship could see that they were clear. Her teeth and fingers normal. Then Sophia collapsed onto the bones, mercifully unconscious. "Oh my god," Cassie whispered. "Oh my god, Sophie, I didn't know...I'm so sorry..." Autumn squeezed her hand and shook her head. She had some tears leaking from her eyes as well, but her face had a harder edge. "You had to do it," she told Cassandra softly. "It hurt now, but...it would have been worse." Autumn nodded at Cody then, mutely making the point. Cassie looked that way and shook her head at what she saw. "There's almost nothing of Cody left now," she said. "I...I can't do that to him. It's had him too long. It would kill him, even with your help." Autumn frowned at that, and her chin set in a subtly defiant expression. She wasn't quite as ready to give up on Cody, it seemed.
    2 points
  37. Unlike her friends, the petite French girl didn't have much to say. No, between the ghastly spectacle the Dark had made of this place and the rancid, putrefacted corruption insidiously poking at her shield, Kat was pretty alarmed. Although it only had taken the monstrous imitation of the boy Cody once used to be, rushing at them, to shake her stupefaction off, she didn't know what to do. Rather, her brains were too busy assimilating the overload of information thrown at her. Her hands were empty. The two girls holding them had run off towards the Throne. The limp, naked shape of Sophia was in trouble, as Kat noticed. Her shield couldn't be extended any further and the girl was out of reach, corruption clawing at her minute by minute. How long has she been in there? Bright flashes of light, followed by a detonation, brought her attention back to the closest of their problems. What am I gonna do? She took a few steps towards the Throne, towards Sophia, watching as the soft outline of her Shine wrapped itself again around the five distant shapes of her friends. Good enough. She sighed, and focused her senses on Devin's mind. [Devin! Tawny and Sophia, especially Sophia, are in bad shape. We need Autumn to see what she can do. I moved to get them under my shield, but this place... the air... I don't know! Something is not doing them any good.] Understatement of the century. Good job, Kat. [Oh, by the way, it's Kat.] She was short on breath. In fact, she was short on time, and turned towards the towering, menacing monster screaming its discontent. The swiftness at which it had moved from the throne, to there, was absurd. She realized that if she could kill one thing, it would be its speed. True, Kat didn't like manipulating matter, but it would probably be the most efficient way to do it. Her Shine quickly scanned the ground on which Cody was standing. Bones. Rotten flesh. Blood. The knot in her throat tightened. Great. She took a laborious breath and began tapping into that reserve, that chest filled with wonders, hidden deep inside of her. Her field of vision narrowed, blood loud in her temples as Cody's feet began sinking into the ground, bones turned liquid mixing in with the flesh and blood. Kat fell to her knees, hardly coping with the mental strain. Holy shit. You can't stop there, girl. Bones can be used as cement, right? Heat it. Just heat it. She reached once more for her reserve of Shine and extended her hand, propelling a steady stream of blazing heat towards Cody's feet. Sunk ankle deep into a mixture of nightmare, the odd mortar turned solid around them. A victorious grin stretched the girl's lips. Speed killed. Weary, she wiped the blood off her nostrils and sniffed. Blood?
    2 points
  38. His sister was buying him time. He knew that. As the monster that had been Cody was assaulted from all sides by the teenagers, every part of him wanted to join in the fray and vent all his anger on the creature that had killed his friend and stolen Tawny from him. Tawny. They were doing their part and Marissa had bought him the time he needed to do something that only he could do. He didn’t always have to be on the front line to be a hero. Everyone had a part to play, from Cassie and Autumn to Devin, who now needed to make sure those who were taken were safe and kept from further harm. Taggart wouldn’t have believed it. These kids whose minds were on everything from sex to video games to food and Homecoming, but never on the now, were doing it. They were working as a team. One cohesive unit to form a beacon of light in the roiling darkness of shattered hope and despair. “Keep the pressure on!” He shouted. He turned to dash towards the throne, to where Cassie and Autumn had run. In mid stride he disappeared and reappeared at Sophia’s side, where he knelt. He looked up to Tawny, being pulled in towards the giant tree by its animated limbs. “C’mon,” he mumbled to himself. “Please work… please…” he reached out his senses and felt the noetic connection between himself and Tawny. It was faint, but there, the darkness and corruption of the mangled branches working to dim his connection and ability to pull it’s prize away from it. He pulled with his mind, breeching the boundaries of space and the distances between two or more things… and the Dark was there. A part of all things and all places, even in the pockets of the in between, and it refused to relinquish it’s hold on the lovely blonde. He reached up, he didn’t need to, but the somatic gesture helped his focus. Purplish energy illuminated the veins along his arms, his hands and forearms seemed to glow from within, as he pulled with everything he had to tear his best friend from the grip of the menacing avatar. And then, she fell into his arms, appearing in an instant to collapse against him, and he swiftly clutched her tightly and breathed heavily with relief and weariness. He lay her against the side of the throne. “Tee!” He yelled, sliding blood-soaked strands of hair off of her already crimson smeared features. “Tee! C’mon, girl… c’mon… be okay… Tee! C'mon you two. Sophie, Tawny... one of you wake up for me, c'mon girls, this is not how I pictured my first threesome going.” Tawny was in his arms and his temper was already abating slightly. She was cold to the touch, but still possessed a blush in her cheeks. It scared to consider for a moment if the creature had siphoned her Shine from her, leaving her powerless against it. "Dee-j?" She managed to rasp, opening her eyes just barely. He couldn't help her, not here. Not now, but she was alive and to him that was all that mattered. Devin managed a faint smile as some measure of hope was restored in his the grim palace of his mind. "It's me, Tee. We came for you. We're all here for you. I'm here for you."
    2 points
  39. Shit!Fuck!Shit!Fuck!Shit!Fuck! The sweet and fetid miasma of blood and decay surrounded Sean, cloying, clinging to him. He tried breathing through his mouth, and that was worse, the taste far more putrid than the smell. A hand went to his throat as he felt his gorge rose., even as terror raced up his spine at the sight of Not-Cody. He was more monstrous than Sean imagined, more something from a Monster Manual than from reality, so fast, those arms so long it seemed he could reach halfway across the clearing. And the electrical impulses flowing through him? They were chaotic, conflicting, like trying to watch a 3D movie without the glasses, making him even more nauseous. The synapses in Tawny and Sophia worried him. He'd never seen someone in a coma. Is that what it looked like, felt like, he thought, or was Sophia in the precipice of death? Was the corruption infesting Not-Cody inside the girls now, too, starting to multiply and grow? It took an instant for Sean's thoughts to come unstuck, and in even that small moment, Not-Cody had taken several swipes at Devin, Cassie and Autumn were racing for the throne and the crown surmounting it, and Marissa... Bloody Marissa who always had to be the center of attention was trying to be the center of attention even now and Not-Cody was going to tear her face off. At least she was their bitch, this time. "Whattheshit?!" Sean muttered as he shuffled to the side, trying to spread out the Fellowship so Not-Cody and whatever was inside him couldn't reach them all at once. He crossed over a scabby crust and his foot broke through, almost-black blood, thick, chunky, and warm, flowing over and then into his shoe. It was like stepping into a puddle of hot mucussy snot, and he almost stumbled as well as lost his shoe pulling his foot out it. "Watch out, guys!" Sean shouted, breathing in short gasps, as he waved his left hand, and the blue and green marbles of light zipped forward, leaving after-images in his sight. The tiny spheres of photons flew pass on either side of Marissa then exploded into a pair of vertical planes of transparent light, fifteen feet to a side, meeting at 120 degree angle just in front of the glamorous girl who came on a jaunt through the Abyss in a pair of 'hiking' heels. If Not-Cody wanted Marissa, he'd either have to burn or take a detour. "You aren't getting her today, bastard, or any of us!" He waved his other hand, two fingers pointing towards the twisted Cernunnos Cody had become, his left hand on the ground to catching him from falling over. The red marble flashed forward, elongated into a spear of fiery light, piercing the luminous green wall without resistance. Not-Cody raised a hand and the lance of scarlet incandescence went through it as easily as the wall, boring an inch wide hole straight through it, the great, taloned paw scorched black from a miniature solar flare. Not-Cody flinched back, fanged maw opening wide in something between a squeal and a snarl as he baleful gaze was shared between Sean and Marissa. The ruby beam of light contracted once more into a tight, bright marble, orbiting the great beast, threatening him with more solar pain. "Burn, motherfucker, burn!" Sean shouted. He heard some of things he had said about Laurie, even before his horrible chrysalis. Sean might have sounded more threatening if he hadn't sounded so breathless with terror.
    2 points
  40. “No!” Marissa managed to squeal out as the giant beast launched towards her brother. Her hands cupped over her mouth as he teleported away and then a second time. He was safe, but her heart had sunk into the very pit of her stomach at the thought of her brother being harmed. She felt she needed to do something, but what? Autumn and Cassie took off for the skull, but she could see the hesitation in Not-Cody as hie eyes panned from a desire to defend the skull and it’s rage for killing Devin… Dumbest plan ever. She chastised herself, internally, but didn’t have any time to think up something better. Whether it was fear or courage that breathed life into her voice she wasn’t sure, but the Queen of Mean raised her voice at the Not-Cody-Beast. “Hey!” She shouted at Cody, trying to stand tall and unafraid against the creature. “Don’t you blame my brother for your stupidity you… shriveled little whining incel. No one ever made you do a damn thing. You were pathetic and broken loooong before my brother and I ever got near you.” She tossed in a stern point of her finger and a goose neck for added punctuation. “But oooooh, no…” she chastised. “Poor little Cody. You’re a fucking sociopath, Cody. From the things you said to the way you treated people… you wanna be mad at someone? Be mad at me!” Marissa’s thumbs declared that she should now be the center of attention as her words seemed empower her to take a few sloshing steps in the festering cysts that passed as the firmament in this bizarre place. “Do you know why Katie Shelton didn’t go out with you? Because I told her not to. I warned her you were a fucking creepster. And after she turned you down, we laughed at how you just brooded in the corner like a mewling little simp.” She scoffed at him and folded her arms while delivering the most unimpressed look anyone had seen. “Courtney told us, Cody. We all know. What? Did you think getting a bigger dick in your head would make up for the lack of personality in your pants?” The great beast’s chest heaved as his eyes left Devin and ignored the runners altogether. His rotting lips, or what remained, locked tight in a grimace as his brow furrowed, illuminated by the dull red of his soulless eyes. Like a mighty silverback he threw his arms up and slammed them into the soft ground as he bellowed with rage, splashing liquid and questionable-kibble bits. He faced the gorgeous brunette, whose perfect beauty and rumors of her promiscuity had left his imagination to wander on more than one sleepless occasion, roared loud enough to match lions on the savannahs of Africa. His claws sunk deep into the decay and malaise and his muscles tensed. Autumn and Cassie would have the time they needed, Devin was planning something, and the others too… maybe everything would be okay, she thought, until a flash in her mind spun a tale of all the horrible things she’d ever done to the others and it occurred to her that she wouldn’t blame them if they used the opening, she’d given them to go after the skull, like sensible people should. Yeah… Dumbest plan ever.
    2 points
  41. The group all pulled up outside the old Town Hall in a matter of minutes. The streets were bare due to people retreating back to heir homes on a the Sheriff’s orders. Shelly looked like a ghost town after what was a festival and celebration not just an hour before. The eerie quiet of the Silent Hill-like town was enough to rattle their nerves. They all gathered one last time outside their vehicles. Devin was needed to wrench open the portal to… wherever, so they all huddled close making small talk as he situated himself. Tee? Don’t know if you can hear me, but we’re coming for you. He set his helmet on his bike, threw his pack over his shoulder after one last go-through of its contents, even Marissa’s stuff because he knew she’d forget everything important in lieu of makeup and a spare set of shoes in case the scenery changed, and her outfit suddenly clashed with it. Devin approached Cassie and his sister and offered the blonde a reassuring wink and he rubbed his sister’s shoulder. “Hey, Blondie,” he greeted Cassie while giving his sister a once over and nodded. “Not bad. It’s a little CW, but it states bad ass.” She forced a smile and then admitted bluntly, “I’m scared, Devin.” He continued to rub her shoulder, forcing a smile of his own. He thought of something that couldn’t sum up of the Fellowship more clearly in a million years, and it was Marissa that had taught it to him years ago. “How did that go? Though much is taken, much abides; and though we are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven-“ “That which we are, we are,” She stood a bit taller as the words of Tennyson’s Ulysses rolled off her tongue. She knew that what he’d said was all he’d remembered of the poem that she had ran throughout the house reciting when she was younger. She’d found the prose beautiful and the words back then so inspiring. Now, here, he’d returned to her a part of who she was that she’d locked away in order to become the Queen of Mean. He always knew what to say. “One equal temper of heroic hearts made weak by time and fate, but strong in will. To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” “Not to yield,” he softly repeated his sister’s words. “Amen to that.” ”It’s okay do be scared.” Devin said loud enough for everyone to hear him. Anger and rage swelled in his chest as the thought of Not-Cody hurting Tawny haunted his every thought, action, and step that he took. Words were always Devin’s weapon of choice. He was a master at deflecting his feelings with a joke or a quip, but now his mind couldn’t find any joke that fit this mess. There were no quips to make any of this seem ‘okay’. Words gave him comfort, kept the demons in his ears quiet long enough for him to collect his thoughts, and so… he talked. He let his eyes lock with his sisters for a few moments more before he turned to face everyone. “I’m scared. None of us asked for this, but here we are. Sophia, Tawny? They didn’t ask for this either, but they are out there somewhere, and we’re going to find them and bring them home.” He had no idea if Sophia was still alive but he they didn’t need to hear that right now. They needed to hear that she was alive, and they were going to find her. They needed that. He needed that. “Coyote? He sees something in us. He knows that each of us are dealing with something in our own way; loss, self-loathing, being different, identity, closure, redemption,” he looked to Autumn, Marissa, Sean, Jason, and Cassie respectively and gestured to himself last. “Individually we were broken but together we’ve managed to start putting ourselves back together. Sure, we’re still not perfect, but it’s a start and I for one am no longer afraid of all the little fractures that run along this twisted path through the darkness we’ve been set to walk upon.” He walked, circling to walk to past each of his friends and let them meet the intensity behind his eyes. “See, I believe that all those little fractures in the darkness are what let the light in so that we could find our way to each other. That’s a powerful statement from the Powers That Be that we were never meant to walk alone.” He passed by Cade and raised his fist, the large quarterback bumped it. He gave Jason a nod and a light pat on his shoulder as he passed him. He stopped and met Sean’s eyes for a moment and continued. “This isn’t about us, our differences, our personality clashes or our griefs with one another. Right here, today, now, we are bigger than all that. We are a Fellowship. Coyote sees something in us, kindred spirits that were destined to inherit great power, but he is also the God of Mischief and a little of that beats in all of us,” he pressed his hand to his heart and bowed slightly. “Some of us more than others.” For a second everyone was able to smile without forcing it past doubting convictions or fear of any numerous possibilities. “It’s in our blood, guys. We were born for this. Now, let’s go rescue our friends, stomp the Dark in the chubby, and go get our mischief on.” He walked away and they reflexively followed. They had a mission, and it was like a math test or a book report… they didn’t want to do it, but they had to, so they got to it. Lives were on the line though, and there were no make ups or extra credit if they failed the first time, this was it. It was go time. The eight of them stepped into the dark alleyway that led into the old building. Debris and brick and rust littered the small passageway and the shadows after the mouth of the alley seemed to grow deeper and more constricting. Sean held out his hand, palm up as they moved with purpose and were undaunted by darkness as long dimmed light fixtures exploded to power in a shower of sparks that rained down on them as the electrokinetic breathed life into them once more. The padlock on the old door twisted and knotted on itself as an unseen force telekinetically rent it asunder into metallic shards as the door opened itself in greeting. Cade slung his rifle up onto his shoulder while Marissa slid on her leather jacket, pulling her hair out to fall over the collar. Cassandra checked her battery power on her phone and camera, sliding one into her bag the other into her pocket. Autumn nervously rubbed her bracelet before tucking her hands into the pockets of her hoodie. Kat looked about everywhere, her eyes darting from shadow to shadow with nervous energy as they entered and approached the distortion. No one could see it, not even Devin. It wasn’t something that could be seen, only felt. For a long moment that’s all Devin did was just feel it. It was nothing, and he never quite understood how nothing could have a feeling to it… but it was like emptiness, like one of those days when he wanted to do something but no matter what he considered that one thing he’d chosen just wasn’t it and on and it went. He would search all day, but nothing was good enough and he just felt bored and like he’d wasted a whole day by the time that day was done. This feeling was like that. It was hungry for something, but it didn’t know what, so it just ate and ate and drank up all the good and decency and joy looking for that one thing to sate its hunger. Cade tapping Devin on the shoulder snapped him back into the real. “You’re up.” The monster that chased him through the halls of the school flashed in his mind. He twitched visibly. “Y-yeah.” He stepped forward a few steps and clenched his fists at his sides, he closed his eyes focusing on the distortion. He could the difference in his power compared to the essence that formed the distortion, almost like pure malice had found a way to smash though reality. His mind made his thoughts a reality. As he focused, he could hear the thumping, hollow like something banging against something thick. He opened his eyes and saw the distortion opened, its iris spiraling outward to show the vast expanse of nothingness in the form of a mirrored wasteland of their own world. His gut tightened as the creature from the school, the one that had spent hours stalking him and hunting in the corrupted hallways of his school. It loomed there in the threshold of the gate, drooling, and hissing as its form slithered in place to keep its balance. It hissed which soon mingled into a screech that could make ears bleed and it lunged for him only to slam against the portal, like a pane of glass was keeping it from crossing over. It slammed against it a second time and the barrier cracked, and a third with blinding speed and all Devin could do was stand there, paralyzed as the barrier shattered its massive jaws closed the distance and everything went dark. Devin’s snapped open and took a step back, almost staggering and falling into Cade and Cassie who were directly behind him. Cassie managed to brace him and noticed the droplets of cold sweat coating his brow. “Woah. Devin, you okay?” “Y-yeah.” He lied. “Just, uh, feedback. The distortion is made of some pretty foul stuff. Dark shit. Scary shit. Wasn’t ready for it, that’s all.” His smile was less than convincing as he stepped forward to tried again. He could lie to them, but he couldn’t lie to Autumn. His heart rate and brain chemistry had spiked so high he was on the verge of shock. Still, he stepped forward for another try. She silently watched him, monitoring his health as he stubbornly made a second attempt. He closed his eyes once more and tried to focus through the fear. He still had dreams from his time in the Void, as Ellie called it. IT was only a few minutes in his world, but it was a few hours there when a demonic horror had hunted for him and on several occasions, had almost killed him. He’d been putting up a good front, but the experience had left him with nightmares and terrors about ever having to return to that place. His world faded away again, and he focused on the distortion. His eyes tightened shut and Autumn could feel his heart rate increase. Chemicals flooded through his body as his senses extended outward and into realms beyond their own. The creature slammed against the barrier of his senses and once more it cracked the protection in his mind and lurched back for one final strike that would shatter his confidence. Forward it lunged and… …he was standing in a field of tall grass, a field he knew, and he remembered. "Don't say I'm your best friend!” Tawny’s voice was low and seemed come from the lowest depths of her throat as she fumed and shook her head. Devin stood stunned for a moment, he remembered this! This him and Tawny during the summer when… when he was an idiot. "Don't you dare say that, because I know Deejay, I know we're best friends. Jesus God, do I know, and it's not fair.” She sobbed. “You really want to know what 'in love' is? Even if I had never met you that day outside of your house... I'd miss you.” Tears welled up in Devin’s eyes. He shook his head in a vain attempt to apologize to this phantasm for not understanding then how much he was hurting her. His fists clenched at his sides and he shook his head in defiance that he was about to give up on her. Not yet. No way. The valley turned dark, the grass shriveled and died. Tawny, along with the field faded into a colorless grey and dissolved like ash only to be blown away on a sudden wind. As the breeze cleared Devin stood only a few feet from the giant snarling creature that terrified his dreams. Slime-like saliva dripped down from its jaws as it lowered its head to meet its prey eye to eye. “Jason,” Autumn looked up at her boyfriend, worry in her eyes and voice. “He’s not well. Whatever he is doing to open this thing, it’s killing him.” “He can do it.” Jason said calmly. “Jason.” She glared at him through gritted teeth as if his name were suddenly entire conversation to convey her disagreement with his appraisal. “Everyone is looking for something in their life, Deejay.” Tawny appeared, fading into view like a ghost now clothed in a virginal white dress with white satin ribbons and sash that chaotically danced in the breeze. Her very presence was the brightest thing across all the landscape. She stood in the space between him and the great creature. “We're all born incomplete and we spend our lifetimes searching for that piece that completes us and makes us whole. I feel that when I'm with you. Whole. The powers may seem to make me glow, but it's you Devin, it's always been you that makes me shine. That's why I love you, that's why I'm in love with you. You make me a better person." Gold spun itself with Rumpelstiltskin like magic through the violent violet energy that slithered down his arms and coalesced into his palms. It swirled and danced in a fervent unbridled rage within his eyes, and gateway to his soul and at this moment, Devin’s soul was on fire. “You will not keep me from her.” He snarled at the great demon. The landscape crumbled and collapsed around like a poorly made movie set that was no longer needed. As it crumbled the room, he and the others stood in were left behind, fear was replaced with rage. Sorrow replaced by hope. In a great bellow Devin cried out and the mighty demon that only he could see was hit by the power of his battle cry and exploded backwards like smashing ash with stick. The room exploded with power and the iris of a portal collapsed in upon itself. Sweat mingled with blood as Devin collapsed to one knee. His nose dripped crimson with the toll of crossing between worlds, but he’d done it. The way was open. Courtney collapsed over the sink in her bathroom and coughed up blood in an unladylike matter. Her nose dribbled blood and rivulets slowly slithered their way from her ears. Every capillary in her head felt like it was fire but still, she managed to look up at the massive mirror and Tawny, clothed in virginal white, faded from her sight as the awakened memory from Devin’s mind faded as her link was broken, her power stretched to its limit. She collapsed onto the soft, comfortable rug upon the bathroom floor and she stared at the ceiling. Her breath was shallow and weakened but still she smiled, her teeth blood stained as it ran down her cheeks from her nose. She’d done all she could. She'd given Devin the push he needed. “Go get him, guys.” She closed her eyes and left herself rest.
    2 points
  42. "Cade and Sean have their cars, Marissa has hers, I have mine, and Devin has his bike." Jason spoke up quietly from where he was sitting on the picnic table, a lit cigarette idly dangling from the corner of his mouth, smooth fragrant tobacco smoke a hint in the evening air as he watched everyone in that calm, intent way he had. He turned his gaze on Autumn, shrugging. "We might as well just head to the Old Town Hall in convoy - it isn't far - and it means we can take the bags with us without causing much comment." As he spoke, he slid from the table and hefted a strap of his own go-bag onto one shoulder, glancing around at the others, glacial eyes studying them all. It was hard for those unfamiliar with him to say what thoughts moved behind that inscrutable, somehow ageless stare. But those more attuned to the differences and variations in Jason Bannon's moods could see in the depths of the green pools of his gaze a gleam that denoted banked embers of rage, a terrible eagerness merely awaiting oxygen... And something to burn. "Is everyone ready?" he asked, moving to Autumn's side as she released and stepped back from her embrace with her friend. = = = = = = Tawny didn't remember much of how she got here. There had been the sensation of being seized, and then a terrible wrenching, sickening sensation like... like falling backwards into water and feeling it go up your nose, but a thousand times worse. She guessed she must have sort of passed out, because then there was just dimly-remembered sensations of being carried like a sack of potatoes over a large, bony shoulder through a bitingly cold, foul-smelling darkness filled with chittering, whispering things. It was the muttering that brought her back to herself: a voice both familiar and not talking - no, arguing in a hoarse, glottal tone with someone or something that could not be heard. The pretty blonde girl blinked, taking stock of the slick wet sensation under her hands and bare legs. Going by touch alone, it felt like she was in an inch or so of water, interspersed with lumpy, uncomfortable protrusions. From beyond her closed eyelids came a reddish, dull glow. "You promised. You said I could have them. All the girls I wanted!" There was a yearning, gnawing wheedling sense to the voice. But Tawny recognised it despite the inhuman undertones. God save her, she recognised the voice: Cody. "This one too! She is Devin's! I want her, just like I want all that is his!" The muttering rose to a shriek on that last sentence, then fell away into murmurs again. "Jauntsens, and Bannon, and all of them. I will take what is theirs. Like they took from me. Make them small, make them afraid." Tawny sat up and opened her eyes, and fought the simultaneous urge to close them again and retch. She was sitting in blood. Thick, cold and viscous, it oozed around her, staining her sneakers and hands, seeping into her shorts. She'd been laying in the foul stuff, clotted and rotting, with lumps of bone and... well, best not to look to closely. She bit back the scream that threatened to tear itself from her throat and forced her gaze upwards. The landscape was bones, bones and blood, with a red sky that pulsed with dull light. Almost directly ahead of her was a throne built of aged, yellow bones, fitted together like puzzle pieces, held together by God-knew-what, and topped by a giant skull, the antlers of which spread above the throne like a grisly sun-shade. And on the throne was... Cody. Only not Cody. She'd heard the story from Devin and the others. Heard that he'd been changed. But it was one thing to hear and another to see, and all Tawny could do was experience a wave of mingled terror and great pity as she looked upon what Cody had become. Sure, he was always creepy - only Devin's aegis had protected her from the boy's attentions - but this? Surely nobody deserved this. She forced her eyes away from the muttering, arguing figure, unwilling to call it's attention to herself, and looked around. Behind her was the Tree. It was, if anything more horrible than anything else she'd ever seen. So black it appeared to leach light from it's surroundings, the Tree gave the appearance of motion, of hideous slithering life. Whether it was her Shine, or some other instinct, Tawny knew that whereas Cody was a perversion of God's plan, the Tree was from outside that Plan altogether. It was wholly unnatural, a hellish mockery of a growing thing. Under her horrified, fascinated gaze, two of it's 'roots' slowly withdrew themselves from the fetid morass of blood and worse around it's base with a sickening sound, waving gently in the air from side to side, as if scenting fresh prey. Then it was reaching for her, the black tendrils slowly undulating through the air, groping blindly, hungrily. Finally, Tawny was unable to hold back her scream.
    2 points
  43. Devin nodded, space warping as he disappeared in a muted flash of rippling purple light. They walked on in silence for a short few minutes. Somewhere, inside the jade and crystalline halls of his mind, Jason had been and still was processing the loss of someone who, whilst not a close friend, was nevertheless part of his circle. Someone he'd talked to, who'd talked to him, who he had shared games and snacks and dangerous situations with. A sense of loss, of sudden and wrongful absence was there, but there was little of what would recognisably be called 'sorrow' to a human mind. More keenly was felt the sense of personal failure. He should have checked up on Charlie when the other teen hadn't answered his phone or come to training, that chilly observer told him. Perhaps it would have done no good, but he had been lax regardless. Memories of Charlie flickered across his mental screen: the raid on the Crossroads facility, the time Charlie had tried to reach out to him last Monday... And now Tawny: kind, friendly, peripherally also now a part of his circle. Yes, he felt similarly to Devin. Rage roared and crackled in its chains in his soul, a fire similar to that which had flared to life when Liam had attacked Lona. Someone - something - had killed one and taken another of his people. And would pay in screams. But he was learning, also. His anger was not blinding him completely to what was happening in front of him. He'd noted the flush of anger and the widened eyes of disbelief on the cinnamon-freckled face he spent so much time studying these days. He had spent time in learning to people, analysing context and expressions, and Autumn was an easy subject for such studies. Warmly and openly emotional, every flicker of the flame of her personality could be read in her face. Was now the time to address it? Rationally, it seemed better than letting such feelings fester, and it was not as if there was anything else to do whilst guiding Jacob to safety. "You were not wrong." he said quietly, glancing at Autumn past the youth between them. "I just cannot take the chance that our enemy is waiting for another one of us to be alone and distracted." A pause, then. "Least of all you." Three long, cleansing breaths. Three counts of four on each measured inhalation as she concentrated on the lingering scent of spice-laden smoke from dozens of grills and the bright, sharp fragrance of conifers in the warm afternoon air, followed by a slow, deliberate exhalation. It was fine. Everything was fine. They were just going to take Jacob back, still looking for all the world like he'd just been smashed in the head and thrown against a tree, because he had, somehow convince her family she needed to stay behind instead of going with them where it was safe, and then go plan an assault on a psychotic murderous monster that used to be one of their classmates, try to rescue another classmate before he ate her face, find a way back home, and not die or lose their freaking minds in the middle of all that. It was fine. Everything was fine. Autumn was... Okay, maybe "fine" wasn't the right word for it, she admitted to herself, cutting her eyes past Jacob to where the Effing Boyfriend was helping him take one step at a time. "Cool." She turned her attention back to the field, to the shapes of people and food trucks and cars ahead. "So, I wasn't wrong, but you guys decided to just do what you wanted anyway?" A part of her felt guilty for being upset at something so stupidly trivial, especially when there was so much else to be angry and worried and sad about- but she couldn't pretend not to be, either. "Further planning is superfluous." If Jason was relaxing his vigilance at all now that they were close to 'home', he didn't show it as he resumed scanning the woods. "We have as much of a plan as we can formulate. Get to the location, cross over, take out whatever we find. The key tactical move right now is to minimise any damage we can suffer until we can strike as one. That means pairing up, not leaving anyone exposed, and meeting in one spot before we go after the enemy." His manner was calm, matter-of-fact. "Devin can rally everyone. You were not wrong, but you were not right either." "The only reason I did not address it before is because it meant more standing around rather than acting, and Devin needed to be doing something to keep him focused. That's why I'm discussing it now." He paused for a moment, glancing over at Autumn once more. "It was not my intention to be rude or thoughtless, or imply that your opinion has no weight with me." "You're right." And, she had to admit, he was. Mostly. It was a completely, totally, frustratingly reasonable argument, much like Jason himself. "Devin does need to be doing something. And Devin also could use somebody who isn't freaking out about losing his best friend to a monster to help him do that. He basically just admitted if this Ellie, or whatever, hadn't taken back the bracelet, he'd have done exactly what we assumed and run off like an idiot. He listens to you," she added quietly, her free hand tugging at the end of what had once been a passable braid draped over her shoulder. "So, yeah. You're right, but you're also wrong. Because even if you don't see a need for planning, people can't read your mind, Jase." She was quiet for a moment as they walked, and then conceded with the ghost of a grin, "Not that they would. Or at least not more than once, probably." Sobering again, the redhead continued. "But, still. Ten bucks says everybody's freaking out right now and nobody knows what's going on, and they're all gonna be talking over each other. I think you should've gone with him, and even if you didn't mean to seem like my opinion doesn't matter, it did." Frowning, she glanced back up at Jacob, checking his eyes before focusing on the pale green ones just beyond. "They're more important." "So we are both right, and both wrong." If Jason was ruffled by her statement it didn't show. But he did nod, slowly, his gaze thoughtful for a second as it once more rested on her earnest features. "When there is no clearly logically superior answer, I will come down on the side of protecting those dearest to me." There was another moment's silence as they saw the Keane / Crocker enclave come into view, and the composed youth's lips twitched in a faint smile. "And next time, I will make it plainer that I am not simply dismissing your concerns. That was clumsy and rude, and I apologise for it." "Oh. Well, okay then," was all she said for a few seconds, her expression somewhat mollified as she gazed at the familiar figures ahead: the slim auburn-haired form of her mother, the tall warden in his faded green cap, and her father, perpetually business casual. The sheer act of walking, of moving, had, on its own, dissipated some of the immediacy of her frustration, and he'd apologized, and he'd said he'd handle it differently in the future. If there was a checklist for defusing arguments, she could see him methodically marking off each box as he went... But it worked, she admitted grudgingly. He'd been like this when they'd gone camping, too, though, when she'd gotten embarrassed and upset. Totally reasonable. Totally logical. Totally, and utterly, and- "You're completely impossible," she sighed, admitting defeat. "You know that?" "Yes." he admitted, tone taking on a slight warmth that matched the hint of dimple in his cheeks and the look he gave her as they covered the last of the distance. "I know. You're sort of neat yourself." "'Impossible' isn't a compliment." Autumn replied tartly, fighting the urge to smile again. Damn him, was he distracting her? "I suppose it depends on who I hear it from." Jase responded mildly, but there was no more time for byplay as the adults ahead took notice of the approaching trio and reacted, Dana reaching them moments ahead of Ian and Nathan as they clustered around. "Oh my god!" the pretty vet exclaimed, the color draining from her face as she took in the sight of the boy who'd grown up alongside her own child, his hair and featured dark with drying blood. "Autumn, what-?" Nathan swore under his breath and slipped one arm around his son as the younger redhead stepped aside, her hand leaving a faint smudge on the back of Jay's shirt. "Help me get him to the table where he can sit down." The warden glanced at Jason, eyeing the leanness of the young man supporting Jacob, and nodded toward the denuded picnic table, now stripped of cloth and snacks and drinks. They'd been busy, and had apparently taken the teens' advice about packing up to heart. "He's okay." Autumn murmured to her mother. "He just needs to get cleaned up and get some rest." Dana stared at her for a moment, at the wild disarray of her hair, the remnants of leaf litter and dirt on her legs and her clothes, and the deep reddish-brown stains on her shirt and hands. "I'm serious," she added. "He's got a little bit of a concussion, 'cause I wasn't sure how to deal with that and we were in a hurry, but the big stuff is handled already." She hesitated for a moment, glancing at the wide blue eyes of her father, and then back at her mom. "Like the grass." "Like the grass?" echoed Ian, looking from daughter to wife with a confused expression. The news of another teen's death, and now Jacob, and through it all the vague sensation, strengthening all the time, that his family were keeping something from him, was taking it's toll on the man's patience. "Why is he covered in blood? Why are you covered in blood?! What do you mean 'the big stuff is handled'? Jacob needs a hospital-" "Ian." Dana put a hand on his arm, exerting an effort to keep her own voice calm, especially since the angry husband's voice was raising in volume. "Please. There's a talk we need to have." Meanwhile, Nathan and Jase got Jacob to the table and lowered him to the bench, the keenly observant warden not failing to notice that he barely had to do any of the lifting. As he checked his son's eyes and the wound on his scalp, he looked at the silent, lean shape who stood a little apart, his own attention on the family unit nearby. "What happened?" he asked, and the pale emerald gaze moved back to him. "He was attacked and the girl he was with was taken." Jason's voice was low and quiet. "Autumn got him out of danger with her gifts, we brought him back." He paused, that cold stare assessing the older man. "From what Autumn has said, you know some of what is going on. Our enemy is moving against us. That is why he was attacked and Charlie is gone." "We can have it now," Autumn cut in, hoping she sounded calmer than she felt. "He's covered in blood because he was attacked while he and Tawny were out walking," she explained as succinctly as she could, trying to call to mind the cool, clear focus she felt when Jase's Shine brushed against her own. She avoided entirely the issue of that walk being in the woods, and how exactly she and Jason had found him. Here we go, I guess. "This-" she took in a deep, steadying breath and plucked nervously at her shirt, wincing as, for the first time, she considered what she might actually look like, "is Jay's, not mine, and he doesn't need a hospital because I took care of him." Ian stared at her as though she were speaking some other language than English, something he hadn't studied in college. Was he angry? Hurt? Confused? Yeah, probably, she reasoned, a pang of guilt twisting in her chest. But it was better to just take the Band-Aid off all at once, now that they'd started, rather than try to peel it off a little at a time. ...Did they even have time? Ha. "There's gonna be a lot of bruising over the next few days," she continued, glancing anxiously at her mother, and then back at her dad. Back at the face that had been conspicuous in its absence over the last couple of years, but which also belonged to someone who- she knew- loved her unconditionally despite all that. "And he's probably going to have the worst headache of his life when he finally does get some rest, because he does still have a concussion. But the cut on his head, the swelling and bleeding on his brain, and some of the minor stuff from getting thrown around are all taken care of." Over at the picnic table, Nathan was struggling with questions of his own. Sure he, like Dana had presumed that Jason would be one of the 'special' teens Autumn had hinted at. And he knew there was an enemy, a Darkness over Shelly. But the answers he possessed simply led to more questions, and the silent youth standing there regarding the Keane's once more was not forthcoming with further answers. "So what now? What are you all going to do?" he asked, sitting down beside Jacob and keeping his boy upright, helping him to rest back against the table's edge. Jason looked back at him again, and Nathan was struck again by the composure: that weirdly quiet confidence that belonged on a much older man. "Same plan as before. Only we're moving it up." the youth with ancient eyes responded. "We rescue who we can, avenge who we must, and put the threat down. Or we die trying." "Taken care of how, exactly?" Ian asked warily, studying the freckled features of his dishevelled daughter. Reading people was part of his job, gave him insight into what his clients were thinking and how best to take advantage of that; Autumn was nervous, but she wasn't lying. He'd often teased her about her terrible poker face, but depite the sense of growing unease and his own frustration, a part of him was grateful for at least that one constant. "Because he looks like he's been dragged backwards out of hell and you look like you were the one doing the pulling." "Um." It wasn't exactly an eloquent start, but with her father staring at her like she'd just put a soccer ball through the living room window, it was the best she had. "Okay." Resting her hands atop her head, Autumn fixed her eyes on the realtor and held them there, the rubber soles of her worn sneakers flexing slightly as she shifted her weight from one side to the other. "So, there's a super long story, but basically, I can affect living things. Hurt them, heal them, make them stronger or weaker, things like that. That's how I helped Jay." The wary expression on her father's face fell away, replaced by a mask of utter disbelief. "You're telling me you have magic healing powers." "Kind of?" the restless young woman hedged, her shoulders and elbows twitching upward in something like a shrug. "I mean, at least it's useful, right?" "Right." Ian nodded, turning to regard Dana speculatively. "This is your father's fault," he stated flatly, as his wife's warm, honey-colored eyes widened in outrage. Jason stepped away from where he'd been speaking to Nathan as he registered the shift in tones and body language. The colour leaching from Dana's warm complexion and the way her eyes widened was an indicator that Ian's comment, hardly delivered at a discreet volume, was about to trigger at the very least a blazing argument. In the chilly calculus of Jason's mind not only was this likely to slow things down, but it would also layer additional anxiety and stress onto Autumn at a time when she could not afford distractions. A quick glance around showed that the Keane-Crocker enclave was remote enough that a demonstration would not attract attention, especially now that the word was spreading about Charlie. People were packing up, the festival atmosphere shattered, the Carousel coming to a halt as parents collected their children with hugs, guiltily grateful that they had not suffered the same loss as Lucius and Hannah. Dana's eyes were going from wide with shocked outrage to narrowing in simmering anger. Ian had the look of a man who knew he had spoken in haste and poorly, but didn't know if it could be unsaid and still uncertain as to whether it should be. And Autumn was looking stricken from her father to her mother as Dana brought her hand up in a sharp, blurring half-circle. The slap did not land. Nor did it impact a bruisingly solid force. Rather, something in the air between the two adults stole away the kinetic momentum of the blow and stopped it in mid-air, a few inches from Ian's face. Startled, Autumn's father stepped back a pace as all three Keanes looked at the motionless open hand. "Excuse me." The tone was calm, but carried the faintest of edges as Jason stepped into the circle, not quite between Autumn's parents, standing across from his girlfriend. He held out a hand, palm up, and motes of light coalesced there seconds before a flame sprang up from his palm, dancing golden and orange. He looked at Ian as Dana's hand dropped to her side. "Autumn is telling the truth. And you need to listen." he said into the silence. The girl in question sighed, a heavy sound that faded into a soft groan. Of course, it would be too much to expect that this conversation would go as smoothly the second time around, and they were already running behind. "So, I guess that's one person I don't have to ask permission to talk about," she quipped nervously, her father's face going from angry to ashen in a matter of moments as Dana reached out tentatively toward the flickering flame held captive in Jason's hand. "It's actually warm," she murmured in astonishment, staring at the unblemished skin of his palm. "How?" "The same way I do it," Autumn interjected quietly, hazarding a smile. "It's all energy, sort of, just... He uses it differently. So. Yes, Dad, there are plenty of myths and legends, but a lot of them, especially the ones Grandpa believed, were based on true stories. This is part of the truth they were based on." "Fine," he muttered irritably, passing a hand over his face with a weary sigh. This was not how he'd pictured the day going when they'd started that morning. He'd expected to have to work to get back in his family's good graces, but dealing with whatever insanity this was defied all reason. "Fine. We'll talk about it at home. Let's just finish packing up, and you can tell me all about how this is completely normal and not at all crazy." When Autumn didn't move, but glanced instead at her fire-conjuring boyfriend, a sense of apprehension crept up Ian Keane's spine. "Autumn?" His daughter's eyes widened slightly, brightened as though suddenly wet, and she shook her head. "I'm not going." "Autumn," he repeated firmly. "We don't have time for this." "I know!" Her voice shook, hands slipping from the top of her head as she stared up at the open expanse of blue sky above, its brilliance mocking the grim horrors of the day. "I know we don't have time. Tawny's missing, Charlie's dead, and Jacob was nearly killed. I can't go home with you. Not until we fix this." "Wait." Dana shook her head, turning away from the inscrutable young man to regard her daughter with a frown. "No, no. Wait just a minute, young lady. You said this was happening later." Ian opened his mouth to protest, to demand a clarification, but the pretty vet lifted a hand in warning. "What happened to later, Autumn?" The expressive young redhead looked over at Nathan, at the friend she'd only just found again and almost lost, and swallowed past the lump in her throat. "Jacob and Tawny happened." "And Charlie happened." Jason closed his hand, snuffing the flame out as he moved to stand by Autumn's side, slender fingers reaching down and taking her hand gently. "There is an enemy, an entity. Malevolent, old, and hungry. Normal weapons cannot harm it, normal people cannot face it. Together, though, we can destroy it. And we need to. And we cannot put it off any longer, because now we know it's actively after us, and not content to wait anymore." "This is... it's..." Dana and Ian said almost in unison, then glanced at each other before looking back at their teary-eyed daughter and the outwardly calm youth beside her. "This is a lot." Jason said quietly, almost sympathetically. "We thought Autumn would have time to explain it to you more gently. But we are out of time. The rest of us are gathering and getting ready." "The house is safe. As safe as it can be made, anyway. When you get home..." She hesitated, her fingers tightening reflexively on Jason's. Why was it so hard to say, when everything was already decided? "Are you kidding me?" Autumn blinked at her father as he stepped forward. "Ancient evils that can't be hurt by conventional weapons are killing high school kids and you expect me to just, one, buy the whole story, and two, let my daughter walk into that? No. And even if, if you're both telling the truth, that's all the more reason for her to come with us." He reached out, plainly intending to grasp Autumn's arm and tug her to his side and away from the quiet-voiced interloper, a possessive and protective gesture as old as fatherhood. And now it was Ian Keane's turn to contact that strange immobility, his face contorting with effort and frustration as his hand would not move forward anymore, no matter how he pushed. "That is up to Autumn to decide, not anybody else." Jason's words were as simply spoken as when last uttered, but now took on an edge that overlaid the unadorned conviction of before. "Ian." Dana's hand trembled as it slid over his arm, drawing it back. He stared first at the strange, too-composed youth, then at his wife, who shook her head. "She's coming home. Just... not right now. Not with us. All right?" Her voice, for all that it wavered, was underscored by resolve as unyielding as the earth underfoot. "Jason," she addressed her daughter's boyfriend with an air of quiet resignation, her chin held high. "You can drop her off later." There was a sense that the slender, dignified woman was not so much granting permission, but issuing a decree. He inclined his head slowly - almost respectfully - to Dana, and Autumn felt his fingers squeeze her hand in reassurance as he glanced at her. "Are you ready?" he asked her softly. "Almost." Her eyes burned, and Autumn rubbed at them with the back of her arm as she pulled away. Without ceremony or preamble, she jogged over to the picnic table and threw an arm around Jacob's shoulders, heedless of dirt and blood alike as she pressed a quick kiss to his cheek. Nathan didn't wait his turn, but instead swept the athletic young redhead up in a bear hug, lifting her feet off the ground until she squeaked in protest and he finally set her down again. There were no emotional farewells, no promises; nothing else needed to be said between them. As she walked back toward her parents, however, all the words she wanted to say caught in her throat, the sounds snarled together in a knot that emerged only as a strangled cry. This might be the last time she'd see them, and somehow she couldn't even say goodbye. It wasn't fair. None of this was fair. With a soft murmur, Dana caught the girl up in her arms, resting her chin atop Autumn's copper curls as the sunlight coaxed sparks of red and gold from their hair. They stood like that for a few moments, until Ian pulled his daughter into a hug and she hiccuped, tears streaming down her cheeks. Finally, she shook her head and took a step back, her whole body shaking with silent sobs. "I gotta go," she managed, trying to keep her voice from breaking. "Love you. See you guys at home." Ian looked at his little girl with fresh eyes, as though suddenly realising that, in his absence, she'd become a young woman. The burden she was carrying was heavy, but she was carrying it, he recognised. And... she wasn't alone. He eyed the enigmatic youth, who returned his gaze with an unruffled, glacial look of his own. Ian cleared his throat. "Look..." he started to say, but normal fatherly injunctions and finger wagging seemed... pointless in the face of everything he'd experienced in the last few minutes. "Jase... just please... take care of her?" The frost that had limned the other's stare thawed slightly, and he nodded much as he had to Dana. "We'll take care of each other." he replied, his implication clear that he trusted Autumn at his side as much as she him. Autumn stepped to his side and the two of them turned and headed away, Dana looping her arm around Ian's and hugging it slightly as the two parents watched. = = = = = = = = Devin had been keeping busy, Jase and Autumn saw as they approached the Bannon table some minutes later. A number of bags and backpacks were leaning against the benches as the rest of the Fellowship stood around, talking in low tones. Evidently, the teleporter had collaborated with the others present to get such equipment as they had readily available to the place where it was needed. Even Jase's go-bag was there: in response to his questioning look, Devin shrugged. "Hey, I saw where you keep it." he said by way of explanation. Jason nodded, looking around at the others present. They were all there - all of them that remained, at least. Quietly and efficiently, still a little red-eyed from her earlier tears, Autumn handed a bracelet to Devin and to Kat, both of whom clasped them into place. "Alright. We're all here." Devin said, studying the goldlike gleam of his bracelet before shaking his sleeve over it and looking at the others. "We don't really need to discuss what's happening next, do we? Charlie's dead, Tawny and Sophia are taken. Let's go get the girls back and Not-Cody's head on a fuckin' stick."
    2 points
  44. "Okay," Devin walked with Cade and Marissa through the crowds of people and he couldn't help but have that uneasy feeling of 'I know something you don't know' as he passed by the oblivious families trying to enjoy what little of summer they had left. Charlie filled his thoughts as they moved, his stride determined, his mind elsewhere. The talks they'd had, the small frame of time in which they had to build memories and now... that was it. There would be no more opportunities for the two to build a friendship. There would be nothing else from Charles Cole and all that kept flashing through the young teleporter's mind was Charlie sitting at the breakfast table in the morning at school, laughing and smiling and... his phone spoke up with the voice of Queen Elenore from the movie Brave scolding the young, fiery haired Princess Merida, 'Don’t just play with your haggis!' she cried out, alerting Devin that it was Autumn, the Fellowship's own fiery haired princess trying to get a hold of him. "You know where to go, right? Don’t waste time getting there." He told the other two as he fished his phone out of his pocket. "What about you?" Marissa asked. She was unconsciously holding Cade's hand tightly, finding some measure of solace, warmth and protection with the two men she trusted would take care of her. She was no fighter, and outwardly appeared to be holding together. Inside, the Queen of Mean's emotional and mental stability was a winner take all game of Jenga and the tower was wobbling more and more with each new strange they got word of. "Devin, we've already lost someone, don't go playing hero." "I'm not," his smile did nothing to reassure her. "Hermes gotta do, what Hermes do, right? Texts or no, I'm the fastest. I can help make sure we're all safe and message traffic is getting relayed. You'll be safe with Cade," Devin glanced to the six-foot-four tower of muscle and Cade knew that look silently told him that he was trusting his sister’s lover with his world. She wasn't just his sister, but his twin sister. Losing her would be like losing half of his soul. It was a twin thing. "If he's crazy enough to sleep with you, he's crazy enough to punch a dragon for you. I'll meet up with you guys soon, okay?" She mustered a smirk at his bad joke and punched him in the arm playfully. "Okay, jerk. Love you." "Love you too, sis." He disappeared into the crowd as Cade tugged Marissa's hand gently to spur her back into motion. Stoically Cade moved through the people and towards where his Jeep was parked. "How can you be so calm?" Marissa asked the Terminator she was not dating, just sleeping with because they didn't want to put a label on it. "I'm not. I'm afraid, angry, and unfortunately for whatever squares off against us, determined. I will mourn when there is time. I will laugh at the memories, offer a moment of silence for the fallen, and if need be, cry tears that refuse to be kept in any longer. For now, though, Marissa, none of those things will help us or bring Charlie back, so I will place our enemy in my sights, and I will slowly squeeze the trigger of my fury until whatever took Charlie away from us is no more." “I’m so turned on right now,” she said out of nowhere. “Just thought you should know. So, you know… the faster we get this shit done...” ---===[@]===--- "Devin!" He'd barely made it thirty paces, his phone in hand, before he heard someone cry out to him. It was so cool being so... well, cool. He turned his head, looking towards camp Cassidy as his parents packed up for the day. Families were starting to take notice and their expressions read that something seemed 'off' about the direction the day was going. He ran over to the lovely redhead, the youngest of the Cassidy sisters, Laurie. "Hey, been awhile," he greeted her, and she tried to force a smile at his never-ending sense of humor in even the most trying of times. He'd just been over here talking to her just a couple hours prior. "Sean, is he-" "Yeah, yeah... he ran off to wherever it is you guys are supposed to go, I'm um, doing what I can, I guess." she thumbed back to her parents and the camp. "So, is it, uh... is it happening? He told me about Charlie... and Sophie." "Something is happening, but whatever it is, we're going to stop it." It wasn't intentional but he delivered the phrase with the confidence of a superhero. "Charlie, yeah... he's gone. Sophie? We don't know a hundred percent yet, but if she's alive, we'll find her." Neither teen noticed the Cassidy parents approaching from behind Laurie. Perhaps it was the chaos encircling their thoughts or the momentary meeting of their eyes that tore their attention away from anything going on in the world around them. It was Jack, Sean's father, clearing his throat as they approached that brought the two teens out of their silent reverie and back into reality. "Devin," Jack's voice was a firm, but fair greeting. Neither of the Cassidy parents approved of Devin spending time around their children, not after what he'd done to them for the last three years. The stories of his torture and abuse of the Cassidy siblings were cause for more than one argument in the household about going to the school and reporting him. Carolyn offered him a false smile forced through tightened lips. "Mom, dad," she looked to Devin, pleading with him silently and he offered her a slight nod of approval. "It's okay. Devin's one of them, like Sean." When they both sighed and offered a roll of the eyes in a silent curse to the heavens, Jack shook his head. "No, no..." she pleaded with them to understand. "He's okay. He's changed. Really, he's trying to be better and... that's saying a lot coming from me since I was seriously considering setting his motorcycle on fire a few weeks ago." Devin offered her a WTF glare with hurt in his eyes. "Don’t glare at me. You were a total jerk and had it coming." "Uh huh, still going to do it?" He jokingly asked her. "Might settle for slashing the tires," she said honestly. His joking expression faded fast as that was not the answer he was expecting. She shrugged innocently. "What? I've a lot of pent-up anger towards you." He barely noticed her playful grin as Jack spoke up. "Then, you'll be with my boy tonight?" His fatherly gaze settled on Devin, indicating that the time for jokes was done. "All of you. You'll see him safe?" "Sean," Carolyn's worry was evident in her voice. "Isn't a fighter." "You'd be surprised." Devin said honestly. He shifted back into Devin mode before someone noticed him being too serious. "Mr. Cassidy, Mrs. Cassidy... I'm not going to lie. What we are about to do is dangerous, but I'm sure he's already told you that we're the only ones who can do this. So, I know I'm a horrible influence on your kids, but we’re going to take Sean out tonight and we are probably going to be out way past curfew. There's going to be violence, possibly experimental recreational drug use and most likely, pre-marital sex, you know how us teens and our parties go, and we're gonna misbehave and make all kinds of noise until the job done,” his tone suddenly took the air of unsurpassed confidence. “But we are coming home." Jack stared for a long moment at Devin, unmoved by Devin's humor and unable to let go of three years of torture and abuse that he'd put his kids through. This was his life, his son's life, and if parenting had taught him anything it was that children never stopped surprising him. He offered Devin his hand, which the teenage boy accepted and was quickly locked in the tight, powerful grip of a man who worked hard for a living. Compassionately he spoke as a father, leaving the past in the past, for now. "You bring my son home, you hear me?" It was the most serious he'd sounded in a long time as Devin stood tall, like the man he was growing into and nodded his confirmation. "Yes, sir." "You guys, be careful, okay?" Laurie forced a worried smile as Jack let her friend(?) go. "We will." He turned to leave as Jack and Carolyn stood with their daughter, thankful that there were others more responsible than Devin Jauntsen looking after their son. "Devin, wait," like man leaving to go to war, Devin turned to look back to Laurie. She was already near him, running the distance between them as she called out. Her lips pressed to his cheek gently. It was nothing more than a simple kiss, but it carried with it a weight that said someone would miss him if he didn't come home. Her emerald eyes seemed to capture all that remained of summer's defiant surrender to winter's cold, shimmering with warmth. "For luck." He nodded. "For luck." ---===[@]===--- The air weft briefly, turning a violet hue, before Devin appeared with a vacuous 'bamf' standing not far from where Autumn was. With all that was going on, his sudden appearance startled her, and she jumped, offering him an icy glare. "Fuck, Devin!" "Sorry!" He apologized, matching Autumn's tone and volume. "It's not like I can knock!" He noticed Jason assisting Jacob and immediately he felt he understood why they'd called him. "Shit, Jacob..." he said quietly. "He okay? You need me to get him somewhere, hospital, maybe?" "No, no." With a quick shake of her head the red-haired teen declined the teleporter's offer to play ambulance and tucked her phone back into her pocket. "It looks worse than it is, I promise. We're taking him back to my parents' table so they can get him home and keep an eye on him." Glancing surreptitiously in her childhood friend's direction to see if he'd noticed Devin's abrupt appearance (and hoping he was still too out of it to care), Autumn tugged idly at the hem of her t-shirt. "Thanks, though," she added, as an afterthought. "Yeah, sure, no problem." Since everything seemed handled, he half shrugged and gave them a look. He seemed anxious and, in a hurry, like he wanted to get everyone to 'The Table' and start getting revenge for Charlie. "So... what's up then?" Jase kept them all moving as he supported the half-conscious, mumbling Jacob, eyes pausing their wary scrutiny of the surroundings long enough to look at Devin. "We texted you because Jacob was with Tawny." he said quietly, green gaze holding Devin's stare. "No sign of any violence other than to Jacob. It's likely she's been taken." He didn't say by whom. They all (except Jacob) knew who had taken the girl. He went on into the momentary silence. "We need to act together. That's why we're talking face to face." "And also," Autumn interjected quickly, her fingers twisting in the cotton fabric. "I really wanted to tell you in person. I know she's your friend, and that's not something you should have to read in a text." Devin about faced, cutting onto Jason's path and pressing his hand against Jason's chest to stop any further movement. "Woah, woah... the hell you mean 'likely been taken'? By whom?" If it weren't Charlie that had his guts in a knot a sudden sheen of dread washed over his face. Not her. Oh god, not her... not Tee... Not-Cody didn't seem a likely answer to him. It was broad daylight on a cloudless summer day... the idea of a monster or creature of the dark didn't seem likely to be able to get away with sneaking through this crowd of barbecuers and happy families. "The hell's going on? Who has Tawny?" He looked to the delirious Jacob and they noticed one of his hands tighten up into a white knuckled fist. Neither could be sure if he planned on using it, or if it was just the stress of the moment getting to him. "Jacob! Who has her!? Where is she!?" "I dunno... threw me..." Jacob blearily focused - or rather, tried to - on Devin. "Dev'n? Wh'n y' get here?" "He was hurled headfirst into a tree." Jason explained, shifting slightly so he was between Devin and the insensible Jacob. "Devin? Look at me." There was a note in Jason's voice, an edge of some undefined urgency usually lacking. "Tawny Shines, so we know who's taken her. We know where they are. We are going to get her back. Right after we hand Jacob off. Okay?" "Jesus fucking-" Autumn swore quietly but intensely, stepping in to get her shoulder under Jacob's arm as his balance wavered. "I just got him put back together, could you please not jump down his throat? It's not his fucking fault, Devin. Just-" God, what was with this freaking day?! "Uggghhh," she fumed aloud, an angry flush rising in her cheeks as she tried to keep her voice down. "Look, we thought you needed to know, and since you can fill everyone in faster than we can get back to Gar's table, this is where we're at right now." Jason saw it. That gleam in eyes that spoke to pure rage mingled with the myriad 'what ifs' now running through it. Jason had saw that look in Devin's eyes before, that moment right before he lashed out at Chet weeks ago. He knew Devin, like all beings of reason, had demons of his own, and although they remained quiet were never silenced. Calm as he may have seemed everyday they were always there waiting patiently for a reason to wake, take a long over due breath, and crawl back into his thoughts. In this moment, they were on a party line. He paced like he was consumed by the Dark Side and ready to rampage on anything and everyone. Any attempts he made to look like he was calm didn't fool either of his companions. The air around him warped and distorted, his eyes seemed to shimmer with streams violet and golden energy. His emotional state was quickly approaching 9000. "Whatever this thing is... or was... it's dead. If it hurt her, I swear..." he stopped there, obviously not sure how to follow up that threat. "And I'll help." Jason told him, letting the details of whatever dire vengeance Devin could not or would not articulate be left for future determination. He watched his unlikely friend, observing some manner of kinship in the rage on display, however diffuse it was. "We need to work together, though. All of us. Like Autumn said, best thing you can do right now is go get the others up to speed." He exchanged a look with the redhead. "I think we need to move right after we drop Jacob off. Grab bracelets for those that don't have them and get going." "Yeah. I don't know what I'm gonna tell my dad, but I guess we'll cross that bridge when we get to it." She glanced at the other two members of the so-called Fellowship, then back up at Jay. "Listen, if you guys want to go back, I can take care of him and catch up with you once I'm done with my family. It'll be faster, and you two can get everyone on the same page and moving forward." Jason shook his head almost immediately. "No. You'll get Jacob back faster with my help, and we are not leaving any one of us alone and vulnerable right now." "Jase. It's fine. Jacob is my priority, not everyone else's. Making sure people know what's up and coming up with a plan is more important. You're good at that," she stated firmly, then glanced back at the seething teleporter. "And you two are kind of in charge, I guess. So let's get it done." "She's right." Devin said. He was without quips or humor, not even a smile dared to wander to his lips. "Jason, go with Autumn. Cade's with Marissa. Pair up, handle Jacob, meet me at the table. I'll relay the news." "Devin, where's your bracelet?" Autumn asked absently as she noticed he wasn't wearing his. "Ellie has it." Devin took a deep breath. "Good thing too, or we wouldn't be having this conversation. Best if you keep my replacement for now, you can be my good judgement... because I'm almost out." Jason nodded in agreement and coaxed Jacob, not ungently, into motion again. "Let's get going, then. Let the others know what's going on, Devin." Wide blue eyes blinked incredulously at the pair as they either pretended she either hadn't spoken at all, or that she'd said something entirely different- she wasn't sure which. There was no mistaking the expression on her flushed features, though, which translated her thoughts as clearly as if they'd been written across her freckled forehead: What. The actual. Fuck? Jacob groaned softly, and the redhead sighed, her hand on his back. Right. Bigger problems. "I'm right here," she murmured as they started walking again, carefully picking a path out of the trees. "We're gonna head back to the table, okay? C'mon."
    2 points
  45. Shadowrun: The Rebootening. Coming soon.
    2 points
  46. "Smart, gorgeous, plucky, but she's not a liar. What you hear won't be easy, but every word of it is the truth." Both of the Allens watched Devin make his exit, and then Teresa looked at her daughter with that narrow, pointed suspicion in her eyes again. Devin? those eyes asked her. Really? Cassie sighed. She just wasn't ready to try to explain any of that and what she'd actually come here to explain. She waved a hand as if trying to clear a cloud of smoke away. "These...abilities we have, they sort of pushed us into a very old and very weird, um, conflict. A fight that's been going on for a long time here in Shelly." "A fight," her mother replied flatly, immediately not liking the sound of that. "What kind of fight?" Cassandra felt herself wanting to deflect, but pressed down on herself. Tell the truth, or you'll never forgive yourself. "There's a kind of...parasitic force that operates in the town, and the area around it," she said. "It can influence people, it has powers a little like ours, but sort of...the opposite. It's a big reason why Shelly has so many disappearances and violent crime even though it's such a small town. It stirs people up, then kind of feeds on all the pain and anger and bad emotions that result. And when it gets strong enough, it sort of...takes people." Teresa could only repeat again, "Takes people?" "Yeah. The...the parasite itself isn't physically here. It's in a kind of, um, bubble, I guess? Like a tiny alternate dimension attached to our world. When it gets strong enough, it can reach across and into our world. When it does, it takes someone from here, over to there. And then the whole cycle repeats after a few years. It's been going on for centuries. Before the English settlers came, the natives who lived here knew about this place." "Okay...okay..." Cassie's mom put her hands to the sides of her head and just held them there, eyes closed for a moment. "Jesus, this sounds so..." She opened her eyes. "It sounds like a book, Cass. Like a direct to paperback book. This is real?" Doubt danced in her eyes, a desperate sort of doubt. A needful doubt. "It's real," Cassandra replied softly. "And we have to stop this...this parasite. Which means we're going to have to force our way into its messed-up dimension and confront it directly. And...I don't know how that's going to go, so I had to tell you. Just in case..." Teresa shook her head sharply and said, "Stop. Just stop. Stop right there. That's enough." She started to reach across the table, but Cassandra pulled her hands back. "I have to finish, Mom," she said. "Just...hear me out. No one else can do this. Okay? It has to be us." "You're children, Cassie," Teresa countered...somehow both trying to placate, but also starting to show veins of anger pulsing under the skin. "There must be other people with abilities like this. Adults. Trained..." "Trained in what? Interdimensional combat? Dark God hunting?" Cassandra shook her head. "Please just listen. For a second. It's on us. I know it's not...fair, and it's not right, but it is what IS. This parasite is only going to get stronger the longer we wait. It's infected one of our..." she paused. The word 'friend' didn't really describe Cody. "...schoolmates, and he's killing people. The police can't stop him. We can, but the creature, the real threat, it'll just keep making more. We have to stop it at the source. There's no other way." "No. I can't let you." Teresa took a deep breath and steadied herself. "I hear everything you're saying, but I would be a failure as a parent if I let you do any of this." "Mom, you know I'm going to be a reporter right? Not the kind that does...movie reviews or human interest stories. I'm going to be taking risks, sometimes putting my life on the line. That's going to happen." "This is different!" Teresa suddenly exploded. "You're not talking about taking risks here! You're talking about...about...a bunch of kids taking on some kind of..." She trailed off, unable to articulate what she was thinking without sounding like an idiot in her own ears. Finally she concluded with what she was feeling instead. "I can't lose you, Cass," she confessed, eyes tearing up. "You're all I have left." Cassandra took a deep breath. "...which brings us to the next piece of news." As her mother wiped her eyes and gave her a suspicious look, Cassandra took her cellphone out and called up the photo of her father. She held it out for Teresa to see. "What is this?" "It's dad. He's alive." Teresa grabbed the phone and brought it closer to her face with shaking hands. "He's at the prison right now...which I should probably let you know is currently being run by a...rogue scientist." Her mother's eyes flicked up from the phone to focus on Cassie. "What?" Cass sighed and shook her head. "Okay, there's a LOT going on, but I want to sort of focus on the immediate stuff. I will give you a full run-down as soon as I can, but the short version is that the government set up secret labs around the area to study the weird things going on, and one of the scientists went crazy and set up a secret lab in the prison and dad must have seen something he shouldn't have so they...faked his death and brainwashed him so he doesn't remember who he was." Teresa's face hadn't changed at all during the explanation. After a moment she repeated in a hard voice, "What?" "...moooom..." "No, I'm being serious. You knew this? How long have you known this?" "Not that long? And before you even go there, I didn't tell you before because you wouldn't believe me unless I did ALL of this, and...and...I didn't even know how to START. And we were busy training to go up against the Dark..." "The Dark?!" "...that's what we call the parasite." Teresa set the phone down and pushed it across the table back to Cassandra. "Well obviously we need to get in touch with the police. The FBI maybe. And Cassie, they might be able to handle this 'Dark' thing too! You don't..." "They CAN'T, mom!" "...KNOW!" Teresa finished over her. "Okay? You don't know! They might have a whole squad of...of...people like you and your friends, only professionals." Cassandra shook her head. "They don't! And I DO know. The things we can do, the powers we have...they're because of something happening in Shelly too. It's all happening HERE. All of it. The good and the bad. Even if the government knew, and it only kind of partly does, they don't have anyone who has powers working for them." With supreme effort, Teresa put that aside and persisted on another tack, "...all right, saying you're right about that for the moment, the situation with your father is different. No...dark parasites or strange abilities there. That's just kidnapping and assault and...I don't even know what brainwashing is, but I'm sure it's illegal." "Yeah, but the prison...the company, and this scientist...they know what they're doing. The police and FBI won't find anything. And then he'll know that WE know, and we'll probably never see dad again." Cassandra drew in a deep breath, and reached out across the table to her mom's hands. "I'm going to get him out. Me and my friends. We can hit them before they even know we're there. Once he's out of there, you and me...we can talk to him. We can break through what they did." Now her own eyes were watering. "We can have him back, mom. You just have to trust me." In a quick motion, Teresa grabbed her daughter's hands and squeezed. "I trust you, Cass...it's just...this is terrifying, okay?" She had to wipe her eyes. "You're not even out of high school, and...I can't even understand any of this. How am I supposed to feel?" "I'm scared too, mom," Cass agreed. "I just...couldn't do this without coming clean. Even though I knew it would be hard for you to hear. I don't think we're going to lose, but...I didn't want to just disappear and have you never know what happened. This thing we're doing, it's worth it...it's worth the risk, but it is a risk." "Oh baby," her mother sobbed, and suddenly pulled her hands away so she could walk around the table, sit down by Cassandra and enfold her in her arms. "My sweet little girl..." For what felt like a long time, Cassandra let herself be rocked slowly. Finally Teresa took a deep breath and looked down deep inside herself. She didn't know what to say, but she needed to say something. There was a lot of emotional anguish in the way, uncertainty and fear and loneliness seething...but under all that was something that had always been true. Saying it was harder than she ever expected it would be. "I...trust you," Teresa said at last. "If you say you have to do it...if you say you can do it...then I trust you." Cassandra felt something in herself start to give way, and she tightened her arms around her mother. "You think I can do it?" she asked, almost afraid to hear the answer. Teresa laughed through her tears. "Honey...when you were a little girl, you threw yourself at a huge corporate prison so hard, and so often, they had to threaten to sue to make you stop. And that was before you had...psychic powers or whatever you have. There is nothing you can't do, Cassie. Nothing. So...keep your eyes open, and you think things through, and you go save the world. And then save your dad." "It's just saving Shelly, I think," Cassie giggled into her mom's shoulder. "Well," replied mother comfortingly, "One thing at a time."
    2 points
  47. He's a plant. He's a spy. He's persistent. He's cute. Expectations for the conversation rolled out in her head...not evidence of prognosticary powers, but rather just her trying to get a handle on confusion and a creeping unease. Was he stalking her? Or did he just live around here now, and have similar tastes? New York City was a big place, but anyone who lived there knew that people didn't mingle in the entire thing. You had haunts, you had neighborhoods you stuck with. Maybe Ravi just had the same haunts. Or maybe he just knew hers. So...worst-case it then. He worked for Peltier directly, or maybe the board of The Echidna Group. Somehow she'd put a foot wrong, left a trace, and they were onto her. Ravi was being maneuvered into a position where he could take action when, and if, she tried anything big. So far, from their perspective, Amelia had been nibbling at the edges...working from public domain and smaller breaches of subsidiaries. The breach she was decoding now would be a different story, but Ravi had shown up before she'd started that. So yeah, a spy most likely. She'd get drunk, invite him over...and he'd have a chance to plant bugs, maybe try to install a keylogger onto her computer or something. What to do about it? She could just turn him down cold, and she was sure he'd leave. Then someone else would show up in a few days. Someone she might not catch in time. Maybe a friend they could buy, or get dirt on. And...there was no escaping that all of this could be a paranoid delusion and he might just be a guy who'd been hanging around town. "Ravi," said Amelia, turning her head to look up at him after a relatively long pause after hearing his voice. "Hey there. Have a seat, I'll buy you a drink." She waved at the bartender, pushed her glass at him and held up two fingers. She had no idea what Ravi drank, but fuck it. If he was getting a free drink he was getting what she wanted. If he hated it, more for her. Then Amelia took a deep breath and sat up straighter. "I'm doing kind of shitty, not going to lie. How's America been treating you?"
    2 points
  48. "...and that about covers the basics." Devin said as he and his impromptu 'date', Ellie, walked through all the various picnic settings of the other families who had gathered for the Carousel. She'd locked arms with him, keeping close and doing her utmost to absorb all the knowledge Devin was spilling her way. A crash course in 2019 teenage etiquette seemed far more complicated than her first training regiment. And she thought the Teulu had rules... "...what if violence is directed upon me without provocation on my part? Surely I'm permitted-" The dazzling blonde looked at him, her eyes narrowing in curiosity. "No." Devin chuckled. "You are not home, you are on Earth. We don't, or at least, the well adjusted don't just mete out death as a solution to our problems." "How has your species advanced this far?" She shook her head in confusion as she looked around at all the families laughing and playing away their day, oblivious to the fact that an alien from another realm walked among them. "It's like you have nothing to contribute to the other realms besides breeding stock." "Baby Yoda." Devin retorted with swiftly. "That's us. We invented Baby Yoda. Oh, and peanut butter, and French kissing. Pretty sure America invented too." "I'm not very familiar with your culture, but even I know that French things are the product of a place called 'France'." The athletic blonde squeezed his arm in warning that she knew he was trying to put one over on the tourist. "French-Americans." Devin shrugged. "Prolly immigrants, searching for a new life and really like licking the powdered sugar of their toast... and BAM, French toast, French kissing. A total two'fer." "The act you portray of the Fool, Devin, it does not fool me," she said calmly. Like Jase her eyes were never just still. They moved and scanned every person, every object, she was perceiving possible threats from all sides and assessing their surroundings with a trained, heightened awareness. "You are a god, as you put it. Yet you walk among insects. I do not understand you, but I will." "There's nothing wring with these people, they're good and you know, Xena, Warrior Teulu, a little love might do you some good." He fist bumped someone from school as they walked past another group of teenagers their age. They didn't take notice of the stares the the others teens were giving them as Ellie moved among them with fresh eyes drinking in her blonde hair, athletic frame and cheek bones that would give Marissa a run for her money. She didn't know it, but Ellie was swiftly becoming the talk among the male students and in less than the half hour since her arrival people were wondering where she'd transferred from. Small towns. Got to love them. "Not everything is a war you know, Ellie. You're safe here, more or less." "It's when you feel the safest," she said softly. "That you're not." "There you are!" Misti and Carl caught sight of their son as the couple were passing by the Fingleman's picnic area. Devin groaned an rolled his eyes as his mother waved him over. "Of course you know our son, Devin." Swiftly he was snatched up and with her arm around her son she presented him like a display. "I believe he has a few classes with your daughter." The nail digging into the back of his collar told him that was his cue. "Uh, yeah! Mr. and Mrs. Finger-uh ba-uh, man. Fingleman. Sophie's awesome. We get on great." He turned on his 'bullshit' smile as he rolled his shoulders, hinting for his mom to back off. "Well, have you heard from her recently? She hasn't answered her phone today." Mr. Fingleman asked. "Hmm? Oh, uh...," Charlie an Sophie, to Devin's knowledge, were consummating their new found relationship with lots of sex. Like, tons of it. Now, the last thing one did was rat out their homies, so Devin being Devin who was so smart and so slick, he thought up a lie and he thought it up quick. "Honestly, you probably won't answer it for awhile. See, her and Charlie are big time theatre nerds and ol' Chuck got his hands on a preemo rendition of Les Misérables. The whole thing performed live, Charles was going gaga over it. Last I heard they were making a day of checking it out, singing all the songs and taking a lot of notes. He trying to push it as a venue for this years school production. I wouldn't doubt if they had it cranked to eleven and were singing along. It's what los- lovers do. Of theatre. Lovers of theatre. We're all meeting up in a bit, if she's still ghosting you by then, I'll personally see to it she checks in." "We'd appreciate it," Mrs. Fingleman replied with a mother's concerned smile. The one that said she was worried still but she was glad her daughter such good friends. Neither of the Finglemans notice Carl, Devin's father, standing off to one side and slowly moving his finger through the universal hand sign for intercourse. Devin nodded swiftly, yet conspicuously. His father pursed his lips and made the 'I knew it' face. "Who's your friend, Devin?" Carl asked, intentionally putting his son on the spot again. He was overcome with a certain measure of pride that his son was in the company of such a beautiful young lady. Devin turned hi head to where Ellie was patiently waiting and observing the conversation. "Oh! Sorry, uh, everyone this is Ellie. She's um, new to Shelly. I'm showing her around." "New?" Misti narrowed her eyes in suspicion as she'd not heard of any new families moving to Shelly. "Where did you move from? I'd love to meet your parents." "I did not 'move' here," she said calmly. "I ventured through the Void and through a wayfarers portal I found myself here, where I was to begin my search for your son. Teir fa Thunn is where I call home, I seek to return there and Devin has agreed to assist me in getting back there." Had he the presence of mind to do so Devin may have bothered to count the number of blinks in the awkward silence to tally up just how screwed he might be. He didn't mind so much that it was his parents, but the Fingleman's were right there...
    2 points
  49. "Nowhere in particular," she shrugged absently while the two stood up and disposed of their plates. "It's not like there is really much to do here, it's Shelly. Just walk with me and talk for a bit, I told Jason I'd have a talk with him in about twenty minutes, so walk with me until then and we'll meet up afterwards. Where's Ru-Ru, I figured she'd be on your heels?" "She met up with a few of her friends from school," he offered her his arm and she quickly locked her with his and leaned against him affectionately. She played loved and lovingly so well he had to wonder if, for all her knowledge of etiquette and decorum if she really understood how a heart worked and what affect her faux affections had on him. "So, she's off doing that. She wanted to tag along, but I asked that she give us some time together." She looked up at him with a 'why' sort of expression upon her brow. The look hardened his heart a bit as he was reminded that all of this was an act to her. "For, um, you know... appearances. We don't have a lot of opportunities to have everyone see us together like this. You know, help sell it." His reassuring grin was a forced mask that hid disappointment in knowing she'd not understand his feelings one bit. "Actually, that's good thinking. Especially with Chet and the other cliques thinking they're going to launch a popularity coup," her eyes narrows and her nails dug into Cade's forearm. "Also, I'm joining the cheerleading team tomorrow. So, yeah, there's that." "Ow," he gently curled his fingers under hers and loosened her grip. "I'm not planning and coups, so if you could leave my blood in my body, that'd be great, thanks." "Sorry," she winced in apology. "It just has me worked up. You okay?" He nodded, smiling at her and gently placing his hand over hers, more to keep her finger flat on his arm than to be affectionate. "I'm fine. Those work," he mused about the sharpness of her claw-like nails.. "You got your money's worth. So, what made you decide on joining the cheer team?" "Well, it's a two-fold plan. See, my mother won't stop bothering me about how she was on the cheer leading team and she was dating the football star and she already had scholarships lined up and she,-" "I-I get it," Cade weaseled in an interruption as swiftly as he could, raising a hand to stop the further flow of torrential vitriol and contempt Marissa shared for her mother. "-well, it's infuriating!" She huffed. "I'm hoping if I follow a few footsteps she'll shut up and get off my case for a bit. I'm not her. I'm not going to marry someone I hate, give up a career I worked so hard on and become a hate filled, holier-than-thou harpy like she is." Cade wondered if she actually heard the words she spoke sometimes, because that or, "So, Jase is doing math tutoring... might wanna look into that? Maybe?" "What?" She looked up her bae, puzzled by his offer. "Why?" "No reason," he shrugged. "Anyway," she blew him off and continued. "Second, I need a bit more to pad my scholarships. Apparently my summer internship with the mayor isn't enough to convince top colleges that I can rule the worl-..." she paused and narrowed her eyes with a smirk and a shrug. She corrected herself in a humorous tone. "Okay, run a business. I practically ran this town for three months, Cadums. It's not fair. My proposals for community outreach were bomb as hell. Like that little locally owned soap company!" "Didn't you want them to hand out their soap to people outside the Wal-Mart?" He recalled. "Yeah, where all the dirty people congregate," she replied with a confident pride in her voice. "And it was edible! Totally all-natural." "Marissa, my dad had to shut them down, the soap wasn't edible, it was toxic, it caused rashes and breakouts. It was making people sick, a few cases were almost fatal." Her escort reminded her, knowing his dad had broke the company up about six weeks ago after reports flooded into the Sheriff's Department. "They're swamped in lawsuits right now." "Oh, I know! We knew before the cease and desist, but the dirty people would have possibly used it, and, well, sometimes God works too slow. The hospital would have a steady flow of revenue and we'd be down a lot of filthy people in Shelly. Win-win." The way she spoke with such confident conviction chilled his blood. "Knowing that, you now what she did?" "Can't imagine," he sighed. "She tossed the proposal!" She fumed, tossing up her free hand in righteous indignation. "The nerve of that woman. Who does she thing she is?" "Hmm. The Mayor. That's my guess." He nodded, confident in his answer. "So, anyway: the sequel, this will look good and doing the dances and organizing the school events will certainly help too." The two walked on for a few more minutes, even running into Haruka for a few moments where the news of a movie night elicited cheers and high pitched squees of delight. Having a hot brother already put her in good a place a lot of her fellow classmates, and now, her knowing and 'hanging out' with his super popular, girlfriend was elevating the girl to a swift status of enviable among the junior classmen of the rather meager, Shelly School District. Still as they parted ways the girls gossiped about how her bother was super cute, admitted to being just a bit jealous that he wasn't single anymore. On the other hand they were totally prepared to sign their souls away to whomever was listening for just one ounce of Marissa's confidence, beauty, poise, and popularity, oblivious to what price she had paid for it. The two parted and decided on a meeting spot after her talk. He asked if she'd like for him to stay but she felt safe enough around all the people at the carousel, Jason might be crazy but he was intelligent enough to not get caught by murdering someone in broad daylight with several hundred witnesses. After a splash of hand sanitizer from her car to complete the washing away of all those sauces and a quick reapplication of her lipstick she patiently waited for Jason by leaning against her car and scrolling through a variety of social media distractions.
    2 points
  50. The Keane Residence, 0830. -ish. It was the smell of coffee, rather than the sound of the dogs or the brilliant sunlight pouring through her window, that roused Autumn from her dreams. Blinking against the light, she groaned and dragged a pillow over her face. She’d just been sitting in front of a campfire with Jason, in a tiny ring of orange glowing amidst the deep blue-black nothingness of the woods at night, and he was smiling that little half-smile of his over the rim of his mug. What had he just said? She frowned, trying to remember the sound of the syllables, the shape of his mouth, the exact cadence of his speech, but it was already fading. Ugh. Why was it that when people talked to you in dreams, it made sense, but afterwards it just dissolved into gibberish? Or maybe it was nonsense to start with, and because you were dreaming you just got to decide what it meant. Or maybe… She sighed, flinging the pillow and the blankets off as she peered up at the sunlit ceiling overhead, the faint outline of pale green stars just visible here and there in the wash of brilliant white. Maybe she’d just dreamed in Russian, or something. Crazier things have happened, right? Like finding a radio that changes dimensions. Like seeing actual monsters. Like rescuing cats from a secret prison, or discovering that aliens are real, or that you and other people at your school have super-powers. Or, you know. Like dating someone who actually speaks Russian. She smiled sleepily at that, shifting around a little on the striped sheets. Or like… She blinked again as something else occurred to her. Going to sleep on the couch and waking up in your own room? As she sat upright, the redhead’s sleep-fogged brain struggled to piece together the series of events that had somehow led to this particular outcome. She swung her feet over the edge of the bed, letting them dangle there for a moment as she stared blankly at the haphazard arrangement of clothes on the chair nearby. They’d been watching Braveheart, she was pretty sure, and she didn’t remember coming upstairs, but… here she was. So, how…? Almost fully awake now, she could just make out the drone of conversation from downstairs. Voices. Her mom’s, and a deeper, more masculine one- Suddenly everything clicked into place. “Dad!” she yelled, bounding out of bed and down the stairs, accompanied by a chorus of excited canine voices as the dogs rushed to meet her. “Morning guys,” she greeted them in passing, idly reaching down to pet whichever happened to be closest on her way to the kitchen. “...definitely your daughter,” he was just saying as Autumn rounded the corner and, with an excited whoop, launched herself at the father she hadn’t seen in what seemed like months. “Ooofff, hey, careful. Coffee,” Ian chided her with a grin and a one-armed hug, absorbing the impact of her energetic embrace as he held the half-full mug up and away to avoid the fallout. With a bemused shrug, Dana took it adroitly from his hand and set it on the island, watching as her typically not-a-morning-person offspring squeezed the breath from him before she’d even said hello. “Hey, sweetheart,” he greeted her, returning the hug with both arms this time and planting a kiss atop the dishevelled red-gold curls she hadn’t yet bothered to comb. “How’s my little firecracker doing this morning, hmm?” “‘m good,” came the pleased reply as they swayed back and forth like that for a few moments. She didn’t even protest the childish nickname, cringey as it was, since he was the only one who’d ever used it anyway. ...Well, and even apart from that, it was a little reminder that even in Billings or Bozeman or Missoula or Helena, he was still her dad. He still remembered. Note to self: do not let him call me that in front of anyone today. The grin in her mind refused to remain hidden there, irrepressibly curving the corners of Autumn’s mouth upward as she squeezed him tightly. He was home. Finally. “Missed you.” “I know. I missed you, too.” “What time did you get in?” she asked, grabbing an oversized mug and glancing back in Ian’s direction as she poured herself a “cup” of coffee. “Eh, a little later than I intended,” her father admitted sheepishly, exchanging a look with Dana over Autumn’s head as he reclaimed his own mug from the counter. “You two were already out.” He smiled, reaching out to tousle her hair fondly as she grinned and ducked away with a grumble of half-hearted protest. “So I thought we’d head out a little early today, find a good spot to set up and just spend the day together. The three of us.” “Cool. Yeah, that sounds good.” The girl’s nose crinkled slightly as she smiled, stirring sugar and cream into her drink. “It does,” the older Keane woman agreed. “Maybe she’ll even introduce you to her boyfriend.” “Boyfriend?” Ian blinked, pale blue eyes wide as he looked from his daughter to his wife. “You mean, not…?” Dana shook her head: No. She didn’t mean Jacob. Not anymore, at least. Comprehension dawned, and he nodded, taking a quick sip from his mug. “That’s right. I remember now. Your mother did say something about a… camping trip, I think?” He glanced at his daughter for confirmation, and she rewarded him with a smile and a quick nod, her amber-speckled features going faintly pink. “Mhmm, and he came over for dinner after that.” she replied cautiously, checking from the corner of her eye to see if her mom planned to explain why, exactly, he’d been invited to stay. The auburn-haired vet caught the none-too-subtle glance, and smirked. ‘He did,” Dana added breezily. “And he was a great help, too. Very hands-on.” Warm hazel eyes danced with mischief as she arched an eyebrow at her daughter, whose rosy cheeks flushed to a deeper scarlet at the memory. Amused, she turned to check the breakfast quiche in the oven then, leaving her concerns about the swiftness of their developing relationship for another conversation. It was still early in the day, after all, and Ian ought to have the chance to meet Jason for himself before more serious parental discussions were had. “Oh? Good to hear,” he replied distractedly, glancing at his watch. It wasn’t quite nine yet, but Warden Crocker had already called to let them know what he and Jacob were bringing for the day-long picnic- he also suspected it was to find out if he’d actually made it back to Shelly this time. It was hard to fault him for that, the tall real estate broker reflected with a pang of guilt that rendered the mouthful of black brew he swallowed slightly bitter on his tongue. “So, is this new guy a junior, too, this year?” “Yeah, we have Chemistry together.” There was a moment of what definitely felt like an awkward silence in the kitchen, and Autumn’s eyes widened. “The class, I mean,” she clarified quickly, groaning inwardly at her father’s expression and wishing fervently that she could crawl inside her coffee mug. “Well, and, uh, Study Hall.” “Chemistry,” her father reiterated flatly, warily glancing from her to Dana as the latter stifled a laugh and resolutely switched off the oven, refusing to return the look she could feel being burned into her back. “Well that’s… That’s great, sweetie. Just great.” ------------- Later that morning. “They’ll be fine,” the pretty vet reassured her husband, smiling as she scratched under Zee’s chin. The Keanes had been loading up the Jeep for a little while now, packing it with enough coolers and bags to feed and entertain the trio for at least a week, but it wasn’t intended solely for them: sandwiches and cold salads for lunch, ribs and thick pork chops to grill later, sodas and iced tea and a couple of six packs of summery IPAs and traditional lagers. “They’ve got plenty of water out, and lots of shade if it does turn warm this afternoon. We’re not going to be gone all day,” she reminded him, watching as their energetic daughter hefted the last bag of ice into a plastic storage container and snapped the lid shut. “How do you think they manage when I’m at work and Autumn’s at school?” She paused for a moment and, tentatively, rested her hand on his. “It’ll be fine.” “Fine, or fine?” Autumn interjected with a grin, going up on her tiptoes to give both parents a kiss on the cheek. Dana rolled her eyes at that, smiling, and shook her head. “I’m gonna do one last door check and grab my phone. Anything you guys want me to get while I’m in there?” Her father patted his pockets, frowning a little, then shrugged and offered her an easy smile. “No, no, I think I’ve got everything.” His gaze moved over her shoulder, catching his wife’s eye as the paternal expression softened slightly. “Everything I need, anyway.” He didn’t miss Autumn’s requisite grimace of teenaged disgust at the thought of parental romance, or the softly-murmured “Gross,” under her breath as she turned and jogged back up to the house with the dogs at her heels. He shrugged again, a sort of uncomfortable one-shouldered gesture Dana immediately recognized as one her child had adopted. “Parents,” he opined laconically, opening the passenger door for his bride. “Totally,” she replied, deadpan, and climbed inside. “So, this new guy,” Ian began cautiously, leaning against the side of the SUV. “You’ve met him. Is he… I mean, what’s he like? Jacob’s a good kid. Good guy, I guess.” He corrected himself, realizing that a seventeen-year-old wasn’t much of a kid anymore. Not really. “I thought they got along really well. I mean, hell, they grew up together, and then-” With a sigh, he gestured vaguely, helplessly, toward the house. “‘And then’, yeah,” Dana replied thoughtfully, nodding as she followed his reflection in the side mirror. There was no need to elaborate further on that particular point; Owen’s passing had hit a few people pretty hard, his granddaughter especially. Until recently, seeing Autumn taking interest in other people and going out again, she hadn’t realized exactly how hard the girl had taken it- or even how hard she’d taken it herself. And then last night… Well, the air felt a little clearer, didn’t it? “I kind of half-expected them to get married right out of high school, to be honest. And I like Jacob, I really do, and maybe they’ll work things out and find each other again later. I’m just…” She sighed, thinking back on the weird charge in the atmosphere when her daughter and the Bannon boy had been in the kitchen, the pair so intent on each other that at times she’d almost wondered if she’d even really been present there in the room. It wasn’t exactly reassuring, but the very nature of that intensity, and their youth, all but dictated that it couldn’t last long. The brightest flames burned quickest, after all. “I’m just glad,” she finally allowed, “that I don’t have to worry about that for her anymore.” “Mmmm.” The reply was noncommittal, Ian watching the house as his wife watched him. “Jason Bannon, you said?” “I did. As for what he’s like?” She paused, her expression pensive; there really wasn’t a satisfying answer to that. “He’s… Well, it’s hard to say.” Dana smiled as her husband glanced at the mirror, meeting her eyes through the reflective glass. “I guess you’ll just have to see for yourself.” Oddly, it was easier talking about her daughter’s shiny new relationship than it was to discuss her own nearly twenty-year-old one, and the two fell quiet after a moment, listening to the small but beloved pack of fosters they’d taken in huffing and whining and yelping softly as they gamboled about in the front yard. Autumn’s father opened his mouth as a thought occurred to him, something he felt he ought to have said already, when the girl herself came bounding down the porch steps, pausing to distribute head scratches and belly rubs aplenty before heading over to the car. “‘Kay, all set.” Clambering into the crowded back seat, she checked her phone out of habit and tucked it in the pocket of her hoodie as Ian closed the door. She’d obviously fixed her hair a little, added a few hints of makeup, but otherwise hadn't fussed too much over her appearance; maybe this boyfriend thing wasn't such a big deal. Nothing to worry about, he reassured himself. “So,” he tried again, getting situated himself and glancing at his pink-cheeked offspring in the rearview mirror. “This Jason guy. How’d you guys meet? What’s he like?” Dana snorted softly under her breath and turned, watching the house disappear behind them. True to form, if Ian wanted something, he’d try all avenues available to get it. It made him a great realtor, but an annoying partner sometimes. Shrugging, the restless redhead peered conspicuously out the window, ignoring the warmth creeping up the sides of her face. How was she supposed to describe him to her dad, of all people, when Jason Effing Bannon was still a mystery to her? Maybe always would be. Huh. “I mean, he’s kind of-” She paused, pursing her lips as the trees whizzed past. “Different. But he should be there today. I hope. So, I guess you can meet him and see for yourself?” With an exasperated sigh, Ian returned his gaze briefly to his wife- who was also staring out the window- and turned out onto the highway. “What is this, a conspiracy?” “Nope. It’s a mutiny,” Dana quipped, cutting her eyes at him. “While the captain’s away, the crew will play, or something like that.” Muffled laughter from the back seat answered her, but her husband’s expression was less amused. Even if Autumn hadn’t caught the edge hidden in her mother’s joke, he had, and it stung. Moreso because it was true, and he had no right to deny it. “Ahh, that must be why the rum’s gone, then,” he replied with a taut smile, and a levity he didn’t quite feel. Labor Day, indeed: he was apparently going to have to work his ass off to get this right.
    2 points
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