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Posts posted by Bannon

  1. OOC Note:  Bannon will be at home after the events in 'Fury'.  If anyone seeks him out on Friday night, he'll be up till around midnight-ish, tending his plants then reading and smoking on the porch.


  2. “Don’t you ever tame your demons, but always keep them on a leash.”

    ((This takes place shortly after Jason leaves Atomic Aftermath.  Warning:  The following contains scenes of violence some may consider extreme.))

    Liam had come home after the pain of his stricken stomach had faded and whatever that fucking bitch Lona had done to him had seemed to wear off.  He was certain she’d done something… Maybe she’d kicked him harder than he thought, and ruptured something inside.  Pulling up his sweater, he examined his stomach in the mirror – no marks.  No bruising or weird lumps.  He prodded tentatively, then harder, and felt nothing.  He sat down and lit up a joint, turning the TV on to help him think, and pondering for a while, but came up with no decent reason why a touch of Avalon’s foot should make him hurt so damn bad.


    One thing wasn’t hard to understand.  She’d told him to leave town like some crazy psycho woman, pressing a sharp stick to his throat like she was going to use it… but she hadn’t.  Why’d she been so intent on making him leave town?  Liam was sure she was probably going to run straight for the sheriff, but maybe she wouldn’t.  Maybe, he considered with a small smug grin, she couldn’t.  After all, it was her word against his, and he could establish an alibi easily enough.  His mom was upstairs, dosed out of her mind on pills and booze, but she’d swear blind to the sheriff that she’d heard him come in shortly after the game had ended, just as she’d done for him over a dozen other mishaps.  Liam nodded as he considered.  Yeah.  He’d gotten away with it, and just needed to make sure that none of Little Lona’s little freak friends tried anything.  Not that they’d be able to do much – he was a couple years older and bigger than most of them, even the glamazon quarterback.  And Cade Allister, though huge, was too much a daddy’s boy to go all baseball-Batman on a guy.

    He recalled something he’d heard, about Jason Bannon nearly gutting Cody Sikes with a hayhook back at the fair, and experienced a moment’s disquiet which he shook off easily enough after a brief chill.  The same booze that had fuelled his attack on Avalon was also buoying his courage.  Bannon was sixteen years old, a Junior.  Smart, and his dope was, well, dope.  But seriously, fuck that gangly piece of trash.

    Yeah.  It was all coming up Liam.

    He went through to the kitchen of the small home, peering into the fridge to see if there were any leftovers. Straightening up with a box of half-eaten noodles, he closed the fridge door and turned to look straight into the pale eyes of Jason Bannon.

    The teen was standing outside his kitchen window looking in, his face pale in the fluorescent light of the kitchen.  His expression was that of someone considering a curiosity under glass, head tilted slightly to one side.

    “Th’ fuck do you want, freak?” Liam called mockingly.  “Gonna stare at me while I piss, too?”  He snerked, forking a mouthful of noodles between his lips.  Then he noticed the look in Bannon’s eyes.  It was a look that didn’t belong in the eyes of anything human.

    The eyes blazed as though backlit by the fires of hell.

    Something grabbed him and slammed him up against the refrigerator, causing him to drop the box of takeout as his head cracked against the appliance.  Then the same something picked him up like a toy and hurtled him into the kitchen table, cracking his head against that too.  It was as though someone had looped a long scarf around his head and was using the tether to bash him off the furniture.  A third surge of force, and he flew straight up into the light fitting on the ceiling, the cheap strip bulb and it’s plastic cover shattering against his back.  He felt fragments digging painfully into him even as he registered he was falling back towards the table below.

    He landed, smashing the thing to pieces, splinters gouging his face even as a hand grabbed his hair and pulled him upright once more.  He flailed for purchase with his feet barely touching the floor, his own hands going up to grab his attacker’s hand.  But there was no hand.

    There was no-one in the room.

    Even as he realized this, through the haze of blood over one eye he saw Jason staring at him with that intent, hellish predatory fury.  Blood was trickling from the lean youth’s nostril, but his concentration did not waver as he smiled a thin, merciless smile.  Liam tried to understand what was happening, but through the chaos if his thoughts it seemed clear that it was Jason doing this, somehow.  And it was because of Lona.

    And there was no sign of remorse or restraint in that stare.

    He pissed himself, then.  Dangling by a painful invisible grip on his hair, Liam pissed himself while Bannon watched.

    “Nuuhh…” he whined softly, shaking his head as best he could.  He realised dimly that his jaw had been broken, it hurt when he tried to speak.  A thought came.  His mother!  She was sound asleep, bombed out on pills… but surely If he screamed the neighbours would hear and-

    Even as he opened his mouth to scream a second invisible, intangible hand clamped on his throat, hard enough to stifle his cries as he was sent slamming into the wall, then the floor, then dragged through the splintered remains of the table with terrific force.  It felt like Cade Allister was working him over – fuck, it felt like Cade and Cade’s dad were working him over.  Mostly senseless, his face was pressed up against the glass of the kitchen window inches from Bannon’s.

    “If and when you wake up, you will confess what you tried to do.”  Jase told him calmly, green eyes boring into Liam’s single open one. “You’ll say nothing about me.  Nothing about my being here.  Blame two big guys… a gang of Nepalese midgets… I don’t care.  Because if you try to finger me, or avoid confessing… I’ll know.  And then I will finish the job, and take my time over it.”  He leaned forward so his nose was almost against the glass, his voice a hiss.  “There will be nowhere to run.  Nod if you understand, cockroach.”

    Liam slowly nodded.  Jason stepped back from the window.

    “You’ll live tonight because I think it might actually distress my friends if I kill you. Even Lona.  Something that baffles me, but perhaps I will understand one day.  You won’t speak to her again, but in your heart you will thank her for your life, every day.”  Jason paused, then gave Liam a direct look.  “Nod if you understand.”

    Liam nodded again, feeling consciousness slipping away.  He was jerked away from the window to slam into the wall opposite.  He felt something snap in his right shoulder, and then was tugged away from the cracked plasterwork and forwards with terrifying force.  As he hurtled through the air, his last conscious sight was the pane of the kitchen window rushing towa-

    The loud splintering, tinkling crash was enough to wake Mrs Day from her slumber, making her sit up with a small shriek.  It was also sufficient to alert the neighbours, at least those that weren’t out celebrating Shelly High’s win tonight.

    When they came to investigate, they found Liam day laying face down on the grass amidst the ruins of the window some five feet away from the kitchen.  He looked as though someone had beaten him within an inch of his life, and the kitchen was a blood-smeared wreckage.  As a few neighbours tried to calm Liam’s mother down, others called the sheriff and the paramedics, then stood around and tried to reason who could have wanted to do so much damage to a man while the one neighbour who worked as a nurse at the med center tried to make sure Liam was still breathing.


    Liam is in critical condition.  He will, however, live.  A beating that severe could easily put him in a coma, but Mercy Hospital is a state-of-the-art facility.  It's reasonably certain that at some point Nina deems convenient, he can wake up.


    • Like 1

  3. Many, including some of his friends, considered Jason Bannon to be dysfunctional, perhaps less than capable when it came to interpersonal matters.  Those who knew his secret perhaps considered him to be more so.  And there was a lot of justification for that.  He possessed zero 'affective empathy' - the fancy term for being able to pick up on people's moods without conscious thought, which was a subset of the part of the human experience called 'intuition'.  But what he did have in spades was pattern-recognition, reasoning powers that were on the upper end of human capability, and keen observational skills backed by a hi-def, VR replay memory.   Lacking the usual hubris of the very smart, he was also willing to credit people with intelligence and reason of their own, especially those who had displayed it in the past.

    Marissa had fumbled her fork.  Loudly enough to cause a clatter.  It had been right after Lona had dropped her news about being almost raped by Liam Day.

    On 9/21/2019 at 11:08 PM, Marissa Jauntsen said:

    "The chain smoking little head case has gotten to him, he's a soft spot for her, so if someone hurt her it's best you find them before my brother does.  One more screw up and he's gone.  You at least know how to hide a body..."

    He knew Marissa well enough to know that the 'hide a body' comment was flippancy, something said off the cuff.  He replayed the number of times he had ever seen Marissa lose her composure, outside of mortally dangerous situations, and that integer came back a big fat zero.  She was grace under fire itself.  She had perhaps assumed that there had been a rough prank, something relatively harmless, and then sent him over to care for his friend.

    Attempted rape was more than a rough prank.

    Marissa knew him.  She knew he'd been ready to stab Charlie with a fork over the accidental strangling incident.  She knew that his response to Liam's offense was likely to be... somewhat grave.  To say nothing of Devin's.  Additionally, Marissa was female and thus likely took a very dim view of attempted sexual assault anyway.  She was unlikely to take matters into her own hands personally with regards to Liam.  Therefore she would be seeking another to intercede, to get to Liam before Devin, anyone of the Fellowship, and particularly Jason, could.

    Conclusion:  Marissa was likely going to call the sheriff's department on Liam Day, with the objective of both punishing the offender and protecting both her brother and (probably) Jase.  He wasn't definite, but was fairly sure that Marissa would protect a friend from acting dangerously so long as it wouldn't endanger her brother to do so.  The sheriff's department would want to talk to Lona first.  Persuade her to press charges and make a statement, then go looking for Liam.

    That gave him a lead of maybe an hour. Call it a lead of thirty minutes to be pessimistic, assuming he did not waste it.  He finished his shake, giving little outward sign of haste, then reached into his pocket and drew out his keys.

    "I need to get home soon.  Dad's heading out early tomorrow and will need waking." he said calmly as he uncoiled from his comfortable slouch and stood.  "We can meet tomorrow to go over the weird stuff, if anyone likes?  Set up one of those string boards Cassie mentioned in the barn loft at my place?"

    There were murmurs from several quarters, Sean demurring, saying something about going to pick up a car from an auction.  Jase nodded, smiling slightly.  "Noon then, anyone that wants to come along." he asserted, then glanced at Lona.  "If you want to make a statement against Liam, best time would be tonight." he advised, giving her another one-armed hug before turning and making his way for the door.  He wasn't nervous - he couldn't get nervous - but he did feel a thrill of excitement, racing against the clock this way whilst appearing to be in no great hurry.  Liam was not going to get away with merely sitting in a cell being fed at the taxpayer's expense. Not for this.

  4. Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win. – Sun Tzu


    Early Saturday Morning, before ‘Unusual Request’

    Gareth Bannon was still abed when Hank came by to pick him up for the weekend get-together.  Jason had gone upstairs with a mug of coffee and woken his dad, then come back downstairs.  There was no breakfast cooking today – the two men would be stopping at a place on the way to the militia campsite.  And so he and Hank were hanging out on the porch as the dawn mist slowly evaporated over the fallow fields, lean youth and grizzled veteran alike nursing a mug of black coffee against the rail.

    “You got more honeys comin’ round?”  Hank asked with a sly smile.  “Or the same one, perhaps?”  He glanced sideways at Jase, who sipped from his mug as his eyes roamed the dawn landscape.  “I mean, whooo, I’d invite her around more than once – if I was twenty years younger.”  He paused a beat.  “Eh, mebbe ten years.”

    “She’d chew you up and spit you out.”  Jase deadpanned, a faint gleam of amusement in his eyes.  Not for the first time, Hank assessed the collected youth.   Jason’s lips twitched as something funny occurred to him.  “Apart from the head.”

    “She’s a spitter, then?”  Hank prodded, trying to see if he could faze his verbal sparring partner.

    “I wouldn’t know.  And if I did, wouldn’t tell.”  Came the response.  Hank laughed.

    “Good for you, kid.  Good for you.  Watch it, though.  Girl like that – that’s a lot of trouble for a young man.”

    “Lot of trouble for any man.”  Jase agreed, smiling a little.  “I like her, though.  She’s interesting.  And jokes aside, we’re just friends.”

    “Just friends, or just friends.”  Hank inquired as he rested both elbows on the rail.

    “I mean neither of us date, and we share some interests and a sense of humor.  I’m not even sure if she likes me in the way you mean.”  Another teen would have said that line with perhaps a downcast air – Jason stated it in the same way he would give a report that the weather was uncertain.

    “Eh.  Friends is good, kid.  No need to read more into it, or less either.”  Hank shrugged his burly shoulders, then laughed.  “Fuck, don’t listen to me anyhow.  If I was an authority, I’d not be hanging out with your dad this weekend.”

    “Well, I do have four or so girls coming round later.”  Jase stated with a sly sideways look.  Hank blinked and looked at him.  “Group project.”  Jase clarified, smiling a little.  “No hanky or panky.  At least, not unless I’m completely reading them wrong.”

    “Guess the whole ‘take the brakes off, let the world see you shine’ thing is paying off, huh?”

    “Guess so.”  Jase was silent a moment.  “Hank, I need a favor.  You going to be staying at the Sons camp, or at your cabin as usual?”

    “Cabin as usual.  Some of those boys like to stay up late and drink and party – I like my quiet.  Your dad will be staying at the camp though.”  Hank studied the lanky teen anew.  “What do you need?”

    “To talk to you about some stuff.”  Jase stated calmly.  “And, if you agree, training.”

    “What kind of training?”  Hank narrowed his eyes, Jason turning his own gaze to meet the older man’s without any sign of hesitation.

    “The kind I’d only come to you for.”

  5. "You're certain?"  The question was not asked with skepticism, or disbelief, or even any real doubt.  In fact, it was as much statement as question, the inquiry simply thrown on the end as a formality.  Marissa and Autumn both glanced at Jason, but he wasn't looking at them, he was instead looking at some inner vista, considering what they were saying.

    "As certain as I am of anything."  Autumn managed.  Marissa nodded, dark eyes wide.

    "We saw it, Jason." she asserted.

    "I believe you.  Hmmm."  he trailed off, still thinking.  He didn't pace, or fidget, or do any number of other things associated with thought.  Instead he simply stood there, sunlight playing in his distant gaze.

    "Hmmm..?"  Marissa said, without as much snark as usual.  "All that grey matter and no words?"  Jase didn't blink, merely focused his gaze on her as Lona, Charlie and Lilly trailed closer.  Cora hung back, one arm around Cade's waist as the baseball player looked on.

    "The Tree is Shelly... And yet the Tree is also Devin and Marissa's invention.  A boogeyman to frighten teenagers."  Jason mused.  "Fear is interesting.  It is in the nature of humankind to threaten others with what they themselves fear most, whether the purpose is to entertain or intimidate.  Most horror writers, the best ones, use their own fears in their works.  The fear caused is loaned solidity by the fear felt by the originator, made real by their own imagination or experiences."

    "So?"  Devin asked, feeling a slight chill at the analytical expression in Jase's eyes.  Marissa nodded slightly, seeing where the half-naked genius was going.

    "We made it the Tree."  she said.  "It could have been anything, but the Tree is the boogeyman right now."

    "Wait, so it's not really a tree?"  Autumn asked, glancing from Marissa to Devin to (oh god) Jason Effing Half-Naked Bannon.

    "It looks like a tree, and it sits there as a tree.  I don't think it's really a tree, any more than the... dimension we flipped into was really a forest.  It was a reflection."  Jase mused.  "Probably - the Dark has to take some shape, after all.  Something to think about.  If that is the Dark and not something else.  I wonder if I would have seen it as a tree."  He also wondered if perhaps it had always been a Tree, and Devin had been inspired from somewhere other than his own imagination.  He didn't voice that thought, though.  Some things needed careful examination before scaring the bejesus out of his friend with them.

    "You wonder that because you don't feel fear?"  Lona asked before she could stop herself, then pressed her lips together as a few of the others looked at her, giving the lanky teen an apologetic look.  Jason shrugged slightly, giving her a small smile in return as if to say it didn't matter.

    "What do you mean 'he doesn't feel fear'?"  Autumn demanded, trying not to glare at the Effing One as Marissa put a hand on her arm.

    "Girl, let's not even go there.  It's a whole thing."  Mari suggested, shooting everyone a warning glance.  "Come on.  Lets get out of here before shit gets weird again.  And then Jase can get into real clothes and wash your hoodie. Several times.  Right?"  she gave Jase a narrow look.

    "Of course." he replied, glancing at Autumn.  "Thank you for the kindness." he added with simple sincerity, even as his eyes studied her red face.

    "Is it at least comfortable?"  Devin grinned, gesturing to the impromptu eggplant-shroud.

    "Very."  Jason said as he turned to start hobbling out of the clearing once more. He glanced back over one shoulder, a trace of a smile in his eyes.  "Doesn't chafe at all."

  6. Examining the source of the in-character rancor - because frankly, that's all I care about at present:

    Devin said - 


    "...when we're trying to work we're either fighting or up in someone's shit."  The local authority issue said calmly.  "This isn't friendship, guys, maybe we should all go our separate way and just do our thing."

    To which Clara responded - 


     "And for 'this isn't friendship', you noticed, huh? Shocking that people you've bullied for years aren't lining up to be your best bud the moment you decide you need a social change of pace. Welcome to life. People get upset, people aren't at their best when they're scared and stressed and the world is just being crazy. Go your own way if you want, Devin - and please, for the love of God, take Marissa with you. "

    Within the context of each character's frame of reference, both of them were 'right'.  Devin was expressing discontent at the way people seemed to just dissolve into dramatics or go do their own shit rather than focusing on teamwork - expressing it in his own way, which wasn't the most diplomatic or even the most helpful of ways.  On the flipside, Clara didn't tell Devin to 'go away', she told him 'if you want to, go away', then added a bitchy comment about Marissa into the mix.  Because teenagers.

    All of this is perfectly valid inter-character dynamics.  As is Devin being an unfair prick to everyone else over Clara's remarks, and as is Clara's position that she was perfectly justified in making them (though perhaps on calm reflection less bitchily - she is supposed to be smarter than Devin :D ).  Attempts to deus ex machina a friendship are not going to work and only create OOC friction, simply because both writers are invested in their character's development - as they should be.  Fine, all the characters have the Shine.  I would feel the same if someone said "No, Jason is not allowed to act that way.  He has to be sweetness and light to the group members, because plot."

    The action in the woods, I believe, should have gone some way towards repairing the rift.  Sure, Devin's still gonna Devin - but he saved Cora, stood by Jase, and was a Big Damn Hero.  Likewise, Clara showed up along with everyone else to help when the Awesome Foursome were in trouble. As the characters reflect over the weekend following, that should be part of their reflection.  It's not an immediate Damascus Road moment where they go "OMG, we're totes besties now!", because that's narratively poor.  But people's actions will sink into dense teenage minds and over time, form part of the overall story of how they came to be friends, rather than hostages of a plot suffering Stockholm Syndrome together.

    TL;DR - Let it happen organically and within the characters own power.


    As a personal note:  I would like it if people could separate OOC and IC.  Jason ripped into Cora with more venom and acidity than Marissa or Devin have ever used.  This was well-roleplayed through by everyone there - people reacted as they would do: anger, shock, tears, arousal (Marissa) etc.  Cora's player turned the emotional energy into a drive to prove that green-eyed bastard wrong, and she is doing so by stages, which is good to see.  It was all done in-character, and is adding to the story. 

    I'm not going to foot stamp.  It is not my or anyone's place to make demands.  All I can ask is that writers collaborate rather than let IC boil into OOC and back to IC.  It taints the game.  Personally, that's all I care about. 

  7. "I agree."  Jase said, nodding along with Cassie's words.  "Liam Day is a burnout, a bum, a clumsy nothing person who has been busted a number of times for petty crimes.  If he even realises what happened, what is he going to say that people will believe?"

    He took a calm sip of his milkshake, glancing at Lona who was looking at him with a speculative gaze tinged with surprise.

    "The most important thing is that you are alright."  Jason went on.  "You defended yourself, and got away.  Perhaps he will leave town, though you should maybe report his actions to the sheriff anyway tomorrow."  He smiled pleasantly.

    "I agree with Cassie, though.  I'm certain he won't find the opportunity to trouble you again."

  8. He tilted his head to one side, regarding her for a moment more, then shrugged.  If he felt any ill feeling at being dismissed bitchily, he didn't show it.

    "I'll find out what happened with Lona." he stated, easing out of the booth and standing.  "I'm glad you and Devin made it out of today alright, Marissa.  They are too." he added, simple sincerity in his words, before walking back over to the booth where the Fellowship were sitting.

    Sliding back into his seat, he glanced at Lona and nodded over his Oreo shake, reaching for some fries.  With a slight smile, she tugged them away, causing him to narrow his eyes in catlike annoyance and sit back in his seat.  With some relish, she ate one in front of him, then reached for the basket once more, only for it to slide across to sit in front of her potato-foodstuff nemesis.

    "Hey."  she objected as Jase took a few fries and ate them, staring levelly at her.

    "Why do you have scratches on your arms and legs?"  he asked directly, his gaze never wavering.

  9. Someone slid into the booth opposite Marissa as she was busy with her phone, a faint whiff of tobacco giving her a clue as to who would be so bold.  Well, not bold, she reflected.  Just lacking compunction, fear, anxiety...  She looked up and raised an expectant eyebrow at Jason, an expression which had brought legions of males to their knees with nervousness but which seemed to merely pass right through him.  She winced inwardly a little to see him wearing the pink 'throw like a girl' t-shirt.  It totally didn't suit him - it totally didn't suit anybody.  Which may or may not be the point of the frivolity, but still.  Standards, people!

    "So Courtney came to see me just now." Jase started without preamble.  "An interesting visit.  She gestured me out into the parking lot and told me she was not behind the Snapchat picture."

    "Really?"  Marissa pursed her lips, actually raising her head to look at him now, phone temporarily forgotten.  "You believe her?"

    "I have no reason not to.  It's too weak for it to be her brand of mean.  She claims someone betrayed her trust."  He returned levelly.  "She could be lying, but what would the point be?"

    "Hmm."  Marissa narrowed her dark eyes as she regarded him.  "Is that all she said?"

    "She said she likes me finds me interesting, and it is a pity I am friends with you and Devin."  Jase's eyes gleamed with amusement.  "I told her that if she likes me, she would do well not to set herself against my friends.  I left her no illusions I was swayable.  I'm trying to sort out genuine interest from artifice, and find myself assuming that she is ninety-percent artifice.  After all, the only reason to try and 'win' me would be to score a point against you.  I'm not exactly useful for or interested in her goals, such as they are."

  10. Jase, at Autumn's shout, had stopped his painful and slow progress out of the clearing and turned, regarding the redhead and Marissa as they walked back towards the others.  He didn't grumble, since that was not really in his nature.  What he did was sigh slightly and then make his way back into the clearing where the fight had happened, adjusting Autumn's hoodie around his waist to give a little more coverage and increase it's likelihood of staying on.

    He approached the Jauntsen's and Autumn - who was very intently not looking his way - and then stopped, waiting patiently for one or the other of the two girls to make sense.  That they might not make sense did not, at this point, occur to him, and so he remained silent as his pale green eyes regarded the two of them from a blood-streaked face.

  11. "More of a shot." Jase said with a slight smile and a gleam of humor in his pale eyes.  "Though if we can get him up on some six-inch heels he could qualify, maybe."  He shuffled his seat along, making more room for Cassie, a rare courtesy amongst those present that knew him.  Jase usually needed to be prodded to make room for people at a table, with few exceptions.

    Sean huffed something, but Jase was distracted by lights out by the Charger.  Peering, he saw Chet's Camaro pull in behind his car, and then Courtney and Chet both got out.  Chet began to walk towards Bunnee's, but stopped at a word from Courtney, which seemed to spark an argument.  Grumpily, the footballer climbed back into his car and waited like a dog being sent to it's kennel, Jase mused.  Then something odd happened - Courtney, still wearing her cheerleader outfit, stepped around the Charger and caught Jason's eye, motioning him to step outside.  Interesting.

    "I'll be right back." he said to the others, snaking out of his seat and through the crowd to the entrance, his curiousity awakened.  More games, probably.  Still, they were fun to play.  She met him at the entranceway, but stepped back as he came through the door, moving to lean on someone's car casually as her eyes appraised his lean form.

    "I wanted to get to you before things got out of hand."  She began matter of factly.  "I know that somehow you have become friends with the twins of Terror. That's... not a good place to be."  She studied his face, which did not so much as flicker, and went on.  "But that isn't what I wanted to talk about. It has come to my attention that you and your geek friends think that I had something to do with that stupid picture. I didn't."  She folded her arms, showing off an admittedly fine bust.  "If I want to embarrass you , you would be embarrassed and I would not hide the fact that i did it. Someone whom I had trust in betrayed that trust, and sent out that little aberration. Not me."  She took a deep breath, sighing in exasperation.  "I doubt if you will believe me, but it's true.  I won't even tell you who, you can have your femboi hacker find out - it shouldn't be too hard for shim."  She stopped leaning, straightening up and tugging her uniform a little to un-crease it.  "Anyway, I wanted to apologize for my part in it - for that's worth. I like you, Jason you have a lot of interesting qualities."  She moistened her lower lip slightly, meeting his cool stare with a more heated one.

    He regarded her for a long moment, pale eyes inscrutable in the dusk, then nodded slowly. "Honestly, I didn't think you had sent out that Snapchat. More likely, someone would have overheard you talking and then decided to do it." He smiled a little then, the lights from the parking lot catching the copper and verdigris flecks in his eyes "And as you know, I do not embarrass easily. Another reason I doubt it was you. Too obvious, too trivial."   He flipped a hand, dismissing the idea.

    "As for my friends..." His smile widened a little, not touching his eyes. "I choose my own associations. Much as you do. You're also somewhat interesting, Courtney, so I offer a courtesy to you. If you like me, then perhaps it would be a good idea not to set yourself against my friends."  His gaze was unflinching and glacial.  "I am very loyal."

    She took a couple of steps forward, leaning toward Jason as though drawn before reaching up to his chest with one hand, her eyes on his.  Whatever thought she had, she evidently changed her mind, drawing back just before contact would have been made.

    "I bet you are." she murmured, sighing.  "Such a waste really.  I suppose I'll see you at school. " She looked through the window into the diner. "I think Chet and I ought to find someplace else to eat tonight."

    "If you think it wise."  he shrugged, stepping back towards the door.  "Goodnight, Courtney."

    "Goodnight." she returned with a coy smile over one shoulder as she walked over to the Camaro.  Jase watched her get in and the Camaro start away, then turned and went back inside to the warmth and laughter of his friends.

  12. "Devin is being Devin."  Jason said in a calm, dry tone.  "He has neither forgotten nor forgiven being told to go away and take his sister with him, and with the crisis over for now has decided to resume his pique."  Oddly, there was no condemnation in Jase's voice or even in the word 'pique'.  After all, the word meant 'offense' or 'indignation', despite it sometimes being used to belittle such emotions. 

    Jason was familiar with pique as an emotion - his acid-tongued flaying of Cora had been born of pique as much as anything else, and as for Sara moving to attack him - well, Lilly had intervened, and Sara had apologised for that, and sincerely too, or else he himself would be in a similar state of pique.  He considered for a moment, and then dismissed the idea that Devin was plotting Clara's death over the insult.  It was only words, after all.

    And Kieran, at the game... He was not to blame, Jase reflected.  Firstly, the girl he saw as 'his' was approaching another male, which was always a trigger for aggression, and secondly Courtney had more than likely directed Kieran's attention to that fact.  Hoping to provoke a confrontation, almost certainly, though to what end was uncertain.  Perhaps she had realised something about the sink in the bathroom and had wanted to see if Jason would react lethally?  Or maybe just wanted to assert her power by having him beaten?  Either was a problem.  He might have to discuss the Courtney issue with Marissa.  For now, he turned his pale gleaming gaze on Cora, giving her a faint smile.

    "If anything else goes sideways, then we will deal with it as it comes." he said to the lithe, tall dancer with a certainty that was reassuring.  "And I say 'we', because you did good out there today." he added with a slightly warmer smile.

    "Proved you wrong, huh?" she challenged daringly as she slid into a seat next to Cade, though she was unable to hide her smile at Bannon's words.  He tilted his head and regarded her with a sly glint in his eyes, his smile turning playful.

    "Did you?" was all he replied, making a show of tapping his chin in thought, as enigmatic as ever for a moment before he relented, his smile turning warm once more.  "Yes.  I think you successfully challenged my vocal assertions.  I look forward to being proven wrong more often."  He inclined his head towards her from where he relaxed in his seat, somehow making the gesture seem like a bow of respect and causing Cora to be grateful of her dark skin as she felt a small blush rise under Bannon's intense stare, which thankfully moved elsewhere after a moment more.

    "But for now, we're waiting to see who else shows, I guess." he said, relaxing more into his seat in a kind of boneless slouch that was reminiscent of the old Bannon, only without the sullen air as he drew a paper twist of corn nuts from a pocket and unwrapped them.  "If anyone's getting the shakes, I'll have an Oreo one."

  13. He was leaning against the Charger in the parking lot next to Lilly's truck, smoking unobtrusively as he and Sean waited for the Shelly High School team's most popular (and lets face it, prettiest) players to finish showering and changing.  Jase was quiet, now and then shooting his shorter and more feminine companion an amused glance.

    "It was a bet!" Sean repeated for the umpteenth time, tugging to straighten the maroon and gold top of the Shelly Coyotes cheerleader squad which his ample assets were straining somewhat.

    "A stupid bet."  Jase replied, taking a drag on his cigarette and managing to exhale his habitual twin-jet with schadenfreude.  "A very, very stupid bet."

    "I agreed to motivate Laurie.  She was nervous."  Sean snapped, feeling very self-conscious under Jase's reptilian amusement in a way he hadn't felt since changing into the outfit at half-time.

    "You were played."  the lanky teen snorted.  "All Laurie needed to do was enlist Lilly and that field goal was guaranteed.  You were going to end up in a miniskirt the moment she proposed the wager.  Sucker."  In the near-distance, he heard good-natured voices raised and ground out the cigarette under his boot.

    "Whatever, dude.  Sometimes you've got to sacrifice for the ones you love... Here they come."  Sean braced himself.

    Laurie's laughter was bright and infectious as her smile as her and Lilly came over.  Freshly showered and wearing clean jerseys, both girls were pink-faced and exuberant despite the events of the day, and Laurie squealed as she hugged her brother.

    "You're still wearing it?  Oh my god!" she laughed.  Lilly grinned, shaking her head and glancing at Jase who stood, arms folded and with an amused glint in his eyes watching.

    "A deal is a deal. Well played, you guys." Sean managed around the hug.  "And that kick was awesome, Laurie."

    "Thanks!"  She grinned as she released him and turned towards Bannon with a bounce in her step.  "What?  No words?"

    "Сделал дело – гуляй смело." he offered with a smile, then in response to her confused expression, clarified. "You did the work well, now walk boldly."  She squeaked and gave him a hug, Jase tolerating it with his usual calm despite her having trapped his arms against his body.  "And as the new star kicker, you get to ride shotgun in the Charger."

    If he'd hoped that would cause Laurie to let go, he was mistaken as she squeezed him tighter, then looked up at him.  "Can I drive it?" she asked with her most winsome head tilt.

    "Kick one hundred percent for the season, and we'll talk." he replied without budging an inch.  Laurie frowned for a moment, but left that battle for later as she skipped around to the passenger side of the muscle car.

    "Hey, that's my seat!"  Sean protested weakly.  Jase shot him a wryly amused stare.

    "Cheerleaders ride with the quarterback." he nodded at Lilly, who laughed as she climbed into her truck.  "Star kickers get the Charger."  Sean grumbled, but chuckled ruefully as he climbed into the truck's passenger side.

    "Still worth it." he muttered to Lilly, who guffawed as she put the truck in gear.

    = = = = =

    The Charger's growl made Lona look up from her misery as the gleaming black car swept into Bunnee's parking lot, closely followed by Lilly's Millenium Rustbucket.  The occupants piled out, talking animatedly as they came into the already bustling diner to the cheers and applause of other football fans.  Laurie seemed intent on a conversation she was having with Jase, though, and as they came over to the table Lona had reserved she could make out what it was about.

    "...seventy-five percent?  C'mon, Jasonnnn?" she wheedled with a heart-melting pout.  Lona couldn't help but be a little amused when she considered how likely the heart it was directed at was to melt.

    "One hundred.  Champions drive the Charger." Jase repeated in the same unflappable tone he'd used since Laurelei had mounted the campaign to lower the goalposts, so to speak.  "Seventy-five percenters get to put on a white tee-shirt and car wash it."

    "Dude!"  Lilly cracked up, shaking her head as Jason turned an amused stare on her, then back to Laurie, who was blushing.  Sean just shook his head, smiling a little at his sister.  With a wry chuckle, the lean genius slid into the seat across from Lona and relaxed, glancing at her.

    "How're you?" he asked, his gaze going from casual to studying her intently.  "Looks like you have a lot on your mind."

  14. He stood for a moment, absorbing her words, dispassionately studying her as she sat on the ground crying. Then he nodded slowly, unseen by her, as pieces fell into place in his mind before he slowly knelt in front of her. Gently, he reached out and took her hands from the side of her head, holding them carefully.

    "People are afraid to be who they really are. Even I was reluctant, until the night of the party. Everyone wears a mask - sometimes necessary, sometimes not." he said in a soft, calm tone. "You cannot control that. Any more than you can control people lying, or force objective meaning on the world, or prevent change. Flowers bloom, flowers die - and that is why they are beautiful. Fire fascinates and warms, or fire destroys and terrifies. And that is why it is so compelling, Clara. That is life." He moved to sit alongside her, feeling her through the connection of their hands. "And it hurts even me."

    He sighed and wrapped one arm around the girl's shoulders. "For what it is worth, I will not lie to you. I despise lies, generally." he remarked, still holding one of her hands in his as he hugged her. She practically collapsed against him, her muscles now trembling with exhaustion instead of stress.

    "Life is stupid," she finally croaked grumpily. She took several more deep breaths, trying to calm her tremors and figure out some semblance of emotional control. She had some of her anxiety meds in her car, but taking them meant she'd sleep through the afternoon and there were plans for the day. "And thanks. For-for not lying. Unless you are. I clearly can't tell when someone is."

    "That too is a function of instinct. Though admittedly, you were targeted." Jase said calmly, but there was a hint of something icy underlying his tone. "Lonely people are easy prey." His arm around her gave her a little squeeze.

    "Personally, I find outright lies distasteful. Which is why I don't do it." he glanced at the top of her head on his shoulder. "Now... Examination and reflection. You said you were scared, confused and hurt. Scared of what, in that moment? Confused by what, in that moment? Hurt by what, in that moment? Don't shut those feelings away or cover them up. Examine them."

    She stiffened and started to pull away from him, her survival technique of avoidance in full swing. He could feel her wrestle control of it, her mind and will now turned towards a stronger skill: analysis. "That was a panic attack," she told him quietly but matter-of-factly. "They make your head and body basically overdose on fear and stress. Or at least that's how it is for me. So, that's part of it. But what I meant, beyond adrenaline, was...." Her eyes scanned across the abandoned fields of the farm as she fell silent in thought.

     "I told Etienne, the night of the party, that I hate change. I make a plan, I account for everything I can think of, and I stick to it so nothing can...can...." She sighed, her breath a steady stream from her lips and she searched for the right words. "Every time something changes in my life, something major, it means I'm getting pushed aside again. Ignored, forgotten. Trampled over, if I'm in the way. So, if I have a plan, if I'm in control of what's going on, that can't happen." She pulled her knees up to her chest and wrapped an arm around them. "That's the theory, anyways. So far this year it hasn't worked at all. 'Course I never really had a 'what to do in case of monsters, psychic powers, and government conspiracies' contingency. Zombies, yes. But I just cribbed those from the CDC."

    "Hmph." The sound was an amused grunt at the mention of zombies. "Everyone cribs those from the CDC." Jase grinned a little. "Go on, though."

    She gave him a timid smile at that, then turned back to her thoughts to answer his questions. "So. Yeah. I'm scared because every time things go off track my life gets turned upside down and I have to spend years setting it right or figuring out how to deal with it. Confused." She made a rude sound and he could feel her tense again, her hand tightening in his. "People confuse me. They say and do stupid things, make promises no one could keep, lie, do just insane things, and everyone else is standing around going 'yup, that's people for you' like it's just okay. Or they're not, and I can't tell what the difference between one crazy, awful thing and another is that they switch up how they're acting." She looked, giving a half-hearted shrug as her thoughts swirled onto the last question.

    "And I think it's pretty obvious why I'm hurt. Clive died and I ran Lona off just trying to help her. I thought I had something good, something amazing with Etienne and then I nearly destroyed that, and then it turns out he's a spy for some straight up evil mastermind doctor. And then he doesn't even have the decency to just be a bad guy and not...." She sighed and shook her head, "Etienne, not Cook. Cook is still totally in the bad guy column for me. It's just too much and I don't know what to do and no matter what I do someone is going to get hurt. No matter what I do I'm going to get hurt and so are other people. I don't know what to do."

    "Hmmm." Jase pondered, turning over her words in his head. "The only thing I can think of is the old adage about no plan surviving contact with the enemy. And then tie that into Sun Tzu's words about knowing oneself first and foremost, and remaining formless and adaptable." He gave her a little squeeze. "You plan to stave off chaos, but it's a wall against an ocean. Water is always going to erode the wall, and chaos will always erode plans." He let out a small sigh. "It is frustrating to me that I cannot fully understand your conflict."

     "My mother abandoned me when I was eight, while my father was in prison." he explained quietly. "She left me with his parents, who were not prepared, really. I learned self-sufficiency and how unreliable people are very early. I'm telling you this so you understand that the pain it caused me was... small.  A sense of loss, a phantom ache.  And as I said yesterday, I don't feel fear - not like you do. I don't feel loneliness either. I enjoy the company of some people, but I don't need it or expect anything from them, which I think jars them a little. I don't feel ashamed, or embarrassed, or any of those things that anyone else would be able to help you with. I have my passion, and I direct it. I feel rage, hunger, desire, and am at peace with them. Medically, I am quite literally not equipped to empathise with other emotions - all I can do is try to understand, and try to support those I care about."

    She blinked at that, her eyes going wide as he explained. "Oh." "I didn't know that. I'm sorry, about your mother. That sucks." Medically? There's something wrong with his brain? "I...I don't know what to say. I kinda want to say I envy you, but that seems mean and I probably don't understand really what you're going through." She squeezed his hand again.

    "Not to be afraid or lonely, though. That's real attractive right now." Her mind played over her interactions with Jase - around school a little over the years and then farm more often over the past month or so. "Is, do you think it might be something Cook did to you?" She hadn't meant to ask that out loud, more she was musing over the puzzle of it. Once it was said, though, she watched him, curious what he would say or how he would react.

    "It might be a side effect of genetic tampering. I'd considered it last night when reviewing what Lona told us about the meeting with Cook." Jason seemed completely at ease discussing it. "One out of five people diagnosed with psychopathy is neurologically so, the others are 'factor 2', more commonly known as sociopathy, usually due to trauma or abuse. In my case, brain scans performed by a doctor prior to my moving to Shelly show that my pre-frontal cortex and in particular my amygdala are underdeveloped." His hand toyed with her braid lightly. "I am fortunate that I am also intelligent enough to function at a high level - most teens with my condition can easily become violent criminals with no restraint." He met her gaze. "You are in no danger from me, however." he said sombrely.

    He smiled a little at her, then. "Don't wish to be other than you are. I don't. Though I don't blame you for the fancy of being unafraid or lonely - those do seem to be miserable emotions. The only thing I really 'fear' is being locked up simply because I am different.  So I tried to hide myself somewhat - conceal the telltales of my nature - but I was frankly bad at it and since I abandoned the act it seems most people don't even realise what I am anyway. I think you are the fourth person I have told - Lona, Marissa and Lilly all know, and now you.  I'm telling you for several reasons - the most pertinent ones being 'I like you' and so that you understand my difficulties in turn."

    "So... Here is what I understand from what you've said.  You fear the chaos of life, and your plan is your bulwark against it.  I don't know if you are religious - I am not - but you speak of your Plan in much the same way as, in another age, you might have spoken of God." His tone was matter of fact as his gaze stared across the fields, reflecting.  "Your need for there to be a Plan seems born out of fear and a need for some sense of control, but you need to start with controlling your Self.  Not repressing - controlling.  Control requires harmony between desire and reason.  You don't ride a horse by pulling frantically on the reins every time you feel it move a little fast.  Eventually it will bolt out of frustration, and you won't know how to stay on."

  15. "You don't feel fear?" he asked with fresh appraisal in his gaze.  She tilted her head.

    "Huh? I mean, I've been afraid before, it's just usually after whatever's going on. Like...like there's a time delay. Once I get my head working it's all 'focus on dealing with the issue, fall apart later.' I have to have time to think to really freak out." She shrugged, looking vulnerable so looking anywhere but at him. "There's a reason everyone calls me a frigid bitch, Jase, and it's not just because I'm a virgin."

    He made a soft sound that might be amusement, causing her to glance at him briefly, noting the slight smile on his lips and crinkle at the corners of his eyes.

    "I won't help you... that way." he said casually, nodding to her to follow him as he exited the garage. "For one thing, with you still learning to use your Shine, that's a good way for one or both of us to end up injured or worse." He glanced over his shoulder at her. "As our powers training progresses, I will start thinking of exercises similar to surprise or ambush so that people can learn to respond properly, rather than dangerously to themselves and each other. From what I understand, that will only solve part of your problem, though."

    She followed him out, grimacing in frustration.

    "Not likely to be a problem on my end. My 'Shine,' if that's what we're calling it, I mean. The worst I can do is make everyone else cooler and feel when things are weird. I can't do what you or Charlie or even Devin can do. I'm...just basically a scanner and weird battery for the rest of you." Yup. No bitterness there. Not at all. Why do you ask? She watched him from under downcast eyes again as they moved. "That's why I want to be worth something in a fight. Lilly can punch through a tree from the look of it. Charlie...." She shuddered a little, "Charlie's got himself covered. Devin's our spastic little bopper. Lona's the healer. Cora's got her whole weird energy thing. You're all Song of Ice and Fire minus the dragons. Unless Charlie can turn himself into a dragon. Gah. Sara's all bald guy in a chair on us. I don't remember his name. Sean's the world's bustiest hacker. Marissa's a world-class bitch but people like her more than me. Cade's apparently Dr. DooLittle with a shotgun. I'm not sure what's up with Autumn, but I bet it's still actually something she can do instead of just....Shining everyone else?" She sighed again. "I know what I can do is helpful, but when monsters are taking chunks out of your friends, I'd like to do more than just be a basically a weirdness radio." At Jase's eyebrow lift, she clarified, "Scanning and broadcasting. Not much help in a fistfight."

    He abruptly turned as he walked, facing her whilst stepping in the same direction towards the farmhouse.

    "You mentioned being a virgin." he asked with almost clinical curiousity. "Yet you've been seeing Etienne a while. The two of you have not been intimate?"

    She flushed cherry red and looked away from Jase, nearly tripping over a stone in the path. "Only a couple of months," she mumbled.

    "More than some need." he replied with a faint smile. "Any reason you haven't done the deed?"

    She managed to blush even deeper, staring at Jase's calm questioning with wide eyes. Her frazzled brain finally settled on an acceptable deflection from the tangled truth. "Why do you care? I mean, what does it matter to you?" The words were direct, even harsh, but her inflection was more confusion than attack.

    "I'm building a picture." he responded, unfazed by her deflection or her tone. "And your response is part of it. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that you probably did want to sleep with him at some point, but froze." He regarded her with that same faint smile, his pale green eyes unflinching. "If you say I am wrong, I will accept that as the truth."

    Instead of answering - she knew she sucked at lying - she chucked a small rock at him with a scoop to the ground and then a flick of her wrist. "That's not a question you're supposed to ask, y'know. It's....personal. And just what kind of picture are you trying to build, that involves my pretty much non-existent sex life?" She didn't sound angry yet, but she was certainly off balance.

    The rock stopped in mid air as Jase, too came to a stop, still appraising her flushed features.

    "The question is pertinent because of the reason your sex life is non-existent.  I believe there is a link between that freezing up and the freezing up you do in dangerous situations."  He stepped towards her again, the rock floating to one side and dropping to the ground as he gazed down at her, smiling a little more warmly.  "It is not because you lack the desire to act - it is because your desire to act conflicts with your thoughts.  You are a structured thinker, a planner par excellence, but your weakness lies in dealing with anything that falls outside the plan you have in mind."  He was close now, smelling as he usually did - faint tobacco smoke, motor oil, a spot of cologne.  She could feel his stare like a sun lamp on her face.

    "You are out of touch with your passions, viewing them as inconveniences, disruptions to the Plan, rather than the very engine that drives you.  Plato suggests in Phaedrus that the dark horse, Passion, be yoked alongside the light horse of Reason, because Passion without Reason is chaos, and Reason without Passion is stasis."  Jason's tone was low, even intimate as he explained.  "You need to allow your horses to run together, even if sometimes that makes them harder to rein in.  Consider - Devin was terrified, but did not freeze.  Charlie was terrified - and yet did not freeze.  Cora was scared - and yet did not freeze.  That is because they have what you lack - two horses, running together."

  16. "I have time." he answered calmly, nodding.  "Let me just get my hands cleaned off, or the oil will stick."   Dressed in a sleeveless tee and shapeless fatigue pants over combat boots, his hair the usual 'shown a comb once and left' shaggy style he wore these days, he radiated purposeful calm as he moved to the sink next to the workbench.  Behind him, the car slowly lowered to the ground, touching down gently enough that the suspension did not even need to absorb the shock as he studied Clara with the usual unabashed, unblinking stare he focused on something or someone he found interesting.  Despite her composure, Clara shifted her weight slightly under that pale gleaming appraisal, wondering if he knew the effect it had and did it anyway as some kind of test or game, or whether it was just... Bannon being Bannon.

    Or maybe it was both.  God knew that she had a hard enough time figuring out even the easiest, most expressive people in the Fellowship sometimes.  Jason's feline, Sphinx-like mien might as well have been machine code written in Braille.  She wondered briefly what he saw, what he thought when he regarded her so attentively.  Other than that brief talk with him after the role-playing get-together at the pool house, she'd not been alone with him at all - and this Jason was a different creature to the badly-formed paper mask he'd peered out at her from behind that night, showing a glimpse of the intelligence which, in later days, he'd shown no compunctions about displaying.  Now he was studying her as he cleaned off, having not said a word beyond the greeting. 

    For his part, Jase was curious.  Clara had not exactly shunned him, but nor had she ever sought him out.  She treated him with the same polite decency she treated most people - other than the Jauntsens, who seemed capable of touching raw nerves in the normally collected girl.  He wondered if there was some special reason, a torment in earlier years similar to those practiced on Sean or Autumn... But his curiousity ended there, more or less.  She was Lona's sister-in-all-but-name, much as he was Sean's 'brother' - though the two girls seemed much closer, probably due to them both being 'normal', at least in that way.  Or perhaps it was a feminine bonding thing?  He wasn't one hundred percent sure either way, and that datum went whirring away into his mind to the mental 'string board' he had for studying interpersonal relationships.

    What he was mainly marking, as he washed his hands with grease remover while she stood there, were the differences.  No subtle makeup.  No ornamentation.  Hair still damp and not pristinely styled as usual, and clothes that were downright casual.  Not exercise gear, nor the preppy elegance she usually evinced.  She seemed raw as she stood there, and he filed that away even as his mind stored the sight of her silhouette against the morning sunlight.  Drying off his hands with a rag, he moved to stand in front of her, head tilted to one side as behind him the stereo clicked 'off', leaving them in silence.

    "What do you need to talk to me about?" he asked with a trace of curiousity and emphasis on the 'me'.

  17. The Bannon Farm was remote, which was probably for the best given it's purpose within the Fellowship.  Jase had seen his dad and Hank off an hour ago - there was a get-together of the Sons this weekend, where they would sit around, grill, drink beers and bitch about the state of the country and the Deep State ruining everything.  Jase wasn't himself given to conspiracy theories, at least ones without some hard evidence to back them, but he wondered if perhaps the militia weren't perhaps close to the truth about nefarious government dealings.  After all, a four-decade long project costing millions of dollars had been going on in Shelly without any oversight for the last twenty years or so, if Cook was telling the truth.  How many other tiny parasitic fiefdoms were out there, self-perpetuating projects that were conveniently forgotten about and shuffled into the paperwork?  How many billions were being siphoned off?

    Not that the thought offended him, as such.  In fact part of his significant mind was calculating how he could gain access to, and subsequently control of, the Shelly project's resources.  That was one of the reasons he was considering cooperation with Cook - he and his friends could make use of that level of access and secrecy.  Of course some of them might have moral or ethical qualms, which was bothersome.  Completely exposing Cook would bring the project to an end... Or would it?  After all, he had achieved some success.  Perhaps the powers that be would want to capitalise on that, which in turn presented a new set of opportunities and challenges to overcome.

    Of course the Cook situation was not top of his list of priorities, merely a slow-heating base with ingredients yet to be added.

    Later today his friends were coming round to hang out and discuss the happenings in Shelly in a more laid-back way than previously.  Cassie's idea of a string board was a good one - one he would remember for other uses.  He didn't need such things himself, but they were brilliant methods for allowing groups to share such data and organise thoughts.  He'd set things up for the afternoon as a host should.  A large slow-cooker was making some venison chili in the kitchen, and plenty of beers and sodas were in the small fridge in the barn's loft.  Right now he was in the smaller barn that served as the farm's garage, standing underneath his Charger and checking the brake and fuel lines as he hummed along with the growling voice of Alice Cooper's "Feed My Frankenstein" as it blared from the stereo on the workbench.  Underneath, because the gleaming black car was currently standing on air roughly two feet above Jason's head as he scrutinised the underside.

    It had been a whim, really.  He knew he could move objects more easily than before, and had started to test that with objects in the garage.  First a toolbox, then the trickle charger.  He'd found he could move man-sized objects at roughly average running speed with little difficulty, though using them as weapons would probably be clumsy at best unless the target was standing still.  Finally he'd stood in front of the Charger, considering for a long moment before lifting a hand towards it, gently grasping it with his mental 'hand' and lifting.  It had been harder, but not insurmountably so as the muscle car - all three-thousand-plus pounds of it - had raised into the air steadily.  He had laughed at that, a boyish chuckle that his friends would have been surprised to hear, and dropped his hand to his side.  He didn't really need that Jedi-like gesture, and yet still took reassurance in the physical link - a habit to break, for certain. Excitedly, Jason wondered what his upper limit was - could he lift a Mack truck?  What about a passenger jet - a small one?  Could he even levitate himself? Although.. given the lack of fine control he was leary of trying to actually fly.  At least currently.

    For now, though, it was a very convenient tool that opened all manner of possibilities.  And so the lanky teen hummed, whistled and occasionally sang along with the classic rock belting out of his stereo as he called a wrench to his hand and, reaching up, began making a few small adjustments.

  18. Project 4 - The Game:  Jason.

    The cheering and applause of the crowd swelled and ebbed like an ocean, always a background noise now and then surging to thunderous heights as a play was made.  Jase kind of liked it: the crowd was a living, breathing animal compose of many smaller ones, and there he was in the middle of it.  It was a warm sense of connection, similar to that he felt when making contact with a friend.

    Moreover he could feel the crowd, the people around him.  Whatever the nature of his gift, this ‘Shine’, there was something about the exhilaration being felt by those around him that vibrated on some frequency he was receiving, however faintly.  As he watched Lilly feint making pass, fake a run then double back and shoot a pass to her receiver, he felt the home crowd thundering and smiled to himself, likewise coming to his feet and giving a piercing two-finger whistle.

    The game was a slaughter, really.  With Lilly on the Ranger’s side, the rest of the team would have to have been dribbling incompetents in order to lose.  There was a time in the first quarter where it seemed as though Shelly High’s star player was off her game, though.  She seemed distracted to Jase, and he wondered if the events and revelations of the day were perhaps too much for her to have processed in the scant time before the game took place.  She seemed to pull it together rapidly enough, though Jason marked it for later even as he settled in to enjoy the show.

    “That’s my girl!”  Jack Cassidy bellowed as Laurie belted a field goal home to the roar of the spectators about midway through the second quarter.  Sean grinned and cheered, and Jase found himself the startled recipient of one of Carolyn’s exuberant hugs – Sean’s mom being the sort to hug a nearby random person when excited.  He tolerated it with good grace, smiling and then giving another one of his loud whistles when his arms were free.  The Cassidys did their best to make him welcome in that expansive way that healthy families tended to do – which was one of the things he liked about them.  That, and they always seemed to think he needed feeding.  Which to be fair, he usually did.  For a skinny rake-shaped youth, he certainly ate a lot – something Carolyn approved of as a sign he was about to fill out.

    Which reminded him, he was out of snacks.

    He slid out of the stands and ambled in the general direction of the concession stands, keeping one eye on the game and passing Cassie en route, the pretty blonde obviously there in an official capacity, taking snaps of the crowd and players.  She spotted him, lowering her camera for a second and giving him a small smile and nod which the lanky teen returned, obviously in a good humor.  He left pitch-side and was taking a shortcut between the stands when someone called his name over the roar of the crowd.

    He turned and saw Stacey Collier, senior, cheerleader outfit and all, pink faced from exertion and excitement and with her dark hair in a fetching braid.  She jogged up to him as he waited, looking over her shoulder briefly before glancing up at his face.

    “Hey, Jason.”  She said with a charming smile, her blue eyes hesitant as they met his cold green stare.  Now was around the time that a guy should respond in some verbal fashion, but Bannon just looked at her with an air of patient disinterest.  Gamely, she forged on.  “So… Uh… I was wondering about your car.”

    “You were, hmm?” he replied, a faint twitch of a smile at the corner of his mouth.  Stacey reminded herself that she was a cheerleader, whereas he was a borderline crook and a nerd.  It was important to remember that, when two pale green laser beams were dissecting her soul.  “Is that all you were wondering about?”

    When did he get so tall? She asked herself absently.  He seemed aloof up there, a far cry from the slouching ne’er-do-well who dealt pot to her boyfriend and his buddies and wouldn’t look you straight in the eye.  Now that was all he did, and it was quietly disturbing.

    “Yes.” She rallied.  “I heard from Lacy, who heard it from Laurie that you built it?”

    “Restored it.” He corrected without any real rancor.

    “Right, restored it.” She twisted her fingers around each other.  Did the guy have no small talk?  No urge to brag?  Usually you couldn’t get guys to shut up about their cars…

    “You don’t really care about the car, do you?”  he asked, a faint flicker of amused curiousity in his gleaming stare.  She blushed, noting that his smile grew slightly.

    “No!  I mean, yes!  It’s beautiful-“

    “But it’s not why you’re here, talking to me.” He asserted with a raised eyebrow and tilted head.

    “I mean… Kinda?” she murmured, stepping closer to him and feeling a curious tingle run down her spine.  He didn’t react, just watched her.  “You changed over the summer, and word is you’re the brains behind that awesome party, and…”

    “And the whole school got a Snapchat image, and Courtney likes to gossip.” Jason stated wryly.  “I’m glad I don’t have a phone.”  Stacey giggled a little.

    “I asked around.  You’ve never had a girllfriend.” She ventured, standing right before him now, feeling the heat he gave off.  “Not even a date.”

    “Really.  And why would you be asking around?” he asked as though enquiring about the weather.  She reached out and placed both hands on his torso, looking up into an expression of cool curiousity.

    “Well, I was wondering what you were doing after the-“


    The shout came from the field end of the passageway, specifically from Kieran, who Jase recognized as a sometime customer as well as a defensive tackle for the team moments before the burlier senior slammed him bodily into the wall, holding the front of his t-shirt in both hands.

    “Kieran, stop it!”  Stacey yelled, pulling at her boyfriend’s arm without much success.  “He didn’t do anything.”

    “Right!  And he ain’t gonna do anything either!”  Kieran snarled at her before turning to glare into Bannon’s eyes, which met his gaze unflinchingly.  “Dude, do not make time with my girl.”

    “Didn’t know she was.”  Jase shrugged awkwardly, feeling his shoulderblades grinding into the wall.  “She didn’t mention it when she came up to me.”

    “Well, now you know.”  Kieran said, pushing on him a little harder.  “So you got it, right?  We cool!?”

    No, we are not ‘cool’, ape. I am Fire, and you are meat.

    “You might want to let go now.”  Jason stated calmly, but with a flicker in his gaze that was anything but.  “While you still have the choice.”  He could do it.  He could repay the insult with screams.  He felt that uncurling fury from inside once more.  Kieran’s scowl deepened and he lifted a fist, as the copper flecks in Jason’s eyes became fireflies-

    “Kieran Hunston!  Let him go this instant and I won’t tell the coach you’re back here fighting during a game!”  Ms Lafferty’s voice projected like a whipcrack.  Freezing, the burlier boy let go of Jason and stepped back, then turned and stormed away.  Jase glanced at Stacey, who was standing beside the Science teacher, having obviously fetched help.

    “I’m sorry.”  She said.  “I wasn’t trying to-“

    “No.”  Jase cut her off, his eyes finding a mane of red hair – Courtney, watching them.  You weren’t.  But you might want to tell Kieran you’re not interested before shopping around.  Do that, and maybe we can talk again."

    He turned his gaze to Ms Lafferty, nodding as she came closer and Stacey turned away.

    “Are you okay, Jason?” the teacher asked, her eyes doing a brief check for bruises or injuries.

    “Fine.”  He said, straightening his pink ‘Throw Like A Girl’ shirt.  “I wasn’t the one in danger.”  He smiled, the expression not reaching his eyes, then nodded to her again.  “Thank you, though.  That could have gone badly.”  His smile turned a little more friendly.  “Going to get snacks.  Want me to bring you anything?”

    At her mute shake of the head, he turned and headed off once more, as the crowd roared in the stands above – roared like a wildfire.

  19. I'd focus on the Football Game vignette, which you can just knock out at your own pace, then maybe whatever collabs grab your interest most / set up your own smaller one or two?  Seems like the best course.

  20. Marking my dance card for Interim fics:  (Note - not every slot has to be filled up.  This is just to help me keep straight the times and places of fics and hopefully help others when it comes to the collaborative pieces)

    Game, Friday - Vignette at the game, solo with mentions of others.

    Post-game celebrations:  We could all pitch in there - milkshakes and burgers at Bunnee's, etc?  Nothing big and dramatic, just hanging out.
    Late Friday Night: free

    Early-Mid Saturday Morning: free
    Late Saturday Morning:  'Clara's Unusual Request' - Totally filthy and shocking.  You will be scandalised.  Poor Jason.
    Saturday Afternoon:  'Coke, Conspiracy & Crazy'.  Meeting at Bannon's barn - setting up the string board, chilling out, bonding.  So far including Cassie, Cora, Lilly, Lona and Clara.  Anyone and everyone is allowed.  Except Eddy.  Cos seriously, screw Eddy.
    Saturday Evening:  'Netflix & Chill - No, Seriously' - Hanging out and chilling with Lona.

    Sunday Morning:  Jase will be hanging out with Hank for some requested tuition, may be confiding in his friend - unsure whether this will be a fic or not.
    Sunday Afternoon:  'Why Confine The Danger To A Room?'  - Powers practice, anyone?   So far Lona, Clara, Charlie, Cora and Lilly are signed up.  Sean might be able to make it.
    Sunday Evening:  'Scant Comfort' - Lilly is having a crisis due to finding out she's some kind of experimental ubermensch, which means her own sense of fair play won't let her pursue her dreams of professional and Olympic-level athletics.  After the power practice, she'll be hanging out to discuss it with whomever can grant a sympathetic ear... and Jase too, unfortunately.  So far, Jason and Lilly are signed up.

    Will make edits as needed. :)


  21. On the subject of the new Project, and Interim fics:

    On the night of the big game, Jase will be attending the game with the Cassidys.  He's there to support Lilly and Laurie, who he considers to be friends, and to eat junk food, because, well, Jason.  I'll be writing a vignette of a slice of his evening there, but he will be mobile around the stands and nearby during the game.  Either getting snacks or else just wandering, so people can see him / bump into him anywhere there.  Before the game he will be at home getting cleaned up and ordering pizza!  After the game, I'm not sure.  If there's an after-game get-together, Jase will show up if he's invited.


    Jason is naturally available for whatever hijinks his friends can persuade him to do.  He is interested in "Learning to People" as well as organising powers training and practice sessions, but honestly I'm open to whatever my co-writers want to write.  Funny, dramatic, weird or just chilled.

  22. Oddly, Jason didn't go literally incandescent at the involvement of Dr Cook or the mention of a four-decades long conspiracy.  He simply nodded, now and then asking a question to clarify what Lona was telling him, but otherwise remaining silent.

    "I actually think it might be worth seeing how Cook can help us."  he said at length, still chewing over Lona's news about the Dark having her phone number.  "He has resources.  We need them.  Especially with what we have found out."

    "You mean: play along?"  Lona asked, not quite sure she was hearing him right.  "Follow his direction like good little lab rats?"

    "Not at all."  Jason said, blowing a smoke ring.  "I follow no-one.  I do travel in the same direction as people when it suits me - until it no longer does."  He gave a thin smile at this last statement, and Lona stared at him for a moment.

    "You're going to try and play him."  Charlie not-quite accused.

    "I am going to extend cooperation.  So long as we each provide something the other wants, cooperation can continue."  Jase returned cold-bloodedly.  "He desperately wants to study what we can do.  We control the relationship.  Reveal as much or as little of our abilities as we feel comfortable with.  Speaking as someone who has made a school career of under-performing, I plan to be circumspect with what I show the good Doctor."  He jabbed a finger in the direction of the trailer.  "We are going to be doing some powers practice - my place is probably best due to the open spaces and no-one around.  Eddy is not to be invited nor told what we are doing.  He gets the mushroom treatment."

    "Mushro-  Ohh."  Lona nodded.  "Feed him shit and keep him in the dark, right?"

    "Right."  Jason replied, smiling a little at her.  "Make sure Clara understands that and keeps her boy toy out of my hair.  Please.  Because if I learn that Eddy knows more than he should or catch him snooping around my farm..."  He spread his hands in a shrug.  "Then she'll need a new pretty pet.  I suggest a Shitzu.  They're easier to housetrain."

    As that statement settled over the clearing like hoarfrost, Bannon tossed his keys up in the air and caught them as he placed the cigarette back in his mouth.

    "I'll be at the cars, eventually.  Going slow so as to avoid stones and thorns and fun things like that.  If anyone wants a lift I've room for one.  Personally, I'll be heading to my place, then ordering pizza.  I really want pizza."  He announced generally as he turned away and gingerly picked his way out of the clearing.  "If anyone else wants pizza, I'm buying."

  23. "Look then leap, perhaps?"  Jase suggested needlessly as he got to his feet, one hand keeping Autumn's hoodie in place until he could tie the baggy garment around his slender waist.  He looked off towards where Marissa and Autumn were... hugging it out?... as he tossed Lilly back her jersey.  "Here, you'll need this."

    "Eat a dick, Bannon."  Devin grumbled from the floor.  The lanky teen grinned, and then gingerly felt the side of his face, sensitive fingertips picking out where the scrapes on his face had been before tracing the gash at his hairline.

    "Scarring?" he asked Lona, who jerked her eyes up from her phone, peered at her handiwork and shook her head.

    "Shouldn't be much once it's done healing."  she opined.  "A little on your cheek there, and a faint one at the hairline.  They'll fade in no time."  Nodding, he ambled over to where his satchel and keys lay on the forest floor, the hoodie around his nethers thankfully sparing blushes from those who might otherwise have crimsoned.  Digging into a hidden pocket in the satchel, he extracted a roll-up with a happy little grunt of satisfaction, placing it between his lips.

    "Dude, so not the time to get wasted."  Lilly sighed as Jase turned back towards them all, theatrically patting himself as if looking for a light before snapping his fingers, causing a flame to dance on the tip of his forefinger which he brought to the end of his smoke, then made a show of blowing out.

    "Relax.  It's not weed." he replied around the end of the cigarette as he looped the strap of his satchel over one shoulder.  "And it calms me down - which I need right now, because I know I saw Eddy rolling up here with all of you."  Pale eyes, hooded from wariness, regarded those of the Fellowship who were in the clearing.  "Figured I ought to at least hear what's gone on before I do something nasty, and this smoke buys time for me to hear it."

    He took a deep drag, the end of the cigarette glowing red and gold, then exhaled the smoke in twin jets through his nostrils.  Despite the fact he wasn't exactly dressed to impress, being naked except for a girl's hoodie wrapped around his waist, it was hard not to take seriously his implication of something nasty happening to Etienne.

    "So who wants to fill me in?"

  24. "Hey, Devin.  You awake?"  Jase said from where he lay nearby, eyes half-open and gleaming in the sunlight from above.  He'd winced at the unusual knitting-together sensation of Lona's gifts, even as his repaired brain had started analysing exactly how it worked and replaying the entire fight.


    “You teleported.”  Jase raised a hand to the sky, examining the way the sunlight permeated his flesh.

    “That what it was?  Cool.”  Devin cracked one eye open.  “Dude, did you set yourself on fire, or was that more craziness?”

    “Defensive barrier of some kind.  The fire didn’t actually touch me.”  Jase stated, frowning slightly.  “It felt odd, though.  Like a warm breeze.”  He could feel the others moving around the clearing, Cass and Clara heading towards the trailer without looking.  He felt Autumn leaving, and Marissa getting up and following her.  “And it wrecked my clothes.  Hopefully I can extend it a little so it doesn’t do that anymore.”

    “I am so glad I didn’t flerpapork outta my clothes.”  Devin snickered.  “At least your thrift-shop chic will be cheap to replace.”

    “Teleport.”  Bannon corrected absently.  “And true.  I think I’ll buy a dozen sets of shorts for powers practice.  It’ll be cheaper.”

    “Man, how do you even think about that shit right now?”  Devin propped himself up on his elbows, glaring at his totally fucked jeans then at Jason just laying there with the red-head’s hoodie draped over him.  “We just dropped into Silent fucking Hill and fought a mutant fishasaurus with a mouth like Courtney’s coochie.  Why the fuck didn’t you run?”

    “Why didn’t you?”  Jase likewise propped himself up on his elbows, meeting Devin’s exasperated stare with his own calm curiousity.

    “Cause... Cause you didn’t!”  Devin blurted.  “And I asked first!”

    “I didn’t run because you didn’t.”  Jase replied with a small smile.  Devin stared at him, then the two boys both started laughing.

    “Big damn heroes, that’s us.”  Devin said through his laughter, laying back down again.

    “For sure.”  Jase agreed, smiling as he sat up.  “Clara said so.”  That was good for another round of quiet laughter, even though it wasn’t all that funny.  “Really, though?  I wasn’t going to run out on a friend.”  He tossed a granola bar at Devin which landed on the other boy’s chest.  "Any more than you would."

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