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Cassandra Allen last won the day on January 2

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  1. Casssandra's phone rang with an electronic arrangement of 'Jessie's Girl,' informing her that Autumn had sent a text. She gave her mom a pat on the shoulder, tapping out of the full-nelson momhug she'd been caught in. "I'd better see this," she said. Her mother released her and looked down at the phone warily. "Is that about..." "I don't think so, but..." Cass swiped into the phone and tapped the notification. -----Monday, 09/02/2019; 16:48----- <<<Group Text>>> [From: Autumn] Okay. You guys have about 15 to either come get these, or make arrangements to pick them up later. I'm not chasing you down. We've all got stuff to do today. "Oh! Shit, I mean, shoot that's right," she blurted. "The bracelets." Teresa's eyebrows drew together. "What?" "No, it's...it's normal. We're just supposed to meet up with Autumn, it's no big deal. I'd better go." Cassandra got to her feet, then gave her mom a quick one-armed hug around the shoulders. "See you soon, mom." She accepted the hug, but got one last zinger in before letting go. "You promise?" Her tone was light, but Cassie could see a steel-hard core of truth at the center of the words. "Yeah," Cass replied. "I promise. I'll see you soon." Then she was heading off again, texting back as she went, crossing over towards where the Keenes were making court, getting smaller and smaller until she was gone.
  2. "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."
  3. Teresa's face was starting to undergo a subtle but cataclysmic change. Chin firming, eyes narrowing slightly, jaw clenching. She gave Devin a very polite nod. "Devin." Cassandra waved a hand at her waist level, trying to attract her mom's attention. "Mom, just hold on a second. Whatever you're thinking, you're wrong." She looked at Devin and said, "Hey, thanks...I'm going to tell her everything and I need proof. Nothing I can do is...obvious, you know?" Now it was Devin's turn to nod. "Yeah, I know. Me and Marissa talked. It was a rhetorical question. Go get her." With a deep breath, Cass addressed her increasingly skeptical mother. "I'm psychic." Teresa frowned as her ears reported words that her brain refused to contemplate. "I'm sorry, what?" "It started in July...that party I went to? Some seriously weird things happened out there, and...a bunch of us got psychic powers. Me, Devin, Autumn, Jase, Lilly...you know, the kids I've been hanging out with." Her mom closed her eyes and started to turn away. "Jesus Christ, Cassie. Can't we get through one day..." She paused and looked back at Devin. "I'm sorry," she said, "maybe you'd better head back to your table. We're just..." Cassie nudged him, and Devin...not sure what else to do...held up a hand with his palm empty and up. Then the water bottle that had been on the table in front of Teresa was in his hand. "Are you sure you don't want a drink first?" he asked. And Teresa paused, her dismissal interrupted. Her brow furrowed slightly as she very visibly tried to parse out what she thought she'd seen. Had he grabbed it when she wasn't looking? He'd already had it, hadn't he? Devin didn't give her a chance. "No? Okay, guess I don't need this then." The water bottle vanished again. Only to be replaced by the plate of pie. "Looks like you like the pie at least." Cassandra's mother closed her mouth, then opened it...then sat down hard. Her eyes fell on the water bottle, and she very hesitantly reached out to touch it. Cassie leaned over the table and followed up on the opening. "That's what he can do. He can teleport things. Even himself. Jase can move things with his mind." Teresa shook her head. "Just stop," she said breathlessly. "Both of you, just stop. This isn't funny." "It's real," Devin replied evenly. "It's not a joke. Look." The pie vanished from his hand and appeared on the table in front of her. "It's not a trick." She touched the pie plate too, her hand shaking. "How is this possible?" Teresa asked, and her voice was no steadier than her hands. There was a kind of desperation in her eyes as she looked up to Cassandra. Cass could only shrug. "We don't really know how," she admitted. "We've been practicing, learning to use what we can do, but...in the end, we still don't understand how it works." Her mother swallowed hard and looked back at the pie. "Can you do that too?" "...no, I can see things." At the expression on Teresa's face, Cass quickly pressed ahead. "I mean, at a distance. Like remote viewing. And back in time. See, hear...like I'm there." She sat down across from her mom and reached out across the table. Teresa reached out as well, and they held hands over the table. "It's ok, mom. I know it's...weird, but it's not bad we can do these things." "I just...it's just a lot," replied her mother. "I have so many questions, and...it's still hard to believe even seeing it right in front of me." Cassandra nodded fervently. "Believe me, I know. We all went through some of that. It hasn't even been two months now, but it feels like it's been a year or more." "Oh my god," breathed Teresa. "I just... How did you never tell me this before?" "I mean...I didn't know how. At first we were still learning, still experimenting. And then it was like...you already didn't trust me, and I didn't know how to prove it, and I didn't feel okay about..." Teresa frowned and motioned a hand, cutting Cass off. "Wait. I'm sorry, what? I didn't trust you? What are you talking about?" Cassie sighed and reached up to scratch at an eyebrow. "I just mean...you know. All that stuff about the prison, and dad and the military... I'd pretty much spent all my credibility like, forever ago. And that was on stuff that was at least somewhat plausible. What was I going to do, just knock on your door and say, 'hey mom, I can see things happening a state away if I try hard enough, even though I can't prove it to you.' That would have gone over real well." Her mother was still for a long moment, then said, "Okay. Okay, maybe you have a small point. But, I mean..." "No, I get it. You don't have to explain." Cassandra took a deep breath. Her mother seemed like she was recovering from the shock. "There is...more though." She laughed shakily. "What, having...powers isn't enough?" "It's probably more than enough, but there's more." The serious tone in Cassandra's voice caught Teresa's attention. "What is it?" Cassie glanced up at Devin and said, "You don't have to stay if you don't want to. Mission accomplished." She smiled. "I owe you one."
  4. With her hands loaded with conciliatory pie, and Bacon trotting happily at her side, there was only one missing element to her grand unified plan to tell her mom that...everything she'd believed about the universe was a cruel lie. Oh god. And that was Devin. Cassandra immediately grasped that looking around the grounds wasn't the best way to do this. Instead she fished her non-pie hand into her pocket and fished out her phone...then texted him. >>hey can u come to my table? by the big tree with no leafs on the left branch...gonna give mom the talk and need proof<< She spotted her mom sitting at that very table and felt her hands getting clammy. Marissa was right that it wasn't complicated. Not really. But it was still terrifying. The complexity of the situation wasn't about psychic powers or facing danger. It was wrapped up in the complexity of Cassandra's strained relationship with her mother the past several years. How strained it was, and why it was strained. And on top of that, Teresa wasn't...she didn't like supernatural fiction or stories, she wasn't into fantastic tales. Cass had no sense for how she'd react, finding out that the world was darker and deeper than she'd ever known. But she had to know. There was simply no alternative. As Cassie arrived at the table her mom looked over at her and smiled affectionately. It was a smile that reminded Cass painfully of a time when they weren't in such short supply. There had to be a better time... ...there wasn't though. This was it. Literally it. Tonight she might die. Teresa had to know. Now. She put the plate of pie on the table and slid it over to her mother. "Hey. Compliments of the Bannons. It's really good." "Ohhh, wow," Teresa sighed as she dipped her fork tines into the pie, then plucked them back out and tasted them. She always did that with pastries, always tasted them on her fork before taking a bite. "Mmm, that's really good. It's, uh...it's just...there's not any...nonstandard ingredients right?" Cassandra couldn't help but laugh. "Yeah, it's full of pot, mom, what do you think?" Her mom laughed in return and took a bite. "It's addictive enough to be true." She took a second bite then another look at her daughter. With that terrifying insight mothers have she then asked, "Everything okay?" Her tone clearly conveyed she already knew everything wasn't. "Not...exactly," Cass replied. "I need to talk to you. About...everything. Everything I haven't been talking to you about. For...jesus, for months now, I guess." Teresa had paused in eating the pie, listening and watching Cassandra intently. She took a guess, "Is this related to all your new friends,and how much time you're spending with them?" "Partly," said Cassie with a nod. "It includes that. And...just...it's not bad, exactly. I need you to know that up front. It's not bad news. It's just...complicated and challenging, and I...I'm talking about talking about it, instead of talking about it. Shit." She took a deep breath. "Okay. Uh. Once Devin gets here." Now Cassandra's mom narrowed her eyes with vast and descending suspicion. "Jesus, Cassie. Devin? Really?"
  5. Cassandra quickly scooped up a pair of plates and said, "Definitely pie. And...if I could trouble you for two pieces? Even with Devin for a wingman, I feel like a little pie-bribery can't hurt." As the precious cargo was offloaded to her plates she added, "This is going to be really hard but if I get through this fight, she'll find out sooner or later." Cassie lifted her slice of pie up to eye it it from the side, examining its scrumptious filling in detail. "It's going to hurt her, and she's been hurt so much already...it feels bad. But she needs to know. It'll be easier on us both to get it done now. If I don't make it back, at least she'll know why." Then with a sudden wry grin she looked back up at Jase and Marissa and said, "Wooo, fourth of July! Partyyyyyyy!" in a self-mocking tone. "I'm gonna go check with Devin and make sure he's okay with helping me out with this. Thanks for the pie, and the words of advice, Marissa...Jason. It's stuff I kind of knew, but for some reason it really helps to hear it from outside my own head."
  6. Cassandra paused right in mid-grin at Marissa's antics when the question got popped and she shook her head. "I've been trying to think of the right way to say it, and the right time...but...I think I just have to accept that there is no right way or right time. It's just...my mom already thinks I'm crazy even when I'm not claiming I have psychic powers and and going to another dimension to fight ultimate darkness. I just..." she hesitated, then plunged on, "...I'm afraid that we'll just get into another fight over it. And I really really don't want the last thing we ever said to each other to be the things we said in a fight. Ever since dad d...disappeared, she's been locked in a little room in her head, ignoring everything that doesn't fit into it, and I guess I sort of get why, because everything's a lot to deal with, but...I just don't think I fit into that room anymore, and I don't really know what to do about it." A cold wet thing pushed against her leg, and Cassie glanced down to see Bacon nosing her and peering soulfully up at her. Partly out of sympathy...but also because she hadn't finished her food. Cassie lowered her plate, with its scraps of meat on it, down for Bacon...being careful to hold the bones back away out of reach. Bacon happily tipped the plate down with a practiced move that made the meat slide off, then licked it clean. "We feed you plenty at home," Cass said affectionately, scruffling the dog's neck and shoulders. "I don't know why you always want to eat so much." Then Cassandra looked back up, a little embarrassed at her confession. "So, it's complicated, I guess? I know I have to tell her something though."
  7. "Hey...Beth." Cassandra and her friend had slowed the game down as both they and Bacon got winded, and were now parked under a tree not far from the Allen's table. Bacon lay between the two, gnawing on the frisbee and enjoying the pats and scritches he got from them as they chatted. The afternoon heat was building to its peak, but a constant light breeze made taking a moment like this to sit very refreshing. Bethany gave her a smile as she looked up from where she was tickling Bacon's ribs gently and asked, "What?" Now on the spot, Cassie hesitated. What to say? "This is going to sound weird, but...it's been on my mind lately," she said slowly, testing each word as it came out of her. "I just...want you to know that I never forgot about you or wanted to not be friends with you. And I still feel like you're my best friend. Even though we..." And her feeble inspiration sputtered out there. "...don't see each other much anymore?" replied Beth with a little mischief and a little regret. When Cassie nodded, Beth went on, "We sort of got sucked into different circles, I guess. Now you have your friends and I have mine, and...my friends play board games and watch sci-fi and cartoons, while you guys..." Here Beth frowned, "I don't know...get in fights in the hall? What DO you guys do?" Cass hesitated at that, then shook her head. "That...we mostly hang out. Like...it's hard to explain. We're all really different people, but there's just something that holds us together." Secrets, she thought. Strongest social glue there is. A shared secret. And here she was, keeping it. Others had told their families, or friends. Why not her? "I'll tell you what," Cassandra said. "I will give you all the deets and the day in the life of, after Homecoming. You know, if I still can." She broke a smile at that, even though it was not a joke, and Bethany laughed because it sounded like one. "I just didn't want you to feel like there was anything, like, bad between us. At least not on my end. I know I kind of disappeared on you, but that wasn't because of you. I was just...kind of messed up." Beth leaned over to give her shoulder a squeeze. "Thanks. Was it your dad?" Cass shook her head. "No, it...I mean okay it was partly that, later on. But even before any of that happened I was just sort of... I felt like I was spinning out of control. Like, you remember that flat rock out by the quarry that we'd lie down on and look up at the stars, and you could close your eyes and feel dizzy? Like the whole world was spinning you off? Like that. Only all the time. I didn't like what I used to like, or like to do what I used to like to do, and I didn't feel like I even knew myself anymore. And then I met Dylan and the other kids over there and it was just really simple for them. You know? Fuck all that shit. Who cares? Just...fucking...enjoy the good times, and deal with the shit times when and if they come, because you can't stop them from coming." With a wince, Beth said, "I can think of a bunch of ways that could mess things up..." "Yeah," Cassie sighed. "And...it got old. Once I decided I knew what I wanted to do. But it was really nice for awhile not feeling like I had to know." Bethany reached out to give Bacon's head a long, epic-level petting. "You could have talked to me." "I know. I wish I had. I just...it felt really bad. Like I was a failure. Like, I was flunking remedial Being Alive." Cassandra ripped up a fistful of grass and started tossing it into the breeze, one blade at a time. "No, you're not a failure," Beth tried to say, but Cass quickly shook her head. "I know. That's not now, that was then. I'm feeling a lot better now. I'm okay, Beth, really. I just really wanted you to understand. None of it was about you. You were always a great friend, and...I hope we're still..." Beth reached out again, this time to put her hand over Cassandra's mouth. "I get it," she laughed. "We're still friends. It's okay. Okay?" Cass leaned over to pull Beth into a hug and blinked back tears. "Yeah," she said. "Yeah, it's okay." They sat there a bit longer in the shade of the tree, then parted to their respective families. Both looked forward to seeing each other again, but only one was confident it would happen. After Beth had to get back to her table, Cassandra checked in with her mom, then went on a bit of a walkabout of the grounds. With the afternoon heat rising and sunset still hours away, some families were already starting to pack up to go back to where the air was conditioned. She did spot, however, some other friends off in the thinning crowds. Autumn was easily visible from her floof of wind-tossed orange hair, and the uncanny height of the boy at her side. Cassandra headed that way to see how they were doing and was just in time to see one of the most unintentionally PG-13 examples of PDA that she expected to see outside an arthouse cinema movie. Jason's height made it seem, from a distance, like it was an adult macking on Autumn too, which was a little weird. Still on her way over, Cass put a pair of fingers in her mouth and whistled like her dad had taught her, making a shrill 'wolf whistle' sound that was clearly audible even at a distance. Bacon, still half-galloping at her side, lifted his head and barked at the noise as well. As she got closer Cassie recognized others there too. Marissa for sure, though she was hazy on the dude she was with. She'd seen him around school, but couldn't place the name right away. Jason was sure sizing him up though, and that was...interesting? Concerning? Autumn was still Autumn though, and was blushing intensely at having been interrupted in her 'extracurricular activities.' "Hey!" Cass called, waving. "Autumn!" Bacon then ran ahead to Autumn and Jase, eager to meet whoever Cassandra was so interested in.
  8. Julia: [smiles for the camera] "Hello, everyone. The next in our cast interview series is the 'will-they/won't-they power couple of Weirder Stuff. One is an irreverent, thrillseeking teenage troublemaker...the other an intrepid reporter in-training. One of the big surprises this season was how, despite getting on each other's nerves so much, they seem to be looking to forge some kind of relationship together. I am of course speaking of Cassandra Allen, and Devin Jauntson." [turns in her chair to face to the side as the camera pans over to show the two actors sitting next to one another on a pair of canvas seats] Cassandra: [grinning excitedly] "Hi, Julia! Thanks for doing this for the show, and the viewers and...and everyone! Mwah!" [she blows a kiss to the camera] "I'm Cassandra, and I play the character of Cassandra Allen on Weirder Stuff." [looks over at Devin's actor](edited) Devin: [waves] "Heyo, everyone. Thanks for taking time Julie, these meet and greets have been awesome. I am Devin Jauntsen and I play, well, myself. [laughs, looks to Ellen] When did we become a power couple? I thought we were still in the plucky comic relief zone." Cassandra: "We can be the plucky power comic relief couple!" [holds up a finger] "Not that I'm confirming we're a couple. That would be spoiling. After the lectures Autumn gets, I am not stepping in that puddle." Devin: [Laughs] "Nope. She needs constant supervision." Julia: [nods, smiling.] "Oh, we've all heard she is a handful. So, out of curiosity, how does the couples thing work? How does the show determine who 'hooks up' with who? Writers? Producers? Do you have any say in it?" Cassandra: [shrugs] "The director and writers seem like they're open to comments, but we're not really on that team, you know? Like, mostly we can say something like, 'I think my character would say this instead of that' or that kind of thing. Not so much 'I think I should fall in love with someone else.' Because that would change the whole story." Cassandra: [laughs] "Which is just fine with me, by the way! These guys are WAY better at writing that kind of thing than I am!" Devin: [nods] "There's a lot of meetings about the story, too. We get a lot of say, but ultimately it boils down to what's best for the story. Like, the Cassy/Devin has on the fanbase's mind since that first night they held hands running for their lives... but even we shrugged and thought 'eh, these two really don't have a lot in common, there needs to be more story', so it was added as more of a writing tool and we've flirted and joked since to build that rapport. Now, the fanbase is going nuts and we're not telling." [grins as he looks to the camera] Cassandra: [nods] "Like, right from the start it was them, on that first night when everything went crazy, you know? When the monster shows up and that air force guy...they sort of dived into that swimming pool together, even more than with the others in the team." Julia: "As actors, do you have any kind of emotional investment in this fictional relationship? Independently of the fan response? Is this something you're pulling for?" Devin: "Wow. Breaking out the big guns. Um, I would say yes. I mean, we really have a lot of fun and we really get into the emotion and the ups and downs of these teenagers' lives. There are a few episodes that I was so invested in that sometimes I felt like I knew the characters more than the actors. We were just delivering the emotion, you know? So, to finally have Cass and Devin out in the spotlight it feels good. These two are the characters who really have the potential to get themselves into trouble with a lot bickering. Could be funny." Cassandra: [lifts a thumbs up] "I am a total fan of the direction this show is going right now, including and especially Cass and Dev. They are super cute." Devin: [shrugs, looking innocently] "Plus, let's face it, no woman escapes Devin. They all want him, it's just a matter of time." Julia: [lughs] "He does have that certain measure confidence, doesn't he? How alike are you to the persona you play? How much of yourself is into making the character and the show work?" Cassandra: [laughs] "Devin, you go first on this one." Devin: "What? Why me? [Laughs] Uh, I honestly am not a whole lot like Devin. I am a gymnast, but that's about it. Devin is very anti-nerd has no filters or shyness to him. Me? I'm big into a few nerdy things, like my Star Wars and MCU. I just love special effects, which is what pulled me to this project. I was actually embarrassed that scene where Cass touched Devin's chest... it tickled and her hand was really cold. I'm more mellow and reserved, like my sister. To be honest, I don't think I could put up with a guy like Devin for very long, but that's the appeal of the trope." Cassandra: [nods] "I'm very different too. I could never do the kind of things Cassandra in the show does. I freak out very easily. That whole thing where she and Autumn go into the town hall?" [shakes head] "Nope. Uh uh. I'd take, like one look at it and move right out of town. I mean, no joke, that whole scene took forever because I had to calm down between half the takes, and I knew it was just a story." Devin: "We loved filming that day, watching those two be creeped out by a scene we all knew was fake was a serious hat tip to the effects people." Julia: "That's a good segue. How does the cast of this show get along behind the scenes? You clearly know how to work together, but you're also playing a bunch of teenagers. Is there any real life teenage drama that goes on?" Cassandra: "I mean...it's not high school or anything. We're a pretty tight crew, we're all friends. Even the people you don't see every episode, we all see each other basically every day. The only real drama is what we put in front of the cameras." Devin: [nods] "True. I mean we all have our quirks, like if Jason breaks character it takes him an hour to get back in the game, which is frustrating, but then again, they all put up with my pranks and gags and Autumn and me trying to make them laugh during their scenes, so fair is fair." Julia: "Devin I spoke with your sister and she said you presented her with the project and she fell in love with it. How did the you and Cass get involved with this?" Devin: "Uh, well, I got a tip from a friend who said this project was coming up, and I had the opportunity to see a few highlights of the proposal and it seemed so... wonky. The sci-fi/horror/super heroes aspects of the show really appealed to me, and I just had to see those special effects, y'know? Originally I wanted the role of Bannon, because my sister and I are always cast as the well-off teens or popular kids, but after Mari and I got the call Eric (Kripke) was like: 'dude, we have the perfect power set for you, you're going to love it'. And I do. Cassandra: "As for me, this is my first big role." [grins eagerly] "I got into theater in high school, and decided to really push myself with it when I went to college, so I didn't just take courses...I did community theater too. One of my friends wound up being involved in the production and he gave me a tip about the auditions being planned." [shrugs] "There was a lot of luck involved, but in the end, the director and producer really liked what I did, and here I am." Julia: "Devin, you said you wanted the role of Jason Bannon. Are there any other roles in the show you might have been interested in? What about you, Cassandra?" Cassandra: [shyly] "I knew who I wanted to be from the start. Just reading like...the first cold read lines they gave us for the audition. I just sort of locked on." Devin: "Cade, actually is the role they considered for me. Jock, bit a sweetheart, big and lovable. When they merged mine and Marissa's role's into the twins, they selected me as the Devin character who was the loudmouthed opposite to Marissa's mean girl." Julia: "So, all this energy on the set and all the shenanigans. Give the viewers a couple of examples awkward blooper that have occurred, either between you two, or another cast member. My Twitter feed has been blowing up with that one." [grins] Cassandra: [buries her face] "Oh god." Devin: [laughs, looking at Cass] "This I gotta hear." Cassandra: "Okay." [looks up, very redfaced] "This is going to get me into trouble, so I hope you and everyone appreciates this." [she laughs nervously] "So, as I said I came here from community theater, and there things could be kind of...rowdy. Like, it was really common to play tricks on each other, and I didn't really get right away that those aren't always as appropriate here? Anyway, there was originally a shot in the town hall scene where Autumn has to reach into a hole in the wall because we saw something in there. She was supposed to pull out an old, wrecked teddy bear, but I swapped it with..." [somehow turns even redder] "A...different item. Between takes." Cassandra: [laughs again] "So she is expecting to see a teddy bear, and instead she pulls out this...thing for ladies? Can I say it?" [looks offscreen] Julia: [laughs] "A dildo?" Cassandra: [covers mouth again and nods] "The funniest part was that she didn't really know what it was at first, so she FREAKED OUT for real, thinking it was a snake or something. I had to go apologize to her, and then we spent another ten minutes laughing until we cried, and every time we tried to do the scene we couldn't keep a straight face. So they had to just cut the scene completely." Devin: "Cass and Autumn really do not need to be in the same room together. They're always plotting and scheming. So, when Devin takes Laurie on the trip and he is trying to coax her into swimming out to the boat, the scene sort of ends. Well it's assumed he eventually talks her into just jumping and letting go of some of her fears... but we weren't supposed to jump." Cassandra: [thumbs to Devin] "But genius here..." Devin: [laughs] "I'm getting to that. So, I though we were supposed to actually jump... so I did, and everyone just freaks the hells out. It was quite the drop, but thought I was supposed to go first... turns out I was wrong and we had the whole EMS situation happening. I was fine. No injuries, but sure scared the hell out of everyone. Also, I ad-lib, a lot." Cassandra: "By a lot, he means makes the scrip us as he goes." Devin: "I works! I think we ran the total... almost 89% of all my made up lines have made it in so far. Because I forget my lines. Also a lot." Cassandra: "Because you miss rehearsals!" [playfully shoves his arm] Devin: "I wouldn't say I miss them." [laughs] Julia: "Okay now, here's a question I know a lot of people are interested in, including myself. Devin and Cassandra, you say you're very different from your television personas. What kind of real experiences do you draw from the most to create these characters? Where do you find them inside yourselves and how do you bring them to life?" Cassandra: "For me, it's mostly just sort of...fantasy I guess? Even when I was little, I always used to, you know, play make believe and stuff about being an explorer or adventurer or whatnot. Like I was super into Raiders of the Lost Ark. Partly because my dad was, but after awhile I liked it because of this...idea it had. One person, basically on their own, trying to solve a mystery on one hand and stay alive on the other. So now, even though I have a clearer idea of how dangerous that kind of thing would be, there's still that place way down deep that remembers what I felt. That's what I draw from. On the show I can be sort of...girl Indiana Jones. I love it." Devin: "My sister and me grew up Disney, so acting is something we're used to, however, this experience has been completely different, since it is the fist non-Disney production we've done. I pull that from my people out here with me. In that scene, after the giggles and bad takes, you get the one perfect scene, I can feel that moment. Jason doesn't let you act, he comes at you in a scene and you have to be prepared. Cass is always smiling and you get a serious feel for how up beat and plucky she's trying to be while hiding pain... I can empathize and sympathize with everything my fellow stars are throwing at me. I will say that Autumn is a little more difficult because of that control she has on her accent. One second it's all WS Autumn and then the scene cuts and she yammers away in the thickest Aussie accent I've ever heard... she destroys us." Julia: [laughs] "I have to get her in one of these chairs! She seems great. So this whole thing seems to be an epic project, there's no telling where your roles will take you, but we've all seen it before in cinema, someone has to go evil at some point. Chip in the head, possessed by a demon, From Willow to Supergirl, everyone gets their time to play the villain. Who do you think it will be, and if not you, why?" Cassandra: "For Cassie, the only thing I think that might get her to turn on her friends might be her dad. We find out partway through the season that..." [air quotes] "...rumors of his death and so on, might not be all they're cracked up to be. So that's a big point of leverage over her, potentially. I think an experience like that would be literally the worst thing in the world for her though. I'm actually a little afraid just thinking about trying to act that." Devin: "See, I love that though about this show, the Fellowship are not all besties, and they all have a slew of their own problems. The alliance is flimsy, at best, and something like Cass's father could easily pull her and possibly another member two in opposite directions with the others. They're the good, guys, sure, but like Marissa would say: 'never confuse good, for nice'. I see any number of things tearing Devin off onto his own thing, but evil? Aside from mind control, I just don't see Devin as having the heart for evil. Even as a bully he just picked on people and he's carrying the guilt a long way. As for who would turn? My money is on Marissa, that girl is shiesty." Cassandra: "I'm actually kind of jealous of Marissa...the actress, I mean. This script is really sticking it to her character, but she's giving her performance so much heart that even when she's at her worst, I still love her. It's just incredible." Devin: "Season 2... the Cassandra/Marissa team up episode... sugar and spice. I'd totally write it in." Julia: [laughs] "You say you don't share much with your onscreen character, but I can definitely see some resemblance. Now Devin, you mentioned your background at Disney and I can't help but wonder...how does this experience, making a show that covers some very dark and gritty ground, compare with what you were doing for the Mouse?" Devin: "Ah, it's been a completely different experience. Marissa and me grew up doing a bit more wholesome programming, but when this opportunity hit, I mean, we're nineteen now, we can't be at Disney forever. We honestly took a risk on this show, we carried a few fans with us and others didn't want to make the journey, but if Marissa and Autumn's social media accounts are any indication, the fan base is blowing up for this show, and for that I'm glad. This is why I got into this line of work, to entertain. I'm glad that we're doing that for so many." Julia: [nodding] "The popularity of the show took a lot of people off-guard. Now I have to ask...even in just the first season we've seen that the writers aren't afraid to use a character's death to drive home the 'horror' aspect of the narrative. Do any of you know which episode on the show will be your last?" Cassandra: "Oof, I know I don't. But you know, even the cast doesn't always see the biggest twists coming way in advance. Annnnnnnnd even if they did..." [smiles] "Spoilers..." Julia: "All right all right, spoilers aside...Are there any plot twists from the current season that came out of left field and you didn't expect?" Devin: "I thought Marissa and Charlie were going to be a hook up. Nerdy drama kid with the mean girl... I was voting for that one, but it just didn't float, I guess." Cassandra: [nods] "That, and I'm still kind of shocked over what happened to Charlie and Sophia. It's kind of like...we knew the stakes were high, and the bad guys meant business...but he's one of us. The knights in shining armor aren't supposed to have that kind of thing happen to them." Julia: "I felt that way myself, and from the comments and social media reactions, so did a lot of people. As long as we're on the subject though, out of all of these scenes, what was the most difficult for you to film this season?" Devin: [laughs] "Uh, me and Avalon. That was my first intimate scene that wasn't just a kiss... so, yeah. In between takes I was all 'that okay', 'everything okay', 'do I need to change it up'? She was awesome though, we kept making jokes and keeping it light, so it made the experience easier. Still though, I mean, she's a co-worker, and even as an actor, it always feels weird kissing or faking-out with a co-worker. It's still a stranger, you know?" Cassandra [nods] "I'm still really nervous about that too. Anyway, for me? It may sound kind of trivial, but the scenes where Cass fights with her mom are really hard for me, because that is so not my relationship with my parents. I can barely imagine talking to them like that, or just...being that angry at them. It legit made me feel really uncomfortable. I mean, there's been scary scenes...and sometimes acting with the CGI is hard...but the most difficult was just lipping off with mom." [smiles] Fortunately, Teresa is super cool between takes." Julia: [smiles understandingly] "Going the other way then...what was your favorite scene to do so far?" Devin: "The Devin/Jason spar. Jason is a solid method actor, but we were having the time of our lives being hooked to the wires all day. Also, any scene where all of us are in it, like Bunees or school. Get us all together and the you can see the chemistry. We really all rock together." Cassandra: [thoughtfully] "Yeah...for me, it's down to that whole sequence at Jase's place, or the camping trip, or the town hall. And as much as I love the whole cast together, I'm going to have to go with the town hall. When we got to the room that had the big, you know, the..." [gestures upward threatningly] "...the picture? And we found all the stuff the previous victims left behind... Me and Autumn were just so inside that moment. It really kind of summed up what the character of Cassandra is to me, and kind of what this show is to me too." Julia: "Thanks, both of you, for joining me here and giving everyone a tantalizing glimpse of the people behind this phenomenon called Weirder Stuff. Do either of you have anything else you want to tell your fans before we're done?" Cassandra: [puts hands over heart] "Just that I've been completely blown away by how...just how positive the fandoms and communities growing up around the show have been, towards us, towards the writers and directors and the characters. They've all been really patient with me, social media noob, and encouraging...and that's made a huge difference for me. Thanks to everyone for making me feel welcome like that." Devin: [Gestures to Cassandra] "I mean, that. We're certainly having a lot of fun doing this but it's all the fans that make it worth while, so yeah, we love you guys and keep doing what you do so we can keep delivering what we do." Julia: "Speaking as a fan myself, we love you too and definitely keep it up. Thanks for taking this time to talk." Cassandra: "Thanks, Julia!" Devin: [waves and smiles to everyone out in DVD Extras land]
  9. It only took maybe fifteen minutes before Cassandra started feeling a little awkward sitting at a picnic table with her mom. There were too many secrets between them. Cass watched her across the flaking, sundried planks of the tabletop, reading whatever book she was into at the moment on Kindle on her phone, and wanted to talk to her. But what about? Hey mom, me and my friends have super powers now? We're going to go into a shadow hellscape and fight demons with our powers? No? Okay, how about dad's alive and at the prison but he's been brainwashed and might not remember us anymore? How about that? The worst thing was that the reason she couldn't talk about any of that wasn't exactly that she didn't think her mom could take it. It was that Cassie knew her mom would not for an instant believe any of it. And would, in fact, assume her daughter was just being cruel. Mocking her. "Hey mom," Cass said, "Can I ask you something?" "Sure hon," was Teresa's absentminded response as she swiped a finger to turn a page. Cassandra hesitated and scratched at the picnic table's surface, watching more flakes of ancient paint peel away. Had it been green once? Light blue? "Do you trust me?" Her mother glanced up from her phone and pushed her sunglasses down her nose some so she could meet Cassandra's gaze eye to eye. "Do I trust you?" "Yeah. When I...say things, or tell you things." Teresa shrugged. "I trust your intentions...mostly." On seeing Cassandra's face turn a combination of disappointed and outraged, she quickly added, "I know you mean well, but you...tend to jump to conclusions is all. You see a few pieces of 'evidence' which may or may not really be linked to anything, make up an elaborate story about how it all happened...and boom. Next thing I know you're breaking into prisons and almost getting arrested." Cass slumped on her bench. "Mom," she said in protest, but didn't get any farther. "Hon, I get it. I used to love 'sherlocking it' too when I was younger. When you're smart and educated and perceptive, there's this temptation to feel like you can just unravel mysteries with a couple of shrewd observations and a bit of mental addition." Teresa shook her head. "But that's not how it works. Sherlock Holmes was a shit character in a very entertaining, but very poorly written detective series. The only reason he was ever right about anything was that the literal author of his reality wanted him to be. His actual process? Garbage." Now Cassandra sat up straighter. "You think I don't know that? That's not what I'm trying to do! Why do you think I got into the prison in the first place? To find out if my hunch was right!" "Uh huh." Teresa pushed her tinted glasses back up her nose. "And how did that work out for you? Not only did it get us in a lot of trouble, but all it did was prove you wrong." "Okay, so if I told you dad was alive, you wouldn't even consider listening?" she challenged. Her mother paused, then set her phone down and took off her glasses. The eyes underneath were...not angry. Tired, more like. "Baby, he's gone. We saw a doctor about this." "What if I had proof?" Cassie went on recklessly. Her fist dove into her pocket, grabbed her phone. The one that had a copy of the photograph of her dad on it. Teresa rubbed her eyebrows and slid her hand down her face to prop up her chin on her elbow. "Can we not, Cass? It's a nice day. A...a holiday, and...can we just not? For one damn day?" For a few seconds Cassandra wobbled on the brink...then she let go of her phone, even though her fingers felt stiff doing it. In her mind's eye she could see the results of her mother really believing her husband was alive and well, but completely beyond her grasp. Just more pain. She closed her eyes tightly. I just wanted to tell you the truth. "Yeah. Sorry. We...we can not. I'm going to...I'll just be over there. For a bit." Cass stood up and grabbed the frisbee she'd brought along, then whistled for Bacon. The big old dog wuffed and came after her as she hurriedly walked a little ways off from the table. Frisbee with Bacon was basically throwing the disc, having him catch it, then trying to wrest it away from him...and doing it again. It was fun, but it wasn't a proper game. That was why Cassandra was so pleased to see Bethany come over towards her, waving a hand over her head. Beth burned like a vampire, so she had a baseball cap on, and even then a smudge of sunscreen on her nose, cheeks and chin. Not a lot of words were exchanged, but greetings and a hug, and a quick reallocation of game resources ensued. NOW the game was more like a sort of 'keep away' from Bacon, with the girls trying to throw the frisbee high enough and fast enough (but not TOO high or TOO fast or it wasn't a game) to elude Bacon's mighty jaws. Bacon usually won these games, but they were fun to play. Teresa watched the girls and the dog play for a bit, feeling an odd little tug to maybe join them. Maybe later, she reasoned, after they'd slowed down a little. For now, this book wouldn't read itself... But when she looked back at the digital pages on her phone's screen, brightened up to full to remain visible in the sunlight, Teresa couldn't quite get herself to concentrate. This was the second time Cassie had talked about him. And something about her voice when she'd asked if she trusted her. They'd need to talk about this tonight. They'd both be feeling better after a nice day in the warm sun, and some picnic food. Then they could talk.
  10. "Are you sure you know how to grill?" Cassandra's mother asked for the third time as they got out of the car and went around to the trunk to bust out their picnic gear. Cassandra shook her head dismissively. "Mom, it's the 21st century. You don't have to know anything anymore. It's all online." She held up her phone, which had a video of someone grilling 'great bbq chicken in under ten minutes' up. "So...what, you have to carry a phone everywhere and pay for access to every skill you need?" Teresa asked pointedly. Cassie shrugged. "Just until they can wire it into our heads directly. Besides, you sell books. That's charging for knowledge." "Hon. Library. We don't charge." "Hon. Taxes. You totally charge. It's just...harder to see." Cass stuck her tongue out. Teresa hauled out an armload of bags of groceries for the cookout and stared her daughter down. "Taxes keep the library open, but that's not the same thing as charging for books." Bacon, still in the back seat of the car, barked and awkwardly hopped up so his front paws were on the glass of the window. Cassandra glanced at Bacon and went over to let him out. "No but really. Like, what keeps a bookstore open? Profits from book sales. That's how they pay salary and rent on the building and all the taxes and stuff on them. So what keeps a library open? Sure some fees, like late charges...which are also sort of after-the-fact charges for books..." "No, those are completely avoidable!" "...but also local and county taxes. If it wasn't for those, you'd have to charge per book. As it is, you don't...but that's basically because everyone who isn't using the library, but does pay taxes, is subsidizing everyone who does use the library." Teresa sighed and looked around the Carousel fields. "Is it too late to encourage you to pursue a different vocation? What were you into before? Skateboarding? I hear that's a nice profession that doesn't involve as much talking back to your parent." "AND IN SUMMARY," Cassandra finished, "The internet is awesome, even if it costs money to access and is probably going to mean everyone gets stupider because it enables intellectual laziness. This chicken he made really does look good though." "It had better be, because you're now the honorary chef." Cassie opened the door, scowling. "I was thinking I'd serve in a supervisory capa...BACON!" The dog exploded out of the car with enough force to knock Cassandra back a few steps and bolted joyfully across the field. He made a beeline for the black Labrador that was snuffling around one of the unoccupied picnic spots. They exchanged doggie butt-sniff greetings, and then the German Shepard noticed something else that earned a bark. Cassandra spotted where Bacon was going next and winced. Was that a...lamb? A goat? It was kind of far away. What would Bacon do to a goat? "Hey mom, I'm gonna go get Bacon back. There's an open place over there." Teresa glanced over, shading her eyes, then said, "I'm not carrying all this stuff by myself." "I'll be right back!" Cassie called, already running off. "Promise!" --- Meanwhile, over near where the Houses of Keane and Crocker were holding court, Laurie was belatedly crossing to follow to where her family was setting up shop with her goatling hopping along at her side. The gamboling Rascal was suddenly accosted by a very curious dog. Bacon went up to Rascal and sniffed him all over. This earned a playful head-butt in response. Cassandra came running up not far behind, looking a bit winded. "Hey, sorry, that's my dog," she explained. "Bacon! Over here!" The German Shepard reluctantly disengaged and trotted over to sit at Cassandra's side, panting. "He wasn't going to hurt him or anything," Cass explained to Laurie, still in apolgetics mode. She turned a little and spotted Autumn's folks a little ways off, watching with a mix of curiosity and wariness. Bacon looked an awful lot bigger than that little goat. Cassie gave them a wave and a grin to let them know everything was okay. "Can I pet him?" Laurie asked, already coming over to let Bacon sniff her hand. He did so enthusiastically, and transitioned directly to licking. Cassandra nodded. "Yeah, he's super friendly." Then from a distance, "Cass!" The teen reporter-wannabe turned at her name to spot her mother lowering a bag onto the table she'd picked out, and gesturing back at their car...where another couple of bags sat atop the trunk. She winced and gave Laurie a 'what can ya do' shrug. "I have to get our stuff. We should all meet up though. I saw Autumn's folks...anyone else here?" Laurie nodded and answered, "Just you and Autumn so far, I think? Sean and Jason aren't back yet from wherever they went..." She paused, but Cassandra's face didn't betray any hint of knowing more about where that place was. "Okay, well, lets keep our eyes open. It'd be cool to see everyone." With that Cassandra headed back to get the rest of the cookout goods before it started melting into the bags, Bacon running ahead of her.
  11. The Allen Residence - Morning The Allens did not usually celebrate Labor Day. It hit a little close to home. It had been one of Arthur's favorite holidays, and he'd made a big deal out of the barbecues and celebration of it. That, plus it being pretty close to the day Teresa and Cassie were informed of his demise, made it a rather somber event for them now. Cassandra hadn't even been home last Labor Day, choosing to spend most of it out with friends instead. Even at the time she'd felt like shit about it afterwards, leaving her mom alone on that day...but the oppressive mourning and tension were just too much to deal with. There wasn't a good solution, so she just split. She wasn't going to let it go that way this time. Teresa was in the kitchen, absently stirring a bowl of oatmeal and milk as she gazed off through the sliding glass door to the backyard. She hadn't really realized it, but even though her mind was occupied with deciding what to have for lunch, and what kind of wine to have with it, her eyes were resting on the outdoor grill that was parked just under the awning over the back porch. When Cassandra came in she glanced over and managed a tired smile. "Hey hon. What have you got going today?" The casual words had a slightly forced quality to them, Cassie noted. Her mother hadn't forgotten. She shrugged, then said, "I was thinking of going to the Carousel fields....meet some friends." When Teresa nodded quickly and looked away, Cassandra came over and bumped shoulders with her. "I mean both of us going." "Oh, uh," her mother replied, taken off-guard, "...you know I like staying in on days off. Not like I get a lot, so it's nice to just rest up. You can go ahead..." "Please, mom?" Cassie interjected. "It'll be a really nice day out. We can get some super unhealthy food. And it won't just be my friends there...you'll have friends there too. We can bring Bacon." At the sound of his name, Bacon came scrabbling over from the little laundry room where he had a little bed of old blankets set up for him. He pressed in between Cassandra and her mother's legs, eagerly bridging the gap between them. Teresa smiled and reached down to give the German Shepard an affectionate scratching between his pointy ears. "I was thinking I'd just relax today," she demurred. Cassie was having none of it though. "You mean mope," she said. "Look, you don't have to stay for long if you really don't like it. But I think it would be fun to go out for once. You know, be in the sun, have some really greasy food...maybe on a stick... When's the last time you took a ride on a merry go round?" Her mother smiled a little in spite of herself, then looked down at her oatmeal. It was cooling, with the milk making little pools on top of the grey mush at the surface. "Look," Cassandra pressed, "the bottom line is that I'm spending today with you. I think we'd both have more fun out at the Carousel, but if we want to stay here and eat ice cream and watch Lifetime...cool. We'll do it. But...I think once you feel some sun and some wind, and once you get moving, and see some familiar faces..." Jesus, thought Teresa abruptly. How long has it been since I've seen any friends? Leaving out phone calls, texts...had it been weeks? Months? Suddenly there were tears in her eyes. "Honey," she said, trying to think of a good reason not to. "Just give it a try, mom," Cass quickly interrupted. "Come with me." Bacon wuffed at this, wagging his tail. "See? It's two versus one." Teresa laughed at that. "Oh, so we're a democracy now?" Cassie grinned and offered a hand. "More like a...pirate ship. We're doing what I say. If you hate it, you can mutiny. Walking planks may be involved." I'm not letting you waste away for someone who's not dead. And I'm not letting what might be our last time together be sad and depressing. After a moment's hesitation, Teresa gave Cassie's hand a quick squeeze and said, "Would you cover this up and put it in the fridge? I'm going to need actual shoes it sounds like."
  12. The bike pulled up to Bunnee's burgers after a rather mild, ten minute or so, cruise through Shelly from the Bannon Farm. A death grip wasn't required by Cassie as her driver traveled smooth and slow down the streets instead of his usual speed demon manner. She assumed it was because he was in the crowded areas of Shelly now, and while the Sheriff might know about them, he wasn't above issuing tickets to the lot of them for being idiots. They walked in together, garnering a few looks from their peers who were here already (because Bunnee always had the high school crowd in here in some form or fashion). In the eyes of high schoolers a couple of friends couldn't just go eat a meal by themselves with out them obviously being on a date of some sort and they could both feel the judgmental eyes of their classmates silently calling them out on their business. Those who actually cared anyway. They say anywhere as Maxine instructed them while blowing past like a busty wind on the busy Sunday evening. The evening church rush was happening and their peers were in their Sunday best. They slid into a free both as the Heath twins passed them on their way out. They pretty blondes both said 'hi' at the two and they exchanged greetings. Cassie couldn't help but notice how they flushed when Devin politely replied in his own flirtatious way. H really couldn't help him self, it seemed. “Well, you two are not the pair I expected seeing in here,” Max smiled wryly. Being in on all the high school gossip she almost more familiar with the lives of the students of Shelly High than the students themselves. “When did this start?” She smirked while asking playfully. “Relax, Max,” Devin held out a hand to slow her roll. “It's just hanging out. Purely sexual.” Cassie's glare could have froze the waters she brought them solid. She was used to his humor, but, dude. “Oh, right.” Max nodded in sagely understanding. “I totally get it.” She touched Cassie's shoulder and nodded. “I get it sweetie. We ladies need to set our standards early in life, and we can't set that high bar without first realizing where the low bar is hovering at.” Her side eye to Devin screamed there was ointment in the back to treat the burn. Devin just half laughed and nodded his head, soaking it up. Max was good, she was an ace at dealing with him. “Two sodas and an order of chili-cheese fries and you're totally off my Christmas list.” “Oh,” she pouted. “Darn. She took their drink orders and sped off to the kitchen to do her thing. The two were left alone finally and Devin looked at his pseudo-date and didn't quite know how to kick this whole thing off. “Sooo...” Smooth, Devin. Real smooth. Cassandra let him hang for a second, just for the 'purely sexual' before offering him a hand. She arched an eyebrow and prompted, "So?" Then after a sip of soda reminded him, "Maybe start with Homecoming?" "Okay," he agreed. "So, where to begin? In case you hadn't heard my sister is pretty much kidnapping all of you for preparations at our place before the dance. I'm tasked with somehow making Cade and Jase presentable. If you don't have a dress yet, talk to her, she's in a 'formal affair frenzy', like a shark sniffing blood in the water. We won't be taking my bike, so no worries there, I'll have my car that night, so we don't mess up all effort we put into making ourselves pretty for for the ball. Seriously, if I ended up with mud on my slacks, I'd throw a fit." He shrugged. "So, yeah, that's my side if it all, whatchu got?" Cassie laughed a little. "A notepad, fortunately," she quipped. "Okay, so I should probably give Marissa a call then, since I do have a dress, but not one she's going to be happy with. And...hmm." Cass paused for a second, assessing Devin. "I'm trying to decide if you meeting my mom in advance will be a net positive or not... You've never set foot in the library, have you?" "Sure I have." He chuckled. "Ladies are totally into smart guys and all that. Whenever we have some big study assignment I always make it a point to hang out there after school at least twice in the first week it's been assigned. Some girl always needs some help studying." He grinned wide. "Totally down to meet your mom, though. Met Autumn's for the first time today, she totally loved me." He opened his arms wide like it should be a no-brainer that Cassie's mother would obviously fall immediately in love with the rich, spoiled walking white stereotype of entitlement. "Coooooool," sighed Cassandra, already imagining Devin being Devin in front of her mom. That would go down one of two ways...either 'what are you doing, Cass?' or 'are you doing this just to hurt me, Cass?' And it was so exciting waiting to see which one she'd go with. But you didn't get far telling Devin not to be Devin. One way or the other, she'd just have to deal. Cassie reached out to nab some fries out of the greasy little cardboard cradle they arrived at the table in. "That wasn't so painful," she remarked. "Even if it means a shopping trip with Marissa. Now all we have to do is...survive. Best Homecoming ever." "Didn't know if you'd still be hungry after the pizza, figured something munch on couldn't hurt though." He smiled, stealing some of the fries too. "That's it?" He looked at her skeptically. "No list of rules for friendship dating? Hands off the butt, hands off you, ghost arm only in all pictures? No? That was easy." He chewed his fries and washed them down with a sip of his soda, which she noticed had no ice in it. "So, out of curiosity... why'd you agree to go out with me for Homecoming?" "Dude," she admonished with a grin, "If I gave you rules, it would just be a checklist for shit to do to get to me. As for why?" Cassie stirred her coke with her straw for a second, watching the foam burble up between the chunks of crushed ice. "First, you're funny sometimes. I think we could have fun. But also because ever since this crazy shit started, you've let the whole 'naughty manchild' thing slip a few times. The guy I think I saw when that happens is one I'd like to meet." She looked up at Devin again and lifted an eyebrow. "Can you set us up?" "Wow, that was," his posture visibly changed as he sat up and rested his arms on the table, suddenly more invested in the conversation. She'd been interviewing people for years and, while certainly not a professional, she'd learned enough to know when she'd gotten someone's attention. "Surprisingly direct. I'm used to people dancing around answers with reddened cheeks and that annoyingly playful 'I don't know' reply." "Blondie, look, the... 'manchild', as you put it," his grin told her he found it amusing. "It's my way of dealing with all this 'shit'." He air quoted. "I don't mean anything by it, I j-" he paused and looked around the place at all the other people. "I just need to not be so serious all the time. One, I would be even more unbearable than I am as the manchild, and two, it would be far less entertaining. You have to admit." He smiled wide. "Buuut," he dragged out with a slight protest in his tone. "If serious Devin is what the lady wants, I think I can swing it. Might even waive the hourly rates, I dunno." Cassandra grinned. "I know, and truth is that I like it when you're funny too. We all gotta have some way to deal with everything. And us...I mean, everyone thinks they have it rough, but lets face it. We're going to war against..." Abruptly she stopped and looked around to make sure no one was paying them attention. "...alien magic monsters, so I think we owe each other some benefit of the doubt. So yeah. You don't have to stop being you. Just sometimes, when it's safe, be the rest of you. You know?" She took another fry and tapped it against her bottom lip, then ate it. "My turn now. Why did you ask me?" "Ugh," he rolled his eyes and flopped back in his seat. "I forgot this game goes both ways." Cassie smirked evilly at the bit of torture. "Come on, fair is fair." The fry she was pinching swiftly met its fate while she eagerly awaited for him to man up. He returned and rummaged about for a good, chili and cheese drenched fry to give him courage. Fine, but, no jokes." She raised her eyes brows in a silent promise as she sipped her drink. "Well, I'm shallow, so... if I didn't think you were, at the very least, an eight, I wouldn't have bothered." She was pretty sure that his way of telling her she was pretty. "Devin, the Heaths are like.... sevens, tops." Cassie protested. "And you flirt with them all the time." "True, but together they're a fourteen." He pointed out, proud with his math. She didn't have the heart to inform him that it wasn't quite how it worked. He seemed to sober up some from his fooling around. "...and aside from you being hot... that's it." He shrugged. "That's all I know about you, Cass. I... we..., hell, Cassie, we, all of us, fight and bitch and moan and yet here we are, at the end of it all, ready to die for people who will never even know what we did, together. And there's the old us, now there's the new us's, with unlikely friends and super powers... I guess I want to know more about Cassandra..." he paused, looking at her, his eyes wide as he struggled for the right word... "Allen." She nodded in that wow sort of way. "...Allen," he snapped his fingers. "Right, that was where I was going with that." His smile did to conceal that he'd even remotely remembered her last name. "We're all gonna make it through this, but... I don't us to do it as strangers. Y'know?" "Hmm," Cassie watched him for a moment, rolling the words around in her head. In the end, she decided, his reasoning wasn't that far from her own. They were just sort of...investigating each other. Scraping a layer under the surface. "Okay. You don't have to wait for Homecoming for that. Here we are...at least until the fries are gone. What do you want to know? AMA. Open book." She took another fry then and popped it into her mouth. "Oh," Devin chuckled. "Ohohohoho, alright, let's do this. Let's see... what are your top three turn-ons? Who has the nicer butt? Dana or Autumn? What are you most self-conscious about? What do most people think is true about you, but isn’t?" He kept counting them off in his fingers like they were preloaded in his mind like some spin the bottle, Truth or Dare Championship Belt holder. "What is the most childish thing you still do? What is something we, your friends, would never expect that you do?" "Those are the warm ups," he smiled but she noticed it faded fast and his expression went a little more serious in its presentation. "...and I know you have issues, with home and Crossroads... so, you know, don't worry. We'll bring him home... I'm trying not to ask the stupid obvious stuff. It's not like our lives are anything close to normal." "Okay wow," Cassandra laughed. "You've been giving this some thought. Let's see." She started ticking off fingers. "A good scalp massage, skinny dipping and victory. Autumn, definitely. I'm self-conscious about my hair...it sticks out too much when it's short, but it's super hard to style when it's long, which is why I ponytail it or just let it floof most of the time, but that feels lazy?" Cass shrugged. "People think I'm voyeuristic but it's really just business for me. Not that I get paid or anything, but that's how I approach it. I still love stupid-ass Saturday morning cartoons, and..." The last question forced her to think a little more. "I volunteer at the Sagebrush when I can." At Devin's blank look, she added, "It's the food pantry in town. Lately..." Cass sighed. "...haven't had that kind of time lately." "Why?" He asked out of curiosity. "Not that's a bad thing or anything, I'm just curious. What makes you volunteer there? Was it sort of a 'hey seems fun' kinda gig or did something draw you there? Oh, and I'm totally with you there on the Saturday morning cartoons." "So...my freshman year, I wanted to do something 'hard hitting' you know?" Cassie said, making air quotes. "And I was fixated on the prison, so I wanted to get like a word on the street kind of thing. But...here I am, comfortably middle class white girl, what the fuck do I know about word on the street? So I asked mom, and she suggested the Sagebrush. I didn't even know, at the time, Shelley had a food pantry." Cass paused to finish off her soda, slurping the last bit up the straw before popping the plastic top off to munch on a little ice before picking the narrative up again. "So it was scary at first, but I started talking to some, and...their stories were really kind of gut-punches. And I left feeling like absolute shit, because I'd thought they were scary. So after the article I wrote did not make it in the paper..." Cassandra grinned and shook her head. "...because it was kind of shit...I went back. I felt like I owed them something, because when I first saw them, I didn't see people. And then after that it was just...kind of affirming. The guys that run it are super nice, and really grateful for any help they get." "Wow, I uh, huh," he nodded his head. "I didn't know either. I mean, I knew we had quite a bit of families around here that we help out around the Holidays with the boxes at the school." The look on his face was akin to something resembling a realization. "I just never really considered where all those boxes go. I guess, like you said, I never really considered that there are people receiving them." There was a long pause in their conversation as Max slipped by and offered to refill her drink. "Okay, you're depressing me..." he leaned in and tacked off a few more. "Last ones, and then... I guess it's your turn. Fair is fair. What is something that people think you would never be into, but you are? What is the silliest thing you have an emotional attachment to? What is the most embarrassing thing your parents have caught you doing? Why did you break up with your last boyfriend or girlfriend?" She saw the play there, asking about an ex while disguising it as part of the game. Devin might have thought he was slick, but the wasn't. Cassie was onto him, easily. "Hoo, okay." Cassandra exhaled, clearing the palette. "Lets see. Something people think I'm not into...that's kind of like that other question, but all right. I am hopelessly addicted to jigsaw puzzles. You know how most kids have, like, band posters or movie posters or whatever? I have puzzles that I've finished. And that's also the next answer. I got a three thousand piece puzzle when I was twelve, and I fucking knocked it out of the park, did it in like three days, working on it hours every day. My parents got it laminated, and framed, and I'm going to take it with me everywhere I go until I die." She fished around for what remained of the fries, getting a few chunks from the bottom of the carton. "Embarrassing...that would either be the time Dylan and me did 'breakfast in our undies' when Mom was out of the house...only she wasn't out of the house yet and walked right into us...or the time dad smelled pot on my breath and we went through an entire decade's worth of 'war on drug' slogans for the next two hours." She gave Devin a lazy smile then, arriving at the 'ex' question. "What makes you so sure I broke up with him...or her?" Cass asked teasingly. "Maybe he or she dumped me." "Maybe," he shrugged. "Either way, whomever they were, how'd it go down? I'm curious, the people have a right to know, Cassandra..." he paused and finally snapped his fingers. "Allen. Ha." "I just have never seen you with anyone, granted I never paid much attention to you, even when I was knocking your school books out of your hand while you were fiddling with your phone..." he chuckled. "Man, you made that so easy. You were always on that thing." He shook his head in fond reminiscence. "So? Who were they? How'd the whole last relationship go down? Mine's easy... unlikely pair, met, laughed, spent an afternoon making love, then she got grounded and moved away a week later. Which I suppose is a win because at least I didn't turn her gay... which is what my sister was betting on." "Are you sure?" Cassandra asked. "Did you keep in touch after you left?" She poured some of the melted ice water in her cup into her mouth and swished it a bit before swallowing. "Well, as you might have gleaned, my boyfriend's name was Dylan. We were together a couple of years. He and his friends are into skating, alternative music and slacking off...and when I met him all three of those things were things I was kind of into. I started hanging out with them, and we just started going out." She shrugged. "Nothing complicated, and that was the appeal. The whole thing was very chill, very laid back. But my situation changed. I wasn't happy just fucking around, watching the world go by anymore...and he was. So yeah, I broke up with him." "See? I knew you dumped him." He said with confidence. "Me being picky isn't necessarily good news for you," Cassandra reminded him with a grin. "Pfft," he chuckled. "I'm sure you told him what was up. all he had to do was grow up a little, be willing to be flexible in order to keep you happy. And he didn't want to do that after a couple of years? Fault lies with him, Blondie, not you're wanting to mature and grow. Had it been a few months, or something? Okay, I could see it. Two people need to be flexible for a relationship to be successful. Fixed thoughts and patterns of behavior can have a negative impact on a relationship leading to fixed patterns of behavior. Being able to break that cycle is called psychological flexibility." All she could do is just glare at him. "Sorry, my mom was a behavioral therapist before we moved here." He shrugged. "EmJay and me have had every blurb of psych-speak hammered into our heads. It's how we manipulated a whole school for several years. Bad idea in retrospect, but totally fun along the way. My point is you wanted to mature and grow, which at our age is not an unlikely want. We need to discover the whole 'who we are' thing. Your being picky wouldn't necessarily apply to me unless...," his eyes flared wide and leaned in, silently, but in feigned shock asked her: "Blondie, are you trying to get in my pants?" "I can neither confirm nor deny those allegations," Cassandra replied cagily. "For what it's worth, my dad is a psychologist too, so...yeah. That much I get." She tapped her chin as she looked at Devin. "I guess that makes it my turn." "Fair is fair," he smiled. "Just make sure you're ready to know the answer before you ask, I do have little shame after all." As Max walked past he raised a single digit and pointed to the dwindling chili cheese fries. Although hard at it, she nodded to him and went on about her duties. "You know, my sister might have some ways to help you out with your hair too. She's lazier than she lets on, and still looks like a million bucks everyday. Hit her up, she'll probably tell you how she does it." "That might almost be worth the ladling of contempt I'd get for it," replies Cassie. "Okay. Let's see." What did she really want to know about Devin? As fun as it might be just to ask questions to get under his skin, that wasn't the first priority. How deep did the 'jerk side' of him run? "If you could change one thing you've done in the past up until now, what would you change...how would you change it, and why?" she fished. That got him. His smile seemed to fade as swiftly as the witty quips sprang to his lips on any other occasion. She could tell that he was legit taken off guard by the question. Cassie half expected a dodge... but he began, with very little preparation, like he knew exactly what it was he was going to say. "I know that Marissa is easy to dislike. She's hateful and hurtful and... she used to not always be like that. We used to be like you guys, albeit richer and better dressed, but we were just... ordinary kids, y'know?" They way he looked into her eyes while he sorted through his memories seemed to indicate she'd found the serious side of the teleporter she'd been looking for. "We were the zero's among the elite. We weren't as super rich as the richest kids, so we were the poor kids who got picked on. Mom was always trying to get us some commercial and get us into acting on Disney or Nick but it never happened. We're pretty sure it was her they didn't like, not us." He sighed and shook his head at the memory of some of the antics his mother pulled at auditions but didn't dwell on them. "Anyway, it didn't bother me as much as it did her. It really hurt her her self-esteem and... I don't know, I'm her brother... I was supposed to be there for her." "When we got here, it was her idea to dominate Shelly. All we really did was become the monsters we hated so much. Now? She's so distant from people, doesn't really seem to in touch with how people feel or even care for that matter. She's so self absorbed that," he trailed off and rubbed his face with his palms, an obvious sign that he was bothered by saying these things out loud. Perhaps because it reminded him that it was real. "I don't know... if I hadn't agreed and put my foot down or made some effort to pull her out of this stupid prank sooner instead of letting it go on for so long, she might still be the EmJay I used to know. One you guys would wouldn't even recognize. That's on me, I guess." "Stupid prank," Cassandra repeated, sorting through the story in her head. "You mean the 'dominate Shelly' prank?" She sat back for a second, then said, "I know I don't really know you two, so...I should probably keep my mouth shut, but I'm me. So...this sounds like something you wish you could change that Marissa did. And you're maybe blaming yourself, but it's still her mistake. I mean..." she offered Devin what she hoped was a comforting smile. "...I don't think even you could stop Marissa from doing something she really set her heart on." "Normally I'd agree, even when it came to my sister, a topic I'm usually pretty bull headed on... but I went along with it. She didn't beg me or need to convince me, I went along with it Cassie and let me tell you, I had a blast doing it. I wish I could say I was sorry for all of it, but I'm not. It was a fun ride. Do I regret it? Yeah. In retrospect it was phenomenally dumb idea, but... I'm only realizing that now." He shrugged with one shoulder while reaching for his drink. "We're both hateful and spiteful, I'm just more a more 'in-the-moment' guy. Let me get it out of my system, I'm good. EmJay likes the long game. I part of me thinks I should have recognized it sooner and pulled her back. I don't really blame myself for what she's doing, or has done, or... will probably do," he smirked with a roll of his eyes. "I'm her brother, y'know? It's not so much as just wanting my sister to be safe and happy... and stable." He let out a deep, audible sigh. "But, yeah... that's my big goof. Knowing better and still being dumbass anyway." "Most kids our age are dumbasses," corrected Cassandra. "You've gone further than just that." She let that hang, then nodded. "But yeah, that was...more complicated than I expected it to be. Which isn't a bad thing. Again, I get the feeling you've thought about this stuff before, which...is good." She took another bite of crunchy ice and went on, "All right, now...think about your first crush. What about her did you notice the most? Why was she your crush." Then with a grin she added, "Or he." "She," he said with a smile. "Ugh, god...," he groaned. "Can we go back to complicated brotherly issues? Those are easier." "Nope," she teased. "You're horrible," the teleporter joked as she laughed a bit. "Okay, fine... but this goes no further. Her name was Hannah. She was year older than me and her parents were rich as hell, like Arab oil rich. I'm pretty sure bled gold and kept her room warm by paying bums wearing suits made of hundred dollar bills to light themselves on fire." They both laughed at his extreme example. "If you've never been out to Malibu or the surrounding area... it's nuts out that way. Crazy rich people, doing crazy things with money." "Brunette, she was... incredibly well developed," he smirked. "But that's not why I liked her. To be honest... there wasn't just one thing, which completely baffled me. I honestly didn't know why I was attracted to her, but, I was. That not knowing just made me want to know more. So, I joined gymnastics... because, yeah, you guessed it, she was in gymnastics too. Turns out I was really good at it and she wasn't, or maybe she just hated it... anyway, the more I tried to get to know her she more she treated me like crap and the more I let her because I really liked her." "It was awhile before Marissa pointed out I was friend-zoned, so I made my move and asked her out to a school dance." Dismissively the young man rolled his eyes and shrugged. "Not only did she reject me, she rejected me hard. Had all of her friends laughing at me, calling me out at school, basically making my life hell until it was no longer funny and they moved on to other torments. God I hate that girl so much." he chuckled, but she could tell it wasn't a half-hearted laugh... she'd really hurt him and he hated her for it. "She was my lesson on how to won everything I do so people can't make fun of me for it. Laugh at everything and be proud of the things I do. Forget what people think or say, y'know?" Cassandra nodded sympathetically. "I can totally understand it, yeah. I'm still curious about what you saw in her though. You might not have understood it then, but you've picked that part of your life over a hundred times. I bet you have some insight now that you didn't then, yeah?" "A thousand times, per year, since," agreed with her. Once again his eyes wandered off into that little pocket of reminiscence everyone possessed, where they kept the moments of their life couldn't, for whatever reason, let go of. "How can I say this and not come off like some creeper? So... I'd never crushed on anyone before her. She was gorgeous, sure, but everything about her attracted me to her... her voice, the smell of her hair," he looked to Cassie, holding up his hand to pause the action. "It was gymnastics. to paired up to help each other out so yes, her hair was whipped in my face on several occasions. I wasn't, like, creeping in while she slept and stealing locks of it or anything." He passively shrugged and offered one of his charming, witty grins. "The security at her house was way to tight." "It was her smile, her voice, I don't know, Cassie, before I knew it I was willing to join gymnastics just to meet her and felt like the luckiest man alive when we were paired off together to practice. Looking back honestly... I don't know what specifically it was and seeing how it all turned out, I must have looked pretty pathetic to everyone on the outside looking in." He sipped his coke and shook his head, looking for the words a bit more. "Sometimes there's just love. You don't know what it is, or why it happens, but there you are... joining gymnastics and letting someone take advantage of you for just the smallest chance that maybe, just maybe they'll be yours. Jason doesn't really understand how lucky he is, sometimes, not feeling things the way we do." "Aww..." Cassandra smiled, charmed despite herself. "I don't know, man. It sucks when it goes wrong, but...he's also missing out on the high of it. Seems like he's been like...trimmed. Clipped. Pieces of the human experience just carved off, and he'll never know what he missed. And you and me...we'll never be able to really explain what he missed." She shrugs. "But that's who he is." Then Cass jabbed a finger at Devin again. "...and we're not here to talk about him. You're still on the hot seat, mister." She folded her arms and smirked. "Okay then, I think just one more. We're almost outta fries and we'll need our sleep. Think back on a time when you felt completely at peace with...yourself, with the world. A moment when everything bad just melted away, and you were happy without effort. Now...what were you doing during that moment?" "Oh, Jesus... remind me never to spin the bottle with you. You're brutal." He laughed. "That one is easy though. Every since we," he looked around and leaned in all super spy-like and lowered his voice. "Our abilities. I've been skydiving a lot. I looked up that this Joe Kittinger guy held the record for something like a hundred thousand foot skydive. So, I went for it. First, it was incredibly cold, did not know that, so I bailed out early. Tried again with proper attire, and it blew my mind. Imagine three minutes of your life where you just let go and ride the wind straight down. For all the wind rushing through my ears it was amazingly quiet." "I fall for about two-thirty, which gives me plenty of time to negotiate a landing, but to just disappear from my room and be falling for two minutes over the lights and sounds of Hong Kong or New York, or... one of those phosphorescent algae tides that sometimes happen in the ocean, it makes the world seem so massive so, I don't know, massive. Me and my problems don't seem so big anymore in those two minutes. I see all the people we're helping, the lives we're saving and... I guess I realize that despite, the total shit I've been, I'm actually someone's hero, somewhere... even if they'll never know it. Nothing quite puts at peace like knowing I'm not as hopeless as I thought I was." His expression snapped back to the now and cleared his throat in the middle of another smile as he gesture towards her with his hand. "Wanna go sometime? Totally safe. We'll start low to the ground, thirty second freefall of the reservation. It'll definitely do wonders for your hair. "Hmm...I could kind of do that too, just seeing things at a distance," Cassandra muses. "But I think you're right. It wouldn't be the same if you didn't feel yourself falling. Yeah, that'd be really cool" She holds up a finger. "Not tonight though. Too much pizza in me. And now, soda and fries. Uhf." Cassie rubs her cheek ruefully. "I'm going to need a better workout." And with that she deftly grabbed the last fry and ate it. "Okay. I liked this. Thanks, Devin." "Anytime," he said as he stood up. "I had fun too, and whenever you're ready for the drop, let me know. Like I said we'll start low." He dropped a twenty on the table even though two drinks and fries couldn't have been more than ten bucks at the small diner, and followed Cassie out to give her a ride home. Perhaps it was their conversation or what awaited them tomorrow, but neither were in a real hurry for the evening to end and it showed in Devin's careful, rather slow (for him) cruise back to Cassandra's house. The purr of the engine was low and almost silent down eave avenue as the young man barely gave it what it needed to maintain the speed limit but, no matter how hard they tried, time moved ever onward and eventually the sleek, black motorcycle came to a slow stop outside Cassandra's home. He walked her to her steps and tried his best to make any of this seem like it had some weird date vibe to it. It didn't have that vibe did it? No, it couldn't have, because they weren't dating. "Well, I'll uh, see you tomorrow, I hope? Carousel? Before we all go off and..." Awkward silence was the order of the evening when it came to tomorrow. "Well, you know. Thanks for hanging out. I didn't realize Cassandra Allen was such a complex person. I might have to investigate further." He nodded with curiosity on par with mad scientists the world over. "Definitely," Cassandra said in reply. Her cheeks reddened as she realized that could be taken a couple of ways, "I mean, about seeing you tomorrow." She nodded...then admitted, "And also the other thing, except, you know, about you." Ugh...and she was wanting to make a living using words? "Okay! So...thanks. Seeya." Cassie fished her keys out of her pocket and gave Devin an awkward wave. A gesture felt appropriate but, like...what? Handshake was formal and impersonal and cringe. Hug felt...too the opposite. Shit, end on a joke! "Drive safe," she said, and managed a grin. He laughed at her safe driving comment, walking back a few steps as he winked at her. "No promises, Blondie." He turned to walk back to his bike. She breathed a sigh of relief as he didn't go for a hug or a handshake... just smiles and witty banter. After all, they were still friends and... he still had Lona issues he was dealing with, that much was obvious. He spun about around half-way to his bike and was stepping back again. "Oh, hey, if you want to, text me if you have Homecoming concerns or feel like going a few more rounds of questions or... you know... if you just can't sleep. Worst that'll happen is I don't respond because I'm already sleeping." It was close to 'I'd like to talk to you again' as guys who were not sure about their relationship status got to saying 'we don't have to be face to face to flirt shamelessly'. Since no one in the Fellowship was really getting a lot of sleep lately anyways, except Jason who was usually sound asleep stuffed full of hiker gibblets, his offer didn't seem like an unreasonable one. His bike roared to life and hushed to a purr before he revved it up and was on his way down the street. Her lips curled in a grin and she shook her head as the dark street lit up in a sudden, Back to the Future purple flash once he was out of sight.
  13. Ten minutes later, they were all gathered on the front porch for the hijinks. "Okay okay!" Cassandra laughed, and broke away from everyone and skipped down the steps to stand in front of Jason with her hands on her hips. "Anything I need to do?" Jason shook his head laconically and replied, "Just try not to move your arms and legs too much. You might hit something and hurt yourself." She got that skeptical expression that she often got...but then her eyes widened and she looked down as the ground started moving away from her. "...oh shit." The sensation was...weird. It wasn't at all what Cass had expected. She'd figured it would feel like invisible hands, maybe big ones or maybe some kind of tendril wrapping around her. She'd expected some kind of invisible tangibility lifting her up. But it wasn't like that at all. It almost felt like she was falling very slowly upward instead, in that there was no feeling of something solid that her weight was pressing on. The closest thing she could think of to relate it to was that resistance one felt when holding the same poles of two magnets close together. There was resistance without substance...a zone she could not move through, but that had no texture or surface. Overcome with wonder, Cassandra moved her hands around herself, but whatever force was lifting her didn't impede her movement at all. It was only lifting her...not a force field or something like that. When she concentrated on her own Shine, she could clearly 'see' the power emanating from Jason, stretching out to her and enveloping her in a glow that was not her own. He was being careful, Cass noted. He could have just affected her arm, and hauled her up that way...and that would be a lot less comfortable. Instead the force he was creating affected every particle of her being at the same time and intensity, and as a result she could barely tell she was moving aside from seeing the world shift around her. That concluded her study, and she devoted her remaining airtime to enjoying it. After doing some swimming moves, and tucking herself into a midair flip, Cassandra mimed holding a broomstick and shouted, "It's time to tryyyyyyyyyy defyyyyyyying gravity...and you can't keep meeeeeee down!" and dissolved into laughter as she zoomed around a few times, then descended and came in for a graceful landing. Cass flashed Jason a big grin after that, then turned to look at the others. "Okay, that's awesome. Fight over who goes next." As the other girls started shouting their names and jockeying for position, Cassandra backed off a bit and dug her phone out of her pocket. She punched up Devin's number and gave him a call. "Hey, Devin. If you still want to meet up, I'm game."
  14. Cassandra looked over from where Kat's flagrant Frenchness had distracted her, just in time to catch Devin's farewell address. She crossed the room after him and caught the door before it could quite swing entirely shut, then opened it up again. "Hey, Devin," she said, and immediately wasn't quite sure what came next. She'd meant to talk to him before this point, maybe even do a little 'training' with him, but without consciously meaning to had somehow managed to avoid him. Now Cassie felt like she had something to say to him, but couldn't quite figure out just what. It was way too late to pull the eject lever now though. "Thanks for the ride up here, and...for being on at least semi-good behavior tonight," she said with a half-grin. "I let you go easy this time, but next time we all do a training day? Punishment. Justice from on high." She nodded, then added, "See you there." Cassie hadn't really planned on saying that, but it felt right. A demand from her that he survive, and a promise to do the same. "Hey," Devin added as she started to back up. "Look, um, when you're ready to go, give me a call, okay? I'll get you home and... maybe we can grab a shake or a burger or something? Y'know, if you're up for it." Cassandra paused, then grinned wider. "Shake and a burger after a whole night munching on pizza? You'd better hang onto that sixpack if we're going to Homecoming." Then she looked away for a second and tucked an errant lock of hair back behind her ear. "But...a ride would be cool. And we could get something, sure." "Or we can sit and drink a Coke and talk for a bit. Max won't bother us as long as we order something." He laughed. "Don't worry about me Blondie, I'll be good and ready for you to show me off to all your friends." He smirked. "See you in a bit." "Yeah, seeya Devin." Cassie retreated back into the house and broke into a jog as she went looking for Jase with a bit more urgency than was strictly required.
  15. "That's not a bad point," Cassandra said, snagging her own floatyCoke. "And some weapons, you know? We can't all fling rocks like bullets or burn stuff with our minds. Even someone like me might get a lucky shot in. Oh, and...maybe some gas and a lighter? Just in case we need to set fire to the Tree the old-fashioned way for some reason. I'm sure there's some camping stuff in my garage I can grab without Mom ever knowing it."
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