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Weirder Stuff Project#4 - Game Night And Interim's

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Following the events at the trailer the fellowship is frazzled and a bit overwhelmed but Life goes on. Tonight is the first Football game of the season, and like all small towns in this part of the US football is king. Some of your characters are supposed to go, some usually go to show school spirit or support family and friends, and some don't even think about it, but even then, when it's game night in Shelly the game always figures into everything.

This project will award 4 XP. I want each of you to write a story or scene for what your character is doing the night of the game. They don't have to attend the game or play in it, the scene doesn't have to be about the game, but some how the game needs to feature/make a cameo into your scene. This story/scene should be written by each player and star his character. other characters may make appearances as long as the guest shot doesn't contradict their scene.

The game - Shelly Coyotes vs the Simms Tigers at Shelly, Shelly wins 39-18.   For time placement your story can take place anytime after the fellowship leaves the trailer until the following morning which is a Saturday.

Remember this scene can be about almost anything the football game just has to make an appearance. Post these in this thread as a single post please. must be competed by the 30th of September

 

Second part of this project is a bit trickier. I am going to be away for the next week and even if i am able to get online my posting and availability will be limited. therefore I will not be starting Session IV until I return. Normally I will not be awarding xp for side fiction/Interim stories However for this week I will be giving XP for any Interim you wish to write that features one of  your characters Aspirations. These scenes can feature other players writing and you can write in more than one, each Character who writes in one of these scenes will receive 1 xp per scene that he write in. 

Limitations - these are short interim scenes and are not intended to be long running.

The scenes can take place at time between the beginning of summer and up to the current time in game. for current time consider that to encompass the first week of school and the first weekend (next two days in game)

Each scene must feature at least one characters aspiration, if the aspiration is fulfilled that charter will receive an addition 1 xp for fulfilling his aspiration. You may only collect this for once for this project

The scene must not move any plot points forward or have any main story impact.

All of these scenes must be in their own thread with a title and the thread must be completed by the 30th of September

If my input is need PM me here on the site and I will reply when I am able

 

 

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Project 4 - The Game:  Jason.

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

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

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

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

Which reminded him, he was out of snacks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No!  I mean, yes!  It’s beautiful-“

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

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

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

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

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

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

“HEY!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“It’s okay,” Lona said for the third time to a worried Clara. She double-checked her safety gear again: reflective vest, cellphone in the armband carrier, her flashlight, and mace on the waistband. “I just need to clear my head.”

“Are you sure?” Clara asked, glancing out the window. “It’ll be dark soon.”

“Yeah, it will.” Lona patted her hip, where the canister of mace rode. “It’s Shelly, everyone’s at the game, and I have protection.” She nibbled on her lip ring. “Clara, please, I really need to be alone, to decompress. To think about all this shit. And running, as much as I hate to admit it, really helps me burn off energy.”

With a sigh, Clara nodded. “Fine, but call me the second you get to Bunnee’s. Do you hear me? The second.”

“Yes, Mom,” Lona said with a smile.

She’d had a good hard cry on the way home in the back of Etienne’s Urban Assault Tank, which had helped some. Pizza with everyone else had pushed back the nervous energy, but once they’d gone home to wait for the post-game gathering, it had come back. Everything felt hot and sharp, like she walked constantly on a live wire. She couldn’t play her guitars; she could barely listen to music. Everytime she sat down, she found it impossible to stay in one place. Food earlier hadn’t settled her, and she was down to trying running. She entertained calling Jase and seeing if he could help her with medicinals, but he’d be headed to the game, and she wasn’t sure he had anything that would work on her now. The high she got from running seemed to be the only one she could enjoy now. 

She set out on the usual run Etienne and Clara took her on. The steady pounding of her feet against the ground settled her almost immediately, and she fell into the easy stride that would carry her past the school and all the way to Bunnee’s. Of all the things that Clara had talked her into taking up, jogging was the best. Of course, it hadn’t been just Clara. The weirdness at the Party had scared the fuck out of her, and if something like that happened again, Lona wanted to be able to handle it.

’Course, shit did happen today, and you froze up until it was over. Lona scowled as she dodged an oversized rock, pissed at her actions today. You’ll just have to do better. Training. Practice. More running. Whatever it takes.

The path had been mostly downhill but now it sloped up, and Lona slowed accordingly. Clara wasn’t there to push them to keep up the pace, so Lona didn’t force it. At the top of the hill was the road, and Lona looked both ways before crossing. Headlights danced over her as she scurried over the far edge but Lona didn’t pay much attention to it. It wasn’t until the car stopped at the path that she took a quick glance over her shoulder. In the deepening twilight, it was just a shadow, but the shape tugged at her memory.

She had to turn back to the path before she brained herself on a log, and by the time she could glance back again, the car was screeching away up the road. “That was creepy,” she muttered, even as she told herself that it wasn’t anything important, just some busybody trying to figure out who she was. That was one of the best and worst things about small town life: everyone knew when bad shit happened to you, and everyone knew when you’d done bad shit.

The path wound on before her as Lona continued her run. Step by step, she ran toward the game, already seeing the glow of the Friday night lights through the trees. She felt a little bad that she hadn’t gone to the first game, but she couldn’t deal with the crowds tonight. She wasn’t Jase, to just roll with anything life tossed to her. The roar of the crowd grew in the distance, the occasional whistle a sharp, piercing scream. A sudden loud blat of sound made her jump a little and laugh at herself. Yeah, you would have been fine at the game, dork. That was just the end of a quarter--

Something hit her right side and drove her into the earth. Lona hit hard, her breath purged from her body as a heavy weight collapsed on her. “I wanted to play nice,” Liam breathed in her ear. He grabbed at her, flipping her; she heard cloth rip as she struggled to breathe. “I was even willing to let you think you could get away.”

“Off,” she gasped, fighting against tight chest muscles, able to only draw in short, sharp breaths.. 

“Oh, I’m gonna,” he told her, standing over her. In the near darkness, he was a menacing shadow -- one that blurred with tears of pain and fear. “That shit with Coraline Hess at the party was over the line.” His hands dropped to his crotch and she heard a zipper. “You made an enemy, and now you get your punishment.”

“No,” she gasped, trying to roll over and get up. He grabbed her hips and she weakly kicked at him, her breathing rasping loudly. She could feel her muscles healing, feeling them loosen and start to allow her breathe even as he pushed her onto her back and grabbed her shorts.

When she felt them slide to her knees with her underwear, she found a renewed fight in her. Frantic, she pushed at him, then remembered what Arthur had shown her last year. With a growl, she grabbed his face and tried to drive her thumb into his eye. She heard him yelp and he jerked back from her. 

Lona sat up and grabbed her undergarments, trying to get them back on. Liam punched her and she sprawled into the dirt, head spinning. He dropped to the ground behind her and shifted her legs, folding them into the position he wanted. She gasped, and realized she could breathe again when she inhaled dirt. With a scream, she kicked backwards blindly and frantically.

Her foot barely connected but she felt a spasm of power when she did, pulling deep on some instinctive need. It felt like when she healed, only instead of pushing gentle power out to help, she meant to hurt.

Liam jerked away from her, retching. “Oh god, my stomach!” he screamed. “It’s on fire!” She staggered to her feet and yanked her clothing back on, then turned back to him, panting. He rolled on the ground, crying, arms clenched tight around his midsection. “Bitch! What did you do?”

“Less than you deserve,” she said, her voice cracking with fear. Straightening, she tried to channel Jase’s icy cold demeanour. She’d used a power on him; if he told anyone, she was fucked -- her friends, too. Their secret would be out. “You’re going to leave town. No notes, no goodbyes, just gone,” she demanded, her voice high and shrill. Be like Jase! Her mace was gone, lost somewhere in the dark but her flashlight glowed dimly from the underbrush. She grabbed it, then found a stick with a sharp end and pressed it to his throat. “Because if I see you again, you’ll die!”

She sounded insane, hysterical, and his face was too twisted with pain to see if he’d taken her seriously. It didn’t matter; either she’d succeeded or not; either he’d leave, or Jase would hunt him down like a dog once he found out. Lona didn’t want to tell him, but they had to know, all of them. Liam could expose them, or at least expose her. For a second, she considered stabbing him with the branch but she couldn’t. Her body locked up at the very thought; she didn’t have it in her.

“Leave or die,” she said again before throwing down her stick and running away. This was no easy jog; she ran flat out, her flashlight bouncing on the path aided by the occasional pool of light from the halogens of the game. She didn’t slow until she was on a main road in town; then she collapsed against a wall and wheezed, waiting for her pulse to slow. As she waited, she felt the bruise on her cheek slowly fade.

She stayed there, shaking, until the adrenaline drop had passed and she could stand without swaying. She didn’t want to run home; she didn’t even want to walk back to the game. Bunnee’s was ahead, and soon it would have Jase and Devin, Lilly, Cade, and all her friends. Soon, she would be safe again.

You’re safe already. Lona stared at the bright lights of Bunnee’s, the aberrant thought stopping her in her tracks. You stopped him. You alone. You didn’t need the others. You didn’t freeze up.

It was a start. A small start, but it was hers.

Inside, Bunnee did a double take at her ripped shirt and the dirt on her skin. “You okay?” he asked, keeping his eyes politely away from where she held her shirt together.

“Yeah.” She forced a light laugh, swallowing her discomfort at lying to him. “I fell running in the dark. Can I get a Bunnee’s shirt and pay for it when Clara gets here?”

“Not smart,” he observed, digging under the counter and drawing out a neon pink shirt with his logo on it. “Running in the dark. Especially when you have a flashlight.”

“Yeah, I know.” Lona nodded sheepishly, edging toward the bathroom. “Can I get a Kit Kat milkshake, too?”

He grinned. “Coming right up.”

Lona ducked into the bathroom and cleaned herself up, then changed shirts. The sight of blood on her thumb stopped her, and she realized she must have scratched Liam. Good. I hope it scars. 

By the time she’d come out, Bunnee had her shake ready. “The whole crew coming?” he asked.

“Yes,” Lona said, taking the treat and sitting down at the big booth.

“Jauntsen, too?” Bunnee asked with a frown.

The adult disapproval rang clearly in his voice. “I think so.” Lona glanced up at him. “Before you ask, a nice girl like me hangs out with a guy like him because he’s a true friend. There’s more to him than he shows the world.”

Bunnee held up his hands. “Your life, kid. I was just trying to get an idea of head count.” 

“Okay,” Lona said, pulling out her phone and turning her attention to her music blogs. Patiently, she started to wait for the others to join her.

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The Game - Marissa

The roar of the crowd was like a wave of adrenaline washing over her, but she jumped at it nonetheless.  She'd gone home, gotten cleaned up, hid her crazy after a few more hours of crying and decided the air of the game would do her some good.  She was all adrenalined out for one day.  The spikes of emotional states she'd been through today were good and plenty and somewhere out of it all she thought maybe it was time to change her diva ways...

Her maroon lips curled into a half smile as she walked into the 'stadium' area of Shelly high and with each step up the entrance way more and more of her glorious kingdom was revealed to her.  She was dressed like a cheerleader, in a manner.  With a skirt slightly longer to preserve modesty, and a stylish, but fitting sweater cut to reveal more midriff than school policy allowed.  She stood at the railing that split the halves of the bleachers and gazed upon the cheerleaders, reminding them silently that they were only allowed to be objects of popularity and desire because she allowed them to be.  Were she down there... they'd be talentless hags by comparison, and tonight, she thought it time Courtney was reminded of that.  With an approving smile that said 'carry on' she moved her way to the stands.

Maybe it was time she changed her diva ways...

...

...

Nah.  Marissa had decided long ago that if she were to live in Hell, she might as well sit on its Throne.  The Fellowship were okay enough, but the rest of these water headed monglets?  It was time their knees ached in reverence.

She'd noticed Jason sitting with the Cassidys and offered him a smile but didn't invite herself to join them.  She was uneasy around Sean and something about him bothered her.  It could have been the way he tried so hard to claim he was a boy and took offense to people saying or thinking otherwise then turned around and styled his hair in femenine colors and styles, making himself look like a girl to garner unwanted attention so he could pity up later.  Or it could be the way he'd offered up his cock and balls to guys in his classes... either way, she did her best avoid contact with the little femignome.  Thankfully, she wasn't trying to sleep with Laurie, so she didn't have to be nice to the little brat.  Besides, if she were, she'd have already done so by now.  Why were men so stupid and slow at everything?

Jason dismissed himself and she saw it from the corner of her vision and when Stacey Collier scurried off after him she knew there'd be trouble there.  It wasn't her problem, though.  Stacey was nice, Jason needed nice, God knows he was surrounded by enough smothering, emotionally unstable, insane females already.  Good thing he had her to keep him stable.

Around halftime she took a moment to mingle.  After the cheerleaders did their little show (which she found poorly choreographed) she crossed the track to the playing field.  It took Courtney all of two seconds to swoop down on her.

"Well, look who decided to grace us with her-"

"Christ, do you ever stop being a bitch?"  Marissa cut her off.  The squad all silently giggled under their breath.  "Ladies, Courtney, just wanted you to know that I loved the show.  Doing a great job, we're killing them and it's you girls out here keeping them going.  So please, keep it up."

The cheers quad all offered up woos and jumped a bit.  Marissa smirked as Courtney was slapped in the feels with eight, happy, pretty, ladies worth of real leadership, right to her fake sweet sixteen boob job.

"What are you doing," Courtney fumed, leaning in and lowering her voice.  Unthinkingly she gripped Marissa arm, mistaking her for one of her play things.  "Cheering is mine, you're out of line, Mari."

The Mantis slowly looked down at the redhead's hand squeezing her arm.  Her glare slowly rose to meet her aggressor's eyes.  Courtney let go.  "You have the cheerleading team only because I allow it.  You will have Homecoming Queen, because I'll allow it, you have so many things Courtney.  So.  Many.  Things."  Her voice was Malificent cold.  She was on a villain high and riding straight to Arkham.  "So why are playing with my things?  Hmm?  You're like a thug with a gun, waving it around so everyone see."

Courtney pursed her lips and exhaled in a silent rage.  "When you have a gun," she offered.  "You can rob a banks."

"When you have a bank, you can rob everyone." Marissa smirked impishly, halting her logic before it gained traction.  "I have the bank.  Your grades, your test scores, the faculty, your choice of colleges, hell, the fucking Mayor is in my pocket.  So wave your gun, it's only a matter of time before someone sees it and you cause a panic.  Now let me be clear:  this Snapchat shit, stops.  Those nerds, especially Jason are my little toys and if you go near them again you will quickly understand why in a world of locked doors, the bitch holding the key is queen."

She leaned away and put on her best smile.  "Woo!  Great job girls!  Get our boys a win!"  She winked at Courtney and turned to leave.  "Do so love these chats, Court!  Tatty-bye!"

She watched the rest of the game, silently and alone making sure everytime Courtney looked in her direction she saw the eyes of Boss, CEO, her Queen (if you were feeling dramatic), glaring disapprovingly at her.  She put up a good front, but she knew without backing, she couldn't hold the school's popularity vote and Courtney knew it.  If only she had an army of her...

She slowly tilt her head to look at Sean and Jason cheering for Lilly... maybe Cade too, if he actually showed up, and she had an idea.

The Mantis had a wonderful, awful idea...

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Charlie slid into his seat, awaiting the opening kickoff of the game.

"Where were you today?" Kyle Everson asked, right next to him. "You never cut class."

"Jason left, and I got worried about him," Charlie responded, "what with Cody and all those rumors flying around." He couldn't say oh, we had to go find Jason, Devin, Marissa and Autumn and save them because we think some other-dimensional force of evil got to them like it did Cody. "It's just odd, man." Kyle replied. "Bannon's actually making an effort and now the king and queen bees are hanging with you."

"Well, apparently the seizure jarred some humanity loose in Devin's brain." Charlie responded, honestly. "Marissa?" "Mari the Mantis is still a bit of a bitch." And that I nearly strangled her by accident because I have super-powers, Kyle. Also there's a government conspiracy controlling this town as a petri dish. Oh, I hope I'm not manifesting telepathy next, that would make this awkward.

"You can always talk to me Charlie."

"I know, I know."

And the football flew into the air, and by ancient men's convention, they stopped talking to devote their full attention to the game.

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That night at the game was something he had to do.   Seated with his mother, Cade smiled.  Cora had volunteered to go get concessions, and Haruka went with her leaving him with his stepmother, who seemed abit preoccupied.   "Something up mom?"  She looked up to him, and smiled.  "Not really,  just wishing your father was here.   He misses far too much these days, and I worry that he's working too much."   Cade nodded.  "With his responsibilities, it's just how things are.  I don't see that changing all that much."  She seemed abit disappointed with that answer, but nodded.  "I know, but I worry that he's not spending enough time with you two."   

Cade shrugged slightly,  "I'm used to not seeing him much.  I think it's abit harder on Haruka honestly."  His step-mother stiffened slightly and he knew he'd not made the situation better with that comment.

Downstairs, waiting in line for concessions, Haruka waited with Coraline.  "So, you finally got your wish, dating my brother."   The precocious twelve year old was seemingly wise beyond her years, and had always been abit teasing of Coraline, but in that way one would expect little sisters of being.  She approved of Cora, as she added some acceptable culture to Cade's live outside of sports and his secret hobby.
Coraline looked down at the girl and shook her head. She liked the younger girl, she really did.

"Let's see how long it takes you to work up to confessing to your crush, and then you can gloat. But then again, you've always been a bright one," she snarked back with a chuckle. Her eyes shifted to scan the crowd quickly, a flicker of alertness looking for... Something she didn't quite have word for. Danger was too acute. Threat too vague. Hazard too impersonal. Menace? Yes. Menace. That was close enough to what she was looking for. It had been her stated idea to go to the game first after the... Happening... Happened, figuring a crowd would be safer. But safer from what? Monsters, spies, Bannon or someone going Carrie on the first person to nudge them wrong?

"...Cora? Cora, they moved," Haruka verbally poked the taller girl out of her impromptu mini fugue with the revelation that, indeed, the line had just inchwormed forward again with the exception of themselves. Coraline flashed a quick smile of apology and moved forward a step.

"Sorry. Thinking about what your Mom wanted," she responded to Haruka's raised eyebrow of disbelief based on the simplicity of everyone's order, realizing too late the transparency of the deflection, "'Long day. Always not fun shifting gears from summer to school. Anyway, I've been looking up concerts and there's a few you could probably convince your Dad to let you go to..."

*That* Haruka could get behind enough to quell any further problems for now, and three popcorns and four sodas later, the two returned to their seats. "Miss me?" she replied, settling down next to Cade and handing over their shared popcorn.
Cade helped pass the food out and smiled.  "Yeah, and the food too." He was obviously teasing her a little, his smile spoke of nothing of his previous conversation with his mother who took her food and drink quietly.  She wasn't a fan of american football, prefering baseball, especially watching Cade play.  Back in Japan, she couldn't help but feel that Cade would be a star of the diamond, and maybe that would make him abit happier.   She quashed that quickly as Cade really never seemed unhappy now, save where his father was concerned. It was a sore spot but tonight wasn't about that.

Cade chuckled as they watched the game.   He supported the football team because he was friends with alot of them, and they supported the other athletic teams.  Hell some ran track with him and even played baseball. 

Haruka looked up at Cora  "So, what concerts were you thinking of?"

Coraline took a moment to get comfy and nestle in close to Cade as she could with his mother sitting right there, claiming her first bite of popcorn as she scrolled through her eclectic list of research and pruned about a third of it immediately. Nooope.

"Well... Just in Great Falls alone coming up through November, off the top of my head.. We have Hozier, Avril Lavigne, Carrie Underwood, the Black Keys, and Bob Dylan even. Though I could see my Mom making that a 'Hess Family Outing'," she lingered on that last one, having run out of fingers, smiling amusedly at the fruits of her research. It was less what was playing, as the experience of it, the wave of human emotion blasting from the band or singer at the beating center of the gathering.

Speaking of which, The Coyotes must have scored as the crowd around them exploded in screaming celebration, a wave of chaotic emotion rippling across the bleachers at the speed of thought.

Haruka nodded.  "You pick one.  i'm sure Cade will go too, that way even Dad will agree."  She'd already gotten her mother's approval and Cade just sat there, suppressing a chuckle.  "They just scored again.  I think Lilly's got them all pretty fired up.  That play-call was pro-level perfect."  He said.  He'd agreed to let them plan that concert date, since it was more for Haruka to finally get to go to a concert,  though he did think to offer his personal preference

"My pick would be the latter too."  Haruka smiled as he spoke.  "You would like the old man music."  The quartet turned their attention to the game as the point after kick sailed perfectly through the goalpoasts, and Cade smiled.  

written together with Coraline's player

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The Wright Poolhouse

The poolhouse door closed behind Lona with a loud click and Etienne turned to face Clara, his expression somber. “Are you able to talk now?” he asked, his voice gentle.

She nodded. Everyone else was at the game tonight - Felix loved football nights, and Lisa had taken the excuse to get the other adults out of the house and socializing for the night. There wasn't going to be a better time, especially if things got loud. She took a deep breath. “Yeah, we should.” She just stood there staring at him for a minute though, completely at a loss for how to start. Her hand gripped the back of the couch nervously.

“The most important thing to say is that I, I care about you deeply.” He sat down in a chair, then stood in a nervous rush. “I didn’t start out to hurt you, and I regret that I have. I’m sorry.”
She hadn’t followed him into the sitting area at first and when she moved now, her eyes caught on the large binder still sitting out on coffee table. Her Plan. She’d finally put it back together with her revised class and activity schedules just before school started again. In all the crazy of the past two days, she’d forgotten to put it up. A self-deprecating laugh escaped her at the absurdity of it all now. Having a plan in a world of Etienne’s and Cook’s and monsters and psychic powers and creepy Blackfeet Upside-Down-Thunder worlds. How the hell did any of that fit into a plan?

She flumped onto the couch, scooping the large binder onto her lap. She tapped the cover with her fingertips to let out some of her tension and frustration. “‘Didn’t start out to hurt’ me. Just use me?” 

“When Cook’s previous attempts to get into your parents’ lab didn’t work, he hired me.” Etienne stopped and ran his hands through his hair, then sat himself down on the other end of the couch. “My training is as a spy, one that acquires assets. That means I’m good with people and convincing them to do things or hand over things. I lost my first job.” He sighed with a touch of bitterness, “Not because of anything on my end, but politics and money. Anyways, I still needed work but I couldn’t be particularly...discriminating...about what jobs I take. Friends in the community would find me interested parties, and I’d say yes or no. Some things I won’t do, but once I agree to a contract, if I ever want another, I have to see it through.”

He leaned back, closing his eyes. “Cook implied that you were college age. I should have checked, but I honestly didn’t think the man that...Feh, doesn’t matter. I found out the truth and went ahead with it anyways. That’s my failing and I am sorry.” He covered his face with his hand and laughed. “Sort of. I’m sorry I was willing to do it, but. . .” He glanced over at her, his expression conflicted and rueful. “But I’m not sorry I met you. An idiot, but not sorry.”

“And I just lost myself in the past couple of months.” He flushed, looking abashed. “I knew I needed to finish the contract, but it was easy to just let you set the pace of things and not worry about it. Tell Cook that I didn’t want to scare you off or tip off your parents. Given how he sees this place as some sort of...what’s the American saying? Fort Knox, some sort of Fort Knox, it wasn’t hard to convince him that I needed more time. A lot of time.”

Clara had watched him closely, her hands still fiddling with the binder. She’d flipped over the top cover, her hand splayed out on the first subject cover. “What-how, how did you think this was going to end, Etienne?” 

“I wasn’t thinking, Clara,” he said softly. “I fell in love and I was just trying to hold everything together as long as I could.”

The stiff purple paper crumpled under her hand, ripping away from the binder. Clara started, staring at the creased and torn remnant in her hand. She laughed again, tears falling down her cheeks. “Jesus, Etienne.” Her shoulders shook and she stared down at the binder, little hysterical laughs bubbling out of her. She crumpled another page. And another. And another.

She was halfway through her senior year schedule, the already-written college entrance essays next in line for destruction, when she felt Etienne’s arms around her. “Clara,” he murmured softly into her hair, “hold on, don’t-”

“Don’t what?” she barked. “It’s a joke! It’s just-just-” She bent over the binder, her fingers scrambling and scratching at the edges of the thick stack of paper. “None of it matters anymore and it was just a stupid joke all along. I just didn’t know it!”

He pulled her in closer to him, cradling her head against her chest and letting her cry. When she relaxed against him, he snaked the binder out from her lap and tossed it onto the floor away from her. He kissed the top of her head, repeating to her. “We’ll figure it out, ma trésor; we’ll figure it out.”

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Project #4 - The Game: Sean

Sean sat in the bleachers with his parents and Jason, the roar of the crowd washing over them as they joined in the cheering. Sean didn't have much interesting in football, or sports in general, but he'd come out to support Lilly. But there was something more to it this evening, with his sister on the field. And after the absolutely crazy and disturbing afternoon, something as normal as cheering on a friend and family at a high school football game seemed all the sweeter.

Over the field, Sean piloted his drone, filming Laurie's first football game for posterity, a private grin gracing his lips. The remote in his hands was just for appearances sake. He was controlling the quadcopter with his mind, which gave him far more precise mastery of the drone than his fingers ever could. Even better, he found out he could not only perceive the electromagnetic spectrum, he could convert it to some degree. Twisting just a few threads of photons, he was able to power his drone, giving it far greater flight time.

Sean jumped to his feet as quickly as the others when Laurie made the field goal, pumping his fist exuberantly and cheering, though his slender shoulders tensed. Laurie was jumping excitedly on the field, getting celebratory slaps on the back and hugs from her teammates. Laurie turned to the crowd, and finding Sean and her parents, with a wide grin on her face, she waved and pointed at her brother. With a put upon sigh, Sean smiled ruefully back at his sister and waved.

Shortly after Jase got up to get more snacks, Sean stood up too. He stretched surreptitiously, then picked up a pack he had stuffed under his seat, and assured his parents he'd be back soon before he headed off to the bathroom.

~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~

Sean stepped out of the stall and walked up to sink. Hands on the porcelain, he stared at himself in the mirror, turning this way, then that. He thought of himself as a boy, a young man, but the person in the mirror looked like anything but. And yet, he didn't totally hate what he saw, even if he didn't usually appreciate the attention he drew. He knew what he looked like, but he had tried imagining what he'd look like as a 'normal' young man - whatever that meant - more than a few times. The image that came to mind however, was always unfinished, amorphous, or ended up looking like someone else, someone he'd seen elsewhere. Taller, bulkier, but hardly more defined than that, the face, if it didn't belong to his father or an actor he seen somewhere, would be square and hard, speckled with a coarse five o'clock shadow. It didn't look like him at all, didn't feel like him.

He was still figuring out what being a boy meant, meant for him, challenging his preconceptions from growing up as a reasonably regular - if still delicate looking - boy during his formative years. And with reality warping, monsters looming, conspiracies conspiring, and psionic powers unveiling, Sean was not only being forced to adapt to how to saw the world, but how he saw himself. He had thought of himself as a boy cursed with a woman's body and looks, could he reinterpret that to being a boy who happened to look like a woman, and that there wasn't anything wrong with that, that it was just different?

He was figuring out who he was, but his friends seemed to accept him already, quirks and all. Why should he worry about how others saw him? The more he worried about it, the worse it seemed to get. But other people, girls, like Marissa, got as much attention as he did or more, but it hardly seemed to phase them. Let them think what they want, say what they wanted, as along as they didn't act on it without invitation. It did seem a lot of it was all about attitude - he conveyed a sense of being a victim, and so he was.

Devin might be right about that, and that was an insufferable thought.

So when Laurie had proposed her bet, Sean had only hesitated for a moment before agreeing. He'd known it was a sucker's bet, but Laurie had been very fidgety during supper, and he could see her nerves getting to her, first game jitters. He was sure Laurelei had the skill, he just didn't want her psyching herself up for failure, so he agreed to her teasing request to give her something extra to strive for.

And if he did lose the bet, it gave him the excuse to claim - to himself at least - that it wasn't something he had wanted to do, but was a push he needed to at least start getting over his hangups. Hiding didn't help - and didn't work, denying didn't work, it was time to embrace it, just a little. He knew that was what Laurie was trying to do, in her teasing way, and others had suggested it to him, in one way or another.

This was it. He cooled his face with some water, dried it off, took several deep breaths and rolled his shoulders. Then he grabbed his white and yellow pom-poms, plastered a grin on his face, and strutted out of the bathroom, the pleated skirt of the Coyote cheerleader's outfit swishing about his hips.

He was doing this for Laurie and for himself, to see what it was like. Let others think and say what they wanted, he would endure. There were much harder things he was being forced to contend with compared to being intersexed.

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Sara let the weights down gently, closed her eyes and listened to the other s working out in the small weight-room. Her heart wasn't it.

She had gone straight home after they had returned form the to find her mom gone taking a weekend trip to Great Falls, Sara had gleaned from the note her oh so loving mother had left her along with orders to clean the trailer and twenty dollars for food. She shoved the money into the pocket and left the trailer mess and all and gone tot he gym.

Art saw her come into the training room and came over to her. “So, you come to train or what?”

“Yeah I thought maybe a couple of rounds“ she said tossing her gym bag on the floor by the bench. While she grabbed some shorts from and a bra and t-shit from the bag she looked up at the two boys in the ring sparring. Both were students at school but a year behind

“Hmm, I figured you'd be out at the game.”

“Nah, maybe if dad were home, football is more his thing.”

“Yeah I remember when he played...he was good. But no, I thought you'd be out with your new friends.”

Sara stopped and then slowly faced Art. The old man had a stern look on his face. “You know I don't have any friends, Art.”

“Well, I don't know you been dodging training since July and some of the other kids they tell me you been hanging out with some kids at school. I mean friends are good but if you want to compete, be a champion, you gotta train. Your that age where you might want to do other things. I understand...”

Sara cut him off. “Your right Art I should have just come clean with you but a lot has been going on and I can't really explain it to you. But yeah I don't think competing in the boxing league is gonna happen now.”

Art shook his head. “I just don't want you to give up on something that could make a difference in your life, a way out of this place. You can have that social life anytime but right now your young your and strong if you stop training now, it will be that much harder to come back too later.”

“Art, I don't need to train anymore not to box, but I can't compete anymore either that won't ever happen now. I'll train to stay in shape. And I'll always come to you for advice about all sorts of stuff. Your like a second dad to me you know.”

Art shook his head sadly not understanding. “But Sara hun, why?”

“Because I can't lose. Not any more.” She started calling the fight happening behind her softly so that only Art could here. That in it self was enough to make the old man awestrruck but when he realized she was telling him whatthe boys boxing were doing before they did it, that was almost too much.

Sara rested her hands on his shoulders, “Art, I can't explain it right now, but I will okay when I can. Just trust me okay.”

Art nodded, “Yeah sure whatever you say Sara. Did you want to spar?”

“I better skip tonight looks like you have your hands full with these guys. I'll just go do some weights.”

 

That had been an hour ago and Sara was feeling guilty about using her powers on Art but it was for the best. After today she knew that boxing wasn't something she was going to do as a career not unless she was going to become the biggest cheat in the world.. She got up wiped down the bench and hit the showers then after dressing walked over to the bowling ally to pass the time waiting for the Fellowship to come to Bunnee's after the game. After getting a basket of cheese fries and a Dr pepper she went into the arcade lounge and played video games while she listened to the game over the ally's radio. She smiled when she heard that Laurie Cassidy had made her first field goal. “Good for her," she said outloud as she feed more quarters into the hungry machines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Shelly High
Girls Locker Room
(Before the game)

There were things Lilly liked and disliked about no longer being alone in the girls locker room when getting ready for a game. She could play her music as loud as she wanted, did not need to worry about pleasing anybody with song choice either, and the solitude helped her focus on the upcoming game. Now with several other girls in the locker room there were other considerations, but they are minimal to Lilly and a trade-off she would make any day for the camaraderie she was feeling as they all  got ready for the game For her part, Lilly helped others who needed getting suited up and shared some helpful advice here and there.

When they were suited up Lilly called the girls together, each them holding or cradling their helmets under an arm as she addressed them for a quick moment.

"What you went through at tryouts here is nothing compared to what you're about to see out there. The guys on the other team are gonna talk all kinds of shit to you, about a girl being on the field and Shelly being so small they have to let girls play to fill out a team, and anything else they can think of. Ignore it. Water off a duck's back. Let your playing do the talking and you'll shut them up pretty damned quick. 

Some of them will underestimate you. If they do, that's their problem, but they will learn soon enough. Others will hit you even harder, trying to make you quit. Don't. In a scrum your are feel hands on your ass and trying to grab your hair, so make sure you you keep it up. Guys can be petty, scared a-holes, and will look for any advantage they can to throw you off your game. Don't let them. Every single one of us earned our place on this team, beating out boys for it. We beat out those boys, so we can beat these out of towers too!" she said and then held out her helmet.

"Helmets in. Coyotes on three." she said and the other girls held out there helmets, touching them all together. 

As one they all chanted, "Three! Two! One! Coyotes!"

 

Shelly High
Football Bleachers

William and Cassandra Pryor made their way up the stairs at the side of the bleachers, stopping to say hi to other parents and families on their way to their seat. Though they lived in base housing, the locals had gotten to know them both to varying degrees over the years.

Mrs. Pryor was the head nurse at the medical center, so a good number of residents had got to meet her and benefit from her care. She was pretty with a warm smile, long, dark hair and a bit of an olive complexion, hinting as her Mediterranean roots. One look at her and it was clear where Lilly got the majority of her looks from, and after a moment of speaking with her, where Lilly got her compassion. She was a kind woman, smiling and hugging friends and acquaintances, often going well out of her way to do so as the couple moved up the bleachers. 

Mr. Pryor, on the other hand, worked on base as a Lt. Col. in charge of security for the installation. That being the case, he was not seen day to day in Shelly like his wife was, but she made sure send well wishes and so forth on his behalf. Shelly was still the closest town, so he would be found there shopping with his wife or buying supplies in preparation of hunting season. He was a bit of an imposing man, radiating confidence and authority, even in his pink 'Throw Like A Girl" t shirt he was wearing, matching the one his wife wore. His wife and Lilly would say that he is not nearly as stern or serious as he looked though, and he had a laugh that could shake walls.

Together, the couple balanced each other out quite nicely and over the years had gotten to know other parents and families , which they were greeting and taking a moment to catch up with now before the game started, including the Cassidy's, who were sitting with the son, Sean, and and their nearly de facto son, Jason Bannon.

"Hi! How are you? Lilly said Laurie made the team. You must be so proud!" Mrs. Pryor said to Mr & Mrs. Cassidy as she moved down the line of Cassidys, giving them each a hug.

"We are. I think she's a bit nervous though, first game and all." Mrs. Cassidy replied. 

"Oh, don't you worry. I'm sure she'll do great!" Mr.s Pryor assured her as she broke her hug with Sean and moved on, giving Jason a warm hug too.

"You must be Jason." she said with a smile, to which he nodded.

"Yes ma'am." he replied politely with a small smile.

"I don't think we've ever met." came Mr. Pryor's voice as he extended a hand to Jason.

"No sir. But I game with Lilly and the others at the Cassidy's usually." he answered, shaking the man's hand.

"I've heard mixed things about you. But if you are a friend of Lilly's, then I think I know what to believe and what not to." he said to Jason which weirdly seemed like a mix of a compliment, but seemed to have a hint of a warning to it too, without really sounding like one. 

"Why don't you sit with us?" Mr. Cassidy offered as he scooted over a a little on the blanket they had put down to soften their seat on the bleachers.

"We couldn't. We don't want to intrude." Mrs. Pryor responded.

"Nonsense." Mr. Cassidy say, waving off the notion with his hand. "Have a seat. It'll give you girls a chance to catch up anyways." he said, patting the blanket.

"Thanks. This looks like a good vantage point." Mr. Pryor said as he took a seat by the other father while the woman sat together.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * 

The announcer came on over the loudspeakers ,making a few quick announcements about the next game and upcoming events before introducing the marching band who, after their performance, took their seats in a marked off area of the bottom rows of the bleachers. Once seated, the visited Simms High Tigers were welcomed, having already been on the other side of field in front of the visitors bleachers. After a moment the marching band began to play another song, "Seven Nation Army" as the spectators in the bleachers began to stomp their feet in time with the music. The cheerleaders ran out and unrolled a large banner. Two of them held it while the others stood and cheered, shaking their pom-poms. Then the announcer spoke again as the song was about to reach a climax,

"Ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the field your twenty nineteen! Shelly High! Coyo-teeees!"

The team came bursting through the banner, running onto the lighted field as cheers filled the air. Shelly was a small town, and it seemed like nearly the entire entire town was there to root on their team judging by the noise they made, adding an electricity and excitement to the air. It was a feeling that Lilly loved, and one, when she thought about, she might not be able to feel for very much longer...

 

Shelly High
Coyote's Sideline

"Field goal! On the field." Coach Meyers called out as the regular offense left the field and the field goals special team ran on. The Tigers had somehow managed to stall out the Coyotes first scoring drive, inside the red zone, and Coach Meyers was not going to take a chance and go for it on a fourth down.

"Pryor!" Coach Meyers called out, causing her to turn and jog up to him. 

"Did I make a mistake starting you, Pryor?" he asked with all seriousness and intensity. "It's been painful to watch you claw out yardage against these guys. You should be running roughshod over them. Do I need to bench you?" he asked, grabbing her facemask.

"No coach." she said, shaking her head, "I'm sorry. I-"

"I don't need 'sorry' Pryor. I need performance. So you go out there, spot that ball, and then spend Simms' possession getting your head on right." she barked at her and released her facemask.

"You got it, coach." she said, nodding and then jogged away, catching up to Laurie.

"You okay?" Laurie asked. She was showing concern for Lilly, but her own nervousness was very apparent.This was her first field goal attempt and if successful, she would put points on the board and give Shelly the lead.

"Yeah. I'm good." Lilly said, noting the nervousness in Laurie. "And look. If you are too nervous or don't think you can do it, just let me know and I'll improvise a fake. We're inside the ten though, so this is no different that a point after. Just kick high so they can;t block it and you're good. I know you can do it Laurie. It's just like practice." she said as she took her spot.

Laurie nodded. 

"I'm good. I'm good. I got this. Just like practice." she said, more or herself than Lilly as she got into position.

Lilly knelt down and looked to Laurie, waiting for her nod. She then turned and nodded to the long snapper who was looking at her between his own legs and over the top of the ball. In under two seconds the ball was snapped to Lilly, who placed it point down and held the top point with one finger as Laurie took her strides, swung back and leg and kicked the ball in a high arc, over the heads and outstretched hands of the defenders, splitting the uprights. The crowd erupted in a cheer as Shelly scored first, giving the lead.

Lilly did as the coach said though and sat on the bench while the Tiger's offense moved down the field. She had a lot of things on her mind, from the events last night, this morning, day and afternoon and the ramifications of things. She thought she had set it aside, but their first possession of the game showed different. She was part of a team and they needed her. She had a responsibility to them, one made long ago and that she intended to keep. She sat on the bench, closed her eyes and mentally shoved aside the pile of uncertainty, confusion and messy thoughts she had, locking it away until it could be dealt with later.

It was Friday night, and they had a game to win.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * 

The game itself was a blowout. 39-18. The Coyotes scored five touchdowns, two of which Lilly ran in herself. She did not particularly celebrate though, just tossed the ball to the referee in a casual, 'yeah, this is nothing special. I do it all the time' manner each time before her teammates would swamp her with high fives, hugs and slaps to her helmet and pads.

Laurie was on point as well, making four of her five point-after kicks, having only missed one to a bad snapped that threw off the timing, after her one and only field goal attempt in the beginning of the game to give Shelly the lead, which they never yielded back.

Even Chet got in on the action, getting his first Safety as he sacked the Tigers' quarterback in their own end zone after a penalty placed them back in it.

The Tigers were not scoreless though, having found the end zone three times, though it was not their kicker's night, as he missed two point-after attempts while the third was blocked, and missing both attempted field goals.

 

It was Friday night in Shelly, Montana, and the town was alive with good cheer and excitement for the season to come...

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Partially cocooned in a heavy, crocheted blanket she'd snuck out of her grandparents' house before the sale, Autumn leaned out the "window" of the half-finished tree house that looked toward Shelly proper, slowly exhaling a plume of smoke from between pursed lips. It tasted earthy, like fresh dirt and chocolate as it coiled out into the darkness, and the small stone pipe was warm in her hands- another ward against the cool night air. As she listened to the dull, distant roar of the crowd, gazing down the gentle slope of the hill to see the glow of the bright stadium lights against the black, fathomless sky, the normally restive redhead waited.

She waited for anything to make sense, waited to wake up, waited for the bowl she was smoking to carry away memories of blood and fire and monsters like the remnants of a nightmare banished on that waking.

But... It didn't. The showers, the hysterical crying, the bouts of vomiting in between- they'd just left her feeling numb and empty, an awful ache that hollowed out her insides. At least her face had stopped throbbing- small comfort- although she wouldn't know how bad it would look until the next morning.

Taking another hit from the smooth, green bowl, she continued to wait, letting the smoke gently soften the sharp edges of the day as it rolled across her tongue. If she tried to talk to anyone about what had happened, they'd think she was crazy. Hell, she mused, slow ribbons of silver trailing lazily around her head. She probably was. The thought made her giggle, in spite of herself, and she left the pipe to cool on the framed-out opening in the wooden tree house wall, folding her arms across her chest and pulling the blanket tight.

The collective voice of the crowd rose up in another cheer, and her eyes- tonight a brighter, Caribbean blue against the red of so many tears- focused on those distant lights. Everything had been so awful, so frightening, so chaotic, and yet life was carrying on without pause or consideration. It had been the same when her grandfather died, just… moving on. Moving forward. It was easier to think about it, now, with the soft, knotted strands of woollen yarn wrapped around her body and the insulation afforded by a little herbal refreshment wrapped comfortably around her brain.

I could have died.

Another cheer, an air horn. Whatever was going on down there, the crowds were eating it up.

...But I didn’t.

The three people at Shelly High that she liked least, that she avoided as if their delinquency and bad reputations might somehow be contagious diseases, had protected her. Had made sure she got home. And because, unlike the nightmare Courtney-monster or the creepy lookalike teddy bear or the Shelly-tree, that fact still existed in their side of the horrorverse, she was forced to acknowledge it. Fucking… Jason Bannon, and the Evil Twins, had probably saved her life. Had saved her life. It wasn’t just some bizarro world delusion; Marissa, of all people, had cried on her shoulder. What was she supposed to do with that? The breeze picked up, rustling the leaves around her in reassuring whispers.

She dragged a finger across the screen of her phone where it lay on the window ledge, idly chewing her lower lip as her brain lazily sifted through her options and condensed them into something like a plan.

Hey, she tapped slowly. You said to come see you, about the hair thing. If you’re not busy Sunday- Autumn sighed, the air escaping her lungs in a long, soft exhalation- would you maybe want to hang out, or something?

She tapped again.

[Message Sent.]

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Cassandra showed up early to Shelly High, calculated to be around the same time the first athletes did. Her skirt was a bit shorter than the ones she wore to class, her neckline a bit lower. The absolute best way to get teenagers amped up on stress, anticipation and adrenaline to spare a moment to talk was to be flirty. She smiled admiringly when she listened to Bart Matthews stumble his way through a few school team spirit slogans in response to her asking what he wanted to achieve tonight. When Chris talked seriously about wanting to dedicate this game to his grandfather who'd just passed, she looked convincingly sympathetic. And it wasn't that she wasn't, but there was always a kind of awkwardness to being sympathetic when told about the death of someone you never even met. Their passing was on some level academic to her, even as she recognized it very much was not to Chris. His words went into her recorder as well.

During the game, she took the 'pulse' of some folks going in, trying to avoid the ones she could tell were family of players. Statements ranged from enthusiastic howls to weirdly analytical diatribes about players with the best down averages and running values. Their words became part of the public record too, and she got some selfies. The guy who'd painted his face in the school colors would be a great splash on the front page.

Then she just settled in and watched the game, typing notes onto her 'post-it' app as it went on. Her notes were in vowelless shorthand that spared her having to write out whole words, but that she could reconstruct later (mostly) into what she'd meant. The reality though was that the content of the notes wasn't really that important. Just the act of writing something down sort of fixed it in her memory. She'd be able to rewrite it by heart now, even if the notes were swallowed up in a black hole forever.

Sometimes games were pretty boring. Shelly High had a strong team, and tended to run roughshod over the neighboring schools. This time was no different; the skill and talent of Lilly pushed through whatever extra training the other team had had, and propelled Shelly to another victory. This time however, she had a more personal attachment. These were her friends playing now and it made a big difference in how involved she felt. Those face-painted people made more sense to her now. At halftime Cass went around the bleachers, getting more quotes and statements from fans.

Finally, the post game. Cassandra bypassed the fans for that, knowing in advance that all she'd get were exuberant screams. Instead she went in for the coach himself. It was a pretty fluffy interview of just a handful of questions, all of them softballs like, 'How did you feel when you saw Shelly first pull ahead?' and so on. This wasn't a truth telling expedition. It was...more like a celebration. This was Cassie, celebrating.

Ugh, that felt kind of depressing when she put it like that.

Her phone chimed at her then though, and she lit up a bit to see an invitation to Bunnee's for an impromptu post-game party and Bunnee's from the so-called 'Fellowship.'

A Bunnee's burger sounded great right then, and it'd be a chance to talk to the star of the show...absolutely no downside!

She took a few shots of the crowd as they made their way, bellowing and back-slapping, out of the stadium...then went for the bike racks to get to Bunnee's...

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