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Weirder Stuff - Session IV - CHASING RAINBOWS

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Cassandra was taken aback by the sudden appearance of voices in her head, and it took her a hot minute to adjust to that. It was, fair to say, kind of uncomfortable at first...though she realized quickly that it didn't seem to be 'listening' to her thoughts. It was more like 'press to talk.' Which helped. A little.

"Are you okay?" Beth asked quietly, noticing that her friend seemed a little spaced-out. Cassie looked back and nodded quickly.

"Yeah, fine. Just kind of zoned. Probably need more sleep."

<I don't really know anyone to put on the...list? That's kind of an ominous thing to have, guys, just saying. A list of enemies? But I mean, I'd have put Devin and Marissa on that list before I got to know them. We should be a little careful here. Leila down at the school paper gives me shit sometimes, but that's kind of her job so I can't really get mad about it. I'm kind of leaning towards a more case by case basis here.>

Beth frowned. "You haven't been sleeping?"

"No, I just...a couple of nights I got wrapped up in online searches, fell down rabbit holes, you know," Cass temporized. "It's not a health issue or anything, I just need to...pay attention to the old clock, you know?"

Her friend nodded hesitantly and finished off her lunch.

<Agh! She knows too much! She's onto me! Destroy the planet! I repeat, destroy the planet!>

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<How long do I have?> Jason's mental tone was so dry it took a moment for the others to realise he was joking.  Probably.

<How long do you need?>  Sean asked before he could stop himself, even while he was considering adding more players to his game.  The logistics would be sticky, but with a good Assistant GM it should be doable...

<At least ten years.  They've not begun to hatch yet.>  Jason replied, a faint alien, but not unpleasant sensation of dark mirth accompanying the words.

<Bio-weapon plague?  Always a vote-grabber.>  Sean nodded approvingly.

<Agreed.  Please do let me know if you start to experience any bowel problems.  The incubation process is a delicate one.>  That was good for a collective <EWWW> and some welcome mental laughter, one or two of the Fellowship smiling at the still-apparently-studying Jason.

<If Chet is giving hateful looks, then his apparent peace with Sean can be assumed to be over too.  Perhaps he's been got at by the Dark - he was with Courtney on Friday night after the game, and didn't join the party at Bunnee's - perhaps he was never genuine.  Either way, we are on siege footing - go nowhere alone on school grounds, even and especially the bathrooms.>  Jason's tone went back to it's more clinical, icily precise measures.  <And by alone, I mean without at least one other member of the Fellowship.  Get used to the fact that most of the faculty and students will be 'blinkered' by the Dark, encouraged to look the other way.  Perhaps even your friends.>

<We need to minimise the opportunities we hand the Dark to strike at us.  It's strongest here, in central Shelly.  That's where the Tree appears in the other place.  This is now hostile territory>  He went on, turning the pages of his book.  <Sara and Sean - when Autumn gets here we should give you all a quick info-dump on the Saturday meeting's outcomes and the tasks Cassandra suggested for us all.>

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Lilly got her breakfast along with the Heath's and took a seat with them to continue talking and joking. The Heath cousins were not part of the D&D game, though Lilly had invited them some time ago, but they were two of her best friends. The trio got along well and the they were talented athletes as well, the trio often combining on various school sports teams to make a potent line. But where Lilly had a passion for the Olympics and spent so much of her time training, the Heath's had a different passion. They were country girls, through and through. They loved farming and ranching and looked forward to the day that they would take over for their families.

Still though, they were easy going and straight shooters. They did not play much of the usual teenage social games, which is a big part of how their friendship with Lilly began in the first place. They were still teen girls, to be sure, but generally could separate the truth from fiction among the Shelly High rumor mill. Still though, Lilly had wanted to be care about what she said in her attempt to warn Lori off of Jason, because some of it was simply not her place to say and other things could easily hit the ear wrong and by the end of the day the rumor mill would have had its way with it. 

Regardless, as they ate and spoke Lilly looked over to the usual 'fellowship' table, and noted how crowded it was with new people. She made eye contact with Lona and gave her an upwards nod in the usual 'What's up?" gesture of acknowledgement before looking at the new arrivals; Kyle Everson and.. Beth Seaberry? She knew Kyle was good friends with Charlie, but wasn't sure about Beth.

"What did happen at the game Friday night? You looked off at the start of it. Just rust?" Lori asked, bringing Lilly's focus back to the conversation at hand.

"Hm? Oh, yeah. That was my bad. I just didn't have my head in the game to start. You know, just some personal stuff." Lilly said, somewhat blowing off the question.

"Anything we should know about?" Lacey asked with a grin as she leaned forward, resting her elbows on the table.

"Nah. Just discovered that something was not how it thought it was. It's no big now though. I think I am figuring stuff out." she dismissed with a shrug and a smile.

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Sean nudged Sara with an elbow forgetting that he could just tell her, < Lilly is at the table by the windows you want to bring her in? if you can?>

Sara looked over, saw Lilly, concentrated, <Hey Lilly, we are all net worked so we can talk without having to confuse the non shiners or talk around things.>

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Lilly's eye widened and then blinked several times at the sudden intrusion into her mind, a reaction which did not go unnoticed by the Heaths.

< What the... >

"You okay?" Lacey asked with a faint mixture of confusion and concern.

"Huh? Oh! Yeah. I Some thing finally made sense is all. No big." Lilly replied, shrugging it off.

< This is.. weird. So what's so important that we have to talk about it right now? What happened? > Lilly mentally asked.

<It seems the Dark might be making moves, trying to test and provoke us, working through others. Several of us have already had incidents this morning so be mindful if something happens to you, if it has not already.> Jase answered.

"Like what?" Lori asked her friend.

"Kinda hard to explain. Just been thinking about my life and things and figuring out where I want to go. Like, I started training to be an Olympian years ago, but I never stopped and asked if it is what I still want. I was, like, kinda just on autopilot or whatever with my training and stuff. But now that I look at it today, I kinda see differently." Lilly explained.

< Seriously? Hmm. I thought something like this might happen. It probing us just makes sense. Trying to feel us out and search for weaknesses. >

"Whoa. Seriously?" Lori asked in surprise. For as long as she had and her cousin had known Lilly, she had one goal. The Olympics.

"Yeah. I mean, looking at it from a step back, it's like, I dunno, how well would it provide for my future and stuff?" she answered and then shrugged. "You know, adult stuff." she added with a grin.

< Hey. You guys said when you were out of town for the car auction that you saw some arrowheads or whatever infused with shine, right? Has anybody turned up in their research anything about possible others like us in the past who fought back or resisted the Dark? I mean, if those things were infused with shine, then that would seem to be the case. Maybe we can learn from then or what they did if we can find stuff about them. Stuff might stand out to us now that we know what to look for, than anybody else might miss or blow off. >

"So what are thinking about doing then?" the Heaths asked in near unison.

"I dunno. Maybe I could be the first woman in the NFL.Or maybe instead of representing my country in the Olympics, I might instead serve it. Lots of doors are opening for women in the military now. I dunno. still figuring it out, you know? I dunno. Still figuring it out." Lilly contemplated aloud.

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 Cass and Bannon went over again with the speed of thought the outline of what Cass believed should be investigated and after everyone agreed once again, they concentrated on socializing and finishing breakfast. Soon the bell rang, and the Fellowship went their separates ways to various classes…

 

Spoiler

The following do not take place in any given order and indeed happen throughout the day. have fun this is what chasing rainbows is all about.

 

Bannon

Second period and Jason had just started to relax, this was a no pressure class for him and well his mother wasn’t here. But when the knock at the door sounded, he instinctively knew it was going to be about him.

The teacher and the office aid conferred, and Jason was called to the office.

Jason entered the office to find the principle and a man Jason had yet o meet but already knew, Doctor Cook.

“Jason,” the principle said, “this is Dr. Cook from the hospital, he needs to talk with you urgently. Doctor you can use my office, I have a couple of errands to run.” And just like that Jason was alone with The Doctor.

They went into the principles office and The Doctor took a small cube about three inches to a side and set it on the desk and pressed a slight recess on top.

“There we can speak freely with out worrying about bugs. I assume the girls told you who I am, right Jason?”

“Yes sir.”

“Good I think we have a lot to talk about, such as what you were doing outside Liam Days house late Friday night while he was being…traumatized?”

 

Cass

The Av classroom was relatively quiet the few students in the class concentrating on their own projects while Mr Klent was sitting at his own desk staring at his PC and occasionally laughing while typing furiously.

Cass was researching not for the paper but for clues when the phone on her desk vibrated, her hand shot out and lifted it off the desk while her eyes glanced around to see if anyone noticed, then she looked at the text. At first she was surprised then suspicious first Beth this morning and wow, Dylan Cooper.

//Heyya Cassy, been a few. Look knowthings been off wit us for a while but we need to talk..//

 

Charlie

Class had been started and the other kids given a sketch assignment and put into groups, but Mr Abraham had called both him and Andy Berk up to his desk.

“So back at the fair I asked you too to come up with a idea for Fall musical,” He sits on the corner of his desk and gleefully rubs his hands together, “So, boys, amaze me.”

Berk and Charlie exchange glances.

As Charlie opens his mouth the speak Berk barges on ahead. “I though we should do something that’s never been done on stage before anywhere. I think we should do  ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’.”

Abrahams eyes go wide as Berk carries on, “It has been a motion picture of course, and Disney put on some concerts but never a real stage show. I think we have the talent, both for on stage and behind. Mr Abraham, with you directing it can’t miss.”

He smugly looks at Charlie.

 

Cade

Cade was finishing his third lap when he notices several of the other boys had gone to the fence line which separate the school grounds from the empty fields bordering it that belonged to the county. The kids were looking at something in the field and one of them a sophomore named Alec picked up a handful of small rocks and climbed onto the fence where he could throw them at something on the other side.

Cade curious jogged over and Will Becket made room for his and pointed at what they where looking at. “See that little hollow they think the saw a mountain lion in there. But I didn’t see anything,” he said.

Alec looked back at the two older boys, “It’s there you can just make out the to of it head but it either hurt real bad or dead. I hit it at least twice.” With that said Alec lens over and throws another rock which hits the lip of the hollow Will had pointed out.

Cade hears the weak low growl and is sure that no one else can hear it.

 

Avalon

It was getting harder and harder to get away for a damn smoke. Avalon took a deep pull on the cigarette, wishing it were something stronger, which made her think of Bannon. Her peace was shattered by a harsh voice from the corner of the building.

“Hey punk,” it was Tammy Keller, “you and your, whatever the fuck she is, Clara, better mind your own business from now on or you’ll end up getting the same as the fucking thief. And believe me you don’t want any of that.” She come up a few feet away from Lona, “This is your only warning, and you’re only getting that because I like you. But you should sing shit that matches your look not that pussy country shit.’ She stepped a little closer, her eyes roaming up and down Lona’s body, “yeah I kind of like you a lot.”

Spoiler

Tammy Keller  Tammy.jpg

Sean

Sean had been uncomfortable most of the day a lot of little things were nagging at the back of his mind. When study hall came along, he decided to skip and go out to the shop and check on his jeep.

As he crossed the parking lot, he passed a couple of guys who were filling the diesel tank which ran the school’s

generators if the power went out, which it usually did during the harsh winter. Both were roughnecks in the early twenties he guessed but he didn’t know either one although one of them he though he had seen in a picture somewhere, so he was probably a former student.

As he passed a low whistle came from the one he had never seen before followed by some lewd comments. Sean ignored them but did see they guy who picture he had seen patting the catcallers arm and leaning in to tell him something. Sean didn’t have to hear it to know what it was.

“You have got to be fucking kidding me,” came from the first guy, that has a dick?”

Sean felt his cheeks go red.

 

Clara

Sara leaned over and put herself into Clara’s field of vision. This was one of the few required classes Sara had to take and surprise surprise she shared it with Clara Wright and Jason Bannon.

<He doesn’t have to know.>

Clara looked up in surprise. This whole telepathy thing was going o take some getting used too. <Who? And know what?>

Bannon looked over and saw the two girls glancing at each other which meant they were probably mind speaking. He reached out with his mind and tapped Sara’s shoulder. She looked back at him and he raised his eyebrows.

<Etteinne. I’m bringing Bannon in.> With a  though she brought Bannon up to speed. <The interrogation, he doesn’t have to know I can read him he doesn’t have to let me. And if I can’t that’s another sign he isn’t telling us the truth.>

 

Lilly

Everything was going so fast. Moving far beyond what she, or any of them for that matter, were ready for. Lori Likes Bannon and she’s one of my best friends

“Hey Lills.”  Only a couple of the guys from the team called her that and she gave the big bear who was coming toward her a smile. Will Beckett was one of the first guys to throw his support behind her when she went out for the team last year. He was one of the good guys.

“Hey, Will, what’s up?”

He had some color in his cheeks “Look I know its early and all but Homecoming is the 20th and I wanted to get my hat in the ring. Would you care to go with me to the dance on Homecoming?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Principal's Office

Doctor Cook had studied all the 'activated' students.  He knew some of them personally, others had always been distant figures about whom he still had a certain amount of knowledge - at least so far as their genealogy, medical conditions, genetic markers, and observed powers.  This was, to his knowledge, the first time he'd ever met Jason Bannon face to face.  The boy didn't freeze or hesitate, nor even blink when Cook dropped his 'I know what you did' line.  Instead he took a seat unbidden, sitting down across from the Doctor with a calm expression on his face, glacial green eyes studying the older man as he leaned back with a slouch that was almost insolently casual, especially for a youth who should be nervous. 

"The mere fact you're raising that topic in that way implies that you already think you know and want to see me squirm."  Jason shrugged, his eyes narrowing as they focused on Cook.  His lips curved in a slight smile under eyes that gave away nothing other than interest.  "Sorry to disappoint you, doctor.  Liam's unfortunate status and how it came about means less than nothing to me."  A slender hand flicked the matter aside as unworthy of consideration. 

"But I've wanted to meet you too, sir, and I would hate to do you the discourtesy of leaving empty-handed.  Perhaps a better topic of discussion would be 'You told the girls you wanted to be an ally.  Were you genuine, or are you merely a shepherd wanting to fleece his flock?'"

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Principal's Office

Cook smiles and crosses his arms "No really I would like to know what you were doing there. I have video from several angles but nothing that shows the interior. And why would I want to watch you squirm?" He shakes his head. "I know I have made some missteps especially with Wrights but that is behind us and all I want to do is to look to the future."

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Principal's Office

Jason sighed, considering the Doctor.  "Here is the issue, Doctor. It is one of trust.  Right now, there is no evidence that I did anything at all.  You have some video footage of Liam Day throwing himself out of a window, and me in the vicinity, and that is all.  You are, in effect, asking me to confess to something.  Sure, we're not being monitored - except by anything you choose to monitor this conversation with - but let's just say I don't know you, sir.  I have no reason to open up to you, or trust you.  Surely, as a man of logic, reason and science, you can appreciate that."  He let that hang in the air for a moment.

"But...  I am interested in your project.  What you have found out, what you have accomplished."  He met Cook's eyes unwaveringly.  "Tentatively, we can open up this relationship with a little quid pro quo.  You want my cooperation, I want yours.  Let's see... What is an appropriate small gesture of trust...?  Ah.  Yes."  He pondered for a moment, then smiled.

"I want to know why my mother is in Shelly.  I don't believe in coincidences, so seeing her here, teaching... You can understand that I am suspicious.  If you do not know, and that is a surprise to you too, then I'll expect you to use your resources to find out."  Jason shrugged.  "Provide that information, and I will talk about Friday night."

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Mr. Abraham's Desk

Suck up. Charlie knew by now that Clara considered Andrew Berk a rival for accomplishments. Charlie could have told her that he was indeed a Berk. This overachiever and Charlie butted heads because someone had to be the primo uomo, the first man of the stage at Shelly. And it irked Charlie that a part-time dilettante would presume to take that role. Yes, grudgingly Charlie acknowledged Berk had talent.

But jack of all trades meant master of none, and Charlie aimed to remind Berk of that.

"My proposal is Labyrinth." Charlie explained. "Like Nightmare, it's never been adapted to stage, and it's a classic hit. However, this one allows us to incorporate the elementary school students - which will really pull in the families as a result. And unlike Nightmare it'll be a lot more family friendly. Kidnapping Santa? All those toys rampaging and attacking people? What happens to Oogie Boogie at the end? The parents might be a bit uncomfortable with the younger kids seeing that."

Charlie looked back at Andrew with a totally unsmug face.

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US History Class

<That seems like a slippery slope, to just look into someone's mind without their permission.> Clara frowned down at her book, ignoring the drone of the teacher as they lectured on role of Lafayette in the Revolutionary War and the formation of the United States. <On the other hand, if Etienne doesn't know what you can do yet, it's probably a good idea to keep quiet on that until after we know if he can actually be trusted.>

She sighed across the link. <How close do you need to be? Do we need to get him thinking about the things we want to check, or can you just rifle through his knowledge like a card catalog?> She shot Sara and Jase both a small smile, <Y'know, it's a good thing I don't have this ability. I think I'd be too tempted to use it all the time just have some clue as to why people act the way they do. And to never have to text again or decipher emojis.> 

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US History Class

 

<I imagine that the situation warrants a mental wiretap without his knowledge.>  Jason suggested in his clinical mental voice.  <Slippery slope is a logical fallacy that emotionally distracts from the matter at hand by suggesting that a course of action will inevitably lead to abuses of the method.  It ignores that every situation is and should be treated individually, instead positing a universal set of 'rules' that have to be followed blindly to the conclusion.  'Allow gays to marry, and it gives the green light to pedophiles and zoophiles'.>  A sensation of wry amusement came over the mental link.  <Naturally, I think it's bullshit.  Just because we are using Sara's gift to ensure Etienne can be trusted does not mean we will then go rummaging around the prinicipal's mind for his private kinks.>

<Yes, but if you decided there was a need to discover the principal's kinks, you wouldn't think twice.>  Clara's mental tone was amused. Jase's lips twitched in a smile as he appeared to study his textbook.

<Probably not.  But that would be a separate instance of me wanting to gain blackmail leverage, not a natural continuation of interrogating Etienne.>

<Alright, so how do we do this?>  Sara's mental voice was straightforward and brusque as she brought the two geniuses back from their exploration of the ethical qualms of mindreading - or in Jason's case: the lack of them.

<Clara is the Good Cop - she will appeal to his better emotions.  I will be the Bad Cop - he probably knows enough to be wary of making sudden moves or risking pissing me off.  You will be the strong silent polygraph in the background.  You can draw on a link with Clara to give you a boost if you need it.>  Jase advised, all business now.  <Clara does most of the talking to him.  Tell him that we need to be able to trust whether or not he's genuine about wanting to help - that's not a lie.  Just have the conversation you would normally have.  Ask him what he knows about Cook's project, whether he knows about the surveillance, where the headquarters is... What else he was doing other than spying on the Wrights, if anything?  Sara, if he lies - you don't hint that you know he's lying, not even to us, until the conversation is over.  Then you give us the report, let us know what he was lying about, and we decide where to go from there.  We don't want to let him know we can read him until we know we can trust him.>  

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Parking Lot

Among other things today so far, it had taken considerable effort for Sean to resist tapping into Marissa's phone and surreptitiously enabling its speakers to listen in to what Ms. Forster had to say to her. Just opening himself up to the idea, he'd opened himself up to the barrage of zipping fireflies that represented texts, snaps, status updates, and other transmissions spit out by the plethora of electronic devices among the student body. And despite his best intentions, he couldn't stop seeing what some of them were.

Nothing overly salacious or private this time, at least. Still, he'd been distracted during his last class. He forced that sense down, replacing it with reaching out for his drone in the back of his car out of idle curiosity, so hadn't been paying attention to his surroundings as much as he should have been, especially with The Dark apparently being more aggressive lately.

The whistle and lewd comments weren't uncommon, though unusual at school, but the unquiet comment about 'that has a dick?' was rare to hear in Shelly, where most people knew him, or at least of him. Even outside of Shelly, it was rare to hear, unless he revealed his condition - most of the comments he heard were directed at an over-endowed, young woman. His face reddened in embarrassment and annoyance now.

It was easy to blame the Dark, but he'd been subjected to people like this guy for years. He had been ignoring them, he should have continued ignoring them, but he couldn't just let the last comment go.

"'He'," Sean called back coolly, turning his head to glance at them as he continued to the shop, resolutely keeping to the same pace. "I'll accept 'they' too, if 'he' is too hard to wrap your brain around."

"What?" the man said in a rough growl, taking any attention he had on the diesel tank to direct it all at Sean, dark brows knitting. The other guy - Patrick Welker Sean's mental files told him, he'd been in the baseball team, and had asked Teagan out once, who had turned him down - fumbled a bit, taking up the sudden slack his colleague left him.

"I'm not a 'that' or an 'it'," Sean clarified, keeping his voice cool and calm, not confrontational. "I prefer 'he' and 'him', but I'm fine with 'they' and 'them', if you must. Sorry 'bout ruining your casual harassment of what you took to be a high school girl." He gave Patrick a tight, bitter grin. "Couldn't leave him in the dark, Patrick, huh?"

Sean really didn't think they had anything to do with the Dark, but better safe than sorry. He opened himself to the Shine, to see if he could sense any of the Dark's influence on them or in the area, as well as circumspectly shifting into view of any of Dr. Cook's surveillance he could determine. He had to have something overseeing the Shop room.

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Over the Fence

 

"First, don't throw things at animals like that.  If it really was a mountain lion, and it was in good health, all you'd have done was piss it off, and give it a reason to attack.  It could be sick enough to actually do it, and trust me, not even I am fast enough to outrun one that wants to catch me."

Abel sighed.  He was going to do something dumb.  He went back to the field and took one of the shorter practice Javelins, and returned, tossing it over the fence.  "Cade what the hell are you doing?"  

 

"I'm going to go find out what it actually is.  Could just be a hurt dog or something."  The two just looked at him  "Didn't you just warn us about.."  

Cade nodded.  "Yeah, I did, but If you hit it in the head and really hurt it, I'll go make sure it doesn't suffer.  I don't like seeing things hurt just for the hell of it.  Don't do that anymore."   It was known Cade was an outdoorsman, he hunted and fished, and only aimed at animals he planned to kill and eat.  He was known to be an animal lover outside of that, having a dog, and a ferret as pets.  

He quickly scaled the fence and went over the top  "If the coach asks, I'm going to get the Javelin.  I'll be back in abit."

Alec and Will, abit chagrinned after the dressing-down from Cade, nodded, and turned to each other.  "Did he really basically just hop the fence?"  "Dude's a monster.   You heard about the runs he this past weekend right?  Set school records in every event, it's like something switched on in him, and he just cut loose."   "IT's pretty sick, we won't lose a meet this year if he keeps this up."  The two went back to the main part of the track, and said nothing about the wayward athletic star.

On the other side of the Fence, Cade moved to where he'd heard the growl, short Javelin in hand.  He moved closer, on guard, aware that what he was doing was dumb, as he knew whatever was here wasn't dead.  Still he wasn't just going to let it suffer.

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21 hours ago, WS ST said:

Lilly

Everything was going so fast. Moving far beyond what she, or any of them for that matter, were ready for. Lori Likes Bannon and she’s one of my best friends

“Hey Lills.”  Only a couple of the guys from the team called her that and she gave the big bear who was coming toward her a smile. Will Beckett was one of the first guys to throw his support behind her when she went out for the team last year. He was one of the good guys.

“Hey, Will, what’s up?”

He had some color in his cheeks “Look I know its early and all but Homecoming is the 20th and I wanted to get my hat in the ring. Would you care to go with me to the dance on Homecoming?”

"Your hat in the ring?" Lilly asked, her smile fading and eyes narrowing as she folded her arms beneath her breasts.

"Seriously? 'Hat in the ring' like I am some prize to be won or something?" she asked, which caused Will to pause, his eyes widening in a bit as he feared he had made a terrible misstep with her.

Lilly's smile returned and she let out a laugh, which only confused Will even more as she shook her head, still chuckling.

"Dude. I'm just messing with you." she said with a mirthful smile as she extended a fist which put Will somewhat cautiously at ease, bringing a slightly nervous smile to his face as he returned the fist bump..

"Damnit Lilly." he laughed, shaking his head and finally relaxing.

"Seriously though, I'd love to go to the Homecoming dance with you." she said sincerely to her friend, teammate and on-field protector with a warm smile.

"Just do me a favor and wait a few weeks to tell anybody." she asked.

"Wait. What?" he asked, somewhat confused and even crestfallen.

"Dude. It's not like that." she assured. "I'm not embarrassed or anything about going to the dance with you. I just don't need weeks of 'my hands between your legs' jokes if we are going to the dance because, you know, I'm QB and you are the Center." she said with a chuckle.

"Ohhhhh. Okay." Will laughed, "I get it." he added, his smile returning.

"Okay then. Cool. I look forward to it." she said as she tucked a few strands of hair behind her ear. "I got to get to Physics." she added, pointing down the hall with a thumb over her shoulder.

"Cool. See you in Civics." Will said with a smile on his face as he nodded and turned, walking down the hall with a smile on his face.

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//Heyya Cassy, been a few. Look knowthings been off wit us for a while but we need to talk..//

Cassandra was starting to text //you mean YOU need to talk...// when she stopped herself. Dylan didn't deserve that. It wasn't his fault that this was a really bad time. First Beth, now Dylan though? With Beth she could at least understand...she HAD been wrapped up in all this for weeks now, hardly coming up for air. But there was no expectation of contact with Dylan. They'd broken up. That's what that meant.

//hey dyl whats up?// she texted back. //kinda busy these days but i can talk...everything ok?//

As she waited for the reply, Cassie got up and went over to grab the hall pass, then left the classroom as if just heading to the bathroom. Hopefully this wouldn't take too long.

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Lona frowned at Tammy, irritated that this was interrupting her rare moment of peace. “Don’t know what you’re talking about,” she mumbled around her cigarette as she eyed the other girl. “Also, I sing what I want, but if you would like to make a request, feel free to submit on to the round file.”

She gave Tammy her own once-over and added, “Also-also, while I dig girls, I don’t date bitches, so byyyyeeeee.” She waved Tammy away.

It occurred to her the second after she finished speaking that she was being less than diplomatic. Fuck it. She was rude first.

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Lona

Tammy blinked a couple of times and stepped back her brow furrowed and she looked left and right as if making sure no one else had seen or heard them talking.

“Yeah, well, you have been warned.”

Then with a spin and a stumble she took off toward the corner of the building not quite at a run. Lonna heard the word ‘Cunt’ as she disappeared around the corner.

Lona took a puff from her cigarette and really wished it were something else.

 

Cade

Cade approached hollow slowly, when he was about three yards away, he heard a low growl. Two ears poked up over the edge of the depression and a second later the face of a cat with large green eyes.

 It didn’t look like a mountain lion, but it was much larger than a normal cat or even a bob cat. It watched Cade warily but made no move to flee which made him believe that it was injured.

Cade continued his approach calmly and as non-threateningly as he could making soothing noises. The cats head followed him the whole way.

At about a yard away Cade could see the whole animal lying in the depression its fur was matted and there was blood on it’s hind quarters. The cat’s rear legs were broken, Cade thought that it might have been hit by a car on the highway and crawled to here before its strength gave out.

Spoiler

beautiful-stylish-purebred-cat-animal-260nw-204152377.jpg

Cass

//I don’t want to do this texting. Can we meet?//

Cass frowned

//Are you in class?// 

She texted back

//No I skipped. You pick a time and place. Its important//

 

Sean

Sean looked at the two and opened his senses like they had done at the museum, but all he could see was the same psi glow all the other people seemed to have.

As for surveillance, there was plenty of that both in and around the shop and the rest of the school.

The older guy cursed which brought Sean back to the reality of the situation and he noticed that the guy had taken a couple of steps toward him but that Patrick had grabbed his arm and pulled him back.

“We got work to do man, don’t waste time on a kid.”

The two men went back to work and Sean continued to the shop where he found his jeep up in the air with its wheels removed but no one was working on it and he didn’t see Sara anywhere.

 

Clara, Bannon, Sara

Sara had seemed to wall up when Clara made the slippery slope metaphor. In truth it hit home a bit close at something she herself had been struggling with.

What was the ethical and moral implications of her power, any of their powers? The powers regardless of how they came to be were a part of them, and as far as they were concerned, a natural part of them. Did the normal morals and ethics apply to them at all anymore?

<The Slippery slope thing is for another discussion which we should probably have soon, with everyone, but for now. We can handle the interrogation in whatever way you want Clara, but just so you know I don’t any of the subterfuge or the theatrics, I just need to be able to see him and know generally what we are looking for>

 

Charlie

Andrew seemed to deflate a little and looked at Mr Abraham who was thinking deeply and nodding.

“Both are good suggestions and a vary fine challenge. Nightmare is seasonal but Charlie does bring up a few points and Labyrinth, is int really a musical but I do like the idea of incorporating the underclassmen.

I’ll see about acquiring the screenplays. Now which ever way we go I trust you two will have no problem working with each other, Hmm?”

 

Lilly

Lilly headed to Physics class a smile on her face, as she turned into the hall her phone vibrated, someone was texting her. She stopped and dug the phone and looked to see who it was.

Unknown Number

Probably a robo-call she flick it to standby and started to slip it back into her pocket when it vibrated again.

Unknown Number

As she looked it vibrated again

Unknown Number

This time she opened the text to see who was spamming her

//Will Beckett?// (1st Text)

//Hands between your legs// (2nd text)

//You can do better// (3rd Text)

 

 

 

 

 

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Principles office

“Your mother? I thought your mother was dead and you lived with your father?”

Cook looked slightly confused and pulled his Iphone out of his pocket and started swiping.

“Ah sorry parents Divorced," he said as he read a file, " mother not in the picture. That’s all I have in your file Jason. But yeah Ok I’ll see what I can find out you say she’s a teacher her now. What’s her name?

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Principal's Office

Bannon didn't lose his expression of cool guarded skepticism, considering Doctor Cook and weighing whether or not the adult was playing a game.  Right now, it didn't matter so much if Cook was lying about his mother - this was just the initial play, a litmus test to establish whether the man would at least appear to cooperate.  If Cook was genuine, then it meant he didn't know everything about his test subjects.  If not, then it would come out later, and Jason would proceed accordingly.  Either way, Cook's honesty right now was not the most important thing.

"Kaitlin Forster.  Blonde, blue eyes, 5'6", roughly 110lbs at a guess.  She's currently covering Biology as a substitute for Mr Carson."  Cook blinked at the lanky teen across from him, then punched the information into his phone and sent the message before setting the phone to one side. Jason glanced at it, then at the Doctor.  "As a show of good faith, I will go first, as that might take a few minutes."  he shrugged.

"I used my gift to bodily hurl Liam Day around his kitchen, causing multiple injuries.   I wasn't sure I was capable of it until I did it, and in my mind he warranted punishment for what he did."

"Ah, yes.  I recall hearing about an attempted attack on another teen?"  Cook probed, noting the relaxed posture and manner of the boy.

"Attempted rape."  Jason said with only a fraction of emphasis on the second word.  "Yes.  Against a friend of mine."

"You could have killed him. Was that your intent?"  Cook asked curiously.  Jason shook his head.

"The injuries were designed to cripple painfully, not kill.  With a top notch medical facility nearby, he will live."  he said with an almost clinical casualness.  "If I had wanted to kill him, he would have been found dead, not alive.  Or not found at all."

"And why didn't you want to kill him?"  Cook inquired, filing away the boy's attitude.  "Don't get me wrong, I applaud your restraint - but he tried to rape a friend of yours."

"And if he had succeeded, the outcome would have been different."  Jason's voice was cold wind off a mountaintop.  "I took into account the fact that my friend would not want him killed."  Jason paused, frowning.  "I did not take into account the fact that she didn't want him hurt either.  That was surprising."  He appeared to consider for a second, then shrugged.

"She knew you did it?"  Cook asked, then answered himself.  "Of course. Who else could have done it, or would have?"  He peered at Jason.  "And how are your friends taking this?"

"How do you think?"  Jason snorted, a trace of bitterness entering his voice.  "Most of them haven't even talked directly to me about it.  They're all treating me either like I'm a bomb about to go off or an abusive drunk parent.  The ones that have addressed it are either morally grandstanding or willfully naive - possibly both."

"That sounds like it might be tough."  Cook noted agreeably.

"After all I've done for them, it sucks."  Jason seemed frustrated, gesturing with his hands.  "I step up and risk my life against monsters, stand between them and death, work to make sure we're understanding our gifts.  I invite them into my personal sanctum, my private space.  I punish those who would violate or take from them.  I trust them by letting them closer than anyone else has ever gotten.  My reward?  Petty ingratitude and fear."  He let his head fall back and stared at the ceiling as if lost and seeking answers.

"Everything I've done to try and bond, and I feel more isolated than ever." he said quietly.

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Over the Fence

 

Cade's initial response was to try and bring the cat to a vet.   However the fact he couldn't identify it, so he didn't know if a vet would even help in this situation.   However, there was someone he knew who could probably help.   
 

"Easy buddy, I'm gonna get you some help, just stay put, and be calm."  He spoke calmly, crouching down, staying very aware, just in case.

<Hey Lona, are you really busy, I could use your help.>   He sent out to the one person he knew might be able to help the animal immediately.  <I''m in a small hollow over the fence from the track and field.  I've got a strange cat, about the size of a german shepherd, its back legs are broken, like it got hit by a truck and crawled her.   Two idiots were chucking rocks at it from the field.   Is there any way you can come out here and see if you can do anything for it?>  

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58 minutes ago, WS ST said:

Lilly

Lilly headed to Physics class a smile on her face, as she turned into the hall her phone vibrated, someone was texting her. She stopped and dug the phone and looked to see who it was.

Unknown Number

Probably a robo-call she flick it to standby and started to slip it back into her pocket when it vibrated again.

Unknown Number

As she looked it vibrated again

Unknown Number

This time she opened the text to see who was spamming her

//Will Beckett?// (1st Text)

//Hands between your legs// (2nd text)

//You can do better// (3rd Text)

Lilly looked at the texts for a moment and then looked up and around her, checking to see if anybody seemed to be paying particular attention before looking back down at her phone. She was confident that nobody had been eavesdropping, so what the hell was this then?

//Oh rly? Who dis?// she texted back and then went into her contact list searching out a name.

// Hey. I'm getting creepy texts from unknown # now too // she sent to Lona.

 

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US History

<I could suggest a run and dinner at Bunnee's. That way you guys being there wouldn't be weird and it would get you in range. Otherwise I think the only other place that would work would be at my house. I don't know your range, Sara, but if we don't want him wondering why you guys are there, either you'd need to be hiding or in the main house. That seems awkward and more complicated. Running and Bunnee's afterward is something we did over the summer pretty regularly.>

Her pen was tapping her book rhythmically as she kept ignoring the teacher in favor of important things. <On ethics, yeah, we should talk I guess? Everyone's going to have different issues to consider with the different things we can do, though. Even staying away from us knowingly breaking laws. There's all the stuff that there isn't laws for, too. I don't know if a group discussion is going to help or hinder just because so much of it is personal. And a group discussion can descend into a lot of "you musts" from people and others saying effectively "you can't make me". Which is true.>

She sighed across the link. <So, Bunnee's tonight, if people are free? Or some other day?>

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Mr. Abraham's Desk

"Of course." Charlie agreed, smiling sweetly, echoed by Andrew just moments later. Mr. Abraham gave them a knowing look, then accepted their rivalry would not get in the way of their professionalism regardless of the outcome. "Good. I'll get back to you with the answer in a few days. Have some free time. I suggest you use it to prepare for both options."

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Cassandra frowned. Skipped class. That sounded like Dylan all right.

She texted back, //my class is over in fifteen, meet me there when it lets out...av room//.

On her way back to the room she got his reply; a simple 'k.' By the time she got inside and replaced the hall pass and sat down, Cass was trying to piece it all together in her head. Was this the 'dark,' trying to get to her through her friends? It didn't feel...aggressive enough? The other Fellows reported having some fairly harrowing experiences sometimes. Having a friend feel like you were neglecting her when you were, in fact, guilty of neglecting her was not all that harrowing? And Dylan's texts did sound a little wound up, but he didn't seem mad or anything. Just kinda...in a rush.

Which was a little out of character for Mister Chill. But not scary out of character.

By the time the bell rang, Cass was actually very curious to hear what was going on. A lot would be determined on if he'd actually bothered to show up. She gave it even odds.

But he beat them. When she pushed  through the door with the crowd, she spotted him standing there across the hallway almost immediately. He looked pretty much exactly as she remembered him...like a sixteen year old determined to stay a thirteen year old. His expression though...that was new. Dylan looked like he was really anxious.

"Hey," she said, going over so they didn't have to yell over the clamor. "What's wrong?"

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Outside

“I’ve been warned. Fucking great.” Lona muttered to herself as she stubbed out the remaining cigarette and headed back for the doors to go inside the building. She was almost there when she received Cade’s request. 

<Sure,> she thought as she changed course, heading around the side of the building. <I can play Dr. Doolittle.>

<Childhood dream come true,> Clara teased and Lona blushed harder as she started across the field. 

<Hush, bitch,> Lona grumbled to her in faux protest, irritated at how true the statement was. Maybe this Mindlink shit wasn’t the best thing in the world after all.

On the way to Cade, her phone buzzed. Lona opened Lilly’s text, read it, and quickly typed out the reply:

// Lucky you. Is it a number or is it gibberish? We should compare at lunch. //

She cleared the fence as she mentally told Clara, <I’m down with confronting Etienne whenever. I’ll clear any event on my calendar for that shit.>

She stopped well back from Cade and the cat, studying it with her life source. “She’s dying,” Lona said sadly, locking eyes with the animal in her total ignorance of how to deal with wild animals. In her green gaze, Lona saw pain and intelligence. “It’s okay,” she murmured and moved forward to sit down next to her. “I’m going to take away the pain.” 

Lona lay a gentle hand on the gray fur, focusing on the easy things first: comfort and relief. The broken creature under her hand slumped a little at the easing of its suffering. Now for the harder part.

Closing her eyes and focusing, Lona drew deeply into her power, pushing it beyond the limits of what came easily to her. The power pulled at her resources, and the strain showed in Lona’s face. “Lona?” Cade asked, but his sexy voice was distant to her, far away from the life under her fingers. Through pure will and desire, Lona dragged the cat away from the edge of death, healing the massive damage and straightening bones. 

After a few seconds, she opened her eyes and leaned back, smiling weakly. “Hey, pretty kitty,” she murmured to the animal. “I think you’ll be alright now.”

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OUTSIDE

The large (size of a German Shepard) cat looked back at its legs and tentatively tried to stand and succeeded.

Cade expected it to run away as fast as it could, not to do what it did next.

The cat looked back at Lona and then Cade then it leaned forward into Lona and put it forelegs around her as if hugging her. it kept contact for only a moment then separated and went over to Cade to repeat the gesture.

It was purring. after hugging them it move about a yard away and sat on its haunches and regarded them. While its eyes stayed on the two youths it's ears twisted back and forth in all directions like radar antenna.

beautiful-stylish-purebred-cat-animal-260nw-204152377.jpg.e9352edd5af4ac2684a171f4fc720c62.jpg

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Lona's pronouncement that the cat was dying made him sad, but he had a feeling that if she were the one to end its suffering, it would be more peaceful than how he'd have been forced to do it.   A part of him berated himself for forcing her into that position though, wanting to take responsibility for it.   Still Cade watched what Lona did intently, and smiled.  

He watched as bone and flesh knit and mended, setting back as it should, and as his friend made this creature whole again.   It was a rare thing that happened next, as Cade wrapped an arm around Lona's shoulders in a one-armed hug before realizing he probably overstepped, and released her.  "You're amazing Lona, thanks so much."   

 

It seemed that he wasn't the only one who wanted to say thanks though, as the over-sized feline hugged her, because he couldn't really call it anything else.   The feline then repeated this with him, even though he'd come with a weapon of sorts.  He felt shame at that, but it was as if it could sense that Cade had never really intended to harm it.   

He could hear it purring, and watched its ears move around, far more than a normal cat's.   "Just where did you come from?"  he asked softly, looking at the cat, mostly just thinking out loud before he looked to Lona..  "I've never seen a cat that looks like this before, have you Lona?"

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Lona jumped a little in surprise when Cade hugged and called her amazing, her cheeks flushing brightly even from the innocent one-armed hug. Six weeks ago, this would have been the best thing to happen to her since the road trip to California last summer (though she would have been way less happy about the trip if she’d realized it was to let her father see the Pacific Ocean as a bucket-list item). However, Cade had a girlfriend and she had a whatever-Devin-was. A talker? Was that what he was? She always thought a relationship with Devin Jauntsen would involve more sex and self-loathing. Life was weird sometimes.

Thankfully, Cade made it short enough that she didn’t get too uncomfortable, and then the cat-thing hugged her, confirming that it wasn’t really an animal. 

“I don’t know,” she said in response to his question. She turned her gaze to the cat. “I don’t know what you are,” she said with a smile. “We haven’t seen anything like you before. Can you talk to us?” Tilting her head to the side, she focused her Shine on the cat and asked, “Are you like us?”

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U.S. History

On 11/1/2019 at 6:15 PM, Clara Lys Wright said:

<I could suggest a run and dinner at Bunnee's. That way you guys being there wouldn't be weird and it would get you in range. Otherwise I think the only other place that would work would be at my house. I don't know your range, Sara, but if we don't want him wondering why you guys are there, either you'd need to be hiding or in the main house. That seems awkward and more complicated. Running and Bunnee's afterward is something we did over the summer pretty regularly.>

Her pen was tapping her book rhythmically as she kept ignoring the teacher in favor of important things. <On ethics, yeah, we should talk I guess? Everyone's going to have different issues to consider with the different things we can do, though. Even staying away from us knowingly breaking laws. There's all the stuff that there isn't laws for, too. I don't know if a group discussion is going to help or hinder just because so much of it is personal. And a group discussion can descend into a lot of "you musts" from people and others saying effectively "you can't make me". Which is true.>

She sighed across the link. <So, Bunnee's tonight, if people are free? Or some other day?>

<Bunnee's tonight suits me.  I have nothing planned.  Let me know the time and I'll be there.>  Jason replied, keeping his thoughts about an ethical discussion to himself.  He determined his own ethical stance, which had everything to do with practical aesthetics and little to do with abstract principles of morality.  Those were interesting to discuss - but hardly relevant to him except as norms to appear to abide by while convenient.  If he saw a need to do something, he would do it and not agonise over it at all.

His part in the discussion over, his mental voice went silent as he went back to half-paying attention to the lesson and mentally designing some improvements for his hothouse.

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Shop Room

Sean put the two men out of mind when he saw his new vehicle up on the lift without any wheels. It made him feel a little anxious, especially when he didn't see anyone working on it, or Sara's unmistakable form anywhere in sight. De-tired, it felt like his Jeep was naked, or had its feet cut off. Silly, yes, but it was his first vehicle and his biggest ever purchase.

Most of the other students were busy on their own projects and shopwork and barely looked up when Sean entered the class. He'd taken a shop class last year, and had helped out several students with fixing or tuning up their computers, building them one, or unlocking their phones. Sean nodded at one he was a little more familiar with, and walked over to Benny Lofton. His real name was Benedict - it was a family name - but even his parents called him Ben or Benny.

"Hey, Benny, have you seen Sara around?" Sean asked, nodding up at the deep green Grand Cherokee. There was maybe a bit more rust and scratches on the undercarriage than he thought. "Just wanted to ask how it was going with my ride."

"You certainly went big with your first, Cassidy," Benny drawled without any trace of innuendo as he stood his wiry frame up and cleaned his hands. He wasn't much taller than Sean and was a gearhead and a gamer foremost. "Sara's at another class, history, I think, but don't worry, it's in good hands. She'll be back after lunch." Benny looked up at the Jeep and blew out a laconic raspberry. "Maybe I should take a look at the auction, see if I can find something decent on the cheap, or a wreck to fix up."

"You'll certainly find plenty of wrecks there," Sean said wryly, picturing a couple that practically already looked like a car-crusher had gotten to them. "But maybe a few turds that can be polished, and a fewer diamonds in the rough. I think I got a zircon at least." Sean gave a small, rueful chuckle. "But I like it, bullet hole and all."

"Bullet hole?"

"Check the tailgate when you get a chance. It was a drug-runner's car that got seized and then impressed into doing alphabet agency work," Sean admitted as he started to turn to leave. "Thanks for the heads up 'bout Sara, Benny, I'll be back later when I get a chance."

"Oh! Wait a sec, Cassidy," Benny said, reaching out a hand, but stopping before touching Sean's shoulder.

"Hmm?"

"I just wanted to ask you something about Annwn," Benny said. "See, I got stuck..."

Sean was pleased to talk about the one game he'd gotten out on Steam and the mobile app stores, but he didn't give Benny any spoilers or direct him to specific easter-eggs and secrets, but did offer him some hints for progress. Then he spent a few minutes talking about his new game he still had on the works, admitting he hit some delays as he decided to rework some stuff and focus a bit more on another subsystem.

"... should be getting a Youtube vid up in a week or two, showing what's going on with it--" Just then Sean's phone chirped rapidly with several missed texts. He glanced at them with raised brows and frown. "Sorry, Benny, thanks for the chat and showing interest in the game, I'll hook you up with a game-key when its done, but I gotta go, and check on something. Later."

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Cass

On 11/1/2019 at 5:19 PM, Cassandra Allen said:

By the time the bell rang, Cass was actually very curious to hear what was going on. A lot would be determined on if he'd actually bothered to show up. She gave it even odds.

But he beat them. When she pushed  through the door with the crowd, she spotted him standing there across the hallway almost immediately. He looked pretty much exactly as she remembered him...like a sixteen year old determined to stay a thirteen year old. His expression though...that was new. Dylan looked like he was really anxious.

"Hey," she said, going over so they didn't have to yell over the clamor. "What's wrong?"

For several seconds stared at the ground before speaking, "Hey," he looked up and after looking at her face, smiled, then his eyes darted around as if looking for something ot someone. He took her by the arm and pulled her over toward the little study cove, where kids usually sat before schoole to finish their homework, Cass resisted but the pleading look he gave her caused her to go along.

"What is this all about Dylan?"

"You look good Cass," he said.

"Dylan," was her sharp reply.

Dylan went to the corner and looked around, "Ever have the feeling your being followed? Look the bells about to ring, you need to get to class. This is important, its about your story. You remember when I turned fourteen and we went to the cement factory and snuck in so we could skate on the truck ramps. You remember when you and me went off by ourselves and found that spot and made out for like an hour. Go there after school, I won't be there but what I want to tell you will be."

Dylan leaned in fast gave her a fleeting kiss and turned away and before Cass could say anything was gone into the flow of the hall then the bell calling kids to class rang.

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Lunchroom

Near the end of Lunch

Cass, Cade, Charlie and Tawney made their way into the lunchroom and straight to the serving line since while being the first of the Fellowship they were among the last of the kids arriving for lunch which was half over. After getting their lunces and taking their places at the usual table.

They started with some stilted small talk the just as Tawny opened her mouth to say something the chair next to Charlie scrapped back and Sophia Fingleman plopped into the seat and set her diet coke in front of her. "Hey guys, where's the rest of the nerds?"

A strange question from Sophia someone all of them had known all their lives and was just as much a nerd as the rest of them. The only reason she wasn't in their gaming group was that she ran a group of her own and didn't much like Sean.

Not waiting for any replies she barreled on, "So Charlie i heard we were doing the Labyrinth, what part you got for me," she asked scooting a little closer to the would be Drama King.

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Earlier - Between Classes

The cement factory...it's about the story...

What the mother...what?!

Since when did Dylan of all people care about 'the story?' And the whole, nervous side-eying, phrasing things obliquely like he thought they were being watched thing...what was that?!

So Beth, usually joking around was all morose now. And Dylan, usually chill to a fault was acting like a stressed out whistleblower in a Tom Clancy novel. Was everyone else crazy, or was Cassie, and it just looked to her like everyone else was? Maybe she was the unreliable narrator in this piece of prose?

Or maybe...the others had been talking about how the 'dark' had been hounding them. Was this its way into her life? It seemed kind of...lame? Like, Beth seemed a lot better now, and Dylan was just...Dylan. He'd get over it. He always did.

Of course, he's asking me to go alone to a super secluded place after school that no one knows about besides us.

Cassandra wasn't afraid of Dylan in the least, but if she took that part out, the set up did sound kind of...well, bad. Whatever was waiting there didn't have to be him. It could have gotten to someone, or something else, and was just using Dylan to lure her there. He might not even realize it.

...he hadn't actually specified she should be alone, either. There'd definitely been that kinda vibe going, but he hadn't said it.

Okay then.

The bell did indeed ring, and she hurried off to her next class.

Later - At Lunch

Cassandra was just about to see if someone wanted to come with her to Dylan's 'dead drop' when Sophia butted in. That took her aback for a second. She had no real contact with Sophia...parallel but entirely separate social circle there.

"Are you into the school play now?" she asked out of genuine curiosity. "I didn't know you liked acting."

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Lunchroom

True to his word he'd paid for lunch for those who were with him, and they'd just sat down to eat when Sophia decided to come join them.   Watching her cozy up to Charlie, he smiled.  It was very rare that she came to their table, really only when Sean wasn't there.   "Look who's talking..." was Cade's good-natured reply.  

He dodged the question of where the others were, as frankly he wasn't all that sure on where they'd all gone.

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Lunchroom

Sophia looked at Cassandra and gave her a catty smile, "I wasn't, now I am, got a problem with that?" The she turned her attention back to Charlie, "So, what ya got for me?"

Cade shook his head at the display, women I swear i will never understand. He looked at his watch lunch was almost over then he glanced around the lunchroom and his eyes widened when they fell upon the windows there at the corner was the cat.

A little over  an hour ago in the field

On 11/2/2019 at 9:30 PM, Avalon Wilson said:

She turned her gaze to the cat. “I don’t know what you are,” she said with a smile. “We haven’t seen anything like you before. Can you talk to us?” Tilting her head to the side, she focused her Shine on the cat and asked, “Are you like us?”

The cat turned her head and looked deep into Lona's eyes and Lona's heart skipped a beat, had the animal understood her?

The cat stepped up and around Lona then Cade in turn rubbing on them and purring, then suddenly darted away as both their phones went off. when the checked their phones thay saw that they each had a text from Devin.

When they looked back the cat had vanished.

 

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Lunch Room

"Wait." Charlie finally found the words he was looking for, mouth a little too wet. You might think that having punched his V-card and being a male teenager, Charlie would not have so much surprise and hesitancy about having a girl up in his personal space. But in truth he was caught between the sudden surprise of this massive shift in Sophia Fingleman's behavior, and the very distracting, jutting pressure of her Finglebazongas. 

Hormones were up against logic and the Drama! part of Charlie's brain here. "So Mr. Abraham already picked it?"

"So I hear." Sophia inched in closer. "Well?"

"Ah..." Charlie tried to get his head in order and his eyes at a respectful height. Sophia had apparently decided to open up her shirt. "Well, Labryinth doesn't have a lot of female roles. There's the Junk Lady, the Stepmother..."

"And Sarah. I bet that it, isn't it?" Sophia had already decided apparently on what she had in mind. Charlie wanted to protest at this presumption, to uphold the integrity of drama, but his eyes kept sliding over her massive boobs. Just so he could memorize this bodily setup if he needed to shapeshift into a woman, right? "Maybe you'd be up to the challenge?" It was the best compromise he could offer between the warring sides of his brain, vague enough to let the listener interpret as they pleased.

Was she actually thrusting her chest in his direction?

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Shelly High - Hallways

Sean, Laurie, and Sara, left the storeroom, their shoes whispering over linoleum worn smooth by hundreds of feel, in the search of lunch. Sean wondered if he was in shock, or had just rapidly grown jaded. Hearing about Devin's journey to Another Side, tangling with some other breed of sphincternator and Cass nearly dying just looking at what looked like a cooper bracelet, he was rolling with. It wasn't that he wasn't concerned, he was, but he could accept it, accept that it happened, that stuff like that was just a part of his - of their - lives now. Like how he could acknowledge the school, and most of the town, was wired for surveillance by a super secret government - former government? - project, when he still couldn't believe, for example, someone going nuts and shooting up the school, even with the influence of the Dark waxing.

A bag in hand, Sean munched on some trail mix of nuts and raisins, offering it to Laurie and Sara, as he idly flipped through the surveillance feeds covering the school, another thread of thought mapping out the coverage in a file on his tablet. He planned on detailing Dr. Cook's coverage over the entire town, might as well start at Shelly High - blind spots could always come in handy.

He was getting better at reading transmissions and they didn't distract him as much as he used it. It was kind of liking having picture-in-picture viewing, his 'real' senses not obscured by the signal he was watching or listening to, though it did take some of his attention. He was still amazed at how of the school was under surveillance without it being discovered, even by accident. This was certainly top tier tech, though the audio sucked, if only because of the acoustics and the number of students and staff about.

Lunch was just starting, so Sean didn't see that much that was interesting on Shellyflix, mostly empty classes, students walking through hallways, a few teachers sitting down to eat their own lunch as they marked papers or got ready for their next classes. A pair of students making out in the dark room off of one of the art classrooms. His mouth tightened when he saw Sophie Fingleman striding purposefully towards the cafeteria by a different route. After his growth spurt during summer, he wasn't sure she could still lay sole claim to having the largest boobs in school anymore, and he was surprised the realization didn't disturb or enrage or embarrass him. It just... was. There were much bigger things to worry about now. Once, he and Sophie, along with Kim, had been casually friendly, but that had changed over the last year and half or so.

Sean stopped suddenly in his tracks when he spied who Mrs. Meyer was chatting with in the main office. The door must've been open, because he could only make out one word in three that was being said. His suddenly stop caught Sara and Laurie off guard, and his sister had to shift quickly to avoid bumping into her brother.

"What is it, Sean?" she asked him, seeing the firm expression on finely featured face.

"Just saw someone in the main office who I really want to talk to. That we all really want to," he amended. There had been some general plans before, but Sean didn't want to give up the opportunity when it was right here.

"Who?" Laurie said with the same slight, questioning tilt to her head Sean often did.

"C'mon! You'll see, it looks like he's done talking," Sean said, picking up his pace. Laurie and Sara kept up easily, merely lengthening their stride.

"Dr. Cook," Sara informed Laurie in a low voice behind Sean - she had caught the name and image blaring from Sean's mind.

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

They caught up to him in the hallway leading to the main entrance.

"Dr. Cook, hold up! Do you have a minute?"

James Cook looked over his shoulder and found one of his most noteworthy patients. Behind his red-headed, curvaceous figure stood another red-head, slimmer and four inches taller, sharing familial traits. And behind her, another girl, four inches taller than the previous one, but near twice as wide with muscle.

Cook stopped and turned around, a genial smile on his face. "For you, Sean, of course." He nodded his greetings at Sean's companions. "Laurelei. And Sara Hutchins, is it?" He glanced back at Sean. "Did you reschedule that appointment with Dr. Thayer?"

Sean's grin was a touch bitter. Dr. Cook might claim he always had time for him, but he had spoken to Lona, Lilly, and Clara, in the cafeteria at the start of school, and hadn't even said hello to him. He had even revealed some of the - his - conspiracy to them. Sean couldn't help but feel that as his patient for years, that Dr. Cook should have come to him first, or at least afterward. It was petty and unfair, and Sean couldn't completely dismiss the feeling despite his best efforts.

"I did, but that's not what I want to talk about," Sean said, his tone heated and hard. "I want to talk about the stuff you talked with Lilly, Lona, and Clara about."

"Ah! I see." Dr. Cook didn't seem surprised. His friendly eyes glanced around the hall. "I was wondering when you would come to talk to me about that. Though I'm not sure this is the best place or time."

"Maybe not," Sean admitted, voice firm. "But you're here, and so are we. I think you could make some time for a long time patient."

Sean flicked through the nearby surveillance feeds and found an empty classroom that usually wasn't used the first period after lunch. Sean nodded, and lead Dr. Cook, Laurie, and Sara across the hall and down two doors to the classroom. When they were all inside, he locked the door, then turned to face his doctor. The only doctor who hadn't sees his condition as something to be fixed, an error to be corrected. Was that because it was something he had done? Side effects in the pursuit of psionic activity? Was Jase's psychopathy another side effect? Lilly being a bloody amazon, or was that a different vein of research?

"What did you do to us?" Sean hissed with pleading intensity.

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Lilly watched as the others filed out and then Clara left, clearly upset, only for Marissa to go out after her. Maybe by showing her showing Marissa willingness to move past, well, the past, and come together things had finally made a turn with the Jauntsen twins. Only time would tell.

Lilly walked over the small, metal box that Clara had put the bracelet in and inspected it.

"Huh. That's new." she said and then opened her pack and put the box inside.

Things seemed to be going well, so Lilly decided to press her luck. Maybe it would help with talking to Jase about... things. He was not too hard to find. The bleachers were generally where he was found at lunch if he was not at the table with other others. She could see him at the top of the bleachers, laying back and staring up at the sky rather than his usual reading, which was just slightly unusual. 

Lilly took a breath and exhaled. She was not terribly looking forward to some of what was coming, but like it or not, some thing need to be said, if not resolved.

She walked up the stairs on the side of the bleachers, effortlessly hopping a few steps at a time until she reached the top and walked down the row, finally stopping to sit by his feet, which she patted, getting his attention.

Jase, deep in his thoughts, was surprised by it and lifted his head to look down the length of his long, lanky body to see Lilly sitting by his feet. Her presence intrigued him as he considered that it had actually been days, Friday morning, in fact, since the two of them talked alone. No doubt she would have things to say about what was said that morning, and the events since then. In fact, after the Liam incident, he had been surprised that she hadn't yet even approached him about it.

"Hey." he said with a nod to her, tugging on the cord to remove his earbuds as he pressed 'pause' on his music player with but a thought. "Hey." she replied back simply, her mood a little more subdued than her usual upbeat self. "I wanted to talk to you about a few things, if you have time."

Jase simply nodded, holding his earbuds in his hand, which Lilly glanced down at.

"Seriously. No music or book reading or, I dunno, re-reading a book from memory or whatever. This, or these things, are important. Well, mostly." she said.

Jase considered her for a moment and then tucked to earbuds into a smaller pocket on his bag.

Lilly sighed, ordering her thoughts a bit and then proceeded.

"You know the Heaths? Lori and Lacy? Well, Lori's family's property borders Grainger Road. Lori and her dad were fixing their fence line over the weekends and saw... well.. more heard than saw my truck heading down Grainger Road both days, and seeing as the only thing down Grainger Road is your family far, it wasn't too hard for her to figure where I was going.

So that lead to a few things. The most obvious being that the farm might not be as, I dunno, secure as we thought. People are watching after all. And yeah, we're all friends... mostly... but it does probably look a little unusual for us to be spending that much time at your place suddenly.

Second, Lori and Lacy came to me this morning, thinking that because my truck was spending so much time at you place that... they thought we were going out, and asked if we were to make sure." Lilly sighed. 

"So, like, things seem to at least look a certain way to people, which will only feed the rumor mill. I nixed it though, so there was not doubt.
Because, you know, how could we possibly be going out when I am not supposed to care that much about you?" she added.

Lilly slipped her phone out of her pocket and held it in her hand, looking down at the dormant device.

"And to make things even better, now I am getting creepy, anonymous texts like Lona did, which I assume is the Dark, or Cody as the Dark's pawn, doing it to mess with me or us as a whole. It seems, based on what's happened to pretty much all of us just today and the Man In Black Friday night and his comments to us,, that the Dark is now very aware of us and probing for weaknesses."

He was silent for a long moment, face impassive and his green eyes - shining as they caught the light from the sky - studying her face. She wondered, and not for the first time, what it was like to look out on the world with that chilly, crystalline lack of self-doubt, fear or remorse. Probably lonely, except he didn't feel loneliness, now did he? As smart as Jason was, he likely had full awareness of his isolation, but without the attendant sadness or angst. She'd never thought of it in those terms, but it was low-key horrifying as much as saddening.

"So they heard your truck, but saw nothing." he stated rather than asked, calmly. "They are aware that we - as in the group of us - hang out at my place a lot. There is a possible danger there - they might decide to drop in on us socially. Weighed against that is the fact that if we suddenly stop, they might suspect we have something to hide."

"Right." Lilly nodded. Jason smoothly sat up, folding his long legs Indian fashion as he faced her.

"We should probably not cancel power practice. But look for alternate venues so we can vary where we do it. I know a hidden, out of the way place." he mused, thinking of his lab and the old mining buildings there. "We can discuss it at practice this Sunday, but otherwise cut down the amount of time we spend there" His eyes, which had gone a little distant, focused back on Lilly's lovely features with the clarity of a bird of prey's gaze.

"And the Dark - or their agent - is attempting to torment you too. That makes sense. Test the links, find the weak spots. It's what I would do." he noted, still scrutinizing her. "And why are the Heath girls so curious about your or my love life, or lack of it?"

"Because, if you and I weren't going out, then Lori Heath was hoping you would ask her to the Homecoming dance." Lilly answered.

"I dunno if you have a date for the dance, or if you are even going. If you are going, but don't have a date yet, you should really consider her. I mean, aside from essentially knowing she will say yes, she is cute, and sweet, and funny. " Lilly explained, talking up her friend to Jason.

He shrugged, head tilting slightly as he considered her words. He knew Lori Heath by sight - when the Bannons had first moved into the old Wilson Farm the Heaths had dropped round in a neighbourly way, only to find a withdrawn, haggard man and his quiet boy with the keen, too-steady gaze. Though they hadn't been made unwelcome, they generally left them to themselves after that, existing in a polite distant kind of cordiality. And of course he'd seen her around school, shared classes with her.

"I wasn't planning on going." he said, not unexpectedly. Jason never showed up for dances in previous years, had only bothered showing up for games when his friend had been taking part. He studied Lilly's face intently, trying to find visual cues. "You are her friend. Do you think I should ask her? I'm not exactly..." he searched for the right word. "Typical."

"I.. I can't really answer that. Or rather, I am not one that should really be asked." she said.

"She's one of my best friends and the Heaths were some of the first friends I made here. I know I want her to be happy and have a good time, but I also don't want to see her hurt either."

"I mean hell, we are, or were I though, good friends, and look at what you said to me." she pointed out as she looked down at her bag in  her lap.

"I dunno. I mean, if you could say that and treat me that way, then maybe you and I never really were friends." she said with a shrug, watching a zipper on her back slide back and forth as she tugged on it in each direction.

"But if she is crushing on your or something, then she'd be even more... I dunno, easier for you to hurt, I guess." she explained, looking back up and to Jason.

"So really, the only person who can answer that is you. Only you know how you'll be."

"I did not intend to hurt you." he told her quietly, his voice softening slightly - something Lilly's logic told her was conscious socialization rather than effective empathy. Still, it could be classed as 'cares enough to make an effort'. His brow furrowed in focus. "I was trying to warn you not to expect me to be other than I am, to adjust your thinking so that you did not walk blithely into a thorn-patch thinking it was a clear path." He glanced down at her hands as they fidgeted with her bag's zipper, then back to meet her gaze. In contrast with her restlessness, he was a picture of composure. "If you were not a friend - if I did not care for your well-being - I would not have warned you."

"I see now that it was clumsily and cruelly done. And that is the problem as I see it - with the finer emotions I am so damn clumsy, Lilly. The emotions I do feel strongest are better described as passions - they rage and rampage around inside me, primal monsters seeking what they want with no conscience to cut in and restrain them." He smiled faintly at her. "I wanted to protect you, and I hurt you instead. I wish I had thought more about my words, and maybe examined the sentiment harder too."

"After all, it's not exactly like you're a helpless idiot." his smile teased into a grin at one corner.

"It was a shitty thing to do, or say, dude." she said flatly, holding him accountable even if she might maybe forgive him.

"Especially the day of a game too." she added with a sigh.

"I mean, you tell me that you like me... like, like me, like me, and then tell me something shitty like that? I was like, 'WTF? Was it because we never went on a date? Because if that was the case, then that was kind on you, not me.' or whatever." she pointed out. 

"And you don't get to say who I care about or how much, no matter how well intentioned you may be.

"I care about people, especially my friends. I always have. And that was hard on me when we were moving every few years. I would make friends only to leave them behind. 

Like, you know I still talk to my friends from Germany? Most of them were other American kids on base, but I also met some townies. Some of them are even talking about coming for a visit." 

Lilly sighed.

"Anyways... You, Sean, and the Heaths are among my first and oldest friends here, followed right behind by Cade, Charlie and Lona and some others. I care about you guys and want what's best for you all." she said as she looked at him again.

"I already knew about you when you said that shit Friday morning. You say it was for my protection, but I think you sell yourself short. I mean, yeah, you might not ever be totally 'normal' or whatever, but you can certainly be a lot closer to it. It looks to me like you kinda use your... condition?... as something to hide behind, or a bit of an excuse to not put in the work. It just takes you making the decision and putting the effort."

"And yeah, I think Liam has a grasp on your 'passions' dude. I..." Lilly paused, considering her own feelings on the issue for a moment.

"Honestly, I wanted to beat the hell outta him myself too. And maybe I would have done it if you hadn't. I dunno. I guess I'll never know, but I like to think I wouldn't have. So, like, on a one hand I know where you were coming from and I cannot really blame you...

But on the other hand, there is is a difference between having certain impulses and acting on them. Look, I know Lona's talked to you, but you should know that what you did kinda spooked most everybody. if I had been the one to do it, they would have still been spooked, maybe even more so, but.. I dunno... You left without a word and beat the hell outta Liam. Like, seriously. My mom works at the medical center and told me about it. I mean, fighting monsters is one thing, but I think everybody seeing you do that to him, especially using you Shine to do it, it was just, I dunno, overkill or crossing a line for many, I think." she explained.

"I understand protecting your friends and wanting to hurt somebody that hurt them. I really do. But you have to temper that." she warned.

"I mean, I have wanted to put Devin and Marissa through a wall for stuff they have said done long I ever had my Shine..." she said as she looked down at her hands, "...or whatever the heck I have."

Then a thought struck her. Something said at the bonfire the night before. 

"Huh. Maybe after the bonfire I subconsciously did what you said, and 'defined' myself more or whatever..."

"Possibly." Jason nodded, his expression once more becoming neutral in the wake of what Lilly had had to say. Whatever he thought about her accusation of him hiding behind his condition, or about her lecture on Liam, was shut away behind the impassive mask of his gaze. "I think our gifts are very much defined by our personalities, drives and psyche."

He unfolded his legs, standing and stretching as, distantly, the bell rang signalling the end of lunch. "I'll bear in mind what you said." he told her with a slight smile as he picked up his satchel. "I'm glad you spoke to me about it, and hope you'll consider accepting my apology for Friday morning."

Lilly stood and slung her pack back over her shoulder.

"It's okay. And thanks for coming to the game." she replied, wanting to move past it.

"And Is that an honest, not simply said to placate me, 'I'll bear in mind what you said'? Or is it some 'I'll give it all the consideration it's due' BS?" Lilly asked with an eyebrow slightly raised and the faint hint of a smile on her lips. She knew Jase, and was more or less fluent in 'Jase-Speak'.

"I give everything the consideration it is due." Jason replied with a sly sidelong smile as they walked down the steps. "And I also bear everything in mind that people say. So the answer to your question is 'Yes'."

"Ass." Lilly said with a small grin, giving him a 'playful' elbow to the ribs as the started walking down the bleachers.

"Oh, and WTF with the double standard dude? Like, seriously. I ask Devin a direct question about what he is feeling or thinking, honestly trying to at least start working things out with him, and Clara interrupts, answering for him, for some reason, and you're all mum. Then I, however inadvertently did the same, just trying to support Marissa's idea and contribute and make amends, and you scold me in front of everybody? WTF is up with that? You crushing on Marissa or something?"

 

"Medically impossible." he shrugged, still smiling under unreadable green eyes. "Crushes are chemical bonds that take place in the pre-frontal cortex. Unlike Oxycontin, which also acts on other parts of the brain and is released primarily during sex to help with bonding, the various neurotransmitters for 'crushes' have no target with me. No fear, no crushing, no sadness, no heartbreak."

"As for Saturday - it was an ugly day with ugly emotions flying around distracting everyone, and by the time it got to your slip my patience was paper thin. The earlier thing I let pass, to try and focus on the actual business at hand. When I thought that we were about to lose a contributor because of your slip, my patience disappeared." Jase looked at Lilly as they headed across the playing field. "I did not intend to appear to be playing favorites. If the two events had happened in reverse order, then Clara would have gotten the rebuke, not you."

"Hopefully people are starting to knit a bit better together. Time will tell."

"Well, I am sure it certainly looked to people, and felt and to me, like playing favorites is exactly what you were doing, unintentionally or not."

"I am not responsible for people's perceptions, or their emotional responses." He stated in his calm, inexorable fashion. "People see what they choose to see, and emote accordingly. If you feel you were treated unfairly, then all the logical debate and evidence to the contrary is unlikely to sway you, even if you have to resort to the position that I am lying to you." He cast a sidelong glance at her, unsmiling. "Is that your position?"

"Dude. I didn't call you a liar. I just said that it looked a certain way to people."

"And yeah, you might not have direct control over other peoples' perceptions, which nobody has, but what you say and do can certainly increase and decrease this likelihood of people seeing things a certain way, of even make it crystal clear or remove  other options from consideration. So saying you have no control over how others see things is only partially true,  and also lazy. I know you know better than that, dude. You're too smart not to, regardless of you condition."

"I did not say I had no control over it. I said I was ultimately not responsible for how they choose to process what they perceive." Jason's tone had dropped several degrees in temperature. "I act as I choose to act, speak as I choose to speak. If people have a problem with it, they can take it up with me, as you have. I will then factor that into my next set of choices. But I do not define myself through the eyes or expectations of others."

"Also..." he paused, eyes narrowing. "That is the second time you have implied that I am somehow lazy, or using my condition to hide behind so as to excuse some deficiency of character. I wonder, Lilly. Would you accuse someone in a wheelchair of using their condition to hide behind so they would not have to walk up stairs? Or, and more apt, would you accuse a blind man still learning Braille of using their condition to hide behind so they did not have to read a textbook on nuclear physics?"

Though his voice did not raise, there was a quiet fury to his tone. "I come out from behind my mask. I confide in my friends. I make every effort to try and see the world through the eyes of those I care for despite my condition actually making all of those things hard. It's not perfect: some things I am just not capable of - you can describe a painting to a blind man, and he can build an image on your words, but he will never see the beauty you do. Is any of this sinking in? Or should I perhaps accuse you of using your lack of intelligence to excuse your insipid willful ignorance?"

Lilly stopped and looked at Jase wide eyes for a few moments as the corners of her mouth turned up. Slowly her mask of composure was failing as she snorted once, trying to control herself, and then burst out into infectious laughter. She often had a smile on her face, but with events over the last several weeks, Jase had seen her face sad far more often than ever before. It had been a while since he had seen her so joyful, as this was clearly not sarcastic or taunting, but true, honest laughter.

Jason had stopped in tandem, half-turning towards Lilly with an icy hardness in his eyes, his stance shifting slightly, almost autonomically in preparatory defense against a possible attack - something the trained athlete noticed and evidence that he had been getting some training from somewhere. At her laughter his eyes had narrowed even further, but curiosity gradually replaced the guarded wariness. Curiosity, and puzzlement.

"And what the hell," he asked, not as much of the previous fury in his tone, but with an edge there still, "-is so funny? Or perhaps your mind just went 'ping' like an elastic band snapping?" His head tilted slightly, trying to read her expression, obviously suspicious that the laughter was a sign of impending madness. "Are you okay?"

"Oh yeah. my 'small mind' from my 'lack of intelligence'." she laughed in a silly, deeper, more masculine voice as she rolled her eyes, her beautiful features contorted into a mask of mirth as she doubled over from laughter.

Straightening back up, she lifted a hand and rested it on Jase's shoulder, an act that to any onlooker he seemed apprehensive of, but Lilly seems to pay it no mind.

"Dude." Lilly laughed, "Do you ever listen to yourself? You sound like a Bond villain or something sometimes." she managed to get out as she began to gradually regain her composure.

"Chill, dude." she chuckled. "I'm not attacking you or anything. I'm just saying that I know you can be better. I can see it in you. You do not need to be alone on an island all the time. And yeah, you might not even be the exact same as the rest of us, hell, I am sure you wouldn't even want that..." she chuckled, "..but with some work, I know you can be closer, but still be yourself." she said with a smile.

"Trust me, I work daily at being 'better'. Primarily on the 'forbearance with fools' part. Oh, and having a vocabulary and using it doesn't make me a Bond villain." Jason said, relaxing a fraction, the look in his eyes going from icy to merely cool. "That would take also having zero imagination or common sense and using my genius to try and hold the world to ransom with an improbable superweapon rather than, oh I don't know, just founding a Fortune 500 company with the patents I can churn out."

As Lilly snorted and let out a giggle at that, Jason's lips twitched in a tiny smile. "Plus what is it with the death trap thing, or telling the hero the plans 'because they're going to die anyway'? Why kidnap the sexy female agent and force her into an exploitative outfit when, with a little imagination, you can make the hero seem like the preening fuckwit he usually is and have her volunteer to wear a bikini for you? Or indeed, nothing at all."

Lilly was in a full on gigglefit now. Jason's smile was sly, the gleam in his eyes the downfall of saints. At least, female ones.

"Point being, Lilly, Bond villains ain't got nothing on me." He finished with a half-step back, slow spin and an understated stage magicians's flourish, ending with a slight bow in her direction. "And with that, class awaits."

"Sooo, what you are saying is... that you want to get me in a bikini." Lilly laughed as she started walking again.

"Who wouldn't?" Jase asked in a dual confused and yet matter-of-factly tone.

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Lunchroom


Cade went completely silent, as he noticed the cat looking at him, directly from the window.  He definitely wanted to know more about the cat, but couldn't just leave now that he'd drug everyone here essentially.  He watched the Cat even while listening as Sophia was definitely stating her interest, not just in the play, but seemingly in Charlie as well.  

He'd ask Cass to come with him to find the cat, If he recalled correctly, her powers would probably be ideal for that.  It would only take a moment, and then she could head to her afternoon classes.  he went back to eating his food quietly, wondering if anyone else saw the cat.   He thought to text her, but it would be pretty conspicuous with everyone there. 

It was a downside to this whole situation.  They had to be careful what they said around anyone who wasn't part of the Fellowship, or the Jauntsens, or Tawny now, it seemed.

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