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Most Recent Posts

In Edenridge 9 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay
TIMESTAMP: Monday Afternoon around 4 PM
FT: Mikhail Zima & Anya Kamensky


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What an eventful day Mikhail ZIma had. Between the highly informative morning of getting his head back in the game with Coach, his not-so-informative conversation with the artist formerly known as old bastard, and then reading that letter that led to him the Cleary house and being trapped in her closet, it was a lot. Sure as hell didn’t help that Danilo Belmonte wasn’t too happy to not only find him there, but him being near Caitlin. He still had a couple bruises around his cheeks and even a partially-busted lip. Say what you want about Danny, but there was a reason he was the captain of the basketball team back in the day.

He could shoot and had a hell of a left straight, too.

But when things settled and they came to an understanding, against everything in him that wanted to stay, Mika didn’t. Instead, he opted to leave. He made peace with it because Cece had Danny with her and at least she wouldn’t be alone. He had no right of being there, especially not when she had a literal boyfriend.

So when he left, he went back home and slept most of what remained of the morning away. He woke up sometime in the afternoon, dozed off again, but eventually Mika finally woke up around 3pm. When he did, he went straight for his fridge. Everything ached because, surprise surprise, Mika fell asleep on the couch again. It was a really bad habit of his. Well, at least he still had some leftovers in his fridge.

“What do we have?” He murmured to himself, looking through and grabbed some leftover chinese food from the other night. It was shrimp fried rice, which was fine by him. Grabbing a soy sauce packet, he mixed and mixed it well and ate some. About halfway into it, he heard his phone go off and grabbed it when he made it back to the couch. It was a text message from what appeared to be an unknown number. His go-to response would be some kind of trolling tactic. Usually he got these texts from scammers, so it was fun to toy with them, but then he read the message.

Liberty 4
Unknown Sender

He paid attention. He knew exactly who this was. He knew what this message meant.

With a smile, Mika left his apartment. He was wearing the same thing he had worn to Cece’s in the morning. His jacket and all. When he got outside, Mika expected to see sunshine. He expected mother nature to punish him with unforgivable heat and while still relatively hot and muggy, what Mika didn’t expect to see was a gathering of clouds. “The fuck? Isn’t it supposed to be summer? The fuck is this shit?”

Shaking his head, Mika climbed into his truck and drove across the tracks, through main street and stopped about a half a block away from where the entrance of Eastbrook. Mika knew the general layout and he knew what the text meant. Milligan’s Bridge was just down the road. He couldn’t say whether or not it was clever code to just say liberty or if it was simply the lack of translation skills a certain person had, but he could decipher it.

He walked towards the bridge but took a detour to the underpass, waiting for her to show up. Looking at his phone, it was just five minutes till four, so not long according to the message he received earlier.

Once the clock struck 4 there was a light touch on Mika’s back, a silent and soundless hello in the form of Anya resting her right hand on him. When her brother turned around and smiled at her, Anya’s eyes locked with his in a way that conveyed this meeting wasn’t for fun. She wasn’t here to have a happy brother and sister catch up session. No. She was here to warn him.

If there was a person who knew Anya did not waste time, it would be Mika. She was a busy girl from her job with the Angels to her library duties (how she got that job he will never understand) to her work with her mysterious employer. Unbeknownst to him, she’s been on the go for the past thirty six hours from job to job to lunch with Legs to another job to now. His sister was a warrior, constantly pushing through all the shit life threw at her, just to survive.

Stepping back to give him space, Anya observed her brother in silence a little more, before easing her body, feeling that the area was safe. That it was just her and him. “Hyde sees you,” She started off, not holding back any truths and bluntness. “I know this life,” She gestured to herself and what she was, and what she always would be, a monster, “Is not you. Hyde sees and he does not like.”

We need to bring Mika back to his real family.

Hyde’s words replayed in her head, and maybe he was right. Maybe she was losing her touch, but Mika? Mika was never hard to begin with. He might’ve had his Honey Badger persona but Anya knew it was a way to protect himself. He was and always will be a soft, kind, and loving person at heart. Mika’s desire to connect with a family that was always part of him meant he would step into the light and leave the creatures of the underworld behind. That included her, that included Hyde. He had a chance at love, while she and Hyde? They couldn’t afford it. That’s what it meant to be born in the Underworld. In the dark. Born a monster or forced to become one. Love, happiness, white picket fences. They never stood a chance but her baby brother. Mikhail O’Hara. He had his whole life ahead of her.

Right now, Hyde’s ideal of a family was so very real. It’s all he thought about while he was doing time. Anything that jeopardized that? He would burn anyone that gets in his way. Anyone. Anya, not Basilisk, wanted to help. She didn’t know how and she didn’t know if this was the right thing to do, but if she could save her brother from the Devil, even if it gets her killed, she would die happy. “Mother. Sisters. Gonzalez. Coach.” She paused, letting her sharp gaze pierce Mika’s soul, Caitlin. Big brother is not right and he smells change. Not change he wants. If I know, he will too. He sees you. OK?” She hoped he understood the dire importance of him to come up with solutions to protect his turf. If not his family, then certainly the girl he had eyes for.

Had it not been for the fact that Mika understood when his sister wasn’t kidding around, this would be the part where he would laugh and shrug what she was saying - but it was in her eyes? Anya’s eyes had always been cold, but never with him. Her eyes were like Hyde’s, but when it came to him, she never stared so deep into his soul he felt an uncomfortable tension settle in. It was uneasy and, if he was being completely truthful with himself, a bit terrifying. Not in the same way Hyde made him feel - no, not of the same type of terror. It was more like a reality check that hit so hard that Mika understood the severity of everything she was saying just by Anya’s eyes.

“Anya…I swear I was careful. Mom is protected. She is not accessible by just anyone. Our sisters are a town away. Nobody knows they exist other than a handful of people and most of them I lived with.” It was showing in his voice, the sudden realization of his errors of his ways. He knew that Uncle Gus would protect Stacy and Katie. He knew that the Angels and serpents, when asked, would protect mother, but Caitlin? That was on him. He had to protect her.

Mika began to pace a little, back and forth, hands on hips, clear distress in inaudible noises he made. “What should I do? What can I do? Should I cut contact off from them?” The idea in itself was ridiculous. He couldn’t do that. He wouldn’t do that. “I can’t do that. They’re my family.”

“I know,” Anya firmly answered. Rubbing the sleep off her face, thinking, not having an immediate solution for this one because she did not understand what it was to have the option of a better life, to be able to step in the light, Anya stood there. Silent. There was only one thing he could do, really, but was Mika capable of standing up against the Evil that all men do. Not Cameron. But Hyde. The Devil.

Rolling her neck around, like she did earlier at the diner, the ache from this morning’s job really catching up with her, from her stomach to her wrists to this stupid pain in her neck, Anya dropped the harsh venom and comforted her brother instead of give him a solution immediately, “It’s OK. We will think.”

Closing her eyes, Anya wondered in her thoughts and tightly spoke, “A friend told me today, some…time…” Her words started to slow down as her broken English tried to reiterate what Allegra had said at Dolly’s. “we need… em in dark, with us.” Fuck why was it so hard to speak in good English? “Be…cuz we not able to go in light.” Her last words weren’t necessarily how Legs said it but she struggled enough and just wanted to move on. “I do not agree. Though, what I do see, to keep her safe you need to go. Be with her. No more dark. No more light. Choose one and fight.”

Sometimes his sister’s broken English was hard to understand and even he had nodded through most of it, but he understood what she was saying. Not only that, but he knew what he had to do. Fight for what was most important to him: his family. It wasn’t just his southside family - not just Poppy or Boa or Legs. It was his Northside family. Coach and the O’Haras (even the ones who didn’t know about him yet). It was about all the friends he has made that gave him a purpose. The team he had in high school, Natalia, and, of course, Cece. The one person that he wanted to protect the most. He knew the Angels and Serpents would protect everyone in the Fallen Souls apartment complex, but Cece didn’t have that. She was innocent in all of this.

“I agree about what I have to do and I will go to her, but what about our brother? If what you say is true and he sees me, wouldn’t going to her put her in even more danger?” It wasn’t that he wanted to think that Hyde would threaten her while he was there, but the truth was that Mika wouldn’t put it past The Devil of Eden to do something so brazen. Mika learned a long time ago to never underestimate what his brother was capable of.

“You will hide her forever?” The Basilisk questioned. There were some answers that only he could decide on. If it were her, she’d make sure that she was a constant wall between the Devil and his desired target. Presently, Mika did not believe he could take down his brother. The fear emitted from him like the sun releases light. But if he didn’t try, then this life he wanted would never be. If he wanted to shine, he needed to do just that, shine. The Devil only goes to those that listen. “I not saying have plan. This will take time. I do think you, Mikhail, needs to make choice. That is first step. The rest will come. Not today, not tomorrow, but it will come.”

It wasn’t that he didn’t understand what she was telling him to do. He knew that, eventually, he couldn’t just stay on the sidelines. As it turned out, every day his brother became worse and worse. Or Mika being careless has made him become worse. He didn’t know which one it was nor did he really care. He knew despite everything, he was putting Cece in harm’s way and he was the reason that now they were in this pickle. What was happening was exactly what he tried to prevent two years ago when he broke up with her: to keep her out of harm's way, but despite knowing it was dangerous, he re-entered her life.

What was that quote that Katie always like to repeat to him from that fantasy show? Love is the death of duty? God, why was he remembering something his nerdy ass sister said to him?

But it was the truth. And his duty was to protect Cece and prevent Hyde from finding out about her existence, or at least her connection to Mika.

“I’ll hide Cece for as long as I need to. Until I know she’s safe.” Yeah, try explaining that to Cece. Doubt she would be as open to the idea unless Mika explained everything about it to her. “I don’t know what choice I should make, but one I know that makes sense to me right now is Cece and making sure he doesn’t harm her.” Under his breath, Mika cursed himself because that would leave the difficult task of convincing his ex to all of this and explaining just what the fuck kind of mess he dragged her into. Simple, right?

While he was stewing in thought, trying to come to his own conclusions, Anya gilded closer and slipped her hand into his. Allegra had held her hand earlier today bringing her comfort, maybe it would do the same for her little brother. Squeezing it and looking at the water under the bridge, Anya reassured Mika, her sweet, baby brother, “At all cost, you protect her. I do what I can on my end.” Her sharp gaze softened at the sight of the everflowing stream of water. Her eyes went from the water to the boy beside her, all the while holding his hand, “Hey, brother?” She hesitantly asked, wondering if the follow up question was worth asking or not. She waited for his reaction before saying anything more.

When she reached for his hand and grabbed it, anything that Mika had been thinking about seemed to fade away. It was so unexpected, especially for Anya. He watched as she looked to the river and made a sort of vow (or was it more of a pledge?) Whichever it was, he smiled at and then she looked back at him, no longer having that cold gaze that reminded him of Hyde but the Anya he knew and felt like he could trust with just about anything. Literally anything. “What’s up, Anya? Something on your mind?”

“Do you think…” She struggled talking not because of phrasing, or wording, or even the English, but more because of the value of the question, as if it was a foreign concept to her. Foreign but something intriguing, especially lately. “Do you think I can love? Like you with your Cece?” Today was a strange day for the Basilisk. First she gave Allegra her real name. Now she was asking her brother if she was deserving of love or even capable of it. “It’s stupid, I know.” She started paddling back, looking away from Mika and bringing her gaze to the water. People like her, they couldn’t afford love.

“What?” Was Mika’s immediate reaction, exactly like he was caught off guard by his sister’s question. Because he was. In what has been a whirlwind of a meet-up with Anya, he’s gone from dread to being the protective man he is to unexplainably confused, but at the same time, he saw how Anya looked. In her eyes, he could see it. He didn’t know exactly what it might be, but the minute she mentioned how it’s stupid, he shook his head. “No, it’s not stupid at all!” He squeezed his sister’s hand tighter to enforce what he just said. “Everyone is deserving of love, Anya! Doesn’t matter what they’ve done or what, everyone is entitled to a love that makes them smile and maybe do things they normally wouldn’t.” He sure as hell has done his fair share of stupid things in the name of love.

She hoped he was right. Love didn’t work out for her grandmother, her mother, or any of her Sisters for that matter. When her Sisters strayed from the path, it all ended the same. Six feet under. She opened up her mouth to thank him and that she would try her best to believe in this thing called love but they were interrupted by thunder and the sudden appearance of rain. Releasing her brother’s hand, checking her watch, she realized how much time came and went. It was already half past 4. “You need to go. This is bad brother. This storm.” Anya needed Mika safe and in that same worry, she wondered if Jade was okay. Was she safe? Did she need her to be safe too?

Of course she did. Jade was the reason she wasn’t herself lately. She was the reason she was asking so many questions and wondering about things she wouldn’t have thought about a month ago. Jade was the reason that Anya was ‘losing her touch’ because ever since their first day together at Dolly’s with pancakes and french toast, Anya couldn’t stop thinking about her smile. The Basilisk had seen the Angel Princess before, while in the background at the MC, but only recently had she ever gotten a one on one session with her. Multiple now if you count the past couple Sundays. And in each sitting, she found herself looking forward to the next. She didn’t need to hear much. She could sit in silence with Jade and feel content. It was knowing she was okay and safe, knowing that she enjoyed being with her, just like Anya did but for her, that made the next Sunday something always to look forward to. Jade was her something, her someone, she looked forward to and she needed to know she was safe so that their Sundays would never change. “Go be safe, Mikhail.”


In Edenridge 14 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay
Timestamp: After The Mad Ones
FT: The Lost Trio
Carrie Sinclair, Autie Sinclair,
Niles Sinclair, Rye Phillips-Shomer


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@metanoia @Aces Away @LovelyComplex

There they were. Penelope, Mordechai, and Jade at the entrance of Scott Street, staring into the world of the beautiful, the dirty, and the rich. A gate separated them from the nests of the most prominent families of Edenridge. The foundlings and the ones that floated above everything else in this godforsaken town. People the southsiders would never understand.

Unamusingly, Poppy didn’t think this far ahead. She didn’t think about getting in contact with a Northie in order to get into Scott Street. Then again, they were southsiders. They didn’t need to ask permission, they just did. The Street Angel opened her mouth to make a suggestion but then they heard the purring engine of a motorcycle swiftly approaching.

Think fast!

Quickly, Poppy hid behind the brick wall that held one side of the large door gate. Incoming was Niles Sinclair, with someone on the back of his seat, holding onto him. She couldn’t see who the other person was and by the time they reached the gate, allowing it to open, she was in hiding, waiting to roll in once the doctor’s son sped out.

“You sure you don’t want to stop at Main Street?” Niles called out, as he rested his foot on the cement, waiting for the slow gate to open. “Maybe the crowd chilled out a bit?” For a Monday, Main Street Music sounded busy. While that was never a bad thing, it was currently, because it gave Rye limited time with JP.

Niles wanted to tell Rye to not worry about it but he knew his friend and all his friend did was worry. Worry about everyone else but himself. Regardless, Sinclair didn’t mind taking stops if that meant Rye could talk to JP to get whatever misunderstanding they had going on, resolved. What were friends for?

In addition to the news of JP’s distress (or Rye overthinking his brother was distressed), the two boys only napped for a couple hours before their sleep was interrupted by a phone call. Niles had to get his dad lunch. So, he rose, which forced Rye to wake up. He showered, leaving Rye to Autumn and Carrie for entertainment, and then the sons of doctors were off. Niles was planning on having dinner at Gavriel’s so he could catch up with the family but they still had plenty of daylight left. “Really, I don’t mind.”

“I appreciate it, really, but we should get home,” Gavriel replied regretfully over the engine, trying not to think about how much he wanted to see JP. The other man was probably fine, and Gavriel knew he had a tendency to make things worse in his head. The sound of his voice carried over to the southie crew, however, and Mordechai had to restrain himself from jumping out of his hiding position to see the curly haired man he’d once called friend. Not yet, they both seemed to be on errands. Later. “I’ll see him at dinner…he’s probably still busy, and this coming storm has my shoulder all fucked up so I need to just relax so I don’t make it worse,” He rolled his shoulder and winced as the throbbing pain grew. The gate lay completely open before them. “Besides, everyone’ll want to see you.”

“K. Whatever you say, what’s your mom cooking anyways?” Niles revved up his engine a couple of times before they were off again, just two best friends hanging. And that moment cued Poppy to lead the charge straight into the ritzy suburbia.

“It’s that easy, folks!” Pops rested her hands behind her head and began strolling into a place she never visited before. “So uh, from what I gathered… we’re looking for the second biggest house. The biggest being the creepy Grimm manor,” when she didn’t hear footsteps she turned around to look at her friends, “Well come on now, we don’t got all day!”

Mordechai stared after Niles and Rye’s retreating backs for a few more moments before turning to Jade and Poppy, shrugging off the shock of hearing Rye again after that day in the cafeteria in favor of following his best friends into the unknown of Scott Street. “All these houses are huge as shit, how fuckin’ big is second biggest?”

“Uhhhhhhhhhh….” Penelope scanned the houses and shrugged. “Heck if I know. I have no idea where we’re going.”

“There we go again,” Mordechai replied with a dry laugh, noticing a trend they’d followed together since childhood. “As always, head first with no plan.”

Jade, for the most part, was in her own head. She had the self-awareness to keep part of her mind tuned into what was being said, but for the most part, she was being consumed with feelings that she didn’t think she’d really feel ever again, but coming to the sacred suburbia of Edenridge, she had a flashback to when she was involved with Roddy Callahan. It wasn’t that she always came to Scott Street, but in those days, she’d occasionally sneak to his house. It wasn’t anything major that kept her up at night, but during those days, Jade took risks she normally wouldn’t. So maybe part of that was remembering how different she was compared to…well, now.

“Where’s your sense of adventure, Key?” She managed to say, nudging into him as lightly as she could as she didn’t want to disrupt his balance. The man rolled his eyes and smirked lightly at her in response. “Besides, it’s not hard to find the second largest house, right? I mean, it’s not like these houses are uniform.” Jade looked around, blue-green eyes noting that every house had their own identity. They were far larger than anything she had ever seen in a few years (again dating back to her time spent with Roddy way back when), but she could at least notice they weren’t all the same. Sure as hell not like that Squidward community where every house had the big ass nose house. “Pops, any other info? Maybe what the house looks like?” She tried to ask in a genuine way but part of her felt like it came off a little bitchy.

“Beats me,” Poppy admitted, not one to venture this far like her sister did. Taking a moment to rub her temples, Penelope tried to think of a plan. They could go in blindly and search for Italian memorabilia or they could see if someone they knew could advise them where to go, like maybe one of Decky’s Southie friends. “I mean I guess we could try to find her car? I feel like we have a better chance finding that than a house we’ve all never seen.”

“And how should we acquire a car? Lot of the ones I see--” Jade casually gestured around, seeing a lot of nice cars parked in the driveways of the houses of Scott Street, “--they aren’t exactly ones you can hotwire. I mean, I can hotwire, but older models are preferable.” Was it a grim thing to joke about? Probably. Was it logical? Nope, but Jade couldn’t help but laugh.

Not too far off ahead, an ice cream truck was stationed waiting for the neighboring children to get their fix before the ice guy went to his next destination. Have the fates decided to help boost their morale and that was through ice cream? No, it wasn’t just ice cream there… Not by a long shot.

To their fortune, or misfortune, they walked right into a sea of Edenridge High Clovers. A bunch of upcoming senior girls who believed they were destined for greatness, or at least, next year’s Shining Star trophy. Autumn Sinclair licked her vanilla ice cream cone (with rainbow sprinkles, of course) as she waited for the rest of her crew to catch up. It didn’t take too long for Caroline Sinclair to come skipping from the truck to her sister (they were standing in front of the Brady house) with an orange creamsicle.

Soon after, they were surrounded by three other Northie girls. Parker Thompson, Liana Khoury, and Ophelia Iordanou. It was a Clover fest. Somebody kill us, please. Had they been caught before their mission even started? What were the chances they would stroll into Scott Street right when the ice guy was in? Should they leave while they still had a chance?

Autumn was quick to notice the lost souls. Tilting her head, she licked her ice cream again. They didn’t look like Natalia’s usual friends, then again, she hadn’t talked to her idol in a good two weeks. Maybe she made more Southie friends over time. Autie could get behind that, seeing how she was making her own southie friends too. In the form of three boys, Ransom, Molotov, and TNT. “Are you lost?” The brazen Clover curtly asked. She wasn’t intentionally trying to come off as bitchy. In all honesty, Autumn was curious and wanted to help but she had little to no control over her tone and bitchface. She licked her ice cream again.

Mordechai looked between his friends and the Clovers for a moment as the first one approached, unsure of just how much they were supposed to be saying or giving out. The girl in front didn’t seem all too surprised to have a trio of Southies in their nice suburban neighborhood, in fact she seemed interested instead of wary. Something about her was scratching at a patch of Mordechai’s memory that had already been partially opened with the two that had left on the motorcycle minutes before, something to do with Rye and his friend Niles…

Memories of Rye going through almost every picture in his phone with Mordechai when they were younger suddenly flooded his mind. It was something that the other boy had often done in their down time, swiping to picture after picture and either explaining what had happened that day, or giving random anecdotes about the people in the pictures with him. He knew Mordechai might not meet them, but he liked the other boy to know about the people that were important to him. Some of the people he had taken pictures with the most were Mordechai and Danny, JP, Danny Belmonte, Niles, and…

“You’re…Autumn,” He said slowly as he finally placed her. He looked from her to the blonde just behind her, a tired smile on his face as he thought of the stories Rye had shared with him about the two. “And Carrie, right? Niles’ sisters? I’m Mordechai, uh,” he struggled with his words, trying to explain how he knew them without them having ever met him. Realizing it might come off wrong, he added, “I used ta hang out with Rye and he had a bunch’a pictures with y’all. Uh, anyway we…well we’re lookin’ for Natalia? We didn’t really think about…needin’ an address when we headed out.”

Christ, his social skills needed some fucking work.

There was something almost gratifying about being known on the Southside, even by those she hadn’t ever met. This Mordechai knew her name, knew her brother’s only friend, and knew the woman she considered ‘the best Niles would ever have’. “So you're new friends of hers or…? If your connection is through Gavriel and Niles then I’m not really adding up why you’d want to see her?” Protectively, Autumn breached closer to the southie with ice cream in hand. Carrie was quick to scurry to her side, to be a buffer if needed, “If you’re here to tell her to leave your friends alone, it’s you who needs to tell your friends to leave her alone! She doesn’t need you, or any of you for that matter, to toy with her emotions,” Niles’ sister growled before taking another lick of her ice cream.

“What my sister means to say, in a less mean way, that was very mean of you, by the way, Autie,” Caroline gave her sister a look of disappointment before bringing her serene eyes back to Decky, “Natalia and Niles, and Rye, have not been on good terms for a very long time. So, if this is because they don’t want to talk to her themselves, I don’t think we can help you.”

Damn. These girls were hardcore. Penelope looked at the standoff that was happening between her friend and the northie girls. Her eyes went past them and to the ice cream truck. How much money did she have on her? Side-stepping out of the heat of the confrontation, tapping Decky’s back which was her way of saying ‘this is all you’, Penelope slowly, very slowly made her way to the small line. She had five dollars. She could totally get a sundae if she wanted to.

The lone man shot his small friend an alarmed look, his hands having already flown up defensively from Autumn's approaching ire. This was not what he'd wanted, but once again his luck- and his mouth- struck again. He didn't remember too much about these girls except that they were twins, and that Autumn was extremely outspoken and protective while Carrie was soft-spoken and bubbly. He’d obviously triggered the brunette’s protective instincts, and her reasonings were totally fair, but he’d only been trying to explain how he knew her and her sister’s names since he’d just blurted them out as a stranger. He definitely hadn’t been thinking about how those names would affect their search for Natalia.

“I don’t-what? No. No I just knew your names because of Rye, him and Niles have nothin’ ta do with this, I haven’t even talked ta him in yea- ya know what?” He paused for a moment to gather his thoughts, trying to fix his fuck up. He ran his hand through his hair and gripped the back of his own neck tightly to try and release all the sudden tension. They just wanted the point, get to the point. He dropped his hand back to his side and flexed his fingers a few times before restarting. “We’ve got a trip planned and someone told us Puff might wanna be a part of it, we’re just tryin’a find her and ask if she’d wanna join or not…and I mean probably drive since we ain’t got any wheels ourselves.”

“An honorable pursuit,” Carrie beamed, raising her hand in front of her sister, who was one to speak before she thought. All the time. A gesture to shut her up before she spoke. “And Autumn knows better than all of us how cool you southies are, seeing how after she confronted her boyfriend about, well, him sleeping with a lot of other girls, he left her stranded at a gas station! Last night! But she was saved, and now it is our turn to return the favor.” Caroline gave her sister her ice cream, seeing how she needed both hands now.

Autumn was quiet, with a grumpy pout on. Oddly enough, the sweet one had more dominance than she gave off. And ever the wise one too, even if she dramatically laced her words with fantastical flair.

“I, Caroline Sinclair, your fairy godsister will take you to her. And that over there,” she pointed to the yellow buggie in the driveway to her left, their right, “Is your carriage!”

As the Disney princess eased the tension, Autumn tossed her and her sister’s leftover ice cream in the community trash can and sighed, “Sorry.”

Jade watched the bitchy brunette, eyes almost squinting in a glare. She didn’t like her attitude but Jade didn’t say anything. Could she have? Of course. The Angel Princess was a lot of things but a pushover and letting someone jump down her best friend’s throat like that wasn’t one of them. But then she put her feet in their shoes. If she found some northsiders wandering around the southside, especially looking all suspicious like she, Key, and Pops were probably looking from the outside perspective, then she would be just as hostile. So that’s why she kept her mouth shut.

But when the blonde offered to help them, there was a wave of relief, yet when Jade saw their ’carriage’, she could literally feel her eyes twitching and a heavy dose of her own patience leaving her body. “That’s uh…” She struggled to find the right words. “That’s certainly something, isn’t it?” She looked around, blue-green gaze on Key.

Shoulders slumped in relief at avoiding an unnecessary confrontation, Mordechai gave passing thought to what Southies the Sinclairs may have met before he turned to follow Carrie's gesture and almost cried when he saw their mode of transportation. If both sisters were escorting them, them he just knew that he and Jade would barely fit in the back themselves, meaning Poppy would likely be sitting on a half of each of their laps while the two bigger Southies did their best to smush against the back windows. Jade's lackluster commentary on the vehicle fit his own level of enthusiasm quite well, and he stepped up beside her to knock their shoulders together in commiseration. He stared blankly at the small buggy and- in an unintentional mimic of TNT from early that morning- he let out a small, judgement-free laugh and said, "...Cute."

He could feel another laugh trying to escape at the absurdity of the situation, but outwardly he just nodded in thanks to Carrie and started following her to her car, Autumn staying back with their other friends. Well, at least all three of them wouldn't be crammed in the back like he thought. "Just go with it, Harley Head, anythin' that gets us there faster."

The blonde gave a shrug, losing her glare at the bitchy brunette. It sure as hell wasn’t her first choice of cars but she had to internally remind herself that this was a means to an end. At the very least, the blonde, who had a friendly smile, seemed to be willing to help them out. “Yeah okay.” She shrugged again, giving Key a reluctant smile.

The dark haired man smiled back at his friend before stopping and turning back around to their third adventurer at the ice cream truck. "Pops! Ya comin'?"

“Yeah! I just got my shit,” Passing Autumn who went up to her Northie girlfriends, Pops saluted, “Thanks, mate,” and marched to the buggy. Wow, this was one hell of a sight. This car was god awful and it was written all over Poppy’s face. “I call dibs on shotgun since Autumn ain’t coming.”

Intentionally, Poppy decided to make the selfish move due to her holding a mild grudge with her friends. More so Decky than Jade. Maybe she wanted to be petty. They could take the back and she could eat her sundae in the front. Decky had his secrets, and Jade ghosted her for a good month. She deserved the front seat.

“Hey!” Autumn called out as first Jade and Decky piled into the back, and Poppy trapped them inside with the passenger’s chair. “I hope you like Disney!” After a few more exchanges, the yellow chariot was off. Meaning they were in a race with a snail because if there was a snail, it would be going faster than them. Poppy scooped some hot fudge sundae in her mouth and glanced at her friends through her sun visor mirror.

Apologetic, Carrie gently pressed on the pedal, “Sorryyyy, I don’t drive often but this shouldn’t take too long! One sec,” They were inches away from the driveway when Carrie was back in park going to her playlist. After a minute or so, the car started playing Under the Sea from the Little Mermaid Disney soundtrack. “Okay, that’s better.” And they were off! Again!

Steadily Carrie went onward, heading down Scott Street to what the southies would hope eventually led to Natalia’s. By this rate, though, they should’ve walked. As Carrie drove, Poppy swayed to the music and ate her sundae. This was ridiculous and she couldn’t help but find it all amusing. When Carrie started singing, she decided to quietly join the other girl, just so her friends could suffer. Oh how fun this all was.

Mordechai watched Poppy's petty side come out from his folded position in the back, still practically shoulder to shoulder with Jade despite leaning towards the window. He hadn't seen this version of his friend in a while, and while he knew it was mostly his fault fucking up with this whole Natalia thing, the man couldn't help the small smile that slipped onto his face as she sang along with whatever song was playing. He didn't technically have a feeling toward Disney songs either way, given his extremely limited interaction with their movies and the like, and while what he was hearing wasn't really his schtick he could get behind them if it meant continuing to hear his smallest friend's voice without any heartbreak or feelings of betrayal undercutting her tone. Like he'd said: knew he'd fucked up, that was clear, he just didn't know how to fix it immediately, so he just had to deal with Poppy being upset with him.

The practical crawl of the car down the road and the upbeat music contrasted themselves as much as the blonde in the driver seat contrasted her passengers, and Mordechai was left wondering how he and his friends always fell into such odd situations, ever since they were kids. Was it their curious personalities, their bad luck, the people they surround themselves with? All, or maybe none, of those options? They interacted with the Northside more than most Southies just on account that they continued their schooling and the only highschool was Northside, but they were still worlds apart from most of these people. He does remember Danny being returned to him one day by Poppy and Max and his little brother going on an excited rant about a Disney Marathon, Decky! They sing in like every movie! They're so fun- because apparently Max had taken over most of his watching for the day and demanded that he know some childhood wonder. Mordechai, already a Serpent at the time, had been more focused on his brother's excitement and smile than the actual content of his words.

Looking at the back of Poppy's head, Mordechai wondered if she also struggled still with the voice of her lost sibling in her ear, or the thoughts of what would happen if they hadn't been lost, but he was pretty sure he knew the answer. Trying to keep a positive air about him, he turned his eyes to Carrie and asked, "So, is this somethin' ya need ta show your kids? Just 'cause it's all happy and musical?"

“I’ll show my kids, but no,” Carrie turned down Meadow Street, to their left was the large, creepy, definitely evil Grimm estate and grounds, and to their right was the Davies, then the Josephs. “Parents can do whatever they see fit. And to correct you, sir, Disney isn’t all rainbows and butterflies.” She glanced at the boy through her rearview mirror, even going the extra mile to turn down the song. “They have universal messages. You know Lion King is basically Hamlet by William Shakespeare, right? But that isn’t the point. It’s not just Disney. Cartoons help develop a child's cognitive skills. If you don’t like Disney, there’s always Looney Tunes or all the 90s shows on Cartoon Network like Courage the Cowardly dog. But kids don’t need that. We have good books too and we have the great outdoors.”

Penelope glanced over at the girl who was actually quite intellectual for being so childlike at times. The young girl brought her attention back to the road, as she continued to give her stance on Disney, cartoons, and parenting. Taking another spoonful of sundae, Poppy placed it in her mouth and continued to listen. Now in silence, no longer singing — just her, her sundae and Carrie’s TedTalk. She liked how energetic this girl was. How strong, firm, and sure of herself she came across. Something Poppy felt like she lacked a lot of times. It was nice to see. Through all the dark, there were still those that carried light in them. There were still those hopeful and positive.

“I will say early Disney, like Princesses waiting for their Prince to come save them, does not translate well in our day and age but they’re still good movies. The reason why I like Disney is because it reminds me that I can still be young at heart. Through all the crap this town goes through, having something that makes you laugh, makes you cry, makes you sing, and just makes you… feel, isn’t such a bad thing, right? I don’t know, Disney just keeps me centered. Like the Goofy Movie, Goofy has to come to terms with his son growing up but watching your baby grow is hard, you know? And Max, his son, learns that even if he wants to do his own thing, like most teenagers do, he still has a loving father in his corner who's just doing his best. So, cartoons, no cartoons, sweets, no sweets, there is no map to parenting.”

Mordechai didn't follow any of the references Carrie gave aside from Shakespeare's Hamlet, but her point got across clearly enough, and the man felt a level of respect grow for this girl who was obviously more than the face she wore for others. He wondered if whatever movies Max had shown Danny had helped his little brother in any way, or about how books and comics was probably their biggest developers in that stage of their lives. Books he could do, those he knew pretty well but, maybe…

"I don't know much about that stuff, you got like a few good ones ta start with?" He asked sincerely, thinking of his own children singing songs just because they could and fighting the smile that the thought tried to bring to his face. The things he didn't understand- the things he never had - were exactly what he wanted to give his children. "I've got a couple kids that I wanna have a better childhood than me."

“Hm, I’d suggest Hercules. That soundtrack you’ll handle. It’s more gospel and soul. Easy on the ears but still catchy. Also Danny DeVito voices Phil. We love Danny DeVito.” Tapping her fingers on the wheel, her attention went from the road to a black truck parked conspicuously by the Grimms Queen-of-the-Night tulips, stone half wall (that had an iron gate door leading to the gardens), and their massive English Oak tree. Very gothic, spooky, and aesthetic, especially during Halloween. While she never saw that truck before, she wasn’t one to question the Grimms. That was one family you left alone. Yes siree. Only bad juju came from this house which meant those that lived there were cursed or doomed for life. “There’s non-musical films too. You might like Brother Bear and The Emperor’s New Groove. Start with those three and we can go from there. Rye has my number if you want more suggestions. I also have like… all the Disney movies ever if you want to borrow too. On both DVD and VHS!”

The same truck that Carrie saw had Mordechai doing a double take so quickly that his neck cracked as he recognized it as Mika's. He made a mental note to text his other constant later and nose into his life a bit: a little bit of payback for the last month plus that he'd helped Allegra play Warden with him. Just because it was for his own good doesn't mean it didn't get frustrating at times being an adult getting babysat right alongside your own children.

Hey, maybe they should've been watching Disney movies that whole time.

"I don't talk ta Rye anymore," Mordechai reiterated his comment from earlier, coming back to the conversation. He wasn't ready to get into that yet, talking to Rye was going to be a whole other trauma. "I haven't since I left. Uh, I'll figure it out though, thanks. Are we almost there?"

“Oh, that’s sad,” Carrie softly muttered.

Looking back into the visor mirror, Penelope looked at Mordechai who was gazing out the window. In thought, she stood there silent, wondering if Mordechai held it against Gavriel for not being able to protect little Danny. Did he hold a grudge against him even though Rye had no control over the situation? Or was Decky ashamed that he put Rye in that position, and blamed himself, just like he blamed himself for how Charlie became?

“Oh yeah! There she blows. Italiaaaaaa!” Caroline pointed to the large house with the Italian flag hanging from a staff of the front wall. The furthest house from the gate but not too hard to get to. Instead of pulling the car up immediately, Carrie turned into the driveway, right behind Taz’s party van (it could seat like ten people) and reversed out. Turning her car to face the opposite direction, so that when they exited Poppy’s door they could go straight to the front door, the happy-go-lucky blonde put her car in park, “Voilá! The Belmontes.”

Holding her sundae cup, she’d need to find a garbage bin for it later, Pops stepped out and when she did so, Carrie helped put the passenger seat forward so the other two could leave. Standing there, in front of the massive estate, Penelope James surveyed the area. The creeping doubt and lingering sadness found its way back to the surface.

Making sure it was hidden behind a mask, Poppy grabbed onto her teardrop necklace with her freehand staring ahead, realizing maybe this lax attitude was simply her faking she was okay. It made the journey to this point easier to handle. She wore Charlie’s jacket as a reminder of the man that had her heart, a reminder of her old Charlie, but now? In front of Natalia Belmonte’s residence, waiting for her friends, she could only feel the jacket as something that belonged to a stranger. Did she really know Charlie? Like truly? Deeply?

Who was Natalia to him?

Jade had tuned out the entirety of the conversation that went on about Disney. It was never her scene. Their peppy chauffeur mentioned something about how there were alternatives to Disney? Yeah, she tuned into that briefly and she agreed. Did she care to voice her opinion about it? Fuck no, she didn’t. Jade didn’t care one way or another. She grew up on horror flicks, Sylvester Stallone, and lots of anime and shows that probably weren’t not suitable for a girl her age (at the time) to watch (looking at you Happy Tree Friends). So what could she bring to the conversation? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

And maybe part of her silence had to do with the fact that she was lost in her own head. When they had been in the car for a while, she let her thoughts consume her. Some of them about Anya and what she might be doing right now, but most of them were about Natalia Belmonte and her connection to Charlie. Pretty sure her soul sister was thinking about that too. She wondered if, after all of this, they’d be okay? All Jade did was call her because she felt bad about how quiet she went, but here they were: in the same call, on some grand ole' adventure to find Natalia and get to Blue Hill as soon as they possibly could.

But Jade could feel it. There was an uneasiness in the air. She’s been feeling it for a while now - not just since she picked up the phone and decided to call Poppy, but for a few days. Hell, probably since the Devil became her protector.

Don’t think like that. Think positive. She told herself as she looked out the window and her eyes nearly came out of the socket and she almost dislocated her jaw as she wide-eyed, jaw-down gasped at what she could only assume was the second biggest house on Scott Street. “You have to be kidding me…” Jade muttered just loud enough that at least Key next to her could hear, but then her voice got louder. “We spent all that time getting lost and they had…that in front of the damn house!?” Jade was referring to the ginormous Italian Flag that was outside for the entire neighborhood to see.

“Jesus fucking Christ…” She again muttered, shoving her way into Key’s shoulder, rushing him out. She didn’t care about manners right now, but when they were, all Jade could do, honestly, was stare at the flag.

How could they have missed that?


In Edenridge 19 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay
TIMESTAMP: After-- Keeping Up With The Ossos
FT: Sofia Belmonte, Ricky Osso, and Jamie O'Hara (Lord)


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What even had been today?

The last twenty four hours had been nothing short of a mess and it had all started with that row.

Russell would do anything for Jamie. That much had always been true. Yet previous evening, actions were very much the hot topic of what one could call discussion but in actuality it was a blazing argument that thankfully they had in their car otherwise the entirety of her nosy Scott Street neighbours would’ve heard it. Jamie hated arguing with him. No matter what he said, Russ just never understood her. Nobody did. It was only ever David. Their bond was one of magic and despite her fathers often loud protests that there was no such thing as a sacred bond between twins, she wouldn’t believe otherwise. The time was coming soon that if things didn’t change, Russell would not be long for her life.

Maybe things had changed already and she was just denying that? A major part of their argument was that Russ had been in hiding his entire life. Jamie was aware of what she was to him, a beard. Someone for him to hide behind as he struggled with his sexuality. She knew this but didn’t mind because Russell was a good man and a good friend to her when she needed it so desperately. David’s death happened at the worst possible time. All of her friends had gone off to college or started their new lives, meaning she suffered alone and in the dark. Russ, for all intents and purposes, was a light that would protect her. She just didn’t want to be protected anymore.

After mulling things over at her and David’s secret place, Jamie returned home with a new vigor and zeal. It was time for things to change. Then that morning, it all happened. It seemed almost prophetic really that Clayton was the first person she would see when the letters arrived. He was David’s best friend. He had always been the best of them. The cool guy. The Samaritan. The hero. Could he save her?

Reagan called a meeting of course. Not to add the pressure already on Jamie, she now had to deal with the ice bitch herself as the Supreme decides to hold court with her gang. Even now, the young O’Hara girl struggled to say no. The day drinking helped but she wished she was doing it with someone like Lamb. She loved Riri and Yana, hell, she even loved Reagan to a point but their motives were never always clear. It was hard to tell what they really wanted down her. Lamb was easy. Lamb wouldn’t even ask her about David. They would just sit, drink and talk about Netflix or nonsense. Yet she couldn’t get ahold of her. Not surprising really since she was always busy. Lamby lived a busy life.

The booze had carried Jamie to Swerve Arcana but she stayed for the girl behind the counter. Avery. Clay had sung to high heaven the praises of the comic book store and the people there. Jamie had to see it for herself. The moment her eyes connected with the piercing blues of the befreckled Avery, something just hit her; she wasn’t really sure what. Of course Jamie had been with girls in the past. She had experimented. Yet she had been with Russell for nearly five years and on today, of all days, he was nowhere to be found and all she could think about was Avery, when she wasn’t thinking about David that is.

Now there she sat on a bench on Central Ave, in between Maple Street and Main, little Jamie O’Hara alone as always. Her buzz had gone and been replaced by that crippling feeling that had held her hostage all of her life. The medication did nothing for her, so she had stopped taking it. That big black cloud was hanging over her head metaphorically and literally. Jamie’s blue eyes were staring into the abyss that was creeping closer and closer to town. The wind had picked up dramatically but she didn’t care. In that moment she wouldn’t have hated being swept up in a gale and taken far away.

Sofia was determined to keep most of her family out of the loop, if possible. She didn’t want the news of her great escape to spread like wildfire, like it did, especially in her family. The Ossos lived on Rosebury Loop across the street from her aunt, Nina. Nina was likely at Palermo, doing her business woman thing, but her house husband and kids? They would be home and likely enjoying the great outdoors before the storm hit. That meant her and Ricky would not be taking to the streets. No, they’d go through the yards of people, picking up Nduja so that they could gently get her over the neighbouring gates until they were on Silver Oak Way. The street that connected Hanging Hill and Liberty Road, ultimately leading to Milligan Bridge.

When she reached her house it was for nought because all the lights were out. Shit. It was worth a shot. She really did not want to go to the Godmother… interrupting her mom at work was a recipe for disaster. While Nduja played in the sprinkles, Sofia spent the next five minutes trying to remember where the spare key was. When her search failed, she huffed, annoyed. Hiding her snacks in an empty flower pot, flipping it over, hoping nothing happened to them while she was gone, Sofia shuffled back to her friend and they were off once more.

The long exodus brought them to Hanging Hill where they passed the Witch’s cursed house and her other aunt’s Victorian, Elisa. Thankfully, Elisa and her husband were homebodies and weren’t enjoying the weather. Knowing Elisa, she was likely catching a quick nap before she had to feed the littles again. As for her uncle, was he even in town? She couldn’t remember. Hanging Hill was a spooky street but people got a lot of bang for their buck. Her aunt lived in a gothic girl dream house which was cool. Honestly, the coolest house on this street. The rest were cool too, even the haunted one, but they weren’t purple.

Eventually, their feet brought them to the end of the street and onto Central Ave. For someone that wasn’t as athletic as Sofia, this would make them sweat. This was a lot of walking, solely because Sofia was procrastinating her inevitable doom. She was good at that, procrastinating.

“Can…we…pause….for a second?” Ricky and Nduja were both exhausted. This was too much walking for him and the poor dog, she was a fat shit! She went around the block a few times and that was it! Not up and down Hanging Hill Lane and around the entirety of the East side. The youngest Osso put his hands on his knees and panted to the ground as Nduja collapsed next to him. “How are you even still going?”

A strong gust of wind finally snapped Jamie from her dark thoughts. She acknowledged her surroundings and realised that the weather had fully turned without her even really realising. The storm had been growing around her to the point the sky had turned pure grey. The rain had yet to start but the black clouds weren’t far away. Jamie looked across the street and saw two kids and a very cute dog. They shouldn’t be out! There was supposed to be a weather warning. The teacher in her wanted to order them inside but she knew she had very little to no authority.

Pushing herself to her feet, Jamie straightened out any creases in her clothing and crossed the road towards the kids. She couldn’t do it. She couldn’t ignore them. She had to make sure they were safe. As the gap between them closed, Jamie realised that one of the kids was Sofia Belmonte-Morelli! Her family home was only a few down from her father’s, so she had a decent enough rapport with all members of the clan.

“Hey guys!” The mythical unicorn waved. “You should be heading home, there’s a weather warning. A severe storm’s coming in, gonna last a few hours.”

“No can do, Miss Jamie,” Sofia answered, pulling her bag from the ready to drop boy. When she retrieved her bag, she unplugged her headphones from her phone and put them away. It was definitely going to rain soon. “I ain’t supposed to even be here, in Mass, so I’m about to give my mom the surprise of her life. She isn’t home yet, so next stop Godmothers, I guess. We’re taking a break though,” The adventurous Belmonte brought her attention to Ricky and the fat Sausage doggo, both out of breath, “They’re doing their best.”

Ricky stood up and straightened his back. “No, yeah I’m fine. Nduja is struggling though,” He said as he fought for breath. The small dog’s tongue fell out onto the pavement as if on cue.

Jamie cocked an eyebrow and let her lips part into a wide grin. They were a cute couple. “Well then we’re in a bit of a pickle here then aren’t we?” Being an Elite, the young woman had spent a good chunk of her youth covering for her brother and his idiot friends when they were out causing mischief. She knew Cat well enough from living on the same street that she knew that whatever trouble Sofia was in would blow over but she also knew that in the moment, the poor girl would be torn a new hole. “Well I’m sorry kids but I can’t let you go downtown. It’s too dangerous. How about I take you to your Grandpa’s Sofi? It’s on my way home anyway. Ricky. You and the pooch can get home before the storm sweeps in. Sound good?”

“Uh,” Sofia looked at Jamie then at Ricky, nervous. Not for herself, but for him, her friend. Leaning in, close to him, her lips nearly brushing his ear, Sofi whispered, cupping her mouth with her hand, “Will Bobby be okay with that? Aren’t you supposed to talk to my mom?”

Looking at the beautiful older woman as she smiled at the pair, Ricky was unsure how best to proceed. On the one hand, if he didn’t talk to Cat, Bobby would lose his shit and Robert Osso losing his temper was absolutely terrifying. There was a reason most people left him to his own devices. On the other hand, if he sent Sofia with Jamie now then at least he knew that she would be safe with the Grandparents when the storm hit. He followed Sofi’s lead and whispered into her ear. “I say do it. I’d rather you be home safe. I can deal with Bobby Batters.”

Frowning, Sofi brought her cupped hand down and nodded, begrudgingly agreeing. That being said, she was Sofia Belmonte and Sofia always found a way to meddle so the tides turned. “I’ll fix this, I promise.” She had a plan. Would it work? She didn’t know. But it was a plan nevertheless. “Okay, fine. You can take me to papà.” Once her backpack was hanging off her shoulder, the young teen turned to Ricky and for once, she initiated a hug. It was rare when Sofia initiated intimacy. “Thanks for everything, I’ll text you when I’m with the family.”

Well this was weird. Sofi was hugging him? She never hugged him. He always hugged her. Ricky awkwardly brought his hands up to the girl’s back and held her close. He could feel the heat rising in his face so after a while he broke up the hug and took a step back. “I…err, yeah. Discord me when you’re home? Please?” Ricky looked towards Jamie and offered her a brace filled smile. “Thanks for taking her.” He bent down and picked up Nduja, the dog's skin flaps hanging over his hands as she had a wide open smile. Just as the lazy pooch had planned. “Come on you fat shit, let’s go home.” With the dog in his arms, Ricky turned and began walking back towards his home, taking one last look at the girls before he disappeared round the corner.

Jamie pushed her hair behind her ears. Watching these two was actually really sweet. It did make her jealous though. She wasn’t an idiot, she saw how people looked at her, desire in their eyes or ill intent. No one had ever looked at her the way Ricky looked at Sofi…well maybe one person… “Shall we go?”

“Onward to battle, I guess,” Sofi shuffled forward. Instead of paying attention to where she was going first, she sent a text initiating her plan: Operation Crossfire, Codename: Comfort Cub. The text was short and simple: ‘I might’ve fucked up. Can you pick me up at Ricky’s?’ And off the text went to her mom’s best friend, Lydia Anderson. The woman her mom told her everything. It was a 50/50 chance Lydia would go to her mom and out her instead of going to the Ossos, but it was a risk Sofia was willing to take. If all went according to plan, the Mama Bear (unfortunately no kids yet) could distract the Big Bear notoriously known as Bobby Batters. If Bobby was Superman, Lydia, Sofia believed, would be his kryptonite. Or was that too extreme of a comparison? She’d have to ask Ricky later for a better comparison… She doubted Lydia wanted to kill Bobby. Then again, who knows with adults. Cat wanted to kill her dad all day everyday but then again, her mom had a temper. She claimed bloody murder at every slight her father did.

Who could blame her? Even Sofi saw that her father was a good for nothing piece of shit that loved to gaslight his children and manipulate them into believing Cat wasn’t a good mother. Da fuck? From when she was small to presently, Sofia would always be a mama’s girl. Her dad could drown at the bottom of Milligan bridge for all she cared! Anyways, that’s beside the point. Onto the second matter of business, which also caused her to not pay attention to where she was going. The need for candy. Pulling out of her bag a Hubba Bubba Mega Long Bubblegum roll, Sofia politely offered some to the pretty woman in her Aunty Vivia’s year, “Want some? Also,” She locked eyes with the magical unicorn girl, “It’s been a minute since I’ve last seen you. You doing good, Miss Jamie?”

Jamie declined the offering of gum with a raised hand and a shake of her head. She had watched Sofi grow into such a beautiful young woman, though she hadn’t been around all that much thanks to her prolonged time away, she liked to think that they could call each other more than just neighbours or teacher and student (Jamie started as a teacher at Eden the last semester before the current summer). She hoped that they could call each other friends. You doing good? Such a loaded question and Jamie really didn’t want to lie to the girl. She really didn’t want to lie at all. “I’m getting by,” The woman smiled as they climbed the small hill towards the famous or infamous in some circles, Scott Street.

“Same,” Sofi nonchalantly responded back as she shuffled the roll of gum in her mouth, ripping off a long strip and sucking it into her mouth.

“You don’t have to tell me but, why didn’t you go wherever it was you were supposed to go? You said you aren’t supposed to be in Mass.”

Chewing the large piece of gum, taking in all the flavour, Sofi shrugged, “‘Cause my dad’s a prick and I really didn’t want to spend quality time with him.” Chewing in abundance, the young girl slipped the container of gum back into her bag before noticing the fire hydrant that almost rammed right into her. Quickly, Sofi hopped over it, snapped her gum, and continued, “This is supposed to help with the ‘transition’ but I don’t see it helping if he isn’t ever going to change. Dad and sibs in NYC, btdubs.” Sofia began to blow a big, big bubble.

Jamie had caught some gossip about Cat and Tomasso divorcing. It hasn’t really hit the streets fully yet but the desperate housewives of Scott Street were already starting to whisper. There has also been talk that Cat had found herself a new man. No names, only that they think he’s younger. Scandal. That sort of thing really made the O’Hara girl’s blood boil.

“Parents are difficult,” Jamie lamented to the young girl. “My parents have always been together so I can’t really offer any guidance there. What I can say is that every parent is different. You know? Some parents aren’t meant to be parents. Others are built for it. Like, my Dad. I love my Dad but he’s a very practical, goal oriented man. He’s very good at hyping and inspiring but when I graze my knee? Suck it up kiddo and get back out there. He was always Coach. It killed me.” As they turned at the top of the hill, Jamie began to feel extremely light raindrops on her face. “But I had David and I had Lamb, I had people that helped me and loved me even when I was at my worst. Seems to me you already have that. Ricky?”

Fiddling with her fingers by pressing her hands against one another and forcing her bones to crack, Sofia focused her attention ahead, as they turned on Main, the Scott Street gates nearing. Her bubble popped and in her mouth the gum went. “He’s a good friend,” Sofi smiled to herself, already feeling weird that she wasn’t sleeping over his place tonight. They had plans and it ended the moment his siblings came crashing in. “The best even. But how is he going to help me through this? Like, it’s not just that that’s happening. Aunty Viv got kicked out, I caught my cousin doing… shit in a confession booth… and my grandma. Uh, I just have a hard time looking at her. Add that, the divorce, and me just not really caring if I die or not, had my chance when Decker was around… yepp. I don’t know if Ricky could help with any of that.”

This was concerning. This poor girl was struggling so much and Jamie doubted that many people actually saw that, especially because it seemed that everyone was dealing with their own truly depressing issues in this town. “He can’t help fix them but he can be there for you. Support you.” The bright eyed woman reached out and placed her hand upon Sofi’s shoulders as they came upon the gates of Scott Street. “I’ve had my fair share of issues. Still do, trust me but I want you to know, that if you ever need anything you can come to me ok?”

Stopping in front of the gates, Jamie placed her other hand on Sofi’s free shoulder and stood in front of the young girl, looking her directly in the eye with the most sincere and loving gaze that she could muster. It was the same sort of look that she offered David and Clay and all the handful of people that she had allowed to see beyond her walls and into her heart. Sofia reminded her so much of herself at that age. She was fragile, that much was obvious, a glass ballerina trapped in a music box “I’m not just your neighbour Sofi, I’m not just your teacher. I want to be your friend. What do you say? Friends?”

Like mother, like daughter, Sofia looked at the O’Hara woman and self doubt rushed over and through her. Jamie was being earnest, genuine, and true. That much Sofia could see. The beautiful, strong woman that stood before her, holding her in a tender gaze saw her as someone worth her time, someone worth companionship, someone worth…. life. Did Sofi see herself like that? “You really don’t want a friend like me,” the teenage girl anxiously urged. No she didn’t think she was worth it. Not by a long shot.

Sofia might’ve been the prettiest girl in her year but beauty only got you so far. People adored her especially before she got into grunge and weed. They still do but now they don’t bother talking to her. They just look at her in wonder and awe, like she was an art piece that you could see, but not touch. Right on display for others, talked about but never talked to. Never understood.

When Charlie shot her, she thought maybe she should put on a front and people wouldn’t want to get too close. It worked. People didn’t want to get close but they still looked at her all the same like she was an object of desire, not a person. “I doubt you’d get anything out of this,” she snapped her gum, trying to hide her inner turmoil. This was getting too close for comfort. Why was she being so open with someone she barely knew? She knew Jamie but not like her aunts and uncle did. She knew her at a distance, just as Jamie knew her. At a distance.

“Ah but you see that’s where you’re wrong Sofi, I do get something out of this,” Jamie waves her finger as the gates to Scott Street opened up behind them. “I get a friend and I’ll let you in on a secret. I don’t have many of those.” It was true. She has the Elite but even then, they were essentially kids she was forced to befriend. She loved them all in their own unique ways but they were not her choice. Even the Royal Flush Gang, they were friends by happenstance. There were few in her life that Jamie had herself chosen to make a part of it. She wanted to make Sofi part of it. To help her like she wished someone had done for her. “So what do you think? Wanna be my friend?”

No longer chewing her gum, Sofia observed the older woman, who said she didn't have many friends. It was hard to believe when she talked so well. She held herself in a way… that was hard to look past. Seemingly, kept together. Then again, she wasn’t the only one. Sofia tried to be the strong one for her siblings and played it off like she was dead on the inside. Reality was, she cared deeply about everything and no one seemed to notice. No one seemed to care. No one until now. Looking down at her feet, stuffing her hands in her pockets, Sofia mumbled, “Yeah that’s fine, I don’t have many friends either. She kicked a rock to the side, avoiding eye contact, waiting in the awkwardness of this exchange.

“Alright then,” Jamie smiled as the rain began to get heavier and heavier. “Let’s get ourselves indoors before we drown.” An interesting choice of words she had to admit herself but she had been learning not to be triggered by such things anymore. It was all part of her therapy, if she could really call it that anymore. Now it just felt like an Iron mask suffocating her.

If they were going to be friends, might as well start it with: “Race you?”

“Sure! But I must warn you, I was an all star track and field athlete at my school. Three, two, one, GO!” Jamie grinned from ear to ear as the two girls set off onto Scott Street just in time for the storm to catch up with them.


In Edenridge 22 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay
Introducing Eloise Anderson, one of the OG members of Q's Midnight Society

@LovelyComplex @BrutalBx
Timestamp: Monday, Around 1:30 PM

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Eloise “Lolly” Anderson, a.k.a. Echo from the Midnight Society, b.k.a Lydia Anderson’s little sister, c.k.a the one that watched Q’s head get blown to smithereens, was in her gaming chair playing Valorant. She mained Neon who was a total badass. Filipino, just like her. High energy and fun, just like her, at least when she did leave the house and had a social life with Q, Dal, Dean, Oz, Aves, Rosie, and Violet. Now she spends her days gaming all day, everyday. She spent a good year playing League with Marco Brady. Lately though, he hasn’t been as free, which is sad. It sucked when people in her life started having lives.

No matter! Lolly didn’t need any of that! Lolly had everything she needed right here in her bedroom like this TapSiLog plate her Nay fixed for her. On the character sheet screen, having finished a game and loading up for her next, Lolly quickly shoveled the Tapa in her mouth and picked her character. Her love. Her wife. Neon. Lolly liked to consider herself the best gamer that Edenridge had to offer but she didn’t play to win. She played to make friends. Friends with little expectation to ever meet her or want her to visit. There was no need for her to stray away from the nest. Her safehouse.

As for her room, it wasn't disastrous like the rest of the house. Her Nay was a hoarder so making your way to her room was a challenge in itself, but her room itself was comfy, warm, and clean. Smelt good as hell too, tropical and fruity. Just like a nice summer holiday in the Philippines. She loved her room.

Her bed was perfectly made with the softest of blankets and cloud-like pillows. If she did sleep, that would be an amazing place to crash, but she didn’t. If she passed out, it usually was on the chair she was sitting on, this very moment. She had a mini fridge and a microwave and she had energy drinks and bad snacks galore. In terms of decor, it was a cross between her filipino culture — like baskets and frames made out of Raffia palm fiber, or her Mother of Pearl Shells Night Lamp since her country had an abundance in marine life — and geek memorabilia. She was a major geek and a smartass nerd at that.

That was beside the point.

Framed right above her computer were signed autographs from her idols. Like one from Spike Langley! Her and her friends even got a picture with him. One of the last pictures of the Midnight Society together. Couple years back Q took her, Dal, and Dean to Boston Comic Con. Meeting Spike was so cool. Nerdgasm aside, Lolly was content with her little piece of heaven she named her Castle in the Sky. If people wanted to see her, they knew to just come inside. Nine out of ten times she was NOT going to open the door.

Rolling her shoulders, only half ignoring the person in her room sitting on her bed, Lolly prepared for her next game, while explaining it to the other woman, “Do you game Mrs. Shannon? If so, what games? This game you’re either on a bomber team, THE ENEMY, or defending the sites. Defenders win if you kill the foes, blast them, or if you defuse the spike, while attackers, obvi, kill the enemy or KA-BOOM!” The game cued up and she went in, ready to attack, she was ENEMY NUMBER 1.

“Games were never really my thing.”

Shannon very rarely did house calls. She wasn’t against it by any means but the idea of a patient coming to her office was there for a reason. It wasn’t for her benefit, it was for theirs. It was supposed to be a neutral space, free of any worry, doubts, anger or pain that someone may be suffering. It was like Switzerland, a place for those who just need some free ground to talk about what troubles them. It was the perfect place for Shannon to conduct her business. Lolly was one one of a few special cases on her files that needed the mother of two to leave her office.

The practice, which sat on Silver Oak Way, was once her husband's childhood home. Will was the oldest of four, son of local legends Wayne Ramsey and his wife Gail. Wayne was famous in town for his actions during the Camp Eden Massacre of 1974. He barely spoke English but had managed to secure himself a place as a counselor at the newly opened camp. When the Hangman attacked, it was Wayne who protected the children. He fought off the serial killer and held his ground at the mess hall until the authorities arrived. This one, selfless act set the tone for his future. The town accepted him and in return he accepted the town. Wayne funded much of the Southside for a long time before moving away with his wife and passing the reins to the Gonzalez family. The house was Wayne’s wedding gift to Shannon and Will.

Shannon herself grew up on the Southside. Her parents didn’t have a lot. Well they didn’t really have anything. When it became apparent that she had a high IQ, the Ling family's dreams rested very much upon Shannon’s shoulders. She was a mathlete, a chess club champion, a Clover at one point and she was sought after by many of Eden’s most eligible. But Shannon only ever had eyes for one boy, Sly James. They dated for a long time and the way it ended was still a blade in her side all those years later. Still, she loved Will. God she loved him.

“How have you been since our last session. Lolly?”

“PLANT THE BOMB! COME ON GUYS!” Lolly yelled at her teammates before muting her mic and responding to her therapist, never taking her eyes away from the screen, “Nothin’ new boss. I’m vibin’. Survivin’. Full on thrivin’.” Lolly gritted her teeth when she saw one of her teammates get shot down. “Bastards,” She muttered under her breath. “One second!” She glanced over at Shannon, before quickly bringing mayhem upon the field. Die. Die. Die.

Hehehe.

She was a boss bitch. Worship her losers! There was no one who could take her and Neon down. With most of the good team gone, she had one more problem to deal with. “Actually, that isn’t true. One of my friends hasn't been on a lot. I miss him. Did you know while he was recovering, ‘cuz the shooting messed him up, that he spent a whole year, just gaming with me? God, what a life. What a dream. I guess now he has better things to do.” The last part came off bitter because she knew that Marco was getting better, he was moving forward, she was not. “Like get a BOYFRIEND.” Yepp, she was totally bitter.

Shannon sat on the bed taking notes. It wasn’t unusual for Lolly not to make immediate social contact with her. This was nothing new. Much of the young girl's issues could be tackled by social interaction; this was realistically the best medication and therapy she could have. Even now, as they sat in the unGodly hot bedroom, Lolly was online talking to people, lost in a fantasy world with her online friends. Of course, Shannon would prefer interaction with others in a more live action setting but this was progress from where she had previously been.

The shooting at Edenridge High had provided Shannon Ramsey with a list of many new clients. Most of them were there that day, either watching Charlie Decker’s rampage or suffering through wounds he had inflicted upon them. Lolly was one of the former. She had watched as Quinton Woods met up with Charlie in the hallway, words were exchanged and Quinton was blasted in the face with a shotgun. Needless to say he died instantly. Lolly Anderson watched the whole thing. When Roddy Callahan, who had ran into the school in an attempt to help, guided her out of the building B, she was covered in Quinton’s blood. In so many ways, even to this day, she still was.

“And what about you?” She asked. “Have you been researching like I asked to see what else you might be willing to do outside these four walls? There’s a lot of opportunities out there for strong ass Asian girls like us.”

As if the gods were timed to benefit Shannon, or she had talked to Lolly’s mother (plotting an experiment), the electricity of the house turned off, forcing Eloise’s computer to shut down. “W-what! No, no, no! I was JUST about to win.” Getting up from her seat, she rushed to the window to see the weather, “It hasn’t even started raining yet! Why are we having an outage? NAY! NAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY! THE LIGHTS TURNED THE FU-- FUDGE OFF!”

“Lolly?” Shannon tilted her head and offered up a warm, comforting smile to the young girl. She reached out her hand. “It’s gonna be ok. Come here, we’ll talk until the power is back on and then I’ll leave you to your game. Sound like a plan?” This would be a first. Lolly Anderson without any gaming stimuli. This would be a true test of Mrs Ramsey’s abilities as a therapist. “So, how about this? Ask me a question. Any question you want about anything and I’ll give you a God’s honest answer? Then I’ll do the same.”

“Oh… well…” Eloise’s demeanor changed drastically, no longer having her PC to distract her. The once outspoken gamer girl was now a shell of a person, her purpose non-existent. Video games covered up her pain easily but without them? It was clear she didn’t know how to act or what to do with herself. Now she was in the dark, only the light coming from the window to guide her, with her therapist.

Hesitant, Lolly stood at the window looking at Shannon and the hand she offered. Maybe she wouldn’t ask about the past? It was a risk to trust her but maybe that’s what Q would’ve wanted her to do. He did love Mei and this was her mother. Sucking her lips inward, Lolly shuffled closer to Shannon and grabbed her hand. When she did so, she was pulled beside the older woman and found herself sitting beside her, like friends would if they stood up all night talking about anything and everything.

Making a popping sound with her lips, Lolly held the woman’s hand in both of hers and stared at it. “A question…” She said out loud, trying to gather all the thoughts she had of Mrs. Ramsey and if she wanted to know anything about her. She hadn’t needed to do this since… well, since Dallas introduced Q, Dean, Avery, and the rest of the Swerve Arcana crew to her. To make friends you have to show you care and that you want to know more about them beyond what was on the surface. On the surface, Mrs. Ramsey seemed to have it all together. She was such a strong woman. Confident too. On the surface, she seemed happy. With a lovely KICKASS husband (Will was cool, she liked him. He was a NINJA), a good paying job, and stupidly hot daughters.

Reagan was like a dominatrix fetish while Mei was a hot-goth-girl-wet-dream. She might’ve not attended Edenridge High, and being on the school grounds during the shooting was pure bad luck on her part, but she knew faces. When you’ve lived here all your life you start to know names. Plus, she has the internet! It’s easy to look up intel when you have the internet on your side.

“I guess,” Lolly started playing with Shannon’s hand, like it was an item you fidget with when you’re nervous, “How did you become so… perfect? My mom is a mess, she’s made me scared of the world… my dad’s a mess, he isn't always there, if that makes sense. Like he’s here. Physically. But a lot of times it’s like I’m talking to a ghost? Lydia tells me he’s gotten better since her mama died, but it still is hard to talk to him. And like, Lydia tries. She really does. But I know she’s so sad. She lost her mom, her best friend, she hasn’t told many people but… she lost a baby too. She’s just really sad but she always tries to take care of us. I don’t know. You seem happy, there must be a secret. What’s yours?”

Shannon’s dark eyes fell upon Lolly’s hands as they played with her own. She had seen this sort of behaviour in kids with ADHD, ADD or even just hyperactivity. It was a comforting gesture for them, so she allowed it to continue. She didn’t really mind, “Perfect? I’m so far from perfect, Lolly, it’s not even funny,” The therapist offered up her youthful smile to the young girl. She wanted her to know that she was her friend as well as her doctor. “But, I can tell you how I keep myself together.” The older woman had to compartmentalise the part about Lydia having an abortion. She had not told her that! Still, it wasn’t her place to bring it up when they were together, Lyds would tell her in her own time,

“My mother was a Southsider. Bit of a mess actually. She met my Dad, who could barely speak a lick of English when he found his way to Eden from Beijing. If anything it was a marriage of convenience to start but eventually, love did blossom. You know I didn’t speak English until I was ten? My father insisted I speak only Mandarin but my mother, who was of Irish descent, used to teach me English on the side. It became clear to me, as a Southsider that less was expected of me, that I would just be another statistic. I HATED that. The very idea offended me. I always wanted more.”

Shannon took Lolly’s hand in between her own and held them gently, motherly. “So I worked my ass off. I had a boyfriend, total dreamboat, still is but we went our different ways. I focused solely on my education, which I know, Asian stereotype but it was just the way it was. I saw all these kids around fighting drugs and poverty and violence and I needed to help but I also needed to be better. I had to be better.” She glanced out of the window at her home, her town. Despite all the years of schooling and education, she would never leave. She hadn’t finished yet. “When I got my PHD, I came back, set up shop and decided to try and better the people I cared about. The kids. Like you, Lolly. I want to make you better and give you a chance that so many of my friends and family never got. So, how do I keep myself together? What’s my secret? You are. My kids are. Helping you. No matter what happens elsewhere in my life, the good and the bad. What makes me perfect, is making you feel better.”

“So you’re either telling me to have kids, which is wild because I’m a kid myself, become a therapist like you, which is also wild because I shouldn’t be telling people how to live their life when I don’t ever want to leave my room, or that… helping others helps make you feel better, which could do the same for me?” This was a lot for Eloise to process. She didn’t want to be a mother! Her mother could barely be a mother. The world would end if people came to her for advice like they went to Mrs. Ramsey, or hell, Avery! Some people were built differently. “I will say RIGHT NOW. I’ve never even DATED before! So the kids is a no go. Operation FAIL.”

Letting out a soft giggle, Shannon’s smile widened. She really liked Lolly. She reminded her a lot of herself when she was her age. Except by that point in her life, Shannon was a stone cold bitch slapping the taste out of the mouths of anyone that looked at her funny. You could take the girl out of the Southside…”No honey, I’m not telling you to have kids or anything of that sort. My point is that we all need something that drives us. That pushes us. That grabs us and drags us kicking and screaming into the light even if we think we don’t want it to. For me, that’s therapy. For you, it could be games. Writing. An outlet for your feelings but also something that helps build you up,” She gestured to the surrounding nerd shrine that encased the two raven-haired women. “And for the record, I was a total dweeb when I was your age. Small towns like this, not big fans of the little yellow girl with an accent. Took me a while to get into the dating game.”

“Is that your question?” Lolly gazed up at the motherly figure, not sure if this was her asking what she was going to do to make herself better or not, or if she was simply stating what helped her. “We both know games help, to a point. And I imagine writing would do the same. All my hobbies would help, to a point. But they’re also part of the problem,” The Filipino girl earnestly admitted.

"My question, Eloise…" She used the young girl's full name for emphasis as any good mother would. "…not thinking about Lydia or your parents. What would make you happy? What my little love, do you want?”

Woof. That was a loaded question. “I don’t really have a purpose, Mrs. Shannon. Like… everything I do is like clockwork. At least when—” Eloise looked away from her therapist, biting the inside of her cheek in hopes that she wouldn’t get sad at the mention of his name, “—At least when… Q… was alive, I had a family and I had adventures. Dal comes to see me occasionally, she’s my best friend, but I have a hard time seeing Dean. He was so close to Q and I’m sure when he heard how, how things went, I can only imagine. I don’t know what I want to do with my life. I don’t know where I want to go but I do know what I miss. I miss my family and I miss our adventures.”

There it was. Adventures. Shannon couldn’t bring back Quinton Woods and she couldn’t guarantee that her friends would be the same. They had all gone through so much pain, much like her own youngest. Mei, for all her bravado and all her gutter talk, was still absolutely terrified. Waking up every night to her screaming Charlie’s name, clutching at the fresh scar on her neck as it wept puss and blood. It broke Shannon’s heart. Yet the one thing Mei could never lose was her adventurous spirit. ”Then I think I have your next homework assignment. Before our next session, Lolly, I want you to go on an adventure. I want you to leave these four walls, talk to a stranger and see what happens. Feel the wind on your face, the rain in your hands….” The woman’s lips parted as she smiled a little more, remembering something Mei had once told her about Q’s little club, his society. ”I submit for the approval of the Midnight Society, the Tale of Eloise the Adventurer”

“I…” Lolly thought about Shannon’s words and all the people she missed, all the adventures of her past and how reliant she was on everyone else to start something. Very unlike her DnD character named after one of her role models. Oz the Changeling. Oz was a risk taker. They got into a lot of trouble and a lot of messes but at least they lived. “I can do that. Yeah, I’ll go all Indiana Jones in this piece. Edenridge won’t know what hit ‘em!”

”Then I guess our time is up for this week.” Almost supernaturally, the paper all of a sudden returned. Shannon let her eyes adjust a little to the light before standing up and brushing a loose strand of hair behind Lolly’s ear. ”Onwards to adventure, little love.”

“You too, Mrs. Shannon! Adventure isn’t just for kids like me, even if you do have therapy. I’d love to hear about one of your adventures next time too.” Lolly proudly stood up, feeling accomplished that she survived this session. And as if the gods were back in her favor, the electricity turned on! But instead of jumping to her computer, she went to her bulletboard and took off the picture of her Swerve family. The Midnight Society. Maybe going outside again wouldn’t be so bad.
In Edenridge 26 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay
TIMESTAMP: Monday, July 19th, 2021; Half past noon, after the A Perfect Day Collab




A [@Lovely Complex], @Aces Away & @Venus Collab || featuring Findley Nelson, Xavier Booker and Chase Warren
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When Findley Nelson had been informed that today would be the day that she would meet Chase's newest ‘friend’, the young woman had been nothing short of ecstatic. For as long as she could remember, Chase Warren hadn't shown an interest in anything other than his family, heavy rock music and beating bullies up with whatever he could find. Interpersonal relationships of any kind, be it romantic or platonic, were not something he actively sought after. It wasn't that he didn't have qualities that people would look for in a potential partner: he was handsome, intelligent, independent, caring, incredibly resourceful, and would put his life on the line to protect those who deserved it without a second thought. His problem was that, because of the cards he'd been dealt in life, he tended to push people away with his limited impulse control, sharp tongue, blunt demeanor and violent streak. But ever since the Disney Princess From The Northside had entered his life, Fin had noticed heaps of positive changes in her close friend's life. He seemed happier, more hopeful, and was allowing himself to dream of a life beyond being a high school dropout delivery boy. She could tell, by the way his eyes lit up when she came up in conversation and how often he smiled now, that he was falling for this girl. And Fin was more than happy to help him navigate this new adventure.

The introduction picnic was to take place at one of the tables and benches in Lyon's Park at noon. It was the perfect time to do it, too. Fin had gotten plenty of hours of good sleep the night before, and being in the middle of her second trimester meant that the energy levels that had been sapped away from her in the first trimester were now restored and at an all-time high. So at five minutes to noon, the appointed mother hen of the Southies was occupied wiping the seats and picnic tables at the park, and organizing the items her dutiful boyfriend Xavier and Chase were unloading from the car.

“Have you guys heard from Ransom and Dutchess yet?" Findley asked the young men with a little huff, taking a break from her cleaning to lean against the table and rub an affectionate hand on her round stomach. It seemed like her daughter could sense the excitement in the air, because she had been kicking up a storm and making it a little harder to breathe. "I asked her to bring the ice and drinks a few hours ago, but I haven’t heard from her since."

Holding three large deep foil trays with honey barbecue, barbecue, and buffalo wings, TNT looked at Prof in a way that read ‘should I tell her?’. He didn’t think it was his place to tell his best friend about all the events that transpired this past night (or well early morning). He told Prof just in case, who knows if they’d need to do damage control, seeing how Ransom, a taken man, was in the Sinclair house with two young, single northie chicks. It was beyond their control and Chase could, and would, vouch for his boy. Ransom was innocent and he did nothing.

Well, if Ransom did tell Dutchess everything, from the car ride to them eating pie with Autumn and Carrie… heh, rest in pieces, man. Dutchess wouldn’t take it as nothing. Dutchess would likely see him as disloyal. It didn’t help that they already had a shaky relationship due to Tov enabling him and vice versa. The thing TNT was learning real quick about the female species was they worried about many things, so many things. You miss one goodnight? She might think you’re mad at her. You don’t send a good morning text? She might think you’re mad at her. You don’t remind her you’re thinking about her? She might think you’re mad at her. You don’t make time to see her every so often, like take her out on a joy ride, walk Main Street and check out some records, or watch Legally Blonde? She might think you’re mad at her.

There was no winning. Not when there was a girl that made you better and she expected more from you. Striding his way down the pathway, looking at Fin with a straight face, in an ironed black t-shirt that fitted him well, black jeans, and matching boots, TNT shrugged, “Hell if I know. We were out for a bit.” He met her gaze, trying his best to cover Ransom’s tail without putting him on blast. “Could still be sleeping,” Chase added.

His hair was growing out. He hadn’t decided if he should cut it or let it grow yet, so instead he sleeked it back. Hopefully, he looked nice. He didn’t have an array of clothes so these were his pieces that were the least worn. He had multiple black shirts, mind you, this was just the one in the best condition. He should’ve made time and shopped for a new outfit, knowing Tiff she was coming in like a supermodel. Christ, he needed to chill. Why was he worried about this shit anyways? He never cared before. Today made no difference.

Xavier Booker continued helping his girlfriend and friend set up the picnic table, silently laughing at the internal conflict he could read across Chase's face. Whether or not Ransom told Prof's baby cousin about their adventure last night was irrelevant because despite the constant arguments with the man when he was by her side, she could handle being away from him even less. Any thoughts that someone could take him away from her would cause a reaction that was equal parts petty and violent. Dolce really never seemed to have developed any of the Booker calm outside of not reacting to her siblings' jokes and taunts. Unlike much of her family, himself included, who went cold and calculative when facing an obstacle, Dolce went more the route of her lover and their shared best friend in that things got… Explosive.

Keeping anything from Findley, however, was a mistake he would never even dream to make. Honestly, Chase should know better by now. Sliding up behind his love and pressing against her back, hands reaching forward to rest on her baby bump, Prof kissed the back of her head. "Short version is things got a little wild on the Northside early this mornin' and they ended up at the Doctor's house havin' pie with his daughters and usin' their first aid kit. That's all Dolce needed to hear to flip her lid when Ran told her. He spent the night at Demo's and passed out in bed with Tov, so Demo's going to bring them both up."

He almost felt bad for Ransom. Almost. Because while he'd lived in Serpent dorms and apartments since the death of his mother, there was a while where Shale had assumed guardianship over him until he could become an emancipated minor. They had never forced Xavier to live with them and Dolce, but they did request he and Findley always stop by for meals. It was a smart way to make sure Xavier stayed connected to his family and cousins, ensuring a strong foundation for the young genius to continue building off of. So Xavier grew up seeing Dolce as more of a younger sibling than a younger cousin. Meaning that, much like Ducaleon and Leonidas, he didn't think that anyone would be good enough for her. Did he think the man would cheat? Absolutely not, while their relationship is actually defined at least. Did he find it a little funny when he brings hell raining down upon himself due to a stupid night of drinking? Absolutely.

"Maybe we just avoid startin' that conversation if we can, yeah?"

Findley pressed her lips together in a tight line and merely nodded. “Guess that explains why she sounded like she had a bad case of laryngitis when I called her this morning…” she muttered under her breath, deciding to keep the rest of the thoughts to herself. The difficult part about dating someone you were raised with was that they knew everything about you-- the good, the bad, and the ugly--, and they could use this knowledge to either build you up or tear you down. It wasn’t that Ransom and Dutchess actively sought out to hurt each other-- not on purpose, anyway. Their biggest problem was that they failed to use their knowledge of one another to nurture what they had. She knew that relationships like hers and Xavier’s were a dime a dozen-- she wasn’t clueless, idealistic or naive. But her take on Callum and Dolce’s relationship had always been the same: they both needed a lot of growing up to do, heaps more communication, and learning how to compromise equally. Until they reached a point in which they committed to putting in real effort to fully understand one another and improve, then they’d never find the peace and happiness they deserved.

But these were musings best saved for a better day. Today was all about helping Chase land this very special surprise for his very special girl.

“In that case-- what else are we missing?” Fin asked the two men, straightening up and looking around the table for a quick inventory. “We’ve got the cutlery, the plates, the napkins, ice and drinks are hopefully on the way… What about the food? I know you’re about to get the wings from the backseat, Chase, but what about the rest of it?”

“I’ll go get it, love, rest up for a little bit,” Prof announced before heading over to their cars to get the veggie and fruit trays from the front seat, calling over his shoulder, “You’ve been moving since before we even got here!” while he made his way. They weren’t anything special, just store bought assortment trays you see at almost any medium sized gathering. He had brought some platters from their house to set everything out on, however, in a small gesture to Chase to show that he too was happy to be meeting the Northie girl that had captured his attention. Looking at the stack he would be carrying, Prof eyed the Hawaiian rolls for a moment until he came to a decision and grabbed the bag, gripping the plastic between his teeth before grabbing the trays and platters and heading back to his love, trying not to look at the glovebox as he closed the door behind him. Today was for Chase and Tiffannie’s happiness so he could wait a few more hours to pull out that small velvet box and show his own intentions of a new level of relationship with his own blonde. Setting everything on the table, Prof grinned at Fin and began transferring the appetizers to their platters. He looked back towards the cars to the explosive man they were all going to be there for.

After winking at her boyfriend, Findley shifted her attention to Chase, who was dangerously trying to juggle all three trays of wings from the car to the picnic table. As she watched the questionable way the aluminum trays were stacked on top of each other, her maternal instincts kicked up immediately. “That looks like a lot, Chase. Is it okay if I help you with those?" she kindly asked the dark-haired man, moving away from the table in preparation to assist him.

Chase hadn’t made it to the table because his phone had started ringing. He knew exactly who was calling. He didn’t have any special ringtones, he just knew there was only one person that would call him. He didn’t get many calls from anyone else, mostly texts. He debated how to move forward. Reach for his phone or go to the table first. He was holding three large trays of wings. The logical route was to go to the table first. With all his nerves, he wasn’t thinking clearly so instead he shifted the trays and reached for his phone (all the while walking). Following afterwards, TNT tripped and the wings flew out of his grasp and straight to the ground. Somehow, each tray opened up and the wings splattered everywhere. Honey BBQ, BBQ, buffalo sauce and meat covered the grass, like a murder scene.

Fuck.

No sooner than the words had left her mouth, Findley watched as Chase made a split-second decision to reach for his cell phone and tripped in the process. With the sudden change in weight distribution and an already jeopardized arrangement, the trays had slid from his hands and fallen on the floor. As she assessed the damage of the wings now littering their vicinity, Fin moved her attention to Chase and immediately grimaced at what she could read all over his face.

Uh oh…

At the fifth ring, he picked up the phone and swallowed his seething anger. He didn’t need to come across as angry at Tiff. Knowing her, she would blame herself for his anger-- she always did. She should expect a good time, not a bad time. It wasn’t her fault his coping skills sucked. With pursed lips, he listened to her frantic words on the other end. He took a deep breath in, and then out, before replying. “It’s going to be okay.”

Furrowing his eyebrows, stressed out how everything was going wrong and how he ruined his date before it even started, Chase looked away from his friends, clenching his free hand into a fist. It was fine. She wasn’t going to be disappointed. He was overthinking - just because the main entree was now ant food didn’t mean she wouldn’t have a good time. There were still many positive things yet to come. There were still reasons for her to smile. There were still people willing to support him through this mishap.

You didn’t ruin anything.

“Don’t worry about it. It’s good. You’re good. I’m good. We’re both good.” The more he talked the more he realized he was trying to convince himself that this wasn’t the end. He had royally fucked up everything all because he wasn’t thinking. Of course he thought he could shorten prep time by carrying too much. Of course he’d trip and drop it all. Of course he’d ruin his chances because this was him and he was filled with bad-fucking-luck. A classic Chase move, honestly.

Clenching his teeth while listening to her, the boiling sensation never leaving him, knowing it only took one word he’d lose it, Chase strongly stated, “We’re going to be okay.” Right now he needed her to stop crying so he could focus on how he could fix this. It was so hard to end conversations when she got like this. It hurt hearing her cry. He could imagine how her face was with every word. It hurt more so because it was his fault for setting the bar so high.

Wanting to clarify, to make sure she was on the same page, he asked, “Understand, Tiff?” Chase was no longer paying attention to anyone but the woman he was talking on the phone with. At least on the surface, he looked like he was calming down and that was likely thanks to him hearing her voice. At least on the surface, there was no sight of the blazing inferno inside his skinny body. At least on the surface, he seemed okay.

“I guess I shouldn’t have asked…” Prof stated blandly as he watched the chaos that just unfolded before him and his girlfriend, both of whom were too far away to stop any of the dominoes from falling. He kept his tone low despite the distance, not wanting to upset Chase any more than the man already was. Taking a deep breath for himself as he watched Chase do the same for his phone call, the chemist interlocked his fingers behind his head and stared at the sky for a moment to shift his focus from the wing massacre. He looked at the trees and took in how the leaves had turned their undersides to the sky in preparation for a coming storm, one that the humans in the park could just barely feel the stirrings of now. There are signs of change everywhere, if you knew how to look.

“I’ll text Demo,” he finally said to the blonde beside him as he let his eyes fall on Chase’s form once more, and he was a bit surprised to see how well Chase had controlled his physical response while he spoke into his cell. Pulling out his own cell, the serpent moved back to rest against the picnic table and update Chase and Ollie’s father of the situation. “Are you gonna check on him or does he need to be alone right now?” He asked Findley belatedly, realizing that looking calm and being calm have always been two very different monsters for Chase to tackle.

Findley silently shook her head to the first option and nodded her head to the second one. "Would you approach a wolf when it's baring its teeth and they're foaming at the mouth?" the blonde asked her boyfriend in a low voice. Having the insight into Chase's personality like she did, she knew better than to approach him in the middle of a stressful situation like this. He wasn't just angry or upset-- he was seething, and trying his damndest to not let it show. The signs were all there, crystal clear for those who knew where to look: the clenched teeth, the tense muscles, the octave drop in his tone of voice… To go near him right now would be a suicide mission. He wasn't called TNT for no reason.

She took Xavier's silence as her answer. "Exactly. All we can do right now is pick up these wings from the floor and give him some space to go wild for a bit before we even say a word to him."

“I think I’ll wait for him to be further away from them before I try to go near them. I’m not lookin’ to be the last thing that sets him off,” he replied back, following his girlfriend’s logic. He looked back down to his phone to send the text he’d drafted, and with a single tap it was on its way to Demo. “You know that Demo’s not gonna have any back up food, so what are we gonna do to fix… that part of this situation?”

Fin's mind raced with the potential solutions to the problem, and it wasn't long before her quick, sharp mind came up with something. "We could always get some loaves of French bread, different kinds of lunch meat and some toppings from the grocery store and set it up like a self-serve sandwich bar?" she proposed. "It's quick, cheap and super easy to put together in a pinch like this one."

“That’s a good idea,” Prof complimented his girlfriend with a kiss to the top of her head, pulling out his phone again as it buzzed and glancing at the new message. “Oh, the guys are already on the way. Dolce still hasn’t replied to me yet.” That girl, he swears, if she’s crying in her room instead of heading over he’d throw her under the bus to Shale.

“Good. See you soon.” The moment Chase was no longer on the call his phone went flying out of his hand and straight into the tree by the picnic table, shattering it. He needed to calm down. This wasn’t a big deal. It really wasn’t. He just ruined his goddamn date. On top of that, it was his fault that Tiff overslept. He should’ve told her to go the fuck to sleep and deal with her tears later, instead of keep her up 4am in the fucking morning. He fucked up and that’s all he could hear in his head.

You’re a fuck up.

You’re a fuck up.

You’re a fuck up.

His violent temper was about to erupt, and to all those that did know him, knew it was the result of trauma. A lot of fucking trauma. Chase never learned how to cope and by the time Demo took him in, it was too late. Some people were born to handle temporary stress, temporary rises in the brain, temporary pain to the body, to the heart, and to the mind, but not consistently, everyday, for years and as a child no less. Chase, or now TNT, was a victim to his inner storm, an erratic soldier combating PTSD.

He fucked up.

Cracking his knuckles and his neck, his mind and body went on auto pilot. He trudged to the picnic table and angrily swiped the food off. This was his mindscape. His own personal hell. Everything that was set up thus far was getting thrown off in every direction, like the rage scene in The Shining where Jack Torrance tosses shit aside. A few soda cans darted toward Prof and Fin, the Hawaiian rolls tragically kissed the dirt, and all the appetizers were no longer appetizing. TNT was livid. He was so heated that he grabbed the picnic table and flipped it the fuck over, then proceeded to kick the benches so they were no longer standing upright. When his phone was in sight, he stomped on it a couple of times. Fuck him for even trying.

As soon as TNT made his way towards them, or rather the picnic table Prof had been leaning against, the logical man pushed off of it and took himself and his girlfriend a few healthy strides away from the object of their friend's ire, though they weren't able to get too far before he'd reached it. The strength with which Chase was violently swiping things off the table meant there wasn't really a safe distance and Prof found himself pushing Findley behind him when the cans came flying in their direction, most either flying passed them or hitting his chest, but one can caught him across the lower part of his face hard enough to make his teeth clatter together. To make matters worse, one of the platters Chase cast to the earth had been his mother's, and Prof only brought it out for special occasions. Watching the ceramic hit the patchy grass and break into several pieces sent his heart into his throat and it throbbed along with fat lip and growing bruise from the full soda can. His shoulders were rigid and squared as he stood like a shield between the chaos and his pregnant girlfriend, clenching and unclenching his fists as he forced himself to remain steady in the face of TNT's explosion.

Just as she recognized some of the workings of Chase’s mind, Findley recognized those of her life partner. The rigid posture, the clenching of fists, the sudden drop in any friendly, approachable demeanor… The few times she had seen Xavier get like this, what often followed was bodies being pushed against walls or floors, fists colliding with jaws and noses, an unrecognizable absence of any readable emotion in his face. When it seemed like any harm was coming to his loved ones, Xavier went from the friendly, good-natured man the Southies called 'Dad' to the fiercest of protectors. But because she knew any actions could only aggravate the volatile situation, Fin knew it was her duty to try and de-escalate the anger of at least one of her current companions.

“Xavier, stay calm,” Findley whispered in Prof’s ear as she tightly held onto his arm, a silent plea in her voice for her boyfriend to maintain his composure during this nerve-racking situation. As anxious and scared as she got whenever the scorching volcano that was Chase’s temper erupted, she knew that showing her feelings would only put Xavier more on edge. They needed to be the level-headed adults in this situation. “He’s not himself right now. Please don’t take any of this personally. It’ll make him feel worse when he snaps out of it.”

"I know babe," he answered back, posture still rigid and face showing a complete detachment from his emotions. He knew Chase and he knew the younger man wasn’t in control of himself right now. He knew that when the rampage was over he’d come back to himself and feel like shit for everything he didn’t even remember doing. He’d seen it in damn near every Carlisle crew member at least once over the years, but it’s been chronic for Chase for as long as they’ve really known the pale man. It never really got any easier for anyone to see. “I’m calm,” Xavier assured amidst his thoughts, keeping an eye on Chase’s slow path of destruction. "I can fix a platter…maybe, it’s just an object in the end, I guess,” he rationalized out loud, following with, But if he hurts you at all then I'm perfectly prepared to calm him down the hard way," the older man promised darkly, allowing his girlfriend to pull him back and closer to her, the two of them taking a few more slow steps back. He may not be a fighter at the Pit, but that was because he didn’t fight for fun or for money, he fought to put an end to something, and if Chase was close to bringing harm to Findley and their baby then that made him a temporary threat that needed to be dealt with.

“He wouldn't do that," Findley assured Xavier, resting her chin on his shoulder. “TNT may be what he is, but I know he wouldn't hurt me. Please trust me on this."

Luckily for everyone involved, it seemed Chase’s chaos was headed for the other side of the picnic area now. “Okay,” Prof breathed out softly. “Okay.”

In time, after causing havoc on their general area, which includes kicking down the park trash bin and slamming his right fist into a nearby tree numerous times, TNT was all out of steam and Chase was back in control. There was a moment of silence while he looked at his bloody hand. Wounds he made a few days ago, reopening. He had just gotten the bandaid off yesterday too. Looking over his shoulder, he saw the mess he made and he saw the two watching him, trying to hide their fear and anger. The darkness crept over him as quickly as the anger did moments ago.

He ruined everything.

How could an LA girl ever like someone like him? Tiffannie was born in a world he would never understand and with how genuinely she felt about everyone and everything, this would kill her. She could never like someone so deeply disturbed and even if she did, she deserved so much better. How could he keep her safe if he didn’t know what made him tick? How could he protect her if he couldn’t even protect his little brother? How could he make her happy when he didn’t even know what happiness was?

Chase rested his bloody hand on his face, covering his eyes, as the image of his birth parents flashed so quickly. Memories he tried so hard to suppress, like him and his brother hiding in the basement, listening to Metallica or Ozzy Osbourne. The screams and malicious attacks, the loud noises of glass breaking and furniture being thrown around, the words that cut his and his brother’s hearts like a sharp dagger would; all these sounds rang in his ears like it was only yesterday.

He could see it.

That smile, his father’s awful fucking smile… imprinted on his mind.

And then it got worse.

He saw Zippo, or Fiona Dawson, his chosen mother, the one he loved with all his heart, die on the hospital bed. Just die. He was powerless. He had no control over misery and death. He couldn’t protect anyone. He was useless. Why did he ever think he could make this work with Tiff? Why did he ever think he deserved her? And just like that, the tears silently ran down Chase’s face. He hadn’t cried in so long. What the fuck was this? Overcome with emotion, the suffering Warren kid, one of Demo’s and Zippo’s firecrackers, ran like a bat out of hell.

Wait! No, Chase--- WAIT!"

But he was gone. Just like that. Beaten, broken, and bruised, he couldn’t pretend to be okay. No, not in front of Tiffannie. He was NOT okay. In a blink of an eye, Chase Warren was running away from his problem.

Just like that.

He was gone.


In Edenridge 27 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay
TW: Suicide Ideation/Attempt


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Thursday, December 21, 2017
In an alleyway by the drugstore

His head was pounding.

And he was shivering. Or sweating. He couldn't tell.

Every morning he woke up like he was going through a daze. Niles tried to cling to the things that made him happy which meant he clung to Natalia because that’s all he had. There was Gavriel too but even then their time together was limited. The most time they spent was when they both were in the clinic hanging out. Being sons of doctors had its perks.

He didn’t understand why the moment he even entertained having friends outside him and Natalia she’d get incredibly insecure and panic. Natalia and him had a deal and that was they would explore each other but there would be no strings attached. In Niles’ opinion, dating was overrated and made relationships complicated. By being friends with benefits everything could stay the same, the only difference was now they had sex. A lot of fucking sex.

Even with the comfort of pleasure, Niles still found himself lost, searching for Neverland. It was almost midnight and here he was, sitting on the ground in an alleyway, beaten and bruised. Honestly, he didn’t remember who he started shit with, but here he was, exhausted and unable to move.

Niles blankly stared at the brick wall ahead of me. With no energy to pick himself up, his body slouched to one side, the doctor’s son reached for his phone and debated if he should call Natalia or send a text. He had reached a point in his day where all there was was fog in his brain. He couldn’t feel his body anymore which was great, it matched his insides. He preferred to feel this way. To feel nothing.

If he told her about this, a repeat of last time would happen and he would make her cry. Natalia was always scared one day he would end his life. That’s why she called so much, that’s why she checked on him so much, that’s why she spent all the time she could at his side… that’s why she didn’t want anyone to ruin what they had.

Huh.

Is that why she didn’t let him have friends?

Niles wondered what she was up to. She’s supposed to be studying for her history exam. They promised each other that they wouldn’t distract one another. That was a lie since all last night they had video sex. Microdosing so that they could succeed this week. Her hot bodice aside, he needed her to focus and to not worry about him so much. She was going to anyway but if there was one thing he learned quickly about the Belmonte family, Taz took his children’s grades extremely serious and he didn’t need that added grief if Natalia got bad marks. They were lucky enough that Taz had no idea they were fucking. Perks of getting with the favorite Belmonte 7, amiright?

While Niles did want her to focus on herself, he knew she wouldn’t. He knew she was likely planning to do something special for him because she never forgot anything that mattered, especially not when it came to him. Certainly not his mother’s death day, which was tomorrow. Carrie called it her angelversary which was her way of optimistically looking at death like there was somewhere you went after you died like Neverland. Or Wonderland. Or Hell. Depends on your perspective.

Truth be told, he didn’t care about what was at the end of life. All he cared about was ending his life. No matter how much time came and went, he couldn’t scream, he couldn’t cry, he couldn’t even admit to anyone that he wasn’t okay. He was far from okay. All he could do was be, just be.

Being numb was much better than the monster he fought everyday. He liked it this way. Everytime he thought he was making progress, he found himself falling back into bad habits, falling back into this crippling, agonizing grief, and falling back into this place where he could hear a voice telling him that death was a cure for all lost boys. Death would take away the loneliness. Death would take you away from all reality. Death would take you to a place without pain. Niles could shut it all off and be free. All he had to do was kill himself.

Unfortunately, what didn’t help his depression was his father. Hector Sinclair tried to dictate how he grieved, how all of them grieved. Believe it or not, his father was fighting worse demons than all his children combined but that didn’t give him the right to tell them how to process their grief. How they should cope with their depression.

They lost their fucking mother. Hector had no relationship with his mother, he chose to lose her but Niles? Autumn? Carrie? They didn’t have a choice. A baby died that day and took her with them. Maybe it helped his father to move on and sleep around, maybe it helped his father to tell him to grow up and honor her by living life, maybe it helped his father to pretend. But it didn’t help Niles, especially when he knew that Hector didn’t care about anyone but himself. That Hector was just as much to blame for his mom’s death as the dead baby was.

His mother, his beautiful mother, she lived in his head like Peter Pan. She was forever beautiful, forever youthful, forever in his heart. Never changing. She was. And never will be. She was very much alive in his head and that’s what made the arguments, the disagreements, the fights with his father more hard to deal with.

His father had a temper but so did he. They didn’t hurt each other physically nor did they explode like someone with anger management issues. No, they used words and let them cut deep. So deep. And now Niles was in an alleyway thinking about those words that rang in his ears like white noise.

”Look at yourself… your mom would be crying right now if she saw you.”

“Get over it, Niles. You’re not solving anything by moping around."

“Are you fucking serious? Detention again? If you don’t get your act together, you’re getting sent away. Join your cousin at Camden."

“I brought you into this world and I can take you out, boy.”

People told him time heals but that wasn’t true at all. Before Niles realized, he had texted both Natalia and Rye: I’m giving up, sorry.

Time kept moving and he still felt like shit. Wait, this was more than feeling like shit and there was a reason why he was fading. A feeling, this fading, rushed over him. He felt like a kid again, where he could imagine his mom tucking him in because he had woken her up telling her it was too dark. It wasn’t the dark he was afraid of. It was hearing her argue with dad. He was so weary and so tired. Was that all he wanted? Was all he needed was his mom to kiss him goodnight and tuck him in?

Glancing to his side he saw prescription pills, they weren’t even his pills, and an empty bottle of Benadryl. He was getting better at hiding his isolation. Using sex covered the issues up easy. Made her not worry about him. He was getting better at this, even somehow managing to still send a cryptic message.

Was it finally happening? Was he finally going to Neverland?

Shit.

Darkness overcame him and his body slumped in the alleyway.


TIMESTAMP: Flashback, Yesterday, Sunday (July 18th)







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Devil in a bottle, Cat stood by her small side table where she had an Italian crafted decanter filled with some of her father’s favorite scotch, Johnnie Walker. Beside the decanter were four whiskey glasses to match the set. Her kids had left with their father yesterday to be in New York for about a week. She replayed Thursday night when she and her husband sat down to tell them about the divorce. All she could see was the conflicted emotions shown in each of their faces. Was she doing the right thing?

The idea of a perfect family was crumbling in front of them. They’re confronted by the reality that all their life they've been lied to. Lied about happily ever afters, lied about their father being loyal and their mother being strong, and lied about love. Once she poured herself a glass, thinking her workers had left for the day and she had the shop to herself, Cat took a sip of the one thing that has kept her afloat this long. She had family, friends, and now she had Clay. Still, she struggled because without this drink, she’d have a hard time covering up the tears. She’d have a hard time admitting to herself all her shortcomings. She’d have a hard time being happy.

Cat was tired, worn, and torn by this provincial town she lived in, and her family. Especially her family. She turned to booze because when her head was full of it, she truly believed it could cure her from this endless struggle. It was only a week since the doctor told her how long her mother had and shortly after, she found herself taking out her bible that had picked up dust over the years. She went to church every Sunday but that didn’t make her a devout Christian, not like Nina.

She hadn’t sought His word for years. God was supposed to guide her everyday and push her to strive and be like Him, his likeness and his image. The last time she desperately sought him out, like now, was when she almost lost her miracle baby, Dani. Being a Christian was more than going to church. It requires a daily process where you are so certain in your growth to be more and more like Christ. To remember that His love was like an ocean and that you can see the beginning, but not its end. To trust in Him and His plan… that’s what it meant to be devoted to Him. And that’s where Cat fell short. Time and time again.

After Sofi had screamed at her parents in anger, directing the malice mostly at her mother, during the whole ordeal Thursday night, Cat was forced to look into the mirror and see why she would never be like Him. Sofi forced her to realize that there was no use in waiting for His plan to fix things. It was up to her and her own strength. It was clear that Sofi was upset she had to pick up the pieces of their broken family, when she was still recovering from almost dying by Charlie Decker.

Cat had frantically looked through her bible and begged God to take away her tears, wash away her sins, and help her be a good mother to her children, only to realize she needed to stop asking to be saved. If Cat wanted to carry her world, she had to believe in herself again. She had to be strong for herself and for her children. She also needed to learn to lean on people and be okay to admit that there are some things she can’t do alone.

Taking another sip of the scotch, a tear finding its way out, trailing down her cheek, Cat closed her eyes and tried to think of the positive things to come. Her children wouldn’t be in a house where there’s always fighting. Tommasso and her would learn healthy ways to co-parent. Her mother’s suffering would end and she could be with the Lord, in His Glory, like she always wanted to. Cat would start working on herself and find purpose in being alive and well. And throughout all of this? She’d have the support of Clayton. Someone she didn’t realize she needed as much as she does now. She just wanted to be happy and she hoped, little by little, she’d get there within herself, within her relationship with Clayton, and within the lives of her children. She prayed. Oh God she prayed.

Just outside of her office doors, an unexpected busy evening was finally coming to a close. Marco had stayed an extra hour, letting the Young Lad go home. He said he needed to be home for some reason and Marco didn’t mind lingering around. In the week since his chance encounter with Poppy and just…the whole week, he has been finding himself into a real groove. It wasn’t just because of Danny really pushing him in the mornings (and in the night prior to every morning), it was everything in his life right now. It was strange. Marco from six months ago would have never been so eager to work more, but he felt truly happy making sandwiches. Cat had taught him well, had been so right in his face about learning the ropes and the recipes and how to make each one.

That was something Marco found out he got from his old man. An impeccable memory. In the past, it served him well in school. In soccer. In that extremely difficult character analysis presentation that Poppy gave him such high praise for last week. And now it helped him at his job. He knew every sandwich yet was finding ways to improve them but never changing them. Refining how he made them. Slowly but surely, Marco was coming into his own.

“That should do it,” he remarked, handing off the last order of the day. A happy customer ordered an italian club and that dream panini that was becoming really popular as of late. Truth be told, it was his favorite sandwich to make.

As he clocked out, Marco, as he always did, went to Cat’s office. He knocked a few times. “Cat,” he called out in a medium tone. He went for the knob and the door wasn’t closed. As he pushed it open, he saw Cat standing by herself near a small table, drinking what he hoped was some sort of apple cider, but he knew alcohol when he saw it. “Cat?” He half-frowned, wondering if she was even conscious, aware of her surroundings. “I just wanted to ask if you needed anything before I left for the day..” There was a cautious approach Marco had in both how he spoke and he walked into her office, feeling something was off. That part of him that always wanted to make sure those he cared for were alright refused to let him leave. “Cat?”

When she realized she was not alone and that she still had an employee here, Cat was quick to down her scotch and wipe her face of tears with a quick swipe. “Marco!” She turned around, leaving the glass behind. “I could’ve sworn everyone was gone for the day,” She laughed and smiled, hiding all her pain through a jovial expression. “If everything has been covered in the front, I should be fine,” She assured her brother’s friend, not wanting to keep him longer than needed. “It’s getting late, I’m sure you’re ready to relax and have some dinner.”

It may have been brief, but there was definitely something off. Marco didn’t know what it was exactly, but something about the way Cat acted the minute she realized he was still around -- that stood out. “Are you sure?” Marco asked, worried for Cat. In all the time he had known her and especially in the past few weeks since he’s been working for her, she’s never acted this…dismissive. “Really, I don’t mind staying a bit longer.. I don’t feel all that tired to be honest, so it’s no bother at all!” He smiled at her.

From the time Cat has watched Marco with her brother to seeing him on numerous occasions at family parties and other things, the older woman knew how persistent the young boy was when it came to feelings. As the eldest of the Belmonte 7 it was her duty to smile and act okay, it was her duty to protect her family, it was her duty to shield them from everything this town threw at them, it was her duty. She couldn’t burden Danny’s friend with her problems. She couldn’t burden anyone with them. “Really, Marco. I’m fine.” Instead of staying complacent, she sauntered her way to her desk and took a seat. Slowly but surely she put away her things so that she too could follow suit and leave for her day, “Plus! Don’t you have places to go? People to see? You’re young, sweetheart. Enjoy it while you still can.”

“Like I said it’s no bother at all!” Marco was indeed stubborn. Probably something he never realized he inherited from both of his parents. But Cat was equally so, it seemed. At the very least, his last act for the day could help her clean off her desk. “At least let me help you clean up.”

Marco didn’t wait for an actual response as he approached her desk, picking up a stack of papers that seemed familiar. For a few short moments, he looked at the front and saw what felt familiar about it. “Edenridge Police Force…study guide?” He read out loud, dividing his gaze from the guide in his hands and Cat, who was still putting things away, taken aback somewhat. “What is this, Cat?” He asked her, but not in a judgemental way. Marco couldn’t be judgmental even if he tried. He was genuine in his curiosity and more so was just surprised.

After a nervous chuckle slipped out of her lips, Cat reached for the booklet and gently tugged it away from Marco, “It’s nothing really, just, ehem…” She proceeded to put the book away into a file cabinet. “I’m just learning a thing or two, to see if I want a, well, career change.” Once she dropped the bomb she looked away and focused on finishing up the task at hand. Cleaning up her things. “This is fine, Marco. I can clean up my own desk, I swear.” Was it too bold to get another serving of scotch? Cat was sweating because she felt like the one person in the room that could see her was seeing her clearly.

What Marco just heard was a lot to process. Career change? Was she thinking of becoming a cop? He didn’t want to assume, but the booklet and the way she was acting, the signs were clear as day. He had a lot of thoughts racing through his head: the possible sale of Godmother, what that meant about his job, but the main one -- possibly the most glaring of them all -- was how…nervous Cat seemed. He might not be the most observant person, certainly not the kind that his father was, but Marco could see enough to realize that this was more than just a thing or two or would that be too presumptuous of Marco to assume?

When Cat put the booklet away and she tried to again shoo him away in a polite way, he looked at his boss. A few moments of silence came after before Marco finally broke it. “So..you want to be a cop or something? I mean, I think that’s pretty cool, Cat! Officer Cat has a nice ring to it, I think. Kinda like Catwoman, but ya know, instead of seducing Batman and whatnot, you’ll be looking out for those of us who can’t.”

“You really think so?” With his kind words Caterina perked up, easing her defenses, this being the first time she told someone outside of Nina about her dream. A dream that sparked the day she almost lost Sofi on August 29th, 2019. The day the town of Edenridge lost many lives. A tragedy that is still hurting many, including herself. Standing up, she interlocked her fingers and started fiddling with her hands.

Soon after, Cat was pacing in her small office thinking, “You don’t have to worry about your job. This process takes time so I won’t be going anywhere. If I pass the civic exam, school takes about six months. Even then, I wouldn’t give my shop to just anyone. I have a lot to consider and I’m hoping whoever I find will allow me to take a backseat so that I can not only focus on my studies but insure that the Godmother still lives on. I just…”

She posted herself by the side table, where the scotch waited for her, before turning on her heel to observe Marco, “I just know this place means a lot to the community, so I don’t want her to die, but I also… need to find purpose in myself? If that makes sense. Purpose beyond—” She gestured around them, the office, the shop, the sandwiches, and the retail. She gestured at everything that her father stood for. Everything he loved. “—This.”

Don’t get her wrong. When Cat was a young mother and this was her best option because she had her father and his connections with the Osso family, she loved this. There was passion at one point. The Godmother has become so loved in the community, she knew that, and that’s because love was the foundation. It was possible because it was a passion project that she shared with her old man. She had nothing going for her otherwise. Now that she’s made a name for it, and herself, and her husband is no longer controlling her mind, she was ready to figure out what she wanted.

She didn’t want to hesitate in anything in regards to her life. She was already worried that Clayton was madly in love with her and she could only imagine how she would react if he said those three words to her: I love you. He loved her for such a long time but now that he’s older it has matured and become something… so warm and so gentle. She’s never felt tenderly appreciated like she does with him and she was scared. Scared that if she didn’t start finding herself, she’d start pushing him away. Self sabotaging her life because she didn’t think she deserved to be loved like that. What kind of bullshit was that? Everyone deserves to be loved and that includes someone broken, damaged, and lost. That includes her. “It’s silly, I know, Marco.”

Marco shook his head almost immediately. “No, it’s not silly at all! If anything, it’s pretty great that you’re doing this.” Marco gave Cat a smile. “You’re putting the effort into something that you believe will let you live a happier life, right? That’s the furthest from being silly. And I absolutely understand. It’s how I feel about working here. It’s hard work, sure. And you don’t always make it easy, but I wouldn’t be able to take charge, even if for a little bit, if you didn’t keep teaching me about all the recipes and how each sandwich is made. So I know that you’ll do great at this! Bringing that same level of focus and dedication to something that will make you happy will get you the results you want, I just know it!”

Deep down, Marco understood what Cat was going through more than she knew. It may not have been directly linked to a change of career, but Marco was undergoing his own difficult choice in calling or texting Poppy James back. That in itself was a hard thing because he wasn’t sure what might happen. All he knew was that, if Cat could do this incredibly difficult thing of try and become a cop, maybe Marco could do that.

Call it mother’s intuition, or a hunch, Cat smiled at Marco’s kind words and re-routed the attention onto him, “Now that you’ve made me feel better about myself…” Cat glanced at the clock on the wall, before bringing her gaze back toward Marco, “It’s almost dinner time, maybe you should text Penelope and see if she’s down to grab a bite.” The older woman crossed her arms and stood there commanding like a mother, but also loving like a mother, “I tried my best not to eavesdrop but it was really hard. You know what I think?”

When Cat mentioned how close it was to dinner, Marco didn’t realize, but he took out his phone briefly to look at the time. He had to admit, though, he didn’t know why he felt surprised that Cat heard his conversation with Poppy but Marco looked at her because he was. “You..heard that, huh?” Instinctively, Marco scratched the left side of his face, one of his many tells when he was starting to feel tense. Lord knows Marco was a walking hypocrite sometimes because he could help those who need it but when it’s turned back on him, he feels reluctant to address it.

Probably why he has people in his life that push him to do things he normally wouldn’t. “You want me to talk to her, don’t you?” It’s not that Marco wasn’t already halfway there, but he remained undecided about it. That feeling in his gut when Poppy first brought it up was starting to return.

“Yes, but also,” Cat’s eyes grew gentle as she rested her weight towards one side, never looking away from him. “Look at it like this. Maybe, she needs this just as much as you. You know why I want to become a cop right? It’s because I almost lost Sofi that day, on the same field you were on. Elisa was there that day. Natalia was there too. And I love my sisters, but take my daughter away from me? That’s a whole different pain.”

Uncrossing her arms, Cat strolled to the younger boy and ruffled his hair, like a big sister would, “There’s too much hurt in this town and it takes a lot of bravery to go to people you barely know and say sorry for a deed you didn’t even do. I don’t want you to regret not knowing as much as you could when Charlie’s childhood friend is giving you that chance. You owe her nothing or him, but you owe it to yourself to move on. And she’s there waiting to help you through that.”

She was right, of course -- Marco knew this. No matter how painful it was to think about, maybe it was time that Marco stopped avoiding this. Danny had his way of getting to address it and that only could work if Marco was willing to face what had happened. He wasn’t and that’s why he shifted his focus onto Lanie and being there for her. Deep down, Marco knew this time would come and deep down, maybe he didn’t want to avoid it any longer.

Looking at Cat, Marco’s eyes were glistening slightly. “I know you’re right. I know…I’ve spent so long avoiding this moment. Pushed myself into things that could distract me. Family, friends, online communities -- I’ve tried to not think about that day. You know, I had my eyes set on playing soccer at a pro level, right? Senior year was going to be the year scouts from Boston would come see me, but then that was all taken from me.” Marco bit his lip, feeling himself getting choked up as he tried to get a handle on his emotions. Even though now he was more than content with the way his life was, part of him often wondered what if he wasn’t on the field that day. Would he still be here? Or would he be one of the many names that people remembered who died that day?

Believe it or not, Cat understood him more than he even knew. For herself, while she didn’t almost die during this period of her life, she got pregnant which changed everything for her. All her plans to leave this town, to sail somewhere and never look back, changed in a second because she had Sofi. Her daughter on the other hand was just like him. Sofia used to love soccer and at one point in time she saw herself pursuing it professionally. That all was taken away from her before she could even taste the big leagues. No freshman goes to school thinking this is the day I’m going to get shot and give up on my dreams. No student for that matter. Cat was just glad that her daughter was able to get out of bed and do something with her day. She was also glad her daughter had friends like Richard “Ricky” Osso keeping her afloat. Not those kids that were a golden ticket to Sofi getting a drug addiction. There was no doubt in Cat’s mind that she preferred her daughter playing Dungeons & Dragons with Ricky than loiter, vandalise, and smoke with Jeremy Fletcher and company.

“What would I even say to Poppy, Cat?” He had such a clueless and lost expression on his face and he looked to Cat for some kind of guidance.

“Well, you can first start off by texting her, hey, are you free? I know this is last minute but I just got off work and was going to get dinner at the Hole,” Cat smirked, even adding a sassy eye roll. “Don’t overthink it. Right now you’re just hanging out with someone. If you don’t know where to start when you’re there, have her lead. I imagine once you two start talking it’ll all fall into place and make sense in the end. Right now though? All you need to do is grab your phone and text ‘hey’.”

Marco went quiet for a few moments. Perhaps Cat was right and he was putting too much thought into it. He had only the thought of talking about what happened to him in his mind but maybe that’s not all it could be. Truth be told, Marco didn’t know what could happen. He wished he could be the old version of himself who didn’t overthink so much, who didn’t second-guess every thought and action he made. In the past, he wouldn’t have hesitated to text poppy. Hell, he would’ve made plans to meet up with her that day. But now he spent nearly a week going over it in his mind and still wasn’t completely sure. Maybe that was okay. Maybe he didn’t have to know everything. Like Cat said, maybe it didn’t have to have the weight of Charlie added to it.

Marco half smiled, looking at Cat. All he had to do was text her. “I’ll do that then,” he commented, giving Cat a quick hug that only lasted a few seconds. “Thank you…for everything you’ve done. I know you’ll ace that test! This town would be lucky to have someone who cares so much looking out for them.”

Although the hug only lasted seconds, the sudden affection from one of her employees, and her brother’s friend, caused her to briefly tense up. She didn’t mind playfully ruffling his hair or lightly slapping the back of his head like she would do with Danny when he just wouldn’t get it right, but a hug was something she considered intimate. She loved intimacy - just not with her brother’s friend.

Clay was different… Clay was over the house a lot with his sister Lamb. Cat practically grew up with him. Whenever she and her sisters visited the Brady house, she spent more time with Marlie than the children. Don’t get her wrong, she’s hugged Marco before in a family setting where it was kind of something you did out of respect, but now that he was her subordinate… It was weird.

Hiding the mild uncomfortable sensation behind a warm smile, Cat chuckled, “Thanks, kid. I needed this.” Extremely obvious of her next motive, Cat opened her office door, “You’ve helped me get out of my funk, now it’s time for you to get out of your’s. Be goneeeee.” She shooed the boy — desperately in need of ME time before she went back home and waited for Clay to text her.

“Yes boss!” Marco chuckled as he waved to Cat, leaving her office and closing the door behind him.

Marco left the Godmother but he lingered outside for a few minutes. He thought for the whole time about everything that Cat said about not overthinking it. That wasn’t an easy thing for him to do since that’s become his default setting. Ever since getting shot and after recovery, Marco hasn’t been able to change that about himself. Always overthinking every decision he made, everything he did, and what he might do. Entertaining thoughts about what could go wrong, what if it’s not what it was initially pitched as instead of looking on the bright side like he used to.

He missed that version of himself. Somehow Cat could see that. Part of him just knew she did and maybe it was about time he started to try and find that Marco Brady again.

Taking out his phone, Marco texted Poppy.

Hey, it’s Marco. You free? I just got off work. (sent)
Thought…if you wanted, we could grab some dinner at The Hole?sent

Marco lingered still as he was about to pocket his phone in the front right pocket of his pants, but then he felt it vibrate in his hand. Looking at his screen, it was Poppy. “Dang that was fast!”

Yes. I’m close by. See you in ten? received
Penelope


Sounds great! On my way too! 🌞sent

With that text sent, Marco started walking towards the end of main street. His legs were sore from being on them practically all day, but it wasn’t far. He could rest when he got there.

He hoped..

TIMESTAMP: After Paradise Lost Collab


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Narrowing her list down to four girls in her class, Jillian O’Brien, Lanie Lancaster, Caitlin Cleary, and Alexandria Davies, Kylee closed her laptop and leaned back in her chair at the library. He still hadn’t texted her. She was trying to not be the one to give in because if she kept doing that, he’d never learn, but the clock ticked, and the unsettling feeling of him not needing her was blinding at this point.

Was she really that insignificant?

He couldn’t even send a good morning text.

Clenching her teeth at her sinking heart, realizing more by the hour her father was right, he always was, Kylee sat there aimlessly staring at a bookshelf. For the time they dated, when they were physically together, Wesley Silo made her feel special. Occasionally Wes got distracted by his phone but he was still there. The moment she left him, his side, the moment she wasn’t with him, all the doubt she buried so well crawled out and caused her to go to a place she hadn’t visited awhile.

The dark place.

Stupid, she was stupid.

Why didn’t she question him? Why didn’t she demand him to tell her his secrets? Kylee knew he had them. She knew he wasn’t ready to open up to her. But why? Why wasn’t she good enough to know? It sucked. This feeling sucked. This was her fault for falling again. Falling again for the wrong one. Time and time again, she fell for the wrong one.

First was Pierce, who was a wonderful friend, but who knew she couldn’t love him and he couldn’t love her the way they both deserved. He was there for her whenever she needed him. They did all the things couples did and even though those things didn’t make her heart flutter, he was good for her. He was safe.

Pierce was everything she thought she deserved but then, suddenly, he wasn’t. He was a boy who lived in an abusive family that fought the most heartbreaking thoughts, apologizing for dragging Kylee down with him. All he wanted to do was keep his sister safe but through that fear, through that pain, and anxiety, he found solace in Jakob Torres, who died the same day, in the same room, at the same time inches away from her.

Second was Natalia, who was such an admirable headstrong girl, but who still loved a boy in a way that she could never love Kylee. She was good until she wasn’t. There was so much spark in the beginning, so much fire. They explored each other’s bodies, minds, and even souls, but not enough where Kylee felt satisfied. Deep down, she just knew no matter what she did, she would never be good enough.

How could she give in? Give all herself when she couldn’t stop thinking about her ex’s bloody face? Not getting in her dream school was an excuse. Natalia was beautiful, driven, and so, so very smart. It was just, senior year was hard to love someone when she found it hard to love herself. And she knew, she knew by Christmas, she could never love Natalia the way she deserved, but neither could Natalia. Natalia still had feelings for Niles Sinclair, even though she tried so hard to hide it.

Now Kylee was with Wes and the cycle repeated. There were bruises on her ego while she tried, and tried, and tried, to figure out what he was about. She was once again put in a place where she felt undeserving of his love. He clearly didn’t want her like she wanted him. He clearly didn’t want her.

Not too far off, quick Russian could be heard. Kylee snapped out of her depressive stupor to see the woman she named Jane saying things under her breath and walking from one aisle to the next. Back to reality, Kylee noted the time and realized she was here longer than expected. Once she packed her things, she took her leave. Getting fresh air could do her some good.

Edenridge.

Home.

Finding his way back to the town of his birth had been a whole journey but Adam Callahan was doing best to keep on moving forward. Rolling down the street in his skateboard, camera in hand, he passed by scenery he had not seen in years. When he and his father moved to Pinehurst a few years ago, it became very apparent the senior Callahan wanted to cut out everything that reminded him of where they came from, in spite of the fact that their family helped found the town. Though it was also the case that his father didn’t mind using that Foundling status to his advantage financially.

The memory of the day they left still resonated with Adam. He had been out all day with Roddy, his cousin. When the duo got back to Rod’s house, they walked in on their fathers, brothers Thomas and John, locked in a heated row about their long dead older sister, Mary. Neither man was small or weak, they were big strong Irish men whose faces had turned crimson red, fists balled, chests puffed out and flares of malice and hatred darting between those Callahan eyes. Tom was the bigger brother, so when he slapped the taste out of his little brother's mouth, the room shook. He then grabbed Adam by the back of his neck and they stormed out. Within hours, their car was packed and they were out of town.

Sure, they only moved several miles down the road but it might as well have been an ocean. Adam’s older brother Andrew was married to Clari Osso at this point so he stayed in Eden and was Adam’s only real point of contact in the town. He tried to maintain his other links but Thomas had ways of isolating his young son. The most Adam could manage was a message to Rod or his brother here and there. He did follow the news though and the myriad of tragedies that befell the sleepy hamlet of Edenridge. Adam loved the supernatural and went on several ghost hunts with his friends before he moved. He was sure that the brown was cursed and took his own isolation as his part in it. After a while, it became easier just to go along with it, at least until he was old enough to fight back. Now there he was. Home again after five years, with a shitty apartment in Westbrook and a recent successful job application to his old English teachers coffee shop. The life right?

Lost behind the lens of his video camera as he rolled down the street, Adam didn’t realise he had just entered into a collision course.

With her laptop bag around her arm, one arm carrying a couple books, and her hands preoccupied with note taking, Kylee walked on the sidewalk outside the library. She held a small composition book that housed her thoughts, her theories, and her concerns. She didn’t want to forget a single thing that popped in her head so taking notes on her phone and in small travel notebooks became absolutely necessary in a day of the life of Kylee Grimm.

Her mind constantly moved a mile per hour. This had been the case for the littlest Grimm since she learned how to walk. Prudence would compliment her curiosities, ideas, and questions, encouraging Ky’s mind and tending to it like a blossoming garden. It was Prue who got her in the habit of writing what she saw, what she heard, and what she thought down. From her dream journal to her planner, Kylee wrote everything down. It was the best remedy for a girl who couldn’t stop the cogs from turning. The greatest weapon one could have was a pen and paper.

Puckering her lips in thought, tapping her pen on her notebook, Kylee took a moment to quickly glance up to make sure she wasn’t going to walk into someone, like she’s done to Wes countless times. The moment she did, she saw a boy zooming on his skateboard, straight toward her. Alarmed, Kylee was caught between fight or flight. She wasn’t prepared for this at all. The last time someone skateboarded around these parts were YEARS ago. There were better places to skate! In most people’s cases they would jump out of the way but there Kylee was, a deer in headlights, waiting for her inevitable doom. Fight, flight, or freeze. She certainly was frozen. Oh how her dad would not be proud.

Finally seeing a wave of brunette hair in his path, Adam moved his camera to his side and slammed his foot down, effectively putting the brakes on his board (if it had any). He stopped inches from the girl in his way and spun out. He managed to maintain his footing as his board rolled off into the bushes of the library. With his elbow he clipped the girl and her pile of books fell onto the floor.

In milliseconds, Adam was down collecting them. “I’m so so sorry,” He apologised. “I was in my own world just filming. You’re not hurt are you? I promise I….” He stopped when he stood back up to his full height and caught sight of the face of the girl he had just assaulted. He knew her. And well! Big brown eyes and an angular face. She was someone he hadn’t seen in a very long time. “Kylee?”

The scene was set and Kylee went from frozen to shock. No longer holding her composition book and the books she checked out from the library, she watched the boy in front of her collect her books, or try to until he saw her. Squinting her eyes and subtly shaking the shock away, Kylee tried to gain her composure so she wasn’t staring at her old friend like a dumdum. “Hi,” she smiled, her shock was so high that she didn’t even know how to talk to him. Hi was a good start. How unexpected. Her big, brown eyes went from his handsome Callahan face (y’know those features that most girls couldn’t resist) to her books. Oh, yeah. She should… yes. Going to the ground, she finished collecting the rest of her things, placing her hand on her small composition book.

“Wow,” Adam took a step back to give the girl some space. He had just nearly trucked her after all. “Five years and the most I get is hi…also the wow was a two pronged, other prong was because you look amazing.” Kylee had been best friends with his cousin Roddy and for the most part, Adam was the third musketeer. He could never be around them all the time because of his dad but when he was, he loved every second of it. When he moved not so quietly in the night, he never did get the chance to say goodbye properly to the mayor's daughter. He had to get Roddy to do it. Which probably didn’t go well since Roddy barely spoke at the best of times and had the emotional range of a toaster. Robo Rod still on his mission from the future to be awkward as fuck all the time.

The thing was, Adam knew Kylee. If she haven’t changed in the years they’d been apart, she was likely processing. For someone as clever and as bright as she was. Sometimes it took her a little while to get there. He waited until their eyes met again and he offered up a toothy goofy smile “Hi Velma.”

Any other day, Kylee would cry and embrace him. Any other day. It hit her face and a tint of pink could be seen on her cheeks. He was back? When did he get back? She was standing up now with her things, hugging them close, as if those books were a comfort thing to her, protecting her from him leaving her again, like everyone else did. Her guard was undeniably visible and the atmosphere, her whole vibe, could cut like a knife. He caught her at a bad time. Kylee Grimm was not doing good at all. Of course something like this would happen. “Hi Adam, it’s good to see you,” Her voice cracked. Stop it, Kylee. ”I, um, I was heading this way…” Swiftly, she walked past him in a direction. He could follow her or he could not. His choice.

Ok. This was a little weird. “Erm yeah…” Adam ran to the bush to grab his board and placed it under his arm before he swiftly followed the Grimm girl. Ky was not herself or at least how he remembered her. Perhaps she had changed? Maybe she had no interest in rehashing their old friendship? It had been a long time and he had basically been missing that entire time with little to no communication with those he left behind. “I’m sensing today is not the best day for me to suddenly reappear.”

As they walked, slowly approaching the corner of the street, Kylee whispered, “Was I not a good friend to you?” Was she really not worth the goodbye? She held her books tighter, not looking at Adam, not even looking straight ahead. She looked toward the ground and the darkness overtook her. Kylee may have left the library but she took the dark place with her. Everything about her was melancholy. If this were a cartoon, she’d have a rain cloud over her head. There was a storm brewing in Edenridge, but the forecast predicted it to be more towards the evening. No, this rain cloud was just Kylee’s depression that she couldn’t pretend to hide.

There it was. That Grimm veil that sometimes reared its head. Adam remembered that and he remembered one of the few to be able to pull her out of it was Roddy, who by all accounts didn’t live there anymore. “You were the best friend, Ky.” It was one of his biggest regrets, not being able to say goodbye. “The old man put me on lockdown. I couldn’t do anything. No phone, no computer, whenever I did use it I had to do it in his presence. You know how he was.” Thomas Callahan was not a good man and his children suffered. He was the polar opposite of his brother but his sons were lucky that their uncle would try to instill in them the goodness that their father was lacking. “I’m sorry.”

“How long are you even here for?” Kylee turned to face him, rooting her feet to the ground. There was so much pain and hurt behind her beautiful, brown eyes.

Adam stopped with her and hugged his skateboard and camera tightly. “As long as it takes for me to save up some cash,” he lamented. “The old man is out of my life now, I’ve got no money. Didn’t get into college. So I’m here to work, get paid and then grab this thing.” He waved his video camera “and head off in search of big adventure, just like we always talked about.”

In Grimm fashion, the sadness started fading, masked by a cutthroat coldness. Subconsciously, Kylee was shifting her gears. Having Adam back could be useful. She was doing an investigation alone today because Clay was in his feelings. This could be the kind of distraction she needed. There was no point brooding over things she had no control over. Wesley? It was his fault for not talking to her. If that’s how he wanted to play, two could play it like that. She didn’t need him. He was lucky to have her. “What are your plans today?” Her tone was firm and harsh. And for the briefest of moments, her expression shadowed one similar to her father’s.

“Alright, so your creepy Grimm split personality thing is still a thing. Good to know.” Adam looked out at the stretch of Main Street that Kay out in front of him and Kylee before returning his attention to her. “Well I was just getting my bearings, seeing what’s changed and such. I’ve only been back a few days,” His face morphed into another grin. “But I remember that look and you have a plan. It’s the same one you used to have when you’d drag me and Rod to Hanging Hill or the sewer system in search of secret tunnels to the lab.”

“Well, you decided to come back at a perfect time,” Kylee’s smile widened as she tilted her head, closing the door of the dark place, forcing herself to stay in the moment. “We have a lot to catch up on, but first, we got to intrude on the lives of northie girls.” She stepped closer to Adam, breaking the distance so he could look deep into her eyes, and see how deadly serious she was, “Want me to forgive you? Let’s start with an adventure.”

This was the Kylee of old. The strong one. The mad one, the one with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, adventure and mystery. This was the Kylee had crushed on from the moment Roddy introduced them on his misguided quest to see if there were trolls under Milligan Bridge (there weren’t but there was a homeless man called Alan, nice guy). "You know I’m always up for an adventure, lead the way boss.”

Shaking back her hair, she shifted her books into one arm and playfully reached for his cheek, squeezing it, “Good, because this case has everything to do with your cousin.” In a seemingly better mood, or at least able to compartmentalize all her negativity, Kylee was upbeat and off to the races. Turning on her heel, she was marching forward into the unknown, like she had done many times when they were little, “Do you know anything about what’s been happening lately? Like the letters?”

Wait cousin? Rod? No he was gone. Lamb? Nope. … was it Clay? Course it was fucking Clay. “Just what’s been on the news. They don’t really show a lot of Eden stuff in Pinehurst. Even our local news outlets despise each other.” Adam opened up his camera again as he followed Ky and began filming. “I did speak to one of my new neighbours this morning and they mentioned a letter about that O’Hara guy, David? The one that drowned in the lake.”

“Also Clay’s best friend,” Kylee instructed, crossing the street, making glances here and there to her old, childhood friend. Jeez, AC had a lot of catching up to do. Sparknotes time! “Well, you know about the letters, so that’s good. Like a month or so ago, the first incident revolved around Allison Davies. Someone got a hold of Decker’s journal and is playing games with the town, and that one, phew, was a doozy. Allison was miserable because she had nothing going for her beyond highschool, turned to drugs, slept with her best friend’s boyfriend, which I mean, I don’t blame her! Her boyfriend was sleeping? Kissing? Doing something with a boy that day of the party. Well that was fun! But here’s the kicker, this specific letter isn't written by Decker. No, it’s a love letter to David. His drowning hit the news, but I don’t know if you would know about the rumors of him fucking someone underage?”

“Fuck my ass.” Adam had to remember to edit that bit out later in post. “So O’Hara might be a diddler and this girl is…was sending him love letters? Meaning that realistically if the rumours are true, it was consensual which is a completely different can of worms to be opened.” The skaterboy began to run the maths in his head to connect the dots. He had missed a lot in his time away. The reward for having a psychotic father. Something he knew deep down Kylee could appreciate, even if she never wanted to admit her father was dirty. “And you want to go interview Northie girls, meaning that you have suspects”

“Four specifically. Mostly cheerleaders and one Lexie Davies. All my year.” There was a bounce in Kylee’s step, being able to talk about everything in her mind was always something that made her feel better. “I was at the cafe earlier talking to Beau and analyzing the letter. There’s just this weird familiarity about it and that handwriting. I’ve seen it before. Like a weird sense of deja vu.” She nodded to herself as if she was the smartest person on the planet. “So I’m going with my hunch that if David indeed slept with someone younger than him it would be in my year, or the year above, but the way some of the words curve… I just know deep down, she is in my year. Process of elimination from when we all wrote on the chalkboard for class, or when we passed our essays forward, there are five girls with the best penmanship. What makes this even better is that MOST are cheerleaders, which makes total fucking sense since David was big hot shot basketball player. I think I want to focus on the cheerleaders before I even consider Lexie. I think she just writes super nicely.”

Typical Kylee, she had already done most of the legwork in the investigation. When they were kids hunting for ghosts and ghouls, she would turn up at Rod’s, notes and books in hand with the entire history of the world written down. Adam was just the camera guy and Roddy just knew his way around. It was a weird little set up but it worked for them. “I too would like to focus on the cheerleaders,” He teased. “Maybe we get you into one of their outfits, so you can get into their heads,” Adam had to subdue a laugh. “I’m kidding of course. Whose first on your list?”

“Well by process of elimination, I’m taking Lanie and Lexie off the list. Lanie is with Rod’s and she never gave me the vibe that she’d mess with one of the Elite and Lexie; Well we’re leaning to the cheerleader theory and I don’t even know if she’s back in town yet. She also seems too smart for her own good so I doubt she’d get with an Elite either, especially if that made her seem more like her sister, then nah man.”

The wheels were turning and Kylee was now on a warpath to find out who was the face behind the letter. “That leaves Jill O’Brien and Caitlin Cleary. I’m more comfortable with Jilly so let’s start with her. The letter was like some Romeo & Juliet bullshit and I absolutely hated it. I really hope it wasn’t Jilly. I might judge her a little. Okay, I might judge her A LOT.”

For a moment, Adam was lost in thoughts of the red haired O’Brien as he remembered her in high school before switching back to reality. “Well, I'm pretty sure I saw Jill today actually. You can’t mistake that hair. She had her tongue down some goth girl's throat whilst leaning against a badass car. So I guess we’re going to Westbrook?”

“Oh yeah, her and Mei Ramsey are totally a thing now. I love that for them, honestly. Mei and Clay have been keeping me busy since Roddy moved… I miss him,” Deeply sighing, Kylee sauntered down the sidewalk and brought her attention to all her books, “Oh shoot. I should stop at home. I don’t want to be taking My Sister, The Serial Killer, One of Us Is Lying, and Alias Grace wherever I go, heh. I mean I love me some murder, but I don’t want the library to slit my throat for damaging their books.”

“I don’t know whether to be confused or turned on. Mei and Jill! That’s hot,” Of course the turned a little more serious when Kylee mentioned his cousin. She adored Rod. “I mean, if we’re heading to Westbrook anyway, you can leave your stuff at mine? I just got a place there. It’s not much but it’ll keep it safe and save you having to walk to creep manor.”

Gently, she nudged his arm in agreement, beaming up at him, “Sounds like a plan. Now let's go solve this mystery!”
The Invited: @Aewin@BrutalBx@smarty0114@NeoAJ@Venus@metanoia@Aces Away@BeastofDestiny@Melo@Hey Im Jordan@Legion02@Viciousmarrow

While I'm not against allowing more people in, if you PM me telling me your interest, I will decide on a case by case basis. Please read below.

Pulling this from the rules:
This is an invite only rp. If you are interested, you can PM me and I'll consider more hands on deck. However, this is my first roleplay gming in awhile and this is a concept I care a lot about so I want to maintain my sanity and have a dedicated writer base starting with some of my friends. No hard feelings.
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