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Remy Solomon

missing the missing.

619 views · last seen in Los Angeles, California
a character in “Los Angeles Neighbors' Club”, as played by bombinate

Description



ImageREMY OTIS SOLOMON
Rem, Solo, Oats - little sister only

DOBxx 10/07/2000.xxxxxxGENDERxx MalexxxxxxSEXUALITYxx Homosexual (partially-closeted)

ZODIAC SIGNxx CancerxxxxxxOCCUPATIONxx Student/ part-time waiter

QUOTExx "Take me back to the night we met."

HEX CODExx #8bb0a7xxxxxxSONG INSPIRATION xxThe Night We Met.

CODENAMExx Solo



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GENERAL STYLE
It's a force of habit for Remy to run his hand through his hair, leaving the dark strands frequently standing on end or styled in a fashionably messy way. Often times, it's an unconscious movement, a nervous twitch like the way he'll run a hand over his neck or chin when anxious. Other times, the messy hair adds at least another needed inch to his shorter stature. He's dyed it blonde before, for curiosity's sake, but these days keeps it his natural, darker shade. Remy's clothing is relatively simple, though undoubtedly modern. He loves a good pair of jeans - knees preferably ripped - and a decent, plain shirt. Brands are always keepers, though he'll pull on any old item if it makes the outfit. He's not vain, it's more that Remy takes pride in his appearance, though he'll still be caught in old sweatpants whenever he's in the mood to relax.



Imagexx@solo.oats xxxxImagexx@remyosolomonxxxxImagexx@remysolo



ImagexxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxLIKES
Matilda, Remy's toddler sister is his favourite kid
in the world. He's good with little kids. Rem loves
lazy mornings, cuddles, and being spooned. Bad
puns
are his forte, and he's big on making people
laugh
. Remy enjoys going on long runs, especially
if he's able to take a nice swim afterwards to cool
off. His friends. Nice shoes, chai tea, and sleeping
in the sun
. If Remy had to pick a movie genre, he
would say disaster and horror movies are the best.
He's also a sucker for dancing, and knows all the
words to a ridiculous number of old 50's and 60's
music
. Summer is his favourite season, because he
can walk around the house shirtless and enjoy the
sun. Cute boys, Rem's weakness are the boys-next-
door type. He also can't resist puppies and enjoys
playing soccer.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxDISLIKES
Remy doesn't particularly enjoy studying, he usually needs someone to keep him focused. The cold, he'd definitely avoid. Usually tries to do so by wearing lots of layers. Hates when his height is poked at by anyone not a good friend. Remy can't stand country music. He hates the smell of too strong cologne or perfume, in some cases less is definitely more. Remy is scared of heights, though he equally hates people thinking he's a coward. Strongly dislikes having his hair ruffled or generally messed with, unless he's just woken up it's probably taken him ages to get his hair right. He doesn't like the taste of beer, much to his brothers' dismay. He actually dislikes drinking in general. He does all he can to avoid vacuuming and hates asking for directions, even though Remy has the worst sense of direction imaginable.


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PERSONALITY
You could call Remy the peacemaker if he wasn't so busy verbally teasing his friends. Though he possesses high levels of perceptiveness; able to understand how those around him are feeling, Remy doesn't always have the sensitive maturity needed to deal with said feelings. Inherently, he's kind. He never purposefully attempts to upset others, but he's got a mouth prone to sarcasm, and usually finds himself rambling when anxious or upset. He's put his foot in his mouth more than once because of this. Thankfully, that maturity is developing. He's good at telling when his friends are stressed, and coming up with ways to pull them out of their minds. He hates to see those he's close to upset, hates it more if he's accidentally caused the emotional harm. Being on the wrong side of his friends has never sat well with Remy, and he'll always offer an apology first in an attempt to make up.

Academically, Remy is nothing special. The young man generally sits somewhere in the middle of his peers, an average student in most classes. He finds sitting still and focusing on study difficult, grows fidgety and bored after a while. Remy wants to do well, but even the best intentions don't always garner results. When it comes to social skills at least, Remy is much better versed. He's a friendly individual, and usually has an approachable smile plastered on his face. Remy laughs easily, jokes frequently, and loves nothing more than to be surrounded by his friends. Remy's slightly pliant to peer-pressure, and easily convinced to join in whatever adventurous fun those close to him want to undertake. He seems to go with the flow more often than not. Of course, even the most persuasive of people won't get him to drink. His father's alcoholism and later his brother's, has made him wary of the substances.

While he might come across as your typical, irresponsible teenager, when it comes to Remy's family he's much more mature. He dotes on Matilda, his younger sister, and will frequently give up plans for the night if she needs babysitting. More than once he's come to school with glitter stuck to his clothes after spending the previous night doing arts and crafts with the four year old. Though Remy is protective of all his friends, that trait is multiplied when it comes to his sister, or any other child he's close to. Remy's surprisingly good with kids, and when he needs extra money but can't pick up a shift at his work, he usually offers his babysitting services to the neighbours. Those kids are the only ones he won't get grouchy with for ruining his clothes or hair. Remy isn't especially vain, but he does take pride in his clothing and hair. And he has a great ass.




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YOU KNEW MASON?

Mason and Remy's mothers have been friends ever since the women waddled into prenatal classes, sat down beside the other, and introduced themselves by moaning about the pleasures of childbirth. Summer Bass and Remy Solomon were born a week apart, and their mothers colluded to force the children into friendship from that moment. So, Remy's grown up with Mason. At first they were just friends, with Mason being someone Remy idolised no small amount. As puberty arrived, Remy realised he felt more than friendship when he looked at Mason. Apparently, Mason returned his feelings, and a year ago they moved from friends to something else. Though they never went public with their relationship, Remy has never doubted the strength of his feelings for Mason. Now with his secret-almost-boyfriend missing, he's scared he might never be able to tell Mason just how much he means to him too.



HISTORY
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          Marian and Christian Solomon were high-school sweethearts who married young and had their first son, Arlo, at the age of 20 and 21 respectively. Remy was the third child and son, born five years after their first, and two after Nathan. His mother met and befriended Jocelyn Bass during her pregnancy with Remy, while Jocelyn was pregnant with Summer. The two woman became friends, and when their children were born a week apart, it seemed only natural that the mothers' friendship would be cultivated in their children. Because of this, Remy has all but grown up with the Bass family and the other children which were regular visitors. A friendly child, Remy was never lacking for friends or people to play with. He had his older brothers, even if their play was rough and their teasing a constant pressure, and Summer and Mason. Eventually, the Neighbour's club was formed, and they too joined his regular circle of friends.

          However, Remy's family life was not as perfect as his social life. Though a previously doting husband and father, Christian Solomon had always had something of a bad habit when it came to alcohol. During Remy's childhood, this developed into a toxic alcohol addiction. Remy still remembers crying as his father stumbled in one night, slurring his words and swearing at the easiest target in sight; Remy. His father thought dancing was for girls, thought Remy was too soft, cried too easily. The insults were quickly reprimanded by Remy's mother, but Christian's comments would stick with the impressionable young boy for far longer than his father's drunken haze. Trying to assuage his father's fears, it didn't take long for Remy to insist to his mother that he drop dancing and take up soccer. Though he wouldn't admit as much, his father's early prejudices no doubt influenced Remy's later reluctance to admit, or even accept, that he might be gay.

          Remy's father's behaviour became more abusive as more alcohol was consumed. Rarely to the point of physical violence, but verbal and emotional abuse can be just as scarring. Eventually, Marian told him to leave, and Christian left. He was nine at the time, but even at that age Remy felt the relief that washed through the house at his father's departure. With his home life settled, Remy was able to focus slightly more at school, and develop more into the person he wanted to be without the negative pressure from a judging, drunk father. Though he didn't take ballet and jazz back up, Remy dabbled in some school classes, enough that in the present he wouldn't be shy about taking part in modern-choreographed dances.

          For the most part, his family were able to move forward too, although not always smoothly. Arlo, always a promising student, had a few rough years where his reliance on alcohol seemed to be echoing that of their father's addiction. However, early intervention prevented anything as destructive. Marian eventually met and fell in love with a kind banker, Conrad Barker, with whom she later married. Conrad was a much welcome influence in the Solomon household, and barely five years ago Remy's younger half-sister was born. Matilda has always meant the world to Remy, and he's always willing to devote time and energy to her happiness and entertainment.

          Of course, not all his time is devoted to his family. Always close with Summer, Mason, and the rest of the LANC, it wasn't until puberty hit that Remy realised his feelings for Mason were more than friendly. It scared him slightly, after everything he'd heard from his father, but he felt that fear instantly soothed the moment he realised Mason returned his feelings. Their relationship has remained a secret for the past year, since it's conception. Neither boy was ready to go public about their sexuality at the start of their relationship, even if their feelings continued to grow as time progressed. Only recently did Remy start questioning why they were still hiding. As much as memories of his father's words still scare him, he knew what he had with Mason was more important. He wanted to go public, Mason wasn't ready.

          Remy would give up all thoughts of going public if it meant getting Mason back. He's been beside himself with worry since his disappearance. He refuses to think that the worst could have happened, because if he does, Remy doesn't think he'd have the energy to get out of bed in the morning. All Rem knows is that he won't give up until he's got Mason back.

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.CREATED BY faceclaim
xx...PLAYED BY bombinate
FACE CLAIM Dylan Jordan

So begins...

Remy Solomon's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Remy Solomon Character Portrait: Summer Bass

INK


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Guilt. That's all Remy felt as he sat facing the detective, his hands clenched tightly at his sides, lips pursed as he fought to keep his gaze steady and his breathing calm.

"And, when was the last time Mr Bass contacted you?" Detective Barnega questioned, his hand poised over the small notebook he was using to take notes.

"Not long after he left." Remy answered, attempting to un-clench his hands and return the blood flow to his fingers. "He-... he sent a text, about... He said he'd stopped for a snack and I told him we should have pizza when he gets back."

The lie felt wrong on his tongue, and Remy was sure that the detective would see right through him. The texts had contained more than that simple exchange, rather, the pair had traded a few flirtatious messages and 'I miss you's that would not be expected from good friends only. But Remy couldn't reveal his and Mason's secret, not like this. Even if thoughts of Mason missing continued to swirl in his mind, along with the knowledge that maybe the secrets he kept close to his heart might somehow hinder the investigation.

Yet, for all his worry, the detective only raised an eyebrow, made another note and continued with his line of questions. 'How did he know Mason?', 'Had Mason mentioned alternative plans for his trip?', 'Could Remy think of anyone who might want to hurt Mason?'

"No!" Remy blurted, biting back the sob that threatened to break through. He didn't want to think of anybody hurting Mason, not when... not when he could really be in trouble. Steadying his breathing, Remy shook his head and spoke again, calmer this time,

"No one would want to hurt him. He's a great guy, all his friends will tell you. Even people that aren't his friends."

Detective Barnega gave Remy a considering look, shifting back in his seat - the guest room's desk chair - and began to tap the pen against his thigh.

"Come now, surely he had some enemies. Guy like that, he's probably stolen a few girlfriends, or-..."

"He hasn't." Remy interrupted, "He'd never do that. He's a good guy, one of the best." What he didn't say was that it wasn't girls that Mason would have stolen. Barnega merely raised an eyebrow and rubbed his nose, before continuing on with his questions. Remy answered as best he could, doing his best to ignore Barnega's occasional quips about what he obviously thought Mason was doing. Remy found his hands clenching tighter again as he began to realise how little concern the detective was showing. Barnega clearly thought he had better places to be than questioning Mason's friends; clearly thought that Mason wasn't missing at all, merely playing hooky or partying it up somewhere on campus.

"Says here you're aware of his anxiety issues, do you think they played any part in his current whereabouts?"

"You think he had some nervous breakdown?" Remy retorted, his nails digging into the flesh of his palms. Barnega merely shrugged, as if he was considering the possibility. "Mason's had anxiety attacks before, but he wouldn't-... he wouldn't ever want to worry me or his family like this. He's a gr-..."

"Yes, yes. He's a great guy." Barnega interrupted, waving his hand dismissively. "We're merely covering all the possibilities Mr Solomon."

Remy released the tense breath he had been holding and let his hands relax slightly, felt more tension ease from his shoulders as he stepped out of the room and shut the door behind him a few minutes later. Taking a moment to compose himself, Remy leaned his head back against the wall. With his eyes held tightly closed, Remy wished, not for the last time, that everything would turn out to be a big misunderstanding, that Mason would walk through his front door smiling and safe, apologising for the confusion and worry he'd caused everyone. Wished that he could pull Mason into a tight hug and whisper how much he loved him into his ear, hold him safe.

Wiping away the beads of tears collecting on his lashes with the heel of his hand, Remy straightened himself up and set his feet towards the living room. This house felt like his second home, given how often he'd spent walking the hallways throughout his life. In the last day it had turned from welcoming to oppressive, holding the memories of the boy he loved that was somewhere out there, lost. Remy barely recognised what was on the television as he slumped into the room, folding himself down onto the couch beside Summer and leaning into her, an arm wrapping tightly around the blanket-bundled girl. He tugged at the blanket, pulling half of it over himself before readjusting his arm around the girl within the cocoon of blankets, hugging her for both her comfort and his own.

She'd been the first one to confirm his worries; her text solidifying that pit of worry that had formed as the hours of Mason's absence and failure to respond had increased. He'd been here, at the Bass house, almost every moment since. His mother had been here too, offering support to Mrs Bass, leaving only because Matilda needed her.

"I hate this." Remy mumbled into the blanket, glaring at the flickering television screen.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Remy Solomon Character Portrait: Jane Bennett Character Portrait: Summer Bass

INK

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Jane should have gone. She should have gone with Mason on the trip and never cancelled. If she had tagged along, he might not be in the situation he’s in now. God, she didn't even know what situation that was in the first place. He was just... gone. All that they found was his abandoned car. She wouldn't even be able to make an educated guess as to where he was or what happened. The only thing nearly as worse as him being gone was not even having an inkling as to what happened. He could be fine. But he also could not be anything close to fine.

Jane and her Mother had both run over to the Bass house bare faced as soon as the call was made informing them that they’d need to talk to the detectives on Mason's case. The last Jane had heard from Mason was when he’d called her as he was leaving. She’d told him to ring her up if he started to have a panic attack, or even felt as if there was a slight chance of one. She’d also been sure to remind him that he could call her for anything and everything else he may need. Though she couldn’t be there with him at person, she knew she would stay on the line with him as long as he may need even if both of them were silent.

Upon their arrival at the Bass house, both Jane and her mother were quick to be questioned by the detectives on the case, barley having the time to wipe the tears from their eyes and greet the family. They'd known a day or two after they'd filed for Mason's disappearance of the situation at hand, but both the girls still were emotionally raw. They'd spent most of their time helping out their family with whatever they needed.

At first Barnega and Walker just asked general things; “What is your relationship with Mason Bass?”, “Do you have any idea of his whereabouts?”, “Has anything seemed suspicious leading up to the event of his disappearance?” They'd both answered honestly to everything. Mason was very close family, well loved, and neither had any idea or clue of what could have happened. Soon after, they'd dismissed her mother in order to talk to Jane alone. Her mother was apprehensive, but it only took a squeeze of her hand and a reassuring smile to let her know she was okay. She would tell them everything she knew, even the unimportant seeming things. Anything to get her best friend back.

Jane had seemed to finally get a better grip on her emotions. She was trying to breathe in and out slowly, moving past the lump in her throat that made it difficult to talk. Barnega leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms and giving a bored scan around the room with his eyes. It was obvious that he wasn't particularly concerned with this case, at least not as much as Walker. Jane could also tell Summer noticed the semi-subtle carefree, brushing off. That wasn’t going to end well.

"So, I hear you were originally going to join Mason on his trip to Stanford," Barnega offered in more of a statement than a question. Jane nodded her head. "Yes, I had cancelled two days beforehand. Some family issues came up." Barnega sat up a little more in his chair, slightly engaged now in what he was doing. Walker on the other hand was listening intently, same as before. "Did these family issues revolve around Mason, per chance?" Bartega questioned, eyebrow quirked. Crap, Jane hadn't thought about what 'family issues' might sound like. Shaking her hands frantically in front of her to dispute the notion, she squeaked out, "no, no! Sorry, it had nothing at all to do with Mason." Jane was going to continue to tell them the actual family trouble, but that lump in her throat came right back.

"May we ask what it was about? We would only like to be able to paint a clear picture of the situation." Walker commented before Bartega could add anything else in. The female detective offered Jane a warm, encouraging smile.

Jane had known she would most likely be asked about the reasoning behind her last minute cancellation. Her father had left. She had felt awful leaving Mason by himself, but her mother could barley get off the couch and stop staring at the phone waiting for her father to call. Jane had to take care of her. Between that, Mason’s disappearance, and everything in between, Jane had barley had time to process the fact of her new family dynamic. She hadn’t even discussed the situation beyond the base facts to anyone other than a few choice people like the Bass family and Remy. Before finding out Mason was gone, Jane and her mother had essentially holed themselves up in their home.

Clearing her throat slightly, Jane looked down at her hands and fiddled with them a bit. “Well, two days before me and Mase were supposed to leave, my father came home from a work trip at his New York office. He’d told us that he’d been seeing another woman there for nearly two years and that she’d had his baby.” She cleared her throat again. “He said he wanted to start a new family with them, told my mom that he wanted a divorce, and left without saying much else.” Jane tried stating it out as blatantly as possible. There was no need to go into the finer details of just some of the things he had said.

Brining her legs up to her chest, perching herself on the chair, she rested her crossed arms on top of her knees. She watched distractedly as Barnega scratched stuff down in his notebook. “I’m sorry about that Jane,” Walker offered, giving her a sad smile. Jane gave her a weak smile back, shrugging her shoulders slightly. No reason for a simple stranger to be sorry about a situation she simply needed to hear to do what her job entailed. “Do you think your father would know anything about what’s going on? Any way we can contact him to ask him some questions?” Barnega grunted out. “I don’t think so, no. My father always liked Mason, but he was pretty clear in wanting to cut ties off with our family,” Jane stated quietly. “He hasn’t been answering my mom’s calls, but we’ll give you his cellphone number,” she offered. Walker nodded.

We understand you are aware of Mason’s anxiety? Do you believe that it could have anything to do with his disappearance?” Walker asked. Jane let out a shaky sigh, rubbing one of her cheeks as if to distract herself. “I’ve helped him through a few panic attacks, it’s one of the main reason’s why I was going to go on the trip with him,” She affirmed as she made eye contact with the female detective. “I have no idea if it has anything to do with his disappearance, I-“ Jane was getting worked up again, Wiping a stray tear the fell down her cheek, she continued a little shakily, “I don’t think any of this was intentional on Mason’s part. He… he’s not the type of guy to leave those who love and care about him to worry. He’s one of the kindest people I know. He’s loved.

Walker listened and Botega kept jotting down notes. “Alright, that’ll be all for right now,” the man stated, barley glancing up from the pad as he spoke. Jane murmured a quiet, “thank you.” as she slipped off the chair. She briefly stopped in the bathroom a moment to splash her face with cold water.

Walking into the kitchen, she spotted her mother and her Uncle, head bent and talking lowly to themselves. Jane’s mother looked up briefly to give her a small smile before engaging back in conversation. Walking up to her Aunt Jocelyn, Jane rested a hand on her arm and asked, “would you like me to do anything? I can make something for everyone to eat, or-“ “Jane, Honey,” she softly cut her off, “just rest a little while with Remy and Summer in the living room. I’ll be sure to let you know if I need help,” Jane reluctantly nodded, pulling her aunt into a quick hug and kissing her on the cheek.

Quickly going to the fridge to get a snack of blueberries, Jane set out afterwards towards the living room in which her baby cousin Summer sat with their childhood friend Remy. Walking behind the couch of the two curled up friends, Jane bent down to instinctively kiss Summer lightly on top of her head, before moving fully around and setting the bowl of the really more purple than blue berries between the two. Sitting down cross-legged on the ground, she rested her back against the couch, closing her eyes.

She wanted to tell them both everything would be okay. To reassure them, take away the sadness they all felt. But Jane had no idea if it would be okay. It sure as hell didn’t feel okay. She wouldn’t lie to the two. Opening her eyes back up, she let them wander around the familiar living room space, every inch of it reminding her of Mason. The photographs he was in, the corner he’d always hid in during hide and seek. Everything in the room had a memory attached. She’d never ever expected anything like this to happen. Things just change so fast.

Wiping another stray tear, Jane quietly said to the two, “I love you guys,” while staring blankly at the TV ahead. If one thing came out of this situation, it would be the awareness of how easily things could be taken away. It was best to say what how you felt before it was too late, and she’d be sure she let every single on of her friends know just how much she cared for them

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Remy Solomon Character Portrait: Jem Hill Character Portrait: Jane Bennett Character Portrait: Summer Bass Character Portrait: Mackenzie Lovato

INK

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The swish of the basketball going through the net was the only sound in the mostly empty gym. Jem did the layup again after what would've been the thirtieth time. Practicing was the only way Jem could stop thinking about Mason. One of his closest friends was missing and Jem was at a loss. He tried to remain positive for everyone's sake, but he couldn't shake the feeling of something bad happening. His father used to tell him after the first 48 hours, you were looking for a body. The thought of someone as a bright and young as Mason in a casket made him to collapse and never get up. Coach Whitmore, who was currently watching him, wouldn't have let him though.

"Kid, you need to stop. You'll exhaust yourself at this rate."

Despite being legally an adult, Jem would always be a Whitmore's kid. The man has coached Jem since he was a freshman, watching him grow into the basketball player he is now. Coach became a father figure in the boy's life after Jem's father's tragic passing. The two were close and Whitmore won't admit he shed tears over the boy's graduation.

"The Longhorns called to see where your head's at. The Blue Devils and Wildcats are wondering, too, kid. Jem, you have to make a decision-" "My friend is missing and all you care about is my stupid basketball career. There's more to life than just this ball." At the word 'ball,' Jem threw his basketball at the wall, hard. The muffled smack of the ball against the padded walls did little to satisfy Jem's annoyance. The game was fun, but he didn't want it as a job. His childhood ambitions of following his deceased father's footsteps was what he wanted. Policemen were the good guys and helped solve cases like Mason's. Jem's inner policeman came out after Mason's disappearance. His friends within the force offered him the latest information and offered him some leads they weren't looking into. It may or may not have been illegal, but Jem believed rules were made to be bent, not broken. Speaking of policemen, the LANC club was suppose to be interviewed today... shit! Jem hurriedly glanced at the clock on the wall. Damn! He was late! Plus he was going to bring pizza for everybody. His boss was sympathetic to what happened to his friend. Jem hurried out of the gym, passing his coach without a glance. His choice would have to wait.

~

Walking into the Bass household, arms loaded with seven boxes of pizza, was difficult. Not just because of the large pizza boxes, but seeing his friends look so downcast. Summer and Remy were curled up in a blanket, watching a ridiculous matchmaking show with blank eyes. Jane was wiping at some tears that ran down her cheeks. The three looked lost and Jem couldn't point them in a right direction. He set the pizzas down on the table in front of the TV, smiling slightly. He's never been comforting or great with words in serious circumstances. He was as lost as they were. Jem's eyes moved to the two officers, Officer Walker and Barnega. The male cop eyed him with distrust. Jem Hill is well known among the local police department. He is the town troublemaker, but a good kid who worships the police and works with the narcotics taskforce on drug free week at school. Officer Walker smiled at him, empathy present in her eyes. She worked with his father on a missing persons' case; a decent kid who got caught up with the local drug dealers. They found the kid alive, beaten to a pulp, but he's alive and well. Hopefully, the same would be said for Mason. Jem sat down next to the blanket covered duo, Summer to his left. He gave her the most hopeful smile he could. She needs some hope right now.



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The daily work at Expresso Express was lacking today. The usually busy coffee shop had a slow afternoon after the morning coffee rush. The morning shift was a nightmare for Kenzie since people didn't seem to appreciate her humor without their wake up drink. Honestly, she's surprised the manager hasn't fired her yet. Friendliness and perkiness was not her thing and she's heard plenty complaints from customers about the 'rude barista.' Said customers would receive a kick in the ass if Mackenzie had her way. Unfortunately, she didn't get her way. Fortunately though, many customers liked her spunk and would her quips to be hilarious. Many of the regulars do come for Mackenzie and her coffee art. Possibly, those were the only reasons she hasn't been fired yet. The lack of customers let Mackenzie focus on other things. She had no plans for college after high school, her best friend is moving to a far away college, and her other friend Mason was missing. God, she wished it was busy. Mason's disappearance was all anybody could talk about. The valedictorian went to super smarty pants schools, but never showed up and his car was found abandoned. It sounds like a great movie plot, but unfortunately, it was real. Mackenzie wasn't too concerned though. It was Mason. The smart kids never die in the movies.

~

Talking to the police was never Mackenzie's favorite thing to do.
"What was your relationship to the Mr. Bass?"
"We're friends, known each other since middle school."
"When was the time he contacted you?"
"Two days before he left. I told him his nerd heaven is waiting for him."

Officer Barnega was clearly annoyed with Mackenzie's tone and her lack of concern. Like Jem, she was well known by the police department as well. She wasn't loved like Jem. She was a fighter and didn't react positively when an officer tried to question her. She would've been a part of the scared straight program if she didn't have the LANC club. They kept her in line, mostly.

"Mrs. Lovato, you don't seem very concerned about Mason." Officer Barnega tried, and failed, attempting the good cop approach with the disrespectful teen. "Mason's probably fine. I don't see why you're wasting time questioning us."
"We just want to see if anyone could point us in a new direction. Did Mason have any enemies?"
"Mason's a golden boy. It's impossible to hate him."
"What about you? I've seen your file. Someone could've tried to hurt you through Mason."
Mackenzie rolled her eyes, exaggerating the motion. The officer was beginning to piss her off. She crossed her arms, glaring at the male cop.
"If someone was trying to hurt me, there are better people to target. I'm glad they sent missing persons' finest to investigate, Officer Barnyard."
Her sarcastic emphasis on finest was enough to finish her interview. The red face of Officer Barnega went well with his blue uniform. Mackenzie skipped out of the makeshift interview room, seeing Remy and Summer still in a blanket cocoon. Jem had arrived with pizza and was currently beside Summer, a hopeful smile on his face. Mackenzie, once again, rolled her eyes. Those two had it so bad for each other it was insane. Mackenzie was the first to grab a slice of pizza. She was starving! She went for her second piece when she felt Jem's eyes, judging her. Mackenzie could almost telepathically hear him saying, "Really?"
"What? I'm not gonna waste good pizza."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jodene K. Van Rompaye Character Portrait: Remy Solomon Character Portrait: Jem Hill Character Portrait: Jane Bennett Character Portrait: Summer Bass Character Portrait: Mackenzie Lovato

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Jo sighed impatiently. Her part-time job at Barnes and Noble really wasn't the busiest, but usually, it was consistent. Most of the time, Jo had something to do. Currently, everybody in bookstore was either reading by the benches, totally absorbed in their books, or wandering around, doing nothing productive of any sort. It was utterly boring.

Jo's shift would be over in precisely eleven minutes, though. To be honest, she wasn't exactly popular with the customers. She couldn't quite be described as rude, but Jo supposed she had always been a bit...insensitive. Blunt. Oblivious to people's feelings. This led to her coming off as harsh. Of course, Jo didn't purposely act cruel. She was just...brutally honest. Yeah.

But at the same time, the customers liked her. Not quite as a bookstore clerk, but more likely as a book recommendations specialist. Sure, it wasn't exactly her job, but by analyzing the each person's unique preferences and budget range, along with using her rather extensive memory on book plots, etc., Jo could find the perfect books for each and every customer. Well, most of the time. Everybody makes mistakes.

Fortunately for Jo, the eleven minutes passed by quickly enough. The redhead traded places with the Hikari, the Japanese girl with dyed blonde hair who was operating the next shift and headed out of the bookstore. She - along with the rest of Los Angeles Neighbors' Club, or LANC for short - was supposed to go to the Bass residence to be interviewed by a couple of detectives on the subject of Mason's recent disappearance. The police wanted to gather some information. Although Jo and Mason weren't as close as the latter was to Summer or Jane, the redhead did feel some concern when Mason didn't turn up at his school of choice. She just...wasn't the best at displaying that concern. Jo never had been good with emotions in general. It just wasn't her thing.

It was awkward, to say the least.

Well, for the cop. Jo was unfazed.

He and Jo were sitting across from each other, face-to-face, doing practically nothing besides the essential actions of surviving. Jo had an apathetic expression on her face, while Detective Barnega was clearly uncomfortable with the silence that resonated in the makeshift interview room. Finally, breaking the minute-long silence, Detective Barnega cleared his throat, sitting a little bit straighter.

"So," Barnega attempted to break the ice. "Ms. Rompaye - "

"Ms. Van Rompaye," Jo corrected immediately, her tone rather bland. "Similar to Ludwig van Beethoven, although his surname is usually referred to as simply 'Beethoven', van is still an important part of the name. And it's not pronounced rom-pay, it's pronounced rom-pie-yay."

There was a long pause after Jo's rather rude interruption, although she never found correcting someone to be rude. Barnega had a frustrated look on his face, as if he had dealt with enough rudeness for the day. Mackenzie probably turned him off. It was the reasonable explanation.

"Ms. Van Rompaye," Barnega tried again with a strained voice, emphasizing the first part slightly and correcting her pronunciation. His patience was running thin. "What is your relationship with Mason Bass?"

"Clearly we're friends," Jo explained rather efficiently, "although if you're not competent enough to draw that conclusion, I sincerely worry for the citizens of this city." Yup, Barnega was definitely annoyed.

"No worries, Ms. Van Rompaye," he responded, with a lilt in his voice. "The police force has gathered that already."

Jo clucked her tongue and shifted her position slightly. "Good, your performance is so far satisfactory," she said, clearly irritating Male Detective (although that wasn't her direct intention). "Other than that, we're academic rivals, but if you think I'm childish enough to sabotage Mason simply because I was salutatorian instead of valedictorian, then dear God, I worry for this city's police force."

Barnega looked ready to punch Jo in the face out of his frustration. Jo didn't blame him. "Alright then," he said in a tightly strained voice. "Salutatorian. Clearly not a suspect." Jo narrowed her eyes. He was doubting her, plain as day, anyone could see it. "How far were you from being valedictorian?"

"0.0017 of a point," Jo said calmly, refraining from straining her voice. "Not that it should matter. Just a hint, you're asking the wrong questions."

"Oh really, Ms. Van Rompaye," Barnega drawled. "And why is that?"

"You mean why you're asking the wrong questions?" Jo inquired in a light tone. "Oh, I don't know, maybe it's because you fail to actually comprehend the information you were given in the correct way?" Barnega had a furious expression on his face. "Oh, don't look like that. Statistically, 98.62% of the population are like you, it really isn't that rare." Yes, Jo could come off as a bitch, but to be honest, that wasn't exactly her intention. Then again, she preferred not to sugarcoat things.

"Alright, then!" Detective Barnega was smart enough to end the exchange right there without losing his temper - well, for the most part. "Moving on! When has he last contacted you, Ms. Van Rompaye?"

"One day, seventeen hours, and thirty-two minutes before he left," Jo responded immediately, ignoring Detective Barnega as he raised an eyebrow. The redhead had always been a rather precise person. "We spoke - texted, in fact - about our schools of choice. Stanford for him, Berkeley for me. Before you ask, there was nothing suspicious in his texts." Detective Barnega bit his lip; it was clear that he weren't receiving any useful information, considering the questions he's been asking.

"Do you think anyone would've wanted to hurt Mason?" he inquired, not particularly friendly. Jo shrugged, somewhat indifferent. Yes, she was concerned about Mason, but she wasn't good at conveying her emotions. The redhead probably seemed like she didn't care, although that wasn't the case.

"Really?" Jo scoffed. "The Mason Bass? He's Los Angeles' real golden boy." The redhead leaned forward. "Listen, while I'm not exactly socially or emotionally adept, I actually understand - well, somewhat - what's going out there. There are two types of golden boys. Those who hate the first type mainly hate him because he's liked by so many people, or they're jealous of his talents. The second type? Well, the second type is sincerely loved by the people around him. Even those who dislike him could never hate him enough to sabotage, kidnap, or throw him off his path to stardom, because the second type of golden boy just has that damn charisma. Mason's the second type. Statistically, there is only a 2.13% chance that anybody who knows him would want to hurt him. Balance of probability, if Mason was hurt in any way, shape, or form by another human being, they would most likely not know him personally."

Officer Barnega was still scrawling down his last notes before finally asking another question. "Are you completely sure about that? There must be someone who despises him beyond belief. Despite your...guide on golden boys, every one of them is sure to have an archenemy of sorts." Barnega scoffed, leaning back in his seat. "A guy like that...if people like him as much as you say, surely he's played around with the ladies? You know, hook up, have sex, dump them on the street?"

Even Jo could've lost her composure at that statement. Barnega clearly didn't care much for this case. "Excuse me, Barnie," Jo said sharply, paying no attention to the flustered noise the detective made at the nickname, "are you sure you are a qualified officer? If you've cheated your way into your position, I wouldn't be surprised. Perhaps you've done some...less than chaste things with your colleagues? 'You know, hook up, have sex, dump them on the street?' You seem far from professional. Although I'm not the one to assume one's sexuality, a bisexual - or is it pansexual? I'm not sure - man like yourself wouldn't have too big of a problem with the police's...variety. It's a surefire way of climbing the ranks, quickly and easily."

Although Jo couldn't exactly be described as patient, she couldn't quite be described as easily triggered either. There were very little things in the world that could truly get Jo fired up, and to be honest, Mason wasn't one of them. But he was her friend, and Jo was not going to let Officer Barnie get away with a statement like that.

It was safe to say, that after that incident, Jo and a very flustered Officer Barnega finished that interview up as quickly as possible. Jo strode out of the makeshift interview room, her demeanor rather calm and collected, given the situation. She approached the fraction of the LANC club who were already interviewed leaned against the edge of the couch in a slightly awkward manner. She did try to be sensitive of her friends' feelings, but she wasn't exactly good at it.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jodene K. Van Rompaye Character Portrait: Remy Solomon Character Portrait: Jem Hill Character Portrait: Jane Bennett Character Portrait: Summer Bass Character Portrait: Mackenzie Lovato Character Portrait: Matthew Tate

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"My name is Julia and I am... six years... old and I go to ele-ele-elementary school?" The girl was uncertain as she strung the words together with a hesitant look at Matty "My name is Julia and I am six years old and I go to elementary school" she confirmed her statement. He broke into a smile at her efforts "Well done Julia, perfecto!" He pulled a golden star sticker from his pocket, reaching out to pop the star on her nose. She giggled and pulled it off, sticking it down onto her book. Julia Garcia was one of Matty's favourite students (Although, he didn't really have a favourite, they were all his favourites). She was 6 years old and a ray of sunshine. Over the past few days Matt had thrown himself into his tutoring sessions, finding solace in their smiles and smallest triumphs. Julia had been working hard at perfecting her English, and considering she had started off knowing very little, he was impressed.

The community centre was full of children running back and forward with parents calling out to their kids in rapid Spanish. Matty was set up in the corner of the large hall with a couple of beanbags and a desk strewn about. This was where he spent a lot of his time. He was paid to help a lot of the kids learn English by a community charity though mostly he showed up to lend a hand for the day in whatever anyone needed. He slouched over in his beanbag, scribbling down notes onto his book to remind him to make a small test for her next week. He preferred tutoring here to helping kids in his neighbourhood learn French. The community centre felt like a second home to him.

The sound of his phone buzzing broke him away from her triumph. He gave her an apologetic look as he reached across the table to find it. A reminder flashed on the screen, the words 'DETECTIVE MEETING'. He sighed sitting up. Julia sat up as well, pushing her book towards him. She understood that was his time to leave. "Thank you Matty" she grinned enunciating carefully. He lifted her book, tucking it in his bag before standing up. "I'll see you next Tuesday" He promised, pulling his coat on as well as his bag, sorting himself out. He turned to Julia's mother who was hunched over a desk with her husband attempting to fill out some forms. Matty waved to her as he left, receiving a small goodbye from her in response.

When he was tutoring, he didn't feel so alone. It was a distraction from the big issues he didn't really want to think about. As he threw his bag into the back of his car, he sent a quick text to his mom, letting her know he was heading to the Bass house. Both of his parents had been overly wary about their children's comings and goings since Mason's disappearance, constantly texting. He threw the phone the passenger seat and started driving. The drive felt all too familiar as he made his way back to his neighbourhood. He kept the radio low, listening out for his phone buzzing.

From outside, the Bass house looked like any other on the street, typical family home almost identical to his own. In fact, if he squinted, both of the houses looked the same. Outside of his own house, his brother was drawing on the path with chalk while his mother watched with eagle eyes from the porch. She'd been outside most of the time since Mason went missing, watching. She and Mason's mother always looked out for each other.

Inside, the Bass house was painfully quiet. Matty could barely mumble a hello to the rest of the LANC as he made his way through the house to where they'd set up the interrogation room.


-


"What's your relationship with Mr Bass?"

"Friends of course, neighbours, I've known him since we were kids, since I moved in next door"

"And how long have you known Mason for then, Mr Tate?" The question sounded almost accusatory from Officer Barnega. Matty shifted in his seat on the awkwardly. He wanted to be where the two detectives were, not being interrogated by them. He must have shown his nervousness as Detective Walker repeated the question, her tone less glaringly offensive and less sharp "Matthew, how long have you known Mason for?"

"15 years, well 14 years, 46 weeks and one day, but who's counting?" His joke felt oddly flat in his mouth. Walker gave him a small sympathetic laugh. At least he was pathetically funny. Officer Barnega gave him an odd look. Matty decided that he really disliked the male officer.

"When did Mason last talk to you?" He continued, steamrolling on. Walker seemed to sigh at her partner's lack of understanding for the young man in front of them. "Just before he left, he text me to tell me he was heading off. I was tutoring at the time so I didn't get a chance to reply, by the time I replied he wasn't picking up for anyone" The last part caught in Matty's throat. If he had actually replied maybe... no he didn't need to dwell on the maybes. He absentmindedly began twisting a beaded bracelet around his wrist, chewing on his lip. He worked up his courage to make eye contact with the detectives.

"You're a tutor Mr Tate? Where were you tutoring when he text you?" Barnega pressed. Matt had to suppress an eye roll. The detective was really grasping at straws. Matty leant down to root around in his bag for his business card, eventually surfacing to pass it to Detective Walker. She studied the card before nodding, passing it to her partner who dropped it onto the desk without a glance. "I was teaching a kid called Andrew... Andrew Paul, he lives a couple houses down from here, I didn't leave for another hour after he text me" They were probably trying to narrow down
"Now, i really want you to think about this one, Matthew, do you know if anyone would want to hurt Mason?" If Matthew ever became a detective, he'd prefer to be like Walker. She seemed to understand how to interview someone. Matty shook his head. "Mason's the golden child, the prodigy, surely there's someone" Barnega butted in. Matt frowned "Nobody disliked Mason, he was friends with everyone, if he did have enemies, they'd be our age... I doubt a 17 or 18 year old would particularly want to hurt a kid like him" He shivered "He's a goo-"

"Mason is a good kid, yeah we get the picture Mr Tate but this really isn't helping us find him. Interview suspended, you can go"

"Thank you for talking with us Matthew, if you remember anything you know where to find us"


-


Matty swore under his breath as he made his way back to the living room. It all seemed useless. The cops didn't exactly seem too bothered about Mason, Barnega was too flippant and asking the most generic questions. Walker seemed too sympathetic, like she was preparing them all for the worst. To be fair to her, at least it was comforting to know someone was thinking along the same lines as him. He had talked with Jem, they both knew the statistics.

He nodded to Mrs Bass as he passed the kitchen, offering her a small smile. She was still trying to keep busy, to distract herself just like the rest of them. "Mrs Bass, my mom says that if you need anything she can be over as quick as a flash, anything at all" He said softly. The woman shook her head with a slight smile "Thank you Matty, and tell your mom I said thanks too, now... go and hang out with the rest of them, they're still in the living room. Jem brought pizza"

"I will Mrs Bass-" He stopped for a second, about to continue, to say something hopeful but there was nothing really to say. She turned to talk to her sister and Matty stood awkwardly for a moment before making his way to the living room. An aura of solemnness clung to the air, punctured only by the smell of pizza. He dropped onto the floor leaning back against the table "Thoughts on Detective Grumpy?" He asked, attempting to make someone, anyone, smile "Think he has it out for us"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jodene K. Van Rompaye Character Portrait: Remy Solomon Character Portrait: Jem Hill Character Portrait: Mason Bass Character Portrait: Jane Bennett Character Portrait: Summer Bass Character Portrait: Mackenzie Lovato Character Portrait: Matthew Tate

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          "God, he found another one."

          The pounding in his head wouldn't stop, it just kept pounding, pounding, pounding, like the thoughts in his head. His thoughts didn't cease when he opened his eyes, only worsened in intensity when he found himself in a very unfamiliar bedroom with very unfamiliar people; without his safety net of little pills from an orange bottle, he skid back into the corner of the bed, his body settling into panic. "Hey, hey, hey, kid, it's okay. We're not gonna hurt ya!" The girl in front of him, wild blonde hair (like Summer) and tired but innately curious eyes staring at him, couldn't have been older than fifteen and had no business calling him a kid.

          "H-how'mi supposed to know that? You could be the ones that t-took me here!" Mason tried to sound intimidating but couldn't keep the helplessness from his voice. He'd been in and out for the last few days, wrestling with hunger and panic and wading in and out of consciousness. He was almost positive he had a concussion of some sort, but who knows what could be wrong when he's here- wherever here is.

          The girl in front of him sighed, and tested Mason by sitting at the end of the bed. There was another kid in the room, younger than the girl by at least four years, watching the door like a hawk. "Did a man offer to take you to a rest stop? To wait for the next bus, or to find some place to sleep?" The girl asked, her eyes probing him for answers. He didn't know why, but her gaze wasn't as threatening as before, and he can at least relax more since she was trying to help him. With a few stabilizing breaths, in out in out, Mason reached for the last memories that occupied his mind. He was on his way to Stanford, riding along in his truck listening to a playlist that Remy made for him, when his truck started slowing and he pulled to the side of the road. Then, "uh, yeah, a man stopped after my truck stalled. I was going to Stanford, I had orientation, he-he offered to take me to the gas station and then- well, now I'm here." Mason's voice drops at the end, his eyes adverting to his hands intertwining in one another painfully.

          "So you're the type of kid they send search parties for- he finally made a mistake." The boy finally piped up, turning to stare at Mason. Both of them looked to him like he was their saving grace, but he wasn't even sure he could save himself. Before he could let them down, let everyone down- there's a door somewhere that swings open loudly, a deep voice calling out. "Zoey? Charlie? I hope you haven't been snacking too much, I just brought dinner home."

          The kids scurry out of his room, just as a man, the man, walked up to his open door. He didn't necessarily look threatening, but the situation they're in put Mason on edge, keeping to the back wall. "Oh good, you're awake."

          _


          Summer quickly found comfort when Remy slipped in beside her and her head rested on his shoulder easily. She could only nod at his comment, a spare tear slipping from her eyes. "I don't get why they don't- don't understand that Mason's... Mason wouldn't do this." Summer's voice thickened with tears she pressed into Remy's shoulder. Jane joined them, kissing Summer's forehead and sitting down with her back resting against the couch, letting out an equally thick "I love you", which was quickly returned by Summer.

          The LANC crew settled in one by one, the next being Jem who sat by her side. Summer fished a hand out of the blankets and held onto his without a second thought. Although their feelings for each other were complicated, she needed him, and wouldn't liet that confusion get in her way. "Thank you for b-being here, J." Summer sniffled out again, rubbing her thumb against his hand.

          Summer was equally thankful for Matty's attempt at lightening the mood, calling that asshole Barnega "Detective Grumpy". "I think he can go shove it." Summer muttered, turning her head to look back at the kitchen. The two detectives were hunched over the table, discussing files with her parents. Her eyes followed them as they rose from the table and moved to address the group of teenagers gathered by the couch. Judging by Barnega's lips set in a firm line, it seemed Walker would be doing all the talking.

          "First off, thank you all for coming to speak with us today. Any information on Mason can be crucial to an investigation like this," Walker starts, her smile full of hope that Summer just couldn't muster at this point, it was too painful. She remembered something Jem had said a while back, one of his stories about his father's cases. After forty-eight hours, they're looking for a body. "We trust that each and every one of you gave us all the information you could. For now, the best way you all can help us is being there for each other. Being your age is difficult, especially when you have to deal with a situation like this. Rest assured the Los Angeles' Missing Persons Unit is doing everything they can to find your friend. If you have information you remember at a later date, our information is on the table for you all to pick up."

          "So we just sit here waiting to see if whoever or whatever has Mason will give him back? There's nothing we can do?" Summer retaliates, her eyes red and glossy but her voice stinging. The female gives her a smile, a pitiful smile, and answers, "please. Just give us time, Summer. We'll find your brother."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jodene K. Van Rompaye Character Portrait: Remy Solomon Character Portrait: Jem Hill Character Portrait: Jane Bennett Character Portrait: Rosalie Owens Character Portrait: Summer Bass Character Portrait: Mackenzie Lovato Character Portrait: Matthew Tate Character Portrait: Jasper Owens

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ᴋɴᴏᴄᴋ. ᴋɴᴏᴄᴋ, ᴋɴᴏᴄᴋ.

"sᴀғᴇ ᴛᴏ ᴄᴏᴍᴇ ɪᴛ?" ᴊᴀsᴘᴇʀ's ᴠᴏɪᴄᴇ ᴡᴀs ᴍᴜғғʟᴇᴅ ʙʏ ᴛʜᴇ ᴡᴏᴏᴅᴇɴ ᴅᴏᴏʀ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ʟᴇᴀᴅ ɪɴᴛᴏ ʀᴏsɪᴇ's ʀᴏᴏᴍ. ᴡʜᴇɴ ʀᴏsɪᴇ ɢᴀᴠᴇ ᴛʜᴇ ᴏᴋᴀʏ ᴡɪᴛʜ ʜᴇʀ ᴏᴡɴ ᴍᴜғғʟᴇᴅ ʏᴇᴀʜ, ᴊᴀsᴘᴇʀ ᴡᴀʟᴋᴇᴅ ʀɪɢʜᴛ ɪɴᴛᴏ ᴀ ʟᴀɴᴅ ᴏғ ᴀᴘᴘʟᴇs ᴀɴᴅ ᴘᴏᴛ. ᴛʜᴇ sᴄᴇɴᴛ ᴅɪᴅɴ'ᴛ sᴛʀᴀɪɢʜᴛ ᴜᴘ sᴍᴀᴄᴋ ᴊᴀsᴘᴇʀ ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ ғᴀᴄᴇ ʙᴜᴛ ʀᴀᴛʜᴇʀ ᴄᴀʀᴇssᴇᴅ ʜɪs ɴᴏsᴇ. ɪᴛ ʀᴇᴍɪɴᴅᴇᴅ ʜɪᴍ ᴏғ ᴀɴ ᴇᴘɪsᴏᴅᴇ ᴏғ sᴘᴏɴɢᴇʙᴏʙ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴋɪɴᴅ ᴏғ ᴍᴀᴅᴇ ʜɪᴍ ᴄʜᴜᴄᴋʟᴇ ᴜɴᴅᴇʀɴᴇᴀᴛʜ ʜɪs ʙʀᴇᴀᴛʜ. ᴏɴ ʜᴇʀ ʙᴇᴅ ᴡɪᴛʜ ᴀ ʙʟᴀɴᴋᴇᴛ ᴏᴠᴇʀ ʜᴇʀ ʜᴇᴀᴅ, ᴡᴀᴋɪɴɢ ᴜᴘ ᴏɴʟʏ ᴛᴇɴ ᴍɪɴᴜᴛᴇs ᴀɢᴏ ғʀᴏᴍ ᴀ ᴡᴇʟʟ-ᴅᴇsᴇʀᴠᴇᴅ ɴᴀᴘ, sᴀᴛ ʀᴏsᴀʟɪᴇ, ʀᴇsᴘᴇᴄᴛғᴜʟʟʏ ɪɴ ʜᴇʀ ɴᴀᴛᴜʀᴇ, ʜɪᴛᴛɪɴɢ ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏɴɢ ᴡʜɪʟᴇ ᴀᴜsᴛɪɴ ᴘᴏᴡᴇʀs ᴘʟᴀʏᴇᴅ ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴀᴄᴋɢʀᴏᴜɴᴅ. sʜᴇ ᴡᴀs ᴛʀʏɪɴɢ ʜᴇʀ ʜᴀʀᴅᴇsᴛ ᴛᴏ ᴋᴇᴇᴘ ʜᴇʀ sᴘɪʀɪᴛs ʟɪғᴛᴇᴅ, ɪᴛ ᴡᴀs ʜᴇʀ ᴄᴏᴘɪɴɢ ᴍᴇᴄʜᴀɴɪsᴍ. "ᴡʜᴏᴀ, ᴅᴀʙs? ғʀᴏᴍ ᴍʏ ɢᴜʏ?" ᴊᴀsᴘᴇʀ ᴇxᴄʟᴀɪᴍᴇᴅ, ʀᴏsɪᴇ ᴍᴏᴠɪɴɢ ᴏᴠᴇʀ sᴏ ʜɪs ᴇᴀɢᴇʀ ᴀss ᴄᴀɴ ʜɪᴛ ɪᴛ. "ɴᴏ," ʀᴏsɪᴇ sʟᴏᴡʟʏ ᴇxʜᴀʟᴇᴅ ᴛʜᴇ sᴍᴏᴋᴇ, "ɪᴛ's ғʀᴏᴍ ᴍʏ ɴᴇᴡ ᴄᴏɴɴᴇᴄᴛ. ɴᴇᴡ ɢɪʀʟ ɪɴ ᴛᴏᴡɴ, ɴᴏᴀʜ." ʀᴏsɪᴇ ᴡʀᴀᴘᴘᴇᴅ ʜᴇʀsᴇʟғ ᴇᴠᴇɴ ᴍᴏʀᴇ ɪɴ ʜᴇʀ ʙʟᴀɴᴋᴇᴛ. ᴇɴᴏᴜɢʜ sᴏ, ᴛʜᴀᴛ sʜᴇ ʟᴏᴏᴋᴇᴅ ʟɪᴋᴇ ᴀ ɴᴜɴ ᴀɴᴅ ᴊᴀsᴘᴇʀ ᴅɪᴅɴ'ᴛ ᴡᴀsᴛᴇ ᴀɴʏ ᴛɪᴍᴇ ᴘᴏɪɴᴛɪɴɢ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴏᴜᴛ. ʜᴇ ʟᴏᴏᴋᴇᴅ ᴏᴠᴇʀ ᴀᴛ ʜɪs ᴛᴡɪɴ, ʜᴇʟᴅ ᴀ ғᴀᴄᴇ ᴏғ ᴀᴍᴜsᴇᴅ ᴛᴏʀᴛᴜʀᴇ, ᴄʟᴀᴘᴘᴇᴅ ʜɪs ʜᴀɴᴅs ᴛᴏɢᴇᴛʜᴇʀ ᴀs ɪғ ʜᴇ ᴡᴀs ɢᴏɪɴɢ ᴛᴏ ᴘʀᴀʏ ᴀɴᴅ ʙᴏᴡᴇᴅ ʜɪs ʜᴇᴀᴅ. "ʙʟᴇss ʏᴏᴜ sɪsᴛᴇʀ." ɪᴍᴍᴇᴅɪᴀᴛᴇʟʏ ᴀғᴛᴇʀ ᴄᴀᴍᴇ ᴀ sʜᴏʀᴛ ʟᴀᴜɢʜ ғʀᴏᴍ ʀᴏsɪᴇ. ɪᴛ ᴍᴀᴅᴇ ᴊᴀsᴘᴇʀ ғᴇᴇʟ ᴀ ʟɪᴛᴛʟᴇ ʙᴇᴛᴛᴇʀ, ɢᴇᴛᴛɪɴɢ ʜɪs sɪsᴛᴇʀ ᴛᴏ ʟᴀᴜɢʜ ᴀɴᴅ ᴀʟʟ. ɪᴛ's ʙᴇᴇɴ ʜᴀʀᴅ ᴡɪᴛʜ ᴍᴀsᴏɴ ᴍɪssɪɴɢ ᴀɴᴅ ʜᴇ ᴄᴏᴜʟᴅ sᴇᴇ ʜᴏᴡ ɪᴛ ᴡᴀs ᴀғғᴇᴄᴛɪɴɢ ʀᴏsɪᴇ. sʜᴇ ᴡᴀs sᴍɪʟɪɴɢ ᴀɴᴅ ʟᴀᴜɢʜɪɴɢ ʟᴇss ᴡʜɪᴄʜ ᴡᴀsɴ'ᴛ ᴀᴛ ᴀʟʟ ʟɪᴋᴇ ʜᴇʀ.

ᴛʜᴇ ᴛᴡᴏ ʙᴏᴛʜ ᴛᴏᴏᴋ ᴀɴᴏᴛʜᴇʀ ʜɪᴛ ᴀɴᴅ ʟᴀɪᴅ ʙᴀᴄᴋ ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴇᴅ, ʙᴏᴛʜ sᴛᴀʀɪɴɢ ᴀᴛ ᴛʜᴇ ᴄᴇɪʟɪɴɢ ᴀɴᴅ ʀᴇʟᴇᴀsɪɴɢ ᴛʜᴇɪʀ sᴍᴏᴋᴇ ᴀᴛ ᴛʜᴇ sᴀᴍᴇ ᴛɪᴍᴇ. ᴛʜᴇʏ ʟᴀɪᴅ ʟɪᴋᴇ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ғᴏʀ ᴀ ᴍᴏᴍᴇɴᴛ. ɪɴ ᴀ sɪʟᴇɴᴄᴇ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴏᴛʜᴇʀs ᴡᴏᴜʟᴅ ғɪɴᴅ ᴀᴡᴋᴡᴀʀᴅ ᴏʀ ғᴇᴇʟ ᴀᴡᴋᴡᴀʀᴅ ɪɴ ʙᴜᴛ ɴᴏᴛ ᴛʜᴇᴍ, ᴛʜᴇʏ ᴡᴇʀᴇ ᴛᴏᴏ ᴄʟᴏsᴇ ғᴏʀ ᴛʜᴀᴛ. "...ᴛʜɪɴᴋ ʜᴇ's ᴏᴋᴀʏ? ʜᴇ ʜᴀs ᴛᴏ ʙᴇ, ʀɪɢʜᴛ?" ᴀsᴋᴇᴅ ʀᴏsɪᴇ, ᴛʜᴇ ᴘʀᴇssᴜʀᴇ ʙᴇʜɪɴᴅ ʜᴇʀ ᴇʏᴇs ɢʀᴏᴡɪɴɢ ᴀs ᴛʜᴇ ʟᴀsᴛ ʜɪᴛ sᴇᴛᴛʟᴇs ɪɴ. ᴊᴀsᴘᴇʀ ᴢᴏɴᴇᴅ ᴏᴜᴛ sᴛᴀʀɪɴɢ ᴀᴛ ᴛʜᴇ ᴄᴇɪʟɪɴɢ ʙᴜᴛ ʜᴇ ʜᴇᴀʀᴅ ʜɪs sɪsᴛᴇʀ, ғᴇᴇʟɪɴɢ sᴏᴍᴇᴛʜɪɴɢ ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ ᴘɪᴛ ᴏғ ʜɪs sᴛᴏᴍᴀᴄʜ ᴀs ʜᴇ ᴀɴsᴡᴇʀᴇᴅ. "ʏᴇᴀʜ, ɪ ᴛʜɪɴᴋ sᴏ. ʏᴇ ᴋɴᴏᴡ ᴍᴀsᴏɴ, ʜᴇ's sᴍᴀʀᴛ." ʀᴏsᴇ ᴛᴏᴏᴋ ᴀ ᴅᴇᴇᴘ ʙʀᴇᴀᴛʜ ᴛʜᴇɴ ᴘᴜʟʟᴇᴅ ʜᴇʀsᴇʟғ ᴜᴘ ᴀɴᴅ ᴏғғ ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴇᴅ. ᴛʜᴇʀᴇ ᴡᴀs ᴀ ᴘᴀʀᴛ ᴏғ ʜᴇʀ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴡᴀɴᴛᴇᴅ ᴛᴏ ʙᴇʟɪᴇᴠᴇ ᴊᴀsᴘᴇʀ ʙᴜᴛ ᴛʜᴇ sᴇᴇᴅ ᴏғ ᴡᴏʀʀʏ ᴡᴀs ᴀʟʀᴇᴀᴅʏ ɢʀᴏᴡɪɴɢ sʟᴏᴡʟʏ ɪɴ ʜᴇʀ ʜᴇᴀᴅ. sʜᴇ ᴄᴏᴜʟᴅɴ'ᴛ ʜᴇʟᴘ ʜᴇʀsᴇʟғ. "ᴄ'ᴍᴏɴ ᴛʜᴇɴ, ʟᴇᴛ's ʙᴜɢɢᴇʀ ᴏғғ." ʀᴏsɪᴇ ᴛʜʀᴇᴡ ᴏɴ ʜᴇʀ ᴡᴏʀɴ ᴏᴜᴛ ᴡʜɪᴛᴇ ᴄʜᴜᴄᴋs, sᴘʀᴀʏᴇᴅ ʜᴇʀsᴇʟғ ᴡɪᴛʜ ʜᴇʀ ɢʀᴇᴇɴ ᴀᴘᴘʟᴇ ʙᴏᴅʏ sᴘʀᴀʏ ᴛʜᴇɴ sᴘʀᴀʏᴇᴅ ᴊᴀsᴘᴇʀ ᴡʜᴏ ᴅᴇғɪɴɪᴛᴇʟʏ ɪɴʜᴀʟᴇᴅ sᴏᴍᴇ, ᴀɴᴅ ᴡᴀs ᴛʜᴇ ғɪʀsᴛ ᴏᴜᴛ ᴏғ ʜᴇʀ ʀᴏᴏᴍ, ғᴏʟʟᴏᴡᴇᴅ ʙʏ ᴊᴀsᴘᴇʀ ᴡʜᴏ sᴛᴏᴘᴘᴇᴅ ᴛᴏ ᴛᴜʀɴ ᴏғғ ᴛʜᴇ ᴛ.ᴠ, ᴄᴀɴᴅʟᴇ, ʟɪɢʜᴛ ᴀɴᴅ ᴛᴏ ɢʀᴀʙ ʀᴏsɪᴇ's ʙᴀɢ ᴏғ ᴊᴇʟʟʏ ʙᴇᴀɴs.

ᴀғᴛᴇʀ ʟᴏᴄᴋɪɴɢ ᴜᴘ ᴛʜᴇ ғʀᴏɴᴛ ᴅᴏᴏʀ ᴛʜᴇɪʀ ᴍᴏᴛʜᴇʀ ᴘᴜʟʟᴇᴅ ᴜᴘ ɪɴᴛᴏ ᴛʜᴇ ᴅʀɪᴠᴇ ᴡᴀʏ ʀɪɢʜᴛ ᴏɴ ᴛɪᴍᴇ. "ʜᴇʏ ᴍᴜᴍ," ᴛʜᴇ ᴛᴡɪɴs ɢʀᴇᴇᴛᴇᴅ ɪɴ ᴜɴɪᴏɴ. "ᴄᴀᴜɢʜᴛ ʏᴇ ɢᴜʏs ʀɪɢʜᴛ ᴏɴ ᴛɪᴍᴇ?" ᴀsᴋᴇᴅ ᴀɪʟᴇᴇɴ, ᴄʟᴏsɪɴɢ ʜᴇʀ ᴄᴀʀ ᴅᴏᴏʀ ᴀɴᴅ ᴡᴀʟᴋɪɴɢ ᴏᴠᴇʀ ᴛᴏ ʜᴇʀ ᴄʜɪʟᴅʀᴇɴ. ᴛʜᴇʏ ᴀʟʟ ʜᴀᴅ ᴘʟᴀɴɴᴇᴅ ᴛᴏ ɢᴏ ᴛᴏɢᴇᴛʜᴇʀ ᴏᴠᴇʀ ᴛᴏ ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴀssᴇs ʙᴜᴛ ᴀɪʟᴇᴇɴ ᴡᴀsɴ'ᴛ sᴜʀᴇ ɪғ sʜᴇ'ᴅ ʙᴇ ᴀʙʟᴇ ᴛᴏ ᴄʟᴏsᴇ ᴜᴘ ᴇᴀʀʟʏ ᴛᴏᴅᴀʏ sᴏ sʜᴇ ᴛᴏʟᴅ ᴛʜᴇᴍ ᴛᴏ ɢᴏ ᴏɴ ᴡɪᴛʜᴏᴜᴛ ʜᴇʀ, ᴛʜᴀᴛ sʜᴇ'ᴅ ᴄᴀᴛᴄʜ ᴜᴘ. ʙᴜᴛ ʀᴏsᴀʟɪᴇ ᴛᴏᴏᴋ ᴏɴ ᴀɴ ᴇxᴛʀᴀ ᴇᴀʀʟʏ sʜɪғᴛ ᴛʜɪs ᴍᴏʀɴɪɴɢ ᴛᴏ ʜᴇʟᴘ ᴏᴜᴛ, ᴀɴᴅ ʙᴇᴄᴀᴜsᴇ ᴏғ, ᴊᴏᴄᴇʟʏɴ ᴀɴᴅ ᴇᴍᴍᴇᴛᴛ ᴡᴇʀᴇ ғᴇᴇʟɪɴɢ, ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴀɪʟᴇᴇɴ ᴡᴀs ᴀʙʟᴇ ᴛᴏ ᴘᴜʟʟ ɪᴛ ᴏғғ. ᴏɴᴄᴇ ʙᴏᴛʜ ʜᴇʀ ᴄʜɪʟᴅʀᴇɴ ᴡᴇʀᴇ ɪɴ ʀᴇᴀᴄʜ ᴀɪʟᴇᴇɴ ʟᴏᴏᴋᴇᴅ ᴏᴠᴇʀ ᴛʜᴇᴍ, ᴛᴀᴋɪɴɢ ɪɴ ʜᴏᴡ ᴍᴜᴄʜ ᴛʜᴇʏ'ᴠᴇ ɢʀᴏᴡɴ ᴀɴᴅ ʜᴏᴡ ɪғ sᴏᴍᴇᴛʜɪɴɢ ᴇᴠᴇʀ ʜᴀᴘᴘᴇɴᴇᴅ ᴛᴏ ᴛʜᴇᴍ sʜᴇ ᴡᴏᴜʟᴅɴ'ᴛ ᴋɴᴏᴡ ᴡʜᴀᴛ ᴛᴏ ᴅᴏ. sʜᴇ ᴄᴏᴜʟᴅɴ'ᴛ ᴇᴠᴇɴ ɪᴍᴀɢɪɴᴇ ʜᴏᴡ ʜᴇʀ ғʀɪᴇɴᴅs, ᴊᴏᴄᴇʟʏɴ ᴀɴᴅ ᴇᴍᴍᴇᴛᴛ ᴡᴇʀᴇ ғᴇᴇʟɪɴɢ, ʜᴇʀ ʜᴇᴀʀᴛ ʀᴇᴀʟʟʏ ᴡᴇɴᴛ ᴏᴜᴛ ᴛᴏ ᴛʜᴇᴍ. ᴀɪʟᴇᴇɴ ᴛʀᴇᴀᴛᴇᴅ ᴍᴀsᴏɴ ʟɪᴋᴇ ᴏɴᴇ ᴏғ ʜᴇʀ ᴏᴡɴ, ᴀʟᴏɴɢ ᴡɪᴛʜ ᴛʜᴇ ʀᴇsᴛ ᴏғ ᴛʜᴇ ᴄʟᴜʙ. ʜᴇʀ ᴀʀᴍs ʀᴇᴀᴄʜᴇᴅ ᴏᴜᴛ ᴘᴜʟɪɴɢ ʙᴏᴛʜ ʀᴏsɪᴇ ᴀɴᴅ ᴊᴀsᴘᴇʀ ɪɴᴛᴏ ᴀ ᴛɪɢʜᴛ ᴇᴍʙʀᴀᴄᴇ. ᴛʜᴇ ᴛᴡɪɴs ʜᴜɢɢᴇᴅ ʙᴀᴄᴋ, ᴛʜᴇʏ ᴄᴏᴜʟᴅ ғᴇᴇʟ ᴛʜᴇ ᴡᴏʀʀʏ, sᴀᴅɴᴇss ᴀɴᴅ ʟᴏᴠᴇ ʀᴀᴅɪᴀᴛɪɴɢ ᴏғғ ᴏғ ᴛʜᴇɪʀ ᴍᴏᴛʜᴇʀ. ᴛʜᴇʏ ʜᴜɢɢᴇᴅ ɪᴛ ᴏᴜᴛ ғᴏʀ ᴀ ᴄᴏᴜᴘʟᴇ ᴏғ ᴍᴏʀᴇ sᴇᴄᴏɴᴅs ʙᴇғᴏʀᴇ ᴛʜᴇɪʀ ᴍᴏᴛʜᴇʀ ᴘᴜʟʟᴇᴅ ᴀᴡᴀʏ, ᴡɪᴘɪɴɢ ᴀ ᴛᴇᴀʀ ғʀᴏᴍ ʜᴇʀ ᴇʏᴇ. ʀᴏsɪᴇ ɢᴀᴠᴇ ᴀ ғᴇᴡ ʟɪᴛᴛʟᴇ sɴɪғғʟᴇs ʜᴇʀᴇ ᴀɴᴅ ᴛʜᴇʀᴇ ʙᴜᴛ ʙᴇsɪᴅᴇs ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴛʜᴇ ʟɪᴛᴛʟᴇ ғᴀᴍɪʟʏ ᴍᴀᴅᴇ ᴛʜᴇɪʀ ᴡᴀʏ ᴅᴏᴡɴ ᴛʜᴇ sᴛʀᴇᴇᴛ ᴛᴏᴡᴀʀᴅs ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴀssᴇs, ᴊᴀsᴘᴇʀ ᴍᴜɴᴄʜɪɴɢ ᴀᴡᴀʏ ᴀᴛ ᴛʜᴇ ᴊᴇʟʟʏʙᴇᴀɴs.

ᴜᴘᴏɴ ᴀʀʀɪᴠɪɴɢ ᴀɪʟᴇᴇɴ, ᴊᴀsᴘᴇʀ ᴀɴᴅ ʀᴏsɪᴇ ᴡᴇɴᴛ sᴛʀᴀɪɢʜᴛ ᴛᴏ ɢʀᴇᴇᴛ ᴍᴀsᴏɴ's ᴘᴀʀᴇɴᴛs ᴡɪᴛʜ ʜᴜɢs, ɪɴᴄʟᴜᴅɪɴɢ ᴊᴀɴᴇ's ᴍᴏᴍ ᴡʜᴏ ᴊᴀsᴘᴇʀ ɢʀᴇᴇᴛᴇᴅ ʟᴀsᴛʟʏ ʙᴜᴛ ʟɪɴɢᴇʀᴇᴅ ᴀʀᴏᴜɴᴅ, ᴍᴀᴋɪɴɢ sᴍᴀʟʟ ᴛᴀʟᴋ. ʜᴇ ʜᴀsɴ'ᴛ ᴛᴀʟᴋᴇᴅ ᴛᴏ ᴊᴀɴᴇ ɪɴ ᴀ ᴡʜɪʟᴇ ɴᴏʀ ʜᴇʀ ᴍᴏᴛʜᴇʀ sᴏ ʜᴇ ᴡᴀɴᴛᴇᴅ ᴛᴏ ᴋɴᴏᴡ, ᴀᴛ ʟᴇᴀsᴛ, ʜᴏᴡ ᴛʜᴇʏ ʙᴏᴛʜ ᴡᴇʀᴇ ᴅᴏɪɴɢ ʙᴜᴛ ʙᴇғᴏʀᴇ ᴅᴇʟɪʟᴀʜ ᴄᴏᴜʟᴅ ɢᴇᴛ ɪɴᴛᴏ ᴅᴇᴛᴀɪʟ ᴀʙᴏᴜᴛ ᴀɴʏᴛʜɪɴɢ ʀᴏsɪᴇ ᴛᴀᴘᴘᴇᴅ ʜᴇʀ ʙʀᴏᴛʜᴇʀ. "ᴅᴇᴛᴇᴄᴛɪᴠᴇs." ᴛʜᴇ ᴏɴʟʏ ᴛʜɪɴɢ ʀᴏsɪᴇ ᴄᴏᴜʟᴅ ɢᴇᴛ ᴏᴜᴛ ʙᴇғᴏʀᴇ ᴛʜᴇʏ ᴡᴇʀᴇ ʀɪɢʜᴛ ɪɴ ғʀᴏɴᴛ ᴏғ ᴛʜᴇᴍ. ʀᴏsɪᴇ ɴᴏᴛɪᴄᴇᴅ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴛʜᴇʏ ᴄᴀᴍᴇ ғʀᴏᴍ ᴛʜᴇ ʟɪᴠɪɴɢ ʀᴏᴏᴍ ᴡʜᴇʀᴇ sʜᴇ ᴘᴇᴇᴋᴇᴅ sʟɪɢʜᴛʟʏ ᴀʀᴏᴜɴᴅ ᴛʜᴇ ᴍᴀʟᴇ ᴅᴇᴛᴇᴄᴛɪᴠᴇ ᴀɴᴅ ᴄᴀᴜɢʜᴛ ɢʟɪᴍᴘsᴇ ᴏғ ᴍᴀɴʏ ʜᴇᴀᴅs, ʜᴇʀ ғʀɪᴇɴᴅs. "ᴛʜᴇsᴇ ᴀʀᴇ ᴛʜᴇ ᴏᴡᴇɴ ᴛᴡɪɴs" ᴅᴇᴛᴇᴄᴛɪᴠᴇ ᴡᴀʟᴋᴇʀ ᴀɴɴᴏᴜɴᴄᴇᴅ ᴛᴏ ʜᴇʀ ᴘᴀʀᴛɴᴇʀ, ᴅᴇᴛᴇᴄᴛɪᴠᴇ ʙᴀʀɴᴇɢᴀ. "ɢʟᴀᴅ ʏᴏᴜ ᴄᴀɴ ғɪɴᴀʟʟʏ ᴊᴏɪɴ ᴜs." ᴛʜᴇ ᴍᴀʟᴇ ᴅᴇᴛᴇᴄᴛɪᴠᴇ sᴘᴏᴋᴇ, ᴀ sʟɪɢʜᴛ sᴀʀᴄᴀsᴛɪᴄ ᴛᴏɴᴇ ɪɴ ʜɪs ᴠᴏɪᴄᴇ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ɪɴsᴛᴀɴᴛʟʏ ᴍᴀᴅᴇ ʀᴏsɪᴇ ɴᴀʀʀᴏᴡ ʜᴇʀ ᴇʏᴇs. ᴅᴇᴛᴇᴄᴛɪᴠᴇ ᴡᴀʟᴋᴇʀ ɢᴀᴠᴇ ᴛʜᴇ ᴛᴡɪɴs ᴀ sʏᴍᴘᴀᴛʜᴇᴛɪᴄ sᴍɪʟᴇ. ʀᴏsɪᴇ ᴡᴀs ᴀʟʀᴇᴀᴅʏ ғᴀᴍɪʟɪᴀʀ ᴡɪᴛʜ ᴛʜᴇ ғᴇᴍᴀʟᴇ ᴅᴇᴛᴇᴄᴛɪᴠᴇ ʙᴇᴄᴀᴜsᴇ ᴛʜᴇʏ sᴘᴏᴋᴇ ʙᴇғᴏʀᴇ sᴏ sʜᴇ ᴡᴀs ᴍᴏʀᴇ ᴘʟᴇᴀsᴀɴᴛ ᴛᴏᴡᴀʀᴅs ʜᴇʀ ᴛʜᴜs ʟᴇᴀᴅɪɴɢ ʀᴏsɪᴇ ᴛᴏ ғᴏʟʟᴏᴡ ᴡᴀʟᴋᴇʀ ɪɴᴛᴏ ᴛʜᴇ ʀᴏᴏᴍ, ʙʀɪᴇғʟʏ ʟᴇᴀᴠɪɴɢ ᴊᴀsᴘᴇʀ ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ ᴋɪᴛᴄʜᴇɴ ᴡɪᴛʜ ʙᴀʀɴᴇɢᴀ ᴡʜᴏ ᴇʏᴇᴅ ʜɪᴍ ᴅᴏᴡɴ ᴀʟᴏɴɢ ᴡɪᴛʜ ʜɪs ᴛᴀᴛᴛᴏᴏs. ᴊᴀsᴘᴇʀ ғᴇʟᴛ ᴜɴᴄᴏᴍғᴏʀᴛᴀʙʟᴇ ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ ᴍᴀɴ's ᴀɴᴀʟʏᴢɪɴɢ ɢᴀᴢᴇ sᴏ ʜᴇ ᴛᴏᴏᴋ ᴏғғ ᴀғᴛᴇʀ ʀᴏsɪᴇ, ʙᴀʀɴᴇɢᴀ sʜᴜᴛᴛɪɴɢ ᴛʜᴇ ᴅᴏᴏʀ ʙᴇʜɪɴᴅ ᴛʜᴇᴍ ᴏɴᴄᴇ ᴛʜᴇʏ ᴡᴇʀᴇ ᴀʟʟ sᴇᴛᴛʟᴇᴅ.

ᴊᴜsᴛ ʟɪᴋᴇ ʀᴏsɪᴇ ᴛʜᴏᴜɢʜᴛ ɪᴛ ᴡᴏᴜʟᴅ ʙᴇ ᴛʜᴇ ǫᴜᴇsᴛɪᴏɴɪɴɢ ᴡᴇɴᴛ ғᴀsᴛ ᴀɴᴅ sᴍᴏᴏᴛʜ. ᴛʜᴇʀᴇ ᴡᴀsɴ'ᴛ ᴍᴜᴄʜ ᴛᴏ ᴛᴇʟʟ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴡᴏᴜʟᴅ ᴀᴄᴛᴜᴀʟʟʏ ʜᴇʟᴘ ᴛʜᴇᴍ ᴏɴʟʏ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ʀᴏsɪᴇ sᴇɴᴛ ᴍᴀsᴏɴ ᴀ ᴛᴇxᴛ ʙᴇғᴏʀᴇ ʜᴇᴀᴅɪɴɢ ᴏғғ ᴡʜɪᴄʜ ʀᴇᴀᴅ "sᴀғᴇ ᴛʀɪᴘ ᴍᴀᴄᴇ! sᴇɴᴅ ᴘɪᴄᴛᴜʀᴇs!! :D" ᴀɴᴅ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴊᴀsᴘᴇʀ ᴘʟᴀʏᴇᴅ ᴀ ʟɪᴛᴛʟᴇ sᴏᴄᴄᴇʀ ɢᴀᴍᴇ ᴡɪᴛʜ ʜɪᴍ ᴛʜᴇ ɴɪɢʜᴛ ʙᴇғᴏʀᴇ. sᴛᴇᴘᴘɪɴɢ ᴏᴜᴛ ᴏғ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ʀᴏᴏᴍ ғᴇʟᴛ ʟɪᴋᴇ ᴀ sᴍᴀʟʟ ᴡᴇɪɢʜᴛ ᴡᴀs ʟɪғᴛᴇᴅ ᴏғғ ᴛʜᴇɪʀ sʜᴏᴜʟᴅᴇʀs. ᴛʜᴇ ᴅᴇᴛᴇᴄᴛɪᴠᴇs ᴡᴇɴᴛ ᴏᴠᴇʀ ᴛᴏ ᴛʜᴇ ᴀᴅᴜʟᴛs ᴡʜɪʟᴇ ʀᴏsɪᴇ ᴀɴᴅ ᴊᴀsᴘᴇʀ ᴍᴀᴅᴇ ᴛʜᴇɪʀ ᴡᴀʏ ᴏᴠᴇʀ ᴛᴏ ᴛʜᴇ ʟɪᴠɪɴɢ ʀᴏᴏᴍ ᴡʜᴇʀᴇ ᴇᴠᴇʀʏᴏɴᴇ ᴡᴀs ɢᴀᴛʜᴇʀᴇᴅ. ʀᴏsɪᴇ ᴘᴜʟʟᴇᴅ ᴜᴘ ʜᴇʀ ʜᴏᴏᴅɪᴇ, ʜɪᴅɪɴɢ ʜᴇʀ ᴡɪʟᴅ ᴏʀᴀɴɢᴇ ᴄᴜʀʟs ʙᴇʜɪɴᴅ ɢʀᴇʏ ғᴀʙʀɪᴄ. ʀᴏsɪᴇ's ᴇʏᴇs ʟᴀɴᴅᴇᴅ ᴏɴ sᴜᴍᴍᴇʀ ᴡʜᴏ ʙʀᴏᴋᴇ ʜᴇʀ ʜᴇᴀʀᴛ ʙᴇᴄᴀᴜsᴇ ɪᴛ ᴡᴀs ᴏɴᴇ ᴏғ ʜᴇʀ ᴄʟᴏsᴇsᴛ ғʀɪᴇɴᴅs ᴡʜᴏ ᴡᴀs ʜᴜʀᴛɪɴɢ ᴀɴᴅ ʀᴏsɪᴇ ғᴇʟᴛ ʜᴇʟᴘʟᴇss. ᴊᴀsᴘᴇʀ ᴏɴ ᴛʜᴇ ᴏᴛʜᴇʀ ʜᴀɴᴅ ᴅɪᴅɴ'ᴛ ᴋɴᴏᴡ ᴡʜᴀᴛ ᴛᴏ sᴀʏ ᴛᴏ ᴀɴʏᴏɴᴇ ᴀᴛ ᴛʜᴇ ᴍᴏᴍᴇɴᴛ. ʜᴀᴠɪɴɢ ᴛʜᴇ ᴡʜᴏʟᴇ ɢʀᴏᴜᴘ ʜᴇʀᴇ ᴡɪᴛʜᴏᴜᴛ ᴍᴀsᴏɴ, ɪᴛ ᴡᴀs sɪɴᴋɪɴɢ ɪᴛ ᴀɴᴅ ᴊᴀsᴘᴇʀ ᴅɪᴅɴ'ᴛ ʟɪᴋᴇ ɪᴛ. ᴛʜɪs ᴡᴏʀʀʏ ᴀɴᴅ ᴀɴxɪᴇᴛʏ ʜᴇ ᴡᴀs ɢᴇᴛᴛɪɴɢ. ɪᴛ ɢʀᴇᴡ ᴇᴠᴇɴ ᴍᴏʀᴇ ᴡʜᴇɴ ʜᴇ ʟᴀɪᴅ ᴇʏᴇs ᴏɴ ᴊᴀɴᴇ, ʜᴇ ʜᴀsɴ'ᴛ sᴇᴇɴ ʜᴇʀ ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ ᴘᴀsᴛ ғᴇᴡ ᴅᴀʏs sᴏ ʜᴇ ᴛʜɪɴᴋs sʜᴇ's ʙᴇᴇɴ ᴀᴠᴏɪᴅɪɴɢ ʜɪᴍ ᴀғᴛᴇʀ ᴡʜᴀᴛ ʜᴀᴘᴘᴇɴᴇᴅ. ʜᴇ ᴛʜᴏᴜɢʜᴛ ᴀʙᴏᴜᴛ ɪᴛ ᴛʜᴏᴜɢʜ, ɪғ sᴏᴍᴇᴛʜɪɴɢ ɪs ᴜᴘ ʜᴇ's ɴᴏᴛ ᴊᴜsᴛ ɢᴏɪɴɢ ᴛᴏ ʟᴇᴛ ᴛʜᴇ ᴅɪsᴛᴀɴᴄᴇ ɢʀᴏᴡ. sᴏ ᴡɪᴛʜ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ɪɴ ᴍɪɴᴅ ᴘʟᴜs sᴛɪʟʟ ʙᴇɪɴɢ ʜɪɢʜ ʜᴇ ᴍᴇʟʟᴏᴡᴇᴅ ʙᴀᴄᴋ ᴏᴜᴛ ǫᴜɪᴄᴋʟʏ ʙᴇғᴏʀᴇ sᴇᴛᴛʟɪɴɢ ᴅᴏᴡɴ ɴᴇxᴛ ᴛᴏ ᴊᴀɴᴇ ᴏɴ ᴛʜᴇ ғʟᴏᴏʀ ᴡʜɪʟᴇ ʀᴏsɪᴇ sᴀᴛ ᴏɴ ᴛʜᴇ ᴏᴘᴘᴏsɪᴛᴇ sɪᴅᴇ ᴏғ ʜᴇʀ, ᴄʟᴏsᴇsᴛ ᴛᴏ sᴜᴍᴍᴇʀ.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jodene K. Van Rompaye Character Portrait: Remy Solomon Character Portrait: Jem Hill Character Portrait: Jane Bennett Character Portrait: Rosalie Owens Character Portrait: Summer Bass Character Portrait: Mackenzie Lovato Character Portrait: Matthew Tate Character Portrait: Jasper Owens Character Portrait: Misty Navarro

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"Thanks mom." Misty says as the car comes to a standstill outside the suburban house, the woman at the wheel gazing past her daughter with a look of sorrow on her face.

"You offer Jocelyn and Emmett any help they need, alright." Camille Navarro tells her daughter, dark eyes sliding back to land on the face of her youngest daughter

"I will, mom." Misty replies, stopping short of rolling her eyes because it's really not the time for that.

"I can only imagine what they're going through..." Camille sighs softly, her lips pinching into a worried line. Misty lets her hand fall onto her mother's, squeezing the older woman's hand in hers briefly.

"I'll tell them you're coming over later?" Misty asks as she unclips her seat belt. Camille nods and drags her eyes back to the car and her immediate surroundings,

"Yes." She agrees, before her gaze catches the car clock, "You'd better get in there, you're late."

Misty nods, leans across the car and pecks her mother on the cheek, "I'll get a lift back with one of the others. Bye."

Misty pulls herself from the car, pausing to wave back at her mother only when Camille calls out a hasty "I love you" out the car window. Misty has no doubt that her mother is being extra protective since first hearing the news of Mason's disappearance, as if Misty is somehow more vulnerable to becoming the next vanishing child. Misty puts it down to her mother being extra sensitive about these things. Having dealt with a severe disease striking a family member, and living with the possibility of loss for so long, it's a shock when something sudden pulls a loved one out of your life. It reminds you to hold those you still have all the closer.

Which is exactly what Misty wants to do as she enters the Bass household. She catches the tail end of the detectives speaking with her friends, following the voices to the living room where most of the teenagers are gathered. Everyone seems to have gravitated around Summer, for which Misty is glad.

"Please. Just give us time, Summer. We'll find your brother." The female detective replies to the youngest Bass, though Misty doubts that the words offer hope to anyone that hears them. They're all worried for their friend, and only having Mason back will make Misty relax.

"Sorry I'm late." Misty says into the resulting silence, smiling weakly at her friends and offering them a nod in greeting. Then Misty's gaze turns from her friends to the two detectives addressing them, "I'm Misty Navarro. If you have to leave now, I can call you later?" she adds, having heard that they had left their contact information. "Though, I don't know much. The last time I saw Mason was a few days before he left. He was normal; happy, excited for his trip." Misty tells them, recalling the day easily. She had been joking with Summer about turning his room into a second closet when he was at Stanford. She remembers laughing at his teasing retort, and backing up Summer's assertion that Mason wouldn't need his room while he was away. Misty realises with a sick twist of her stomach, that he wouldn't need his room at all if he is... No, she can't even think of it.

On the couch Remy shifts closer to Summer, unwrapping one of the arms that is slung around his friend and patting the armrest on his other side to indicate that Misty should sit. She does, perching on the edge, but ready to stand again if the police officers wanted to question her now. Remy's hand seeks hers at the same time, and Misty takes it in her own and squeezes lightly, offering what comfort she can. Remy's doing the same to Summer, his other arm still hugging around their friend. No one had to go through this alone.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jodene K. Van Rompaye Character Portrait: Remy Solomon Character Portrait: Jem Hill Character Portrait: Jane Bennett Character Portrait: Rosalie Owens Character Portrait: Summer Bass Character Portrait: Mackenzie Lovato Character Portrait: Matthew Tate Character Portrait: Jasper Owens Character Portrait: Misty Navarro

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#2017-07-19 06:58:03, as written by Lilah
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As more and more of the Los Angeles Neighbours Club, which Jane really just referred to as a long winded term for her family, she somehow felt stronger yet still so sad. She could barley handle the looking at their faces. First was Jem and Mackenzie, coming in with pizza, bless their hearts. She couldn’t help but have a corner of her mouth twitch when Jem took seat beside her cousin Summer. It was only a matter of time before what Jane believed the inevitable to happen. Right now she was just overjoyed that Summer really had people who loved her around her. She had to be happy with at least that.

Next was Jo, one of the members of sub group ginger. Jane could almost imagine how she would have reacted to Officer Barnega. She most likely said something that nearly all of them would have wanted to say. Jane admired the girl in all reality.

After Jo was Matt. She nodded her head back to his comment about Barnega, and gave a tiny sad smile at her cousin’s retort back. She knew one day. Summer would eventually tell the cop that he could “shove it.” Directly to his face. She was surprised it hadn’t happened yet.

Then came the twins. Jane barley had a second to process coming face to face with Jasper after what happened before he walked out of sight with the detectives to be interviewed along with Rosie. Turning around to look at Summer, she said softly, “Summer, we’ll do something if they don’t, I promise.” Giving her a sincere smile, she felt the tears begin to well again as she continued “I’m with you one hundred percent. Whatever you want to do, I’ll do it.” This could be a dangerous promise, but Jane meant it fully. She would do absolutely anything for Summer or Mason. She would do anything just so Summer could have some peace of mind.

Turning back to look as the twins entered back in the room, Jane swiped her watery eyes again (thankful she wasn’t wearing mascara). As soon as she made eye contact with Jasper, immediately she went tense and averted her eyes to her hands that rested on her lap. God, why did she do such a stupid thing?

A couple days before Mason left, Jane had been at a party and had a little too many shots, mostly thanks to Rosie egging her on. And like most nights that happened, Jasper came to pick her up and drop her off at home safely. Except this time, Jane had to go and screw it all up. They had been sitting in the car in front of her house just talking about life and all the changes that were coming. Jane was rambling on and on, still very drunk, as she made a comment about how she was scared that these changes were going to effect their friendship and how she was scared they would grow distant. One second she was telling him how much she loved him and appreciated him and how he was her best friend, and in the next second she’d just leaned over and kissed him.

Now, it wasn’t exactly their first kiss, They’d had a fake wedding as young kids and had a funny peck then, but this was the first kiss the Jane had with him after realizing her feelings for him. She’d harboured a pretty big crush on him for over a year (truthfully, probably longer than that). Jane quickly had broken off the kiss and crawled out of his car with a rushed sorry and goodbye before running back into her house. She’d internally freaked out and called Remy, leaving a hysterical voicemail on his phone about what she’d done. After that, she’d gone to bed, and woke up the next morning to her father leaving them.

She hadn’t seen or really talked to Jasper since. It wasn’t even because she was avoiding him, she’d simply been so preoccupied with her dad leaving and then Mason disappearing that she hadn’t seen anyone outside of Summer and Remy. She’d realized soon after that she needed to talk to Jasper about it, to finally fess up possibly. She sure as hell didn’t want to lose him. If this whole Mason fiasco has taught her anything, it was that she couldn’t bear to lose the ones she cared about.

Taking in a deep breath as Jasper sat on one side and Rosie on the other, Jane bent her head instinctively to rest on Rosie’s shoulder. It took a second more for Jane to build up the courage that she wouldn’t have had to work up before in order to clasp Jasper’s hand softly.

Lifting her head back up as Misty walked in, Jane gave the girl a small smile before Misty spoke to the detectives. As soon as she sat down, the detectives were about to run out before Jane’s mom scurried out of the kitchen, thrusting a business card their way. Delilah softly stated, “If you can reach him anywhere, it would probably be this number.” Ah, her dad. Jane didn’t think he would be much help. Barnega nodded and went out the door a second later without a another word to anyone. Walker at least looked over at them and offered a final “We’ll let you know the second we find anything out” before slipping out to follow her partner. A five second beat passed before Jane muttered to the group, “I don’t think Barnega is a very nice man.

Jane’s mother rolled her eyes at the comment, before planting her hands on her hips. “Alright,, I’m running out to pick up Hugo from the airport. If you want anything while I’m out, you know how to reach me,” With that, Delilah left. Jane could tell her mother was trying to be strong. Her slightly wavering voice and the clearly tired circles under her eyes proved that she was struggling.

Slipping her hand from Jaspers as she stood up, Jane clasped her hands front of her, saying weakly, “I’ll take drink orders, does anyone want anything?” Jane just had to do something. Looking at Jo, she said “I know you won’t want coffee, but how about some peppermint tea?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jodene K. Van Rompaye Character Portrait: Remy Solomon Character Portrait: Jem Hill Character Portrait: Jane Bennett Character Portrait: Rosalie Owens Character Portrait: Summer Bass Character Portrait: Mackenzie Lovato Character Portrait: Matthew Tate Character Portrait: Jasper Owens Character Portrait: Misty Navarro

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Jo lifted her head as Matthew Tate entered the living room, swearing under his breath. He nodded to Summer's mom as he passed the kitchen, smile slightly as he did so. The two exchanged a few softly-spoke words before Matty made his way to the living room. He dropped onto the floor, leaning back against the table "Thoughts on Detective Grumpy?" he asked, before continuing. "Think he has it out for us."

"I think he can go shove it," Summer muttered.

Jo scoffed in response to Tate. "He clearly doesn't care," she commented. "Just another group of teens to question in a pitiful attempt to gather information. If he's not capable of the amount of sympathy that comes with his job, then he shouldn't have become a detective." Barnega shot her a dirty look from where he was discussing things with Walker.

Time sped as the Owens twins finally arrived. Rosalie had narrowed her eyes at Barnega's sarcastic tone; good for her, Jo thought to herself.

After Detective Walker addressed the group of teens, Summer shot her a sharp retort. "So we just sit here waiting to see if whoever or whatever has Mason will give him back? There's nothing we can do?" the blonde's eyes were red and watery. Walker gave her a smile full of too much pity. "Please. Just give us time, Summer. We'll find your brother."

Misty Navarro, who had walked in just as Walker was finishing up her speech, gave the group a weak smile. "Sorry I'm late," the brunette said apologetically, interrupting the solemn silence. Misty's gaze turned to the detectives. "I'm Misty Navarro," she introduced herself. "If you have to leave now, I can call you later?" she asked, before adding, "though, I don't know much. The last time I saw Mason was a few days before he left. He was normal; happy, excited for his trip." Jo drummed her fingers on her leg as Misty summarized her knowledge of the situation.

On the couch, Remy shifted closer to Summer, gesturing towards the open armrest. Misty perched on the edge as she and Remy grasped hands. As soon as she sat down, the detectives were about to leave before Ms. Bennett scurried out of the kitchen, thrusting a business card in their direction. “If you can reach him anywhere, it would probably be this number,” she murmured softly. Jo's gaze immediately shot towards Jane. Ms. Bennett was referring to her father. Of course.

Barnega nodded stiffly and headed out the door without another word. Walker gazed at the group for a long moment before adding, "we’ll let you know the second we find anything out.” After the final sentence, she headed out the door after her partner.

A long moment passed before Jane muttered out, "I don’t think Barnega is a very nice man."

Jane's mother rolled her eyes as Jo scoffed quietly with disbelief. "No shit, Sherlock," Jo exclaimed. "Barney's more than 'not a very nice man', he's a total asshole." Jo looked at the group before adding an insincere, "sorry."

Jane's mother planted her hands on her hips. "Alright, I’m running out to pick up Hugo from the airport," she said. "If you want anything while I’m out, you know how to reach me." Ms. Bennett left after that. She was trying to be strong, but to put it bluntly, she was failing miserably. Her voice was faltering and the circles under her eyes were more prominent than blood red lips on porcelain white skin.

Jane clasped her hands tightly. “I’ll take drink orders," she said weakly. "Does anyone want anything?" Of course, Jane being Jane, she had to do something. Jane glanced at Jo, before saying, "I know you won’t want coffee, but how about some peppermint tea?"

Jo raised her eyebrow slightly, a tad surprised that Jane chose to speak to her out of everybody else. Sure, the Los Angeles Neighbors' Club were close, but Jane definitely had a stronger friendship with others - like Remy or Summer - rather than Jo. "I prefer black," she commented mildly, "but peppermint tea is fine as well." She paused before adding, "thanks." Normal people said thank you to that kind of stuff, Jo was sure of that.