the way we were

the way we were

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one last party, a fated group of friends, and a murder. these types of situations are never easy, but add in more secrets than they can count and explosive histories between them all... will they make it out alive?

2,051 readers have visited the way we were since partially-stars created it.

Introduction

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they were an atom bomb waiting to off. a bunch of misfits, broken people attempting to make their way through life. the only thing they had in common was their love of partying, but it brought them together as friends when they first met. of course, it didn't last. friendships turned to relationships turned to bitterness turned to strangers all over again. some tried to get their lives together all over again. others let their lives fall apart even more.

after two years, they're spread across the globe. but for whatever reason, they all find themselves back in town. somebody suggests they all meet up again. for old times sake, they say, a party planned for one last hurrah. but when they arrive at the host's apartment, the host, lauren, is noticeably absent.

it's just after midnight when they find the body.

the police is called, the party having come to a sudden and unpleasant halt. as if it isn't bad enough, they all have secrets they want to hide. some of them are motives, some are illegal secrets, and some who threaten their perfectly constructed life. and the police immediately suspect foul play from within the group. the detective knows they all have something to hide, and he's determined to find out what.

the group don't know if the threat comes from within the group or not. they don't know which is better. because for all the bad blood between them, they can't wrap their head around the thought of one of their former friends killing someone. but if it's somebody else, that means that they might all be targets. but can they figure it out before the killer strikes again and without the detective finding out their secrets?


rules;

first things first, a reminder that god-modding is forbidden. god-modding typically means controlling a character without their player's permission. so when in doubt, ask. romance and violence are pretty much a given for a drama-driven rp like this, but keep it within site rules. most importantly, if things get steamy, either fade to black or bring it off site. there will be adult themes within the rp. if the content veers into uncomfortable or distressing, please PM me and we can work around it or i can ask other players to alter as necessary. please keep the drama to the ic. any issues arising among members of the rp should be dealt with over pm. reservations go in the ooc as they're easier to keep track of. real face claims only, please. characters can be as old as you like, but must be and must appear to be over 18. you have 48 hours to submit a WIP. that WIP can be a blank sheet, i just want something in to know you're still on board. you will then have 5 days after submitting your WIP to finish your character. i will grant extensions as long as you pm me. any further questions or issues, please pm me! i don't bite, promise. when reserving, i'd like your character's face claim, a 250px wide image of said face claim (don't worry if you can't find one, i'll figure something out :D), their speech colour, and a brief description of their history with the group (take a look at my character for inspiration!)

i have set up a discord server for chatting and discussing relationships! you aren't obliged to join, but trust me, it's so much easier when it comes to pming about relations!

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soren bowers - 25 - josh ramsay - icat - #4d5676

soren and lauren dated for a while when they were all still friends. but it ended badly, with lauren breaking soren's heart entirely. as a result, he hooked up with another of the group a number of times in an ill-fated attempt to get over her. then his musical career took off, and he left them all behind without ever looking back.

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rebecca cruze - 24 - emily rudd - maci-care - #D02090 & #EF86A8

Rebecca Cruze was what she would be considered the "fun/wild one" of the group, or just the ditzy blonde at times. Always doing some dumb thing whether it was a dare or to prove someone that she could do it. She was one to be friendly with most people, but she was the closest with the ones in the group. Rebecca has been known to quickly hook up with people, not caring about their gender or if they were in a relationship or not, which sometimes led to drama. Though over the years only one person really caught her heart, especially after her car accident. She quickly left town after graduating without much of a plane besides wanting to travel around and ultimately ended up settling down in London.

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Kyle Monahan - 25 - andrew garfield - wolf's bane109- #063A67

Kyle was usually the odd one out in the friend group when they were younger. He was the nerdy, know-it-all kid in class, as well as the group. He stayed that way until he graduated high-school and left to study in law, but ended up becoming a cop, and one of the best the force had ever seen. One of the first cases he had, when he moved back home, was ironically the death of Lauren, and know he has to figure out who did it and he doesn't like who the immediate suspects are..

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Erin Monahan - 25 - lynn gunn - wolf's bane109 - #800000

Unlike her brother, Erin was always one of the ones to stand out in the crowd, even back in school. While he stood in the shadows and had no social cues or skills, she had everything he lacked. From being well known to having friends, to knowing how to let loose and just enjoy life, something her brother never exactly understood. While everyone had moved away or left, Erin decided to stay in the city and become a bartender, might as well do something you were good at, and seeing how one of her skills was alcohol she figured it was her best shot. Everything was fine until the party happened, and when people started asking where Lauren went, people began to question everyone. Now Erin doesn't know if it was the right choice to have stayed, or if she should have left all those years ago.

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Joseph Parker - 26 - Cody Christian - Sunshine and Whiskey- #7F9A65

Joseph was accepted late into the group by Lauren, who listened to his background and thought he'd be a perfect addition to the group. Although his background is ultimately unpleasant, he has enjoyed being in the group, getting to know everyone and even getting to know Lauren, whom he hooked up with once while she was in a relationship. Joseph didn't graduate high school but didn't drop out, he's currently getting his GED but is unemployed. He does have a side business, which is an illegal one.

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Ashleigh Myerson - 25 - Alisha Boe - Sunshine and Whiskey - #B19CD9

Ashleigh is the socialite of the group and also the princess of the group. She has always been one of the ones to defend her friends at any cost and have spoken up whenever they were in trouble. Even if that meant mentioning who her father was or even flashing a few bills at someone. Either way, she has had the groups back more than once but doesn't hold that over their heads. No matter how many she has thought about it. After high school, she left to attend NYU to studying criminal justice and now, she's on her way to becoming a lawyer.

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Nathan Miller - 26 - Liam Hemsworth - nonconformingrole - #D6CF13

Nate was always the life of the party- he was willing to do just about anything, any time, for any reason. King of dares, Nathan has done enough stupid tasks to last a lifetime. He's having a hard time adjusting to adult life, however. He can't seem to hold down a job, can't keep a relationship for long, and just generally can't seem to get his life together.

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Arisa Winston - 24 - AnnaSophia Robb - Zodia195 - #0D5C91 -

Arisa aka Ari isn't part of the group at all. She didn't even live in the area the group lives in until she was 12 when she moved in with her aunt and uncle. Even then she was home-schooled until high school and went to private school during that time. In college she studied criminal justice, having wanting to be a cop since the age of 12. This is her first murder case. Behind her 'doll-like' appearance though is a beast who always craves justice above all else. She's fiercely protective of those she cares about, and this includes her fellow detective, Kyle since they work with the same force. Don't ever ask about her childhood though, she won't tell you a thing. Needless to say it's very tragic. Only people who know her past are her aunt and uncle and her first cousins.

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Alexander Yang - 26 - Godfrey Gao - Bayonet RPG - #4e3475

Alexander 'Lex' Yang had a hard time adjusting to life in the United States after moving to NYC from his hometown in Hong Kong. He was treated as an outsider by most until he met and befriended the members of the group. The group provided him an outlet for his frustrations growing up in an overbearing and manipulative household, an outlet which he used readily. His rebellious party life with the group continued until the day his parents met an unfortunate end. With the responsibility of raising his younger sister Lex distanced himself from the group as he tried his best to properly raise her. Two years have passed since then and now Lex has a stable job and is supporting his sister in her college studies when he gets a sudden invitation to meet with the group once more. No longer being as burdened as he was Lex decides to meet up with everyone again. A decision he may live to regret...

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Khepri Mahajan - 26 - Naomi Scott - .euphoria. - #C4A7CF

The golden girl. Khepri was always seen as the 'perfect' girl to most of the outside world, the perfect daughter, the perfect student, the perfect girlfriend, unable to do anything wrong because of her family name even with the friends she surrounded herself with. Below the surface of this 'perfect' facade, was a girl who always dreamed of leaving her hometown and her strict upbringing and never coming back, going from place to place for as long as she could without being bogged down with anyone. At first, she stayed hoping things would fall into place but after everything that's happened to her, she couldn't do it anymore. She got as far away from the city as she could and studied at the University of Amsterdam for journalism and political science and became an on-scene correspondent. She's stationed back in New York for now and her career has plateaued, nothing has piqued her interest like the hard-hitting stories that she used to do. Until now, where she just landed in the middle of the story she has been looking for.

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The Story So Far... Write a Post » as written by 7 authors

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Arisa Winston Character Portrait: Alexander Yang Character Portrait: Lauren Clark Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan

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SOREN BOWERS
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outfit : herex|xhex: #575772
xxxremember the words you told me
xxxlove me till the day i die
xxxsurrender my everything cause
xxxyou made me believe you're mine

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Soren’s day had been going pretty good right up until that moment. Beautiful Strangers had played an acoustic set on local radio, done a Skype interview or two, and arrived at the apartment in loads of time to get set up and warmed up. They hadn’t played a private show in a while, but Richard, their manager, had said the girl organizing it had seemed really eager to book them and had paid handsomely for it.

None of them had asked too many questions. They were too tired, still jet-lagged from flying back from Europe and exhausted from playing six shows in six countries in seven days. Soren wished he could say it felt good being back in New York, but since his parents had moved back to Camden and had been renting out the apartment while he’d been touring, he was waking up to an empty apartment in a city where his memories weren’t exactly the fondest. But it was worth it all to get to do this. He’d do it all over again for that feeling of stepping out on stage.

He hadn't recognized the building at first. They went in a back entrance so they could use the service elevator, which was big enough that they could get all of their gear up to the right floor in just two runs instead of four or five. But there was something strangely familiar about the hall, something Soren couldn't quite put his finger on. It was only when the door to the apartment opened and an all too familiar face stepped out that things finally fell into place.

"Hi guys! Oh my god, it's so good to see you all, it's been too long!" Lauren gushed. Soren couldn't say anything. His stomach had plummeted through the floor and apparently taken his power of speech with it. This had to be some kind of sick joke. It had to be. By the time he came to his senses, Richard was chatting away to Lauren, having propelled them all into the apartment. "You know the guys already?" Richard asked. "Oh yeah, I knew them all the way back when Soren was still mopping floors and making frappés to fund it!" She laughed. Soren's jaw clenched even as he forced a smile.

"We'd better get set up, right?" He said, taking the opportunity to go over to where a small stage had been set up for them. Richard kept Lauren occupied for a few minutes, but eventually, he heard those heels tapping over, caught a whiff of her signature perfume.

"Hello, stranger," she purred, and his jaw clenched again. He didn't look at her, continuing to tune his guitar. "Look at you all. Big stars now, even bigger than the last time I saw you," she added, placing a hand on his shoulder. He wrenched his arm away and took a few steps away.

"Are you enjoying yourself, Lauren?" He asked. "Sneaking backstage isn't good enough for you now, you have to book my goddamn band behind my back?"
"Well, it was the only way I’d get you to talk to me. And besides, you didn't seem to mind me sneaking backstage so much last time," she said. Her tone was teasing but he knew her well enough to see the venom in those eyes and in that smile.
"Because you practically force-feeding me drinks had nothing to do with it," he retorted. Her smile widened, practically dripping with venom.
"You don't have to play the show, you know. If you're really uncomfortable," she said. He shot a glance back to the rest of the band. They had to have known what was going down, but they were making an exceptional show of pretending they didn't.

Soren knew two things. First of all, she had done this to torment him. This had nothing to do with loving their music or wanting to support the band. This had everything to do with him and their history.

And second of all, walking out would be letting her win. If he walked out, she could play the pity card and drag their name through the mud. And he wouldn’t, couldn’t, do that to the others. And he sure as hell wasn’t going to let her win that easily.

"Well, you've paid half upfront. Wouldn't want to waste your money now, would we?" He replied, matching that dangerous smile. Her eyes narrowed ever so slightly, enough for him to count it as a win. “Now if you’ll excuse us, we need to finish getting set up.”

They got their gear set up and tuned, and Lauren pointed them in the direction of a spare bedroom they could use to warm up and finish getting ready. Soren was glad that he usually took his time warming up, because every minute he was doing so was a minute that Lauren would leave him alone. He hadn’t even gotten a chance to talk to Rebecca yet, because she seemed to always be in too close of a proximity to Lauren to risk it. As they went out to start the show, he spotted Erin pouring drinks at the bar. Well. At least he had that much. Erin would back him up if Lauren tried anything, and she’d slap some sense into him if needed. Catching her eye, he mouthed “What the fuck?” before grinning.

The show went well. It was a smaller crowd than their last few shows, but the atmosphere was still good enough that for just over an hour, Soren completely forgot about Lauren. He always put his all into the show, always had. So much so that when he came off stage, some of the crowd chanting for another song, despite everybody wanting to congratulate him, he had to go back into that spare bedroom to recover for a few moments. It was a mistake. He heard somebody by the door, and knew exactly who it was without having to look up, even before she spoke.

“How is it you’re even better than you were the last time I saw you guys play?” Lauren asked, leaning against the door.
“That’s how this works. You play enough shows, you get practice, you get better. Simple process really," he said, leaning in to the mirror to fix his eyeliner.
“You’ve grown up so much,” she mused, and he could see her making her way towards him. His heart was pounding in his throat, but he felt rooted to the spot. “I’m so proud of you.” And then she was right in front of him, a hand on his cheek. He pulled away from her.
“Get the fuck away from me, Lauren. I don’t want anything to do with you.” He warned, and she laughed.
“Oh, but Soren, darling, I’ve heard you say that before,” she purred, running a hand along his arm and going to take his hand. He snatched it away, taking another step away from her.
“You’re pathetic, you know that? It’s so obvious what you’re doing. I wasn’t good enough for you when I was mopping floors and making frappes, but now that people are taking notice? You’re all over me again. It’s sad, Lauren. I’m done with you. No amount of alcohol or drugs in this world could make me want to get with you again.” Lauren hadn’t changed. He knew now she never would.

Almost an hour later, Soren was still on edge after the argument. He didn’t trust himself to drink, didn’t trust that he wouldn’t do something stupid. Staying was a bad idea. He needed to go. He headed back to the spare room to grab his coat and his gear. He opened the door, running a hand down his face- and froze.

Lauren was slumped on the floor. Soren sighed, thinking that she’d had too much to drink or had taken something, and crossed over the room to her. “Lauren?” He called, kneeling down beside her and shaking her shoulder. Something felt wrong. He went to shake her again- and it was then he saw the small pool of blood. “Lauren? Lauren?” He kept calling, panicking. Soren went to feel for Lauren’s pulse, confirmation of something he already knew. Nothing. Lauren was dead. In the doorway, a woman screamed.

He didn’t know what happened then. He didn’t know how he reacted, if he yelled out for somebody, if he just froze. But suddenly it seemed that everybody else knew. He was numb, hardly able to move, hardly able to think. He was just kneeling numbly beside her. Someone said something about calling the police. And as he heard the sirens, something awful occurred to him.

Pretty much everyone at the party knew about their history. They'd been arguing earlier. If the police started asking questions... fingers were going to be pointed his way.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Lauren Clark

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Rebecca Cruze
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outfit : herex|xhex: #D02090
xxxYoung hearts, out our minds
xxxRunnin' 'til we outta time
xxxWild child's, lookin' good
xxxLiving hard just like we should

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Today was the day, the first day in years since she would be back in America, back in New York. Since leaving she likes to think she’s grown and matured a little bit, but occasionally the wild side of her would come out while out traveling and her friends would be surprised with how she acted, since she mostly kept a professional and quiet life at work, there wasn’t much room to goof around when you’re the secretary and personal assistance of the CEO of one of the largest property development and investment companies in England, Telereal Trillium.

Over the years she didn’t keep in contact with many people from the states, only talking to her parents roughly once or twice a month. And maybe a message from Soren here and or to check in and update about his band, she felt bad when she couldn’t make it to one of their shows when they did their small European tour. But when Lauren messaged her on Instagram talking about one last party to relive the glory days, one that they would never forget, Rebecca quickly talked to her work and got the time off to head back to the States and have some fun.

Rebecca had only been back in New York just under a day, but it felt like it was just yesterday she was here and not many years ago, and she was hoping it would be just like the good of days of being an immature and crazy teenager. Sure she was still having fun in England and traveling around Europe, but it was here she became who she was and always able to let go and be free. Especially since Lauren was throwing a party for the good old times. Rebecca had tried to convince Soren to just tag along for a little bit just to relive the golden years but besides saying he didn’t want to have to deal with Lauren him and his band already had plans. But the two promised to meet up and get some drinks, maybe even play some music together, though it has been years since Rebecca had picked up an instrument.

After checking in at her hotel, Rebecca quickly went out to the shops to find an outfit for tonight, while she did bring enough clothes to last here while she was here, but of her clothes fixed the English atmosphere and their trends, not the American ones. Throughout the day she would be texting and trading pictures with Lauren, feeling like they were in high school again trying to figure out what to buy and wear. Over the years Becca had gotten a new phone a couple times and over time lost most of her American contacts as she didn’t need them, Lauren and Soren mostly talked to her over social media, so there weren't many people she could text right now, and knew Soren would be busy with his band to prep for their gig, wherever it was at.

Rebecca was out shopping for a couple of hours, a little longer than she planned but also buying more than she planned, though she wasn’t surprised by that. And when she got back to the hotel she started getting ready for the night, knowing it would take her a bit to do her hair and make up.

The phone to Rebecca’s hotel room rang and she quickly answered it to find out her taxi for the party had finally arrived. She grabbed her purse sprayed her perfume while talking down the stairs, it was one of her favorite senses she got as a tester back in London and quickly got refills of, made with siracusa lemon, an orange bigarade and support with a dark tenderness smell of juniper berries. The clicking of her heels on the lobby floor followed Rebecca as she walked through the rotary doors and quickly climbed into the taxi waiting for her on the street. It was already approaching the evening hours and Rebecca spent most of the time just staring out the window, gazing at the beauty of the city that made her who she was.

When the taxi pulled up, Rebecca immediately knew it was the right apartment for a party that Lauren would throw. While walking up the short staircase a very familiar voice caught her attention. “Wild!” Rebecca looked up and saw Lauren, stunning as ever. “Laur!” Rebecca shouted as the two open arms and hugged each other at the top of the stairs and giving a cheek-kiss. It’s been too long! Come in, I got a surprise.” Lauren said turning around and going in. Rebecca laughed and nodded some hellos to some people she knew roughly from high school. She wasn’t sure what the surprise was, but knew Lauren and knew it would be interesting. As the walked through she saw some more people she recognized but was basically dragged by the hand by Lauren to the main room, and upon entering her mouth taped open in surprised. Beautiful Strangers. “What? How did you get Soren to agree to this? I thought y’all werent on good terms.” Rebecca did a light wave to Soren before Lauren responded. “Didn’t ask him, talked to their manager and threw enough money. You should’ve seen his face, I’m hoping to rekindle some things.” The girl said with a wink. Lauren then showed Rebecca around some more, Rebecca felt bad for not staying and talking to Soren, but knew she had to entertain Lauren for a little before peeling off. The two continued to talk and Lauren showed her around.

“And I got the best bartender in New York.” Lauren said as she showed her where the bow was, showing Rebecca that Erin was also here serving drinks, which brought a smile and blush to her face. “Anyways, I need to go hunt my prey, Enjoy yourself!” Lauren said as she turned down the hallway. Erin hadn’t seen Rebecca yet since she was serving some people. Rebecca walked up to her blind spot on her right side. “Damn shouldn’t someone with buns like that be a baker not a bartender?” She said loud enough to catch Erin’s attention, and quickly hugging her from behind. She did a little giggle as Erin retorted her compliment. “Sorry if I startled you.” She said as she watched Erin give out drinks talking about work.

A smile came across her face as Erin poured her an old favorite drink of hers, something Rebecca nicknamed as a Wild Ride. Becca has tried to remake it numerous times on her own, and even asking bartenders for the custom drink to be made, but never came close to Erin’s, even thought every time she made it Erin would say she could make it better. Becca held up the cup that Erin had filled up for her. “I’ll be back for a refill, and then we can catch up!” As she turned a corner drinking the freshly made drink, which tasted perfect, she almost spilt her it when she bumped into someone, someone big. “Oh! I’m so sorr-“ she quickly cut off seeing it was her old partner in crime. Nathan. “Nathan!” She threw her arms around the gentle giant. “Wow it’s good to see you! Looking great. Are things gotten better? Been awhile and when I left…” Rebecca trailed off, not exactly wanting to say what Nathan was going through before she left, she knew he had an unfortunate run of bad luck.

The two talked for a little bit before Rebecca saw Lauren walk through a hallway and into a spare room. “Excuse me hun, but I gotta go talk to Lauren. We will finish this conversation I promise.” Rebecca gave him a kiss on the cheek and quickly went through the party crowd looking for Lauren.

After quickly spotted Lauren, Rebecca caught her attention and asked to talk to her in the spare room. “Everything okay wild child?” Lauren asked closing the door behind her. Rebecca put her drink down on the dresser before turning around to Lauren. “You really tricked Beautiful Strangers into playing here? I can’t believe you did this. You know how Soren is, he doesn’t want to be with you You need to let him go Laur.” She said to her, trying to be sympathetic. But the message wasn’t being understood the way she wanted it to be. “How. Dare. You. This is my party, and he’s my ex. I will get him back, and you aren’t gonna steal him from me, bitch.” She shouted into Rebecca’s face, probably could be heard from outside the room. This struck a chord with Rebecca, and she quickly reacted. “Are you fucking kidding me? Me, a bitch? No, fuck you Lauren. You shoved him away and cheated on him. You’re the one being a bitch, I’m trying to help you.” She said back to her. The two continued a little bit more before Rebecca stormed out, slamming the door behind her. And heading to the bathroom to cool off and get control of herself. After rinsing her face Rebecca decided she should go back and apologize to Lauren about how she acted.

Rebecca hung around a bit to catch up some more with some people and was getting ready to leave when a scream caught Rebecca’s attention and she quickly went to investigate. As she got to the door way she finally saw the thing that caused someone to scream. “Lauren!” Becca quickly shoved someone that was in the doorway aside and went to the side of the body, barely avoiding the blood on the floor. “Someone get help! Please! Call someone or something!” She yelled to the doorway where a group had started to form. Rebecca turned back to the body and held Lauren’s hand “It’ll be okay Lauren. Help is coming.” Rebecca barely got out of her mouth as tears started down her face.

Lauren said this would be a night they wouldn’t forget, little did she mean it like this.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan

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Erin Monahan
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outfit : herex|xhex: #80000
xxxI'm the fury in your head
xxxI'm the fury in your bed
xxxI'm the ghost in the back of your head
xxxSo forget the horror here


Having said that life for her in recent years had been anything but ordinary would be an understatement. Life was but ordinary, and not only for Erin. Ever since becoming the owner of her own business, life had picked up as well as the responsibilities of owning an establishment such as hers, as well as it having the reputation that it earned in past years. It was a place that anyone from any walk of life could come to and know they'd be able to have many just a little too many drinks, and have a reliable way of getting home safe as Erin made it a point to always have a taxi or uber come by and pick up the people that couldn't walk in a straight line by the end of the night. She may have been a bit reckless in her younger years, but time and life happened, as well as changed and she learned to take things a little more seriously. A few barfights and brawls happening in one's bar tends to make one learn things the hard way. From broken bottles to broken windows, to late hours into the night with music blaring, The Golden Owl was a place that anyone would be proud of, and it was safe to say that Erin was proud of what it became in just a few short years that it had been her's. It seemed since day one of opening the bar that it had easily become one of the most popular bars in Brooklyn, from its beautiful and relatively peaceful and safe neighborhood to its all but welcoming and rather flirtatious owner. It was common knowledge that the bartender would crack jokes and on the off-hand flirt with every patron that entered those doors. From making harmless small talk to the ever so corny jokes, all the way to the outright flirting from simply compliments and calling them 'doll' and 'hun', to giving out free drinks and food if she liked you enough. Whether it was a very reckless move or possibly an overtly genius move to garner a better reputation, it was all the same to Erin. It was her bar. Her rules, her word, and her people. You mess with her, she'll let it pass and dish out as much shit and harassment that one gives, but if you mess with anyone that is there to have a good time, you won't. She will gladly have one thrown out into the streets and make sure you are never allowed in again. She was a kind and caring person, but one thing she didn't allow was bullshit and harassment. And as such it was usually a safe getaway for the dreamers and seekers to come to, and she was all for it. From the stories she heard over the years from people that came in, she was one of the better bars on the block, and it wasn't just due to the drinks and food that was served.

Business had always been booming in New York and seeing how it was easily one of the bigger cities in the US, you had to be tough but fair with the way you handled business. Today Erin found herself behind the bar as always. This day was no different, waking up before the crack of dawn to be showered, dressed, and making sure to grab some food on the way to work was typically her routine. Usually stopping by a food truck on her way down the city streets was a typical sight to see, and the small businesses loved having her, from her cheery and outgoing attitude to always making sure to give a good tip always made their day. And that was something Erin loved, being able to help others any way that she could, even if it was simple things like giving someone a smile always made her feel better. It was mid-day by now, and the bar was as alive as ever, hundreds of people had already came in and gone and Erin was feeling as alive as ever. From the music that blared just enough, but wasn't overwhelming to the point of where no one could hear a thing that was said. From the welcoming atmosphere of the establishment to the music, to few tables that were scattered around the main room, as well as the billard tables in the back were usually always busy as people typically came to gamble away with the pool tables. Anyone that came in had a good time, and that was all that anyone could ask for in a place like this. Erin was in the middle of pouring a large order of drinks when the small chime of the bell above the door went off, alerting her to yet another patron as the person came in and sat down. Without giving more than a simple and quick glance she nodded and smiled, "A dry margarita with a number six will be right with you, Thomas!" she called out as she pushed the four glasses down the bar counter-top as the four patrons happily grabbed their drinks as they were passed their way, giving Erin a small nod and lift of their glasses as they went back to their conversation. Erin turned back to the older man that was sat in his normal chair, right in the middle of the bar in front of the tv in the overhang. The man who's name was Thomas gave her a kind smile as he watched her work. He was a kind man, in his late thirties, slicked-back blonde hair, bright blue eyes, pale skin, and always dressed in a suit and tie. Typically coming back from work was commonplace to see people that she'd see throughout the week, never forgetting the face and name of some of her favorite customers. "And how are you today, darling?" the man asked with his calm smile as it rose to his eyes, causing his already sparkling blue eyes to shine just a little more. Erin gave him a short and quick smile as she began preparation on his drink as his food was being finished up in the kitchen in the back, "Been busy. Getting ready for that party that I told you about. I'll let you know how it goes. Yourself, Tommy?" she said, flashing him a smile as she finished pouring his drink and slid it his way as she washed her hands in the sink that was to the side.

"Good! I was about to ask you about that myself actually. A gig from an old friend from high school, right? It's been like what, a week since you graduated?" he said teasingly as he sipped slowly from his glass, giving her a small wink. Erin rolled her eyes as she wiped her hands on the towel that she kept on her shoulder. "You know, typically I'd let that slide but-" she started, taking the basket of freshly made food that had come out of the kitchen, she held it for a moment. "-I don't think I will today." she said with a small giggle and chuckle as she took one of the fries and popped it into her mouth as she slid the food towards the man. It was about as American as one could get, a cheeseburger with a side of fries. "And yes. My old friend Lauren offered it as a small favor as well as a way of getting me to be back with the group. Besides, how could I say no?" she said with a small smile, Thomas simply smiled and nodded as he began to get into his food as he watched the television that was on. "I hope it goes well for you, hun." he said between bites, giving her a small wink he turned and went back to letting his attention get taken away by the tv before he was finished with his food and drink. Erin sighed as she leaned against the table, getting lost in her thoughts at the mere mention of it being years. Time had gone by so fast, yet so slow it seemed for her, maybe it was part of growing up? She had so many regrets and questions that formed over the years. So many 'What If's?'. What if things had gone differently for the group? What if they stayed together? What if she wasn't such a coward and told-All she had was 'What If's?' and she hated it. So many regrets and questions and life had really only just begun for her. It wasn't really fair for her to question if it was the right outcome or not, but here she was. This was her life, and she was content with it, but couldn't help but feel like something was missing from it, and maybe with this party life would pick up once more and who knows what would be in store simply due to this party. It was all worth a shot, and it was something she wanted for years. To be with her old group again, even if it was for only one more night. She was disrupted mid-thought as a small beeping noise interrupted her. She looked down at her watch, seeing that it was already three-thirty in the afternoon, meaning it was time she got ready for last-minute preparations for the party. She liked being early for gigs, let her get familiar with the place as well as set up everything she needed to and so on. One of the extra bartenders came to take her place as it was common knowledge in the past weeks that her shift would be a rather short one, and that if anything happened to contact the manager, not her. After making last-minute stops and double-checks with everything, she quickly left the bar and headed straight for her apartment where she would freshen up, change clothes, get everything she needed and then make her way to Lauren's for the last big party of the century.

Erin made sure that she put some effort into looking half-way decent for this. She'd not only be working at the party, but she'd also be representing her own business, as well as seeing some old friends for the first time in years. After finally deciding on an outfit that took far too long on, she gave herself one more look over in the mirror and smiled. It was the first time that she would be seeing some faces in years, unlike some that had come back again like Soren and even Lauren in recent years, or others like Nathan who had since been in each other's life since day one except for some minor fall-outs. But since offering him the job as a waiter at her bar, they'd remain in constant communication, and she knew she'd see him at the party that night, and it made her genuinely smile. She knew things would never go back to the way things were, but it'd be good to reconnect with the others, if they came that is. She hoped they did. On her way out the door she grabbed a spare jacket that was in her closet, New York always got cold in the later hours of the night, even in the warmer seasons and she'd regret it if it rained that night and didn't have something to help block out the rain. Locking the door behind her she slowly began to make her way to the address that she was given to arrive to. After giving Soren a few short messages throughout the day to make sure he was still coming and didn't bail out last minute due to nerves like he had before.

Now things were different, seeing people for the first time in a few years was going to be nerve-wracking for everyone, and that was somewhat of a relief to her. At least she'd have Nate, Lauren, Soren and possibly Alexander there to help relieve some of the awkwardness after having not seen some of the others in what seemed like forever. That was one thing that kept coming back to her, time. How much time had passed by and how much she wasted with regrets and what-ifs. But that was all in the past, and now she could see what everyone had been up to, and if they were still the same or if they had entirely moved on and didn't want anything to do with anyone. She was hopeful to say the least, and was excited to see everyone again to say the most. Once she arrived at Lauren's it was slowly getting into evening, and the guests would show up in a few hours, maybe even earlier depending on if people had kept to their habits of being overly early or fashionably late. One thing she could always count on, was knowing that she was going to have a good time, and nothing was going to stop her, not this time around. Once when she finally arrived at the apartment which hadn't taken so long due to her having been there a few times in the past few weeks as she had surprisingly kept a relationship with Lauren. While yes she did break her best friend's heart, she was still Lauren's friend, and above all else time had passed by and people changed. And surprisingly, in past recent years, Lauren had proven to be a rather good friend much to Erin's surprise. They weren't exactly the closest in High School, but they were still rather close. The apartment was not exactly surprising, considering that Lauren had gotten a very well paying job in recent years it wasn't a total shock to see her having one of the best apartments one could buy in this city. By the time she arrived, mostly everything was set up, meaning Erin didn't have much to do except for set up the bar and get everything stowed away where it would need to be. After making sure she had all the drinks she'd need, as well as all of the cups she marked everything down in her stock book and made to double-check inventory a few times over both in her head and literally. She learned it the hard way to never run out of supplies, as that's an all too easy mistake to make. Unlike most parties that they had back in the day, this was one of the more sophisticated ones, glass cups over those damn plastic solo cups. Better music over the type they used to listen to back in the day, and less drugs. People would still be getting high, but there'd be more control over this than there was in the past.

After what seemed like forever, familiar faces and voices began to filter into the room. After some short conversations here and there with Lauren if everything was set up or if she could help with anything else Erin began to take into account who was there. So far she had seen some faces she knew all too well, such as Soren and his group of band members. The moment she saw Lauren walk up to Soren she knew she had a bad feeling, it was obvious that they already began to argue, and from what she overheard Soren was telling Lauren to piss off and leave him alone so they could continue to set their things up for the party as they'd be playing a few sets that night. People had slowly flooded in, and as things had begun as the band was finally done getting ready Erin had noticed that Soren had asked for help in the best way he could, simply mouthing out 'help'. All she was able to do was give him a small shrug as a response, usually signaling that she had no idea on what to do, and that she was too busy to help him that moment. Erin was far too busy as the band officially started to notice the others who walked in as she was preparing drinks for the people that were slowly swarming around the bar. She hadn't noticed someone slip behind the bar and slowly approach her until it was too late, all she knew was that a familiar voice complimented her and had wrapped their arms around her from behind in a tight embrace. For a moment Erin had froze in place for a moment as she tried to think of how to respond, it was sudden and unexpected, as well as the voice was-It wasn't, was it? How did that go unnoticed by Erin? But the familiarity in the voice, and the faint smell that she picked up caused her mind to come to a complete hault as she placed the bottle on the countertop as well as the glass cup that she had almost dropped.

Erin finally regained her composure and slowly turned her head to look behind her, and sure enough, it was Rebecca. A large smile spread across her face and her eyes lit up with excitement and surprise when she saw that it was indeed her. "Holy shit! Rebecca! It's so good to see you again!" she exclaimed, finding herself wrapping her arms around Rebecca tightly as was overcome with excitement upon seeing an old friend again. "Sorry I didn't see you sooner! I've just been so busy. And you're one to talk, ya know. You're looking-fantastic!" she gushed as she gave Rebecca a look over once more before turning back to the bar and slid the drinks to the patrons that had been waiting long enough. "Sorry about that, fellas." she said as she gave them a small and awkward wave as she turned back to Rebecca, "Look, I got to get back to work, but before you go-" she said as she grabbed a glass, dropping some ice in and blending three different drinks into the glass before passing it over to Rebecca, "I've still managed to remember your favorite drink. Or at least it was your favorite back then. I think I finally mastered it, but let me know what you think and we can for sure talk after, alright?" she said as she gave her a small smile as they exchanged words for a moment longer until Rebecca had finally walked away. But before Rebbeca was able to get too far, Erin quickly and slyly took a step back and playfully patted her on the ass, giving a small wink and playful smile.

Once she had finally walked off, Erin took a deep breath and sighed heavily, "Holy fuck..." she mumbled as she combed her fingers through her hair. It had taken up until now that she realized how fast her heart was truly racing, and she was beginning to become a bit lightheaded. "Shit.." she mumbled as she found herself becoming a bit unstable. She realized she had been so busy and stressed that day that she never took her meds, at least she grabbed them on the way out of her apartment before she left. Seeing they were stowed in her jacket pocket she grabbed the bottle and made her way to the extra bathroom that was just next to the spare bedroom where Soren and Lauren had been talking earlier, Erin was going to question on him later about that. All she remembered seeing was Lauren talking to someone in the darkened hallway, but didn't think anything of it, or even cared to listen to what was being said. Or at least, she thought it was Lauren.

Once she finally made it into the bathroom she closed the door behind her, taking a few pills in hand she downed them dry and looked herself in the mirror. She found herself becoming faint as her vision blurred as she held onto the sink, her knuckles turning white as she could feel herself losing consciousness. After a bit of an unknown time, she exited the bathroom and returned to the bar, having to play catch-up with a few of the people. She had made it back just in time to have made slight eye contact with Soren as she exited from the hallway, it was obvious that she looked a little disheveled, mainly from the look on her face she usually had after an episode. But as the band came to an end people applauded and asked for more, but sadly they were denied more rounds of songs. Erin was busy finishing up making the last few drinks as all fell rather quiet until the music started playing again from the speakers. It was then as she finished cleaning down the bar that she heard the most gut piercing, and blood-curdling sound. At first, she wasn't entirely sure what it was, but after people took notice and began to gather around the hallway that her stomach dropped. Someone yelled to call for the police as crying and shouting could be heard. Erin looked around as panic set in, something happened and it wasn't good. She pushed her way past the crowd until she was in the front of the people looking into the room where everyone's attention was. Soren and a few of the others were crowded in the room, and at first, she didn't understand, but it was only when people started to call out for Lauren, and ith the panic in their voices it didn't sound good. Upon further inspection when she finally saw who they were talking to, it was none the less, Lauren.

Erin looked on in horror as she finally adjusted to the sight that was before her. Lauren was bleeding out on the floor, surrounded by Soren who was standing in the doorway, Rebbeca who was kneeling down beside her trying to reassure that everything was okay, and a few of the others. She quickly rushed over to them and felt for a pulse or even breathing, anything. Anything to reassure her that she wasn't gone, not yet. Not until help arrived, but there was nothing. Not even the faintest of a pulse or breathing...Lauren was, gone. Just like that..

Erin looked up at Soren who was standing a few feet away, "Soren, what the hell happened?" she mumbled softly. She knew full well that they had some bad blood and had overheard the argument earler, but she also knew he wouldn't have done this. What had caused her to really panic was the fact that she knew full well people could have pointed fingers on her as well, especially if people noted how she looked after coming back from the same spot that was now a crime scene. This was meant to be a fun party where they'd be able to be with friends again, not end up being the center of a murder, especially it being of one of their friends. Now Erin slowly began to question if coming to the party was really a good idea or not.

Erin looked at Rebbeca who at this point was uncontrollably sobbing as she clutched Lauren's hand. She sighed as she placed her hand on her shoulder, gently squeezing, "I'm sorry...she...I'm sorry." she said with a pained tone as tears finally began to streak down her face. Erin wiped her tears away as she stood up and looked around the room, and then back at Soren. She simply shook her head as she walked up to him before she left the room, "We're going to talk about this, got it? I have a call to make..." she said rather solemnly, reaching into her pocket as she left the room. She could feel her heart pounding in her chest like a drum, one moment it would slow down, the next it would feel like thunder. Her hands began to shake and sweat as she fumbled with her phone as reality finally hit her. Someone she used to know, as well as was simply talking to not even a few hours ago was just now murdered by someone. After being able to calm herself down after a few deep breaths she proceeded to call the cops, and waited until she heard the sirens. Once the squad cars arrived, she moved to the balcony for a moment as she needed something to calm her down and just chill. Taking a pack out of her jacket's pocket and a lighter, she lit up a smoke and just stared off into the distance. After a few short minutes she could feel herself become more composed, not any less stressed and panicked, but better than she was prior. As she grabbed onto the sliding glass door to go back inside she saw the police enter and then some other rather important people walk into the apartment and make their way into the room where..where the body was. Erin sighed heavily and stepped back into the apartment as the others were ushered out of the room and into the living room of the apartment. She knew what was coming next and didn't look forward to it. She looked on as the rest of the people were now talking to the officers and giving what they knew, and what they saw if anything. Rebecca and the others were given some more time to grieve before they too were questioned. Erin looked over at Soren and saw him sitting on the couch. She walked over to him, first waving her face across his face. Nothing. His eyes were locked onto the ground. Erin sighed, knelt down infront of him and gently patted him on the face, in an attempt to snap him out of his daze. "Hey, wake up, Sor." she stated rather coldly, he needed someone to bring him back down to earth. "Look, before the cops start asking you as their prime suspect I need you to be honest...Did you ever leave this room after you left the first time? Because they are going to grill your ass on this if you did." she knew full well, as did most that Lauren's ex, Soren, would be their prime suspect. But she also knew that everyone that was in that group would too be a suspect, and it was something she dreaded. The last thing she needed was her life crumbling down after just having made it stable in the past three years, but now...Now it looked like it just became far more complicated..









Kyle Monahan
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outfit : herex|xhex: #063A67
xxxI'd trade my luck to know
xxxWhy he's caught in the crossfire
xxxAnd I'm here wakin' up
xxxTo the sun and the sound of birds



The past few months had been nothing but stressful and hectic for Kyle, and that was something he had strangely grown accustomed to. Normally he would have dread being as stressed as he was, but with the news of him and his partner being transferred back to New York, it brought a strange sense of relief to him. The notion of going back home for the first time in almost ten years was a mix of emotions for him. On one hand he was excited and looked forward to it, on the other he was worried and overthinking things like he normally did. What if no one he knew was back in New York waiting for him? What if no one remembered him? Or that they all moved on and didn't want anything to do with him, especially Erin. That was one of his biggest years, to come back home and no one wanted anything to do with him at all. But soon enough he would be going back home and be stationed there for the foreseeable future if there were cases that they were needed for. After the next few weeks came and gone they were given their last assignments and given all of the information for their transfer. Kyle was being sent specifically for analysis and crime scene investigations. To not look into any old cases until they were fully situated, and knew everything that was going on in the city. Times had changed and people weren't exactly the friendliest to people like them, often being seen as narks or even worse names. Ever since joining the force, Kyle had been used of people treating him differently, but also had a healthy fear of him. But due to his inability to really talk to people or be imposing as a threat, no one ever took his threats very seriously. But being back home would help with his confidence and hopefully help with his issues, as he knew those streets like the back of his hand and knew them better than anyone else.

The day finally came for their transfer, and after several flights and changing means of transportation, much to his dismay and hatred of public transport, they finally arrived. He had never hated being in airports this much in his entire life, and he hoped he wouldn't have to be in another one or get onto another plane for a long time. He didn't understand how people could actually enjoy plane rides, especially after long distances. And sadly enough for him, the hotel that they'd be staying at until more permanent housing was made was rather far from the airport as it would be in the downtown area of the city. Which only meant one more thing, more traveling. Kyle groaned as they grabbed their luggage and made their way into the SUV's that were awaiting them outside. Thankfully the car-ride had been about as smooth as anyone expected, and Kyle was able to get comfortable enough to fall asleep for a small amount of time until he was awoken by someone shaking his arm and telling him they arrived. The hotel was easily one of the most expensive ones they could have afforded, and due to the department paying for their rooms, he didn't have to stress about it like he would have otherwise. Once after being let inside they obtained their room keys and were led upstairs and into their rooms. Kyle observed his for any misplaced items or dangerous items, and after making sure his room was secure he began to unpack his things. His room's window opened up into the main part of the city, and being as high up as they were he was able to see most of the city, and with it being as late as it was, the view was breathtaking. Something that Kyle didn't realize was how beautiful the city was, especially when the sun went down. He began putting his things away and remove his outer coat when their commanding officer came back with a look on his face that Kyle had learned all too well. He had just received a call, and from the look on his face, it wasn't good.

"What is it?" he questioned softly. The older man who had dark and short hair, dark blue eyes, and sun-kissed skin looked at him solemnly. "Possible homicide downtown. The victim has been identified as being a young female by the name of Lauren. That was the only information we received as whoever called it in was all over the place." he said with little to no emotion, other than a tinge of sadness. One of the other officers looked at the commander, and then back at Kyle, "Didn't you used to run with a Lauren and her group of friends back in the day?" he asked. Kyle looked at the older man as he spoke of the victim, and that the woman's name was Lauren. It could have just been a coincidence, but it being New York, and knowing that group, he had a small hope that it was mere coincidence. "My sister did, but I doubt it's the same person. Plenty of people with that name. Let's get going, shall we?" he said as he stood back up, grabbing his coat as they left the hotel. The drive was rather short in of itself, but it took longer due to the traffic, but after turning on the police sirens they were able to speed their way there as the other cars pulled off to the side.

Once they arrived at the large apartment complex the SUV came to a halt and all of those inside bolted out and immediately began to make their way to the building as a group had formed outside of the building. Regular police squad cars and an ambulance had already arrived by the time they got there. "Special agents Monahan and Winston, a pleasure to have you here finally. I just wish it was under better terms. Come, the victim is inside." the officer that was at the door said calmly, letting them pass the police tape that kept anyone else from entering. As they entered people were scattered all around the main lobby of the complex as the other officers were already asking questions if they had seen anything, or heard anything. Kyle's hands began to sweat as they stepped into the elevator and made their way to the floor where the call came from. As the elevator gave off a soft chime as it alerted to them being on the correct floor they slowly filed out of the elevator, to see more people lining the otherwise empty hallways. People were crying as others tried to cheer them up, and others were either in denial or confused on what was going on. Kyle sighed as they made their way past the slowly thinning out of the party guests as they entered the apartment finally. He immediately began scanning the room for anything out of the ordinary as his eyes took in everything. It had been a party indeed, a small stage in front of the stained glass windows that lead out into the city streets down below, as well as a bar that had drinks scattered around it. People had either left or were still scattered around the apartment. More police had been called than Kyle had originally expected. They were finally lead to the hallway and the room where people who were once gathered, was now almost entirely empty except for the Crime Scene team. The body had already been covered by a white sheet and clue placement markers had been placed for what was speculated to be foul play.

Kyle slowly made his way towards the room, passing by a few people, that to him, he recognized right away. Nathan Miller, Rebecca Cruze, Soren Bowers, and of course, his own sister, Erin Monahan. They had all been removed from the room once the police arrived and began investigating the scene. Kyle found himself sweating more than he usually would have, but he braced himself as he walked up beside the other officers that were investigating the body. "Agent Monahan, and Agent Winston." he said cooly as they showed their badges. The officers nodded, "Good to see you." the man said as he went back to scanning the room. Kyle knelt down beside the body and took out his gloves before he touched anything, and once he had them on he slowly peeled back the top half of the sheet to have better access to the body. He found his stomach drop and his heart jump into his throat as he saw who the victim was. It was indeed the same Lauren he knew all those years ago. And now...now he was examing her corpse in a crime scene. He quickly regained his composure and stood up, "That's Lauren Clark...I used to know her." his voice was tinged with a tone of sadness. The other officer looked at him and gave him a solemn nod as he spoke, "I'm sorry to hear that. Was she a friend of your's or..?" Kyle shook his head at the question as he exited the room, trying to get some fresh air. "Hardly. She was my sister's friend. I only knew her through that. She was never my friend per say." Kyle said with a bit of sadness, and slight bitterness. He took a step back and looked throughout the apartment, "I-I think I'm going to go look around and see if I find anything." he said rather quickly and suddenly as he turned and left the hallway. He didn't feel comfortable with this case, and he knew it would show all too quickly. It wasn't due to his involvement that made him feel uneasy, it was the involvement of the people here. He didn't want to automatically point fingers at people, but he couldn't help but have his mind start turning as he began to think of what could have happened. He made brief eye-contact with the others that remained and move on about the room, not giving them a second thought, except for Erin. His eyes stopped on her. She looked so different, but yet the same. He could feel his heart race in his chest as gave her a small smile, but it only lasted a few short moments before his nerves got the better of him and he quickly turned away and became examing the room. He didn't want to be here, and he especially didn't want to have to begin questioning them, not like this.








Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Alexander Yang Character Portrait: Lauren Clark

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ALEXANDER YANG
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Ethical Hacker | Outfit | Hex: #4E3475
There is only one way to avoid criticism:
do nothing, say nothing, be nothing...

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"Hey Lex, how is it going? I know it has been a while since we've seen each other but... I was just wondering if you would like to meet up sometime? This is Jessica... just in case you forgot. Well, I'll be looking forward to your response. Don't be a stranger now, hun. Kisses!" The voicemail playing from Alexander's smart phone in his right hand had finally ended. He was massaging his his temple with his other hand as he tried, to little effect, alleviate the headache he felt growing from listening to the voicemail.

"You sure do have a number of admirers, don't you boss? Not worried that one of them is going to act drastically after you slight them?" Christina, also known as Tina, Lex's secretary, asked him jokingly while giving him a cup of coffee.

"It doesn't matter. Whether or not I return their affection, none of them really care or know about me, at least the true me." Lex said as he thanked Tina for the drink. As he slowly sipped he continued, "There are few who do... even less now."

While walking towards the door to exit Lex's office, Tina said, "I don't seem to remember you doing anything to change that sir. You should probably address that, the sooner the better. Everyone needs a few good friends." She giggled a little as she opened the door. Turning around and looking towards Lex she continued, asking, "Aren't you suppose to meet up with some old friends tonight?"Alexander casually looked down at his phone, looking at the date and time.

Earlier in the week Lex had received a message out of the blue from his old friend Lauren, taking about getting their old group back together again after the fallout years prior. He had blamed himself for what had happened and had distanced himself from them all of them afterwards. Now after years had passed he was slowly trying to repair his past relationships with those he could find in New York City. He was steadily making progress and this event provided him with the opportunity to try and patch up things with those he was unable to meet with earlier, due to the lack of free time Lex had to do so.

"Seems like it." Alexander got up from his desk, walking towards the exit where Tina was now located. As he walked past her and towards the coat rack to put on his coat, he said, "Cancel any unnecessary meetings and postpone anything deemed important. I don't want to be disturbed by anyone til tomorrow at noon. Knowing my old friends I probably won't be available until then." As he was about to leave he turned back towards Tina and said, "You can take the rest of the day off, if you like... Paid of course."

Tina blew a teasing kiss towards Lex as he left his office. He then messaged the front desk with his phone to have a car prepared for him to leave for Lauren's party, giving them its location. As he exited the elevator in the main lobby Lex was greeted by a number of employees. He waved towards them all nonchalantly as he left the building and entered the car waiting for him outside.

As the car left towards its destination Lex looked down towards his watch, thinking, "Looks like I'll be a little bit late... Just like old times." He laughed to himself quietly as he waited until he arrived at Lauren's party.

After a fair bit of time Alexander arrived at the party. Looking around he saw a number of familiar faces, those being: Erin, Nathan, and Lauren. Lex approached Erin and exchanged pleasantries with her while he ordered an Irish Buck. Thanking her, Lex said, "Thanks. Hopefully everything ends uneventfully tonight... unlike last time." Sighing Lex game Erin a short farewell as he looked for Lauren, to greet her.

While walking towards Lauren, Lex nodded and smiled towards Nathan, one of the few people Lex has spent time trying to connect to after the group's fallout years ago. When he reached Lauren he greeted her with a hug. Despite everything that went down between the group Lex had kept a mutually beneficial relationship with her. They were both affluent and influential people, within their own right, and used their abilities in order to assist each other whenever they needed the other.

Looking towards the stage Lex noted that Sorin's band would be performing for their party tonight. Looking towards Lauren he said, "I'm guessing he wasn't told that you were the one hiring him tonight, right?" After receiving an affirmation for his thoughts Lex laughed a little to himself. "Well... I hope whatever you're planning goes as well as you think it will. Me and Sor haven't been in the best terms since we... Just don't expect much out of me tonight. I'm planning on trying to reestablish the relationships I lost." Before leaving her Lex gave Lauren a kiss on her cheek before saying, "Happy Hunting."

Some time and a few drinks later Lex was quietly observing the crowd while Beutiful Strangers was playing their set. While looking over the crowd Lex had spotted Rebecca, his past crush while they were in high school. After knowing her for so long and from their first interaction Lex had slowly developed romantic feelings towards her. When she left New York City he was having a hard time, missing just having her in his life as a support. This was the time when he had his major slip up with Lauren and caused the rift between the group members. Lex's greatest hope for coming tonight was to rekindle the relationship he once had with Rebecca and possibly even more.

Alexander waited patiently as he watched Rebecca talk to a couple of the members of their group at the party. Smiling to himself as he thought, "I'm glad she can still make those expressions. Maybe moving away before everything went down was best for her." Not wanting to disturb her while she was enjoying herself Lex decides to mingle among the other attendants who catch his interest. Engaging in small talk with a few people until he grows tired of talking to them, bidding farewell as he walks to a nearby balcony to have a smoke.

While lighting his cigarette and taking the first drag Lex notices Lauren standing nearby. Looking towards her Lex smiles and offers her a cigarette. After inhaling a considerable amount he lets the smoke lazily exit his mouth as leans on the railing turning to Lauren, saying, "So what's with this party anyway? You can't tell me that this is all just to get us all together... If that were the case we could've done this earlier... What's the motivation?" Waiting to hear her answer Lex sees an all familiar cold glint in her eyes, one that tells him he may not want to hear the answer. While listening to Lauren talk an even colder glint could be seen in his eyes as he stared daggers towards Lauren...

After having talked to Lauren, Lex walked towards the bar to get another refill as a headache seemed to creep into his head. He didn't see Erin anywhere near the bar so he decided to mix himself a drink. Just after he finished preparing his drink Lex heard a scream over all the festivities going on around him. He wasn't really concerned about what happened until he heard Rebecca shouting for help. Hearing her triggered Lex to run towards the scene, pushing onlookers aside until he was behind Rebecca, Sorin, and Erin. The sight of Lauren laying in a pool of blood made Lex instinctively hold back some of his emotions, in order to better help in the situation and remained focused.

Alexander looked around, assessing as much as he could about the situation before leaning on a nearby wall to Rebecca. He stroked her hair gently, attempting to comfort her while calling his secretary Tina. "Sorry for calling but a friend of mine was... killed. I'm sure someone has already informed the authorities about this so I'm sure they will be on their way here soon." Just as he said this he could hear a number of faint sirens in the background. "Tina, this is going to be very important... Get a number of our experts to try and gather as much information as they can about the party that I am at now, anything that may prove useful no matter how minute. You know how we do things." After hearing Tina agree to everything with a serious tone, Lex returned his focus to those around him.

As law enforcement came by he saw Erin questioning Sor, preparing him for the investigation that would surely start sometime soon. Looking down at Rebecca holding Lauren's hand Lex promptly squatted down next to her, attempting to comfort her by wrapping his arm around her shoulder, patting her. He leaned towards Rebecca's ear, whispering,"Erin is right, the cops soon start questioning everyone here... and Sorin will most likely be their main suspect."

Looking around Lex noticed that their wasn't any law enforcement within eyesight. While still comforting Rebecca and with the cops currently distracted, Lex removed the hands she was holding Lauren with, wiping the hand Rebecca had just been holding. He turned to look at her in the eyes with the most caring look he could muster while maintaining his composure. "Your fingerprints would only lead to more complications for you... I know how much Lauren means to you but you being put in a holding cell for holding her hand doesn't sit well with me."

Looking at Rebecca's eyes he couldn't help but break down the emotional wall he had just built a little bit. He then held her even tighter as he said, "I'm sorry... I'm not exactly the greatest at comforting others. If you want to stay here with Lauren... we can do that. If you need some fresh air, we can do that... " As he looked down at Lauren while holding Rebecca he couldn't help but feel regret that he was incapable of keeping this event from happening and deciding that he would do everything within his ability to get to the bottom of what happened here, while protecting himself and those he cared about.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Alexander Yang Character Portrait: Lauren Clark

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Nate had always loved parties, that was no secret. Something about going out, being with his friends, it made him feel alive. As a teenager, it had been some form of escapism; the less he was at home, the less time he spent dealing with his parents. But as his father started leaving him alone, he didn't slow down any. His group of friends was kind of like a second family- one that understood him, or, at least, they did. Nate had lost friends after everything that happened, but he'd ended up closer than ever to others. He had the day off, but wanted to make sure there would be plenty of people at the party before he arrived- he wanted to avoid Lauren if he could. The thought that he would be avoiding her in her own home crossed his mind, but he honestly didn't care if that hurt her feelings.

The party was a blur of people he didn't recognize, a few he did, and music that shouldn't have surprised him. He should have known there would be drama, there always was when Lauren was around. He didn't give himself time to start regretting his decision to come to the party, instead he got a drink and went off in search of someone he knew- one he was willing to talk to, anyway. Nate had always been good at small talk, so he knew he would be just fine mingling around until he spotted someone he knew. It didn't take long until he ran into Rebecca, and a bright smile lit up his face, "Rebecca?" He returned her hug, squeezing her gently. He smiled as she spoke, and shrugged in a nonchalant gesture when she halfway brought up the mess Nate's life was in when she moved, "I'm doing alright, now," His voice was even and calm, as if he were speaking a universal truth, and not just his own opinion, "I actually work for Erin now. She's a good boss." He paused, but only for a moment before he continued, "Very patient." They caught up for a few minutes, but it wasn't long before Rebecca excused herself to go find Lauren, and Nate found himself alone yet again.

He tried to enjoy himself, but everyone seemed so wrapped up in Lauren and whatever she was scheming that he felt like there was going to be a repeat of the last time they were all in one space together. Combined with how Lauren seemed to be everywhere, and how difficult it seemed to be to avoid her spotting him, he started to contemplate leaving. He decided to say goodbye to everyone who still cared, or at least Erin, but his plans were quickly changed by the sounds of shouting and crying from one of the rooms. He took a moment to take it all in; his brain trying to understand what had happened. His face was set in an expression of indifference, but as he heard sirens approaching, he moved into action. He moved to Soren's side and squatted down to lift him to his feet, "Come on, buddy," He spoke, voice barely above a whisper, "Let's go sit down."

Arms wrapped firmly around Soren's shoulders, Nate led the man out of the room and sat him down on a couch. He looked around, briefly, before settling down next to his old friend, not wanting to leave him alone. He and Soren had never been close, but Nathan knew this moment was devastating, so he was more than happy to wait in silence, at least for the moment.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Alexander Yang Character Portrait: Lauren Clark Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan

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72 hours and counting. Khepri has been up for a total of 72 hours, a majority of which she spent at the desk in her hotel room just typing away on her computer, trying to come up with a story that wasn't shitty. She spent close to 3 days staring at her computer, not including the four-hour nap she took while sitting at the desk in her hotel room while she was on the phone with Christopher who was persisting that her pain medication mixed with her lack of sleep was only going to cause her to crash. Again. Or at least asked her to step out of her room to get some fresh air. Not that she listened. She promised both him, Lex, and Lauren that she would go to the party which gave her a ton of time to finish her draft, she'd get some fresh air then. But until then she had to focus that was before she saw the blinds of her room open and let in streams of light causing the reporter to cover her eyes and groan. "Ugh! You could at least open the windows so it's not completely depressing in here." Khepri groaned before hitting save on her document because she knew, whatever Lauren had planned would leave it unfinished. She raised her eyes for the first time to see none other than Lauren Clark with her hands on her hips. "How'd you even get into my room? I told them no disruptions."

"It's not a disruption if you tell them you're worried about your friend's mental well being and think she might hurt herself." Khrepi raised her eyebrows as she removed her glasses. "Lauren!" The black hair beauty chuckled. "What? You weren't answering your phone and I need help." The Indian woman raised her eyebrows once more before returning to her word doc. "I'm busy. Some of us actually have careers that never stop." Lauren rolled her eyes. "The world won't fall apart just because Khepri Mahajan stops working." Khepri took a deep breath. "No, but my career might." Anyone else would think she's being dramatic and okay, maybe she was but, as far as she was concerned. If she was ever going to get back in the field, broadcasting these exciting stories from all over the globe, she had to show her bosses that she was healed in every possible way; physically, mentally and that she was better than ever. And instead of taking anyone's advice and taking time off, she's spent her time 'off' thinking of stories that she would get started the moment she was back in front of the camera as opposed to just publishing them in some newspaper. Laur scoffed as she slowly started to close the girl's computer. "And people think I'm dramatic." Pri looked in disbelief as Lauren quickly grab the computer and tossed it on the bed. "Your career will be fine for a night. Now, how long have you been cooped up in here?"

"Two days." Three, but who's counting. "Have you eaten anything." Khepri didn't even look as she gave a signature snide remark as she rubbed her eyes to help them adjust to the world. "Whatever answer gets you to leave me alone quicker." Lauren smiled as she scurried towards the walk-closet, not saying a word until she started to toss out an outfit for her friend to change into. "Great, so that's a no. So, here's the plan: you shower, we get lunch, we get some sexy outfits for tonight, and then start scheming." Pri whined like a child as she caught to pair of booties Lauren tossed towards her. "Why me?" Khepri whined. "Why not Becca or just anyone but me?" Lauren threw her a pair of booties. "Because you're the brains and I need a plan." At this point Lauren was holding Khepri's hand with big eyes. Khepri groaned with annoyance as she ripped her hand away to head towards her bathroom to get ready for the day.

The pair spent the rest of the day getting ready for the party before heading to Lauren's to put on the finishing touches. Honestly, with Khepri, everything was going to look perfect even if it wasn't her party. At this point, the two were made up with their hair and makeup and, at least Khepri was a little more relaxed than usual after partaking in more than enough drinking since Lauren started to tell her how she wanted Soren back and her whole idea. She nodded and gave her advice but was a lot less vocal about how bad of an idea this was. And could you blame her? She had still never told the girl about their little run-in after the breakup and before he left town and honestly, she didn't plan on it. As far as Lauren knew, Soren was just a raging pain in her ass (which he was) and she just didn't like the idea which was why she was reluctant to agree with it. How was she supposed to even bring that up? "Hey you want your ex back? Great. By the way, I slept with him. We good?" She was a terrible person and to null that feeling of guilt, she kept drinking and nitpicking things with the setup of the party. Lauren pulled her aside and smirked. "They're on their way up." Pri smirked back, hiding her anxiety before chuckling. "Great, then I'm going to go get dressed before everyone shows up and give you some space to enact that twisted and very fucked up plan of yours."

"And go get another drink, Jesus Christ." It wasn't that she was worried about it coming out at any point in the night, god no. She knew neither her or Soren would 1, ever bring it up and 2, would rather die than tell Lauren. It was just the fact that it happened and this was the first time in years Khepri was around Lauren in person and now it was starting to weigh on her. The polished woman took her time getting ready, not only to stop from facing any awkwardness but because she had to make sure she looked absolutely perfect. This was the first time she was seeing the whole group together and, yes, she had to show off her hair that was down and framing her face just right, her makeup, her emerald green silk dress that stopped right above her knees and strappy black heels, down to even the shine on her engagement ring. She looked herself in the mirror for what felt like the 30th time, fixing her flyaways before taking a step back to take in her entire appearance. Turning to the side, she smirked. "Still got it." It had felt like forever since the last time she had gone out and had a good time, but that didn't stop her from looking down at her phone every time it went off. Constantly remembering the work she was putting off... for a party. She took a deep breath, reached into her clutch and pulled out a baggie of blue pills, throwing two into her mouth and washing them down with some water, Lauren had given her after noticing how much Khepri was drinking before the party even started. Yes, she was aware that mixing alcohol with her Adderall wasn't the best idea but, she needed to work after this. She didn't plan on being at the party too long, only long enough to see her friends, please Lauren with her social skills, and sneak out the back to talk to Christopher and finish editing her article. She'd out in like two hours, easy. "Stop be an antisocial narcissist and come out here!" Lauren yelled through the door.

Most of the party went off without a hitch, she saw some old friends, danced with Lauren as she made sex eyes towards Soren as his band played even after telling Khepri how her plan went and slung her arms around Khepri's shoulders. She'd never admit but, he was talented. She swayed as Lauren spun her around just the band's set ended. "Okay! I will be back until then," Lauren kissed her on the cheek. "Try to get some dick or pussy, whatever your little bicon heart desires. I'll be back!" The black hair beauty winked before disappearing into the crowd before Pri could say a word. "I don't need pussy because I'm not a bicon." She scoffed and threw her hands up before turning around to make her way to the bar to pass time until Lauren came back as she definitely didn't plan on sleeping with anyone tonight especially since she shouldn't at least act like she's engaged.

Khepri past the time, talking to a woman who walked up to the bar, not really picking up on the flirting as she looked at the time and all of her notifications, she knew it was time to bow out. But, not before thanking Lauren for actually getting her out of her shell for a night even if it was against her will. She excused herself from the conversation and hurried off but not before the girl handed her a piece of paper. Khepri didn't even look at it before slipping it in her pocket and starting to look around for the host. She had seen her go into the hallway away from the party and started to push her way through, saying the occasional excuse me but, mostly just shuffling through. She peeked in her bedroom, nothing. She groaned before walking into the spare room, seeing Lauren bleeding and Soren kneeling by her. She couldn't even stop herself from letting out a blood-curdling scream as she leaned against the doorframe. She covered her mouth and started shaking as she held the wall for balance to help her toppling over. The room soon filled with people; screaming, crying, and being escorted out by others. It was as if Khepri wasn't even there, she was frozen to the world around her and she couldn't hear anything but muffled sobs. The rest of the group came in and she didn't even say a word, she just stood there, softly shaking. No tears, no sobs, just completely numb, letting out the occasional shaking breath. She didn't even move as Becca held onto Lauren before being moved by Lex and Nate grabbing Soren.

Khepri couldn't even explain why she had frozen up, she had seen battlefields, crime scenes, you name it and Khepri had seen it before in her career but, this. This hit differently, this wasn't some unnamed victim, this was Lauren. Someone she had just danced with an hour ago and now, she was just gone, like that. Through the muffled voices running through her head, she heard someone saying that the police was coming and saw flashes of red and blue fill the room. Most of the guests had left the room before being police made their way into the apartment but, Khepri at this point had slid to the ground clinging on for dear life to her position on the doorframe. Only letting go when two uniformed officers softly removed her and escorted her out of the room. When leaving, Khepri turned to see the body of her friend just as they covered her with a sheet. She gasped for air as if she was suffocating and finally let out a tear that made its way down her face. The officers sat her down near the others when she finally completely snapped back. "Ma'am, again, are you okay?" Khepri rapidly blinked before turning her eyes to the officers. "What? Yea--... Yea, I'm okay." She turned her eyes to the room around her. "You're in shock, stay here until we can check you out. You may have hit your head on your way down." She just nodded, not even making eye contact with them. Just finally taking in the sight of distraught party goers as the wheels in her head began to turn.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Arisa Winston

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Arisa Winston
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xxxThe search is so very long
xxxWe let it fade away
xxxThere's a ray of hope beyond despair
xxxMove on, look for the truth in this world

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New York City, the city that never slept. It was a city that Arisa had never been to, despite living close to it for a number of years before becoming a cop. For one, she had no desire to see it and secondly, she simply liked where she had been. But a job was a job and Arisa loved her job. So NYC bound she was, along with her partner Kyle. To say their assignment transition and trip to New York was memorable was true, but for all the wrong reasons. Arisa handled the trip much better then Kyle. If there was one thing she learned over the years, it was patience was a virtue. Still the travel experience did push her buttons. At least their luggage hadn't been sent somewhere else. She had tried telling Kyle these things but it had been pretty obvious there was no helping him. For her own experiences, Arisa felt she had no right to complain when she had been in worse situations, not to mention she had seen the worst in humanity too. And it was those moments that Arisa's 'dark side' showed up and it was then Kyle's turn to try to keep her calm. It was a relief when they finally reached their hotel. The place itself was more expensive then Arisa's last place, and smaller too. Still it would do until she got her own flat. As much as Arisa wanted to live in the suburbs, she knew she had to stay in the main urban area because of her job.

Arisa had been busy putting her own stuff away when she heard a knock at the door. Checking through the peep hole in the door, she saw it was her commanding officer.

"Yes sir?"

This couldn't be good. She wasn't expecting to meet her commanding officer until tomorrow. Other officers had been with him.

"Agent Winston, come with me please. There's something I need to tell you and Agent Monohan."

Nodding and making sure she had her hotel key and officer's badge, the detective followed him into her partner's room, along with her other 'tools' she took with her in case something happened, which included her gun. She stood close to Kyle as they both were told about a homicide. Well that was just great, but this was New York after all. The crime rate was bound to be through the roof here. Her ears picked up the conversation of the other officers who asked Kyle if he knew a Lauren when he was younger.

"My sister did, but I doubt it's the same person. Plenty of people with that name. Let's get going, shall we?"

For her partner's sake, Arisa hoped it wasn't the Lauren he knew. Cases could easily get messy if an officer had deep connections with those directly involved. Arisa didn't know a lot about Kyle's personal life but she did know he had a sister. Didn't he mention she was a bar tender? She didn't know much and didn't bother trying to ask because she was pretty tight lip about her own personal life. They basically only told each other where they originally came from and a little about their families. All that Kyle knew about her was she was from Allentown and grew up with her aunt and uncle, which was technically true since she was still a child when she moved in with them.

NYC traffic was horrible downtown. Even Arisa was tempted to get out of the vehicle they were in to walk to the crime scene, so it was a huge relief when the cops they were with decided to turn on their alarms. This was one thing Arisa loved about being a cop, the right to get to a place ASAP. Once there Arisa became on high alert. Doubtful they would have found a suspect, much less the culprit, but the blonde never took any chances, after facing death herself a number of times throughout her life. They took an elevator up and entered a scene Arisa was all too familiar with, confusion and distraught. People weren't used to bad thing happening to them. Looks like their had been a party, at least based on the attire of the people in the hallway. Yeah, a party was the last thing one would expect a murder, but they were more common place then one would think, crime wise at least. And this was a high class party by all appearances too. Arisa may not wear anything 'expensive', but she knew a designer gown when she saw one. Great, high class meant probably more news coverage, especially if anyone famous was connected. Arisa did not like the press. She was the one who dealt with them between her and Kyle. Thank goodness for the term "Pleading the 5th". She took that tactic a lot. Still news reporters could be like fleas, they never stopped pestering you. Arisa stopped thinking about though and focused on the task at hand when they entered a room.

Putting on a neutral face, Arisa started scanning the room and the people within it. Still, she wanted to keep an eye on Kyle too and followed him as they were led to another hallway where the crime took place. Markers were already up and a sheet was covering the body. Hopefully the coroner would arrive soon and take the body back to the station so they can do an autopsy and move from there. Arisa looked at her partner and saw his gaze linger on a few people, especially the one with tats on her. It looked like Kyle knew these people. Seeing how they were all near the crime scene, Arisa figured they were all connected to the victim in some way for that was normally the case in these kinds of situations. That or had been the first to see the body. Arisa made a note to interview each and every one of them.

Soon another officer addressed them and Kyle took a look at the body after putting his gloves on. Her confirmed the identity as Lauren Clark and that she was a friend of his sister's. Arisa felt bad for her partner and placed a hand on his shoulder for comfort. Sure, they might not have been friends, but she was still someone her partner knew and no one would expect something like this to happen. She was about to suggest he leave the room when he took it upon himself to do so. Letting her partner do what he felt was best for now. Lucky for them, she was not connected and would do her best to remain as unbiased as possible. Deciding to start interview people first, she approached two men, one with dark hair and pale skin and another who was muscular with brown hair.

"Good evening gentlemen. Apologies for intruding, but I have a few questions for you. I am Detective Arisa Winston with the New York City Police Department. We'll try to get through this as quickly as possible so you can go about your business. First, I am going to need your names, ages, connection to the victim if you have one, and what you were doing here at the time of the incident."

Arisa had on a gentle smile in order to help keep these witnesses calm. She had her trusty notepad out and was already taking down notes of their appearances. The dark hair was clearly distraught and it looked like the other one was merely comforting him. Arisa knew this was all circumstantial and not hard evidence, but she believed in writing down her own personal thoughts for it helped her in investigating. Her gut feeling was telling her that the dark haired one was deeply connected to the victim or was the first to discover her or both.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Arisa Winston Character Portrait: Alexander Yang

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Soren was completely numb. People were talking to him, he was pretty sure that one of those people was Erin, but he just... couldn't respond. Rebecca was sobbing beside him, and he couldn't even comfort her. It felt like he was watching it all from somewhere outside his body, like this wasn't really happening to him. He could hear the sirens getting closer, but he couldn't respond. They arrived, and somebody- was it Nate?- gently pulled him to his feet and led him out of the room. They sat him down and disappeared again, leaving Soren alone. The whole time, all Soren did was stare at the floor. People moved around him, some of them even tried talking to him, but he couldn't process it. Lauren was dead. She was gone, just like that. It just... didn't seem possible.

He was vaguely aware of somebody talking to him, but he only really came around once they tapped him gently on the cheek. He finally looked up at the ground to meet Erin's eyes. She was saying something about the room they'd found her in, if he'd gone back in.

"I... I went in after I came offstage, I needed a.... a breather before I went out to.... to see everyone again. Lauren- she- she came in, she wanted to talk, she wanted to... but I left." And then it hit him. It hit him so hard it felt like he'd been physically kicked in the chest. She was gone. She was dead and everybody was going to think it was him and he'd ruined things for everyone, he'd ruined things for the band- he was never going to get anywhere now-

"I didn't do it, Erin, I swear to god, I didn't, you have to believe me-" he forced out between heaving sobs, somewhere between crying and a panic attack.

Erin looked at Soren as he simply sat there in silence. The look on his face mixed with the body language, as well as the look in his eyes told her everything she needed to know. He was in his own little world, and it only took her gently patting his face to bring him back down to earth, however helpful that may have been in the moment. But sometimes the only thing that someone needs in some tough love. She sighed softly as he finally began talking, his voice was wracked with emotion and was occasionally cracking from him having cried as much as he had. Erin gently placed her hand on his knee as he continued explaining that he had gone into the room, for only a minute and in that small time frame that Lauren did come and talk to him. She sighed heavily, if the police found out that they did indeed have one final talk before she was found murdered, Soren would indeed be the first one they went after even more, and she couldn't allow that. She couldn't allow any of her friends to be found guilty of this, it was absurd anyway, right? None of them could actually be found guilty of murder... right?

She gently squeezed his leg as he began crying as she slowly stood up and sat down next to him, wrapping her arms around him as he began to cry once more. Erin could feel his entire body shake, and she could have sworn she felt his heart beating rapidly in his chest. "I want to believe you, I do. I really, really do...But...Anyone could have done it, Sor...Anyone...And I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." she said as she could feel the burn behind her eyes begin, and then finally the tears hit as she tried to remain calm in this moment. But seeing everyone go from having a good time and enjoying themselves like last time, this only caused her to be a mix of angry and entirely heart-broken. "Everything's going to be okay, Soren...I promise." she said softly as she kissed the top of his head, as well as rubbing his left arm with one hand, and his back with her other. He needed someone to help him in this moment, and she'd do her best to be there for him, just like she always was.

Soren instinctively leaned into Erin the minute she put her arms around him. The physical contact made him feel just a little calmer, a little more grounded. But Erin only said that she wanted to believe him, not that she did, and that just made it worse. Because he didn't blame her for not believing him. He probably wouldn't have believed himself. So how the hell was he going to make the cops believe him? How the hell was he going to get anyone to believe him? Goddammit, he hadn't even wanted to come to the party. He'd just showed up expecting to play the private show for some superfan, take a few pictures, make some polite conversation, maybe have a drink, and then go home. And then everything had gone wrong, and now he had ruined everything.

After a few minutes, the sobbing subsided, but he stayed where he was in Erin's arms, entirely emotionally drained and having returned to that awful, cold, numbness. "What do we do now, Erin?" he asked, not sure if he wanted an answer or not. The cops already seemed to be interviewing people, and he knew it was only a matter of time before his name got mentioned in all the wrong ways.

Erin continued trying her best to comfort him, ignoring how she felt entirely in that moment. Soren needed comforting more than she did. She held him close as he leaned into her embrace more, which only made her hold him even tighter. She finally waited until he had finished crying, and once he did she let go of her embrace slightly, which allowed him to compose himself better. Erin sighed as Soren asked what were they going to do, and honestly, she had no idea. There was nothing they really could do, except for try to remain as calm and collected as they could. "I don't know...Just try to prove that none of us did it? I honestly don't know, Sor...That's what scares me.." her voice showed evidence of being genuinely scared and uncertain. And the fact that two people walked in that didn't look like normal police officers sent a shiver down her spine. Something was unsettling about the whole thing, the fact that it wasn't just the average police officers arriving was worrisome. "No matter what...I got your back." she said as she gently held his hand. There was one thing she knew, and she wasn't going to let her friends fall for something they didn't do...If they were all innocent anyway. And she tried believing they were.

The attention of two new cops walking in, two that looked... different to the others, put Soren a little on edge. It just made the whole thing feel even more real. But it reminded him that he wasn't the only one dealing with this. He squeezed her hand. "We've got each other's back. No matter... no matter what." he said. "We'll be okay. We'll be okay," he said, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. He wasn't sure if he was saying it to himself or to Erin. But he had to believe it. He had to, because the alternative didn't bear thinking about.

Erin simply nodded as Soren spoke, whether it was to reassure the both of them, her, or even just himself, she wasn't sure. But she wasn't going to question it. She didn't really know what to say or do, except hold his hand and be there for him. She looked on as the officers began questioning more of them, as the people that stood out from the normal officers began examing the room and apartment. She knew what they were looking for, any sign of anytihng out of the ordinary. She watched silently for a few minutes as the male in the suit began encrouching closer, but she noticed how he simply kept to himself and was more invested in investigating than talking to anyone. She simply shook her head and looked back at Soren, "I'm going to go check on the others, see if they're okay...Think you'll be okay for a few short minutes while I'm gone?" Erin asked, genuinely concerned and wanted to make sure if it would be okay for her to leave or if she should stay. If Soren needed her to stay and comfort her longer, she would. But she just wanted to make sure that he was okay first before she left him.

Watching the police just made Soren feel even more anxious, so he turned his attention to the ground again, trying to keep himself calm. He nodded as Erin said she was going to check on the others. "Yeah. Yeah, I'll be fine," he said. Fine was probably an overstatement, but the overwhelming panic was at least gone. It appeared to have taken a chunk of his chest with it, leaving him feeling numb and empty, but it did mean that he could probably manage by himself for a few minutes. "Go on, go make sure everyone else is okay," he said, forcing a smile. He knew they both knew it was forced, but it was better than nothing.

Erin gave him as much of a reassuring smile as she could give him as she ruffled his hair slightly. "I won't be gone for too long. If you need a place to stay tonight, you know my place is yours." she gave him a reaffirming nod before she turned to go leave and see how the others were doing. Even though it wouldn't be much of a guess, seeing how things had gone from good, to bad in a simple matter of minutes. And she doubted anyone was fairing better than Soren. Erin scanned the area to see who wasn't having to give statements, and saw that Alex was currently comforting Rebecca in the corner of the room. She turned back towards Soren and pretended to vomit before she walked over to those two to see how they were doing.

He nodded as she told him her place was his if he needed it. He was more than likely going to take her up on that offer. The thought of sleeping in an empty apartment after this... he couldn't do it. He caught a glimpse of her pretending to vomit at the sight of Lex comforting Rebecca and managed a smile, but couldn't manage much more of a reaction than that. He had no idea how long he was sitting there before the female cop came over. Nate also appeared to be beside him. Had he been there even when Erin and Soren had been talking? Had he only just sat down?

The cop introduced herself as Detective Arisa Winston and didn't waste much time in getting to business. Her manner was efficient but not totally cold. Soren ran a hand through his hair and at least tried to compose himself a little. "Soren Bowers, 25. I... Lauren is- was... my ex-girlfriend," he admitted. The wave of panic crashed over him all over again, and he had to fight to at least keep himself able to talk to her. "I was just going to get my stuff to leave when... when..." He couldn't get the words out. It still didn't seem real. It felt like a bad dream he couldn't escape from, no matter how much he tried.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Arisa Winston Character Portrait: Alexander Yang Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan

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Rebecca Cruze
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outfit : herex|xhex: #D02090
xxxYoung hearts, out our minds
xxxRunnin' 'til we outta time
xxxWild child's, lookin' good
xxxLiving hard just like we should

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Rebecca had tunnel vision just focusing on Lauren as tears came down her face. She felt someone per her shoulder and say something to her but her attention was full on Lauren, hoping she would sit up, say something, or do anything. It wasn’t until someone separates her hand from Lauren she broke out of her trance. She looked up with watery eyes make up that was starting to get runny to see Alexander. He talked about not wanting her to get in trouble for touching Lauren and that it could point fingers at her, she nodded when he spoke about staying or heading out to get some fresh air and try to calm down until the cops arrive. Rebecca saw Erin ask Soren what happened, and then say she had to call someone and stepped out. Erin was probably calling the cops. Rebecca knew now that Lauren wasn’t coming back and that police will be coming to investigate everything. Becca was helped up by Lex and lead out of the room and towards the window for some fresh air. “Th-thank you Lex… sorry you have to see me like this.” She barely whispered out to him. “Just… Lauren. She’s dead and the last thing between us was an arguement, I feel like a terrible friend… who would do this to her…” she said as some more tears rolled her eyes.

The two head back in the hallway as the cops were called and waited. Rebecca day on the floor against the wall and had her arms wrapped around her legs as she leaned into Lex who was holding her and comforting her. She had finally stopped tearing up and crying and was mostly sniffling. She looked up at Lex for a second and gave a slight smile through her runny/ruined make up, she was happy to have someone there as she was freaking out. She might have seemed more calmed down than when she saw Lauren’s dead body laying there with Soren next to her, but internally she was still freaking out and not sure what to think. Who could’ve done this, and why? Rebecca thought to herself as she was leaning her head against Lex, him just rubbing her shoulder and saying she would be okay. While thinking all of this to herself, Rebecca had be scratching and pinching her arms as a reaction to her anxiety, nerves, and emotions taken over, it wasn’t until Lex said something that she stopped, but had already marked herself up a little.

The two sat there when the first wave of cops showed up and taped up the room, well now what was the crime scene. The cops had started questing some people but left Rebecca alone as she just continued to stare into the ground and Lex letting people know she was okay and needed a minute. But once the detectives got there she knew she would have to talk to them at some point. She lightly nudged Lex and signalled she wanted to stand up, and used him to stand up and try to get ahold of herself. Becca took a look around and saw Erin talking to Soren but couldn’t make out what they were saying, and then Erin came over to her and Lex asking if they were okay.

“Y-yeah. Just, Lauren… she’s…” Rebecca was able to get through her sniffles and recovering from crying, and not wanting to say it out loud, as if not saying it will make it not true. She heard Lex say something to Erin. She saw the two detectives come out of the room and the female went up to Nate and Soren and started asking them things. Rebecca looked back at Lex and Erin when the other detective came over to talk to the three of them, asking for some basic information, small statements. “Rebecca Wilde Cruze, 24. Friend of Lauren’s… really close friend.” She said before sniffly and tearing up a little thinking about her best friend from high school being dead. Lex and Erin gave their information while Rebecca just stared at the male detective, she felt like she knew him from somewhere but wasn’t sure. She was broken from her trance when he said asked for anything else. “Oh! Soren was in the room when I saw L-Lauren. I got emotional and started to freak out so I wasn’t sure what he was doing, sorry.” She said pausing for a second before stepping forward grabbing the detectives hand. “But Soren wouldn’t hurt Lauren. He’s not that type of guy.” She said before realizing what she did and backed up, back into Lex’s embrace. The detective thanked them and left, a little awkwardly so.

Rebecca looked over at Erin. “Ri-rght? He wouldn’t kill Lauren would he?” She asked before noticing Lex looking at Khepri. Lex quietly excused himself and asked if Rebecca would like to stay with him tonight, so she wouldn’t be alone. Becca gave a small smile and nodded before Lex walked away to check on Pri, and watched him walk away before Erin got her attention. She warned Rebecca and told her to be careful. “I’ll be fine… I just don’t want to spend the night alone. You know?” Rebecca said grabbing Erin’s hand it’s both of hers. “I promise.” She said before smiling and walking over to Pri and Lex, staying quiet to let them finish talking. “I’m ready to go when you are.” She whispered to Lex, taking his arm.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Arisa Winston Character Portrait: Alexander Yang Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan

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Erin Monahan
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outfit : herex|xhex: #80000
xxxForget the horror here
xxxForget the horror here
xxxLeave it all down here
xxxIt's future rust and it's future dust


Erin nodded as Soren simply just nodded in reply to her offer for coming back to her place after. It wouldn't be much, but it was all she could really offer anyone in the moment. They were all so broken and confused, and tired. None of them knew what had happened, or why. Why was it Lauren? Why did someone have the motive to kill her out of everyone there? What would have been so bad that someone had to take another's life? She knew Lauren, and as manipulative and toxic as she was at times, she didn't deserve this. No one deserved this. Before she left she gave Soren's shoulder a gentle squeeze and then turned and left for Rebecca and Alexander. She didn't know exactly what they had been saying due to everyone talking as quietly as they could, but she figured it was about what had just transpired. No matter how strong someone was, something like this, no one was ever prepared. Things had gone so well. Aside from the small argument between Soren and Lauren earlier, everything was fine, well, as fine as it could have been. She'd make sure to talk to Soren later about it, probably tomorrow when he was in a better mindset. "Are you guys okay...?" she asked, rather rhetorical in nature, but it was the only thing she could think of to say. All she knew was that they all needed someone, and she was trying her best to keep herself together. Erin gave a sorrowful look when Rebecca began to talk, her voice low and shallow, it was obvious that she had just been crying. From either the tear-stained make-up, to the reddened eyes. She sighed softly as she sat down next to them, gently rubbing Rebecca's back as the same man from earlier slowly walked up to them.

It was obvious from the way he dressed to the badge by his hip that he was no normal cop. Police usually dress in their police uniforms, not a suit and tie. She guessed the FEDS had been called in, but why? It's not like Lauren was any person of real importance, but maybe they were needed more so than the regular officers? She didn't know, all she knew was that she'd need to give her statement, and that was it. As she looked up at him as she was finally able to get a proper look at him, something seemed familiar, yet foreign. It was weird. She couldn't exactly put her finger on it, but she saw countless people every day. She figured she had just seen him in passing and thought nothing of it in the moment. "Erin Monahan. Twenty-five. Lauren was...A good friend...She hired me as the bartender for the night." she said as she looked down for a moment, and then looked back up, "You-You don't think I poisoned her, right? You can check all of the alcohol at the bar, nothing was messed with. Besides, I have my own bar...I don't think poisoning someone would be the best way to get business, right?" she said with an awkward chuckle as she tucked some loose hair behind her ear. She cleared her throat with a simple cough as she tried to relax, and not let her anxiety take over. She looked back up as Alexander gave his information and statement, and left the two of them to do whatever he was leaving for. She gave him an annoyed look and roll of her eyes before looking back at the detective. "Anything else? I don't really remember much. I didn't see anything out of the ordinary or hear anything. All I know is that uh, Khepri had been talking to her earlier, and that they danced. That was all that I remember under I heard people scream...I was also the one that called it in..If that helps any?" she questioned, her hands were sweaty and her heart was racing. The last thing she wanted to do was lie to a cop, but she wasn't completely lying. She didn't need to tell him that she had passed out in the bathroom, and didn't remember some things in that time-frame, not like it mattered much/

The detective thanked her for their time and their statements and quickly walked away after taking some notes. He didn't say much aside from the normal routine questions, obvious that he was rather new. Erin looked back at Rebecca when they were finally alone, and offered her if she needed a place to stay, but slightly frowned when she explained that she'd be going home with Alex. She rolled her eyes, of course, he would have offered. He had a crush on Rebecca since day one, and he wasn't very subtle about it. Not like she was one to talk exactly. She simply nodded as she spoke, "Just...be careful, alright? I can't afford to lose someone else tonight..." she said as she gave Rebecca a small smile, but her eyes portrayed something else. Worry, concern, and a bit of sadness at the news of going back with someone else. But if anything happened, Erin would have a reason to lose her shit at Alex finally. She simply just gave Rebecca's hand a gentle squeeze, but not before slipping a small paper into her hand after Rebecca had clasped her hand between her's. She figured Rebecca would look at the paper later, it was simply just her phone number and a small reminder to call/text her when she wanted to talk next time. Erin silently watched as Rebecca stood up and returned to Alex and Khepri, letting them know she was ready when they were to leave. A small tinge of annoyance and possibly even jealousy slithered its way into her head as she found herself clenching her jaw in an annoyed manner. She simply just sighed and stood up and walked back over to Soren, seeing how he had also given his statement, as well as Nathan. They had been talking to the female officer that came in with the male that had asked her and the others a few questions. Erin waited for them to finish their statements, giving the blonde-haired woman a small smile and nod as she thanked them for their time and gave another small bow and apology for what had happened before she left.

Erin looked at Soren and Nathan as they sat there and gave them a small and reassuring smile, "Alright, you sad saps. Soren, you said you're coming back with me, Nate, you in or did you already decide on going with someone else? You know my offer always stands." she gave him a small smile and ruffled his hair before she helped Soren to his feet. She grabbed her jacket and put it on, feeling the pack and lighter in her pockets, she'd wait until she got outside of the complex to have another one. She needed something to calm her nerves, and if smoking didn't do it, possibly drinking until she passed out sounded like a good plan. And that would most likely be how she ended up dealing with it when they got back to her place. "Let's get the fuck out of here, shall we?" she asked as she turned and left with Soren and whoever else decided to head out with her. But before they left, she stopped by Alex, Khepri, and Rebecca. She gave them all a small nod as they passed by, "You guys know where to find us. I'll see some of you tomorrow...Hopefully." she said with another nod of her head and then proceeded to leave. That apartment was too stuffy and she needed to escape from that place. When they finally reached the bottom floor and walked out of those glass frame doors, she immediately dug into her pocket, retrieving her pack of cigarettes and lighter. Immediately, she put one between her lips as she lit it and took a very long and slow drag before she gave out a slow puff of smoke into the crisp night air. There were few things that helped her calm down, and sadly, as bad of a habit as this was, it was one of her most relied upon remedies. "Don't judge me...I've been cutting back...Sort of. Anyway, to the bar or back to the apartment? Either way, some of the good shit and drinks await us." she said as they continued down those same damn city streets that they once walked down together. Once happy and full of life and mistakes, and bad decisions. Now..Now they walked these streets with nothing but regret and brokeness...Hoping tomorrow would be a better day. That's all Erin could do, was hope. Hope that this was either all some sort of sick joke, or was all just some nightmare.








Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Alexander Yang Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan

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ALEXANDER YANG
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Ethical Hacker | Outfit | Hex: #4E3475
There is only one way to avoid criticism:
do nothing, say nothing, be nothing...

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Alexander was quietly thinking about the various things he could do in order to address the predicament Lauren's death had caused himself and the rest of the group who had gathered tonight. Lauren was guaranteed to cause drama whenever the group was together but this was something completely different from the usual, she wouldn't be here to enjoy the chaos. Sighing to himself Lex couldn't help but think Lauren is somehow a little delighted at the trouble she was causing all of them. A wistful smile began to form on his face thinking about her.

While sitting down in the hallway Lex continued to comfort Rebecca, knowing just how hurt she was after losing her best friend. He wanted to remove the pain she was feeling but he knew how much work he would have to burden himself in order to accomplish it. His secretary was already accumulating whatever they could, working with experts at Lex's company, in order to uncover what exactly happened tonight and depending on what they discover, to act accordingly. If the answer was simple enough then that would be the end of it but Lex had a feeling that whatever went down tonight was far from simple.

A number of guests had asked about his and Becca's condition. While exchanging pleasantries and noting that him and Becca were fine he noticed Erin walking towards them. Becca had nudged him to stand up, complying Lex stood up while supporting Becca making sure that she was fine. When Erin had asked them if they were okay Lex smiled slightly before looking towards her and saying, "Things could be better... Lauren always knew how liven up a party..." Lex tried to alleviate their situation with levity but he knew that nothing could really be said at this moment to ease any of their minds.

Becca was having a hard time speaking about Lauren, fumbling with her words as she was overcome with emotions. Lex would stroke her shoulder whenever she seemed to struggle, hoping that his actions were of some help to her. Looking up he saw the look in Erin's eyes which he found oddly sorrowful. It wasn't out of the question for her to have that expression, since Lauren just murdered, but there was something different there, something familiar to Lex, longing.

Not long afterwards a police officer has walked over to take their statements. Lex patiently waited as Becca and Erin gave their accounts. He noted everything they said into his mind, both Becca and Erin's accounts. Erin saying that she hadn't poisoned Lauren made Lex mentally facepalm, wondering why she would say something so unnecessary, especially while giving their official statement. When she implied the possibility of Khepri having something to do with Lauren's death, Lex couldn't help but stare daggers towards her.

When it was Lex's time to make his statement he calmed himself totally, as if he was completely removed from the situation. Turning towards the officer he said, "Name, Alexander Yang, legally documented as Yang Guowang. Age, 26. Relationship to the deceased... friend." After noting the essentials he then continued describing his account of what he had seen happen at the party, saying, "When I had arrived I had introduced myself to the hostess, Lauren, we had exchanged pleasantries before separating. During the band's performance I was in the crowd, drinking and exchanging small talk. Afterwards I went outside onto the balcony to have a cigarette, where I met Lauren again and we conversed about the party. I spent the remainder of the time talking to others in the crowd before getting a drink at the bar and hearing someone scream. When I had heard Rebecca I went towards the scene and had seen the my friend Lauren laying in a pool of blood. That's my account of the events of tonight."

Lex had left somethings out of his account: the fact that Erin had not been at the bar when the murder may have taken place, what exactly him and Lauren had talked about. Becca than talked about seeing Soren being in the room with Lauren, before shortly saying she doubted that Sor had killed Lauren, a belief they both shared. Lex and Sor's relationship hadn't been great after what had happened when the group split up years ago but he didn't believe that Sor would've murdered Lauren.

"If you need to reach me about anything concerning this case you should be able to get either in touch with me or my secretary by calling this number." Lex had given his business card to the officer after he said that. Continuing, Lex said, "I would like to extend my and my companies capabilities to assist in this investigation. As Lauren's friends we would like to find out what had happened to her... and a number of us no longer live in the country. If we will be kept from traveling out of the city it would inconvenience a lot of us, so the sooner everything is sorted out the better." The officer received the business card before walking away from them.

He heard Becca asking about whether or not Sor had murdered Lauren, before noticing Khepri. "I doubt it but until this investigation is completed... anything is possible." He turned towards Becca and said, "Your welcome to stay at my place during the investigation. I doubt that any of us will be able to leave the country before our names are cleared..." Lex smiled a little mischievously before saying, "My place is better than most hotels you'll find around here... and the room service will be exceedingly better."

Lex patted Becca on the shoulder before he turned and walked towards Khepri, saying, "Excuse me, I have something to talk to Pri about. We can do whatever you like once you've come to a decision." While walked towards Pri, Lex received a message from his secretary Tina, stating that they had gotten almost everything they could. He returned a message thanking them for their work, promising them a bonus once they obtain everything, before telling them his friend Pri would contact them soon.

Once Lex was in front of Pri he asked her, "Are you alright? You look a little shaken up." Lex listened to her response with concern visible on his face. "You need to take care of yourself... we don't need anyone else leaving us soon, especially you... We're gonna need your skills in order to get to the bottom of this, right Miss Journalist." Lex tried to keep things light but he needed to address everything he needed to, before any law enforcement overheard them. Lex slipped Pri a number before saying, "This is my secretaries number, her name is Tina. Tell her Wang sent you and she'll send you what information we had gathered about what went down tonight. I'm not going to force you into anything but... I think you and I both know we need to figure this out. Besides, breaking something like this would be great for work, right?"

Lex listened to everything Pri said before he said, "All of my resources will be available to you, you just need to say the word." He then walked up and gave Pri a hug, holding her close to him. "I don't want to lose you." Lex was about to offer Pri to stay at his place but when he thought of Becca possibly going with him tonight he was at odds with himself. He wanted to support Pri but this was one of the few chances Lex had to become closer to Becca. "I would offer my place tonight but... Becca's probably going to spend the night and I... You know how I feel about her, right? I hope you understand... After tonight you can come over, I just want to have one night."

He knew Pri was a strong and highly capable person, he saw a lot of himself in her. Lex believed that Pri would be fine but after what happened with Lauren he wasn't quite sure where she was mentally. Concerned but being driven by his desires, Lex chose Becca. Bidding Pri a goodnight he walked back towards Becca, seeing her talking with Erin. When he heard her say that she would be leaving with him, he couldn't help but genuinely smile.

Looking around the room Lex grabbed a nearby bottle of whiskey, pouring himself a drink before offering ones to both Erin and Becca. "My driver should be downstairs, we can leave now." Lex downed the remainder of his drink before he offered his hand towards Becca, holding it as they traveled down to their ride bellow. The driver was waiting outside for them, opening the door for them as they entered the limousine. When they had entered the vehicle a small gasp escaped Lex's mouth, he felt like he could finally relax after leaving that apartment. As the driver started to drive towards Lex's penthouse apartment Lex turned towards Becca and asked, "Is there anything I can do for you?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Arisa Winston Character Portrait: Alexander Yang Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan

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N a t h a n Miller
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outfit - #D6CF13
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Everything- and everyone- was just a blur of emotions, movement, noise. If you closed your eyes, you could almost imagine it was just the natural end to a party, with people lazily making their exit. Nate almost wished he could convince himself of that. There was a natural unease that came with close proximity to the dead, and an unease of law enforcement that came from experience. Nathan was uncomfortable, and he wanted to leave, but he had to stick around to give statements, and whatever else might be needed. He silently cursed himself for not leaving sooner, if he would have left when he first wanted to, instead of trying to look for his friends, he wouldn't be stuck in a suddenly stuffy apartment with a mixture of emotionally distraught and emotionally distant people. There really wasn't a more uncomfortable combination.

He always tried his best to stay out of his friend's drama (for better or worse, really), but he couldn't help but overhear pieces of conversations, and parts of the statements being taken around him. Lauren had changed everything forever. Again. While this wasn’t her fault, because Nate highly doubted she’d sat down and asked to be killed, he couldn’t help but feel a little annoyance towards her. Of course; when things weren’t going the way she wanted, she was murdered. Now nobody would be able to stop thinking, or talking, about her. It was unfair, and Nathan knew it, so he tried to shake the thoughts from his head. No matter how he’d disliked her, he didn’t want to continue to be bitter through her death, and he certainly didn’t want to blame her for her own death. Still, it was an inconvenience.

When it was time for him to give his statement, he did so with a heavy sigh and a shrug. “I’m, uh-” He licked his lips. The questions were easy enough, but he wasn't sure of how to answer them. “Nathan Miller. Twenty-six. I was,” He paused briefly, trying to collect his thoughts. What was he to Lauren? They weren’t friends. Not anymore. He didn’t seem to acknowledge the grief rising in his throat, even if it was, in that moment, evident on his face. He cleared his throat to continue, “We were… We were friends. Well, we used to be friends. It’s a long story: we were friends in, like, high school. We got along pretty well back then, but as time went on, we both changed and, well, I haven’t really spoken to her at all in… a few years, and then she invited me to this party, and I almost didn’t even come.” He shrugged, “Anyway, I was just trying to enjoy the party, and it was nice. Live band, lots of friendly people, some old friends I haven’t seen in ages, but the whole thing was a little too... “ He made a sort of vague circular gesture with his hands, “It was just a little bit classier than I guess I’m used to. But, um, I was just getting ready to leave when I heard the commotion. Was trying to track down a few friends to say goodbye to, and I sort of just walked into…” He exhaled forcefully, shaking his head almost as a way to signify that he still wasn’t sure how to process the events of the night, “A real mess, honestly.”

Nathan realized, a bit too late, that he’d probably given much more information than anyone needed, or even wanted. He nodded when Erin told him he was welcome at her place, then he sighed, “I don’t,” He interrupted himself, shrugging, “I’ll be fine. Thanks, though.” He didn’t want to tell the truth- that he didn’t think he could handle Soren right now, nor did he particularly want to. It was going to be a hell of night with those two, and all Nathan really wanted to do was go home and get some sleep. Maybe he could make sense of what had happened in the morning. Besides, none of them needed him, they all had someone to look after them, and even if they didn’t, he was pretty sure he wasn’t anyone’s first choice to of emotional support. Or, he thought so, until he saw Lex leaving with Rebecca. He sighed, silently cursing Alexander isn't he supposed to be her best friend? and walked to Khepri’s side.

“Hey,” He said, words as gentle as the hand he placed on her shoulder, “Where are you staying?” He smiled, gently, “You’ve had a rough night, I just want to make sure you get back okay.” Then, almost as a defense he held his hands up in front of his chest, as if already conceding defeat, “I know you don’t need my help, but it would make me feel better, you know.” He didn’t know what to expect from Khepri, honestly. She was normally the one trying to insist on helping him, a point that had caused just a small amount of contention between the two of them. Still, Nate had always considered Pri a friend, and she had always only been trying to help. While he knew she would probably be just fine on her own, Nate felt that she shouldn’t be going through all of this alone.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Alexander Yang Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan

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the perfectionistx|xoutfitx|x#B76A81

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"Khepri Mahajan, twenty six. Lauren was one of close friends and colleagues. She cleared the lump in her throat as she felt her hands start to shake. The officers asked her about the night, telling them how they knew she was with her a lot throughout the evening and this made the lump plummet to her stomach. All of a sudden she felt like she was going to be sick as if this one tidbit of information somehow made her suspect number one. "I mean, I guess I was around a lot. I helped her set up earlier for everything, we talked, we danced, which isn't a crime, and then she excused herself and disappeared. I didn't see her after that." They asked how long Lauren was gone.

"Maybe, half an hour? forty-five minutes?" The officers asked her if she was concerned about her friend's presence during this time. Khepri shrugged, not letting the now blaring voices of anxiety show. "Not really. It's her party, she has tons of guests and I just assumed she was... occupied or something." They asked her one last question about where she was when they discovered the body. She took a deep and shaky breath but clearing her throat once again. "I was right there... I, um, walked in, looking for her. Saw Soren, her ex, by her. I looked down and saw... blood and then I screamed and then I froze." She looked down as if she was ashamed of her reaction before returning her eyes to the detectives. "I don't remember anything after that, I don't even remember being moved here." She didn't even remember what was said after that, she zoned out thinking about all the potentially bad moves she made that night or the things that could make her seem more suspicious if they came out. She only caught the last bit of the detective's little speel where they told her if she found any information to call them and, of course, told her how this should stay out of the public eye until they concluded the case, ahhhhh. So they had known who she was and they knew what she did, which made this all the more complicated. But, she hid it as she grabbed their card with a scoff. "Right, well, I'd hate to break it to you but, it's my job."

She put the card in her purse before continuing. "Yea, so, if you have an issue with it. You can take it up with my producers, my editors, the station, the paper, and, oh, my lawyers. Not me. Have a great night, officers." She offered a fake, but bright smile as they walked about before letting it fall and softly cursing as she covered her face with her hands. She moved her hands so she could look down at them she fidgeted with the ring on her finger. As she did so, again, the world around her started to tune out and the wheels went back into motion and she replayed the night's events in her head. She had been around Lauren the most, at least from what she knew. They danced, caught up, bitched about the men in their lives (with Khepri keeping a few things out of the conversation) and of course, God for-fucking-bid, Khepri Mahajan let her guard down and try to relax for a change. This is what happens and now, this was her punishment for trying to go with the flow for once, being probably marked as a 'person of interest' in the murder case of her friend, great. Just great. And why? All because she didn't really know who she could and couldn't go up to at this party. She hadn't really left on the best of terms with some of the guests before leaving the country. She hadn't seen Lex all night, Becca was busying roaming around, socializing and Khepri didn't need a repeat of the last time they were together with copious amounts of alcohol in their systems. With the two of them out of the equation. What was she supposed to do? Sit in a corner like some wallflower or better yet sit down for a drink with Erin and Soren to reminisce about all the great times they had?

And just like that, Khepri started to do what her forced therapist has said she does a lot of; she started to spiral. Her breathing started to quicken as if she was stuck inside a plastic bag but quiet enough where no one around her thought anything was wrong. She could feel everything she's worked for, everything she planned, everything she's ever dreamed of just slipping away: her career, her credibility, all of it gone because someone had seen her spending, apparently, too much time with the victim. The only thing that snapped her out of her snowball moment was Lex, thank God.

"W-... Yea, yea, I'm fine. I'm... just thinking."

"Thinking of all the ways I could have flushed $200,000 down the goddamn toilet as opposed using it on my, now, soon to useless journalism degree from Princeton. She cleared throat as she tried to reassure him with a smile that she was okay. She didn't know if it'd work, Lex could read her like a book. "You need to take care of yourself... we don't need anyone else leaving us soon, especially you..." She scoffed as she shook her head. Everyone was acting like she was about to dive headfirst off the building, she was upset but, she wasn't fragile. "We're gonna need your skills in order to get to the bottom of this, right Miss Journalist." She chuckled before nodding. Her eyes connected with Lex's hand as it reached towards her, as to not make it suspicious to the officers around them, she held his hand for a minute and cast a small smile. To anyone else they just looked like friends with one trying to comfort the other when in actuality, she realized he was handing her a small piece of paper. She didn't know what was on it but, whatever it was she knew it was important. She and Lex didn't need secrecy useless it was for a purpose. She tried the limit how much her hand was shaking as she squeezed before letting going moving the paper into her trench coat pocket. As Lex went on, Khepri was taking in every word and when he said: "Besides, breaking something like this would be great for work, right?" For the first time, her eyes locked with his as her rational thinking (or obsession with compartmentalizing, you decide) starting to slowly return. This was what she needed; a distraction to take her mind off the anxiety and guilt racing through her head or at least something that allowed her to shove it right back down to deal with at a later time. "A great for the reporter and company who did it." She took a deep, shaky breath as she shook her head. "You don't have to force me to do anything. I got it." She forced a small smile before he pulled her into his arms. She took a deep breath and tried to control how much her body was shaking. She rested her head in the crook of her neck, just trying to hold on to the one piece of stable ground she had in her life right now. "I don't want to lose you." She took a deep, shaky breath and quickly wiped away the few tears trying to escape down her cheeks. She shook her head as tightened her arms around him.

"I'm not going anywhere." She moved to look him in the eyes with a smirk. "Besides, I have a new story to start." She chuckled softly before he started to explain why she couldn't come over, which she didn't assume he'd say she could but, she'd be lying if she said she didn't expect it. Anytime something happened to either of them, the other stayed by their side until they were okay. And just the way he said, that he just needed one night. As if she was constantly pestering him to be her support animal. But, it's fine. He wanted one night to get the girl and she understood it. She did know how he felt for Becca and if he felt like this was his moment then he should go for it. Even if it meant leaving the girl who was like a second sister to him in the dust for the time being. However, she'd bitch about it tomorrow to Chris but, for now, she just hid it behind a coy smirk as she laid her hands on his shoulders. "No, I totally get it." She moved her hands to his jaw with an evergrowing smirk and a wink. "Go get her."

She let him turn before grabbing his arm to turn him back around to face her as she pointed a finger towards him. "And enjoy it because tomorrow we have work to do, Yang. Now go, I'll call you in the morning." She told him goodnight and watched as he left with Becca, who she gave a small and kind of awkward wave before they disappeared out of sight when she sat back down. She ran her fingers through her hair as she took yet another deep breath. "Fuck." She placed her elbows on her knees as she rubbed her face and tried to think about what to do now. She could call her fiancee, tell him everything that happened but, she didn't need him worrying and she definitely didn't need him thinking he had to fly in just to be by her side through this. She was fine, everything was fine, everything was just... complicated right now. And then, the snowballing continued as those tiny little voices started to tell her everything that was going to go wrong; she'd lose her job, her friends, she'd fall out of her family's good graces, she'd go to jail, any possible worst-case scenario was going through her head and she had no one to help her stop it.

That was until Nate Miller, of a people, came up and put his hand on her shoulder. "Hey," She looked at him with a smile. "Hey." As he inquired where she was staying, she shrugged. "Probably my hotel room, I don't really have anywhere else to go." She let out a small joyless chuckle. Unbelievable, the friend she hadn't seen in a while was the one worrying about her. But, she appreciated it even if it was unexpected. "I know you don’t need my help, but it would make me feel better, you know.” She scoffed as she looked offended, in a joking way. "No fair."

She jokingly swatted his hand away as she got up and pointed a finger in his chest. "I'm supposed to worry about you but, yea, I get it and I... kind of really appreciate it." She tightened her coat before letting her eyes linger on the floor before looking back at Nate. "Besides, it might nice to walk it off, get fresh air, and talk about... all of this. If you don't mind." Plus it'd keep the negative thoughts at bay even if it was just for a little bit until she was able to get home and take whatever she needed to get to work. She put her hands in her pocket as she started her way towards the exit with Nate in tow.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Alexander Yang Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan

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Rebecca Cruze
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outfit : herex|xhex: #D02090
xxxYoung hearts, out our minds
xxxRunnin' 'til we outta time
xxxWild child's, lookin' good
xxxLiving hard just like we should

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Rebecca stuck the paper from Erin into her bra and gave a slight wave to Khepri as Lex led the two of them outside to her surprise an actual limousine. “Wow.” Rebecca said under her breathe as she climbed in, Lex following her. She finally took him up on his offer of the whiskey and poured herself a half glass full and quickly drinking in an attempt to calm herself down. “I don’t know…” she muttered looking out the vehicles windows as they drove down the roads to wherever Alexander’s place was. “Just, be here for me, I guess.” Becca said forcing a smile out to Lex.

It wasn’t long until the limousine stopped in front of what seemed like a luxury apartment building. Becca was a little impressed by how the lobby looked and stayed close to Lex as they walked in and into the elevator, holding onto Lex’s arm as he swiped a card in the elevator and clicked on the top floor. The penthouse. When the elevator’s opened Rebecca as shocked by how nice the place was. She slowly stepped in and let go of her purse as it fell on the ground, she looked around surprised by the whole place. [color=#D0209]0“Wow… I never knew you lived like this… like I knew you had money and such but wow.”[/color] She said as she walked around more and admired the place, just about turning/spinning as she walked to get a look at everything.

The apartment was huge compared to Rebecca’s place back in London. The luxurious kitchen that had its own island and bar, the stunning glass window wall that led out to a terrace with a pool and hot tub, also what looked like access to Lex’s own gym. As Becca reached the center of the room she assumed that upstairs was all the living arrangements, though not sure exactly how many bedrooms he had. She turned around when Lex spoke about money not being an issue and quickly walked over to him seeing his open gesture to take her coat. She let him take it off of her, and turned around back to face him.

“Lex, do you have anything more comfortable for me to wear? Kind of want to get out of this dress. I’m going to wash my face, I probably look terrible with crying with this make up on.” Rebecca asked and then walked into the bathroom to wash her face as Lex said he could find something and headed upstairs. By the time she was done washing her face Lex was back down stairs and the two met by the kitchen island, and he and handed her a dress shirt. Since he was taller than her it would work for now around his apartment.Rebecca thanked him and started taking off her jewelry and heels, placing them on one of the bar seats. “Hope you don’t mind.” She said as she took off her dress in the open. This revealed her numerous tattoos that she has gotten over the years, as well as her matching black underwear.

Rebecca took a seat at the bar and started buttoning up the shirt before looking over at Lex. “Do you think any of our friends would’ve done this?” She asked as she watched him get some drinks out of the cupboard and start mixing. He quickly handed her a familiar looking drink, as she took a sip she knew he had attempted to make her favorite drink, not as perfected as Erin’s, but she was a bartender and it still tasted good. She listened as Lex explained his thoughts, the last part peaking her interest. “First off, this tastes great, didn’t know you knew what I liked And what you mean? You’re going to try to find out who did it?” She asked, quickly downing her drink and putting her elbows on the counter and staring at Lex as he talked.

Rebecca took his hand as he looked into her eyes. “Well… I wanna help. Not sure how, but I want to.” Rebecca said nodding to Lex, she took a glance at the clock he had on the wall. [color=#D02090]“I think we should head to bed. I’m assuming upstairs?” She said as she stood up and quickly started heading up the stairs. She tripped on the second step, partly to her not paying attention and a little bit due to her tipsiness over the night. Lex helped her up. “I’m fine, just hit my knee. And Lex… do you mind if I sleep with you? Don’t really want to be alone…” she asked softly as they walked up the stairs.

As they got settled into bed Rebecca took off her bra from under the buttoned shirt and turned ti face. “Thank you, really missed you over the years. Glad to see you’re successful with everything.” Rebecca leaned in and gave him a kiss, holding for a couple seconds before laying down. She subconsciously snuggled close to Lex and quickly fell asleep. Rebecca actually felt safe.


Rebecca slowly woke up and found the paper Erin handed her and sent a message along with a picture of herself sitting on the edge of the bed to show that she was alive and okay. She then got up to find Lex, just following the smell of breakfast. When’s she reached the staircase she looked down and saw him. Shirtless, making food. Becca stared for a second before finally saying something. “You know, cooking shirtless is dangerous.” She headed down stairs looking at the island and all the variety of food Lex had set our. “Wow, this is amazing. Feel like a princess to wake up to all of this.” She quickly made a plate with a little bit of everything that Lex has made and started to eat.

While Lex continued to cook Rebecca noticed his phone buzz and out of curiosity noticed some talk about murder and crime, but not much from trying to read the small print upside down. “Lex.. what’s this about?” She asked pointing at his phone. She listened to his explanation. “Well? What do you know? Who did it?” Rebecca asked. She put on a pouty face with sticking out her bottom lip when Lex told her he couldn’t tell her. Either he didn’t want to or didn’t know, still both wouldn’t matter.

After finishing the meal that Lex has prepared for her Rebecca saw the time on the largeanalog clock Lex had up on the wall. “I have to head back to the hotel, need to gather some things and let my work know what’s going on.” Rebecca said as she slid her phone to Lex. [color=#D02090“Incase I want to message you…” she said with a smile as she got up and gathered her things and changed back into her dress. “Thanks again Lex, I’ll probably be back.” Becca said kissing him on the cheek before leaving.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Arisa Winston Character Portrait: Alexander Yang

0.00 INK

0000S O R E N 0 B O W E R S 00000000000000000|00000000000000000000| E R I N 0 M O N A G H A N
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hexcode
#4d5676 0 | 0 #800000

outfit
soren 0 | 0 erin







As soon as the cop agreed to let Soren go, he went straight back over to Erin, still feeling as though he caught in a nightmare, making everything feel surreal and warped. He hated it. He knew he had a conversation with the rest of the band, but he couldn’t remember what he said the minute it left his lips. They left, and Soren found himself just sticking to Erin. He didn’t realise he was biting his nails until he’d bitten one of them so far down that he drew blood. But eventually, they left. He hoped the cold air might help snap him out of it. But instead, it just made it a little less horrible, but no less dreamlike. The smell of cigarette smoke made him look at Erin, but not to judge. He was almost tempted to ask for one. But the one small part of his brain that still remained functional reminded him that cigarettes were bad for his voice. It was almost enough to make him laugh. Everything was going to hell, and he was worried about his voice.

”I want to get really fucking drunk,” he mumbled in response to Erin’s question about what he wanted to do. ”I want to go back to yours and drink until I can’t remember… anything,” He wanted to feel numb, but not like he did now. He wanted to feel that hazy, stupid, free type of numb that he only felt when he was insanely drunk. And he needed to be somewhere that felt like home. And Erin’s was the only place he could think of that felt anywhere close to what he needed.

The crisp night city air helped relieve some of the stress she had been feeling prior, mixed with the chemicals that she was forcing into her lungs. Funny though, walking in the fresh night air while polluting her lungs with the toxic substance she relied so heavily on. She knew she should quit, but bad habits died hard and this was one of the few things she couldn’t let go. A golden amber glow flickered from her lips as she took another inhale and then coughed as Soren began to speak. She could tell by the look on his face before he even spoke, that for even a moment he considered asking her for one of her cigarettes. A smirk formed on Erin’s face as she held the small and burning object in her fingertips, “Trust me, pretty boy. This will kill you faster than the alcohol will. Best to not get hooked on this…shit.” she said solemnly as she took one last and final drag, feeling the smoke fill her lungs and throat for a few short seconds before she exhaled once more and crushed the cigarette butt under her boot as she pressed it into the concrete below. Erin smirked slightly as he said he wanted to go back to her place and just forget everything. Drink until they could forget, and hope that this was all some sort of dream.

A small chuckle exited her lips as she looked at him, wrapping her arm around his shoulder, “Trust me, we’re gonna get super fucked up. I have all of the drinks you could want. Besides, with it being just us two, means there’s even more.” she said with a small smile. She gave one more look behind them at the apartment complex, seeing Lex and Rebecca get into one of his cars and leave. Her eyes narrowed for a moment before shaking her head, “I don’t have a good feeling about those two being alone together...But what do I know? I only make terrible choices.” she started to say before her voice softened for a moment, “But what do I know? They can do whatever the fuck they want...Even if I don’t like it..” she muttered under her breath, partially loud enough for Soren to hear, but not enough for her to really care. It was obvious enough that she always had strong feelings for her friends, Soren knew first hand. Especially after something bad happened. The two simply continued walking down those streets as time seemed to linger on forever, much longer and daunting than it had prior. Any and all positive emotions had been sucked out from them, and the only real remedy they would have was from their old and trusty friend, alcohol. And plenty of it. Finally, after some time they arrived to a large, old stone apartment complex building. Erin ushered him along as they opened the metal barred gate which closed with a metallic thud and then lock as they closed it behind them. After having to walk up the first four flights of stairs, they arrived to the floor where her apartment was, being three doors down on the right side of the complex. Erin dug through her leather jacket’s pocket for a moment as she fished for her keys, “Sorry if this isn’t what you’re used to. But with this being Brooklyn, well...It’s more...Rustic? You remember, right?” she questioned as she opened the door and waited for Soren to enter the apartment behind her, and closed the door, making sure to lock it. “After all of this time...I never left Brooklyn. With the bar being so close to my childhood home as well as being in a part of the city I was familiar with, leaving would feel wrong, for me anyway.” she said casually as they made their way down the hallway. A large spiral staircase was at the end of the hallway which would lead to the spare room as well as the bathroom to the right, and to the left would be another way of getting to her room, which she decided would be in the small loft of the apartment that overlooked the living room. It was a rather large apartment, by no means was it a flat or penthouse, but it was large enough, especially for one or more people. Erin had preferred to live in a big enough space, just in the off chance if her friends ever needed a place to stay for a while, as well as being able to afford it due to her ties with her aunt and uncle. She shook her head as she walked into the kitchen that was in the adjacent room to the right, with the living room on the left end of the apartment and hallway.

Make yourself at home while I get everything set up. You know where everything is by now.” her voice called from within the kitchen, which too was spacious and rather rustic like the rest of the apartment. A large spacious room, with an old and cozy look due to the interior, which were old stone covering the walls with hardwood floors and small rugs of beige and light browns and grays. Erin retrieved a few glasses from the kitchen, as she held a few bottles in her arms, as well as a food bags of chips between her teeth as she shuffled from the kitchen and into the living room. Placing the cups and drinks and food on the coffee table that was next to the couch. “Before we get entirely too wasted, I’m gonna get changed out from this and get into something more comfortable. I’ll make sure to grab you something as well and you can get out of that outfit. You always were one for that extra look.” Erin said with a small smile as she left the room by the staircase in the living room and disappeared from view as she went into the loft for a few short minutes. She came back dressed in a plain black t-shirt and gray sweatpants, tossing Soren his own t-shirt and sweatpants. For him, she grabbed him one of her old band graphic t’s and black sweatpants. It was a wild guess that they would comfortably fit, but they’d be better than nothing. Erin sat down on the couch with one of her feet tucked under her body as she pulled out a small bag and some paper, placing them down on the coffee table as she prepared the drinks, “I don’t know about you, but I plan on more than just drinking. You can join me if you want, but it’s entirely up to you. No pressure to smoke, as always.” she said casually as she began to pour some of his and her favorite drinks. She knew how hammered he’d want to be, and she would make sure he got what he wanted, even if he would regret it the next day. She handed him a small shot glass, as she grabbed her own and held it in the air, “To all of our bad decisions. Both past and future ones. Also...I missed you, Sor...It’s good to see you again.” she said with a small smile as gave him a small side hug, placing her head against his for a moment before she gave him one more salute with the small glass and took their first shot of the night. The first of many for the two.

He didn’t much like the look of Lex and Becca leaving together either. But he didn’t comment on it, Erin seeing troubled enough by it. Rebecca was a big girl, he was sure she could handle herself. The walk back to Erin’s apartment was silent, neither of them feeling much like talking. He managed a smirk and a chuckle as Erin apologised for her apartment not being what he was used to. “Erin, I’m just back off tour, what I’m used to right now is a tiny ass van that we took shifts in driving. Maybe a not-so-terrible motel room if we’re really splashing out,” he remarked. It had been a while since he’d been back to her apartment. In fact, it was probably only the second time he’d been here, and most of his memories of the first time was Erin yelling at him over the pounding headache of a hangover after the last time he’d been in New York. After he’d slept with Lauren again.

Lauren.

Even just thinking about her felt like a kick to the chest. How could this be happening? How? How could it have happened, just like that?

Erin reappeared with drinks and snacks, dumping them on the small coffee table before saying something about getting changed and getting something for him to wear. He’d almost forgotten what he was wearing. He was perfectly comfortable as he was, but he still appreciated the change of clothes. Maybe then things would feel a little more real. Or at least, like it had all just been a terrible dream and things were like old times.

He stepped into the bathroom briefly to change after Erin tossed the clothes to him. The sweatpants were a little short, but the t-shirt was at least a good fit. He sat cross-legged on her couch as she poured them drinks. She could still remember what he liked, even after all this time.

He shrugged as she said she was going to smoke. “Nah, think I’m good, but thanks.” He managed a smile as she leaned against him after her toast, giving him a small hug. “It’s good to see you again. Wish it was under different circumstances, though,” he said, before clearing his throat. “To the worst decisions we can make.” He downed the shot, the burn in his throat welcome.

He lost track of time and shots and drinks. His head was a swirling, tilting mess, and he loved it. Everything seemed a little less terrible. Everything seemed a little more fun.

“I missed everybody, you know,” he slurred, swirling another drink in his glass. “You and Rebecca and Nate and Kyle and… well, not Alexander. Fuck him. But everyone else. I love you guys,” he said, half leaning, half falling on top of Erin and wrapping her in a hug.

The two of them had become an absolute mess of alcohol and drugs, well, Erin became the mess of the two as Soren simply stayed to the drinks. Her vision was somewhat blurry and her mind was a slush of thoughts, albeit they were somewhat blurring together. She decided to finally lay off of the smoking halfway through as she could feel the alcohol canceling out the high. What was the point if she couldn’t exactly enjoy it. By the time that Soren had spoken up once more, they had both done nothing but drink one after the other. Would they regret it in the morning? Yes, but was it worth as an attempt to forget the reality of their situation? In the moment, yes. And that was all that they cared about. Just escape reality for even just a moment, a moment of hoping this was all some sick joke.

Erin was alone in her own drunken thoughts when Soren spoke up once more, his words slurred together but not to the point of where she couldn’t understand him. At least not yet. She had years of practice, and was always one of the few people that could understand his drunk ramblings. She looked up at him when he began saying that he missed everyone, except for Alex. All she really could do was limply nod her head in agreement at his statement. That was until he leaned over and gave her a hug, which caused her to almost fall over and off of the couch, causing her to catch herself somehow and push themselves back up. All the while laughing. No matter how long they went without talking, Erin always had Soren’s back, and he had her’s. They had been childhood friends the longest in the group, and nothing would change that. “I missed you too, Soren. Hell, I missed everyone…” she retorted, her words slurred slightly, but she wasn’t entirely drunk as Soren, not yet anyway. “After everything happened, and everyone kind of just...left...First Kyle, then you...and then some of the others, it was...lonely. Sure I had Nate and Lauren, but like. We didn’t really talk that much until after a while. And you know the rest.” she said as she took another shot, the burn never really faded or became less intense, it was just that she had grown accustomed to it. Pouring herself and Soren another drink, clearing her throat as she handed a glass to Soren, she began talking once more. “As for everyone that left, I had some contact, like you. And even Khepri, but that’s...That’s different. But until today, I hadn’t talked to Rebecca since she left that day and well...Kyle...I still don’t know where he is or what he’s even doing. Doubt I ever will.” she said rather solemnly, giving herself a moment before she took the next shot and put the empty glass on the table, “You wanna make some super stupid decisions, Sor?” she asked as she slowly stood up, her legs wobbling for a moment as she regained her composure enough to see straight.

This was what he had missed the most about New York. Him and Erin getting stupidly drink and talking the real talk. Even if the conversation veered into the depressing, they were still at least talking. And things felt strange, felt dreamlike, but in the alcohol clouded way that felt good. So when Erin asked if he wanted to make some stupid decisions, he just grinned. “Abso-fucking-lutely,” he said, getting to his feet. He, however, did not regain his composure as well as Erin and stumbled, having to grab her to regain his balance. This was enough to make him crack up all over again. “What should we do? What’s the dumbest decision we could possibly make right now?” He asked. “Nope. Not the dumbest. Don’t let me text Pri.” He corrected himself.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Alexander Yang

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ALEXANDER YANG
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Ethical Hacker | Outfit | Hex: #4E3475
There is only one way to avoid criticism:
do nothing, say nothing, be nothing...

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While Rebecca and Alexander were driven to his place he received a number of messages from his secretary concerning their investigation. He would look down at his phone every so often to see the first few lines of the messages but nothing really caught his eye, it looked like he would need to expend some of his own effort to find out more about what happened. However the investigation wasn't his biggest concern at the moment, what mattered more to him now was being here and providing all he could for Becca.

A number of people would wonder why he cared so much about her. Their personalities differed so much and it didn't seem like they have similar interests but they were still good friends despite their differences. The one person who had supported and defended Lex when he had first moved to America was Becca and she was the first person to accept him into the group. These few instances cemented an important feeling towards her in Lex's heart, feelings that eventually became romantic. Feelings which he would fail to express towards her before she moved, something which Lex has regretted to this day. This was his first chance in a long time to rekindle their friendship and he hoped maybe develop into something more.

When Becca had said that all she wanted from Lex was to be here for her, he couldn't help but smile. The drive didn't last too long before they had reached Lex's place, the residential building for Monarch Security Ltd employees and families, which was located next to the companies main office. The two of them exited the limousine and walked into the main lobby of the residential building, Lex waving towards the receptionist and security officer sitting at the main desk, before entering an elevator. With their arms linked Lex took out a residency card from his coat pocket with his free hand, swiping it across a mechanism to confirm his identity before pressing the button for the highest floor, the penthouse suite.

As the elevator doors opened and revealed the grand and expensive lifestyle Lex was accustomed to Becca's eyes were filled with surprise as her bag hit the floor. This resulted in a small chuckle leaving Lex's mouth, he found her reaction extremely cute. When she expressed her thoughts on Lex's lifestyle and her lack of knowledge about it, Lex couldn't help but feel slightly sad. He didn't take much pride in material things, unlike his parents who had first acquired this suite, and he didn't want to influence other's opinions towards him by throwing his wealth around. Becca at this moment was an exception, he wanted to show her that he was fully capable of taking care of her and her needs during this hard time, that she didn't need to seek help from anyone else.

Watching her twirl around as she walked further into his apartment made Lex happy, this was the Becca he wanted to see not the girl who had a hard time walking because of the tragic loss of her friend. While Becca was admiring the place Lex removed his coat, walking towards the walk-in closet. Turning around he said, "To me and my family... Money was never really an issue. We had other ones though... Don't be too shocked just yet, we just walked in. There is a lot more to this place." He opened the door for the closet, placing his coat inside before offering to take Becca's coat. She quickly walked towards Lex offering him to remove her coat for her. With a gentle hand Lex slowly removed her coat, making sure he didn't make any errors in his movements, cherishing the moment before he fully removed it and placed it on a hanger in the walk-in closet.

Becca turned around and asked Lex for something to wear and of her intention to wash her face because of the state of her makeup, saying that she must look terrible because she was crying earlier. Lex tilted his head in confusion and blankly stated, "There isn't any possible way you could ever look terrible Becca. I refuse to believe it." He laughed a little after saying it, knowing it must have sounded somewhat cheesy. "I should be able to find something for you to wear but... I don't believe I have any clothes of the female variety available."

After saying this he walked upstairs towards his room and opened his wardrobe, removing a white silk/cotton blend shirt and returning downstairs with it in hand. He saw Becca exiting the downstairs powder room and walk towards the bar in the kitchen. Following her they met in the kitchen where Lex gave her his dress shirt, saying, "I'm assuming this would work just fine?" Judging by how fast Becca was to undress Lex's assumption was correct. He couldn't help but stare as he saw Becca undress, revealing her beautiful body and the numerous tattoos she had on it.

Noticeably aroused and flustered Lex began to busy himself by preparing a cocktail for Becca behind the bar, a bar he was glad he had at this moment. While opening various cupboards to prepare the drink, Becca had finished buttoning the dress shirt, Lex heard her question about whether any of their friends were involved in Lauren's sudden departure. He placed the finished drink in front of Becca before quietly contemplating her question, fixing himself a glass of whiskey. After taking a sip he said, "It's possible. Definitely possible." He continued to sip while he thought more about the question. "Whether or not any of us did I'm determined to get to the bottom of it."

After answering her question Lex looked towards Becca, whiskey in hand, noticing the subtle expression of intrigue in her eyes. When she complimented his drink he smile towards her, Lex knew he wasn't as good as Erin when it came to crafting drinks but he payed enough attention to this particular drink while at her bar to reconstruct it for Becca. After asking if he was going to find out who did it Lex replied saying, "Yes. Someone is behind all this and I plan on finding out who... It's the least I could do for... " He looked directly into Becca's eyes, with a sad and troubled expression, before he continued, "... All of us."

Becca had taken Lex's hand in hers, revealing that she wanted to help him in his investigation in anyway she could. He already had a number of people working together with him in this investigation, Pri included, but he knew how much Lauren meant to Becca so he couldn't refuse her. "Of course... We all should do our best for Lauren. The fact that you're willing to act is enough... your willingness will lead you to what you need to do, if not... I'm always here."

Looking at the an analogue clock hanging nearby Becca suggested going to bed. Lex nodded his head when she asked if the bedrooms were upstairs, placing their finished drinks by the sink before following Becca towards the stairs. Her balance was wavering when she began to walk upstairs, loosing her footing on the second step. Before she could fall Lex had already wrapped his arm around her shoulder, steadying her by holding her close. He didn't believe her when Becca said that she was fine but what she said next stopped Lex's thoughts in their tracks. "... Lex… do you mind if I sleep with you? Don’t really want to be alone…”"

Lex wasn't a stranger to having others share his bed with him, he has several casual relationships, but Becca meant more to him. He knew that she wasn't in the best way at the moment and he didn't want to take advantage of her because of that. Lex was planning to refuse her before he heard her say that she didn't want to be alone, he couldn't after she said that. They continued slowly walking until they finally reached Lex's room. He opened the door and lead Becca towards the bed, sitting down next to each other and making themselves as comfortable as they could. Becca removing her bra from underneath the dress shirt she was wearing and Lex completely removing the dress shirt he was wearing.

"Thank you, really missed you over the years. Glad to see you’re successful with everything." After saying this Becca and Lex exchanged a kiss, one which lasted for several seconds. Lex leaned into the kiss as he wrapped his arm around her shoulder, laying down on the bed. When Becca became to snuggle closer to Lex he began to softly stroke her hair with his free hand. Once he was sure Becca had fallen asleep he gently caressed her face, a wistful look revealed on his face as he said, "... I wasn't successful with everything."

Hours passed before Lex was woken up by a number of messages from Tina. Lex gently raised Becca's head and removed his arm which was supporting her, laying her back down before going downstairs to address the messages received. Nothing really notable had changed but they had listed all the party-goers that had been questioned by the police officers. He messaged Tina to attempt to get the statements that were made but to not do anything that may alert anyone's attention. After sending that message Lex began to prepare breakfast for Becca, having all the necessary items gathered by the kitchen staff downstairs that he didn't have in his apartment, as well as gathering her clothes to have them cleaned.

About an hour or more passed before Becca had woken up, she stood at the top of the staircase looking at Lex who was now cooking pancakes, after prepping fruits and condiments for them. When she noted how Lex was currently shirtless while cooking he looked down and then shrugged towards her. He had apparently forgotten to put one on after waking up since his mind was occupied with other thoughts, his full back intricate snake tattoo revealed to Becca.

Now sitting across from Lex, who was still cooking, Becca noted how she felt like she was being treated as a princess. "Mornings can continue to be like this if you choose to stay here. As I said yesterday I doubt any of us will be able to leave the country anytime soon... My place will always be open to you Becca." Seeing her happily eating, Lex couldn't help but smile, finishing the last of the pancake batter he had made.

Suddenly Lex's phone began to vibrate, another message about the investigation popping on it. Becca had noticed the message and had asked Lex, "Lex.. what’s this about?" Without missing a beat he answered her by saying, "I had some people gather what information they could about what happened last night." Becca then continued asking questions, asking, "Well? What do you know? Who did it?"

He finished cooking the remaining pancakes in his pan, the silence between the two growing as he did, before turning around to answer her. "Not much so far, I'm still trying to piece things together... It did just happen yesterday." Walking over Lex placed down the finished pancakes in front of Becca, saying, "As for who did it... I can't answer that... Not yet anyway."

After answering her Lex sat next to Becca and began to eat with her until they were finished. Becca noted that she would need some time to sort things out with her work and with the hotel she had a room with. An understanding look appeared on Lex's face as he nodded towards her, knowing that the two of them both had things they needed to sort out. When Becca had slid her phone towards Lex he entered his information into her contacts. Becca then began to gather her things and change back into her dress, which had just earlier been returned by the residential building's housekeepers.

"Thanks again Lex, I’ll probably be back." Lex smiled when Becca pecked him on the cheek before leaving, still smiling until he saw the elevator doors close and Becca had truly left his apartment. Once he was sure she had left Lex began to call his secretary, saying in Cantonese, "Have someone follow Miss Cruze, she just left my apartment... Just ensure that she is safe." Ending the call, after receiving an affirmation from Tina, Lex walked towards his study to read all the documents his employees had gathered. "Lets see how competent my people are..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Arisa Winston Character Portrait: Alexander Yang Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan

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SOREN BOWERS
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outfit : herex|xhex: #575772
xxxremember the words you told me
xxxlove me till the day i die
xxxsurrender my everything cause
xxxyou made me believe you're mine

Soren couldn’t remember most of what he and Erin got up to that night. In fact, the couldn’t remember much after the shot, and had no memory of their conversation about missing each other. But given the state they woke up in, and the stinging of a new tattoo on his right wrist told him that he wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to remember.

He couldn’t quite remember what came first- the text about the memorial service or the police interview. Everything felt like a dream; except for the moments when everything suddenly felt like it was going to crush him, like he was drowning in the air around him. He’d been going to Erin’s when he couldn’t bear to be alone or when he needed to drown his sorrows, but she didn’t know about the panic attacks. They only came when he was alone. And besides, she was finding it hard too. She didn’t need him to worry about too. But both of those incidents had brought on an attack, one that had left him sobbing alone in his apartment. He’d agreed to attend the memorial service. And when Lauren’s parents had asked him to read one of her favourite poems, he didn’t have it in him to say no. As far as they knew, they’d broken up on relatively okay terms, and he wasn’t going to break it to them now.

The police interview had gone about as well as could be expected. He’d been honest, but they didn’t seem too convinced. But they didn’t have anything concrete, so they’d just warned him to stick around in case they needed to ask any more questions. The band didn’t have any commitments for a few weeks because they needed a break after their Europe tour. He was assured he had management on his side, but he wondered how long that would last.

He’d arrived to the hotel early to help Lauren’s parents get set up. It was Lauren’s favourite hotel in NYC, and they had some drinks and canapés out for people to graze on as they arrived. He’d had to escape to the bathroom for a breather twice already, and he’d only been here forty minutes. He’d spent the past ten minutes avoiding conversation and trying to steel himself for small talk. The reminder on his wrist wasn’t doing all that much to help. He had a vague memory of just yelling “I want an MCR tattoo” at Erin when he really dwelt on it, which explained the three short words. “We’ll Carry On.” It felt oddly poignant, all things considered. He tugged at his sleeve, his new nervous habit since he couldn’t bite his nails any more, because it was painful to do so and he kept drawing blood. He couldn’t ignore the guests anymore. He picked up a glass of something and took a deep breath.

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0000Erin0Monahan 00000000000000000|00000000000000000000|Rebecca0 Cruze

outfit : herex|xhex: #80000 000000000000000000000000000000000000000000outfit : herexxhex: #D02090

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The next few days that passed by, passed by slowly. Whether it was due to the immense amount of alcohol that was consumed in the following days due to Soren still having stayed at her apartment between him leaving for his own place or staying at her's for a night, or due to the fact that she hadn't returned to work since the murder. In the end, the case was the same. Erin had spent most of her time in her apartment, locked away from the outside world unless she had to go out. Which was the case for a few times as she had to go into the bar to settle some minor issues, and back to the apartment she would go. She didn't want to accept the fact of the reality, and that in a few days they would be holding a memorial service for their friend, who was indeed dead. It just didn't feel realistic. Not to Erin. Everything felt like a dream as if she was in some hazy state of mind and everything was just slightly out of reach. Whether that was from the fact she rarely got out of her place or that she was constantly drinking, she didn't know the answer. And she didn't care to find out. Lauren, one of her closest childhood friends was now gone. The morning after the incident, she had been so hungover that she simply checked her phone and as she went to text Lauren what happened last night, reality hit her like a ton of bricks. The weight and reality of it all hit her. Even if she did text that number to see what happened, she wouldn't have gotten a reply. All she did was look at the screen and see what the last message was, and it made her sick. She had been so busy with getting ready that she never responded to the message from Lauren that would end up being her last. It was a short and simple message, just thanking her for taking up her offer for the gig and that she was excited to have some old friends back and that she was looking forward to this and that she was sorry for everything. Erin had been so damn busy, she never replied to it, and she barely talked to Lauren at the party after she was shown around. Sure, she made some small talk and exchanged some looks between them, but she never made any real conversation with her. Which, turned out to be something she regretted. Something she would regret for the rest of her life.

The days that lead up to where she was going now were all a blur in reality. Whether it was from her lack of sleep due to not taking her medication which led to constant nightmares. Often which had woken Soren up when he stayed at her place, constantly apologizing for waking him up in the night. But having someone there helped calm her nerves naturally, but it didn't help lessen the nightmares that came when she closed her eyes. The nightmares were always the same. A replay of that night, and how she could have done things differently. What if she did take a moment from her work and talked to Lauren? What if she stepped in and stopped the argument between Soren and Lauren? What if she made just the slightest bit of effort to make things work between them? All she ever did was have those damned 'what if' moments, and now they were only more prominent. She knew she shouldn't have blamed herself for what happened, as it wasn't her fault, or least that's what she kept telling herself. She wanted to believe her friends, and she wanted to believe that they were all innocent and that none of them had done it. But if that was the case, who did? Who did it and why? Not only that night, but why Lauren? Sure, Lauren was no saint, Erin knew that first hand as did everyone else. She could be manipulative and controlling, but in the end, she was just a person with flaws. They all had flaws, and if any of them tried saying they were a saint, they were only bullshitting themselves. None of them were exactly the best of people, no matter how hard they tried, and that's what made her hope in them dip slightly. She wanted to believe that her friends and herself were innocent of this, but until future evidence came up proving them all innocent, Erin kept her guard up.

She had already been betrayed by the friends she made with one of her past jobs as well as living situation, and she wasn't going to make that same mistake again. Even if it was with people she had known for years. But she knew there were some people that couldn't have-no-wouldn't have done it. Nathan and Rebecca couldn't have, right? Sure, they had their issues with Lauren, but who didn't? That was enough of a thought to make her sick and she hated it. This whole situation was fucked up and she wished it was all some sort of joke by Lauren to get the group back together and back with Soren. But even Lauren wasn't that messed up.

The morning immediately after the incident happened, Erin had woken up after a blurry dream of a night out with Soren. All she could remember is that they had gone out while incredibly drunk, and probably did something stupid as her head was pounding from the immense intake of alcohol. The amount those two could consume was almost inhuman, especially to the degree that they usually went. Everything was so bright and loud as she looked around her usually empty room, but there was someone not only in her bed, but was partially on top of her. Her eyes widened at first as she froze in place until she looked down and saw that it was Soren, who was sleeping and snoring peacefully. Erin's eyes only widened more as her mind raced to try to think of what happened the night before...they didn't...did they? No, that was not only silly but impossible. Right? It was only then that she realized they were still fully clothed, and memories that were partially clouded came back to her. They came back after a night out of drunken shenanigans and after even more drinks they shambled their way up into the loft and they crashed on the bed. After shooting the shit and simply cracking jokes between the two of them, mixed with endless laughter and falling overdue their imbalance, which had only caused them to laugh even more. With the mix of the alcohol, the laughing, and vertigo that they were feeling, they ended up throwing up a few more times. First Erin had accidentally thrown up in Soren's lap, which caused them both to laugh even more, and he barely missed throwing up onto Erin by a few inches. They were in an utter mess, but they didn't care. The alcohol and laughter helped blur the pain they were really feeling, and that's all that they cared about. And everything after that was pure bliss, and almost like those good old days before all of the shit happened.

Erin had laid in her bed for a few minutes longer as her hangover began to wane when her phone went off, alerting her to search for it and found it under her pillow. She groaned as she unlocked it and looked to see who messaged her, it was Rebecca. She smiled groggily as she shifted through the messages. A smile was brought to her face at first as she saw it was simply Becca saying that she was doing well, and a small way of saying good morning along with a picture. At first she smiled with that stupid grin that she always had whenever she saw a picture of her, but when she looked at it closer her brows furrowed. She noticed that she was in a bed that was somewhat familiar and that she was in a shirt that she clearly wasn't wearing the night prior. She's lucky she's cute..., she thought to herself as she tossed her phone to the side after giving a small reply text. After taking a trip into the bathroom, she began to finally notice an all too familiar burning sensation. By this time it was a feeling that she had grown all too accustomed to and at this point, it felt more like a tingle or slight itch. She pulled her shirt and sweatpants to the side to see what had happened that night, and much to her surprise, or lack thereof, was a new tattoo. This time it was by her right pelvic bone, just short of dipping lower. It was of a small, golden and somewhat metallic-looking shape due to the color choice. It was in the shape and size of a normal guitar pick, but it was as if someone took a guitar pick and converted it into looking like an owl. Erin simply sighed as she shook her head muttering to herself, "You are such an idiot..." she gave one more glance at the tattoo before she decided to go back and help Soren with his hangover as the two carried on with their day as well as they could.

Over the week since the murder Rebecca had calmed down and had drinks with some of the others at some of the other bars, catching up on what was going on in life and local news. Though she wasn’t happy when the police came and told her she couldn’t leave the country until the murder case was solved, or at least after some other time of everything happening and would be easier to talk to her. She talked a little bit with Lex as well, just asking and exchanging information about the murder, she was surprised that he was looking so deep into the case. Also, Erin had made it a point to text Becca daily to check up on her, and try to bridge the gap that had formed over their lack of contact through the years. But every time they tried to meet up something else would come up, mostly Becca’s.

It was now the day of Lauren’s memorial service and Rebecca had gotten ready at her hotel, still had some stuff there even though she stayed a couple of nights with Lex. Rebecca felt like she would be late and decided to take some shortcuts through some alleyways that she remembered from when she used to live in the city. What was about to happen, was something she wasn’t expecting. Rebecca sent a message to Erin as she ran, staying on the busy and main streets. Please tell me you are there. Please. She stuffed her phone into her bag as she continued running. Her phone dinged but she ignored it as she tried to stay calm. Becca rounded the corner and pushed her way into the hotel lobby and ran into the hall they were holding the service. Rebecca stopped and looked around the room. Her knees were scratched up, hair was a little messier than she planned and redness around her neck with a little bit of bruising, her scarf in her hand. She wasn’t sure what or who she was looking for, but when she spotted Erin, she just ran to her and wrapped her arms around her. Rebecca wasn’t saying much, but she was visibly shaking. And no doubt that her heart was racing to the point that it could probably be felt through her body.

Erin was getting ready for a day she not only never wanted to have to anticipate but not this soon. Not this soon and early in life. She had gotten dressed in one of her go-to outfits for situations like this, it was simple but fancy enough and wasn't out of her sense of style. A simple layered outfit, with dark navy undertones and jet-black overlays. She also ended up styling her hair compared to leaving it down. It was a simple but pretty enough look, all she did was tie her hair up in a somewhat messy but controlled ponytail. One of her traits that weren't surprising for anyone that knew her, was that she had a habit of dyeing her hair. And considering there was no other perfect time for dyeing her hair than the death of a friend mixed with being overly drunk, she and Soren decided to go out on the town the night of the incident and did some things they probably shouldn't have. But that was for was another time. Now Erin found herself in her small bathroom finishing up her hair and make-up. She went with a very simple look, very minor eyeliner and lipstick, and that was all she really needed. She wasn't one for fashion, or at least not what people nowadays considered fashion. She made sure to grab her phone and one of her long black overcoats and after taking one more look over the apartment she left. Soren had said something about just meeting each other at the memorial service, and she made sure she'd keep him to that.

The crisp air brushed past her face as she made her way down the streets, keeping to the busier ones as she didn't feel like taking any back alleyways or shortcuts. She could have, but she didn't want to deal with any more bullshit. She was already having to head to the funeral service of her friend, the last thing she needed was more people. Erin found herself entering the building with the address she was given and after being greeted by some people she was lead into a room. It was rather small, but there was some familiar faces already. Some of the group had already arrived, which wasn't much of a surprise as some were always early, not that she was late, but she wasn't the first to get there. After a few short moments of scanning the room, Erin's eyes landed on two individuals that stood out from the rest. They were in their mid-forties, tall, dark hair and pale skin. Erin walked up to them solemnly, hands clasped in front of her as she approached the two of them.

"I'm so sorry for your loss...I know me and Lauren lost contact for a while and I didn't get to see you two very often but, I am so sorry. If there is anything I can do, just let me know." she said with a small smile and gave them both a hug before she removed herself from them as others came to talk and say their condolences. Erin slipped to the side and stayed there as she observed the others. It was as solemn as anyone would have expected, and even then some. Her phone went off in her pocket which brought her back to earth. Slipping her phone out of her pocket she gave it a side-eye glance. Her eyebrow quirked for a moment as she read the message, it was Rebecca, asking if she was there. Erin sent a quick reply, Hey! :) And of course, I am! I'll be in the main room when you get here. Is everything okay?, she typed out and quickly stuffed her phone back into her pocket. She waited for a reply, but never got one as finally, someone else entered the room. It took her a second turn of her head to realize who it was, it was Rebecca. A small smile appeared on her face for a moment, but then it quickly disappeared as she gave Rebecca another look over. She looked like something had happened, her hair was a bit messy, more so than usual, and her outfit was a bit disheveled. But what caused her to worry the most, was the red mark along her neck and the look in her eyes. It was fear. A primal, carnal fear. Erin looked her in the eyes as Rebecca grabbed her arm, holding her rather close. Erin cleared her throat as she looked at her again and whispered softly, "Wh-what? Rebecca, what..." she started, until reality hit her of what Rebecca said. On her way here, out of all days for this to happen, Rebecca had been attacked on her way here. She didn't know by who or why, but whatever the case it happened. Erin found a small knot form in her stomach as anger slowly rose. She looked around the room, gently taking Rebecca by the waist as she escorted her out of the room after excusing them from the room.

Once they were out of the main room, Erin took Rebecca into an empty side room and sat her down as Erin crouched down in front of Rebecca as she held her hands in between her's. "Okay, start from the beginning. What happened? If you want to talk about it that is.." she asked, her voice was soft and genuine as she looked Rebecca in the eyes. Finally having a good look over her, she could she was even more hurt than she initially realized. Her knees had been scraped up, as well as were bleeding a bit. She'd have to tend to the wounds later, but what was more worrisome was the bruising around her neck that began to form. Erin wanted to do something, but she didn't know what to do. All she knew now was that Rebecca needed someone, even more than before, and Erin wasn't going to let her slip away again. She couldn't, and she wouldn't.

Rebecca kept her eyes on the ground as Erin talked to her, before finally looking up at her as she answered. "I… I was just taking a short cut from the hotel, I think maybe 5th and Booker street. I turned the corner and immediately felt my scarf get tight, someone pulling it to try to choke me. I thought…” She paused for a second as she tried to make her hands stop shaking. "Thought maybe I was being mugged but then I heard their voice say something about Lauren. I think they said something about joining her. Hard to hear as I was struggling. They were lifting me up by the scarf as I was choking and I think I must hit them in the groan while struggling because they dropped me all of the sudden, I hurt my knee but then I ran..." Rebecca squeezed Erin's hand as she retold what happened looking over her shoulder a few times during the story.

All the while Rebecca recounted her story, Erin remained silent. Listening to every word and making sure she was not only able to understand it all but could process it so she didn't have to ask Rebecca to repeat it. She gave Rebecca a solemn look like the reality of the situation hit her. She found herself gritting her teeth as her jaw clenched, and that all too familiar burn appeared behind her eyes as she could feel herself growing angrier as moments passed. After Rebecca had finished speaking and squeezed her hands, Erin looked up at her and gave a rather saddened look that reached her eyes. "I am so sorry, Rebecca. You shouldn't have been left by yourself. If you need someone to stay with, you're welcome at my place. There is more than enough room and you can have as much privacy as you want. Just, say the word and you'll have a place to stay, no time limit or anything." she said, trying her best to give a smile, even though her true emotions were still evident. But she cared and was genuine. If she needed a place to stay, she would make sure that Rebecca had someplace safe to go to if she truly needed one.

Rebecca nodded as Erin offered her place to stay. "Thanks. I've been staying with Lex some nights but went back to my hotel today to find the right outfit for this." Rebecca jumped a little when she heard a door slam, still a little on edge. "Erin, what if they are here? They had to know I was coming here." She asked, a little bit of fear coming out through her words, as she looked over her shoulder and then back at Erin again. The attacker could be anyone here. It could be any of her friends. The same friend that would've killed Lauren. The thought came through Rebecca's mind as she was looking at Erin and out of impulse jerked away from Erin, separating their hands. Thinking for a second it could have been her that attacked her.

Erin nodded as Rebecca spoke. She understood why she would be scared. Especially after everything that happened. She nodded as Rebecca spoke again about the attacker possibly having followed her here. Erin looked around and didn't see anyone out of the ordinary, but she wasn't about to poke fun at her or make her feel even more paranoid. Her mind was a mess of thoughts as thought on what to say and what to do. Anything she could say could have been taken the wrong way or could only make things worse. Erin was taken aback when Rebecca quickly took her hands away in a rather defensive and somewhat scared manner. All she could do was sigh as she looked at her in the eyes, "You know I'd never do anything to hurt you, Becca...But I understand. You're scared and you have every right to be. Just know I'm here for you, okay?" she said with a small smile as she gently placed her hand on Rebecca's knee, giving it a gentle squeeze, but not before taking her hand back. A small blush appeared on her face before shaking her head as she rose to her feet. "I'm always going to be there for you...But uh...Do you need some pain killers for the...the pain? It won't do much but, it's better than nothing." she said with a small smile to show she was being genuine.

While listening to Erin after flinching, Rebecca felt bad and loosened up. She lowered her head and felt ashamed for thinking her close friend like Erin would have wanted to hurt her. Erin had always been nice and there for her, even when she was making her drinks Erin always made sure she was taken care of. When Erin took her hand back and stood up Rebecca reached out and grabbed her hand. "I'm sorry. Of course, it wasn't you..." She was a little taken back when Erin offered some pain killers, but then reflected back the smile Erin had on her face. "Sure. My neck is a little sore... right knee hurts more than left." Becca let go with the hand she was holding onto Erin and left her palm open. When Erin put the pills into her hand she quickly took them and swallowed easy, she wasn't one who was shy to taking pills, though it had been awhile. Becca then stood up slowly and dusted off herself a little and took a few deep breaths. "Thank you Erin. I'll think about that offer." She said as she kissed Erin on the cheek. "Now I feel like we should get back to the service. We're here for Lauren."

Erin simply gave her a smile as Rebecca apologized for even implying that it was her. "It's fine, honestly. It's no big deal, I promise." she said with a small smile. Erin dug into her jacket's pocket to retrieve the bottle of painkillers that she always carried around with her. Erin found her fingertips brushing against the all too familiar small bottle of her own meds for a moment, which caused her to pause. She forgot she had brought them with her, but she didn't need them right now and she sure as all hell wasn't going to give these to someone else, nevermind Rebecca. Not like they would do much aside from making someone drowsy and sleepy. But no major side effects that would cause harm. Erin shook her head as she retrieved two medium-sized white pills from the other bottle and handed them to Rebecca. They were simply just normal pain killers, nothing prescribed for just her. She wasn't that careless. "Those should help for now. Can always get something stronger later if you need them, as well as taking care of your wounds..." she said as she helped Rebecca to her feet and walked with her back into the room with the others. "Don't worry about thinking about my offer right now. It's always there for you, whenever you're ready. Just let me know whenever you need to me, you have my number anyway." she said with a small smile and wink.

Erin found herself blushing when Rebecca had kissed her on the cheek. That was honestly the last thing she had expected but wasn't against it. She just wasn't prepared for that. She simply shook her head as she didn't want to think too much into it. It was simply a small gesture of her being thankful, that's all. At least that's what she told herself, to help calm herself down. "Nice hair by the way..." Rebecca said softly as she finally gave Erin a proper look over. Not having really noticed the change until then. Erin smirked and chuckled as she gently kept one of her arms around Rebecca's waist as they walked back into the room with the others. "Thanks, Becca." she said with a small smile.

She was there to pay respects for their friend, and now with what happened, she'd be there for more than just Lauren now. Erin helped Rebecca into one of the seats and sat down next to her and found herself gently interlacing her fingers with Rebecca's and held her hand gently, with the gentle thumb rub on the top of her hand as well. It was something that she found herself doing to calm herself and others down in the past. It was one of those things that she just did on instinct, and didn't even realize she was doing it. All that was on her mind now was being there to pay respects to Lauren and her family as the reality of it all hit her as they looked at the more than likely empty casket that was set before them all. Small tears found themselves streaking down her face. Normally she would have wiped them away, but this time she simply let them fall. She hadn't really let herself accept what had happened, but now it was better than any to face the fact. Lauren was gone, and they were all suspects in her murder case. In reality, Lauren did bring them all together one last time, but not in the way any of them probably expected, and Erin intended to figure out what happened and who did it. But now, they all sat in the large room that was eerily silent as they waited for it to properly begin as the last bit of guests arrived.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Arisa Winston Character Portrait: Alexander Yang Character Portrait: Ashleigh Myerson Character Portrait: Lauren Clark Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan

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N a t h a n Miller
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outfit - #D6CF13
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The days between the party and the funeral blurred together in Nate's mind. There was always something to do, always seemed to be someone who needed him (he would always be there for his friends, of course, all they had to do was ask), and he had- for some reason- offered to pick up the some of the slack at the bar for Erin. Once things calmed down, he would have to ask her to never let him take on any extra responsibilities again. He felt overwhelmingly stressed, and desperately wished for his life to return to some sort of normal. His police interview had gone fine, he thought, but the whole thing made him nervous. He didn't have much faith in the police: his experiences were of them not believing him, and ignoring most of what he said. He didn't care about not being able to go far: he'd never left the city, anyway.

When he got the text about the funeral, he had honestly considered blowing it off. He and Lauren hadn't been close enough to be considered friends in a couple of years, and he knew it would feel strange to be there. He'd feel like someone showing up, pretending to be upset over something that, had he not been there the night she died, wouldn't have bothered him enough to take more than a moment out of his day. Your friends will need you there. He told himself, knowing that should have been enough to get him to agree to go without hesitation. He wondered, though, how much they really needed him. Every last one of them seemed to be doing just fine, and he felt like he was stuck in the past.

He knew he needed to go, though, and he even dressed up as much as he could. There was no way he was wearing a tie, or even a collared shirt (not that he even owned one), but he did his best to be appropriately dressed for the occasion. Everyone might have even been impressed, had he showed up on time.

But there he was, notification on his phone, barely readable through the cracked screen, Lauren's funeral starting in now. He was still a few minutes away. He started walking a little faster, and tried to take in his appearance as he did so. He had dirt all over his clothes, and a brand new rip in his pants, right on the left knee. He sighed, angrily, having really wishing his day had gone more like he'd planned it. He stopped, right outside the hotel, and tried to brush himself off; clean up a little. But he felt like he'd only made it worse. He caught a glimpse of himself in the reflection of the doors: his hair was a mess, he was sweaty, he looked like he'd gotten in a fight.

He tried to sneak in quietly, as he could hear that the service was begging, but he felt eyes on him as he slipped into the back row. He quickly found a seat and slouched down, as if trying to appear small. He tried to avoid making eye contact with anyone and briefly wondered if it would have been better if he hadn't come at all.

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan

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the perfectionistx|xoutfitx|x#B76A81

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The week following the... incident had been a blur. She felt like she hadn't even closed her eyes in days and she couldn't. She and Lex were trying to figure out everything they could and with their seemingly unlimited resources it wasn't that had for her to start forming her own theories and with the pool of blood Lauren was found in it ruled out a couple of ideas she heard from the public: poisoning wouldn't have left a bloody trail that quick, gunshots would have been heard by someone in the apartment even with a silencer, she didn't kill herself because of the way her body was found. Which only left two real options: blunt force trauma, maybe from on the many instruments left in the spare room or maybe, maybe strangulation, or a mix of both. And these theories were easy to make when you were able to make... 'contribution' to the coroner's office and a little extra to make sure that everything stayed confidential, for lack of a better word. But even that didn't get her a look at the body, only a look at the still-unreleased report which found 'strange' markings around her neck (whatever that meant) but it didn't specify what they were: maybe they were just from her necklace, or some kinky sex she was into now, Pri didn't know. And finding a positive cause of death without seeing the body would make her job impossible. Plus, she needed a who. Who could have something to gain with Lauren being out of the picture and, of course, her suspicions stated with Soren. No matter how cliche it was to assume the ex did it. That was the outcome most of the time and even though it made her stomach turn, she couldn't rule him out.

And when she wasn't being kind of sketchy with her morals or questioning the innocence of old hookups, she was with Nate, trying to get her mind off of everything or Lex, trying to figure it all out. But, as much as she wanted to, going to Lex to sit down and talk about all of this or even just staying the night like she usually did when she was in one of her pits, wasn't an option. At least not right now. Lex was her best friend, they loved each other, and he knew everything about her, and that was the problem. When they weren't working on the case, they'd be trying to take their minds off of it which led to him asking if she wanted to stay the night. As much as she wanted to, she couldn't. For the past week, she's made excuses that she had a story to finish or she had to talk to Chris about the wedding that was looming over them just so she could get back to her room. Alone. He might have not believed her but, she didn't need him to. She just needed an excuse to be alone or around someone who wasn't her best friend. All because of one reason: He knew her too damn well, unlike Nate who'd she call to keep her company through the night, Lex knew the signs of her going on one of her 'trips', where she'd go weeks without any actual sleep and food because she got so engulfed in something that nothing else mattered. He knew the warning signs and she didn't need him worrying about her. What he needed to worry about was finding out what happened to Lauren and who did it. She'd come clean about everything later; her 'dependency' coming back, her overuse of them for five months, she'd tell him everything. Later.

It still hadn't fully sunk in what was happening today. She felt as if it was all a dream that she could wake up from. She was finishing up everything when her phone started to vibrate. "Khepri Mahajan." Khepri tapped the speaker button on her phone as she was focused on putting in a pair of earrings, only half paying attention to the phone. "Hi Ms. Mahajan, I know you said you didn't want to be bothered with phone calls today, but, um Richard Marlow has been trying to get ahold of you. Something about, getting your hat back into the ring." Ugh, Richard fucking Marlow. He was just another one of the self-serving, egotistical, utterly intolerable, and privileged straight male reporters in New York that she had to deal with. Sure, he never meant to come off like that but, he did but, she had to give him credit. He was trying his hardest to get Khepri off of the paper and back into the limelight even if it was just statewide station. At this rate, anything was better than sitting in the Times another day. "Put him through."

"Khepri Mahajan, when I tell you what I did, you're gonna fuckin' marry me." Pri scoffed. "I swear! You are gonna leave your little British man and just jump into my arms. C'mon, asked me what I did." Okay, she'd bite. She took a deep breath and rolled her eyes as she secured her earrings. "Okay, Rick, I'll play along. What'd you do?" She leaned against her marble counter. "I just got you clearance and total control on this case for the station." She nearly dropped her glass in the sink before reaching for her phone and putting it to her ear. "Rick, I swear if you're messing with me---..." The man chuckled on the other end before cutting her off. "Relax, gorgeous. I'm not messing with you. I'm serious. The station looked over your stuff and they like what they see," Khepri had to stop herself from squealing like a teenage girl. "Sure it's a little more... local than you're used to but, you deserve better than so bullshit guest anchor slot on the Morning Show and it gets you outta that shitty New York Times cubical of yours and back where you belong. Because that face is too beautiful to be hidden behind some newspaper. So, what do you say?" Annoying comment about her looks aside, she felt like she could kiss him. "Are you fucking kidding?! Rick, you amazing little prick! When do I start? When am I on?" Rick chuckled again. "Attagirl, I knew you'd love me. So, we want our new hard hitter, that's you, darling, going up against our biggest competition in the morning. Y'know, scare em a bit and show them who the real big dogs are. You'll do mostly breaking news, on-site correspondence, your specialty, of course, but they really want you on this story from the East Side, some murder case, it happened like a week ago. A socialite type or something. Name's like Lana? Laurie?--..."

"Lauren Clark?" She heard the man snap his fingers. "That's it! See, you're already bounds ahead of me." Oh. That might be a tiny issue. This... This could be bad, messy, complicated, and another way she could end up pissing off all of her old friends which was not ideal. Not to mention, she might have been too close to the story to do it justice. But, no one knew she was there. Her name wasn't in any reports and if they were, they weren't now. Not after Khepri made sure of it i.e calling in one of the many favors the NYPD captain owed her. Either way, she didn't have a choice. Wha was she supposed to do? Say no? Stay in New York forever until her station back in Europe stopped being annoying and let her come back? They told her nine months minimum before they even thought about it. And do you know how long Khepri has been in New York? Six goddamn agonizing months. Those alone made her want to crawl in a hole and die. The thought of staying up for days on end just to sit in her small cubical of space at the Times or her bedroom writing bullshit articles for some newspaper. Which was an, honestly, archaic form of media that should have died out years ago.

And she couldn't take it anymore. This is exactly what she needed, her producers were in close contact with her physical and mental therapist and both said she was well enough to work. They just didn't think she was well enough to return to what she was used to, not yet. So, this was good. It would show them that she could handle it again. That she was in her right mind to get back to what she was meant to do. By this point in her thought process, her mind was made up and there was nothing anyone could say to change her mind: not Chris, not her friends, not even Lauren herself. She needed this. "But, listen, I gotta But, our lawyers will be in contact with the Times so, don't even worry about that. Just take this time to decompress, take some well deserved time off, because you start next week." Before she could hang up or respond, he kept talking. "Oh and welcome back, Khepri." He hung up before she could thank him. She set her phone down before running her hands through her hair. She started to laugh before taking a breath. "Finally." However, her excitement didn't last long as she continued getting ready everything slowly began to set in and this pit in her stomach that had felt for the past week returned. She set her hands against the edge of the counter in front of her as she tried to remember the breathing techniques Chris had told her about to help with any feelings of panic she might be feeling. They never worked but, she always tried just kind of hoping for that one time when it actually does. After what felt like ten minutes, when it was really only a minute, she gave up trying and wiped away the one tear she formed. She was fine. She had to be fine, she didn't have a choice. Everyone else was going to be a mess today. So, Khepri couldn't be.

She downed her wine before setting down the glass and heading out of her brownstone and into her waiting car. Her driver, Barry, had been her driver for years and knew better to than to ask questions as they drove off. At first, the radio was on but it didn't take long for the news station she was listening to turn the topic onto Lauren's murder and how her funeral was today. Which made Barry immediately turn off the radio as they drove in silence. Khepri was so far into thought to even notice the car moving, let alone already arriving. She went through her purse making sure she had everything; a small notebook filled with everything she had found in within the week, a small flask, and her uppers in order to stop her from crashing in front of everyone. It wasn't until the door open beside her, that she realized where she was. She stepped out and look up at the hotel in front of her along with look around at the groups of people surrounding them. Barry just looked at her with what could be described as sad eyes, a look she hated getting, and couldn't even say a word before Khepri stated: "I'm fine. I'll call when I'm ready." The older man just nodded before making his leave, leaving Khepri alone on the sidewalk, still not having the courage to actually walk in.

She took a deep breath, fixing her hair, and made her way in. She didn't bother trying to socialize with anyone, she wasn't in the mood. Besides the only people she wanted to see: Lauren's parents and Lex were either busy talking to other guests and her close friend was nowhere to be seen yet. She slid into a chair, waiting for everything to start, only looking around the room to see where the other 'people of interest' were and setting her eyes on Soren who she saw leave for the second time. Her eyes watched him walk out before turning back to her hands in her lap just waiting for something to happen in order to fill the uneasy silence.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Arisa Winston Character Portrait: Alexander Yang Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan Character Portrait: Cassandra Heiks

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Agent Cassandra Heiks
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outfit : herex|xhex: #085721
xxxGot a jail on my heart from the pessimists
xxxGot those nails in my mouth for impressionists
xxxSpent too much money on a therapist
xxxCouldn't fix me, I accepted it

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The third agent had landed in New York only a couple days ago but quickly got to work to catch up on the case, Agent Cassandra Heiks. Her previous precinct had sent her along to help Agent Winston and Agent Monahan, but also to get her out of their hair, a couple days after they reported back about the quick murder, Cass was interested and asked to go, hasnt been anything fun for awhile for her to work with, plus she just got done being undercover. In her mind this would be an interesting and fun assignment, and she thought easy. Well that was until she got to there and saw what they were working with.

Cass had checked out all the evidence tagged by the first team, read over the statements that were taken, as well as pictures of the crime scene. She wanted to talk to the other two that she would be working miss but somehow always missed them, so she decided to dig through all the current suspect’s files and histories. Soren, the ex, who most people thought did it, but that’s too cliche. Rebecca, the best friend, first time back in the country and had a bad car accident awhile back, but she was ruled not at fault. Erin, the bartender, has am unofficial criminal record only some know about, and told the cops she didn’t do it, smart. Nathan, the deadbeat, nothing to gain, but also nothing to lose. Alexander, the rich boy, seemed to have an affair with the victim at the same time, caused the break up with the ex, maybe some sort of jealousy or fight happened. Khepri, the reporter, small fly on the publicity scene and could use the story to make herself big, and Cass doesn’t like reporters.

Cassandra tried investigating a little bit off the record, but didn’t find much so she decided to try to hunt down her fellow Agents and see what they know that isn’t written down, luckily Agent Monahan was easy to track down and assumed he would maybe stop by the service. It was mentioned in the paper the location and time so wasn’t hard to find. She decided to not show up a little late after getting herself a coffee, and sticking towards the back before noticing Kyle towards the back and trying to stay out of sight, though Cass didn’t care.

“Well, well, Look who it is.” Cassandra said as she came up from the side of Kyle and giving him a light slap on the ass. “Been awhile since we worked together. Interesting bunch of suspects we have don’t you think. Especially your sister…” She said with a smirk before leaning against the wall and starting a scan of the room. “Well, the killer always shows up at these things, come on Ky. Plus wanted to see if there’s anything else you can tell me that’s not on paper.” She replied to Kyle’s question and taking a sip of her coffee, before something caught her eye. A female had some markings on her neck, but right as Cass was going to point them out to Kyle, not sure if he saw them, the girl put her scarf back on. “That’s Rebecca Cruze, right? Next to your sister. She has some markings on her neck beneath her scarf. Your reports didn’t mention any type of injuries like that…” She mentioned to her fellow Agent. Wanting to question Rebecca, but knew this wasn’t the place or the time, maybe later. Cassandra then scanned and took note of their other suspects and the states they were in.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Alexander Yang Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan Character Portrait: Cassandra Heiks

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SOREN BOWERS
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outfit : herex|xhex: #575772
xxxremember the words you told me
xxxlove me till the day i die
xxxsurrender my everything cause
xxxyou made me believe you're mine

xxx

As soon as Soren turned around and spotted Khepri, he nearly turned around and walked back out again. He couldn’t stand the thought of an argument with her right now. Even if they hadn't spoken yet, he just knew today would be one of those days where if they spoke, it would end in a blazing row. So instead, he just drained his glass and turned his back, striking up a combination with somebody else instead. He’d just gotten the beckon from Lauren’s parents to say it was nearly time to begin when Rebecca burst in, running straight to Erin. At first, Soren just thought she was upset, given the event they were attending. And then he looked at how disheveled she was and the look of panic on her face. Something had happened. He went to follow them out of the room, but instead, another one of Lauren’s old friends or co-workers or somebody who knew him well enough to know that he was her ex, but not well enough to know how bad things had been.

By the time he escaped, there were too many people for him to slip out and check on Becca. He glanced back for a moment to see her and Erin coming back in, and shot them a forced smile. He dug out his phone and texted Erin.

To: Erin
“Everything okay with Becca?”

Then the service started, with the minister introducing them with a prayer. This wasn’t a funeral. The body hadn’t been released yet for them to bury. But people had to travel home, had commitments, just wanted to move on. And so it still felt like a funeral, a lump rising in Soren’s throat. This had been a mistake. Agreeing to any of this had been a mistake. Coming back to New York had been a mistake.

He somehow managed to keep his composure until he was called to read the poem. He managed to stand to the lectern, his hands shaking as he put the poem on it in front of him. He shouldn’t have been doing this. This wasn’t his to do. Everybody thought they’d remained on good terms and he was lying to everyone, he was lying to everyone in the room. He couldn’t do this.

He somehow made it through the poem. He had no idea how he did, and he had no idea how he did it so well, somehow managing not to stammer or stumble over the words. But as he finished, he couldn’t just go back to his seat and sit there politely and hear everyone talk about her. So he stayed walking, stayed walking until he was out of the room, stayed walking until the familiar feeling of the wave crashed over him and he sank to the floor in heaving, choking sobs. Lauren was dead. Had somebody attacked Becca? Nate looked like he’d been in a fight when he came in. Had somebody gone for him too? Was it a matter of time before people were attending their memorial service? Or would Soren be hearing about it from jail after they pinned the murder on him? He pressed his fist to his mouth in an attempt to stop the sobs or at least muffle them. He didn’t know if he wanted to be found or not. He didn’t know if he wanted a hug or to be left alone to drown in the isolation and the fear and the panic.

He needed to go back before people started to worry. Would anyone worry? Should he wait, just to know for sure? Know if anybody cared for the man they were convinced had killed their beloved Lauren? Should he find out for sure?

No, that wasn’t right either. They didn’t need to worry about him, they all had too much to deal with. They’d lost her, and they had loved her, and they were in enough pain without him to deal with.

The weight of his own indecision, his own fear, kept him pinned to the ground where he was sitting, still sobbing, still gasping for air.

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Kyle Monahan
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outfit : herex|xhex: #063A67
xxxWhat do you want from me? Why don't you run from me?
xxxWhat are you wondering? What do you know?
xxxWhy aren't you scared of me? Why do you care for me?
xxxWhen we all fall asleep, where do we go?
Kyle had been examing the room for anything out of place, while that would have been impossible for anyone to do considering the case of what they were investigating. A full-blown party in a large penthouse with dozens of guests. Fingerprints would be on everything, and he wouldn't know where things were normally kept. Except for stray dust trails that would be normally found in any home, but not this one. Lauren was too clean, or at least had house-keeping to keep dust from collecting. That ruled that out of the list of things to look for, which only made it slightly harder. Which only meant he'd had to dig deeper and look even closer at things. Something that he did anyway, but would require the same from the other officers. Something he knew he wouldn't get the delight of having, as they weren't as...meticulous as he was with the smallest and finest of details. His eyes scanned the room as he took everything in. Taking in ever small and large detail like a sponge, he'd need to remember anything and everything from this apartment if he as to get his job done. While he enjoyed what he did, it was cases like this that really got to him. Not because he used to know the victim on a more personal level compared to the other officer's, but because it was the death of someone as young as she was. While he knew what kind of persons she was, to an extent due to his sister's rants about how much of a bitch she was, her words. He knew her enough to know that she probably would have some enemies, but he didn't think she'd get caught up in a murder. Sure, Lauren Clark was...dramatic and knew how to get what she wanted, as well as stirring the pot of how to get to people, but she didn't deserve this. Which is what bothered him. From what he knew about her, she had a high paying job, was well known, enough at least. Whether it was in good standing or not was up to someone to decide for themselves. But Kyle had to detach himself from this case, and strictly be an investigator, not the mourning friend of the victim. He could do that in his own time.

He sighed as he examined the room, observing objects around the apartment, but only moving them momentarily when he had to. His eyes taking in everything. The placement of how everything was set up, where the bar was in location to the room of which the crime took place. The placement of the stage where the band played. Where the general seating was set up. How many people could have had a perfect view of the hallway from the seating arrangements. Not many from the looks of it due to the disheveled state of the couch and placement of the glasses. Kyle dusted off one of the couches before he took a seat and casually looked around, trying to imagine himself at the time of the party. Trying to see if he would have had view of the hallway, but with the placement of the wall and where the room was, he wouldn't have been able to see anything. Not from this angle anyway. He rose to his feet after taking one more look around. No point in wasting time for now. He knew what he was really required to do, and regretted it as he felt a pit in his stomach. He hadn't seen any of them in years, close to a decade by this point. They would have no idea who he was, and would only know who he was if he told them his name and told them who he was, even then he'd doubt it. He was practically invisible when he was in the group. Not that it bothered him, but it still made him somewhat sick. He had hoped to one day come back to New York, and reconnect with them. But not on terms like this. Not having to do so as a cop, nevermind during an investigation of one of their own. There was no right way of going about this, but he had to just grin and bare it.

He looked around for the first few people he could begin questioning. He saw Nathan Miller and Soren Bowers on one of the couches on the further end of the room. He could try talking with them and get what they know, but he saw as Arisa had already walked up and talked to them. So he simply silently nodded as he looked around, and saw the others. Erin, Rebecca, and Lex. He took a deep breath and slowly made his way over to them, giving them a moment to finish their conversation not really getting what they were saying as he didn't pay much attention. He gave them a small and awkward nod of his head as he approached them. Notepad and pen in hand as he spoke, "H-hello. I'm one of the Detectives on the case." he said, noticeably avoiding any direct eye contact. His eyes just reach short of their's, and then would move past them. "Uhm, mind if I ask you any questions? Just some simple ones to start off. Your first and last name, age, and anything that you can remember. Even the smallest of things help." he said as he clicked his pen nervously with his thumb as he held his notepad in his left hand as he prepared to write down anything that was of importance.

Kyle nodded slowly as Rebecca gave her statement first. Taking in how she spoke and the language of her body. She was clearly shaken up and had been crying, obvious due to the redness around her eyes. He examined her a little more and saw some blood on her hands, obvious from having probably touched the body. A common thing people do, not recommended, but not a common and natural reaction. He brushed it off and simply wrote down her information that was given, not that he needed any of this, as he knew their names and ages. But for legal reasons he had to write it all down. He was going to ask the others what they remembered, but his attention was brought back when Rebecca said she remembered seeing Lauren and Soren together shortly before...well, he knew the answer to that. He nodded shortly and scribbled down in his notepad, 'Deceased had a conversation with her ex-boyfriend, Soren Bowers, at some point in the evening according to Rebecca Cruze. Is obviously shaken and has evidence of having cried.' he kept it vague but held enough information for it to count. While he was doing his job, he was also their friend, even if they didn't know it, and while he wished they were all innocent, they were all involved now and he would have to do his job as an officer first hand. He simply gave her a small smile when she insisted that Soren would never hurt someone, and that he wasn't that type of person. He knew Soren, and that was true. He couldn't even hurt a fly. But he couldn't rule any of them out. Not even the one sitting to his right, who he would have to ask very shortly. "Of course. But I have to take in any and all accounts. To be able to fully rule someone out. But don't worry." he acted as if he scribbled something down.

"Thank you, Miss Cruze. And, I'm sorry about your friend." he said curtly. He turned his attention to none the less, Erin. She looked up at him, and after a moment of silence, she began to give her statement. Her name, age, and relation to the victim. All of this he already knew. But needed to act as if he wasn't aware yet again. He wrote down her information as she spoke. The smallest of smiles appeared on his face for a moment, before he excused it away with a faux-cough. He hadn't seen her in years, and even seeing her in a scenario like this was, oddly nice. As much as he wanted to introduce himself, and just give her a hug, he had a job to do, and now wasn't the time for familiarities. Kyle could have sworn that he felt his brain just deflate at the words that came out of her mouth after her initial statement. He simply just blinked in silence as his brain slowly registered what she said. He shook his head and just silently wrote something down in his notepad, 'Erin Monahan, bartender for the night. She didn't see anything out of the ordinary. As she was too busy to acknowledge what was going on until she heard the scream. Seemed rather shaken up and disoriented.' he gave her a short raise of the eyebrows, he knew she'd thank him later, and then some. The less incriminating information she gave herself, the better. He had a moment of silence as he recollected his thoughts, "Alright. Thank you, uh Miss Monahan. Just...Don't go around poisoning people, ya here?" he said with a sly grin.

He finally turned his attention to the male of the group. Alex "Lex" Yang. From what he could remember, he was the rich kid of the group. Parents were in high places. And he was given their company after their passing, as he had done some searching in his free time. He was curious of his past and recent events, but perhaps under different circumstances. He was going to ask Lex to give his information as the male turned to Kyle and immediately rattled off with his information and statement, all too fluidly. As if he had been over this procedure a hundred times before. He nodded and wrote down everything that was of importance. 'Alexander Yang, conversed with plenty of the guests and Lauren a few times during the party. Had taken a break on the balcony for a smoke, but nothing else until he was alerted by the scream. Seems too calm for someone that lost a friend.'. He nodded as Alex stated that he would be happy to have him and his company help with the investigation and if there was anything they could do to just him know. Kyle took the card and tucked it away in his pocket for now. He looked back up and listened as Alex furthered to explain that some of them lived outside of the country and it would be an inconvenience to have to stay longer than they'd need to. "I understand. But to fully rule out any of you, we'll need you to stay in New York until this investigation is over. We would appreciate the cooperation between you all and the department. Again, I am sorry for your loss, and thank you for your statements. We'll get in touch with you if we need further information." Kyle said politely before giving them one final awkward nod and turn of his heels and he was gone. That entire interaction was one giant drain for social interaction, and he was exhausted. He took several deep breaths and found himself going back to the room to see if the crime scene team had found anything yet. Nothing really, except for some minor blunt force trauma to her head and some bruising that slowly began to form. But aside from that, nothing of concrete evidence was found yet.

Kyle turned his attention to the room. It was rather large. Bed, dresser, wardrobe, table and chair, window and a fireplace that stood out amongst everything else. It was cut from pure white marble, with some minor black dyed cracks. Simple, yet gave it that aesthetic that Lauren was clearly going for. Over the top and far too fancy for a penthouse in New York City. One thing specifically stood out, a small yellow marker that was placed alongside it. Kyle passed by the other investigators and crouched down, examining the fireplace. Small speckles of crimson dotted the edge at the bottom, and as he slowly scanned the furniture, more of that crimson was apparent until it was just coated over the edge of the fireplace. That would explain the wound on the back of Lauren's head. But if it was what killed her, remained to be seen. For now, they could rule nothing out. So Kyle simply wrote down everything he took in from the room. From the placement and pose of the body, to the fireplace which contained her blood, or what they presumed to be her blood. It required a blood swab and dna test, but it wasn't a far fetched idea. Take everything as a possible cause until all it ruled out, even then do a double check on it. He sighed as he slowly stood up and looked around. They'd have so much work cut out for them, and this wasn't exactly how he wanted to be welcomed back home. Not like this.

The following days and nights were a constant blur for Kyle. From a mix of going to and from the department as well as the coroners for any more evidence and information. Everything blurred together. He would have lost track of time and days if he wasn't such a stickler for keeping routine, even when traveling. With of mix of little to no sleep, from long nights and early mornings, he found himself solely relying on tea or other....substances he knew he shouldn't be involved in. But it's whatever kept him going and awake. He needed to get this crime solved, and he needed to know who, and more importantly why someone had killed Lauren. She had plenty of enemies, but, he didn't want to think that any of the ones in the group did it. He knew them back in high-school, and while he wasn't exactly very close with any of them aside from Erin. But she hadn't even recognized him. Then again, he had been almost ten years, he hadn't talked to her since he left. She had no way of knowing, as well as he just didn't want to cause even more stress and worry on the others. Not yet anyway. He'd tell them, eventually. When the time was right, if it ever was. But as the days dragged on, and as it came to be two days out from the set funeral, Kyle had found himself wandering around his old hometown of Brooklyn. He hadn't been there since he left for college and he was curious to see what had changed.

Everything seemed to have stayed the same, except for the local diner that used to be his parents, was now a bar? He wasn't aware of who the new owner was, or who bought it out and why. But to his pleasant, but not an exactly shocked surprise, it ended up coming back to the family. He was happy to see Erin finally and in a more, natural setting. He first ordered a meal and drink, and casually talked for a bit, openly disclosing that he was there for relaxation, not work. After having beaten around the bush, he finally just came clean, and told her who he was. He explained that he was sorry, for everything. For not getting or even staying in contact with her, and that he wished he did. He was just, scared that she didn't want anything to do with him after he left like he did. For years he felt like she hated him for it and didn't want anything to do with him for it. But after some underhanded comments that went way over his head, she explained that she wasn't angry with him, but herself. The two spent a few hours conversing and catching up, leaving the whole idea of what happened that brought them together out, and just caught up. But as time eventually past they said their goodbyes for now, and that they'd see each other at another time. Erin had even asked if he was going to the funeral, and Kyle simply said maybe. But as a friend, he'd try to make it.

The next few days came and went, and finally the day he dreaded. He dressed about as casually as he could, but still veering towards the fancy side as he wasn't one for too casual attire. He styled his hair with some jell and after messing with it for well over a half-hour, he just combed his fingers through his hair one last time and called it there. He grabbed his leather jacket and made his way out of his hotel. Over the week, his fellow agent Winston had been replaced with someone that was familiar with the area, as well as just moving back to New York as well. He met hew a few times, but wasn't exactly very close. After a short drive after being escorted to the hotel, he stepped out of the vehicle and took a deep breath. He kept his hands clasped in front of him as he walked. Kyle always hated funerals, the first one he ever had to attend was his parents when he and Erin were children. And he's never liked them. Just, something about it sent him on edge, but he was there for a friend, as well as minor investigation work. He entered through the back room and clung to the back wall. Simply staying to the back as it filled up kept him out of sight, and out of mind. With his holster and badge by his hip, not many people talked to him aside from a few. He was in his own little world when he noticed someone walk up to him from the corner of his eye, and was startled with the woman slapped him in the backside. Causing him to flinch and turn several shades of red.

Turning his head to the side as the woman spoke. It was Cassandra Heiks. His most recent and newest fellow agent. She was, interesting to say the least, and was a bit abrasive. But growing up with Erin prepared him for that, or so he thought. He rolled his eyes as she spoke, mentioning the suspects, especially his sister. "Well, first off. Hello, Cassandra." he said with a small nod as he kept his eyes focused forward. Taking in who was here and wasn't. Erin and Rebecca were already up front, sitting together. Which didn't surprise him much. Soren was off to the side, clearly trying to calm his nerves. And a few others were missing. "Second, why are you here?" he questioned. While it was more rhetorical than anything. He already figured she was here that if they spotted anything, she'd be there. Especially if the killer was there. He wasn't stupid, and her answer only further confirmed it. He looked at her when she asked about the markings on Rebecca's neck and how they weren't mentioned in his report. He nodded solemnly as he had noticed them earlier, and took note. "She didn't have them when I last saw her. I'll have to look into that later. Not now." he said with a deep sigh as his eyes scanned the room, seeing how Nathan Miller and Alex Yang were still missing. And just as he thought it, speak of the devil and he shall appear. Nathan walked in and sat towards the back. He looked slightly disheveled, more so than usual. He'd take that in of note as well. The two remained in the back, simply observing as the service finally began with opening prayer from the priest, and then Soren was requested to read a poem. Of course he was. They watched as he gave it, and soon after ran out of the room, clearly distraught and upset. Kyle paid note to who reacted and who didn't. He remained standing to the side and had to pay attention, if anyone else got up and left, or made they'd have to move and act accordingly.









Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Alexander Yang Character Portrait: Lauren Clark Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan Character Portrait: Cassandra Heiks

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Rebecca Cruze
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Image
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outfit : herex|xhex: #D02090
xxxYoung hearts, out our minds
xxxRunnin' 'til we outta time
xxxWild child's, lookin' good
xxxLiving hard just like we should

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Rebecca stayed cuddled up next to Erin as the service continued, putting her scarf back on to try to cover up any bruising she might have, not exactly wanted people to ask too many questions at the time. She stayed quiet and had a couple sniffles in between everyone’s speeches and talks. Becca had closed her eyes a little after Soren had read his poem and started to zone out as more people continued to talk about who Lauren was and what type of person she was, all of it positive and most of it ignoring the bad part about Lauren.

It wasn’t until Erin nudged Becca that she came back to what was going on. Rebecca was being called to come up and say some things. People knew Lauren and her were close during her time in New York and she had forgotten she had told Lauren’s parents she would say some things. Her mother and father knew about Lauren’s lifestyle and how she would party and her attitude, but they still loved her and were taking this whole situation. Rebecca took a deep breathe and stood up with some help from Erin and slowly walked up to the podium, adjusting her jacket and scarf and wiping her eyes a little.

Rebecca stood infront of the podium and looked at all that were here and smiling to see a her friends faces, Nate, Pri, as well as other friends and family of Lauren. She took a deep breath before talking. “Hello, as most of you I’m Rebecca Cruze, and at one time Lauren’s best friend.We all knew Lauren in our own ways, while she wasn’t perfect, she was who she was and many of us bonded over her. I remember first meeting her when I got to high school as a freshman and met Lauren and took me under her wing, giving me the best years of high school I could ask for. She’s the reason I changed my middle name to Wilde to remember the good times. Some people couldn’t handle who Lauren was, but she knew this and accepted it. I regret not keeping in contact with her more, but she was never forgotten while I was away and will continue to never be forgotten even though she is gone…” Rebecca trailed off, in between wiping her tears before walking down the stage.

As Rebecca walked back to her seat a familiar figure caught her eye, the same detective that had questioned her, Erin, and Lex was here, though in more casual wear. Though he wasn’t alone, he had another woman with him, different than the one at the crime scene, and she had more of the cop look to her, both were eyeing the crowd and had eyes on Becca as she took her seat next to Erin. “The cops are here…” She whispered to Erin, not sure if she had noticed. “I don’t know why they won’t just leave us alone.” She continued, laying her head on Erin’s shoulder.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan Character Portrait: Cassandra Heiks

0.00 INK

SOREN BOWERS
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outfit : herex|xhex: #575772
xxxsomewhere in between
xxxwho i used to be
xxxand who i'll be tomorrow
xxxwhen the champagne blows my mind

xxx
The days after the memorial service were hard. The panic attacks kept coming, and they were getting harder and harder to hide. He wasn't sleeping, was hardly eating unless someone reminded him to, had even stopped going around to Erin's to drink. Everybody thought he had done it. He knew it. He could see it in their eyes when they looked at him. Their expressions had shifted from one of pity to one of vague disgust. They knew it but there was no proof. Everything they had on him was circumstantial. But everything clearing him was also circumstantial. It was only a matter of time and he could feel the imposing threat looming over him.

Eventually, one of his bandmates came round to check in on him. Having found Soren on hour 39 of no sleep, he physically drove Soren to his doctor's office. Soren emerged from the doctor's office with a cocktail of sleeping tablets and anti-anxiety medication and an order to come back in a few days for therapy sessions. Soren didn't want to do any of the above, but the medication at least made him feel human enough to get through the therapy session. He'd had two sessions by the time the dinner party came around. The dinner party was less his idea and more of a "suggestion" from his therapist that felt more like an order. But having other people around made him feel a little less terrible, so he agreed.

But when the morning finally rolled around, things didn't play out exactly as he'd hoped. Because he woke up to a call from the cops, asking him to go back into the station for an interview. He begrudgingly agreed and went in as soon as he was dressed. He hoped it was a technicality, something they just needed to clear up.

He was sorely mistaken. They’d gone through Lauren’s phone, and they’d found… well. He had no idea how she’d gotten them. Lauren was smart, but she wasn’t exactly a hacker. But it didn’t matter. The police had thought they had him. They thought they’d found a motive. But two things put doubt in their mind. First of all, they’d crossmatched his DNA with DNA found under Lauren’s fingernails, and it wasn’t a match. Other witness statements aligned with his in that Lauren had been seen alive after he’d left the room. And their behavioural expert had confirmed that his reaction to seeing the photos was that of somebody discovering that for the first time.

But he couldn’t get the photos out of his head. Lauren had had those for weeks. She could have done anything she liked with them. So why had she kept them? What had she planned to do with them? He shouldn’t have kept the photos. They gave too much away, gave too much, but… it was a reminder that he had been happy. That good things could still happen.

He got home and wanted to do nothing more than just… try and deal with the aftermath of this. But instead, he was faced with an afternoon of cooking and prep. He tried to carry on as normal, but quickly found himself getting overwhelmed. So he rang Rebecca, who agreed to come over. The minute she saw his face, she sat him down, told him to relax, and took over some of the prep as he talked. He told her everything. How could he not? He told her about his morning, about the photos, about everything that had happened. And it didn’t make it go away, but it made it feel a little more manageable, calm enough to help her with the prep.

It was only when he looked at his watch to discover that everyone else was arriving soon and realised he was still a bit of a mess, physically and mentally. “Shit, Rebecca. I need to get changed, I need to… I need to tidy up the place… Shit, I need to take my meds…” he said, jumping to his feet and running a hand through his hair.

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Character Portrait: Soren Bowers
Character Portrait: Erin Monahan
Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan
Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze
Character Portrait: Nathan Miller
Character Portrait: Alexander Yang
Character Portrait: Lauren Clark
Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan
Character Portrait: Cassandra Heiks

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Character Portrait: Arisa Winston
10 sightings Arisa Winston played by Zodia195
A Detective Investigating this murder case.

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Character Portrait: Soren Bowers
Character Portrait: Erin Monahan
Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan
Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze
Character Portrait: Nathan Miller
Character Portrait: Alexander Yang
Character Portrait: Lauren Clark
Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan
Character Portrait: Cassandra Heiks

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Character Portrait: Cassandra Heiks
Cassandra Heiks

"Sometimes you have to get your hands dirty, break some hearts."

Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan
Khepri Mahajan

"She's enough to drive a saint to madness or a king to his knees." w.i.p

Character Portrait: Lauren Clark
Lauren Clark

The world belongs to those brave enough to chase it.

Character Portrait: Alexander Yang
Alexander Yang

We're never promised another day

Character Portrait: Nathan Miller
Nathan Miller

Can people really change?

Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze
Rebecca Cruze

"Let's just have some fun and forget the world."

Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan
Kyle Monahan

"One of the deep secrets in life is that all that is really worth doing is what we do for others."

Character Portrait: Erin Monahan
Erin Monahan

"I'm the ghost in the back of your head."

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers
Soren Bowers

it's funny how the warning signs can feel like they're butterflies

Trending

Character Portrait: Lauren Clark
Lauren Clark

The world belongs to those brave enough to chase it.

Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan
Kyle Monahan

"One of the deep secrets in life is that all that is really worth doing is what we do for others."

Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan
Khepri Mahajan

"She's enough to drive a saint to madness or a king to his knees." w.i.p

Character Portrait: Alexander Yang
Alexander Yang

We're never promised another day

Character Portrait: Nathan Miller
Nathan Miller

Can people really change?

Character Portrait: Cassandra Heiks
Cassandra Heiks

"Sometimes you have to get your hands dirty, break some hearts."

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers
Soren Bowers

it's funny how the warning signs can feel like they're butterflies

Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze
Rebecca Cruze

"Let's just have some fun and forget the world."

Character Portrait: Erin Monahan
Erin Monahan

"I'm the ghost in the back of your head."

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Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan
Kyle Monahan

"One of the deep secrets in life is that all that is really worth doing is what we do for others."

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers
Soren Bowers

it's funny how the warning signs can feel like they're butterflies

Character Portrait: Lauren Clark
Lauren Clark

The world belongs to those brave enough to chase it.

Character Portrait: Nathan Miller
Nathan Miller

Can people really change?

Character Portrait: Alexander Yang
Alexander Yang

We're never promised another day

Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze
Rebecca Cruze

"Let's just have some fun and forget the world."

Character Portrait: Erin Monahan
Erin Monahan

"I'm the ghost in the back of your head."

Character Portrait: Cassandra Heiks
Cassandra Heiks

"Sometimes you have to get your hands dirty, break some hearts."

Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan
Khepri Mahajan

"She's enough to drive a saint to madness or a king to his knees." w.i.p


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