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Lauren Silverstein

Having a soft heart in a cruel world is courage, not weakness.

0 · 341 views · located in Seattle, Washington

a character in “Wolves Reign: Blood Moon”, as played by Moonstruck

Description




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๏ฝœ๏ผฎ๏ฝ๏ฝ๏ฝ…๏ฝœ
Lauren Silverstein

๏ฝœ๏ผค๏ฝ๏ฝ”๏ฝ… ๏ฝ๏ฝ† ๏ผข๏ฝ‰๏ฝ’๏ฝ”๏ฝˆ๏ฝœ
July 18th, 1911 ; 122

๏ฝœ๏ผฏ๏ฝ’๏ฝ‰๏ฝ‡๏ฝ‰๏ฝŽ๏ฝœ
London, England

๏ฝœ๏ผณ๏ฝ๏ฝ…๏ฝƒ๏ฝ‰๏ฝ…๏ฝ“๏ฝœ
Turned werewolf

๏ฝœ๏ผค๏ฝ๏ฝ”๏ฝ… ๏ฝ๏ฝ† ๏ผฃ๏ฝˆ๏ฝ๏ฝŽ๏ฝ‡๏ฝ…๏ฝœ
December 1930



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๏ผก๏ฝ‚๏ฝ๏ฝ•๏ฝ”

SONG ; COSMIC LOVE
STRENGTH ; MERCY
WEAKNESS ; NAIVETE
TROPE ; THE MARTYR
FAMILY ; OLDER SON, YOUNGER SON
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๏ฝœ๏ผฐ๏ฝ…๏ฝ’๏ฝ“๏ฝ๏ฝŽ๏ฝ๏ฝŒ๏ฝ‰๏ฝ”๏ฝ™๏ฝœ


"Don't tell me the path to Hell is paved with good intentions, that it doesn't matter what you meant - I've seen men do bad things with the best intentions and good things with the worst intentions - to me, the intention is all that matters anymore."


Lauren is a person of seemingly endless contradictions. Quick to warm up to people yet private, strong-willed yet quiet, and charismatic yet having no selfish bone in her body to use it for any personal gain. If there is one thing that is a constant she is a woman of good intention, doing what she believes to be the right thing to do no matter the consequences of her actions. Unfortunately this does not always work to her benefit, and she has made more than a few mistakes in her lifetime that have landed her in hot water.

Another thing that tends to get her in trouble is her naively held notion that most people follow, or should follow, the same moral guidelines as her. She is easily duped into trusting others, especially when in love and is blind to all of her lover's flaws. When the illusion is finally broken though and she's been hurt, she can become extremely irrational and will take drastic measures to defend herself, lashing out with uncharacteristic harshness. This catches people off guard since most of the time she acts with complete civility and compassion and seems incapable of losing her temper.

Since 18 years ago Lauren has wised up to some reality, not completely getting rid of all her blind spots but certainly less innocent than she once was. She realizes it is impossible as a werewolf living in the human world to get by without some deceit and she is not above manipulation when it comes to protecting what's hers, especially her son. She shelters him from many of the world's harsh realities and keeps the truth of her past and who his father is a secret in order to protect him. As misguided as her choices may be, her actions still come from a good place and she strives to provide the best life for her and her son that she can.



โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”
๏ผก๏ฝ‚๏ฝ๏ฝ•๏ฝ”

HEX CODE ; #756694
LIKES ; COMPASSION
DISLIKES ; CRUELTY
FEARS ; BEING CONTROLLED
โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”โ”



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๏ฝœ๏ผจ๏ฝ‰๏ฝ“๏ฝ”๏ฝ๏ฝ’๏ฝ™๏ฝœ


Lauren Silverstein was an omega of little importance in Adam's pack before the revolution happened; her primary occupation being a seamstress. It was only when her son Jared became Beta to Sector 2's Alpha, Daryl, that she gained a little prestige. Being adverse to change she remained in Sector 1 which garnered the attention of the Alpha (Ian as he was known then). He began taking a personal interest in her that she mistook for romance; his only interest in her really being to gather information on Sector 2. When Sector 2 launched a misguided attack on Wolfsbane Headquarters in Seattle unearthing the truth of werewolf existence and ending with the kidnapping of a political official's daughter, Adam revealed himself to be the original werewolf to quickly gain control of the situation; in tandem he selected Lauren as his mate to use as a pawn against Jared. Still, Lauren remained naively convinced the Alpha's feelings were genuine.

When reality finally reared its ugly head and Adam showed his true colors to her, it was too late and she was trapped; isolated from her friends and anyone who would believe she was being held against her will. The war waged on above ground between humans and werewolves. The whole of Seattle was quarantined and put on lock down to keep the situation contained, making runaway an even more daunting task. It wasnโ€™t until Lauren realized she was pregnant that she devised a plan to escape. In a hasty bid for freedom, she turned to the Wolfsbane Warriors, first giving them Daryl and the human hostage Charlotte over as goodwill, then the location of Adam's above ground headquarters for a ticket out of the city.(Holding back the information that she was in fact his mate) On the evening of the set-up, Adam and his closest lieutenant James Bishop were burned to death in a warehouse fire by Wolfsbane's leader Victoria Striker, and Lauren narrowly escaped being assassinated herself and got out of the city.

Since then Lauren has been a fugitive on the run hiding herself from other werewolves for her perceived betrayal of the species. She has been downcast from her highly regarded status of Alpha female and painted as a traitor by history while Adamโ€™s idealized image as a revolutionary proceeds him in death. Unfortunately, her son Jackson has had to live the life of a vagabond too, though he doesn't know exactly why. She keeps her identity a secret even from him. She is merely Karen Kastner now, a single mother just trying to make it by in a brave new world.




Face-Claim: Keira Knightley
Portrayed by: Moonstruck

So begins...

Lauren Silverstein's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lauren Silverstein Character Portrait: Jackson Kastner

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J A C K S O N
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A weather-beaten homestead sat at the far end of an untended track of land at the edge of a small one horse town, lawn littered with disorganized trees and no landscaping, practically melding into it's backdrop. The wooden slats were long since silvered by the sun, and the roof shingles warped. That house, although a much smaller scale, was one that was frighteningly reminiscent of the old abandoned haunted houses in the Scooby Doo movies Jackson Kastner had grown up watching as a child. The floorboards creaked in odd places, making him feel like he was playing hopscotch at the moment rather than trying to sneak past his mother's bedroom door without waking her. Creeeeeak. He froze, cringing, hovering in mid-step like a victim of Medusa's wrath.

He waited for what felt like an eternity until he was, like, ninety-nine point nine percent she hadn't stirred before daring to move again. Or at least ninety percent. He was eighteen years old now officially, for Christ's sake, why was he creeping about like the hamburgler in his own 'home'? Because his mother would jerk a knot in his ass if she knew what he was up to this fine Saturday morning, that's why. Eighteen or not. After all, no respectable teen was up before the crack of noon on the weekends. She'd suspect he was up to no good....yet again...and to be fair, he was. Jackson couldn't help it though, he just had a taste for trouble. Whatever brought the most eyes on him. He basked in the attention.

He finally made it safely past her door and to the front of the house, releasing a breath he hadn't realized he had been holding until now.

Out onto the porch, the old boards creaked under the weight of his boots too. Goddamn, does everything in this house make noise? They felt thin and veined, frozen by a hundred winters, baked by a hundred summers, and smelled of dust and age. He didn't freeze mid-step this time though, he was almost scott-free and if she hadn't woken yet she probably wasn't going to. He skipped risking taking the steps down and just cleared the whole thing, jumping off the deck onto a rolling sea of dry grass and picked up a light brisk jog down the dirt drive up to the street. Jackson didn't have a car, couldn't afford one, but the town was small and one could get just about anywhere on foot. Plus, he had a knack for finding the fastest route possible to any given destination, even though he couldn't find his own way in life.

It was his senior year, at long last, but Jackson didn't like to dwell too much on high school. Most of it was sort of hazy anyway, like his brain had been stuffed with cotton balls, but he remembered a lot of bad marks on his report cards, a lot of "Apply yourself!" and "See me after class!" notes scrawled down on his failed tests. Calculus didn't click for him, grammar was a waste of time--he knew how to write a damn sentence--why did he have to deconstruct it and then put it back together in some stupid diagram? It was difficult for him to pay attention. His brain was constantly offline it seemed. It wasn't like he hadn't tried. Early on, before he'd given up completely on academics, he'd tried, like, ridiculously hard. Stayed up late studying, gotten tutored, scribbled pages and pages of notes...But a light was on in an empty house, or so one of his teacher's had once said. You see though, lesson plans were differing in every town they moved to. Each school was at a different point and it made it difficult for Jackson to follow things he had yet to learn at the previous place and he couldn't get caught up before he was too quickly thrust into yet another school. It just was rough on him altogether....Which was probably one of two reasons he was headed the direction he was now, to vandalize some school property.

On to reason numero dos. Now though his academic game was weak, his social game was strong. Jackson could charm the skin off of a snake without batting an eyelash. He could easily win over many friends, but he'd then be forced to sever those ties each and every time his mother decided they had reached some invisible point where it became necessary to pick up and leave again without notice. Ms. Kastner believed it was important to keep your friends at arms length anyways when you were unidentified werewolves like they were, so she could never be brought to see his plight. Now, technically, werewolves were supposed to be confined to living in the ghettos in the city, but his mother largely avoided that for whatever reason; choosing to illegally hide out under a human guise. Jackson wouldn't have minded living in the city with others like him despite the prejudices outted Werewolves faced today, but anytime he pressed her about it, she shut down. She shouldn't have been surprised when her teenage son, cut off from the rest of the world, fell in with a bad crowd then...One that wanted him to meet them early on a Saturday morning to leave paint bombs in the school lockers, set to explode on Monday when the hapless students of Thorp High went to retrieve their books.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx....

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Turns out the school had an alarm system installed last fall and when the cops showed, mid-setup; Jake, Ryan, Bobby, and Jo bailed, leaving Jackson to take the fall. It was not in Jackson's nature to be bitter or angry over it though, he understood that his friend's might not get shown the same leniency that he was sure to, and he was happy to cover for them, because even more importantly, they knew they could trust him not to narc. But none of this stopped Jackson from crossing his arms over his chest in the back of the squad car like a sullen little boy, pouting for being placed in time out. This wasn't the first time he had been scooped up by the police, not even the first time in this town, but maybe this deputy had a soft spot for kids or maybe he was just a perv for blonde teenaged youth, Hell, he didn't know or care, the important thing was he was letting him off with a warning, dropping him back home instead of the county jail. The vehicle hastily pulled up outside the humble house, kicking up earth and dust with each tire rotation, blanketing the white squad car with a fine tan layer of dirt. The driver, one John Griner, who had deemed Jackson could be let off the hook parked it on a patch of dead grass and came around the side to let him out as the other officer ducked out of the passenger side to meet him, to hold Jackson back from bounding straight into the safety of his ramshackle walls.

"I'm going to have a word with your mother, first." Deputy Griner stated. "Mcknab, Stay with him a moment."

Jackson sighed, rolling his eyes. "Good luck with that, she's probably not even home. Can't you just leave a note or something?" He pressed knowing full and well she was, only to be proven right as a bleary eyed Ms. Kastner stepped out onto the porch, delicate hand shielding her face from the bright midday sun, appearing all to the world like she had just woken up. Dammit.

She looked to the police officer approaching her door with skepticism until her eyes went back further to rest on her son. Surprise.....a blazing white grin, that under different circumstances would make even the most doleful person smile, flashed across his face, splitting across his countenance like a nail pounded into glass as he cheekily waved at his mother. The officer and notorious prick Mcknab, holding Jackson back with a hand placed on his chest, scowled.

"You realize you are one lucky son of a bitch, don't cha? Griner may think you will sort yourself out, but I know better. You'll be back behind that cage in my car again. Your type always finds a way to screw something up." He grumbled, voice low so the pair on the porch wouldn't hear him.

Jackson frowned and began patting himself down, checking the pockets of his jacket like he was looking for a misplaced set of keys. "Now where did I put....that rats ass for your opinion I could give?"

He barked out a laugh as the officer grabbed a fist full of worn leather and spun Jackson around, slapping him onto the hood of the squad car.

"Damn, I didn't know you liked it so rough, if you wanted to 'frisk' me, all you had to do was say so." He breathed out as Mcknab applied pressure to the arm he had twisted behind his back, forcing a hiss out from behind Jackson's pearly teeth.

A growl rattled around in his chest, but he suppressed it. He could have tossed this bastard off of him with a simple shirk of his shoulder, but he had to play his human role and submit. He and Mcknab did this little song and dance just about every time Jackson was caught. He had a real chip on his shoulder about not being allowed to do his job, when the most excitement he saw was getting to issue the odd speeding ticket or two, or submitting the weekend revelers to the station's drunk tank.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lauren Silverstein Character Portrait: Jackson Kastner

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L A U R E N
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Laurenโ€™s eyes opened to the sight of damask wallpaper. The light on the bed stand was on and when she turned over she saw through the tall slatted windows that it was still dark outside. She didnโ€™t know why she had woken up but now that she was, she was parched. The metal springs of the bed whined as she shifted her weight to the edge and set her feet down on the wooden floor. Tip-toeing out of the room, she tried her best not to wake her teenaged son in the room beside hers and went down the stairs to the kitchen. A mouse scuttled away unseen as the bare bulb over the table came on and she walked over to the basin sink to fill a glass of water.

She downed the metallic tasting well water in one eager gulp and stared outside into the obscure blackness. There wasn't any sort of light pollution where they lived. To her, living out in the country was peaceful, while her son suffered and felt his youth was being wasted in solitude. They had spent most of the past 18 years of his life on the road, but on Jackson's last year of high school Lauren had decided it was best for him to stay in one place for him to graduate... But of course, she had to choose the most isolated, boring, back roads town that she could find.

A creaky step gave away the movement of another in the house. It was near impossible to sneak around with every floorboard, faucet, and rusty hinge that squeaked in the old place. She must have woken Jackson up and she turned to look at him as the footsteps behind her ended at the doorway to the kitchen. Only it wasnโ€™t Jackson her eyes rested upon, instead the visage of an older, more menacing likeness of him stood there staring back at her.

Heart-stopping, mind-numbing, panic that slowed down time overtook her; the only thing she could hear was the whooshing sound of her heartbeat in her ears. She couldnโ€™t tell whether it was a malicious spirit or the flesh and blood person of her ex-mate staring her down from the kitchen door, but her instinct to fly kicked in, causing her to bump back against the glass basin and drop her cup clumsily. It hit the floor with a loud crack, bringing everything back to full speed.

"You have been very bad, my dear." He said in his all too familiar condescending voice; his placid tone belying a truly savage nature.

"Youโ€™re dead." She stammered.

His face broke out in a smile, eyes crinkling with belittling delight; as smug as a cat batting around an injured bird. She recognized that look, loathed and feared it, knowing that nothing good came of it.

"I was about to say the same thing about you." He said.

She immediately b-lined it for the back door attached to the kitchen, only to open it and reveal her son Jackson obstructing the way. Her heart was now beating the inside of her chest cavity so hard it threatened to burst out.

"Jackson! Run!"

She tried to direct him out the door but her son simply stared at her quietly in return, behaving unusually impassive to her panic. A sense of dread washed over her before he suddenly grabbed her by the shoulders, forcing her back into the kitchen.

"Run? Why? Why are we always running? What are we running from?" Jackson questioned in monotonous rapid-fire speech. With confusion came clarity, she realized something was not right, yet this didn't help calm her any. She backed away from her son who continued stepping further into the kitchen.

"This isnโ€™t real."

But just as she thought this she was captured from behind by a pair of massive hands on her waist โ€“ as strong and possessive as she remembered, so real her breath caught in her throat.

"Not real? Not real?" he scoffed with an arrogant chuckle, his hot breath curling around her neck. "What part of this doesnโ€™t feel real? Arenโ€™t all dreams in some part based off reality? This is your psyche, your emotions, your problems" - his hands slithered down from her waist to her hips, sending a tingling sensation up her spine โ€“ "And you still seem to have a lot of those to work out, donโ€™t you?"

He twisted her around with a quick flick of his wrist and like an illusion, he was gone; as was everything else, the kitchen falling away into nothing but blackness and she was face to face with her son again in a dark void.

"What are you afraid of, mom?"

She squeezed her eyes shut, placing her hands over ears, and with all her might wished to return to consciousness.

"This isnโ€™t real. This isnโ€™t real. This isnโ€™t real."

At last her mantra seemed to work as her mind and body pulled themselves back together like polar opposite magnets, colliding, and awakening her on the other side. She gasped and jerked herself to an upright position, rubbing her eyes until they found their focus on the floral wallpaper ahead. She glowered at the peeling paper; how had she not caught on sooner to these inconsistencies in her dream? She kicked off the tangled bed sheets and crawled out of bed, making her way downstairs.

Every slatted window in the house cut rays of morning sunshine through the dusty air inside. She went into the kitchen over to the sink and turned the faucet to fill the coffee pot, only to have nothing come out... Reminding her the sink didnโ€™t work either in contradiction to her dream. She sighed.

Just as she managed to get herself a cup of coffee made from water in the bathroom sink and sit down to watch the news she heard the noise of a vehicle making its way up the gravel driveway. She curiously got up to go see who was approaching; wrapping the robe she had on over her night gown and walked out onto the front porch in her bare feet. Her heart sank to the pit of her stomach as she saw through the blinding sun rays the Deputy Sheriffโ€™s vehicle pull up into her yard, and her son and two sheriffs exit the vehicle. Jackson waved with a cheeky smile on his face at her and she resisted the urge to hide her own face behind her hand in shame.

Deputy John Griner โ€“ a sheriff that she had become almost too well acquainted with the past few months theyโ€™d lived thereโ€“ came over to her. "Hello, Officer Griner." She greeted uneasily, thinking in the context that good morning would not be so befitting to say. As friendly as the officer was he must have been tired of seeing her and hearing her excuses for her son.

"What happened this time?" she asked.

A loud thud drew her attention momentarily away to see Jackson being slammed onto the hood of the cop car. It took some willpower not to growl, clearing her throat uncomfortably, and looking back to Griner calmly and expectantly.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lauren Silverstein Character Portrait: Jackson Kastner

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G R I N E R
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L A U R E N
Deputy Sheriff John Griner smiled at her in his classic way as he graced the porch with his mud spackled boots. It was the sort of smile that was born from years of municipal service. It crinkled his eyes and drew lines around his unbalanced mouth, and his perpetually upturned brows were oddly reassuring in that they appeared sympathetic. "Miss Kastner." He greeted kindly, warmly even. "Well, I'm afraid I'm not here for a social call." He threw a glance over his shoulder at the quarreling pair by the car. "We caught Jackson...vandalizing school property...again. Now, I know he's a good kid, wouldn't of done it on his own, but he isn't helping himself out too much by refusing to give us any names." John sighed, pulling a long drag of air in through his teeth as he ran a hand through dark sweat dampened hair that stood up on it's ends wildly. The cop always had this sort of approachable look about him, formal but casually so. Whether this was his natural state or by design was unclear. "This is the sixth time in five months we've had to cart him over here...and it's getting kind of difficult to keep Andy on a leash..." He chuckled good-naturedly and shook his head like an indulgent but over worked father.

"I know, Officer Griner, I know, and I appreciate you so much for being so understanding." she said, clasping her hands in front of her. "I promise, I'm going to have a real good talk with him this time. This will be the last time you ever have to deal with him."

This was probably the billionth promise of this nature she had made to the deputy, who up to this point seemed satisfied living on her unfulfilled words and pretty appreciative smiles. She earned sympathy points being the single mother of a rambunctious teenager, but she could tell by Officer Griner's worn expression she was close to having used up all these.

He had seen and heard her promises all before that had yielded little to no results, so he approached a different method as tactfully as he could.

"...Can be frank with you for a moment?" He asked politely, wringing his hands together. "...have you ever considered the why in why Jackson might be inclined to act out so often?" He chuffed, folding his arms over one another. "I think he just craves the attention is all, the discipline. And not to fault yah, lord knows there's only so much a woman in your position can do, but I'm beginning to seriously doubt the effect your words can have on 'em." John's eyes widened perceptively at her obvious fright. "I'm not suggesting anything dramatic like taking him in to the station, I'm just saying...offering really, if he needs a male authority figure...someone to give a little extra focus on him, I'm more than happy to lend a hand is all."

"Oh, uh..."

Lauren still wasn't the best at reading people, but she had come to understand a thing or two about people's nature. Humans and werewolves were not that different after all.They even structured themselves similarly; there was a hierarchy, and every community, even human ones, had their Alphas. Officer Griner was one such Alpha and she knew just how to handle those.

"That is very generous of you, Officer Griner. It would be so nice for Jackson to have someone to look up to like you." she replied, "But, I couldn't possibly put that responsibility on you; you've already done so much for him. I really appreciate the offer, I do..."

John's shoulders went slack in defeat. Well, maybe not total defeat, but he realized the notion might have to rest on the back burner for now until Miss Kastner deemed herself ready for such a step. He nodded once resolutely, "Well, just putting it out there." before waving to his partner which obviously was the signal to release the ever vexatious Jackson. He had hope, she seemed to really take to the idea of having him around, but simply worried about the untold burden it would undoubtedly be...so he'd just have to take extra care to assure her he was ready to tackle it head on. "And you don't have to go callin' me Officer, John's just fine." Jackson happily lopped up to the porch like some carefree Labrador heedless of the crap he was tracking in. He was victorious in his smile. "Yeah, thanks John." he stated a none too gratefully, face split from ear to ear with teeth.

Lauren shot Jackson a reprimanding looking as he slinked inside the house before turning her attention back to officer Griner or John as he was now insisting she called him. She wasn't exactly happy about this development but at least he was letting her son off the hook which was the whole point. "Thank you, John, so much! I mean it." she said backing away towards the front door bashfully not taking her eyes off him. She gave one last meek little wave as she stepped inside, then shut the door; resting her back against it with her eyes closed and listening for him to leave. As soon as she heard the officer's heavy footsteps trot down the porch stairs and across the dirt towards the car, she let out a breath she hadn't even known she was holding and finally opened her eyes. She was the first to break the silence in the house after they heard the patrol car roll away, speaking only three words in as low and aggravated voice as she could pull off:

"Jackson. Ian. Kastner."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lauren Silverstein

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D E B B I E
Post-revolution, post-everything-she-knew, Lauren was a more decisive person than she had ever been. Fear no longer controlled her like it had or at least did not keep her in a state of paralysis. She wouldn't let anyone decide her fate for her or let her will be subverted by another's. Such was her reluctance to be made vulnerable again that it took a whole lot to get close to her. She also believed once someone learned she was not all meekness; once they saw the blood in her gums and skin under her nails that they would turn away. The one person who had known her best was dead. And would he have even liked what she had become she wondered? Maybe... After he got over the fact he was dead.

To be known so briefly and never again was its own little Hell. But her life was not completely devoid of relationships; there were some people who were relentless enough to befriend her and demanded to be let in; people who really didn't know quite what they were getting into. People like Debbie Wallace.

"HONEY. Put that thing down before you take someone's eye out." Debbie hollered before hastily prying a rather large steak knife from Lauren's grip.

It was the next day at work and Lauren had already burned herself on the coffee pot machine, dropped a plate, and been generally a frazzled mess up until she intervened. She didn't like the distracted manner in which her co-worker was operating, turning all sharp objects into hapless weapons. She placed it safely in the industrial sink basin before unleashing her knowing gaze on her friend.

"Is it Jackson again? What's he done now? I swear that boy is as wild as a bag of feral cats. I'd of slipped some Xanax into his corn flakes ages ago were he my son. And, you know, my boys ain't exactly the best behaved bunch."

She tossed her candy apple red hair over her shoulder with pursed set of lips. "What? Don't judge me until you've had to corral five of 'em. Plus they daddy, I'm just sayin' is all."

At first Lauren continued to hold a phantom steak knife in her hand, dazedly listening. It was hard to fathom that this was her only friend but Debbie, within her endless twangy spiels always had a few good nuggets of strangely sound advice. When Lauren realized she had probably been staring blankly for too long, she tuned back into the conversation, frantically putting her hands out in front of her.

"Oh no no no I wasn't thinking that I just--"

She conceded to Debbie's well-meaning pestering, knowing the only way to keep her from continuing was to tell her the truth. "--- Yes, it's Jackson. He got in trouble again... He came home with the police yesterday. He set off a bomb with his friends in a school locker!" She said, resting resting on the formica countertop with her face in her hand. "I just don't understand what I'm doing wrong..."

Debbie placed a consoling hand on Lauren's back, halfway into a prime hugging stance already. Her affection was a sloppy, demonstrative thing.

"You can't beat yourself up about it. Boys will be boys and whatnot. I think he just likes him some attention. My Coby is the same way, always spray painting dicks on the barn door. I spent a fortune on cover up paint, but I ain't doing it no more. I'm gonna leave that large neon penis for the neighbors to see. They know how it is raising kids these days."

She quickly steered Lauren back upright, and embraced her friend warmly. Where as most people might have bawked or been embarrassed on Debbie's behalf, Lauren listened to her friend with an unflinching amount of stoicism. She had grown quite used to her detailed storytelling of her family that verged on the explicit. It was only when Debbie pulled her into a warm sentimental hug that she became uncomfortable, managing to pat her two times stiffly on the back before she turned to collect some dirty plates from the counter.

"Lucky the cops brought him to the house instead of charging him, it could've been a helluva lot worse. It's almost like..." Debbie was careful not to make eye contact here as she worked a casual inflection into her tone. Her body language, however, betrayed her. "you've got a special friend on the force looking out for Jax. One could almost say a friend with benefits." She finished, finally facing her with eyebrows raised in both question and accusation, dishes clutched tightly to her chest in voracious curiosity.

"You mean John? What are you saying?" Lauren arched an eyebrow back at her, resting a hand on her hip.

Debbie nearly barked a laugh, "Was that who we were talking about? Funny, I didn't even mention a name and your mind jumped straight to Griner. Very telling." She hummed smugly. "I think you know EXACTLY what I'm saying, more so than you'd like to admit."

For so simplistic a person, she had a razor sharp intuition, especially where men were involved. She shuffled Lauren's discarded plates into her own stack with practiced ease.

"Ain't nothing to be ashamed of. Honestly. He's as good a man as any."

She often found Lauren to be a bit sensitive in her objections. Deb was hardly a spring chicken, but Lauren had the propriety of Debbie's eighty year old grandmother.

"It's not like that -- we're not --" Lauren's cheeks burned red and she pursed her lips shut. Anything she said she knew would only affirm Debbie's suspicions. As she had read in a copy of Shakespeare long ago, 'The lady doth protest too much, methinks.' Instead she waved her hand dismissively at her then grabbed a rag to begin cleaning tables.

Deb just smiled. "You could do worse, so be careful, you string him along for too long and he will find another filly to chase. Men are fickle like that, fickle and stupid." She sighed, the weight of the many stupid men of her past sitting heavily on her chest. "And I bet that good looking man, with all that pent up aggression...probably dynamite in the sheets." she snorted and giggled conspiratorially. "God bless Terry's soul, he ain't exactly exciting in the bedroom. You know what I mean? Slap a girl a little, pull some hair! Though, if he tried that shit outside of the bedroom, in say the kitchen, he'd be liable to get a slap right back."

It was true Lauren wasn't completely oblivious to Griner's attention of her and didn't necessarily dislike it -- it had its advantages and disadvantages. But there was no future, not the future that she could sometimes see the sheriff picturing in his hopeful eyes.

In fact it was this affection and familiarity that were making her contemplate a move, despite having promised her son they would stay until Spring. With Jackson suspended from school probably for the next week, there would be plenty of opportunity to pack and get out of dodge. She looked up from the table she was wiping as Deb came out of the back. Catching her eye, she smiled wistfully before quickly absorbing herself back in her task.

It wouldn't be easy breaking the news to Jackson they would be moving again, it never was, and there was something about this time that made her regret it just a little more.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lauren Silverstein Character Portrait: Jackson Kastner

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L A U R E N

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J A C K S O N
Clothes, bedding, dishes, pictures, and other personal belongings... Lauren went through the mental checklist in her head of what needed to be packed. Then she went down the other list of things to do: pay her last month of rent, map out where they were headed to next (she always had a list of at least three locations to run to in case of emergencies), research where they were going to live (some place where they accepted rent in cash, with no renter background checks, and preferably a place with a basement or attic for full moons), and write a letter to Jared where they were going. The 90's Frankensteined Nissan that she drove creaked to a stop in the driveway and she gathered up the dinner of a burger and fries she brought home for Jackson from the diner; noting as she got out that she saw no lights on in the front windows. She came into the house first going into the kitchen and turning on a light and setting down the bag of food on the table.

"Jackson, sweetheart!" she called out, shirking off her jacket and hanging it on the coat stand beside the door. Nothing. Maybe he was in his bedroom. "Jackson, there's dinner!" she called out in a more coaxing voice. When he did not respond to that she became a little curiouser as to where her son was at, as he was not one to miss an invitation for dinner. She went to go upstairs, pausing when she heard a noise eminate from the kitchen. She stepped into the dark room, head cocked to the side.

"Jackson, what are you doing sitting in the dark?"

Immediately all the humor was sapped out of the room as she flicked on the light and looked at her son sitting at the table disconsolate, papers spread out in front of him.

"What's all this...?" Lauren asked -- knowing of course exactly what the papers were, but not wanting to immediately incriminate herself. It was hard to look at her whole correspondence with her oldest son over the past 18 years spread out before her that she had kept hidden away like some dirty secret in a box in a dark corner of every place they lived. They were so many that they consumed the entire surface of the formica table and spilled onto the floor. She couldn't help but stoop down to pick up the few that had fallen. Jackson had never had any physical proof to substantiate or challenge what little she told him. Lauren might as well have been born out of a void, walking out bearing scars that she pretended she had no idea where they came from. She left the details of the past scarce and let him fill in the blanks as he pleased, as they were surely better than the truth anyways. Probably nowhere in the patched together made-up story that he had in his mind did he have a sibling though...

Jackson wore a startlingly electric expression. It was wide awake and glittering, a match struck just behind his eyes. It was not his usual mien. This expression moved in a way that his face had always been capable of, surely, but never been asked to.

"I donโ€™t really know. It appears to be letters between you and a sibling I didnโ€™t know I hadโ€ฆbut you tell me?" He asked, his voice unsteady, a mixture of hurt and anger rolling generously through the vowels causing it to shake.

It was difficult to come to terms with the reality of the situation, and even more so with the fact that she still seemed to be searching for her out, guarding her lies. He could see secrets dart between her glances and it infuriated him. He had righteously anticipated an immediate confession, or at the very least a reflection of guilt but this? Did she even possess the ability to be honest without avoidance? Even when confronted with inscrutable evidence? She had had eighteen years of opportunities to break this to him, she had been given chance after chance to best figure a way to reveal the news. He was old enough now, difficult truths should have only become easier to unload. He didnโ€™t even know who she was and by proxy, who even he himself was. Jackson saw before him a smash-cut slideshow of memories that didnโ€™t gel and lies that didnโ€™t stick. The schism between his manufactured past and reality had begun to narrow.

"SAY SOMETHING." He demanded.

Lauren inhaled sharply at his tone, for a moment needing to look away as to not show the pained expression in her eyes and think. She filled the momentary silence with setting the paper sack with his dinner inside on the kitchen counter before turning back to him. She leaned against one of the back of the kitchen chairs with both hands, her nails trimmed and filed into docile ovals drumming anxiously against the wooden frame while her face remained unmoved. After another moment she stopped the incessant tapping having finally come to terms there was no other way out then to tell the truth. It had stood tacit on her tongue for so long that it did not come naturally for her to speak it and she began with much hesitancy.

"Yes... that is your brother, my son, in those letters... We were separated during the revolution... He lives in a ghetto, in Seattle."

Jackson's mouth hung agape, his words staggering in his throat. It was so...blunt. So without preface or excuse. He waited, hoping there was more to be said, but she just stared back at him with this inscrutable physiognomy. His rows of teeth met one another in a grind as he refused to break eye contact, to waver. Calm down, breathe. Get your answers. Yesterday's argument had felt like a portent for this one, the one that would haunt his impression of his mother until the day he died.

"...and why is this the first I'm hearing of him?" He finally asked, words aimed like knives across the chair between them.

So much of what he felt right then was conveyed by his body. The thrust of his shoulders, the slant of his neck, the curvature of his arms into the dull traps of his hands. This wasn't right. Jackson was a happy, carefree kid. He didn't feel things like this, like betrayal.

"It wasn't safe for you to know him." she replied almost sharply, "...It's all very complicated Jackson. I wish there was some easy way to explain it. After the revolution being together as a family was simply out of the question." Outcasts. Traitors. Defectors. She swallowed, "-- We are both regretful of things done in the past. Me, especially. The path I chose has made it so I could never see my pack again, let alone your brother. You should not blame him for having not reached out... clearly, he has tried many times."

Getting the whole truth out of her was a fruitless effort. Even as the proverbial writer of her own life she seemed fuzzy on the details, the definition of an unreliable narrator; her story was marred, some pages ripped out, others burned, and no conclusions ever reached. There were no answers to give her son because she didn't have them either, namely why. Why had all this happened? Why to her? Why to Jared? Why had her mate done everything he did? And why if she was so justified in her own actions did she feel wrong?

She hadn't been able to much contemplate these questions in the midst of trying to survive. All she could do was manage what was suppressed in her psyche. She had taught herself to go to sleep without crying, to be able to stand her own reflection in the mirror, and to look at her son without thinking of him. Except now, as much as she had told herself over the years this was her son and not his, she could not deny as Jackson glowered at her as calm as the eye of a hurricane from across the table that at least in appearance he was his father's son.

"I don't blame him, I don't KNOW him, I blame you. There was a way to explain it, you just never even bothered to try!" He cried out in total and utter frustration. He was spinning, reeling, his calm lost in a snap of a moment. "You could have just said-" His voice broke. "Even if I believed you, which you've given me no reason to, that doesn't mean you couldn't have at least TOLD me. All this time...you lied to me."

Jackson Kastner, fighter of men, devil of a boy, didn't do things like cry but for some reason, in that moment, tears seemed to be stinging the back of his eyes. He'd be damned if he let them fall, though. His hands clenched and unfurled a few times at his waist. He finally broke eye contact with her, letting his gaze plummet to the floor. Jackson felt robbed, robbed of any choice that might have led him someplace happier, to some more populated or congenial life.

"Is there anything- anyONE else? No long lost uncles, cousins, or maybe sisters hiding in the woodwork somewhere?" His tone was scornful and sarcastic, but the question remained, what more could she been concealing behind that glassy stare?

"No, no family. Neither your father or I had any." Lauren replied deadpan. She thought about the pack she'd left behind, people like Coren, Lucas, and other friends that she was close to that she had once considered family; but there was no blood and she didn't know what had happened to most people she used to know. She hated to see her son hurting as he so obviously was; his bravado slipping slightly with tears stinging at the corner of his eyes. Yet it didn't move her enough to tell him everything, holding onto the back of the chair in silence like every last fiber of her calm composure.

The statement 'neither did I until recently' instantly came to mind but, it would do him no good to take jabs at her now when he was close to the truths he had been unwittingly searching for all these years. Jackson swallowed his ignominious comment and plowed on. "What...what happened back then? Why are things like this now?" If he just knew a few details, he could figure the rest. He just needed something to grab onto so verity could take root. He just desperately wanted to understand.


Lauren let go of the back of the chair and looked out the window above her son's head; seeming to search for her answer outside somewhere and looking back to places that she had long since left behind. She began with some trepidation but gathered momentum as she spoke, fueled by an undercurrent of ire that rose to the surface.

"Not everyone was for the revolution. I didn't want a war but your father... he desired it more than anything. More than anyone I might say. He cared about the revolution above any future we might have had or even his own life... I hated it. I resented what it brought out in him."

It was the first time she had ever spoken at length about what had happened 18 years ago. Some of it she realized would be quite contradictory to what she had already revealed to him. She had, believe it or not, never spoke ill of Adam. She had never led on one iota that she bore any resentment towards his late father and very carefully spoke about him, even constructing him in a positive light. Not out of any caring for Adam, but to give her son a father that even though he was dead he could at least look up to. This was easy to do because the dead were better than the living by virtue. They could never fail you. They could not hurt you. They could make no more mistakes.

Not like her. Not like she was about to do with Jackson.

"... So I decided to leave because I had you to think about; I could save you. But there was nothing I could do for your father. He had made his bed... He chose to fight, and died. Your brother tried to escape but did not make it out.."

She let out a heavy sigh as if she had just dropped a heavy load off her back and finally fixed her gaze back on her son to gauge his reaction as she finished.

"I feared going back after that, I had defected and knew I would not be welcomed back. I didn't want to raise you in a ghetto either... And that's it... That's what happened."

The floodgates had opened and Jackson just stood there numb in his shock, trying and failing to absorb her words. Nothing made sense. He didn't know if he was supposed to be consumed by despair or anger at this point. So he vacillated wildly between the two, occasionally burning himself out and feeling nothing at all. It wasn't until she uttered that last line that one of the warring emotions won out and completely obliterated the other.

Anger.

His feelings were an oil spill; he suddenly allowed them to overflow and now there wasn't a damn place in the ocean that wouldn't catch fire with the match Lauren had just struck. He hated her. Hated her for her lies, for her willingness to pollute the pure image of his late father that was all he had left to him, for her cowardice. He hated her in that moment because he had loved no one more than she, and love and hate were two sides of the same coin, after all. He directed this fury at her.

"Y-you mean to tell me...that you're the reason dad is dead." Jackson's whole body was a riot of shivers. "YOU ABANDONED MY FATHER, YOU ABANDONED YOUR SON! YOU ABANDONED OUR PEOPLE!" This felt like a heart attack that would never stop. He had believed he was prepared to hear the truth, but nothing in the world could have prepared him for this. He looked on her with disgust. "You don't leave your family behind, I would never have left you! I'd of stayed and DIED before I'd of given up on the people I love! You didn't deserve them...and you took my choice away from me." His mistakes weren't hers, and even if the traitor that she was wouldn't be welcomed back among her people, it didn't mean that he wouldn't be too. He couldn't stand to look at her for a second longer, he couldn't stand to remain in this house for a moment more. She had had everything and threw it all away.

She was the source of his loneliness.

"I hate you." Jackson shoved past her and made his escape up the stairs before violently slamming his bedroom door closed behind him. He couldn't think about the look on her face when he shouted those words at her, the pain in her expression was too raw and he could not afford to doubt his resolve now. His anger was all that protected him from this unbearable pain. He snatched his backpack off the ground and dumped it's contents on the floor before stuffing random articles of clothing lying about into it. He was leaving, and he was never coming back. He'd find his brother in Seattle and be welcomed into the pack. He'd meet those wolves that stood for something more than themselves, and fought to protect what was theirs. That was his true place in the world, he was his father's son after all-or the son of the father he imagined at any rate.

It would have been impossible to escape the house with tensions just having been so high. No matter how keyed up Jackson was and ready to leave, he couldn't fathom a successful way to get away with it in that moment. He'd had enough confrontation with Karen Kaster for one day, and wasn't eager to start yet another argument. The next bus didn't run until dawn at any rate, and he couldn't very well walk to Seattle. Though, if his determination was anything to go by, he probably could have made it half way across the globe in a night. He set his bag down beside his bed and buried his face in the pillow, unshed tears sealing themselves away.

Amidst the tangle of his bed sheets, Jackson drifted in and out of restless sleep that night, and his dreams for the most part were muddied with the same anxiety that bled into his waking hours. It was nearly an hour before dawn when he finally pulled himself from this restless state and scooped back up his backpack before he approached his bedroom window. When sneaking out, he had never previously used this particular window as an exit despite it being an obvious choice for it had been painted shut a long time ago, and wouldn't break away easily so he'd always made do with the front door. But now he dug his extending claws into the frame and wretched it open, paint chips scattering across the ground. He wouldn't be going back any further into that house, not even to make his escape. There was a sense of finality about this action that was strangely satisfying.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lauren Silverstein

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L A U R E N
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Lauren had gone to bed with more restless dreams; sweat-inducing, feverish ones, the ones about the past that felt so real it was like the events were happening again. She could feel his hand around her throat, the coppery taste of blood in her mouth, the pressure of his weight and anger upon her. And how weak she was, powerless to stop it, like trying to douse an inferno with a bucket of water. She fought in her dreams all night until morning, so that when she woke up the next day she felt no more rested than when she had gone to bed.

None the less, she set aside her mental and physical fatigue for work that morning, dutifully arising and getting ready as she normally would. She decided rather than trying to amend things right away with her son, that she would give him some space. The bag of food she left sitting outside his bedroom door still sat there untouched. Unusual since nothing seemed to spoil the boyโ€™s appetite but last night had been exceptionally stressful, so she dismissed it.

However when she returned from work that afternoon and found the bag still there, she knew something was amiss. She knocked on his door lightly.

"Jackson?" There was no reply.

She opened the door and went inside the bedroom where the air was cool from the window that had been open all night and morning. The room was in a state of complete disarray, not that he had ever been very tidy but this was different and there were obvious signs that something was not right. His drawers were open haphazardly with most of his clothes missing, his cellphone charger was unplugged from the wall, his school books were scattered on the floor with his backpack gone. Panic set in instantly.

Immediately she rushed out of the house and used her heightened senses to try and search for him around the property. There was not a trace left of his scent though anywhere, long gone in the autumnal breeze. She hopped into her car once again, not bothering to go back inside to change from her work uniform nor lock the front door. She drove around, stopping at every teen hang out in town, at the local school, searching through abandoned rural barns and buildings, and even going to neighbors on the off chance they might have seen him; She called his phone a minimum of 15 times in the span of three hours. All her effort was for nothing.

At nightfall she forced herself to stop, knowing that it was hopeless to search any further, at least within the local vicinity, and that he wasnโ€™t going to answer her calls either. At this point, she knew in her heart of hearts where he had gone, and there was no way without putting herself in danger that she could go there: Seattle.

She thought back to the night before. How badly she had handled everything. How wrongly she had treated her son... Not just last night, but all the times he had inquired into the past. She redirected, dodged, and outright manipulated him so that he would never push her into saying more than she wanted to. Yes, some of this had been to protect him, but in retrospect of last night it was just as much to protect herself. He had now learned the truth in the most horrible fashion possible and this had unleashed an anger in her son she didn't know existed. It was not the kind his father had that would sadistically hurt, but similarly unbridled, uncontrollable, that left scorched Earth in its wake. He was ready to put his past into flames and leave her behind.

Lauren was so distraught she did not know that she could return back to her empty house. So she drove to her place of work instead which was not far from the park she last looked for Jackson, knowing that Debbie had the night shift.

When she arrived at the diner it was empty of customers. The only sound was the jingle of the Christmas bells perpetually tied to the door all four seasons when she entered and the background music playing some slow ambient rock song.

She slumped down onto one of the pedestal stools at the counter, finally resting her head in her hands. When she heard the kitchen doors swing open from the back, she looked up, meeting Debbieโ€™s eyes and in an unforeseen display of emotion felt hot tears streak down her face.

"Debbie, he left. Jackson ran away." Her lower lip quivered, trying to keep herself together somewhat. She hadn't expected this, she felt so embarrassed, she hadnโ€™t come here to cry. But something inside her cracked when she saw Debbie, the closest person to a friend she had in the past 18 years.

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Character Portrait: Lauren Silverstein

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D E B B I E
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Debbie stood there for a few moments, swallowing her initial shock, in intense deliberation. She didn't often reign in her reactions, but one look at the welted face of her sobbing friend had her carefully considering her approach. In favor of words, she simply set her cleaning cloth on the nearest counter before striding over to where she sat. She pulled Lauren to her chest, cradling her head as assiduously as a newborn baby's. She softly stroked her hair, comforting her in the only way she knew how to, like a mother.

"Shhh...honey, I know. I know." She cooed, her words sopping with commiseration.

Laurenโ€˜s posture slackened, allowing herself to melt into her friendโ€™s arms and hide her teary face in her shoulder.

"I am a terrible mother." She said muffled against her body.

Debbie just squeezed her tighter. "Nuh uh. I don't wanna hear it. You do just fine as a Momma, this ain't got nothing to do with that. Our best is all we can do."

She pulled Lauren back to get a good look at her, pity sinking its teeth in further as she locked her eyes with Lauren's red and puffy ones. Deb didn't particularly enjoy seeing her friend gaze up at her with the same face any one of her children had when lost at the supermarket, bawling their eyes out as a bored cashier lead them down the aisles to find their mom.

She clucked her tongue. "That damned boy. He is probably hiding out at a friends, sulking or something. I'm gonna whoop his butt." Her tone softened. "What can I do? What in the Hell happened anyways, hon?"

Lauren wiped the tears out of her eyes with her sleeve and reached over to grab some napkins from the counter to blow her nose. After she had done this she took a deep breath, composing herself before speaking.

"I justโ€ฆ I said some terrible things I shouldn't haveโ€ฆ"

She looked from the crumpled up napkin in her hands back to Debbie. As far as Debbie knew she was just your normal single mother with a teenage son. She never talked about her history with anyone. And as much as she might have wanted to spill the whole truth to her at that moment, there was no way that she could. So she paraphrased and edited as best she could on the spot.

"When I was pregnant with Jackson I was living in Seattle with his fatherโ€ฆ And when the siege happened, I ran away. Not because of what was happening but because I couldnโ€™t stand him... Or couldnโ€™t stand to be with him. I donโ€™t knowโ€ฆ"

She shook her head confused and looked down once again, afraid of seeing what her friend might be thinking as she continued.

"But he died there and I never looked back. And I never told Jackson the truth because I didnโ€™t want him to think poorly of me for abandoning his father... Well, he figured out last night what I had done and now he's gone. I can't say I blame himโ€ฆ Heโ€™s probably already in Seattle by now, looking for relatives."

She peered up hesitantly, expecting admonishment or at least a judgmental look.

"If you say you had to get away from him, for whatever reason..."Debbie paused, the anticipatory Lauren very nearly holding her breath in foretaste. "Then that's what you had to do. He may not understand it now, or ever, but us momma's...we always do what is necessary." She watched the tension in her friend's posture abate with relief. "Every other living soul be damned." Debbie smiled softly, resting a gentle hand on her shoulder.

Lauren patted her hand and smiled tiredly back, taking in a deep breath and exhaling lengthily. It had been a while since she had had a good cry and there were very few people she trusted to share in her true emotions, opting mostly for a veneer of noble stoicism in bearing her burdens. She was about to speak again to say thank you to Debbie when the door to the diner swung open and in with the breeze blew officer John Griner.

The tension she had just exhaled returned as she fretfully wiped the wetness from her cheeks away, but there was no hiding the splotchy redness around her eyes and nose even looking away.

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Character Portrait: Lauren Silverstein

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G R I N E R

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All John had steeled himself for upon entering that lone diner was a badly burnt cup of coffee. He hadn't anticipated the pair of startled, wide eyes that greeted him, like deer in his headlights. He hovered in the doorway for a breath of a moment before carefully edging his way in.

"Ladies," he intoned calmly by way of greeting.

Inside Debbieโ€™s mind, thoughts turned busily, as they always did. Where Lauren may have seen a problem, Debbie saw only a solution. She took a step back from Lauren with only a brief squeeze of the hand in parting, and smoothed out the front of her waist apron.

"Oh great Heaven's, Officer Griner! You 'bout scared us half to death comin' in here like that!" She scolded lightheartedly, brushing away the awkwardness of the scene with skilled ease.

He eked out a tentative chuckle, though it sounded empty.

Debbie continued. "Can I get you something, what with you being a paying customer and all. You'll have to forgive me, it's been so long that we forgot what one looks like!"

At this, his resounding chuff sounded a tinge more mirthful than the last.

"A cup of your finest coffee would be more than welcome, thank yah ma'am." he replied in his warm drawl as Debbie made her way over to the ancient coffee pot that should have been put out to pasture years ago, knowing damn well there was nothing fine about her coffee.

John wound his way over to the waitress still seated in the booth who had yet to meet his gaze.

"Karen...do you mind if I slide on in here? I understand if you're wanting to be alone, I know I'd just enjoy the company, myself." He posed hesitantly, not wanting to provoke a sharp response from her given the state she appeared to be in.

Debbie snappishly replied for her from the distance. "Of course not, she don't mind, do you Honey?" She shot daggers at Lauren as if to say, 'Just follow my lead.' Lauren was helpless to it.

As soon as Debbie turned her back, John leaned in, conspiratorial. "You don't have to listen to her, you know. She scares the Dicken's out of me, but I doubt she'd hold it against you." He offered her a disarming smile from across the table.

Lauren smiled easily through her red eyes though it disappeared as quickly as it came. She cleared her throat and straightened her back up.

"You're out late, I thought you didn't work nights anymore." she said, fidgeting with the napkin in her hand distractedly. It was more close to a yes than a no to his company, and a weak diversion from her obvious distress.

He shrugged casually before slinging his arm over the back of the booth.

"Joys of being the boss I suppose. We've been short staffed ever since Tony took off with that girl from Oklahoma." John smiled and hummed at the thought, like he didn't so much mind since it was in the favor of young love.

The light within his eyes suddenly shifted as his tone grew more somber. "You're out pretty late, too. I didn't think you were on the schedule tonight?" He was remiss to admit he knew her schedule so well. When she didn't immediately respond, he shook his head, brushing her off.

"Don't worry about it, you ain't gotta tell me nothing. I don't mean to pry. I just wanted to make sure you're okay. I'd hate to hear anybody had done something to yah..." His jaw clenched. "If you ever need something from me, no questions asked, you just let me know. Okay?"

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Character Portrait: Lauren Silverstein

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L A U R E N
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Lauren was once someone who only tried to see the good in others but now viewed almost any act of kindness with some suspicion. She didn't trust her judgment in other people, having made too many poor choices in the past, but as she looked at John, she wondered if she was being unduly critical in her apprehensiveness towards him - making him pay for the sins of another so to speak.

They had known each other for months now, and yes, he had obvious feelings towards her but that wasn't any reason to accuse him of manipulation. He was kind to everyone in general, not just her.

She smiled weakly at his offer, turned it over in her head a few times. Then after a few seconds of going back and forth in her mind, she spoke.

"โ€ฆ Jackson and I had a fight last night." her hand closed around the balled up napkin. "He ran off and I can't find him anywhere. I think he may have gone to a friend's in Seattle... But I haven't a clue otherwise where he is."

John was silent for a moment, contemplative. He didn't want to react too soon and reveal his elation over the fact that she had decided to place her trust in him. That would have come off very innappropriately given the subject matter. He wouldn't bother trying to console her by downplaying her concerns. He knew how she was, and it would little placate her. He sighed deciding on a different approach.

"Seattle huh?" He mumbled, running a hand over his coarse stubble. "I used to work Seattle, you know? Course this was back in the day..."

He didn't intend to divigate, he did have a point that he would eventually reach but he had to test her belief in the severity of the situation.

"You want I should put out an APB? We could go over to my office and fill out a report?"

Lauren grew an inch in her seat, her alarm apparent by the suggestion. Now she had put herself in a hot spot. He couldn't put out an APB because it was quite literally impossible. Karen and Jackson Kastner as far as any governmental agency was concerned, didn't exist. They had no physical records of any kind, birth certificates, social security numbers, passports - only forged documents. Her own license she had cooked up by some spotty faced teenager the next town over who made fake IDs for all the kids wanting to by liquor. Surprisingly it was pretty professional compared to a lot of IDs she had forged but still, she wouldn't want anyone taking a hard look at it, just as she didn't want John taking a hard look at her and her son on a computer.

"That's not necessary. I would hate to put you through all that trouble. I'm sure he'll call or something, I should just wait." she said very quickly.

Debbie openly gawked from across the diner, her indignation loud and apparent. "WHAT ARE YOU TALKN' ABOUT?! YOU JUST SAID-" She cut herself off clearing her throat with a poorly placed cough. She shook her head and quickly turned away from them to hide her face. Lauren had given her such a look she must have thought better of continuing.

John let slip a small grin at the sight of her, she was a very dramatic creature. This told him all he needed to know though, and he threw his hands up.

"Alright, alright. No APB. But waiting it out is just gonna stress you to death, trust me. If you don't want to look for him formally, I'd be happy to reach out to some of my contacts back in Seattle. I ain't talk to them for some years, not since the siege, but I'm sure they'd be willing to keep an eye out...you know, discretely." He didn't want to over step but he couldn't help himself. John reached across the table and clasped a hand over hers, giving it a firm shake. "Let me help. Please. I told you I'd look out for him and I meant it. There's some unsavory types out in the city. I wouldn't want him to get mixed up in any of that, not with his penchant for trouble."

Lauren's hand curled under his, but she did not remove it probably much to John's liking. She stared hard at him for a long moment then slowly nodded her head.

"Okay... Okay. You win, I'll accept your help but only in an informal way." She conceded, breathing out a laugh and smiling. When she realized her hand was still under his she withdrew it, tucking her hair behind her ear shy as a schoolgirl. "Thank you, John..."

She then turned in her seat towards Debbie with an arched brow and a smirk.

"And are you satisfied now that I've made myself a complete damsel in distress for poor John to come rescue, hm?"

If smiles could talk, Debbie's returning look would have said as much. A cat that ate the canary, feathers hanging out and all.

"It's settled then." John announced with a clap, and a sigh of relief as Debbie finally swung around with his now room temperature cup of coffee. It didn't matter, he choked it down gratefully thinking it was pretty damn near perfect.