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All Acelyn needed to do was clamp his teeth against his tongue, ground them hard enough so that he didn't feel the need to curse scathingly vulgar words at the nonchalant boy—and yes, to him, he was a boy. Nothing more, nothing less. An irritated chill crept through his body, electrifying through the tips of his fingers, and ending in furious jolts across his spine. His fingers drummed heatedly, eyebrows drawn together in creased vexation. With deliberately slow movements, he brought the steaming mug to his lips and sipped it, relishing the flavour for only a few moments. It wasn't enough to bring his scalding temper down, not nearly enough. He closed his eyes, huffed into his mug, and felt the mocha breath buffet across his sharp features, then placed it down in front of him again, desperately attempting to extinguish the ridiculous hate he felt for Nevada. What had he done exactly? Nothing. It was his personality and complete disregard for people that irked him. It was the fact that he felt like he was better, somehow. He wanted nothing more than to send the table flying across the room, toasty beverages and all, just so he could somehow wrap his fingers around Nevada's slender neck and squeeze; squeeze until he begged for him to stop, and stumbled over himself to apologize. To apologize for being such a horrible human being. To apologize for somehow attracting Astrid's attention.

He recognized the twinkle in Astrid's eyes better than she understood. He understood the many layers of her smiles, and what they meant. Acelyn also understood the terrible effects she had on men, and women, alike. Hypnotizing, engulfing every brain cell in a man's brain until it made him a stuttering, slobbering idiot. She had all of those abilities, and because Nevada wasn't kissing her ass, he was interesting. Astrid was the type of woman that left you guessing, she made you want to discover new definitions for rain and adventure. Instead of paper, her skin was made out of the strongest leather—weathered from experience, tragedies and misinterpretations. Her weapons was her razor tongue, lashing out whenever you thought you got her character. Acelyn glanced at her, still drumming his fingers next to his frappucino. She preferred small and short-lived as apposed to everlasting; did Nevada know that? Doubtfully. He didn't give a shit about anyone besides his brother. He didn't throw his faith onto tightropes, hoping his friends could catch him—did he even have any friends? Acelyn stopped drumming his fingers and leaned forward, staring bleakly at Nevada. He wouldn't have been surprised if he didn't, not with that attitude.

Titania's remarks remained unheard. Maybe if he'd been bothering to pay attention to anyone besides Nevada, he might've laughed. He might've thought it was clever that even the small, adorable boy thought his older brother was being prick. That he was used to him being a prick. But no, he hadn't heard anything. When Astrid snorted, Acelyn's eyebrows uncreased, just a little bit, just enough so that he didn't look like he was going to throw the steaming mug into Nevada's smug face. The idea was tempting enough. He didn't look at anyone else in the River's Brew, and couldn't really be bothered to notice anyone staring in their direction. Right now, they only existed. His flustered anger only existed. Jealousy burdened his shoulders, causing him to slump forward with unrestrained frustration. He felt like fire was burning his ears, sticking to his skin and reminding him that he wasn't the one Astrid wanted to dissect. Not that it really mattered. Astrid knew him inside and out—mostly, and if she didn't understand something, she dug her nails into it until she understood. Sometimes, Acelyn felt like she pushed his buttons on purpose just do see what he'd do; see how angry he'd get, and how far he'd go. He never would've laid a finger on her, but he'd been close a few times. Yelling mere inches from her face. Not because she'd said anything particular, but because his bitterness often bottled itself in booze. Really, it depended on what he drank.

Whoever said breathing exercised worked were liars. Fuck breathing exercises. Making his heart slow down, and his mind get quiet, and his skin feel like it actually fits and that he doesn't want to disintegrate into the puffy seat. It wasn't manageable. He didn't feel like he owned the world anymore, and he didn't feel like Astrid would take it with him; come hell or high water. There was no one else that had the guts to jump out of planes without a second thought, without thinking about whether or not the parachute would actually open. Nevada was threatening something, and he probably didn't even know it. So, when Astrid sighed loudly, plopping her cup down onto the table so that speckles of hot coffee splashed onto his forearm, Acelyn's dusky eyes regarded her. The comforting, lukewarm atmosphere returned to the River's Brew and his inadvertently clenched fists eased out across the table, fanning limply across Lottie's hand. He caught Astrid's wink and stared hard for a moment, then laughed awkwardly before settling back against his seat. There wasn't any point in getting angry, especially not when she was taking everything in ease. He'd lost.

“Yeah?” Acelyn mused, turning his attention towards Astrid. His fingers remained on Lottie's, gently curling his thumb into her palm. If he felt any fluttering feelings in the pit of his stomach, he wasn't letting anything on. The previous slight still felt heavy in his gut, sickening anything sweet. “Take you home?” He sounded incredulous. Honestly, he couldn't even bare saying Nevada's name. It felt like he was saying something disgusting like: cancer, or herpes. Whichever came first. His eyes darted from Astrid to Lottie. He doubted that Astrid really felt bad, because she wasn't the type of woman to feel bad about anything, especially since he'd invited her to the cafe in the first place. But he wasn't stupid. He knew, or thought, she was trying to create an opportunity between him and Lottie. Whatever there was between them, anyway. It could've been nothing. What would she see in him now? He was as drawn as a bowstring, all tense shoulders and rippling volcanoes. Acelyn couldn't find any words; if there were any, they were lodged deep in his throat. His fingers tightened around Lottie's as Astrid rose from her seat, pulling on her coat and snatching her things from the table.

His whole body buzzed with a feeling far too familiar. That feeling that he always got before the world caved in around him. It had happened before, twice. Acelyn knew he was being selfish in ways that didn't make sense. Astrid wasn't his to command, wasn't his to watch, wasn't his to stop her from seeing anyone she wanted to—and he didn't care. Well, he didn't think he did. It was different with Nevada. He was wrong for her. He was wrong for anyone. The sweetly sick tone of Astrid's voice makes him want to vomit. Instead of commenting on it, Acelyn merely waved his fingers towards Titiana and wiggled them. Honestly, he didn't want to look at Astrid and Nevada as they walked away and bristled considerable when he heard Nevada's cool voice slithering from his lips; relaying nothing and giving nothing and emoting nothing. His eyes landed on Lottie and he found himself feeling a little better, just a little. She was a piece of sunshine peeking out from the clouds, offering everything. She was so unlike Nevada.

"Come on then, Astrid. Maybe I should drop Titania off back at my place and we can spend the evening together."

Acelyn's jaw clenched, muscles jumping along his temple. He always walked a fine line between panic and control, and successfully hid it all behind anger and sarcasm; charismatic nonchalance with a twinge of sincere, genuine kindness. His eyes avoided Lottie's for a moment; confusion covering his face like a mask. He blinked once, twice, three times, knowing full well that she was watching him intently, but didn't look up – he couldn't look at her. Nevada's statement hung dry like a corpse, cutting through the tension and adding layers upon layers of contained fury.

“I'm sorry,” the Professor finally mouthed, pulling his hand away from hers so that he could tangle his fingers on top of the table. “He's—...” He laughed softly, running his fingers through his dark hair. “He's a shitty guy, really.”