Snippet #2630018

located in Laurea, New York, a part of Laurel, one of the many universes on RPG.

Laurea, New York

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sterling Walker Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov
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      XXX
      XXX
      XXX"Did you see that?"
      XXX"I know. She completely freaked out."
      XXX"...crazy. Didn't think anything phased her."
      XXX"But damn, she was pretty hot. I dig the vulnerable, helpless hottie thing she's got going on lately."
      XXX"Better not say that too loud. You heard what happened to Cam."
      XXX"The Ice Queen isn't so cold after all."
      XXX"Or at least not as cold as Daniel."
      XXX"He was pretty badass. I'm jealous."
      XXX"Of the Queen Bee? Who isn't?"
      XXX"...and Sterling. They say she did a 360 after he, like, ditched her."
      XXX"Who wouldn't? She's a bitch."
      XXX"A bitch I'd bang!"
      XXX"Ew, shut up, Mike."
      XXX"Hey, a body like that needs to be shared. Babe's got legs for days and a tight little-"
      XXXSterling steps around the corner and the group of students from his mixed martial arts class still. Their eyes fly to one another before they shuffle aside to let him pass. The remnants of their conversation echo down the winding halls like a trail of breadcrumbs. He levels a steely gaze at them. There is a pause as they hover uncomfortably, waiting for Sterling to pass or swing one of them into the chandelier hovering overhead. Finally, Sterling speaks.
      XXX"Mmm, you're assuming she would give you the time of day, Mike," he says cooly.
      XXXSterling sees Mike tense. His jaw works and his lips curl back. A blonde with large, brown eyes places a hand on his bicep. "Mike, don't," she whispers urgently.
      XXX"Get off your high horse, Walker. You're as much her bitch as Ahn is."
      XXX"Oh, now that's just rude," Sterling says quietly. His eyes gleam. "Comparing me to an emotionless product of government experimentation."
      XXX"We all know you can't call dibs on her body. She's fair game for anyone." Mike lifts his chin, and though he may be stockier than Sterling, he's shorter still. A cocky grin spreads across his face. "An open buffet, am I right?"
      XXX"Mike!" the girl beside him gasps. His friends take a step back and their faces are tense, as if bracing for what they know will come next.
      XXXSsscccrrrccciiiccckkk!
      XXXShards of glass rain down on them as the chandelier above them explodes into hundreds of tiny fragments. The students below cower and squeal, jerking away from where Sterling has Mike shoved against the wall. Mike's feet dangle above the floor and his eyes widen as Sterling brings his face level to his own. Sterling has one arm pressed over Mike's chest and the other hand bunched around the front of Mike's shirt.
      XXX"Listen very carefully," he begins, an almost maniacal gleam lighting his pale eyes. "If I ever see you so much as breathing in her direction or hear you talking about Nina - or anyone - like that again, I'll rip your oesophagus from your throat and make a necklace of your entrails. Capisce?"
      XXXHe releases Mike suddenly and the boy drops to the ground. Sterling runs his fingers through his platinum hair to shake a few glass shards from between the locks. He tucks his hands in his pocket and grins.
      XXX"Nice talk," he says, and walks away.

      XXXThe cafeteria is empty when Sterling arrives save for a janitor, the servers and a few students skipping class or arriving from mixed martial arts. He rubs a thumb over his lower lip, shoulders flexing as he thrusts his hands into his pockets. What was he thinking? He'd gotten away with a lot before, but threatening a student and damaging property probably wasn't the best way to get out of the principal's hit list.
      XXXBut more than that - what was he doing defending Nina? He hadn't last semester when he returned after three years to find Nina irrevocably changed. He hadn't yesterday when Cameron grabbed her. He'd been content to let Daniel take the place he no longer wanted - the one by her side. What changed since then?
      XXX"The she becomes an it. An object to be vandalised, humiliated and discarded."
      XXXHer speech. Her speech changed everything. And moments before, when she shook in his hands like she was truly, wholly petrified.
      XXX"There is no glory for the victim of sexual violence. They are dirty. Broken. A shell stripped of its pearl. Empty."
      XXXSterling drags a hand over his face, as if to wipe any trace of Nina's words, but his mind fixates on them like a song it can't escape. Over and over again, he sees her eyes. Moss green eyes. Eyes like rain. Haunted eyes. Eyes devoid of hope. He hears her voice, hears her choke. Hears her scream and crack and fracture like a fissure running through dry earth and broken bones.
      XXXHe hears his footsteps. Hears himself leave. Hears the silence that follows in his wake.
      XXXHe does not hear the song that played when they met, because he does not remember it. But he's remembered every song since they were apart.
      XXXSo lost in his reverie, he does not notice that the dining hall has filled. Students chatter and mill about, dowsing themselves in the gossip that prevails the high school like the plague. Nina is nowhere to be seen. He's relieved. And then he's guilty for being relieved.
      XXXWhy?
      XXXHe knows when Nina is coming because heads turn. They always do when she walks past. It's the high school equivalent of bowing to a monarch, he supposes. Her earlier anxiety is all but gone. Her glossy dark hair cascades down her back in careful ringlets. Her legs are clad in jet black gladiators that match her long sleeved black blouse and wind around her smooth skin before halting just below her knees. Her skirt sways as she walks, the deep green complimenting her sultry gaze. A sultry gaze aimed directly at him.
      XXXSurprise flickers over his features before he sets his expression into one that imparts absolutely nothing. For the first time, he does not goad her. Instead he flicks his gaze away, finding a fascinating speck on the wall to glare at instead. Something akin to shame slithers in his gut, and he has no idea why. Or, well, he can think of many why's. Too many.
      XXX"Sterling, darling," she purrs. She's so close, Sterling can feel her winter mint breath - that does not hide the undertone of alcohol - brushing the edge of his ear. "You were so quick to escape, I could scarcely call for a rematch."
      XXX"No point in a rematch when I'll win anyway," Sterling manages. He clenches his hand, glad at least that his wit has not fled him. He feels, rather than sees, Nina grin.
      XXX"Or," she starts. "Perhaps you're scared of being pummelled by a little girl?" she muses, quoting Jet. Sterling jerks when cool fingers graze his temple. "Mmm, this will leave quite the satisfactory bruise."
      XXXFinally, Sterling turns to Nina, and the sight of her makes his breath catch. Her eyes - as big as they ever were, doe eyes and pouty lips, like a doll - are staring straight at him. Through him. He glances at the hand she brought to his temple, where her sleeve slipped back, and the air leaves his lungs in a whoosh. Five long lines drag from her wrist to disappear beneath her sleeves. Scratches.
      XXX"Did I do that to you?" he breathes.
      XXXThe smile falls from her lips for a fraction of a second, and then she shrugs, the self-confident grin returning to her lips. "Sure," she says simply.
      XXX"God, Nina, I didn't-"
      XXX"We like it rough," she says, loud enough for the students around them to hear as she turns to give her audience a glimpse. They chuckle. She beams, wiggling her fingers and testing her wrists - both scratched - before turning away.
      XXXSterling catches Nina's hand gently in his own and turns them over, inspecting the cuts. "Nina, you have to know I never would've-" The movement shifts Nina's bracelet. The light catches on the kaleidoscopic hues embedded beneath the intentional cracks spiralling through the sterling silver bracelet. Sterling's eyes widen. It's the bracelet he got for his first birthday with her. "To remember me by," he'd said then. She still has it. She still wears it. How had he never noticed? I've been looking, but I haven't been seeing her.
      XXXBut the movement of the bracelet reveals the raised scar pressed to the base of her palm and wrist. He remembers the scar from the fire. It hasn't faded in three years. Nina snatches her hand away and turns away from him with an air of nonchalance, as if forgetting the significance of the bracelet, or what he'd done and seen. She says nothing else to him, instead turning to her Influentials. She smiles and they melt. Students rush to please her, placing the food before her on a silver platter - literally - as she launches into an animated story they laugh at.
      XXXSterling stares. Stunned.
      XXXAnd feeling more regret than he did when he left.

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