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Snippet #2732301

located in Pennsylvania, a part of Bellingstone, PA, one of the many universes on RPG.

Pennsylvania

None

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Axel Wolff Character Portrait: Albrecht Wolff Character Portrait: Ivan Moreau Character Portrait: Poppy Clarke Character Portrait: Ellis Bleddyn Character Portrait: Carwyn Pryderi
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”…all she can see is a sea of stars in front of her. Just an eerie sort of blackness, you know? And there’s a faint music swirling up from somewhere in the depths of it all, along with some amorphous blobs she can’t quite make out. And that’s how chapter eight will end. Is that alright?”

This morning in Bellingstone found Ellis pacing the floors of his kitchen, bare feet plodding a repetitious path over the linoleum. He had a tendency to walk when he spoke on the phone, too anxious as a person and too enthusiastic about what he was saying to even consider standing still.

He was speaking into his old cellphone, one so ancient in the fast terms of modern technology that it probably predated even the dated flip phone, his tone soft and tired but lined with sparks of excitement. In his other hand he held a cup of iced tea, sickeningly sweet in a way that only a true Southerner could stand to enjoy, which he gestured with enthusiastically and sporadically.

“I don’t know, Ellis. Is it alright?” the voice on the other end of the line hummed almost instantly, more teasing than critical. “Isn’t that a bit too weird? Will people really like that?”

“Weird?” Ellis sounded wounded, despite the tone. The tea in his glass sloshed around as he slumped against his refrigerator. It was a bit dramatic as far as gestures go, but it's not like anyone was there to judge him for it. “Really? I… Well, I thought it was a bit weird, sure, but maybe… God, Mary, if I cut that part, I’m going to have to change the book’s ending, and-”

Thick, warm laughter erupted from his phone, and his pitiful frown turned into a scowl. Oh, right. He'd forgotten who he was speaking to. When having a conversation with Mary Carter, you had to understand that there was always a target on your back for her teasing, sharp words.

“Oh, ha, ha, Mary. Laugh it up. Gonna give me a heart attack one of these days.”

“Oh, don’t be like that. You know better than to say things like ‘is that alright’ to me, like you’re not a published author. Stop pretending you're not brilliant, idiot,” Mary replied fondly. Ellis wasn't quite sure how she came under the impression that he wasn't a hapless idiot because, in all reality, he was. He was a self-conscious weirdo about everything he did. Honestly, sometimes he was anxious about his own breathing, wondering if it was too loud in public or over the phone. Take that general anxiety and multiply it by about hundred, and you were left with how he felt about his own writing. He was still waiting for the other shoe to drop and for the world to figure out that he was a hack. There was no other way to explain his good luck and success other than as a cruel practical joke by some deity (with his luck it was probably one of the asshole gods too, like Loki or Hera).

"You've made some good progress though, Ellis. Especially after everything." Her tone dropped down, suddenly worried and sympathetic. "How are you really feeling Ellis? Is there anything I can do for you?"

How was Ellis feeling? Confused, conflicted, angry, sad, desperate, tired... A whole menagerie of unpleasant emotions on top of the dull ache and occasional sharp sting that knitted itself through his shoulder and back at the most inopportune moments. But he couldn't say that, couldn't get into anything even nearing the truth. He'd fed Mary and anyone else who asked a story about a wildcat attack, and they believed it well enough. Why wouldn't they? Bizarre things tended to follow Ellis like a plague. It was no more difficult to believe than the time he'd gotten trapped in a wall trying to get a squirrel out of his house or when a lamb had tried to pick a fight with him.

That a mountain lion had been near a small town and eager to harass Ellis was easier to believe than the reality, anyways, although it had been all he could do to keep Mary and his parents from taking Bellingstone by storm to drag off their wayward writer. He couldn't see any of them right now, no matter how desperate he was for some familiar company. Everything was still too new, and it was all he could do to adjust on his own without the pressure of over-doting friends and family. It honestly made him uncomfortable when people worried about him too much. It wasn't that he didn't understand the desire because he worried about himself all of the time. It was just a bit unsettling that people actually cared enough.

"You could let me take a break to work on my chapter on kelpies," Ellis said, trying to force his tired voice into something light-hearted. No need to make Mary even more worried than she was. "In fact, the book that I've been trying to find- you know, The Water People? The one that's been out of print since 1850? Bellingstone's library actually has a copy. God knows how, but they do. I'll be stopping by later today to take a look at it." Or maybe it wasn't too terribly amazing. That they had a copy of an old book was hardly the most surprising thing about a library run by an unnervingly attractive vampire (vampires. Ha. Good thing he hadn't tried to write any books on those or he'd be too embarrassed to ever venture out to the local library).

"You're going out? On your own? Are you sure you're feeling alright?" Mary laughed.

"Honestly, Mary. I can be social if I want. In fact, if you must know, I may be seeing some acquaintances of mine later," Ellis said loftily. He knew he was laying it on a bit thick, but Mary seemed far too amused by the idea of him willingly socializing to go back to her concerned questions.

"Is it the dishy diner guy? Please tell me it's the dishy diner guy."

Ellis rolled his eyes. "I said Axel was handsome once, Mary. Once. When I was drugged out on painkillers and God knows what else. Besides, the man's got half the town running after his tail-" he snorted a little at his own secret pun, "and he's not exactly my type."

"And what is your type, then?" asked Mary.

"Well, someone I'm certain isn't completely straight, for one." The two burst into laughter, finally back to a more companionable conversation. Smooth, Ellis. He deserved an award for that crafty misdirection. He couldn't tell her his other objections, anyways. It's a bit difficult to explain dynamics like Alpha Wolves and Pack Leaders when one can't even bring up the whole werewolf thing.

"But, no. I was... Actually considering popping in at the, uh, the diner. I need to go grocery shopping and, well, you know... And then, ah, maybe texting the girl I met in the classics section. Poppy? I know we've only known each for such a little while, but after everything that's happening around here, I guess... Well, I mean to say-"

"That's sweet that you're worried about her. I'm sure she'd appreciate you checking in, even if it's just a text." Ellis could practically feel her approval over the phone.

"You don't think it would be too weird? Like I'm sticking my nose into someone else's business?" asked Ellis, biting his bottom lip. He wasn't exactly the best at socializing, but Poppy had been one of the few people outside of the Pack who'd bothered speaking with him so far, even with everything that had happened to her recently.

"Sweetie, if anyone thought that, you'd be better off not being friends with them anyways."

There was a moment of contented silence before Ellis heard a knocking on Mary's side of the phone followed by a muffled conversation.

"Oh, sorry, Ellis," Mary said after a moment. "Pete's summoning me for brunch. He sends his love, by the way."

"Sure he does." Despite the sarcasm dripping from his words, Ellis was sure Pete- practical, sweet Pete who kept both his wife Mary and adopted problem-friend Ellis in check when their combined idiosyncrasies threatened to burn the world around them- had actually said that verbatim. He was just that kind of guy. "And tell him I send mine."

"Will do. Enjoy your day of nerdlyness and socializing, you dork."

"Enjoy your brunch, basic white girl."

Ellis hung up first, fighting back a yawn. He hadn't slept much last night, too busy trying to play catch-up on his books to even consider taking a break to sleep. It was a bit ironic, honestly, that he'd come to Bellingstone for a bit of peace and quiet while he wrote and had wound up spending most of his time licking his own wounds (metaphorically, of course. Well, at least in his human form) and trying to even vaguely comprehend the reality that many of the people around him, including himself, weren't quite human. Or human at all, in some cases.

His eyes darted over to the clock above his kitchen table, and a dull sort of anxiety settled in his stomach. Should he leave the house today? He didn't have to, technically. It wasn't like his library book was going to go anywhere, and he was sure he had enough snacks in the pantry to keep him fed for awhile longer. Plus, he'd never actually told anything in the pack that he'd stop by today, and Poppy surely had other things to worry about. Not to mention the fact that there was no Pack meeting that he knew of...

No. He wouldn't fall into that trap again. Whether he liked it or not, Bellingstone was his home for the time being, at least until his rental period was up and he got used to the whole werewolf thing, and goodness knows how long that would take. He should at least attempt to be polite, even if that meant stepping out of his comfort zone.

With all of the determination he could muster, he finished his tea and wandered into his bedroom to get ready. Today was a comfort day, he realized, bypassing the interestingly patterned scarves and shirts in favor of broken-in jeans and a soft gray t-shirt. He hesitated for a moment, eying his bedroom mirror before pulling on an olive green jacket. While it wasn't a cold day, he could still see the raw, red scarring poking out from his sleeve, an aching, menacing reminder. He couldn't, he just couldn't-

Ellis took a wobbly breath, slipping on his shoes and running a hand through his hair. Good enough. It wasn't like he had anyone to impress (besides, his mind unhelpfully supplied, everybody he saw). If he thought about it anymore, he might not leave the house after all.

The nice thing about Bellingstone was that it was possible to walk just about anywhere you wanted to go if you had a bit of time, and the Escape Bar and Grill was no exception, even if Ellis had only been there once or twice before. The town itself was lovely too, scenic in a way that had Ellis a bit homesick for his mountainous hometown. Well, the nature bit, not the people bit. At least in Bellingstone he had a fifty-fifty chance of not being recognized as that one guy who got attacked by a wild animal on his first night in town.

That being said, fifty-fifty still wasn't the best odds. He pulled out his phone, more to pretend to be busy and avoid conversation with others wandering about the town today. One could only imagine his surprise when his phone let out a sudden ring, one of those stock ringtones that had once been annoying but was now almost unbearable with Ellis's enhanced hearing. He fumbled with the device, pulling up the text screen with a few clumsy movements.

From: Poppy
Hey you! <3 Wanna link up later? Got some stuff to clean up first tho


Ellis blinked for a moment, stopping in the middle of the sidewalk before a small but entirely sincere smile tugged on his lips. Poppy had insisted on exchanging phone numbers with him the second time they'd met, and she'd quickly shown herself to be charm and genuine warmth itself. They hadn't seen each other much since Ellis had arrived in Bellingstone, their conversations fluctuating with certain events that had rocked their respective lives within the past month. He'd never been quite sure if it was a misguided attempt at kindness or an actual desire to speak with him that had prompted her to actually pursue a conversation with him, but he was grateful for whatever it was. The Pack was... nice, but they were overbearing in a very real way. Poppy was outside of that, a sanctuary of something a little normal (well, more normal than most of them) in this very odd town.

To: Poppy
Hello, Poppy. I would love to. Tell me when and where, and I'll be there.


He typed every word out in a slow, painstaking way, more to do with his technological ineptitude than his mounting hesitation. He paused for a moment before adding-

To: Poppy
I promise I didn't mean for that to rhyme.


-just for good measure. He hit send and immediately tucked his phone away. It was easier not to dwell on the reply that may or may not come if he wasn't keeping an eye on his phone.

Which was when he realized that he was closer to the diner than he'd initially thought and that he certainly wasn't alone on the city street. A little ways ahead, two figures were sitting on a park bench, apparently enjoying what this Saturday had to offer. They were strangers to Ellis, which wasn't terribly surprising given his general newness to the town and the fact that the thought of interacting with strangers on purpose made him cringe.

Why was everyone in Bellingstone so damn attractive? That was Ellis's first thought when he spotted the giant of a man speaking with a sweet faced woman. It was like watching models converse, or at least models who had interesting things to say.

His second thought, however, was something more akin to, "What on Earth is that smell?"

His nostrils flared, and his steps faltered for a brief moment, eyes darting over to the man specifically. That wasn’t a scent that he’d been expecting.

It was rather embarrassing, in Ellis’s opinion, that of all of the senses that could have started to sharpen first, it had to have been his sense of smell. Maybe he’d been dreaming too big when he’d hoped for night vision or super healing, and the punishment for his hubris was having to wear a medical mask for at least a week, too overwhelmed by even the softest of scents to breathe without any sort of barrier. It had been a sad day indeed when he had had to put all of his scented candles out in his shed, their once comforting scents sickening for a time as he adjusted to his new sense of self.

He’d adjusted, in the end, and differentiating smells was easier for him now. For example, in Eliss’s mind vampires generally tended to smell a little clinical, very clean with a sharp tang of iron (there was also something else there too, like spice and old books, but that was possibly just Ivan Moreau). Werewolves, on the other hand, smelled more like the Earth, all dirt and fallen leaves as undertones to whatever other perfumes or colognes they had on. That’s what he was smelling right now, from this stranger, and that was odd indeed.

Ellis hadn’t heard about any werewolves outside of the Pack (and it was always Pack with a capital P in his mind) in Bellingstone, and, alright, he was new, but Axel had been pretty clear that he was the local Alpha Male and had failed to mention any lone wolves roaming nearby, and…

Oh, God, he was staring at them both. Ellis’s face flushed red in embarrassment. He tried to alleviate his own inherent awkwardness with a polite smile, failed when it turned into a slightly pleasant grimace, and promptly picked up his pace, attempting to pass by. Haha, pay no attention to the weird man who didn't know how to function. Oh, God, why had he left home today again? The diner, a place that filled him with many mixed emotions, was beginning to look like an absolute safe haven.