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William Hodge

"I must do what is right."

0 · 224 views · located in Modern Wild West

a character in “A Handful of Dust”, as played by Army.of.One

Description

William Jacob Hodge

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Name:
William Hodge “Will is fine too.”

Role:
Male 1

Age:
26

Occupation:
Leader of the town

Likes:
+ Women “I’m still a guy.”
+ Obedience ”If I’m going to be a leader, I want to be followed.”
+ Sophia Hope ”Things may have been hard, and she may have been stolen from me, but I still want her.”
+ Control ”I like when things are in order.”
+ Doing the right thing ”As the leader, it is my job.”
+ Guns ”I like shooting and they help keep order.”
+ Horses ”I even own my own, his name is Jack.”
+ Children ”I want to have my own someday.”
+ Working hard ”Otherwise nothing would get done.”
+ Reading ”The more I can learn, the better leader I will become.”
+ Music ”It’s nice to sit back, listen, and not have to worry sometimes.”

Dislikes:
+ Alcohol ”I always need to keep a clear head.”
+ Maisy Cartwright ”She is not entitled to as much as she thinks she is.”
+ Disobedience ”I hate being disobeyed. It seriously angers me.”
+ The Saloon ”I don’t need to be tempted by alcohol or showgirls.”
+ Leaving Dust ”The town is safe and only trouble lies outside its borders.”
+ Wes, his brother ”He has no appreciation for authority or family.”
+ Strangers ”They are not allowed to enter the town.”
+ Having to be hard on his townspeople ”Sometimes I have to do it, but I do not like it.”

Fears:
+ That the town of Dust will fall apart and be destroyed under his watch.
+ Not finding that woman he can call his own.
+ That he is not strong enough for the position he was given.
+ Tight, enclosed spaces.

Dreams
+ To be a good leader that is well liked and keep his townspeople safe.
+ To get along with his brother and have them treat each other like family.
+ Getting married and having a family.

Personality:
Will always tries his hardest to be a fair, just man and to be good to the townspeople. Not everyone in the town agrees with his view of himself, however. He’s not always successful, and sometimes makes mistakes. He is human after all. But the fact that he tries so hard is why the townspeople believe in him. He has worked extremely hard trying to make the town safe for everyone. Sometimes his rules are tight, and he has to be harsh, but it is only for everyone’s safety. He hopes that someday they will realize his motives behind everyone.

Will sometimes feels extremely lonely, having no family to turn to. His parents died when he was eighteen, and after his brother stole his fiancée, he no longer wanted anything to do with him. Being the leader of the town, he doesn’t exactly have many friends either. Most of the townspeople see him as a superior instead of an equal.

Order and control are what Will strives for and desires. He gets highly upset when someone doesn’t follow his rules or doesn’t treat him with respect. If someone seriously betrays him, like his brother for instance, Will has a hard time ever trusting that individual again and can hold a grudge for a seriously long time. He hates everything to do with the wilderness, mostly because it was the cause of the deadly disease that took his parents away, and forbids anyone to go beyond the borders of Dusk. He will not permit any strangers from beyond the border to enter their town, because they cannot be trusted. He wants to keep the town locked down so it can have a future, and their descendants will have a safe place to live as well.

Sometimes Will wishes he didn’t have this huge responsibility on his shoulders, and wants to just throw it all away. He wishes and longs for the opportunity to act a little wild and crazy, although he would never admit it to anyone out loud. However, he knows that it is not possible for him to just give up his life as it is. What would happen to everyone he has cared for and strives to protect? It’s not an easy life, but it might be that he is the only one right for the job.

Background:
William was the first born son of two very respected townspeople in Dust. They were some of the first original settlers of the town, and were much loved by everyone. When his parents revealed to him that he was going to have a younger brother, he was ecstatic at the thought. And when Wesley was finally born, Will’s thoughts didn’t change. He instantly became the protective big brother, and stayed that way for a majority of his childhood.

Things of course changed as he grew older, and spent more time with his parents based on their wishes. He was one of the oldest of his generation, and they wanted him to be prepared to take over the town when they were gone. He didn’t really understand why they begun at such a young age, for his parents were still quite young themselves, and should be around for quite a long time. But fate had a different plan.

Will was just becoming a man and had celebrated his eighteenth birthday when his parents fell deathly ill. He had to sit by and watch them slowly die. When they finally passed, it hit him hard, and he was struck with a major amount of grief. It took him days to finally realize that they were some of the last adults left, and it was time for him to take charge. He met some resistance when he first decided to start acting like the leader, but soon everyone warmed up to the idea. He wasn’t sure whether it was because they thought he was a good fit, or they just didn’t want the job themselves. Either way he was following his parents’ wishes.

For the first few years it was hard, and he didn’t know if he had the strength to carry on, especially for the rest of his life. However, then Sophia Hope entered his life, and everything changed. She gave him hope and courage, and he loved her more than he ever thought he could love. Things stayed blissfully happy for awhile, and they even became engaged, both of them looking forward to a life of marriage. But it couldn’t last. Arguing became common, and things only kept escalating. The relationship ended with her leaving, and even though things were rough, it still broke his heart. Not to mention, right after their break up, his brother swooped in and took her away. Needless to say, Will was furious, and didn’t want anything to do with his brother after that point.

Will now solely focuses on his work and being the best leader he can be. He tries to stay away from love, because it hurt him so much the first time.

So begins...

William Hodge's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sophia Hope Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Aaron "Sullivan" Character Portrait: Wesley Hodge Character Portrait: William Hodge Character Portrait: Maisy Cartwright
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It was early, but William had been awake for hours. Sleep wasn't coming to him easily. These newcomers to town had turned everything upside down. He wanted to do what was best for the townspeople. He had sworn to protect them at all costs. Sure, these scrappers didn't seem threatening, but it wasn't that easy. He wanted to be fair, but there were so many angles to this problem. If they were dangerous to the town, how could he throw them out, knowing the female was heavily pregnant and ready to give birth any day. He would be sending her out to her death. He didn't know how to make the right decision for everyone involved. Someone was going to get hurt, and it was going to fall on his shoulders alone.

When they had first appeared, he had felt sympathy. They seemed sincere in their plea for help, but how could he trust them? The pregnant woman and her husband weren't his concern. It was the third traveler, the woman's brother that truly gave him pause. He seemed slightly more wild and less willing to follow the rules. He would have to be watched. But as they showed up on the outskirts of Dust, it had been up to William to give an order. So he had done the only thing he could think of at the time. Leave it up to the townspeople to vote. It was only fair, and allowed everyone to have their voice heard. But he knew those who were disappointed afterwards would trace the blame back to him.

Running his hands through his hair, he pushed himself away from his desk and out of the chair, and began pacing back and forth in his cramped office. He swore his hairs would turn gray by the end of this week. He left the office and headed for his room, deciding it was finally time to start his daily morning walk of the town. It wasn't required of him, but it made him feel like he was actively keeping everyone safe by patrolling the border. It felt as if it was the right thing to do. So he quickly prepared himself for the day and stepped outside. Thankfully it was still cool, and he preferred to be up and have the perimeter walked before it got too warm outside.

His house, which was his parents before, was located directly in the center of town. It certainly wasn't the biggest, but he liked being located where everywhere was easily accessible, and he could watch the comings and goings at the shops. He certainly didn't need a large house anyway, sine it was only him. He had once hoped to start a beautiful life with Sophia in that house, but things had definitely not turned out that way. He pushed the thought to the back of his mind, not wanting to relive that memory so early in the morning. He decided to start his walk by the little shack the newcomers had decided to inhabit, so he started in that direction. The walk would take him directly past the shops, and most importantly Sophia's cafe, and he hoped he would get the chance to see her. Perhaps even talk to her alone.

But fate was not going his way today.

Not only was Sophia's cafe bustling with activity, but his brother Wes was there. His own brother who had stolen Sophia from him. He could feel the anger rising in his stomach, and felt the urge to go over and yell, "Why? Why would you do that to your one and only brother?!" He still didn't understand, and it had happened long enough ago. To make things worse, Wes was sitting with the one person William truly despised in this town. Maisy Cartwright. She was a young girl who felt entitled to everything just because her 'daddy' was the founder of the town. In truth, she had done nothing to actually help progress the town, and spent her days walking around acting like she had authority.

Wes and Maisy seemed to have formed a bond over their hatred for him. There wasn't a pair that deserved each other more, in his opinion. Breaking his train of thought, Marley ran into the picture and plopped down beside Wes at the table. Will felt a pang of loneliness, watching them all sit together. He knew he couldn't walk over, because he wouldn't be welcomed. That's how it was for most of the townspeople. He couldn't become their friends, because he was also their leader. He made himself look away, and saw Aaron a little ways away. Just the perfect man William wanted to see. Someone he could just talk business with.He quickly made his way over, and gave Aaron a small clap on the back. "Good to see you're back." He knew Aaron left frequently, and while he openly discouraged it, he wasn't going to tell the man he couldn't leave. That wasn't the ruler he wanted to become. "I need to pick your brain, if you don't mind."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Aaron "Sullivan" Character Portrait: William Hodge
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Aaron "Sullivan"


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Aaron walked behind Marley as she ran into the cafe, however, William's presence came to be more immediate as Marley ran inside. Will was competent and virtuous indeed, and as he was in a way thrown into the position of leading the town, Aaron never thought that Will fully understood the present circumstances of reality. Though, Aaron knew it was more important to stabilize town supplies before altering the government structure, and never spoke much of his views of the town. Whoever led Dust held, politically, absolute power, and if abused, may lead to the unfortunate event of townspeople being discontented and result in some sort of physical rebellion. After the society-destroying pandemic, no one could afford this.

"Good to see you're back," Will said. Aaron knew he disapproved of his traveling, he'd call it, but it didn't make a difference to him. "I need to pick your brain a bit, if you don't mind." Perhaps the situation was coming a bit worrisome to Will and he was just looking for advisory of some sort. It didn't make a difference to Aaron, he'd be glad to help with whatever Will needed of him.

"Not at all, Will, just I need to eat something before I do much else. I haven't eaten breakfast yet but I just walked six miles back to the town. C'mon, let's go get something; I was about to go eat something with Marley, and we can talk over food or whatever, doesn't make much of a difference to me. Besides, I bet you haven't eaten either," Aaron said, leading Will towards the cafe.

Having studied history in his free time, Aaron knew that the line between being a leader and part of the group you're leading takes away from the informality you can resort to with them. He experienced this as a town guard, as some of the people he lived with as a child did get into trouble later in life, perhaps with alcohol or overreacting, and he couldn't deal with them as a friend, he had to diffuse the situation as more of a professional. He kept notes on everyone in the back of his mind, because at any time he could be called upon to restrain or incapacitate someone. The town's structure didn't exactly work out for Will, as everything rested on his shoulders always, and no one put effort to try and change it, not even Aaron, and he knew it.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sophia Hope Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Aaron "Sullivan" Character Portrait: Wesley Hodge Character Portrait: William Hodge Character Portrait: Maisy Cartwright
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William stole a glance at the cafe, feeling his palms becoming sweaty. He really shouldn't be this nervous about just going over and having to talk with people. Except he was extremely nervous. Not only was he worried about making a good impression in front of Sophia, which he always attempted to do thew few times they were together, but one wrong word or move could mean the destruction of his leadership and authority. And with his brother over there, it was highly likely it wouldn't end pretty. He looked back at Aaron, who finally responded. "Not at all, Will, just I need to eat something before I do much else. I haven't eaten breakfast yet but I just walked six miles back to the town. C'mon, let's go get something; I was about to go eat something with Marley, and we can talk over food or whatever, doesn't make much of a difference to me. Besides, I bet you haven't eaten either."

Well... that totally backfired William thought as he watched Aaron take off for the cafe. That was the one place he didn't want to have to go. Yes, it was true, he was extremely hungry. But why couldn't they have eaten practically anywhere else in the entire town of Dust? Even eating at the little shack with the newcomers sounded preferable right about then. But, he could't exactly get out of it. So, with a large sigh he started over towards the cafe. Just as he was walking over, he saw Sophia emerge from inside with a bunch of good-looking pastries. He knew she was the best cook in the entire town of Dust, having gotten to eat her meals every single night when they were engaged.

She looked absolutely beautiful - he thought she always did - and he paused for a second just to watch her. She had a smile on her face, and was happily chatting with everyone. Even though she had been through so much hurt in the past few years, she still managed to be positive. She was still one of the brightest lights in the entire town, and it was hard not to feel comfortable and happy in her presence. Of course, it hadn't always been sunshine and rainbows in their relationship either. Behind closed doors they had some of the worst fights. Even now, Will regretted some of the things he had said to her in his anger. Parts of him understood why she left him, but others wished she had never left.

He continued walking until he made it over to the table. Out of some stroke of luck, Maisy had gotten up and left the table while he had been reminiscing of Sophia. He turned to see that she was hurrying away from the cafe, and wondered what had happened. Her normally calm demeanor had shattered. He would bet money that Wes had something to do with it. He was always getting those sorts of reactions from women.

Will would have preferred to sit at a table alone, but knew Aaron was going to want to sit next to Marley, so he grudgingly sat down at the crowded table, leaving a seat empty on either side of him. This is going to be torture... He pushed all his negativity out of his mind and gave the group a small smile. "Good morning, everyone," he said, slowly meeting eyes with everyone at the table. Sophia had brought quite a few pastries out, and just the sight of them made his stomach growl with hunger. So he quickly grabbed one and took a bite, savoring just how delicious it was.

He kept his eyes down towards his plate, slowly eating his pastry. He wanted to talk with Aaron, but not with so many people around. He wanted to discuss the newcomers, but didn't exactly feel like hearing everyone's opinions right now. He heard a chair scooting out, and looked up to see Wes was standing. In his eyes was a look of pure hatred. They just stared at each other for a few seconds, as if willing the other to say something. Wes was the one to break the stare, as he turned and ran off without saying a word.

William's body relaxed; he hadn't even realized how tense he was. Now he only had to worry about Sophia, and it would be much easier to be a gentleman with his brother out of the picture. He looked up at her and smiled warmly. "This is really delicious, Sophia," he said, trying to start any sort of conversation with her.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sophia Hope Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Wesley Hodge Character Portrait: William Hodge Character Portrait: Maisy Cartwright
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As Wes looked over at Maisy, he noticed warmth spreading throughout her cheeks, and he smirked. She abruptly stood up, practically knocking the chair over, and the smile disappeared from his face. What was she doing? The prim and proper Miss Maisy was falling apart in front of his eyes. “I um need to go.” She spoke hurriedly and then turned and walked off. She didn't even finish her food. He had expected her to ignore his pursuit, but this reaction was a complete surprise. Women just didn't behave that way around him. He felt the urge to go after her, but something held him in his chair.

Just then Sophia returned with his tea and pastry, and she set it down in front of him. He grabbed the cup and took a sip of the tea, really needing the caffeine. His eyes drifted back towards Maisy, who was now getting farther and farther away from the cafe. ”Where did Maisy go..?" The sentence made Wes turn his eyes to Sophia, to notice she was staring at him with a smile. ”You didn’t scare her off did you?" Secretly he knew that it was indeed himself that had caused her to leave, but he certainly wasn't going to admit it.

“Must have!” Marley piped in, grinning just as big as Sophia. The pair of them were enjoying this just a little too much. He feigned a look of shock. "Why Sophia, Marley, why would you ever think it was me? I attract girls, not repel them!" He chuckled, sipping more of his tea. He set the cup down on the table with a little clink, and leaned back into his chair, looking comfortable. He smirked, focusing on Sophia. "Maybe your pastry just didn't agree with her stomach." He reached forward and took a bite of his own, chewing slowly and savoring it. After he swallowed, he paused, looking from Marley to Sophia, and back again. "She's crazy, though, because it's amazing." He laughed, then leaned forward and took another bite.

His good mood instantly shattered when his brother came into view and sat down at his table. Immediately his smile disappeared, a frown taking its place. "Good morning, everyone." Wes didn't hesitate. He jumped out of his chair, knocking it over. William's eyes rose, and their gazes locked. Wes had the urge to jump forward and give his brother a swift jab to the face. But he just stood still, staring back. Finally, before he did anything rash, he grabbed his tea, chugged it quickly, grabbed his pastry and stalked away from the table.

For a moment, he was blinded by his rage. He always avoided his brother, and William did the same. Wes had no idea what would have made his brother sit down at that table. They hadn't spoken one word to each other since the night Wes had been kicked out of their family's home. Hell, he'd barely even seen his brother in the past few years. Just seeing him made every negative feeling regarding his brother. All of the jealousy and anger as a child, when his parents chose to spend all their time with Will instead of him. And after Sophia had chosen Wes, Will had so much hatred. But only for his brother, not for Sophia. It was a mutual relationship. Yet it was apparently only Wes' fault.

After walking a few feet, he relaxed. He refused to let his brother get to him. He looked ahead and saw Maisy in the distance, and instantly took off after her. He was a very persistent man. He jogged to catch up to her, and when he did he slowed and began walking next to her.

"What's the rush, babe?" he asked her, placing his arm around her shoulders as they walked. "You won't be able to convince me that there is something much more important for you to do than answer my question about a date." Oh yeah, he was throwing on the charm. But, he was also being sincere. Maisy was a breath of fresh air to him. And for once, he wanted to have a different night. He didn't know what sparked this sudden change, but he knew for a fact he wasn't going to let Maisy out of his sight until she agreed.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sophia Hope Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Aaron "Sullivan" Character Portrait: Wesley Hodge Character Portrait: William Hodge
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Sophia smiled warmly as Marley mumbled a ‘thank you’ before tucking in. She relaxed her shoulders, laughing a little as Marley added “Must have!” to her little remark. It wasn’t long before Wesley replied, "Why Sophia, Marley, why would you ever think it was me? I attract girls, not repel them!" feigning a dramatic shock expression, fit for any performance.

"Maybe your pastry just didn't agree with her stomach." She playfully punched his arm, rolling her eyes. But before she could answer, he quickly complimented her, which meant that she couldn’t make a joke. "She's crazy, though, because it's amazing." Smiling, she glanced upwards to see that Aaron and William were now much closer.

As they approached, they both took their seats around the already crowded table, William greeting them all, "Good morning, everyone." She felt herself automatically hold her breath without conscientiously knowing, only to see the reaction between the two brothers. Silently she prayed that nothing big would happen, all in the hopes of them at least trying to get along, but it was clear as day that their relationship was ruined, and all because of her it seemed. Wesley had stood up, drank up his tea and grabbed his pastry, only to stalk away from the group. Trying to relieve a little of the tension, she shouted out a ‘Goodbye’ towards the direction Wesley was headed and sighed quietly.

She had almost forgotten that Marley and Aaron sat there, and as her eyes fell upon William, she noticed he had already started to eat her pastries. Holding the empty tray tightly, she kept her smile. Opening her mouth to start a conversation, William had already beaten her too it. "This is really delicious, Sophia."

Looking over at him, Sophia returned the warm smile, nodding slightly as her blonde locks brushed against her cheek. ”Thank you, freshly baked as always! She exclaimed, grinning ever so slightly.

After a few seconds, she looked at Aaron, ”It’s been a while, how have you been?” She asked, having to raise her voice by a little as a sudden gust of wind howled into her ears. The Town Guard and Sophia didn’t really have a conversation in a long time, it seemed they were too busy and didn’t see of him much, he was pretty much a mystery. Though she knew some amount of his background, it still left her with more questions than answers really.

As she waited for a reply, she gently started to pick up the dishes, Maisy’s empty glass of lemonade, her half-eaten pastry, Wesley’s tea and plate. Again, she reminded herself about the travellers. I need to give them the bakes! It’s would be a nice thing to do...I do hope they come out around Dust, she thought to herself.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sophia Hope Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Aaron "Sullivan" Character Portrait: Wesley Hodge Character Portrait: William Hodge Character Portrait: Maisy Cartwright
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Aaron "Sullivan"


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Aaron began walking up the steps, then like a bat out of hell, Maisy made her way out the cafe door and walking down the street, to which he stepped aside to let her go. Will then stepped inside as they both went to grab something to eat for breakfast.

"Mmm, delicious digesitbles," he said, forcing his voice to be lower than it is naturally to make it a more humorous comment. He then took a pastry from the tray Sophia had just put down, and without hesitation began eating. He watched as Will went to take a seat at the table everyone else was sitting at. Aaron thought Will would've wanted a slightly more private setting, but if he's going to be open about his concerns then it only said something about his strength.

"Good morning, everyone," he said, looking at the others sitting at the table. Will's words caused his brother to jump up from his chair, it falling over. For a moment they locked sight of each other, as if a battle of wills to determine the fate of the universe had occurred and ended within five seconds as Wesley took his leave without further notice. After seeing Wesley simply walk out of the cafe, Aaron walked over to his fallen chair, stood it up again, and took his seat.

"What a nice guy," Aaron said sarcastically. He then took another pastry, having finished his first, eating this one a little more slowly. He then waited for someone else's reaction, letting the situation settle down, or perhaps boil over again.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sophia Hope Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Eleanor Isis Roden Character Portrait: Hannah Lake Character Portrait: Aaron "Sullivan" Character Portrait: Jack Lake Character Portrait: Wesley Hodge Character Portrait: Peter Cross Character Portrait: William Hodge Character Portrait: Maisy Cartwright
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A soft chuckle came out of Jack when Hannah became playful with him. There was the girl he adored, he knew that sarcastic piece of her was still in there. Pregnancy couldn’t have changed her that much. Jack had her smooth hand in his as they walked around the house to inform peter of their plans. It was always safe to tell others where you were going in this world. It was too often that people got lost, or dehydrated, or mugged. The sight of Eleanor made Jack smile, she had been one of those ragtag travelers they'd taken in once, and unlike Marley, Jack actually liked Elle.

While Hannah spoke frankly with her brother, Jack nodded toward Eleanor, taking particular notice in the very young girl in her arms. It was almost as if Jack and Hannah’s minds worked in tandem. He immediately thought of how he and Hannah could be bundling a precious child of their own.

Feelings of frustration and excitement ran over him. Excitement for parenthood, for the life they could be living. Children were always something he wanted, and even more so with Hannah. Frustration for the way that the town was treating them. Dust was the only thing in the way of their dreams of a family.

With that, Jack and Hannah left toward the center of town. He had only been here once before, he was a child and his family was only passing through, and thankfully they were easily forgotten. He really knew nothing about the town, beside their private club attitude. He both envied and pitied the people who lived here.

Soon the two were in what one might call downtown. There were a small collection of shops, a cafe, and a saloon. Two strangers, a man and woman were heading away from the cafe as they were closing in on it. Outside there was a group of townsfolk sitting around a couple of tables, chowing on some pastries. Would it be too forward to just introduce themselves? Marley was there, he could see that much. That was comforting... Kind of. Will was also there, maybe he could get to talking to the man.

With a gentle squeeze Jack led his wife toward the cafe. They could kill two birds with one stone; they could both eat and socialize. Boldly, Jack approached the table and casually greeted the group. “Good morning.”

Hopefully no one would be offended, or find it awkward that they joined the people.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sophia Hope Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Hannah Lake Character Portrait: Aaron "Sullivan" Character Portrait: Jack Lake Character Portrait: William Hodge
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Marley was too caught up in her pastry to realize that the entirety of who was at the cafe changed. Instead of sitting with Wesley, making remarks about Maisy with Sophia, Aaron and Will were beside her. She wondered if Wes went after Maisy, that wasn’t unlike him. He would do nearly anything to get what he wanted. Even if that meant actually courting the most snob ridden girl in town. A sigh almost escaped her as she took another pastry, surely she would hear about it later in the saloon.

It was a much different feel with these two men in the area. It was no longer a light, flirtation that linger in the air. It was more like a protective, down to earth feel. Aaron and Will were good guys, putting the safety of Dust front of their own.

She had no hard feelings toward Will, in fact she thought he was a splendid leader. Anyone was better than Maisy, that was for sure. Otherwise this place would be buried in old traditional ways. The world was constantly changing and the old ways of Dust were no longer applicable. Don’t get her wrong, tradition was nice and all, but she couldn’t stand the strict rules and regulations. Marley watched as William and Sophia locked eyes and spoke in polite voices.

Quietly, she watched their body language toward each other. After another drink of her lemonade Marley watched as Sophia moved her attention to Aaron, almost dismissively. It was then that Marley decided to nod toward the leader of the town and say “Good morning, Willum.” Somehow, Marley had developed nicknames for a lot of the townspeople, even if they weren’t close friends.

“I see you left the town to vote on whether the Lakes should stay..” She said quietly, trying to make some kind of conversation, “are you sure that’s a good idea?” The majority of the town was of the first generation, growing old with tradition and security in mind. They were the kind of people who didn’t care if the newcomers were in real need. Marley was only petitioning with Will for Hannah and Jack’s sake. She could care less about what happened to Peter. Or at least that’s what she kept telling herself.

Almost as if on cue, the two love birds approached the cafe. Marley smiled toward the two of them, but had no way of welcoming them into the conversations that were taking place. Without another words she stuffed the rest of her pastry into her mouth. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to speak with them, she just knew that Jack thought her a fool. It was just better if she let Jack do his thing. If Marley tried to help he would probably just get frustrated. Jack liked to do things himself, and Marley assumed that they were here to speak with William.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sophia Hope Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Eleanor Isis Roden Character Portrait: Hannah Lake Character Portrait: Aaron "Sullivan" Character Portrait: Jack Lake Character Portrait: Wesley Hodge Character Portrait: William Hodge
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Hannah felt a small smile play on her lips as she thought about Eleanor's observance of her. As she and Jack made their way towards town, hand in hand, fingers laced together, her thoughts turned to the way Eleanor had cradled her baby in her arms. The gesture was easy and comfortable. Of course, it was loving and she clearly treasured her daughter, but there was no fear to it, and no concept that her child's life might be ripped from her at any moment. Eleanor had fallen pregnant young, and almost certainly by mistake. Yet it had happened for her instantly, while Hannah had struggled to conceive for months. And when it finally did happen, she'd lost two babies, one after the other. Two babies she'd desperately wanted. And now she felt brutally close to losing this one. How was it that Eleanor got to have a baby she didn't even want without any complications while Hannah struggled with heartbreak after heartbreak? The world was so unfair. The second the thought had crossed her mind though, Hannah felt a pang of guilt overwhelm her. Her own emotions, intensified by hormones and the physical and mental strain she was currently under caused tears to spring into her eyes. She turned her head away from Jack so he couldn't see in a clear indication that she didn't want to talk. She didn't feel like sharing this particular thought with him. Eleanor adored Lily-Mae and she would be devastated if anything happened to her. Hannah should be finding an affinity with the woman over her own struggles with motherhood, even if they were not of the same nature as Hannah's, rather than being jealous of her.

By the time they had nearly reached town, Hannah had composed herself and felt she could enter and present a good front, the way she needed to. Just as they reached town, Hannah saw a man and woman leaving the cafe, the man's arm slug loosely round the woman's shoulders. As they passed by them, Hannah saw the woman look both she and Jack up and down once with a particularly disdainful, hostile gaze. To which, Hannah offered a nervous smile, although she was unsure it had helped in any way. It took Hannah a couple of seconds to recognise the woman as the daughter of the founder, someone who'd show particular dislike for them since their arrival. From the back of her mind, Hannah recalled her name to be May-something. Maya? May? Macie? No... Maisy. That was it. The man beside her was the brother of the town leader, though Hannah wasn't sure she'd been formally introduced to him. He seemed too distracted with whatever he was saying to the woman to pay any real attention to them.

As they got closer to the scene, Hannah felt Jack gently squeeze her hand in a comforting gesture. She squeezed his back, to give reassurance that everything would be alright. She quickly took in the scene before her, noting the town leader, Will, sat talking with another man Hannah hadn't seen much of since she'd arrived, though she thought he was one of the people responsible for the security of the town. A blonde girl, who Hannah hadn't really spoken to, although thought seemed remarkably friendly for this town, was stood over them, collecting dishes. Hannah's eyes then fell on Marley, who was leant in, talking to William. Hannah gave her a friendly smile, glad to see someone familiar here.

Jack approached the table people were sat around, offering up a friendly, “Good morning.” Hannah stood close beside him, her grip on his hand tightening. She slipped her other hand to right underside of her swollen stomach, rubbing it gently in an effort to emphasise to everyone just why she needed to be there. Not that it wasn't instantly obvious, the moment they'd entered the cafe.

"Hi," Hannah added, her tone less bold than Jack's, holding more reservation and shyness, as if she was just testing the water. She knew she had to make a good impression on these people, and what she did and said now would be vital to the outcome of the situation. Although, frankly, based on how friendly most of the older members of this town had been to her so far, Hannah just prayed she delivered before the vote in a week, as she was certain they would throw her out. And though she didn't fancy their prospects out there with a newborn baby, she knew it was the actual birth she almost certainly wouldn't survive without this town.

Despite the fact that almost everyone else was sitting down, Hannah made no movement to do so. Though she desperately needed to sit down and take the weight of her slim frame, she didn't dare take a seat, for fear of offending the townspeople and making them feel as though she was intruding. She simply hoped someone would be kind enough to think she might be struggling and offer her one.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sophia Hope Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Eleanor Isis Roden Character Portrait: Hannah Lake Character Portrait: Aaron "Sullivan" Character Portrait: Jack Lake Character Portrait: Peter Cross Character Portrait: William Hodge
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Sophia gave him a wonderful smile back, which made Will feel warm inside. "Thank you, freshly backed as always!" she replied enthusiastically. Her warmth, openness, and positivity were contagious. She was always this way, and it was one of the reasons he had so easily fallen in love with her, and why he still loved being around her today Of course his love had never stopped, but that was besides the point. Every time he saw her, he had the urge to spill all of his feelings for her. He always held back, however, because he knew how much hurt the both of them had gone through the first time. And he had no doubt in his mind that she would reject him pursuing her again. She wouldn't want to risk getting hurt again. And he really couldn't blame her.

Will's thoughts got sidetracked - thankfully - by Aaron getting up to walk over and pick up the fallen chair Wes had toppled over. "What a nice guy," Aaron commented, fixing the chair upright once more. Will wished he could deny Aaron's claim, after all Wes was his brother, yet he wasn't particularly nice, so he couldn't say the comment was untrue.

"Good morning, Willum." He turned his eyes to look upon Marley, who had addressed him. Even though she had left the protection of Dust, there was something about her that was truly endearing, and Will couldn't dislike her. Not that he wanted to, of course. "I see you left the town to vote on whether the Lakes should stay..” she began, almost in a whisper. This is what he had been afraid of. Having to discuss the situation of the newcomers before he was ready. This was why he had wanted to walk and talk with Aaron before the rest of the town. But he had insisted on breakfast at this cafe first. Marley continued on. “Are you sure that’s a good idea?” He thought on the words, wanting to give the right answer.

"Well, Marley, I may be the leader, but this is everyone's town, so I figured the right decision wa-" His sentence was broken up by a new voice entering the conversation. "Good morning." That was Jack speaking, the so-called leader of the newcomers to town. He seemed to be the most in control and level headed of the group. Will was sure a conversation with Jack was going to happen at some point within the next week. He looked strong, and confident. His wife Hannah, however, didn't seem as comfortable. She held on to him with an iron grip and seemed to protect her swollen belly with her other hand. Just looking at her, and how close she was to giving birth, gave Will a pang of sympathy. "Hi," she muttered quietly, obviously not feeling as if she belonged in the group.

Will began to feel slightly overwhelmed. He had too many thoughts banging around inside his head. He really needed to sort through them all before this conversation took place. He stood up, moving away from the table. "Good morning to both of you," he said to the Lakes, a pleasant smile on his face. Even if he wasn't sure about the newcomers, he had to show them kindness and respect as the leader. "Hannah, you should sit down. You can have my chair, I need to be heading out anyway." He moved a little farther away, but gestured to the chair he had just left empty. "It's customary that I walk the perimeter of Dust every morning," he explained, not wanting them to think their presence had made him suddenly choose to depart.

He turned his attention to the beautiful Sophia once again. "Thank you so much for breakfast," he said quickly before turning and leaving the others. After he had gotten away from them, he felt it was easier to breathe. He hated not being prepared, and tended to always pre-think about every question he could be asked. He didn't like being caught off guard, and that was precisely why he took his perimeter walk every morning. He was able to think about the day, and sort every single thought in his head. Just seeing Hannah made him sad. If the vote didn't go the newcomers way, everyone who wanted them to stay would blame Will himself. They wold be upset he hadn't just made the decision for them to stay. And he honestly didn't know how he was going to live with the fact that he was possibly killing to human beings by sending the three back out into the desert. He was set into tradition, of course, but sending a young woman and her baby out to die didn't seem right to him either. Yet he couldn't find a middle ground either.

Will reached up to rub his temples. He could feel a headache beginning to form. He was just now reaching the tiny shack on the outskirts of Dust, where Jack, Hannah, and Peter were living. And strangely enough, there was Eleanor at their front door. Talking to Peter, the one William was most worried about. He seemed untrustworthy. The two seemed to be having a conversation, and Will made a mental note to ask her about it at a later time. For now, he walked past the shack to the perimeter of Dust. He began to walk parallel to it, attempting to organize all of his thoughts into something intelligible.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Hannah Lake Character Portrait: Aaron "Sullivan" Character Portrait: Jack Lake Character Portrait: William Hodge
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Jack was not expected the townsfolk to be the least bit welcoming, when both he and his wife were offered seats at the cafe table a sudden feeling of ease came over him. However distant and dismissive William’s walk away was, Jack still appreciated it. Perhaps it was only the older folks they should be wary of. After all, most everyone that was at the cafe was young, full of life, and as far as he could tell, level headed.

A simple nod was thrown to Will before he marched away. Jack did not fully understand William’s responsibilities, but he had no doubt that they were stressful, especially now. Perhaps later he would catch up with the man to have a discussion. Not a discussion about his party’s staying, but something that would stir genuine interest and friendship. Jack supposed this was the best way to get what he wanted; become friends with or at least liked by as many people as he could.

“Thank you,” Jack said toward the guard, his name was escaping him. Jack slid a chair next to his wife then planted himself in it. His posture was neither proper or otherwise. He remained polite though, with erect posture and a pleasant facial expression. “Uh.. Aaron is it?”

Jack was charismatic is a television kind of way. He looked and acted presentable, he was charming without effort, and could answer questions with nice language and pose. He was exceptionally well trained for a scrapper. Or so he had been told. However, he lacked conversation starters, especially with people he knew nothing about. He had no idea what kind of lives they led here. What events were held in town, if any, and what the people were interested in.

He had only heard slight rumors about people when walking through town, but other than that his information was limited. Finally something came to him. “You don’t strike me as a townsman.”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sophia Hope Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Hannah Lake Character Portrait: Aaron "Sullivan" Character Portrait: Jack Lake Character Portrait: William Hodge
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Suddenly, the leader of the town stood up and moved away from the table. "Good morning to both of you,” he greeted them, his smile genuine.

Hannah smiled back shyly, hand still firmly in her husband’s, where she felt safe.

"Hannah, you should sit down. You can have my chair, I need to be heading out anyway."

“I-“ Hannah began, instantly panicking that he was only leaving because of their arrival. If the leader of the town hated them so much that he couldn’t even bear to be in their presence for more than ten seconds, it did not bode well for the longevity of their stay in Dust.

But, almost as if he read her worries from her mind, William told her, "It's customary that I walk the perimeter of Dust every morning.” Then he turned to Sophia and thanked her before taking his leave. As he made his way away from the scene, Hannah saw her husband throw him a nod of thanks.

Hannah decided to take the town’s offer of hospitality and sit down in the now vacated seat. It was only polite. And, besides, between the walk to town, carrying much more weight than she was used to, and the way the baby was now moving inside her, she could no longer bear to stand.

"Why don't you pull up a chair too, Jack?" the town guard offered to her husband. At his suggestion, Hannah felt some of the tension she hadn’t even realised was in her body dissipate. "How did the town get to be so... wrong?" Aaron asked out loud.

”Thank you,” her husband told Aaron, taking a seat next to her. Hannah immediately reached for his hand under the table once more, that she’d been forced to let go of in order to sit down. Her grip wasn’t as tight as before, but she still wanted the physical reassurance that he was there.

“Uh… Aaron is it?” Jack asked. “You don’t strike me as a townsman.”

Hannah decided not to say anything. She didn’t want to interrupt Jack’s bid to achieve favour within the town. Instead, she turned to Marley, who she’d found herself sitting beside. The girl had just finished a pastry and had a glass of lemonade stood on the table in front of her. The sight of the food reminded Hannah she hadn’t had breakfast that morning. Although, strangely, she didn’t really feel hungry. In fact, she felt a bit sick; with nerves, she figured. Hannah hadn’t really spoken with Marley much since their arrival, and as one of the people she was already familiar with, Hannah was more than keen to make sure she had Marley’s support.

“Hey, Marley,” she greeted her friend with a smile, leaning against the table.