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Poppy Clarke

"I thought that my purpose was to see the beauty in everything...but I don't see the beauty in this."

0 · 747 views · located in Pennsylvania

a character in “Bellingstone, PA”, as played by chanelindistress

Description

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"“Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”"
~ Sarah Williams, Twilight Hours: A Legacy of Verse




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FULL NAME
"My Dad...he was from Jamaica and he said he didn't really see poppies until he came to the United States. So, when they were naming me, that was what he asked my mom to call me."
Poppy Dominique Clarke

NICKNAMES
Pops and Pop-Rock {Most common; pretty much everyone} || Tiny {Common; mostly by family and very close friends since she has always been the short one}

DATE OF BIRTH
November 6, 1991

AGE
26

OCCUPATION
"If you value your life, do not listen to my brother. This wasn't a geek career...okay, maybe it was, but this geek is doing a pretty damn good job with her career and being loan-free, thank you very much. I was always interested in art, whether they be studio or performing. It just so happened that my skill set and interest lay solely with the former, which is why I went into art conservation, specifically restoration. I work primarily with paintings and try to bring them back to their former glory for a good number of exhibits and the like. So, yeah, maybe I'm a nerd. But this nerd loves her job."
Art Conservator at the Carnegie Museum of Art, though she does partake in freelance art on the side

GENDER
Female

SEXUALITY
Demisexual || Biromantic

DIALOGUE XCOLOR
#E8ADAA





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PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION
Poppy has definitely grown from the frail girl who could barely leave the four feet mark. She still retains the nickname of Tiny among close friends and family due to the fact that, despite her brother and mostly every other person on her father's side of the family being guaranteed to reach at least six feet, Poppy is very much standing at five feet and three point five inches, with the weight of one-hundred and fifteen pounds. Her now slim, hourglass frame is far more sturdier than during her teen years. Her complexion is a deeper olive than her brother's, closer to her father's, and her eyes are still considered hazel, just with more brown and gold flecks than the green her brother is noted for. With her high cheekbones, full lips, and almond-shaped eyes framed by thick dark lashes, Poppy can definitely be considered a looker. Her dark hair, thick and long, is typically straightened when she is not feeling lazy, but there are days when her more natural, curlier texture can be seen, though she's known during those times to wear her hair up and out of her way. It's also not out of pocket to see the occasional smear of paint on Poppy's fingers that refused to come out in the shower.

PERSONALITY
Though typically considered the good girl all of her life, Poppy is like a live wire. She always seems to be filled with limitless energy and is almost always up for a bit of an adventure, despite being the main one ready to chill out with a movie marathon. Despite the fact that she is more frequently known for having harmless fun, there is a bit of a wild side to Pops that likes to make its presence known. She surprises even herself with wanting to go to a club, especially if she's found an underground one. She's not afraid to try most things once, though some things require a bit more coaxing from the right people, and she's usually up for going somewhere new and/or exciting. During her formative years, a big chunk of this side of her was hidden behind the studious and quietly intelligent yet sassy girl with glasses. But as the years have gone by, and she's had to flourish into a much mature business woman, Pops has also flourished into a woman who's more comfortable with her physical features and who likes to "let down her hair" and live a little in light of the professional world she's had to acclimate to. Some things have remained the same, however, in that Poppy still is the girl who will babble when nervous, even going so far as to make sexual innuendos without actually meaning to. While she is not the type to befriend everyone she sees, she's also not unapproachable and she typically remains relatable to the extent that Poppy has an assortment of associates from varying social classes. Despite having a pretty wealthy upbringing, Pops managed to stay a bit humble and that humility can have a magnetic allure. It's if you can stay in her presence that makes all the difference. Despite all the charisma and easy-going appeal she seems to exude and the easy way in which she can talk with people - even when she does not like them - Poppy isn't what you could call easy. You can't win her over with cheap tricks, coquettish smiles, or pick-up lines. That doesn't impress her and she makes sure that you know that. In fact, instead of having a plethora of best friends like her vivacious antics would fool you into believing, Poppy has a very, very tight knit circle of friends that not many can find their way in. She knows the difference between associates and friends, after all. Anyone who she finds a threat or simply unworthy of her friendship and that of her own beloved people get an upfront rejection. She doesn't filter herself and she doesn't like putting on airs. It's a waste of time and you should just be aware - she doesn't like you and Poppy isn't, in her own words, "pussy-footing" around it. For all of her nice girl sensibilities, Poppy can be quite blunt when she wants to be.

Poppy is self-sufficient, and goes after what she wants with will power and determination. She has a fiercely independent streak and likes to chart her own course. On one end, this calls to a bit of a vindictive and almost childish side of herself. She likes to see herself as someone who is indomitable. She doesn't just surrender to people easily. Especially those who feel like they control her or should dominate her. After being a bit more submissive and meek during her formative years, Pops has developed a much firmer back bone and is not the type to allow people to tell her what to do, which can oftentimes lead to a stubborn fixation on doing exactly what someone doesn't want her to do. Most of the times, that person is typically her brother, who can bring out a bit of a rebelliousness from Poppy. In that same light, it just goes to show that there is a side of her that is, again, willing to take on something new, even if it's just to be daring because someone has underestimated her or thought she wouldn't be bold. Poppy is actually a lot more impulsive than she likes admitting, though her impulsiveness reveals itself through the physical, or her actions. With that being said, especially when she feels insulted or someone has managed to piss her off, despite how much she does like having a much more controlled disposition when in the public eye, Poppy has maintained a reputation for not being afraid to, as she put it, "hit a bitch." She's a firm believer in slaps saving lives, though she's not afraid of using a fist if needed. She feels embarrassed afterwards for the primal satisfaction of causing someone physical pain due to their affront to her person, but there's no mistaking that under most circumstances, she wouldn't necessarily regret having to do it again.

On the other end, it means that Poppy isn't the type to accept help from anyone, not even her parents. When she's sick, she hates the idea of someone having to take care of her. When she's struggling with a project that she's taking the lead on, she hates others offering help or solutions. It bothers her. Why? Because despite what this competitive little minx will tell you, she hates the idea of vulnerability. Of needing someone - anyone. It is something she tries to fight vehemently, oftentimes allowing her stubborn side to show through simply because she is unwilling to hear someone else's side. It is also why the close friends she does have and her family are known for being headstrong as well, having to ignore her pleas for independence when it becomes a hindrance for her well-being. Because of this consistent show of loyalty in the family and friends that she does have now, Poppy has a deep disdain for anyone would lie to her. She hates not knowing things or being the last to know something. It means she failed at something. It also signifies a fear of there having to be a truth because if there is anything she fears more, it is change and that truth can change everything. It clashes with her upfront nature, but it speaks to her biggest flaw: Poppy hates change. Oh, she's willing to tell everyone else that change or something new could be good for them. However, when it comes to herself - and she's acknowledged this hypocritical nature of hers - Poppy absolutely hates it. Because she cannot control change and as another child in the Clarke family household, not having control is just not in the cards.

LIKES
✔ Nature - As much as she seems a bit acclimated to city life now that she travels into the city more, Poppy is still the girl who loved taking long walks or morning jogs into the forest that surrounds Bellingstone. She feels at home there, even going so far as to have plants in her apartment.
✔ Cooking - While her family were wealthy enough to have cooks, there was nothing like her father taking the time to cook some of his island recipes, which Poppy would eventually pick up, along with a love of just making food in general.
✔ Art - She's always enjoyed it, whether she was observing or painting. Art has always been the most calming.
✔ The smell of rain - enough said there.
✔ Wine - Pops has always been a red girl, pinot noir or sweet reds specifically. She'll enjoy some pinot grigio occasionally, but she daily sticks to reds.

DISLIKES
✖ Being underestimated - Poppy gets it; she's the smaller sibling, not the strongest, and all that other stuff. But what she hates most is for anyone to think she's not capable because she is.
✖ Being lied to - She's not always the greatest liar unless she really needs to be because Poppy is a relatively honest individual, which means she hates when people aren't honest with her.
✖ Feeling weak and like she needs people
✖ Wearing shoes at home - Once she's in the comfort of her family's place or her own, all bets are off and so are shoes. How else is she going to comfortably read a book and drink a glass of wine, people??
✖ Spiders - You can tell Poppy all you want about how they help with other bugs. That won't stop her from jumping out of her skin at the sight of one.

FEARS
☠ Drowning, even though she does know how to swim.
☠ Dying alone
☠ Dark, enclosed spaces





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BIOGRAPHY
By the time Poppy was born, the Clarke family had been living in Bellingstone for four years and her father was just really considering the idea of competing in the mayoral race. At the time, he just liked having the position of Finance Director and being with his family. Jethro's own father had inherited a large sum of money from his own Jamaica-born father, and upon his death, Jethro and two siblings had split the money three ways and left it like that. Poppy never really paid attention to the specifics of that; all she knew was that she loved leaving Bellingstone during the holidays or when her aunt Chinyere came because that meant Jamaican recipes for Thanksgiving meals. It was rare that her father had the time to make dinner for them, let alone share the recipes that he had inherited. Nevertheless, Poppy was born in Bellingstone to an older brother, her mother and father. As a child who had been born prematurely, Poppy remembers that a lot of her time when she was smaller had been spent being relatively sick. She had spent two weeks in the incubator after being born because she was two months early. By the time she got to elementary school, she had classmates picking on her because she was so weak, tiny when in comparison to the rest of them and always tired - not to mention a bit of a teacher's pet - and there were rarely weeks when Poppy didn't pass out. Being short hadn't really been an issue for Poppy because on both sides of her family, there were just short people and there were tall. In fact, her mother - from whom her brother gets his height - was actually taller than her father, much to Jethro's chagrin. However, come to find out, the reason Poppy wasn't getting her height and was so weak wasn't just because she was simply a premature child; she had the endocrine disorder, growth hormone deficiency. Needless to say, Poppy spent a good portion of her childhood not exactly at her best.

During those years, though, was when her love for art had developed. Her mother, Fatima, had been an art teacher at both the elementary school and high school for Bellingstone, and she would spend extra time at home with Poppy, cultivating her love for painting and drawing in various mediums such as acrylic and oil paintings, water color, black ink pens, and charcoal. It was this that made her feel strong - that made her want to be stronger. The friends she had made helped, too, since she did want to be able to go out into the forest and play with them. However, her mother also would grow to be sick. Her mother had had breast cancer when Poppy was small, a little bit after breast feeding was done, but because everyone made her so worried about her own health, Poppy hadn't noticed. Her mother hadn't lost a considerable amount of hair and if she had, she had tricked Poppy with wigs. And she survived it. But then it came back, when Poppy was thirteen - this time, more aggressively. It would be within the next year that Fatima would die, and if Poppy had been close to her parents before, she was even closer to her father upon her mother's death. There were hardly pictures anyone saw of the Bellingstone mayor that did not include his two children, particularly his daughter. She would be in charge of his programs with the children, quick to make sure he was doing community service related activities with the townsfolk, and it damn near broke her heart to actually stay in the city to attend The Art Institute. But she visited at every break that she could and Poppy owed it to her father's connections for even getting her her current job. Which is why she's heartbroken over his death now. And suspicious.

MISCELLANEOUS
Apartment - Although Poppy can still live in her family's home, she rents out an condo in the thick of Bellingstone square, and it sits atop a more modern coffee shop for all the snotty townspeople who started thinking they were too good to drink coffee at the diner.


So begins...

Poppy Clarke's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Poppy Clarke Character Portrait: Andre Clarke
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P O P P YXC L A R K E
_____ T H EXA R T I S T_____

Outfit: Link Here
Location: Poppy Clarke's Condo
Dialogue Color ✦ #E8ADAA
Thought Color ✧ #985D5A




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_____ T H EXP R O T E C T O R_____

Outfit: Link Here
Location: Poppy Clarke's Condo
Dialogue Color ✦ #DEB887
Thought Color ✧ #8E6837



Last night was the first night in two weeks that Poppy Clarke had stayed at her own place.

Poppy had been in the city when news of her father's death had reached her. Andre had driven over himself, waiting until he knew for a fact that she was off work and just leaving the museum to scoop her up and tell her. Poppy had been inconsolable then, she recalled with another sip of her tea, the astringency of the hot liquid peeking out over the sweetness and creaminess that came with her addition of cream and sugar. Andre had steeped the leaves for a little too long. He had never been very good at making tea, which was understandable given the fact that he wasn't the one who drank it at all.

Nevertheless, Poppy had been unable to stomach the idea of staying in this condo by herself, not with her aunt having flown in and deciding to stay at their family estate and the loss of her father cutting her so deep that she had felt too raw and ready to lash out at any and everyone. Though both of the Clarke children could always be looked to for their debonair attitudes as it came to the public, there was a notable difference, especially in the wake of this recent loss, between them that had little to do with their genders. Andre was the pillar of strength, as most had noted. He had been refined in this time, despite his own grief, and had thrown himself into handling all family affairs. His father's things still needed to be cleared out of the mayor's office, but Andre had handled the funeral arrangements and any other pressing matters. He accepted food offerings and condolences with a polite smile, and remained collected though notably affected. No one could say that his mannerisms had left them unable to see that his father's death had very much shaken the young man. It was that very sophisticated air about him that reminded so many of the townsfolk of their once beloved mayor. It reminded them of how much he stressed the point of appearance to his kids. Poppy, on the other hand, had always been given a freer upbringing and with that came the very fact that she was far more emotional, a volcano waiting to erupt. Poppy had class, yes, but less tact.

Poppy had bristled at recollections of past bonds with her father when shared, disallowing other relationships he had formed to lessen her own grief or keep her from side-eyeing anyone who had truly believed the cause of death the coroner wrote down. She gave one hell of an impressive growl at the thirteenth offer of help if she were to ever need it, unable to accept that everyone saw her as some needy little brat who needed to be coddled. What she had needed was the truth. Her father didn't just up and die out of nowhere. They had literally spoken a few hours before his death, laughing over his buying a painting of her colleagues that in all honesty, neither of them could truly understand the story of, despite the artist's lengthy description. Poppy knew, to some degree, that her grief made her a touch petulant, too quick to rise. She even apologized the day after the wake for fear of offending everyone. But it did not make her ire about her father go away, nor did her suspicions regarding his passing leave her mind. She just learned to keep a glass of wine on her person at all times when she had guests nearby and prayed like hell that she didn't fall on her ass in the middle of their hardwood floors with half of their town in various areas of their estate.

"I didn't make this for nothing," Andre called from inside and Poppy glanced over her shoulder to glower at him, elbows holding up her petite frame with the support of her stone railing. Andre had followed her back to her apartment last night simply to keep her company for a bit, but as always, his "bit" included staying the night most of the time and forcing her to eat the next day. To some extent, it was heart-warming. Her brother cooked for her when he would not do the same for any other. At the moment, especially after her run on her favorite path in the woods, it was more grating. "Not hungry." She spoke the words after another sip of her tea, allowing the liquid paradise to slide down her throat and warm her from the inside out. Her gaze lingered on the traipsing denizens before she officially turned and headed back inside, closing the door to her balcony and locking it as she went. Andre, nonplussed by her pensive nature, set a plate down on the stark-white counter, the Caribbean spices wafting up to her nostrils enticingly. Her stomach refused to agree with her mouth then. "Good thing it's not up to you, but your stomach. Now eat." His tone brooked no room for argument and Poppy bristled, shooting him the third glare of the morning but promptly sat down on one of her chairs, plucking one of the chocolate-filled croissants she had bought in a platter from the shop downstairs.

Andre had been somehow slipped back into the normalcy of life after their father's death. There was a cooler edge, yes. He was still tense, but he had somehow been able to maintain easy camaraderie with everyone he came across. Inside, though, especially from what Poppy could see, he was guarded. And more attentive, which for her, was both a good and bad thing. It meant a more protective brother than the already over-protective one she had grown up with. Lucky me, she thought sarcastically, using her fork to break into the yolk of her fried egg. She watched yellow rivulets as they cascaded down the small mound of oxtail hash, shocks of orange from the sweet potatoes peeking out in the brown broth. "Did you know Albrecht Wolff was back in town and running for mayor?" Andre gathered both a mug of coffee for himself - Poppy may roll her eyes at her brother's insistence upon staying with her occasionally, but it didn't mean that she didn't look out for him to some degree during his stay - and his own plate before rounding the corner to come sit beside her at the counter top, pausing only to inquire, "And where'd you hear that, sis?" Poppy stopped short of lifting the forkful to her mouth, eyeing him. "So, you're not even gonna deny that you knew, all this time." It wasn't a question. Andre only gave her a long look before beginning to dig into his food. Poppy narrowed her hazel eyes at him, brushing a stray strand of hair from her face since it refused to be tied up in the messy bun she had thrown her hair into before her run. "I heard it from Mrs. Wilcox on the way back in. She was gossiping with her niece, as usual, downstairs while they were waiting for their coffee. Don't think she even realized I was behind her 'til she paid for her stuff." Andre snorted, using his coffee to wash down the remnants of food in his mouth. "Oh, she knew you were there. The old hoot probably wanted to see how you'd react," he told her with certainty, mixing his food up to incorporate more of the egg into every bite. "And I knew he was back. I didn't know he was running for mayor." When something hit the rumor mill in this town, nine times out of ten, there was some truth to it. Andre had yet to see Albrecht Wolff, but he definitely did believe the little old ladies who ran the farmer's market when they said that he was definitely back in town. It was too specific of a rumor for them to have just made up.

Poppy waited until she finished chewing before speaking again. "And you don't think that's suspicious as hell?" When Andre gave her neither a considering look nor spoke a word for a minute, Poppy followed up, incredulous, "Dre, c'mon. The guy stole away like a thief of the night with neither hide nor hair of him. Now he decides he wants to come back and run for mayor of all things? His parents were devastated and Axel - " Poppy had to break off then, forbidden concerns for the diner owner arising. It didn't help that Andre's eyes seemed to darken upon the notable stain of softness in her voice when Poppy had just been about to mention him. It never was a good idea to mention her past with the man in her brother's appearance. It always brooked a headache. "They aren't your concern, Pops," he stated flatly and Poppy set her fork down, taking her mug into her hands to warm them in lieu of the frostiness in her brother's tone. "If there's one thing Dad being mayor taught us is that above all things, we need to worry about ourselves first. Whatever happens with that mayoral office has nothing to do with us now. What we worry about is ours, and that includes any and all suspicions about what happened to Dad. Do I think it's suspicious? Hell yeah. But what you're not gonna do is concern yourself with Wolff right now. Either of them." Poppy watched him return to eating, the uneasiness in her stomach disallowing her to pick up her fork just yet. "Then what am I supposed to do, Dre? 'Cause I know that you don't just expect me to sit back and just let things happen." Andre took a strong swallow of coffee before answering her. "That's exactly what I expect for you to do. That ain't got nothing to do with you - with either of us. Let it go, Pops." Distantly, however, they both knew that that was not going to happen.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Poppy Clarke Character Portrait: Junsoo Moon Character Portrait: Andre Clarke Character Portrait: Ellis Bleddyn
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »

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Image
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P O P P YXC L A R K E
_____ T H EXA R T I S T_____

Outfit: Link Here
Location: Poppy Clarke's Condo
Dialogue Color ✦ #E8ADAA
Thought Color ✧ #985D5A




────────────────────────────
Image
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Image
_____ T H EXP R O T E C T O R_____

Outfit: Link Here
Location: Poppy Clarke's Condo
Dialogue Color ✦ #DEB887
Thought Color ✧ #8E6837



Contrary to her earlier antics, Poppy cleaned her plate, finishing quicker than her brother even. It was probably more a testament to how pensive (and secretly tired) the older Clarke sibling was. With only really giving himself two days to focus on the family in their time of grief, Andre had also managed to do shifts at the bar, keep up to date with those finances and stocks, and planned the funeral - completing all of which as if they were nothing when in reality, Andre was more than likely going to wind up running himself ragged. It was always his desire to keep up appearances that did him in, Poppy mused as she slipped off of her seat and into the kitchen, putting her dishes in the lukewarm sudsy water along with the rest of the unwashed dishes he had used to cook the dish. Knowing her brother, he had already placed whatever leftovers there were of the hash and put them in some container for dinner.

"Maybe you should just take the day off," Poppy called from the kitchen, idly pushing up her sleeves and getting to work on the dishes. If she didn't start now and get it finished, she never would. It was the worst part about cooking. Her voice startled Andre out of his reverie, though she didn't see it his blink of surprise. He hadn't even realized he had paused; the food he thought to have been on his folk had plopped back onto the plate, a small clump beside the corner of hash he had left. Shaking his head, Andre chugged nearly all of what was left of his coffee, set the mug down and replied after a strong swallow, "Nah, I'm good. Probably just do a few hours, then I'll go finish up packing his stuff at town hall." Poppy didn't bother stopping herself from making a face, but she didn't turn around to grace his words with it. "Or...I could do it." Andre looked up at that, taking a large mouthful of food to expedite the process. His appetite had slowly begun to dwindle after his sister's earlier suspicions had been said, and though he asked her to let it be, Andre couldn't get the odd feeling in his gut to go away. He kept picturing his father's dead body in the morgue, pale and lifeless, all of the blood drained. Andre had always been prepared for the day his father died; never wanted it, but knew he had to school his features and his heart to keep it pushing. But still, there had been something disconcerting about it all at the time; the actual timing of the death, the coroner's report, the whispers of certain people's returns, etc. However, before he could dignify his sister's offer with the response he already had ready in the negative, his phone vibrated and Andre pulled it out, smirking lightly upon seeing who it was from.

To: June
Yeah, not happening, thanx tho ;D c u in a bit

"Who's that? Auntie CC again?" Poppy inquired, placing the large wok into the drying rack before turning around, tea towel in hand. "June with, apparently, the same mindset as you," he answered once his text to the bartender was served. A small smile flitted across Poppy's face at the thought of the sweet nice guy who made the best mimosas in Bellingstone. As much as her colleagues liked the sniff their noses at the idea of coming over to some small town that was slightly bigger than your run-of-the-mill small town, Poppy would go to war over proving how good those mimosas were. "Which means we're both geniuses and you need to listen to us." Poppy threw the tea towel down and took two big steps to the counter her brother was still seated at, standing on the side opposite to the male. He was at her height at the moment, which made her placing her hands flat on the white surface as she stared him down. "Listen, if you wanna go to work, I won't stop you. I hope June cusses you out for not letting yourself be human for once and take a chill day, but whatever. Let me worry about Dad's office today. I'll have everything cleared out in no time." Andre stared, expressionless, for a beat and Poppy thought they were going to wind up having to argue since Andre was more of a control freak than she was. A second later, however, and her brother sighed, weary, and broke eye contact. "If you think you've got it." Poppy had to stop herself from snorting.

"They're boxes, Dre. I'll be fine," she told him, already heading out of the kitchen. "Don't forget to put your dishes in the sink before you leave." She didn't bother looking back. Soon, she was stalking down the hallway in long strides, eager to do absolutely anything other than nothing. She'd been doing that for long enough, regardless of what her boss or brother had to say. As Poppy went to find shoes for the day, she scooped up her phone from her nightstand, reaching out to the first friend she felt like dealing with since her father's passing. She had eventually learned to accept everyone's condolences, but at the time, Poppy just hadn't wanted to be bothered. She considered the others, but Ellis was a safe and nice option. He didn't have as many memories as the others.

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Poppy Clarke Character Portrait: Axel Wolff Character Portrait: Carwyn Pryderi Character Portrait: Albrecht Wolff Character Portrait: Ivan Moreau Character Portrait: Ellis Bleddyn
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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.