Virginia Hearst

"Walls have ears."

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a character in “Delirium”, as played by Colors of Iris


❝ Virginia Hearst ❞

❝ If I pretend nothing is wrong, then maybe no one will notice. ❞

❝ Mᴏʀᴇ ᴛʜᴀɴ ᴊᴜsᴛ ᴀ ɴᴀᴍᴇ. ❞

Most people just call her Ginny, but her close friends and family tend to call her Gin. She doesn't mind either way, as long as it's something that doesn't sound stupid.

❝ Some people have called me Gin-Gin. They quickly learn not to. ❞



❝ I've only just turned seventeen. That makes it one year until I will be eligible for the Cure. ❞


❝ And it's not about to change anytime soon. ❞

Physical Description
Let's be blunt: Ginny is pretty. Very pretty. Flowing white hair, large eyes, long lashes, flawless skin, et cetera, et cetera. She's quite curvy, too, but is very self-conscious about her body. As a result, she wears loose clothing all the time in an attempt to cover up her figure. It is for this reason that she's especially fond of jackets.

❝ People ask me why I don't wear prettier, more flattering clothing. I tell them I don't care how I look. They never suspect my words for lies. ❞

She's smiling most of the time. The impression people get from her is something akin to "charismatic honor student who's good at everything." She's brilliant; she stands out; she shines. People admire her confident and resolute personality, and need only take one glance at her to think, "This girl is going places." To them, Ginny is a star.

❝ Ah, but looks can be deceiving. First impressions are usually the least accurate. Somewhere, the mask ends and the real me begins, but they never see it. Almost nobody has. The ones who did are all gone. ❞

❝ Bᴇʏᴏɴᴅ ᴛʜᴇ ᴅɪsɢᴜɪsᴇ. ❞

Beneath the dazzling veneer, Ginny is incredibly insecure. She's had her fair share of crushes, although she denies her feelings every single time. The most recent object of her affections is a certain Theodin Everett, who is also coincidentally her best friend's brother. (Honestly. She'd be mortified if she weren't so busy being in denial.) Because of the way Ginny has been raised, she's intensely philophobic and hates the idea that she could be infected with the deliria. It makes her feel unclean, and unnatural, and unhealthy. But she can't help who she falls in love with, and deep down inside she feels like there is something fundamentally wrong with her. That she is broken. A monstrosity.

❝ People would be disgusted if they really knew me. So I hide myself. I tell people what they want to hear. What they expect to hear. The perfect girl that everyone sees and admires is a fake. ❞

When she's not worrying about what other people think of her, Ginny has a fighting spirit and is very competitive. She takes games as seriously as she takes her tests and exams, tackling them with a fierceness that frankly astonishes people. On the downside, sometimes she may take things a bit too far. She's obsessed with winning, you see, and has been accused quite a few times of being a bad sport.

❝ I love winning. When I win, I don't feel like the failure that I am. ❞

Everything else aside, Ginny is a liar. Over the years, she's lied so much about herself that by now she's become a brilliant actress. She lies because she's scared someone will find out about her imperfections—namely, her on-again off-again bouts of deliria. She lies even to herself, telling herself that what she experiences is not the dreaded disease of love. She's so good that she's gotten even herself half-convinced.

❝ Lies make up my whole life. I hate lying. Thankfully, I only have to hide for one more year. After the Cure, I will be free. ❞

Living this kind of half-life has had detrimental effects on her psyche. She's always been rather suspicious of other people's motives, but what began as suspicion has now developed into something approaching paranoia.

❝ Their eyes are everywhere. ❞

Thoughts About the Cure
Thinking about the Cure raises uncomfortable questions at the back of her mind. Is the government lying to them? Is the Cure really the best solution? Is love really so bad? Does she really want to be Cured? To change? To not feel?

She hates thinking like that, hates thinking these terrible, traitorous thoughts. So she runs away from herself. She doesn't ask questions. And above all, she tries not to think too hard about the Cure.

❝ My personal opinions don't matter. The Cure is the only thing that can fix me. ❞

As stated above, Ginny is good at deceiving people. She lies and acts on a daily basis, and only an extremely perceptive person would be able to separate truth from lies.

Beyond that, Ginny is also very sharp. Hopeless at sports, perhaps, but she always aces her academic exams. She's got a very keen memory, and needs only to glance at something a few times to completely memorize it. She also has a secret love of writing that she keeps hidden from the rest of the world. She'll line her notebooks with poetry of all kinds—couplets and sonnets and free-verse—and sometimes she'll even jot down a short story or two. Ginny always makes sure to burn the notebooks when she's done with them. They're incriminating evidence, after all.

❝ This love of writing is entirely inappropriate. It shames me, and yet at the same time I never want to stop. Is this what deliria is like? ❞

Likes Dislikes
Clouds Falling in love
Loose Clothing Her mother
Stories, especially fairy tales Herself
Poetry Losing
Privacy Lying
Puns Nosy people
Winning Not fitting in
Writing To disappoint people

❝ Rᴇᴘʟᴀʏɪɴɢ ᴛʜᴇ ᴘᴀsᴛ ᴀɴᴅ ᴘʀᴇsᴇɴᴛ. ❞

When she was little, she was very close to her grandfather. He'd always sit her down and tell her the most wondrous stories, and at night would sing her the most beautiful lullabies. She was too little to understand the meaning of the words, but the tales and songs of love touched her heart. She didn't know it at the time, but this was what fueled her interest in fairy tales and poetry. As Ginny grew older, she became more observant. She could tell that there was something different about her grandfather, that something was not quite right about him. Eventually she realized that he must have been infected somehow, or maybe the Cure wore off on him. She was a bit horrified, but couldn't help liking him anyway.

Then one day, her grandfather was hauled away to the Crypts. No warning. No conciliatory gestures. No apologies. Just a terse, "You're under arrest" from the authorities before they did what they had to do. She never saw him again.

❝ I loved my grandfather. I know it's wrong, but I did. ❞

Her father was dragged off not long after. There were whispers, hisses of sympathizer and Invalid and freak. Ginny wasn't quite sure what a sympathizer or an Invalid was, but the "freak" part she understood too well.

The double imprisonment had effects on the rest of her family as well. Her mother, Marianne, had always been rather cold, but was now downright frigid. Ginny hated her, and never talked to her if she could help it. Instead, the girl found comfort in her older sister, Leah.

Leah Hearst was the epitome of "awesome big sister." She was kind, teasing, affectionate—all the things that Ginny craved but was too afraid to seek. She was the only person who Ginny allowed into her heart, and the only one who could get away with calling her "Gin-Gin." Little Ginny loved her sister with all her heart, even though she knew it was wrong and freakish. At that time she didn't care, because she was happy and that was the only thing that mattered.

Then Leah was given the Cure, and nothing was the same anymore. She no longer laughed, or even grinned. No longer teased Ginny, or hugged her, or set aside time to play with her. "Mom" became "Mother" and "Gin-Gin" became "Virginia." Leah even once threatened to report Ginny to the authorities after she caught her writing poetry. Eventually Leah decided she wanted nothing to do with her family, and she left. She didn't look back even once.

❝ She completely changed. It was a good thing. I should have been happy for her. But all I could see was an alien. All I could feel was a strange sense of loss and sadness. You don't have to tell me; I know these are treacherous thoughts. But I can't help the way I think.

…It doesn't matter anymore, anyway. She's gone. Lives on the other side of Portland. Only the other side of town, but it feels like a universe away. ❞

Ginny fell to her poetry and writing for comfort—secret, guilty pleasures that she took care to hide from the rest of the world. Before, Leah was the only one who knew. Not even her mother did. Ginny couldn't stand the thought of being discovered, so she took care to burn up all stories and poems when she was done writing them. Alas, all her precautions had been in vain. Eventually, she was discovered.

It had been a normal day at St. Anne's Highschool for Girls. She'd been doodling couplets on a scrap of paper, not paying attention to the teacher who was droning on about some topic she'd already mastered weeks ago. When the bell rang, she had stood up, ready to go, but then accidentally dropped her paper. Before she could hurriedly retrieve it, someone picked it up.

That was how Ginny met Skylar Everett, and how Skylar stumbled upon Ginny's greatest secret.

❝ It was beyond embarrassing. She was not supposed to see anything. I wanted to die. ❞

Skylar had been surprisingly tolerant of Ginny's perverse obsession with poetry. She had promised to keep Ginny's secret, and from thereon the two of them struck up a hesitant friendship (or at least, it was hesitant on Ginny's part). Until then, Ginny had been on friendly terms with most of the school but had carefully kept her distance, afraid of getting too close, afraid of exposing herself. Skylar, though, was annoyingly stubborn, and Ginny eventually found herself reluctantly fond of the tiny girl.

❝ She's impossible, sometimes. ❞

Ginny knew, vaguely, that Skylar had a twin, but never saw for herself until she went over to Skylar's house one day for a study session. Her twin's name was Theodin Jaynar Everett and he was even shorter than she was. He was also silent and rude and cold. And surprisingly attractive.

❝ Not—not that I was looking, or anything. ❞

And that was the day Ginny met Theodin Everett, and the day that amor deliria nervosa struck once more.

The Deliria
Theodin Everett | Everett Sibling 3 | ❝ I don't know what you're talking about. I don't have deliria. I really don't. ❞

Finnigan Everett | Everett Sibling 5 | ❝ Yes, I've seen him around. He seems nice enough, if a bit odd. ❞

Skylar Everett | Best Friend | ❝ A nice girl. She has known some of my darkest secrets for years now, but has promised not to tell anyone. So far, she has kept this promise. I cannot help but wonder how long this will last. You may think me cynical, but the truth is that people change. Skylar is friendly now, but what will it be like in a year, after she gets the Cure? She will change. I know she will. And I? I will move on. ❞

Theodin Everett | ❝ For the last time, there is no relationship. I just…like to follow him around sometimes, that's all. And, uh, maybe write him a poem…or two…or ten…but—but that's it! I don't know him, and there is definitely no relationship! ❞

She's got a terse, almost disjointed way of speaking. Can be rather evasive when she wants to be—for example, when broaching uncomfortable or sensitive subjects during conversation, she tends to skirt around the issue without really talking about it.

She's also ridiculously fond of puns. She thinks they're amusing, even the really bad ones.

So begins...

Virginia Hearst's Story


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Virginia Hearst

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❝ Virginia Hearst ❞

Polished eyes, crusted with cold shaded light
Shiny and painted with blue undertones
Right becomes left and left becomes right
Flaunted the skin, hidden the bones
Funny how mirrors become all you see
Pasty reflections and secret diseases
Smiling, I wonder how long it would be
Before the glass shattered to pieces, to pieces

On Saturday morning, Ginny was at the beach.

Mother Ocean, her chambers of water so deep
Upon liquid shelves my secrets she'll keep
Mother Ocean, she witnessed the words that I weep
Unanchored my worries and sang me to sleep

The setting changes from the-beaches to Portland


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Everett Character Portrait: Theodin Jaynar Everett Character Portrait: Virginia Hearst Character Portrait: Finnigan Everett Character Portrait: Lucy Everett

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❝ Sᴋʏʟᴀʀ Eʟɪᴀs Eᴠᴇʀᴇᴛᴛ ❞
❝ Cᴜʀɪᴏsɪᴛʏ ᴀʟᴡᴀʏs ᴋɪʟʟᴇᴅ ᴛʜᴇ ᴄᴀᴛ. Bᴜᴛ... ʏᴏᴜ ᴋɴᴏᴡ, sᴀᴛɪsғᴀᴄᴛɪᴏɴ ʙʀᴏᴜɢʜᴛ ɪᴛ ʙᴀᴄᴋ. ❞

Skylar settled down in her usual chair, watching steam rise up from the stove Aunt Carol was crowding around. Possibilities were folding out in front of her, in her own mind. She could go to the beach, help Uncle William at the Stop-N-Save to get some money for art supplies, go get some ice cream, or maybe she could just see what Virginia was doing, to get rid of the decisions, even though she was almost sure that Virginia was at the beach. It amused her sometimes when she thought or said that- 'Virginia was at the beach'. If she went up to some person who didn't know Virginia, and told them that, they'd probably think she was crazy, saying a state was at the beach.

When Lucy came up and asked Skylar what she was going to do today, Skylar was snapped out of her trail of thoughts. Glancing over at Lucy as she propped her elbow up on the table, and rested her chin in her palm, she pondered over the question for a second. "Honestly, I have no idea," she mused, once again flipping through the possibilities. "There's so much stuff I could do, and this is only the first day of our week break! I don't know how I'm going to survive- I'll probably die from boredom!"

❝ Lᴀᴛᴇʀ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ɴɪɢʜᴛ; 8:00 P.ᴍ. ❞

ImageThere was only so much one could do in a day, but Skylar felt like she had done a lot, truthfully. In the morning, she had rushed down to Shell Beach after breakfast, mostly with hopes that she might catch an ending glimpse of the sunrise. In the end, she hadn't, but on the bright side, she had ran into Virginia there. After a while she had decided to leave though, since she didn't have her swimsuit- even though it was always suspicious to others when people swam, mostly people her age. And so, she had instead headed down through town for a while, particularly to stop at the ice cream shop for a quick treat. She wished that Theo, or at least one of her siblings could've come there with her, but they were probably all busy doing their own things. After that, she went to the Stop-N-Save for the rest of the day, even though there were so many other possibilities.

Now, after a day of work, she was almost completely out of energy. Falling back onto the couch- back in Carol's house, that is -she put a hand over her eyes, yawning loudly, "Ah, working all day is just so tiring," Rolling onto her side, she caught a glimpse of the clock in the kitchen as it ticked away to no end. 8:27 she thought. Aunt Carol and Uncle William were asleep, and the storm was supposed to be rolling in by now. She doubted there was going to be a storm though, since the sky had been perfectly clear just half an our ago. Then again, the light coming in from the windows had been dimming ever since she had gotten home.
Oh well, she thought, closing her eyes. It won't affect us anyways, since we're all inside. Maybe there'll be a black out though... Hopefully not for too long...

Black out. Power. Electricity. The fences. It was impossible not to wonder when thoughts like these came up. Did the Invalids have electricity? Were they safe from the storm? How did they even survive out there, in the world separate from her own; the world known as the Wilds. Wait, what was she thinking? Of course they didn't have electricity, they were living in the forest for gosh sake! Then again... what if there were cities out there, communities beyond her imagination? What if they had managed to produce there own electricity, and were doing everything she thought was impossible for people of the sort?
Jeez, she wasn't even supposed to be thinking these things. If anyone knew all the questions she had, she would be getting a definite tour through the Crypts, for them to 'remind her what all the consequences were.' At least she didn't actually attempt to figure out the answers to her questions... or, at least, she hadn't yet. Like everyone said 'curiosity killed the cat'. But... didn't satisfaction always bring it back?
In her case, hopefully it would turn out that way when the time came.

Now that all her thoughts about the Invalids were cluttering her mind, the cure just had to butt it's way in. First it started out with her thinking about how long it was until her Evaluation Day, then her cure... Then came the wonders about who she would end up marrying. She remembered when she was little, how she would goof off with her friends at school, and they'd all pretend that they had been paired with famous celebrities, the sons of millionaires, and a bunch of other impossible fantasies. Those times had been filled with daydreams about smiles and laughs, a passionate kiss to bring together a future mother and a father. Once her mother died though, everything had been torn apart... It was like someone had came and ripped every bit of happiness out of her. She started seeing different sides of the cure, started wondering what was behind the fence, whether it was something that brought violence and unhappiness, or joy and... love.
They said the cure would get rid of these thoughts, but would it really make her happy?

Opening her eyes once again, Skylar sat up, trying to think of something else to get all these forbidden thoughts out of her head. Skylar was easily read by practically everybody around her; and, like she sometimes heard from Theo, Fishi, and all her other siblings, 'she wore her heart on her sleeve', so she had to be careful when it came to her annoying curiosity.
One more glance at the clock, and a pang of boredom finally smacked her in the face. She let out a load groan, "I'm so bored!" She knew the rest of her siblings were home right now, so the only possible resolution to her boredom was to go pester Theo for a piggy back ride around the house.

❝ Mɪssɪᴏɴ XX023. ❞

Skylar Everett has been diagnosed with something even worse than the amor deliria nervos; boredom. However, we have finally come up with a reasonable cure. An unknown creature called a Theodin must be ridden in the art of piggy back rides for enjoyment, ridding the diseased of this horrible disease known as boredom.
Assigned Mission; Hunt down a Theodin, and pester him into giving Skylar Everett a piggy back ride of high quality.
Deadline; Before Skylar Everett is overcome by the disease to the point of no return.

That won't be too hard... she thought, abruptly standing up from the couch. "Theooooo!" she hollered, ready to attack with pestering, and expecting the unexpected. Right when she got to her feet though, the bag she had carried with her to the Stop-N-Save was knocked onto the ground, spilling it's contents everywhere, much to Skylar's annoyance. With a load sigh, she delayed the piggy back ride for just a bit in order to pick up everything that was now scattered on the ground.

It was then that the whole day fell apart, and shattered in front of her eyes.

It's not here... she thought, looking practically everywhere in the small living room with wide, panicked eyes; under the couch, under the bookshelf, on the table, under the couch cushions. It's not here! If anyone found it, she'd be dead. Uncle William would show it to Aunt Carol, and Carol would say that Skylar was infected with the deliria. She'd call the labs, and they'd reschedule her cure for the next Wednesday. She would never to be able to wonder, to ask, to daydream ever again.
All of this could happen over one single, little, bronze locket, with a picture of Skylar's mother tucked away inside. It was the only one she had left, and to make everything worse, her camera was gone as well.

Calm down, Skylar, Skylar thought, starting to pace through the living room in circles. You probably just left them at the Stop-N-Save, and they'll be there in the morning. You can wake up really early and take the key, then run there right before William gets there, and say that you're just so eager to work that you wanted to see if you could handle opening up the shop by yourself. Yeah, that's what'll happen, and when you get there the locket will be right there, on the counter, perfectly fine right next to your camera. It'll be over before you kn- Oh who am I kidding?!

Before she could have any second thoughts, she grabbed her bag off of the table, everything that had fallen onto the ground earlier back into their rightful place in the bag. She then ran straight up the stairs, and to the room she shared with Fishi and Theo. "Theo, Fishi," she said in a whisper just to be careful not to wake Carol, who's bedroom was only steps away, a pleading look in her eye as she spoke. "I, uh... left something at Virginia's house today, since I had taken a break from working to hang out with her earlier. I'm just going to go and get it super quickly. Please cover for me, alright? Just, stuff some pillows in my bed, and- I dunno! Please, just make sure Carol stays asleep! And Uncle William! I'll be back super quickly!"

Without giving either of them a chance to reply, Skylar was back sliding down the stairs, and running straight for the door, grabbing the keys to the Stop-N-Save from their rightful place on a hook in the kitchen, and sparing a second to glance at the clock. 8:35 P.M. It was a twenty minute run to get to the Stop-N-Save, but if she pushed herself enough, she could probably cut the time in half. Her heart condition slipped her mind at the moment, but she had no time to think about that right now! Oh, how she'd do anything to have Hannah's running abilities at the moment!

It wasn't that hard to avoid the regulators, with their loud walkie talkies making static sounds echo from a mile away. The one problem though was the rain, that was slowly getting harder and stronger. She managed though, even though she only had one measly hoodie to protect her from the bullet-like rain and wind. The run passed in no time, and even though it had felt like only ten minutes or so, it truthfully took her fifteen minutes. That meant it was 8:50 P.M., ten minutes till curfew. When she finally reached the shop, a group of regulators were coming up a street of other buildings, heading for a turn that led straight to the Stop-N-Save. Panic flooded over Skylar, and when she reached the door she fumbled around with the keys, all the dangers of what she was doing finally hitting her right in the face.

Just before the regulators turned the corner, she managed to open the door, and slam it shut behind her. Panting heavily, and forgetting to lock the doors behind her, she dove behind the counter, feeling the light of the flashlights from the regulators shining in through the windows, like millions of sharp eyes trying to sniff her out of the darkness of the storm. All she could do for now was hide, and wait for them to pass, and after that, the search was on. Fear was rushing through her, yet adrenaline secretly seeped through her body. Maybe it was the adrenaline of fear, or maybe she truthfully was excited- it didn't matter now. There was no running back to the house now, no curling up under her blankets and daydreaming about days spent with her mother. She could only wait, and hope that no one would come inside the shop once she started searching for her locket and camera, since they were obviously not placed on the counter.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Everett Character Portrait: Virginia Hearst Character Portrait: Finnigan Everett

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❝ Virginia Hearst ❞

Lie down below
Where can you go?
Sigh, slide, slow
You're just a shadow
Just a shadow

Ginny nearly had a heart attack when someone walked in on her during her private poetry fest at the beach. She had shot straight up, swept away all evidence with a quick scuff of her shoes, and tried not to look too guilty. Fortunately, it turned out to be just Skylar, who had randomly decided to drop by Shell Beach to say hello. Honestly, that girl was going to be the death of her someday.

(Although, in retrospect, she really should have known better. Skylar was the only one who knew of her secret hideout, after all.)

Fortunately (or unfortunately?) the visit didn't last for very long. After a quick good morning and an exchange of pleasantries, Skylar had wandered away, off to do whatever it was Skylar did in her spare time. Probably frolicking through a meadow or rescuing kittens from trees or something. Those seemed like very Skylar-esque things to do.

Somewhere in the distance, a seagull wailed. It was a mournful, reproachful sound, and reminded Ginny that she couldn't stay here forever. Time to go, she thought. If she dawdled any longer, it would make her mother suspicious. Maybe if she had time, she could come again later today.

"Goodbye," she said to the ocean. The water lapped quietly at the shore and whispered back a breathy farewell, a silky harmony of sighing chords. Ginny took a deep breath of soft loamy air before finally turning around to leave. She walked away to the sound of seagull cries.


At around eight o' clock, the door to the Hearst household swung open and a weary-looking Ginny staggered through. Her fur hat was tilted askew, her scarf tangled up in her hair and jacket like angry brambles. Grocery bags adorned her arms like Christmas tree ornaments. With one leg, she awkwardly closed the door and then lurched over to the kitchen, where she all but collapsed onto the floor. The only thing that prevented her from completely losing her composure was the presence of a stern-faced Marianne lingering by the counter.

"Hello, Mother," Ginny said evenly while trying to balance a particularly bulky bag on the countertop. With a sigh, Marianne reached over to the fat, clunky grocery bag and wrestled the unwieldy thing over to the refrigerator.

"Virginia," her mother replied with a disapproving frown. "It's terribly late. Do try to hurry up next time."

Ginny made a vague noise of agreement, but was too tired for a proper response. It had been a long day. After breakfast, she had briefly considered escaping the house to visit Skylar under the guise of a "school project" or "study session," but her mother had other plans. Apparently, Marianne had decided that early September was the perfect time for a little spring cleaning. Thus, the two of them spent the entire morning and subsequent afternoon marching around the house wielding dusters and dustpans. When evening rolled by, Marianne shoved a grocery list in Ginny's face ("I believe there's a sale today") and told her to be home by eight. Then she ordered her daughter out of the house and proceeded to attack the floors with a rather ferocious-looking mop.

Truth to be told, Ginny was pleased with the excuse to get out of the house. She finished her shopping as quickly as she could (at Stop-N-Save, she caught a glimpse of Skylar, but the girl was so absorbed in her work she didn't notice Ginny's hurried greeting) and managed to finish everything by seven. It was like this, covered head to foot in shopping bags, that she made her way to Shell Beach for a glorious break before finally trudging back home and arriving just a little bit after the curfew Marianne had set for her. And, well, it was tiring, dragging all those bags around everywhere. So her exhaustion was justified.

The telephone rang from down the hallway, shrill and insistent. Marianne paused in the unloading of groceries and shot Ginny a glance. "Oh, that must be Betty. Virginia, be a dear and take care of the rest." She hurried down the room, leaving Ginny alone amidst a sea of shopping bags. Ginny sighed and got to work.

Five minutes later, after storing everything in their rightful positions, Ginny realized that there was a grave problem. Specifically? She was missing a bag. And it was, arguably, the most important bag of all. In a rising state of panic, she double-checked, and then triple-checked, and then quadruple-checked all of the groceries. After scanning everything over for the fifth time, it was unmistakable. She could no longer deny the ugly truth that was staring her in the face.

The bag with the Pop Tarts was gone.

The bag. With the Pop Tarts. Was gone.

Along with her wallet.

Ginny fought the urge to tear at her hair. This was terrible beyond belief. Not only her wallet, but also the Pop Tarts were nowhere to be seen. Oh, hell, the Pop Tarts. Her mother was obsessed with Pop Tarts. Ate them every morning. When Marianne got up tomorrow and discovered their absence…

Ginny felt a shiver crawl down her spine. She was so, so dead.

Fortunately, Ginny was able to load everything by the time Marianne was done with her call. For now, her mother was still oblivious to the Pop Tart Plight. Of course, the happy illusion would be shattered the instant Marianne opened the refrigerator the next morning, but for now Ginny was safe. The girl trudged to her room and flopped down on her bed, but after ten minutes of lying there with her eyes open she realized that she just wasn't tired anymore. Funny how these things worked—ten minutes ago she wanted nothing more than to just curl up in her bed hibernate for a few weeks. And now? Now she was too nervous to even close her eyes for more than twenty seconds.

Shell Beach, she thought. It had to be Shell Beach. That was the only place she went to before coming home—she must have accidentally left the bag with the Pop Tarts somewhere at the seashore. Somewhere. By itself. Where it could be possible found. By regulators.

…Well, this sucked.

Ginny sat up and propped up her elbows on her knees. The way she saw it, she had two options.

1. Sneak back to the beach and snatch back the Pop Tarts. Oh, and her wallet, too.


2. Leave the bag where it is, and face Marianne's subsequent wrath in the morning.

On one hand, sneaking back would so get her killed if she got caught. But if didn't do anything, then she'd risk detection of Pop Tarts by hostile forces (i.e. regulators). And what if they traced the darn things back to her? And what if Marianne got wind of it? She wasn't supposed to be at Shell Beach. Shell Beach was swarming with rumors of the infected, and her reputation would be torn to shreds if her frequent exploits to the beach became common knowledge.

So. Should she sneak back, risk her life and brave the coming storm while breaking at least fifty laws? Or should she just wait here, safely in her room, and hope nothing would happen?

Ginny heaved a sigh. Put like that, the choice was obvious.

She went to her wardrobe and began to pull on a raincoat.

Ginny was cursing herself. Of all the stupid, thoughtless, harebrained

Thunder crashed, a distant gong that resonated with the light percussion of rain. Ginny shivered in her bulky rain gear as she crept along the shadows of trees and fences. Just to be safe, she took the longer, more tortuous route to the beach that barely anyone used. The storm, while terrifying, actually provided her a very good cover and it was relatively easy to slip past the occasional straggler rushing to get to their house before nine. The first time a group of regulators passed by, Ginny's heart nearly stopped, but they proved to be easy to avoid. The regulators were loud creatures, graceless predators who prowled down the streets and swung their flashlights like lighthouse beacons. Not exactly the most subtle people in the world.

At last she reached the beach. Her watch informed her that it was 8:28 PM, about half an hour before curfew. That gave her…not a lot of time at all.

She was scurrying along the dark shore and had almost reached her little hideaway when a jagged line of light speared down from the sky, illuminating the beach for a scant half-second.

The half-second was enough. For within that tiny timeframe, the storm had highlighted for her a lumpy outline of a human being. Ginny barely had time to wonder what on earth was this crazy person doing camping out here in a freaking storm before she lost her footing and smashed right into said crazy person.

Well. So much for secrecy.

No time left for this decision
Race and fly and run and hide
Tempest roar in rain-smeared vision
Roiling sea and crashing tide
Fallen from the storm's derision
Onto rocks that slip and slide
Stand up from a strange collision
Sigh and tend our wounded pride


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Virginia Hearst Character Portrait: Finnigan Everett

0.00 INK

❝ Finnegan Slade Everett ❞
♮ No man is an island, oh, this I know ♮


It didn't feel cold at Shell Beach.

Here he was, laying in the middle of a growing tempest with the world shaking and rumbling all around him, threatening to tear him apart or drag him off to sea, and somehow, Finnegan felt more alive than he'd ever felt. The wind bent underbrush and trees alike as if they delicate flowers, as if they were dandelions buds pinched between a giant's fingers, blown away in a puff of breath. Leaves and loose sticks that had been nestled in the tangled foliage of the surrounding shrubs, successfully hiding him from Regulators and passerbyers alike, were uprooted and forced to dance around in the wind before falling to the ground around him. A bird's nest of tangled dreams, of wild fantasies, of words that could destroy him. He imagined folks hurrying home to beat the curfew. A scuffling bunch of umbrella-heads and bright yellow rain jackets, always worrying, always afraid of something gobbling them up. They lived in a state of constant huddling and listening and hustling emergency. They'd always be running from something – even storms, even beautiful catastrophes that were unbiased and unprejudiced in their subversion. It was only a little bit of rain, anyway. Rain pit-pattered across Finnegan's face, rolling down in rivulets. He closed his eyes.

He remembered her picking him up; swinging him in wide circles, cooing how he too could be a grand pirate, sailor of the seas, if only he squeezed his eyes hard enough. It was all there, if he knew where to look. He remembered her wriggling toes, her small hands, with his even smaller hands fitting somewhere in the folds. He remembered her sewing yellow stars and moons on the underbelly of his sheets, tiny constellations, so he could enjoy the night sky without the Regulators knowing. She let them fly, she let them sing. With all those things, Finnegan still remembered her nine o'clock cries. He remembered beating his tiny, ineffectual fists against the wall. He sang for her. He always did.

“I'm on a fire escape, where you said to wait, and I did.
Yes, I did. Oh, I heard the cold wind say, “You're a fool to wait—”

A peal of thunder snatched him away from his thoughts, from the small amount of peace he'd acquired. His voice hitched, breaking off into a slight gasp. How hadn't he noticed before? He was soaked all the way down to the bone. Here he was, laying there in a cold, mucky puddle in the middle of the night, past curfew, with the storm-sounds all around him. The ocean's writhing tide lapped closer and closer, nipping away at the beach as if it were a sandy meal. It was nowhere near him, but still, Finnegan felt as if it was growing alarmingly close. The bright flash of light, illuminating the craggy environment, was all he needed to see the upside down form of another person crashing into him, all pinwheeling limbs and fumbling legs. His heart skipped a pace, hopscotching straight into his throat – a Regulator, shit shit shit! He hadn't seen the telltale signs of a lamplight strolling onto his face, nor had he heard anyone yelling. The likelihood of him hearing anything besides the increasingly heavy smacks of thunder, growing louder and louder, was slim. It sounded like a gigantic train approaching, chugging through the sky with the intent of drowning out all other sounds in it's wake. He momentarily braced himself for probing fingers, assaulting hands that'd wrap around his neck and squeeze.

The storm was in full swing. In mere moments, the approaching white sheet dropped down on them like a chilly, sopping wet blanket, like a thief in the night. Every inch of joy, of wonder, he'd felt moments before evaporated. It was replaced by a distinct, rarely felt dollop of fear, colouring his vision with blotches of darkness and monsters and strangling Regulators. His arms instinctively flew out, more to save himself from getting stepped on than anything else, but it'd inadvertently saved the imagined-Regulator from smashing their head on the ground. He quickly swung around so that he could manoeuvre over his assailant, knees straddling and fingers snatching a handful of the person's shirt. It was only then that Finnegan realized that this person, this girl, wasn't a Regulator. The thunder roared like a lonely, ignored beast, ignoring what was happening below. It was a familiar girl with rain-flecked eyelashes, indigo eyes. His hand loosened, then released.

“It's past curfew.” Stupid words plucked out of a stupid mouth – all metaphors, and beautiful soliloquizes, and red-tipped birds dancing in his palm flit away with the wind. He was a wreck, a train crash, a dump truck over turned on its side, leaking everything he was onto the road. What if she told someone he was here? Better yet, why was she out here in the first place? Ginny. Even in the growing darkness, with brief flashes of glinting bolts, Finnegan could recognize her. Ginny. You almost stepped on my face.” He commented wryly, then quickly added, as an afterthought, “Sorry I scared you. What the hell are you doing out here, anyway?” Finnegan finally scrambled off her, holding his hand out to help her back to her feet. His fingers were already numb, goose-pebbled and beyond cold. He regretted moving so abruptly. His spine felt like knotted vertebrae pieces, with seized, sluggish muscles. Trying to explain himself to his siblings would be absurd. If his mucky clothes, sandy sneakers, and wet-dog appearance was anything to go by, then he'd be screwed. Here were two denizens of Portland, sneaking out after curfew in a storm.

They were already screwed.

He suddenly felt like he should be explaining himself. It came out in one uncontrollable wheeze of air, as if he were a balloon releasing it's contents. He came here because he wouldn't see her in an album, or a photograph, or even in the songs he sang. She was the ocean. He couldn't bring her home. His lungs expanded, then tightened. “We're not allowed to keep pictures of her, so this is the closest I can get. I don't feel cold here. This is the only place I don't feel cold—” Here he was, standing in one of Portland's worst storms, yelling at someone he hardly knew about something she probably didn't even care about. Then, Finnegan laughed. It sounded like riding the ferriswheel and hanging yourself over the bar that was supposed to hold you safe and secure. It sounded like dancing in the rain.

The setting changes from portland to The Beaches


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Virginia Hearst Character Portrait: Finnigan Everett

0.00 INK

❝ Virginia Hearst ❞

Split the leaves of gold-framed books
Brush the surface with a plastic hand
But the puddle's deeper than it looks
And it's like sinking in quicksand

Never meant to go down this road
Never meant to wear this scarlet brand
This white-rimmed guilt's an exponential load
And it's like sinking in quicksand

Ginny didn't bash her head open on the rock-lined shore. Which was fortunate. She'd rather keep her brain inside her cranium, thank you very much, and the mess afterward would be such a hassle to clean up anyway. What was unfortunate was that there was this dark, massive hulk of a person pinning her down and clenching savagely at her clothes.

…How on earth did she get herself into these kinds of messes?

Briefly, she considered her options.

1. Scream.

2. Scream louder.

3. Punch her attacker in the face.

Well, in this monstrosity of a storm, screaming probably wouldn't be very useful. Screaming louder wouldn't make much of a difference, either, which meant that violence was the way to go. Her fist was already beginning its journey towards the mysterious person's nose when a lance of vivid light tore through the sky, helpfully illuminating Ginny's surroundings.

Her hand paused. This…was not a stranger. She knew this person.

"It's past curfew," said Finnegan Everett.

Ginny glanced at the face of her watch. 8:32 PM. True, the curfew in light of the storm had long since passed, but there was still a little time until the actual curfew, right? Right. As long as she still made it home by nine, she'd still be a decent human being.

"You almost stepped on my face," he continued, and Ginny felt a little spasm of guilt for even contemplating punching him in the face. What would she have done if she had hurt Skylar's younger brother? Even disregarding the fact that Ginny would probably be dragged off to the Crypts for assault, Skylar would never talk to her again. And for some reason, that thought was like red-hot iron—untouchable, unbearable. She recoiled from it.

Lost in thought as she was, it took Ginny a while to realize that Skylar's brother was holding out his hand in a gesture of help. Without thinking, she accepted it; the folds of his palms burned ice-cold against her own.

"Thank you," she said automatically. She began brushing down her grime-speckled raincoat, trying to rid herself of any evidence of the impromptu tumble.

It wasn't until she was brushing the last stray pebbles from her coat that it hit her, hard and heavy, like the falling stack of ten-ton bricks.

She had talked to a boy.

No, forget that—she had touched a boy. Practically held hands with him.

Oh gawd, she thought with a terrible, dawning sense of horror. Oh gawd, I did it. I'm turning into a criminal.

It was mind-boggling. Yesterday, she had been the perfect, upstanding citizen of Portland. Golden and shining, a role-model for all. Today, she had deteriorated into a common delinquent. Sneaking out at night, talking and touching boys. When would it stop, this horrible nosediving spiral? Would it even stop? Would she wake up tomorrow and then suddenly start spouting love songs, splash graffiti over the walls of downtown stores? Would she wake up, a year from now, as an infamous felon on the run from the law? Wake up twenty years from now as some sort of godforsaken mass murderer? What would her mother say?

Dimly, she was aware of Finnegan ranting about something or other. Something about pictures and the cold. She didn't know, she wasn't paying attention. All she knew was that she was turning into a monster and oh hell those lights the regulators are coming for us hurry and hide quick quick quick they're coming

Skylar's brother was laughing now, a careless, wild sound that the storm did little to smother—was this boy crazy? That laughing was—

Wonderful, gorgeous, free, her heart whispered.

Dangerous, reckless, stupid, she corrected.

The lights, diluted as they were with the falling sheets of rain, were nonetheless growing brighter. There was little time to spare. With only the briefest of hesitations, Ginny grabbed Finnegan's arm (Dear lord, I'm touching him again) and began to drag him over towards her usual hiding place underneath the rocky outcrop. Hopefully she'd find her Pop Tarts there. And even if she didn't, it'd give them a place to wait out the coming storm. Both figuratively, and literally.

'Cuz when the sky crumbles down and volcanoes blow
Sometimes you just gotta smile and let it go

The setting changes from the-beaches to Portland


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Virginia Hearst Character Portrait: Finnigan Everett

0.00 INK

❝ Finnegan Slade Everett ❞
♮ Science and progress don't speak as loud as my heart ♮


He'd already given up the hopes of making it back home on time. Finnegan knew he was a fast runner, but he wasn't a magician. He couldn't click his heels and wish himself home, either. The likelihood of him making a mistake, turning down the wrong alleyway, and fumbling straight into a marching gang of Regulators was all too feasible. The Crypts would not succeed in gaining another prisoner. He appraised her in the dim light, with the storm's occasional flash of lightning: simple clothes, absolutely soaked. With feathery hair, promptly flattened to her forehead, and indigo eyes, blinking away beads of water like liquid-snowflakes. What was he? A sleeping dog in the rain, dishevelled and rusting at the joints. Hardly worthy of being in her presence, waggling his fingers, with his fingernails clutching bits of dirt. She was ironed flat, completely aware of who she was, while he was a creased, discarded shirt, stained from frequent use, and easily replaceable. He had plenty of siblings that could be proper Portland denizens. He, obviously, could not hope to fit in, or puzzle himself out enough to fit into their flawless archetype. Subservience wasn't in his blood – that much was clear.

Her hand folded neatly into his own, validating that what was happening, at that very instant, was real, was genuine. He wasn't dreaming. No amount of cheek-pinches could wake him, anyway. He wouldn't want to. Finnegan's mouth curled into a small smile, throwing down a bridge between them, as if it were a small link being formed out of seashells and discarded bottles. Even if it didn't last very long, and they parted ways never to speak of their beach-side reconnaissance ever again, then he could still say that he was momentarily holding the world in his palm, turning it over like the smooth side of the rocks found at Shell Beach. He was free, and she was, too. Lifting his chin, lifting his gaze, Finnegan pulled her to her feet without much effort, though he kept her hand clasped in his own, only to sheepishly drop it when she pulled back to brush off her raincoat – wouldn't really do her much good because it was soaked, and whatever bits of grass and pebbles would cling to her like stubborn burdock’s.

The icy breeze drummed on the surface of his skin, goose-pebbling his exposed arms, threading it's disapproving fingers across his shoulders, and reminding him that he might've condemned himself to the Crypts by lingering here with a girl, no less. How many rules had he broken in the span of five minutes? His heartsick heart didn't care, even if his siblings would tug his ears clean off for being so desperately reckless, for endangering his entire family and bringing even more gloom down on them. If one of them was hauled off to the Crypts, then the rest would end up being scrutinized; put under telescopes, and needles, and hasty surgeries to keep the infection from spreading at such a rapid rate. He shrugged his shoulders, in the tepid effort of saying no, no, it was nothing, even though I almost knocked your block off because I thought you were a Regulator.

Here he was, Finnegan Everett, standing in a brutal, unforgiving storm, with a girl, no less, laughing like it was the funniest thing in the world. Not just a girl, but one who was the epitome of perfection in studious endeavours, in monitoring her emotions, in keeping everything in check so that no one would raise any inquisitive eyebrows. She seemed to know when to speak, and when to look beautiful. She was, in fact, a queen of beauty, grace, and of course – anything and everything that Portland applauded, and strictly encouraged. His hands were cold, numb things, clutching at his abdomen to stifle his laughter, to pull it back in because it was transposing into uncomfortable cramps. He hadn't laughed like that in a long time, too long to recall. What was that look on her face? Revulsion? Disgust? Intrigue? This multi-chambered girl, so unexpectedly calm, was now looking at him like he'd exposed himself. Like she'd just found a dirty stray rolling around on her immaculate carpet. He snorted loudly, pressed his fingers against his stomach and pointed at her face, grinning widely.

He decided, then and there, that he wanted to know her better. To figure out why she was looking at him so sternly, as if they'd committed the grandest of atrocities; stealing goodies from the Shop 'n Save, gallivanting down the streets hand-in-hand, laughing loudly at nothing at all, or sneaking away to the wilds. This was nothing. It didn't feel wrong. He was holding poems in his heart like tenderhearted secrets, clutching them like individual wishes, and she was standing there, gawking like a fish out of water. Already, Finnegan's heart was knocking at the walls in his chest, demanding release, demanding something that, as denizens of Portland, they weren't allowed to utter aloud.

“What's that look on your face—,” he started to say, snagged raw from his previous bout of laughter, before Ginny snatched his arm, dragging him away from where he'd been standing moments ago. There was no hesitance, no irrefutable reason for him to flinch away. It was only then, scrambling away from the mucky path, that he spotted the diluted lights in the distance, growing increasingly brighter and less watery, like a lighthouse that had finally finished it's circuit. The moved into the ocean-salted cave, alcove, mini-outcrop of rocks that hid them away from the thick sheets of rain, or circling strobes of flashlights presumably checking the hilltops for wayward citizens. He puffed his cheeks, then breathed out, long and hard, in relief.

“Now, that was crazy. You've got good intuition, I didn't even notice how close they were.” He commented with a low whistle, clicking his fingers. If it weren't for Ginny, then they really might've been caught. At least they were mostly out of the rain. “God, my hearts beating so fast. No, really, feel it.” Then, as quickly, and unhesitatingly, as he'd stumbled after her, Finnegan took up her hand and placed it on his chest, resting his own on top of hers. Like that was the normal thing to do in the Everett household – because it was, truly, honestly.

I don't know if someone else could handle me
I don't know what I'm suppose to be
You're the only one who really sees
You get me

The setting changes from portland to The Beaches


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Virginia Hearst Character Portrait: Finnigan Everett Character Portrait: Caroline Louise Makota

0.00 INK

❝ Virginia Hearst ❞

Pretty pale plastic, shiny shallow shell
Don't do nothing drastic, don't make your life a hell
Smile and wave, smile and wave, flawless strategy
But he knows you know I know it's just an empty eulogy

Skylar's brother heaved a sigh, breathless and relieved and colored with something almost like amusement. "Now, that was crazy. You've got good intuition, I didn't even notice how close they were."

Ginny cast him a wry glance. Intuition? More like paranoia. But of course, he wouldn't know, would he? Wouldn't know how everything affected her—the shriveled, unforgiving gaze of the public's eye that seared her dry. Wouldn't know how she would gather wisps of poetry from her heart, swollen with disease; how poisonous words would spill from her hands on her weaker days, pouring out like a horrible, lurid flood. Then again, that was the point. He wasn't supposed to know. No one was.

(Sometimes, Ginny really hated Skylar Everett.)

No matter. The boy probably didn't mean anything by it. It was, to him, a harmless statement. A compliment. A peace offering. So Ginny only nodded and turned her attention back to their surroundings. Her eyes scanned the rocks, searching, searching for—

There. A flash of white. Ghostly plastic. Anomaly of soft wrinkles cradled in the belly of a jagged cave.

The Pop Tarts.

Ginny almost pounced on the darned things, but managed to restrain herself. She shuffled over as primly as she could while clad in thick unwieldy rain boots, then leaned over and scooped it up with one—careful, delicate, controlled—sweep of her arm. The plastic bag was slick with frosty condensation; nonetheless, she clutched at it with the desperate relief of a dying thing. The lumpy tangle of worry in Ginny's stomach loosened, and she allowed herself a slow exhale of relief. Up until then, the world had been frozen in a state of nightmarish chaos. She'd disobeyed her mother, snuck out of her house, broken curfew, held hands with a boy. But it was worth it. If only for these fiendish pastries, it was worth it. The world sighed, thawed out and continued to spin. Life went on.

…And promptly shuddered back to a halt when out of nowhere, Finnegan Everett grabbed her hand and placed. It. On. His. Chest.

On his thrice-damned chest.

It was so very sudden and so very wrong that she almost dropped her Pop Tarts. Thankfully, she had the soundness of mind not to. On the other hand, what the heck was she supposed to do now? Her frantic mind raced, furiously reviewing years of conservative Portland schooling. No one had ever taught her what to do in this situation. What was the appropriate way to deal with…with this? It wasn't like they taught this at school. Unless she somehow missed some crucial portion of the curriculum? "Alright, class, today we're going to discuss what you should do if you're ever ambushed by an insane overly-affectionate stranger at night while sneaking out after curfew to find a bag of misplaced Pop Tarts. We'll go over procedure, emergency protocol, and subsequent therapy. Any questions?"

…Granted, Skylar's brother wasn't a total stranger. He was, well, Skylar's brother. But it didn't change the fact that she barely knew him and he was—oh gawd, he'd placed his other hand on top of hers while she was preoccupied. Hello there, Skylar's brother. Go right ahead, Skylar's brother, I don't mind. Might we hug each other and cuddle up as well? Perhaps we'll dance out into the storm, ride off together into the stormy sunset on the backs of dolphins? Sure thing, Skylar's brother, just remind me to grab my one-way ticket to hell while we're at it.

Staring into the unsettling, earnest eyes of Finnegan Everett, Ginny had no idea what to do. But she had to do something. Each second that crawled by dragged the situation into a deeper pit of awkwardness.

In the end, she did what was most instinctual for her after years of deception: she smiled at Skylar's brother and pretended there was nothing wrong. And if her smile was a bit…artificial, well then—she was stressed, alright?


Ginny's pleasant expression didn't change in the slightest, but she nonetheless felt a jolt of fear. Regulator was her first thought. It didn't matter that the unfamiliar voice was high and scared and feminine—that could be some sort of ploy to lure out curfew-breaking stragglers. No, she and Skylar's brother were going to stay right here. Better safe than sorry.

But then the voice cried out again and Ginny felt a sliver of doubt. What if this person wasn't a Regulator? What if someone actually needed help? What if the actual Regulators heard the fearful cry? The Regulators would be drawn to their location like vultures to carrion. The person would be caught, and the Regulators would sweep the area based on the logic that, where one rat was, there were bound to be more lurking about in the area. She and Skylar's brother would be found. She and Skylar's brother would be ruined. Immediately scheduled for the Cure, and subject to public scandal. And while she was relatively unconcerned about the Cure, her reputation was another matter entirely. Because more than anything else, Ginny hated disappointing people.

With a gentleness belying her inner turmoil, she removed her hand from Finnegan's grasp. Then—slowly, cautiously—she crept outside their rocky shelter. Peering over the hedge of muddy stone, Ginny could just barely make out the figure of a person. In the middle of a storm. With no cover. A sitting duck.

What kind of idiot—

"I'm sorry. I'll be right back."

Ginny dropped her Pop Tarts and tore out of the cave, fear lending wings to her clumsy feet. She reached the person in a whirl of ragged gasps and backwards glances. Upon closer inspection, the huddled figure turned out to be a miserable-looking, rain-soaked girl.

"Get up," Ginny hissed under her breath, eyes sharp and fearful and darting. "Be quiet—come on—they'll find us—"

Gracelessly, she attempted to tug the girl to her feet. Once the girl had gotten up, Ginny began to scamper backwards, calling behind her as she did so. "Over here—there's shelter—hurry, please—"

Fear and adrenaline were doing terrible things to her breathing and control. By the time she made her way back to the outcropping, her unflappable mask was starting to crack. It was with wide eyes and flushed cheeks that she returned, beckoning the strange girl with her into the dank alcove.

It's raining cats and dogs, my friend, and no one knows when it will end

The setting changes from the-beaches to Portland


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Virginia Hearst Character Portrait: Finnigan Everett Character Portrait: Caroline Louise Makota

0.00 INK

❝ Finnegan Slade Everett ❞
♮ I'm quite the joke to you ♮


In the air, in-between his teeth, something felt inexplicably strange. He'd always wished for attention and love and people he could trust, and he first thought that if he snuck away from Portland and reinvented himself in ways they couldn't control, then he'd definitely have that little piece of himself to save for moment's like this – in a teeny tiny cave settled into a well-hidden grove by Shell Beach, momentarily trapped because there was some kind of torrential storm in full-swing just outside the cave's jagged mouth. It was in the rhythmic beating of his heart parapumping against Ginny's fingertips, blaring through his own, as if it could transcend straight through her palm. At least, Finnegan had enough sense to know better than to transfer his hand onto Ginny's chest to see whether or not her heart sounded the same, though the flighty thought passed like a diving sparrow, fluttering it's wings back as if it'd stricken a barrier. He was so sure she'd throttle him until he was little more than a jelly-armed mess and throw him into the sea – maybe, she'd apologize to Skylar later, or say she saw him scuttling across the cliffs after a runaway box of Pop Tarts before valiantly falling to his death. She'd have the proof scattered around her feet, where she'd suddenly dropped her sopping wet box.

Why the hell was she holding Pop Tarts? Where had they come from? Was she some kind of magician or something?

Did he stutter or something—

No. Ginny was just uncomfortable touching his chest. Or something like that. This didn't particularly feel any different, did it? He was always slinging his arm around Skylar's neck, pretty much wringing her neck in bear-hugs, until she squirmed away and told him that he better not do that to anyone outside of their house or they'd tattle on him. With all of his other siblings, it wasn't much different, though he tended not to be too affectionate towards the ones who crinkled their eyes, full of irrefutable arguments countering his ridiculously dangerous actions. He couldn't smile too much, or high five them unless they were in the privacy of their own home. All his life he remembered affection, or rather affectionate actions. It was rarer now, but he still treasured every moment. He was the happy one, after all. The brother full of laughter. Finnegan grinned, Finnegan laughed loudly, with abandon, at the stupidest things, and tended to make others follow suit no matter how grudgingly. That was his role.

She was staring at him. He was staring back. That's as far as his memory will go at the moment, because, to be perfectly honest, he was way too caught up in the warmth of her hand, captured beneath his own. His face pulled into a slight pout, but there's something sincere in his eyes, something he's hiding. This wasn't as awkward for him as it was for her because he was used to this. He was used to cuddling up with his siblings and twining his hands through tufts of hair, or locking elbows, recklessly prancing down the street in full-view before disconnecting like they'd just robbed a bank or escaped a troupe of Regulators. All wild-eyed, messy-haired and happy. It was normal. Wasn't it? Maybe one day she'd look at him and find him dazzling. He was the average boy, the boy next door – he definitely didn't have Ginny's unscrupulous grades, or Theodin's knack for doing everything correctly, nor was he fabulous or famous, but he was someone who could figure out their weak points and still, once upon a time, didn't need to raise his fists to get his point across. Things were different, now.

Finnegan's fingers twitched when he heard someone call out to them, effectively loosening his grip on Ginny's fingertips, then allowing them to fall away completely as they were gently plucked. Regulators – how had they found them? A quick snarl transformed his features, wrinkled his forehead and furrowed his eyebrows. Of course, Finnegan had no intention of letting her bumble out into the storm when there was possibly an enemy-in-wait hunched in the shadows, waiting to gobble her up or drag her away to the Crypts. Hunching his shoulders and stalking silently behind her, Finnegan peered over Ginny's head and squinted into the darkness at the hazy figure wandering outside. His hands curled into tight fists, knuckled white, then loosened when he got a better look. Definitely not a Regulator. There would've been lamplight’s strobing across the entire area, searching for unlikely beach-goers.

He very nearly smashed into Ginny before back-peddling gracelessly, realizing that she was trying to drag the sopping-wet-girl back inside. Now, this was ridiculous. Three kids huddled in a briny-cave, hiding from something or another. When they finally stumbled back inside, breathing hard, possibly wondering why the other was even here on the beach at this ungodly hour. The dishevelled box of Pop Tarts flopped to the side, as if judging their midnight caper, drug down by it's miserable-looking corners. He glanced down at it, then back to the drenched schoolgirl – er, well, she looked as if she was their age, anyway. He snatched up her wrist in one quick snap, gripping it above her head, forcing her to meet his eyes. “Who are you? Are you some kind of Regulator-in-disguise? A snitch? A rat? Speak up, lady–”

Baby I'm in love and maybe it's not to tell
Only thing that I can do is hold it in, hold it in
I was told that I'm a man now and I'm not allowed to cry
The only thing that I can do is hold it in, hold it in

The setting changes from portland to The Beaches


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Virginia Hearst Character Portrait: Finnigan Everett Character Portrait: Caroline Louise Makota

0.00 INK

❝ Virginia Hearst ❞

Snake eyes, in my head
Forked lies, dripping red

Three teenagers, of varying genders, huddled together in a cave. In the rain. After curfew.

Ginny looked from face to grimy face. Girl to boy. Stranger to almost-stranger. She looked at the drab little shelter, at the angry strokes of lightning, at the pitiful scrap of plastic at her feet.

The Pop Tarts were probably dead by now.

Vaguely, she wondered if she should cry. Her grandfather used to say that it made one feel better—called it "having a good cry." From a purely scientific standpoint, Ginny supposed it made sense. Crying released leucine-enkephalin. An endorphin. At least, that's what the school textbook said. Then again, the school textbook had also said that it was a common symptom of deliria—a sign of heart sickness, of emotional breakdown.

Still, Ginny wondered. It'd been a while since she let herself cry.

And then Skylar's brother suddenly flipped into paranoid-mode, and Ginny decided that she just didn't have time at the moment for silly things like crying. Once again, she reached for a neutral expression. Eventually, her breathing steadied, and the flush fell from her cheeks.

“Who are you?" Skylar's brother demanded, grabbing the strange girl by the wrist. "Are you some kind of Regulator-in-disguise? A snitch? A rat? Speak up, lady–”

"Obviously I'm a spy," the strange girl snapped back, apparently irritated with the relentless interrogation. "They're recruiting fifteen year old girls these days, haven't you heard?" She tore her hand away, glowering.

Ginny peered at Skylar's brother with something akin to curiosity—in all the time she'd known him, he'd never struck her as the suspicious type. Then again, he did nearly assault her when she collided into him earlier.

Hmm. Speaking of, she should probably apologize for that.

But anyway; back to the present.

She examined the girl, eyes narrowing ever so slightly as she took in her figure. The girl was tall. Dark eyes and hair. Pointed face. Overall normal appearance, and yet…something bothered Ginny. Nagged at the back of her mind like a frantic, insistent flea.

"His concern is valid," Ginny said finally, voice as blank as her expression. "What are you doing here?"

The girl closed her eyes. "Look, I'm just lost. That's all. Thanks for the help—honestly, I really appreciate it—but I need to find my family."

With that, the girl turned to leave. And it was then that Ginny realized what was bothering her.

The girl was unfamiliar. Unfamiliar.

Ginny never forgot a face.

A million things flashed through her mind at once; almost in reflex, her hand snapped out, closing around the rubbery arm of the girl's coat to prevent her from leaving. The girl turned around again, something like surprise flitting across her face, before it melted into exasperation. She opened her mouth to speak—probably in some sort protest—but Ginny beat her to it.

"I don't recognize you. Where are you from?"

Her tone was conversational, masking the acceleration of her heartbeat. For Ginny could think of two immediate scenarios.

Scenario 1—the girl was telling the truth, but the moment she left she'd get caught by regulators, thus leading them to Ginny and Finnegan's position.

Scenario 2—Skylar's brother was right, and the moment the girl left she'd be heading out to rat on them.

Neither situation was acceptable.

The girl had to stay.

Unfortunately for Ginny and Finnegan, it seemed that the girl had other plans. Ginny wasn't exactly the athletic type, you see, and the strange girl had the advantage in height and strength. Before Ginny could fully comprehend what was happening, the unknown girl had muscled her way out of her grip and was dashing across the beach all full speed.

Won't you look, dear, at my credentials?
Well it's just a faceless figurehead
I've forgotten all those small essentials
In chasing scraps of gingerbread