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Bernadette Dubois

you are a weapon

0 · 203 views · located in USA

a character in “encounters”, as played by nations

Description

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you are a w e a p o n

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bernadette dubois
athena

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x x x x x x x x x x x x x x b a s i c s x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

nicknames: bee (by close friends)
gender: female
age: twenty-one

birthplace: marseille, france
ethnicity: french
nationalities: french, usa
languages: french, english (mix of american & french accent)

sexuality: pansexual; aromantic
relationship status: not interested

year: fourth-year
majors: fine arts with a focus on painting and a minor in sculptures; political science with a focus on law

faceclaim: taylor lashae
hex code: olive tree




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Bernadette is the daughter of a French diplomat and a famous art curator and the youngest of five siblings. She grew up in her family's estate in Paris for the first couple of years and, when her mother was given a position in the United States, the whole family moved to New York. She barely spent time with her mother due to her always having to travel, but she created a strong bond with her father, becoming his favorite child. Alexandre encouraged her interests and shape her into the person she is today.

From a very young age, Bernadette showed a great talent for the arts and a great fascination for war and strategy. She received the best private education possible and graduated from high school when she was fifteen. She spent the next two years immersed full-time in the arts, interning at several of New York's museums and producing her own art, from oil paintings to sculptures. When she was seventeen, Bernadette decided to take a sabbatical year in order to travel. She backpacked across Europe and Asia, going between high-end hotels and old hostels. Bernadette learned first-hand about art and language, about history and cuisine, about famine and war.

Even though Bernadette knew that she didn't need a high-level education, she applied to university and, after a long list of acceptances that included the Ivy Leagues and major universities around the world, Bernadette decided that it was time to go return home and attend Olympus University's world-renowned art program. Her return surprised everyone because they had assumed that, once the young bird left the nest, she wouldn't want to return. In reality, Bernadette came back because her father had been diagnosed with cancer, something the public doesn't know, and she wanted to be by his side as long as possible. At Olympus, Bernadette easily climbed to the top of the social and academic ladder. Going into her final year, her eyes are fixed on the coveted internship with the famous painter Renold Treithon, who is in search first protege. With her father's condition getting worse every day, she is determined to make him proud and will not allow anyone or anything to stand in her way.


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assertive • strategist • confident • vain • dominant • scholar

Even though Bernadette isn't intimidating in the traditional manner, she is known to put people on edge, especially those who are not used to women being confident and independent (which, unfortunately, are a lot of males her social sphere). She is dominant, not allowing anyone to silence her words and always taking reign of the situation if possible. She prefers to be in charge of everything and carefully move the pieces so that they align in her favor. Bernadette is also very rational, not liking her emotions to come in the way of her decisions (the only time, however, was when she found out that her dad had cancer and returned home).

Bernadette knows that she is talented and, therefore, takes great pride in her abilities. This means that Bernadette can be quite vain but it's only because she knows that she's better than most people at everything that she does. She also knows that there is always room for improvement and is therefore constantly working to improve her wide array of skills.

Bernadette is known to be more on the serious side, not being one to like jokes or people who act like life is a joke. She has seen both the beauty and the darkness that this world has to offer and believes that every decision must be taken seriously and every moment must be valued. Bernadette prefers to be on her own or around those she trusts the most but, having grown up in a social sphere where networking and reputation are everything, she knows her way around social interactions. This does not mean, however, that she enjoys talking to people she doesn't like more than needed and, even at college parties, you will most likely find her outside smoking.

Despite her colder exterior, Bernadette is very loyal to those she loves, especially her father who she would do anything for (the only person, really, she would do anything for). In terms of romantic relationships, Bernadette is known to never have had one. She doesn't really understand the concept of romantic love nor does she care for it, finding that these kinds of relationships can easily cloud the mind and make a person irrational.


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x x x x x x x x x x x x. a p p e a r a n c e x x x x x x x x x x x x .

Bernadette's closet consists of high-end beige and neutral pieces tailored to fit her perfectly. She loves a good Parisian look paired with elegant sunglasses, a hat, and a long jacket whenever it's cold. Her daytime wear is gender-neutral, mainly consisting of pants and simple tops, creating a minimalistic, timeless sense of style that she doesn't have to spend much time thinking about every morning. She keeps her makeup to a minimum apart from a sharp cat-eye eyeliner and always keeps her hair to a short bob with bangs, a functional and low-maintenance that gives her face that perfect balance between innocent and intimidating. Although Bernadette doesn't care much about clothes, she makes sure that her appearance is well, knowing that the way one looks says a lot without the need to use words.


x x x x x x x x x x x x. p r e f e r e n c e s x x x x x x x x x x x x.

likes
reading on law and war • smoking • expensive perfumes • cognac • sculpting • words • cold weather • documentaries


dislikes
traveling on airplanes • romantic relationships • lazy and irresponsible people



cs nations | inspiration spirit dancer | faceclaim daria sidorchuk | hex #98942e #623821

So begins...

Bernadette Dubois's Story

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#, as written by nations
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bernadette
dialogue - #98942e
thought - #623821

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Most of Berndatte's day had been spent at the hospital with her father. She could still see the phantom image of the white hospital lights in her vision as she drove her car through the busy city streets, stopping for red lights, traffic, and pedestrians. Her father sat on the passenger’s side, his head leaning against the chair’s headrest and his eyes closed. Andrea Bocelli played from the speakers, drowning the honks and shouts coming from the streets and the heavy silence between Bernadette and Alexandre with the singer’s tenor range.

The drive back home was always the longest, compared to the drive on their way to the hospital, where Bernadette and her father would speak from the moment they met at their house’s foyer to the moment they greeted the receptionist.

When they arrived home, they found that the house was even quieter.

All of her siblings had moved out. At times, the halls would resonate with the conversations from Bernadette’s childhood that used to fill the air but, more often than not, they were void of memories. Bernadette didn’t mind the solitude, finding company in the paintings that hung from the walls, the countless shelves of books, and the rooms dedicated to the creation of art that her father had created for the two of them. Except in those moments when she helped her father in, holding onto his elbow until one of the servants could come help. He would retreat for several days after that into his music and art. Like always, except Bernadette knew she couldn’t join him.

Bernadette let the evening pass without much thought, taking some time to work on her latest painting. As night fell, she felt the beginning of a headache, so she sat in her garden to eat olives and take a quick smoke. The latter was a habit she had broken a few years ago but, ever since coming back, Bernadette had taken it back up again. She hid it from her father the best she could, but she was sure he knew; he just hadn’t brought it up. She supposed it was easier for him that way.

It took her a short time to shower, allowing the paint and the clinging scent of hospital to wash off her skin. Scents could travel more strongly than a memory. She knew that not even the woody soaps would make it fully vanish, not to her olfactory system.

Bernadette preferred not to go to the art exhibit, not really in the mood to be around people and not very happy about the headache, but she knew that her father would've wanted to. Putting on a long-sleeved, olive turtleneck sweater and black pants, Bernadette quickly prepared herself to leave once again.

She drove to the exhibit, retracing many of the roads she had taken earlier that day. Roads she took almost every day. Bernadette knew that cars were not the best for big cities but she preferred to drive herself than take taxis or even use their private chauffeur. She was in control of the wheel.

The entrance into the art exhibit was rather easy for her; Alexandre had received a personal invitation and Bernadette used his name at the entrance. By the time she arrived, the exhibit was packed with people who had been around for at least two hours. She spotted some familiar faces and took the time to greet them. She wasn’t one for long conversations but she also knew the importance of networking and connections. Unfortunately, it was how the world went round and, fortunately, she was one of the few with access to it. Bernadette was a logical person; she knew where to give and take.

Bernadette took some time to walk around, thinking of how her father would have enjoyed the event. While she was more focused, he was a fan of all art. No expression of art was too little for him to admire. Of course, as a curator, he had to abide to certain standards depending on where he worked, but his personal view was much more inclusive.

As she came upon the exhibition of the latest anonymous sensation, Bernadette spotted another familiar. Yael, a student from Olympus. Bernadette had several classes with the young woman, both having the same majors, but never had much interaction. Bernadette approached the art but kept her distance.

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Character Portrait: Yael Yahalom Character Portrait: Bernadette Dubois
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After staring at one of the pieces on the wall, Yael shook herself out of her trance, looking all around the room. This is clearly all part of the same collection, and whoever this is planned it out really carefully. The anonymous artist applied the same effect of the whole being greater than its parts to the entire ensemble, along with his individual pieces. Yael herself rarely thought that far.

Among all the magnificent art, Yael noticed a familiar face -- Bernadette Dubois, daughter of the famous art curator, Alexandre Dubois. Yael and Bernadette had the same majors (frustratingly enough), and the latter was quite popular on campus. Yael could respect the other woman's work, but she mainly considered Bernadette as competition. After all, the two never spoke, and ran in completely different social circles, so they definitely weren't friends. Bernadette was part of the wealthy elite, which constituted a large chunk of Olympus, while Yael . . . was not. It was more than the amount of money they had to their names that separated them -- the wealthy were a completely separate community from everybody else. Yael couldn't at all understand their culture, for the lack of a better term.


"Sorry, am I blocking your view?" Yael stepped aside so Bernadette could move closer to the art if she wanted to. "Yo, Bernadette, right?"

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Character Portrait: Yael Yahalom Character Portrait: Bernadette Dubois
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bernadette
dialogue - #98942e
thought - #623821

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Hearing her name, Bernadette's dark eyes moved from the paintings to the source of the sound.

Bernadette had not planned on being seen. Had she moved along to another exhibit in the meantime, upon having seen Yael, would have ensured insivibility for some time but she had wanted to see the star of the exhibit and being approached by a peer was not going to make her shy away.

Her headache was getting stronger and she did not plan on staying much longer. Perhaps just another hour. Make the trip worth it. There was good art displayed, after all.

"You were not," she replied, shaking her head in the slightest manner. Had Yael been in the way, Bernadette would have made sure the issue was fixed. By stepping aside, of course. There was a seriousness in her tone that was everpresent but her English accent was mixed with the faint remains of her native tongue. "Yes, Bernadette."

Her fingers were tapping against her black purse, which hung from a long strap on her right shoulder. She knew smoking would make the headache worse, but she could not help but think about the silver case she kept them in, which had been placed in the interior zipperless pocket.

Bernadette wanted to step away, find a low-lit place outside where she could lean against a cool wall and close her eyes. On a more normal night, she would have been interacting more openly with others. Even a long day of training left her feeling energized. However, it was one of those rare days were she felt her energy plumeting.

"What do you think?" she asked, nonetheless, her chin motioning towards the paintings. It was not that she wanted to converse at the particularly moment but that perhaps it would help her momentarily forget the pounding against her skull.

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ImagexxxImagexxxImagexxxyael yahalom xxxיעל יהלום

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When Bernadette spoke, Yael was sharply reminded of their class difference, for a lack of a better term, with Bernadette's more serious tone and her own casual language. No, that wasn't true; their different speaking habits were more likely due to their personalities rather than their socioeconomic status, but then again, upbringing always influenced such things. No matter -- Yael was not ashamed of where she came from.

"What do you think?" Bernadette asked, gesturing towards the art.

"I think it's great. The individual qualities like the composition, the brushwork, or the colors aren't particularly exceptional, but the artist's talent is in his vision. You can tell that he has a lot of foresight, and that's what really puts it together." Many artists stood out for certain qualities in their artwork that pushed it to excellence. For example, one could look at Monet's pieces and immediately note his brushwork, or at Pollock and note his peculiar technique. All those artists had notable qualities that stood out; this anonymous one did not, but as Yael repeatedly mentioned to herself, the whole was greater than its parts.

Would Bernadette consider my judgment to be ridiculous? After all, her dad is Alexandre Dubois. Fuck, she's probably the brie to my American cheddar.

Yael was not an insecure person. But as much as it pained her to admit, Alexandre Dubois was probably better than her in all things art.

"What do you think?" Yael asked.

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bernadette
dialogue - #98942e
thought - #623821

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Bernadette listened to Yael’s take on the collection. It was short and to the point, thankfully. As the question was directed back at her, Bernadette regretted asking in the first place. While she enjoyed conversing about such topics, she felt a flash of pain behind her eyes.

Pourquoi aujourd'hui? she asked herself, stopping her hand from reaching up to her temple.

As she saw a young man in a suit pass with a tray of empty glasses, Bernadette motioned for him to come over.

"May I please get a glass of water?" Bernadette turned briefly to Yael, "For her- what would you like?"

She gave Yael some time to speak before thanking the young man and allowing him to go on his way.

Her attention returned to the paintings around her. Bernadette was interested in reading what the journals would be publishing about the collection in the upcoming days. Like Yael had mentioned, there was a string of commonality that connected the paintings despite a disjunction in the tecniques and compositions. It showed strategy, which provided for a harmonious flow between the clashing colors and varying techniques.

She was trying to figure out all of the elements the master painter had seen in the artist behind the collection.

"I wonder why the artist remained anonymous," she simply said after a moment of silence. There was much more to be said about the whole collection, of course, but Bernadette was sure it would all be said in the articles tomorrow. Why waste the words? "I do not expect the collection to be particularly controversial in terms of subject matter or message. I personally don't see what would warrant a need for anonymity."

Of course, there were many whose situation or art needed the autonomy for their own safety. However, the paintings did not have any

The server returned. Bernadette took out a painkiller from her bag and thanked the server, taking the glass and quickly passing the pill down. Hopefully, it would kick in well before she left so that she didn't have to drive in this state.

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Character Portrait: Yael Yahalom Character Portrait: Bernadette Dubois
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yael & bernadette
YAHALOM XXXXXXXXXXX DUBOIS XXXXXxX

#c5bea2 / #98942e
#9c6420 / #623821


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"For her- what would you like?"

"I'll have a glass of champagne, thanks." Yael jumped at a chance to drink when it came knocking.

Yael listened to what Bernadette had to say, thanking the server again when he returned and knocking back the champagne in one go. She quickly noticed the other woman taking a painkiller with her glass of water.


"Yeah, I get that," Yael responded. "If it were me, I definitely would be putting my name out there. But, I don't know, I guess some people like to separate their art life from everything else." Yael gestured to Bernadette's purse, in reference to the medication she took earlier. "You alright?"

Bernadette raised an eyebrow when she saw Yael take the drink in one go. She didn’t care whether Yael had zero or twenty drinks but it reminded her of beers served in red cups at college parties. The action seemed both fitting and out of place in an art exhibit.

The ones in the most expensive suits, very proper at the beginning of the night and ready to ramble on about the composition of the art, tended to have one drink too many and sometimes ended up buying a painting or doing something else that they would regret the next day. Much like what she saw go down at parties and, since the general population at Olympus had money, no one cheaped out on drinks.

The similarities in behavior between college parties and high-end events could be rather amusing.


“Yes,” she answered, putting her glass on the tray of a passing server, “I just need a smoke.”

She smokes? Yael was rather surprised -- Bernadette seemed like the kind of person who'd be a little uptight, the kind of person who wouldn't know how to let loose. Then again, the more she thought about it, Yael could definitely picture the other woman smoking. She's French, right? Europeans do smoke a lot.

"I feel like I should say something like, 'don't smoke, you could get lung cancer,'" Yael said wryly, "but hey, go ahead. We're here for a good time, not a long one."

Before Bernadette could respond, Yael felt the vibrating of her phone in her pocket. She glanced at the notification, pausing when she saw that it wasn't a drunken message from one of her friends. They closed the line I took to get here . . . and they closed the best alternate line I could've taken. Goddamnit.

Yael shoved her phone back in her pocket with a sigh, glancing back up at Bernadette. Suddenly, she was struck with an idea.

"The subway line I take to get back to campus just closed. Could I possibly hitch a ride with you?" Yael was not one to ask for help unless she really had to, so what she was doing had her just the slightest bit disgruntled. At least I'm saving money on that subway fare.

Yael’s comment definitely pulled a string at her heart, the kind to harden it up and unsettle her all at the same time. She knew the effects of smoking and was constantly confronted with the image of damaged lungs in her cigarette packets, of course, but her father had never smoked a day in his life and here they were. It was certainly not a life made for regrets.

However, the comment did nothing more to her facial expression than cause her to raise an eyebrow and lower her eyes to Yae’ls empty glass for a moment. She might have replied with something but Yael continued talking about a ride.

Normally, after a comment like that, Bernadette would have simply said no but it was dark outside and Bernadette wasn’t heartless.


”I suppose,” Bernadette said with a small nod. ”I don’t plan on being here much longer though.”

Yael grinned. She wasn't sure if Bernadette would have said yes -- the other woman didn't really seem like an overly generous person to her -- so Yael was glad that it worked out. "Brilliant! And that's all right, we can go whenever you'd like. I saw what I came for."

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Character Portrait: Yael Yahalom Character Portrait: Bernadette Dubois
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#, as written by nations
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bernadette
dialogue - #98942e
thought - #623821

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“It’s best we leave now, then,” Bernadette said. “Although I would’ve enjoyed staying longer.”

With that, she turned and began to walk. The room had filled much more since they first began talking. However, people quickly moved out of the way when they saw Bernadette walking. Her expression wasn’t one to be considered cold but there was always a seriousness in the way she looked that made people step aside.

A few people said goodbye to her on the way out.

“Going so soon, Bernadette?” A man in his fifties asked. He was the manager of an independent art gallery who had known his father for a couple of years.

“I’m afraid so, Mr. Trent.”

”Say hello to your father, will you?” he said. “I have some wonderful pieces at the gallery, I can give a personal tour to the both of you. Give me a call.”

“We’ll be in touch,” Bernadette said with a smile and shook his hand firmly.

Thankfully, no one motioned for her in the main lobby. Outside, she motioned for the valet and gave the young woman her ticket who quickly walked to get the car. A large part of her regretted accepting and her headache wasn’t easing; perhaps it would be better off to offer an Uber after all.

It didn’t take much for her car to be driven to the drop-off area. The black matte R8 had been a gift from her parents when she came back home for university.

“Do you live on campus?” Bernadette asked as she tipped the valet and took her keys. She supposed that Yael was one of the students that lived in the dorms. Apartments in New York were not cheap to come by. Money, of course, wasn’t an issue Bernadette had ever been affected by but she knew the numbers; living in New York City was not affordable for most of its population.

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Character Portrait: Yael Yahalom Character Portrait: Bernadette Dubois
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ImagexxxImagexxxImagexxxyael yahalom xxxיעל יהלום

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Yael followed Bernadette out of the art exhibit, musing over their completely different demeanors. Bernadette had a serious air about her -- people saw her and cleared the way like soldiers for their king. Yael, on the other hand, carried with her a relaxed, confident swagger (she didn't want to seem arrogant, but hey, it's not like she would lie). Yael was the kind of person who stood out due to her polarizing magneticism; Bernadette seemed to stand firmly on the other side of the spectrum in terms of mien.

Is this how commoners felt in the presence of nobility? Yael joked to herself as she watched another old white man approach Bernadette. As she watched the two of them converse, Yael felt a flame light from within her. One day, I'll have people walking up to me like they do to Bernadette, and I'll do it all by myself.

Yael, despite not being inclined to traditional intellectual pursuits, was notably a top student (after all, she managed to get a full-tuition scholarship to Olympus University). However, when she made her decision to major in art, near everyone in her social circles were shocked. Yael constantly had people harping to her about how they assumed she would pursue a more lucrative and stable path -- like law like her sister had, or science like her brother had -- so she could get out of her "lower-middle class situation." Her family, especially, were unhappy with her decision. Yael's father yelled at her for wasting her opportunity and intelligence to pursue something that would never work out for her.

Yael understood him; truly, she did. A career in law was practically a surefire way for her to rise in the socioeconomic ladder -- Yasmin was proof of that. But Yael was hard-headed when it came to her pride; the constant remarks sent her way only strengthened her resolve. She was confident that she was skilled enough to succeed, even if it was against the odds.


An internship wouldn't hurt, Yael thought to herself as she followed Bernadette out the art exhibit and waited for the other woman to finish interacting with the valet. Maybe that will give me the boost that Bernadette's birthright had given her.

Yael whistled when Bernadette's car came into view, taken out of her thoughts by the clearly expensive luxury car. "Damn, that's sleek," she said, admiring the modern design. "Whoo, good taste, Bernadette.

"And yeah, I live on campus,"
Yael responded as she slid into the passenger seat, still absorbed by the design of the car. "It's too fucking expensive in New York. I'm not going to voluntarily throw myself in even more debt." Yael was one of the few students at Olympus who could relate to the typical, middle-class college student struggle.

"Where do you live? Is your home close enough for you to live with your parents?" Yael asked curiously, continuing the conversation. While she was very aware of who Alexandre Dubois was, Yael wasn't really a fangirl, and didn't know much about his or his family's personal life.

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#, as written by nations
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bernadette
dialogue - #98942e
thought - #623821

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"Thank you," Berndatte replied, taking a seat on the driver's side. Her right hand took hold of the wheel as she drove out of the roundabout. She nodded when Yael confirmed where she lived and took a left once they hit the street. It wasn't extremely close, but it would only be thirty minutes to get there, mostly due to the heavy city traffic. Berndatte was glad she had a car but it was only because she lived far from the city. Otherwise, taking public transportation was so much easier than struggling to find parking spots in most places. Even though Bernadette was not short-tempered, wasting time to find parking could send her into a frustrated episode.

"Yes I live with my father," Yael replied. "Right on the city limits, so about an hour drive without traffic."

While her family could have chosen a place within the city, her father loved their French estate with rolling hills in the back and plenty of fresh air. The first year had been rough on Bernadette since she spent a lot of time driving back and forth every day during peak hours but, thankfully, she had been able to plan her schedule since then so that she generally only had to drive back two or three times a week for classes. During the summer, she had stayed at an apartment during the weekdays for her internship but had returned home as soon as she was able.

Beyond the car being one made to not feel the road, so that it seemed almost like they were driving in a capsule, her driving was smooth even in the busy streets. A ring broke through the silence.

The car's touch screen read, Incoming call from Ivette.

Bernadette had placed her bag in the back seat so that it didn't bother Yael. Bernadette didn't necessarily want for Yael to listen but there was really no option, Ivette rarely called unless there was something she needed to tell her right away, so she clicked it so that it connected over Bluetooth.

"Hi Ivette," she greeted the maid, "Is everything alright?"

"Miss Bee," her tone was one of worry, "I'm sorry to interrupt your night, but I think it's best if you return immediately. Your father is not feeling well."

Bernadette brought the car to a stop at a red light.

"Thank you, Ivette. I will see you soon," Bernadette said before hanging up. She glanced over at Yael; she could feel her heart pounding. Bernadette rarely got worried this way but everything with her dad left her on the edge.

"I'm sorry," Bernadette said. Her voice was leveled but there was clear worry in her eyes. "But I have to get home as soon as I can, I can't take you. I can wait for an Uber to pick you up? Otherwise, you would have to drive with me."

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"Yes I live with my father. Right on the city limits, so about an hour drive without traffic."

Yael nodded along. She expected something like that -- the Duboises were rich, and you couldn't get a big house anywhere inside the city center. "Hey, that's pretty cool, dude," she responded. "Living in the outskirts means not having to live in an apartment." Space, especially in such a tightly packed city like Big Apple, was a pleasant thing.

Yael would usually be much chattier, but not taking time to appreciate how smooth the ride was would have been an absolute sin. Yael didn't mind bumpier rides -- after all, it was what she was used to anyway -- but being in Bernadette's car felt practically like floating.

Suddenly, Bernadette's cell started to ring. Yael glanced at the other woman's bag in the back seat, and opened her mouth, preparing to ask if Bernadette wanted Yael to get her bag; before she could, however, the other woman answered the call through Bluetooth.
Hey, that works too. Getting Bernadette's bag and sifting through it to find the phone would definitely have been a hassle, but Yael understood the desire for private conversations.

Yael leaned back in her seat and looked out the window, trying to tune out the talking in the background. Of course, it didn't work; Yael ended up unintentionally eavesdropping, but an illusion of privacy must've been appreciated regardless.


What's up with her dad? Yael wondered. The worry in Ivette's tone (whoever she was) felt strangely ominous.

"I'm sorry," Yael turned her gaze from the window to Bernadette, feeling absurdly surprised at the sight she was met with. Worry was very clear in Bernadette's eyes. Yael didn't expect such an open display of emotion from the other woman -- Bernadette always seemed overly serious and composed. Whatever happened to her father must have been pretty severe.

"But I have to get home as soon as I can, I can't take you. I can wait for an Uber to pick you up? Otherwise, you would have to drive with me."

The last sentence felt like it was more out of politeness than an actual offer; Yael had never seen anyone offer to do something that would allow a stranger into personal matters.

"I don't have enough money for an Uber," Yael admitted grudgingly, feeling deeply ashamed. Her pride felt like it took a hit right to its heart. "You don't have to wait with me . . . but do you mind if I could borrow some money?" Asking for such a thing was paining Yael greatly; she was a prideful person, never one to accept assitance from her more successful siblings. Having to ask for money made Yael want to pull her hair out.

"I'll pay you back in full when I can," Yael assured; if she had to accept help, she certainly wouldn't do it for free, but promising to pay Bernadette back her money only made her feel worse. Yael knew she couldn't just wire money to the other woman as soon as she got home -- she didn't have that much money in reserve. Even when Yael wasn't intententionally focusing on the financial divide between her and Bernadette, she had to be hit in the face with it; Bernadette's wealth and Yael's lack of it impacted everything about how the two of them lived.

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Bernadette pulled her car over into a parking space along the street. A large part of her deeply regretted having answered the phone call on Bluetooth, it made her feel as if she had made a big mistake.

"It is nice," she agreed. Bernadette didn't mind an apartment, although her and Yae'ls definitions of what a small apartment in the heart of New York City were very different.

Hearing Yael mention that she didn't have money for the ride, Bernadette reached to the back of the car to get her purse. She should have just pulled aside to answer. However, with her father having just left a chemotherapy session, her impulses had taken over. Not much to be done now, she supposed. She just had to make sure it didn't happen again anywhere else.

Taking out her phone, she opened the Taxi application since she didn't have the Uber application downloaded. She had used it many times when abroad and hen she couldn't get a taxi but, since she never took it here, the application was only re-downloaded when needed.

"Here," she said, knowing that if she were to put the general university address, Yael might be left crossing the huge campus just to get to her door. "There's no need to me pay back. I'll wait for your ride to pick you up."

Bernadette let Yael input the information into her phone. She quickly switched over to the contacts list and opened a new contact. "You can add your number to let me know when you've gotten home, if it makes you feel safer."

Bernadette was not exactly the warmest or most open of characters so Bernadette didn't consider this an invitation to be friendly but rather knowing that an extra layer of safety was appreciated even by her when going on public transportation alone.

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Yael couldn't help the burning shame as she watched Bernadette open the taxi app and hand Yael her phone. Yael hated that she was in this position -- she would do practically anything to avoid it, but she knew she had no other choice. It was too far to walk -- and even if she did want to walk, Yael doubted that Bernadette would let her go. And as bold as Yael was, she was not going to fucking hitchhike; that was as bad as asking Bernadette for money anyway.

"Oh, I'll pay you back," Yael insisted forcefully, before adding, "Thanks for all you're doing, Bernadette. Unless you need to be here, you can head back home to see your dad. I'm sure he needs you there more than I do."

Yael obliged when Bernadette asked her to enter her number into the other woman's phone; while doing so, she was suddenly struck with an idea. "You probably don't need the money though," Yael continued. "I can take you out for a meal instead. My treat."

Yael prayed that Bernadette would agree to the meal, or anything at all that would allow Yael to pay her back. She knew that the offer of a meal probably wouldn't mean much to Bernadette -- the other woman could probably afford a dinner ten times fancier than anything Yael could come up with, and without it even making a dent in her wallet. Still, Yael was determined.

To be honest, Yael doubted that she and Bernadette would vibe. Yael (unless it was concerning her financial issues) was chill; she was a partier, she lived in the moment. Bernadette seemed so . . . serious, like she skipped her younger years and went straight to middle age. Regardless of how she felt about the other woman, however, Yael was adamant on paying back the money one way or another; it was the sole thought on her mind as she stepped into the taxi and silently rode back to the university.

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Bernadette couldn't help but regret the situation; it had suddenly turned from giving a random peer a ride home to getting asked to dinner plans. Giving Yael the money home seemed like such a small act that she would have preferred to put it somewhere at the back of her mind and forget it.

Bernadette didn't reply as she got her phone back. Looking into her phone screen, she paused for a moment, wondering if it would be best to give her phone number out after all. After a second, Bernadette hesitantly typed "Bernadette." and sent it to Yael's number. Safety reigned in her eyes after all.

There was always the possibility to raincheck, she decided. It was not that Bernadette cared whether she was seen with Yael or someone out of her social status; most of her time abroad had been spent with strangers that had much less than her in life since she didn't always choose to stay in expensive spots. Yael just didn't seem like the kind to mix with her.

"I hope you have a safe trip home," Bernadette said as she watched Yael step out. She stayed to make sure that she got into the taxi safely before driving away.

- - -
The campus, as it always was during the first day of Fall classes, was full of students moving between classes and meeting up with people they had not seen for the past three months. There were the freshmen and the fourth-years, the groups that gathered and blocked sidewalks to talk. In this sense, Olympus University was not very different from normal universities. Bernadette could feel the heat of the day, her white cat-eye sunglasses blocked the bright rays. The last couple of days had been mostly spent home, working on her individual pieces as much as possible before classes began. There were some exhibits she had her eyes on and the perfect pieces to compliment but art was not an overnight process and her desire for perfection and high expectations from others meant taking her time with every piece.

In her last year, Bernadette had been left with upper-level degree courses and the thought of a challenge excited her. Her foundations were strong and she was ready for her classes to measure up. There had always been a debate whether to pursue an art degree; thankfully, Olympus' art program focused on developing each students' individual art rather than produce students with the same style.

The class she had taken was one she had been looking forward to, the professor was very well-known in the art world and revered by students. Having reached the classroom door, Bernadette stepped inside and took a seat besides one of her acquaintances.

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It was the first day of the fall semester, and Yael was simultaenously eager and dispassionate about it. She loved the feeling of success, and she loved her major, but Yael didn't necessarily have the personality of a traditionally diligent and hard-working student. That was not to say that she wasn't high-achieving; she just didn't roll as well in the school environment as some of her peers did.

The next class she would be going to truly excited Yael, though; the professor had all the necessary credentials and beyond, and was well-known in the art world. Having such an incredible opportunity sent adrenaline pumping through her veins.

Yael walked into the lecture hall, quickly scanning the rows of seats for anyone she recognized. She caught sight of a familiar face in the third row and immediately tooked the seat next to the owner of said face.

"Oh, hey Yael," the Russian boy turned in his seat, offering his hand for Yael to clasp. Veniamin Sokolovsky was the son of famous oil painter, Ivan Sokolovsky; he was a Russian foreign exchange student attending Olympus for its highly acclaimed art program. Admittedly, Yael had made contact with Ven purely due to his lineage at first, but they sustained their friendship through compatible personalities rather than their respective backgrounds.


"How was your summer, Ven?" Yael and Ven weren't the kinds of friends who texted often, but they definitely hung out whenever they saw each other in public.

"My father took us to Siberia," Ven groaned. "He made us go to the Arctic circle."

Yael furrowed a brow, running a hand through her wild curls.
"Um . . . why?"

"It was for some painting study he wanted to do, and he dragged us along," Ven complained. "I get spending a couple of weeks somewhere -- but two months? In the Arctic? No, just no."

Before Yael could even open her mouth to respond, the doors of the lecture hall opened dramatically to reveal a middle-aged man dressed in a flowing navy blue trench coat. His build seemed to be accentuated by the choice of clothing, and his skin was dark, easily darker than Yael's. His face was angular and roman, but it his forehead with wrinkled deeply with extensive crevices. His hair was a smattering of silver amongst a sea of dark brown, and his eyes were a piercing, obsidian black. Yael immediately recognized the man purely from his silhouette, and it seemed many others in the hall did as well, with the way they all hushed to a sudden silence.

"I am Navdeep Chaudhary," the man spoke, his words sharp and slightly tinged with an Indian accent. Yael paid attention to every word the man said as he went through his syllabus and what to expect out of his class. She was usually not one to be enraptured to the point where she could focus completely on a professor, but Navdeep Chaudhary was another breed of teacher -- Yael would say that he was only a single tier below Renold Treithon, her idol, as an artist.

"This year's biggest project will be a group project," Professor Chaudhary proclaimed; that was the only time the students in the room murmured in dissent, but they were quickly silenced by the professor's sharp glare.

"It will take up most of the year," he continued. He paused heavily as the rest of the room waited in anticipation for the rest of his speech. "As you know, this class is not open to everyone. Only the best are allowed in. Therefore, I have had the opportunity to study your profiles extensively. Using this knowledge, I hope that the groups I've chosen for you are fitting."

The students did not murmur in dissent this time -- instead, they were shocked to have assigned partners for a fourth-year group project in such an exclusive class. Yael shared the same sentiment; she thought that they would be generally independent, with some occasional but very helpful guidance from the professor.

"The pairing with the highest grade will receive an opportunity to personally meet Renold Treithon."

That statement shook everyone out of their trance-like states. Ven turned to Yael; they stared at each other wide-eyed, knowing full well what this opportunity meant to each other.

"I will list off your partners," Professor Chaudhary said, taking out a paper list. Everyone was immediately shaken out of their chattering as they leaned forward to hear the names.

"Veniamin Sokolovsky and Pilar Morales."

Ven groaned quietly under his breath, and gave Yael a foreboding look. Yael gave him a shrug as she let the other names she was hearing float past her; all she cared about what who she was paired with.

"Yael Yahalom . . . and Bernadette Dubois."

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Bernadette took a moment to look around the room at the faces of other students as Professor Chaudhary commented on the quality of the class. The university was very competitive and the fact that most of its population was elite meant that most had an upper hand in whatever field they entered. Art was no exception. Still, there was definitely ranks of expertise amongst the students.

As Professor Chaudhary mentioned the assigning of groups, there was a stir in the classroom. Art students tended to be solitare beings when it came to the work; unlike other artistic industries like the music and film, it was not common to find a piece that was worked on by artists. Bernadette had not heard anything about Professor Chaudhary assigning groups so this must have been a first and her very luck left her feeling a small flame within her, despite the silence and unphased expression coming from her.

Bernadette listened carefully to the names called out. Everyone around her was talented, without a doubt, but there was an issue of clashing visions, styles, and personalities that often accompanied artists.

"Yael Yahalom . . . and Bernadette Dubois."

Her eyebrows narrowed into a small, almost undetectable, frown. After their encounter a previous nights prior, Bernadette did not expect for there to be any more reason to spend time together. The professor finished listing out the pairs.

"As artists," The Professor continued, "We must take a close look at the world around us-- step beyond ourselves and see the world for what it really is. Wonderful and haunting, a perfectly balanced world sent into chaos by humanity."

He moved to the front row and gave the student a small stack of papers. The student took one copy and began to pass it down. From her seat, Bernadette noticed that there were barely any words on the page. "The instructions for the project are brief but I am demanding. I expect pairs to work together; a shared vision and immaculate execution is expected while allowing each artist to stand out.

"Our classes will switch between this auditorium, art room Alpha 405, and places around the city for field studies. I expect a good semester and will be here for guidance. Now, please take some time to get together with your partner to read over the project and start planning."

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Yael couldn't help but cringe slightly when she heard Bernadette's name alongside hers. Sure, there was nothing wrong with the other woman -- Yael was sure that Bernadette was an extremely competent artist -- but Yael wasn't sure if their styles would mesh well. If they didn't have similar personalities, they probably wouldn't have similar artistic styles; Yael knew that her personality often imprinted itself on how she painted.

Yael couldn't help but feel a little bored when Professor Chaudhary started talking about the perfectly balanced world and chaos and whatnot. Yael respect him and his art, that was for sure; she knew she had a lot to learn from him, but she really never cared for theoretical things. She knew it was important for art to have a deeper meaning, but Yael was more inclined towards physical sensations in art; color, texture, composition, etc. If it was good art, those techniques would culminate into an impactful piece; Yael didn't want to have to analyze anything to appreciate art.

Yael took a handout, passing the stack to Ven. She appreciated the brief instructions; Yael didn't like to be told what to do. Creative freedom was important to her. But the "shared vision" part didn't bring her any excitement. Yael didn't want to imagine any of the ways she and Bernadette could possibly clash.

"Now, please take some time to get together with your partner to read over the project and start planning."

Ven and Yael stood up simultaneously, giving each other a brief clap on the back before they parted.


"Yo, Bernadette," Yael greeted, taking the seat next to her partner. "What a funny situation that we got paired up, am I right? Anyway, do you have any ideas?"

The instructions were very vague, and while Yael appreciated the freedom to do whatever she wanted, she didn't really have a direction in mind yet -- especially considering that she would have to work with a partner. Might as well rip the bandaid off and see if she and Bernadettes had any disagreements first.

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Anastasia shook her head and Jisun hummed in response. To the Korean girl, the other woman was a continuously blooming enigma. Jisun would have expected the classy daughter of a wealthy European family and business moguls to have more worldly education and to be a little more . . . cultured. It was a tradition among wealthy families to teach their children more about the world so they could extend their empires beyond the borders of their country; after all, that was why learning foreign languages was so important. It befuddled Jisun to see someone like Anastasia know so little about the world that was beyond her little bubble. Of course, it wasn't just the chopstick thing -- it was a continuous pattern Jisun had picked up within the single day she knew Anastasia for. Jisun wondered if she had any elder siblings; Anastasia couldn't inherit such a large company and have aspirations about taking it to international heights with the level of knowledge she had.

"It's fine," Jisun said nonchalantly. She removed the top chopstick from her left hand, before pausing. "Are you right-handed?" she asked Anastasia in more of a murmur than anything else. Jisun was forced to develop some ambidexterity, but she was naturally left-handed and always reverted to it if using her right hand wasn't more convenient. She decided to simply demonstrate with her right hand.

"Put the bottom chopstick in the groove between your thumb and forefinger," Jisun showed Anastasia. "Then just hold the top one like a pencil. Here, lemme help you."

Jisun, bold and decidedly going out of her comfort zone, leaned forward to fit the chopsticks in Anastasia's hand and adjust the positioning. "There. Like that. If it's hard, I'm sure there's a fork someone around this place."

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Bernadette watched as Yael walked over to her.

She looked down at the printed assignment. There wasn't much required on paper but she knew, of course, that the expectations were going to be extremely high. Professor Chaudhary was not easy to please. With it being a group project, Bernadette was not quite sure how to approach it. The two artist must be distinctly seen in the piece while also blending together.

She had been in a few art classes with Yael but couldn't quite remember what the other young woman preferred in terms of "artistic style."

Bernadette's art learned towards realism with the subject matters usually focusing on the human body. Like the Greeks, she found the human body fascinating and painting it was like a science, a cross between the creative and the logical. She loved painting undertones and bruises and veins and the translucency of skin.

"I paint hyperrealism," she said. "Usually the human body or military art."

"What is your style?"

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Yael nodded, humming in acknowledgement. Inside, she was a little dissatisfied, but unsurprised. Bernadette did seem like the kind of person who would go for hyperrealism -- Yael, on the other hand, was not. She knew that hyperrealistic paintings required an immense amount of skill, but she thought it was just boring -- why paint something to look like something that already existed? That was no different than photography. Painting gave the artist certain freedoms that mediums like photography didn't have. In terms of her own paintings, Yael liked to bring something new to the table every time; she studied obsessively and raved about the masters, but she refused to be like them. Yael wanted to be original and inimitable.

"My style is pretty varied," Yael explained. "You could say that my general style combines elements of impressionism and expressionism. I like textures, and I mainly use oil paints. Sometimes I like to go the surrealistic route, and a lot of my paintings incorporate chiaroscuro."

Yael knew that she was kind of all over the place in terms of style. But why choose just one? Yael was the artist -- she could do whatever the hell she wanted. So she chose to take her favorite elements of all different styles of paintings and incorporate them into her own personal style. Art was an expression; Yael loved sensations, like color and texture, so better to amplify them in her interpretations than just paint it like it appeared in reality.

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Bernadette listened as Yael spoke, her left hand playing with the pen in her hand, moving it quickly between her fingers. Bernadette had to stop herself from frowning when she heard the words "pretty varied style." There was nothing wrong with being inspired by several movements and experimenting with techniques, of course, improvement required constant experimentation, learning, and pushing boundaries. She herself had gone through endless phases by now-- impressionism-inspired had been one. Expressionism, however, was not something she had ever been fond of, although her father had several paintings from the 20th century movement in his personal collection.

However, not having a clear understand of one's art was, to Bernadette, like not knowing oneself. And all-over-the-place wasn't something Bernadette was known for.

The two young women's painting styles were clearly different from what she could hear, but it could be to their advantage-- if they played it right. The pen in her hand stopped moving around and she began to sketch something in one of the margins of the assignment page.

"We can combine my realism and your surrealism," Bernadette said after a moment, "Make it seamless yet distinct. "

A landscape could work, but she always preferred to work with people. Capturing their nuances and the challenge of hyperrealism was something she enjoyed. "We'd have to brainstorm the subject matter as well, but perhaps use a muse?"

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"We can combine my realism and your surrealism. Make it seamless yet distinct."

Yael couldn't help but frown at the proposition. Sure, it made sense -- hyperrealistic surrealism was an easy way to combine their styles. But to be honest, the characterstics of her style that Yael preferred to hold onto were the physical textures, the shadows and highlights, the choice of colors -- not really the composition. Sure, composition was important, but it wasn't everything. Yael didn't think she'd enjoy having to paint a bunch of boring skin you could find from a photograph, even if it was in some surrealistic design.

As much as Yael wanted to fight for what she wanted, she recognized that she had to compromise -- hopefully, it wouldn't be on elements that she didn't want to give up. Nonetheless, Yael was fairly flexible, and could work around things in order to get her way -- Bernadette's idea was definitely not the end of the world.


"We'd have to brainstorm the subject matter as well, but perhaps use a muse?"

Yael shrugged, the movement of her shoulders relaxed and somewhat flippant. "Sure, if it comes to it, that sounds fine," she said, her tone light and exposing little of her internal thoughts. "I dunno, I don't like to tie myself to specific things. We could take inspiration from a multitude of things and combine them into something original but cohesive."

Yael was one to take inspiration from the outside world rather than her own internal thoughts or musings when it came to her art; she was never particularly introspective or "in her head." So she supposed she could understand the appeal of a muse, but she usually didn't care for such things. Yael's muses were small fragments of puzzles and singular sensations from colorful experiences. She loved to capture the cattiness of a smirk, the dark, heated passion of one's rage, the pressing waves of heat from the sun, and convey them in a visual art form that still allowed the viewer to viscerally understand the feelings in the painting. Yael was never too inspired by any one thing or any one person. She found that far too restricting.

"Hey, about the realism and surrealism thing," Yael brought up. "That sounds like a great thing to branch off of. If we happen to use human figures, we could definitely make the base realistic -- like her skin and her hair. But it'd be fun to incorporate other things too -- like a surrealistic landscape reflected in her eyes. What do you think?"

Yael had no issue with realism, but she sure as hell wasn't going to paint basic human eyes with basic highlights if she could help it.