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encounters

USA

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a part of encounters, by nations.

None

nations holds sovereignty over USA, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

449 readers have been here.

Copyright: The creator of this roleplay has attributed some or all of its content to the following sources:

inspired by from greek mythology and lore olympus on webtoon

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USA

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USA is a part of encounters.

4 Characters Here

Jisun Yeong [48] all are equal in death.
Anastasia Ivanov [47] even flowers wither
Yael Yahalom [21] i challenge you.
Bernadette Dubois [21] you are a weapon

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Character Portrait: Yael Yahalom Character Portrait: Bernadette Dubois
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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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Character Portrait: Jisun Yeong Character Portrait: Anastasia Ivanov
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ImagexxxImagexxxImagexxxjisun yeong xxx影 地仙

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Jisun took a fork and sectioned off a piece of the proffered pancake, popping it into her mouth. "Not bad," she commented off-handedly. Jisun assumed that Anastasia was the kind of girl who either exclusively cooked traditional dishes, or didn't cook at all. She was mildly surprised to learn that Anastasia fell into neither of the camps.

"We could go after breakfast," Jisun offered, finishing the banana pancake as she sipped her coffee. "And after your errand . . . I could show you around." I can't believe I'm doing this. "Dal needs his walk anyway." Dal barked sharply at the mention of his name.

"And hey, I'll tell you about the school too. To prepare you." Jisun also had a few questions to ask Anastasia -- what her major really was, who she was engaged to, etc., etc., etc.

"There's something you should know about first, and I'm not gonna tell you about it outside." Jisun did not want to risk bumping into the wrong people at the wrong moment, and be forced to interact with them and deal with their shit. "Avoid the Fates at all costs.

"The Fates are the triplets of someone who so happens to have a shit-ton of influence at the school. You think I'm a bitch? I'm practically Jesus Christ compared to those three. They're essentially your superficial, gossipy high school girls who don't know what life is like. The problem is that they have that attitude combined with an amount of power that they don't deserve. If they dislike you enough, they could get you expelled for any petty reason. That's why so many people suck up to them. I knew someone in freshman year who got expelled because he always confronted the Fates; his family's reputation was tarnished, which is something I'm sure you would like to avoid. As painful as it is to say, the Fates aren't stupid, and they know how to use their undeserved power, even if it's for insignificant reasons. Honestly, I would love to shut their fucking yapping, but the best thing to do for your future, but mostly for your fucking sanity, is to stay away from them."


Jisun was not typically one to bow down to another power against her will. But in all honesty, the Fates were more trouble then they were worth. Jisun refused to put herself through that migraine for absolutely nothing in return, and made sure to keep the Fates out of sight and out of mind. That included making Anastasia stay out of their way; if Jisun had to deal with the Fates through her roommate, she would slam her head against the wall.

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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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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: Jisun Yeong Character Portrait: Anastasia Ivanov
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anastasia
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Anastasia smiled when Jisun commented on the pancakes; she figured that was a lot coming from her. There had been very few opportunities for her to cook before, so Anastasia did not have a lot of experience cooking different things but she was excited to do it now that there was the chance. There was already a list she had written down of recipes to try, both sweet and savory, and last night she had added more than a few items to the already-long list.

She was taking a bite of the pancake when Jisun mentioned the Fates sisters. Anastasia froze, the fork stopping between the place and her mouth.

The Fates were the only reason that Anastasia had even been allowed to move here in the first place. Leo’s family was closely acquainted with theirs and the three had always been a threatening presence at the Academy. The very few times that she had been around the Fates, they were not particularly awful since they knew who she was and her connection to the Ainsworth’s, especially after the engagement, but Anastasia knew what they were capable of doing and had never dared to do anything that would test the waters. Even the Academy, who tolerated little from their students regardless of their familial background, had swept some incidents under the rug for them.

Obviously, Anastasia planned to interact with the triplets as little as possible. She only needed to stay out of their way for a year since they were incoming graduating seniors.

As Jisun finished speaking about them, Anastasia took the bite of pancake. Her throat now felt dry and she had to take a sip of the coffee in order to pass it down. Should she tell Jisun?

Anastasia wondered if the young woman would hate her or even completely avoid her if she did. However, it would be inevitable that she’d find out. As much as Anastasia hoped to not interact with the Fates, they knew that she was attending Olympus this semester and it would be best to give Jisun the heads up.

“I know the Fates, actually,” she said a moment after Jisun finished her explanation. “They attended my Academy and their family is close to my fiance's family, so I’m… unfortunately aware of their reputation, but I have no affection for them. I’ve had very little interaction with them over the years, thankfully.”

Anastasia poked at the small piece that was left of her pancake. “They were actually the reason I was able to attend Olympus. My mother wanted familiar faces nearby. I suppose in case I needed help, even though they are the last people that I would go to if I did have any issue.”

A small laugh left her lips and she looked down at her food. Imagine actually approaching the Fates to tell them about your personal issues.

Or in case she needed to check in on me, she couldn't help but think. Anastasia sighed.

“I was basically going to get married after the Academy but I wasn’t ready. I managed to convince my mother to let me study in the United States but it was Olympus or nothing and she wouldn’t budge,” Anastasia said, putting her fork down and looking back up at Jisun. She supposed it was better to explain it than have Jisun suppose things. “I… hope that me knowing them doesn’t make you hate me.”

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Jisun tapped her fork lightly on her plate as she absorbed what Anastasia had told her. "As long as you don't drag me into their bullshit -- which, considering what you said, doesn't sound like it's going to be a problem -- than it doesn't matter." Jisun was a bit miffed when Anastasia mentioned her acquaintance with the Fates, but the feeling was quickly dissolved when she learned that Anastasia didn't like them either. Imagine if they were friends. How horrifying.

Now that I think about it though, the fact that Anastasia already knows the Fates can be a good thing.
That meant that Anastasia was already personally familiar their reputation -- her negative opinion of them would hold more significance than it would if Anastasia never heard of them previously. Jisun wouldn't have to reign in a curious, ignorant roommate from interacting with those snakes.

On the other hand, there was the drawback of the Fates already knowing Anastasia, which provided an open channel for engagement between them, and consequently, Jisun as well. Jisun wasn't sure if the Fates would try to reach out to Anastasia (
hopefully not). She would just have to pray that they wouldn't, although she was already mentally preparing for the possibility of it.

Hmm, let's not think about that.

"Other than the Fates, Olympus isn't that bad," Jisun commented, before adding drily, "After all, I'm here." In all seriousness however, Olympus University was a prestigious school. A few mean girls still stuck in their "popular high school bitch" phase didn't detract from that.

Jisun put her dish in the wash, before nodding at Anastasia's wedding ring.
"Who's the fiance? It's arranged, right?" Jisun wasn't surprised that she was right in her assumption from the previous day; many old prestigious families were rather traditional. The Hostetlers considered arranging marriages for Niall and Percy, but decided that it wasn't completely necessary. As the adopted child and the youngest, the Hostetlers didn't include Jisun in nearly as much of their traditions as they did for Niall and Percy. After all, any of the old traditions would have less impact if Jisun was involved rather than her two brothers. Of course, the Hostetlers could pull Jisun into their family business at any moment (which she honestly didn't mind that much -- it seemed like something she could find the inclination for), but for now, Jisun could enjoy a level of freedom her brothers did not have.

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Character Portrait: Jisun Yeong Character Portrait: Anastasia Ivanov
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anastasia
dialogue - #6c0102
thought - #d0a9a0

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Finishing her drink, Anastasia stood up. She put on the pink kitchen gloves and quickly rinsed the plates and everything she had used to make the breakfast in order to put it in the dishwasher. She supposed it would be easier to just wash it all at once; Anastasia never had to worry about those things before but now it seemed like such a waste of water to rinse and not wash everything right away.

Jisun's question caught her off guard. Even though it was arranged, she had necessarily not thought about it that way since it was something that Anastasia had always expected to happen. She had just thought of it as... marriage. Of course, it had been different when it actually happened; she had been left with emotions she couldn't quite understand but that was a long time ago and Leo was a whole ocean away.

Which reminded Anastasia that she still had to call Leo. Now would be the right time but Anastasia wanted to get out into the city. The weather app had said it would be sunny and she looked forward to a beautiful day. Surely, he would understand.

Taking off the gloves, Anastasia turned to Jisun. "Leonard Ainsworth," she replied simply. The family was old British money so she didn't think Jisun was likely to know them, not when compared to other families.

"I'll be back," she said, walking to her room and quickly changing into a set of clothes that wasn't splattered with pancake batter.

Leo wasn't a bad person; he was caring and had always made her enjoy their time together. Still, he wasn't someone Anastasia actively thought about. Having seen Jisun in shorts, Anastasia decided to pick out her own set. The look was wildly different, clearly, and Anastasia wasn't used to wearing shorts for daily basis. Mostly skirts and dresses. Jisun's style was... nothing like Anastasia had seen before. She wondered what she would look like with a style like Jisun's. Certainly out of place if not outright silly she figured.

"Ready?" She asked, coming back out. The sun shone brightly through the windows and Anastasia was excited; it had been rainy since she had arrived. She was used to cold and rainy weather but had always loved the heat and the sun.

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Character Portrait: Jisun Yeong Character Portrait: Anastasia Ivanov
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Leonard Ainsworth? Well, that's definitely an upper class name. Who names their kid Leonard? Jisun did not recognize the name Ainsworth, but clearly the family was rich. Besides his somewhat stuffy name, Jisun highly doubted that Anastasia would have been married off to someone who wasn't of high prestige and wealth.

Jisun beckoned Dal to come while Anastasia went to her room.
"You're gonna get your walk today, Dal," she murmured. "I know that girl is a stranger -- I'm a bit unnerved too -- but let's play nice. Okay? High five."

Jisun offered her hand, palm up. Dal reached his left paw up and slapped it, barking sharply in approval.

"Ready?" Jisun heard Anastasia call out. She turned to look at the other girl. Now that I think about it, this is the first time I've seen her wear something that's not a dress. Anastasia seemed to fit into the princess archetype, for a lack of a better term, just as well as the Fates fit into their roles as rich bitches and spoiled brats.

Jisun quickly attached Dal's leash to his collar.
"Let's go."

As the three of them walked out -- Dal bounding a little more energetically than usual -- Jisun asked bluntly, "Are you majoring in lit or international relations?"

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Character Portrait: Jisun Yeong Character Portrait: Anastasia Ivanov
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anastasia
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Anastasia smiled as she saw Dal's energy go up and felt her own energy brighten, evaporating away any of the heaviness she felt on her weight after speaking with her mother or the mentioning of the Fates sisters. She wanted to pet him but felt like perhaps it wasn't the right time just yet.

The hallway was empty and Anastasia wondered who else lived in this building, whether they were young or old. Something told her that Jisun would do everything possible to be away from people her age but she would have to wait until she could meet a neighbor. Perhaps she'd get some treats and go greet them herself; she had seen it being done in American suburban movies but wasn't sure if it was actually a thing one did. Maybe she would ask Jisun-- so many things to ask Jisun.

Unfortunately, Jisun also seemed to have a lot of questions for her. She didn't really mind but these touched on subjects she preferred not to speak about. Anastasia figured Jisun heard the last of her conversation with her mother.

"International Studies," she replied, pressing the "down" elevator button. Should she elaborate? Best not. Jisun would probably give her another speech on how it's ridiculous for her to hide it from her mother. Plus, the conversation would only put her off.

Anastasia wanted the doors to open immediately, as if she could step into a new space and forget the conversation but it was taking its time. "But I mostly have electives this first semester," she added after a moment.

Finally, the steel doors opened and she stepped inside. Her perfume, although a soft floral scent, seemed to fill the space.

"What kind of treats does Dal like? I was hoping to get him some, if you didn't mind," Anastasia asked, leaning over slightly to push the button to the first floor. Her shoulder brushed against Jisun's and she quickly took a small step to the side, murmuring an apology.

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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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bernadette
dialogue - #98942e
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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: Jisun Yeong Character Portrait: Anastasia Ivanov
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"International studies." Jisun raised an eyebrow suspisciously when Anastasia provided no elaboration. All right, so she's probably not going to talk about that. While Jisun was certainly a curious person, and was never one to let public perception or social niceties to prevent her from speaking her mind, she was also painfully familiar with invasive questions about her family. If Anastasia didn't want to talk about it, then Jisun wouldn't force her.

"What electives do you have?" Jisun asked absentmindedly. A lot of her own courses for the coming semester were required for her major, but she did make a point to sign up for a couple of electives. Besides her decent amount of classes required for criminology (her major, which she liked), Jisun also had two minors to cater to: psychology (which interested her) and business (which did not).

When Jisun graduated high school, she was sure of what path she wanted to take, even if it wasn't typical for someone of her standing. The brutal equality of death always fascinated her; although she had absolutely no interest in getting her hands dirty with it like a coroner would, Jisun was interested in occupations along the lines of being a forensic psychologist or a criminal profiler. Of course, life was not nearly as black and white as death was, but Jisun hoped to bring the fairness of death into criminal justice.

However, she was still the (adopted) daughter of powerful business moguls; if Niall and Percy were somehow taken out of action, Jisun knew she would be called upon to head the company. Thus, she applied for a business minor, even though it did not interest her in the slightest. When dealing with rich businessman, there was absolutely no sense of justice or equality; at the level the Hostetlers were at, business was more of using one's preexisting fortune to monopolize the weak. The Hostetlers somehow assumed that Jisun wouldn't mind it, since she was one of the weak who was fortunate enough to be handed the status of the wealthy. They assumed that Jisun was grateful to be given privilege, and that she would have no issue in pushing down those of her former station, having fought her way in a dog-eat-dog world. In reality, Jisun felt a bitter hatred for such an idea. In her brief moments of lofty idealism, she had considered taking up a high position in the company so she could act more just with her powers than those before her, but those ideas were always quickly extinguished; Jisun, no matter how wealthy, was always a slave to the system.

That seemed to be a quality both life and death shared.

Jisun was drawn out of her thoughts when the elevator doors opened.
Dear Lord -- there's nothing more uncomfortable than being in an enclosed space with someone.

"What kind of treats does Dal like? I was hoping to get him some, if you didn't mind." Jisun flinched instictively Anastasia's shoulder brushed her own, but she quickly relaxed. With Anastasia's floral perfume filling up the small space, Jisun felt surrounded by someone in an almost uncomfortably intimate way.

"Dal's pretty spoiled," Jisun began, reaching down to rub the Rottweiler's ears. Dal keened in response, wagging his tail eagerly. "There's not much he doesn't like. He really enjoys exotic meat jerky, though.

"As long as it doesn't kill him, Dal will probably appreciate whatever you give him."
Jisun paused, before adding gruffly, "thanks for taking care of him, by the way. I'm sure Dal will appreciate it." It was rare for someone to treat Dal with much affection -- besides his intimidatingly large stature, Dal was also quite aggressive to strangers, and remained aloof towards anyone he didn't know intimately. Even in the small elevator, he was purposefully turning away from Anastasia, giving her no attention whatsoever. But if the other girl continued treating Dal kindly, then Jisun was sure that he would open up to her . . . eventually.

"The campus is only a couple blocks down from here," Jisun explained as the two exited the building. Once the two of them turned the corner of the first block, Olympus University appeared, its old architecture easy to spot from anywhere within the general area. "If you somehow get lost walking to campus, I'll have good reason to be concerned. If you get lost inside the campus though, it'll be a bit more understandable." The campus grounds of Olympus were large and sprawling, befitting a prestigious univerisity. The buildings were of an older design, and had very little indication of what was what. From the outside, the library and the gym were indistinguishable to the unfamiliar eye. It wasn't uncommon for freshmen to get confused.

"They have maps in the front office," Jisun mentioned. "You'll probably need it."

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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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At the question of electives, Anastasia briefly thought back to her schedule. Given that she was an incoming student, there was a lot of freedom for her to choose electives, aside from the required International Studies classes, and she had chosen the ones that most interested, according to the categories she had to fill.

"I have Sex, Gender, and Sexuality," she said after a moment. The words felt almost foreign in her mouth; Anastasia knew very little about either of the three but the course had interested her. "And Basic German. The other classes right now are for my major."

Anastasia nodded with a smile at Dal’s inclusive palette. The canine hadn’t very affectionate but she respected that; not every dog immediately opened to strangers. "I haven’t lived with a pet since I was very young," Anastasia confessed. "I’m sure it’s nice to have a companion you can trust with your life."

As they exited the elevator, Anastasia followed Jisun. She laughed at her comment about getting lost. "I have a map on my phone just in case," Anastasia said. She had marked all of her classes in the mobile image and mapped out where she had to go. She was sure it wouldn’t take her more than a day or two to get used to moving between classes but the campus looked huge from the map and she supposed it would take her much longer. She had been so familiar with the Academy’s grounds that she could move with ease between halls and lawns even blindfolded.

As they walked down the street, Anastasia took a moment to take in the area around her. With a clear sky, the city looked very different than yesterday. It was also much warmer and the sunlight felt nice on her pale skin.

"Did you live in New York before univeristy?" Anastasia asked.

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Sex, gender, and sexuality? Jisun didn't see that coming, but it wasn't too unreasonable, the more she thought about it. Anastasia didn't really seem like the kind of girl who was all about sexuality . . . but then again, girls who already were, probably wouldn't take that elective. Jisun herself, much to the surprise of anyone, also opted for that elective for the coming semester, though she didn't mention it to Anastasia. It wasn't something anybody, including herself, expected out of her; however, when Jisun recently started defining her sexuality beyond "straight but likes girls sometimes" -- she was always fond of labels -- she realized how much more complicated the topic was. Apparently gender was a spectrum? And so was sexuality, to the point where asexual people could have different preferences about sex. After weeks of confused contemplation, Jisun decided to jump the gun and sign up for the class -- it's not like she had anything to lose.

"You're taking German?" Jisun asked, focusing all her acknowledgement Anastasia's other elective. "That's interesting. My adoptive parents had me study French and German after I began living with them. German can seem intimidating at first, but it's not as difficult as it seems."

Jisun nodded along as Anastasia talked briefly about having a pet. "That's very true," she agreed easily, bending down to scratch between Dal's ears. "Humans are an intelligent species, but they're sinister. You never know when someone will betray you -- but dogs are not nearly as complex. With them, it's just a friendship. A companionship."

It was true -- humanity was cruel in its intelligence, whether it was their intent or not. Jisun was personally familiar with its effects. But animals, though perhaps less intelligent, were no less worthy as friends.

The grand university campus seemed even more massive as Jisun, Anastasia, and Dal began to near it.
"I lived in California," Jisun responded. The Hostetlers were unique amongst larger hotel corporations for basing their operations on the Pacific Coast -- many of their competitors were headquartered in Virginia, or Maryland, or New Jersey; Texas was the farthest west they would go. Of course, Best Western was based in Arizona, but Best Western certainly wasn't a luxury hotel chain.

The two girls plus Dal were only around twenty yards away from the front entrance of the campus when the worst possible luck struck down upon them. Jisun visibly grimaced when she saw the three Fates come their way; they were walking on the same side of the sidewalk, but the two groups were travelling in different directions -- they were sure to bump into each other. Not caring how it would seem, Jisun immediately directed Dal to cross the street, but halted when she heard a voice call out, "Ana? Is that you?" There was a short pause, before it added, "are you with Jisun Yeong?"

Jisun had a very strong temptation to just pretend like the Fates didn't exist -- she wasn't interested in that headache on such a nice day. But while she didn't care that much about Anastasia yet (they did only know each other for a day), she couldn't really leave the other girl out to dry. Besides, as Jisun's roommate, whatever went down with Anastasia affected Jisun as well.

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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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Anastasia had heard a lot about Califarnia. It would be wonderful if she had the opportunity to visit. However, she knew that it was on the other side of the country, even a couple of hours away on plane. She wondered what had prompted Jisun so move all the way to the other coast.

Anastasia had been too busy looking at the beautiful campus they had walked into, it was much more beautiful in person than in online photos and mailed brochures, that Jisun's sudden change of direction took her back surprise. Without thinking, she changed direction since she had been following Jisun without question in order to learn the way.

When she heard her name called out, Anastasia paused. A small frown appeared on her face, since she didn't immediately recognize the voice and wasn't really expecting to hear her name anywhere, but it didn't last more than a brief moment because she quickly spotted the Fates. Her expression immediately changed, first her eyes widened in surprise, and a moment after she was smiling. It wasn't a smile like the one when she looked at Dal or the campus around them, but it was prudent and rehearsed enough to come out friendly enough. The Fates took her by surprise; although something told her it wouldn't have been long until she bumped across one of them, Anastasia had not expected to see them this soon or all the three of them at once, although they did tend to travel in a pack.

"Clara, Lacey, Tristan," Anastasia greeted them as they walked up. The three were dressed impeccably and Anastasia felt the air around her change as she air kissed each of them. "What a surprise, I didn't expect to see you here,"

Anastasia glanced over at Jisun. The young woman didn't seem too happy; she had been clear about her stance with the Fates. It was clear that the Fates knew Jisun, especially in their tone had changed with pronouncing her name. Either Jisun was well-known around campus, which surprised Anastasia since Jisun didn't seem like one to be too sociable, or there was some interaction that had happened between them.

She wondered what the best way to answer was; Anastasia didn't want to tell the Fates that they were roommates. Not because she cared about other people knowing but she feared that somehow word would get to her mother. She needed to get through the first week. After add-drop, it would be harder for her mother to justify taking her out over smaller details.

"I met Jisun yesterday," Her smile changed briefly when she looked at Jisun, "She's showing me around the campus."

"You could've asked us to show you around," Lacey commented with a raised eyebrow, "You must've known we study here."

"Of course. I didn't want to bother you with these things," Anastasia could feel her heart pounding. "I'm sure the three of you are very busy."

"Not a bother at all," Clay said with a smile. There was something about the smile that unsettled Anastasia; it seemed almost like a frown.

"Well, we must be on our way," the third one said, flashing a look at Jisun. There was always something about them carrying a conversation as if they were one person. "Keep in touch, Ana."

The last sentence seemed less like an invitation and more like a command. Anastasia nodded and kissed the three of them on the cheek.

"Tell Leo we miss him," Clara said with a wink before they left.

Anastasia looked over her shoulder to make sure they had really gone. The air around them still seemed heavy and we wanted to get going. She had never been sure how Leo could've genuinely enjoyed spending time with the three of them; she had never liked it herself, even if they were close due to their families. Sure, they could be fun but they were as equally dangerous, in more than one way.

"I’m sorry I didn’t tell them about us being roommates. I figured it was best they didn't know," Anastasia said when she felt safe enough to speak freely again. She figured there was no need to explain but she didn't want Jisun thinking it was because she was embarrassed in front of the Fates. "My mother wouldn't be too happy finding out I have a roommate, it must have been a mistake when she chose the place. Knowing the Fates, it could reach her through them; they’re one to cause trouble when possible. You know. Anyways, should we keep going? I think the faster I get this errand done with the better."

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Jisun stood there stonily, not saying a word as Anastasia interacted with the Fates. She could tell that the other girl was just being polite; her smile had said it all. Jisun had stuck out by an uncomfortably large amount when she was first adopted by the Hostetlers, and made it a mission to analyze the behavior of the people around her so she could understand her new life better. Fake smiles were things she picked up on quickly; apparently, pretending to like each other was a big part of the lives of the rich. Jisun herself never chose to adapt that habit -- transparency was important to her, and she didn't care for false pretenses.

Jisun narrowed her eyes slightly when one of the Fates gave her a look of disguised contempt. Admittedly, Jisun didn't know which sister was which -- they were a singular, horrible entity in her mind. Jisun didn't care to distinguish the sisters, or give them their own identity -- she probably would never stand on civil grounds with them, so what was the point? The best option would be for Jisun and the Fates to stay out of each other's lives completely.

Jisun felt a weary kind of relief when the three sisters finally left, and it seemed that Dal shared the sentiment, with the way he suddenly perked up. She turned to look at Anastasia, and silently applauded her -- Jisun herself would never be able to keep up a pleasant pretense like the younger girl had. Maybe Anastasia had very little sense of personal agency (Jisun's mind flashed back to their argument from the previous night), but at least she could play the game that Jisun had absolutely no expertise in.


"I’m sorry I didn’t tell them about us being roommates. I figured it was best they didn't know." Anastasia's very clear change of speaking made Jisun feel a little proud that the other girl was more comfortable around her than the Fates (though, the bar was set particularly low for that standard).

Jisun shrugged, before saying,
"yeah, that's probably for the better." The Fates, unfortunately, had both connections and a desire to wreak havoc on the lives of others -- less information definitely was for the best.

"Let's go," Jisun agreed immediately, turning Dal back towards the original sidewalk. Hopefully, they wouldn't have to run into anyone again.

"Leo's your fiancé, right?" Jisun voluntarily chose to strike up a conversation. "Are he and the Fates . . . friends?"

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Anastasia watched Dal's demeanor change and couldn't help but let out a soft laugh, "I know how you feel, Dal."

"Since they were children," Anastasia nodded at Jisun's question. The Fates had known Leo for much longer than her. Summer vacations or social gatherings were made long whenever the Fates were around because Anastasia had to be on guard even more than usual. "Unfortunately, their families are quite close so they grew up together. I don't think Leo is anything like them so it has always struck me that he seems to genuinely enjoy spending time with them."

There was an edge to her words; it bothered her whenever the Fates got too close. The Fates had the power to destroy many things. The engagement could be one of those things. Even her mother warned her of them from the beginning.

"I think everyone was surprised when the two of us became engaged," Anastasia said after a moment, twisting the engagement ring around her finger. To think that one could have all the money in the world and still have someone above them, looking down with disdain. "We're not royal blood or an old name like the Fates or Leo's family."

Sometimes, Anastasia didn't know if she just preferred to mess things up, let something slip and ruin the engagement. The reprecussions from her mother terrified her too much though.

Anastasia enjoyed that Jisun had asked questions, trying to spark a conversation, but the topic she had chosen wasn't one Anastasia wanted to spend too long in, but it at least gave her hope that Jisun would be open to talking about other things. The Fates were gone for now and all she could do was live as much of her life as possible whenever they weren't around.

"Do you want to go out for dinner together, tonight?" Anastasia asked, her tone light again as she began to walk down. She paused as they came upon a flower tree on the side of the sidewalk. A small cluster of white flowers had fallen on the lush gras. Anastasia picked it up and put it on her hair. "I don't mind where we go, so you can choose if you prefer."

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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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"Unfortunately, their families are quite close so they grew up together. I don't think Leo is anything like them so it has always struck me that he seems to genuinely enjoy spending time with them."

Jisun furrowed a brow, making sure to hold her tongue and not let any of her immediate thoughts slip out. The edge to Anastasia's voice was easily noticed; it stuck out against the typical inflection of her voice. It seemed that Anastasia shared the same reservations Jisun did about her fiancé and the Fates, although to what degree was indistinguishable. Usually, Jisun had no qualms about speaking her mind, even if it hurt someone; she refused to hide anyone from the truth. However, no matter how iffy she felt about Leo and the Fates, Jisun had to remind herself that she had absolutely no knowledge about Leo as a person. She couldn't make any assumptions, but she did know about the Fates' temperament, and that was enough to make her feel uneasy.

"I think everyone was surprised when the two of us became engaged," Anastasia added belatedly. "We're not royal blood or an old name like the Fates or Leo's family."

"I'm sure that doesn't matter," Jisun responded immediately, shrugging. "If you're rich, you're rich. It's all the same, as long as the marriage is beneficial."

Perhaps there was a difference between old money and new money, but Jisun couldn't tell what it was. In her mind, people arranged marriages for wealth, connections, and overall, any reason that made it beneficial to their empires. As long as new money had all of those qualities, the only thing that separated them from old money was a name. A name might be a pretty thing to boast, but it didn't add anything that bolstered the family's marrying value.

"Do you want to go out for dinner together, tonight?" Jisun couldn't prevent her eyebrows from shooting up to her hairline in surprise. No one ever asked her to hang out -- besides maybe Han-gyeol when the two of them crossed paths with each other, but that was different. Han-gyeol and Jisun went through the same tragedy together -- their shared adversity did much to strengthen their bond. Anastasia was someone new; two days ago, Jisun didn't even know who she was. Jisun never had anyone who knew her for so little time actually want to be around her.

Jisun watched deliberately as Anastasia leaned down to pick up a fallen flower and place it in her hair, and couldn't help but think,
That is such an Anastasia thing to do. "I don't mind where we go, so you can choose if you prefer."

Jisun stayed silent for a long time. Even though she logically knew how to respond to such an offer, she simply wasn't used to it, and couldn't put what she rationally understood into application. "Sure," she finally said, adding, "you don't know much about foreign cultures, right? We can go get Korean barbeque -- it's quintessentially Korean, and it tastes good. I'll take you to my favorite spot; dress casually."

---

Jisun made sure to dress warmer for the evening. She generally kept the same outfit she already had on, but made sure to swap her shorts for some black jeans, and to put on a casual black blazer-style jacket.


"We can take the subway there," Jisun explained to Anastasia once they both stepped out of their rooms. "I don't have a car -- it's not as cost-effective for me personally -- so public transportation it is."

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Character Portrait: Jisun Yeong Character Portrait: Anastasia Ivanov
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Anastasia didn't say anything to Jisun's comment about how there was even a hierarchy within the richest families in the world. It didn't matter as much to the "new wealth" but it did matter to old names. Anastasia felt it around Leo's direct social circle but it was in the subtle actions and manner of speaking that one could detect it.

The silence between them following Anastasia's invitation left her fidgeting, pushing back strands of hair. Had she been wrong in asking? She wasn't sure what it could possibly be-- there was always the option to say no. However, as the silence prolonged, Anastasia wondered if it would be best to retract her offer. A soft breath left her lips as Jisun finally asked, her body relaxing.

Anastasia replied smiled at the offer for Korean food. There was also something about Jisun mentioning that they would go to her favorite spot. Jisun didn't seem like the kind of person to share those small details about her life. Anastasia felt like she would get a better glimpse of her new roommate and it intrigued her.

"That sounds great."
--

Later that evening, Anastasia finished getting ready. Unfortunately, as varied as her closet had been set up, it was not very casual, at least not in what she imagined Jisun's terms to be. Anastasia decided on a pair of slim dark dress pants, a simple long-sleeved top and flats.

Stepping outside, Anastasia couldn't help but do a double take of Jisun.

"I really like your jacket," she said. It gave Jisun another edge and, while Anastasia figured it would not be the case if she tried it on herself, she still couldn't help but wonder what it would look like on her.

"Sounds good, but I'll have to get a subway card," she said when Jisun mentioned public transportation, hoping that there were machines where she could easily buy them like back in London. It did surprise her to hear Jisun's comment on cost effectiveness; it wouldn't cost her family anything to give Jisun a car, relative to their wealth. However, Anastasia knew that it was just easier to get around public transportation instead of driving through the often-blocked city roads.

Anastasia waved goodbye to Dal as they stepped into the hall. Outside, the sky was dark. There were no stars because of the city's bright lights but the street looked completely different than during the day or even when it was raining.

The subway station wasn't too far from their apartment and Anastasia heard the leaving and coming trains as they stepped down the stairs. Her heartpace picked up a little as she realized that they would be out until late, probably far from the subway; she wasn't used to going out into the city after dark and the thought of dark streets scared her. Anastasia glanced over at Jisun but didn't say anything. She was sure Jisun would think she was silly for being afraid of the night.

You have to learn how to get out, you can't be stuck in this neighborhood, Anastasia told herself. It made her angry to feel that fear, although it was because this was her first time ever going out at night without being in a group, with her family, or with supervision.

Plus, I'm not going alone, Anastasia reassured herself as they stepped into the subway car, looking over at Jisun one more time, her gaze lingering a little longer. She took a seat in an empty row so that Jisun could choose if she wanted to sit without and instincitively smoothing down her pants. I'm safe.

The thought calmed her well enough. She would learn how to navigate the subway system during the day and, for now, she trusted Jisun to get them to where they needed to go and back home.

The train ride, thankfully, didn't feel too long. Anastasia watched as the view on the windows cahnge from stations to the black walls of the tunnels and back. People came and went, all in their own personal worlds, barely engaging with those around them. There were many headhones, lit screens, and open books.

"It's odd to think that I won't see most of these people again for the rest of my life," Anastasia said, saying it just loud enough for Jisun to hear. "At the Academy it was the same faces-- the same people-- every day for years. Now, I only get a brief moment to see their people's before they walk away forever. I don't know if it's whether it's freeing or not."

I can be anyone, she answered the question in her mind, In a city where I'm a stranger to all. It really is the blank slate I wanted-- at least, the closest you'll ever get to it. Now, I just have to figure out who I am.

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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 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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Character Portrait: Yael Yahalom Character Portrait: Bernadette Dubois
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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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Character Portrait: Jisun Yeong Character Portrait: Anastasia Ivanov
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"I really like your jacket."

Jisun couldn't help but reach for the lapel of her black, loosely blazer-inspired jacket and adjusting it. "Thanks," she replied plainly, giving Anastasia a brief once-over. The other girl's outfit was fairly simple and perhaps semi-formal by typical standards, but it suited the her well, and definitely wasn't fancy enough to garner Anastasia any strange looks in the restaurant they were going to.

Jisun nodded along when Anastasia mentioned needing a subway card.
"Public transporation in New York is a lot cheaper and more efficient than driving," she told the other girl. "A subway card will be really beneficial, especially if you like going out." Jisun clearly wasn't one to leave the apartment much -- she got most of her Vitamin D from walking Dal, and rarely interacted with anyone except for the Rottweiler. She wondered if Anastasia was the same; some people in the world were clearly extroverts, and some, like Jisun, were obvious recluses. Anastasia didn't seem to clearly land on either side of the spectrum; she was definitely more of an extrovert than Jisun, but she didn't really seem like a party girl either.

"Be good, okay Dal?" Jisun said lowly to the Rottweiler, who seemed to bark in affirmation. With a final scratch to his head, Jisun stood up and led Anastasia outside the apartment. She glanced upwards at the sky, frowning at the lack of stars. In big cities like New York, the night sky and its stars were often mottled out by the blaring city lights. Jisun liked the city and she liked modern life, and she most certainly liked her lifestyle in America more than the starvation she went through in North Korea, but sometimes, she missed the time when she was young. Back in Sinuiju and the countryside of North Korea, the city would be a field of darkness, and the glittering stars in the sky would be the only source of light for miles. Jisun was still a night person, but the nights of New York and the nights of Sinuiju were incomparable.

Jisun descended down the stairs of the subway station, and was quickly met with the cacophony of noises that came from the bustling of people and the whooshing of passing trains. Before, she wasn't fond of the noise, and wanted only silence. But Jisun learned to find peace in the sounds of people passing; it made her recognize her own insignificance as a singular person in the cycle of the universe. The crowds of people only emphasized her own anonymity.

Jisun had taken a seat next to Anastasia, and was surprised to hear the words that came out of the other girl's mouth.
I was just mulling over something so similar, Jisun mused to herself, surprised and lowly amused.

"I guess that's an interesting way to see it," Jisun responded. "I've never been in a position similar to yours at your academy, so I suppose I can't understand that. It's a little jarring to see yourself as one person in the crowd, and to recognize how small you are in the grand scheme of the universe. But this is normal here -- I suppose it might take a little while to get used to it."

Jisun tapped Anastasia's shoulder when the train arrived to the next stop. She led the girl out of the station, walking half a block to the Korean restaurant she so adored. Byeoljji BBQ wasn't a large restaurant, nor was it a tiny one. It was quaint, and had many loyal customers, but rarely had all of its tables filled. Yet, it was Jisun's favorite restaurant, even surpassing the one a few neighborhoods down that had won a Michelin star (though, said restaurant was a close second). Maybe Jisun was biased; of course, the food was incredible without a doubt, but the owner and the sous chef of Byeoljji BBQ were North Korean defectors -- just like Jisun.

"Jisun-ah, is that you?" A voice called out in Korean as Jisun stepped into the store. Jisun admittedly did not eat out often, but the staff all remembered her since the first time she came to the restaurant. Jisun was convinced it was because they saw the sliver of North Korean that still lived on within her from the moment she spoke.

"Did you bring a friend?" Yoonseok, the owner of the voice, continued, still in Korean. He was a cashier and a server, and he was a South Korean immigrant. His face was bright and youthful, and the cheerfulness of his personality always leaked into his demeanor. "Hold on, lemme get Byeoljji and Bokyung." As soon as Yoonseok called out their names, the two older Koreans bustled out of the kitchen.

"Jisunie," Byeoljji, the owner and founder of the restaurant, said warmly. She was around the age Jisun's mother would've been if she was still alive. Her eyes crinkled with smile lines, and despite her tiny frame, her demeanor was motherly and all-encompassing. "How are you? And oh -- who's your friend?"


"I'm doing well," Jisun responded. Her tone wasn't particularly warm with any obvious emotion, but Byeoljji smiled all the same. "This is Anastasia," Jisun turned to the other girl, finally switching to English.

"Oh! Hello, Ana-stay-ja," Byeoljji said in heavily broken English. "My name is Byeoljji." She turned back to Jisun. "Tell her I said that it's lovely to meet Jisunie's friend! Take a seat, you two. I'll send Yoonseok to serve you soon." And with a final bow to Anastasia, Byeoljji hobbled back to the kitchen. Bokyung, her husband, gave Jisun a nod before following his wife back. He was a man of few words, but he was genuine.

Jisun relayed the words to Anastasia.
"If you have any questions about what to order, just ask," she added.