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Lucas Long

"It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane."-- Valis

0 · 304 views · located in Laurea, New York

a character in “Laurel”, as played by piearty

Description


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{ "Everyone's a freak; some people just hide it better than others. Lucky them." }


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Name
Lucas Long

Age & Grade
18, rising senior

Number of Years at Laurel
First and last year at Laurel

Sexual Orientation
Bisexual/Biromantic

Group?
Power

Power
Psychic; he can read thoughts and feelings/senses. This is involuntary and 'on' all the time, no matter how badly he would like to have it stop.
This is limited to knowing thought that are on a person’s immediate mind; he won’t know someone’s dark secrets or anything unless they consciously think about them.
Because he knows what people are thinking when they say things, he can also understand languages, or more accurately, bypass the language barrier entirely. He has also learned how to speak a few phrases in various languages just by linking the proper spoken phrases with their thoughts.
He can also understand animals’ thoughts, though they are less loud and intrusive the less intelligent the animal is (hence why he doesn’t hear 5000 bug thoughts all the time)
Taking any form of drug, from pot to caffeine to alcohol, messes with his power and gives him a range of negative effects such as nausea, migraines, disjointed vision, faintness, and weakened limbs.
He also is kept up at night by other people’s dreams and nightmares, so he doesn’t sleep well.






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ImageStrengths
Smart || Reads quickly || Piano || Writing || Loyal || Trusting || Hopeful || Omniglot || Budgeting

Weaknesses
Insomnia || Depression || Weak constitution || Closed off || Poor || Bitter || Unsure || Taking any form of drug

Fears
Dying alone || Being homeless || Starving

Secrets
Due to an accident involving his powers and his constant state of exhaustion, Lucas is deaf. Due to his power of reading minds, you’d never be able to tell. He never learned sign language or how to read lips because he can just read people’s minds to know what they’re saying (he can differentiate from what is being spoken and merely thought). However, this means he cannot hear audio from sources aside from living beings. He can’t hear any music (bar live singing), use the telephone, watch tv or movies without subtitles, hear anything sourced from speakers, etc. He doesn’t like to talk about this and generally pretends that he is not deaf—he hasn’t fully come to terms with it himself.




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ImagePersonality
{ Snarky || Melancholy || Lonely || Exhausted }
Behind the wall of sarcasm and listlessness that Lucas puts up lies a soul desperate for human interaction. He can’t remember the last time he didn’t feel so fucking lonely, which he finds ironic due to his mind being filled with people’s thoughts and voices literally 24/7. If you are kind to him you will be surprised to find how quickly the façade of bitterness and detachment crashes down and a sort of shy, unwavering loyalty and trust replaces it. This has hurt him in the past.

Lucas suffers from depression and finds himself lying in bed for hours, alone in his disheveled room, far more often than he’d like. Part of it comes from not having enough energy to do things, and part of it comes from attempting to isolate himself from other people’s thoughts, though that never helped much in his NYC apartment where the walls were paper thin. His appearance isn’t the best—he has a sallow face and bags under his eyes, his hair is shaggy and unkept, and he constantly wears the same ratty blue-grey hoodie.

The (metaphorical) ghost of Alex haunts him still; as they were in a relationship before Lucas’ powers manifested and everything went to shit, Lucas has associated him with happiness, bliss, and perfection. Thus he tends to be attracted to people who are like Alex: kind, gentle, altruistic, and warm-hearted.

Because of various reasons including bullying and unfortunate forays into psychotherapy, Lucas is very, very reluctant to reveal the fact that he has powers. Thus he tries to play dumb about knowledge he ‘shouldn’t’ have, though sometimes he slips up. Trying to keep thing straight has lead him to hate liars (which he realizes is sort of hypocritical) and if someone is blatantly lying to him, he will often try to prod and persuade them into admitting the truth (if he thinks he has a chance).

Lucas finds himself “too curious for his own good” and when something is intriguing to him he always finds himself poking around to find out more, going against the little voice in his head that hisses for him to stay quiet, closed off, and secretive.

FUN FACT: Lucas blushes at the drop of a hat.






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Science fiction || Books || Sleep || Kindness || Being read to || Cuddling || Friends || Food || Sunlight || New York City || Choirs || Listening to A capella || Knowledge


ImageImageDislikes
Nightmares || Drugs (from pot to caffeine to tylenol) || Liars || His power || Crying || Being alone || Nighttime || Working || Mysteries




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ImageBiography
Lucas had a pretty happy life until around 9th grade. Until that point he was a nerdy kid who liked music and science fiction, got good grades and even played the piano at his mother’s behest. 9th grade was when his latent psychic power suddenly manifested. He suffered from the sensory overload and was a numb shell for about a year, which he has described as feeling like “a floating brain surrounded by sensations and nothing else”. This caused him to flunk that year, which his mother was extremely displeased by. For the rest of high school he was relentlessly bullied for acting so strangely, and any attempts to fit in tended to end painfully and embarrassingly. For awhile his only solace was his long-time best friend and later boyfriend Alex, until Alex’s life was tragically lost in a car accident. This did not help Lucas’ state of mind at all and the combo of the bullying, his boyfriend’s death, and the general difficulty of his power caused him to spiral into depression. His mother, who had given him up as a failure after he repeated 9th, kicked him out as soon as he turned 18. He struggled on his own in New York City, working as a cashier at Walgreens and struggling to make ends meet due to being cut off from his mother’s support. Hearing about Laurel Academy and how they take in those with special powers, among others, he took the chance to transfer from his awful high school to there, not only for the room and board, but for a chance to start afresh with people who might not hate him. This will be his 5th year in high school, a fact that he is not especially eager to tell anyone.





ImagePlayed By: Piearty
Dialogue Color: #140B4D
Face Claim: Aaron Yan

*note-- when interacting with Lucas I request that you consider and make sure to write accurately about any thoughts that would be on your character's mind so I can depict his power properly.

So begins...

Lucas Long's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Daniel Ahn Character Portrait: Holden Cunningham Character Portrait: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Rebecca Sayre Character Portrait: Christine Garner Character Portrait: Anna-Marie Beckett Character Portrait: Sterling Walker Character Portrait: Lane Blackwell Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Anthony Carraway Character Portrait: Mimi Arquette Character Portrait: Guadalupe Solorzano-Cifuentes Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Keevan Brennan Character Portrait: Colin Dartonay Character Portrait: Kai Rainwalker Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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{ Monday, June 22nd || Laurel Summer Academy || Partly Cloudy }

Before the Summer semester there is always a long weekend for non yearlies to move out, and for students to move over to the summer dorms for the semester. The weekend starts on Wednesday and ends Tuesday the next week. The night before there is traditionally a bonfire dance, which is non-mandatory but popular, mostly because the food provided is delicious and staff are extremely willing to turn a blind eye during it. It is also common for students to ask dates to the bonfire dance, it being the common beginning of summer romances, both of the lasting and fling variety.

At the moment, it is quarter to noon. Most students have been awake since breakfast, although there are always those willing to forgo the meal in favor of sleeping past noon. Students are settled into their dorms, for the most part, and have picked the classes they will begin taking the next day.

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In celebration of the beginning of Erin's final Summer Semester as a student of Laurel (as technically next year she will have graduated from the school come Summer Semester), the young woman is nowhere to be found. She was not in her room when her roommate woke up, was not at breakfast, and most certainly was not anywhere at all in the dorms. Of course, those who could not find her did not really know the young woman particularly well. Anyone who knows Erin knows precisely where she ought to be, and would have been surprised to find her in her room this morning. This is because every year (the celebration thing is merely a dumb excuse) she camps out the night before the bonfire. That is to say the young woman finds a nice spot in a thicket of trees just a bit off from the beach around the lake, pitches a modest little tent, and roasts smores and watches the stars. All of her friends have an open invitation to take part in this little tradition, though most come for the smores and leave back for their dorms around midnight or so to sleep in a comfortable bed. While there they might also set of sparklers with her and laugh and tell horror stories, for Erin loves nothing better than a cheesy, stereotypical fireside horror story. The midnight society is very much her ideal.

But that was last night, and now it is afternoon, and the young woman is only just waking up. She has a little set up over a little fire to try and cook eggs, which every single year are always runny and underdone but she claims are the most delicious and perfectly made eggs the world has ever seen. No one who has tasted them as denied this, at least not out loud, for the sake of playing along with her little annual game. Thus it will go this year as well, as the young woman stretches out her legs and arms, yawns in a particularly cat-like manner with her eyes scrunching shut and her nose wrinkling. She pokes her head out from the tent flap, as this is a very traditional sort of triangle little tent, to see that light is already dancing across the ground, filtered by the trees into generously illuminated patches. Erin smiles- she couldn't keep a straight face if she tried at the moment. This is always one of her very favorite times of the year, and has been since she started the tradition in seventh grade. Of course, back then she was often joined by- well, it hardly matters anymore. What matters is that she shrugs on her bathing suit and go off into the lake to wash off the night's sleep. It is going to be frigid, of course, it always seems to be. Glad with the thought, Erin darts out of her little cluster of trees and towards the lake.



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Daniel Ahn has been awake since a little past dawn. Of course, he has been, because the boy often seems slightly more robot than man with his stoic expression and vague sense of distance from everyone else. Oh, he's something of an asshole, most everyone knows that by now, but in a way which seems more programmed than pathological, with his judgmental glances and calculating little smirk. His opinions seem like protocols, patterns inserted into his psyche, with how cleanly he sorts people. Friend, foe, or irrelevant: there is little space for compromise among these two categories in the eyes of Daniel Ahn.

That aside, there is of course a reason for him rising with the sun on a day in which oversleeping is an option many are more than happy to take. Every morning Daniel goes for a run. He does not strike anyone as the most athletic of individuals, and would never be caught at the gym pumping iron or on the basketball court playing 1v1. However, part of his criticalness must be pointed towards himself, and he expects some semblance of fitness of himself. Thus, the young man jogs nearly every morning, come rain and snow, more reliable than the US Postal Service. Daniel has always been inclined towards pattern and routine, after all. This is perhaps why he becomes so attached to a select group of people: they simply become part of his routine, albeit a part he becomes fiercely loyal to.

After his run, Daniel had naturally taken a shower and then eaten breakfast with a few other Influentials. Since then he has been quite content to sit on the back porch of one of the dorms (which are honestly just two large cabins) and read a book. It is Anna Karenina, which he has taken a disliking to but resolved to finish due to the principle of the thing. It is far too soap opera in his view, though he may not know enough of soap operas to fairly judge this. Daniel glances at his watch and flicks the page in the same clean movement. He'll likely be going to lunch soon enough.


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For his part, Keevan is still dead to the world. He's never been much for early rising, and will likely sleep straight through lunch if no one intervenes and interrupts his nearly comatose state.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Colin Dartonay Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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#, as written by piearty
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When Lucas first arrived at the gates of Laurel, looking at the stone architecture and almost castle-like spires that rose from its towers, his first thought was "I don't belong here". Glancing at the students walking around, most of them in nice clothes and some of them in full out three-piece suits, his second thought was "I definitely don't belong here."

Nonetheless, the school had accepted him due to his power, which meant he probably belonged there more than any other place. He still couldn't believe there was a place like this, actively seeking-- and apparently, allegedly containing people like him.
He had been loathe to merely write his power on his application, much less prove he had it in front of a panel of people as they had requested (felt embarrassingly like one of those con-artist magicians in the subway stations, "is this your card" and all); however, it got him room and board and tuition all free which was the whole point of this endeavor anyway (even if the panel couldn't seem to decide whether he was a 'Gifted' mind-reader or just a 'Talented' magician/cold-reader/bullshitter), so here he was.

He spent Sunday moving into his dorm room, which didn't take too long considering the only stuff he really owned was three cardboard boxes containing books, pants and underwear, and a shitton of hoodies, respectively--not counting the clothes on his back and shoes on his feet at that moment. He was extremely unhappy with the fact that he had a roommate for various reasons, but luckily he didn't see the guy at all that day and come nighttime their introductions were blessedly short before they headed to bed. Real impressions would wait for the morning.

Or they would've had Colin been around when Lucas woke up on Monday around 10am. He supposed Colin was off to see his half-sister, who had been on his thoughts a lot in the little time Lucas and he had interacted.

His stomach growled and he thought about breakfast, "which is free for me," he reminded himself in amazement. He headed over to the dining hall to grab himself a meal (pancakes, eggs, and a variety of meat-things).

As he ate he became aware of a certain topic on the students' minds and in their conversations: a bonfire dance party that night. His initial reaction was "hell if I'm going to that" but he reminded himself that this was a different school, with different people, and maybe that meant things wouldn't be so bad; maybe he'd even find a friend (he ignored the mental scoff he made at that thought). As long as he didn't fuck things up like the last time he went to a party and tried to fit in. And the time before that. And the time b...he'd have to think about this more.

He went back to the dorm room. Since the dorm floor had mostly cleared out by this point so there weren't many outside thoughts to distract him, he took the opportunity to go back to sleep.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Daniel Ahn Character Portrait: Holden Cunningham Character Portrait: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Rebecca Sayre Character Portrait: Christine Garner Character Portrait: Anna-Marie Beckett Character Portrait: Sterling Walker Character Portrait: Lane Blackwell Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Anthony Carraway Character Portrait: Mimi Arquette Character Portrait: Guadalupe Solorzano-Cifuentes Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Keevan Brennan Character Portrait: Colin Dartonay Character Portrait: Kai Rainwalker Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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The grin when he catches her trip up is infuriating because she herself had realized it entirely too late. At least she had the excuse of complete intoxication- his part in the affair she is convinced was motivated by general assholery .

"Man, I feel like man candy." Erin's eyebrows shoot up at the comment. He is every bit the same as he had been before leaving. The fact that he can go so unscathed by everything, at least to her eyes, is the sharpest of the pains. He floats above the difficulties of the mere mortals, it seems, sometimes literally. Erin has friends among the powerful, cherished friends, but people like Sterling, so cocky on top with their abilities, acting as if they are gods descended to earth, bother the girl. She may be confident, stubborn, impulsive, and careless at times, but at least she doesn't look down on people. Even in the case of Sterling, the wretch, she sees him eye to eye. She doubts this is mutual.

There is no time for a response before the sound of splashing interrupts Erin's less than sunny trail of thought. There is a flicker of something strained in Sterling's normally calm expression. Naturally, Erin's first thought goes to the queen of the school. She whips her head around, body tense, only to find that it is Lane who is running up to her. What little relief this gives her is tossed aside by a closer look at the state of her best friend.

"Erin. . .Nina ruined everything. . .my entire notepad. . ." Instantly Sterling is forgotten. Erin moves forward and shelters Lane in a hug. Before, Erin was somewhat irritated, somewhat bothered. Now, she is angry. This day has gotten off to a less than fantastic start, and Erin is less than pleased about it. She turns to glare at Sterling, newly recalled, but he is already leaving them. Good. Go face your damn creation, Victor, Erin returns her attention to the crumpled and hurting Lane.

"Fuck Nina. Come on, Lane. I feel like eating popcorn and watching a movie. Wanna waste the day with me?" She smiles, mostly genuinely, down at Lane. At least this, Sterling had not taken from her.

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Briefly, Daniel is distracted from Nina's situation by someone who he has always despised: Colin. Most everyone knows that Daniel had been the best friend to his brother, and that he was probably the person that Daniel had been the closest to throughout his entire life. It was also a well known fact that Colin is not in Daniel's good graces. Many people assume it is just the fickle nature of his opinions, not realizing how incredibly possessive and jealous the young man becomes over those few who he befriends. Jealous enough to hate the brother of his best friend for having that privilege of brotherhood.

It is the face beside Colin, however, that hits him like a brick. Sam? even his internal voice is winded. Colin's brother may have been Julian to most everyone else, but Daniel knew him as Sam. And a face mirroring his sits at that table. In a few seconds he regroups, realizing that it can't be Sam, and it is more feminine besides. Still, it is only with the entrance of Sterling that Daniel fully returns to the situation at hand.

Automatically he moves closer to Nina, protective. His expression is little more than dark ice, coolly observing Sterling. Throughout the beginning of the exchange he is silent, calm. When Nina moves toward him, he instinctively presses back, his eyes never leaving Sterling. This is two parts a game: make Sterling feel pain such that he will never try to take Nina away, and genuine protective instinct towards one of those few whom he trusts.

He stands taller, looming like the grim reaper, death itself with fine bone structure and black eyes, as Sterling gives his final attack. Who can fall when darkness itself seems to side with them? So it may seem to the student body, unaware that anything but ice dwells behind Daniel's gaze. Sterling looks at him, warningly. Daniel merely smirks, as if confident it could never happen. He is useful, valuable, and more than anything, willing to sink far lower to keep his friends with him.

"I do believe I've lost my appetite."

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While the gods spit acid at one another, the rest can only watch and hope that none of it trickles down into their eyes. They look away when appropriate but are always watching. People never really stop watching. And among those people, sits one young man looking positively awestruck. But his eyes glisten in a way that is just a bit strange, fitting in with a few other who have the same enraptured expression. There's is not the intrigue of watching, but rather the excitement of telling, of showing.

two hours later

The Breadbowl
The Summer will apparently carry on as it usually does- much more interestingly than the fall semester. Many have left but the power players, the screwed up, and the hopelessly confused remain in play. A beautiful beginning, titan vs. titan as the well known Miss Romanov faced Mr Walker in a confrontation that, to be honest, came as something of a relief to some of us. Better the time bomb go off than hold us in suspense forever.

Romanov held her own, with of course the support of her loyal "are-they-or-aren't-they" dog. I'm sure they'll be perfectly happy together in the future. Walker, on the other hand, stormed out. Both are rising seniors, so we only have so long to watch as this plays out. Of course the big question is, are molecules a match for money?

Speaking of matches, for the rest of us mere mortals the bonfire is tonight- I'm really more interested in seeing who dances with whom than dancing with someone myself. No doubt, I'll be there watching for you rascals to sneak off. I seem to remember that Romanov and Walker used to haunt the dance together. This is the first one since he's returned, and you know neither will be sitting out on round two of worldstar Orion. Let's set the tone to a dramatic summer, shall we?

xoxo,
The Breadbowl Staff




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Every year on the day before Summer classes begin, a bonfire is held. Now, thanks to a pyrokinetic staff member the bonfire is able to be massive, without much risk of it toppling over and harming students (usually). It is held a little ways off from the dorms on the beach by the lake, and the main bonfire is often surrounded by smaller firepits with different food options at each one. There is always, without exception, some form of alcohol and some form of drugs available, and the teachers tend to turn a blind eye to it. After all, many of the students have families too powerful to persecute them, and the school grants a good amount of freedom besides.

Music is played throughout the night, sometime alternating between speakers and student run bands if they request to perform. Dancing around the bonfire is common, and usually the bonfire is kicked off by a partner dance that by now all of the Yearlies have learned, even if they don't ask or get asked to dance. There has been drama started over the dance before, but it really just depends on how seriously one takes it- often times friends will dance together, after all. But everyone looks forward to Breadbowl posts afterwards about which dances meant something, who made what mistake, who snuck away with whom, etc. Nothing is kept secret for long at Orion.

It is already dark out, with a full moon above and bright stars, the nearest city being too far away to outshine the night sky. Later on fireworks will be set off, and sparklers are resting all over the place for the amusement of students.

It is now about ten or so minutes before the bonfire "officially" kicks off with the first dance, but most students have already arrived and are sitting about the fires. Predictably, some are already stumbling over their own tongues thanks to the weight alcohol puts on them. Thus, the best and brightest of their age group prove themselves to still be young after all.

"Let's set the tone to a dramatic summer, shall we?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anthony Carraway Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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Aimee noticed by Anthony's sudden withdrawal that she had struck a nerve, which she should have known she would but instead she just plowed on with the question about his art. He kept looking at his feet and she instantly felt bad for asking him about it, knowing that he was insecure on the subject. "Hey, sorry kid, I didn't mean to cause anything. You know I love your stuff," she said fondly. Carr was very much like a younger brother to her, she loved him dearly, and she hated it when he got down.

As they approached the cafeteria, Aimee stiffened slightly as Lane ran out. "I wonder what happened...?" Aimee asked absently. While her and Lane weren't exactly on speaking terms, it was always difficult for her to see someone in trouble, especially someone with whom she'd shared such an intimacy with. Regardless of her and Lane's past, she really did hope that she was okay.

Changing the subject, she smiled at Anthony. "Well, let's fix that, shall we? Give you some inspiration? Come to the bonfire with me! It'll be fun!" She said, uncharacteristically exuberant. Not to say that she was usually morose, she just didn't exclaim all too often. It was more sarcasm and witty jokes with her. When she was excited, though, you could easily tell.

--bonfire time--

Aimee pulled Anthony by the arm with a laugh. They had hung out together all day, helping each other move the last of their things. It'd been a nice way to pass the time until tonight. The ominous bonfire. Aimee was incredibly excited, it meant a chance for her to let loose and finally have some fun. She'd been so bogged down lately with finishing school and dealing with her family drama that she hadn't had a chance to relax in quite awhile. She was desperate enough that she didn't even care if the alcohol numbed her mental wall. So what if she found out a few dark secrets about her classmates? It wasn't like she would remember them in the morning anyway. "Oh, come on, Anthony, speed up a little!" she laughed, still dragging him to where all of their classmates sat around the huge bonfire, drinks in their hands. She came to a sudden stop with a cheerful smile. "This, my friend, is the peak of your teenage years," she announced, making her way over to the drink table.

Pouring some beer, she gave a cup to Anthony. "You don't have to drink it if you don't want to, but I highly suggest you do. It'll make tonight go a whole lot easier on you," she said, downing hers easily. She was one of those people that got buzzed pretty fast without getting drunk, so she was pleased to feel it coming on steadily as she poured a second glass. Looking around at who was here, she saw a bunch of familiar faces, including that of Lucas Long, who was making his way over to the drink table as well. She pulled Anthony to the side so they wouldn't get in his way, and faced him so her back was to the table.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anthony Carraway Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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#, as written by piearty
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Lucas woke up around 5 pm feeling refreshed and happy in a way he hadn't felt in a long time. He got...what...7 hours of sleep last night and today combined? Hell, that was almost a normal amount of time! He couldn't remember the last time he slept more than 4. His mouth quirked into a vaguely confused smile (because rarely, if ever, were his smiles not unsure-looking) and he headed out to get a quick bite before the bonfire.

In the dining hall, there was a tenseness in the air, and on people's minds. He couldn't quite piece together what it was, because the event that people were thinking about seemed to have happened hours ago and they weren't thinking of it explicitly, but there was a subtle undercurrent of fear of some--he couldn't get a name--some princess in the school. Damn, there's royalty living here...? He decided it was probably euphemistic, because why would actual royalty be staying at a freaking high school over the summer, no matter how fancy the school? Despite that, he did wonder why people seemed to think of this person as a literal princess. Good old high school drama, I suppose...never get tired of that, he thought derisively.

Ugh, this bonfire..., he thought as he walked around campus, hearing the topic on most people's minds, will probably be full of that crap. Part of him insisted he'd be better off lying in his dorm room and avoiding the whole thing. Still, it'd be a chance to meet new people. Maybe fit in--ok, maybe not be so excluded. And if I just lay low, don't make any waves, don't drink, do not try to dance, (he remembered last time and shivered) everything should be a-ok...

-----Bonfire-----

When Lucas arrived at the bonfire-- fairly early because he had nothing else to do-- things were relatively calm. There was a thumping bass that he could feel in his bones and hear, distorted, through people's ears; otherwise there weren't many people dancing and more importantly, not much drama. He looked around and supposed the 'princess' had not arrived yet.

The acrid smell of smoke was sort of pleasant, but it still scratched his throat a bit so he headed over to the drinks table. Some girl, Aimee,--who was, wow, already buzzed, moved aside for him. As he looked over the drinks, his mouth twisted into a frown. They never have anything but alcohol at these damn parties. Isn't this a high school?! He grumbled and took a cup of just ice to bring back to the log he had been sitting at.

And then he tripped.

What he tripped on he couldn't be damned to say, and a more accurate description would've been that his legs just gave out on him as the body of a severely sleep-deprived person is wont to do, just buckled suddenly under the burden of fatigue, but he wasn't thinking of that at the moment. He wasn't really thinking of anything other than shit, not again,. His hand shot out in the darkness and instinctively grabbed the closest thing to him, which unfortunately was the buzzed girl's arm, and the momentum wrenched them both downwards until they hit the ground, him with a face full of dirt and her crumpled on top of him.

Shit. Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit "Shit, I'm so sorry," he said, scrambling back to a sitting position. His face burned with shame. Shit. Fuck. Fuck! "I'm sorry, I-I just, I don't know what happened..."

You fucked up, that's what happened,
his inner voice helpfully explained. Every time you do something, you fuck up. Good job, Lucas. He squeezed his eyes shut to push down the tears pricking at his eyes, which he told himself were from the smoke, from the pain of the fall, and shook his head to try and silence the malicious voice in his head that was whispering, Good job. Good fucking job. He also tried to ignore the growing voices, outside thoughts, that were turning toward him, stares that were turning toward the scene. None of these things was especially working.

He hastily stood back up again, glancing alternately down at the girl and up at the guy she was talking to, who was, fuck, now splashed with the remains of her drink.

"Shit, I'm sorry, I'm so, so sorry... he mumbled, and stuck out his hand to try and help up the girl.
So much for making friends, right?

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Holden Cunningham Character Portrait: Rebecca Sayre Character Portrait: Anthony Carraway Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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#, as written by Saerith
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Right now, this didn't seem like such a good idea anymore. Amonst the young boys and girls dancing and drinking, Anthony tripped on his own feet trying to keep up with Aimee while still uncertain he actually wanted to. He felt sweat running down the back of his neck and a chill up and down his body, and when Aimee asked him to rush, his only wish was to turn around and run like there was no tomorrow. Although her touch, reassuring him that he was not alone, did make things a little easier on him, his earlier excitement was now replace with a anxiety that boarded fear. "Aimee, slow down! I... Would you- Maybe we should just- Not good..." Carr mumbled under his breath, random words that were almost whispered and made no sense at all.

Staring at the night sky as he let Aimee guide him to the drinks table, he thought about this so called peak of his teenage years. Really, Erin and Aimee were everything he had, and he loved them deeply, but of he was being honest this wasn't exactly the dream of every teenage boy, or the young age epic adventure most people looked forward to. They couldn't be with him all of the time, and he couldn't blame them? Honestly, he pretty much just always wanted to stay in, hut in no way wanted to drag them down. So, as of right now, there was no way he could possibly say anything that would erase the wonderful smile Aimee had put on. Instead, he tried to swallow his discomfort and held the cup that was offered to him. He stared at it for a seconds, then drank the entire thing, making a strange face at Aimee and lifting his empty cup in the air. "To our peak!"

He turned his head once more to the stars in the dark night sky and, before he could understand or even notice what was going on, his shirt was soaking wet and Aimee was on the ground. After alternating between eyeing Lucas in surprise while he apologized and muttering some unintelligible apologies himself, he finally held Aimee's other hand to help lift her up. Then, as Lucas kept apologizing profusely, he took it upon himself to poor Aimee another drink, since her previous one was now splattered across his shirt, and one to himself as well. Maybe she was right, and this would make the night a lot easier. Even now, he found himself smiling slightly.





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As Becky approached the area where people started gathering for the bonfire, she could see the heads turning to face her, feel the not so discrete looks. This wasn't an unfamiliar feeling, actually, she was very accustomed to all this attention, she craved it. These were looks of all kinds. Lust, envy, awe. Anger. Fear. The various gazes ran up and down her bare legs, travelled along her golden waves of bright hair, some even dare explore her blue, piercing eyes. But she knew most of them looked to ask the same question. Rebecca Sayre is here. Then where's Nina? Becky had been to her room earlier that day, but wasn't able to find her there, so she had left a small note, written in her delicate calligraphy.

I saw it in the Breadbowl. Hope you're alright, honey. See you at the fire tonight.

She walked up to the table were the drinks were placed as soon as she came to poor herself some beer. It wasn't very cold - or expensive, she could tell by the flat taste - but it would have to do. A few Influentials approached her to ask where she had been all afternoon, but she quickly invented some excuse, not showing a lot of interest for what they had to say. She was too busy discretely searching around with her eyes, hoping to see Keevan. Truth is, she hadn't got anything for him, but something told her tonight had a little special present for them both. What would they say, she wondered, if they knew he was the one she was looking for? The thought amused her. Unfortunately the only person she could find was Trish, one of the younger influentials, handing over a glass of whatever to Tyler Cunningham. She winked at him, and Becky's eyes seemed to send her a dangerous warning. She approached both as Trish left, making sure the pair could hear her.

"Trish, darling, please don't be so desperate. Can't you see this young lad isn't interested? Let him be." she said quite amiably, not even turning to see the other girl's expression as she left. Then, she stared at Holden blankly with a odd smile on her face, taking large sips of her beer, with apparently no intention of saying one more word.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anthony Carraway Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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Aimee laughed as Anthony downed his cup also and raised it in the air. "To our peak!" She said. She finished off her second drink and was just about to pour another when suddenly Lucas--the guy who had moved in behind her--stumbled and fell into her, causing her drink to splash on both her shirt and Anthony's. She cursed, shit goddammit this is a new shirt... before suddenly trailing off as she realized that with Lucas's hand on her arm she was getting in a wave of information. It was like being electrified with thoughts coursing through her rapidly. She saw little Lucas in fifth grade, on the outskirts of everyone, followed by an older Lucas in what looked to be ninth grade getting yelled at by a woman; probably his mother. All of these events that she was getting were circled around one key fact: Lucas could read minds. You can read my mind! She exclaimed in her thoughts.

A couple more images flooded her, causing her to stumble more into Anthony. He had grabbed her hand and tried to lift her up but she had been so preoccupied with Lucas that she hadn't taken it when she should have. Now, she could feel a steady headache coming on from using too much of her power at once and the only thing supporting her was her arm on Anthony's. The Lucas revelation was interesting, she had never met someone with an ability so similar to her own. She knew that since he could read her thoughts, he would be able to tell that she knew what he could do. If she were in his shoes, she'd be a little freaked. "We should go sit...over there," she said to Anthony, "I have a headache and things just got weird."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anthony Carraway Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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#, as written by piearty
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When Lucas had fallen, he'd gotten some sort of weird flash of images from his past, but among his embarrassment and the dozens of other minds around him and the whole falling-to-the-ground thing, he'd barely noticed.

As he got up and apologized to the guy, Anthony, who had beer splashed all over him, Lucas was gauging the guy's reaction to the whole thing. But, far from mad, Anthony was...amused? ???

He was trying to parse this reaction when a voice exclaimed, "You can read my mind!"

"Wh--" he started to say, but he realized that Aimee hadn't said it, she'd thought it. And what's more, she thought it at him, 'you'; she knew that not only was he able to read her mind, he was reading it right this second.

How did she know that?! He turned to look at her, eyes wide. "I've never met someone with an ability so similar to my own," she had thought. Could she hear him too? How did you know that?! But she had already turned and gone, hooked her arm in Anthony's and walked away, muttering about a headache.

Not wanting to awkwardly stand at the drinks table for forever, he grabbed another cup of ice and walked to a seat as far away from Aimee and Anthony as possible. He stuck an ice cube in his mouth and sucked on it thoughtfully. Obviously she had some sort of power as well, but what was it? It didn't seem to be the same as his or she would've just said so, along with various other reasons. She'd only seemed to realize after they fell--why? Was there something special about falling? Maybe it was the contact--then he remembered the flash of images from before. He hadn't been thinking about it; she'd been! And they happened immediately after he grabbed her arm.

So some sort of reading minds...ish...thing that happens whenever she touches someone. That was similar to his powers. A large part of him was shaken and scared that someone knew about him and his powers, and, apparently, judging by the images, most of his history. He felt like a wall of his had been shattered without his permission. Is that what people whose minds I read would feel like if they knew? Well that's why they shouldn't know!

What if she tells everyone, he thought with dread. If people knew exactly what his power was it could be, and probably would be, disastrous. No one would trust him, or want to hang out with him. He'd be a freak again. An outcast. He had to confront her, make her swear not to tell--he peered over at where she and Anthony were sitting--alone.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rebecca Sayre Character Portrait: Christine Garner Character Portrait: Sterling Walker Character Portrait: Lane Blackwell Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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#, as written by Layla
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      XXX

      XXXA week of detentions and of packing up exercise mats left sprawled across the gym after hours. They are the most lenient punishments Sterling has ever received for something reckless that he's done and there have certainly been many. Perhaps the teachers could sympathise with his frustration towards the Russian princess. Nina Romanov is nothing if not despised, by students and teachers alike.
      XXXAfter a brief shelling from Laurel Academy's esteemed principal about the imprudence of using one's powers so openly, especially one that risked the damage of school property, Sterling was set free. Thus he found himself wandering to the yearly bonfire later in the night.
      XXXFire licks the sky, higher than should be safe, but Sterling spots in the shadows the Pyro twisting his arms, body swaying as if engaged in a dance with the very flames that rise above him.
      XXXThe sharp, sour smell of alcohol devours the fresh scent of pine surrounding them, mingling with the salty tang of sweaty bodies. The first dance has yet to begin, but people mingle, raising red solo cups to parched lips, parched tongues ready to taste another.
      XXXNina's stunning blonde sidekick lounges by the fire, legs laid bare for viewing pleasure. Adoring eyes follow every flick of her golden locks, swooning and bulging when she casts bright blue eyes in their direction. Other Elites are scattered across the pools of students like Barons controlling their regions, but their Queen is nowhere to be seen. Neither is her Knight and Advisor, Sterling notices with a spark of glee.
      XXXA familiar body stands at the fringes, dark hair pulled into a pony tail that tumbles over her shoulders. Her dark eyes watch the crowd, searching, wanting. Sterling moves towards her, silent as the shadows that flicker beyond the growing fire. He touches the small of her back, dwarfing her with his height. He ducks his head until his lips graze her ear.
      XXX"Christine," he breathes. "Always a pleasure to see you, love."


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      XXX

      XXXThe freshman handed Nina Lane's corpses, eagerness and terror threatening to overflow from her eyes. Nina gives her a tight smile she returns tenfold before scurrying away, excited to gain the Queen's favour - or so she thinks - but too afraid to test her luck. Smart girl.
      XXXThe sheets are damp and the ink smears across her fingertips. Nina had left Daniel with a sandwich, telling him appetite lost or not, he should enjoy it. Because she'd spread the peanut butter and raspberry jam herself, and Nina Romanov did not make sandwiches for just anyone.
      XXXThere is another note waiting for her when Nina returns to her room. Anna is nowhere to be seen.
      XXX"I saw it in the Breadbowl. Hope you're alright, honey. See you at the fire tonight."
      XXXNina recognises the elaborate cursive handwriting in an instant. Weariness winds its way through her tired bones as she reads the message again, examining it for any hints of a threat or Rebecca's frame of mind. Though they are part of the same Elite circle, Nina is careful to keep one eye open at all times around Rebecca. Though she seems to most superficial and perhaps even dumb, Nina knows her to be only one of those. Becky enjoys the material things, but she can most certainly be ambitious and cunning when it suits her.
      XXXBecky, too, is pleasant to the eyes, but more importantly, she is, well, less of a bitch. Nina has to hold her crown with both hands and make sure the only time Becky comes anywhere near it is when she's polishing it.
      XXXNina tucks the note in her drawer and leaves the room. She wanders through the gardens surrounding the main building until she finds a secluded space between the forage, where no one - especially not the Breadbowl Canaries - will find her. She thumbs through the ruined sheets of music, catching snippets of indestructible music she cannot help but jot down on the back of a page that avoiding much of the water's wrath.
      XXXShe is numb as she does so, hands moving in her perfect scrawl - neat enough to be a printed font, so they say - over the page. Her mind does not quite process what she reads. Only her envy does, her wish that she could be something other than rich, pretty Nina. Rich, pretty, useless Nina. Lane is remarkably talented and she possesses more mercy in her pinky than Nina could ever hope to have in her entire body. But for all her faults, Nina has never been capable of lying to herself. So she admits in the privacy of her own mind that yes, Lane is better than me, and yes, Nina Romanov is jealous of a poor girl.
      XXXA string of legible writing spears through the ice that encases Nina's being and she pauses. She reads it a second time, and then a third, fourth, fifth. Her eyes wander back and forth, up and down as she traces every curve of every letter again and again.

      XXX"Why'd you let us go,
      XXXwhy'd you let us slip away?
      XXXI miss you and I think about you
      XXXEvery single day.

      XXXWhat did I miss?
      XXXWhen did sorrow turn to hate?"


      XXXThe rest of the song is a blot of illegible words. Nina folds the page into a tight square and tucks it into the pocket of her blouse. Just beside her bleeding heart.

      XXXHer chest pulses in time with the music. Colours trip over one another in a whirlwind of depth and movement. Smoke wafts from between her lips in perfect circles. The people around her cheer and clap, staring at her with bloodshot eyes. Nina laughs, tossing her head back as they enter mass gathered around the bonfire. People part to make way for the Queen, whispers slipping from mouths to ears, words twisting into gossip that'll bleed into Breadbowl before the night is done.
      XXXThe people that followed her to the bonfire are not Elites, but Influentials and even the occasional Talented or Powerful with penchants of "living life on the edge," to put lightly. They waver like fallen leaves, their movements out of sync with the music. But not Nina's. Even inebriated, stoned and God knows what else, she knows how to keep the tempo and to command a certain air of respect. She moves like a pendulum on a golden leash, enchanting and haunting the people around her.
      XXXWide, pale blue eyes like shattered glass search for Daniel reflexively. Finding him absent, those bloodshot orbs search for someone else instead. They land on slim fingers running through a stream of blonde hair. Nina walks towards her, hips swaying underneath a blood red dress. She kneels behind the slim blonde, placing her hands on Becky's shoulders and grazing her lips across them.
      XXX"Dance with me," she breathes.
      XXXNina pulls her up, nearly tripping over her own two feet. She giggles, righting herself, tugging Rebecca towards her. Many students around them howl with lust and excitement, eager to witness some girl-on-girl action, whilst some jeer, muttering insults under their breaths.
      XXXNina seems oblivious to them, or perhaps she does not care. She turns with Becky's hands in her own, hair fanning around her as she quirks her full lips into a devastating smile.
      XXX"You're beautiful," she tells Rebecca. "Enchanting. Mesmerising. Smoking hot. Ten out of -"
      XXXThe words fizzle and collapse as an arms slips around Nina's waist, jerking her backwards into a hard chest. Cameron Hillcock kisses Nina's neck. She pulls away but he pulls her back. She freezes. Stays still.
      XXXHer mind screams.
      XXXCallused hands. Hot breath against my neck. Shoe pressing into back. Pain. No sound. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5... 26 stars in the sky. Don't think about what's happening, just go. Let go. Don't hold on to this body. Not my body. Not mine. Not me.
      XXXI can't breathe. I can't breathe.
      XXXNina shoves against his chest and Cameron stumbles back in surprise. He didn't expect her to say no. The shock fades and his mouth twists into a grin.
      XXX"Come on, Nina," he says. "Everyone knows you'll give it up in the end."
      XXXBreathe. Stay still. Don't be scared. Don't let them know you're scared.
      XXXNina raises a brow. Swallows. Her nails bite into her skin. Her eyes swim, but she blames that on the drugs.
      XXX"After last time?" she lies. Nina rolls her eyes. "Tiny Cammy couldn't even please me. I'd rather give it up to a Triple A battery, at least that'll last longer than you."
      XXXLaughs burst from the people around them. Cameron flushes a bright red.
      XXX"You little -" Cameron starts, grabbing Nina's wrist and wrenching her forward.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Daniel Ahn Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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#, as written by piearty
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Lucas was sitting and fretting over the matter of confronting Aimee about his secret when a wave of reverence and fear seemed to run through the crowd, and thus his mind. "The princess is here," some thought with excitement. Others referred to her as a Queen. Or a means to power, a beauty goddess, a snake poised to strike. Finally he caught a name, Nina. Through others' eyes it was plain to see she was beautiful, but given people's tendencies to distort things in their heads, he felt the need to see her for himself.

She was stunning, in more than one sense of the word. Confusing too--her eyes, her actions, they gave off an aura of cold calculation, of elitism, and almost, almost of some kind of evil (and clearly many, many people in the crowd had no trouble thinking of her in such a way). But her thoughts were...well, a fragmented mess, some part of her delighting in the glory, the attention, the fear; some part of her hating it; other parts wanting to scream, to cry, to dance, to laugh. Lucas bit his tongue sharply so as to retreat from her mind; the pain brought him, as much as it could, back to the bonfire and the night rather than other people's heads. He'd encountered minds like hers before. In his experience, the best thing was to stay far, far, far away from people like that, though he couldn't articulate why.

The crowd had been getting more intoxicated and stoned and beyond as the night wore on, and Lucas began to sway with nausea. Wonderful, I forgot about this. Yet another reason why he didn't like going to parties at all. This has been a failure of a night. I spilled a drink on a guy, made a girl find out my secret, made exactly 0 friends and had exactly no fun. He looked around at the hooting and hollering crowd, brow furrowed. I think it's time to leave.

At that moment, alarum bells went off in his head, making him flinch. He turned back to the congregation to see a boy, Daniel, knight to the princess, beating the shit out of another, Cameron. Daniel's thoughts were the cold instinct of a predator, wordless, ruthless, and Lucas made a mental note to avoid him too. Cameron's were similarly wordless but of quite an opposite nature. ??? What? I look away for 5 seconds and this happens?!

To the side, Nina was silently staring at--well it couldn't precisely be called a fight--at the beatdown, surprise in her eyes quickly being replaced by a creeping, icy glare. Her thoughts were tumultous but there was a darkness that Lucas caught in them that seemed all too familiar. A chill went down his spine.

Cameron's thoughts were weakening as his grip on consciousness did and a miniscule voice in Lucas' head shouted, Do something! And before he had time to second guess this, to refuse, his mouth opened and to Daniel, whose thoughts ran in 한국어, he shouted hoarsely, "그만해!"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Daniel Ahn Character Portrait: Rebecca Sayre Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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#, as written by Layla
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      XXX
      XXX
      XXXCameron's fingers dug into her wrist, freeing the panic she kept tightly caged in the pit of her stomach. She shut her eyes to veil the vicious quirk playing on Cameron's lips, the people who watched and stared and did absolutely nothing, but more than that, to keep the terror threatening to overflow from her tear ducts at bay. Suddenly, the pressure of Cameron's hands was gone and she opened her eyes to the sound of bone crunching.
      XXXShock paralysed her. Daniel rammed a fist into Cameron's jaw, his eyes, again and again and again. Something twisted inside Nina, a bitterness that relished the sound of Cameron's groans and Daniel's fist colliding with his cheek. It was horrible, cruel, just another tally in Nina's reign of terror.
      XXX”Fucking asshole. Look at how pathetic he is. Gosh, so gross." Becky's voice nudged her attention but Nina could not look away from the scene unfolding before her. Nina pressed her lips firmly together to hide the tremble on her bottom lip. Becky had no idea. Becky who was beautiful, perfect and loved, Becky whom nearly everybody would sooner bow to than her, she would never know what it was like to be gross. To be Nina.
      XXXDisgusting, something in her hissed. Dirty. Used.
      XXXBecky's smile at the corner of Nina's eye proved her theory right. Becky didn't care. Nina didn't know why it hurt for her belief to be confirmed. None of the Elites truly cared. Until now, she hadn't believed Daniel did either. But why would he risk it? Why ruin his reputation as the collected gentleman or risk the wrath of the academy to strike against Cameron? Doing so would help him in no manner, shape or form. But it helped her. He helped her. Why?
      XXXThe bark of a foreign language - Daniel's language, she recognised - and the sudden appearance of someone Nina did not know jarred her from the thoughts jostling like nails and needles in her mind. Cameron laid on the ground, the arms he held in front of his face to shield Daniel's blows now limp at his sides. He was quiet now, his protests still.
      XXXNina took a step forward and knelt beside Cameron's body. She reached out an arm to block Daniel's next blow. He froze before he hit her, his body locked tight, coiled like a magnet that was pulled by the urge to collide his fist with Cameron's jaw. Nina curled her fingers gently around Daniel's fist and for a brief pause, noted that Daniel's hands were bigger than she'd thought before. They dwarfed hers in comparison. She'd always marvelled at the elegance of his fingers - long and slender, they were the envy of all pianists - but she hadn't known those hands were capable of brute force. He'd always been so covert. But she noticed then a ferocity in his gaze that veered from his usual calm demeanour. The muscles he gained from his daily runs were prominent, and they were capable of great strength. Terrifying strength.
      XXX"Enough," she whispered.
      XXXSlowly, gently, she pried his bloody fist open, running her fingers along the edge of them so she didn't aggravate his wounds. Then she bowed her head, and placed a soft kiss on his hand. Thank you, the gesture seemed to say, but that would be incomprehensible. The Queen thanked no one. Leaning back, Nina pressed a palm to her Second's and locked their fingers together. She pulled him up.
      XXXA wry smile formed on her lips as she stared down at Cameron's moaning form, her heart still hammering in her chest. She clutched Daniel's hand to hide how hers were shaking.
      XXX"That's enough for today, class," she said with a brow, lifted with what appeared to be amusement. "Hope you learned your lesson, Hillcock."
      XXXShe turned to the boy who'd interrupted in Korean, her eyes flaming with amusement. Her body moved as if on autopilot, the words as if she were an actress reading from a script. A Grammy-award winning actress. She felt no amusement, no humour, nothing except the incessant mess of regret and fear. But this time, there was gratitude, and something else she could not name. She stared at the unknown figure with accessing eyes.
      XXX"Brave," she offered. "But ultimately unnecessary. It'll take more than a few punches to bring this guy down. His over-inflated sense of self-worth ensures his head remains afloat at all times."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Daniel Ahn Character Portrait: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Lane Blackwell Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Anthony Carraway Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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His fist connects against skin, Cameron incapable of putting up a decent fight for very long at all. When the man before him finally gives up on defense, allowing his arms to hang limp and his face to be used as an object, a punching bag. Any reasonable person would have stopped at that point, seeing that there was no struggle. Daniel is normally a very reasonable man, cold and rational, but this does not appear to be the normal Daniel. This is the Hyde to his Jekyl, the blurred vision and red hot feeling that he normally is able to smother until not even embers remain. Perhaps Sam had been the only one to ever know how incredibly deeply Daniel is capable of feeling. His emotions are so repressed that then why are finally released, it is the starved lion let out of it's cage, desperate and unrestrained. It is perhaps for the best that he plans never to fall in love, for the depth of such an emotion would likely rip him out from the inside until he is reduced to a terribly jealous, overbearing person who covets and monopolizes all time and attention. He may be tall, sleek, and elegant, but Daniel is in this way very much a desperate child.

A desperate child in the body of a young man with strong hands and fast reflexes is a dangerous thing indeed. People around him whisper, half frightened half amused, but Daniel is incapable of processing it. At this moment, he is not thinking in words, but in actions and movements. This classmate of his had crossed a dangerous line in threatening one of the few people Daniel cared for. It is a sin the young man cannot forgive. So he attempts to tear the feeling of Nina's skin out of Cameron's mouth, blacken his eyes until they cannot look so hungrily at his Queen. No one should be allowed to so much as eat scraps from her table without her say so, let alone mentally consume the girl herself. It is disgusting. Filthy.

The movement of emotion returns him back to the violence, forgetting briefly his waiting for Nina's words. Strangely enough, it is not her voice which pauses him next. No, rather than the tinted-glass tones of Nina's public voice, it is someone from the crowd. The voice is male, shouted in such a way which seems to convey someone accustomed to far lower volumes. This alone is interesting, though Daniel is only barely beginning to process more complex aspects to the people around him once more. Instead, the stand out is something which hits him with a slight delay. The words were spoken in Korean, his native tongue, standing out among the English he has become accustomed to. His head tilts up slightly, allowing his eyes to search the crowd for the voice. In this brief passage of time, Nina puts her hand around his still curled fist, putting a more definite end to the display.

Her hands are warm, unexpectedly. Usually they are cooler, though it is perhaps a mix of the flame near them and the situation which causes this. Her lips brush past his forehead, a familiar meeting of skin, and he understands the message better than anyone else here might. There is a strange sort of expression across his face, irritation at his own lack of control, contentment that Nina is alright. He needs only to breathe, and then relaxes, returning to his feet with Nina's hand firmly grasped in his own, fingers intertwined as he breathes and regains his flawless composure. Her hand is shaking in his, prompting him to tighten his grip.

The Queen needs to be steel before all else, but a knight can provide some support. It is a role which he takes great pride in, above all but the Royal herself. It is in this more normalized state that he is finally brought to meet eyes with the young man who had shouted to him in Korean- an introvert based on appearance. Nina speaks, while Daniel merely surveys the unfamiliar face. Behind them, the fireworks shoot into the air and explode, crackling brightly against the night sky. The crowd disperses to take part in the tradition, some finding partners while others go off to sit in groups or alone. Daniel glances sideways at Nina- the Queen must attend such ceremonies, after all. The center spot will likely be left for us- her, all the same, he muses, correcting his mistake. The spot is there for the head of the school, he just happens to be her companion- it could be any one of her choosing, after all. No one her is worthy, of course- not even myself.


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Erin hesitates briefly over the pause before Lane's response that she is perfectly free, but quickly dismisses it as her imagination. Little signs such as that may come across as blaring warning sign of something wrong to other people, but Erin is too quick to overlook them. This is perhaps because she herself is so inclined towards honesty, and is so blatant in her facial expressions, that she assumes others will be as well if they have something they want to tell her. Thus Erin is never the person to first discover secrets unless they are told to her- often she gets her information third hand, when it is known to most people and already slightly warped. It is a very good thing she does not hold a position requiring political skill, for she has zero.

Normally Lane tells her everything, making her all the more unsuspecting that her best friend is harboring any secrets or intense crushes that Erin doesn't know about. Why worry over something of that sort where there has been no precedent? Thus she grins and joins the linking of arms, not realizing that in reserving her friend as a dance party she is making all the more unlikely a much desired pairing. So much for a modern day cupid.

Another long drink of her twisted lemonade, and Erin looks over at Lane. The suggestion that they leave the situation and go to Carr and Aimee is incredibly reasonable. Still, as they walk over she can't help peeking back for glimpses of Nina's hair between people, of Daniel's hand in hers. Feeling sick, thanks in no part to the drink, Erin ducks her head slightly and follows with more focus. When they reach the pairing, she is smiling once more, recovered from the wave of discomfort. It is in no small part thanks to seeing Carr, whom she hasn't seen since the previous evening. And based on the smell and his loud whispering, the young man had been drinking. She grins and gives him a quick hug in greeting."Carr, my love. A fight, I guess? I don't know, not my business I guess," her expression gives away this untruth, her curiosity betraying her in a twist of her mouth. With slightly more force than necessary, she takes another drink. The world is gradually beginning to soften because of it, allowing her to think less. For this, Erin is grateful. She wants light and warmth from this evening, not discomfort or pain. Another drink. The world is softer still.

The fireworks in the air are a vision of color, flowers exploding into fantastical shapes, aided by a mix of powers and inventiveness. Their forms ought to be impossible, and normally this would frustrate Erin to some degree. Instead, she merely smiles at the sight, then looks to Lane. The music is beginning, heard over the chatter and booming pyrotechnic display.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Daniel Ahn Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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#, as written by piearty
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Lucas didn't know how loud his voice was, or if Daniel would even hear it, but as soon as the word was out of Lucas' mouth the delayed waves of refusal, fear, and now panic set in. You idiot, drawing attention to yourself from the two most prominent influential and terrifying people in the school on your very first day?! You're going to get yourself socially massacred...again...

But Daniel heard it, and paused, more perplexed than angry at Lucas's shout-- even in instinct-mode he analyzed the cry with a precision which creeped Lucas out, to be frank.

Nina snapped out of the trance she seemed to be in, though her thoughts were just as if not more confused, and stoppered Daniel's rage with a disturbing ease. Whether Daniel's roboticism or Nina's power over him had more to do with this, Lucas couldn't say.

Nina then started to approach - Nina, whose hands were trembling, whose heart was hammering, whose mind was lost in regret and fear and something not even Lucas could put a name to. Yet who, despite all this, spoke with an amused sarcasm, her brows quirked to just the right angle, looking as cold and elegant as frost on a windowpane.

Everything about her is a lie, Lucas realized. And worse, an incredibly familiar lie: affected sardonicism, distant apathy, a carefully constructed wall to hide an ugly pile of wreckage and debris. All of these things he understood far too well.

Lucas started to wonder if the Romanov princess was more like him, the lowly outcast, than possibly anyone else realized.

"Brave," she said to him, and a few more meaningless words to hide the significance of that description. She was staring intently at him now, and oh God, so was Daniel, and Lucas begin to blush nervously under their scrutiny despite himself. He managed to return Nina's gaze for a bit but soon enough had to avert his eyes, settling them awkwardly on her chin. He wanted to say something to her but Daniel was standing right there; plus, what Lucas was planning on saying he couldn't imagine Nina wanting anyone else to hear. Or possibly even herself to hear, for that matter.

He closed his eyes and mentally scanned the crowd for any Russian speakers aside from Nina. There was one guy it seemed, but he was out on the edge of the party, far from the scene.

Lucas opened his mouth to speak, but right then a thrill ran through the crowd and he realized that fireworks has started. Fireworks? Really? How pompous can this school get? And just my friggin luck too. People's thoughts, including Nina's and Daniels, turned to the dance that was apparently imminent and which Lucas wanted to stay far away from, so he had to say this quickly or not at all.

Boom! Pop! The fireworks crackled. At a pause which Lucas carefully measured by listening through other people's ears, he opened his eyes, looking straight at Nina, and spoke.

"Нина--" Pop! Bang! "Ты тоже смелый." Another bout of fireworks went off but Lucas still stood there, deliberating whether to say his next sentence. A brief silence. "Всё в порядке?"

Come to think of it, it was probably extremely stupid to be speaking in different languages like this. He began to panic a bit. If they ask, I'll...I'll just say that's my power. Yeah. Languages. That sounds good. He nervously waited for her response, and possibly, possibly a punch in the face.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Daniel Ahn Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Lucas Long

0.00 INK

#, as written by Layla
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      XXX
      XXXShe sees the moment his mask slides down like a muzzle over his lips. For a wild, hopeless moment, she wants to peel it off. She wants to see him for who he is. This stranger she's known for three years and her only true ally. Who are you, Daniel?
      XXXBut she doesn't move. Doesn't speak. Instead, she turns away, pretending she doesn't see the words that fizzle and die before they have the chance to escape the tight reign of his control. Pretending, as always, that she has nothing but a few sly quips and apathetic remarks of her own. Daniel is composed. Still. His head hovering just above her own. She fits perfectly in the curve of his neck. She'd never noticed.
      XXXFireworks scatter the darkness looming above them. She stills her breathing and experiences a rare moment of pride. She didn't hyperventilate. That was something, was it not? But she was not as foolishly brave as the stranger looking at her now, or the stranger who seems to look at anyone but her, even though moments before he'd saved her from... Something.
      XXXIs it possible, she thinks. To save something that's already been lost?
      XXX"Нина."
      XXXHer name comes as a whisper, but it jars her nonetheless. Her eyes widen as a quiver runs through her titanium walls. It's been a while since she's heard her name pronounced as it should be, in the rich form of Russian vowels. For a second, she thinks she's home, or at least the address etched into her official papers. But the name comes from the boy whom moments prior, spoke Korean.
      XXX"Ты тоже смелый." You, too, are brave. "Всё в порядке?" Are you alright?
      Her world is silence. Only the sound of his voice strung into syllables tear through the fog, playing over and over and over again. Are you alright?
      XXXAre you alright?
      XXXIce encases her lips. Humiliation. Guilt. Regret. Misery. They press into every pore of her skin and they wind around her neck until they form a noose. A part of her hopes they will rise, pull tight, knock her off her feet and steal the breath from her lungs so she can rest. But how many days, weeks, months after her ordeal and Sterling's departure had she wished for those very words to be uttered? A simple sentence that might break the dam and free her if only she were brave enough to answer. But she wasn't brave. Isn't. No matter what this stranger - a stranger who knows her name - thinks he knows, he clearly does not know enough.
      XXXBecause Nina Romanov is the biggest coward of them all.
      XXXAre you alright? Erin had asked her. Fine, Nina had replied. Fine.
      XXXIf she could turn back time, she would punch herself in the face. She would force the truth from her mouth and tell Erin and Lane both that she was not fine. She wasn't fine at all. But she'd been waiting for someone else to ask. She'd been waiting for Sterling.
      XXXFool, the Queen in her mind hissed, playing her like a stringed marionette. Pathetic little girl. Love can never save you. But strength. Influence. That is power. Destroy or be destroyed.
      XXX"Вы должны быть более обеспокоены для себя, kотёнок." she says, her voice flowing like molten gold. You should be more concerned for yourself, kitten. From her lips, the term of endearment seems more of an insult. "держись подальше." Stay away. "Тыкотенок среди львов." You're a kitten amongst lions.
      XXXThat the Queen should warn him is a kindness most are not privy to. She empties her eyes of emotion as she holds his gaze. She turns her head to Daniel, granting him a sultry smile as she wraps her arms around the back of his neck. She tilts her head to the side and watches him through a curtain of impossibly long lashes. Nina rolls her hips against his in a decidedly sexual gesture.
      XXX"Let's not keep them waiting," she purrs.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Daniel Ahn Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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Russian. Before, the young man had spoken Korean to Daniel, and now he switches over to what appears to be Russian in order to exchange private words with Nina. The corner of Daniel's mouth twitches slightly, a minute motion indicated the desire for his blank expression to turn into a frown at this small exclusion. He very much despises not knowing what is going on, and while the two before him speak in a language he does not know, that is inevitably the case. Perhaps I should take up studying Russian, he muses coolly, reading the conversation as best he can purely based on tone and facial expression between Lucas and Nina. Clearly the speaking of her mother tongue has some effect on Nina, although given that maybe one or two others in the school speak it, at least one being someone attending the school due to a prodigal ability for learning languages, this is not surprising. Even Daniel had been pulled out of his red haze at the sound of Korean, after all. The young man before them knows the power of languages, this much is clear. Daniel wonders the extent of his mastery- is he someone to be concerned about?

Of course, even the lion might be slightly concerned over the flies buzzing about his ear, but they do not affect him enough to prompt immediate action. This boy might be brave, certainly foolish, and have a knowledge of languages, but he still gives off the feeling of someone frightened and quiet, by the way his eyes avoid direct contact, and his shoulders seem to turn inward very slightly. Daniel stands at his full height, posture perfect, shoulders slightly loose. The tightness has faded such that he seems impossibly relaxed in comparison to just a few brief moments ago. Still, people look at Daniel, cold, level-headed, intelligent Daniel, with a new tinge added to their fear of him. Some look with admiration, impressed with his display of brutality and strength. For his part, Daniel is ashamed. He is so quick to mock those who must use physical force to accomplish their goals, and yet tonight was quick to do just that.

He's been so careful since Sam died. And one drunken idiot brought down his house of cards with a few slurred words and harsh movements. At least now his disgust towards Cameron is more collected.

Daniel does not know what it is Nina has said to the boy, but it seems to indicate that she is through with Jack, and ready to reascend the beanstalk. As her arms wrap around his neck, Daniel instinctively puts one around her waist. She may roll her hips against him, making those few stragglers whisper about her reputation, but Daniel shows no reaction to it other than a very slight twitch, or perhaps clench, of the jaw. He raises his eyebrow at her, cool but pleased at the return to normal from this disturbing break in pattern.

Reacting otherwise would imply he sees Nina sexually, which he would see as a debasement of her value. To him, she is above such carnal things- he is the animal in a cage, but she transcends all such things. The least human in a school where many students can casually fly or drift through walls, she is Nina. The Queen.

"If I may have the honor, Miss Romanov?" he takes her hand and guides her away from the strange boy who speaks multiple tongues. Naturally, Nina's place is preserved by an unspoken rule of etiquette. One arm around her waist, one holding her hand, Daniel begins the dance. Polar opposite to the pair just a few dancers down, Erin and Anthony, the two are the picture of grace and refinement. As in all things, Daniel knows well the steps he must take.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Daniel Ahn Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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#, as written by piearty
TW: description of suicidal thoughts
Seriously, if you have a problem with this, don't read this post.
Post summary: Lucas is triggered by Nina's thoughts to have a slight anxiety attack and flashbacks to very dark times in his life, and then leaves the party.

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After Lucas spoke, he seemed to hear his last sentence echoing, as Nina repeated it over and over in her mind.

It did not have the effect he would've liked it to have.

Lucas wasn't exactly sure how Nina would react when he broke into Russian-- he expected surprise, denial...a hopeful part of him had wished for the words to support her in some way, but knew that this was unlikely. He guessed mostly he was preparing for anger; disgust and agitation at having been seen through despite her flawless facade.

But instead of lashing out, Nina seemed to cave in, and Lucas was suddenly awash with emotions that he'd been trying so hard to avoid, that he was sick of already; dark, creeping, noxious things that seemed to drag him down into the depths of a place he desperately didn't want to return to.

As he was being dragged down, Nina seemed to want to be pulled up, wrenched high into the heavens by a rope of her own making. To rest, she thought, and as a reaction, Lucas' throat seemed to tighten as well. Oh no. Oh no, no no no no no--

There was a tightness, a panic rising in his chest. He thought back, quite involuntarily, to the many, many nights where it was painful to simply exist, and how much he had desperately wanted all this to stop, to end: the voices, the exhaustion, the loneliness, the hurt. To the careful, deliberating way he would turn the tiny bottle, labeled TRIPTAZINE, over and over in his hands before placing it gently back in his bathroom cabinet. To the times when he would thoughtfully stand on the edge of the subway platform, past the yellow line, before reluctantly retreating to the back wall at the sound of the train. And this, and so much more--

"You should be more concerned for yourself, kitten," Nina said, and Lucas looked up at her, startled. The color had drained from his face. "Stay away. You're a kitten amongst lions."

She held up her mask again and Daniel swept her away to dance. Luckily, Daniel had drawn the conclusion that Lucas' power was over languages by himself, but that was not Lucas' focus right now. He turned away from the dance, the people, and the bonfire's light, resisting the urge to bolt. He walked slowly across campus to the dorms and entered his room. Silence. Everything was silence. But though others' people's voices in his head were gone for now, he couldn't get rid of his own, whispering insidiously. He laid in bed, staring at the ceiling.

Stay away, she had warned him.

He was more than happy to oblige.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Lane Blackwell Character Portrait: Anthony Carraway Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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Aimee waited for Lane to answer her, wishing that she had said anything but that. What do you want? Really, Aimee? You couldn't do anything better than that? She sighed, also wishing for the night to end. What was the point of sitting there awkwardly? It wasn't like Lane was making the situation any better. It was mean for her to think that, since it was mainly Aimee's fault that there was any awkwardness at all, but she had a miraculous ability to place blame on anyone but herself. Taking responsibility was never her strong suit. She looked around for Carr, slightly miffed that he was having a great time dancing with Erin, when she corrected herself. Stop sulking, grow up, she thought.

"Uhm...dance? I..." she trailed off. The buzz had warn off, meaning there wasn't nearly enough in her to cause her to make a fool of herself like dancing surely would. Aimee was too heavy in the steps and wiggly in the shoulders to make anything impressive of dancing. You know, I'm actually not...feeling too well...I'm just gonna...tell Anthony I'll catch up with him later, okay?" She said lamely. She stood, glad when the trees didn't blur around her, and started walking away. She stopped mid-step and half turned back to Lane, tucking her hair behind her ear. "I'm...I'm sorry, Lane..." For what, well, that was up to interpretation. Aimee didn't really know herself, whether it be leaving her that morning, ignoring her, or just for leaving her again now. She just knew it needed to be said.

Walking away from the party, she headed towards the summer dorms. No one would be around, almost everyone was at the bonfire, so it was eerily quiet. She thought about all of her interactions from the night. Anthony, Lane, Lucas...now there was a troubling thought. She had literally reeled from everything she learned about him tonight. Of course, she would never do anything with that information, but it was still boggling to think about. And just to touch on the real kicker, he could read minds. He didn't get life stories, but he got a decent amount. And he didn't have a wall like her. He couldn't block it out. She thought about it as she walked, and decided to try something. Hey, Lucas, can you hear me? she thought, and immediately felt like an idiot. So you think in the mass of thoughts on campus he'd pick your head out of everyone? Right... she sighed, entering the summer dorm and curling up on the couch. Tonight was definitely not what she was expecting.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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#, as written by piearty
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Lucas' eyes flung open.

Did someone say my name just now?

Can you hear me?, the voice continued. It was faint, very faint, but in the dead silence, he couldn't help but notice it. It wasn't close enough for him to discern through his power who it was, but there was only one person on campus who would be asking that question in their thoughts, to him. Aimee?

As she approached, he traced her path, following the trail of her thoughts. So you think in the mass of thoughts he'd pick your head out of everyone? she thought as she entered the dorm. A sigh. Well, you thought right, he mentally replied.

He sat up and rubbed his eyes, dread making his stomach lurch. He was trying to forget all about tonight and had been hoping to just go to sleep, but now he had to be reminded of how he accidentally blew his secret with the most embarrassing move he'd done in a while. What did you even trip over?? he asked himself for probably the 10th time.

You should talk to her, the faint mental voice that was his own suggested, and this time the louder voice agreed, hissing, Yes, talk to her, make sure she doesn't tell everyone you're a freak!

He sat up and threw his hoodie back on, even though it was a muggy, warm night. The hoodie made him feel comfortable, somehow, made him feel swaddled and protected from--well he wasn't sure what from, but he deemed confronting the girl who now knew his biggest secret, in the middle of the night no less, a a worthy enough cause for such protection.

He padded down the hallway in his socks to Dorm #14 and raised a fist to knock on the door. But, despite his protection, despite his determination, his hand suddenly felt frozen. C'mon Lucas..., he thought, his teeth gritted. Just knock...on the damn door...

But knowing that Aimee was within, and not even far within but laying on the couch mere feet away, scared him into inaction. Why would she want to talk to you? his mental voice spat, conveniently ignoring that she was the one who called to him in the first place. He reminded himself of this, drew back his fist, and sent it toward the door at a perhaps unnecessarily-fast velocity-- only for it to rapidly slow down as it approached, hitting the door with barely any force at all.

Yet, Lucas' heart dropped. Shit, did that make noise? I have no idea. Did she hear it? Is she coming to the door, did she not and is just gonna fall asleep, I-- He began to back away and turned to hastily walk back to his room.

And then his knees buckled. Again. And with a loud THUD he fell onto the wooden floor of the dorm hallway, shutting his eyes at the brief shock.

Well, she certainly heard that, he thought, not moving to get up. He shifted so that he was staring with a frown up at the ceiling lights, which were dimmed but still on. What if I just lay here. What would she think of me. That would make a great second impression, huh? He continued to lay still.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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Aimee had been just about to shut her eyes when she heard a faint knock at the door. She opened one eye, frowned at the door, and decided it wasn't worth her effort. Tyler always did call me lazy... she thought, closing her eyes again. Suddenly, there was a loud thump from outside her door, and she groaned. This time it was loud enough to actually draw her attention, and she sat up. Her buzz had long since faded, leaving a headache in it's wake. That also probably had to due with the large amount of claircognizance she'd drawn on earlier, but eh.

She walked over to the door and opened it slightly. She opened it wider when she saw Lucas laying on the floor. "What the hell?" she said. Realizing a minute later that he couldn't hear her, she switched to thought. Are you okay? she asked him. She kneeled down next to him and looked at his face. He was staring up at the ceiling lights, a bit of hopelessness in his expression. She was careful not to touch him, she had a feeling it wouldn't be welcome, so she just sat there instead. Do you...want to come inside? she asked cautiously. After all, she had been the one to call to him. She couldn't exactly just leave him laying there.

Aimee stood, leaving her door open for Lucas to enter. She flipped on a lamp so that they weren't in complete darkness, then proceeded to get some water bottles from the closet. Weird place for water, but there was really no where else in the small dorm. She found herself slightly nervous, whether it be from talking with someone who could read minds or just in general from the nights previous events. Regardless, she ignored her rapidly beating heart and sat down. It's weird, thinking that you can hear everything in my head. If it's anything like my ability, I'm sure it's annoying.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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#, as written by piearty
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The longer Lucas continued to lie there, the heavier his bones felt and the more natural it seemed. The tiny part of his mind was running around in circles, waving its metaphorical arms about what Aimee would think-- what other people would think when they filtered back into the dorm-- if he really did just stay here. The bigger part seemed to accept that this was where he was now; this was his new state of being: lying on the fucking floor in the middle of a dorm hallway.

"What the hell?"

Shit. In his zen-like state of despair it somehow slipped his mind that Aimee was bound to open the door and find him after that loud sound, though he had been thinking about it only moments before. He froze, muscles tensing.

Oh, right, he can't hear me, she thought. She was a bit mistaken there, but Lucas couldn't help but mentally despair at the thought. Great, so she knows about that too. He glanced in her direction. Ah ha, she's approaching me now, shit shit shit shit

She peered over him and asked if he was okay through her thoughts. Lucas found it stunning how quickly she'd managed, in general, to adjust her behavior to him. For him. That was weird. Though her main emotions were confusion and concern rather than repulsion and dislike, he still desperately began to wish he could melt into the floor, ignoring her gaze. She was making special effort not to make physical contact with him, though, weirdly, it seemed to be more for his sake than hers.

After a few painfully long seconds, Aimee asked if he wanted to come into her dorm. The concern in her mind grew stronger, mixed now with nervousness. Lucas' eyes widened as he watched her, out of the corner of his eye, stand up and enter her room, the door hanging open. His mind was a confused sludge of emotions. Why did she invite me into her room?

Does she think I'm brain-damaged from the fall?

God, she thinks I'm pathetic.

This is what you wanted, right? To talk alone?


Lastly, A guy and a girl straying early from a party to go to a dorm room alone? He flushed a faint pink. Won't people talk?

But, as he reminded himself again, this was what he wanted--t-that is, to talk to her alone, not the other thing! So he got up-- Oh, wonderful, now you want to move, body --and plodded through the open door, closing it behind him. Aimee was sitting on the couch, feeling nervous and awkward. He felt similarly. It's weird, thinking that you can hear everything in my head. If it's anything like my ability, I'm sure it's annoying, she directed at him, and he gave a soft chuckle.

"Annoying is kind of an understatement, but yeah," Lucas said. He wondered how crazy they both looked, her staring at him silently while he replied to nothing. He ran his hand through his hair absentmindedly. "Before, uh, before I say anything else, uh, you can speak aloud. I may be d...well, even though I might not be able to-- well, I can, I can understand you when you're speaking even...despite." He bit his lip. Even just making reference to his issue made him feel absurdly vulnerable, and he wished, he wished she didn't know at least that. He shook his head and glanced at her. "Ahehe...one of the perks, I guess. He gave a wry smile.

Alright, he reminded himself. You wanted to ask her; now's the time to ask her. Lucas dropped the smile, his eyes turned imploring. "Aimee--" come to think of it, it was vaguely pleasant to be able to say someone's name without them freaking out that they haven't told you yet-- "You're...you're not gonna tell anyone, are you?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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Aimee flushed with embarrasment when he said he could hear her. She felt like even more of an idiot now. From the way he stumbled a bit over his words, she could tell he didn't like her knowing, and really didn't like talking about it. "Oh, right. Should've figured that," she said. He gave her a wry smile and she smiled back. It seemed like his personality, at least what she could get from it right now, was similar to hers. But, the joking was short-lived. Lucas got serious with her, but what he asked dumbfounded her.

Aimee prided herself on keeping people's secrets. She had to, based on how much she knew. She had learned fast that everyone had a screwed up past on some level. And that they didn't react well to having those pasts shared. It had never even occurred to her to tell anyone about Lucas. The only person she ever would have would be Carr, but if Lucas asked her not to then she wouldn't. That was just the kind of person she was. "I would never tell anyone," she answered. "You never have to worry about that with me," she said. She smiled earnestly at him. She may not be psychic like he was, but she could sense that he was nervous. She wanted to make him more comfortable, but she wasn't really sure how.

"I want to help you," she said. It had taken her awhile to build up her mental wall, but now that she had it, it made her life a whole lot easier. She didn't feel the need to use it now. She felt open with Lucas. She didn't need to hide her thoughts from him. "If you want me to, that is. If not, I totally understand," she said.

The reality of their situation hit her. From the looks of Lucas, it had hit him a little earlier. "You, uh, don't need to worry about anyone wondering why you're here. My roommate never showed up and everyone else is at the bonfire," she said. The only people who would ever spread a rumor like that were the snobby Influentials, and they were more concerned with getting drunk right now than they were about two people talking in a dorm room past midnight. Not that there was anything to talk about. "And you're probably getting every awkward word in my head right now. Great," she looked away, still embarrassed.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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#, as written by piearty
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Aimee seemed hurt by the assumption that she would ever tell anyone--she had her own power after all, and Lucas realized with a mental headslap that she probably knew how to, and had to, keep secrets far worse and far more numerous than Lucas' petty problems.

She said she wanted to help him. He blinked a few times. What? It was a genuine offer, not one of clinical interest or of pity, and he felt the concern radiate off her again along with something else that surprised him--comfort. After she informed him, with a bit of embarrassment, that their reputation was and would be fine, he focused back on the offer.

"Thanks. And I'm sorry, I uh, can't exactly help that..." He shook his head. "You said you want to help me...how?"

Aimee rocked back on her heels and smiled at Lucas. "Create a wall, kind of like a barrier, to other people's heads. Once you learn to control it, it'll allow you to block out everyone's thoughts," she said. Then, for a second, the stream of Aimee's thoughts hitched, skipped like a broken record, before they began to play steadily again, throwing Lucas' mind out of time. He could tell she did it as a demonstration to him.

His eyes widened. "I-I...how did you?"

"See? It comes in handy."

A wall...? He frowned. "I...I'm not sure I can do that..."

He looked at her shyly as he wondered something. "Um, out of curiosity...could you..how long can you keep that up?"

Aimee smiled kindly. He could sense her pride at her development and how much she had grown since she first discovered her powers. It filled him with shame. He had no such luck controlling or even really understanding his power despite having it for, what, four years by now? Mostly he'd been exploring all the myriad ways in which it sucked. "It depends. Tonight? Not that long since we bumped each other earlier. I need to recharge. Usually I can keep it up all day. At least while I'm around other things that I have to touch."

What's wrong with me that she could figure it out and I couldn't? Lucas thought. Though he'd dreamed of blocking out the thoughts, he'd never tried to figure out a way how to. Am I stupid? Am I really that much of a failure? He felt his already fragile confidence give way to despair--but stopped himself before it could get too far. No, no...now's not the time for that, he thought, eyeing Aimee.

She patted the couch in front of her. "C'mon, I can show you." Tentatively, he sat down next to her.

Aimee crossed her legs so she was facing him directly. "Don't worry if you can't get this right away, or at all. You've dealt with it so far, haven't you? And you've done it pretty well. This would just be extra," she said.

"Extra", he murmured. She was being so considerate of his feelings, trying not to seem like she was better than him. As far as she was concerned, they weren't much different, and, powers-wise, she was right. He wanted to try because she seemed so confident he'd succeed.

But what she said next baffled him.

"Close your eyes, and go into your mind. Start by emptying your thoughts so that there's nothing standing in the way of you blocking them. Once that's done, start building from the bottom up."

He could go into his mind alright, but clearing his thoughts? Even if he managed to quiet his own, there was always, always the buzz of feelings and images and emotions from other people, and they were so distracting; he couldn't just ignore them easy as that. Then, she said, he had to 'build from the bottom up'. Build what? From the bottom of where? What was she talking about?

He opened his eyes and looked at her, brows furrowed. Doubtfully, he said, "I don't think I can do this."

Aimee grinned sheepishly. ["Sorry, I'm not that good of a teacher," she said. She pursed her lips, thinking. Suddenly she got an idea. "Try observing me. I'll put my wall up, and you can read my mind as I put it up to see if you get an idea, yeah?" She nodded and closed her eyes. It was far too easy for her to clear her mind since no one had, apparently, been in her dorm room since last summer to leave residue for her to pick up on. He couldn't help but feel jealous.

And just like that, Aimee's thoughts began to fall away piece by piece; as her wall was built, holes in his awareness of her mind grew until again there was silence. He stared at her in wonder. I can't hear her...and she can control what I do and don't hear...this could-- this could be-- Her thoughts came rushing back far too soon.

"How about that?"

He wasn't even thinking about trying himself, to be honest. His mind was reeling at the idea of someone, someone who could maybe make him feel like he was normal. Aimee was staring at him expectantly. That's amazing,, he wanted to say. Instead he said, "Ok." He set his jaw. "I'll try again."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Daniel Ahn Character Portrait: Holden Cunningham Character Portrait: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Rebecca Sayre Character Portrait: Christine Garner Character Portrait: Anna-Marie Beckett Character Portrait: Sterling Walker Character Portrait: Lane Blackwell Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Anthony Carraway Character Portrait: Mimi Arquette Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Keevan Brennan Character Portrait: Colin Dartonay Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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Throughout the dance, the Queen continues to press herself against the knight, a sort of chess in which pieces are clung to rather than taken. Daniel has always been rather good at chess, with his unending patience and levelheaded intelligence. It is a matter of strategy, of foresight, of never taking too long or too short of a time to play just a little glimmer of one's hand. This dance is, to put it bluntly, nothing like any game of chess that Daniel has played before. His jaw tightens, his eyes shift slightly away, looking into Nina's eyes only when they are completely composed. To say that he is beginning to feel confused by her flirtation, escalating beyond the normal banter he so enjoys, is an an understatement. The normal back and forth has become so routine, so reflexive, that a divergence threatens to disturb his balance. Of course, this is Daniel, one must remembers, and no amount of vertigo will knock him off of his feet after the little mishap earlier. He has bound the doors will every tool in his arsenal, and checked the bolts twice simply for some peace of mind. Daniel takes Nina's new game as a test, and is determined not to fail it by becoming one of those idiots who surround the two. He is calm, collected, and apparently unfazed by the way her hips graze against his.

Her breath is against his neck. She plays a timid hand, Monroe in her innocent seduction. By no means a Kennedy, Daniel will not allow himself to be taken in. He will not fail this test, for he is above such things. How else could he properly be her right arm in all things? Besides, this feigned look of timidity is one which Daniel dismisses readily, it not corresponding with the Nina that he has come to be so devoted to. The new Sam. So he studies her shoulder, face now against his neck, and keeps his hands an appropriate distance above her hips. Daniel Ahn, after all, is every bit the gentleman, a knight whose battles are fought under the rules of court etiquette. Forward two, left one. He guides her around the light, reflected in her eyes as she now looks at him once more. There is a strange, unnerving desperation in the Queen's voice when she speaks. Daniel does not understand it. He is so clever, so insightful, and yet so painfully unobservant. Preset boundaries can be so difficult to break, and he has always been one to play within the rules.

"See me."

Only as you are, Nina, he thinks, the words cryptic in meaning even to the young man himself. Ironic, as he knows nowhere near as much about the depth of her mind as he believes. But at least Daniel is aware of something swimming leagues beneath the surface, occasionally sending ripples across the water like a fault line prepared to separate and consume all in its path. He is concerned of the day on which the earthquakes will begin, but is confident that he will be able to hold onto the cracks until his fingers are bloody from it. "I want to."

The meanings are tragically misconstrued between the Queen and her dog.

"Are the stars flattered when astronomers try to claim them with names? I should think not, Miss Romanov," he is now looking directly at her- while she looks beyond his shoulder. The two are incapable of looking at the same time, it should seem. Perhaps there lies part of the problem. The song ends. He takes her hand and bows languidly, lips brushing against her knuckles.

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Erin is glad for Carr's compliance in dropping the subject, knowing that he does it not out of lack of personal curiosity but in the interest of her comfort. Carr has sensitivity in bounds where Erin often seems to lack it completely, and it is for this reason that she depends so greatly on his friendship. Erin depends rather greatly on all of her friends, in fact, though she does manage some level of independence. She is too open to them, someone more cynical might say, too vulnerable to any secret blades hidden between their pages. Luckily, Erin refuses to listen to such cynicism, even when it has proven true in the past. She grins and twirls, deciding that the lightheadedness is entirely the good kind, and that any inclinations that it might be nausea or discomfort are pure rubbish. Right now, her desire is simply to dance and have fun with the friend before her, who so rarely comes out to things like this with her.

A friend who is apparently made uncomfortable by her prodding question. Perhaps it is partially the alcohol or proximity to the fire, but Carr's face flushes quickly upon her offer to help out as a wingwoman. The question was half in jest, but there is some thought that perhaps if he is willing to come to the bonfire and dance and laugh, he will be willing to take a step forward towards someone as well. More than anything, Erin would like for Carr to expand his horizons and befriend new people. She sincerely worries about him, as one would a younger brother, wondering how he will fare when separated from the people whom he has been around for the entirety of his life. She worries the same thing in regards to herself.

Distracted by the spins, Erin laughs and practically topples on top of him thanks to a mix of dizziness and alcohol. Having fun with Carr is far to easy, the young woman dreads being without him once she goes off to college. How will she succeed without her curly-haired and dimpled-cheeked teddy bear? Not very well, she fears. So she must enjoy his presence while she can. "Not you. You're small. . .and silly." Erin is struck by the impulse to trap Carr in a bear hug when he says this, but is prevented by the fact that he has already wrapped his arms around her in the sort of position that is reminiscent of a middle school dance. Erin smiles and nuzzles into his shoulder. With Carr, she is safe. No drama, no fear, no tension. He may seem to be the more anxious one, may seem to require more care, but much of the time it is in fact the reverse that is true. There is a brief lapse of silence, but Erin doesn't notice it. She is content in the arms of a friend.

As Carr does speak once more, the song comes to an end. "You… How about you? You shouldn’t waste your good looks on me and Lane, you know?" Erin frowns slightly at the thought that anything she does should be 'wasted' on Carr and Lane, two of her favorite people in the world. That they are willing to be around her is a gift. Still, the frown curves up in a smile of sorts.

"Oh, you know me. I only ever want to use people for their cuddling abilities," not entirely untrue, as Erin is known for her love of cuddling. Still, she has been one to enjoy a few flings, though nothing ever seems to last for one reason or another. "I'm starved. Let's grab a snack."


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The proximity of Becca's lips to his skin is not lost on Keevan as she laughs and encourages that rumors be interesting if they are going to exist. Of course, she is not immune to the tendency of rumors about the Influential girls to be somewhat more slanted in a sexual direction. As far as the other two groups are concerned, the members of the Influential are constantly messing around with each other, probably using protection made from silk and hand stitched in Italy. Keevan certainly knows this- as the master of whispers to the common people, there is not a rumor, true or false, that has not passed by his ear at least several times over. It is to him to determine which ones hold grains of truth within them. He doesn't know about Nina, but is rather certain that those spread about Becca's are false. If they were true, he would have noticed some sort of hints indicating it, her sneaking off with people, something.

Not to say that he is constantly watching her, of course. But Keevan would probably have noticed eventually.

She pulls away from his neck to study Keevan, briefly, making him feel squeamish and inferior under her scrutinizing gaze. It does not show, of course. He raises an eyebrow in response, a lazy sort of half smile across his frightfully pale face. "If you take a picture it'll last longer," he quips, disappointed with his own lack of originality. Perhaps she had been too distracted to respond, or too uninterested, for soon Becca's head is resting warm against his neck. The space between their bodies is lessening, and it is a good thing her eyes are closed because his neck is beginning to flush slightly. Even if they were open, hopefully the shadows would have hidden the visible reaction to her presence from view. He likes the feeling of her resting in the curve of his neck. It feels natural. Unfortunately, it is over too soon that she raises her head and speaks, with some severity, on the topic of the fight, which will naturally be in the Onion tomorrow morning.

"Even my saint-like heart is not so forgiving, Rebecca. He brings shame to me and all the other teenage dirtbags out there. Now, I believe my five minutes are up- you can return to your perch, love. I hope to see some more stories by the end of the night," he gives her hand a quick squeeze, but is the first to walk away.


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Time Skip- it is now 11pm, around an hour and a half after the first dance. Any faculty who may have been there to supervise have returned to their own homes in the nearby town or on campus, leaving the party to rage on. Collab posts are encouraged, and ideally we will have a mention of each character unless the writer states otherwise in the ooc. Thank you!

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anthony Carraway Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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Aimee and Lucas had been sitting on the couch for two hours already, trying desperately to formulate some sort of defense in Lucas’s head. While she couldn’t read minds like him, she could tell from his posture that he was wearing thin.

Finally, he stood up. "Fuck it, ok?" He rubbed his head. "I give up."


She nodded, leaning back on the armrest and raking her hand through her hair. "It's okay, it took me awhile to get it, too." She remembered the hours spent building it up brick by brick. She imagined it that way, as if it had been her physically building a wall. She knew it was a form of the placebo affect; that if she believed she had put in the time and effort to defend herself then the wall would work. Apparently, it wasn’t as easy as she had once thought.

Lucas shook his head, a flicker of irritation crossing his face. "No no, that's not it...I don't think you get it..." He looked a bit pained. "Like, I can see exactly what you're doing and I just can't do it. How can I explain..." He trailed off and was silent for a few moments.

Then, avoiding her gaze, he extended a hand out to her. "If you want to know," he said quietly.

Aimee looked at him, surprised that he would allow himself to be so vulnerable with her. Tentatively, she took his hand. She may have closed her eyes, or it may have just been her blankly staring at Lucas, she didn't know. The only thing she was seeing was Lucas. Or rather, inside Lucas's mind. She felt his emotions, his frustration and confusion, and she knew that this was hopeless to him. No matter how many times he watched her do it, it made no difference.

The longer she held his hand, the more she got. Some of it was stuff she had already known from earlier, like his mother kicking him out and his deafness, but there were some new things. She could feel that he was impressed by her, which embarrassed her a little, but also something else. Or rather, someone else. Someone that she reminded him of. The name Alex flashed through her head, and she immediately broke the connection. She felt that she had invaded his privacy, something she always hated to do.

"I'm...I'm sorry, I shouldn't have held on that long."

Seemingly mortified, he mumbled, "It's o--I mean, it's not a...dont worry about it. Anyway, yeah...now you get it." He rubbed his head and stood up. "I'm so tired now. I'm going to bed. Thanks...for helping me. For thinking I could do it." He opened the door, turning toward it. "Sorry I can't."

Aimee raised her hand at him, as if to say something of encouragement, but he had already walked away. She hated leaving things on bad notes, so she switched to thoughts, knowing he would hear her. You’re going to be okay. I can feel it.

Walking over to her bed, she pulled out her phone, intending to send Carr a message before she fell asleep. She, too, was exhausted from the previous events and the extent to which she had used her power. Not really seeing what she was typing, she said,
Sorry I left. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do, and called it a night.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Daniel Ahn Character Portrait: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Rebecca Sayre Character Portrait: Anna-Marie Beckett Character Portrait: Sterling Walker Character Portrait: Lane Blackwell Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Anthony Carraway Character Portrait: Mimi Arquette Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Keevan Brennan Character Portrait: Colin Dartonay Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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Time Skip It is no around 1am, and people are beginning to leave the bonfire. A few might linger a bit longer, but they have broken off into groups speaking in hushed voices around one fire or another. Many people will now be making decisions to return to their dorms by themselves or with another person. Regardless, if the people are important enough, it will be in the Breadbowl the next day, so no one needs fear that they have missed anything interesting.