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Nina Nikolayevna Romanov

"A closed mouth gathers no foot."

0 · 1,326 views · located in Laurea, New York

a character in “Laurel”, as played by Layla

Description


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{ "My name is Nina, but you can call me your majesty." }


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Name
Nina Nikolayevna Romanov

Age & Grade
17 || Rising Senior

Number of Years at Laurel
5 || She first enrolled in Laurel at the age of 12.

Sexual Orientation
Complicated, but she is known in Laurel to be a rather promiscuous bisexual

Group
Influential

Family Industry
Weapons and artificial intelligence || Following the dissolution of the Russian monarchy, the Romanov family evolved to become world leaders in the global arms industry. They manufacture weapons and military technology and equipment. The Romanov Corporation has since merged with the American aerospace and technology group, Lockheed Martin, through a marriage union. Together, they control nearly 80% of global arms sales. They are connected to artificial intelligence company, AI Corps.





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ImageStrengths
Able to operate most weapons and has a particularly good aim for firearms || Skilled in hand-to-hand combat || Magnetic || Smooth liar || Witty || Quick thinker || Superb strategist || Manipulating others || Able gymnast || Public speaking || Negotiations || Can solve basic IT issues || Above average alcohol tolerance || Eloquent writer and speaker || Multilingual - she speaks fluent Russian, English, German, French, Spanish, as well as conversational Portuguese and Turkish || Dry humour

Weaknesses
Bad eyesight, Nina wears contacts most of the time || Can't cycle || Bad at mathematics || Apathetic || Vindictive, Nina does not forgive, nor does she forget || Takes things too seriously || Hasn't cooked a day in her life || Fails to remember the lyrics to songs || Chronic liar || Materialistic || Doesn't believe in sharing

Fears
Afterlife || Her greatest fear is not that there is no life after death but that there is. She hopes that death ensures non-existence, rather than an eternity of wandering as a ghost or suffering in Hell, for she knows that is where she will go.
Losing control || She is terrified of losing control in any aspect, be it the control she has over others or what little she has over her own life.
Fire || Partially why she's never cooked. Nina has avoided stoves, bonfires, candles and any other source of fire since the incident when she was a young child in Russia.

Secrets
Nina suffers from major depression.




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ImagePersonality
{ Ruthless || Charismatic || Flirtatious || Machiavellian || Melancholy }

There is very little the 'Romanov Princess' will not do to obtain what she wants, and she wants a lot. A sizeable majority of the student body are eager to do her bidding because to incur the wrath of Nina Romanov is to sentence oneself to civil death. She will not hesitate to decimate any who dare oppose her and abandon those who have deemed themselves devoid of use. There are few lines Nina will not cross to get what she wants, even if it means obliterating everything and everyone in her path. She is ruthless as she is unforgiving, but she rewards greatly those loyal to her. Most are eager to be in her good graces because Nina's favour is ensures fame, fortune and acceptance within and beyond Laurel.

Despite her ferocity, which at times veers into cruel apathy, Nina is a remarkably charismatic individual. Her personality is magnetic, her laughs infectious. She has captured the attention and feverous devotion of both students and staff alike since her arrival 6 years ago. However, where she was once as kind as she was outgoing, the sequence of events that occurred when she was 14 have since morphed her sweetness, bitter. Yet the change only served to make her even more influential, where the Nina in the past was largely disinterested in exploiting her power as the Romanov Princess. Her apathy ensured she had little to no qualms about stepping on and knocking down anyone who was at the time, above her. Perhaps no student had ever advanced as quickly as she within the span of 3 years. It seemed overnight, everybody knew who she was.

Whilst Nina is far from being a prude, she is certainly not the succubus Laurel seems to believe she is. She is a temptress who flirts with most but few can lay truthful claims to having ever been in her bed, though many try. So much so that Nina is known throughout Laurel to be promiscuous, a title she has so far, not contested. The event that made her known throughout Laurel when she was 14 ensured she would be ever known as one who was decidedly not a virgin. Despite being coldly calculating, she will not sleep with anyone even if it serves a purpose. She will, however, exploit her charm and appearance to her advantage. Nina uses her body as the Influential might use their wealth, the Gifted their talents and the Powerful their magic.

Under the filthy rich and unreasonably pretty facade, Nina hides a festering darkness. She has battled with depression for much of her life, symptoms that've only exacerbated in time.





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ImageImageLikes
Power || Pina Coladas || Parties || Drugs and alcohol || Wit || Running || Surfing || Flirting || Money || Luxury || Big houses, big cars || Messing with people || Gullible people || Loud music || Heights || Outdoor recreation || Animals || Babies and children || Dark chocolate || Baths || Fiona Apple || The Beatles || Horror movies || Naive souls || Zealous people who think it's God's will that they shove their religion down her throat || Breakdancing || Parkour || Tattoos || Marshmallows dipped in coconut cream || Bacon and maple syrup || Twizzlers with chocolate ice-cream


ImageImageDislikes
Being touched without her written consent || Mushy food e.g. mashed potatoes, overcooked pasta, soggy pizza, baby food || Being opposed || People who talk too much || Overly cheerful and excitable individuals || Homophobes || Crying || Romantic comedies || Indian food || Nipple and genital piercings || Stupidity || Olives || Raisins || Every Taylor Swift song || Raw broccoli || Meat pies




ImageBiography
Nina Nikolayevna Romanov was born in Moscow, Russia, to Nikolai Romanov and his American wife, Julia Lockheed. Prior her conception, Nina had been engaged to wed the eldest son of AI Corps' top CEO. She was Romanov's firstborn daughter and youngest, with three brothers before her. They called her the 'Romanov Princess,' as the Romanov family remains Russian royalty, although they no longer rule following the dissolution of the monarchy.

Her father, eldest and second brother left on a trip to Japan when Nina was 11, and she was left in their mansion in Moscow with her mother and youngest brother. In that time, a fire ignited that destroyed much of their property and killed both her mother and brother, the latter who perished running back into the inferno to retrieve his sister.

Nikolai was devastated by the loss of his wife and son. Seeing Nina became an unbearable reminder and he sent her to live in Laurel less than a year later. There she met Sterling Walker, who enrolled in Laurel a year earlier. Despite his aloof nature, they'd bonded after she'd thrown a fist to his jaw. Lost in her thoughts and racing through the corridors, she'd barrelled into Sterling, who'd caught her reflexively but whose hands grasped her chest to halt her fall. She'd been mortified and he'd followed to say that she shouldn't be, because 'there isn't much to grab onto anyway.'

Since literally running into each other, they'd developed a love-hate relationship. They seemed more brother and sister but by the time she was 14, she realised she'd developed an undeniably un-sisterly attraction to him. She realised this when sour jealousy gnawed at her when he began spending time with another student in Laurel. She snuck out one night and waited in the gardens they always visited, hoping to apologise and confess to him, but he did not come. A group of intoxicated Laurel boys found her instead, and afterwards the whole of Laurel thought her a whore. That night, she succumbed to a dilapidating depression she did not escape for months and struggles with even now.

She did not see Sterling again, despite needing him more than ever. She discovered soon after that he'd transferred. Nina was handicapped by a fear of everything but especially the boys who'd harmed her that night. She was too ashamed to speak the truth but knewt she could not live in fear forever. She reconciled with her eldest brother, who'd taken over the family business as Nikolai had fallen ill. Nina rose through the ranks and kept rising. The first people she crushed were the boys from that night. They were expelled and their families made bankrupt.






ImagePlayed By
Layla

Dialogue Color
#800080

Face Claim
Darla Baker

So begins...

Nina Nikolayevna Romanov'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: Daniel Ahn Character Portrait: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Anna-Marie Beckett Character Portrait: Sterling Walker Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov

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      XXXIt's the same dream.
      XXXShe sees herself walking. She's humongous. Clumsy. Clouds congregate around her, smearing her vision and burrowing into her ears. She's blind, and deaf.
      XXXNina screams for her to stop, but she has no mouth. No body beyond the creature grappling blindly for escape.
      XXXShe can only watch as her body stumbles onwards, swallowing time and distance as it pitches into the unknown. Faster, it seems to cry. Faster. It doesn't see the city stretched out just ten steps away. Nine. Eight.
      XXXNina turns to the people winding through the streets of the city that seems so small in comparison. She tries to warn them. They cannot hear her either.
      XXXThree. Two.
      XXXA smear of white sends a spike of alarm through her. Sterling is laughing, grinning in that lopsided way of his at a girl with soft blonde hair that curls around her face like a halo. Erin touches his shoulder. Smiles. She's stunning.
      XXXIf Nina had a heart, it would twist. Plummet.
      XXXOne.
      XXXHer body takes a step and the buildings crumble under her feet. People scream, their little legs thrusting, arms pumping. It's no use, because her body arches and falls. Collides against the ground and the people racing across it.
      XXXShe shrinks until she is no longer a giant, until Nina is just as insignificant as the rest of them.
      XXXSparks of discomfort ignite into flames of excruciating pain and she watches herself cry out for help. Not for Nina, but for the people around her. The corpses that decorate the roads like fallen leaves. She cradles her friends in her arms.
      XXXLane. Erin. Sterling.
      XXXThey do not move. She's ruined them all and now it's too late..
      XXXMurderer.
      XXXShe begs for someone, anyone, somebody to help. She's needed it for a long time now.

      XXXNina jerks upright, her heart rattling against her ribcage. Sweat rolls down her neck. Her eyes dart around the room, but all she sees is her roommate.
      XXXAnna's back is turned to her, strands of chestnut brown curling at the nape of her neck. Her breathing is slow, a paradox to the short gasps Nina drags into her lungs.
      XXXRelief soothes some of the anxiety coiled in her stomach at the sight of Anna's sleeping frame. At the very least, she didn't awaken her roommate. She's safe. For today, she's safe.
      XXXNina runs her hands up and down the goosebumps on her arms. Roommates see a lot. They see weaknesses that can be exploited in a fragile system that could crumble at any moment. Nina might be the Queen of Laurel, but she sits on a throne of glass.
      XXXShe ignores Anna for the most part and does not provoke her as she does most others. It is dangerous to make an enemy of the person you live with.
      XXXNina pulls back the blankets, tugs on a pair of sneakers and slips out the door.

      XXXHours later, when she's forced the dream from her mind with strikes at a punching bag and endless drills in the gymnasium, Nina walks onto the back porch where Daniel is lounging, as she knew he would be.
      XXXShe showered and dressed in an expensive cream blouse tucked into a pair of black waist-high shorts that reveal smooth legs that stretch on for days. Deep brown hair falls in artfully styles waves that settle below her shoulders. Her lips are stained a deep wine red that compliments the winged liner framing her eyes. Concealer hides the dark circles under them.
      XXX"If you look for perfection, you'll never be content," Nina reads over Daniel's shoulder. A lazy smile plays on her lips. She lowers her thick lashes. "Wise words for a dead man. Peasants shouldn't strive to be Kings. Perfection is solely reserved for the already perfect."
      XXXNina grazes Daniel's cheek with a soft kiss. Half the school thinks they're dating, though they certainly do not think he is Nina's sole source of sexual pleasure, what with her reputation. The other half thinks the possibility of Daniel dating anyone utterly ludicrous. Frankly, Nina thinks so too. There can never be someone worthy of him, in his eyes and hers.
      XXXWhile she does not know if they are friends, they are certainly allies. Friend sounds too intimate and archaic. It sounds like pain.


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      XXXWhat Sterling enjoys most about Keevan's company is his lack thereof. They both remain unconscious late into the day, which means neither of them jostle the other awake at ungodly hours. However, today is different.
      XXXWater surrounds him. Cool and clear. Smooth rocks press against his feet as he sinks into the riverbed. He's decided on a much needed swim today, and perhaps he wants to infuriate a pretty girl from his past, knowing that she will be in the area this day. Sterling has never been one for prolonged human interaction - after all, they are somewhat idiotic the majority of the time - but he has a fondness for Erin's displeasure. He knows after their moment that she has no desire to see him, but life has become drab since his return to Laurel Academy.
      XXXSterling is a strong swimmer and though the currents push him, he swims against them easily. He pushes his feet against the bottom of the river and propels himself up. He breaks the surface, tossing water like fingerprints of light from his white-blonde hair when he shakes it.
      XXXHe runs his fingers through wet locks of hair, biceps clenching, muscles flexing in his abdomen. Shorts hang low on his hips, revealing two indentations that dip beneath the waistband. He smirks, hearing Erin's voice and her footsteps. The girl runs like an elephant.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Daniel Ahn Character Portrait: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Sterling Walker Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Aimee Hart

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Daniel continues to lazily flick through the pages. Of course, while his flick may be lazy and his eyes half-lidded, the young man is never anything less than completely alert. The occasional passing cluster of students earn a scowling little glance, and the brief interruption of a buzzing fly is ended as he smacks it against the table in a single movement. Daniel is not one to waste his energy or time if he can help it, and this shows in the cold sort of efficiency with which he works. Of course there are brief moments of warmth, a genuine smile, an act of loyalty, but only a precious few may routinely witness these minor miracles. For the rest, his only smile is a smug sort of smirk, eyebrow raised and criticisms written across his bone structure. This is Daniel, after all, not some strange patron saint of idiots who is happy to tolerate people simply for the sake of 'politeness.' He does things only where they benefit him, directly or indirectly, and this calculating tendency is something that most of his classmates have come to understand by now. Still, those moments in which he attempts to be charming often come as such a surprise that they dazzle a classmate into going with what he wants, confused of what is going on the entire time. He much prefers it this way.

There are those friendly exceptions, of course. One of them walks softly up to him. Daniel has a talent for remembering footsteps of those who matter, and she happens to fit among the group, with quiet steps. Thus it comes of little surprise when the voice of Nina Romanov chimes in behind him, reading a line that he had been lingering on before the distraction of her entrance. And there is one of those smiles- small, but sincerely amused. The young man turns his head just enough so that she is visible in his peripheral. "Good morning, your highness," he greets her with fondness. Daniel has taken to teasing her with that nickname, for many of the school have come to see her as the Queen Bee, and him the one constantly whispering in her ear. They aren't entirely incorrect. Her lips graze his cheek and, naturally, Daniel is unfazed. This is their usual routine, after all.

He marks his book with a red piece of yarn that had been wrapped between his fingers and shuts it with a somewhat satisfying little thud. "Oh my, you'll have people talking about us Miss Romanov. Now no one will ever wed me," his humor has a peculiar degree of deadpan to it, with the very slightest fluctuations in pitch and tone here and there. The execution is flawless within his own little group, but to others might be considered somewhat dry. Luckily he gives very few damns as to what anyone outside of his ring thinks of him- and he knows all of those thoughts. There is a reason many falsely believe him to be the editor of the Breadbowl, and the fact that he seems to hear every whisper is certainly part of it. Not that he would ever publish the trash thrown at his own clique that is often seen on the blog.

"I suppose the very least you can do now is take me to lunch," he adds, standing up and placing the book into a small messenger bag. "Shall we?"


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A voice, seemingly out of nowhere, practically has Erin five feet up in the air from the sudden shock of it. She twists around to see the source of it and smiles brightly. It's Aimee Hart, a classmate whose face she's known for a few years now but whom she has never been particularly close with. A few shared courses here and there, maybe one or two partner projects, these are the extent of their interactions. Still, she seems like a nice enough girl, and isn't one of the Influentials, so Erin shoots up a hand and waves back right before the girl turns and walks off. Her greeting had led Erin to believe that she was about to start a conversation, but apparently not. Perhaps this is for the best, as Erin wants to go on her swim before lunch hour is over, and thus has a somewhat limited window of time for anyone who isn't going to join her in the lake. The young woman gladly turns back around and runs into the lake, water splashing loudly on either side of her. Erin may be pretty, but grace has never been her strongsuit. The closest thing to it is the movement of her hands with tools and wiring, and not many agree with her in thinking building to be beautiful.

Before she gets very far at all, Erin notices a shadow is rushing towards the surface. She begins to move away a little, but perhaps not with the speed she ought to be using. Curiosity has always been a weakness of Erin's; she can't help but follow crumb trails, even when they lead down less than safe paths. She soon wishes she had moved away earlier though, as the shadowy figure turns out to be a person just as shady has his silhouette had been. Before her stands Sterling Walker, muscles flexing in the most show-boaty way possible. In an incredibly childish move, Erin wrinkles her nose slightly as if she has just smelt something foul. "Sorry, I didn't realize this spot was taken," she says, clearly not sorry. Sterling was once one of those who shared this tradition with her, he knew very well that this was her spot. All of the water, and he chose to bother her- Erin is certain of it.

He is an asshole, after all. One she made a huge mistake with last semester- one she'd rather not be reminded of by seeing him standing their shirtless, smirking. To think they had once been friends. Much had changed since he'd left and fucked everyone else over in the process.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Daniel Ahn Character Portrait: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Sterling Walker Character Portrait: Lane Blackwell Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov

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#, as written by Layla
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      XXXHe doesn't turn to look at Erin when she speaks. Sterling pulls himself out of the water and snatches his towel resting on a large rock. He ruffles his platinum blonde hair, peaking at Erin through thick lashes. A lazy smile plays on his lips.
      XXX"I'm willing to share," he murmurs. It takes him only a few strides to reach Erin. Her nose is level with his chest, making him grin some more. Beads of fresh water trail along his torso only to disappear beneath the waistband of his shorts.
      XXXHe takes a strand of Erin's hair between his fingers. His eyes wander to where sunlight hits the narrow strands, painting it gold. His fingers trail along the shaft of long blonde hair until he is no longer touching it, but still it floats. His lips quirk in a mischievous smile. Sterling lifts his eyes to meet Erin's.
      XXX"If I didn't know any better, I'd think you were avoiding me," he says. "But your self-control isn't that great." A low chuckle rumbles from his chest. His accent is thick, thicker than before he returned to England. Before he left and disappeared without so much as a post card.



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      XXXDaniel is one of the few who is still able to incite from Nina genuine laughter. His execution of dry humour and blunt sarcasm is flawless, his manner unassuming. She laughs and smiles at his comments, forgetting in that instance her nightmares and the faulty heart lodged in her chest. No water rushes into her lungs when she inhales, no sickening vertigo that makes her think she might be drowning or falling. She breathes air.
      XXX"Only if you're paying, Mr Ahn," she teases, imitating Daniel's odd formality. Nina tucks her arm into the groove of his elbow places a hand on his forearm.

      XXXA muted anticipation descends upon the bustling cafeteria when the Queen and her Advisor sweep in through the thick mahogany doors. They hold a collective breath when Nina pauses at the doors, sweeping an assessing gaze over the room. She seems to stare at each person in turn and perhaps that is her gift, the ability to influence the many through a few.
      XXXHer eyes linger on a dark head bent over a guitar and sprawls of paper. Like Erin, Lane has always been talented. Kind. Loveable and forgiving and everything Nina did not know how to be. Because Lane, above all else, was a good friend, something Nina has not been for a long time now. Her ribcage seems to shrink, pressing into her heart. Despite the years that've been and gone, and her knowledge of power and strength, still she cannot help an inkling of regret. Of sorrow.
      XXXIt enrages her.
      XXXThe heel of her black leather knee-high boots click against the tiles of the dining space as she strides with long legs to wear Lane sits alone. Her elbow grazes the edge of Lane's filled cup and like the straw that broke the camel's back, the glass tips.
      XXXWords coalesce into thick clouds of black ink as the water bleeds into the paper. Pools titter and spill over the edge of the dining table. Liquid hits Lane's lap and the metal strings of her guitar.
      XXXA thrill rises in Nina, but her stomach seems to dip. Pain bursts from where her painted nails dig into her palm and she welcomes it. Deserves it. She wants to do some more. She wants to ruin her old friend where she sits, more than she already has for the past three years. She wants to stop. She wants to hold still, disappear, fall to her knees and beg for forgiveness.
      XXXWeak, growls the devil perched on her shoulder, sitting on her chest, pushing her forward. If you can't be happy, no one can.
      XXX"Oh, I'm so sorry!" she croons. An apologetic smile slips onto her face of its own accord. Nina watches her body move and listens to the words slip from her mouth. Disconnected.
      XXXShe rights the cup, smearing any remnants of music in the process, until the sheets of paper are simply blobs of dark colour and disintegrated efforts.
      XXX"I'll get you another drink," she purrs. "I know much that must've cost you." Nina stares directly into Lane's eyes as she mocks her, marks her as poor. Insignificant. Nina lifts a slim, manicured hand. A slight red-haired girl rushes to her side and sets a glass of water and a carton of orange juice on Lane's table. For a fleeting moment, Nina's smile falters but the look of steel is back and she flashes another one of her devastating smiles as she pulls away.
      XXXTheir table of Elites, capable of influencing the Influentials themselves, sit a distance away. They're watching the scene with amusement, some chuckling and smirking. The less significant ones bustle around them like the servants to dukes and duchesses. They're eager, hopeful for the chance to be elevated.
      XXXHope made fools of everyone.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Daniel Ahn Character Portrait: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Rebecca Sayre Character Portrait: Christine Garner Character Portrait: Sterling Walker Character Portrait: Lane Blackwell Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Keevan Brennan

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By the time that Keevan's mind finally decides it is time to greet the day, he has already wasted most of it. Even his Summer roommate, who has tendencies very similar to his own in terms of start times, has left by now. This is almost embarrassing to Keevan, rising later than Sterling. Almost is the key word of course, for Keevan is the sort of lad who seems to have very little in the way of shame and nearly as small a dose of self preservation. After all, no one properly worried about themselves would willingly lead a technically illegal online newspaper, one that has plenty of enemies among those who frequently find themselves in it's articles. That being said, Keevan suspects that many of the faculty know he is the source of the Breadbowl (which he plans of course to pass down to some lucky, gossip-loving yearly come the end of next year), and let it carry on because they find it a) amusing, and b) a harmless aspect of high school life. The gossip is going to happen anyway, after all, it might as well be reliable. And the Breadbowl is nothing if not that- Keevan is very keen on fact checking. It would be a discredit to himself were he to publish false rumors. He is an investigator as well as an editor. Of course, he can post unverified rumors if he reminds everyone that rumors are all they are confirmed to be.

It is this little project of his that he immediately turns to when he wakes up, opening up his laptop and checking any recent submissions. Of course it will be slow, as people are busy settling in, but without a doubt the Summer blog posts will be far more interesting than the normal semester ones. During the Summer, yearlies are let out to play, with significantly less supervision and significantly more little secret nooks to hide in their spare time, which they may spend however they please. A bunch of gifted, powerful, and wealthy teenagers lodging together for an entire Summer, many of them having long histories? Oh, Keevan simply adores Summer entries. Something about the heat works up people's emotions, and that makes for excellent stories.

He scans through the two or three he has, all just little tidbits of suspicious action, one with a photo as evidence. Unsurprisingly, they mostly speak about the Influentials. The Influentials who stay here for the Summer tend to be the ones with a bit more on their plates, after all; the happy ones are by now off on their private jets to vacation with mummy in Paris. This leaves behind the bastard children, black sheep, shady wealth sources, etc. It's beautiful, really. A writer could ask for no better source of character ideas than one of the most prestigious schools in the Northern Hemisphere.

The lunch options aren't too shabby either. Keevan is soon on his way to the lunchroom, laptop safely in his backpack. He is never without it, naturally.
To: Rebecca Sayre
How's Nina doing? Always a pleasure, love. Don't forget to keep in touch this summer.


He grins at his phone as the screen returns to black. Rebecca may be among the top of the social ladder, but he likes to think she is in his back pocket. Daniel Ahn isn't the only one with his ear to the floor at Laurel- far from it.


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This isn't the time to start something, I should just go. Carr and Lane are probably at lunch anyway- Erin begins to realize the contradictory nature of choosing to confront Sterling in such a way, when what she really wants to do is avoid him, but too late. He is already moving towards her, and it feels as though turning to run away, which she is half inclined to do, would be admitting defeat. Stupid, stubborn Erin would never concede to the asshole who stole her first love, one of her best friends. She would never give him that satisfaction. Unfortunately, Erin doesn't realize that playing his game is doing just that. She is a clever girl, with hands that read blue prints like the palm lines of future generations, with a mind wiring for electricity and light and machines. When it comes to people, however, her programming tends to miss a few spots. It's a bit of error in the coding, and leaves her to often play right into the hands of others. Thus, like an indignant child, she scowls at the nearing boy.

His hands move towards her face, and by instinct of a dance played before she steps back. Her footwork is faulty, however, and lacks the necessary speed. Normally speaking, Erin loves to have her hair touched and play with. She is quite the adamant believer that most people do. Sterling is not a normal classmate, however, and his fingers fiddling with her hair gives her a shiver rather than a feeling of warmth. He radiates cold. Even as he releases her hair, it floats in the air as though pulled forward by a magnet. He is toying with his abilities, she knows. Abilities which have always infuriated her with their inability to be explained.

But of course Sterling knows this.

"I'd need to be drunk and stupid to want to seek out someone like you," she shoots back, reaching up to pull her hair back down. The sight of it makes her vaguely uncomfortable. His chuckle is all the worse. The foolishness of what she has said dawns on her too late. In an attempt for recovery, she attempts to play his game. The failure is likely pitiful.

"If only there were someone worth knowing behind that face of yours. Then our time wouldn't have been such a waste," The reference is clear, and perhaps dirty as well, but Erin has worked hard to avoid Sterling, and owes him no kindnesses for ruining the effort. I need to go.


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"Oh, I wouldn't dream otherwise."

When people automatically look at Nina and Him, Daniel nearly smirks. However, the expression only half succeeds, giving him a somewhat menacing look with his mouth one fifth curled and his eyes glinting like a knife. There is good reason to believe someone may fall on him and cut themselves against the sharpened edge of his being. Luckily, most of his close friends wear gilded armor that protects them from such tragedy. Perhaps this is why her far prefers the company of the high, mighty, and guarded. They suit him much better, and he them, than anyone else possibly could.

To put on a show for the normal students, as he views them, Daniel leans over and whispers into Nina's ear, expression twisting into that smirk which had been denied entry by the gates of his mind earlier. "I don't suppose you're suddenly aching for dear old times," he murmurs, following her gaze. His words may have fell upon deaf ears, but as her walk directs itself towards Lane soon afterwards, there are those who look on with an anticipatory sort of horror. It seems that the sort who cover their eyes before a creature pops out in horror movies make up a fair percentage of the current diners in the hall. And with rather few people left, everybody is seated such that they may watch the scene unfold, from the seven year olds sitting in the corner with a monitor to the seniors who will be off come Summer's end.

Daniel does not follow her, but walks over to the Elite table, distinction made by the lack of diners at the three tables nearest to it, and the choice position near the large windows of the cafeteria. At this time of day, it is lit up by the sun, which glints against the diamond bracelets and platinum watches of those who sit there. It shines like power, reflecting in Daniel's eyes. The young man turns when he has reached the table to watch Nina. Just in time to see that flash of inconsistency across the face of the Queen. It is no surprise to him, but Daniel hopes no one else sees it- a Queen that wavers is one that falls to a mere Duchess, and Nina ought to know that. After all, someone had to be bumped back in line for the throne in order for her to ascend. Daniel has always edged the shadow beside the gilded chair, but her seating was more of a hot topic semesters ago.

She is the better for it. Daniel could not ask for a better woman to stand by. He has even briefly considered the lucrative option of, in some years time, making the partnership more permanent. But that would be a deal to be made another day, should no one more fitting be arranged.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Daniel Ahn Character Portrait: Anna-Marie Beckett Character Portrait: Lane Blackwell Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Colin Dartonay

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Monday, June 22nd | Laurel Summer Academy
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As she finished her meal, Anna took to looking around the cafeteria, examining the people that were soon to becomes her friends. Or her enemies. Although the former was naturally the more preferable option. She noted the different tables with a raised eyebrow. "Wow. It's like Mean Girls. Colin's eyes rose, a confused knot between his brows, "What?" Anna shrugged, "Oh, you know," Before quoting the famous chick flick in a clichéd 'rich bitch' tone, "'You got your freshmen, ROTC guys, preps, J.V. jocks, Asian nerds, Cool Asians, Varsity...'." At Colin's blank expression, her voice trailed off, and her girlish tone was replaced with a dumbfounded one, "Seriously? You haven't seen...? I guess rom-coms aren't your thing." "Am I that transparent?" Anna sighed, shrugging off her step-brother's sarcasm before explaining, "What I mean is there's a different clique at every table. Only in this case it's..." She glanced around the cafeteria again, pointing a finger at each table, "Geeks. Musicians. Basket cases. Drowning-in-cash-ies..." Colin's tone was laden with snark, "Wow. You've got us sussed." Anna ignored the falseness of his tone, instead smiling with pride and stretching in an arrogant, aren't-I-great? manner. "I know."

She flickered her eyes over to wear one of the 'drowning-in-cash-ies' had approached one of the 'musicians', and a frown crossed her face as the former spilled water over the latter's notes, malice clearly intended. "Hey. What the hell? Did you see that?" Colin gazed slid to the scene, his expression saying little, "Oh. Nina Romanov strikes again." "'Romanov'? Like, as in 'Anastasia'?" Anna replied, her curious tone joking, "Yeah." Anna's expression froze, and she looked back to the girl in disbelief, "No! Seriously?" "Seriously." "Woah..." For a second, Anna was spellbound, but then she shook away her amazement, and her frown returned, "But still. What a bitch." "Mmhm." Once again, Colin's interest was waning, and Anna peered over at him once more, "So... who are these other guys?" Colin sighed, and pointed lazily to the students as he named them. "The girl by Nina, that's Lane Blackwell. She's a 'Gifted'. Musical. Pleasant, I suppose. " As he ran through the students in monotone, Anna tried her best to keep the names tucked away for future reference, although Colin's personal style of narration wasn't making it any easier. "And that... is Daniel Ahn." Anna followed his gesture, and allowed her eyes to fall on the slender figure standing not so far away from Nina. "... Try to avoid getting on his bad side." "Hm? Why?" "Because he's the type to make you regret it." Colin's tone had shifted to something Anne couldn't quite put her finger on, and as she glanced to Colin, his expression had darkened. "Did... you get on his 'bad side'?" Colin's trance shattered, and his gaze broke away from the darkly dressed individual. As though a spell had broken, he returned to his calm and blunt state, "Yeah. I guess I did." "How?" Colin sighed, although his dispel of breath seemed weary rather than annoyed, "He just... never liked me." His gaze flickered, as if he'd fallen into a daydream, and murmured as an afterthought, "He was friends with Julian." Anna was taken aback by this new information, as well as the change in mood, and bit her lip. "Oh." She fell silent for a moment, before 'ahem'-ing awkwardly, and rising from her seat. "Well, I'll keep that advice in mind." She smiled nervously in an attempt to break the tension, "Come on, let's go." Colin sat in his chair, and nodded slightly, "Fine." Anna waited for him to get up, looking around the room with a curiosity now dredged by concern.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Sterling Walker Character Portrait: Lane Blackwell Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov

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As Lane sits she taps her pencil against the table creating a light beat to go along with the lyrics scribbled on the pages below her. She's trying to remember what the beat she created yesterday was, but memory has chosen to fail her. The tapping continues until it is suddenly beaten out by the crisp loud sound of heels approaching her.

Nina

Who else but Nina would choose a pair of heels as her go to shoes for one of the first days of summer, Lane much rather preferred a worn in pair of Keds. Lane keeps her head down in this moment, focusing on her music. Sure if Erin was there sitting with her, Lane may have scowled at the influential, but she wasn't up for it.

It didn't take long however for Nina to reach the table. Her expensive perfume filling the air around them.
Lane glances up just in time to see Nina's elbow make contact with her glass of water. The glass falls with a loud thud, water overtaking everything it its path, Lane's eyes widened and her mouth falls open.

"Shit..." She speaks under her breath, her eyes dart from paper to paper but there is no hope. The water flows over the table reaching her guitar and then her shorts. Lane feels completely paralyzed, unable to save her songs, her guitar, or herself. It feels impossible to take in all at once.

originals...these were original songs...weeks of writing...

A lump forms in the back of her throat as she stares blankly at the papers and she scrunches her nose, holding back tears. Why was Nina doing this, why had she gone completely out of her way to ruin everything important Lane. All Lane could run through her mind was why. Everything came rushing back to her. From their friendship over 3 years ago and then Sterling leaving... Nina's depression, Nina turning on everything she used to be to become this stone cold influential. The memory's were suddenly interrupted by Nina's air piercing voice.

"Oh I'm so sorry!" She says in an unrealistic apologetic voice. Nina's hand moves to the glass, she sets it up right, smearing the papers even further. Lane bites her lip. She wants to scream, to yell out, to grab Nina's arm and yank it away from her papers, as though Nina is tampering with the dead bodies of her children. But Lane can't do anything except watch in absolute horror.
"I'll get you another drink, I know how much that must have cost you" Nina says practically spitting venom. She stares into Lane's eyes, and Lane sees nothing but a shallow cold hearted influential. She sees no regret across Nina's face, in fact, she sees pleasure. Lane's heart is broken, completely shattered there on the spot. The tears in her eyes are so close to falling over the edge and streaming down her cheeks, she can barely hold them back. Lane was almost completely unaware of the people around them watching until a younger girl, quite possibly a freshman dying to rise up, sets a new cup of water and a carton of orange juice on the table.

Lane doesn't say a word to Nina. Instead she pushes back her chair hastily and throws her wet guitar into the case. She runs for the nearest exit, her face burning up. Lane shoves open the door, she's outside.

Where's Erin....I need Erin

Unable to keep the tears held up anymore Lane cries, hurt stomach aching as she walks down towards the lake where she had left Erin last night. She cries for not only her music but for Nina and is angered that she had ever considered her a friend. Lane can see a blurry Erin and she runs towards her.

"Erin...Nina ruined everything...my entire notepad..." She feels like a child running to her mother after being bullied on the playground. Lane covers her mouth in an attempt to keep from crying.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Daniel Ahn Character Portrait: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Anna-Marie Beckett Character Portrait: Sterling Walker Character Portrait: Lane Blackwell Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov

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      XXXLane's eyes wobble as tears threaten to overflow. The dark haired girl turns away, her hands shaking as she shoves her damp guitar in its case. She stands and marches quickly out the door. Nina stands there for a long moment, still and silent. She should feel relieved, powerful, that she can make or break anybody she chooses.
      XXXInstead she feels nothing except a profound emptiness. The words she said, the things she did, they echo over and over again in her head, and then even those disappear. Nothing, she feels nothing.
      XXXBecause Hell is a gaping red cavern in the devil's chest, an emptiness she is simply trying to fill.
      XXX"Keep it," she whispers, barely loud enough for anybody to hear. But someone does and the freshman who brought the drinks is carefully tucking ruined sheets of paper in her book bag.
      XXXNina tosses her hair over her shoulder, turning to her empire. The Influentials laugh, but everybody else is silent. Staring.
      XXXSuffocating.
      XXXShe sees her new roommate seated several tables away. Anna-Marie Beckett. Senior. Power - Transmutation. Born to Olivia Beckett and Alec Winters, an entrepreneur, who interestingly, was not listed as Anna's father at birth. Orphaned at age five. Found again, now. As per usual, Daniel was there to inform Nina of every student who enrolled in Orion, even more so her new roommate. After all, the best time to kill a person is when they're asleep, and Nina Romanov will not be brought down by a rich man's charity case.
      XXXA smile that doesn't reach her eyes spreads slowly across Nina's face as she catches Anna's eye. It's a devastating smile, revealing two rows of straight porcelain white teeth. Nina waves.
      This is a warning, her grin seems to say. Do not cross me.



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      XXX"I'd need to be drunk and stupid to want to seek out someone like you," comes Erin's snarky response. Sterling beams. Oh, but you did, he thinks, remembering that fateful night not too long ago. "If only there were someone worth knowing behind that face of yours. Then our time wouldn't have been such a waste."
      XXX"Been checking out my face, Rin?" he says. "Man, I feel like man candy."
      XXXBefore Erin can respond, a figure bursts through the trees, hands pressed to her mouth. Lane. Sterling doesn't think much of it at first, because even when they were children, Lane always seemed the softest of the three, although it was prudent to note the other corners of the triangle consisted of Erin Hill and Nina Romanov.
      Nina. Sterling's chest squeezes at the onslaught of memory and he shoves it aside. But not for long.
      XXX"Erin, Nina ruined everything." Lane's voice breaks. "My entire notepad."
      XXXAlarm shoots through Sterling's veins and his hand jerks instinctively. He clenches his fist before the energy coiled in his palm escapes. Emotions flit across his gaze - disappointment, pain, guilt, worry and finally, rage. Not for Nina, but for himself.
      XXXYou never should've left.

      XXXSterling waves the heavy mahogany doors open. He strolls in calmly, moving with an uncanny grace. His expression does not betray the red that smears his vision, blood boiling and pushing at his skin for release. He does not betray the power simmering and overflowing in him. Sterling sees Nina.
      XXXEven now, he recognises the warm brown of her hair, the streaks of light chestnut coiled from where the sun has trailed its fingers down the shafts of wavy hair. She's taller now, her body unrecognisable. She's not the scrawny young girl he left. She's a woman with power and hatred in her veins.
      XXXShe's beautiful.
      XXX"Nina," he says carefully as he nears her.
      XXXShe lifts her gaze to meet his. Cold and devastatingly calm. Her eyes were once the shade of summer rain, now they look at him like orbs of shattered glass. She shows no expression, not memory of their past. Nothing, and that's the worst part perhaps. She doesn't say anything to him, merely lifts a perfectly sculpted brow in question.
      XXX"You look..." He's staring at the mess beside them. Where Lane was, he's sure. "Frustrated," he lies, returning his gaze to Nina. "What's bothering you?"
      XXX"I'm looking at him," she says drily.
      XXX"There’re a lot of people who would be flattered that I should grace them with my presence, but I chose you.” His lips quirk in a sly smile but his eyes burn into her. Screaming at her. What are you doing, Nina? What happened to you to make you so cruel? So unrecognisable?
      XXX"What do you want?" Nina crosses her arms, rests her hip on the table. Sterling doesn't miss the way she presses into Daniel. He hadn't even noticed he was there, but now he sees him and it's unfortunate that he can't unsee him. The big brute. Sterling pretends to ignore him, even as he hovers and listens to their conversation.
      XXX"The truth," Sterling says quietly.
      XXX"Pluto isn't actually a planet."
      XXX"Stop it, Nina. Stop this." Sterling lowers his brows. Glares.
      XXX"You have no authority over me." Nina straightens, lifts her chin, and glares back. "You." She takes a step forward, until their chests nearly brush. "Are nothing." Her voice is low, soft enough that only he can hear.
      XXXSterling's rage sparks. His fists shake. The overhead lights flicker.
      XXX"You are a traitor to your friends," she says. Sterling wonders if the irony is lost on her. "You left, without so much as a postcard. You had no right to come back. You have no right to speak to me like you know me. You could never begin to fathom me when you can barely comprehend a 14 year old child. So wave your magic wand, Sterling." She gestures around them, at the tables ratting and the few that have risen from the ground. Sterling clenches his fists. "Because if you're God, I'm an atheist, and your magic will never save you from me."
      XXX"Sterling Walker! Cease your power this instant!" A voice barks as teachers rush into the dining hall. "Principal's office. Now." The teacher strides towards the two of them. She glances at Nina, opens her mouth. Closes it as Nina levels her with a stare. She returns her gaze to Sterling, a stern warning furrowing her brow.
      XXXNina leans forward to whisper in Sterling's ear.
      XXX"You think because you can wave a few pieces of wood around and replicate some science experiments that you have power?" Nina's voice is quiet and vicious. A quick rapid fire rattle. "Wake up, Sterling." She spits his name like poison from her lips. "This is power." She gestures at the school around them. A school she controls. At the teacher who is too afraid of the Romanov family to reprimand her.
      XXXNina leans back, the flame in her eyes replaced by cold. Sterling's gaze darts to where she takes Daniel's hand.
      XXX"I hope you know she loved you," Sterling says quietly. "We all did." The rage leaves him in a rush, and the tables settle to the floor, the lights stilling. He lifts his eyes to Nina's.
      XXX"And perhaps the greatest power you wield isn't your wealth or your status, but your capacity to destroy everyone you touch." He casts one last glance at Daniel, his gaze seeming to say, you're next.
      XXXThe door swings shut behind him, and slams into her heart.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Daniel Ahn Character Portrait: Anna-Marie Beckett Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Mimi Arquette Character Portrait: Colin Dartonay

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Monday, June 22nd | Laurel Summer Academy
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Colin mentally tried to shake the thick gloom that had begun to settle on his psyche, although even when he tried his hardest to act as per his usual, snarky self, he felt dappled by something grim. Perhaps thinking of Daniel just had that effect on him. No, actually it was more Daniel's friendship with Julian that he hated to be reminded of. The two had been close. Probably the closest thing Daniel had to a legitimate, healthy, platonic relationship. Daniel, with his dark grace, and his sharp expressions, had always made Colin feel wary. It didn't help that Daniel had never liked him. In fact, Daniel had rather strongly disliked him. Something about being Julian's sibling made Daniel opposed to him, be it out of jealousy or something else entirely, Colin hadn't a clue.

And it wasn't like he'd ever dare ask.

As he rose to pick up his plate, he saw Anna freeze slightly, before hearing a soft, "Shit. That's where I remember her from. "Hm? Who? Lane?" "Nina." "Oh? How?" "She's my bloody room mate." Colin's eyebrows rose, and although his mind fought with two emotions, the first being concern for his step-sister's welfare and the latter being amusement at her rotten luck, the latter wore out. "Well. Shall I call the undertaker now, or...?" "She smiled." Anna turned to him, her face contorted into a wince of dread, "I'm going to fucking die." "I don't suppose you have any funny stories, do you? I haven't known you all that long so your eulogy is going to be pretty emp-"

"Are you leaving already?" A bell-like voice interrupted him mid-taunt, and he glanced up. He didn't need to. He'd have recognised that voice, anywhere. "What time is it?" "Time to get a watch." Colin replied in distracted monotone, only for him to blink a couple of times as Mimi's lips pressed to the edge of his own. The brief moment of fluster was quickly smothered, and he turned to face the curly-haired girl. "Hello, I'm Mimi. Who are you?"Colin's eyes met Anna's, and with a heart-skipping moment, he noticed that she'd caught his second of weakness. However, she instead looked to Mimi, and smiled in her typically friendly manner. "Hi, I'm Anna. Colin's sister." "Step."Colin explained, shooting Anna a brief glance that she pretended not to notice. "I got blood on my dress. I don't know how to get it out. I might just leave it until I get changed for the party." "Why not?" Colin shrugged, before adding with a touch of sarcasm, "Gore is very 'in' this year."

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: 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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      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: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Rebecca Sayre Character Portrait: Lane Blackwell Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Keevan Brennan

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Daniel does not particularly enjoy the bonfires, but never misses a year. There is some enjoyment to be had in watching fools become greater imbeciles under the influence of the night sky and alcohol. To some degree he admires the amount of freedom the faculty are willing to give when it comes to Summer festivities such as this one, but on the other hand fears they merely reveal the truth of the institution: even those considered impossibly gifted, impossibly bright, or impossibly important, can make asses of themselves without little thought in regards to it.

Still, he is more inclined to get in just a bit more reading before leaving to attend the annual event, and for this reason arrives a bit late. It is the time he takes to press a ribbon into the page, to straighten his cuffs, to make sure the novel is placed in exactly the correct spot on his alphabetized shelf, which prevents him from being their to loom over Nina when she first arrives. These are the little details he regrets when he finally does arrive at the bonfire to see the flame hungrily licking the sky, mirroring the sudden cold fury in his eyes when he watches as Cameron, hardly worth his time and certainly not worth Nina's, wrenches her away from one of the duchesses. But he holds himself back- the queen must be given a chance to flex her muscles before a knight is justified in jumping in. Thus, he remains still, entire body tightened like a shadow waiting to expand and swallow the bonfire whole. His face is an unbreachable wall, but a single clench fist.

Cameron's arm springs forward. Daniel takes a quick step, still somewhat restrained.

Nina is forcefully pulled through the air. Daniel frowns. Cameron moves to finish his slur, and everything seems to go black.

Daniel is moving. His fist is hitting Cameron's nose. Cameron returns in kind, but Daniel seems unfazed, robotic. He has his arm around Cameron's throat, forcing him to the ground. Daniel may be a sleek darkness, but beneath his sleek exterior is a sort of carnal rage released in only these unique sorts of situations. The young man is already known to be feared for his ability to destroy with a handful of whispers in the right ear, but many do not realize the force he normally keeps locked and heavily guarded.

There are no teachers in sight. Cameron is only able to splutter, his ability to fight back weakened by a cocktail of air loss and alcohol. Many of the students started out cheering, but have since faded to grim silence, staring. Daniel does not notice them, instead seeing only Nina. He looks at her, waiting some indication that she is okay. It is the thumb of the emperor decideing a gladiator's fate. Whether Daniel would actually kill the man is difficult to say.

Without a doubt, there is dark rage in his eyes.

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A few minutes prior to the Influentials' ordeal, Keevan sits at one of the smaller fires, jesting with friends about who is the most likely to end up with whom at the end of the night. Some of his friends beside him discussing asking people to dance in just a little bit when a few fireworks are shot up to indicate the first dance. They toss in bets and comments about the bigger players among the Yearlies, guessing some things will remain the same: year long couples, close friends, etc, who tend to dance with one another every year. "Think there will be any surprises this year?" Louis, a boy with curly red hair and freckles asks Keevan. He is known among friends to have a wicked instinct for these sort of things.

"Huh? Oh. Well, you never know," his response is vague and distracted, more important things being at hand. Literally in hand is his cell phone, a message already typed out to be sent. He seems to be pondering his decision to write it, but does not do so for long. With a lopsided sort of smile, half amused and half strangely hopeful, in his optimistically manipulative kind of way, he finally presses send. By the time he does this, all hell seems to have broken loose at the bigger bonfire.

Naturally, Keevan must excuse himself from the group in order to rush over and sneak a peak of what's going down around the bonfire dominated at least half by Influentials. They also manage to find the best spots long before the night begins, and save all of them such that every Influential has a choice seat. Luckily, most everyone else is content to sit around one of the smaller bonfires for the majority of the night.

Even Keevan cannot help but be shocked at the dark shadow that is Daniel Ahn as the young man darts forward to intervene in a situation clearly going south. The fact that no one else had acted by now is nearly sickening but unsurprising, given Nina's thumbtack reputation. Even Rebecca is off to the side, perhaps still somewhat surprised by the sudden cutting into her dance. Keevan moves to grab her attention, and eventually is able to make eye contact. He gestures for her to check her cell phone, and grins.

To: Rebecca
Ask me to dance with you during the bonfire dance. Take your mind off of the Influentials- and what you say behind their back.


Undeniable their is a tinge of blackmail in the text, though Keevan writes it off as being more of a friendly encouragement. How else would he ever get Rebecca to dance with him, after all? He may be an asshole, but he's one with some sort of affection, it seems. Not that she'd ever be clued in on that.

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Erin is smiling, beaming really, and at least half of this is because Lane is smiling again. It is so heartbreaking to see Lane upset that when she becomes happy again, it sends her best friend over the moon. Erin would bend over backwards for her friend, after all. For now, it is enough to laugh and attempt to keep her hand steady at the same time, no small feat, as Lane holds a lighter up to her sparkler and attempts to light it. These are the little things which make Erin forget about Nina and Sterling and all of that drama, and just want to look at stars and build beautiful machines. These are the nights she adores most of all, fire illuminated the sky, still overshadowed by the radiance of the people around her.

Side by side with Lane, she rushes to draw out shapes that disappear as quickly as she can imagine them. She draws until the sparkler reaches its end, a faithful tool breathing its last breath. And they are off to find the successors of these noble weapons now retired, searching out the nearest table for more sparklers. Impulsive, perhaps a bit stupid, and given renewed optimism by the light of the fire and the stars, Erin takes a twisted Lemonade and lifts it in toast with Lane.

"C'mon, Lane- be my date to the dance? Unless you have someone in mind?" Erin is leading her friend to the main bonfire, eyebrows waggling, goofy smile in full swing. "I can play cupid, if so," unfortunately the offer is rather useless, because Erin, thanks likely to the fact that she isn't always the best at reading people, isn't the greatest of wingwomen.

"And we need to find Carr-" finally, Erin fades to silence as she reaches the bonfire, realizing that nothing is being spoken above a whisper. She dances along the edge of the crowd trying to get a peak of what's going on, but instead can only hear- Nina's name, along with Daniel and Cameron. What now? Erin wonders, suddenly very much thirsty for a few more swigs of her drink.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Daniel Ahn Character Portrait: Anna-Marie Beckett Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Mimi Arquette Character Portrait: Colin Dartonay

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" Well that's quite alright, " She said to Anna. She laughed lightly and looked up at the sky, " To be beautiful and loved, even for the smallest of time is a gift. " Even with the smile she donned, torment and sadness flashed through her eyes. However, just like a shooting star, as quickly as it appeared, it was gone. Ariel used to say that all the time. It always bothered Mimi because... well Ariel was beautiful. Not like generic beautiful, but really beautiful on the inside and out. Being around her had been like being around the sun. In the same way many say being around Mimi was like basking in the moon.

Ever observant Mimi witnessed the fight. She raised an eyebrow but made no comment. She did however find it amusing that the ice king melted for her cold queen. She simply tucked that away in her mind for later purposes. Beyond that she notices that romance seems to be flitting through the air. Romance might be the right word, lust maybe. Lust fueled by alcohol and the drugs that she disdained. She shook her head, deciding to not focus on that tonight. " I like England, but I like France much better. They have macaroons, I love macaroons. Colin," She said leaning her head on Anna's shoulder. She absently played with the twig as she talked, her bell like voice twinkling amidst the chaos around them. " Reminds me of a macaroon. They're cold and they look like they'd be hard. They're cute, but appear kind of boring in comparison to other french treats. However, with all that in mind I find myself unable too give up on the treats. Want to know why?" She said widening her eyes and raising her eyebrows. With a lazy smile she drawled, " Because, they are so delicious on the inside. "

After watching the celebration unfold Mimi quickly became bored and cold. Even with the summer air they were near water and a cool breeze was beginning to blow past them. " I'm cold, " she whined. Easing off of Anna's shoulder she sat upright and plucked the ponytail out of her hair. Making her mass of hair fall around her like heavy waves crashing on a beach. Her hair fell around her haphazardly but it was somehow comforting and blocked the wind from chilling her sensitive ears. She ran a hand through her hair, tossing her bangs to one side. With a raised eyebrow she slid over to Anna, then pronounced her "not warm enough", then back to Colin who, as men do, was radiating heat. " Good enough, " Again without even a warning she draped her arm around his midsection and leaned her body against him. " Why are boys so much warmer than girls? " She asked absentmindedly, " You're like freaking heaters. "

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: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Lane Blackwell Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Anthony Carraway Character Portrait: Aimee Hart

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Lane reaches into a nearby cooler and pulls a Twisted Lemonade out of the ice. She pops the top off and holds in up. Her glass clinks agains Erin's, Lane shouts.
"Cheers! Here's to summer, sparklers, air conditioning, senior year, and to us!" She pressed the glass to her lips, downing half the drink instantly. Lane promises herself that she will keep her limit to 3 drinks tonight, it was only smart thinking.

Soon enough Erin is dragging her along. They walk towards the main bonfire and Erin brings up the question of who Lane might like to dance with that night. In that moment, at almost perfect timing, Lane spots Aimee at rest on one of the metal benches. The two had not spoken in over 2 months and it made Lane so antsy thinking about it. She wanted to badly for Aimee to come to her and dance with her, and act as though they had no history together what so ever. But this was a fantasy, a mere scene played out in Lane's head and soon her attention was turned back to Erin.
"Uh nope! No one! I'm all yours! How's my hair?" She questions linking her arm around Erin's, they near the bonfire. "Oh and there's Anthony by the way... or Carr or whatever..." Lane points across the way to where Carr sits down next to Aimee on the bench. The two girls have approached the center bonfire though at the site of a large crowd forming.

Erin and Lane are not the tallest of the bunch at Laurel. Lane at a solid 5'3 and Erin, barely an inch taller. This makes it rather hard to see into the center at what it going on. Lane hears Nina's name being whispered and grabs Erin's hand instinctively. She does not want to face Nina with out Erin beside her ever again in her life.
"Erin lets just go by Carr..." Lane trails off disinterested in what ever may be the center of attention. Her current one track mind still thinking of Aimee.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Rebecca Sayre Character Portrait: Lane Blackwell Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Anthony Carraway Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Keevan Brennan

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#, as written by Saerith
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Anthony was never the most observant of people, but even he could tell something very strange was going on, by the expression on the boy's face, by the strange silence that hovered over them while Aimee and Lucas stared meaningfully at each other. Still confused, he felt Aimee's arm wrap around his, pulling his gaze to her as she spoke. The weak sound of her voice and her paleness surprised and concerne him, she, who before was cheerful and bright, now seemed shaken and... Scared? Anthony awkwardly looked at Lucas, offering him a confused, discrete smile, with the intention of being friendly or excusing himself and Aimee before walking along said girl to one of the metal benches placed close to the fire. He helped her sit down and carefully placed his arm around her shoulders, checking again on her odd expression. He felt like he was missing something, but honestly, this wasn't very unusual when he was around Aimee. Although he himself possessed powers that affected his own mind and that of the subject, he could never understand how she felt or how the power worked, so he could only assume that it was better to just go along and let her rest. "Aimee, Jesus. You look awful. What happened back there? Did you hurt yourself?"

As much as he wished to hold her quietly until she felt better, the peace was clearly disrupted sooner than anyone expected. Carr noticed the cheering and haunting silence before the actual fight. He stared at all the blood-thirsty, excited faces before his gaze landed on the dark figure of Daniel Ahn, his face calm and ethereal against the light produced by the flames, going at Cameron. A few steps away from him, Rebecca Sayre and Nina Romanov stood quietly, staring at the fight from the best seats in the house without any sign they meant to interfere in anyway. Anthony watched in awe, forgetting for a moment that Aimee rested under his arm. As Daniel held Cameron to the ground and tension increased all around, Carr spotted Erin and Lane, moving amongst the frozen crowd like a fish swimming through a still stream. Although a little bothered by Lane's presence - again, nothing personal, but Carr felt like there were already enough strangers around - he gestured widely while still holding on to Aimee in an attempt to catch they're attention which, strangely, wasn't focused on what appeared to be the event of the night. As they approached, he thirstily sipped at his drink, anxious and impatient.

"Erin, hey!" he shouted when they came closer, than lowered his voice to a kind of loud whisper "Did you see it? What's going on?" Staring back at Aimee, he felt a little guilty for not paying more attention, so he turned to her with a soft smile "You feeling any better, cookie?"





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Sitting on the soft grass, staring at the sky, Becky had been lost in thought. A few Influentials sat around her, chatting cheerfully and singing, even whispering into each other's ears, but when asked a question, she would simply nod and concur with a soft "sure". In her mind, she counted the stars, one by one, and gave them the names of people she had known. Nina was the brightest, biggest one, of course, although her favorite was reserved for her own name. That stare was surely the first one people would look at, always, but it was far away from all others. Around it, a large pitch black piece of sky. Maybe, she would overshine all other stars if they came any closer. A little to the left, there was a smaller one that looked like a hole poked through the sky. That was Daniel, stiff and distinguished, she thought with a smile. Still further away from all the stars than he was to star Nina. The seconds most bright, which was kind of irregular, her roommate Erin. And that pinkish flick of light in the corner was Keevan. It was different from all the stars, but you could only tell if you looked hard, cause it was so close to all of them.

She was staring at it when she felt Nina’s soft lips brush against her skin. ”Hey girl. I’ve been waiting for you for ages. Come here.” She got up gracefully and accompanied Nina’s sensual movements. She heard the commotion around them and felt the stares, but they were almost like a soft blow to her ear as she allowed her right hand to snake around Nina’s hip, caressing her skin with the tips of her fingers. Becky wasn’t one to ever feel sexuality attracted to anyone, really, but Nina’s voice sent a chill down her spine and made her stomach turn. She opened her mouth to say a few words but, before she could, Nina was suddenly yanked away. As Cameron held her instead, she had a sinking feeling in her chest and stood there a bit confused, but when his hand grabbed Nina’s wrist, her eyes widened and she took a step forward. This… This isn’t suppose to happen. Daniel should be here. Someone do something. Disgusting. God everyone’s looking let her go het thoughts were confusing and she felt a mixture of fear for Nina, shame for Cameron and pity for herself This… this is bad. In that exact moment, Daniel showed up she launched forward, holding Nina by the shoulders as Cameron was pushed away from her. ”Fucking asshole. Look at how pathetic he is. Gosh, so gross. her words were honest, to her eyes, no matter how she felt about Nina or Daniel, Cameron was a vermin and honestly, maybe he should die. It made her sick.

While she watched the fight, her eye caught Keevan on the other side of the circle that formed around the four of them. She stared at him blankly for a moment before realizing what he was signalizing. She wrapped only one arm to Nina’s, looking at her to make sure she wasn’t looking, and checked her phone discretely with her free hand. The text made her heart stop. She had completely forgotten about the dance, and was astonished by the fact Keevan - or anyone, for that matter - hadn’t. It should start in about five minutes and, as Becky did every year, she had secretly hoped to be invited to dance by someone completely new and exciting who would sweep her off her feet. Apparently, she had Keevan. Didn’t he realize how indiscrete this would be? How she simply couldn’t go ahead and ask him to dance, in the position they were in? But the message was clear. She had no choice. And honestly, it didn’t really seem… That bad. She kept her head down and lifted his eyes at him. A smile that was a mixture of sarcasm and tease crossed her lips, one that anyone would mistake for sadism upon watching Daniel wait for Nina’s orders. This was what Becky did. The face she wore should, at all times, fit all purposes.

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: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Rebecca Sayre Character Portrait: Lane Blackwell Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Anthony Carraway Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Keevan Brennan

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#, as written by Saerith
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After offering Aimee a wide smile, showing how glad he was she could still be her normal, sarcastic self, he quickly finished his second drink and got up with the intention of getting her whatever food he could find and properly greeting Erin. However, as soon as he was off his chair, blue, red, green beautiful light bursted into the sky violently like ravenous dragons. Anthony’s smile became even broader and he let out a small sigh. He had always found fireworks absolutely magical, and watching them from the actual fire, instead of his dorm window, was even more fascinating than he could have ever thought. They filled his mind with happy, warm thoughts about home and his mother, and he suddenly felt a need to hold his few, loving friends. His arm wrapped around Erin’s and he turned to Lane, trying to get the words in his mind to come out properly.

“Actually, Lane, uhm ah… Would you… I wanted to dance a little, so… I mean, would you mind terribly grabbing something for… Aimee still doesn’t feel very well. I can come back in a second.” Carr felt like his tongue felt weird inside his mouth as he spoke, and just hoped desperately that Lane would somehow get the message out of his incoherent mumbling. Then, he looked at Erin like a small boy looks at a shiny new toy. “Can we dance? I’m kinda nervous, but I think it’ll be fun. Can we?”

He didn’t really wait for a confirmation and simply dragged Erin closer and closer to the fire, waving at the other two girls, until they stoop right in the concentration of couples swaying gently to the music. Carr awkwardly held Erin like he supposed people did when they danced and looked around, trying to mimic other people’s movements as they spun around them. He modestly sticked to basic steps, putting all his effort into not stepping in Erin’s feet. “So, tell me. Am I suppose to believe you, missy, of all people, isn’t the least bit curious about that fight? It was a really bad fight, I saw it. Daniel Ahn was about to bash that guy’s head in.” His voice had a mixture of fright and anxiety. He just knew that, even if Erin didn’t know a thing about it, she’d wanna find out.





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Becky looked around, almost as to ensure safe territory for her to approach Keevan. It didn’t take much for her, or anyone really, to notice Daniel’s meaningful gaze towards Nina as the crowd slowly disperses, and Rebecca smiles at the sight. There was a ironic humor about approaching her lips to the Queen’s right ear as Daniel would do as she whispered ”Your savior awaits, Your Highness.” She gave one last squeeze to the girl’s shoulder and walked away slowly, following both her so called friends with her eyes until they no longer seemed to notice her presence, distracted by one another. She finds Keevan again, and this time, she doesn’t smiles. He stands on the other side holding a grin to his lips, and she stares back with an eyebrow raised before walking in his direction, swaying her hips and adjusting a strand of hair, which partially covered her face, behind her right ear. Pausing one step away from him, she raised her hand in a rather snobbish gesture, offering him her hand as if she was gifting him with a precious, delicate diamond.

“Would you do yourself the honor of accompanying me to the dance, Mister Brennan?” She asked in a tone that was nothing but gentle. Once their hands touch, Becky tries to hold back a smile and keep her expression of debauchery. His hand was warm and there were calluses in his fingers. She had always pictured him with his laptop, typing furiously the lines that could destroy the finest of reputations within minutes, but sometimes actually forgot he was an actual writer, and a new image of Keevan, laying in bed with paper, pen, and a entire world of his own creation replaced the other one she had in mind. ”You really are like that one tiny pinkish star. Except you’re kind of crazy, or stupid. Did you really think me asking you to dance is the type of thing that wouldn’t end up in the Breadbowl?” She didn’t take her eyes off of him for one seconds while leading him determinedly further away from the fire, at the very darkest stop where people were still dancing. It was a bit cold, and with the short dress she wore, Becky could feel the summer breeze caress her skin, but at least it was harder to be seen away from the light. At that moment, the fireworks went off above them, causing Rebecca to look up. How beautiful she thought, as a thousand colors filled her eyes and how useless. I’ll never be like that. Then, after the loud cracking sounds ceased, she noticed the music also sounded softer and more clear without all the talking, so they could easily understand each other.

”You intrigue me, sugar. I hope you really are expecting to take my mind off things, because I haven’t seen Nina all day, so I’ve got nothing.” She spoke a bit harshly while sliding both her hands along Keevan’s shoulders until she reached the base of his nape. It was hard to tell if she was mad or content about his attitude, but truth is even she was torn between wanting to please the man who held all secrets that could destroy her in one hand and actually being concerned by being seen with him. She knew, however, it was better to be gentle while with him. Honestly, it was easier too.

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: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Rebecca Sayre Character Portrait: Lane Blackwell Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Anthony Carraway Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Keevan Brennan

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Anthony is definitely tipsy at the very least. Erin had seen that he had a drink in his hand, and had guessed he might be buzzed, but the clumsiness of his tongue and a slight unevenness of foot when he stood to greet her makes it clear that her supposings were well-founded. Perhaps he felt it necessary in order to get through the night- Erin is pleasantly surprised he had elected to come at all, given how he rejected her urgings last year and the year before. So long as she is there to make sure he doesn't do anything too stupid -the irony of this thought lost on her warmed mind- Carr deserves a night of letting loose. So when he wraps his arm around hers and asks Lane if he can dance with Erin, the young woman easily joins in with an apologetic smile and a returned wrapping her arm around Anthony's, such that they are now linked. This close now, she can smell the alcohol on his breath. She is rather certain that he will be a warm fuzzy sort of drunk.

Erin finds Anthony adorable, in the way that she finds most of her friends to be absolutely delightful. The bashfulness as he asks to dance with her only adds to this. Her face lights up, matching the fire for luminescence with her beam. "It would be my very greatest honor," she responds, the last part of the sentence breaking with laughter as she follows Anthony towards the bonfire. She turns back and waves at Lane, mouthing a promise to dance with her later. Naturally, the girl is completely oblivious to the rather awkward situation she and Carr have left behind them.

His steps are careful, somewhat endearingly so, though Erin can't really criticize them- she herself is not exactly a graceful gazelle. Certainly, the girl has nimble hands, but her best dancing is that which is random, goofy, and certainly not meant to be taken seriously or mistaken as an attempt at elegance. Nina had always been the graceful one, while Erin jokingly twirled and spent hours trying to master the moonwalk. She is happy to just sway with her friend, making goofy faces and resisting the urge to bump into other couples like a bumper car.

"So, tell me. Am I suppose to believe you, missy, of all people, isn’t the least bit curious about that fight? It was a really bad fight, I saw it. Daniel Ahn was about to bash that guy’s head in." She ignores the question at first, leading Carr into a spin as the lead usually does the follow. It gives her time to assemble any proper response on the matter. That being said, factory made responses have never been the young woman's specialty. She makes the prototype, flawed and personal. Erin is easily hurt not because she is overly sensitive, but because she is easily taken hold of.

"Why should I care what Daniel and Nin- what Daniel and his kind are doing? Probably tormenting some poor innocent chap for scuffing his Prada shoes or something," She is beginning to become dizzy, despite the fact that they haven't really spun at all. Maybe it isn't the dancing doing it- the girl can normally twirl for days without getting sick. Her feigned apathy is transparent, almost pathetically so.

"Anyway, have anyone cute you want to talk to tonight? Now that you have the liquid confidence and an expert wingman?" It seems Erin has taken it into her mind tonight, probably due in some part to her drink, to help at least one friend have a summer romance. Too many 80s movies today might also have a portion of the blame.

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Keevan struggles to keep his expression neutral as Rebecca nears him. This would be incredibly dangerous territory for anyone less gifted at keeping up a farce than the novelist himself. After all, to a writer the truth is more easily stated between lines. And she is not close enough to read the truths between the way his eyes crinkle when he grins. She won't be for a while- not according to his estimations, anyway. Still, when she offers him her hand, every bit a duchess, and offers him the honor of it, the young man cannot help but to let a peek of a smile out of the corner of his mouth. He takes it, and in play with the bit, brushes his lips past her knuckles, every bit the gentleman with his arm crossed over his torso accordingly. "Oh, the honor is all yours, good madam," he murmurs, before looking up at her and winking.

He hardly even minds as she leads him away from the light, to dance in some shady secluded corner. In fact, the gutsiness of it amuses him, though perhaps the fact that stealing away to a shadowed area is more scandalous than dancing in a lit one is lost on her. He's not certain what she's speaking on, in regards to stars and whatnot, but does not move his eyes from hers throughout the conversation. When she has paused once more, he laughs, "And you and I running off to a nice dark corner isn't? My my, miss Sayre, this goes beyond my modest hope of dancing with you," he says this jokingly, of course, but still is intensely aware of the warmth in her hands as she wraps them around his neck for the dance.

He doesn't know how much of what she does is for fear of him releasing her secrets, but suspects it is all of it. The young woman apparently has very little indication that she holds far more sway over him than he, with all of his secrets, does over her. Perhaps it is best that way- should she realize, she might not stand so close to him. It is through his manipulation and deception that he may stand here with her, after all. Perhaps she will not dance with him in the light, but all things considered it is most appropriate for them to remain obscured by the dark. It suits their relationship painfully well, a parallel not lost on a boy who has made his name in language and literature.

He does not make any movements towards her, content to banter and sway in the shadows, to be a chore she must get done in order to keep everything running smoothly.

What a sad little writer.

Characters Present

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

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#, 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

0.00 INK

#, 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: Daniel Ahn Character Portrait: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Christine Garner Character Portrait: Sterling Walker Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Anthony Carraway

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#, as written by Layla
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XXX
XXX
      XXX
      XXX"If I may have the honor, Miss Romanov?" Daniel asks. He keeps his distance despite being pressed against Nina's body. Somehow he manages to disregard the proximity and seem like he's poised in the other room, layers of mortar and brick wedged between them. It frustrates Nina in a way it hasn't before. Or perhaps it has always aggravated her.
      XXXNever has a man been so immune to her charms. It doesn't make sense. She'd wondered for a time if he might be gay, although it was always out of curiosity rather than for her own peace of mind. She'd never seen him in that way. She'd never seen anyone that way. Not since... Not since that night.
      XXXWhy would he want you? the voice hisses.
      XXXHer hand tightens involuntarily against Daniel's shoulder. She flinches at the way he seems to retreat from her advances - albeit subtlety - and his deadpan expression no matter how erotically she moves to the music. She feels the eyes on them, on her, roving along the curves and lines of her body like hungry vultures. Still Daniel looks at her as he might a necklace or a watch.
      XXXNina lifts her chin and stares at Daniel head on. She studies the dark brown of his eyes and something in them riles in her a fierce determination. Shut up, she tells the voice mocking her. The corners of her lips lift in a smile and her lashes drop in a deceptively timid gesture.
      XXX"Daniel," she murmurs against his neck. His name rolls from her tongue like smoke from a cigarette, heady with something rich but wispy in the way smoke is. Untouchable. Fleeting. Hidden beneath her normally minty breath - from an excessively obsessive grooming routine - is the muted warmth of alcohol, the musty hint of smoke and the sharp tang of something that is difficult to place, though certainly illegal.
      XXXHer fingers trail along the curve of Daniel's ear to follow the hard line of his jaw. They're manicured and painted a deep maroon. "For the bodies I have buried them in," she'd told Daniel once.
      XXXHer pupils are dilated as she looks into Daniel's eyes. They chase away the pale aqua of her irises. They are a shade so light, they almost seem colourless. In contrast, Daniel's are so dark, they could be black. Instead of being windows to his soul, they reflect only the person who sees into them. Always turning his enemies against themselves. It's a gift Nina appreciates when he's the General of her army. Not so much when what she needs is a friend a confidant.
      XXX"Daniel," she whispers, a tinge of desperation in the faint Russian lilt of her voice. As if saying his name again and again might make the man himself easier to understand. Her lips are inches from his. "See me."
      XXXThe whirl of a familiar blonde head jerks Nina's head. She stares at Erin's twirling form as a boy with light, messy hair spins her around. Anthony Carraway. 16. Powerful. The information comes to her mind automatically and already her mind whirls with plots and plans to destroy, destroy, destroy.
      XXXShe kept the Queen at bay for all of two minutes.
      XXXNina clenches her teeth and forces her gaze away from Erin. But in the other direction, she sees Sterling. His lips are pressed to a girl's shoulder. Christine Garner. 16. Powerful. One of his own kind. A strand of platinum blonde hair falls into his eyes in a way she used to love. The world swims. Tilts. She wrenches her eyes away, fuming, shaking, eyes wild and throat dry. Desperate for the burn of alcohol and the sting of a rolled joint. But most of all, her skin itches. Tingles. She buries her nails in her palms.
      XXXSomething else. Anything else.
      XXX"He knew my name," she says, her voice cold and devoid of inflection. She jerks her head in the direction of the way they left. "The boy who spoke Korean." She doesn't mention that he also spoke Russian. She only looks over Daniel's shoulder, not meeting his gaze. "Suppose it isn't unusual." Nina smiles, but it doesn't reach her eyes. "Should I be flattered?"