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Rebecca Sayre

"Money is such a funny thing, don't you think?"

0 · 880 views · located in Laurea, New York

a character in “Laurel”, as played by Saerith

Description



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{ "Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world" }



Name
Rebecca Adelaide Sayre
"It's Becky. Seriously."

Age & Grade
Seventeen, she's a rising senior
"Sweetie, respect your elders."

Number of Years at Laurel
Twelve

Sexual Orientation
Pansexual | Polyromantic
"Whatever. Just buy me stuff."

Group
Influential

Family Industry
Mining. Her family own the largest copper mine in the world.




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ImageImageStrengths
"What can I say? Some people are just born with it"
Intelligent Hard working Driven Confident Is very skilled for making people feel better - or worse - about themselves Dancing Keeping secrets Great liar Seductive Though she is very good at lying, she doesn't do it much, Becky's pretty honest Secretly a hopeless romantic

Weaknesses
"Yeah, even I'm not perfect."
✦ Couldn't play an instrument, write poetry or draw a picture if her life depended on it ✦ Arrogant ✦ Selfish ✦ Stubborn ✦ Spoiled ✦ Antipathetic ✦ Naïve ✦ Over-trusting ✦ Irresponsible ✦ Usually thinks she knows a lot more and feels a lot better than she actually does ✦ Needy, though usually distant ✦ Perfectionist ✦ Falls in and out of love very quickly

Quirks
She used to bite on her lips a lot, so she carries lip balm everywhere People with very dark eyes unsettle her Can't smell anything very well Allergic to most sea food Never removes her makeup, which mean her face is always smudged in the mornings The nickname "copper", used when she was little, is her all time favorite Is a low level NPD (narcissistic personality disorder) Can't pass anything that reflects without stopping to fix her hair

Fears
✧ Not achieving anything of importance ✧ Being lonely ✧ Never sticking to loving anyone ✧ Fire arms ✧ Dark streets ✧ Driving

Secrets
Her mother cheats on her father, regularly. She is the only one who knows and never told because she's afraid her father will resent her. When she was young, she was held at gunpoint. Though the money the robbers took didn't even stand for 0.1% of what they had, this affected Becky deeply.




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ImageImagePersonality
{ Selfish, Over-trusting, Seductive, Driven }
Have you ever heard the phrase “don't judge a book by it’s cover”? Well, it certainly does not apply to Becky. Her rich taste in clothing, her luminous blue eyes and her constantly held up hight blond head actually give a first impression that very much matches her personality. Even though the copper business is just a little older than her, her family has been knows to keep their social status through the most diverse means over generations, so that to say Becky is old money and has a completely distorted notion of what reality is is an understatement. She is used to getting things her own way, so this is what she usually insists on, and is certainly not accustomed to being denied anything. Basically, she’s a spoiled bitch. All the things and attention she got as a child is probably what influenced her NPD, which is light, but still there. She has a strong sense of superiority over others, and is chocked when people fail to see it. She believes she is special and, so, will certainly do something special with her life. Contrary to what it may sound like, she isn’t unfriendly or rude to anyone, even if she considers them inferior; actually, this is usually her favorite type of person. She likes to take people with less money or beauty than her own and turn them into her little “projects”, she is sure she can change everyone to a better self with her lovely influence. Although she is actually good at getting what she wants - it has always come very naturally for her, since she has watched her parents do it all their lives - she finds seduction is the easiest way. People already have difficulty not staring or not stuttering when talking to her, so giving them a little more than the usual attention is more than enough to get them doing whatever. It doesn’t concerne her she has to do this, because honestly, she would do most things to get what she wants. But there’s another side, a softer side to Becky. Whenever she first meets someone who seems to fulfill her standards, she will fall for them. This has happened a million times and will happen a million more. She is a hopeless romantic, and actually believes in the notion of soulmates. However, she always quickly loses interest upon coming to the conclusion that this one still isn’t good enough for her.




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ImageImageLikes
|| Dancing || Talking about herself || Shopping || Mathematic and Physics || Doing makeovers || Makeup || Shy people || Finishing projects || Dimples || Blue eyes || Stargazing || Jazz music || Hard workers || Birthdays (hers and others) || Bubble baths || Short-haired girls || Money, lots of it || Spicy food || Sweets || Big cars || History || Tea || South-american culture || Jewelry || Alcohol (mostly fermented beverages) || Being stared at



ImageImageDislikes
|| Being told "no" || Her mother || Rock music || Sour candy || Failing or being forced to give up || Being ignored || Arrogant people || Lazy people || Rudeness || Not being allowed to do something or go somewhere || Prudes || Motorcycles || Guns || Mornings, especially winter mornings || Small cars || Becoming old || Shrimp || Yellow and Green || Rodents || Dark eyes || Bulky people




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There really isn’t much to say about Becky’s life. Since she was a child, nothing has really changed all that much. She was born into a family who has had a strong leadership in many industries throughout time, and that was no different with her parent. Owners of the largest copper mine in the world, located in the Atacama Desert, in Chile and heirs to great fortunes, her parents have always been able to give her the best of the best and still spend a decent amount of time with her. Being also people who were raised rich and spoiled, however, one could argue they didn’t have the best parenting skills. However cold and cruel her fathers was in the business world, she was the apple of his eye, and he would try and make her happy at every opportunity. That basically meant paying for every single thing she wanted and even for what she didn’t, but he also enjoyed taking her on his luxurious trips and teaching her about history and his business. Her mother, on the other hand, was one of the least maternal people she has ever known. She would constantly try to get her attention, but all she really cared about was jewelry and money. She absolutely despised babies and children, and her daughter was no exception, she wanted nothing to do with all the mess they made, so she’d always push Becky to the several babysitters and nannies she hired. She was alone with one of those nannies when a group of professional robbers broke into her house. Holding all the servants and Becky hostage, those people took most of the house’s precious items such as paintings, crystals, etc. It wasn’t a real big deal money wise, but since then the girl has been terrified of weapons.
As she grew up, the pampers from her father and watching her mothers behavior led her to become a rather superficial teenager. Her biggest concerns as a young teen always had to do with her appearance or social events but, in Becky’s eyes, that even had a positive effect; as she grew more careful about her looks and manners, her mother, starting to recognize a bit of herself in her and they connected, which only made Becky even more selfish and self-centered. One night, as she came back from a party with her boyfriend at the time, she saw male clothes scattered around the house, and though her dad had comeback early from his trip. As she climbed the stair, however, she found this was clearly not the case.
”You wouldn’t tell anyone, right, sweetie? It’s gonna be our little secret, just between us girls” her mother had told her, and as much as she wanted her dad to end every sort of relationship he still had with that woman, she didn’t have the heart to ever tell him. Since than, she has completely stopped all interaction with her mother and spends summers at Laurel so she doesn’t have to see her. Inside Laurel, there is really nothing she could complain about: the teachers have always adored her for her good grades and handsome donations, she always gets invited to the most expensive, important social event and is admired for her beauty amongst students. However, she misses her father a lot. She wants to make him proud, and the pressure to follow the family’s path is intense.
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Played By:
Saerith

Dialogue Color:
#EDBDBD

Face Claim:
Lindsay Ellingson

So begins...

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

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

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

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





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

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

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

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

Characters Present

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

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#, as written by Layla
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      XXX

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


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      XXX

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

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

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


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

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

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Daniel Ahn Character Portrait: 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: 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 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: 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: 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: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Rebecca Sayre Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Anthony Carraway Character Portrait: Keevan Brennan

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As Erin spins him around, Carr laughs and his laugh drags, more high pitched than his usual timid chuckle. He hadn’t drank so much, but also wasn’t very used to the effects of alcohol, so while he could still - kind of - lead Erin in a modest dance, his feet actually felt quite heavy and lowering his head in Erin’s direction actually felt a lot easier than lifting it to look ahead. But most of all, he felt calmer. He couldn’t place what had changed, but his nervousness and anxiety had almost completely vanished, so know he was nothing but contempt to spin around with his friend.

Erin wasn’t a good liar, never had been. Having her face so close to his, and knowing her like he did, it didn’t take a seconds for Anthony to realize, once more, the girl was hiding something from him. Maybe she actually had no idea what happened, but certainly the thought disturbed her more than she let it show. Then again, Anthony could not be the smartest guy around, but even he could tell it wouldn’t do any good to keep pushing her to say something. He smiled brightly “Yeah, you’re right. Forget it.” It would be better, he decided, to just get her mind off of it, and if she felt like it, she would say something whenever. Hearing her seconds question, his smile diminished into one of discomfort and his cheeks blushed slightly, a barely noticeable shade darker than the one alcohol had painted them. “Nah, not really. Plus, I don’t think there’s enough liquid confidence that’ll get me talking to these people. Teenagers are scary, Erin” He said quite seriously, before pouting, and laughing once again while jokingly spinning Erin multiple times. Becoming a bit dizzy himself, he proceeded to hold on to Erin a little closer in something that resembled a really uncomfortable, swaying, clumsy hug. “You're not. You're small and… silly.”

However, the question resounded quietly in his head, as if Erin had said it in song. His gaze, lingering behind Erin’s head, examined some couples whose forehead’s touched as they embraced each other, accompanying the soft music. Some laughed and some stared lovingly into each other’s eyes. It made him happy to look at them, and how close they seemed to each other, but he couldn’t help but wonder how that must feel. He wondered if Erin or Aimee knew, and if it was in anyway possible to explain. He thought, and somehow hoped, it wasn’t. The couple who attracted most attention, and therefore Anthony’s as well, was Daniel Ahn and Nina Romanov, who after the enormous scene, now seemed to mind nothing, to be surrounded by tranquility and indifference.

Than, suddenly, a pair of blue, almost transparent eyes catch his own. Almost instantly Anthony shifts his gaze, directing it at the fire. It felt as if her gaze could physically harm him, pierce through him, shred him to pieces. No, that was not it. Frostbite. That’s what it felt like. His breathing turned faster as he struggled to not look again and check if Nina still had his gaze on him. There was nothing he wanted more than to actually run and hide at that instant. Of all people he could have attracted attention from, this was the worse possible option imaginable. He looked at Erin’s face again in an attempt to distract his thoughts. “You… How about you? You shouldn’t waste your good looks on me and Lane, you know?”





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At his question, she can’t help but smile a bit. Perhaps he was right and this was more risky than actually dancing in the light, but if she would be the one to have to catch the curious glares and hear the intrigued whispers the next day, she wanted the words whispered to be, at the very least, enticing. They could call her all the profanities they thought suited, but she wouldn’t let herself be called uninteresting for once, that’s for sure. And anyway, they had left right when everyone was way to distracted by Nina’s scandal. Being out of the spotlight, losing it to Nina, she must admit, did have it’s advantages. “Well” She laughed close to his ear, letting her sweet breath reach his skin. “If there are going to be rumors about us, let them be juicy, right?”

This type of rumor wasn’t one that Becky minded at all. She had no reason to. She had always cared a lot about what her people had to say about her looks, about her future and her family. About they’re money or they’re business. This were all things she had masterfully made sure she had under control and could very easily convince otherwise whoever criticized them. But in the sexual reputation department, as long as there wasn’t gossip that could affect her position as part of Laurel’s royalty, there were no concerns. Rebecca was a virgin, and had absolutely no intention of changing this for a long time, not before she could find her prince charming. She distanced herself a little from Keevan and examined him discretely. And this she thought is definitely not it.

From there, she gently let her head rest on his shoulder. If this was something she had to do, at least she could get some rest out of it. He felt warm and the slow swaying and gentle darkness made her eyelids heavy and her breath, calmer. Her mind was fixated on the fight a few minutes before. The harsh movement Cameron had made in Nina’s direction and Daniel’s strength seemed like an odd fantasy, everything had went down so fast, and it was such an improbable situation that she had a hard time wrapping her mind around it. And although she didn’t exactly feel bad for Nina - she had a feeling this would soon be forgotten and never talked about again within her circle - this was probably the first time she had not been jealous of all the attention Nina received. The way that guy touched her, her lips in her neck… It made her sick in every way. But Daniel had been rather sweet, she thought, with a sleepy smile forming over her pinkish, sparkling lips. Lifting her head from where it rested for just one moment, she looked into Keevan’s eyes, but really seemed to look thought him, at something far more distant.

“Cameron Hillcock is a disgusting brat. Whatever you wright tonight, remember that.” By making her voice a bit more severe than it usually were, although not completely serious, her intention was to leave clear her feeling was not that of sympathy, but of repulse.

Characters Present

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

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

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

"See me."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

Characters Present

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

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

Characters Present

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

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People coalesce like pools of ink dispersing through water. Scattering. Tangling. Clarity giving way to murkiness. Nina floats like a stream of glitter through their depths, winding through but never dissolving into the mass. The wind sinks its fingers through her hair as she spins, head tossed back in laughter. It is the sound of sirens and breaking glass.

She'd moved away from Daniel after their first and only dance, saying nothing in response to the poetry that slipped through lips that have always been slow to smile. Beautiful words. But that's all they were and all they might ever be. Beautiful words from a beautiful man who spins gold from straw, truth from deceit. She is a puppeteer that has never laid eyes upon her own stage. What does she know of Daniel Ahn but the sheen of his armour and the glint of his sword? Who will she find when she lifts the helmet from him? It is his nature to know all secrets and Nina has too many to risk.

Her civilians calls for her demise. "Shots, shots, shots!" they chant. To my head or my chest? she muses. Nina grins, devouring the row of tequila shots as if she's drinking water. The alcohol fills the cavern in her chest like molten lava.

Colors blur, rippling into a swirl of movement as her body sways. A hand on her hip. Lips pressed against her neck. The warmth and cold of meaningless companionship. They tug and push until she's standing at the edge of the lake, the music a distant echo. Her head throbs to the bass and her body sways to the melody. She hums under her breath and tips her head back. The stars sway and her body decides it's been too long since its last collapse. She lets herself fall back.

It is for the royalty to revel and make merry, to put on a show in which gilded elegance merges with a chaotic sort of fun and creates the image of a court of careless fae, such that others may watch and wonder how they can be so drunk and still look so good. It is for the Royalty to dance and sing on an evening so fine as this one, to bask in a moon so full that it mirrors their own radiance.

It is not for Daniel. Daniel, who so treasures the firm grasp he has on his mind, whose greatest strength his his constant (or near constant) clarity, refuses to take part in alcohol. He will remain sober throughout their solemnity. One or two, emboldened by liquid courage, stumble up and offer him a drink, or chide him for being a 'party pooper,' but all are sent away with a raised eyebrow and a slight raise of a cup that holds nothing more toxic than a few ounces of soda. Even this is something he usually ignores, soda, knowing them to be bad for you. Perhaps this is as loose as Daniel is willing to let himself become.

The Queen, however, is far more willing to celebrate. Under the influence of drinks and an encouraging crowd she takes one shot after another. Daniel does not consider it his place to stop her, but all the same hates to see her taking orders from people and losing hold of the normal sharpness of her mind.

He is briefly distracted by another person, encouraging him to take another drink. When he has brushed them away, he notices with a brief moment of panic that Nina has vanished. Several questions direct him closer to the lake. Please don't be thinking of a swim, he is rushing towards the lake. He has lost before to the influence of alcohol and drugs, and for not the first time tonight Daniel's heart is racing with the thought of it happening again.

But she is there, swaying in the moonlight as if to challenge Diana herself to a battle of beauty. His heartbeat shudders and calms, panic passing as his pace slows and he walks towards her, all traces of panic sliding off of him as rain off an umbrella. And then she falls.

Daniel lurches forward to catch her, goddess fallen.

For a moment he merely stands there, adjusting such that she is held bridal style in his arms. The weight to her is bizarre, making her more corporeal, rather than just the usual brief touch and kiss on the cheek. More human. He does not like it.

The sound of a firecracker, probably brought by one of the students, reminds Daniel of his whereabouts. He is by the lake, by the fire, by the dorms. He needs to get Nina back to her room. Without much thought he knows to avoid the fire, knows to avoid letting people say Nina passed out. As far as they are concerned she is capable of getting raving drunk and then disappearing with the moon, her eternal drinking buddy.

But Nina's door is locked and Daniel doesn't have a key. For a moment he stands there, boy interrupted. Of course there is really only the one solution- and luckily Daniel's roommate is nonexistent due to some pulled strings. He shifts her weight over to one arm, and walks over to his own room, managing to unlock the door and enter. It is dark, leaving the two of them to be one shadow molded together until his eyes adjust. He finds the concept interesting, but cannot grasp why.

He stretches her out on his bed and pulls over the blankets, previously having been tucked in with military precision. A cup of water by her bed, an alarm set for classes the next day. Daniel makes accommodations as befits his position: he takes the chair by her side, and makes do.


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Time skip
It is now 8am. During the Summertime, classes do not begin until 9:30 am, so students can sleep in a bit and still have time for breakfast. Due to the nature of the summer session, one much like a summer camp, classes are as scheduled:

-Elective (Shop Class (Works both with cars and carpentry), Choir, Orchestra, Band, Art, Theater, Speech & Debate, Computer Science, Creative Writing, Political Science, Guest Lecture, Marketing)
- Physical Period (Archery, Swimming, Canoeing, Gymnastics, Self Defense/MMA, Basketball, Soccer, Jogging, Dance) [Basically a free period, students must sign into the class they are taking]
- Lunch
- Elective (One of Listed)

Each segment is one hour long, such that the school day begins at 9:30 and ends at 1:30

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Rebecca Sayre Character Portrait: Lane Blackwell

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8AM came a lot faster than Lane had hoped when the sound of her alarm filled the room. Irritated, she rolls over and switches it off while moaning through out the process. The sun is peaking in from behind the curtains, which failed to be closed shut all the way the night before. A yellow orange glow lays across the blankets, warming the bed and the room. Lane opens her eyes, hung over, only slightly. She always believed something she had inherent from her birth parents was their quick alcohol recovery Boy if only, they could see me now. I bet they'd stop sending these letters... Lane looks over the side of her bed to see that 2 of the unopened letters had fallen out her pillow. She reaches for them and slides closer to the edge of her bed. Balance fails her and she falls to the ground with a loud thump. "Ouch." Lane mumbling, shoving the paper back into her pillow. She stands up, her eyes kept open only enough to see where she is going. A shower is her first thought, breakfast a close second.

1 shower, a pair of Keds, Jean shorts, and a light blue v-neck tee, later, Lane has clicked her door shut. She's heading towards the cafeteria, but first stops to bang her hand a few times on Erin's door. Erin should be up by now but always seemed to take longer. Maybe it was because of her long blonde hair that required up keep as to Lane who put little to no effort into her own short dark head of hair.
"Erin meet me in the cafeteria I'm saving you a seat!" She says loud enough for her voice to travel through the door, probably, but hopefully not, waking Erin's roommate, Becky.

As Lane reaches the cafeteria she try's to recall the night before and all the antics that took place. She clearly remembers Aimee abandoning her on the bench, dancing with Erin, and watching Nina take shots. Apart from this though, nothing else comes to mind. Lane grabs a muffin from the line and pays for it quickly before joining some of her gifted friends. She places her feet over the chair beside hers, claiming it for Erin.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Rebecca Sayre Character Portrait: Sterling Walker Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Keevan Brennan

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Every morning, Erin hates herself for that damn alarm clock she made freshman year. She's rather certain that her roommates every year aren't exactly fond of her for it either, truth be told. In an attempt to keep herself from oversleeping, which in middle school became a serious problem for the young woman thanks to her tendency to stay up far too late working, she built herself a trinket that zips about the room blaring folk punk (not due to a dislike for folk punk but because it never fails to wake her up) and she must walk over to her closet to solve a riddle and turn it off, wherever it is. Sure, moving alarm clocks already exist, but this was made more in the interest of expense than innovation- she didn't feel like buying one already made.

Today, the creator loathes her creature all the more for the ringing it adds to her pulsing headache. In the end, Erin had a few more drinks than planned the night before thanks to various things, and her body is less than pleased with her. She almost hates Lane for the girl's almost instant rebound from these things, for that gift is not in Erin's arsenal, and she is feeling it quite heavily now. She rolls out of bed, accidentally steps on the machine, and nearly falls straight on her face due to it. "Eech," she lets out a little squeak of pain but tries to muffle it. Her walk to the alarm has become a hobble, but eventually she is able to turn the damned thing off. I need a hot shower, and like magic, thought becomes reality. The young woman takes a quick shower, which for her is still rather long because she is an avid fan of hot showers, taking her time to enjoy the warmth. The steam from the heat helps clear her mind to some extent, though the heat threatens to make her drowsy once more. So she allows a quick burst of ice water before hopping out, covered in goosebumps and rushing to towel dry her hair.

She feels better now, and is trying to remember the events of last night. Laughing with Lane, dancing with Carr- as the memories come back she is happier for them. Stifling a yawn she returns to the dorm room and changes into clothing. While doing so she notices a broken toy like thing in the chair next to her bed. Her heart breaks slightly- she had been making keychain cameras to give to her friends, but apparently sat on the prototype. This morning is just a prototype, she reassures herself, but still cannot bring herself to pick up the pieces at the moment, as if a shoe elf will magically fix them by the time she returns in the afternoon. A girl can dream.

Sliding on her sunglasses in a headband position, a staple accessory, the young woman leaves her dorm and heads down the hallway. She spots a familiar face leaning against the wall and starts to raise her hand in greeting before freezing.

"Erin, I slept with Aimee Hart."

Erin's hand drops, and her reaction to this memory is painfully clear across her less than subtle facial expressions. It is a sudden quick drop of the mouth, a flash of confusion, panic, and then a desperate attempt to fold everything back into the neat container they fell out of. She tries to walk on as if nothing had happened, hoping Aimee wouldn't notice that she had started any greeting at all. Erin knows that if questioned, her excuses won't be sufficient. Best to avoid the situation entirely.

Silly girl.


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The Breadbowl
Well, last night was certainly a hoot, wasn't it Laurel?

The Queen went into play without her knight in sight for protection, and boy did things go south fast. Big fish in a scum puddle, our very own Cameron Hillcock, did his very best impression of a future (current?) sex offender and leaped in for her neck. As it turns out, breathy slurs are not the way to woo a lady such as Nina Romanov. Things were said, tempers triggered, and then out of the blue our dark knight came into play and did his very best impression of a future murderer. we don't know about you, beloved readers, but never have we seen such a display of pure aggression, and we know no one expected it from the King of Control- even his Queen seemed a bit surprised if we do say so ourselves. If this weren't anonymous we at Breadbowl might fear a visit from that bezerker after this article, but the truth must be written, especially when it's that interesting.

We're told Cameron slept in the infirmary last night and the reason why goes without saying.

And by the way, if any readers have more information on the guy who stepped into the fight, please email us because so far all the staff has managed is that his name is Lucas Long and he might be a polygot. He's certainly got more than a healthy dose of guts, based on the Queen's reaction to him.

But let's return to peace in our times, shall we? The long awaited dance saw the usual couples- Queen and Knight (Although we thought the Queen was a bit more into it than usual tonight- sadly the only grinding Ahn understands is those of the gears that run his soul), William Shasburg and Quinn Lewis (We're hoping to be invited to their wedding), on and off Kendra Hardy and Benjamin Jorg, etc.

But here are the highlights:

Josephine marked today as the first dance in three years not with Mark Brady, despite no information on them having broken up. Trouble in that dukedom, perhaps? There goes the B-list power couple.

We hate to be the messenger, but it looked like Hunter Jordan left early with Josh Ricks- and his other half Steven nowhere in sight. Steven, we'd look into that if we were you.

Did anyone else notice Rebecca Sayre sneak off with some non-influential boy? Laurel's JK Rowling, Keevan Brennan, perhaps has some in we don't know about. Or more likely it was either a pity dance or an attempt to get a sneak peek of the new book.

Justin Lewe and Amy Clougherty disappeared and reappeared looking somewhat flustered, so we're guessing they weren't berry picking in those bushes.

And if you want to know more about Alfred Monk's drunk escapades, we suggest his twitter, because wow is it a show.

Have a beautiful first day of Summer Semester, Laurel. Keep it hot.

xoxo,
The Breadbowl Staff



Keevan shuts his laptop and lets out an impressive yawn. He must have been a snake in another life from the way his jaw practically unhinges. Naturally he had stayed until the night was fully closed, in the interest of staying on the scene. That being said, there had been some helpful tip offs coming in for other details to add in. Looking at the pictures on the blog, the only detail he wants to add right now is food to his stomach. Keevan throws on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt and is off to the races. Well, races being breakfast.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rebecca Sayre Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Anthony Carraway Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Keevan Brennan Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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This… What is this? Something wrong… Can someone… Please. Anthony’s eyes opened just enough for the bluish light of his alarm clock to warn him it was one minute past eight in the morning. The numbers, however, meant nothing to him, and the strange noise emitted by that odd device made his eyes water. Shaking his arm around, he tried to do something about it but only managed to drop it on the floor with a loud metallic noise that caused him to shut his eyes tight, reacting to a excruciating lash of pain just above his temples. Forced to sit down, pick the clock up and turn off the alarm, he remained seated for a seconds or two, unable to move or turn his head. Not only the sharp sting in his head remained after the noise was gone, his stomach seemed to twitch slightly with each one of his moves, causing nausea and a heavy, uncomfortable dizziness that did not at all resembled the one from the night before. His arms hurt like he had just been ran over by a truck. An acid, vile taste clung to his mouth. When he finally felt like he could move slightly without passing out, he laid back down and stared at the ceiling. The room was lit by the distant, ethereal blue light of his clock, and scented by a strong aroma of grass and alcohol.

In a surprisingly organized and harmonic manner, a few images seemed to waltz before his eyes. Aimee proposing a toast, and her eyes glimmered with joy, her soft voice filled with a innocent, youthful excitement. Erin’s blonde hair twirling in front of him, her bright smile as warm and welcoming as the flamboyant bonfire. She remember her approaching Lane. He didn’t follow. He had stolen her away for too long already, so perhaps it was time to gave Lane a little time. He remember looking for Aimee, and he remembered her words echoing in his head when he couldn’t find her. "This, my friend, is the peak of our teenage years!” And the last thing he could remember was drinking more. No Erin, no Aimee, no walking to his room even. Just a enormous gap where the rest of the night should be. No souvenir of it except for the almost unbearable tiredness, the pain, and his clothes, which, filthy with dirt and grass, were now scattered across his room. A certain sense of desperation started filling his mind. What if he had done something stupid? Something people would remember, and he wouldn’t? Worse, what if he had done something bad? And now, there was nothing he could do, really. He should have known this bonfire was a bad idea.

Although his thoughts circled around his mind faster and faster and his incapacity to remember anything made his breath speed up and his eyes even wetter, his lids were to heavy. Before he could conclude even his thoughts about how stupid he had beens, and how could he have left Aimee on her own, sleep found him once again. A dreamless, restful sleep, in which he couldn’t think about the previous events or the dreadful class yet to come. And he would have actually rested all through the day if he hadn’t been woken again, this time by a noise which left him even more stunned. A loud scream. A familiar voice.

Carr stood up quickly - rather too quickly, since his entire dorm room seemed to loop around him and he had to hold on to the door knob for a second. He opened the door carefully, afraid he might bump into whoever or whatever the source of the screaming was. Seeing no one in the hallway, he silently, slowly made his way down the hall, verifying every door on his way was locked. All were, except for the one he hoped was. At the opposite side of the long hall, the door of the room he had spent most of his time in the day before was not only unlocked, but opened. Aimee’s room. By the time Carr reached number 14, his heart was racing and he had to take a deep breath before peeking inside, wanting to make sure none of Aimee’s roommates, who he had yet not discovered who were, were there. “Aim…”

It broke his heart to the point he could feel all the air leaving his lungs. Aimee sat there, on the bed, head in her hands, curling up around herself like a small child. She looked so little and defenseless. This was one of the people he loved most in the world, and there she was, looking defeated and so miserable, while he didn’t even know what this was about, couldn’t even console her. Maybe if he hadn’t left her all of a sudden yesterday, maybe if he hadn’t drank so much and had come by her room in the morning, she wouldn’t be like this. But she was, and her scream now sounded like the saddest thing he could have ever heard. Carr ran into the room and kneeled on the floor in front of her, placing both hand on her knees in an attempt to comfort her in any way he could.

“Hey, hey. Look at me. Are you alright? Cookie, please don’t be sad.” His voice was hoarse and sounded strange, and his eyes were so red and swollen and had such dark circles under them maybe the proximity of his face wasn’t such a good idea, it might actually scare her. Far from where they were, the bell rang, but he ignored it.“C’mon, I can’t just touch you and know it. What happened?”





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Rebecca woke up earlier than usual, and earlier than necessary. Although she hadn’t really drunk all that much, alcohol would do that to her, get her wake and up only a few hours after going to bed. After the first dance, she had spent what seemed like hours dancing closely to Christian Sebek, an Elite student who’s family owned an emerging cosmetics and fashion company. Lying in her bed, she stretched both her arms so her hands were in eyes’ length, and tried to recapture the feeling of his against her palms. He had spun her around gently and whispered meaningless words to her ear. And she, how could it be any different, had smiled pleasantly, chuckled sweetly and danced gracefully amongst the mass of teenagers, but had done nothing more then allow him a kiss in the hand by the end of the fifth song. This was what Rebecca was known for. A tease bitch, a misleader, the patron saint of blue balls, call it what you want, she’s heard it before. Truth is, she didn’t really care. The warmth of his skin felt nice, his voice was soft and tender, and his dancing wasn’t bad, so she had enjoyed it, and than left, like she had meant to.

After that, she drank a bit more while chatting absentmindedly with a few Influentials who seemed eager to hear why on earth she had had the first dance with Keevan instead of Christian. She had laughed and, with a mysterious glare, told them “Well, he has been such a good boy to me, I thought he deserved it.”It was only a little after two when she went to bed, sensing there were no more slow dances or conversations about her ahead. Just before drifting off into a deliciously intoxicated slumber, she grabbed her cellphone from the nightstand and sent out a few texts.

To: Nina Romanov
I hope you feel better, darling. You owe me a dance.

To: Timothy Sayre
Miss u

To: Hemingway Jr.
Well, you didn’t have to disappear. Didn’t even give me time to say goodnight

It was hard for her to think the closest thing she had to a friend was Nina. She didn’t actually dislike or wished any harm upon Nina, and actually was quite fond of her, but it was impossible for her to support Nina in the position she was in right now. For the time being, then, she was the adversary. Becky didn’t exactly miss companionship or loyalty, she was actually surrounded by people all of the time and those people would do anything she asked for as little as a smile, but she couldn’t wrap her mind around why nobody actually seemed to want to know anything about what she liked, about what she thought about things… Her mind actually started getting a little claustrophobic at times. And Keevan… And all that bread bowl stuff wasn’t making it any easier. So she thought today, on the first day of school, she would actually take a day for herself, to not think about the Influentials, Breadbowl, Keevan, Christian or the bonfire. She thought wrong.

When Erin’s absurd alarm clock went off, as it did every morning, inspire of Becky’s several complaints, Becky had already showered and did all her beauty routine, and was getting dressed in a delicate white dress and a light pinkish flowery kimono when Erin left the room to take a shower. And then, while the door was still open, she heard Nina’s voice. The sound was muffled and seemed distant, but there was no doubt, she’d recognize that voice anywhere. Suspicious and intrigued, Becky left the room, tiptoeing to the hall, and the voice got a bit louder. It increased as she approached Daniel’s room, the one right in front of her’s, and then was completely silenced by the shower next door. Afraid Nina might leave, Becky went back into her room and stood on her tiptoes close to the door so that she could look through the peephole. In a matter of seconds, Nina rushed out of the room, her cheeks a unusual rosy color. This, right there, was all Becky needed, and as much as she had wanted this day to be her own, it wasn’t something that happened everyday.
Nina.
The Ice Queen.
Leaving her loyal dog’s room.
In the clothes from the night before.

To: Hemingway Jr.
Can you meet me later?

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Daniel Ahn Character Portrait: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Rebecca Sayre Character Portrait: Sterling Walker Character Portrait: Lane Blackwell Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Anthony Carraway Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Keevan Brennan Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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Time Skip
It is now 9:45. Mrs Jefferson has welcomed the class in, given the seating chart, and explained the assignment. Erin is out in the hallway working on the preparation part of her speech. No one else has received their topic yet, they are just inside chatting amongst themselves or reading or something along those lines.


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The paper is still curled up in Erin's hand. Half of her had been glad to go first, because it allowed her instant distance from Sterling who, by some cruel twist of faith, is now seated right next to her. To get away from that class in general, actually. Not only Sterling, but also Nina and Daniel. Perhaps if she had been seated next to Lane, she would feel more at ease. Unfortunately, that is far from the case, as she sits on the other side of the room from her. And so she jumped up when her name was called to go outside and work on her speech. Now she regrets moving with such haste. She uncurls the paper.

Forgiveness.

Oh. This isn't so bad. I should be fine. Okay, I've got this. Forgiveness. Okay, Erin takes a long breath and begins scrawling things on the back of her thin slip of paper. Lead with reference to "if sorry was enough, police" joke. Too exaggerated for real life. To err is human. Importance of moving on. Let wounds heal. Forgive, strengthen. Erin doesn't notice the irony in her own notes. All she knows is that she has already been outside for two minutes and despite attempts to reassure herself her palms are sweaty and she desperately wants to get this over with. She twists the paper in her hand, a nervous tick. Knocks on the door to be let in. A Gifted boy, Rory, opens it for her, and wishes her good luck in a whisper. Erin walks to the center.

As she is the first speech, people are slightly more focused on listening. They knows Mrs Jefferson will notice if they are already playing on their phones or whispering to one another. Keevan stops his conversation with her, probably about some book or another, to sit down and lean back. Erin has never before wished that people would be more disrespectful towards her. She wants them all trained on their phones, on each other, on the posters around the room. Anywhere else. But they are on her.

"Um. My topic was forgiveness," Erin shows the class her slip and immediately regrets doing so. It's not like they think you're lying to them, idiot. Erin is impulsive. Erin is loyal. Erin is playful and sometimes loud and always smiling. Until Erin is told to make a speech, and then she is prone to self destruction, like a foolish cartoon supervillain. The feeling of standing up in front of people is not unlike eating a star and trying to digest the burning feeling of your insecurities. Erin took this class deciding that she must learn to present eventually. It must get worse before it can get better.

"Has the timer started? Yeah? Okay, cool. Start now. Please.

If sorry was good enough we wouldn't need police officers. It's too late to apologize. An eye for an eye. We're living in a culture that criticizes the ability to forgive, instead, um, opting for cynicism and, uh, punishment. Half the time we don't even realize we're doing it. But it's there. It's the uh archaic notion that we are born one way and never change."


She makes brief eye contact with Nina, which lapses into her staring at her for a few seconds while the planned course shifts.

"But people can change. And y'know maybe that's the problem. Maybe sometimes people change in ways you could never imagine, and that's um the thing we can't forgive them for. Because we had so fully trusted one ideal, and it just breaks down in front of us, and not always for the better."


And then Sterling, just behind Nina. He had always been either behind or at the side of Nina. He should have remained there, instead of vanishing and allowing matter to collapse into that sudden vacuum until a black hole was formed. Until the Queen was born.

"People don't take responsibility for what they've done. Or even if they do, they can't change the way that their actions have launched others into that negative change. And, I mean, it can be hard to forgive someone that turns everything to ash in your mouth. When people separate they leave holes in the fabric of the quilt they were once part of, you know? I mean, not that people are quilts exactly. Um. Sorry, how much time left do I have?


"Two minutes. Erin, you seem to have lost your point. Try to reel it back in, please. I love the imagery but an impromptu should be a bit more structured. And don't forget about triangulation, okay? I'm unpausing the time now."

"Oh. Sorry. Right. So, I mean sure forgiveness is something we should aim for but sometimes it can just be, um, difficult. I mean I guess nothing is impossible but sometimes people just screw up so badly that there is nothing they can do to fix it and how can you forgive someone if the problem is just left to fester, especially when they didn't have to deal with the problem. The rest of us- er, the people, do. Maybe not forgiving is the only way to, erm, cope, I guess. Or something. I'm sorry, I'm not sure where I'm going anymore can I sit down?"


Mrs. Jefferson studies Erin, who had her for English this previous year, for a moment. She takes a long sip of tea, face unreadable while Erin just stands up there silently, doing a poor job of subtly avoiding looking at Sterling and Nina.

"Yes, I suppose in the interest of time you may take your seat. Although you may want to consider representing next class in order to improve the grade." Both teacher and student know Erin will not be trying to make it up for a higher grade. Even sitting next to Sterling seems refreshing in comparison to the thousand suns she felt at the podium.

Fuck fuck fuck fuck. Why am I in this class is it too late to transfer this was a bad idea can I ask for a seating change? Deep breaths. I'm not up there anymore. Erin can be passably clever when not in the spotlight. In the arena, however, her armor is stripped away by the eyes of spectators. "Shut it," she mutters to Sterling, who is as of yet innocent in terms of any scathing remarks.

"Alright, well. Rebecca Sayre? You're next, dear. Come, take your paper. You have seven minutes beginning when the door shuts behind you."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rebecca Sayre Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov

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Becky sat on the edge of her chair and comfortably laid against the back. Public speeches didn’t make her anxious at all, she had slept few hours and most people, honestly, were so bad at this it actually made it quite hard for her to keep her eyes open. Erin’s words seemed to drift further away every second and flow in a disorganized, confused manner. Only the teacher’s words could actually wake her up a bit, and from them she could tell her roommate wasn’t doing very well. Forgiveness she thought, just as Erin walked back to her seat What a notion

Rebecca didn’t need a lot of time to prepare her speech. The words on the paper created a wide smile on Becky’s lips. What bittersweet word, hierarchy. She wanted to say it over and over again. Hierarchy. She trusted deeply in hierarchy, she adored it. But it seemed to disappoint her so much it almost felt like she was being unrequited love, honestly.

As she made her was to the podium, she knew people would pay attention. She didn’t need humor or appeal in her speech, she just needed to say whatever it was she meant to, straight forward. People would stare anyway.

"Good morning everyone. I’ll be talking about how the hierarchies of the past reflect today. I believe, however, differing hierarchies as a thing of the past or present is a misconception. If anything, hierarchies have changed names and became broader, but the hierarchic structures from hundreds of years ago repeat themselves today. Before the Industrial Revolution,hierarchies were limited to feudal structures and the systems inside the clergy and nobility, however, the growth of capitalism generated a greater segregation between members of the same consignment social class, within the bourgeoisie, within the proletariat. The hierarchies infiltrate even within non-governmental establishments, hospitals, large companies ... schools. Hierarchies grow. And there is a reason for that."

She could feel the student’s interest peaking. They knew what she was talking about. They wanted to hear about nobility, directly from royal Sayre herself. But undeniable, some of the eyes turned to Nina, and that made Becky’s next three or four words sound slightly, almost unnoticeably weaker, less confident then the rest.

"In our society, where capitalism and meritocracy are the basis of the greatest achievements, the hierarchy is a clear way to separate those who are privileged and can also influence the social climbing of others from those who conform to their lower position and limit themselves to criticizing those in position of greater power, with our actually trying to occupy these positions themselves, positions that, while accompanied by privilege, also come with great responsibilities and effort. Hierarchies are effective and practical.

By studying the German political tendencies between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Max Weber noted that efficient governments would have to be moved by a strong and efficient bureaucracy and a leadership that establishes the paths of political agents. New paths. This clear separation is beneficial for everyone, you see?"


They didn’t. She could see it in they’re faces, like it was written there. Students were either ogling her in a way she knew all too well or staring, completely befuddled.
"Thus, the reflection and the expansion of old hierarchies today is essential for greater organization and social justice. Hierarchy ensures that the deserving are the privileged. The hardworking are the powerful. Hierarchy rewards effort."

The words lingered on her lips for a moment, and Rebecca stood in the podium, her face completely expressionless, while she pondered about her own words. Then, a perfectly bight, polite smile appeared. ”Thank you for your time!”

Then, as if she had merely introduced herself in the first day of class, she slowly made her way back to her seat and crossed her legs under the table before gently placing her hair on her shoulder so she could play with it. But her exterior was far from telling. She felt a hot, irritating sensation on her chest, her vision was hazy and her body felt heavy. What couldn’t people see? How had she been failing?

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Rebecca Sayre Character Portrait: Sterling Walker Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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      XXXOh, Erin is adorable, alright. Sterling's rather fond. Who isn't in the presence of waddling babies or snorting pugs? Gosh, watching her is a decidedly painful experience, if only because it requires a colossal amount of willpower not to cross the distance between them to ruffle her curly hair and hand her a lollipop.
      XXXSterling fails to notice the glance Erin casts Nina only because his gaze flits over to where the brunette sits poised with that aggravating grace of hers at the same time.
      XXXSterling claps loudly when Erin is finished, grinning as she vacates the podium with the devil on her heels. Her cheeks are flushed and her hair sticks to the thin sheen of sweat on her forehead. He grins as he takes her seat beside him.
      XXXAll hail Mrs Jefferson's sterling seating arrangements. He can see the delight rolling off of Erin in waves.
      XXX"Shut it," Erin hisses the moment she descends into her seat. Sterling widens brilliant blue eyes in mock surprise. He glances over his shoulder before turning back to Erin, cocking his head in bewilderment.
      XXX"Me, Miss Hill?" he questions in his thick British accent. "Goodness, no. I would never think to comment on your poorly executed speech or your perky arse as you fled the stage."
      XXXMrs Jefferson's call for Rebecca has Sterling pressing his finger over a cheeky smile before turning to face the podium. Rebecca's speech is quite brilliant. Succinct, eloquent, supported by evidence. Until she falters for a brief moment, gaze flitting towards lo and behold, Nina Romanov. It seems no one can execute a speech without shifting their attention to "The Queen."
      XXXSterling decides there and then that he will ignore Nina entirely through the duration of his speech, even if it means ignoring that section of the room. It matters little. Aimee threatened Erin's safety and Daniel Ahn... Well, Sterling will shed no tears should Daniel Ahn mysteriously disappear into thin air.
      XXX"Thank you, Rebekah. Take a seat. Next we have Lucas Long." A pause. "Lucas Long?"
      XXXThey had a Long Lucas? Sterling must have slept through more classes than he'd initially envisioned. To think he took pride in knowing the names of everyone in school. Hah, just kidding. He knew about five.
      XXX"As it seems he's absent, we'll move on to the next person on the list," the teacher continues. A grimace that is not entirely subtle flits across her face as she glances at her list. "Sterling Walker," she grumbles. "Come."
      XXXSterling barks like a dog. Mrs Jefferson gawks and sputters something about respect and inappropriate social efficacies and blablabla. Sterling takes the piece of paper from her and heads to the podium. He unfolds his prompt slowly and with no small amount of drama. He pauses before taking a deep breath as if preparing to dive into the unknown. All theatrics. Somebody has to have a sense of humour in this horrendously morbid class. You'd think from everyone's faces that they're being called to the noose.
      XXX"You may begin now, Mr Walker," Mrs Jefferson says impatiently.
      XXX"'It is a curious subject of observation and inquiry,'" Sterling begins, putting on an extra posh British accent and a croaky voice. "'Whether hatred and love be not the same thing at bottom,' said a dead white man."
      XXXHe glances up at his sheet to find Mrs Jefferson about to protest, before she shakes her head and places it in the palm of her hand. Why bother, her gesture seems to say. Sterling does so love sucking the hope out of the human soul.
      XXX"We often think love and hatred are opposites, foils to one another in a story that is infinitely complex," he starts after a moment to gather his thoughts and school his expression into one of serious pondering. "Yet we neglect to realise that it is those we love who inspire the greatest contempt. We succumb to anger because we care. It is because we see - we saw - what they were and all the potential they possessed. And we saw it fall to ruin."
      XXXHis attention shifts to Nina. He curses. Aloud. Mrs Jefferson gasps and a few chuckles spread across the class. Shit, I wasn't supposed to look at her. But he does. Instead of turning away, he challenges her to pull her gaze away. She does not. Something strange crosses her face, but her eyes do not waver. Instead she lifts her chin, a challenge in her own.
      XXX"The opposite of love is not hatred, but indifference," Sterling says quietly. Loud enough to just be heard by everyone in the room, but there is something intimate in his tone as he looks at Nina, as if begging her, beyond all others, to heed his words. It is an apology and adjuration.
      XXX"Myths and sacred stories frequently employ apples as a symbol of love. A fitting analogy, considering the seeds of an apple are poisonous. That is not to say all love leads to one's demise, only that we must be careful not to be so immersed in tasting the sweetness that we devour the bitterness as well. Sometimes mould can fester when neglected. What was lovely can rot."
      XXXNina flinches.
      XXXFinally. A reaction. He needs this. He needs to see what hides beneath the Ice Queen. Sterling continues.
      XXX"A moment can change us for a lifetime."






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      XXX"A moment can change us for a lifetime."
      XXXNina grips her hands together under the table, her nails digging into her knuckles. She clenches her jaw. An calloused hand jerks me forward. I fall into the dirt. A fire rages, devouring his skin. She shuts her eyes, breaking the stare between her and Sterling. Don't think about it, don't think about it. Her chest is rising and falling in quirk spurts. She takes a deep breath, shoves the intrusive memories from her mind and opens her eyes. Don't let them know. They are vultures. Exploiting weakness.
      XXX"Often the smallest things can tip the scales from love to hate. A misunderstanding. A mistake. A drunken night can shift the dynamics for the worse." Here Sterling shifts his gaze away from Nina to Erin. "Or better."
      XXXHope shivers. Plummets.
      XXXOh, God.
      XXXShe's going to be sick. But her stomach is empty, her chest a void.
      XXX"Just as love can morph into loathing, so can loathing morph into love. The fragility of humanity's depth of emotion echoes in the transience of our mortality. Just as it is necessary to burn a forest to create fields, so it is that we must sacrifice old flames for the new."
      XXXSterling struts from the podium like he owns the stage and the people beneath it. He returns to Erin's side. I can't breathe. Of course it's fire. It is always fire. Fire took love from her once before, too, but it did not leave her with fields to plough. It left her with the carcass of her brother and the disgust of her family. It left her with a cavern in her chest and scars wrapped around her torso.
      XXXNina traces the path of a small scar on the inside of her wrist, hidden beneath the bracelet Daniel returned to her moments before. It is a burn mark incomparable to those hidden beneath her clothes. Her clenched fists relax under the table.
      XXXNumb. Always numb. There is no light in her eyes, no ember in her chest. She'd known, then, that Sterling and Erin saw something in each other that they did not see in her. But she did not know the depth of their feeling. What a fool she'd been. How could she not have known when Sterling stares at Erin now the way he used to...
      XXX"Hey, don't look too impressed," she hears Sterling say to Erin behind her. "Wouldn't want your panties to spontaneously combust in the middle of class."
      XXXNo more.

Characters Present

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

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Keevan could not have asked for a more perfect seat, if truth be told. Sterling Walker, center of at least 25% of the major drama even when he's standing on the fringes, at his table, Daniel and Nina eavesdropping distance away, and, most to his pleasure though he's loathe to admit it, Becca just at arm's length. He glances over at Sterling and Erin, realizing there is most certainly some sort of story to be published there as well. "Wouldn't want your panties to spontaneously combust in the middle of class," earning a scarlet blush and look mixed with embarrassment and frustration from the blonde. Note to self- How is the Queen dealing with her ex-knight and ex-bestie being so close these days? Admittedly, Keevan's time at Laurel had minimal overlap with Nina's old group, but word spreads like wildfire, especially when it has to do with the school's hottest and deadliest student. And very few know how to read smoke signals as well as Keevan Brennan, gossip and writer extraordinaire. After all, in today's society information is the greatest form of currency and all the most powerful people trade in secrets. His gaze shifts towards Rebecca, or rather the back of her head, recalling her text from earlier. He hadn't had a chance to respond, and with this realization sends a quick one, phone underneath his desk although Mrs. Jefferson would probably let him get away with murder, or worse- plagiarism.

To: Rebecca
Sorry, dear, places to be, things to write. And of course- you, me, a canoe, the open lake, and secrets?

He slides his phone back into the pocket of his laptop case, caught between smiling and hating himself, not unfamiliar territory for the young man. It should come as no surprise that he tends to find himself tightly wrapped into situations like these, given how often he puts his characters, and the people around him, into them with a few strokes of the keyboard. People like Keevan often fall into their own traps, proving to be not particularly efficient killers or survivors.

But at least upon taking the podium, Keevan is confident he will not flounder as Erin or Lane did, hoping to be counted with eloquence more similar to Sterling, or confidence akin to Rebecca's. Her speech. . . Keevan frowns, not exactly agreeing with the ideals that she had expressed. Still, he is already too hopelessly lost for that to be a great deterrent.

"Keevan? You're up next, dear. Here you are," Keevan takes his paper with a smile, but takes his time passing through the classroom, snaking past the bookcases and setting his cup of tea (He leaves a mug in Mrs. Jefferson's classroom) down on his desk. The moment the door has shut behind him he is unfurling the paper.

Knowledge vs. Wisdom

Just a moment or two later, Keevan is strolling back up to the podium, leaning against it and looking relaxed as you like. He winks at Nina, with no explanation whatsoever. Don't worry queenling, at least this speech you won't be stared down.

"Knowledge vs. Wisdom. Ladies and gentleman, plenty of you probably have a fair amount of green in your wallets or a pretty plastic card in your back pocket. I know some of you have more of it than anyone could know what to do with. I suppose I've got that too, though it didn't come from mom or dad. It came from the most powerful sort of currency- information. Everyday people are being paid to keep their mouth shut, having their words muffled by dollar bills that have come to be worshiped as a deity of sorts. But it is the people receiving the money, in that situation, who have the power, whether they know it or not. The pursuit of knowledge and the pursuit of power are the same side of the coin, just looked at from slightly different angles. Of course, Wisdom is well and good, but at our age, secrets outweigh experience. Think about it- no one really cares how long a swimmer has been practicing for their match- they care about the swimmer who has a scandal, a secret. And the person who holds that secret holds the strings."

He is looking at Becca now, although he is careful enough to eye the rest of the room any time the gaze has lingered too long. He is no fool, and isn't going to join in on this game of staring at the person a speech is about. Still, as he continues his eyes snap back like magnets to metal. She's all that glitters and he's hunting for fool's gold.

"If you have earned a place among the owl and the old with wisdom at this age, congratulation. But our society is fixated on knowledge, and half the time they only care about the knowledge that is obscured by a veil. Salome tasted blood at the price of dropping a veil. Mistresses make millions on 'tell-all' novels that are, in my biased opinion, trashy writing. Knowledge makes a person fascinating, makes them interesting. It makes them important. And so perhaps it is important to flash knowledge in a way that you cannot give a glimpse of wisdom. Without knowledge, some people are boring, dull, not worth knowing. Not worth a second glance."

Take it as about you. You're only interesting when you have information. Please, Keevan, in a flash of desperate thought, fixates once more on Rebecca. It's about him, of course, it always is. Every damn story and every page of his novels are all ultimately a love note to the world around him, to the bad and the good, with himself as the blank page center. And those blue doe eyes would never have even wasted a glance on him if he hadn't covered himself with the stories and secrets of other people. It is the clothing that makes the main, and his is stitched with gossip and rumors and smoke and shade. But he needs her to think that he is using her, though that couldn't be further from the case. Because once he has become too blatantly at her will, he won't be worth that glance again. Keevan hates to be looked through and over.

"So if you're wondering what the secret some people hold to success and fame is, you probably will never know it, because if they exposed it they'd be nothing. Power is knowledge, wrapped in a thorny vine and painted gold. It's being able to obtain the head of your enemy for a dance and a show. Those who know, control, something people perhaps forget because the smartest people know how to keep them remembering only when interest is waning. Reality TV and tabloids are big business because we want the knowledge on other people around us. We crave it. Covet it like a child after a shiny new toy. And once that knowledge is more than a read or two old, it is cast aside, like that shiny new toy.

Knowledge gets you what you want, and keeps you worth wanting. Worth loving. Anyone who preaches complete honesty as a route to success is lying, because no one who shows their hand wins the game. Cards up your sleeve lead for a long game, they buy you time. Wisdom may come with age, but knowledge and secrets keep you immortal."


Keevan steps back, pushes up the sleeves of his thin shirt, and walks back to his seat. His hands brush past Rebecca's desk as he walks by- the boy can't help himself.

Characters Present

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

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This assignment has been. . .interesting, Daniel muses, absentmindedly twirling a black ballpoint pen between his fingers. From his seat at the corner of the class, he has been given the perfect view for both the speaker and the audience. His chair is angled out just so, such that only the person just behind him is in a blind spot. It is very important that Daniel be able to see things clearly, and luckily Mrs. Jefferson has by some coincidence arranged it thus. So he watches through Erin's pathetic stumblings, Rebecca's speech (which he agrees with though feels her presentation could have been improved upon), and Sterling's presentation. The last mentioned one is a cause for greater interest thanks to the slight reaction it garnered from the Queen, a flinch unnoticed by most but incapable of slipping beneath Daniel's ever observant eye. His eyes narrow with displeasure at the way Sterling is still able to affect her in this way, something which he is apparently powerless to put a stop to. Ever since the British boy returned to the school he has been causing little problems here or there, but the past two days alone seem to have brought about an increased concentration of such scenes. Daniel wishes dearly he would crawl back under whatever rock he had scuttled out from and leave the players back to their natural roles.

And then there is Lane, the sad little musician with the ever-breaking heart. Her speech is somewhat more coherent than her blond friend's, but still leaves much to be desired. Daniel cares very little, save for the look thrown towards Nina. One can hardly escape the past- he himself must know this. So when Keevan, who has remained out of foot and to himself, rises to speak, Daniel believes he may simply watch a dramatic but unimportant piece. After all, Keevan is a story teller, important only in the fictional webs he weaves. Which is to say, altogether uninteresting in reality. The knight leans back, relaxed, eyes trained on Keevan but not particularly focused on seeing.

Until Keevan begins to intrigue him. By the end of the speech, Daniel is looking at Becca with some form of intense curiosity. He does not miss the way the writer's hand brushes against the duchess's table. Is it an unrequited affection? How had I missed this before? Are the princess and the writer-? Well, there was that silly Breadbowl mention. Interesting.

"Miss Hart? Also absent. Alright, Daniel, your turn."

In one fluid motion Daniel has stood up and walked to the teacher's desk to take a slip of paper. In another he is out in the hallway. One barely has time to take three breaths before he is sauntering back in, resting his hands on either side of the podium.

"The trolley problem, for those who do not know, is a scenario that can be simplified thus: will you actively kill one person in order to save the lives of five? There are variants, of course, in which the death of the one is more of an unpleasant affect, or the one is a villain. I choose to focus on the classic problem, however. In regards to this problem, the common qualm people have is being directly responsible for the death of another person. After all, who are we to play God? Who are we to choose who lives and who dies? Such power would surely make man into a monster.

But I contest that we are already corrupted to the extent that becoming a monster should not be our concern. Our concern should be that of survival. Perhaps the man you kill has a family, children. So to do the five, only more so when all put together. Simply in terms of math, the answer is quite clear: without hesitation one must know to forfeit one for the good of the many. If one spends too long fretting over it, they are perhaps a fool. One human life has been estimated at a value of 7.4 million dollars. Think in terms of business. Sacrificing 7.4 million in order to preserve five times that is not really sacrifice at all. It is a minimization of casualties, something that is the aim in all done. The intelligent weigh life on the balance of cost-benefit. Perhaps nothing is gained in this scenario, but the amount lost is cut down significantly. This, clearly, is a small success."

Of course Daniel is all business, he always seems to be. Tallying people up in terms of financial value, treating them as statistics in a game of investment. Some in the class nod. Others, including those who typically side with him in terms of this problem, watch with some degree of fright at the coldness of his explanation. He does not care, of course. Daniel smiles, an insincere, easy thing. And then he glances at Nina. This has proven to be the error most make, and Daniel on his lofty tower is somehow no exception. He pictures Sam, car crashing, rolling over, his body in the casket. Now Nina, standing on that trolley track, one vs the five, haughtily waiting for death under his say so. The insincere smile fades.

"But now, consider another factor- the identity of the person on the other side of the tracks. Some people are worth more than others. There are those in our school worth billions, while others are penniless and, potential or no, have no real worth."

He sees Erin cringe and seem to shrink into herself. An example of such paupers, here on charity and hope for a return on the investment. She is an ant compared to him, a plankton compared to the Queen.

"And then the situation changes, naturally. The higher number of physical casualties do not outweigh the preservation of someone of a truly higher caliber, someone worth them several times over. We could not possibly justify the killing of someone so crucial, so necessary. Someone capable of floating above their insignificance. The secret service will die so that the president will not. This is an example of one being above many, as there have been throughout history. All do not carry equal weight in the cost-benefit analysis, and this must be taken into consideration.

Some people we simply cannot allow to be lost. Others, however, are somewhat more expendable. If this bothers you, then you clearly have never met someone of such a caliber, and are to be pitied. But it is the fact of living: some are more precious than others."


By the end of the speech, Nina had become the only person in the room, as far as Daniel was concerned. Of course, she often is. To a knight there can be only the queen. To a dog, all pale in comparison to its master. Daniel returns to his seat.

"Erm. Thank you, Mr. Ahn. Anthony? Also gone? Alright then. Nina- you are next. I suppose the absences are fortunate because we only have time for one more speech anyway. Aron- no, not you Erin, Mr. Aron- come see me after class about the speech team by the way. Thank you."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Daniel Ahn Character Portrait: Rebecca Sayre Character Portrait: Lane Blackwell Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Keevan Brennan

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XXX
XXX
      XXX
      XXXIt seems everybody has something to say to her. A complaint they must propose to the sovereign, tepidly disguised as a speech based on entirely neutral subjects. She must wonder if Mrs Jefferson is not as she seems. Is she an illusionist, or a Seer? The topics seem unnervingly close to home. Alas, everyone has similar concerns, and the topics are smoke and mirrors. The "science" of astrology and fortune telling. Humans are gullible things, and even more predictable.
      XXXShe plasters a bored expression on her face, unwavering even as Keevan tosses her a wink. It is somewhat bizarre, as the writer and her have had little to do with each other. He is a trout to a lion. They do not inhabit the same environment. She raises an eyebrow at Becky as the speech rolls along.
      XXXShe does not miss the stares - filled with meaning and if she dare say, longing - Keevan directs at her, or the hand he brushes along the edge of her wooden desk. What she'd glimpsed on Breadbowl this morning - the first she's read of the peasant paper in a long while - combined with what she sees now leaves little room for the imagination. She curses her inability to recall much of last night.
      XXXNina glances at her phone, seeing a message from Becky this morning. They are frivolous words, as always. An artificial concern for an artificial friendship. Becky wouldn't spit on Nina if she was on fire. She is certain the beauty will be the first to snatch the crown, whether she need to wrench it from her head or lift it from her corpse.

      To: Rebecca Sayre
      Only if you aren't busy with Googly Eyes over there. We'll talk later.
      Btw, good speech. If I ever wake up up dead with a dagger lodged in my spine, I'll know who did it.


      To: Rebecca Sayre
      Jk.


      XXXDaniel is the next to speak. He carries himself with a graceful finesse and confidence that eclipses all others before him. She's heard him speak to large audiences before and it would not be an exaggeration to say that everybody, including the unflappable, apathetic Romanov, was impressed. She sits quietly through his speech.
      XXX"It is the fact of living: some are more precious than others," Daniel finishes. The room echoes with applause as he moves away from the podium. After a moment, Nina joins them. She doesn't spare Daniel a glance as he returns to his seat. The gap between them might as well be the abyssal crevice between two glaciers.
      XXX"Those in our school worth billions," he'd intoned. As if that is all that an Influential, Talented or or Gifted is worth. The sum of what is in their bank and the wealth of the families to which they belong, or in the case of those arguably more worthy like Keevan, the execution of one's practical ability. It is a silly thing to ponder and a sillier thing to be wounded by, but Nina cannot help but think that that must be all she is to him. If ever she were to become "penniless," or be deposed, Daniel would likely leave her.
      XXXIt seems there is truth in the words she divulged to Sterling. She is, forevermore, alone.
      XXXIt is fitting, she supposes, considering that she is a Romanov. Her ancestors were executed by their serfs. It is a marvel that the inhabitants of Laurel have bowed to her for so long. The power she wields is mighty but tenuous. The bigger they are, the harder they fall, seems a fitting analogy in this respect. The loss of control is a vice that grips her, pains her. She must never lose, never waver. She must sleep with one eye open.
      XXXIf sleep ever comes at all.
      XXX"Nina, you are next," Mrs Jefferson supplies.
      XXXNina takes the sheet from her grip, standing before the podium before unfolding the paper. The title of her topic is short. Just two words. Arguments pour from every corner of her mind. She snatches the best, organises them into neat structures - thesis, evaluation, counter-arguments, signposts - before setting the paper down.
      XXX"Psy Ops, psychological warfare, the decimation of 'hearts and minds.' Mere epithets for what is essentially the objectification of human beings, the deconstruction of them, if you will, into a sum of tangible structures and politically malleable ideals."
      XXXShock radiates throughout the room. It is a common misconception that the Romanov Princess and Laureli Queen is a pretty face but an empty head. Even Sterling seems rather stunned, although he's always known Nina, or rather the his Nina, to be rather vigorous in her pursuit of intellectual conquest. She was the only person he knew who enjoyed the academic aspect of schools, who read sesquipedalian textbooks for fun.
      XXXHe simply imagined that her intelligence had simply disappeared along with her empathy and sense of basic morality. It unnerves him, somewhat, to know that someone really could be evil and a mastermind. Or perhaps she simply has a vast vocabulary. Or bribed Mrs Jefferson to give her the topic early and threatened a poor Talented to write her speech for her. That's what he tells himself, anyway.
      XXX"We wish to believe that we are free." Her fingers flutter against the edge of the podium, almost unconsciously. As if her hands are wandering into another space in her mind, wherever the words might come from. "But we are slaves, be it to propaganda or the discursive powers that perpetuate social norms. Psychological operations are often viewed only through the lens of war, but governments are not the only organisations that can instil a belief system that we endeavour and fail to resist. It is not the bomb that kills a civilisation and its ideas, but the horrors experienced by the survivors left in its wake. Crush a house, and it can be rebuilt. Crush a home" - her hand clenches into a fist - "and you destroy the very life an individual holds dear. It is the loss of a nation's morale that raises its white flag. It is when there is no hope left, that you know that you have won."
      XXXFor a moment she says nothing until her voice returns, quietly. Almost gently, as if uncovering a horrible truth to a child yet to realise the monsters are not under his bed, but standing in the light, disguised as something good.
      XXX"Do you know what is the most terrifying thing about torture?" A tremor runs through her hands. "It is not the pain of the moment, because even that will pass. It is certainly not the possibility of death because non-existence is the only freedom we can be granted, and even that..." A mirthless laugh escapes her. "Only if you do it right.
      XXX"The most terrifying thing about torture is its capacity to strip an individual of her humanity. To render her a thing. An object to be used, so that her body is no longer her own, not even to kill. To free. The tortured subject is not the sovereign of..." She clears her throat. Blinks. "Of his or her own body. The she becomes an it. An object to be vandalised, humiliated and discarded.
      XXX"It is not enough to kill the body of the enemy, because soldiers can be bred, they can be replaced. Ideas will prevail even when their instigators do not. This is why a tactic of war is..."
      XXXThere is a long pause until Mrs Jefferson prods. "Go on, Nina. You're doing well."
      XXX"A tactic of war..."
      XXX"You're looking pale, Nina. Take a deep breath. It's alright. Everybody gets a little shaken by public speaking but this is a supportive environ-"
      XXX"Is rape," Nina blurts, cutting Mrs Jefferson off. She stares at nothing and no one, though her eyes - darker than usual, pupils fully dilated - say she's looking at the back of the room. Her hand flutter against the edge of the podium, but her knuckles are white, clenching the timbre so fiercely the tips of her fingers are turning blue. "Rape, which mutilates both the body and the mind. It renders not only the individual vulnerable and subject to persecution, but tarnishes the family and society to which the body belongs. Soldiers will risk death, for to perish in battle is to die a hero, but they will not risk the perverse desecration of a sister, a daughter or a wife. Or a brother, or a son. There is no glory for the victim of sexual violence. They are dirty. Broken. A shell stripped of its pearl." She exhales. "Empty."
      XXXThe screech of the bell jerks Nina away from the podium and her reverie. She flexes her fingers, eyes flitting quickly around a speechless room. Nina tears her gaze away, ignoring Mrs Jefferson's voice as she races towards her bag. She slings it over her shoulder and darts out of the room.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Daniel Ahn Character Portrait: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Rebecca Sayre Character Portrait: Sterling Walker Character Portrait: Lane Blackwell Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Anthony Carraway Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Keevan Brennan Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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Time Skip
Everyone has been at their chosen PE activity for the day for about ten or so minutes now. Weather is partly cloudy, looking like it might turn to a light drizzle soon.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Daniel Ahn Character Portrait: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Rebecca Sayre Character Portrait: Sterling Walker Character Portrait: Lane Blackwell Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Anthony Carraway Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Keevan Brennan Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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Time Skip
The bell rung about two minutes ago, so lunch begins in three minutes. Everyone is either on their way to lunch or currently at lunch.