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Sterling Walker

"There are many people I could bless with my presence, but I chose you."

0 · 1,030 views · located in Laurea, New York

a character in “Laurel”, as played by Layla

Description

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MINAKO..........................................Guardian Angel
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some text about your character a short line or 2 about their history/ anything Then another line that might quickly sum up their personality. try to keep this 3 lines, definitely not more than 4.

...Image【 Age 】.......answer......................【 D.O.B 】......... answer
【 Origin 】.... Japan...............【 Sexuality 】....Heterosexual

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I. ..A D . H O M I N E M



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        A S P E C T U S
        5'1" | umber | light auburn


        Appearance goes here. Also any distinguishing features, i.e a goblin's cursed item/guardian's preferred glamoured state/a reapers work outfit etc.

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        P E R S O N A
        trait | trait | trait

        Personality here. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Pellentesque ut ex et purus iaculis eleifend. Curabitur pharetra metus eleifend ligula elementum, non dignissim dolor efficitur. Nulla facilisi. Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas. Suspendisse leo ligula, consectetur vel sollicitudin vitae, euismod at dui. Proin vel ultrices justo, nec porttitor turpis. Curabitur consequat id nulla ut tristique. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Suspendisse condimentum leo a est tincidunt, vitae ornare lorem fringilla.

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γ€ŒSTRENGTH」 ➀..text goes here about a character strength, but keep it short and
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β”Š
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γ€ŒFLAW」 ➀..text goes here about a character flaw, but keep it short and don't e
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II. ... I M M O R T A L I S . M O R T A L E





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        A C T U M .T E M P U S


        history here. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Pellentesque ut ex et purus iaculis eleifend. Curabitur pharetra metus eleifend ligula elementum, non dignissim dolor efficitur. Nulla facilisi. Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas. Suspendisse leo ligula, consectetur vel sollicitudin vitae, euismod at dui. Proin vel ultrices justo, nec porttitor turpis. Curabitur consequat id nulla ut tristique. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Suspendisse condimentum leo a est tincidunt, vitae ornare lorem fringilla.

        Fusce blandit, diam sed auctor condimentum, mi libero pellentesque lectus, at fermentum ligula tortor quis dui. Nulla id erat ornare, congue mauris eget, scelerisque augue. Curabiturm sollicitudin nec ante vitae euismod. Sususce blandit, diam sed auctor condimentum, mi libero pellentesque lectus, at fermentum ligula tortor quis dui. Nulla id erat ornare, congue mauris eget, scelerisque augue. Curabitur feugiat accumsan velit, vitae ornare ligula vehicula eget. Nulla facilisis posuere ante sed bibendum. Quisque ac ante non justo viverra posuere in quis purus. Nullam sollicitudin nec ante vitae euismod. Suspendisse potenti. Quisque sed blandit enim, at sagittis nisl. Mauris eu nisl vel odio venenatis rutrum. Duis lacus mauris, commodo vel blandit ac, efficitur non massa.




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                  ( OOC )

                  FACE CLAIM: your fc
                  #D2AD9D CODE: ur #D2AD9D
                  PORTRAYED BY: username
                  CS CREATED BY: Epimetheus
                  TIME ZONE: timezone

                  DISCLAIMER: This sheet uses
                  code written by Epimetheus, with
                  portions of her work inspired by
                  Verix. All credit goes to them.
                  _( ASSOCIATED )
                  ..words and phrases

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                  just use this space for like word spam, short phrases or links to
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                  _( MISC )

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                  Use this section for miscellaneous information about your char-
                  acter that doesn't quite fit anywhere else. these sections don't h-
                  ave to be a full eleven lines; make them as short or as long as y-
                  ou need.

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So begins...

Sterling Walker's Story

Characters Present

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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


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

Characters Present

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

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

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

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


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

Characters Present

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Characters Present

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

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



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

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

Characters Present

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

But of course Sterling knows this.

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

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


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"Oh, I wouldn't dream otherwise."

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

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

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

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

Characters Present

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

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

Nina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where's Erin....I need Erin

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

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

Characters Present

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

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



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

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

Characters Present

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

two hours later

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

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

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

xoxo,
The Breadbowl Staff




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

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

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

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

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

Characters Present

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

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      XXX

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


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      XXX

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

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

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


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

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

Characters Present

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

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

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

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#, as written by Layla
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      XXX
      XXX
      XXXThe wail of an unfamiliar alarm tears Nina from her restless sleep. Her eyes flutter open and she flinches. Bad idea. The light streaming through the curtains sear her retinas. Her head pounds.
      XXXNina groans as she pulls herself upright. She is tangled in the blanket and her limbs feel like led. She rubs the sleep from her eyes with a fist before opening them.
      XXXFear is the first to stab through her, but calm is quick to settle.
      XXXThe room smells familiar. Fresh linen and forest pine, with just the right touch of expensive cologne. Daniel. His dorm room isn't so different from the man himself. It possesses an almost military organisation and spotlessness. Yet the furnishings are minimal, nothing beyond the bare necessities. It reminds Nina of a luxury hotel. Beautiful, but wholly impersonal. There is nothing about it that belays the soul of the owner, save the multitude of books which Nina would not be surprised to know are alphabetically ordered.
      XXXThere is a glass of water by Nina's - by his bedside - and her chest twists uncomfortably at his consideration. Then it lurches for an entirely different reason. Her hands dart to her chest and she exhales at the feel of her clothes. She's dressed. Though she can't for the life of her remember last night's events. How did she end up here? Though there are certainly worse places a girl could wake up in after an inebriated night than the bed of a tall, dark and handsome Influential.

      XXXDaniel left earlier than usual for his morning jog, stepping out before even the sun could muster the energy to peek over the horizon. This is in no small part thanks to the fact that he had slept in a chair last night- not exactly the most comfortable of places to rest. For the most part he had been in and out of sleep the entire night, constantly shifting and adjusting, getting up for a glass of water, checking that Nina did not vomit in her sleep or something along those lines.
      XXXThe moment that it seemed reasonably late enough he sprung up, glad to quickly change (in the bathroom, out of concern for the possibility of Nina waking up while he was undressed) and go out for a long run. This part of his routine would go uninterrupted, at least, much to the young man's pleasure. While he may never get the runner's high that many track and cross country people speak of, he certainly finds it easier to clear his mind when focusing on the feeling of the air and the movement of his limbs.XXXBut it has to end eventually, and he returns to the dorm to shower and prepare for the day. Normally Nina would have been up earlier as well, for her own morning routine, but he supposes that the alcohol has put her natural alarm on snooze. Thus he had let her sleep on, and set another alarm for eight so that she might wake up with time for breakfast. Of course, he was back by then regardless.
      XXXAfter a shower of a temperature so scalding it left red marks on his skin and thick steam in the bathroom, Daniel realizes that he had neglected to bring clothing to the bathroom with him. He usually doesn't feel the need to, and had begun to work on autopilot, meaning accommodations were not made for the slightly altered situation. Wrapping the towel around his waist, he returns to his room.
      XXXThe Queen has already risen. Ignoring the fact that his efforts earlier to not expose her to him in some state of undress have fallen in vain, he nods in greeting. "Sleep well, Miss Romanov?" When was the last time he referred to her as Nina aloud? Had he ever?


      XXXWith hasty movements, Nina jerks the blanket around herself as the door swings open. It was a reflex Nina feels absurd for succumbing to. There was nothing to cover, and Daniel, as it most likely was, had seen her in much less, especially during this time of year when the days were long and warm.
      XXXWhen Daniel enters the room, he seems the foil to her shyness. The Queen has never in the past four years been demure, yet a blush spills across her cheeks like scarlet blood drawn with her knight's sword. The towel hangs low on his hips, revealing hard lines that dip beneath the white cloth. His abdomen is solid muscle, his chest sculpted in a way Nina had never observed. Or rather never thought to pay much attention to. She'd supposed Daniel was attractive, as she'd seen the admiration in the eyes of girls and guys alike when he passed. Even if they were terrified of him - though she was sure that added to his allure for some. But she had never been attracted to him.
      XXXWhen did the somewhat scrawny youth give way to a man? He wears his armour so well that often she forgets what he looks like underneath the silver and steal.
      XXXBut now, scarcely clothed and voice flowing like warm honey, she can't help the hammering of her heart in response to his presence. She snaps her gaze away from his body, clearing her throat as she does so. Nina forces the blanket away from her chest, straightening it over her lap. Hastily, she rubs the corners of her eyes, cursing how she must look, hungover and newly awoken. She tosses her hair over her shoulder in a gesture that might be perceived as haughty, but is really just a cover for the hand she runs quickly through her dark waves. A sordid attempt at taming the nest on her head, she's sure.
      XXXTo say Nina Romanov is mortified is to say the sun is a little bright.
      XXX"Fine, thank you," she mutters absently. Nina pauses and clears her throat again as her mind processes his words. "I mean, I slept well. Thanks. For asking, I mean. And you know..." She gestures vaguely at the room and the length of his body, what apparently equated to, "All this."
      XXXIn her haste to escape, Nina pulls away from the bed without first untangling herself from the sheets. They catch her around the ankles and nearly send her plummeting to the carpeted floor. She lurches upright and unravels the blankets from her legs. Her cheeks are warm and she waves Daniel away in case he thinks it his duty to help the poor, pathetic girl who seems to experience getting out of bed as a novelty. It's the only explanation for how a person can fail so terribly at it.
      XXX"I'm fine, I'm fine. Nothing bruised but my dignity," she grumbles under her breath as she searches for her shoes but finds none. It's likely that they slipped last night and were now lying in six layers of muck accumulated overnight. Still she skitters around, shifting from foot to foot as she prepares to dart around his tall frame.
      XXX"Well, I should... Get to class. Before I'm late. You should, too, so you're not late for your modelling gig," Nina slaps a hand over her eyes. Did she say that out loud? She said that out loud. Oh God, someone have mercy on the world and shoot me. "Haha. Just kidding! Got you there, didn't I, Daniel? I mean, not that you couldn't model if you wanted to. You have the face, the jawline, the six pack. Like a fashion model. For Abercombie. I mean, you're toned, I guess. Which is nice. For yourself. Others? Is there an other? You probably work out." Shut up shut up shut up. "We should... We should work out some time. Together. I mean, not that I'm saying you need to and I'm not staring at you or anything, We just don't- Oh for God's sake."
      XXXNina rushes from his room without awaiting his response and races down the hall, glaring at a boy who is just leaving his room as he notices her leave Daniel's abode.





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      XXX
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        XXXSterling slips out of the girl's room before she awakens. Erin's back is turned to him when he shuts the door. There is a palpable tension in the air as the feisty blonde stumbles to a halt a short distance away from Aimee. He witnesses the tense exchange between them. He knows such highschool dramas are petty, but his curiosity is peaked and once the spy-in-training fixates on the unveiling of a truth, the truth he will unveil.
        XXXHe heads towards the dining hall, keeping an inconspicuous distance away from the sprinting girl. She's fast but his legs are much lengthier and he manages to keep her pace with a few long strides. He tells himself he's doing this for the safety of everyone involved. There could be a fight that needs stopping. But honestly, he's just nosy and he appreciates a catfight as much as any other teenage boy. Though he'll never admit it. He likes to think himself above such things.
        XXXAimee's explosion is immediate. Sterling cannot help but feel genuine pity for Lane, whom in the span of two days has had two separate people humiliate her in public. Sterling considers interfering but it is not his place to do so. Nina was once his responsibility - but after yesterday... Perhaps it was too much to even call her an ex-friend. Had he ever truly known her at all?
        XXXSpeak of the devil.
        XXXNina strides into the dining hall with the grace of a panther and the dominance of a lioness over her jungle. But there is a slight haste to her movements that is unlike her usual languid disregard. She nods at some things her pet Elites say, lips quirking mechanically and eyes roving like a hawk over the room. She seems to be looking for someone but finding them absent, her shoulders drop slightly. Sterling doubts anybody else notices these slight shifts. But he'd spent a lot of time with her, once. She's a stranger now, but he supposes some old habits die hard.
        XXXNina's gaze skips him entirely, which brings a smile to Sterling's lips. He knows she did that on purpose and it means he still aggravates her. He enjoys reminding her of her past. Her past which he knows is much better than whatever Gossip Girl whirlwind she has fallen into.
        XXX"Good morning, Nikola," Sterling says, calling her by her middle name which most are not privy to. It is a reminder of a friendlier past.
        XXX"It was until you appeared," Nina snaps in response. There is no evidence of the previous night's rowdiness in her. She's as perfectly put together as ever. Like a doll.
        XXXSterling grins. "You say the sweetest things sometimes."
        XXX"Someone has to counterbalance your bitterness."" Nina takes a delicate sip from her drink. Scowls. She holds out the cup of coffee and a trembling boy takes the cup from her hands. He nearly trips over his feet as he flees to get a new drink.
        XXX"Mmm, you should be careful, sweetheart. Diabetes is a real possibility," Sterling mocks.
        XXX"Disease seems a happy alternative to your company."
        XXX"Where's your pet, Nikola?" A muscle feathers at her forehead. [color=#408080]"Ah, my apologies. Your dog has a name. Daniel, was it?"
        XXX"He's more human than you or anyone could hope to be. But think what you will, at least he knows loyalty." She glares at him, an obvious challenge in her eyes.
        XXXSterling holds up his hands, palms up, in mock submission. "Hey, I respect the man. Prior to yesterday, I thought him the blandest person alive. He really proved everyone wrong."
        XXX"Or maybe you're all just damn blind," she says through clenched teeth.
        XXX"My, my, did I touch a sore nerve? Unrequited love is such a pain."
        XXXNina darts her gaze from one Elite to another before waving them a step away. They scuttle a step back to give Nina and Sterling space, hovering like with greedy eyes, their eyes perked towards the conversation.
        XXX"You're absurd," Nina hisses.
        XXX"No witty comeback, love? Did I hit the nail on the head?" Sterling leans back with his arms crossed, satisfaction evident in every muscle and sinew.
        XXX"Evidently not," she says. "Since I don't see a nail lodged in your hollow skull."
        XXX"Ouch. you wound me."" Sterling presses a palm to his chest and feigns devastation.
        XXX"If only," Nina says drily.

Characters Present

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

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#, as written by piearty
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Lucas'd fallen asleep quickly after he parted ways with Aimee since it was so silent except for her mind, which he could deal with. It was a couple hours of dreamless bliss before the rest of the people in the hall slowly filtered in, loud thoughts, drunken thoughts, buzzing in his ears in lieu of actual sound.

Two girls, Lane and Erin, laughing, the occasional alarm of pain in their heads as they tripped down the hall.

Daniel and Nina's minds in close proximity (not much of a surprise), Daniel's a-whir and Nina's a fuzzy darkness (a bit more alarming). Lucas found himself holding his breath, feeling a bit afraid, a bit skeeved out, when the two entered Daniel's room together-- but nothing happened other than Daniel falling asleep at a distance from her, like a robot being shut off.

The last person in the hall, Keevan, drifting in at near 3AM, gossip about people Lucas neither knew nor cared about flitting in his mind.
At that point Lucas decided to no longer attempt sleep.

From then on Lucas laid awake, staring at but not really seeing the ceiling. Like he was strapped to a chair with his eyes pried open, he was subjected to people's turbulent dreams, their disturbing nightmares. Somehow this is worse-- because of the higher number of people around him-- and better than-- because of the thicker walls muting everything substantially-- my shit apartment back home, he mused.

He tried to think of other things (though it was like attempting to do so in an IMAX) and a voice, a memory, floated up in his mind. You’re going to be okay. I can feel it. Aimee had said that last night, hadn't she? After Lucas'd quit with that 'wall' thing? He wallowed in negative feelings about that for a bit, about failing, about giving up, but a small part of him couldn't help but be impressed that he'd kept trying for that long. How did he...? Aimee. She kept saying I could do it. He found her belief in him a bit stupid, to be honest. She knew so much about him now, knew his mistakes, his fears, his failures, yet was convinced that he was worth something. That he'd "be okay" despite his miserable life. Misguided, but sort of admirable, he supposed. Maybe...maybe they could be friends.

After an agonizing amount of time, other people started to wake up. Muted thoughts and voices replaced the incoherent images around him. Probably a normal time to eat breakfast now, right? He got up, slipped back into his familiar hoodie, worn jeans, and ratty sneakers, and headed to the dining hall.

When he entered, he was hit with a wave of anger from different directions. He stopped short, looking around in confusion. On one end of the dining area were Nina and a silver-haired guy, Sterling, who's mind Lucas recognized as that of the other Russian speaker from the party. They were spitting insults at each other like cats. Lucas got a vibe from the ease at which they mocked each other that this happened a lot, and he had already decided to avoid Nina from here on out, so he paid them no mind.

On the other end of the hall was Aimee, leaning over the girl, Lane and glaring with a ferocity that Lucas never would've imagined possible from her. Her emotions were a roiling mix of fear, hurt, and anger, but only the anger showed. It was a bit unnerving to see in comparison to the soft-spoken girl from last night, who rocked on her heels and bit her lip when she was nervous and smiled at him gently, telling him to try again. Now she was all pain and rage, hurt at some betrayal. He couldn't read exactly what it was from over here but he was curious, and worried.

He began to walk towards the scene.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Sterling Walker Character Portrait: Lane Blackwell Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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Abort. Abort. Shit shit shit shit, Erin bites the inside of her cheek, angry with herself over the very much failing attempt to avoid the problem -which really isn't her situation and she is concerned about becoming overly involved in- at hand. Aimee immediately confronts her, catching on that the girl has some sort of information that is holding her back as if the words of it were written on Erin's cheeks in permanent marker. Erin values honesty, but at times like this really sincerely wishes that she had learned to fake expressions and spin lies. There are times where such a talent would make things far easier, would make avoiding hurting people far simpler. Unfortunately, Erin's face is a blueprint and the specifications are meticulously written, making everything clear to those who may view it. A good trait in a sketch, perhaps, but a person is more than a rough design. Or she hopes to be, at least.

Please don't do this. Please just- Aimee's hand is around Erin's wrist, quickening her deceleration to a stop. The young women stand there, both silent for a moment, Erin still trapped by a grip strengthened by a resolve of angry. Aimee stutters a non-sentence, a broken thought, and sprints out. A familiar flash of silver-white hair follows behind her, and then an unfamiliar dark-haired boy. What have I done? self criticism paralyzes the girl briefly, though a single thought is capable of restoring movement to her legs.

Lane.

And Erin is running out the door, towards the dining hall as fast as she can manage. Still, when she bursts into the dining hall the fight has already spilled over. There is no prevention now- only an attempt at ending. Aimee is shouting at Lane, vehement rage spilling out of the normally reserved girl such that Erin had not known was possible. The scene before her is almost painfully reminiscent of one she has been part of before.

The ripping and destruction of a friendship, breaking as two hands might desperately tear apart a fabric they had worked so hard to weave together. Yours are not the hands desired to keep stitching away at the tapestry. Yours are not the hands deemed worthy. So it is better ripped apart and left as bitter tatters of the beautiful potential it had. You stitched with reds and blues when the other wanted something silver. Something sterling silver.

"Aimee. Lane," She is the first to broach the bubble forming around the girls, putting a hand on the shoulders of each of them and shoving the two apart. "Aimee, Lane was drunk, she didn't know what she was saying. Lane, you can't try to force this. I promise." You can't try to force this, the thought that had chimed through Erin's head throughout middle school. The words keeping her an arm's length from what she thought was the happiness that could ruin everything. Her voice is a stage whisper.

Erin has begun to learn to keep friends in your arms, and romance out of them. Lane and Aimee are a replaying memory, explosive words never quite said, emotions revisited in the form of others. "Is this really worth it?" The future terrifies the blonde, but the past is not a place to be revisited either. Especially not this part. She is not Gatsby and is not asking for this time loop. "Please," it is desperate, quieter than her other words. Erin is looking at Lane now, not Aimee. This is a direct plea.

"Please."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Sterling Walker Character Portrait: Lane Blackwell Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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#, as written by piearty
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Lucas quickly pieced together what had happened, both now and two months ago, as he approached the girls and read their thoughts. He didn't think especially well of Lane now, but he was almost scared by this new version of Aimee, made of wild fury and fire. Lane was standing there, trying to be resolute, but her voice was wavering, her thoughts a sort of mushy panic. She didn't deserve this.

Aimee was shaking Lane now without any thought to her power, which Lucas wondered at, and he wanted things to stop but he wasn't sure how. He'd barely met Aimee and he didn't know Lane at all; most of him was screaming to get the hell out of there.

As he was standing there awkwardly, uselessly, a blonde haired girl-- Erin, he recognized-- appeared on the scene. Her mind seemed to be going through a deja vu, and from it he gleaned more clues about the soap opera-like history of the yearlies at Laurel, which he was already getting tired of. He stole a glance at Nina and Sterling, who seemed to be still exchanging insults from across the cafeteria.

Erin pushed the two girls apart and spoke pleadingly to first both of them, then exclusively Lane. Lucas took the opportunity to walk right up to Aimee and gently tug her sleeve to get her attention, careful to not touch any skin.

"Aimee...?" he said quietly. He didn't know what to say after that. Are you ok-- no, she wasn't. What's wrong-- she probably knew he knew. So he left her name hanging in the air.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Daniel Ahn Character Portrait: Sterling Walker Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov

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Everything is fine as Nina mumbles that she is fine. He supposes her head must hurt from the drinking last night, and is moving to offer a pain reliever before the thank you slips in. His eyebrows shoot up, having not expected those words. The Queen shows her thanks in small smiles, a touch of the hand, a silent communication. Not in the straightforward manner of speaking aloud the two words. In some fae lore, faeries do not waste thank you because it is binding to an obligation, a debt. They take it very seriously- something he'd always applied to the Queen as well. And yet now she casually wastes them, mumbles them. He can dismiss this as a symptom of a hangover as well, though it may have given him cause for slight pause.

And then it begins. The Queen mumbles, backtracks, stumbles over her words. For once, Daniel Ahn is left without some clever comeback, some witty response, some anything. He can only watch, uncomfortable, as Nina trips over herself both figuratively and literally. Any attempt he begins to help is waved away, as though that haughty motion can make over for the lack of grace that he has just seen her display. She has never been so flustered before, even after a night of drinking. Even when intoxicated Nina has always possessed a sort of fluidity, a cockiness that he has appreciated as being justified by her talents and appearance.

Grumbling. Stumbling. Wavering. Is something wrong? Daniel has never seen the Romanov display such vulnerability. He counts himself among her closest circle of people, but still has never really been let in. He accepts this easily, being equally closed off even in the vulnerability he quietly releases to people such as her. It is a subtle sensitivity, one which many overlook until they have stepped on it, noticing only then that it had ever been placed at their feet in the first place.

"No, there isn't an oth-" a straightforward question he can at least manage to answer without making this situation worse, Daniel presumes. But already Nina has rushed past him and out the door. He remains still as the door slams shut behind her, processing what has just happened.

Once again, she has appeared so human, so tangible. That feeling of discomfort at this creeps up on him once more. How is one expected to react when someone they thought they had some grasp on acts so uncharacteristically? Daniel has no programming for this breach of protocol. So he walks over to his bed and begins to make it, as if that will allow him to clear his mind. It smells differently, though, likely from her having stayed there. The scent differs from his expensive cologne and lemon cleaning products, but in a way that is not unpleasant. He almost enjoys the scent, in fact.

Is this what Nina smells like? he wonders, startled at his own question. He'd never really paid heed before.

Daniel is strangely slow in finishing with making the bed. He notices something on the floor.

By the time he has walked into the cafeteria, Erin and Lucas have begun to step in, and Sterling and Nina are having their conversation. He walks as he normally does, pace brisk and yet unrushed. He has all the time in the world, and is simply choosing not to waste it with a leisurely pace.

"Miss Romanov," he greets Nina, quietly slipping a thin bracelet he had found into her hand. The subtlety is for the sake of appearances, for he knows the wrong conclusions will be drawn if he mentions her forgetting it in his room.

"Walker, was it?" He regards Sterling dismissively, expression disinterested with the slightest clouding of a threat in a movement of the mouth and flick of the eye.

"I'm going to buy breakfast," he adds, retreating to the lunchline with the knowledge that when it regards Sterling, Nina seems to prefer handling it herself. Daniel respects this. A good knight knows his boundaries.

Characters Present

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

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#, as written by Layla
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XXX
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      XXXHaving lacked the need to interact, Sterling Walker and Daniel Ahn are as familiar with one other as the night is with daylight. Though Sterling knows one thing for certain, and that is that the foreign Influential is as expressive as a metal stool and nearly twice as cold. Daniel's face scarcely contorts as he speaks and he stares at Sterling with an intensity that might cripple the weak but only feeds into Sterling's already abundant amusement. He observes with an almost childish glee that though Daniel towers over most, he beats him by a solid three inches.
      XXXNina tenses ever so slightly when Daniel's hand slips into her own. A flush rises from her neck to her cheeks and Sterling's grin widens at the sight. Nina might've honed her abilities of deception and manipulation in the past four years, but her blood did not lie. She'd always been somewhat predisposed to flushing from embarrassment or, ooo, this is gold. Does our darling Romanov Princess have a crush on the frigid prince?
      XXX"Why, is that a blush, Miss Romanov?" he says shortly after Daniel's departure, mocking the way Daniel addresses her. "You'd think that after spending a night together, you'd be on a first name basis by now."
      XXXNina gawks at him like a fish out of water. It's been a while since he's seen her so flustered. Something that feels dangerously like hope unravels in the pit of his stomach. He can almost pretend nothing has changed. He can almost see the old Nina, the one who blushed and twittered like a deer caught in the headlines whenever he teased her. He could have imagined it, had Nina not opened her mouth.
      XXX"That's not what happened," she grinds through her teeth.
      XXX"Oh?" Sterling quirks a brow.
      XXX"He was being a gentleman."
      XXX"Sure."
      XXX"I was out of it."
      XXX"I know."
      XXX"We're just friends."
      XXX"So you do have friends."
      XXX"No, I mean- That's not what I-" Nina shifts her weight from foot to foot. "We're not friends."
      XXX"Trust me, I can tell." Sterling beams and wiggles his eyebrows suggestively.
      XXX"You are so exasperating! Why do I even need to explain myself?"
      XXX"I don't know, you tell me." Nina makes an exasperated noise and turns away. Sterling remains with his hip against the table and his arms crossed over his chest, a smirk playing on his lips. "Hope your boy doesn't get in trouble for the Cameron fiasco."
      XXXNina jerks to a halt and turns to Sterling, slowly. Her brows lower in warning and she turns to an Elite, one of the many who flock around her like moths to a flame. She purses her lips as if to say, explain.
      XXX"W-well... There w-w-was a..."
      XXX"You're wasting my time," Nina growls.
      XXXThe junior taps hastily at his tablet and hands Nina the latest Breadbowl entry. That is his first mistake, Sterling can imagine, because Nina's utter disdain for the Breadbowl is a commonly known fact. But instead of calling for the younger boy's head, her eyes flit from one side of the screen to another as she reads. She shoves the iPad back at the boy when she's done, nearly pushing him into a passing student.
      XXX"I take it that you don't recall the events that transpired last night?" Sterling questions, smug.
      XXXInstead of responding, Nina seems preoccupied with something over his shoulder. Sterling glances behind him to see a familiar wash of golden hair bursting into the dining hall. He frowns and pushes off the table, ready to walk over. If it had merely been between Aimee and Lane, he would not have interfered. But Erin is small, awkward, and virtually useless. He moves towards them, but Nina has beaten him to it.






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      XXX
      XXXSure, she doesn't care about them, or that's what she tells herself. But she isn't a fan of dividing the work. Queens command their peasants, peasants do not command each other. Nobody's allowed to pick on them except me. Who does Aimee think she is? The dining hall is Nina's turf. Her space for humiliating others and terrorising unsuspecting individuals. You're terrible, she thinks, but there isn't much energy behind the self-harassment today.
      XXXShe strides towards the scene, the long indigo sundress trailing behind her like shadows and ink. She spots the boy from yesterday and decides to ignore him completely - for now.
      XXX"I don't give a shit if you weren't thinking! You knew!" Aimee yells, her voice towering above all other sounds in the dining hall. Everyone has silenced to witness the conflict unfold. Nina doesn't even blink at the outburst, being wholly accustomed to anger. Her family business predominantly involves military weapons after all. Mr and Mrs Romanov aren't exactly the most pleasant people. Still, she's rather surprised at Aimee's outburst. Nina hadn't realised the little thing had so much spunk.
      XXXLane is weeping. Aimee is screeching. Erin is begging. What's-his-name is wimping. Who the hell stops a fight with a barely discernible whisper? The growing crowd around the cat fight parts like butter through a hot knife as Nina sashays through their midst. She lifts a brow and wears an expression that is decidedly bored, with just a pinch of sadistic interest.
      XXX"Aimee, darling, if we're to hold each other responsible for mistakes made under the influence, we'd have to conduct a fair trial, don't you think?" Nina wears a wicked gleam in her eyes and a dangerous smile on her lips. Even though she's chosen to sit on the dining table with her legs crossed, she seems to tower over everyone.
      XXX"And you're no angel, Sweet Hart," Nina says quietly. She tosses Aimee a wink and hops off the table. The Elites hover around her like the Jury to the Judge.
      XXXPredators don't share their prey, Nina says in her mind, in case she, by some miracle, manages to fool herself into thinking she's doing this out of the goodness of her own heart.
      XXX"My God, I actually agree with you. This must be the Armageddon," a deep voice intones. A nerve feathers at the edge of Nina's temple. Don't look, don't look. But she sees them anyway in her periphery. Sterling hovers protectively near Erin's shoulder, a hand pressed to his chest in mock horror and the other resting on the small of Erin's back. He's always had a knack for cracking jokes at the most inappropriate of times. Nina would sooner walk through Hell than admit it, but she's missed and appreciates his dreadful timing and wry humour. But the bitter remnants of old jealousy twists through her at the sight of Erin and Sterling. Together as they had been those years ago. You betrayed me first, she thinks of Erin.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Sterling Walker Character Portrait: Lane Blackwell Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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Aimee continues to scream and suddenly she's grabbing Lane's shoulders. Lane coils back unable to make out the words the girl is saying. She presses her hand to her mouth tears streaking down her face. Everything seems blurry, even the words and the sounds. People are gravitating towards the scene, speaking in hushed but echoing tones until Aimee's voice breaks through saying one last nothing, one last snip at Lane's heart. "You didn't care Lane! You didn't care at all!" With that her heart has surely shattered and although no words come out, Lane's mouth stays open.

There is a swift touch and pull to her shoulder and she's ripped away from Aimee. Lane looks to her right, the voice of reason has come to rescue us all...hopefully At the sound of Erin's voice Lane feels an immediate rush of calmness because Erin is all that Lane has, no siblings, no parents, just her. And it takes no more than Erin's touch for Lane to stop crying and collect herself. It has always been this way. From the time they were small. If Lane were to scrap herself on the jungle jim, surely enough Erin would be there to hold her, until she calmed. If a boy had broken her heart, Erin was there. And now Erin is here.

"You can't try to force this" Are the next words spoken and Lane is searching Erin's face for something visible, some familiar. Nina.... Erin and Nina... This is...the same. Lane purses her lips.

Speaking of...

Nina is striding towards the 3 girls with great speed, Sterling ahead of her and now Lucas by Aimee's side. Is a private conversation with someone I slept with to much to ask? Lane glances back to Aimee, her rages seems to have settled down only slightly. She looks to her eyes, pleading for forgiveness yet not saying a thing as Nina strides into the ring, creating a wall between the two girls. Pain shoots through her hands as she wonders what Nina could possibly have to say in a situation she had absolutely nothing to do with.
In some kind of contorted way the Queen begins to defend Lane for her actions. She speaks in such a clean yet vague voice that Lane takes a step backwards, bumping into Erin. Her friend seems as well stunned by Nina's appearance. It strikes Lane how well her ex-friend can hit someone so hard in the heart with less that a glance in their direction. "Nina, this has nothing to fucking do with you..." Lane musters the first thing that comes to mind as well as the first thing she's said since everyone had entered themselves into the scene. She doesn't wish to speak to Nina, she wants to talk to Aimee and Aimee solely.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Sterling Walker Character Portrait: Lane Blackwell Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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#, as written by piearty
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Just like that, Nina appeared like a celebrity on the red carpet, quickly drawing the attention to her, only to her. Lucas didn’t have to check anyone’s thoughts to know that she was extremely unwanted by everyone around, him includedβ€”that is, everyone except her gawking β€œElite” paparazzi. He wasn’t even sure she herself wanted to be there, or if she was just drawn there by some internal β€˜queenly’ obligation. No one’s allowed to pick on them except me, she thought as she approached, and he was reminded of a child, petulantly refusing to share what she saw as her β€˜toys’.

If he weren’t so scared of her, he’d pity her.

She spoke, just specific enough for people to think she knew what had happened, just vague enough to hide that she really, really didn’t. While her eyes seemed to hide secrets, her mind at this point held none at all. All it was doing was pulling together context clues and body language and wording, trying to piece together a guess as to what was going on. He wanted to laugh.

Lucas’ eyes darted around to each person. Aimee, Lane, Erin, Nina, Sterling, him, not to mention the dozens of people viewing them, and Daniel sure to come soonβ€” he realized with a sinking feeling that this was a scene, they were causing a scene, and he had enough of those for the summer, if not the rest of the year and his life.

β€œNina, this has nothing to fucking do with you…” Lane muttered, and though she was right, though he agreed with her, he could almost see the wrath this would cause from the so-called princess. Either that or the horrible despondency, and he couldn’t take that again either. Panic twinged in his chest.

He was still holding onto Aimee’s sleeve. Hoping he remembered how her power worked and with only the slightest flicker of movement, he brushed his thumb against the bare skin of her arm, thinking quickly, She doesn't know anything. Don’t play her game. Let’s go.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Sterling Walker Character Portrait: Lane Blackwell Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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Aimee instantly resented Erin for pulling Lane away, but with Erin blocking the smaller girl from view, Aimee's rage started to subside. Instead there was just this ringing in her ears. A constant frequency that deafened her and blocked out all other sound. She hadn't remembered. She'd been so focused on hurting Lane that she hadn't remembered to put her wall up, to block herself from the emotional tidal wave. Everything that had happened with Lane since their first break had soared through her head, putting a literal damper on her rage. Lane was so sad, and it was mostly caused by Aimee.

At this point, her eyes had widened to saucers, and when Lucas touched her shoulder, she flinched violently and looked at him. What are you doing here? In another mind, she would have been extremely grateful that he was careful not to touch any skin. But now, the ringing was still there, and she couldn't hear what he was saying, but she assumed it was her name. She opened her mouth as if to respond, and the ringing stopped. "Lucas..." she murmured, not focused on anything, only able to take in Lucas right in front of her. I can't think straight, I can't... It was too much. All of Lane's emotions, all of the screaming, Lucas, Nina, everyone, it was too much for her.

But she couldn't shrink yet. The Queen was in the circle. She sat atop a lunch table, looking extremely and ironically regal. Aimee watched her, her eyes still saucer-wide, as Nina put a handle on the situation. I didn't...what? She thought as Nina hopped off the table and said something quietly to Aimee. All of the rage that had sat in Aimee for so long had vanished, replaced by complete and utter sadness. It wasn't really placed, and if she were to actually dissect what it was pinpointed to, she wasn't sure she could figure it out. Aimee looked at Lane, still partially hidden by Erin and now Sterling, and she felt...nothing. Not rage, not sadness, just...empty. She felt Lucas's thumb on her shoulder, and her head whipped towards his. She heard his thoughts, saw his life again, but she couldn't speak. She had no will left in her to do so.

Aimee turned without a backward glance and walked away. She was shut down. She didn't care what Nina, Lane, or Erin had to say to her. She didn't care about any of it. She just walked with no clear path until she was somewhere near her dorm. She walked up the stairs until she was in front of her door, and she found the door open. Odd, she thought. Was she really that unhinged that she had forgotten to lock her door? She walked inside, and with no amount of effort, simply sat on her knees, on the floor, looking out the window. She put her head in her hands, and all of a sudden, she just screamed.

Her scream echoed in reality and in her mind, a sheer pitch filled with every single emotion that had been racing through her that day. She didn't know who heard her, if anyone did, but she couldn't stop. Just one long stream of scream that never faltered until she didn't have any breath left. When it was over, she just sat there, her head in her hands, in the posture of defeat. In some part of her mind, she knew it was ridiculous. It was the first day, and she had many more to go, but she also felt that there was no stopping it. If she didn't let herself feel this now, then she wouldn't be able to deal with anything coming her way for the rest of the summer. So, she sat there, dwelling in her sadness and her emptiness, and thinking, what the hell could have happened to make life look like this?

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erin Hill Character Portrait: Sterling Walker Character Portrait: Lane Blackwell Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov Character Portrait: Aimee Hart Character Portrait: Lucas Long

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#, as written by Layla
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XXX
XXX
      XXX
      XXX"Nina, this has nothing to fucking do with you," Lane hisses. A laugh bursts from Sterling so quickly it nearly chokes him. He disguises it as a cough into his fist for the sake of appearances. At least try to look like you're not a sadist. Amusement lights his eyes like fireworks. This is the best day I've had all week, he muses. He hadn't known Lane had it in her.
      XXXNina blinks slowly, seemingly frozen for a few long pauses. Gasps echo all around as people stumble with shock. They gape at Lane, some with horror, others pity, many with respect. Still they edge away from the scene. It seems their fear of the Queen's retaliation pushes them away more than the drama, for that they crave. No one wants to be in the Queen's crossfire.
      XXXBut nobody, not even Sterling, can foresee Nina bursting into laughter. The sound is so bizarre, yet so familiar, Sterling forgets to breathe. For a second he sees his Nina in his mind.
      XXXHer hands move frantically as she speaks to Lane and Erin, the grin she wears revealing the dimples in her cheeks. Her laugh is the rattling of wind chimes.
      XXX"Jesus, your eyes are huge," Sterling teases. "You're like one of those stuffed toys that squeak when you squeeze it."
      XXXNina's hair curls around her thick framed glasses as she turns away from the girls, drawing attention to her big, sky blue eyes. She gawks, blushing furiously as she shifts from side to side. She tugs at her sleeves, gaze darting nervously from one shoe to another. Laughing, Sterling reaches over and ruffles her hair. Nina mutters a protest, darting away to loop a scrawny arm through Erin's elbow.

      XXXThe memory is shattered by the girl who stands before him now like a superimposed picture. The younger Nina he cared for hovers like a mirage, a ghost of past lives. This Nina wears her skin well, confidence radiating from her in waves that could blind the weak. Some might say this is the better Nina. He is certain the House of Romanov thinks so. She has become the splitting image of her mother, a mother she had once described to him as "terrifying."
      XXX"My dear," Nina purrs. "If you want a private conversation, you should leave the public space." Remnants of her unexpected humour reveal the dimples in her cheeks. Chuckles arise from some of the students around them as she continues. "Your voices aren't exactly inconspicuous."
      XXXShe is wildly infuriating, but God is she good at this game. Sterling would be impressed had it not been for the slight flaw that is Nina's entire personality. It seems malevolence has done good things for Nina's sense of humour. How someone can simultaneously become more charming and more horrible, he isn't sure.
      XXXAimee walks away before anything else can be said. Sterling dismisses her, hovering around Erin with minimal proximity. In truth, he can protect her from across the room. But he remains close, partially in the hopes that it will annoy her. Someone has to alleviate his boredom, although it seems today will be an interesting one indeed.

Characters Present

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

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Erin is at Lane's side, and the asian boy from before is at Aimee's. Every piece has their support system, however rooted into the past they may or may not be. It eases the guilt Erin has over focusing on Lane more than Aimee, to know that there is someone focusing on that girl as well. She gives the guy a quick look, thankful, but chances are he doesn't see it. Thank you, he is doing this for Aimee's sake, of course, not hers, and that is all the more reason for gratitude. Erin just desperately wants for all those she considers decent to be happy. Even some that she hates, some part of her wants them to find happiness. Nina, she thinks, could perhaps return to some semblance of her former self if only she could be happy. Sterling, even, she would wish happiness to, if that would make things right and get him to leave her alone. Daniel, the human robot, could perhaps find some new programming for joy that would make him less cold and severe.

But Erin is a sap whose wishes are outside her reach, and she knows it. She hadn't always known it, but is fiercely aware now.

And thus walks -no, floats- in the woman who shoved back the curtains and did her damnedest to scorch the optimism out of Erin's retinas (though Erin is notoriously good at bouncing back), Nina Romanov.

Oh, not now. Please, for once just keep your claws out of this wound Nina. Please, Erin has been thinking and saying please a lot lately. No one has time to waste on her niceties, though. Lane had just begun to relax beneath Erin's hand, she could feel it. Everything was just about to be okay, about to be resolved- and then enter the dragon.

And her breath is removed from her lungs as Nina chooses to stand up for Lane, rather than claw her eyes out. Erin steps away from Lane to watch, finding it difficult to find air. It is sly, sarcastic, careless, but it is a defense. Erin almost dares hope this is the sign of something, but even an optimist must know when to fold their cards. She folded on Nina long after she should have, but still more than a year or so ago. Those aren't cards she's willing to pick back up, for fear of razor blade edges.

A warmth at her back. Believing it to be Anthony, arrived to stand silently beside her, she begins to breathe steadily once more, unclenching her fists. She couldn't have been more incorrect in her assumption.

His voice speaks up behind her, just inches from her ear. The realization of Sterling's nearness makes her shiver, though she interprets it as a shudder. Naturally she immediately steps away such that his hand will no longer be on her back. You two are the last people we need right now. Everything was fine. It was fine. You decided to leave us, don't keep trying to come back, Erin hadn't realized her eyes were shut until she opens them once more.

Lane is hissing at Nina, words Erin had thought but not vocalized. Nina is laughing. Her dimples are flashing in that way Erin used to melt over. Now it just makes her more tense. Glancing at Sterling, she realizes he must be thinking the same thing. How incredibly stupid the pair of them are, half in love with the memory of a girl.

Erin hates herself for it. Luckily, the current girl will not allow Erin to forget that the old her is gone. Her words are tickled with malice, purring like a panther content with its kill. Aimee is gone now. It is only them. Why is only ever them, in the end? Lane, Erin, Nina, Sterling. The lens through which one might witness deterioration at its finest.

And Sterling is still there , close enough that she can feel it. No doubt she remembers, though she was too drunk to fully understand. Another shiver- no, shudder.

The bell rings, a saving grace calling them for their first class. She prays that Speech and Debate will have a quiet, simple group. She prays she won't have to speak- this isn't a class she took by choice.

"If you would kindly find some other person's air to breathe, I have to get to debate," she isn't able to look at Sterling as she says this, knowing she might snap or break or simply collapse if she does. Stop making Nina hate me more than she already does.

She sees a dark shadow approaching, Daniel Ahn come to his Queen's side a bit too late. Perhaps that was on purpose.

"Let's go, Nina," he says, finally speaking her name out loud.

And so charges the lightning brigade, unknowingly into the valley of death. As Keevan might call it, the perfect pressure cooker scenario.

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