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Lee Romero

"We're just strangers with the same damn hunger to be loved."

0 · 1,198 views · located in Roseville

a character in “The Devil You Know”, originally authored by partially-stars, as played by RolePlayGateway

Description

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age: 21
sexuality: bisexual
birthday: july 27
occupation: english/journalism student. part-time bartender.
hexcode: #4e4956xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxstrangersxx||xx life of the partyxx ||xx last hope




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secrets:
as a teenager, lee was blackmailed into selling sex. somebody had some compromising footage of him, and told him it would be released to the world if he didn't do exactly as he was told. at first, it was small things, things he could handle. but when he started being forced to have sex with grown men and women, he started doing anything he could to get out of it. eventually, he became so desperate that he just went to the police. the video was never released, as far as he knows, but there's a part of him that still worries.
likes
writing
coffee
herbal tea
house plants
books
running
fashion
cats
x
dislikes
bad journalism
hypocrites
manipulative people
being tired
stereotypes
feeling weak
being drunk
feeling pressured to do things











quirks
only wears his glasses when he's tired
almost always cold
has a love/hate relationship with sex
always well dressed
plays with his clothes when anxious
fears
the video being found
his secrets being told
angry dogs
heights
enclosed spaces











we're just strangers with the same damn hunger to be loved




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appearance:
at 5'11, lee stands only a little above average height. he's slim, with some muscle, but on the whole there isn't much to him. His hair is jet black and always just on the stylish side of messy. he doesn't do much maintenance with it, just runs his fingers through it and hopes for the best. He tans at the slightest ray of sun, and his skin stays a light brown all year round. His brown eyes are slightly downturned and narrow, but are bright, and friendly when he smiles. He usually wears contacts, but wears his glasses on occasion- usually when he's tired or stressed. he's always quite well dressed, and is seldom seen looking disheveled. his ears are pierced, and he has a tragus piercing in his right ear. he also has a number of small, easily hidden tattoos. his favourite is an outline of an elephant on his ribs, with the words "je ne regrette rien" in a fancy script beneath. he also has a paper airplane on his inner forearm, gotten the summer he went travelling, a flock of birds on one shoulder blade, and "breathe" over his heart.
personality:
lee comes across as an open book to many. unapologetic about who he is, he's flirtatious, he's open with his affections, and he's regularly found sprawled across some of his friends. he laughs easily, and is known to get the giggles in the middle of a lecture over something relatively small. outspoken is perhaps the wrong word for him, but he's not afraid to speak his mind or to say that something is wrong if it's wrong. he's honest with everyone around him, but not brutally so. at times, he's adventurous, loving exploring and trying new things. he went travelling with a few friends last summer and developed a wanderlust he fears may never be fulfilled. he has been known to hook up with people for one night stands, but that's where things get a little... complicated.

many expect lee to be more promiscuous than he actually is. but sex is a complicated subject to him. when you spend eighteen months being manipulated into having sex with total strangers, sometimes the thought of having sex with strangers makes him panic a little. but sometimes, it feels liberating that he can now do it out of his own choice. he hates being drunk, because he feels like he's not in control of himself, of his own fight. getting drunk is how this all began. underneath the surface, despite appearances, lee is an anxious mess. half the time he doesn't even know why he's anxious. he got on flights to jet around the world with his friends, and spent weeks wandering around unfamiliar cities, and that was when he felt at his least anxious. he's afraid that everybody knows, that everyone is going to turn on him and betray him. he sometimes shoves people away when he's particularly bad, because he lets his brain convince him that they don't love him or even like him. he lets his anxiety rule him and refuses to do anything about it or talk about it. he has himself convinced that doing so will only give people more ammunition, will just make people like him even less. he's a little lost, feeling like he isn't in control of his fate.


somewhere in between who i used to be, and who i'll be tomorrow.



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lee's upbringing was thoroughly unremarkable. he was the youngest of two kids, his sister being 5 years older than him. they were close, but still fought and argued from time to time. lee's parents were pretty open-minded, and knew that trust was the most important thing with their kids. so they always trusted them, and the trust was mutual. lee had an idea that he wasn't just attracted to girls from a young age, but nothing really came of it.

as a teenager, lee was much more into partying than his sister ever had been. not to the point where it was a problem- again, him and his parents were open about it. they didn't have a problem with him having a few drinks, as long as he was smart about it. and for the most part, he was. then there was one night. his parents were out of town, so he was going to be staying with a friend anyway. he had a few more drinks than usual, and his inhibitions were gone. there was a guy at the party, a guy lee recognised. a friend of his sister's or her boyfriend or something. they ended up having sex. it was supposed to be a one time thing. but at a party a few weeks later, when lee was more sober, they hooked up again, against lee's best judgement. this proved to be one of the worst mistakes he'd made.

unknownst to lee, the older guy had filmed it. he threatened to send it to all of lee's friends and family if lee didn't do as he was told. lee wasn't yet out to his family, and while he had already been planning on coming out to them, this wasn't how he wanted it to be. so he did as the boy said. at first it was small things. then it turned into something more malicious. lee would attend parties with him, and lee would then be forced to have sex with strangers. the other man was generous. he let lee keep some of the money he earned. but after a while, after the guy turned malicious when lee refused to do something, lee realised that he needed to get out. he came out to his family, then went to the police and told him what had happened. they caught him and it transpired that lee wasn't the only person who he'd manipulated in such a way. lee left for college before the court case was even over, and he had deliberately chosen somewhere far away. he doesn't go home all that much, not with all the memories it brings up. he's afraid he'll run into someone who recognises him from those parties, or worse, a former client. so he finds excuses not to go back. but he still talks to his family regularly. he's hoping that he would have been able to leave it all behind him, but now he's being called home.

So begins...

Lee Romero's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Lee Romero Character Portrait: Lincoln Cole Character Portrait: Willow Henderson Character Portrait: Lateefah Hart Character Portrait: Tallulah Ashmore Character Portrait: Heather Swan
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xXxLEExROMERO
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xxxlocation: party xxxxxxxxxoutfit: here

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xxx"now it's four in the morning
xxxi'm just trying to find myself.
xxxwhat the hell did i do?
xxxi'm the life of the party."

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A few days after the funeral, a day or two after they’d all been interviewed. It had been an intense few days, and they all needed to let off steam. So somebody had thrown a party. A mutual friend, a friend of Sarah, the girl who had been murdered. She’d been such a wonderful person, one of those people who’s always looking out for everyone else, who had been involved in pretty much every club going. Turns out she’d been hooked on prescription drugs. That hadn’t been what had killed her- it had been revealed that it had been a murder, that she’d actually been in a rehab programme to get off the drugs.

At first, it had been quiet. Chill. Mostly just a chance for everyone to talk. But now it was starting to liven up, to become an actual party. The alcohol was flowing, but it was still at that nice point where things were still fun, and nobody was messy drunk or out of control. Everyone seemed to be having a good time.

Everyone, that was, except for Lee Romero. The anxiety was starting to creep in as it started to feel more and more like... those parties. And his anxiety had already been at a higher level than usual what with the brutal interrogation from the police. Well. It hadn’t been that brutal. But it had been intense and unpleasant and it had been with the same police officers he’d gone to about Neil, the man who had manipulated him and forced him to have sex with strangers. At first, he thought they were going to tell him that he had been released. Instead, he’d been questioned. He hated it.

And now, for some ungodly reason, he was at a party. He hadn’t even ran into anyone he knew yet. He was just standing there, clutching a drink, and wishing he was somewhere else entirely. What if a... client showed up? What if nobody he knew showed up? What if Neil had gotten out and he showed up?

But he couldn’t bring himself to leave. He took another sip of his coke and waited. Half an hour. If nobody showed up, he could leave after half an hour.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Lee Romero Character Portrait: Lincoln Cole Character Portrait: Willow Henderson Character Portrait: Lateefah Hart Character Portrait: Tallulah Ashmore Character Portrait: Heather Swan
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xRebeccaxCruze
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xLocation: Party |xOutfit: Here |xMakeup: Here

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xxx"So come and taste the reason
xxxI’m nothing like the rest.
xxxI'll kiss you in a way
xxxyou’ll never forget about me."

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EARLIER THAT WEEK:

β€œSo honey, when we going to break out those handcuffs you have there and have some real fun?” Rebecca said to the police officer guarding the door, with a smile and wink to the officer guarding the door out of the interrogation room, not getting much of a reaction besides a chuckle. She changed her smile to a frown/pouty face. β€œYou’re no fun. And if this is about a parking ticket from years ago, isn’t there a statue of limitations for that?” Rebecca asked, getting up from her chair and fixing her hair in the mirror which she knew was a window on the other side. She had asked numerous times about why she was brought here, but they refused to tell her. She had only been back in the states for a couple days, and hadn’t yet bought her ticket home. She wasn’t entirely sure how long she would stay in town, she had gotten a couple weeks off from work so she wasn't too worried.

The door opened, and two detectives walked in. β€œMiss Cruze, yo-β€œ Rebecca quickly interrupted the man talking. β€œPlease darling, call me Rebecca, or later.” She said obviously flirting with him, and going back to sitting in the chair, putting her legs on the table as she took off her heels. If this was about parking tickets, she was going to try to sweet talk her way out of it. β€œAs I was saying Miss Cruze, when was the last time you visited Roseville?” He asked as he sat down putting a folder onto the table. β€œWell, honestly, not since I left a while ago and moved to London. Lived there ever since.” She answered the one of the detective’s questions β€œHow would you describe your relationship with the victim.” Abigail had a puzzled look on her face. β€œThe victim? You mean Sarah? I guess you could say we use to be close. We slept together once but her at time girlfriend didn’t appreciate it, and Sarah blamed me for it, saying whatever she could to keep her girlfriend from breaking up with her, including some harsh and NOT true words. She keyed my car when I went to leave the apartment, that bitch." Rebecca paused a second. "But we patched things up before I left, we were good friends. Wait what is going on here?” As she finished the detectives slid the folder and opened it up. Rebecca gasped, and some tears came down her face. β€œMa’am, you are being investigated as a possible suspect for the murder of Sarah Green.” And the interrogation began.

PRESENT TIME:

All around was upbeat music playing, people reconnecting, having a good time. The whole atmosphere of the whole house was very high and happy. Rebecca leaned back, reaching for her drink with one hand, and the other holding herself onto the lap of a male β€œSo you’re from England? I love brits” The man, which Rebeeca was sitting in the lap of, said. ”Oy yes. I live in London, right by the royal palace.” She replied with a giggle and a very, very bad English accent. Somehow this guy heard that Rebecca flew in from London and wanted to know more, so Rebecca took this chance to make out with a moderately attractive guy. Plus it would be fun to do a bad English accent.

Rebecca gave him a light kiss on the cheek after finishing the rest of her drink. β€œI’m going to go get more of this American beer you yanks drink.” She said as she got off his lap and walked away from, debating with herself if she would go back to him, or find another person to β€œtalk” to, a lot of people were here and Rebecca was having a great time, she really did miss this place. Especially her group of friends she had back then.

Rebecca had not seen any of them since she left all that time ago, even at the funeral she stayed at the back. Lee, Heather, Lateesha, Willow, Link, Tallulah. All the adventures they’ve had. That time Rebecca jumped off the roof of the school into a ball pit because of a dare from Lincoln, competitions with Lee to see who kiss the most people in a row without being stood up, to drunk make out sessions with some of the others, and much more adventures. Rebecca felt guilty and terrible for leaving, but she had to, she could barely stand this town after what happened. She couldn’t even drive down the road it happened, always taking a 15-minute detour around it.

As Rebecca looked up from the cooler, someone immediately caught her eye across the room, standing there awkwardly. "Lee!?" She said outloud, she hadn't seen Lee since she left for London. She walked over and wrapped her arms around him in a hug, kicking one of her legs back as she hugged him. "I'm glad to see you again. How have you been?" Rebecca asked as she stepped back after hugging him, with a smile on her face.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Lee Romero Character Portrait: Lincoln Cole Character Portrait: Lateefah Hart
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0.00 INK

xLINCOLNXxCOLE
═══════════════════════════
xlocation: party xxoutfit: here

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xxx"for all the light that i've shut out,
xxxfor all the innocent things i doubt.
xxxfor all the bruises i've caused and tears.
xxxfor all the things that i've done,
xxxall these years."


"So, Mr. Cole, you were one of her last contacts in Sara's phone before her death," the investigating officer asked a pretty pissed off looking Lincoln. His brows furrowed as he looked up towards the man. He had been in rooms like this before. Getting caught stealing from stores for his brother and himself to live. Speaking of which, he needed to see Henry. The man felt guilty about not seeing his brother in such a long time. Aside from that point, Lincoln would look angrily towards the officer. "She had called me to check up on me, aside from her addiction issues in the past, her and I were a close as children. She helped me with my younger brother sometimes. I had to check up on her, she was doing fine. Give me a lie detector test if you want, but before I answer anything more I know my rights. I want a goddamn lawyer." Lincoln spoke in a calm manner, despite his angered appearance, he would then give a smirk to the officer and lean back in his chair.

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After being irritated by the pigs of Roseville for around an hour, who harassed him as a teen. He would be making it towards the house where the party in Sara's honor. Hopping on his baby, he'd rev up the engine and make his way down to the party. Trying to ignore the small hope that a person he fucked up with so bad was there, so he could possibly make amends. His eyes focused on the road he'd reach the party hearing music play softly from the house, so he was late. Link was never on time. He hoped Tee had made it safely to the party, even though they lived together in Cali, they simply made their own ways of getting to Roseville.

Stopping his bike on the street, he'd get off the bike and begin to walk in. Immediately, Lincoln was greeted with a wave of hellos from previous teammates from the football team, and girls would wink at him. Some had given him condolences on his father, he accepted with fake smiles, but he was truly happy the bastard was dead. As he walked deeper into the crowd his eyes landed on a dark-haired boy, that Lincoln hoped for his safety that he'd never see again. Quickly looking away he'd focus his attention on some girl who was dancing in front of him, and he would just move along with the rhythm. Just down a few drinks Cole! Don't be a pussy, high school is done and over with he's probably forgiven you!! he thought before he would move away from the woman and move to the drinks. After downing a few cups of whatever alcohol they had, he would make his way towards the duo in the corner. As he did, he'd hang onto Rebecca and begin to giggle. "Heyyyyyyyyy!" he slurred as he stumbled and giggled again.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Lee Romero Character Portrait: Lincoln Cole Character Portrait: Willow Henderson Character Portrait: Lateefah Hart
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L A T E E F A HXH A R T
_____T H EXT O R T U R E DXA R T I S T_____

Outfit: Link Here || Hair
Location: The Party
Dialogue Color ✦ #C35817
Thought Color ✧ #730800


Never let it be said that Lateefah didn't try to make people happy.

If you had left it up to her, she would have been on the next flight back to California, regardless of the sinking feeling in her gut, alerting her that it might not be the best decision. It was kind of ironic. The same town she had clamored to get out of years ago seemed more like relief to her than the sunny state she was leaving behind. And in the midst of a funeral at that! Yet and still, she had stayed, mostly because - for the first time in her life - she and grandmother agreed on something: it would be too suspicious for Lateefah to go back to California after the interrogation earlier today.

"It seems like you and Sarah had left on bad terms," the police offer had said, trying so hard to sound cryptic and threatening. Lateefah had just stared at him, face blank. "You make a habit of leaving things like that, Miss Hart?" Lateefah had fought the urge to laugh in his face, but soldiered on - straight-faced - to tell him that unless she was being charged, she was leaving and would not return without a lawyer. To be fair, she and Sarah had left on bad terms, bad enough that it left the deterioration of Tee's friendship with Lee look like a lovers' spat. Sarah, Lincoln, and Lateefah had known one another since they were children, and while Link was able to look back with fondness on their relationship, the one Lateefah had with the girl had been tumultuous at best. There was a kind of love there that enabled Tee to feel the ache of Sarah's permanent loss, but while others remembered her for being sweet or the allusion of being sweet, Tee remembered the head cheerleader. The one who bitched about any and everyone behind their backs, but retained her snake-like debonair charm the second a classmate was in their midst. The same one who loved the idea of having friends, but having them in the ways she wanted them. Sarah had never been truly bad, but Tee had never considered her as good as everyone else either. Especially after she revealed that it was her who had told Lateefah's grandmother of her affair - and all because Sarah had wanted him first.

Needless to say, though, Lateefah hadn't killed her. Hadn't even been close enough to Roseville to consider doing it and she damn sure couldn't stomach it. She and Sarah had gone back and forth with ignoring one another until a month before her death. At that point, Lateefah had blocked her number. It still meant she couldn't make any sudden moves, so Tee had been prepared to throw her clothes off and lounge about in her old bedroom with her Netflix and some Chinese...until her grandmother had pouted about her morose mood and the sullen attitude of the entire town. How her grandmother knew that there was a party for young adults happening was beyond Tee, but after five minutes of pouting, she grabbed her keys, her leather jacket, and rolled out without so much as a goodbye.

She was loathe to admit it, but the party wasn't that bad. Lateefah was sober, clutching a cup of crushed ice she had gotten from the ice maker instead of the buckets of ice that had much larger chunks inside that she was casually chewing on, the flavor of the sprite beneath it adding a sweetness to her tongue that she could appreciate a lot more than any alcohol at the moment. She would have turned to the dining room of the home where old friends and classmates were hanging out, but then she spotted three very familiar faces. Faces she wasn't ready to see nor deal with, which was why she turned right instead, going down the hallway and making a quick left to the living room. She lived with Lincoln, so it wasn't a problem, and Tigger was always going to be Tigger. A refreshing glass of vivacity and cheeriness that made Tee want to smile. But Lee...Lateefah just didn't have it in her to pretend at the moment, especially not when she'd already warded off any attempts at getting to know her life away from Roseville. So, she whipped out her friend to see about a friend she actually wanted to see.

To: Willow
pls tell me i didnt come 2 dis party 4 u not 2 come

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Lee Romero Character Portrait: Lincoln Cole
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0.00 INK

xXxLEExROMERO
═══════════════════════════
xxxlocation: party xxxxxxxxxoutfit: here

Image

═══════════════════════════
xxx"now it's four in the morning
xxxi'm just trying to find myself.
xxxwhat the hell did i do?
xxxi'm the life of the party."


Even if Lee hadn't particularly wanted to be social tonight, all that changed when Rebecca appeared in front of him. He grinned and returned her hug, so glad to finally see her. They'd kinda fallen out of touch after she'd moved away. Lee had had too much on his plate. Things with Neil had reached breaking point, and it just wasn't something he wanted to deal with. So he'd let her go. Not exactly the best decision he'd made. "It's good to see you too! I'm great! How's England? I wasn't sure if you'd make it over," he gushed. It felt a little like he was just trying to cover up for not getting in touch. He wondered if she picked up on that. But before she got a chance to dwell on it, a distraction arrived in the form of Lincoln Cole.

Lee's stomach tightened, but for all the wrong reasons. This was the guy who had tried his best to make Lee's life living hell for years. And yet Lee still had the biggest fucking crush on him. It was so messed up. It was beyond messed up. Because when Lee looked at Lincoln, he didn't see the bully. He saw the guy he'd drunkenly messed around with when they were both freshmen. He saw all of Lincoln's denials. And Lee found himself wondering. Wondering.

"Hi, Lincoln. Oh, look at that, my cup is empty. I'll be back in a minute," he said, brushing past the two of them. He took a deep breath as he moved towards the drinks table. Somebody handed him a beer, and he was too distracted to even think twice about it. The man standing beside him did a double take. "Hey, dude, this might sound weird. But were you friends with a guy called Neil Crowley?"

Lee felt like somebody had poured a drink down his back. This is why it had been a mistake coming here tonight. "Nope, no clue who you're talking about. Excuse me." He turned around and headed back towards Rebecca. He was too close to turn back around when he remembered Lincoln's presence, so he just forced a smile as he went back to them. "So. How have you guys been?" He asked. Even if he usually hated being drunk, it was starting to seem like an increasingly better idea the more he considered it.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Lee Romero Character Portrait: Lincoln Cole Character Portrait: Tallulah Ashmore
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0.00 INK

xRebeccaxCruze
════════════════════════════════
xLocation: Party |xOutfit: Here |xMakeup: Here

Image

xxx"Oh, what a shame that you came here with someone
xxxSo while you're here in my arms
xxxLet's make the most of the night
xxxLike we’re gonna die young


════════════════════════════════

Rebeccan was glad to Lee smile, and listened to him talk β€œYeah, London has been great, just the break I needed from this small town. And barely made it, flight got delayed because of the weather, almost cancelled actually.” Rebecca replied to Lee. She wondered for a second why he never reached out to her, but to be fair she didn’t reach out either. Life was busy trying to adapt to a different country and climbing the corporate ladder.

Rebecca was caught off guard when hands came around her with a giggle. She quickly turned around expecting it to be the guy she was talking to before, but saw it was Link. β€œLink!” She threw her arms around him and leaned back in his arms. β€œCareful with your hands buddy, you still owe me a dinner.” Rebecca said giggling with Link, but then heard Lee comment about needing a drink, Rebecca knew it was just to walk away. She knew about bullying history between the two.

β€œNo problem, nothing fun ever happens with an empty cup” Rebecca commented as Lee walked away, then giving her attention back to Link. β€œSo… You and Cinnamon, living together now huh? When you going to pop the question?” Rebecca said jokingly, pointing at her left ring finger teasing Link. She didn’t think of them two getting married would actually happen, then again, they were an unexpected friendship.

During the conversation with Link, Rebecca noticed a little red head she recognize throw her drink into the face of a guyit made Rebecca giggle, but right after that Lee walked up asking how they’ve been. Rebecca saw that he had a drink in his hand, β€œMay I?” She asked, as she took his drink and just about chugged it, giving him a wink afterwards. She never got her second drink from the cooler before she saw Lee and walked over to him, so it was kind of his fault she didn’t get a drink, right?

β€œOh! I’ve been dying to tell someone this, but guess what.” Rebecca said getting all giggly and such, pausing for a second. β€œThe cops down at the station brought me in after Sarah’s funeral. And I totally thought it was about parking tickets or something from the before I left for London. But no! They interrogated me! Something about since me and Sarah had a slight falling out, they thought I could be a suspect in her murder! Can you believe that!? I’ve been in London.” Rebecca said crossing her arms and rolling her eyes.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Lee Romero Character Portrait: Lincoln Cole
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0.00 INK

xLINCOLNXxCOLE
═══════════════════════════
xlocation: party xxoutfit: here

Image

═══════════════════════════
xxx"for all the light that i've shut out,
xxxfor all the innocent things i doubt.
xxxfor all the bruises i've caused and tears.
xxxfor all the things that i've done,
xxxall these years."


Link spent most of the time that Lee was right there staring at him. His dark blue eyes would focus on the beautiful structure of Lee's face. His eyes were so beautiful, and his hair looked so soft. He wished he could touch it, hold him and just let him know he didn't mean what it was in high school. But the memory of the threats his father held over him as a teen still lingered in the back of his mind, but the absence of his sobriety seemed to numb it. As Lee stated he was going to get drinks, but Link just kept staring at him. Beauty. His mind seemed to be brought back to the present by Rebecca's voice. "Well I never thought you'd go streaking through the park," he paused before he looked at his drink. Maybe he should put it down, he still had to drive his bike home, he would place his drink on a nearby nightstand and become back into the conversation, still slurring slightly as he talked once more. "But, no Cinnamon and I aren't going to tie the knot. We aren't involved like that....she's not my type." he spoke this sentence carefully trying to make it sound like he just meant his type of girl.

When Lee came back Link went right back to staring towards the other male, his eyes focusing on the male's jawline. His lips. Ya know, just the normal things "heterosexuals" do when they stare at another person of the same-sex.

His gaze strained from Lee as he heard Rebecca tell the two that she was questioned. "I was questioned as well, but they know me down there.....pretty well. So they won't believe anything I say anyway. I was in Cali with Lateefah when she was murdered." he spoke before he would smile nervously. It wasn't he thought they didn't believe him. He was simply nervous about being around Lee, he had been so cruel to the other male in the past. All because he harbored a love for him, he was his first time with a male. And his last time, he refused to sleep with another man, because in his heart was Lee. So he forced himself to sleep with women and keep up his facade from high school. He believed Lateefah saw through him a few times but didn't speak about it. He would return to look towards the man he had caused so much harm, and just stare.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Lee Romero Character Portrait: Lincoln Cole Character Portrait: Tallulah Ashmore
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#, as written by catmint
xTallulahxAshmore
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xxxlocation: party xxxoutfit: here

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xxxdialogue: #F17418 xxxthoughts: #D44700

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xxx"all the people i know aren't who they used to be
xxxand if i try to change my life one more day
xxxthere would be nobody else to save
xxxand I can't change into a person I don't wanna be."



Meaningless chatter swirled through the air and Tallulah tried to shove her way towards the edges of the room. Maybe there she could just crawl into a ball and hide from the world for a while. She heard a few people mumbling about "death" and such things as she squeezed her way through the people. She shoved one hand in her pocket and gripped her necklace with the other. Tallulah kept her head down, trying desperately not to draw attention to herself, although that was becoming difficult with the guy she'd poured her drink on still screeching behind her. She did her best to ignore him.

Surely there was someone here that she knew.

She looked up from under her lashes and caught sight of a small group of people on the other side of the room. Familiar people. A small smile spread across Tallulah's face. How long had it been since she's seen them? She moved towards the group, cautiously passing through the small gaps between party-goers.

"Excuse me. Sorry. If I could just get through..."

Everyone moved out of her way but some scowled as she squeezed through. Wow, okay, sorry. Frickin' rude.

Tallulah wanted to call out to them but felt like it might not be the best idea with so many people around. She looked up again and saw that she was almost there. Not even bothering to say "excuse me" anymore, she pushed her way though, hoping that she didn't knock drinks out of anyone's hands, and finally arrived at her destination.

"Rebecca!"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Lee Romero Character Portrait: Lincoln Cole Character Portrait: Tallulah Ashmore
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xXxLEExROMERO
═══════════════════════════
xxxlocation: party xxxxxxxxxoutfit: here

Image

═══════════════════════════
xxx"now it's four in the morning
xxxi'm just trying to find myself.
xxxwhat the hell did i do?
xxxi'm the life of the party."


Lee just rolled his eyes as Rebecca stole his drink, grinning despite himself. "Get your own, bitch," he teased lightly. He could feel Link's eyes on him. He didn't know why, but he also knew he didn't stand a chance of holding any eye contact. He was glad when Rebecca suddenly changed the subject, revealing that she'd been interrogated as well. Lincoln said the same. "Huh, same here. Guess they're just interviewing everyone with any connection to her." He said, shrugging a little. And then a distraction arrived in the form of someone calling Rebecca's name. A familiar redhead, Tallulah Ashmore. She and Lee had been friends for a while, but when the whole Neil thing had come up, things had changed. And she seemed pretty focused on Rebecca right now which left... him and Lincoln. Fuck.

He drained the bottle of beer. Turns out Rebecca had left more than he'd expected. And had beer always tasted that weird? He shrugged it off and ran a hand through his hair. "So, uh, what are you up to these days, Lincoln?" He asked. God, small talk felt so weird in this situation. Given their history, just talking about college and stuff felt wrong. But what else could he say? "Hey Link, I've more or less forgiven you for bullying me, mostly because I actually really like you?" Lee would have to consume considerably more alcohol before that would have any chance of happening.

Over Lincoln's shoulder, he could see the guy who had asked him about Neil staring at him. He hadn't believed him. He knew. Lee turned his attention back to Lincoln, trying for force himself to make eye contact, but his eyes stopping to stare at that jaw, those lips, that face. The fingers of one hand started toying with the bottom of his jacket, as the other ran through his hair. God, did Lincoln pick up on how much he was fidgeting?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Lee Romero Character Portrait: Lincoln Cole Character Portrait: Lateefah Hart Character Portrait: Tallulah Ashmore
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xRebeccaxCruze
════════════════════════════════
xLocation: Party |xOutfit: Here |xMakeup: Here

Image

xxx"Oh, what a shame that you came here with someone
xxxSo while you're here in my arms
xxxLet's make the most of the night
xxxLike we’re gonna die young


════════════════════════════════

β€œFine, be that way.” Rebecca said handing the drink back to Lee and sticking her tongue out, leaving some left in there for him. β€œReally? They interrogated both of you, weird.” Rebecca said after hearing Lee and Link also talk about how the cops picked them up. Oh that makes sense. Rebecca thought to herself after Lee gave the suggestion of the cops talking to anyone connected her.

Rebecca was quickly taken out of the conversation when she heard someone call her name. β€œLula!” Rebecca said as she turned around and hugged Tallulah, lifting her off the ground a little. β€œHow has my Little Lula been?” Rebecca asked after setting her back down β€œBut seriously, gotta be so clichΓ© with throwing a drink in a guys face? Did you get that from a movie or from me?.” Rebecca said to Tallulah, giggling, starting up conversation with her.

Throughout the conversation Rebecca started feeling slightly dizzy, stumbling once into Link, but just smiling up at him and apologizing. Damn, feeling tipsy already Becca, such a light weight gosh. Rebecca looked back at Lee and Link, seeing that they were having a conversation, and not just Link bullying him, she smiled at them, lightly listening to their conversation.

β€œSo, you gonna get with any cute boys tonight? I’ve seen a couple.” Rebecca said to Tallulah. Yeah there were a couple guys, and girls, here she would get with, but she really just wanted to tell Lee how she felt and have him return feelings. But right now, the only feelings Rebecca could feel was as if she was tipsy and leaning towards being drunk, also zoning in and out of the conversations and reality around her.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lee Romero Character Portrait: Lincoln Cole
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xLINCOLNXxCOLE
═══════════════════════════
xlocation: party xxoutfit: here

Image

═══════════════════════════
xxx"for all the light that i've shut out,
xxxfor all the innocent things i doubt.
xxxfor all the bruises i've caused and tears.
xxxfor all the things that i've done,
xxxall these years."


"You're so beautiful," the male thought to himself. His dark blue eyes staring at Lee's brown ones. He didn't know what was about them, but they always pulled him in like the monster Charybdis. Yes, Link read in high school. He wasn't just a dick. He would smile a bit towards Lee, it was an awkward smile. He would pick up his drink again and take a sip of it. Beer was the oddest thing he had tasted, it tasted like sweaty socks. He would nervously run a hand through his hair before his mouth opened up and words began to fall out. "You can call me Link," he paused. "I'm sorry. For high school, for how I treated you. I was just an immature asshole, who knew you were going to have a better life after we graduated, and was so insecure about it I made your life a living hell. After that night......I just got insecure in myself. Back then I recognized you as the cause, so I targeted you. So, I'm sorry."

He spoke out, before he looked away from his eyes. He probably avoided the part where he liked Lee. He also avoided the part, he often got in fights with the other football players for saying shit that went to far about him. He was his "target" in high school, nobody else's. He knew that the other male probably hated him, he tried to leave the conversation when he showed up. He would place his hand on the back of his neck and smile a bit, awkwardly.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Lee Romero Character Portrait: Lincoln Cole Character Portrait: Tallulah Ashmore
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xXxLEExROMERO
═══════════════════════════
xxxlocation: party xxxxxxxxxoutfit: here

Image

═══════════════════════════
xxx"now it's four in the morning
xxxi'm just trying to find myself.
xxxwhat the hell did i do?
xxxi'm the life of the party."

x
x
x
x


Lee smiled despite himself when Lincoln told him to call him Link. And then Link did something that Lee hadn't been expecting. He apologised. And it seemed genuine. Lee didn't really know that much about him- but a star football player, whose father was the coach... It was probably understandable.

"Thanks, Link. I know it can't have been easy." He said. "And yeah, you were a dick," he added jokingly, grinning at Link, "But we all did shit we're not proud of in high school. Stuff we left behind. Let's leave it there and move on."[/color] It gave him hope, more hope than his hopeless romantic heart could take. If this Link, the one standing in front of him, was new and improved, then maybe... maybe something could happen. It had happened once, even if that had been powered mostly by alcohol.

It was only when Lee felt Rebecca leaning against him slightly that he realised how clouded, how sluggish his thinking was. He felt drunk. And all he'd had to drink was one beer. No, half a beer. A familiar feeling of anxiety started to bubble in his stomach and chest.

"Hey, uh, guys, I just need to get a bit of air, okay? I'll be back in a minute," He said, both to Link and to Rebecca. His heart was pounding, too hard, too fast. There was no way he should be feeling like this. He stumbled a little as he walked away, which just made him worse. And again, he saw the guy that had been asking him about Neil, and Lee was sure he was going to throw up. He forced his way outside, taking a few deep breaths. Something was wrong. And now all that was whirling around in his thoughts was those parties, all the way back then, where he got so drunk that what he was doing, what was happening to him, it didn't even register. All the way back, to how he had ended up in that mess. Was Neil out of prison? Could he be? How long had he been put away for? This was wrong, this was wrong, this was all wrong.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Lee Romero Character Portrait: Lincoln Cole Character Portrait: Tallulah Ashmore
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#, as written by catmint
xTallulahxAshmore
═══════════════════════════
xxxlocation: party xxxoutfit: here

Image

xxxdialogue: #F17418 xxxthoughts: #D44700

═══════════════════════════
xxx"all the people i know aren't who they used to be
xxxand if i try to change my life one more day
xxxthere would be nobody else to save
xxxand I can't change into a person I don't wanna be."


Tallulah hasn't realised how much she's missed seeing Rebecca's face. Or everyone's faces for that matter. She wanted to talk to everyone; see what had been going on in their lives but she decided against talking to anyone except Rebecca, at least for now. Tallulah hadn't really kept in contact with anyone else and she had no clue if they even wanted to speak with her.

Maybe they don't even remember who I am.

So, despite her curiosity, Tallulah chatted with Rebecca and for a while, it was like she'd never left. They slipped back into old conversation so easily.

"I seriously regret throwing that drink at him. I've never been one for clichΓ©s."

"Rebecca, I literally just drenched a guy in my drink. I doubt I'm going to get with any 'cute boys' tonight.
Tallulah chuckled.

Not that I'd really want to anyway.

It wasn't until Rebecca started to act strangely that Tallulah noticed something was wrong. She was leaning all over Lee and seemed to be really zoned out. Had she really had that much to drink?

"Rebecca, are you okay? You seem... weird."

Suddenly Lee excused himself from the group and stumbled away, looking panicked and intoxicated. Something was definitely wrong.



Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Lee Romero Character Portrait: Lincoln Cole Character Portrait: Tallulah Ashmore
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xRebeccaxCruze
════════════════════════════════
xLocation: Party |xOutfit: Here |xMakeup: Here

Image

xxx"Oh, what a shame that you came here with someone
xxxSo while you're here in my arms
xxxLet's make the most of the night
xxx Like we’re gonna die young


════════════════════════════════

Rebecca kept a smile on her face throughout her conversation with Tallulah, missing her β€œlittle sister.” β€œYeah, it was clichΓ©, but you totally pulled it off. Plus some boys like it when we play hard to get.” She started feeling more drunk and out of it as their conversation continued, even though she had just barely two drinks. Rebecca hadn’t even heard Tallulah’s last question before she heard Lee say something to her.

Rebecca looked over at Lee when he changed his tone, she could tell he wasn’t just talking to Link anymore, hearing him saying he needed air. But after Rebecca watch him hurrily walk away, she felt like something was up. β€œLee?” She said as she turned completely around, then looking over to Link. β€œDid you say something to him? I’m going to make sure he’s okay.” Rebecca turned back to Tallulah. β€œYou two should chat a little, might make a cute couple.” Rebecca said with a giggle and tried to follow Lee, not entirely keeping much of a better balance than he was.

As Rebecca pushed open the door and walked outside, she leaned against it as she closed it behind her, no one could really see what was going on outside with the door closed and the blinds not being open. Seeing Lee and her were the only two outside, she walked over to him and put her hand on top of his on the railing, but entirely on purpose. β€œHey, hey. You okay cutie?” Rebecca said putting her other hand around him, staring into his beautiful brown eyes. She quickly looked away towards the sky. You gotta tell him now, just do it. She thought to herself, zoning out a little, then being brought back at the end of Lee talking, not really catching all of it.

β€œLee, you know how we would always compete about who could get the most numbers, or see how many people we could flirt with before being ignored? Well” She paused for a second, rubbing her hand through his soft hair. Just do it Becca, now or never Her internal voice told her. β€œI always wish you would pick me, I… I really like you” Rebecca finished as she pulled Lee’s face toward her and began kissing him.

The kiss didn’t last as long as Rebecca would have liked it, she was pushed back by Lee and he stormed stormed off. She wanted to call after him, but she couldn’t for some reason. Rebecca slowly sat down on the ground, feeling very light headed. She leaned against the wall, a little bit out of view, slowly closing her eyes and passing out.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Lee Romero Character Portrait: Lincoln Cole Character Portrait: Lateefah Hart Character Portrait: Tallulah Ashmore
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xLINCOLNXxCOLE
═══════════════════════════
xlocation: party xxoutfit: here

Image

═══════════════════════════
xxx"for all the light that i've shut out,
xxxfor all the innocent things i doubt.
xxxfor all the bruises i've caused and tears.
xxxfor all the things that i've done,
xxxall these years."


Link raised an eyebrow towards Rebecca, he didn't say anything bad to Lee. Did he? He practically just apologized. "I....uh didn't do any-," he spoke interrupted by Rebecca's sudden giggle and saying he and Tallulah should get to know each other. He looked awkwardly at the girl and did the rather odd wave nod combination before getting this feeling in his gut something was wrong. Did he do something wrong and not realize it? Did he stare at Lee wrong? He wasn't aware if he did something wrong, but he knew he had a different feeling. A sense of something wrong and the impulsive part of Lincoln told him to follow his gut feeling. Something that often started fights between him and others in high school.

The male looked at Tallulah and would speak briefly before he'd leave "Um sorry, Tiana, wasn't it? Sorry, I gotta go check on my friends. Sorry to leave ya stranded." he spoke quickly before walking through the crowd the crowd to the get outside. He'd reach the outside to see Rebecca slump herself over next to a wall. He couldn't just leave her here, but he didn't know where Lee went. Taking out his phone he sent a quick text.

To: Queen Tee
ey, can u come get bec? gotta go find someone he ran off and idk where he is plssssss ily and ill buy u olive garden or somethin

Sending the text he'd whisper a someone will get her soon, and kissed Becca's forehead before he took off to get on his bike. He saw a vague silhouette walking down the street, and guessed with a hope it was Lee. He would start his bike, and drive down to see Lee walking, he looked a little pissed. What did Link do? Did he manage to fuck this up within the little time they had been around each other? "Hey, do you need a ride or something? You're not exactly sober my friend, don't wanna get arrested for intoxication. Especially in Roseville, not the place to do that. Definitely not fun," he spoke from personal experience before stopping his bike and looking at Lee.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lee Romero Character Portrait: Lincoln Cole Character Portrait: Willow Henderson Character Portrait: Lateefah Hart Character Portrait: Tallulah Ashmore
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xXxLEExROMERO
═══════════════════════════
xxxlocation: party xxxxxxxxxoutfit: here

Image

═══════════════════════════
xxx"now it's four in the morning
xxxi'm just trying to find myself.
xxxwhat the hell did i do?
xxxi'm the life of the party."

x


Lee was a little glad to see Rebecca following him out. He always appreciated a familiar face. And as thoughts and memories of those days, back in the parties, back when he used to get so drunk he couldn't think about what was happening to him, swirled around his dazed and fuzzy head, Rebecca was a distraction, something his brain couldn't distort into something scary. At first, it seemed innocent. A hand on his, something innocent and grounding. And then she started talking about the good old days, back when Lee was unafraid to flirt and to tease, before he second guessed all of his actions. That was fine, but it put a twist of anxiety into his stomach as he remembered what he used to be.

And then she kissed him. For a moment, his brain went black. And then it went into overdrive. Without even thinking, he pushed her away. He stumbled away, his thoughts whirling and dragging him down into a pit. He couldn't do this, he couldn't. It felt just like he was back there, like every hand touching his arm, every voice asking him if he was okay was just another client, another person who didn't really care, who just wanted to know if he was up to the job. He couldn't breathe, he couldn't think. He had to get out of there. He couldn't go back to that. Somebody had known that he was tied up with Neil, they had to know what he used to do.

And even as he left, he swore he could hear a voice calling his name in anger, yelling at him for running away. And then there was a bike, they were chasing him. When Link's voice called out to him, it was like a lighthouse through fog. And Lee had to bite his lip to stop himself from just breaking down into tears. He had to pretend he was okay, he couldn't let Link know he was as bad as he was.

"I- I- Link, somebody spiked my drink." The words were out of his mouth before he could stop them. "And Becca drank half of it and she- she- oh god I left her there, I left her behind, what did I do?" So much for staying calm. Lee felt so goddamn pathetic, he was nearly shaking and was on the verge of tears.



WILLOWxHENDERSON
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xxxlocation: party xxxxxxxxxoutfit: here

Image

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xxx"why should I play this game of pretend?
xxxremembering through a secondhand sorrow
xxxsuch a great son and wonderful friend
xxxoh, don't the tears just pour"

x


Willow laughed at Tee's comments about Link. She'd never really gotten why the two of them were friends, but they seemed to be close at least. Which, even if Willow didn't like Link, was nice at least. It made her feel a little better about not staying in contact. At least she had somebody from home. Willow had moved away from everyone for good reasons.

She shrugged at the mention of her Instagram, but grinned a little bashfully. "Thanks. It's... actually kinda awesome. Getting to work with and learn from all of the other people in my class, I've learned some awesome things and met some awesome people. We've got an end of term show coming up, so things are a... little hectic at times. But they're always a lot of fun. I know you're probably pretty busy with..." God, she wasn't even entirely sure what Tee was up to these days. "You're doing an internship, right? If you can bear a weekend from Link and your job, I'd love it if you could make it down. I'd love to show you around. New York is an awesome place to paint."

She was about to suggest they go get drinks, but then something kicked off involving a bunch of the jocks and some guy that Willow didn't recognise, but that looked a little too old to be one of her peers. From what she could gather from the yelling, he'd been caught spiking someone's drinks. Willow raised an eyebrow and suddenly became glad she hadn't get gotten a chance to grab a drink. She also spotted someone lurking by themselves. She waved a little, trying to catch Tallulah's eye. She felt bad for her- only moments earlier, she'd been talking to Link, Becca and Lee... all of whom had vanished.

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lee Romero Character Portrait: Lincoln Cole
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xLINCOLNXxCOLE
═══════════════════════════
xlocation: party xxoutfit: here

Image

═══════════════════════════
xxx"for all the light that i've shut out,
xxxfor all the innocent things i doubt.
xxxfor all the bruises i've caused and tears.
xxxfor all the things that i've done,
xxxall these years."


Without a second of hesitation, the man got off his bike. He moved over and pulled Lee close to him. Hugging him but in a more intimate way. He wrapped his hands around the other male's abdomen pulling Lee's head into his shoulder. He didn't know what else to do, he knew when he was upset about his father Tee hugged him and he felt better. So he did it upon instinct. His dark blue eyes closing as he took in the scent of the other male. His head running in a circle, but that didn't matter. It just mattered that Lee felt safe. He also had to hug him to suppress the rage that someone had spiked Lee's drink. What kind of dick does that? "It's fine, I have Tee taking care of her. I came after you because something went off in my head. She's in safe hands.." he would pause before he'd begin to speak again. "If you need to cry, I don't mind, it's healthier for you to let it out."

How hypocritical was that statement?

He was telling Lee he could cry, and let everything out. But here he was, hugging the boy who he had bullied and picked on because he liked him. Repressing every urge and whim inside him to let everything run loose. His father's abuse, something he never even let Tee know. She probably did know, but it wasn't verbally acknowledged between the two so Link could assume she was clueless. He wanted to let Lee know, he couldn't stop thinking of him. He was gorgeous, a beautiful man. Who deserved every single star in the sky. But he couldn't, his father's voice still echoed in his head. The threats, the memories of abuse, he swallowed down like a pill. He had one focus, and that was to comfort Lee.

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lee Romero Character Portrait: Lincoln Cole
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xXxLEExROMERO
═══════════════════════════
xxxlocation: party xxxxxxxxxoutfit: here

Image

═══════════════════════════
xxx"now it's four in the morning
xxxi'm just trying to find myself.
xxxwhat the hell did i do?
xxxi'm the life of the party."


Lee wasn't exactly sure what response he had been expected. His head was foggy and dizzy at the same time, and he couldn't really think or plan ahead. So when Link hugged him, Lee was surprised. And then he nearly burst into tears. What he would have done to be held like this after leaving all those parties. He pressed his face into Link's shoulder as the other man comforted him, reassured him that Tee was looking after Rebecca. But he'd still left her behind, she didn't deserve that, why hadn't he stayed? He shouldn't have stormed off like that, should have... talked about it. She was going to hate him now, and it was all his fault.

So when Link told him it was okay, that he wouldn't mind Lee crying, Lee broke down. He wasn't even entirely sure why. He was ashamed, he was afraid, he was so afraid of so many things. Perhaps if he was a little more sober than he was, he would have felt embarrassed about how, an hour ago, they were just awkward acquaintances at best, and now, here he was, sobbing in Link's arms. But right then, Lee wasn't capable of feeling more than one emotion at once. So he let the anxiety consume him for a brief moment, and he cried.

He didn't know how long he stayed like that for. In some ways, it felt like it wasn't long enough, and in others, it felt like an eternity. But eventually, the crying subsided, and Lee straightened up, wiping his eyes. And perhaps it was the drugs in his system that lent him some courage, but he found himself asking, "Can... can I stay with you tonight? I just... I don't want to be alone." His parents were out of the country at some big important business conference, one that was too important for them to miss. And generally Lee didn't mind being by himself but... this was an exception.

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Character Portrait: Lee Romero Character Portrait: Lincoln Cole
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xLINCOLNXxCOLE
═══════════════════════════
xlocation: party xxoutfit: here

Image

═══════════════════════════
xxx"for all the light that i've shut out,
xxxfor all the innocent things i doubt.
xxxfor all the bruises i've caused and tears.
xxxfor all the things that i've done,
xxxall these years."


While holding Lee close, Link rubbing circles on the other male's back. Whispering soothing words into his ears, as he would perk up when Lee asked a question. Without a hesitation Link spoke softly to the other male. "Of course, it'd be better for you to be with someone," he would pull the male closer. Allowing himself this simple pleasure. Just holding Lee, was what he wanted to do. He wanted to stay like this for eternity. A spark lit inside of Link however. He was angry that someone would do this to people. He would shift his body to where he was grasping Lee's side and lead him to the bike. His mind racing at a thousand words he wished to say.

"How could someone do somthing as fucked up as this? Lee doesn't deserve this...he's too great of a person. He forfuckinggave me for the bullshit I put him through. I'm going to make this up to him....somehow."

The male seemed lost in his thoughts, as they reached the motorcycle. He would help the male get on the bike and get on it himself. Taking the helmet he did have (but never wore) he would hand it to Lee, revving the engine of the car. "Hold tight, okay?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lee Romero Character Portrait: Lincoln Cole Character Portrait: Willow Henderson Character Portrait: Lateefah Hart Character Portrait: Tallulah Ashmore Character Portrait: Heather Swan Character Portrait: Benjamin Thomas
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xXxBenjixThomas
═══════════════════════════
xxxlocation: party xxxxxxxxxoutfit: here

Image

═══════════════════════════
xxx"I never strayed to far from you
xxxForever by your side
xxxNo matter what I was going through?
xxxBut now I never know the things to say to you"

x
x
x
x


->Previously in Roseville<-

Benji's hands were oddly still as they lay folded on the surface of the metal table. If this had been five years before, he would be shaking like a leaf. Not this time. After years of keeping his hands still in the midst of a potentially fatal event--like that cave-in in North Carolina--they remained steady even when his insides felt like they had when he was six and rode on the Gravatron at the state fair. There was no way this was about high school. He had been away for years and hadn't sold a thing since. Unless... did Furlough give him up? He never got over Benji leaving the business. Probably never would...

An officer came in, a folder in hand, and sat in the chair opposite Benji. He cleared his throat and said, "Benjamin Thomas. Do you know why you're here, son?" Benji shook his head. It had been less than an hour since he left the airport when police intercepted him getting a coffee at his old place of employment. "No, sir, but I'm sure you're about to tell me." The officer flipped open the folder and slid it over to Benji. Inside were pictures of Sarah, before...and after. He hadn't been back at school for a month after his mother's passing when he received word of Sarah's death-- no. Murder. This is why he was here? "Messages between you and Sarah were found during our investigation. It seems you had a falling out of some sort the last time you were in town."

Benji cleared his throat. "She wanted something from me I could no longer give her. My mother had just died. I was only home long enough to plan and have her funeral." He explained. "Sarah and I were friends in high school. She was one of the sweetest girls I knew. I'd never do anything to hurt her." He looked down at the picture from before her death. It was one from high school. Her hair was pulled up and a smile spread across her face. Her at-the-time-girlfriend was beside her, a forced smile on her face. If he remembered correctly, that girl was very possessive. Went after him a couple times because she was worried he was getting to close to her girlfriend. If they asked Benji, that's who they should've been looking at. "You can even check my schedules. I was in Europe at the time of her death. I have a photo to prove it if you'll let me get it from my bag."

The officer nodded to the one-way window behind him and within a few minutes, the door opened and his backpack was brought it. It had already been thoroughly searched, he was sure, so when he reached in, he didn't bother to be cautious. He pulled out his digital camera and flipped through the photos until he found the one he was looking for. It was a photo from his trip to Austria and time stamped the day of her death. That's a 10 and a half hour flight. Hopefully, it would be enough to convince them of his innocence. The man looked at the photo, mesmerized by the photograph for a moment, and noticed the time stamp. "This could've been altered." he said. Benji, as respectfully as he could, replied, "Not once it's been stamped. I have plenty of photos from the same day--from the same week--that shows I wasn't even in town when Sarah died."


The officer gave him a hard look and then finally waved him off. "Alright," he said, stroking his mustache thoughtfully, "You're free to go."





->Sarah's Memorial Party<-
I shouldn't be here, Benji thought, staring at the building before him. He could hear the bass thumping from inside. It had been years since he'd seen anyone from high school. Since he'd talked to anyone. When he left for school, he purposely let himself fall off the map, afraid that someone would get hurt by the people he was running from. Even now he wondered if that's what happened to Sarah. He took a deep breath, ran his hand through his already tousled hair and took a step towards the doors. Just as his hand met the handle, the door swung open. Two boys with their arms around each other, stumbling and walking side by side. Benji jumped back and out of the way and only as they passed did he recognize them. Lincoln and Lee. Benji opened his mouth to say something to them, but they seemed a tad preoccupied. Besides, they probably hadn't thought anyone had been out here. So instead, he pulled the handle to the front doors and stepped inside.

He was late. He knew that. It took him a long time to talk himself into coming. There was a fully stocked bar it seemed and music pumped through the speakers, rattling the bones in his body. He swore he could feel the beat vibrating through his heart. It was an EDM track, one Sarah could be heard humming as she walked the halls of the school. He sighed, saddened at her loss. They weren't extremely close, but close enough. As his eyes roamed the room he saw a few people he recognized. More specifically he saw Rebecca, Heather, Willow, Tallulah, and Lateefah. He debated walking over and greeting them or going to grab a drink.

In the end, he chose a drink. He walked over to the bar and ordered a scotch on the rocks with a twist. He gave the bartender the money after showing his ID. And took a sip. He hardly noticed the burn anymore. He turned back to the crowd. No one was dancing and no one was laughing. Fitting, he supposed, for a party celebrating the death of someone. Well... it was celebrating the life she had, but it didn't make the atmosphere any more depressing. He straightened his jacket and made his way over to the group of girls, feeling a tad out of place around them, and said, "Hey, guys." He smiled shyly at them and shrugged his shoulders. "How have you all been?" He tucked his free hand into the pocket of his jeans and rubbed absently at the surface of his other's locket.

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