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Dean Sun

They say the devil that you know is better than the devil that you don't

0 · 119 views · located in New York

a character in “the last of the real ones”, as played by phosphene

Description


xxxDEAN SUN

xxxxxxx#A3333D | 26 | he/him
xxxxxxxline cook | bisexual
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don't overthink this, look in my eye. don't be scared, don't be shy, come on in, the water's fine

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5'11" | average/thin | black | brown


Dean is handsome, he knows he's handsome, and he looks like a guy that knows he's handsome. He has good hair, good skin, a bright smile. He's almost always clean shaven, well groomed, and put-together enough that he at least appears to have his life together. His sense of style isn't anything really special: normally his outfits consist of jeans and neutral colored shirts, but he's comfortable enough with patterns that it's not unusual to see him straying from that uniform he created for himself. No tattoos, no piercings, (he doesn't need more reason for his parents to claim he's causing heart attacks) lots of kitchen scars, and more always appearing.

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Dean isn't good with limits. He's always been the sort to jump from thing to thing endlessly searching for the next excitement in his life. Early on, causing trouble got his attention, but these days he behaves himself more often than not. When he does decide to do something less than upstanding it's usually petty things. He's not interested in hurting people, that's not his thing. Sex, drugs, drinking here and there? Sure. Being a general bad influence? Absolutely. He can usually talk his way out of trouble between friends, but he tries to stay out of anything that would bring the law down on him. He doesn't have the time or the bank account for that.

If he'd been less interested in instant gratification he probably could have been an artist of some sort, but instead he uses his fonts of creativity and inspiration to concoct the elaborate lies he tells for no reason. Lying, it seems, is just as thrilling to him as anything else. He's not easy to trust, he'll lie about anything from what he had to lunch to whether or not he likes your shirt- just because he can. He likes to decide what would be more fun (for him) in any situation, lies or the truth. Lies are easy, the truth requires proof, which he collects and keeps. He rarely lies about big things, though, only little inconsequential things. It's not fun to have to remember what lies he's told, so it's just easier to only tell lies you won't be confronted about later.

It's easy to get the sense that he's faking everything when you talk to him, and that's because he is. He's not a naturally emotive person, it's an act he puts on to make himself more palatable. He doesn't care very much about most people beyond what they can do for him. It might sound awful, but he's never been able to care, and it's ridiculous for him to pretend to himself that he does. So, he learned to smile, be nice, but he doesn't really dig in and try to know people. He knows what's appropriate, because he taught himself, learned from observation. He's very protective, though, of the people he does care about. Even if he does have strange ways of showing he cares.

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November 7 | New York, New York

trigger warning for mentions of drug and alcohol abuse
From an early age, Dean decided that Declan was ruining his life. One day, Dean had everything he wanted as an only child, and then suddenly Declan was there. At first, Dean did all the normal things one does when they have unexpectedly gained a sibling: pushing Declan, trying to get their mother to forget him at the store, hiding his things to make him cry. Really, nothing outrageous. Declan was there to stay, though, so Dean focused his attention on getting Declan in trouble so he would be the favorite. That only worked for so long, though, so eventually he decided that they could be friends.

He still blamed Declan for everything he did, though.

As they got older it was always "why can't you be more like Declan. You should study more like he does. You should join clubs in school like he does. You should this and you should that." So Dean did it all. He got his grades up, joined some silly clubs he didn't care about, got them off his back, and started going to parties after they'd gone to bed. Eventually they found out, and after realizing that the more they punished Dean, the worse it got, they just started insisting he take Declan along. Dean might have been truly awful to Declan, but he would never let anything happen to them. The first time someone in school tried to give Declan trouble for being gay, Dean punched him in the mouth. So his parents knew that if Dean had to bring them along, he would be more careful so he could make sure nothing happened. At first, he pulled some shit here and there to try and make sure none of them ended up liking Declan more than they liked him. Nothing serious, harmless little things. Declan wasn't a fan, but they never said anything.

Dean doesn't fully remember what happened- he'd been drinking and doing drugs, and something about the combination really affected his judgement. A mishap with a lighter, and before he knew it their apartment was on fire, and then the building. No one got hurt, thankfully, but someone was in for a heap of trouble. Naturally, Dean tried to pin it on Declan. Luckily enough for both of them, it was ruled accidental easily enough, and nothing serious came of it besides their family needing to move. When he tried to pin something on Declan at a party not long after the fire, Declan had evidently had it. Declan had never yelled at Dean before that night, and the resulting fight deeply embarrassed Dean. They hardly spoke for a while after that, and eventually Declan split off from the friend group, and Dean had to face consequences of sleeping with Lauren, and things just got weird and messy.

He went on to work in kitchens at restaurants because it fueled all his habits. Wake up, down an energy drink or two to make up for the fact that you hardly slept the night before, work, have drinks with the rest of the team once the restaurant closes, probably do some drugs, go home and pass out, wake up and repeat. It's unhealthy and it's probably going to kill him but it suits him.

He and Declan finally reconnected a few years back, and now they're closer than ever. Dean promised to do better, and now Declan is willing to put Dean in his place. It's healthier than their relationship was in the past, but dean still knows exactly what buttons to push to get what he wants.

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Dean is sleeping with Lauren, which is no secret in itself, but he's learned a few interesting things about her thanks to his willingness to snoop around. He's learned that she's been skimming money off her parent's business for herself, and he's fully intending on using that against her. Mostly what he wants is the ability to have something to hold over her head when she threatens him like she's so fond of doing. With Lauren, you have to keep the upper hand or she'll eat you alive. He also wouldn't mind some hush money. His drug habit is making it hard for him to stay afloat anymore, and his parents have refused to help him anymore.


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cs: phosphene - fc: Justin H. Min - playlist
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So begins...

Dean Sun's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Damien Wolfe Character Portrait: Robyn Miller Character Portrait: Erin Monaghan Character Portrait: Jade Davies Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Lauren Clark Character Portrait: Dylan Knight Character Portrait: Gabriella Montez Character Portrait: Evie Addams Character Portrait: Olivia Eriksen Character Portrait: Dean Sun Character Portrait: Adonis Galante Character Portrait: Julian Davies Character Portrait: Camilla Rhodes Character Portrait: Declan Sun Character Portrait: Simon Rizzo
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soren bowers.
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outfit. #4d5676.
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xxx I've been staying up all night
xxx Shaking needles out my spine
xxx But the doctor says I'm fine
xxx Feels good to be alive, but I hate my life

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The concept of the party had started as yet another one of their deep, meaningful conversations on the balcony. They got talking about all the people they’d been friends with once upon a time and where they’d all ended up. Some, Soren had managed to stay in contact with over the years. Others, not so much. He and Erin had begun talking about the parties they’d found themselves at and the ones they’d thrown in high school. Quite often, it had ended in everyone screaming at each other, with the same few members of the group sometimes even throwing punches, before they’d all stormed off home. They wouldn’t talk for maybe a day, and then it would be like nothing ever happened. Rinse and repeat, over and over again. But oh, when things were good, they were really good.

Erin and Soren had looked at each other, and it seemed they’d had the same idea at the same time. A party, just like the good old days, but with everyone in a slightly better place, and without the ringmistress that could spark a fight in seconds with just a smirk and a well-timed comment. Almost immediately, they began digging through their contacts to find people.

More or less everyone that had been invited had agreed to attend. Camilla’s reply had been rather blunt; an ambiguous “k” in response to his Instagram message, and then leaving the follow up messages entirely on read. Ever since the whole debacle where an unreleased Beautiful Strangers demo had somehow ended up being sampled on a Sophie’s valentine track, the relationship between the two bands had been… frosty. Beautiful Strangers had made the PR decision to attempt to end rumours of a feud, with band members tweeting about Sophie’s Valentine whenever they released new music, and Soren covering one of their songs on an Instagram live. The efforts weren’t reciprocated, but Beautiful Strangers’ management and the band themselves were at least content that Beautiful Strangers didn’t look like the asshole in this situation, which is all they really needed from it. So, to be honest, Soren would have been more surprised had she replied positively to his message but he still had no idea whether or not she was going to show up. He and Erin had a bet running; him betting that Cam would, Erin betting that she wouldn’t.

The thought of seeing everyone again was a little bit strange. They hadn’t been in a room together in years, and they had no idea how they were all going to interact. Perhaps they were being a little naive in hoping they’d all be able to have a good time and forget everything that had gone down between them; but it was worth trying. They were hoping that the copious amounts of alcohol would help and not make things any worse, but they knew that they were also possibly taking a risk and that things might go to hell. They told themselves that the important thing was, that they’d acknowledged that things might go to shit and that there was nothing they could do about it.

Despite that acceptance, the pre-party nerves were worse than ever. He’d taken as many painkillers as he could without risking getting drowsy or overly spacey to make sure he wouldn’t be sore and grouchy at the party. He told himself that was fine, that it was a one time thing for a special event, that it didn’t count, and tried to put everything out of his mind. But the reality of what exactly was involved was starting to kick in, and he was beginning to question if this was a good idea at all. He never would have admitted this to Erin (because saying it out loud might just result in her materialising in front of them like Voldemort), but at the back of his mind, he was afraid that Lauren would show up. He had no reason to believe she would; but she always had a way of knowing about things she shouldn’t. She always found out about these things, and she would seize any opportunity to start drama. In some strange ways, it was reassuring to know that she really hadn’t changed in the slightest. When she’d shown up backstage in Vancouver, of all places, it was like stepping back six years into a conversation in high school. She was sickly sweet, charming, flattering, pretending to have changed. And then when it had become apparent that she wasn’t going to get what she wanted by being nice… the claws had come out. She’d been somewhat shocked when he’d still told her that he didn’t care, he didn’t want her in his life; and that had been one of the most satisfying moments of his life. But he still didn’t want her showing up and starting shit; and he knew that if she heard it was him and Erin throwing it, she’d be even more determined to wreak havoc.

He spent most of that day in his room, working on music in an attempt to try and distract himself. It was all rough, demos of demos, just playing around on his old keyboard and the guitar to try and get melodies in his head, but it was enough to serve as a distraction. When he realised that he needed to start to get ready, he instinctively saved everything he’d recorded and backed it all up to an external hard drive. As an afterthought, he hid the hard drive in a drawer, made sure his laptop was shut down entirely, and then locked his bedroom door as he headed out to the kitchen. Paranoia? Perhaps, but he wasn’t risking having anyone getting their hands on something they shouldn’t. He didn’t trust anyone not to go snooping around their rooms; and, well, if Cam showed up, he definitely didn’t want to risk leaving any Beautiful Strangers material lying around. Just in case. He didn’t think that any of Sophie’s Valentine had been directly involved the first time, but he wasn’t going to risk it happening again.

Once out in the kitchen, he and Erin had a few drinks and scrolled through instagram together, liking everyone’s pre-party posts and gossiping about everyone. The things they’d heard people had been up to since they last saw them, how they thought people must have changed… it was exactly what they both needed to try and chill some of the pre-party apprehension. They were both nervous. How could they not be? But neither of them wanted to acknowledge that, and so, they settled for just distracting themselves for a while.

He was almost surprised at how happy everyone seemed to be to see each other. The bad blood seemed to have vanished, or at least be put to the side while everyone was still sober. Camilla even showed up (Soren had shot Erin a triumphant grin at that point) and was somewhat civil to the both of them. The party was beginning to really kick off now, with a few people dancing and chatting in the living room, a few chatting out on the balcony, and others grabbing drinks and snacks in the kitchen. Soren excused himself from the group he had been talking to and headed towards the kitchen to get another drin




evie addams.
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outfit. #b59eab.
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xxx I don't feel sorry for you
xxx Cause now the tables turning
xxx And now the bridge is burning
xxx It's coming crashing down

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The thought of seeing everyone again after this long was strange. Evie had only spoken to most of them through DMs and texts over the past few months, and she knew there were a few people likely to be there that she hadn’t spoken to at all since she’d graduated. But everyone she longed to see and longed to have fun with were going to be there, and that was what mattered to her at the end of the day. She was determined to focus on the good things of this party and not worry about the bad. This would be different, she told herself. She was different now, everyone else had changed, and things would be better. She kept repeating that reassurance to herself as she got ready for the party. It would be fine. She was going to have fun

Once upon a time, getting dressed for these types of events had been an absolute nightmare for her. Everything she’d worn had always felt wrong, especially when she was standing beside people like Lauren, Camilla, and Jade, who always seemed to be so effortlessly stylish and who could pull off anything… and who wouldn’t hesitate to make derogatory comments on what people were wearing and whether or not they thought they looked good. Lauren had usually helped with planning her outfit, and Evie had been so grateful for that. It guaranteed the group’s approval and her exemption from those harsh, mean comments that they would make about everyone else. But now, she could see that for what it had been; another opportunity to manipulate and control her, usually to make sure that she didn’t look as good as Lauren. Those comments had probably still been made behind her back instead of to her face. Now, she didn’t need to impress anyone. She could dress for herself and wore what made her happy; not what she thought would get the approval she needed.

Now, Evie’s only dilemma as to what to wear was because she had no idea how dressy this party was supposed to be, if she should show up dolled up to the nines, or if she should show up in something a bit more casual. Erin hadn’t really helped when Evie had asked her, saying she should just wear whatever she liked, they didn’t mind too much. Soren’s answer of “i mean i guess similar to the parties we had in high school?” had been slightly more helpful, but she was still stuck between two choices. She’d texted Gabriella for help, and the decision they’d come to was something along the lines of “fuck it, being overdressed is better than being underdressed.”

The dress was something she never would have dared wear around Lauren. Lauren would have made some comment about how she really just didn’t have the figure for it, that black made her look pale, that she was too short to pull off a leg split, and then just claimed she was trying to help and be supportive. But Evie had fallen in love with it the minute she saw it, and had been dying for an opportunity to wear it. Was it possibly still a little dressy for this type of party? Probably. Did she care? Absolutely not.

She had been shocked when her taxi had dropped outside Erin’s apartment. She knew that The Golden Owl was doing well, but she hadn’t expected the apartment to be quite so grand. Clearly, Erin was doing well for herself. Evie was glad for that. Erin had been somewhat troubled in high school (hadn’t they all?), but she’d still tried to be a good friend to Evie, even as Evie had stuck close to Erin’s sworn enemy. She was excited to see everyone again; but for some reason, she was especially excited to see Erin.

She’d greeted both Erin and Soren with hugs. They’d both changed so much, and yet somehow not all. Truth be told, she’d only ever really known Soren through Lauren, which meant she hadn’t really known him at all, and after the breakup, it wasn’t like she could have been friends with him. At first, Lauren had played the heartbroken girlfriend who just hadn’t been able to cope with the thoughts of her boyfriend being in pain, so it was easier to just not to have to look at that. And then, as time gone on, her story changed, and Lauren confided the truth to Evie. How she’d only ever really liked him because he was fun and for the whole tormented artist thing he had going for him, and how she’d cheated on him multiple times during the relationship, including while Soren was recovering from surgery. At the time, Evie had sided with Lauren entirely, believing that Lauren’s reasons were justified. Now she knew the truth and had gotten to know Soren a little better over the past couple of months, it just further drove home the point of how terrible a person Lauren truly was.

She found herself wandering around the party, constantly finding and losing people as she tried to say hi to everyone. But now, her gaze was set firmly on the dance floor, as she searched the room for someone to grab and drag to come dance with her.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Damien Wolfe Character Portrait: Robyn Miller Character Portrait: Erin Monaghan Character Portrait: Jade Davies Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Lauren Clark Character Portrait: Dylan Knight Character Portrait: Gabriella Montez Character Portrait: Evie Addams Character Portrait: Olivia Eriksen Character Portrait: Dean Sun Character Portrait: Adonis Galante Character Portrait: Julian Davies Character Portrait: Camilla Rhodes Character Portrait: Declan Sun Character Portrait: Simon Rizzo Character Portrait: Jeremy Williams
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Olivia Eriksen
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Art Conservator/Starving Artist | outfit. | Song |#8B8000.
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xxx I wanna paint your face
xxx Like you're my Mona Lisa
xxx I wanna be a champion
xxx I wanna be a loser

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Livvy was shooting a wedding in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts when she received a text from one of her favorite people. Erin. Apparently, her gorgeous bar-owner friend and her rock star bestie decided it was time to get the gang back together. And, since Livvy had a job waiting for her at the Institute in New York anyway, she was more than happy to attend. And, of course, so did Simon.

She hadn't seen much of her best friend these days outside of the various video chats they tended to use. It'll be nice to get back to their roots, so to speak. In fact, she hadn't seen many of her friends since she left New York in her bus outside of video chat and social media. She's stopped in every now and then. Grab a cup of coffee and peruse the photography and art books in the reference section of the Cozy Book Nook, knockback shots at The Golden Owl, bump fuzzies with ye old fuck buddies in various homes. But it had been at least a year and she couldn't stop thinking about what faces she might see again.

It was Erin's party so of course, she would be seeing her. And obviously Simon. A few messages revealed Gabriella was going to be there too, much to Livvy's delight. She wasn't sure who else was going to be there, but she knew who wasn't going to be there. Lauren. Livvy hoped her henchmen wouldn't be there either. Though, from what she heard, they had renounced the fire-breathing bitch queen and found their own lives without her.

Good for them.

Then again. Maybe Lauren should come. It would give her a chance to finally shoot her shot and check her off her fuck list she had made in high school on a dare.

Speaking of fuck lists... her fingers began to tingle, her pulse keeping time against her ribcage. Would Dean be there? They hadn't spoken much since high school. Their breakup was... tough. Livvy was just as addicted to him as she was the high and staying away after they split was easier said than done. She saw that he was starting to clean himself up a bit, much like herself. Maybe... it would be time to start again?

She found a place to park her bus--the secure parking garage of the Institute--and tore through her closet. After a few failed attempts and a near panic attack, she had decided on a black strapless crop top and a flowing high-low black skirt with a pair of nude pumps. She knew she'd be kicking them off as soon as she got in the door but it was part of the look and wearing flats with this length of skirt in New York was just asking for trouble.

While she waited for the taxi to pull up, she stood outside the Institute and scrolled through social media. She paused a photo of Adonis slid into view. She rubbed at the strange weight in her chest at the sight of him. She had been meaning to text him. Ask him how Flur was. To just... talk like they once had, but, obviously, she hadn't. She double tapped his photo, wondering if he would be there tonight. Which made her wonder about someone else. Her mentor, Julian. She figured he'd be in attendance as last she heard he was working for Erin. She hadn't seen him since before he was locked up. They sent a few letters, but it hurt too much. It was like losing a brother. Or she guessed that's how it would feel. She was--thankfully--an only child. She couldn't imaging sharing her past with other children. Her's was rough enough.

There was a splash as the taxi rounded the corner. She waved it over and waited for it to come to a complete stop before climbing in and giving the driver the address to Erin's apartment.

--

No matter how many times she saw it, she was impressed by the size of Erin's apartment. It was much bigger than her bus, that was for sure. She watched the taxi drive away before she stared up at the door, a mix of anticipation and dread churning through her. Maybe she should go home. She hadn't thought this through. What if the goon squad was in attendance? What if she lost the control she had been working so hard to maintain? And maybe so what if she did? One night wouldn't hurt anyone. She squared her shoulders, lifted her chin, and strolled inside.

The first person she nearly tackled to the ground was, in fact, Julian. When she saw him, she couldn't help it. It had been so long since she saw the man that inspired a great deal of her art. Who taught her nearly everything she knew about color theory and lighting. Who was just as much a part of her little family she made as Simon. After him, she wandered through the crowd, spying a few faces that were familiar, but she couldn't guess their names.

She spotted Erin and Evie dancing together and rubbed at the weird feeling in her chest.

Maybe she should see a cardiologist.

At a momentary loss at what to do, she did what she usually did.

She pulled out her small pouch of pencils from her satchel she brought with her everywhere and her travel-size sketchbook. She poured herself a drink, stood at the island in the kitchen, and sketched.







Simon Rizzo
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Barista | outfit | Song |#489A4A.
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xxx I'm always screaming my lungs out
xxx till my head starts spinning
xxx Playing my songs is the way I cope with life
xxx Won't keep my voice down
xxx Know the words I speak are the thoughts I think out loud

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Simon checked his watch every few minutes as he pretended to flip through a magazine while he stood behind the counter of The Cozy Book Nook. When Livvy texted about Erin's party he was, hesitant to say the least. While there were certain people in their circle that he enjoyed spending time with like Erin and Julian, there were others he wasn't super fond of. Like Dean. And Adonis. and Jade. And, he shuddered to think about her, Lauren. Or the "fire-breathing bitch queen" as Livvy calls her.

But, hopefully, given the history, she wouldn't be there tonight.

He was waiting for Jennifer and Shaundra to get there to switch shifts so he could make it back to his apartment in time to change and meet Robyn at her place so they could go to Erin's together. Being Livvy's best friend meant knowing where Erin's apartment was. Plus... It was Robyn. He was honestly surprised she said yes. I mean... it's Robyn.

Anyway, he was reading the same article for the fifth time when he was literally saved by the bell on the door as the night crew came to take over. He nearly darted out the door with a salute and well wishes for a good night before he practically jogged to his home. He was definitely going to need a shower.

--

Pomade in his hair, a light cologne misting around him, and a clean shaved face. He was dressed in his bootcut jeans, a pair of polished black boots, a skeleton t-shirt, and his favorite jean jacket. On his way out the door, he made sure he had his wallet and his keys and grabbed his guitar.

The taxi was already waiting by the time the soles of his boots hit the concrete of the sidewalk. He dove inside and provided the address for Robyn's home which she had written on a piece of a napkin the last time she was in the Nook. Being a man of music, he had memorized it. He had done the same for Erin's apartment, Livvy's license plate (just in case something happened to her bus), and his Mom's, Livvy's, and Julian's cell numbers.

He stood outside the door as he waited for her to join him. And when she did, all words let his mind. All he could hear was music as she smiled shyly at him. "Wow, Robyn," He breathed, "You look amazing." He held the door open for her before climbing inside behind her.

Once they had arrived at Erin's, he exited with his guitar and gently placed it on the ground before offering a hand to her to assist in her own exit. He could've sworn he felt a zinging in his hands where she held onto his. Once she was safely on the sidewalk, he laughed self-consciously and rubbed at the back of his neck, letting go of her hand. "Sorry." He gestured for her to go up the stairs first saying, "After you."

He could feel the music in his chest as soon as the door opened and only intensified as he got closer to the sound system in the living room. Erin and Evie were dancing to some EDM song pumping through the speakers. Others were just joining conversations. He spotted Livvy sketching at the island but decided against going right up to her for now. They were close as siblings, but one conversation they had was giving each other space. They tended to crowd each other in... well... crowded situations and often times it overwhelmed them.

She gave him a smile and raised her glass to him and that was a greeting enough for him. They would talk later. He noticed her fingers were already smudged with graphite. You can take the artist out of her studio, but you can't take the art out of the artist.

Instead, he turned to Robyn, held his hand out to her, palm up, and asked, "May I have this dance, M'Lady?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robyn Miller Character Portrait: Erin Monaghan Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Lauren Clark Character Portrait: Dean Sun Character Portrait: Camilla Rhodes Character Portrait: Simon Rizzo
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xRockstar ║ Outfit ║ Hex: #A38E8E

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<3

Camilla had just gotten off stage after the end of a show and had started going through her phone when she noticed a DM from someone she didn’t expect, Soren Bowers. He was inviting her to some sort of party, “for good ole times” and other things were mentioned. Cam rolled her eyes at the thought of hanging out with some of the people from high school and just dropped a “k” and went back to hanging out with her band and talking to her managers. The next couple of messages she just left on read, thinking that it could be a good idea as she hadn’t seen most of them in a while, but wasn’t sure if she would have time, never giving an answer.

But as it got closer and closer to the date, Camilla set plans to go to the party. Her bandmates were going on their honeymoon after the tour, so this gave her some free time so she decided she would go, a bit of a surprise to herself and the others. Plus it would be nice to see Soren again, maybe clear some air on things if possible. But also recently her and Lauren have talked a bit more, Lauren somehow getting her international number the two hit it off like old friends and nothing had changed. Cam mentioned the party to her, thinking it wasn’t a big issue and Lauren quickly said she would be going, and Camilla just replying with the laughing crying emoji, knowing it would steer up some drama.

The night of the party finally came and Camilla was ready. She had ordered a vehicle to pick her up from a private taxi service, not exactly wanting to take a normal taxi. Cam posted a picture she took earlier to her instagram and sent a few messages to some of her friends and made sure her makeup and hair looked good in her phone camera as the vehicle headed to the address Soren mentioned in the invite.

Camilla climbed out of the vehicle as the driver opened the door for her and she handed him some cash to cover a tip before she walked up the stairs. As the door opened, a smirk came across Cam’s face, and a flow of the high school and graduation parties came back to her. She quickly headed in and saw Soren and Erin talking, Soren seeing her first and saying something to Erin. “Not a bad place, guess the bar didn’t crash and burn after all. And nice…. Bird shirt…” Camilla trailed off, before dismissing herself and joining the rest of the party.

The party was just starting to get rowdy, Camilla noticed a message from Lauren, just a selfie inside of a vehicle. She put her phone away and looked up, seeing a familiar person from high school, one of her few exes that didn’t try to get back with her when she had success, and one she didn't mind. Simon. “Hey there, Riz, long time no see. I heard you had a nice comic book store going.” Cam brought up, taking a sip of her drink.

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xxxxxxxxxxxxxx I should move 'cause New York is gettin' muddy out
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxThere's L.A. but it's always kinda sunny out
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxAnd I don't wanna hurt no more
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxSo I set my bar real low

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xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxOutfit ║ Hex: #2A9DF4

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<3
The party invite first came from Soren, all the details about the when and the where, but not exactly about the who. Robyn assumed most of the others from high school would be there, the ones she obviously stayed in contact with and were still in New York would probably be there, but the ones out of state possibly wouldn’t be there. She was curious about whether or not Lauren would be there, the two of them didn’t end on bad terms, but she knew some of the others did, and was worried about there being drama.

Robyn originally was going to come up with some excuse about not going, worried about possible drama, but also the thought that hanging out all the others would bring back memories with Nathan who she was still grieving about. She was out at her favorite bookstore, The Cozy Book Nook, seeing if they had any books on sale when Simon brought up the party. Robyn dodged confirming if she was going or not, but when Simon said he was going and eventually asked if she was, she caved. Saying she was probably just going to stay home, but Simon asked if she wanted to go with him, and something made her say yes. She wrote down her address on a napkin as they set up a time for Simon to come by her place so they could head to the party together.

The day of the party arrived, and Robyn spent most of the day getting ready; figuring out what to wear, painting her nails cyan, curling her hair, and just trying to get herself mentally ready for tonight. She had started pacing around her house, mostly in the hallway in front of her door waiting for Simon, telling herself this wasn’t a date, and that Nate would be okay with her doing this. When he rang the doorbell, she jumped a little bit before putting on the last minute puff of perfume and opening the door. Robyn smiled as the two of them exchanged stares before Simon gave her a compliment. “Thanks, I really like your hair.” She replied, though a bit embarrassed that that was all she could say at the moment. “And the jacket.” Robyn added, but probably didn’t help.

She took Simon’s hand as he offered to help her out of the taxi. She took it without a second thought, but there was a comforting feeling when she grasped him as she stepped out. Simon was the one to break their hands with an apology, Robyn wasn’t even sure how much time had passed, but the air felt a bit empty now. “It’s fine!” She said quickly, probably a bit too fast. She just pushed the thought to the back of her mind as Simon gestured for her to go first, and the two of them entered the party and handed a drink by someone.

Robyn felt she was taken out of reality as she scanned the party, seeing the familiar faces from all the years ago, a few memories flying through her head like flashbacks. She was only brought back down to earth as she heard Simon’s voice and saw his hand held out and asked for a dance. She was hesitant at first, but raised her glaze from his hand up to his eyes. “Yes. Kind sir.” Robyn replied with a giggle and a smile, letting him lead her to the more center of the room where people were dancing.

The two of them dancing was nice, probably the most carefree thing she had done in a while, and even then, it was the stream she did with Gabriella. After a few songs Robyn was having a good time when she noticed her drink was empty and was still thirsty. “Hey, I’m going to get some more to drink? You want anything?” She asked, before doing a small twirl away and heading to the kitchen and fun party signs pointing to the drinks.

As she entered the kitchen she accidentally bumped into someone and quickly apologizing, it took her a moment to recognize who it was. “Dean!” She exclaimed loudly and opened her arms up and gave Dean a hug. “How have you been? How’s the restaurant?” She asked, walking around him and grabbing a cup and filling it up with whatever alcohol punch they had and taking a sip.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robyn Miller Character Portrait: Erin Monaghan Character Portrait: Jade Davies Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Lauren Clark Character Portrait: Dylan Knight Character Portrait: Gabriella Montez Character Portrait: Evie Addams Character Portrait: Olivia Eriksen Character Portrait: Dean Sun Character Portrait: Adonis Galante Character Portrait: Julian Davies Character Portrait: Declan Sun Character Portrait: Simon Rizzo
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#, as written by TushoKa
Julian Davies.
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outfit. #8744ab.song.
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xxx And I'm a million different people
xxx From one day to the next
xxx I can't change my mold
xxx No, no, no, no, no

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Julian had been nervous all day. He was looking forward to the party, but at the same time it freaked him out. The last time he saw most of these people had been way before he ever went to prison. And although they might not say it to his face, he knew he was now known as ‘that guy that went to prison’. Whatever reason there had been for him going, he still had a hard time dealing with the stereotype that came with it.

Thankfully there had been his host for this evening. He wished there were more people like Erin, putting some faith in people that did their time. He had been working his ass off for months now in order to prove her right. And although he had never seen himself as a barman, it suited him well enough. He always made sure to split his tip with his colleagues and kept an eye on the regulars. Most of the people he had seen after his sentence was because of the Golden Owl. It was the new leaf he had been waiting to turn over for quite some time. And he had no interest in going back into any unsavoury business.

”So what time will you be ready?” he shouted at the bathroom door. His sister didn’t respond. Julian had been quick and efficient. In all honesty, he did not have a huge wardrobe to choose from. So he had settled on a simple polo and just prayed it would be anywhere near what the others would be wearing.

Julian had aimlessly walked through the living room, glancing at his phone, browsing through pictures he saw of people gearing up for the party. He always hated being late, and it wasn’t the first time his sister had been delaying him.

”Come on, Jay-jay. We’re gonna be late. I don’t want to get there when the party is basically over…” He was talking while leaning and knocking on the door. He almost dropped in when the door was suddenly opened.

”Julian, if you can’t wait, just go already.” The look on her face was one of anger. He recognised it easily as she looked at him with the same frown more than once a day. ”It’s only a short cab ride, so I can make my own way, and I don’t need you to take care of me. As you can see, I’m busy.”

He could see how she’d been busy with her hair. Just like it did with their mom, hair always took forever. Jade had started as soon as she got home and had kicked him off the couch in the process. ”Well…, you might be faster if you wouldn’t be listening to music while getting ready…” he said, grasping at straws.

”This music is a medical report podcast about anesthesiology in paediatrics and is a whole lot more interesting than your whining. So go the party, and I’ll meet you there.” With that she slammed the door in his face, barely leaving him the second it took to make sure it didn’t actually hit his face.




Julian paid with the change in his pocket. He already felt guilty on how he had been to his little sister. She’s trying so hard to better her life, and others as well by studying medicine, it was not right for him to give her a hard time. As he got out of the cab, he stared at the huge apartment. Jade’s apartment was surely good enough, and he could only thank her for letting him sleep on the couch on such a regular basis. But this apartment was something else all together.

As he got in he spotted the familiar faces quickly. He saw Erin first, in the middle of the dance floor with Evie. He made his way over to them first.
”Hey boss, thanks again for the invite. Nice to have one of our old school parties.” He smiled at her genuinely.
”Hey Evie, nice to see you again. She’s not here yet, but my sister should be here soon, I’m sure she’ll be happy to see you again.”
With that he let them be and walked on. He almost had the feeling like he walked in on something he shouldn’t have.

Before he made his way over to the next group, he was attacked. Livvy gave him a big hug.
”Hey Liv, it’s good to see you. I’ve missed you.” Missing her was an understatement. It was always nice to find someone who can speak your language, and Livvy was one of the few in the group who did. He didn’t know what else to say. Of all people he had expected Livvy to visit him, but she had been very distant. Of course her work didn’t give her the chance, but he couldn’t fully rationalise she had not even sought contact through phone or letter.
They let go of each other, as they were each still making their way through the room.

His next stop was the kitchen, where he picked up three beers, before he made his way over to the billiards. He had already spotted Dylan and Adonis. ”Good evening, people of the good life. Dylan, how are you?” As he asked Dylan, he gave a quick hug to Adonis.
”You guys looked like you could use some refreshments.” He handed each of them a fresh beer, before he clinked his bottle against theirs. ”Well, this is all a bit overwhelming. Cheers!”

As he looked up, he saw Simon and Robyn on the dance floor. Not sure if Simon could see it, he just held up his beer as a greeting. From his face he could see his friend was enjoying himself.






Jade Davies.
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outfit. #cb0e36.song.
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xxx No one on the corner has swagger like us
xxx Hit me on my burner prepaid wireless
xxx We pack and deliver like UPS trucks
xxx Already going hell, just pumping that gas

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Jade was tired the moment her shift was over. But she had been looking forward to this evening ever since Julian told her about it. So she had already picked out her outfit, but after a week of eleven hour shifts, she needed to do her hair first. With part of her hair tightened to the side, she was fighting with the straightener to iron out the other. She was listening to a podcast her senior physician had recommended. They hadn’t said it in those specific words, but Jade didn’t need a lot to get the hint.

That unlike her brother who annoyed the living daylights out of her. She had said it was okay for him to sleep on the couch, but he took that suggestion with more liberty than she liked. With the comb between her teeth and the straightener on the side of the sink, she changed sides to tackle the other part of her hair. The process had been going on for hours, but usually she would last a while before she had to do this again. She would rather kill herself than to appear at this party looking disheveled.

After talking of her brother she heard the door slam, indicating he’d finally left. She wouldn’t give him much credit, but at least she knew about the party through him. Jade doubted she would have received her own invitation. She had posted some pics throughout the week, already referencing the party. She knew Lauren would at least see those. Jade wanted to see her, wanted to confront her with her accomplishments. She wanted to show Lauren, she had outgrown her. This party was the perfect opportunity for that.

Finally ready with her hair she could see the absolute mess she had made. The whole floor was wet, as if there had been a flood. With her feet she wiped a towel over the floor to fix the worst of it. Then she put on her make up and got dressed. She wondered if Gabriella would be there too. She hoped so, her ex might be able to dodge her calls, but that would be a lot harder to do in person. She missed her, there was no doubt about that. But things weren’t lost, she just needed to get in contact with her again.

Lastly Jade put on the skirt and top she had already prepared. The top matched her bright red lipstick and looking into the mirror she was happy. This will be a night to remember. She grabbed her bag and 3 small bottles from her dresser. They were all filled with a selection of pills, pretty much a party mix.
She left the apartment for the cab stand. With a wink and a smile she said hi to the driver, who had been expecting her. Getting into the back, she leaned forward and handed the driver one of the bottles. ”All there. Now, do me a favour and drop me off at this address.”
She showed the address on her phone to the driver who just thanked her and started driving.




Jade left the cab and got to the apartment she had been looking for. Okay…just gonna assume most of this is Soren’s money…
As she climbed the stairs, she could feel a tingling in her stomach. She had been looking forward to this.

Inside it was already rather busy. But fashionably late was kind of her style in any case. She walked across the dance floor towards the kitchen. She saw her brother and some others near the billiards. She waved quickly and gave a small, almost non-perceivable wink to Adonis. Something about the look on his face told her that he’d seen her post. She had been out to lunch with Adonis’ mother 2 weeks ago, and she had learned the baby that was there was in fact Adonis’.
With her aim towards paediatrics she certainly had a professional interest, but even she had to admit that she posted the selfie of Adonis’ child with herself purely to rile him up.

The kitchen had been her best guess, and when she got in, she wasn’t disappointed. She gulped when she saw Gabriella, after a whole year. The last time she had seen her had been at the hospital. Jade had come by later, some time after the overdose. Ella had been asleep when she entered. Jade had looked at the chart and had figured out quickly that Ella was going to be fine. The relief she had felt then was overwhelming, and she had left before Gabriella would have had the chance of waking up.
She looked relaxed, full on in party mode.

Doing her best not to look at Gabriella or ‘homewrecker Declan’ for that matter, she walked over to Dean. She very nearly pushed Robyn out of the way in order to get to Dean. ”Hey babez, sorry for being late.” loud enough for all of them to hear.
She leaned forward to plant her lips on his, even just for a bit. Then she leaned back and looked at Robyn. ”Oh, hi sweetie. How are you holding up? I heard about Nate. I was so sorry to hear about his accident.” she put her hand on Robyn’s upper arm in an effort to show some empathy. With her smile and friendly eyes some people might even be convinced of her concern.
”If we can do anything to help, you just need to shout, all right?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robyn Miller Character Portrait: Jade Davies Character Portrait: Gabriella Montez Character Portrait: Dean Sun Character Portrait: Declan Sun
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Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image
xxxx

xDean SunDeclan Sunx
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xxtroublemakerfuture surgeonxx
xx#A3333D#4A6670xx
xxoutfitoutfitxx

xxwith a guest appearance by gabriella montez
keepthese
linesfor


Declan might not have attended the party had Gabriela not said she was thinking about going, and Dean said he was certainly attending. Dec was pretty sure they’d only invited Dean because it felt wrong not to invite them both in the first place. Declan understood that, but sometimes they wished things weren’t like that. In his opinion, Dean was a good, but deeply flawed, person. Underneath all his issues he cared a lot.

The night of the party, Dean had swung by Declan’s place ahead of time because, well, it was on the way and Dean was trying to repair their relationship, and he wouldn’t be as well received if Dec wasn’t there with him. So he was there, sifting through Declan’s refrigerator while he waited for his sibling to get ready. Dean made a face as he pulled some rotting spinach out and tossed it in the garbage. Declan bought fresh food, but from the looks of the kitchen they never ate any of it. Dean couldn’t blame them, they were honestly too busy.

“Are you almost ready?” He called, long since tired of waiting around, “If we don’t hurry up people are going to think you won’t show.”

Declan had been so busy. Classes, studying, hospital rotations. It was dizzying and exhausting and left them little time for the small pleasures of life like taking their goddamn time getting ready for a party. “Yeah, I’m just-” He sighed, “It’s been so long, you know?” All their old friends were going to be there. Soren was going to be there. Maybe Simon. Dec wasn’t sure how to behave, or what kind of impression to make. Their social life had suffered for their excellent grades, and sometimes Declan wondered if he’d ever be normal again.

They left the cramped bathroom and came face-to-face with Dean, “Okay, I-” A pause, and a look around the room, “Were you going through my food?”

“Half of your shit was molding in the fridge,” Dean offered as an explanation, before turning to grab Declan’s keys and toss them at his brother, “Come on, parties are no fun if you’re the only sober ones there, and if we don’t hurry we will be.”

A subway ride and a couple blocks of walking later, and they were very nearly there.

“Dean,” Declan started, intending to ask Dean not to get Gabriella mixed up in whatever trouble he might concoct while at the party, but Dean waved them off before they got off the chance.

“I know this is my last fucking chance with most of these people,” He said, looking ahead, eyes not even glancing towards his brother, “Past it, even. I’ll be on my best behavior.”

Declan felt a little guilty. That was basically the gist of it, but they probably wouldn’t have been too harsh. “I just don’t want anyone to get hurt tonight, is all.”

There was a pregnant pause between the two of them.

“I know.” Dean finally replied. And after that, neither of them said much.

As they neared the building, Dean looked across the street and saw a squirrel behaving really erratically, and Dean pointed it out. “The fuck is that squirrel doing?”

Declan turned their head, eyebrow raised, “Let’s just get inside and leave it alone. Might be diseased or something.”

“Gross,” Dean mumbled as they entered the building.




They hadn't been there long before Dean vanished from Declan’s side and someone else found him, “Where the fuck have you been.”

Declan quickly tried to explain, tone apologetic, “My rotation this afternoon ran a little long and-”

“It doesn’t even matter. You’re here now. Don’t you dare leave me alone.”

Declan nodded at the interruption, “I wouldn’t dream of it.” He nodded along as she started detailing the gossip of the night, occasionally puncturing her comments with little interjections of “oh?”, or “no,” or even, “I knew it!”

Declan raised an eyebrow at Gabriella’s comment about Erin and Evie. They smirked, “Right down to the outfits.”

Dean had made it to the kitchen, and Declan shot him an awkward smile as they both reached out for Gabriella to hand them a beer. Then Robyn Miller, of all people, was greeting Dean like they were the best of friends. What the fuck.

There hadn’t been much for Dean to do besides ditch Declan once the two of them got to the party, and then they were quickly reunited in the kitchen. Dean shot a beaming grin at Dec and went on to his business. The goal for the evening was to get drunk, get laid, and have fun. He ran into someone on his way out of the kitchen, and was a little pissed off until he noticed it was Robyn. He smiled at her greeting, “Hey! It’s great to see you.”

“How have you been? How’s the restaurant?”

Dean nodded, “Busy,” He offered, as explanation for how both he and the restaurant were doing, “How about you? How’s-”

Then Jade showed up, blowing through the room like a whirlwind. He swallowed down his annoyance of being interrupted to put on the act of a kind and caring boyfriend, shrugging off her apology for being late. “Not my party.” He neglected to mention that he, himself, had also been a bit late. He returned Jade’s kiss, and had to fight the urge to roll his eyes when Jade went on talking to Robyn about Nate’s passing. The conversation was suddenly about Nate, and he wasn’t the center of it anymore, so he was very quickly growing bored. But he kept a polite, neutral smile glued to his face.

Gabriella, who had turned to face Declan when Jade entered the kitchen, still couldn’t resist glancing out her periphery as she heard Jade call another by the endearment once reserved for her. Doing her best not to react she took a drink from her beer, looking back to Declan to see his reaction. It was evident it was just as much of a surprise to him as it was Gabriella.

“I’m going to go to the bathroom,” Gabriella mumbled to Declan, slipping past him and out the kitchen.

Dec had no idea that Jade and Dean were… Together? He shook his head when Gabriella looked at him, trying to wordlessly convey that he would have told her had he known. He sighed, softly, to himself as she slipped past. She needed a minute, so he let her go.

Declan walked up to Dean and, with a smile, said, “Excuse me ladies,” They cut a sharp look at Jade, it only lasted a second, but it was long enough to convey their distaste for her. “Can I borrow my brother for just a minute?” With their normally-gentle hand on Dean’s shoulder, Declan led Dean out of the kitchen and to the first empty corner they could find and shoved him into it.

“What the hell, Dean?!”

“What?” Dean’s expression was incredulous, he hadn’t done anything. Of course, he didn’t know the truth about what had happened between Jade and Gabriella, but for fuck’s sake.

“Jade? Out of everyone in the world?”

Dean shrugged, but he was angry at Declan for pushing him. Dec could see it on his face, they knew Dean better than anyone. “I really don’t think it's any of your business.” Dean smiled; all teeth and no warmth, “Is it?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Damien Wolfe Character Portrait: Robyn Miller Character Portrait: Erin Monaghan Character Portrait: Jade Davies Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Lauren Clark Character Portrait: Dylan Knight Character Portrait: Gabriella Montez Character Portrait: Evie Addams Character Portrait: Olivia Eriksen Character Portrait: Dean Sun Character Portrait: Adonis Galante Character Portrait: Julian Davies Character Portrait: Camilla Rhodes Character Portrait: Declan Sun Character Portrait: Simon Rizzo
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evie addams.
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outfit. #b59eab.
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xxx I don't feel sorry for you
xxx Cause now the tables turning
xxx And now the bridge is burning
xxx It's coming crashing down

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In some ways, Evie didn’t realise that she was searching for someone in particular until that someone materialised beside her, with a wry comment and that charming smirk. Evie grinned and returned Erin’s side hug. She laughed and shrugged a little at the comment. “Never really know what to do with myself,” she admitted with an honest laugh. For years, she’d just followed Lauren around and followed her example. Figuring out what to do with her own agency, as her own person, took a little bit of time. Erin’s comment about not being a party animal herself made her chuckle a little. Evie wasn’t quite sure that she believed Erin on that, but she appreciated the comfort nonetheless.

Evie wasn’t quite sure how to react when Erin declared that she had to go with her, gently taking Evie’s drink from her and setting it down. She had to fight back a blush as Erin took her hand, but felt that her huge, cheesy smile had to give her away, as she nodded at Erin’s request for a dance. “Sure,” she managed to get out, before tugging Erin towards the dance floor.

Evie had never really gotten to spend much time with Erin before. Erin and Lauren had hated each other, and Evie had always just stuck with Lauren, no matter the horrible things that she was saying. But now, Evie wanted to make up for that, and get to know the real Erin, not the version that Lauren painted of her. And if that started with dancing and having fun together, well, who was she to turn it down?

For once, Evie wasn’t worried about how she looked or what people thought of her. As a teenager, her mind had always been on whether or not she looked “hot”, how she compared to Lauren and Jade and Camilla, what they thought of her, what everyone else thought of her. But no more. Now, she was focused on the moment and on having fun. Because that’s what she was doing; having fun. She was laughing and dancing with Erin, not worrying about whether people were staring or what they could possibly be thinking. She spotted Gabriella and gave an excited, albeit brief wave, that she wasn’t sure whether or not the other girl saw.

She grinned as Julian approached them, almost a little awkwardly, to say hello to Erin. The once or twice that Evie had swung by the Golden Owl, she’d seen Julian behind the bar, and while they hadn’t necessarily talked much, it was good to see him doing well. Her smile faltered a little bit at the mention of Jade, but she nodded. “Good to see you, mate.”

They got back to dancing and enjoying themselves for another little while. And then, as Evie turned, she caught a glimpse of a familiar figure, one that sent chills down her spine, and she froze.




lauren clark.
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outfit. #540000.
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xxx Honey, I rose up from the dead,
xxx I do it all the time
xxx I've got a list of names
xxx and yours is in red, underlined

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Getting back in contact with Camilla might just have been the best decision Lauren had made. If she hadn’t, she probably wouldn’t have heard about this little party. Jade had been making vague posts about it all week on instagram as well, probably with the intention of catching Lauren’s interest. It was a cute attempt, really, but Camilla had already spoiled that surprise for Jade. Lauren had liked the posts, of course, but hadn’t particularly engaged with them beyond that. She knew that Jade was likely to try and impress her, or show her that she had somehow surpassed Lauren in terms of being the Queen Bee, a thought that made Lauren genuinely laugh.

She already knew all of her old favourite toys would be there. Lauren smiled at the thought as she leaned in to add the finishing touches to her eyeliner. It was Erin’s apartment, which meant that Soren was also guaranteed to be there. He thought he’d called her bluff when she’d threatened to tell the world about all of his little secrets. And truth be told, she’d been tempted to post the pictures she had, just to spite him. But when she’d heard about the party, she figured that she’d have the opportunity to get even more dirt on him. Being with a rockstar was exactly the angle her reputation needed right now, even one that was known to be the opposite of the stereotype. The aesthetics were all that mattered. She had her ways of getting everything else she wanted. She always had; her relationship with him had always been about the aesthetics and the fun of it all.

And then, of course, there was Erin herself. Oh, the things that Lauren had on Erin. Erin had gotten bold around the time that Evie had gotten herself sent to hospital and had blamed it all on Lauren. But a twisted smile and a reminder of the information that Lauren had, and Erin had dropped it. That sort of power over one of her most notorious critics was the most intoxicating kind.

She’d also heard through a reliable source that Dean was going to be there, which meant that his shadow of a brother was also likely to be there. At least she knew that there was likely to be a bit of fun if Dean was there. Declan was a little bit of a complication, having taken the sides of those such as Evie and Gabriella over the years, but as far as she was concerned, he wasn’t likely to be a problem or a barrier to her being able to have a little bit of fun.

Showing up to a party on time was overrated, and not her style. She wanted to make sure that all eyes would be on her when she arrived. And so, she waited, booking her taxi for an hour after the time that Camilla had told her. Camilla had been oh so generous in telling Lauren all of the details, acting as the perfect little minion. She’d fallen right back into Lauren’s clutches and all it had taken was a few friendly texts, comments hyping her up on instagram, and some juicy gossip, and it was like nothing had ever happened between them. Of course, it had, and Lauren wasn’t going to forget their little conversation in the hospital any time soon. But being friends with Camilla was in Lauren’s interests at the minute, and so, she’d make sure to stay on her good side for as long as was required.

She stepped out of the taxi and scanned the building in front of her. She shook her head, smiling to herself as she imagined how the hell Erin explained how she could afford this apartment to people. Everyone knew that the Golden Owl couldn’t be making that much money to be able to afford a nice place like this. There were one or two stragglers outside, who saw her and froze. She didn’t recognise them; which meant they either feared her by reputation, or her appearance was enough to strike fear into them. Lauren’s wicked smile grew a little. Either of those things were good. She took her time making her way into the apartment. If anyone recognised her, she wanted them to be sure that it was her. She wanted everyone to know that she was there, and that she meant business.

The dance floor was right in front of her as she finally stepped into the apartment itself. She could already see a few familiar faces. Those familiar faces began to do double takes as they noticed her. Evie and Erin were out dancing on the floor together, laughing and apparently oblivious to the looks and the comments that were being made about them. It was cute, really, but Lauren knew that with a few well placed revelations, she could change the way they looked at each other forever.

But it was probably a bit early in the party to begin plotting anyone’s downfall just yet.

As Evie twirled, she spotted Lauren and froze, the smile falling from her face in an instant and her expression turning to one of horror. That was Lauren’s cue, it seemed. She spotted Camilla and strode towards her. As she walked, all conversation seemed to die, save for whispers that were barely heard over the music; some emo shit that Soren had presumably chosen.

“Hello, darling,” Lauren called, leaning in to kiss Camilla on the cheek. “Thank you so much for inviting me to this… wonderful little party,” she said. “I’m so psyched to be able to see all my old… friends again,” she said, turning and scanning the room. Her smile widened as she realised that practically all of their old group was there. All of her favourite toys. All of the people whose secrets she still knew, who she still held in the palm of her hand.

All of the people she could, and would ruin.




soren bowers.
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outfit. #4d5676.
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xxx I've been staying up all night
xxx Shaking needles out my spine
xxx But the doctor says I'm fine
xxx Feels good to be alive, but I hate my life

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Soren grinned at Erin as she passed. As he got into the kitchen, he heard a familiar voice calling out to him, offering him a beer. He grinned and held out his hand. “You’re a mind reader, Gabriella,” he called, accepting the drink. But before he could properly greet Gabriella, she turned to Declan (who Soren only realised was there as she did so), said something he couldn’t quite hear and left. Soren recovered, taking a mouthful of his beer, and took a moment to compose his thoughts.

And then Declan also left, apparently having not noticed Soren’s arrival either. Soren just took another drink, sighing a little. He felt vaguely deflated by the fact that the only person that seemed to have really paid any heed to him was Camilla and her comment about his shirt. But he didn’t have time to dwell on it. Because as he looked back out towards the dance floor, he saw something that sent shivers down his spine.

Lauren was there. She kissed Cam on the cheek, before turning to scan the room. Lauren’s eyes landed on Soren, and her smile became even more wicked. He made his way towards her, unsmiling as he approached.

“Soren, darling, how wonderful to see you as well. You look fantastic, and what a wonderful party,” she said. He didn’t smile, and that just seemed to make hers widen.
“What the fuck are you doing here?” He asked.
“My darling friend Camilla here invited me,” she said. Soren instinctively shot a glare at Cam, before turning his attention back to Lauren. She bet him to the punch however.

“Come on then, Sor, darling, be the gracious host we all know you are,” she said, taking a step towards him and cupping his face. He froze for a second, conscious of everyone watching them. He pushed her hand away, as calmly but as insistently as he could.
“Leave,” he said, loudly enough for everyone to hear. Her eyes shone with a dangerous energy, a warning, her whole demeanour like a trickster goddess, waiting for someone to fall in her trap. And it seemed like somebody just had.
“Are you going to make me?” She asked. There was nothing playful in her tone, even if it was light. He braced himself, knowing that the sting was coming. “Do you really think you’d be able to do that? What with your bad hip and all of your… other problems?” She asked, her tone cold and harsh, and somehow still light. She made sure that everyone would hear, and that they’d be hanging on to her every word. She really hadn’t changed. And then she smiled, her demeanour changing back to friendly and open. “I really can’t wait to catch up with all of you again,” she said, turning to address the party, and choosing another target to go talk to. Soren went to follow her or to say something, but somebody grabbed his arm to hold him back.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Damien Wolfe Character Portrait: Robyn Miller Character Portrait: Erin Monaghan Character Portrait: Jade Davies Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Lauren Clark Character Portrait: Dylan Knight Character Portrait: Gabriella Montez Character Portrait: Evie Addams Character Portrait: Olivia Eriksen Character Portrait: Dean Sun Character Portrait: Adonis Galante Character Portrait: Julian Davies Character Portrait: Camilla Rhodes Character Portrait: Declan Sun Character Portrait: Simon Rizzo Character Portrait: Jeremy Williams
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Olivia Eriksen
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Art Conservator/Starving Artist | outfit. | Song |#8B8000.
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xxx I wanna paint your face
xxx Like you're my Mona Lisa
xxx I wanna be a champion
xxx I wanna be a loser

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Livvy should've picked a better place to sketch she decided. Part of her was scolding herself for not interacting more, but her travel had made it hard to keep in touch with a lot of people. Many reconnected with old friends and some... made new friends. She always had Simon, of course, but they couldn't cling to one another like Rose and Jack in the Titanic. The scene with the door still upset her. There was plenty of room on that damn door for Jack! She shook her head sharply, getting lost in her thoughts. She took another sip as someone grabbed her in a hug from behind and she squeaked--actually squeaked--as Gabriella embraced her. "Hello to you too," she said with a laugh. Gabriella, one of those new friends/old friends who found new friends with old friends (she should make a mind map to follow all the friendships around here), turned her attention to Soren. Livvy gave him a small nod and went back to sketching. She saw Soren every now and then, but he was more Simon's kind of guy. They shared a love of music.

Only Julian shared Livvy's love of art.

She had half a thought to go find him when more faces filled the kitchen and she started to feel a bit crowded. With a grunt, she tossed her things in her little bag and moved around the island to try to find a different space to exist in. She heard a familiar voice--Robyn's--greet someone that made Livvy stop in her tracks. Dean.

There he was. Just as attractive as he was in high school. More so with that swagger and his hair. She felt her palms get sweaty and realized she was staring. Thankfully he didn't seem to notice. In fact, he didn't seem t see her at all. She moved to join in the conversation with Simon's new love interest and her old flame with she walked in. Livvy was never a fan of Jade. She never liked the way she treated her brother. She wouldn't be surprised if she had anything to do with Julian getting locked up. It wasn't long before Dean made his relationship clear.

And just like that, Livvy found herself leaving the room altogether... and snagging a bottle of strawberry liqueur and made her way into another room. She low-key hoped Simon didn't see. She knew she'd get an ear full of it later.

While she found Julian, much to her dismay, she had also run into someone else she wasn't entirely sure how to respond to. Adonis. Guilt swept through her again as she hadn't reached out lately. She had been busy with paintings and weddings. And he had been busy with Fleur and... if she was reading the room right, Dylan maybe? Livvy didn't know much about Dylan. She was a gorgeous woman with the kind of curves Livvy would kill for. She subconsciously ran a hand over her chest, bound in her black tube top. She took a swig from the bottle and walked over.

"Hey, guys! What's uh... what's up?" She lifted a hand to run her fingers through her hair like she usually did when she was nervous, but she spent a good amount of product trying to keep the volume in her hair so she let it drop. "Are we playing pool? Could do guys vs. ladies?"

Livvy, she thought, Shut the hell up.







Simon Rizzo
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Barista | outfit | Song |#489A4A.
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xxx I'm always screaming my lungs out
xxx till my head starts spinning
xxx Playing my songs is the way I cope with life
xxx Won't keep my voice down
xxx Know the words I speak are the thoughts I think out loud

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As Simon danced with Robyn, he noticed movement behind her and glanced over to find Julian. He gave a small wave with the promise to catch up with him later. They haven't talked as much as they used with their work schedules but they found time where they could. Robyn was gorgeous tonight, with her curls and her adorable smile. He wanted to tell her what, exactly, he felt for her, but he still wasn't sure if she was ready after Nate. They hadn't ever talked about it.

So instead, he just enjoyed the time he had with her.

Once they finished dancing, she went to get a drink, and he moved off to the side to give others room to dance. He noticed Livvy slink off, but missed the bottle she had snatched. He did however notice Declan in the kitchen with Gabriella. It had been a while since they connected and while things ended fine between them, he did miss the friendship that had at one time. He made a move to join them...And that's when Cam walked up. He barely recognized her with the way her hair was styled, her lack of bright red lipstick. It was like, she dropped the Camilla she was on stage and became a different Camilla. Interesting.

Sputtering like a high school boy, he replied, "H-Hey, Cam-Camilla-Cam." He cleared his throat and rubbed the back of his neck. "It has, in fact, been a while. You look great. Did you do something with your hair?" She asked him about his "comic shop" and he instantly knew she hadn't changed a ton since high school. It helped him mellow a bit. "Just a book store. And a coffee shop. And it's not mine I just work there. Well, I manage it." He gave an uncomfortable chuckle.

Then, he could almost hear a record scratch. Could almost feel the ice that filled the room (or was it heat?) as the fire-breathing bitch queen appeared. All sly smiles and cocky attitude. She kissed Cam on the cheek, thanking her for inviting her. His eyes snapped to his ex, filled with what he could only describe as betrayal. Not that he could say he was entirely surprised. He was just thankful Livvy wasn't in the room. She wasn't sure if she'd try to claw the woman's eyes out or jump her to complete her stupid list.

Lauren's eyes roved the room and landed on poor Soren. The energy in the room turned electric, crackling with aggression as he confronted her. She revealed something about a bad hip of his, but Simon dismissed it. The woman liked to play games. And even if she wasn't playing, it was none of Simon's business. She breezed by him, a wraith with no real substance, and he moved to go after her, but Simon reached out to grab his arm. "Let her go, man. It's not worth it." He watched her go and continued, "She likes a chase."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robyn Miller Character Portrait: Jade Davies Character Portrait: Lauren Clark Character Portrait: Dean Sun Character Portrait: Camilla Rhodes Character Portrait: Declan Sun Character Portrait: Simon Rizzo
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xxxxxxxxxxxxxx I should move 'cause New York is gettin' muddy out
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxThere's L.A. but it's always kinda sunny out
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxAnd I don't wanna hurt no more
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxSo I set my bar real low

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xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxOutfit ║ Hex: #2A9DF4

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<3
Robyn nodded when Dean mentioned being busy, it made sense. She cocked her head a bit, listening to what he was about to ask when she almost fell over when someone walked past her, but blamed it on the tight spaces of the atmosphere and people drinking. Though Robyn was surprised to see it was Jade and her friendly greeting with Dean, she didn’t remember him mentioning her at all during some of their talks at his work. She was about to sneak away when she saw Gabriella walking through the crowd, but was brought back when Jade turned and spoke to her.

As Jade spoke, Robyn started with a smile and was about to return the greeting when Jade brought up Nathan. Robyn’s demeanor changed immediately, a bit more solemn look crossed over her face. This was one of her worries about coming to this party, being constantly reminded about her husband and the accident. Of course people would ask if she was okay, but she was here to try to enjoy herself and forget about all the bad for at least a night. She darted her eyes to the ground and rubbed her arm for a moment, trying to compose herself and get ahold of her emotions. Robyn only looked back up when Jade spoke again, offering anything to help if needed. “Yeah, it’s been-” Robyn started to speak, slowly and with a light mumble, but was cut off when Dean’s brother interjected and pulled him away.


She was thrown off a bit with Declan pulling Dean away so quickly, but it gave her enough of a distraction from the current conversation with Jade. “Weird…” Robyn spoke out loud, more so to herself rather than to Jade or anyone else. “So Jade? How long have you and Dean been together? I don’t recall him mentioning anything, my bad.” She asked Jade, throwing out a smile. Robyn was genuinely curious about the two of them, especially since she felt like her and Dean were starting to get close.

Robyn let out a slight giggle with how Jade explained her and Dean, but then took a bit back by asking how she was… ‘getting her excitement.’ “Oh, uh.” She stuttered for a moment. “Nothing really. Don’t feel ready to get back out there, you know?” She shrugged, hoping Jade would understand what she meant. Robyn struggled with herself and trying to figure what to do with herself and her dating future. Not sure what Nate would “approve” or look down upon her for doing. Jade’s next moment threw Robyn off. it's not like he's gonna come back. Jade’s words hung around Robyn, even after she left, saying something about the ladies’ room. Robyn hovered around the kitchen for a bit, downing two quick cups of the alcoholic punch. She let out a few deep breaths before grabbing another drink she was going to bring to Simon and headed out of the kitchen hoping Simon wouldn’t be too upset that she took a bit too long.

As she walked back into the open space, she scanned the room and finally settled on Simon and took a step towards him. But she stopped when she noticed someone he was talking to, Camilla Rhodes. Robyn was surprised to see her here, they didn’t exactly end on bad terms either so there wasn’t any bad blood between them. But she knew about Camilla and Simon’s past, and felt a bit of envy seeing her talking to Simon, though she wasn’t entirely sure why.

All of the sudden the room stood still, Robyn shifted her gaze to where everyone else was, and saw Lauren. The last person she expected to see here. She just sat back and watched. Her and Lauren weren’t on bad terms, and might even be friends if they spoke, but the blonde woman had a secret she held over Robyn’s head that she didn’t want anyone to find out about, so she typically avoided her. Robyn turned away after seeing Lauren greet Camilla and decided she didn’t want to deal with the old friend at the moment and hoped to get away.

“Robbie!” The voice rung in her ears, and it seemed like Robyn hadn’t been able to get away in fact. Robyn let out a sigh and turned around facing Lauren. “Hey Lauren! It’s been awhile hasn’t it?” She asked, with a smile on her face, still holding the two drinks in her hand, one meant for Simon. “It truly has, hasn’t it? For me? Thanks.” Lauren spoke, taking one of the drinks out of Robyn’s hand. “Kind of a bummer party. Expected more from a self proclaimed rockstar.” She continued, throwing a laugh out and taking a sip of her drinking.

“Ye-” Robyn began to talk, but was cut off by Luaren. “So, see you're still wearing those rings. Didn’t he passed a year now?” She asked bluntly. Like with Jade, she was taken back by the comment. “Uh, Y-yeah. It helps. Helps remember him.” She took a glance down at her ring after speaking. “Mhmm. I bet Robbie.” Lauren set down her drink and took Robyn’s from her and set hers down too. Lauren was now holding both her hands now, pulling her gaze to meet her own. “Listen here darling. You have to learn to move on. Do you really think Nathan would want you to be sulking around?” She paused.

Lauren’s voice seemed to have empathy in it as she spoke. “You’re still a beautiful woman, and shouldn’t be held up hiding all of that from the world.” Robyn flashed a smile to Lauren. “Thanks Laur.” “Anytime Robbie. And you know Nathan wasn’t much to begin with.” This made Robyn react with a quizzical look. “You know what I mean. Just another poor savior child, much like Julian. Ending up behind bars, probably would’ve been Nathan if you didn’t have your savior complex.” Robyn pulled back from Lauren. “It’s not like that. What happened to Julain was terrible, and Nath-” “Nathan what Robyn? I know he still visited his buddy behind bars. Plus you always knew there was better out there, or do you not remember that night with you in that sexy cheer outfit after graduation?” She continued, slapping Robyn lightly on the ass.

Robyn was speechless from what Lauren was saying. She wanted to move on from that drunken night. “Just, leave me alone Lauren.” Robyn said, taking a step past Lauren, but being yanked back, into a close embrace with her. “Oh come on. You loved that night. Maybe Nate’s passing is a good thing, a sign we should reignite some things.”

In the next moment there was a loud smack, and Robyn was standing a few feet from Lauren, holding her face after she was just slapped. “How dare you. Nathan deserved better than what happened. Maybe it would be better if you were dead and he was here instead.” Robyn was practically yelling at this point, and people had taken notice of what just developed. She didn’t pay attention to whatever reply Lauren said as she stormed off.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Damien Wolfe Character Portrait: Robyn Miller Character Portrait: Erin Monaghan Character Portrait: Jade Davies Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Lauren Clark Character Portrait: Dylan Knight Character Portrait: Gabriella Montez Character Portrait: Evie Addams Character Portrait: Olivia Eriksen Character Portrait: Dean Sun Character Portrait: Adonis Galante Character Portrait: Julian Davies Character Portrait: Camilla Rhodes Character Portrait: Declan Sun Character Portrait: Simon Rizzo Character Portrait: Jeremy Williams
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Lauren Clark
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Chaos | Attire | hex: #540000
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Olivia Eriksen
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Starving Artist | Attire | hex:#8B8000
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It was a good thing that Livvy had kicked her heels off when she had arrived. Otherwise, she might’ve tripped over her own feet. She wasn’t drunk but she definitely wasn’t sober anymore. I took a lot to get her to the slur-your-words-and-lose-all-sense phase, but she was definitely in the unsteady-flushed-cheeks-overly-confident phase She padded out of the den, walking tall with her shoulders back and head high. Lauren was a predator, any sign of weakness would have her pouncing. If Livvy was going to pull this off, she couldn’t be a lamb. She had to be a wolf.

As she made her way towards Lauren, she spotted Adonis coming in from the front of the house. His clothes were more ruffled than when he had been in the den with her. Jumping to conclusions, she narrowed her eyes, flipped her blonde hair over a shoulder, and pretended she didn’t see him. Half of it was an act in case Lauren was watching. The other half… she rubbed at her chest absently.

She strode up to Lauren and ran a finger up her arm. ”Well, Well,” Livvy purred, ”Miss Lauren Clark. I would ask what brings you here, but I think it’s safe to assume the lemming invited you.” Her blue eyes snapped to Camilla a moment before returning to Lauren. She gave a sultry smile. ”I take it not much has changed. Still like causing chaos?”

Lauren was pleased to see Livvy making her way over to her. She’d missed seeing Livvy around; another one of her beloved toys, even though she hadn’t played with her quite as much as some of the others. And, well, it seemed like Livvy hadn’t changed much, if at all. Her demeanor as she made her way up to Lauren, followed by her opening gesture, confirmed that one thing had at least hadn’t changed. Which, of course, meant that Lauren could play her games.

She smiled, laughing a little at Livvy’s comment about Camilla. “Livvy, darling, don’t be so mean,” she said, in a tone that indicated that she actually loved Livvy being so mean. At her question about whether or not she was still causing chaos, she feigned shock and hurt. “I am shocked at that accusation,” she said, before laughing. “Of course I do. That’s why I’m here,” she said. “So come on, tell me, sweetheart, tell me everything that’s going on with you. I want to know all of the gossip and the scandal of your life.”

Livvy shrugged her pale shoulders. ”Not much to tell, I’m afraid. Just been traveling the country.” She feigned a sigh of disappointment. ”Sadly high school was the most exciting time of my life.” She linked arms with her, ignoring Camilla altogether, all a part of the act--though she still wasn’t a fan of Camilla after her break up with Simon. ”What about you?” She cooed, ”What has the great Lauren Clark been doing in her spare time since the whirlwind of high school?”

She started to tug her into a walk, heading in the direction of the hallway.

Lauren wasn’t sure that she believed Livvy’s act of disappointment, but she played along anyway. She let Livvy link her arm, even resting a hand on Livvy’s arm as she did so. She had to hold back a laugh as Livvy almost began to drag her towards the hall, out of sight of everyone else. She was curious to see how she was going to play it, though, and so Lauren let her.

“Oh, you know. Working. Mom and Dad gave me a job in marketing. It’s mundane from time to time, and I work with some of the dumbest and most boring people I have ever met, but they do what I tell them, and the money isn’t bad either. And of course, I do a little bit of influencing on the side. I was posting all of those pictures anyway, so why not get paid for including one teensy little brand in them?” She asked with a laugh. “I should get you on my Instagram. Everyone would fall in love with you right away,” she said, raising an eyebrow at Livvy.

"I'll definitely think about it", She replied, and it wasn’t a lie. It’s the kind of exposure people kill for. However, knowing who Lauren was, she was sure it was too good to be true.”It would be a great opportunity.”

She stopped at the bar, plucking a bottle of rose and pouring them each a glass. She tucked the bottle beneath her arm and held a glass out to Lauren. ”Why don’t you tell me more about it?” She offered, leading them back towards the hallway. ”Or, you could share some gossip with me. Sadly, my travels keep me fairly isolated so I don’t hear much.” Or not anything I’d share with you, she thought. For a moment, she thought about sharing Adonis’s attraction to Dylan but ultimately decided against it. He might’ve deserved some trouble, but getting Lauren involved was asking for catastrophe and she could never do that to him.

”Although, She paused, taking a sip of her wine. ”The best I’ve got is that apparently Dean and Jade are a thing!” She tried to sound surprised and a little disappointed. He was her hot ex after all. And… she did miss him every now and then. She still followed him on social media, but they didn’t talk often. At least his relationship with Jade was less scandalous but just as juicy of a story.

Lauren accepted the glass of rose and took a small sip from it. She loved a party as much as the next person and was no stranger to getting wasted; but she felt that, at least for this one, it was probably better to stay sober and in control. She raised an eyebrow at Livvy’s request for gossip. It seemed like the girl’s motives were somewhat mixed here, or else she was trying to play into everything she knew that Lauren enjoyed in the hope of impressing her. Lauren decided to give Livvy the benefit of the doubt and play along.

As Livvy mentioned that she had gossip, Lauren gasped, before grinning in vicious delight and leaning in. Her act almost shattered as Livvy told her what it was, having to resist the temptation to laugh. “Oh, I’m sure that won’t end badly at all,” she said, the only outward indication of her reaction as she took another sip of her wine. “I give them a month,” she said.

“So, you’ve given me some good gossip. Let me see if I can share anything… do you want to know something about someone we went to school with… or about someone here at the party?” She asked, her grin sharp with the realization that she could cause a little bit of chaos here, with either a well-placed truth or an even better-placed lie.

Livvy tipped her head back in a laugh. ”I’ll bet $20 it’ll be two weeks.” She took another sip of her wine. She hummed in thought and replied, with a giggle, ”From the looks of it, I don’t think those are as different as one would think.” She nibbled a little at the tip of her tongue as she thought. There were two things influencing her decision: the first--and her original reason for asking--was to see what Lauren knew compared to the things she knew and the second was that she was curious about the people she used to go to school with.

However… if she allowed herself to open that door, she could potentially find out something about someone she wasn’t supposed to know. So, in the end, she chose to play it safe. ”About someone here at the party,” she replied. There were plenty of people here who hadn't gone to school with them with that the odds were in her favor. Unless Lauren knew just where to strike.

Lauren had known that Livvy wouldn’t be able to resist the temptation to find out some gossip about the people they’d gone to school with. And now, of course, she needed to decide what exactly she wanted to spill. She could begin her campaign to ruin Soren’s life here and now; but from memory, Soren and Livvy had only ever been passing friends, so she wasn’t quite sure that that would have enough of an effect. Lauren took a moment to evaluate the situation. As far as she was concerned, she had three options for the highest amount of drama.

Number one. Erin. Lauren was aware of their past together and got the impression that there was still some unfinished business there. Some of Erin’s secrets could completely change Livvy’s impression of her, and might just touch a sore spot.

Number two. Evie. Would Livvy sink to Lauren’s level and use that information against Evie though, to win back Erin? Probably not, but she loved the idea of dangling that temptation in front of Livvy.

Number three. Adonis. Adonis and Livvy had some strange little dynamic going for them. Admittedly, Lauren didn’t know the details of what was going on, but she knew that she could cause some true mayhem there. And so she took a long sip of her wine and rifled through her mental list of secrets, looking for the juiciest of them all.

“Well. I heard that Adonis has gotten himself into some trouble. Working with some… dangerous people, on what is very definitely the wrong side of the law, if you catch my drift,” she said, raising an eyebrow suggestively and taking a step closer to Livvy, lowering her voice to a low murmur.

That wasn't what Livvy was expecting. "Adonis?" She frowned. Her mask, the entire act, shattered. She couldn’t pretend she didn’t care. Not if it was about Erin, Julian, or Simon. Not when it was about Adonis.

Not your business, she thought to herself. She led them down the hall, testing doorknobs as she went. If they were going to talk about this, they needed a more private space. Besides, that was her original plan anyway. She wondered if it had to do with Dylan. She knew the young woman was married now, though, she had to admit, she didn’t know to whom. Dylan didn’t really run in her circle in high school so she didn’t know much about her now. Besides, what did it matter who her friend slept with anyway?

She knew she had just been thinking he deserved some trouble, but the way Lauren was describing it… it was more trouble than she would’ve liked. The words were out of her mouth before she could think. ”What kind of trouble?”

The words had the desired effect, as Livvy’s cute little act shattered before Lauren’s eyes, and Lauren smiled, raising her glass to her lips as she did so. But if Livvy’s mask was shattered, that only made her intentions even clearer as she began trying doors. It was as they reached the last one that Livvy stopped again, to ask her what kind of trouble. “Well,” Lauren started, before reaching past Livvy and opening the door. This one opened. Lauren grabbed Livvy’s free hand and pulled her into the room, closing it behind them. By the looks of it, it was Erin’s bedroom. Lauren sat down on the bed, pulling Livvy along to sit beside her.

[color=#540000]“I don’t know the *exact* details,”
she said. “But I heard that he’s involved with some very dangerous people. Involving drugs, and possibly weapons,” she said, managing to feign some level of horror at it as if she also didn’t have her ties to some of the people involved. “God only knows what kind of trouble he’s gotten himself into now.”

Livvy knew she was in deep shit as Lauren dragged her into the final room. She was too intoxicated and curious to realize just what she was doing. Being here often enough she knew who's room it was. Erin. They were going into Erin's room.

She wanted to backpedal, to pull Lauren from the room before she found anything that would cause more trouble for her friend. More trouble than apparently what she was already causing just by walking this path.

It was too late. She could tell by the hungry look in Lauren's eye. She opened the wrong door and found herself tumbling into trouble. The room spun as Lauren whirled her around to sit beside her on the bed. Erin's bed.

This was a mistake, She thought. She couldn't handle the girl in high school. What made her think she could handle things now? Before she could find a way out of the situation, Lauren was spilling Adonis's secrets.

And it was worse than she feared. She squeezed her eyes shut a moment. What did you get yourself into, Nis? She thought. She took a deep breath and pushed it all down, down, down. She knew Lauren likely saw through her act now, but she had to change the subject. If she was sharing this with Livvy who else knew?

Then, she realized, she should stop acting. "Well that's not what I was expecting," she said with an awkward chuckle. "That's a lot to process." She waved a hand dismissively, tucking her hair behind her ear. "But I can always process later."

She downed the rest of the wine and placed it on a nearby surface. When she looked back at Lauren, the room shifted with her. She gave a startled laugh. "Whoops. Too much."

Then she reached up to trace Lauren's cheekbone and said, "I just realized. I've never drawn you before." She felt herself shift into artist mode, noticing the many colors that make up a person. She curled a lock of Lauren's hair around her finger. And said something she knew she'd likely regret later. "You're beautiful."

Lauren smiled with satisfaction that her words had had the intended effect as Livvy attempted to recover from the news, but managed to make it look something like a sympathetic smile instead. As Livvy downed the rest of her glass of wine, Lauren just took a delicate sip from hers, putting her still mostly full glass down beside Livvy’s empty one.

Livvy being that drunk made it so much easier. She finally had the guts to actually reach out to Lauren, revealing the real intentions she’d had all along. Lauren played along, leaning in towards Livvy a little.

“I know,” she said as Livvy said that she’d never drawn her. “You know, I’ve always hoped you’d ask. Any excuse to be around you,” she said softly. At Livvy’s compliment, Lauren just smiled, reaching out to tuck some of Livvy’s hair behind her ear, her hand lingering by Livvy’s face a little longer than it needed to.

Livvy’s blue eyes widened with surprise. She searched Lauren’s eyes for a lie, but couldn’t see through the alcohol-induced fog in her brain. Instead, she saw the light reflecting off Lauren’s irises, painting them gold. She admired the flawlessness of her skin, without a scar, mark, or pore. She studied the lighter strands among the dark of her hair. Then found herself leaning forward, investigating the red of her lips.

Her heart hammered in her chest. Her cheek was warm where Lauren’s hand lingered a little too long. Was this actually happening? Or was she passed out on the couch imagining the whole thing? Was she actually about to cross Lauren Clark off her high school “Fuck” list. The “coolest girl” in school?

She was close enough now that their noses were touching. She could smell the wine on Lauren’s breath, light and lingering. She released the strand of Lauren’s hair and lifted it until it rested against the warm curve of her neck. She swept a thumb across Lauren’s jawline. ”I’ve been wanting to ask since high school.” She finally said. Then, when she couldn’t take the tension anymore, she closed the distance between them, brushing her lips softly against Lauren’s.

Lauren smiled, right up until the moment that Livvy leaned in and pressed her lips against Lauren’s. Lauren let the kiss linger for a second or two, before she pulled away, her smile becoming wicked. “Oh, that’s adorable,” she said, her tone dripping in venom. “Did you really think that I would want you? Someone as… plain as you? Your stepfather may have had a point, you know. Who could want someone so plain?” She asked, cruelly tracing a finger along Livvy’s face.

It was at that point that her phone buzzed, and she very deliberately swiveled away from Livvy to pick up her bag and fish out her phone. And then she smiled, a smile that said whoever was on the other side of the text was far more interesting than Livvy. She kept her attention on the phone as she replied to the text, an unspoken dismissal.

Livvy blinked. First in confusion. And then in disbelief. She sat back, tilting a little further than she meant to. ”You literally said-” and then she stopped. Lauren had never actually said ”I want you”. She had only said she had been waiting for her to ask.

No one would want you,” her stepfather’s voice murmured in her mind. ”No one, but me.” And then she could feel him. Where Lauren’s hands had been. Where her exposed skin was at her waist.

She was going to be sick.

She rose and hurried from the room. There was a line for the bathroom, of course. Where else? The balcony. Air. Air would help.

She padded through the kitchen, not noticing anyone she passed, though she heard Dean’s distinct tenor. She could see the light on the ground though she wasn’t looking up. At least, not until she opened the door to step out… and Evie and Adonis were standing there. He looked like he was ready to unleash hell on her at first. She knew he hadn’t known it was her. Adonis has gotten himself into some trouble. Lauren’s voice purred.

”Sorry to interrupt” She found herself mumbling before she quickly shut the doors, whirling around and heading back in the direction she came. She ran her fingers through her long hair repeatedly. No doubt making it look wilder. No air. That only left… distraction. And she knew just who would be able to help. She stepped back towards the kitchen area in search of Dean.




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Character Portrait: Lauren Clark Character Portrait: Gabriella Montez Character Portrait: Dean Sun Character Portrait: Declan Sun
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”Why are you the way that you are?” When Dean just shrugged, uninterested, Declan sighed. ”God, you’re like a sociopath or something. I wish you could just be normal. Maybe then you could have some fucking empathy and not go through life hurting everyone you look at.” It wasn’t totally fair, considering Dean didn’t know why Declan was so upset about him seeing Jade, but Dec was so over Dean’s bad behavior. They’d been dealing with it since the two of them were four years old, and it had only gotten more and more played out with every passing year.

”Gee, Dec,” Dean replied, sounding nothing less than completely and utterly bored, ”Why don’t you tell me how you really feel?”

Declan rolled their eyes, ”Just don’t fuck anything up,” He turned too quickly to catch Dean’s icy glare, not interested in fighting with his brother at that moment. What he really wanted was to have a few drinks, maybe find someone to talk to. Everyone seemed pretty busy, though. Where was Gabriella? They wanted to check in with her, make sure she was doing okay. Declan finished that first drink quickly enough, and decided to swing by the kitchen to grab another before looking for one of their friends in earnest. They grabbed the drink, but instead of a friend, Declan found Lauren.

”Declan!” She said, as if she were an old friend he would want to catch up with, and not a demon in disguise. ”Look at you,” She said, taking in his appearance, ”Brave as ever.”

”Hi Lauren,” Declan said, his tone was measured, careful. There was no such thing as too careful when it came to Lauren. ”What can I do for you?”

”Just catching up with old friends,” She said, looping her arm through Dec’s, so she could lead them someone a bit more private to talk, ”I’ve heard the most interesting developments in some of our mutual acquaintances' lives.”

”Have you?” Declan mused, careful not to sound too interested or take too much of Lauren’s bait, though they did let her guide them off to a more desolate area in the apartment. She’d never been overly interested in them in the past, never come their way to share gossip. She wanted something. Declan didn’t know what, but he knew he wasn’t going to give it to her.

”It got me thinking of you,” Lauren said, tone sounding more wistful than anything, as if she were simply reminiscing. That couldn’t be good, ”And how you helped me back in high school. Do you remember that?”

Declan’s blood ran cold. ”Of course.” He said slowly, unsure. He hadn’t thought of helping Lauren cheat on the SATs in ages, but he knew immediately that was what she was referring to.

”Well,” She said with a sigh that Declan had no doubt was fake, ”I’ve got a great career and life now, and the whole thing’s left me feeling a little guilty, you know?”

Of course that’s what this was about. She’d gone out and gotten the life she wanted, and now she wanted to ruin his. She couldn’t report that, it may have been years later but Declan would almost certainly be kicked from his program if it came to light, and she knew it. ”Lauren,” He said slowly, trying not to give his panic away. It was hard, but giving her the pleasure of a reaction was the worst choice you could make, ”That’s not really necessary, is it? After all, we were only cheating a rigged system and-”

Lauren cut them off would a short, but blunt, sound of pure disgust, ”Declan. I’m going to report it. I thought you were more principled than that,”

”This is my life we’re talking about Lauren, my future I-”

”Oh, who gives a shit.” Declan didn’t know what to say to that, and just stared at Lauren, mouth agape and eyes wide. Lauren stared him down with an expression that reminded Declan of an angry housecat. It struck Declan that this might be more about Lauren than it was just messing with him. ”If your brother wasn’t such a low achiever, I wouldn’t have to stoop this low.”

”What did Dean-”

”He’s spreading lies is what he’s doing,” Lauren spat, reaching to put a hand on Declan’s shoulder, ”But you and I both know he won’t listen to reason. Maybe he can find you a job, though.”

Dec reached up to move Lauren’s hand and she flinched, dramatically, as if he’d ever hurt a fly. ”Lauren, you don’t have to do it.”

”No, but if you can’t talk some sense into your idiot brother, it would make me feel better.” She patted Declan’s shoulder gently, and then turned to leave.

God fucking dammit. Why’d Declan have to go off on Dean. He’d never listen now.

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Character Portrait: Erin Monaghan Character Portrait: Olivia Eriksen Character Portrait: Dean Sun
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content warnings: drug use, sexual themes, and mentions of sexual abuse.

Dean couldn’t pretend that Declan’s words hadn’t annoyed him; there was an obvious air of frustration (or was that hurt) on his face as his sibling walked away. He was trying, he really was. He wished others could see it. His entire mood had plummeted, and he’d started considering just up and leaving when he spotted Livvy. She’d always sparked something within him, though he wasn’t sure he could explain what it was if he tried. She was coming towards him, so he decided to close the space between them, casually sipping his drink.

He noticed two things once she was right in front of him: she’d definitely been drinking, and she was upset. Dean had always been pretty good at reading people, and he was even better at reading Olivia. He took a second to paste a concerned expression on his face before he spoke. Woah, hey. What’s wrong?” He knew if he played his cards right he might be able to turn this evening around for himself.

If Livvy was in a better headspace, she would’ve had more of a reaction seeing Dean leaning against the wall with a drink in his hand. She probably would’ve had some flashback of high school when she first approached him at a party. His smile lit up her world and pushed back the shadows of her home life. It was like the calm before the storm of their relationship.

If Livvy was in a better headspace, she probably also would’ve blinked in surprise as he came towards her. That familiar look of mischief in his eyes. At least, until concern replaced it. She tried her best to not seem as frantic or as desperate as she felt. She decided she’d start with: ”Lauren’s here.”

She tried not to glance towards where Lauren was likely still snickering to herself in Erin’s bedroom reading whatever gossip was being handed to her. She also tried not to turn her attention, or glare towards Camilla who invited the fire breathing bitch queen.

How did Lauren even know about her step father? Though, based on her comment, she didn’t know the full history there. But still… only a few people knew about it. Actually, the only person she remembered going into detail about it was Simon. She mentioned it vaguely to Erin and Dean, but neither would’ve told anyone… would they? Did Lauren know her step father? That would make more sense…. She was spiraling. She managed to gasp out, ”Distraction. I need a distraction.” She reached out a hand to grasp his wrist, though she tried to do it lightly to downplay her desperation. ”Do you have anything?”

Lauren was there? Dean raised an eyebrow and fought the urge to crane his neck to look for her. She was something of a weakness of his, but he knew how she got under people’s skin. She must have said something to Livvy. He nodded knowingly, an understanding expression painted across his features. He’d seek Lauren out later, assuming neither of them got kicked out of the party.

A wicked sort of grin broke out on his face when Livvy said she needed a distraction. A better person may have told her to slow down and offered to talk it out with her. Dean had seldom been accused of being a good person. He reached out to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear, tracing his finger down her jaw to her chin, applying a gentle pressure until he could look deeply into her eyes. He bit his lower lip, he loved this: being wanted- needed- that little moment of toying with someone before giving them what they needed- wanted. A guy had to get his kicks somewhere.

As if he couldn’t hold it back anymore, a bright grin spread across his face and he laughed. It was well practiced, looked natural. He wondered if Livvy would see through it, or if the distance between them that past several years would have made her forget his tells. ”Of course I do,” He said, tone warm and familiar, ”I’ve not changed that much.” He usually had something on him. More often than not now that he’d started seeing Jade, though the pills weren’t his preference. He jerked his head to the side, silently beckoning her to follow him. There weren’t an abundance of places to get some privacy here, really. There was a line at the bathroom, but he’d never let that stop him before.

”Hey, thanks,” He said to someone in line for the bathroom as he gently pushed Livvy in front of him, absolutely not subtly entering behind her while ignoring the protests from the line as he locked the door. He flashed Livvy a grin as he went digging in his pocket, pulling out a small bag with a few pills inside. ”Take your pick,” He said, handing the goods over to Olivia.

There was already heat in her face thanks to the alcohol in her system, but it flared a little hotter as Dean reached out to touch her. Their close proximity, his willingness to assist… It brought her back to those days.

If she closed her eyes, she could almost believe that they were back in the AP fine art classroom. The lights off so no one would know they were there. Only the music was different, louder compared to the jams they would play on their phone speakers, loud enough to hear, but quiet enough that no one else could. Then there was the heat, the rush, the paint. There was almost always some kind of colorful media on their skin but never on their clothes.

Heat filled her core and she found herself smiling at him. When he gestured for her to follow, she did so, sliding her hand into his so he could more easily lead her. Her pulse sped as he brought her back to the hall, put stopped at the bathroom, pushing her inside before shutting the door behind them and locking it. He dug through his pocket and pulled out a bag with different colored pills inside. She pinched a familiar light pink one between her fingers, stamped with a heart.

It was going to take some time to hit, which was a bummer, but of the bunch it was the one that would work best for what she needed it for. She popped it into her mouth with a smirk. ”Thanks, she said with a content sigh.

Dean watched her with all the intensity of a hungry tiger; his eyes only left hers to scan over her body. She looked good. Very good. ”It’s what I’m here for,” He replied. Hopefully his attempt at humor wouldn’t be lost on her. Being here, it reminded him of the way things used to be. There was no bad blood between them, just a stifling distance and the reminder of everything that they were when they were younger and more foolish.

”Hey, uh,” He started, putting on an act so he seemed a little bashful, as if this wasn’t a totally calculated move, ”It’s really good to see you again.” He reached out and let his hand graze her shoulder, then traced down her arm. He was testing the waters, seeing what she’d let him get away with. They’d always had so much chemistry, if he could just get a spark going, maybe they could ignite something here. Then this night wouldn’t be a waste.

She smiled, a little shyly herself. ”It’s good to see you too, Dean. His hand was warm on her shoulder, leaving a fiery trail down her arm. She almost hissed, but not in pain. At how good it felt. Lauren’s touch had been… short, calculated, foreign. Dean’s touch was heat, fire, and familiar. It brought to mind a painting she had done in high school she titled Passion in Paint after their first time together. It was a splash of orange, red, yellow, and black with hints of gold.

For a moment, she thought of Jade. How they were together and she shouldn’t be here. Shouldn’t be allowing this but… Dean was a big boy. He could make his own choices. Plus… what did she owe Jade anyway? She was on Gabriella’s side of that mess. She reached out a hand, lacing her fingers through his free hand and tugged him a little closer. With her other arm, the one he had run his hand down, she reached up, moving a loose strand of his hair from his forehead. A gesture she used to do often. His hair never stayed put.

Dean smirked, allowing Livvy to pull him closer, relishing in the way her hand brushed against his face when she tried to brush his hair back into place. It was all so natural. So right. He couldn’t help but think of all the times they’d snuck off during parties and found a nice quiet place to enjoy one another. There was a comfort in familiarity, and a desire that came from years of distance. Where Olivia used to be routine, now she was an old flame to be rekindled. Dean had always been good at starting fires.

He dropped his free hand to her lower back, pulling her right up against him. He paused, then, scanning her eyes for resistance, hesitation. Maybe it was better to let her make that move, then he couldn’t be accused of being too forward. ”I've missed you,” He mumbled. It wasn’t a total lie; he missed her desperately every time he saw a nice picture of her on social media. Something about not having her to call “his” anymore made the thought of her so much more tantalizing.

He readjusted the hand clasped firmly to Olivia’s, pulling her hand up to plant a gentle kiss upon it. This was all part of the fun; did she miss him? Did she think of him? Did she want him? Those were all questions he wanted answered, and he knew he could work them out of her if he worked at it a little. He was tempted to find that spot along her jaw, nibble there for a moment, but he refrained. The ball was in her court. There was no denying what he wanted out of this interaction, and he only hoped he’d read her correctly.

As he pulled her close, she was enveloped in the heat of him. She tilted her head up to meet his eyes, her long lashes fluttering slightly. This was what she had wanted from Lauren. Not… She pushed the thought away. She wasn’t going to let Lauren ruin any more of her fun. She tilted her head to the side, her hair falling back over her shoulder with the movement. ”I missed you, too, she purred. And it was true.

He was almost as constant in her life as Simon at least in high school. After they broke up and stopped being around one another, it felt like a hold had been carved into her chest for a while. Then it didn’t ache as much. Felt more like missing a finger. Odd with phantom pains, but manageable. She placed one hand on his chest, feeling the rapid beating of his heart, matching hers. ”I couldn’t even tell you how much.

One thing she loved about when they were together like this was the… tension. The pressure that would build. It was almost a game to see who would break first. ”Should I…” She bit her lower lip. She couldn’t believe these words were coming out of her mouth. ”Should I show you?”

Dean couldn’t help the smile that formed on his face- it was probably the first genuine one of the night. Olivia just got him, and she was good at throwing back whatever he tossed her way. This game they played had been a constant for almost as long as they’d known one other. Put them in a room long enough, and eventually they’d start to see if the other would crack.

There was, also, the building pressure of the people outside the bathroom door- quickly becoming restless. Dean didn’t care, but he didn’t want it to kill Livvy’s mood.

But when she asked if she should show him how she’d missed him, well, that was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. His breath caught in his chest, and before he knew it he was the one breaking, ”Oh, yes,” Then quickly, he added, ”Yes, please… If you’re so inclined.” He leaned in closer, if that were even possible, so his lips were almost brushing against her’s, ”I would love nothing more.”

Livvy could hear the people outside. She knew it was only a matter of time before Erin herself knocked down the door...but she couldn’t find it in herself to care. It was only her and Dean. There was a… voice in the very back of her mind who said this was wrong. That she shouldn’t be here with Dean. She kept that voice in the back of her mind.

She laughed a little under her breath at his acceptance. Her own breath caught as he came closer, his lips brushing hers. When he spoke she could feel his breath on her skin, smell the alcohol on his breath. She let them hover there for a few heartbeats before she broke. She couldn’t take it.

She needed him.

She closed that bit of space between them, wrapping her arms around his neck, pulling him to her and kissing him gently. Gently, of course, because though she gave in… they both knew there was more to burn. And she lit that match… by gently biting his lower lip.

Livvy kissed him, and the kindling caught. Dean kissed her back, hands resting, for a moment, on her hips, pulling her in. Sometimes it didn’t feel enough to be close, pressed together, you wanted to melt together. Couldn’t be close enough.

And he took her bait, deepening the kiss, relishing the taste of whatever she’d been drinking and the scent of her. Livvy had always smelled nice; it was a little different,a little more mature than the candy-sweet smells of her high school days, but still certainly her. It was the paint, probably, cutting through the vanilla, that he picked out as being her scent. He never could smell fresh paint without thinking of her. She was, in all, perhaps just as intoxicating as the alcohol. Dean let his hands wander as they kissed- exploring, gripping fabric, never quite digging in though. Instead, he firmly planted his hands on her backside to hoist her up onto the edge of the sink, tracing kisses from her mouth down to her jaw, slowly kissing until he’d found the right spot, then gently nipping at the skin there.

A soft sound slipped from her as he kissed her back, his hands on her hips. This close, she could smell cinnamon with something a little spicier underneath. When he took her bait and deepened their kiss, she found it wasn’t enough. She wanted more, more, more of him.

Then she was lifted, sitting on the edge of the sink. He trailed kisses from the corner of her mouth, to her jaw. Each kiss was a flame on her skin and she gasped. She ran a hand up into his hair, encouraging him until he found the spot. It was her undoing.

She closed her eyes and--with the muffled sound of the music from a different part of the house--she was brought back to that room in high school. Sitting on one of the work tables and exploring one another. Another sound slipped from her a little louder, a little more desperate. Without looking, she found herself undoing the buttons of his shirt, her fingers shaking slightly as she went.

Dean smirked against her skin, hands flitting across her body still, as if desperately trying to find purchase. He broke contact with her as she went to unbutton his shirt, taking half a step back to undo the buttons himself, and casting the shirt aside. ”This one too?” He asked, almost teasingly, as he lifted his white undershirt up and over his head.

It was almost incredible, really, the way the body remembers all the little things. A nip at the neck, a hand at just the right part of the thigh, that sloppy way you kiss when you’ve gone past the point of caring about neatness.

Dean let his hands rest on Livvy’s waist for a moment, pulling her closer to him again, then reached to tug at Livvy’s top. They could remove it if they decided, but for the moment he would be happy just tugging it down and out of the way.

Never in her life had Livvy been happier that high-low skirts were a thing as his hand trailed up her thighs, pushing back the fabric. They were warm and rough from his time in the kitchens. She reached as he pulled away but stopped once she realized what he was doing. She bit her lip as he removed his shirts exposing the slight muscle hidden beneath them. Then he was on her again, their kisses more heated, their touches hungrier.

His hands were on her waist, his thumbs reaching the tender skin beneath her breasts and at first, she hadn’t noticed. At first, it hadn’t bothered her. But then… No one wants you, his voice echoed in her mind. No one, but me. Then it wasn’t Dean’s hands but her step father’s. Gripping her, holding her to him, touching her…

She pushed Dean backwards. Hard. Her breaths came quickly and were shallow like she couldn’t get enough air fast enough. It took a moment to register what she had done. ”Sorry, I-” She started to say, a hand going to her waist. She was going to be sick.

She pushed from the sink, legs giving out beneath her causing her knees to smack into the floor, but she made it just in time. Her eyes burned, body trembling as she retched. She was dizzy, she was panicked, she was embarrassed, she was numb, she was overstimulated… it was all too much.

Dean was taken aback by being pushed; he hadn’t expected it, and narrowly avoided falling back himself. He caught himself, but that didn’t stop his head from hitting the wall off the small New York bathroom behind him. Irritation and embarrassment flared up in his chest, but Olivia was apologizing, and she quickly bolted to the toilet.

Then an awkwardness hung on Dean’s shoulders like a weight, pulling him down to the bottom of some unknown emotional harbor. He wasn’t sure what to do, so he squatted down close to Livvy and put a tentative hand on her shoulder. He hated vulnerability, never knew what to do with it. ”Hey,” He said, more mumbling than actually speaking, ”It's okay.” He questioned if he should do more, like try to hold her hair back or something, but if he were being honest he was a little grossed out by the vomiting, so instead he awkwardly patted her back for a moment before deciding to get his t-shirt back on. Maybe she’d had more to drink that he’d thought, or the drugs and the alcohol were a bad combination.

She came up for air, a cold sweat on her brow. She couldn’t look at him. She didn’t want to see the face he was making. She could only imagine disgust, pity, worry… She wanted to have a good time. To not let Lauren affect her and she failed. ”Sorry,” She said, barely more than a whisper. ”Lauren just,” She ran a hand through her hair, pulling it back from her face as the room spun around her, ”Got into my head. He got back into my head.” She shuddered as a wave threatened to rise. ”Just… sorry.”

When Livvy mentioned Lauren getting into her head, it all clicked. Anger flared in his mind: of course it was because of Lauren. She’d said as much before, but Dean hadn’t thought it was like that. ”Don’t apologize for that,” He said, shaking out how button up and draping it over Olivia’s shoulders. It wasn’t much, but it was a layer to hide under until she felt safe again, ”Don't even apologize for that.”

But this wasn’t something he was equipped to deal with, nor did he think his presence would be particularly comforting. And he didn’t want to be the person doing this part, if he were being honest. He sighed, running a hand roughly through his hair. ”Stay put,” It was a command, not a request. He slipped out of the bathroom, shooting a sharp look at the impatient souls waiting just outside the door, ”Be patient.”, made a beeline to the kitchen to grab a bottle of water, and went to look for someone that might be better at helping Livvy through this than he would be. Almost anyone would be a better option, really, but he ran into Erin first. ”Hey,” He interjected, not really caring if he was interrupting something, then he leaned in close to whisper, ”Livvy’s having a breakdown in the bathroom,” He passed the water to Erin, intending for her to take it to Livvy; he knew she didn’t like him, but he also knew she’d take care of Livvy. ”Lauren said something to her. I think about her stepdad.” He was sure that would be enough.

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Character Portrait: Erin Monaghan Character Portrait: Olivia Eriksen Character Portrait: Dean Sun
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Olivia Eriksen
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The Artist | Attire | #F1D03A
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Erin Monaghan
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The Bartender | Attire | hex:#800000
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Livvy barely registered his words but felt his button down go around her. Cinnamon filled her nostrils and she found it actually helped. She reached up to flush, but didn’t trust the strength of her legs enough to stand up. Instead, she pushed herself backwards, scooting on her butt until she reached the wall behind her. Her head still swam whether from panic or the alcohol, she wasn’t sure. She knew it wasn’t the drugs though. Those wouldn’t have had enough time to dissolve into her system. A shame really… she had been looking forward to the high.

She curled into a ball, her arms on her knees and her forehead resting on her arms. She closed her eyes and let the smell of Cinnamon ground her here. She would need to thank Dean for his shirt when she saw him next. Knowing him, he likely wouldn’t be back. He wasn’t good with this sort of thing. It was part of why they didn’t work. There was so much fire between them, but when the high ended and she needed tenderness… there wasn’t often much of it to share with her. Though… the glimpses of it, when he really tried, those memories she still savored. Maybe he was a good match for Jade. Tenderness didn’t seem to be her thing either from what Gabriella had told her.

She felt the shirt sliding back, exposing her shoulders and made her shiver. She slid the shirt on instead and savored the warmth. Placing her head back on her forearms, she sat, waiting.

Time passed without Livvy noticing until there was someone talking to her. Someone was in front of her. She lifted her head and found a familiar pair of hazel eyes. Erin.

Erin had made her way towards the hallway that led to the bathroom and bedrooms, after Dean had found her and informed her of what happened. God dammit...That fucking bitch-, Erin thought to herself as her eyes were anchored ahead of her. She needed to go check up on Livvy. That was where her priorities were, and always had been. Checking up on those who needed help, before succumbing to her own emotions. After she made it past the crowds of people and into that small hallway, Erin passed by a few stragglers before standing in front of the bathroom door. At first she gave a gentle knock to alert her presence, and then called out softly to see if she was allowed in.

Assuming the music must have drowned her voice out, Erin took a deep breath, cleared her throat and slowly opened the bathroom door, quickly slipping inside as she closed the door behind her. In front of her was Livvy, curled up in the corner. Erin's chest immediately tightened as she could feel her blood begin to boil. Lauren would get what's coming to her later, she reminded herself. Even though it wasn't said with words, Erin could tell by how Dean acted, it was enough. Plus, with what Erin knew about Livvy’s past, it was enough for her to piece together.

Carefully, Erin made her way over to Livvy, slowly crouching down in front of her, "Dean uhm...Dean found me and..." Erin paused for a moment, taking another heavy breath before she repositioned herself, so that she was sitting next to her friend this time; but giving her enough space. She knew what kind of state Olivia was in, and the last thing she needed to do was make it even worse than it already was.
With a gentle and soft voice she spoke back up again, "...He just said I needed to come check up on you..." Erin side eyed her friend for a moment, "If...If you don't wanna go into detail, you don't have you...But I am here for you, okay? And...You're safe, I promise." Erin gave her friend a small, but genuine smile as she spoke. Erin meant it all, she wouldn't pry if Livvy didn't want her to, and she sure as hell wasn't going to let anything else happen to her or anyone else tonight if she could help it.

Livvy blinked a few times, coming back to herself and the situation she found herself in. ”Oh I…” She looked around, realizing she was still in the bathroom and amazed that no one else had come to drag her from the room. What with the line that she assumed was still outside. How much time had passed. ”Dean. Right.” She remembered what they were doing before… what happened and she felt heat creep into her face.

”Uh… Lauren.” She ran a hand through her hair, frustrated by how difficult it was to form words, how slow they were. ”My- He’s back.” She hoped, based on her state, Erin would know who she was talking about. She tapped on her temple. ”In here.” She wrapped her arms around herself again. ”Messed me up.”

Erin sat there patiently with her back up against the wall as silence filled the room. She had anticipated waiting forever if that's what it took. She had promised Livvy she'd be safe, and she'd wait for god knows how long it would take for her friend to be okay. So Erin was a bit surprised when Livvy already spoke up after a few minutes. Staggering to explain what happened.

But considering from the look on her face alone, Erin had pretty much figured what happened. Her own chest tightened as some of her own memories from a past abusive relationship of her own came back. Erin hadn't ever really told anyone about it, other than Soren. But that was only because he ended up driving to the emergency room after Erin called him and explained how she fucked up and did something stupid. Jaimie got in her head time and time again. And all it took was one final push and she nearly went over the edge and it almost cost Erin her life.

Silence had fallen over the room again for a moment. Erin tried thinking of something to say. Anything at all to keep Livvy from feeling like she shouldn't have mentioned it. Erin swallowed hard before she looked back over at her friend, "I Uhm...I never really told anyone but...Well..Soren knew but, only because I did something stupid." there was a small chuckle to Erin's voice. More so out of awkwardness than finding the subject matter funny. "I don't know if you remember him but...Jaimie? Jaimie Blackburn?" Erin took a deep breath, her hands shook for a moment before she fumbled with them in her lap as she continued, "Turned out he was a major dick...I just didn't realize until I was too deep in some shit and...I dunno. I guess I'm just trying to say that I know that some men can be complete and utter shit. And I'm sorry you had to deal with all of that..." Erin vaguely gestured at nothing as she spoke.

Erin took another deep breath, "I guess...I just know what it's like to...To have someone else's voice and words echo in your head. Sure they're gone but...the trauma they caused isn't. It's still gonna fucking hurt and creep up on you when you least expect it." Erin took a moment to look back at Livvy, gauging how she was doing. "But what they did...what he did to you, and what Jaimie did to me...It wasn't either of our faults. Those damn pesky voices will always try telling us the opposite but, no one deserves to be treated like shit. Especially by people who should love them..." Erin lifted her hand for a moment, wanting to give Livvy a hug, but stopped herself short. "You just gotta remind yourself, that he can't hurt you anymore. And that you are one hell of a badass bitch, no matter what anyone else says." she flashed Liv a small, gentle smile before looking back out at the rest of the bathroom. Her head leaning back against the cold stone tile that adorned the bathroom walls.

Livvy listened intently, nodding as Erin shared her story. She vaguely remembered Jaimie Blackburn. She tried to remember her first impression of him, but everything was fuzzy. Coming back into focus slowly like a polaroid. Only, she was sure if she started shaking herself like one of those pictures, Erin would have an aneurism. But maybe they’d both laugh and chase the shadows of their pasts away together like they usually did. Though, Livvy didn’t feel like she could remember laughter right now so maybe not.

She reached out, gently touching Erin’s hand, pausing once she made contact with her skin and then slowly placed her hand into her friend’s. She was trying to comfort her friend without words, though she wasn’t entirely certain it worked.

She felt moisture in her eyes as she listened to Erin talk about how she was a badass bitch and everything. A part of her wanted to laugh because it was such an Erin thing to say. She watched Erin’s arm come up, hesitantly, but it didn’t come down around her like she had expected. She scooted a little closer to her and laid her head on her shoulder. It seemed everything was coming back to the way things smelled. Wine on Lauren’s breath, cinnamon on Dean’s shirt, and the smell of jasmine and leather from Erin. Two of those things were familiar and comforting. She found herself closing her eyes, feeling like she could sleep for days. ”Dean ok?” She found herself asking. Though she was sure Erin was going to say something like ”The big baby is fine. Don’t worry about him.” She wasn’t a fan of him. Then she said, ”You ok?” Mostly referring to what had happened to her years back and not finding Livvy the way she was.

A small smile had formed on Erin's face when she felt Liv's hand intertwine with her's. That was the only confirmation she needed to know that Liv was doing better, relaxing into the contact as Livvy placed her head on Erin's shoulder. There were a few more minutes of silence until Erin heard her ask about Dean, and then herself. A small smirk formed on Erin's face again, "Dean? Yeah. He was in a rush, bit anxious but...He'll be fine." Erin gave a small nod for a moment.

Erin gave a small shrug of her shoulders, "I dunno…" she answered softly, knowing exactly what Livvy was implying. "I'm doing better, I guess? I...I don't really know how to explain it." Erin gave a brief shrug, before looking back over at Liv, "But how are you doing..?" a genuine look of concern was etched across Erin's face, as well as a certain tone in her voice was clearly showing she was worried about Liv.

Livvy thought for a moment then said, ”Don’t know.” It wasn’t that she wasn’t ok. It had been the first attack in a long time and she was drunk. It heightened some things and dulled others. So she gave her own shrug justling her friend a little with the movement since she was leaning on her. She gave Erin’s hand a reassuring squeeze and added, ”Will be.”

She sat in silence for a moment, eyes closed and just… being present. She remembered when they used to do this in high school after long days. It was one of the only times Erin ever really sat still. It was hard to get her to do that when she was using her as a model for one of her art pieces. But when one of them was struggling they would just…sit. Usually by an open window or door to the outside for a nice breeze. And then life would catch up again and they would be moving.

”We should go.” she said, hearing the crowd on the other side of the door get even roudier. ”You’ll lose the door.”

Erin gave a small nod when Livvy said she wasn't but, but that she would be, and that's all Erin could ask for. As long as Livvy would be okay, that's what was important. She gently nudged Liv back in return, with a small wink added in. The two sat in silence for a moment, just letting life happen for a moment. It was small moments like this that Erin missed. When she could just be, without any everyday life stresses and concerns. The calm before the storm.

It was only when Livvy said that they should get going, that Erin opened her own eyes. Nodding slowly, "Yeah well, they do that, they'll owe me a new fucking door." she quipped back with a small chuckle. After a moment, Erin realized what kind of shape Livvy truly was in. She'd have a hard time walking, and Erin sure as hell wasn't going to make her try. Not after the bullshit she just went through. Slowly getting to her feet, Erin turned back to face Liv. Gently crouching down in front of the blond, "Alright...This is gonna be a bit weird but, I'm gonna have to carry you, okay?" she asked with raised eyebrows, looking over her shoulder for a moment. "I don't wanna sound like a jackass but, right now? You'd be like a newborn fawn on a hardwood floor..."

Livvy couldn’t help but smile. And she definitely couldn’t argue. She wouldn’t trust her legs either right now. So, uncurling herself even further, she reached out to wrap her arms around Erin’s neck, careful not to hold too tightly. Then she slid forward so her chest was flush against Erin’s back. When she was ready she said, ”Ok.”

Erin patiently watched as Livvy slowly got to her feet as well as she could, offering some assistance if she needed any. Erin had turned around to offer her back, it was unconventional yes, but it'd be the easiest way of carrying Livvy without making things too awkward. Last thing they'd need is people getting the wrong idea, even if they did, so what. it was none of their concern. Erin waited and kept herself grounded firmly as she felt Livvy wrap her arms around Erin's neck, Erin nodded and carefully looped her arms around Livvy's legs to help support her, and held on a bit tight as she slowly rose to her full height. Turning her head slightly to look at Liv, "You doing alright back there, Spider-Monkey?" she offered with a grin. This oddly reminded Erin of the time back in highschool when Liv messed up her ankle and needed to be carried. They did the exact thing back then, and got plenty of odd looks then, doubt it'd be any different this time. Oh well, people could mind their damned business.

Livvy’s response was a swift peck on Erin’s cheek as she turned her face towards her. Well as much as she could with Livvy being on her back. ”Thanks.” Then she settled against Erin’s back feeling safe and cared for and for the first time that day she thought, Fuck you, Eustis. I am wanted, but people who aren’t selfish disgusting shit lords like you. She closed her eyes, letting her hair cover her face so she wouldn’t be seen. She didn’t care if the people she cared about saw her like this but a whole crowd made her feel panicked.

Erin couldn't help but blush ever so slightly when she felt Livvy plant a small kiss on her cheek. Clearing her throat, Erin took a deep breath, "Don't mention it. For you? You know I'd do just about anything, so...No need to thank me, hun." she said with a small smile before turning back to face the bathroom door. "Alright fuckers.." she muttered, before opening the door. There was a group of at least six people waiting outside in the hallway, all of which gave the two an odd look. "Yeah well mind your fucking business, alright? Or fuck off." she bit back.

Hearing Erin telling the horde outside the bathroom to fuck off, Livvy bit her lip, hiding the beginnings of a smile. She brushed her thumb against where Erin’s skin was at her neck in approval. A sign she was becoming herself again.

At the sudden sensation on the back of her neck, Erin immediately straightened up some, clearing her throat once more. God dammit..., she thought to herself. Just like that, Liv managed to get back into her head, of course she did. She always did. But now wasn't the time for that. Erin was brought back to reality when she caught sight of motion in front of her.

The group made way for Erin, who gave them a small nod and began to make her way out from the hallway and into the main room. Looking for a place for Livvy to sit, allow herself to breathe again and be left the fuck alone. There was the den, but it seemed busy with people still playing pool and the other games available. Her eyes scanned the room, before landing on one of the couches, thankfully they were entirely unoccupied. Erin passed through the mass of dancing folk, and people who were standing and talking.

Managing to sidestep and walk around others, even with Livvy still on her back, Erin managed to finesse her way through the crowd. Ignoring the looks she received. It was only when they finally arrived to the couch, that Erin finally turned back around and let Livvy down. When she felt her grip loosen and finally slip away, Erin turned back on her heels. Giving the blond a small wink, "I'm gonna get you some water and, you just sit tight, okay?" Erin quickly disappeared for barely a minute, quickly returning with an unopened bottle of water. She took a seat next to Livvy for a moment, opening the bottle of water and finally handing it to her, "That should help." she said with a small smile. Looking around the room for a moment, looking back at Livvy, "You sure you're going to be okay? I don't...I don't wanna leave you alone if you're not feeling entirely fine to be on your own.." the look on her face was genuine and sympathetic, and she'd be damned if anything else happened to Liv during this party. Or Erin would actually throw hands with someone.

Once Erin stopped moving, Livvy could sense a large, comfy object behind her and with about as much grace as a belly flop diver, she released herself from Erin’s back and dropped onto the cushions. She pushed herself back until she was leaning against the back of the couch and waited for Erin to return with the bottle of water. When she did, she gladly took it from her, savoring the cold beneath her finger tips before she downed almost the whole thing. When Erin asked her if she was going to be ok if left alone, she nearly found herself asking Erin to stay… But this was her party. There were people to see and things to do. She couldn’t hog her friend all night so instead, she gave her another peck on the cheek and said, ”I’ll be fine. Thanks to you.” Then she nudged her friend on the arm and said, ”Go. I’m sure Evie would like another dance.” Just like in high school when their period of stillness was over, life was calling them back.

Erin gave a small nod when Livvy said she could go, and how she'd be fine. But Erin knew enough that she was simply saying it put her mind at ease. A small chuckle escaped her lips, "Oh please. Like anyone in their right mind would want to dance with me again. Cuz I totally know how to dance." she mused. With a small shake of her head, Erin sighed. Looking back at Liv, she gave the blond a small smile and leaned down.

Gently placing a gentle kiss on her forehead before pulling back away. "I'll come check up on you in just a bit, okay? You're priority number one." Erin said as she gently squeezed Liv's hand before turning back out to face the crowd. She had far too many things to keep track of, and attend to. And god damn if she knew what she was going to get out of the way first.




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Character Portrait: Lauren Clark Character Portrait: Dean Sun
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This party was bogus. Dean wasn’t having nearly enough fun for this to have even been worth attending. So he was slinking around, talking to people, drinking, you know how it goes. He didn’t really feel like he was super wanted here, and he considered leaving, but then he caught a glimpse of someone he just had to speak with across the room.

So he made a beeline for Lauren, cutting her off with a hand firmly planted to the wall near her. Hopefully she wouldn’t try to worm her way past him. “Laur,” He said, with nothing but love and friendly adoration in his voice, “I didn’t expect to see you here. You look great. Having fun?” He, of course, wasn’t really that interested in how much fun she was having at the party. If there was one thing Dean knew about Lauren, it was that she was certainly enjoying herself if she could get under someone’s skin.

“How’re things going with Soren?” He asked (before she could finish telling him all about how she was ruining people’s lives), with a bit more venom in his tone than strictly necessary.

Lauren had known that Dean was somewhere around, but truth be told, she hadn’t really cared enough to go find him just yet. She wasn’t quite that bored just yet. She made no attempt to escape him when he arrived in front of her, however, simply managed a smile.

“Dean, wonderful to see you. And speak for yourself, it’s such a nice change to see you all dressed up,” she said, matching the warmth in his tone. She decided to dodge the question about whether or not she was having fun; but evidently, Dean didn’t really care about that either.

At the mention of Soren, she dropped her nice act, rolling her eyes and scoffing. “He’s still up on his high horse, thinks that he’s too good for me now. So, I’m just gonna have to drag him back down. Time for the internet to find out he’s hooked on painkillers and god knows what else,” she said, phrasing the last part with over dramatic fake shock. “You might want to warn that brother of yours. If he gets involved with Soren, he’ll probably have to endure begging for prescriptions for oxy and morphine.” She phrases it as though it’s legitimate advice for a genuine risk, and not just the beginning of the smear campaign against her ex.

“He is too good for you,” Dean offered, simply. “You should give it up.” That was something he’d been telling Lauren for a while. Not that she wasn’t good enough for Soren, but that it was a waste of her time. He’d moved on, would want nothing to do with her now. She couldn’t bully her way back into someone’s heart, try as she might. Dean would know.

Dean shrugged, “I’m not worried about Declan. They make good decisions.” This was, of course, completely ignoring the years of work Dean had put into driving a wedge between Soren and Dec. That was for purely selfish reasons, completely separate from Declan’s ability to choose a suitable partner.

“Actually, Lauren, I was thinking that it’s high time you moved on to someone else.” He, of course, meant himself, “And I think I can convince you.”

Lauren just rolled her eyes as Dean told her, yet again, to give up on Soren. He was probably right, of course, but Lauren hated admitting defeat. His comment about Declan, however, took her slightly more by surprise. She had heard about Dean’s attempts to keep Soren away from Declan, and by all accounts, he’d made it his life goal to make sure nothing ever happened. So when he ignored the information she’d given him, information that could keep Declan away for a while, if not for good, she was surprised.

That was, until he changed the subject. Of course that was what was on his mind. She laughed, raising an eyebrow. “Oh, really?” She asked. “How do you intend on doing that?” She took a step towards him as he spoke, as if to playfully challenge him.

Dean shrugged, feigning indifference. “A little birdy told me that you’ve been siphoning money from daddy’s business accounts for yourself.” That “little birdy” had been Dean, snooping around Lauren’s apartment the last time he’d been over. He really was just trying to see if she had anything laying around that she wouldn’t miss that he could sell for a bit of cash, but this had been a real find.

“As it stands, my morals tell me I simply have to let your father know. But a dutiful boyfriend may be convinced to keep your little secret,” It was only partially about the money he might be able to get his hands on if they were together. Something about Lauren was electric, captivating. He couldn’t let go of her. “Provided, of course, he gets to benefit from it as well.”

Lauren had been expecting him to flirt with her, perhaps make a move, and she had intended on letting him do so. She had to give him a little something every now and then to keep him hanging on. But what he actually said took Lauren aback. It was exactly the game she’d been playing with everyone else all evening, and she hadn’t expected to have it turned back on herself.

For a moment, she considered telling Dean exactly where to go and turning the little favour that Declan had done for her back on Dean. And then she realised that she could use him. She needed an accomplice, and if it meant sharing some of her funds, so be it. Besides, there was something oddly attractive about the manner in which he’d managed to turn her own tactics against her.

“You drive a hard bargain, Mr Sun,” she said. “How could I refuse?” She added, as if all he had done was flirt with her, and not threaten to expose her to her parents and ruin all of her carefully orchestrated plans.

Dean had been expecting Lauren to fight him more than she had. A part of him had to wonder what she had up her sleeve for him, or how quickly she would grow bored of him and move on. Either way, he’d won for now, and he would always have that blackmail to fall back on if he needed it.

He smirked, and leaned in to plant a quick, chaste kiss on her lips. “Of course, I expect a nice instagram post about the relationship soon enough. I won’t be satisfied being hidden away in the background.” He was hoping this would force Lauren to give up the Soren thing. She would probably still expose all his dirty secrets. Dean didn’t give a shit. He just wanted her to focus on him.

Lauren grinned, making it appear as though she was just delighted to be dating the man who was actually trying to blackmail her, and not that she was relieved to finally have somebody to rope in on all of her plans. She’d been wondering how to pull it off, and Dean had just handed her that opportunity. Maybe they’d even be able to use Declan as well.

At his comment about Instagram, she laughed. “Of course, darling, I would never hide you away.” She pulled him in for another kiss, but this time also pulled out her phone and snapped a picture of them kissing. “This will do nicely,” she said. Posting it would probably break Jade’s heart, and that just made Lauren all the more delighted with her plan. “I’ll be sure to post it later with a suitably sappy caption.”

Dean craned his neck to look at the picture, “Perfect. you got my good side.” He grinned, genuinely not having felt quite this elated since… He didn’t know when.

“Lauren,” He started, voice encompassing a tenderness not many have ever heard from him, “I want you to know how-“ He stopped abruptly, having spotted something out of the corner of his eye that made his blood run cold. He turned slightly, to get a better look, and all his fears were confirmed. Fucking Soren was talking to his brother again.

“Hey,” He said, sounding already like he was a million miles away, “I’m gonna have to hold that thought. I’ll find you later.” He reached out and gave Lauren’s hand a squeeze before going to intervene in what could possibly be the worst thing that could happen tonight.

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Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Dean Sun Character Portrait: Declan Sun
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dean sun.
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“I-” Soren tried to say something to Robyn, but she was gone before he could say anything. He sighed, running a hand through his hair and draining what was left of his drink. Lauren really was being extraordinarily awful to everyone, it seemed, and he could only wonder what the hell she actually wanted from them, or if she had just come to prove that she still could ruin everyone’s lives. And if it was the latter, well then, she was doing a fantastic job of that.

He headed towards the kitchen with the intention of getting another drink; but stopped as he spotted a familiar figure. He hadn’t gotten a chance to talk to Declan at all yet. And what was better was that Dean didn’t seem to be anywhere in sight. So instead, he changed course, heading towards Declan.

“Hey,” Soren said. “Long time, no see.”

Declan was still a little shaken up about their interaction with Lauren, and he jumped when he heard Soren’s voice. He’d been so in his own head, he hadn’t even heard Soren coming.

“Oh, god,” They mumbled, “Hi. Wow. Sorry,” A chuckle, awkward as could be, and then they cleared their throat, “I didn’t- I was deep in thought there.” Declan smiled, then, put the thought of what Lauren had said to the back of his mind. “It has been a long time. Too long.” They punctuated the statement with a smile- soft but genuine. The two had kept in touch via social media, but their busy schedules made it hard for them to meet in person, even on the rare occasion that Soren was back in town.

“Thanks for inviting me tonight,” He said, taking a half step closer to Soren, “It’s been really nice to get out, do something social for a change.”

Soren laughs a little at Declan’s admission to being lost in thought. He was more than used to that after this long. He returned the smile as Declan stressed that it had been too long. It really had. When you were only in the city for a handful of days at a time, and you knew you’d probably end up spending half of those days asleep, it made it hard to make plans. They’d tried, of course, but it had never worked out.

Soren leaned one shoulder against the wall beside them, shaking his head with a smile as Declan said it was nice to be social. “Glad to help. You know I’m always happy to provide a distraction,” he said, with a wry smile. “So, they’re still working you far too hard in that hospital then?” He asked teasingly.

Declan nodded, weariness showing very clearly on their face. “Working hard with no end in sight. You have to get used to it at some point,” He smiled, nothing but genuine gladness and fatigue. He wasn’t bitter about the work he was doing, this was the life he’d chosen, and he was just happy he had the chance to chase it.

“How’d the last tour go?” Declan asked, slowly back to be a bit more out of the way. Maybe find a rare space with some seclusion. Soren was such a busy man, it was hard to get his attention all to himself, even when he wasn’t touring or working on albums.

This small talk, catching up, there was always a lot of it when Declan came back in contact with someone. Their back and forth always went about the same. “It’s been so long.” “It really has,” “Written any good songs lately?” “Nothing that’s ready for the world. Saved any lives lately?” “Not quite but I like to think I’m learning how.”

Declan bit their lower lip, a thoughtful little nibble that gave away the gears turning in his mind. “How long are you in town for?” Maybe, just maybe, if they actually had the time, they could have a proper… Date? Outing? What would they even call it? He wasn’t sure.

Soren recognised the tiredness in Dec’s expression. It wasn’t just from a rough shift or even a rough week, but constant ongoing exhaustion; and an exhaustion that you didn’t care about, because you were doing what you loved. It was hard not to smile a little at Dec’s clear passion for what they did.

Soren caught Declan’s slight movement backwards, and he mimicked it, pushing off the wall and taking a few steps towards the quiet and the relative privacy of the hallway. “It was good. Absolutely exhausting, I slept for a few days straight when I got back,” he said with a laugh. “But good to finish on a high note at least.”

He raised an eyebrow as a thoughtful expression crossed Declan’s face, wondering what they were thinking about. At their question, Soren smiled. “Back for a while. A couple of months at least. So… we might finally be able to make it out for those drinks we kept talking about?” Soren asked.

Dec nodded along to Soren’s sentiment about ending on a high note. That was always the goal, probably. Touring couldn’t be easy; always on the road, never getting any meaningful rest. He could understand some of that.

Declan couldn’t hide the way their eyes lit up when Soren said he’d be in town for a while, this time. They nodded enthusiastically, said, “Absolutely,” And reached into their far-too-small-to-be-practical pocket for their phone. Immediately, Declan was sorting through his calendar, trying to figure out the most opportune time. “Sorry,” He smiled, almost sheepishly, “Busy, you know?” He got a text from Gabriella, and swiped it away. He’d check it in a minute. “How busy are you while you’re here?” Dec’s brows knit together, thinking about logistics and plotting out the best possible time.

Declan’s reaction made Soren smile, a reflex reaction he barely noticed. He didn’t even mind as they pulled out their phone, laughing a little at Declan’s explanation. “I get it.” At the question of how busy he was, he shrugged. “Not busy at all. I’ve got at least a month of zero commitments, so I’m flexible. Whenever works for you.” he said.

It felt like he and Declan were caught in an eternal state of “almost, but not quite,” and had been for a while, so the fact that they might actually be able to have plans they could both keep felt strange in a very good way. Part of Soren was trying to stay grounded, reminding himself that with Declan’s schedule, things could change at the last moment, while the other part was revelling in the delight of finally being able to make plans.

Declan nodded sagely, fighting the urge to pump their fist in victory. This was perfect. They could make real plans, Dec could insist on keeping them this time. He kept looking for dates. Maybe next Thursday. That wasn’t a weird day to meet for drinks, was it? Maybe the next Friday. That could work. “What do you think about-” But they couldn’t finish the thought before a familiar arm draped itself around their shoulder.

“What’s up, you two?” Dean. How was it he always materialized in moments like these?

“Dean, do you mind?”

“Not at all, big brother.” Dean smiled, as if to emphasise that he wasn’t going anywhere. Declan sighed, then Dean looked right at Soren and said, “Hey. Nice party. Didn’t expect to see Lauren here.”

Declan didn’t know what Dean’s angle was on this one, so he shot Soren an apologetic look. They’d continue their conversation as soon as Dean got bored and went away.

Soren had to bite back a curse as Dean materialised, seemingly from nowhere. Every. Goddamn. Time. He’d learned the hard way that telling Dean where he could shove it usually only made things worse, so the easiest thing to do was to just be nice and hoped he went away soon. He never did, though.

“Dean. Lovely to see you, as always,” Soren said, with zero effort at hiding his true feelings. “Neither did I, given she certainly wasn’t invited. Some people just have a knack of showing up where they’re not wanted, don’t they?” He said, raising an eyebrow. He returned Declan’s apologetic look with one of understanding. Soren would be damned if he let Dean’s interference ruin their almost-plans.

Dean nodded, a glimpse of something resembling relief glinting in his eye, “Some folks just can’t take a hint.” He shot Soren a knowing look, “Can they?”

The two had had many fights over the years, mostly about Soren and Declan’s relationship. Dean hated it, didn’t want the two of them to be close in any way, not as friends, certainly not as lovers. It had been suggested that Dean didn’t like how everyone he cared about liked Soren more than they liked him. That was silly. Declan just deserved better, was all.

“What do you want, Dean?” Declan interjected, and to Dean’s credit, he did a very convincing job of looking offended.

“Can’t a man want to spend some time with his only sibling?”

“You can spend time with me any day,”

“False. You’re so busy, this may very well be my only chance for weeks.”

Declan sighed, “Okay. Fine.”

Dean grinned, “Perfect. Have you had some of that strawberry stuff? It’s super fruity, you’d love it. Maybe Soren can fetch you some.”

Soren met Dean’s knowing look with one of scorn, still managing to bite his tongue for now. God, he wished that he and Erin had decided against inviting him now. He probably would have still shown up, but at least Soren would have had more authority to tell him to fuck off then.

The banter between the two siblings was borderline entertaining, even if Declan was the one to back down, as he usually was. Dean’s attempt to get rid of Soren was unoriginal and not even a terribly good one. Soren shrugged. “Sorry, have no idea what one you mean,” he said. “Erin sorted the drinks, and I haven’t come across that yet. Tell you what, seeing as you know what you’re looking for, how about you go get the drinks, and me and Dec can finish our conversation?” He asked, his tone perhaps overly cheery.

Dean clicked his tongue, as if he was very disappointed in what he was about to say, “Oh, Sor,” He said, emphasizing the nickname, as he knew they weren’t anywhere near close enough for Dean to feel so comfortable being familiar with the other man, “You know I’d love to, but I really do need to have a word with my brother.”

“It can wait, Dean.” Declan insisted.

“It really can’t, Dec.”

“Yes. It can. Anything you have to say to me can wait, or you can say it to both of us.”

Dean shot a look at Soren, considering his options. “I suppose it’ll have to wait, then.” Dean shot Soren a dirty look, as if to say ”You win this time.”

“I have something I need to talk to you about, too,” Declan said, a bit of panic working its way into his voice, despite how he tried to quell it, “I’ll find you later.”

Dean raised an eyebrow. Something resembling genuine concern crossed his face, “Is everything okay, Declan?” He said, voice low enough that nobody besides the three of them would hope to pick it up.

Declan nodded, “I’m fine. Go away.” But Dean made no move to actually leave, which didn’t surprise Declan in the least.

Soren was sure that his eye twitched as Dean called him Sor. It wasn’t that he disliked the nickname; just about everyone he was friends with used it at some point or another. But the emphasis on that point was friends. The familiarity with which Dean used it was grating and deliberate.

As a result, Declan’s triumph over his brother felt all the sweeter. Soren’s smile was triumphant and vaguely smug. So often, Dean did get the upper hand, with Soren often conceding defeat for Declan’s sake. It wasn’t fair that he got caught in arguments so much, but it also wasn’t fair that Dean started them so much.

It was the panic in Declan’s voice that cut through the delight of triumph. Soren looked at him, looked back at Dean and Dean’s reaction, and bit back a sigh. This was something that probably was just between the two brothers. It still counted as a triumph, he told himself. And then he pulled out his phone and groaned, perhaps a tad overdramatically. “Shit. Just got a text from Erin, she needs me to go… help her with something.” This was a complete lie, and not a particularly good one. “I’ll… catch you up later, okay?” He told Declan, shooting him a small smile. And then he shot Dean a glare, before turning and walking away. As he did so, he texted Declan.

“Whatever time you were going to suggest, I’m down. And now you know where the apartment is if you ever want to drop by ;)”

Dean smiled and waved as Soren walked away. The Erin thing was an excuse. They all knew it. But Soren’s concern for Declan won out at the end of the day. It was sweet, really. Dean turned to Declan, “What’s wrong?”

It couldn’t be summed up, really. Not easily, not by Declan. They just wanted a nice, normal night. That was, evidently, too much to ask for. “Why do you have to try to ruin my life every chance you get?”

Dean had the decency not to act surprised, but lacked the decency not to lie about what he was up to. “Dec, I swear, I’m not-“ He reached out to touch Declan’s shoulder, as if he were going to comfort his one and only brother.

“Don’t touch me!” Declan snapped, “Everything that goes wrong in my life is because of you! Can’t you see that?” They were maybe being a bit too loud. A bit too dramatic. But now two things in his life had been messed up, and Declan could trace it all back to Dean.

“Dec, I just don’t think getting involved with Soren is-“

“God,” Declan cut him off, as if Dean weren’t just trying to look out for him, “Can’t you let it go?”

“I’m trying to help you.” Dean certainly sounded like he meant it.

“That’d be a first, wouldn’t it? You wanna help me? Talk to Lauren.” Declan rolled his eyes, “No, you just go along with whatever she tells you to do, don’t you?”

“Dec, what’s wrong?”

“Just go away, Dean.”

And, this time, he did.

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Character Portrait: Gabriella Montez Character Portrait: Dean Sun
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ImageImageGabriella looked around as she walked back into the party, giving awkward stiff smiles to unfamiliar faces. She wondered if Lauren had already chased off the rest of her friends, checking her phone for any texts and seeing none. It wasn’t like any of them to disappear without warning so they had to be around here somewhere. If she could just find Declan or Robyn, maybe tonight wouldn’t be so bad. She wanted a drink but didn’t trust herself with one right now. The only way she was going to make it through tonight was by convincing herself that she had some measure of self-restraint.

Then of course there was Dean. It was like he had an innate ability to show up when Gabriella was at a breaking point. The image of Jade’s lips against his flashed in her mind, sending a shudder down her spine. It wasn’t just jealousy, though she’d be lying if she said that wasn’t a part of it. Something about it was just wrong.

“Hey.” She grabbed ahold of his shoulder, turning Dean to face her. “You seen Dec?”

Her tone was obviously annoyed, giving Dean a look that she clearly did not want to be talking to him. Truthfully she didn’t have much to say to him, it’s not like he knew any better. That’s just how he was, how he always was. Really she was just mad at herself for not seeing it coming, Jade always would find a way to fuck up every thing in Gabriella’s life.

Dean had run away from Declan with his tail between his legs. There were very few people on planet earth that made him feel vulnerable, and Declan was one of them. Why couldn’t they seem to see that he was trying? He didn’t try to hide the sullen, frustrated expression on his face as he skulked about the room. He saw Gabriella, and initially was going to let her go about her evening, but she grabbed onto his shoulder, so it would only be polite to hear her out.

He audibly sighed when she asked about Declan. Why was he all anyone cared about? ”No,” Dean lied, despite how he could easily tell Gabriella exactly where Declan was. Dean was upset with Declan, and intended not to do anything to help them or anyone looking for them, ”I haven’t seen them since we got here.”

Usually, Dean tried to at least fake a pleasant face for people, but he didn’t bother with Gabriella. He wasn’t in the mood. ”Look for Soren, he’s bound to be there making googly eyes.” Dean rolled his eyes, clearly disgusted by the very thought.

“Jesus fucking christ, don’t be a child.” Gabriella rolled her eyes, crossing her arms. “Like you’re one to talk.”

Dean shook his head, “Dec deserves someone who has time for him, and won’t drag him down with their own issues.” And who Dean didn’t so deeply and personally hate. As some sort of cover up for that all too real admission, he added “You look like shit.”

Gabriella couldn’t help but laugh. One at the idea of Dean micromanaging Dec’s love life, two at his weak jab at her appearance. She ran her hand through her hair, nodding her head in agreement with him. “You got me there, I’ll give you that.”

As annoyed as she still was with Dean, it was more like one would be with a child or a pet. You can’t really stay mad because they don’t really know better. Their friendship was rooted in encouraging one another’s worst impulses, chaos was just a byproduct of it all. Despite it all, Gabriella did believe Dean had a soft spot for others - though he had a funny way of showing it. Regardless, she wasn’t going to just let him make himself into the victim or the good guy just looking out for his brother.

“I think you need to care a little bit less about who Declan fucks, Dean.” Gabriella pointed towards Dean to emphasize her words, then clasping them together to keep herself from gesticulating wildly as she spoke. “If it doesn’t affect your life then you need to leave it be. You know, unlike you fucking my ex without telling me for god knows how long. You know, like how that could affect me - you know from like contact fucking my ex.

Dean crossed his arms as Gabriella said he needed to care less. He didn’t care, so long as it wasn’t Soren. He wouldn’t pretend to internalize her point, though. He knew she wouldn’t expect him to, either.

But when she brought up Jade, he winced, just barely, but likely enough for her to notice. ”Yeah, that…” That broke some major codes, he knew it wasn’t cool. ”She came to me, you know.” He shrugged, ”Who was I to say no?” He offered Gabriella a weak smile; he knew she’d understand it. Jade offered a lot. Well, she offered some of what he needed, anyway.

”That’s over, anyway. I’ve got… Bigger things lining up for me.” He wouldn’t apologize for what he’d done, because, really, he’d not done anything so bad that it warranted an apology. ”You can do whatever,”

“Yeah, I know that.” Gabriella’s head bobbed with each word, her smile tense. “Could have her with or without your grace, she was literally throwing herself at me earlier tonight. She was just using you to make me jealous, or mess with Lauren - or whatever fucked up shit she has planned.”

Gabriella made no attempt to censor the truth, Dean wasn’t someone who was going to get his feelings hurt - and obviously he wasn’t very invested in the relationship anyways. Still, the fact that he used her coming to him as an excuse as if that made it any better knowing damn well that’s exactly how Jade operates. He might be emotionally stunted but he wasn’t dumb.

“I don’t even care, because I don’t even want her.” Gabriella added, be it to reassure herself or Dean she wasn’t sure. “Are you going to dump her publicly though, and if yes can I film it?”

”She knows I’m just Lauren’s little pet,” He said, with a shrug. He knew it was true, and so did everyone else. There was no point in hiding it. ”You shouldn’t let her get to you. It’s all mind games around here,” He tapped his temple to drive his point forward, ”The best thing to do is learn to play along, or finally block her number like Declan keeps telling you to do.”

Dean cared about her. He did. He was shit at expressing it, but he was shit at just about anything that involved emotions.

He laughed when she asked if he was going to dump her publicly, ”We aren’t even dating. I’m just gonna text her. I’ll let you know before I do if you really wanna film her reaction though. She won’t care that much.”

Gabriella rolled her eyes again at the implication she should just block Jade. If even Dean was saying it now, what the hell did that mean? He was right about one thing at least, it was all mind games around here. Before she could just check out, playing her role of pawn very well. Dean knew how to make the game work for him, always had. As much as anyone would hate to admit it, he was smarter than he let on.

“Ugh, that’s no fun.” She pouted at the idea of him just dumping her over text. The prospect of Jade being publicly humiliated was enough to get her salivating, though Dean wouldn’t want to piss of Jade that much. He had to make sure to cover his bases and she understood that, she had to start doing the same. She thought about mentioning Lauren but figured Dean had already ran into her, then remembered his earlier statement. The gears turned in her mind, a look of realization dawning on her face as she put it together.

“So I take that to mean you already ran into Lauren?” Gabriella asked, her expression a mix of amusement and bewilderment.

Dean shrugged apologetically when Gabriella said texting Jade to break things off wasn’t any fun. If things went south with Lauren, and he knew they eventually would, he would need someone else around that could fund his bad habits. Having a rich spouse was the goal, one way or the other.

When Gabriella asked if he’d run into Lauren already, Dean tapped the side of his nose. “Dig deep enough, you’ll eventually find treasure.” He smiled, some pride showing in his face, “Don't expect wedding bells or anything. We all know it’ll end badly, but I have to leverage the dirt I’ve got while I’ve got it.”

Gabriella raised a brow, mildly impressed. Of course anyone who wanted to keep up with Lauren had to play her game but it was rare anyone got the leg up on her. The part of her that wanted to watch Lauren fail was itching for more information but she knew Dean wouldn’t hand over his leverage.

“Wouldn’t be Dean Sun if you didn’t, I guess.” She joked, shaking her head. “Pretty satisfying to know that Lauren is getting a dose of her own medicine, though.”

“I learned from the best.” Dean hadn’t spent years following Lauren around like a lost puppy for nothing. To her he was just a pawn, but he picked up a few tricks along the way.

Then it struck him that Gabriella may have had a less than excellent interaction with Lauren over the course of the evening. “I know she’s sometimes, uhh, less than pleasant but…” Dean was fond of Lauren for reasons he couldn’t really explain, and even if he could there was no way most anyone at this party would understand. He shrugged, mumbled a quick, “Oh, hold still,” As he picked some cat hair stuck to Gabriella’s top, and then said, “We all have our vices, huh?”

He winked at her, then. He knew something about the way he was living life was going to kill him one day, and it would probably be Lauren. Gabriella belatedly swatted at Dean’s hand as he picked the cat hair from her top, then batting at the fabric of her clothes when noticing other hairs had stuck to her. It didn’t matter that he was helping her, or that he had touched her many times before - even though she wouldn’t hold anything against him she was still annoyed.

“At least my vices get you high while they ruin your life.” She said absently, looking around the room once more. “I’m going to grab a drink - do you need one?” Dean snorted, as if he didn’t share some of those vices as well. He waved off her offer to get him a drink with a noncommittal grunt. He was a big boy, he could get his own when he wanted one.

”Catch you later,” He said, maybe a little too confidently. Gabriella gave him a weak wave, making her way back towards the kitchen.