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Soren Bowers

it's funny how the warning signs can feel like they're butterflies

0 · 374 views · located in New York

a character in “the way we were”, as played by partially-stars

Description



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it's funny how the warning signsx can feel like they're butterflies
graveyard - halsey
life of the party - all time low
youngblood - 5 seconds of summer
take my breath away - mayday parade
give me love - ed sheeran



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F U L LXN A M E
Soren James Bowers

N I C K N A M E (S)
Sor

B I R T H D A Y
December 11.

A G E
25.

S E X U A L I T Y
Pansexual.

E T H N I C I T Y
White American.

H O M E T O W N
Camden, Maine

H E X
#4d5676.



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S T Y L E
Soren’s style has completely changed from when he was a teenager. In his twenties, he discovered not only colour, but also patterns, and now his wardrobe is full of both. He’s mastered the art of balancing them too. When he’s not doing band stuff, he has a tendency to drift back to his old style with band t-shirts, ripped jeans, and leather jackets. He’s no stranger to makeup, mostly on stage, but has been known to wear eyeliner day to day.

H E I G H T & W E I G H T
6’1, 80kg

A P P E A R A N C E
Soren is often described as striking. There’s those ice-blue eyes which give away far too much of his emotions than he would like at times, as well as a strong bone structure. But his most distinctive feature is his smile. Big, a little lopsided at times, and entirely endearing. Growing up, Sor was always skin and bones, no matter how much he ate. But he soon discovered he couldn’t just put whatever fuel he liked into his body and hope for the best. Proper nutrition and a regular workout routine has filled out his frame, leaving him more muscular than one would expect at first glance. He’s got a number of tattoos ([right shoulder blade][right forearm][left arm below elbow][left arm near wrist]) and both of his ears are pierced several times, including an industrial and rook in his left ear.



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L I K E S
rock music - fresh air - playing shows - mountain biking - home baking - electronic music - italian food - parties - passionate people - herbal tea - fruit tea - cinnamon - acoustic shows - black nail polish - subtle aftershave - floral perfumes - converse - cello - violin - singing in empty rooms - drawing - photography - festivals

D I S L I K E S
mexican food - thunderstorms - white wine - straight spirits - greasy food - his hometown - hospitals - generic pop music - coffee - overpowering perfume - cloying aftershave - being late - being told who to be - gyms - horror movies - small towns - bigotry - hypocrisy - planes - airports - beer - identity politics - people assuming he's straight


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P E R S O N A
Soren is your typical musical frontman. It seems that he can charm a smile out of even the toughest of interviewers. His confidence is almost infectious, but Soren could never be called cocky. He’s worked hard to get here, spending his late teens and early twenties working two jobs to get the band off the ground. He never had anything handed to him, and he never wants anything to be handed to him. It’s his dream come true to be able to play music full time, and he doesn’t want to take a moment of it for granted. He knows that they wouldn't be anywhere without the people who buy their album, who show up to their shows. He remembers when he was that angry kid who went to every show he could. And so he has all the time in the world for people who hang back after concerts in the hope of saying hi or thank you or who wants a selfie. His manager or other bandmates have had to drag him away on a number of occasions when they needed to leave to make sure they were in their next city in time.

But Soren hasn’t always been like this. He almost threw it all away and almost burned himself out after his break-up with Lauren when he became so angry and hurt that taking care of himself wasn’t his priority. If he’s stressed or angry, he becomes destructive. Usually, it’s self-directed, but after the breakup, he cut himself off from lifelong friendships over the smallest of things. He's gotten better at dealing with it, but he doesn't always realise he's done it and the damage has sometimes been done before he can get himself back on track. His self-destruction often gets the better of him. He can't drink if he's angry or upset, because he doesn't trust himself not to lose control and end up blackout drunk. He often just isolates himself when he's feeling like that so he knows he won't do or say anything to anyone. He's made mistakes along the way, but instead of forgiving himself for those mistakes, he holds onto them to use against himself in his darkest moments.

Leaving to follow his dreams is one of the best things that ever happened to Soren. It broke his destructive spell and forced him to look after himself. Despite the stress of touring and of the musical industry, he's in the best place he's ever been. But he's got his secrets, just like everyone else, and he's afraid they'll emerge while he's back around the people he used to call his friends. He's not proud of how he behaved following his breakup, and he's somehow picked up even more secrets along the way. They all seem to come back to his self-destruction, and that terrifies him. But it at least makes him determined to not go back to that place.

He's often aware that the music industry isn't a perfect place. His manager believes in letting them all be themselves. But after Soren posted a picture of himself with the pansexual pride flag during pride, another member of the industry warned him against it, saying they didn't want to get labelled as "that band." So Soren personally directed a music video featuring a same-sex relationship. He's determined to be who he is, regardless of what anyone says, and he knows that his band agrees with him. There are times when he wonders if they are holding themselves back by being so vocal, but he can't hide who he is. But he has the backing of his friends and their management, and that's what matters to him.


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H I S T O R I A
Soren James Bowers was born in a small town in what felt like the middle of nowhere. And from a young age, it seemed he always had big dreams. When he was upset as a toddler, his favourite songs were the only thing that would calm him down. His favourite toy was a toy piano. He was playing his parents' upright piano from the moment he could see the keys. He had a natural talent for memorising and reproducing pieces of music he'd heard. It wasn't much of a surprise when the piano stopped presenting enough of a challenge by itself, so he taught himself to play guitar. He sang in the local church's choir until his father got a new job and they moved to New York when he was eleven.

Soren only ever wanted to play music. His parents hoped that maybe he would be a concert pianist, perhaps, or a classical singer. Instead, Soren fell in love with rock and alternative. Even as a teenager, when it seemed he didn't have all that much to be angry about, Soren fell in love with the anger and the passion behind it. His pocket money went on tickets to whatever concerts he could find- so starting a band was a logical next step at the age of fourteen. The line-up changed, and so did the name, but Soren was a constant. He was always up front, belting his heart out and writing songs in his free time. His teachers moaned his lack of academic ambition, but his parents knew he would go far.

That was how he met the rest of the group at sixteen. He'd known some of them for a while, but Lauren asked him if they'd be interested in playing one of her parties. Soren wasn't going to turn down a gig, especially not one hosted by a pretty girl. He stayed at the party afterwards, where he and Lauren became friends. It took almost two years for Sor and Lauren to finally get together. And at first, things seemed perfect. They were that couple, never seen apart from each other, endearing without being sickening. Soren was entirely smitten, and wrote his first proper love songs about her. But Lauren was never as smitten with Soren. Once they graduated, Soren was working two jobs just to try and fund the band. They were playing regular gigs, but they weren't getting off the ground. Lauren started to lose interest.

Soren wasn't supposed to be at the party. He was playing a gig that night, and had told Lauren he didn't think he'd make it. It had resulted in a screaming match between them (well, mostly Lauren at him), and they'd both stormed off, angry. But Soren felt bad, and went straight from the gig to the party to apologise. There, he found Lauren hooking up with somebody else. Their argument was witnessed by the entire party, and Soren found out in the subsequent days that while he'd been working his ass off and playing shows, she'd been sleeping around.

Soren had never felt so angry or so hurt. At first, all he wanted was to feel numb. He partied hard, getting drunk and hooking up with other members of the group. He told himself it was fine, that it was mutual, that they knew he was just using them to get over Lauren. But really, he was furious at his friends for not telling him anything. He cut off relationships with all of them and threw himself into the band. They were still playing every show they could get- and it finally payed off. A member of an iconic rock band went to one of their shows and was impressed with what he saw, signing the band to his label almost there and then. Soren and the band flew to the West Coast to record their debut album. At first, they partied harder than they had done, even in New York. But when Soren, barely sober, severely hungover, had an emotional meltdown while in studio, they were all taken aside and warned to look after themselves. Too many young bands burned themselves out like that. They all listened to the advice and got themselves back in shape. Soren's voice only strengthened as his physical health improved, and his mental state started to improve.

What he doesn't talk about is his... momentary blip. He'd let himself slip a little, they all had. They'd been recording the album and trying to keep themselves relevant by playing shows. They played a show back in New York, and Lauren had showed up and had weaseled her way backstage. Soren and her hooked up again, but he realised his mistake immediately. They had another fight. Soren fell down a dark hole where there was three days he can't totally remember because he was drunk or worse the whole time. His band mates were the ones to talk some sense back into him and get him back on track. They took a break, got their heads on straight, and began touring immediately after the album was released. Their album got excellent reviews in rock magazines and with some promotion from other stars in the scene, their name was out there, and people started to know them. Soren had never meant to end up at that party. But his bandmates had tagged along with him, so he thought that nothing bad would happen.

How wrong he was.


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R E L A T I O N S H I PXS T A T U S
Single (subject to change based on relationships)

T A L E N T S
Soren has a frankly impressive vocal range and vocal strength. His main two instruments are guitar and piano, but he can also play ukulele and knows how to play a little cello. He can hear a piece once and replicate it almost perfectly on piano. He's also an excellent cook and baker, able to make something tasty given the most basic of ingredients. He took up mountain biking while recording the album to help destress and is pretty damn good at it at this point.

S T R E N G T H S
Soren picks up new skills incredibly easily. Thanks to his musicality, he's also surprisingly good at picking out patterns in things, making him quite good at puzzles. He's in good physical health, as one of his favourite things to do when he hits a new city is to rent a bike and spend the whole day exploring it. Thankfully, his sense of direction and observational skills are good so he isn't constantly getting lost.

W E A K N E S S E S
Soren is petrified of flying. He had a beloved uncle die in a plane crash and suffers panic attacks on planes as a result. He needs to practically be knocked out to get him onto a plane and ideally for the duration of the flight. He has a tendency to binge if he's not feeling himself, be that in alcohol or Netflix's newest series. He shuts himself off if he's upset or worried, often leading to a vicious cycle.


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So begins...

Soren Bowers's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Arisa Winston Character Portrait: Alexander Yang Character Portrait: Lauren Clark Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan

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SOREN BOWERS
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outfit : herex|xhex: #575772
xxxremember the words you told me
xxxlove me till the day i die
xxxsurrender my everything cause
xxxyou made me believe you're mine

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Soren’s day had been going pretty good right up until that moment. Beautiful Strangers had played an acoustic set on local radio, done a Skype interview or two, and arrived at the apartment in loads of time to get set up and warmed up. They hadn’t played a private show in a while, but Richard, their manager, had said the girl organizing it had seemed really eager to book them and had paid handsomely for it.

None of them had asked too many questions. They were too tired, still jet-lagged from flying back from Europe and exhausted from playing six shows in six countries in seven days. Soren wished he could say it felt good being back in New York, but since his parents had moved back to Camden and had been renting out the apartment while he’d been touring, he was waking up to an empty apartment in a city where his memories weren’t exactly the fondest. But it was worth it all to get to do this. He’d do it all over again for that feeling of stepping out on stage.

He hadn't recognized the building at first. They went in a back entrance so they could use the service elevator, which was big enough that they could get all of their gear up to the right floor in just two runs instead of four or five. But there was something strangely familiar about the hall, something Soren couldn't quite put his finger on. It was only when the door to the apartment opened and an all too familiar face stepped out that things finally fell into place.

"Hi guys! Oh my god, it's so good to see you all, it's been too long!" Lauren gushed. Soren couldn't say anything. His stomach had plummeted through the floor and apparently taken his power of speech with it. This had to be some kind of sick joke. It had to be. By the time he came to his senses, Richard was chatting away to Lauren, having propelled them all into the apartment. "You know the guys already?" Richard asked. "Oh yeah, I knew them all the way back when Soren was still mopping floors and making frappés to fund it!" She laughed. Soren's jaw clenched even as he forced a smile.

"We'd better get set up, right?" He said, taking the opportunity to go over to where a small stage had been set up for them. Richard kept Lauren occupied for a few minutes, but eventually, he heard those heels tapping over, caught a whiff of her signature perfume.

"Hello, stranger," she purred, and his jaw clenched again. He didn't look at her, continuing to tune his guitar. "Look at you all. Big stars now, even bigger than the last time I saw you," she added, placing a hand on his shoulder. He wrenched his arm away and took a few steps away.

"Are you enjoying yourself, Lauren?" He asked. "Sneaking backstage isn't good enough for you now, you have to book my goddamn band behind my back?"
"Well, it was the only way I’d get you to talk to me. And besides, you didn't seem to mind me sneaking backstage so much last time," she said. Her tone was teasing but he knew her well enough to see the venom in those eyes and in that smile.
"Because you practically force-feeding me drinks had nothing to do with it," he retorted. Her smile widened, practically dripping with venom.
"You don't have to play the show, you know. If you're really uncomfortable," she said. He shot a glance back to the rest of the band. They had to have known what was going down, but they were making an exceptional show of pretending they didn't.

Soren knew two things. First of all, she had done this to torment him. This had nothing to do with loving their music or wanting to support the band. This had everything to do with him and their history.

And second of all, walking out would be letting her win. If he walked out, she could play the pity card and drag their name through the mud. And he wouldn’t, couldn’t, do that to the others. And he sure as hell wasn’t going to let her win that easily.

"Well, you've paid half upfront. Wouldn't want to waste your money now, would we?" He replied, matching that dangerous smile. Her eyes narrowed ever so slightly, enough for him to count it as a win. “Now if you’ll excuse us, we need to finish getting set up.”

They got their gear set up and tuned, and Lauren pointed them in the direction of a spare bedroom they could use to warm up and finish getting ready. Soren was glad that he usually took his time warming up, because every minute he was doing so was a minute that Lauren would leave him alone. He hadn’t even gotten a chance to talk to Rebecca yet, because she seemed to always be in too close of a proximity to Lauren to risk it. As they went out to start the show, he spotted Erin pouring drinks at the bar. Well. At least he had that much. Erin would back him up if Lauren tried anything, and she’d slap some sense into him if needed. Catching her eye, he mouthed “What the fuck?” before grinning.

The show went well. It was a smaller crowd than their last few shows, but the atmosphere was still good enough that for just over an hour, Soren completely forgot about Lauren. He always put his all into the show, always had. So much so that when he came off stage, some of the crowd chanting for another song, despite everybody wanting to congratulate him, he had to go back into that spare bedroom to recover for a few moments. It was a mistake. He heard somebody by the door, and knew exactly who it was without having to look up, even before she spoke.

“How is it you’re even better than you were the last time I saw you guys play?” Lauren asked, leaning against the door.
“That’s how this works. You play enough shows, you get practice, you get better. Simple process really," he said, leaning in to the mirror to fix his eyeliner.
“You’ve grown up so much,” she mused, and he could see her making her way towards him. His heart was pounding in his throat, but he felt rooted to the spot. “I’m so proud of you.” And then she was right in front of him, a hand on his cheek. He pulled away from her.
“Get the fuck away from me, Lauren. I don’t want anything to do with you.” He warned, and she laughed.
“Oh, but Soren, darling, I’ve heard you say that before,” she purred, running a hand along his arm and going to take his hand. He snatched it away, taking another step away from her.
“You’re pathetic, you know that? It’s so obvious what you’re doing. I wasn’t good enough for you when I was mopping floors and making frappes, but now that people are taking notice? You’re all over me again. It’s sad, Lauren. I’m done with you. No amount of alcohol or drugs in this world could make me want to get with you again.” Lauren hadn’t changed. He knew now she never would.

Almost an hour later, Soren was still on edge after the argument. He didn’t trust himself to drink, didn’t trust that he wouldn’t do something stupid. Staying was a bad idea. He needed to go. He headed back to the spare room to grab his coat and his gear. He opened the door, running a hand down his face- and froze.

Lauren was slumped on the floor. Soren sighed, thinking that she’d had too much to drink or had taken something, and crossed over the room to her. “Lauren?” He called, kneeling down beside her and shaking her shoulder. Something felt wrong. He went to shake her again- and it was then he saw the small pool of blood. “Lauren? Lauren?” He kept calling, panicking. Soren went to feel for Lauren’s pulse, confirmation of something he already knew. Nothing. Lauren was dead. In the doorway, a woman screamed.

He didn’t know what happened then. He didn’t know how he reacted, if he yelled out for somebody, if he just froze. But suddenly it seemed that everybody else knew. He was numb, hardly able to move, hardly able to think. He was just kneeling numbly beside her. Someone said something about calling the police. And as he heard the sirens, something awful occurred to him.

Pretty much everyone at the party knew about their history. They'd been arguing earlier. If the police started asking questions... fingers were going to be pointed his way.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Lauren Clark

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Rebecca Cruze
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outfit : herex|xhex: #D02090
xxxYoung hearts, out our minds
xxxRunnin' 'til we outta time
xxxWild child's, lookin' good
xxxLiving hard just like we should

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Today was the day, the first day in years since she would be back in America, back in New York. Since leaving she likes to think she’s grown and matured a little bit, but occasionally the wild side of her would come out while out traveling and her friends would be surprised with how she acted, since she mostly kept a professional and quiet life at work, there wasn’t much room to goof around when you’re the secretary and personal assistance of the CEO of one of the largest property development and investment companies in England, Telereal Trillium.

Over the years she didn’t keep in contact with many people from the states, only talking to her parents roughly once or twice a month. And maybe a message from Soren here and or to check in and update about his band, she felt bad when she couldn’t make it to one of their shows when they did their small European tour. But when Lauren messaged her on Instagram talking about one last party to relive the glory days, one that they would never forget, Rebecca quickly talked to her work and got the time off to head back to the States and have some fun.

Rebecca had only been back in New York just under a day, but it felt like it was just yesterday she was here and not many years ago, and she was hoping it would be just like the good of days of being an immature and crazy teenager. Sure she was still having fun in England and traveling around Europe, but it was here she became who she was and always able to let go and be free. Especially since Lauren was throwing a party for the good old times. Rebecca had tried to convince Soren to just tag along for a little bit just to relive the golden years but besides saying he didn’t want to have to deal with Lauren him and his band already had plans. But the two promised to meet up and get some drinks, maybe even play some music together, though it has been years since Rebecca had picked up an instrument.

After checking in at her hotel, Rebecca quickly went out to the shops to find an outfit for tonight, while she did bring enough clothes to last here while she was here, but of her clothes fixed the English atmosphere and their trends, not the American ones. Throughout the day she would be texting and trading pictures with Lauren, feeling like they were in high school again trying to figure out what to buy and wear. Over the years Becca had gotten a new phone a couple times and over time lost most of her American contacts as she didn’t need them, Lauren and Soren mostly talked to her over social media, so there weren't many people she could text right now, and knew Soren would be busy with his band to prep for their gig, wherever it was at.

Rebecca was out shopping for a couple of hours, a little longer than she planned but also buying more than she planned, though she wasn’t surprised by that. And when she got back to the hotel she started getting ready for the night, knowing it would take her a bit to do her hair and make up.

The phone to Rebecca’s hotel room rang and she quickly answered it to find out her taxi for the party had finally arrived. She grabbed her purse sprayed her perfume while talking down the stairs, it was one of her favorite senses she got as a tester back in London and quickly got refills of, made with siracusa lemon, an orange bigarade and support with a dark tenderness smell of juniper berries. The clicking of her heels on the lobby floor followed Rebecca as she walked through the rotary doors and quickly climbed into the taxi waiting for her on the street. It was already approaching the evening hours and Rebecca spent most of the time just staring out the window, gazing at the beauty of the city that made her who she was.

When the taxi pulled up, Rebecca immediately knew it was the right apartment for a party that Lauren would throw. While walking up the short staircase a very familiar voice caught her attention. “Wild!” Rebecca looked up and saw Lauren, stunning as ever. “Laur!” Rebecca shouted as the two open arms and hugged each other at the top of the stairs and giving a cheek-kiss. It’s been too long! Come in, I got a surprise.” Lauren said turning around and going in. Rebecca laughed and nodded some hellos to some people she knew roughly from high school. She wasn’t sure what the surprise was, but knew Lauren and knew it would be interesting. As the walked through she saw some more people she recognized but was basically dragged by the hand by Lauren to the main room, and upon entering her mouth taped open in surprised. Beautiful Strangers. “What? How did you get Soren to agree to this? I thought y’all werent on good terms.” Rebecca did a light wave to Soren before Lauren responded. “Didn’t ask him, talked to their manager and threw enough money. You should’ve seen his face, I’m hoping to rekindle some things.” The girl said with a wink. Lauren then showed Rebecca around some more, Rebecca felt bad for not staying and talking to Soren, but knew she had to entertain Lauren for a little before peeling off. The two continued to talk and Lauren showed her around.

“And I got the best bartender in New York.” Lauren said as she showed her where the bow was, showing Rebecca that Erin was also here serving drinks, which brought a smile and blush to her face. “Anyways, I need to go hunt my prey, Enjoy yourself!” Lauren said as she turned down the hallway. Erin hadn’t seen Rebecca yet since she was serving some people. Rebecca walked up to her blind spot on her right side. “Damn shouldn’t someone with buns like that be a baker not a bartender?” She said loud enough to catch Erin’s attention, and quickly hugging her from behind. She did a little giggle as Erin retorted her compliment. “Sorry if I startled you.” She said as she watched Erin give out drinks talking about work.

A smile came across her face as Erin poured her an old favorite drink of hers, something Rebecca nicknamed as a Wild Ride. Becca has tried to remake it numerous times on her own, and even asking bartenders for the custom drink to be made, but never came close to Erin’s, even thought every time she made it Erin would say she could make it better. Becca held up the cup that Erin had filled up for her. “I’ll be back for a refill, and then we can catch up!” As she turned a corner drinking the freshly made drink, which tasted perfect, she almost spilt her it when she bumped into someone, someone big. “Oh! I’m so sorr-“ she quickly cut off seeing it was her old partner in crime. Nathan. “Nathan!” She threw her arms around the gentle giant. “Wow it’s good to see you! Looking great. Are things gotten better? Been awhile and when I left…” Rebecca trailed off, not exactly wanting to say what Nathan was going through before she left, she knew he had an unfortunate run of bad luck.

The two talked for a little bit before Rebecca saw Lauren walk through a hallway and into a spare room. “Excuse me hun, but I gotta go talk to Lauren. We will finish this conversation I promise.” Rebecca gave him a kiss on the cheek and quickly went through the party crowd looking for Lauren.

After quickly spotted Lauren, Rebecca caught her attention and asked to talk to her in the spare room. “Everything okay wild child?” Lauren asked closing the door behind her. Rebecca put her drink down on the dresser before turning around to Lauren. “You really tricked Beautiful Strangers into playing here? I can’t believe you did this. You know how Soren is, he doesn’t want to be with you You need to let him go Laur.” She said to her, trying to be sympathetic. But the message wasn’t being understood the way she wanted it to be. “How. Dare. You. This is my party, and he’s my ex. I will get him back, and you aren’t gonna steal him from me, bitch.” She shouted into Rebecca’s face, probably could be heard from outside the room. This struck a chord with Rebecca, and she quickly reacted. “Are you fucking kidding me? Me, a bitch? No, fuck you Lauren. You shoved him away and cheated on him. You’re the one being a bitch, I’m trying to help you.” She said back to her. The two continued a little bit more before Rebecca stormed out, slamming the door behind her. And heading to the bathroom to cool off and get control of herself. After rinsing her face Rebecca decided she should go back and apologize to Lauren about how she acted.

Rebecca hung around a bit to catch up some more with some people and was getting ready to leave when a scream caught Rebecca’s attention and she quickly went to investigate. As she got to the door way she finally saw the thing that caused someone to scream. “Lauren!” Becca quickly shoved someone that was in the doorway aside and went to the side of the body, barely avoiding the blood on the floor. “Someone get help! Please! Call someone or something!” She yelled to the doorway where a group had started to form. Rebecca turned back to the body and held Lauren’s hand “It’ll be okay Lauren. Help is coming.” Rebecca barely got out of her mouth as tears started down her face.

Lauren said this would be a night they wouldn’t forget, little did she mean it like this.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Alexander Yang Character Portrait: Lauren Clark

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ALEXANDER YANG
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Ethical Hacker | Outfit | Hex: #4E3475
There is only one way to avoid criticism:
do nothing, say nothing, be nothing...

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"Hey Lex, how is it going? I know it has been a while since we've seen each other but... I was just wondering if you would like to meet up sometime? This is Jessica... just in case you forgot. Well, I'll be looking forward to your response. Don't be a stranger now, hun. Kisses!" The voicemail playing from Alexander's smart phone in his right hand had finally ended. He was massaging his his temple with his other hand as he tried, to little effect, alleviate the headache he felt growing from listening to the voicemail.

"You sure do have a number of admirers, don't you boss? Not worried that one of them is going to act drastically after you slight them?" Christina, also known as Tina, Lex's secretary, asked him jokingly while giving him a cup of coffee.

"It doesn't matter. Whether or not I return their affection, none of them really care or know about me, at least the true me." Lex said as he thanked Tina for the drink. As he slowly sipped he continued, "There are few who do... even less now."

While walking towards the door to exit Lex's office, Tina said, "I don't seem to remember you doing anything to change that sir. You should probably address that, the sooner the better. Everyone needs a few good friends." She giggled a little as she opened the door. Turning around and looking towards Lex she continued, asking, "Aren't you suppose to meet up with some old friends tonight?"Alexander casually looked down at his phone, looking at the date and time.

Earlier in the week Lex had received a message out of the blue from his old friend Lauren, taking about getting their old group back together again after the fallout years prior. He had blamed himself for what had happened and had distanced himself from them all of them afterwards. Now after years had passed he was slowly trying to repair his past relationships with those he could find in New York City. He was steadily making progress and this event provided him with the opportunity to try and patch up things with those he was unable to meet with earlier, due to the lack of free time Lex had to do so.

"Seems like it." Alexander got up from his desk, walking towards the exit where Tina was now located. As he walked past her and towards the coat rack to put on his coat, he said, "Cancel any unnecessary meetings and postpone anything deemed important. I don't want to be disturbed by anyone til tomorrow at noon. Knowing my old friends I probably won't be available until then." As he was about to leave he turned back towards Tina and said, "You can take the rest of the day off, if you like... Paid of course."

Tina blew a teasing kiss towards Lex as he left his office. He then messaged the front desk with his phone to have a car prepared for him to leave for Lauren's party, giving them its location. As he exited the elevator in the main lobby Lex was greeted by a number of employees. He waved towards them all nonchalantly as he left the building and entered the car waiting for him outside.

As the car left towards its destination Lex looked down towards his watch, thinking, "Looks like I'll be a little bit late... Just like old times." He laughed to himself quietly as he waited until he arrived at Lauren's party.

After a fair bit of time Alexander arrived at the party. Looking around he saw a number of familiar faces, those being: Erin, Nathan, and Lauren. Lex approached Erin and exchanged pleasantries with her while he ordered an Irish Buck. Thanking her, Lex said, "Thanks. Hopefully everything ends uneventfully tonight... unlike last time." Sighing Lex game Erin a short farewell as he looked for Lauren, to greet her.

While walking towards Lauren, Lex nodded and smiled towards Nathan, one of the few people Lex has spent time trying to connect to after the group's fallout years ago. When he reached Lauren he greeted her with a hug. Despite everything that went down between the group Lex had kept a mutually beneficial relationship with her. They were both affluent and influential people, within their own right, and used their abilities in order to assist each other whenever they needed the other.

Looking towards the stage Lex noted that Sorin's band would be performing for their party tonight. Looking towards Lauren he said, "I'm guessing he wasn't told that you were the one hiring him tonight, right?" After receiving an affirmation for his thoughts Lex laughed a little to himself. "Well... I hope whatever you're planning goes as well as you think it will. Me and Sor haven't been in the best terms since we... Just don't expect much out of me tonight. I'm planning on trying to reestablish the relationships I lost." Before leaving her Lex gave Lauren a kiss on her cheek before saying, "Happy Hunting."

Some time and a few drinks later Lex was quietly observing the crowd while Beutiful Strangers was playing their set. While looking over the crowd Lex had spotted Rebecca, his past crush while they were in high school. After knowing her for so long and from their first interaction Lex had slowly developed romantic feelings towards her. When she left New York City he was having a hard time, missing just having her in his life as a support. This was the time when he had his major slip up with Lauren and caused the rift between the group members. Lex's greatest hope for coming tonight was to rekindle the relationship he once had with Rebecca and possibly even more.

Alexander waited patiently as he watched Rebecca talk to a couple of the members of their group at the party. Smiling to himself as he thought, "I'm glad she can still make those expressions. Maybe moving away before everything went down was best for her." Not wanting to disturb her while she was enjoying herself Lex decides to mingle among the other attendants who catch his interest. Engaging in small talk with a few people until he grows tired of talking to them, bidding farewell as he walks to a nearby balcony to have a smoke.

While lighting his cigarette and taking the first drag Lex notices Lauren standing nearby. Looking towards her Lex smiles and offers her a cigarette. After inhaling a considerable amount he lets the smoke lazily exit his mouth as leans on the railing turning to Lauren, saying, "So what's with this party anyway? You can't tell me that this is all just to get us all together... If that were the case we could've done this earlier... What's the motivation?" Waiting to hear her answer Lex sees an all familiar cold glint in her eyes, one that tells him he may not want to hear the answer. While listening to Lauren talk an even colder glint could be seen in his eyes as he stared daggers towards Lauren...

After having talked to Lauren, Lex walked towards the bar to get another refill as a headache seemed to creep into his head. He didn't see Erin anywhere near the bar so he decided to mix himself a drink. Just after he finished preparing his drink Lex heard a scream over all the festivities going on around him. He wasn't really concerned about what happened until he heard Rebecca shouting for help. Hearing her triggered Lex to run towards the scene, pushing onlookers aside until he was behind Rebecca, Sorin, and Erin. The sight of Lauren laying in a pool of blood made Lex instinctively hold back some of his emotions, in order to better help in the situation and remained focused.

Alexander looked around, assessing as much as he could about the situation before leaning on a nearby wall to Rebecca. He stroked her hair gently, attempting to comfort her while calling his secretary Tina. "Sorry for calling but a friend of mine was... killed. I'm sure someone has already informed the authorities about this so I'm sure they will be on their way here soon." Just as he said this he could hear a number of faint sirens in the background. "Tina, this is going to be very important... Get a number of our experts to try and gather as much information as they can about the party that I am at now, anything that may prove useful no matter how minute. You know how we do things." After hearing Tina agree to everything with a serious tone, Lex returned his focus to those around him.

As law enforcement came by he saw Erin questioning Sor, preparing him for the investigation that would surely start sometime soon. Looking down at Rebecca holding Lauren's hand Lex promptly squatted down next to her, attempting to comfort her by wrapping his arm around her shoulder, patting her. He leaned towards Rebecca's ear, whispering,"Erin is right, the cops soon start questioning everyone here... and Sorin will most likely be their main suspect."

Looking around Lex noticed that their wasn't any law enforcement within eyesight. While still comforting Rebecca and with the cops currently distracted, Lex removed the hands she was holding Lauren with, wiping the hand Rebecca had just been holding. He turned to look at her in the eyes with the most caring look he could muster while maintaining his composure. "Your fingerprints would only lead to more complications for you... I know how much Lauren means to you but you being put in a holding cell for holding her hand doesn't sit well with me."

Looking at Rebecca's eyes he couldn't help but break down the emotional wall he had just built a little bit. He then held her even tighter as he said, "I'm sorry... I'm not exactly the greatest at comforting others. If you want to stay here with Lauren... we can do that. If you need some fresh air, we can do that... " As he looked down at Lauren while holding Rebecca he couldn't help but feel regret that he was incapable of keeping this event from happening and deciding that he would do everything within his ability to get to the bottom of what happened here, while protecting himself and those he cared about.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Alexander Yang Character Portrait: Lauren Clark

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Nate had always loved parties, that was no secret. Something about going out, being with his friends, it made him feel alive. As a teenager, it had been some form of escapism; the less he was at home, the less time he spent dealing with his parents. But as his father started leaving him alone, he didn't slow down any. His group of friends was kind of like a second family- one that understood him, or, at least, they did. Nate had lost friends after everything that happened, but he'd ended up closer than ever to others. He had the day off, but wanted to make sure there would be plenty of people at the party before he arrived- he wanted to avoid Lauren if he could. The thought that he would be avoiding her in her own home crossed his mind, but he honestly didn't care if that hurt her feelings.

The party was a blur of people he didn't recognize, a few he did, and music that shouldn't have surprised him. He should have known there would be drama, there always was when Lauren was around. He didn't give himself time to start regretting his decision to come to the party, instead he got a drink and went off in search of someone he knew- one he was willing to talk to, anyway. Nate had always been good at small talk, so he knew he would be just fine mingling around until he spotted someone he knew. It didn't take long until he ran into Rebecca, and a bright smile lit up his face, "Rebecca?" He returned her hug, squeezing her gently. He smiled as she spoke, and shrugged in a nonchalant gesture when she halfway brought up the mess Nate's life was in when she moved, "I'm doing alright, now," His voice was even and calm, as if he were speaking a universal truth, and not just his own opinion, "I actually work for Erin now. She's a good boss." He paused, but only for a moment before he continued, "Very patient." They caught up for a few minutes, but it wasn't long before Rebecca excused herself to go find Lauren, and Nate found himself alone yet again.

He tried to enjoy himself, but everyone seemed so wrapped up in Lauren and whatever she was scheming that he felt like there was going to be a repeat of the last time they were all in one space together. Combined with how Lauren seemed to be everywhere, and how difficult it seemed to be to avoid her spotting him, he started to contemplate leaving. He decided to say goodbye to everyone who still cared, or at least Erin, but his plans were quickly changed by the sounds of shouting and crying from one of the rooms. He took a moment to take it all in; his brain trying to understand what had happened. His face was set in an expression of indifference, but as he heard sirens approaching, he moved into action. He moved to Soren's side and squatted down to lift him to his feet, "Come on, buddy," He spoke, voice barely above a whisper, "Let's go sit down."

Arms wrapped firmly around Soren's shoulders, Nate led the man out of the room and sat him down on a couch. He looked around, briefly, before settling down next to his old friend, not wanting to leave him alone. He and Soren had never been close, but Nathan knew this moment was devastating, so he was more than happy to wait in silence, at least for the moment.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Alexander Yang Character Portrait: Lauren Clark Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan

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72 hours and counting. Khepri has been up for a total of 72 hours, a majority of which she spent at the desk in her hotel room just typing away on her computer, trying to come up with a story that wasn't shitty. She spent close to 3 days staring at her computer, not including the four-hour nap she took while sitting at the desk in her hotel room while she was on the phone with Christopher who was persisting that her pain medication mixed with her lack of sleep was only going to cause her to crash. Again. Or at least asked her to step out of her room to get some fresh air. Not that she listened. She promised both him, Lex, and Lauren that she would go to the party which gave her a ton of time to finish her draft, she'd get some fresh air then. But until then she had to focus that was before she saw the blinds of her room open and let in streams of light causing the reporter to cover her eyes and groan. "Ugh! You could at least open the windows so it's not completely depressing in here." Khepri groaned before hitting save on her document because she knew, whatever Lauren had planned would leave it unfinished. She raised her eyes for the first time to see none other than Lauren Clark with her hands on her hips. "How'd you even get into my room? I told them no disruptions."

"It's not a disruption if you tell them you're worried about your friend's mental well being and think she might hurt herself." Khrepi raised her eyebrows as she removed her glasses. "Lauren!" The black hair beauty chuckled. "What? You weren't answering your phone and I need help." The Indian woman raised her eyebrows once more before returning to her word doc. "I'm busy. Some of us actually have careers that never stop." Lauren rolled her eyes. "The world won't fall apart just because Khepri Mahajan stops working." Khepri took a deep breath. "No, but my career might." Anyone else would think she's being dramatic and okay, maybe she was but, as far as she was concerned. If she was ever going to get back in the field, broadcasting these exciting stories from all over the globe, she had to show her bosses that she was healed in every possible way; physically, mentally and that she was better than ever. And instead of taking anyone's advice and taking time off, she's spent her time 'off' thinking of stories that she would get started the moment she was back in front of the camera as opposed to just publishing them in some newspaper. Laur scoffed as she slowly started to close the girl's computer. "And people think I'm dramatic." Pri looked in disbelief as Lauren quickly grab the computer and tossed it on the bed. "Your career will be fine for a night. Now, how long have you been cooped up in here?"

"Two days." Three, but who's counting. "Have you eaten anything." Khepri didn't even look as she gave a signature snide remark as she rubbed her eyes to help them adjust to the world. "Whatever answer gets you to leave me alone quicker." Lauren smiled as she scurried towards the walk-closet, not saying a word until she started to toss out an outfit for her friend to change into. "Great, so that's a no. So, here's the plan: you shower, we get lunch, we get some sexy outfits for tonight, and then start scheming." Pri whined like a child as she caught to pair of booties Lauren tossed towards her. "Why me?" Khepri whined. "Why not Becca or just anyone but me?" Lauren threw her a pair of booties. "Because you're the brains and I need a plan." At this point Lauren was holding Khepri's hand with big eyes. Khepri groaned with annoyance as she ripped her hand away to head towards her bathroom to get ready for the day.

The pair spent the rest of the day getting ready for the party before heading to Lauren's to put on the finishing touches. Honestly, with Khepri, everything was going to look perfect even if it wasn't her party. At this point, the two were made up with their hair and makeup and, at least Khepri was a little more relaxed than usual after partaking in more than enough drinking since Lauren started to tell her how she wanted Soren back and her whole idea. She nodded and gave her advice but was a lot less vocal about how bad of an idea this was. And could you blame her? She had still never told the girl about their little run-in after the breakup and before he left town and honestly, she didn't plan on it. As far as Lauren knew, Soren was just a raging pain in her ass (which he was) and she just didn't like the idea which was why she was reluctant to agree with it. How was she supposed to even bring that up? "Hey you want your ex back? Great. By the way, I slept with him. We good?" She was a terrible person and to null that feeling of guilt, she kept drinking and nitpicking things with the setup of the party. Lauren pulled her aside and smirked. "They're on their way up." Pri smirked back, hiding her anxiety before chuckling. "Great, then I'm going to go get dressed before everyone shows up and give you some space to enact that twisted and very fucked up plan of yours."

"And go get another drink, Jesus Christ." It wasn't that she was worried about it coming out at any point in the night, god no. She knew neither her or Soren would 1, ever bring it up and 2, would rather die than tell Lauren. It was just the fact that it happened and this was the first time in years Khepri was around Lauren in person and now it was starting to weigh on her. The polished woman took her time getting ready, not only to stop from facing any awkwardness but because she had to make sure she looked absolutely perfect. This was the first time she was seeing the whole group together and, yes, she had to show off her hair that was down and framing her face just right, her makeup, her emerald green silk dress that stopped right above her knees and strappy black heels, down to even the shine on her engagement ring. She looked herself in the mirror for what felt like the 30th time, fixing her flyaways before taking a step back to take in her entire appearance. Turning to the side, she smirked. "Still got it." It had felt like forever since the last time she had gone out and had a good time, but that didn't stop her from looking down at her phone every time it went off. Constantly remembering the work she was putting off... for a party. She took a deep breath, reached into her clutch and pulled out a baggie of blue pills, throwing two into her mouth and washing them down with some water, Lauren had given her after noticing how much Khepri was drinking before the party even started. Yes, she was aware that mixing alcohol with her Adderall wasn't the best idea but, she needed to work after this. She didn't plan on being at the party too long, only long enough to see her friends, please Lauren with her social skills, and sneak out the back to talk to Christopher and finish editing her article. She'd out in like two hours, easy. "Stop be an antisocial narcissist and come out here!" Lauren yelled through the door.

Most of the party went off without a hitch, she saw some old friends, danced with Lauren as she made sex eyes towards Soren as his band played even after telling Khepri how her plan went and slung her arms around Khepri's shoulders. She'd never admit but, he was talented. She swayed as Lauren spun her around just the band's set ended. "Okay! I will be back until then," Lauren kissed her on the cheek. "Try to get some dick or pussy, whatever your little bicon heart desires. I'll be back!" The black hair beauty winked before disappearing into the crowd before Pri could say a word. "I don't need pussy because I'm not a bicon." She scoffed and threw her hands up before turning around to make her way to the bar to pass time until Lauren came back as she definitely didn't plan on sleeping with anyone tonight especially since she shouldn't at least act like she's engaged.

Khepri past the time, talking to a woman who walked up to the bar, not really picking up on the flirting as she looked at the time and all of her notifications, she knew it was time to bow out. But, not before thanking Lauren for actually getting her out of her shell for a night even if it was against her will. She excused herself from the conversation and hurried off but not before the girl handed her a piece of paper. Khepri didn't even look at it before slipping it in her pocket and starting to look around for the host. She had seen her go into the hallway away from the party and started to push her way through, saying the occasional excuse me but, mostly just shuffling through. She peeked in her bedroom, nothing. She groaned before walking into the spare room, seeing Lauren bleeding and Soren kneeling by her. She couldn't even stop herself from letting out a blood-curdling scream as she leaned against the doorframe. She covered her mouth and started shaking as she held the wall for balance to help her toppling over. The room soon filled with people; screaming, crying, and being escorted out by others. It was as if Khepri wasn't even there, she was frozen to the world around her and she couldn't hear anything but muffled sobs. The rest of the group came in and she didn't even say a word, she just stood there, softly shaking. No tears, no sobs, just completely numb, letting out the occasional shaking breath. She didn't even move as Becca held onto Lauren before being moved by Lex and Nate grabbing Soren.

Khepri couldn't even explain why she had frozen up, she had seen battlefields, crime scenes, you name it and Khepri had seen it before in her career but, this. This hit differently, this wasn't some unnamed victim, this was Lauren. Someone she had just danced with an hour ago and now, she was just gone, like that. Through the muffled voices running through her head, she heard someone saying that the police was coming and saw flashes of red and blue fill the room. Most of the guests had left the room before being police made their way into the apartment but, Khepri at this point had slid to the ground clinging on for dear life to her position on the doorframe. Only letting go when two uniformed officers softly removed her and escorted her out of the room. When leaving, Khepri turned to see the body of her friend just as they covered her with a sheet. She gasped for air as if she was suffocating and finally let out a tear that made its way down her face. The officers sat her down near the others when she finally completely snapped back. "Ma'am, again, are you okay?" Khepri rapidly blinked before turning her eyes to the officers. "What? Yea--... Yea, I'm okay." She turned her eyes to the room around her. "You're in shock, stay here until we can check you out. You may have hit your head on your way down." She just nodded, not even making eye contact with them. Just finally taking in the sight of distraught party goers as the wheels in her head began to turn.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Arisa Winston

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Arisa Winston
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xxxThe search is so very long
xxxWe let it fade away
xxxThere's a ray of hope beyond despair
xxxMove on, look for the truth in this world

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New York City, the city that never slept. It was a city that Arisa had never been to, despite living close to it for a number of years before becoming a cop. For one, she had no desire to see it and secondly, she simply liked where she had been. But a job was a job and Arisa loved her job. So NYC bound she was, along with her partner Kyle. To say their assignment transition and trip to New York was memorable was true, but for all the wrong reasons. Arisa handled the trip much better then Kyle. If there was one thing she learned over the years, it was patience was a virtue. Still the travel experience did push her buttons. At least their luggage hadn't been sent somewhere else. She had tried telling Kyle these things but it had been pretty obvious there was no helping him. For her own experiences, Arisa felt she had no right to complain when she had been in worse situations, not to mention she had seen the worst in humanity too. And it was those moments that Arisa's 'dark side' showed up and it was then Kyle's turn to try to keep her calm. It was a relief when they finally reached their hotel. The place itself was more expensive then Arisa's last place, and smaller too. Still it would do until she got her own flat. As much as Arisa wanted to live in the suburbs, she knew she had to stay in the main urban area because of her job.

Arisa had been busy putting her own stuff away when she heard a knock at the door. Checking through the peep hole in the door, she saw it was her commanding officer.

"Yes sir?"

This couldn't be good. She wasn't expecting to meet her commanding officer until tomorrow. Other officers had been with him.

"Agent Winston, come with me please. There's something I need to tell you and Agent Monohan."

Nodding and making sure she had her hotel key and officer's badge, the detective followed him into her partner's room, along with her other 'tools' she took with her in case something happened, which included her gun. She stood close to Kyle as they both were told about a homicide. Well that was just great, but this was New York after all. The crime rate was bound to be through the roof here. Her ears picked up the conversation of the other officers who asked Kyle if he knew a Lauren when he was younger.

"My sister did, but I doubt it's the same person. Plenty of people with that name. Let's get going, shall we?"

For her partner's sake, Arisa hoped it wasn't the Lauren he knew. Cases could easily get messy if an officer had deep connections with those directly involved. Arisa didn't know a lot about Kyle's personal life but she did know he had a sister. Didn't he mention she was a bar tender? She didn't know much and didn't bother trying to ask because she was pretty tight lip about her own personal life. They basically only told each other where they originally came from and a little about their families. All that Kyle knew about her was she was from Allentown and grew up with her aunt and uncle, which was technically true since she was still a child when she moved in with them.

NYC traffic was horrible downtown. Even Arisa was tempted to get out of the vehicle they were in to walk to the crime scene, so it was a huge relief when the cops they were with decided to turn on their alarms. This was one thing Arisa loved about being a cop, the right to get to a place ASAP. Once there Arisa became on high alert. Doubtful they would have found a suspect, much less the culprit, but the blonde never took any chances, after facing death herself a number of times throughout her life. They took an elevator up and entered a scene Arisa was all too familiar with, confusion and distraught. People weren't used to bad thing happening to them. Looks like their had been a party, at least based on the attire of the people in the hallway. Yeah, a party was the last thing one would expect a murder, but they were more common place then one would think, crime wise at least. And this was a high class party by all appearances too. Arisa may not wear anything 'expensive', but she knew a designer gown when she saw one. Great, high class meant probably more news coverage, especially if anyone famous was connected. Arisa did not like the press. She was the one who dealt with them between her and Kyle. Thank goodness for the term "Pleading the 5th". She took that tactic a lot. Still news reporters could be like fleas, they never stopped pestering you. Arisa stopped thinking about though and focused on the task at hand when they entered a room.

Putting on a neutral face, Arisa started scanning the room and the people within it. Still, she wanted to keep an eye on Kyle too and followed him as they were led to another hallway where the crime took place. Markers were already up and a sheet was covering the body. Hopefully the coroner would arrive soon and take the body back to the station so they can do an autopsy and move from there. Arisa looked at her partner and saw his gaze linger on a few people, especially the one with tats on her. It looked like Kyle knew these people. Seeing how they were all near the crime scene, Arisa figured they were all connected to the victim in some way for that was normally the case in these kinds of situations. That or had been the first to see the body. Arisa made a note to interview each and every one of them.

Soon another officer addressed them and Kyle took a look at the body after putting his gloves on. Her confirmed the identity as Lauren Clark and that she was a friend of his sister's. Arisa felt bad for her partner and placed a hand on his shoulder for comfort. Sure, they might not have been friends, but she was still someone her partner knew and no one would expect something like this to happen. She was about to suggest he leave the room when he took it upon himself to do so. Letting her partner do what he felt was best for now. Lucky for them, she was not connected and would do her best to remain as unbiased as possible. Deciding to start interview people first, she approached two men, one with dark hair and pale skin and another who was muscular with brown hair.

"Good evening gentlemen. Apologies for intruding, but I have a few questions for you. I am Detective Arisa Winston with the New York City Police Department. We'll try to get through this as quickly as possible so you can go about your business. First, I am going to need your names, ages, connection to the victim if you have one, and what you were doing here at the time of the incident."

Arisa had on a gentle smile in order to help keep these witnesses calm. She had her trusty notepad out and was already taking down notes of their appearances. The dark hair was clearly distraught and it looked like the other one was merely comforting him. Arisa knew this was all circumstantial and not hard evidence, but she believed in writing down her own personal thoughts for it helped her in investigating. Her gut feeling was telling her that the dark haired one was deeply connected to the victim or was the first to discover her or both.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Arisa Winston Character Portrait: Alexander Yang

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Soren was completely numb. People were talking to him, he was pretty sure that one of those people was Erin, but he just... couldn't respond. Rebecca was sobbing beside him, and he couldn't even comfort her. It felt like he was watching it all from somewhere outside his body, like this wasn't really happening to him. He could hear the sirens getting closer, but he couldn't respond. They arrived, and somebody- was it Nate?- gently pulled him to his feet and led him out of the room. They sat him down and disappeared again, leaving Soren alone. The whole time, all Soren did was stare at the floor. People moved around him, some of them even tried talking to him, but he couldn't process it. Lauren was dead. She was gone, just like that. It just... didn't seem possible.

He was vaguely aware of somebody talking to him, but he only really came around once they tapped him gently on the cheek. He finally looked up at the ground to meet Erin's eyes. She was saying something about the room they'd found her in, if he'd gone back in.

"I... I went in after I came offstage, I needed a.... a breather before I went out to.... to see everyone again. Lauren- she- she came in, she wanted to talk, she wanted to... but I left." And then it hit him. It hit him so hard it felt like he'd been physically kicked in the chest. She was gone. She was dead and everybody was going to think it was him and he'd ruined things for everyone, he'd ruined things for the band- he was never going to get anywhere now-

"I didn't do it, Erin, I swear to god, I didn't, you have to believe me-" he forced out between heaving sobs, somewhere between crying and a panic attack.

Erin looked at Soren as he simply sat there in silence. The look on his face mixed with the body language, as well as the look in his eyes told her everything she needed to know. He was in his own little world, and it only took her gently patting his face to bring him back down to earth, however helpful that may have been in the moment. But sometimes the only thing that someone needs in some tough love. She sighed softly as he finally began talking, his voice was wracked with emotion and was occasionally cracking from him having cried as much as he had. Erin gently placed her hand on his knee as he continued explaining that he had gone into the room, for only a minute and in that small time frame that Lauren did come and talk to him. She sighed heavily, if the police found out that they did indeed have one final talk before she was found murdered, Soren would indeed be the first one they went after even more, and she couldn't allow that. She couldn't allow any of her friends to be found guilty of this, it was absurd anyway, right? None of them could actually be found guilty of murder... right?

She gently squeezed his leg as he began crying as she slowly stood up and sat down next to him, wrapping her arms around him as he began to cry once more. Erin could feel his entire body shake, and she could have sworn she felt his heart beating rapidly in his chest. "I want to believe you, I do. I really, really do...But...Anyone could have done it, Sor...Anyone...And I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." she said as she could feel the burn behind her eyes begin, and then finally the tears hit as she tried to remain calm in this moment. But seeing everyone go from having a good time and enjoying themselves like last time, this only caused her to be a mix of angry and entirely heart-broken. "Everything's going to be okay, Soren...I promise." she said softly as she kissed the top of his head, as well as rubbing his left arm with one hand, and his back with her other. He needed someone to help him in this moment, and she'd do her best to be there for him, just like she always was.

Soren instinctively leaned into Erin the minute she put her arms around him. The physical contact made him feel just a little calmer, a little more grounded. But Erin only said that she wanted to believe him, not that she did, and that just made it worse. Because he didn't blame her for not believing him. He probably wouldn't have believed himself. So how the hell was he going to make the cops believe him? How the hell was he going to get anyone to believe him? Goddammit, he hadn't even wanted to come to the party. He'd just showed up expecting to play the private show for some superfan, take a few pictures, make some polite conversation, maybe have a drink, and then go home. And then everything had gone wrong, and now he had ruined everything.

After a few minutes, the sobbing subsided, but he stayed where he was in Erin's arms, entirely emotionally drained and having returned to that awful, cold, numbness. "What do we do now, Erin?" he asked, not sure if he wanted an answer or not. The cops already seemed to be interviewing people, and he knew it was only a matter of time before his name got mentioned in all the wrong ways.

Erin continued trying her best to comfort him, ignoring how she felt entirely in that moment. Soren needed comforting more than she did. She held him close as he leaned into her embrace more, which only made her hold him even tighter. She finally waited until he had finished crying, and once he did she let go of her embrace slightly, which allowed him to compose himself better. Erin sighed as Soren asked what were they going to do, and honestly, she had no idea. There was nothing they really could do, except for try to remain as calm and collected as they could. "I don't know...Just try to prove that none of us did it? I honestly don't know, Sor...That's what scares me.." her voice showed evidence of being genuinely scared and uncertain. And the fact that two people walked in that didn't look like normal police officers sent a shiver down her spine. Something was unsettling about the whole thing, the fact that it wasn't just the average police officers arriving was worrisome. "No matter what...I got your back." she said as she gently held his hand. There was one thing she knew, and she wasn't going to let her friends fall for something they didn't do...If they were all innocent anyway. And she tried believing they were.

The attention of two new cops walking in, two that looked... different to the others, put Soren a little on edge. It just made the whole thing feel even more real. But it reminded him that he wasn't the only one dealing with this. He squeezed her hand. "We've got each other's back. No matter... no matter what." he said. "We'll be okay. We'll be okay," he said, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. He wasn't sure if he was saying it to himself or to Erin. But he had to believe it. He had to, because the alternative didn't bear thinking about.

Erin simply nodded as Soren spoke, whether it was to reassure the both of them, her, or even just himself, she wasn't sure. But she wasn't going to question it. She didn't really know what to say or do, except hold his hand and be there for him. She looked on as the officers began questioning more of them, as the people that stood out from the normal officers began examing the room and apartment. She knew what they were looking for, any sign of anytihng out of the ordinary. She watched silently for a few minutes as the male in the suit began encrouching closer, but she noticed how he simply kept to himself and was more invested in investigating than talking to anyone. She simply shook her head and looked back at Soren, "I'm going to go check on the others, see if they're okay...Think you'll be okay for a few short minutes while I'm gone?" Erin asked, genuinely concerned and wanted to make sure if it would be okay for her to leave or if she should stay. If Soren needed her to stay and comfort her longer, she would. But she just wanted to make sure that he was okay first before she left him.

Watching the police just made Soren feel even more anxious, so he turned his attention to the ground again, trying to keep himself calm. He nodded as Erin said she was going to check on the others. "Yeah. Yeah, I'll be fine," he said. Fine was probably an overstatement, but the overwhelming panic was at least gone. It appeared to have taken a chunk of his chest with it, leaving him feeling numb and empty, but it did mean that he could probably manage by himself for a few minutes. "Go on, go make sure everyone else is okay," he said, forcing a smile. He knew they both knew it was forced, but it was better than nothing.

Erin gave him as much of a reassuring smile as she could give him as she ruffled his hair slightly. "I won't be gone for too long. If you need a place to stay tonight, you know my place is yours." she gave him a reaffirming nod before she turned to go leave and see how the others were doing. Even though it wouldn't be much of a guess, seeing how things had gone from good, to bad in a simple matter of minutes. And she doubted anyone was fairing better than Soren. Erin scanned the area to see who wasn't having to give statements, and saw that Alex was currently comforting Rebecca in the corner of the room. She turned back towards Soren and pretended to vomit before she walked over to those two to see how they were doing.

He nodded as she told him her place was his if he needed it. He was more than likely going to take her up on that offer. The thought of sleeping in an empty apartment after this... he couldn't do it. He caught a glimpse of her pretending to vomit at the sight of Lex comforting Rebecca and managed a smile, but couldn't manage much more of a reaction than that. He had no idea how long he was sitting there before the female cop came over. Nate also appeared to be beside him. Had he been there even when Erin and Soren had been talking? Had he only just sat down?

The cop introduced herself as Detective Arisa Winston and didn't waste much time in getting to business. Her manner was efficient but not totally cold. Soren ran a hand through his hair and at least tried to compose himself a little. "Soren Bowers, 25. I... Lauren is- was... my ex-girlfriend," he admitted. The wave of panic crashed over him all over again, and he had to fight to at least keep himself able to talk to her. "I was just going to get my stuff to leave when... when..." He couldn't get the words out. It still didn't seem real. It felt like a bad dream he couldn't escape from, no matter how much he tried.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Arisa Winston Character Portrait: Alexander Yang Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan

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Rebecca Cruze
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outfit : herex|xhex: #D02090
xxxYoung hearts, out our minds
xxxRunnin' 'til we outta time
xxxWild child's, lookin' good
xxxLiving hard just like we should

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Rebecca had tunnel vision just focusing on Lauren as tears came down her face. She felt someone per her shoulder and say something to her but her attention was full on Lauren, hoping she would sit up, say something, or do anything. It wasn’t until someone separates her hand from Lauren she broke out of her trance. She looked up with watery eyes make up that was starting to get runny to see Alexander. He talked about not wanting her to get in trouble for touching Lauren and that it could point fingers at her, she nodded when he spoke about staying or heading out to get some fresh air and try to calm down until the cops arrive. Rebecca saw Erin ask Soren what happened, and then say she had to call someone and stepped out. Erin was probably calling the cops. Rebecca knew now that Lauren wasn’t coming back and that police will be coming to investigate everything. Becca was helped up by Lex and lead out of the room and towards the window for some fresh air. “Th-thank you Lex… sorry you have to see me like this.” She barely whispered out to him. “Just… Lauren. She’s dead and the last thing between us was an arguement, I feel like a terrible friend… who would do this to her…” she said as some more tears rolled her eyes.

The two head back in the hallway as the cops were called and waited. Rebecca day on the floor against the wall and had her arms wrapped around her legs as she leaned into Lex who was holding her and comforting her. She had finally stopped tearing up and crying and was mostly sniffling. She looked up at Lex for a second and gave a slight smile through her runny/ruined make up, she was happy to have someone there as she was freaking out. She might have seemed more calmed down than when she saw Lauren’s dead body laying there with Soren next to her, but internally she was still freaking out and not sure what to think. Who could’ve done this, and why? Rebecca thought to herself as she was leaning her head against Lex, him just rubbing her shoulder and saying she would be okay. While thinking all of this to herself, Rebecca had be scratching and pinching her arms as a reaction to her anxiety, nerves, and emotions taken over, it wasn’t until Lex said something that she stopped, but had already marked herself up a little.

The two sat there when the first wave of cops showed up and taped up the room, well now what was the crime scene. The cops had started questing some people but left Rebecca alone as she just continued to stare into the ground and Lex letting people know she was okay and needed a minute. But once the detectives got there she knew she would have to talk to them at some point. She lightly nudged Lex and signalled she wanted to stand up, and used him to stand up and try to get ahold of herself. Becca took a look around and saw Erin talking to Soren but couldn’t make out what they were saying, and then Erin came over to her and Lex asking if they were okay.

“Y-yeah. Just, Lauren… she’s…” Rebecca was able to get through her sniffles and recovering from crying, and not wanting to say it out loud, as if not saying it will make it not true. She heard Lex say something to Erin. She saw the two detectives come out of the room and the female went up to Nate and Soren and started asking them things. Rebecca looked back at Lex and Erin when the other detective came over to talk to the three of them, asking for some basic information, small statements. “Rebecca Wilde Cruze, 24. Friend of Lauren’s… really close friend.” She said before sniffly and tearing up a little thinking about her best friend from high school being dead. Lex and Erin gave their information while Rebecca just stared at the male detective, she felt like she knew him from somewhere but wasn’t sure. She was broken from her trance when he said asked for anything else. “Oh! Soren was in the room when I saw L-Lauren. I got emotional and started to freak out so I wasn’t sure what he was doing, sorry.” She said pausing for a second before stepping forward grabbing the detectives hand. “But Soren wouldn’t hurt Lauren. He’s not that type of guy.” She said before realizing what she did and backed up, back into Lex’s embrace. The detective thanked them and left, a little awkwardly so.

Rebecca looked over at Erin. “Ri-rght? He wouldn’t kill Lauren would he?” She asked before noticing Lex looking at Khepri. Lex quietly excused himself and asked if Rebecca would like to stay with him tonight, so she wouldn’t be alone. Becca gave a small smile and nodded before Lex walked away to check on Pri, and watched him walk away before Erin got her attention. She warned Rebecca and told her to be careful. “I’ll be fine… I just don’t want to spend the night alone. You know?” Rebecca said grabbing Erin’s hand it’s both of hers. “I promise.” She said before smiling and walking over to Pri and Lex, staying quiet to let them finish talking. “I’m ready to go when you are.” She whispered to Lex, taking his arm.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Arisa Winston Character Portrait: Alexander Yang Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan

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Erin Monahan
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outfit : herex|xhex: #80000
xxxForget the horror here
xxxForget the horror here
xxxLeave it all down here
xxxIt's future rust and it's future dust


Erin nodded as Soren simply just nodded in reply to her offer for coming back to her place after. It wouldn't be much, but it was all she could really offer anyone in the moment. They were all so broken and confused, and tired. None of them knew what had happened, or why. Why was it Lauren? Why did someone have the motive to kill her out of everyone there? What would have been so bad that someone had to take another's life? She knew Lauren, and as manipulative and toxic as she was at times, she didn't deserve this. No one deserved this. Before she left she gave Soren's shoulder a gentle squeeze and then turned and left for Rebecca and Alexander. She didn't know exactly what they had been saying due to everyone talking as quietly as they could, but she figured it was about what had just transpired. No matter how strong someone was, something like this, no one was ever prepared. Things had gone so well. Aside from the small argument between Soren and Lauren earlier, everything was fine, well, as fine as it could have been. She'd make sure to talk to Soren later about it, probably tomorrow when he was in a better mindset. "Are you guys okay...?" she asked, rather rhetorical in nature, but it was the only thing she could think of to say. All she knew was that they all needed someone, and she was trying her best to keep herself together. Erin gave a sorrowful look when Rebecca began to talk, her voice low and shallow, it was obvious that she had just been crying. From either the tear-stained make-up, to the reddened eyes. She sighed softly as she sat down next to them, gently rubbing Rebecca's back as the same man from earlier slowly walked up to them.

It was obvious from the way he dressed to the badge by his hip that he was no normal cop. Police usually dress in their police uniforms, not a suit and tie. She guessed the FEDS had been called in, but why? It's not like Lauren was any person of real importance, but maybe they were needed more so than the regular officers? She didn't know, all she knew was that she'd need to give her statement, and that was it. As she looked up at him as she was finally able to get a proper look at him, something seemed familiar, yet foreign. It was weird. She couldn't exactly put her finger on it, but she saw countless people every day. She figured she had just seen him in passing and thought nothing of it in the moment. "Erin Monahan. Twenty-five. Lauren was...A good friend...She hired me as the bartender for the night." she said as she looked down for a moment, and then looked back up, "You-You don't think I poisoned her, right? You can check all of the alcohol at the bar, nothing was messed with. Besides, I have my own bar...I don't think poisoning someone would be the best way to get business, right?" she said with an awkward chuckle as she tucked some loose hair behind her ear. She cleared her throat with a simple cough as she tried to relax, and not let her anxiety take over. She looked back up as Alexander gave his information and statement, and left the two of them to do whatever he was leaving for. She gave him an annoyed look and roll of her eyes before looking back at the detective. "Anything else? I don't really remember much. I didn't see anything out of the ordinary or hear anything. All I know is that uh, Khepri had been talking to her earlier, and that they danced. That was all that I remember under I heard people scream...I was also the one that called it in..If that helps any?" she questioned, her hands were sweaty and her heart was racing. The last thing she wanted to do was lie to a cop, but she wasn't completely lying. She didn't need to tell him that she had passed out in the bathroom, and didn't remember some things in that time-frame, not like it mattered much/

The detective thanked her for their time and their statements and quickly walked away after taking some notes. He didn't say much aside from the normal routine questions, obvious that he was rather new. Erin looked back at Rebecca when they were finally alone, and offered her if she needed a place to stay, but slightly frowned when she explained that she'd be going home with Alex. She rolled her eyes, of course, he would have offered. He had a crush on Rebecca since day one, and he wasn't very subtle about it. Not like she was one to talk exactly. She simply nodded as she spoke, "Just...be careful, alright? I can't afford to lose someone else tonight..." she said as she gave Rebecca a small smile, but her eyes portrayed something else. Worry, concern, and a bit of sadness at the news of going back with someone else. But if anything happened, Erin would have a reason to lose her shit at Alex finally. She simply just gave Rebecca's hand a gentle squeeze, but not before slipping a small paper into her hand after Rebecca had clasped her hand between her's. She figured Rebecca would look at the paper later, it was simply just her phone number and a small reminder to call/text her when she wanted to talk next time. Erin silently watched as Rebecca stood up and returned to Alex and Khepri, letting them know she was ready when they were to leave. A small tinge of annoyance and possibly even jealousy slithered its way into her head as she found herself clenching her jaw in an annoyed manner. She simply just sighed and stood up and walked back over to Soren, seeing how he had also given his statement, as well as Nathan. They had been talking to the female officer that came in with the male that had asked her and the others a few questions. Erin waited for them to finish their statements, giving the blonde-haired woman a small smile and nod as she thanked them for their time and gave another small bow and apology for what had happened before she left.

Erin looked at Soren and Nathan as they sat there and gave them a small and reassuring smile, "Alright, you sad saps. Soren, you said you're coming back with me, Nate, you in or did you already decide on going with someone else? You know my offer always stands." she gave him a small smile and ruffled his hair before she helped Soren to his feet. She grabbed her jacket and put it on, feeling the pack and lighter in her pockets, she'd wait until she got outside of the complex to have another one. She needed something to calm her nerves, and if smoking didn't do it, possibly drinking until she passed out sounded like a good plan. And that would most likely be how she ended up dealing with it when they got back to her place. "Let's get the fuck out of here, shall we?" she asked as she turned and left with Soren and whoever else decided to head out with her. But before they left, she stopped by Alex, Khepri, and Rebecca. She gave them all a small nod as they passed by, "You guys know where to find us. I'll see some of you tomorrow...Hopefully." she said with another nod of her head and then proceeded to leave. That apartment was too stuffy and she needed to escape from that place. When they finally reached the bottom floor and walked out of those glass frame doors, she immediately dug into her pocket, retrieving her pack of cigarettes and lighter. Immediately, she put one between her lips as she lit it and took a very long and slow drag before she gave out a slow puff of smoke into the crisp night air. There were few things that helped her calm down, and sadly, as bad of a habit as this was, it was one of her most relied upon remedies. "Don't judge me...I've been cutting back...Sort of. Anyway, to the bar or back to the apartment? Either way, some of the good shit and drinks await us." she said as they continued down those same damn city streets that they once walked down together. Once happy and full of life and mistakes, and bad decisions. Now..Now they walked these streets with nothing but regret and brokeness...Hoping tomorrow would be a better day. That's all Erin could do, was hope. Hope that this was either all some sort of sick joke, or was all just some nightmare.








Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Alexander Yang Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan

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ALEXANDER YANG
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Ethical Hacker | Outfit | Hex: #4E3475
There is only one way to avoid criticism:
do nothing, say nothing, be nothing...

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Alexander was quietly thinking about the various things he could do in order to address the predicament Lauren's death had caused himself and the rest of the group who had gathered tonight. Lauren was guaranteed to cause drama whenever the group was together but this was something completely different from the usual, she wouldn't be here to enjoy the chaos. Sighing to himself Lex couldn't help but think Lauren is somehow a little delighted at the trouble she was causing all of them. A wistful smile began to form on his face thinking about her.

While sitting down in the hallway Lex continued to comfort Rebecca, knowing just how hurt she was after losing her best friend. He wanted to remove the pain she was feeling but he knew how much work he would have to burden himself in order to accomplish it. His secretary was already accumulating whatever they could, working with experts at Lex's company, in order to uncover what exactly happened tonight and depending on what they discover, to act accordingly. If the answer was simple enough then that would be the end of it but Lex had a feeling that whatever went down tonight was far from simple.

A number of guests had asked about his and Becca's condition. While exchanging pleasantries and noting that him and Becca were fine he noticed Erin walking towards them. Becca had nudged him to stand up, complying Lex stood up while supporting Becca making sure that she was fine. When Erin had asked them if they were okay Lex smiled slightly before looking towards her and saying, "Things could be better... Lauren always knew how liven up a party..." Lex tried to alleviate their situation with levity but he knew that nothing could really be said at this moment to ease any of their minds.

Becca was having a hard time speaking about Lauren, fumbling with her words as she was overcome with emotions. Lex would stroke her shoulder whenever she seemed to struggle, hoping that his actions were of some help to her. Looking up he saw the look in Erin's eyes which he found oddly sorrowful. It wasn't out of the question for her to have that expression, since Lauren just murdered, but there was something different there, something familiar to Lex, longing.

Not long afterwards a police officer has walked over to take their statements. Lex patiently waited as Becca and Erin gave their accounts. He noted everything they said into his mind, both Becca and Erin's accounts. Erin saying that she hadn't poisoned Lauren made Lex mentally facepalm, wondering why she would say something so unnecessary, especially while giving their official statement. When she implied the possibility of Khepri having something to do with Lauren's death, Lex couldn't help but stare daggers towards her.

When it was Lex's time to make his statement he calmed himself totally, as if he was completely removed from the situation. Turning towards the officer he said, "Name, Alexander Yang, legally documented as Yang Guowang. Age, 26. Relationship to the deceased... friend." After noting the essentials he then continued describing his account of what he had seen happen at the party, saying, "When I had arrived I had introduced myself to the hostess, Lauren, we had exchanged pleasantries before separating. During the band's performance I was in the crowd, drinking and exchanging small talk. Afterwards I went outside onto the balcony to have a cigarette, where I met Lauren again and we conversed about the party. I spent the remainder of the time talking to others in the crowd before getting a drink at the bar and hearing someone scream. When I had heard Rebecca I went towards the scene and had seen the my friend Lauren laying in a pool of blood. That's my account of the events of tonight."

Lex had left somethings out of his account: the fact that Erin had not been at the bar when the murder may have taken place, what exactly him and Lauren had talked about. Becca than talked about seeing Soren being in the room with Lauren, before shortly saying she doubted that Sor had killed Lauren, a belief they both shared. Lex and Sor's relationship hadn't been great after what had happened when the group split up years ago but he didn't believe that Sor would've murdered Lauren.

"If you need to reach me about anything concerning this case you should be able to get either in touch with me or my secretary by calling this number." Lex had given his business card to the officer after he said that. Continuing, Lex said, "I would like to extend my and my companies capabilities to assist in this investigation. As Lauren's friends we would like to find out what had happened to her... and a number of us no longer live in the country. If we will be kept from traveling out of the city it would inconvenience a lot of us, so the sooner everything is sorted out the better." The officer received the business card before walking away from them.

He heard Becca asking about whether or not Sor had murdered Lauren, before noticing Khepri. "I doubt it but until this investigation is completed... anything is possible." He turned towards Becca and said, "Your welcome to stay at my place during the investigation. I doubt that any of us will be able to leave the country before our names are cleared..." Lex smiled a little mischievously before saying, "My place is better than most hotels you'll find around here... and the room service will be exceedingly better."

Lex patted Becca on the shoulder before he turned and walked towards Khepri, saying, "Excuse me, I have something to talk to Pri about. We can do whatever you like once you've come to a decision." While walked towards Pri, Lex received a message from his secretary Tina, stating that they had gotten almost everything they could. He returned a message thanking them for their work, promising them a bonus once they obtain everything, before telling them his friend Pri would contact them soon.

Once Lex was in front of Pri he asked her, "Are you alright? You look a little shaken up." Lex listened to her response with concern visible on his face. "You need to take care of yourself... we don't need anyone else leaving us soon, especially you... We're gonna need your skills in order to get to the bottom of this, right Miss Journalist." Lex tried to keep things light but he needed to address everything he needed to, before any law enforcement overheard them. Lex slipped Pri a number before saying, "This is my secretaries number, her name is Tina. Tell her Wang sent you and she'll send you what information we had gathered about what went down tonight. I'm not going to force you into anything but... I think you and I both know we need to figure this out. Besides, breaking something like this would be great for work, right?"

Lex listened to everything Pri said before he said, "All of my resources will be available to you, you just need to say the word." He then walked up and gave Pri a hug, holding her close to him. "I don't want to lose you." Lex was about to offer Pri to stay at his place but when he thought of Becca possibly going with him tonight he was at odds with himself. He wanted to support Pri but this was one of the few chances Lex had to become closer to Becca. "I would offer my place tonight but... Becca's probably going to spend the night and I... You know how I feel about her, right? I hope you understand... After tonight you can come over, I just want to have one night."

He knew Pri was a strong and highly capable person, he saw a lot of himself in her. Lex believed that Pri would be fine but after what happened with Lauren he wasn't quite sure where she was mentally. Concerned but being driven by his desires, Lex chose Becca. Bidding Pri a goodnight he walked back towards Becca, seeing her talking with Erin. When he heard her say that she would be leaving with him, he couldn't help but genuinely smile.

Looking around the room Lex grabbed a nearby bottle of whiskey, pouring himself a drink before offering ones to both Erin and Becca. "My driver should be downstairs, we can leave now." Lex downed the remainder of his drink before he offered his hand towards Becca, holding it as they traveled down to their ride bellow. The driver was waiting outside for them, opening the door for them as they entered the limousine. When they had entered the vehicle a small gasp escaped Lex's mouth, he felt like he could finally relax after leaving that apartment. As the driver started to drive towards Lex's penthouse apartment Lex turned towards Becca and asked, "Is there anything I can do for you?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Arisa Winston Character Portrait: Alexander Yang Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan

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N a t h a n Miller
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outfit - #D6CF13
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Everything- and everyone- was just a blur of emotions, movement, noise. If you closed your eyes, you could almost imagine it was just the natural end to a party, with people lazily making their exit. Nate almost wished he could convince himself of that. There was a natural unease that came with close proximity to the dead, and an unease of law enforcement that came from experience. Nathan was uncomfortable, and he wanted to leave, but he had to stick around to give statements, and whatever else might be needed. He silently cursed himself for not leaving sooner, if he would have left when he first wanted to, instead of trying to look for his friends, he wouldn't be stuck in a suddenly stuffy apartment with a mixture of emotionally distraught and emotionally distant people. There really wasn't a more uncomfortable combination.

He always tried his best to stay out of his friend's drama (for better or worse, really), but he couldn't help but overhear pieces of conversations, and parts of the statements being taken around him. Lauren had changed everything forever. Again. While this wasn’t her fault, because Nate highly doubted she’d sat down and asked to be killed, he couldn’t help but feel a little annoyance towards her. Of course; when things weren’t going the way she wanted, she was murdered. Now nobody would be able to stop thinking, or talking, about her. It was unfair, and Nathan knew it, so he tried to shake the thoughts from his head. No matter how he’d disliked her, he didn’t want to continue to be bitter through her death, and he certainly didn’t want to blame her for her own death. Still, it was an inconvenience.

When it was time for him to give his statement, he did so with a heavy sigh and a shrug. “I’m, uh-” He licked his lips. The questions were easy enough, but he wasn't sure of how to answer them. “Nathan Miller. Twenty-six. I was,” He paused briefly, trying to collect his thoughts. What was he to Lauren? They weren’t friends. Not anymore. He didn’t seem to acknowledge the grief rising in his throat, even if it was, in that moment, evident on his face. He cleared his throat to continue, “We were… We were friends. Well, we used to be friends. It’s a long story: we were friends in, like, high school. We got along pretty well back then, but as time went on, we both changed and, well, I haven’t really spoken to her at all in… a few years, and then she invited me to this party, and I almost didn’t even come.” He shrugged, “Anyway, I was just trying to enjoy the party, and it was nice. Live band, lots of friendly people, some old friends I haven’t seen in ages, but the whole thing was a little too... “ He made a sort of vague circular gesture with his hands, “It was just a little bit classier than I guess I’m used to. But, um, I was just getting ready to leave when I heard the commotion. Was trying to track down a few friends to say goodbye to, and I sort of just walked into…” He exhaled forcefully, shaking his head almost as a way to signify that he still wasn’t sure how to process the events of the night, “A real mess, honestly.”

Nathan realized, a bit too late, that he’d probably given much more information than anyone needed, or even wanted. He nodded when Erin told him he was welcome at her place, then he sighed, “I don’t,” He interrupted himself, shrugging, “I’ll be fine. Thanks, though.” He didn’t want to tell the truth- that he didn’t think he could handle Soren right now, nor did he particularly want to. It was going to be a hell of night with those two, and all Nathan really wanted to do was go home and get some sleep. Maybe he could make sense of what had happened in the morning. Besides, none of them needed him, they all had someone to look after them, and even if they didn’t, he was pretty sure he wasn’t anyone’s first choice to of emotional support. Or, he thought so, until he saw Lex leaving with Rebecca. He sighed, silently cursing Alexander isn't he supposed to be her best friend? and walked to Khepri’s side.

“Hey,” He said, words as gentle as the hand he placed on her shoulder, “Where are you staying?” He smiled, gently, “You’ve had a rough night, I just want to make sure you get back okay.” Then, almost as a defense he held his hands up in front of his chest, as if already conceding defeat, “I know you don’t need my help, but it would make me feel better, you know.” He didn’t know what to expect from Khepri, honestly. She was normally the one trying to insist on helping him, a point that had caused just a small amount of contention between the two of them. Still, Nate had always considered Pri a friend, and she had always only been trying to help. While he knew she would probably be just fine on her own, Nate felt that she shouldn’t be going through all of this alone.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Arisa Winston Character Portrait: Alexander Yang

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soren 0 | 0 erin







As soon as the cop agreed to let Soren go, he went straight back over to Erin, still feeling as though he caught in a nightmare, making everything feel surreal and warped. He hated it. He knew he had a conversation with the rest of the band, but he couldn’t remember what he said the minute it left his lips. They left, and Soren found himself just sticking to Erin. He didn’t realise he was biting his nails until he’d bitten one of them so far down that he drew blood. But eventually, they left. He hoped the cold air might help snap him out of it. But instead, it just made it a little less horrible, but no less dreamlike. The smell of cigarette smoke made him look at Erin, but not to judge. He was almost tempted to ask for one. But the one small part of his brain that still remained functional reminded him that cigarettes were bad for his voice. It was almost enough to make him laugh. Everything was going to hell, and he was worried about his voice.

”I want to get really fucking drunk,” he mumbled in response to Erin’s question about what he wanted to do. ”I want to go back to yours and drink until I can’t remember… anything,” He wanted to feel numb, but not like he did now. He wanted to feel that hazy, stupid, free type of numb that he only felt when he was insanely drunk. And he needed to be somewhere that felt like home. And Erin’s was the only place he could think of that felt anywhere close to what he needed.

The crisp night city air helped relieve some of the stress she had been feeling prior, mixed with the chemicals that she was forcing into her lungs. Funny though, walking in the fresh night air while polluting her lungs with the toxic substance she relied so heavily on. She knew she should quit, but bad habits died hard and this was one of the few things she couldn’t let go. A golden amber glow flickered from her lips as she took another inhale and then coughed as Soren began to speak. She could tell by the look on his face before he even spoke, that for even a moment he considered asking her for one of her cigarettes. A smirk formed on Erin’s face as she held the small and burning object in her fingertips, “Trust me, pretty boy. This will kill you faster than the alcohol will. Best to not get hooked on this…shit.” she said solemnly as she took one last and final drag, feeling the smoke fill her lungs and throat for a few short seconds before she exhaled once more and crushed the cigarette butt under her boot as she pressed it into the concrete below. Erin smirked slightly as he said he wanted to go back to her place and just forget everything. Drink until they could forget, and hope that this was all some sort of dream.

A small chuckle exited her lips as she looked at him, wrapping her arm around his shoulder, “Trust me, we’re gonna get super fucked up. I have all of the drinks you could want. Besides, with it being just us two, means there’s even more.” she said with a small smile. She gave one more look behind them at the apartment complex, seeing Lex and Rebecca get into one of his cars and leave. Her eyes narrowed for a moment before shaking her head, “I don’t have a good feeling about those two being alone together...But what do I know? I only make terrible choices.” she started to say before her voice softened for a moment, “But what do I know? They can do whatever the fuck they want...Even if I don’t like it..” she muttered under her breath, partially loud enough for Soren to hear, but not enough for her to really care. It was obvious enough that she always had strong feelings for her friends, Soren knew first hand. Especially after something bad happened. The two simply continued walking down those streets as time seemed to linger on forever, much longer and daunting than it had prior. Any and all positive emotions had been sucked out from them, and the only real remedy they would have was from their old and trusty friend, alcohol. And plenty of it. Finally, after some time they arrived to a large, old stone apartment complex building. Erin ushered him along as they opened the metal barred gate which closed with a metallic thud and then lock as they closed it behind them. After having to walk up the first four flights of stairs, they arrived to the floor where her apartment was, being three doors down on the right side of the complex. Erin dug through her leather jacket’s pocket for a moment as she fished for her keys, “Sorry if this isn’t what you’re used to. But with this being Brooklyn, well...It’s more...Rustic? You remember, right?” she questioned as she opened the door and waited for Soren to enter the apartment behind her, and closed the door, making sure to lock it. “After all of this time...I never left Brooklyn. With the bar being so close to my childhood home as well as being in a part of the city I was familiar with, leaving would feel wrong, for me anyway.” she said casually as they made their way down the hallway. A large spiral staircase was at the end of the hallway which would lead to the spare room as well as the bathroom to the right, and to the left would be another way of getting to her room, which she decided would be in the small loft of the apartment that overlooked the living room. It was a rather large apartment, by no means was it a flat or penthouse, but it was large enough, especially for one or more people. Erin had preferred to live in a big enough space, just in the off chance if her friends ever needed a place to stay for a while, as well as being able to afford it due to her ties with her aunt and uncle. She shook her head as she walked into the kitchen that was in the adjacent room to the right, with the living room on the left end of the apartment and hallway.

Make yourself at home while I get everything set up. You know where everything is by now.” her voice called from within the kitchen, which too was spacious and rather rustic like the rest of the apartment. A large spacious room, with an old and cozy look due to the interior, which were old stone covering the walls with hardwood floors and small rugs of beige and light browns and grays. Erin retrieved a few glasses from the kitchen, as she held a few bottles in her arms, as well as a food bags of chips between her teeth as she shuffled from the kitchen and into the living room. Placing the cups and drinks and food on the coffee table that was next to the couch. “Before we get entirely too wasted, I’m gonna get changed out from this and get into something more comfortable. I’ll make sure to grab you something as well and you can get out of that outfit. You always were one for that extra look.” Erin said with a small smile as she left the room by the staircase in the living room and disappeared from view as she went into the loft for a few short minutes. She came back dressed in a plain black t-shirt and gray sweatpants, tossing Soren his own t-shirt and sweatpants. For him, she grabbed him one of her old band graphic t’s and black sweatpants. It was a wild guess that they would comfortably fit, but they’d be better than nothing. Erin sat down on the couch with one of her feet tucked under her body as she pulled out a small bag and some paper, placing them down on the coffee table as she prepared the drinks, “I don’t know about you, but I plan on more than just drinking. You can join me if you want, but it’s entirely up to you. No pressure to smoke, as always.” she said casually as she began to pour some of his and her favorite drinks. She knew how hammered he’d want to be, and she would make sure he got what he wanted, even if he would regret it the next day. She handed him a small shot glass, as she grabbed her own and held it in the air, “To all of our bad decisions. Both past and future ones. Also...I missed you, Sor...It’s good to see you again.” she said with a small smile as gave him a small side hug, placing her head against his for a moment before she gave him one more salute with the small glass and took their first shot of the night. The first of many for the two.

He didn’t much like the look of Lex and Becca leaving together either. But he didn’t comment on it, Erin seeing troubled enough by it. Rebecca was a big girl, he was sure she could handle herself. The walk back to Erin’s apartment was silent, neither of them feeling much like talking. He managed a smirk and a chuckle as Erin apologised for her apartment not being what he was used to. “Erin, I’m just back off tour, what I’m used to right now is a tiny ass van that we took shifts in driving. Maybe a not-so-terrible motel room if we’re really splashing out,” he remarked. It had been a while since he’d been back to her apartment. In fact, it was probably only the second time he’d been here, and most of his memories of the first time was Erin yelling at him over the pounding headache of a hangover after the last time he’d been in New York. After he’d slept with Lauren again.

Lauren.

Even just thinking about her felt like a kick to the chest. How could this be happening? How? How could it have happened, just like that?

Erin reappeared with drinks and snacks, dumping them on the small coffee table before saying something about getting changed and getting something for him to wear. He’d almost forgotten what he was wearing. He was perfectly comfortable as he was, but he still appreciated the change of clothes. Maybe then things would feel a little more real. Or at least, like it had all just been a terrible dream and things were like old times.

He stepped into the bathroom briefly to change after Erin tossed the clothes to him. The sweatpants were a little short, but the t-shirt was at least a good fit. He sat cross-legged on her couch as she poured them drinks. She could still remember what he liked, even after all this time.

He shrugged as she said she was going to smoke. “Nah, think I’m good, but thanks.” He managed a smile as she leaned against him after her toast, giving him a small hug. “It’s good to see you again. Wish it was under different circumstances, though,” he said, before clearing his throat. “To the worst decisions we can make.” He downed the shot, the burn in his throat welcome.

He lost track of time and shots and drinks. His head was a swirling, tilting mess, and he loved it. Everything seemed a little less terrible. Everything seemed a little more fun.

“I missed everybody, you know,” he slurred, swirling another drink in his glass. “You and Rebecca and Nate and Kyle and… well, not Alexander. Fuck him. But everyone else. I love you guys,” he said, half leaning, half falling on top of Erin and wrapping her in a hug.

The two of them had become an absolute mess of alcohol and drugs, well, Erin became the mess of the two as Soren simply stayed to the drinks. Her vision was somewhat blurry and her mind was a slush of thoughts, albeit they were somewhat blurring together. She decided to finally lay off of the smoking halfway through as she could feel the alcohol canceling out the high. What was the point if she couldn’t exactly enjoy it. By the time that Soren had spoken up once more, they had both done nothing but drink one after the other. Would they regret it in the morning? Yes, but was it worth as an attempt to forget the reality of their situation? In the moment, yes. And that was all that they cared about. Just escape reality for even just a moment, a moment of hoping this was all some sick joke.

Erin was alone in her own drunken thoughts when Soren spoke up once more, his words slurred together but not to the point of where she couldn’t understand him. At least not yet. She had years of practice, and was always one of the few people that could understand his drunk ramblings. She looked up at him when he began saying that he missed everyone, except for Alex. All she really could do was limply nod her head in agreement at his statement. That was until he leaned over and gave her a hug, which caused her to almost fall over and off of the couch, causing her to catch herself somehow and push themselves back up. All the while laughing. No matter how long they went without talking, Erin always had Soren’s back, and he had her’s. They had been childhood friends the longest in the group, and nothing would change that. “I missed you too, Soren. Hell, I missed everyone…” she retorted, her words slurred slightly, but she wasn’t entirely drunk as Soren, not yet anyway. “After everything happened, and everyone kind of just...left...First Kyle, then you...and then some of the others, it was...lonely. Sure I had Nate and Lauren, but like. We didn’t really talk that much until after a while. And you know the rest.” she said as she took another shot, the burn never really faded or became less intense, it was just that she had grown accustomed to it. Pouring herself and Soren another drink, clearing her throat as she handed a glass to Soren, she began talking once more. “As for everyone that left, I had some contact, like you. And even Khepri, but that’s...That’s different. But until today, I hadn’t talked to Rebecca since she left that day and well...Kyle...I still don’t know where he is or what he’s even doing. Doubt I ever will.” she said rather solemnly, giving herself a moment before she took the next shot and put the empty glass on the table, “You wanna make some super stupid decisions, Sor?” she asked as she slowly stood up, her legs wobbling for a moment as she regained her composure enough to see straight.

This was what he had missed the most about New York. Him and Erin getting stupidly drink and talking the real talk. Even if the conversation veered into the depressing, they were still at least talking. And things felt strange, felt dreamlike, but in the alcohol clouded way that felt good. So when Erin asked if he wanted to make some stupid decisions, he just grinned. “Abso-fucking-lutely,” he said, getting to his feet. He, however, did not regain his composure as well as Erin and stumbled, having to grab her to regain his balance. This was enough to make him crack up all over again. “What should we do? What’s the dumbest decision we could possibly make right now?” He asked. “Nope. Not the dumbest. Don’t let me text Pri.” He corrected himself.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Arisa Winston Character Portrait: Alexander Yang Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan

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SOREN BOWERS
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outfit : herex|xhex: #575772
xxxremember the words you told me
xxxlove me till the day i die
xxxsurrender my everything cause
xxxyou made me believe you're mine

Soren couldn’t remember most of what he and Erin got up to that night. In fact, the couldn’t remember much after the shot, and had no memory of their conversation about missing each other. But given the state they woke up in, and the stinging of a new tattoo on his right wrist told him that he wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to remember.

He couldn’t quite remember what came first- the text about the memorial service or the police interview. Everything felt like a dream; except for the moments when everything suddenly felt like it was going to crush him, like he was drowning in the air around him. He’d been going to Erin’s when he couldn’t bear to be alone or when he needed to drown his sorrows, but she didn’t know about the panic attacks. They only came when he was alone. And besides, she was finding it hard too. She didn’t need him to worry about too. But both of those incidents had brought on an attack, one that had left him sobbing alone in his apartment. He’d agreed to attend the memorial service. And when Lauren’s parents had asked him to read one of her favourite poems, he didn’t have it in him to say no. As far as they knew, they’d broken up on relatively okay terms, and he wasn’t going to break it to them now.

The police interview had gone about as well as could be expected. He’d been honest, but they didn’t seem too convinced. But they didn’t have anything concrete, so they’d just warned him to stick around in case they needed to ask any more questions. The band didn’t have any commitments for a few weeks because they needed a break after their Europe tour. He was assured he had management on his side, but he wondered how long that would last.

He’d arrived to the hotel early to help Lauren’s parents get set up. It was Lauren’s favourite hotel in NYC, and they had some drinks and canapés out for people to graze on as they arrived. He’d had to escape to the bathroom for a breather twice already, and he’d only been here forty minutes. He’d spent the past ten minutes avoiding conversation and trying to steel himself for small talk. The reminder on his wrist wasn’t doing all that much to help. He had a vague memory of just yelling “I want an MCR tattoo” at Erin when he really dwelt on it, which explained the three short words. “We’ll Carry On.” It felt oddly poignant, all things considered. He tugged at his sleeve, his new nervous habit since he couldn’t bite his nails any more, because it was painful to do so and he kept drawing blood. He couldn’t ignore the guests anymore. He picked up a glass of something and took a deep breath.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Arisa Winston Character Portrait: Alexander Yang Character Portrait: Ashleigh Myerson Character Portrait: Lauren Clark Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan

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N a t h a n Miller
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outfit - #D6CF13
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The days between the party and the funeral blurred together in Nate's mind. There was always something to do, always seemed to be someone who needed him (he would always be there for his friends, of course, all they had to do was ask), and he had- for some reason- offered to pick up the some of the slack at the bar for Erin. Once things calmed down, he would have to ask her to never let him take on any extra responsibilities again. He felt overwhelmingly stressed, and desperately wished for his life to return to some sort of normal. His police interview had gone fine, he thought, but the whole thing made him nervous. He didn't have much faith in the police: his experiences were of them not believing him, and ignoring most of what he said. He didn't care about not being able to go far: he'd never left the city, anyway.

When he got the text about the funeral, he had honestly considered blowing it off. He and Lauren hadn't been close enough to be considered friends in a couple of years, and he knew it would feel strange to be there. He'd feel like someone showing up, pretending to be upset over something that, had he not been there the night she died, wouldn't have bothered him enough to take more than a moment out of his day. Your friends will need you there. He told himself, knowing that should have been enough to get him to agree to go without hesitation. He wondered, though, how much they really needed him. Every last one of them seemed to be doing just fine, and he felt like he was stuck in the past.

He knew he needed to go, though, and he even dressed up as much as he could. There was no way he was wearing a tie, or even a collared shirt (not that he even owned one), but he did his best to be appropriately dressed for the occasion. Everyone might have even been impressed, had he showed up on time.

But there he was, notification on his phone, barely readable through the cracked screen, Lauren's funeral starting in now. He was still a few minutes away. He started walking a little faster, and tried to take in his appearance as he did so. He had dirt all over his clothes, and a brand new rip in his pants, right on the left knee. He sighed, angrily, having really wishing his day had gone more like he'd planned it. He stopped, right outside the hotel, and tried to brush himself off; clean up a little. But he felt like he'd only made it worse. He caught a glimpse of himself in the reflection of the doors: his hair was a mess, he was sweaty, he looked like he'd gotten in a fight.

He tried to sneak in quietly, as he could hear that the service was begging, but he felt eyes on him as he slipped into the back row. He quickly found a seat and slouched down, as if trying to appear small. He tried to avoid making eye contact with anyone and briefly wondered if it would have been better if he hadn't come at all.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Arisa Winston Character Portrait: Alexander Yang Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan Character Portrait: Cassandra Heiks

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Agent Cassandra Heiks
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outfit : herex|xhex: #085721
xxxGot a jail on my heart from the pessimists
xxxGot those nails in my mouth for impressionists
xxxSpent too much money on a therapist
xxxCouldn't fix me, I accepted it

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The third agent had landed in New York only a couple days ago but quickly got to work to catch up on the case, Agent Cassandra Heiks. Her previous precinct had sent her along to help Agent Winston and Agent Monahan, but also to get her out of their hair, a couple days after they reported back about the quick murder, Cass was interested and asked to go, hasnt been anything fun for awhile for her to work with, plus she just got done being undercover. In her mind this would be an interesting and fun assignment, and she thought easy. Well that was until she got to there and saw what they were working with.

Cass had checked out all the evidence tagged by the first team, read over the statements that were taken, as well as pictures of the crime scene. She wanted to talk to the other two that she would be working miss but somehow always missed them, so she decided to dig through all the current suspect’s files and histories. Soren, the ex, who most people thought did it, but that’s too cliche. Rebecca, the best friend, first time back in the country and had a bad car accident awhile back, but she was ruled not at fault. Erin, the bartender, has am unofficial criminal record only some know about, and told the cops she didn’t do it, smart. Nathan, the deadbeat, nothing to gain, but also nothing to lose. Alexander, the rich boy, seemed to have an affair with the victim at the same time, caused the break up with the ex, maybe some sort of jealousy or fight happened. Khepri, the reporter, small fly on the publicity scene and could use the story to make herself big, and Cass doesn’t like reporters.

Cassandra tried investigating a little bit off the record, but didn’t find much so she decided to try to hunt down her fellow Agents and see what they know that isn’t written down, luckily Agent Monahan was easy to track down and assumed he would maybe stop by the service. It was mentioned in the paper the location and time so wasn’t hard to find. She decided to not show up a little late after getting herself a coffee, and sticking towards the back before noticing Kyle towards the back and trying to stay out of sight, though Cass didn’t care.

“Well, well, Look who it is.” Cassandra said as she came up from the side of Kyle and giving him a light slap on the ass. “Been awhile since we worked together. Interesting bunch of suspects we have don’t you think. Especially your sister…” She said with a smirk before leaning against the wall and starting a scan of the room. “Well, the killer always shows up at these things, come on Ky. Plus wanted to see if there’s anything else you can tell me that’s not on paper.” She replied to Kyle’s question and taking a sip of her coffee, before something caught her eye. A female had some markings on her neck, but right as Cass was going to point them out to Kyle, not sure if he saw them, the girl put her scarf back on. “That’s Rebecca Cruze, right? Next to your sister. She has some markings on her neck beneath her scarf. Your reports didn’t mention any type of injuries like that…” She mentioned to her fellow Agent. Wanting to question Rebecca, but knew this wasn’t the place or the time, maybe later. Cassandra then scanned and took note of their other suspects and the states they were in.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Alexander Yang Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan Character Portrait: Cassandra Heiks

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SOREN BOWERS
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outfit : herex|xhex: #575772
xxxremember the words you told me
xxxlove me till the day i die
xxxsurrender my everything cause
xxxyou made me believe you're mine

xxx

As soon as Soren turned around and spotted Khepri, he nearly turned around and walked back out again. He couldn’t stand the thought of an argument with her right now. Even if they hadn't spoken yet, he just knew today would be one of those days where if they spoke, it would end in a blazing row. So instead, he just drained his glass and turned his back, striking up a combination with somebody else instead. He’d just gotten the beckon from Lauren’s parents to say it was nearly time to begin when Rebecca burst in, running straight to Erin. At first, Soren just thought she was upset, given the event they were attending. And then he looked at how disheveled she was and the look of panic on her face. Something had happened. He went to follow them out of the room, but instead, another one of Lauren’s old friends or co-workers or somebody who knew him well enough to know that he was her ex, but not well enough to know how bad things had been.

By the time he escaped, there were too many people for him to slip out and check on Becca. He glanced back for a moment to see her and Erin coming back in, and shot them a forced smile. He dug out his phone and texted Erin.

To: Erin
“Everything okay with Becca?”

Then the service started, with the minister introducing them with a prayer. This wasn’t a funeral. The body hadn’t been released yet for them to bury. But people had to travel home, had commitments, just wanted to move on. And so it still felt like a funeral, a lump rising in Soren’s throat. This had been a mistake. Agreeing to any of this had been a mistake. Coming back to New York had been a mistake.

He somehow managed to keep his composure until he was called to read the poem. He managed to stand to the lectern, his hands shaking as he put the poem on it in front of him. He shouldn’t have been doing this. This wasn’t his to do. Everybody thought they’d remained on good terms and he was lying to everyone, he was lying to everyone in the room. He couldn’t do this.

He somehow made it through the poem. He had no idea how he did, and he had no idea how he did it so well, somehow managing not to stammer or stumble over the words. But as he finished, he couldn’t just go back to his seat and sit there politely and hear everyone talk about her. So he stayed walking, stayed walking until he was out of the room, stayed walking until the familiar feeling of the wave crashed over him and he sank to the floor in heaving, choking sobs. Lauren was dead. Had somebody attacked Becca? Nate looked like he’d been in a fight when he came in. Had somebody gone for him too? Was it a matter of time before people were attending their memorial service? Or would Soren be hearing about it from jail after they pinned the murder on him? He pressed his fist to his mouth in an attempt to stop the sobs or at least muffle them. He didn’t know if he wanted to be found or not. He didn’t know if he wanted a hug or to be left alone to drown in the isolation and the fear and the panic.

He needed to go back before people started to worry. Would anyone worry? Should he wait, just to know for sure? Know if anybody cared for the man they were convinced had killed their beloved Lauren? Should he find out for sure?

No, that wasn’t right either. They didn’t need to worry about him, they all had too much to deal with. They’d lost her, and they had loved her, and they were in enough pain without him to deal with.

The weight of his own indecision, his own fear, kept him pinned to the ground where he was sitting, still sobbing, still gasping for air.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Alexander Yang Character Portrait: Lauren Clark Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan Character Portrait: Cassandra Heiks

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Rebecca Cruze
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outfit : herex|xhex: #D02090
xxxYoung hearts, out our minds
xxxRunnin' 'til we outta time
xxxWild child's, lookin' good
xxxLiving hard just like we should

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Rebecca stayed cuddled up next to Erin as the service continued, putting her scarf back on to try to cover up any bruising she might have, not exactly wanted people to ask too many questions at the time. She stayed quiet and had a couple sniffles in between everyone’s speeches and talks. Becca had closed her eyes a little after Soren had read his poem and started to zone out as more people continued to talk about who Lauren was and what type of person she was, all of it positive and most of it ignoring the bad part about Lauren.

It wasn’t until Erin nudged Becca that she came back to what was going on. Rebecca was being called to come up and say some things. People knew Lauren and her were close during her time in New York and she had forgotten she had told Lauren’s parents she would say some things. Her mother and father knew about Lauren’s lifestyle and how she would party and her attitude, but they still loved her and were taking this whole situation. Rebecca took a deep breathe and stood up with some help from Erin and slowly walked up to the podium, adjusting her jacket and scarf and wiping her eyes a little.

Rebecca stood infront of the podium and looked at all that were here and smiling to see a her friends faces, Nate, Pri, as well as other friends and family of Lauren. She took a deep breath before talking. “Hello, as most of you I’m Rebecca Cruze, and at one time Lauren’s best friend.We all knew Lauren in our own ways, while she wasn’t perfect, she was who she was and many of us bonded over her. I remember first meeting her when I got to high school as a freshman and met Lauren and took me under her wing, giving me the best years of high school I could ask for. She’s the reason I changed my middle name to Wilde to remember the good times. Some people couldn’t handle who Lauren was, but she knew this and accepted it. I regret not keeping in contact with her more, but she was never forgotten while I was away and will continue to never be forgotten even though she is gone…” Rebecca trailed off, in between wiping her tears before walking down the stage.

As Rebecca walked back to her seat a familiar figure caught her eye, the same detective that had questioned her, Erin, and Lex was here, though in more casual wear. Though he wasn’t alone, he had another woman with him, different than the one at the crime scene, and she had more of the cop look to her, both were eyeing the crowd and had eyes on Becca as she took her seat next to Erin. “The cops are here…” She whispered to Erin, not sure if she had noticed. “I don’t know why they won’t just leave us alone.” She continued, laying her head on Erin’s shoulder.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan Character Portrait: Cassandra Heiks

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SOREN BOWERS
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outfit : herex|xhex: #575772
xxxsomewhere in between
xxxwho i used to be
xxxand who i'll be tomorrow
xxxwhen the champagne blows my mind

xxx
The days after the memorial service were hard. The panic attacks kept coming, and they were getting harder and harder to hide. He wasn't sleeping, was hardly eating unless someone reminded him to, had even stopped going around to Erin's to drink. Everybody thought he had done it. He knew it. He could see it in their eyes when they looked at him. Their expressions had shifted from one of pity to one of vague disgust. They knew it but there was no proof. Everything they had on him was circumstantial. But everything clearing him was also circumstantial. It was only a matter of time and he could feel the imposing threat looming over him.

Eventually, one of his bandmates came round to check in on him. Having found Soren on hour 39 of no sleep, he physically drove Soren to his doctor's office. Soren emerged from the doctor's office with a cocktail of sleeping tablets and anti-anxiety medication and an order to come back in a few days for therapy sessions. Soren didn't want to do any of the above, but the medication at least made him feel human enough to get through the therapy session. He'd had two sessions by the time the dinner party came around. The dinner party was less his idea and more of a "suggestion" from his therapist that felt more like an order. But having other people around made him feel a little less terrible, so he agreed.

But when the morning finally rolled around, things didn't play out exactly as he'd hoped. Because he woke up to a call from the cops, asking him to go back into the station for an interview. He begrudgingly agreed and went in as soon as he was dressed. He hoped it was a technicality, something they just needed to clear up.

He was sorely mistaken. They’d gone through Lauren’s phone, and they’d found… well. He had no idea how she’d gotten them. Lauren was smart, but she wasn’t exactly a hacker. But it didn’t matter. The police had thought they had him. They thought they’d found a motive. But two things put doubt in their mind. First of all, they’d crossmatched his DNA with DNA found under Lauren’s fingernails, and it wasn’t a match. Other witness statements aligned with his in that Lauren had been seen alive after he’d left the room. And their behavioural expert had confirmed that his reaction to seeing the photos was that of somebody discovering that for the first time.

But he couldn’t get the photos out of his head. Lauren had had those for weeks. She could have done anything she liked with them. So why had she kept them? What had she planned to do with them? He shouldn’t have kept the photos. They gave too much away, gave too much, but… it was a reminder that he had been happy. That good things could still happen.

He got home and wanted to do nothing more than just… try and deal with the aftermath of this. But instead, he was faced with an afternoon of cooking and prep. He tried to carry on as normal, but quickly found himself getting overwhelmed. So he rang Rebecca, who agreed to come over. The minute she saw his face, she sat him down, told him to relax, and took over some of the prep as he talked. He told her everything. How could he not? He told her about his morning, about the photos, about everything that had happened. And it didn’t make it go away, but it made it feel a little more manageable, calm enough to help her with the prep.

It was only when he looked at his watch to discover that everyone else was arriving soon and realised he was still a bit of a mess, physically and mentally. “Shit, Rebecca. I need to get changed, I need to… I need to tidy up the place… Shit, I need to take my meds…” he said, jumping to his feet and running a hand through his hair.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze

0.00 INK

Rebecca Cruze
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outfit : herex|xhex: #D02090
xxxYoung hearts, out our minds
xxxRunnin' 'til we outta time
xxxWild child's, lookin' good
xxxLiving hard just like we should

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Rebecca kept her head on Erin’s shoulder as Erin told her not to mind the cops and to ignore them. The rest of the funeral nothing much happened and people began to leave, some tried to talk to Becca and Erin but she gave short answers, as well as Erin comforting her. “Erin… Can you walk me back to my hotel? I’m… I don’t want to go alone.” Rebecca asked as the two walked through the lobby and outside, though she was surprised when Erin offered to just come back and stay at her place, since it was closer and the two wouldn’t be lonely. Becca thought about it for a second before giving a small nod and Erin wrapped her arm around her and the two walked back to her place, she replied to most of Erin’s conversations with light mumbles and squeezing her hand in reply.

As the two finally entered the apartment, Becca quickly sat down on the couch and cuddled up in a blanket exhausted not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. She took off the scarf and the marks around her neck were a little bit more red now. “I like the place… homey feel…” She muttered as she looked around and back at Erin as she brought her a change of clothes. She kicked off her shoes and placed her jewelry down on the end table. Rebecca turned around so her back was to Erin as she took off the dress and undid her bra, before slipping on the t-shirt and sweatpants that was brought to her, as well as letting her hair down.

When Rebecca turned around, she saw Erin had already poured the two of them some alcohol. “You always know how I feel and want to cope ‘Rin.” Becca said showing a slight smile looking at the two glasses, but ultimately just grabbing the bottle and taking a swig. This was a the start to a busy night of drinking of Becca just wanting to forget.

Fast forward a couple hours, and it wasn’t long until the two got remorseful about the missed times with the group and they missed everyone, along with some mistakes. “Yeah… I missed everyone as well, you too Erin, like a lot. You were always my favorite drink specialist back then…” Becca said as she took another swig and coughing a little as the burning liquid went down her throat. She always like Erin a little bit more than someone who made her drinks, felt a little bit more than just friends. Rebecca started to blush a little as Erin said she was on her mind, looking away trying to hide her redness as she took another swig, feeling more tipsy but looser as she continued. “T-thanks…” Becca said under breathe.

The two continued to talk and Rebecca found herself staring at Erin, not really listening to what she was saying but admiring her. Her eyes started at her deep eyes but glazed across her beautiful face and defining features. Becca’s eyes rested on Erin’s lips for a little bit before something happened. Rebecca had impulsively interrupted Erin while she was talking, not entirely sure what she was talking about, but she didn’t interrupt her with words or a drink, but with her lips against hers. Becca had scooted closer and closer to Erin as the two talked and was barely a foot away when she practically threw herself against Erin and kissing her. The kiss felt like it lasted forever and like the connection she had always felt was energized and flowing. But Becca quickly backed off and apologized for what she did, not sure how Erin would react. “Oh! I’m sorry! I shouldn’t have. I acted impulsely…”


A cute small smile came across Becca’s face as Erin finally spoke up after the long pause between them, saying she didn’t mind this. Rebecca slowly looked back at Erin. Does this mean… she returns my feelings??? she thought back to herself, but not saying out loud. Rebecca instead just crawled back over to Erin and ran her hand through her hair,climbing into her lap and kissing her again, deeper and longer this time, and more than just lips.

Rebecca was then surprised when she felt Erin pull back and resist a little bit, basically saying they were drunk and shouldn’t be doing this. But… I’m not just drunk… I feel this way… she thought to herself, but Erin seemed pretty adamant on this. Rebecca crawled back and wrapped herself in the blanket as she finished her drink. “I’m sorry… I think I should just go to sleep.” Becca said as she went to lay down on the couch., but Erin quickly offered her own bed for her and that she would sleep in the guest bedroom. She wanted to decline and insist she didn’t have to do that for her, but at this point she just wanted to go to sleep and move on from her mistake.


The next morning Becca woke up slowly and with a headache. She groaned as she rolled over and got up, rubbing her head as she walked over to Erin’s bathroom. As she was washing her hands she thought about yesterday and last night, staring into the mirror. The attack on her life, the funeral service where all it did was bring Becca more down seeing everyone hurting, everyone being affected by Lauren’s death and the circumstances of it. The cops wouldn’t even release the body, had to keep it for more possible evidence. Evidence of her murder.

As Rebecca was looking into the mirror a small little bottle caught her eye, and something in her mind switched. She didn’t know why, or what made her think the thoughts that were flowing through her head, but she acted on it without much thought, not thinking about what others would think. Becca slowly walked over and locked the door to the bathroom before grabbing the bottle and digging through some more cabinets for the rest of what she would need to do what she wanted to do. No, what she needed to do.






Rebecca Cruze
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outfit : herex|xhex: #696969
xxxI act like I don’t fuckin care,
xxxLike they ain’t even there,
xxxI act like I don’t fuckin care,
xxxCuz I’m so fuckin scared,

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Hours passed, all the time Erin kept trying to check up on her and she just replied with the same answer, maybe rephrased differently; “I’m fine.” “Leave me alone.” “I’ll be out when I want to be.” and others like that. She cleaned up as much as she could after what she had done, she might not care right now, but didn’t want Erin too mad at her. It wasn’t until the door unlocked and she stepped out, as a new Rebecca

“Don’t ask me… I’m going back to my hotel. I’ll talk to you later.” Rebecca quickly said as she exited the bathroom and Erin approached her, giving her a compliment saying the new look fits her, but Rebecca just ignored it. “I don’t need you to walk me, I’m fine.” She continued as she grabbed the pile of her stuff, but still wearing the clothes Erin let her change into. On her way out Becca grabbed a hoodie off the rack. “I need to borrow this.” She said as she left some money by the table next to the door before quickly walking out.

Rebecca held tightly onto her things as she began the walk back to her hotel, not caring about what’s going on and not apologizing for the few times she bumped into people and continuing towards her destination. Usually she would be lively and talking to people, taking in her sights and maybe stopping in a store or two, but right now she just felt like she wanted to get home, well at least her empty hotel room, so she could just be alone away from everyone, she would just go back to London if she could. And the next few days Rebecca did just that, staying alone in her hotel room, only going out for food. And when her friends would try to message her and check in with her, she would reply with short messages at the start of the day and not message much until the next day when they would message her again.

It had been a few days since the attack, since the funeral service, since the night at Erin’s, and her phone rang. Becca stared at it for the first couple rings and was just gonna let it go to voicemail like all the other calls and then reply to it later via text, but seeing it was Soren this time who usually wasn’t one for phone calls, she decided to answer it. He sounded very distressed and practically begged her to come over. Rebecca had heard about the dinner party he was throwing and debating whether ongoing or not, but Soren needed her right now, and while she might not feel like caring about herself, he was still her friend.

Soren opened the door and Rebecca could tell something was wrong, something wasn’t right. She kept the same serious look on her face with a tad of sadness while she sat him down and told him she would help prep for the dinner party. She moved some stuff out of the way and seeing some medications on the counter next to the sink and sighing as moved them. But what Soren said next took most of Rebecca’s attention. The cops had questioned and thought it was Soren and brought him in because of some blackmail Lauren had on him, to force him to get back with her, along with whatever other evil ideas she would have. But there was also the information that Soren was cleared by the police after the questioning with new evidence being brought forward. People had seen Lauren after her argument with Soren, which could be someone could have seen the killer. Though Soren quickly interrupted himself as she said he needed to get dressed before people showed up and just let him excuse himself. Becca stayed in the kitchen trying to finish up everything Soren had started, but felt like she needed something more to relax, a drink. She quickly made herself a drink, but thought back to Soren and made him a drink.

As Soren came out of his room changed, Rebecca flashed a small smile and handed him the drink she prepared for him. “This should help you relax… It’s gonna be helping me.” She said as she drank hers, waited for people to show up. Hopefully this get together won’t be as drama filled like Lauren’s party...

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze

0.00 INK





Erin Monahan
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outfit : herex|xhex: #80000
xxxI scare myself
xxxWith the way that I need you
xxxThere's no one else
xxxTell me that you can feel it too


The funeral had gone by in a blur for the most part, as Erin was lost in her own thoughts. It wasn't happening, right? None of this was actually happening, and she'd wake up from some fucking nightmare and Lauren would be back, and everyone would be living their normal lives again, right? It just, couldn't be real. None of this made sense. None. This all just felt off and didn't feel right. None of it felt right. She was taken out of her thoughts when Rebecca came back from giving her small speech and mentioned something about the cops. She barely had to peer out from the corner of her eyes to see them standing there in the back. She simply sighed and looked at Rebecca giving her a small bit of advice, "Just ignore them. They're not here to bother anyone." she said softly. The rest of the service went by quickly and they sat in silence, taking in everything best as they could. After giving their small goodbyes to the others as Erin and Rebecca began to leave, Rebecca had looked at Erin and asked if she'd walk her back to the hotel. Erin thought for a moment before she spoke up, "I can, but if you want my place is open. It's closer than the hotel, and you wouldn't have to be left by yourself." she said with a small smile as she gave her offer. She had a feeling that Rebecca wouldn't accept the offer, and she'd be okay with that. All she really wanted was for Rebecca to know she had someplace safe to go to if she so desired.

Not much to her surprise, Rebecca had agreed to accompany her. Smiling in return, Erin gently kept her arm wrapped around her waist, holding her hand as they left the funeral service, and began to make their way back to her apartment. The walk back was almost silent, aside from when Erin had asked her some questions which were responded to by minor responses. Which, in turn, had made Erin feel even worse about it all. She could barely make herself feel better, nevermind someone else and it made everything else feel way worse than she could have planned. All that mattered was that she tried to be there for someone, even if her coping mechanisms weren't, the best or most healthy. After an almost entirely silent walk back to her apartment, they finally made their way past the main gate and into the complex. Erin helped Rebecca make her way up to the stairs, and onto the proper floor of the apartment, and made their way down the hallway which lead to the door of her apartment. Shuffling through her jacket's pocket for a moment, Erin finally got her keys and unlocked the door, holding it open for Rebecca to make her way in before she walked in herself and closed the door, locking it behind them. "Make yourself at home while I get everything ready." she said with a small smile when Rebecca complimented the apartment. "Thank you." she called out as she put their coats away.

Erin made her way to her room for a moment, disappearing from Rebecca's point of view as she went to go look for some clothes for them to change into. Erin changed into a pair of dark grey sweatpants, and a plain black graphic t-shirt from one of the band concerts she had been to in the past. She came back with a similar set of clothes for Rebecca to change into as she prepared the drinks. Erin turned around to offer Rebecca a drink, to only see her in the midst of getting dressed, only in a simple pair of underwear as she put on a shirt and her sweatpants. Erin simply turned back around and took one of the shots she had prepared for them, trying to calm herself down as she could feel herself turning several shades of red. After taking a deep breath and calming herself down, she turned back to see if Rebecca was done, and she finally was. A small smile creased her lips as she gestured to the drinks, they were simple start off shots, nothing fancy for now. Normally she would have been surprised by the fact that Rebecca had gone for the bottle instead of one of the shots, but all considering the circumstances, she understood and simply gave a small chuckle in return as she took one of the shots again.

After hours of random banter, and drinks, which soon turned into drunken banter and conversations Erin found herself beginning to finally feel trashed from the amount of alcohol they had consumed. Erin and Rebecca exchanged how they felt about how everything had gone down between the group, and how it split and how everyone just went about their own lives. Some leaving, while others stayed. It was something she never really liked talking about. How she felt about missing everyone, even though she kept how she truly felt about it all to herself. It wasn't anyone else's burden to bare but her own. A small smirk and chuckle escaped her lips when Rebecca gave her small piece of having missed her, and that she was her favorite drink mixer. Something she knew, but didn't entirely miss hearing, but always found it funny how it was something she always went to. "So I heard, glad that you liked them so much, even if I have improved since then." she said, her words slurring between her stuttering and taking more drinks as she talked.

Erin sighed as she sat back for a moment, looking up at the ceiling as she found herself rambling on in her drunken stupor, "Ya know...Even after you left, and after everything that happened. Not a day went by that, that you weren't on my mind. I mean, I thought about everyone and wondered what they did or were doing but..I always wondered what you were up to, ya know? Like...I didn't know if you were mad at me or not. I just wasn't sure if you ever-" she was cut off from her rambling as she had sat up some as she suddenly found Rebecca interrupting her rambling as everything seemingly stopped in time. All she knew, was that one moment she was rambling on, and then the next she had been silenced. It took her a solid minute to realize what had happened, causing her brain to almost stop as everything halted. Erin blinked in utter confusion as Rebecca moved away apologizing for kissing her on impulse. A small smile creased her lips as she chuckled, combing her fingers through her own hair as she couldn't help but blush as she tried her best to say something, anything as her brain had practically imploded. "It's okay...I-I didn't mind it. I just, wasn't expecting it, is all." she stuttered out, trying her best to piece realty back together again as her brain tried its best to work. Silently she tried to rewire her brain to say more or at least do something than just sit there in her stupid state, but the only thing that brought her back to reality was the newly added weight to her lap and caress through her hair as Rebecca got closer to her again. Erin was simply only able to blink and give a small smile before Rebecca had kissed her once more. But this time it was more intimate than before. Her heart began to race loudly in her chest as she could feel the alcohol take a hold of her and her thoughts. Normally she would have opposed, as well as wouldn't have encouraged it. But this time, if it wasn't just the alcohol speaking, Erin wouldn't entirely oppose this moment. But she could feel her resolve and her control slowly slipping away the longer the kiss went on. She didn't want things to escalate farther than they should, as the last thing she'd want to do is ruin things between the two of them, as well as become yet another person's drunken regret.

Erin found herself gently separating the two of them as she gently pushed Rebecca a few inches away by the shoulder, turning her head to the side as the kiss was broken. Giving herself a moment before she began speaking again, "I-We can't, Becca...N-not now. Not while this drunk, please.." she said as she gently caressed Rebecca's cheek for a moment as she looked in her eyes. Erin watched as Rebecca moved to the opposite side of the couch away from her, wrapping herself in a blanket. She sighed as Rebecca said she should just sleep and that she was sorry for acting like that. Erin looked at Rebecca and shook her head, insisting that Rebecca take her room and that she could just go to the guest room. No one should have to sleep on the couch, even if they were as wasted as they both were. After some coaxing, Erin helped Rebecca up the stairs to where her room was located in the apartment. After saying goodnight and making sure Rebecca would be fine, Erin left for the guest room, which was on the opposite part of the apartment. After closing the door behind her, Erin simply sighed and made her way to the bed and let her own weight and gravity simply take her down. With her face buried in the pillow on the bed, she simply closed her eyes, her mind was wracked with drunken thoughts. Maybe she shouldn't have stopped it, or maybe it was for the best? Things were going well, and as always, she had ruined things, or maybe her mind was on overactive mode. She didn't know the difference and didn't care.





Her eventual sleep was nothing of note, all she knew was that when she woke up the next morning, an immense headache overtook her. She knew this headache would last a while and only one thing would help with it. Shuffling out of the bed, her feet hitting hardwood flooring as she made her way down the hallway and into the kitchen. She quickly made a pot of coffee and after it was done she poured herself a cup of coffee. It was only when she was halfway through the coffee that she remembered the previous night. Rebecca had gone back to her place and they had gotten completely drunk. Small talk and banter had turned to the more serious side of things, which led to what had happened afterward. Erin couldn't help but be angry at herself for how things went. Things could have, no, should have ended differently. After a few more minutes of sitting in silence in her kitchen, she heard some shuffling coming from her bathroom. Her eyebrow quirked as she slowly stood up from the barstool and made her way to the bathroom, gently knocking on the door. "Becks? Is everything okay?" she asked, only to receive very passive and somewhat annoyed replies. She patiently waited outside of the room, sitting against the hallway wall, occasionally asking if Rebecca was okay every now and then. From going through her phone, checking emails and Facebook and other social media platforms, eventually, the bathroom door opened. Erin got to her feet and gave Rebecca a small smile before Rebecca told her to not talk to her or ask her why she was in there for so long.

But the sight that greeted her when Rebecca walked out was all that she needed to know. Apparently her own way of grieving wasn't the only odd one. But the immediate shift in attitude in Rebecca caused some concern. "You look good, Becca." she said with a small chuckle, which was obviously fake as she tried to ease the growing tension between them. She didn't know what she did to upset her, if her choice the prior night had this effect on Rebecca, it only made Erin feel even worse. All she was able to do was watch as Rebecca pushed past her, grabbing a few things before she left, but not without a few last words. The last she heard was that Rebecca needed to borrow a few things, and just like that, she was gone. Erin just stood in the hallway silently as she watched Rebecca leave, not knowing what to say or do. All she did was lock the door, and went back to bed. In the following days, she became more of a recluse, not leaving her apartment or going to work unless she had to. Even then she didn't go or do much, except for staying in bed and trying to sleep it off and just ignore everything that happened. If she had nothing to focus on, she didn't have anything to worry about. In a mix of drinking, sleeping, and ignoring basically everyone, she hadn't anything to worry about. She knew to cope in this way wasn't exactly healthy, but it's all she ever really knew what to do. In the days that passed, her sleep wasn't even a good or solid sleep. She'd simply lay in bed every day, and just lie there, alone to her thoughts. She knew she should have taken her medication, but it only made things worse.

With her health declining, with unhealthy coping mechanisms, it wasn't surprising that the day she was invited to a dinner party by Soren she looked horrible. Somewhat prominent dark rings under her eyes, mixed with drinking and smoking, and not eating much had caused her appearance to look unwell to say the least. She found herself getting out of bed and showering, and looking for an outfit that she simply threw together of random pieces of clothing. She texted Kyle, and had told him to make sure he got his ass to the party. She'd be running late compared to the others, and his presence wouldn't be one of major note. As well as it being a good time for her to finally let the others know that Kyle was back, she'd just have to figure out a way of making it happen. When the hours ticked by, she finally got dressed, and tied her hair up in a messy bun and grabbed a jacket and put her pack of cigarettes in the inside pocket. She texted Kyle her address to meet her at her apartment so they could walk together.

The walk to Soren's was a welcomed one. The fresh air against her skin as she walked alongside Kyle, mixed with their small talk and further catching up made everything feel as well as good as it could get. They even caught up on some of the case issues, but mainly just made quick comments on it, Kyle made sure to let her know she'd be called to the station in the next few days as they'd need some information from her as well as just to see how she was doing. As annoyed as she was, she understood the process and was wondering when her time to be interrogated from. Erin held the door open for Kyle and the two made their way to Soren's apartment. Others had already made their way there and plenty of people had filled the apartment. Making their entrance into the party less noticeable. Erin told Kyle to go get them some drinks and just hang out and not be really noticed, as she had to go talk to someone. She passed by Soren as she scanned the apartment for her real target, "I gotta talk to you later, got it?" she said as she gave him a pat on the shoulder. She wormed her way passed others, looking around the room until she finally saw who she needed to talk to. Gently patting the woman on the shoulder from behind, speaking softly, "Look, I get it if you don't want to talk to me, but...I'm sorry. Okay?" she said as she gently pulled Rebecca to the side, wanting to have some privacy between the two for a moment. "Look, I get it. I fucked up the other night and I am sorry. If I could have made things have been different, I would have. I just...I didn't..I didn't want to ruin anything between us, ya know? I just...I'd understand if you're pissed off, you have every right to be. I just want you to know I'm sorry and that I fucked up." she said softly, looking Rebecca in the eyes for a moment before she looked away to the side. Looking back at Rebecca for a moment, she'd probably regret what came out of her mouth next, but she didn't care. "Besides...I meant what I said, I didn't mind it." Erin said as she gave a small smile, but began to turn away as she figured Rebecca didn't want anything to do with her or was beginning to get annoyed.


Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller

0.00 INK

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N a t h a n Miller
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outfit - #D6CF13
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The days after the memorial service weren’t that different from Nate’s every day life. While he would have been more than happy to be there for anyone and everyone in the group, is mostly seemed like no one really needed him. Sure, he was decent enough to have around if you didn’t want to be alone, but he knew his personality didn’t have enough substance to really be the kind of person you wanted around when everything in your life was going to shit. He’d never really grown up, and Lauren’s death had started to make him evaluate his life. For the first time in ages, he wasn’t happy just to have a roof above his head.

It was funny, how death could motivate someone. Nate hadn’t even particularly cared for Lauren (or so he said. They had been close enough before, and he’d cared about her as much as any of his other friends), but something about the untimely death of someone you once considered a friend was jarring, and made him really consider that, perhaps, he wasn’t getting everything he’d wanted out of life. He tried not to think about it too deeply, though. That was generally his strategy when confronted with uncomfortable thoughts and situations; ignore it, and maybe it will all go away.

He wasn’t sure this problem would go away on its own. He didn’t know what to do, though, and he sure as hell wasn’t talking to Khepri about it. He had no illusions that her solution would be any different than what she always suggested and-as much as he loved her-he had no desire to go through with her ideas. Or, at least, not the ones that involved moving in with her.

When he’d received the invitation to the dinner party, Nate had considered turning it down. He didn’t feel like he fit in with his old friends anymore, and thought it might be best if he stayed back and let them do their own thing. They’d all gone on and done something with their lives, found themselves, done something that mattered, even if just to themselves. What had Nate done? Fought with his parents? Slept on benches? Certainly nothing to be proud of. But in the end he so desperately didn’t want to end up alone, and so deeply wished to connect with them-or anyone, really-on the level he used to, that he decided to go.

He wrestled, at first, with the logistics of showing up, or if he should bring anything, and in the end decided that the likelihood of anyone expecting much of him was pretty low. Still, he didn’t want to be late, especially after arriving late to Lauren’s memorial service.

When he arrived, he wasn’t entirely sure what to think. Soren didn’t look the greatest, though Nate didn’t really expect him to be looking vibrant and happy. Rebecca’s new look was more surprising. Nate knew that Lauren’s death would affect everyone differently, and that it would likely hit Becca pretty hard, but she didn’t even look like herself anymore. Seeing her like that had him feeling worried, and a little guilty. His mind drifted back to the memorial, and how the two had barely kept it together, but he wasn't sure what help he could have been then, or what help he could be there in that moment.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller

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SOREN BOWERS
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outfit : herex|xhex: #575772
xxxsomewhere in between
xxxwho i used to be
xxxand who i'll be tomorrow
xxxwhen the champagne blows my mind

xxx
When he got back into his bedroom, he just flopped on to the bed and ran his hands down his face, exhaling slowly. This would be fine, he told himself. He was just stressed from this morning, that was all. Everything was fine. He was safe. Nothing bad had happened. He took a few deep breaths and got back to his feet. He changed his shirt into something a little less crumpled, ran his fingers through his hair to tidy it up a little, and put on the best smile he could manage. He still looked like shit, but he looked a little better than he had done a few minutes prior, and he looked better than he had a day or two ago. That was something, he told himself. That was a start. He smiled at Becca as he emerged from the room and she handed him a drink. “Thank you, Becca. Not just for the drink, but for this afternoon. I really needed it, and you really helped. So thank you,” he said, holding up his drink in a slight toast to her. “And loving the new look, by the way.” He added with a smirk and a raised eyebrow, before draining his drink. The burn felt good, and he left the glass beside the sink.

It didn’t take long for people to start arriving. At first, he was just aware of how tired he had to look, how people’s eyes seemed to linger on him for a little longer than he was entirely comfortable with. But then having people around him, complimenting him on how good everything smelled, people telling him how much he loved the album, people smiling back at him… it felt good. Erin clapped him on the shoulder and pressed a beer into his hand, told him she needed to talk to him later. He found himself wondering what it was about, but just drank the beer as he mingled, making his way back to the kitchen every so often to check on the food.

The alcohol seemed to be hitting him harder than usual. All he’d had to drink was the drink Rebecca had made him and the beer that Erin had given him, and he felt… odd. Like being drunk but… not. His doctor had said something about avoiding alcohol while on these medications, but… he hadn’t expected it to hit that hard and that quick. He just needed to sober up. No more drinks, he promised himself.

He spotted Nate as he came in and grinned, making his way over to him. “Nate, you came! I feel like I haven’t seen you in ages!” He gushed, wrapping the other man in a hug. “It’s so good to see you!” He said as he let go. He was sure there was something he meant to say, but it disappeared as soon as it came, and he frowned. What had he meant to say? Why were all his thoughts flying around like that?

But it didn’t last long, as his eyes landed on someone across the room. He seemed to be about Soren’s height, with short, neat dark hair, and a focused, intelligent expression. He looked strong- not like a bodybuilder, but lean and powerful. He looked vaguely familiar, but Soren couldn’t place it. “Holy shit. Nate, be my wingman,” he said, grabbing Nate’s arm and starting to pull him across the room. He stumbled a little over his own feet and had to clutch on to Nate as he regained his balance. “Woah, that’s not good,” he mumbled, mostly to himself.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Alexander Yang Character Portrait: Khepri Mahajan

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ALEXANDER YANG
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Ethical Hacker | Outfit | Hex: #4E3475
There is only one way to avoid criticism:
do nothing, say nothing, be nothing...

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|| Day of Lauren's Memorial ||

A week had passed since Lauren's unfortunate passing, her memorial would be held later today. During this time Alexander had spent his time going over all of the evidence that he and Khepri had accumulated. Despite the vast amount of information they were able to gather they weren't any closer to discovering any hints to who had committed the crime. There was very little Lex could do to further their investigation, there just wasn't anything there. Resigned to that fact Lex chose instead to get back into his usual routine, addressing the investigation if anything else came up.

While preparing to go to Lauren's memorial, while taking a shower, Lex heard his phone ringing on the sink. He ignored it and let the call go til it would leave a message but the phone would ring again right afterwards. Thinking it must've been important, considering not many people had his personal number, Lex exited the shower and answered the call. "Who is it and why are you bothering me?"

The voice on the other end was hurried and sounded out of breath, "Boss... You're not going to like this but..." They were hesitant to continue, not wanting to be the one to deliver the message. Lex silently waited for them to finish, feeling slightly perturbed. "...You know the lady you told us to take care of... Well she was attacked but she managed to get away... I think she ran to the memorial service for your... Friend."

Fury and anger erupted in Lex's psyche, impacting even his physical appearance. Before being overcome by these emotions Lex calmed himself down enough to talk, saying with an oddly cool but unmistakably furious voice, "Weren't you suppose to take care of it? ...Tell me exactly how she could be attacked if you were doing your job?" They replied that they were preoccupied. "Preoccupied? ...That would mean you were busy, correct? What exactly is more important than a direct mission given by me ...your Boss?" Between the silence and unintelligible mumbles from the other end Lex began to lose his patience. He knew that they wouldn't overlook any direction he gave them without a good reason, it was then that the answer was obvious. "Which branch was it? Who had overridden my order? Seconds passed until a single word escaped from the voice on the other end of the phone, the word Deputy.

Still fuming Lex ended the call with his subordinate, he knew that they didn't have a choice so he didn't question them further. While getting dressed Lex began calling his secretary. She answered the call cheerily asking, "What do you need boss?" While buttoning up his shirt Lex began to list a number of things he wanted his secretary to take care of. This list consisted of: delivering a gift to the Clarks after the memorial; expressing Lex's apology for not being able to attend due to company related issues; look into who had attacked Rebecca, as they were likely to be connected to, if not, Lauren's killer; to have a 'meeting' with his subordinate arranged; have one of his firearms placed in his car. His secretary could tell that there was something off due to the tone of his voice. She asked, "Is there anything else I can do for you? ...Have some drinks prepared perchance?"

Now fully dressed and prepared Lex laughed at his secretaries attempt at humor. Walking out into the elevator and pressing the button for the bottom floor Lex answered her, saying, "Yeah, I'll probably need it..." Lex pulled his lighter from his coat, lighting up a cigarette as the elevator started to go down. "Don't wait up for me Tina. I need to have a 'little chat' with someone..."

It took a while for his driver to arrive since there were some late minute 'arrangements' which needed to be made. Lex continued to chain smoke waiting for his car to arrive. He pulled out his phone, pondering whether or not to contact Becca or any of his 'friends'. Looking down at the new wallpaper on his phone, a picture he took while Becca was eating breakfast, a number of emotions swirling around his mind til he saw his driver park in front of the residential building.

When he reached his car and got inside he checked underneath his seat to find his Glock 45, fully loaded with four more magazines prepared. He fastened the gun into his appendix holster and clipped the magazines on the back of his belt. After he was done preparing that his driver asked him where they were going exactly. Opening up the window, Lex flicked out the remainder of his cigarette before answering the driver, saying, "Where does anyone in this city go with a gun? ...We are of course going to the 'shooting range'." The driver chuckled at this response before he started to drive to where he knew they needed to go.

Muffled sounds being emitted from the limousines trunk. Clicking his fingers Lex acted like he just remembered something. "Ah, that's right. Before we go to the 'range' we need to throw out some trash... Know any good places to do that?" The driver shook his head, knowing where they needed to go and his boss's preferred order. As the driver looked back towards he saw the cold glint in his bosses eyes, glad that he wouldn't be on the receiving end of whatever he was planning.

|| Day of Soren's Dinner Party ||

Days had passed since Becca's assault and there was no signs or information he could gather about the culprit. This frustrated Lex but he couldn't do anything about it, despite his skills and resources, just like in Lauren's case. Lex sent several messages to Pri, seeing if she was able to find out anything about the incident either. He hadn't received an affirmation yet but considering the difficulties he was having he doubted that she would've caught on to anything either.

"Boss, we'll stay nearby in case you need us... and as per your instruction we'll pay better attention than last time." Lex's eyes scanned over the subordinates he had gathered today. There was four of them, not including the driver, they were Chinese American like himself and were dressed in common New York street-wear to better blend in to their surroundings. It was a completely different group from the people who were first tasked to watch over Becca. Lex didn't want a repeat of what happened last time.

"Just stay outside near the building. Two of you have eyes on the car and each other, the driver will maintain surveillance on the main entrance. The others will patrol around the building and see if anyone goes in any other way, stay together and watch each others back." Lex had carried his gun with him since Becca's assault, not wanting to be without an answer to an unexpected incident like that again.

Lex and Soren weren't particularly the greatest of friends, especially after the incident between himself and Lauren, but he wanted to see everyone after what happened. Opening the door of the car, Lex slowly walked towards the entrance to Soren's residential building. As he was about to go inside he saw his men go into action and start following his instructions. He looked at them indifferently before the entrance closed and his view of them was obscured.

Arriving at Soren's apartment Lex knocked on the door, waiting for someone to open the door for him. A minute passed before anyone came to the door, whoever was inside must've been to busy to welcome Lex in. He began to think about whether or not he should open the door himself or wait outside for someone to answer the door. Not wanting to be rude and not being really interested in engaging in the majority of his 'friends' drama, Lex patiently waited across from Soren's door. Taking out a cigarette and lighting it up, taking a drag as he waited for someone to either open the door or arrive.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Alexander Yang

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Rebecca Cruze
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outfit : herex|xhex: #696969
xxxI act like I don’t fuckin care,
xxxLike they ain’t even there,
xxxI act like I don’t fuckin care,
xxxCuz I’m so fuckin scared,

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Rebecca barely acknowledged the sort of compliment she recieved from Soren with a nod before walking away and trying to look busy so people wouldn’t bother her, most of this was just being on her phone and avoiding eye contact. Though when people did try to come up and talk to her, either to question her new look or try to comfort and make sure she was okay, she would just blow them off. Becca did make eye contact with Nate when he arrived, but quickly turned around and turned her attention elsewhere, gazing out the window and into the streets of New York, taking a few more sips of her cup of straight gin.

Becca sighed as someone tapped her shoulder and was ready to give a snide remark about not wanting to be bothered, but when she turned around and saw Erin, she just went quiet and agreed to talk to her as Erin led her to a room for a little bit more privacy Rebecca would be lying if she said she felt bad for how she left Erin’s apartment, but it was the spur of the moment and she had been impulsive and wanted to leave. She quietly listened as the other woman talked, hearing the sincerity in her voice and the words she was saying, she knew there was truth behind them but didn’t know how to respond, especially to the apology that wasn’t needed. Even though being rejected by Erin happened before Rebecca dyed her hair, it wasn’t her fault for how she was acting, how she looked. Erin went to turn away from her but Becca grabbed her hand.

“Erin. It’s fine. I’m fine. We’re fine. Nothing is ruined. It’s just complicated okay? With how eve-” Rebecca could hear a knock at the front door since it was next to the small office they were having their conversation. Becca peaked through the window and saw the build of a familiar person waiting for the door to be answered. “We will talk later. Promise” She said with an expressionless face before she excused herself from the room and went to answer the door.

When Rebecca opened it and her assumption of it being Lex was confirmed, she wanted to smile to see him again, but then remember she hadn’t really spoken to him since the few times she visited him before the memorial. “Hey Lex. Honestly surprised to see you here.” She said as she brushed her now black hair out of her face, the look Lex hadn’t seen yet. “Come on in.” Becca said as she grabbed his hand and pulled him inside, giving him a rough rundown of the set up, even seeing Soren and just making a remark about him being drunk. But when Becca saw what direction her drunk friend was going, she stopped dead in her tracks. The cop. The same cop, detective, agent, or whoever or whatever he was from Lauren's crime scene, her memorial service was now here at the dinner party.

Rebecca walked away from Lex and straight towards the cop, accidentally bumping into a few of the other patrons before getting to her destination. Usually she wouldn’t had been this so confrontational, but the liquid courage was getting to her, as well as a lot of the stress was affecting her mind. “Why are you here?” Becca said in a loud tone, a couple people turning to see what the commotion was about. “Seriously, can’t you just leave us alone for one minute without showing up and monitoring us when we’re just trying to relax? We are trying to mourn our dead friend, but you keep insisting on questioning us.” She had lightly shoved the cop, not much power behind it. Becca wasn't exactly happy with being at this party, but she definitely didn't appreciate it being crashed. She took a look around and saw now she had accidentally grabbed the attention of most people in the room, ending her gaze on Lex, almost as if to ask for help.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Erin Monahan Character Portrait: Kyle Monahan Character Portrait: Rebecca Cruze Character Portrait: Nathan Miller Character Portrait: Alexander Yang Character Portrait: The New Rebecca

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N a t h a n Miller
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outfit - #D6CF13
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When Soren hugged him, Nate was taken aback slightly. They had been friends, sure, but he hadn’t ever thought of them as particularly close. Not that he minded, of course. He returned the hug without hesitation, though anyone that saw his face would have noticed the mild confusion. Still, he smiled as Soren let him go and said a simple, “Of course I came.” As if it hadn’t ever been a debate in his mind, and as if Soren never should have questioned it. His tone was gentle, though, and not at all meant to make Soren feel bad if he doubted it. When Soren mentioned being his wingman, Nate tried to see who his friend had eyes on, but he couldn’t pick out who Soren had them walking towards. He’d never really played wingman for Soren before, and started making a mental list of his strengths as they started walking.

When Soren stumbled, Nate reached out to help him regain balance, and concern crossed his face for a moment, “Hey, maybe you should sit down for a minute.” He placed a hand on Soren’s shoulder, hoping it came off as a friendly gesture, despite how it was meant to keep the man from walking away, “Just to get your head clear. Maybe we can catch up a little?”

He was just about to lead Soren to somewhere a little calmer to sit and hopefully clear his head, when he spotted some purposeful moment out of the corner of his eye. He turned to see Becca walking towards who he now recognized as one of the detectives on Lauren’s case. She looked upset, and he knew that this had the potential to not end well. He wanted to be over there, mostly because he didn’t want anyone getting into any more trouble than they were already in, but he wasn’t willing to leave Soren alone in the state he was in. He sighed and wrapped an arm around Soren’s shoulders, a gesture that would indicate a closer friendship than they had ever had. He started leading them in the direction Rebecca was quickly moving, and he spoke quickly, but quietly, to Soren as they walked. “We’re going to try to keep things as civil as we can over here. Stay calm. Keep your hands to yourself. Try to stay quiet. If things go south I don’t want it to come back to you, okay?”

They didn’t get there until after Becca shoved the cop, and Nate shot a glance at Lex, as if to ask why the hell he didn’t stop that. Thankfully enough, Erin showed up around the same time, and Nate figured she could do more to calm Rebecca than he could. But when Becca shrugged Erin’s hand off her shoulder, he stepped beside Rebecca, saying, “You know I have your back,” His voice was low, and it he was partially speaking so as not to alarm her as he gently grabbed her hand, trying to get her to take a step back, “But we really don’t need to start anything tonight.”

What Erin said surprised him, though, and he found himself letting Rebecca’s hand slip through his. He more heard the slap than saw it, but the words that were spoked afterwards, and Becca’s reaction to them, are what really made him spring into action. He shouted, “Hey!” As he scooped Becca up by the waist, holding her up against his torso, “Stop it!” He swore as Becca kicked and flailed, “You had better have a hell of an explanation!” That was, of course, directed at Erin. He took several steps back before turning around and setting Becca down, spinning her around and grabbing her harshly by the shoulders to force her to look at him. He’d never been rough with her before, but he wanted to end this nonsense, “I need you to stop. Do you wanna hear her out, or do you wanna take a walk with me?”