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Highmauve: Dining Hall

on Tue Oct 09, 2018 2:48 am
Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

12:00 PM

It had been a chilly day. Chilly enough that Noelle actually decided that she needed a warm bowl of soup before she went into work. Until she realized that everyone else was thinking the same way. She had stood in line for a solid fifteen minutes, and was now sitting next to one of the large windows, staring out at the gloomy autumn day. There was mist in the air and fog rolling in, and Noelle couldn’t put her finger on the feeling of dread she felt in her stomach.

She hadn’t really spoken to Tobi in days. The fallout of family day hung in the air whenever they saw each other. She had tried to apologize, tried to talk sense in him, but no avail. She was worried sick about him, but he wouldn’t let her in. Noelle was surprised that he hadn't just disappeared on them. She felt so incredibly isolated from him, and it worried her even more. On top of that, she also had called Jules & Lovett for her father, demanding an explanation. Over a dozen calls, two alias’ and a fake emergency hadn’t been enough. She even took a bus to the office and waited for two hours, skipping class. No dice. The guilt was beginning to weigh on her, drag her down. The few days of bliss were gone. Fear and tension now hung in the air.

Since the family day incident, she had dealt with many forms of harassment. Mostly name calling and dirty looks, but some guy had decided to sneak up to her window and pour some damp dirt into her dorm, complete with centipedes and dead frogs. And a note that literally just said WITCH in big, spiky letters. She found it incredibly childish as she cleaned it up, unfazed. With everything else going on, she could handle this. Still, there were others that had it worse.

Like Trevor. He was sitting with his best friend Jake in the corner of the room, and people were not even being subtle anymore. It was a minority that really despised the program members, but it was a loud minority. Noelle had seen the grasshopper boy pushed, shoved, punched and smacked around a lot, but it had gotten so bad that he didn’t go anywhere without his buddy Jake. So when Jake got up for a moment to go to the bathroom, dread filled the poor kid’s eyes.
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Re: Highmauve: Dining Hall

on Tue Oct 09, 2018 2:07 pm
Tobi walked into the cafeteria slow. His backpack is heavy on his back as he makes his way past the long line for soup towards the much shorter line for coffee. Calloused fingers grab a large plastic soda cup on the way and plunk it down under the machine for dark roast. Thick, dark coffee pours into the large cup as he pulls the lever down and lets it stick. It had been a rough couple of days.

He could feel the tension on campus and the looks sent his way. His family had been Family Day’s major entertainment, and he had been at the forefront. The day after, his floormates had all given him a wide berth as he had passed them with tired eyes and a massive headache. Only Vincent, one of his favorite little freshman, had approached with a mug full of ginger tea. Good for nausea, he had told him before walking off. It was with that that he realized that they weren’t avoiding him out of fear, but out of courtesy. Somehow these brats knew about his migraines and they were giving him space to heal. It had been one of the only good things to happen these past couple of days, and he was so grateful to them.

The rest though? The rest had been rough. Not many of the more vocal opponents of their existence on campus tried to physically harass him, but Tobi could see the looks sent his way. How people would shut down conversations when he drew near, how they would walk away a little faster if he walked their way. Even in his favorite coffee shop. His favorite barista was catching flak for serving him from some of the patrons and while he didn’t care, Tobi didn’t want to make his life any harder just cause he needed coffee to even think straight these days.

So here he is. Replacing quality with quantity. So much quantity, he thinks as he picks up three of the caffeine cups that they put out on truck stop coffee counters and college campuses. A blunt nail picks off the top of one that warns only to use one at a time and he dumps the contents into the large soda cup. The other two he’ll save for later and shoves them into his coat pocket. He turns to find a spot to enjoy this and the bagel he’s going to pick up when he sees him, that kid from Family Day. Trevor, his name was.

‘Poor guy,’ Tobi thinks. Mutant with a mutation like that was an easy target for people with the wrong sort of opinion. Least he had Jake with him, he thinks as he turns toward where the bagels are. He doesn’t notice Jake leaving the table or Trevor’s panicked look. He also fails to see the group of boys nearby who have had an eye on Trevor this whole time. They wait for a moment after Jake gets up, then rise as one to walk towards Trevor and his table. Wide, terrified eyes track their movements as they come ever closer.

Tobi reaches for the bagels and sips on the straw he had plunked into his coffee. It’s halfway gone now and he’s feeling a bit more human. One hand wraps around an everything bagel, he turns back around to find a seat, and then the student next to him screams.

It takes him a minute to register it as a scream. Everything since family day has been a lot more muted. It’s like trying to hear someone speak from underwater, and that’s on a good day. On bad days, he couldn’t hear a thing. The roar of whatever language that was in his head was thunderous in the small space of his skull, and that’s what he hears right now. It almost feels like a warning, which new to him.

So he turns to look at the student with her mouth open and eyes wide. Follows her gaze to where he had seen Trevor earlier. He’s alone now with Jake nowhere nearby but surrounded by a group of guys he recognizes. Tobi had seen them around, sometimes near Evan. Trevor’s standing in front of them, covered in food scraps and looking absolutely livid. They must have dumped their trash on the poor kid, but that wasn’t scream worthy.

What was though, was the hole eating its way through one of the boy’s hands.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Trevor had begged Jake to stay with him, begged him to wait for just a minute.

“Nah, man, I gotta go.” Jake had looked sympathetic, but damn if he didn’t have to pee. Coffee ran through him like nothing else. “I’ll be right back, promise.” He had left with that assurance and a smile towards the bathrooms on the other side of the cafeteria. Had to push through the soup line, but he got there. Trevor had watched him go the entire way, something sinking heavy in his gut. A minute later, his dread was proven right.

A group of guys, the same ones that had been bothering him since family day, since homecoming, made their way over holding a large tray of their leftover food. Trevor could see them coming and had tried to pack up his stuff as fast as he could. Notes into his backpack, pencils and paper shoved inside, laptop just barely before it was zipped shut and he tried to stand and get away. It had been just a touch to late though. With a squish and slop, the scraps were tossed onto him, some of them still a little hot.

He swore. His hands came up to try and flick some of the mess off of himself as the boys laughed at his struggles and taunted him the same way that they had for weeks now. Telling him to leave, to get off campus, that he was a freak just here to make the school look good. And all the while, no one said anything.

No one stood up to tell them off, no one came to his defense, no one had said anything for weeks. These people knew they could get away with anything even with the near hundred witnesses in this cafeteria, and Trevor was tired of it. If no one else was going to stand up for him, well shit. He was gonna do it himself. He stood in front of the boys with murder in his eyes and righteous anger in his heart, and spit in their direction.

One of the boys put up a hand to block it. The caustic acid sizzled and hissed as it hit and began to eat through skin, muscle, and bone. Flesh burned in front of him, and Trevor finally felt an inkling of satisfaction for the weeks of bullying they had put him through. He wanted more, wanted them to hurt like he hurt.

Something in him breaks hard, and then the world goes dark.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Tobi watched the spit eat through the boy’s hand and drip onto the tiled floor with wide eyes. ‘Lawd,’ he thought in alarm. He was about to run forward, maybe to help, to diffuse the situation, when something ear splitting filled his head. It was thousands of shrill voices all coming together in one thunderous din, and it was painful. He drops both his coffee and his food, clasps his hands to his ears, closes his eyes to block out the noise, and sinks to the floor in pain as the sky outside the windows goes from noonday sun to dark shadow, moving in with the speed of a sudden, thunderous storm.

Glass shatters, people scream, and there’s a mass exodus towards the front doors as thousands of locusts pour into the large, open room.
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Re: Highmauve: Dining Hall

on Tue Oct 09, 2018 2:35 pm
Noelle wasn't ashamed that she had nearly pissed herself when the screams started. Her head bolts up from her bowls of soup, looking for the source. But she smells it. The sickly, burning scent of the corrosive acid that Trevor had spit out back in that meeting. She stands, her eyes flying to him. There was another boy. A hole in his hand.


And then the windows break, Noelle nearly screamed herself. The large insects hummed angrily, aiming for the small group of students that now surround Trevor. Where was Jake? He had done such a good job at keeping this kid calm, keeping him free of worry. As much as he could. This wasn't Revor, the sweet, bumbling student who was quick to help others with homework. Her heart squeezed, remembering her own mother sitting with him. Maybe that's all he needed. Someone to sit and defuse the- no. It was too far gone. Trevor was now sweating, spitting, foaming his own blend of fatal acid into a moat, surrounding him and a couple students. The look in his eye was murderous.


“NO!”


Noelle shouted, standing up on the table. Her knees wobbled, but she looked Trevor in the eye, her hand on her messenger bag, white-knuckled. Her voice shakes, but she stands tall “Trevor! Stop! They didn’t do anything!”


“They didn't do anything? Really?" Trevor sputters out, acid spitting everywhere, burning through the floor. His circle tightens. The people he had taken into his moat of slime and bile started to panic even more now, shouting, screaming. Some tried to grab Trevor, but with the spit and sweat flying everywhere, landing in a hiss on another girl's face. That quieted them down to a whimper, much to the cruel satisfaction to Trevor. "You don't get what it's like! To look like me! To be me!"


Noelle looked at the boy, her eyes grave and steady “You're right. But Trevor, you don’t want to do this.” Her hands fly to her bag, grabbing a thick, green book with many post-it tabs. She pulls it out, opening near the front, still staring at Trevor.  “Just let them go. We can figure this out. Talk it out.”


"It's all talk. They'll never do anything but talk. It's all TALK!" Trevor spits in her direction. Noelle sidestepped, but the glob started burning through the table. She looks around the room, and finds Tobi, the man she loved so dearly, was nearly to the floor, overwhelmed with the chaos. But Noelle knew better. He was the only one in this room who could get this kid to stop, get him to calm down or knock him out. Something. But they were indoors. They needed the outside with them right now. So Noelle did something that she hadn’t done ever, besides in the privacy of her own room or the comfort of her sister. She raises the book, staring at the words. And she speaks.


“NOW this is the law of the jungle-”


As soon as she utters the words, the smoke pours from her mouth, the ink coagulating, combining into a drippy mess at her feet. It forms under her, around her, dripping into the very floor. The ink starts to form, to become solid. It’s vivid and different hues of green, the most real manifestation she had ever conjured. She saw it in her mind's eye, and so it appeared around her. Large, leafy trees sprout and grow in the corners of the room and dot themselves, pushing tables and people out of harm’s way, creating a ring between her and the group of the trapped kids. A boulder shoots up underneath her feet, dissolving the table. She crouches, reading loudly, smoke still billowing from her lips, curling into patterns and words. Her voice is different- hypnotic, focused, and loud. It rings in the new room, as clear as crystals, like rain.


“ as old and as true as the sky,
And the wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the wolf that shall break it must die.”



The ground was now rich, dark brown soil with flowers and grass sprouting, small rodents skittering through. Birds swoop down, occasionally catching a locust in their beak. Carnivorous plants grow bulbous, flies start swarming. Another patch of ink blobs together, into a fierce she-wolf that growled, drool dripping from its jaws. It's growling begin to match Noelle’s reading, the same cadence, the same motif. The ceiling above them is soon covered in ink, dissolving into treetops, sunlight peeking in only in crevices and cracks. The room simultaneously becomes humid and dark, but Noelle stays still, her eyes fixed on the page, focused. The smoke that pours from her mouth is now swirling into letters which filter into the air, echoing the passage in the hall.


“As the creeper that girdles the tree trunk, the law runneth forward and back;
For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.”



Vines fall from the branches of the thick and ancient branches that etch the sky, falling right in front of the people in Trevor’s circle. The sounds of monkeys and insects fill the air. More wolves begin to appear from every corner of the room. Ink drips from their hind legs, but their eyes are sharp as they become a pack together, moving as one animal, one beast. They snarl, their eyes on Trevor. The mist begins to roll in, pressure building.

“Wash daily from nose tip to tail tip; drink deeply, but never too deep;
And remember the night is for hunting and forget not the day is for sleep.”



Drops of rain begin to make their way down from the treetops, pooling into puddles around the jungle floor. Frogs appear, hopping in between puddles. A large python slithers it’s way across the ground, wrapping itself around the trunk of the tree nearest Trevor. It’s muscular body ripples as it moves, constricting itself around the trunk, squeezing. It’s tongue flicks and flutters, its eyes fixed on the acid-spitting wonder. Hungrily. Noelle continues, her voice growing louder.

“The jackal may follow the tiger, but, cub, when thy whiskers are grown,
Remember the wolf is a hunter—go forth and get food of thy own.”



An ear deafening roar fills the jungle. A large ink blob pounces over the boulder Noelle stands on, landing right in front of the bookworm. It bubbles, it forms. It growls. The ink only dissolves partially, the black stripes begin to float and dissolve against the orange fur. The whiskers twitch, the eyes fixed. One of its hind legs lays limp, but there was no doubt. Shere Khan, Lord of the Jungle, had arrived. And while Noelle despised the tiger, his arrogance, his swill, she knew that he was unafraid.

“Keep peace with the lords of the jungle, the tiger, the panther, the bear;
And trouble not Hathi the Silent, and mock not the boar in his lair. “



One by one, they slink out. First, a panther begins to leap from tree branch to tree branch. Bagheera was not a hunter, he was a protector. His yellow eyes were locked with those held hostages, watching. Waiting for a moment to step in, to pounce. Normally, working with the likes of the tiger was utterly unsavory, but the large jungle cat would do anything for Noelle, the girl from the strange world. Next, the largest black bear imaginable slowly steps next to Noelle’s rock. Its claws are long, and face is wizened, sleepy, but full of wit. It yawns but stands next to Noelle. Another protector, one of considerable size. Baloo was a teacher, a lover of knowledge, and standing on Noelle’s right side was a place he was used to. A place he belonged. Lastly, the trumpet of an elephant signals her last friend. Hathi the Silent, the general, the dignified trudged through the trees, his trunk raised. The ink has all but faded now. Noelle was almost finished. This wasn’t a blurry copy, an imitation or the idea of the Jungle. It was the Jungle. She felt herself clam up, her vision began to get blurry, her hands trembling.

“When pack meets with pack in the jungle, and neither will go from the trail,
Lie down till the leaders have spoken; it may be fair words shall prevail.”



No new creatures have appeared, but Noelle pushed the rest of her being into this passage. Her life force, her very essence begins to pour out of her lips, making her surroundings even more inexplicably real.  She had, of course, read this much before. More even. Growing up, the Scarecrow and Bagheera and Aslan had been her best friends. As Joy got older, they became her’s as well. But she had never made something as real, as concrete as the vision before her. Normally, the life expectancy of her manifestations depended on the history of the text. This felt different. The inaudible timer that ticked in her ear had moved. She was the timer. She would decide the life expectancy. The wolves, the python, the tiger, the panther, the bear, and Noelle herself looked up at Trevor. They spoke as one, the voice cresting to thundering heights:

“Now these are the Laws of the Jungle, and many and mighty are they;
But the head and the hoof of the Law and the haunch and the hump is- OBEY!”



The jungle roars with her, the smoke leaves her lips, and she stares at Trevor, wild in her eyes. But the world around her doesn’t move. In her mind eye, Noelle had only given the metaphorical keys of control to only one other person. She created it, created it for this purpose only, but only one person could control it.

She looks at Tobi, her lips cracked and pale, the slightest twitch in her eye, silently praying, begging for him to do what he needs to do. Their quiet communication had better not fail her now. They needed him- she gave the tools for which he would save them all.
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Re: Highmauve: Dining Hall

on Tue Oct 09, 2018 7:54 pm
Tobi could feel the pounding in the floor as people flooded past him and away from the epicenter of the commotion. Each step was like a nail to his skull driven in deeper by the pounding din of the mass of locusts. The bugs cut past him and rip shreds into his leather jacket. It’s thankfully not his skin, but he can’t even stop and think about what’s going on outside his closed eyelids, there’s too much happening inside.

The usual pull he feels is screaming in that strange language. It’s a crashing tidal roar that’s blocking out everything else. Something is happening, something big in the world around him. He can feel tremors in the earth below him, can feel the pounding of feet slow as fewer and fewer people rush past towards the door. One though, feels like it’s coming closer. Strange, fuzzy fingers wrap around his arm and haul his not inconsiderable weight to his feet. Tobi opens his eyes. His vision is blurry, his mind a little dizzy, but that’s professor Kilgrowith in front of him with his arm supporting Tobi. He’s saying something, asking questions, but Tobi just stares dumbly at his mouth trying to make sense of the movements.

“I,” Tobi starts. His voice is a little too loud. He can’t hear himself well enough to know that though. “What’s goin’ –“ The last word fades out into a confused bird like warble. His head lurches forward with a wave of nausea. He swallows the sharp tang of bile, looks around. Trevor’s there in the middle of everything, surrounded by the bugs and waves of thick, corrosive acid. Students unlucky enough to be near him when he popped off are caught in the middle and held hostage as he squares up with someone. Tobi’s eyes flick and follow the boy’s line of sight and oh.

Noelle’s there, on top of the table. Smoke is billowing out of her mouth and forming what looks like, what feels like…

Millions of bright, silver strings explode across his vision as a jungle unfurls in the middle of the cafeteria. He blinks at the light blearily; his eyes slowly go wide. There’s a tumultuous static roar in his mind as he looks them over, takes in the sight. A million connections, a million threads, and she had done this. There’s so much, he thinks. Standing proud on top of the desk surrounded by beasts from the jungle, she looks more powerful than he’s ever seen her. Her eyes meet his in a silent plea.

Help. She wants him to help. Noelle’s given him every tool he could need to diffuse the situation.


Fall, something in his mind commands, begs, pleads, coaxes.


Kilgrowith is pulling him back towards the front door. Other teachers, all mutants, are waiting there. One of them, a sharply dressed man who looks much too young for his platinum silver hair, is shouting directions and making hand motions to guide students and teachers away from the mess. Tobi catches his bright blue gaze with his own pale grey. A command is yelled towards him and Kilgrowith and Kilgrowith nods. He pulls them both forward with his considerable strength. Still dazed, Tobi is dragged easily across the newly grassy floors.

Behind him, there’s a shift in the air. The dull roar of insects crescendos in his mind, gaining to a fever pitch. Apparently, Trevor doesn’t want to let them leave without at least some collateral damage, and the forest isn’t holding them back. Insects break through in a massive solid shape aimed for the group with the force of an angry college student behind them. The rips in Tobi’s leather jacket caused by only a few of those locusts weigh come to mind as he watches the dark cloud descend on the group of teachers and straggling students by the door. Kilgrowith holds up his other arm in a desperate bid for protection, he can feel the blue eyed man shouting, can feel the desperation of the group and the situation.

‘Aw, hell.’ He thinks.

“Sorry bout this.” He says aloud, tired and resigned. Kilgrowith looks towards him, confused.

“About what, To-“ he asks, but the question falls to the wayside as Tobi steps forward out of the hold. He can feel the familiar language aching for him, pulling at him, tugging at him. It’s exhilarating, soothing, and terrifying all at once. The roar builds as he steps forward towards the mess in the cafeteria, the pressure in his head hits an apex and then keeps building. He’s never hit this limit, never gone beyond what’s comfortable before, but.

But but but. That language is urging him forward with soothing words. Small sounds like water rippling, like leaves rustling, like the sound his mother makes when she tells him it’s okay. Tobi takes a deep breath and before he can think this through too hard, he does what he’s been aching to do for weeks.

It’s so easy, he thinks, as he closes his eyes. Easy to let the world take hold of him, to let it wrench him softly back into its fold. There’s a point that he passes though and he knows, knows without any sort of metric that that’s usually his stop on this train. It’s where the world lets his mind off, content to let him play and dip his toes in the water. It’s where he’s been since he was a child and he had first felt the hard grip of the universe around him on his shoulders. But he’s been away too long, the voice explains to him. It’s missed him. It pulls and pulls, drawing him deeper; down down down in its depths until all Tobi can see are black and white outlines and the strings that link them all together.

He falls.


.
.
.



He blinks.

A second before the insects descend on the group assembled in front of the door, the earth and floor shift and buckle. Tremors knock some of the group to the ground as a great wall of earth and tile erupts in a trembling crack from the ground to the height of the ceiling to protect those behind it. Insects crash against the wall in a dark, humming tidal wave that billows off the wall’s sides. A moment later, the earthen structure crumbles to land in thick chunks on the cafeteria floor. The group behind it is unhurt, though a little dazed. At the front of them stands Tobi.

He’s a far cry from the man who had been desperately trying to fall asleep for the past two weeks, from the student who just minutes ago had been shoving coffee down his throat like he needed it to survive. He stands tall and proud, surrounded by the chunks of earth that he had drawn up. His eyes are strangely focused on the man through the forest and on the other side of the cafeteria. Eyes that were no longer white, but dark like his mother’s, with only the ring of bright pale grey to distinguish where his focus lies.

He steps forward. Bright luminescent lines trace across his skin and he knows the pattern from hours of staring at it for class, from studying, from tests. That’s his nervous system outlined in a radiant silver glow. It’s traced across his face, down his neck, blooms bright out from the trunk of his spine. His nerves are on fire but when he catches Noelle’s eyes once more, his mouth twitches up in a small smile. The look he gives her is inhuman and unnerving, yet so familiar and so fond; his mouth opens and it’s his mother’s strange language that comes pouring out.

It’s a soft summer night and the twinkling of stars overhead, the soft buzz of cicadas and the peeping chirp of distant frogs, the whisper of leaves as a breeze runs through them and the warm rustle of grass underfoot. It’s everything Tobi loves and it’s directed at Noelle.
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Re: Highmauve: Dining Hall

on Tue Oct 09, 2018 8:50 pm
Noelle was afraid, for a moment, that Tobi hadn't understood her. That she had failed. Kilgrowlith was with him, Tobi was leaning on him. Was he okay? Was this too much? She began to regret the world she had created, but something told her to hold strong. To wait. 

Just before she was going to will her friends, her dearest and oldest friends to move forward, to protect those trapped with the kid, the locusts descended on her. Her flimsy blouse and skirt were nothing, as they cut through, tearing her to shreds. A cut on her face helps bring her out of her dazed state. But, she looked to her right, the massive bear drawing to his full height, standing, swatting the bugs away, getting scratched himself. He growls but helps Noelle defend the cloud of attackers.

Then, everything changed. The picture in her mind had been unlocked, was now shared with someone. She slid down the rock, onto the great bear's back, but she feels the rumbling underneath her mount. The ground raised became a wall, and the insects hit it, flying off to the sides. She couldn't help but give the smallest smile of relief. When her eyes flick to Tobi again, she almost fell off the bear.

His eyes. They were black, cold, far away. The only thing that let her know that he was looking at her was a fine grey line. Underneath his tanned skin, bioluminescent lines etched around his nerves. It was showing through his skin, lighting him up like a Christmas Tree. This... forest god couldn't have been him. Her logically brain was running rampant, screaming in her head, making her feel faint. If she didn't focus, the world around them would dissolve, would fade, and it was just at her fingertips, about to fall. But. The smile.

She had seen it so many times- the fondness, the love, the care. That smile pulled her back into the reality she had created. Her heart thundered, but she returned the smile, her eyes shining with pride. Her sweet, chivalrous Tobi. He was there. He did what was natural for him, stopping his suppression. He let go.

The sounds that came pouring out of his mouth, and she understood, instantly. Later, she would wonder how- when Tobi's mother spoke, she had to go off of hunches, body language, and still, it wasn't something she fully comprehended. But this. She understood. And it brought tears to her crinkled eyes, her smile widening. Opening her mouth, she tried to speak, returning the phrase, but there were only a wheeze and a hacking cough. Her hair flips forward, and she clutches her chest. It was as if someone had sanded down her throat with steel wool- rubbed raw and desolate. She takes a deep breath, and looks back at him, her smile matching the one when they first met- a little insecure, a little embarrassed, but unbelievably grateful.

She raises her left hand, her two middle fingers laying flat on her palm, but her pinky, index, and thumb were held up high. The message was clear, but she held it up longer, absolutely glowing. I Love You. And she meant it. This jungle reflected it intensely, pulsing with love and adoration. And it bowed to him.

Baloo shifted underneath her, his anxiety directed towards the grasshopper man. Trevor's face was slack, his eyes flicking between the creatures, to Noelle, to Tobi. Fear, Rage, Hatred. It ran rampant. Slowly, the tiger began to stalk him, on its haunches, ready to pounce once Tobi allowed him. The panther crouches, ready to protect the students that were stuck. But besides Trevor, the group of terrified students, Noelle and Tobi, the room was cleared from professors and college kids.

Noelle looks at Tobi, patiently, her hand still raised. She was ready for his go. To help wherever she could, to tell her friends to do whatever he needed. On top of the bear with the cut on her face and torn clothes, she looked like something out of a fantasy novel. Brilliant. Powerful. Dangerous.
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Re: Highmauve: Dining Hall

on Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:25 am
She tries to imitate the noise he made, and he'd be a damned liar if that wasn't the cutest thing he's seen in a long while. She sputters on the strange words, coughs, and gives up right after, She settles on sign then, something simple that fills his chest with something kin to sunshine.

She loves him. He ducks his head, smiles soft. Damn if that doesn't still get him.

Tobi turns his dark gaze on Trevor then, watches the boy and sizes him up from a distance. He knows they need to get the students out before Trevor does anything really rash. He can see the first boy in the middle with the hole through his hand and knows that that’s the one they have to get out first. The kid needs medical care to take care of that wound.

He leans forward, eyes darting around the room. Trevor’s mad, not logical. If he riles him up enough, he might not pay any attention to someone trying to get the others out. Someone with a mass of large animals that can carry multiple students at a time. Thankfully for Noelle, Tobi’s been cooped up for far too long and needs a little bit of a stretch. He flicks his eyes towards her, then towards the students in the middle and follows it up with a signed plan.

‘go for the students. I’ll take care of Trevor.’ His thumb points towards the angry boy in the center of this chaos. Trevor is spitting acid, accumulating more bugs, and readying himself for another attack. His eyes lock on the two of them and once again; the locusts are humming loud and moving in a fast moving cloud towards them.

‘go,’ Tobi signs urgently.

The markings covering his skin flare bright as he mentally reaches out for the nearest string. There’s only a slight hesitance in his fingers, a little reluctance as he remembers that first time when he had grabbed everything and hurt so hard afterward for it. It’s okay, the language whispers to him, soft and melodic. He sees no other choice and no other option in this moment, so he does the only thing available: he tugs.

The shock to his system is almost electric. He burns for it, his nerves are scrubbed raw for it, but the voice is right. It doesn’t hurt. It’s exhilarating. He smiles a sharp toothed smiles and begins to reach out and pull string after string to rearrange the world around him, his movements falling into an easy rhythm as he works. It’s as if he’s known how to do this all along. Completely natural, completely second nature; he arranges the area just as he needs it.

Trees bend towards him, their branches bowing low for him to grab. There’s a tremor and a roll of the earth before more earth walls break skyward and  block the coming flood of insects as Tobi pulls himself into the safety of the large branches. Trevor’s angry shouts and screams follow his form as he moves easily through the trees. He can feel the boy take off after him, leaving the circle of caustic acid to chase and spit at Tobi.  Good, Tobi thinks. He concentrates as his feet hit branch after branch. Hand over hand he swings up and higher into the canopy, never high enough to lose Trevor though. Only ever enough to goad him on.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In front of Noelle and the moat of acid, a sapling tears through the hard, earthen ground with a soft lurch. It unfurls in front of her eyes, rolling through years of growth in the span of about a minute. Four more sprout near the first and each of them roll through the same accelerated  growth.  One by one, they fold over and under each other to braid a wide bridge above the moat of dangerous acid surrounding the trapped students.  It’s enough for Noelle and her bear to walk safely across, and study enough to hold the weight of all the animals and then some.
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Re: Highmauve: Dining Hall

on Wed Oct 10, 2018 5:46 am
Noelle didn't have time to stand around and stare like an idiot. But damn, if it wasn't impressive.

He had signed to her, his looks made the plan crystal clear. He was going to get the kid distracted, and Noelle would swoop in and get those other student outs. Trevor looked like he was about to pop a gasket, but the anger was going to make him sloppy. Tobi does his last sign and Noelle opens her mouth, to tell her friends what needed to be done. Another wheeze. With the amount of energy she had put forward to create this space, her vocal folds were as dry as the Sahara, and when they rubbed together, it hurt. The animals stared at her, waiting for their instruction, still and expectant. So she does the next best thing.

She sucks in some air in a high pitched whistle, sounding as soon as Trevor started after Tobi. She wasn't worried, it looked like the newly reincarnated forest-man had lifted himself into the treetops. Just high enough to be out of reach, to get Trevor to follow. When her whistle sounds, The massive panther's muscles rippled as he pounced down, into the small circle of students, nudging the boy with the hole in his hand and the girl clutching her face in pain. Noelle signs desperately, but as the saplings grow into a bridge, she gave silent thanks to Tobi. She held onto the great bear's fur, who began to bound forward, over the sturdy bridge and into the circle. Noelle slides off, carefully, beginning to pull students onto the creatures. The kids injured went on the far faster black panther. As soon as they were loaded up, Noelle grunts and the giant cat understood. He runs forward, smoothly, bringing the students out the front doors and to Kilgrowlith, who very carefully pulls the students off, bringing them outside to the mass of onlookers- some from the cafeteria, some who were wondering what was going on. As soon as the door opens, people clamber over each other to look at the inside. A mix of words can be heard.

"What the hell?"


"Is that a panther?"


"What happened?"


"Are they okay?"


A mass of police officers was there now, helping the injured students to the ambulance that whirred nearby. A large chunk of the policemen began to crowd the doors, but Kilgrowlith stops them, telling them that it was too dangerous, that they needed to wait until the rest of the hostages were out. That two students from the program were doing what they could to diffuse the situation, they had a plan.

Meanwhile, inside. the panther leaped back to the small circle, where Noelle was helping the rest of the students onto the great bear's back and the massive Elephant. She communicated with grunts and whistles the best she could, and after a minute, she has everyone safely on a mount. She stays in the circle as the three massive creatures made their way across the hall, to the doors, escorted by the prowling tiger who swatted at stray clouds of locusts. Once everyone was safely tucked away, Noelle looked back up Tobi and Trevor, locking eyes with the former. She signs quickly, but deftly as the animals made their way back to her.

"All clear."


Noelle knew she needed to take cover. Whatever Tobi was going to do, it was going to be big, and she needed to brace herself for the storm. She climbed back onto the bear, wrapping her fingers into the thick, coarse fur again, the bear rumbling back to her large boulder. The Tiger continually stalked the grounds, swatting locusts, eyes fixed on Trevor from above. The panther stayed up high, fading into the shadows of the trees. The Elephant lumbers over to another corner of the room, the ground trembling under his feet. Noelle kept herself behind the rock, watching the fight from below. 

___________________________

Ah. Much better.


Jake stretched, looking at himself in the mirror of the men's bathroom, inspecting himself, headphones in. He would be the first to admit that he was bladder-shy, and he found the easiest way to go to the bathroom in perfect harmony was to blast music into his ears. He washed his hands, and really began to look at himself, frowning. Rich, coppery red curls sat on his head in a large, dense swoop, tapering on the nape of his neck. The beak that was his nose was slightly crooked but it matched his sly half-smile that played his lips. Oh and the symbols.

They had been there for as long as he could remember. They covered his arms, legs, chest, and back in their entirety now, twisting runes with a million different meanings. Recently, they had grown from his neck, onto his cheeks. Maybe it was stress related. All Jake knew was that the more that came, the easier it was to accidentally use his mutation. He raised his fingers to a relatively new symbol- an upside down triangle with a dot in the center. He hummed, feeling his fingers pad over it with ease. It felt rough to the touch, branded into the skin. Fingers trail to another under the jaw- a line with a circle on one end, an arrowhead on the other, with seven small diagonal lines. Norse. He knew that much.

Flapping the wet off of his hands, he grabbed a fistful of paper towels, dancing to the Billy Joel song pumping into his ears, but his sneakers catch on the tile. Stumbling, he resets, his ears turning a bright red. He gives one more look to the mirror, straightening out his shirt carefully, dusting off his jeans. 

That'll do, kid.


He hoped Trevor was okay. The poor kid got a lot of flak for how he looked- Jake could relate on that level. While he wasn't half insect, his symbols were subject to plenty of taunting and dirty looks from anyone he met. He quickly learned how to deflect it, usually with humor. No one could make fun of you if you make fun of yourself, right? But Trevor... he was homeschooled before he came to Highmauve, with no clue how to interact with his peers. And looking the way he did, Trevor wasn't met with love and adoration. He was the furthest from a golden boy there was. Jake saw that, saw himself in the kid. So, he grew into an easy friendship. 

Things had escalated since then. With homecoming and now family day, everyone was looking towards the program kids with disdain. Jake could let it all go easily, but Trevor held onto it. Many late nights of impassioned speeches and rants about the way things were. And each time, Jake said the same thing.

Yeah, man. But there isn't anything we can do about it.


But when Jake walked outside that door, everything drops. His easy smile is replaced with confusion, then horror. The dining hall was no more, replaced by a lush, green jungle crawling with animals and vines and flowers and more. The air hung with humidity and mist. And the jungle was empty.

What the fuck?


His eyes flick to the animal parade that started to the front door, releasing students. A panther, a bear, and an elephant? Huh. He was about to make his way over when he heard a grunt from above, and he swore to himself. Trevor was climbing up to meet... Tobi? It looked like the burly kid that Jake occasionally walked past and saw in meetings, but with a few enhancements. The lines that etched his skin now outlined each muscle, each tendon, each joint. And his eyes. The lanky boy shivered, but the scariest thing was the look in Trevor's eyes. It was downright murderous. But if Tobi was nearby....

Jake found her. Crouched behind a rock with a bear. While normally she was smartly dressed, it looked as if her clothes went through a blender. She had a wild look in her eye, the magnified version of when she peer-reviewed papers that were supporting animal poaching or deforestation or the prison system. The fire burned bright in the dark eyes, and her stance made it look like she was bracing for the worst. But Jake couldn't let the worst happen. He needed to stay, to make sure Trevor got out of this alive. He owed him that much, So he bolted to the rock, next to Noelle. 

"What the fuck is going on!?"

Jake watched as the girl opened her mouth and wheezed. She moves her mouth, wordlessly, then her hands are up in a flurry of motion. ASL? Maybe? All he knew were curse words and please/thank you. He shakes his head. This was no use. So he just watched the scene above, rubbing a large X on his left forearm.
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Re: Highmauve: Dining Hall

on Wed Oct 10, 2018 12:23 pm
Tobi moves from branch to branch, swinging with acrobatic grace through the forest Noelle had created just for him. With each new landing, each new handhold, each new leap, he hears an angry pop and his behind him as Trevor tries to hit him with that corrosive acid he’s spitting. Bark smokes as the liquid eats away at it, a tiny string flickering quiet and dim. Each time, the voice urging him on screeches. Each time, it pulls at him a little harder. The world wants its revenge on this boy who’s hurting them and it knows Tobi can deliver.

Promise, promise, promise, hurt, hurt, hurt, fall, fall, fall; the mantra repeats in his head. He can’t though, he can’t lose control here. He’s hanging on as it is, and the others trusted him to diffuse the situation. He needs to prove that he can control himself and that every move here was made to defend, not to hurt like Trevor is trying to. He wants to save people, damn it, not hurt them.

Below him, a little farther off, he can see Noelle flash him a signal in sign: all clear. He smiles at that, relived. Now that the students are safely out, they can take care of Trevor. The kid’s just frustrated and taking out his anger on the nearest thing. He’s venting, Tobi can understand that. doesn’t like how he’s doing it, would rather he not be doing it the way he’s doing it, but he understands. Tensions had all been high after Homecoming and Family day, and they had all suffered for it. They’d be higher after this too. If he felt he could speak in a way Trevor could understand, he’d tell him that.

He can’t though, so he settles on trying to come up with a way to contain the boy. He’s spitting acid through branches, locusts are destroying everything, and he doesn’t feel that any sort of natural cage could contain the boy as well as he would like. He wishes he could get through this without knocking him out, but that’s staring to look like the only option. Tobi’s hand wraps around the nearest branch as he tries to come up with a solution, crouched here in the treetops.


The language in his head shrieks. Tobi looks down to see that Trevor has set his hands on the trunk under him and is burning his way through. There’s a crack and a lurch before Tobi feels his body heave backwards after the tree. He’s free falling now. The wind gusts through his hair as his body lifts away from the faster falling branch of the tree. Dark eyes flick desperately around him, looking for something to grab, something to help him. He’s grabbing at everything, every string on his way down. Millions of bright lit cords come together in his mental grasp and as he falls.


Hurt, Protect, Fall, the language in his head shrieks at him.


‘Where else is there to fall?’ He thinks and laughs to himself as the tree behind him crashes against the earth and walls of the cafeteria. The brick of the wall shatters outward into the world outside and suddenly there are a million more connections, a mass of outlines outside all moving away from the impacted wall. Debris flies as the massive trunk settles in the cradle of crushed brick and mortar its created.

‘Down, I ‘spose.’ He’s laughing as the world grabs him, takes him under once more, deeper, darker, down down down. That strange language flutters out of his mouth as he twists his body around, the strings grabbed he now tugs hard They come easily with him, each their own connection, their own link to something bigger, and he's got millions of them in his hands. Laughter transitions into something deeper and much darker as the earth and surrounding environment ripples and heaves in a heavy tidal wave that follows up the curve of his torso as he twists. It’s thunderous as trees uproot, boulders roll, and the floor itself cascades up and towards Tobi.


If he doesn’t want to fall, why not make the floor come to him?


He catches himself in a roll as the floor continues to surge up. Legs push off and Tobi leaps forward to grab a passing tree and branch, running through it and out the other side to grab at another, then another until he reaches the ground. The wave crashes against the junction between the front wall and ceiling and cracks through the already weak brick there. There’s a deafening crunch as the earth and jungle Noelle had created pushes itself through the ceiling and settles there as a twisted tower of trees, rocks, and plants. The ceiling around it crumbles; small shards of brick roll down the incline Tobi had created with small, tumbling noises.

The late autumn chill eases itself slowly inside to mix strangely with the heat and humidity of the jungle. Soft breezes flutter through the now decimated front wall and oh, Tobi can work with this. He looks down to where Trevor stands below him at the base of the wreckage. Wide eyes catch Tobi’s own dark before narrowing again in a hateful glare. Something wild works its way up the base of Tobi’s spine. The radiant burn of his nerves answers in turn, flaring to a fever brightness that illuminates the dark space around him.

The sound that escapes his mouth after fills the open room, echoing against the remaining walls. It’s dark and deafening; a herald to a coming maelstrom. The soft wind coming through answers in turn as it whips into something strong and sharp enough to push the locusts aimed for him back and into the wall behind Trevor.

Hair whipping wild in the new gale he had created, surrounded by the debris of the destroyed wall and ceiling, with his nerves lit in stark white contrast and his eyes inky pools set with a silver iris, Tobi begins to advance on the boy in front of him.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Outside, camera crews have arrived. They're setting up and mobilizing just outside the area police have established themselves for the safety of those around when the earth below them trembles. Kilgrowith and the rest look towards the cafeteria just as the front wall shatters outwards and a massive tree settles in the crater it's created. He looks around at the other teachers and catches the eye of the one shouting orders from earlier. They nod at each other and move to go forward, this was getting out of hand, they'd be able to help somehow.

Another rumble, another tremble. This time its so much louder and shakes the surrounding area to its knees. Kilgrowith can only watch in horror as the ceiling above them erupts in a shower of brick and dust. Trees, boulders, earth all cascade up in a solid mass and stay there, jutted out of the ceiling. Mentally, he flicks back through his program notes. Tobias Rudolf Maynard, prefers Tobi. Burly kid, came in through the scholarship, paid the rest with an Ra position. From Mt. Airy technically, lived more on the mountains his whole life than in the town. The kid was polite, respectful, gentle despite his size and bulk. Dance club first year both semesters, cross country this year, archery begging him near constantly every semester after he had gone to one meeting with a friend freshman year.

His power had been listed as Environmental Awareness with a slight manipulation aspect. This couldn't be that, could it? He locks eyes with McKay, who seems to be thinking the same thing.

They step forward again as the breeze around them seems to be sucked into the building.

"What in the hell," McKay grumbles as the wind whips through his hair. Kilgrowith doesn't say anything aloud, but he agrees.

What in the hell, indeed.

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Re: Highmauve: Dining Hall

on Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:35 pm
She watched Tobi in complete awe from the safety of her boulder, crouched, hiding behind the great bear. The way he climbed and twisted was mesmerizing, but it was clear that Trevor was only becoming more irate. He spit, starting to destroy the place, throwing Tobi for a loop. Her heart stopped for a moment as the tree fell, hitting the wall. She carefully followed Tobi's movements, breathing in relief. It was going to be okay. She fixed her eyes on the two.

"What the fuck is going on?!"
 
She turned, wildly and saw the gangly, lanky redhead from her many writing classes. Jake. Jake McKinley. The Journalism major. Best friends with Trevor. Her memory flashed, suddenly, remembering the strange looking boy leaving Trevor for a moment. Did he seriously stay in the bathroom the whole time? 

She opened her mouth to say something, but immediately regretted it. The pain in her throat was only getting worse- it was aired and dry, cracked like her lips and the inside of her mouth. Grimacing, Noelle pulls up her heads, signing in a flurry of motion.

"You need to get out. It's getting really, really bad. Go"


But Jake just looked even more confused. He followed her motions, but there was no clarity. Damnit. So, she tried to push him towards the door, away from the chaos. But a burst of white, hot pain burst in her chest.

Noelle started seeing double, her heartbeat burning in her ears. She was holding onto this vision, this manifestation fo her words so tightly, but it was beginning to wear on her. The metaphorical egg timer was about to return to its start, and she was holding it back, feeling the pressure build and build in her head. This was something she never attempted before- holding onto her creation. The great sloth bear next to her grumbles, looking nervously at Noelle's feet. When she looked down- oh.

She now stood in an inky black puddle pooling at her feet and it's source seemed to be... her shoes? It was a dark sludge as thick as night. She tried stepping away, but it held her in place. And then it was clear to her- it wasn't coming from her. It was swallowing her. Her shoes began to sink at a glacial pace. Noelle placed her hand on the rock, desperately trying to pull herself out, but as soon as she does so, a glob of ink forms on the boulder, slowly spreading into her fingertips, dying them a dark, formless black. Her eyes widen as she stood there, stuck. 

Jake stared at her, and tried to grab her hand, to pull her out, but Noelle couldn't risk getting the ink on him, devouring him like the floor and the rock. The pressure kept building, and she looked at Tobi. She couldn't hold onto this much longer, and the wind was starting to pick up. Tobi was planning on incapacitating Trevor. It was the only way. Unable to think straight, she points to the two, looking at Jake. Noelle had no idea what he could do- she remembered him saying something about elemental manipulation? Maybe he could help?

The world became fuzzy in her eyes, the jungle becoming brighter, less and less real by the second. She shakes, unable to move, trapped.

_____________________________

Jake got the idea that Noelle could not speak to him, for whatever reason. That was expected, he guessed.

What was unexpected was the ink. It seemed to be sucking her up into it, and she looked royally freaked out about it. Guess this didn't usually happen. Any of this. Hell, he never saw Noelle use her mutation. Trevor, at most, would see if he could beat his length record for spit takes. Tobi was the only one he had seen truly stretch those muscles during Homecoming, and that was impressive on its own. Shit, he convinced one of the girls in the immersion program to stay the night because she was so shaken up about it. He then reminded himself that nothing happened with Jenna and that she had compared him to her younger brother. So that was great.

Stop getting distracted.

Homecoming was a little drizzle compared to this. This was scary and intense and purposeful. And Jake also had a gut feeling that, if Tobi knocked Trevor out, it wouldn't probably help his case. If only there was a way-

Oh yeah.

He touched the symbol on his jawline again and sighed. This was going to hurt like a bitch. No, not just a bitch. This was going to hurt like a fucking bitch. He rubbed the long symbol and looked at Noelle, his eyes glinting with that type of regret that only college students have. The 'do I take the two hours of sleep or do I just force myself to stay awake for class?' type of regret. "I got this."

Noelle looked like she wanted to strangle him. Granted, she usually looked like she wanted to strangle someone. Or like she was judging your choices. She had RBF like no other. But Jake ignored it and stepped out, yelling "Yo! Trevor!"

The grasshopper boy looked at his friend, his face twisted in rage. Before he could say anything, Jake took a deep breath, and opened his mouth again "Buddy, I think you need to go to Sleep."

As soon as Jake said it, a bursting pain in his jaw, the symbol burning bright, his skin sizzling with heat. He falls to the ground, holding his jaw, grunting in pain. No matter how much he used his mutation, the pain never got better. It felt like a branding, the symbol sinking deep, hitting his bones. The scent of burned flesh fills the air around him.

Yet, the atmosphere in the room changed. The word was directed at Trevor, but it rippled and hit everyone. Trevor fell flat, his eyes closed, breathing in a deep, deep sleep. Almost peaceful. The locusts disappear, flying away without a master to command them.

The hit made Noelle let go. The jungle, the animals, the heat became much more idealistic and less raw and real. Soon, it dissolved into nothingness, the only evidence was the now destroyed dining hall and a couple pools of ink dotted where the main trees were. The pool at Noelle's feet suddenly goes in reverse, sucking it back into her being. Noelle could barely stand, the world turning underneath her feet.

Jake writhes on the floor in pain for a couple moments longer. The writing turned to twitch, and he flicks his eyes up to Tobi, his own face a bright red from pain and anguish. He tries to offer a semblence of his usual boyish charm, but the smile looks more like a painful grimace. The symbol on his jaw looked deeper and fresh, pulsating with heat."You okay?"
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Re: Highmauve: Dining Hall

on Wed Oct 10, 2018 2:57 pm
Tobi pauses as the world around him goes quiet. His dark eyes blink owlishly as he watches Trevor’s own eyes close. The boy’s body pitches forward to the ground and his breaths even out into soft snores. Something washes over Tobi as well and he staggers forward on his feet, but stays upright. Barely.

“Wha-“ The word comes out in a warble as the world around him dissolves. The trees melt into dark pools, the grass under him fades back to reveal cracked and broken tile. Bushes and animals sink back into the smoke and ink that had spawned them, and the mass of earth, trees and rubble that he had crashed through the ceiling collapses in on itself. The earth, trees, and boulders all disappear slow to leave only brick and rubble. It falls onto the ground around them.

But. He blinks again. His head is quiet. There’s nothing there; no strange language urging him on, no static noise, nothing. He can hear himself think. He can hear. The sounds of the world around him fade back into focus. The soft clatter of rocks and debris rolling around him, the gentle stream of water out of broken pipes in the wall, the fluttering of leaves outside the building and the wind that rolls through them. He can hear far off police sirens and people chattering, can hear two figures making their way inside through the broken front wall.

And he can hear a voice from the floor behind him. Tobi turns around slow. His dark eyes fix on the boy on the floor; he looks like he’s in pain but still offers a smile. There’s a long drawn out moment where Tobi just looks at him.

“-- -ne.” he finally offers. The sentence starts in that strange creaking language but ends in something recognizable. He’s not really sure what he is right now actually, but fine's probably not be it. Aftermath is a funny thing, he thinks. It seems so removed from the chaos of not a few minutes before. He can see where the acid carved holes in the ground around them. Scattered tables and chairs are strewn across the floor; one of the chairs must have been thrown with the earthen tidal surge. It’s now embedded twenty feet up in the wall and dangling by a leg.

He walks over to the boy on the ground to offer a hand up. Jake takes it and Tobi hauls him easily to his feet. They head in separate directions then; Jake towards Trevor and Tobi towards Noelle. Jake must have been the one to put Trevor to sleep then. He knows it wasn’t himself, and it most certainly wasn’t Noelle. She’s unsteady on her feet and Tobi’s feet sprint the last couple of steps to catch her before she falls. His shoulder comes up underneath her and one hand settles around her waist as he looks towards Jake and Trevor on the ground.

This is it for Trevor, he thinks. Might be it for him too, for Noelle, maybe even Jake. The fact settles heavy in his chest as he looks at Jake trying to pull the dead weight of his friend up to carry him out. The sight's a little pathetic and twists uncomfortably in his chest. He's too busy watching, he doesn't notice two sets of footsteps approaching him from behind. One of them tries to take Noelle from him. He feels her shift against him and like hell is anyone taking her from him right now.

His head twists back, eyes wild and nerves burning bright. He shouts a word in his mother’s tongue, something sharp, warning, and profane. The area around him aligns dangerously with his breaths and the beat of his heart before he realizes he’s looking at Professor Kilgrowith and the man from earlier with the bright blue eyes. He pins Tobi with a look; it has no mutant power behind it, but Tobi can still feel himself calm.

“Easy.” The man murmurs, sounding almost annoyed. Kilgrowith raises his own hands non-threateningly. “No need to swear.”

“Kilgrowith, help them.” Mckay flicks his eyes towards Jake and Trevor. Kilgrowith nods and moves across the room to crouch in front of Jake and Trevor. Soft words are whispered, low enough that Tobi can’t hear. He’s okay with that though. The bright outlines of his nerves are fading to a soft luminesce more akin to the warm glow of fireflies than the harsh cool brilliance of lightning. Just like lightning though, his actions today have left him drained, burned, and rubbed raw. Everything hits him a little too hard and even Noelle pressed against him is a little painful to his sense of touch.

McKay pulls at Noelle again. “C’mon. I got her.” He says, softer this time. “You’re hurting, she needs support, let me do this for you, kid.” His eyes, older than they have any right to be, meet the dark of Tobi’s own. There’s nothing there that’s threatening, nothing that Tobi feels wrong about. Only concern.

Tobi hesitates for a moment but eventually rolls her off his shoulders onto McKay’s. Together, they walk a slow pace back to the front of the buildings towards the police sirens, towards the cameras, and towards the loud commotion of the gathered onlookers. Tobi’s boots follow McKay’s polished dress shoes as he picks his way across the rubble and out the front door.
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Re: Highmauve: Dining Hall

on Wed Oct 10, 2018 5:36 pm
When Tobi caught her, it literally took her breath away. She was so close to just passing out, right then and there, but his solid body kept her awake. And for good reason too. She took stock of the damage through her blurry eyes, blinking rapidly. Rubble, brick and glass laid everywhere. The place was truly destroyed. They had done this? She had a hand in this? No, that couldn't be...

Someone tried to grab her, and on reflex, she folded into Tobi. She tried to make a noise, but it only came out as a high pitched pant/whine. Noelle didn't want to leave his side, not yet. She was so incredibly tired- any comfort was exactly what she needed. So she huddles close, her fingers twitching ever so slightly. Tobi made a sound that startled her, but she stayed where she was.

She started to cough again, which just rubbed her vocal folds to further discomfort. After hacking away for a couple minutes, a singular smoke ring floats from her lips. She waves it away and suddenly notices that the very tip of her pinky was still black with the inky sludge that glued her in place. She frowns and tries to wipe it off, but it stays, stained. But, Noelle wasn't going to let a little ink stain bother her right now. There was a lot more at stake.

She opens her eyes and blinks up at... Kilgrowlith. And another professor that she had never met before. She had seen him walk the halls and the Quad. He was always sharply dressed and walked purposefully, which Noelle admired. What was his name? She heard it once or twice. Mickey? Mkey? Her baffled brain couldn't place it. It didn't matter. Kilgrowlith made his way over to Trevor's limp body and Jake's struggling form and the other professor was talking to Tobi. She half listened, her eyes focusing on the nearest pool of gooey ink, intently. She thought she saw something forming in it. Pushing, throbbing. 

She listens to McKay speak, trying to follow his words carefully but her head felt like it was made of lead. She is soon transferred over to his shoulder, and she grunts, softly. This was okay. This would work. As they start moving, she looked back at Tobi and man. She had seen long-suffering looks from that man, but this was soul crushing. She decided that she had to channel some of her mother's optimistic energy. Offering Tobi a small smile, she signs slowly, her hands stuttering ever so slightly,

"We have to stop planning dates like this."


Her hand trembles ever so slightly and the gash o her cheek was still wet with blood, but she grins as best she can. But when they cross the threshold, it changed.

As soon as the student body sees the ragtag group emerge, cheers erupt. The group of students who were basically held hostage start it, clapping, yelling Tobi's name, giving thanks. A couple reporters make their way over, cameras flashing brightly, one recording live footage. And she knew, instinctively, that this would be so hard for Tobi. So she does what she can to help.

She stands a little straighter, leading the professor away from the reporters, the cameras, the people and towards the dorms. She frowns at every camera she sees, shaking her head, making eye contact to dare anyone to stand against her. Even without her voice, the words were clear:

No Comment.
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Re: Highmauve: Dining Hall

on Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:53 am
Tobi picks his way through the rubble he had a hand in creating. A piece of rubble rolls in his way as he goes and he kicks it forward, not really sure what else to do in the moment. It’s all so overwhelming; his senses are on fire, his muscles are so sore, and he wants so bad to sit down for maybe hours, maybe days. Possibly forever. He lowers his head, pulls his shoulders in, and closes his eyes to the light seeping through the broken ceiling. After a few steps, he opens them again with a sigh to check on Noelle.

She looks worried. Probably had every right to be, this situation was a mess. Her hands raise towards him to sign and oh, he thinks. She’s worried about him. She’s making a joke for him. In this situation, surrounded by this mess, its right on the razor’s edge of ridiculous. A laugh works its way up and out of his throat regardless as he signs back.

‘Wouldn’t be a proper date without any collateral damage.’

He answers her grin with the best he can muster. A thumb comes up to Noelle’s cheek to wipe away the worst of the blood. It drags soft across her cheek to pull the wet red onto the pad of his own thumb before his fingers curl inward back on themselves. He gently cups the curve of her jaw, the look in his eyes fond, but a touch sad and scared. He has no idea what’s going to happen once they cross those doors. He has no idea what will happen to him, to Noelle, to Jake, to Trevor, to anyone in the program. HE doesn’t know how this will impact mutant professors’ jobs, how much worse it’ll make the tensions on campus.

His feet stall in front of the front doors. McKay turns both himself and Noelle around towards Tobi. Behind him, Kilgrowlith is moving slow but sure towards the door. He’s carrying Trevor bridal style. Jake walks beside the large man, still rubbing at his jaw.

McKay raises an eyebrow at Tobi. Tobi shakes his head at the man. He doesn’t know how to explain it. McKay apparently doesn’t need him to.

“Everything changes, Tobias.” He says. The light catches in his eyes; there’s an understanding there. McKay waits patiently as Tobi looks back at the destruction of the cafeteria once more before stepping forward slowly towards the two of them. He mumbles something soft in that strange language. Mckay’s head dips in a nod, the pale white strands falling forward.

“I know, kid.” His head raises again as his hand reaches out to push open the door. “It’s going to hurt.”


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Tobi realizes as the door opens that McKay meant that in every sense of the word. The lights are blinding. Camera’s flash in their direction, the bulbs shining into his still sensitive eyes. There’s a thousand different lights, a thousand different sounds, and they’re all rushing to surround him. Things are shoved in his face for an interview and a word, but he can’t focus on any one of them. It’s so much, so overwhelming. Noelle is there though, he can see her in front of him pushing her way through the crowd, glaring at reporters, turning them down and away from their small group. She’s fielding the incessant pitch of the news crews with a strong will and force of presence. He’s thankful for her right now, as disoriented as he is by the lights and sound.

He can feel a hand wrap around his wrist. Strong, sure hands guide him along and out of the mess of people towards a still bright but not as loud and nowhere near as crowded area. Lights flash in red and blue as he’s handed over to a woman in uniform. She’s asking him questions he hopes to ask for himself someday and he answers them all, adding in one of his own at them end.

Where’s Noelle?

All that comes out are garbled and warbled shreds of the strange language. A voice at his side answers nonetheless. “They’re looking her over now. She had cuts to her face and body.” A pause as he’s led away from the noise and to a nearby bench. McKay guides him down onto it before throwing a blanket at him. “They gave me this to give you.” Tobi takes it, wraps it around himself. He knows why they gave it to him, but he’s not in shock. Still, he appreciates the feel of it, and the tiny bit of warmth it provides.

McKay leans forward in his seat, his hands flicking something out of his pocket. A moment later, he leans back against the bench to take a deep drag of the cigarette he’s just lit. His eyes catch Tobi giving him a look. The older man huffs, rolls his eyes, and eases out a tired sigh.

“I’ve earned this, kid.”


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Miles and miles away, a teakettle whistles on a stove top. Graceful, yet calloused fingers flick the burners off and pull the teakettle off the stove. It tips forward into an old mug, one gifted to her by her brother. He had found it in one of the campus’s thrift stores and thought of her. The tea bag swirls in the hot liquid and she lets it steep for one minute, two minutes, four.

Tea made, Agnes folds herself onto the couch in her living room in front of the tv. Her phone buzzes as she sets the mug on top of the end table to pick up the phone. Winter’s texting her now. She smiles as her fingers tap at the screen to send a litany of teasing, sweet nothings towards the girl. God, she loved to tease, and Winter was so fun to rile. Sunshine leaps up onto the couch then to settle her massive bulk into Agnes’s side. One hand comes to rest on the massive dog’s head while the other reaches for a remote.

“Let’s see wha’s on, yeah?” she murmurs to the dog.


Flingers flick through the channels slowly, lazily. She's not even looking for anything in particular, just something to fall asleep too. Price is right was always good for that, late night Jeopardy reruns or whatever police procedural they ran had the same effect. The channel lands on the evening news. Perfect, she thinks as she settles in on the couch. Her body leans against the dog and she pulls a blanket up from where it had been wadded on the floor to tuck herself in. The anchor on the tv transitions then into some breaking news.

Huh, Agnes thinks sleepily as she watches. Looks a lot like that cafeteria. Her eyes fade shut to the beat of the anchors words describing the scene. A moment more, and she's out. She snores through the on scene reporter's description of the destruction and their recounting of what happened that night. She misses when her brother, Noelle, and some man who would have never seen before come out the front doors. She doesn't see how her twin looks more like their mother than ever before, and she most certainly misses the way the cameras move in towards the mutant they laud as the hero.

The soft glow of the television flickers across Agnes's sleeping form in the dark room. More and more, the television praises this sudden hero, the college boy who stepped up to help save innocent students from a dangerous mutant out of control.

On the end table, the tea goes cold.
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Re: Highmauve: Dining Hall

on Thu Oct 11, 2018 2:34 am
Noelle didn't get very far before someone stopped her, noticing the cut on her cheeks. And in her weakened state, it didn't take much to pull her away. She blinks

The world was so much louder than it was earlier. People were trying to get to her, to talk to her about what exactly happened inside, what her part was in all of it. Noelle responds with scalding looks and silence, waiting as someone started to patch up her cheek and arms. They start to ask questions to, but she signs the most basic answer, her eyes searching for Tobi, desperately. She was so tired, so very tired. She wasn't going to last long out here. But her eyes met someone else.

Jake gave her a short smile. He was also being looked over, but he tried to explain that pain he was experiencing was purely from his mutation. That he wasn't in the cafeteria for most of the things that happened. That, yes, technically he had been the one that put Trevor to sleep, but Tobi and Noelle were the ones that really took control. His eyes keep flicking to Noelle- he had something important to say. Which made her increasingly nervous. In those last moments, she forgot that Trevor was Jake's friend. His best friend.

Oh my God.

What was going to happen to him? Noelle began to truly process the situation- Trevor snapping could have been any of them. If they had been pushed far enough, they would have been the one carried into the police car. And Jake knew this kid, was close to him. She winces.

After they patched her up and got her statement, she made her way over to the red-headed boy with two bottles of water. She hands one to him, watching silently. He didn't seem particularly traumatized, but his stare was far off, watching his friend get loaded up and driven away. He begins to open the water "Thanks."

Silence.

Noelle wished she could speak, offer some semblance of comfort. Instead, she pulls out her phone and opens her contacts, handing it to him. She knew that Jake would be vulnerable and hurt and she would be damned if another situation like this happened again.  If all she needed to do was check on one person, make a connection? Noelle was willing to put her feelings about human contact aside. Jake looks at the phone, understanding completely. He quickly puts his number in and hands it back. "Just shoot me a text. When things quiet down... We can hang. You know, talk about this. Or not. We can get completely shitfaced. If you want."

Noelle nods, staring at him. She never really took notice before, but she became hyper-aware of each symbol on his face. Did each of them do a different thing? There had to be dozens dotting his cheeks and neck. Wow.

After a moment, Noelle's eyes finally meet Tobi's and she begins to make her way over. She has a large cotton pad taped to her face and is only wearing her soft, cotton tank top and her skirt. Her arms and legs are etched with bandages and gauze and her eyes are slightly glassy, but she strides over. She ignores the cameras, the reporters, the questions. Her focus is on one thing only. 

She arrives at the bench, her eyes locking with Tobi. This was all too much, for both of them. She felt completely drained and if she had the chance, she could sleep for a thousand years. All Noelle wanted to do was take Tobi somewhere private and fall asleep, forget about this mess for a little while. The aftermath was always the worse, and she could feel the seismic shift of the student body even now. Her eyes also meet McKay's. She's dazed and unsure of herself, so she signs.

Now what?


____________________

Once Jake was thoroughly questioned, he retreated the area, finding the nearest secluded wall and sinks down. His jaw throbbed and radiated pain still, but he was able to move it now. His fingers gently touch the symbol and he hisses. 

Svefnthorn.

That's what it was called. An ancient symbol that was often used to put enemies asleep for a long time. 

Was that what Trevor was? An enemy?

Jake shuddered at the thought. How could this have gotten so fucked? Trevor would never hurt a fly, he helped people with homework, he volunteered on the weekends.

Still. He hurt people. Yes, he was all of those things, but he hurt people. The boy with the hole in his hand and the girl with the burns on her face were rushed away, but Jake heard about it. And now, Trevor was going to be arrested and tried. It was insane.

His eyes flick to the bench that Tobi and Professor McKay sat. Noelle made her way over. Jake always had a feeling about her- she was quiet but was gutsy. Dangerous combo. He watches as the only two people who had an inkling of what he was feeling looked confused and lost. He ducked his own head. The world suddenly felt very small. He needed a change of scenary. He needed to get out.

Maybe they wanted to join.
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Re: Highmauve: Dining Hall

on Thu Oct 11, 2018 11:17 am
Tobi’s tired. He’s past tired, actually, he’s exhausted. His body settles heavy into the space carved out by the two of them in the middle of all this chaos and he just… exists for a minute. He doesn’t think, doesn’t speak, doesn’t do much of anything for a good long time except stare out at the space around him, bathed in the pulsing red and blue light of police lights. The crowd of reporters is still trying to get to them, but its hard to get past the police barrier and ambulance crews. Thank god. Even if he could answer questions, he doesn’t really want any part of a dozen people asking him the same question in rapid succession.

He flips the bright shock blanket over his face as he leans back on the bench. Beside him, he can smell the sharp, acrid tang of smoke, hear the soft breathing of the man as he smokes the cigarette down to a stub. It’s a strange tic for such a polished man. Gives him something small to focus on though, a small, soft action that doesn’t overwhelm his senses the same way the loud voices and flashing lights do. He sits there in the company of the professor for a long moment until he can hear soft steps coming towards him.

Noelle’s standing there in front of the two of them when he pulls the blanket off his eyes. She’s looking so tired, so worn standing there. Her shirt looks like it’s been destroyed, so she’s got on only the cotton t shirt to defend her from the chill of the autumn afternoon. Gauze covers a multitude of cuts from the locusts; he knows the feeling. His leather jacket had protected him from the worst of it, but the exterior had been shredded. He’s still wearing it, hasn’t had the presence of mind or the chance to take it off, but it sits in shreds across his broad frame.

He catches her sign. He wishes he knew. He makes a tired, exhausted noise and leans his head back against the bench again, muttering soft in that strange language. Tobi misses the way her gaze flicks to McKay, but he hears the other man speak.

“Your friend seems to think the next best option is ‘sleep forever’.” He doesn’t bring his hands up to make them, but Tobi can hear the air quotes. “Personally,” he pauses. Looks out at the mess around them and sighs.

“I’m inclined to agree. Seeing as how I’m considered an adult, however, I have to stay.” He stands. Up close, he’s shorter than the both of them, but he carries himself with enough self-possession and confidence that his presence dwarfs the two. His fingers stub out the cigarette on the wooden bench, leaving a little ashen circle. Bright blue eyes pin Noelle as he looks over at her.

“You can go.” He nods his head towards both. “I’ll handle this.” There’s a solid certainty in his voice that feels a lot like a promise as he moves towards the mass of reporters all trying to get pictures of them from a distance.

“Can’t fire me at least, I’ve got tenure.” He grumbles as he passes Noelle.


Cameras flash and voices crescendo as he walks towards the mass of reporters. They all stumble and move to get a better view of the man, back lit by camera lights now in the dark of the night to Noelle and Tobi. All the attention is on him now instead of on Noelle and Tobi, and Tobi has never felt more grateful. He stands shakily from the bench with the blanket wrapped around his shoulders. An arm is thrown around Noelle and he’s leading the two of them away. He doesn’t have a specific destination in mind, just…away.

A little down the way, he sees Jake. Poor kid looks so lost. If Tobi remembers right, he and Trevor were close. Now, the kid is just sunk against the nearest wall, staring in the direction the ambulance left with his friend. That’s gotta be th’worst goddam’ed feelin’, Tobi thinks. Gotta be awful, dealin’ with tha’ alone. Mind made up, he drags the two of them towards the kid’s hiding spot. Tobi doesn’t know what he’s doing, doesn’t know what he could possibly say.

He just knows that the kid looks as lost as he feels.
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Re: Highmauve: Dining Hall

on Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:13 pm
Jake head raises as soon as the pair stops by and he can't help but offer his customary half-smile. It's second nature, to try and make light of situations that was tough on everyone. And they both looked like they needed it- threadbare and worn out, he was unsure who was supporting who. Noelle's arms and face were covered with bandages and she looked like if Tobi let go, she would fade away into nothingness. Or ink. The image of her glued to the floor and that rock- scary shit. Meanwhile, Tobi looked like he was going to keel over right then and there. His newly dark eyes were drooping.

They looked how Jake felt. Wrung out. Exhausted. A little scared.

Didn't matter. He stood up to his full height, towering over both of them. His fingers twitch ever so slightly, and he's careful not to move his jaw the wrong way. The throbbing was less now, but it was still there. A pulsating reminder of what he had to do to keep everyone safe. Yeah, he needed to get out. 

They looked like they needed to too.

"Hey. Cool stuff back there." He says, grinning a little bit more. His eyes glint, the sadness and fear fading back "But I'm kinda over this three-ring media circus. I mean, isn't there a pumpkin carving contest or something that they can go check out?"

Not great content, but it was something. He looked at Noelle, who seemed to be regarding him like he was a bug on a stick.

He winces. That wasn't an analogy that was sitting well with him. It brought a wave of guilt in his stomach. So he changes the narrative in his head. He looked at these two sad looking college students. Their well of power was dry. And while he didn't know them in anything else than passing, this experience bonded them.

"I'm leaving." He says, carefully "Obviously not for long. Probably be back tomorrow night. I'm going to say its safe to guess that they are going to cancel classes tomorrow. And most teachers would be insane to not call off classes the day after that. Anyways, I'm just gonna... drive. I need to... to get out. And, as I told Noelle a little while ago, you guys can come with. We can talk about this. Or not. I've got some cheap alcohol and some music. No obligation, of course."

He waits for a couple moments, gauging their responses. 

_____________________________

Noelle follows carefully, her brain still fuzzy and not completely responsive. She curls into Tobi, watching Jake. It was amazing to her that, one second ago, he was watching his friend go, regret playing on his face, and now, he was cracking jokes and trying to make them feel better? Noelle had no clue how he could do that.

In her dazed state, she actually considered his offer. She looked at Tobi, her eyes and face looking at him for his thoughts. She really just wanted to get as far away from this mess. Jake had a point- classes would be canceled at least for tomorrow. They could go with the strange, gawky kid. Maybe they should go.
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Re: Highmauve: Dining Hall

on Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:57 pm
Tobi looks over at Noelle as she looks at him considering. Kid was right about classes at least, they were probably going to cancel them, at least for tomorrow. Well, he thinks. That’s one way to get out of a quiz.

He dips his head, so so tired, then raises it again to look at the world around him one last time. Police were pushing onlookers and the press to the side. The cameras were all flashing and trained on Mckay who was now joined by Kilgrowlith. Both looked to be explaining the situation to the press as best they could. The police lights still pulse their slow red and blue across the area while spotlights are set up to better illuminate the crime scene – god, it was a crime scene now- as police worked their way across it stringing tape and collecting evidence.

The sight makes his stomach roll. He had done so much of that, that had been him punching holes in walls and ceilings and ripping up tile. He grips the blanket around his neck a little tighter and rolls the material between the pads of his fingers. He needs to sleep, but he also needs to get away from here, from the skeletal remains of the cafeteria building and the flashing lights. He needs quiet, he needs to breathe, he needs to sleep this off for a day or twenty.

Jake’s giving them all an out. He looks the tall student over with tired, appraising eyes. He’s just as worn out as the rest of them, maybe even more so. Trevor was his friend. Tobi can’t imagine if it had been any one of his friends he had to knock out and watch get taken away by police and paramedics.

Noelle curls into him. He wraps an arm tighter around her. “I’m down f’tha.” He tries to say and looks at the group. They look back at him with a confused expression. He furrows his brows and tries again. All that comes out is the groaning creak of the slow settling of the earth and a quiet fluttering of leaves. Oh yeah.

He repeats himself in sign this time. Noelle gets the message, but Jake still looks at him confused. Must not sign then.

Tobi tries once more, as basic as he can. His fingers point between the three of them before he makes a walking motion with two of his fingers. He finishes it with a pointed thumb over his shoulder and away from the mess surrounding the broken building.

We. Go. Away.
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Re: Highmauve: Dining Hall

on Thu Oct 11, 2018 2:09 pm
Jake frowns as they try to communicate with him in the most fucked up game of charades. Well, not really. The most fucked up game of charades that he ever played was with his older brother and sisters and a couple cousins, where 'Kindergarten Cop' turned into 'Man bathes in the blood of children", which then turned into a game of dirty words, which turned back to charades, then to a card game which had a charade element. But this was pretty close. 

His eyes follow Tobi's last-ditch effort and he finally understands. His eyes gain a more mischevious glow. "Alright. Cool. I'll meet you at the front entrance of the campus. I drive a tan minivan. Can't-miss it. Park warm if you are going to pack. Oh! And bring blankets."

Jake meets Noelle's eyes and then flick to Tobi's before he trudges away, head down, toward the south side of campus.

__________________________

Noelle watches him leave and sighs, which causes her to cough profusely. She opens the water bottle in her hand, opening it, and drains it in less than a minute. Her throat and lips felt so dry and cracked, and the water did help. She coughs again, clearing her throat. It was still incredibly painful to even try to speak aloud. Finally, she looks back at Tobi, signing:

"Did we really just agree to go on a trip with a stranger?"


She begins to move them to their dorm buildings, her's being closer. She's moving slowly, and she keeps blinking the sleep away from her eyes. In any other state of mind, she would have probably refused. But Noelle was so tired and pliable and willing to do anything to remove herself from the situation. She huddled even closer to Tobi, his warmth the only thing that was protecting her from the cool October evening. Incredibly gently, she places her head on his shoulder, yawning. Wherever Jake took them, she hoped it would give her time to sleep. And forget about the sinking feeling of dread that sat in her stomach.

Was it irresponsible? Oh, for sure. Was she going to do it? No doubt.
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Re: Highmauve: Dining Hall

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