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Roadtrip: Dining Hall Aftermath

on Thu Oct 11, 2018 10:24 pm
Thursday, October 28th, 2008


6:30 PM


Jake’s minivan was very unassuming on the outside. It was a tan-gold with a couple dents on the passenger side door and the area right by the bumper is rusting just a little bit. The car was running fine but it was definitely hadn’t received any TLC since his mom gave it to him for her new used-car. The mini was his baby, and while it was trashy on the outside, Jake took special care of the interior.


The back row of seats was folded away in lieu of a super soft and thick mattress that was adorned with clean sheets, a half dozen thick fleece blankets and a bunch of pillows. One of the two pilot seats was folded down and in its usual place are three plastic coolers wrapped in colorful and faded beach towels. A battered portable DVD player is in a bag as well as a couple of movie cases; Ferris Bueller's Day off, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles and the like. Bags of chips and pretzels sit in a large tote which lays next to a duffle bag. Hanging are dim string lights that twinkle ever so slightly. Meanwhile, the front seat was an organized mess. CDs and tapes litter the center console with strange labels such as Jasmine's Jammie Jams and Bangers and Mash. Soda bottles are crammed in a paper grocery bag. Each cupholder is meant for something- receipts, change, bottle caps, and the like. The car radio is on a local station.


Fingers drum on the wheels. Jake was waiting right by the entrance of the university, waiting for Noelle and Tobi to emerge. It had only been about a half hour since they split, but he was anxious to get out of town. Possibly out of state. He had no clue where they were going to go. Or even if Tobi and Noelle were going to show. He was going to give it fifteen more minutes and then he was going to split.


He iced his jaw for a little bit when he got to his apartment and shoved some clothes in a bag, showered, and changed into some sweatpants and a hoodie. His jaw still throbbed ever so slightly but it was pretty much back to normal. But Jake couldn't shake the shame and guilt. If he had just stayed with Trevor, none of this happened.


Jake sighed and starting going through his mix CDs, trying to figure out what they were going to listen to.


___________________________________________________


Noelle sat outside Tobi's dorm, ready to walk together. She held a thermos filled with tea and she drank every couple of moments. Her throat didn't feel as fried, but she still hadn't gained her voice. And, the ink on her pinky hadn't washed off no matter how hard she scrubbed in the shower, so she kept her hands inside the sleeves of her sweatshirt. She shivered, despite the thick hoodie and blanket she had draped over her shoulder. The necklace that Tobi's mother had given her was laying against her chest, under her sweater. She had the hood up and was staring at the ground. Waiting.


She was so so so so tired. All she wanted to do was to wrap herself in a billion blankets and hibernate until next semester. She couldn't help going over everything that happened that day, her brain going over every detail, every moment. She couldn't distract herself. Everyone saw her go into her dorm and cleared their way, but she heard the whispers and saw them pointing. Talking about her abilities. She was starting to really feel like a fish in a bowl. So, she shoved some clothes in her messenger bag, fed her cat, showered and left. And now, she waited, yawning, her head lolling in sleep.
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Re: Roadtrip: Dining Hall Aftermath

on Thu Oct 11, 2018 11:04 pm
Tobi’s nerves are on fire. Every little sensation, every little noise, every little sound, taste, and touch is too much, too intense. The feeling had only grown since he had walked up to his dorm room; the adrenaline was fading off fast and leaving him a hypersensitive mess. He had shrugged off the clothes he was wearing in favor of his softest, loosest sweatpants, his most worn in hoodie with no shirt on underneath, and a pair of beat up flip flops Agnes had bought him from their last thrift store visit because she knew he would wear them if she gave them to him. His nerves are still lightly glowing and just the faintest outline of them can be seen through his clothes.

So here he was, rainbow patterned flip flops softly hitting the dorm floor as he makes his way downstairs in what are essentially pajamas. His arms are full of one of his favorite quilts. Tucked into the folds is what’s left of the latest jar of his ma’s blackberry moonshine. He’ll need it if he wants to find any sort of comfort tonight.

Students still milling in the dorm are giving him curious looks. Those who had been to the cafeteria earlier back away to give him a wide berth. Some look at him in fear, others with angry, still others with gratefulness. It’s a total mixed bag of emotions that he experiences as he walks down the stairs to end up in front of the front door. A hand reaches out, his fingers grip at the handle. It’s too cold, smooth, loud; his face pulls into a wince as he pulls his hand back as if stung. Dark eyes stare balefully at the door handle.

Guess this i’where I die, he thinks mournfully. Can’t e'en get out the dorm.

A smaller hand reaches past him to pull open the door. One of the students from his hall, he recognizes him, had seen him in the crowd of onlookers at the cafeteria. The man nods to him as he pulls the door fully open and motions for him to move through, not saying a word. Tobi is almost overcome with gratefulness. After tonight, the small kindness is enough to undo him. The day’s events play past his eyes for just a quick moment as he nods back. He makes a metal note to treat all his floor mates to something nice when he gets back. He really does owe them so much.

He steps through the door and feels it close softly behind him with hardly a sound. Noelle is standing there, looking as worn as he feels. He catches her attention, signs slow.

“Ready?”
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Re: Roadtrip: Dining Hall Aftermath

on Thu Oct 11, 2018 11:30 pm
Noelle looks at Tobi, grateful for his presence. She wanted nothing more than to wrap her arms around him and hold him tightly to her being, but she had seen his hypersensitivity before. So, she decides against it. She follows his sign, and nods, walking next to him towards the entrance to campus. Her walking is kin to a trudge. They walk in silence, the comfortable silence that had accompanied their relationship since the beginning. They walked the path from the first day they met, her hand twitching every so often.

She was unsure if Tobi's sudden change in language was permanent. If it was, it was fine, she honestly didn't mind. But she was beginning to miss the thick drawl, the darlin's, the comforting drops of his g's. The rumble in his chest when he spoke. Understanding him completely.

They arrived at the car and Jake looked out, grinning wide. He steps out, looking them over. Noelle moved closer to Tobi, holding her blanket tightly. She hoped that they could get in the car and go.

_________________________________

The two looked like shadows of their former selves. Jake was glad that they were coming with- they looked like they needed a vacation. And he was happy to oblige.

"Hey, guys. You look just about how I feel." Jake moves to the back of the car, popping the trunk and revealing the interior. He didn't need to look at their faces- these crazy kids were in need of a nice, cozy bed, and he swore that his little trunk mattress was about 100X more comfortable than the blocks of wood that were the dorm's beds. "Alright, kids. Listen up. The red cooler-" He points "- is produce. Got some berries, some carrots, some celery. The blue-" pointing again "-is alcohol. I got beer, Vodka, Fireball, and some wine coolers for the lady." 

Noelle threw him a scalding look, but he lifted his arms  "Just a joke. You can knock back anything you want as long as you don't drive. I can't promise any of it is good, but I can promise that it will get you drunk quick. The yellow-" pointing a third time "-is regular drinks. I got water, some lemonade, and some soda. I'm going to pick up some hot drinks, but if you're asleep, I'm not promising anything. Feel free to watch a movie. Take any snacks you find I take suggestions for music and I've got a wide selection of CDs and tapes made by me. Feel free to peruse. First aid is in the netting behind the driver's seat. And I only have one rule." 

He pauses and looks between the two of them "Please, no fucking in the back. I don't ask for much, but I only have one mattress that fits back here and I prefer it not to be stained."

Jake watched as Noelle's eyes go wide and her face turns bright red. She doesn't meet either of the boy's eyes.

"You two can take the back. I'm going to drive. Any questions?"

It's rhetorical. He knows he couldn't understand them in the moment anyways.
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Re: Roadtrip: Dining Hall Aftermath

on Fri Oct 12, 2018 12:00 am
A mattress, Tobi thinks as Jake pops open the back. Tha’s a mattress in the back a’ his car, he thinks again. He’s hardly listening to Jake now, too many words there, too much to focus on. All he can see right now is that mattress and the promise of sleep as another person drives him far, far away from this mess. It’s ideal, honestly.

He catches just the tail end of Jake’s speech. He explains his one rule, and Tobi hits him with the deadest, coldest glare he can muster given the situation. Not that he wasn’t open to it, there was just no way he was doing anything even slightly active for the next week. Tobi rolls his eyes and moves forward to climb into the back of the van. It occurs to him briefly that he is literally climbing into a stranger’s van, but there’s a mattress here. That seems to trump anything else in his mind.

He can feel the soft give of it underneath his hand as he pulls himself onto the plush surface. His blanket unrolls, and the jar comes tumbling out. Calloused hands grab at it, wincing as he does, but he manages to hold on long enough to throw the jar full of what could be considered blackberry flavored medical antiseptic into a cooler. Red one, he thinks blearily as he tries to commit it to memory before passing out.

His head hits one of the pillows on the mattress and the sigh that escapes him is every warm summer breeze, every soft rush of wind through empty mountain tops. It’s relief, it’s bliss, it’s everything he needed right now and for once, he knows he’s going to fall asleep. His senses are already alert and searching; it’s so easy to let them pour into the world around him. He’s filled with a deep sense of peace and calm as he relaxes his mind into the warm comfort of the earth, the wind, the trees. Breaths match to the beat of world, his heartbeat settles into something slow and soft, and he’s out hard.


The ground below them trembles as he snores loud in the small space of the van.


Underneath his hoodie, the soft glow surrounding his spine pulses slow in time with his breaths. His glasses mush against his face as he settles hard into the pillow and underneath his quilt. He’s out, and for good, long time.
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Re: Roadtrip: Dining Hall Aftermath

on Fri Oct 12, 2018 12:26 am
Noelle watches as Tobi climbs in and promptly fell asleep. She feels the world working with him in tandem and she breathes out her reservations. She hadn't realized how nervous she was about Tobi not falling back into that pattern and how relieved that he did.

She carefully climbs in the back of the car, next to Tobi, carefully nestling next to him. She covers herself with her own blanket and grabs a couple of the pillows and blankets that Jack provided. This was around the time that Jake closed them up and went to the front seat, looking through his CDs. Noelle took off her shoes, neatly, and looked at Tobi, smiling ever so slightly. She takes off his flip-flops, and glasses, distributing the latter in a nearby cup holder. She settles herself again, feeling the softness of the mattress, the car humming beneath them. She sips her tea, then takes off her own glasses, settling into sleep.

__________________________

Jake found the CD he was looking for. Between Mom, you play this one and Teen Bops was the key to a restless night of driving and caffine. He shoves it into the reader, starting the car. As he starts driving into town, towards the interstate, Temper Trap's Sweet Disposition plays. His Nighttime Riders mix was full of chill songs that wouldn't wake the sleepers in the back. Of course, that is assuming that they were going to wake at all. 

He drums his fingers on the wheel, keeping his eyes foreward as he passes through town. He isn't sure where they are going, but a green exit sign gave him an idea.

He always heard Pennsylvania was nice.

____________________________________
7 hours later


Noelle sighed underneath the warmth a pressure of Tobi’s body. She murmurs something, her voice still a little rusty, but she could at least vocalize. A soft breeze tickled her toes, and she opened an eye, expecting to see Tobi’s room. Maybe they fell asleep on the couch again. Would explain why they were so scrunched up. But the cushions were very soft and comfortable. She frowns. This wasn’t right. All she saw was the hazy string lights and… an open trunk? Were they in a car?


There was a bump on the roof and adrenaline pumped through Noelle. She carefully sat up, crawling to the edge of the trunk. Her eyes adjusted to the darkness- they were in some sort of field. This wasn’t right. Where were they?! Then a ghoulish face flipped down from the roof of the car.


Noelle let out a high, whistle-like scream, forcing air out of her burning esophagus.She was just about to push Tobi awake, when the face spoke “Hey, hey. You okay?”


“Wha- Where… Jake?” Noelle croaked, squinting her eyes. She moved closer to Tobi instinctively. “What’s... What’s going on? Where are we?”


Jake gave a low chuckle “Pennsylvania. You agreed on a spontaneous road trip. Come on.” He reaches down a skinny arm “Come on up. The big lug didn’t wake up to my truly talented rendition of ABBA’s Dancing Queen, he’s gonna sleep through the night. Surprised you even woke up.”


Noelle looks at the hand, tentatively. She chews her lip, considering. She knew she was going to be up for a while, just laying back and thinking about the day’s events. It was slowly coming back to her- Trevor, the jungle, Tobi’s change, Jake, the reporters, McKay…. It was a lot. She needed to decompress. So, Noelle put on her glasses, took the hand and climbed to the roof of the car.


The sky was exploding with light and color. A million, billion stars twinkled across the dark sky- bright blues and warm yellows twirl together in patterns and constellations. What looked like a giant tear ripped through the sky which allowed for even more brilliant purples and oranges. It took Noelle’s breath away, and it distracted her from the fact that there was a made-up air mattress tied to the roof of the car. Jake sat, his legs stretched out in front of him, staring up at the sky. Next to his matress was a thermos of coffee and a bag of tortilla chips. Even though it was the middle of the night, his face was lit by the multitude of twinkling lights in the sky, iluminating his half tic smile.


“Did you know that Cherry Springs State Park is alleged to have the best view of the night sky in the country?” Jake mused, leaning back “Of course, those camp spots are sold months in advance. We’re about twenty minutes out. Still looks good.”


Noelle nods, bringing her knees to her chin, silently watching. She knew Jake was watching her, waiting for her to get settled to ask her a question. She allowed it.


“So. The ink.”


Noelle doesn’t meet his eyes. But Jake continues “Look, I don’t care. I just want to know if I’m allowed to talk about it in front of Tobi. Because of the last thing we all need is me to say something like ‘Oh my God, that coffee is as dark as the ink Noelle was being sucked into’, you know?”


From anyone else, it would have been very rude and Noelle would have just shut down. But his voice was full of life and friendliness, and she decided to not be offended. She sighed and said in a very quiet croak “I would like to tell him myself… Thanks..”


“Oh. Okay.”


Silence.


Then.


“Do you want to talk about it?”


Noelle didn’t bite at first, but after some coaxing and jokes, Jake got the girl to speak. And they talked for hours and hours, starting with the day and the craziness. They talked about their abilities, their limitations. Their fears. Noelle talked about Tobi and Jake talked about his massive family.


______________________


Jake listened to Noelle work through her croaked words. Jake couldn’t believe that he ever thought she was quiet. Even with her frog voice, she worked through her thoughts about the day, and how proud she was of Tobi, but her fears that this would just push him away even more from society and, as a result, Noelle.


“Noelle.” Jake shook his head “Look, I don’t know you super well. In fact, before today, I thought your last name was Prescott. But, I’ve seen you and Tobi around campus. Everyone has. And that guy is crazy for you. Like head over heels, in love with you. Stop being stupid and doubting that. It’s just gonna hurt you in the long run.”


She listened, surprisingly. There was silence. So Jake changed the subject.


“Sorry to bring it up again. But the ink. I think I saw some on your-”


Noelle takes out her hand, the tip of her little finger still inky black. She didn’t meet Jake’s eye, which he guessed was because she felt embarrassed about it. But he didn’t really care. He reached out a hand “May I?”




Noelle furrowed her eyebrows, and Jake rolled his eyes “Shut up, I just talked about how in love with you your boyfriend is. And he could kick my ass to Mexico. I think I can help.”


The girl squinted her eyes but gave him her hand. He inspected it and muttered, very quietly “Clean”


He winces and clutches his left shoulder, grunting, squeezing his eyes shut. He breathes heavily but gets himself through it. When he finally opens his eyes, Noelle was staring at in wonder her newly cleaned pinky. “What do you think-”


“I don’t know-” Jake groans, rolling his shoulder “I don’t know what it was. Or is. I don’t know if it’ll come back. I don’t even know if it was good or bad or just there.”


Jake kept panting slightly, beginning to rub his shoulder again. After a moment Noelle gives a small “Thank you.”  She stays on that roof with him, watching the stares, a safe distance from the lanky boy. She occasionally pointed to the stars, drawing constellations real and fictitious.


“You see, that one is Ursa Major. It’s the easiest one to find” Noelle croaked


“Nah, you’re getting it confused with the Big Dipper.”


“But they’re-”


“I know, I know. It was a joke.” Jake pointed to a line of stars “Just like how that is OBrians Skirt”


“Orion’s belt.”


They started creating their own constellations. Jake’s were mainly observations around him. A bird, a tree. Noelle found dragons, and tesseracts, and pegasi. This continued until Noelle began to feel tired again. She yawned, shivering in the cold night.


“Go back down, dude. I’m gonna sleep up here. And it’s not going to be dark for that much longer.”


Noelle looked at him, nodded and retreated back into the arms of the burly mountain man. Meanwhile, Jake stared at the stars, following the constellations they had just discovered until he too fell asleep.


________________________


Noelle relaxes and sleeps in Tobi’s arms throughout the night, his warmth radiating to her core. She drools slightly, snoring softly. She nuzzles her face into his neck, murmuring something in her sleep. Something peaceful.


The sun started to rise, filling the sky with a warm, autumnal light. A breeze keeps whispering through the field, making the grass hiss ever so slightly. The sky is a cornflower blue, dotted with wispy white clouds. The sounds of birds and small rodents running through the grass filled the morning air, a comforting alarm to the new day.
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Re: Roadtrip: Dining Hall Aftermath

on Fri Oct 12, 2018 1:21 am
Tobi sleeps soundly through the night. It’s a sleep borne from weeks of little to none, of exhaustion, of sore muscles and overworked minds. His snores are loud when they come, rumbling low in his chest and in the space of the van. It’s what he’s craved for weeks now.

The world around him wakes as the sun does. It pours over the landscape, casting its warmth over the grass softly blowing in the breeze. It’s a softly whispered word, something secret and soft just for him. The air is fresh and clean and crisp, but underneath his quilt, he’s plenty warm. His mind comes back to him slowly as he takes in his surroundings. He’s on a mattress. Not his mattress by the feel of it. Just a mattress.

He sleepily turns over, feeling the world shift with him as he does, only to be faced with a metal wall. That weren’t right, he thinks blearily. His eyes narrow in half asleep confusion. He can feel something rise in him, a tense and alert edge. Where in the hell…?

“Good morning!” A voice chirps loudly from the front seat, and damn if that don’t startle Tobi something fierce.


“Son of a----!” Tobi’s deep, startled drawl thunders from something comprehensible into the guttural fluttering stop of a mess of birds leaving treetops in alarm. The earth underneath them rumbles and cracks in alarm as he shouts. It shakes the car, knocks the coolers back and forth across the car floor. He rises faster than his body likes; the sudden rush of adrenaline throws him off balance. His back hits the back of the van and pops the doors open to let him tumble out and into the soft grass.

Dark, wild eyes flick around in alarm to take in his surroundings. He’s in an open space. He turns around fully. A lovely… open space. He looks towards where he stumbled out of: it’s just a van with a mattress in the back. Two faces look back at him through the open back. Noelle has propped herself up on her elbows on the mattress, looking sleepy and confused. Jake is in the front, he must have been the one who wished him good morning. Tobi’s still confused, and the tiniest bit wary.

“How…? ------? ------- -did w- get here?” his speech is an odd mix of English and that strange language from before. At least the cadence is recognizable, as is the general meaning. The wind runs soft through the area, ruffling his hair and the grass as it passes.

He's drawn tense, ready to fight or flight. It's a stupid, sleepy response. His brain hasn't quite caught up to his body yet, hasn't yet realized that there's no danger here.


Last edited by HerpdaDerp on Fri Oct 12, 2018 2:17 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Roadtrip: Dining Hall Aftermath

on Fri Oct 12, 2018 2:13 am
Jake was truly going to tell Tobi where he was, Like Noelle the night before, he knew the man was groggy when he made the decision to hang out in his van and go on a little trip. But as soon as Tobi started speaking, he could see how freaked out he was. He watched as Tobi tumbles out of the car, and Jake follows him, smiling ever so mischievously. He sees Noelle stir, and tilting her head, trying to figure out what she was seeing. Jake was grateful that Tobi was back to at least half English, so he at least understands the feeling behind the freakout.

"Easy, Tobi. Come on. You and Noelle decided to take a little trip with me. You crashed pretty hard last night. Slept over twelve hours." Jake's voice and demeanor was calm, trying to coax Tobi into a sense of security. He should have realized that Noelle was the better choice to take charge.

She yawns, sleepily, her hair a mess, but puts on her glasses. When she speaks, it sounds like she has a wicked case of strep, but at least she was speaking. "Hey... It's okay. We agreed to this, remember? We're in Pennsylvania, about six hours out from school. We're fine. Okay?"

She starts to climb out the van, stretching, reaching out to him for him. For his support. Jake watched, staying back. He didn't want to startle the poor guy any more than he was.
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Re: Roadtrip: Dining Hall Aftermath

on Fri Oct 12, 2018 11:59 am
Yesterday. Tobi thinks back to what he remembers. Trevor and his freak out, Noelle and the jungle, his sudden darkness in vision and the resulting destruction. Things get a little fuzzier after that, but he does remember police lights, professor Kilgrowlith, and professor McKay. Feels like he has a very vague recollection of agreeing on a trip. He’s here though and so is Noelle, so he must have. Scenery’s nice, he thinks as he lets the remaining tension bleed out of his shoulders as Noelle lets him know what’s going on.

God, her throat sounds so rough. Must have really done a number on it with that jungle. He doesn’t think that’s a normal thing with her power though; the few times he had seen her use it, her voice had been fine afterwards. ‘Guess we both jus’ wore ourselves out somethin’ bad,’ he thinks and slowly makes his way back over to the van. Grass swishes as he walks through it. It’s a comforting sound, soothes him better than most anything else.

This whole atmosphere really. Forest around them, open sky above them; the whole thing is doing wonders to put him at ease. He thinks it’s a pity he missed last night, the night sky must have been gorgeous. Maybe they’ll stay another, and he could explore the forest around, just take a day and be in the woods and forget about some worries for a while. Forget about what’s happening, what could happen, what will happen.

One hand reaches out towards Noelle when he gets close enough to the van. He grabs her gently, pulls her softly towards him, and catches her in a hug.

This, he needs this. He hadn’t gotten to last night with as scrubbed raw as his nerves were, but today? Today he holds onto her with an almost desperate intensity. He tries to say all the things he couldn’t last night with all the commotion and movement. He’s glad she’s safe, glad she’s alive, and he loves her so, so much. All his emotions and memories are catching up with him, crashing into his memory with a harsh sudden clarity. Worry, anger, guilt, dread, and relief all cascade into a twisted knot in his gut that eases just a little bit more the more he holds on.

“I- sorr--, - jus’,” he stops to smile at her. It’s something she’s achingly familiar with. He’s tired, he’s anxious, he’s dreading what will come when they head back to campus, but here? Here he’s just glad to have her safe and with him. “Lon- -ay. Week, re----.”

“Yo- --- coffee?” he asks to the kid behind them, voice still low and rough from sleep.

There’s only one important word in that sentence, and he’s glad it was the one that made it out whole. He’s grateful for Jake too, for inviting them on this trip. ‘Would’ve gone nuts, tryin’ t’stay on tha’ campus,’ he thinks to himself. This was a whole lot better for probably all of them, he'd have to thank the kid proper when he got his voice back. 'If', he thinks. 'Don' e'en know if this is permanent for not.' It better not be, there's only about two people in this world who understand his mother's strange speech

. 'Well,' he amends himself, remembering that night. 'Three.' Not much better.
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Re: Roadtrip: Dining Hall Aftermath

on Fri Oct 12, 2018 1:28 pm
Jake watches the happy reunion, his chest warming up. It was nice to see these long-suffering weirdos actually smile at each other, actually enjoy each other's company. Yes, they had cuddled into the other's space last night, but Jake had a feeling that was just instinctive. 

When Tobi asks him his question, Jake actually understood it. Coffee. He could go for a cup too. "Actually, gonna take you both out to breakfast. My treat. You know, since both of you thought that I kidnapped you in the middle of the night. There's a place a couple miles away. Looked alright."

Now, Jake climbs into the back of the car and grabs his duffle bag "I gotta go take a leak. Don' miss me too much."

He directs the last comment to Noelle, and she rolls her eyes, smiling a little in Tobi's arms. Jake raised a hand up in a quick wave and made his way through the ring of trees surrounding the clearing. These kids deserved some privacy, a moment alone.

__________________

Noelle clings onto Tobi, squeezing him tightly to herself. She hadn't been held like this in a while and she missed it so dearly. She felt Tobi's voice rumble interspersed with the strange language, his warmth enclosing around her. She sighed into him, staying there for a moment.

She had missed this, missed him, missed them being together. Noelle had been afraid that, after yesterday, that there would be a shift in their relationship. She always feared that it would change, that he would wake and realize that she wasn't meant to be with him. Well, she thought that until talking to Jake last night. As insufferable as that boy was, his insight on how he saw Tobi and Noelle made her heart feel warm and the tension in her shoulders relaxed.

Right here and now, she could only focus on Tobi. On her happiness and peace at this moment, both that she only found when he was near. Noelle leans back, smiling a little at him and speaks, her voice still croaky "I'm so happy you're okay... I've been so worried-"

Her voice breaks, and she looks away. Seeing him like this, rested, holding her, made all the difference. So, she decided to rest her voice, thank God for Jake's tiny bladder, and lean in for a kiss. It was deep and loving and oh, so tender. Noelle tips her head ever so slightly, closing her eyes, and her hands slowly begin to tangle through his hair. She sighs into the kiss, her heart blooming and beating out her chest. Would that ever change? She really hoped not. The only thing that was a painful reminder of the night before is the cotton pad on Noelle's cheek that gently rubbed against Tobi's face. She chose to ignore it- they would tend to it later
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Re: Roadtrip: Dining Hall Aftermath

on Sat Oct 13, 2018 12:42 am
Worri—‘bout --?” he looks at her, expression soft and playful. He huffs out a small puff of air. “I’m always f---, ----- got--- ---ry.” Most of that sentence is lost to the language, but he figures it wasn’t that important as her body surges forward to catch his own lips in a kiss.

Any sort of witty reply is swallowed as her lips cover his, as her hands catch and tangle in his dark curls. He’s kissed her before, of course, but never when he’s still coming down from a hyper sensitive high. He can feel every motion she makes, experience every sensation in a vivid high resolution. Every move she makes is amplified fifty times over in his still sensitive mind and against his still burring nerves. It aches, but in an oh so wonderful way.

They break and he’s radiant. The glow that still pulsed slow under the hoodie was burning bright even in the warm daylight sun. Vivid luminescent branches trace through his face, down his neck and spine, through his entire body. He’s looking a little dazed and his dopey smile hangs lopsided on his face. He looks as if he’s had his mind blown ten times over. God, that kiss is burned hard into his memory, into his skin, into his very bones. It's etched there with every detail of this day, every detail of her and her face, her wide eyes full of relief and love for him.

“Darlin,” He’s breathless, flushed, overwhelmed.
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Re: Roadtrip: Dining Hall Aftermath

on Sat Oct 13, 2018 2:26 am
As they break, Noelle grins. It rivals her eyes and Tobi's nerves, the tension she had been holding release in the most wonderful way. She bubbles out a laugh her throat catching it and turning into a patterned breath. One hand gently strokes the back of his neck, while the other stays tangled in his hair, catching n the curls, but working its way through each time. She meets his eyes and damn, he is looking overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by the kiss. Dazed and confused. God, his smile was so cute. He spoke and her cheeks bloom with blush.

"Don't, 'Darlin' me, mister." It's completely playful and daring him to do exactly that, mimicking his accent with her own breathy voice. Noelle leans in close, murmuring into his ear "I'm allowed to worry... God, I love you, Tobi."

I love you. It's a funny thing. Most people took it for granted or used it for gain. But the way that she said it, her hands and body flushed to in, it was an irrevocable truth. Each shred of worry and fear of losing him left her shoulder, her chest. The word brings that newfound confidence and invulnerability, the kind he helped develop and cherished. She bites her lip, but not in a moment of tension as it was usually accompanied with. No, this was biting back her grin, her happiness, and the fact that she wanted to tell him how much she loved him and how she had missed him and how his arms made her feel so incredibly safe and warm and GOD I love you. I love you, I love you, I love you.

Noelle is about to kiss him again but takes a moment to just stare, memorizing the face in front of her, letting her head hang to the side, lips parted subtly. She had done it before, but she needed to savor this moment. Away from the chaos and school, in a clearing. The world was just theirs for a moment. And she wanted it to last forever. Noelle almost chuckled when she had a sudden realization:

This was their first trip away together.

Well, they are never going to be the most orthodox. But that was okay. Ordinary was completely overrated.
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Re: Roadtrip: Dining Hall Aftermath

on Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:54 pm
Tobi laughs at her imitation of his drawl. “Darlin,” he draws out the word, surprised at how easily it comes out. There’s no hint of the strange language, no fluttering of leaves except those surrounding them. He wants to try again. “Darlin,” he says once more without a hint of the language again. A laugh bubbles up and out of his chest, infectious in his joy. Calloused hands settle at her waist as he leans in to kiss her lips, her cheeks, her neck, anything he can reach. HE's generous in his affections and still riding a joyful, overwhelmed high. His smile brushes her skin with each peck, and whispered ‘darlins,’ are lost to the breeze.

He pauses when she tells him she loves him. His dark eyes blink as his head tilts to the side, oddly bird like and just like his mother. The lopsided grin still covers his face but as she watches, it settles into something more serious, warmer, fonder. His mouth opens. Around those sharper than average teeth, those same words that he had spoken to her a day ago in the cafeteria well up. They fill the air with starlight and the soft glow of fireflies, of cicadas chirping and fires crackling. There’s the sounds of ancient trees creaking around them and the wind trembling soft through the leaves. It’s so foreign yet so familiar, she understands it and yet not.

It’s ‘I love you’ in a thousand different ways. It’s in the ways that he loves, in the things that he loves. He cups her face in his hands, whispers it softer this time: the forest, the earth, the sky. These things he loves, and he’s wrapped them up nice and neat and gifted them to her.

They stand, in this clearing, in front of this minivan, alone save for the world around them and Jake farther off. For just a moment, Tobi’s life makes perfect sense.
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Re: Roadtrip: Dining Hall Aftermath

on Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:56 pm
At the first 'Darlin', Noelle's lip quivered. The second, when his hands settled and his kisses met her cheeks, jaw, neck she nearly melted. She gasped, her words getting caught in her tender throat, leaning her head back, giving him more access. As much access as he needs. Sher body is flushed, both to him and with heat. Noelle decides to hold onto for the ride, to live completely in the moment.

Noelle watches as his lopsided smile change into something much more raw and sincere. She matches that look with her eyes, which now glitter with complete and total admiration and adoration. When the sounds escape his lips, she listens. She understands even if the language is completely foreign to her. When he cups her face, she stares intently back at him, filled with the strangest flutter of emotion: hope.

The warmth grows from her chest to her cheeks to her stomach. While she wasn't glowing like the man holding her, she is bright with love. And her mind settles on what Jake had told them the night before. And, as Noelle knew, she hadn't been following the rules very well lately. Red begins to bloom on her cheeks as she looks at Tobi, biting her lip shyly. "Tobi, I-"

Her eyes meet something in the distance and she turns even more red, stepping away ever so slightly. Her cheeks felt hot and she became acutely aware of her sweaty palms and armpits. 

______________________________________________

Jake didn't mean to intrude.

In all honesty, he had changed and went to the bathroom rather quickly. He stayed out in the woods because, if he didn't break something, he was going to scream. The night before, after Noelle fell asleep, he stayed up. With nothing or no one to distract him, he thought about Trevor. Did he get arrested? Has he woken up? Does he blame Jake? Memories began to fizzle in his mind of Trevor helping him with homework, when they would have movie nights at his apartment, when they got drunk and played board games. When Trevor would go on little impromptu trips. He sat in the passenger seat, staying up the entire drive, talking and joking and laughing.

So Jake did what every self-oppressed, Catholic-raised kid did. Instead of dealing with his feelings, he broke things. He picked up the nearest fallen tree branch and smacked it against a trunk with all of his strength. He picked up rocks, chucking them down the hill. He smacked his feet on twigs underfoot, listening to the snap. Healthy? Nope. He knew that. He knew that he should just talk about what was going on. But he sure as hell wasn't going to talk to Tobi and Noelle any more than he had about what he was feeling. Those two didn't need to worry about the kid that attacked them.

After five extra minutes, he made his way back to the other two. And, as soon as he made the clearing, he saw how close they were, their kiss. He was just about to turn back, to give them more privacy when Noelle locked eyes with him. Well, now he couldn't do that. It would just make things more awkward. So, he made his way over to the van, no longer making eye contact with either of them
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Re: Roadtrip: Dining Hall Aftermath

Yesterday at 2:13 am
Tobi’s eyes furrow in confusion as she back away, but when he hears footsteps behind the two of them, he understands. Jake must be coming back. He was grateful to the kid for this trip, he really was. It was what all of them needed: a chance to just get away. In that moment with Noelle in front of him looking flushed and sincere though, well. He’s a little less than grateful.

He gives her a look, promising to continue the conversation at another time and in another place. Her look in those precious previous moments were enough to occupy his mind for days, and the possibilities of what she was going to say is going to drive him nuts, he just knows it. He can take a couple of educated guesses though. All of them feel a little like wishful thinking and end in a dark red blush.

One hand comes out to brush lightly underneath her chin and draw her effortlessly back into him. The kiss that follows is soft, sultry, with a bit of a bite and heady with promise. He breaks it with an affectionate smile and a small fluttering word.

With that he turns towards Jake and immediately feels bad for his previous bad feelings. The dude looks absolutely beat, and a little beat up to be honest. There are new scratches and cuts and the man’s hands almost like he had gotten into a fight with someone or something. Probably just taking out aggression. Tobi would want to too, if he were in Jake's position. Not knowing what's happening to your friend, not being able to be there. The situation's shit, he thinks as Jake walks past them and into the van.
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Re: Roadtrip: Dining Hall Aftermath

Yesterday at 8:11 am
Noelle is frozen when Tobi kisses her again. It was different from the ones previous, the gentleness replaced with something lush and deep, which made her turn even redder. She looked absoultely flustered when they break, nearly fanning herself to get rid of the color. The cool autumnal morning suddenly felt humid and hot. Tobi obviously wanted to have this conversation later, and the promise of that later made her heart skip a beat.

"Hey! You ready to go back to civilization?" 

He was smiling, but it was a mask that was hiding something else. Noelle was unsure, but she knew that Jake had taken a beating emotionally the other day. And, unlike her moment last night or when Tobi clung to her tightly, she hadn't seen Jake really process it. The cuts on his hands made Noelle feel very guilty all of the sudden. While she and Tobi were fooling around, had Jake been doing something destructive? Her thoughts wandered back to the conversation the night before. He had been such a help the night before, Did Noelle fail to be that person back. 

Quickly, she answered him "I just have to change."

Jake nodded, and shrugged "Well, you can in the car if that'll make you more comfortable. You know, instead of out in the woods."

Noelle looked at him and considered this. While she knew they were alone, she was feeling particularly vulnerable right now and changing out in the open just wasn't in the cards for her. So, slowly, she climbed into the back of the trunk and closed it, grabbing her duffle bag.

___________________________

Jake instinctively leaned back against the trunk, his back facing the car. He had four sisters, so he was comfortable with giving Noelle a little bit of privacy. Also, it was the decent thing to do, regardless. So he stood there, drumming his fingers on his pantleg. He doesn't really look at Tobi, opting instead to look out the clearing at the sky, deciding whether or not they were actually going to leave tonight. Jake wanted to stay another night, wanted to sit away and wait for everything to blow over. It wasn't going to.

After a couple moments of silence, Jake breaks it, still not meeting Tobi's eyes "You feeling better? You look better."
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Re: Roadtrip: Dining Hall Aftermath

Yesterday at 11:01 am
Tobi watches Noelle climb back into the van before looking down at himself. He hadn’t had the forethought to pack anything besides what he was wearing, the jar of moonshine, and that quilt. It’s a little telling that that’s where his priorities had been, that grabbing alcohol and a blanket was his way to cope. It wasn’t the worst, he supposed. Could be better.

When Jake speaks, Tobi turns to look over at him. The taller boy stood next to him against the back of the car, looking worn out and asking if he feels better. ‘Looks better?’, Tobi thinks as he takes the material of his worn-out hoodie and pulls it out to look at it. It’s a strong breeze away from just falling apart; there's holes in seams that he just hasn't repaired yet, old stains and shreds through the fabric. There's an old, faded bloodstain from either him or hunting on here somewhere, he's pretty sure. He’s wearing the clothes he had on the day before, and he probably still smells like sweat and earth from the fight. What had he looked like before if this was better?

“Ye—.” He nods instead of voicing any of this. The second half of the word is lost to letters that follow the breeze that blows by. Well. There’s still that. He looks at Jake, tries to catch his eye.

“—u?” he says, pointing towards the other student. He can see the roughness of his hands, the tired look in the kid’s eyes. That night was awful for everyone, but Jake had been the one losing a friend. He seemed to be ignoring what he was going through in favor of making sure everyone around him was fine, but ignoring the problem never makes it better. Tobi should know.

His dark eyes flick to the kid’s hands, then back to his face, trying to communicate in the same way he does Noelle. He knows something’s up, wants Jake to know he knows. The area around them is quiet. Sky and whistling grass stretch on for a distance while old growth trees bracket them in from the sides. The sky is clear, the air is warm, the breeze carries just a hint of a soft chill with it. Tobi leans back against the truck and lets his body just relax for the first time in weeks. 'Really wouldn't mind staying another day,' he thinks. 'Wouldn't mind stayin' fore'er.'
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Re: Roadtrip: Dining Hall Aftermath

Yesterday at 12:11 pm
"Yeah. I'm feeling better than yesterday, that's for sure."

It wasn't a lie. His jaw and shoulder were pretty much better and he felt much clearer with them physically removing themselves from the situation. He wasn't great, he knew that. But he didn't really care to talk about it. He wasn't one to talk about his problems and the two people with him didn't need to hear him grumble and whine about the situation. But he catches the look Tobi threw him. The guy knew that Jake wasn't feeling like his old self, and Tobi didn't even know Jake. And if Tobi wanted him to open up, they needed to get food first. Jake wasn't going to open up on an empty stomach.

So, without skipping a beat, he opened the conversation about something else. His smile never falters as he comments "Talked to Noelle last night. Man, you lucked out with her. She's the total package."
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Re: Roadtrip: Dining Hall Aftermath

Today at 12:31 am

Tobi had been about to dig his heels in a little deeper, ask him a little bit more, when Jake brings up Noelle. Jake doesn’t even know the two of them that well and yet, he’s already found the easiest way to derail any sort of conversation with Tobi. Especially now with his brain fried and nerves burned, the only sensation running through his body being the aftermath of that kiss.

Tobi’s cheeks and ears burn as he turns and ducks his head. “She’s somethin’ esl-.” He smiles soft at the mention of her. “I jus’,” a pause. He can’t quite put what he feels into words. There’s a lot to unpack there, a lot that he could say. He’s tried twice today but the words have always come out perfect for him, a mess to others.

“--- jus’,” he pauses again, huffs out a small laugh. The words just aren’t coming, but that’s fine.

“Yeah.” He finally settles on.
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Re: Roadtrip: Dining Hall Aftermath

Today at 12:45 am
"Something else? Your girl is smart, funny, kind, and also kicks major ass." Jake shakes his head, chuckling "And to top it all off? She's head over heels man. For you."

Jake kicks some dirt, smiling to himself, remembering the bookworm the night before that had pointed out constellations and tolerated his lame jokes. How she had listened to him, but also opened up and talked about some of her own issues. She was just awesome. Yeah, a little judgemental and awkward, but awesome all the same. Tobi too. They were perfect for one another, completing each other.

"We talked last night. She's crazy for you- wouldn't stop worrying about you and saying all of the amazing things that you've done. It was just on the verge of overkill, but she balanced on that line quite well." Jake grins at him "I don't mean it as a slight on her. She's just very... passionate about somethings in her life, I guess."

He's silent for a moment, then looks back at him, his eyes sparkling with mischief "She also thought I kidnapped her in the middle of the night and drove her to the middle of nowhere."

He chuckles as Noelle knocks on the window. Jake steps back and opens the trunk, and Noelle is sitting, in a pair of fresh jeans and an oversized college sweatshirt. Her hair is down and brushed as well. She looks refreshed from the sleep and the small amount of self-care.

Jake shrugs "Alright! Ready to go? That breakfast place is only a couple away."

Noelle shrugs, moving over so Tobi can join her in the back. Jake begins to make his way to the front seat. Truth be told, Noelle was starving. She hadn't finished her soup the day before and hadn't ate since besides half a handful of tortilla chips when she stargazed with Jake the night before. Her stomach grumbles.
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Re: Roadtrip: Dining Hall Aftermath

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