Share
Go down
avatar
Posts : 460
Join date : 2013-09-24
Age : 23
Location : United States
View user profile

Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Thu Dec 20, 2018 2:58 pm
Tobi sits for a long time.


A long time with his hands pressing hard into his forehead, as if the pressure would be enough to force back the tightness behind his eyes and the stars that dot his vision. There’s little else to do in that space, little incentive to move. Bright strings float across his vision, but none of them the gold he wants to see. None of them lead to Noelle.

His breath stutters as his heart skips again. God, that was getting old. He’s so tired, he realizes. So tired, he thinks as his head sinks deeper into his hands both whole and broken. Light blooms across dark skin in a sudden burst as his eyes wince with sudden pain. It traces spiderwebs up the side of his face towards his eyes, down and across his torso, down his arms and legs. Bright white lines the edges of his torn skin; the red that bleeds from it and down his hand takes on a silvery luster, dripping pearls onto the carpet below. He’s tired and frustrated and at the absolute end of his rope, can feel the desperation tightening around his throat like a noose.

It’s too much, too much, he thinks. From the darkness beyond his closed eyes, something answers that plea. Fingers claw soft at the vice tightening around his skull and his heart stops for one long moment as two large hands pull themselves up from the world behind his eyes. They slam into the earth below with a titanic, thundering thump. The figure pulls its titanic bulk from the earth and void, its shadow blocking out some of the bright strings. One massive hand reaches towards him as bright eyes twin to his own stare back, the grey iris pale against bright, burning white instead of the dark of his own. The din of a thousand different voices fades until it becomes a near silent hum and he revels in it, breathes for what feels like the first time.


‘Then let me.’


The hand is beckoning, inviting, swirling with the patterns of the night sky. He knows that he could, he could reach out and together they would find Noelle and bring her back whole from god knows where she had gone. He wants to, lawd, he wants to; one hand reaches out and he can feel the edges of his thoughts blur, feel the beginning of the fall, the gut wrenching weightlessness that will soon follow.

He can barely feel the small cat climbing up his frame and the little vibrations as Glenn purrs into his neck. He doesn’t hear Jake beginning to wake, nor does he hear the boy’s quiet cursing. He can’t feel how his heart has completely stopped, how his breathing has slowed, how the dripping light from the broken skin of his knuckles has slowed to a molasses crawl without the steady thump behind his ribs.


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


Jake's hand touches his.


He’s yanked from the dark figure’s grasp with a gut churning wrench. The distressed yell of the voice behind him is deafening, but Tobi can feel it fading like a noise fast in the distance. His heart starts again with a painful thud and the large man hacks out a choking breath, everything catching up too fast, too hard. Blood rushes his ears, feeling bleeds back into his fingers, and even his voice catches for just a moment. Very vaguely, he can feel the soft vibrations of something against his shoulder; his hand reaches up and he’s met with a soft headbutt from the little black cat. Rough fingers bury themselves in the soft fur there.

“Jake,” a hacking cough, “The hell y–“ He coughs again into his now stitched together hand, his voice blending English and the strange sounds. Jake’s words are fuzzy, like he’s hearing them from underwater, but they’re there if he listens hard enough.


The kid wants to try again.


Tobi looks Jake up and down. He had briefly seen the singed skin, but he had definitely smelled the scent of something human burning. The kid had knocked himself out with whatever he had tried last time, knocked himself out hard. The sizzling smell of flesh still lingered in the air, making Tobi’s nose wrinkle uncomfortably. He slumps deeper in the chair, still trying to catch his breath.

He wants to. Lawd, he wants to.

They had been so close the last time, the light would have led them straight to where Noelle would be and everything would have been okay. He would have held her in his arms, been able to tell her everything would be alright. They would figure it out and everything would be alright. All it would take would be another word from Jake or him falling further into the dark.

Jake who was laying on the couch and wincing every time he took a breath. Him, watched from his own mind by a new pair of eyes. It'd be stupid for either of them to do anything more the way they are now. But. He's worried about her, knows Jake is worried about her too.


Tobi sighs and sinks deeper into the armchair. Glenn moves to sit on his chest, still quietly purring. Newly healed fingers come up to tangle in the cat's fur again, running through the strands slowly.


He doesn’t know what to do.[/i]
avatar
Admin
Posts : 10094
Join date : 2013-03-05
Age : 22
Location : United States
View user profilehttp://xmen-renewed.forumotion.com

Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Fri Dec 21, 2018 1:44 am
Despite the burning, searing pain in his side and the aching throbbing of his abdomen, Jake’s face lit up when he heard Tobi speak. He knew it was a combination of that strange, earthen language that Jake had heard from him more than his low, rumbling timbre. But it was still a relief to hear something, anything to show his consciousness.

The wet, hacking cough was less of a relief. Jake could feel his own head cold making his noggin feel like it was a bowling ball teetering on a toothpick. He was feeling rough, worn down. And, from the looks of Tobi’s coughs and gasping breaths, he wasn’t doing much better. They couldn’t continue forever like this, couldn’t keep pushing. Tobi looked like someone had plugged him into a high voltage outlet and left him, his nerves were almost painful to look at and Jake didn’t like the stillness in the moments before he was healed. And while Jake couldn’t be 100% sure about Tobi, but the pain would literally sear him like a salmon.

But he had to try again. He had to. For Noelle. For Tobi.

Jake turned his focus back on Tobi’s eyes. Dark as coal with those spooky silver rings, he tilted his head. After a couple of pained, shallow breaths, he finally had the strength to use his voice again. He was careful to say his words very slowly, hoping it would help Tobi understand, while also pacing himself “I am going to go again. Okay? But we need a plan this time. A small one… Something…”

With great effort, he pulls himself to sit upright. His right arm is still gripping his side, and it takes him a half a minute to speak again, catching his breath. He can feel beads of sweat forming and falling on his forehead, either from the pain or the fever. It was anyone’s guess at this point. But he kept moving and, eventually, forces himself to a slouched but standing stance. Jake sniffles as he moves around the couch, slowly, and to the table that he had thrown his junk on. He grabs his keys, jingling them so that Tobi can see them “If we want this to work… We have to move fast. And together. And I can’t… I won’t be able to keep up with you.”

That was harder to say than he thought. His voice breaks at the end, which he plays off with a wince and gasp of breath. Truth was, Jake's voice broke with emotion and fear. He was face to face with the one thing he always tried to brush away; his own inadequacy. Jake refused to meet the other man’s eyes. He wanted to do whatever he could to help Noelle. But Tobi could move mountains. He could close his eyes and search the world in a blink and he couldn’t find her. He moved dirt and earth and grass and snow. And besides that, Jake had heard what Tobi could do without his powers; knock teeth out, run for miles, bench press more than anyone on campus. He could fix this. And if he couldn't fix it now, he could figure it out. The guy was a med student, dating one of the smartest people on campus. He had to have known things

All Jake could do was knock himself out. Say a stupid word and BAM! He was down for the count. As much as he liked to tote that he knew everything about his powers, every time that white-hot pain and sizzle of skin hits his senses, he’s back to middle school, wondering what the heck was happening to him. When the focus in his body aligned and he spoke that simple word, something he had learned in history class. Instinctively, his hand reached for that same symbol on his left bicep, a cross with a loop at the top. A symbol of life. The first one that branded him as a freak. And a useless one at that.

Jake looked at his backpack. He had filled it with food and water and a first aid kit and some emergency cash. All packed swiftly and with care, in hopes that as soon as he spoke those words, he and Tobi would go together to find Noelle. And help her, however, that would be. Instead, Jake took himself out of the equation and watched as the man that was on fire run like a hound on the trail. Leaving him behind to twitch and writhe.

It was stupid to think he would wait.

Stupid to think anyone would wait really.

But still, he couldn’t focus on that anymore. What he needed to do was be an equal partner in this. And to do that, he needed to stay upright for the next bit. He holds himself to the table, forcing himself to breathe slowly. Forcing himself to focus and gather whatever strength he had left. His jaw sets and his eyes screwed shut, concentrating on aligning the pain into something positive. Something constructive. He breathes in and out, in a single stream without pause. Finally, he meets Tobi’s gaze. “You need to take that whiteboard too. Okay?”

He didn’t wait for an answer, for Tobi to defy and tell Jake to sit his ass down, he grips the table harder and opens his mouth, letting the word pour. An ancient Nordic symbol that was found in some old book with one sentence “If this sign is carried, one will never lose one’s way in storms or bad weather, even when the way is not known.” He had to carry these two now, even if Tobi had to carry him.

VEGVISIR.”

Maybe it was the pain, maybe it was the intensity of which he had said the word. Maybe it was just pure gumption. But Jake did not fall. He faltered, he winced, he writhed, but he held himself up. It wasn’t easy: his face was bright red, veins poking out of his skin and tracing the patterns that dot his complection. His jaw is set and his arms are rigid, finger nails scraping on the wooden table. And of course, the scent of flesh flambe and the sound of a sickly sizzle filled the air. But Jake stayed standing.

That golden thread appears once again, even stronger than before. It circles itself around Jake for a moment before darting out the door. It stays strong and unfading, leading right out of town, westward. From the balcony, it can be seen against the thin layer of snow that covers the ground. It sparkles against the falling snow, shimmering and shining. It weaves between the sunken earth of the park, past the trees, and onto the road in a straight line.

Jake groans and turns his head back at Tobi, giving a pained smile. He feels the skin starting to pucker, sees the stars dancing in his vision. Feels the sweat pouring from each pore. But still, he smiles. He always smiles. And after a long, shaky breath full of tense pain, he offers a word in a broken voice that is barely hiding it’s agony.

“Ready?”
avatar
Posts : 460
Join date : 2013-09-24
Age : 23
Location : United States
View user profile

Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Thu Jan 03, 2019 12:02 pm
Tobi coughs into his hand, jostling the small cat on his shoulder with the sudden movements. It hurts, the wet, hacking coughs, but slowly they subside. Glenn settles fully on his shoulder and against his neck with the new stillness, his paws kneading softly against the junction between his neck and shoulder. The feeling is soft, but it’s there; the feeling is unfamiliar enough to remind him that yes, he had lost feeling in his… well. Everywhere. Everything hurts, he thinks as his head ducks low and eyes close to the room around him.

Everything hurts and nothing came of it. He can’t remember the last time he felt quite this useless. He was supposed to be the rock, supposed to be the mountain that people could lean against. He wasn’t supposed to be lost for something to do, some way of fixing what was wrong. Hell, he was wanting to become a EMS, someone who was calm under pressure and rational in high stress environments. And yet, his first instinct the moment Jake had said those words was to bolt out the door like fire was licking at his heels.


Not calm. Hardly rational.


A small noise escapes him, something soft, tired, and fleeting like a long peal of heavy rain. Eyes flutter closed past pitch dark eyes and once more, the strings dance against his vision. They open again, and there’s Jake, looking at him like he was death warmed over. Tobi can’t hear the shuddering breaths or the struggle it is to get words out, but he can see a shine of sweat on the man’s skin, can smell the crisp, putrid scent of something burnt hanging in the air, can see the ways Jake’s movements are stiff and halted. Jake’s mouth is moving slow, his words loud, loud enough that if Tobi concentrates hard enough, he can hear them through the heavy viscous wall blocking his hearing from the rest of the world.


“…again. Okay?...”


‘Wait,’ he thinks. The thought’s a little fuzzy, a little slow. Dark eyes track Jake’s struggling movements around the apartment, finally settling on the bright metal of the keys Jake’s dangling in front of him. Lights around the apartment reflect off of them, sending little spots of light off to dance on the wall and ceiling. Tobi stares for just moment before reaching up with one heavy, light scarred arm. Fingers just recently broken and healed wrap stiffly around the keys, the pointed edges of them digging just a touch too hard into Tobi’s calloused skin. He doesn’t notice.


“… keep up with …”

Jake’s voice breaks on the last word. Tobi can’t quite catch it.


He follows Jake’s eyes to a backpack on the floor and his hand to the whiteboard he had given him earlier. All of these things Jake had prepared, all of these things he had thought of. Jake had had a plan, and what had Tobi done? He’d ignored all of it. He’d been so wrapped up in his own head that he hadn’t seen what Jake had been trying to do and he had run out the door, leaving Jake behind to pass out on the floor in a mess of pain and searing flesh. His gaze tracks to Jake, now gripping a table with white knuckles, breathing hard and looking like he was trying to prepare himself for…

“Jake, wai-“ he manages before he sees Jake’s mouth open and the word supposedly pouring out. He watches with wide eyes as Jake stumbles, gasps, and scrapes his nails against the hard wood of the table, but the kid doesn’t fall. Tobi rises from the chair with a rush of vertigo, swaying on his feet but still standing. Dark eyes close to ward off the nausea. When he opens them again, that same gold thread is weaving its way around Jake and through the room. There’s a long movement where that same sort of instinct from before wraps around Tobi’s mind like a constricting vice. It pulls him out that door and after that string, down those same steps in the same panic and violent hope as before. His foot raises and his body tenses, ready to run.

But he doesn’t. His eyes turn towards Jake, looking at him with the most pained smile Tobi’s ever seen. The keys in his grip are cold as he turns them over in his hand with the same nervous energy he uses to pick at his fingernails.

‘Aw hell.’ He thinks. His nerves flare bright as he starts to move, their help pushing him forward and keeping him on his feet. He grabs the whiteboard and the backpack on the floor before stopping at Jake and looking the other man up and down. Jake’s not going to move. Well.

‘Sorry,” he mutters, the noise soft like the creaking of some ancient tree or the quiet movement of a small mass of earth. There’s a scraping creak, and Jake’s hands come away from the table with broken and chipped nails as Tobi pulls the boy from the waist. One more heft, and all six feet and some change of Jake are thrown over one of Tobi’s shoulders.  One hand comes up to rest on Jake’s back and steady the thin twig on a man, effectively trapping him there. With Jake settled, he bolts. Tobi tears through the room and out the open door, kicking the poor thing nearly off its hinges to open it no-handed. His feet pound down stairs before he gets to the soft white powder of the world below. His tracks from earlier are almost erased what with the snow falling in thick flakes. One quick glace towards the parking lot and he can see Jake’s van blanketed in the same stuff.


He doesn’t have time for this.


The brightness of the fractal patterns on his skin amplifies as the wind picks up around them. Twin eyes watch him from inside his own mind as the sudden gale force wind tears through the parking lot, cutting a wide path through the snow and wiping the van clean. Stillness hangs in the air for a soft minute, the only sound being Tobi’s feet hitting the pavement in a quick rhythm. The snow starts again just as he opens the passenger side door of Jake’s van and shoves the boy inside, settling him as best he can before snapping the seatbelt shut. Before he shuts the door, he tosses the whiteboard into the back where it lands on top of the mattress with a soft ‘fwump’.

A moment later the door on the other side of the car opens and Tobi slides into the driver’s side of the car. ‘Jake’s too fuckin’ tall,’ he thinks with a grimace as he adjusts the seat below him with a heavy clack. ‘This van’s too fuckin’ old,’ he thinks again with the noise. His eyes flick briefly to the boy beside him; his head is lolling against the seat, eyes just starting to flutter closed.


Can’t have that.


His arms comes out to smack against Jake’s chest hard enough to hopefully knock him back awake. He doesn’t want to break anything, but Jake needs to stay awake. Told him to keep him awake and by god, Tobi’s gonna make it happen. Deaf to Jake’s wheezing, he shoves the key into the ignition and twists, feeling more than hearing the moment it catches and the van lurches awake. One heavy foot hits the gas, and the van peels forward to follow that gold string with the same fierce intensity as the man behind the wheel.
avatar
Admin
Posts : 10094
Join date : 2013-03-05
Age : 22
Location : United States
View user profilehttp://xmen-renewed.forumotion.com

Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:39 pm
If you were to ask Jake what had happened between the time he said that stupid Norse word and when Tobi hit him (for the first time) in the van, he had no way to tell the truth. He honestly could not remember anything, the searing pain washing away all memory. Sometimes, when asked, he would give a little smile and say that he trudged down the stairs, his arm around Tobi. Sporting a soft, brave smile.

The reality was much louder.

He watched as Tobi made his way over, but it didn’t click until it was too late. The sturdy man lifted Jake up, jostling the sensitive skin on his stomach on his shoulder. And Jake wished that he was silent or gave out a manly grunt. That he could handle. But instead, Jake let a sound escape his lips that was between a hound dog how and a high pitched whimper. His eyes screwed shut, his face bright red, the symbols on his face nearly popping off with the constriction. There is a sickening sizzle of breath and skin as Tobi adjusts his arm. He thrashed at the contact- one who was so found of hugs and pats on the back, giving and receiving physical contact, felt white hot pain starting from his navel, expanding outward to his ribs, his chest, his thighs, his sides.

He was on fire.

And the scent of burning flesh did not help his thoughts center.

And as Tobi ran down the stairs, each jostle, each step gave way to a new starburst of stimulation, causing him to twitch and flail ever so slightly. His heart was pounding in his ears, his hands clutching and grasping at his carrier’s skin, clothes, hair, whatever he could. And he would feel bad later when Tobi reminded him about this embarrassing moment of weakness, but he couldn’t help himself. It was all instinctive reflex of overshooting his powers and then using them in quick succession He had no clue agony like this existed, that pain could be this branding. He felt it into his very essence.

He didn’t notice the sudden pick up in wind, the flurry of snow that brushes off his fan, the rough shove into the passenger seat, the sliding of his seat belt. All he felt was the flames licking his body from the inside out, burning him, almost purifying him. Baptism by fire, his fevered thoughts reminded him. If he got through this, he would be invincible. So invincible, so fucking strong, so…

Something.

His head felt fuzzy, his eyelids heavy. He couldn’t connect with everything that was going on. Tobi was next to him, yes, but why were they in the van? It was starting to blur together, the cold, the texts, the glowing nerves illuminating the night. And the pain was so far away, just a slight buzz, the smallest of bee stings. And if he just let go, maybe he would just drift away. Into nothingness. Into a void. Jake felt his eyelids begin to close, his head hanging loosely on off the car seat. Just a couple minutes, a couple seconds. God, just a moment to relax. And then he could focus.

THWAP

Jake jerks awake, a thick, scarred hand smacking him in the chest. It makes a hollow, tinny sound that reverberates through the van. With a shuddering breath, he focuses on sitting up, thoughts swirling in his head.

Noelle. Gone. Tobi. Find.

“Jesus!” Jake coughs, the pain coming back into his stomach, intense but much more isolated. It pulsated in his stomach, matching his quickened pulse. Sweat beads his brow, but his eyes are wide. He’s awake. And he’s going to stay awake. He adjusts himself, slowly, painstakingly, so that he sat up straight. His breath became deeper, longer, as he focused on the road, on the scenery around them.

They passed the down sign: Welcome to Jules, Conneticut! A little slice of heaven… Yeah right. The sign was wooden, pale, with little vines and petunia’s etched around the faded blue letters. Jake was familiar with this sign- he passed it with each road trip, each homecoming, each time he felt restless and like he needed to get out. The streetlight behind the sign was yellowed, casting a warm glow that should have been comforting, but it cast spooky shadows. And the light wasn’t brilliant like the one on the road.

The point of the golden thread of light had disappeared, only leaving a thin beam of a luminous glow. It was ethereal, casting fuzzy shadows on the black asphalt. Small dots edge the light, warm like fireflies on a summer night, the light hitting the accumulating snow on the road ahead gently. There weren’t many cars out, due to the snow. It was falling down now in fluffy, downy patches, littering the road and ground. Jake was sweating and had half a mind to roll down his window and stick his head out. The sheen of sweat on his face might turn into an ice facial, but at least it would cool him down.

He had to get his mind off of the pain, he had to do something. Carefully, slowly, he leaned forward and began to fiddle with the ancient radio and CD player. The car was pretty clean- it was Jake’s living space that hadn’t been used since his impromptu trip to Maryland a couple weeks ago. There was a fast food bag on the passenger side that was stuffed with wrappers of various snacks and junk food, as well as CD cases strewn all over the floor and console. The back was still set the way it was on his trip with Tobi and Noelle; the small mattress, three coolers (Empty), a portable DVD player, various blankets and pillows, and tote bags filled with non-perishable snacks. With the contents of his backpack combined with his van supplies, he and Tobi could probably keep this up for a week without worrying about food, shelter, water, everything.

Jake’s eyes flick to Tobi’s burnt nerves, his hand that had been bleeding only minutes before with that white-knuckled grip on the wheel.

That was something Jake was worried about.

He shook his head, turning on the radio, hoping that some tunes would let him focus on something. He looked at Tobi for a moment, about to ask what he wanted to listen to. Then he remembered how Tobi’s hearing probably wasn’t great at the moment and probably had other things to worry about than whatever music was playing. Jake gave a wet, hacking cough, groaning as his stomach constricted with them. He turned up the volume, hoping something would distract him. Quick guitar strums, a steady bass guitar? Ugh, Billy Joel. Just what he needed. Jake forced himself to listen to the lyrics:

Aw, but they never told you the price that you pay
For things that you might have done
Only the good die young


Jake’s eyes widen and he quickly hits the NEXT TRACK button, the pad off his thumb jamming into it as quickly and as roughly he could muster. Billy Joel had led him astray, maybe the next song would be-

Ahhhhh look at all the lonely-

Skip. Jake jams his finger on the button again, groaning as the harmonies of the lads of Liverpool turned into something much more 80s. A severe drum beat hits as a synthesizer plays the same bunch of notes again and again. Springsteen's voice started yell/singing in its raspy tone, and Jake settled back, closing his eyes, nodding his head to the beat. His fingers twitch with the synthesizer. The CD was something he mixed for himself a while ago- random road trip rock to keep him company with the empty road. If he was remembering correctly, there were forty more minutes on this disc of things that weren’t about death, being lost, and being alone.

And it was in this moment when Jake realized that he had no idea what was going on. He knew Noelle was gone, but what did that mean. Was she taken? Did she run away? And what did Tobi see? And how was he going to ask the guy about this? Jake was partial to impromptu and random adventures, but something about this felt harried. Usual he was in control of his directionless journey. And he needed to know what was going on.

Too bad there was no way for him to know until they stopped and Tobi used that whiteboard. Jake almost kicked himself for not listening to Noelle when she was teaching him sign.

Noelle.

The name hit him again. He had no idea what had happened or where she went, and while she hadn’t been gone long, panic gripped his heart. She was so integral to all their lives, she was the one thing that really connected them together. And, like Trevor before her, she was gone. And who knows for how long. He was already starting to miss the way her face got all scrunched up when she was trying to proof his papers, the way she swatted at him when he made a stupid comment about their professors. And he sat there, remembering all those little things about Noelle that he didn’t notice at the time. And while it made his heart sink into his stomach, it took the edge off the burning mess of his abdomen. So he sat, opening his eyes to follow the road, listening to song after song. When the CD runs it’s course, he pops it out and puts in another one.

And he is like this for a while, watching the string wind from backroad to highway seamlessly. He knew this route- it was westward, the direction one he was familiar with. He took it when he was heading home, heading west, heading out of state. Wherever Noelle was going, it wasn’t an unfamiliar road to him. Hell, the three of them went this way when they packed up and ran away from their troubles after the dining hall got fucked.

Speaking of which.

Without Tobi pacing or moving, Jake finally really looked at the black streaks in his hair. He remembered watching her sink into that black gunk, in that doomed cafeteria. How everything she touched was quickly consumed as well, how they talked about it for at least an hour on the top this very van. The stains. Did Tobi know? He had to now, but did he know the origin? It had been over an hour of silence between them. They had to talk about it eventually. And Jake just had to know. So, very slowly, very carefully, he pulled on Tobi’s shirt sleeve, getting his attention. And then, with shaky fingers, Jake finger spelled three letters.

I N K

He thinks for a moment, adjusting, for his hand to be more visible. Even with his cautious movements, a small whine escapes his mouth. His middle was still sensitive, and the seat belt hit right at the center of the symbol, the pang reaches the symbols tips. In a fit of annoyance, Jake flips the seatbelt behind his back, then turns back to Tobi. He pinches his index, middle finger, and thumb together, then signs the letter L. Noelle’s sign name. Then he repeats the pattern from before.

No-L. I N K.

The signage is so slow, so hesitant, but the message comes across. Or so he hopes. Was it Noelle’s ink?
avatar
Posts : 460
Join date : 2013-09-24
Age : 23
Location : United States
View user profile

Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Sat Jan 12, 2019 1:04 am
Tobi drives.


Hands folded white knuckle tight around the wheel, he drives. Foot planted heavy on the gas, he drives. Eyes piercing through the hazy falling veil of white powdery ice, he drives on and on, mile after mile down not yet paved road. Snow is falling in heavy flakes onto the windshield and around the car. The pattern looks a lot like an effect in one of those space movies that he had watched with Agnes once, late at night around Thanksgiving some years before. There’s the same dark sky, the same tunnel effect as he pushes the old van down an empty road. That same feeling of nothing surrounding them.

With his nerves this blistered, he can’t hear the radio and it’s classic but ominous tunes, but he can see the neon green lettering of the radio screen in the corner of his vision, the same sort that Agnes’s truck’s got. Been a while since he’s driven anything, but he can guess that whatever’s Jake’s got playing is one of his CDs. He almost wishes it were Agnes’s truck, the two of them driving somewhere like they used to. She’d pop in the one CD she’d stolen from some library, something stupid and loud that she still kept in her truck to this day, and Tobi would lean out his side of the window with the sun and breeze in his face. They’d drive away for a little while, her taking him far from his problems or her troubles, but never far enough to really cut any ties. They’d always come back. They had to come back.


She’d always come back, he thinks, though his thoughts shift from his sister. She’ll come back.


She left so much behind, it’s not like she wouldn’t want to come back for all that. Her cat, for one. They’d left the little black cat in the apartment, safe and warm. Glenn was her therapy cat, the little fuzzball in charge of keeping her happy and healthy. He knew how much she loved that cat, she wouldn’t just leave him behind. There were her classes, her assignments; she worked so hard on those. Always such a perfectionist, worrying about the details and nailing every sentence, every period and bit of punctuation. Hours were spent on papers, more as she poured over her own written word. She wouldn’t just leave that behind. Obligations, schoolwork, friends, family.


Him.


She wouldn’t just leave them all behind, it wasn’t like her. He didn’t want to assume, but he always thought he was important to her.


Fuzzy static fills his ears in a strange sort of auditory echo to the falling snow around them.

.
.
.


He drives.


An hour, two hours? Maybe more, he’s not sure of a whole lot right now. Time’s been all bungled since Jake’s apartment and maybe a little before. He just knows that it’s dark, that it’s been dark for a while now. Sun set when he wasn’t looking or maybe it’s just been cloudy, but either way, the sun’s gone. Could just be his eyes too? The world’s a strange sort of black and white, the same sort that bothers his vision from time to time and he can’t really be bothered to tell the difference.


The eyes though. That feels like it should bother him.


Little twin pools of white, they stick out from the strings. More and more they accumulate the farther he drives, the closer he comes to any sort of forest and tend to stick around the thick trunks of trees. Sometimes he can’t differentiate them from the snow, but then they blink, and he nods his head.

‘Yes,’ he thinks absently, as if he knew all along. ‘Of course.’

Gold paints a smooth path to follow, though. Easy enough to find, easy enough to follow past trees and eyes and emerald green road signs that light up the closer his headlights get to them. Strings a lazy golden pattern dusting across the dark road below them, works its way over the horizon and further to who knows where. Snow is dusting across his vision, strings itch and tug at him, and he can feel those strange little phantom eyes watching him from just beyond the shoulder of the road.

It’s a strange feeling that fills him then, something sweet like hope with the bitter finish of his special brand of cynical dread. He wants to find her at the end of this golden road whole and safe, sitting somewhere lovely, maybe staring up at the stars they loved. She’d be in a clearing, better to watch the stars in. Blanket in her hands; no, covering her lap. Her hands full with a mug of something warm.


Tea. Coffee. Hot apple cider. Hot chocolate.


She’d hear him coming, see him by the glow of his nerves, and she would smile just for him. Pat the spot next to her, hold up her blanket for him to settle underneath and there he would settle; sore, broken, hurting, but so, so relieved. He’d set her mug down, wrap her in his arms, and let his heart settle as they looked up at the stars together, those bright white dots set against an ink dark sky.

Course, in this fantasy, the grass was dry, the sky was warm, and the trees had all their leaves. Details. He preferred it over the other option though, the one that stole his breath from his chest as it clawed its way through flesh and bone to prod tortuously at the space inside. The one that wrapped tight hands around his throat and tightened its grip just enough to be uncomfortable. Worst case scenarios always had a way of pulling the air from him.


Dead, it reminded him in not quite words. She could be dead. You don’t know.


White knuckles creak against the steering wheel as he grips it tighter. I don’t know, he thinks, and his stomach drops.

In the rearview mirror, a massive dark figure rises in the distance. Their body is a barely-there silhouette against the dark sky, eyes luminous twins to Tobi’s own. There it stands even as the car pulls away, and there it’s eventually lost to the fading light and fuzzy curtain of snow.

.
.
.

He drives.


It’s been longer now, he’s not sure. But Jake’s switched out the cd a couple of times now, so maybe a few hours, he’s not sure how long that kid makes his CDs. Hours of songs like the ones from their trip to the park, hours of the kid singing along. It was almost enough to make him thankful he had burned through his hearing.

Speaking of the kid though…

There’s a tugging on his arm. Dark eyes glance over to see Jake sitting there and looking as uncomfortable as ever. Powers seemed to really take it right out the kid, but this seems like it’s on a whole new level. A very slight sheen of sweat is covering the kid’s brow, little drops occasionally breaking free to trace light trails down the curve of his forehead, cheek, jaw, and chin. He’s shaking just slightly; Tobi wonders if he knows he’s doing it. And if he concentrates hard enough, Tobi can still smell the slight acrid odor of burning flesh. His brow furrows; he’d been so caught up in his own thoughts and finding Noelle, he’d kind of forgotten about the man in the seat next to him.

Makes him feel a little bad. Just another unpleasant feeling to add to the pile. Maybe he should pull over, see if Jake’s okay. He’s just about to suggest it when Jake’s hands shakily raise and start to attempt the most rudimentary sign.

His foot leans a little off the gas as he glances over, wanting to catch what he’s trying to say. There’s an ‘I’, alright. ‘N’ comes next, and it’s a statement to how fuzzy his thoughts are right now that he doesn’t immediately guess ‘K’ as the last letter.


‘Ink’


Well, yes that’s what got them into this mess, he thinks before it really catches up to him. Jake signs again in his peripheral but he doesn’t pay that much attention because he never told Jake. All he had said was that she was gone, nothing more. Jake hadn’t seen her leave, hadn’t seen the mess that she was before she left, hadn’t seen her fucking evaporate into the ground so how did he know.


Did Jake know?


Did Jake know beforehand that this could happen and not tell him?

.
.
.


Tobi stops driving.


His foot slams on the breaks, jerking the van to a stop in the middle of the snow and dark before turning on Jake with dark eyes lit for the first time by something other than either pain, grief, or worry this night.


Anger.


‘You knew.’ He growls in that strange language. Words of rising winds and the low, far away rumble of thunder; not yet a storm, but soon to be. ‘You knew and you didn’t tell me. I had no idea it could get this bad and you did.’

Eyes narrow dangerously as lips curl in a snarl, the dim light of the parked car throwing his face into soft contrast. Outside, the flashing hazards lend their sporadic light to the world around them every second or two. Tobi’s nerves flash hazardously as the earth lends a slight rumble underneath the van to underscore his words.


‘You knew’ Tobi rumbles. ‘And now she’s gone.’
avatar
Admin
Posts : 10094
Join date : 2013-03-05
Age : 22
Location : United States
View user profilehttp://xmen-renewed.forumotion.com

Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Sat Jan 12, 2019 2:39 am
Jake’s focus came back real quick once the car started to shake.

The sounds coming out of Tobi’s mouth were unnatural, aggressive, and extremely terrifying. The low grumble that rattled inside the car, to the shaking of the interior of the van with the sound, to the physical rumble of the asphalt beneath them. And Jake had no clue what or why or HOW he had upset the man. He signed three letters and a shorthand name. He was trying to figure out what happened, trying to get a clue on how he could help in his own way.

Instead, he had been yelled at.

He couldn’t help it. He flinched and curled up ever so slightly as those unknowable words hit him as if he were physically punched in the gut. Tobi was damn scary. Angry. And it was pointed at him. And the thought of that was terrifying, enough to make Jake faint all on its own. It reminded him of his siblings fighting, of his father coming in and breaking it all up. Final. Decisive. Absolute. Absolutely dead serious.

Jake didn’t meet the man’s eyes, trying to gather from the sounds what hew as saying, his pulse becoming even more rapid. He held his breath, searching, scanning for something, ANYTHING to let him know why Tobi was suddenly pointed at him. Had the golden thread stopped working? Had it disappeared? One glance outside denied that thought.The ribbon of pure light still laid outstretch in front of them, waiting to be followed to who knows where.

Sweat dripped down his face, which was contorted in deep distress. He felt sick. Like his head was going to explode any minute, that his guts would spill from his lips in an act of upset defiance to this man that he had dropped everything to help. Something small in the back of his head went through the list of assistance that Jake had provided; an answer to the door, a use of a word that had rendered him unconscious, another word that had healed his busted-ass knuckles, yet another that had rendered him so weak that he could barely do anything but sit where he was, his car, his food, his blankets, his home. Ugly feelings swirled in his chest, making Jake doubt everything that he had done. He wanted to help, he wanted to be there. But everything he did? It wasn’t good enough.

It was never good enough.

It never was.

It never would be.

.

Stop.

Jake peeked out from his closed eyes, seeing Tobi as if it were for the first time. While he still had no idea what the man had said, what the man had sworn, he did know what caused it. And he saw confusion, hurt, betrayal in those eyes. How the bright white patterns had somehow, in the time between Tobi’s arrival, etched themselves from his neck to his cheeks, neck, jaw, forehead. Under his hair. How it cast a ghostly white light to the rest of the van, casting dark and deep shadows. In different circumstances, Jake would have laughed. Made a joke about how he could relate. How new symbols seem to pop up every day. How they seemed to correspond with stress and how he was scared to see himself in twenty years when his entire face would be covered. But instead…

When Jake was a young kid, his mother would be home every day after school. And many days, Jake would come home with the story of some bully that would push him to the ground. Or yell at him. Or call him names. And, one day, how Jake felt so mad. He wanted to hurt this other kid, smack some sense in him. Young Jake was so mad that tears would swim in his eyes, that his clenched fists would tremble with pent up aggression. And yet, every day his mother would make some sort of snack and sit with him, listen to his frustrations, listen to his fury. And, somehow, the load of anger would burn off. And even when this bully picked on him more, he found himself getting less vengeful. And he marched home to his mother, sitting her down and demanded in that way young children do: “Why don’t I feel like I did?”

And his mother, with her kind eyes and a soft, shy smile would hum softly and wrap him into a hug. Her long, wispy hair would sway, warm afternoon sunshine bouncing off her locks, casting a comfortable glow. And, her voice drifted to his ear with her sweet and comforting voice. “Whenever anyone is angry, Jacob, it is because of pain. Pain incites us to lash out, like a cat backed into a corner. We panic, we evolve. That feeling twists into something to deal with it. And sometimes, what we must do is listen to that pain. Try to understand. To help those in pain. Even if it’s hard. Even if It seems impossible. Otherwise, they fall into despair.”


Tobi was hurting.

Hurting something real bad.

That much was clear.

And just like that, Jake was working on instinct, his hands and body moving before he could think. It was too damn dark, so he reached up and popped the passenger seat light on, illuminating the sickly yellow tint to his skin, the glassy-quality of his eyes. Iilluminatedintated the stack of CDs at Jake’s feet. At least a half dozen that they had gone through since they started, all covered in blocky manuscript that read fun titles like SUMMER JAMS or WINNIE’S WHIMSY or SONGS THAT’LL MAKE YOUR DAD LIKE YOU. Four and a half hours of content that had been used to distract from the aching pain, from the fear and anxiety that gripped his neck so tightly. It illuminated the dashboard, covered in dust, the only spots cleared were where Jake absently drummed his fingers. It illuminated the spot on the window where Jake had rested his head, trying to cool himself from the fire that threatened to burn him inside and out. But he ignored all that, choosing to instead reach for the white board in the back, gasping as his torso twisted to accommodate his new positioning.

Tobi couldn’t understand him. Couldn’t hear.

And Tobi wasn’t going to stop until he understood.

Jake uncapped the marker with shakey hands, the cap nearly escaping his fingers a total of three times before it rests on the back of the marker. In that blocky scrawl, he writes a message. Quick, concise, his focus on the whiteboard. Later, he would point out to anyone who listened to this story that the whiteboard was for Tobi to write to him. But God had a funny way of sticking it to Jake. “Oh? You wanted your half-assed plan to work? Sorry dude. You know how this works.” Still, he wrote quick and without flourish. His face was screwed in concentration. In truth, this moment only lasted a couple seconds. But snow accumulated on the windshield, wind shook the car. Jake shuddered a couple times, the fever from his illness meeting the heat of literal burned flesh. But he kept writing until he was done. And when he was done, he thrusted the whiteboard to Tobi, tapping the marker to the words before placing it in the cup holder.

“READ” Jake’s eyes spoke as he unbuckled his seatbelt once and for all, combing through his hair once as nervous energy overtook his body. It was almost as if he were in a position of preparing for an incoming tornado, or trying to stop himself from vomiting. The message was simple. Jake didn’t have the time or patience to explain everything. There would be time for that later. Right now, he had to fix a misunderstanding. Instead, it read:

I don’t know what happened.
I saw ink in hair.
Dining Hall, Noelle sunk in ink. It got sucked back into her.
She talked to me about it. Promised me not to tell.
Said she would talk to you about it.


And. Most importantly.

I thought you knew.

While Tobi read, Jake pulled out his phone. His fingers took over, deciding that he didn’t have time for this. Tobi didn’t have time for this either. So Jake scrolled through his past text messages. A few unread, but he scrolled past the promises of video games and cartoons with an old buddy. Scrolled past his unanswered texts to Noelle. Finally, he landed on a number that he only texted once, to thank and offer promises of pie, soup, and bread. With a grimace, he pressed the little phone icon to call, raising the phone to his ears.

There was a ring, then a repeat, sounding further away. An out of state call. He waits as the phone rings a couple more times before there is an answer. And when he speaks, his voice was rough, pained, and distant. Fading in and out, like his focus and adrenaline. The tall man leans foreward, his head pretty much between his knees and his unencumbered hand wiping slimy sweat off his brow. Before the recipient of the call could say anything, Jake lets out a pained breath.

“Hey. Agnes? You told me to call if there was trouble? Well… I think you know the rest."
avatar
Posts : 460
Join date : 2013-09-24
Age : 23
Location : United States
View user profile

Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Sun Jan 27, 2019 10:53 pm
There’s a rhythm thudding irregular beats in his chest; he can feel them kick one minute at the pale bone that encases his chest, only to fall quiet the next moment. It’s alright, he supposes. Ain’t like he’s dyin’ from it, nor is it his biggest worry right now. Fact is, it don't even weigh that heavy on his mind, what with the whole ‘girlfriend bein’ gone’, ‘can’t really talk or hear and I think smell’s also gettin’ gone’, and ‘bright burning lines etching themselves across his skin’, 'best friend forgot'ta tell me girlfriend was meltin'", things he’s got going on.

Really, it’s a whole lot on his plate now, thanks. There might even be an essay for one of classes due tonight and that reminder really ain’t helping, he thinks as the lines trace just a hair closer towards his eyes. He closes them then, blocking out the soft, sickly glow of the overhead car light and the scraping of felt covered dry erase marker against the smooth white of the board as Jake writes. For a moment, everything is just… silent. Easy. He’s reminded of one of those weird tanks he’s seen in some dumb article as he was flipping through google, the ones that block out all your senses and just leave you floating there in nothin’ but a pool of water with only your heartbeat to keep you company.


Thud.

.

.

.

.


The eyes that had been watching him earlier blink back at him in the empty space behind his eyelids. They flicker in and out of his vision like vaporous shadows, like the dark space just beyond his peripheral vision. In and out of the strings, they weave slowly, filling the air with their hazy whispers, soft like auditory fog. It fills the space. It’s quieter than he’s used too.

Of course, he thinks, that might be due in part to the large figure behind them.

It breaks the horizon with its height, still in the distance, watching the stalled van with those large, luminous eyes. Like stars, Tobi thinks. Like streetlamps at night. Like the otherworldly brightness of a computer monitor or television screen lit late at night in an otherwise empty room. They’re the only thing he can pick out in the night sky beyond the pale white lines of the trees and earth, but the figure attached just… stands. Waits. Blinks.

The figures in the forest beyond the shoulder of the road do the same. They stand. They wait. They blink.


‘We coul’ fix this. You’re hurtin’.’ he hears the voice in his head, far to soft for the size of the mouth it must come out of, yet filling the world around him in a way that shakes Tobi to his core. Sugar sweet twang that echoes his own croons promises of solutions. He doesn’t listen though, merely stares down the figure in the rearview mirror with eyes that mirror it’s own. A mile or two away, he can see the colossus shake its head in the same way his Ma does when she’s just a bit disappointed in him or his sister.


‘Stubb’rn chil’.’


.

.

.

.


Thud.

Takes a while, but there’s a second beat. Bright grey eyes open and suddenly he’s there again. There in the van with his hands gripped white knuckled on the old frayed leather, plastic, whatever material of the steering wheel. He can’t tell, just knows that it bends just barely to the curve of his hands. He’s angry, he knows that, knows the world responds in a soft rumble. It’s taking all he’s got in him to just keep his hands here on the wheel and not throw one at Jake. Knuckles would break the stick man’s bones, they’d crack under the force and he wouldn't feel a damn thing but a gut roiling mix of satisfaction and guilt churning sick in his stomach. So he keeps his hands here, his mouth close, teeth clenched, and anger burning a ragged hole in his chest.

That is, till Jake shoves something in his lap.

The whiteboard has been shoved in the space under his arms and onto the tops of his legs. It’s tilted at an odd angle from where Jake shoved it, obscuring the words from his vision. It’s confusing enough to abate some of the anger, at least for the moment, and replace it with confusion and curiosity. Jake’s small movements go ignored next to him as he loosens a hand from the wheel to gingerly grab at the corner of the small whiteboard to flip it towards him. The words swim into focus.


I don’t know what happened.

I saw ink in hair.

Dining Hall, Noelle sunk in ink. It got sucked back into her.

She talked to me about it. Promised me not to tell.

Said she would talk to you about it.

I thought you knew.



Grey eyes stare at the words for a moment more. His head is a mess, a mess of emotions, of guilt, of anger, of frustration, of want and need and anxiety. He remembers wanting to talk to Noelle about the ink problem, remembers promising himself that he would get to the bottom of it the morning after his birthday party. He was going to take her out for coffee or as nice a lunch as he could afford and they would talk about this situation like adults. They were going to figure it out like the adults they were. Like the adult he was supposed to be.

But, like so many other things, those plans had been caught in the landslide that had become their day to day life. It had just fallen apart. Easy as that. He had tried to bring it up again, she had tried to bring it up again, but they had always been too busy. Too wrapped in in what they had been doing at the time to talk about the elephant in the room. So, they hadn’t, and the problem just faded into the background hum of their lives. He never forgot about it, never stopped worrying for her, never stopped making a plan that had never come to pass. He had just…

Just…

Both his hands slips from the wheel as he raises them to tangle in his own dense curls. He had just…

They had been busy, his brain rationalizes. Busy with what, he argues back. Busy with a school you hate, busy with people that hate you? Busy with dorm activities or schoolmates or study groups and books? Too busy to prevent this?

Didn’t he care?

Why didn’t he care enough?

‘I care, I care, I care about her,’ he mumbles with a rising panic in his voice, but his mind’s not listening, his anxiety doesn’t calm.

Why didn’t she tell him? Did she feel she couldn't? Did she think he wouldn’t listen? Did she not trust him?


What had he done to make her feel that way?



.


He has to get out.

The van is suddenly too cramped, too small a space. It’s a little metal cage and he hates it, feels the bile rising up his throat at the thought of being in here a moment longer than now. One hand untangles itself to fumble at the lock then the handle before the door pops open with a metallic click and Tobi practically falls into the blowing snow outside. He can’t hear the happy steady chime indicating the car door being open as he takes a heavy step against the wind and towards the shoulder of the road.

The headlights of the car illuminate him briefly as he crosses around the front before he’s back in the dimly lit space on the passenger’s side of the car. Two more steps and he’s kneeling against the thin line separating the road from the grass leading into the forest. Hundreds of little eyes watch as he heaves onto the ground, bile and whatever was in his stomach mixing with some strange phosphorescence. It illuminates the snow around him, he illuminates the snow hitting his back. The lines on his skin inch to only a hair’s breadth away from the outer corner of his eyes. Anger chokes him, grief blinds him, and guilt amplifies it all to a sickly, shrieking crescendo.


He’s dry heaving now, screaming silently into the slowly accumulating snow and praying to any god that will listen to help.


Hundreds of bright eyes flicker in the same direction down the road.


In the distance, one massive figure visible only to Tobi takes a step forward.

.

.

.

.

.


Miles away, Alex Trebeck reads the answer to a question against a backdrop of navy blue squares.

“Two hundred to Agnes,” the figure on the couch mumbles soft and sleepy.

Agnes Maynard lies on her couch curled up under one of the blankets she had stolen from her brother. One of her favorites, this one. Her brother had told her the name of the pattern once, who knew the patterns had names (not her). She’d just liked the colors; the whole thing had been done in saturated blue hues with bright little pops of a lighter color mixed in. Tobi had done something to it to make it extra warm too, as if he had known she was going to steal it.

If she was honest with herself, she knew he knew she was going to steal it. He wasn’t her twin for nothin’.

It was perfect for nights like this though. The evening news had warned of a massive storm that was blowing through their area; with any luck, it was going to hit Tobi’s campus too. She had texted her brother during the broadcast, warning him to stay safe and indoors during. Tobi was adverse to the indoors, but he wasn’t an idiot. Still though.


She worries.


Her hand reaches down to scratch at the massive brown dog at the base of the couch. Sunshine had set herself there about two Jeopardy!s and one Wheel of Fortune ago, and the girl hadn’t moved since. At Agnes’s touch though, her head raises with a soft exhale of air to lean into the touch. She’d never admit it to Tobi, but Sunshine was the best damn therapy dog. Kid had done somethin’ real good when he decided to keep the massive mutt around.

On the end table near her head, she can hear her phone buzz. Nothin’ important, she thinks. Just some email about the word a’ the day or some recipes mailing list she had signed up for and forgot about. Ain’t nobody texting her at this hour of night; all her friends and colleges from the park actually went to bed at a decent hour and the one person who used to hasn’t texted her in quite a while. Not since that night at the college, she thinks with a tired frown as she snuggles a little deeper into the quilt.

Not like she hadn’t tried. A couple of texts had been typed but never sent; in the end, she had only ever mustered a ‘hey’ or ‘how you doin’?’ or maybe a funny picture she had found. In the end, there had been no response, which she kinda figured. 'Didn’t blame the girl, honestly. ‘I mean,’ she thinks with a roll of her eyes (more at herself than anyone else), ‘how does that even come up in conversation? Like, hey girl, I think you’re cute but any sort of commitment gives me anxiety? I hate feeling trapped in one place both physically and emotionally and while I crave that sort of intimacy and security, it literally gives me fuckin’ hives?’


“Smooth,” she says out loud before chuckling once to herself.


Her phone buzzes again, but this time it’s not the one sort of short ring that signals a notification. No, this time it’s the long and insistent buzzing of a phone call coupled with the screaming opening guitar riff of her ringtone.


She’s not proud to admit the suddenness of it scares the shit out of her.


“Fuck,” she grumbles as her hand reaches up to blindly grab for the phone and she waits for her heart to settle. “This better be goddam’ important.”

Calloused hands turn the phone around to read the caller id, but the name gives her pause. ‘That One Tall Kid’ flashes at her in bright letters, the buzzing insisting she answer. Tobi’s friend,what’s his face, pretty his name was Jake? They hadn’t talked or texted or done anything since that party on their birthday, the hell is he calling for at fuck o’clock?

She drags her finger across the screen to answer before holding the phone to her ear. Before she can even say anything, ask anything, Jake is speaking.

“Hey. Agnes? You told me to call if there was trouble? Well… I think you know the rest."


‘Goddamn it.’ she thinks.


“The hell did you two do?” she asks with a long sigh.
avatar
Admin
Posts : 10094
Join date : 2013-03-05
Age : 22
Location : United States
View user profilehttp://xmen-renewed.forumotion.com

Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Tue Jan 29, 2019 11:08 pm
“The hell did you two do?”

The sound of her voice still made his heart skip a beat and his breath halt. The night was hazy, tinged with a few too many beers, of laughter and warm food. Of smiles and endless opportunities. The way she had smiled at him when he talked about that trip to Maryland, that stupid Fiji mermaid. The look on her face when he promised her that pie and any leftovers, the look on Tobi’s face when he sorted through those feathers that he had received. How Jake had fallen for the woman with the too sharp smile and ass-kicker boots. The chunky sweater, the accent that was smooth and slurred as molasses.

It struck him that those occurrences were from a week ago.

Less than a week ago.

It wasn’t warm, but there weren’t flurries of snows dancing across the window, covering the ground with a thick blanket. There was a slight, autumnal breeze, sure, but not this bitter wind that wailed against his ancient van. There wasn't huge, puffs of snow, only the crunchy fall leaves that he used to pile up and throw his youngest sisters in back home.

So much had changed, so much had happened.

The long sigh brings him back to the present, brings him back to now. HE carefully leans his body to the window, the glass a harsh chill of temperature. Yet, against his feverish body, it was a godsend. He closes his eyes, focusing on deep breaths and the jittering of his left foot that, somehow, always kept him grounded. Even if he was stuck in a car, he had to be moving.

Where did he start?

“Well. I don’t know what happened exactly. But Noelle is missing. Or she’s gone. I don’t know, he wasn’t clear. Not talking much…”

Not talking much? Understatement of the year. Next to Noelle telling them all that she was fine, next to saying that he and Trevor had “grown apart” over the past month and a half. 'Not talking muc.' Who was he trying to fool? Between the two of them, Jake had done most of the talking. And most of that was just guessing what was going on and reacting the best he could considering the circumstances. Tobi’s hearing was also nonexistent, which is saying something when Jake usually had to yell at him to get his attention. He should probably bring that up. He gently banged his head on the glass, his damp curls beginning to stick to his forehead, to his scars. He banged it again for safe measure.

“He can’t hear either. And he’s glowing? More than usual. Like… Painful to look at… Um, I don’t know what to do… He’s…”

Jake opened his eyes again, turning his head without lifting to focus on the human bug zapper next to him. He was staring at the whiteboard with a distant, dazed expression. Man, Jake had no idea what the guy must be feeling. Jake had seen Noelle begin to sink back at the dining hall, how panic she had been, how wide her eyes got. The instant relief when that murky blackness retreated in those un-scuffable patent leather flats she always wore. But that pure anxiety and fear etched on that long face was enough to make Jake, a total stranger, want to reach out and help. It was finally sinking in to what Tobi might have seen- a totally new situation that his girlfriend had been stuck in. Literally.

Too soon, dumbass.

Jake turned back to the window, eyes closing again. He couldn’t really bare watching Tobi anymore. It was too sad, too rough. The glowing nerves were freaky, and there wasn’t anything Jake could do about it without taking them both out of the equation. The line on his jaw throbbed in the memory of putting Trevor out. And his abdomen flared up in response, warning not to do anything stupid. But still. Give Tobi a little peace?

“He’s not doing great… He’s been driving for the past couple of hours. We’re trying to find her. I… um… It’s kind of hard to explain-“

That gold, glittering thread snaking across the road, brilliant and bright as ever. Jake didn’t need to open his eyes to know that is was there. The dull pain of his midsection proved that it was still there. The pulling of his skin told him that their trail was still active and alive, creating a tether between him and wherever the fuck they were going. Jake started to feel the inevitable itch under his skin to just take over navigation and drive. Just drive and get out, get away, go anywhere but stalled in the middle of the road, waiting for… something. For Tobi to get it together? For Noelle to show up? For this crack-shot string of gold to end? But nah. They stayed still.

Probably should tell her that.

“Listen, um, Tobi stopped us in the middle of the road… The wind and snow are picking up, so there aren’t many people driving…But still, I just… I can’t… He’s not… responding. I… I don’t know what to do.”

The last words hit him in the chest. He doesn’t know what to do. He has no CLUE what to do. Every part of that half-baked plan that he formulated was just that. Half-baked. He had no idea how to make this better, how to make this okay. Jake shivered. The uncertainty made his skin crawl. Usually, he was fine with going where the wind blew him. Just going where life took him. But that was because any consequences were at his expense. The people close to him stayed where they were and didn’t have to worry about the bullshit that Jake tended to get into. But now? He felt responsible for Tobi. Noelle too. And Agnes, in a strange way. Like he needed to hold this fractured perception of calm together, even if it pulled him at the seams. He shivered again.

Wait.

Why was he shivering?

The first had been a reaction to the situation. The second had been to the surroundings. Jake perked his head up, bringing himself back to earth again. The sickly sweet ping, the hard hit of the winter wind. His eyes pop open just as Tobi stumbles out of the car and to the side of the road. He hit the ground, hunched over. His back convulsing. Jake might not be able to hear over the deafening wind, but he has been in that position before. Over a toilet, a wastebasket, a kitchen sink. The dude was getting sick.

“Shit….. Shit!” He mumbles under his breath, then remembers the phone on his ear “Uh, he just… left. He’s on the ground, I think he’s, uh, throwing up.”

Jake blinks as he sees the snow around Tobi start to glow with fluid. He curses again, as the driver's door slams shut from the wind before unbuckling and pushing his door open. The pain protested the fever protested, his brain protested, but he stumbled outside, almost faceplanting into the show. He would later regret the fact that Agnes heard him whine as he caught himself on his rearview mirror. He sputters, gasps and groans as he pulls himself up. He was poorly dressed for the snow, grumbling something half intelligible about Tobi leaving his hat at home. But, with the sheer force of will, he pulls himself over to the other side of the car. The wind whips past him something fierce, harder than any slap that his sister ever graced him with. He yelled out, hoping it would catch up to Tobi in some way.

“HEY! DUDE! YOU ALRIGHT?”

Stupid.

Of course, he wasn’t alright. He was upchucking the insides of a fucking glowstick. The guy was anything but ‘alright’. But, the most important thing was to get him back in the car. In the back, or in the passenger seat. Not driving. Jake would drive, get them where they needed to go as fast as they could. Tobi could just close his eyes, maybe fall asleep. Maybe take a fucking second to take a deep breath. It wasn’t like Noelle was kidnapped by some psycho, or lured elsewhere. It was her powers. And if they were supposed to give her some sort of “evolutionary advantage” that everyone always droned on about, it wouldn’t hurt her. It couldn’t. That would be stupid.

Thought the man, whose own abilities were burning him inside and out. Who was with a man who was burning himself inside out, in a very different way.

But Jake had to push that thought aside. All thoughts aside. The only thing that mattered right now was getting Tobi in the god damn car. If he didn’t, there wasn’t really hope for Noelle getting someplace safe. Of Tobi taking a second to calm down. Of Jake getting out of this in one piece. So, he tried again.

“TOBI! LET’S TALK ABOUT IT! PLEASE! FIGURE OUT WHAT WE KNOW! SHE NEEDS US! NOELLE NEEDS US! WE CAN’T GIVE UP NOW!”

Jake took another step forward, towards the man leaning down. He remembered the phone to his ear, his voice raising a little as he tries his best to explain what was happening.

“Uh? Agnes? Does your brother usually puke out glowing shit?”

Smooth, McKinley. Smooth.

Carefully, he took a step forward, and another, and another, until he was only a few feet away from Tobi. The glowing, lightning patterns on his skin made him stand out in the damn near white out they were experiencing. But Jake stopped where he was, unsure of his next move. Tobi Probably didn’t hear anything that he said earlier. Hasn’t heard a thing he said all night. But Jake desperately needed to be heard. He felt the sweat on his brow turn into sheets of ice, his heart roaring in his ears. He shudders but stands his ground even though the wind tried to sweep him away. His fingers are frozen to his phone, which sticks to his ear.

Still, he stands his ground.

He didn’t know how to make Tobi move. Didn’t want to get too close.

Didn’t want to fuck up anything that poor man had left.
-
-
-
-
It wasn’t just darkness.

It was a void.

A nothingness.

And she wasn’t swimming in it.

She wasn’t even present in it.

She was it. She was the void. The nothingness. Her consciousness was there, but there was nothing to hold it. Just empty space that went on in infinity. Forever. Time had to be passing, of course. But she had no way to tell between seconds, minutes, hours. Days, weeks, months, years, millennia. Any lesser man would have been driven insane, but she took the time to gather her thoughts of what happened.

She was outside the dorms. Looking for a small black cat.

Glenn.

She couldn’t find him, she stood up. She was stuck in something.

Ink.

Someone saw her. Someone came to help.

Tobi.

And then she was gone.

She was here.

She was nowhere.

And, she realized, she didn’t want to be nowhere.

Well. Where do you want to go?

The thought was from her own mind, but it was similar yet subtly different than her inner voice. It was silky smooth, sliding between the cracks of her consciousness, filling her with some sort of something. Feeling hit her in a way that made her realize how much she had missed feeling things as a whole. Warm sunlight on her cheek? The thin pages of a well-loved book? Gruff fingers brushing against her collarbone. Yes. She wanted to feel. Wanted to be something. Wanted to be somewhere. Somewhere safe. Somewhere familiar. Somewhere that made her happy.
.
.
.
She blinked.

Standing in a clearing surrounded by tall pine trees that swayed in the wind in time with the long grass. The sky was far from clear, but she still could make out the shifting stars from the clouds above. And not just stars, but galaxy It was dark- the sun must have set while she was in that other place, but the air was not the same air as the air on campus. It was sweeter smelling, familiar too. She had been there before, when it was a tad warmer, a tad brighter. A night filled with soft sighs and even softer whispers. Of skin on skin and lips melding together. On the top of a car roof, she sat and memorized every detail the morning after, wanting to remember the space for what it was. Recreating it. Without the van, it was an untouched slice of heaven. The tall, triangular trees in steadfast green, occasionally dotted with bare oaks with branches that stretched to the sky. A whistle in the grass, that was uneven and so beautifully imperfect. Even the rocks- a few boulders surrounded by pebbles. She had manufactured this back at her dorm weeks later as a memento. But it was all still here.

Still, she blinks, confused.

How had she arrived here? Why?

A cold breeze whispers by and she reached up to grab her arms for warmth, and her left arm responded. She frowned, looking at her right side, and her glassy eyes turn to saucers. In place of her forearm was a tendril of sticky, black muck that swirled and dissipated into even darker smoke the cool night air. She gaped at it for a while, attempting to move it. Directionally, yes, it was functional. But other than that? It was like her arm was in a plaster cast that just wouldn’t set, with layers and layers of numbing that rendered any small motor movement useless. And as she flailed her right arm around, the goo splatters on the ground, landing on the grass and rocks that she had dearly tried to preserve. A soft, guttural noise escapes her lips, the gravity of the situation hitting her after the shock of her new placement.

Tobi.

Oh, God. Tobi.

She remembered him trying to grab her, trying to reach into the ink and pull her out. To no avail. Now she stared at him, apologizing, trying to tell him anything and everything before she was yanked from life into a void that she had no way of comprehending. Her heart rises to a rapid pace, her breath matching. She needed to get to Tobi. Back to Tobi. He would know what to do. And if he didn’t, they would figure it out together like they always did. Back to Tobi. Back to safety.

Safety? Go to safety?

She yelped, she couldn’t help it. That voice, so familiar, so like her own, but not. The one that had filled her in that nothingness, that gave her feeling… It was numbing her now. Her legs were stuck in place again. Frozen, numb, unfeeling. And the icy lack of feeling reached her thighs, her torso, her left arm, her chest.

Without thinking, she spoke aloud. The voice might have been internal, but Noelle needed to know that she was making some sort of impact on the space. Her voice was shaky, a soft warble, a pale comparison to the girl who was freely giving proclamations of love in the spot that she stood. And yet, it broke the silence of the space.

“Yes back to safety! Back Home! I need-“

Safety. Home.

As soon as the words confirmed, she knew her fate. She could feel that invisible tic, the metaphorical egg timer rounding out again. The voice now silt in a smug satisfaction that it knew where she needed to go next, where she would thrive next. Where she would relax and gain what she needed. It was infact, only her second journey. And it had been wanting to reach out and help the girl since she manifested. Since she showed the ink and the paper love, creating with them something out of their nothing.

But the girl knew nothing of this. All she knew was that she was too late. Again. She should have just calmed herself, waited, found a phone, not let clenching anxiety take over her. She closed her eyes, not wanting to see the world bottom out again. She felt the pull.

And Noelle Scott sunk back from whence she came.
-
-
-
-
Jake hit the ground.

Honestly, it was becoming so ordinary for him to hit the ground that he was surprised that none of his friends had dubbed it his signature dance move.

But he hit the ground, pain blinding him. His phone bounces in the snow as it flings from his hand, which reaches for his stomach. The sickly scent of burnt flesh wafts into the air, an audible sizzle is sounded. And as Jake leaned over, almost in the fetal position, the snow around him began to turn to slush as the heat that radiated off of him rippled to the space around him.

Something was deeply wrong.

He yelped, unable to focus on anything but the pain, his eyes screwed shut, his brow furrowing, threatening to rip his skin apart. And yet, if he had just looked behind him, he would have seen what had happened. That golden thread, their compass, their only lead, began to fade. The light that had been so luminous, so bright that it was the only thing visible besides Tobi’s vomit in the snow shortened until just about a foot in front of the car was left. It waivered, blinking, and rippled in the wind, as if unsure to it’s destination.

“Shit. Fucking. Shit. Bullshit. Fucking. Shit.”

Jake busted those words as if he were just learning to speak again, using them to draw his focus on the world around him, not the internal thrashing of skin wanting to be ripped apart. How the fuck had this happened? He didn’t say ANYTHING.

He coughs, curses, and sinks into the snow. The cold, frigid night blanketed him, urging him to just stay where he was, to let go and freeze to death in the middle of god damn nowhere. TO forget about school, and Tobi, and Noelle, and Trevor, and all the other bullshit that surrounded his pitiful life. His brain tempted him with thoughts of sleep. Of calm.

Jake’s brain was stupid.

Meanwhile, that small shred of golden light flickered once more, before shooting off in the opposite direction, just as true and pure as was before. It casted a warm glow on the spot where Tobi knelt, where Jake fell, the cellphone that was quickly becoming blanketed. Goating them on to just trust and go. To move quickly, because who knew where it would take them and how quickly. If it were to do this again.
avatar
Posts : 460
Join date : 2013-09-24
Age : 23
Location : United States
View user profile

Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Thu Feb 21, 2019 9:44 pm
The night outside the window is cold and dark. Thankfully though, he’s not outdoors. Rather, Sam’s curled up on the couch in front of their television (really, it’s his television, but what’s mine is yours, and he's not one to quibble). He’s been watching reruns of the history channel for a while now, and the upbeat narration of modern marvels has slowly shifted into the more somber tones reserved for war documentaries. It’s World War II tonight, as war documentaries tended to have a bias for maybe four wars, and Sam watches the program with the muted enthusiasm of someone trapped by both their own exhaustion and the circumstances they find themselves in.

Because Sam is trapped; he’s trapped by the familiar body spread on top of him and wearing one of his own sweatshirts paired with a set of sweatpants much too nice for the sweatshirt. Lazarus had fallen asleep on top of him about an hour ago. Worn out by the combination of pain medication, the previous headaches, the soothing tone of the narration, and Sam’s own body heat underneath him, Laz had passed out hard. White hair falls in a ruffled mess against Sam’s chest as it bobs just slightly in time with his breathing; his hands have been carding through the thick strands for a while now. It’ll mess up Laz’s hair and he’ll make a fuss about it tomorrow, but they both know it’s an act. He loves this sort of attention, appreciates it more when he’s in pain.

Which he definitely had been. Sam had walked in on him in the hallway of the history building sitting on one of the benches in the hallway with his head leaned back against the cool tile. Blood was just starting to dry underneath his nose and on the cuff of his dress shirt; he’d surely be pissed about that later. Right then though, he had just blearily looked at Sam with a gaze that wasn’t a hundred percent there. ‘Never a really good sign,’ Sam had thought as he had gingerly lifted the man to a standing position and helped him out the door to his car. He can't imagine what had happened to Laz to get him to look like that. Couldn’t have been one of his usual migraines, he carried some pretty heavy meds for those and they didn’t make him bleed out his nose. But, there’s something strange in the air as he steps the two of them outside and towards Laz’s car. A heavy pressure that pushes against the back of his eyes and behind his skull like a bad headache, one that he had noticed coming in but hadn’t paid that much attention to.

It’s strange, not something he would associate with the weather even with the snow beginning to fall in thick flurries around them. Almost felt like something just beyond his awareness was trying to grab hold of him, shake him, tell him something important (help please help, wrong, not natural, crow rot decay, help). There’s a soft groan from the man leaning against his shoulder, and it all clicks into place. Something big had happened here recently and the ripple effects of the fallout had kicked his husband in the teeth, was still kicking him in the teeth. That, he doesn’t appreciate.

‘Lay off,’ he growls through gritted teeth. It’s a warning delivered in the low creak of dead wood, of the fluttering of crows wings, of recently past storms and wet earth, of decay and rot and the collected final cries of a thousand lives cut short. There’s layers on layers of threat there and ripples of a power he normally holds back from using; the voices that are making that noise, they know what he can do and what he won’t hesitate to do for the man propped up against his side. The briefest image of a blackened waste, of a campus stripped bare of every old growth tree, every future bud that had yet to open comes to mind and overlays on top of the white landscape laid out in front of him. ‘If they won’t shut up the nice way,’ he thinks as his fingertips begin to darken, ‘I’ll make them.’

There’s a long moment. Laz leans on his shoulder with his eyes shut tight. Sam glares at an unseen foe with a murderous intensity and the promise of violence dripping from his fingertips and onto the snow. And then, just as the skin along his forearm begins to ripple and fade black, there’s a feeling like floodgates opening. The pressure flows from the area, retreating farther and farther until Sam can no longer feel any of it. The black running up his arm recedes as he grabs the car keys from Laz’s pocket and unlocks the hybrid across the parking lot. From there it’s just a matter of getting into the car and driving off in the snow.

And now he’s here on his couch, docile as a housecat with his husband blanketed on top of him and the soft sounds of a war they had been apart of playing on the tv. Lazarus snoozes softly in the hoodie he had taken from Sam’s collection, and Sam gently moves the hand that had been carding through Laz’s hair down to rest lightly on his back. Dark hair spills over the couch as he leans further into the pillow and thinks of all the things he has yet to do: figure out a way to get his motorcycle back home, pick up more migraine medicine, get the man on top of him maybe into bed and not on the couch, etc, etc, etc. His free hand absently works its way up to tangle in the pale hand nearest him, fingers slotting together just as they had thousands of times before.

He falls asleep to his own list making and the narrator describing the exploits and achievements of one particular, pale haired pilot.


For miles around them, the world is silent.


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

The door to Jake’s apartment was unlocked.

“Huh.” the voice in front of it mumbles. Thin, dexterous hands the color of a handful of different scaled reptiles shift as the man attached to them adjusts the grocery bags in his arms to free up enough fingers to grab and twist the doorknob open. There’s a light creak as the old door slides open, and large feet cross the watermelon covered threshold with a light step.

“Jaaaake?” the voice is light as it calls into the empty apartment. Could almost be considered spooky, the emptiness, but he’s not one to be easily spooked by vast swathes of empty space or the supernatural. Well, technically extraterrestrial. Folklore? He’s not sure where the distinction lies, or what category his own expertise would technically fall under. Right now, his expertise is soup for his sick buddy, (the word sticks a little heavy in his head; it had been a long while since ‘buddy’ had taken on a less platonic feel, at least on his part)  and maybe some crunchy bread he’d have to shove in an oven to get crunchy to go with said soup. He’d picked it out himself, he hopes Jake appreciates the vegetables. Heaven knows that kid didn’t eat any of his own volition.


Still. The not answering thing is maybe starting to worry him a little bit.


“I brought dinner. Y’know. Cause I care.” He shouts again into the empty apartment as he sets down the grocery bags with a plastic rustle. With the ease of someone who's been in the space a hundred times before, he moves through the kitchen and flips on the oven, smiling when he hears the telltale click hiss of the oven starting to heat. “I’m making bread now,” He hums loudly. “I’ll probably buuuuurnnnn itttt.” he sing songs a little softer, more to himself. Long black nails more kin to talons than anything else click on the tile floor as he moves from the oven to the bags he had brought, pulling down the white plastic to reveal a paper wrapped loaf of bread and a large container of soup packed nearly to bursting with nearly every vegetable. He’d figured the more of them there were, the faster Jake would get better, right? His shoulders come up in a shrug. Seems right. Feels right.

He’s leaning on the counter, bread in his hands and reading through the directions on the packaging when something strange brushes against his leg. A jolt runs through him and he’s not ashamed to say later that he had made a noise pitched high enough to wake the neighbors back on his floor. Looking down though, he is delighted with what he finds after his heart slows back to a normal beat. One little black ball of fuzz is winding figure eights around his legs, mewing soft sounds as it mushes its face against his legs. Those same long legs bend at the knee to become better acquainted with the little cat.

“When did he get you…?” He murmurs to the cat as his thin bony fingers scratch gently behind the little beast’s ears. The cat replies, but in a language he just can’t quite understand. Awful cute though. Cute like a certain someone. “Y’know,” he thinks aloud. Wide round eyes track through the dark apartment looking at the various messes and disturbed pieces of furniture. Now that he’s really looking around the place, he can see that the balcony door is open. Strange. Everything's a little messier than usual; granted, not as much of a complete disaster as his, but still.


“I don’t think Jake’s here, little dude.”


It’s kinda obvious in hindsight, he supposes. The open door, the way the lights had been turned off, the balcony door; it all pointed to either Jake being gone or something less than kosher happening. Being a firm believer in the power of positive thought though,he assumes the kid just left to go grab… whatever Jake needed to grab and lets the bread bake through to optimum crustiness. As long as he’s here, he may as well make use of Jake’s much cleaner kitchen. One heated through bowl of soup, a couple slices of crusty bread, and leftovers packed away in the fridge later, he’s about to walk out the door and down the stairs to his own apartment when that same four legged fluff boofs against his leg once more.

He looks down at the little ball of fur from his six foot vantage point. “You want some soup too?” he asks with a smile packed full of pointed teeth. There’s no danger here to the small cat though and it seems to sense that, mewing insistently up at the lanky green man. His laughter echoes through the empty apartment as he bends down to allow the cat to climb up his sharp shoulders and burrow into the soft material of his thick sweatshirt, balancing all this and the bowl of soup.

Glenn settles at the junction between his neck and shoulder. The man straightens to his full height again before giving a sideways glance at the little cat. Freckles more akin to small dotted scales wash over his cheeks to disappear into his hairline. Bright, definitely dyed orange hair falls in tight, coarse curls; most of them are pushed back with a colorful headband. Flat nose, wide bright orange eyes, and a dusting of teal spots all pale in comparison to the strangeness of the three long antennae that flare out where his ears should be. Confuses the hell outta people when he wears headphones but hey, that’s the price of looking dope as hell.

“I’m Steve,” he introduces himself to the little cat with two long, bony fingers coming up to grip one of the cat’s paws in a small handshake. “And you’re lucky I got cat food lying ‘round, cause there ain’t much else in my kitchen you’d like.”

“Now we gotta lay out some ground rules if you’re staying,” he says low to the cat as they walk out the front door and down the stairs. “No chewing on cords. No nothing on the work desk. I swear I left some corrosive stuff up there, or the soldering iron or something. Just don’t. No, ah, shit, what else is there…”

The cat mews happily as the two of them pass over a doormat with a faded print of the Nasa logo on it and into a warm, dark apartment full of blinking lights and the silhouettes of hanging wires.

“Ugh, still damn cold.” Steve mutters as the door closes behind him and he steps over piles of wires and equipment with a practiced ease. The soup and bread are set down on the closest surface and he pulls out his phone to type a message to (the man he’s been crushing on for at least a year) Jake, ask him where he was in this near blizzard.


‘Yo, i left soup at your apartment cause you’re sick and all. Should you really be out in this weather? Asking for a friend’

‘It’s me, i’m the friend’

‘Btw, when’d you get a cat??? I love him <3 <3’

‘Also I stole him, whoops. Is that kidnapping? Pls don’t sue’


A long minute later:


‘Heheh catnapping’

‘Jake I’m a cat burgler’


And another minute:

‘Yo, text me back when you can. I’d like to know you’re not dead Smile


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

Agnes sits up on the couch and leans into the sofa cushions behind her. Still curled up in the blanket, she frowns at the phone. “Noelle’s missin’, missin like how?” she asks low into the phone. It doesn’t seem like to girl to just up and leave somewhere. Her sharp grey eyes flick towards the dark, frosted over window looking out at the pine trees that surround her house. While normally she could look out and see the swathes of green and pine even in the dark, right now she can’t even see the swinging windchimes that swing freely from the porch overhang. Can hear them just fine, ‘specially in this sorta wind, but ‘bout a foot past the window is jsut flat white. She knows the girl ain’t dumb enough to leave in weather like this.

Jake and her brother on the other hand…

Jake’s just been talking non stop since he’s called her,telling her that her brother can’t hear (not surprising), that he’s glowing (a little more unusual), that he’s been driving the two of them for hours. Why Jake let the kid drive, she has no idea. Tobi wasn’t ever too keen on it when they had been living together, in the beginning it had been a struggle just to get him in the truck. Little metal boxes and claustrophobia just didn’t mix. In the end, he’d always had to have a window open and half leaning out the thing to even feel the slightest bit comfortable. Figures he wouldn’t be able to do that in a snowstorm like this. God, he was fucking driving in this.

And now they were stopped in the middle of the road? The hell’s going on?

“Jake, y’all need to listen to me,” she says as Jake finally stops talking. The kid doesn't know what to do, and she can’t really blame him. His friend’s missing, and Tobi can get to be a … handful when he’s stressed this bad. He was a dense, sensitive fucker that forgot his own strength sometimes, which might not mesh well with Jake’s well intentioned but very loud and to the point way of trying to fix things. “What I need you to do is just stay…”

“Shit….. Shit!” she hears in her ear and goddamn this kid. “Uh, he just… left. He’s on the ground, I think he’s, uh, throwing up.”

“Jake I swear to god, don’t fucking leave that car,” she starts and nearly screams when she hears the telltale scrape and chime of a door opening. She settles instead for just putting a hand to her forehead and muttering quietly into the phone. “No one can hear me, I’m a ghost. I’ve died and this is my punishment. Just please, don’t…” the last sentence is louder than the first, but she still doesn’t managed to get out much before Jake is yelling on the other end.

“HEY! DUDE! YOU ALRIGHT?”

Idiot.

She hears him yell again and if Tobi is really on the side of the road, out of the car in a fucking blizzard, puking up glowing shit, she doesn’t trust Jake to get near him right now.  If it was her, yeah sure, she could get right up in his face, calm him down, help him down from whatever ledge he’d worked himself up to. But Jake isn’t her. He doesn’t have the advantage of being able to wrestle down her twin, doesn’t have that safety net, and honestly? Jake sounds winded even talking to her on the phone. He’s in no shape to be poking at the equivalent of a cornered grizzly with a stick.

“Jake, for the love of all that is holy in heaven and earth, let him just chill out.” ‘Please,’ she thinks, leaning forward so that her elbows are resting on top of her knees. From her spot on the floor, Sunshine lifts her head to look at Agnes. ‘Don’t be fucking stupid.’

She has half a mind to make her way up there even in this weather, would call her parents if she could, but the two of them still didn’t carry phones up on the mountain.  

On the television screen, Alex is announcing the beginning of Double Jeopardy. The snow continues to fall outside as Agnes tries to figure out what to do.

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

He’s bent over in the snow, seeing little past the soft glow of his own vomit in the white snow. But feeling? Oh lawd, he’s feeling everything. He’s feeling the tight coil of guilt that slowly been sucker punching everything in his stomach out of him, the tight pressure of regret, the low chill of some sort of dread clawing its way up the fired nerves that flicker just a breath away from the corner of his eyes. His vision is jerking in and out, cutting out like the black and white static of a television losing signal. Hands lift and as he looks at them, he realizes he can’t physically feel what he knows is the cold of the soft snowflakes hitting them.

He’s numb. Trapped in his own head. Can’t hear, can’t feel, can’t smell, vision flickering, his body’s shutting down and yet… he can feel footsteps. Massive footsteps that send small tremors through the earth the closer they come to him. Footsteps that for the quakes they leave, are oddly silent. Footsteps that as they make their way closer, push the glow on his face closer and closer to his eyes and force his vision further into fuzzy static.

‘Let us help.’ The voice echoes through the woods around him, coming from a hundred, a thousand different little figures. ‘Let me help,’ they echo again, eyes all pointed towards the looming giant Tobi knows is approaching from behind him. Slowly, he wipes his mouth with shaking hands. Some of that same luminescence is left smeared on the back of his palms. His ink stained curls bob stiffly as his head turns back to look behind him, eyes widening when he sees what’s there.

It’s Jake. Jake, standing in the middle of a blizzard, his long and lanky figure backlit by the cool light of the van’s headlights. He’s shouting something at him with a pleading look, his hand holding a phone up to his ear. His eyes aren’t focused on Jake though; Jake’s only a small blip on his mind right now in the face of what is currently standing in the space behind the van. Wide eyes now truly twin to his own stare back in their grey-on-glowing-white, the pair of them both easily as large as one of the van doors. The dark figure fills the space in front of Tobi and blocks out the sky with its presence. It drips dark leaves and forest debris, it’s spine is lined with the broken trunks of ancient trees; instead of what he had assumed was hair, it looks as if the whole of the mane that covers its head is made of various vines, feather, flowers, and moss. All of it dark, all of the spaces in between glittering with the starlight in a clear night sky.

Tobi gapes dumbly at the figure above, paying little mind to Jake who was still trying to get his attention. He’s on his feet now, nerves blazing as he takes a solid step back away from the road and away from the figure. There’s no way to process what’s happening right now, not on the heels of all this… all this mess they were in. ‘There’s no way, no fuckin’ way,’ he thinks as he shakes his head. A dark hand reaches down to hit the space next to Jake, Tobi watches as the figure lowers itself closer down towards the ground, towards him. The vines of its hair are brushing close to Jake’s head and the kid don’t even notice, don’t even know what kinda shit he’s in, what kinda shit they’re both in cause honestly? Tobi don’t either.

He doesn’t know what to make of any of this, and the confusion only adds a strange sort of panic to the slurry of thoughts and emotions swirling around his head right now. He takes a step back. The figure plants its second hand.


Jake falls to the ground.


Both Tobi and the figure blink in perfect tandem. That doesn’t seem… right. ‘Jake?’ Tobi calls, the name echoed by the large figure looming over the now prone man. It ripples through the area with the weight lent to it by the figure blotting out the night sky. Tobi steps forward towards his friend on the ground, stepping over the luminous vomit, before he notices the golden guideline they’ve been following flicker and fade, flicker and fade, in and out of existence. His body stills as he watches the only hope he’s had of finding Noelle stutter like a light bulb with a bad connection, praying that it’s just the static of his vision that’s making it look that way.

‘It’s not,’ the figure says, while Jake’s writhing on the ground confirms it. Tobi can only stare in disbelief as the light finally settles, only this time in the direction they came from. The direction they came from. Back towards campus. Back the way they came. He blinks, then blinks again, still with the slowly dawning realization. When his head finally turns back towards Jake, it’s without the concern he had held before for his friend suffering on the ground. It’s damn near murderous.

‘The fuck did you say?’ he growls out low in tones of crashing earth and low thunder. He knows Jake must have done something to stop the line, must have said some word to cause the thing to suddenly change direction because that’s just how it works. Jake says something and something happens, then he ends up on the ground. Jake’s on the ground. Something happened. He must have said something.

‘THE FUCK YOU SAY, JAKE.” The words are impossibly loud even in the roar of the blizzard, rumbling deep through the earth and shaking the bare trunks of trees. They’re in a language Jake can’t understand, but the tone is there, the body language is there.

Tobi’s pissed.

That had been his last. Hope. The very last one, the one he had been riding on to find Noelle and now? Now it was looking like what they had been on was a wild goose chase cause Noelle just can’t have changed locations that quick. It had to be Jake’s fault because the alternative? He couldn’t think of one that made sense, couldn’t really even think. Bubbling to the top of the cauldron of emotions spitting in his stomach is one that curls his fingers into a tight ball, one that narrows his eyes into a sharp glare, one that pulls his lips up into a growl. White hot anger rolls through him, lighting his nerves in a sudden sharp snap. Above Jake, the figure echoes Tobi, narrowing its own eyes and pulling back lips Tobi hadn’t realized were there to reveal rows and rows of dark, glinting teeth, the longest of them rivaling the length of Tobi’s arm.


He steps forward. The figure leans in.


“Jake. The fuck you say.’ He can’t hear any answer, can barely see beyond the static of his own vision so he fists a hand in Jake’s shirt and tugs the boy up closer. Six foot something, and Tobi drags him face to face with one arm. ‘What did you SAY.’

Jake’s lips are moving, but he can’t hear. He’s getting so tired of not being able to hear. Getting so fucking tired of every goddamn thing, of everything pushing in on him until he just can’t take the pressure anymore. There’s too much pushing in,to many things tearing him apart, and he’s just so fucking tired of it all. The same hand holding Jake lets go, leaving the kid on his feet before Tobi winds his body back to do the thing his body has been keening to do for a long time now.

The tiny dorm rooms. The prejudice on campus. The damn lawyer. The academic council. His classes. The violence, the fights, the runaway powers. Noelle missing, her vanishing in front of him.


Jake makes for an awfully easy target in the moment for all of that frustration.


His fist connects solidly with the kid’s nose, sends him back into the snow on the side of the road. Tobi stands for a good few seconds in the aftermath with the recent memory of bones breaking playing over and over again across his knuckles and watches the blood that’s gushing out of Jake’s nose with a resigned sense of… not satisfaction. The golden thread is gone, along with any sort of fight that had been left in him.

‘Goddammit.’ he mutters as hands come up to run through his hair. A shaky breath escapes him. “Goddammit. Din’t help nothin’.”


‘No,’ the figure above him agrees. ‘Prob’ly not.’ Tobi shoots it a glare as he bends to pick up the unconscious Jake.


“Y’ain’t helping.’ he mutters, lugging the gangly boy across the snow and back towards the van. It’s an awkward business trying to get all of his legs in back into the car in a position that looked at least a little comfortable (seriously, how long was this kid?), but he manages. Door now shut, he leans against it. After a long moment, his body begins to slide until he’s just sitting on the ground with the back of his head against the cold metal of the van.

He fucked up, he thinks as he sighs into the cold wind. Fucked up bad.
avatar
Admin
Posts : 10094
Join date : 2013-03-05
Age : 22
Location : United States
View user profilehttp://xmen-renewed.forumotion.com

Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Mon Mar 11, 2019 11:24 pm
“Leave my brother alone!”

It was sunny. But cold.

One of those spring days that, from inside of a house, it looked deceptively warm and pleasant. But the air was still tinged with winter, still had a slight bite. It nipped noses and gave break-neck winds.

Molly McKinley was standing, fists raised and murder in her eyes. She’s a husky kid, stocky with broad shoulders and a rectangular torso built from years of chasing her plethora of younger brothers and playing whatever sports her school allowed her (which was all thanks to her father and his intense stare at any ‘boys-only’ coach). Her sandy blonde hair is pulled back in a sweaty ponytail, her blocky eyebrows furrowed with her face screwed in agitation. Her left foot is ahead of the right, ready to lunge at the greasy-haired sixth grader who just shoved her dumb kid brother.

“He’s a freak.”

Beady, rat eyes and an upturned nose really made him look like some random loser kid from some straight to DVD movie adapted from some generic ‘middle school sux’ book. You know the type- it's aimed at boys who are 'dorky', but in the sense that they weren't really interested in comics or video games. No, no, no the dorks that just were always complained about being picked on for looking dorky.

Robbie was his name. He was a walking cliché with a name to match. He grinned maliciously at the gangly little boy who was clutching his nose, blood seeping through his fingers.

He didn’t look particular freak-ish normally. He was lanky, sure, but he was just the type of kid who was more skin and bones than anything else. Freckles dot his face in hues of orange and peach, sprinkled wherever skin was visible. Hair as curly and red as the tickle me Elmo that had been underneath his bed for the past three years. He looked normal.

Until you looked at his arms.

Jake had only wanted to wear his favorite shirt. It wasn’t a hand me down- it was a gift from his uncle for just him. He didn’t have to share it with his older brothers, it was his. Just his. The shirt in question was a soft, cotton navy blue with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sharing a gooey pepperoni pizza, grinning with smiles that match their wearer. It was faded, and there was dried ketchup stain on the face of a grinning Mikey (his fav turtle obviously). But it was his t-shirt.

And Jake chose to ignore the fact that, when he wore t-shirts, he looked… different.

It wasn’t that he had tentacles or glowing polka dots. He didn’t have extra fingers or feathers growing from his fingertips. His arms weren’t even misshapened or discolored. No, it was the big blistering and puffy symbols that almost looked like they were freshly branded that morning. There were only about half a dozen (his mother expected them to continue appearing well into his adulthood), but the ones that dotted his pale arms were large and almost occult looking.

And at a small Catholic school in Iowa, it led to many questions.

And stares.

And taunts.

Robbie had targeted him as soon as he stepped out of school- Jake was waiting for his older brothers, having spotted his sister hanging out with her friends. The other kids were picked up by their parents, Robbie had cornered Jake and threw a punch that, honestly, wasn’t even that hard.

But Jake was a wimp.

And also seven.

“He’s not a freak!”

Oh, Molly. Sweet, tough as nails Molly. She had moved between her brother and the bully, about even the score of broken noses and bloody fingers. Her face was screwed into some murderous rage that is only reserved for tomboy girls who grew up with three younger brothers. Fists clenched and raised jaw set. But Robbie, stupidly, stood his ground.

“Yes he is! And you’re a freak for defending him! You and your entire freak-“

CRUNCH

In a motion almost too fast for human eyes, Robbie was knocked flat on the asphalt. His awkward pre-teen limbs twitched, while his left hand reaches up to hold his eye. HE groaned, starting to scuttle away like the bug he was. Molly, meanwhile, turned to her brother, her face drawn into something much more… well, tired.

“Jake… What are we going to do with you?”
.

.

.

.

“STEVEN! JACOB! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TWO DOING?”

Jake moaned, hunched over in the cool morning grass. It was pleasantly cool, which is why they chose to play in the morning rather than midday, when the summer sun would surely fry them. Instead, the two brothers decided to skrimage just after dawn, to get to most practice in before their game.

Well, Steven’s game. Jake only played for the school team, under his fathers advice. He was eleven and went to a small, private school. There wasn’t many after school activities besides sports, and soccer was the lowest hanging fruit. And even then, Jake missed practices left and right, claiming heaches and stomach pains. Steven, meanwhile, was the captain of his high school team, played on a travel team, and was already looking to play in college.

Why had Jake even agreed to this?

It was weird, but he couldn’t really dig past that question.

Two vastly different players in skill, dedication, and size. Jake was tall for an eleven year old, sure, but he lacked any sort of muscle in his legs, arms, and core. He was just a head shorter than his brother, but Steven was well toned, tanned, and primed for the game.

Which made it all the more pathetic when he nailed a soccer ball at his brother’s face.

There wasn’t any blood, not even a crunch of bone or cartilage, but Jake had felt the impact and it left him sprawled out in front of their makeshift goalpost of two lawnchairs. Steven watched, trying not to smile, as his brother rolled on the ground in pain, the twitching of his lips the only giveaway to his relation to the poor ginger haired kid that he had just hit. Blonde and blue eyed, his hair was soft and wavy, just above his eyes, framing his well-sculpted face and jawline. Not a blemish on his tanned skin; no freckle, no pimple, no scar. His smile, as faint as it was, had the same half-quirked quality that plagued his brothers face. Full of mischief and fun, it lightened the room whenever it appeared. But while the smile always carried up to Jake’s eyes with impish glee, Steven’s smiled ended at his lips. His eyes shined with something else.

Jake opened his eyes, just in time to wince at the yelling. Making his way across the fenced in back yard was a brick of a man. He was six feet and some change, but thickly muscled from years of hard construction work and, soon after, firefighting. He was many shades of red- his close shaved hair, his ruddy skin, his tank top and boxers. Even the curly, dense hair on his arms and legs glinted with that ginger glow. Green eyes glint under the furrowed brow, the hawk-ish nose scrunched up in frustration. His mouth was in a harsh, straight line.

Jake nearly pissed his pants.

His dad didn’t talk much, didn’t speak over a whisper usually. It was both an intimidation tactic born from years of needing to communicate with his hands and as few words possible at work, raising six kids, all of one being insufferable chatterboxes, and the fact that, like Jake and Steven, his mutant abilities stemmed from his voice. Jake had only seen his dad use his powers once, maybe twice in his lifetime at this point. IT was damn scary how he would mimic nearly anyones voice at the drop of a hat, stealing the voice from the owner, leaving them literally speechless.

But this wasn’t someone elses voice- the gruff, sandpaper bark was definitely of his father’s. And he was mad. And, as usually, Jake assumed it was his fault. Everything was- the mess in his room, the below average grades, the constant bickering with his siblings. And here? He should have been focused. The ball hit him because he had been too distracted by an inchworm crawling in the grass, scooching his way to the garden that Felicity McKinley tended with vigor and love each afternoon. And if there was anything that really grinded his dad’s gears, it was when anyone did anything halfway.

So Jake was shocked to see his father make his way to his brother. Jake felt a flash of jealous as his brother did not cower, did not back down from the threat that was on him. Sure, his slight smile melted into a face of neutral annoyance.

“Jake’s just helping me practice.”

Their father gave a soft grunt, looking over to Jake, who was still sprawled across the ground. He took a moment to look over his youngest son, looming over him like some sort of weirdly muscular surgeon. After a couple of moments, he turned back to Steven. “On his own volition?”

With that short sentence, blood drained from Steven’s face, and Jake started to connect the dots. He blinked, suddenly feeling clear-headed for the first time that morning. Memories swam back of Steven pushing him awake, telling him to come practice with him. How all the tiredness and annoyance left his body, how eager he had suddenly become to hang out with his cooler and smarter older brother

Shit.

Jake sat up and glared at Steven. It wasn’t bad enough that he was telekinetic, always showing off his actually useful powers by nonchalantly using his stupid brain to move and retrieve things, putting lego buildings together, cleaning his room from the comfort of his bed. No, God had gifted Steven with a voice activated mind-control that seemed to only get stronger as the years went on.

Stupid.

Jake found his thumb rubbing the ankh on his left bicep. His mother always told him that the symbol of life in Ancient Egyptian had been there since birth, the first mark of his strange-ness. The thing that branded him as a weirdo for the rest of his life. Those symbols had crept all over his body now, dotting his arms and legs, his back, even one or two creeping up on his jaw. Meanwhile, Steven looked completely and utterly normal.

“Jacob.”

Jake blinked at the new, gentler tone, turning his gaze to his father. The brow had relaxed, the square face somehow softer and symapethic. Even more surprisingly, Henry McKinley kneeled down to meet his eyes, both assessing any injury and just checking in on his son. He stayed still for a moment, then said softly “Are you okay, kid?”

Jake nodded slowly, suddenly looking at the floor. He felt Steven glare daggers into his skull, his dad trying to gauge how serious this incident is. But Jake just wanted to go inside and play with his legos. Talk to his sister. Help his mom with breakfast. “I’m fine.”

“Good. Steven-“ Henry McKinley turned to his other son, who was fuming. The hardness was set in his face again “This is the last time. Clean up and get inside. You’re staying home to help watch Penny and Edie.”

“But Dad, I’ve got soccer practice-“

Stevens voice broke when his father made eye contact. Jake would never know if his father put his abilities, taking away his brother’s voice. He wasn’t sure he ever wanted to know. He just watched as his father shot one last glance at his brother and made his way back into the house. Jake slowly stood up, shaking off the ache in his face.

Then Steven turned.

His eyes glinting with malice.

And he spoke the words that haunted Jake from adolescence.

“Why are you hitting yourself, Jake?”

.

.

.

.

.

Jake gasped as his blood spattered the auditorium stage, his fellow scene partners staring in disbelief.

They had spent weeks working on the piece, on perfecting each moment of fight choreography. Through sweat and tears and many thrown away curses, they had worked so hard to bring together their show, Romeo and Juliet. And Jake had thought, if any scene was to kill him, it was the very intense and physical sword fight between his own character, Tybalt, and Mercutio. It contained actual swords, for one, as well as flips and hits and dives. Or even his death scene, where Romeo slayed him with a blunt fencing foil.

But no.

The scene that Jake was actually punched where his nose was broken for the second time in his life, was the first fucking scene.

The first.

Fucking.

Scene.

Jesus, these freshman in this scene were just so pumped to show off, so eager. They did their scene with such vigor, such energy, that even Jake felt like they were a little too much.

Which he loved.

He loved all the theatre kids at his school- they were so extra, so much. They didn’t really care about him being a mutant, or that he was super tall, or even that he was just a lot in the personality department. All the people in that weird theatre kids clique were super accepting, super nice, and super entertaining.

But.

Listen, they were all freshmen once. They all came in, over-acting and indicating and telling not showing, and that was totally okay. He loved the freshmen- from little Janice on crew to the stocky and thick Tyler who had the potential to be the leading man one day.

But Tyler had just accidentally punched him in the face…

Jake blinked in the bright stage lights, the tension from the audience and actors nearly on his tongue from it’s density in the air. Tyler was staring at him, his face a stone but his eyes showing an intense anxiety of screwing up the entire show. In only the first scene.

Aw man.

Jake had to fix this, for sure. And he knew just how.

“Sampson!”

His voice boomed as he thrusted his finger towards the nervous boy. He felt electric, the power rushing through his veins. He had complete control of the situation- if he wanted to end the show early, he could. If he wanted to turn it into an improv comedy, he could. If he wanted to be slain now and spend the rest of the show backstage, he could.

But he couldn’t fuck over his fellow actors in that way.

So instead, he played it very safe. Well, as safe as improvising Shakespeare can be.

“Sampson! Thou odiferous flap-mouthed popinjay! We shalt not square with one another! Let us save the fisticuffs for the tavern. Lest we save our strength to the real battle-“

And with that, he drew the sword that was in his scabbard- bloody faced, murderous glee glinting in his eyes. The other actors stayed still for a moment, before raising their fists and swords. Leaving Kevin, who was playing the Prince, a perfect opening to run in.

Perfect. Jake could not stop grinning, even when his face was no longer covered in makeup and everyone saw him as Jake the mutant and not the passionate and enraged Tybalt.

.

,

,

,

,

Jake opened his eyes with the taste of blood on his tongue. He doesn’t remember much, just searing, unbearable pain starting from his stomach outwards. The sudden change in direction. The cold drop im his gut, the murderous rage in Tobi’s eyes.

The glowing gunk.

Jake couldn’t remember much after that… He had been talking to Agnes? He was outside for sure… So how did he end up back in the car? Slowly, the pain in his stomach returned, but was quickly curbed by the sharp intake of breath in his nose.

He sputters.

He gasps.

“JESUS!” He wheezes, leaning foreward with such vigor that his head bangs on the dashboard, his hair bouncing back while his head stays foreward on the dash. Truthfully, the smack to the head dulled the pain of both injuries, so Jake stayed there for a solid couple of seconds. Thninking. Taking stock.

Where was Tobi?

Shit.

Where WAS Tobi?

He sprung up quickly, looking at the clock on the dashboard. The pale green light read something that he had to blink to check again. Maybe his eyes had been fucked over by whatever the shit knocked him out. Maybe he was hallucinating. Maybe he had gone to limbo and he needed to wake up, and looking at something this insane would wake him up.

The clock read a number five followed by a colon and two ones.

Five eleven.

In the god fucking morning.

“SHIT!” Jake yelled, slamming his fist on the window. He looked out the drivers side, looking for signs of his friend. He hoped that he hadn’t wandered into the snow to be lost forever. Between him and Noelle and Trevor, Jake was starting to wonder if he should just stop being friends with people. If anything happened to his green skinned, orange haired buddy back in town… He shook his head. Stop worrying about it. No use worrying about things that aren’t happening, that shouldn’t be worried about. He had too many things to think about now.

In the snow, he saw a trail of that glowing goo. In the back of his mind, he allowed himself to think the irony of Noelle and Tobi and the fluids they leaked when they freaked the fuck out- bioluminescent and utter darkness. Life was funny like that, he guessed. But Jake followed the trail, which had dripped from the spot where he threw up, around the car to the passanger side. He sat up, and looked at the window.

It was a near white out. Strange for November, but he figured his buddy had something to do with the crazy fucking weather. Always did. But, in the snow, he saw a heap of… someone. Someone big.

Yep.

That’s him.

Jake didn’t even think as he scrambled to grab his dry erase board that had fallen near the pedals beneath the drivers seat. He snatched it, wiping away the previous message with a fervor of a man who was… well, in this situation. There wans’t anything that could match it. His fingers grasped a stray marker and wrote very quickly, very sloppily. It only takes seconds, but when he is done, he pounds on the window. Three times.

“HEY!”

He yelled with all of his energy, but not daring put power behind them. He needed to save that for anything that may happen next, if they needed to continue their search once they discussed what their plan was. He held up the board, hoping that Tobi would move before he opened the door and beat him with his message:


WE NEED TO REGROUP

MY APARTMENT

IM DRIVING

PLEASE DON’T BE DEAD
Sponsored content

Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

Back to top
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum