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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Wed Oct 31, 2018 12:50 pm
Noelle listened to Agnes describe her Halloween, trying to imagine the chaos and fun that she had to have had. Now that she knew what Agnes could look like when she went full-power mode, it was even more fun to picture her giving everyone a real fright. She watches Tobi respond to the questions, her brain firing at the thought of the entire Maynard clan coming in and creating the best Halloween ever. The soft smile returns to her lips, but she focuses it on Tobi as he turned back to her.

“Yeah, I should have… But it’s okay. Next time.” Noelle pauses for a moment. She really did wish she would have done something besides lay in her dorm by herself on one of her favorite holidays. It reminded her way too much of the past- sitting, curled up in bed with a book and no company. She felt her fingers buzz at the thought, making her stare at them for a moment. Even with the gloves on, she knew that the pads of her index and middle finger were leaking. A mild inconvenience, she thinks to herself as she focused on drawing it back in. But her eyes catch Tobi’s hands, breaking her focus for a moment. She watches, understands, and tries to explain the best she could.

“Oh, everything is okay, I think. It’s just-“ Her voice breaks off. Eyes flicking to Jake and Winter. Due to the nature of the issues that her family was having, she wasn’t exactly comfortable with those two knowing. Agnes had been there at family day, she knew her family and how crazy they could be. She knew her sister and how much of a spitfire she was. So, she decided to sign it. She tried to think of a way of describing the glossed over information that her mother had told her on the phone, how she swept it away from Noelle’s thoughts of school and the dining hall. And this was Karen not even knowing about the ink. Finally, Noelle’s long fingers began to move in action.

“I think everything is okay. But, you know Karen. She isn’t one for the negative. Joy’s been getting in trouble with school; boys picking on her and she takes it a little far. She hasn’t been doing her homework. Overall, she’s just struggling with school. Never has really happened before, but I think it’s because my mom has had to take more serving shifts and-“

Her hands falter. Because she wasn’t there to watch her, make sure her homework was done. Guilt hit Noelle in the gut- Joy was struggling because she couldn’t be there for her. And while she never had trouble in school, her sister was completely different. She was independent and not afraid to ask questions, but she wasn’t as willing to be quiet and do her work as Noelle had done. Maybe she needed to call home more, walk through Joy’s homework with her. Or send some of her own money back home to help out a little. Though, she knew Karen Scott would never accept it. But her hands hung in the air during this time, quickly finishing the statement.

“-I think she just needs someone. But it’ll be okay.” She finishes it with a smile “No worries. My mom would be upset if you were worrying about her.”


Jake was sitting, listening to Agnes, completely fascinated by her stories, as vague as they were. So she must have been the crazy, deer-creature from Family Day. The smaller one, not the foggy one. SWEET!

“That sounds like a pretty great Halloween. All I did was stay here and pass out candy. Truthfully, my costume was pretty rad. And while I’ve never been to Mt. Airy, I have been to Shenandoah. I’ve actually made it a point to go to as many state and national parks that I can.” His smile grows for a second “It’s a dumb thing I do. Just get in my car and drive to wherever the road takes me.”

Jake silently was trying to decide if that sounded idiotic or badass, chewing on a piece of bread in thought. He felt pleasantly full, but also took note of what to fix for the next time he made the soup. Less salt, maybe some more spice. It had been good. But, he looked around the table and realized that mostly everyone was done. So, deciding to lean in the gracious host schtick, he grabs any of the empty plates and bowls, taking them to the sink. He was about to turn back and head to the table, but Noelle threw him a scalding look that made him freeze in his steps. Her expression was clear for once “We talked abut this, Jacob.”

Damn scary, that look. Like a teacher. Or, more befitting, a libarian who just caught you stuffing a Reese's wrapper into a book. He turned back to the sink, beginning to wash, shuddering a little. She could be intimidating.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Wed Oct 31, 2018 1:14 pm
Winter smiled as Agnes's leg touched hers. Clearly she had sensed that something was wrong with her and she was doing her best to comfort her. Her face softened as she realized that Agnes liked her. She wasn't quite the type to change flings on a whim. She didn't deserve her but she was eternally grateful that Agnes thought that she was enough so clearly she had to be enough. She let one of her hands fall to her lap as she ate her soup with one hand. Her other hand gently rested on Agnes's knee and stroked her leg slowly with her thumb to show that she did truly appreciate all that Agnes was trying to do.

She did enjoy Agnes describing her Halloween. With abilities like hers, Winter couldn't say that she wouldn't have done the same. "That's both hilarious and amazing. I would love to see you in action like that." She said with a smirk. "You're probably the next best thing after bigfoot." She looked at Tobi to see his reaction to Agnes inviting their monstrously large father to join in on the fun. Now that would be hilarious. She definitely caught a sly look in his gaze. Obviously, Tobi thought the same thing as his sister.

Winter didn't know the meaning of the signs but she caught the gist of it based on Agnes's response. Inviting Tobi along too would make for some hilarious footage if it could be caught on tape that is....

Then the room fell silent as everyone seemed to look at Noelle. Winter quietly continued to eat as she felt out the tension in the air. There was something else going on that she didn't know about. Then Noelle started to sign and she looked down. She didn't know the first thing about sign language. She couldn't even keep up. Based on Noelle's body language, it was something that really bothered her.

She looked at Agnes. "'Sounds like your Halloween was a lot more exciting than mine. I just helped with the safe trick or treat in the dorms. Dressed up like a princess this year. I got my old prom dress from last year, added a tiara and I was set. All the kids loved it." She was actually supposed to do more on Halloween with Sienna but after everything that had happened, she decided that she wasn't going to do too much.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Wed Oct 31, 2018 11:33 pm
“It’s a fun time, tha’s for sure.” She hums as she sips at her new beer. “All y’all come down next year, I’ll see if I can get the rest a’ the family ‘round, we’ll have a blast.”


At Jake’s admittance, Agnes feels herself lean forward towards him. This was something she could get on board with. It’s interesting what he does, feels pretty similar to what she does, though she normally only visits Tobi when the traveling mood hits. Her parents moved in response to their problems, Tobi would run if he wasn’t tied so strong to one place, and Agnes too felt the need for travel, for adventure. She had never ventured further than their little slice of the East coast, but maybe someday…


Sharp eyes look curiously at Jake as he leaves to go wash the dishes. She’d have to ask him more about it later.


“Ah yeah?” Agnes turns to Winter as the girl describes her Halloween. It’s a cute image, Winter as a princess, surrounded by a bunch of little kids in costume. “Wish I could’a seen it, betch’a looked a sight.” Her grin turns a little cunning, though her eyes as she looks over at the shorter girl are the picture of innocence. “No prince t’sweep y’off y’feet?”


Tobi watches Noelle sign her worries. It seemed like a lot, dealing with a kid that just learned they were a mutant all by yourself. He knew Karen was a force, could handle anything thrown her way, but still. Seemed like a lot, especially considering the tension rolling around the whole issue right now. People could be jerks, and little kids, though he loved them, could be merciless to those they deemed as different. He remembered his own years in highschool with Agnes after their parents had left for their new home. Shit was rough.

At the last addition though, he gives a small smile. ‘Wouldn’t want t’upset her.’ He signs back. ‘Serious tho, if there anythin’ we can do, let one a’us know. We down there quicker n’ anythin’. Up, I ‘spose in this case.” He shrugs. His offer carries weight; he knows his family would do anything for Noelle’s. That at least had been pretty evident family day. Tobi knows Agnes caught at least a bit of that; her answering nod of the head is all he needs.


She’d help her little buddy in a heartbeat.


Something from the kitchen, something with an amazing smell, distracts him from the current conversation. Across the table, he sees Agnes suddenly sniff the air much in the same way he had. There’s something in the kitchen. He had seen Jake head back into it a little while ago with some plates. He can only imagine what the boy’s doing now, but if it’s what he thinks it is, Tobi and his twin are about to be very happy people.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Thu Nov 01, 2018 12:19 am
Noelle smiles at Tobi, speaking out loud again “Okay. Thank you, I’ll let her know.”

She wasn’t lying- Noelle had been the one that always sponged up the stress back home, the one that worried and would be wrung out by her mother. But now, there was no sponge, and all the stress and worries and troubles were being dealt with separately. And Noelle had Tobi now to keep her grounded, to keep her tethered from the hypotheticals. But Karen- she had friends, but none of them really knew what she was going through. And while Karen would drop anything for them, she was very much an outsider in any of her groups. And Joy never made anything easy. Noelle hoped her mother would take up the offer.

But those thoughts and worries leave her mind as she sees Tobi catch the scent of the next surprise. Noelle and Jake had spent the afternoon together, inbetween classes and meetings, baking and working together. Jake on the actual creating, Noelle with the details and cleaning. She watches, eyes almost matching her redheaded friends signature glint, as the boy passed out clean plates and forks. She turns the grin to Tobi, which is all too knowing. She hope she had done right for him.

Jake brings over a ceramic plate covered with a gingham dishtowel, his grin the biggest it has been. She noticed Agnes leaning into him while he talked about his trips. Jake didn’t want to assume anything, especially about the woman in front of him. He had a strong gut feeling that she could flip him like a coin in he drove her to annoyance. But she seemed interested in it. Maybe, one day, he could ask her to come with. A fun, random roadtrip! It was how he had bonded with her twin, after all.

Maybe he would skip punching trees this time.

He sees her reaction to the smell of what was under the plate and he smiles. With one hand, he pulls off the top towel and reveals an impressive looking blackberry pie. The twins were right- it smelled amazing. Jake had gotten the recipe from his mother after Noelle told him that cake was a no go. His younger sister didn’t really like cake either, and he just went through the past pastries and goodies they had made for her, picking the one that seemed the most “Tobi”. When they eventually cut it open, the crust would be baked to perfection, the filling in perfect proportion to it. Just the right amount of sweet and tart. Jake was proud.

But he was more proud of the top crust that Noelle had slaved over.

The meticulous lattice work had been arranged in braided leaves that circled the outer crust, detailed to look like the leaves freshly fallen from maple and birch trees that dotted campus. Small, impossibly detailed vines and branches curl under and over the leaves, framing the center piece of diamond lattice work. Some lines were plain, others were braided, a couple were dotted. The care and attention to the delicate features that made it just for their guest of honor.

Well, now guests.

But Jake didn’t mind. The more people that were happy and eating and not worrying about stupid school bullshit, the more satisfied he was.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Thu Nov 01, 2018 8:40 am
Winter smiled at Agnes as she seemed fascinated by Jake's story of traveling. As much as she kinda resented the extra attention Jake got, she couldn't help but love her smile. She couldn't be jealous when Agnes looked so happy. She seemed to want to hear more but Jake walked away. This kit an opening for her.

At the prince comment, Winter grinned. "Not a prince but a warrior princess might have.' she winked at her. She knew that Agnes wasn't as innocent as her eyes made her look. She loved that about her. "I have pictures of it. One of my floormates were taking pictures of everything. I show them to you later. I did look really good."

She grinned at Agnes before smelling something amazing. She looked to Jake as he walked back to the table. She caught a whiff of the pie and her eyes widened. Good Lord, it smelled and looked amazing! "You made that? Man, I bet it tastes as good as it look and smells!" She exclaimed. "Is it.... Blackberry?" She asked him. She looked more at the intricate top. There was no way Jake could have made that. It had to be.... She looked at Noelle and how proud she looked. "Noelle? You did an amazing job decorating it."


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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Thu Nov 01, 2018 11:11 am
“Warrior princess, huh?” It’s a cute description, makes Agnes smile. “Oh I can certainly do more than sweep you off your feet.” She murmurs low towards the other girl, very aware of the hand on her leg. “Should show me,” she says again, this time louder. “Can’t wait to see.” It’s then that she’s distracted by the pie.

Tobi and Agnes both lean out of their chairs and over the table to get a better look at the pie. It was a thing of beauty: heaps of fresh blackberry’s baked into a golden flakey crust, covered in intricate designs. Those alone must have taken some time by a steady hand, so Agnes would probably count Jake out of that. Had to be Noelle then. Sharp eyes look up to the girl and yup, there’s that same satisfied look there that Jake has.

She must have been the one to let Jake know about their eating habits too. Fruit pies were some of the only desert foods they liked; they lacked the cloying sweetness of other desserts, weren’t too rich, and had a tart bite to them, at least when done right. And boy, even from here, she can tell this one was done right. Mounds of inky dark blackberries, she can’t get over the look and smell of them. Just like the piles of them the twins would bring back after a day in the mountains; they’d let them cascade out onto their kitchen counter from wherever they had stored them in offering to their mother. God, their Ma loved blackberries.

Tobi looks back at Noelle with surprise in his eyes, as if asking if this really was for them. If all the effort in that pie had just been for him and now Agnes. It’s overwhelming, it’s incredible, it’s…

His hands move in a flurry towards Jake and Noelle. ‘I can’t…’ a pause. ‘Y’all sure you wanna cut that, I mean it looks a picture an’ I don’ wanna ruin it.’ Agnes huffs out a laugh at the words, but she kind of agrees. As good as it smells and as much as her mouth is watering for a slice of that, she’s worried about cutting into the gorgeous top.

It’s silly, honestly, she thinks as her hand reaches forward to snag an exposed blackberry. One sharp smack from her twin’s calloused hand beats her before she can though. Her sharp grin answers Tobi’s chiding glare; brother really was about them manners when his girl was involved.


“The lawd made pies f’r eatin’, Tobi. E’en the good lookin’ ones.’


‘Still.’ His glare pins her. ‘Y’all can wait, ya o’ergrown…’ the word that follows is unrecognizable to anyone else but Agnes, presumably a cuss that the two of them invented a sign for. Agnes answers back in her own series of unrecognizable signs, to which Tobi laughs at. It’s a deep rumble from down low in his chest.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Thu Nov 01, 2018 12:52 pm
Noelle was near rhapsodic in her pleased expression as Tobi and Agnes leaned forward to the sight of the pie. She had spent so much time placing each leaf, each line to make it look just right. To have the moment just right- perfect.

And it was.

She gives a wide smile, something that everyone at the table, except Tobi, had never really seen. Her eyes track the movement of his hands, his exchange with his sister, who looked like she was about to swallow the dessert whole any moment now. Then, the two of them started signing in a way that Noelle could not understand at all- her expression changes fractionally, quizzical in nature. But not distressed. “You’re sister is right. It’s a pie. It’s meant to be eaten.”

At those words, Jake stepped forward holding a small serrated knife, sinking it past the top crust, into the filling. He repeats, then carefully picks up the piece and places it on Tobi’s plate. The smell wafted up to Noelle’s nose, making her own mouth water. Despite being a dingus, Jake was one of the best cooks/bakers she had ever met. Her mom was still at the top, but there was something completely homey and unique about the flavors that Jake packed, the textures he was able to create. It was too bad that he didn’t really use those talents to good use. He was a Journalism Major, Noelle knew that much from the joint English classes they took. But he wasn’t really gifted as a writer- he was average. But this… This was talent. She began to wonder why he didn’t pursue this.

“Alright kids, eat up. I’ll save you from my singing. Consider it part of your present.” Jake winked at Tobi, as he began to dole out pieces to Noelle and Winter. And then finally, himself. He placed the half-full pan at the center of the table, licking his lips. Then, with scarred fingers, her plucked one of the carefully crafted crusted leaves and bit into it, judging the crust. Evenly baked, a little crispy. He decided he was satisfied, and he picked up a fork, taking a third of the pie into his mouth. He tastes, chews and swallows, smiling to himself slightly. Wasn’t perfect, but the twins looked happy. That’s what mattered.

Speaking of which.

“Alright, you two. You got presents. And even though Agnes’ presence was… unexpected for some.” He shoots an accusatory look at Noelle, but it doesn’t really meet his eyes. She knew it was a joke and rolled her eyes. “It looks like you got a couple presents too. Here. I got it.”

Noelle watched as Jake stood up and started to bring the presents over. She almost laughed when he tried to pick up both of her mother’s presents, but struggled to even remove them from the floor. After a few moments of unsuccessful grunting and grasping, he eventually just started to slide them over, then going to his own gift bag and Winter’s gift. Noelle looked at the flaps of the cardboard boxes her mother sent- they had been decorated by Joy again, and while there will still trees plastered on the sides, she also drew balloons and little birthday cakes. Uneven but bouncy bubble letters read “HAPPY BIRTHDAY TOBI!” on one, the other “HAPPY BIRTHDAY AGNES!”.

Next to them were two, modest boxes. They were both cubed, about a foot tall. One was wrapped in paper that looked like red flannel finished off with green ribbon and a bow. The other was navy blue, plain, with a thicker grey ribbon than the other. Noelle looked at Jake as he placed his gift bag next to the boxes, grinning at her. In return, Noelle took a small piece of pie in her mouth, savoring the taste. She avoided Tobi’s eyes, out of embarrassment and excitement for the next part of the night to unfold. Much like the pie crust, the present she prepared took a lot of time, a lot of detail. It was something she had worked on since they got back, scouring thrift stores for supplies. Of course she knitted sweaters for both of them, and Agnes’ gift was thoughtful, but Tobi’s… It was special to her. She really hoped he liked it as much as she did.

Jake seated himself, his heart in his stomach. He was doing his best to hide it, but he was so humiliated by the display he had just shown- He knew he was a weakling, but in front of Agnes? He felt like a fool. At least with Tobi, what Jake lacked in physical prowess he made up in charm. But Agnes was strong AND charming AND funny AND beautiful. Maybe he would ask Tobi to help him work out? Jake almost shuddered at the thought. But he would do it. For Agnes.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Thu Nov 01, 2018 3:55 pm
Winter smiled at Agnes as Agnes clearly liked her description of her as a "warrior princess". She blushed ever so slightly when she said that she could do more than sweep her off her feet. She had no doubts about that. Agnes could tell her to jump and she would most likely ask how high. The fact that she flirted with her in such a low voice got to her too. Butterflies were having a party in her stomach right now and she loved it. She smiled. "Sure. I'll sure you that and more after the party." She said before allowing Agnes to get distracted by the amazing pie.

Winter watched amused as the twins gush over the pie. Agnes even tried to snag a blackberry before Tobi stopped her. She couldn't help but to giggle at the siblings as Agnes clearly was defending her choice and Tobi was more than likely chiding her goodnaturedly. Watching them interact made her almost miss her own brothers... almost.

She waited patiently for Jake to serve her a piece of the wonderful smelling birthday pie. She took a bit and good lord! It was amazing! Her face brightened as she took two more quick bites of it. "My god! Jake! This is amazing! You sure you don't want to become a chef or a baker as a career cause this is pure and raw talent here." She said before stuffing another bite into her mouth. Combined with the good food and even better dessert, Winter promised herself that she would make Jake cook for her more often. She would even pay him if need be.

Then it was present time. Winter hid a smirk as Jake tried to pick up both boxes. Just the one was heavy enough. She was amazed that Noelle had managed to carry them both up here. THen again... she was probably used to the weight of her mother's gifts. She smiled as she watched the twins open their gifts. She had only gotten an ornate pocket knife for Tobi. She wished that she had known that Agnes was coming. Granted... if they were able to sneak out later, she could give her a gift then. She gently stroked Agnes's knee. "I'll give you your gift later." She said in a low voice and a wink. She then looked up at Tobi, waiting for him to start opening his presents.

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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Thu Nov 01, 2018 9:55 pm
Tobi nearly winces as they cut into the pie. Sure it was a shame that they had to cut into it, but when Jake hands him a plate full of inky purple pie covered in little flaky pastry leaves, well. It’s for a just cause. His fork sinks easily into the desert, breaking into the soft baked fruit filling. He takes a bite. There’s just a brief flash of hesitance like this pie will somehow not live up to the massive expectations he’s set for it, but as the flavors settle on his tongue, his eyes go wide.


Hell yes.


Agnes seems to have the same thought he does. The twins both spear into their pie with almost a starved fervor. Bit by bit, their pieces disappear by the forkful. Tobi’s previous hesitation has been long forgotten in favor of shoveling the carefully crafted leaves and lattice into his mouth. They both finish at almost the same time; Tobi’s fingers flick back and forth in the only gesture Jake seems to recognize, ‘thank you’, while Agnes leans back again in her chair.

“Jake,’ she starts. “I swear if all y’all gave me were the rest a’ that pie, this would be a pretty solid birthday. That pie were somethin’ else.” Tobi signs at her, something insistent as he pushes his plate in front of him. Whatever it was, she disagrees, glaring across the table at him and pointing an accusatory finger. “You hush, Maynard, that pie is mine. I drove six hours for you.” Tobi signs something again, but she just glares. “I’ll put you on the goddamn ground for this pie, you know I will.”

Jake speaks again, and both the twins look away from their dispute in near unison to watch Jake drag the larger boxes Noelle had brought in towards the table. Tobi knew Jake was a twig, but damn. Poor kids couldn’t even lift a box. He leans over to Noelle, signs a few covert words under the table.

‘You think we should help or…’ he lets it drop as Jake gets closer. Let the kid have his pride, he guesses, even if it isn’t much. His eyes roam over the boxes as they get closer and he smiles. Joy obviously had a hand in these. They’re covered in little trees, her own joke for him, and a child’s happy bubble letters. Agnes’s own eyes soften at the sight; she hopes her little buddy is doing okay. After that whole mess at family day, she seemed shaken up. She had also caught bits of Noelle’s conversation with Tobi. Mutant powers were cool, but a little less so when people used it as an excuse to treat you different. Kid’s a kid too, their age can be rough.

Her thoughts are interrupted as Winter runs her hand over her knee. Oh, so that’s the game, huh? Agnes smirks. ‘I’m looking forward to it.” She murmurs back, soft and sultry, low enough that the others can’t hear. It’s an enjoyable promise, one that sits so nice next to her; pity there’s no bow. She rises then, hyperaware of the hand slipping off her knee, to join her brother at the boxes.

Calloused hands tear the tape covering the larger cardboard boxes. Agnes flicks a sharp nail underneath hers and tugs along the line of tape while Tobi and his blunt nails pull the flaps apart by force. A moment later, they look inside at the contents.


Tobi knows about Karen and her gift giving habits, but Agnes doesn’t. Hearing her softly swear under her breath at the contents inside is just another highlight of the night.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Thu Nov 01, 2018 11:24 pm
Jake turns away from Winter at her comment "Oh. Nah. I'm not about that life. I like cooking for other people, like my friends. Not for strangers. Unless, you know, they were friends of friends."

He didn't really like people trying to push him in a direction. It came with growing up in a big family. Steven- The Golden Boy. Frederic- The Dreamer. And Jake- The Goof. Everyone tried to push him into a box, to make his life nice and neat and with a discernable path for which he could complete his journey. But Jake didn't really want to think about the completion- it was about the journey and the stupid steps he made on that path and who he met while traveling. It's why he liked his little escape weekends- he saw so many awesome things that he would have never expected.

The boxes, as to be expected were jam-packed with many gifts, many of which stuffed into the crevices others. And much like groceries, the softer things were on the top. Starting with two, thickly knit blankets that were soft as sin to the touch, tight stitches holding it together. On their own, they were warm and soft. Underneath one of Tobi’s thick quilts, these suckers would trap heat like nobodies business. Noelle’s mother called them plug-free heated blankets, and they brought her pleasant memories of being sick as a child, wrapped up tightly in a cocoon of the well-made blankets. Underneath was same-quality knitted scarves, gloves, hats, and many pairs of socks, all squished between the other, more solid gifts.

After that, there were Tupperware and Ziploc bags filled with all sort of savory, homemade treats- pretzels, pita chips, granola bars, nut mixes, crackers, jerky, and, of course, hummus. Along with those are two loaves of bread each, both wrapped in twin and parchment paper. Next were the hand-sculpted soaps, giving the entire box a faint lavender scent. There were also homemade rice packs of varying sizes- some the size of pocket hand warmers, others large enough to cover Tobi’s shoulders with ease. While Noelle hadn't clued her mother into everything, she saw the news. And the papers. And Karen knew that this motley crew was probably stressed out of their minds.

After that are the jars.
They contain many different things. Each twin receives a jar of oats, but also a sugar scrub labeled “FOR BODY ONLY. PLEASE DON’T CONSUME :-)”, and two candles each, the scents varying from sandalwood to lemon to balsa wood. Then, about a half dozen in each were jars of jams, preserves, and various fruit and nut butters, all labeled in their mason jars. From dark boysenberry to bright strawberry to a golden apple butter. Each appetizing, each delicious and well made.

And still underneath was a moleskin notebook, a pack of all natural pencils, and a handwritten note from Karen and Joy, giving thanks and lauding each of the twins for their bravery, strength, and perseverance. How they were always welcome to their home, how Joy missed them so so so much. In Agnes’ letter, Joy asks when they will see each other again and wants to show her some tricks with her quills. In Tobi’s, Karen thanks him for being a constant in all of their lives, that Noelle has grown so much with him and how happy it made her to see her daughter genuinely happy.

Jake gives a low whistle “Damn Noelle. Your mom beat us all, I think.”

Noelle shrugs, smiling gently. She knew that more was homemade than what was given to Tobi when he first met Karen. And while she would claim it was to the taste of the birthday twins, Noelle knew that her mother couldn’t really afford to go out and buy laundry detergent and phone chargers and such. Noelle also knew that while her mother was dealing with Joy and school, her two jobs, and her volunteer schedule, she had spent late nights and early mornings to prepare these gifts. The blankets, while soft and well-kept, had sat in their closet for years. But Noelle didn’t tell anyone this. She kept her mother’s secret to herself.

"Can you tell your mom my birthday is in March? And that I, too, like various foods?" Jake laughs, leaning back to digest. Without skipping a beat, Noelle swats his arms without even looking. He winces and rubs the spot "Jeeze... Sorry."
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Thu Nov 01, 2018 11:38 pm
Winter smiled as the Maynard twins devoured their slices of pie. To be fair, she had to agree with Agnes's assessment of the pie. It was indeed a worthy present. Even if it was from Jake. Though, her reaction to her promise of a gift was a clear sign that Agnes liked her more than the fiery red head. Petty, yes. But it made her smile all the same.

She was a bit surprised as Jake brushed off her comment about his possible career in food arts. She raised an eyebrow but let it drop. He would be good at it. Really good in fact but she wouldn't push it at all. It was present time after all. Maybe some other time, she would talk to him about it. And possibly to back off from Agnes. Maybe. She was getting possessive again.

Winter watched as the twins unpacked their gifts. Her eyes widened at the creative and thoughtful gifts her mother got them. She gave a low whistle. "Damn. Jake's right. You should've had them open those last. They just put my gift to shame." She said with a grin. "Your mom must be amazing, Noelle."

When Jake casually mentioned his birthday and received a slap on the arm from Noelle, Winter grinned before laughing. "Serves you right, Jake. Let the twins enjoy their day. Your birthday will be here soon enough. Besides... We have to get through mine first." She said with a smirk.

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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Fri Nov 02, 2018 12:47 pm
Jake rolls his eyes at Winter, still smiling “Of course we’ll get to your birthday first. But I’m just putting it out there, that if your mom-“ His gaze shifts to Noelle “- wanted to get me a present, I really like food and blankets too.”

He ignores the scalding look Noelle decided to throw his way. But Jake took it without worry. He actually had seen Noelle’s mom before- she seemed awesome. At family day, she sat with Trevor when he got slammed in the face at their dodgeball game. When Jake had asked Trevor what they talked about, he blushed, saying that she asked him about his life, his major. Where he came from. His family. Asked about Jake, how they had known each other. She seemed really awesome. A really cool mom, the type of mom who was there for you, no matter what. It made Jake a little heartsick for his own mom. He hadn’t talked to her in a while. He needed to call her.

He leans back, his eyes now fixed on Tobi, his smile still intact “I’m going to have to give your sister this one. Sorry man. BUT you’ve got the advantage of having my skills at your disposal. Anytime, you want a pie, I’ll bake a pie. Any kind you want, too.”

He grins, taking another bite of his pie. Noelle rolled her eye and signs quickly, looking at Tobi, smiling slightly “What a doofus.”
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Sat Nov 03, 2018 2:00 am
Tobi and Agnes each reach into the boxes. Tobi pulls out one of the top blankets, pausing in his exploration to wrap it around his shoulders. The knit was incredibly soft, almost sinfully so, and thick enough to trap the heat that rolled off the densely built man. In nearly a minute, he was toasty warm under the blanket, almost enough to prompt a content, cozy smile. Worn hands root through what’s underneath: more crunchy snacks, breads, and that same savory paste that had been in his first package. He sees Agnes take out her matching container and hold it up to inspect.


‘Hummus,’ Tobi signs to her before taking the container and peeling off the lid. His fingers reach for one of his Ziploc bags and takes out one of the pita chips. It goes in the thick chickpea spread to scoop up a bit of it before he offers the end result to Agnes. The look on her face as she tastes the snack is pretty close to how he had felt the first time he had.


“Hummus, huh?” she considers. Not bad. What’s really interesting her are these jams. So many jars, all packed in tight together. Every time she picks up one, another falls to take its place; there’s one of nearly every fruit she’s heard of and then some. Thank god for all this food, she was really running low back at her house. It’s the letter at the bottom though that gets her, gets them both. Tobi reads over the handwritten words, words written by Karen’s own hands, thanking him for being there, for being wither daughter. Agnes is skimming over the childish scrawl that Joy had written her, how she wants to see the larger girl again. She’s glad she’s doing better. If that kid wants to learn some tricks, though, she knows a guy. Her Pa’ll have to come visit with her next time she sees her little buddy.


“This is real sweet, Noelle. Tell y’fam thanks f’me.” Tobi signs his gratitude even as his sister speaks. “ I jus’, this were so nice. I jus’” she runs a hand through her mohawk in a move reminiscent of her brother’s nervous tic. “It’s a lot.” The laugh that bubbles up is just a bit overwhelmed, a bit in disbelief.


Tobi understands. He grabs the blanket from the top her box and wraps it around her shoulders. A knowing pat on the shoulder, and he leaves her to reach for one of the other boxes. He catches Noelle’s signs right before he’s about to rip one of them open.


‘Doofus,’ he smiles. Jake might be an idiot, but he’s a well meaning idiot.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Sat Nov 03, 2018 1:00 pm
“My mom can be a lot… But she’s really happy both of you have come into our lives.” Noelle gives a small smile. It’s fond and grateful for her small friend group, how they had accepted her of their own, and vice versa.

Jake begins to slide his gift bag and Winter’s present to Tobi. He sees a familiar sign- Noelle had pointed at him earlier and used it. And he saw her make it a couple times, instinctively. He tilts his head “Noelle? What does that mean?”

Noelle watches as he makes the sign that Tobi just repeated back to her. Initially, she felt bad. Jake was her friend, someone she trusted. But at the same time, they gave each other so much shit. And so, Noelle took a golden opportunity. So she answered before Agnes could “Oh. Well, it’s just another way to say your name, Jake. Instead of having to spell it out, it’s just a simplified version.”

Jake blinked and gave a wide smile “Oh, cool! So I can introduce myself as-“ He pauses, his hands stumbling but clearly signing “I am Doofus”

Noelle nods, biting back a smile, avoiding Tobi’s eyes. It was almost as if she was stifling a laugh “Yeah, you’re right. Good job.”

Noelle watched as Jake puffed up, pleased with himself. She reminded herself that she would reveal her trick later on, that it would be harmless in the long run. That this wasn’t out of malice, but out of fondness. Noelle flicks mischievous eyes at Agnes as she passes her own present to her- the plaid patterned box. Inside the wrapped box was a pair of leather combat boots. They were purchased at a thrift store, but Noelle had done everything to shine, polish, and make them as new as possible. Underneath was a knit sweater- a deep, dark maroon, same tight stitches as the blanket. Noelle had eye-balled her measurements, but they were completely accurate. There was also a handmade chew toy in the shape of a little deer for sunshine from Joy that Noelle added to her gifts, crediting her in the short note that she had written.

Jake nods at the gift bag, that was his, and the forest green box from Winter. In his gift bag was some assorted feathers he had found on his past two, albeit short, road trips to various spots since the three of them went to Pennsylvania. Each different. Some colorful, some neutral. Some long, others short. Soft and stiff. Fluffy and bare. Many different birds, many different stories. Also in the bag was a cool looking desk lamp that had a snowy mountain scene painted on the vase. The shade was off-white and slightly stained, but Jake thought it was too neat to pass up. As Tobi and Agnes opened their next round of presents, he stood and began to clean up the pie plates and pouring the soup and placing the pie into some separate Tupperware. Once he was done cleaning up (quickly, but Noelle was too distracted holding onto Tobi’s arm to scold him), he grabbed a couple more beers, as well as some of the hard liquor, and brings it back to the table.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Sat Nov 03, 2018 4:32 pm
Winter smirked as Jake tried to defend himself. She let him get away with it. This time. He was doing his best. She stifled a laugh as Jake scolded Tobi regarding the pie. "Agnes did call dibs first, man. This is a first come, first serve sort of pie" She decided to add to the conversation as she caught Noelle signing at Tobi with a quick glance at Tobi. Clearly, she was making a teasing remark about Jake to him. She really, really needed to start learning sign language. She hated being out of the know.

She smiled as the twins explored their gifts, various food stuff and blankets. NOelle's mom sure knew how to give care packages. She was impressed. All she got was laundry detergent and ramen noodles. And she didn't even like ramen noodles all that much! Just seeing the happy and content looks on the twins faces made her smile. Agnes almost seemed overwhelmed by the entire thing. She giggled to herself.

"Looks like you guys hit the jackpot." She said as Tobi wrapped a blanket around his sister's shoulders. WInter patted her knee again and let her hand rest there. "You deserve it. Noelle's family really appreciate all youve done for them and her." She said softly. "You're an amazing person."

She looked up as Jake asked Noelle what the sign meant that she had used. She thought for a bit as Jake used it. She knew that most of the time, to shorten names, they would just use the first letter in said name. That sign was definitely not a J. From the looks that the twins and Noelle tried to hide, it clearly wasn't a shortened version of his name either. Winter smirked to herself. THere was a joke here and she was not quite getting it but she didn't want to ruin it by asking.

Winter leaned back in her chair as Jake cleared the rest of the table. WInter had finished her first drink and grabbed one of the beers he had left on the table. She opened it and took a sip. IT wasn't her favorite but she could deal. That familiar warm feeling was coursing through her body and her cheeks started to flush on her third sip. Winter realized a little too late that she was actually a light weight.... Very light weight. Well... shit. She was bound to embarrass herself eventually.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Sun Nov 04, 2018 1:24 am
Agnes catches Noelle’s almost grin and smiles to herself. She gets the game, stays quiet, and throws a quick gesture to her brother not to say anything. If she wanted to be a little shit, more power to her. She finishes off her beer in a couple strong pulls; her throat bobs as she swallows half the bottle in her hand. She's very aware of the hand on her leg, and very appreciative of Winter's comments. She smiles at the girl underneath her new blanket before turning her focus towards Jake.

“It’s perfect.” She grins sharp in response to Jake’s sign. The sight was honestly a little cute, kid must be trying to learn for Tobi. The man in question catches Jake’s questioning look. Slowly, he lifts both his hands in a thumbs up; Jake positively beams. Tobi can’t help it, he smiles a small smile back and for a moment, his eyes feel a little less dark. He can’t help it, Jake’s joy is nearly infectious.

Like the plague, he thinks before tearing open the wrapping on Winter’s gift. It’s a gorgeous knife, glinting silver and so damn practical. His fingers twirl the thing around deftly as he tests the balance of it, the weight, the feel. All of it feels pretty darn good. His fingers come to his chin in the same recognizable motion he’s made at nearly everyone tonight: “thank you.”

Next to him, Agnes sinks a sharp nail into the crease of the present wrappings. The paper’s almost too thick; it bends instead of breaking. Tobi flips her his new knife effortlessly, handle facing towards her which she takes. The blade traces light along the bindings, slicing through like butter, until she’s able to pop the top on the box. Her rough fingers pulls out the boots with a sharp smile.

“Aww, shit, bean, these’re hell on earth.” She says as she pulls out the worn leather. Effort definitely went into these to get them where they were now. They seemed old, but well taken care of and still very usable for plenty more years. She sets them aside to pick up the sweater. A beautiful soft thing made in a cozy stitch; it’s a lovely present. She works the material between her fingers to feel the stitches there, takes in the color and the thickness of the sweater. Girl sure knew what she liked, Agnes thinks with a softer smile.

Tobi opens Jake’s bag last in this round of presents. The noise he makes as he looks inside is one of surprise, of birds fluttering from their spot in the trees after a particularly loud noise. His hands gesture towards Agnes even as he holds out the bag for her to inspect. There’s a sharp intake of air from Agnes as she peers over the rim of the bag to look inside.


Feathers. So many feathers in every shape and size.


Big ones, little ones, different colors and shapes, but all of them neat. Agnes and Tobi pull them out one by one to marvel at them and consider them in the light. They’re turned this way and that before being sorted into favorites and not favorites, but still neat. Tobi pulls out the lamp even as his sister is cooing over the feathers still and asking if she could send some to their Ma, how she’d appreciate them. The lamp is a pleasant surprise. A cute scene has been painted on the vase and while the shade was a little rough, he wasn’t about to complain; he needed another light in his room.


His fingers raise again to his chin. ‘Thank you,’ he signs. After a pause, he starts again.


“Thank you, Doofus.”
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Sun Nov 04, 2018 1:05 am
Noelle watches in delight as Tobi and Agnes go through their gifts. When Tobi starts with Winter’s present, she drains the rest of her drink, beginning to pour another one. It was a cool knife and obviously passed Tobi’s standards. She curled up her knees to her chin, watching as Agnes open her present. She had to admit that she was nervous- this was the first time she had gotten the other twin a present. And while Noelle had a pretty good idea what Tobi would want, Agnes was a little less easy. But when she looked back up at her, Noelle smiled. She had made a good choice. “Oh, it’s nothing… Happy Birthday, Agnes.”

When they looked into Jake’s present, the softest smile plays her lips. Watching the two of them become fascinated over something as simple as feathers really brought some light into the room. They sorted through them as Noelle sipped her drink, smiling at Jake. She flashes a thumbs up and a small smile, and he beamed back at her. When Tobi signs at him, he’s practically glowing. “It’s no problem man! Was out in Maryland last weekend and saw some cool ones on the way up.”

“What’s in Maryland?” Noelle turned to the redheaded boy. She knew that he kind of just went wherever the wind blew him. But still. It was like a four-hour drive. And she assumed he did it alone, as he didn’t really have any other close friends.

“A lot of things, for your information. Edgar Allen Poe’s grave? That was pretty cool. And Dr. Gloom’s Crypt of Curiosities? I saw a Fiji mermaid, so…”

“Those aren’t really mermaids. It’s a monkey and a fish that have been sewn together.” Noelle rolls her eyes as she says this.

“I know!” Jake bites back, grinning “But still. It was cool. You’re just mad that I didn’t invite you.”

Noelle shakes her head, her eyes meeting Tobi’s in a moment of half annoyance, half amusement. As much as she and Jake had this bickering thing down to pat, she really did appreciate him. Appreciated his kindness and his caring nature. How he dropped everything to help Noelle plan this little get together and dealt with her going crazy about cleaning up the space and talking about the menu for the meals. She needed to tell him that she appreciated him more.

But not today.

Noelle looks at the last gift- the navy blue wrapped box with the thick grey ribbon. She had agonized what to get Tobi since her own birthday. She had devoured that box of used books, appreciating each one of them. Their content, their history, their stories. It was such a perfect gift and she had no clue how to match it. But it came to her.

Really, she knew she was going to make a sweater. A really nice one, a dark blue one that fit him for warmth. And, although she wouldn't admit it to ANYONE, for his form. She worked on that since he received his last sweater, any spare time was used to construct it. But it wasn't until a trip to a local thrift store where she had the idea for the main part of the present. There was a vintage, large fish bowl for only five dollars and the gears in her head spun like crazy. She bought the fishbowl and carried it back to her dorm and got to work. She filled the bottom with dirt and gravel. Then, she went to a local garden center and got the smallest and most delicate Norfolk Island pines. She lined the bowl with them then placing some real moss and small succulents that looked like bushes, creating a clearing identical to the one in Pennsylvania. Identical in the sense that, somehow, she had planted a smaller version of the long grass, the rocks that dotted the treeline. She found a miniature replica of Jake’s van and banged it up, pressing tracks gently to the grass. She even made small, autumnal colored leaves from ones she found on campus that had already fallen, dotting the edges with colors

Each stone, each branch, each flower was placed where it needed to be.

Because she knew he would notice.

She knew winter was coming. And, based on the things that he loved, Tobi had a preference for the seasons where things were still alive. Still breathing. So, she worked on creating this terrarium, to keep him company. To remind him of their time in that clearing, to give him hope for spring. To remind him of the light in the dark. How, even with the world falling around them, they had found something.

She hoped he liked it. That he would understand. Of course, she had one other thing she wanted to give him. But it was something she wanted to wait for in a moment of privacy. Noelle didn’t watch as he opened the present. She was too nervous. Instead, she focused on the drink, staring at it intently, blush rising to her cheeks rapidly.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Sun Nov 04, 2018 8:58 am
Winter grinned at Agnes, her face flushed, as Agnes smiled at her. She took a couple more sips of her beer as her other hand lazily stroked her leg. She wasn't even quite aware of what she was doing with her hand. It just seemed natural. She watched attentively as Tobi opened her present. She was a bit worried that he wouldn't like it but as he tested it out, her face broke out into a proud grin. It seemed to have passed the test. She recognized the thank you sign and she smiled. "You're very welcome Tobi. You're not easy to buy for. Figured you would at least use a knife."

Winter watched as Tobi offered the knife to Agnes to use and it worked like a charm. She was so damn proud that Agnes was able to use the knife as well. She took another sip of her drink as she thought that she needed to slow down a bit. That thought disappeared when Agnes pulled out the boots. Damn. Those are nice! She thought to herself as the other girl inspected them. Winter looked up at Noelle, she seemed proud of herself and she should be. As Agnes was inspecting the boots, Tobi moved onto Jake's present.

Her eyes widened at all the different feathers and then the lamp itself. "Damn Jake. That must have taken you forever to gather up all those feathers." The twins seemed more fascinated by the feathers than the lamp itself. Figures.... But it was endearing. She smiled softly. The Maynard twins enjoyed the simple things in life.

She was pulled away from watching the twins as Jake described his trip to Maryland. Now that is a bit far for a weekend jaunt. She raised an eyebrow and listened. Before smirking at the banter Noelle and Jake had. "I for one, think that it sounds like you had fun. The Fiji mermaid sounds like it was cool." She said with a smirk. "And you obviously enjoyed yourself."

She looked at the presents and realized that there was just one left. It was Noelle's to Tobi. Now this had to be sweet. She just knew it. And before she knew it, Winter found herself slowly leaning towards Agnes until their shoulders touched. Well... She was here now... And she did enjoy her warmth.... So, here she would stay until Agnes pushed her off. She took another swig of her drink and then her head rested on her shoulders. It was a bit of a struggle to keep her eyes open but she did it anyways.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:02 pm
Tobi’s hands flick in a rapid series of signs towards Winter. “Could always use more knives,” Agnes translates for him. “True, true.” She nods even as her twin holds open his hand for the knife back. Her fingers flip the blade in her hands idly, toying with the weight and balance, toying with her twin. The motion grows more insistent now. His fingers flick open and shut as Agnes dips the blade around her index and middle finger. “Yessir, could always use more knives.”

Tobi sighs loud in the space. With a sharp smile on her face, she puts it into his waiting palm, handle first. A curt nod of his head, curly hair bouncing with the movement, is all the thanks she gets. One of the unopened beers on the table is pushed towards him as an apology. The glass slides across the wood with a soft scrape of glass across the grooves and dips in the grain of the table. It’s a small token, but one she knows he appreciates; he knows she would have just thrown it were they not in company. Matching sets of scars cover nearly every inch of their hands and continue up their arms as relics of missed throws and practiced stunts.

“Maryland huh? I ain’t e’er seen no mermaid, but I at least wanna believe it’s at least half’a pretty lady.” She reaches for her beer only to find it empty. Thank god Jake had brought a whole assortment over with him. “Gimmie some a tha’,” she motions towards the Fireball Whiskey. Something a little warm sounds great right now. Curled up in a feather soft blanket that’s trapping the heat rolling off of her in this cozy apartment, full of good food? God, she needed to add some whiskey to that, warm herself up from the inside out. She reaches her hand out for the bottle, gets her fingers around the neck of the warm amber bottle when there’s a sudden soft pressure on her shoulder.

Sharp grey eyes flick to her shoulder to see Winter leaning there. The girl is sipping her beer with sleepy eyes; they flutter and droop only to flick back open a moment later. ‘Hardly used to liquor then.’ She thinks to herself as she unscrews the cap on her own bottle and tips a generous amount into a tall empty cup on the table. The amber liquid swirls around the interior of the glass as she pours a generous one, two, three fingers and knocks it back quick and easy. The cinnamon burns so sweet on its way down, softens a few of her edges into something a little bit more… soft.

It’s never been a word she would use to describe herself. Or her twin, for that matter. They’ve always looked out for themselves, only had themselves to rely on for almost their whole lives. Granted, their family was whole again now, but for a while? It was only them in the woods fighting to survive. They’d been raised under branches, christened in the driving mountain rain, molded by scars and bruises and blood shed onto the dirt of the forest floor. They’d both killed with their bare hands and yet here? Here in this space with its decorative pillows, colorful décor, and silly family photos? Here with her brother struggling to unwrap thick grey ribbon with his blunt nails he chews down to nubs? She had seen him wrestle elk and deer to the ground with those same hands that couldn’t find a hold on the ribbon, seen him snap their thick necks in the same way that he finally tears the ribbon off the box.


Seems this sort of life has relaxed the both of them.


Her lips pull up in the same way her brother’s do as she settles further into her blanket and into the space. It’s soft and sincere, tempered by the whisky and warmth of the blanket. She pours herself a full glass of the amber whisky, watches it fill the glass slow and easy.

‘This’s nice.’ She thinks. ‘Bottle it up, save it f’later.’ A little cure for the loneliness that she’ll reach for in the softest nights and the emptiest days when even Sunshine wasn’t enough to pull her out of that headspace. Quick little cure, sweet as honey wine.


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


Across the table, Tobi pulls at the wrapping covering the cardboard box and the contents inside when he hears it.


Little voices.


Tiny voices.


Nerves that had previously been glowing in a soft, barely-there way flare to life as he stills, just listening to the air around him. Sharp grey eyes set against their black pools flick around the room with a cold intensity before settling on the box in front of him. They’re… in the box? Little voices so soft, he had just now noticed them… Was there something alive in there? He pauses just to look down at the cardboard top before looking towards Noelle with a questioning gaze. Her gaze is fixed somewhere else away from him. Guess he just has to open it then, figure it out for himself.

Thick fingers topped with blunt nails pulls the tabs of the box apart to reveal a thick, handmade sweater like the one that had been in his care package from Karen. Thick stitches, soft as sin, and it looks like it’s been made just for him. Dark, inky blue like the night sky, like his mother’s eyes, like his own now. Those same eyes flick to Noelle and oh, he can see a bit of the red flush on her cheeks even from here. His gaze flicks between the sweater and her until finally, it clicks. She had made it for him. Each stitch, each little inch of thread just for him. The time that went into this, the effort, the thought.


And all of it for him.


Calloused hands pull the garment out to better inspect it. Dried skin and broken nails catch on some of the stitches as he pulls, but as he brings it further and further into the light, those voices are getting louder. Louder still. He pulls it all the way and there, at the bottom, he sees them. Sees it. His fingers nearly shake as he reaches in; the tiny voices sound near jubilant as he takes hold of the glass bowl and pulls it up with care.


It’s the clearing. It’s their clearing.


It’s their clearing preserved behind glass for him to keep with him. He can feel the room around him still with the reveal of the gift so that only the soft voices of the tiny pines and the minuscule succulents fill the space, heard only by him. They sing their happiness to him, tell him of the girl who put them there. How she had spoken to herself and to them as she worked to tenderly place them in the perfect spots. How she had told them of the man who would appreciate them, asking ‘does he appreciate them?’. He’s nearly breathless as he turns the glass this way and that to look at the details she had managed to get in.

A soft puff of laughter escapes him at the dented van in the middle. She even got his van, like… he can’t even believe. His hand reaches into the top of the bowl to run one finger along one of the tiny pines. It’s just… he’s can’t even believe… His lips tick up in a smile so soft, so honest as he looks into the bowl at the tiny plants and their tiny voices.

The noise that comes rolling out of his mouth next is the soft whisper of a breeze though tall grass and great pines. It’s the settling of the earth after a thunderstorm and the great, massive openness of a night sky just as pretty as the one he had been privy to as a child in the mountains. It’s soft peace and easy quiet, it’s a break in the chaos, it’s the calling of night birds and crickets further off. They had ignored their worlds for one night to find a new one to share together, and here she had captured it for him in detail.


He feels it a moment later. The ancient words that he had said to her; the little plants have latched onto them and are humming them back to him on a soft repeat. Tiny pines rustle and shiver in a nonexistent breeze, hiding invisible birds and imaginary crickets. He can feel the stars above him and the soft seep of drying rain into the earth and he just can’t help it: he laughs.


He told her he loved her that night over and over. He told her it now, and it gets caught by the tiny plants in the bowl. They sing it to the room now, all the inhabitants deaf to those whispers save him. They sing it even as he put the bowl down, and they croon it soft as he turns her head towards him. He can’t say it in English, she can’t understand him as he is now, and sign just didn’t feel enough, so he leans in and tells her the only way he can.


He’s still smiling as his lips catch hers, the message loud and clear.



‘I love you.’



.

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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Sun Nov 04, 2018 7:57 pm
Noelle had tried to keep her eyes off of Tobi as he opened the gift. Her gift. But the stillness in the air was too tense, too unknowable. She had to peek. At least for a moment. She takes a long drink from her cup, for bravery, and turned her dark brown gaze to him.

He was holding the glass bowl, reverent. Examining each detail, just as she hoped he would. Instead of fading, her blush deepens and she bites back a new smile. If anyone had been closer, they would have heard her heart pounding out of her chest, hyperactive and resting to meet him. It pulled her toward him, like a dog on a leash. But she stayed where she was, watching, tilting her head ever so slightly.

The expression on his face was all to familiar to her now. She was able to identify it as a moment of listening, that he was hearing the voices, the voice. Of everything. Noelle had a sudden realization that, in preserving their small slice of freedom, she also had created a haven for the voice, small as it may be. She sincerely hoped that it was happy to be appreciated, that it didn’t think itself trapped in the fishbowl. As large as it was, it didn’t compare to the expansive world that it was natural to.

She was then brought to the awareness that these baby pine trees and tiny plants had heard all of the things had said over the past couple of days of assembly. The wishes and hopes that Tobi would enjoy them, the soft jazz standards she sang so softly while working on them, the even softer swears when something didn’t land in just the right spot. It had heard all of that. And more. When she wasn’t working, when she was on the phone with her mother and sister, her calm response to her stress and when she was writing, murmuring silent words as they were scribbled on the page. The things that her roommate had said to her, the awful, nasty things that’s she had been keeping silent for a while now. Her gentle words to Glenn, her companion through all things. Each small realization made this even more intimate and raw.

She was just about to open her mouth, to explain herself.

But Tobi did first.

The sounds of their night together at the top of that van come pouring out of his mouth, just as naturally as smoke did hers. After only a meeting or two with Dr. McKay, she found herself really listening to the sounds. The swish and sway of the tall grass, the whistle of the wind in the pine. The gentle twill of birds. The gentle pull of the earth. It was so familiar to her now, a flood of memories hitting her own senses. The scent of the wet dirt and grass, mixing with the scent of alcohol on their breath. The sight of stars twinkling above them as a metaphorical blanket, the thick weight of the quilt as a physical one. Warmth from touch and taste as they expire bed each other, sharing a night, a moment privately their own. It all rushed back to her, just as he stood and moved to her.

Noelle’s mouth was still open when he marched over, his eyes blazing for her. A small squeak escapes her as their lips meet. Yet, as soon as they do, she finds herself losing herself, for a moment. Her hands slowly snake up to his hair, her head tilting to accommodate. She hums in the back of her throat. She knows what she is trying to say and she accepts, responding.

I love you too.

They break after a moment, and she smiles. She didn’t need to explain why she had made this. Noelle knew that Tobi understood. And there, with her face flushed and her gloves hands tangled into his hair, she felt peace and joy.

Perfect
—————-

Jake was starting to feel a slight buzz, a feeling he decided to chase the rest of the night. He listens to Agnes comment about the mermaid and snorts.

To be fair, Noelle had been right. It was an ugly little thing with a shriveled up body and a hideous face. A common curioustiy made popular with P.T. Barnum. But still. It was hoax crafted from a need of entertainment. And Jake was a firm believer that people gave things magic and power. That if someone believed in something, why couldn’t that belief leak into the thing itself?

Says the man with the magical markings on his body.

“Yeah, well, I’ll let you know if I find a real mermaid, Agnes. You’ll be the first to know!” Jake laughed, watching as Winter places her head on the other girl’s shoulder. Aw, isn’t that the sweetest! On top of everything, Agnes wasn’t afraid of a little physical contact.

His eyes follow the Fireball, hungrily. He had paid one of the older kids in the program to buy it for him after Noelle and Tobi drank the rest of his original bottle on the trip. He needed to snag it back before he missed a sip this time around.

Once Agnes was done pouting, Jake carefully reached for it with his noodley arm. He poured it in his own glass, sniffing it. Oh man, memories with this one. It reminded him of boring nights with Frederic and Steven, drinking themselves into a stupor. Delicious. And dangerous.

He takes a swig, his face twisting in a gaunt mask as it bit his tongue and teeth. He winces, but swallows. And he goes for another just as Tobi makes his way over to Noelle. And kissed her. For a while.

He peeked over at the open present. Oh! So that’s what she did with that old fishbowl. Smart. Looked like Tobi appreciated it. A lot. His eyes flick to Agnes and Winter again. “So, anything else we can do to make this birthday the best it can be?”

His words aren’t exactly slurred, but they slosh together ever so slightly. He felt heat rise to his face as he takes another drink, this one less painful.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Sun Nov 04, 2018 11:13 pm
Winter smiled as Tobi signed to her. Her smiled broadened as Agnes translates. She giggled. "That's right. Figured you would like it. It was pretty and useful." She commented. She giggled again as Agnes had held the knife captive, seemingly pondering whether she should give it back or not. Tobi kept signing at her over and over again. She was familiar enough with this game. They were only playing and teasing each other as siblings do.

Eventually, the knife was returned and all was right in the world. Agnes even gave him a peace offering in the form of a beer. Typical sibling moments. Once more, they made her almost miss her brothers... almost, but not quite. Winter watched as Agnes grabbed the Fireball and poured herself a generous amount. God, she felt like such a weakling. She was already buzzed two drinks in. She took a sip of her beer as Agnes looked at her, not that she noticed. She was doing her best to stay awake. Agnes was warm and most importantly, she didn't move away from her.

She watched lazily as Tobi opened Noelle's gift to him. As he finally pulled out the terrarium, she could see that he was a little overwhelmed. Even from where she was sitting, she could tell that a whole lot of work went into it to make it look nice and perfect. She smiled. That was so sweet of Noelle. That was one of Noelle's shining personality traits. She was so damned thoughtful when it counts.

She saw Tobi lean in to kiss her and Winter respectfully looked away. They deserved their little moment. It seemed Jake at the same idea as he brought up the topic of what to do next. Winter smiled and stretched a bit before settling her head back down on Agnes's shoulder. She ran a hand through her hair. Her white blond roots were starting to show too but she smiled lazily. "We could like.... totally..." She started to say with a slight valley girl lilt to her voice. She even started to twirl the end of her hair in between her fingers. "Play some, like... games. Obviously not the ones that you need to talk for... Something like... pictionary or whatever... or like... card games."

Winter giggled and chewed on her bottom lip as she took another sip of her beer, her eyes still fighting to stay open but the prospects of doing something other than sit around the table and talk excited her. "I think like... it would be totally be like so much fun." She grinned up at Agnes, her face flushed. "What do you think, beautiful?" She asked shamelessly. "You're like... so bad ass, I think you would slay at pictionary..."
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Mon Nov 05, 2018 8:06 pm
Agnes sees her brother get up and move towards Noelle, choosing to look away and give the two their space. She knew her brother didn’t much mind public shows of affection when he was high on love, but she figured Noelle was more the type to value her privacy. Her attention turns toward the other two near her: Jake stealing the Fireball back and Winter already smashed two drinks in. God, she almost wished she her family didn’t soak up alcohol like a sponge, it always took so much more to get her on the same level as the people around her.

“Games huh?” She hums smooth and low. The whiskey burns soft and slow as she takes another sip. Sharp eyes catch on something colorful Jake had brought to the table with the alcohol. A moment later, her fingers reach out to grab at the silly straw in the middle of the table and plunk it into her tall glass of whiskey. There. Much more festive.

Chapped lips close around the tip of the silly straw and she begins to suck down the dark amber liquid as if it were water. She can feel the blanket slipping down around her shoulders as Winter makes herself at home on her broad frame. Fine by her, girl was welcome to drape herself across Agnes in any way she pleased. The arm not holding the glass is thrown over the back of the chair as Winter begins to speak once more. Agnes can’t help but raise a brow.


Huh.


She knows cards, but she isn’t sure if that second thing she mentioned is even a word. “Sorry, darlin’, but what the hell’s a Pictionary?” She isn’t sure if that’s a game or a slurred word. Her eyes flick towards Jake as one of her eyebrows tick upwards. ‘Pictionary?’ she mouths in confusion.

Is it a contact sport? It was mentioned at the same time as cards, so probably not. Why would her being a badass factor in?  The compliment was appreciated, as was the ‘beautiful’, but she’s too confused to dwell on it. She’d ask her brother, but he’s otherwise occupied at the moment.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Mon Nov 05, 2018 10:22 pm
Jake blinks at Winter's suddenly dialect change. Confused. To be fair, when he found out she was from Alaska, he wrongly assumed that she would sound like Sarah Palin. But Cher from Clueless? Not what he expected. Still, alcohol did strange things to people. He was starting to settle into the buzz, leaning back further in his seat, tilting his head back. His eyes catch Agnes.

Oh God, she was asking for help.

Maybe it was the cinnamon whiskey, but he found his tongue was much quicker than his mind. "Oh. It's a board game. Kinda like charades? But with pictures. You get a word and have like a minute to draw it? Fun game... I like Monopoly better but if we start a game now it'll go on forever... "

He trails off, taking a final sip, the liquid sitting in his chest in a pleasant way. His eyes flick back to Tobi and Noelle, who had finished kissing but were still holding each other tightly. Cute. He stretched out, a smile curled on his lips. After, he stood up, a little unsteady, his smile only growing. The world felt a little hazy, a little more rounded. A little friendlier. Slowly, he makes his way to the overstuffed, blue couch. He laid down, his legs from the knees down hanging down the side, his head propped up by his "SHIVER" pillow. After a couple moments his head perks up. "You can join if you like!"

It isn't directed at anyone in particular, but he hoped that Agnes would sit down. Maybe tell him a little more about herself. Wouldn't that be great?

_____

Noelle smiled at Tobi, straight on. A small laugh bubbles out of her chest. Her eyes shine like stars, as they did when she was really happy, not just plastering a smile "You liked it?"

She felt her back pocket buzz, and for a second, fear clenched her chest. If she was starting to leak at other parts of her body... But she relaxed when she realized it was her phone. Untangling herself from his grasp, she pulled it out, the name "MOM" flashing on the screen. Normally, she would ignore it and call her back later. But she was in a predicament- she wasn't going to have a convenient moment to steal away until much later. She also promised to answer her mothers calls after she left the state after a catastrophic event and left her phone on vibrate, delaying her response for hours. And, with everything going on with Joy, she felt like she needed to be there.

So, her face apologetic, she looked at Tobi "Do you mind if I step out and take this?'

She sways a little when she says it, holding herself close to him, her eyes staring into his. They're wide, not unlike a puppy dog left in a box in the rain. Irresistible. And completely unintentional.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Mon Nov 05, 2018 10:35 pm
Winter couldn't help but to giggle in her inebriated state as Agnes grabbed the silly straw and plopped it in her drink. She just found it funny. A bad ass girl from the forest sipping whiskey from a silly straw. Who wouldn't find it funny? Winter was also all too aware that Agnes's arm was around her. Alright, not technically around her. Over the back of her chair. All the same... Winter snuggled a little closer, feeling very, very happy at the moment as she explained her ideas for games.

Winter giggled once more at Agnes's confusion. Of course the mountain girl wouldn't know pictionary. Fortunately, everyone was spared her drunken explanation as Jake took care of that for her. The drunk girl nodded. "It's like... a lot of fun." She said with a grin as she poked her leg. "I want to see you draw something stupid like an angry computer."

She watched as Jake got up, a bit unsteadily and headed to the living room. Winter wasn't too certain of her ability to walk at the moment. She smiled happily as he stayed on the couch. She remained by Agnes's steady warmth. She hummed happily. "You're like... such a nice place to lean against..." She said softly with a goofy grin. She was probably going to need assistance if she was going to head over to Jake.

She looked over at Tobi and Noelle to check up on their progress. They were just hugging now. Good. They were so cute together, it was adorable. Even Noelle was making puppy eyes at him and Winter even "awwww"ed softly, mostly to herself. She couldn't help it. Noelle was adorable like a cat or a puppy in this case.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Mon Nov 05, 2018 11:19 pm
Tobi looks into her wide brown eyes as she asks him. God, she could ask him anything with those eyes and he’d be hard pressed to say no.


‘Y’all take all the time y’need. Ain’t like I’m goin’ anywhere.’ He signs with a smile aimed towards her. ‘Be pretty rude t’leave my own party.’ She’s still looking at him with those eyes though, still staring wide eyed and oh so open. He caves so easily to those dark brown eyes, makes him weak seeing them turned towards him. A calloused hand reaches for her waist and he just can’t help himself; he tugs her in closer for one more quick kiss.


When they break, the phone still buzzes between the two of them. He leans in for one quick peck on her nose before letting her go.


‘Be o’er here.’ He signs as he makes his way towards Jake’s couch. The blanket around his shoulders trails on the floor as he goes in a makeshift cape. He walks past his twin on the way over and grabs both her tall glass of whisky and a full bottle of vodka just sitting on the table as Agnes maneuvers Winter into a standing position to get her over to the couch. After a moment though, she gives up trying to get the girl to walk on her own. Agnes can feel the blanket pulled off her shoulders, thank god. That would’ve made what she was about to do a little more challenging.


Steady hands hook under the girl’s knees before strong arms pull her up bridal style. Agnes walks the short distance to the couch with her arms full of Winter. Once they reach the couch, she lightly kicks Jake’s legs a little out of the way to make room for the two of them.


“Scooch, boy.” She chides lightly. Tobi hovers behind her with his hands full of drinks and covered in both their blankets. Gently, she sets the girl down in the corner of the couch, hoping that the armrest offers a little more support to keep her upright. She settles herself in the middle between the two and raises her hands towards Tobi who gives her back her blanket and drink. Her twin relaxes himself in the green armchair, leaning into the corner created by the armrest and the back and letting his legs dangle over the side. He tucks himself in carefully with his knitted blanket and pops the metal cap on the vodka bottle.

Agnes had the right idea, he thinks as he plunks a long silly straw into the bottle. The fun curves get caught on the rim, preventing it from sliding down into the bottle, and the straw in just long enough to kiss the bottom of the bottle. Plus, it’s festive. This was the closest he was getting in lieu of party hats.


He settles into the easy quiet and lets his thoughts drift in this warm, safe space. For once, everything feels like it’s going to be okay.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

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