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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Wed Nov 07, 2018 1:06 am
Jake blinks.

Did she just say she's never sucked dick?

He intentionally puts his drink down, snorting. The only one possibly, maybe qualified for this one was Winter. And the girl looked half asleep at this point. Jake chuckles and looks at the twins. Tobi, he expected. He was with Noelle, so it made sense. but Agnes? Never? His brain started whirring. MAybe she was just waiting?

Didn't seem like her.

God, she looked hot with the slight flush to her skin, a path from ear to ear. Jake felt his own VERY Irish face starting to redden. Looks like it was the fashion tonight.

He smiles, shaking his head "Gotta try harder if you wanna get us to where you're heading,"
______
“Noe, puhlease. Yuh know I wouldn’ ask unless it twas an emergency. I can’ jus’ leave huh a’ home, it twould be bedlam. Yuh know it. I have no clue where else I can turn.”

Noelle was sitting against the brick wall next to the door back inside. Her eyes are fixed on a hanging plant, it’s vines stretching over and beneath the pot. The leves were small, twin blades on either side of the stem. Even in the dark, she could tell they were lush and green and well taken care of. It seemed that their owner was at least a little responsible. She found herself watching them sway in the wind, fixing her gaze on something naturalistic, trying to calm her racing heart. Her mother was frantic on the other end. Something Noelle had never been used to. She was always calm, the one that kept the insanity that was their lives in an organized chaos.

But here was Karen Scott. Struggling. Pleading. Begging.

“Mom… I can’t come home right now. I have so much I need to do before Thanksgiving Break, I have these new lessons I’m taking I have-“

Noelle breaks off, the hand on her knees tightening. No. This wasn’t the time to reveal her little problem. To tell her mother that her daughter had lost control of something. Of anything. She took a deep breath, re-centering herself. “I can see if I can come up this weekend, okay? Maybe leave tonight and-“

“That tain’t gonna work. She’s suspended startin Monday. And she’s off the week. And I can’ miss any more work less we wan’ workin heat roun’ here. Aun’ Susan is ou’ and Cousin Nel ain’ speakin’ to me again. All the res’ are too fah away and aren’ gonna come. Not like Gran gonna walk ou’ her grave. Sweethauh’, you know I ain’ askin’ less it was an emergency. Pulease, jus’ this once. I need yuh, Noe. I can’ do this-“

“Stop!”

It was louder than she meant it. The word rang out in the night as it escaped her. Tears stung in her eyes, her knees tightening to her chin. She couldn’t leave all of next week- not only her commitments to Dr. McKay and his lessons but her own school work. This wasn’t like fall break and midterms. If this became a habit, her career could be on the line. Academic and elsewhere. At least, that was at the forefront of her mind. She placed her forehead on her knees, letting out a shaky breath. On the other line, her mother was silent for a moment. Taking in that word.

And then.

“I’m… I’m sorry Noe. Yuh righ’. I can’ ask yuh fuh this. I’ll… I’ll figure somethin’ ou’. Okay? Don’ worry. Maybe one o’ the library volunteers could hel’. Or I coul’ take Joy to the Library. She don’ like it as much as yuh, bu’ she migh’ have ta deal. It’s… It’s fine. Alrigh’ ? I’m.. I’m sorry.”

Noelle wanted to ignore it, but her mother’s words were clipped. Not in anger, but not wanting to reveal their sadness. Their anxiety. This was a woman who, at her mother’s funeral, had graciously helped everyone who came far and wide. Made them laugh. Celebrate life instead of mourning it. A woman who, when her husband left, did not cry. Noelle could not remember seeing a tear leave her eye. She was the one who held it together, the glue to their tiny family. And here she was- Noelle made this woman, a woman of strength and fortitude, show a weakness of emotion. Of things being less than manageable.

Noelle thought of Dr. McKay. Their talk about failure. Yet, Noelle could not see how this could be something to learn from.

Learn how to be a better daughter? Someone who didn’t let her own mother down?

“Mom, I-“

“No, it’s fine! I promise! It’s all gon’ be fine. She’s fine. We’re fine.”

There was a sound in the background. A voice, a tired, small voice. It was way past that voice’s bedtime, Noelle knew. She knew that there wasn’t much time to make this better. “I just-“

“I gotta go, sweethauht. She’s outta bed and she gotta get sleep fuh tomorrow. Send the twins my love. And thuh res’ o’ yuh friends. I’m sorry fuh botherin’ ya. Call me tomorrow. G’night Noe.”

“Wait, I-“

Click.

Noelle sat there, her head to her knees, huddled up. Her fingers were wet. Formless. Numb. The tingles had left, leaving… nothing. But the hole in her chest made up for it. It was as if someone ripped out her heart with their bare hands. Emptiness filled her. Shame filled her. Disappointment. Hopelessness.

Just as such, she found herself swirling into a vortex of negativity. She let a shudder out, shaking her thin frame quickly. Why couldn’t things just… be good? For a little while? Long enough for her to truly enjoy it? It was getting to a point where she just wanted to lay in bed, with her cat, and not do anything but write and read. Not even that. Just… Cease from existing.

But for now, she slumped over herself. Two minutes. Two minutes and she'd go back.
____________________
Jake had heard the first loud word. A raised voice. Noelle's voice. It was a short word, but still. The tone sounded serious.

He frowned.

Sounded as if the learning about his new friends had ended. Something was going on.

Eyes flick to Tobi and then to the two girls. He keeps his smile but his eyes flash with a little worry “Um, it’s getting kinda late guys. Not that I’m against you staying- I have the room. But, uh, if you’re planning on going home… Agnes, maybe you can make sure Winter gets back okay. Or, you know. Stay. Whatever you need.”

The bravado is gone, although there is a shadow of it in the smile. Instead, it was replaced with the voice of someone who wanted to help everyone, who wanted to make this as easy and painless for the girl outside. Something private. He would make himself scarce if Tobi stepped out. He was teetering on the edge of sleep- Probably would be out soon.

He makes eye contact with Tobi again, leaning over the edge of the couch and pulling up another fleece blanket, this one with yellow and blue ladybugs on its pattern. It was cold outside, and the girl was wearing that breezy dress. She was probably freezing. It was the least he could do if he wasn’t going to reach out. And he wasn't. Something told him that Noelle wouldn't really appreciate his presence right now. No matter what she was dealing with. So he'd wait. Be the entertainment when she came back.


Last edited by Cantaclarac on Wed Nov 07, 2018 1:28 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Wed Nov 07, 2018 1:21 am
Winter smiled and hummed to herself as she waited once more for the next question to be asked. She smiled at the saying. Girl had a point. She couldn't argue with logic. She smiled and stretched a bit before settling once more into the couch.

She watched everything Agnes did. From the way that she drank her rumchata to how her cheeks flushed much like her own. She was beautiful. Her freckles were adorable. The way the redness creeped up onto her ears... She loved it. The rumbling of her voice as her drawl thickened. She continued to hum, so very content.

Then Agnes really started to contemplate. It seemed to take forever. She even tried to get Tobi to help her out but he was no use. She repeated the prompt as if the ending would finish itself. Eventually it did.

And Winter looked right at Agnes and took a drink. She smiled and giggled. "Matthew Graham... Sophomore year." She explained. "Did it on a dare and hated it. His thing was like three inches long." She smirked. "Billy Hazel was much better. That was senior year. My ex. Broke up cause he was an ass." She grinned and took another sip. "Probably for the best that I like girls too." It surprised her that Agnes had never sucked a dick maybe... She then realized why. Agnes only liked girls. That had to be it.

Winter was about to start her turn when she heard Noelle. She turned and looked to the door. Was she yelling at her Mom? That didn't sound right. Noelle really doesn't yell. She looked to Tobi. Jake seemed to have the same idea. Maybe he could help Noelle?

Then Jake started speaking as if he was ending the party. He was ending it! He even asked Agnes to help her home! Granted, that was her plan in the first place but this was sudden. Jake was worried about Noelle. But knowing her, she would not want everyone hanging out trying to comfort bed.

Winter looked to Agnes as she set down her bottle. "Okay. .. just... Make sure that Noelle gets back safe too. Okay?" She said softly. Something was wrong but the alcohol prevented her from truly seeing what is wrong.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:34 am
Agnes looks towards Jake. It takes a moment for his words to sink in, but they do. She shrugs out of her blanket and sets the Rumchata on the floor with its cap sealed tightly. She can tell what’s going down, can tell that Noelle might not want everyone around when she comes back in. Despite the flush on her cheeks, her keen eyes lock with her twin’s, flicking between him and the door.

Dark eyes blink back slow. There’s a long pause, a long moment between the two of them before a small smile breaks across Tobi’s face. There’s a mess of emotions there: worry, resignation, a certain sibling playfulness. A calloused hand runs through his hair as he stands heavy from the armchair; he wraps the blanket tighter around himself as his head jerks towards the door, eyes moving between it and Agnes.


‘Git gone,’ the eyes say.


‘Have some fun.’ The quiet smile says.


Agnes’s mohawk bobs as she nods back.  “C’mon, girlie. Let’s get y’all back.” Winter’s next words are concern for her friend, girl wants to make sure she gets home safe. Agnes has her doubts that Noelle’s going back to her dorm tonight, but the concern’s sweet. Warms her just the right way. Even as out as Winter probably was, she was still concerned about her friend.

“Tobi’ll take’a her, don’ you worry.” Her eyes soften as she loops a thick arm around Winter to drag her off the couch. “C’mon, y’all got y’shit?” she says low to the girl. Her mind flutters over her own mental checklist: keys, phone, wallet, knife. All on her person. She turns to Tobi, now standing next to Jake. His one hand is clutched around the yellow and blue blanket. Posture slouched, eyes drooped and tired, hair a mess, blanket wrapped tight around him; kid looks a mess. The blanket is exchanged, and Tobi is on his way towards the door. With her brother gone, it leaves only Jake fidgeting softly next to the couch.

“We goin’.” She tells him. Pale grey eyes catch Jake’s, deadly serious despite the messy hair and flush in her cheeks. She knows these kids, knows the shit that her brother and his friends have gotten mixed up in. If she can’t drag him back into the woods with her, this is the next best thing. “Shit goes south an’ anythin’ happens, call me.” Her eyes move towards the kitchen table where Tobi left his phone. It’s an old thing with the screen cracked something fierce, but he don’t use it for anything more than texts, calls, and the calendar. “It’s unlocked. Jus’” she pauses, sighs. “I’d ratha’ not get a call, but don’ hesitate. ‘Aight?”


“Be safe,” she calls behind her as she walks out the door with Winter in tow.


‘For once,’ she mumbles under her breath. The door closes solid behind them.


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


Tobi’s feet take him to the door to the balcony. The pleasantly colored blanket he had grabbed from Jake has been wrapped around his neck, and the blanket he had gotten earlier from Karen is tied loose around his neck in a sort of cloak that swishes against the carpet and settles light around his feet when he stops at the door. He had the sense to leave the bottle of rum next to the empty vodka and beer bottles at the base of his armchair, freeing his hands to talk. Or not. Whichever she prefers.

He can see Noelle through the glass, just sitting there, head on her knees. He doesn’t know what could’ve gone on in that phone call to get her like this, but he supposes it doesn’t matter. It happened, she’s here now, and he’s got two blankets. Blankets can at least solve the cold. Girl’s sitting on tile against metal bars; that couldn’t be comfortable.

Glass doors slide open with a soft ‘swish’. He stands there in the opening.

‘Y’all got room f’one more?’ he signs.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Wed Nov 07, 2018 1:57 pm
Jake meets Agnes’ eyes, blinking blearily. He needed to focus, to make sure he knew what she was saying. Unfortunately, that meant staring at her lips. Which was even more distracting.

Focus, McKinley.

They were leaving. Winter was pretty much draped over Agnes, who was helping her out safely. Agnes indicated Tobi’s phone. Call her? In case of trouble? That’s what she was saying. Got it. He could do that. Any excuse to call her really was great… Jake couldn’t see anything that could go wrong. There wasn’t any shitty ex-boyfriends or racist families or powers going out of control. It would be fine.

Still.

“Yeah… You got it… I’ll call if there’s trouble. Hope ya make it back safe. Happy Birthday… Oh, and don’t forget the soup. And Pie. And Bread. And anything else you wanna help yourself too.”

With that, he turned his head back, laying back, his legs falling over one of the arms of the couch again. His eyes are fixed on the door, blinking slowly. With his face smushed against the couch and his tired eyes, he looked like a droopy bloodhound.

He was going to have to turn on the TV to keep him awake.
--
Noelle’s head shoots up at the sound of the door opening, tense and alert. But, when she sees it’s Tobi, she leans back against the wall, relaxing. But she still wiped her nose from the cold, and then her eyes from the unfallen tears. She stares at him for a moment, tracking his signs with still eyes. He was wondering if he could join her.

At her little pity party.

Guilt washed over her. This was supposed to be his party. His birthday. She spent so much time getting everything perfect, everything just right. Her dress, the food, the pie, the present. But all of that was gone. Or would be gone. Because she had to answer her phone and talk to her mom. She looks at Tobi and sighs, nodding. She felt that if she opened her mouth, everything would pour out. Her mom, Joy, the suspensions, the ink, Tamara, and all the other things that she had been keeping to herself.

But, she also knew she had to talk about it. It was an unsaid agreement that they both had after the Dining Hall. They needed to talk about these things instead of letting them fester and rot and consume her. And him.

After a long minute of silence and cold, she shivered and opened her mouth. She didn’t take a blanket or reach for one, although she wanted too. She was frozen in place, but a small voice escapes her lips. “My mom called… She told me that Joy got suspended. For getting into a fight with a boy in her class that resulted in her punching him in the face and puncturing him with three of her quills. The kid was fine but with everything that's happened... Well... You know.”

Noelle pauses again, removing her eyes from Tobi “My mom can’t really afford a sitter for a week. And Joy can’t really be on her own for the time. And my mom can’t get off work. So, she called to see if I could come home. And help out. But… I can’t. I have-“

Voice breaking, she tightens herself into a ball, staring at her knees. Her hands are taut, the gloves tight. Unbeknownst to her, the ink from her fingertips had started to trickle down to her wrist, dripping in small splats on the floor. But her gaze is fixed, her lips trembling. “Why do I keep ruining things? I get to experience and see all of these really great things, I get to be happy for more than five minutes. I feel an actual sense of belonging. And something always happens. And it’s my fault. Each time. And I don’t know if I should talk about it? Because whenever I want to talk about it-“

She tilts her head against the wall, looking out “I don’t know who to talk to. My mom is dealing with bullshit at home. Joy doesn’t understand. Jake and Winter are sweet but I don’t think they’ll understand. And you?” Noelle avoids his eyes but tightens even more. More splats hit the ground, creating a make-do Rorschach test on the balcony floor. “You’re dealing with your own stuff. And you’re stressed and I just want you to not be so wound up, but then I get so freaked out by all of this. Like, last week? When I came over to study? And you were dealing with the advisory board stuff? Well I wanted to tell you that my roommate, Tamara, she stole and emptied everything out of bathroom caddy. AND she put a dead toad under my pillow. And when I told the RA, she denied it and blamed it on those frat boys who have been harassing everyone in the Immersion program since the dining hall. But I didn’t tell anyone. I wanted to. But I didn’t. And this-“

In a swift movement, she pulls out a glove, ink spilling onto the ground in a quick wave. Without the form of the glove, her middle and index finger are no longer flesh, but a black melded bob. It drips to her palm. To her wrist. And her pink and ring finger aren’t that far off from that amorphous figure, either. She stares at them, bitterly, silently. Then, finally “And I don’t know what to do. Or how it works. Because it comes and goes randomly. Sometimes with how I’m feeling, other times I am completely fine and I just start leaking. My toes too. And I can usually….”

She trails off, staring at her fingers, willing with every fiber of her being to draw that ink back into her. After a couple of moments, it recedes back into her skin, leaving stained splotches. She takes a deep breath, and turns her eyes back to him .”And now I’ve ruined your Birthday. And I fucked it up and I wish I could just… fix everything. But I don’t know what to do.”

Noelle is shaking now, whether it was from the cold or from the overwhelming feeling of loss and anger that filled her, she wasn't sure. Her once perfectly straight hair was mussed by the brick she’s leaning against, her nose and cheeks still red from the cold. Her fingers slowly begin to well up again, but she doesn’t seem to notice. Or care. She just stares at Tobi, radiating the desire for someone to throw her a life preserver. Tobi. Her Tobi. The kind, sweet strength that was always there. And she needed it. She needed him to say something, to show her that this was temporary, that everything was okay.

She felt a soft smile almost reach her lips, looking at the makeshift cape that her mother had made him, how it hung long and around his wide frame. How he was wearing her sweater, something she spent so much time and energy. How, even in silence, he stared at her with kind eyes that were darker than the night surrounding her. And how he looked a little swept away himself. Whatever they did inside while she was out, it must have involved alcohol. She's sad she missed it. She needed a laugh.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Thu Nov 08, 2018 1:19 am
Tobi steps carefully over the threshold of the sliding glass door. His blanket slides with a soft ‘swish’ across the floor. Hands give his soft cape a little tug as he steps outside fully to make sure it’s not stuck in the door before closing the door. His knees bend before he flops gracelessly next to her, his heavy weight hitting the tile with a thud. Legs spread out in front of him as his head leans against the wall behind him. He carefully unwraps the bright blanket around his neck and plops it onto her lap.

She looked so stressed, he thinks. Seems to be the look this season. Coming into the school year, he had been expecting finals and labs and maybe the occasional short lived crush to take up most of the space in his mind. Instead, he’s sitting here with eyes pitch as sin, nerves that look like some sort of still bright lightning scar. He’s punched the teeth out of a kid, destroyed a building. It ain’t even Christmas yet; hell, it ain’t even thanksgiving yet.


Busy year. Feels like high school.


He listens as she starts to speak. An eyebrow raises as she tells him Joy got suspended but when she tells him why, he can’t help it: he giggles. Little laughs, all strung together and spurred out of his throat by the tired, soft edge the alcohol gives him when he’s in this deep. Kid jus’, he thinks as the giggles spill out of him. Kid jus’, lawd that sounds like Agnes. The quills might’a been a touch much, solid punch done right should’a done it. He dips his head into his knees and just lets his shoulders shake with silent laughter.

He’s not laughing at her problems, he’s not laughing at the situation. It’s just, these couple of weeks have been a mess. He’s tired, he’s stressed, he’s a mess; imagining little Joy giving the business to some snot that was trouble was just enough to send him into a little fit. He stops after a long moment, giggles fading out as he leans his head back against the wall.

One arm reaches out as she finishes. It sneaks behind her to wrap around her shoulders. With a gentle tug, he pulls her closer towards him and settles her into his side. His head turns and he presses rough lips to her crown in a fond kiss. His own attempt at a comforting word.

She ain't ruined nothin’, he thinks. Ain’t ruined a damn thing. She planned this party, had known his food preferences, had planned every bit and gotten him the most thoughtful present he’s gotten in his life. She’s trying so hard to hit a bar she can’t reach, one she set for herself just always an inch too far away. She can’t be everywhere at once, can’t go to college and watch her sister. Can’t live her life and help someone hundreds of miles away. Can’t make every single person happy. She’s seeing failures in impossibilities; damn if he don’t love her, but she needs a break.


Should’ve joined them for the drinking. He still has a bit of rum inside.


‘Not ruined,’ he manages to sign. ‘Not a problem.’ He stares down at her fingers, thinks of how two of them were just… gone a moment ago. That seems like a problem. Seems like a big problem, but he knows he’s not in a good place right now to address it. Morning, he reminds himself. Morning, they’ll talk about it. He presses another kiss to her head to help ease his worries.


Morning.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Thu Nov 08, 2018 2:41 pm
The blanket falls in her lap and she quickly covered herself with it, doing her best with one gloved hand to not stain it beyond recognition. It wasn’t as soft as her knitted ones or as warm, for that matter, but it was enough to fight the crisp cool air. Instinctively, as he sits down, she places her head on Tobi’s shoulder. Immediately, she began to feel better.

As he began to laugh, she paused, looking at him. It was shock and confusion. She watches as his head dips down and his thick frame is shaking with silent laughter. And she couldn’t help it: Noelle gives a small smile, which gets a little wider as his giggles continued. Something between a laugh and a wheeze is squeezed out of her lungs as she shakes her head. This was ridiculous. Life was ridiculous. Here she was, in college, something she always strived and worked for despite having no money and no prospect. And she expected that somehow when she was here, things would be smoothed out. That there would be no more jagged edges to her life.

Ridiculous.

Tobi’s head leans back, his laughter tapering out into the silence of the night, but she is still shaking with small giggles and laughter. She’s coiled up tightly, purling herself tightly to him, an effort that is made easier as his thick arm pulls her close, lips meeting her hair. She closes her eyes, taking a deep breath, focusing on keeping the hysteria she was teetering on in check. After a couple breaths, she looked at Tobi, who was looking back at her. With so much love. Which made her smile grow even more.

She was still tense, still slightly hunched over. Her eyes follow his signs “You mean it? You swear I haven’t ruined anything?”

The words hang in the air before the giggling starts again. Noelle is shaking head, looking at her lap “I’m being ridiculous, aren’t I? You just said it. That I didn’t.” Another chuckle leaves her as her face pressed against his arm, giving a soft kiss to the equally soft sweater "I'm sorry. That I'm like this, that I get so lost in everything and so caught up in... But... Somehow, you make my mind just... stop. I feel like I can breathe when you're with me."

Noelle curls her now bare hand, flexing and unflexing, watching the ink blot and recede on her palm. She sits up, fixing her eyes until it disappeared again, willing it to stay in her. As if she read his mind, her head hits his arm again “But it is a problem. That this is happening. And I can’t control it. And I’m scared it might…”

She began to remember the pulling. The black mass at her feet making her sink into it. Consuming. How it wasn’t like she was caught in quicksand, her feet dangling, kicking. It was more like… nothing. A void. She had no idea how to describe it besides nothingness as if her feet were never there in the first place. She pulls the blanket up more. Neither of them was ready to talk about this, she decided. Tomorrow. It was a new day and she decided, right then, that nothing bad would happen until tomorrow.

“My mom says hello. And Happy Birthday. And that she hoped you enjoyed her gift And to pass the same to Agnes.”

Noelle says this with a nonchalant attitude that only comes after months of crisis and constant breakdowns. From everything that has gone on, she finally felt as if she was letting go. At least a little bit. A soft smile plays on her lips, a smile of contentment to leave things where they are. And not worry. If Tobi wasn’t worried, why should she be?
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Sun Nov 11, 2018 1:04 am
The hand pulling her close smacks her shoulder gently as she doubts his words. Really now, when has he ever lied to her?

His head still leans against the balcony wall, listening to her lingering giggles, feeling her shake with them against his broad frame. His thick arms are settled heavy where they’re slung around her shoulders. It’s a grounding pressure that pulls her to him, pulls her away from the edge she’d been teetering on. He’s glad he’s able to give her a moment’s pause. He doesn’t quite know what it is about him that gives her a chance to breathe, but he’s glad that he does. Glad that he can help.

Dark eyes watch darker ink as it forms and dissipates into the palm of her hand. Now that, that he doesn’t like. He knows he’s going to talk with her about it in the morning, knows that they’ll get this all figured out sooner rather than later, but right now, he’s a little bit curious. Tobi wants to know when, wants to know why. He can’t remember a time where this was an issue, nor can he remember a sort of breaking point. He knows exactly two things about her problem: jack and shit.

‘Tell ‘er thanks. From the both a us.’ He signs in front of her. The movements are a little slower and a lot sloppier. ‘Real nice f’her t’member.’ Karen really was something. She somehow put together gifts that she knew the both of them would enjoy. She didn’t have to, no one at this party had to do anything. They did though, and the thought makes something in his chest go a little fuzzy. ‘I jus’…’ he stops, leans his head over to rest against hers. There’s so much to unpack there.

How grateful he is for her, for one. HE hadn’t known that the girl he’d bumped into first day of the new year would lead him here, but he’s glad it did. The mess at homecoming, their first kiss, the cafeteria, the clearing on top of Jake’s van. Starlight and moonlight and cool autumn breezes he’s shared with her, and all of it he’s thankful for. ‘Tis the season.’ He thinks blearily. Everything’s still a mess, everything will continue to be a mess, but right now? They’re alright.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Sun Nov 11, 2018 2:07 am
Noelle nestles herself into Tobi’s side, wishing away the cold and the dread that hung in the air. She’s feeling a little tired now and much calmer, the weight of his arms like a large quilt holding her in bed after a long day. After her little giggling episode, the hole in her chest had disappeared.

At least for now.

For now, she had a boy holding onto her, holding her to his body. The warmth that rippled off of Tobi at was trapped in her blanket made her body still and stay at peace. The gentle swat on her shoulder dashed her insecurities while also making her smile a soft, private grin. His head meets hers and she leans back, lazily. She watches his slow signs, giving a slow nod. She’d call her mother the next morning to apologize. She watches as his phrase hang and she curls up even closer. A small part of Noelle wanted to get where he was- a nice, deep buzz that just made everything feel better. But a bigger part knew if she starting drinking now, she wouldn’t stop until she fell asleep. And there were a couple things she wanted to do before then.

So, she started by turning her head to Tobi. His eyes are at her hand. With the rest of her willpower, she sucks in a sharp breath, any evidence of ink disappearing from her hands. They raise to his jaw, her thumb rubbing his cheek, caressing in a familiar and soothing motion. Her hands lay on his face as he had to her own so many times- an offering. In reverence. That small private smile turns even fonder, even brighter, her eyes burning with a soft ember. They flick subtly to his face, as they usually do when she has a chance to look at him this close: she memorizes each freckle, each line, each pore. And finally, her eyes meet his again. And she relaxes. And she tilts her head.

Lips meet in the soft breeze, Noelle’s fingers slowly snaking from his jaw to his hair, the kiss deepening every moment that it continues. Nails gently scratch his scalp, tracing patterns only known to her and now Tobi. She sighs into the kiss, her lips still in a slight smile. The wind sweeps her hair into her own face as her eyes closed and she settles into the moment, settles into him.

If only he could be by her side always. She felt a little guilty thinking that way, but she knew that if they could just stay together, stay near each other, she could really face anything. They would figure out the ink and her familial problems. Her insecurities. They may not be fixed to completion, but she could handle it with him there. Everything.

She breaks the kiss, opening her eyes to stare at him. Her hands lay in his curls, rubbing into his scalp in a comforting ease. Her head is at a slight tilt still, appraising him. Finally, she opens her mouth, and a soft murmur exits “Thank’s for loving me. With all of my imperfections. And Edges. I know I’m not… easy to be with. But thank you. For being here.”

And.

After a moment.

“I love you.”

The words had been said before. They had been said on a street after a kiss, signed during a battle of trees and locusts, uttered on a rooftop where their only witnesses were the stars and the trees. And each time, it grew in meaning. She looked at the boy before her, the one she had seen as a scruffy guide on the first day to school. The one that she had risked using her abilities to help. The first person she chose to share her story.

Young love is strange. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in labels and titles and words that mean nothing. But for Noelle, she knew something to be true: he was her one and only. Despite everything that had happened, despite the length of time of their relationship, despite their lack of dates, she knew that they were tethered with something much bigger than a crush, than a relationship that she saw play out in her books. This was true.

But most importantly.

This was real.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Tue Nov 13, 2018 11:08 am
He watches the ink recede into her skin with the quiet wonder and worry of someone a touch dazed and slightly sleepy. The ink traces dark patterns through the lines of her palm, outlining fortunes and luck and love in deep contrast to her pale, pale skin. He and Agnes had read about that sort of thing once between the antiquated shelves of some used bookstore. She’d laughed as they looked at their own palms crisscrossed with lines both natural and pale, born of past mistakes. ‘Three lines hardly seems ‘nough to tell y’ e’erything ‘bout y’life,’ he had told his sister even as she looked over her own wavy, broken mess of a heart line with its little circles and crisscrossed lines.

‘It’s ‘nough t’have a little fun, y’spoilsport.’ She had answered back, handing him the book. He hadn’t ever put much stock in the information there, in his long upward curving heartline broken in the middle, in the short double headlines, of the long, deeply cut life lines running a hair’s breath away from his thumb. Seemed silly, but it’s all he can think of looking down at her own palms. The ink’s gone in a minute, but his dark eyes still track where it had been. Interesting though, he can’t tell where it’s gone.


That’s funny, he thinks with a little leftover chuckle. He’d think about it a little more if her hand wasn’t tracing along his jaw and tracing the soft stubble there. He’d forgotten to shave for a few days. It was starting to show.


But her lips are on his so soft, always soft in the beginning. His brain fizzles as her hands snake around to tangle and scratch at the base of his neck. ‘Lawd,’ he thinks. It’s both an overwhelmed curse and a quiet prayer to the man upstairs. He must have done something pretty amazing somewhere along the long line of his life to have deserved this, deserved the way she smiles against him, deserved this warm bloom of love and contentment in his own chest. It wards away the autumn chill, the coolness of the tile, and the brisk wind that ruffles Noelle’s hair.

The eyes that look him over as they break the kiss are searching. Her hands are still wrapped around his neck and tracing soft, easy patterns into his hair as she speaks. She tells him thanks, speaks her appreciation for his love, but ‘doesn’t she realize?’ he thinks. The smile that breaks across his face is slow and honey sweet, warm like a fire on a cold winter’s day. His eyelids dip and the corners of his eyes crinkle in the softest, easiest smile he’s ever given. Maybe it’s the alcohol, maybe it’s the blanket, maybe it’s the good company or the well wishes or the unbearable fondness settling heavy in his chest. Her telling him she loves him. The culmination of everything this night.

Whatever it is, he smiles and raises his hands to respond. ‘Ain’t no need f’thanks. Thanks f’loving you like thanks f’growin’ old, or thanks f’breathin.’ He pauses, lets himself just enjoy the night and the feeling of the girl curled up next to him. ‘It’s an eventuality, a constant. Couldn’t stop if I tried.” He chuffs out a small laugh. ‘Ain’t e’er wanna try, but y’know. Y’get the point.” He breathes out long and low. There’s a peace accumulating in him, something letting go it this perfect moment. He can feel a pressure slipping away slowly, like a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding being finally let free. It’s replaced with a similar pain behind his eyes, but one he’s oh so used to after near a decade of headaches.


“Yer smart, y’always get the point.” He says as his eyes slip closed. His drawl is thick and heavy, sounding like it’s teetering on the edge of sleep. Hands still move in front of him to echo the words spoken. “Love it." a pause. "Love you.” he amends. His thoughts pause again, as do his hands. He’s thinking hard about something.


.


“We e’er gone on a date?” he asks after a long moment. “Like, I were thinkin’ it o’er earlier, an’ I couldn’ ‘member no time we e’er jus’ gone t’dinner a’somethin.” His hands translate in front of him for no one. “I mean,” he ducks his head against hers. “I mean, there always some crisis we gotta sort. I feel sorta bad I ain’t e’er take y’out f’candlelight dinners n’dancin’.” Lips meet the side of her head in a gentle kiss.


“Y’e’en like movies?” He rumbles, the sound buried against her hair. “I coul’ take you t’one a’those. Tha’s a date thing, right?”
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Tue Nov 13, 2018 12:45 pm
As she spoke, Tobi’s easy expression changed into something so sweet, so incredibly genuine, it shakes Noelle to her core. Her fingers still rub and scratch his scalp, slowly and determined. After a couple moments, his hands raise and move. They’re slower than his usual fluent movement- fingers stutter, palms shake. The message is clear to her, but it’s sloppy.

Still.

A smile breaks, blushing rising her her cheeks again. She didn’t know what it was about Tobi; words don’t usually fluster her. But each time they were able to sit back and just talk about each other, about this journey they were on, she suddenly became increasingly giddy. The unwavering devotion was something she only saw in her mother, something that was never matched. But this man. Steady and true. He was always going to be there for her.


His voice rumbled through her body deep and low, vibrating her towards him even more. She’s now settled into the little nook that she had found all the way back when she slept by his side that night studying. Under his arm, the slight curve of her body fitting into his like a puzzle piece. She enjoys it, listening to his words and watching his hands flutter. Noelle’s own hands drop from his hair, now clinging around his thick torso. She listens, glowing when he says that she’s smart. That he loves that. That he loves her.

His hands keep moving as he asks his next question, which makes her sputter with laughter. Noelle knew Tobi enough at this point to know when the gentle giant was about to fall asleep, and he was close to that edge. But still. Had he really asked if they’ve ever been on a date? She began to rack her brain- there was the time that she fell asleep while they were studying. He had held her hand, she had slept in his arms. But no, she had been with Evan at the time. And Homecoming? She’s also been dating Evan at that time. They say her mother drove her back after fall break could be hardly considered a date- her mother had been there, and while the picnic had been nice, she spent most of the time chasing her sister. And that night on Jakes van? Romantic but it didn’t constitute a date.

She had dates before. Evan had taken her to the movies and to dinner. And while she had enjoyed it at the time, it was mainly because Evan had expressed interest in her. And that was something that was new to her. Looking back, those nights weren’t as enjoyable in memory- her suitor was always quick to point out how expensive the food was and how fancy the restaurant was, constantly trying to impress Noelle with things she didn’t care about. He also would talk throughout movies, trying to explain everything to her in language that would be condescending to a toddler. She didn’t really count those dates. But this was intriguing- a real, bona fide date with Tobi.

Noelle slowly grabbed his hands, tilting her head, smiling slightly “I like movies... I am not the biggest fan of movie theaters. Especially in the evenings. Too many people, many of them rude. And you know I’m not much of a dancer. But, I think the most important question is... Tobias Maynard, are you asking me out?”

It’s said with a demure batting of her eyelashes, as well as a coy smile. It was a cross between genuine excitement and a flirtatious tease, the side that only he had seen of her. Her grip tightens around him, feeling his face in her hair, his breath on her person. The kids. She sighed softly into him, something sweet and pure.

They weren’t the most traditional couple. Hell, the met only two months prior to their first declaration of love. And, as Tobi pointed out, they hadn’t ever been on a real date. Or even defined their relationship, really. Normalcy was something Noelle used to crave but now? She was fine with her strange life. Mainly because she had someone to tackle it with.

Another breeze slipped by and Noelle shook against Tobi. The temperature was dropping quickly and the wind was chilling Noelle to the bone. She took a peek inside the apartment, seeing Jake laying on his couch, his face fixed toward the sliding glass door, but his eyes half closed and unfocused, a beer in his hand. He’s also leaning halfway off the couch at this point. If he were to fall asleep, he would hit the floor, and while that amused Noelle, she already played one joke on the doofus tonight. She shakes her head, tugging on Tobi’s sweater in a childlike motion “Maybe we should continue this conversation inside. It looks like our host with the most is about to face plant.”
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Thu Nov 15, 2018 11:40 pm
“Well,” He rumbles low in his chest. His hands, caught so easy in hers still in their movements. Calloused fingers curl soft and almost instinctual around her own slender hands. They’re both skilled in their own ways, skilled in books and labor, in words and actions. Thick, square shaped hands are marked in deep lines that mean nothing to the man attached and pale memories that mean everything. His body is a map of his accomplishments and ‘boy’, he thinks in that moment, it’s a pity he can’t engrave the feeling there as he looks over at her through thick, dark lashes.

That seldom seen side of her, the breezy confidence. He’d seen it in her the first time they’d collided, seen that hidden fire that just needed someplace safe to burn. Now, here it is. Burning so bright for him, and only him. Someday, he knew, he just knew he would have to share her with the world just as she would have to give him away to the trees and those that would need him. But for now? Now, with her fingers clasped tight around his waist and her whole body leaned even with his?


There’s a music in the cadence of her voice, an even beat in the pounding of her heart against his. He smiles in time to the song of her and the easy evening air around them.


“I do believe I am.” His voice is just loud enough to be heard in the space between them. There’s still liqueur on his breath and sleep in his eyes but he knows; he’ll remember this moment in the morning. Every detail of it, from the temperature of the air, the cool tile against his bare feet, the way the blanket around him shifts with her every movement. The way her lips move as she speaks. Hair tangled by the light breeze that moves through their space. Freckles just barely noticeable in the dark night. This probably wasn’t the right way to do this, probably should have involved less alcohol and less… something. More romance for sure. Rose petals were a thing he had seen in movies. Did she like roses? He could do roses.

One hand reaches up and out towards the nearest hanging plant. An old pot of ivy, nigh un-killable. Perfect for Jake. Green leaves reach towards him as the nerves that had been so far dormant flare in a brilliant flash of cool light. They curl around themselves, wrapping up and around in a kindness to the man they so favored. A moment more and the stem breaks from the plant to fall into Tobi’s outstretched hand.

“Noelle Scott,” he drawls deep and slow. The hand above him dips low to offer its treasure to her: a curl of ivy wrapped to form the delicate shape of a single, very green rose. “Will y’do me the honor a’ a date? Real n’ proper?” He clarifies. “I’d be awful grateful.”

The smile that he gives her then in genuine and lopsided, tipped in rum and tempered by sleep and some burning fondness for the woman curled into his side. So fast, he had fallen. His sister had always found it funny, but he always wondered why anyone would wait. He had known then, like he knows now, that this is it. Dates or no dates, definition or no definition, he was fine with either. He had what he needed.


Tobi had always been a simple man, a simple man with simple needs. He was warm, he was full, and he had love; that was more than enough.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Fri Nov 16, 2018 12:32 am
Hands meet, and Noelle finds a kinesthetic memory sparkling in her mind eye of Homecoming. How Tobi had taken her hand and held her close, so incredibly close. How, in his hand, she felt strong. Capable. Even graceful. And that feeling lingered as she stared at him with an easy smile and a sly gaze. As expected, her thumb brushes against the back of his hand, tracing the pale scars that laced against his skin. The scars were something that she was intimately aware of- she had spent a long while tracing them, counting them, kissing them in their night in that clearing. The night that she had tried to preserve for him.

His voice rumbles deep, shaking her in a very pleasant way that made her cling to his waist even tighter. She knew she suggested that they should go inside soon, that they should relieve Jake in his apparent chaperone duties, but she couldn’t stand and leave his side. The warmth, the easy smile- it compelled her to stay for just a little while longer.

Noelle wasn’t complaining. While she considered herself a natural cynic, she didn’t complain about the negativity that she always saw. She could be discouraged or discontent, but concerns were never voiced aloud. But this? The cool, late autumn air, the slight swing in the hanging pots overhead, the faint blink of stars against a deep, dark sky that matched the eyes that stared at her with such love, such care? There couldn’t be anything to make the moment more perfect.

Until he reached out his hand.

The words were caught in the space between them, flying from the air to her ear to her mind, making it fizzle and pop and blur on the edges. Was this really happening? It felt as if she were in slow motion, in a moving photograph as her over-active mind set out to remember each detail. The way the moonlight danced across his face as he leaned forward, the way the vines of ivy reached out to meet his touch. The way the brick behind her was mussing up hair and how her butt had become numb for how long she had sat there. How she could hear an old movie play through the cloudy sliding door glass, her eyes meeting the park across the way, the one that she had nearly fallen asleep on his arm while reading a book. After a long day.

Those long days accumulated into something that she couldn’t even really comprehend anymore. But, for once, Noelle didn’t let that get in her way. She heard her heart in her ears, a thick and deep pounding that only quickened as she saw the stem twist and twirl and fall into his hand. She burns in her brain the glow of his nerves, how they illuminated their space even more in a soft light. And his gaze turns back to her, speaking her name, sounding fluid and strong in his thick drawl. It sounded like it belonged in his palate and lilt as hands lift and present her with a tiny and delicate gift.

But it doesn’t end there.

The boy continues to speak, to ask the question that she challenged him to. Her long, spindly fingers carefully take the gift, her lips parting as a shaky breath escapes her. She is cautious with the rose, not because of it’s dainty nature, but because it was a precious gift from a man that she had let into her life, that she had broken down her walls for. Lips move but there is no sound.

Words had been so easy for Noelle. She crafted stories and poems and epics without breaking a sweat. She has had her fair share of comebacks and debates with her select group of close friends and confidants. And she always knew what needed to be said. Or how to say it.

But now?

Yes wasn’t enough. It couldn’t be. A small word like that couldn’t encompass her feelings, couldn’t describe the lump in her throat, the tears that prick her eyes like thorns, the heartbeat that pounded a steady and quick beat. After a long moment, she carefully fastens the rose in her hair, behind her ear, and meets his eyes. There is a short nod that is followed by many nods, followed by a tighter squeeze, by a breathless response

“Of course”

Just as he had signed minutes ago- they were a constant. And inevitability. And while she was unfamiliar to love, to these feelings that this man stirred in her, she knew in the deepest part of her soul that, no matter what, they were supposed to find each other. That they would always find each other. Noelle finds herself leaning into him even more, placing a soft kiss on his neck, just below his ear. And, as it usually happens, she whispers another soft reply.

"Of course I'll go on a date with you Tobi. A real, proper date."
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Sun Nov 18, 2018 12:08 am
“Thank the lawd.” He smiles and dips his head back against the cool metal gate. The soft laugh that comes out of him echoes quietly in their little space even as the light breeze winds past the same leaves that curled as a favor to the boy beneath them. They shake lightly as the hanging pot sways above the two of them. “Got me right nervous, askin’ a pretty girl out.”

Her arms are still wrapped around his thick middle, her lips are pressed against his neck. In this moment, he could ask for little else. Little else on this fine night, stars above them but hardly visible due to the dim light streaming in through the glass door. He can see Jake through it. Kid’s dozing off in front of the TV playing some movie he doesn’t recognize. One lamps been turned on, filling the Looks warm in there, feels cozy. Feels… homey. Not a feeling he would have ever associated with anywhere but home.

And now he’s got a proper date set up with this little lady. Just about feels like he’s getting everything together. Life finally feels like it’s evening out. Sure, there’s still the issues of money, and tensions on campus, and that damn advisory board, but for tonight, he can forget about that. Jake’s on the couch dozing off full of soup and alcohol and good feelings; his sister is off doing lord knows what with Winter. It feels alright. Feels… alright.


He smiles, soft and warm and calm. His head tilts to press his lips against her head. ‘This is easy. This is right’, he thinks as his arm gently turns her towards him. Lips catch hers in a kiss that’s slow and tender, savoring the night and the feelings there.


There’s a thud then from the living room. Tobi breaks the kiss to look through the glass window and chuffs out a short laugh when he sees what had made the noise. Jake’s lying on the floor now, gangly limbs still half on the couch and completely out.


“Maybe you were right,” he murmurs, amusement in his voice. ‘Maybe we shoul’ continue this inside.”
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Sun Nov 18, 2018 12:34 am
"What, you think I could say no? To you?" Noelle laughs, her breath catching on his neck. "You could ask me to do anything and I'll do it."

There is a moment of silence, and she finally looks back up, meeting his eyes with her own glittering brown "Can we plan for next Friday? For this normal, real and proper date?"

The confidence doesn't waver this time as a smile grows on her lips, her nose crinkling ever so slightly. His lips press against her head and she sighs, happily. It was these moments that made everything so much better, brought everything to perspective. She takes a moment to snap a mental picture, for the days where things were less than perfect. For when Tamara tormented her, for when ink leaked like a sieve, and when she lost all hope as a writer and student. It made it worth it. Worth something.

Tobi turns her to him, and she does easily. Lips meet, as they always do, and she tightens her grip around his waist, fingers rubbing the small of his back, fingers curling to scratch ever so gently. She even hums behind the kiss, her lips buzzing in time with her brain. But, they break rather abruptly to a soft thud. Her head turns and she snorts out a laugh. Jake had faceplanted, as she predicted. His chest rises and falls in time to the song that is playing on the tv- some old, family friendly musical she suspected. Noelle shakes her head and looks at Tobi "Maybe I was. Come on. I know where he keeps his best blankets."

And with that, she slowly stands, sliding the door quietly. The sound fills the night air- a cheery, upbeat musical number the bright colors bouncing off Jake's scarred face, his soft snores heard from the safe, warm comforts of the inside. They were going to need to help the buffoon to his bed- his neck was curled in an awkward position. Noelle shakes her head and gives a hand to Tobi. She knows that she was no way strong enough to support him, to pull him up, but the gesture was there.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Tue Nov 20, 2018 12:01 am
“Hell, I think y’coul’ say no to a lotta things.” He smiles against her “Specially me. I coul’ ask for some dumb shit, y’know. Been known t’ask some dumb shit ‘fore.” He murmurs. A long, low breath escapes him. “Jus’ ask Agnes. She know.” He lets the silence settle around them, lets their conversation lapse with that last sentence. This birthday has turned out pretty right, pretty easy.


’23 ain’t bad,’ he thinks as his eyes close and his head rests soft and easy against hers. ‘Ain’t bad a’tall.’


Her voice breaks the silence then, asking about this real date they’re planning. ‘Friday, huh?’ he thinks. He doesn’t feel like he has anything going on that Friday. Definitely do-able, he thinks. Dinner and dancing, something romantic to get both their minds off what’s happening around them. Not just that though. Just a chance for them to enjoy each other’s company without too many distractions. Hopefully none, but he knows their record. He’s a realistic man.

“Friday’s perfect,” he hums and kisses the top of her head. Another kiss against soft lips follows soon after before being broken by the sudden thud of Jake from the living room. He laughs quietly even as he follows her up and back through the glass door towards Jake halfway on the floor. Something colorful plays on the tv, cute and bouncy and entirely foreign to him. Jake snores on the floor, blissfully ignorant of their approach.

Tobi watches as Noelle grabs a hand, throws the other one towards him. He can see the intent, and he appreciates her at least trying to help. One calloused hand folds the offered hand back over his chest before bending down and gathering the lanky boy in his arms. Even slightly less than sober, Tobi hardly strained to pick up the lanky boy. The only problem was long his freaking limbs were; trying to get a good hold on the kid was like trying to manhandle a wet noodle.


“Where’s his room?” He whispers at Noelle over the gangly, snoring mass in his arms. Jake tries to turn over then, causing Tobi to readjust his grip.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Tue Nov 20, 2018 11:08 pm
Noelle can’t help but giggle as Tobi brings the boy into his arms. She shakes her head as the long face of the redhead dips back, his legs bobbing slightly at any movement. Even passed out, he still managed to have a slight smile playing on his lips, snores escaping between the upturned lips. Noelle is reminded of an eel that was constantly wriggling out of the grip of a fisherman’s arm.

This was really the first time Noelle had a chance to study Jake’s face without him in constant motion. She found herself staring at the inverted cross that was right above his eyebrow that seeped into his skin, the thin triangle burned into his cheek, the long line with a loop that traced his jaw, the Grecian waves that wrapped around his neck and into his shirt line. Noelle had asked Jake about the nature of his abilities. To her understanding, Jake had symbols adorning his body meaning all sorts of things- from alchemical to cultural to historical to unknown. And he could use their power behind his words to manifest their meaning into the world, the only caveat was that it caused blinding pain to wherever the symbol was. He had shown Noelle a couple of his favorite symbols, all of which were accompanied by stories of Jake using his powers to make others laugh, to help the people in his life. It fit.

“It’s this way. Come on.” Noelle whispers, leading to the short hallway off the of the common space of the apartment. Pictures of Trevor adorn the hallway among goofy family portraits, of him smiling and laughing with Jake on camping trips and various roadside attractions. Shadows of memories from a simpler time that Jake found himself avoiding now. The door to his bedroom is plain, but papers and fast food wrappers were scrunched up at the bottom of the door. Noelle nudges Tobi softly, giving a hiss of a whisper “I’m warning you, he lives like a rat. And the scent takes a second to hit.”

And with that, Noelle turned the gold knob and pushes the door open with a force that seems a little excessive, but once the room opens up, it’s understandable why. There was a pile to Noelle’s hips of dirty shirts, pants, jackets, and another laundry that had toppled over as the door pushed it aside. The floor was completely and utterly covered with clothes, comic books, DVDs, CD covers and so much more trash and junk. Half eaten sandwiches dot the dressers, matched with multiple chipped mugs and water glasses with various bright colored liquids. The drawers of the dresser are open and stuffed with various pieces of clothing with no order. A large window is covered by a makeshift curtain made of a tie-dyed tapestry with a bright blue peace symbol.

The bed is a double but was covered in journalism textbooks, headphones, paper, notebooks, and other school supplies. The cornflower duvet was tangled up in a full body pillow and feather comforter, showing the signs of a restless sleeper. A laptop is humming and blinking a blue light on the corner of his bed.

The scent is of dry, dirty laundry and greasy meals that had been eaten throughout the past semester. The musk is thick and takes a moment to identify as something of this world, but it was 100% unedited Jacob McKinley.

Noelle frowns and scrunches her nose at the nonsense. She’s tried to push Jake to be cleaner, more organized. But, she had discovered, the only way to really get him to her standards was to move in.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Wed Nov 21, 2018 12:24 am
Tobi walks down the hallway, his heavy arms full of a man who honestly needs to eat a little more. The bony-ness of the kid is almost worrying. He’s a little less worried when he remembers the way the kid put down food like nothing else; supposed he was just the type who burned through it way too easily. Tobi idly eyes the pictures lining the hallway as Noelle leads him to Jake’s bedroom. Trevor’s still there, just ghostly remnants of easier times that he supposes Jake just doesn’t want to get rid of yet.

Tobi understands that sort of sentiment. His sister had always accused him of the same; the leather jacket still in shreds draped over the back of his desk chair as well as his multitude of quilts were testament to that. She’s the same way, but he’d never say it out loud. It’s more in the lingerie he knows she keeps in her sock drawer, in the tattoo that worked its way up the sides of her hips, in the stuffed animals, cards and photos pinned to the boards in her room. Remnants from past girlfriends that she still looked back on with fondness. Good memories had always been easier for the two of them to hold onto, he hoped it was the same for Jake.

Nice kid, he thinks as he looks down at the idiot in his arms. Smiling even in his sleep, face buried underneath a mess of symbols he doesn’t know the names of. He remembers Jake using one that day, it’s on his neck if he’s remembering right. A lot about that day was still fuzzy.

He hears a thud then as Noelle pushes open the door followed by a much softer sound of clothes and food wrappers being pushed across the floor. “Lawd,” Tobi mutters as he maneuvers himself and Jake sideways through the door. Bare feet kick up various food wrappers, cd cases, an old shirt from some school event Tobi remembers from last year.

“Lawd, this a mess.” He grumbles again as he brings Jake to the bed. Heavy arms nearly toss the lanky kid onto the one space on the bed not currently taken up by books or some other. Jake doesn’t even stir, that same soft grin still stuck on his face. A small, quiet laugh bubbles in Tobi’s chest as he leans forward to turn Jake on his side, and a slight fond smile sticks as he pulls up one of the blankets bundled at the end of the bed to cover the tall beanstalk. Nice to see him rest, he thinks. Kid’s a mess, lives a mess, tries too hard.


Still.


He can feel a part of himself easing into the idea of knowing this kid past a friendly ‘hello’ and an impromptu road trip. The part of himself that’s so incredibly wary of strangers has been pulled loose this night by the warm environment, the alcohol, and kisses sweet as sunshine on a bitter cold porch. Where had that bitter, paranoid old man in him gone?

Pale grey eyes roll at himself before closing with a soft smile. His body turns towards the door and his feet pick their way back to the hallway with caution and an easy grace. He doesn’t want to step on any of the plastic cases on the floor, both to avoid the damage to Jake’s cds and pain to his own bare feet.


“Live like one’a them ‘coons that scare Agnes so bad.” He laughs quietly to himself as he makes it to the hallway. “Room’s worse’n a trash can, I swear.”
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Wed Nov 21, 2018 1:02 am
Noelle snorts and carefully closes the door after them. The snort is a reaction to both Tobi’s gentle tucking in of the Ronald McDonald reject into bed oh so tenderly, and his comment about Jake’s living style. “It’s nonsense. Complete and Total nonsense. I don’t know how he does it.”

She really didn’t. How anyone can live in filth… It was a mystery to her. How had he allowed his room to look like this? This bad? Noelle actually shook her head, moving closer to Tobi as they made their way back out the hallway.

Nonsense.

She walked back into the living room, suddenly excited at the fact that she might get a chance to cuddle next to her man. Oh God, did she really have someone that she labeled them as ‘her man’? The thought was thrilling. There weren’t many things that she considered her own anything. She shared most of her possessions with her sister, and friends were something she wasn’t familiar with. And this? She could get used to this.

An easy smile plays her lip as her hands curl into Tobi’s, leading him to the worn couch. The tv flickered with the bright and cheery musical- two children were singing with their father with a large contraption making them breakfast. Noelle immediately recognized the movie- it was something Joy had loved, but Noelle found it ridiculous. But, the sound was low, and the colors were comforting and bright. Maybe it wouldn’t be too bad. She lays down, curled up on herself, leaving room for Tobi to join her. She pulls the blanket that he brought out to her over her arms, creating a cocoon of warmth that would only become warmer with her own personal heater when he sat near her.

With her wide brown eyes, she looks at Tobi, her soft grin becoming even softer, her hair draped over her shoulder in a sweep. She looks pleasantly tired, her dress still clinging to her body, and her hands still bare. In their rush inside, she had left her gloves outside, completely forgetting about the issue that had plagued them only minutes ago. She carefully kicks off her shoes, and places them at the foot of the couch, stretching her toes in her tights slightly. In a quiet voice, she says a very sheepish “Do you want to join me?”

And cuddle?

That went without words.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Thu Nov 29, 2018 11:35 pm
Tuesday

9:30 PM

Jake McKinley was dying.

Or, to be quite frank, he thought he was dying.

The truth was that he was on the climax of a nasty cold that had plagued him since the weekend before. Perhaps it was his incessant need to walk outside with his hair wet in the frigid Winter air. Maybe it was the fact that a freshman sneezed in his face while waiting in line at the bookstore. Or it could have just been his body catching up with him, as it always did, and punishing him for his Energizer Bunny attitude, forcing him to slow down. Whatever it was, it was driving him crazy. Class had been unbearable- he stuck his head in his arms the entire time, covering any sneezes or wet coughing from his peers. He couldn't focus and he couldn't move, which only made him feel more anxious and trapped. His head felt stuffed, matching his nose, which was chapped from the use of tissues. The worst was the aches- he couldn’t really motivate himself to do anything besides drape himself over the couch and pile blankets on top of him.

It was absolutely dreadful.

Jake finally flipped on a movie- a black and white comedy that was good white noise for his melodramatic staring into the middle distance as he contemplated his illness and it affects. He should write his last will and testament: To my mother, I give my family photos and a collection of beanie babies that I was going to sell, but I kept the wrong ones. To my father, I give my records and cassettes. Most of them were yours. To my darling sisters Edie, Winifred, and Penelope I leave my room and whatever treasures may be found. Mostly trash, but hey, it’s something. To Molly and Fredric, I give whatever movies and video games they could find. And to Steven, my oldest brother, I give my very last fuck. You can look around for any others, but I guarantee that this, indeed, is my last fuck. So congrats, Steven. Shithead.

His thoughts were interrupted by a large sneeze, snot flinging out of his nose, hanging and dripping to his lips. The sneeze had contorted the canvas of his face, distorting shapes and symbols into the folds of his skin. From his lounging position, he reached down and grabbed another Kleenex, wiped the mucus, and shoved the rest in his nose to stop any leakage. God, this was bad. And the worst part about being sick and living alone was that there weren’t people around you to distract from the sick. At home, when one person got sick, it ran through the entire family, knocking each of them down, so there was always company. Here, he had to rely on the kindness from his friends. Which were few and far between. Tobi seemed stressed as heck, so he refrained from texting him. To be honest, they hadn’t really forged a true, one on one connection since back on their little road trip. And even then, they ended it abruptly. Mostly due to the fact that Tobi was unable to speak in a way that Jake understood. And Winter seemed to be down in the dumps about something. He didn’t know what, but he had brought her some muffins and brownies to try and cheer her up. But he wanted to keep a distance. So that brought Jake to Noelle. Which he thought was a great idea, as Jake knew Noelle had been stressed as heck lately. Something about weekly meetings with some professor, tagged with the family problems that reared their head at Tobi’s birthday. Oh. And the fact that her roommate was being a real b-word (Jake’s mother had taught him that you never use that word to describe a woman, and he had honored that rule the best he could). The stories that Noelle had told him about that roommate were very concerning to him. On top of all that, she was still leaking ink for some reason. It sounded like she had no idea why or how from their talk on the top of the roof. When they were stargazing, when she pointed out all those constellations, telling the myths and legends attached to their names. Like Cassiopeia. Or Orion. How her eyes had lit up just like those dots the speckled the sky. Jake liked seeing that side of Noelle. Not the stressed one.

So, he had invited Noelle to come and hang out with his sick ass with a simple text:

Hey! Wanna come over and make some soup?


No response. Which was strange- she was chronic fast texter. So, Jake followed up with a couple more texts, spaced out about forty minutes each:

DUDE! Look at this frickin cat I found! It’s holding a book! It u!

Did you finish that assignment for Prof. Jessup?

NOOOOOOOOOOELLE! I’ve mastered picking things up with my toes!

plz help me im dyin


All with no response. It was strange to say the least. And it honestly left the sick boy feeling a little disheartened- he liked hanging out with that nerd. She was really weird but gave Jake a real sense of belonging, something that he lacked since… well, since Trevor left. But Jake chose not to worry about it- she was probably smooching her boyfriend or got caught up reading a book or writing some mind-bendingly awesome story. Whatever she did for fun. Still, without Noelle there to motivate him, he had made himself a dinner that consisted of week old pizza and a couple of gummy worms. He chased it all down with some milk, which made his mouth feel gluey and overally made him feel even more disgusting. The aftermath of the meal lay on his coffee table.

There’s a rap at his door. Jake shoots up, regretting it imeadiately as he felt fluid drip from his head down to the rest of his body, giving extremem vertigo. He clutched his head for a moment, then raised himself to go to the door, clutching a bright blue duvet around his shoulders. The apartment had changed a little since he had his friends over- the cuboidal armchair had been replaced with a big, tie-died beanbag with the perfect sitting dent and one of the dining chairs was now plastic and angular. Two finds that he was immensely proud of. Also, any surface of the apartment was covered in papers or discs or pictures of superheros that had been cut out in a half hearted attempt in a craft. A couple more pictures adorn the wall too- snapshots of his adventures thrifting with Noelle, a couple from Tobi’s birthday party that he had stolen in a couple moments. Jake’s eyes linger on one of Agnes, the softest smile playing on his lips. Man, she was really neat. Badass, really. He admired that, the badassery. He fortunately saw her back before she left, made her breakfast. It was cute, he had decided, that she ate nearly all of his breakfast groceries for the next week. So cute. So unbelievably cute. But he quickly turned his face away as he catches a picture of Trevor. Jake wanted to take the pictures of his smiling friend down, the ghost of a memory that was no longer with him. That would never be with him again without the tainted image of locusts and acid. The scent of burning flesh. The crumbling of a building.

No.

Better to push it aside and move on. Or, not even move on. Just keep moving. Jake thinks about this quite literally as he drags his feet past the photos and to his door. He lets out another hacking cough, quickly wiping his mouth on his sleeve. He takes the knob, turns it, and opens.

As he sees what was on the otherside, his eyebrows shoot up as he moves out of the way. This seemed serious.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Mon Dec 03, 2018 10:03 pm
Tobi’s feet hit the ground at an almost manic as he blurs past college buildings; the library, the history building, buildings he’s never had any business being in. They all merge together in his mind as he follows paths to a thudding beat he can’t quite hear. The heavy tread of his boots crushes the snow building up underneath him as he tears past the college campus limits and onto the sidewalk that leads into town. The roads are near silent with the sudden onset of the snowstorm, but a moment later, a single headlight crests above the hill he’s been running up. Falling snow blurs the image of it, but it’s a massive army-green Harley, bigger than most seen around campus. Treaded tires carry it easily through the unpaved roads, driven by a rider effortlessly at ease on top of the almost armored machine. Neither gives the other much mind as they make their ways towards their separate destinations. One, away from campus. The other, drawn towards by a call. Green eyes spare just the slightest of glances for the boy running bare armed in the snow.


'Stupid,' the man thinks briefly before turning his focus back towards the road.


The Harley whips past with a rush of wind that blows sharp against Tobi’s skin. The broad-shouldered boy catches himself with his back to the cold and hunches over to shield the bundle of dark fur in his arms. Snowflakes melt as they fall against the fluorescent light humming hot underneath Tobi’s skin. It’s spread now, just marginally, to wrap around his neck and just barely skim the underside of his jaw. The light has taken his ears, is working to clutch at his vocal chords, and steadily creeps up towards his eyes as he continues towards the town now in sight.

There’s no one out on the streets the further he gets into town. Vaguely, he’s aware that’s likely because of the near zero visibility from the snow. His pace slows as he passes storefronts. His chest is on fire, heart beating at a breakneck pace as it does its best to keep pace with what he’s trying to get it to do. He needs to, he coughs as the chill of the air fills his lungs. He needs to keep moving.


“Need to keep moving,’ he thinks. His frigid fingers run absently through Glenn’s fur as he walks.


“Moving,’ he thinks again. The word becomes a mantra in his mind. With each step, it resounds in his mind, an echo that cuts through even the static of the voice’s noise. He doesn’t feel the sinking spread of the light underneath his skin or of the patterns leaking like viscous fluid down his shoulders onto his arms, down his jaw along his windpipe, down his spine onto his hips. He’s bleeding, but not in red.

His feet lead him to an apartment complex he remembers. Past other doors, past other welcome mats until he reaches a set of stairs and the watermelon welcome mat spread there. He shifts the cat to one hand as he raises the other to pound once against the door.

God, he hopes Jake’s home, he thinks as he leans against the wall next to the door. Dark eyes flutter closed against the world, but they’re never really out of it. He hasn’t stopped seeing the strings since they first began to flutter in his vision. They’re still there whether he wants them to be or not, lighting up each connection in stark white. Right now, they swim against his eyelids and are really not helping with the vague sense of nausea he’s feeling, thanks. He steels himself in the open space of Jake’s doorway, eyes closed, nerves and skin burning bright white, and heart hammering heavy behind his ribs. He feels rather than hears or sees the door open, and his eyes respond in kind.

Jake is standing there, looking worse for wear. Eyes bloodshot, nose runny, whole image just a little paler than Tobi remembers. He’d feel bad if he wasn’t occupied with the fact that Noelle no longer exists on this Earth anymore. He pushes past the boy who has enough sense to move aside and close the door behind him. Sharp eyes pin the boy with a deadly sort of serious as he rounds on Jake, trying to tell him what just happened. Words and sounds escape his mouth a little louder than he intends, if only because he can’t hear them. His hands move in a flurry; in his rush to explain he doesn’t remember Jake doesn’t understand. He’s frenzied, exhausted, manic in his motions. Skin burns bleeding white and he pauses to catch his breath with a hacking cough.


Glenn jumps from his arms to escape the shaky hold. He wanders from the boy who brought him here to the taller boy still standing near the doorway. Soft black fur rubs against the other’s legs as Glenn throws himself against Jake with soft purrs and tiny mews.


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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Tue Dec 04, 2018 11:22 pm
Jake blinks

Baffled.

The man that walks through his door with purpose, nerves flaring with light. Not even his nerves anymore- underneath his skin shined bioluminescent streaks as bright as the cool lightning that danced across the sky during the worst storms. He remembered the dining hall, how lights pulsed from his neck to his arm, how it continued to show for weeks afterward, how it still glowed faintly under the skin. How sensitive he had become, how tired. The drive to Virginia, where Tobi had winced while even picking up his mason jar. And that was child’s play compared to this. Tobi was really hurting right now. He had to have been.

Jake cocks the side as Tobi pushes past, moving back to close the door with a soft “click”. He lets out a wet cough but it stops as Tobi’s gaze met his own. Uh Oh. Something really fucked up was going on. He hadn’t seen a gaze like that since… well ever. Well, he had seen glimpses of that seriousness- when a joke went to far, when playful teasing began to have a slight bite. But not to this viscosity. Urgency, fear, doubt, and sadness swirled in those eyes. Jake wilted in that gaze, holding himself against the wall. The light underneath the skin is so bright, too bright to even comprehend any more. So Jake focuses on the dark, on the eyes. Something was wrong, and he was going to need to find out.

Tobi’s mouth opens, and sounds of the earth shake the floor beneath Jake. It’s deafening, it’s too much. And worst of all, it was completely unintelligible. All Jake could understand was the frenzy and mania that accompany the hands in quick sign. Jake couldn’t make head or tail of those gestures; they are too fast, sloped together in rapid motion. Normally, at this point, he was able to catch one or two words, or even letters when things were spelled out. But now? Nothing. Just a flood of sound and gesture that Jake had no idea how to interpret. But that didn't stop the kid from trying, from staring, tracking the movement. Very slowly, very aware of the quick movement, Jake raised his hands in surrender.

“Dude... Dude. You gotta slow down, I can’t understand a thing."

But he wasn’t slowing down, the words and gestures become more frantic, more manic. Jake frowns and watches, his brain whirling trying to figure out what to do. The first thing that seemed amiss was the absence of Noelle Scott. Normally, when one was freaking out, the other wasn’t too far behind fixing the situation. Usually, it was Noelle who was flipping out about school or her family or her busy schedule, and Tobi was there for her in a heartbeat. Jake always knew that she was a stressed-out shamwow that just absorbed everyone else's worries until she was wrung out. And yet, while he hadn’t witnessed it himself, people told him how Noelle had taken control in the dining hall, how she supported Tobi even when he was unsure to join in. She would know what to do! Of course she would! This was the DREAM TEAM. Noelle and Tobi, as long as they were together... They could fix anything! Do anything!

There wasn’t anything to worry about.

Jake pauses his thoughts as the small black cat nuzzles his pant leg, purring loudly. A small smile plays his lips as he leans down, pinching his thumb to the rest of his fingers, allowing the cat to sniff and judge the boy for himself. He couldn't place his finger on where the sight and sound of a black cat seemed familiar. That someone told him about it, maybe? In passing? Jake was unsure where this cat came from, but it seemed friendly enough, acclimated to people. So it was a pet, not a stray, and Jake stroked his coat, scratching at the base of the tail with nimble fingers. Unimpressed, the cat brushed past him and lept onto his worn couch, beginning to knead the blankets there, eyes on Tobi. A louder meow escapes its mouth, needle-sharp teeth exposing themselves for only a moment. Jake followed the cat’s gaze as if it were going to lead to something important.

Oh.

Tobi was shaking, covered in a soft layer of melting snow. Well, water. The snow had melted, probably after hitting that radiant skin. Jake blinked again and sprang into action, grabbing a nearby fleece blanket, draping it over Tobi’s shoulders, careful not to touch the man himself. He felt the power radiated, the danger approaching. But still, he offered a smile, yanking out his tissue in his nose and tossing it into the trash can. And missing. It bounced off the rim, landing on the floor, all sticky and nasty from the snot. But the grin didn't falter.

“Hey, dude, it’s going to be okay. We just gotta go get Noelle. She’ll know what to do, right? Come on, let’s go, she’s probably still at the library or something.”

Jake moves to his kitchen table, to the thick, navy blue winter jacket that he quickly drapes over his pajamas. Once the coat is on, it reveals a warm Ushanka-styled hat, which Jake tugs on over his ears. After only one more sneeze, he turns to Tobi, and in turn, the door. He looked somewhere between delirious and optimistic.

This was a problem that Noelle would be able to fix, for sure.

Jake chose to ignore the unread text messages.

Chose to ignore the weeks of stress and fear seeping into that beanpole of a girl.

Chose to ignore the sinking feeling that hit his chest the longer he stared at Tobi.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Wed Dec 05, 2018 3:18 am
Tobi watches Jake’s mouth move in what he assumes are words. Lips move in silent vowels and consonants, adding nothing to the steady white hum that fills his ears. He’s not understanding, Tobi can’t understand him. He tries to repeat himself in those loud, earth shattering words and silent gestures that loop together in his own strange, bastardized sign language. He can feel his frustration only build as the message just doesn’t click behind Jake’s eyes, a disconnect happening that he just doesn’t know how to bridge.

The desperation builds and bubbles in his chest and up his throat before its forced out through teeth ground tight in a low growl. Jake’s just not understanding, not taking this seriously. ‘Noelle’s gone, damn it,’ he thinks as he stalks the length of the room, pacing. Pacing the length of a room she had been in recently, where there where photos of them on the walls. She had introduced him to some movie he can't remember the name of on that couch, kissed him as some musical number droned on in the background. He'd wrapped her in his arms and promised to talk about their problems in the morning, though the morning had turned into a day which had turned into several. The guilt is eating at him now, sitting heavy in his stomach as he tries to think of a way to fix what's mostly his own fault. Tobi can’t hear, Jake’s not listening, and his skin and heart are burning through themselves trying to keep him on his feet as he searches for her.

There’s nothing though. Farther and farther he looks, but there’s nothing there to find. He can’t find her oh so familiar strings in this town, on campus, or even farther out. That power stretches to its very limit as he pushes farther and farther out into the mountains, up to the sea. He can’t find her, she just left, he was there when she did. Thick booted feet stop in the middle of the floor as cold, calloused hands come up to grip at his hair in thick chunks. As his fingers thread through, the parted hair reveals a spider work pattern of light slowly climbing its way up the nape of his neck and steadily inching further.

Should be able to find her,’ he thinks frantically. Tears born of equal part frustration and ignored pain prick at the corners of his eyes. Then, suddenly, a soft weight floods his overworked senses. His curls bounce as his head whirls around towards the other boy behind him; wide, dark eyes pin him again in their glance. Jake’s smiling, always smiling, always so forcefully optimistic. It’s something Tobi’s always admired and been annoyed by in equal measures. At the moment, though, it infuriates him as he watches Jake pull on some winter clothes: some sort of jacket and strange hat. Tobi’s world goes red as Jake suggests they find Noelle.


It’s only what he’s been trying to tell him since he got here.


Dark eyes narrow even as the spider web of light creeps around his temples and snakes onto his cheekbones. Voices whisper warnings, encouragement, soft words of revenge in his ears, all of which he tries to ignore. Power that had been spread so far condenses to a single point as his anger boils over. He needs Jake to understand; he’s wasting time with every moment he doesn’t.

It takes every bit of power he has but the end result is worth it. There’s a ground shaking thud from the park outside as something slams against the ground; Tobi sinks to his knees as the shaking fades to a dull roar. His heart is thrumming at a near hummingbird pace, his chest is tight from air he just can’t quite catch long enough in his lungs, and his stomach churns. Rough hands grip at the blanket around his body numb from both the cold and the pain and he tucks his face further into the comforting dark it provides. He can’t pass out, can’t relax, even though he can feel the phantom pull of a thousand hands tugging him into that dark rest. Feels the stronger pull of a thousand hands refusing to let him sleep.


Noelle’s still out there. He refuses to believe otherwise.


Glenn hops from his spot on the couch to the floor with a tiny patter of feet. The little black blob of fur makes its way to the man kneeling on the floor with his head wrapped in a blanket and eyes closed to the man standing further away with a growing look of concern on his face. His wandering takes him to the window of the porch glass door. A few steps behind him, Tobi rises shakily to his feet to follow the little cat slowly. A door is pulled open, letting the frigid air and soft smatter of snow from the outdoors fall light into the warm apartment. The wind rolls through Tobi’s curls as he stands at the threshold of the patio door, waiting for Jake. Small snowflakes fall and melt in a hiss of steam against the man’s brightly lit and bare shoulders and arms.


Outside, carved deep into the earth and snow of the park below them is a single word.


GONE.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:23 am
THUD

Jake stops his agitated fingers from pulling up his zipper as the sound travels from outside into the apartment. His ever-present grin falters as he looks at Tobi’s gaze, that burning, pointed glare. Jake gathered that maybe, possibly, that perhaps he had misread this conversation. God, he was such an idiot. A fucking idiot. He knew Tobi was hurting, he shouldn’t have assumed ANYTHING. And now, the poor kid was falling, power radiating off of him like a rolling wave.

Goddamnit.

Tobi sinks to the floor and Jake follows him, eyes going wide, any semblance of that mischevious glint gone. A hesitant hand reaches out and gently lands on the blanketed shoulder. Dark streaks of… something stained Tobi’s hair, which stuck out funny after he had begun to pull it from the root. Coupled with the bright, flaring nerves and dark eyes, Jake was unsure whether he should laugh or pee himself. Whatever was happening was fucked. And Tobi wasn’t going to be the rock right now. Jake had to. He had to step up.

Step up.

Jake forced himself to keep his eyes open as his own father’s words rang in his brain, rattling like a screw loose. Years and years of plastering on a smile, saying a joke, give the room something else to focus on besides the shit hitting the fan. And there was always someone else to really take charge: His father, his older sister, his older brothers. Someone, anyone besides himself. At the end of the day, he knew one thing about himself; Jake was dependable, but he wasn’t really a leader.

But he had to be.

That small black cat jumps from the couch, wandering to Tobi, ears twitching ever so slightly. It purrs as it rubs its body on his legs, and moves towards Jake, meeting his stare with those yellow eyes. Jake stays fixed on the cat as it wanders to the glass door, watching Tobi stand and follow and pulls it open with a soft tug. Cold, bitter air floods into the warm apartment, snow fluttering and landing on the wood floor. Jake frowns, standing, following. What in the-

Holy shit.

Gone?

GONE?

Jake’s mind went into a flurry of thoughts. The cat. The freak-out. The ignored messages. The black streaks of caked much in Tobi’s hair. That sfour-letter letter word of sunken earth and snow. Gone.

Noelle was gone.

No, Noelle is gone.

“Oh shit,” Jake murmurs, without thinking “Oh shit. Fuck. Fuck! It must be the ink… Oh God, if it… Oh God…”

Jake blinks, short breaths escaping his lips, but his body absolutely still. He assumed that Noelle had told Tobi about her ink, about the interaction he witnessed at the dining hall. How she was being sucked down into the ground, her hand spreading it onto her creation. How her eyes had gotten wide as she was stuck in place. And how she never got a handle on it afterwards, really. His brain rackets around in his mind as he creates a plan, a fluid motion of attack. How, only moments later, he would bob from point A to B to C. How he can help Tobi, Noelle, everyone. But, he can’t tear his gaze from the park. The park that, according to Noelle, was where hse first developed her little crush on the mess of a man. Where her mother got to know him, where her sister had climbed that huge tree in the center, swinging from branch to branch. Fingers begin to drum on the front pocket of his winter coat, about to go into action.

One.

Two.

Three.

In a flash, Jake os back inside, running to his room. Glenn gives a short meow, peeking back at the strange stick man. Ears twitch again as the soft FLTHP of a peeling command strip, the soft jangle of keys, and finally the sound of a zipper. Jake returns back, still in his winter clothes, now with a navy blue backpack slung on his back, a set of car keys in one hand. In the other was a used and dirt dry-erase board calendar with a magnetic marker. In his quickness, he rubbed off most of the words on his t-shirt, but faded reminents of “Meeting” and “Paper Due” remain in some spots. He tosses both the keys and the backpack on his couch in a fluid motion, turning to the dense man, a new, wild energy sparking behind his eyes, his lips upturned in a determined smile.

“Okay. Listen. We are going to find her. No matter what happens, take me to the car and I’ll direct you where we need to go. You can not, no matter what, let me pass out. Okay?” Jake pauses for a second, shaking out his shoulders “I don’t know what’ll happen if I pass out if it’ll work or not. Just make sure I stay awake, okay? Oh and this is for you.”

Jake hands Tobi the dry-erase calendar and the marker while saying quickly, eyes flashing with utter seriousness“ I really appreciate the effort, but we can’t be moving dirt like that for you to tell me what you need. Because you’ll burn yourself through."

His gaze lands on the nerves that glow dangerously around his face. He didn't want to see that grow anymore " And we can’t have you burning through before we even find her... “

Jake now takes a step back, a hand brushing his stomach for a moment. He closes his eyes, preparing for the worst, preparing for the pain the best he can. Jake knew that what he had planned was risky, was something he very seldom did. Words caused pain, but he usually used modern interpretations of his symbols. Age and names carried power, which carried hurt. But he had to call on everything in his arsenal to get this girl back. So, before Tobi could stop him, he spoke.

“VEGVISIR”

As soon as the word left his mouth, Jake crumpled to the floor, his head smacking the wood. He was bent over himself, clutching his stomach in agony. His face twisted, contorted, squeezed out a sharp bark of torment that was something between a snarl, whimper, and bellow. Among the noise that escaped his lips, there is the acidic hiss of a brand, the scent of burnt flesh rising to meet the noses of the rooms inhabitants. White spots flooded Jake’s vision as his face grew red, then purple, then blue from the pressure of containing all of the pain, fingers fanning out and scratching the wood beneath him. Blood pounded in his ears, the pain from his abdomen raidiating upwards.. Even the remenents of the word rippled off the room, like a stone cast onto a smooth lake. The power bounced off the walls, unfocused and unplanned. For a moment, in his torture, Jake thought it didn’t work.

Glenn hissed as a soft, small trail of light appears at Jake’s borken body, wrapping around him, and zooming out the front door. Yet, Jake makes no effort to follow it. He focuses on stopping the world spinning around him, forcing the bile down his throat again. Retching, Jake stares at the floor, convulsing. The white spots that plagued his eyesight began to connect, making his head lull back for a moment as he continued to shake.

But he had to stay awake.
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Wed Dec 12, 2018 11:11 am
Tobi stands at the doorway of the porch, watching Jake look down at his handiwork. Words engraved in dirt and snow stand in stark contrast to the smooth white snow around it, churned up by borrowed power and his own desperate bid to be understood. He can feel the flakes flutter past and land soft on his nose and lashes, can feel the lightest of patter on his bare arms. It’s cold, he assumes. He can’t really tell with the way the light burns warm under his limbs.

Snow crusted lashes flutter close shut as he tries to catch his breath. It’s coming in shuddering soft gasps and long drawn out attempts to catch the frigid winter air in his lungs. Pinprick sharp bits of frost slip past his chapped lips to pinch uncomfortably against the walls of his chest. He’s always hated winter and every breath taken in the colder months reminds him of why. His stubble crusted face twists in a pained wince as he coughs wetly. Each hack pushes the light incrementally closer, spreads it softly further up his face.

Tobi doesn’t see the red that trickles from the corner of his mouth at the end of his coughing fit. His hand raises to wipe at the wet he feels, and that’s that. Jake’s freaking out next to him but his words don’t pierce the haze of white noise in Tobi’s head. What he can feel though, is Jake turning next to him and going back inside. His head turns to follow the movement only to catch Jake coming back out of his room carrying both a backpack and a… whiteboard? Jake tosses it to him. Calloused hands wrap around the wooden frame and yes, that’s a whiteboard. A marker follows and Tobi holds the both of them in his hands, slightly confused and a little bewildered. A whiteboard. Sharp eyes look between the two of them for a moment before anything clicks in his burned-out mind.

A small noise slips from his mouth as he finally realizes the thing’s purpose. He catch’s Jake in his stare, watches his mouth move in words that just don’t quite register to the man. Jake’s telling him something, something that seems serious judging by the look in his eye. Tobi’s never quite seen that look on Jake. Jake’s a man of smiles and laughter, of loud and maybe not thought out enough words. He’s never seen quite that serious of a look on the man and honestly? He’s not a fan. He’s glad he’s finally taking it the way he wants him too, but boy. Look like that feels wrong.

He’s about to write on the board and ask what Jake has planned when he sees the other boy open his mouth. There’s a smell a lot like burning flesh and Jake crumples to the floor in a graceless heap. He might have smacked his head on the way down too, Tobi hadn’t had the best angle to see. He’s about to run forward to help him when he notices something new in his line of vision: a new string. Not the vivid white he’s used to, but a bright shimmering gold. It emanates from Jake and winds through the room and out the front door; Tobi stares after it for a long while.

Jake must have done something, some word from his body must have burned a little deeper for the sake of this line. Jake had understood his message, used his powers to help. Tobi looks between Jake on the floor, convulsing and in pain to the glittering string going out the door and presumably leading back to Noelle. Jake on the floor, gagging. String out the door leading to the woman who disappeared in front of him. Jake, or the string.


Jake or Noelle.


There’s a long pause where Tobi does nothing but look between the man and the strange golden string amidst all the other strings in his vision. A long moment where he just thinks. But then, one foot after the other, he bolts for the door and out of it, following the string.

‘Jake’ll be fine’, he thinks to himself as his feet pound down the steps to the ground floor. ‘Fine,’ he thinks again as he jumps the last few steps onto the pavement. Tobi runs after the shimmering golden string like there’s nothing more in this world that he wants and right now? He’s sure that’s the truth. He wants to see Noelle again so damn bad, wants to know that she’s okay, wants to fix whatever it is that has her hurting so bad. He wants her in his arms again and whole. He wants her back, he thinks as feet pound the pavement in a staccato rhythm. He follows the golden string in front of him with an intensity he’s never given the other bright white strings in his vision.

A few more steps though, and he can see the line begin to flicker and fade, eventually disappearing and leaving only golden specks behind to float lazily through the air like a luminescent afterthought. His body eases into a stop as the light does, and he watches it go with an air of disbelief. He can’t believe this is happening again. Again, he had been so close to finding Noelle. Again, the opportunity is lost before he even gets anywhere. Pale grey eyes stare blankly at the space where the line once was and try to remember where it had been headed, but he can’t remember.


He can’t remember.


He can’t remember.


‘God DAMMIT.’ He thinks over the noise in his head and smashes his fist into the nearest wall. He can’t hear the bones in his knuckles crack against the concrete, but he sure feels them a moment later. A dull ache, numbed by the chill of the air and his own adrenaline, pulses from the cracked knuckles while bright red seeps from the skin torn from the concrete. He stands there for a moment in the softly falling snow and the clinical white of the world. A moment more, and he turns back up the stairs towards Jake’s apartment.


Dots of blood mark his path in the snow.


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


He enters Jake’s apartment with steps a little heavier than when he left and closes the door quietly behind him with a soft click. A quick glance at the room; Jake’s still on the floor, most likely passed out. Probably why the line disappeared. He should have figured, should have known. Tobi’s feet take him to Jake on the floor and his hands gently turn the boy over. No head wound. Still breathing.


Check and check.


Must have just passed out from the pain of the thing, he thinks blearily. Dark eyes stare down at the boy and he can’t help but find some sort of dark amusement in the whole situation. Even when he was trying his best to be serious, Jake still manages to knock himself out. He huffs out a small, empty laugh. Fantastic.

Rough hands slip under the man and pull him up to flip him onto the couch. Least he can do is make Jake more comfortable until he wakes up again. ‘Can do that right, least.’ He thinks. A pillow is slipped under Jake’s head and from there, Tobi settles himself in the chair on the other side of the couch. He can’t relax the way he is right now, not with Noelle missing and his heart thrumming harder than anything. With his hand still bleeding from cracked knuckles and Jake passed out on the couch. With the voices in his head shouting their advice and encouragement and their hands pulling him a million different ways as they try to find her. His eyes close as he leans forward to rest his hands against his temples. It hurts.


“Please,” he trills tiredly in his strange language. “Please shut up.”


They don’t listen. They never do.


.


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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

on Wed Dec 12, 2018 11:52 pm
Jake didn’t really see Tobi run away.

He was too busy writhing around in agony, his heartbeat peppering his thin ribs. Sweat fell in sheets down his face, down his neck from the sprouting uptick of fever and pain. He curled in on himself for a moment but recoiled as the skin on his abdomen folded over onto itself, creating a white-hot memory of the hissing, puckering flesh that just burned itself into the lining of his stomach. Jake screwed his eyes shut, his face contorted in a war mask of pain. He stays like that for a couple moments. Seconds. Minutes.

He opens his eyes.

The door had been swung open. The room was quiet. The only thing left was the pain, the scent of burning flesh, and a small black cat that sat next to Jake’s head, giving off a soft mew. Without a second thought, Jake reached out to the floor in front of him, raising himself onto his hands and knees. It takes a while, his lungs squeezing themselves dry, his arms shaking, his vision doubling in the pain. But he reaches forward, crawling, nails scraping the well-loved floor.

One.

The trail of light that had wrapped around him in a tight, warm hug was burning a little too brightly now. It burned his eyes into his sockets, giving off a heat that was too much. It was all too much- from the physical harm that always accompanied his powers, to the emotional strain from finding out that Noelle, one of his best friends, had up and disappeared. Coupled with the fact that, in his haste to help, the guy looking for her also up and left. Jake turned his head downwards, away from the light. Gotta stay focused. With even more strain, Jake raised another arm, reaching forward.

Two.

Was this even worth it? Even if he, somehow, crawled outside and found himself at Tobi’s feet, he knew that he wouldn’t be able to keep up. He was fudging crawling across his kitchen floor, at a snail's pace. The burning had now outstretched, reaching his back, his chest, his neck.

Yet.

He had to push through, move through the pain. If Jake passed out if he stopped if he gave up? There would be no telling how much time they would have wasted. That he would have wasted. So, he had to keep moving. He had to. For Tobi. For Noelle. For-

thud
-----
Jake fell face first onto the floor, his body shuddering as his consciousness left him. His left hand was outstretched, symbols and runes meaning a million different things stretch with him. But, after a moment, everything goes limp and cold. The cold, blizzardy wind sweeps from the open sliding door that both of the men had neglected to close. The freeze sweeps the room, fogging up the windows slowly. Jake lays there for minutes, his body completely wrapped in the cold.

As his awareness leaves him, so does that shimmery string of gold light. It fizzles and fades, dissipating with the lanky man’s short and labored breaths. The soft glow fills the room for a moment, giving warmth, giving clarity, before completely disappearing.

A soft pad of paws as Glenn moves behind Jake, pressing his small body against the boy for warmth. The small cat yawned, exposing those pointed teeth once again. A subtle twitch of the ear and the quick shake of a small head before lamplit eyes blink open. They are larger and wider than most cats, just as his owner had eyes wider than most humans.

The small black cat must have known something was going on. He was in a new space with a new person, a person who was passed out on the cold floor. A person that smelled strange, who was even larger than Noelle.

He didn’t look too large now. Crumpled on the floor, folded on himself. Sad. Strange. But the little cat stayed by the body, for warmth and comfort. It began to purr, to close his eyes. To sleep. But shot up on his paws as Tobi’s feet crossed the threshold. In a quiet, soft motion, the cat weaved between the legs of the buffer man, nuzzling his ankles as he moved to Jake, picking him up in a quick motion. Blood dotted the floor as he walked over to the couch, where the lanky kid fell with a soft plop. The cat sat up, eyes now following the other man as he settled himself in the armchair, hands on his temple, face screwed in concentration. The cat waited until the soft trill of birds left the space before slinking over. A quick blur and the cat is on Tobi’s lap, nuzzling the thick forearm before leaping up onto his shoulder.

Another moment and the cat is purring and headbutting the man, nestling itself into the nape of his neck. And the cat stays there for a while, a small comfort and reminder of what is lost. And what will be found?
--
Jake woke up with a death gasp, shooting upright.

It had been at least an hour. An hour of a contorted face that gleamed with sweat, short breaths and feverish heat. But he wakes up with a start, his head snapping around the room. Confused, in pain. Jake groans as it hits him. Tobi. Noelle. The park. The lightning etched around his friends face. The pain. God the pain. He looked down at his body, at where he felt the heat radiate. From his move to the couch, he saw that his t-shirt hiked up a bit. He reaches down to cover himself, but Tobi gets a glimpse of the puckered and swollen skin from the branded symbol on his torso. From his navel sprouts eight lines, spokes of something like a whee, except at the end, they were each pronged in different ways at each end. It is surrounded by a ring that reaches right beneath his sternum and right at the hem of his pants. Otherwise, his stomach was almost hollow looking, caved in on itself, the red and freshly blistered skin even more noticeable and unnatural looking.

“Shit…” Jake gave a soft moan, laying back, turning his gaze to Tobi. He rubs his face, squeezing the space between his eyes, and finally really looks at the boy. The light was reaching his face, his hands were torn. Jake knew a fit of anger- he’d seen ripped knuckles like that not too long ago in a forest in Pennsylvania. Without thinking about the repercussions, Jake reached for the hand. He ignored the splintering the pain and spoke.

“HEAL”

Another gasp as hands go to his left side, his face screwed up tightly, skin once again hissing. But, as expected, the bones popped back into place, the flesh knitted together. Hell, even the light subsides for a moment, the bright light etching his nerves fading away, before returning slowly, albeit a little faded. Jake curls up on himself again, a soft whimper escaping his lips. He was lucky, if he hadn't been careful, he could have set off a chain reaction of healing symbology that would have knocked him into next week.

Get it together McKinley.

He breathes, he blinks, and he sits up again. Slowly. Turning attention to Tobi “Hey. Sorry, I took myself out… Didn’t think it would be that bad.”

In truth, it hadn’t been that bad since he was a kid. He rarely used titles and real names for his symbols. It was one of the first times that Jake had used his powers with such intense focus AND the real name of a symbol. It was no wonder the pain took him out- but he still resented it. Resented himself. For failing. That's all he was; a big, fat failure. Couldn't even use his mutation right.

But, through a pained grin, Jake lays his gaze on Tobi “Not saying I can't handle it. I can... Ready to try again?”
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Re: Jules, Connecticut: Parkview Apartments

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