Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Allycat
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Allycat 〖 ωєєв qυєєи 〗

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While You Were Away


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Elliot could feel his heart skip a beat as his friend rested her head on his shoulder, her voice sounded so soft and tired. He couldn't imagine just how hard this was for her and as much as he wanted to take all the pain away and magically have Lily back he knew that wouldn't happen. No, he would have to be strong and help Elizabeth through this...even if it meant putting his own grief and hurt aside. No matter how much his heart hurt or how much he might have wanted to run away, he would have to stay and make sure his best friend was okay.

It wasn't long though before the small moment of peace was shattered, the Sheriff had walked up to the podium and had begun to speak. Beside him Liz straightened in her seat, her grip on his hand growing ever tighter. He could feel the tension in the room grow as they all waited for something concrete, he could imagine many of them hoping for some sign that Lily Turner was still alive. Though as the sheriff spoke it was clear that they were no closer to finding the lost girl, just the thought of Lily possibly suffering somewhere made his heart twist.

Lily's mother's voice echoed through the room as she pleaded for someone to find her daughter, to bring her back to them. Elliot clenched his teeth in anger, why was this happening to them? Lily was such a wonderful and happy person, who would want to ruin such a beautiful life? The normally calm and shy boy felt like he wanted to punch something, to get all these jumbled up feelings out of his system. It didn't help when the mayor announced that they would keep the fair going.

"Are they serious?" He breathed, Liz would have been the only one to hear him. His eyes narrowed, he had never felt so angry before. This was no time for a fair, who would want to ride on stuff and eat cotton candy at a time like this? No, they should be working harder instead to find Lily! His free hand clenched as he tried to get himself under control, he took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, he had to remember that he had to be there for Liz. Just like this was no time for a stupid fair this almost wasn't the time for him to act out.

Soon the media swarmed the podium and began to ask dozens of questions, though Elliot zoned out. This was all too real, too heartbreaking. "How can I stay strong for my friend when I feel so many emotions? How can I help her when I feel like I can't even help myself?" He thought, he had never felt so angry and sad before. Though it wasn't long before the boy was pulled from his troubled thoughts, apparently the mayors house was on fire. A look on confusion passed over his face - there was no way that could be a coincidence could it? Lily goes missing, then on the day when practically the whole town in gathered in one area her home goes up in flames.

"Stop thinking like that, it'll only get you in trouble." His mind told him and soon the place started clearing. Elliot looked at Liz as she spoke to him, his eyes growing soft as he stared at her. "Not really...you'd think they would have more to tell us." He said, he wouldn't have been surprised if they did know a lot more and were just keeping it to themselves. He shivered, maybe they were just trying to spare them from knowing if something gruesome had happened to Lily. He looked down when her hand left his, he could see her own shaking. "It's probably just a coincidence, with so much going on they probably left something on or lit." He tried to reassure her but he didn't even believe his own words.

"Pizza sounds pretty good right now" He said with a comforting smile, before he could say anything else a familiar face came up to them. It was his old teacher, Olivander. He could feel his face turn a soft shade of red when the old man spoke about him and then winked. He didn't say anything but gave a small wave when the older man walked away, his eyes looking to Liz once more. "Come on, there can't be many places open today. I don't want to wait forever, I think my stomach might end up shrinking." He said with a small laugh, hoping that somehow he could make this heavy feeling in his chest lighten up, and maybe in the process make Liz feel even a little better.
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Aviaire
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Aviaire it is raining again

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interactions: @BeastofDestiny

Vanessa watched the conference with feigned disinterest, huffing every so often, but in truth, she listened a little too closely to every word. She was disappointed by the complete lack of helpful information given to assist with her impromptu investigation (which she had just decided to start, whether she actually stuck with it was up for debate). Lilian's family seemed to be in a bit of a state. Understandable, though the awful bit of Vanessa was a little grated by all of the crying. They were doing interviews and taking tips now - which was great, but also indicated that they hadn't really gotten anywhere with the investigation so far.

She was very surprised about the fair. Nothing quite like continuing your potentially dead daughter's event while you struggled to find her. Vanessa could only hope that despite everything that had happened, the atmosphere of the fair wouldn't be too dampened. They were all sad, but they could still enjoy themselves. Lily would probably want it, but Vanessa also wanted it a good deal.

She perked up at the questions section, mentally taking note of the alleged item of clothing that had been found. Opal Lake, the forest near it. That could come in handy for later. However, it was soon cut short before she could ask anything of her own. She didn't catch the exact reason, too lost in her own thoughts to pay enough attention. As everyone began to leave, she stood up too, a little disappointed. Then, she was approached by some old man. She recognised him as the one that had been with Elizabeth earlier, though she didn't know who he was herself.

"University?" Vanessa said, confused. "Oh- oh, right. Absolutely not. I do not go there. Don't plan to either." She watched as he began to walk off, considering his offer. Screw it, she might as well. "Thanks," she muttered, taking one of the business cards with the hotline number as they left. "What's the point of this, anyway? I might look like Lily, but I don't know anything about where she is. What, do you?"
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Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by Rabidporcupine
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Rabidporcupine The Deity of Degeneracy

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@Kitty
"Mhmmm." Jeremy replied simply. "And you do realize that bad people can go to your theater too, right? We are living in a town with a kidnapper and/or murderer. No telling who they are, or where they go, or whether or not they're movie buffs."

He started rubbing his chin, deep in thought, as a small, tired grin grew on his face.

"Still, it's a little surprising." He whispered to himself. "To think that I'd keep running into mysteries even after Hannah... Looks like it might be time for Detective Dogman to come out of retirement."

No sooner had he said this that he heard the shouting. A fire at the mayors house, huh?

"And that's our cue, I guess..."

He turned back to Pepper, an almost nostalgic feeling coming over him as he realised what he might be about to get himself involved in.

"Hey Pep, this is gonna sound crazy, but do you wanna he-"

She wasn't there. What? When did she leave? He could swear she was right there just a second ago, but now she wasn't. It was like she'd just vanished into thin air! He shivered, as a second, more unnerving feeling of nostalgia washed over him, before realising he was wasting time. He'd probably run into her and the others at some point anyway.

It wasn't long before he reached the scene of the fire, slowing down as he saw that, while by no means small, it at least looked like the firefighters were managing to contain it. As he drove over, watching them work, he noticed a young woman leaning against a nice looking motorbike, smoking and drinking and seeming genuinely relaxed as she watched the blaze. He almost considered asking her for if she'd consider lending him one of her cigarettes, before remembering that he was trying to quit. That being said, it didn't stop him from stopping his scooter not far from where she was, joining her in watching the fire.

"Don't suppose you've got anything left in that bottle, huh?" He asked, sitting against the scooter. "I've only been here two days, and everything's already gone to shit. 's like the all that crazy's followed me here."
Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by TootsiePop
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TootsiePop

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Interacting with: those talking at the conference
more specifically: @The Muse @BeastofDestiny @Allycat @Aviaire @Jun
→ those at the Mayor's house @Kitty





Sitting in the crowd, with his terrible disguise on, Damon clenched his teeth, trying to hold his tongue. What was the news now? Absolutely nothing. And he couldn't help but revisit a dark place in his mind. This wouldn't be the first time he waited for answers and solutions. Honestly, the main reason he loved Lily so much was because of...

"It'll be okay, big brother." Sitting at her bedside, his fingers interlocked with her frail ones, Damon looked at a young girl with thin, blonde hair. She was his half-sister. A child his mother had with another man that wasn't his father and yet, her kind and wide smile made him love her more than he could explain. While the old TV hanging from the ceiling played some sort of cartoon, he stared dejectedly at her.

Her beautiful blonde hair was shedding more and more each day. It was hard to look at her failing health and not be able to do anything about it. He wanted to save her but this was beyond his control. While the room itself felt like there was no beauty and hope in sight, the center of it, where his sister laid brightened the atmosphere. Brightened the hearts of those that watched her get worse. He'd think she'd be the most frightened, the most scared of them all... but her spirits kept everyone else looking forward to seeing her tomorrow.

That shouldn't be her job.

She shouldn't have to fight this on her own.

He should be strong for her, but why couldn't he? Why was this hard to deal with? Why couldn't he pretend that he saw a silver lining in all this? Why... did she have to be sick? His growing despair was interrupted by her angelic voice, "Thank you for the lilies. They're beautiful." She comfortingly squeezed his hands, never looking away from his sad gaze.

"Anytime, Lula." Tallulah Robinson was truly a light in this world and didn't deserve to be in this bleak room, with such a stagnant smell, and wall paint that reminded everyone of this unfolding nightmare. He couldn't lose her. He didn't want to. How would he be able to wake up every morning, knowing she no longer was in his life? That she joined other angels and would be dancing in the sky, playing her acoustic guitar and soothing them to rest. He didn't want her to die.

In silence, he watched her pull her delicate hands away from him and reach for a red leather notebook, by the vase of lilies. She grabbed a hold of it and weakly pushed it towards him, "Can you promise me something?"

Confused, he looked at the notebook that waited for him. Why was she giving him her songbook? This was one of her most cherished items. He simply responded with a dumbfounded expression, lifelessly blinking as he expected her to continue. After she let out a couple of coughs, she deeply swallowed and quietly asked, "When you're ready, can you make my songs? I want people to hear them. I know they're not your sound, but it would be nice if these lyrics reached someone."

Tears started trailing down his cheeks, he reached for the book but didn't pull them out of her hands, "What are you saying? These are for you to sing and play, not me... we'll go to the studio tomorrow!" For the first time, in a long time, Lula gave a broken pout that had her heartache written all over it. Her green eyes were like music from a great orchestra, where the violins were playing, and it showed her inevitable acceptance of her fate.

"Please, Damon?" She desperately begged him.

There was an insatiable fire that burnt all the oxygen out of his body, leaving him empty.

He was so selfish.

An unsettling stillness filled the room. He couldn't handle it. Getting up, he placed the book on his chair and gently laid beside her. Wrapping his arms around her, he kissed her forehead and whispered, "...I promise."

This was the least he could do, until her dying day.

"Please, someone find my baby! Tell me where she is!"


Damon brought his forlorn stare to Lily's mother and grimaced, realizing how useless this meeting was turning out to be. No leads? Are they fucking serious? Article clothing... Opal lake... fire... mayor's house... fire.... mayor's house... FIRE! Damon was close enough to catch the whispering and jolted up in his position. Talking loud enough so he could be heard while everyone was rushing, he spat, "This was a waste of everyone's time."

His eyes widened when he thought of the one thing that was most definitely in that house, that Lily cherished. Instinctively, he started booking it, running right through Elizabeth and Elliot, pushing their shoulders. "Shit, sorry!" He barely paid any attention to the boy with the glasses, who wasn't too far behind them (Kei). DDay's gold-plated Walkman (which has an endless amount of music on it, including songs of his in the works) fell to the ground, which he didn't notice. The music player had his initials on it: D.A.D.

Running outside, passing the entrance where Ollivander and Vanessa were chatting, even stopping for a second to do a double take as he noticed how much the girl looked like his beloved friend, he eventually found his ride and yelled, "CREED. LILY'S." The manager heavily sighed. He knew things would only be made worse if he refused. He just hoped this wasn't a mistake.

While Damon was in the car, he threw off his glasses, teared off the wig, and took out his contacts which would surely dry up in the heat. After unbuttoning his plaid shirt and tying it around his mouth (in hopes that would prevent him from getting too much smoke damage), he revealed his white tank.

"What... are you planning to do?" Something dumb most likely. Hopefully the paramedics were there.

"If Angel is still alive, I do not want her to find out that Pearl has gone to kitty heaven!" The rational thing to do was to drive away from the blazing house, so his client didn't get himself killed. However, Creed knew Damon had enough guilt and regret in his life and maybe, just maybe this would be good for publicity. He wouldn't be far behind if Damon took too long. Sighing once more, Creed decided it was for the best to enable the reckless behavior as they pulled in front of the house.

"Just... come back, alive."

After giving a cheesy grin and a thumbs up, DDay threw the door open. There were a lot of people on the scene, although that wouldn't stop him. He knew parkour! He didn't see Mirai drinking across the street, or the Turners arriving moments after him. The dark-haired celebrity was focused on one thing and one thing only, so he charged forward abandoning all his fears and inhibitions. Firefighters and the police tried to stop the manic boy, but he swiftly dodged them. Too fast! Like he did earlier, he broke a window, but this time kicking it until he could get through it.

"What are you DOING?" A firefighter tried to grab his arm and pull him by force, which was only rewarded with Damian pushing the shit out of the service member, out of his way.

"Back the fuck off! PEARL IS IN THERE."

"Who is Pearl?!" Another man yelled, frustrated at the stupidity being displayed.

Without answering, the idol climbed into the window and disappeared within the smoking building that was caught ablaze. Perhaps, Damon had a hero complex and didn't know he did - he just needed to save this cat. He had lost enough already.

Pulling up by the Turners' vehicle, Creed exited the car with furrowed eyebrows. "I hope you know that idiot loves your daughter."

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Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Jun
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Jun

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As most of those attending the assembly rose, so did Kei. An orderly procession, though, soon turned into a scurry as news of the fire spread among the crowd. Kei was surprised at how quickly the report moved. Would it be so quick for the community to learn that D-Day was a suspect? It might not take too long either once the fire investigators and detectives saw the camera footage, grainy and far away but fully showing the musician's shirt on camera, and as they discovered the bit of it that was snagged on a Turner property tree. D-Day would be the prime suspect of the arson, and perhaps, also, Lily's disappearance.

"Sorry!"

Kei was pulled out of his stupor by a man with a bad wig and...he soon realized, as the stranger passed between Elliot and Ellie, that it was the very one currently in his thoughts: D-Day. He was in a hurry, which bothered Kei...where was he headed? Kei quickly followed, so quickly that he stepped on a protrusion that almost made him trip. Looking down, Kei saw something so gaudy that he knew it could belong only to Damon—a gold-plated Walkman.

His mind raced—should he pick it up? The old Kei, meaning the one from mere hours ago, would have returned it to Damon, even though he despised the man. But this new creature, one seemingly forged in the flames of the Turner's burning home, could only think this: What a perfect opportunity to implicate this imbecile even further.

Kei looked up to see D-Day literally running out the door. Instinctively, he knew where the celebrity was headed. The presence of that shirt in Lily’s closet meant that Damon had some sort of special relationship with her, just as Kei did. And like Kei, he must have spent time in Lily's room. Blood rose to the high schooler's head as he imagined the worst, that he was not special, like Lily said, that he was one of a line of boys that shared Lily's bed.

Breathe, Kei told himself. You knew Lily...you KNOW Lily. She is the person you think she is.

Kei glanced at the Walkman at his foot—he knew it wasn't needed to implicate Damon further, but more than that, a rush of regret spilled over him. The guilt of what he'd done, what he was still doing, was overwhelming Kei. As much as he hated Damon, Kei realized that the tables had turned: Kei was the one doing wrong, the one who had perpetrated an evil. And as such, he wondered, Was Lily’s assessment of me wrong after all?

He would think about that later, about his complicated feelings and the things he'd done, but first, he had to do something else. Kei walked away from the Walkman, leaving it to be found by someone else, and walked in a direction opposite of the whole town, it seemed. While they walked toward the blaze he had set, Kei ran home.

~~~~~~


There were only two people that had ever known Kei for who he really was. The town saw him as some great hope, as one who was both an "intruder" but also a model of what a newcomer could be, someone popular, diligent, intelligent, who would eventually leave to an Ivy League institution, to which he would indeed be headed after graduation. But Lily knew him for who we really was, for all the complications and complexities within.

The other person who knew that Kei was far from perfect, though, was someone he met even before Lily—but only minutes before.

Up until his sophomore year in high school, Kei attended school, conducted his club activities, and went home, where he studied for hours and hours each night. He hated that life, for he hated his home—a suffocating mother and a raging father who took out all his frustration from work, all his frustrations in life, out physically on his mom, and verbally on him. So to stay away from home, Kei began to go to the ice cream parlor, to study there, but it was a distracting placed, sticky and filled with loud families. So one day—he remembered it well, an autumn day, October 30th, the day before Halloween—Kei grabbed his books and walked over to the Cosy Bear Cafe for the first time.

It was moderately busy that afternoon, but Kei found a small table to himself. He sat and worked through his studies as he drank down caramel frap after caramel frap. Even when studying, Kei always made sure to look the part of the conscientious young man, the type who carried groceries for old ladies while still being admired by guys and loved by girls. But that day, only for half a minute, he failed to keep up the phony face. Kei's mom and dad had a particularly vicious fight earlier—she yelled back at him that morning, which she never did, and never did again after how it turned out. He felt sorry for his mom, but only for a moment, because if truth be told, he hated her more than he did his dad.

And so a sorrowful expression washed over Kei's face for just a bit, not one of sadness for his mom, but for himself, which was when a beautiful young woman—still older than him, and apparently a waitress—sat in the empty chair next to his.

“You alright, sweetie?” Elizabeth gently smiled as she slid into the seat across from the dark-haired boy who had been brooding at table 9 for some time. “You haven’t ordered anything besides those coffee drinks… what can I get you to eat? On the house.” She winked at him playfully, her smile turning into a smirk.

Maybe Elizabeth was just analyzing things too closely, as she typically did, but she had a gut feeling that all was not right in this young man’s life. Although he kept himself busy, she felt that something was off; Lily would often call her an “empath” for picking up on various peoples’ “vibes” or energy this way. Or, perhaps it was just whatever homework he was currently keeping himself occupied with… Either way, it did no harm to the business to offer a free meal here and there. Hopefully she could help him in some way, even if she was reading too far into her own assumptions about a complete stranger.

Elizabeth was right of course—he was not alright. Kei, on the other hand, had no idea how to read the young lady. Truth be told, he was just taken aback at how well she seemed to read him. Maybe she had some special ability, or maybe this was just what it was to be mature?

“Uh, I uh, well…” he stammered.

No, he thought—she’s not typical. This woman is quite sharp. Of all the places to study, he picked an establishment with a waitress that was far smarter than he.

Kei laughed and cleared his throat. “Yes to the second question—your croissants have been calling me all afternoon. And no to the first. I...don’t usually share, and maybe this is more than you want to know, but home life has been hard. It’s really bad actually. I can’t wait to get away...and today, I feel like I would be willing to do so by any means.

But yeah, this is so strange of me to share so much! What I would normally say is, ‘I really like this cafe! And my name,’” he continued, holding out his hand, “‘Is Kei.’”

Elizabeth chuckled, “Don’t worry, you don’t have to pretend here. I don’t mind. It’s really nice to meet you, Kei.” She shook his hand, remaining unphased by how he had just opened up to her. Since she began working at the restaurant, Elizabeth had quickly learned that waitresses and bartenders typically became the public's part-time therapist (especially the bartenders). “You can call me Ellie.” She stood from her chair, deciding not to address the issue right then. “Croissant, coming right up. Sit tight!”

A few moments later she reappeared from the kitchen, a plate full of croissants in hand. “Here you go. It’s still not real food… buuuuut… I suppose it’ll do for now.” She set the plate down in front of him and took her seat back at the table. “I’m sorry about your home life…” She averted her gaze from his, looking at the papers he had been studying. “Mine hasn’t been the best either, so I get it… But hey, life goes on right? C’est la vie!” She met his gaze again, “You just have to try and stay positive… things will work out in the end. They always do.”

“You know…” She paused, considering what she was about to say. “We do have an opening here at the cafe… if you need any excuse to leave home, or have a distraction… I’d gladly hire you as one of our busboys, if you want.”

As Ellie spoke, Kei gently tore a piece from one of the croissants and considered her words. Things will work out in the end. But how could she know that? Rationally, Kei knew that couldn’t be true, not always. Wasn’t a phrase like that just empty semantics, a platitude that you say to someone when you just don’t know what else to say?

But looking at Elizabeth, Kei knew that she meant what she said, and more than that, her own experiences must have bore them out to be true. Logic out the window, Kei felt that a story was just beginning, some sort of journey, a way out of his broken household not built upon what his parents willed, but a new way that he could not yet see, on a path that was still overgrown and filled with people he was just now meeting, like Ellie, and others, perhaps, he didn’t yet know.

And so when the offer came from her lips, Kei paused only for a second, for he knew this was just right. He knew he could trust this woman, despite meeting her just five minutes prior, that this meeting was serendipitous, the beginning of something great as it started with something small—a basket of croissants and a job bussing tables.

“Ellie...thank you. I accept.”

"Yay! I'm so glad. Interviewing can be such a pain. I have a good feeling about you, Kei." She grinned, ignoring the nagging voice in her head telling her that she would have to explain the sudden hire to her father. He would understand… eventually.

"I know it might be strange to say, but… if the cafe isn't open for some reason and you need somewhere to go, I want you to know that my family's home is always open for you." This would be harder to explain to her father, if Kei ever utilized it, but Elizabeth couldn't stop herself. She had a soft spot for situations like this. When her mom had passed away she had felt so alone and lost. If she could help another person who was feeling the same way, it would mean the world to her.

"There is one person I have to get approval from before you start, though…" She giggled before swiveling in her seat to look across the room. "Lil!" An ebony haired woman looked up from the chocolate milkshake she had been stirring around, lighting up with a smile upon seeing Elizabeth. "C'mere! I've got someone for you to meet."

~~~~~~


Kei was drowning in tears as he reached his door—the memories of that day, of first meeting Ellie, who would become his confidante, and of Lily. Oh, Lily…

She wasn’t there, of course, but in a sense she was. Kei thought of Lily as always being with him, though they didn’t see each other daily, sometimes not even weekly. It even terrified him sometimes to know how much passion he felt toward Lily, the only person he loved—the only person, Kei occasionally thought, he had ever loved.

But that thought wasn’t accurate. Kei loved his parents deeply, once, when he was young. Even when they did wrong, Kei blamed himself, for after all, in a young man’s thinking, his parents couldn’t be wrong. But when he became an adolescent, Kei realized what his parents really were, and he lost his love for them, replacing it with rage and hate, feelings that could have overtaken him if not for Lily, if not for that someone he came to love fiercely.

What Kei didn’t realize was that in just mere days, the hole within him that a missing Lily left was being consumed again by bitterness. When you depend fully on someone else, if that person leaves, you’re left with what you had before—and what Kei had was emptiness and fire. It was no wonder that his body reacted as it did at the Turners’ residence, setting the house aflame. It was merely what was within his heart spilling over.

Kei wiped his face, violently pushing away sweat and tears, and entered the home. He witnessed the usual—his father at the table, on his day off, reading a newspaper, and his mother cooking.

"What you do here," Kei's mom asked. "No school?"

"Today's the assembly," Kei said, almost in a whisper, as he walked toward her in the kitchen, near the utensil drawers.

"Hmm," replied his father, all-knowing as usual.

"Ah, crazy day," his mother went on. "They's also fire today. Mayor house all burn down!"

"Yeah," Kei responded, building up his courage through the lump in his throat. He opened the drawer while looking at his parents, and felt around—forks, spoons, and knives.

"That's why I'm here."

Kei's parents both looked up.

He took another breath and looked to the sky, as if he could see someone there. In fact, he could. In the short time that Lily had been missing, Kei had been having visions of her. They were hard to explain: It wasn’t while he slept, and he knew they weren’t real. Kei felt that he was making them up somehow, these visions of Lily all in white. She would speak to him with different phrases and words, but mostly this one over and over: “You can do it, Kei. You are strong enough to do it.”
And so it was this time as well.

His hand caressed a knife, the one he’d always sharpened at his father’s command. He held it for a second as he looked his parents in the eyes.

He took one more deep breath—and then the decision was made.

~~~~~~


The walk was long and hot as Kei carried all that he now had left in the world—clothes and few other possessions in two Adidas bags. It was a suffocating walk as he dealt with his injuries. He vomited twice, but refused to stop walking because he was already late, having texted Ellie who told him where she was, and that he should come as well.

As he neared the destination, Kei touched a slightly swollen eye. His dad had rarely disciplined his son physically, and had never hit him in anger. But today was different, and Kei had been ready for it. He had been strong, as Lily told him to be. Strength, in that moment, meant to not give in to some temptation or ridiculous notion as he did earlier in the day. No, he would not do something from which there was no return.

Kei had let go of the knife and pulled his hand out of the kitchen drawer, and told his parents the truth: "This morning, I broke into Mayor Turner's house because I wanted to visit his daughter's room. She and I have been having an affair. And I was so upset… that I burned the mayor's house down."

There he waited for his father’s response. His admission to arson was the worst thing possible, not because of his son's damaged character, but because of the shame it would bring their family. Kei's father, a man with fists like steel, soon responded to the shocking admission: he hit his son over and over and over again—at first in the face, but then with the knowledge that Kei would be questioned about a bloody face, into his body. The pain was overwhelming, but it was the price Kei would willingly pay for what would come next. Kei would be strong because this assault was the cutting of the string that would set him free.

"You no longer my son! You leave this house! Never come back!"

The words of freedom had rung through the air—Kei's father was telling him to leave. He would not have to be part of this family any longer; he had been tossed out of it. And while Kei knew that his father would hide this moment and not tell anyone that he disowned his son, the ties had been effectively cut.

And now, he was free.

His face swollen and a bit blue, with a lip cut but no longer bleeding, Kei didn't look as bad as he felt. Most of the damage was underneath his shirt. Everything hurt—he could barely hold onto the bags slung over his shoulders, but it was fine because Kei had made it there, outside the pizzeria where Ellie said she was headed. It was fine because he remembered that conversation in October with Ellie, where she sweetly and genuinely told him she would take him in. A chapter that started that autumn day in the café was now almost complete.

Through beaten lips, Kei smiled, and for the second time today, wiped his tears and put his hand on a door.

“Son, can I speak with you a minute?”

Kei turned around and with a gulp of surprise, saw the one person he did not want to see.

Sheriff Spade continued, “There's been a fire." He looked behind and then back at Kei. "And I have a few questions I need to ask."
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Hidden 1 mo ago Post by BeastofDestiny
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BeastofDestiny Truly a noble and majestic Beast

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A collaboration between Ollivander @BeastofDestiny & Vanessa @Aviaire
with mention of Disguised-D @TootsiePop


So she wasn’t a student? Well to each their own. Ollivander wasn’t one to chide someone for their life choices, even if he were, as a ‘molder of minds’ his tools and skills would only go so far on the proverbial ‘unwilling clay’. Still, the historian was surprised when the young woman told him that she didn’t attend university, and while he should have been equally as surprised that she followed him anyway, he couldn’t exactly blame her either given the circumstances. After all he had given her an out based on an assumption, whether that was offensive or not didn’t seem to matter, as he was sure her newfound identity catastrophe was far more concerning than the misjudgements of an aged man. Clearly it was as she started with the obvious question about her likeness in appearance to the missing Lillian or if he knew of her whereabouts.

Sighing wearily he began to answer, “Sadly I do not know of Ms. Turner’s current whereabouts. I imagine if anyone did there would be no point in the formality of a town meeting or of this… fracas over there.” He flung his arm wide at the frantically, flabbergasted frenzy of news cast and crew, panickedly packing their gear. There was plenty of shouting coming from that direction, drowned only by their vehicles horns as they tried to clamber away, like carrion vultures ready to pick apart their next meal. While the morning edition of the paper was likely to display the events taken today, Ollivander had no doubt in his mind that the evening news would flourish an over embellished story of the meeting and subsequent fire.

Turning back to his new acquaintance he continued to answer her question, “Lillian Turner is somewhat of a town celebrity if you will, a treasured presence. If there was an event to be held, regardless of its nature, whether it be political, educational, or purely entertainment she’d find some way to participate in its planning and development. When Ms. Turner went missing, the town went into a bit of a tizzy and those closest to her suddenly became lost. To say that her sudden disappearance is a tragedy would be a gross understatement.” He let that sink in for a moment before continuing, “I suppose that brings us back to you, for upon closer inspection you don’t match her appearance, from a distance anyone could mistake you for her, as you just recently experienced.” Ollivander shrugged slightly before giving a knowing smile, “Colour me curious, I’d simply call it ‘being in the wrong place at the wrong time’, at best you’d most likely just receive looks of bewilderment.” As if on cue, a smartly dressed young man came bolting by, only stopping for the briefest of moments with a look of confusion in his face before spiriting away. Raising his cane up, pointing the butt of it towards the increasing silhouette, Ollivander gave a small chuckle, “If nothing else, I’d call that a rather sterling example.”

Vanessa nodded along as the old man kept on talking, regarding their surroundings with mild interest. More people in one place than she'd ever seen before here. It was good to get reassurance on the fact that she wasn't going to be constantly bombarded with the attention of anyone who even knew Lillian, though at the same time, she wouldn't be too surprised about the odd identity theft inquiry. "Not like short hair and a fringe is the most outlandish haircut," she yawned. "Guess people are gettin' a little desperate, though. If she's really that great... you can see why."

She frowned slightly as some guy did a double take at her. Have I seen that guy before? Maybe just around town. Damn, I know too many people with weird fashion taste to put a name on him. The old man laughed (who was he, anyway?), but Vanessa didn't find much humour in the sudden realisation that this was far from the last time anyone would do that. Instead, she groaned. "Just hope something is found before it gets worse. Can't believe they dragged us out here, at this time of day," Vanessa said, ignoring the fact that the conference was at noon, "and then they didn't even tell us anything! Like, what was the point."

Right after they'd had the conference, a whole new slew of other problems had come up too. Vanessa hadn't even known that that there were that many people in Emerald City. Much less that one had vanished off the face of the earth, that one was an arsonist, and there might even be a murderer sprinkled in.

Oh god, she could be friends with a murderer.

That irritating part of her brain also pointed out that she could be talking to a murderer right now, and she told it to shut up. He seemed nice enough, and Vanessa sincerely doubted his ability to commit any kind of crime. Not when he used the word 'tizzy' with a straight face.

There was some humor to be found in her words, although the old man in him simply wanted to shake his head; honestly, today’s youth and their inability to get a good night’s rest. “I suppose you might have had a point if you were in some kind of Metropolis, you’d practically blend into the crowd with your unassuming locks. In a city of a couple thousand, where most everybody knows everybody else,” He paused briefly, head tilted quizzically to the side as though he were trying to come up with a solution. “Perhaps you need a wide brimmed hat in the interim? Preferably one made of straw...that would certainly fit the ‘farm-to-table’ attitude the city still has.”

All joking aside, she did raise questions that were most appropo, what was the point of the whole damned thing today? The news of Lillian’s disappearance wasn’t exactly new, and anyone who didn’t know was living under a rock. If there was no new information to be had and considering the town was both small enough, and the news recent enough, why would there be a reason to reiterate the point? If this was for some kind of political or financial gain, it’d be disgusting to say the least, but the Turner family was known to rise to the occasion, not milk blood from stone for every bad situation. Maybe the police were looking for a potential guilty party to show up at the meeting? If a potential suspect was involved in Lillian’s disappearance, would they be so bold enough to come?

"A hat, huh? Like, I don't wanna cut my hair, but it would take ages to grow out," Vanessa murmured, as if she were actually considering it. “Still, there's no way they haven't found anything, right?" She faintly remembered the question about the lake, and what was found there. "People don't just disappear. That's like, not how it works."

“True enough, but if anything has been discovered, clearly no one is interested in bringing it to light.” Despite his companion’s attitude coming off as disinterest, she at least had a reason for voicing her concerns, at least on the bias of youthful optimism if nothing else. People don’t just disappear… at least not without cause or reason, but life wasn’t fair like that. The damsel doesn’t always get rescued, the dragon doesn’t always get slain, and mysteries like these don’t get solved by misguided, meddlesome juvenile-adolescents with a snack-crazed bloodhound. “If something good was found I’m sure it would have been told already, meeting or not. If it were something less than ideal, however, then they wouldn’t want to incite any more panic than the city is most likely already feeling.” He paused in place, a hand stroking his beard in thought, “That still doesn’t explain why they put on this ‘show’ for today….”

"Sometimes I just wanna be an important person so that I can know all the stuff going on behind the scenes, y'know? Looks like they just wanted to tell us stuff. Yeah, that's useful, but it's not the most interesting," Vanessa said. "I get that they're like, not telling us everything for reasons, but there's probably something we should know in there somewhere." Her tone was a little irritated but she got the point across. Vanessa really did hate being left out of things, no matter whether it was shopping trips or details on a potential murder case.

"Sucks that someone got to the mayor's house though. Takes a special kinda bastard to do that while things are like this." She grimaced, the disapproval plain on her face. "Makes you wonder if it's related to Lily going missing. Like, if the same people were involved." The whole situation was unusual, even more odd than one would expect someone vanishing without a trace would be. Too many questions, and not nearly enough answers. As a matter of fact, no answers at all.

She wasn't even sure why she was telling this guy so much. There was something that seemed honest in the way he spoke. Perhaps she was just sick of not having anyone to discuss her thoughts with. Either way, she could worry (or regret) about these things later. One thing she didn't mention, however, were her thoughts about Lillian. Vanessa didn't know her too well, but if she was truly loved as much as everyone made it out to be, then something of this sort wouldn't have happened. There had to be something else going on, some kind of secrets hidden somewhere. If there weren't, well, she just wasn't looking well enough. She added that to her ever growing list of things to get done too. She already had enough stuff to do, so a little bit more couldn't hurt.

“Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back,” the phrase elicited another chuckle from the aged man. “For someone who appears so adamantly against formal education, you don’t seem to shy away from seeking answers.” Despite the amusement, there was a certain level of respect in his tone, admiration even. Vanessa flushed a little, though kept her composure. “This town has gone through quite a bit lately, a lot of questions needing to be asked without any answers to follow up on, and as the string of crimes grows longer, all we can hope for is that they’re not related to one another.” Regardless of relation or not, would it even make a difference in a matter of safety or comfort? Probably not, but the Turner family has suffered enough without needing to be the victim over and over again.

The two were closing in on his vehicle and Ollivander couldn’t help but give a sidelong glance to the young woman beside him. She was a rather inquisitive soul and he could understand the level of frustration she was feeling, after all, no one liked to be left in the dark, not even him, still… “Even with my own personal investment in Ms. Turner’s disappearance I’m far too old to be diving headlong into mysteries and adventures, and am more than content to let the authorities handle these sort of things themselves.” He stepped off the sidewalk and rounded the front of the old Ford, popping over the driver side door, but not getting in, not just yet. “Eventually the answers we’re looking for will come to light and I’m sure if someone curious dug deep enough, they’d find those answers sooner than others.” He traced his fingers along the roof of the car, “Though for me to suggest something like that to just anyone would be rather bold if not...what was the word you used? Outlandish?” Ollivander gave a small, knowing smile to his companion, “I thank you for joining me in our walk and talk, and greatly appreciated your company, miss…?” Ollivander realized they never properly introduced themselves to one another, rather rude and embarrassing of him, though he was more than likely caught up in the conversation.

”Oh, uh, Evans. Vanessa Evans, that is. Yeah, it was nice to chat. Thanks for getting me out of the Community Centre, like, unharmed.” She gave a slight smile to the old man, with just a hint of mischievousness. ”Right, and your name is?”
“It was truly my pleasure, Ms. Evans,” Ollivander bowed his head slightly in respect, well aware of the lightheartedness in her tone. “As for my name, I am--” As if she had remembered something all of a sudden. Vanessa checked the time on her phone, and cursed softly. She really had to get home soon. She had to go to work in a few hours and god knows that she needed to make the most out of every minute before then (meaning she would be doing a lot of nothing and still somehow being late). ”God, I really gotta get going. See you ‘round? As in, definitely not doing anything related to what we’ve just been talking about.” She waved at him, taking a step back. ”Bye, then.

Before he could get another word in edgewise, the young woman darted off, leaving Ollivander’s mind in a rather awkward end point. All he could do was muster the willpower to focus, gently stroking his beard, before thinking, “What a rather peculiar girl…” She was right though, the time was getting late and Silas would have his head if Ollivander kept the dean waiting any longer than necessary. With a shrug, the elder lowered himself into his car seat and, starting the Crown Vic, began to drive away towards the campus. Noting the smoke in the distance from the recently announced blaze, he made mental detours of which routes to take to avoid the emergency services. All the while his mind wandered to his most recent acquaintance and of Lillian Turner. Considering their near doppelganger appearance, Ollivander hoped that Vanessa wouldn’t be mistaken for the other, lest a literal ‘copycat crime’ were to be committed. In that regard, Ollivander certainly hoped that the next time he saw the young woman, she’d be wearing that hat he’d recommended.
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Hidden 24 days ago Post by The Muse
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“We’ll get through this my dear, a day at a time. You know where to find me if you need me, take care now.”

Elizabeth forced a smile as Ollivander took his leave. His words were what most people said when they didn't know what else to say; she remembered hearing similar things when her mother died. It was time for another round, it seemed. Nonetheless, she knew that everyone meant well when they said them and she had been just as guilty at saying these cliche things. It didn't necessarily help, but everyone had to find a way to move on... somehow.

"Thank you, Mr. Clarke... I'll see you around."

"Kiddo," Her fathers gruff voice came from behind, a hand lightly grasping her shoulder in a reassuring way. Elizabeth turned to face him, fighting the urge to cry at the tired sight of him. "I'm gonna get the boys home... I don't want them running off to the fire, you know how they are..." Johnathon's dark eyes moved to Elliot, a boy he trusted to take care of his daughter. He met eyes with the younger boy, giving him a knowing look.

Elizbeth nodded, "I'll see you at home a little later." She glanced over at Elliot, who she could tell her father was putting responsibility on without even saying the words; they had all known each other long enough to read facial expressions. She didn't want this for Elliot, or anyone. No one should have to take care of her or worry over her. She was supposed to be the one taking care of other people. "Get it together..."

"Come on, there can't be many places open today. I don't want to wait forever, I think my stomach might end up shrinking."

She smiled at his comment, but did not reciprocate his light laugh. She just couldn't bring herself to do it. "I can drive u-" Shoved to the side, the red head stumbled forward, glaring green eyes darting up to see who had just pushed her and her last remaining best friend out of the way. "Hey!"

"Shit, sorry!"

Clattering to the ground, a gold plated walkman fell out of the man's pocket and bounced a couple times off the floor. She looked down, noticing the initials plastered for all to see. D.A.D. "Damon?" She looked back up, watching the man move anyone out of the way who was between him and the exit. The celebrity was clearly disguised in some awful outfit which barely accomplished anything. Her mind sent her back to the last night she had seen Lily. One of the last things Lily had said to her was that she was going to Damon's house... A shiver ran through her body, eyes staring forward as if into an empty void while the memory flashed images through her minds eye. Throughout these brief flashbacks, Elizabeth completely missed Kei making an exit from the community center.

Heart racing once again, Elizabeth dragged herself out from the memory. She blinked a few times before stepping away from Elliot, quickly scooping up the Walkman and holding it close to her chest. She would return this to Damon... at some point. She had not talked to him since Lillian went missing. Did he have something to do with this? What did he know? What did Lily say? Where did she go afterwards? She hadn't reached out to him previously because she had been too afraid of what might have been said when Lily went to visit him in the middle of the night, worked up from an argument.

Shoving the Walkman into her orange hoodie's front pocket, Elizabeth turned back to Elliot. "I was saying - I'll drive. Let's get some pizza."


2:00 pm | Mario's Pizzeria



Elizabeth wasn't exactly sure what to say to Elliot on their drive over, which took a little longer than expected due to traffic coming out of the community center. The roads were not prepared for that sort of influx confined in one area. Most of the media crews trying to hurry their way out to the "big fire" had not made anything any easier. Still, Elliot's presence was appreciated and even comforting. They didn't have to say things just to fill the empty air and that was nice.

When they had first entered the restaurant her phone had buzzed to indicate an incoming text message.

Kei Aiba
"Can we hangout?"

She didn't find it odd that he wanted to be around other people, just like her. It helped to numb the pain of Lily's absence a little bit. She knew that he had been friends with Lillian as well, hanging out from time to time. She quickly wrote back, "Of course. Elliot and I are at Mario's Pizzeria. About to order, want me to get you something?"

While standing in line to order, Elizabeth turned to Elliot, "I invited Kei to come meet us, I hope you don't mind." She gestured to her phone, "He just texted me." She knew that Elliot probably wouldn't mind, he was always such a sweetheart.

Ten minutes later, orders made, the pair sat down at a booth fit for four people. Elizabeth sat opposite of Elliot and quietly awaited their small pizza orders to be brought to the table. Settling back into her chair, she searched her mind for a topic and glued her eyes to the stained ceiling tiles of the restaurant. Something in her mind told her to make small talk, avoid the elephant in the room, keep things light and happy. However, the thought of making small talk made her skin crawl. She had to address it, and who better to talk about it with than Elliot? She could trust him.

"When was the last time you talked to Lil?" She met her eyes with Elliot again, surprising herself that she had asked without hesitation.

Distracted by the sound of rattling bells attached to the pizzeria door, Elizabeth looked towards the entrance. At first she smiled, realizing that Kei had already made it to the pizzeria. Then she noticed the way his face looked even from afar, along with the sheriff moving quickly to catch up with him.

"Kei?" His name escaped her mouth as she began to slide out of the booth, giving Elliot a worried look. Hurriedly, she walked out of the pizzeria and held the door open, locking eyes with the sheriff. "Is everything okay?" Her eyes moved back and forth between sheriff Spade and Kei, lingering on Kei's face. "Kei, what happened?" She went to touch his cheek in a motherly way before stopping herself, not wanting to press too hard and hurt him in the process.

"Afternoon, Ms. Baker." The sheriff looked over Kei, just now seeing that the boy looked a little beaten and blue in the face. "Kei's bike, which was registered with us, was found near the Turner's house. I just need to know why it was left there. Are you okay, son?"

Elizabeth's face was ridden with confusion. She looked to Kei again, "Did someone hurt you, Kei? While you were there?"

"Ms. Baker, please go back inside. This will only take a few moments. He is not under arrest." His voice was stern as he looked at Elizabeth, no longer wanting her to possibly influence the words that Kei would have answered.

Elizabeth paused, staring down the sheriff. The anger simmering deep within her over Lillian threatened to boil over, even though this was not the time or the place. She bit the inside of her lower lip, as if to physically stop herself from saying anything stupid. Why did she feel so much more impulsive than usual? Sheriff Spade did have this towns best interest... didn't he?

After what seemed like a good five minute stare down, fire in her eyes, Elizabeth took a step back into the restaurant, "Fine." She removed her angry gaze from the sheriff and looked to Kei. "I'll see you inside, okay?" Finally, she re-entered the restaurant and slowly made her way back to the table.
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