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Timestamp: Around the start of the game
Location: Mr. Fell’s classroom
Tally and Sin
@BrutalBx and @Aces Away

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It was a war of attrition.

Who could hold out the longest?

PLC v The Toxics.

A tale as old as time; a tale that Tallulah Venetia Stratton could give two flying fucks about.

The whole Stratton empire of Beverly Hills High School was not one that Tally ever particularly wanted to be a part of, it was something that she inherited from her older sister Scarlett, whom had inherited it from her cousin and so on and so forth and at the end of it all was just a bunch of rich white people selling drugs for the sake of it or to feel some kind of rush. The Stratton/Van Cise clan didn’t need the money, there were not hard up people. If life was a dance on a pinhead, they were hanging off the edge of it by their manicured fingertips.

Tallulah was the youngest Stratton, Alexandria, her twin, her soulmate, was a few minutes older. Whilst their other sister Scarlett was a few years ahead of them. At first glance, one would not think that the two girls were twins. They were not identical and between the two of them, a mixed heritage of Jewish, Romani and Argentinian was prevalent on their skin. Even when lined up with their cousins, Theo and Bronwyn, there was not much that would give them away as relatives…save their attitudes.

To be a Stratton was to be bad to the bone, to be dangerous and was to be better than anyone else. It was built into them from before birth, it was in their DNA. To be birthed into her family meant that whatever path Tally chose in life, she had to be the best, nothing else would be worthy of her blood. Theo was a superior athlete and Lex was a rockstar. The flame haired Tallulah loved to cook, her desire to open a place of her own in the future had been a dream since she was a girl. But the world of recipes and boiling points was not the type of completion that was adored in her family. It wasn’t as cutthroat as business or politics. That was probably why she picked up her first skate and surf boards when she was ten. No Stratton had dominated extreme sports, yet.

There was one other thing that Tally was better at than most, sex. She had learned relatively early that she was a beauty incomparable to any other. Tallulah oozed sensuality and she knew how to wield her body, her mind and her soul like a bladed weapon and she knew how to do it almost instinctively. She could remember, quite vividly, when the looks in the eyes of both the boys and girls in her life changed from indifference to desire. She could remember the stir in her own body, the excitement and tingle to give them what they wanted, to give them a bit of Tally. It was exhilarating and once she’d had a taste, the toxic thirst became insatiable. Men, women, teachers, cops, all different, all sharing the same want…they wanted her.

Unlike her cousin, Tallulah had learned a very valuable lesson from her grandfather, keep it professional. Theo had a tendency to mix business with pleasure, messing with the emotions of his prey and torturing them for fun. Lex too was set upon a dangerous path. With their grandfather's advice to take the PLC supply, it meant manipulating the little firecracker called Addie. Tally had nothing against the girl personally, she was just working for the wrong side, Lex just saw a target, she had been truly stung by the losses of Everly and Neveah from their group. The younger twin's pleasure did not come from the corruption of the innocent or the downing of a foe, hers came from the outside, from the flavour of a good dish or the taste of the beautiful set of lips.

Speaking of tastes…

Tallulah awaited a taste at that moment. Everyone had rushed off to the game which meant the school was basically empty and she just so happened to have the key to the sociology classroom, thanks uncle Matt. It was the perfect place to meet her version of pleasure, a feisty blonde with a name as addicting as her body, Sin. As Tally leaned against her uncle's desk, her weight against her flat palms and her outfit more daring than a man ready to jump a canyon on a motorbike, she pondered how much longer she had before the path of her family opened up before her. She wondered if it was even possible to stray from it. As far as she knew, no one ever had before.

Sinead walked confidently down the hallway to her destination, slowly wiping any evidence of her irritation with her brother Rian off her face as she went. The blonde man, despite having been the one to decide for them both after Sin’s short juvie stint that they would forsake their legacies as the heirs to Gravette’s very own Dullahans MC and move, had just twenty minutes ago loaded up his saddle bags and headed back to their hometown without her. Sin had been against it back then, especially when he’d wanted to try and dissolve the mother charter completely, but when Poppy had found Decky’s uncles and the Boaz brothers had needed support in their journey, Sin had softened her stance just slightly and agreed with Rian to leave with the boys, while also convincing him to simply leave the club in good hands. And he had, it was just that sometimes there were Donaghue specific secrets and knowledge that required him to return, some shit still in his name needed to be signed or approved, and he had to make the long trip back to Gravette for a few days to sort things out. Sometimes, he tells Sin to load up her bike and join him. Most times, she’s left home alone for the better part of a week. Obviously, this time was like most times.

The older she got the less well it sat with her. If she was in Gravette still, she’d have completed her prospect period and been patched in already instead of struggling to recreate and experience that club feeling on her rides to and from school with Monarch and the Boaz brothers. She’d be able to see her brother-in- law and annoy her nephews every day in person instead of over video chats. Rian only brings her back with him when he needs information that their father or their sister Fiona shared with Sin and Sin alone, knowledge and history that had been bestowed upon her in preparation for her to have a place at the club’s table amidst her family, both blood and bonded. But of their blood, it was just Rian and Sin left, only two of many remaining to bear the weight of generations worth of responsibility and dynamic, and Rian had made the choice to leave it all behind, not her, yet he got to return the most. So, hiding her irritation and hoping for some fun distraction it was.

And what a wonderful distraction that lay beyond the door Sin had come up to. Tallulah Stratton could distract Sin like no other, her touch like ignited gunpowder trailing heat down her skin and her gaze that set a fire in her core and kept it stoked. She opened the door silently and closed it the same once she’d gotten to the other side of the barrier, locking it behind her and turning to the girl with hair as orange as the molten metal Sin loved to mold. She smirked at the taller’s pose against the desk and took her all in, striding forward until she was standing in front of her with her hands resting on either side of Tally’s own on the surface. With their faces inches apart, Sin’s smirk became even more playful and she tilted her head slightly while she looked between Tally’s crystalline blue eyes and her alluring lips.

“Well hey there, were you waitin’ in the dark here just for lil’ ol’ me?”

“Baby, I don’t just wait in the dark.” Tallulah purred like only she could, her words carried on a whisper, directly between Sinead’s lips and into her mouth. She shifted her position, lacing her fingers with her biker girl’s and standing further upright. Tally was the taller of the two bombshells but not by much. Everyone knew Sin to be a powerful presence, a raw presence that could not be controlled or ignored and to behold her was to be in awe. That’s what everyone else would see. The toxic gypsy saw what others could not, she experienced what others daren’t even try. She had seen and made Sinead submit.

“Mami, is the dark.” Tallulah, like a venomous snake, fleetingly licked the lips of her pretty prey before snatching her fully into her embrace, constricting and binding her with her strong limbs. She flipped their positions, forcing Sin onto the table and lingering over her, ready to strike with her fangs.

It was no secret amongst the vapid peers of Beverly Hills that Tally had her fingers in many pies. It was a Stratton hallmark. One of which was her OnlyFans. She didn’t care for the weirdos who wanted pictures of her big toes and dirty underwear, or the ones that knew she was still in school and wanted her in pigtails and sucking on a lollipop; to her that was just easy money. It wasn’t until one day, she saw a new subscriber and her interest was piqued. She didn’t need to do much sleuthing to figure out that it was one Sinead Donaghue, a girl that had been buying drugs from her and Lexie on the regular since she turned up from her trailer park or wherever it was she came from. Tally was nothing if not intrigued but she could say she was surprised. She knew how good she looked and she also knew what the girl really wanted whenever she bought her drugs. The look in the eyes always gave it away. Which was why the next time they met, Tally did give it away and Sinead gave her something back; she wasn’t sure exactly what it was but it felt like the biker’s soul.

“You missed me.” Tallulah didn’t ask questions, she spoke in facts. The hunger in her lover's soft blue eyes was comparable to a starving nation. Her mouth lingered over Sin’s as she spoke, gently caressing her lips with every word. “You were very obvious today with the princess and your friend at the stairs.” Beneath the bravado, Tally had seen Sinead at her most vulnerable, it wasn’t something she hid well, or at least it wasn’t in the presence of hell's favourite harlot. “My girl had a rough day?”

Sin was pliable beneath Tally's actions, following along easily and letting herself get caught in Tally's coiled grip. It was so liberating to not be the one in control, and to not want to be. It had started off as just drugs, of course, being new to California and needing a new plug, she'd found the Strattons quicker than even Decky or Monarch. She'd established the connection with the twins, but very quickly realised that it was more just with Tally than both her and Lex, and Sin wasn't one to pretend, so she kept her focus on the orange haired deviant. When she'd gotten whispers of her OF, Sin had done something she never had before and paid for a subscription. The next time she went to Tally for a bit of coke, the dealer had made it very clear to the biker princess that she'd seen through the username the blonde had chosen, but Sin certainly hadn't complained about the new attention. She hadn't even complained about the change in her expected flirtation dynamic, because unlike her usual games with people, she could tell that with Tally it was Sin's turn to be played with. She found that it was more exhilarating and, in fact, she loved it.

And she still did. Loved the way Tally pressed against her and wrapped her up like she'd keep her there as long as she wanted, and the way that her lips brushed her words across her mouth like calligraphy strokes being inked onto her skin. Sin did love her ink. Tally spoke of being the dark, and that may be true with her criminal elements- not that Sin was any more repelled by that than she was any other part of the girl- but to Sin she was a bright, blazing inferno that drew the other in like a moth to her flame. The scorching feeling of Tally's presence was better than any fire Sin had ever set, any explosion she'd ever triggered, and any drug she'd ever burned and taken into her lungs. Sin wanted to be bathed in Tally's fire and lay across her embers like a resting dragon, get lost in the heat and passion that only this dangerous girl had managed to match her with. Sins belonged in the fires of eternity, a perfect match made in hell, and she did love to embody her name.

It was as confusing as it was addicting, and Sin already had an addictive nature to start. When Tally called out her poor poker face, and wasn’t that wild that she could see through it, the metalworker scoffed and rolled her eyes, pressing into the taller and stealing a lingering kiss from her before pulling back and shaking her head. She didn’t want to think about her day right now, it was basically a filler episode between the morning smoke session with Monarch and Trixie and her recent fight with Rian. She looked Tally in the eyes as she twirled a bright orange lock of her bangs between the fingers of her hand not trapped in Tally’s grasp.

“When ain’t I obvious ‘bout what I want? And who cares ‘bout a rough day? The silver linin’ of it is that I got the house to myself for like a week, and an outfit with your name on it,” She revealed both as distraction and an invitation, biting the inside of her lip as she gave the other a confident smile and released her hair in favor of dropping her hand to Tally’s hip and trying to pull her closer to close the almost non-existent gap between them. “Well actually, the choker has mami on it and I’m not puttin’ that on ‘til you earn it, but the outfit’s cheap an’ very ripable, which I figured we could both appreciate.”

Deflection.

Tally knew it well.

Weakness of any kind was not acceptable in the Stratton household. To show but a single flaw in their families faux finish was to bring great and unrelenting shame upon the house. As Grandfather Jacob would often reminisce, they were a family of survivors. Famine, war, holocaust, none could fell the Van Cise and Stratton clan. Any mere iota of something deemed un-familial-like would be buried deeper than the bodies that were surely feeding the worms at the bottom of their palatial estate in the hills. Whenever Tallulah felt a pull of emotion, a stirring in her stomach of something assigned as lesser by her family, it would be hidden, tucked away behind her wall of toxicity. Left to fester like an open wound, it wouldn’t kill but it would poison.

She savoured Sin’s taste on her lips from her swift kiss but that would not be enough to satiate and as much as she wanted to devour the blonde whole, she also wanted to inquire further on her submissive’s state of mind. Tally had not truly cared for anything or anyone really, at all, save her sister. There was glory and wealth to be had, love to her cherished for some but the gypsy model had long been a Nihilist. Lexie worshipped the ground their family walked on. Theo, for all his evil ways, had goals and dreams. Bronwyn, the precious flower of their tribe, she loved more than anyone else in the family ever had. Tallulah filled her life with things and stuff, she put her body out for the dogs to devour and she experienced everything that she could but still nothing truly clicked inside of her. Yet this uncouth, loud and obnoxious biker chick stirred something in her soul that Tally had never felt before. She didn’t know what it was but it was exciting.

“Hm.” The orange haired succubus pulled herself away completely from Sinead and took several steps back. With her pale blue eyes lingering on her lovers heaving chest, Tallulah reached down her own side, her finger tracing down from her breast, down the corset of her red leather dress and to the hem of its skirt which barely covered anything. She loosened the strings on the side, allowing her thick thighs a touch more freedom, room to breathe and Sinead a view that she would die for.

“Sit.” Tally pointed to one of the desks before the sound of the click of her heels filled her Uncle’s empty classroom. She made her way around the other side of the large teachers desk, as if she was about to open the class herself. “Now.”

Sin frowned in disappointment when her distraction didn’t land, but she hadn’t much been expecting it to, either. If there was one thing she’d learned in this dynamic it was that Tallulah Stratton was not one to be lead through life blindfolded in any way, including Sin’s almost impulsive need to not share her life or troubles with anyone. Before the tempting Toxic, the deflection and attitude she tended to give the people she had fun with meant they would soon get sick of her or feel unwanted, and often they would try and give her an ultimatum that would have her laughing at the other person until they were out of her life and only her life. None of them ever had a place in her heart from the start.

But that was when she was in control. Tallulah was all about control, thrived on it like it was second nature, and she was the only person outside of Decky and Monarch that could demand something of her and she’d follow willingly. Not even Katie or her fellow gearheads here managed to break past her obstinate front when she didn’t want to share something, and not even her two friends could convince her as easily as Tally did with a single word.

Sin took her leather jacket off and threw it on the desk before sitting in it, crossing her tattooed arms and leaning back like she was in detention. She glared at the fabrics pinned to her jacket, blacking out all Dullahan patches as if she ever got a chance to fully join the club and claim her birthright before leaving in the first place. It was all legacy and honorary for her where it should be full tilt. She tilted her head to try and look past the teacher’s desk at the temptation that sat there, well aware Tally had done that on purpose.

“I can’t believe you just gave me a glimpse and hid it behind a desk,” She complained with little variation in her tone, lips pursing together until she was somewhere between a scowl and pout. “Well, I’m sittin’.”

Sin listened to Tally, more than occasionally enjoyed doing what the other girl commanded of her, but that didn’t mean she made it easy. She may not be great with books like Charlie, Poppy, and even Decky were, but she would play with vague wording with the best of them, and all that Tally had told her to do was sit. So help her if her next words were ‘speak’, though, because being spoken to like a house pet was not on her list of fun or exciting turn ons.

“Anticipation is the best aphrodisiac, baby.” Tally had designed her voice to appease, tease and tantalise. It was soft, smokey, lending itself as a whisper from a bygone day of black and white cinema wear woman oozed classy sensuality and lived in a world of hedonistic delights and delicacies. “And I do so love to watch you tremble.”

She made her way from behind the desk, dragging her fingers across its edge before she took a few short steps towards Sinead, where the tips of her manicured nails found the now bare arm of the biker. Tally’s pointer danced up her paramour’s sun kissed skin as she continued her motion around the blonde, circling her like a shark. Pausing, she caressed Sin’s chest gently, leaning down to kiss her clavicle and nibble at her ear. “And you love pleasing mami, don’t you little sinner?” She sang into Sinead’s ear like a siren of yore, enticing this concrete pirate into her domain.

She continued her circle around the blonde, repeating her kiss on the opposite side before completing the rotation and finding herself staring down at a wanting Sinead. Their games were simple enough, Tallulah didn’t go in for the complex like her cousin Theodore, who so loved to dominate people just because he could. Sure, Tally loved to control, to be in charge but she did so purely for the satisfaction it brung. She wasn’t out to make life miserable for people, quite the opposite, she lived for pleasure because nothing else mattered anyway, existence without pleasure was meaningless. She turned away from her lover and made her way back to the teachers desk, bending over it suggestively to reach something on the other side. Tallulah turned her head and smirked. “Close your eyes.”

“Absolutely evil,” Sin all but whined, now more than a little hot and bothered. And Tally wanted her to close her eyes against the treacherously tempting tableau before her? In a great test of wills, Sin pulled her eyes away from where they’d trailed all the way down the dominant’s long legs, catching Tally’s intoxicating gaze to do as she said and close her eyes. She tensed slightly, well aware of the vulnerable position it put her in, but vulnerability with the other girl was kind of the point nowadays. Her world now nothing but the back of her eyelids, Sin crossed her leg over her knee and dropped her chin onto her hand, leaning onto her jacket on the desk. “Does it please, mami?” She asked with a bit of snark, mimicking Tally’s earlier words.

“You can please mami in a moment.” Tallulah grabbed a small box from the desk and held it close to her ample chest before turning and stepping back towards Sin. She took a hold of the other girl's leather jacket and tossed it onto another chair nearby to free up the space. Leaning down, Tally slipped her tongue between Sinead’s pursed lips and kissed her deeply, all the while her hands placed the box down in between them and opened it up. From inside, emerged a strong, sweet but spicy smell. Tallulah stepped away again, dragging Sinead’s lip with her for a brief, tantric moment before offering up her surprise. “Open up and tell me what you think.”

Sin would have face planted on the desk with the way Tally ripped the jacket out from beneath her propped up arm if not for the other girl catching her with her lips, and the shocked gasp hadn’t even had a chance to form before Tally’s tongue took over her senses. She felt drunk on the lingering kiss alone, but when something amazing started filtering in as she took a breath in through her nose, she could have sworn she was losing it before realizing the other must have brought out one of her dishes to try. Still, she kept her eyes closed dutifully through it all, and as the orange haired seductress demanded, she opened her mouth and accepted whatever Tally was offering.

Taking a fork from the box, Tally sliced into the meal she had prepared and made sure to get a little bit of everything onto the prongs. “This is Gypsy Eggs. A meal for my people.” Her fingertips teased Sinead’s chin as she guided the fork into the girl's mouth. “Baked eggs in a tomato, chilli and chorizo sauce, with a Parmesan accoutrement, sliced Parma ham with special chimichurri seasoning and a nice piece of toasted sourdough.”

Food was Tallulah’s secret passion. Where Lexie had her music, Theo his football and political aspirations and Bronwyn her ice skating, Tally had found herself drawn into the world of cooking. She wasn’t even sure why. She enjoyed skating and surfing and the lifestyle that came with it. Being a model was like breathing air, it was easy. But being in a kitchen at boiling point, the searing heat from the pots, pans and ovens burning skin and focusing on putting out a meal or a dish that could wow someone in ways that only an orgasm could match? That was the sort of challenge that made life worth it.

She had already incorporated food play into her and Sin’s dalliances before but this wasn’t just about kinky sex. For Tally, this moment was about sharing something that she had specially made just for the beautiful girl that sat before. To see and feel her reaction to something that she had created and something that perhaps she may want to pursue after the Hills have finally burned to the ground.

The amount of different ways that this girl could make Sin moan should be illegal. The moment the food passed her lips and flavor burst across her tongue, Sin was sold another one of Tally’s recipes. She chewed slowly, savoring every shift in spice and making sure she gave the other girl’s art the appreciation it deserved. She should have known this was the other’s goal when she had her close her eyes. She had wanted her to focus on her taste buds.

“Fuckin’ hell, Tals,” Sin breathed reverently once she’d swallowed the bite. Sure, Sin enjoyed baking with little Danny Boaz and had been doing it ever since they were kids, but she didn’t think anything she ever made could hold a candle to a single dish Tallulah Stratton had introduced her to. It showed her how wide the gap between hobby and passion could be, and it just had her more enamored with the girl.

Wait.

Enamored?

Shaking off the silly thought, she opened her eyes to look into the cook’s own, Sin’s metal blue clashing with Tally’s diamond hard gaze. “That was amazin’, seriously. I don’t even like tomatoes.”

“I know.” Tally smiled. “That’s why I put them in there. I knew I’d be able to change your pallet.” To see the look on Sin’s face, to see her savouring the flavour and not wasting a bite, that brought Tallulah a joy that she got so rarely. Not because her food was bad, she knew it wasn’t but to be able to share it with someone, to give it to someone who would honestly enjoy it and appreciate the effort and time that goes into the dish. That was the true joy in a chef's life.

Tallulah dug the fork into the food again and spanned it thrice in hand, her eyes never leaving the locked in gaze of her lover. She slowly teased the bite she now held with her tongue before placing it into her own mouth to chew. “Mmm.” She moaned in pleasure. “Could’ve done with a little more spice though, guess I know for next time.” She teased. “I assume your brother is away again? You said you had the house to yourself.”

Sin’s happily hazed expression dropped a bit when Tally brought everything back around, but she’d done it in a way that she knew would have the biker responding. She’d shared something personal first. She'd also managed to soften Sin even more by showing her knowledge on what foods Sin wasn't fond of. Reciprocation is key. “Yeah,” She sighed, slumping back into her seat and crossing her arms defensively as she broke the stare and looked toward the nearest window despite it being covered by blinds. “Would’a been nice to go too, ‘specially since I didn’t get to see anyone for my birthday last month, but they didn’t need any'a my knowledge,” She rolled her eyes. “Actually, they kinda did. Rian took my fuckin’ key so we got in a fight before I came back to school. Fuckin’ dick.”

Each Donaghue child had a key to a different safe hidden at different Dullahan MC properties, and their late sister Fiona’s had been entrusted to her husband Francis, or Big Bro Franky as Sin loves to call him. Much to his chagrin. It was also used to represent a vote from the bloodline if one of the siblings couldn’t be there, and Rian wouldn’t tell her for which reason he’d snagged hers. God help him if it were the latter. After they’d both left for their separate destinations, Sin spent the whole bike ride yelling at Francis over her headset that if Rian tried to use it as a vote that she’d stab him with a hot dagger herself when he returned. She made it very clear that she had no idea what was happening with the club at the moment and Francis had assured her he’d handle it when their brother arrived.

“It’s whatever,” She buried it, uncomfortable with the old feelings that Rian’s cold attitude had brought up in her. Like the way he’d treated her before Fiona died and then Pa and suddenly they were all that was left. When he’d hated her birth for being the death of their mother. She thought they had gotten past it, especially since moving to California, but when the club is involved they have a bad habit of slipping back into their old roles. She hated it. “My brother-in-law’s takin’ care of it. But yeah, house to myself, nothin’ to do but my metal work. I was thinkin’ you could come over and give me a better reason to be all hot and sweaty.”

If anyone knew about family drama, it was Tallulah Stratton. She couldn’t perfectly envisage what unfolded for the Donaghue’s but she had a pretty reasonable idea considering the constant war for superiority that raged in the toxic city known as the VCP. In such battles there were very few innocents, with only Bronwyn and her mother Bobbi being the only true family members without the blood of both an enemy and an ally on their hands. “I’ll be there, don’t you worry.” Tally pushed herself vertical and once more made her way behind Sinead, though rather than kiss her, this time she began to run her silky soft straw colored hair through her black nailed fingertips. “Mami will take care of you, in every way you need. Forget about all that shit, you belong to me. Don’t you, baby?”

Sin relaxed considerably under Tally’s surprisingly gentle ministrations, this time closing her eyes of her own volition and trying to get lost in the feeling of the Toxic Twin’s touch. The frown fell away and she leaned into the fingers running through her hair and the nails grazing her scalp. She was already turning to putty in Tally’s hands, and she barely thought about the question Tallulah had asked her as she replied with a soft, “Yeah, ‘course I do,” and then her eyes shot open as the words actually processed in her mind and she shot straight up in the chair to turn around and look at Tally with wide eyes doing their best to cover the fear beneath, suddenly more tense than she’d been before showing up here. On the defensive. “Wait, what?”

They’d played possessive before, Tally’s called Sin her’s and Sin has done the same back, but this wasn’t that. There was a big difference between claiming someone in the heat of passion and saying you belong to me after Sin just showed her vulnerability. The blonde tried to think of a time where someone wanting more from her didn’t end horribly, but every time a relationship was kicked up from casual to calling it, labeling it, the other party would end up upset with her, like they expected her to change the way that she acted now that they wanted to date her or even just get closer to her than a fuck buddy. Hell, the Gravettite couldn’t even make proper friends outside of the gearheads, even Katie Calaghan was honorary due to her dating Scott. Tally had already forged her own place somewhere between those two ends of the spectrum, not being some random lay but also not having any labels.

Maybe not to others, but to Sin, even belonging to was a label, and she did not want what she had with Tally to end because suddenly new expectations came into play that she couldn’t meet. Buried even further beneath the fear and worry in her eyes was something new though. Intrigue, want, desire for that something new, something more. Hope? She stared at the other girl silently for another moment before speaking up, much quieter than she’d intended, insecure in a way she’s never felt before.

“That ain’t some random flirt for me, Tally.”

The immediate shift of Sin’s body in her hands and the look in her pretty blue eyes made Tally take her own step back from the situation. It didn’t take a body language expert to see that the blonde had taken the drug dealer's words in an unintended and unexpected way. Tallulah, ever the Stratton, could not allow the situation to spiral out of her control; it was not happening.

Did she want more with Sinead? Something beyond fucking for the sake of it and festering her domination kink? Had she developed feelings? A million thoughts raced around her head like stars in the sky and she attempted to process herself the meaning of her own words. Had Tallulah absentmindedly made some declaration of love? Or was the metal worker more crazy than her reputation?

What to say? What to say?

“It wasn’t a random flirt.” A simple fact was all that she could come up with as Tally’s momentary lapse in presentation corrected itself. “You’re mine. Whenever I want you. Wherever I want you.” She returned her step back forward and guided Sin by her shoulders back to facing the front of the class. Taking her hair back into her hands, Tallulah wrapped it tightly around her fingers and then yanked up firmly. “You do what you want with whoever you want but we both know, you’ll always find your way back to me.”

The orange haired temptress licked her lover's ear lobe ever so lightly before pulling out her chair and in one swift motion mounting her. Tally slipped her hand around Sinead’s throat and their eyes locked as the harlot began to squeeze.

The pull on her scalp had her gasping, Tally’s tongue had her eyes fluttering shut and a tremble making its way through her, just as Tally liked to cause. When the other girl was suddenly on her lap and tightening her grip on Sin’s throat, the blonde gave in completely as ecstasy began to take over her higher thought processes. Any tension from the previous comment flew out of her mind as quickly as Tally’s grip stole her breath. Tally’s words had helped. Sin didn’t mind being hers, didn’t mind being at this girl’s beck and call, so long as she didn’t want something Sin wasn’t sure she knew how to give, had been told she didn’t know how to give by so many people. Talllah had come up upon a curve too fast, but managed to shift gears and take the apex like a professional, coming out on the other end not only unscathed, but triumphant, revving her engine for good measure. Sin was hers now.

“No one else worth findin’ their way back to,” She rasped out, risking some of her breath as she reached out and grasped Tally’s strong thighs with a biker’s grip. “Mami knows what I want.”

A gasp of pleasure escaped Tallulah’s throat like a thief in the night as her prey latched onto her. She began to roll her hips on Sin’s lap, teasing the girl with her sultry rhythm. “That’s my girl.” She spoke once more, as she so often did, into Sinead’s lips as they crashed together once more in addicting toxic ecstasy. She didn’t know whose desk they were on, Tally always skipped her uncle’s class but she knew that the poor unfortunate soul was about to come as close as they could to heaven with the two women about to lose themselves on it.

Tally got to her feet once more, taking several steps back she gazed upon her lover with feverish want and raised her hand to play with the low hanging necklace part of her choker which perfectly slipped down her chest. She licked her plump red lips before glancing down at the floor and back up to a feral Sinead.

“Kneel.”

Sin was on her knees before Tally had even finished the command. Maybe Tally would get that collar on her sooner than either expected.








“Drown me in the sea,
Set me on fire,
Listen to my cadence, you know I’m no liar.
Stabbed in the street, doth the same tale repeat.
Pansies at my feet, withered at the gleam,
Where are they now, the glory and the dream?

Another man ‘o’color, took down in his prime by another woulda coulda.
A badge and a gun, that don’t mean you got courage
Brother any death you can give me, is better than bondage.”


“That doesn’t rhyme.”

Isaiah almost threw himself out of his seat on the wall at the voice from behind him. It was a familiar voice, soft, almost whisper-like and just a touch gravelly. He turned, hand held against his chest to gaze upon its origins. Standing behind him, with messy blonde hair hiding most of his face, dirt and oil staining his white t-shirt and blue Levi’s and a hot dog in hand, stood Zay’s closest friend, Spencer Kesar.

Like him, Spence was another child of adoption. Though unlike him, his friend was not taken in by his forever family until he was much older. Isaiah joined the Stricklands when he was still in diapers. He didn’t know anything beyond the safety of the four walls that his fathers Richie and Tony, as well as his sister Peri had provided for him. Isaiah counted his blessings every day for the luck he had at finding a family that wanted him. Spencer had never had that luxury, having been adopted as a teenager. The Kesar’s were good people; with Spencer’s Mom working for an animal shelter and his Father a tattoo artist. They also adopted a crazy little girl called Flora alongside Spence. He would lay his life down for his little Flo.

The two boys met in freshman year, in the library of all places. Zay loved the sanctity of the bookshelves, it was a perfect reprieve from the overwhelming anxiety that came with trying to even say hello to people and it gave him protection from the likes of Theo Van Cise and Malcolm Richardson shoving him into lockers and calling him the….N word. Isaiah found Spencer alone in a corner, reading a book about aeronautics. Spence loved planes, as the boys grew closer as friends, Zay learned that his new buddy was so utterly desperate to become a pilot. First, he would serve a few years in the air force, as a test pilot for super secret aircraft’s obviously, then he’d fly commercial flights and finally he would open up his own tiny touring company out in the wilderness where he’d fly adrenaline junkies to their destinations. Spence had a plan, which was far more than Isaiah ever did.

“You scared the hell out of me! Man what you be doing creeping like that?!”

“I didn’t creep. You were rapping to yourself again.” Spencer took a savage bite from his mustard smothered treat and with a mouthful continued. “And courage and bondage still don’t rhyme.” He hopped the wall and parked himself next to Isaiah before shoving the last of the hot dog into his mouth. He held out his index finger to pause any potential conversation whilst he continued to chow down. After finally swallowing the mass produced pile of crap, Spence slid his hands into his jeans and turned to face the rapper. ”You still flying the politics route? Risky. The last crowd at Dolla ate up your last set but you don’t want to end up a one trick pony.”

Isaiah knew that his friend wasn’t wrong. Not everyone wanted to hear him wax political and speak about racism. The crowds that usually gathered at the infamous Dolla Lounge were a mixed bag; for some like him or Yani Fujimori, it was a throwback to bygone days of true music. For the rest, it was a cheap Friday night with some decent tunes ringing out where they would be able to score some drugs and try to fuck. Some appreciated his commentary but taking any kind of praise was difficult for Zay. Hell, even being on stage was difficult for him. Having any eyes on him was new, let alone all of them. Spencer was a good friend but even Isaiah was hard pressed to choose if his support alone was enough.

”But that’s by the by. I come with an ulterior motive.” Spencer placed his hand on Zay’s shoulder and through his nose released a large exhale of air. ”Peri text me. She wanted me to ask about the letter?”

God, she was a busy body. Isaiah’s adopted sister always had a tendency to put her nose in the business of others. Giving a fuck when it wasn’t her turn to give a fuck. Before she graduated a year earlier she served as a mentor to some of the aspiring journo’s at BHHS and now was taking a gap year citing burnout. Zay believed there was more to it but unlike Peri, he didn’t like to butt in. All the same, he knew that she had his best interests at heart, she always did. She may have been annoying but she was a good person. He couldn’t really ask for a better sister.

Isaiah placed his pen and paper down on the far side of the wall and reached into his inside jacket pocket. ”Here, read it.” He handed a beautifully decorated envelope to his long haired friend and sat in silence as it was read aloud.




“Isaiah,

I hope this letter finds you in good health and in a happy place.

By now, your fathers, Richie and Tony, will have told you that I recently reached out to them about maybe making contact with you. The last time we spoke I know you were hesitant so now, let me be transparent. I understand that asking to even see a glimpse of you and your life is a big ask, probably too much to ask really and I would completely understand if you chose not to respond to this letter at all. Yet I couldn’t in good conscience at least try to speak to you, Isaiah.

You don’t know me from a stranger on the street but perhaps shedding a little light might give you something you’ve been missing or at the very least gives you some information you may have been looking for.

Your mother and I met at the worst possible time in our lives. She was in the throes of addiction and I wasn’t far behind her. I’d like to tell you that we were in love and that circumstance and fate kept us apart but that would be a lie. We were barely a couple, we were a casual escape for two lost people to find some solace in. I was arrested and locked up pretty quickly after meeting your Mom and by the time I got out, she was already gone and I didn’t even give her a second thought. As soon as I was released I packed up my things and left Compton, I had zero inclination that you even existed. Had I shown but an ounce of humanity, I could’ve gone to your grandma then and she would’ve told me about you but I didn’t and I’ve been regretting that since I found out you existed.

Earlier this year, my daughter got really interested in our family history. Yes that’s right, you have a sister. Long story short, this is how we found you. I reached out to your Grandma Alice and she told me everything that happened to you and your mom while I was locked up. It was heartbreaking. She also told me that your Mom named you Demetrius before you were adopted; that’s my fathers name. From her, I managed to get a hold of your fathers details and I made contact.

They seem like really good people and it does warm my heart to know that you landed in a place of love considering the place you came from was anything but.

My priority is to make sure that you want to do this as much as I do. If you don’t and you want to leave the past in the past, then I can support that decision because it was yours and I’ll just say that the door is always open if you want to get to know me and mine. Selfishly I have to say, we’re all very excited now that we know you’re out there, Isaiah and we really want you to meet your family. You’ve got all my information if you want to use it.

All the best;
Montez Demetrius Bell”





Spencer turned his head to look at his best friend, whose face was sour and frowned, staring at the floor with dark eyes filled with tears likely held in for years. He and Isaiah shared this pain, they shared the questions that came with abandonment and a feverish childhood want to belong to something greater than themselves. Unlike Zay, Spence didn’t have an opportunity to meet his birth parents and undoubtedly there was a large part of him that was infinitely jealous. However, if there was anything that the aspiring pilot had learned over the years, it was that family was not blood, family was those you choose to surround yourself with and give your entire being to. They were the backs you’d always have and the ones that would always have yours.

”Don’t feel forced to meet this guy, Zay.” Spence began. ”Even if what he’s saying is legit and he didn’t even know you were around, you had two guys who raised you into one of the most badass people I’ve ever met. You owe him, nothing.”

Isaiah appreciated his friends candour, if anyone knew anything close to how he was feeling it was Spencer. ”I mean you know how hard it is, Spenny; the not knowing about where you come from. Not knowing who you are. I struggle at the best of times to convince the world I even exist and I pride myself on being an orator. Yet when I look in the mirror, I know my name isn’t my name and the life I have wasn’t meant to be mine. What am I supposed to do with that?” The activist raised a hand behind his head to grab hold of the back of his neck, a half hearted attempt to stop the goosebumps from creeping up on him. ”At least if I meet this guy, then I’ll at least get some answers before the questions are changed again.”

Before Spencer could respond, the lingering veil of silence was penetrated by the thumping of Doc Martens. Lifting their heads up from the sombre tide they were wading through, Isaiah and Spencer watched as a tiny ball of manic blonde energy sprinted towards them from the parking lot. With hurry in her voice and speed on her mind, Adelaide Davies Jones sprinted as quickly as a little legs would take her across the street towards the wall where the duo were sitting, ”WADDUP?!” She exclaimed as she swiftly made her way past them and darted towards the monstrous school for the definition of nepotism.

”Hi Addie.” ”Hi Addie” The boys said in unison whilst the drug dealer staid her course and never broke her stride towards the double doors.

When the manic pixie vanished into the abyss, Spencer continued his initial thoughts. ”This is some deep shit, man. No one is ever truly gonna know the right thing to do except you. It’s your life brother.” If there was one thing that he had learned about Isaiah after years of friendship, it was that he always knew what he was going to do. Zay could not be told anything, he had to learn it for himself. That wasn’t the way it was, his thirst for knowledge was unquenchable. ”I always got you, no matter what you do.”. Spencer brushed his dirty blonde bangs away from his face and slapped his thighs as he brought his hands down. ”Maybe we should actually just go to the game and desensitise ourselves watching the Neanderthals run around hitting each other and carrying a ball?”

”Or we could go to the diner and you can try and flirt with that Russian girl again?” For the first time all day, Isaiah smiled. For his lack of confidence in most other areas, Zay was pretty happy with his smile. Everyone always told him it lit up a room. It made him feel human when they said that and helped to drain away the negative thoughts of being a nothing, a footnote in someone else’s story,

Spencer raised his finger up in defiance. “Don’t be talking about my future wife like that.” It was true that the aspiring pilot had been drooling over the waitress with the thick accent since the moment he had laid eyes on her. Then again he could say that about half the school, he was surrounded by pretty people and unlike Zay. He had the foolhardiness to chase after what he wanted. Come on dipshit, let me get you a shake?”

Isaiah shook his head. “Nah man, I’m good. I wanna get a few more lyrics down.” He motioned to the paper in his hand. Soon he would be surrounded by quiet again when the game started and the crowd that he would hear would act like white noise, tuning out the thoughts of finding love, finding friends and finding a lost father.

Spencer shrugged his shoulders before he leapt from the wall. He had done all that he could for Isaiah. He knew now that even with the seeds now planted, the rest was truly up to his friend. “All good brother.” He straightened himself out, brushing away the creases and left her hot dog on his shirt before turning himself before slapping five with Zay. ” I’mma see you?”

“Most def. Catch you later, Spenny.” As he watched his brother from another mother deeper for brighter skies, Isaiah returned his hazelnut gaze to the papers in his now trembling hands. This was meant to be his year, this was meant to be his time.

Could that be true if he didn’t even know who he really was?
TIMESTAMP: Flashback, between the Pep Rally and the Game
Adam Omasta, and introducing Piper Lyon
With, of course, her Butler
Small mentions of abuse and violence


___________________________________________________________________



___________________________________________________________________


There were many kinds of quiet.

There was the simplest form of the word; an absence of sound acting like a security blanket on those that craved it. There was a hushed tone, a whisper or a breath that could barely be registered. And then there was inner quiet, to calm the raging waters of the mind, body and heart. This was the hardest type of quiet to obtain. For most, they may never experience this form as they may not even know that it exists. In the hustle and bustle of a place like Beverly Hills, this form of quiet was the most difficult to come by.

But Adam had found a way.

For the early part of his life, a time he had mostly blocked out of his memory; Adam grew into a child however near the water. The ranch in Montana had a river and stream but nothing in comparison to the raging tide that crashed around him at that moment. When he and his family moved to California; the fighter had no idea about the culture. He was a cowboy, born in distressed leather and a dirty pair of Levi’s. Yet over the years he had found his true home in the water. There was no weather in which Adam wouldn’t ride. To face a wave; mighty and majestic in its monstrosity and feral force, there was no greater feeling.

Crashing water drowned out the words of his father, words that haunted him, words that like the blood on his veins flowed inside like a white water rapid, tempestuously destroying him from within. Adam soaked in the spray of the sea as it climbed up the cliff's edge and landed upon his bare skin. The beach had become his quiet place. From school he would travel down to golden sands; rip up the parking lot on his skateboard with a few of the locals, snapping shots with his camera as he did before finally stripping down and entering the water. Adam had made a small name as a big wave rider, taking in any and all incoming tides as if they were an opponent to be conquered and defeated. He had never lost a fight, he had never been brought down by a challenge. In the water, there was no difference.

He could not be stopped.

Exhaling through his mouth and inhaling through the nose, his lungs drank in the sea air and his mind dove deep through the crushing black. Where was it? That thing, that one thing that could become his anchor? That one thing that could keep him safe and tied to shore lest he be swept away by the maelstrom of his own boredom and rage. Where was it? His reason. His center. In the distance, Adam could see the tornado looming, the biggest wave he had ever faced; a tempest, it was going to sweep him away one day unless he found balance.

The great mistake would be to anticipate victory. He did not pray for an easy life, simply to find the tools to survive a difficult one.




“I’m serious, Butler, he could have responded earlier,” Piper huffed angrily from her spot in the back seat, legs and arms crossed as she alternated between glaring at her phone and out the window. Her Xanax absolutely should have kicked in by now, but it seems to be a day doomed for coherency. She must have been building up her tolerance again, she’d have to find a way to get more than her prescription alone gave her, and Butler would make that nigh impossible. Has made it impossible since daddy caught her earlier in the summer completely fucked up and started rationing her meds to her. “A whole day of nothing just for, Andy had a breakdown, planning the party, see you tomorrow. Honestly, I like Andy, I would have understood! Now I’m not seeing him until what, he picks me up for the dance?” Silence from the driver's seat. Not a twitch of muscle in what she could see in his face in the rearview. “Fine, jerk, be that way.” Piper threw herself back in the seat and pouted, kicking her leg angrily as she waited for Butler to pull into the parking spot so she could escape. Escape to the one bit of freedom she had to herself.

Celeste was her ticket out but only if she stayed near the other girl, and the blonde absolutely loved to drag Piper around so it worked, same with Athena. The three girls had been inseparable for quite some time, but Piper was well aware that she had always been the weak link of the trio. Ethan was a fun boyfriend, even if he got her favorite flowers wrong despite them being her middle name. He was popular and on the more lighthearted side of the Greens, and the two of them could totally have been seen as a power couple now if not for both of their reservations about being out and open about their relationship. Her Daddy wasn’t so crazy that he had Butler ensuring she remain completely celebate, but she knew for a fact that if she actually expanded her relationship with her boyfriend outside of school, went up to father and explicitly stated that she was dating someone instead of whatever report he got from Butler at the end of each day, then there was no way it would last. So, Piper settled, as she always does, and dated the boy that forgot she existed all day until he felt it was time to deign to reply.

How pathetic.

Of her.

Outside of all that, the chains of her home and the desperate connections of school and friends, there was one place and only one place where Piper is ever actually allowed to feel and be as alone as someone like her father would allow. As soon as he put the car in park, her hand was on the door handle and her heels were kicked off, and as soon as she heard the locks disengage the door had been flung open and she was off like a shot across the rough asphalt, feet and heart pounding as the midday air pressed in around her. Staring at her back from the still opened back door of the car, Butler sighed and got out slowly, walking around to close the door before following his charge at a much more sedate pace.

It was a good thing that her outfit for Red and Black day included pants instead of a skirt, because as soon as Piper reached the little hidden outcropping a ways past the first dune, she didn’t give a second thought to leaping towards the rough rocks and finding the footholds she’d only had to change use of a few times since she first found this place as a child. She could hear her photographers and makeup teams complaining already at the cover ups they’d have to do her now scraped up hands, knees, and feet, could just see the look from Celeste when the blonde saw the unsightly chips that were appearing in her nails. She didn’t care, she was almost there.

Butler had appeared below her when she’d gotten two thirds of the way up the cliff, clearing his throat to alert her of his presence but doing nothing more to break her concentration on her free climb. As she reached the peak, she threw both arms onto the flat surface and held herself there with a pleased grin, happy to do something for herself. The smile disappeared, however, when she noticed someone else sitting in her moping spot.

How rude.

Throwing a leg up over the ledge and pulling herself up all the way until she was steadily back on her two feet, Piper fruitlessly dusted dirt off of her now ripped clothes and stomped soundlessly over to the invader, uncaring for her current unkempt state. She put her hands on her hips and went to open her mouth and tear this person a new one until she took in the state he was in.

He was shirtless, for one, and absolutely ripped for another. He was also literally dripping wet and Piper was three seconds away from pulling a Peggy Carter from the first Captain America. She wanted to reach out and see just how hard those muscles were, and she found herself blinking rapidly at the very thought crossing her mind. In an effort to control herself, Piper took her hands from her hips and crossed her arms, cocking her hip out demandingly as she leaned up towards this boy- he’s a classmate, isn’t he? I’ve seen him in the halls- who still had his eyes closed, completely unaware of her presence.

If she were a nicer person, she’d let him continue meditating, but event days at school when she was expected to be there until the evening were the only times she had a chance at her few hours of freedom, and he was now in the way of that.

“What are you doing up here?”

“Kata.”

Adam opened up his green eyes with his simple response. He did not stop the flowing movements of his arms as he channelled himself into his choreographed routine. The Kata was a simple technique taught to even the earliest beginners in martial arts. The objective was simple, memorise the movement, always know your place, always be aware of your surroundings.

For Adam, the Kata was a way of almost regressing; transporting his spirit back over a decade to a time when the world wasn’t so dark. It was used to take him back to a time when he thought that his family loved him, cherished his smile and wanted to encourage his adventurous soul. For those brief minutes when he was a child again, Adam wasn’t locked in a basement, bloodied and bruised, he was on a sacred mat, learning and studying, becoming one with himself and every drop of life around him.

The fighter looked at his visitor; she was blocking the horizon so his gaze engulfed her. She didn’t come from behind him, he would’ve sensed it. The dirt on her hands and expensive outfit were obvious tell tale signs that she had climbed to the precipice where they now both stood. She was familiar, a classmate probably. He searched the shallows for a face or a name that could be put to her. Lyon. Piper. Not an Elite. She didn’t belong to the Hive. Yet she certainly wasn’t cast out amongst the dregs of society. She existed in the peripheral, basking in the glory and sunlight of those around her. The smile she wore around the school wasn’t even hers; she rented it from the Greenes. She didn’t deserve that.

“You’re staring.”

“And you’re in my spot,” She tossed back, flipping her hair over her shoulder for a bit of emphasis before crossing her arms once more, shamelessly watching the boy’s movements. She decidedly did not tap her foot, despite how much she wanted to, because despite her complaints she was actually enjoying the sight in front of her. Any other time, or place, maybe she would have appreciated him more. Maybe she wouldn’t have noticed him at all. Hell, she still couldn’t remember his name despite knowing he’s been through highschool with her. His lack of reaction to her presence, however, was a bit exhilarating. He’d stared her down with earthen green eyes and answered her question- which in her circle was more just another way of saying ‘you shouldn’t be here’- honestly without breaking stride, and she found her head turning to and fro as she followed his slow and meticulous motions. He hadn’t stuttered out an apology and scuttled off like people tended to do when Celeste is at the front of their trio, he hadn’t thrown a cheap shot at her like many nameless faces in the halls did when she was without her two blondes, and he hadn’t told her to fuck off. He’d just…continued, unbothered.

She was unused to this, and with no one around to tell her how to handle it…well, much of what she might have said to keep face in front of others was dead in the water here. Umber brown stared into forest green for a moment as she considered her next words, feeling off center without anyone around to perform for. This was why she had to be alone when she was up here. Piper huffed, more upset by her confusion than she was willing to let on, and blew a loose strand of hair out of her face. Knowing that her next words likely wouldn’t get him to leave, she allowed herself to slide quickly to the ground by way of dropping into a criss cross sit, arms still crossed and face turning towards the bright open sky over the horizon. At least she had two nice views instead of one this time.

“I don’t get to come here often, so like,” She waved her hand unenthusiastically toward the rest of the beach. She didn’t like having to act like Piper Lyon: Triple Crown and sister of Scott, here in her freedom spot. She didn’t want to be that, or Piper Lyon: Daddy’s Princess, or Rose Lyon: Bibi’s Little Model. She just wanted to be Piper here. “Can’t you kata somewhere that’s, like, not here?” She could hear the slightest scoff from below them and felt her face going bright red in irritation, knowing the man below was scoffing at her. Throwing her torso half over the ledge with little thought, hair fluttering in the wind, she yelled down, “Shut up, Butler! God, honestly, eat glass!”

“I could.” Adam responded as continued unphased as he watched the dark haired beauty lean dangerously over the edge to shout at her….Butler? Truly the world in which he now existed was fake; a Truman show like concoction by his drug addled mother to generate buzz for one of her wealthy and hedonistic celebrity clients, absolutely starved for attention. He was a star of a fake reality series, how could this be his real life? It was a mystery that he would surely never solve. Much like his parents themselves, he wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to. “But I won’t.”

No one had ever accused Adam of being a talkative creature. He did not see the need to say more when less would do. That had very much been his mantra for all facets of his life; to drift or to crash as the tides demanded. Bruce Lee famously quoted “Be Water.” And so Adam took that to heart. There was a lot in his life that he did not agree with, a lot that he would not have chosen given the chance. Yet he had accepted them like a swell lapping onto the beach before him. Unbridled, uncontrollable, just nature taking course and humanity bowing to its whim.

Adam gazed at the girl entranced by his movements. He could see in her eyes the weight that she carried on her shoulders. To be pretty, to be popular, a burden so heavy that even a climb to the highest height where they now stood wasn’t enough to shed it. “You seem tense. You should try this, to ease up your mind.”

“I tend to find a more cooperative way to ease my tension,” Piper answered with an eye roll before she even thought out her words, still glaring down at Butler who made a point to stare up at her with a raised eyebrow at the comment. She stuck her tongue out at him and swiped some of the loose pebbles and sand off the edge, hoping it would hit him but knowing he’d easily avoid the falling debris. She pushed herself back up, not even bothering to dust the sand off the front of her shirt and stomach this time, and turned over so she could look at him once more. Was she dating Ethan? Yes. Had he ignored her all day and pissed her off? Also yes. Was she allowed to enjoy other bodies so long as she wasn’t actually cheating? Well, yeah, she thought so at least. She’d seen his eyes straying in the hallways plenty of times, how was this any different? She leaned back on her elbows and pulled one knee up, staring up at him with a heavy gaze. Her eyes went from his slowly drying hair, to his bright eyes- green like tall grass under a hot sun, waving in a field with the calm wind so that there’s hints of golden rays shining through- to his blank, focused face. She traced his strong jawline and plush looking lips, knowing that if she ever saw him in the halls again she wouldn’t simply glance over him like she’s been doing. She bit her lip as she watched his muscles shift beneath his skin through the controlled motions, rippling enticingly and just asking for her soft fingers to run over them.

It was then that she noticed the other parts of his torso though, and she was suddenly biting her lip for an entirely different reason. Silver scars of long healed wounds littered his skin, and there were several places where the injuries had obviously been worse and healed over as small bumps. At the lower part of his ribs, however, was a blatantly large hypertrophic scar that told of immense pain and healing. Not all of them were defensive, but Piper had seen similar areas be bruised or scraped before, the way daddy used to slap Scott around before he got big enough to fight back immediately came to mind, and she found her face twisting into a dark frown. Luckily, any abuse she suffered from daddy was purely verbal and emotional, where her big brother had to deal with all three types, so she doesn’t have any scars on her body that she didn’t earn herself from being young and running away all the time. In fact, Butler has more scars on his face, neck, and shoulder from throwing a younger her over his shoulder and taking her back from her rendezvous with her mother. She used to kick and scream and scratch like a wild animal, unwilling to return home to daddy and risk never seeing her mother again. Seeing those scars on Adam stirred something in her that she didn’t know still existed. It wasn’t pity, what was it? Something both her daddy and Celeste had told her to dispose of long ago until she’d finally complied.

Sympathy, empathy, compassion over a shared knowledge or situation.

“Fine, karate kid,” She stood up, huffing as though he had asked her to do an enormous chore. If he wanted to waste his time teaching someone like her something, the least she could do was try, and since he wasn’t responding to her in any other way except for this offer then accepting it seemed like the best course of action. She wouldn’t get to be alone, but she’d already given up on that idea already. “Show me what you’ve got. But just to be clear,” She stepped up closer to him again, getting in his face so he had no choice but to look at her. The way he just saw her freaked her out a bit, so something had to be said about that. “My mind is perfectly eased, and I have my own forms of discipline so it’s not like I’m completely oblivious to repetitive poses,” She looked to the side for a moment before gazing back at him and stepping back to mirror whatever pose he was in. “Mine are just for modeling, but they do, like, become muscle memory much like I’m sure this stuff does.”

“Yup.”

Adam didn’t say much more as he continued his motions, slowing himself down even more so that Piper could mimic and mirror him. The way she got in his face and personal space was both bold and probably a bit stupid. He imagined that her face, awashed with fearlessness, was something taken from her time on the periphery of the in crowd. She used the qualities of her friends to mask herself from his gaze but Adam always could see right through someone.

He had never raised his hand to anyone out of combat; except his father. Yet when someone invaded his space without warning, they would usually come to regret it. Adam was an aggressive fighter, even if his opponent tried to draw first blood, he always struck first. It wasn’t hard, timing was everything. Movement and motion were the key. Piper had moved into his orbit but despite even what she may think, she hadn’t done so aggressively. There was something else that she wanted from their interaction; something maybe even she wasn’t aware of.

Adam straightened his posture and watched her move. “Close your eyes.” He spoke aloud, phrasing less like a question and much more like instruction. He began to circle her, taking in her form. “Loosen your shoulders. Let your body move freely.” He had seen her eyes before, dancing over his skin, staring at the battle scars from countless fights and beatings. The fighter did not hide those marks in shame. He carried them proudly, they were his trophies. Remnants of violent bouts gone by, personal and professional they burned in the salt water like a volcano cracking the sea bed wide open. The sting reminded him that pain was to be used to learn, to understand one’s plateau so that they could move past them. Adam did not believe in limits; he believed in breaking them.

He stood behind her silently for a moment before gently touching her elbow. “May I?” He also believed in consent.

Piper almost ripped herself away when he touched her elbow, well in the habit of not just letting anyone touch her, but the connection had been so soft and he hadn’t grabbed her, just rested his hand beneath her elbow as it came down from its position. She froze completely for a mere moment before following his previous instructions and relaxing her shoulders, letting her elbow drop fully into his guiding hold. Closing her eyes, though, that was a vulnerability she wasn’t sure that she was ready for. Sure, Butler was right below and wouldn’t let anything happen to her, but closing her eyes and completely giving in to the guy that she barely knew? Not without explanation, no matter how hot he was. That was how blackmail started. Untrusting eyes met focused ones over her shoulder.

“You may,” She allowed, wariness coloring her tone in bright contrast to his easy confidence. She allowed him to begin fixing her stance as she asked, “But why close my eyes? What does that do?”

“Blocks out distractions.” Adam slowly positioned Piper’s arms in kata stance. Her dominant hand above her head and her other, lower towards her waist. “To truly be still and quiet, you can only find that within yourself.” He stationed himself behind her, guiding her flow subtly but firmly. “When you close your eyes, let the blackness of your mind wash over you. Listen for a sound that only you can hear, a wave crashing, a bird singing. Latch onto that sound and let it take your mind where it needs to go. Let it guide you to your center.” The martial artist did his utmost to not cross any personal boundaries, what was happening between them was intimate and could only be if built on trust. “An image will form in your mind, a picture only for you, use it. Use it to calm the fire or to stoke it. Only you know really what you want to do with it.”

Piper pouted doubtfully at the boy but tried to do as he said, closing her eyes as he spoke and following his gentle guidance as well as she could. She tried to find a sound to focus on behind darkened lids and her ears fell upon the slight rustling of bush leaves in a soft wind, that same type of bug that always chirped here throughout her childhood singing for its life. A picture started forming in her mind, just as he’d said. She always listened to those sounds just as much as the crashing waves, because they reminded her of the beaches and parks she’d meet her mom in and the hours they’d spend together. As she thought about it, about the good times with her mother, engulfed in the sounds that took her there, Piper actually smiled. It wasn’t the smile that she wore at school, it wasn’t her shield, or her mask, or her weapon, this smile was genuine in its response to the image formed in her mind’s eye. She hadn’t been able to see her mom’s face so clearly in her memory in years, not since daddy buckled down and cut them off completely from each other, no longer willing to entertain the attitude and disrespect that came with her every return to the house. Yet, something about blocking out her visual senses and leaning into another instead washed away some of the blur and fade set across her visage by time.

Unfortunately, those happy moments never lasted. The hours after her visits with her mother were always the worst, Butler dragging her away at the end of the time daddy allotted her little act of rebellion and tossing her into the back seat with the child lock on. He’d roll up the privacy window between the front and back of car as she screamed and cried in the backseat and he’d carry her up the steps to their stupid giant house and set her down in front of Gabriel Lyon who would do no more than look at her with distaste and send her to her room, her cell, for the night. Her last view of her mother had always been through tears, Piper’s own arms outstretched towards her as Butler hauled her off, her mother standing still but with hand outstretched back, never to reach her. No wonder her memory of her mom’s face sucked, her eyes were always full of tears during the times they had together.

Heat streaked down her cheeks only to turn cold at the next burst of wind, and Piper opened her eyes to find she’d begun to cry in real time. Her body had continued to follow Adam’s guiding motions while her mind had been completely lost, and Piper found her breath catching in her throat. She tore herself out of his gentle hold and turned to face him, backing up with her hands desperately clutching her elbows, held tightly in front of her midriff. She glared at the boy through glossy eyes, feeling stupid and not knowing why.

“What the hell was that?” She demanded, though her voice betrayed her by quaking. This was why she didn’t think about it. This was why she didn’t think. She contemplated her third xanax of the day, longing for the fog that shut out the noise and let her be led along by the hand by whoever had a hold of her chains at the time. Her freedom spot was feeling more oppressive by the second. “I thought this was supposed to be relaxing, not a walk down trauma lane.”

Adam had watched in silence as Piper’s mind dragged her spirit through memory. He had experienced the same as she had now, he still did. Not all memories were good, not all stillness was found in the positive. There were times where one had to fight and scratch and claw through all the pain and suffering to reach the quiet. Adam was no different than her. When he closed his eyes he did not see sunshine and rainbows; he saw a bullship and a black hat. He saw a business suit and a line of white powder. He saw a knee, twisted and ripped apart, cartilage, bone and blood hanging like the loose leaf of an autumn tree. And he saw his own reflection, smiling at the carnage that he had cause; the rage burning in his blood,

“I never said that it was easy.” Taking a small step forward, Adam placed his hands behind his back and interlocked his fingers. “Our brain takes us through the valleys we need to go, not the ones we want to.” He tilted his head to catch her gaze, his eyes earnest and apologetic but still firm. “I know it hurts, wherever you were but we are only defeated when we allow ourselves to be.”

Piper did not step back when the boy stepped forward, but it was a near thing. However, with his hands behind his back and his demeanor continuing to remain calm as ever, Piper couldn't even find it in herself to feel the threat that she knew the person in front of her had the strength to make. His words were firm but understanding, and he wasn't making fun of her for crying over something so stupid, in fact he basically assured her that her response was normal. She was completely unused to this type of interaction. It didn't seem like he wanted anything out of her, so she didn't know what she was supposed to be giving. She'd spent her whole life as anyone else's little posable doll, yet when he had her in his hold and was literally guiding her in poses, she didn't feel used at all. She didn't feel like he was looking at her like a doll to be played with, and even Scott and Katie didn't look at her with such little judgment or disgust. Who the hell was this guy?

“I never asked your name,” Piper finally spoke up as she managed to stop her tears, slowly stepping back towards him and taking a deep breath before returning to the stance she'd pulled away from. She had a stubborn purse to her lips and she wasn't as relaxed as she had been when he'd first started his guidance, but Piper had made her decision to keep going. To see how this played out, to not let herself be defeated by the valleys she was dragged through. With another deep, grounding breath, Piper closed her eyes without any prompting needed this time. “I’ve seen you in the halls, though, who are you?”

“Adam.”

The problem with a school like BHHS, there are a thousand and one faces in the hall. Classrooms filled with blank glares and empty stares. To know everyone, to truly know everyone, was a feat greater than climbing the highest of peaks. It was said that high school was where one took the first strides into finding who they are. They gravitate to cliques, they ascend or descend the social ladder in a dog eat dog world of who wears the best brand or who rides a skateboard and smokes a cigarette. Some walk the halls, surrounded by people but be completely alone; whilst some can walk alone and be completely comfortable with themselves. Over time the lines can blur or they can sharpen, either way, there was truly no way to know everyone because most didn’t even know themselves.

Adam spent much of his time flying under the radar by design. He got some attention for his looks, but beyond that, he was basically non-existent. He skated in the parking lot with the PLC, he surfed with the Strattons, he worked out with the Elite and he studied with the Overachievers. Adam believed in experiencing all facets of what lay around him, so he could educate and better himself. Yet there was a big part of him, probably the biggest part, which just wanted to kick and punch and claw, a part of him that had been utterly seduced by the glow of violence. Combat was his vice but even that had begun to lose its lustre as he had not been truly challenged in a long time. The boredom he felt was bordering on depression.

“I sit behind you in a few classes.”

“Oh,” she replied, genuinely surprised by that fact. It wasn't her fault that he was behind her for all of them. Butler stood at the back of the class, so of course she never wanted to turn around and see his ugly mug while she was trying to focus. Piper may only be good for modeling and looking pretty, but she did maintain good grades. When much of your time is spent locked up in your house or your room, studying becomes second nature. You've got to find something to do once all actual fun ideas peter off, and her good grades kept daddy happy so he was more likely to let her out whenever Celeste or Athena came calling. Still, though, it was a little embarrassing that he had that answer and she hadn't even known.

Brows furrowed over closed eyes as she tried to bring up any memory she could of him sitting behind her, and a frown overtook her face when she realized there was truly nothing. Aside from glances in the halls, Piper has no recollection of his face. How pathetic. Piper shook her head and tried to focus on actually going through the motions Adam had shown her, moving slowly and keeping her eyes shut, but she couldn't find herself back to the darkness and the valley like she had before.

“I'm Piper, but I feel like you already knew that.”

It wasn't meant to be cocky, it was just a basic fact that Piper was one of those few names and faces that most of the school knew. It came with being a Triple Crown, and with having a grown man follow you around the school. It's very hard not to learn anything about the brunette amongst blondes, followed by a burly bear. She pretended to love it just like she pretended not to hear all the whispers and hate that followed them.

“I did.”

Without a further word, Adam joined Piper in kata and pushed into a meditative state. With his own eyes closed, he tried to drift into his mind palace but something was blocking him, a face, her face. In her eyes he had seen something that he could only describe as a resemblance to himself. The girl didn’t have to say much at all, her silence was enough for him to know that they shared similarities. Both were prisoners of those that were meant to love and cherish them. Her perfume had replaced the scent of saltwater in his nostrils; it wasn’t an unpleasant smell.

“Make sure to breathe.” He stated clearly. “Breathe in and out, exhale your stresses and your negative feelings. Inhale the world around you, let it fill you up and embrace you like a lover. It cares for you. It nurtures. Welcome it and allow it to guide you.” Adam took himself out of stance to watch Piper again. She was gracious in her movement, even for a beginner. It was likely those modelling poses she mentioned earlier, they had given her a good core strength and a sense of balance. “You’re doing really good.”

It was not easy to concentrate after his words. She’d startled a bit at ‘embrace you like a lover’ falling so easily from Adam’s lips, and it had only turned into a blush when he’d told her she was doing well. That was a genuine compliment, a true observation instead of an attempt to inflate her ego for a picture or a date. She couldn’t remember the last time she heard a genuine compliment, and that made this one so much harder to accept. She wanted to snap back and call him a liar just because it was so unexpected to hear, she wanted to drop out of stance and cover the weakness that was her obvious blush, but that would break her concentration. Instead, she exhaled her stresses just as he’d directed, inhaled and held it before repeating. She slowly brought back the sound of rustling bush leaves, of chirping insects. She let her mind follow the noises through the dark behind her eyelids and came up once more at her mother’s face, and before she let herself focus on it completely, before she forgot what little manners she had, she let the soft breeze carry her quiet appreciation for the moments of tranquillity she didn’t know she could experience.

“Thank you, Adam,” She whispered as the tears started to overflow again, but this time she kept going, just like he said. She focused on her center.

“I’m not doing anything.” Adam smiled. This was a rarity for him. He was not known as a particularly serious person but nor was he known much as a happy person. Adam Omasta just existed and was what he was when he was it. Those that actually knew him had accepted this fact. He was difficult to read and gage, difficult to truly understand. “You’re doing all the work Piper.” Watching her reach something deep inside of herself that she obviously needed was not something he expected when he had opened his eyes mere minutes before and found her staring at him but the wind and tide had carried them there and for those brief moments, it was just the two of them on an island alone, exactly where they needed to be.

Turning away as quietly as he could, Adam reached into his nearby bag to grab a water bottle. After a small sample, he cleared his throat, not realising that like a pig, some of the clear liquid had dripped from his mouth onto his bare chest. “When you’re ready to leave, let out one big breath, let the last of that tension be swept away in the next swell and open your years. Stay here for as long as you want, this is your place.”

She followed his instructions dutifully, letting the pain of her memories with her mother ebb and flow, her tears turn from salty bitterness to bitter sweet and back again. The wind whispered past her and the waves crashed far below but up on the cliff, Piper was finally learning her meaning of peace. When she was ready, and only when she was ready, she let out a large and cleansing breath, shaky in the emotion that came with if, and opened her eyes to see that Adam had stopped already and was watching her. That was nothing new to her, honestly, as every time she modeled there was a whole room watching her and only her. She dropped out of the last stance and stared straight back at him until her eyes started following the line of water that trailed down his chest. She let out a small laugh and began wiping the stark tear tracks from her face.

“You're wet again, that's really distracting. You know that, right?”

“Then don’t be distracted.” Adam gently dried off his torso and also dabbed his neck from the sweat. He took a few steps forward towards the brunette and offered her one of his genuine smiles. “You know, if you think that all this is helping, I’m down here a lot in my free time. I’m happy to do some more work and spend some time with you. Get you to where you want to be.” He hadn’t offered anyone a place like this before. Most training partners Adam ever had left him because they couldn’t keep up or they couldn’t handle his physicality. He had never had a spiritual partner before, someone to explore philosophy and the mind with. “If you want to, of course.”

Piper thought about it, genuinely thought about it. She hadn't felt anything so strongly since she started abusing her prescriptions years ago, yet here was this boy who not only sent and saw her tossed back and forth by the rough waves of it, but weathered the swells and undertows with her just by being there. She thought of the calm he helped direct her to, one that not even her chemical assistants could bring her to.

“I'd like that,” she finally landed on, nervous but genuine. She was about to sat more when she heard an alarm tone from below the cliff, and she sighed dejectedly when she realized it was Butler's watch keeping them to her schedule. The waves of the real world crashed over her and she frantically pulled her cellphone out, opening it to a new contact And thrusting the device his way. “Shit, shit,” She only had a couple of minutes before Butler came up to drag her off, as per the usual routine since she always resisted. She could already hear him walking up the slope that she always ignored in favor of climbing. “Here, your number, quick.”

In the distance, gradually ascending the slope towards them, a man in a fine black suit and he was making Piper incredibly nervous. He was also forcing her to abandon the calm she had found in favour of the chaos she started with. Adam didn’t like that. He followed the man’s movement and was confident that he could destroy him easily. He would start at the ankle, the way Butler walked he had a pre-existing ligament tear. It wouldn’t take much pressure to rip the joint out of place. One swift kick could do it or a forced bad step in the wrong direction. For what it was worth, Adam rarely started a fight but he always ended it. He didn’t like the look in Piper’s eyes, it was fearful, almost childlike in its innocence.

Listening to his better angels, the martial artist took a hold of the girl's phone and typed in his number. He rarely used his phone, it only had a handful of contacts in and no social apps. Adam was old school and preferred to talk to people face to face, when he could be bothered to string the words together of course. “There.” The man was getting closer and closer and he could see the goosebumps on Piper's arms grow and her body quake. He smiled sweetly and softly towards her, giving her whatever reassurance he could muster in such a simple act. “I’m around.”

The smile Piper gave him was the smallest and fakest she'd given since coming up the cliff. Butler's stalwartly oppressive presence was now at her back as she received her phone from Adam's hold and shoved it back into her blazer pocket and looking into his eyes she was struck with a sudden thought.

He's not going to like the next part.

“Time to go,” Butler intoned, and she could practically feel the vibrations from his deep voice shake her core. Piper stayed stubbornly, trying to ignore Butler and continuing staring into serene green that now seemed alight in warning. “Celeste is going to be upset with you,” Piper bit her lip but continued to ignore the man, literally digging her bare heels into the coarse ground, and Butler growled, “Piper, stop being a child.”

Butler’s hand closed around her wrist like the ball and chain that he was, cuffing her and beginning the usual drag away from freedom that broke her spirit a little more each time. Her face twisted angrily at the vice like grip and she leaned back against the pull, slapping uselessly at his meaty wrists.

“I hate you!” She cried desperately, just like always. “I hate you I hate you I hate you!!!”

“Hate me all you want, you don't sign my paycheck.”

Adam could not abide this; not for a second. Like a flash, he found himself behind Butler and let loose a sharp pointed kick just above the older man’s ankle and deep into the calf muscle. His green eyes looked at the panicked ones of Piper and he simply put his finger to his lips. “Go.” Was all he said as he stood over the fallen man who had begun writing around in agony. Adam had made sure to not cause any major damage to the servant but he had done enough to give him a shock to his system. Kneeling down on the dusty cliffside, the fighter’s serene eyes widened with an almost feral intensity. For he was once a stream and now a raging tempest. “Touch her again and you won’t walk again.”

“You have no idea what you're doing, kid.” Butler responded, but didn’t move from his spot.

Piper stood frozen for moment as she stared at the easily downed form of the man that both protected and helped cage her for her whole life, but as Adam kneeled down to say something to Butler, she did as the amazing boy instructed and flew past them, down the walking path that she'd never taken before. Rocks tore at her bare feet and branches scratched at her arms and face but that was fine, she had spare clothes and makeup in her locker at school. She could get back there on foot in twenty minutes at a proper pace, and she'd be alone the entire time. An almost manic giggle fell from her lips and didn't stop as she hit the beach parking lot and tore past the car. She couldn't stop it, and she slowed her pace in order to be able to maintain the small amount of air she did manage to drag into her lungs. She could text Adam a thank you later, but right now she was laughing and smiling, red faced and probably looking a little crazy, because she just came to one very important realization about what had just transpired.

Damn the consequences, someone finally fought for me.





“A-ho Charlie,

I still don’t fully understand this whole need of yours to communicate via letters…well I mean I do, it’s because you’re a nerd who loves to read and you’re also terrible at answering your phone but I digress. It’s been a little while since we last spoke, the move out west was hectic and trying to slot myself into a brand new life has been tough. Tell me again why I decided to do this? Anyway, Decky and the crew say hi! Aunt Jadyn says don’t knock Poppy up. Seriously though don’t do it, we can’t afford a baby. Wrap your tool big brother. Also tell her I love her and miss her.

Well what can I say really? Beverly Hills is a completely different animal to the Reservation and Gravette. We thought we had it rough, these kids, by the Creator, they are an absolute mess. Seriously, Charlie Jay, I am absolutely surrounded by Alexis and David Rose’s. You would have a conniption and probably wanna pull guns. Not even kidding, my first day here I saw a group of girls doing a choreographed dance number on the roof. Like who even does that?

Once I got all my stuff moved into Jadyn’s I decided to go out and look for a job before the first week of school started. Luckily, most places here are always hiring part time staff, so it didn’t take long for me to get signed up to this little coffee shop called Plouf. I know Jadyn said I could stay with her free of charge but I’m not gonna let auntie take me in and not pay her something back. I wasn’t raised like that.

Still trying to get a bead on the social situation here. There’s a lot of cliques and clubs here, it’s damn near tribal. We’ve got the Hive, there’s an Elite here too! There are literally two open drug running groups called the PLC and the Toxic Twins, like how even does that work? Fucking white people. I’ve met a few people who seem cool, like my new colleagues at Plouf, Penny and Kim. This girl, Isla, is absolute adorbs. There’s also a lot of potential here for me to get my flirt on. And before you roll your eyes like I know you are absolutely doing as you’re reading this; your baby sister is single and allowed to mingle. Not all of us get to live next to our soulmates all our lives. There’s some big party tonight, maybe I’ll meet someone or someones. You know me, love enough for everyone.

The homesickness is getting real now. I know it’ll pass in time, I know I’ll find my people here and I can grow towards the light with them like a bundle of flowers but it doesn’t mean I miss everyone any less. Topanga, Heather, Forrest and you, you stupid shitass. I wish you were here but I know you’ve got your senior year to deal with too and obviously your time is consumed with Pops and writing the next great American novel. Still, if at any point you wanna come visit, I wouldn’t be against it.

I guess I’ll leave you with this quote I found the other day from Chief Dan George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation;
May the stars carry your sadness away. May the flowers fill your heart with beauty. May hope forever wipe away your tears. And, above all, may silence make you strong.

It made me think of you, you know since you can’t go a single conversation without quoting something from a dusty old book. The libraries are huge here Charlie Jay, you’d love them.

Konoronhkwa
Your sister,
Mitena.”





With the letter safety deposited in the nearest post box and her latest big hat purchase safely adorned on the top of her raven head, Tena tapped the side of her AirPods, the song playing a gentle reminder of those she left behind. Paint the Silence was going to be her brother's wedding song someday. She tightly held the string of her satchel with both hands and began the short walk towards her new school.

Her outfit of the day was bold and would no doubt draw some attention to her but that didn’t much matter to her. Mitena was a quick study and an avid learner. She knew that the majority of her new compatriots loved to have all eyes on them and that was fine. She hadn’t joined the student body of Beverly Hills High to steal a crown or win a popularity contest. She had done so in search of that elusive thing called adventure.

Life in its early stages had not been too kind for Mitena Strongbow. Her father James had already breathed his last breath in this world before she had taken her first. The Reservation that was raised on didn’t have much, most kids were sent away for schooling. It was truly destitute but Tena was happy there. She had her Mom and her aunties and the community always looked out for its own.

Then her Mom got the diagnosis that they had all been dreading; cancer. She fought with all she could but soon she was gone and Tena was alone.
She bounced around from there; house to house, friend to friend, then one day she received a letter from a boy named Charlie. He spoke like someone with a vast education and claimed to be her brother through James, born a month before her. It was the curiosity and want for excitement that led her to jump on a train to Gravette to meet this boy. When she arrived, Tena didn’t find her long lost brother in the throes of high society, a tortured poet amongst the upper class, she found a boy, in dirty black jeans, a leather jacket and deeply embedded in the underbelly and macabre landscape of a forgotten time and place.

She loved him instantly.

After that, Mitena regularly took the train to see her brother and his friends, some of whom became like a new family for her. Before the end of her junior year of high school, she received a call from her aunt Jadyn; who asked if she wanted to come stay with her and experience her senior year under the shining light of the Hollywoodland sign. At first she was unsure but Charlie told her that some of his friends had moved out that way so she wouldn’t be alone. Plus he reminded her of a promise Tena had made to her mother once upon a time; a promise that she would never allow adventure to pass her by. So, she accepted and after selling most of her belongings, the young indigenous girl found herself on a plane to the land of make believe to see truly how the other half lived.

With the song still reverberating in her ears, Tena wandered the halls towards her homeroom, her eyes dancing like flickering candles as she watched the people around her. There were young couples, lost and in love, like the theatre girl and the metal head, there were boys up to mischief, there was whatever the fuck that Addie girl was, truly if BHHS was an island it would be one for misfit toys. Perhaps it was Neverland and she was now wading through the armies that called themselves the Lost Boys?

Wherever she was, Mitena Strongbow was ready to take it on head first. Like her brother always said ”There was a tide in the affairs of men.” And when that tide became a wave, she intended to ride it all the way to the end and see what was beyond the horizon.
LOCATION: Kim's Residence ➜ Plouf ➜ School Hallway
TIMESTAMP: Early morning, before Homeroom.
Text to Katie at the end @smarty0114

____________________________________________________________________



____________________________________________________________________
@BrutalBx & @LovelyComplex

One thing that someone could never accuse the Osso household of being was quiet. Vincent and Capri knew that they wanted a big traditional Italian family. So when they moved from New Jersey to LA when Vince got a big promotion, they knew that was the time to get started in fulfilling their dreams.

Robert was first, every inch looking just like his father: same temperament too. Quiet, subdued but authoritative. He served in the marines and was now working in private security, Clarissa was their darling, bright and clever. She was essentially a mirror to their mother. She was a teacher. Sienna was the middle child, a creative and highly intelligent young woman working in law. The baby of the family was Richard, a sophomore at BHHS, he was treated as such by his family, much to his own chagrin. Amidst the sea of Osso’s there was one more sibling, Anthony or as he liked to be called, Oz. The Osso’s did not believe in the concept of a black sheep in the family but if ever there was one, it was Ozzy.

With a wild mane of frizzy chocolate brown hair, tattoos on his arms and chest and a wardrobe that would not look out of place in the 1980’s, Oz was entering into his senior year of high school no longer the devout Italian catholic choir boy he was raised to be. Vincent blamed himself for this. Antonio Tiziano Osso had two Godfathers, one was his fathers best friend of many years, Tiziano Belmonte and the other was Jon Bongiovi, yes that Bon Jovi, whom Vince was neighbors with back in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. It didn’t take a genius to work out who was the bigger influence on young Anthony.

The large house was always in great chaos, with kids running around, grandkids running around, different genres of music blaring from every bedroom. It was messy and it was hectic but it was also fun. Ozzy was usually the last of the family to wake up, normally because he’d been out partying the night before or his Dungeons and Dragons campaign ran into the wee hours. However this first week back at BHHS had been different to the norm, Oz was one of the first up and out of the door. What changed this year? Well he had something to wake up for.

Her name was Kim.

Ozzy’s vintage Harley Chopper purred through the gleaming and shining streets of Beverly Hills as he rode his way towards his First Lady of Rock. He had his Rich Warlock guitar slung around his back, the stereo cranked up to eleven and the wind throwing his hair back like a God. Kim and Oz were two people that you could never picture together but then when you see them, they make all the sense they can in a fucked up world. She, the theatre beauty, perceptive and wise beyond her years. Somewhat of a wallflower in comparison to some of her more dramatic compatriots. Ozzy, a throwback rabble rouser with an army of freaks and geeks who hung upon his every word like he was the messiah of the misfits.

They were not meant to be together.

Yet on that fateful summer night, Kimber found herself alone at the Drive In, at the exact same time that Oz was called to help fix a mechanical fault. There she was, by herself, watching a damn monster movie. Maybe it was the way the old projector lit up her smile or that cute red skirt she was wearing but Ozzy couldn’t help but invite himself into her parents’ car that she had taken for the evening and find himself falling in love instantly. He had been touched by some ancient runic magic or maybe he had just listened to too many power ballads that day but either way, the last ceased to exist when he looked at her face.

The bike began to slow as Oz pulled into Kim’s street. He slowly came to a stop outside her house and already her neighbours were poking their judgemental heads out of their curtains to see the reprobate in their way to pristine looking cul-de-sac. “I’ll show you, ya fucking shitsticks.” With a wry smile on his face and throwing up the devil horns in full view, Ozzy turned up his radio and began to belt out the lyrics of Meatloaf's Bat Out Of Hell. Opera Rock was rock too bitch.

“The sirens are screaming and the fires are howling
Way down in the valley tonight
There's a man in the shadows with a gun in his eye
And a blade shining oh so bright.”


Where there was chaos, there was order. Disorder had a secret order, purpose and meaning and at times, chaos was more organized than order. Order could be too restrictive, rigid, and rigorous, while chaos could be too complex, confusing, and challenging. Together though? They made sense. They needed one another and balanced each other out in the end. Order, no matter how Kimber Benson looked at it, was an absolute necessity. She needed a routine. She needed her checklists. She needed minimal blemishes and minimal wrinkles. She needed things to make sense.

Reason being? Kim was never one for change or disruption during her day. Everything she did had a distinct flow to it. Her mind was chaotic enough with ideas constantly hitting her at random times that she absolutely needed everything else to stay in their place. Growing up it was her and her mother versus the world. She was able to dream big, create worlds and play make believe in her favorite place in the world: home. Things were simple. Her mother would write and she would curiously ask her questions and listen to her stories. She’d also scribble her own stories which at first was illegible because she didn’t know how to write. As she grew older and became literate, what she wrote was clear as day. When her pen met paper the ideas flowed like a free and flowing stream. Sometimes the ideas rushed out and spun like a whirlpool. And other times? The ideas fell into a black hole never to return again. Her chaotic mind, dazed and confused, overstimulated at the most inopportune moments. Her chaotic mind existed because she couldn’t help but dream. Her chaotic mind needed order.

When her mom met her step dad, which included a step brother, her world came crashing and she found herself outside her house, more often than not, with her best friend, Katie, who was a constant in her life. Constants were good. Constants were great. Constants meant nothing’s changed. In time she was able to adjust and accept her new family but it still took time. The next challenging obstacle that forced her to adjust was when Katie met Scott. Imagine having a friend for so long and then a boy comes around and takes her away from you. That, of course, was only how she perceived it due to her inability to accept change right away. Thankfully she had Niles who became a constant gradually and steadily freshman year. His mom’s death was a hard thing to process but she allowed herself to show up and be his constant, because as fragile as she can be, he needed stability, repetition and uniformity more than her. She’d like to think her hate for change became more manageable after that tragedy. Change was inevitable and it was up to her to continue onward and adjust. She had no choice but to adjust.

Now Kim was dating a boy, who she got more acquainted with during the summer, that was mayhem and madness incarnate. She didn’t expect to have company while watching Godzilla. He saw her and asked if he could join. She was lost for words and before she knew it, he was in her car, giving her a goofy smile and they were sharing popcorn. This simple chance encounter led to them exchanging phone numbers, texting all summer, and going on more dates than she could count. This was different for her. It was clearly a change but she liked it and that was new.

While she was more willing and open minded, there were times where Kim knew she was going to malfunction from his unpredictability, from his randomness, and from his rowdy behavior, and during those instances, he somehow knew how to handle her with care. It was different. It wasn't a bad different. It was just different. With her brother off to college and her parents on their annual anniversary trip, Kim had the house to herself. She didn’t tell her boyfriend because there were many factors she needed to consider like what if he wanted to stay over the night? What if she was tossed around by fate and suddenly they both were in the same bed and things escalated? What if they had… sex? Yeah, no, she couldn’t have that happen. Not yet. She didn’t know if she was ready or not.

It wasn’t that she was defensive either. Kim was a cautious girl and it seemed that Anthony Osso gave her this unusual impulse where she wanted to throw all caution out the door. With him, she could never predict what happens next and Kim liked knowing what happens next. She liked having a hold on the chaos. She liked the peace in knowing what to expect and understanding what she was feeling before she felt any feeling. With Anthony Osso, she was completely and utterly out of her element and the only thing she could do was go with the flow, hoping she didn’t drown in the process.

In a red cardigan, black skirt, knee high nude nylons, and ankle boots, Kim inched the front door to her house open to see Oz waiting for her on his bike (god, she still wasn’t used to riding on a motorcycle to school). He was howling and roaring, causing a mild disruption in her quiet, little neighborhood. He was unabashedly himself and he was happy. Handsome. Taking a quick breath, the dainty writer nodded, building up the courage to approach him, like she did everyday since they started to officially date. Exiting her house, closing it behind her and making sure it was locked, Kim met his gaze and gave a little smile. After tightening her backpack straps and securing her bag, she strolled to the boy, her heart skipping a beat the closer she got. “Good morning, Meatball,” she coyly greeted and teased. “I hope the ride here wasn’t too rough.”

"My dearest lady, what is life without a few speed bumps?” Ozzy smiled that goofy smile of his as he responded to his girlfriend in a mock English accent, which admittedly was not terrible. He climbed off of his bike, took one hand to his chest and swept the other out as he bowed his wild head of hair to the throne of his beloved.

Anthony knew Kim to be sensitive but had never truly understood the ins and outs of it until they began talking over the summer. It was part of the reason he was taken aback when their relationship progressed to where it currently was as boyfriend/girlfriend. Ozzy was mad, bad, dangerous to know and had been accused of everything from vandalism (he did it), theft (only a candy bar or five) and starting a cult (it was just a dungeon campaign but the nerds would do anything he said). If Beauty and the Beast truly existed, they were standing outside of Kimber Benson’s, out blasting classic rock.

Oz placed his hands on his girlfriend's waist and leaned on to gently kiss her soft cheek. “You look really pretty today.” The reality was simple, Anthony had fallen hard and fallen fast for Kim. The last thing he ever wanted to do was pressure her or make her feel in any way uncomfortable around him. He knew that PDA was not her thing, especially since there were so many who didn’t even know they were together yet, including Kim’s best friend. For her, the metal man was as soft as butter. On their first “date” at the drive in, when he invited himself to watch Godzilla with her; she said she thought he might be mean and scary, that stung. Even with his brand of chaos, the one thing Oz prided himself on was being a good man, a nice guy. He was always a gentleman, always polite, he just had a habit of unleashing a rabid tribe of frustrated geeks and freaks onto the populace. But mean and scary? That was an eye opener for sure.

"You ready?”

For this matter specifically, riding a motorcycle, Kim was wearing shorts under her skirt. She also made sure it was slim and straight fit to prevent flapping. She didn’t own many black articles of clothing and she didn't necessarily like wearing jeans. She made it work even if it was a little embarrassing. Nodding at her boyfriend, she grabbed his helmet hanging off the handle (he only brought one for her, which wasn’t safe at all since he should be wearing one too!) and gradually put it on her head, hoping her hair didn’t get ruined that much. She waited for Oz to get on his bike mounting from the left side. Watching him quietly, he shifted the bike upright and kicked up the side stand. He proceeded to glance at her which was her signal to get on. With Oz balanced, she did just that, following the steps he had gone over with her when they first started going to school together. As both of her feet rested on the foot pegs, Kim’s petite arms wrapped around his waist, holding him tightly. She was secured and: “Ready,” she finally answered.

”Then let’s rock.” Ozzy revved the engine multiple times before throwing up the devil horns and letting loose a Gene Simmons-eaque tongue for the neighbors to grimace at. He kicked the pedal and the Harley roasted into monstrous life. Anthony pulled the bike around the smooth circle that was the cul-de-sac before opening up the gas to allow for them to shoot out towards the rest of their day.

It might seem to most that Oz rode like a madman and in some respects he did. However with Kim on the back, he was not no way no how risking her safety. He just wouldn’t do it. The steel horse which acted as the young couple's chariot was his most prized possession next to the vintage guitar and leather jacket that Kim got him. Oz took such care of the beautiful machine, treating it finer the more gentle than he would a child. And he would know because he used to throw his brother Ricky around like he was a potato. It was fine, he had that disease that made his bones all weird, he could take it.

After a relatively short ride; Oz stopped the bike outside of Plouf, this hot little cafe just shy of the school grounds. Kim worked there, along with a few of their friends and it had the best breakfast pastries. Kimmy always liked to be early, so the early dawn couple had time before they had to be at school. The metal Lord hopped off the bike and once he had dusted himself off, slowly removed Kim’s helmet as she remained seated and hung it on the handle bars. “Look at you, absolutely perfect.” He smiled at her as his large hands came up to pat down a tiny amount of stray hairs adorning her auburn hair. “”You want breakfast or a coffee? My treat.”

Actively skipping over the compliment, she looked up at him. “Breakfast. Bacon, egg and cheese on an everything bagel, with OJ, please and thank you.” Kim was quick to answer, having finally gotten into a place in their relationship where she was willing to let him treat her. A month ago she would’ve rushed to pay and tell him that he didn’t need to, she could take care of herself, but with time she was able to put her pride down and let him treat her. She would be lying if she said she didn’t like how it made her feel, being taken care of. “We can get my discount too.” she said matter of factly, happy about the perks that came with the job. Intently their gaze lingered on one another. She wanted to kiss him but didn’t have the courage to initiate. Instead she gave him her sweet, serene and shy simper and broke the tension by heading in first. “Your lady is waiting and hungry.”

In some ways, it was the innocence of Kimber that really drew Oz in. It was captivating to watch her discover and feel things for the first time, things that she had walled herself off from. There was a kind of magic in the beholding of a person truly experiencing something that they never had before. There were small moments, like the one they just had, where he would look at her lips and she would look at his and he could tell by the sparkle on the big brown eyes that she wanted to kiss him but didn’t bring herself to. Not because she didn’t want to but the moment, the need and yearning, she hadn’t had that before. Oz was her first boyfriend, the first real one and he didn’t want her to regret that. The future was the future and he didn’t know what it held or what experiences were to follow for them as individuals and as a couple but he wanted to wait and find out.

He followed her into Plouf and watched her hand over the sexy ass black card which got her a decent discount. Usually it was Kim on the other side of the counter, or Penny or that new girl whose name he hadn’t learned to pronounce yet. Of course she ordered her breakfast bagel and juice without even a second blink, Kimmy was a creature of habit after all. ”Fried egg sandy for me, grazie gentilmente.” Ozzy tapped his phone on the card reader after the cashier had rung up their order and then returned his attention to Kim. ”They’ll bring it out to us, come on. I want to sit outside.” He nodded to the server with a smile. ”Cheers kemosabe.”

Oz soon led Kim to a tiny garden to the side of Plouf, they were the only ones there and the sun was perfectly glowing around them as he took a seat but kept a hold of her hand. ”Come here, sit.”

As they sat down, Kim took a moment to breathe and relax, placing her backpack by her foot. Her shoulders eased, her lips parted, and her heart steadied. The sun was warm. It gleamed down on her face and made her comfy and cozy. It wasn’t blinding, not yet at least. It was too early for the sun to be at its peak. She took in the fresh air and smiled to herself. She loved mornings. The quiet, the nature, and the peace of it all. This would be her favorite part of the day when she could sit, whether alone or with Oz, and enjoy the calm. Mornings were lovely and it made her appreciate the little things. It made her happy.

Daydreaming was something that came often to Kim, so much so that she sometimes didn’t realize when she was in a trance, stuck in her world of imagination. It wasn’t until she brought her attention from a flower with a bee resting on it to the person sitting across from her that she noticed how careful Oz was watching her. How focused and unwavering. His mind didn’t wander when he was with her and that was different to say the least. To be all someone thought about in a moment, she couldn’t really fathom that he loved her like that. Why would he love her like that? She was average. Nothing special.

Warm blood was sent to her fair cheeks when their eyes met again and she suddenly felt hot, and not just because of the sun. She didn’t want to look like an unsophisticated fool unable to hold a conversation with a boy she cared about deeply. Kim struggled. When she was with Oz she was tongue tied and she couldn’t think straight. She didn’t want him to regret ever taking a chance with her but why was it so hard to act normal? Was this how they were going to be for the rest of the year or was this the feeling you experience during the beginning of all relationships where you learn to adjust and get used to affection from someone else? Kim didn’t know. She may never know. Why couldn’t she know? God, she was so out of her element.

Clearing her throat, Kim modestly began, “Katie is caught up with Jamie and AJ again… I’m hoping this weekend, maybe even at the game today I can tell her about you. It’s so easy to get Niles to listen. Katie. Well, obviously, not so much. But I really want her to know we’re dating. I’m sorry if I’ve been making you feel any type of way. It’s not that I don’t want to, I promise.” It was the mere fact she didn’t know when was a good time nor did she want her friend to think she was taking the spotlight from her. Katie was a busy girl, and with the student election approaching, that was keeping her occupied. Add her time with Scott and her brother’s drama, that left little room for Kim to bring up anything about herself. Lately, their relationship felt one sided but that could be Kim’s insecurities getting the best of her. Katie was her best friend, no doubt, and she knew if she just spoke up she’d listen. She just had to… speak up. “I really like you, Anthony.” She admitted, trying her best to not look away like the blushing bride that she was.

”And I really like you too, Kimber.” Oz teased. Kim was one of only a few he would allow to use his Christian name. Hell, she could even use Antonio and he wouldn’t hate it. Every word sung through her ruby painted lips were hymns and gospel to his ears. “Listen.” He used both of his hands to cover hers and held them together in unison, entwined like their lives had become. “I don’t know if you’ve realized this about me but…I’m a fucking weirdo.” Oz’s grin widened from ear to ear; despite his admittedly scary visage, his smile was always warm and welcoming. “Katie is your best friend and she will love whatever choices you make in your life. You can tell her about me tonight or you can tell her about me a year from now, honestly it doesn’t bother me because I either really like being your dirty little secret or I just like being with you..”

He picked Kim’s hands up to kiss her knuckles; the heat of the growing sun baring down like a comfort blanket. “I have never needed anyone’s approval in my life. Babe, my family wears suits at the dinner table. I ain’t conforming to that shit and I’m sure as shit not going to conform to the rules and regulations of a high school teen drama. OK?” Ozzy let out a short, stifled laugh. “I want you, like to infinitum but I also want you to be happy and comfortable and safe. So you gotta' do things in your own time.”

The server brought out their breakfasts and placed them in front of them. As she did, Oz let go of Kim’s hand for a second to rip the girl cash before she moved on. “One day; you are going to find something, that same something you use when your writing and your gonna bask in it and you’re gonna grow in it and this fucking world isn’t gonna know what hit them and I’ll be behind you every step of the way. Shredding my guitar and riding your coattails. Cos we fucking rock babe, you’re my lady and I’m your meatball.”

“You say that so assuredly,” Kim impulsively responded. The doubt setting in, after hearing all the sweetest little things that Oz believed and felt. It wasn’t that she didn’t believe him. She had no reason not to. She wanted to fully give in and let all these positive emotions take hold of her, grabbing the wheel of her heart, while it drove them toward paradise. For some reason she was programmed to be hesitant, cautious and a little afraid. Not of him but of the idea that someone genuinely liked her for her and not just in a platonic sense but as lovers do. Still the doubt questioned what he saw in her. Why was he so committed? He made it sound like he was there to stay. What made him believe it would all work out in the end? What made him believe she was right for him? What made him believe there was no one else that would suit him better? There was nothing there. Just a girl and her pen, but beyond that? She was normal. A backdrop in someone else’s story.

Nursing her glass of OJ in her hand, Kim peered down, getting lost in the liquid. Clarifying her thoughts out loud, she anxiously asked, “What makes you so sure you’ll be with me every step of the way? Why would you even want to? I’m not like a star or anything. Aside from my writing, there really isn’t anything unique about me. Your weird life is yours and it’s so different from mine. I just… I feel like you’re going to get bored of me. I mean look at me.” Kim released the cup to clasp her hands together, looking at him thoughtfully even if her beautiful, hazel eyes were searching for answers. She was in her head and being a little self degrading, the fact that she hadn’t told her best friend yet about him was weighing heavily on her mind, but her focus, attention, and most importantly, heart was all on him. “I’m not pretty or interesting. I’m mediocre at best.”

“Mediocre? Ozzy shook his head in disbelief. “Mediocre,” He repeated, hanging his head and staring at the warm yolk leaking out of his breakfast sandwich, just like his Mama made them. “MEDIOCRE!” With pure recklessness Anthony flung himself backwards in his chair, sending his body flying away from the table where he would hit the ground. He rolled to his feet in a grandiose performative masterpiece, spreading his arms wide to soak in the adulation of his crowd of one.

“My dear lady, mediocrity is a social construct designed to keep the geniuses and artists of the world locked in their cages of self defamation and doubt. Mediocrity is a word, a racial slur used to stop the mad ones, the ones mad to live, to chase, to dream, to fucking rock and stop them from taking over.” Oz hurried around to the west facing part of the table, kneeling swiftly at Kim’s side. “Mediocrity, is a tool that they’re trying to use to stop you from being the you, inside your heart. The you I see. It’s all there babe, in your writing, in your words. The one thing you wield more powerfully that anyone else. Your skill with the quill is undeniable, like you and me.”

He could not hide the adoration in his eyes for her, he wouldn’t want to anyway. Oz was honest and unashamedly himself at all times. Mediocre was not in his vocabulary. “Yes I did just quote Hamilton, you’re rubbing off on me, Kim. And I wouldn’t want it or you any other way.”

If she wasn’t blushing now she certainly was after that showcase. She surrounded herself with actors and immersed herself in theater like her soul depended on it but nothing on her lengthy resume prepared her for Anthony “Oz” Osso. “You didn’t answer the question of what makes you so sure about me, Sir,” She protested, clearly probing for validation. She crossed her arms and looked away from the boy kneeling before her. This was a strange image for any person that passed by; she was sure. Goodness, her next shift would come faster than she wanted and there was no way her coworkers wouldn’t talk and ask her what happened this lovely Friday morning. She could already feel their eyes on them. On her. And her sandwich was certainly getting cold. “All this fluff.” She grumbled, trying to be stubborn and not give into his sweet nothings. “You see me as a talented writer. Whoop-dee-doo. I write, it’s my passion. I know.” Her inner brat that only he got to see came to the surface. She was an only child for most of her life until she gained a step brother. The brat was there even if she tried to hide it with class but only Oz knew how to bring it out. Her voice dropped into a mutter and she pouted, “Me not being mediocre has nothing to do with your feelings for me.”

“Mmmm, ‘Kay.” Typical Kim. Oz had come to expect in their short time together that she would dissect his words like a surgeon, looking for any loophole her brain can use to self sabotage. She couldn’t help it and he didn’t blame her, that was just her mind. He got to his feet and made his way behind her, placing his hands on either side of her neck. “You wanna know what makes me so sure? Fine.” Anthony’s fingers gently tapped and danced around her neck and lower skull, tickling, teasing and massaging. “How about the simple fact that being around you makes me feel like there’s a swarm of butterflies just flapping around in my gut? Or that when you're deep in thought, day dreaming, you chew the end of your pencil and it makes me smile more than anything else in the world? Or perhaps, dearest maiden…”

Oz span her chair with sheer force to face him and with a smile he pulled her into his arms. Kim latched onto him for dear life as he hoisted her up and placed her down on a table. With their faces inches away from each other, Ozzy raised his hand to caress her cheek and lip. “When you look at me, with those big hazel eyes and you smile, I literally can see only you. The world just falls apart and it’s just you. I can’t explain it, words aren’t my thing. Like when you kiss me, you’re a fucking goddess and I’m your humble servant.” His voice lowered into a whisper as he spoke directly into her mouth. “I’m sure because I’m sure.”

For a beast, he really knew how to make a girl melt. Effortlessly he moved her to the table, pushing her food so her skirt didn’t get any yoke on it. Her legs were open with him in between them, his face so close to her’s that all she could do was look up and see him. Kim had forgotten that she was outside her workplace. She had forgotten what she was complaining about. She had forgotten that today was a school day and if they didn’t start eating soon, they would be late. She had forgotten where she was at because she was happy to be wherever he was. What a strange feeling, to find someone you can’t get enough of. This was her boyfriend and he adored her.

Wrapping her hands around him, tangling her hands with his hair, Kim brushed her lips with his, teasingly, and then she closed her eyes and kissed him. She savoured their kiss, having thought about it all night. Her body leaned into his and her legs tightened around his waist. She could feel the heat and electricity course through her body. It went from gentle to rough in a matter of seconds and as a reward, she made an unexpected, delicious sound in his mouth. Her face beamed red when that happened and she pulled away, “W-we should eat.”

“I feel like I just did.” Ozzy chuckled as he licked his bottom lip, catching a secondary buzz from the residual taste of Kim’s mouth on his. “But yeah, I can totally go for some eggs.” The way she was in that moment; staring up at him, wrapped around him, that was the real her; the Kim only Oz truly got to see. She was wild, there was fire in her just burning away in her chest trying to spread into something resembling an inferno. He couldn’t deny it in moments like this, he had utterly fallen in love with her. It had only been two months but to him, Kim felt like the missing piece of his heart puzzle and now it had finally been fit.




Having finished their breakfast, Kim and Oz hopped back on his Harley and made their way towards Beverly Hills High. Once his baby was locked up tighter than a chastity belt, the metal head walked hand in hand with his girl down the hallways. It was safe to say both were walking in a bubble of their own making, a bubble of bliss and need. If any eyes were staring at them, Ozzy didn’t care because by the axe of James Hetfield he was fucking happy.

Once they were outside of Ms. Belmonte’s class, he felt that horrible pang in his heart, he knew it was time to say goodbye, at least for a little while. Glancing over to his right, in the distance stood a handful of alternatives; an audience of goths, rockers, nerds and misfits: Ozzy’s people. “The unwashed masses await me, my lady. And your adoring public await you.” He took off his leather jacket and offered it to his beloved. “You’ll never catch me dead in a Letterman but I can offer you this. In case you’re feeling like rising above mediocrity.” He smiled, his gaze never leaving hers. “And if not, well you can give it back after lunch and we can go make out in the drama room. Your choice.”

Switching her backpack for his jacket, she took his armour and put it on. It was huge on her. If Katie didn’t think she was dating someone when she saw her wearing this, then her friend was clearly delusional and caught up with her own agenda. Grabbing her backpack from him, she bit her bottom lip, debating something. Once a mental battle with herself came and went, a good sparring match inside her head where only one thought would remain victorious, she blurted, “Do you want to come over, tonight? To watch a movie? My parents aren’t home for the weekend and the company would be nice.” This could be a great way for her to officially introduce Oz to Katie, if the jacket wasn’t a dead giveaway. “I’ll make a nice spread for us and get the best blankets and pillows… it’ll be really comfy.”

Oz was no fool, irregardless of how he was perceived sometimes. A lesser man would assume that this was Kim asking him over for sex but he knew her better than that. When the time was right for them, the time would be right. This was her reaching out and allowing him to take a step further into her world, it was a sweet gesture that he very much appreciated. The more time he could spend with his lady, the better. Kimber had been quite guarded for much of their dating, a far cry from Ozzy had his Ozness, so any glimpse he got into her life was one to be cherished. “I’ll be there. You want me to bring anything?”

“… something sweet?” Kim offered, taking a mental note of everything she was preparing. Sure there would be popcorn, mocktails and a charcuterie board, but she didn’t consider dessert. Cannolis maybe? Or a cake. She was sure whatever Oz brought it would be yummy. She couldn’t wait. Kim wasn’t one to indulge in her cravings often but tonight she’d treat herself. It was a big night after all. If Katie was down for a movie party, tonight would be the night she disclosed her two-month long secret, who was standing in front of her with long hair, ripped jeans, and metal in his soul.

“That I can do.” Oz leaned in and kissed his girlfriend's full red lips; talking of sweetness, she was the sweetest thing he’d ever tried. There was order and there was chaos, one could not live without the other, to feed and take from one another in symbiosis and harmony. It was fucking metal, man and so was love. Love was sweeter than honey and harder than steel. So were Kim and Oz. “See you later?”

Breathlessly, Kim replied, “Yeah, of course.” She embraced him one last time, nuzzling her face against his chest and squeezing him, not wanting him to leave but knowing they had to go about their school day. This was the worst part of the day. “See you, Meatball.” And with that the metalhead was off and Kim entered her homeroom, which happened to be more eventful than she anticipated. Chaotic even, and that was okay.

As she sat in her chair, she smiled, peering down at her phone tapping it against her hand, in thought.

She texted her best friend.

TO: Kater-Tater
Are you free tonight?
For movie night? My place?
It's been awhile since we had one. 🥺
Kim

Timestamp: 7:15 AM
Location: Beverly Hills High Gymnasium
Romi Rae Carling
@Brutalbx


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Romi Rae spun her body to the seductive synth rhythm that was dancing in her ears. Gripping the oak panel walls of the gymnasium with her violet colored nails, a bead of perspiration dripped down her neck and collarbone, down towards the sports bra that protected her modesty. She sharply and swiftly lowered herself down and back up into a smooth as silk body roll. Light fingertips traced bronzed skin as Romi felt herself to the beat. Post homeroom, there was time for a quick session, time enough to work up a decent sweat and burn off any extra unneeded calories. She had to keep the machine in perfect working order.

“GU-MI-OOOOOOH!”

“GU-MI-OOOOOOH!”

“GU-MI-OOOOOOH!”


There was absolutely nothing in this good world better than the roar of the crowd. It was like a drug, one taste of it could send one deep into the throes of addiction. To claw at their own skin, to thirst for that indescribable feeling, to breathe the rarified air which only comes from the voices of a brotherhood of misfits and miscreants chanting a name; cheering or booing dependent on their own deep rooted feelings of worth and want. No chemical substance could replicate such a rush. It didn’t matter if the crowd was a hundred or a hundred thousand, the craving, like Angelica Skylar, would never be satisfied.

Romi Rae could vividly remember the first time she had ever been struck by the bolt of lightning that for the rest of her natural born life she would be forever chasing. She must’ve been about five years old. It was Starcade, AWE’s biggest show of the year. MetLife stadium. She had been taken to a few shows in her young life but this was something different; there was magic in the air, you could smell it.

Her parents were so busy that day. Romi would come to know later in her life that every match day was like that for them. She remembered waking up that Sunday morning in the hotel room, snuggled up and bundled in bed. She opened her eyes and the first thing she saw was her dad scribbling on his notepad, he did that all the time; still did. Her father John Paul was always writing, always creating. Entire rooms in their house were dedicated to his creative process, mirrors, walls, napkins, if it could be written on, it was written on. Hotel rooms were no different. She held herself tighter into a ball and that’s when a thick lock of neon pink hair fell across her face and she felt the comfort, the warmth of her mother, squeezing her tiny frame with love.

Mileena Jayne Winslow, a goth girl outta Fairfield, Connecticut and the daughter of AWE legend The Faceless. To her adoring fans, she was MORGANA, the high flying technical wizard who enticed, delighted and destroyed all those that were graced with her presence. To Rosemary, she was just Mom. The day flew by quickly; with her Dad shooting off immediately at their arrival at the arena to go let the wrestlers know their creative for the night. Romi stayed with her Mom for the most part, at least until it was time for Mileena to go and get ready for her own match; a women’s title bout against Barbie Summers and yes, her gimmick was exactly what you think it was.

Romi Rae, sat on the lap of her parents' good friend the Death Adder and watched on the monitors in what’s known as the Gorilla position, the place just before the curtains where wrestlers await their entrances. Seeing a sold out crowd turn electric when the lights turned off and a single beam illuminated the most beautiful woman in the world, she was in awe. Even to this day, Romi remembered every move, every bump, every submission and hold like it was what she ate for breakfast. Then the bell rang and her mother hoisted the title above her candy floss hair. Rosemary looked up and saw her dad standing behind her, she didn’t even know he was there and he was crying. The little firecracker could not contain herself and took off through the curtain, she sprinted down the runway, security frantically chasing her until her grandfather, still a mountain of a man and a producer for AWE stopped them. Romi jumped into the ring and wrapped herself around her mothers leg and the sound in the stadium was deafening.

That’s when she knew that she was going to do it too.

Be a wrestler.

Be like her hero.

Be like her Mom.

The last twelve years, Romi Rae had dedicated everything she was into being a pro wrestler. As soon as her mother would allow her, she was in the ring which sat in their garage, running the ropes, taking bumps and watching lots of tape. She took martial arts lessons, worked summers at a trampoline park and then there were her favourites, gymnastics and dance. Over the years, Romi had honed her body into a walking weapon. Many of the other girls she came to know as friends and peers were gifted with fat asses and big tits but Romi Rae was something else altogether. She was a cardio machine, blessed with abs that would make grown men weep, beautifully toned legs and glutes and a work ethic that could not be matched, nobody could out work Romi Rae.

When she was sixteen, she asked her parents if her could go get her wrestling licence and start full time training with the AWE, her dad said yes, her mom said no. Undeterred, Romi knew what she wanted from life and if she had learned anything from anyone, it was that you take what you want. With her father in tow, Romi Rae got her licence and decided not to tell her mother. Soon after, she began working independent shows under the moniker of Gumiho, the Toxic Idol. A gimmick inspired by ghost stories her grandma back in Korea used to tell her and following the family tradition of macabre characters like her mother the witch and her grandfather the serial killer.

“GU-MI-OOOOOOH!”

“GU-MI-OOOOOOH!”

“GU-MI-OOOOOOH!”


Sweat clung to her body as Romi placed her hands behind her head and rolled her hips to the beat of the song. She didn’t know how it caught on but fans chanting her name like Rufio from Hook had become an internet meme, not that she hated it mind you, it was kind of cool. Although it had also generated a concern within her that Morgana herself would find out that Romi was wrestling illegally. Hell, when she got that tattoo last year, she was grounded for a month. Of course, Rosemary wore a mask in the ring but she knew that even shrouding her face would not stop a mother recognising her daughter. She just had to last until her eighteenth birthday, then it would be fine. A few more months and she could stop having to perpetuate the lie. Plus, she didn’t want to get her dad in trouble. Romi loved her dad, he was an absolute idiot but he adored her and only ever meant the best.

Leaping forward, the performer pressed her left foot to the flat surface of the wall and pushed off it with a three hundred and sixty degree kick and mid air tornillo before landing low with her long leg outstretched in her best Black Widow pose. ”Fuck.” She said to herself, the exasperation in Romi’s voice was thick as she tried to catch her breath. Placing her hands on her waist, she wandered towards a nearby bench where her bag awaited. Picking up a towel from the top of her holdall, she revealed a glint of purple, the mask of Gumiho, smiling at the world. Another thing her mother taught her, never leave home without your gear. You never know when you might get booked.

Drying off her face and dabbing her lithe body with the soft white cotton, Romi looked around the room with the soft brown eyes, just to make sure she had no unwanted guests. Loving the whole Hannah Montana double life thing was undeniably exciting and fun but the wrestler knew that it couldn’t last forever. Anyone at any time could figure out her secret and then her whole world would come crashing down. No more wrestling, no more dance, no more MMA.

Romi couldn’t think of any more of a tragedy than losing the things she loved.



Timestamp: Following Zooted
Location: Beverly Hills High Hallway > Gymnasium
Romi Rae Carling & Diana Green-Locke
@Brutalbx & @Aewin






Shotgunning felt like such an intimate thing. To take a puff then breathe it out into someone’s mouth. It felt more than a kiss, something that would make even a seasoned degenerate fanfic reader like Diana blush. Well, not that it was difficult to do so, but considering the kind of content she consumed on the regular? It was surprising she never came across anything like it before.

Now, why was shotgunning on her mind? Diana wasn’t exactly a stoner, despite her family being rather weed positive and plenty of dealers within her peer group alone. No, in reality, Diana saw the light.

The light being Monarch Wilson and Beatrix Kingsley shotgunning under the stairs. Before homeroom. Whew.

Diana left the scene with her heart racing and face buried in her phone, lit up by the reflection of Archive Of Our Own and scrolling through all the fics tagged as shotgunning, a new hyperfixation found. Maybe even—god forbid it—inspiration. Her butler remained stoic as ever beside her, keeping up with her hurried pace with ease. A silent sentinel to protect her who happened to be born into the Green family.

“Oh my god…” Diana turned to Butler in disbelief. [color= 69353f]“Over three thousand works and I’ve never encountered—NARUSASU?!”[/color] Diana cut herself off with a gleeful huff, thumbing her screen to open the yaoi fanfiction without a second of hesitation. Butler seemed unphased, too used to Diana’s many special interests.

Before shotgunning, it was Call of Duty fanfics (Diana understood the mask girls a little too well). And before COD, it was wrestling. Thanks to Romi Rae, Diana was introduced to the world of physical soap opera and she was obsessed. Diana particularly took to one Gumiho. Maybe it was the way she moved in the ring, or how powerful she seemed. Or, also a very valid option that Diana had come to learn, she really liked the mask.

“What… what if I write a Gumiho shotgunning fic…? Butler, thoughts?” The man remained silent, which Diana took as a sign. Yes.

So that is how the Green heiress found herself in the gymnasium, Butler standing guard at the entrance. Not for Diana to work out her very unholy thoughts, but to seek out the one person that seemed to know the most about Diana’s favourite wrestler. The young woman in question sat on the bench, dabbing away sweat as the music swelled around them, clearly having just finished her workout. Diana stood beside the bench, swinging on her heels as she captured Romi’s attention. Silent as a mouse, no doubt taking her pensive friend by surprise by getting straight into the topic as a greeting.

“I… I have an idea.”

“Fuck me sideways!” Romi had been lost in her own world until the moment the Green girl made her presence felt. “Where’d you come from?”

She had grown close to Diana over the last little while, she wasn’t exactly sure why. Romi Rae always had a heart for the lost and lonely things and Diana always seemed a little of both. God, she was talented though. Di had such a creative mind and watching her work was fascinating. Sure, some of the stuff she made up was not Romi’s speed or particular interest but she was still vaguely obsessed with her beautiful friend all the same. Recently, Diana had started asking questions about Gumiho and Romi Rae was sure that her fellow Korean queen had figured out her other identity.

“Idea? What idea?”

Diana's cheeks flushed a rosy pink as she fiddled nervously with the hem of her plaid skirt. Her doe eyes darted around the gymnasium, carefully avoiding direct eye contact with Romi as she tried to gather her courage. Come on Di, you can do this!This is just Romi.

“Home. S-so, I was thinking...” Diana began, her soft voice trailing off hesitantly. She took a deep breath, squaring her petite shoulders as she forced herself to meet Romi's curious gaze. “You know how I've been really into Gumiho lately? I had this idea for a new story...” She paused briefly, nose wrinkling. How the fuck was she supposed to bring this topic up like a normal person?

Granted, was she ever ‘normal’? Romi knew what she was signing up for when she befriended Diana.

“I-I wanted to write about Gumiho... you know...” Diana made a vague gesture, her slender fingers fluttering like pale butterflies. “Shotgunning? With another girl?” The last words came out in a single breath, almost too quick for even Diana to understand what she was saying. But maybe Romi would understand, she never judged her tastes before. Maybe she'd be the voice of reason that warns her that it would be totally ooc for Gumiho to even do that kind of thing.

But that's the beauty of fanfiction.

Diana ducked her head, dark lashes fluttering against her heated skin as she peeked up at Romi through her feathery fringe. “I just thought, since you seem to know a lot about Gumiho... maybe you could help me? With the details and stuff?”

Gumiho? Shotgunning? With another girl?

Romi had known that Diana’s kinks were pretty harmless and from what she had learned over the course of her friendship with Di, she wasn’t trying to be weird; something had just inspired her. Part of Romi was unsure about her friend's recent obsession with her alter ego but she also didn’t hate it. As a wrestler or performer of any kind would tell you, they love attention. To put oneself out there in front of whatever God was out there, if any and a billion people, you had to have an ego. Diana was certainly someone who stroked Romi’s.

She was slightly taller than the Green, not by much but she still found herself looking ever slightly down as she played with her cute skirt. “Well, from what I know…” There was a sparkle, in the bottom corner of Romi’s eye. She slightly glanced leftwards and noticed the Gumiho ask she had previously found herself admiring. Shit, what if Diana would see it? She quickly tossed her towel onto the bag to cover it up. Now standing slightly closer to Di, Romi also became very conscious of the fact she was barely wearing any clothes and her activewear was riding up in all the wrong places.

“Gumiho has never really, er, well I don’t think she can actively promote shotgunning but I wouldn’t be surprised if she has.” If Romi was to fill in Gumiho’s backstory with her own then the truth was yes, she had definitely shotgunned with another girl but if she was to follow the true history she then also slept with that girl. Diana would have a fit if she knew the truth.

Romi Rae placed her hand on Di’s soft chin and pulled her face up to meet hers. “Hey, I’ve told you to stop looking at the floor when you’re talking to me. Or anyone for that matter. This face is too beautiful to hide.”

Diana's breath hitched as Romi's fingers gently grasped her chin, tilting her face upwards. The wrestler's caramel eyes bore into hers with an intensity that made Diana's knees feel weak. She swallowed thickly, pulse fluttering wildly beneath the hollow of her throat like a caged bird desperate to take flight. Whoa... is this what it's like when the bishi does The Thing? No wonder the ML fangirls get the flutters and uwaa everywhere.

“O-okay,” Diana managed to squeak out, her voice barely above a whisper. She was acutely aware of Romi's state of undress, the way her taut muscles glistened with a sheen of sweat, how little was left to the imagination in that form-fitting sports bra and shorts. Interesting...

“So...you think Gumiho might've done it before?” Diana asked tentatively, trying to steer the conversation back to safer territory even as her mind raced with scandalous possibilities that could fry her brain. “Maybe with like, a really cool rival or something? I bet it'd be super dramatic, all that tension finally snapping...”

Oh she could picture the scene already. Close proximity with a rival, maybe smoking to take the edge of and having to share the only blunt between them, but instead of offering the blunt Gumiho reaches forward an—

Ahem. Railroaded.

“Who would be THE rival?” She asked instead.

“I don’t know.”

Romi Rae suddenly became very aware of just how close she was to Diana’s face, her fingers curled around the Green’s alabaster chin, soft spheres of chestnut staring up at her. She had often thought just how breathtaking Di really was and up close like this. It was cemented. She had learned that as Gumiho, she found her confidence had increased ten fold. By no means was the daughter of the women’s world champion shy, if anything many considered Romi to be quite bold. However it was all controlled and manoeuvred by a stream of conscious thought. There was a freedom beneath the mask of the Toxic Idol which allowed her to do pretty much anything. Gumiho could say what she wanted, take what she wanted and be whoever she wanted to be. In this instance they were talking about shotgunning and Romi’s eyes could not help but fall towards Diana’s lips.

There was an age old question asked in comic books, who was the real man? Bruce Wayne or Batman. Romi was starting to understand that more and more. The lines between herself and her alter ego were blending further and further. “I don’t know. She repeated. “She hasn’t had that big feud yet, she’s still really early in her career. Well at least I think she is. In Lucha Culture, anyone under a mask’s legal documentation is not a matter of public record unless they consent or lose their mask.”

Much like her Diana, when it came to wrestling, Romi Rae had tunnel vision. So when she opened her mouth, sometimes she just vomited hyperbole. “I mean she’s still waiting for the one that could really challenge her. So you may have to use that big brain of yours to make something up.”

Diana's heart fluttered wildly in her chest as Romi's gaze drifted down to her parted lips, the air between them simmering with an unspoken tension. Her mind raced with a dizzying array of possibilities, each more scandalous than the last. What if Gumiho's rival was a childhood friend turned bitter enemy? Or a smouldering antihero who couldn't decide if they wanted to fight or...

Ahem.

“Y-yeah, I guess you're right,” Diana stammered, ducking her head shyly as a rosy blush bloomed across her cheeks. “Gumiho is still pretty new to the scene. I'm sure she'll find her ultimate rival soon enough!” She bit her lip, worrying the tender flesh between her teeth as she peeked up at Romi through her lashes. Ideas swam in her head, her imagination taking over as she began to plot the one shot now turned multichapter angst in her mind. Maybe she could even draw her own art of it to enhance the written medium of the fanfiction? “Maybe it'll even be a super cool unmasking storyline, you know? Where the rival is someone Gumiho knows in their unmasked life!”

Diana trailed off, her voice barely above a breathy whisper as she lost herself in the fantasy. In her mind's eye, she could see it all so clearly—Gumiho, standing tall and proud in the center of the ring, her sleek mask glinting under the harsh spotlights. Across from her, a shadowy figure emerged from the smoke, their face obscured by a mask of their own. They circled each other like predators, muscles coiled tight with barely restrained aggression.

Until finally, in a moment of shocking revelation, the mysterious rival reached up and tore away their mask, revealing...

God, Diana couldn't wait to make this damned OC.

She was so precious. God, Romi would probably do anything for this girl.

“Let's hope it’s not too soon.” She didn’t find the idea of unmasking eventually a bad thing. She had already seen on some of the wrestling forums out there that there were several theories as to who was under the Gumiho mask. Many centered on it being a Joshi wrestler from Japan under a learning excursion. There were also a handful that had accurately guessed it was the daughter of Morgana, mostly in part to her penchant for purple and her use of the Anaconda Squeeze during her matches. Luckily, most had debunked that theory thanks to Romi only being seventeen. “There’s still some mileage in the character. Maybe once she gets signed to an actual contract she can unmask?”

Moving away from the girl who was walking temptation, Romi Rae sat back down on the bench next to her bag and reached for her phone. She felt a twinge in her lower back, a reminder of the match she had the previous weekend where she took a suplex across a crowd barricade. Although the pain was unwelcome, it did give her an idea. “You know Di, if you want some face claims for your thing, I’ve got a few here. Some female wrestlers that I follow.” Double R handed Diana her phone and motioned for her to swift left to see a few of her more recent opponents.

1, 2, 3

“You've also got to remember honey..” Absentmindedly, Romi reached up and touched Diana’s leg. “Gumiho is a heel. So whoever her rival is would have to be a babyface.”

Diana swallowed thickly, her mouth suddenly dry as she tried to focus on the phone screen Romi held out to her. The images of the fierce, beautiful women in the ring swam before Diana's eyes, blurring together as her mind raced with possibilities. All so pretty... Diana cursed herself for not joining her Mom sooner on the wrestling hype.

A heel and a babyface… The classic dichotomy, the yin and yang of professional wrestling. It was a tale as old as time, the villainous rogue facing off against the noble hero. “I think I'm getting some ideas,” Diana murmured, her voice barely above a whisper as she handed the phone back to Romi. “Maybe Gumiho's rival could be like, a childhood friend who always looked up to her. But then Gumiho betrays her, and she has to fight to bring her back to the light…?”

Diana trailed off, lost in the fantasy unfolding in her mind. She could see it so clearly—the heartbreak, the angst, the simmering tension between the two rivals as they clashed again and again in the ring. And of course, the inevitable moment when that tension boiled over into something more. Somehow, somewhere, Diana had to squeeze in that shotgunning scene that got Diana hyped up for this creative madness. Self-indulgent for sure after seeing how Monarch and Trixie seemed to... well, enjoy it.

The thought of Gumiho doing that to her caused Diana's vision to spin like some heroine in her favourite shojo. Thankfully with no nose bleeding. Would Gumiho be gentle? Or would she TAKE? God, when was it going to be her turn?

“I wish we knew what Gumiho looked like under that mask.” Diana threw herself onto the bench beside Romi with a pitiful whine. As much as Diana had a thing for her mask, Diana also had a thing for wanting to know things. And what Diana really wanted to know—for science, of course—is what the elusive Gumiho looked like under that purple mask.

Romi Rae couldn’t help but see this as an opportunity to mess with Diana a little bit, to tease her. The pining whine from the smaller girl's mouth was enough to let the girl know that at least she had one dedicated fan. “Let’s look at some facts.” She said, as she leaned back on both of her palms. “The name, Gumiho. It’s Korean for Nine Tailed Fox, so there’s a high chance that our girl is one of us. Though her skin is a shade darker than say yours, though I’m also pretty sure she uses a touch of body paint. So she’s likely mixed, like me.”

When under the mask, it was true that Rosemary did go to great lengths to hide her identity. She did paint her body, she wore contacts and hair extensions. She covered up her inner arm tattoo with her elbow pad. It took a great deal of time and effort but so far, it was successful in keeping her secret alive.

“She’s playful, a trickster like the Gumiho of legend but you can tell from the grace of her movements that she’s had more training beyond just wrestling. She moves like a dancer and a gymnast. Her footwork, impeccable.” Romi could see Diana hanging in every word she was saying and it made the butterflies in her stomach even more ferocious. “She flows and crashes like water. Her strikes on point and her submission, clean, crisp and tight. Our girl likely got martial arts training.” She did. Romi had been trained in Taekwondo as a girl and had taken some classes with Adam in Brazilian Jujitsu. “Lot there for you to follow, Sherlock.”

Diana's eyes sparkled with fascination as she absorbed every detail Romi divulged about the enigmatic Gumiho. Her mind raced, weaving together the tantalising tidbits into a vivid tapestry. Mixed race, a trickster's grace, the discipline of a martial artist... Each new fact was another vibrant thread taking shape in her imagination. It not only helped Diana with Gumiho's characterisation (so she's more canon, of course), but it just solidified Diana's need to know more.

Leaning forward eagerly, Diana tucked a silky strand of ink-black hair behind her ear, exposing the elegant line of her porcelain neck. Her nose crinkled slightly as she pondered the delicious riddle Romi had presented. “So you're saying she's like a kunoichi?” Diana breathed, a giddy smile tugging at the corners of her lips. "Beauty, brains, and brawn... Guh!” A total heart-throb. “How old do you think she is? She doesn't seem that much taller than, say, you, but it could be a video thing.”

”I’d say she’s around five foot four, give or take a big breakfast.” Romi followed Diana’s laugh with one of her own. She truly did enjoy the girls' company, her creative whims and funny soliloquies about her latest craze and obsession. It was even more fun to know the current one was her. Romi couldn’t deny that she enjoyed the attention and watching Di tuck that little strand back, all hers was on the girl sat next to her. “She hasn’t been around too long and there’s definitely some room for improvement so I’d hazard she’s maybe twenty to twenty five.”

Diana processed this tantalising new information about her wrestling obsession, her breathing heavy. It was certainly a weird sight to anyone not familiar with Diana’s ‘quirks’. Twenty to twenty-five, huh? The gears were already turning, piecing together a profile of the enigmatic Gumiho.

But why the secrecy? What was she hiding behind that sleek purple mask?

The questions swirled in Diana's head, stoking the flames of her insatiable curiosity. She had to know more. No, she needed to know more. It wasn't just about crafting the perfect fanfiction anymore. This was a mystery begging to be unravelled, a puzzle that called out to the depths of Diana's very soul.

Leaning in close, the Green heiress fixed Romi with an intense stare, her voice barely above a conspiratorial whisper. “Romi... We have to find out who she really is. Imagine the story I could write if I knew the truth!” Her eyes were alight with a feverish gleam, a woman possessed by the thrill of the hunt. Romi had goaded her too long, giving her just enough information to tantalise the curious mind, and now the need had grown into a full blown itch that she couldn't scratch. She had the resources—the Greens were filthy rich. Not that Diana intended on using them... yet. She wanted to lead the charge herself.

Butler shifted beside the door, no doubt steeling himself for another wild goose chase stirred by Diana's hyperfixations.

“What do you think? Wanna join me, Ro?”

“Why the hell not?!” Romi returned Diana’s excited whisper with a twinkle in her eye. Had she really just agreed to find herself? Isn’t that what college was for? Not that she planned on going to college though. “If I get the time, of course I will. You know how my schedule is.”

It was true, her schedule was always jam-packed. When she wasn’t wrestling, Romi Rae was always busy. Dancing, gymnastics, MMA, rock climbing and none of that even included the stuff she did with the Adventure Club. It was part of the reason that in her years as a BHHS Pirate, she hadn’t really found anyone to truly say she connected with, save Di. Sure, she had friends, former lovers and exes but the real connections? She was extremely lacking in that department and it was her own fault.

“Okay!” Diana exclaimed, practically vibrating with giddy anticipation. Her mind was already racing, piecing together a plan of attack for their thrilling new mission. “First things first, we need to gather intel. I'll scour the internet for any clues about Gumiho's identity—social media, fan forums, wrestling databases, the works.”

She whipped out her phone, slender fingers already flying across the screen as she opened a new note titled 'Operation Sly Fox'. “I'll get us tickets to Gumiho's next match. Live. Best way to learn is to see her in action.” Getting said tickets would be no problem considering Diana's surname alone. She could get anything, and right now Diana wanted nothing more than the know. Diana Green-Locke was on the case, and there was nothing stopping her from finding out the truth.

At this stage, Romi Rae didn’t know whether to be frightened or excited. Was Diana really the person that would reveal her secret? Or would she play right into Romi’s hands? All she had to do was keep her off the trail for another few months then she could reveal the truth herself! Oh, she could just picture Diana’s reaction when she found out that the girl she was sitting next to was her beloved Gumiho. In a way, Romi felt almost guilty keeping the secret from the Green but she didn’t have a choice. She couldn’t risk her Mom finding out. She couldn’t risk losing the one thing she loved most in the entire world. Not even Diana was going to stop her from achieving her destiny. From being a pro wrestler.

Wait, did she just agree to go watch herself in a match? How the hell was she going to get out of that?!!
TIMESTAMP/FLASHBACK: Before start of school


____________________________________________________________________



@NeoAJ & @BrutalBx
____________________________________________________________________

The universe has a way of putting order to all things. Every organism, every molecule has a place to be, a role to fulfill unique to itself in what it does. That’s what’s right and just in the world.

It hasn’t felt that way for Lex Stratton lately.

Another fall day was starting to hit Beverly Hills, and it was another day where Lex Stratton seethed to begin her ritual. Things had not been going according to plan at BHHS, there was no order lately. The natural selection had been upended and she was still feeling the reverb. It made each of her actions carry that latent tinge of aggravation. Looking at the sun, picking out her clothes, applying her makeup, all was scored with the undertones of anger at the loss of her position.

As she came downstairs, there was one little bit of joy that was keeping her intact, but even that upending of the natural routine was coming to an end. While the Van Cise Promotional Agency required occasional tending from its CEO, Jacob Van Cise was never one to stay too long in the sunshine. He was a man who worked best in the shadows, making deals and securing roles for his clients and acts while taking none of the spotlight for himself. Not anymore. He didn’t have to. He had his legacy secured. He was one of the wisest men in the game.

And he doted after his granddaughters. One of them was interning at his New York office, the one Jacob would return to later today. But the other two were here, and one of them was already smiling at him in the breakfast nook. “Good morning, Grampa,” Alexandria offered to her elder. “Ready to fly out today?”

“Honey, Gramps is always ready to fly.” Jacob Van Cise had made his fortune as a young man. His mother was a holocaust survivor and his father a World War II veteran. Through their hard work and dedication, Jacob had learned the skills he needed to survive a dangerous world as a short, fat Jewish kid growing up in Yonkers.

His family's company, the VCP, goes all the way back to the days of PT Barnum. Albert Van Cise was a poor German immigrant looking to make a quick buck when he fell under the learning tree of the illustrious showman. Through Barnum, Albert learned the art of the deal and the power of promotion. Soon he gathered his puppets and playthings and opened the first Van Cise Cabinet of Curiosities in Coney Island. Albert soon branched out into a burgeoning sports world and eventually began promoting Boxing and even the Olympics. Since those gold dust days, a Van Cise has always had a hand in promoting sports, music and culture in the Western world.

In the modern era, Jacob was the patriarch, his son Kip, was making waves after a stellar basketball career, his daughter Penny was still training the future stars of women’s basketball, even his son’s brother-in-law was working for them as a promoter for nightclubs. What made him most proud was watching his grandchildren follow in his footsteps. Scarlett was studying business at Columbia, Theodore was the best high school Middle Linebacker in the country and Bronwyn was creating a name in the ice skating world. The twins however, Alexandria and Tallulah, were his favorites, in them he could see so much of himself.

“Are you ready to make those rich bitches bow at your feet today?”

“We’re always ready, you taught us that.” From behind Lex, Tally turned the corner into the kitchen. Her bright orange hair was illuminated by the California sunlight but sat in stark contrast to the harsh black make-up she had applied to her stunning face. The twins were not identical; with each taking various aspects from their mixed heritage but what they lacked in mirrored features, they made up for in presence and personality. There was a reason that Lex and Tally were known as Toxic. They were dangerous to touch, deadly to love and they would burn you from the inside out.

“And if those bitches aren’t ready, we’ll swiftly teach them that they should be,” Lex confirmed, even if the subtext seemed to be less smug and more angry. While her makeup was usually a little more subtle than her twin sister’s, that was like saying a lion was more gingerly ripping up your torso than a bear. Both aimed for lethal damage, and they knew they had the ability to flaunt it. “You’ll have to give Scar our best, Grampa. Miss her sooooo much, but I know she’s getting ready to take New York by the balls and make it her own.”

Scarlett was a big reason the Toxic Twins had the success they did from the second they entered BHHS. The groundwork that the eldest Stratton had laid out enabled them to build their network quickly and assert themselves as the source for all the devil’s pleasures that could be had under the sun. Lex missed that every day guidance, but every Stratton had to be able to fend for themselves at some point.

“Your sister is on the thirteenth floor, Alexandria. I barely see her but I’ll make sure she gets the message through one of my assistants.” Jacob straightened his tie as he meandered around the kitchen nonchalantly. It was a beautiful tactic, appearing absentminded and wispy when facing down a fellow predator. It lulled one into a sense of security before their inevitable end. Those of the Van Cise blood were born to take what they could and give nothing back. They were pirates, they were an encroaching nation, they were inevitable. “I hear you’ve been losing business. That’s not really becoming of one of us, let alone two. What’s happening girls?”

Tally bunched up her fists, her painted nails digging into her palms. She knew Grandpa would ask about this. He knew everything, hell she wouldn’t be surprised if he had a spy somewhere in the school. He’s played dirtier games before that was for sure. “It’s this stupid southern bitch, she’s got some product that we just can’t compete with and she ended up stealing our fucking patzy too.”

Of course Talullah was pissed, she and her sister had worked to earn their patch in the parking lot. They’d spent years building clients and keeping their name alive. However, Tally didn’t really mind as much as Lex did. The younger Stratton enjoyed what she did as much as her twin but recently she had really began to feel a pull on her mind. A pull towards something else beyond the realm of business in which she was raised. She would never admit it to her grandpa but Tally had simply outgrown the brand and wanted to do her own thing, out of the shadow of the VCP.

“Both our fall girls,” Lex confirmed. “The one we burned and the one we hadn’t yet.” There was always going to be a cost to doing the business that they had chosen, but that cost was easily mitigated if there was someone else to take the blame. Nevaeh was gullible enough to think her status in the community and as a cheerleader would protect her from the police, but she was wrong. She served her purpose. Losing Everly though? That stung. She was the perfect person to set up if they needed to take some heat off. It’s why Nevaeh was thrown out first. She was never believable as someone who would fully break bad. Plus, getting Everly to come out of the closet was the bit of altruism that Lex felt made their “partnership” worth it.

“That Texan trailer trash just seems to be one step ahead of us. She got the drop on our business by bringing in our dead weight, and then she got a hold of this new strain that’s become the people’s choice. It was not a part of the plan.”

“If you can’t compete with the product kids, then get a better product or better yet, take theirs.” Jacob pulled out his phone and began typing. “Everybody has a price, everyone. You get their supplier, you get their product and your business will be back up on top in no time. That’s not a prediction, that’s a spoiler.”

Lex smiled at hearing one of her grampa’s favorite lines. The elder Van Cise was always full of confidence, and it was something she tried to emulate in everything she did. When she started playing guitar in public, she made sure her persona matched that swagger that he embodied in everything he did, matched with her mother’s tenacity and willingness to play dirty if she had to.

Was that why it was so shocking that it wasn’t working in the face of this challenger from the South? Anyone else who had tried to horn in on their racket quickly wilted under the intense financial, mental and physical pressure that the Twins were able to put on people. Now, given the PLC boasted people who knew all sides of that triangle choke, what were they going to do? Again, Grampa had the answer. They had to find the source.

“I have some ideas on how to take care of that problem,” Lex assured her grandfather. “Their supplier is… erratic, but has a very exploitable weakness. We just need to figure out how best to coax her to our side. Once we do that, there is no way she can resist the… attraction.”

“Figure it out, girls. Make them acknowledge you.” Jacob finished typing on his phone and placed it back into his jacket. “I’ve got to go catch my flight but I just transferred you both some allowance and I left a new guitar and surfboard in Tallulah’s Jeep.” Leaving his post behind the kitchen island; the shyster from Bronx played a kiss on each of his granddaughters cheeks. “Don’t be good, my babies. Be better.” He turned towards the exit and waved one final time to his girls. “Top guy, out.” Jacob departed the Stratton house quite swiftly for a man of his portly size but the simple fact of the matter was if money was to be made, nothing would get in his way.

Tallulah let out a sigh as she felt her phone vibrate in her jacket; a notification to say that the money had arrived in her account. She glanced towards her twin with her pale eyes which she soon rolled. “So basically what he said is that he wants one of us to fuck that tiny blonde chick that’s always with the PLC? Rock. Paper. Scissors?”

Lex was checking her phone to confirm that Jacob’s gift was indeed in her account. Sometimes it was tough to tell, there was so much money in there. “I mean, I did say it was a very exploitable weakness. Feels like I can’t make it through the parking lot without hearing her making a pass at every woman from here to that shithole Fresno.” The older twin sister assumed the position for the RPS game. “One, two, three, shoot!” Alexandria, sharp as ever, decided to throw down the pair of scissors.

Tally shot for rock and smiled as she defeated her older sister. “On the bright side, I hear she’s a good lay.” She slapped her sister on the arm before taking a step back and picking up her car keys from the counter top. “Who knows? Maybe you’ll have yourself a good time being tongue deep in the pixie.” The orange haired Stratton lifted her bag from the floor and tossed it over her shoulder. “And if she sucks I’ll cook you a hell of a meal to wash the taste out. Come on sis, the peasants await.”

“Shit,” Lex cursed as she gathered the rest of her stuff. “You better not be lying about that. All that energy has to be good for something.” She grabbed a banana and a bagel before picking up her bag.

The trip to the school was uneventful, and Tally had a customer to take care of, so Lex solemnly headed to home room. It was mostly her clientele that had been suckered away by the PLC, so she had time to seethe and think about her next plan of action. Addie Davies-Jones wasn’t there, so she would have to be tracked down at some point. No small task given her penchant for flinging herself around the school like a drunken pinball. No matter. Grampa said it had to be done. She had to keep the business alive… right?










“AIS!”

As he struck the wooden training dummy, Adam could feel the sharp, knife-like sensation shooting down his inner forearm. He had learned long ago how to dull pain. Exhale through the mouth, release the feeling into the air to be carried off by the wind and centre yourself on something else, something that could flood your mind and wash away the sensations of agony and discomfort. In this moment, he thought of the wind in his hair as he rode a rail at the park. The sound of Everly bailing off to the side and Monarch cheering her on.

“AIS!”

Another strike, a downward pointed elbow. Adam’s mind drifted, unfocused into memory. He could see his opponents face contorted and grimaced as his patella tendon was ripped apart by the attack. It was almost like an out of body experience. Glancing up, he could see his father's steel blue eyes staring gleefully with mania at the carnage that was unfolding. No Mercy. Win at All Cost. Survive. Lessons learned at the Dojo were not lessons learned lightly. The whites of his father's teeth, the joker-like grin, it was encouragement to keep going. Adam repeated the elbow strike over and over. His enemy screamed. He whipped the boy around onto the floor and the ref charged the Omasta boy to the out of bounds section of the mat, separating the lion from his prey.

“AIS!”

Adam pressed a thrust kick into the centre of the dummy. Instead of simply seeing wood, the fighter saw his father, flying through the display window of his large trophy collection case. The glass breaking, shattering into a million pieces of stardust around the crumpling body of the senior Omasta, an image Adam kept in his head almost all the time. He ran from the scene, not stopping until he reached the beach, the ocean and a sense of tranquillity.

Pressing his head against the dummy, Adam gripped onto the bars for support to hold himself aloft. The sweat was pouring from his bare chest as he breathed out the pain, ignoring the swelling and bruising of his hands. Yet the lessons still remained, the teachings remained. He closed his green eyes and searched, he dove into the waters of his past to find a memory, to find his centre. As he searched for a face in the crowd, a hand to take his and pull him from the raging waters that swirled like rapids in his heart, he was snatched away by the alarm.

Stepping back and out of his mind palace, Adam breathed out and found himself once again in his basement bedroom, staring at his training dummy and probably late for school. Then he remembered, he had delayed his alarm three times already. He sprinted into the bathroom to grab a quick shower and wash away the blood that had stained in his hands from his early morning workout. After drying himself off, Adam pulled on a pair of tan cargo pants, black converse and a red v-neck tee with a black jacket.

He was definitely due a wardrobe overhaul as most of the young martial artists clothes were now too small, evident by his biceps and pecs bulging out of his current attire. It was his own fault, he had been on a bulk up all summer and gained a fair amount of extra muscle mass. Now fully dressed, Adam slung his satchel over one shoulder, his camera over the other and snatched his board from beneath his bed before exiting the house through the back door which sat atop the second set of stairs in his room.

There was no point in saying good morning to his parents. They wouldn’t be there anyway.

With bloodstream by Soccer Mommy playing in his ear, Adam rode his board through the streets of Beverly Hills, soaking in the sunrise and plastic popsicles that many called Beverly Hills Elite. This was a world he was born into but not one in which he ever truly felt that he had belonged. Graduation would creep up fast and as soon as it came around, he was riding his Birdhouse straight out of LA and into the great blue yonder.

For many, Adam gave off the appearance of a slacker. He barely spoke, was probably high most of the time and was just skating through life on his Shawn Hunter looks. He was ok with them believing that. Nobody needed to know what was going on beneath his bangs or behind his doors. It was his deal, not theirs. He was ever going to cry, woe is me, my life is so hard. That’s not how he was raised. Adam was raised to strike first, strike hard and leave no quarter.

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Rolling into the parking lot, the number one fighter on the amateur fighting circuit snapped photo after photo of his compatriots; not an unusual sight. Adam loved photography, candids mostly. He would say that he loved to catch the world unawares, in its natural state, as it was intended. His girls in the PLC were up to their usual mischief, so he offered them a thumbs up and a photograph. Hanging out of the window of Mrs Belmonte’s class was a tiny pair of legs in fishnets and big boots; could only be Addie, so of course he took a picture of that.

Adam stopped just short of the stairs and hopped off his board to take a photo of the school itself. A monster of a building, probably started very small before various donations from alumni feeling of desperation forced it to be added to until it became a shell that only Frankenstein's monster could truly love. Having it be struck by a bolt of lightning and burn to ashes to be swept away by the wind was not something, he suspected, most would disagree to. He kicked his board into his spare hand and climb the steps towards hell.

”One more year.” Adam thought to himself as he made his way through the halls. Everyone was so busy, everyone was always rushed and running and trying to find something or someone. He was too but he was taking it slow.

One only had to stand still to catch a butterfly.

To find a centre.
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