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@Hey Im Jordan & @Fabricant451
LOCATION: The Mermaid's Closet
Introducing: Juliet Park
Featuring: Shauna Flynn


“But can you tell me why I need a job?”

Juliet thought it was a fair question. There was no point in her having a job she didn’t want! Her last job had essentially been perfect, and after she’d lost it, she basically considered her contribution to society over. Even working at Disneyland as a ‘cast member’ (she’d been a Jungle Cruise operator) had been… less than ideal. Juliet had accomplished most of her goals, but a lot of the magic of Disneyland was gone now - and she wasn’t sure it would ever come back. Why would she want to work anywhere else?

Especially a place called ‘The Mermaid’s Closet.’ Juliet knew the store, she’d shopped there once. Only once. Sitting in the passenger seat of the vehicle, she turned her attention to her mother, and pleaded in her native tongue with the hopes that it might convince her mother to let this one lie. “왜 여기에? 끈적끈적해요.” (Why here? It’s tacky.) She demanded, though it fell on deaf ears.

Juliet groaned when her mother just ignored her. So what if she’d gotten fired!? It wasn’t her fault. She checked her Apple Watch, then put her hand on the door handle. “Fine. But if I don’t like it, I will complain.” She pulled the door handle, and pushed the door open. Her decision was already made. How hard could it be to bomb an interview? She thought about more things to throw over her shoulder at her mother, but in the end she opted to not poke the bear. She felt lucky to get away with just the expectation that she’d at least ‘try’ to get a job. Of course, she hadn’t expected her parents to arrange an interview for her.

Hopefully a full review wouldn’t be sent to them after she got rejected. Her brow furrowed as she watched her mother drive away, wondering how she was even supposed to get home, before she turned her attention to the doorway of The Mermaid’s Closet. As she grabbed the handle and pulled it open, she found herself wishing she’d just done what her father had suggested, and moved to Korea when she was eight to be a trainee. At least then she wouldn’t be here.

She pulled open the door and looked around the store, eventually making eye contact with the person behind the counter. She quickly closed the gap between herself and the counter, and looked at the woman on the other side. She checked her watch again, “I have an interview in two minutes.” She explained, already thinking of things she’d say to make sure the deal wasn’t cinched. Unless her parents had pulled strings without telling her, this was going to go just right.

Most people who graduated with her expected Shauna Flynn to either be behind bars or faded to obscurity but the ultimate twist of expectations found Shauna evolved into a respectable business owner. The Mermaid’s Closet was a boutique that offered a wide selection for women of all walks of life at affordable prices. Of course, she stocked higher end items as well thanks to a working relationship with Min-Seo Thomas and other designers. One year, The Mermaid’s Closet was a sponsor for BHHS’ Homecoming Game which led to the yearly tradition of there being a discount for all BHHS students during Homecoming Week so long as they provided a valid student I.D. That sale wasn’t why the Closet did good business, but it was why the Closet was doing more business. Plenty of students who needed last minute Homecoming outfits and the Closet was happy to oblige.

As the owner and manager, Shauna rarely worked behind the counter, but she could often be found on the floor, helping young women find their style and confidence and providing tips for accessories and the like, but she was covering for an employee who had taken a late lunch break when Juliet walked in and approached the counter. Shauna looked at the girl then over her own shoulder at the clock on the wall behind the register. “Ya kno’, there’s no brownie points fer gettin’in early.” Shauna’s silken Irish brogue still had an effect on those susceptible to accents, but Shauna’s days as the Shark were behind her. Now, her talents of seduction were reduced to swiping on pictures of lonely, bored, and not always single women on various apps.

Fuck what a downgrade adult life turned out to be.

“Ya got a resume? I know yer ma an’ Kitty’s Missy put in a word for ya, but one’o them lives in a constant state of inebriation. So hand it over, yeah?”

There was at least one positive of working here: the lady behind the counter was at least attractive. It took every ounce of self control that Juliet had within her to not drum her fingers on the counter as the woman talked in an accent she could hardly even understand, and then she frowned. Had the other woman said she’d gotten a word from her mother? That was not a good sign, it might end up ruining her plan. As Shauna asked her about a resume, Juliet shook her head.

“I don’t have a copy of my resume. Is that going to be an insta-fail? I’m sorry.” She explained with a smile on her lips. The smile couldn’t have been a more fake, almost mocking smile if Juliet had read the words off of a script. She hadn’t ever made a resume, but could pretend like she’d just ‘forgotten’ one. “I worked at Disneyland before this. Does that count?” She looked back at the clock, and pointed with a dainty finger. “It’s time now. Is there like an office, or…?” She asked, as she peered around the building, a look of clear judgment on her face - she was sizing the place up and thinking about how much time she would be willing to spend there.

“I’m pretty excited about the interview!” She was not. But did the manager realize that?

“Sure ya’are.” Shauna was familiar with the smile on Juliet’s lips. She’d seen it on classmates years ago who suffered her presence during cheerleader tryouts. She’d given the same smile when freshmen girls tried to stretch a one night stand to a relationship before Shauna shot them down with that same expression. In no world would someone like Juliet be good for business, but Shauna was willing to humor the girl even if only because she was asked by two different mothers. “Come on back.” The Irish owner gestured with her head to a door near the back with ‘MANAGER’ on label made tiles.

The office was fairly standard. Shauna had a desk with a computer and monitor and a second screen was mounted on one of the walls. There were binders open on her desk and pictures of various cast photos from stage shows hung on her wall in place of motivational quotes or family photos. Instead of chairs, there was a black couch on the other side of the desk, and a smaller chaise lounge on the right wall. “Take a seat.” Shauna crossed over to her desk chair and sat down, pushing her binders to the side and keeping her eyes on Juliet like she was thinking the girl was going to shoplift.

“Cut the shite.” Any pretense of Shauna being a friendly manager was lost in the gruff brogue. “Who’s makin’ ya take this interview?”

She looked around the room, and there was a visible grimace as she saw the couch. She knew the kind of videos that were made on couches like that, which was why Juliet was wise enough to not take a seat. Instead, she stood across from Shauna and peered down at her as she finally spoke. Juliet had responses prepared for more than a few possible interview questions. But when Shauna asked her first question, the smile dissipated.

Juliet hadn’t seen that coming. Was she really that easy to read? No, she knew she wasn’t that easy to read. This other woman just had a little more experience at reading people than Juliet had expected. In fact, ever since she’d stepped into the room, the manager of the closet was proving to be different than what she’d expected. “What do you mean?” She stuck to her guns at first, forcing the smile back onto her face. “I applied for the job. I want the interview.”

She knew she was being read like a book though, that Shauna saw straight through the smile and knew that Juliet would have rather been wearing an annoyed frown. “Ugh. My parents. They’re mad I got fired.” She no longer attempted to hold the smile on her lips, and for the first time since meeting Shauna was honest. She knew perfectly well there was a chance this got back to her mother and stabbed her in the back, but this was almost cathartic. She watched carefully, trying to see if she could pick out Shauna’s own feelings as she waited for the response. With any other person? Juliet expected she would have already been dismissed from the interview.

“Why’d ya get fired?” This sort of thing was typically found on a resume and Shauna could have someone else make a call with the previous employer and get the information needed, but there was a curiosity about this girl, and a strange sort of familiarity. In Shauna’s estimation, this Juliet girl was used to getting what she wanted with a smile and a suggestion. That was a dangerous combination, but from this side of the desk, Juliet wasn’t ready to go pro.

In any other situation, Juliet would have given a dishonest answer. However, this person seemed like the first person in the entire world that Juliet felt she could proudly announce the truth to. Maybe it was the accent? This was dangerous. “I got caught getting to second base with Belle in the spare Jungle Cruise boat.” he couldn’t stop the bright, proud smile that spread on her lips as she said it. “I’m really upset about it because only Merida and Tiana were left, and I really wanted to complete the set.” She sighed wistfully, sounding more like someone reminiscing about coming close to a long term goal and coming just short. “Did you know they fire immediately for that? Not even her! Apparently, it’s harder to find actresses who can be princesses the way Disney wants princesses.”

“I wish I never had! It really ruins the mysticism, working there. Don’t work there if you like Disneyland.”

“Rule 4.” Shauna spoke softly, but audibly, shook her head and smirked. Keeping her eyes towards Juliet, Shauna opened a drawer on her desk and handed an old school notebook with a visible crease and wear and tear on the cover to the interviewee. The cover of the notebook was black and had no other identifiable features, but on the inside was a list of rules and beyond that was a list of names, dates, numbers between one and ten, and acronyms like ‘FFNC’, ‘FFC’, ‘SONC’ ‘SOC’, ‘SNNC’ ‘SNC’ and more. As the notebook went on, though, the list of names got smaller and smaller.

“Rule 4. Never in a spot where authority can walk in.” That time she spoke much clearer, her accent vanishing but the husky, silken smooth tone lingered. “What’s your count?”

Juliet raised an eyebrow as she heard Shauna speak up again. She looked down at the book and idly flipped through it, only glancing over the names and notations. “This is your little black book.” It was obvious just from a single glance, but it shook Juliet so hard she couldn’t help but say it aloud. “Cool. I just have a Google sheet myself, but I guess your options were kinda limited, huh?” Just from turning the pages in the book, she could tell that it was likely from when the woman across the desk had been her age.

She hadn’t yet answered the question about her ‘count,’ nor had she been able to wipe off the smirk that crawled across her lips when Shauna asked. She lifted her eyes from the page she was looking at to make eye contact with the older woman, “ten, but I would be willing to make it an eleven.”

“I wouldn’t be able to hire you if you wanted eleven.”

“That’s a shame.”

Shauna had never regretted maturing into someone decently responsible, but even she could admit that moments like this were incredibly tempting. Her romantic life was just so…boring. App hookups had no passion, no thrill, no climax, and they always wanted to talk and cuddle after. Exhausting. Even the friends with benefits who knew that their relationship started and stopped when clothes were put back on had a tendency to bore. It was like eating a good steak dinner every night; eventually it started tasting of nothing and wasn’t even all that satisfying anymore.

Yes, Shauna missed being ‘The Shark’, but even if she matched solely with nineteen and twenty year olds, she’d still be seen in a negative light just because there was a three in front of her ones column. She didn’t even hit on the mothers who shopped here or the single women looking for something to spice up their drab life. Sure, she bantered with them and laughed when they made a comment about a pot of gold or how lucky they were to find the shop, but it was as fake a laugh and smile as Juliet had given on her arrival.

“You’re good at getting girls to do what you want, aren’t you.” It wasn’t a question. The Shark knew the type. Sharks could smell their own. “But I don’t think you know as much as you think you do.” They weren’t talking about fashion. They really never had been. “Say I offered you a floor position. You could tell your mom you’re in sales. But really I’d offer you an internship. I thought Kitty would follow in my footsteps but she had to go and fall in love. Rule 10. Give me until your graduation and your own black book would put mine to shame. What do you think?”

Juliet thought about it. She was beginning to pick up what the other woman was putting down. It at least got her a job so her parents would get off of her back, though she had to admit, she’d never considered a mentor. At least not in this aspect of her life. She tapped her finger on the cover of the closed notebook; her pride would be wounded if she just admitted she had a lot to learn, and that stung. “How many names are in your book?” She asked as she opened it to a random page and glanced down, and then froze as she saw one of the many names. “Hey. My mom’s name is in this book.”

“You’d be surprised at some of the other names in there. Let’s just say it wasn’t Kit Thomas’ talking that landed her Min-Seo.”

For her entire life, Juliet had thought her parents had met in high school, introduced by her churchgoing grandparents and that had been that. There had never been another person in their lives, or at least that’s what Juliet had been told her entire life. She snapped the notebook shut, and for the briefest of seconds it seemed like there was a chance Shauna had lost her potential successor.

“Teach me.” She said as she placed the book back down on the desk. “Oh, I’m Juliet.” She’d intentionally not introduced herself before, not seeing the point since she’d originally had no intention of seeing this woman again. “I want to know the rest of the rules.”

“We’ll go over the rules at your orientation.” Shauna leaned back in her chair, a look of genuine satisfaction on her lips. Was this how parents felt? Pride? She’d never know. But she would be true to her word and teach her apprentice everything she needed to know to carry on the legacy. Of that she was certain. “But you’re going to have to accept that most of your names will be hard sixes or below and that’s being generous. Work the ones with body issues long enough and you’ll spring to eights and nines in no time. Trust me. I’ve fucked Oscar winners.” Shauna could’ve been lying but she had a way of making every word she said sound as believable as it was rude.

But she was an actress above all.

“Shauna. Tell your mom she owes me one for taking you in.” The wink she gave Juliet was full of such ill intent that a blind person could’ve picked up what she was putting down. “Oh, one freebie. The lock on the dressing room closest to the window has trouble catching.”

“When can I start?”

xdefiant good
The camera panned out to show the capacity crowd gathered at Madison Square Garden, one of the last shows AWE was running before their biggest event of the year; the Showcase of Immortals. In the ring was a table with a black cloth over it, and a binder containing the contract to the main event of Starcade: Caiden Winters vs Drayden for the Undisputed AWE championship.

Sat at the table was long-time AWE fan favorite Drayden, dressed to the nines in a dark suit. Falling to an injury almost a year ago now, Drayden had recently returned from the shelf. He shocked fans by returning to align with Roddy Quinn, the boss of AWE, who had been spending the time since Drayden’s injury trying to stop Caiden Winters’s meteoric rise. Unsuccessful on his own, Roddy had been forced to bring out the biggest gun he had: his ace.

Upon his return, Drayden had tried to explain things to fans who wouldn’t listen to him, or Roddy. Caiden wasn’t who they wanted as their champion! Caiden hadn’t even beaten Drayden for the title, he wasn’t their champion. He was a fraud, a fake. Someone Drayden promised to personally expose.

The fans had rejected him. They didn’t want Drayden’s AWE anymore, they wanted the new one. The one ushered in by Caiden Winters. Caiden followed a long road to get to where he was now, holding the AWE world championship around his waist. After successful feuds against Roddy Quinn himself, Oscar O’Sullivan, and finally Gethin, Caiden Winters had built a level of groundswell support in AWE that hadn’t been seen in years.

When Drayden came back and insisted he would take that away because it was what the fans needed even if they didn’t know it yet, and… they rejected him. The lights dimmed and music filled the arena. The sound of rabid cheering filled the atmosphere as the camera focused in on Drayden and the smirk that was on his lips in anticipation. His opponent had arrived.

The camera panned to the top of the stage as Caiden Winters finally stepped into the spotlight, to an explosion of cheers. He walked with purpose as he approached the squared circle, his eyes never leaving his opponent who was waiting for him in the ring. This wasn’t Caiden’s first contract signing on AWE television, and it likely wouldn’t be the last - but it was clear from the way he held himself this was the most important.

His first match in the company had been against Drayden, and Drayden’s last match before his injury and time on the shelf had been against Caiden. They’d competed for the very title that now rested on Caiden’s shoulder, the AWE championship. Even though he’d turned up short in the match, when Drayden had wound up on the shelf after their match, Caiden had openly boasted about being the one who put the Heart & Soul of AWE to rest. This wasn’t just a match for the title, it wasn’t even ‘just’ a match for the future of AWE. This was a blood feud.

Caiden stalked his prey, walking around the ring before even stepping up onto the apron. Rabid fans screamed his name, a prophetic warning for Drayden. ‘CAIDEN’S GONNA KILL YOU’ they screamed, and it had a visible effect on Drayden. The smirk dissipated on his face as he held eye contact with the circling Caiden and one of his legs bounced up and down restlessly. By the time Caiden had completed his lap and climbed the steps to get into the ring, Drayden was up on his feet.

The music came to a close as Caiden stepped past Drayden and reached through the ropes for a microphone. He took it and stood opposite Drayden in the ring, but neither of them spoke. They stood eye-to-eye in the center of the ring, and the aura of their hatred energized the fans.


Caiden cupped the mic and lifted it to his lips, but his voice wasn’t the first heard by the viewers. “...I’m marking out bro.” Wade Palmer, the voice of AWE couldn’t help but let out a whispered reaction to the scene playing out in front of him. He’d been doing this for a long time, but was watching the feud of the decade unfold before him. He had the best seat in the whole damn show, sitting ringside behind the commentator’s desk every week for the showcase of the immortals.

As Caiden began to talk, the entire crowd hushed to listen to every word he had to say. “I hate you.” He said it with such certainty that it was apparent the feeling may have transcended the performance. “I hate the way you talk, I hate the way that you wrestle, I hate that you’re such a bootlicker for the boss. I hate you. I hurt you, and I tried to keep you from coming back, but you couldn’t leave well enough alone.” He almost snarled it the second time he told Drayden he hated him.

“That’s fine with me, because after I beat you one last time, I’ll set the record straight. I’m better than you. I know it, everyone in this arena knows and you know what? So do you.” He paced up and down the ring as he talked, ranting now. “You had your chance to sit in your mansion in Pensacola and watch me be better than you ever were, but your pride couldn’t handle it, could it? You and your massive ego couldn’t stand this title on my shoul -”

“I hate you too.”Drayden finally spoke, cutting his opponent off and the immediate reaction from Caiden was palpable in his expression alone. His eyebrows furrowed, and it was obvious hot rage was bubbling inside the younger man. “I can’t stand you. I can’t stand that you spent your entire career in other companies, across the world, and thought if you finally came here you’d be entitled to it. And for what? For selling out bingo halls and high schools?

You can’t do this! You don’t have what it takes to carry the company, the business — you don’t got it. Why do you think I’m here? Why do you think Roddy called me in the first place!? Because you can’t do your job!” Drayden snarled the accusations into the microphone. “You’re holding a belt I never lost. If my knee hadn’t blowed ou—”

“If your knee hadn’t exploded, these people wouldn’t be here because they don’t want you anymore!” Caiden was quick to respond, with words that apparently resonated from the fans based on the roaring reaction. His opponent moved the mic toward his mouth to respond again and Caiden stepped forward getting in his face. “STOP. Stop, brotha. You emptied the clip, what more are you gonna say? That you work harder than me? While you were on the injured list for the past year, I worked twice as many matches as you did in the last five years. Didn’t miss a house show, didn’t miss a PPV. No days off, both shows.

What did you do? You got on a private jet and went to talk shows to cry about how badly you wanted to get back in the ring. You went out there and you told Good Morning America that you’re the best wrestler in the world. You’re not going to convince the fans that you’re better than me, you’re not.” Taking a step back, he ripped the title belt off and held it up in the air. He held it at arm length, in front of his opponent’s face as the camera zoomed in on Drayden’s face. Hungry. Desperate to ‘save’ the company. “This is a world championship, you’ve held it seven times. This is something people in our business work their entire lives, spill blood, sweat, and tears just for a shot. And you know what?” He tossed it to the side of the ring.

I don’t want it. And neither do you. I know what you want,” as Caiden spoke, Drayden furrowed his brow as his opponent spoke, but it was obvious in the air. Caiden Winters was onto something. “Let’s rewind the clock to our very first match. My debut, do you remember it? I bet you do. The fans - your fans then - they were ready to watch you beat another indie darling down, huh?

Let’s go Drayden, clap. clap. clap. They said. Drayden’s gonna kill you, clap. clap, clap. They said. But what did they say, when you were laying flat on your back on the canvas after I put you down for the one, two, three. What did they say?” He leaned forward again, this time getting in Drayden’s face. “They didn’t say a damn thing.”

He pulled back as his opponent scowled, “We fought again for that belt, and you won the match - but you didn’t beat me. That much was clear when they rolled you out of the building on a stretcher - what did they say then? It wasn’t your name was it?”

It was clear the cutting words were having the intended effect, as the other man seemed to be seething with rage. Caiden looked at him, daring him to respond, and Drayden picked the mic up to do just that, “talk is cheap.” He snarled, and the next events happened very quickly. The mic dropped down to the ground, and Drayden’s elbow flew toward Caiden’s face. It hit its mark, and the fight was on.

As the two superstars threw hands at each other, the camera very briefly panned to the top of the ramp where Dana Flynna the general manager and authority figure of AWE was frantically motioning for help to save her main event. Security guard and roster members poured down the ramp to pull champion and contender apart as their brawl spilled outside of the ring.




Introducing: Joey Everett
Timestamp: Some undisclosed time in the morning → Sometime after homeroom-ish

The video paused, Joey wasn’t interested in the rest of it. He’d have to have seen it a hundred times, but he liked it all the same. Having a famous person for a parent was weird at first, but as he grew up and realized the scope of his father’s stardom, he really started to get involved in the community. Joey was an avid forum poster, though he did his best to keep his connection to the business as quiet as possible. That was mostly out of respect for his father, who maintained a low public presence, even when he was champion.

Caiden Winters wanted a private life, and it wasn’t Joey’s place to ruin that. No matter how badly he wanted to correct the YouTube comments he scrolled through, Joey kept silent. It was hard to deal with the fact that people took wrestling so seriously sometimes, but it was also exciting. In due time, Joey was hopeful he’d find his way into the family business. He wasn’t interested in being an in-ring performer, that didn’t really appeal to him. Joey didn’t really think he had it in him to work a match like his father had, but that didn’t mean his options were up.

He may not have had the drive to train and be the legacy of the best to ever do it (in Joey’s opinion, anyway)... but, writing the narrative? Creating the stories that drove people to think two men who couldn’t be closer friends backstage truly hated each other?

Joey could do that.

That was his goal. Joey wanted to be the guy with the pen, the one in control of the narrative. He’d always liked writing, but it was only in the last year or so that he’d finally gotten exposure to the writer’s room of AWE.

It had frankly changed his life. The long term storytelling was beautiful in a way nothing else was to him, seeing the storyboards, reading the notebooks the head writer worked in… It lit a fire under Joey like nothing else had. It was one thing to write a movie or a TV show with a defined beginning, middle, and an end, but the ever evolving story told by professional wrestling was one of a kind.

It was a multi-step process, and Joey had a feeling he’d never hold the final say in the game, but he just wanted a chance. He had originally assumed his father would be able to get him a job, but Caiden had outright refused. You think I came up sleeping in the backseat of my car and working high school gyms just to raise a nepo baby? Not a chance. It had slowed, but not ended his plan. Joey turned to studying, to make sure that he got into a respectable school, so he could get a screenwriting and creative writing degree, following in the same footsteps of the current head of AWE’s writing room.

Joey was sometimes jealous of other students at his high school, whose parents, often more famous and wealthy than his wealthy and famous father, would give them money for whatever they wanted. Caiden was fairly firm on the idea that Joey would work for everything he had. And Joey had. Even the Camry he drove around when he absolutely had to had been paid for by the pocket change of his peers.

One of the few things he hadn’t paid for himself was his pet chameleon, Retribution. Retribution was named after his uncle, Blake Ryder, who had wrestled under the ring name Retribution. If Joey thought about it hard enough, the word ‘retribution’ was there enough that it became confusing, but that didn’t change his intention. Retribution was named Retribution as retribution on his father for refusing to buy him a dog.

Not that Uncle Blake was much better… who bought a teenager a fucking chameleon? Joey should have been more specific about it when he’d told him he wanted a pet. Blake had said he’d get his nephew anything he wanted, and Joey had essentially regretted not being more specific ever since.

Chameleons were high maintenance, angry, and they barely did anything. At first, Joey had been annoyed he’d gotten something so… weird instead of something normal. Not even a turtle? Seriously? It took a lot of effort, time, and money to get a cage that was proper for the little dude, but after a while, Joey really started to enjoy it when Retribution did what Joey affectionately labeled ‘Chameleon Things.’

Mostly, Chameleon Things amounted to grabbing things, making funny expressions, and climbing on Joey like a tree. Joey looked up toward his hat, he saw the paw of a chameleon waiting for him on his forehead. He held his fingers to his forehead and Retribution slowly crawled from his spot on Joey’s head and onto his arm.

“Yeah, you’re right buddy. You gotta go back to your home.” Retribution’s home was a massive glass enclosure next to Joey’s desk. Joey snapped his laptop shut with his free hand and stood up with the arm holding his pet extended. He reached down into the enclosure and let Retribution climb onto one of the trees. “I have tutorings to do after school, so I won’t be back until later. You should be good, right?” He asked, checking the water dish in the habitat.

He nodded to himself and then left his bedroom with his backpack slung over his shoulder. Joey walked through the house his parents owned, and found that both of them still weren’t back. When he was younger, Joey had often gone on the road with them, but these days he found himself home alone more often than not. HIs parents' work required both of them to travel so frequently, that he didn’t feel it was an exaggeration to say he hardly saw them anymore.

Joey was a good kid, and he didn’t really need supervision, so it worked out in the end. Even if he was a bit beat up about it at times, his parents were good at making sure they were present for the events that really mattered. Were they there at every mathletes competition? No, but they were there when he made it to regionals. They were as supportive as they could be, given the situation.

In spite of the heat of Los Angeles, Joey made a point to wear his beanie on his head. If he hadn’t, his mother would have found out somehow, and she might have cried. At first, Joey had been stuck in the rebellious phase, thinking it a bit lame that his mother had taken the time to knit him a beanie that he could hardly wear given the weather where they lived, but after a while it had grown on him. The few friends he had now probably wouldn’t even recognize him if they saw him without it.

A year or so ago, Joey would have rode his skateboard to get to the school, but lately people had started assuming he sold drugs just because he rode a board around Beverly Hills High. When two separate people asked on separate days if he was carrying anything, Joey had decided that it was time to stop, even if it meant his options were getting up early to walk to the school, or suffering through Los Angeles traffic.

The journey to school was long, and Joey was thankful that every day was another day closer to never having to do it again. It wasn’t the day-to-day classwork he didn’t like, but… Being a tutor for some of the people he worked with was genuinely concerning. Weren’t they supposed to be the future? Why did so much of the future struggle with fractions? Were their teachers bad at their jobs? Was it the fault of the parents? These were all questions that Joey had asked himself once or twice since taking up the tutoring job in his sophomore year.

Unfortunately, the tutoring sessions were part of Joey’s rhythm. At first, he’d wanted to do people’s homework for them, but that was something his father would have never approved of. And so, Joey became a teacher. He even reckoned he was a pretty good one, as most of his students found results, but it didn’t make it any more fun. One could only repeat Pythagoras' theorem about fifteen times before it became repetitive.

How many times had Joey explained the theorem now? Try five hundred. A part of him wanted to give up, but another part of him remembered how expensive food for Retribution was (seriously, why did bugs cost so much?), and another part still remembered how much money his peers had. That made it easy enough. He had to give his father respect where it was due… not being spoiled led to Joey having one hell of a work ethic.

Which was another reason why he was dreading school, and then work that day. With homecoming approaching very rapidly, someone would want him to go to the dance, to go to the party, even to the game. Joey didn’t want to do any of those things, he was doing his best to stay focused on himself. If he didn’t get into the right college, it could throw everything out of equilibrium.

People who got to be ghosts in high school didn’t realize how easy they had it. Joey had long ago gotten into the habit of ‘hanging out with everyone.’ Regrettably, it was fairly easy to get along with anyone as long as you listened to what they had to say and offered the right responses — and it was so easy to give the right responses on autopilot. If anyone asked him to go to the events, Joey would say yes before he could stop himself.

Before long, Joey found his way into his homeroom class. He was late, but not late enough for anyone to complain about, and sunk into his chair at his desk. At least he missed the Morning Show.

@Hey Im Jordan & @Fabricant451
Location: The Library
Timestamp: After homeroom
Starring: Michael ‘You Like True Crime?’ O’Connor and Sara ‘Uhm, Ackshually’ Delgado


If Michael said he had a plan, that would have been a lie. It wasn’t even safe to say that he had an inkling of a plan, he’d agreed with what Nicky had requested so quickly that he hadn’t even had time to formulate a plan of attack. There were few options to fulfill his ridiculous request; Dylan’s had felt dumber in the moment, but was success was more immediate. Easier to find. How the hell was he supposed to find someone to date Nicky Snyder? He wasn’t a fucking magician. Nicky was loud and proud about it, and while that wasn’t necessarily a negative in the dating world, it was far from a positive. People like Nicky were supposed to be like Ethan: drowning in pussy. All that unearned and undeserved confidence, and for fucking what?

Nicky needed a special type of girl, Michael knew that much from the five minutes they’d talked together that morning before exchanging Discord IDs. This was a lot to go through for one night of playing Fortnite, but if this guy was as good as Michael assumed he was? Then he’d probably get enough wins in one evening to stop his brother from ever bringing it up again. It had taken almost the entire homeroom period and nearly the entire travel time between periods before it had dawned on Michael.

He knew who to set Nicky up with! Or, at least, he used to. Back in the before times, when he favored his academics over his athletics, Michael had been the captain of the mathletes. He had hardly interacted with his old teammates in the years since, but there was something to be said about being in high school: numbers never changed. Now, he just had to hope that she answered the call when it was put out into the air.

To: Sara from Mathletes 🤓
Hey Sara! It’s Michael, I don’t know if you remember me.
Can you meet me in the library? I was wondering if I could ask a favor! Ten minutes of your time? Do you still have study period after homeroom?
I do! I’ll be in the library waiting if you want.

It took more self control than it honestly should have for Michael to not physically pat himself on the back as he grinned and headed toward the library. In his head, this was already a done deal. What was she going to do, say no? Everyone wanted to roll with him and his friends, so he had that to his advantage. And besides, she was a bit geeky — there was a chance she might know who NIcky was, and then his battle was more than halfway done. As he took a seat at one of the desks in the back corner of the relatively large library, he smiled. All he had to do now was wait.

When her phone buzzed, Sara naturally assumed it was another automated message asking her to vote for some candidate or another spam email notification that she enabled just so the vibrating phone message would make it seem like people were actually interested in talking to her. No one would really need or want to contact her other than her mother or abuelta and one of them was at work and the other was not presently around a phone and certainly wouldn’t know how to send a text message anyway. So when her phone buzz, Sara just ignored it and went about her day, heading to her favorite location in school once home room came to an end - the teacher hadn’t called her name during roll call because of course she was present. Where the hell else would she be?

In the library, Sara checked the tutoring roster. No one had signed up today, at least no for her, and she chalked it up to the fact that on pep rally day the only thing students cared about was getting out of class earlier so they could start the weekend that much sooner. It was no bother, she had doodles and reading to catch up on anyway. To the back of the library Sara went, to the back corner table that was quiet and out of the way of general foot traffic. On most days Sara’s biggest hurdle when studying on the back desk was that some students used the back corner desks for making out, but Sara had gotten quite good at writing notes and studying when hands and asses were right in the corner of her eye. She sometimes cleared her throat to try to get them to leave, but it was like trying to hear a single bell in the middle of a raging concert.

Sara paused as she turned towards the back corner desk and saw that it was occupied not by students engaged in a rousing game of tonsil hockey, but rather a student who looked like he was waiting for someone. Probably so he could play tonsil hockey. Sara didn’t say anything as she took the familiar seat and pulled a book from her backpack. She didn’t exist. The intruder would mind his own business as if she wasn’t even there. Such was the symbiotic relationship Sara had with the school.

Michael didn’t ignore her. In fact. he found himself staring at her. Was she trolling him? Had she checked her texts? Was she ignoring him? Did he deserve this? He racked his brain and tried to think of a time where he had hit on Sara. There wasn’t anything that immediately popped up, but as he gazed at her… he wondered if he’d made the right choice texting her. Seconds ticked away, and Sara was reading a book. This was a punishment, it had to be, but Michael was stubborn. He got it from his mother, one of the most stubborn people on the entire planet.

Seconds turned into minutes, and in the game of chicken they were playing, neither of them moved. Other students walked by the scene, observing it for a few seconds with a scrunched up nose of either confusion or distaste. Michael did not see them. He was focused on Sara. It was on the fourth minute that he decided something had to be wrong with this girl and tapped the table to get her attention.

“Hey, did you get my text message, or…?” Michael left the question rather open ended, unsure what the deal was here. He wasn’t used to being ignored, even when he had been a nerd, he had a commanding presence. This, though? This was fucking ridiculous. “If you didn’t want to help me out, you could have just said so. I know I’m more interesting than that book, dude.” Though he spoke in a whisper, his tone was still firm, almost harshly so. He did not take being ignored very well.

At least he was whispering while he was talking to someone on the phone, though Sara couldn’t remember the last time she knew someone her age to speak to someone on the phone. It must’ve been a family member who hadn’t learned how to text yet. The question by Michael went unanswered for another full minute before Sara reconsidered; he had mentioned something about a book. “Are…are you talking to me?” She had to ask, her voice almost scratchy like she needed water. This was officially the longest conversation she had had with another student. “Did…you want to read my book? Are you interested in the history of toxicology? Charles Norris, the subject of this book, was a pioneer of what we now know as forensic toxicology, it’s a really fascinating book even if you’re not interested in the subject matter. I don’t know if the school library has it, but it’s called The Poisoner’s Handbook if you want to buy your own copy.” It had been so long since she spoke that it all just sort of…flowed out of her. She half expected the guy to have up and left during her lengthy reply.

Had she always been like that? Michael honestly couldn’t remember, even when they’d been on the team she hadn’t been much of a talker. When she started rambling about her book, he started realizing this plan was genius. Both Nicky and Sara were yappers, this was going to go great. He relaxed into his chair and shook his head. “Uh, no I’m not trying to read your book. Check your phone, I texted you like 20 minutes ago.” It could have been an eternity, with how long he’d been staring a hole into her skull. At least he knew he wasn’t being blatantly ignored; it turned out that Sara was just… a little weird. “I didn’t know you were interested in toxicology though, that’s kinda… interesting.” He didn’t want to say creepy, but the message was probably received. He shook his head.

“The Sara I remember wasn’t really like a True Crime Podcast girlie. She brought snacks to all our mathlete meetups.”

“It’s not a true crime podcast, I listen to NPR, true crime podcasts are basically dramatic readings of Wikipedia articles but that’s beside the…you were in mathletes?” Sara paused and looked away from her book and towards the boy who had been able to see the ghost in the library. Sara had been in mathletes but only lasted a semester and a half, not because she was bad at it but because the team never really included her in the competitions against other schools. She warmed the bench even though she knew a lot of the answers and believed she would have been a great asset. But things just sort of went that way for Sara: unrecognized, unknown, unwanted. Her abuelita had said that the best way to fit in was with food but every time she brought homemade cupcakes and donuts, they were simply eaten by the others and assumed to have been bakery bought.

Unlike others at the school, though, Sara remembered faces. Names. The guy didn’t look it now, but if she squinted and added puberty growth spurts…”Are you…Michael O’Connor?” Why would Michael O’Connor talk to her? Why would he text her, if what he said was true? Why would he know her name? “You don’t need tutoring, you already know how to factor trinomials. What…what…what do you want? If…if this is…like…some popular kid prank…just…just do it now, okay?”

“What do you think this is, a Mean Girls sketch? I’m not… me and the boys don’t do that.” That was mostly true, though Michael knew that there was one person in the Elite in particular who was cold-hearted enough to actually pull a prank on someone of ‘lesser’ social standing. But that definitely was not him, he just needed a favor. Why was she making this so difficult? He’d needed to wrack his brain hard as fuck just to find a name that he thought would fit, and now that he was talking to her, she didn’t even seem interested in him. That wasn’t really surprising, something told him that shredded jocks were not Sara’s type. “Sounds to me like you know a lot more about true crime podcasts than you want to admit,” he mused, circling back to Sara’s comment about dramatic readings of Wikipedia articles.

This was going to be perfect, he reasoned silently. Sara, it seemed, needed friends… and sooner, rather than later. Nicky, as far as Michael knew, had friends. They could share! It worked out. “Since you didn’t check your phone I guess, I’ll just repeat myself.” He hated doing that. “I was wondering if you could help me out with a favor? I have a friend who really needs a date to the dance and the party tomorrow. I was hoping you didn’t have anyone in mind already?” He paused, letting her chew on it before he launched in again, this time focused on sweetening the deal.

“He can come pick you up from your place for the dance, then at the party you guys can hang out with me and the rest of the crew. There will be free food, booze, and weed. You gotta like at least two of those, right?” Having shot his shot, Michael sank back into the chair and relaxed. What was she going to do? Say no?

Sara hadn’t been to a dance or a party in her four years of going to BHHS, but even if she had, would anyone have even noticed her presence? Dances were one thing, but parties? Parties were basically the social events of any given month; she’d heard that Halloween parties were particularly crazy and that one year some people woke up the morning after in the hospital. Hardly her idea of fun. If she went to a party, she’d somehow find herself on a couch sandwiched between two different couples each engaging in drunken, sloppy makeouts but be too timid to say anything and too squished to prise herself away from the situation. Not that she was speaking from experience, of course.

“I don’t…alcohol and…weed…they…impair senses…I just…isn’t there someone…better for this? I…I have plans…” She didn’t. Not unless making a steak torta and watching a Ken Burns documentary about the Central Park Five counted as plans. “I think…I…I don’t…I never…I…plans…” Was she hyperventilating? Why did it suddenly feel so hard to breathe? Was she sure this wasn’t a prank? “No…ticket…I…”

“Don’t worry about that. Me and the boys will handle your ticket, you just need to get a dress and be ready when he’s there to pick you up. If you don’t like him, ditch him at the party and find someone you do like. Trust me, Sara. A little alcohol and weed impairs your senses and you’ll have the time of your life.” Was there a chance that it ended poorly? Sure, there were usually a few bad decisions made, but Michael felt pretty confident he could keep an eye on Nicky and Sara for a couple of nights. “You’ll have a ride there and a ride back… and we’ll keep you entertained.” He didn’t say it, but part of him wanted to point out that after a weekend of hanging out normally, she might even have a couple of friends.

“I feel like I never see you at the parties. This is our last year, so party hard and see where it goes.” Michael hadn’t been expecting any resistance from her, let alone basically a panic attack… which he hadn’t really addressed. He reached into his backpack and pulled out his sports bottle, filled with a red substance. “Here, drink some water. Well, I put a pre-workout packet in there, but it’s fine… water is good for you. It’s fruit punch flavored. Well… watermelon and strawberry.” Technically, it was called ‘Tiger’s Blood,’ but something told him Sara wouldn’t drink it if he said that.

“Just drink it and take a breath before you pass out, dude.”

Under normal circumstances, Sara would have questioned the drink offered to her. Water wasn’t supposed to be red and people who put the little flavor packets in their water were better off just drinking juice, but this was an unusual and unprecedented circumstance so she grabbed the offered bottle and half of the contents were rolling down her throat before she stopped, panted to catch her breath, and quietly handed it back. “You’re not supposed to accept drinks from strangers…” Sara didn’t think Michael had any nefarious plot in mind, she was just reverting to general trivia and information like a loading screen of a video game.

“What…what were you talking about?”

This was an experience. Michael had never dealt with someone with so much anxiety. How was it even possible to cram that much anxiety into that small of a body? He didn’t want to fuck this up by being rude, so he took the sports bottle back. It was nearly empty, but he supposed that was okay, at least she was able to talk to him now. With a sigh, Michael repeated himself — again, a landmark moment for him, but then this was a desperate time and called for a desperate measure.

“I want you to go to the dance and the party over the weekend with a friend of mine. He will pick you up, you just need to have a dress and an overnight bag. And maybe slightly more willingness to get drunk.” Without wiping the nozzle clean, he slurped at some of the drink still in his bottle. “Come and have fun. The library will be here on Monday.” This time, he hoped, she wouldn’t launch into an immediate anxiety attack this time. “Do you have Discord? I can give you bro’s.”

The library might be here on Monday but Sara had no guarantee that she would be. She paused and let hundreds of questions pour through her head, each one starting with the damning phrase ‘what if’. What if something bad happened, what if she got in trouble, what if someone died, what if what if what if what if. And within the storm of anxiety and excuses her thoughts went back to her bedroom, to that empty cell of a room and to the desk she did her homework and studies at. To the college acceptance letter that greeted her and the loudest question in her head became ‘What if I go to college with zero experiences?’ followed ever so closely by ‘What if I do something I regret?’ The question swirled and morphed and silently she pondered the more important question: would I regret not going? It wasn’t like they could…unaccept her from college…right?

“What…what’s Discord? I don't have to..like…” Sara looked around. The only ones within earshot were herself and Michael but even so, Sara leaned in and whispered like she was confessing to a priest. “I don’t have to…[size=64]have sex…[/size]right?”

“That’s between you and your date, not me! But I’m not hiring you to be a prostitute! That would be insane, I just need you to be this guy’s date, okay?” He felt like she’d agreed, but he was holding off on telling her her date’s name for now. He was worried that giving her a name would make it too real. “How do you not know what Discord is? How do you keep in touch with like… anyone?” He asked, frowning as he pulled out his phone and scrolled through his contact list; at least he’d had the brain power to get his phone number too, rather than just a Discord contact. What kind of person didn’t have discord?

“You’re agreeing, right? I honestly can’t tell, man. This’ll be good for you.” I think.

“My mom texts me or calls me if she needs to contact me.” Sara responded to the rhetorical question before she realized it was, in fact, rhetorical. Her social stock was already in the gutter but now it had to be barrelling its way to the core of the earth. “I…” Sara closed her eyes. The voices in her head were screaming, debating one another like the ancient philosophers in Greece, but sometimes the voices had to be silenced. Sara knew many and more things…but that wasn’t a skill so easily learned by any book or research paper. Her second most important mentor of her youth always said to take chances, make mistakes, get messy…maybe it was time for Sara to try one of those. “...Okay.”

“NICE.” Mikey couldn’t help but pump his fist in front of himself as his voice went a few decibels above where it should have been in the library. It was like a huge weight had lifted off of his shoulders as he was locked in for his deal with Nicky Snyder. Things were put into motion, and he was going to do his best to make sure the adopted nerds had a good time. He scribbled down a number on a piece of paper and pushed it across to her. “There’s his number. Text him if you want, maybe if you’re all mysterious and anonymous it’d be cute, I dunno. If you don’t wanna do that, tell him you got it from me.” He stepped up out of his chair and shouldered his pack again, grabbing his sports bottle and starting to walk away. As he departed, he dropped the library whisper and added. “Hey bring some of those Mexican donuts you used to bring to mathletes, yeah? Fuckin’ loved those things.”

It wasn’t quite how she imagined it happening, but Sara got her first phone number from a classmate. It might not have meant much to most people, but it was quite the big deal for Sara. Was she supposed to bring the pan dulce to the dance? Was that allowed? Wouldn’t that be weird, showing up with sweet bread for an entire dance? How many was she supposed to bake? That would take her, like, most of the night and into the morning if she wanted enough to go around. How many people showed up to a dance? To a party? Like…sixty, right? That seemed right. Sara looked at the slip of paper and looked over the number, already doing little equations with the number in her head. It was fun for her. Maybe she’d try sending a text after school - doing it during school hours was against the rules after all. “Wait…” Sara paused, looked at the paper. At the numbers. That’s all that was there. Numbers.

“Who the heck am I going to the dance with?”

welcome to the party pal!

accepted bro


The smell of breakfast was what woke him from his slumber. With the constant physical activity he did, Michael tended to sleep like a rock, but the smell of pancakes, bacon, eggs, and hashbrowns brought him back to life. He slowly threw one leg over the bed and lazily sat himself up. Was he always this tired? Maybe his mom was right, maybe he did need to quit the job if he was going to be this focused on his fitness, sports, and trying to get into a good college. His head hurt, something to do with staying up too late the night before — or maybe overworking himself at the gym? Staying up wasn’t his fault! Between all of the obligations he had, he basically only had the dead of the night to do what he wanted.

He moved slowly, but he eventually made it up and out of the bed, grabbing the Rubik’s cube on his desk as he headed toward the door. It took him even longer to get downstairs, and when he made it to the kitchen he was still wearing his pajamas - flannel pants and no shirt. It wasn’t like it mattered, his mother was working another overnight at the lab, which left only Michael, his dad Damian, and his youngest brother Samuel at the house.

Which was probably why as he approached the table, he could hear the sounds of a Nintendo Switch emanating from the dining room. His father was still standing over the stove, flipping blueberry pancakes over. Samuel, however, was sitting at the table and pressing buttons on his Switch. The tired Mikey took a seat across from Sam and stared at him. “Didn’t mom say not to play games at the table?” He asked as he turned the Rubik’s cube in his hands. Rubik’s cubes were easy, they had patterns.

“Mom’s not here!” Samuel chirped in response.

“I didn’t know that turned her rules off.” Mikey hissed as he narrowed his eyes. There was a certain bitterness to his tone, nothing out of line for an older sibling talking to a younger one, but it was still notable. In his hands, he shuffled the Rubik’s cube, getting it ready to play with while he ate his breakfast. His dad walked to the table with a huge plate of food that he dropped in front of Michael.

“Come on, Mike. Your mom’s at the lab, so that means it’s dad’s rules. And dad’s rules are: breakfast, served twice a day, video games at the table, and best of all —” Damian, his father, explained with a grin toward his younger son as Samuel’s eyes lit up with excitement.

“We get to watch scary movies and stay up late!”

“That’s correct.”

Michael didn’t respond, mostly because he was busy shoveling food into his mouth as fast as possible. His body had a desperate need for fuel. It was almost impressive how fast he was getting through the plate, but of the people in the house, Michael certainly burned through the most calories. He tore a piece of bacon with his teeth and spoke while chewing, “whatever! I don’t want to listen to Fortnite while I’m trying to eat, man.” He said, glancing at his father, but Damian just shrugged and returned to the stovetop. Michael would want more food after he was done with this plate, Damian remembered what he was like when he was a teenager.

“Don’t worry about it, dad. He’s just mad because he’s never won! Even though it’s a game for kids. Samuel’s voice was undeniably smug as he taunted his brother, before there was a loud THUD! followed by Samuel squeaking, “OW! DAD! MICHAEL THREW HIS STUPID RUBIK’S CUBE AT ME!” Michael had pitched the puzzle box at his little brother, tagging him square in the chest.

“Boo frickity hoo, mom’s not here. So her rules don’t apply.Michael leaned across the table, reaching for his Rubik’s cube, but Samuel dropped his Switch and snatched the cube up in one smooth motion. He jumped away from the table as his older brother complained. “Give it back, dude! Do you know how hard it is to find a genuine one these days!?”

“I’m gonna mess it all up first, you butthole.”


“You hit him with a Rubik’s cube, big dog! What do you expect?”

Michael sunk back into his chair in frustration. “Fine. Mess it up. It only takes me like thirty seconds to fix it! Did you forget about that?!” He demanded, with a mouthful of potatoes in his mouth. He was talking with his mouth full way more often than he would have with his mother there, but he figured if the rules were different for Sammy… they were different for him too.

“Okay… I guess I’ll just do this.” Samuel lifted up his arm, like he was going to spike the cube onto the ground, but he tensed up as Michael jumped out of his chair, a piece of pancake still on his fork. Samuel watched closely as his older brother tore the flapjack from the fork and chewed it aggressively with wide eyes that could only be described as ‘crazy.’ He slowly brought the Rubik’s cube back down and placed it gently on the table.

Michael nodded and sat back down, using the side of his fork to rip off another piece of the pancake. Samuel wasn’t going to let his elder brother have the last laugh, though. “You’re just mad because you’ve never gotten a Victory Royale.” He said with a devilish grin, and Michael immediately dropped his silverware.


“What the fuck is a victory royale?” Damian asked as he walked back into the kitchen, dumping another pile of food on to Michael’s nearly clean plate. “And don’t call your brother a dick! He’s a kid.” Damian shook her head as he unloaded the last couple of pancakes onto Samuel’s plate. “You need to take Sammy to school today. I gotta do… house stuff.” Damian had been given a list by his wife before she’d left, but he hadn’t even started yet. Some of it, he decided, he would call Trevor for.

Michael looked up and sighed, “after he was just a little butthead!? Come on, dad. You take him. Make him walk or ride the bus. I don’t wanna have to deal with him. And a victory royale is a Fortnite thing. It’s just what winning is called in it —”

“And Mikey’s never won because he sucks. He even makes me lose when we play together!” Samuel said, and Michael scowled. Damian sighed and shook his head.

“Be nice to your brother! He’s gotta take you to school, little dude. You wanna walk?” Damian asked, and Samuel seemed to think about it for a minute before shaking his head no and starting to eat in silence. Damian let out a relieved sigh and smiled, “I told Joy I had it under control.”

A few minutes later, Michael and Samuel were in his car and heading down the road toward Samuel’s school first. As they drove, Michael decided — perhaps foolishly — to open up the conversation that had started at the breakfast table. “Listen, dude. I can win a fuckin’ game of Fortnite, okay? I just haven’t yet because I don’t really play.” Michael said, glancing over at his brother only briefly as they pulled into the parking lot of the elementary school Samuel attended.

“No you can NOT, dude! I’ve watched you play video games, and like, you’re good at everything else in life… but man when you pick up a controller you run into the wall like an idiot!”

“You’re lucky I didn’t run this car into oncoming traffic, you little brat!” Michael clapped back, slapping the steering wheel. He did not give a vocal response for the simplest reason: he did not have one. Samuel was right, he sucked at video games, it was so embarrassing sometimes. Video games were meant for children, and Michael even liked playing them! But he had no Victory Royales, no Fall Guy crowns, no Warzone Dubs… He barely even made it through 2K’s career mode.

“Listen, dude. If you can get a SINGLE Victory Royale, I’ll do all your chores for a month. I mean, it’s like, pathetic at this point. You embarrass me when you join my lobbies and you don’t even have the umbrella.”

Michael swallowed his pride and nodded. “You have a deal.” He said through clenched teeth. Samuel grinned and threw open the door before he froze with eyes as wide as a deer in the headlights. Michael knew something was wrong, something was horribly wrong. Cautiously, he asked in a gentle voice. “...everything okay?”

“I forgot my backpack! Usually mom grabs it, but she’s not here so I just… forgot. Can we go back and get it!?” Samuel was having a moment of crisis. His backpack had his whole life in it, including most importantly the homework he’d worked so hard on the night before. Homework, he’d found, was a lot harder when dad was helping him with it instead of his mom. It wasn’t his dad’s fault; Joy O’Connor was a once-in-a-lifetime genius, and Damian O’Connor was a retired professional football player. The gap between them when it came to math, even fourth grade math, was astronomical.

“What!? No! I have to go to school too… I’ll just text dad. He’ll grab it for you, okay? Don’t worry about it, just go to class. If your teacher says anything, just try to ignore ‘em. Dad’ll be here lickety split, we both know he’s got nothing better to do, alright?” Michael said, and Samuel meekly nodded, the look of despair still in his eyes. Michael got it. He’d had the same fourth grade teacher, and Ms. Wik was a fucking bitch - though Michael would never vocalize that to Samuel.

He reached across the center console and ruffled Samuel’s hair, and grinned. He was trying to reassure his little brother. As much of a little shithead as Sammy was, he was ultimately Michael’s little shithead, and he wouldn’t change his brother, or really any member of his family, for anything. “Trust me. You’re gonna be fine, and if you’re not? Me, you, and Ethan will go TP her house. Got it? Now go get it done.”

Samuel seemed to accept this and he nodded, “okay… Thanks, bro.” He opened the door and returned the thumbs up that Michael gave him. A sacred promise between brothers.

With that out of the way, Michael quickly wrote a text to his dad to bring his brother’s backpack to the school and then he drove off, headed toward the high school where his own life awaited him. As he drove, he schemed in his head - how was he supposed to get a Fortnite Victory Royale? That game was fucking hard; he didn’t even understand how his brother did so well in it, but then he and his brother had never won together before… Did he know anyone in BHHS who was good at video games…?

Small FT: Dylan @smarty0114

As Nicky Snyder sang, he scribbled with his pencil on a piece of printer paper he’d snatched when Phoenix had looked the other way. Frankly, Nicky didn’t see the point to a homeroom class like this. Shouldn’t they be in classes where they actually learned something? Or, if not that, doing anything else? He didn’t get why there were so many requirements in high school. It was high school. Arrive. Do school work. Leave. Why was it anything more than that?

He was doing an excellent job of ignoring everyone else in the world, but maybe it was the THC that was still flowing through his bloodstream that kept him locked in on his ‘artwork.’ Bobbing his head up and down to the music that was blasting in his headphones, Nicky was currently doing his absolute best to make a Flip-o-Rama reminiscent of the Captain Underpants books he and Dylan had read in the past — and sometimes in the present. The future? Most definitely.

“Ain’t no other man can stand up next to you
Ain’t no other man on the planet does what —”

Nicky’s shitty whisper-singing came to a rapid close as he felt his headphones ripped off his head. He whipped his head to the side, shooting a glare in the direction of whoever it was. “Mikey, what the FUCK?! I was jammin’, dude. You never break someone’s concentration while they’re jamming.”

“I need a favor.” Michael sighed, shaking his head. Wasn’t there anyone else in this class who could win a game of Fortnite? His only options to win the bet with his younger brother were Cheech and Chong? Michael wasn’t sure who Nicky thought he was fooling, he could still smell the scent of marijuana radiating off of him. People knew, Nicky. They definitely knew.

“What!? Aren’t you elite! Get the elite to do it - this ain’t a charity case, broski.” Nicky said, before turning his attention back down to his drawing. He did, however, let his headphones fall around his neck. He was listening, for whatever it was worth. It was also made quickly apparent that he wasn’t done talking, “man, you gotta be truly desperate to come to me for help. This is gonna be some of the dumbest shit I ever heard, huh?”

“I need you to get me a win in Fortnite by Monday.”

“What?! That’s a ridiculous request! That’d be like me telling you I need a date to homecoming and the part-”

“Done. Easy.” Michael said, ready to make a trade offer that was heavily Nicky sided if it meant he could finally have that stupid umbrella that had eluded him for so long. “I’ll get you a date, and you, the date, and Dylan can kick it with me and the boys the whole time. King treatment.” Mikey didn’t think to ask his friends if that was okay, but then he found himself not really caring. Chances were, the only one who might say anything was Theo - and Theo could be drowned out by others.

Nicky thought about it. Michael grew visibly frustrated, but Nicky seemed to be enjoying this temporary exchange of power, “yo, Dyl. What do you think? Deal… or no deal?

“This is stupid! This is like a hold up. What else could you two possibly want!?” Michael was getting openly exasperated, and quickly remembering why he did his best to avoid this particular duo.

Dylan slowly spun his chair around, slouching with his arms across his chest. “You come to us, on this day of celebration, and you ask for a favor?” Dylan said, his voice contorted into what might’ve been the worst Marlon Brando impression ever performed. He almost asked Mikey to kiss the ring, but he figured that would be pushing his luck. Besides, there was something else he wanted wayyyy more than a kiss from Mikey O’Connor. A boy was simply not complete without his bullhorn. Dylan steepled his fingers and grinned over them at Mikey, a fox in teenage boy’s clothing. “Tell me, Michael, how good are you at breaking and entering?”
Starring: Owen Lyon
Featuring: Troy Lyon & David Powers
Location: The Lyon's Den ➜ The School Parking Lot
Time: 7:00 AM ➜ Just Before the First Bell!

From the outside looking in, the building looked rather dilapidated. At first glance it even looked more like a warehouse than anything, with no clear advertisement on the outer walls, and the sheet metal door sticking out like a sore thumb surrounded by the glam and glitz of downtown Beverly Hills High. It wasn’t always so bad, but without someone to watch over it for the past year or so, time was winning the battle. Paint needed to be reapplied, one of the windows was boarded up… it was a mess.

Faded advertisements were pasted on the building, proudly declaring it The 365 Combat Club. The club had stood for many years as one of many combat gyms in the LA area. There was nothing special about it. It didn’t have the newest equipment, it didn’t have the best trainers. It wasn’t like the 365 boasted a secret training technique to go from zero to hero; in fact, the old owner was quite fond of saying the only secret ingredients to success were hard work and dedication.

By the time he’d gotten old and frail, the only people left were those dedicated few. When the owner had passed, the 365 shuttered its doors and its fate was unknown for a while.

Until, almost overnight, the new owners arrived and made changes. Though the label on the gym door still said ‘The 365,’ the window and door both had new logos naming the place The Lyon’s Den and small text underneath saying ‘combat club and gym.’ Today was the first day of the gym’s second life, and to top it off, the new owner’s son was standing on a ladder balanced precariously against the wall of the warehouse building his family would now proudly call their second home.

With a hammer in one hand and banner in the other, Owen Lyon was trying to figure out the easiest way to get a nail from between his teeth and into the hole where he could hammer it in. This was the last thing he was expected to do until he could finally leave and go to school, something he was so excited for that it honestly disturbed him.

The truth was, he was basically his father’s prisoner. Before they had left their old town, Owen had gotten in trouble for being the centerpiece of a brawl at a sporting event. In his head, Owen counted it as a victory - he stood the tallest at the end, and that counted for something. He had hoped to sell his dad with that line, but his dad was just pissed he got in a fight outside of the gym. Again. And in public! Owen was lucky he was still allowed to drive himself around town, even if he had to drive his mom’s minivan.

He leaned his body up against the wall to hold up the banner as best he could. He took his free hand to grab one of the nails he held between his teeth and jammed it into the hole on the banner before he slammed it with his hammer. Bang! Bang! The ladder shook with each blow, and Owen found himself briefly concerned with falling off the ladder, and even more briefly he compared himself to a modern day Martin Luther. After all, the gym was basically his church.

Inside the gym, the sound of the hammer hitting the wall reverberated through the building. There were only two occupants, one laying in the center of the sparring ring near the middle of the gym, and one resting on a bench. On the bench, the man had his feet resting on a skateboard. His legs moved a million miles a minute, sliding side to side as he waited for something, anything to happen. When the hammering started, he jumped in his seat. “Christ!” He said, shaking his head as he looked across at his older brother - Owen’s father, Troy. “Are you sure he should be doing that alone?”

Troy sat up and shot his younger brother a scowling look. “You for real? Owen can hang a fuckin’ banner on his own. He’s damn near a grown man, but don’t tell Ky that.” He shook his head and grabbed the ropes to pull himself to his feet. “Why are you even here, Davy? Don’t you have anything better to do?” He asked, leaning on the ropes to peer down at Davy as the banging came to an end, and Owen’s work seemed to be complete. “For fuck’s sake, you have a toddler at home.”

Davy shrugged his shoulders. That was true, he did have a baby at home, but he felt like he needed to be with his brother and nephew, “Ely said it’s cool if I take a couple mornings to come here and make sure you and our little I.E.D. aren’t up to no good. Besides, if anything I get stressed with the baby. She’s so… small. I didn’t know they were that small!” He exclaimed, shaking his head.

“I don’t like when you call me that. I’m not even that explosive!” Owen had arrived on the scene, heading back inside to tell his father the deed was done before he went to school, but he’d caught the last part of what his uncle had said and felt a need to defend himself. Unfortunately, it was disastrous as both Davy and Troy burst into laughter. “I’M NOT. I’m not! I’ve never gotten mad or hit someone who didn’t deserve it! I just get angry sometimes. That’s messed up.” Owen frowned as he looked between the two older men, wanting one of them to say something, anything.

“I’m getting a beer. Owen, don’t go anywhere.” Troy finally said, hopping out of the ring. Owen seemed noticeably displeased with what he’d said, but didn’t protest and didn’t move either. Like a good soldier, Owen was awaiting orders.

On the other hand, Davy’s life wasn’t decided by Troy’s mood, and he was happy to poke the bear. “What are you talking about? A beer? Dude, it’s like 7 AM - HEY!” Davy was cut off of his words by Troy leaning down to snatch the joint he held between his fingers. Wagging a finger at his younger brother, Troy tutted.

“New dads shouldn’t be high. And what are you talking about? I’m a grown man with two grown ass kids, I can drink whenever I damn well fuckin’ please. You look like a hypocritical asshole, judging me for a beer with breakfast while you get ready to smoke a jay in the gym. Read the fucking rules. There are two rules.” Troy said, pointing toward the chalkboard hanging on the wall. In the corner, it had a message, written in the flowery printing of his wife.

Hello new gym people! Please make sure to follow these very important rules:

  • no smoking
  • no bitching whining

Thank you and we hope you enjoy your time here!

Davy shrugged. “Point made.”

“I wish she hadn’t put the thank you, but she’s pretty amped about the opening. So fuck off and follow my wife’s rules.” Troy pocketed the joint he’d snatched and then looked back at his son. For the time being, it seemed, he’d forgotten about the morning beer and was once again locked in on Owen. “Speaking of rules, Mr. Owen. I got some you need to follow. You’re going to BHHS now, and keeping it real? That place sucks. I wish you didn’t have to graduate from there, but I had to come back and save the gym before they declared it condemned.

I have some advice.”

“I don’t need advice. It’s fucking high school. I’m gonna keep my head down, finish up my last year, and then go to college. Wooooooooo, Chico State.” Owen said, mockingly lifting his arms up and flailing them around. “Maybe I’ll get a real job. Unlike Ruby.” Owen couldn’t help but smirk as he took the opportunity to dunk on his sister. It was especially sweet to do it when she wasn’t present to defend herself. Unfortunately for him, their father was.

“Rule number fuckin’ one! Don’t disrespect your sister in front of company -”

“This isn’t company. This is Davy.”

“Okay. Ouch.”

“RULE NUMBER TWO. Don’t interrupt me, boy wonder.” Troy said in a snippy voice, folding his arms over his chest. There were very few things in this world that annoyed Troy more than being interrupted, and unfortunately for Owen, disrespect for his daughter was up there too. He huffed and shook his head, before carrying on. “Look, son. I did my time at BHHS. It isn’t like normal schools, that’s why I told Kylie no when she suggested we move back here to be closer to family. That school? It breeds hate and drama. I don’t know what it is, but the four years I was there? Hell. Literal, actual, factual hell. I got involved in a drug war. I was seventeen. It’s probably the fuckin’ same old shit. First rule. Find Scott, and stick close to whoever he hangs out with.”

“Who’s Scott? Scott like, my cousin Scott? Dad, I only talk to him at Christmas parties.” Owen explained, shaking his head. As far as he was concerned, there was nothing to be worried about. It was a school, and he only had a matter of months left anyway, then before anyone knew it, he’d be out and on his way. “Dude, you’re blowing this out of proportion.”

“No, no. Your dad has a point. It was weird for my time too - there was a beach party, and someone writing a LiveBlog about the school used it to try and succesfully! start a social war. Me? I was, uh, sixteen. Happy to say I was never implicated!” Davy beamed, as if there were something to be proud of in his statement. “The Weekend Warrior, it was called. Or something like that? It’s probably still up.”

“Always something with that fuckin’ place. You better not get involved in no drug wars, no social wars, and no goddamn fights. Don’t associate with anyone named Green, they’re probably evil. Especially the women - not sexist, it’s just the truth - some of the guys are okay. Henry and I used to drink. Stick to people you know. Find Scott, and stick to him. Listen, Owen. This has gotta go well, I don’t wanna hear nothin’ about no fights, no spunky scraps, no women -” “Something tells me that won’t be a problem.” “ - What did I just say about interrupting me? Fine, you don’t wanna go hang out with Scott? Fine. Whatever.” Owen shrugged and Troy sighed, trying to remember where he was. “Forget it. The most important rule, the number one rule of BHHS, is simple. DTA. Don’t. Trust. Anybody. Snakes in the grass, the lot of ‘em. I don’t even want to be here as a fuckin’ adult, but they wanted to condemn the gym. My gym. Fuck that!” Feeling himself get on a tangent, Troy paused and took a breath to halt it before he looked back at Owen.

“Understood?” Owen nodded and Troy stepped forward to stand in front of his son. Thinking the situation was a little dicey, Owen visibly tensed up. It wasn’t unlike his father to go for a takedown as a test, and he needed to be prepared. He flinched as Troy lifted up a hand… and then lazily brought it down on his left shoulder, then up over his head and onto his right shoulder. “Good. Then I absolve you of your sins.”

“Does that… did I sin? What are you talking about? Am I an Avenger now?” Owen asked his father. Before his father could respond, a chuckle came from his uncle, and Owen turned his attention in that direction.

“It means you’re not in trouble anymore, little dude.”

“Davy’s right. Go be a kid. Oh, I’m gonna need the minivan today, so…” Troy dug around in his pocket and fished out the key to his beloved car, which he tossed to Owen. Owen watched it sail through the air, and found himself too stunned to catch it. “You can take mine. Jesus, Owen. What is wrong with you? When my dad said I could drive his car? I was amped.” Troy shook his head, but Owen’s brain was still running a million miles a minute just to try and keep up with the situation.

“So, let me get this straight… I’m free, and I get your car?” Owen asked, and Troy nodded. Owen frowned. There must have been a catch. One he didn’t see, or something like that. There was something his dad wanted from him, he knew that much… it was just figuring it out what it was. “What’s the deal?” He asked, and Troy just shrugged.

“There isn’t one. I was too harsh, and you did a good job setting up around here. Keep it under 10k, don’t lose my CDs. It doesn’t have bluetooth, so deal with it. You show up to BHHS in a minivan and you’re going to get roasted before you even have a chance.” Troy explained, watching as Owen turned to walk away. “Be back here by six at the latest. You’re working with the beginners, got it?” He asked, and when a thumb was thrown into the air by his son who stepped out of the building, Troy sighed. He looked at Davy and spoke in a stern tone. “You have no idea how lucky you are. They’re so much easier when they’re small.”

“I feel like all she does is sleep and poop?”

“You know how much easier my life would be if the I.E.D. did nothing but sleep and shit?”

“Okay, once again. Point taken.”

Owen slipped out of the gym, stepping underneath the banner he’d spent his morning hanging up above the entryway. With bright red paint and his mother’s tell-tale writing, it practically shouted its message to the streets:

Outside of the gym, Owen was sliding behind the wheel of his dad’s car for the first time. As he sank into the leather seat and put his hands on the wide steering wheel, Owen found himself wondering if he was truly ready for this kind of responsibility. He put the key in the ignition and turned it, with the car immediately roaring to life in response as the stereo blasted the music his dad listened to.

He revved the engine for a moment, and then shifted it into gear. He pulled out of the gym, and was on his way. He couldn’t help himself but smile as he drove down the streets and toward the new high school, his phone guiding him along the way. He was a new man! Free from the baggage of fighting all the time at school, free from the warden’s judgment, and most of all… well, he would have been lying if he said he didn’t like the car he was driving now.

By the time the next song had ended, Owen had found his way to the parking lot of the school and slid his car into a parking slot alongside a red car, in line with… a lot of other fancy looking vehicles. He considered for a second that he should park somewhere else - it seemed like this was a place where the car people gathered, but then ultimately decided he didn’t care and killed the engine.

Owen Lyon was finally here.

Welcome to Beverly Hills: Limitless. We are so excited to get this party started.
Feel free to move your characters to the appropriate tab and in the next couple of days talk about relations if you haven't already.
Sunday, 04/07, we set sail on a great adventure of chaos, comedy, and crying!

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[ Monkey D. Luffy, One Piece]

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