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12 years on.

I'm waiting for the moment someone in my city mentions roleplayerguild as their hobby. I know you're out there.

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Location: Southern Plateau - PRCU
Hope in Hell #2.019: Put Through the Winger

Interaction(s): Rory @Webboysurf, Katja @Zoldyck
Previously: Fowl Play

Haven’s eyes darted around the room, desperately searching for an exit, until Rory spoke to her. She allowed herself to turn her head to him, to ignore the raging inferno spreading towards her and the threat of a simulated Lorcán above. Because there was no way that was the real thing. There was a wild look in her eyes as she listened to him akin to a trapped animal. Oil had dripped onto the right side of her face, which oozed onto her collarbone as the millisecond passed between herself and the man she dared not to release from her grip.

As Rory spoke, she heard a steadiness in his words that she hadn’t heard before. He wanted her to let go, but he wanted her to be right behind him. He and Katja had a plan, something they had partnered together to accomplish before. Haven nodded as he finished. That wild look in her eye shifted to acknowledge her trust in him for a fleeting moment. She slowly began to back away from the fire, away from Rory’s grounding touch. Instinct returned in a vicious wave of fear the moment she stood alone. She turned to run from the approaching flames, but Katja’s voice caught her attention.

Haven allowed Katja’s words to comfort her further. There was a way out. The realization kicked her into gear. The oil that covered her shoes threatened to hold her still, but it was no match for Haven. She poured her strength into her legs. She tore through the oil as if it was a shallow lake in the mountains far away. Her wings unfurled beside her. They flinched once, delaying her takeoff as the first drops of oil from above stuck and matted feathers together. She cursed, realizing she was running out of space to run. The wall approached fast and she made a split decision.

Five feet from the oil slick wall Haven kicked off of the floor. She sent herself feet first onto the vertical surface. Her wings tucked into her back as her feet connected with the wall five feet off of the ground, and then she launched herself into the air at a 45 degree angle. Now cleared from the wall and the floor, Haven’s wings snapped open. They beat against the air around her until they held her aloft, the wind produced by them fanning the flames below. She looked upwards, at the hole that Rory made for them to escape through, and began to circle towards it. There was no time to waste if the Lorcán above was distracted. His boots came into sight as Haven circled the opening.

The boots she’d been watching before shifted into someone else. The new imitation’s voice told her all she needed to know about who it was. Her words only angered Haven. It was time to make her move. Despite the worry that shot through her as Katja’s scream overwhelmed her ears, Haven didn’t falter. Instead, she used it as a fuel to her own personal fire.

She dropped a few meters below the opening. The heat below warmed her skin for a passing moment. She saw Katja had begun to climb, relieved to see she hadn’t been burnt, but she turned her head away before she was distracted by it. She angled herself upwards. Her wings began to furiously pump against the acrid air around her. The oil that collected on her feathers messed with her aerodynamics, but she powered through it. It began to slide off at the tips of her feathers, falling into the fire below with a hiss as it joined the flames.

Haven passed through the hole at her top ascending speed, aimed for the head of black hair and anguish-laden eyes that hadn’t turned her way yet. Her eyes were narrowed, a look of fury within them. She needed the anger to overwhelm the fear within her. She’d never felt webbing on her feathers before, and she didn’t plan to. She couldn’t afford to waste a moment in hesitation.

Her wings snapped open wide meters away from where Mei clung to the ceiling. The drag allowed her to swing her legs forward, her left foot extending out in front of her and aimed for that soft spot where the blow would surely render anyone unconscious. She tucked her arms into her chest and her wings into her back, and allowed momentum to carry her there. Her foot connected with Mei’s temple just as she spun herself. Her right leg came around behind her, delivering a blow to the back of the head that could send a hyperball out of the stadium.

Haven let herself spin and fall away from Mei, then. She dropped a few feet before her wings unfurled, catching the air as she quickly made a circle around the room. She then slowed herself down and hovered behind where Rory crouched. She couldn't bring herself to look at him in case Mei's words had left an impact.

"So we're resorting to slut shaming now? The real Mei would be above that, I'd hope.” Haven spoke, her fists clenched at her sides. ”He’s a good man. Your envy would have hurt him more than it hurts you.”

"Rory was mine," Mei screeched seemingly unphased by Haven's attack. "You stole him!" Webs flew from both of her wrists, strands going taut before she launched herself across the grated walkway between the billowing smoke and raging fire, both legs held in a flying kick aimed towards Haven.

Haven's wings beat downwards in a show of strength, propelling her up and over the crazed Mei. The smoke below clearing from around where Rory crouched. "Rory, find a way out of here!" She shouted to him. Her lungs could filter the smoke for a while, but she knew Rory could only handle it for a few minutes.

"You stole him! You winged whore!" The frenzied woman continued to berate Haven who had become the sole object of her rage. Her nails were razer sharp, slashing at the other woman as Mei did everything she could to entangle Haven. She moved at blinding speed, skittering from wall to ceiling to wall. Webs flying in every direction as the flames grew hotter. Metal creaked and groaned beneath, the weight of the mechanical equipment and the heat of the inferno straining the metal to its breaking point. A shudder rocked the room, the grating beginning to warp as a bolt was loosed and ricocheted down the wall.

Haven focused solely on avoiding the webbing as it began to fill the room. She took Mei's attacks to her forearms. The pain akin to slicing her arms on branches like she'd done countless times before. Mei was too fast to get a hit in while Haven was distracted with the webbing. Haven clenched her teeth together, growing frustrated with the barrage of attacks.

"You'll never be happy together, you freak!" Mei continued, "The Foundation is going to clip those wings!" She called in a sing song voice before swooping down again, frantically clawing at Haven.

"Give him up now before you break his heart!"

Haven released an angry howl as Mei's claws slipped past her forearms. She caught one on her cheek, and the other across her collarbone. She kicked her legs out in front of her to catch Mei by the stomach as she pushed the girl away from her.

"You're nothing but a construct of my fears!" She shouted, this time redirecting her attention to be on the offense. She let herself drop a meter, her feet connecting with a taut string of Mei's web. She launched herself off of it, her wings tucking into her back as she careened into the other woman.

Instead of striking, Haven grabbed Mei by her wrists. Her wings unfurled behind her and began to lift them higher into the air. "No one will ever clip my wings." Haven hissed, her voice shaky but confident. The threat alone had sent shivers down her spine. "Not you, not the Foundation... I will fight for myself and for Rory. I will not break his heart."

"Oh but I bet I could, Sub-Class." Mei's face suddenly contorted, her hair becoming thick and curled. Within seconds, Mei was gone, replaced instead by Torres.

Haven's expression melted from anger to shock.

"You're not worthy of the power we gave Tiamat. You half-breed degenerate." Torres easily broke free of Haven's grasp, sending the small girl to the ground. She seemed to grow by the second until she was a height that towered over the fallen Haven. "No matter how far or high you fly, we will be there waiting to ground you." Torres sneered.

Haven looked up from where she laid, fear growing in her eyes as she tucked her aching wings in tightly to her back.

"I personally will make sure you disappear." She laughed, Haven suddenly plunged into darkness only to find herself alone, suspended in a cage. The cage hung in a room surrounded by all manner of laboratory equipment. On the table below her was another young girl, a brunette just like Haven. She too possessed large tawny covered wings that were forcibly stretched out as masked figures protruded her with needles and cut away at her flight feathers.

Haven's heart began to race within her chest. Her breathing became erratic as she witnessed the scene below. "No... this isn't real." She whispered. "Not real." She reached for the neural link against her temples, desperate to free herself of the image. Her instincts stopped her just as she touched them. She had to endure the simulation. There had to be a way out of it.

"The school won't let you hurt us." Haven said as she gripped the bars to the cage. She pulled against them, her panic fueling her muscles. When they didn't budge, she kicked at them, her frustration evident on her face. "Amma hates you for what you've done. She will destroy you."

Torres vanished into the darkness above the room, her laughter becoming a disembodied voice until only a whispered reply.

Let Tiamat come, it's time she returned home, your school can not stop us.

And then, there was nothing but Haven alone in her cage, watching the other winged woman torn apart for spare parts like a discarded machine.

Escape seemed futile after the tenth attempt to kick the cage open. Haven panted where she sat, her eyes searching the room for anything that could help her. They stopped on the table below and the gruesome sight made her sick to her stomach. There was no doubt that it was an imitation of herself on that table. Of what the Foundation might do to her if the rumors were true. Alyssa had said a girl like herself had gone missing, after all. Even if this was a projection of her fears, her fear of this was real.

"Not real... not real." Haven's words were barely a whisper. She placed herself in the center of the cage. Her knees tucked into her chest as she hugged them tightly. "Not real." She shut her eyes and rest her forehead on her knees. The nausea began to subside. "Not real."

Her wings extended around herself, forming a cocoon of warmth. She could still feel the now dry splotches of oil on her outer feathers. Her forearms had stopped bleeding but they still stung as she gripped them tightly. Her right hand ached where Katja had held it too tightly. She let the pain ground her, and yet her heart still beat wildly in her chest. She felt the warmth of blood against her cheek from where Mei had cut her. Dried oil caked her other cheek. Her collarbone stung as her shoulders curled inwards. Tears pricked at her eyes as she tried to ignore the sounds of a bone saw below her.

"Not real." Her voice broke on the second word. "Not real."

Location: Southern Plateau - PRCU
Hope in Hell #2.005: Fowl Play

Interaction(s): Rory @Webboysurf, Katja @Zoldyck, Blackjack
Previously: Feathers on the Court

The water running over Haven's face felt like heaven to her. She stood still under it for a moment, letting it wash away any remaining nerves or doubts that had gathered in her chest since her talk with Rory. He'd been honest with her; that was really all that mattered to her now. She figured that couples had to go through things like this when they first started out, anyways.

She turned around, water droplets bouncing and rolling off of her feathers as her back entered the water. Her hands reached for the soap as she wondered if her and Rory should go on a proper date. Maybe after the dance. The thought was bittersweet.

She made quick work to wash the little sweat that had gathered on her skin. Since her body regulated it's temperature at a higher rate, Haven hardly had to worry about body odor. Her hair on the other hand, was a tangled mess. She washed it with a generous amount of shampoo and conditioner, using her fingers as a brush to tame the golden brown locks.

As much as she wanted to stay in the quiet space, she knew that she needed to get moving. Last nights activities were catching up to her stomach. It grumbled within her as she shut the water off. She pulled on her spare PTU and sneakers quickly. Thinking about the trial had her walking the line between stuffing food down her throat like a hungry fledgling or hardly eating anything at all. A mix of excitement and nerves, bundled up between her shoulder blades where her wings touched and feathers blossomed.

She stepped out of the shower tent with her dirty clothes in hand. Her wings began to stretch out behind her, rousing the feathers to expel any remaining water droplets from within. She headed for the tent, quickly opening it to toss her dirty clothes towards her duffel. The sight of the two sleeping bags so close together on the ground had her smiling as she zipped the it closed.

Haven scanned her gathered teammates as she approached Blackjack's breakfast assortment. Casually searching for any odd looks sent her way as she pulled her hair up into a ponytail. They'd heard her and Rory's intimate moment last night. There was no doubt about it. So would the comments start now or later?

Haven's eyes halted on one particular teammate that captured her attention. Katja, normally their sunshine on a day like this, seemed like a wisp of a cloud instead. A selfish part of Haven wondered if it was because she regretted turning Rory away yesterday. Better yet, would things be awkward between them now?

If Haven had to worry about things being awkward between anyone, she really should consider Mei's feelings. The dark haired firecracker wasn't gathered with the team yet. She had to admit that it was as much of a relief as it was a worry. Then again, Haven had to remind herself that Mei's awkwardness should be directed Rory's way instead. Haven hadn't known that Rory was taking her to the dance. If things were weird between them, she'd tell her just that.

As if in answer to Haven's thoughts, Tad announced Mei's departure just as she took her spot by Rory's side. She looked over at him, her eyes flaring for a moment as Mei's final words hit her in the gut. She knew he would feel responsible for it. Yet it was also out of his control in a way. Who would have known that Mei would have such a dramatic reaction? She had to have been debating the air force for a while to just up and leave like that.

Haven glanced towards the rest of Blackjack with a sheepish smile forced onto her features. Jess just had to tease them about it. "Sorry, guys." She murmured to them all, if only to save face. Her eyes were on Rory again soon after. She quickly decided that the best thing she could do for him was to stay by his side. So just as casually as she had approached him, Haven slipped her hand into his and gave it a gentle squeeze. Her smile was reassuring, yet underneath her concern for him laid irritation towards Mei's final words.

"I can't believe she had to call us out like that." Haven quietly said to him, her head turning back as Tad continued his Tad Talk. "She took it a little too far in my opinion."

Rory didn't bother to apologize in reaction to the news. His face remained surprisingly stoic, for someone who so often wore his heart on his sleeve. But he bit the inside of his cheek as he stood next to Haven, squeezing her hand harder than she squeezed his. She had always wanted to join the air force... but to be the catalyst for such a sudden move tore at his chest. He looked down, avoiding eye contact with the errant stares. But he still stood tall, back straight, like his father had taught him. He looked over to Haven, giving her a short nod and a lighter squeeze of the hand. He flashes a weak smile for a moment, before his eyes rose up to look towards another imposing figure. Well-less imposing now. Everything about Katja seemed... wrong. Come to think of it, Katja never wore her jacket this early in the year. Short sleeves or sleeveless was always her M.O. so she could show off the guns. But it wasn't just the jacket... where was the smile? The hi-fives, the pep talks, the school spirit? She out-Roried him in everything... but to be so cold and dead like this was wrong. He whispered to Haven. "I know this is bad timing... does Kat seem off to you?" He couldn't help the concern and hesitation creep into his voice.

Haven glanced over Katja's way again. "Definitely." She read the expression on his face. It was clear that he was worried. Whether it was because of his feelings for her or just concern for a friend, Haven knew that she had to trust him in order for things to work. "You should talk to her. She's always cheered us up, so maybe she needs someone to do that for her now." She offered him a small, yet reassuring smile.

Rory gave Haven a concerned look as he took in her words. The concern was mixed, as were two feelings in his chest. Katja was somewhere dark, and needed help. But given their conversation that morning, it felt wrong to leave Haven's side for Katja of all people. But Haven's words and her meaning were clear. Like the Amazon had told him to trust his heart the night before, Wings was telling him to do what he thought was right. But he looked her in the eyes carefully, studying her expression. "Are you sure?"

Haven nodded, stepping onto her tip toes to give him a kiss on the cheek. "You're still friends, right?" She gave his hand a light squeeze. "I trust you, Rory. Go help our friend get her spark back."

Rory shot Haven a soft smile, squeezing her hand back. "You're the best." He let go of Haven's hand, starting to head off to grab some breakfast items. Over his shoulder, without a thought in his head, he said softly, "I'll meet you at the Trials. I love you." He went ahead and grabbed a few breakfast items and filled up on some coffee, before breaking off to go check in on Katja.

Haven had been smiling as Rory turned away from her, just happy to be having moments like this with him. Then as those three words slipped from his mouth, Haven's heart was fluttering in her chest. Her mouth parted in shock as her wings went slack behind her. She blinked, her eyes refocusing on Rory as he grabbed some food. Did he just...? She cleared her throat, a sudden flush coming to her face. It doesn't happen that fast, does it?

Haven chuckled to herself as she headed for the breakfast table, a goofy smile on her face. He didn't wait for me to say it back... but did I need to? Do I...? She looked over the spread of breakfast items, that same nauseous yet starving feeling taking hold of her the more she thought about it. She grabbed a waffle and stuffed it into her mouth, then piled a few on her plate with some fruit and syrup. It seemed like the hunger would win this time.

Haven tugged on the sides of her suit to adjust the fit of it against her wings. They flexed out beside her, testing her range of motion within the fabric like she had done since the first day wearing an A.R. Suit. Happy with the feeling, Haven gave a bright smile to her teammates nearby as she took a spot behind Rory in the line to enter the simulation.

"Let's show the other teams what we're made of." She quipped. Her fingers tapped the neural uplink on each side of her temples as she also tested their position. She reached out in front of her to give Rory a light tap on his lower cheek.

Gotta love these uniforms.

Haven felt the same mix of excitement and nervousness as she stepped towards the entrance. She could already feel adrenaline pumping through her veins, preparing her for what was to come. She had no doubt that Harper, Calli, and Mei had outdone themselves. The only worry she had would be the simulated pain that would come her way if things were violent. Then again, there wouldn't be any pain if she was fast enough.

Rory swiped his card, and then she swiped her own. She blinked a few times as her eyes adjusted to the A.R. visual. Her head turned, scanning their surroundings in an attempt to gauge what could come their way. The door shut behind them, and Haven flexed her hands beside her.

The flickering visuals didn't raise any alarms. But when the lines of red numbers and letters assaulted her eyes, Haven knew something had gone wrong. She was soon plunged into a darkness even her own eyes could not see into. "Harp-" She cut herself short as a bright white overtook everything. Her eyes shut tightly, and they didn't open until she heard a name being whispered to them. One name in particular, the name that had been given to one of Blackjack's very own.

When Haven opened her eyes, her heart plummeted off a cliff. She recognized the layout instantly, although yesterday she hadn't pictured it this... clean. The fog grazed her shoes, the hissing echoing off of the white walls and floors. She could hear the static in the room nearby, her eyes drawn to the inside of it to see the damaged screen. She turned her head to the right only to find an unsettling scene that made her wings tuck in tightly to her back. This can't be how it actually looks, can it?

Haven could feel anxiety pooling in her chest. Lorcán had tried the door and nearly puked. They were surrounded by a HZE blocking field, and there was no sky above them. She probably couldn't fly in here, or she'd risk getting zapped herself. She was a bird in a cage...

A hand brushed against hers. Rory. His familiar touch grounded her. She gratefully took his hand, holding onto it for dear life. Her head turned away from the rooms to look Calli and Harper's way, her eyes intense as she ran over possibilities. She heard Tad return Harper's card to her as Haven entered the simulation. When could Harper have lost it? She never lost important things easily.

Haven's attention was drawn from Harper as she heard Amma speak. Her eyes locked onto the Foundation-transfer and it was obvious that Amma hadn't been a part of this. That rage that laid beneath the silver eyes and pale skin was one that Haven had felt before. She found herself empathizing with Amma for the first time. Amma was just as trapped as they were.

Her words echoed in Haven's mind as she watched Amma's whorls of scarlet dissipate into the fog in front of them. They want to see how we last in their domain, huh? Haven felt her thundering heart begin to settle as her determination regained control of her mind.

"Someone's messing with us, and it isn't Amma." She glanced over Harper's way. Harper had probably figured it out by now. She was always a step ahead of them all. Her head turned to look into Rory's eyes. Her gaze was tense, holding the gravity of the situation in her gold and green eyes. "As much as I wish this was a haunted house, we could be in real danger here, Rory."

Her hand still held his tightly. She felt like if she let go she would get swallowed up by this place. Her eyes searched his for the eventual understanding, and then she looked around at the group. With Amma gone, they were at an uneven number. Lorcán had taken Aurora's hand, Rory hers, Calli with Banjo, and she assumed that Harper would take Katja's. Maybe Gil's instead?

She held out her free hand Katja's way as a thought popped into her head. "I can probably handle your strength better than the others." She said with a small smile. "Sound good?"

Location: Southern Plateau - PRCU
Welcome Home #1.099: Feathers on the Court

Interaction(s): Rory @Webboysurf
Previously: Fiery Birds

Outside of the tent, barely perceptible steps could be heard approaching. Along with the gentle rustling of feathers as Haven stretched her wings out one last time before she'd tuck them in for the night. She stopped in front of the door, her ears picking up motion within. He's still up.

The thought provoked a fluttering feeling within her stomach. She pulled her wings in front of her, her hands smoothing down any stray feathers. Next she pulled the hairband from her ponytail. Her fingers combed through her hair before she pushed it back from her face. It wasn't like she was worried she looked a mess. She'd gone most of her life without caring how she looked. This preening was brought on by the excitement and nerves that came with stepping into a tent alone with Rory. To the rush of wondering if he'd figured out her answer earlier, and how he might have taken it.

Haven reached for the zipper of the tent, halting as her fingers pressed against the metal. She took a slow breath through her lungs, and breathed out through her nose. You can do this, Haven. You got this. A small, excited smile flashed before she cooled her expression and pulled the zipper open.

She ducked her head, her wings tucking close to her back so that they wouldn't graze the tent as she stepped inside. "Hey, I'm glad you're up." She began, her eyes lifting from the floor as she stood straight to look at- Oh.

Rory had remarkable timing.

When he had first gotten back to the tent and noticed Haven wasn't there, he slipped inside. Of course, his first concern was that she was going to walk in at any moment, and the last thing he wanted was to be caught naked before they had a chance to talk. So, he laid out his sleeping bag and rested for a moment, keeping an ear out for Haven's arrival. But as soon as he was lying down, he was stuck there for some time. His muscles ached, and he desperately wanted to sleep. He felt himself nearly nod off once or twice.

But he knew he had to stay awake.

So, after what felt like an eternity, Rory managed to slowly lift himself up from his sleeping bag. In the process, his towel got caught underfoot and was pulled off as he stood up. He shrugged, figuring this was a good excuse to get changed anyways. He walked over to his duffle bag, opened it up, and pulled out a pair of boxers.

He was confused why he heard two zippers when opening his duffel bag... but nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard Haven's voice. He spun around, naked as the day he was born with a pair of light gray boxer briefs in hand, eyes wide in panic as he saw Haven. He had only a moment to register that she had let her hair down before he noticed her looking at him. Well, more specifically, she was looking at his lower half.

It took him a couple of seconds to shake himself from his stupor and turned around, quickly sliding on the boxers while turned away from Haven. "I'm... oh God, I'm so sorry. I wasn't trying to... I'm sorry." Rory quickly reached into his bag for a pair of athletic shorts, sliding those on before turning back to face Haven, face red with embarrassment.

Haven was staring at- at him, more specifically a part of him that she hadn't seen before. Her mouth was open, having formed the word "oh" as she thought it. If Rory hadn't panicked, he'd have noticed a flush quickly spread across the center of her neck, goosebumps raising on her arms, and the feathers on her wings slowly fluffing. Haven turned at the same moment he did, her eyes going right to the top of the tent. Yet as she heard him shuffling about behind her, a slow grin began to creep onto her face. She bit her lip, trying to suppress it, but failed miserably.

"No, I'm- I'm sorry. I should have knocked or... something." Haven hoped that he couldn't hear the grin in her voice. It was obvious she was flustered, but was it embarrassment? Haven didn't think so, personally. She lifted her right wing as she turned, using it to cover her vision of his lower half as she peeked over it to glance at him. The lower half of her face was also hidden behind the ruffled feathers, thankfully. "Sorry, Rory. Is it safe to come in now?"

Rory finished sliding up his shorts as Haven turned to face him, and his cheeks were still a bright shade of pink as he looked her in the eye. He took a deep breath as he recovered. He couldn't quite see all of her face, but she certainly didn't look angry or disgusted. What that could possibly mean didn't even register in his mind, though, as he was still stuck replaying the embarrassing moment in his mind. He lifted his hands to cover his face a moment, rolling them down and stretching the skin as if to wipe away the mistake off his face. With an exhale, he turned his gaze back to Haven and nodded. "I'm, uh... decent. This isn't how I wanted to start things off."

Haven slowly lowered her wing, her grin fading into a small smile. She took a step further into the tent, getting to a spot where her wings could rest comfortably behind her. "I know, Rory. It's okay. Really." She tilted her head to the side as she looked over how red in the face he was. "What... did you have in mind, though?"

And there it was. No backing out now.

Rory rubbed the back of his neck with his hand, taking another deep breath. "Right... well, uh... before I answer that, I think it's important I'm upfront about something." He paused, panic washing over him. He was in the thick of it now. But, Katja was right. Subtlety wasn't his strong suit... and the only way through this was to talk things out. "I promised myself, before I got back from summer vacation, that I wouldn't leave here without any regrets. So, I think... I mean, based on today, and the vibe..." Rory felt his mouth getting dry and sweat beginning to form on his brow. He wasn't exactly shy around most folks... awkward, sure. But this was different. He took a another breath, and looked Haven in the eye.

"When I asked about sleeping together, I meant sharing a tent. But... you were a little weird about it. What do you think I asked?" Internally, he was kicking himself. He had chosen the coward's path... but he already knew how he felt. There was still a chance this was a misunderstanding.

Haven felt her heart begin to beat faster and she swore she could hear his heart begin to thump too. She felt weightless for a moment as he looked in her eyes. Yet the question grounded her. It wasn't exactly what she hoped he'd ask, but... it wasn't pointing her in the wrong direction either.

"I have to admit, I... I thought you were being bold at first." She began, her eyes glancing between his. Her lips curved at the edges as she remembered it. "You really have to chose your words carefully next time, Rory." Her eyes searched his face for any reaction, pausing on his lips for a moment before she met his gaze again.

"It had my heart racing, like it is now." She was holding her breath. Hoping that if she kept it under control she wouldn't reveal too much at once and overwhelm him. "I realized what you really meant- a few seconds later. I didn't correct you for a reason, though."

"I, uh..." Her confidence wavered for a moment. Then it rose up in full force. She had to say it now, or it might not ever matter again. She took another small step towards him. Her head tilting back just a bit more so that she could keep his eyes in focus. "I like you, Rory. As more than a friend. I haven't felt this way about anyone else, and it's hard for me to say it, but I mean it."

"I really like you." The smile she had now was soft and sincere, expressing her feelings through physical language if the words didn't say it for her.


Rory paused, his head drowning in thoughts and sound. Haven's words felt like they were wrapping themselves around his chest, his breathing getting a little tighter. It's what he wanted... better than he hoped for. But his own words were caught in his throat. "I... I've been afraid of this." He mentally kicked himself, quickly sputtering out an explanation. "Of it being both of us... you know, liking each other like that... I was talking with Kat earlier this evening, feels right to tell you too... I don't have a lot of options once I get out of here. So I thought if I just stayed quiet and didn't tell anyone how I felt... you can't foul out if you don't play." He looked down at his hands, snapping with one hand before smacking that same palm into his other fist. He was fumbling. He lifted his gaze up, the smile on her face immediately brightening his.

Fuck it.

"What I'm trying to say is... I should have told you a lot earlier that I like you. A lot." His smile was wide, as he took an instinctively step closer. "I... I don't know what that means, though. Like... I didn't expect to ever get this far. So I don't know what's next."

Haven's brows rose as she listened to him. Concern flitted across her features for a moment as he voiced his worries. She continued to smile despite it. He felt the same. It sent a whole new rush of excitement through her. She could see the same rush spread over his body language as he finally looked back at her. Which only made her smile grow into a beaming grin as he finally admitted his feelings out loud.

A wave of relief passed through her, her wings flaring momentarily before resting behind her. Her feathers slowly began to smooth out. He stepped closer to her, and she could feel her heartbeat become a fluttering thump in her chest.

"I don't have a clue about all of that either, but... we can figure it out together." She began, gazing into those sky blue eyes as she stepped even closer to him. She wanted to keep this moment forever. "I think this is the right move now, though."

Haven lifted herself onto the tips of her toes, her eyes fluttering momentarily between his eyes and his lips. They closed as her face was not even an inch away, and she pressed her lips against his. A gentle, curious kiss. It sent a warmth coursing through her that she hadn't felt before. She kept her hands at her sides to allow Rory to decide how this would continue.

Rory didn't need to be asked twice. He had moved in to meet Haven part way, his lips meeting hers. Of course, he moved his right hand to cup the back of her head, with his right moving to Haven's waist as if he was afraid of her flying away. He broke the kiss after a moment, eyes fluttering open as he seemed a bit stunned. "Wow..." He chuckled a little, still lost for words for but a moment, before finally shaking his head. "We should have done this sooner." With a goofy smile, he leaned in again and closed his eyes, going for a second, deeper kiss than the first. Rory's left hand moved to Haven's lower back to hold her close, his heart practically beating out of his chest. This wasn't his first kiss, not by a long shot.

But a kiss had never felt like home before.

Haven melted the moment he cupped the back of her head. Her hands moved, reaching up to hold him by his torso. The muscles under his skin felt even better than they looked. But the kiss... and his hand on her waist. It was perfect. He broke the kiss first. Haven could have gone on for another few minutes with her lung capacity, but she was on Rory's terms with that. Still, she was left breathless. She took a moment to regain the oxygen in her lungs as she looked up at him with a gaze similar to his own.

His words and that smile on his face had her returning the goofy grin until their lips met again. She was already leaning into him as he pulled her close, her body flush against his. She could hear their hearts beating at almost equal rates, racing towards an inevitable crescendo. The future didn't matter at this moment. Nothing outside of this tent mattered. The only thing on her mind was Rory.

"We should do this all of the time." Haven breathed as Rory once again paused for air. Her right hand slid under his arm, onto his toned chest, and up the side of his head into his short hair. "I mean it." She chuckled softly at the thought as her eyes met his.

"That's a smart idea, Haven. You don't have to tell me twice." Rory resisted the urge to go in for another kiss, instead pausing to take in the moment. He relished the feeling of her touch on his skin, and her hand in his hair. He wasn't sure he had ever seen her smile quite like that... hell, he couldn't recall seeing anyone smiling like she was right now. He pulled Haven's head into his chest as he went in for a tight hug, head lowering to plant a soft kiss on the top of her head as he squeezed her in his arms.

Wait... she knew what I meant, but she didn't...

Rory's grip loosened as he leaned away from the hug for a moment, head tilted down to get Haven to look him in the eye. "Hey... what did you mean when you said you had a reason for not correcting me earlier?"

Haven beamed up at him as he agreed with her. She could tell he was thinking of kissing her again. She wanted to kiss him until the sun came up. Or she could stand there, enjoying his warmth against her as they smiled at each other. He pulled her head against his chest and Haven allowed it. Her forehead pressed into his bare skin and she breathed in the smell of him. Heavens, he smells good. Her right hand slipped down his chest again and she wrapped her arms around to hold him just as close. She felt his lips against the top of her head and she swore that this was the moment she wanted to stay in forever.

She felt safe with him. Truly. A safety she hadn't felt in a long time. It made her heart fill to near bursting. Her wings tucked into her back, the feathers gently grazing his arms as he held her.

He pulled away. Haven tilted her head back to look up at him, hoping for another kiss until his question sent a spark down her spine and heated her body. She laughed softly, her eyes crinkling at the edges before her smile turned extremely flirty. "You asked if I wanted I wanted to sleep together... tonight," her thumb began to gently brush against the skin on his back, "and I said yes."

Haven's response sent a jolt down Rory's back, certainly helped by her delicate touch. This... well, it wasn't entirely unexpected. But the sudden shock on his face revealed all too easily this was not what he anticipated. He held his breath, biting his lip as he lifted his gaze to stare at the closed tent flap. He had had a dream like this once or twice... and for a moment, he felt panic course through him. This, too could be a dream... no, no, he was usually much more smooth in his dreams. Or stayed naked in them. And Haven didn't usually feel this real...

Focus, man.

He knew Haven well enough at this point to realize she liked it when he was flustered. And at this rate, he was losing. Rory hated losing.

Rory's expression shifted as he took a deep breath, his wide and goofy smile returning as he recovered. He moved his right hand up to caress her cheek. He held her gaze for a moment, his brain trying to process what she would say in a moment like this. "Oh, really?" He accepted her challenge. "Disappointed I threw shorts on, then?" He mimicked Haven's cadence with his words, a thin line of levity underlying his flirtatious query.

Haven wanted to be the one biting his lip. Her head tilted further into his hand, his gentle touch against her cheek becoming a new craving. She looked between his eyes. His questions were unexpected, but deliciously hot. She felt the heat in her neck rising, up until she felt it on her face. Oh, my god. Am I blushing? He was returning her usual banter with some of his own, and it was working. His touch against her cheek was electric. His body against hers igniting every nerve. She was blushing for the first time in her life.

"Just a little," Haven teased back, although her words didn't carry as much heaviness to them as before. He'd gotten to her. He'd broken past that wall of hers and shined the spotlight on her. And it was working. Working better than seeing him flustered over her did.

Rory beamed with pride, recognizing his crush's blushing smile. Confidence was a powerful drug at times like these... and her melting expression had given him plenty. In the meantime, it was time for a full court press. He had a competitive glint in his eye as he spoke softly, matching her teasing tone. "You can look all you like, Barnes." He leaned in, as if for another kiss. But as his lips neared hers, his hand slid under his chin to lift it up further, delivering a peck just under her jaw on her neck.As he pulled back, he lifted his head next to hers to rest his cheek against hers. He whispered softly, a hint of awkwardness seeping back into his voice. He was nearing his limit of flirtatious banter.

"You know, um... you're not the only one who wants to... well..." He was losing focus, his own rising temperature leaving him flustered and speechless. He wasn't used to this much talking... and words weren't doing him any favors. He crinkled his nose, desperately trying to come up with some clever way of saying it... but none came to mind. "I wouldn't be opposed to seeing you like that, either."

Haven loosed a breath as he placed a kiss in that soft spot of hers. This was an unexpected side to Rory. Yet as his own voice began to waver, and she finally felt the flushing of his skin against hers, she knew that they were on equal terms now.

She withdrew her hands from around him, leaning back just enough to run them up the planes of his abs before she took his face into her hands. "You can see me however you'd like, Rory." She smiled up at him before tugging him into a slow and intentional kiss. Her hands looped around his neck, one of them running her fingers through his hair. "That spot on my neck?" She murmured softly between kisses. "That's a sweet spot. With you... I think every spot is going to be sweet."

Rory's smile didn't fade as Haven went in for another kiss, the corners of his lips upturned as they met hers. He dropped his hands to her lower back to give her room to loop her arms around his neck. He chuckled softly at her words, his laugh interrupted as their lips met again. In the pauses between, Rory muttered back. "I'd be happy... to test that." He lowered his hands slightly, bending slightly with his knees until his hands reached the tops of her thighs. With a sudden move, he picked Haven up without breaking the kiss. He spun around while carrying her, turning to face the sleeping bag he had set up. Slowly, and without breaking the lock on their lips, he dropped down to one knee before dropping his other, lowering Haven onto her back while kneeling. He broke the kiss for a moment, catching his breath and studying her face for a reaction with a proud grin.

Haven's soft whimper was muffled by their kiss as he lifted her up and artfully laid her onto her back. She looked up at him, her eyes hazy as a soft smile played on her lips. Her wings had splayed open beside her as he laid her down, along with her legs. Her shorts had been pushed up her thighs, and her shirt bunched around her waist to reveal a sliver of her skin to him. In this position, with Rory so close, Haven could barely form a thought. The proud grin on his face elicited a breathless laugh from her chest. "Smooth move." Her voice was breathy and low, almost like it had been when she gave him a hint earlier that day.

She placed her left hand on his shoulder, the other tracing his jawline and down to his collarbones. She hooked her left leg around him, pulling him against her and into a deep and needy kiss. "I want you, Rory. All of you."

Rory's head swam with pleasure as Haven pulled him in close for another kiss. He couldn't help but elicit a soft grunt of pleasant surprise. He could feel himself losing all sense of thought, reason, or anxiety. Every fiber of thought was being engulfed by Haven. He held himself steady with his left elbow, fighting against Haven's pull just enough to swing his left leg over her right leg. Now slightly angled, he let his weight join hers as he maintained the kiss. His right hand moved to Haven's left thigh, running up over her shorts and under the edge of her shirt. His hand paused, as Rory's remaining reasoning skills fought. But, even those cells were consumed with a single desire: do as the lady asks.

"As you wish."

Rory's fingers grazed the edge of her shorts, as he broke the kiss to look her in the eyes. His smile was softer, his eyes studying her closely with a clarity he often lacked.

Haven had already begun to allow instinct to take over her the moment she heard a grunt escape his chest. Then all sense of being was lost the moment Rory's hand came close to another sweet spot. All she could do to stay grounded was grip his muscled shoulders and coast. She began to peel away her clothes with a sense of urgency, until his hands took over for her. Her own made quick work of his bottoms. Soon they were entangled; a shared moment of breathless whispers, small laughs as they adjusted to each other, and roaming hands. They soon found release together.

"That was..." Haven murmured, beaming up at Rory where she laid against his chest. Her right hand traced small circles on his skin. Her wings were draped over the both of them, a soft blanket of feathers. "Wow."

Rory's breath was labored as he laid on his back, a wild and dopey smile plastered on his face. The endorphins were finally fading, and he began to realize again just how much his body ached from a hard day's work. He really regretted not just borrowing Lorcán's powers earlier. But the thought of anyone but Haven in his mind in that moment was fleeting, as his eyes locked with hers. His hands were reasted behind his head as he laid there, his voice hazy with bliss. "Yeah..." He paused, staring sweetly into Haven's eyes for a moment as his brows furrowed, desperately trying to catch a thought before it was gone. His eyes widened as he finally found the words. "Yeah... you know... I might start leaving my window open. In case... you know..." If Rory's cheeks weren't already red from exhaustion, they'd reveal his slight awkwardness.

Of course, his expression darkened for a moment, the smile fading slightly as he looked past Haven towards the ceiling. He closed his eyes for a moment, shaking his head slightly as if trying to ward off the thought. As his eyes opened, and Haven was still there, he lifted a hand from behind his head to grab hold of Haven's as she traced along his chest. His grip was soft as he moved her hand towards his face, fingers delicately prying her fingers back to reveal her palm. He lowered it to his lips, and delivered a soft and gentle kiss on that very palm.

Haven felt heat return to her cheeks. "Oh, yeah?" Her tone was soft, genuine happiness hinted underneath the question. She wondered if he thought this was just a dream with the way he shook his head. Then he took her hand and she allowed him to pull it towards his mouth. The kiss he placed on her palm that sent shivers down her spine. She ran her thumb over his lips, then cupped his cheek. "I'll give you the code to mine, then." She murmured, her smile turning soft. "You can come whenever you'd like to."

Rory's smile remained soft and weak as she spoke. He closed his eyes, leaning his cheek farther into her hand as he felt his mind wander. No matter how much he tried to stay grounded and present, he felt a familiar feeling creep into his chest. This, too, would pass. All of this. She seemed happy, for now. So was he. And that should be enough.

But Rory's smile faded as he laid bare, still partially entwined with the only woman who made him feel things he didn't even know how to place or describe with words. His eyes remained closed, not quite nodding off to sleep as the anxiety crept up and nestled in his chest. His voice was quiet as he responded, the warm haze giving way to his usual awkward discomfort. "Right... yeah. That would be nice."

Haven moved herself up onto her elbow so she could get a better look at him. Her thumb caressed his cheek. For a moment, her own anxieties tried to bubble up in her chest. His tone was different. As if he wasn't comfortable with her own response. Was this all he wanted from her? For her to come in through the window, have a nice evening, and be done?

Haven shoved the thought deep down inside of her, her heart telling her that her mind was wrong. He was here with her now, and he wanted her. Maybe he was scared she'd leave him, since he'd never had someone this close to his own heart before. Or maybe he was just tired, unable to fight the everyday stress that he seemed to carry on his shoulders.

"Hey, do you want a massage? You must be sore after all of the work today, and our own work in here." The last sentence had a hint of pride to it. She planted a gentle kiss on his forehead. "Turn over. I'll rub your back until you fall asleep."

He didn't deserve her.

Rory silently nodded at her suggestion, shifting under Haven carefully to rotate himself onto his stomach, resting his cheek on his forearm. "Thanks, Feathers." He tried his best to relax, and let his body decompress. But it was clear just how tense his muscles remained, just in his body language and in feeling his back and shoulders. He was quiet for a moment, before his brows furrowed again. His voice was even more quiet, almost a whisper to himself. "I don't... I don't want to be a fling, Wings." His voice quivered slightly, the weight of the day's events finally bearing down on him in full and tightening his throat.

Haven tucked her wings in as she moved to straddle Rory's waist. Feathers. The nickname had her smiling instead of scowling like she would with others. She began to run her hands along the muscles of his back. It began gentle, until she worked the muscles harder when she felt them tensing up beneath her. She heard his soft words as if they were in her ear. A wave of relief passed through her, her wings relaxing behind her to graze the sides of him with their feathery tips. She released a breath she'd been holding, and leaned down to give him a kiss on the back of his neck.

"Is that why you're so tense?" She asked as she sat back up and continued the massage. The quiver in his voice had her heart constricting. He had such a rough day, with the ceremony, with his fight, and now this. She wanted to reassure him as much as she wanted to reassure herself that this was more than just a hookup. "I would never play with your emotions like that, Rory. I want to be yours... and I want you to be mine. All mine." Her hands ran up his back, over his shoulders, and down his arms. She gave his biceps a quick squeeze before making their way back the way they came. "I like you a lot, Rory. Enough to face my own fears of committing to one place or person." She bit her lip for a moment. "You're someone I want to keep around, for a long time."

Rory let out a small, relieved moan as Haven massaged his back. He... well, he never really had gotten one before, besides the half-jokimg ones him and Lorcán exchanged after a long game in the locker room. But certainly nothing this intimate. But it was more than that. Her words struck deep, fueling more than ego. It was hard to believe, and even harder to process. His siblings never really liked spending time with him, even when they were younger. His parents were always too busy with work. He never really clicked with teammates... especially when the secret got out he was a Hype. PRCU felt more like home than home ever felt... but this was more than that.

She wanted him.

Desired wasn't something he was comfortable feeling yet, but it was something he could learn to appreciate. Of course, Haven's words and their meaning felt clear, even in his clouded mind. Exclusivity. Commitment. This wasn't just either of their usual flings... she wanted to be an item. He couldn't help but smile at the thought.

He turned his head slightly to look behind him as much as possible, only able to catch a glimpse of Haven's splayed wings. "I... yeah... you can have me as long as you want me." His voice was hazy again, exhaustion and passion and relief washing over his senses. Rory's eyes closed as he focuses on the sensation of the massage. "I don't know how... we'll tell the team."

Haven tried to ignore the way that the sound of his relief reverberated underneath her. She could hear how tired he was in his voice. He needed rest now, so she'd have to wait until morning to act on her feelings again. She made careful and gentle moves along his back, feeling the muscles underneath begin to relax. She could hear his heart slowing and his lungs taking deeper, sleepier breaths beneath her hands. She smiled warmly down at him. "They'll figure it out sooner or later." She began, her voice just above a whisper. He was falling asleep, and she didn't want to keep him awake. There was one thing she wanted to ask him before he drifted off, though.

She leaned down, placing another gentle kiss on the side of his neck. "Will you be my date for the dance, Rory?"

Rory's eyes remained closed, a soft chirp of pleasure escaping his lips at the kiss. He was exhausted, borderline delirious as he remained at the cusp of passing out. What remaining brain cells he had left were not functional. "I'd love to, babe... but I already asked Mei in my underwear earlier..." With no energy left, Rory succumbed to the exhaustion. A dumb, goofy, tired smile remained on his lips as he slumbered.

Haven, however, remained staring down at him. Her hands slowed to a stop along his back. Rory really didn't know how to talk to a woman. She took a deep breath, reminding herself that she'd been aware of Mei's feelings for him before entering this tent. She knew that Mei had asked him to the dance first.

A quiet laugh left her lips before she shook her head. She moved off of Rory, careful not to wake him. Her footsteps were near-silent as she found her shorts and shirt. She slipped them both on, and then carefully made her way out of the tent.

In the fresh air, with the dark, starry sky above her, Haven released a heavy sigh. She sat down in front of the tent's entrance and hugged her knees to her chest. Her gaze never left the stars.

He doesn't want it to be a fling... He wants me. Haven thought to herself, finding reasons to quiet any troubled thoughts in her head. I'm glad they cleared it up, anyways. It's just a dance. Mei will understand, right? The cliffs howled nearby, and the breeze rustled the leaves in the trees. It was peaceful out here. A natural sound that Haven had grown fond of since she'd first spent a night in a forest.

It was nothing like that stormy night four years ago. She had to keep reminding herself that. Alyssa's words may have shaken her trust in the island's safety, but she didn't want to leave it. Not with Rory's slow, dozing breaths behind her.

She listened to him breathe for a while, her eyes on the stars above or on the dimming fires of the campsite around them. Soon enough, her mind quieted and exhaustion found her. She returned to the tent and laid out her sleeping bag next to her partner. The safety she felt with him, despite the memories of her first night in a tent like this, was enough that she knew she'd get a good nights sleep beside him. As she got comfortable next to him, she reached over to take his hand into hers. A reminder for them in the morning that things had changed between them, and they likely wouldn't be the same again.

Location: Southern Plateau - PRCU
Welcome Home #1.097: Fiery Birds

Interaction(s): Harper @Qia, Firebird NPC's @Lord Wraith
Previously: Sky Betty

"Is everything alright with Ror?" Haven asked as Harper returned to their spot. She watched as Lorcán took Harper's seat, a small frown on her face. She was more disappointed that he forgot to help her out, but there was also concern for how Aurora might take his explanation about earlier. "I'm glad he's checking on her too, but he was supposed to give us an easy reason to sit with Alyssa."

Harper exhaled a weary sigh, a subtle shake of her head betraying her concern. She looked back, a slight frown crossing her features as Lorcán took the seat she'd occupied mere moments ago.“Yeah, she’s caught up in her thoughts at the moment. Aurora tends to dwell on things sometimes, you know?” she responded, her voice striving for nonchalance. “But Lorcán’s timing could not be worse, I think.”

"Should we... bail her out?" Haven asked quietly, before looking up at Harper before she answered. "Or do you think they need to talk things out together?"

Harper hesitated, weighing her options, her disciplined nature pushing her to carefully consider the best course of action. “I think they need to talk it out,” she finally said, her voice thoughtful. “Aurora's been on edge all evening probably, and Lorcán has some explaining to do. Let them sort it out themselves.”

Haven nodded the moment she realized Harper had made her decision. "I hope it goes well, then." She sighed softly before standing up from her seat. "Let's have a smore with the Firebirds, then. I've met Cass before at a party. Should be enough to ask to sit at their fire." She gave Harper a confident smile, turning to dump her plate in the nearest trashcan before gesturing Harper to follow.

Harper cast a forlorn look at the plate she had previously set aside. “Such a waste,” she lamented quietly, lifting the plate and sinking her teeth into the taco. “M’kay, let’s head over, meet some new folks, 'n enjoy a marshmallow or two… or more,” she spoke, her speech slightly garbled by the generous mouthful.

"I'll give you the first smore." Haven chuckled as she turned to approach the group of Firebirds by the fire.

"Mind if we sit with you all?" She said as she smiled at the group. "We were looking to join Lorcán, but he's a bit occupied now."

She gave a wave towards Cass where he sat. "Sup, Cass. Have a nice summer?"

Cassander raised an eyebrow while looking towards Haven and Harper with a shared curiosity. He was sure he had spoken to the winged girl before in passing, but she could have been one of any winged girls on campus. It was honestly surprising they didn't have a team of 'Angels' running around P.R.C.U. But Cass wasn't oblivious to Haven's clear fishing attempt as she attempted small talk while approaching him, the girl was fairly transparent to the boy and his own experiences. It wasn't uncommon in the foster system for children to pry one another similarly.

"If you're looking to join Lorcán I suggest you either employ patience or get used to being second fiddle to Aurora." Cass looked the pair of brunettes up and down before offering a half sneer. "That said, I don't think either of you are his type."

Beside Cassander, Robert James Scott, or RJ as he preferred turned to listen in on the conversation. He kept one hand on the redhead beside him while turning his body towards Cass trying to figure out why his friend was being so passive-aggressive to the girls.

"Everything okay here, bud?"

"Dandy," Cass replied not breaking eye contact with Haven. "They want something and they're dancing around it."

"Just give them the bag of marshmallows, we have plenty." RJ replied with a laugh tossing it towards Harper.

Harper caught the bag with a quick, practiced motion, balancing her plate with the half-eaten taco in her other hand. “Thanks,” she said, her voice neutral but her eyes narrowed slightly. “And for the record, we're not here to steal Lorcán. We're just here to hang out and maybe roast some marshmallows. No ulterior motives.” Her voice was calm, but there was an edge to it, making it clear she wasn't pleased with Cass's insinuation despite her lie.

Haven's expression soured subtly as Cass began sneering their way. She didn't break eye contact with the hothead blonde, continuing their staring contest as he called them out on their bullshit. She was deciding what to say in return until Harper beat her with reassuring words. It would probably appease the others, but something told her the ill-tempered Firebird in front of her would just get worse if things continued this way.

"No... He's right." She began, still staring into those stormy blue eyes. "Not about Lorcán, of course. That was a wild assumption." Her eyebrow rose to emphasize her point. "Us foster kids know a ruse when we see one. I have to give you credit for that." She offered the blonde a sympathetic smile before she shrugged. "I just thought I'd be polite and get to know you all a bit before jumping to the point."

She finally broke eye contact with the blonde, glancing towards RJ and Alyssa before she turned her attention to Harper. Her gaze was reassuring, and she offered a small nod her friend's way before turning back to Cass. "Lorcán is wondering the same thing we are, too."

Harper’s reaction was subtle, a barely perceptible eye roll at Haven’s forthright strategy. She had envisioned a more discreet method to fulfill their underlying purpose, yet at least there was an undeniable effectiveness to Haven’s straightforwardness.

Turning her attention to the matter at hand, she added, “We’re genuinely interested in the different stories that students from various institutions bring, particularly those with distinctive histories.”

Raising an eyebrow at Harper's phrasing, Cassander returned a significantly less subtle eye roll before taking a bite of the food in his hand.

"Various institutions? We both know there are only two Hyperhuman schools in the world and you're attending one. So unless we can't say Foundation," Cass paused before cupping a hand to his mouth.

"Hey everybody, these two want to know about the Foundation!" He yelled, causing a couple of students to pause before shaking their heads and turning back to their previous conversations.

"See." Cass continued, "No one cares, heck according to Jim they're even the heroes right now giving us all our degrees back. Not sure why you're so eager to kick a gift horse in the mouth, but you're obviously not here to talk to me. Let me guess, Lorcán said he'd soften me up to get you to RJ who'd get you to Alyssa?" Cass sneered again.

"Yeah that was totally the plan. Don't you have a more recent Foundation transfer on Blackjack? Or is Elvira too terrifying for you two Nancy Drews?"

Harper’s smirk was a mixture of amusement and mild irritation. Who the hell hurt this guy?

“Wow, it’s almost like I wasn’t trying to be subtle anymore, Cass. I had no idea you were so invested in our social calendar,” she retorted, her tone light but her annoyance clear. “But I do appreciate the recognition. Really.” She tossed her paper plate into a nearby bin with a flourish, her irritation burning away any remaining appetite.

“And yes, that would be the obvious route. But we’re looking for insights from someone with a broader perspective. Someone who doesn’t need to make a scene to get their point across, for one.” Her gaze briefly flitted to RJ before refocusing on Cassander, her demeanour turning steely. “And for the record, we don’t need Lorcán or anyone else to ‘soften’ you—or anyone. We’re quite capable on our own. But your concern is… touching.”

“Looks like Cass is more into spectacle than substance. Let's tune out the noise and focus on what matters,”Harper said to Haven then, her tone implying that Cass's antics were beneath their notice. With a pointed glance at Alyssa first, she shifted her attention to RJ,adding, “Like getting insights from someone who actually has something valuable to say, right RJ?”

"Yeesh." Haven had murmured the moment Cass finished his act. If Haven wasn't growing irritated with the blonde Firebird, she would have considered Harper's words a bit too harsh. Oh well. Can't say I didn't try to be friendly.

She stepped to the side of Cass, moving directly into RJ's point of view. The smile she offered was apologetic, in case Harper may have offended the friend by dissing the blonde hothead. "Listen, we aren't here to upset anybody or to force anyone to answer our questions." She began. "What happened at the ceremonies had me wanting to jump ship. The way the rep spoke, it was like she was about to tell us to call her the Chancellor instead."

"I'd feel a lot better about it if I knew more about the Foundation and what their influence could do to our home." She was thankful that Alyssa was caught up in a different conversation as she continued. "If you think it will upset her to talk about it... I'll understand. It doesn't seem like Amma is open to sharing, so... I just want to know if Alyssa might be instead."

"Whoa," RJ responded waving his hands in front of both Cass and Harper. "Look if you two want to have a pissing contest then by all means save it for the Trials tomorrow."

Cass stood to his feet, a slight flow coming from the palms of his hands as kinetic energy danced along his fingers.

"When I make a scene, you'll know it." Cass hissed snapping his hand closed suddenly, detonating a small flashbang between the four students.

"Clearly things have gotten a little heated here," RJ intervened again, putting a hand on his friend and moving Cass back with the ease that one moved a blade of grass. The super strong young man had a lean physique that betrayed his true strength.

"I'm going to be seeing spots for an hour thanks to that stunt," He chided Cass, "Normally I'd introduce the pair of you to Alyssa but at this point I don't think it's a good idea. Though," RJ paused thoughtfully while taking another look at Haven. "I bet she'd talk to you by yourself," He chuckled slightly as Cass raised a knowing eyebrow.

"Oh yeah, she'd chat the bird's ear off."

"Then it's settled," RJ replied, "Haven, I'll introduce you to Alyssa and Luce, Harper sit right, hang out with Cass." He added eliciting a groan from the other male. Sitting back down, Cass put his feet up and tossed a marshmallow in his mouth while RJ motioned for Haven to follow him.

Haven hadn't physically reacted to the flashbang besides a small flinch and the closing of her eyes. She sent Harper a look of concern, knowing full well that it affected her friend's sensitive eyes as well. As she began to follow RJ, though, she made sure to give Cass a quick bird behind her back.

Walking away from the commotion, RJ led Haven toward Alyssa, tapping his girlfriend on the shoulder to quietly pause any conversation she had going with Luce.

She was glad that RJ agreed to introduce her. It was worth it after dealing with Cass's attitude. Yet as the pair approached Alyssa, her ears continued to ring and she saw a white film over the faces in front of her. She tried her best to ignore it as the friendly Redhead started speaking.

"Hey, Red, Haven here wanted to ask you some questions about the Foundation, she's just trying to get a feel for the changes coming our way." RJ explained gently as the redheaded girl turned towards Haven studying the winged woman with her keen green eyes.

"Haven Barnes, Hyperhuman, not Hellion." Alyssa muttered, standing as she brushed herself off. Her skin visibly crawling as small streams of quicksilver raced along her viens before she smiled and relaxed. "Face of an angel, body of a Harpy, heart of a friend?" She rambled, ending with a question as she tilted her head slightly to look at Haven.

"I had a roommate like you at the Foundation. She vanished one day and I came back to an empty dorm. I was told she went home but I never heard from her again, the Foundation was lonely after that. Cold, empty and very white. Not like P.R.C.U., it's loud, full of life and colour."

Banjo had been right. Alyssa did call everyone by their full names. The Aussie's joke was enough to ease Haven's temper. She regained her focus, smiling at the girl who's hair looked more pink than red at the moment. She blinked her eyes, trying to recover from the effects of Cass's outburst.

Alyssa's next words formed a pit in her stomach. Someone else like her vanished there? For what reason? It had her wanting to know more about it, but she had to stay focused. Without Harper here to guide the conversation, Haven was at a loss about what specific questions to ask.

"That's... awful. I'm glad you were able to come here." She began, reaching out to gently squeeze Alyssa's arm. "Do a lot of people vanish there? Or do you think they just run away?" It would make sense, given Haven had considered running just this morning.

"The Foundation didn't consider the ones who vanished to be missing," Alyssa responded, her emerald eyes looking through Haven, studying the girl's wings. "The pattern is different than a harpy's, colour is distinct from an erinyes'. Angels aren't as friendly as you, more fiery."

She paused, her eyes moving back to Haven's face.

"The Foundation would call you a sub-class, we didn't have many subclasses on campus. Not like here, with Haven Barnes and Robert Arkwright. I wonder if that'll change now?" Alyssa mused.

"I wonder if they did run away, but then where does one run on the ocean? The surface isn't conducive to running."

Haven didn't know what a harpy or a erinyes was, but she couldn't help but feel as if Alyssa was looking right into her soul as the girl stared at her. Her eyes were slowly readjusting, and the ringing in her ears had calmed down. She tilted her head slightly as she listened to Alyssa go on. Then she knew what to ask the girl next. Asking about the missing wouldn't do any good if the school lied to the students.

"How were the faculty there?" Haven asked gently. "Were they kind to you?"

"By what measure does one measure kindness?" Alyssa replied, "A kindness to one is a cruelty to another. The Foundation Faculty are firm, and professional. They work together like cogs in a machine. But they are not friends." She paused, studying Haven as the winged woman hung into every word.

"You are very invested into the words of a very weird girl. I am not naive to the way students look and talk about me. Why talk to me and not Tiamat?" Alyssa asked, now studying Haven very intently, "No one was at the Foundation longer than Tiamat."

Haven shrugged. "Personally, I don't think you're weird at all." She began, before Alyssa's last sentence caught her attention. "Is Tiamat Amma? Why do you call her that?"

"That is her true name," Alyssa replied, "She's a force of destruction. The Foundation's dragon. Or was before she became the damsel in the castle at least. I fear P.R.C.U. has caged a beast they can't contain."

"I thought Amma hated them?" Haven asked honestly. "And... Why did they rename her?"

"It's not a renaming, it's her true identity," Alyssa answered, "She is Tiamat, there is no Amma, Amma is just a name given to her by a deceased mother. Tiamat is who she is."

Haven frowned lightly, thinking of how Lorcán had run off with Amma, Tiamat, whoever the hell she was earlier. "How did Tiamat act at the Foundation? Did they treat her well?" She leaned in a little closer to Alyssa. "Can we trust her?"

"Tiamat was a Queen. So not surprising she found a Prince to play with in the woods." The redhead's eyes wandered towards the forest of the same colour. "Can you trust anyone?" She asked, still staring towards the forest. "Even those you've known all your life, everyone is hiding something."

Those intense emerald eyes rolled back around to Haven.

"What are you hiding?"

Haven blinked, the question aimed at her catching her off guard. "I have a bag packed in case I want to run away." Haven answered honestly. "But I don't want to, even if things get bad here."

"What defines things being bad here?" Alyssa asked, "What are you so afraid of, Haven Barnes? You're clearly a fighter, but you have a vision in your head, I suspect you're looking for a reason to run, a reason to pick up that bag and disappear into the horizon. Perhaps there is too much change ahead that you're not ready for."

Haven looked between Alyssa's intense eyes. They were the color of a lush forest in spring. She had to admit that the girl was right. In some ways, Haven still missed being a free spirit among the forest. Yet there was so much good here. Friends, a place to call home... someone that she loved. "I guess I'm looking for a reason to stay."

"If they try to bring their customs here, will you allow it?" She asked. "Is there any danger with Tiamat and the Foundation's presence here?"

"You realize that like you, I am a student, Haven Barnes." Alyssa replied with a confused look on her face, "I allowed for nothing that happened at the Foundation and I allow for nothing that happens here. That is not my burden, station nor authority. Danger found this school before the Foundation came, and danger will likely find the school again even if they make this their new home. Being a Hyperhuman means facing danger, there is little we can do in this broken world to avoid that." The redhead looked around, locking eyes with Harper and Cass whose gaze had come their way. Dropping her voice to a low hiss, she leaned forward.

"No where is safe for us. We have more enemies than even our friends in faculty have taught us about."

Haven gave Alyssa a nod, if only to let the girl know that she'd heard and understood her. A phrase like that may have spooked her if she'd heard it on her first trip to the plateau. Yet she knew that Hyperion had left a scar on this school and the people that called this island home. Of course there was worry in everyone's hearts that another person like him would reappear one day to finish his work.

"Thanks, Alyssa. I feel better now that we've chatted." A white lie, but it had been informative. Harper would certainly know what to do with it. Better than Haven would, at least. "I'll see you around." Haven gave the girl a smile and nodded a thanks to RJ as well before she turned away.

She moved towards Harper, who seemed to miraculously be getting along with Cass. And were they... flirting? How'd they get on the topic of vampires? "Has the hothead cooled off now?" Haven said as she approached with a pointed glance towards Cassander.

In Ju-V 24 days ago Forum: Advanced Roleplay

Haven's stomach ached the whole way to the front of the line. She tried to hide how hungry she felt in her nonchalant answers to the workers behind the counter. Her gaze never left the food, though. A small sign that she couldn't wait for a full stomach of "beef" pastry.

The tray was taken from the server with gentle strength as Haven snagged a spoon with her other hand. She was sure that they had plenty to spare, in case it slipped onto the ground, but Haven didn't want to delay her meal any longer than necessary. So, hands firm on each end of the tray, Haven turned and made a casual beeline for the first person she saw that she didn't feel like avoiding.

Haven set her tray onto the table two spaces down from Sophia. She eased into the seat, grateful again that they were backless, and allowed her wings to fold behind her. The tips of them barely grazed the floor. She had already scooped up her spoon before she spoke.

"How's it taste?" She asked. Her eyes flitted to the other tables briefly. They snagged on the form of a mothman at the table The Kid was hosting at, her eyes roaming the tiny powder-like scales that covered his wings. Then on the small form of a girl with translucent wings similar to the honeybees Haven used to steal from.

Woah... Wes is gonna have a field day.

Haven quickly turned her focus back onto her meal. The spoon dug into the center of the pie. She wasted no time in taking the first bite. The taste was bland, but the notes of salt and meat hit her tastebuds and that's all she needed for her guarded posture to subtly melt.

"Not bad," she murmured around her chewing.

The Kid's monologue caught her attention. She listened to the words as she took her time on the beef pie. It seemed like they'd caught too many fish in their trap, and now they were trying to figure out what to do with them. If The Kid was right about them being split into groups, it was obvious which group she'd be sent to. Her "powersets" were simple and needed no further discovery. She'd be sent on a ride along, to be told what to do with herself when she's released into the public after her "rehabilitation".

With a local hero affiliate, though? She wondered if Wes was already hoping that he'd be put in that group. He would certainly be an asset to the facility. A promising future- legal - hero. Haven, however, wondered if the world would ever accept a metahuman as their saviour.

Lost in her thoughts, Haven glanced up at the table across from them. The guy with the white chunk of hair sat across from them, minding his own business. He was still a mystery. One that Haven wasn't sure she wanted to uncover. She turned her head to check in with Sophia, and her eyes caught sight of him.

Frederick Jackson set free among the group, walking spoonless with his own tray of beef pie. Haven's wings instinctively tucked closer to her back. She didn't turn her gaze away, nor did she glare or balk at him. She watched him carefully, as if she was unsure how to feel about him.

She didn't know if she should avoid him entirely or if she wanted to hand him her own spoon as an offering. Did they really expect him to eat with his hands? He looked hungry, just as hungry as she was, but he still deserved the simple respect of a utensil to eat with.

Haven's eyes returned to her tray. She put another bite full of pie in her mouth and chewed. She could chat with Sophia for a bit while she thought about it. Even though she'd hardly looked at her table mate since she sat down.

Location: Southern Plateau - PRCU
Welcome Home #1.089: Sky Betty

Interaction(s): Aurora @Melissa, Harper @Qia, Lorcán @Lord Wraith
Previously: Flock Together

Haven stretched her arms high above her head as she reached the edge of the campsites. "That was a piece of cake." She said to Aurora at her side. "I'm ready to stuff my face and relax by the fire for a bit, now."

"Shut up, Tad." Haven added to the collective with a chuckle before she turned to Aurora.

"Hey, I gotta find Harper. I'll catch you later for a smore." Haven said with a salute as she began moving again.

She snagged a bottle of Hyper-Aid as she made her way to the food tables. A smile came to her face as she noticed that the person she'd just been looking for stood at the end of the line. She slipped through the crowd of Firebirds gathered, tucking her wings in so they didn't bump any shoulders. She certainly noticed a different flash of autumn red hair among them. A few of the rest she recognized from parties, and she offered polite hey's and hi's as she made her way through to the line.

"Hey, Harper." She said as she stopped next to her. "Have a good time today? I can't wait to see what you all came up with for the theme." She tucked the Hyper-Aid under her arm as she prepared to grab a plate. What little she could smell of the food already had her stomach growling. "This food is about to revive me."

“Hey!” Harper responded, her face lighting up with a warm smile as she turned. “You know, today was actually pretty…eventful. Calliope and Mei brought some brilliant concepts to the table for the theme. I really think we’ve made something that the new students this year will enjoy.” Harper’s eyes danced over the spread of food. “This does look pretty good.” she concurred, a playful growl from her stomach punctuating her words. She brushed a lock of hair behind her ear, a sheepish grin on her face. “I guess I’m hungrier than I thought.”

"It's been a long day." Haven returned with a smile. She stepped in a little closer, reaching for a plate after Harper had grabbed hers. "Soo, I talked to Banjo earlier. No fun with that until we know more about who we're dealing with. He's holding his cards for now." She glanced into Harper's eyes to gauge her reaction.

Harper’s eyebrow arched in astonishment, and she hesitated briefly before responding. “Seriously? Banjo’s putting a pin on things?” Her tone carried a subtle note of letdown, blending with her astonishment. Granted, caution was prudent in their situation, and she had said that they would have to play the long game.

But Banjo championing restraint? That’s not the twist she’d anticipated.

A gentle laugh escaped her as she shook her head, disbelief playing across her features. She grasped a serving utensil, her smile lingering. “Well, life’s full of surprises, isn’t it?”

"He's thinking more rationally than I am." Haven mused. She put a few tortillas on her plate. "He did give me an idea, though. We should talk to a transfer about their time at the Foundation. He said Alyssa from Firebird might talk to us, if we ask in the right way."

Harper paused, a flicker of realization crossing her face. “I guess there’s truth to the saying that even a broken clock is right twice a day,” she mused, her hand automatically reaching for a taco. “I’m on board with approaching Alyssa, but count me in for that conversation this time.”

Haven grinned as she also began fixing her plate. "Come sit with me. We can sit near her and hopefully share the same fire for a 'smore."

Harper’s nod was resolute and, while clutching her plate of food, she followed Haven’s lead to a cozy nook not far from their person of interest, who was lost in lively conversation with her companions. They nestled into their chosen spot, the warmth of the fire brushing against their cheeks. Harper leaned closer to Haven, her voice a hushed murmur, “How do we broach the subject with her? We can’t exactly just blurt out questions about her past, especially not about her previous school.”

Haven settled into her spot carefully, her wings tucking in behind her so that they wouldn't drag on the ground. "I have no idea. Hopefully something will come up that can be our way in." She took a bite of a taco, her expression determined and thoughtful as she chewed.

Harper’s gaze was fixed on Haven, detecting the quiet resolve that lay beneath her companion’s easygoing facade. As she indulged in a bite of her taco, the rich tapestry of tastes provided a momentary distraction from the task at hand.

With a contemplative silence hanging between them, Harper finally broke the stillness. “How about we start with something light? We could ask for her take on the year so far,” she suggested, her voice low and thoughtful. “If the conversation naturally steers towards her previous school, we’ll follow the lead.”

Haven agreed with a smile. "That's perfect! We'll join them once we're done eating, then." Haven took her Hyper-Aid and tapped it against Harper's water bottle ceremoniously before going back to her food.

Amongst the crowd, Haven heard a familiar bromance apologizing to each other. She glanced their way, a soft smile spreading as she spotted Rory standing with Lorcán. She tried to mind her business as she continued eating, but a few key words stood out to her.

“I had no right to make jokes about your abilities or your relationship with Haven.” Haven's brows quirked. What did he say?

"Though, maybe not tonight. I think the gals have us starting for different teams tonight." Haven paused mid bite, cleared her throat as she shifted her wings behind her, and took another bite. Does that mean he...? She let the thought settle into the back of her mind for later.

The approaching SUV she'd noticed among the buzz of the campsite came to a stop, none other than the man himself stepping out to join them. Yet with his welcome arrival came bittersweet news. Haven was glad to hear that their degrees were safe; if hers was ever in jeopardy to begin with, she still wasn't sure. The "other changes" didn't settle well in her stomach. She watched Rory for his reaction, wondering if the announcement would take the invisible weight off of his shoulders he'd been carrying since this morning.

Haven recognized Lorcán by his footsteps, quickly approaching her. He was the only one in the camp wearing flip flops, but even with dress shoes she could tell how he walked with purpose. She waited until he tapped her shoulder to look up at him. She set her last, half-eaten taco down on her plate as he spoke and then took a breath, glancing over Ror's way as she tried to think of what she could say.

"I heard what you said to Rory... and I can see why you went off like that. I considered ditching today, too." She pressed her lips together before looking up at him, glancing between his sunset colored eyes with her own earthy tones. He'd said something about Rory's relationship with her... but what did he say that could upset Rory? If it's important, Rory will talk to me about it, right?

"I told her to hear you out before making any assumptions." She tilted her head to the side, her gaze turning firm. "But I heard people talking about it behind her back, and it wasn't kind. I think you should give her an explanation before their gossip gets to her first."

She offered him a forgiving smile.

"I didn't really need the apology, but Rory did. So, I appreciate it." She wiped her hand off on a napkin before holding it out to him. "We're all good, dude."

"I'll totally be sure to talk to her this evening then, the last thing I want is to hurt the Lady Dude." Lorcán replied gratefully, slapping his hand against Haven's palm before hooking their thumbs to make a pair of wings. He half-smiled before looking out around the plateau at the numerous campsites.

"Shame these mainlanders don't leave gossip behind when they come to the island, there's no need for it here."

Haven smiled at their secret handshake. She popped a loose bite of tomato into her mouth while he looked around. "I feel like we're all too old for gossip, too." She said around her tomato. She swallowed, looking up at him with a smile.

"Did you hear O'Neil earlier? Our degrees are safe. I'm not sure what he had to agree to for it, but at least that's a weight off our shoulders."

"It's enough to keep us afloat," Lorcán replied pushing his bangs up under the backwards ballcap on his head. "Hopefully the sea doesn't send any more chunder our way, Sky Betty. Things are still likely going to be choppy for a bit. Can't say I've ever talked to a Foundation Student before you had anything swell to say 'bout that place."

"What have they said about it?" Haven asked as she picked up her taco again. She took a bite, her gaze travelling towards Alyssa. She'd never thought to ask someone about the Foundation before.

Lorcán let out a wry chuckle at Haven's question.

"It's what they don't say, brah. He replied, "They don't like to talk about their time there, both Bettys I've spoken to don't like to talk about the Foundation. Not exactly peachy memories, they tend to resent being asked. There's almost an element of fear to it. Not exactly sure what the Foundation does, but I'm definitely sure it isn't choka."

Haven frowned as she finished chewing. She set the taco down once more. She wasn't sure what choka meant- Lorcán's slang always sent her through a loop, but she assumed it wasn't a good word. "I get why they want to leave the past in the past, but... Wouldn't they want to warn us about their school's skeletons?"

"Maybe they can't, Lorcán added after a minute. "Remember Summer Carlyle was arrested for assisting Kowalski in maintaining his facade as Jonas by manipulating the memories of those closest to the imposter chancellor. " He looked at Amma and then Alyssa before turning back to Haven.

"Wouldn't be that farfetched that a rival school with a malicious agenda to put a mental block into those Bettys. Brah, they could like totally be sleeper agents or something."

"That would be crazy," Haven murmured, her eyes glancing at the transfers with a sudden empathy to them, "but we live in a world of crazy anyways."

"When you were off with Amma, did she speak about it at all?" The question was innocent, even though Haven had heard him mention that Amma had never used her abilities for herself earlier.

"Like I said, Sky Betty, it's what she didn't say," Lorcán answered with slight shrug.

"Even the Queen of Darkness didn't want to speak about her time there. All I know from talking with her is that for all their talk of individuality, their halls are more like hospital, stark white, sterile and void of personality. But yeah if a topic makes Miss Gloom and Doom stall out for a second, I'd hesitate too."

Haven's nose crinkled as he described their campus. A brief flash of the girl's home appearing before she shrugged the memory off with a shift of her wings behind her. "I feel like you'll say they live underground next." She joked halfheartedly.

"Nah, brah, that's the kicker," Lorcán stated, "Whole Institute is situated in these floating pods out in the Southern Atlantic. Only thing I like about them." He tried to joke back.

"Though I'm not ruling out underground tunnels. Torres has moleperson written all over her."

"That's even worse." Haven physically shuddered. "The island probably feels like a breath of fresh air." She couldn't imagine living somewhere with no land. "Maybe I shouldn't ask about it, then." She sighed and tucked her stray hairs behind her ears in a self-soothing motion.

"Your call, Sky Betty," Lorcán shrugged again, "I'd certainly wouldn't lead with that if you haven't spoken to either before." He joked with a small, playful elbow jab.

"If you're really curious though, I can break the ice with Alyssa for you, berah. Her Jake, RJ and my cousin Cass are total bros, I'm sitting over there by them, come over for dessert and we'll segway the convo and see what comes out."

He turned to leave, pausing to speak again.

"Afterall, no one can deny I make the best S'mores."

Haven shot Lorcán a grateful thumbs up. The second he had left, though, Haven turned in her seat to grin at Harper. "It's our lucky day, Harps."

Location: Southern Plateau - PRCU
Welcome Home #1.083: Flock Together

Interaction(s): Aurora @Melissa, Rory @Webboysurf
Previously: Birds of a Feather

"So, I was thinking that between grabbing supplies for the actual construction of the site we could bring everyone drinks and snacks?" Haven asked Aurora as they finished their first supply run of the day. The word Tad had used to describe their supplies was lost on Haven, but she was sure she'd recognize it when they arrived to pick it up. The crate was bulky, but not super uncomfortable.

Aurora wiped the sweat that had collected at her brow. She may have not needed to physically carry the large crates of supplies, but teleporting the sizable amount had taken some considerable effort. Especially given her mind was still not completely clear after this morning's ceremony, it only complicated things further and made a normally easy job more tiresome than usual. Once she had found Haven, the two had gotten right to work on the task at hand, not wasting anymore time than the redhead and Lorcán already had.

She turned to her winged friend and nodded, "Yeah, that'd be nice, I'm sure everyone would appreciate that. The coolers must be around here somewhere," The redhead looked around, students busy with their assigned responsibilities all around them. "I'm guessing that Robert, Tad, and the other faculty have that covered." Aurora stated, having a feeling that things like that were probably handled and under control, before smirking at Haven, "Why, feeling a little peckish?" She asked, dissolving into a delicate laugh at her own terrible joke.

Haven stuck her tongue out at her friend, her wings shaking out behind her in a playful threat. "I thought it would be nice of us." She said before giving a light shrug, her weight shifting onto one side and her hand resting on her hip. "Are you feeling jumpy about it?" Her nose scrunched as she grinned, as if she also knew how bad it was.

Aurora simply shook her head, another chuckle escaping from her lips, "Okay, I guess I had that one coming." She conceded, reaching up and gathering her hair into a messy ponytail and tying it off with an elastic in order to get it out of her face and off of the back of her neck. "Let's go see what we're working with here." She spotted the coolers a sizable distance away, at the other end of the campsite, and motioned for her friend to follow.

"So, are you going to tell me what happened or not?" The redhead asked, albeit a bit nosily.

Haven joined Aurora at her side, matching the girl's pace. She clasped her hands behind her back as she walked, a coy smile spreading as she tilted her head back and looked Ror's way. "Well... I'm going to tell you exactly how he asked, but I want you to think about who asked me before you jump to conclusions. Okay?" She brought her arms around front again, her hands spreading out in front of her as if she were a grand storyteller. When she spoke, her voice was low and rough in an impression of the man in question. "So, Barnes... you want to sleep together tonight?"

Aurora played Haven's game, nodding and watching intently as the girl set the scene. She was well aware that there was never a dull moment for Team Blackjack, so after hearing how this "mystery man" asked the brunette to share a tent, she shouldn't have been as shocked as she was. The redhead couldn't help but gasp, her eyes widening, "You're kidding." she stated in disbelief, "I swear, Rory just keeps on getting himself into these situations." Aurora shook her head, "So how'd you reply?"

"Well, I said yes." Haven started with a smile. "It took me a moment to realize what he actually meant, and of course my heart was pounding in my chest... but once it clicked that he just wanted to bunk with me and not- y'know, I figured it wouldn't hurt to agree without clarifying it." She brought her hands together, her thumb rubbing her palm absentmindedly. "If he figures it out before I tell him, that's great. If he doesn't, I'll know that I have to be the one to make the first move." Part of her wished that she had been direct with him from the first moment she saw him yesterday. The other part was telling her that she was crazy for feeling so strongly about him.

"I'm getting nervous just thinking about it, really. Dunno why."

The redhead's eyes nearly bugged out of her head, but softened as Haven explained her rationale, impressed with the girls' confidence surrounding the whole thing. It was a quality that Aurora envied, the ability to not overthink and be bold, as it was something she inherently lacked. She knew she was cautious, and for good reason, but sometimes she wished she could be a little more like her friends when it came to their self-assurance.

"I think it's justified to be nervous," Aurora expressed as they approached the stack of coolers, opening one of the lids and inspecting the contents. She grabbed a water bottle and passed it to Haven before taking one for herself. "I can't really relate, but if you feel comfortable enough with making the first move then more power to you." The redhead sighed, twisting the cap and taking a sip, "I just don't want you to get hurt, so I'd caution you to see what the vibe is before making the leap."

Haven gratefully accepted the water, standing next to the cooler as she listened to Ror. She mulled the advice over for a few moments, fiddling with the cap before she unscrewed it. She gave Aurora a warm smile. "I'm glad I can talk to you about this, Ror. Thanks." She took a swig of the bottle before capping it again. "I think I'd mess it up if I did this my way." Her smile turned into something lonely and yearning for a moment, before she took a deep breath and put her hand on her hip. All worries drifting away on a phantom breeze like a feather. "Let's deliver some waters and then check in with Tad. Hopefully the next supply run will be for something fun."

Aurora smiled back at Haven, placing a reassuring hand on her shoulder. "Of course, you can always talk to me. That's what friends are for, right?" The redhead affirmed. But she saw the way the girl's face dropped at her next statement, her eyes going glassy, and tried to lift her spirits. "Don't say that. You wouldn't mess it up. I just know that sometimes people act with their hearts and not with their heads. You know who does that?" She asked rhetorically, not waiting for Haven's guess. "Rory." Aurora disclosed, letting her eyes drift over to the construction site where many of the students, including the dark haired boy, were working.

She leaned down to grab a few more water bottles, carrying a handful of them in her arms. "That sounds good to me. It's warm out today, gotta keep everyone hydrated." Aurora concurred, as she began to walk towards structure being built.

Haven nodded in agreement. The smile that spread now was amused, and yet beaming with the warmth of knowing that Aurora had her back. She grabbed the rest of the water, and began to follow along behind Ror. Her wings lifted momentarily to avoid the coolers below, flaring at the promise of taking to the skies again soon. Her eyes moved to the construction site, scanning over each group until she spotted Rory... Hot. So hot.

"It is a bit warm today, isn't it?" Haven murmured halfheartedly. She then frowned lightly. "Weren't Lorcán and Amma supposed to be working with Rory?"

The redhead did a double take, letting her eyes scan the area. Her friend wasn't wrong, Lorcán and Amma were supposed to be paired with Rory, but upon evaluation, were nowhere to be found. It was odd, especially considering the sandy haired boy enjoyed this kind of work; she was convinced that the only thing he loved more than surfing was an architectural blueprint. Aurora raised an eyebrow, "Yeah, they were..." She trailed off, looking around once more. "Maybe they're taking a break?" She innocently theorized, not jumping to conclusions.

The girl closed the distance and approached Rory but as she neared, she could feel everyone's eyes on her. They were staring, but why? "Hey Rory," Aurora greeted, extending an arm out towards him, water bottle in hand. "Want a water?"

Haven cleared her throat softly as she approached, her traitorous eyes roaming his shirtless chest and abs before quickly lifting to those bright blue eyes. She gave him a bright smile in the hopes that he hadn't caught her staring, and then set down two water bottles for their missing teammates onto the table nearby. "You can have these if you need them." She said, looking around at the work that had been done already. "Sorry you're stuck doing all the work." She noticed the difference between Rory's steel and the clean cut lines of an elemental cut. It seemed like Lorcán and Amma had been here earlier, and yet... where were they now?

Rory nodded in thanks wordlessly for a moment as he finished a rough cut on one of the bars, turning the saw off and sitting it aside. As he saw Aurora and Haven, his eyes brightened up a tiny bit and he gave a weak smile. He quickly opened a water bottle and chugged half of it, before pouring the rest over his head to cool himself down. He looked back to Aurora, grateful. “Thanks, Borealis.” Rory then turned back to look towards Haven, seemingly oblivious and slightly delirious from exhaustion. He wiped some of the water and sweat from his face, running his fingers through his wet hair to part it back as he just seemed to catch her comment. “Yeah… it's, uh… it's fine. Hot Shot scooped up Amma and took off for the woods. You know how he gets sometimes.” Rory trailed off, seemingly lost in thought for a moment before shaking his head.

If Aurora had been mid-sip of water, she would have most definitely spit it out.

Lorcán had gone off with Amma? Into the woods? Together?

The girl could feel her heartbeat quicken, shock and surprise etched onto her face. She grew slightly warm, feeling the stares of nearby classmates pinned on her as if they knew something that she didn’t. The redhead choked out a laugh, clearly uncomfortable. “Oh, uh, he did? I mean, they did? That’s um… interesting.” She managed to say, not knowing how else to respond.

Haven had to admit she was impressed by Rory's work. She smiled as she watched him, admiring Rory's skill with the saw. Something was off about him, but she couldn't figure out what. Her mind went especially blank as he proceeded to chug the water, her eyes on the needy way he drank it. She braced herself as he lifted the bottle over his head, watching as it trickled through his glossy hair and down his broad shoulders and the panes of his chest. She quickly shut her mouth before she would start drooling, just in time for him to turn his gaze on her. The exhausted expression in them hit her in the chest, and yet she envied his hands as he ran them through his hair.

"Wait, what?" It was like her brain jumped back to life at his words. "They really left you here to do this by yourself?" She frowned, and then looked over at Aurora, realizing what the implications might mean for her too. She heard hushed gossip from a group behind them and shot them the bird behind her back. "Give them hell when they get back for me, Rory." Haven said, giving Rory a thumbs up. "You're doing great, by the way."

Haven scooped up their remaining water and moved to stand beside Aurora. "We should probably get going. I think I heard Tad calling for us. We can drop these off to the others before we go on our next run." The gossipers weren't getting any water. Haven had made her mind up on that.

The redhead glanced at her winged friend, attempting to hide the confusion that clouded her baby blues. She could hear whispering behind them, what were they saying? Haven would know, but her inclination was that it clearly wasn't anything good. And that it was about her. Aurora turned her head towards the students and they immediately stopped, something like pity in their eyes as she looked at them, confirming her suspicions.

Definitely not good.

"Yeah, I uh, we'll see you later Rory." She practically mumbled, head spinning as they walked away. She had a million thoughts in her head, mostly surrounding the fact that her best friend had gone off with the terrifying new girl who she did not like in the slightest. Aurora didn't know where she was heading, but just needed to get away from that group. She opted to start walking towards where Mei, Calliope, and Harper were brainstorming the theme, hoping Haven was keeping pace. "What were they talking about?"

Haven remained close to Aurora, her expression as casual as she could keep it. "Oh, don't worry about them. It was just some stupid gossip." She stretched her wings out beside her, casually covering Aurora from the view of the people in question. "I'm sure there's a reason they took off. You went after Lorcán this morning, right? I bet he's pretty upset about the situations with our degrees."

Aurora sighed, “Yeah, he’s devastated. He was totally spiraling when I found him, it was honestly really hard to watch.” She recounted, unable to shake the memory of him panicking, which was very out of character for him. He had always been so sturdy, so dependable… it seemed as though today he was not acting like his usual self in any way, shape, or form. “I guess I’m just surprised he ditched Rory. Lorcán lives for this kind of stuff, I would have assumed he’d throw himself into the work instead of bailing.” The redhead tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, she wanted to. But between the hushed chatter of their peers, and Rory’s tell-tale expression, it was becoming increasingly difficult to.

Haven looked out over the construction site, trying to figure out a reason that Lorcan would have ditched his responsibilities. She took a breath, coming to a conclusion of her own. "Aren't you wondering if this whole day is meaningless now?" She began, her tone soft. "H.E.L.P. hasn't done anything to save the school and the Foundation haven't agreed to give us the credits either. I can see why he thinks it's ok to slack off now." She looked over at Aurora, giving her an encouraging smile. "They could be out there wrecking some trees just to let off some steam. It can't be easy for Amma to hear that the school she left is now coming for this one, and now Lorcán is under the impression he won't leave the island without a degree."

"Although, it's weird that he would leave with someone who said such awful things last night. That I don't understand."

“I guess,” She considered, Haven providing a good perspective. She had a solid point that it was possible Lorcán assumed all was null at this point given the morning’s events. “But his cousin is supposed to be running the course. You would think he’d want to make it good for her, make it matter.” Aurora noted. He had been so excited to be part of the construction this year, and hadn't stopped talking about it all summer, in fact. The winged girl continued and the redhead shook her head, “Yeah Lorcán told me what happened after I fell asleep,” She hesitated, taking a breath. Just thinking about Amma made her skin crawl, “I don’t like that she said those things… she really worries me. People like that don’t change, not easily.”

Haven nodded, a frown coming to her features as she remembered Amma's words. "I don't think she has any hope for the world. For us. It's not right." She adjusted the bottles in her arms. "Let's give Lorcán a chance to explain himself later tonight."

This time Haven really heard Tad calling for them. She turned her head towards the coolers way behind them, seeing Tad waving his arm in the air. She raised her left wing in the air to let him know she heard and turned to Aurora. "Now we're actually needed." The smile on her face revealed her white lie earlier. "Let's have some fun with this run. We can race to see who gets back from the trip first."

The redhead wordlessly inclined her head in agreement, both to Haven’s evaluation of Amma and the girl’s willingness to give the sandy haired boy an opportunity to explain himself. She wistfully looked back at the construction site, still not seeing either Lorcán or Amma present, before looking back to Haven with a forced grin. Her features softened once she realized her friend had lied to get them out of the situation, and appreciation shone in her eyes, before melting into a coy smirk at the promise of a challenge. “I don’t think it’ll be much of a competition, but I’d like to see you try.”

Haven bumped her shoulder against Aurora with a grin. "I definitely can." She said before she suddenly turned around, bolting towards where Tad stood at the coolers. Her wings beat against the air around her, ponytail whipping behind her head as her muscles worked hard to get her airborne. "Come on, slowpoke!" She called back behind her, grabbing for a water bottle that tried to slip out of her arms. She laughed, already halfway to their team leader and quickly leaving Aurora behind. She knew Aurora would beat her there, as she always did, but the distraction of a competition made her defeat taste a lot sweeter.




Location: Southern Plateau - PRCU
Welcome Home #1.072: Birds of a Feather

Interaction(s): Banjo @Hound55
Previously: ... Gets the Worm?

Haven unscrewed the cap to the water bottle with urgency as she turned away from Rory. She lifted it to her lips, proceeding to chug it's entire cooling contents. Her heart calmed now that she was out of Rory's space. Her mind, on the other hand, briefly questioned what the hell she'd just done. It was daring, something she was used to saying, but with Rory? She swallowed hard as she lowered the empty plastic. There was a certain pride blooming in her chest now to have talked to Rory that way without restraint.

"Oi! Tyler! Move your bloody tent!"

Haven grinned to herself as she tossed the bottle into a trash bin nearby. She continued towards the plateau, not daring to look back in case Rory understood Banjo's quip. It was better to let him simmer this way. If he didn't get it now, he would soon enough.

Instead, she turned her attention onto Banjo at the front of the group. While he played off running into the giant faculty member, Haven was busy thinking about how she'd bring up her little plan to him. It was one of the rare occasions when Calli wasn't by his side. Calli's advice could help them in the future, but the law student might not approve of a prank to get their plan in motion. With that thought, it seemed like the perfect time to bounce the idea off of Blackjack's resident prankster. She broke into a light jog, and then her wings took her up about ten feet into the air so that she could catch up to the blondie quickly.

She reached him within seconds, touching down on the ground before she started to keep pace with him. Her wings tucked in behind her as she started the conversation. There was a mention of an Aussie rock song that Haven thought she recognized from Banjo's playlist before, and then a rock song she definitely recognized. The heat returned to her body, but she didn't let it distract her from her current goal. She put her feet back into motion, and soon was at Banjo's side again.

"I'm listening..."

"I want to know how you're feeling, about it all. I don't know if I should be angry and act on it, or jump ship and find my own way." She looked over his expression, knowing that of all people he would be the one to understand how she was feeling the best. There was a lot more she could have said, but she thought her words expressed enough.

Banjo looked at her as if she had two heads.

"I'm not one for tellin' anyone how they should feel about anything. But it's not like there's much that can be done at this point."

"Somehow they've roped us into a situation where they're hopin' to acquire us - their words... whilst they get to run some kind of audit on us. I'll be honest, seems like a massive conflict of interest to me, but given there's only really two schools on the planet like ours, there's probably some flawed processes around it by the sounds and you're stuck with each school policing each other. I assume."

"So anything we do at this point is just gunna reflect on the school and bring them that much closer to givin' 'em what they want." He spoke this last part with his hands, his frustration palpable.

"Now I don't exactly give two shits about this place, they could've rolled in here and said they intend to turn the whole damn island into a parking lot if they did right by everyone and their lives here in the process. But I do care about people. And they came in and fucked with my mob. So now I'm gonna have to find a way to make them eat it. But for now that means waitin'."

Haven sucked on her teeth for a moment, mulling over his words. A moment of disappointment crossed her features, before resilience returned in full force as she angled her head to look over at him.

"Soo... there's no chance you'll help me pull one over the reps?"

She quickly held up her hands in a gesture of peace. "I'm not looking to piss that woman off, as much as I want to. Nor am I aiming to make the school look bad, either."

"Even if we wait, like you said, for the perfect moment. I want to be in on it. I want to shove the whole cake down their throat."

"Depends on what it is 'n' when." He replied.

"Said it time and time again... I'm not in the habit of givin' pricks like these what they want."

"Mark that one down from the Book o' Banjo." He held up a single finger, as if he'd just delivered sage wisdom quoted from on high.

"'N mark my words. When I do act, it's gonna piss that woman and all of her sort off right to high heaven." He turned and gave Haven a broad grin. "And I'll enjoy every minute of it."

"So we're on the same page, then." Haven said with a mischievous smirk of her own. "You already have something brewing? Nothing I can think of would end right, trust me."

"Nothin' for right now." He replied. "This has kind of put everything I would have had on hold. Besides, I normally hold off until after their Homecoming. For some reason they get real on edge about doing anything 'round this time of year." He scratched at his temple.

"But you know me... A bunch of things on the easel in progress. This has just put everything up on blocks. There's no way to thread the needle and not make their job easier in takin' the school." He lamented.

"Don't know enough about these people."

"That's the problem." Haven murmured. "I'm hoping to find out how their school operates. I want to know why they're coming for the school now and not four years ago."

"There has to be something they want out of this besides a second campus."

"Well, first part's simple. We've got a bunch of kids at this school who've transferred from over there." He bounced back to Haven.

"I'll level with ya. New girl puts more wind up me than five cans of baked beans and a box a' bran flakes... but there's another team right on over who had a girl who went there. Ranga-- err-- Redhead girl. I'll be honest, what little I know you'd probably have a tougher time stoppin' her talkin' than gettin' her to start." He suggested as an alternative to the daunting option of questioning Amma, remembering Team Firebird had a member who came from the Foundation as well.

"Might be worth tryin' to see if we can combine campfire stories for the night... Besides, after today's assembly, more friends might be better than less."

"I don't know if Amma would talk to me about it or if I'd lose a few feathers trying." She said with a chuckle. "What's the other transfers name? I haven't mixed with Firebird since the end of summer party last year."

"Aww don't do that to me, I barely know our names..." Banjo replied, as if being put upon.

"She's about ye' big..." He held his hand up. "Ranga bird. You'll hear her before you see 'er. Keeps calling me 'Andrew Olyphant' no matter what I tell her. When I said my name was just 'Banjo' it practically broke her brain."

"Ah, so I'll tell her Andrew sent me?" Haven was the one with the shit eating grin this time.

"No. Like the full name, Haven Barnes. 'Andrew Olyphant'. Not to be compartmentalised or broken up for parts in any way, Haven Barnes."

Haven's brows knitted together for a moment. "What if I haven't told her my full name?"

He raised an eyebrow in disbelief. "You think I introduced myself as 'Andrew Olyphant'? When's the last time you caught me doing that? She's a sociable one. Probably has us all memorised by the yearbook or somethin', or heard it somewhere."

Haven laughed. "I'm gonna crack if she says my full name."

"Like an egg, Galah." Banjo stuck his tongue out at her. "And she will. Just you wait and see."

Haven scrunched her nose as he stuck his tongue out. "What's a Galah anyways?"

"Well, they're like a cockatoo... but pink and gray. Google it. I'm the one without a phone."

"And I've got a flip phone." She teased before realization hit her, smacking him lightly on the arm. "Oi, watch the bird jokes too."

Banjo's tongue was wedged deep in his cheek. He'd had a question running through his mind since she said she wanted to talk about it. He thought he had a pretty good feel for the people he knew, Haven in particular.

"Level with me. You've already got a bag packed. Haven't ya?"

Haven took a deep breath, reaching up to clear a few stray hairs out of her face. Her breath came out more of a puff than a sigh. "Yeah." The smile she gave him was bittersweet. "How'd you figure that?"

"Birds of a feather." He smirked.

"Been here five years. Never unpacked."

Banjo dropped his head with a smile, and kicked loose stones as he walked.

"Don't know if I'd have it in me to jump anymore though. Least not by myself." He sighed.

"Got myself too tied in. Never thought that'd happen. But you heard last night. It's been heading that way for a while... but, can't believe things are getting put out in the open."

Haven watched him carefully as he spoke. The bird comment almost earned him a real smack on the arm, but the meaning behind it was why Banjo had never really irritated her. She saw the rawness behind his punky demeanor. Where Calliope understood it and loved it, Haven felt it at her core and respected it.

"It would definitely break my heart to go, yeah." She said, the thought hitting her in the chest. "You have a really good thing going with Calli. I'm sure she would jump with you if you asked."

“I wouldn’t though. Well, unless we’re talking about a threat to life thing again… but really, what are the odds of that happening again?” He spoke with his head down still, a smile slowly creeping across his face, thinking of her.

“She has BIG ambitious plans. Ambitious plans she’s worked hard at to make possible… and they actually are. Me? I’m not someone who can dream so big. Well… I can remember when just thinking about becoming a lawyer was pretty big in and of itself. Every plan I’ve ever had for myself was something I could get anywhere, because I’ve never really known where I’d be.” He stopped and turned to her, an earnest look crossing his face.

“You know what’s really weird? Despite how she carries herself. The way she walks, expensive tastes, the way she was brought up, and the family she was brought up in. There’s no condemnation about her, never been any judgement about anything beyond me. I haven’t really said anything about my family to you – to be honest with you, I only know what I’m told and I’m not entirely sure how much I can believe – but I’ve told her. And my family is pretty much half a step above pond scum. Like, not scraping the bottom of the barrel… the black mould which is growing underneath the barrel. And I’m more scared of havin' a family than she is… like I’m not saying I wouldn’t. But my genes scare the shit out of ME, and she looks at me and just still wants—”

His demeanour had darkened dramatically as he broached the subject of his family, but by the end he chuckled to himself.

“She’s never seemed to judge me beyond who I am and the stuff I do. And I grew up getting bounced around boarding schools. Some of 'em wealthy and for the 'elite'. They don’t breed people like that. I used to eat shit getting bounced to city schools as being too country, I’d cop it from regional schools as being a ‘bloody townie’ or city kid. Everyone had shit to say. They could tell I wasn’t from much. She’s never thrown that in my face. Even when we’ve disagreed on stuff.” The earnest expression was back. It really was remarkable to him. He had a personality that could grate on people, and sooner or later, he'd found people would throw anything they could at him in frustration, desperation or rage.

“So nah. I couldn’t ask her to jump when she’s so close now. I couldn’t up-end her life when she’s actually that kind of person. Just on a hunch. I grew up relying on my intuition, but I couldn’t do that.”

Haven, meanwhile, had been watching Banjo go on and on with a wide smile. It was obvious that he was madly in love with Calli. A trait that Haven admired, and also set as a standard for her own future partner. As he finished, she sighed softly. Her hand reached up to push her stray hairs away from her face again. This time it was an act of self-soothing rather than a learned habit.

"You're completely right." She began, realizing that Banjo had decided to stay and fight for Calli and their future. Yet when she thought about Rory the way Banjo thought about Calli, she realized that she would throw herself into the fire if it meant he'd have a better chance at happiness. Could she hold her temper back, if she wanted to stay long enough to be his happiness?

"I'm happy for you, Banjo." She started with a sincere smile his way. "I think you'll both carve out an entire chunk of the world for yourselves regardless of who your family is or how much you've gone through to get there."

She turned to point at him, her smile turning into a grin. "And I expect an invitation to the wedding."

"I'll make sure you don't get served the chicken." He deadpanned. Before taking a few well timed steps away, and dodging a punch to the arm. A cackle escaping his own grin.

"You got lucky with that one." Haven said with a smile that promised retribution. She shook her head, her gaze turning towards the site as they approached it. "I guess it's time to get to work, huh." She slowed to a stop, sucking on her teeth for a moment. "When we run it, you'll already have an advantage knowing the layout. So let me know if there's any tight spaces I'll have to watch for, yeah?" She looked over at him and offered a half-hearted smirk. "I can't finish my first trial with a clipped wing. Would be pretty bad for my reputation."

"You'll probably get a better look than I will flying overhead. I'm just working on the foundations and inner structural work. The layout will be a shell on the inside." He replied.

Haven raised an eyebrow before nodding. "Gotcha. I'll let you know if I peek anything of interest, then."

"Thanks for the chat by the way. I'm feeling a bit better about it now."

"Likewise. Better shoot through, but. Or Katja's liable to get her knickers in a twist."

"Catch ya later this arvo, if Rory's lettin' ya stay upright."

Banjo went right on back to singing 'Shook Me All Night Long' as he picked up his pace to the construction site.

"I'll move your tent to the other side of the field, plucky! I mean it!" Haven shouted after him. Despite the threat in her words, she was grinning from ear to ear. Rory might not have meant it that way, but she still felt the fluttering of wings in her stomach when she thought about it. She was still grinning as she turned back towards the campsite, her eyes searching for a certain maple red flash of hair.


Location: Southern Plateau - PRCU
Welcome Home #1.063: ... Gets the worm?

Interaction(s): Rory @Webboysurf
Previously: Early Bird

Haven had noticed Rory's exit from the Mintoaur. His usual plucky demeanor had hers lifting, her smile broadening as she watched him take a tent towards the edge of the camp. What's he planning?

She turned to check that her final tent had righted itself properly, in time to hear Rory's tease from across the site. An unexpected laugh erupted from her throat, but she quickly covered it with a cough. It was funny that they'd gotten together in a similar manner, years ago. Still, Haven didn't feeling comfortable thinking about what they got up to in their tent. She regained her composure at that thought, turning in time to see Rory sauntering over to her.

The grin she gave him was almost scolding, her eyebrows raising at him, but the gleam in her eyes revealed the amusement behind it. She reached for the water bottle, her smile softening at the gesture.

Yet the moment he looked towards the tent she'd chosen, she felt her heart begin to thump in her chest. She kept the water bottle in her hands, not daring to take a drink of it until he finished the thought he was working on. She didn't want a repeat of yesterday. It was clear when he made up his mind, his confidence shining on his features like the midday sun. She held her breath, seconds seeming to stretch into minutes as she waited for him to speak.

"So, Barnes... you want to sleep together tonight?"

Haven's brows twitched in shock. Her body instantly heated. Her PT shirt and shorts suddenly felt too tight, like she was wearing way too many clothes. Her back muscles tensed, but she held them in place should her wings decide to fluff up again.

He's not this forward, right?

Hell, she didn't mind it if he was. Haven suddenly wanted it. He could have it right now, if they weren't expected to meet with Tad and Robert soon.

Gil had choked on thin air by the Minotaurs.
"We should really go and help bail him out. One of us, at least."
"No no. He needs to learn. Besides, it's more entertaining this way...and probably a better gauge if Haven actually reciprocates."

At least a third of Gil is thoughtful.

Her mouth opened, as if to answer, but she held her tongue. Gil's words repeated in her mind, and she realized he'd hinted at the beach incident. Finally, thank the heavens, Haven realized what he really meant.

Her heart still beat fast, but Haven was confident as she took a step towards Rory. She smiled up at him, and her head tilted to the side ever so slightly. "Sure thing, Rory." Her voice was low and as smooth as velvet. Quiet enough that the others would have had to strain to hear it.

Even if Rory wasn't thinking about it that way. Even if Haven didn't expect it to happen at all, surrounded by their teammates on the plateau. She didn't want to squash any hope that it could happen in the future. Not when her skin still felt so hot just thinking about it.

Maybe later one of their teammates would talk to him about the way he'd asked her. Maybe he would then realize that she had agreed to both scenarios. The idea was exciting, but Haven didn't put any bets on it. If she wanted it to happen, she'd have to get it for herself. Just like she had with plenty of others.


Location: Southern Plateau - PRCU
Welcome Home #1.058: Early Bird

Interaction(s): Tad, Robert @Lord Wraith
Previously: A Matter of a Pinion

Haven soared over Dundas Island, closing her eyes for a few moments to relish the feel of the wind against her skin and feathers. She inhaled deeply, filling her lungs with more air than she could ever need. She hadn't felt her body relax until she left the ground.

The previous anger was still there. Just stashed in a pack in the back of her closet, along with some clothes, survival gear, and what little money she had saved in the four years she'd been at PRCU. She didn't intend on leaving PRCU, but... it was better to have a go-bag ready than to pack in a rush.

She had a few minutes left of this precious feeling until she reached the meeting point on the Southern Plateau. If it weren't an obligation, Haven would have spent the day near the cliffs to clear her mind. It was a little exciting that the seniors would be able to run the trial they built. Considering she'd never done it herself, Haven saw it as a reason to show up. She refused to acknowledge why she'd missed her own Homecoming Trial, if only to keep herself from thinking about Torres comment earlier in the day.

She saw the trial site before the campsite, her eyes spotting Tad standing in front of a man she hadn't met before. She looked him over as she began her descent towards them, delighted to see another hype with such obvious physical markings. And what a physique he had. He towered over Tad, reminding her of Katja, and the thought had her itching to see how the two would interact together. She could have continued on until the campsite, but she had to know who the man was.

Haven chose to land a few feet away from the men. She tucked her wings in behind her once her sneakers touched the ground, looking their way. "Looks like I'm the first arrival." She said as she tucked her stray hairs behind her ears. She closed the space between them, adjusting her bag's strap against her shoulder as she held out a hand towards the hunk.

"Haven Barnes."

"Barnes, Wings, this matches what Thaddeus said." Robert replied extending a hand that engulfed Haven's own. "Robert Arkwright, I'm the Graduate Student in charge of organizing the build."

"Robert has opted to pair you and Aurora together as supply runners, if that works for you, Haven." Tad interjected. "You'll need to head back over to our campsite beside where Firebird is set up. Set up a tent, choose a bunkmate and then grab Aurora and head down into the construction site." He instructed.

"Yeah, that sounds great." Haven smiled at the two. "It was nice to meet you, Robert. Let me know if you need anything lifted. I can manage the aerial coverage, too."

She pointed with her thumb towards where she assumed the campsite would be set up. "Campsites this way, yeah?"

"Yeah, just back that way," Tad nodded pointing in the same direction. "Jess should be floating between the two campsites, you'll also likely see the Minotaurs with our spade on them. If you can relay the message to set up to anyone else who arrives that'd be great."

"I gotcha. See you guys later." Haven gave Tad a thumbs up before walking in the direction of the campsite. She picked up the pace, and before they knew it she was off. A graduate student, huh. She tried to imagine that he worked on the island because he loved it here so much, instead of the alternative.

The campsite was below her within a minute. She waved down to the dark haired Jessica as a way of greeting before she planted her feet on the ground by the Blackjack Minotaurs. Looking around, she could only think about her first night on the plateau years ago. It probably wouldn't be an issue for her to sleep here tonight, but... What would her other veteran Blackjack teammates think of it?

She busied herself with putting a few tents up just to get her mind off of it. There was no harm in helping the others out when the alternative was just to sit and wait. She tossed her pack into a random tent, along with the PT jacket she'd had tied around her waist. She was smart about the tent she chose. Just far enough from the treeline that she could take off in a rush... Just in case. She lined the tents in a large circle around the campfire. Her need to stay busy had her working quickly, and she was almost finished with the last by the time she heard others arriving.

Who would she pick for a bunkmate? She wasn't sure. It had to be someone brave enough to risk getting whapped by a wing in their sleep. It wasn't something she did every time she had a friend over, but there was always a chance. She didn't want them touching her wings, either, but she didn't control them when she slept. It was like they had a mind of their own at night.

She turned her head towards the arrivals just as the last tent was setting itself up. She made an attempt at a smile as if nothing had upset her earlier at all. "Grab a tent, guys. We meet up with Tad and the trial's build organizer once you're ready."

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