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Happy anniversary, Edenridge gang ♡
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Probably too old for this shit, but still in it anyway.
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The triumphant return... Maybe. 😂❤️



I have a few from my old roster I consider cringe for one reason or another, but I remember once during my early 1x1 rp days here using some stock photo of a random ass girl I found on Google and naming a character Scarlett Sapphire because her hair was red and she had blue eyes... 🤦🏽‍♀️ And @metanoia asking me if she was a stripper LOL.

As for the cringiest, I won't name drop the user or character's name, but it's one I'm sure @POOHEAD189 remembers well:
In Edenridge 14 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay

A @Venus, @Aces Away & @LovelyComplex Collaboration
Featuring Molotov, Findley, Prof, Ransom, Demo, Taz & Tiffannie, with mentions of Chase

"I don't see him," Ollie fretted as the three men arrived at the picnic site, Francis making sure to come to a slow stop so as not to further stress his son out. No one in the truck wasted a second after the car was parked, both doors went flying open and they all leapt out and closed the distance between themselves and Xavier and Findley. The couple was sitting in the grass, Findley cross legged and leaning back against Xavier, who had his chin on her shoulder and temple touching her own while his legs were sprawled out on either side of her, his arms enveloping her own and their fingers intertwined as their hands rested on her stomach. It was a clear sign of her needing to keep Prof grounded and Prof needing to keep her close. Ollie's shoulders dropped along with his expression as he took in the shattered platters, the wings they had jogged past in their haste to reach the other two, the soda cans on the ground in every direction, and the couple on the ground. Xavier's lip was busted but at least not really bleeding much and the reddened bruising spread down to his chin, and with a lack of Dolce came a lack of ice for Findley to put on it.

”Y’all a’right?” Callum asked outright, eyes on his friends instead of the disaster around them.

"That's your mom's-" Ollie cut himself off, a lump of guilt forming in his throat while his father and best friend began picking up the cans closest to the couple. "What happened?" Ollie finally asked once the chaos was fully registered. "Where is he?"

"He got a call, I'm guessin' from that Peach girl," Prof answered, pulling back from his girlfriend slightly to stare blankly up at them, his tone level and detached. "Dropped the wing trays tryin' to answer it. Kept his cool long enough to finish the phone call and hang up. He thrashed the setup completely before he came out of it but as soon as he did, he bolted."

Findley, who had been busy trying to calm herself and the unborn child moving around inside her belly, finally looked up at the new arrivals. It was clear that she was crestfallen about the unfortunate direction this day had taken. "He didn't hurt any of us at any point-- the table, the food and that tree over there took most of the damage," she noted, pointing to the tree trunk where faded,dried blood stains from Chase's knuckles could be seen. "Xavier's lip was from a soda can that caught him before he could step away from it after Chase flung it out."

"We need to get you some ice there, kiddo," Francis said as he and Callum finished dumping all the sodas into an intact pile and a busted pile. "Callum, find your balls and call your girlfriend, tell her I said to get here with the ice." Paling a bit at the command, Callum nodded and took a few steps away from the group to make the call as Francis took another step towards the couple. "Xavier, let me look at it.”

"I'm fine," Xavier intoned with a half lidded gaze, hooking his chin back over Findley's shoulder and tightening his grip the slightest bit, protective. A warning. Francis stopped his progress. "I've literally been stabbed before, a busted lip is nothing."

“I’m sorry, Demo,” Findley apologized to the older man with sad eyes. She felt responsible for the incident, in a strange way. If she had taken the time to carry the wings from the car to the table instead of choosing that moment to take a break, this whole incident could have probably been avoided. “I called out to him as he was leaving, but he didn’t stop. And I didn’t want to get too close just in case… you know…” she explained, jerking her head in the direction of her belly. “So I wasn’t scared of that. I know he wouldn’t dream of putting hands on me. I just didn’t want to take the risk of getting hit with what was being thrown around like Xavier was.”

“I’m fine.”

“It’s not your fault, baby girl, never,” Francis comforted from afar, respecting Xavier’s triggered possessiveness of his love. “He was already so nervous ‘bout all of this that the littlest thing was gonna strike his match. I’m just glad that you and Xavier were mostly unscathed at least. Right, Ollie?”

“Yeah,” Ollie answered distractedly, eyes trailing from Callum’s back to track whatever his friend saw while on his phone call, and saw a classic black low rider Lincoln rumble its way into a parking space next to his pop’s old beat up truck. “But what will they think?”

The vehicle in question came to a smooth stop beside the rusty pick-up truck. A young blonde dressed in an all-white blouse and skirt ensemble and matching bright pink accessories gracefully stepped out of the front passenger’s side of the Lincoln, a small pink bag hanging from her elbow. She seemed visibly anxious as her bright blue eyes scanned the vicinity for any signs of her ‘date’, as evidenced by the way she bit her sparkly, glossy, pink lower lip and how she bounced on the balls of her wedge-clad, perfectly pedicured feet.

“I don’t see him, Uncle Tazzy…” Tiffannie complained to her uncle as he exited the vehicle shortly after her, growing increasingly nervous the longer she went without seeing Chase. From a distance, she could see a group of strangers in close quarters: most of them her age, one of them visibly older-- but none of them Chase. “He told me he would be here, but I don’t see him anywhere.”

Taz surveyed the group and from all that were present he was quick to deduce who her date was. She was here to meet her friend’s family. Friend? Were they friends? And the people that stood out from the group were those he knew as the Dawsons. Good people. Demo and Zippo. Rest In Peace, Fiona. Francis’ beard seemed a bit bigger from the last time he saw him, which was a week ago when they passed each other on Main. He knew all the faces, from Oliver and Callum, who both reminded him a bit of himself, to Fin and Xavier, two kids too smart for their own good. Kids who unfortunately couldn’t see a way out of their circumstances, so they made the most of it. Whether by booze or a baby, they were surviving.

With the dessert box in one hand, having the grace of a man who worked in a kitchen all his life, Taz locked his car up and led the way. “Chase Warren, is that the boy you like?” He glanced at his nervous niece, curious how she, out of all people, got involved with some of the more well known faces of the southside. Francis was a pillar, and she found herself an in through his son.

Tiffannie’s cheeks turned pink, and she confirmed her uncle’s suspicions with a shy nod, tucking a stray strand of silky hair behind her ear. “I do. I really, really, reeeeeeeally like him-- but we’re just friends, Uncle Tazzy!” she was quick to clarify with raised hands, hoping to ease any worries Taz might have about this being another Father Joe-type incident. The furthest she and Chase had gone was her kissing his cheek and holding hands, so any concerns about Tiff engaging in any nefarious activities would be baseless and unfounded. She was a reformed lady. “Chasey and I are just friends, I promise.”

Friends. She promised. Tiffannie reminded him so much of his sister. From her faith in others to her sexual appetite. Somehow his niece befriended the most unlikely people, at least for someone of her stature. For someone like him, this was his life, he simply chose to do better, for his kids. But for Tiffannie? She knew nothing of this kind of hardship and struggle. She knew nothing of what it meant to have to think about whether or not you have to buy food one day, or pay rent instead. She was given the world and more, and that’s because Mel made sure her daughter didn’t have to experience the same things she went through. The same things Taz went through.

That’s what Taz aimed for too. To provide his kids a life unlike his. He wished his kids were grateful for all the things he provided for them, but some things were beyond his grasp. They were unhappy, and that only meant he failed them. Even after all he’s done, he still failed them. Natalia tried to cheer him up earlier but he knew. He knew his character. He knew he wasn’t a good man. But he was trying. Trying to not act so hastily. Trying to connect with his children. Trying to be a better man. This was his first step. Repairing his niece's date, if it’s even salvageable at this point.

Francis looked over to where Taz Belmonte was speaking with his niece and sighed heavily, looking down at the ground and roughly scratching the back of his head as he tried to put his thoughts in order. They couldn’t just ignore the new arrivals, but explaining what they now really needed to explain to the older man and his bubbly charge was going to require a lot more thought than he could currently put into it. He looked to Callum who stood a pretty equal distance between the two groups, and as if he sensed his gaze the blond turned around with his phone in his hands, his face dull and vacant as he read whatever she had texted him after no doubt hanging up on him mid sentence. The collector gave Francis a feeble thumbs up, confirming the ice was on the way despite however Dolce was feeling at the moment. He waved the younger man back over to their group and clasped him on the shoulder when he arrived.

“Okay, Cal: I need you to start cleanin’ up the wings now that we’ve got the cans sorted. Ollie, come with me to greet our guests. Xavier and Fin,” He looked down to where they were still sitting against the tree trunk, freezing under the icy gaze that Prof met him with. “Just stay here and try to chill out by the time we come back,” he sighed. “We’ve got this, kids.” He hardly believed himself, but he still made his way towards the car park.

“Oh yeah, let’s go say hi and tell T’s Barbie friend that he’s more of an action figure than a Ken doll, real C-4 included,” Ollie said unenthusiastically, following one step behind his father, who turned his head to give him a warning glance. “Sorry.”

Tiffannie noticed the older man and one of the younger ones depart from the group and begin to trek in their direction, her eyes widening in surprise. Why were these people coming over? Did they know her uncle? Did they know her? Because Tiff sure as hell didn't know them. As the two unknown men got closer, she let out an involuntary shriek, took a step back to half-hide behind her uncle's taller frame, and pulled on the sleeve of Taz' shirt, requesting his attention.

"Some of the people from that group over there are coming over here!" she hissed at the man in alarm before nervously scanning the area again, growing more frantic the longer she spent not spotting Chase. "And I still don't know where Chase is!"

“Tiffannie,” Taz breathed in exasperation, trying not to cause her any more anxiety than she already was experiencing. It was times like these that Natalia would tell him to connect and show he cared. It was also times like these where Taz did no such thing, not knowing how to handle the storm that was his family. This is what his wife was for. To handle the emotionally heightened situations. “That is Chase’s father. And brother. If you are concerned about your… friend, I need you to act right.” If she panicked and something bad had already happened, she would only make the Dawsons feel worse.

"Oh," the girl answered sheepishly, stepping away from behind her uncle to stand beside him instead. "I'm sorry, okay! I didn't know what they looked like!" she whined to Taz with a small pout at being chastised for something that wasn't even her fault. How was she supposed to know what Chase's family members looked like if she'd never seen them?! He hadn't told her what to look for, either: just that he would be there. "I didn't mean to be rude!"

Francis had already seen the action taken by the blonde girl, but knew full well not to hold it against her. After all, he was a six foot four, two hundred pound bearded grizzly bear making his way through a massacre of wings to meet her as a stranger. That immediate fear happened with him more than he’d ever admit to his sons, who saw him as nothing more than a teddy bear. It was worse when he was younger and still rocking an Angels patch on his jackets, and then later a Serpent patch as well, and he had almost forgotten the disappointed feeling that came with being the cause of that look. Fiona had never looked at him that way, even at their first meeting, and having her at his side as he walked down the street on the Northside had also lessened the fear instinct he seemed to trigger in strangers. He tried for a smile as he reached the two, holding his hand out to Taz for a strong shake, which he was given one, tight and firm, with both power and formality, before turning to Tiffannie.

“Nice to finally meet you, I’m Chase’s pop, Francis,” He introduced with his given name, knowing that she only knew Chase by his, and gave her an apologetic look. “We’re tryin’ to clean up right now, and then we’re gonna try and find Chase once we’ve set things right here,” he looked back at the girl’s uncle. “I’m sorry, Taz, we weren’t expectin’ this to happen. He’s been so happy recently.”

“It’s no problem, no problem at all. It’s unfortunate that—” Taz’s eyes went from Demo to Tov when he was cut off with a nonchalant comment.

“I mean, his mornin’ kinda sucked bu-” Ollie’s mumble was cut off by Francis lightly elbowing his side in reprimand for interrupting so rudely, and he let out a tired sigh. “He’s been real happy the past month, that’s for sure. Hey, I’m Molotov, T’s brother,” He introduced, nodding to the blonde. Through no fault of her own, he was now much less enthusiastic about meeting her due to the situation at hand. He tried for a smile anyways, for Chase. “He calls you Peach, right?”

The young woman nodded, blue eyes shifting from Tov's and Francis' faces in search for more information about what was going on. 'Clean up'? 'Try and find Chase'? 'Weren't expecting this to happen'? "I don't mean to be rude or anything, but where's Chase?" she asked them point blank. Small talk could be made later, after explanations were given. "When he called me twenty minutes ago he said that everything was good and that he wanted me here, but I don't see him around and you guys just said something about trying to find him. Is he not here?"

Francis and Ollie exchanged a small glance at that bit of information, well aware of the calm he retains while his fuse slowly burns before finally reaching ignition. They’ve all learned to watch and listen for that calm, to do their best to put on the metaphorical blast suits before he blows. Ever since Conan’s death, there’s been no such thing as snuffing out his blaze, only directing it and evacuating those in the way. This poor girl couldn’t have possibly known about that.

“No, sweetheart, he’s not,” Francis answered after a heavy pause. “The quickest way to say this is that he dropped the chicken wings for the picnic and…well, he doesn’t really handle sudden changes well. He may have sounded calm talking to you, and if he said he wanted you here then that’s true because he doesn’t make a habit to waste time on lies while he’s like that, but he has a condition and when things don’t go as planned he-”

“Explodes, goes off, hits the roof and keeps goin’,” Ollie cut in. “We don’t call him TNT for nothin’.”

“Tov!” Francis admonished, looking at his son reproachfully.

“Aw c’mon pop! Why are we sugar coatin’ it? The whole picnic area’s thrashed and T’s gone, we don’t have time to pretend that we aren’t all fucked up,” he argued, crossing his arms and casting his gaze to the side, landing it on the shattered pieces of Chase’s phone at the base of a nearby tree. He looked back up and met Taz’s gaze with determination. “Sorry for this Mr. Taz but I wanna go find him, not stand around talkin’ bout him. We can talk about his issues later, I’m just rippin’ off the bandaid first.”

Francis continued looking at his eldest as he spoke, concern building for him as well. This is a stressful situation for all of them, and they all knew how Oliver handled his stressful situations. A sober Oliver looking for a burnt out Chase has happened many times, but never in the presence of those they didn’t consider family. Oliver sober was not nearly as happy as an alcoholically-turnt Oliver, so these two were about to see the hidden sides of both of his sons, and he sure hoped they were ready for it.

The more details Tiffannie heard about the events that had transpired prior to her arrival, the more her heart sank with guilt. If she had done her due diligence in setting and ensuring her alarm was on, she would have been on time. No time for unnecessary anxiety to develop, no phone call to Chase would have been made, no tripping over anything to spill their lunch entrée all over the park ground, no triggering her friend to go off on his surroundings, and no reason to abandon the scene of the crime. This whole thing was her fault.

The blonde girl shifted her sights to the floor, shielding her eyes away from the men so they wouldn't notice them slowly filling with tears that eventually found a home on the concrete underneath her feet. This whole ordeal brought the concerns she'd been pushing to the back of her mind to the forefront. Was she good enough for Chase, even as a friend? They were opposites in every sense of the word. She could never understand the hardships he went through, just like he would never understand the privileged world in which she'd been raised. She couldn't relate to him or his friends. What could a spoiled girl from Los Angeles who's biggest crimes were traffic tickets for speeding and parking in places she shouldn't and who got dizzy at the smallest hint of marijuana smoke provide someone like Chase, other than more reasons to worry and lash out? He had bigger, more important things to worry about than keeping her safe from a town she didn't belong in and making her happy. That shouldn't be another weight on his overloaded shoulders.

Maybe that's why he left.

"I'm sorry…" was all Tiff could say without her voice breaking.

“Don’t you start,” Taz boomed, furrowing his eyebrows. He had observed that child since he was small, perhaps not to the extent of Francis, but Palermo was open to both south and north. There was no judgment in his House. It was a place for all. It was a place where everyone, regardless of status, were the same.

Taz understood better than most how it felt to handle issues with anger — he was an angry man. He simply hid it better than most because that’s what his wife begged him to do. “You both were fucking nervous.” The Belmonte patriarch cursed, which wasn’t something he did often. “It’s clear you like him and he likes you. There is no use in thinking of what is wrong. All we can do, right now, is think of what's right and make things right.”

Grabbing his niece and pulling her into his chest, holding her protectively while she wrapped her arms around him for comfort, he looked at his old friend, “Demo, will your son return home? You know him better than anyone. If he comes back home, especially before the storm, we can sit and talk. Until then, I really don’t think it makes sense running around town if you don’t know where he will be.” His last words were directed to Tov, as he sternly rested his eyes on the boy going through withdrawal, suffering.

“If he’s calmed down by then, yeah,” Francis answered dutifully, putting a grounding hand on Oliver’s shoulder as his son was cowed by Taz’s gaze. “But he’s got a few other places that we know he’d go, and every now and then he switches it up on us. Actually, now that I mention it,” He mumbled the last part, taking the chance to turn away from the tearful girl he was glad Taz knew how to handle and calling out across the clearing. “Ransom!”

“Yo!” The collector called back, straightening up from picking up the last of the mess, having only left the area around the quartet for the sake of their privacy. “Whatchu need, bossman?”

“Call Lost Souls and see if he turned up there. Have one of the guys check the usual apartments even if they didn’t see him come in. After that, call Mamba at work and see if he went to see her.”

“If he gets nothin’ from that,” Ollie spoke up, shoulders hunched under Francis’ hand and no longer meeting anyone’s eyes. “We should check Edenridge Tobacco.”

“Yeah,” his father replied quietly, moving his hand from Ollie’s shoulder to the side of his head and pressing him against his chest to comfort him, unintentionally mirroring the Northside duo in front of them. That night was another thing they didn’t need to be thinking of right now. “Ran can handle that.”

“I’ll call ommer Shale and have them keep an eye out,” Xavier offered, finally taking the chance to stand and bring Fin to her feet with him. “I know he doesn’t go there anymore, but maybe someone stoppin’ in saw him on the street.”

“Thanks Prof, that’d be great,” Francis replied earnestly. It was already rather windy, so he was hoping to get as many eyes out there as possible. “As for us,” he returned his gaze to both Taz and Tiffannie as the other serpents began their tasks. “We should go to our place and wait for him, in case he shows up there. I think we need to have a full conversion either way.”

Ollie, who shamelessly hadn’t moved from the position his father had him in, scoffed nervously. “Oh, joy: waitin’ and talkin’. Two of my favorite things.”
In Edenridge 18 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay

A @Venus, @LovelyComplex, @metanoia and @Aces Away Collaboration
Featuring Natalia Belmonte, Poppy James, Jade Taylor & Mordechai Boaz

After Natalia had pulled herself together into a presentable appearance after fourteen days of solitude, some quick detours at Jade’s home in the Southside for them to pack their overnight belongings and a quick corner store visit for some snacks and “goodies'', the mismatched foursome set off on the drive to their destination. As she drove down the scenic routes that led from the town of Edenridge to the Blue Hill Reservation taking nervous pull after nervous pull from her vape, the Belmonte girl’s mind was racing as fast as the trees she was speeding past. There was silence between the passengers of the Navigator for the majority of the ride, and the few times Billie Eilish’s haunting vocals were occasionally interrupted was by the GPS on Tal’s iPhone directing them on their way.

The quietness of the drive gave Natalia plenty of time to reflect on her ties to Charlie Decker. It was crazy to think that one night had completely altered the course of the Northie’s life. What would have happened if she’d waited a few more minutes to storm off? If she would have gone the opposite direction? If she would have blown Charlie off when he’d inquired about what was bothering her? If they hadn’t smoked some more, talked some more, bonded some more? If they hadn’t closed the distance between them to lock their lips in a kiss? If they hadn’t boarded her car, driven down to the home he shared with his mother, entered the sanctity of his bedroom and of seeked comfort from their heartache in each other’s arms?

If she had known then what she knew now, would she have done things differently?

After two songs by Billie Eilish, Penelope found herself mentally checking out. She had nothing against the artist, she simply couldn’t listen to the same type of music for however long this ride was. Plus! The Midnight had a new album that needed to be listened to. Opening her bag, she pulled out her headphones and put them on. She was sitting on the right side, behind Mordechai who took the passenger seat. When she got her phone situated, she went to her Spotify and started with the song, 'Heart Worth Breaking'. Staring out the window, taking in the strong scent of cotton candy, Penelope watched the trees pass her by.

They were going to meet Charlie’s sister. Mitena. Poppy didn’t know how she should feel about this but she knew she needed to stop waiting for opportunities to come to her. She needed to feel the moment and take chances. This would be her biggest step to redeeming herself for not being able to save Charlie from his demons. This would be her moment. Her moment to feel the deepness of reality and learn to love herself. Her moment to let go. Her moment to live.

When they went by Jade’s place, she didn’t care what it was that she brought. It was just going to be a couple of days, right? Not even that, so a change of clothes that were fitting for a Native American Reservation was all she needed. That made it difficult, of course, because most of Jade’s closet was filled with…inappropriate reservation attire, but she made it work. She had some shorts, cut up as they were, that she could put into a bag and some shirts for her and a few oversized ones for Poppy. She had to pack a dress, too. Reservations meant there was a casino. So why not? Maybe they could have some downtime during this whole quest of theirs. Jade opted to leave her pocket knife at home, though. She didn’t want to leave a bad impression for obvious reasons, but also because this was Charlie’s sister that she didn’t know about until this morning.

But when they got moving and when they drew further away from Edenridge and the somewhat pleasant sounds of Billie Eilish’s vocals filled this surprisingly uncomfortable car (she missed the seat of her harley), Jade couldn’t help herself but actually let these songs get to her. She was feeling low as it was. Feeling like somehow she didn’t belong on this quest. What right did she really have to be here? She ghosted her friends for nearly a month. When she wasn’t at work or her apartment, she was at the angels clubhouse with the one rule that anyone looking for her was to be told she wasn’t here. She’d receive texts and calls from Chase, from uncle Demo, from Tov and Ransom and even Dolce. Even Leone got involved and still Jade ignored them all. She didn’t want to face them after what came out when they were all at the Carlisle house.

It all comes back to that night…

Yeah, it did and Jade hated it. So what right did she have to be here? She didn’t feel like she had any. But she was here and all she could think about was how shitty of a friend she’s been to Key and Poppy.

Lamenting in her own sadness, Jade didn’t mirror Poppy, who from a side glance at the brunette beside her, she realized already had her headphones on. For whatever reason, Billie Eilish was a lot better than Jade gave her credit for. She actually was feeling the songs that played.

Mordechai was not feeling the songs being played, nor was he able to disappear into his own music since he hasn’t had any headphones for years now. It was just something he never thought about after he lost his last pair. He glanced in the rearview at his companions and got a glimpse of Poppy staring out the window behind him, and Jade who seemed more zoned into the music than he would have expected. A glance to his side showed Natalia intent on the road, her vape, and singing along, and Mordechai realized he was alone on his own little island of a passenger seat.

Blue Hill. Now that his brain was truly catching up with all the events of the day, and his emotions had leveled out from being in the mess of Natalia’s room, their actual quest settled in the back of his mind while he focused on the other factors that would soon come into play. He’d be seeing Jokes and Creed’s Auntie Adora for the first time in just over two years, the last time being the summer before the shooting. And while he was sure everything was explained to her by his Serpent brothers, Mordechai was a little scared to be seeing her with Jade and Poppy in tow. Adora wouldn’t judge Mordechai for leaving, he knew that much, but he was still worried about what she might say. Adora was another person he had allowed himself to be vulnerable with, one of the few adults -despite her having less than a decade over him- that truly treated both Mordechai and Danny well, whereas many of the adults in Edenridge just saw Mordechai’s patch and assumed he was a shitty older brother leading his younger astray along the same doomed path he took.

He could remember the whispers of the Northside any time he interacted with those they deemed better than him; with Rye it was, ’That Boaz boy has his claws in him now. The kid almost had a chance to be safe, too.’; with Lanie it was, ’He’s going to ruin that girl, hurt her beyond repair. He’s dragging them all down with him.’; with Danny it was, ’He’s going to make that boy just like himself, another dreg of society. He’ll get that kid killed young.’ Shaking his head lightly to dispel the thoughts, Mordechai slumped lower in the passenger seat and tried not to think about how everything those adults had said had been more prophecy than slander. He tried not to think about how his parents had said all the same things long before he ever even interacted with the Northside.

The musings of the Navigator’s passengers were interrupted by their driver shortly after transitioning from neatly paved streets to dirt roads that were rough underneath the tires of her SUV. “We’re here,” Natalia announced to the group as they crossed the large sign welcoming them to Blue Hill Reservation. She paused to lock eyes with the passenger beside her and the ones behind her via the rearview mirror. “If we’re going straight to the hotel I know where it is. I can get us there without the GPS.”

With her headphones down now, around her neck, Penelope surveyed the small pockets of beauty in the reservation and the areas that desperately needed funding. “You’ve been here before?” Poppy asked, her eyes falling on a food truck, Resi on the Rez. From there her gaze went to a longhouse called Aponi’s Heart, followed by children running around, getting up to mischief. There were four of them, two boys and two girls, and it kind of reminded her of her and her friends, and Charlie. When they were young and dumb. All they had was each other. That was the Southside way.

Natalia nodded, even if Poppy couldn't see it from the backseat. "I'm sure you already know this, but Jokes' mom Thunder was from here-- she moved to the Southside when she and Slick got married. His mom's sister, Adora, still lives here and works at Blue Sun's, so we came over to visit her a few times when I was still dating him and Creed. I haven't been here in years, though. But it looks like it hasn't changed much…" she noted, judging from the sights she could visualize while still keeping her eyes on the road.

“So you’ve been here before?” Jade asked as she cracked her neck. She had been leaning against the edge of the seat close to the door. She took a couple power naps that didn’t last any longer than fifteen minutes at a time. She couldn’t sleep worth shit and most of her upper back and neck were, honestly, aching pretty fucking bad. Good thing she packed the rest of the oxy pills that she had leftover from her last deal with Sonny. She’d have to thank him for saving her hide even when she didn’t think she’d need them.

Jade cracked her neck again, hearing the oh-so-satisfying sounds of her bones pushing against each other and releasing all the pressure. So refreshing. Instead of asking what she wanted to ask and that was whether Natalia actually knew Charlie’s sister, she kept her mouth shut about that and just followed Poppy’s eyes. “Not a bad place. Looks peaceful. Kinda like the perfect place for someone to not get dragged into the shit happening back in town.” Yeah, if only.

Mordechai almost laughed at Jade’s comment, if not for the fact that he was still in a rather somber mood himself, and sat back up from his slouched position to follow the blonde’s lead and crack his neck and back. “It definitely hasn’t changed,” Mordechai acknowledged as he followed Nat’s line of sight. He thought about the fact that the beanie he had tucked away in his bag used to belong to Thunder the same way Sonny's beanie had been Slick's. He hugged his bag to his chest and remembered how confusedly warm he'd felt that night when the two snakes had shown them affection, and how cold he felt sitting at an unconscious Molotov's bedside knowing that they were gone along with Creed's dad. Everyone that treated him well suffered eventually. Trying to distract himself from that, he allowed Puff's commentary to get him thinking of all the times they’d both been here and he couldn’t help but ask, “D’ya think we’ve met his sister already, at some point when we were here before?”

Once again, Penelope was in the dark. She kept quiet, focusing on taking her headphones off, unplugging it from her phone, and putting it back in her bag. She was never given many opportunities to know the crew and when she did, they acted like she was invisible. She didn’t know what Charlie or Decky or both said or did to get most of the kids on the Southside to barely acknowledge her existence but it hurt. And the fact that her father was once one of them, meant nothing to them because suddenly him wearing blue meant he wasn’t a snake anymore, hurt even more.

She wasn’t a rock like her father and quite frankly, she was okay with that. She didn’t understand how he was standing after people called him an abuser when Max ‘committed suicide’, or the fact he constantly pulled double shifts just to show kids like him there was more to life than gang violence and drugs. The Four Brothers had their stories and they were legends for a reason, but she imagined those stories did not feel good at the time, while her dad and his friends were experiencing them.

Still, there was no use in brooding over how unwanted she was. To stand alone took more strength anyways. As much as she wanted a family with those that grew up on the same streets she did, she knew nothing could be forced and she wasn’t one to beg. Plus! She had Marco now. Maybe her family were lost souls from all corners of Edenridge, not just the Southside. And if that was the case, lucky her.

Natalia shrugged her shoulders. That was a possibility she hadn’t stopped to consider even if it was unlikely. "Maybe. I was always focused on Creed, Jokes and Adora though, so I don’t really remember meeting other people besides her coworker Yana."

Mordechai continued to watch Poppy in the rearview as Natalia replied to him, keeping his face as neutral as possible as he saw her check out, this time with her headphones off. She'd known about that at least, hadn't she? He'd told all three of them back then where he occasionally spent his holidays, even if he didn't include his Serpent trips in that information. He never really considered what he was doing as keeping secrets, but he also never really expected to live long enough for any of his shit to come back and bite him in the ass either. Even when he was younger he assumed he'd eventually just be a memory in everyone's heads, but now instead those memories were Charlie, Danny, Max, all the lost souls that have been restlessly haunting the survivors' minds.

"It's gonna be weird either way, I guess," he finally acknowledged. "And if they were sendin' each other letters, then his sis definitely won't wanna talk ta me."

That tidbit of information caught Natalia's attention in a way that almost had her slamming the breaks and losing her grip on the SUV's steering wheel. "What did you say?" Tal sharply asked Decky, a slight increase in the pitch of her voice. She couldn't have heard that right. There was no way that her luck was so shitty for there to be letters out there in the hands of a stranger detailing her ties with Charlie Decker.

Gripping the door handle at the sudden small swerve of the car, Mordechai glanced to their driver and caught a glimpse of the distressed look that she wore as she kept her eyes on the road. What the hell was that about? "That's why we're goin' ain't it?" Mordechai asked, eyes shifting to Poppy in the mirror once more. "He was pen-pallin' with her and these new letters back home threatened her?" He could have sworn he had at least that much information straight.

“Not the letters sent to the whole town. I know for a fact that wasn’t written by Charlie.” Penelope’s eyes rested on the back of Natalia’s head, curiosity setting in on why she reacted the way she did at the mention of Charlie writing to his sister. “Too girly and lovey dovey. I think for that one, someone is trying to get on the bandwagon because of how the Allison incident played out.”

The car ride gave Penelope plenty of time to listen to the Endless Summer album and ponder like she was some true crime mastermind. Nah, that was Kylee Grimm. Everyone knew Kylee and Roddy Callahan liked to ‘Scooby Doo’ throughout town, causing their own mischief on the other side of the railroad tracks. Still, Pops could at least act like she knew what she was talking about, “The culprit who has Charlie’s journal is likely toying with us. That or they are threatening someone completely innocent. Which makes me wonder if Rhonda was the only one that got a personal letter?” She theorized out loud trying to make sense of it all.

“Long story short, it shook her and now here we are,” Penelope glanced back out the window, at the reservation, the place of Charlie’s history, and sarcastically muttered, “One big happy family trying to be heroes when we can’t even save ourselves.”

He tried to hide his wince at that final shot from Poppy, knowing it was all too true. Him, who disappeared completely for two years without even a postcard to the people he was closest to; Jade, who spent the past month completely tuned out from the lives of her family and friends; Poppy, who until this past month couldn't go anywhere or do anything without several security blankets; finally was Puff, who was obviously on her own downward spiral into the rock bottom that Mordechai had just finished climbing out of. What a group to be trying to protect someone else, so damaged and cracked and one more shake in the foundation away from their minds breaking down. What great people to meet Charlie's sister. His true love, his best friend, his Judas, and a girl that none of the other three even knew the role of.

The weapons on his person felt heavier by the second as he thought of how pathetic he was in the role of protector. All he ever really did was run away. From his parents, from the Southside, from Edenridge, his life with Allegra and the kids. He was never the shield he'd thought he was.

"Well, we're all she's got," he said shortly, mood continuing to sour. He crossed his arms tightly and clenched his jaw tightly before finishing with, "We better hope it's enough."

Natalia became silent during the exchange between the two friends, the panic she'd been feeling before bubbling back up to the surface. Her grip on the steering wheel tightened, and she resumed the near-frantic use of her vape while trying to regulate her breathing to avoid suspicion from her passengers. Charlie writing letters to his sister meant that, if they were close enough to discuss his personal life, there could be written proof about their liaison. So now not only did she have to worry about her name being dropped in any page of the stupid journals being photo-copied and sent around Edenridge, but she also had to worry about letters that may or may not contain similar or more detailed information.

Had she finally discovered the real purpose behind coming here? For the Southies to get their hands on these letters and the contents disclosed in them? The thought of what could happen to her if they all found out her secret when she was away from home and anyone who could protect her worried her-- her kickboxing wouldn't get her very far in a fight with multiples carrying knives or guns. But maybe that's what they had wanted all along: an ambush in the name of payback and truth.

She needed to find out what these letters said, fast, and get rid of them if possible. That would be her personal goal for this trip.

A @Venus & @BeastofDestiny Collaboration
Introducing Noah Cypress & Ezekiel Masterson
Location & Time: Zeke's Dorm Room @ Clearview Street Residence Complex, 12:10 PM

Bright rays of noon sunlight peeked through the curtains of the room’s window and shone directly on the face of a sleeping Noah Cypress. The persistent brightness eventually nudged the young woman awake, rubbing her hungover self off in all the wrong ways. Letting out a loud groan, she threw a lazy arm over her face and rolled over, hoping to settle herself in the center of her bed to continue sleeping. Her movement, however, was stopped short when she collided with a dense figure laying beside her. Frowning, Noah opened her eyes to find herself staring at the broad, tanned back of a male, still fast and deep asleep as confirmed by his deep, rhythmic breathing.

Noah’s frown became more pronounced as she suddenly sat bolt upright, blue-green eyes darting around the room while actively ignoring an incoming headache. No matter how much she rubbed at her eyes and frantically searched around the place hoping for a sign that this was all a dream, all she found was more proof to suggest it wasn’t. The room she was in was very clearly not hers-- as evidenced by the 90’s band posters on the wall, the masculine clothes on the floor underneath her outfit from last night, the stray empty cans of seltzer, the medium-sized enclosure opposite the bed, and the photo on the wall of an annoyed-looking boy squished in between three older-looking girls. As her brain slowly caught up with her wakeful state, fragments of the past night slowly trickled into the young woman's hazy, foggy memory, piecing together the story of what had occured.

It was Karaoke Night at The Foggy Glass. A tall, handsome man with silky locks of dark hair, kind brown eyes and a charming smile approached her stool out of the blue. They had hit it off instantly-- shared drinks, laughter and spent time together being incredibly touchy-feely in a way that could easily get them confused with being a couple. They had left the bar on her bike and gone skinny dipping at Crystal Lake, where things had started to get so frisky they decided to take things back to his place. Heated kisses were exchanged behind the closed door… And now she was unclothed and hungover in this guy’s bed.

Or was it?


Trying to be as quiet as possible as to not disturb the date whose name she didn’t remember at the moment (all her hazy brain could recall was calling him by an assortment of cutesy pet names like baby, sweetie, boo bear, etc.), Noah slowly slid off the bed and tried to tiptoe to the bathroom. Doing the walk of shame was already going to be humiliating enough, so she figured the least she could do was try to wash away last night’s sins under a jet of warm water.

Warmth, haziness, comfort, mellow thoughts like a fog enveloping the mind. There was existence and yet there was not. Zeke could not remember the last time he slept so comfortably and yet was so lost to his slumber that it was barely a registered thought. He was simply at peace, until a buzzing tickled the back of his mind like an encroaching swarm of cicadas, thoughts suddenly screaming him back into reality.

“Master! Your concubine is attempting to escape your quarters!”

Zeke’s eyes shot open, abruptly and painfully with a sudden sting, a thousand hammers to anvils clashing against his brain simultaneously. Faster than he intended to, his body shot up in an attempt to lay into the annoying arachnid, “Fuck! Noah, what are you on about? Do you have any idea what time it is?” With an exasperated groan he flopped back into the bed, an arm over his eyes.

“Half the day has passed, Master. The sun is at its peak height.”

“Shit, you’re kidding me: it’s already noon?”

“This is what I proclaimed, yes.”

“Don’t you fucking sass me!”

“Master, I do not mean to interrupt, but what of the concubine?”

Sitting back up Zeke went to look towards the cage, “What are you talking about? What concu- oh…” only to be face to face with a hot, naked and shame-faced chick in his room. “Uhhhh…yo, what’s up?”

Noah had successfully made it halfway across the dorm room when the man on the bed suddenly bolted up into a seating position and began yelling at her about what time of day it was and about her 'sassing' him. The redhead had frozen on the spot as soon as she'd heard her name, confusion settling on her face while the guy seemingly had a conversation with her but with himself at the same time. His attention during the one-sided conversation had been directed somewhere behind her, and it freaked her out the longer it went on. She was starting to seriously question her choices from the previous night when her date's attention finally seemed to focus on her.

"Um, why were you yelling at me?" the young woman inquired with no time wasted, frowning at the man in bed. Sharp and straight to the point: just like she was. "I haven't made a sound since I woke up."

“Yelling at you? What are you talking about? I’m talking to the- wait, hold it, back it up. Why are you even in my room?” His eyes suddenly scanned her pale body up and down, “Like…I’m not complaining that there’s a naked girl in my room, but why and how?” As if reality suddenly hit him like a tsunami, so too did the hangover with it, “Shit, my head,” Flashes of the bar and people go through his mind, “Like did we do something last night?” Zeke tried racking his brain to find the answer, but the increasing pounding in his head wasn’t helping at all.

“I apologize, Master, but I regret to inform you that-”

His attention turned fully from the girl as he stared straight at the glass tank, “Dude, Noah, I love you like a brother, but I really don’t need your opinions rattling around in my brain like an 8-ball in the corner pocket.” He rubbed his temples gently, “Can you just…chill out and not talk until at least tonight? Please. Thank you.”

“As you wish.” With that the tarantula scuttled back into his den, dirt and sand kicking up at the entrance.

"See? You just did that thing again!" Noah cried out, clicking her tongue in exasperation while stretching an accusing hand towards the man on the bed whose name she still did not remember. She could feel her fiery temper start to flare up, fueled by her raging hangover. Was he trying to be funny? Play a prank on her? Because whatever it was, it was far from funny, and someone was going to get hurt if it went on any longer. "You started asking me about last night but then said you didn't need my opinions and wanted me to 'not talk until at least tonight' before I could say anything!"

“Noah! I’m talking to Noah, my tarantula. I don’t even know who you are, let alone why you’re in my room.” As if on cue, his memory returned to karaoke night at the bar last night. She was there singing and then there was some…douche. She left with Zeke instead of him. Suddenly remembering the first night sparked the rest of them: all the karaoke nights he’d attended at the bar during freshman year, she was always there, belting out some 80’s rock song like a true rock goddess. “Wait, I do remember you, from the bar…who…are you anyway?” Dumbfounded was probably the most accurate expression on his face right now, but better than pretending she’s a Sam when she’s actually a Megan.

His pet tarantula is called fucking Noah.

The Cypress girl's amused laughter at the absurdity of the situation soon filled the room. What were the odds that she'd meet someone with a pet who shared her first name? "Noah. My name is Noah too," she clarified in between giggles, pointing at herself in the chest while taking the short steps from the middle of the room to sit back down on the bed. Relief washed over her, and she was glad to find out that the start of this conversation was actually a misunderstanding and not her date from last night having some sort of psychiatric breakdown. While some people might have questioned the whole ‘talking to my pet tarantula’ thing, Noah knew to just go with it. Talking to animals wasn’t a power she hadn’t heard of before. "I'm in your room because we left the bar together last night. The specifics are kind of hazy at the moment, but maybe we can figure out what exactly happened together."

Despite the laughter echoing off the plain walls, rattling against his skull, it was oddly infectious and got Zeke cracking up at the weirdness this morning as well, “OH… Yeah, no, that’d confuse the hell out of anyone. Sorry about that.” He scratched the back of his head embarrassedly and took a moment to take her in. Dyed red hair flowing down to the middle of her back, tatted-up pale skin, near amazonian height and remnants of makeup and mascara faded into her beautiful face. She was certainly a sight, though he probably looked no better and realized at that moment he hadn’t even introduced himself. “Oh, uh, my name’s Zeke by the way,” he half turned on the bed to shake her hand, only for the sheet covering his lower half to fall away and expose his full glory to her. “Maybe we can figure this out after we get our clothes on?”

While Noah stood up and pretended to bashfully look away out of respect for her host, the glimpse she'd had at Zeke’s toned arms, chiseled chest and other precious goods had her smirking and mentally patting herself on the back. You go, girlie! Another excellent selection made! Because she didn't feel like going through the trouble of putting on her jeans, bra, tank top, etc, Noah slid on her underwear and looked around for something to borrow. Thankfully, Zeke appeared to be a few inches taller than her, so she was able to fish out a clean flannel shirt long enough to reach her thighs from the nearby pile of clothes, slide it on and button it just enough to keep it from falling off.

Discreetly watching Zeke out of the corner of her eye, Noah waited until he was finished getting dressed before turning around to face him. "There, fully covered and decent!" The young woman declared, occupying the spot she'd previously had on the bed by laying down on her side. "Now let's try to solve the mystery of last night together."

First confusion, then sudden realization as he hopped to his feet and slid on a pair of jeans, deftly latching the belt shut. She had on his clothes now and damn it all if she didn’t pull off the look just right. He found himself staring as she got comfortable on his bed. A few seconds of awkward silence before clearing his throat, “Right, so what happened last night?” He tried to recall the hazy events, “You were at the bar, karaoke night, some guy was trying to hit on you and I don’t think you were into it. I think I…stepped in and said I was your boyfriend?” Shit, that didn’t sound like him and yet…that’s what he remembered. It wasn’t like he was bold or daring-- he did a lot of his mischievous shit in the shadows or the corner of the room where no one bothered you. He remembered doing that, though. She looked pissed and could use a save and something in him just… “I was already about three drinks in at that point and I’m pretty sure you and I only drank more.”

Zeke's words helped the gears in Noah's mind start turning. Flashes of an unattractive, insufferable, kangaroo-looking man who hadn't stopped harassing her since she'd arrived at the bar came to the forefront, as did the urge she'd had to bust his skull open with a beer bottle before Zeke had stepped in like a heaven sent angel. "Right, yeah! You came over to my stool, wrapped your arm around me and asked if I had missed you while kissing the top of my head and calling me 'honeybee'," she said with a small cackle, remembering how she'd jumped at the life jacket Zeke had thrown in her direction. While Noah was perfectly capable of defending herself, she was adventurous and curious enough to follow the man's lead to see where it would take her. "We played a few rounds of pool, danced for a while, had a few more drinks and after I lost at darts you dared me to go skinny dipping at the lake… I think?"

Shit. They had gone swimming, right in the heart of the campus lake. Felt like they got there pretty quick, too. “I feel like we took someone’s bike to get there. Probably not the smartest, but I never claimed to be a smart person.”

"Yeahhhhh, that was my bike," Noah sheepishly admitted with a grimace. "It was pretty reckless of me to do that. I'm sorry," she apologized in earnest. "At least we made it back in one piece, though, right? So since we’re both safe and sound, let’s go back to the story…" she trailed off, feeling like she was missing something they'd done between arriving at the lake and leaping in with a loud shriek and their hands intertwined. "We went to the lake, jumped in, and…?" A faint memory of strawberry and THC smoke nudged her brain in the right direction. "Hold on… didn't we share a blunt and talk a lot of shit before we got high enough to dive in?"

Oh, yeah: they had. And that shit got him zooted, crossfaded; just fucked up. They had sat under a tree and just shot the shit. He’d gone on about how bees were essential to life, how he wished that some people didn’t just blame their shitty attitudes on `Sagittarius’ Mercury’s rings being in retrograde’ or some bull like that. He remembered feeling comfortable around her-- really opening up. Not ‘my sister is dead’ opened up, but pretty damn close to that. “Yeah we did. Shit was real fire, too.” a dumb grin plastered itself on his face, images of shotgunning smoke into each other’s lungs blasting trough his mind.

"Yeah, it was,” Noah agreed with a smile of her own, her mind momentarily on the same thing. She remembered listening to his tirades and hanging on to his every word, attracted by the passion and emotion with which he spoke of the topics and feeling safe and inspired to share more about herself. In return, she’d gone on a rant about her family’s ridiculous expectations for her, how she was pressured into pursuing a hero education under threat of being disinherited, how she felt like she could probably step up to the plate if she really tried but was scared of royally fucking up and being the one to blame for any lives lost… Which were topics she’d only spoken about with her sister and her closest friends.

It wasn’t long after their sensual smoke exchange that the two had jumped in the lake, though he didn’t remember the skinny dipping part. A quick scan of the floor revealed their attire from the previous night was indeed damp, “After that it was pretty cold and I said my dorm wasn’t too far away. We walked here and clearly things happened.” A dour thought crossed his mind as his stomach sank and he looked around the room for an empty wrapper or its used contents, “Might be kind of bad timing, but you’re not on birth control, are you? I…don’t remember if we used a..and if we had sex-”

“You did not consummate your union with the concubine, Master.”

His head whipped around, “I’m sorry, what? You’re saying we didn’t-”

“You were belligerent, loud, and frankly obnoxious, but you both removed your soaked attire and laid yourselves to rest.”

“Oof, fuck that’s a relief, Noah says we didn’t do it…” Initially there was excitement, but then his face soured, “That’s honestly kind of fucking disappointing…what the hell was the point of waking up naked even?”

"Awwww, that's bullshit!" Noah Cypresses lamented, falling backwards on the bed and regretting her decision when her head started throbbing. "We went through all that and we didn't even do anything?!" A part of Noah was indignant that they hadn't sealed their deal. But in all honesty, the other part was relieved they hadn't. She would've found it embarrassing if they had gone all the way after a night like theirs only to not even remember the guy's name the day after. "I'm guessing the clothes went off because we jumped in with them, they were soaked to hell and we weren't going to die of hypothermia or wreck your mattress by sleeping with them on?"

“Her assessment is accurate, Master. I’m impressed: you actually brought one to your abode that possesses an intellect, nor drivels incessantly about tic-toc-toes.”

Zeke shot a quick glare over to the enclosure before returning it back to Noah the human, “Yeah, that sounds about right. I’m just impressed we even thought that far ahead.”

"For real, though,” Noah agreed with a giggle, surprised that they’d been capable of making such an intelligent decision considering all the questionable ones they had made until that point.

The real question for Zeke now was, what next? Sure, they figured out how they got there, but not where they were going. Well, was that even a thought, really? I mean, sure: he helped her out of a bind, and from what he could tell they had fun, but not ‘fun’. So what did that mean? She was pretty-- hell, stunning, even-- and she spent the night naked in his room. Maybe it was time for a vibe check?

“So what now? I mean, we had a good time, even if we don’t fully remember it. Didn’t have sex, but that’s not a bad thing I think.” Zeke sat down on the bed next to her, his weight creaking the springs underneath slightly.

Huh. Looks like she wasn’t the only one thinking that a blackout hookup wouldn’t have been the wisest of choices. "I don’t think so either. I would’ve hated myself if you gave me the best ride of my life and I couldn’t even remember it,” Noah teased with a knowing smirk and a playful laugh.

“Call me crazy, but… I don’t think I’d mind another night like last night. Maybe less alcohol so I remember, but that’s just my opinion.” His head turned to look at her, his eyes raised in questioning anticipation.

Noah’s blue-green eyes lit up with delight. Since her break-up with Damon Day, most of her interactions had been meeting people at the bar, hooking up with them if they were interested and attracted enough to each other, and saying goodbye without a second thought. Going far enough to share deep conversations, spend time together the morning after and make plans for a future date hadn’t been something she’d done in what felt like forever. It was… Pretty exciting, actually. “I wouldn’t mind it either,” she confessed with a gleeful grin. “I haven’t laughed this much or had this much fun in a long while.”

“Right? I know what you mean, and I think we could have more… You heard about that party at Elysium tonight, right?”

"I sure did,” Noah answered, a giddy feeling settling inside of her as she quickly realized where this conversation was going but waiting to see what it would lead to.

“So lemme paint you a picture.” He bounced to his feet and clapped his hands together before laying it all out on her like some powerpoint, while Noah sat up and posed with her fingers intertwined like a CEO about to listen to the world’s most important business proposal. “You, me, your bike, seven o’clock, party it up, dance tonight and then we dance tonight.” He emphasized the last bit with a few swings of his hips from side to side before thrusting forward. “Think you can handle it?”

The Cypress girl tried hard to keep a straight face throughout his demonstration, going as far as to press her lips together tightly to avoid breaking character but ultimately succumbing to a fit of laughter. "I don’t know, those moves of yours seem preeeeeeetty steamy. I don’t know if I’ll be able to control myself around you,” she joked after she’d recovered, batting her eyelashes and biting her lower lip with playful, fake concern.

Zeke laughed and clapped his hands together again before breaking out into another dance, throwing in a few exaggerated hip swings just to be extra ‘cheesy’. He was rewarded with another round of loud laughter from Noah. “Damn girl, if you’re impressed now, you should see the things I’ll do in public.” He spun around and flopped back onto the bed, arms spread out like a bird, “Come on, if nothing else, going out with me is just a guarantee that you won’t get hit on by any other limp dick, shit swizzlers out there.”

Noah raised her eyebrows in amusement. "Because I’m the frail damsel in distress and you’re the intimidating bodyguard that needs to keep her safe from all the big, bad, limped-dicked, shit-swizzling wolves out there?” the redhead teased, laying back down on her side next to Zeke and draping one of her legs over his.

“Actually it’s ‘cause you're a tigress on the hill and all the other big cats want a piece of you. If anything, you’re the intimidating one.” Zeke reciprocated by moving his hand to latch onto hers, “As for me, I’m more of a…fly on the wall if you will.”

"A tigress?” Noah repeated with an amused smile. “I haven’t heard that one before. I’ll give you… Ten brownie points for originality,” she announced with a chuckle. “As for you, though… I guess even the fly on the wall gets all the attention if it buzzes close enough to the predator, right?” the woman asked teasingly, shooting Zeke a complicit wink as she shifted around one more to rest her chest on his and lock their eyes together.

“True,” Zeke smirked, “And yet the tigress hasn’t swatted the fly away, which maybe makes me that she likes him just enough not to eat him alive…yet.” He shifted his eyebrows suggestively.

Noah’s smirk and suggestive eyebrows matched Zeke’s and his energy. It was clear that, just like when they’d first exchanged words back at the bar, they were in sync with one another--and right now, they were both thinking the same thing. The question was, who would make the final move in this game of chess?

"Be careful what you wish for…” she warned in a low, sultry tone, slowly inching her face closer to Zeke’s.

“Careful was almost my middle name, but that’s a lie,” his eyes locked on target, “Too bad this isn’t.” His free hand helped bridge the gap between their lips as he pulled her head towards his. Contact made, sparks flying and bees buzzing, he moved his hand away to let the two catch their breath, “So will I see you tonight?”

The redhead nodded in definitive confirmation. “Absolutely,” she breathed out, staring at Zeke’s face for a moment before locking her lips with his again in another passionate kiss.

“Master, may I remind you that the sun has reached its apex and that you are missing the fair that was scheduled on your yearly curriculum. May I also remind you how much I have expressly shown my detestment for your mating rituals with your concubines.”

As annoying as the tarantula was being, he did make a valid point, as he had completely forgotten about the fair today. He was really enjoying this too, but he had to pull away from it. “Yo, so… there’s that fair today too. Don’t suppose we should at least check that out first? Plus I think my spider has had enough of our shit.”

The fair...

SHIT! Noah cried out, bolting upright and away from Zeke. With rising panic, the redhead frantically searched around the room for her purse, found it near Other Noah’s enclosure, and pulled out her cellphone. The battery was almost at the end of its life, and the screen not only read twenty seven minutes past noon, but also alerted her of plenty of missed calls and text messages from the same contact: Little LuLu.

“Shit!” The young woman let out a shriek, resisting the urge to smack her palm against her forehead. “Shitshitshitshitshit!” She quickly began to gather her belongings and zip up her boots while remaining dressed with Zeke’s flannel (her clothes were still damp from the past night’s shenanigans). “I was supposed to meet my little sister at the quad at noon today so we could go to that fair together but I totally forgot about it,” she explained, running her hands through her flaming locks in an attempt to make them presentable.

Suddenly, she remembered a part of their earlier conversation and wanted to scream. “And now I have to walk all the way to the lake to get my bike, which will make me get there even later.” Noah lamented, letting out a frustrated groan. Her custom orange Harley Davidson Fatboy had been a birthday present from her parents earlier that year. If any harm had come to it, she would be heartbroken-- not to mention that her parents would probably cut her off.

Her sudden outburst caught him a bit off guard, but that was probably how she felt when he started freaking out randomly. “Well hey, listen,” Zeke slid off the bed and started sifting through the piles of clothes to find at least a halfway decent shirt and hoodie, “I get it, shit didn’t go the way you expected it to and there’s no use beating yourself up over it. Why don’t I come with you to find your bike? Knowing what we did last night it could take a bit to find it and if nothing else I could always ask the locals if they’ve seen it.”

Just as Zeke spoke, Noah was graced with yet another piece of the last night’s puzzle. “I know where it is!” she declared, grinning in jubilant relief. With the use of her earthly powers, she had left her bike and the matching helmets buried underneath the tree they’d shared the blunt at. Thank God that even under the influence of herbs and alcohol she made some smart decisions. “I can give you a ride to the Academy if you still want to come with me.”

“Fuck it, let’s roll on out,” he grabbed his few belongings, phone, wallet, ‘pen’, essentials and followed the redhead by the hand out his dorm room.

Left alone to silence, Noah Weaver breathed his own sigh of relief. “Finally… Some peace…”
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In Edenridge 26 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay

A @Venus, @LovelyComplex, @metanoia and @Aces Away Collaboration
Featuring Natalia Belmonte, Poppy James, Jade Taylor & Mordechai Boaz

The sound of knocks on her door coaxed the sleeping Natalia into a state of half-wakefulness. After an early breakfast with her father and some invaluable time spent with him and her mother, the fifth Belmonte had retreated to her bedroom in search of the sleep that had eluded her the night before. Thankfully, a lighter conscience and a full stomach proved to be helpful in her quest, and less than five minutes after her head had hit the pillow, Tal had drifted off to Dream Land. She had expected to be out cold until dinner time at the earliest, waking up just long enough to share another meal with whoever was at the house before returning to her bedroom for what she hoped was more sleep. Her plans, however, were thwarted by whoever was currently requesting entry into her chambers.

It took a long few seconds for the lethargic brunette to muster up enough strength to slowly pull herself into a seating position, and another moment until she was able to rise from her bed and trudge to the door. After a few attempts, the young woman was finally able to unlock the knob, turn it and swing the door open to reveal her visitors.

A mixture of surprise and confusion rendered Natalia speechless for a moment. “Heyyyyyyy,” Natalia mumbled, the sleep still thick in her voice as she squinted in surprise and confusion at the faces standing in front of her. Why would Mordechai Boaz, Jade Taylor and Poppy James be at her house? What could have possibly brought three of the most Southie classmates she had not only to the Northside, but to be standing outside her bedroom?

“Mind if we just—” Natalia was a friend of Charlie’s, which meant that she would get the Penelope treatment. That was: Poppy would welcome herself in, regardless of how the person felt, regardless if they wanted her to, and regardless of the vibe. This was what she did and if Charlie trusted the Queen Bee, Penelope would learn to do the same. There was no room for sadness. She was healing or trying to at least. “—I’m just going to squeeze, yeah. There we go.” Poppy had slipped past the groggy Natalia and was now standing in her room, looking at the size and all the things of comfort and leisure. She whistled, impressed, “Nice room you got. Smells like Cotton Candy. Like a lot of it, but hey nothing wrong with sweet things.”

"Thanks,” Natalia muttered, gesturing for Jade and Decky to enter her room before closing the door behind them. When she looked back at the state of her bedroom, she mentally grimaced. In better circumstances, her parents would have given her an earful for allowing guests entry to the premises when they were in such a state. With its disheveled sheets atop the bed, items of clothing strewn about, candy wrappers, bags of chips, empty water bottles and soda cans littering the floor, the room was nothing short of an absolute mess. At least it didn’t stink, though, according to Poppy’s observation. Tal would never forgive herself if she let any foul odors invade her room. "The, uh, the cotton candy smell. That’s from my vape," she explained, making her way to the desk chair in the corner of her room and taking a seat.

Natalia sat in silence for a long moment, staring at the Southies’s faces again while trying to figure out whether this was a fever dream, a bad trip from mixing up the weed and her pills, or real life. The pain from a quick pinch to the palm of her hand coincided with the latter, but there was only one way to make sure she truly wasn’t hallucinating. “I don’t mean to be rude, but, uh, what are you guys doing here?”

The Angel Princess helped herself, almost mimicking Poppy as she looked around the room, completely ignoring Natalia’s question for the time being. One thing she picked up on was the amount of trash all over the floor. She didn’t know what to expect from the former Queen Bee of their graduating class, but it certainly wasn’t this. Almost reminded her of how her apartment looked. Not as many snacks, mind you and with more evidence of the remnants of nose candy, but it felt familiar.

“You look like shit.” Jade bluntly observed, while the Northie gave her a knowing half-smile and said nothing.

She could tell when someone wasn’t well. She wasn’t well. If the room was any indication, Jade, out of anyone, could understand that. She spent so long in her own self-pity, only coming out of her hibernation for work, shopping, and her weekly Sunday meet-ups with Anya. Other than that, Jade had no contact with anyone. Not her family. Not her club. Not even the two who were in the queen bee’s room with her. She didn’t know if Natalia was cut from the same cloth, but the amount of empty wrappers and other assorted trash hinted at anything, Jade would put her money on it that she was.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to say that so..bluntly. Guess I’m the rude one now. Anyway, we’re here for…uh, well I’m not even sure how to put it…” Jade looked between Key and Poppy. Maybe one of them should bring it up. Jade neither had been around long enough to be entitled to put it out there nor the state of mind to phrase it in a way that didn’t make her seem insensitive. She didn’t understand it fully herself and that might only make things worse.

Poppy could bring the quest to find Charlie’s sister up but she’d already put in so much effort gathering her two friends and making her way to Scott Street. Plus, from the looks of it, her and Jade weren’t the best at this whole introduction thing. It was a weird situation to seek someone from your class out that you barely knew to see if she’d want to tag along and drive. So instead, Poppy nudged Mordechai to speak up by roughly pressing her elbow to his side. She looked at him and her eyes said it all: Tag, you’re it.

There was an air of anxiousness coming from the three Southies. It was all over the way they fidgeted around the room, how they seemed to hesitate before they spoke, and how they were trying to measure their words. Their demeanor made Natalia uneasy, adding to the nerves she already had at being this close to Poppy James in a room she and Charlie Decker had been together in. It wasn't long before Tal found herself tapping her foot against the floor, wishing her visitors would just up and say what they needed instead of letting this nail-biting anticipation grow any longer.

"Shit, did something happen to Creed or Jokes?" Natalia blurted out as the scary thought came to her, searching the Southies' faces for answers. "Or Momma Kam or Mika? Because if that's what's going on then all I need is five seconds to change clothes and we're out the door," she told them, pointing at the door with her thumb.

Mordechai had grunted at Poppy's elbowing him and glared at her from the corner of his eye. Yeah, he got that she was pissed at him, but why the fuck did he have to take the lead?! He's only been slightly more active than Jade this past month plus, not to say anything of the past two years. He'd been zoning out since they walked in the room, eyes trailing blankly over Natalia's slow attempt to turn her bedroom into a drug den the Southside would be proud of. The sober part of him itched to clean the place up just as strongly as the part of him that will always be a junkie itched to ask what she had.

"I got it," he growled at Poppy, the current environment causing him irritation that bled into his tone. He took a breath and closed his eyes to settle himself before opening them to train them on his old kind-of-friend. "Everyone's fine as far as I know, but I've only really seen Mika. That's not why we're here," he kept his hands securely in his pockets, eyes on Natalia so they don't stray to the mess around the room and give her the mistaken notion that he was judging her. He was just feeling empathy for the faded and unfocused gaze behind the mild panic in her eyes. "Look, we gotta go ta Blue Hill for Hard Times' sister, apparently, and Rhonda Decker named ya as an old friend of his and suggested we ask ya for a ride, so here we are."

There, the need to know, short and sweet. Or, well, extremely bitter given that Mordechai hadn't had to be any type of front man since the day he left Edenridge and so far he'd led both conversations that were likely to be met with hostility. The joke earlier that morning about testing his sobriety early was becoming less and less of a joke as the day crawled by, and all the references to those he left behind and neglected for the past two years were grating on his already frayed nerves, sue him.

What did he just say?

It took a few seconds for the words to reach Natalia's ears, and a few more seconds after that for them to fully sink in. The leg that had been nervously tapping the floor suddenly stopped as her body tensed up, and her blue eyes widened with panic.

"We gotta go ta Blue Hill for Hard Times' sister… And Rhonda Decker named ya as an old friend of his..."

There were plenty of alarming implications in the statement Mordechai had just said. Firstly: Charlie Decker had a long-lost sister, which meant that there was another person out there besides whoever had the diary that could potentially know about her tryst with the deceased school outcast. Secondly: she had been handpicked by Charlie's mother Rhonda to go on this ‘retrieve the mystery sister at the reservation’ quest, which meant there was a chance that she also knew about hers and her son’s involvement. And thirdly and most terrifying of all, going on this trip could mean that her secret would be revealed to the one person it could rip apart the most.


Without a word, Natalia sprung up from her chair, snatched the vape from her nightstand and began to pace around the room, taking repeated pulls from the device and exhaling clouds of cotton candy cannabis vapor into the air. Her mind was racing a million miles a minute, trying to come up with a way to avoid being a part of this excursion. "Are you all sure it's me she wants to go with you guys? Like, she isn't confusing me with someone else?" she asked the trio, knowing full well it was a long shot but deciding to shoot it anyway. They wouldn't have come all the way to her house if they weren't sure Rhonda was talking about her.

"Yeah, Puff," Mordechai replied, hands curling into fists in his pockets and the biting sarcasm and impatience bled into his tone. "We schlepped our asses all the way up ta the pinnacle of Northie privilege on a guess. Of course we're fuckin' sure."

“Rhonda wouldn’t lie,” Penelope assured, hooking herself onto Jade’s arm in the process as she observed Natalia smoke, “We aren’t going to force you, we just thought hey, since you knew Charlie, maybe you’d like to tag along?” And perhaps, drive us. “She’s just worried, I guess.” No, she didn’t guess, she knew.

Natalia merely nodded, carrying on with her frantic pacing as her hands began to shake. Why would Rhonda Decker be worried about her if she didn't know her connection to Charlie? This basically confirmed that she knew about it, right? And if she knew about it, had she told anyone else-- like this sister, perhaps?

Sighing to herself as she thought of everything Rhonda told her this morning, Poppy offered, “If not for us, consider Charlie’s sister. The culprit of the letters threatened her… I just want to know she’s okay. And if you don’t want to come, that’s fine. We’ll call a lyft or something, but we thought we’d attempt at least. Sorry, though, if this ruined your day.”

Hearing both Key and Poppy essentially trying to convince Natalia this was true stung Jade a little bit. Actually, if she was honest with herself, it stung a lot. Her own fault, of course. She was out of the loop on a lot of things and had a lot of bridges to attend to and this was the first of them, but she knew it wasn’t going to be an easy set of tasks. She still didn’t know where she stood with Poppy or Key. Maybe a bit better with Key than Poppy. She actually talked to Key.

Jade let out a sigh, quickly smiling at Poppy who had a hold of her arm and turned her blue eyes on the smoke machine. “Natalia, you’re connected to Charlie, aren’t you? That means you’re part of this.” Again, Jade didn’t feel like mincing words for anyone’s sake.

Natalia refused to answer that question. Instead, the Belmonte girl ran a hand through her dark locks, avoiding looking at her guests while her chest rose and fell rapidly. There was no way she was getting out of this one, wasn't it? As much as she had stopped caring about what people's opinions on her were, this was one of the very few times in which perception was everything. If Tal refused to go with the Southies, she would potentially be opening the door to a more aggressive line of questioning regarding her involvement with Charlie at a time in which she didn't feel ready to admit culpability. But on the other hand, was this supposed trip to Blue Hill a way for Charlie's friends and the girl who loved him to ambush her into confessing her sins and receiving due punishment? Or was her fourteen-day isolation and crushing guilt making her paranoid?

For Natalia, it felt like the walls were closing in on her, and all she wanted to do was fucking cry.

But she still had to make a choice.

After walking to the furthest corner of the room and taking some time to blink away the anxious tears and compose herself, Tal squared her shoulders and returned to the Southies. "Hypothetically speaking, how long do you guys expect this trip to take?" she asked them, once again taking a seat on her desk chair.

“The reservation isn’t that far, an hour, give or take, I think? But a storm is coming, so we might need to stay the night. I looked up the weather report and it won’t be raining over there, just here BUT,” Penelope raised her finger with her free hand, the one that wasn’t holding onto Jade, to emphasize her point about the severity of the storm, “I imagine the roads will be washed out a bit, and now that I’ve said all of this outloud I realized I did not pack a change of clothes.”

Mordechai looked over at the large backpack Poppy had on, the thing that had gotten her stuck in the window this morning, and couldn't stop the disturbed look that crossed his face. His own backpack itself was light on his shoulders with two changes of clothes and some snacks, even if his person was weighed down by various weapons. He had cash in his back wallet and tucked away in one of his boots and his shit was still less bulky than her bag. "What the fuck do ya have in that thing, then?"

“What else do you pack on a road trip? A book, of course, and snacks, duh. I already knew what you were packing, so I decided on my good ol’ trusty slingshot!” While Poppy was talking, she released Jade from her hold and unzipped her backpack. Truth be told there was more empty space than not in there. She should’ve packed some clothes but after her talk with Rhonda, and then her phone call with Jade, she was ready to go. “And we can’t forget Rhonda’s cookies. We love Rhonda’s cookies.” The James’ girl beamed as she revealed the sugary goodness (safe and secure in a zip lock bag). It was peanut butter. Her favorite.

"So one night? That's all you need me for?" Natalia asked the Southies, shifting the conversation back to the matter at hand while wanting to make sure she got all the details before accepting or declining anything.

Mordechai nodded to the disheveled woman, back on track after her words and temper back to short and snippy. "Yeah, far as I'm aware. Gettin' this far north is a task in an' of itself when none of us have a car, so there's no way we could get ta Blue Hill on foot like this. So you, your car, probably a night on the Rez. I don't really care about anythin' else right now," his shoulders had tensed once more and his eyes darted to her pill bottles on her nightstand before he forcibly focused them back to her. "I just want an answer so we can know if we need ta plan B this shit."

Damn, Mordechai. Why so serious? If they wanted to convince Natalia, they had to ease her into all these half truths that even Poppy didn’t fully believe in. All the secrets that Charlie didn’t share with her. Lifting up the goods, Penelope leisurely and lazily shook it in the air and smiled, “We got cooooooooookiessss.” Lure the stoner with sweets, yes. This was the way.

Goddamn it… Natalia hadn't expected Poppy James to be so damn sweet. Her cute, comical attempt at convincing Tal to go on their trip when all she could think about was how betrayed she would feel if the secret came out made the guilt on her shoulders grow heavier, and the thought of spending time in close quarters made her nervous.

But as Natalia mulled over the situation some more, a realization came to her: she needed to accept the invitation. Not out of guilt for what she had done or curiosity about this long-lost sister, but out of self-preservation. How else would she find out what Charlie's sister knew? How could she try to control any potential narratives disclosed at Blue Hill if she wasn't around?

There was only one way to do so, and it involved her presence at the destination.

Letting out a deep breath, Natalia stood up and looked the Southies in the eye for the first time since they'd arrive at her doorstep. "Alright. One night at Blue Hill and that’s it," she declared, walking over to her closet to start packing an overnight bag. "But if we're using my car and I'm the one driving, then I'm the one choosing the music," she warned, narrowing her eyes at them before giving them a tentative half-smile.

“As long as it’s not Disney, I don’t care if you put on Mozart’s 7th Symphony,” Jade said, clearly still haunted by the hell they all had to endure on the way here.

"Not Disney, but... I really hope you guys like Billie Eilish."
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