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Persona: Philosophy of Man [IC/PG-16/No Longer Accepting]

A Dad RP Fantasy Slice of Life Action Co-hosted by Saiku

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#21
Hi I'm Dad

Hi I'm Dad

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Evening

Beneath the Mask

 

       Paul let out a groan as he sat on the edge of his bed.  He had just gotten out of the shower after dinner and was putting his clothes away for the day.  He emptied his pockets from today and the crystal ball rolled out of his pants pocket and onto his bed.  He tossed today's jeans into his hamper before sitting on his bed with the crystal ball loose in the palm of his hands.  He observed it carefully, holding it up to the light in his room and peering into the crystal and its flame.  No matter which way he turned the crystal, the flame remained right-side up.  However, Paul noticed that when he turned the crystal at a very obscure angle and looked at the flame from the top down, he could see an engraving in the crystal ball.  It was some type of flower that he wasn't familiar with.  Out of curiosity, Paul took his phone from his bedside table and snapped a picture of the crystal ball's engraving.

 

He tucked the crystal ball beneath his pillow and began to dig for information on this flower.  

 

"Paul.  Psst.  Paulie!" came a soft, young voice.  It was Ann at his door.  

 

"What's up?" Paul asked with a smile.

 

She charged into his room and leaped onto his bed.  Her pink pajamas ruffled as she jumped and plopped down beside Paul.  "Whatcha want for your birthday?" she teased.

 

Paul pat his younger sister on the head.  "Ah, I don't want anything, sis.  As long as I got you and mom, I don't need anything else."

 

Ann rolled her eyes.  "That's boring.  Don't you want a cool toy?"

 

Paul looked around his room at his gaming consoles, then back to Ann.  "I've got enough toys," he laughed.  

 

"What abouuuuuuuut--a puppy!?" she squeaked.

 

"I've got enough responsibilities," Paul said, shaking his head.  

 

"Aww.  Okay.  If you change your mind, mom wants to get you something," Ann said hugging her older brother tightly.

 

"Aight sis.  I'll let mom know.  Now get to bed."  He kissed Ann on her forehead and hugged her.  "Goodnight, shrimp."

 

Ann pinched Paul's leg before darting out of his room.  "I'm a crab!" she screamed, giggling all the way to her room.

 

Paul went back to his phone and continued digging for information on the flower.  When he found it, Paul was sure that it was the same flower engraved on the crystal ball.  "The Lotus," he recited.  "A beautiful flower representing rebirth.  Huh."  Paul looked for other images of the lotus flower but they were all the same in description and depiction.  But he didn't understand the symbolism behind it or why it was engraved on the crystal ball.  He pulled the crystal ball from beneath his pillow and examined it again.  The Lotus sparkled and Paul had to stop looking at it rub his eyes.  Paul sighed and got up from his bed to close his door.  He went back over to his bed and took his lockbox from beneath it.  He rolled the tumbler until the combination was accepted, then opened the lockbox and put the crystal ball inside.  He carefully closed it and slid the lockbox back under his bed.  This time he could be sure it was safe at home and not on his person.

 

But what did it all mean?  This was the same crystal ball from his dream.  Objects didn't just jump out of your imagination!  So how on earth did it get to his room?  He had to do more research during the day.  Hopefully, looking at the crystal ball for too long wouldn't affect his dreams.  Paul turned off his bedside lamp and sat on the edge of his bed.  "I should get to bed..." he thought.  Paul turned over and pulled his blanket and sheet over him.  For some reason, he felt completely exhausted, despite not taking part in any major physical activities today.  His eyes felt heavy and his pillow felt cool.  In a matter of minutes, Paul drifted off to sleep.

 

 

...

...

...

...

 

"Wha--" he was here again.  Paul awoke on a cold metal slab with shackles around his hands and feet.  He was wearing a prisoner's uniform and had been placed in a cell.  He approached his cell door and placed his hands on the cold steel bars.  At the center of the room, a man with an obscenely long nose, wild white hair, and a strange but convincing unibrow sat with his hands folded under his chin at a fancy wooden desk.  His white gloves suggested he wasn't a prison warden, but a businessman.  His suit was a dusty gray and his tie was a dark black.  On the desk was a quill and ink with neatly stacked parchment before the strange man.

 

"Hey.  Hey!  Hey, where am I!?" Paul barked from his cell.

 

A slam came from Paul's cell as a new face appeared before him out of thin air.  Paul fell back out of shock and onto the hard floor.  A tall, dark-skinned man rippled with muscle and dressed in a velvet blue vest-suit had slammed a billy-club against Paul's cell door.  The tall man's dark green eyes frightened Paul, enough that he scrambled backward to the edge of his cell.  He was completely bald but had a fine goatee around his mouth and chin.  The tall man tugged on his vest just slightly as he spoke to Paul.  "You do not address the master until he addresses you."  His voice was deep and cold without an ounce of care behind it.

 

Paul remained silent as the large man stepped to the side and the other older gentleman in the center of the room finally spoke to Paul.

 

"Welcome, Paul.  My name is Igor.  And this is the Velvet Room."

 

The Poem of Everyone's Souls

 

"The... Velvet Room?" Paul asked.  He approached his cell door again.  It was the same room he had been in before.  There was a chandelier hanging from the ceiling and it illuminated the velvet brick that made up the walls of every cell.  "Why--why am I here?" Paul inquired.

 

"You will soon be thrust into a world with which you have no control," Igor replied.  "And it is in this world that you will find great danger and peril.  These dangers, no matter how false they appear, are very real, Paul.  They represent pieces of a coming ruin.  And only by the strength of your soul can you prevent this ruin from destroying your world."

 

Paul stared blankly at Igor.  "Ruin?  My soul?  My world?  What the hell are you talking about?" Paul asked again.

 

"Through your time, in reality, you will make many allies and enemies.  It is important that you use these bonds to strengthen your soul and unlock new power.  You cannot go on this journey alone, Paul."

 

Paul shook his head.  "I don't understand.  What are you asking me to do?  And why am I in prison?  I want answers," Paul demanded.

 

"You are not yet ready to commence your journey.  But soon, you will take on the power of the Lotus Crystal and you will discover what lies before you.  Whether or not you choose to save your world has yet to be seen," Igor replied.

 

Paul took a step back from his cell door and looked down at his hands then back up to Igor.  "We'll have to see then."

 

The large dark-skinned man appeared before Paul again, tightly holding his billy-club.  "Sleep, Inmate.  You must prepare for your journey."

 

By the large man's command, Paul suddenly felt exhausted again and couldn't help but climb back onto his slab of metal and drift off to sleep once more.

 

 

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Thursday

Early Morning

Beneath the Mask

 

Paul awoke the next morning having slept surprisingly well, despite his overly vivid dream.  He jumped out of bed, brushed his teeth, washed his face, had breakfast, and scrambled out of the door to get to school.  He had to see Mr. Baker immediately.  

 

 

Lunch Time

 

Paul made his way to the counselor's office immediately.  Mr. Baker had been waiting for him and allowed Paul in right away.  

 

"...and that's the whole dream.  I remember every word of it.  But I know for sure this was the same room.  Without a doubt."

 

Mr. Baker shook his head.  "This is... well, Paul.  This is one of the most bizarre cases I've ever heard if I can be honest with you.  A Velvet Room?  Being a prisoner?  A big-nosed man named Igor?  I thought we may have made some headway, but this information concerns me."

 

Paul sighed.  He thought he knew what was coming next.

 

"Let's keep this between you and me.  If it continues to develop, we may need to seek help elsewhere.  However, I don't want to jump to that conclusion right away.  For now, I want you to keep your promise to me and stay away from anything strenuous.  Understand?" Mr. Baker asked.

 

Paul nodded.

 

"Okay.  The second block is starting soon.  Hurry out of here and get to class."

 

 

Afternoon

 

Paul's third period, Physics, paired him with some new faces.  They included a new student who joined the "Dedicated Fiction" club yesterday, Haruka, and another face he didn't recognize, Reno.  He'd heard Reno's name before, but Paul didn't know much about the guy.  Since Haruka was in the same club as he was, Paul was happy to see a familiar face.  He didn't want to pester her just yet, so he simply took notes in class as Professor Young went over the semester's goal and how he intended to teach his students "step-by-step".  Nothing too interesting happened, and Paul simply kept to himself.

 

 

Piper's third period landed her in P.E. with Coach Overton. She would wind up in the same class with not-so-popular student Jason Garrett and moderately well known bad boy Tyler Beckett.  Boys were assigned to team building exercises today, which, unfortunately, included basketball.  There were 8 boys and 12 girls total in this P.E. class.  Boys were divided into teams of four and girls were divided into teams of six.  Girls would participate in volleyball today.  The class was not lengthy, lasting only 45 minutes.  This left the P.E. class with an additional 45 minutes of free time before the next bell.

 

 

Avery would share the third period with Quinn in English II with Professor Langston.  He was a bit of a hard-ass but he was a damn good teacher.  Having written and published several books, Professor Langston was one of the most well-accomplished teachers on G.O.H.'s staff.

 

As he explained his lesson plan for the semester, Langston was interrupted by a school announcement.

 

"Attention students.  Clubs will be available for sign-up again today after school.  Club sign-ups will close on Monday, September 3rd, so be sure to join and create clubs while you can!"

 

 

 


  • Interact with your classmates.
  • [OPTIONAL] Join a club.
  • [OPTIONAL] Attend a club meeting.

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#22
Chaos Sonic

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One's Home is Their Castle

Evening

Light Rain

 

-Yesterday-

 

Jason decided to head back home after class. Between going between each club and doing his best to avoid Coach Overton the entire time, he thought it best to just go back home and get through the evening.

 

Not like he wanted to go back home though. Only one really he enjoyed talking to was Alice. Both of his foster parents were...well...real pieces of work in his mind. But luckily for him, it seemed like they weren't home, least it showed with one vehicle not there in the driveway. Guess there really is a God in heaven...

 

"Alice...I'm home." Jason announced, closing the door behind him and shedding his wet jacket before putting it up on the coat rack.

 

"Oh, hey Jase!" Alice said, poking her head from the kitchen. "Mom and dad said they'd be a little late getting home tonight. So I'm cooking dinner for us tonight."

 

"Fine by me." Jason shrugged, making his way to the kitchen, sighing as he sat down at the table. "...still hate me."

 

"Really? They still...? Good grief." Alice sighed, shaking her head. "Honestly! Dumb childish buffoons. Look Jase, don't let it get you down. Things will go back to normal for you in no time! I promise you that!"

 

Easy for you to say... Jason thought, crossing his arms and laying his head down on them. "Also, thought about joining some clubs today...unfortunately they didn't have any I wanted to join."

 

"What was there?"

 

"Kendo, Video Game, Chess, Automotive, Swimming, a Fiction or literature club of some sorts, Drama, and IT." Jason rattled off some. "And you can guess why I didn't wanna choose drama."

 

Alice nodded, turning off the stove and moving towards the table and setting down a few plates. "Fair enough. But, how bout the video game club?" she asked, causing Jason to give her a small reaction. "C'mon Jase! I've seen you playing the sports games on your game systems and computers. Heck, there was even that RPG game you played. So maybe that could be some help for you."

 

Jason looked at Alice, sitting up as he started eating and took some time to think about the possibility of joining the Video Game Club. After a moment, he nodded. "Ya know what...I think I will. Thanks Alice."

 

"Heh, no thanks necessary!" Alice giggled with a smile. "Just making sure my little brother is taken care of. Believe me, you're capable of anything you set your mind to, Jase! Now make sure you get some rest for tomorrow after dinner. Don't need you to be dragging out of bed like this morning."

 

"Oh jeez, you ruined my plan!" Jason laughed before waving his hand dismissively. "No worries, sis. I'll be going straight to bed after this."

 

The evening carried out between the two just talking and carrying on. Though by the time Jason's foster parents got home, he was already sleep and snoring away.

 

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Shoot the Basket First...Ask Questions Later

Thursday

Afternoon

 

Class started off alright this day, Jason was attentive and focused in his studies like he was hoping and expecting to be. And his plan to join the Video Game club was definitely going to be put into action after school today. But then he looked at his schedule again today...

 

Next is P.E....Shit... Jason thought, running a hand through his hair. This was one thing he was dreading, but he only shook off the feeling before sighing slowly. Don't let it get to you...don't let them get to you...

 

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Jason stood near the doors to get into the gym for P.E., not exactly ready to do this, but he really didn't need to skip this class. He WAS graded on this stuff, so he needed to.

 

He slowly opened the doors and made his way into the room. Immediately, the laughter and talking that filled the room were replaced with murmurs. The looks Jason got almost made him feel like he was walking into Death Row. So many of the whispers and murmurs he couldn't make out, but the bulk of them sounded like: "Damn, it's Garrett...".

 

Great...they make it sound like I have the Plague...or Ebola... he thought with a small sigh.

 

The moment he got up to the area where his group was, he watched and listened to Coach Overton explain and split the team. Jason's consisted of himself, Tyler Beckett, Nathaniel, and Kendrick. Tyler...oh boy it was THAT guy. He almost wanted to skip class now. If he remembered it was THAT Tyler, then maybe he would've just stayed out of it. Nevertheless, the game was to 21 points. And right now, they needed a plan to do something.

 

"O-Okay..." Jason cleared his throat, looking at Nathaniel, Kendrick, and Tyler. "I need to know...w-which positions are you guys going to play?" He felt nervous right now. Was it because there was another P.E. group with their students watching? Was it that he had the eyes of Coach Overton almost piercing through his soul, watching him? He couldn't be 100% sure.

 

"Center..." Jason looked over at Tyler, hearing that he'd cover the center. He gave a small nod, before looking at Nathaniel and Kendrick.

 

"I can play whatever you need man. Just let me know," Kendrick says.

 

"I'll take point if you don't mind. I'm feeling pretty good today," Nathaniel boasts.

 

Jason nodded. "Alright..." he said, before moving into positions with the other three, after telling Kendrick to play shooting guard position. Jason looked at his left hand for a moment, before sighing. Keep it off the left hand...keep going for the right hand. Nathaniel says he's taking point...so if anything, just get him the ball.

 

-BGM-

 

The game was on and Jason's team had the ball first, so with Nathaniel running point, it was obvious he got the ball first. He went on in out of the gate, easily passing one of the opposing players, before taking a shot, scoring the first points almost immediately. This was so fast...almost like one of those basketball animes he watched. But this wasn't the time for daydreaming.

 

"Garrett! Get ready!" Nathaniel said, getting Jason's attention quickly.

 

The opposing team started their play and got passed Jason, immediately having Nathaniel steal the ball from them. The ball quickly made it's way towards Jason and he started dribbling it towards the basket. It was a bit difficult, given he still wasn't 100% able to do everything with his right hand. Luckily, he saw Kendrick in position and he passed it to the guy.

 

Kendrick got the ball and spun himself into shooting position. He took the shot, but missed as the ball spun itself on the rim and fell out. Luckily Nathaniel recovered the ball and shot it back to Jason....oh joy.

 

Jason gulped as he got the ball back, exhaling slightly before throwing it, using his right hand and watching it just fall right into place in the basket. He smiled as he silently was beginning to get confidence in himself again. Maybe they could win this!



#23
Hakima

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Evening

Tyler pulled into the familiar gravel driveway and killed the engine. The house in front of him was… quaint, but he still had trouble calling it home. Pops said it was a “shotgun house”—a long narrow house with one room behind the other—but to him it just felt like one long prison cell. Small and cramped. Something that wasn’t meant to be lived in for any reason besides punishment.

 

He shoved the keys into his pocket and headed for the door. He had stayed late working on the carburetor, and the grease had turned him black from head-to-toe. All he wanted was something to eat and a very cold shower after spending several hours alone with Hensley. She had made it obvious she was into him about a thousand times, but he wasn’t gonna be her ride on the wild side.

 

That didn’t change the fact that she was f***ing hot and she knew it, which lead to his current predicament.

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Thursday

Early Morning

Tyler’s morning went much better this time. His old man had already left to open up shop by the time he got up, but he found two energy drinks on the table, with a note that read:

 

Good job staying out of trouble on your first day. One down, one-hundred and seventy-nine more to go.

 

—Dad

 

P.S. Check the fridge.

 

He found bacon, eggs, and one extra large pancake on a plate in the fridge. His favorite breakfast growing up; he would take the bacon and eggs, put them on the pancake and lather them in syrup, and then fold it over to make the perfect breakfast burrito.

 

Tyler took a picture of the breakfast burrito after he made it, beside the energy drinks, and texted it to the old man along with a brief “thanks”. He left for class with a bit more pep in his step than normal that day, flying to G.O.H. with the radio blasting.

 

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Thursday

Afternoon

Tyler wasn’t thrilled to find out he was playing basketball. It was too… soft, and bound by rules. You were punished for being too physical and more often than not players would take a fall if you grazed them, just to get a couple of free throws. He was a fullback in football and an enforcer on his old hockey team; all he knew was how to be physical.

 

He called Center knowing that Nathan would go Point. The game started off strong, with them getting two points on the board within almost no time. Tyler mostly made space the rest of his team, sticking closer to Nathan and putting himself between him and anyone who got too close.

 

The ball was passed back to the opposing team after Jason scored and the next play began. They managed to put a point up on the board, immediately followed by Kendrick sinking it from the 3-point line while Tyler shoulder-checked the guy that moved to guard him hard enough to knock him down. Probably a foul but he didn’t really care and the coach wasn’t watching him.

 

It went back and forth after that. Tyler noticed early on that they were targeting Jason, doing everything in their power to rough him up and run their mouths to him. One was especially bad. “Hey,” Tyler motioned to Nathaniel to call him over. “Who’s that guy, and what the hell is his problem?”

 

"Who, him?  That's uh, Pulpo--something or other.  European transfer from a few years back.  He's on the basketball team, like Jason was," Nathaniel said with a nod. Now it made sense. Tyler vaguely remembered something about Jason blowing a big game for the team.

 

Nathaniel managed to score with a lay-up on the next play, putting that score at 8-6. Tyler stopped jogging back over to his side once he was close to Jason, leaning his head in. “Why the f*** are you lettin’ them do that you? Shove back.”

 

Jason looked at Tyler and shook his head slowly. "I can't..." he said, looking over towards the other team. "I can't play as aggressively as I did...not with this..." Jason motioned towards his left wrist some. "Just… just don't worry about it, alright?

 

Tyler rolled his eyes and got into position to start the next play. So he was one of those types. Whatever. If Jason wasn’t going to do something about it he would.

 

When the next play started, the dude with the weird last name ended up with the ball. Kendrick tried to get in and steal, but he managed to score from up close. 8-7.

 

Tyler caught him as he was walking away. “Hey. What’s your name?”

 

The brown haired European student turned around, almost spitting at Tyler.  "My name is Brock Polpovich.  You would do best to remember it when you see me rise as star player," he said with a thick accent.

 

Tyler grinned at him. “Cool. I’m Tyler. See that scrawny kid over there?” he nodded towards Jason. “Touch him again and I’mma lay your punk ass out.”

 

Brock snorted and walked away, and the next play started. Nathaniel moved up the court, and shot a clean pass to Jason, who jumped to shoot. Brock jumped to swat at the ball and hip-checked Jason, knocking the other boy down and making his shot go wide.

 

The coach blew his whistle as a signal for him to knock it off, but handwaved it. That was it. Nathaniel went over to help Jason to his feet, and Brock looked at Tyler, who smiled back and nodded up to acknowledge it. They all got back into positions.

 

One of the other guys started with the ball, but he passed it to Brock to run it down center. Tyler didn’t even try to hide it. He shoulder-checked the European hard enough to send him skidding across the floor, knocking the air out of him and launching the ball high into the air.

 

“Whoops, didn’t see you there,” Tyler said looking down at him. “My bad.”


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Danger Is My Middle Name

#24
Hi I'm Dad

Hi I'm Dad

    There will be no prison which can hold our movement down.

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By the Book

 

       Coach Overton blew a whistle.  "Beckett, you do that again and I'll write your ass up!  And Pulpovich, play clean before you get a hole stomped in you!  Season ain't started yet, son.  This is just a game between classmates.  Don't take it so personally," Coach Overton said, patting Pulpovich on the back as he got up and jogged back into position.

 

As players aligned themselves in position once more, Coach Overton reminded them, "game is to 21 points!  Let's go!"  Brock took the ball out and bounced it to his teammate as the pick-up game resumed.  

 

 

The game was close, with Jason's Team leading 18 to Brock's Team with 16 points.  Brock spun past Nathan and edged the ball into the hoop with a clean lay-up, closing the score to a 1 point gap.  Nathan received the ball and pushed forward to the top right of the court, finding picks behind Tyler's large body.  As Nathan moved to shoot a jumper, he saw Brock bend his knees.  Nathan immediately tucked back in and passed the ball between Brock's legs and to center court to Tyler.

 

Kendrick tried to get open but he was being pressured pretty hard by the opposing team.  Jason had a small window of opportunity to which Tyler reacted.  However, the ball was quickly intercepted and turned around as Brock stole it and drove the ball to the hoop, tieing the game 18 to 18.  Three points remained to claim victory for either team, and the gym was on fire.

 

The girls' volleyball game had ended, so they would be watching the boys' game carry on.  On the other side of the gymnasium, a second P.E. class held by Coach Wes was already over, and they too turned to keep score for the boys' basketball game.  

 

Girls cheered as Brock put up one more point and his team took the lead, 18 to 19.


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#25
Chaos Sonic

Chaos Sonic

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He Shoots...He Scores?

Thursday

Afternoon

 

Exactly what Jason expected to happen was going on the entire game: he was being targeted. Brock Pulpovich was the one who was doing most of the instigating however. That guy had always been one of those players who was always in the background, namely cause he was on the team and in the "spotlight" more...

 

Guess after that day, he ended up getting more time to shine... Jason thought, shaking his head after talking to Tyler. He was right though. He should start playing aggressive again, but this injury probably wouldn't let him. Not only that...what was the point? This was only a pick-up game, not an actual game.

 

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The score right now was 18 to 19, in favor of Brock's team. Three points for their side was all they needed to win the game. But how to do it...

 

"Alright." Nathaniel said, moving in position with the others. "I got a plan. Tyler, you need to keep them off our backs. Namely Brock. Kendrick, you get in your position and just wait. Garrett." he paused, as Jason quickly looked at the guy. "Think you can make the shot?"

 

Jason was silent for a little while, before he slowly nodded. "I...yeah. I can make the shot." he said, holding his left wrist some.

 

Before long, Nathaniel got the ball and started moving forward. Brock immediately was about to get in Nathaniel's face, but Tyler stopped him and was blocked, meaning Nathaniel was able to pass to Kendrick and immediately was able to shoot. It was now 19-19. A two point shot would win the game...it would win it for them.

 

The opposing team got the ball immediately, and before they could pass the ball to Brock, Tyler moved in and stole it before passing it back to Nathaniel who moved and motioned for Jason to move as well. Jason moved and followed Nathaniel's lead before he stopped and watched the point guard passing it to him.

 

"Make the shot!" Nathaniel said.

 

Jason gripped the ball and took the shot from the two-point line, instinctively using his left wrist to make the shot. He didn't realize what he did until it was too late. The ball left his possession and he immediately reeled back and held his left wrist, gritting his teeth because of it. But his eyes were just on the ball nonetheless...and was shocked what happened. The ball swished right into the basket. That was a two point shot...

 

"W-We...won...?"

 

The gym erupts with cheers to the surprise game ender, even Coach Overton was shocked at this.

 

Kendrick is hailed as a hero while Tyler's well placed pick seemingly falls under the radar. A handful of students from the second gym class over approach Jason's team but they are stopped short by Coach Overton. He ushers both teams from his class to the center of the basketball court and forces them to shake hands.

 

Brock congratulated Tyler on a good game, quietly encouraging him to "Consider joining the Horsemen on the court," in his thick accent. He even shook Jason's hand without malice. Which Jason was extremely thankful for. The rest of the class was given away as a free period as long as students didn't leave the gym until the bell rang.

 

Jason moved over towards the benches, holding his left wrist some with a sigh as he felt it somewhat throbbing. Y-Yeah...why did I even use this wrist? he thought, shaking his head. Probably...just some old habits... Though through the entire time, between being targeted on the court by Brock's team, he was still surprised they won.



#26
Hi I'm Dad

Hi I'm Dad

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After School

Tokyo Daylight

 

       "Hear ye, hear ye, loyal readers.  I, Amanda Greenhouse, do call this meeting of Ded. Fiction to order.  Tis' a new dawn, my lords!" Amanda stood before the club stand in the gymnasium with plastic prop sword in her hand.  "On this day, we do welcome into our ranks, one Haruka Hirasawa!  As she joins us on our journey into the perilous world of fiction, do take heed and remember:  Club meetings are every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, after school from 3:30 to 4:30 pm.  Actually, hang on.  Where is the new girl?" Amanda looked around over the crowd, waiting for Haruka to show her face.

 

Paul shrugged.  "She'll show, but we didn't actually give her the times for the club yesterday.  You were too busy pulling Janet off of her."

 

"That's hot," Amanda smirked.

 

"That is not what I meant," Paul stomped, trying to hide his joy in Amanda's words.

 

 

Fire Meets Fury

 

Having landed just hours ago, jet lag had still not left her body.  The red-headed girl jogged up to her brother, having spotted him from across the gymnasium.  "Yo!  Nathan!" she called, waving him down.

 

Nathaniel was actually in the middle of talking about modifications with Tyler, but his head piped up when he heard Christina's voice.  "Chris!  You made it!" he cheered as she embraced him.  "Ah, it's good to see you, sis.  How was your flight?"

 

She shrugged.  "Could've been worse, so I won't complain.  I'm a little jet lagged but I'll manage."

 

"Well, in that case, I won't keep you.  Let me introduce you to my friends," Nathan began.  He started with the obvious one:  Tyler.  "Tyler, Chris.  Chris, Tyler.  This is the girl I was telling you about."

 

Christina shook Tyler's hand with a firm grip.  "Wow.  He wasn't kidding when he said you were tall.  You're a God damn giant," she joked.  Christina was a red-headed Californian Caucasian girl, with grey eyes and shoulder length hair.  She had a small nose and full lips, with a toned waist.  She was a junior this year and she was also a boxer in training.  

 

"Push off my man, Red," Hensley sneered playfully.  

 

"You must be Hensley," Christina said with a smile.

 

Hensley nodded.  "Guess my reputation precedes me."

 

"Nathan won't stop asking me advice on how to get with you, so yeah," Christina blurted out.

 

"I asked you not to tell her that!" Nathaniel groaned.  He sighed before turning Christina around and directing her to the last member of the Automotive Club.  "This is Jake.  Say hi, Jake."

 

Jake stuttered as Christina shook his hand and he looked into her face.  "H-hi Jake--I mean Christina!  I mean, Chris!"

 

"He really is a nervous wreck around girls," Christina chuckled.  "Take it easy, slick.  I don't bite," Christina assured him.  Jake could only nod and follow along.

 

"You're just in time, Chris.  I was shooting the shit with Tyler about car mods.  Hensley has a body kit but not much else.  But that can wait.  We now have enough members of the Automotive Club to form the Automotive Organisation.  Which means we'll get more space to work, a budget for the club, and we may even get a Master Mechanic if we prove our worth," Nathan said, folding his arms.

 

"No shit!?" Jake said excitedly.

 

"Yup.  But we have to do a few things first.  Chris, did you get your schedule?" Nathan went on.

 

She took a piece of paper from her back pocket that had been folded up four times.  "Right here."

 

"Then you're set.  I just need to submit the paperwork to the Student Council who will review it before bringing it to the Dean!" Nathan practically leaped for joy.  "This is gonna be so cool, dude.  More mods, more cars to work with, a budget for club projects.  Maybe we could get a close up look at a Nascar Pit.  See how the pros do it.  Oh, man!"

 

"Keep it in your pants.  Let's get there first," Hensley said with a grin.

 

"Tyler, I'm gonna need your help with this," Nathan said turning to Tyler.  "If I'm gonna submit this paperwork to make us an Organization, I wanna have another name on it to make it official.  Would you wanna be my co-owner?" Nathan asked.

 

 

The Machine

 

In the back of the gymnasium by their lonesome, the Video Game Club had set up a temporary station to play on while waiting for any potential new members.

 

"Fucking... shit man!  Fuck!  I had him!" Kevin snapped at his screen.

 

"Told you, dude.  This boss is hard," Lace said from his left side.

 

"Ugh, I was so close.  Third phase reset is bullshit," he said as he placed the controller down.  "You wanna give it a go, Brad?"

 

Bradley looked up from his handheld device and waved a hand.  "No thanks, mate.  You guys go on.  I'm trying to catch a Devilot."

 

Kevin rubbed his temples with his fingers then took a deep breath.  "Okay.  I'm gonna try it one more time."

 

"Wait, wait.  Double check your gear.  Do you have any magic protection?  And what weapon and shield are you using?" Lace asked.

 

"I have magic res on my shield, boots, chest, and shoulders.  I didn't wanna stockpile it because I need DPS stats everywhere else.  Once the fucking timer in phase three starts ticking I need that damage," Kevin said as he pulled up his character's equipment and inventory.  "Look."

 

Lace examined the screen carefully.  "What coins do you have in your gear slots?  Check 'em."

 

"Let's see.  Crit chance in gloves, crit chance in my bracers.  Plus all damage in my jewelry.  Magic res in my pants and plus all damage in my chest."

 

"What about your helm?"

 

"Uhhhhh magic fin--magic find!?  That's where I was missing damage, Jesus Christ!" Kevin recited aloud.  He quickly swapped out coins in his gear and saw his sheet DPS increase by twenty-five percent.  He sighed and then thanked Lace.  "Alright.  From the top."


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Fuck your flag.


#27
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Thursday

Afternoon

 

Quinn sat fidgeting nervously in Professor Langston's class. He couldn't concentrate and he'd been on edge the entire day.

 

"Grant's getting more and more aggressive. Yesterday was literally the first day of school and he was bold enough to make aggressively sexual moves in front of strangers. Uuuuuggghhhh..." Quinn rubbed his temples staring dead-eyed down at the English textbook in front of him. "Jesus Christ he's only going to keep escalating, and I can't spend an entire year just trying to dodge him like a scared puppy. Even if I did what good would that even do? He's only Junior, and then there's the whole summer, and there's not even any guarantee he'll go away for school so he might stick-"

 

Quinn's thoughts were abruptly cut short when he heard the sound of two quick snaps right next to his ear.

 

"Huh?"

 

"Mr. St Lawrence, would you please answer the question?" Mr. Langston loomed over Quinn his mouth curled ever so slightly into a semi-amused grin.

 

"A-ah, I'm sorry I didn't hear the question, could you please repeat it?" Quinn's cheeks flushed red. "Great I just embarrassed myself in front of a room full of Juniors too, what a fucking nightmare."

 

"Well that's funny I did ask you 3 times."

 

"I'm very sorry Mr. Langston. I've just got a lot on my mind right now, I promise I'll pay attention now."

 

"Well, then why don't you start by answering my question. So, in your opinion, Mr. St Lawrence what would you say would be the main underlying themes that Nathaniel Hawthorne is trying to set up in this first couple of chapters?" 

 

"Well, I would say it's pretty obvious that Hawthorne's central theme is going to be sin. I mean right from the beginning we're introduced to a character who's being branded for being a sinner, and yet Hawthorne has made her his heroine and seems to portray her of all people in a positive light compared to her fellow townsfolk. Really though, if you want to get down to the nitty-gritty of it it's a political critique of, what would've been to him, contemporary Puritan values. It's really best illustrated in the fact that first large gatherings of the townsfolk we see are at the prison and at the scaffold, both of which are located in common gathering areas and both of which are places meant to publicly shame those deemed sinners. Quite frankly I believe that the idea of sin and sinfulness is really used as a way to critique Puritan holier than thou values."

 

"Very impressive Mr. St Lawrence. I'll expect that same level of analysis from you in the future." Mr. Langston cracked an impressed smile before returning to the lesson. "Oh. And do try not to daydream, yeah?"

 

"Of course, sir."

 

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"Hey, Riku," Quinn gave him a small wave as he walked backstage. "Hey, um, I'm not feeling great today. Would it be cool with you if I took off for the day?" Quinn smiled weakly. He knew it was a lame ass excuse, but he still didn't know how to handle Grant, and he didn't want to be around if he showed up.

 

"Quinn, are you alright?"

 

"Uhh... No? I just told you silly I'm feeling sick that's why I want to go home, hahaha..." Quinn laughed, weakly, in reply. He knew Riku was worried about him, but well the topic was not exactly one he wanted to discuss at all, let alone in the middle of a club meeting.

 

"Alright... but be ready for tomorrow, we'll be deciding on the play we're going to do."

 

"Yeah! Of course!" Quinn nodded enthusiastically, before quickly hugging Riku, "thank you so much. Oh my gosh, sorry, germs!" And without letting Riku get in another word edgewise Quinn dashed out the back exit door for home.

 

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"Hey there you! If I didn't know better I'd think you were ignoring me, but I know you'd never do that, would you?"

 

"Oh god!" He was almost home. No. No. No. This guy knew his route home too, what the hell!? Grant smoothly slid up next to him locking his fingers into Quinn's. "He's trying to corner me." Quinn panicked looking quickly around the square he was passing through for an escape route. "I could make a scene. No. If I try to evade him anymore it'll just make things worse. Maybe I can convince him to leave me alone if I just do what he wants for a little bit. God, appealing to a rapist's good side, great fucking plan..."

 

"H-hey, babe, so what do you wanna talk about? I'm sorry we haven't gotten to get together I-"

 

"Stop making excuses, let's go." Grant didn't even wait for him he just started pulling Quinn along, more like a dog than anything really.

 

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As soon as they were through the door Grant tossed him to the ground. Hard.

 

"Ow!" Quinn's eyes teared up a little, "babe that hu-"

 

"Don't you fuckin' babe me!" It was quicker than Quinn had time to react to. The back of Grant's hand landed hard across Quinn's face. Before Quinn could put any distance between him and his abuser the larger boy was top of him hands around his throat. "You wanna act all lovey-dovey you stupid slut! Do you think I'm fucking stupid or something!? I know you've been dodging me! You think you're allowed to do that!? What do you think that shit during the Summer Bash was!? I own you know, you do what I tell you to do, got it!?"

 

Grant's face was red with rage. Quinn had begun sobbing, and could only nod shakily in response, however, this only seemed to anger Grant more.

 

"Stop crying you blubbering bitch!" In an attempt to quiet him down Grant picked Quinn's head up slightly before slamming it down against the tile floor. This, however, caused Quinn who up until this point had been passive in fear to began screaming and struggling against the larger boy. His screams were quickly silenced however as Grant tightened his grip on his throat cutting off his Quinn's air. "Don't fucking test me. I will fucking kill you. I don't fucking need you."

 

"Ok. Ok. Please stop. I'll behave. Please. Please, Grant. I can't breath."

 

"Good... good. Yeah, I love listening to you beg like a bitch in heat. I bet you probably like this. Oh yeah, you don't want to admit it, but I bet you think this is really fucking hot."

 

Quinn's mind was blank. No thoughts of escape. No sassy comebacks. He was in pure fight or flight mode worried that one wrong move could be the last one he made.

 

"Now, it's time for your punishment." Grant reached into his pocket pulling out a familiar looking pill.

 

"No. No. Please, Grant, I'll be good. Please, don't. Please." Quinn shook his head furiously, squirming and thrashing under Grant trying to get free, however ultimately he was overpowered as Grant slipped the rohypnal into Quinn's mouth, holding his mouth closed until he was positive Quinn had swallowed.

 

"Alright, time for you to make it up to me for being so hurtful." Grabbing Quinn by the hair Grant dragged him into the bedroom.

 

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Several hours later Quinn, holding anything he could get for support stumbled out of Grants home. The drug was still affecting him making it hard to move, however, the drug had hit its peak effectiveness hours ago. That along with the sheer force of will Quinn was exerting to get himself out of that house and back to his home was enough to put him back on his feet so he could walk.

 

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Half an hour later Quinn had finally made it home. Stumbling up the stairs Quinn clumsily opened the door making a loud ruckus as he dropped his book bag to the floor thankful to be free of the weight.

 

"Hey, Quinnie! How was your second day?" Quinn's sister, Gwen, looked up from her work with a smile, however that smile soon faded when she saw the shape her brother was in. "Oh my god! Quinn what happened to you!" Immediately she put her work down quickly covering the space between her and her little brother.

 

"No- Nothing..." Quinn's voice trailed off as his eyes rolled back into his head and he collapsed, only his sister's quickly reflexes saving him from hitting the ground.

 

"Oh god! Oh god! Quinnie wake up!" Gwen frantically examined her brother and noticed very quickly that something was wrong with him. "Oh my god he's bleeding! Oh- oh god there's so much blood. I-Isabella! Rowan! Someone call an ambulance Quinn's been hurt!"


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#28
Yui

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Afternoon

Physics. Not Haruka's greatest subject by any means. Most types of science tended to give her trouble, but it always seemed as though physics in particular just had it out for her. As such, rather than her usual procedure of simply paying attention to what the teacher had to say and taking mental notes while drawing up whatever fantasies came to her mind - a real shame, since she'd been hit by a sudden stroke of inspiration this morning - Haruka made sure her time in physics was time spent taking actual notes. Actual notes, about the actual school subject, that the actual teacher was actually teaching. Unless I want to be a scientist, how will any of this help me anyway? And I don't want to be a scientist at all! It's like, here, let me just teach you this thing you don't care about and you don't have a choice. Ugh.

After School

Well, one thing had turned into another. At first, Haruka was simply finishing up the illustration she'd started that morning after her stroke of inspiration, but then finishing that up gave her more ideas. The next thing she knew, it was a three-page mini-comic that she would have loved to finish right then and there, but that wasn't happening. Not here, anyway. It would be troublesome if I tried working on it more here, Haruka mentally huffed to herself, heading down a hallway in search of the Dedicated Fiction Club with a moderately flushed face. It came out a bit more stimulating than I thought it would be. The fact that I'm the type of person who let the comic get to that point in a public place... I'm a terrible human being, aren't I? After a bit of checking, Haruka finally found the club she was looking for, though she was a bit later to the meeting than she would have liked.

 

Way to make a first impression, Haruka. I must seem super-unreliable right now.

 

As she opened the door, Haruka stepped in and announced "Yes, I know I'm late; I got a bit sidetracked on my way here. I'll try to keep it from happening again."

 

"I know why you're late," said an excited Janet. "Were you prettying yourself up for me?" she cooed.

"Alright, you're going back into timeout," Amanda announced, pulling Janet by the ear.

"But Amanda! She's so cute!" Janet pleaded as she was dragged away.

"Hey. Welcome back. Glad you could make it," Paul said as he pulled out an extra chair for Haruka. "We're just finishing the first chapter. Did you get a chance to read at all?" There were five chairs now around a large wooden round table, and different copies of the club's reading material for the next month.

 

"I read a couple chapters last night before bed," Haruka answered, seating herself at the spare chair while Janet was pulled away. And don't come back. She opened up the book she'd taken home with her to where everyone else seemed to be so far. "So, who wrote this anyway? It doesn't seem like a normal thing for a school to have its own manga."

 

"Some alumni. He's hoping to get it published but it looks unfinished to me. It was probably something they did for fun," Paul commented.

"Sorry about that," Amanda said as she returned. "So, where were we?"

"End of chapter one. Looks like Haruka is all caught up," Paul added.

"Nice. What do you think so far, Haruka? Any characters you can resonate with?" Amanda asked.

 

"Jeffery," she started. "...and Roto." Although, resonating with them might not be the first way I'd phrase that. Even so, they were solid characters. Two brave men fighting against the apocalypse with the help of some people they'd only just met. If it were Haruka who was writing this, they'd probably be the only characters. "I like the dynamic between them the best."

 

"I like Jeff. He feels like a real person. Like, someone I'd hang out with," Leo commented.

"I like the uh, Australian guy. Leonidas? Yeah, he's funny. I like his upbeat attitude. Having hope in the middle of the apocalypse. That's hard, man," Paul added.

"I think I'm closest to Daphne. I would've given up all hope, if--" Amanda's phone buzzed loudly. "Sorry. Just a sec."

Amanda's face suddenly lit up with urgency and she snatched her bag from beneath her chair, disturbing the top floor of the library. "Sorry! I gotta run! Duty calls! We'll pick up Monday! Uh, Paul, you guys can read up to about chapter 5. I'm gonna be busy all weekend probably, so don't get too far without me!" she screamed.

"Ma'am! Quiet down, please!" demanded a librarian.

"Sorry!" she hollered back.

Paul shook his head. "Wonder what that was all about. Anywho, how do you guys feel about the plot as a whole? Alien invasion. Time travel. A talking A.I. It's a lot."

 

"I've seen plots that are more out-there," Haruka shrugged. "It's kinda crazy to have powers based on all these gods and stuff, but it's not like everyone outright summons them or anything. That would be a lot, and a bit of a stretch if you ask me."


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#29
Hakima

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After School

Fire Meets Fury

Tyler shook her hand, surprised by how calloused it was. That wasn’t something that you could fake; rough hands only came from putting in the time. She was legit. “Nice to finally meet you and confirm my suspicion.”

 

Christina quirked an eyebrow. "Oh yeah? What’s that?"

 

Tyler smirked. “You took all the good genes and that’s how we got stuck with Nathan.”

 

"Easy, Tyler. Her left hook hurts. Like 900 horsepower to the jaw," Nathan commented, rolling his eyes.

 

Tyler shrugged and they continued with introductions. Jake was as terrible around women as ever. Tyler was about ready to just pay someone to sleep with the kid and get it over with. Still, this was pretty exciting, that much he could agree with the rest about.

 

His old man was a master mechanic. He probably wouldn’t mind coming up to the school and showing them a few things on occasion. He would probably even let them work on stuff in the shop if the school agreed to get them covered on some kind of insu--

 

"Tyler, I'm gonna need your help with this," Nathan turned to look at him.  "If I'm gonna submit this paperwork to make us an Organisation, I wanna have another name on it to make it official.  Would you wanna be my co-owner?" Nathan asked.

 

Tyler bit his lower lip and grimaced. “That’s... probably not a good idea. You don’t want my name on somethin’ those guys are gonna be looking over.” He shoved his hands into his pockets and leaned back. “Whadda ‘bout Hensley? That’ll look a lot better.”

 

"No way, man.  Listen, I know you're not this perfect little angel.  But that's exactly why I want you involved.  I wanna be able to show everyone that you can do whatever you put your mind to, especially when you're good at it.  Besides, Hensley doesn't have your skill.  She might get to be a mechanic but back in the day, you could've been working on Earhardt's cars in a pit.  I trust you.  With this, I wouldn't even pick my sister over you."

Nathan folded his arms at first, but then, he stuck out a hand.  "You sacrifice a little bit of time for me, and I'll make sure your track record doesn't leave a mark on your life.  Whaddya say?"

 

Tyler’s eyes narrowed dangerously. “That what this is about? You tryin’ to make an example outta me? ‘Hey, if Beckett can do it, anyone can’!” He snorted and snatched up his jacket, throwing it on. “Go f*** yourself Yates. I don’t need your handouts, I can take care of my damn self.” He shook his head. “Man f*** this. I’m outta here. Find some other charity case to sign with you.”

 

He was gone before anyone could get a word in edgewise.

 

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Night

Aftermath

Tyler didn’t get home until late that night. He just drove, as fast and as far as he could on a full tank of gas. He shut off his phone and didn’t answer any texts that night either. F*** them and f*** their handouts.

 

He didn’t need, no, he didn’t want anyone trying to fix his life for him. He could do that on his own.


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#30
Hueco

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Afternoon
 
"Oh... they're done, already?" The roar of the crowd caused Piper to lower her sketch book and up at the game happening in front of her. Ironically, she had the best seat in the house, despite not even caring to watch the boys beat their chests and try swinging their dicks around for the other girls...
 
Sports just aren't fun if you were playing them yourself...
 
Taking a moment to watch the large foreign guy lean in and say something to the Pete Wentz looking dude that had knocked him down early, she let herself study their broad, sweat drenched shoulders and rough jawlines before smirking to herself. 
 
Ok. Maybe it isn't that bad watching... 
 
As the crowd began to break off into free period, Piper leaned back on the bench and brought her feet up atop the seat to support her sketchbook with her knees.  She had just etched another shape into the paper, when one of the boys from the game plopped down next her. 
 
Glancing over to the blonde, she studied his features for moment. Something about his posture and the melancholy look in his eyes as he held his wrist seemed to inspire her... "Hm," Not wanting to lose this moment, she quickly turned the page and began etching out a rough figure drawing of the boy.
 
"Seem's kind of dumb to be playing with those meatheads if you're arm is messed up, man..." She called to the boy after she had gotten his general shape down. 
 
 
After School
 
 
"Hey, Coach!" Finally able to located her gym teacher, Piper marched up the man and stuck her chest out as she stared up at Coach Overton. Her demeanor was vastly different than what she had displayed during class today. Primarily because her horrible memory had allowed her outrage about the school's neglect of the arts to slip her mind after dealing with the incident with Quinn and Grant.  
 
Luckily, an announcement during last period had jogged her memory, and allowed her to hit the hallways with renewed furry...   
 
Placing both hands on her hips, Piper flared her cheeks to make herself appear bigger as she prepared to give the man a piece of her mind. 
 
"What's all this about this school not having an Art Club or any artistic after school activities ?! Do you guys just not care about student's rights to expression, or did we spend all the money for paint on those stupid projector-things for the basketball games ?!" Her tiny hands flailed in the air as she barked at the man like a chihuahua trying to bite a rottweiler. "Actually, don't answer that... you're gonna make me wanna rally the artistic brothers and sisters, and shut this whole s*** down!" Thinking for a moment, she shook her head and reached into her pocket whilst mumbling something about paint and the auditorium. "Here! Where do I sign?!" Piper huffed, producing a pen and clicking it violently.
 
"Starting today, I'm personally putting some color into this school's life. Even if I have to shove it down it's throat..."

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#31
Chaos Sonic

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Swish

Thursday Afternoon

 

"Seem's kind of dumb to be playing with those meatheads if you're arm is messed up, man..."

 

Jason looked up and saw the young girl who spoke to him, oddly enough she was holding a sketchbook...apparently sketching something. He gave off a small smile before shrugging.

 

"It's really just my wrist actually..." Jason replied. "And, well...gotta start at least attempting to use it, right?"

 

“I guess...” she peered at the boy for a moment before bringing out her eraser and brushing it across the page. “You’re the guy that fudged the big game of whatever, right?”

 

Jason nodded with a sigh at her response. "Yeah...that'd be about right."

 

“What are you still pouting about?” she arched an eyebrow. “Hmm, tilt your head for me? Wait you’re not actually still hung up about it, are you?!”

 

"Kinda hard not to still be hung up on it...when almost everyone holds it over my head..." Jason sighed, before tilting his head as asked.

 

“...” Piper didn’t respond. Her focus was too far into her work.

 

Finally, when the bell rang to signify the change in periods, she snapped back to reality. “Well... this is how sorry for yourself you look.” Flipping the book to show him the realistic sketch of himself sitting, and sulking. “The name is Piper by the way.” She offered the boy a friendly smile before smirking and getting up from her seat. “I’m new here... But I’m pretty sure just saying “fuck ‘em” and moving forward works anywhere...”

 

Jason looked at the drawing and nodded. It never occurred to him on how he really looked, but then again, he never was pictured or drawn by anyone before. "That's...that's pretty interesting work there, Piper." he nodded, before chuckling lightly. "Yeah...maybe I'll try that one day..."

 

“Let me know how it goes. I don’t think I have any friends yet...” She brought her pencil up to her lips as if thinking. “So if you ever feel like being one of my models again, you can probably find me right here during class.” With that she’ll sling her bag over her shoulder and move to leave “Later... Jason, right?”

 

"Yeah, Jason Garrett." Jason nodded. "Catch ya later, Piper." he waved at the girl, only to see her throw up a peace sign, like a true gangsta. With class over now, Jason got up and went to head off to his next class.

 

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Thursday Afternoon

-Ready Player 2?-

 

After his classes, Jason found himself back in the gymnasium. He was going to join a club, the Video Game Club. After all, Alice did suggest that might be better for him to do, given how there wasn't a Sports Club at all. Then again, probably best he didn't go for that anyway.

 

He approached the Video Game Club's booth and heard quite the conversation...

 

"What coins do you have in your gear slots? Check 'em."

"Let's see. Crit chance in gloves, crit chance in my bracers. Plus all damage in my jewelry. Magic res in my pants and plus all damage in my chest."

"What about your helm?"

"Uhhhhh magic fin--magic find!? That's where I was missing damage, Jesus Christ! Alright.  From the top."

 

He finally arrived near the booth and approached them, rubbing the back of his neck. "Um...hey. You guys still taking applications for your club?"

 

"Yeah, dude." Lace said, turning around. "Who's our new-- whoah," she said with a toothy grin. "You're uh, Jason G. ThisisthecoolestthingthatshappenedtometodayohmyGod." Lace had begun to panic. "Oh, uh, yeah, yeah, we're totes--uh, shit. I mean, yes, sir, we're certainly taking applications!" she said, clearing her throat and pushing her hair behind her ears.

 

Jason just sat there and blinked a bit, watching Lace moving to grab a clipboard. "Just, sign your name here, and leave us your email and/or phone number. We promise not to contact you later than 7pm unless its urgent, and uh--phew, is it warm in here? Usually we'll only contact you about club tournaments, friendly competitions and that sort of thing." Lace finished, handing a clipboard to Jason.

 

"Uh sure, alright." Jason took the clipboard and began to put down the appropriate information they needed before handing it back to Lace. "Hope I didn't come and barge in at a bad time."

 

"I recognize that voice," said Kevin, pausing his game. It was Kevin Garcia, last minute senior recruit to the basketball team. He had only just met Jason a few weeks before that unfortunate game. "Jason, nice of you to join us du--oh God. I'm sorry. I'll handle this." Kevin got to his feet and began to pry Lace away from Jason. "She did this to me too. Something something basketball team fan girl," he said with a shrug. "So, what do you like to play? Oh, that's Brad. He's playing Devilot Mobile. Spinoff from Devil's Lore."
 
Brad waved a hand and kept to his game, while Lace nervously thanked Jason and then sank into a pull out metal chair after Kevin pulled her away.
 
"Kevin? Huh, actually wasn't expecting to see you around here." Jason said with a nod, before waving at Brad after Kevin introduced him. "Anyway, I...I normally just play some sports games. Ya know..athlete off and on the court." he chuckled lightly. "I also tend to play a few RPGs here and there. Nothing too out of the ordinary."
 
"Well, don't play with Lace. Not in Madden, not in NBA 2K. I've never met a girl as good at sports games as she is. It's honestly unfair," Kevin said, shaking his head. "Normally, we'd be in room 310 in building C, but we were hoping for a few more recruits. And here you are!" Kevin said with a smile.
 
"Wow...I guess that might actually be something I'd need to see." Jason chuckled with a nod. "Room 310...okay that shouldn't be too hard to forget."
 
"I'm playing Devil's Lore. I keep dying to this God damn boss. He has an instant kill if you don't do enough damage to him by his third phase transition. Wanna come watch me suffer?" Kevin asked, as he pulled up a spare chair.
 
Jason glanced over at the game and nodded. "Might as well." he said, sitting in the spare chair. "Let's hope I don't jinx it by sitting down."


#32
Hi I'm Dad

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After School

Crunch Time

 

"I've got one in critical condition.  Trauma to the head, bruised face and neck, and anal bleeding, currently unconscious.  Patient's name is... Quinn St. Lawrence," said a gloved and masked female who was wheeling Quinn in a medical bed to the Emergency Room.  Traveling alongside her, practically sprinting, was Amanda Greenhouse.  "You got all that?"

 

"Yes, ma'am.  Where do you need me?" Amanda asked, her brain racing.  "I've seen this guy, at least once or twice before.  Doesn't he go to my school?" she thought.

 

"Take his vitals, check his blood for toxins, and when you're clear, get me an IV.  This looks like abuse but it could be a lot of things," said the doctor.

 

"Yes, doctor," Amanda said before placing her stethoscope on Quinn's chest.  His heart was beating irregularly.  His breathing was ragged and harsh.  As far as she could tell, there was no internal damage to his head but they would need to check for internal bleeding.  Now she had to take his blood.  "That's a pretty bad cut on his head.  Do you think there's internal bleeding?" Amanda asked.

 

"Possibly," the doctor said as she was suddenly surrounded by two other nurses.  "Run that blood test, we're gonna do an X-ray.  Get me those blood tests!"

 

Amanda nodded and ran off.  Quinn was wheeled to the next room over, still unconscious.  She had a single syringe with Quinn's blood in it trying to be careful not to drop it.  She placed the blood into a vial and ran multiple tests, waiting for results.  "Come on, come on!" she said through clenched teeth.  As the vial stopped spinning, Amanda stood over a printer where the results were given back to her.  "Shit," she mumbled.  She took the vial and stored it properly before sprinting back to the ER.

 

"It's date rape," Amanda said immediately.

 

The doctor turned to Amanda and did a double take.  "Amanda," she said with a glare.

 

"Oh, sorry.  Uh, it's a benzo.  Probably Rohypnol, but there are only minor traces.  This must've happened an hour or so before he got home.  But it's definitely there," Amanda finally said.

 

"Thank you, Amanda.  You did well today.  Get me that IV and you can go home," the Doctor said.

 

Amanda nodded and sprinted off.  "We don't need to pump him for this?" asked one of the new nurses.

 

"No, no.  Benzos tend to wear off somewhat quickly.  He should be awake soon.  Right now, we need to keep him hydrated and give him something for the pain.  Judging by the bruises and the damage to his body, this is emotional, physical, and mental.  And it's why patient confidentiality is so important."

 

"Yes, doctor."

 

About a minute later, Amanda had returned with an IV bag and a needle.  "Help her find that vein," the doctor said.  One of the nurses came around to help Amanda and together they put the IV in Quinn's arm.  "Looks good," the Doctor commented.  "Okay.  You two stay with me.  Amanda, you're free to go.  We'll buzz you if necessary."

 

"Thank you, Doctor.  But, uh, before I go, could I speak to you privately?" Amanda asked.

 

The Doctor looked at her other two nurses and then to Amanda.  "What's this about?"

 

"Well..." Amanda hesitated.

 

"Okay.  Let's step out into the hall," the Doctor said, now following Amanda.  When they were out of earshot of the other two nurses, the Doctor removed her mask.  "What's wrong?"

 

"I think I might sort of... know the patient," Amanda admitted.

 

The Doctor looked around cautiously before turning back to Amanda.  "Why didn't you tell me this before we wheeled him in?  You can't be anywhere near this.  It could damage your record!" she whispered harshly.

 

"I wasn't sure at first, but I'm pretty sure I've seen him at school."  Amanda's head sank.  The Doctor sighed and folded her arms.  "Alright.  Well, I'm glad you told me.  Just, go ahead and notify the family I'm sure they're anxious.  But after that, I don't want you anywhere near this.  It's too controversial and he's a student at your school.  Police will want to question him and if they suspect you're involved, I don't know what I'll do," she said with a frown.

 

"Thanks, T.  And I'm sorry about that," Amanda said, walking away slowly.

 

The Doctor shook her head as she watched Amanda walk away.  "You're just like my sister," she mumbled to herself before returning to the ER.

 

 

Stalled Engine

 

"What's his deal?" Christina asked, totally confused on what was going on.

 

"I guess he thinks I'm pitying him.  Maybe I presented my proposal wrong?  I'll ask the old man to help me practice a bit," Nathan replied.

 

"I still don't get it," Christina shrugged.

 

"I asked him to go in with me on turning the club into an Organization.  Apparently, the way I went about it was wrong.  I dunno.  I thought we were friends but that chip on his shoulder makes him difficult to even talk to.  And I don't have time for that," Nathan scratched his head.  "Anyway, that Organization can't happen without five people.  And he effectively just iced us so we're back to four people.  Assuming you stay."

 

"Well, mom didn't ship me out here to fly back two days later.  So yeah, I'm here," Christina said.

 

"Alright.  Well, back to work.  Hensley, you can work with my sister today.  They flushed the carburetor yesterday.  Cleaned it, put it back together and reinstalled it.  Oil was changed already, fluids are good.  Why don't you guys change the hoses and the radiator."

 

"Cool.  Alright, Prep School, let me show you a thing or two," Christina said, motioning for Hensley to follow her.

 

"You call me Prep School again and I'll throw you in the trunk," Hensley frowned.

 

Nathan rolled his eyes.  "Jake, we're gonna change the oil again, but this time I'm gonna let you lead.  Okay?"

 

Jake nodded.  "Alright.  It's not hot is it?"

 

"Course not.  The car's been off for twenty-four hours," Nathan chuckled.

 

"Oh.  Oh, right.  Okay, let's do it."

 

 

Arts and Crafts

 

"Hey, Coach!"

 

Coach Overton raised his head from his clipboard and looked up to one of his newer students, Piper.  "What can I do for you, Piper?" he asked right away.

 

"What's all this about this school not having an Art Club or any artistic after school activities ?! Do you guys just not care about student's rights to expression, or did we spend all the money for paint on those stupid projector-things for the basketball games?!"

 

"Well, actually, we've had the funding but no students who wanted to--"

 

"Actually, don't answer that... you're gonna make me wanna rally the artistic brothers and sisters, and shut this whole shit down!"

 

Coach Overton sighed.  She was another one of those extremely passionate students who loved art.  So far, no one had the gall to actually run the club despite the funding being available, but suddenly, here Piper was.  

 

"Here! Where do I sign?!"

 

Coach Overton handed Piper a clipboard, which she signed, and he immediately approved.  "You'll have to put together your own booth.  Ask the woodshop class.  Mr. Sheldon is your man for that, and he'll see to it that it's sturdy so you can get recruits.  Advertising is up to you, as long as it's within school regulations."

 

"Starting today, I'm personally putting some color into this school's life. Even if I have to shove it down its throat..."

 

"Sure, sweetheart.  Have fun, and I hope you get the support you need," Coach Overton shrugged.  It was now up to Piper to bring students into her art club.  She would need to get a booth together, think of a name for her club if she wanted to, and of course, she would have to see the student council about getting a room assigned after school.  She could only do that during regular school hours because student council only met on Mondays and Fridays before and after school.  Otherwise, there would only be the student council president in the student council room during lunch hours.

 

 

Ded. Or Alive
 
With Amanda gone, Paul, Haruka, Leo, and Janet read through Chapter 5 of :Alive: before calling it a day.  Paul made his way to the bus stop alone today, putting in the appropriate two dollars so that he could be taken as close to his home as possible.
 
The bus was crowded today, so Paul put in his ear buds and drowned out the world around him.  The next thing he knew, he was transferring to Broad Street and drifting off.  He wouldn't be home for at least another hour.  About forty-five minutes later, he awoke with a start, realizing he was near Read Boulevard.  He shook himself awake and stood up, prepared to exit.  He got off the bus three stops later and walked the last three blocks home.  He heard a beep in his earbuds and, after safely crossing the street, took out his phone to see what it was.
 
"We're sorry.  The number you have dialed is currently not in service," said an automated voice in his ear.
 
"But... my phone was locked.  With a pin.  Did I pocket dial someone?" he wondered aloud.  Examining his call history, Paul had accidentally entered a very specific number.  It was a 1-800 number.  "1-800-733-7374?  What the hell?" he mumbled to himself.  He shoved his phone back into his pocket and resumed his music.  
 
That evening, Paul baked chicken and made mashed potatoes and green beans for dinner, to give mom a break.  He went and took a shower after dinner then went straight to his room.  If he couldn't do anything "strenuous" he at least wanted to keep reading this manga.  He took the manga from his bag and decided to go ahead of everyone else.  But before he got the chance to read, his phone buzzed.  It was a message from Amanda.
 
"Sorry about running out today.  Had a message from work," it read.
 
He replied back right away.  "No worries.  We read through chapter five.  It's getting kinda tense, lol."
 
With his phone still in his hand, Paul elected to check on the number he supposedly dialed while on the bus.  Most 1-800 numbers were usually some kind of resource line and had words associated with them.  Putting letters to numbers, Paul finally managed to figure out what the associate word was.  "Refresh?  Must be a line for soda or somethin'," he mumbled.  Paul pushed his phone to the side and opened up :Alive: and continued to read.  
 
 
The hours flew by, and before Paul knew it, he had finished chapter ten.  Paul heard his name being called downstairs and he sprang up from his bed with his phone in hand.  
 
"Paul!" called Ms. Brown.
 
"Yeah, ma?"
 
"It's Thursday!" she called back.
 
"Oh, trash night. Sorry, I forgot!  I'm comin' down!" he called back to his mother.  He put on his slippers and bounded down the stairs, collecting trash bins from around the house as he went.
 
"Did you get the bathrooms?"
 
"Yup."
 
"Your sister's room?"
 
"Got it."
 
"And your room?"
 
"Done."
 
"Alright, son, thank you," Ms. Brown said, turning back toward her room.  "I'm headed to bed.  I already took a sleeping pill and I'm startin' to feel it."
 
"Yes, ma'am.  I'll be right outside," Paul answered.  Paul dumped the trash bins into the larger trash bag in the kitchen and pulled it out of the can.  Then, he tied a knot on the end of the bag and made his way outside.  Paul tossed the bag into the outside garbage can and rolled it to the curb for pick-up tomorrow morning.
 
"Psst.  Paulie Paul," called a voice to Paul.
 
He looked up from the curb and saw a young man approaching him.  "Yo, who's that?" he called back.
 
"What, you don't recognize me now?" the young man said, spreading his arms and stepping past a street light.
 
"Kevin?  Man, I barely see you anymore," Paul laughed.  "What's good, man?"
 
They hugged and shook hands before Kevin took a step back.  "Man, you know I get hung up on these damn games and I rarely leave the house unless I'm going to the park.  But my moms just said she's goin' outta town this weekend.  So I'mma kick something off," he said with a grin.
 
"Oh, you throwin' a party huh?" Paul asked excitedly.  "Saturday?"
 
"Yeah, bro.  You wanna come through?"
 
"Definitely, man.  What time?"
 
"I'll prolly kick it off around 8 but you know it won't really go down till about ten," Kevin shrugged.
 
"Ain't gon be no sausage party, huh?" Paul joked.
 
"Hell naw," Kevin laughed.  "But listen, I wanna go kill this boss before I pass out, so I'mma catch you later."  Kevin began to jog off down the street.
 
"Yo, whatchu playin'!?" Paul called.
 
"Devil's Lore, man!  It's good!"
 
"Aight!  Hit me up!" Paul said before disappearing back inside.  He went inside and locked the doors, then put a clean bag in the trash can and washed his hands.  Paul sneaked into his mother's room to kiss her goodnight before returning upstairs to his room.  It was late, and Paul had to be up early to catch the bus.  He put his phone on vibrate before plugging it into the charger on his bedside table.  He said a brief prayer then climbed into bed.  He was excited for the party Saturday, as Kevin Garcia's parties were legendary in his neighborhood.  With fun on his mind, Paul turned over a few times before he finally fell asleep.

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#33
Skaia

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Thursday

Afternoon

With the first day behind her, Avery had made her way to the second day of school with much less issue. Having managed to avoid bumping into anyone that immediately recognized her, the girl made it to her classes without incident. Once there, she had her notebook at the ready, jotting down what she could. Of course, interestingly, every few minutes or so the girl's eyes would flit around the room, looking to her other students.
 
Reclining. Note taking. Day dreaming. 
 
Every five or so minutes, the girl's note taking would come to a stop. She would wait two minutes. Then the cycle would continue. Her posture slouched, her eyes would stay on the teacher but then, at seemingly random intervals, try to focus anywhere but. Her focus eventually rested on the boy - girl? No, it was boy - as the teacher had begun to ask them a question about their reading. The girl hadn't recognized who this person was, at least beyond being in this class yesterday as well, and briefly wondered what grade they were in. There were a few other things they were curious about, but the main one was wondering whether or not the Mr. St. Lawrence had a hearing problem or not, as he did not seem to react to the teacher's questioning at all. Again. And again. Until finally they responded. In spite of seeming to be caught off guard, Avery was impressed by her answer. As was the teacher. Going on with the rest of the class, their discussion continued. 
 
"...so what were your thoughts on it, Ms. Moreaux?" 
 
Eventually it had came her turn to sit in the crucible. While the professor looked at her, expectantly, it felt as though there was fire coming from his eyes. Beginning to gulp a bit, the girl averted her eyes away from him momentarily as she said, "u-um, well." She wasn't quite sure how to go on from there. Her eyes avoided the teacher's briefly, looking at the other students. 
 
Expectant. Nervous. Unfocused. 
 
Her eyes centered back on the professor, who raised an eyebrow, before she said, "w-well um, sorry. I left my, uh, book at school yesterday."
 
It was in her bag. 
 
Some of the students smirked, others nonplussed. The professor sighed saying, "well, at least have the decency to look up a summary online, like some students who remembered to bring their book home anyway." Standing up, he addressed the rest of the class saying, "remember students, I am not a lecturer, I am a professor. And this is not a lecture hall. It is a discussion. So, I expect you all to get your reading done, so I don't have to wear out my voice telling you things you should already know. Now then, Mr. Hughes." If there were a picture for an "oh shit" facial expression, it would be the student just called on. 
 


 
With the day having finished, Avery was more than ready to end her day and go home. However, as she was walking away from the school, she saw the familiar face of Lindsay, seeming to go about her own after school business. Changing her path, the girl ended up getting lost in the crowd and going with the flow. This had ended up in her getting to the auditorium, back to the club fair. The girl had been reminded of her action yesterday, having gone to join a club. She wasn't very fond of the idea. However, joining would do no good if she never showed up. Seeing the booth, she saw that there was a group of people who were busy playing games there already. As she began to step up to the place, she gulped. 
 
Her nerves were getting the best of her, though, they started to dwindle as someone else entered her field of view Him. 
 
Basketball. Star. Fallen. 
 
She knew who Jason was; it was only normal for a student at G.O.H. to know who he was. She wasn't planning on making a name for herself in this club to begin with, but because he was here, he was likely to draw far more attention than she was. All the same, while she was thinking this, she looked over to see the game that they were playing. She didn't know what it was, but it looked interesting all the same. And so, there she stood, not saying anything and merely staring at the screen. And there she would remain for the time being.


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#34
Hakima

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Midnight

Guilt Trip

Tyler had calmed down a lot by the time he pulled into his driveway, having burned up an entire gas tank’s worth of thoughts. He shouldn’t have gone off like that, but where had Nathan got off pulling that s*** with him? The automotive club was his hobby, no strings attached. If it came to it he could walk away without a second thought. Adding documentation, signatures, obligations… that made it another commitment, and he had more than enough of those.

 

He had thought Nathan understood that. Guess not. Tyler sighed and turned his key in the lock, blinking to adjust his eyes to the total darkness that was his living room. It was as empty as always, just two recliners with an inn table between them, placed directly in front of a wall-mounted TV.

 

He toed off his boots and headed for the kitchen, hoping to get something to eat before he headed to bed. It hadn’t occurred to him during his drive to stop for food so he was starving.

 

He noticed a silhouette seated at the table as he stepped through the door frame. Tyler immediately felt guilty. His old man left early and got home late, so he wasn’t used to him not being there by the time he got home. It must have worried him and when Tyler hadn’t responded to his phone… He cursed his previous decision to shut his phone off.

 

He approached the table and laid a hand on his father’s shoulder, shaking him softly. “Hey Pops,” he whispered. “You need to head to bed. You’ll kill your back sleeping like this.”  

 

His father groaned and sat up. “Wasn’t asleep,” he grumbled. “Just resting my eyes.”  He blinked a few times to clear the haze of sleep from his eyes and looked at Tyler. Unspoken relief flooded his features.

 

Tyler smirked. “Yeah yeah yeah. I stopped believing that when I was ten. Now c’mon, go to bed.” Tyler started to pull away and head to his own room.

 

A large hand wrapped around his wrist, stopping him dead in his tracks. “Hold on a minute Ty.” He turned back around to find his father standing up, arm outstretched to grab him.

 

Samuel Beckett was a large man. Tyler had inherited his height and broad shoulders, but where he was a brick wall, Tyler had taken after his mother’s more lean frame. His hair was short and he kept a short goatee, both of which were originally black but were beginning to pepper with age. He looked intimidating but Tyler had known for a long time he was just a big teddy bear.

 

“What happened today? Why did you get home so late?” he asked.

 

“Nothin’, just wanted to go for a drive. It’s no big deal,” Tyler said. His jaw twitched as he said it. His give away.

 

Samuel frowned. “You’re lyin’ Ty. What? You get into another fight?” His face fell. “You suspended? Expelled? Ty you know we don’t have many options left…”

 

Tyler shook his head. “Look, it’s nothin’ like that Pops. Just… You know that club I told you I joined? Automotive?”

 

Samuel nodded. “Yeah. The one with Nathaniel? He seemed like a good kid.”

 

“Yeah well, we got a fifth member today, and that meant we could sign up as an organization,” Tyler explained.

 

His father frowned. “So where’s the problem? That’s great news.”

 

“Yeah I thought so too. Then Nathan asked me to sign ownership with the club with him and…” Tyler sighed and dropped into a seat at the table. “It’s just a lot, Dad. Too many people too fast. I snapped and told them all to go f*** themselves and probably f***ed everything up.”

 

Samuel laid a hand on top of his shoulder. “I know Ty. It’s hard to let people in sometimes, huh?” He took the seat opposite Tyler. “I was a lot like you when I was a kid. First person I think I ever really let in was your momma, and when she left I was broke Ty. I shut everyone out and just stayed at work. It wasn’t fair ta’ you or anyone else but I didn’t know any better.”

 

Tyler crossed his arms and frowned, “but you stayed. Don’t beat yourself up Pops. Sure it wasn’t perfect but at least you didn’t leave.”

 

Samuel smiled sadly. “‘Course I did. That was the choice I made.” He reached into his shirt pocket and took out a pack of cigarettes, lighting one up before he continued. “I had this conversation with your Momma once,” he said, muffled from speaking around the cigarette. “I think there’s two types of people in the world. There’s people who tough through the pressure, stick around and see it through to the end, and there’s people who run when the goin’ gets tough.” He blew out a long cloud of smoke. “Neither’s wrong Ty. Your momma left, but sometimes I wonder if that was for the best. You may be too young to remember but she was miserable. She was always a city girl with a lotta dreams. She thought she was wastin’ her life with us.”

 

Tyler crossed his arms and snorted. “Because we just weren’t good enough for her. F***in' b****.”

 

Samuel snuffed out his cigarette in the ashtray on the table. “I know it’s hard to see Ty, but it didn’t have anythin’ to do with us. It was about her. She left because she felt that’s what she needed to do. Do I agree with it? Nah, I don’t really, but that doesn’t matter. Lookin’ back I’d rather raise ya on my own than with a woman who hates the fact that she’s with us.”

 

Tyler stared down at the smoldering remains of the cigarette, not saying anything. Samuel went on. “What I’m tryin’ to say is you’ve got a question to ask yourself Ty. Are you gonna be the type to run, or the type to stay?” Samuel stood up and headed for the door. “I’ll be here no matter what choice you make, but I’m not who you should be worried about losin’.”

 

“Goodnight Ty. See ya tomorrow.”


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