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ley
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PostSubject: Re: Random Stories   Sun Sep 20, 2015 9:11 pm

Now:

The smaller man wakes up to the sound of a phone hitting the floor.

"Oh, no, I woke you up, I'm sorry."

There is glassy fear in the other man's eyes. Transparent, and so, so obvious. Expectimg something he doesn't want to hear.

"Go back to sleep, okay?"

He doesn't listen, of course. He never does. Stubborn to the point of breaking, he was. He climbs out of the bed, crawls over and puts his hand on the taller man's knee.

"Are you okay?" he asks, like it's his job to do so. No. It was supposed to be Andrew's job. "Why are you crying?"

"I'm—I'm not."

He looks at Andrew, the way he's looked at him a hundred times. The 'You're-Lying-To-Me' look. Andrew finds it equal parts annoying and adorable, with the wrinkles between eyebrows and the half-pout.

"Isaac, it's fine. You go to bed, I'm there in a minute."

And there it goes, that still blankness in his eyes Andrew's got to know all too well these years. That look, when he doesn't recognise him.

"I'm sorry, but, um… Who are you?"

***

Pt 1: Words

"Hi."

"Hello there. I'm Isaac, nice to meet you. Been waiting for a long time?"

"Yeah. Green card issues."

"Australian?"

"Yeah. I'm Andrew, by the way."

"Andrew." Isaac repeats the name with a smile. The name is something Andrew never forgets, and something Isaac never remembers.

***

"What do you mean?"

"Look, Andrew, it's nothing personal, but I think you should stay away."

"But, Tatiana—"

"Please. Just… Go, dear God, I don't want to deal with this."

Andrew is showed out of the Knight house, not understanding.

***

"Mornin', Isaac. Fancy a coffee, while we wait?"

"Huh? Sorry, do I know you?"

"It's Andrew, from Monday?"

"I don't remember you, I'm sorry. That's my number, I gotta go."

Andrew wants to call out to him, but decides against it. Instead, he goes to Tatiana.

***

"He forgets. Sometime he'll go on for a week, remembering, but mostly he forgets daily. It's not something which can be fixed. Believe me, the doctors tried."

"But that doesn't mean you should stop treating hin like a human."

"Oh, my brother is more human than most of the people, but he can't have a relationship, not when he doesn't even know who he is."

Andrew promises himself to prove her wrong.


***

Pt 2: First

"Isaac?" Andrew calls out from across of the room. A brunet head cruises through the crowd to retrieve his coffee. Andrew'd written a note on the cup, and has his fingers crossed while Isaac reads.

Isaac looks up from his table, finds Andrew with his eyes. Grins. Nods.

"Yes?" Andrew mouths.

"Yes", he replies.

It feels like a huge weight off of his back.

It's a first of many dates.

***

"I don't mind it, Isaac", he says, not letting go of his hands. And he doesn't mind. He doesn't mind, because he doesn't want to let go of Isaac. There is something organic to him, something so real, and it feels like the only solid part of his life. "I don't care if you forget, because it always feels like you're coming back to me."

Andrew has known Isaac for two months. Isaac has known Andrew for six hours. After Andrew showed him pictures of them together, Isaac could have just left. He could have said it was fake, and left Andrew for good.

It was Andrew's fourty sixth date. Isaac's first.

It was Andrew's first kiss.

Somewhere between his eyes closing and opening to a blink, Isaac pounced up, tangled his fingers in Andrew's hair, had time to hesitate, and was now smiling into the kiss.

"Hope I've never kissed you before", Isaac says, his lips brushing against Andrew's. "Cuz this is a perfect first kiss."

Andrew can't think of words to say. So Isaac says something which breaks Andrew's heart a little bit.

"Don't let me forget this moment."

Andrew lets him.

It's a first of many kisses.

***

Now:

"I'm Andrew." Unfortunately, he's gotten used to the question over the three years. It doesn't mean it doesn't feel tragic.

"Why am I here? Where am I?" Isaac asks.

"It's okay", Andrew gets up, "you're safe. You can call Tatiana if you want, you're not kidnapped." He has to look strong, for Isaac, look like he knows what he's doing, because Isaac doesn't know.

His parents found out about Isaac, and they're threatening never to let him see his sisters again. He can't even fathom how that might be.

"Tatiana", Isaac repeats, staring out of the window.

"You're in my flat, three bus stops from your home. If you want, I can call her to pick you up." It hurts to say. Those words are razor blades, cutting his throat.

"Andrew", Isaac says, and Andrew dares to look at him.

Why is he crying? He's not supposed to cry, ever. Was he scared, of being in the unknown? He has slept over at Andrew's more than a couple of times before, it can't be that.

Standing nearly a foot shorter than him, Isaac looks up, mouth open, and runs towards him.

Jumps, clings to him.

Cries into his neck, saying the only words Andrew wants to hear.

"I remember. I remember it all."

"Isaac", Andrew says, and it's all he says before Isaac kisses him.

He never forgets.

_________________
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did u mean "my writing at 2 am"
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PostSubject: Re: Random Stories   Wed Sep 30, 2015 7:23 am

It's not even six o'clock, and they're already awake at this ungodly hour.

"Aw, this is disgusting", Cali says, doing his best not to move his lips from that one particular spot below Freddie's ear.

"Shoulda showered yesterday", Freddie suggested. He feels just a bit too warm, with Cali's flushed body against his. "How's that cold coming up?"

"Sleeping on it didn't work", Cali replies. Yesterday he was a frightening number of 40℃, and it must have been the only time Freddie saw him lacking a witty response embelished with a swear (except for the occasional 'fuck my life' and 'screw you, Miller, I know people who'd still bang me like this'). But, no matter what happened, Cali was still one hell of a flirt, and even though some time yesterday he didn't know his own name, he managed to drag Freddie off the sofa to the bedroom in his first try. "Sleeping with it, however, might have."

"I'm not an object", Freddie makes a displeased noise, and only prolongs it as Cali removes his lips from his skin.

"Gotta shower. This is the worst", Cali says, and sniffs. "God, Freddie, if you'd have me when I'm like this, you really have to check your priorities."

"I survive you on a daily basis, I think that's enough." Cali gets up and stretches. He blinks wildly twice.

"Well, I think gravity solved the whole nose situation."

"Go shower, Cali. Or are you waiting for me to go shower with you? Cuz it ain't happening. I'm not getting up til nine."

"Suit yourself", Cali says and walks slowly, and Freddie makes a show of pointedly staring.

"See something you like, Miller?" Cali asks, but it seems like all the joy has been sucked out of his words. "Even sick as fuck I still get all these stares from you. You worthless good-for-nothing piece of shit." Freddie smiles fondly as Cali's words become quieter and less involved.

He fiddles with his hair for a minute or two, listening to the shower running before he remembers something. Something he did but didn't even know why he did it. He blames Cali, for suggesting that he dyes his hair purple. He blames Cali even when he hears a shout coming from the bathroom.

"Jesus Christ! I don't believe this, Frederick Miller you fucker did you put fucking bleach in my hair shampoo?"

---

"Celebrity news: Miller's boyfriend seen going to a hair, his hair white, and coming out tinted purple. Is that for thr upcoming New York Pride? Stay tuned!"

_________________
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did u mean "my writing at 2 am"
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PostSubject: Re: Random Stories   Sun Oct 04, 2015 4:14 pm

I Wish You Knew Me

He's in a cafe, stealing the internet. It almost feels like he's a hacker or something, thrown carelessly on the sofa, his laptop on his knees and headphones covering his ears. If he was to be honest, the headphones were there just for show. He taps the refresh button, but nothing happens. He sighs and takes the glasses off to rub his tired eyes and run his hand through his hair in a quick and a fluid motion, and the world is a blur of colours for a second. It can still freak him out sometimes, so he returns the thick glasses where they were. Finally, there’s a waitress heading his way, so he braces for questioning. She smiles at him politely, an obvious sign for him to take his headphones off. And he does. The waitress tells him the usual things, and Benedict stares at her lips, hoping she won’t take it the wrong way. She raises her eyebrow, and Benedict taps his hearing aid.
 
“60% deaf”, he explains, his own voice seeming distanced to him. “I’ll have a regular to go.”
 
The waitress looks at him like he’s just grown a third arm right out of his forehead. He sighs and returns his headphones just in time to hear a loud beep, which was the 2015 version of the ‘You’ve got mail’ pop-up. He tries not to make a satisfied ‘yesss’ noise, fails miserably. He clicks twice on the new mail icon. It’s from the military, and he’s been waiting for it for weeks.
 
‘Dear Mr Bennett’, it starts, ‘we’re pleased to inform you that your entry for the military pen palling programme fulfilled all of our requirements and that you’ve been assigned a partner.’ And a bunch of other political and technological words Benedict doesn’t bother to understand. At the bottom there is an address and a name.
 
He shoves his laptop and headphones in his denim backpack and pulls out change out of the side pocket. He counts the coins under his breath before paying for his coffee on the counter. His coffee is hot in his hand, and he’s so glad he always orders ‘to go’, otherwise this manoeuvre would’ve been impossible.
 
“Leaving already?” asked the waitress, seemingly coming to terms with his third arm. “Jeez, man, I swear you were a double agent in your past life or somethin’.”
 
“Me?” Benedict asks with a small smile. “Yeah, no.” He makes sure to leave a couple of coins as a tip.
 
He thinks about what she said, though. Why did he apply to the programme? He guesses that it’s because he craves that extra kick of adrenaline which just doesn’t appear during his daily morning jog. And, as his medical carton says, he’s just not made for military. Asthma was something he always had, and has gotten used to it, but a quite nasty car crash when he was seventeen sealed his fate. Honestly, he would have given his life if he stopped feeling this gut-wrenching guilt.
 
He shakes it off and rubs his temples. Breathing was already a hassle, and getting his heart rate elevated only meant more pain in the chest area. He heads to the flat, and stops at the supermarket to get some milk.
 
***
 
Mia is a baker in a small pastry shop downtown, and, not the only, but the significant reason Benedict’s not buried 6 feet underground. She’s the number one on his speed-dial and his emergency contact when he decides to spontaneously faint while walking up the stairs or walking down the street. She never gets worried, or at least it never shows, and Benedict can respect that.
 
Catching his breath from the three flights of stairs, he walks into the flat.
“Evening, sweetheart.” No matter how many times he tried to convince her not to, she keeps on calling him that. He guesses that it’s useless to argue.
 
“Hey, Mia”, he says and puts the milk on the kitchen counter. “Do we have any envelopes in the flat?” He waits for a second, then continues talking. “I have a pen pal in the military.”
 
“Oh, yeah, that thing.” It is in Mia’s nature to know everything about people, and, ultimately, Benedict. He never told her about the pen palling thing. She invited herself to read his mails. But Benedict has stated a long time ago he doesn’t mind, as long as Mia doesn’t read his personal mails, which she doesn’t. “Who is it?”
 
“Sergeant Lee”, he answers, liking the way that name rolls off his tongue. He can only imagine all the stories he’ll read from the Sergeant. Maybe he’ll even feel like he’s there with them, fighting for what he believes in…
 
“Okay, don’t fall in love just yet”, Mia says with a fond smile. “I don’t feel it’s smart to get your hopes up. “ Benedict shakes his head.
 
“No way. This is legit.”
 
“Benedict.” Her voice is calm, like every time she has to deliver bad news, or what she thinks is bad news. “What if the Sergeant is rude or something? Also, would you just chill, otherwise you’re going to die of stroke.”
 
Benedict, who can feel his heartbeat in his ears and throat, decides that it’s a valid idea and plops without grace onto the sofa.
 
“Dinner?” Mia asks, raising her voice as she turns her back to Benedict. “I’ve got some cake from the shop-“
 
“Might skip dinner tonight”, he says, staring at the TV which was turned off. “You could say I’m a bit anxious.”
 
“It’s raspberry cheesecake”, she says, and Benedict ignores what he had just said.
 
“Sign me in.”
 
Mia smiles a knowing smile.
 
***
 
‘Dear Sgt Lee’, he starts, then immediately stops. Should he say ‘dear’? He barely knows the person. Also, is his handwriting readable? A million other places where he could make a mistake pop into his mind. Wouldn’t have it been easier if they’d just emailed? Do they have internet on the battlefront? And does ‘Sgt’ sound too chat-speak? Probably. He stares at the paper, crosses the first line out, and starts again.
 
(He just knows what Brett and Jon will tell him about wasting precious nature resources. Goddamned tree-huggers. Benedict knows more about recycling and global warming than he wants to.)
He writes the letter for an hour or so, stopping a couple of times to check if Mia is asleep, to get more cheesecake and to stare at the clock in disbelief, because, wow, is it that late already? When he’s done, he folds the letter, puts it into an envelope, and writes the address. Adds his own on the front, and decides to sleep on it. Later he’ll regret the letter.
 
***
 
Sergeant Lee,
 
my name is Benedict Bennett, and you have the (mis)fortune of being my pen pal for the rest of your tour in Afghanistan. You can always not write back, just a friendly reminder.
 
I should start with telling you something about myself. Now, I’m going to mention something because I have to, then carry on with not feeling sorry for myself. You can just ignore me. My life, at least the physical one, sucks. I might sometimes not write for weeks, personal reasons. There, I’m done.
 
I’m from Essex, currently residing on a very soft sofa bed at Mia’s. She’s really worried it might hurt my back, the sweet thing. First thing you should know about Mia: she worries too much about people in general.
 
I’m twenty four, fresh off of Lit college. Majored in English and French literature. You must think I was the biggest nerd in the school. Spoiler alert: I was.
 
That’s it, I guess I’m not very interesting once you know the main points of my life. What about you? I don’t even know your name, they didn’t send it to me. I guess you can write an entire letter off of that prompt, right? You ready? Set, go!
 
Benedict
 
***
 
“Hey”, Benedict says as he hops into the tram. The station is a half hour walk from Mia’s flat, and even that’s too much for him. He’s panting, and his tram buddy, Brett, is looking at him sympathetically. Brett works in the same building as Benedict, but he’s in the Ecology/Nature book section, while Benedict’s three floors down, on Editing. Not the most suitable job for him, but a man’s gotta work.
 
“Hello”, Brett says with a smile. “Heard you got yourself a pen pal.”
 
Benedict sighs and pushes his glasses up his nose.
 
“Mia just has to go around telling everybody, right?”
 
“Right”, Brett nods. He’s glanced at Benedict’s heavy laptop bag and rolled his eyes. “I told you not to carry it around.”
 
“I’m not made out of glass. Hey, on the previous topic”, Benedict unzips one of the bag pockets and pulls out the letter. “You’re headed towards Jon during lunch break?”
 
Jonathan works two blocks away from their office building, as a court translator. On his way to Jonathan, Brett passes next to a post office, and Benedict doesn’t think he can walk any more today.
 
“You want me to send this?” Brett asks, and, when Benedict nods, takes the letter. “Sure deal. Is that the letter to the soldier?”
 
“Yeah”, Benedict says. “I don’t usually send letters, do I?”
 
“I guess not”, Brett shrugs and puts the letter carefully in his bag. “Only God knows how this arrangement is going to work”, he says, and Benedict has to agree. After all the shit writing he’s done, Sergeant Lee won’t even respond.
 
“Let’s hope that at least they’ll take pity on me- People have been doing that for years now.”
 
***
 
The rest of the week is boring with its usualness, and Benedict can’t wait to get a response to his letter. It’s nearly the only thing which keeps him sane.
 
He comes home from work, drops his bag on the sofa, and throws himself next to Mia.
 
“This whole waiting thing… is killing me”, he pants. Mia grins and ruffles his hair.
 
“Imagine how it must have been for friends and lovers who were separated back when they didn’t have phones or anything”, Mia says. Benedict stops and considers, waits for his heart to calm down, and replies.
 
“I guess you’re right. The wait only makes the letters they wrote more meaningful.”
 
“See, I ain’t half bad”, she says. The intercom beeps an annoying sound, which Benedict doesn’t register, but Mia does. “We have guests.”
 
“Do we?” he raises his head. Mia walks to the intercom and presses a button, opening the front door.
 
“I hope it’s pizza!”
 
“Did you order pizza?”
 
“No.”
 
It wasn’t pizza. It was Jon, holding up an envelope.
 
“Hey there”, Mia hugs him. “What made you stop by? Come on in!” Jon walks in and heads to the sofa to sit next to Benedict.
 
“I bring presents”, he says with that characteristic smirk for which Brett claims that it made him fall in love with Jon. Girls (and Brett) are known to swoon over that smile, and the word is, Jon was a real heartbreaker back in the day.
 
“Is that what I think it is?” Benedict says, snatching over the letter.
 
“’f course. I don’t bring shit presents”, but Benedict has already sprinted to the bathroom to read the letter in peace.
***
 
Hey Ben!
 
I’m Amelia, or Sergeant Amelia-May Lee, if you want to be precise, but I hope my superiors aren’t reading, so just Amelia it is. Wow, you’re a Lit major? You’re going to tell me how shit my sentence structure is and give me lessons on vocabulary? No? Please don’t.
 
Why should I feel sorry for you? You should feel sorry for me, I don’t have any kind of degree. I barely finished high school. ADHD, the teacher said, but I just didn’t want to learn stuff I won’t use in life, right?
 
I decided to enrol right after my senior year because I didn’t see the point of going to college to get a degree in a field I don’t like. Military was my choice number one, because you always have to do something. There is no free time to reconsider your life choices. Do you get what I’m talking about? I guess not.
 
Military is tough. It’s not for everybody, but I like it. Don’t get me wrong, there were some times when I regretted my decision, but mostly I’m satisfied.
 
What would you do if you didn’t have the option to go to college? I bet you’re real interesting, but you just don’t want to brag. See/Write (???) ya!
 
Amelia
 
***
 
“It’s a girl!” Benedict calls out from the bathroom. The response from the living room is minimal. The two don’t have any interest in the female population. Yes, Sergeant Lee was a girl, not a glum, tall, muscular man who grows out his beard and chews tobacco like bubble gum like he’d imagined. And, one more thing, is it possible to like the way a person expresses themselves, but to only have read a single letter written by them?
 
Benedict’s read so many books, poems, stories, fairy tales, and, yet, nothing had caused this feeling below his chest. It’s a warm feeling, like all Amelia does in her life is write to him. All she does is tell Benedict her story.
 
“You’re not going to fall madly in love with her now, are you?” asks Mia.
 
Benedict tries. He really, really does.
 
***
 
Amelia,
it’s Benedict. Ben is a brand of rice, I think.
 
I understand your point. 90% of the things you learn in school is rubbish. I don’t remember a single physics formula from high school. And yet, you kind of need the remaining 10% to do something with your life. You’ve decided military, and that’s your (not unwise) choice. When does your tour end?
 
If I didn’t go to college… You ask difficult questions. I guess it was never an option not to go to college, because college opened the door to all the jobs I’m capable of doing, considering.
(…)
 
Where did you live before? And do you have any hobbies? I don’t even know. Write back soon. You have no idea how much your letter made my day better. Ah, spontaneous rhyme. It’s a curse of Lit majors.
 
Benedict
 
***
 
Ben(edict. Benedict is way too long of a name. Sure, Amelia is, as well, but at least I allow people to shorten it, you know. It’s a nice personality trait. You should acquire it.)
 
(…)
 
I lived in Yorkshire with mum, dad, and my brother. I think that he’s moved to Canada with his girlfriend or something. We couldn’t have been from farthest parts of the country, you and me, yeah?
 
(…)
 
My friends (cell-mates, bunk-bedders, room-buddies, MORONS) insist on taking the letter from me and reading it first. Who knew boys were so aggressive?
 
That was sarcasm, by the way. It’s kind of hard to get through with writing.
 
Amelia
 
PS: one of my friends, Jonathan, says that this is a love story just waiting to happen. Where did he get that idea?
 
***
 
Dear Am,
see, that’s how your name looks and my name feels when shortened. Unfinished. Dull. Superficial. Undignified. Orwell. Hitchcock. I thought I was making a list of random words. I’m sorry, Lit humour. Not many people get it. It’s absolutely awful.
 
What are the odds, I repeat, WHAT ARE THE ODDS. What if I told you that I also have a friend named Jonathan? Is your Jonathan, by any chance, brunet? Green-eyed? Gay? A virgo? This reminds me too much off a horror movie. This is scary, Amelia. This is the real deal.
 
(…)
 
Yeah, Mia has begun to read my letters as well. I don’t know why. I think she also thinks we’re star-crossed lovers or something. Well, guess what, Amelia, life is not a Nicolas Sparks book.
 
(Do you read Nicholas Sparks books? They make you want to hurl.)
 
But anyway. I’m open to all possibilities.
 
BenEDICT
 
***
 
Dearest BenEDICT ARE YOU HAPPY NOW YOU COMMUNIST NICKNAME HITLER,
 
my Jonathan is brunet, and gay, but brown-eyed and a scorpio. Fifty fifty. Good enough. And yes, still creepy. On that topic, Mr Benedict Bennett, I’m curious enough to ask. We’ve been writing to each other for what, two months, and I still don’t know how you look like. Shall you correct that wrong?
 
(…)
 
Amelia
 
***
 
Dear Ames (this nickname I like. I’m keeping it.),
 
I swear to God, the Jonathan thing is the beginning of the inevitable collapse of the universe and time itself. You just wait.
 
(…)
 
Why do you care how I look like? Edging on pervert, now, are you? But okay, I’ll bite. Imagine, I don’t know, Stephen King. I’m his polar opposite.
 
Okay, maybe that’s a bad example. Let’s put it this way; I’m so small you can step on me but then you’d get scared by my freaky eyes. That’s what’s important. Actually, no, not small, weak is the word. I’m taller than Mia, but could easily be Brett and Jon’s adopted child. There’s that.
 
Benedict
 
***
 
“Morning”, Mia wakes Benedict up shoving a plate biscuits under his nose. “Guess what’s in the mail.”
 
“Bills”, he groans and stretches. “No, wait.” He’s alert, all of a sudden. “Letter from Amelia?”
 
“Not just a letter from Amelia”, Mia says with a stupid grin on her face. She first hands over Benedict’s glasses, cuddles into the blanket and gives him the letter. “This one’s questionably thick. I didn’t open it”, she says as Benedict is ripping the letter open. “Sheesh, calm.” Benedict leaves the actual letter in the envelope, and pulls out another piece of interest which was in it. A picture.
 
“Shit, Mia”, is his only response. The girl and the boy in it are in military attire. The boy’s hand is over the girls’ shoulder, and they’re laughing at something, probably the person taking the picture. The boy’s brunet, just like she described him, but her hair is… something else. Benedict is not a writer, he can’t describe it, and he can’t even begin.
 
“What?” she looks at the picture. “Ooh, is that her?”
 
“Is it possible to fall in love with someone you’ve never met?” Benedict asks.
 
That question has been in his mind for a couple of days, and whenever he tried to ask someone about it, his heart would start trying to break his ribs so he’d give up, but now, he had no time to think ahead.
 
Mia stares at him, eyes blank for a moment or so.
 
“Sweetheart… Crap, you’re already in it too deep, aren’t you?” Benedict shrugs, but it’s more of a defeat shrug. Mia’s face breaks into an uneven, fond smile. “You know, you talk shit about Nicholas Sparks novels, when, in reality, you’re just the same.”
 
“No, no…” he shakes his head dismissively. “What, you think she’s into me? I’m thinking more, ‘ah, ew, creep, don’t write to me ever again’.”
 
“Every girl loves a disgusting cheesy love story with a sappy plot. And by every girl, I mean absolutely everyone. We all want our lives to be a best-selling novel.”
 
“Are you going to say that this is my chance to make my life #1 on New York Times list?”
 
“Precisely. Now you go read that letter.”
 
***
 
Benedict,
 
I meant a picture. Do I have to spell out everything for you, otherwise you’ll send me a description? Seems like it. Oh, by the way, my tour ends in three months. Jonathan’s making me write this, but is there any possibility that I stay with you and Mia for a day or two until I find a place of my own? It’s okay if you don’t want to. I can always stay with Jonathan, it’s no big deal, but here’s the catch; he lives in Philadelphia, and I want to be closer to home. Sorry for a short letter, I hope the picture makes up to it.
 
Amelia
 
***
 
Benedict doesn’t get a chance to reply.
 
***
 
(Outgoing call)
BEEP BEEP BEEP
(Missed call)
 
***
 
(Four missed calls from: Sweetheart)
(Two missed calls from: Hippie)
 
***
 
“Hey, Brett…” Benedict appears in Brett’s office, flushed and panting.
 
“Ben?” Brett stops writing on his computer and gets up. “You shouldn’t have come, I could’ve gone to you… What is it?”
 
“I-It’s probably nothing, I-I mean”, the stairs are deadly for Benedict. Running, he can deal with, he actually runs when he can, as it’s the only thing his stupid heart tolerates, but stairs. “I can’t reach Mia. I-I called her and she’s not responding, but she always does, and, I- God-“
 
And Brett has to leap to catch Benedict’s weak frame falling to the floor.
 
***
 
Benedict opens his eyes to a blur and silence, and immediately panics. He hears something in the distance, and feels someone’s hands grab his face and shove glasses up his nose. It was Mia, with a bruise on her forehead, but thankfully, alive. He’s so focused on checking if anything else is wrong with her, he doesn’t even read her lips to understand what she’s saying. So, Mia, being Mia, shakes him to get his attention.
 
“Ben?” she mouths slowly. “You’re fine. They took out your…” she points at her ears. “Gave you pills for your heart. You’re okay,” and Benedict doesn’t understand the rest of her words because she leaps forward and hugs him so tight he can’t breathe for a second. She lets go when she hears him wheeze.
 
“Mia”, he says, but it’s hard to speak when you can’t hear yourself.
 
“It’s fine. I’m getting you out the first chance I get.”
 
***
 
Mia got hit in the head by a stray basketball, and was overall fine, while Benedict nearly had a heart attack and, if Brett hadn’t caught him, a concussion. They stayed in the hospital for two days, just for the regular check-up (Benedict had to go anyway). They went home after that, and were in unofficial recovery for a week. And in all that time, Benedict forgot that he didn’t send his letter to Amelia, even though it was written a day before the accident.
 
***
 
Benedict,
 
did I do something wrong? It’s not even my idea to stay at yours, I swear I’m not using Jonathan as an excuse. It’s okay, I’m already arranging to go to the States. No big deal. Just don’t stop writing just like that. I’ve known you for not long now, but I like you. I want you to introduce me to Mia, she seems to be just like the nicest person ever. I want to introduce you to Jonathan, and to my world.
 
I’m sorry if I was too forward. It’s just who I am. (It’s still Jonathan’s fault.)
 
Amelia
 
***
 
Amelia,
 
no no no NO I would love it if you’d stayed. I swear to God, I wrote you a letter but there were complications. Nothing too bad, situations like this happen every once in a while. Tell Jonathan, I’m sorry, not sorry, but there’s a bed with your name on it in the outskirts of London. It has to be some two months until your tour ends, right? Give me the specific date and time, and Mia and I are at Gatwick at that time waiting for you.
 
I sound desperate, don’t I? I’m not. I’m just really excited to see you. And, this may be just the pills wearing off, but what if this is a love story in the making? I don’t want to miss out on somebody like you, I really don’t. You know, might as well go full way on this and hope the plane which carries this letter crashes and burns.
 
I’m so afraid you’ll take one look at me and just say, ‘crap, who the hell is this guy’, turn on your heel and walk away. I’m not the kind of person people look at twice without going, ‘awh, poor kid’, and if one more person tells me they’re sorry, I’ll throw my glasses at them. So yeah. I’m afraid to tell you I really like you because I fear rejection. There you go. Now you have the reason not to write back.
 
Benedict
 
***
 
“I might have expressed my undying love to Amelia.”
 
“Goddamnit, sweetheart, not you too.”
 
***
 
Benedict,
 
how do I respond to this? I’ve been trying to summarise what I’m feeling for about an hour and nothing has come up. I’ve decided to try to form it into words when I see you. In the meantime, we’re going on a field mission, so I don’t think I’ll be able to write. Ha, look, I can barely write now. I’ve sent you the details about the flight on the other paper. Until then, then?
 
Love,
Amelia
 
***
 
“Benedict, please calm down, I hear your heartbeat all the way to here, I don’t want you getting a heart attack before meeting her”, Mia says, putting her hand on Benedict’s.
 
“I just might. She won’t like me, I just know it.”
 
“Shut up, you weak shit.”
 
They sit in silence for a couple of minutes, the only noise being Benedict’s foot tapping the floor impatiently. Then, from the speakers:
 
“Flight 187, delayed landing time due to storms in Turkey. Expected arrival time: in half an hour.”
 
“For fuck’s sake.”
 
“Sweetheart, you’re yelling.”
 
“I can yell all I want. I can’t believe this.”
 
“Damnit.”
 
***
 
“The plane landed ten minutes ago. Where is she?”
 
“You didn’t send her your pic, did you?” Mia asks, and Benedict shakes his head. “Well, then, how is she supposed to know who we are?”
 
“Do we hold up a sign or something?”
 
In that brief flash of panic, they didn’t see a red head cruising through the crowd, stop, and hurry forward. Benedict’s still saying something about not wanting to take pictures of himself, when Mia raises her head and says something, quieter than she usually speaks to Benedict, so he doesn’t hear it. He, however, feels when somebody’s hand touches his shoulder.
 
He just knows he goes completely pale as he’s turning around and facing Amelia.
 
She looks exactly like she does in the picture, smile and all. She’s saying something which Benedict can’t hear, and he knows Mia’s telling her to speak up a bit, which annoys him, so instead he focuses on her lips. He reads out three words, ‘oh, fuck it’, and he’s not even registering it, but she’s pulling him in for a hug, she’s pulling him in for a kiss, and he can hear Mia’s laughter, Amelia’s laughter, and his own, as he kisses her back.
 
It’s something which feels natural to him.

_________________
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PostSubject: Re: Random Stories   Tue Oct 20, 2015 9:53 pm

Halloween Bam
"This is stupid."
"You're stupid. Now hold still." Amelia added the final part, grinning brightly at her masterpiece. Also known as her bestfriend very badly dressed up as a zombie. Benedict snatched his glasses off of the desk and shoved them sharply onto his face, checking himself in the mirror.
"Amelia..." He complained. His face was covered in a green paint like substance with fake cuts stuck wonkily on his cheek. His hair looked greasy and dirty, sticking up in any which way direction, looking much like a dead rabbit had been dumped onto his head. His clothes had been shredded partially, different parts had been dabbed in red paint, supposedly blood.
"Shush. Don't complain, it is halloween. You're meant to embrace it." Amelia smiled brightly at him, checking down on her outfit. Her outfit was a simple witch costume, the only makeup on top of the amount she normally wears was deep black eyeliner and black lipstick. Her dress draped nicely over her body, and her hat stood at a fashionably crooked angle on top of her back combed red hair.
"But you look so much better than me " Benedict continued to grumble, pushing the glasses, that were sliding more than normal, up his nose.
"You look positively Halloweeny, Benny." Benedict groaned loudly at the nickname, making Amelia grin wider as she tapped his cheek before tidying her makeup away. The only reason Benedict had agreed to going to this Halloween party was because Amelia wouldn't shut up about it. She loved Halloween. All the makeup and dressing up was right up her alley. Meanwhile, Benedict didn't mind Halloween as long as he doesn't have to take part. Like he has to now.
Amelia picked up a dead looking stuffed cat from her sofa and headed to the dormroom door, Benedict trailing after her. Maybe he could put up with this makeup and party. Amelia is always most beautiful when she is happy. Even when dressed as a witch.
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PostSubject: Re: Random Stories   Thu Nov 19, 2015 9:52 pm

Her head hurts. She feels like she's underwater, the pressure rings in her ears. And she's pulled out.

"Amelia?" she opens her eyes to a stranger in military clothes. She panics, and goes to sit up, but feels a shaep pain at the side of her head.

The stranger pushes her down gently.

"Whoa, there, sweetheart." His voice is gentle and sorrowful, and she wonders what she did wrong. He lifts her hand, featherlight, and places a bottle of water with a straw in it. "Drink up."

Something told her that she should not trust that man. She eyes him with suspicion. The man smiles.

"C'mon, you can trust me, Ames. I wouldn't hurt hi— you."

The nickname he used sends an unpleasant chill of rememberance down her spine. It reminds her of something, but somehow she doesn't know of what.

She grabs the straw between her teeth and drinks. The liquid stings her throat.

She's in a hospital, she guesses, judging by the pain in her head, and people in beds around her. There are two beds directly on her right, which are hidden by a curtain. She wonders what they hide.

"What happened?" he asks suddenly, staring at the curtains. He shakes it off and looks at her.

"Huh, what?"

"What happened to the building? I thought you and—" a sharp inhale, "I thought that your team was supposed to disable the bombs."

"I—" she feels like the event should have been familiar to her, but it wasn't. She doesn't recall a building, she doesn't remember bombs. "I don't remember."

"You don't?" he asks. "Yeah, the doctors thought so, as well. Amnesia." He touches her forehead gently. She winces. "What's the last thing you remember?"

"I… Don't. Anything. I don't even know who you are."

The man bites his lip and frowns.

"That's not good. Mm…" he's thinking what to do, but somebody calls him from the outside. "Be right back."

Amelia is exhausted from the pain. She falls asleep while she waits.

---

She dreams of blue eyes and a fire, and screams which seem to freeze the blood im her veins and cut off her legs. Shrieks, more. Nobody screams like that, unless they're in utter and deathly agony, or in unbearable physical pain. She doesn't want to know who the person was, because she'd rather not think that it was real.

Of course it's not. It's just a dream.

---

She's woken up by that same man from before. One bed from behind the curtains is now empty, and she can't help but to think that they're gone.

"Hey", the man's voice is kind and warm, "you've been out for a while again."

"Yeah, sorry. I just… What happened? That got me here?"

She already guessed she was some sort of military, or maybe state's secret employees, but that doesn't mean she knows everything.

"A bomb went off, the one you were supposed to get rid off… And that's all we know. Some of our best people are out of the picture… But you're good. He'd be happy to know you're alive."

The man frowns, and his breath shivers. He looks like he's fighting tears.

"Who?"

"… I can't believe you don't remember, I'm sorry, I can't…" His eyes are fixated on a random white tile, unmoving. Then he tells her a story. "You… You and him were… Together. And he would do anything to keep you safe. It's a flaw, of sorts, and he was well aware of it. You were his only weak spot. He knew that it was dangerous for him and for the entire team if you went with, but you literally couldn't be apart. He couldn't bear not being with you if any of you got hurt. And he got hurt."

He looks at Amelia, and his eyes are drilling into hers with an intensity of an avalanche.

"I don't know what happened to him. Nobody does. I'm guessing he tried to save you, like he always does. He can't keep himself from it. He saves you by demolishing himself."

"Who's 'he'?"

"Benedict."

He glances at the curtain, and she thinks that he might be there.

But she doesn't remember him.

---

Until she does.

It comes to her as she's trying to fall asleep.

"Go circle the building. See if anyone's watching, and if not, get in."

"Yessir."

"Told you not to say that. Ames?"

"Yeah?"

"You follow me, I need you to reprogram the bombs and get the data of shootings."

"Mkay."

Others leave until there is nobody but them.

"Please don't do anything foolish."

"Never."

They go into the building, find the room they need. Quietly, nobody can hear them. Amelia goes to the computer, puts the data she needs to download to do so, and starts typing away while Benedict goes to the hall to get rid of all threats. He notices something.

"Ames."

"Not right now, Ben—"

"The bombs aren't in the base. They're here."

00:20. 00:19.

"Go, run! I'll finish the data transfer, you tell others to run!"

"No way. I'm not leaving you."

"Yes way. You have to save the rest of the team, c'mon, run!"

00:12. 00:11.

She doesn't want to leave, but her feet move by themselves, and she's running out.

"Away from the building!" She yells, and some of them hear, some of them don't.

00:03. 00:02.

"Benedict!"

Explosion. Fire.


---

There's a hand on her shoulder so she opens her eyes. It's the man from before.

"Hey, Ames, you okay?"

Her eyes are watery, and her cheeks are wet, and there's something in her throat which limits her breathing.

"Why did you call me that?" she whimpers.

"Because he called you that, it rubbed off on me. Are you okay?"

She shakes her head and buries it into her hands.

She doesn't know who she is, but she knows that man's feelings. Benedict's. And she doesn't know would she be able to do the same thing.

Some things resurface; she remembers them. And knows; she would die in a heartbeat for him.

Did he die for her?

"Where is he", she doesn't have to say his name, the man's already responding to her broken, hollow voice.

"Behind the curtain. The doctors managed to save his legs from the burns but are not positive aboit the amount of smoke he inhaled. They give him a day, if nothing happens…"

He chokes.

"I can't believe it. He was so… Untouchable."

The man's wrong. She was the untouchable one; because of him. Now, when the first wall of defence has fallen, it's her turn.

"But he's a fighter", the man claims. "If anybody can survive this, it's him. Because of—"

"Me."

Amelia wouldn't understand this type of love if she wasn't a part of it.

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PostSubject: Re: Random Stories   Thu Nov 19, 2015 10:23 pm

Misread

Danny [11/03. 10.54AM]《 U still up 4 2nite?? 8 ok? Xxx》
Cali glanced picked up the phone next to him to check the text as it buzzed annoyingly, Freddie wasn't on his lunchbreak just yet was he? Cali stared at the phone, and it took an embarrassing full minute for Cali to realise the phone wasn't his generic, large and mostly broken phone. It was Freddie's much fancier (and smaller) iPhone which had more apps than necessary, and confused Cali immensely. Cali tapped carefully onto the text, bringing the phone close to his nose to read the message.
'Danny'? Who was 'Danny'? Cali sat for a second, racking his brain to try and remember Freddie ever mentioning a Danny. He stared at the text, as if it would give him all the answers before the screen turned itself off. What is Freddie 'still up' for? Why does this 'Danny' have worse English than Cali when texting? (not his fault fyi. The buttons are jist too small.)
Cali sighed, quite audibly, placing the phone down on his desk. The noise made a few of the other people in the lecture glance towards him, but he ignored them as he worked out what he should do.

A thought came to Cali as he slowly wrote (doodled) about how the camera's settings effect the images (random patterns), an hour later. He grabbed Freddie's phone and began tapping out a text, trying to copy how the dorky thing he calls a boyfriend texts.
Freddie [11/03. 11.49] 《What were you suggesting we do? 》
The reply was almost instant.
Danny [11/03. 11.50] 《Meet @ tht niteclb we wnt 2 lst wk. Xxx》
Last week? Freddie said he had gone to a meeting with the crew of the film he was working on.
Freddie [11/03. 11.52] 《Where was this again?》
Danny [11/03. 11.55] 《Anabells, rember? Jst by th McDs. Xxx》
The gay club? Okay Cali was beginning to panic a bit. What was Freddie doing at a gay club?
Freddie [11/03. 11.58] 《See you at 8.》


It was about five o'clock when Cali got home to Freddie frantically running around the house, his dog/rat/creature following close on his heels.
"Hey, Cali. Have you seen my phone?" Freddie asked, not glancing up from where he had stuck his head behind the sofa cushions. Cali paused, opened his mouth to mention it but shut it closed after a second. He needed to find out about this 'Danny'. Cali silently shool his head and made his way through to the kitchen to grab a snack. Rummaging through the fridge, Cali heard Freddie walk up behind him.
"You okay?" He asked, as Cali closed the fridge door after not finding anything to munch on.
"Fine." Cali stepped around Freddie to search the cupboards.
"Really?" Freddie sounded unbelieving as he watched Cali. Cali just shrugged in return. Sighing, Freddie turned Cali around so he could wrap him into a hug. "I don't think you are. You don't need to tell me about it. But I am here for hugs, kisses and more if you need." Freddie drew away, his face had that gorgeous smile on as he winked.

"I'm going out, Cali. I don't know when I will be back, you don't have to wait up."
"Where are you going?" To meet 'Danny' Cali bet.
"Out with some work friends." Work friends? Cali knew all his work friends. No 'Danny' though.
"Where?"
"Bar down the street." There are many bars.
"Okay."
"See you."

Cali left the house a few minutes after Freddie, making sure he was no longer in sight. Cali walked to the main street where he caught a taxi (walking is too much effort.) He glanced at Freddie's phone to check if 'Danny' had mentioned their whereabouts, but it remained silent. Cali shoved the phone in his pocket, and with a sigh, he looked around the club. It didn't take long for Cali to spot Freddie amongst the crowd, animatedly chatting to a woman. Had Freddie decided to swing the other way? Only one way to find out. He marched over to Freddie, ready to demand answers, when Freddie spotted him. At first he looked confused, before his face broke into that gorgeous grin of his.
"Cali! What are you doing here?"
"I want to-"
"This is Cali?!" Cali was interrupted by the short woman Freddie had been talking to. "He is so much hotter than you had described!"
"Cali meet Danny, a new member of our crew. Danny meet my husband, Cali." Freddie continued grinning as he glanced between them. "Danny is our new producer. The crew decided to come here to throw her a welcoming party." Freddie tucked himself close up to Cali, hooking his arm around his waist.
"So you're not…?"
"What?"
"Nevermind. I came to give you this." Cali lied, pulling Freddie's phone out of his pocket. "Danny texted you a while ago."
"Oh! You found it. Thanks Cali." Freddie pressed a kiss against his cheek.
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PostSubject: Re: Random Stories   Sun Nov 22, 2015 10:40 pm

Rememner South America

"Tell me about South America", she says.

Amelia glares at her.

"Miss Lee, if we intend these sessions to be useful for you, work with me."

"I don't want them to be useful. I don't want to talk about him."

But in the end, she does.

---

The plane was small, but they weren't going to stay in it for a long time. Benedict clipped Amelia to his chest, and put the parachute on his back.

"This is the second time I'm doing this", Benedict admitted, his voice steady, unlike Amelia's hands.

"You're not afraid?" she asked.

"I'm getting you to the ground, no matter what."

They jumped into the jungle.

*

When they landed, Benedict hid the parachute behind a tree, and Amelia turned on GPS.

"What are we doing now?" she asked. Benedict approached her from the back and glanced over her shoulder.

"Five miles that way", he pointed east. "We have to get rid of the leader of the local gang."

"Okay. But, why us?"

"They suspect that there are bombs, and you handle bombs the best."

Amelia smiled.

"And that's why I came. But why did you?"

"Don't know. Decided to stalk you, I guess", he smiled back.

"I'll tell on you", she threatened him and headed east. He followed along.

*

The mission went along smoothly. A bit too smooth.

"Ya sure that's all of them?" Amelia asked, eyeing bodies around Benedict.

"I checked, but—" he didn't even have to mention it. Amelia felt it too. Something was wrong.

Benedict glanced at something over Amelia.

"Run", he said.

And they did.

*

They stopped in front of a wide river.

"This is way too Indiana Jones for me", Benedict shook his head and did a quick calculation. "If we get into this river—it leads to the city—"

Amelia grabbed his hand and they jumped.

---

This is the point she starts holding back tears, but her poker face doesn't give in.

"We went to the city and flew back to England. That's it."

The psychologist nods.

"Okay. Now, tell me about your…"

---

There are things she didn't tell the psychologist.

---

There was a hotel in the city, where they stayed for a day before flying home, where they changed clothes and rested.

Benedict walked out of the bathroom, his hair wet, shirt undone and a cut on his jaw cleaned.

"Ah", Amelia cringed pulling on her pajama bottoms. "That was a nasty blow."

"Yeah. Just feeling it now", he said and stretched. Amelia raised an eyebrow when something cracked. "Not as young as I used to be", he grimaced.

"You're thirty-six, not eighty."

"This lifestyle has its down-sides."

Amelia made a gesture inviting him to come closer. He sat on the bed next to her and she removed the shirt from his chest. She shook her head at all the bad memories in shape of bullet holes and broken ribs. She started tracing them, not even realising his gaze.

"Has its ups, though", he said, and Amelia felt his chest rise under her fingers.

"Mm?" she hummed.

"I mean, how else would I have found you?"

She tangled her fingers in his damp hair and pulled him closer. He kissed the crook of her neck, his breath steady in her ear, and snaked his hand below her shirt to press gently against her (broken on multiple occasions) ribs.

Cold hands will never stop reminding her of Benedict. He said it was the result of his mum smoking while carrying him, but Amelia was willing to bet it was that time when Benedict, still a teen then, got locked in a freezer and got hypothermia. Whatever it may be, his hands were cool on her flush skin, and it sharpened her senses.

Benedict was always willing to go as slow or as fast as she wanted them to. He was something mechanical, artificial, which listened to Amelia and her desires, and acted accordingly. And it had become Amelia's little game to 'beat the system'. Drag out small, tortured gasps out of his mouth, pull him over the edge of his control. Those were the times when Benedict kissed like he needed her more than anything, and held her as if to protect her from the world.

But through everything, through the mask of control or the chainless frenzy, there were his blue eyes, always that same shade, always capturing her heart. She trusted those eyes.

***

It was the last time the had time off. When they returned home, there were bomb threats, comas and hospitals and letters, and organ-tearing bullets. It was the last time he held her like this, the last time he trusted her enough to let himself go.

---

But now he is gone.

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PostSubject: Re: Random Stories   Wed Nov 25, 2015 11:41 pm

Her life makes no sense. She is made out of particles which continually bump into each other in random patterns, and the sole reason of her existence is one of those random patterns.

She is everything and nothing at once.

---

The town in which she moves is heavy; industrial; metal. The roads are dirty, and the inside of her house is loud, because of the trains passing nearby. It is filled with smoke from both machines and humans, and it takes her a week to get by without coughing.

---

They meet randomly. The negative particles of his hand repell the negative particles of her shoulder. There is no meaning behind the perpetual randomness.

He asks her if he can help. She gives him half of her university books.

He coughs; but it's much deeper and drier than hers.

She asks him if she can help. He gives her a piece of his mind.

---

They sit under an overpass, gradually deafening because of the sounds of cars passing. She's going to be late for her classes, and he's not hurrying anywhere.

"I feel like I should know you from somewhere", he says.

"Maybe in another life", she replies.

"You remind me of mistakes I'm about to make."

That sentence doesn't make sense in her mind. It never becomes understandable.

---

They have a quiet affair—for a week they meet in the park and walk from there. He takes her to a small, darkened park, and she takes him to a garden on top of the roof of her house. It doesn't make sense. They don't make sense.

They exist in their nonplausibleness, not speaking much, just being.

---

Something shifts. He makes her see the blue of the sky, because she recognises it as the colour of his eyes; she sees red, because he said it's his favourite. She notices yellow in flowers, and green in grass.

The world stops being grey, but she remains monochrome.

---

He disappears as suddenly as he appeared. Randomly. Nonsensically.

Almost imaginary.

---

Her life makes no sense. She is made out of particles which continually bump into each other in random patterns, and the sole reason of her existence is to make herself fill with colour.

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PostSubject: Re: Random Stories   Sat Dec 05, 2015 11:41 pm

"In."

"Huh?"

"Damnit, Freddie, I said get in."

"But why?"

"Because you really don't want me doing what I'm planning to do with someone walking in on us."

"…Oh."

"Yeah."

"But, Cali..."

"Get in the fucking stall."

"Yeah, okay, but we're at the afterparty."

"So?"

"The Oscars' afterparty."

"Yeah exactly. I can't drag you away from it, but at least I can do an Oscar winner in the bathroom stall. Or, if not 'do', something less time consuming. Hm."

"Hm? Don't get any ideas."

"Babe, it's too late for that, but while we're at it… You won an Oscar."

"Yeah, but only cuz you operated the camera."

"Only cuz I was there during the sex scene so you could think of me."

"Lies."

"Nuh uh."

"You know which scene is the main reason we got nominated? The—Cali."

"Go on, I'm listening."

"CALI."

"If you're not planning on some constructive whatnot, I advise you shut up in case someone walks by.

Freddie does his best to keep quiet. He really does.

---

"Oscar winner Frederick Miller does the dirty in a bathroom stall! Was it a gift from his Vegas husband, or something else? Read all about it!"

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PostSubject: Re: Random Stories   Sun Dec 06, 2015 11:41 pm

She is strong. Physically and emotionally. She's endured hell, multiple times, and seen things humans can't imagine. But this she fails to understand.

She's seen him die. A godless man tied him up on a chair, and sent a saw blade on him. She wasn't quick enough and heard his last, dying screams.

She didn't see it happening. She is sure, that, if she did, her heart would've burst.

He is dead. She saw them transport his body, covered in blood head to toe, and reached the full realisation of his death. And this is far from okay.

"What do you mean, he's alive?"

"Through very complicated flesh manouvering and wiring, we managed to—"

"No, but you don't understand", she says. Her lower lip trembles, and she takes a moment to breathe. "I saw his body. In two pieces. He can't be alive, I heard him screaming."

"Amelia." The professional looking man in a white lab coat puts his hand on her shoulder and she shakes it off. "Miss Lee. This might be… Hard to wrap your head around, but it is what it is."

"And what is it?"

It is the man's turn to inhale deeply.

"If you remember the android project a couple of years back—"

"Fuck no."

She stops walking, her pulse starting to race, fighting an already lost battle of catching up with her breathing. She shakes her head, and continues shaking it as she distances herself from the man.

"What did you do? You—you're not allowed to ruin his body like that! I can sue you!"

"But, Miss Lee!" The doctor exclaims, getting frantic and excited. "Do you know what this means? Bringing people back to life! Improving them! He'll be able to walk in no time, regain his strength, be your equal! Even stronger."

"What?" She is tired of this conversation, and this life. She can't process the doctor's words. "You mean… Is he…?"

"You were his first word. He said, 'Amelia', and we knew to find you as soon as possible."

Her heart is beating between her ears, and her vision is blurred, white around the edges. She leans onto the closest wall, her knees threatening to give away.

"And…"

"His brain is intact, as you know. Only the right side of his body was cut off, and he was smart enough to turn his head away."

Smart enough. Of course he was smart enough. He was always smart, and those words are a pump of adrenaline in her veins.

"Where is he?" she peels herself off of the wall and starts to glance around, quick, like a wild animal.

"Minus third floor, room forty eight, but—"

She doesn't hear him. He gets lost in the white noise as she runs away.

***

She starts panting just before she reaches the room. It is not a long distance, but her heart is beating so frantically she finds it hard to breathe.

She pushes the door into the room and finds a sterile looking room, with one bed-like thing, and many other people in lab coats, surrounding the right side of his body.

But his head is leaned on the other side. He looks like he's sleeping.

"Ben", she says, but it comes out a sob. She covers her mouth with a shaky hand, just as a doctor comes to force her out of the room.

"Miss, you're not allowed to be here."

"But—he's asked to see me—"

"You're not authorised—"

"Listen to me, goddamnit—"

"Miss, I'm afraid I have to insist—"

"Amelia?"

The voice is soft, deep and weak, but it quietens the two down.

The only thing which is keeping her on her feet is the fluttering of his eyelids and the twitching of his fingers.

The doctors start whispering, and she regusters words like 'oh, that Amelia', 'she's the one with the hair' and 'should we give them some privacy?'. Soon the doctors leave the room as a collective being, all at once, leaving her and Benedict alone.

The right side of his body is covered, and she doesn't want to know what's under the white sheets.

"Closer", he says, managing to sound even smaller and softer than before.

"I'm here", she says, tripping over her words and feet and she's not even trying to hide her tears anymore.

His eyes open, and, as glassy and blood-shut they may be, they were still that healthy, vivid, eternal shade of blue, and it makes her drop on her knees, just so she could be closer to his still eyes.

His fingers twitch once again, as if to touch, but he can't find the strenght to do it. She reaches for his hand and presses her cheek into it, enjoying the cold.

"Why…" he pauses, breathes, and she feels the pulse on his wrist skyrocketing.

"Shh, Ben. It's—" she swallows, "it's fine. You're fine." She has no way of knowing that, and he sees right through her lies. A small wrinkle appears on his forehead, and his eyes start losing focus.

"You're… Lying", he says, and his eyes close again.

The doctors come into the room and, when they ask her to leave again, she doesn't put up a fight.

Is it going to be like this? She can't stand seeing him this weak, but he is alive. She saw him, and she knows. They didn't replace him with an android. The most important parts of him survived.

And the rest? She doesn't know.

To be honest, she's just glad he's alive. Everything else stopped mattering altogether once she was convinced she lost him.

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PostSubject: Re: Random Stories   Sun Dec 13, 2015 9:23 pm



Hallelujah;
or: when she was stronger


"Benedict! Oh, God, are you okay?"

She's sprinting towards the chair to which he's chained to, her hands itching for the blade hidden against her calf. He's barely awake, panting for breath which isn't coming. His response was a dry cough.

They took him a little less than a month ago, hoping to get nuclear plans out of him, but he seemingly remained quiet.

"Can you hear me?" she asks, her voice struggling to keep calm. She carefully cuts off the rope around his neck, and his head falls forward, heaving. His hair is still-wet, and the images which cross Amelia's mind nearly make her lose control of her hands.

The rest of the ropes are gone in the matter of seconds, and there's nothing holding him to the chair, so he slides to the floor with a painful, dull thud.

As much as Amelia would like to go ahead and kill the bastards who hurt him, she can't drag herself away from his weak body.

She somehow gets him on her back, holding his legs on her waist. It's a position which so painfully reminds her of the times he was the one helping her. There's nothing left to do, but for her to do the same thing to him.

Once they're out of the room, Benedict seems to become more and more conscious, so he holds onto her neck tighter.

He even lifts his head, and she feels the movement of his chest before she hears him.

"They threatened to hurt you, too", he says, his voice nothing but a flat bass line, nearly soundless.

"They wouldn't catch me", she replies, struggling to keep his limp legs around her.

They come out of the building, into the light, and Benedict hides his eyes into her hair. There are people outside, some of them their coworkers, some hospital workers and a couple of police officers. He had been locked up in a drug cartel, by people who'd benefit from nuclear plans, and they were now helping other victims. To Amelia, it seems that no one was as hurt as Benedict, but instead of heading towards the ambulance, she carries him to a car with tinted windows. As soon as they get inside, the car drives away.

His head is on her shoulder, too weak to stand straight on its own, and she hates to see him like this.

"He's going to be okay", she hears Mia from the front seat, and it doesn't make her feel any better. Of course he's going to be okay. He's been through worse.

Actually, she isn't sure about that. All the injuries he'd gotten before were quick and shart, and he was shipped direct to the hospital. All the bombs, all the falls, they'd been rough, but at least it was known what happened to him. Now, she didn't have a clue.

She takes his cold and and tangles their fingers together. He gives a slight squeeze, and it makes her feel a little bit better.

A glance of his blue eyes is the only thing which assures her that he's going to live. If nothing, for her.

"I—I remember this place", Benedict says, stopping at the doorway.

Amelia goes in, and repeats the plan out loud, so he'd snap out of it.

"We're searching for plans of Mission Gama, which was never a thing because the aforementioned plans got lost, and they never found them. Okay? Let's go."

Benedict shakes his head and goes in.

The building is old and creaky, and finding two human skeletons in one room did nothing but increase the aura the building had.

"Search through the drawers, maybe?" she suggests, just as her phone rings.

"Howard?" Benedict asks, opening an old, wooden wardrobe.

"Yeah", she nods and presses the green button. Benedict, when he checked, went into the following room.

"Hello, Amelia?"

"Howard. Your timing is incredible."

"Better late then never. Listen, you need to Benedict out of here."

"Huh, why?"

Amelia thinks that, if Benedict has been to Paris dozens of times after Mission Delta, he can handle anything. He only described pieces of it to her, ans she still can't fathom it.

"Trust me. He—"

The signal cuts off, and she finds herself swearing at the phone. She must be too deep into the house, she says to herself, and walks towards outside. Howard calls again.

"Amelia, do you hear me?"

"Now I do. What were you saying?"

Howard takes a deep breath, and Amelia braces herself.

"You saw how old the house was, and how long it has been abandoned."

"Does it matter…? Is it going to fall apart on us?"

"It has been abandoned for twenty five years. Does that number ring any bells?"

Not particularly, she wants to say, but then she remembers.

Benedict. He's been a spy for twenty five years. That makes this building the same one in which he was found. In which his parents were killed.

If there are skeletons in one room, there is bound to be more of them in the following ones.

She hangs up and runs.

She finds him with his back against the wall, petrified. In the corner of her eyes she sees a pile of human bones.

"My mother—" he says, and she can barely register his voice. "I remember that she had a necklace like that", he nods towards the bodies, but she walks right in front of him, making sure that she's the only one he can see.

"Let's go outside. Now."

It takes her a couple of pulls on his hand to make him move, and as they're exiting the room, she glances back.

She's never been easily disgusted, but the bones made her want to throw up.

Once they're outside, Benedict falls and sits against the wall.

"I just… Never thought I'd see them again. And certainly not like this." She can't stand to hear his voice so pitchy. "It's been a quarter of a century since they died, and nobody came to bury them."

"It's been a quarter of a century since you've been a spy too, remember that", she says, sitting across of him. "A damn good spy."

He wraps his arms around her and holds her near, closing his eyes.

"Here's to those three quarters left", she says, and presses her lips against his forehead.

She hears him, at night, even though he's not there anymore. She hears all the sound he created.

First, it starts quiet, and less painful. His footsteps against stone, the way the sheets rustle as he's sleeping, and the satisfied exhale as he hits his target.

It speeds up, and he's running. He's far ahead of her, and not showing any intention to slow down, and she can feel her breath struggling to catch up, even though she's not moving. He's tossing and turning at night, possibly after a bad dream, and the bed beneath him creaks. The sound of his knuckles breaking jaws.

His panting, when he's running away, and when he's kissing her. The way her name passes his lips, like she's his deity. A goddess of fire.

She hears him muttering nonsense in the early, lazy hours, when for once they can sleep in, and hears his exhaled laughter as he cracks his eyes open to see her.

His frustrated inhale as she's being silly, biting his cheek so he wouldn't laugh at her.

Ripping of his shirts when there's a wound which is bleeding too fast.

She hears taxis with blood on their backseat and the way bullets clink against one another. Glass shattering, and plucking the shards out of wounds.

More running. Endless runing, and footsteps, and panting, and nearly tripping over fallen trees and fences. The silence as they hide from somebody, and the way they're not even breathing. When they stop hiding, and start breathing.

Stupid, old songs when they drive around, and their voices singing along to the music they know and love, while they can't recognise any of the newer songs. The way he shakes his head to the beat, accidentally hits the top of the car, and her laughter.

She hears his dazed monologs as they lie on the grass, far away from the city and people, and his thoughts on life. His quiet breathing when he falls asleep under the sun.

She hears a shot, and herself, a short shout escaping her lips. Her name, yelled out. A juicy, disgusting sound of flesh and organs being torn, an shallow crack of bones. His body meeting the ground.

Blood, warm against her fingers, which is escaping his body quickly, too quickly, and it happens too quickly for her to notice.

She only realises after he's gone, that she's soaked her t-shirt with tears.

It takes her a while to figure out what has happened.

When she does, she screams.

But, perhaps the loudest of sounds, his last words.

The sounds are driving her insane, and she wouldn't mind dying with him.

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PostSubject: Re: Random Stories   Mon Dec 21, 2015 11:10 pm

Zach loves Christmas

"Ellie we don't need anymore decorations." Zach sighed as he watched his wife's eyes flicker excitedly between a nutcracker on a string and what seemed to be a dead robin, also on a string.
"Of course we do. It is Lily's first Christmas and we must make it as exciting as posssible!"
"By buying a dead bird?" Zach asked as Ellie made her decision and placed the robin in to the basket he was holding.
"Fuck off Zach." She said as she continued scurrying down the seemingly endless aisle of Christnas shit you never knew you needed until the moment you see it.
"Wait does this mean we have to do Santa for her as well?" Zach asked, trailing behind Ellie who had stopped to gaze at some other worthless decoration made of paper.
"Of course it does!" She exclaimed, dropping some baubles into the increasingly heavy wicker basket. "If Lily doesn't believe, then the whole objective of trying to make Jake believe would be ruined."
"They're too smart to believe the dumb lies your idiocy feeds them."
"Believing in Santa isn't idiotic."
"Yet you're a prime example."
"Fuck off you and go pay for that."
"Why do I have to pay?" Zach asked, but pulled his wallet out of his pocket anyway, knowing Ellie had probably left her purse at home.
"Because you earn more money."
"That's your fault for not writing anything."
"I look after the kids while your smartass goes to work."
"They'll start school soon."
"And I will start writing again." Ellie smiled at him, pressing a kiss against his cheek. "I'll get the car started. Nursery ends soon."
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PostSubject: Re: Random Stories   Fri Dec 25, 2015 11:58 pm

Christmas Wrapping
a mway story based off that christmas song

Everything was ready. Right? Yeah.. The turkey was in the oven, the vegetables were boiling away happily in their pots, the Christmas music was blasting (probably too loud but hey most of our neighbours are too old to hear) and the condiments were sat in their respected pots. Gravy, plum jelly, apple jelly, ketchup and cranberries. Cranberries. Fuck. I mean shit- ah damn it. Insert a none swear word here. Anyway, I knew I had forgotten at least one thing. Well on the bright side, I had no guests to witness this fuck mess up, apart from Emily. But she was happily playing with the toys Santa had brought her. Namely a ballerina Barbie doll. It played the Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy, I believe by the end of this holiday I am going to go insane from the same tune repeating and repeating and repeating. You get the idea.
"Emmie! I'm just gonna grab something from the shop." I called through the apartment. I got a mumbled reply, as I yanked my boots and hat on. Emmie may love snow, but I don't. It is cold and damp and cold. It slows down my groove.
I opened the door and sprinted down the steps, I didn't want to leave Emmie for too long. You will never know the grace of a dancer until you see one running down five flights of stairs. Or at least before they run into someone. The collision was strong enough to make us both fall to the floor, with me landing on top of my unfortunate victim.
"Holy sh- I am so sorry." With the grace of a newborn foal, I scrambled to my feet, before holding a hand down to help the martyr up. She used my hand to pull herself up, lifting her hand to push her hair out of her face.
"Late for something?" She asked, brushing herself down.
"Nope. Just forgot the cranberries. So I had to nip out and grab some." The girl paused for a second,
"You're going to the shop on Christmas?" She asked, and at my nod, her face broke into a smile. "No where will be open. I have some running spare in my apartment, come with me." She took off and started walking up the stairs, back the way I had come.
"I haven't seen you around here before. I'm Markus." I said, trotting to reach her side.
"I'm Clark. My brother finally tied the knot so I was kicked out of his house, so I had to buy a new one. Not that I mind, but it means that everyone else in the family is busy with their own lives and this Christmas everyone is- sorry. I tend to ramble." Clark stopped herself abruptly, I grinned brightly at her.
"That is quite alright. What are you doing this Christmas?" I asked, mainly to keep her talking. She seemed an interesting enough person, and it woild be nice to have at least an adult friend in this apartment block.
"I was just heading home to eat some tv meal cos God knows I'm too lazy to cook." She shrugged, reaching a door which I supposed was hers.
"Alone? No one should be alone on Christmas. Why don't you join me and my Emily? We would love to have company." She led me inside the apartment, and shook her head.
"I couldn't intrude."
"Emmie loves meeting new people. And God knkws I've made too would much food for two people, plus it would be an honour to serve you. I warn you, my cooking is mediocre at best, if I didn't have to care for a child I would live off Pot Noodles and Ramen." I chuckled to myself, before Clark pulled her head out of the fridge and nodded at me.
"Alright." She said, tossing me the cranberries.
"Great" I cheered, catching the packet. We shuffled out of her home, climbing down a flight of stairs to reach my apartment. "Home sweet home." I said as I pushed open the door. "Emmie! I'm back, come meet Clark." I called through the house, the Christmas songs still playing loudly in the other room. A blur of red hair flashed infront of us as my young girl appeared. She gazed at Clark for a good minute, her small face scrunched up into a scrutinising gaze, before it split into a huge smile.
"You're pretty." She decided, staring up at Clark.
"You dance?" Clark asked, pointing to the ballerina outfit Emily wore, paired strangely with large reindeer slippers. It was almost impossible to get Emily out of her tutu, I usually give up on trying, like I did today.
"Yeah. One of the best ballerinas I have seen. Must have her Dad's talent for dancing." I winked at the teo of them, before I walked through into the kitchen.
"Daddy doesn't do ballerina dancing. He prefers ballroom. But I find that boring." Emily explained, taking Clark's hand and dragged her to the table we had got set up. I quickly added another seat at the head of the table for Clark as I served out the Christmas meals.
"Here we go guys!" I said, placing the plates onto the table. "Bon appetit. Or whatever. Dig in. Merry Christmas to you both."
"Merry Christmas!"
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PostSubject: Re: Random Stories   Fri Jan 08, 2016 12:33 am

-- --- .-. ... .

He had to shoot a man to get where he was, and there was no screwing it up now.

The leader of the organisation, he guesses, is leading him through the house. It's big, yellowy-marble, and about ten times better than the flat he rented for this mission. A welcome change. The mattress must be divine.

"You're just the man we need, Steele", the leader says. This is his job alright, but there was, no way in hell Benedict could have remembered his name. It vanished from his brain the second it entered it. "No compromises."

Benedict just nods. He is using his fake American accent for this mission, and it feels strange on his tongue. Or could it be the Czech cooking?

"We have a couple of girls, if you're up for fun", the leader winks at him, and it doesn't work with Benedict at all. He needs to set up his tracker and a bunch of other stuff so he wouldn't get killed. "The room is all yours. In the morning we start with business."

Benedict just nods again as he's lead into a room. In it, there is at least a dozen of girls, all the same, with bright dyed hair and in revealing clothes, with an identical dazed look in their eyes. Except one.

She is sitting in the corner, filing her nails. Her hair is red, and so are her clothes, but that's not what catches his gaze. It's the look in her eyes.

Benedict could smell a fellow agent from miles away, and she was an agent if he ever saw one. He cocks an eyebrow, and she squints her eyes. The question is in the air, and she can't answer it telepathically.

"The redhead will do just fine", he says in his best accent and edge. The leader laughs.

"Amálie, great choice. As fiery as her hair."

The girl fakes a smile—Benedict just knows a faked smile—and gets up.

"You two have fun. Room 285", he says and leaves them.

The girl keeps on faking a smile as she takes Benedict's hand and drags him through a hallway.

"Room too-eight-faive", she overpronounces, in a more Russian than Czech accent. "Eet's just here." Once they're in the room, she lets go of his hand and locks the door.

"American?" she asks, quick as a bullet, and walks up to his suitcase—already there, those sneaky bastards—and grabs one of his longer shirts. Her accent is gone, and so are her clothes, and Benedict has a hard time not to look as she's buttoning his white shirt.

"British", he replies and crosses his arms. "You, first I thought Russian, but now I'm thinking more northern."

"Right." She keeps her shorts on, though the shirt is longer than that. "You need to help me get out of here."

"I though you were working undercover."

"I was", she glances up at the ceiling, then goes through a gun pocket on his suitcase; hidden with a code. She cracks it under five seconds. "But then the mission failed. Everyone fled and left me here. Nobody came. For two bloody years. So I figured I'd get myself out."

She freezes. Benedict raises an eyebrow again, and she points at the ceiling with her big eyes. A camera. Flashing red. Great.

'Kiss me', she mouths, and runs towards him. He has enough tact not to raise and mess up his own shirt (which is now filled in places it hasn't been filled ever before—he tries so hard not to think about it) as they fall onto the endlessly soft mattress. Her lips are gliding across his, barely touching, and her hand lands on his chest, tapping. He sort of zones out, figuring that's what he has to do, then she bites his lip.

He frowns at her, and she starts tapping a rhythm into his chest. Morse code, he figures way too late, and tangles his hand into her hair and taps back into it.

'Exit. Kitchen. Diversion.'

'When?'

'Four thirty. Camera guy. Snack.'

'Time. Now.'

'Eleven.'

All this while pretending to make out. Benedict is impressed by the originality—he hasn't quite done a mission like this in a while. His Morse code is rusty, he hasn't used it since that one time which he cares not to remember, and more than once, the girl looks at him like he's out of his mind, and he has to figure out what he did wrong and repeat. She tells him her name is Amelia; he responds with his own.

He quickly loses his shirt out of sight. Both the one he's wearing and the one she stole. That's as far as she goes, he realises, when she, with one final, emotionless kiss, drops next to him. He decides it's realistic he hugs her, so he does, and hears her sigh. It makes him laugh, so he presses a kiss just ehere her neck meets her shoulderblade. Surprisingly, she doesn't have an answer to that.

They escape the next day, and she completely butchers his shirt.

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PostSubject: Re: Random Stories   Sun Jan 10, 2016 12:03 pm

Stranger I Know
"I just... Hoped you'd change? Why was that so foolish of me?" she says as she's packing her clothes into her suitcase. She's leaving, and it doesn't really matter to me like it should.

"I don't know what to tell you.. I think that people generally don't change who they are." I say, and watch her. There's nothing I can do. I know that, if she's decided something, there's no stopping her.

"May you be the living proof of that, Tony", she shakes her head. "I'm not mad at you. I'm mad at myself. I should have known that you will always remain so bloody coldhearted."

I wish I could argue with her. But I don't.

I watch her leave, and I feel nothing.

***

Having more time to work at home without a girlfriend lead me to a promotion. I was satisfied with it, because the workplace was closer to my flat. When I enter the office I share with five other people, I hear laughter and smell cigarette smoke.

"Everybody", says my boss, who guided me through the building, "this is Anthony, he'll be working at this desk here." She points at a desk, and I drop my bag under it. She continues doing what she was doing before I came along.

Some happy people walk up to me and introduce themselves. I don't care enough to remember their names, and don't look up from my laptop until someone sits on my desk.

"I'm Decameron", he says in an overly rough voice. His face is filled with freckles, which stand out on his pale face. There's a cigarette between his fingers and his legs are crossed, making his skinny jeans even tighter than they should be. I examine the stitches as if they may burst. "You can call me Cam."

"Tony", I reply. He's staring at me like he's examining a piece of art, trying to find deeper meaning behind it.

"Are you, by any case…" he stops and takes a long drag from his cigarette. His accent sounds like he's from this part of London, overpronounced and most likely to be mocked at by Americans. "Related to the Sidneys? They live up north. A large jewish family."

"No", I say and leave the laptop for a second. "I'm from Kent."

He doesn't respond. He diverts his glazed eyes away from me and remains silent for a minute or so, before getting up and leaving.

"Are you high?" I ask him. He doesn't seem offended; he just turns around with a humourless smirk.

"That's my default, sweetheart." He flips over his too-long sleeves to meet his arm lenght better. "Now back to work."

That happens by the end of October. I don't give it much thought.

Every day I say hello and goodbye to my coworkers, and that's it. Until a day before Christmas Eve.

***

I arrive a little before eight on the 23rd of December. Decameron is already there, asleep on the desk. He and I are only ones at work after eight, so I decide to wake him up.

"Josh?" he wakes up, and looks more sober than I ever saw him. The office doesn't smell like cigarettes for once.

"Tony", I correct him and sit down at my desk to start working.

"Don't even bother", he stretches and yawns. I hear cracking noises coming from his spine. "Nobody expects us to do any work on days nearing the Christian holidays. They automatically assume we're all religious."

"Yeah. Why are you here, and not at home?"

He squints at me, chews at his lip.

"I'd say 'too many bad memories', but then I'd be telling you more about me than you need to know. Why aren't you home?"

"I tell you mine, you tell me yours."

He chews on the tip of a well-bitten pencil, considering.

"Yeah, okay."

"My girlfriend left me, so I spend all of my time at work to have something to do."

"Well", he gets up and sits on my desk, tossing his legs onto the armrest of my chair. He crosses his fake Dr. Martens and looks at me. Or through me. "That's lame."

"Truth is lame", I reply. He nods in agreement.

"That is true. Hey", he says, and I hear something like happiness in his voice. "How's-aboutcha we get to know each other, now that we have time?"

I didn't want to, but seeing a newly-born glint in his eyes forced me to continue the conversation.

"That sounds nice." He rewards me with a crooked smile, which looks like it bears more meaning than I can understand.

"Your favourite music artist?" he asks, immediately pulling out his old, thick phone.

"Whatever is on the radio, really", I answer, and he shakes his head in disapproval.

"Shame", he says and plays a song on his phone. It's an instrumental, soft and melancholy guitar strumming.

"What song is it", I ask.

"Doesn't matter. It keeps me calm. Your turn for questions."

"I don't know…", I shrug, and focus onto the audio clip. There is slight laughter in the background, and even though I haven't heard it, I dare to say it's Decameron's. He glares at me and turns off the music.

"Are you sure you don't know the Sidneys? You look incredibly like their son."

"I really don't."

"Do you dye your hair black?" he asks out of nowhere.

"No?"

"Well", he says and gets up. "This was fun, thanks for being so cooperative." He returns to his desk. "Who ya taking to the annual New Year dance?"

"Hm? I've never heard of it."

He sits onto his chair, sits back and puts his legs on the desk.

"It's a pretentious get-together for us highly ranked i the company food chain. Our boss's boss has an unhealthy image of the world, so the dance looks like it fell out of a B-list movie."

"Is it necessary for me to come?"

"Unfortunately so."

"Do I have to have a date?" I'm not very excited about the dance. I don't dance, and I don't want to take anybody.

"Well, I'm going stag, and it pisses boss off, so if you want to get promoted, you better drag someone with you."

"I don't have anybody to drag."

And he looks through me again, and I feel incredibly unimportant.

***

The dance is held at the meeting hall. It's incredibly loud, there is polite laughter and conversations, and flashing lights and bass-filled music.

I stay in the corner, watching Decameron.

He's been growing more and more fidgety as we were nearing New Year's Eve. Since we were the only two people working during that period, of course I noticed. I blamed it on the lack of drugs in his body, and he's never lit a cigarette since.

He's walking slowly through the room, as you do, making small talk with the people in the room. Time passes, and I guess that this is how the rest of the night will go, but it doesn't.

Around eleven, the DJ leaves and puts a playlist on, with some random songs from the 90s, and the second he hears the intro, he heads straight to the bathrooms. I decide to follow him as Nirvana plays from the speakers.

I find him sat down in a corner, on tiles, his head buried in his hands, and I don't understand.

"Decameron?" I call out his name, and he raises his head. His freckled face is blotchy-red and there are tears streaming from his eyes. I find it surprising, because I never saw him show any strong emotion, let alone could I imagine him crying. He lets out an exhale which sounds like it hurt his throat.

"Not you. You're the last…" he trails off, shakes his head. I head forward to sit down across him, to try to help him in a way, although I didn't know how.

"What's wrong?" I ask, and I have a feeling that this time he'd tell me.

"What isn't?" His eyes are big and wide, childlike and honest.

"Tell me", I insist. And he does.

"On this night, this very night, thirteen years ago…" I see his hands shaking and use mine to press them against his thighs. He lets out a painful whimper, like a wounded animal. "I lost him, goddamnit, they killed him, I just…"

"Who?" I found myself caring for the first time I can remember. He's watching me as if I knew the answers of the universe, with such unconditional faith, and I don't know how I deserved it.

"You look like him. Like Josh. You have… have his hair, and his eyes, and you look at me like he did and…"

I let him speak, because it seems like he needs to get it out of his system.

"There! Right there! The wonder, it's the same", he's pointing at me. His hand shivers and he covers his mouth with it.

"What happened to him?"

"They got him hammered, and they let him drive, and they crashed into a bloody tree. And the arseholes survived, but he didn't. And I wasn't there, he was supposed to arrive just before midnight and he didn't."

I feel an unfamiliar pressure just below my chest watching him. I still hear music in the background, I still hear people, but they seem to have faded out, meaningless.

"And this was our song. It all fell into place, didn't it? This song, this night… and you."

The next thing I know is that we're standing, and he's kissing me.

I haven't kissed a lot of women, and not to mention a nonexisting number of men, but I find that it's easier if you let yourself go.

I feel the tears from his cheeks transfer onto mine, and his deoxygenated hands are in my hair. He's kissing me like there are minutes until the end of the world, almost violently, and we're breathing heavily in the matter of moments.

He lets go of me and stares into my eyes, and I know that we made an arrangement.

I won't fool myself that he's in love with me, and he will try to fool himself that I'm someone who I'm not.

He leaves the bathroom without a word. I leave after him.

***

He talks to me about Josh, as we lay in bed together, basking in the sunlight.

He tells me about how they met, and their fooling around, skipping class, smoking behind the school. He tells me about their first kiss, and their hiding from their parents.

He tells me about his eyes in such detail I feel like I know his every eyelash. He tells me about a blanket they used to lay on during sunny days, and about Josh's minivan. He tells me about all of their New Years, Christmases and Valentines, and birthdays and anniversaries. He tells me about their tactics against parents, how they'd hold hands under the table and how they'd shove pillows on one of them's bed so they'd make out in the other room.

He tells me about how Josh loved the cold, and took him out ice skating every single day of Hanukkah. About how he loved children, while Decameron himself had preferred dogs. He says he would've given him blessing for kids if their lives had a different ending.

Josh read Decameron by Giovanni Boccacio for him and quoted it daily, even though Decameron had never read it. Josh said he liked it only because it had his name.

I realise that he'll never get over him.

I have nothing to tell him back. Instead, I trace the bruised insides of his arms. Sometimes I'm not sure if it's needles, or razors.

I listen to him, and feel sorry for both him and me. I never felt like that about anybody. Maybe what my ex said had been true. Maybe I don't feel.

On the other side, Decameron feels too much, and it destroyed him.

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PostSubject: Re: Random Stories   Thu Jan 14, 2016 10:12 pm

"Sorry, hi, shit—"

The bus is crowded, and Amelia made sure that she's in a corner in the back, where nobody can bother her. How wrong she was. A man entered the bus, holding a big sports bag, and accidentally pushef some of the people's knees forward. He settles in the back and drops the bag on the floor.

"I'm sorry. This part of town is busier than I'm used to", he apologises to Amelia. She's not quite sure why he's talking to her, but she is ready to threaten him with her gun. "I saw you exit the building, this morning, on the High Street, 1c?" Stalkers exist on the same list as murderers on a police officer's list. "I moved in yesterday and I'm not sure how to turn the power on. If you could help…?"

Not a stalker, Amelia's hand stops twitching to reach her gun.

"Sure, yeah. We get off in three stops, I think."

***

When they get to Benedict's apartment, it's eerily quiet. Combined with the dark, Amelia gets a weird feeling.

"Please don't step on my cat. She's grey and very quiet", Benedict says.

They find a power box and start flipping switches to find the right one. When there's power in the kitchen, they sit down and drink a coffee.

He tells her how he moved in after his previous flatmate kicked him out to be with his now fiancé, and how he is a basketball coach. Amelia tells him about her job as a police officer, and she was just about to tell him about her dog, when a cat walked in the room, stretching.

"This is Iris. She's too bored with life", Benedict explains.

Amelia prefers dogs, but there's something about Iris which she instantly likes. It must have been her big blue eyes, which stare at her just like a human would.

By the end of the night Iris is her best friend.

***

When the power goes off again, Amelia invites Benedict to stay with her until they sort it out. He hasn't seen February yet, and they worried how the cat and the dog will react when they see each other.

Turns out, February is as lazy as Iris is unamused, and they get on quite well.

Benedict still thinks that cats are better company, at least for him, but is willing to make an exception for the red Leonberger mix with the gentlest movement he's ever seen in a dog that big.

Iris at one point climbs onto February, makes a bed out of his coat, and lies down on top of him.

The owners do the same thing, a bit adapted to the human species.

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PostSubject: Re: Random Stories   Thu Jan 14, 2016 10:19 pm

"Teacher!" The child stood at the front desk, only his mop of hair visible over the wood which was cluttered with hundreds of different artifacts like pens, pencils, rubber ducks and even a very small misshapen (half dead) tree.
"Yes, Isaac?" Mrs Hewitt leant over her desk to look at the child in front of her better. Isaac was the shortest in the class, but by no means did that dishearten him and he definitely seemed to take it in his stride. He used his height to his advantage in hide and seek, easily clambering into the smallest of places, and often it took Mrs Hewitt ages to find him even with the help of all the children. He always seemed to wear the brightest smile, and his brown ruffled hair made him look positively adorable.
"I doned the letter we was told to do!" Isaac waved the piece of paper up in front of Mrs Hewitt, bouncing on the balls of his feet in excitement.
"You finished already?" Mrs Hewitt subtly corrected his grammar, kids always make those kind of mistakes. She had only set the letter writing task this morning, and she had wanted the children to have finished them in the afternoon. Isaac had finished before morning break.
"Yep!" Mrs Hewitt took the letter from him, carefully opening it. She had told the students they needed to write a letter to a buddy that she had chosen for them. In this letter they needed to tell their buddy what made their buddy great. Mrs Hewitt does it every year with her class, she found it was a great way to raise confidence within the classroom environment for some of the kids, and often the 'buddies' became actual friends. She loved to see how happy the letters made them all. Mrs Hewitt had assigned Isaac with another little boy named Andrew. Andrew was the complete opposite of Isaac, he generally stayed away from the other kids, preferring to play with the musical instruments kept in one corner of the room. He was a nice enough kid, he spoke when he was spoken to, he didn't bully or hurt any of the other children, even when they're mean to him. Mrs Hewitt set Isaac the task of writing to Andrew to try and make him open up more, it had worked with some other kids before.
She studied the letter carefully, it wasn't decorated yet, but she could easily make Isaac decorate it after lunch with some of the other children.
'To Andrew.' it read, 'i think you are great and i like you. Not becose teacher told me to rite that. i like your nails wen you paint thm pritee colers. And you play the geetar very gud. i think you are qyoot. Pleez wud you bee my boyfrend?'
Mrs Hewitt smiled brightly at the boy in front of her, she would have to correct some of the spelling mistakes, but she was pretty proud of what he had written.
"Isaac this is lovely. But do you know what boyfriends are?"
"Yes! Boys who like each other loads and they can hold hands." Isaac's grin didn't drop as Mrs Hewitt placed his letter on her desk.
"Yes, that's exactly what they are. So you don't mind holding hands with a boy?" Isaac enthusiastically shook his head, blinking up at his teacher, "Good boy. Now, you go and tidy up your area, then we can move onto the next activity." Isaac nodded and scuttled off to his area. Mrs Hewitt hadn't read a letter like that from any of the kids before, and she had been doing this job years. She was looking forward to seeing the boy's reaction the following morning.

Next morning rolled around as it normally did, the kids all buzzing with excitement at the prospect of a new day. They had all finished their letters the day before, all decorated and ready to be given to their buddies. This was the part Mrs Hewitt loved.
"Now, you can all collect your letter and stand next to your buddy." She said, after she had finished the register and all the kids had settled down a little. Or at least they had, before they sprinted off to the windowsill to find their letters. Once they were all stood next to their buddies, they swapped the letters. All their little faces lit up with emotion as they read the letter, sometimes a scowl as they tried to read a word they couldn't understand, but mostly it was bright happy smiles all round. She looked over to the corner where Isaac and Andrew stood close together, reading each others letters. She saw Andrew speak, quiet and nervous, receiving a enthusiastic nod from Isaac. And, for the first time in a while, she saw Andrew smile. He nodded back to Isaac, reaching out and taking the smaller boy's hand.

The boys were joined at the hip after the letter swapping. Mrs Hewitt often saw them in the playground holding hands as they talked to each other about everything little boys talk about. They sat together during class, helping each other with the harder spellings and maths problems. Andrew came more out of his shell, talking to more people and made quite a new friends. But it was obvious who his best friend was. Isaac didn't change much over the last of the year, still the happy joyful boy. Just now he had a boyfriend and both of them seemed very happy together. And Mrs Hewitt hopes it will last them both a very long time.
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PostSubject: Re: Random Stories   Tue Jan 19, 2016 9:31 pm

He's been working in the centre ever since he escaped the same shit those kids are still trying to escape.

It's not nice, constantly reliving your past and seeing people who haven't managed to do so. Every once in a while, a hospital sends them a note that there's a teen with cult tattoos, bloodied up and beaten, but alive, and they rush to them immediately.

People don't choose to be in a cult. Some are coaxed into it. Some are born in it. And most of the latter group want to run away. The centre was there to help those people.

If you looked at Benedict, you'd figure that he's just one of the students volounteering in the centre. He wears long sleeved jumpers over shirts, glasses, and a permanant, relaxing smile which helps most people relax. But he was once a part of it; he still had scars to prove whatever has to be proven.

One day, it's calm. The centre is half empty, the kids are enjoying a sunny day, and Benedict is inside dealing with paperwork. He's almost alone, since most of his coworkers are students who go to college and aren't in the centre on Mondays. He has no wish to go to college. Not yet, at least. He found what he wants to do with his life and is not willing to change it at the moment.

The day, as mentioned, is calm. Until it isn't.

She walks quickly, as if hurrying somewhere, pulling a little girl with her. Their hair colour is matching, and they're wearing similar clothes. Except her shirt has no sleeves, and she has tattoos. She reaches Brett, who is working on the wiring in the main area.

"Excuse me", she says, talking as quickly as she was walking. "Me and my daughter need help."

Brett examines her and nods. "Of course. You guys want something to drink? I think Ben's made coffee in the morning, it should be warm still."

Her eyes dart around the room and return to him, cautious.

"Don't worry", Brett says. He's dealt with worse. "You're safe here."

"Mum", the little girl pulls on her sleeve. "I want some water, please."

She breaks.

"May we get two glasses of water?"

"Sure. Go sit over there for a sec, I'll go get 'em for you."

"Come on, Louise."

The two redheads sit on the sofa, keeping close to each other.

Brett leans over Benedict's desk and calls him.

"Hey. We got two girls waiting for a place to stay and a problem."

"We're full", Benedict nods.

"I can't take them in, though", Brett grabs two glasses from the desks surrounding them and goes to wash them. "Jonathan's cramming through finals and he needs some quiet."

"Mia?" Benedict saves his document and gets up. He grabs his notepad and takes the filled glasses from Brett as he's shaking his head.

"She's going on a trip next week. Could you take 'em?"

"If I sneak them past the landlady."

"That's settled, good. They're… right here", he points at the sofa where the girls are talking quietly, and continues to fiddle with the wiring.

"Don't get murdered by electricity. I don't want to explain that to Jonathan", Benedict says with a smile. He carries the glasses to the two girls. The smaller girl takes it without a delay and downs it. The other one isn't too sure.

"I'm Benedict. Please don't call me Ben."

"Amelia. Not Amy."

He sees a bit of recognition in her eyes, but she isn't sure where to place him.

"And this is Louise, my daughter."

"Nice to meet you. This place is here to keep you safe, and we'd do that, but right now we're packed, so you'll be staying at my place."

He watches her eyes grow wary.

"Don't worry. I live next to a police station." Benedict scribbles their names into his notepad. "How old are you two?"

"Twenty two. And five."

Benedict writes that down as well.

"From which—" he starts, but a hoard of teenagers breaks his train of thought. "Well now."

About fifteen of them walk into the building, all with different inking on their arms, talking loudly and saying hello to Brett.

"Oi, Ben, ya think it's safe to give Brett something with which he can get 'imself killed?" one of them shouted across the room.

"No, but his school's got him insured so I don't give him the time of the day."

"Bugger off", he hears Brett's voice from somewhere behind the group. Benedict turns back to the two with a smile.

"We'll get you two clothes from Mia, she'll be here tomorrow, I believe. Which cult were you in?" he tries to deliver the question as casually and irrelevantly as he could. Amelia lets go of Louise's hand and rolls back her sleeve. The inside of her arm is clear of all tattoos, but a huge delta sign.

Benedict looks up at her, before uncovering his own tattoo, in the same part of the arm.

"Trust me. We're safe here."

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PostSubject: Re: Random Stories   Sun Jan 31, 2016 7:21 pm

Amelia enters the building and gets lost in an instant.

The HQs, as most of the people around her call it, its huge and confusing, and it being her second time in it, she has little to no clue as to which direction she should be going. She enters an officey area, for which she is sure she shouldn't be in, while she was only looking for the rooms for the new recruits.

The office area has a couple of smaller desks with laptops and a bigger table, and there's a man with headphones sitting at it, staring off into space. Another man, this one a bit shorter, with darker hair and eyes, approaches him. He is carrying three or four folders and two laptop bags.

"Hey, Benedict", he says, nudging 'Benedict'. He takes off the headphones. "Could you just hold something for me, I'm in a bit of a struggle here?"

"Jon? Sure", Benedict stretches his hand out, looking five inches from the shorter man's face. "You got too much paperwork again?" he asks, and once he gets his hands filled with papers, he says, "I'll take that as a yes."

"It's the recruit time of the year, I'm afraid. We have had a lack of mentors, though, so god knows what Howard will decide with the spares… Speaking of recruits", he says and glances at Amelia.

"Crap, I am sorry, I know I'm not supposed to be here, but I got lost and was hoping to find someone for directions."

"Who's that", Benedict asks, a question clearly not meant for Amelia.

"A recruit. Miss Lee, who just so happens, if I'm not wrong, to be one of those mentorless ones."

"Guilty as charged", she says with a small smile.

"Could you carry this for me…? Thanks." Jon transfers the rest of the folders to Amelia. "Oh, shit. Ben… Damn."

"What? What happened?" Benedict frowned. "I'm missing something here."

"I do believe that you're going to be her mentor. If not only for the kick and blow theory."

Benedict sighed and threw his head back.

"Howard doesn't hear a word I say, right? I work alone, if I can. Where do you want us to put the paperwork?"

"You can't work alone. Oh, and you can put it on Brett's table, if he ever decides to show up."

Amelia then felt like she was missing something. Once Benedict heads towards a desk and puts his hand on it carefully, touching his way towards a specific desks, it becomes painfully clear. The poor man's blind.

--

She doesn't think he's as poor the next week as he's kicking her arse in basic one-to-one combat.

"Ow", she complains, back down on a training mat. Everybody in the gym is staring at them, and she means everybody.

"He's a fuckin' god, mate", she hears one of her fellow recruits, gaping oh so obviously.

"You train and you'll be like that too", his mentor, a small but strong woman. "Yo, Ben, take it easy on the new girl. You gotta get down on her level."

"Ow", Amelia repeats, this time longer and harsher.

"Mia, darling, do you want me to get on your level also?" There is such a grin on his face, it makes Amelia laugh. And that makes her entire body ache.

"Is that a fuckin' threat, Bennett?"

"Take it as a challenge."

Amelia has enough time to get up and move herself from the mat for Mia to sprint to Benedict and pounce on him like a wild animal. Then, she has the opportunity to watch a fight from a different perspective, and marvels at the skill and the speed at which they move. It's like they can predict each other's moves, and when once more there's a female pinned to the mat, it's obvious that they actually can predict.

"If you use a right kick then left leg with me in one more fight you will lose a kneecap."

"I take back what I said", Mia says. Both of them are barely panting, while Amelia is drenched in sweat and her dignity is somewhere crying in the corner. "I really don't know how he does it."

Benedict gets up from above Mia and stretches his hand in the vague direction of her. She grabs it and gets up.

"It's called experience. Amelia?"

"Can we do some theory now?" She asks, her voice sounding terribly strained.

He laughs, and she laughs with him.

--

She gets used to him. It is never a hassle to hold his elbow and to lead him where they're going. She's used to people staring, and the noises they make when they figure it out.

But lately, her hand has been slipping down his arm, and it's comfortable for her. She likes it when he asks questions about how she looks, just to create an image in his mind. She's never been more relaxed than when he braids her hair when she's watching television.

She doesn't know where this is going, but she's willing to let it happen, whatever it is.

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PostSubject: Re: Random Stories   Tue Mar 15, 2016 9:33 pm

Bam

20th March 2131
The line of men stood to attention, not a hair out of place. The marines knew a single mistimed breath could result in a nasty battering. The men didn't strongly vary in their looks, all of them large and muscular, not unlike a pride of lions. The men knew their new commander would be visiting today, a man who they've been told is the greatest Colonel of this generation. Bennett, who stood almost in the centre of the line, had a distant feeling of excitement. He had heard stories of Colonel Lee ever since he had enlisted. Lee had joined a few years before him, even though Lee is younger than Bennett, enlisting when he was just turning 16, Lee had made the fastest climb up the army commanding ladder in modern history. Becoming the youngest Lieutenant of recorded history at just 18. Now, at 23, he was Lieutenant Colonel, being assigned his first regiment under that title; Squad HQ79. The sound of multiple feet approaching down the gravelled path made the men perk up, but not shift their gaze from staring straight ahead. The first person to enter their view was a fairly young woman. She had fiery red hair that flowed easily down past her shoulders, it's tips just resting above a surprisingly large collection of medals. The metal clinked and rattled as she walked, the dull green of the uniform seemed to make her hair seem brighter as she kept to a halt in front of the men. Bennett shifted his eyes slightly to look at her more properly, where was Colonel Lee? He was late and everyone knew punctuality is essential in the army. Bennett startled slightly as the man beside him began to chuckle. The man, Klein, was larger than Bennett, in every way possible. With his arms thicker than Bennett's waist, and a height that was easily a foot over Bennett's head, you could say the man was fairly terrifying.
"You fugly looking bunch must be HQ79. I am Colonel Lee. I hoped you lot would be something a bit… more. Alas, no." The woman finally spoke up, her voice loud and clear as she spoke with obvious confidence and projection. "To be bloody completely honest, I don't want to be around any of you sniveling pieces of shit but orders are orders. And they must be obeyed." Her attention suddenly snapped over to Klein, his shuffling shoulders now becoming painfully obvious. She marched up closer to him, enough to be in his personal bubble, but still a respectable distance. "What is it you find so fucking amusing, Private?" The last word was strongly emphasised, her loud voice not quietening even though she was practically in his face.
"You shouldn't be stood up there, darling, when there's so much more useful things you could be doing. Like getting on your knees for me. That's your place isn't it? If you are Colonel Lee, it must be how you got this far." Klein had completely lost his posture, favouring to lean down into Lee's space. Something clicked in Lee's jaw, as she stared hard at him, Bennett being the only one close enough to notice. Suddenly, her whole expression softened, and she placed her hands on his chest before she began sliding down onto her knees. She leaned forward, before there was the definitive click of a gun and a whimper.
"Watch your fucking words, boy. Or a bullet will be fired up through your impossibly tiny balls and out the other side. If the bullet does pass through that incredibly thick skull of yours." She growled at him, forcefully shoving the barrel of the gun upwards, where it rested between Klein's legs, a loud yelp escaping the man. She took a stride back into her original position to address the group.
"Lesson one when you are under my command. Never disrespect me." Lee threw the gun to the ground by Klein's feet. "If anyone of you talk to me in a disrespectful way, get ready for the hairs on your testicles to be ripped off one and by one, then have the actual dick shoved down your own throat. It will almost be like giving yourself deep throat. Private Gorilla over there would seem to like that." Lee made a gesture over to Klein, a dark look on her face. She brushed her fringe out of her face, glancing at each man separately. When she met Bennet's eyes, she paused, staring at him for a brief second before letting out a huff of breath and moving to the next person. "Get your asses out of my view. I expect you all to be ready for the first job tomorrow by five hundred hours sharp. Pack plenty of underwear, I am not being near a group of men stinking like their own filth for a week." A shortish man a few feet away from Benedict put his hand up, slightly tentivately, trying to get Lee's attention. "What do you want, Private?"
"Private Parker, Ma'am, I-" He said, his voice obnoxiously high pitched and heavily accented with a Texan drawl. Parker was the closest thing he could call a friend im this place. Nobody really knew why Parker was in the army, nor how he actually got in. However Parker tried his best at everything, and though timid, he was a good fighter. Very stealthy and quick, probably one of the fastest in the whole Squad also the youngest, at the mere age of 17. Despite this, he was often on the receiving end of the Squad's taunts.
"I don't give a shit." Lee interrupted him, shrugging.
"Sorry?"
"I don't give a shit about what your name is. If you want me to know that badly, wear a fucking name badge." Lee said, glancing down to her nails, and picked at one of them with her tooth. "Now what did you want?"
"I wanted to ask where we were going tomorrow, Colonel."
"That is for me to know and for you to find out. Now get out of my sight, you miserable lot."

23rd April 2131
"What did I just fucking say, Private?" Lee looked like she was physically holding herself back from punching the man in the jaw. Instead, she had taken to screaming at him in front of the group of men, which caused him to wince as if he'd beem punched anyway. Lee had shown herself to be a very good leader, at least Bennett thought so. She just often had a very short temper. Bennett had been on the receiving end of one of her anger bursts, and it is somewhere he never wants to be again. Even though she is tiny compared to some of the men, she makes up for it in pure anger.
Bennett had heard some of the higher ups talking the other day. Today was the Squad's last day training before they were sent frontline. But frontline where? Bennett had no idea. Nor did he know who they were fighting. Rumours around camp suggested the enemy isn't what you would expect. Of course, Bennett had no actual idea what that meant. But in truth, it didn't sound good. Bennett knew for a fact he wasn't looking forward to waking up tomorrow morning.
The sudden sound of clicking fingers in front of his face pulled Bennett out of his thoughts,
"Ah! There he is! What was on your mind, Private?" Lee's voice was oddly soft, but the shit-eating grin on her face made Bennett know she wasn't being kind. "Pay attention!" The sudden cracking sound of skin on skin startled Bennett more than the sharp stinging pain. He lifted his hand to cup his cheek, staring at her dumbfounded. "Hopefully that will make you actually concentrate. Men are like dogs, a little pain will always shock them into listening." Lee turned around from him, purposely making her ponytail flick him in the face. Bennett's hand was still on his cheek as he watched her walk away. The man next to him, Smith, chuckled,
"Are you liking what you see, Ben?" He said, "I always saw you as one with a thing for badass chicks. Or you were gay. I didn't know which."
"My name is Bennett."
"So you aren't denying the thing for badass chicks? Or was I right about you being gay?" Smith gave Bennett a shove in the shoulder. Bennett shoved him away from him, a scowl darkening his features.
"I don't like anybody in that way. Male or female. Especially not Colonel. Now leave me alone." Bennett pushed past Smith to follow the rest of the men who marched after Lee as she left, Bennett angrily muttering under his breath.
"Bennett has the hots for Colonel!" Smith's shout followed Bennett, making every pair of eyes to turn to him. Bennett felt heat rising up his face, and he ducked his head down to avoid catching anyone's eye.
"I don't. Smith is fantasing again." Bennett quickly outburst, his gaze fixed firmly to the muddied ground. Klein laughed the loudest, his gorilla-like face cracking into a wide open mouthed grin.
"You're the one fantasing, Bennett!" He cheered, the rest of the men following to throw their own jibes until Lee shouts a very loud 'Silence!'. She had turned to face them all, angrily glowering.
"Why are you all acting like childish little bullshits?" She asked, looking at each man individually, noting the one private not meeting her eye. "Answer me!"
"Private Bennett is harbouring a crush for you, Ma'am." A faceless voice helpfully provided, making Lee sigh loudly.
"The fuck is this? Primary school? I worry for our King's country's future with you lot protecting it. Private is a grown man." She turns to face Bennett, surprisingly one of the only men she knows by name. Because of his skills as a soldier, obviously. Nothing else, not his stupidly blue eyes. Lee keeps reminding herself. "I am sure he can keep it in his bloody pants." She shook her head before screaming, "Get the fuck in line or prepare to have your balls ripped off." The sudden increase in volume made many of the men flinch, but knowing the Colonel would most likely follow through her threats, they got into their positions ready for the march back to the dorms. Lee hated it most when the men fell out of their ranks, she knew she could easily overpower them all but on the front line, positions were essential. She didn't want to see any of her men dead. Even if she did hate their guts.

30th November 2131
"We're losing him." Bennett had his hand clamped firmly on Parker, trying to place as much pressure onto the wound as he could. "Colonel! We are losing him. Find a way to help him, damn it!" He shouted at the motionless girl. She stared at Parker's body on the floor and knew it was his end. The bullet had torn straight through his upper stomach and from the amount of blood it was guaranteed to be a hopeless case. Too much blood had already been lost, and the bullet had pierced a hole through his other side, there was no way the bleeding was going to stop.
"Bennett… I'm sorry"
"If you're truly sorry you would fucking help!" Bennett shouted at her, feeling his friend slowly drifting away beneath his fingers. And, as the boy took his last breath, Bennett slowly moved back from the body, staring blankly at it. "He's gone."
The sound of bullets startled Lee, and she glanced up to see how exposed the were of them were. Hidden behind a fairly small boulder, they had no coverage at all, but it was the first place Bennett had seen for shelter and had dragged his wounded friend there. Lee had sent the other men ahead, dropping behind to help who she believed was one of her best soldiers. Losing Parker was unfortunate, losing Bennett too would be devastating.
"Bennett we need to move." Lee placed her hand on the man's shoulder, a gentle attempt to pull him away. "C'mon, Private." Bennett shrugged her hand off him, not looking away from the body in front of him.
"He needs to be buried." Bennett says, wiping his blood stained hands on his trousers. "Properly."
"We can't, Private."
"HE WAS JUST SEVENTEEN, COLONEL" Bennett shouted at her, whipping his head around to look at her. His usually calm blue eyes flashed fiery and angry, the strong contrast making Lee flinch. He stared at the Colonel for a long minute, Lee becoming more and more aware of the danger they were in with each passing second. "Just a boy. He didn't deserve this." Bennett slumped down, and Lee reached out her hand again, resting it gently on his shoulder.
"I know, Private, but we need to leave now." She gave his shoulder a squeeze, purposely trying not to look at Parker on the floor. Leaving him there like that made her feel so guilty, but if she wanted to get her other men out alive, she had to.
"But Colonel-"
"Now. Benedict." Her voice firm and gave no room for argument. She gripped underneath Bennett's elbow and hauled him up onto his feet. Once standing, Bennett remained close to Lee, her warmth and solidity a comfort. They both set sprinted over the ground to reach the safety of the other men, their arms more than often brushing, managing not to get shot. Once with the men, they separated, Lee heading to her position at the front and Bennett trailing at the back. The loss of Parker had been a blow he wasn't expecting, no one was expecting. It was evident from the silence of the Squad that the first death had made them all realise how risky being there was. And it made them all think how lucky they were that it wasn't them. Bennett kept to himself as they managed to find somewhere to camp, settin up his tent slightly away from the other's. He hardly ate, going to bed an hour before everyone else, even if he didn't get to sleep for a very long time and it wasn't until he was finally drifting to sleep that Bennett realised Lee had called him by his name.

1st December 2131
By morning, Bennett was pretty much himself again. Lee had to admit that wasn't much progress, considering how quiet and reserved Bennett normally was. In addition, she was worried about how little he had eaten, but she left him be. She wasn't his mother and she was supposed to be acting with an indifference towards the men. After all the Squad had packed up, they set off on their walk again. Meanwhile, Lee debriefed the mission silently in her head, making sure she wasn't missing any detail. There was rumour of a spy getting information of the Allies into the Rebels headquarters, and the ambush yesterday had helped solidify the belief. No one knew of the Squad were heading to patrol the nearby areas apart from the leaders. Lee didn't believe it was just a coincedence.
Her Squad was to go onto a patrol deep in to one of the dying cities and check for any suspicious behaviour. Such as people who shouldn't be there, and those people were also known as The Rebels. The Rebels started appearing at the start of the great King's rule, and have dramatically increased in numbers since then. Reproducing rapidly the like rabid rats they were. The Rebels hated the King, trying everything they could to get rid of him, and 'everything they could' had turned into a fully fledged civil war. Their current leader, the offspring of the original leader, was only known by the name of Chameleon. A fitting name for a man who's facade was constantly changing. No one knew what his real face looked like, whenever his face was shown it was always different from the last, making it difficult to keep any information on him. It wasn't even proven that Chameleon was actually a man, as he had hidden behind as many female and other gender masks as he had male.
The King was a powerful man, ruling the land with a firm grip. He despised Chameleon and his men, not flinching to shoot anyone he believed was in association with them. As a whole, he was loved by the nation, a love fuelled slightly by fear. Nobody wanted to give him a reason to unleash his wrath.
Lee needed her and her Squad to find out who was the Bug, and squish them as soon as possible. Lee, if she had to be truthfully honest, didn't want this mission. Losing Parker yesterday wasn't just a blow on Bennett. It had shown her and her Squad how dangerous this mission truly was. When she had told the men what it was they were going to do, many had scoffed. Lee believed their half-arsed attitude had contributed to Parker's death, but no one was to truly blame, apart from the one who had pulled the trigger.
The Squad trudged in a stilted silence through dense woodland, every direction looking identical. The city wasn't far, Lee knew that, but she wasn't sure how the rest of the mission should be carried out. They needed to explore the city fast, and in a way that wouldn't get them spotted. As much as Lee hated it, splitting up seemed their best option. This dead city was a large one, and if they stayed together, the patrol would take days.
Instantly, she had decided who she wanted on her team. Parker and Bennett. But Parker was gone, and Bennett wasn't in the best places. Though, Lee reasoned, maybe it was best for her to take Bennett on her team, to keep an eye out on him to make sure he doesn't get into any trouble. Nothing to do with the fact Bennett is the one she got along most with on the team.
True to her thoughts, Lee split the men into four groups of three and one group of two. If one got injured in the groups of three, one can stay with the injured person while the other goes to find help. Simple enough philosophy. She and Bennett would be the group of two, since they were both the better soldiers of the Squad.
Manned with walkie-talkies, the men went their different ways, Lee and Bennett heading straight to the far side of the city. It was obvious why this place was called a 'dead city'. The houses looked old and tired, their bodies crumbling at the corners. Ivy climbed into each nook and cranny, slowly pulling the buildings to pieces. Door and window frames looked rotten, the paint splintered and fragmented as woodworm had worked itself inside. Not even a rat scuttled around on the floor, and Lee found that more unnerving than if there were rats. Was there something here that was scaring them away? She didn't think she wanted to know. Bennett had pulled his rifle out of its holster, holding it up as he walked. With one glance, Lee knew Bennett was the best soldier on her team, without any doubts. She could tell from how confident he was with handling in weapons, both in training and on the field.
The two soldiers' arms brushed occasionally as they walked side by side, for a while they stayed in a companiable silence, until Bennett broke it with an awkward cough.
"You called me Benedict, yesterday." He said, looking up at a very precariously leant building next to them. It wasn't that Bennett minded being called Benedict, it was his name, afterall. But it was strange, being referred to by his first name in an army situation, he didn't think his name was even known apart from where it was written on the recruitment form. Benedict was a name only his friends called him, and those were few and inbetween.
"I just needed to get your bloody attention." Lee replied, "We were being fucking shot at."
"How did you even know my first name? You shouldn't call me that. No one is supposed to know it. " Lee came to a sudden stop, her head perking up. She glanced around and hushed Bennett. "Colonel. How did you find out my name?" Bennett glanced to the woman on his right,
"Shut the fuck up, Private!" Lee growled at him, a lot quieter than normal. She punched him sharply ib the arm, ignoring his grunt of pain. She was sure she had heard something, but from the silence surrounding the two of them, Lee began to doubt herself. Lee took one more glance around and satisfied it was nothing, she looked back at Bennett.
Suddenly, she was seeing red. Bennett's shrill cry of her name and the metallic smell of blood filled the air as Lee felt herself crumple to the ground. The last thing she felt was a gentle hand craddling her face before she blacked out.

1st December 2131- Evening
"Amelia." The vowels of her name were dragged out in an obnoxiously long fashion. "Amelia-May!" A sharp smack across her cheek made Lee's eyes spring open. A jolt of pain shot through her shoulder, and she realised moving it made it hurt more. She felt the telltale stiffness of a stale bandage hastily wrapped around a bloody wound. Lee moved her eyes from her shoulder and looked up. Infront of her was a man. The man looked almost handsome with the large toothy grin that from reached ear to ear. However, the man looked almost too tall for his build; his strong muscled arms wouldn't have looked out of place on a gorilla. A rough stubble dusted across his face, making him look scruffy. His green eyes were bright and playful as his childishly long blonde hair fell in front of them, making him flick his head in a jutted motion to move the fringe out of the way. "Oh. Amy, nice to see you awake." His grin didn't waver as he spoke, his face leaning too close to Lee's. Her tired eyes probably focused onto the man's and a puff of air escaped her lips.
"Nemo!" She gasped, attempting to swing her uninjured arm around to punch him, but discovered her hands to be bound behind the chair on which she was sat. "What the fuck do you want, you bastard?"
"My, my, Amy. Did you kiss your mother with those lips? Oh wait. You didn't." A cruel, sadistic laugh escaped Nemo's lips as he circled the chair. "She was dead before you had even made your first noise. And we both know that was your fucking fault." Nemo was shouting now, glaring down at Lee, who glared right back.
"Where's Bennett?" Lee changed the subject. She didn't want to get into that conversation with Nemo. But, just as she was, Nemo was stubborn. He kicked the chair leg from under her, the chair falling to its side. Lee grunted with pain as her head collided with the floor, thanking the heavens she had fallen onto her uninjured shoulder.
"You're the one that killed her. If you hadn't been born, she would be still alive. You selfish fucking bitch!" With a sharp kick to the stomach, Lee curled up at the pain. "You tore our family apart. Even after murdering our mother, you were adopted first! Everyone fucking loves a little ginger sweetcheeked baby! Nobody wanted her orphaned toddler brother." Another kick.
"It wasn't my fault. I was just a baby." Nemo kicked her face with his heel, the bottom of the boot catching Lee's cheek.
"Bullshit! Of course it was your fault. You were born just to ruin lives. Life was perfect before your ginger nut showed itself." Nemo bent down and grabbed a clump of Lee's hair. He lifted her head level with his, "I should kill you. For everything you've done. But that seems like an easy way out."
Nemo used Lee's hair to pull the chair back into a standing position, and forced her to look at the only door in the room. It was the only new thing in the whole space as the walls were covered in ivy and moss. The door looked like it was made from solid metal, a rare novelty in those days.
The door swung open as a man was pushed through. He crumpled to his knees, a grunt of pain muffled by the cloth gag shoved in his mouth.
"Hello, Benedict." Bennett's clothes were stained in blood, his face bruised and battered; Lee knew she looked no better. "I noticed, during my time observig you all, that you have taken quite a fancy towards my sister. Now, what kind of brother would I be if I didn't threaten you about hurting her heart?" Nemo wandered over to Bennett, his mouth curled into a snide smile as he looked down on him. "Maybe I should cut yours out? That would make her a lovely present."
A boy stumbled into the room, his black hair wildly stood up. "Excuse me, sir-"
"Not now, Jackson. Busy." Nemo cut in.
"But sir-"
"Go away, Jackson. Man, you just can't get the staff nowadays, can you?" Nemo chuckled to himself before dismissing Jackson by looking down at Bennett. "Now. Kill you fast? Or slowly? Or make you watch me kill Amelia first? Choices, choices."
Luckily for Nemo, he wouldn't have to make the choice, as a large group of King's men burst into the room. The Squad looked exhausted and bloody, some worst off than others, and some missing altogether. However, the men stood strong, guns trained on Nemo.
"Oh for fuck's sake!" He cursed loudly, reaching for his belt. He pulled a compact shaped object off, "Chameleon out bitches. 'Til we meet again." A loud bang sounded similatenously as everyone in the room went temporarily blind from a bright flash.
Nemo had vanished when the colours had been blinked from Bennett's dazed eyes. He crawled across the floor over to the Colonel, ripping the gag out of his mouth. He reached out to her and cupped her cheek; her eyes were firmly closed. "Lee? Amelia?" He shook her gently, "C'mon, open your eyes."
"You shouldn't call me that." Lee mumbled, and Bennett let out an audible sigh of relief. He pulled her into a brief, slightly awkward hug, before he untied her restraints.
"We need to go before Chameleon returns." Bennett said, helping get Lee onto her feet. "Let's head back to HQ."

4th December 2131
It was a few days before all the remaining members of Squad HQ79 returned to HQ, all ten of them. The loss of five men took its toll on all the Squad, as over the training they had all become closely knit. Mostly.
Bennett had carried Lee most of the way back, ignoring her when she had protested. He refused to put her down, under the belief that the emotional and physical traumas had taken its toll on the Colonel. He didn't let go of her as they turned up to face the King.
"Benedict," Lee had taken to calling him by his first name since they got out of Chameleon's place. "I can't see the King. He knows I'm related to Chameleon, that's unforgivable in his books."
"But surely running would make him more suspicious?" Bennett asked, Lee had been made to walk on her own as soon as they had gotten near to the HQ by some guards, Bennett had begrudgingly let her down, but he kept a firm grip on her hand. Lee shook her head gently,
"It would keep me alive."
"He's a fair man, Amelia. He will listen to you." Bennett tried to convince her, and in a sense, himself. He knew people had been killed for less by the King.
"I need to go, Benedict." Lee pleaded, trying to pull her hand out of his, but Bennett held strong.
"Then let me come with you-" He started but he was cut short by a guard.
"The King wishes to see you two." Lee mentally curses as the guard smiles crookedly at them.
He leads them through to a large throne room. The room was dark but spacious, and almost too bare. The only piece of furniture in the room was the throne. The chair was carved out of solid oak, intricate patterns swirled around hundreds of tiny jewels. It was cushioned by a awkwardly large red cushion, where a plump, pompous man sat.
Bennett had never seen the King in person before, and if he was honest, he was disappointed. He had believed the ruler to be more. The man sat in front of him looked like he would be more suitable as a farmer. The oversized crown that was perched on his greying head did him no favours, as it teetered with every snort-like breath that was taken.
"Amelia! Benedict!" His voice sounded light and friendly, but the smile that accompanied it was far from. "I hear you've had quite an adventure."
Bennett and Lee were forced onto their knees by the guard, Lee's only inducation of pain was a slight wince as the hard impact pulsed up to her shoulder.
"Amelia-May Lee. Or should I say Amelia-May Snicket?" He glared at her, "The Snicket family has caused me so much trouble, and here we have the youngest member."
"I have had nothing to do with them since I was born."
"Your birth is what caused your father and brother to rebel. With your death comes the end of the civil war."
"My death won't stop anything. Chameleon fucking hates me." Lee told the King, staring up at him, "He won't care for my death."
"But he will be thankful for me getting rid of you. Say goodbye to your boyfriend."
It happened in slow motion for Bennett. He saw Lee glance over to him, her eyes wide, before a loud echo ripped through the room as the bullet was fired. He watched Lee crumple to the floor as her red hair became stained with another type of red. A startled cry escaped his lips but as he tried to crawl over to her body, the King's gun was pointed at his head.
"Don't you fucking move."
"You bastard!" Bennett shouted at him as he ripped his eyes away from the girl. "She did nothing wrong."
"She was what was wrong, Ben. I knew she was too successful for her own good. She was the Bug in our midst. She needed to be exterminated." Bennett shook his head and ignored the King's orders by crawling over to Lee.
"She was the greatest soldier this world had seen. She deserved better than to serve under you." Bennett's voice was still raised in a shout as he spoke.
"You sympathise with her? Benny! I've already lost some of my best soldiers this week. Don't let me lose you too."
"You lost me as soon as you lost Amelia." Bennett spoke softer now and in one swift movement, he pulled his hidden gun out and fired it towards the King. He was at Lee's side before the King collided to the floor.
He pulled her body close to his and pressed a kiss against her head.
"I'm sorry, Amelia."
"I love you."
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PostSubject: Re: Random Stories   Thu Apr 07, 2016 6:07 pm

"Your mission", Howard slides a photo down the table towards Amelia. She looks tired, her red hair tied in a bun with strands escaping it and her eyes wild with tiredness, about to close any second.

"Okay." She puts the photo to eye level and scans the man's face. "Who's he?"

"We don't know."

"Great."

Howard glances at her, half as a warning, half as an approving gesture.

"Sorry. You know, it's not morally right to drag me away from a mission I was this close…" she shows her fingers, which were almost touching, "to finishing."

"We need you, specifically."

"And why is that?" Howard sighs and puts his hand over his face. She may have a reason for acting this way, and she may be the best at what she does, but…

"Amelia, I'm sorry, but you have to stop talking back and start listening."

She inhales slowly and decides to put herself together. She removes her leg from beneath her—she's not a teenager anymore— and removes her hair from the bun. It falls on her face so she brushes it away with her fingers as she's leaning in.

"Okay. What am I to do with this man?" she puts her finger on the photo, almost covering it. For the better, because the man's gaze feels unsettling.

"We have reasonable evidence that he's working with Chameleon", he says the trigger word. Her spine reacts, straightening her posture.

"And I need to confirm your doubts?"

"Yes."

"But… wait. Why me?" It seems to Howard that this is the hard part.

"Because you're the best at what you do, and we already lost people to this man."

"Fantastic. That's exactly what I wanted to hear."

"You'll be offering some information in exchange for Chameleon's position", Howard continues unfazed, but Amelia cuts him off.

"What an amazing plan, you really think it's going to work? Because I don't. Maybe that's why you lost people. You're sending them directly to the lion's den without a warning."

"Because I know", Howard's voice gets harsher, "that whatever orders I give, you'll do the opposite."

"Because the orders you give are deadly."

"Don't you think that orders have been thought through by many people?"

"Who've never been on field. Listen, Howard", Amelia gets up and leans against the desk, her voice softer. "Just let me do my job, okay? Send the info to my room, I'll be off tomorrow when I get some sleep."

Amelia gets up and sends the chair back, scratching the floor. She is fully aware she was acting bratty, but her disapproval with the system had to be vocalised somehow.

"Be safe", he advises her.

"Or die", she fills him in. She heads to her room.

-

The bottle in her hand is there to make her look vulnerable, and so is smudged makeup. She isn't quite sure what she is doing, but she saw some other girls entering the building in a similar state, and if it gets her inside, it's good enough for her.

She knocks, and sings a cheerful, jumpy tune under her breath. The man who opens the door doesn't look at her twice, and just lets her in, which makes her immediately wary. He leads her silently through the halls which she attempts to memorise, but everything is black and grey, so she can only remember left or right, and that doesn't sound enough to her.

When they reach a rather unspectacular door, the man leaves her, so she knocks.

"Come in", she hears a deep, but clear voice.

"I'm coming", she says in a sing-songy voice. She may not be drunk at the time, but she has been drunk many times before, and she is well aware of how drunk people react. She pushes the door open and stumbles into the room.

The room looks like it fell out of a movie. It's as grey as the hallways, but it has a royal touch to it. There are two oxford armchairs and a sofa, and it leans towards being a living room rather than an office. Besides the armchairs and the sofa, it's empty, but it feels cramped due to the black pattern wallpaper.

"Hello", a man says, heading to sit on the sofa. "Join me?"

"Will this last long?" she asks, draping herself over an armchair. She crosses her legs and sips from her bottle. When she's finally settled, she dares to glance at him.

He is on the taller side, dressed in dark blue. His body mimics her relaxed state, with his hand on his chin and a relaxed, but not sincere smile on his face.

"As long as it takes to get the job done", he says, and his tone forces her to look directly into his eyes, because she'd been avoiding it for some unknown reason.

It dawns on her soon enough.

His eyes are the colour of the sky in winter. Almost white. She nearly breaks her mask, but she plays it off relaxed. She tries not to look at them.

"I need some… information." She presses her tongue against the tip of the bottle and licks off the remaining droplets of liquid. The man seems unfazed, so she stops. His words, however, tell a different story.

"Don't you want for us to get to know each other first?" he asks, his tone flirty but his body frigid.

"I bet you tell that to all the girls."

"Only those who don't come in thinking this is a prostitute exchange service."

Amelia feels incredibly reckless at that moment, and decides to figure out her way out of a lie.

"I'm Mae."

"Gabriel", he says, but to Amelia's half-trained ear it sounds like a question. "Why did you come here, then?"

"My sister, Iris", she sniffles. Little details help sell the lie better, she finds. She rolls up her sleeve and wipes some make up from her eye. "She… Nevermind. You don't need nitty-gritty pieces. The thing is—"

"I don't mind the nitty-gritty pieces."

"I'm sure you don't", she grimaces, "but it's a long-arse story, and it involves some personal details I'd rather not share."

"Okay then. What do you need from me?"

"Information."

He raises his eyebrows.

"That's a first."

"What can I say, I'm unique." She puts her bottle down. "But I'll have to share the information tomorrow… It's kind of sensitive. Might end up with someone else."

"No, please", he shakes his head slowly, and his tone bears no desperation he expresses in his words. "I think you'll find that I can offer more than anybody."

"Yeah, yeah, alright, but I'm after more recent information… So I guess the deal's on?"

"Depends on what you're offering me."

"Well", Amelia pretends she's rising from her armchair with difficulty, and stretches when she's up. "Then you're gonna have to wait for it, right?"

Sketchy information usually sparked at least a tiny match of curiosity in these people's minds, but nothing. His damn-near-white eye remain emotionless.

"If it has to be that way", he gets up as well, to walk her out. She does, now walking without tripping over her own feet.

Once she's out of the street, she takes off the red heels she borrowed from Tanya and heads home, rain slowly draining her socks.

-

She doesn't own any more dresses, which means she and Tanya have some things to talk about.

"Hey", Tanya says, coming out of her room. "Why'd ya make tea? Not that I'm complaining, it's just that you're not usually home before noon."

The HQs say they're full, and since she has only been undercover and not mentoring, they sent her out to find a flat on her own, with these directions: 1. the flat has to be inexpensive, 2. it has to be close to the HQs, and 3. her roommate has to be as clueless as possible. And she managed to cover all of these.

"Hey, Tanya", Amelia says and pours the hot water into two mugs. "I just wanted to ask you something."

"Sure, whatever you need." Amelia honestly doubts that statement.

"Do you have any dresses I could borrow?" Because sweatpants are out of question, and jeans easily rip in a fight. She had to be consistent. "Just for tonight."

"Ooh", Tanya winks at her. "Who's the lucky fella?"

Of course, that's the first thing which pops into her mind.

"Met him in a bar. Gabe", she says, giving her enough information so she won't ask any further questions. "Anyway I need something not too revealing."

"Honey, everything I own would look revealing on you."

Amelia tries not to take it personally. It's not her fault that she can lift a man twice her size and it's not Tanya's fault she's flat.

"Okay, then just give me something which can cover me."

Tanya smiles and nods.

"Of course."

Amelia is so sick of people who don't know what's happening in her life, and she realises that's very uptight of her, but she can't help it. She dreams of a day when her work will satisfy her enough so she won't search for shelter outside it.

-

This dress is too tight and Amelia can't breathe. It's only for ten minutes, she says to herself, and knocks, pulling her legs apart because her gun between her knees started to hurt her.This time, Gabriel opens the door.

"Hello", he says, and Amelia could swear he's wearing contacts, because his eyes are a bit more blue now. A bit more human, but not a bit less scary.

"Hi, I got the info, I just hope you got yours." She glances in. "Are we going inside?"

"I'm afraid not. My room's taken today. If we could talk about this somewhere… at yours?"

He seems innocent enough, and Amelia almost trusts him, that is, until she remembers who he is.

"I don't know, Gabriel…" He seems confused again, and Amelia is less and less sure of this mission. She is running out of time, and this man is her only link with Chameleon she has. Then, she gives in, and hopes that someone will prove her wrong.

Tanya isn't home until six anyways.

"Okay, we have to be quick though. My landlord is really pissed when I bring guests."

He smiles lightly, the emotion not reaching his eyes, and she crosses her fingers in her mind.

"Lead the way, Mae." That rhyme with her fake name doesn't cause any facial movements. In another life, or as completely different people, that lousy sentence could mean a thousand different things.

They walk slowly, because Amelia doesn't want to risk breathing in with more than half of her single lung, and Gabriel is following her. She wanders off once or twice, just to make sure he can't reach her flat any other way.

When they arrive, she shows him the chairs. No drinks, no pleasantries, she just wants this to be over as fast as possible.

"I need one thing from you", she says, dropping her enthusiastic disguise. He never really noticed it. "A single piece of information, and I'll tell you everything I know."

He doesn't blink, she notices once she's settled down. She didn't notice it the last time, she was too busy pretending to be drunk, and now it terrifies her so much that she can't look away.

"Alright. What is it?"

"I need Chameleon's current location."

He closes his eyes, and his entire posture changes.

"Can you hear it? It's… getting faster… There's a bomb."

"What?"

His eyes open lightning fast, and his eyes are as blue as water.

"There's a bomb here, we have to go."

Nothing makes sense at that point, but Amelia's learned to save her life first, then ask questions.

She grabs Gabriel by the elbow and they're out of the flat just in time for a bomb to explode, from Tanya's room.

They just nearly avoided the blow and came out untouched, but he didn't look so well. As soon as she let go of his arm, he dropped to the ground, as if his legs were too weak to hold him.

"How did you know there was a bomb?"

"I heard it… didn't you… hear…" And his blue eyes closed, leaving Amelia flatless, missionless, and confused.

-

Firefighters and an ambulance came long after Howard sent a car to get Amelia and Gabriel's motionless body.

"You say he just knew there's a bomb in your flat?" Howard asks once Amelia's in his office, and Gabriel taken care of.

"He said he heard it."

"Did you hear it?"

She shakes her head and pats her dress off, even though it's damn near destroyed, and Tina is being told lies and moved away from the flat Amelia and she shared.

"No. Why was there a bomb in my flat in the first place?"

Howard covers his forehead with his palm.

"This mission was supposed to clear things up for us, not—"

"Howard?" A man appears in the room, and she recognises him as one of the younger spies. Jonathan, if she remembered correctly. "Where is— Oh great." His eyes fall on Amelia. "You said his name was Gabriel?"

"That's what he told me."

"He's saying otherwise now."

Amelia gets up and walks up to Jonathan.

"Lead the way." Howard opens his mouth to complain, but she stops him. "This is my mission, and since I didn't finish the last one, this one is in my hands. Go." She gives Jonathan's arm a little push.

-

She enters a small room, passing a few police officers.

"Gabriel", she says. He's on a sofa, noticably less grandeous than the last one. His eyes, now blue, are as confused as Amelia feels, but doesn't let it show.

"That's not my name", he shakes his head. His voice is the same as she remembers it, deep with just a little bit of an accent, but there was a new dimension to it which brings back memories to Amelia. It's ambiguous and each word seems to lead to more, but it never does. Her voice is like that as well sometimes. Was he a double spy?

"Alright."

He senses her disbelief, and with an upward twitch of his eyebrow, says,

"You don't have to believe me. I can prove it."

"Prove what? Right now, only thing you could say is Chameleon's location."

His face remains dangerously still, but his eyes show fear.

"What?" Amelia asks, in a gentler tone. He pulls his legs on the sofa, and his voice is timid and careful, as if every word was sifted once, twice.

"Is this the HQ in London?"

The question makes no sense to her, nor the reason behind asking it. She thinks it through, and decides that it's safe to tell him. He's not going anywhere any time soon.

"Yes it is."

"Which year is it?"

He looks like he honestly didn't know. She tells him, and he's even more pale.

"Then you should know who I am." Since Amelia grows silent, it's his time to ask questions. "You're not with the police, you're with the spies, I can tell in the way you hold yourself.  You can't be more than twenty five, so you're not on any high position, but you're talking to an unnamed criminal, so you must be special." He frowns, and when he speaks again, his voice is quiet and breathy. "You're Howard's One Under. If Howard's still in charge of this place."

An uncomfortable chill runs down Amelia's back and claws at her lungs. The term One Under is an outdated one, it was used some ten years ago, when her position was just created, when it was still public. Now, when nobody knew about her, it is called Junior Leader, or, more commonly known as Howard's Left. But nobody knows that who isn't in the HQ, and nobody leaves it. Who is this man?

"How do you know that?" she asks, but he's not listening to her.

"How do you not know me? Does no one recognise me? Have you deleted everything about me because you were to lazy to go find me?!"

Amelia sees that he has no intention if hurting her in any way, but the police officers hear an elevation in tone so they barge in.

"Will you fucking let me do my job?!" she yells at them and they stop in their tracks.

"Miss, we were just—"

"I don't care! Out, now. Or I'm moving Scotland Yard off this case. Out!"

The sheer authoritative tone of her voice was enough to make them flee. She closes the door behind them and returns. There's a bitter and dark mask on his face.

"Since when is Scotland Yard allowed to smear their dirty paws over what we do?"

"We?" They stare for a second or two, finding more recognition in each other's eyes. "Who are you?"

"Benedict Bennett, the first Junior Leader. They practically created the position for me, because thet were too stubborn to let me rank up, and I was too stubborn to let go of doing missions. And you don't know who I am."

His name is not familiar to her. However, some things stick out to her. The first Junior Leader, which means ten years ago. He couldn't have been more than twenty then. That must be a record of sorts, and she'd know, because they told her she was the youngest person ever to reach that position. But she was twenty one then.

"Wait", she says and takes out her phone from the pocket of the ripped dress. "If your name pops out, we have you on our records. If not, you're lying."

She types his supposed name in, and, sure enough, nothing concrete appears.

"Sorry."

"I'm not making this up!" He doesn't seem mad at her, but something definitely isn't right. "I can tell you about Mission Delta." A laugh goes pass her lips.

"No, you can't." It's strange that he even knows about Mission Delta. Even Amelia found out just a year ago.

"Yes, I can. I was in it."

"The man who was in it is called Nemo Snicket and he died so we have no information."

"Nemo", he says that name as the worst swear, "is a bastard who sabotaged my mission and the person you now call Chameleon."

"Bullshit", she says, "Chameleon was never our spy."

"Chameleon was never anybody's spy."

"Wait, you said your mission?"

"Look", he gets up, but doesn't have the will in it to pace around. "I shed blood and bone dust for that bloody mission and I won't have my name wiped off of all records!"

"Tell me about the mission", Amelia gets up as well, to monitor him. He looks her in the eye and spits out words like her gun, broken in the explosion.

"Gatwick, plane, bomb. Paris, Eiffel Tower, car, bomb, broken arm, fractured ribs, concussion. Charles de Gaulle, another fucking bomb in the helicopter. And…"

"And?"

"I don't remember. I don't remember anything past that until now."

"You lost some ten years."

A glare he sends her way doesn't look like it was intended for her.

"He stole them from me."

"Chameleon?"

"I don't know where he is, if that's what you want to know. That's all." He sits back down and doesn't seem like he'll speak any more.

Amelia runs her finger through her hair and decides to go replace her gun, maybe get some clothes, and a place to sleep.

-

"Hey", she peeks into Howard's office.

"Yes, Amelia?"

"Does the name Benedict Bennett ring any bells?"

Suddenly, Howard is as pale as Benedict was not even an hour ago.

In the meantime, she borrowed some clothes from the people she used to go on missions with, but since they were mostly guys, she just took a long hoodie which reached her knees. She'd be staying in their room, they told her, for as long as it takes her to find a new flat. As for her gun, broken. It fires twice whenever someone presses the trigger on the side. They told her to keep it, though. Better a gun which fires twice than a gun which doesn't fire. She just had to be careful with reloading.

"Erm, yes it is. He… was the first Junior Leader, but he died, just before Mission Delta."

"You're lying."

Her arms are crossed on her chest, and she wants to get to the bottom of this whole mess.

"He didn't die, he's in one of our interrogation rooms with amnesia."

"That's impossible." The paleness of his skin goes a shade purple. "He died. As well as all men on Mission Delta."

"Well he's not lying. Also, Nemo Snicket?" Howard raises an eyebrow. "Did you tag him, do you have his location?"

"Of course. All army-turned-spies in the past had to be tagged."

"Here you go. Chameleon's location. My mission is done." She leaves Howard, speechless.

-

She returns to Benedict after that, angry and frustrated, and figures that the best way to get it out of her system is something which will kill two birds with one stone.

"Get up", she says from the door. "If you claim that you're what you claim you are, then you're capable of taking me down in a fight. Consider it a test."

He gets up, as if used to commands (which painfully stings Amelia), and heads to the door.

"No problem. How do you plan on bribing Dumb and Dumber outside to let me out?"

"I'm three times their rank. If nothing, we'll use them as dummies."

The evil smirk which slips pass Benedict's defence lights a fire in Amelia's heart and fists, and she can't wait to beat him up.

They go pass the officers without a problem, and head through the gym. Benedict is always a step or two ahead of her, just to show her that he knows where he's going, but he's going to the old location, Amelia notices. The gym was moved one floor down three years ago, and that only proved his words even further, and Amelia wasn't prepared to believe his entire story just yet.

"It changed…?"

"They put it one floor down. Air conditioning issues."

A little frown appears on his face and he heads to the stairs.

The gym is empty for god knows what reason, and Amelia is grateful. If Benedict was lying and went to murder all HQs' spies, it would be blood on her hands, and that's the least she needs at the moment.

"I don't like it like that. It's too small", Benedict says looking around, and Amelia sees it as a perfect opportunity. When he's turned away, she takes two quick steps and attacks. He doesn't dodge, but isn't passive, either.

He grabs her punching hand and twists it up, aiming the blow upward and kneeling down to avoid her leg kick. Instead, he grabs her leg and they fall on the mat. He could have finished her in that position if he intended to, she notices, but he lets her take control and roll them over. Once she's on top of him, she aims a fist somewhere near his head, but he moves, and she realises, in this position she could pin him down completely, so she does, rising his sleeves so she could get a better grip, and he doesn't fight back.

"You let me win", she accuses him, but he's not listening, not even looking at her. His blue eyes are burning circles into his left arm, which is filled with little, tattooed lines. "What's that?"

From the place where she's holding his arm down, she can feel his pulse, which does nothing but worry her, so she gets off of him. His pulse is skyrocketing.

"Can we go back?" he asks her, and his voice is so quiet she strains to understand him.

"Okay…?"

They return, and he doesn't speak for the rest of the day.

-

"Amelia", she is woken up by some of her new roommates somewhere around four.

"Yeah?"

"Howard needs you. He said they found where Chameleon was staying for years and that they have some information on Bennett—" he needn't say more. She's up and dressed in less than a minute, and she leaves the room.

"What?" she asks once she's in Howard's office.

"We found tapes, we know what happened to… Bennett."

"Show me."

Howard's expression is strange, and Amelia can't read it.

"What?"

"I told Brett to pick him up, this is something he might want to see." The euphemism he uses gets on her nerves slightly. She watches him insert a USB into his computer, and diverts her gaze to the wall, because Howard had his screen projected onto it. Brett and Benedict come in minutes later.

Benedict sits down, avoiding Howard's sorrowful gaze. When they're all settled down, Howard presses play.

Amelia isn't sure what she's supposed to be watching. In the video, there's Benedict, sitting on a chair, and he appears to be sleeping. A man enters the room holding an injection, and his face is turned away from the camera. There is no audio, but video-Benedict winces, and the man approaches him and he—

She doesn't get to see the rest, because Benedict abruptly gets up and walks right out the door. Brett leaps up to stop him, but Amelia puts her hand on his chest.

"No, stop. I got this." She follows Benedict, and finds him leaned against the wall not even three metres away.

"What?" he asks. "What do you want, go inside."

"Don't you?"

He looks at her, and the coldness of his eyes nearly reaches her bones.

"Seventy two", he says, his voice deeper and more hollow than usual.

"What?" Her question is followed by his answer; rolling up the left sleeve of his shirt. On the inside of his arms, there are tattoos she saw the other day, and it still means nothing to her.

"Seventy two. The number of people I killed while Chameleon had me under… Whatever that is. He likes to make a mark."

A dozen different unsolved murders come to Amelia's mind, and if it all was him, there is no way they're letting him back as a spy.

"I'm sorry."

"Yeah."

"Come on", she says, tugging his sleeve. "Let's get back to the room, leave them to it. You remembered?" He nods. "Okay, then we have nothing left to do here."

They walk back in silence. The question hangs between them like a noose; and the more she thinks about it, the less Benedict can stay in the HQs. Considering everything he had done, he could easily work as a freelancer, and in the HQs, they might have him killed.

Their sides brush against each other, and Amelia can sense that he's thinking about the same thing.

They reach the room, and Benedict sits back on the chair.

"What are you planning to do?" she asks, sitting on the table.

He's staring at the corner of the wall, showing no emotion at all.

"Benedict?" Amelia asks, when Benedict doesn't say a word.

Then he pulls out a gun.

"Sorry", he says, aiming her lower stomach. She presses her arms against her body—did he take her gun? When? If she wasn't at gunpoint, she'd be impressed.

"What…?" she can't form a concrete sentence, her mind is rushing to so many things at once, and she comes up with no answer.

"There's cameras here", he points with the gun the upper edges of the walls, "but no audio. I know, I installed them when I was fifteen. They'll rush in once they see a gun." Amelia doesn't usually believe people who are pointing a gun at her, but she's willing to make an exception. His fingers aren't even on the trigger.

"Okay, why do you need them here?"

"I saw a man here, and he's working with Nemo. The HQs are infiltrated, and I'm leaving. You should consider that, too. They'll target the most skilled here, and you're on the list."

Becoming a freelancer is becoming a more and more valid option as time goes by.

"Yeah, okay. I'm going with you." She had her doubts for a long time, since they've been sending her on missions an entire group of people should work on, but she was alone. This is just another reason to go.

"They should come in from that door", he nods to the door behind her, "so we go through the one on the back. If nothing's changed, there's a door out."

She watches him, and wonders if she could have ended like him, tattoos on the inside of her arms, past behind her and years of her life forgotten, even decades. She'd rather not.

"I trust them to finish Nemo off, that's the lea-"

They come barging, and two shots rip the air in two. From Amelia's gun.

She drops to the ground, and Benedict runs out.

-

"You scared me for a moment there."

"Fuck you—ow."

Benedict and Amelia are in a motel room, sitting on the bed, and she is pleasantly surprised it's with him and not in the HQs hospital.

The shots he fired by touching the trigger side ways were aimed almost perfectly. He couldn't stop the first bullet from hitting her stomach, but the other one just burned the outside of her thigh. She had a bulletproof vest on at all times, Benedict had noticed, but blood on her shirt and her mouth confised him. As it turns out, it confused the spies as well. She smeared it, Benedict later noticed, to make them think she's already dead.

"I thought you would just leave me", Amelia says, sitting up the best she could, considering the bruises she probably had all over her stomach.

"Yeah, and what would you tell them, why you had blood on your shirt?"

"Cuz."

Benedict bites his lip and looks away so she wouldn't see him laughing. She does anyway.

"How did you get me into this place? Carrying a lifeless body is suspicious, I think."

"Dropped you in an empty alleyway and waited until everybody was asleep." His tone is only half-joking, and that mildly worries Amelia.

"So that's it? We're on our own now?"

Benedict lies down next to her, runs his fingers through his hair, and nudges her healthy keg

"Seems so. Your shift now, I am awake for two days now."

"Weak."

"Just a little bit age-weary", he answers, fixing his pillow.

"Night, Ben."

He huffs, and turns away from her.

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PostSubject: Re: Random Stories   Thu Apr 07, 2016 10:11 pm

That Every Avenue Song
The deep breath of warm coffee made Calipso sigh faintly. Though he was still exhausted, the smell of freshly brewed caffeine perked him up slightly. Cali hated mornings and cursed in the name of the person who had thought they were a good idea. Mornings should be spent on bed, preferably asleep. Not walking to a random class that Cali was 96.9% sure he didn't need to attend anyway.
He glanced down at his watch to check the time as he rounded a corner. The collision was a shock to the system that Cali wasn't expecting. Hot, burning, coffee spilled down his front, and Cali will forever say that the squeal of shock and pain was as manly as banging three thousand women (even if that isn't Cali's area) and deny him sounding like a twelve year old girl had found out Zayn had left One Direction.
"Crap. I am so sorry, I was rushing and I have to get to work and.. I am so sorry." The culprit of the coffee spilling frantically waved his hands around as he tried to figure out what to do. Cali scrunched up his nose as he pulled his shirt away from his torso, the cooling liquid was fairly uncomfortable. He pushed his glasses back up his nose from where they had slid down from the impact and took a look at the man. Cali was almost physically taken aback by the man who stood in front of him.
"Man. Don't sweat it." Cali said, unabashedly looking the guy up and down which made said guy flush. "You saved me from having to go to a fucking awful class." The guy paused before rifling through his man bag that was strung over his shoulder. He pulled out a pen and paper and scribbled sonething down.
"Call me.. Later. I can buy you another drink to, y'know. Replace that one. Maybe I can buy you a new shirt. I am so-" Cali interrupted him by taking the paper enthusiastically.
"Sounds like a great idea to me. I'm Cali."
"Freddie."
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PostSubject: Re: Random Stories   Mon Apr 18, 2016 2:01 pm

(deep breath HERE WE GO

Benedict Bennett
Amelia-May Lee
Zach Hewitt
Ellie Douglass
Andrew Leeson
Isaac Knight
Freddie Miller
Cali Ravelle

this has been a PSA)

November 20th: Agent Lee here. Mission #215 complete, agents Knight and Hewitt returned safely, agent Bennett put under care.

November 28th: Agent Ravelle here. Mission #216 complete, agents Douglass, Miller and Leeson are returning the USB with the information.

December 1st: Agent Hewitt here. Mission #217 complete, I did it all by myself and agent Knight slowed me down. He has an obsession.

December 4th: Agent Douglass here. Pictures of Mission #217 uploaded. Agent Knight has an eye for thes things. Tell Agent Hewitt to piss off.

Agent Hewitt here. Isaac wasn't paying attention to our very important mission excuse you Ellie we could've got murdered.

I'm sorry, I have a weakness for sunsets.

I like the flowers in picture #4.

Posting blocked on December 4th.

December 6th: Agent Bennett here. Happy St Nick's. Mission #218 is currently in progress. The house is more quiet without agents Hewitt, Miller and Ravelle.

A bit lonely, I think.

If you want to talk to me, you could go to my room.

DRAMA ALERT cmon Isaac and Andrew let's go matchmaker on them

Posting blocked on December 6th.

December 17th: Agent Ravelle here. Agent Miller is super hot.

Posting blocked on December 17th.

December 18th: This is a PSA by agents Knight and Leeson. If agents Lee and Bennett could stop fighting that would be great. We don't even think it's fighting, but Benedict hasn't left the room in days and Amelia keeps blaming herself, which we're sure she isn't. This has been a PSA.

You should take me and Zach as an example. He may be an asshole but he's my asshole.

Ellie everybody here is coupled up smh

DID YOU ACTUALLY USE SMH WHAT THE FUCK

Posting blocked on December 18th.

December 19th:

"Ben? You awake?"

He opens his eyes, but doesn't respond. It's still hard for him to talk, his ribs and lungs having troubles cooperating, but she continues.

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry I left you."

"Not your-"

"Shh. I wanted to keep an eye out for those two, they were more likely to get hurt, but I just left you…"

Benedict's never seen her like this. Leant against the door frame close to tears, and it was obvious to him that something else was the main reason to her mood. He can only guess what happened to her before she joined him, because she was almost his equal, and he went through some terrifying things.

"Amelia."

"I promise I'll never leave you again, I swear-"

"Amelia?"

"Ben?"

He looks at her in a way which causes her feet to move and join him on the bed, only to hug him and hide her sobs in his shirt.

"You did good."

"But-"

"I love you. I understand."

December 19th: I'm fucking glad that boss lady and boss dude are finally getting along. I was tired of that angst, I think they caused this fever I'm having thanks guys.

Because you're a selfish person, Cali.

Because I want the best for the team.

December 24th: Agent Douglass here aND OH MY GOD ITS CHRISTMAS I GOT YOU ALL PRESENTS

RESPOND YOU TWATS YOURE IN THE SAME ROOM AS ME I SEE YOU

I'm taking all of your phones away.

December 25th:

"Hey, Zach."

There is complete and utter silence as Zach doesn't respond. A quiet sound is heard as he flips the page, and she tries again.

"Zach."

When he doesn't respond again, she walks up to him and takes his book. He glares at her.

"You took my book."

"Thanks for pointing out the obvious, jackass."

"Would you give it back?"

"No, not if you don't wish me merry Christmas."

"That's almost as likely as us having two kids and a couple of dogs. Forget it."

"Zaach", she drawls on. "It's Christmas. Can you not be a twat today and continue to be a twat all the other days of the year?"

"Fuck no. Do you expect like gifts and happiness?"

She frowns and carries the book with her to the desk.

"Fine. Then you're not getting the book back."

Zach gets up and cages her with his arms.

"Give it back. Otherwise I won't know how to defuse a bomb of that specific kind."

"Who the fuck cares?"

"Fuck you."

He then kisses her, which is too sudden and suspicious for Ellie, and it's completely obvious he's doing it to reach the book. He doesn't succeed, so he frowns and returns to his corner with his arms crossed.

"Thanks for the kiss, Zach."

"Piss off."

December 25th: Agent Knight here. Petition to remove mistletoe from our house. I'm pretty sure it's Cali's doing but the only person who I am kissing is Andrew thank you very much.

Cali I'm kissing you any other day but not today. You are sick and then I'll be sick and we don't want that.

IT'S JUST ALLERGIES.

YOU HAVE A FEVER.

I'M STILL BANGABLE.

Merry bloody Christmas.

Posting blocked on December 25th.

December 27th: Agent Bennett here. Back to mission #218. Wake up, time to go.

Fuck you it's four I'm not waking up.

You two have been awake for quite some time. Ames and I request some silence, if you can hold yourself back. We're in the middle of planning.

Ah eww don't listen!

We're not. But we hear it. Being a spy has its downsides.

December 31st: Happy New Year in like five seconds but last post of this year is now!!!

No its not.

January 1st: FUUUUUUCK, now I have to wait the next year.

January 14th: Agent Miller here. Amelia and Ben are out still figuring out Mission #218. I don't know what's up with that. Should've been here ages ago. I'm not letting Hewitt and future Hewitt anywhere near the kitchen.

HOW DO YOU KNOW HE PROPOSED

Why did HE propose? Did he get on one knee and all?

No, I got flowers from Andrew THANKS ANDREW but that doesn't explain how Freddie knows.

Magic.

January 20th: Agent Leeson here. Still no sign of Benedict and Amelia.

It's quiet here without them.

January 29th: They're not here and I'm pissed. They're missing the preparations for Valentine's day.

Ellie shut up nobody cares.

Oh young love. Freddie promise we're not getting married I'm in it for the banging.

Liar you love him lots.

Maybe.

WOW THANKS BABE.

February 7th: Agent Bennett here. Mission #218 complete. If any of you guys are awake at this ungodly hour, somebody bring the first aid kit. If this gentle reminder doesn't work, I'll start to yell.

February 7th:

They're in bed, curled up and asleep, until there are noises from the outside.

"Isaac? Do you hear that?"

His nose only gets hidden in Andrew's neck, so he shakes him.

"Andrew, what?"

The voices remind them of Benedict and Ellie, and later Zach, Cali and Freddie.

"I'm fine, but she stopped breathing once in the car", Benedict says, his voice small.

"He loves her so much", Isaac says, prompting for more. Andrew gets it, and smiles.

"Not as much as I love you." It earns him a kiss.

They sit in silence for a minute or two, and the voices outside disappear. It wasn't the first time any of them got hurt, so they don't get too upset. If it was urgent, Benedict would have gone to the hospital.

"You know I joined this group because of you?" Andrew asks. Isaac, already half-asleep, nods.

"We needed someone for the poison section anyway."

"Do you think Benedict and Amelia picked us out on purpose? It can't be a coincidence that we're all romantically involved like we are."

"I don't know. They were talking about getting a guy for one-on-one combat, and he has a kid, so I don't know how that will work."

"As long as you're here, I'm happy."

February 14th: Happy Valentine's. I just got the orders to Mission #219 but I'm too worried to go into anybody's room. If you need anything, Ames and I are in the kitchen making pancakes.

Isaac and I are going to be there in a minute.

Yeah, us too, if Zach decides to wake up.

That's so romantic.

Shut up and make your pancakes.

Where are Freddie and Cali?

I repeat, I prefer to live my life unscarred mentally, so I didn't check.

THAT'S HILARIOUS, WAS THAT BEN YELLING 'FUCK'??

I burnt him with the pan. That's what you get when you blog while making pancakes. Oops. Isn't the first aid kid with Freddie and Cali?

Go check.

No way, I know better.

February 14th:

"Do you think they know where we are?" Freddie asks, laughing as Cali struggles with the door. When the key clicks, they share a glance, and start laughing together.

"I'm not leaving this room until the fifteenth, and I'm not letting you leave either. I love all of them, but I need some time off."

"Even me?"

"Huh?"

"You love all of them, does that mean you love me too?"

Cali tilts his head, and when he realises what Freddie's saying, he sighs comically.

"I'm not saying it. You're not making me."

"Please?"

Freddie knows that, when Cali looks away, he's won him over with puppy eyes.
"Maybe."

"C'mon, really?" Freddie crosses his arms, but the game is already finished. "Was it easier to say that you want to have sex with me than this?"

"In fact yes." Cali grabs the collar of his shirt and pulls him in. A moment before their lips touched, he smirked. "You say that like the first words I said to you were 'hey, I like you, wanna fuck?'."

"Were they not?"

"I love you." He says it like it pains him. "Good enough?"

"Maybe."

"Shut up and kiss me "

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PostSubject: Re: Random Stories   Sun May 08, 2016 9:16 pm

Zellie
The fifth sigh that night from Zach finally made Ellie snap. "Okay, what crawled into your arse and died?" They were in the kitchen, Ellie throwing together a meal while Zach graded his students' books. The books were splayed across the kitchen table in a messy, but organised (Zach claimed) way while his laptop sat in the centre of the wooden table, practically untouched. Not much marking had been done by Zach after his wife told him about tonight's plans. He had spent the entire time since then tapping his red inked pen against the paper abd sighing occasionally.
"Lily is coming over for dinner with that girl of hers that she won't stop gushing about." Ellie had said, "You need to be on your best behaviour."
"Nothing." Zach grunted in reply to Ellie's earlier question. An annoyed, illegible scribble was added to the book in front of him. Zach didn't really kniw what he had written but didn't care, he was pretty sure the student wouldn't read it anyway. They never do.
It wasn't the fact Lily was coming over, he was always delighted to see his daughter, it was just..
"Is it because she's bringing a girl home?" Ellie's voice was quiter than normal as she studied her husband. Zach caught her eye and looked angry.
"Of course not. I don't give a flying fuck if Lily dates a girl, a boy or anything inbetween." He snapped at her, unbelieving that his wife thought he would be as low as those homophobic assholes.
"Then what is bothering you?" She asked, putting down her wooden spoon to walk over to him. She lifted her hand and placed it into Zach's hair, a gesture he leaned into. He closed his eyes and let Ellie fiddle with his hair before he spoke up.
"I just wish Jake was here too." Ellie's playing stopped for a brief second at the mention of her son. He and Zach were too alike, and, as a result knocked heads like two stags. The last argument had gotten nasty, not enough for it to get physical, but enough that it ended with Jake storming out the front door and Zach storming into his room. Jake had only been back home once since the argument, to grab some stuff, and he had ensured he arrived while Zach was at work.
"So do I." Ellie leant and pressed a kiss against the side of his head, "You need to call him."
"No."
"My God. I had to marry and give birth to two of the most stubborn assholes this world has ever seen." Ellie sighed dramatically, turning to return to her cooking. "At least get washed up for dinner, you look like a fucking hobo."

Lily marched through the door with a huge grin on her face, "Mother! Come meet Mira." She shouted as soon as she got into the hallway. Ellie practically ran down the stairs to embrace her daughter, not letting go until Lily was gasping for breath. From the way they were acting you would have thought they haven't seen each other for months; it's been a week, Zach mused as he came down the stairs in a more sophisticated way. However, in that week away, Lily seemed to have become even more beautiful. Her short brown hair was decorated with a flowery headband that matched the pretty summer dress she wore. Lily was the carbon copy of her mother almost, and stood next to each other, one would think they were sisters. Behind them stood who Zach presumed was Mira. Mira was a large angelic girl, her rich dark skin complimenting well with her hair which was tied up in a complicated fashion. Zach didn't get long to look at the girl before Ellie jumped on her.
"You must be Mira!" She fluttered around the poor, and frankly nervous looking, girl. "I'm Ellie and this is Zach. Wow, Lily wasn't lying when she said you were gorgeous." Ellie led the two through into the kitchen where Zach's books had been tidied away. Letting Ellie talk to anyone was a bad idea. Letting her meet her daughter's new girlfriend was probably an even worse idea. Zach knew he was in for an interesting night.
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PostSubject: Re: Random Stories   Sat Jun 11, 2016 10:57 pm

Every day I go through a shady neighbourhood to get back home from work, and every day I pray that my old, sad car won't die in that neighbourhood.

It had to happen once.

All credit to my car though. It didn't completely fall apart, it just coughed, rolled away a bit more, and stopped, between a closed cafe and an open one. There was an alleyway which separated the two, and a man was walking out of it, heading towards my car. My mind immediately drew the conclusion that I was going to die.

As I mentally prepared for my inevitable death, I rolled my window down so he wouldn't break it. There was nothing I could do, really, stuck there like a gazelle in a field of lions. Lion, singular.

"Hey there, baby", the man said. His hair was almost black and pulled down with gel, and it certainly didn't look like it belonged to a serial killer. "You up for some fun?"

I didn't know whether to be relieved or ten times more scared. Hookers—cough, prostitutes—were nothing I've never seen, but I never had to deal with them personally.

"Hm.." I said, and coughed. "My care broke down."

"It does look like a shitty car." He leaned forward and against his hands, which held the window. "I can help you with that, too, if you drive me home afterwards."

I've never done anything reckless in my life up to that point. I was raised to be a good kid in a large family, and generally walked around trouble in a large circle, mainly because I was too lazy to deal with the consequences. Something snapped in me that day.

Could it be the strong smell of his shower gel (which I recognised, mind you), his eyes which were that specific shade of brown-green, or the fact that he had a shirt which said Nirvana, but had a picture of Queen on it, I decided to trust him.

"Okay, as long as you don't live a million miles from here."

"I'm ten minutes that way", he pointed forward, in my direction.

"Sure then."

I got out of the car, and he already had the hood of the car open.

"Not really much I can do, honestly. I see no reason this car even moves, let alone why it broke down." Stood up, I was taller than him, but that's to be expected when you're six foot three. He also had a plaid shirt wrapped around his waist which looked more like it belonged to a hip hop dancer than him.

"It runs on pure hope", I told him as he looked through the parts of the car that I forgot the names of the minute I got my driver's licence.

"Clearly." He had a cynical edge to his voice which I always found half-amusing, half-annoying, and it was a perfectly balanced scale. "I can try to figure it out, but this is a one of a kind case. It's a fucking miracle."

"Okay."

I watched him a bit as he messes around with the parts, looking like he actually understands all the metal parts, and I took out my phone to type a message to one of my work colleagues that I'll be late with my assignment. He let out a tortured sigh just after I hit send.

"I know what's wrong with it", he said, and messed around a little bit more. He wiped his hands with his black ripped skinny jeans and lowered the hood. "Should work now."

"Should", I repeated after him. He stopped, and stared into my eyes.

"You got a problem with that?"

I did the thing where I laugh with my mouth closed and he looked at me in a funny way.

"Disgraceful."

"Is it really", I replied.

We got into the car, and he had no problem with putting his legs onto the glove compartment.

"I don't think I know your name", I said as I drove off. "I'm Fox."

"Dare. Yours is a fake name, baby."

"It's as real as yours", I already had a default answer to that sort of reply.

"Fair enough. What were you even doing around these parts? You look too clean."

"Was coming home from work, and it broke down."

"And you're a…? Lawyer?"

"Video game animator and character designer."

"That's megacool." I took some time to ponder over the way he worded that out, but the silence was heavy, and I blasted out,

"And what do you do?"

"I'm bleeding president Obama." I snorted in laughter so hard I nearly turned us over, car and all. "Don't I look like him?"

"Sorry. I… I haven't dealt with this many blunt, blatant lies since I've been a teenager."

He nodded and stretched up.

"Turn left here. You mean, teenagers around you were blunt and blatant or…?"

"No, I was blunt and blatant. Also a huge liar."

"Eh", he said, making a funny, high-pitched noise. "You don't strike me as the type."

The place we were driving through was full of apartmant buildings, and I couldn't help but wonder if he lived in any of these. Turns out, he did.

"Stop next to the grey one… wait. Shit."

His face had gone pale, but I didn't see the reason. He pushed himself down so he wouldn't be seen from the outside and covered his head with his hands, muttering swears.

"Are you okay?"

"I've never been better." I was still sometimes surprised by his words, but I let it slide. "Listen…" he said, like every word required a physical push to reach the real world. "Can you do me a huge favour? I mean huge. I'll owe you till the end of my surely long life."

"Depends on what I have to do."

"In room 108, there is my backpack on the bed, and a black, longish bag in the bathroom. If you could fetch me those, you'll be my favourite person in the whole world."

"Why can't you go get them?" Don't blame me for being suspicious when it came to a man I'd known for maybe ten minutes then.

"These two guys outside, in black shirts", he nodded towards the building, "they're looking for me. Which means I can't go to my room to sleep tonight and I didn't bring my backpack with me because I was stupid."

"Why are they looking for you?" I asked, and he glared at me. "I'm just asking because I want to survive."

"They won't look at you twice, I promise. Just pretend like it's your room and they won't notice you." He took out the key from the front pocket of his jeans.

I only had a second to think it through, and I guess it's obvious already that I'm prone to not thinking my actions through.

I took the keys and walked out the car. The building didn't stand out to me in any way. Relatively clean, built maybe in the eighties, and fully empty but the two men. I quickly found the room I had the key to and entered.

The flat was small and dark, with tons of scattered CDs all over the floor and the bed. I grabbed the dark green backpack which was close to falling apart and opened the doors to find the bathroom. When I did, I found the black bag he told me about. It was rather small, and since it was fairly light, curiosity took over and I unzipped it. Having found a bunch of pills with different coloured stickers on their jars, I quickly zipped it back, like nothing happened. It was none of my business.

I then went out, locked the door and returned to my car. Dare let another one of those half-tortured, half-relieved sighs.

"Thanks. This makes my whole situation less hard." He ran his hand through his hair, untangling it from the gel. I let him think it through for a minute, and since he doesn't speak, I started.

"So, where do you want me to drive you?"

"I don't know. I honestly have no clue. I mean, these are my problems, not yours... Why can't they just leave me alone?" I had a feeling that that question was rhetorical, so I didn't answer it, but still I had an offer to make.

"If you have nowhere else to go, you can stay the night on my sofa." He frowned, and raised an eyebrow.

"Why?"

"At one point you must have thought that you were going to my flat." His expression didn't change. "You approached me with the intention to come home with me."

"Oh, that. Well, yeah, car sex is complicated", he just shrugged, and I cleared my throat. A track of mockery appeared on his face. "What, does the word 'sex' offend you? Please. You're like thirty five, not twelve."

"Thirty five?? What the fuck, man, I'm so kicking you out of my car."

He glanced out.

"We're moving. Also, you look thirty five. How old are you, actually?"

"Um, twenty eight."

He started laughing and I just shook my head, taking a turn left.

"You're screwing with me." His laugh was sort of pitchy, uncontrolled and frantic, and absolutely fantastic. I couldn't help but to laugh with him. "You're my age, that's the strangest thing ever."

"I swear to god."

I stopped in front of a block of flats.

"You live here? Fancy", he said and exited the car. I could already see him making himself home and making a huge mess out of my sofa.

"Not really. It's pretty small", I said and grabbed my jacket from the back seat of the car. "Also the walls were a bright shade of orange when I moved in, so I had to beg my landlady to let me repaint them. Some orange still pops out."

"Aw, why'dya do that? Orange is an awesome colour."

I locked the door and made my way to the fourth floor. He followed, without many complaints about the stairs, even though I heard too many already.

"I'm not letting my flat be orange, for goodness sake. I'm a designer of sorts, I have an aesthetic to maintain." He coughed twice, and I almost believed it to be real.

"That's so", one more cough, "gay."

"You know what, fuck you." Cue another round of jumpy laughter from him. "If you saw, no, stop laughing… if you saw the shit I design, you'd consider me the most masculine person on this world."

"Sure", he said, somehow managing to calm down. I unlocked the door, and, sure enough, he was on the sofa in no time. "It's cool", he commented.

"Yeah. I still have some work to do, and after that I'll go grab something to eat. You can scavenge the kitchen now, if you wish. Don't expect to find anything useful."

"Nah, I wanna see what is it you do. To, you know, consider you masculine or what not."

"You just wait and see." I sat down and started taking out my early sketches to trace them with ink, or to finish them, while he took The Plant off of its stool and dragged it to my desk to sit on it. "You touched The Plant."

"Yeah?" He looked confused for a second, and then he switched back to the good ol' Dare I knew. "I've touched many things in my life, you'll have to specify."

"God", I groaned, and he laughed. "I meant, The Plant. Nobody touches The Plant."

"Well, I just did. You gonna sue me?"

"Me? Probably not." I decided to let it go, because he didn't understand the joke. "Here you go. Is that manly enough?" I handed over the sketches.

At the time I was working on a fantasy war Lord-of-the-Rings-esque game, which was a popular genre, and the sketches were some orcs-troll type which were vicious and absolutely gross.

"That's disgusting", he said. "And I generally don't associate manlyness with disgustingness. Men are pretty fuckin' hot." He hip-bumped my shoulder and returned The Plant on its stool. I would've commented, but he just returned to the sofa area. I gave up on my work, because with him I wasn't getting anything done. "Dinner? Can you cook, even? I'll be honestly surprised."

"No, I let more competent people cook, while I survive off raw food and take-out." He opened the fridge and scanned through it. "Shit."

"What?" He glanced at me, and the colour of his eyes under the muted fridge-light had me lost for a second or two.

"Don't tell me you cook as well."

"Somebody has to."

"You're wife material, goddamnit, I'm honestly surprised you're single." I might have made that up in my head, but it seemed like he flinched a bit, but came back with flying colours.

"Who says I'm single", he said, taking a pan and god knows what from the fridge and creating a meal in the next fifteen minutes from scratch.

"Are you not?"

"Would I be in that shitty flat and on the roads if I was?"

"Well, don't fucking argue then."

He turned around to stick his tongue out at me, and I found it as charming as a mouse corpse on the road on a rainy day.

"Ugh, I'm tired", I complained as I sat down on the empty counter.

"Sleep?" he suggested.

"Thanks, Einstein. I'd never reach that conclusion myself."

"Childhood trauma?" he asked, casually, as if that happened every day.

"Nothing of sorts. Insomnia."

"Aww, baby, that's normal."

"Yeah."

When he finished, we grabbed plates and, very domestic of us, found blankets and ate in front of the tv.

"I could sleep", he said as he stretched and yawned. I couldn't help my grin as he got up to take our plates to the kitchen.

"I couldn't." I closed my eyes and leaned back. "Don't mean I can't try."

I realised all the things wrong with the concept later. Letting a stranger in my flat was my first minus. The second one was letting him sleep over. As for the third one… I think that the rest of the night has that covered.

He came back quietly and sat on the sofa, closer to me than before.

"Hmm", he hummed quietly, his chest against my back creating pleasant, relaxing vibrations, and I instinctively leaned back.

"Hm?" I hummed back, because I couldn't find the will to actually speak. His hand creeped around my waist slowly, giving me enough time to back up. I didn't know what to do, if I'm totally honest. Even in retrospect, I don't know how else would I react. I didn't move, and was being careful with my breathing, in case he removed his hand at fast motions.

"I decided to pay my rent, I guess", he whispered in my ear. "And I do mean it in the least kinky, and most sexual way."

I thought ahead, it seemed, because my eyes screwed shut even more when he attached his lips against the skin which connected my neck and my shoulder.

"I'm clean, if that worry ever crossed your mind."

"Honestly, the last thing, ahh… the last thing I have on my mind."

"My, my, mister Fox… if that's your real name", he said, leaving a wet trail on my neck. I tried to respond, but my body shut down and focused all its power into my beating heart and pumping blood between my legs. "You get worked up pretty quickly, I see."

"My ex… she left me, maybe, six months ago. Long time ago."

"Oh, baby."

I think I completely zoned out after that.

That night I discovered he had the hands and mouth of gods. There was no other explanation to the way he made me feel that night.

He was slow and dragged out the affair for a torturous amount of time. When I (God bless) came, I left him in the living room to go take a shower. It all rushed into my head at once.

Was it my rebellious adolescence finally coming through? I never did sofa-handjobs. I was always the one who either went all the way, or didn't go at all, and all people I had had any sexual relationship with were people I knew and intended to be with for a longer period of time. What did I know about Dare? Not even his name, it seemed.

I peeked into the living room to say goodnight to him. He had taken all the blankets and piled them next to him and was talking with someone over the phone, so he just waved.

For the first time in a while, I fell asleep without much tossing and turning.

I was pretty fluid when it comes to my sexuality, if that question popped into your head. Sometimes I liked girls, sometimes I didn't. I didn't want to label myself in any way, because I didn't want any sort of stereotype claimed to my name. My sexuality was the least problem here.

There were bigger problems. Much bigger.

I woke up next day around eight and a half. Careful not to cause a lot of noise, I got dressed and went to the living room to quietly work on some of the drawings. It turned out he was already up and in the shower.

It was odd, having a stranger in my shower. Other peope have been in it, sure, but never a person I met a day before. As I already said, I wasn't the one for one night stands.

I finished a couple of sketches and checked my emails, and just as I was about to make some breakfast, he walked out of the bathroom, full Apollo, his tan skin flushed a bit and dark hair in wet coils. I would've stared if my brain let me.

"Good morning", I said.

"Not yet."

"Coffee?" He made a groan which was damn-near sexual.

"Please." He made his way to the kitchen and sat on the countertop. "Your sofa is very comfortable."

"Do I sense bitterness in your voice?" I asked, taking out two mugs. When I put the water to boil, I washed the plates from yesterday.

"Mm?" he opened his eyes, still half-asleep. Again, he rose spectacularly. "Would you rather I slept next to you?" he said in a low and sultry voice. It got my mind and heart going, and I had to close my eyes for a second to breathe in and breathe out. It confused me, because he just woke up, and managed to look so damn hot he shut my entire system down.

Because I could see it. I could see it so vividly in my mind, and if I was to judge by yesterday night, he was the best lover imaginable. The fact that he had curly hair only made matters worse. I had a thing for curly hair ever since I was small and had a crush on my kindergarten teacher, who was a black woman in her early twenties who had the curliest hair imaginable. I usually fall in love with strangers and people I haven't known for a long time. It's not just a crush, like people have told me. It's full-blown love, and it gets complicated sometimes. But that's a story for my psychologist, not this.

"I'd rather if you didn't complain", I just told him and turned away to avoid any awkward comments.

"I'm not complaining. I'm just sleepy." That he was.

"Oh yeah", I said, giving him a steaming mug. He took it from me without a word. "I have to go to work."

"Go then." His eyes seemed a bit clearer after drinking coffee. Like he was slowly waking up.

"And you'll stay here?" He shrugged. "I learnt not to let strangers in my house when I'm not home."

"Listen", he said, "if I wanted to, I dunno, steal from you or brutally murder you, I could've done that yesterday, when you left your car keys in. Or when you were sleeping. Plus, I really like it here. Might be the host." He winked, which didn't have much effect because his other eye was still closed.

He had a point, and I had no will to argue. I made some breakfast and we ate in the living room.

"What do you plan on doing all day?" I asked, out of pure curiosity.

"What do you want me doing?" he responded with a questions, stretching his spine. One quick look shouldn't hurt, my brain thought, and after that look, I was glad I had a blanket covering me. "Watch some tv, eat. Maybe call my sister. In fact, I might invite her here if that's alright."

"Sure", I said. What's one more stranger in my house, I thought.

I left for work and avoided the aforementioned shady neighbourhood. The last thing I needed was to pick up another person of the street and have a damned threeway.

I had turned in my drawings and started animating, and did that for the rest of the day. If I continued that, I'd be blind before forty. But that didn't matter to me; I liked my job and not having to change it right now was a good thing. Not really the one for changes. The last relationship I had lasted for three years.

I came home around five to Dare, and a girl I guessed was his sister.

"Hello", I said, feeling like a stranger in my own home. His sister looked terrifyingly like him, from her eyes to dark, curly hair.

"Hi", she got up. She carried herself with a certain grace Dare must have lost at some point, and she didn't have that specific scent of sex Dare had radiating around him. "I'm María. Or Mari, as you wish."

"Fox", I said, dropping my bag on the floor near my desk.

"I really appreciate you giving D a place to stay."

"His pleasure", he coughed, and Mari pretended to not have heard him.

"I don't mind. It gets a bit lonely." I looked towards the kitchen. "Anyone up for a drink?"

"Sure." I made some lemonade, and tried to be quiet to hear what they were talking.

"Listen, you should forgive her." It was Mari's voice.

"Yeah, and then what?"

"Maybe you could come home. I'm sure she'll take you in."

"That's all nice in theory, but I can't. I can't talk to her because I'll have a mental breakdown. God, I don't even want to be near her anymore." He seemed quite angry, and I decided to break them apart.

"Here", I said and put the glasses on the table. I sat on my chair and sipped from my glass, waiting for them to talk.

"Mari says the situation still isn't clear…" he said, stretching his head from side to side. "So I was hoping you'd let me stay for a couple more days."

"Sure." A thought appeared in my mind. "Not to be rude or anything, but why isn't he staying at yours?"

"We were just discussing that", she says. "Mother… has unresolved issues with D. I live with my mum, okay."

"I have unresolved issues with her", Dare sighed. "Enough about that? Yeah, thanks." He leans back and spreads his legs apart, putting one on Mari.

"Quit forcing your masculinity on me, christ." He glanced at her with a wicked grin. Looking absolutely obscene, he pushed his tongue against his cheek, and Mari broke into laughter. At that point I didn't understand anything. "I knew it? I mean, I did. I gotta go, D. Move."

He let out a painful groan and lifted his leg just enough so she could wiggle out.

"See ya later. And thanks again, Fox."

"Don't mention it." She nodded and left.

"I like her", I said and drank the rest of my lemonade. He leant against the pillow on the side of the sofa and ruffled his curly hair.

"Oh, piss off. She keeps on forcing me to… you know what, never mind, fuck that. What's the plan for tonight?"

"Well, I was kinda planning on drugging myself to sleep because I'm too hyper for authentic shut-eye today."

"That's boring. But okay. I want to see you high off prescription pills."

I rolled my eyes, but saw an opportunity for a 'subtle' way to crush my curiosity.

"But yeah. Pills. Basically the only thing keeping me alive nowadays", I said picking up Mari's glass and carrying it to the kitchen.

"Dude", he said, "me too. Just enough to keep me away from killing everyone around."

An alarm rang in my head. It would be logical to assume that he was doing drugs; most people of the same 'profession' did them. But he didn't look like it, his eyes weren't red, he wasn't slowed down, and the only reason I doubted it is because I physically saw pills in the black bag he had me fetching.

I went to the kitchen and gulped my pills down with a sip of water and headed towards the living room.

"Imma go shower", I said and stretched.

"Need help?" he said in the same voice he spoke to me the night before, and my chest hurt a bit.

"No, because this shower needs to take like ten minutes otherwise I'm going to collapse in it."

"Shame." He started going through his backpack. Which I frankly found ridiculous, because I already saw his shirt in the laundry basket. Can't fool me.

When I showered, I started feeling drowsy, so I put on a clean shirt and dropped on my bed. I didn't realise Dare was on it already, half-asleep. Since I was, too, I didn't feel like making a smart arsed comment or anything, so I covered us both and zoned out. I was lucid just enough to feel his hand reaching for mine and wrapping it around him.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

The same things happened the next day, with an addition of waking up next to him, with my hand above his head and the other one on his waist. I went to work, he watched some tv and phoned his sister, but he had been getting more and more fidgety as the evening came closer. We lay in bed that night, the same way we did the night prior, except this time I didn't need encouragement to put my arm around him.

"Listen… Fox." Here we go. He'd been preparing for this for an entire day, and it was coming out like a flood.

"Yeah?"

"Are you awake?"

"No." He didn't laugh at that, which I found worrying.

"I mean, did you take your pills?"

"No, I didn't. What's up?"

"Is Fox your real name?" His voice was quiet, and I decided that joking wasn't a good thing to do.

"Yes. Mum named me after Fox Talbot, the photographer."

There's a period of silence, and I draw lines against the exposed skin of his stomach.

"My mum named me Daría, and kicked me out of the house when I said I didn't want to have a name which doesn't match my gender."

It took me a second or two to think it through. When it sank in, I removed my hand from him to… I don't know. Comfort him? But it all made sense to me at that moment. The pills, his relationship with his mother, and the fact that his sister didn't use a pronoun not even once when addressing him.

But he figured out my sudden absence of arm as disgust and curled into a fetus-position away from me, which was not what I wanted.

"I should've told you before, I guess." His voice was very quiet, and it grabbed my heart and didn't let go. "I always say it before anything physical, but we didn't do anything and I… I forget that it's a part of my life I can't just not look back at and ignore. I'm sorry. It's alright if you want me out. I understand."

"Why would I want you out?" You see, it breaks my heart, the fact that someone once kicked him out because of something he was. What kind of a world do we live in, if people don't care about anything if your gender doesn't fit in a damned box you got the moment you walked out of the hospital as a child? I've gotten way past that. I like to consider myself a better person than that.

I returned my hand back to where it was and pulled his body back so it was against mine.

"It's fine, shh. I was just surprised. Honest to god." He was silent for a second.

"I want to tell you how it all happened."

"Okay, tell me." I nuzzled against his shoulder so that I was comfortable for his story. His chest rose and fell a couple of times before he spoke, in the most serious voice I've ever heard him.

"Since I was a kid I knew something wasn't where it was supposed to be. I have a twin brother—he was the one waiting outside my flat to force me home—and mother forced every sort of gender role upon us she could possibly think off. What Dario did, I had to do the opposite, and I hated it so much. People often speak how childhood was the best part of their lives. Obviously not for me.

My grandma from my father's Mexican side, mi abuela, she was a smart woman. She always looked after us little brats and noticed that I didn't look very happy where I was at. So she sat me down when I was nine and talked with me like I was an adult. Nobody ever spoke to me like that. They all just labeled me as tomboy and went on with their life. Not Abuela.

She, that brilliant woman, went to all sorts of doctors and psychologists to figure out how to solve my issues. All of them said that I would grow out of it and that she should just leave me, but one young psychologist, straight from college, did a doctorate on the whole gender spectrum and transgenderism thing and Abuela, who has a doctorate, mind you, simplified the text and asked me if I felt this way. I said yes, and when I was twelve, I started hormone therapy. A shitload of pills.

Mother didn't know, of course. Abuela always hated her. She found out when I was seventeen, with my first boyfriend, and he referred to me in a different gender than she was used to. She asked me about it and I came clear, told her everything. Cue a shitfest of yelling and shouting which ended with me packing my bags and moving to Abuela to the other side of the town.

Then mother decided to apologise. Her apology consisted of, 'You can come back, if you quit calling yourself a guy', and I fucking flipped out again. I have no excuses to what I said that day. I was mad, and I am sorry. I still mean every word, but I am sorry I said it out loud.

Around that time Abuela passed away. She was eighty three, she told me it was the right time for her to go, because she shaped me into a person she was so proud of." I heard the tears in his voice and I held him tighter. "Then mother said she would finance me as long as I never appeared in her house and spread my fucking opinions… I used that cash for SRS. That's it. That's the whole story. How I am broke in a flat I hate with a job I never wanted because I have to pay to be who I feel I am."

He stopped, and it seemed like none of us had the need to fill the silence.

I fell asleep with my lips against his shoulder.

The next day was Saturday, and I miraculously slept until nine. He was next to me, still peacefully asleep, so I pressed a kiss into his neck. He stretched it, making a pleased groan.

"Good morning", he said.

"Not yet." His chest moved in laughter as I turned him around. When he was facing me, he wrapped his hands around my neck, shuffled his body so that it was against mine, and kissed me.

And there were hormones, absolutely flooding my brain. I hadn't felt like that when he had his hands on me, and never with any of my past lovers. Was it his experience or my abstinence, his lips had my mind blown.

In no time, his legs were on both sides of my hips and he was on top of me.

"Baby, you wanna?" he gasped against my mouth and grabbed my waist. Before answering to tease him, I tangled my fingers into his wonderfully curly hair.

"Not now… this is fine." He parted our lips with a loud smack and looked at me, confused. "I'm not a morning person."

He looked up, inhaled deeply and sighed.

"Great, now I have to calm down." I smiled and presses a closed-mouthed kiss on his lips. "You're not helping." He gripped my shoulders, holding me in place. "No", and his voice was nothing above a moan.

"Up", I almost physically pushed him. "I have some sketches to finish."

"I have to finish, c'mon." Great pun, I'll give him that.

"Off."

With another sigh, he moved from me and sat next to me with his legs beneath him.

"Spoil sport."

"What do you want for breakfast", I asked, clearing my throat. He tasted just how you would imagine it, a first thing in the morning, with a hint of the smell of my shampoo from yesterday morning. It was absolutely brilliant and my limbs needed some time to be able to move.

"You."

I bit my lip so I wouldn't laugh. With a lot of difficulty, I pushed myself up.

The rest of the day was filled with similar dirty jokes, penises drawn all over my sketches, and so much laughter I couldn't eat, because of my stomach hurting.

When I was changing into my pajamas that evening, I could sense him behind my back, getting closer.

"I know you're here", I said, just as his hands slipped into the legs of my jeans and trailed along my thighs.

"Turn around, I want to kiss you."

I turned around, my shirt completely forgotten, and he captured my lips in the softest, slowest kiss, something I'd never expect from him.

"I noticed that you like it slow", he said, then separated our lips. "Back on the sofa. But guess what."

"You don't?"

"Nuh uh." And his lips were back on mine, tearing through my defences and making all the voices in my head mute.

No, he didn't take it slow. The handjob session was for me, because he read me so well and knew what I liked. It's in the job description, I guess. But this one was for him, and I had no problem with that.

First, he jimmied me out of my jeans, because who even uses zippers nowadays, and we fell into the bed together. His hands seemed to be in five places at once, and I had never gone that fast before. It was a rush of sweat and hands and teeth, and his instructions now and then, which I didn't mind, because he clearly knew what he was doing.

I was so glad I had soundproof walls.

I couldn't control myself. There are probably bitemarks on his body I can't explain or remember, and I'm honestly impressed I still have hair on my head.

Whoever created his body is a fucking miracleworker. I could spend weeks mapping out the edges of his torso and the curves on the inside of his thighs. It would take me days to comb out the hair on his arms and years for the curls on his head. He gave me only half an hour, and I wanted a decade.

He came shouting either my name or the word 'fuck' repeatedly.

When I followed, crashing through, and fell off whetever kind of rollercoaster he had me on, he told me in a still desperate, breathy voice,

"I love you."

And it was too quick, but I fall in love quickly anyway.

And now I'm lying on top of him, enjoying a brief moment of clarity while it still lasts and contemplating life. The events of the last few days are rushing through my brain, and I don't know or understand most of the things yet, but I know a couple of things. Firstly, Dare is staying in my house and getting a real job. I'll make sure of that. Secondly, we'll solve his family situation somehow. I don't know, maybe his mother will soften up if we show her other 'people like him' exist. And finallyI'm kicking The Plant out of my house.

This whole relationship, dare I call it that, could be heading in so many ways, and I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts.

_________________
michigan lake blue, breast cancer awareness pink, nina's purple


did u mean "my writing at 2 am"
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